Title: Symbiosis
Author: Xenith and KatVictory
Disclaimer: The X-files belong to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions, not me. I'm only borrowing the characters for now. I'll put them back when I'm done.
Rating: PG
Category: SA, Muldertorture, Scullytorture, Angst (big time)
Spoilers: Thru 7th Season Archive: Sure, especially Spookys!

Summary: "You, Fox Mulder, have the luck of a Buddy Holly, a Stevie Ray Vaughn, and the entire lot of steerage passengers aboard the H.M.S. Titanic. Your body has been invaded by equivalent of a Symbiote black widow. I will live off your passions, 'til it kills you. I'll record every grueling moment of it for you, Fox baby.

And in the process I'll get what I need to keep living. I'm sorry to do this to you, but this is how I stay alive."


Marker Date: 06-07-2000AD Archive Flag One Planet Name

(local): Earth Subject: Fox William Mulder The transmission you are receiving is the recorded report of a Symbiote assigned to this planet. That you have activated the translator and are hearing this message now, signifies you are not of our species. You are welcome to listen to this piece of the Archive and to learn about our kind.

Scattered throughout this planet, you will find many such reports, which all form a part of our archive. Sample any and all you wish to hear.

Our people are by our very nature, a people that honors the sharing of knowledge. That we Symbiotes owe our existence to sharing, we recognize the universal truth when one shares it glorifies all. So, recorded here, sharing this history, is our archivist-detailed knowledge of the carbon based life forms who so graciously shared their bodies, their lives and their world with us.



Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

You don't know this, but three days ago, your body became the new home for an alien life form, thus beginning a symbiosis that has existed between your kind and mine for almost 4 millennia.

Your part in this companionable relationship is of course the host. Our hosts provide us with a comfortable atmosphere in which to live and the necessary chemical on which we feed.

The Symbiote, in turn, helps maintain the host by manipulating his cells, keeping them running in peak condition and aiding the body's natural defense mechanism in combating disease. A Symbiote/host alliance will last, on average, for 40 years of mutually productive co-existence.

You, on the other hand, Fox Mulder, have the luck of a Buddy Holly, a Stevie Ray Vaughn and the entire lot of steerage passengers aboard the H.M.S. Titanic.

Out of the 8 million Symbiotes on this planet, you had the unbelievable misfortune to draw me. Look at the cards you were just dealt, Agent Mulder -Yep, that's right. I'm the original Dead Man's Hand.

Your body has been invaded by equivalent of a Symbiote black widow. I will live off your passions, 'til it kills you. I'll record every grueling moment of it for you, Fox baby. Should make interesting reading. And in the process I'll get what I need to keep living. I'm sorry to do this to you, but this is how I stay alive.

So, we are heading into the first chapter.

Fasten your seat belt, it's going to be a bumpy ride.


The joining occurred at Bethesda. You were there with your partner, waiting for her to finish up an autopsy. I, of course, was occupying my former host, who had already been

autopsied. I didn't enter the coroner who performed that autopsy because he wore gloves. You, of course, didn't.

Since old George Stevens, now ex-Rear Admiral and former Forensic Pathologist of the U.S.Navy was deceased, I heard none of your conversation until I entered you.

I soon gathered you had asked your partner, Agent Dana Scully, to examine the corpse of a woman who had died in her sleep. (You both are Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and were on a "case". I note that she is also a medical doctor which means that my work is going to have to be even more convincing than usual.)

Also, from here on out I'm referring to her as "her". I don't like her. At all. We do tend to a bit possessive of our host, but you got yourself a card carrying member of "Ball Breakers of America" for a partner, Mulder. I think we'll get you a medical leave A.S.A.P.

Apparently, your request that she do this bit of forensic detective work , (without looking in advance at any charts or reports on the deceased) is a game you two like to play. More on this and what I've discovered about your occupation later.

She had been autopsying the body of the old woman for almost three hours and was finishing up when you leaned against the table old Georgie was lying on.

That's when I sensed that my new mobile home had arrived, and I went in to check the place out. Now, here's the strange part, and I'm learning very quickly that with you, unusual is the norm.


You felt me enter you. In my 3000 years, this has happened, a host actually feeling me at the moment of entry, less than half a dozen times. You're strange AND unique, Fox Mulder. Almost spooky.

She glanced up, seeing you straighten, your face twisted in a blend of surprise and disgust.

Quickly, almost stumbling, you hurried over to the sink and began scrubbing your hands, rubbing frantically at the point where I'd joined up with you that soft web of skin between the thumb and index finger on your right hand, . I don't wash off that easily, and anyway, by that time, I was already inside and making myself at home.

She strolled over to the table, checking quickly to see what my ex-host had might have died of.

She had assumed you'd gotten something on you; some sort of body fluid after noticing your disgust and frantic attempts at cleansing the area. She checked because you weren't suitably attired for this bio-hazardous area and you never can tell.

"Mulder, are you okay?" she asked, leaning over the sink to watch you scrubbing your hand raw under the hottest water you could get.

"Yeah...I'm fine. Just got...something..on my hand." You continued scrubbing, almost compulsively. Skin be damned, the way you were wielding that nailbrush, you were going for blood.

"Mulder, let me take a look." She gently pulled your hand out from beneath the spray and examined it closely. Aside from the crimson rash made by your obsessive attempts at being next to godliness, the skin looked clean and whole. I pride myself on the subtlety of my invasions. "Nothing there, Mulder. Does it hurt or is it numb?"

You pulled your hand away and tucked it behind your back. "No, Scully. Nothing like that. I just got something on it. I'm okay, really."

She gave you a doubtful look but returned to my ex-host, picking up his file.

"It's pretty obvious that the shotgun blast to the head is what killed George Stevens. And I'm fairly certain that it was self-inflicted" She scanned the file and I could see her eyes tracking over the lab results. You didn't hear her sigh of relief when she discovered that George had not killed himself because he was HIV positive.

No, actually George blew his brains out because he had just received the news that for the third time in just under 3 years, he was going to have to begin yet another round of chemotherapy. My buddy George Steven had been diagnosed with, then gone into remission from, cancer three times in the two years he was my host. The disease had occurred in three separate sites.

Get the picture, Agent Mulder, of what lies ahead in our relationship? Most would assume that Admiral Stevens was a very unfortunate man to have such luck. He was a Jonah, that's true. He became my host, and I'm very, very good at what I do

.

You made an excuse and got the hell out of the morgue just as soon as you could. Your partner was waiting for us outside the men's room door, undoubtedly listening to the sound of water running during the eternity you once again began what had become a ritual. I spotted her glance at your hand, now red and bleeding, when you opened the men's' room door, but she said nothing. She didn't have to, 'that look' said it all.


I didn't figure out the details of your relationship with her until we were sitting in the hospital cafeteria and she was eyeing you, one auburn brow creeping upward toward her 'only her hairdresser' knows for sure roots.

She'd asked you why you'd had her bother autopsying the woman before we left the room, but you'd not answered. You were still somewhat shaken from perceiving my entry into your life. The look of faint disgust on her face, easily readable had you not been so distracted, told me she assumed your lack of interest on everything but your hand was squeamishness on your part. It puzzled her, yet it seems she's used to puzzling behavior from you.

"Penny for your thoughts, Mulder." She interrupted your train of thought. You stopped rubbing that offending triangle of flesh, then heaved a loud sigh.

"Huh? What was that?' "Mulder, since we were in the morgue you've been in another world. Care to share your thoughts with me?"

"Oh, I was just thinking... how unfair it is that life is so fragile it can slip through our fingers and vanish before we even realize it's fading, but death is so strong we almost always feel its shadow. I mean, I know the fight makes us stronger but..look at how George Stevens fought off cancer twice, stood up to death, battled it for his life, then killed himself instead of taking a chance at winning a third time.

Why? Why was death able to outlast his will to live?"

You were absently messaging THE SPOT again, and I saw her quick glance of notice.

"Maybe I'm getting old, Scully. I just don't see myself as indestructible anymore. I did at 25.

Well, maybe not indestructible but I wasn't jumping at shadows like I am now."

She sighed, a belated echo of your own and settled into her chair. "I know, Mulder. When I had the cancer I came to understand just how precious and fleeting life is. That's when I realized that we have to focus our what's important. I think I finally learned to appreciate and make the most of what I have: my work, my family, my faith."

"Yeah, well I was thinking maybe I might buy a sports car, y'know?" Mulder grinned but her eyes were only puzzled. She didn't understand your point.

She ended her attempt to decipher your unique mental patterns and the subject returned to the relatively simple riddle of the corpse that she'd so recently dissected.

"So, Mulder, why did you want me to autopsy that woman? She was at least 80 years old and obviously died of natural causes."

You sipped your coffee around your grin. "No, she wasn't. Scully, she was 25 years old, I saw her records. Here.." You smoothly passed her a file. Her face clouded even before she opened it, growing darker each moment that passed during her study of the pages inside.

"Mulder, this just isn't possible. Even if she had progeria it would show up in her medical history. Something must be wrong with the identification of the body. This can't be the same woman."

"I double-checked that the correct dental records came with the body. You id'd her yourself." You stopped mid sentence and grew suddenly still.

"Mulder, what's wrong?" She gazed at you anxiously.

"I...just feel weird, that's all. Like something's not right inside...no, no pain or anything. I just...feel ...strange."

Well, no wonder. When one of my kind settles in, we have to spread out. My tendrils soon incorporate themselves along all the nerves of the body, and that can cause some unusual sensations in the host. But normally, it is very subtle and not noticed by my new host


Mulder, you are one sensitive guy. Ours should be a very pleasurable relationship, for me at least.

Scully frowned at you then announced, "Mulder, come on back into the M.E.'s office. I want to examine you."

You protested, but she won. Does she always win all the arguments? Must do something about that. She led you, almost but not quite by the hand, to the morgue office and began to examine you. I had no worries, of course. I've been fooling people for 3000 years. Your blood pressure was optimal, your heartbeat was regular and every test she gave you drew a textbook response.

At the end of this hastily planned but thorough physical she was the epitome of relief, but you, however, were still troubled.

"I'm sorry, Scully, but I just can't describe it any better. I just feel...weird."

"Weird. Is that a clinical term?" She folded her hands across her chest and gave you a solemn look, one brow raised.

"Mulder, you don't have to attend autopsies, you know. I can give you the reports myself."

"Scully, I've been an FBI agent for 10 years. I am not developing a weak stomach this late in life..." You suddenly ran out of steam as the import of your defiant claim hit you square in the face. Yep, Fox ol' pal, you aren't a spring chicken any more, but hey who's counting?

After the first 1000 years time starts to blur anyway.

As is customary and in order to better document my observations, I will include, along with my archival account, excerpts from Fox Mulder's journal.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER

June 15, 2000

That I am basically a loner by nature is not something I need to document here. That my inner thoughts and musings are being shared with no other human being, but are always related here in these pages which can claim with me as its sole readership, speaks for itself.

What I'm struggling to understand, the point I'm pondering as I write this installment, is my concern over what exactly is causing my normal self awareness to be so askew.

I grew up with the knowledge that if I did not take care of myself, no one would. So I have always been able to say, with the greatest of confidence, I know Fox Mulder. I am completely aware of how each cell in my body should feel when all is running smoothly in the Mulder machine.

Right now, I can tell that I am experiencing some sort of malfunction, but I cannot tell what that might be. It is this aspect which troubles me the most, for my entire life I have been able to trouble shoot my body accurately. This ability to gauge my limits has enabled me to keep working long past the point of exhaustion.

Something is definitely wrong. The problem is, it's something I've never dealt with before and I don't even know where to begin to fix it. I don't know what's happening to me. I feel strange, distant, disconnected from myself.

I feel like something alien is taking root inside me, growing into my very being, subverting my body to suit its own ends. If I had any recent memory lapses, I would suspect that I had been infected with the black oil. However, my memories are complete and I'm not in a cryogenic freezer, so that's not the problem.

Part of my agitation is that I feel as though my ability to communicate with the only other person who can truthfully say they know me has virtually disappeared. Usually, the so called normal methods of interaction between my partner and myself are not even necessary.

Scully and I never had to suffer through one lousy seminar to learn to achieve this almost symbiotic rapport we share. What she and I have is all natural, purely instinctive and didn't come from any stupid office furniture tower building workshop.

But right now, I haven't told her that I *know* that something is really happening to me. I can't articulate whatever this is that I'm feeling to Scully.

I did try to tell her. She didn't believe me.

"Mulder, there are absolutely no clinical signs of illness in you," Scully laid her stethoscope down on the desk as I was putting my shirt back on.

"Your blood pressure is normal, no heart abnormalities, no neurological deficits and you have no objective symptoms of any problem.

Even the bruising on your hand is fading. And the only complaint you can make is your subjective feeling that something has invaded you." She stood, arms akimbo. "Mulder, I have news for you, *every* human being is a host for a variety of bacteria and enzymes, not to mention the occasional virus. We are definitely not alone, we just pay no attention to it."

"Scully, It began at the Coston autopsy, in my hand...when I got something on it or in it. I could feel a sort of tiny prickling ripple which ran up my arm, then throughout my body. My hand still hurts, that is the focal point of this...thing. " I held up my hand and she examined it yet again.

"Mulder, all I see is bruising, caused by your scrubbing at it so violently. There is no dryness, patchiness or evidence of a chemical burn. At your request, I biopsied the skin and found nothing: no chemicals, no cancer, nothing. There's nothing there to find."

I felt uncharacteristically stubborn. When would she ever learn to trust my instincts?

God, they'd saved our lives a dozen times!

"Scully, I don't have anything objective that you haven't already seen. I don't *feel* right, something's off. Please, can't we do some more testing?"

Scully sighed. "Mulder, I took the blood sample you gave me yesterday and sent it to a medical lab. Here are the results: normal, normal and normal. You don't have so much as a hangnail. And you didn't pick up any new bug from Amber Coston's body, you never touched it. Have you considered stress as a cause for your feeling?"

I just stared at her. "You mean you think I'm finally losing it?"

She hemmed and hawed but finally said, "Well, Mulder, it wasn't so long ago you were hospitalized because of that alien rubbing. But the new CT scan shows normal brain activity, so it's not that. But the entire experience was stressful for you." She paused and looked at me compassionately. "You were dying, Mulder.

That's a life-changing event. You're just reacting to it now."

I had finished with the shirt and was finishing with my tie. "If that's the most that you can say, Doctor Scully, then all I can reply is that you are wrong. This isn't post traumatic stress disorder and I'm not burning out. This is real." I grabbed my coat. "Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going home."

I caught Scully's glance at the clock: 3:30 p.m.

on a Wednesday afternoon. Here eyebrows raised, but I didn't give a damn and slammed the door on my way out.

The feeling of, well, possession was stronger than ever as I went to my car. And with it I felt a wave of dizziness and a strong feeling of unreality. I stood swaying on the concrete until it passed, then I got into the car and drove myself home.

Scully's been blinded by her own insistence on objective evidence to the fact I truly know that something is terribly wrong here inside of me.

This sense, this knowing, started that day in the morgue, when Scully was doing the autopsy on Amber Coston.

My ability to work hasn't been affected; when would I let any type of illness, body or mind ever do that? So, until I have something more concrete, or at least have found some clear, reasonably lucid way of describing my symptoms, I'm not going to bother Scully with any of this.

It's there, this..something. Right now. I know it's taken up residence inside of me. Now and then I sense it traveling along the network of my nerves, sometimes the maze of veins and arteries. It as though some silent ghostly entity is moving about my body, like a spirit wandering though a house haunting the various rooms. I don't like to admit this, but I am afraid.


July 7, 2000

We got another body, similar to Amber Coston's. Michael Gillette, DOB 10/13/62, had recently retired from the Alexandria P.D. at the rank of detective. He was found dead in his bedroom and, to all appearances, he died of old age. He was exactly one year younger than I am, and now he's dead.

Scully and I went to the scene and surveyed it carefully. Mrs. Gillette was there and gave us what little she knew. She and the kids had gone to visit her folks over the weekend. When they got back, she found him dead, looking wizened and old beyond his years.

When she told me his date of birth, I looked at him more closely. He left behind a wife and two children, both under the age of ten. He had a house, two golden retrievers and an SUV. In short, he had the life I have longed for, but never have managed to acquire. I sighed and leaned over the body, which had the appearance of a man of at least eighty years.

"What do you make of this, Scully?" I asked my partner. She was busy studying the body, carefully examining the wrinkling and other signs of aging.

"I just don't know, Mulder. I'll have to do an autopsy to be sure, but he seems to display all the same symptoms as in Amber Coston. I went back and double-checked the labs for her and I can find no cause for the accelerated aging not even a sign of any buildup, such as the 'heavy salt' we were exposed to."

She ran a gloved hand over the corpse's chest.

"Hey, what's this?" She removed a shiny silver religious medal from the palm of his hand. She held it up to the light. "Amber Coston had one of these in her effects."

"So what's so unusual about that? You wear a cross yourself." I examined the medallion. It wasn't the usual Christopher medal I'm used to seeing. The saint it celebrated was...St. Jude.

"The patron saint of lost causes..." I murmured.

Scully nodded. "An unusual medal. I don't think I've ever seen one quite like this. And it's heavy. I think it's solid silver. Maybe we can trace it."

She called Mrs. Gillette over to ask her about the medal.

"Oh no, I never saw Michael with any kind of religious jewelry. He was an agnostic. I have no idea where that came from." She turned as a little boy, maybe five years old, ran into the room. While she was soothing him and leading him away, I was struck by the incongruity of the situation.

"Scully, this guy was a year younger than I am and he was retired."

"Yeah? So?" She gave me a look that said 'Mulder, you're cracking up on me'.

"Nothing, Scully. It's just that he was too young to die of old age. And he had so much to live for: wife, kids..."

"A normal life, you mean," Scully sighed.

"Mulder, I've stopped reaching for normal.

These days all I hope for is a clean motel bathtub at the end of my day." She turned away and began conferring with the detective that had just entered the room.

Is that all she has left to hope for? Have I reduced her to this? She used to fight, struggle for the hope of a 'normal' existence. Now, has she chosen this life for herself or has she given up?

The spot on my hand is still bothering me. It has taken on an odd brownish color that I find disturbing. When we got back to the office, Scully caught me rubbing it again.

"If you do that any more, Mulder, you'll just bruise it worse," she said and turned back to her file. I heard her tone, had read her expression.

I'm the living, breathing definition of obsessive.

Paranoia is my middle name. I just might be sliding headlong into hypochondria and that's such an unattractive affliction. Even though Scully appears to be currently lacking most of her normally skillful perception, she has been sharing with me useful nuggets of information that comes from her vast medical expertise.

Now let me see if I heard this right. If I rub this dark spot with greater frequency, it'll bruise more severely. Wow, imagine that. She's probably right. Seriously, I am keeping my eye on it. Biopsy, be damned! It just doesn't look right to me.

Another thing I'm not mentioning to Scully are the strange dreams I've been having. I hear a woman's voice in my head, speaking to me.

She tells me her name is 'Miriam', then her voice drops down to a soft whisper. When I can't understand what she's trying to say, I start to shout at her, begging her to speak louder, but she just continues to murmur, below my hearing.

Somehow I sense that I must discover what she has to tell me. I know that it's vital I hear what she has to say.

There's probably some Freudian meaning behind it all, but haven't got a clue what it might be. Naturally, being it's my subconscious and that we are talking about Freud here, the interpretation is bound to be chock full of fascinating insights into my sexuality. Scully would tell me that I've been watching too many porn videos and I'm dreaming about them now.

Do I still have "Miriam makes Manhattan"? I think I loaned it to Frohike


ARCHIVAL ENTRY

Entry no: 2000/7/7 Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

I've begun to make myself at home. It certainly is strange that Fox can sense my movements.

Well, it only adds spice to the whole proceeding.

I have begun to alter the cells at my point of entry, encouraging the growth of melanoma on the webbing of his hand. I do find this cancer useful.. It's one of my favorites because it metastasizes so easily, but begins so simply.

They never know that there's a problem until it's too late. It is truly a biological work of art.

Of course, I delayed it until his doctor friend was fed up with examining him. I am no novice at the art of self-camouflage, and cannot afford to be found.

I find Fox's journal entry troubling. Can he actually hear me? Surely not. Nobody has heard me in over 2500 years.

I will continue to observe my host and record his reactions to the disease which awaits him.

I should add a note about the nature of my life form, and about my nature in particular.

Symbiotes are genetically adapted to reside happily within a host, gathering data and living off the body's waste chemicals. This normally results in an abnormally long and healthy life for our hosts, because we thrive on such substances as "bad" cholesterol, alcohol in the blood stream, carcinogens and other pollutants from the environment. Accordingly, Symbiotes chronicle long, healthy, happy lives and devote themselves to details of cultural and historical events experienced by their hosts.

I am different. For one thing, history and culture began to pall 1500 years into my long life. I began to crave excitement, the drama of human terror. I became especially curious about the human experience of death and how it affects those about to die.

Then the 20th century came along, and with it modern chemotherapy drugs. My reactions to chemo drugs in my host's system is akin to that of a human on heroin. After a host of mine developed cancer, I discovered that I was hooked, both on her terror and on the drugs. I needed more.

I ensured that she survived the first three bouts of cancer, but she succeeded in killing herself during the fourth. This pattern has been repeated through multiple hosts over the past years. With the death of each new home, I find myself craving even more drugs and drama.

I am already thrilling to his unease. Admittedly, he's the first in a long time capable of sensing my presence. Thank goodness for this modern age which believes nothing which cannot be measured by their very primitive science.


Entry no: 2000/8/4 Report of: #818081957/Fox Local

Name: Miriam

Today I accompanied you to the doctor's office.

You quietly made an appointment with a dermatologist, and lied to your partner to keep your appointment today. She thinks you're getting your teeth cleaned.

The dermatologist examined your hand carefully, then took a biopsy. He told you that it was probably nothing serious, you only have a mild, bruise-like discoloration after all. But it's always safer to check these things. I try not to mar my hosts physically if it can be avoided while getting what I need.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
August 4, 2000

This morning when I got to the office, she was whistling as she replaced some files in the drawer.

"My, aren't we bright and chipper this Friday," I commented as I entered the office. "Got plans for the weekend?"

She smiled at me, a full 1000 watts. "Yes, as a matter of fact I do. I'm going to the Symphony tomorrow night. They're playing Copeland's Appalachian Spring, I can hardly wait."

She looked so light and carefree that I couldn't help but beam back at her. "So, you going with your mom? Can you use an extra? I've always loved that piece."

Her face fell a little bit. "Uh, Mulder, I'm going on a date. With a guy."

I could feel the ground slipping under me. "Oh?

With who?" Yeah, Scully, what kind of lowlife is taking you out tomorrow? And where can I find him to kick his ass?

"His name is Philip Huffman, and he owns a bookstore. I met him in church." She couldn't meet my eyes. Small wonder, she'd see the betrayal glowing there. Tamp it down, Mulder, don't let her see she's hurt you.

"Oh. Probably a good Catholic, huh? I bet your mom likes him." I was watching her closely, trying to read her.

"Mom hasn't met him yet, but yeah, he's a Catholic. He runs a religious bookstore, as a matter of fact, called Ave Maria Books." She looked up and waited for me to make the snide remark. I just turned away and picked up a file off my desk.

"Oh, well I hope you two have a good time," I said as though she'd announced she was having her home sprayed for ants.

"Thanks," she said, and moved back to the file cabinet. She said nothing when I told her that I had a 3:00 dentist appointment and didn't react when I told her I wasn't coming back to the office today.

Scully's got a date tonight. I don't know how I feel about that. She does have a right to her own life, after all, and it's not like she's romantically involved with anybody... I mean, I don't have any rights to her time, do I?

I went to the dermatologist that Byers recommended. Dr. White said that the discoloration could be cancer, or could be nothing. He took a biopsy and will notify me of the results.

August 14, 2000

Not what I'd call a 'good' day. First, Scully came in smiling and relaxed for the second Monday in a row. She has that glow around her that says she's getting some and loving it.

I've been trying to bite back sarcastic comments for a week, and it's getting tougher and tougher.

Damn, she has the right to her own life but how could she date this relic salesman! She told me the name of the bookstore, so I had to check it out.

The bell on the door jingled as I walked in. The interior smelled of candle wax and incense. I wandered over to the book display, past the rosaries (encasing genuine Lourdes water) and took a quick look at the crosses set with real chunks of stone from Bethlehem. I glanced at them. They looked like pea gravel.

While I scanned the back cover of a book by Thomas Merton, I heard 'Phil' greet a customer.

"Why Mrs. Mackey, how are you these days?"

he greeted her effusively.

"Not so well, Mr. Huffman. My arthritis is getting worse. The doctor says he can't do much for me."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. You know, that when human cures fail you must rely on the Great Physician for help. Have you tried some miraculous water from the shrine at Lourdes? I have some in the back.." His voice dipped in a persuasive croon.

"Really? You have water from Our Lady's shrine at Lourdes? How much?"

Twenty five bucks later, she left with what looked like half an ounce of tap water in a vinegar cruet. I shook my head at human gullibility, then quickly ducked behind the book display as the doorbell tinkled and I heard a familiar voice.

"Phil, are you ready? The restaurant starts to fill at lunch time." I could see Scully move forward and plant a kiss on his lips. He kissed her back, harder. Tongue.

I gritted my teeth and tried to keep from putting my hand through the cardboard book display.

"Almost done here. I have one more customer, then I'll turn the shop over to Sylvia. Go and wait for me in the car, sweetheart. I'll be right out."

Sweetheart. He called her sweetheart. That scummy, lowlife, bastard who peddles water to suffering little old ladies called my *partner* sweetheart.

Then that jerk had the nerve to come up to me and ask if he could be of any assistance.

"No thanks, I was just leaving," I snarled and left. I did take care to make sure that Scully didn't see me.

I was still fuming this morning when Scully breezed into the office, wearing that "I had the orgasm of my life last weekend" look. All I could do was look at her, then quietly go back to my work.

An hour later the phone rang and the day got even better.

"Mulder," I answered crisply. Can't let Scully know I'm upset.

"Agent Mulder, this is Dr. White. Your test results have come back. I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but it's positive for melanoma. I've scheduled surgery for you on the 16th at 2:00 p.m."

"Whaa...what?" I slumped back in my chair.

"It's cancerous? How serious?"

"I believe it's stage 0 at this point, that means it hasn't spread to any other parts of the body.

This is the least serious type of melanoma, but you are at risk for a recurrence."

"What are my treatment options?" I could see Scully's ears perk up at that. She looked up at me worriedly.

"Surgery for now, and monitoring to make sure it doesn't recur."

"All right, surgery it is. This will be at your office? Fine. I'll be there at 2 p.m. on Wednesday." I put the phone back into its cradle, then studied my hand intently.

"Mulder? What's wrong?" Scully's anxious voice traveled across the room.

"Nothing you need be concerned about. Just some skin cancer I need to have removed." I held up my hand and showed her the discolored spot. "It's a melanoma; the biopsy results just came back."

Her mouth formed a silent 'o'. "Mulder, I'm so sorry I doubted you..."

I got up and grabbed my suit jacket. "Yeah, well, there's nothing new in that, is there?" I left the office and Scully behind.


Entry no: 2000/9/10
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

I must apologize, but I've been remiss in my duties as an archivist. However, life with you, Fox, has been pretty busy of late. I am encouraging an emotional distance between the two of you by tweaking your brain chemistry a bit. Fortunately, Scully's new relationship is helping things along as well.

Lunch with Phil three times this week, huh?

Somehow yogurt with bee pollen and you just doesn't appeal to her anymore. Well, never mind. We'll find you some nice woman who doesn't ask too many questions. From your conversations with Scully, I gather that you have a long and checkered medical history, and the apparent ability to survive just about any physical trauma. Very good. You and I will have a long and (for me) satisfying relationship.

Because of *her* sharp eyes, I am moving a bit more slowly with you than I normally do.

You are beginning to have bouts of nausea and your appetite has dropped off. But since *she* no longer lunches with you, she doesn't notice.

I must admit that you do have an interesting life. Your newest case is very

entertaining. Another body has been found, dead of old age like the others. This victim was a 14 year old gymnast named Teresa Scartini.

You pulled yourself out of bed with Scully's knock on the door of your apartment.

"God, Mulder, you look awful," she blurted, eyeing you up and down. You have lost weight, more than you've noticed.

You leaned against the door, preventing her from walking in. "Yeah. The flu will do that to you. What's up?"

I could see her noticing your leaning wasn't the nonchalant variety; rather the doorframe was keeping you from falling over. I gave your blood sugar a quick boost and you straightened up.

"Another body's been found, just like the other two. But this time it's a child."

You grimly nodded and moved away from the doorway, wandering into your bedroom to find a suit that wasn't too big. I could hear her rustling around the apartment, taking in the messiness and general air of illness.

"Mulder, maybe you shouldn't come out on this one. You're still sick." She called from the living room.

"No. I'm fine," you said through gritted teeth. You walked carefully from the bedroom, preventing yourself from swaying by sheer willpower. She gave you a quick look, then followed us out the door.


The 'crime scene' I think you call it, was surreal. We entered a room that was the epitome of 'sugar and spice, and everything nice'. Little girls are made of bedrooms like the one you surveyed. Sunlight filtered through the frilly, pink curtains, to shine upon a pink rag rug. Sitting in front of the window was a French provincial style desk.

The computer sitting atop this study area was new and fairly impressive. Beside it was an open text book, a number 2 pencil rested in the fold, holding the place where study had stopped the night before.

The pale pink walls were adorned with posters of the Backstreet Boys, Brad Pit and one lone announcement of the frightening teen years that would have come, a Death Metal band, disgustingly called "Dismembered Fetus".

Your stomach began to churn with the knowledge that somewhere among all this sweetness and innocence was darkness and cruelty, the body of a child. Scully was waiting for you beside the canopy bed. Lying beneath the ruffled bedspread (pink) was a small body, dressed in baby doll pajamas (blue, thank goodness). The face was wrinkled beyond recognition.

You started when you saw her, quickly glancing away, once more taking in a bedroom that could have been Samantha's. (Yes, I know about her. I've discovered a lot about you during my tenancy).

Agent Scully began a quick examination, when you heard a light 'clunk'. You knelt on the floor and spotted a coin-shaped object that had just rolled under the bed. There among the dust-bunnies you found the now familiar silver medallion of St. Jude.

"Think there might be a pattern here?" you commented dryly, carefully handing her the medallion with your gloved hand.

She looked at it closely. "Yes, it's the same medal that was found on Amber Coston and Michael Gillette. All of the...Mulder?"

She had turned to confer with you but found herself speaking to empty air.

I'd heard her words through the door of the bathroom where you were busily losing your breakfast.

"Mulder?" When the soft tap on the door wasn't answered she entered and watched, worried frown in place, your final (from the toes) moaning retch. Still too shaky even to stand, you rested your head on the toilet seat, taking in deep, gasping breaths.

Her hand was cool against your neck, "Mulder, you still have the flu. Let me drive you home."

All you could do was nod, your eyes closed, the padded ring still all that was keeping you from sinking face down on the floor. She was still standing in the doorway, quietly waiting when you finally were able to lever yourself upright, using the bathroom sink.

Scully had stepped aside to let you pass when her cell rang. "We'll go in a moment, Mulder. Let me get this. Scully...Oh hi, Phil..."

She retreated into the bathroom, shutting the door for privacy. Propping yourself against the wall to wait, you couldn't help overhearing every word. Her voice had taken on a musical quality, making it clearly evident that she was very, very glad to hear from him.

*She thinks she likes him.* I gently encouraged those impressions in your mind. * She thinks she likes him because she really, really does, Mulder. She likes him a lot. I'll bet lots more than she does you.* I whispered these thoughts into your subconscious.

Don't worry though, she isn't right for you anyway. The quicker we can get this bitch away from you, the clearer my field of operation becomes.

I gave you another jolt to the blood sugar, so you would start feeling better. Of course that fueled your jealousy-inspired anger a bit, too. A dark, brooding cloud had swallowed you up by the time she came through the door. You turned, just as she was putting away the cell phone and she greeted you with a broad, sunny smile. "Okay, Mulder, why don't I drive you home now?"

Seeing her happiness made the rain just come down that much harder on your parade." "No, Scully, I'm fine. There are a few things I want to look at first," Your reply was cold and an icy front moved into the pink bedroom. For the next hour you resolutely conducted a thorough and detailed examination of the scene, politely but firmly cutting off any and all suggestions from her that you might not be fit for duty.

By the time you were quietly certain you would die from sheer nausea, you opened your cell phone and called a cab. She heard your request and with a puzzled frown walked over to your side. " Mulder, call back and cancel.

I told you I'd take you."

Your face had frozen into a blank, inscrutable mask, "We're going opposite directions, it would be a waste of time."

That settled the matter, until the taxi pulled up in the drive. She followed you outside.

"Mulder, I don't mind driving you home." A faint edge sharpened her tone and she eyed you with growing suspicion.

"That's just the point, Scully. I'm fine and I don't need you hanging over me. You go ahead and do the autopsy. I'll go home and write my report. And give my best to Phil."

Your last view out the back of the taxi was Dana Scully, standing dumbfounded on the driveway in front of the Scartini home, watching you drive off into the sunset.

Bravo.


Entry no: 2000/9/11
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

You appeared at work, bright and early this Monday morning. I couldn't help admiring how neatly you were dressed, how calm, composed, and collected you seemed even though you hadn't eaten anything since lunch yesterday. You were the picture of J. Edgar's finest, even though you'd spent half the night in the bathroom because even the ginger ale wouldn't stay down.

Controlling your nausea manfully, you greeted Scully with a cool glance as she settled into her area with her morning coffee.

"Mulder, I've been thinking about those religious medals. They really are unusual, and we might be able to trace the killer using them."

"So you do think that this was murder? I'm surprised," you commented, with just an edge of sarcasm to your tone. "I thought for sure you'd find that a virus or something caused all this."

She frowned, but refused to be baited. "I'm not ruling that out, but since the medals were found with the bodies it's either a case of a contagious disease or a purposeful act by somebody. Either way we locate the disease carrier or the murderer."

"So, where are you going with this?"

"Phil knows about religious jewelry; why don't we ask him about these medallions?"

She seemed surprised when you exploded.

"What? That creepy relic-peddler? Scully, the only religious artifacts he's familiar with come in plastic and have Hong Kong stamped on the bottom!"

Her face froze and she reached into her desk drawer for her car keys. "I'm going out to consult with him, Mulder. You can either come with me or stay here. You decide." She was halfway out the door before you grudgingly followed her.

I think I'll let Mulder tell the rest of what happened. The man does have a way with words.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
September 11, 2000

Phil Huffman is a pompous, egotistical, manipulating, womanizing asshole. I can't believe that I let her talk me into going to that idiotic bookstore. I got to finally meet Phil and can safely say that I hated him on sight. If he were a dog, he'd be a poodle.

He looked even more down at heels today than he did the last time I was in the store. He didn't remember me, thank goodness.

He was at the counter when we came in, wearing a Sears Roebuck heather tweed jacket with patches on the elbows. To look even more professorial, he was smoking a pipe.

Give me a break. His brown hair is blow-dried in a 'do' that barely hid his bald spot. That is, if it's his own hair at all.

Scully just simpered up to him. "Phil, this is my partner, Agent Fox Mulder."

"Glad to meet you, Fox," Phil reached out a clammy hand and shook mine. I tightened my grip and was gratified to see his face whiten a bit.

"Call me Mulder," I replied and watched him surreptitiously rub his hand.

"Oh, well, I'm Phil to my friends," he announced with a smarmy smile. "I'm happy to do anything I can to help you two out. Are these the medals, Dana?"

'Dana'. He called her Dana. I know how he likes to help Dana. That's why she simpers and smiles at him.

"Yes, here they are." 'Dana' set three transparent evidence bags on the counter.

Phil looked the medals over carefully. He seemed impressed.

"These are very unusual and are actually quite rare. They were created and sold during the last century by an order of Spanish nuns in California. These medallions were often given to supporters of the convent who made generous donations to the order. I don't think I've seen more than two in my career. "

"Do you know where the order is based? How would we contact them?" Scully had her notebook out, eagerly listening to every pearl of wisdom.

"Oh, you can't contact them. The order died out in 1900 when the last nun passed away.

They had a convent in the San Joaquin Valley, near Sacramento, but they've been gone a very long time."

It was while Phil was expounding on this ex-order of nuns that the world began to spin. I felt a strange confusion as I tried to follow what Scully was saying. I felt...foggy, confused, absent. Brain-fog, that's what it was. I couldn't concentrate for a moment. I could see Scully's lips moving but couldn't take in the meaning.

"Isn't that right, Mulder? Mulder?" Scully's eyes narrowed with concern.

I shook my head to clear it and said in a monotone, "Yeah, yeah...that's right. Excuse me a moment, I need some air..." As I walked out to the car I could hear Scully explaining to Phil about my flu bug.

This is the strangest flu bug I've ever had.

It really is the flu, isn't it?

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
September 14, 2000

Well, I'm having my usual run of good luck.

I finally saw a doctor yesterday, having gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired. He took blood and just gave me the results.

I have Hepatitis C.

Since this is a blood-borne illness I was advised that I either got it from a tainted transfusion pre-1992 or shared a needle or sex with somebody infected. Well, the sex is out. Needle? Not unless Cancerman and his minions re-use dirty needles. Not like them. I told the doc that it was probably the appendectomy I had in 1990; I know they gave me a transfusion then. Hepatitis sometimes stays quiet, but not dormant, for years before it's discovered.

How it's gone undetected in my blood during my physicals is a question no one could answer but, it is just sterling proof that excrement occurs,

particularly to Fox W. Mulder.

And it gets happier. I've had this for some time and have developed cirrhosis of the liver. We're starting treatment next week with Interferon. I read the card about possible side-effects, and apparently the treatment will give me the same set of physical problems I just went to the doctor for, more mad toilet bowl dashes, as well as those perennial favorites: muscle aches, headaches, depression, anxiety and hair loss(!).

But the thing that upsets me most, that totally cheeses me off more than anything else is that when I phoned Scully tonight, to give her the news, she wasn't home. It's a Thursday night after 9 p.m. She's *always* home on Thursday night.

Maybe she is at home. Maybe they're doing it and the phone is off. Maybe his hands are all over her white skin and he's...no, this makes me way too mad. She has a right to a life of her own, I've told her that more times than I can count.


Later

12:30 a.m. She's still not home. She's out with him. She's making love to him.

That balding, seedy, greasy little man is fucking my Scully, I know it.

She's calling his name in that soft tone she uses. I can't get the pictures of them out of my mind; I can see them writhing together, sweating...geez...

September 15, 6:00 a.m.

I finally got Scully on the phone and the first words out of my mouth were "Where the Hell were you? I called you at 9:30, at 12:30 and at 2:00 a.m. and you weren't home!"

"Mulder, since when have you become my mother?" she said coldly. "I was out and where I was is none of your business. Now what do you want?"

By that time I was so pissed that I could barely get the words out. "Nothing. Nothing important," and hung up. I waited for her to call me back and demand what was wrong.

She didn't. I guess I really pissed her off, but that's okay because she pissed me off too.

9:00 a.m.

I called Skinner and requested a medical leave.

"Of course, I'm sorry to hear about your illness. I assume that Agent Scully knows about this? She'll have to be tested." he asked crisply. She'll just love that fact.

Insinuating we either shared needles or...yes, she'll love that.

"Well, no sir, I haven't advised her yet. Could you tell her? Otherwise, I'd prefer you keep this confidential."

There was silence on the other end of the line. "Agent, is there something between you and Agent Scully that I should know about?

Your partnership doesn't seem to be up to its usual...er..form."

"No sir, there's nothing 'between' Agent Scully and I. Nothing at all. I'll keep you posted on my condition." I hung up the phone and reflected on the simple truth I'd just told him. There really is nothing between Scully and I, and anything I might have thought was there is purely wishful thinking and imagination on my part. I feel like such an idiot.

2 p.m.

The phone has been ringing off the hook today. I listened to the first two messages Scully left, then got mad and threw the answering machine against the wall. Now the phone just rings.

4 p.m.

Scully was here, oh frabjous day.

I heard 'her' knock on the door; funny how you learn those things. I opened it and she was there, white faced and determined.

"Mulder, what's wrong? Skinner told me about your illness. You haven't answered your phone all day."

"Yeah, well, I'm just dealing with the news, you know?" I stood there in the doorway, daring her to say more. She tried.

"I know it's hard having an illness like this..." She could see my cold expression but tried again. "Mulder, if there's anything I can help with..."

I broke in. "No, I'm fine, really. I'm just going to take some time off and rest, do the treatment. I'll be okay. You told me yourself when you had cancer that you had to face it by yourself, that you had to make the journey alone. I'm just going to take it a day at a time." With that I quietly closed the door in her face.

I wish I could say that I feel triumph or vindication. Instead I just feel empty.

And sick.


Entry no: 2000/09/21
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

You have begun Interferon therapy and it's making you feel worse (if possible) than you did before treatment. Sorry about that, but I must admit that I've never felt more alive than I have with you as my host. There is something intoxicating about the depth and strength of your emotions.

Agent Scully has called several times daily all week. You have grudgingly returned her calls and given short, monosyllabic responses to her questions about your condition. What is it about the phrase "I'm fine" that sets her off so? She seems to get angry when you tell her that.

Of course she doesn't believe you, but she seems to be getting the message that you will not be any more forthcoming about how you really do feel. And so your conversations with her are becoming shorter and shorter.

This is fine with me, naturally. I am adding to your feelings of betrayal and resentment.

You are so wonderfully sensitive that I am able to project visions in your mind, tweak your imagination as it were.

You have been thinking of all the provocative positions Scully and Phil might be indulging in during their bouts of passionate lust. I'll say this for you, Fox, while nausea does tend to aid me in my ability to make you punish yourself in this visual manner, it does little for your imagination. Surely you can do better than the fantasies you've been indulging.

Today I feel an understandable surge of victory. Agent Scully, instead of calling, stopped by.

You were crouched next to the toilet, where you'd been for the past 45 minutes, afraid to go too far from it. You didn't hear her knock at the door, or the rattle when she tried her key and found it didn't fit.

You did hear the pounding as she forcibly kicked on the door and yelled at the top of her lungs, "Mulder! It's me, Scully! Are you all right in there? Mulder!! Answer me!"

You dragged yourself away from the toilet and hauled your body upright then staggered to the front door. "I'm coming, I'm coming!"

you called as loudly as you could.

You opened the door and Scully gasped when she saw you. You hadn't shaved in two days and wore your favorite Knicks t-shirt, now two sizes too big for you.

You looked at Scully with tired but hostile eyes. "Hi Scully. What brings you to my bed of pain?"

She jerked like she'd been hit but tried to smile at you. "I wanted to bring you up to date on the Coston case. Can I come in?"

"Sure, fine, whatever," you said and opened the door.

She said nothing as she picked her way through the messy living room strewn with half empty bottles of ginger ale, t-shirts and other garbage. She opened the file and spread it on the coffee table.

"We've had a break in the case," she began brightly, obviously trying to ignore her reaction to your appearance. "It seems that the last nun in the order of St. Jude died of premature aging, just like our victims.

There's a small archive at the Sacramento Diocese with the remaining effects and papers of the order. I have a letter from my local bishop allowing me access, so we'll be flying out to California tomorrow."

You brightened at that phrase; you've missed work these past days. "Okay, I'll pack a bag..."

Her face fell. "Mulder, I'm sorry but you aren't going. You're on medical leave, not active duty. Um...Phil is coming along, at his own expense, as an advisor."

You sat quietly for a second, letting it sink in. "Let me get this straight...

That...Bible-salesman...is going on this trip as your *partner* to investigate OUR case?" You kept your voice steady and cold, I give you credit for your control. I was zapping as much adrenaline at you as I could. Come on, Mulder, give it to her! "So what you're really saying is that you and Phil are going to have a nice California trip, enjoy the honeymoon accommodations maybe?"

She bit her lips and tried to control her temper, then sighed. "Mulder, you know that I've been dating Phil for a while and you're probably wondering what the attraction is."

She looked up and met your eyes. "For the past 7 years I've lived, breathed, eaten the X Files. They have consumed my life, my dreams, my future and I seemed powerless to carve out a space just for myself. And then, there's you..." Her voice faded away. She cleared her throat and began again.

"Since I joined the X Files I've had no romantic relationships, Mulder. None.

You... have occupied my days, my thoughts, my fears, my worries. Your quest has been mine and I've followed you into nightmares I could never have imagined. Your passion has consumed me and your grief for Samantha has motivated me. I'd begun to wonder where I ended and you began and it frightened me.

Then I met Phil, an ordinary, simple, uncomplicated man. I...don't know what to say. Mulder, I love you...I love you...but you are all I know. Forgive me. You're a part of me but I can't breathe just now."

You just stood there and looked at her but I could feel your heart break. You took a ragged breath and replied softly, "Scully, you know that I've been telling you for years to just get the Hell away from me and save yourself. I'm... glad you've finally come to your senses. I want for you...the life you deserve, free and unencumbered." You looked down at your hands, studying your whitened knuckles. You didn't look up and said in a flat monotone, "Have a good time in California, Scully. Let me know how the case goes."

Her eyes were swimming with tears but you didn't notice them, you were locked in your own pain. "Mul...Mulder..." She whispered, then reached out a hand, but you weren't seeing her.

"It's okay Scully, we'll always be friends.

You know that. I guess I should have expected that you and Phil were getting serious. I...have to go now. Let me know what you find out." You gave her a brief glance and backed into your apartment, quietly shutting the door behind you.

You waited until you heard her footsteps walk away from the door before you broke. I would have expected violence from you, so terrible and chaotic were the emotions I sensed in you.

You stumbled to your leather couch and sat down, cradling your head in your hands. You were still for a while until the first gut-wrenching sob took you.

I have lived three thousand years but I have never seen a grief like that. You cried and howled your anguish to your silent apartment until eventually you fell asleep on the couch. I, for one, was relieved. I'm not ready to have you die on me yet, and I could sense that suicide was not far from your thoughts.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
September 23, 2000

I've spent the past two days in Hell and only just now got up the energy to write.

She's gone to California with Phil, officially to investigate the order of nuns that produced the St. Jude medals in the Coston case. Unofficially...well, let's just say that I don't think Phil is paying for a separate hotel room.

I sound bitter, but I have no reason to be.

It's not as though I ever gave her any real reason to look for that kind of relationship from me. Oh, yeah, I blurted out that I loved her once when I was high on demerol after she saved my ass in the Bermuda Triangle. And there was the way she cared for me when that alien rubbing got me, then that New Year's kiss, (though after seeing how Scully kisses Phil, that peck of celebration can hardly be called a kiss).

I guess I thought that there would be more after that night. But then, why would there be, neither of us tried to move forward to ensure there was more. I've just contented myself with watching her quietly, savoring the way her eyebrows quirk when she's just about to pounce on an inconsistent argument. I've waited for her wry retorts to my most blatant come-ons. I've guarded her back hundreds of times, while she's done the same for me. But I've never told her that she's more than my best friend or the one honest person I trust absolutely.

I love her. She's my life. She's my soul. I want to have her. To hold her, to touch her.

I want her body; I want to fuck her silly and hear her cry out to me for more.

I want...a normal life with her. Sunday paper, coffee, kids screaming through the house, cleaning up doggie doo in the yard, soccer practice, Hamburger Helper on Monday nights when she takes her ceramics class. I want...so many things and I never told her.

I shouldn't have expected her to wait for me to finally get the balls to tell her. She's beautiful and smart and has told me over and over that she wants a 'normal' life. Maybe she was even once willing to share it with me.

My gut hurts and I've made more trips to the john in the past 48 hours than I can count.

I can't tell whether I'm crying as I vomit or vomiting as I cry.

This morning after I lost what I laughably call breakfast, I sprawled out on the couch and listened to the radio. I'd gotten tired of television (watching too much of it these days) and left it on an alternative music station. Very soothing until I found myself listening to a woman's haunting voice singing words now burned into my soul.

"I've seen that life touches us with pain And we change

Becoming strangers to our friends...

I've thought of us,

Hard to talk these days

Did we change?

Or were we strangers all along?

Tell me what caused us to turn away...

How did I lose you along the way?

There's a wall of silence

Miles across

A wall between us

Holding back, holding back our loss..."

Did I ever really know Scully? Appreciate her needs and desires? I took her for granted, assumed that she'd always be there guarding my back and, when I was finished with my quest and had found the truth about Samantha, then I'd tell Scully that I loved her and ride off into the sunset with her.

There's no more time.

Scully sent me an e-mail today. I'm pasting it into this journal, for posterity I suppose.


To: fwmulder@fbi.gov
From: dscully@fbi.gov

Re: Let me explain

Mulder, I'm so sorry that what I had to say the other day came out so poorly. I feel that I need to explain myself, to try and make you understand.

First of all, the timing of all this is terrible. You are ill and I worry about you, but we've always been truthful with each other. My hiding my relationship with Phil wouldn't serve either of us.

I feel as though I've betrayed you, when there was nothing romantic between us. At least, while I'd always hoped that you had romantic intentions, they somehow never materialized. I have longed to share my life with someone for such a long time, and then I met Phil.

He's bright, articulate, educated and I can respect his mind. You taught me how important it is to be mentally challenged by the person you spend your days with.

Oh Mulder, you are my best friend and that hasn't changed. But I can't wait any more for feelings that may or may not be there between us to make themselves apparent.

You're still my partner and I'll still die to protect you, but I'm a grown woman and I need more than our friendship can offer me.

Please, please understand.

Dana


-

My soul hurts.

Authors' Note: Lyrics used in this part were taken from two songs by the group "October Project" from their self-titled album: "Ariel" and "Wall of Silence".


<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
September 25, 2000

The days are very long and I do a lot of thinking.

Scully tried to call me, but I haven't answered the phone. She finally sent Skinner over to check on me. He came by yesterday, his expression a cross between anxiety and irritation.

I opened the door after being summoned by a loud, very masculine sounding knock. Skinner peered into my cavelike apartment. I had the shades drawn, not wanting the outside world to intrude on my sickbed seclusion. It's my right as an American to wallow in my illness-fed self-pitying misery in privacy.

"Agent Mulder? Are you all right? Agent Scully has been trying to reach you for three days." He took a close look at me and I could see his jaw clench. He stepped inside the apartment and I closed the door behind him, my face coloring as I watched him take in the disarray.

"Agent Mulder, why haven't you been answering your phone?"

He met my eyes with a steely, no-nonsense glare. I struggled to find a reasonable excuse but was tongue-tied. Finally, I stammered, "Well, I've been sleeping a lot. I don't always hear it."

"She's worried about you, do you know that?"

He glanced around the apartment again, his lip curling with disgust. "She believes that you aren't caring for yourself, and I tend to agree with her assessment." He stalked over to the window and abruptly pulled up the shade.

Bright sunlight flooded the room, and I squinted against it, shielding my eyes from the glare.

"I'm taking my meds. I just don't feel well, that's all. Ah...excuse the mess,

housekeeping's never been my forte, but lately it been just...uh..." I cut the sentence short for a quick dash to the toilet. I'm sure that he heard me retching long after my gut was empty. I was still hanging over the toilet-bowl, shaking and trying to catch my breath, when I heard the linen cupboard door open and the water in the sink run.

A hand entered my field of vision and gave me a washcloth soaked in warm water.

"Thanks," I said and buried my face in its steamy depths.

Skinner helped me back to the couch and covered me with the blanket, then sat on the coffee table and studied me quietly.

"Mulder, are you sure you should be here alone? Maybe you ought to be in a hospital, or at least have some help." Skinner looked uncomfortable, and glanced around the room.

"No sir, I'm okay. I'd rather be home than in a hospital, and I'm managing all right. I just have to take it easy, that's all. I don't move too fast these days." I settled back, the warm washcloth covering my eyes.

The nausea had receded for now and I felt almost human.

"Well, answer your phone then. And if you need anything, call me. Oh, and Agent, the other reason I stopped by is that Agent Scully wanted me to give you her report on the Coston case. Her research into the order hasn't turned up as much information as she'd hoped. I'll leave this here for you to read when you feel better. I'd better get back to the office now." I could hear him get up and walk toward the door. I took off the washcloth and struggled to sit.

"No, don't bother to get up Agent Mulder.

Stay there and rest. But I'm serious. If you need any help, call me."

I nodded. "I will, sir. Thanks."

I read over her report. No mention of Phil, but his opinions hid behind every line. They examined the records of the order. The last nun, Sister Monica, died at the age of 30 from a mysterious wasting disease which was never explained. However, in another interesting mystery, a Sister Teresa disappeared from the convent the day Sister Monica died. Sister Teresa, age 65, was known to have a very youthful appearance and had single-handedly run the local school for 40 years. She attributed her energy and appearance to her intense spiritual devotions. She was said to be rather charismatic in her manner and was constantly surrounded by children, rather like a pied piper in a black habit.

The file included copies of some sepia-tinted photographs. When she was younger, Sister Teresa was a babe.

Still, this trail is 100 years cold. There was no local evidence of any similar occurrences in the Sacramento area, nor did Sister Teresa ever turn up again. Local theory had been that, in her grief over Sister Monica, she'd wandered into and drowned in the American River, which ran by the convent grounds.

I closed the folder and thought about the case. Dead end. Did Scully and Phil have a more fulfilling time? Probably so. Scully and Phil belong together more than Scully and I ever did. They believe in the same God, where I never gave Scully anything but grief when she tried to share her beliefs with me.

I'm the original agnostic, and recent events do not convince me any more strongly of the existence of a loving, caring God in my universe.

Yeah, she and Phil will have the house, car, kids, pets. Family dinners with the Scullys won't become brawls because big brother Bill disapproves of Scully's husband. Bill's never stopped hating me, but I can't blame him for that.

I'm really a piece of work. I've never been able to finish anything I started. Didn't graduate high school, nope, went to college early instead. Couldn't take life as a profiler, so I had to bail on that. I've never found Samantha or any hard, fast, solid proof of the aliens or the conspiracy to aid them; or at least the proof I've found cannot be presented to the public because it has been taken from me.

I don't own a house. My bank account squeaks when I open the checkbook. I haven't had any sex partner besides myself in more years than I like to admit. I'm an over-educated, underachiever who spends his days puking his guts out and wallowing in self-pity. The type of loser, that not even a parent could love.

God. Why can't I just fucking die and get it over with?



Entry no: 2000/9/30
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

Well, Fox Mulder, the dawn is just breaking, but already it appears to be my lucky day.

Because I'm in such a joyous, expansive mood I do believe I'll be a good little Archivist and give my report in the proper,

chronological order. That I gambled, you survived and I've won will be a perfect ending to this entry. God, I love this job.

Thursday morning, the 28th, you were awakened by the pain in your side. However, on that cloudy September morn, I don't believe "pain" would have been what you'd have called the searing agony which encompassed that roughly foot square area of your body. The focal point of this discomfort which brought tears to your sunken, decidedly off color orbs began at your breast bone and extended at a downward angle on the right side, roughly following your rib cage.

Your hands instinctively went to the site, the feather light touch of your fingertips tracing the raw hurt that kept you from drawing a full breath. Your skin was warm, stretched tight. Further tactile examination in the dim stormy light, made your rapidly racing heart pound with strained ferocity within your chest. Because of the frightening weight loss you'd recently suffered, you'd become accustomed to the pitiful concave that had once been a flat, athletically muscled abdomen. This morning your stomach was a hard, basketball sized mound that reminded you of the taut, swollen belly of a woman who could expect her tax deduction to arrive near the end of this fiscal year. You looked like you were in at least your 6th month.

"Oh God, what's happening to me?" Your terrified moaning question wasn't answered by Him, or anyone else you could hear. There's nobody left but me, Fox. Alone, with your chronic nausea reporting in for its daily duty of making life miserable and your face buried in you pillow to muffle the sound, you allowed the tears to come.


You spent all of Thursday huddling on the couch, wracked by intermittent chills and fever.

The only time you ventured off that sweat and urine-smelling, garage sale reject you use as a bed, was to make stumbling dashes to the john twice-hourly. You couldn't even run upright, instead you listed to the side because of the pain.

By nightfall you'd run out of clean underwear and were reduced to performing a smell check on the stash of "to be laundered" jeans you keep hidden in that no man's land of a junk yard bedroom that I've never seen you use.

Haven't felt like washing clothes since, when...August? What would your mother say, Fox? Worse, what would Scully think of the filth that clutters the shadowed corners and dark closets in this miserable, foul scented hovel? Six pair of boxers laid on the bottom of the tub that night, secreted behind the shower curtain. Each time you used the facilities, they were shameful reminders that on that long, torture filled, seemingly endless day, you lost every race against your intestine wringing diarrhea, save that very first one.

The illness is consuming you. The fluid that was filling your stomach had ballooned the b-ball sized swell to half again its initial, early morning size. The 20-sack box of twisty hefty bags that kept your nausea from being entered in the bathroom track and field meet, was almost empty.

Dehydration had made your blood the consistency of molasses and the physical strain that came with this condition kept you just this side of comatose. Every now and then the fluttering, rapid beat of your heart would stir you; the rush of adrenaline that came with this shocky fright simply adding to the problem. It was only "HER" persistence, her stubborn insistence that she actually "SEE Mulder NOW" that saved you, bought you those precious ticks of the clock.

You roused at hearing the pounding on the door. Lucid thought returned at a snail's pace. Sheer will forced your body upright and sent you shuffling to the door.

After you'd opened the door, a silence stretched to eternity while you both studied one another. It was finally broken by her dazed query, "Did...did I wake you?"

"What do you want, Scully?" Your words were slurred, roughened by a voice that had grown rusty from lack of use. "I'm not in the mood to hear about your vacation with Phil. It's obviously no longer my case, so I don't really give a shit."

Actually, Fox, you did amaze me. You hadn't been very lucid these past few days. That your mind cleared to the near normal levels of cognizance during this brief visit is unbelievable.

Honestly, I must admit, that the last half hour before her arrival I was beginning to fear I had overplayed my hand. The unpredictably rapid progression of the diseases was ignored and I continued on with my plans, eagerly pushing on with my manipulations of your system. My impatience almost destroyed my carefully constructed project and nearly cost you your life. Luck is what saved everything. I'd best not allow my ego to believe any other explanation for the fortunate results.

"Mulder, no one has heard from you in three days. Frohike called me because he was worried and Skinner thought..." Her tone was almost pleading. She had read the dark bitterness in your eyes.

"Skinner thought I wasn't taking care of myself. Yeah, I know. He came by." You stared at her coldly.

I could only guess she felt a calm-shattering sense of responsibility for everything. Her brow was wrinkled in grave concern, and I perceived a desperate desire to make matters right. She felt she had to fix things. Your health. Your peace of mind. The fissure that had widened into a crevice between you two.

You perceived none of this. What held you upright, one hand holding tightly to the open door, the other gripping the frame with a white knuckled intensity, was rage. I was made almost giddy by the startling heat that drove you. An understanding was born, full blown and complete in my mind, and I knew the answers to all my questions.

You'd been pulled back from the edge by the sound of that knock. You returned with the long-building fury unleashed at what had happened to you these past few months. This fuel gave you a strength your weakened body no longer possessed and a determination to rail against all the injustice that you've been forced to endure.

This saved you from death, but your energies focused on the only presence perceivable to a conscious human mind. Her. Your partner had played a role in the hurt that had festered during your helpless suffering and now she bore the brunt of this ire. I added my own small touches to inflame your rage. This woman is too persistent for my comfort level.

"This treatment they got me on is...rough."

You spoke with a low, hard edged control.

Both your expression and tone seemed created from cold, ungiving stone. "Sorry, you cut your trip short. My answering machine's broken and I just haven't been

grabbing the phone 'cept when I'm up. You're the only person who ever called, really, that I cared to talk to and you...well, I knew it wouldn't have been you. I forgot about the Gunmen."

You felt your energy begin to slip and surreptitiously leaned against the doorjamb to keep from sliding onto your face. "I've had to learn to ration my strength. Just tell the guys I'm fine. I'm hanging in there.

Scully, you of all people should understand what I'm dealing with. Explain to them, make them understand, like you tried to make me understand when you were sick. Let them know how having people around, letting people into your life is distracting. You were right, it all comes down to the fact that I AM in this alone. That is what you were trying to tell me back then, wasn't it?"

I watched her fade. Her Irish fairness drained away from her face, leaving it parchment white. Something inside her was crushed by the weight of your evenly spoken pronouncement. Thick, dark lashes fluttered, attempting to brush away her sudden, unbidden tears. Her blue eyes searched your face for something familiar, but she realized that she was facing a stranger. She is used to your wielding hurtful truths as a weapon, but she was surprised by your intent to see blood. Her blood. With a sigh, she surrendered at finding nothing but hostility in you.

"Mulder, you look so bad. I think you're not getting the treatment you need. The way this disease is progressing, the symptoms becoming so severe, so quickly, maybe you should see another doctor. I know false positives aren't as common as they once were, but they still occur. Maybe this is something else. As ill as you've been, you need to check out the possibility..."

"Scully, it's handled." You cut her off with a finality like a sharp, stinging slap.

You rested your head against the door. I could feel the strength that had sustained you dissipating. The anger was still there, but the fuel was rapidly being consumed and its solid forcefulness seemed suddenly shaky.

"They started with the RIBA test. When it was positive I got a PCR. Same thing. Then a biopsy. No mistakes. I'm on alpha 2-b. My doctor is Stephen Li."

"Doctor Li? He's taking new patients? I'd heard he had given up his practice because the American Liver Foundation was financing his research?"

"He's Langley's uncle." A weary smile barely made it to the corners of your mouth. I knew that if you didn't end this soon you'd be saying your good-byes looking up from the floor. Apparently you figured this out as well.

Grasping for the last lingering filaments of that hot, primal rage that had gotten you this far, you grabbed for that shiny new knob and pushed yourself up straight.

The raised brows of her concern gave you the strength to make your full height, and offered the final spur you needed to end this visit. "Look, Scully, I need to get some rest. It's getting late and I'm tired."

The brow wrinkle and lofted cleft of auburn above those bright blue eyes stated that she'd made a judgment call, deciding 7:30 p.m. was much too early for Fox Mulder to declare as late unless he felt worse than he claimed. "Please, let me help. Don't close me out like this, Mulder. I'm worried about you."

She took an involuntary step backward when dark anger twisted your face. "You came here because YOU'RE worried!" Your icy calm broke. You hurled your rage at her, your voice a loud, shaking rumble that made her shrink away. "News flash, Scully. This isn't about you!"

Slamming the door, hiding that stunned, grief stricken face was your last hurrah. You sank to the floor, propping up against the door while you fought your rolling, churning stomach with deep, gasping breaths.

The room was pitch black when you began a hunched, weak kneed journey to the bathroom.

The half glass of water you'd guzzled to avoid the burning muscle cramps of the dry heaves stayed down only as long as it took you to turn off the faucet. Your bed that night was where you sank beside the toilet to let the waves of sickness claim you.


I was sure I'd killed you. After the third bout of nausea, you'd collapsed and hit your head. No blood flowed from the scalp wound except a thick, slow ooze. I heard her tap at the door. Luckily, you hadn't secured the locks. The sound of her searching for you ended with a faint, stutter rap on the closed bathroom door and a panicked, "Mulder, it's me," before she entered.

Her frightened gasp echoed off the tiles as she took in the sight before her. She quickly realized, in the bright stark lighting of this room, that what looked like pallor in the dim hallway was actually yellow jaundice tinting your skin. You moaned and the sight of the golden brown caste to the whites of your eyes, as you blindly glanced around, chilled her blood. 911 was already dialed with trembling fingers before she knelt beside you.

Her report was clear and clinical to the dispatcher, but I heard her praying as she sank down beside us to wait.


And so we come to this morning. You're still in the ICU, still comatose.

They're all worried, Scully, your doctor, the various friends who've filtered in to join your ever vigilant, guilt wracked partner on this deathbed watch.

"How is he?" I heard the rumbling voice that I identify as Skinner. A female voice, *hers* replied.

"The same. He's comatose and...even if he regains consciousness there's a strong possibility of brain damage. The test results have come back..." Her voice broke and he waited in silence for her to finish.

I heard her blow her nose, then continue.

"Thank you sir...um...the test results are positive for hepatocellular carcinoma. That means that he has Adult Primary Liver Cancer; Localized unresectable, Stage 4a, NO,MO."

"What does that mean for him?" Skinner's voice was solemn.

"If...when he wakes, they'll treat him with chemotherapy. As far as they can tell, it hasn't metastasized, but there is certainly some damage to his liver. How much we don't know yet."

"I see. Is there anything I can do, Agent Scully?"

She replied in a whisper. "No, sir. Just wait. And pray."

"I'll try that. Call me if there's any change." I heard the door shut quietly behind him, leaving her alone with us.

I heard familiar prayers, the ancient Ave Maria, the Pater Noster, both now translated into the vernacular and said with heartfelt fervency. Then she began to talk to you.

"Mulder, I don't know if you can hear me, but I think you can. Once I was...lost...like you are now, and you brought me back.

Please, listen to my voice, and come back to me." I could feel her warm fingers cradling your left hand.

"I hurt you; I know how much. Mulder...I...can't live knowing what I did to you. Please, don't go. Don't give up on me. Please..."

I felt the splash of her tears on your hand, although you were somewhere far away in a place warm and safe.

When you finally surface from that cozy place where weakness and pain drove you, you might just wish you could escape back to that foggy world when your partner tells you what they found.

All the tests are back; the biopsy confirmed it. My first project is ready to bear fruit.

Your cancer has ripened and chemotherapy is your best option for treatment. Oh, happy day!


<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
October 9, 2000

Scully finally found my laptop in the mess at my apartment. She informed me she hired someone to clean up. I hope there's enough money in my account to reimburse her. I wouldn't take that job for any amount.

A lot has happened since my last, half lucid entry in here. I almost died, my ass saved yet another time by my partner (former partner). Acceptance, Mulder. That's the key word I've learned during my daily sessions with Angie. Unless I face what's happening, I can't hope to deal with it. No more hiding. I have cancer. My only option at this time is chemotherapy. I started today.

Scheduled Chemo Sessions Appointments Oct 9-13...Happy Birthday to me!

Oct 23-27

November 6-10

November 27-December 1

December 11-15

December 26-30...note, no chemo on Christmas day. Proof death does take a holiday?

January 8-12

January 22-26

February 5-9

February 19-23!!! Scully's Birthday. I will be well!

I guess that says it all. I'll write more later.


Chapter 6

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
October 13, 2000

Happy Birthday to Me. Yeah, right.

Scully brought me a cupcake with candle on it and I tried to smile. I don't feel much like smiling. She hasn't said a word about Phil and I won't ask.

I'm just...well, I'm glad she's here. Huh, maybe I should be grateful for this illness; if it gives me time with Scully. I probably won't have much more of it without interruptions.

I still don't know how she did it, but she's talked me into coming home with her. She argued, logically, that I hadn't taken very good care of myself and she didn't want me relapsing. I agreed, if only to keep Skinner from chiming in. But I know that this is temporary. I'll stay long enough to salve her conscience, then go home.

It's funny, when she thinks I don't see, I catch her looking at me, studying me. I don't look any different, not yet anyway.

They say this treatment does wonders for your hair; gives everyone the Michael Jordan look.

Maybe I can get Skinner to give me a few styling tips.

She keeps starting to say something, then stops. It's like she has something very important that she wants to say, but can't because she doesn't know how to tell me. Her silence can only mean one thing, and I don't think I can take it. Phil's asked her to marry him and she's accepted. I don't blame her, not one bit. Smartest choice she could make. I just wish she'd wait until...later.

So I don't have to hear.

Well, we're off to Scully's apartment now; the nurse with the wheelchair is here.

Think I'll find a truck and walk in front of it.


Entry no: 2000/10/14
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

We finished the last day of your initial chemotherapy treatment today, and the doctor said you could leave the hospital.

Arrangements were made Monday for you to stay at your partner's when you were released, so her neat, tastefully decorated apartment is where we headed when they gave you your walking papers.

The rush from the morning's chemicals had muted to a pleasant, soft haze about the edges of my consciousness, but as always, it left me with an intense heightening of how I sense your emotions. For all the burning, electric high I get at the moment the chemo is flooding through my host, this afterglow, that comes the week following a treatment, is my favorite part of this. The host is always primed with raw emotions and my ability to perceive them is so wonderfully enhanced.

She'd gotten you comfortable on her huge, overstuffed sofa, and since you'd suffered no nausea to speak of, she set about preparing you something to eat.

"They never brought down your lunch tray; time to refill the machine. Mom sent over some homemade soup, Mulder. Does that sound okay?"

Your eyes fluttered open as her voice floated from the kitchen. You straightened, willing the lethargy that had 'snuck' up on you to vanish.

"Fine!" you called, mustering a nice, healthy sounding heartiness. The thought of trying to work up enough energy to eat brought your wearily murmured, "Great. Wonderful.

Perfect."

Tired from the ordeal of your release from the hospital, your eyes shut of their own accord even while you breathed those replies.

"Mulder, I've got your bed all made up; you might be more comfortable there. The soup'll wait."

You jumped, she'd crept up on you, just like the cat nap had. Her offer was too good to pass up. Stretching out in a real bed, one without railings or an orthopedically correct rock-hard mattress was worth forcing your aching bones up from the low-slung seat. With a groan, you followed her to the bedroom she'd prepared for your stay.


Having to answer nature's urgent call is what awakened you. The red glow of the bedside clock in the darkness announced that if you decided to appease your rumbling stomach, the meal you'd consume would no longer be called lunch. You'd have to ask for dinner. Six hours of near comatose slumber had left you stiff, but feeling a hundred percent better.

Shuffling barefoot across the carpet you made your way through the living room, searching for company.

You found our hostess sitting alone in the dimly lit kitchen, silently sipping on a glass of wine while she contemplated the oven timer ticking down. The room smelled of apples and spice, summoning memories of childhood.

She turned, smiling, sensing you were there.

"Smells good in here," you murmured, easing into the low chair across the table from her.

"It was supposed to be a surprise. I called your mother to let her know you were out, and she said applesauce raisin was your favorite.

She gave me the recipe. The cream cheese frosting's coming from a can, though."

Your throat tightened, I assumed from some sentimental flash of birthdays past. You've tended to have some odd, uncontrollable mood swings during your recovery.

Several times a day, tears have threatened with the slightest provocation, and your last journal entry gave me some concern, but you always seem to stabilize somehow.

Suddenly, you realized what she'd said and your mercurial emotional barometer whirled to stomach burning distress. "My mom, I...did you tell her I was sick? I wasn't going to tell her yet, Scully." There was a hint of disapproval in your tone, though you'd tried not to let it escape. "Her health isn't good..."

A touch of color tinted her pale cheeks and her eyes grew solemn. "Oh Mulder, I'm sorry.

I forgot to tell you about this. I'd called her that first night, after I found you. We weren't sure if...well, you were so sick. I thought she needed to know, just in case.

We've kept in touch. She's called every couple of days." She lowered her gaze to her almost empty glass for a moment, silently tracing a fingertip around the rim. When she raised her head, her eyes were damp, leaking a bit with her apology. "She knows. I told her the day the doctor told us. I should have talked to you. I'm so sorry. I..."

"It's okay," you quickly whispered, grasping her hand. The soft, warmth of her skin and the sight of that full, quivering mouth made you lose your train of thought.

Chewing nervously on your bottom lip you searched for what you'd planned to say, but the words had vanished leaving you with nothing but a softly repeated, "It's okay."

Her tiny fingers intertwined with your own long, lean digits. I felt swept up by your wonder at how perfect this small embrace seemed. The silence stretched on until it became awkward. Looking up from your thoughts you searched her face. Her eyes sparkled a crystal blue. The steady, piercing gaze touched your soul, made your heart thud a quick, aching rhythm against your ribs.

"Thank you. I probably wouldn't have had the guts to tell her. I would've just gambled and waited 'til I was either well or she read the obit in the paper."

She winced and pulled her hand from yours, clasping it with her other hand tightly in her lap. She bowed her head and you felt the connection sever. Your desperation was an electric tingle forcing you to your feet. A loud buzzer, signaling the time had come brought a startled gasp from both of you. She leapt up to answer the summons but you stopped her. I was surprised, Mulder. Perhaps you've learned something about time.

"Scully, I'm sorry. It's the only way I know to deal with this," You held her hands. Your explanation was almost a sigh.

Her smile held a sad understanding. With a slight bob of her head, her lips brushed lightly against your neck as she sighed, "I know."

This separation didn't sting as badly when she moved away to open the oven door. The smell that wafted out with the warmth made your mouth water.


I've shared countless lives, but for the most part, my existence has been nothing but second hand sensations. That's why I crave the chemical your illness brings. I believe this heightened awareness is the closest my kind can come to feeling life instead of just observing it. So few of us feel the lack. I'm one of the unlucky chosen, I guess. I've always longed for a taste of what you take for granted; what your species so seldom appreciates. Even those who face what you are facing rarely try to grasp hold of the gifts which have been bestowed upon your kind. But I do believe you possess a certain promise, Fox Mulder, to truly understand and treasure your birthright.


When she curled against you, molding herself to fit along the curve of your legs, as you lay on your side on the couch, I sensed the warmth stirring in your groin. Side by side you'd watched the science fiction movie, wrapped in a comfortable silence, simply allowing your birthday meal to digest, and relaxing after this long, hectic day. Her head settled back, melding with your chest and your fingertips idly caressed the soft, silky smoothness of her bare shoulder.

A gentle chuckle shook her when you began murmuring, "Dum, Dum, duh-duh-duh-duh -dum, duh-duh-dee-dum, duh-dee-dum..."

I was surprised by her laugh, rising up so unexpectedly, deep-throated and rich. I hate to admit it, but I liked the sound. She does have a wonderful laugh, Mulder. "I gotta tell you, Luke does have a pretty impressive light saber. But, I always wished they'd given us a glimpse of Han Solo's weapon."

Now, I've seen this movie more times than I can count. Only Jedis have light sabers, Mulder. Han is not a Jedi. I don't believe you were laughing at her ignorance. This whole exchange was a private, sexual innuendo I presume. I've lived with humans for thousands of years but still don't understand the sexual urge. Nevertheless, I'd never heard you happy before. It was good. I love your laugh. Apparently, she does, too.

She turned into you and wrapped her arms about your neck. You held her close, relishing the feel of her embrace. The tender warmth of her lips, moist and supple, against your own shocked you. Once again, tears welled up, very close to the surface when you softly asked, "Scully, you haven't mentioned him since...?"

"We talked on Tuesday. He doesn't understand, Mulder." She glanced away, teeth moving to still a trembling bottom lip. The silence measured by a heartbeat, was broken by a gentle sigh, then, with a quick upward tilt of her chin, she met your eyes. "He wanted to know why I spend so much time with you. I told him that you're my best friend, the person who always watches my back, who's always been there by my side. You're my strength, my...constant. He just looked at me. I think he tried to understand. Then he told me that *he* wanted to be all those things."

Her fingers in yours tightened and she laughed a little. "I guess that's when I finally realized the obvious. Phil could never be to me what you already are, Mulder.

What you have been for a very long time. We broke it off; it was pointless since I'm already in love with a very brilliant, egotistical, difficult man."

You sat up suddenly. "And that's it, huh?"

"What? Mulder, what's wrong?" She moved aside as you crawled off the couch. You got up and began pacing back and forth.

"Just like that, I'm the love of your life?

You came to me, not a month ago and told me that I was too intense for you, that you couldn't 'breathe' I think was the way you put it. And now, after all this, you suddenly discover that you love me and not him?" You folded your arms across your chest and glared coldly at her. "When exactly did you decide this? When did you decide it was safe for you to love me? Was it when you found out that I might not have that long?

Hey, what have I got, six months at the most? I bet you could hold your 'breath' for that long. I guess my dying was just what we needed for our 'relationship'."

Her face fell, growing more stormy with each word you uttered. Silence hung thick in the air between you two, so dense it was tangible. She finally cut through the almost palpable wall of tension when she spoke, her voice sharp with sarcasm. "Are you through?"

"YES!" you spat, angry because you could feel a weariness sapping your rage, stealing your energy.

Her tone dropped, softer but still unyielding. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," you muttered, your eyes still fiery.

"Good, maybe you'll listen to me this time."

Her tone was calm but bitter. "Mulder, I'm not offering lame apologies for myself. I've been dense and frightened. You've always been the most exciting, intense person I've ever known. You burn hot, Mulder, so white hot I've always been afraid of losing myself in you, of being consumed by your fire." She moved forward and touched your arms with her hands.

"I went to California with Phil, fully intending to seal our relationship, but..."

she stared at the floor.

"But?" you prompted, your voice had fallen to a choked whisper.

She looked up, eyes focused intently on your face. "In every thought, every fantasy *your* face kept intruding. I found myself wanting your opinion on bits of evidence, missing your commentary on the state of the hotel towels and even the sound of sunflower seeds crunching next to me. Mulder, he wasn't the one. He could never have been the one.

There are a thousand Phils out there. There's only one Mulder. " She placed herself in front of you, willing you to believe her.

"When I got back from California, I went to see you, to try to tell you." She looked down and wrung her hands. "You were angry at me, justifiably. I'd hurt you. How could I expect you to ever accept what I had to say?

I left that day, sure that I'd lost you for good. But I was worried; you'd looked so ill that I decided to check on you and your temper be damned." She looked up again and met your eyes.

"Then I found you, half-dead on the floor of your apartment," she said softly. "While we waited for the paramedics, I prayed, Mulder.

You ask me what makes me tell you I love you now? Well, you're right, it is because I found out I might lose you. But, that's what I prayed about. I told God if he just let me have one more chance, I wouldn't waste it.

This is why I'm telling you now. I love you, Mulder."

Your eyes filled, but hope made a smile flit across your lips. "Scully, are your sure?

Really sure about this? I was angry, hurt.

You have a right to your own life, your own safe, *normal* life. I...probably don't have much time."

"Mulder, you're going to beat this. I expect you to fight it." She moved closer to you and touched your arm lightly. "If it takes me nagging you and kicking your ass every step."

You shook your head.

"Scully, I know my test results. I know that most people who have had untreated hepatitis longer than three years *die*. The cancer is just a bonus. Do you really want to shackle yourself to a dying man?" You edged back from her, away from her touch, but I could feel you straining toward her like a starving man.

"If you say that One more time, I'll...! I'm choosing to be here. If you still want me, I'm here, Mulder. I've wasted so much time already that I don't want to lose another second. I learned when I was sick that all we ever really have is this moment." I could sense her longing as she stepped close.

"And am I still too intense? Do I still frighten you?" Your eyes bored into hers.

She looked right back, smiling. "Mulder, I spent a week with Phil Huffman, and never once did he take my breath away. There's one thing missing in this relationship, Mulder.

Are you ready? For that one thing?"

You grinned ruefully. "I've been ready for 7 years," you breathed and then moved her into an embrace culminating in a kiss.

You opened your lips and soon your tongue was dancing with hers. You moved into her, pushing her back to where she finally met the wall. She fell against it with a thump while you deepened the touch, pressing hard with your lips. Your hips held her fast, her hands responding with light caresses that stole beneath your shirt, warm and gentle, against the skin of your back. Her fingertips teased the soft hair there, at the base of your spine.

When you pulled your mouth away, she seemed dazed, breathless. You grinned while you began to unbutton her cotton shirt. One by one each pearl circlet passed through its small hole, and your hands slipped the fabric down off her shoulders.

She was still while your nibbled the smooth, rounded muscle you so carefully exposed, and hungrily you tasted her skin, up her neck to her earlobe, then back down again. You heard faint whimpering and a sharp intake of breath from her as you nipped where her pulse fluttered against your mouth, biting down ever so slightly into her creamy, ivory colored flesh.

You felt her tiny fingers working at the waist of your jeans, eagerly, intently, and surprisingly the grating sound of the zipper going down came at the exact moment the button slipped open. With a soft chuckle you fought to keep standing as your pants pooled around your ankles.

"Hey, you don't fight fair, Agent Scully!"

you grinned, trying to grab at your trousers.

She smiled back, her voice a low, teasing sigh. "But I get the job done, G-Man. Need some more help there?"

You stepped out of your jeans, kicking them hurriedly away and quickly pulled your T-shirt up and off, flinging it aside as well. "Nope, but I'd love to help you..."

You moved forward to slide her blouse all the way off and found the catch to her black lace bra.

"Front hooks? My goodness, Agent

Scully...Whatever would your mother say?"

"I don't know, you can call her tomorrow to find out. Just shut up, Mulder, and make me breathless." She tugged at the black lace bra, pulling it off in one smooth motion.

Slowly, her eyes gleaming blue crystal flames, she leaned forward, running her hands over your chest and touched her lips against your belly, letting her warm, wet tongue trace the curling diamond of hair down.


Entry no: 2000/10/14
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

Entry continues...

She inched downward, slowly moving and pausing occasionally to feel you shudder, until she reached the base of your now-erect shaft. Gently she nibbled her way to the head and then took you into her mouth. You couldn't control your trembling at the sensations flooding your body, your mind, me.

Hot, raw passion surged through you, cresting with an explosion that made you tumble back to the couch, every cell in your body tingling from the throbbing warmth. Your head reeled and you sat stunned, only realizing what had happened when your organ gave those

last few tale tell pulsations.

I felt the flush of shame burn your face, deepening when you opened your eyes and saw

her standing before you, her face etched with concern.

"Mulder...?"

"Scully, I...I..." Your tongue passed quickly over parched lips, "I'm sorry. I've wanted you so...for so long..." It was only after a deep sigh that you were able to continue. "Not exactly the way I always pictured it. Was it good for you?"

Your laugh was a sharp bitter bark. The silence lasted forever and for want of something to still your shaking hands you grabbed your crumpled shirt, which somehow had landed on the sofa and clumsily mopped at your groin, covering yourself modestly.

"Mulder, why do you insist that everything is about you," she whispered as she eased down beside you.

Her words brought your bowed head up with a start, a knee jerk reaction of fright, but the fear faded when you noticed the teasing grin that tilted her lips. "I want this Mulder. I want this to happen. I've dreamed about this for years. It's not over G-man.

Take my breath away..." Her eyes held you as her hand reached up to trace the strong cut of your jaw.

A knowing smile crossed your mouth as you pushed yourself up to stand and with a sudden burst of excited energy you swept her up into your arms. Her deep throated laugh surrounded you as you carried her to her room, dropping her on the bed. Her husky chuckles blended with the muffled protest of the springs as she landed with a bounce. With your lips moving rakishly up at the corners you knelt over her, smoothly popping the snap of her pants and sliding the zipper down with one quick fluid motion.

"Wait," She caught your hand, a wicked smile on her lips. She finished removing first her jeans, then her panties, undressing herself slowly and seductively. I caught a mischievous grin on her face when she noticed your rapt (dare I say near-comatose?) expression as you watched her.

Finally nude, she stretched out on her back, her arms reaching above her. "Like this better, Mulder?" she purred.

"Oh yeah. Now let me share *my* fantasy with you..." You lay down on the bed next to her, your face opposite her pubic area and rolled her in close to your mouth. Parting her lips, you began to move your tongue seductively, making yourself at home.

We heard a sigh and moan from the head of the bed. "Ahhhh...sixty-nine..uh...huh, Muld...der? Ohhhh..." Her voice died away in a long whimper.

You released her clit from your mouth briefly and replied. "One of my favorite numbers, Scully. But this is for you, I don't know if I can...again...ohgod...mathematics?"

Clearly she had found you as well and had resumed her oral caresses. You, on the other hand, were discovering exponential increase.

"I'm a math geek remember, and I've learned a lot since catechism class," she murmured.

You both happily continued your mutual stimulation until Scully was on the verge of release. You were holding yourself back with an iron will, waiting for her to orgasm before allowing your own pleasure.

"Mul...mul..der...I...want you inside me...please...I want to come...god..with you inside me..." Her breathless voice carried to where you and your tongue had sought hitherto unplumbed depths of Agent Scully.

You didn't wait for a second suggestion, but pulled your tongue from inside her vagina and gasped your answer.

"Okay...be there in a minute..." Fox, you are undoubtedly a loving and sexual man, but you have an unimaginative and unromantic side guaranteed to render any woman close to you near-homicidal from time to time. Be there in a minute? Please.

You moved your body until it lay on top of hers, propping yourself up with your elbows.

She grinned up at you then grabbed your ears and pulled you down for a deep and lingering kiss.

"What?" you gasped, puzzled by what was clearly a token of gratitude.

"Just wanted to tell you thanks," she replied. "Now fuck me until I scream, G-man.

That's an order."

"Yes ma'am."

With her gentle hand guiding, you positioned yourself at her entrance and slid inside with a soft moan of pleasure. I have observed many couplings in three thousand years and mind-blowing is not a word I commonly use to describe most of them. After the first 500 years it gets stale. But you, Fox, well let's just say that the earth moved so heavily for you that I felt the tremors.

Your thoughts were so loud they were shrieking in my psyche:

"Home...home...safe...comfort...home..."

Her eyes were closed as you began to move inside her, and she began to perspire, gripping you tightly with arms and legs.

Your thoughts changed and deepened, becoming louder and louder to me: "Gonna *live*, not gonna *die*, gonna LIVE, gonna LIVE...LIVE..LIVE*"

With each mental repetition of the word 'live' you pushed into her so hard and deeply that I began to fear for her safety. Then I realized that you were murmuring the phrase out loud and she had picked it up and was repeating it with you.

"Gonna live, not gonna die, you're gonna live Mulder...you're gonna live...you're gonna live..."

She came first, going rigid and then lying quiet, you still pumping violently into her from above. Then she held you, stroking your back and quietly murmuring to you as you found your orgasm.

"It's okay, Mulder...it's gonna be okay..."

You finally collapsed and lay atop her, burying your head in her neck. Her fingertips lightly brushed your face and feeling your tears her embrace grew that much tighter.

The quiet lasted an eternity before you found enough energy to whisper, " I guess we gave it one for the Gipper, huh? I'm so tired Scully." Your exhaustion was palpable, her kiss on your head was a warm comforting caress. "I wanted it to go on forever. I want forever," you softly confessed, your bone weary tiredness making your voice a fading sigh.

"We'll have as close to forever as we can manage, Mulder. And I won't leave you, ever.

You aren't alone in this." Then she held you close, trying to surround you with her body as if to keep the darkness away. I felt you slip away into sleep, your body relaxing, melting into her. I thought she'd followed you until I heard her soft assurance," We're in this together, Mulder."

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
October 16, 2000

I feel better than I have in months. I believe it's because for the first time, in a very long time, I feel as though I'm in control of what's happening. To my body. In my life. I flew through the first treatment.

The counseling sessions I received while I was an inpatient really helped. I could actually visualize this invader in my system and with my will and the weapons they were giving me I felt like I was fighting back. I know it sounds hokey, but I did feel I accomplished my goals.

On the personal front, a door has opened that I never even fathomed existed. I've loved Scully for years. I've stated this here, countless times before. There was always some reason, though, that I couldn't declare this out loud, to make sure I was heard. That this is the only area in my life I didn't actively pursue voicing my feelings seems absurd to me, now.

I know it was fear that kept me silent. But it was ignorance, too. I think of myself as such an intellect and I never understood that what I have just found is worth any price. If I'd made discovering this truth my obsession...well, what Mulder? Maybe finding what love can be this late in life, at this fragile moment in my life, is the only time I could appreciate it. Maybe I finally deserve Scully's love. Finally.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
October 23-27, 2000

And you can't always get what

you want, honey

You can't always get what you

want

You can't always get what you

want,

But if you try sometime, yeah,

You just might find you get

what you need!

Couldn't say it better myself, Mick.

I plan to bring this journal with me each time I come here, to archive these sessions.

It's ironic, but I feel that my view of life and the world around me has become so much clearer, more intuitively in focus since finding out that I have a potentially terminal disease. I guess the Grim Reaper blocking my view of what lies ahead has made me stop and look more closely at those things around me.

Like Scully's and my relationship, and dare I say it, whether or not there is some other "presence" directing our lives. Looking back, I can't help but think both Scully and I have had lives that were produced by some mad, demented "creator". When I think of all the things that happened to keep us from even sharing our first kiss, I can't help wondering if this "being" is cruel, sadistic or just tends to enjoy scripting cliché pathos. I mean letting us get *this* close to kissing then having a mutated, alien virus carrying honey bee sting her?

Has my life been directed by a power? Fate or maybe God? Who knows? The

coincidences in my life are startling, but they might just be coincidences. And what lies ahead? I'll fight. I'll fight like Hell, and I'll win.


Once, eons ago when I'd just hit 19, I went to a pub with some classmates. Since my companions were obviously all over the legal drinking age of twenty-one, while I was not, I received a lesson that even my drunken father's back hand couldn't have taught me.

At first I soberly spent my evening bemoaning the fact that because I was the only chronologically challenged member of our group, I was obviously the best choice for designated driver. While my buddy's tied one on as only jocks who bleed orange and black can manage, I cursed the fact that I'd been a overachieving nerd whose ego and parental favor seeking neuroses had driven him into reaching college by 16 and thus too young to have any kind of fun.

My mentor, Zig-Zag (if you have to ask, you obviously never set foot on a college campus during the late '70's) and I had wandered outside for a quick bit of fresh New Jersey air. It was this dimly lit parking lot that Z.Z. began his instructions for this all important life's lesson. The red faced jock's first gasp brought on a fit off coughing which led to a bout of near projectile spewing the likes of which I never again witnessed until this week.

The crux of this rambling tale came after Z.Z. had deposited his $100.00 worth of beer, tequila, everclear and licorice schnapps all over the parking lot and the side of his custom painted orange '65 Mustang. He'd studied the results of his aromatic labors, hands on knees, for a good 5 minutes before reaching into the vile mess to retrieve something.

Knowing that he was still inebriated, and being the good buddy that I was, I tried to stop him from his repulsive treasure hunt.

"Muler...ish hokay. 'M fine," he informed, giving me a pretty fair contact high while making my stomach lurch as he breathed the sour smelling fumes into my grimacing face.

"I. jus' thought for a momen' I'd puked up my tonsil, but it was only a coupla crowns. Did you fine my contacs, though? Never fel' them go."

I never have been much of a drinker since that night, but I now know how it feels to puke so hard I could believe my tonsils were in danger.

Scully helped me find my contacts.

I see the dentist tomorrow.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

End 7/?

Symbiosis (8 of ?)

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
October 31, 2000 Halloween

I've watched two Darth Mauls, five skeletons and one Death approach my door, begging for candy. This is the one holiday of the year when we choose to celebrate the monsters of our existence, including Death himself. This year I'm not celebrating much. I suppose.

Scully got some chocolate bars and has been handing them out to the trick or treaters.

I've been watching all the cute little kids dressed as monsters, devils and death troop through our doorway. I wish the real items were as harmless.

I'm troubled by the financial burden I'm causing Scully, being her live-in, housebound patient. I've suggested to her that I might go to a hospice, but she just gets mad.

"Hospices are for dying people, Mulder, and you aren't dying!" was her last comment on the subject.

I guess


what started this, what put this

plan in action was the idea that popped into my head as I watched Scully's face as she labored over writing out her bills. It was Sunday, two days after my last treatment, but I was still puking my guts up. Nothing was working to stop the nausea, but it was slowing a bit. She's made me up a bed on the couch, in front of her TV.

I knew that missing work almost the entire month of October was playing hell with her budget and I was in no position to help after two months of medical leave. That's when it hit me, the idea. It seemed so perfect, so right. We love each other and wasn't there a saying, "two can live as cheaply as one?"

I pushed myself up from my makeshift sick-bed and strolled over to join her at the table.

She gave me a quick, half hearted grin of acknowledgment as I took my seat, but grimly returned to her task of robbing Peter to pay Paul without a word.

I suppose I didn't impress her with my smooth charm. I don't think I worded my question quite right. Hell, I've only done this one other time and I don't remember how the subject even came up that time. I don't even recall doing it, I think I was drugged. I just woke up the next day and it was over.

"Scully, I've been thinking," I began.

A frown of concentration still lingered on her forehead as that one lone brow shot up to question me. That 'look' always unnerves me and I grabbed her hand to calm myself. Just touching her gave me strength so I pushed on, "Scully, I know that your losing all this time because of me has really hurt you financially and..."

Stopping and looking at her face was my big mistake. I should have just kept my head down and barged on. My tongue tied when I watched that second auburn brow slant up to join the other by her hairline. Stammering now, I continued. "See two can live as cheaply as one...at least that's what they say...and, and...the bureau does have a spousal paid leave...and since we're practically living together...well we are living together now, I mean we're sharing the same bed and we're...you know, having sex and..."

"Mulder, are you by any chance asking me to marry you?" she asked aghast, but I could see the shadow of a smile.

I nodded. "If...if that's okay with you, Scully. I know I'm not much of a catch right now..." I couldn't finish my sentence because she was kissing me so hard.

"Dammit, Mulder, you never know when to shut up, do you? Of course I'll marry you," she whispered throatily into my ear. That's my Scully, romantic to the end.

She's wearing my Oxford ring as her engagement ring. I called Mom, and she's sending Grandma Mulder's wedding ring for the ceremony. It'll be small, and Mom isn't well enough to attend.

Scully and I will be married in the chapel at the Rosie Dawson Cancer Treatment Center by the chaplain there. We've decided to have the big Catholic wedding later, when I'm recovered. I telephoned Skinner and asked him to be my best man. He was surprised but very flattered by the request.


November 1, 2000 All Souls Day

Scully's mother and Skinner stood up with us and the gunmen videotaped the wedding so my mom'll have a copy. Mom sent flowers, and the chapel was bedecked with chrysanthemums, white and yellow and rust-colored. This morning, Special Agent Dana Scully, MD, wearing a fetching navy blue suit (she doesn't own a white dress) added a 'hyphen Mulder' to her name.

Mom sent the wedding ring by overnight pack and I was glad to be able to slip it onto Scully's finger. And, for a wonder, I didn't throw up all day. Must be the champagne Skinner brought.

We celebrated with cake and champagne after the ceremony and Frohike cried. I always knew he was sentimental.

I GUESS


some people might wonder why I'm

so happy, since Adult Primary Liver Cancer; Localized unresectable only has a survival rate of 30%

ALL I KNOW


is I'm lying here in bed, my

wife sleeping beside me, her small warm hand resting casually on my upper thigh and I just can't stop smiling.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
November 6, 2000

I'm writing this, half reclining in a lounge chair, while a tube is pumping poison into my veins. I've spent the last half hour since Scully went to see if they've found something...anything...I can take for nausea, trying to convince myself I'm not in the throes of a nightmare.

I've only been able to force food down my rebellious gorge for two days without it coming immediately back up, and here I am starting this process all over again. The frowns I received at my "weigh-in" this morning were silent, disapproving testimony that Fox Mulder is losing too much weight. As if I had any say in the matter.

This morning, as I was getting ready for this appointment, I frightened Scully. I think I took ten years off her life. I'd just stepped from the shower and was combing my hair when I screamed. I couldn't help it.

"Mulder!" she didn't waste a moment knocking, and the door was flung open without an announcement.

I couldn't speak, I just held the brush out for her to see. She almost hid the wince that came with her notice of half a head full of matted hair, there in the bristles. It's started, no warning, no preamble. I'm not one of the fortunate to dodge this bullet. My hair is falling out in clumps.

"I've got that Yankee's cap you gave me after the series." Scully's voice was soft. She met my eyes. She's got more guts than I have. I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror. I never realized I was this vain.


I'm back at the house, curled up on our bed, a trash can at the ready beside me. This time is worse than the last. Just when I think there's nothing left inside me, it hits and I'm choking on saliva, phlegm and bile.

I've got 4 more days of this.


They have started me on methadone to help my nausea. It's helping. I haven't vomited in twenty minutes.

Were staying here at the hospital overnight because that last time I tossed my cookies (the last time since Scully brought me into the ER) I had another blood vessel burst.

They say no problem, though. I just got a little intense while I was flinging chunks.

My red cell count's a little low, too. They just wanna keep an eye on me.

Speaking of eyes...I burst a couple of them, too. Not my eyeball, little blood vessels in them. I once saw a strangulation victim, when I was working VCU, whose eyes looked like mine do now. After my barf-o-rama. He'd been killed with pantyhose. His girlfriend did it.

An honest to God female serial killer. She got rid of four boyfriends before we caught her. The guy with the red eye was the last one.

She had red hair. Okay, Scully keep up with me here. I'm telling you what I'm typing, when I type it, so I know I'm going slow enough for you. Hey, I'm making perfect sense. No, I'm not sleepy. Not at all. I, I, I, I feel ggggreattttttt. No, I don't need to rest, wanna finish typpp...ttyPPpp.. writing here in my...um... in this thingy. My book uh...thinggg... Hey wait, No! Scully, don't take my ...

I took your laptop. Good night. - DKS-M <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
December 1, 2000

Frohike and Byers dropped by while Scully was at the hospital getting my fix.<g> (The Methadone does seem to work, though it makes me higher than a kite. I reread my last journal entry and I don't remember writing half of what was there.) Tried to be my usual witty, entertaining self but this damn nausea is getting me down and my vision is still off after breaking those blood vessels in my left eye. (For some reason, I don't say things like "This is killing me" anymore. Wonder why?)

She sensed that one of the gunmen had the beginnings of a head cold and my dulcet darling, with her J. Edgar style and finesse got him to confess he'd also just recently had a stomach bug. I plan on printing up a sign


Be ye warned, all who venture to this door A clean bill of health, signed by no less than two licensed physicians (both MD's credentials must have met prior approval by Special Agent Dana K. Scully-Mulder, MD) will from hence forth be necessary for entry.

She cares. I know that's why. Reminds me of that song by the Band. She mends me, tends me and defends me.

Scully's the reason I'm going to make it through this. And I am.


Scully has continued to research the Coston case and has been bringing the files home for me to read. I appreciate that, I can only watch so much Jerry Springer before I begin to feel homicidal.

The killings have continued and seem to be escalating. The victims are getting younger.

Two more bodies have been found, both females, age 14 and 13, both dead of premature aging. Both were found with identical religious medals of St. Jude on the bodies. And there's more. Scully found traces of salted water on the latest body, consistent with holy water. She theorizes that the killer is somehow blessing the body, implying either a ritual killing or, as I believe, a blessing of the body after death.

Maybe our killer has a conscience?

Also, investigation of Amber Coston's background has turned up a stormy

relationship between the couple. Apparently the two had a fight, in front of witnesses, just two days before Amber turned up dead.

Coston wished out loud that Amber would just disappear from his life. Two days later Amber was found dead of old age.

We have also found a connection between three of the victims. The last three girls found dead were all members of a local youth soccer league, and Scully has confirmed that Michael Gillette was a coach for the same league. I saw a team soccer picture on his desk when we were at the house, showing his 9 year old daughter with the rest of the team. But why kill him and then move on to children? The killings just don't fit together. Amber's could have been a revenge-murder, but where does Gillette fit in? Or the girls?

And weirdest of all, Michael Coston is dying.

He is HIV positive, now living at St. Mary's Hospice.


Chapter 9

Entry no: 2000/12/04
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

You were sleeping peacefully, the nausea lulled away by the tea she'd fixed you and the warmth of her arms, when you suddenly sat straight up in bed.

The flu that Byers had passed on, finally made its presence known. I might have helped some, had I not been floating on my numbing chemo high. As it was, your fit of almost projectile-like vomiting woke Scully. How could it not, the contents of your stomach saturated the entire bedroom, her included.

"I think that nightmare about Linda Blair and the split pea soup set this off," you croaked, sleep and fatigue rusting your tone.

She half carried you into the bathroom, chuckling softly for your benefit at your drowsy attempt at wit.

You mutely stretched a not so steady hand to her cheek, vainly dabbing at where a smear of rapidly drying vomit had landed. "I'm sorry, Scully," came out in a low, hitching half swallowed sob of embarrassment.

Murmuring "It's okay," and handing you a warm wash rag, she allowed you the dignity of the somewhat daunting task of sponging yourself clean.

Assured that you were holding your own, she then left the door ajar for safety, and dutifully set about cleaning up the havoc in the bedroom your sudden illness had wrought.

Even in my stupor, I could read your mood, Mulder. I knew, even weak and depleted from yesterday's dose of chemo, you still wanted to fight.

You needed to rage back at what was happening to you.

With a sigh, you tossed the rag into the sink, knowing that the task of getting rid of what was now caking on your entire body would have been impossible with that tiny, damp square of terry cloth.

Gamely gathering up all your energy, you shuffled over to the shower and turned the spray on to your favorite setting of blistering needles. You then began to peel off your soiled T-shirt and sweat pants, giving the foul-smelling garments a half hearted kick to the far corner by the toilet. You made a mental note to yourself to remember to take care of this messy detail before Scully got a chance to spot them.

You'd just stepped through the wafting steam and were shutting the curtain behind you when you spotted the stranger. That thin, yellowed parchment skinned, partially bald man, hunched and wearily trembling as he moved about in the hot, gray fog of the bathroom, wore your face.

That one reflected glimpse stole your breath away.

Shocked horror drove you reeling back 'til you pressed against the moist, just warming tiles. You clenched your eyes shut in denial, squinting against the tears.

Stark black and white images passed before your mind's eye


emaciated men, women, children, stripped of hair, clothing and all but the last tattered vestiges of their pride. Behind your closed lids, in the darkness shuffled the countless wraith-like people who, like you, were prisoners trapped in a cruel, pitiless world that moved on, heedless to their silent cries for mercy.

Those in your vision wore the same haunted, death's-head expression, while being led to their slaughter, that you'd just witnessed in your own reflection, opening a door in you that you'd somehow kept barred until now.

You saw your mortality.

You saw the skeleton finger beckoning you into untold suffering and ultimately death. You know that your fate is to follow where the Reaper leads.

Scully entered moments later to find you sobbing, huddled in the tub, your knees drawn up to your chest. Without a pause she stepped in, still clothed, to gather you into her small, but oh-so strong arms.

She let go for only a heartbeat, to hastily remove her wet gown, then began to caress your raw, fever stung skin with her hands and her fresh vanilla scented soap you've always liked. Firm, supple but amazingly tender, hands messaged the ache of your muscles and that twisting, gnawing fear-pain that was consuming you from inside out.

Wrapping you in a huge, soft towel that smelled of a lazy summer day and appeared magically from that enchanted Scully-place, she walked you back to the bed you share. Smooth fresh sheets below you, more of the same spread gently atop, then two dark, velvety blankets banished the last of the chill from your soul. The silky heat of her flesh, stretched full to surround you 'til you were enveloped completely, lulling you until you drifted peacefully to safe, dreamless sleep.

Then, and only then did she rise and return to the bath. Surrounded by the damp, sound-muffling mist which engulfed her behind the closed door she finally began to methodically cleanse herself of the thick, fetid-smelling sickness that still clung to her hair and skin. This last chore accomplished, she cried.

Against my will, I believe what you feel for her is rubbing off, Mulder. I know now why you love her.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
December 6, 2000

Nausea's a little better today, but I've still got that eye strain headache. Sleep helps, but it just keeps coming back because that eye just won't focus. I set up a date to get my vision checked after next weeks chemo session.

I've also made an appointment to see Linda, the psychologist with the chemo clinic. There are a few things I need to talk about with someone. Someone who isn't Scully. I'm fighting this; with Scully behind me I know I can beat it, but...

The "but" is what I have to talk to someone about. I know there are certain phases one passes through when facing their mortality. I think I excelled at denial.

Fear comes in because I wonder if, even now, there's still a part of me that refuses to accept that the world will go on without me. I know that's egotistical as hell, but I believe all humans have this belief as a defense mechanism, a survival trait. If we didn't, we might not be able to get up in the morning. Now, some of us are more ardent in our faith in this belief than others but I chose not to go there.

But, psychobabble aside, I think I see that final step now. Acceptance. That doesn't mean it's over, it just means my eyes are open that there is an end to this climb. Scully could embrace her fate, but I know from experience that it's harder to let go when there is a life that you value more than your own. I know this will either get better, or it will end. I don't want her pain to start before it has to. The grief of losing someone goes on forever.


Entry no: 2000/12/06
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

I really don't know where to start in making this report. I suppose I should begin by stating that our relationship has given this existence-weary Symbiote a change of heart.

I've decided to revise my plans and turn my energies to leading you out of this shadowed valley I've so eagerly forced you to enter.

Now, I'm not getting soft. No, not after having to endure 3000 years of forced co-habitation with a species that is so genetically-challenged they lack the ability to appreciate their unique, wonderfully designed bodies. You Humans, short lived and frighteningly fragile though you may be, have been gifted with a physical form that can experience your environment in such an amazingly emotionally sensitive way, it is rivaled throughout the galaxy. Why do you think so many visitors drop by to study your kind? It sure the hell isn't your dazzling intellect that draws them here.

But you, Fox, with you it's been different. I've rediscovered that, for some of you, there is a chance of rising above this inborn flaw and coming close to reaching your promise.

Sentimentality aside, I'm too much of a scholar to lose this golden opportunity to study such a fascinating oddity - a human being actually close to realizing his potential. Now, I'm not saying my next host will interest me in this way, but I'll cut him the same break. Fox, looks like you've finally lucked out.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><>


Entry no: 2000/12/08
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

If I had a stomach, it would be somewhere down by my knees. (That would mean I'd have to have knees, too.) I can't believe I'm joking at a time like this.

Mulder, I've killed you. When, when did this happen?

When they biopsy these metastasized cells they're going to go crazy; you'll make the AMA journals for years.

Fox, soon, I don't know when, but very, very soon you're going to discover that somewhere along the way I dropped the ball. Since these cells are a mutated strain of melanoma and hepatocellular carcinoma it had to be some time right after you had the biopsy for Hepatitis C. That's when I first started my manipulations for this final stage of my project.

There are 4 malignant tumors growing in your brain.

This explains your headaches and blurred vision. This means you're going to die, and I don't think I can prevent it.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><>

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
December 11, 2000

Yesterday is when everything started. It seems a century ago, so much has happened. But only a little over 40 hours have passed. Ask me now if I'm ready for the end? You'll hear something entirely different than when I was waxing so philosophic last week. I don't want to die! And fuck the Stones, this isn't something I need.

I'd been having blurred vision since that emergency room visit last month. I'd been assuming that I'd done something to my eye and hadn't bothered mentioning to Scully or my doctor that the symptom had lingered.

When the headaches started I'd thought they were just eye strain. Then I woke up yesterday and the right side of my body was numb. I couldn't move, and obviously my problem wasn't just a broken blood vessel in my eye. After several vain attempts to get out of bed myself, I had to call Scully.

"What?" Her voice held a tinge of impatience. She'd been on the phone with her mother. I'm pretty sure she thought I was just waking up horny. My nausea had all but disappeared the last couple of days and I'd actually been feeling great. I've almost weaned myself off methadone completely. I'd even eaten my required 6 meals the day before. That's probably why she'd called her mom, to give her a 'Good Mulder' report.

She was at my side in an instant, her brow puckered in a frown, examining my eyes. She didn't like what she saw. One look at my face told her I was terrified.

"Mulder, have you been having problems seeing?" She asked, her voice raised with concern.

I sank back on the pillows, afraid to move. "Yes," I honestly think my teeth were trying to chatter. I know that my hand was shaking, my left hand. The one that moves.

She turned to the phone, grabbing her book from beneath it. It was, of course, open to the page that had all the right numbers; my oncologist, the hospital, and the non-emergency number for the ambulance.

I listened in silence as she described my latest symptoms to the doctor. I felt a pang of nausea when she related the fact my left eye seemed to be swollen or protruding. MY first instinct was to touch it, but I decided I really didn't want to know. Why not finish playing the ostrich to the end?

The end.

I think I knew it even then.

I did pull my head out of the sand when I heard her say we'd meet the doctor at the hospital. She was calling an ambulance now.

"No!" I muttered, grabbing her wrist. Her expression was a cross between fear and irritation at my thwarting her plans. I don't believe she was frightened that I'd win our arm wrestling match for the phone. She knew it, too. I could read it in her eyes.

"No ambulance. Please. See if you can get the guys. I think I can walk, with someone helping. I don't want to leave here on a stretcher." She gave me a long, deep look and then sighed, and then called the gunmen.

The gunmen weren't in. She called Skinner. He was there in less than half an hour. I was still lying in bed when I heard the door open.

"How is he?" I heard Skinner ask. Scully's reply was much softer, and I couldn't hear the words. I could guess what she was telling him, but quietly, so that I wouldn't know she was pronouncing a death sentence on me. I could feel the side of my face sagging, like that of a stroke victim, and can only imagine the way I must have looked.

Skinner came into the bedroom with a cheerful look pasted on his face. But I could read through it; he'd had the same expression when he visited me in the hospital neuro ward after I got whammied by that alien rubbing. Then, his first glance at me pulled his mouth into that tight line he always got when I did something that pissed him off. Skinner's face reflects such a broad range of emotions. He'd should have been an actor. He could have made a mint playing corpses, or FBI assistant directors.

We'd gotten me into some sweats by the time the AD arrived. I found I could still sit on the side of the bed if I used my 'good' arm for balance. Dressing had been a comedy of errors, what with my right side limp as a dishrag, but we managed.

Skinner lifted me easily off the bed; with what I weigh now he didn't even break a sweat. He half carried me out to Scully's car, and although he said nothing, he didn't have to. He hadn't seen me in a few weeks, and the changes have been pretty dramatic.

He and Scully conferred out of earshot. I guess they decided he'd return home to finish his Sunday paper and wait for word because the meeting broke; he returning to his vehicle, she, to the one I was in. I know she paused a moment to check me out, but I didn't even open my eyes. I rested my head against the glass the entire trip, murmuring over and over under my breath to please let this all be a dream. Was I saying a prayer? Did I think I was muttering some good luck chant? It doesn't matter. It didn't work.


Scully's expression can only be described as 'terrible'. Terrible, as in so intrinsically frightening that you want to duck for cover because she's so pissed. She was clearly steeling her voice to extreme calmness.

"Do you want to explain to me how you people could possibly miss 4 tumors? Don't try to convince me that they just appeared overnight. He's been tested every two weeks, for these cells metastasizing, and every two weeks you've sent us home saying he's all clear.

What...?"

The voice of my doctor, Richard T. Clark, cut in.

"Dr. Scully, the cells aren't from his liver cancer...not exactly."

The silence was so loud it made my ears ring. I opened my right eye and peered over to my partner. My vision was clearing some. They'd started steroids for the swelling, and I was already getting a sense of tingling feeling returning to my right side. Pretty amazing stuff that dexamethasone. I was starting to feel a little nauseated, but then, everything makes me nauseous.

"So, this has been metastasizing since July? This is from the melanoma?" Scully's voice wasn't her low, calmly irritated voice. Her pitch rose with each word, by the time she hit melanoma. I found I was cringing, and her anger wasn't even directed at me. I closed my eye again. My head was starting to ache along with my stomach.

"Yes, well, no, not exactly." Dr. Rick stammered, obviously having sensitive hearing, too.

Scully returned to her even, but deadly, cutting manner of speaking to make the coupe de grace. "So you have no idea if these are some hitherto undiscovered primary tumors or if there are some as yet unfound other primary cancers? What exactly do you know? Other than the fact my husband has 4 brain tumors and your negligence just might have killed him?"

I winced at her prognosis and cut another glance to try to read her expression. She, of course, realized that I was lying conscious, in my bed, not two feet away. Two bright scarlet patches glowed in contrast to the ghostly white of her face. I quickly composed my face, shut my eye and played possum. She bought my charade enough to continue, but she lowered her voice when she spoke again. I had to strain to hear her.

"How could this be happening?" Her question was almost a sob it was so plaintive.

"Dr. Scully, WE don't know how. Liver cancer doesn't normally metastasize to the brain. But this is not liver cancer, this is not melanoma, this is some weird 'hybrid' of the two," he whispered desperately.

I had to open my eyes, both of them, at this. The word 'hybrid' always stops me in my tracks because of the many hybrids I've come into contact with in past years.

Scully knew what my reaction would be and met my gaze, her face an ivory mask of horror. We both knew how this might have occurred. It's suspected that the trigger for cancer lies deep within each person's DNA.

And not many people on this planet have had their DNA fucked with as much as Fox Mulder. And you, Scully.

You've gone through this, too. Somehow though, I don't think a chip is going to do the trick this time.


So, Dr. Rick has just left. Scully is downstairs; her mother finally talked her into getting some food down.

And I'm here with the laptop, trying to figure out how it's come to this.

This is how it stands as of 7:30 p.m. tonight, December 11, 2000. At the rate these metastasized tumors seem to be growing, (and this is saying that melanoma on my hand was where this all started) I will live until April at the latest.

I am going to die. Soon. Very soon.

The largest mass, the one behind my eye, is operable.

But, (always that ass-end but) why bother? I have three others, one of which is deep within my brain, near my pituitary, and the other, that will probably be the one that takes me out, is resting against my brain stem.

The good news is, the primary tumors, three at last count, are shrinking and my liver is healing nicely.

The nodules from the cirrhosis have all but disappeared. But I'm stopping the chemo. Who gives a shit if my liver is clean when I die? I want what time I have left to be good. I go home tomorrow. I'll take the steroids; they make me a little queasy but that's nothing compared to what I've been through.

I'll play the odds that nothing catches up to me until that one on my brain stem stops me. Hey, some of the odds have to fall my way at some point. Don't they?

Scully doesn't say much, she just gives me long looks filled with sorrow. I feel bad about all this-we're newlyweds! Now she'll have to be a widow. Damn! I want more time, dammit! Do you hear me, God? I want more time! I'm not fucking done yet!


Entry no: 2000/12/12
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

I feel so embarrassed and guilty at my terrible mistake. To make such a simple error in my manipulations and unwittingly kill my host is an unheard of piece of stupidity on my part. To try and make it up to you, Fox, I've been working hard at decreasing your nausea. You're feeling better these days than you have in months. You ascribe it to the respite from chemotherapy, and I'll let you go on believing that.

Your wife has been behaving strangely though. Today, while you were napping, she had a visitor. My hearing is considerably sharper than yours, so I caught both sides of the conversation quite clearly.

There was a rap on the front door and she let somebody in, a man. I could smell a faint whiff of old cigarettes float in with him.

"I am surprised that you called on me for help, Agent Scully. Or should I say, Mrs. Mulder?"

Her voice was tense. "You know I had no choice. What did your butchers do to him?"

"I'm afraid you have me at a loss. What do you mean, 'do to him'? We've done nothing to harm him."

I heard her footfalls on the carpet as she paced.

"You bastards did something to his DNA. I'm sure you already know about the liver cancer. Haven't you been told about the 4 tumors in his brain? The ones that will kill him in a little less than 4 months?"

There was a brief pause, then the man spoke, sounding shaken. "I...was not informed of this turn of events. I knew about the liver cancer and that he was receiving treatment. And you believe that these tumors resulted from our...manipulations?"

"Hah, that's right, put your hand on your own head.

You carry his cells too, you bastard. For all you know, you've got this cancer. I want a cure for him, and I want it now. You *owe* it to him."

"I owe you nothing, Agent Scully. What Mulder is, he owed it to the rest of humanity to share it. I may be able to help him, but there must be compensation made for the treatment."

"I expected as much. All right, what do you want?"

She sounded defeated.

"A simple exchange of favors. My people will call on you once, and once only, to assist in one of our projects. That's all."

"I don't have a choice, you know I'll do it. What treatment do you propose?"

"We have some members of our staff who are skilled at healing. You've seen their handiwork on Mrs. Mulder.

That's why she recovered so well and quickly from her stroke. I'll be here tomorrow at about this time.

Oh, and Agent Scully, you may want to give Agent Mulder something to make him sleep through the procedure. He's unlikely to agree to the course of action you've chosen to take."

"I...I'll take care of it." Her voice trembled with emotion.

The door opened, then closed, letting the man out of the apartment. Then I heard Scully's soft footfalls as she entered the bedroom.

She spent the next hour sitting by your bedside, holding your hand and crying.


Chapter Ten

<><><><><><><>


Entry no: 2000/12/13
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

You were concerned today about Scully's apparent depression. You assumed that she was unhappy because of your health, which is true enough as far as it goes.

I was keeping watch over her while you napped early this afternoon. I listened as she made a quiet telephone call, ending with the phrase, "Okay, then. I'll see you later today."

From this, I gathered that we were to have another visitation from our previous caller.

You woke soon after, just in time for Scully to bring you your lunch, Big Mac and fries with a tall glass of orange juice.

"Hey, Scully, I definitely approve of the cuisine here. Burger *and* fries? What happened to the salads and vegetarian food?"

She grimaced, trying for a smile. "Well, since things were looking up with your liver and you've been absolutely salt free for 3 whole months, I figured this once I'd let you splurge. All I ask is that you finish the orange juice, okay? That's probably the only part of the meal with vitamins."

You nodded happily and munched your fries, washing them down with the juice. "Hey, Scully, you feelin' better now?" you asked cautiously.

She started to protest that she felt fine, then stopped. "You noticed, huh?"

You took a swig of juice. "Yeah. I know it's rough, Scully. I've been there, remember?"

She nodded but didn't meet your eyes. "I know that you would have moved heaven and earth to find a cure for me." Her hand went back to her neck and she looked up. "You did. You searched until you found the answer that saved me."

You nodded, then yawned. "You don't know how

close I came to selling my soul for that answer, Scully. The smoker almost bought me, but I got the solution despite him. I knew," another yawn, "that you'd never respect me if I sold out like that, even for you."

Her eyes were very blue as she took the tray off the bed. "You're right, Mulder. I love you too much to see you compromise your beliefs in any way." She pulled the blankets up and tenderly covered you. You smiled up at her drowsily.

"Wow, I ate too much; now my meds are really making me sleepy. D'you mind if I take a nap?"

She shook her head. "I don't mind at all.

Your gonna need a nice long snooze to digest that meal." She sat with you until you dropped off into a deep sleep, then took the tray away into the other room.

Being as intimate with your system as I am, I know something you don't. The juice was spiked with Phenobarbital. I expected you to be out for some time, and couldn't help wondering if she was up to what I thought she was up to.

I didn't have to wait long to confirm my suspicions. Soon there was a knock on the door and I heard the footsteps of two people.

"You're right on time," she murmured.

"Of course," said the man from yesterday.

"You know my associate."

"Oh, yes, I know him. I had the bruises for a long time after our first meeting. I would offer you coffee, but I don't know if your friend eats."

"Pleasantries are unnecessary," a deep, unfamiliar male voice replied. "Where is the man?"

"He's in the bedroom," she said and soon I heard the footsteps coming closer. As they approached I could sense the signatures of two humans, followed by...what? Normally I can sense heartbeat, respiration and that indefinable something that tells me I'm in the presence of a human. This helps me find a new host after the death of the previous one.

But this other person...Suddenly the realization hit me. It was one of THEM. The early ones. The ones who were here on the planet millennia ago. We thought they were gone forever. He couldn't be allowed to find me here.

I quickly withdrew my presence from your body, encapsulating my being into a tiny, concentrated area somewhere around your left big toe, and hoped profoundly that this entity wouldn't sense me. We are hard to kill, but there are worse things than dying.

"I gave him the drugs, as you suggested.

He'll sleep for a few hours yet." She sounded calm, collected.

"Good. Can't allow Mulder to disrupt his own healing, now can we?" The smoker approached the bed and I heard his gasp of shock as he saw your changed appearance. He said nothing,

but his face must have been telling.

"He's been on chemotherapy for two months and

could barely keep food down. Now they have him on steroids," she softly explained.

"So I see. I'm glad you called on me before it became too late to help him." The smoker's voice sounded angry.

"Why do you care whether he lives or dies?

He's never been anything more than a pawn to you." Her tone was angry too.

"Has he told you what he is to me? More than a pawn, I assure you. Ah, I see you know about the relationship, Agent Scully. Then does it surprise you that I should care about his welfare? I've watched him grow all his life, from a distance it's true, but consistently. As difficult as it may be for you to believe, I want to help."

During this conversation, I could feel the alien's hands touching your forehead, seeking, searching for the illness. I shrank back into my hidey-hole and tried to make myself as small and invisible as possible.

Finally, the alien spoke. "No. It cannot be done."

Both the smoker and Scully reacted immediately. "What do you mean, it can't be done?" she cried, as the smoker said, "That can't be true! You've healed far worse!"

The alien removed his hands from your body.

"There is something here that I do not recognize. It matches no human disease pattern with which I am familiar. I have relieved some of his symptoms, but that is all I can do. He will die soon."

I heard Scully's indrawn breath, followed (to my surprise) by the smoker's. The heart rate for each of them doubled. Caring from your wife I expected, but in this man who consorts with monsters? Surprising.

"Can't you do anything? Anything at all?"

Her voice was desperate now. "There's no deal if he isn't fully healed."

"As I said, there is nothing I can do. This is beyond my capabilities." The alien moved off and away from you, to my immense relief.

The smoker and the alien went into the living room, talking quietly. She stayed behind momentarily, and I felt her softly caress your cheek. Then she, too, left and closed the door behind her.

It looks like a cure is up to me now. This does not fill me with confidence for I have well and truly fucked up your system, using your own vocabulary. I'm sorry, Mulder, this is all my fault. Feeling this unaccustomed remorse prevents me from even enjoying my usual thrill at your emotional responses to the situation.


Entry no: 2000/12/14
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

I've been in a bit of a tailspin these last couple of days. That I could have botched a job like this has me very, very depressed.

Health wise, you seem to be feeling better than you have in months. I know why, of course. The side effects of my manipulations have been cleared up by that smelly man's alien, sub-species lap dog.

I feel I'm even developing a third party connection with Dana. Oddly enough, I feel little of my normal jealousy toward the woman. I like her. She's certainly helping you get through this fiasco I've spawned.

It seems that around each corner, everywhere you turn are the solemn reminders of your death sentence. However, I'M the one who appears to be shaken by this ever present black crepe. This morning, Scully accompanied you to start moving out of your apartment.

You have until the first of the year but you feel you need to take care of some arrangements, to set your affairs in order.

You're a married man now, but there'll be no honeymoon cottage for you two, so why pay two

rents? Your mood was one of solemn resignation.

You were in "the bedroom" going through yet another box filled with junk when you paused, bent over at the waist, almost standing on your head in the huge carton. Slowly straightening, you stood up, a shoe box in your hand. Your quick glance to check where your lady love was caught her attention, and my mood brightened a bit with your sudden flush of boyish embarrassment.

"What is it, Mulder?" she queried, a grin spreading across her face. She hasn't smiled lately. Not after her try at saving you failed.

Your lame attempt at subterfuge died, withered on the vine. You allowed her to peek inside the long, narrow cardboard box. When she glanced up, her eyes shone brightly, glittering to accompany that full, trembling bottom lip. In her hand was one of the small, slips of paper, ripped from a memo pad.

"Mulder, you even saved my memos?"

You were staring at your shoes, but nodded.

Finally you glanced up at her to see she was browsing through your collection of notes, cards, hastily scrawled messages, all handwritten momentos of your seven years.

"Scully, if anyone finds out about this...well, I'm not as good a shot as you, so your death could be really painful."

She laughed, but her heart wasn't in it and you sensed it. Your emotional barometer once again began it's dervish-like spinning and you became angry. "That's why I hid them, Scully, I knew you'd laugh."

She opened her mouth to explain, but stopped when you grabbed the keepsake box from her and tossed it in the plastic trash sack. She moved to retrieve it, but your dark, rage-filled stare stopped her. Her face was etched with worry. Your moods are beginning to change. This is a symptom of the disease, the steroids and the treatment you received from your so called 'father'. It seems the 'healing' has only made things worse. I see no changes in the cancer yet, but I see the changes in you. So that makes 2 of us who are worried.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
December 15, 2000

Ten days to Christmas. Fa la la la la...

Yesterday Scully and I cleaned out my apartment, the dump I had called home since 1989. We brought my fish back, but not much else. The rest of my things, like my life, went to storage. I know I'll never go back there again, never resume my old life.

And worst of all, I lost the most important thing today. I lost her today.

I never thought Scully would sell out to the smoker.

She thought I was asleep when he just "happened" to stop by, and they talked about his earlier visit. A visit which occurred while I was drugged into unconsciousness by my partner...by my wife...my Scully. She made a deal with that black-lunged son of a bitch to save me.

Okay, it was to save my life. I understand her motives and the desperation that drove her to consider this, but she shouldn't have. She knows how I feel about this; that's why she put me out. We talked about this, if I remember right, just before she placed me in their dirty, corrupt hands.

And it didn't work, anyway. Damn it, Scully, can't you see that there's no escape once they have you? Just ask Skinner!

"I thought I would stop by to see how he's doing..." I heard him say.

"He's been getting worse since your last visit. I think that the bounty-hunter's treatment only made him sicker. His mood swings are more severe; he's having headaches

and dizzy spells, his appetite has fallen off, even with the steroids."

"I'm sorry to hear that. As I told you before, I have an interest in his well-being, physical and emotional." An interest in my well-being? That's a joke.

"So you said," Scully replied. "But the fact remains that

your 'treatment' did nothing at all and may have worsened his condition. He's dying...unless you have something else to offer?"

I heard...regret?...in the smoking man's voice. "No, I am truly sorry, Agent Scully, but I've already tried the best resource I have at my disposal. We both know what awaits him, given his weakened condition."

"I know," Scully said shortly. "Then I have one more request of you. Leave us alone. Let him die in peace. You've watched him all his life, shadowed his existence, engineered his conception for all we know...But now, just let him alone."

I didn't hear the smoker's response, but he left shortly after that.

Scully...dealing with that man. She knows better. Hell, she was one of his guinea pigs not so long ago! She's under such duress that she'd deal with the devil himself for my worthless hide.

God, I can't take this. I'm dying anyway, and by all accounts this is going to be a long and painful trip. How much more will I lose before I reach the end of the journey?


Entry no: 2000/12/16
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

The blind headaches have started up again.

Your vision is worsening, especially the peripheral vision in that left eye. The increased dosage of steroids has left you swinging between elation and anger.

I know I'm not helping your emotions because I'm consciously making an effort to communicate with you now. I have plans again, Fox. I believe I have found a way to undo the damage I've done...we've done...well, at least help give you a fighting chance. All you have to do is help me help you. And the only way that's going to happen is if I can get you to listen to what I have to say.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
December 18, 2000

The dying is hard and takes tooo long.

I can barly see the keybbord to type and my fingrs feel so clumsy, keep hittng thewrongg keyss, so this

will prbably be my lastentry. At least, I hope this is the last en try. Goode thing I learned to touch type, huh?

I can't live like thisanymore. I'm dying anyway, and just a burden toScully. She cooks, cleans and comfortrs a dying man. Much more dignoified to go now. I don't want to wait for the rest of my body to slowly die around me. It's like being trapped alive inside a slowly disntegrating machine6, conscious of the deterioration alll around you. And now, I think my mind is gpoing. I'm hearingthings, voices. They're driving me crazy...crazier. I WON'T live like this. I'd rather go now and not saddle Scully with a walking dead man who's not even me anymore.

I wnt the dignity of choice, and I'll take it. At least thisll free Scully. She'll grieve, but it'll free her from whatever deal she's entered into with cancer-man. She'll use the life insurance policy well, too.

Maybe keep investigating the conssortium?

Keep the work going...

One good thing about being so sick, lotsof ddrugs to overdose on. Have to decide which ones to OD on...

I know you'll see this, Scully. I wnt you to know I love you. please, just let me go.

please.


Entry no: 2000/12/19
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

There are times when I regret having no physical body, and this has been one of them.

She had no idea that you'd smuggled a cache of old painkillers back from your apartment.

While she was out at the grocery store you downed a bottle of them along with a very nice chardonnay from her wine rack.

By the time she got back, you were unconscious on the bed. But you, smart man that you are (damn it) had tucked yourself in neatly, and hidden the bottles. You knew that she would assume you were napping, thereby leaving you undisturbed to finish the job.

Fortunately for you, she is a loving woman and went into the room to kiss you as you slept. She smelled the alcohol and saw the pill bottles partly hidden under the bed. She promptly tried to rouse you, unsuccessfully, called 911, then began artificial respiration on you. I had been frantically trying to clear the drugs from your system since you ingested them, and so was grateful for her intervention.

You woke up later in the psych ward under suicide watch, having avoided a coma only through my frenzied efforts. As appears to be her habit, she was sitting by your bedside when you came to. You opened your eyes, jerked, then looked blankly at the ceiling.

"Mulder? Mulder, why did you do it?" she asked softly, grabbing your hand. You didn't look at her as you replied.

"Scully...I...why did you stop me? Why?

I'm dying anyway." Your voice trembled and tears began to trickle down your face.

"Mulder." She held your palm to her lips.

"Mulder, each of us has to die, but I want every moment with you that I can get. I don't want to lose a single minute. Please, please don't go yet. I can't stand it."

You looked blankly in her direction. "Scully, my eyesight is gone; I can't even see you any more. You're just a blur. And...and my personality is changing, I can tell. I hate what I'm becoming. Don't you see? I'm not me any more."

"You're still the man I've loved for 7 years and the man I married. The soul inside the body is the same, and I'll always recognize that. Please...please Mulder...hold on. Please, stay with me a while longer."

You just silently lay back and closed your eyes.


Entry no: 2000/12/20
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

Early this morning we finally made contact.

You heard my voice.


Mulder, Mulder, can you hear me?

<I've been hearing you forever. What...what are you? I know I'm hallucinating. I know that's gotta be it.>

You're not hallucinating. Jesus, how long is this going to take? Mulder, for the millionth time, I'm really here.>

<Great, now my hallucination is arguing with me. Damn, I'm worse than I thought.> No, I'm not a hallucination. I'm Miriam and I'm living inside you.

<Living inside me? What are you? A germ?

Fleas?>

(Laughs) No, I am not fleas, although I am a kind of parasite. I am a Symbiote. I exist to chronicle human life, namely yours.

<Human life...you aren't human then? Not some kind of spirit or ghost? I'm not possessed? What a relief.>

No, smart ass. I am from another planet, far from here. I've been the cause of all your troubles, the cancer, the hepatitis. I need to talk to you. And you need to listen. I've got a plan.


(Later)

<Great. Just fucking perfect. So this is what you're telling me. My one shot at life is that I have to convince my wife, the original skeptic, the person who has been an eye witness to more proof of alien visitation, the after-life and practically everything else in the universe that represents the paranormal, and STILL doesn't believe.

That's the one I have to convince that my cancer was caused by an itty-bitty, smaller than microscopic, alien life form parasite who has suddenly had a change of heart and now wants to save me. I see. Okay, I'll tell her, but if she has them put me in a strait-jacket, it's your fault.>

I am well aware of that.

You yelled for the nurse until she found your wife and brought her. We couldn't see her, but I could tell that she was exhausted the tone of her voice.

"Mulder, what's wrong?" she asked gently.

"Scully, you have to listen, okay? Just listen and trust me. This time you have to believe what I'm saying without question."

She sighed. "Okay, Mulder, what is it?"

"Scully, I just found out the most amazing thing..."

You told her about our conversation, who I am and what I've done to you. Your vision is blurred, so I couldn't see her expression but I could hear the skepticism in her voice as she tried to humor you.

"Of course, Mulder, it's all caused by aliens..."

"No, not 'aliens', an 'alien'...just one..."

"And her name is Miriam, nice alien name.."

"Well, that's what she goes by. She says that I couldn't pronounce her real name and she hasn't used it in 3000 years anyway.

Scully, you aren't listening to me."

"I am listening, Mulder. But Mulder, remember there are a lot of drugs in your system and you aren't at your best right now. Why don't you get some sleep and we'll discuss it some more tomorrow morning."

"Scully, I.."

"Please, Mulder. I...I just can't do any more today."

You gave in and I could hear her shuffle away. She must have spoken to the doctor, because shortly thereafter you were given a mild sedative and told to sleep. And they double-checked the restraints on you.

After you were out, I heard her in the hallway with the doctor. Skinner was there, too.

"He's deteriorating faster than we expected, isn't he?" Her voice sounded defeated.

"I'm afraid that, from the delusions you describe, he isn't going to last much longer now. He seems to be fixated on aliens," said your oncologist with concern.

"That's hardly new for Mulder," Skinner commented. "But does this prove that he's suffering from dementia?"

"What else can it be?" She sounded sadder than ever. "He has four tumors in his brain.

His eyesight has diminished, he has headaches. This isn't surprising after all.

There has to be something we can do.

Something."


Entry no: 2000/12/21
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

I'm glad I've finally made contact with you, Mulder. This is what you've been hearing since the start, me making these reports. And I...well, I did talk to you on occasion, kind of like a little bird in your ear.

<A >

Okay, a vulture. I admit it. I'm a carrion eater. I'm a parasite. But, will you do it?

<She won't believe me...she's thinking I'm acting this way because of the tumors. Why do you think my ass is in the hospital right now?>

You're in the hospital because you tried to kill yourself. And she does believe you. The healer said he couldn't help because this wasn't a natural illness. When you told her about me, she thought about it, and she realized it was true. Now all you have to do is tell her to do what I say, so we can cure you, Fox.

<Don't fucking call me, Fox! Don't fucking call me anything. Call me 'you'...or host...or...fuck I AM crazy. You're not here.

This is all my imagination...It's a symptom...>

Mulder, I'm here. You're okay. The CAT scan said there's been no noticeable change since they first found the tumors...

<Then why is my vision going, why the headaches...Scully...she can't be trying to kill me, can she? She couldn't be dealing with cancer-man?>

Mulder, why did she save you when you overdosed? She doesn't want you dead. She loves you. She needs you.

<Then why did she get him to come there...she knows we can't trust him. He made the cancer grow. I can't trust you. God, you're not even here. You gave me this. I can't trust her...I..I..>

Calm down. You don't have to talk to me out loud. Just think, I can hear you think. Okay?

So that one behind your eye has grown, but I'm not a figment of your dementia. You felt me the moment I entered you. Am I right?

<Maybe I was crazy, even back then.> Well, then you're crazy. God, you're so stubborn. The longer I'm with you the more I understand why Dana needed that vacation with

Phil...

<You are a bitch. Huh...what else would I imagine but a nagging bitch in my head. God I hate this. I'm so tired of this. I just want it over...>

Jesus Christ Mulder! Quit whining! You listen to what I tell you, do what I say and it will be over! Tell her when she comes back. Tell her what I told you, exactly the way I told you...word for word, and she'll take it from there. With me helping, this WILL work, I promise.

<Why should I trust you? You've been trying to kill me and feed off my emotions! OH GOD!

GET OUT OF MY HEAD! I'm crazy...I'm just talking to myself...this is me...this is killing me!>

No. I never wanted to kill you Mulder. Never.

I love you, Mulder.

<But, you're not real. So, I guess I've learned to love myself. Now, why does this remind me of Whitney Houston?>


You're finally asleep. The nurses heard you scream at me and sedated you, so I can make my report now. You do make ME a bit insane.

Especially now that you're talking back to me. And I figured out who Whitney Houston is.

She sang those immortal words:

Because the greatest love of all is happening to me.

I've found the greatest love of all inside of me.

The greatest love of all is easy to achieve.

Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all

A banal song for a desperate situation.

Cute, Mulder.

 


Chapter 11


Entry no: 2000/12/24
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

He's asleep right now, so I can make a report. I've been so busy just trying to keep his symptoms at a tolerable level for him, I haven't had time to do anything. Every moment he's awake, he's talking to me. Even when Dana's here, he'll speak to me as though she can hear me, too.

At least he's somewhat lucid, but his deterioration has been rapid, progressing in tandem with the growth of the tumors. If for some reason my plan doesn't work, I don't believe that he can survive longer than two weeks or so. His problems now stem less from the increased intercranial pressure and more from focal irritation. This means that the swelling and edema are not the major issue any longer. The actual masses are affecting brain function, so the steroids are not helping.

I can't see her, but I sense her presence. I can feel the soft touch of her hand as she constantly reassures herself that he's still warm, still breathing, still alive. She's here beside us right now, gently smoothing that faint scar on his hand where this all began.

I almost know what she's thinking. It's as though the connection they share has been passed on to me while he's ill, to hold for safe keeping. She blames herself for this.

She's frightened of what's to come. Of what we have planned for him. The radical treatment that I laid out is dangerous, but with the knowledge that she has, she agreed to it.

It will either cure him or hasten his death.

All or nothing. Both...either is preferable to this slow suffering. I don't think he realizes the hell this will put him through... She knows, but has said nothing.

She just seems even more haggard and worn.

Mulder's eyesight comes and goes, so I catch glimpses of her face.

Concentrate, Miriam, get this done before he wakes up. He is still on the steroids to reduce the post chemotherapy/radiation swelling and edema. Tomorrow we begin the Mannitol, the drug that will break down the blood/brain barrier so the chemo drugs, which will be injected into his carotid, can bathe his brain and the tumors. Since this will also be affecting normal cells along with his malignancies, it will probably cause a temporary worsening of his symptoms. This is not something he needs.

Thus far we have suffered through seizures, aphasia, paralysis, dementia and loss of vision. Fortunately, these have all been temporary, but I fear what is to come. We're still in the calm before the storm.

Yesterday was hell. Mulder was beset hourly by one symptom after another. Today, however, his condition has been relatively

trouble-free. His mind has been the clearest it's been since Cancer Man's miracle cure was attempted. I pray this is a sign that the after-effects of that event are fading.

Perhaps that might even mean a reduction in the growth rate of the tumors. I've been eyeing the mass that sits so close to Mulder's brain stem, and we are reaching the edge of the comfort zone.


Entry no: 2000/12/25
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

<Where's...Scully?>

Hey, you finally decided to wake up.

<...I'm... tired...Where's Scully?> It's just past midnight, she left about an hour ago with her mom. They've gone to Midnight Mass.

<It's Christmas Eve...>

Actually, it's Christmas morning, has been for about an hour. Merry Christmas, Fox.

<Fuck you...What're you...giving me for Christmas? A stroke?>

...

<Miriam?>

...

<Miriam?>

Mulder, I know I deserve your hate...but I didn't mean for this to happen...

<You...gave me CANCER,..what...did you...expect to happen?>

Mulder, I've told you, I don't kill my hosts...I, I, just make them suffer...

<Oh, you're the...Mother Theresa from planet Marquis de Sade...I've suffered enough Miriam...Miriam. Jesus, where'd you...get a name like Miriam?>

It's what one of my hosts called me. A host I had a long, long time ago. It means rebellious. Fitting, huh? He was a bit of a rebel, too. His people needed a rebel then.

He was a stranger in a strange land, and he died trying to go home. He was the first human who felt my presence. I grew to love him too, Fox. His name was David, my beloved one.

<Oh, so you...killed him too, then?> ...

<Miriam.>

...

<Miriam?>

You ARE a true bastard...

<Huh. There's never been...any doubt about that. You met the man who claims...to be my father. What do you expect from me?> Nothing, Mulder. Nothing. I know I deserve whatever abuse you give me. I'm doing everything in my power to make things right for you. I know you're scared about tomorrow, but I'll keep you going. I'll give you back your life, somehow.

<I wanna live Miriam, is that so bad? I have a reason...to live now. I'm not alone anymore.>

Alone. You humans don't realize that you don't have to be alone. You have the ability to share your life with others like no other species...anywhere. If you want to. If you just try. Mothers, fathers, SISTERS, brothers, children, lovers, friends...do you know that my kind doesn't even have a word for friend in our language...no word for companion, we just have hosts. Someone who allows us to stay in his body and watch.

That's not sharing, that's having squatter's rights. You've never been alone, Fox. You've always shared your life. It might not have been the way you wanted, but...

<...I'm afraid Miriam...When we die...we go alone. Nobody can go with us, share it with us...And after? Are we alone after we die?

Is that why we fear death? We humans? Do we just lie alone, in a box and feel our bodies rot? You've lived thousands of years, seen hundreds of people die, experienced their deaths. What's it like?>

I don't know, Mulder. They leave for somewhere...else. And I'm always left behind, with the body, if I haven't left before they pass on.

<You mean...all these years...I hoped that the aliens could tell me the answers to everything. And now, I finally meet one, and you don't know?>

Sorry to disappoint you, Mulder. But really, all those years were you looking for aliens?

Or for God? We're just people from another place. We argue and ponder the same questions your people do. I like to think that death isn't an ending, but the beginning of something new. And, somehow...I think you humans never are alone, even when you die.

You've always got someone, waiting for you, watching, remembering...

< I have Scully now. Finally. But this takes so long...if I'm going to die I just want to go. I hope this works... I really hope so.

But if it doesn't, I don't want any more tries for the cure. Please. I'm...so tired, Miriam.>

Mulder, this WILL work.

<It hurts, doesn't it? I've read about the blood/brain barrier, and I know what Mannitol can do...>

Mulder...yes...it will. I am sorry for the pain I've given you in the past and for what I'm causing now. I've stopped lying to myself. I know what I've done to you. And it's killing me...

<Hey, you mean to tell me that neither one of us is going to enjoy the experience? Damn!> (Laughs) Mulder, you are one of a kind. Thank God. It's getting late and you're tired.

Why don't you go to sleep now? I'll wake you when Scully gets back. Get some sleep.

...

He sleeps. I'm here, Mulder. You're not alone.


Entry no: 2000/12/26-31
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

This day has been hell for Dana, right from the start. The moment the chemicals entered your blood stream you began to complain of burning. It only got worse.

At first you grimaced and clenched your fists. Then you stiffened your body and began gasping for air.

"Scully...Scully..? You reached out your hand and she grabbed it, her fingers turning white with the force of your grip. You shut your eyes and endured, while she whispered to you.

"It's okay, Mulder. This is going to work.

You're going to be okay..." Her voice fell to a murmur, which was soon drowned out by your first moan.

You began to writhe on the bed, your eyes half open but sightless.

"Mulder, lie still. Don't pull the catheter out. Mulder?" You didn't hear her. Instead, you reached for the arterial line and tried to tug it out, but her hand interfered.

She bent low over you. "Mulder, you have to lie still. I know it hurts, but this is your only chance. Please...Mulder..."

You nodded, searching your darkness wildly for her eyes. You tried to remain calm, but it didn't last as the fire poured into your bloodstream.

Sweat continued to pour down your body and you soon lost control of your screams. Dana and two orderlies held you down, preventing you from removing the IV, until you could be restrained with velcro straps.

By the time the drugs made it through your arteries and blood vessels, you were screaming without pause, almost mad with agony. The two hours it took for us to get on top of your pain were sheer torment for everyone, including me.

Dana hung onto you grimly and refused to leave your side. You hurled every epithet you could come up with at her, and she took the abuse without flinching. You accused her of trying to kill you, of being unfaithful to you with Phil, of planning your torment with the smoking man. She just held onto you tenderly and kept trying to soothe you.

Finally, blessedly, you passed out. I felt Dana collapse into the chair at your bedside and heard her sobbing.

Since then, busy does not describe what I've been. You've been under such heavy doses of medication the changes occurring in your system haven't really concerned you, with the exception of the chronic dry mouth and the ulcerations that have made swallowing almost impossible.

Since you've slept an average of 22 hours a day, you haven't had to endure the pain (thank God), except for those brief, wakeful moments. Between the medication and my help, we've kept seizures at bay, swelling under control, which made the symptoms of paralysis, aphasia and vision problems transitory. Your wife, your doctors and I have done everything in our power to keep you from suffering, mostly with success.

But your appearance is startling. Between the ravages of this long battle and this last drastic chemotherapy treatment, as well as the drugs we've used to control the treatment's side effects, you look like the living embodiment of Death. But, even though you appear to be in agony, I don't perceive pain on the conscious level, so our analgesic efforts are working. And you're holding your own.

These have been the longest two days of my extremely long life.


"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep."

I've always loved Robert Frost's poetry and this piece especially. It symbolizes the journey that is my life, and yours as well.

She doesn't sleep. Her mother left today after they argued. I'm sure they'll mend the rift. They both realize the tension that fills this room makes for hastily spoken words and sensitive feelings. But Dana still stings from her mother's well meaning advice.

"Let him go, honey. He's suffered enough. Let him go."

But you promised him Dana...

You'd slept through most of the turmoil.

Dana's mother came by to check on her. She peeked into the room and saw Dana curled up in the bedside chair next to you and gasped.

"Dana, honey? How are you doing? How is Fox?"

"Oh, Mom, it's been terrible for him. So terrible..."

I heard them embrace and Dana's muffled sobs.

"How long does he have?" Maggie asked gently.

"We're trying a new treatment, but it's too soon to tell whether it's working yet. It was very...rough...on him." Dana began stroking your forehead.

"Dana...you know Fox has been ill for some time. Don't you think it's time to let him go to God? Putting him through treatment after treatment isn't helping him, it's only extending his suffering. You know he's ready to let go."

"How can you say that?" Dana's voice was enraged. "I can't just kill him!"

"Let him go, honey. He's suffered enough."

They don't know him like you do. He only tried to kill himself when nothing was left.

One glimmer of faith is all Fox Mulder needs to pick up the gauntlet. To fight. How is did he survive the hell that has been his life.

But you know him. And by saying yes to this last ditch effort, you made a vow to be strong for him...to watch his back...to make sure his wishes were honored.

"Let him go, honey. He's suffered enough. Let him go."

They all say it. The doctors. Your friends.

The Assistant Director. Not out loud. But she sees it in their eyes.

They see you, face swollen, bloated, twitching in half-conscious agony. Skin pale, pasty, looking as though it was carved from tallow; glistening with a constant sheen of sweat as you fight the demon pain, which plagues you even in a drugged stupor.

Assistant Director Skinner was gentle.

"When's the last time you slept?"

"I'm not tired. He needs me here," Dana replied.

"No, I think if you'd stop and look into your heart you'd see what he really needs. Agent Sc...Dana, I know you see that he's suffering, suffering terribly. You know that this treatment is a long shot at best. Is this what he wants? Really? Or are you afraid to go on with your life without him?"

"I...love...him like the breath in my body.

I don't want to lose him. But this IS what he wants. I know it in my heart; I know it." Her clutch on your hand tightened. "And I will *be* here with him until he either makes it...or he doesn't. Please, try to understand."

The man paused, then finally sighed his resignation. "I do understand, Dana. If there's anything you need, call me, and I'll be here. I owe it to Mulder. I promised."

Skinner left soon after, and Dana remained quiet.

"Let him go, honey. He's suffered enough. Let him go."

"But I have promises to keep," "Let him go, Let him go."

"And miles to go..."

She doesn't sleep. I don't know how much rest she's had in the past several days, but it can't be much. The nurses bring her meals, offer to watch over you while she rests, but she always refuses.

Then HE arrived. You were moaning, drifting in and out of consciousness when he quietly let himself into your hospital room. She sat next to you, holding your hand and gently stroking your hair. Your eyes were half open, but you weren't conscious.

"You can't do this. This is too much, even for him."

She turned and saw the smoker there, gray and rumpled in his suit.

"What do you want? To gloat?" she asked coldly.

"On the contrary, you seem to be the one who desires his pain. Not me." He glanced at you and shuddered. "I was here the other day...when you began treatment, while he was still conscious. I heard...all the torments of Hell. How can you allow this to continue?" He absently rummaged in his pockets for a pack of cigarettes, but stopped short of lighting up, his haunted stare never moving from your huddled form.

She stiffened. "This is his only chance at life. This will cure him."

"You hope that it will cure him. But what chance does he have, really, beyond your wishful thinking? Hasn't he suffered enough?" The smoker moved closer to you and I could see you reacting to his proximity by trying to move away from him. The simple jostling brought back the pain, and soon you were gasping and cringing into the blankets.

The smoker backed away anxiously, then found Dana's eyes.

"You are the only one who can stop this, you know. Just as you are the only one who is prolonging this useless torment."

"I'll ask you again, for the second time. Why do YOU care?" She got up and moved to stand between your prone body and the smoker.

The smoker was silent for a moment, studying you and Dana, then helplessly spread his hands. "I am his father," he said quietly.

"I don't want his pain. I never wanted that. The pain I have caused him was for the greater good, and only for that purpose.

Mulder knew the risks when he decided to oppose the project. But I have never tormented him solely for the sake of causing him to suffer, as you seem to be." He lowered his hands, staring intently into Dana's face. "Please...let him go. Let my son die with dignity. In peace."

He stood there a moment longer, watching her defiant stance, then shook his head, turned and left.

She moved back to her chair and took up her post again. By your side.

Still she clings to hope. She knows, as I do, that we have a chance at beating this. Her will alone could probably cure you, but she knows, and I think she truly believes at last, that she does have an ace in the hole


me. Whether she actually believes I'm an alien life form residing in her husband or just thinks of me as some kind of "guardian entity" (I wouldn't dare mention myself and the word angel in the same quotation). She knows they're not alone in their fight.

But still, she's afraid. We've only just begun this battle. There's still the radiation treatment ahead and possible surgery. We're all so weary. So very, very tired...

And miles to go before I sleep.

 


Entry no: 2000/12/26-31 continued
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

The protective blanket of medication we've kept you wrapped in lately is beginning to wear thin. Since yesterday you've been conscious more often than not, and while not exactly coherent during all these wakeful times you have been lucid enough that we're now assured your mind has not been permanently affected by the chemotherapy

wash it received. While there's decided weakness in your right side and the blurred vision lingers...

<It's not permanent then?>

Hey, that's pretty sneaky, Fox, I didn't even know you were awake. How do you feel?

<Better. Like shit, but better. Can they do something about my mouth?>

They have been, Mulder. One of the chemo's side effects is chronic dry mouth. When you were out of it you really chewed up everything trying to get some moisture in there. Then, since your immune system's been down you somehow picked up Thrush.

<Thrush?>

It's a yeast infection. You usually see it in nursing babies. We suspect one of the nurses...

<Wow, I must have really been out of it if that's the case...>

...as I was saying, it can be picked up other ways, especially when someone is as susceptible as you are right now. We suspect one of the nurses passed it on treating your mouth ulcers. It's good to hear that laugh again, Fox.

<Give me the right drugs and I'll laugh all you want. How can I get something for the pain?

Where's Scully?>

The button's hanging on the rail to your left.

Scully's gone home to get a change of clothes and probably to do a little laundry, freshen up...

<Good. I know she needs it, she sounds so tired.>

It's been rough, but she has been taking care of herself.

She knows we need her. Wait, here's the nurse. Hey she read your mind. Great, it's the good stuff. I better talk fast. This should put you out before long. Tomorrow we start the Stereotactic radiosurgery.

<I thought they had to fit me with that halo headgear thing?>

They've done that, Mulder. You slept through all of it. The halo, the MRI, the mask, all of it.

They are starting with the pituitary tumor tomorrow. The good news is the brain stem tumor seems to be already shrinking after the chemotherapy. We might not have to hit it.

<What's the bad news?>

Who said there's bad news? You're so paranoid.

<Miriam, what are a normal person's chances of having their bodies invaded by not only a black oily virus that came from a meteor but also by a symbiotic alien life form? I'm a living, breathing example of Murphy's Law.> Well, you got me there. Out of 8 million Symbiotes you wound up with me. But, I bet your luck's changing, Fox.

<Talk to me six months from now. If I'm still here, you win...>

Fox...Fox...Mulder!

<Huh?...What?>

Sh-h-h. Not out loud. The Demerol kicking in?

<Yeah, I guess so. What were we talking about?>

Nothing important. Try to get some sleep.

<Where's Scully?>

She'll be here in a bit. I'll wake you when she gets here...You're down for the count. If you're here in six months, we'll all have won.


Entry no: 2000/01/01
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

When you woke up after the surgery, she was there.

"Mulder? Hey. How ya feeling?" Her voice was soft as she

caressed your hand, carefully avoiding the IV.

"Scully? Why can't I SEE anything? Scully?"

Your voice was panicky as you realized that you were blind in one eye and could only see dimly with the other.

"Mulder, that's normal. The radiosurgery went fine, but the ocular tumor was larger than expected. It had pushed your optic nerve over so much that they couldn't avoid hitting it during the treatment. That's why you're having some trouble seeing. But don't worry, this is temporary. You'll get most of your sight back."

You calmed yourself with an effort. "Most?"

"There was some damage to the optic nerve, but it remains to be seen how much." She was holding her breath, waiting for the reaction.

"I won't be able to qualify on the target range, Scully. There's no way they'll let me work out in the field." Your voice was flat and monotone, as I've heard it before when you are very upset.

"It's over. Even if I beat this, that part of my life is over."

"We don't know that, yet, partner. Let's just wait and see."

"Okay. Okay. I'm tired, now. I'd like to sleep if it's okay?" You turned your face away. She left you to mourn alone, quietly.

Your next waking was even worse. Because of the swelling, you suffered severe nausea, vertigo and headaches. The pain medication hasn't made a dent. Your most severe pain is in your neck and has been mimicking the symptoms of meningitis. As a result, Scully has been here for hours massaging your neck.

"Talk to me, Scully," you murmured. You were lying on your side, legs drawn up, getting your thin, lanky frame almost in a ball. The steroids have given you the typical "moonface" and your body is bloated, and nothing can disguise how wasted your limbs have become.

She paused, flexing her hands, working the kinks out of her fingers. She'd been kneading your rigidly tense muscles for nearly three hours and I'm sure her hands will be frozen into hag-like claws today. She was perched on your bed, behind your bowed back and leaned in close to you ear to speak." What do you want me to talk about?"

You desperately clasped the hand that rested on the side of your neck. "I dunno...please, just talk...to me," your plea was a tight, teeth clenched moan.

Fingers once again began working on your neck. " Um, one of your fish had babies. I don't know which one. I had to put that big black one in another tank. He was eating all the babies.

Did I tell you I bought another tank? It was almost one hundred dollars by the time I got through getting all the stuff. I couldn't believe it.

I think we're going to have to see if there's some kind of birth control we can put in the water or we're going to go broke." She paused from her forced effort at lighthearted conversation, hoping to get a response, some relaxing of the tension in you with her silly patter.

Nothing changed. You were still coiled tightly in your huddled mound, breathing in quick, hissing pants. Her shaky sigh was loud in the quiet room.

She tried once again, "The problem is I don't know enough about fish to tell what sex they are. God, should have made them like birds, where the male is brightly..."

"What's happening on the Coston case?" you gasped, interrupting her steady stream of nonsense.

She paused, trying to decide whether this was a good topic of conversation for you just now.

"Four more bodies have been found since December 5th," she said grimly. "The killer has escalated to one a week but isn't quite as picky as before, or maybe he was interrupted before he was finished, because the signature was different on the last victim. No medal was left and the aging wasn't quite as pronounced. Not as many years stolen. I don't know, maybe it was in the victims' genetic makeup to...to die y-young..."

She froze as soon as the words left her mouth, and turned abruptly away. She tried to move away from you, into the bathroom, I think. Her choking gasps told me she was frantically fighting to keep the tears at bay.

You caught her wrist, groaning as you turned to hold her.

In her attempt to break free she bumped the IV line in your arm. You let go with a sharp yelp of pain.

"I'm sorry," she faltered, fighting her tears.

Once more you found her arm. "Scully, no...please." Groping blindly you found her other arm and pulled her toward you. "It's okay..."

"No, Mulder...it's not okay." She seemed to teeter on a precipice, her strength just this close to finally being spent. The two seasons of being your solace and courage had taken its toll and she was crumbling. "Every time I look at what's happened to you, Mulder, I'm afraid I'm losing you inch by terrible inch. I'm so afraid that we're fighting a losing battle, and you're being tortured for nothing. Why, Mulder?" It was a tortured whisper.

Slowly your desperate grip loosened, "Why?"

Your hand rested lightly against her skin. You could feel her tremble and her tone was a fractured moan. "Are you doing this for me?

Are you putting yourself through this for me?"

The last bit of resolve eroded and she issolved into quaking sobs.

"For us Scully," your own voice shook and once again you pulled her toward you. This time she didn't resist, and she gently moved into your embrace. "I told you, I want forever. I want us to have forever."

Holding her, smoothing her back with soft caressing strokes, you finally drifted to sleep.


Entry no: 2001/02/05
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

I haven't had a moment to spare in a month.

Your treatments were completed five days ago.

You finally came home after almost 5 weeks in the hospital. It looks like we just might have won the main event, at least. All the tumors seem to have died, an amazing feat less than a month after treatment. The doctors are astounded, and I'm rather proud of myself.

The past 5 days have been like a dream for you. I don't think you'd really even hoped you'd make it back to this tastefully decorated flat you two share. You quietly walked into the apartment and sank down on the couch, just quietly admiring furnishings that didn't come in hospital green. Scully watched you fondly, then went to make you some iced tea (with caffeine).

The Gunmen came by with a collection of science fiction videos to keep you entertained during your convalescence. You had trouble controlling your emotions as you thanked them for their thoughtfulness. Although why the complete set of the "Evil Dead" movies should move you to tears is beyond me.

That first night you barely slept. Every hour on the hour you would jerk awake and pause a bit, reassuring yourself that you really were home.

Then you'd gather you wife to you, relishing the simple pleasure of having her lying next to you.

The first couple of days you shuffled about the rooms in a daze, touching the well remembered furnishings, and not just because your eye sight is still dim. You seemed to need this tactile comfort to assure yourself that this all was real.

You are alive. You are on the road to recovery.

You are getting your life back.

Your wife returned to work today. She hadn't planned on going back quite so soon after your release but duty called. Amber Coston's murderer has been dubbed by a frenzied media as the "Dorian Gray Killer". Demands for an arrest have escalated.

The Bureau has been embarrassed by the lack of progress on the case. The one agent familiar with it, fit for duty, has been recalled despite pressing family issues. Your wife has been working long hours bringing the task force up to speed on the work you and she began all those months ago.

Maggie Scully is staying this first week or so to help you adjust and at this point in your recovery, you welcome the help. Chronic fatigue is still very much a problem, naps are still part of your schedule. The Rosie D.

clinic has you on an intense regimen to build up your strength and stamina, with three weekly trips for physical therapy/fitness training at the center. The rest of your time is spent consuming the high calorie diet that has you struggling through six meals plus three snacks.

You claim that's why you're so tired; all your energy is being used in digesting food.

Your pleas to be provided with case materials have been gently denied. Still worried at having almost lost you, Scully is determined to make you rest. So, having Maggie visit with you has a dual purpose, to keep you entertained and to keep you from doing your own investigation and killing yourself in the process. You did just have brain surgery, after all, Mulder.

Your mother-in-law has been good company for you today and she plays a mean hand of poker and a great game of acey-ducey. Scully's paycheck next week will almost cover your losses.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
February 23, 2001

I've got Chinese ordered. Got the table set up complete with the roses and table cloth Maggie dropped off. In a few I'll catch the candles. I've even anticipated she's going to be later than 8:00, obviously. (Just called the time...it's 8:15.) She first called at 6:15 to tell me she wasn't going to make it by 6:00.

I thought I'd practice my typing and write in here for the first time since... shit, prints too small to read that last entry, even with the new glasses. Well, I'm writing in here for the first time in a long time. I'm doing great. My blood work is almost perfect. I've gained 10 pounds since my home coming. I'm almost up to 140 pounds. (Okay, 134, since I'm married to a math geek. A lovely math geek, but...) The fitness training I have on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is helping. (I can work out for a whole 30 minutes if I spread it out over 2 hours.

I only need a two hour nap when I get home.) The strength in my right side is improving. (I can pour myself a glass of milk out of a gallon jug...if it's half empty.) I've even got a full head of hair now. (It's come in this really odd dirty blond, and reminds me of Phil's. Yes, that Phil.

Thin and limp. Still no eyebrows or lashes yet.) Oh, and let's not forget the glasses. Fuck ulder. You can see. Be thankful. Right Miriam?

She's strangely silent tonight. I think I hurt her feelings when I told her that she was either going to disconnect herself and hide in my big toe if Scully and I do happen to wind up using our bed for something other than sleeping tonight. (Yeah, right...she's late and both of us are usually comatose by 10:00) or I'd ignore her for the rest of her life.

(Sure, piss off the alien that gave me 7 cancerous tumors & Hep C.)

Now what was I whining about? Oh yeah, my glasses. The specialist believes that these coke bottles with the Clark Kent frames I'm wearing will help me to relearn to focus and adjust to the damaged optic nerve in my left eye, thereby improving the sight in both eyes. He says that by the end of the summer he can almost guarantee that I should have between 40 to 80% of my vision back. Wow, he's putting his neck out there, isn't he?

The Chinese just came. Now, should I try phoning Scully and find out how much longer she'll be, or should I avoid the frustration and/or possible chance of disappointment that she's going to have to work even later, and just take a chance and light the candles? Do you feel lucky, Mulder?

Wish I could talk her into leaving the file open around me, but she does have a point. Even if she gave me a perfectly photocopied set of documents, I couldn't read 'em anyway. Fat lot of use I am to the investigators.

I just have a feeling that there's more to this case than just a maniac killer. There's something that they aren't seeing...


It's 1:30 a. m. Scully hasn't gotten a chance to call. The candle melted all over Maggie's good table cloth because I zonked out on the couch.

I am lucky I didn't burn the place down. I'm hitting the sack. I'll leave everything out so she can nuke it when she gets in. Navy brat's don't waste food, so she'll have to get something in her. That'll work. Good plan Mulder.

I really am doing great. It just takes time.

Everything's coming along in my recovery twice as fast as they even hoped it would. I'm just an impatient, ungrateful, whiny ass-hole who doesn't deserve the life he's got. Come on out, Miriam, we're sleeping alone again tonight.

Damn, I wish I were back at the office. I wonder what progress they're making?

 


Chapter Thirteen

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
February 24, 2001

Assistant Director Skinner brought my wife home to me at 3:00 a.m. this morning When Skinner led her through the door, she looked up at me blankly, as though she didn't recognize me. Then she stopped, blinked a few times and walked into my arms, burying her head into my shoulder. I have never, never seen Dana Scully this out of it in our entire partnership. I hurriedly checked her for wounds or bleeding then turned to Skinner angrily.

"What the hell happened to her? Why isn't she at a hospital?"

Skinner shrugged helplessly. "Both she and Agent Orlando have already been to the Emergency Room and were found to be uninjured. Drug tests came back clean, so I decided to simply bring Scully home, rather than calling you out to the hospital." He gave me a brief, disconcerted look. "Agent Mulder, I usually have to deal with these kinds of situations regarding you, not Agent Scully. She reported in when she left the morgue at 6:00pm, stating she planned on interviewing the nightshift supervisor of the homeless shelter in which the last victim's family has been living. She and Agent Orlando wound up at this mission, dazed and disoriented, after apparently wandering the streets in some kind of stupor for most of the night. We finally found your car parked in the shelter's side parking lot."

"Let me get this straight. Two agents were left alone and incapacitated, wandering an inner-city neighborhood at night, WITHOUT BACKUP...FOR HOW LONG!?"

Skinner had the grace to look embarrassed.

"I don't have an explanation for it, Agent Mulder. The two certainly never called for help. I began to be concerned when Agent Scully missed an evening teleconference and I wasn't able to raise her on her cell phone.

I drove past the area to check on them and found them, sitting on the front steps of the shelter, just staring into space."

I felt Scully stir against my chest.

"Mulder...I don't remember anything...not anything after I called you. I'm sorry. I missed your dinner. " She looked up at me with a lost expression. I murmured softly for her not to worry about the meal, but she seemed not to hear me. She simply shook her head, puzzled, tears making her eyes glisten.

"I've tried, and I just can't remember. And I feel so tired. I'm so sorry." I glanced up at Skinner, then back at my wife.

"It's okay. Come on and lay down, then. I'll talk to the AD a while longer then I'll be in, okay?" She nodded and I led her into the bedroom and tucked her in.

Skinner was waiting, his expression worried.

I started in. "Don't you have any explanation for what happened to them? You're sure they weren't drugged...or worse?" I folded my arms and tried to hold in my rage. Damn! I should have been there with her.

Skinner shook his head. "No, no injuries.

Believe me, I had them both examined. Not so much as a bruise and no identifiable drugs in their systems. Do you have any explanation?"

"No, other than to comment that they probably met up with our killer. He may have an ability to hypnotize or otherwise

incapacitate his victims long enough for him to kill. But why didn't he just kill them, then?" I glanced over my shoulder at the bedroom door.

Skinner roused himself. "Well, it's late and I should go. Tell Scully to stay home tomorrow and that's an order, would you? I don't want to have to visit her in the hospital." He met my eyes in perfect understanding. Protecting Dana Scully is the one thing he and I will always agree about.

She snuggled up to me as I lay down beside her in the bed. It was so strange, my assuming the role of the giver of comfort, the protector. It's been too long. It felt good to cradle her in my arms, offer her the soothing love she's been giving me. I watched her sleeping soundly, her head nestled in the crook of my arm. I can't make out her features, but I can see, there in the soft light of the bedside lamp, a thatch of silver in her auburn hair. Right at the temple. Has worrying about me caused this? How many years have I've stolen from her?


So today, Scully had her first day off in over a month. I let her sleep until 5, when I woke her up for dinner. I had prepared her favorite, Mulder's Manic Red Hot Chili. She was so touched, she cried. Well, there were tears in her eyes at least...after the first bite.

We spent the evening going over files. I've finally discovered a way I can read the print. Between my coke bottles, the magnifying glass Maggie bought for me yesterday and a thousand watt bulb as my light, I can see just as well as the next agent. They do need help. The list of victims is growing as long as the one Scully has started for invitations to our church wedding.

She's on the right track at least. She and her latest temporary partner, Agent Clarissa Orlando, have gone back to the beginning.

They're refocusing on the suspects in the original 5 murders. At that point, the chief suspect was Amber's estranged husband, Michael Coston. He, of course, was ruled out as a suspect when he was admitted, near death, to St Mary's Hospice right around Thanksgiving. His T-cell count, T-lymphocytes had fallen to 7. T-cells are a type of white blood cell. A healthy adult's T-cell count is usually around 1000. Anything lower than 200 is a sure sign of a severely impaired autoimmune system. The fact the man is still alive, over three months later, caught my interest.

"Scully, when is the last time anyone checked up on Michael Coston?" I asked, stunned that in the last report she had with her, dated December 12, his T-cells had miraculously risen to 320. "Check this out. This is the last time anyone interviewed Coston's doctor.

The day after the Andrew's girl was found, his T-lymphocyte test showed his T-cells had quadrupled from the prior test, a week before. That was after going up to 80 from 7."

The folder was snatched from me before I had a chance to look further.

"That's impossible!"

"Hey, It's there in black and white." I am rather proud of myself that I'm reading again. Not that my eyesight has improved enough for me to be reinstated, but...

Scully read on, squirming with excitement.

Oh, how I love to make her squirm. I was duly rewarded for my help in the case. Just one of the little known perks of being married to a Special Agent of the FBI.

I do think someone should be watching Michael Coston.

And, of even more concern to me, I think Scully may have already been a victim of our killer. While I was reading over the casenotes, I heard her muttering in the bathroom.

"Damn! Where did that come from?"

"Scully? Something wrong?" I looked up as she came out of the bathroom, holding a hairbrush.

"Nothing but time, I guess. I just found my first gray hair. A lot of them, actually. I could swear they weren't there yesterday."

She sighed. "Mom told me that they sneak up on you like that, but I didn't believe her. Time to see the hairdresser, I suppose."

I didn't know what to say, so I just looked at her then held her very very close when she snuggled next to me on the couch.

I am going to that hospice. Scully will NOT go there alone ever again.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
February 26,2001

Scully hasn't been at all sanguine about my suggestion that I go undercover at the St.

Mary's Hospice. She points out, logically, I suppose, that until very recently I was dying myself and that any undercover assignment is risky.

Of course, I promptly pointed out that for a dying man, a hospice is an ideal place to be.

She refused to see the point. Just stared at me with the stricken look that tears me apart inside. With that single look she reminds me of the half year of hell she went through by my side.

But I just can't let this rest. I can't.

Miriam has been trying to talk me out of this as well. Oddly enough a conversation with Miriam is what decided me.

<Miriam? You never really explained about why you gave me the Hepatitis C in the first place, about what you got out of the whole thing, and why you changed your mind so abruptly and decided to save me...> Yeah. I suppose I owe you an explanation.

Before you were always too sick to question.

Well, you know that my form of life is very long-lived?

<Uh huh. You live for thousands of years.> That's right. But the trade off is that we live our lives through others. We never experience it ourselves, and culturally, our primary role is to observe and not act independently.

<So why did you change?>

Boredom. I saw the lives of the humans I lived with and wanted some of...well, some of the excitement for myself. But by myself I wasn't able to feel anything with most of my hosts. Only a very select few. Then your society invented chemotherapy drugs. The first host I had who got chemo...it was like a wall fell away. I could feel her pain, her anguish, her will to live. It was like living myself. I had to have more. And, in a sense, I fed off you. The experience gave me a jolt of your energy. As you were depleted, so I grew stronger.

<So you were a kind of parasite?> Something like that. The drugs let me feel something, anything, and over time I began to get interested in the human experience, your will to live. How bright your emotions are and how they burn.

<So that's why you gave me all those diseases after you latched onto me. Why didn't you kill me like the others?>

I didn't kill them; not directly anyway. Most of them committed suicide, burned out by the fear, the constant illness. With you, Mulder, I found that I felt emotion anyway regardless of the drugs. And the energy I drew from you didn't satisfy me. Then, when you were estranged from Scully, I found that I...cared for you.

<Whoa! You aren't going to swear undying love for me now, are you?>

Of course not, we're different species!

That's sick, Fox. No, what I mean is that I found that I was seeing you as a friend, someone I liked as a person. I couldn't let myself be the cause of your death, especially through my own ineptness.

<So, Miriam are you typical? Are your people the real cause of the cancer that we've been trying to find a cure for all these years?> Of course, I'm not typical. I'm one of a kind. Actually, if a human has cancer, his best friend would be his Symbiote. Our number one duty is to assure the survival of our host. There are lots of us, living simple lives among you. But there are

other..aberrations... This killer you are searching for could well be one of my people.

<Another Symbiote? How?>

I fed off emotions, enhanced by the drugs. It is conceivable that another of my kind has discovered a way to feed off the life force of a host, draining him dry. The younger the host, the more life force there is to be collected.


That conversation gave me a lot to think about. When Miriam became aware of what I was planning, she was horrified. She pointed out that she'd just gone to a great deal of trouble to restore my 'life energy' and didn't want to see me wasting it by feeding another Symbiote.

I told her to stop being jealous, that I wasn't planning on being unfaithful to her with any strange aliens. I made a call to Skinner.

"No," he said flatly. "Absolutely not. You are not even to consider riding with Agent Scully when she is out on official business."

"I'm the logical choice, you know that," I replied, calmly enough. "I know more about this case than any of the other task force members except for Scully."

"Scully's on the case and already planning on going undercover as a nurse." Skinner paused at my long silence. "Didn't she tell you?"

"There are apparently some things that my WIFE has decided not to share with me," I gritted back. "That makes it even more imperative that I go along. She needs somebody to guard her back. She doesn't know the danger she's in. Look what happened the other night."

"And you think you do? What do YOU think happened the other night?" Skinner still sounded skeptical, but he was coming around.

"I don't know, but she may have met up with our killer. She needs the backup and I'm the only one who has any inkling of what we're dealing with, a sort of vampire that steals the years from his victims," I replied calmly.

Skinner was quiet as he tried to digest my bombshell. I'll give him credit, he's come a long way since my first X file with him.

"You haven't even been released for active duty yet," he began. Then, before I could interrupt, he added "I'll think about it."


Entry no: 2000/02/27
Report of: #818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

You both are sleeping soundly, so I decided to make an entry. I'm concerned that you are getting too involved in this "Dorian Gray"

case. Dana doesn't see it, but you are worming your way into the thick of things and it is entirely too soon for you to be subjecting yourself to such strain. You're still not well, Fox. You've also found away to hide some of your thoughts from me, so I'm in the dark again about what is going on in that head of yours. It scares me, being shut out like this.

She came home last night, worn out, near tears. There were two murders discovered yesterday. One of the victims was a four year old boy. Now, I agree with her. Something needs to be done, but why do they need you involved. You're not even a month out of the hospital.

You sensed her distress the minute she sank down on the couch. She refused your offer of a glass of wine to help her unwind. Instead she wearily pushed herself up and fixed herself a Captain Morgan's on the rocks. The bottle she pulled out from its place next to the kitchen sink had more dust on it than Frohike's dance card, which made her solitary drinking all the more distressing for you.

"What's wrong Dana?" you murmured, ignoring the look she gave you at your use of her given name. Hell, you had me upset. I've never heard you even think of her as "Dana".

She told of the most recent events in what you two have been calling "The Coston Case", then went on to inform you that her second autopsies, following the exhumation, of Amber Coston and Gillette turned up nothing new.

There were no irregularities found in either desiccated corpse's immune systems.

"Mulder, this is probably all just another dead end. Coston and his girlfriend were both under surveillance from Gillette's murder until he was admitted into the hospice. They never left the house during the time span when the other murders were committed. I think we're wasting our time." Utter exhaustion filled her voice. "Oh, and no one has seen his girl friend, Elizabeth Anderson, for a month. Coston's house is deserted and she hasn't shown up for her volunteer work at the Pediatric Aids unit since December. I think she and Coston have broken up. The supervisor at the hospice says she still hasn't been by to see him."

"Scully, I still think there's something here. You got Coston's test results. They all show elevation of his T-cells immediately following each murder. I'll bet if he was tested tomorrow, he'd be at an all time high." Your hand rubbed at the tense muscles in her neck, and her eyes closed in silent appreciation.

"Well, they'd have to be higher. I spoke to his doctor today and if they were any lower he'd be dead. Mulder, there's no way he's involved in this."

"Scully, there's no way the man should still be alive. So unless a little Miriam has set up housekeeping in him, I have to think he's getting the life that's being stolen from these victims."

She ignored the reference to me, frowning at your wild leap in logic. "So I'm supposed to continue on in this and tell Skinner that I'm investigating a man who rises from his death bed to feed off of people's life force."

You paused, mulling over the facts of the case, then a huge grin lit up your face.

"Well, actually Scully, I think someone has been bringing him takeout."

"So you suspect the girlfriend is doing the murders and transferring the energy or life force or what ever to Coston?,"Scully questioned, her brow furrowed in surprise.

"Why? What makes you think it's her?"

"I just have a feeling, I guess. I'm not saying it is her, I was reading over the transcripts from the Scartini case. The agents who did the surveillance of Coston's house documented every move Coston makes. All they say about her is simply, 'Suspect Elizabeth Anderson never left the bedroom.' Doesn't that sound strange?"

Scully shrugged, "Well, maybe she never left the bedroom."

"But all of the reports are like that. They all go into minute detail about Coston, but when it come to the girl-friend, it's almost like she wasn't there."

She glanced at the file you handed her. I do think you have her wondering. But I feel you have something else lurking there in those twisted synapses of your mind, that makes you suspect this woman.

Something you are choosing not to tell us.

Like I said, this whole thing frightens me. I just have a feeling.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF FOX MULDER
March 01, 2001

She argued. She yelled. I argued. I yelled. We were both convinced that we made perfect sense.

"No, Mulder. It's too dangerous. You can't do this, you're still..."

"Sick? Is that all I am? I'm so tired of that word defining me. Scully, why did you marry me? Because I was dying? So that you could have somebody to take care of? Damn it, I'm NOT sick any more. And I'm more than capable of taking on this case." I glared at her, suddenly conscious of how much weight I'd lost and how absurd that speech seemed in light of this fact. Mentally yes, but okay, physically maybe I still had a way to go.

She was thinking the same thing as she ran her eyes down my cavernous frame. "Mulder, I almost lost you..." Her voice trembled.

That did me in and I grabbed her into a bear hug, showing her how much strength I've gained. "But you didn't lose me, Scully. And I can't let you go in there alone. I'm still your *partner*, regardless of all those nincompoops Skinner has stuck you with."

"They're not all nincompoops. Clarissa's just young," Scully said into my chest.

I rested my chin on the top of her head.

"Okay, she's young. But may I remind you that another young agent managed to shoot you and almost kill you. I could never forgive myself for being miles away when that idiot put you in the hospital. Scully, please, I have to be there. You weren't doing me any favors keeping me in the dark. And look at what happened the other night."

"What happened the other night? Really, Mulder." Her eyes glazed as she tried to remember. I felt my stomach sink with fear.

She needs someone to watch her back, someone more than a green rookie. She needs me. She looked up and met my eyes. "You really feel that you're ready?"

I nodded. "Yes. I'm ready. And, unless my eyesight improves further, this will probably be my last case." I could feel myself begging, without shame. "If this is the end of my career, Scully, if this is my last X file, I want to go out having solved it."

She looked troubled, then nodded. "Okay, I'll back you with Skinner."


Entry no: 2001/03/01
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

When you called her to the bathroom, I could sense her fear even before she jerked open the door. The way your loud, hoarse, "Scully!" set her heart to pounding, I'm surprised she didn't pass out the moment she heard it. The loud shriek she, herself, let out at seeing what you were doing to yourself made you jump so that your scalp almost wound up as a trophy for her.

"Jesus Christ, Scully," you exclaimed, hastily grabbing a flurrying strip of toilet paper, making the soft tissue into tiny pink wads to stop the flow of blood from the three, inch long scrapes you'd inflicted on your soon to be bare (again) pate.

The wild, skittering giggles that came from her next really didn't surprise or wound you. Even without your glasses you knew you were a ridiculous sight, the back of your head still covered with white shaving creme; little dabs of blood darkened paper stuck here and there on the shiny, white skull you'd exposed. Squinting to see your reflection, you began to laugh, too. The blurred image staring back at you called to mind nothing more than the rounded cheeks of a baby's bottom.

"Oh, Mulder," she shocked you again when she came up behind you and wrapped her small arms around you to pull you close


her careening

giggles had turned into tears.

"It's okay, Scully," you softly comforted.

The many reasons for her sudden weeping flitted across your brain. You shuffled through them quickly, frantically trying to gage which was the correct one.

<Reminds her of the cancer...she liked (?) me blond...I'm using her razor and didn't ask...I look like I did after chemo...I'm getting blood on the pink guest towel...the cancer reminder...gotta be, it reminds her of that...shit, it does me, too...that and a baby's little pink...>

"Mulder, Skinner hasn't even said you can go...why did you do it?" You were relieved to see she was trying to paste a brave smile across her face, but the tremor in her voice tore at your gut. "You know it's not for sure yet."

<She doesn't want me on the case...she's worried...she's afraid something might happen to me...I'm still not well...she could get hurt, too, though...always a

possibility...we're so much closer now...I know how much I love her now...if-when...when I go back to work...when I get back in the field...can we still work as partners...?

will it still work...if I do go with her to the hospice, can I really protect her?> "Mulder," her softly spoken whisper broke your chain of thought. Her crying had ceased.

The light was good in the bathroom. You could see a tiny smile stealing at the corners of her mouth. This was the clearest you'd seen her in...forever. It was her turn again to be surprised, so you leaned to taste those soft, mint-flavored lips. You pulled away, and she searched your face, a puzzled frown etching the lines on her brow. "What did you call me in here for?"

Reasonable question, but her timing sucks, Mulder. I've never heard her sing. Is she off key there, too?

"Can you do the back for me?" you asked, searching for the razor. She bent and retrieved it from the floor, studying it with sudden recognition. "I know, I couldn't find mine. I've been using it for a couple of days. I'll get you a whole new pack of blades. I promise."

"You'd better. Give me a boost up. I'm gonna have to kneel on the cabinet."

You complied. You must have interrupted her dressing for Skinner's visit tonight. She hadn't gotten a chance to put on any panties. The long, silk blouse, hanging below her hip, slipped up as you aided her leap. Your hand lingered on the softly firm expanse of hip that was exposed. On her knees she seemed to be the perfect height for the task at hand. She began to smoothly, efficiently shave off the sparse dark blonde wisps you'd left after your initial butcher haircut with the scissors. She was fairly proficient at this task. "You're pretty good at this, Scully..."

"Lots of practice..." she murmured, moving close to your ear.

"Let me guess; it was while you were screwing the football team in college," you grinned, dabbing at the sweat which was beginning to dot your face. It wasn't hot in the bathroom, maybe this was a symptom of a brief, 24 second bug?

"No, it was when I was boning up on my fellatio skills with my high school's basketball team. You know I like them tall," she murmured smoothly, her fingertip lightly resting against your neck to steady her hand.

The room grew quiet, nothing but the scrape of blade against skin, her deep relaxed breath and your faint, tuneless, humming.

Then, once again her warm breath teased your ear, "almost done."

"You're quick, Scully."

"Scully-Mulder, and I'm good, too." She glanced down your body and ran a little pink tongue over her lips. "Any other hair that you need...personally groomed?"

She carefully unbuttoned her silk shirt and, with a shift of her shoulders, it slithered off her body and landed in a shiny puddle on the floor. Never looking away from you, she quickly unclasped her bra and let that fall too.

The air was suddenly thick and sultry. You wiped the back of your hand across your mouth, your tongue flicking quickly to wet your lips, tasting salt. You know, I think you could pick up a good ventilation fan at K-mart for under $50 dollars. That might help with the moisture in this room and th...

<Time to go to the toe, Miriam.>

Just let me finish with this...

<NOW, Miriam. Disconnect, NOW!>

Hey, I know I agreed to give you two privacy when you...Wait...Oh, God, you're not going to do it right here on the floor? The bedroom's just 10 feet...

<Say goodnight, Miriam...>

Bite me, Mulder.


You neglected to tell me I could rehook before you fell asleep, Mulder, and I almost missed documenting the assistant director's visit. When she heard Skinner's familiar sharp, no-nonsense rap, Dana left the bedroom door ajar and rose from the bed where you two had made love the second time (your stamina's coming back).

I already the arguments. Skinner's deep, clear tones always travel so well, so I could easily follow the conversation. She is a master at calm, gently leading persuasion. She's pretty good at heavy handed hard sell, too. I guess the woman just knows how to get what she wants, huh? She knows exactly how to handle Skinner. I think even he knew it was over before she opened her mouth.

I could hear this in his tone, even as he asked her that first question. "You've discussed this with Agent Mulder? Do you think his request is reasonable?"

She sighed. "There's a bed available in Coston's room, immediately. If you approve we can have everything set up and be on the case tomorrow morning. This will offer us direct, 24 hour surveillance of his visitors."

"And you're telling me that you support this suicide mission of Mulder's? Two months ago he was dying."

"Yes, sir. Neither Agent Orlando nor I could get as close to Coston as Mulder could." She saw he was just playing out the game, so she revealed her hand. "Mulder has volunteered to serve as my cover. Clarissa will stay as night shift supervisor, but I plan on playing the concerned wife."

I'm sure Skinner's face remained that inscrutable mask, but I detected a grin in his voice. Honestly. "Yes, I believe you could assume that cover and make it entirely believable."

There was another pause. This one ticked by slowly. "You know I'm sticking my neck out even considering this. You know he there's no way he would be considered fit for duty.

I'm only agreeing to this because you're right, this would be the best way to get 24 hour a day surveillance of this man and...well, maybe I've learned to trust his hunches. Maybe, after 8 years with you two, I'm having 'feelings', too. I think Coston IS the key. But...Mulder is to be considered a civilian in this operation," he said firmly, with argument not an option."His safety is the number one priority. You are never to leave his side, for ANY reason unless relieved by another Agent...or myself.

Am I clear?"

"Absolutely, sir"

"And Agent, I need you to answer one question," he spoke slowly, in low even tones.

"If I can, sir." Dana sounded relieved. I wonder why she had any doubt? How often has the assistant director told HER no? Never since I've been here.

"How exactly did he talk you into this?"

There went that smile. Maybe Skinner has a smile only we Symbiotes can hear.

"Sir, he played the 'this might possibly be my last chance to investigate an X-File' card." Your wife's voice sounded a little bitter.

A moment of stunned silence followed.

"Ah, he plays cut-throat," Skinner commented dryly, breaking the quiet.

"He stacked the deck, sir. He cheats."


Chapter Fourteen

FIELD JOURNAL
Case Number: X-10661013

Agent: Fox Mulder
Date: March 5, 2001

Based on Agent Scully's field notes, I see that minimal progress has been made on the case since my illness. However, the killer cannot say the same. The murders first escalated in December, averaging one a week until mid-February. Since February 23, there has been one approximately every 4 days with the exclusion of the 27th. On that date there were two murders committed.

After the first 5 crimes, there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to the killer's choice of victim, but the location of where each withered, youth robbed corpse has progressively inched toward the inner-city, crime laden areas of town. I speculate that this is because of the simple fact that the killer knows that fewer crimes are solved in these less affluent sections. Life is cheap on the poor side of town, so a body can often go unnoticed or ignored. The 'Dorian Gray' killer might well have more victims that have yet to be reported.

Because of this, and the fact that that later murders appear to be more random, perhaps more impulsively committed, this report will focus exclusively on the first 5 crimes.

Additionally, studies have shown that a serial killer will usually begin his series of murders in places that are familiar and comfortable to him, branching out later as he gains confidence.

Commonalties: All five of the initial victims were known to Michael Coston.

All were residents of the greater DC area.

Most significantly, all had ties to the Washington, DC Youth Soccer League. The last

two found of this original quintet , victims four and five, were young girls, aged 14, members of the team Coston coached. The third, also 14, was from another team in the same league, a team that had been coached by Michael Gillette, 37, the second victim.

Amber Coston, 25, was the first victim, and Michael Coston's wife.

Michael Coston
DOB: 6/1/1955
Occupation: Bartender

Family: Has one daughter, Annie (age 10), from a prior marriage which ended in divorce 7 years ago. That first wife, Cynthia, died in an auto accident five years ago and the child is being raised by her maternal grandparents. Second wife, Amber, found dead under suspicious circumstances. They were married two years. He is currently seeing a woman, Elizabeth Anderson, age and occupation unknown.

Priors: Michael Coston pled 'no contest' to one charge of spousal abuse in 1992. The sentence was time served in jail and community service. In 1996, he pled guilty to two charges of ADW (assault with a deadly weapon) and one count of possession of cocaine, in return for a suspended sentence and promise to attend drug rehab. No further convictions, but probation officer report states that Coston was suspected of IV drug use, although drug tests came back clean.

General Background: Coston is an orphan and was raised in an children's home run by the Sisters of the Holy Trinity in Virginia.

Raised Catholic and apparently is still practicing.

Query: Does he have a stash of St. Jude medals?

Coston was diagnosed with HIV in May of last year. He has been undergoing treatment, but it appears not to have been effective. In late November, 2000 he was admitted to St.

Mary's Hospice. His condition is considered terminal, although at times he is ambulatory and reasonably able to care for himself. His T-Cell count is notable in that it dips immediately before a killing and improves immediately following one. I suspect that somehow he is replenishing himself from the life force of the murder victims; perhaps through the help of his girl friend.

Plan of Action: I have discussed the case with AD Skinner and Agent Scully and propose an undercover operation to elicit evidence of the murders. I have suggested that since this agent requires no special research or makeup to feign a life-threatening illness, that it would be effective to assign this agent to an undercover post in the hospice as another patient.

Agent Scully has agreed that I shall act as her cover in this matter. AD Skinner has approved the plan. Accordingly, tomorrow I will be admitted to the hospice as Fox Mulder, an FBI agent on permanent medical disability, nearing the final stages of terminal brain cancer. I have been assigned to Coston's room. Agent Scully will pose as my wife, Dana Scully-Mulder, who is currently on spousal medical leave from the bureau.

Agent Clarissa Orlando, formerly a registered nurse before she joined the Bureau, will pose as the hospice night shift supervisor.


Entry no: 2001/03/05
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

I know you're ignoring me right now. I don't care. Part of your punishment for doing this is having to listen to me ranting and raving in your head. You know you deserve it. The other part of your penance, of course, will be knowing what you've done to the refound trust you and your wife have enjoyed lately.

You just HAD to be here, in the thick of things. Was getting your way worth what you've lost? I hope so, Fox. If nothing happens, if you both survive this little operation, it's a decision you're going to have to live with. You know this, because you can't hide the fact from me that you realize how much you've hurt her with your selfishness. Still, "I'm sorry" doesn't even begin to make it better. So go ahead, roll over on your side and sulk in your guilty misery. I'm making this report; your sins are being encoded on your DNA for posterity. Everyone who reads this archival record will know exactly what an asshole Fox W. Mulder is.

Yes, Mulder, the alien is pissed at you.

I won't even mention the fact that you are totally exhausted, almost to the point of illness, because you stayed up all night preparing the 'Field Report'. Getting your little jollies playing secret agent again...

<Not secret agent, it's Special Agent...> Whatever...I just find it amusing how you refer to yourself in the third person..." I'm Fox Mulder


F.B.I". You're such a putz.

<hrmph>

What was that, Mulder? ...Oh, another nothing, I guess.

We all were nervous in the car on the way over here. Little did I know that you had more reason to be filled with angst than either Dana or I. You were about to let us in on a little something you'd deduced from your study of the files. Oh, yes, you pored over those files after Maggie brought you that magnifying glass. I think you must have read every word, committing each syllable to memory. That's why your eyes are bothering you so much today. Right? Are you going to confess to Scully that her backup is half blind because of eye strain today? Tell me, how are you going to protect her back, Mulder, when you can't even see?

<Fuck!>

"What's wrong, Fox?" Oh, so she is talking to you.

"Nothing, Dana." Nothing, nothing but your conscience bothering you. Ha! She called you Fox.

"Do you need something?" Oh, listen to her performance...Fox. She has to play the caring wife. I'll bet she'd love to kick your ass.

"No." No, you don't need anything or no you don't believe Scully wants to kick your ass?

"No, I don't need anything...DANA honey."

Honey? You know, if I had a stomach, I'd be heaving right now. Honey. Pleeze. Now, where was I...?

<You were betting Scully wants to kick my ass.>

No, nimrod. I mean in my report...

<You were just getting ready to tell what I said to Scully when we first got here at the hospice.>

Oh, okay, thank you. Shut up and let me finish. As I was saying, we'd pulled up in the parking lot, and we all took a few minutes to collect ourselves.

"Scully..." you began.

"Dana," she prompted, with a slight smile.

"Hey, if you slip every now and then, don't worry. Even though we're not hiding that we "were" FBI, there's no sense in reminding the man of the fact that we 'used to be' law enforcement constantly. He's probably going to remember us. After all, we did

investigate his wife's death. It'll make him nervous enough as it is. I know it's hard to believe, G-man, but most couples don't call each other by their last names."

The fact that you let her gentle teasing go by without comment must have set off a red flag because I immediately sensed the tension rising up in her. "Mulder? What's wrong?"

"I'm Fox. Remember," you murmured softly, then oddly, you brought your hand up to finger that shock of silver that sprayed down from her temple. Even as poor as your sight is today, you couldn't miss that splash of white as it glistened in the early morning sun. "Where did you get this gray?" Even though you spoke your query in soft, even tones, I could feel your stomach clench in dread as you waited for her answer. I just didn't know why.

That brow went up. She couldn't quite figure out if you were teasing. "I'm getting old, I guess."

"Scully, the gray's been there since your birthday," you whispered, your voice suddenly tight.

"My birthday, thanks for reminding me how old I am, Mulder," she muttered, a bit of strain in her voice. I guess she didn't think it was nice of you to rub it in.

"Scully, I mean that when you went to work the morning of February 23, the gray wasn't there. When Skinner brought you home next morning, it was." You spoke softly, evenly, but your heart pounded in your chest. Your wall that had been blocking me crumbled. I knew at that moment what you'd been hiding. I share your fear.

You sighed, and I could feel all the muscles in your body tense. "Scully, I think you and Clarissa found the 'Dorian Gray' killer that night, but I think you were made to forget."

She gave you a quizzical look, so you continued.

"Two sets of agents surveying the Coston house used identical phrases to describe how Elizabeth Anderson spent her evening, establishing her alibi. Isn't it odd that those nights were the *only* evenings she spent alone in her bedroom. All the other nights she was seen watching television with Michael Coston." You stared at her, not really see that face, but begging her to listen to you. "And none, not one of those agents ever noticed that those were the only three evenings she was out of view the entire time, or that they had all used identical sentences to describe her activities in their reports."

You rubbed at your stinging eyes as you allowed her to digested this

information...just like you're rubbing them now. They hurt so much. Your vision is so completely blurred that if this killer does show up tonight and something goes wrong, you're going to be worse than useless. When the nurse brought you to this room, you weren't just playing your role when you barely made it over to the bed from that wheel chair, were you? You were so tired you could hardly stand...

<I'm fine.>

Liar...you are such a liar...

<I SAID I'M FINE!!>

Go ahead and scream at me. Clench your fist.

Okay, now the pout. Ha-ha. Now that I got you good and mad, where was I?

<You were...>

I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to myself. I'm making a report, so shut up. This is my job. Oh, yes...You then proceeded to remind Scully of her interview with the two agents who had been on duty at the Coston house the night when both the first and third teenagers were murdered.

"Scully, I think all the agents who watching Coston house were attacked, just like you and Clarissa were. Remember how the rookie, Sharpe, claimed that both he and his partner had felt like they'd aged 10 years after the three month of this stakeout."

She slowly nodded. "He said he'd hadn't really been joking when he told his partner, Agent Davis, that Coston finally getting sick enough for a hospice is what saved both their lives. I remember he was chuckling when he told me, 'I'm only 28, but this case has given me gray hair.'" Her own hand fluttered up to flit across that shock of silver. "I thought he was joking, Mulder. What does this mean? You think Elizabeth Anderson is doing this? You think she's our killer?"

You bobbed your head, then passed a hand across your face, fingers pressing hard against aching eyes. "She didn't stay in the bedroom. She slipped out and did something to both Sharpe and Davis and ah, the other two..." That you couldn't even remember the names showed just how weary you are.

"Romanowski and MacCaffery," Dana replied.

"So you're claiming that Elizabeth Anderson can actually cloud peoples minds? And make their hair turn gray?"

You didn't look up. Your head remained bowed as you continued. "Scully, the point I'm trying to make is we're facing a killer who has the ability to somehow stun and confuse her victims. This power not only allows her to kill at will, but also allows her to come and go as she pleases, never having to worry about covering her tracks." Finally you looked up, and leaned close to her, wanting to hold her interest, needing to make your point, " Elizabeth Anderson held your life in her hands the other night. She could have killed you and you would have never seen it coming."

"Then, why didn't she kill me, Mulder?" Her voice was flat and toneless.

"Because she didn't want to. I don't know Scully, I guess she, just decided she didn't want YOU. You're too old. She needs more years than you can give her." You squinted, trying to see her face. Your eyes were filled with tears as you lightly brushed at her hair. "But still, she stole from you. A month, a year...Scully, she took some of your life."

"Mulder, that's ridiculous! I agree that Elizabeth Anderson is a suspect, but I think she's using some kind of drug or chemical agent to both subdue her victims and probably to alter the memories of witnesses. A chemical poisoning could certainly mimic the neurological damage we found in the autopsies that looks so much like Alzheimer's. But I draw the line at the idea of a youth-sucking vampire as the cause for all these killings!"

You quirked a smile and replied, "Hey Scully, you gotta admit they exist. I mean, Dick Clark's been doing it for years, hasn't he?"

She gave you a long and angry look, absently tugging at her greyed lock of hair, then shook her head and left the room.


That was 3 hours ago. I don't think Dana has spoken two word to you since. Well, at least none that weren't required by her role as the dutiful wife of a dying husband. I know what she's felt. My emotions have wavered from the initial gut-wrenching fear-laced shock on discovering that we're probably up against more than we'd bargained for, to

disappointment and pain. Mulder, it hurts that you were so selfish, you hid important information from us.

Now, this last hour or so, the anger has hit me like a ton of bricks. It's rather obvious, your wife has been assaulted by rage too. You never really told either of us what you truly suspected was going on.

We trusted you, Fox William Mulder, and all we got were half truths and lies of omission. It's not important that you lied to the alien, you owe me nothing after all the pain I've caused you. But you also lied to the woman who promised to spend her life with you, who just spent half a year bringing you back from the Pearly Gates, sparing herself nothing in the process. You haven't given a thought to either her feelings or her safety.

That she doesn't believe your theory is irrelevant. I believe you and I think that the danger is real. But what frosts me the most is that this all happened because you just had to have this chance. 'Spooky's' back from the dead, just in time to solve the case, the one nobody else could crack. After eight months, countless man hours wasted, you ride in and save the day. The crowd goes wild! Listen to those cheers!

You know, this might really be your last hurrah, Mulder. The final case of your career. But if things go sour, it just might be her last case as well.

<Shut up.>

You need to sleep, Mulder.

<Just shut up...please. No more...> All right. I'll stop. But, try to get some sleep. Okay? Mulder?


You did finally drift off, not coming out of your exhausted coma until almost 4 in the afternoon. Both Scully and I had cooled off a bit. She was actually starting to get a bit worried that you'd slept so long and so deeply. I think she realized how you'd pushed yourself, these last few days, just to the edge of your endurance. She'd finally given into her fears and had placed a gentle hand on your neck to check your pulse when you opened your eyes.

"Feel better?"

Your vision was still dim, so all you could see was a faint blur. The lighting was very muted in this sickroom, but you heard the soft smile in her voice. I know, I got a nice little tingle from the wash of relief that covered you from your bald head to that damnable big toe.

You nodded, managing to return her grin and touched her face, lingering to feel those tender, upturned lips.

"Good. I'm going to go grab a shower, you okay for a while?"

Your smile turned wicked, "Can I join you?"

The woman should win an Oscar for the sad, winsome tilt that she placed on her lips, her eyes misting just a touch. It was a perfect performance of a soon to be widow, grieving over the reminder that her life's partner's spirit might be willing, but alas, his flesh is now weak. Bravo! It did deserve at least an Golden Globe. I hope Coston was watching this touching scene, since it was of course played out for his benefit. You didn't do to bad yourself. You kept a straight face at least.

You'd just heard the door close and the spray of water begin when your hitherto silent roomie spoke for the first time. "She's sure got a tight reign on you, buddy."

"Huh?" You didn't quite understand what he'd said and turned toward him, staring to see through the gloom. I'd understood, which explains my snicker.

"I said it looks like the ol' ball and chain's got you a little whipped, fibbie."

His chuckle was harsh. He softened his tone a bit since his comment had been met with stony silence. "Hey, no offense meant. My girlfriend sometimes goes overboard, too.

They just don't know how to deal with being around us, I guess. It's gotta be touch being in love with a ' dead man walking'. Still, sometimes I think she forgets my dick didn't fall off when my hair fell out."

"Yeah, dying's a bitch," you commiserated, groaning as you rolled over to your side to better converse with your suspect. Your nap had left you stiff, but helped you to be all the more convincing in your role. A few moans and groans just makes it believable.

"Hey, I recognize you now. I recognized your wife the moment she came in, but

you...wow...holy shit, man...you look like hell." Coston's husky voice bespoke a genial air, but he isn't exactly the most tactful of men, is he?

"I remember you, too, and I gotta tell you, I think you passed 'death warmed over' a while back, yourself," you retorted. I do believe his little try at dying male bonding stung the old ego a bit, huh Fox?

His laughter came out sounding like an overheated radiator, ending in a cough. "I have my ups and downs," he wheezed, trying to catch his breath.

"Sounds like you're on the lower part of the swing today," you snapped. The truth that his condition was sinking, and everything this implied, gave you a sudden chill.

Costen's next statement stunned you, making you realize just how sure this man was that his secret method of prolonging life was safe. "Oh, when my Beth gets here, I'll perk up. That woman's a miracle worker." He gave a soft, sly laugh. Fortunately, his lungs held together after this last bit of jocularity.

"Beth?"

"My girlfriend, you met her, didn't you?"

Coston suddenly seemed a bit confused. He thought for a moment, then nodded. It seemed he was speaking to himself, almost as though he'd forgotten you were there. "Yeah, Beth was with me when Amber died. Of course.

God, those women hated each other..."

There was a pause, and I felt you tense. You didn't really expect a death bed confession now did you, Fox? You waited in vain, then finally broke the silence. "No, I never met her. Is she coming today?"

"God, I hope so." He sighed wearily. "Hey, I got a picture of her here somewhere."

Coston was still looking for the shot of Elizabeth when Scully exited the bathroom a few moments later.

"Do you need some help, Mr. Coston?" she asked, puzzled by his frantic rummaging.

"No, ah, here it is," he sighed in relief.

"My girlfriend, Beth. Did you meet her Agent Scully?"

"Mrs. Scully-Mulder, but just call me Dana," she murmured, moving over to Coston's bed.

"No, I didn't."

There was a sudden, heart beat long hush.

"Do you mind if I show Fox?"

"Naw, I wanted him to see her. She's pretty, huh?"

"Lovely," Scully replied.

We both noticed the odd strain in her voice when she spoke. "She is pretty isn't she, Fox?" she prompted, flashing the snapshot before your face.

"Yeah, she is," you lied, barely able to see the paper, much less make out what was on it.

"Here, let me get you some light so you can see her better." Her tone had grown puzzled, and she hurriedly pulled on the arm of the bedside lamp, trying to adjust it so you could see Coston's girlfriend clearly.

Finally she gave up when she failed to read the response she wanted in your face. You felt her withdraw, giving the man back his picture.

The tension that began with this interaction lingered. The conversation died and the room grew quiet. The only sound was your wife's nervous fidgeting. Finally she rose from her bedside chair and softly announced, "Let's go for a walk...Fox," as she grabbed the wheel chair from the corner.

Your nap did do you some good, so you made it

over to your chariot with no problem. Scully hurriedly pushed you out the door, not saying a word until you made it to the large indoor solarium. "Mulder, you're having trouble with your eyes, aren't you?" She removed your dark, Buddy Holly style frames with their thick, heavy lenses and stared at you. "My God, they look horrible."

Rubbing your fingers over them only seemed to grind the gritty feeling in deeper. "Yeah, I think I overdid it reading the last couple of days."

"Great," she muttered, her voice shaking. She stood behind you, taking a few deep breaths, as though to steady herself.

"Scully, what's wrong?" you asked, rising from your seat, giving up your cover in order to take her in your arms. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I figured I'd given you enough grief today without telling you I'd fucked up my sight."

She allowed your soft brushing kiss to her cheek and gently touched your lips. Her fingertips trembled as they rested, feather light, against your sensitive skin.

"Scully, what's wrong?" you asked again, your tone a bit more forceful, hastened by frustration and fear.

"Mulder, Elizabeth Anderson could be Sister Teresa's twin," she whispered.

I don't know which one of us was more stunned, you or I. I know the news had you chewing at your bottom lip, so I have to gather you were more that a little upset by this revelation. I, unfortunately, have no mouth to worry, no nails to bite, no nothing.

Not even a nervous tick to fall back on. I just get to suffer in silence. I'm frightened.

Hey, this is my first X-file, remember. It might take me a while to get used to the fact that we're on man-hunt for a 165+ years old, life sucking Vampire Nun. Well, I guess I can't complain about having a boring job any more.


Chapter Fifteen

Entry no: 2001/03/05-06
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

You're sleeping, so I'll try to be as quiet as I can to make this entry. I'm still puzzled as to how Dana thinks her convoluted theory making Elizabeth Anderson the descendent of the nun, Sister Teresa, any more

believable than our postulate that Sister Teresa and Coston's girlfriend are one in the same...

<That's just how she plays it, Miriam.> Fox, you're supposed to be asleep!

<I can't sleep, I've got too much going on in my head...You talk too loud.>

Sorry. Just trying to make a report.

<It's okay, you're not all that's keeping me awake. Scully trying to make this case into something that can be explained

scientifically just might get her killed.> I know. That's my worry too. I'm afraid she's going to underestimate just what we're dealing with. She thinks she's got all the bases covered, having you all on bottled water, nothing that can be tainted. Mulder, poisoning doesn't explain how Sister Teresa's been able to keep Coston alive.

<Scully thinks that Elizabeth Anderson found Sister Teresa's secret formula for staying young and it wasn't faith and devotions. She thinks there's some way...some scientific way that this family has discovered how to chemically harvest something from the body that allows us to fight aging and disease.> Something. Somehow. Fox, that's just as far-fetched as our theory...

<I know Miriam. That's just how Scully deals with these things, the way she fits them into her mind. She's not going to believe in Sister Teresa, the 165 year old vampire nun until she's been slapped in the face with the good Sister's rosary. Hell, even then she'll probably find some way to explain it away.

Scully could walk up and shake hands with E.T. and come away telling me that she'd just met some bald, hydrocephalic dwarf who had a nifty penlight prosthesis for a finger.

That's just the way she is.>

We've sure got our work cut out for us.

<Now you see why I can't sleep?> Well, try. Let me worry about it. Okay? You need your rest.

<Okay.>

...

<Miriam?>

Yeah...

<How am I? Really. Is the cancer all gone?

Will I have to have more chemo? Why am I still so weak? Have you done all you can do?

Am I going to get any better?>

Mulder, I don't see any more cancer, but getting your health back is going to take time. There's only so much I can do. That's what got me so angry at you for pushing to do this, for wanting to go undercover. You have to take care of yourself. You have to help me out here, okay? I know it seems like I'm nagging, but I know what's best for you. Like now, you need your rest.

<Okay, but I am worried about Scully. Miriam, that was part of why I wanted to be here. I just felt that she needed someone to watch her back. Someone who knew what was really going on. Please, help me be able to protect her. Please help me have the strength.> Don't worry, we'll watch out for her.

Together we'll do it. But try to sleep now, okay? Like I said, you have to help me help you.

<Okay.>

...

<Miriam?>

What now, Fox?

<Scully doesn't even really believe in you.> I know. It doesn't bother me. That's how my species has survived all these years. By people not believing in us.

<I figured as much. That's how a lot of the paranormal has survived. But, is there some way that we could prove that you exist? I mean after this case is over. Is there some way that proof that your in side of me be shown. I mean you're making these reports.

What are they, Miriam?>

Yes, your science probably could find the archives, if they knew what they were looking for. See, our records are encoded on your DNA. Each host's history is inscribed and flagged. When a species that is not the same as the host is recognized, the archival volumes open up and the recorded knowledge begins to play, starting with that first report. Your body will be dust, but what I've reported on your life will live forever. I've assured your immortality, Fox.

<Great. I'm not sure some of the things I've done lately should be immortalized, Miriam.> Hey, you gotta take the good with the bad. I think on the whole, you come out a worthy subject Fox Mulder.

<Hey, can I listen to your reports? And what about you, Miriam? Is your kind immortal? Do you live forever?>

Well, with the connection we've had, you might be able to hear what I've encoded.

Remind me to give you my archive number. When we get the time, maybe we'll try and see if you can open the reports.

<Like I said, I'm not sure if I really want to hear everything that I've done these last few months...>

<Miriam?>

Yes, Fox.

<You didn't answer my question. Are you immortal? Will you live forever?> Almost forever. We die when our host's species dies. When there are no more hosts left on this planet, when there are no more lives left to share...we die.

<When you're left all alone?>

Yes, when we're alone, we die. Try to sleep now, Fox.


Entry no: 2001/03/06
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

You're taking a nap right now so I'm going to try to catch up on all that has happened today. I think it was almost dawn when you finally drifted off, so we aren't exactly making any headway on getting you into top form. You were subdued as you picked at your breakfast, and even Scully was beginning to frown. You're still painfully thin, more so than you'll admit. You're not sleeping like you should, and the stress of this assignment is wearing you down.

"Why don't we take a walk?' she finally asked brightly, after watching you transmute your toast into a pile of crumbs. Grabbing your wheelchair, she steered you down the hallway and into a quiet corner of the solarium.

"Okay, give. What's wrong?' The look she gave you was filled with concern.

You looked up, guilt all over your face. "I'm sorry, Scully, for getting you into this. I had some time and...uh..encouragement to think through all the details of this assignment. I'm more of a liability than an asset to you on this one, I'm afraid.' You peered at her, trying desperately to see what her expression might be.

"Mulder, I never consider your presence a liability,' she started but you interrupted.

"Scully, dammit I can't SEE. If that vampire-thing goes for you I doubt I could trust my aim enough to be sure that I hit the wall, much less anything attacking you. At least, Clarissa has enough ability for that."

Scull's lips began to twitch. "Oh, so you admit Clarissa may be good for something.

That's generous. But the fact remains, Mulder, you're the one who looks like a cancer patient; you're our in. Regardless of the method, we both agree that Elizabeth Anderson has been keeping Coston alive. The way he looks this morning, she's going to have do something soon."

I felt your stomach tense, "He's sinking?"

Dana sighed, "Before you woke up they took blood for a T-lymphocyte test. I can only guess that it's fairly low."

"We need to be ready; she'll probably come tonight," you murmured glumly.

" After she kills another child," Scully replied bitterly and on that depressing note, began to wheel you back to the room.

We were surprised to see Assistant Director Skinner, waiting outside in the hallway.

"There you are," he rumbled, moving quickly to greet you. " Coston's doctor is inside. We need to talk."

Once more we ventured back down to the glassed in room to chat.

"What's happened?" Scully asked the moment we stopped.

Skinner eased himself down to the arm of a large recliner and leaned forward to talk in low, conspiratory tones, " The killer struck again last night. They found the bodies of a girl scout troop, seven girls who were staying overnight at their scout leader's house.."

Scully took in a long, shaking breath. " My God, seven?"

"The leader was found wandering in a daze, and when they checked on the little girls, all seven of them were in the house, all dead, all prematurely aged."

"St. Jude medals?" You asked slowly, thinking hard.

"None. The killer just...killed them, then folded their hands over their

chests...What?" Skinner stopped, seeing you slowly nodding.

"Regret. Elizabeth doesn't feel good about killing. When she has the time, she leaves a holy medal on the body, says a prayer. She's probably run out of medals, so she does the best she can to honor the dead."

"Mulder...are you still asking us to believe that a hundred year old nun is doing this?

That she's Michael Coston's girlfriend?"

You sighed and gnawed at your lip, too tired to argue, too worried that even if you did, your wife would still hold on to the doubt that could kill her.

"Agent Scully, I need you to oversee the autopsies. You've mentioned your theories about poisoning, can you proceed along those lines? I'll stay here with Mulder," your supervisor offered.

Scully started to object, but paused, realizing that she did wish to find out whether she could find evidence proving her theories. She could see that you were going to be left in good hands.

The fact you were being left with a babysitter stung your pride and Scully's quick peck to the cheek as she hurried off was not acknowledged.

"How bad is it, sir?" you asked, finally breaking the quiet that had blanketed the air after your wife's hasty departure.

"About as bad as it gets. Seven little girls, ranging from age 8 to age 12 were found lying peacefully in their scout leader's living room. Each one looked as though she were a hundred years old. The leader is distraught. The last memory she has is of making chocolate chip cookies with the girls yesterday."

"Sir, why did you call Scully in today?

Really?" You frustratedly peered through your coke-bottle glasses trying to read Skinner's expression.

Skinner took the chair across from you and let out a breath.

"I've been reading her reports and I know that she doesn't believe your theories about the nature of the killer. That will put her in danger when the killer arrives."

"You believe me?"

Skinner gave a faint chuckle at the incredulous tone of your voice. I told you the man can laugh.

"Is that so strange? I generally do believe you, after some persuasion. I think in this instance that your scenario is the most logical and believe that the case is better served if both agents on duty have a clear understanding of what they're up against."

You nodded slowly. "And since Scully has already been attacked by this creature, it's safer for her if she's miles away when it strikes again."

You two sat for a while in complete agreement, then the A.D. rolled you back to your bed. Coston's doctor had gone and you heard the faint hiss that announced your roommate was now on oxygen. Due to the man's condition you and Skinner conversed in hushed tones and your supervisor left the room to take the call when his cell chirped.

"Where's your shadow?" Coston wheezed, the moment the door shut behind the AD.

I couldn't believe your answer, but it worked. You told the man the truth. It was brilliant.

"The 'Dorian Gray' killer struck again. Seven little girls, a girl scout troop. They needed help with the autopsies," you replied wearily. Your exhaustion wasn't feigned. Your lack of sleep was catching up to you.

"That's right, she's a doctor."

You tensed, realizing that Coston probably knows quite a bit about the agents who had been investigating this case. That isn't comforting news.

"Yeah, she took her leave at the first of this month when we found out...well when the doctors told us that there's no hope. But, they needed her since she's familiar with the case. That's my boss...my ex-boss, I guess I should say. She left him to babysit."

"Seven girls..." Coston murmured.

I felt you shiver, making the connection between his interest in the case and the fact that these children had been killed to feed his needs.

"Yeah, seven little girls..." I think you fought to keep the bitterness from your voice. You were unsuccessful.

It was noon when you fell asleep. I believe knowing that you have Walter Skinner on your side helped you to relax. Maybe, you'll be rested enough because tonight is bound to be when this all ends.


Entry no: Final
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

It's not supposed to end like this. This is not what was supposed to happen.

Elizabeth Anderson only comes at night. No one has seen her visit Coston in two months.

This wasn't supposed to happen...we weren't ready.

I thought Skinner had just stepped outside. I thought he was just in the hall. Mulder woke up at around 2:30. He was still tired, but the nap had done him some good. Skinner took him for a walk to explain the plan. We all expected her to come tonight. She always waits to feed Coston 'til night. Skinner was making sure we would be ready for her. He was setting it all up. This wasn't supposed to happen.

It was shift change. That's what she said.

When they were talking in the bathroom I heard her tell Coston, the shift was changing...

Mulder was dozing when she came in.

"Beth..." Coston was so weak his voice was just a whisper.

I heard her move to the bed. There was the sound humans make when they are going to copulate. They call it foreplay, soul kissing... this time, across this dim hospital-like room, the faint smacking noise is almost akin to a starving man

feasting...it's wet, there are moans, a hunger being sated.

Fox! She's here! Mulder!

<What!?>

He came awake with a start.

"Miriam?"

He spoke out loud and I heard the bodies in the next bed part.

"Hey, you're awake. Fox, you want to meet Beth?" Coston's voice was no longer weak. I'm frightened as I sense her presence. She's not quite human. She's like nothing I've felt before. Not in 3000 years. I shrink inside my host. I try to hide in fear, but I'm not quick enough. She has reached out to touch Fox. Her touch is at first light and gentle, but when it brushes against me, it grows firm. Greedy.

Mulder doesn't know what has hit him. He was still half asleep. I hear him gasp in surprise. She has a heart. I feel it pound with excitement. She allows her hand to linger, and there is a tug...I feel her pulling our life away. She sips our essence with each beat of her heart.

Oh yes, this was indeed Sister Teresa, our vampire. Mulder knew. He was right from the start. And he knew then, as she pulled her hand away, that she had tasted something that made her crave more.

Her touch had been electric. I could feel the Void pulling at me, trying to draw me into itself in the moments she was touching Mulder's skin. She let go and backed away, slightly breathless. Fox had suddenly felt his energy drop, and he lay drained, gasping for air.

Mulder? Can you hear me? You still with us?

<Yeah...man, I feel...wiped.>

Not surprising, considering the hit she just took off us.

<Us? She got...you too?>

Yes. I think I was her target. Mulder, you're in danger. Terrible danger.

<Why me...I'm too old...still sick...> You're carrying me, and I'm tied to you.

Mulder, she sense me and all the years I'm carrying. I'm pretty close to immortal, remember?

<You're the Mother Lode...>

"Hey, Mulder what's wrong?"

Coston is standing beside her. He knows what she's done and isn't happy.

"Beth, can you help me? I need to take a leak." She helped him into the bathroom, closing the door behind them.

<Miriam...we need help. Where's Skinner?> Shhhhh...they're talking, let me

hear...they're talking about you.

They were talking about Mulder all right.

Dinner.

"What the hell do you think you were doing, Liz? They could have caught you! His boss is here. Right outside. They're FBI!"

"There's no danger, the other one is out of the room. And that man, Mulder, he's positively glowing with power. Mike, I could power a city with him. If I had what's inside him, I wouldn't have to take any more of them, of the children."

"It's too open here, you'd get caught."

"Honey, you aren't getting any better. The energy I've been feeding you just isn't enough. I killed 7 kids to give you another day of life. Tomorrow how many will it be?

Ten? I can't do this any more. Let me just take *him* and I'm done. And you're cured."

"Well then, wait until tonight at least."

"No. It's shift change out front. It'll take the nurses a while to figure out what happened. We'll harvest this energy and we can walk out of here together. Nobody believes this is murder anyway, regardless of the way they're investigating it. Nobody can figure out how it happens. They think it's a poison or a disease. Who's going to believe in what I'm really doing, after all?"

"You're sure this'll work? Okay. Then do it fast. Uh-oh, I think that other one is back.

Can you get him?"

"Child's play."

I break my concentration as Skinner enters the room and closes the door. Mulder is too weak to warn him. Elizabeth exits the bathroom and brushes her hand across Skinner's shoulder.

He grabs at her, loses his balance and falls back, his knees collapsing beneath him. As he writhes on the floor, struggling to remain conscious, she advances on Mulder, smiling sadly.

"I'm sorry to have to do this Agent Mulder.

But I promise, you're the last." She's reaching her hand out to you, touching you...

God...she's pulling at you...at me...I can feel the energy draining away...fight her, Fox! Push her away! I need to...hide, hide, hide..she could kill

me...death...darkness...alone...

<I can't think...can't breathe...Miriam?

Where are you?>

Her hands warm on your chest...she's breathing in time to your breaths.

Pulling...tugging...void...void...black...Fight it, Fox! Fight her, she's stealing your life! Damn it...I'm hidden as far in your body as I can and she isn't pulling at me so hard any more. She's going for you, for your energy. I'm hiding too well. I'm a coward.

A nasty, selfish coward.

<Chest...hurts...shooting PAIN!!!!!

Arm...left arm...HURTS...Miriam, make...it...stop...>

Hey! You! Vampira! Hey, I'm over here

-a nice, juicy tutti-frutti ice cream cone for you! Whadda ya want with this dried out Rye Crisp over there? Huh? Come and get me!

That's right, latch right on to me, now let go of him, dammit let him go...

I can see through your half closed eyes, Skinner on the floor crawling toward us. His face is a mask of grim determination as he moves inch by inch and grabs her by the ankle, pulling her off your body.

She staggers back, against the wall, but the bond to us is unbroken. Damn, she's still pulling from us both. I have it to spare but you don't. Mulder? Mulder can you hear me?

<Tell...Scully...>

Stop that! You tell her yourself! Skinner's beating her head against the wall, keeping her from attacking him, but she doesn't let go of us.

I dimly see him cuffing her to the back of a chair, staggering back to us. Mulder?

Mulder? Where are you, Mulder?

Skinner reaches us just as the door opens and Scully rushes in. She takes in the scene at a glance. Skinner has taken a look at your blue, cyanotic lips and is beginning CPR.

And the woman is still still still pulling.

Your energy is a thread, but mine is going strong. Gotta stop that...somehow gotta stop her...can't let you die. I owe you.

"Mulder!" Scully rushes forward and checks your carotid artery, then takes over from Skinner. "Get a crash cart! FAST!"

Skinner's leaving the room and the vampire is sitting in the chair, quietly smiling and still pulling. Okay lady, I owe you one for that. This guy's the first friend I've had in 3000 years. You want power? I'll give you power, bitch.

I'm letting her have it, Mulder. If you ever access this, remember not all aliens are evil colonists. Some of us are just people doing our jobs. Okay? Now, let's see how you like this...bright light...power...focus the power along the channel and PUSH! I'm no 7 year old girl scout, am I lady? Yeah, I can see you starting to sweat...too much power at you? How 'bout I step it up some?

Brighter light, the room is glowing...temperature rising...

The people in the room don't notice, think they're just sweating in a warm room. Scully and Skinner are clustered around you, watching the doctors intently. Hope you make it, friend. I'm gonna give you my best shot.

Okay, the vamp's looking uncomfortable, now to really ruin her day. Step it up again...warmer, glowing power...too much...too much for her. Ha ha ha! She's wilting, shrinking back, can't take this...still I hold on...

ZZZZZPPPPP! What's that? Electric shock? How do you like that Sister...She's screaming, it's killing her Mulder...Mulder, stop doing this, breathe now, okay? They can't reach you, the shock can't reach you through me.

"Did it charge?" Dana is yelling at them. She can't understand why it's not working. I can't let go though. She's still alive. If I let go, if I let the doctors through to you, I let her though and she'll kill you...

If you'd just start breathing

again...ZZZZZP!...damn that hurts...She's screaming, this is killing her...This is killing me.I'm an immortal, almost, but she's really taken it out of me. As I watch, in my mind's eye, her eyes glaze over and her breathing slows then stops. I keep up the stream of power, can't be sure she isn't playing possum. Then I notice her skin aging, drying, wrinkling, shriveling. I am the only one in the room who sees her collapse into a pile of gray dust with white bone fragments. And a handcuff suspended from the chairback.

Gonna take more energy to fix you, Mulder...I owe you...I like you...C'mon, Mulder, don't die on the alien, huh? Now, I can try to help you...I've got a little left in me. Let's get that heart pumping now...

"I'm so very sorry, Mrs. Mulder. Tracy, what time is it?"

"No. NO, he isn't dead. He can't be. Try it again." Tell them Dana, tell them for me!

No...you can't stop now! I'll help...you have to help him...he can't be...

"Mrs. Mulder, he's not coming back. We've tried but he's gone. It's been too long. " "Try it again or I'll do it myself! Dammit Skinner, let go of me! He can't be dead. He can't be..."

Her warm hands clutch at your cold one. So cold...you're fading fast. This isn't good.

Tired...so tired...it isn't working... I'm trying so hard and he isn't responding...she took too much from me, from him...

"Time of death is 3:25 p.m. doctor."


Chapter Sixteen

Entry no: Final Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Miriam

You simply said, "no."

You said no and meant it. Keep meaning it.

Don't stop fighting.

How are you still alive? My guess is the energy that finished off Sister Teresa was finally released. It flowed back though me, since I still held tight my connection to her, and into you. It had dissipated some, but was still enough to damage me, jump start your heart, and almost bring your wife to her knees.

The crowd of medical personnel all froze when the unmistakable spasm of current brought you up from the table. Skinner caught Dana as she toppled back. That she started probably saved her life. Her heart could have been stopped by the jolt.

And then you uttered "no". You'd been through too much to give up now.

You're in CCU right now. They've got something stuck in every orifice and have you wired for sound. They're telling Dana now, that it took too long. That even though the heart they said was stilled is now beating on its own, you won't make it back. Ever.

And that, if Fate is kind, you'll die quietly soon without ever regaining consciousness.

Tell them no, Fox.

Say, "NO!" Don't let them write you off.

"The idea is to die young as late as possible." Words to live by Mulder. "Love makes us poets and the approach of death should make us philosophers." I'm dying, so listen to me. Not them. I promised you you'd have your life back. I didn't lie. It's there. If you want it. If you go after it.

Don't give up. Don't let them tell you you can't have it.

"Mulder, it's me. I'm here. I'm waiting.

Stay. Don't leave me. Don't leave me alone."

Listen to her. She needs you. Mulder, Mulder I've spent my life alone, but you haven't.

Go back to her! Fight for her!

I'm tired. Hey, 3000 years was a good run.

"The dead have nothing except the memory they've left." You've got promises to keep, Fox, and miles to go...

#818081957/Fox

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Dana Scully-Mulder

March 13, 2001

Michael Coston died at 6:30 this morning. I can't help but wince at the painful irony that his life was extended 1 day for each child that was killed on his behalf. I met with the man on the 10th, the afternoon before he lapsed into the coma that lasted until his death. I'd meant to return to interview him for the files. I, of course, never got the chance. Our talk lasted less than twenty minutes. His failing health was not a factor in the brevity of our conversation. I just didn't need any longer than that. I had only one question that I wished answered and when I discovered he didn't have that knowledge, I found that I really had nothing else to say to the man.

"So, you want to hear my story?" His voice was a harsh rasp, but his eyes gleamed with excitement. I could tell he reveled in the attention and notoriety his involvement with Elizabeth Anderson had brought him.

I shook my head, unable to keep my eyes off the lesion that stood out in such stark relief on the right side of his nose. Since I'd seen him last, a scant 4 days before, his illness seemed to be consuming him, whittling away his flesh, both inside and out.

"Then why the fuck are you here?" His tone was lost somewhere between the petulant whine of a child, being denied a chance to take his turn in the limelight and the crotchety bitterness of the very old, angered at being asked to squander a few precious ticks of the clock.

"I have to know the truth, I murmured, catching his eye, holding it to assure myself of the honesty of his answer. "What was she?"

"I thought you knew." His cackle was sharply brittle, cutting me deeply. "Aren't you the expert they all quoted in the papers? You're the one who came up with the theory that they'll use to hang Beth with...if they catch her."

"I want the truth. I need the truth. Don't lie to me. You know she's dead." Try as I might to keep my voice at persuasive level, I knew my words came out as a tearful plea.

"She's dead," he softly admitted. "I watched her die. You were all watching your husband, but I saw her. I don't know what killed her, but I watched her die."

"What was she?" I repeated. Once more my voice betrayed me. He knew what had happened.

He knew why I needed to know the nature of the thief. He knew what had been stolen.

"I DON'T KNOW! I don't know what she was. I don't think she even knew." That a voice that loud and that strong came out of this wizened shell surprised me, and I flinched away from him. "We'll never knew HOW she did what she did. We only knew WHAT she was able to do. You already know what she could do.

You saw what she did to your husband. And you know it was HER. You know there wasn't any poison. It was power. She had the power to harvest life, and she fed me. She kept me alive."

"She stole life, and you accepted what she stole."

"She killed because she loved me," his voice was now a weak shadow. "We loved each other."

"If you loved her, you wouldn't have let her do it."

"You're telling me you wouldn't have moved heaven and earth to save your husband that day?" His face turned ashen as he argued.

"You wouldn't have done whatever it took to keep him alive?"

"No," I choked, making it to my feet, needing to leave before the tears came. "I'm telling you he would have died before he'd let me."

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF DANA SCULLY-MULDER

March 11, 2001

Later

I am sitting at my desk in this all too empty apartment. The place is neat without Mulder's clutter. Silent without his noise.

I miss the constant blare of the television set, although it used to drive me crazy.

I miss him. I miss his presence, somewhere behind my right elbow. I missed waking up next to him this morning, missed his biting commentary on the headlines in the morning paper, miss watching him eat two bowls of Captain Crunch cereal and claim glibly that it's health food because it's fortified.

Mulder...come back. Please.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

JOURNAL OF DANA SCULLY-MULDER

April 11, 2001

He's coming home to me today.

He's not the Mulder I married. This is not even the man who I brought home in February.

I'd noticed differences then too. A person doesn't go through what he'd endured and not be affected by it.

But this time he has been reborn. Wanting to believe is no longer what drives him.

"Scully, remember telling me that you learned, when you were sick, what was important?"

I nodded, blushing a bit. My list of family, work and faith seems so cliché now.

"I've learned that wants are not important.

Wants aren't what keep us alive. They're fine of course. In their place. They're what keeps moving, they keep us motivated. But what it all comes down to is finding out what you need. Scully, I ask myself, do I really need this? I mean, I'm working hard to get back to work. I do want my health back. I really want for my sight to level out. But those things aren't what's important. Scully I've lived through losing my health, my sight, my job...shit, even my manhood so to speak, and even though I really wanted those things back, I found out I didn't NEED them to go on. It's what we NEED that's important."

"Well, what all did you find out you need?"

I asked expectantly. Hell, I wanted to hear how high I rated on his list. I'd hoped it was going to be a little ego boost.

"Just you." There was no blushing. No shy coyness that hinted at snowing the wife. I saw only sincerity in those wide greenish gray eyes.

He takes my breath away. I need him.


Entry no: 2000/06/13
Report of:#818081957/Fox

Local Name: Mulder

Scully says it was typical. She tells me that the doctor pronounced me dead and I argued with him. I tend to do that with people who are blinded by science. But so does she. They told her that I was dead too long. They said she should let me go. Again, she just said "No." And who said we have nothing in common? We're perfect for each other.

A week to the day after I died, I spoke again. I woke up, saw the blur that was my wife's lovely face and softly told her, "#818081957/Fox". Not exactly what she was expecting, but it made her happy. She claims it was proof that my beautiful mind was still there. Right.

I don't know if I'll make it back to work by the end of the summer like I planned. We've postponed the wedding 'til our first anniversary. For someone who is supposed to have a photographic memory, I've always been lousy with dates. It'll make it easier to remember just the one day. And the plan is a month long honeymoon in the Bahamas. My old bones will love missing those dreary post Halloween days in DC. Still, if there's one thing this past year has taught me, it's that growing old isn't too bad. Not when I've got Scully with me. And not if I consider the alternative.

Coston died the day I left the CCU, two days after Scully interviewed him. The papers claim his girlfriend, 'Doreen Gray', as they so cleverly dubbed her, is still at large.

Scully's theory of a century old poison that attacks the immune system, triggering premature aging is what has been accepted as the method by which Elizabeth Anderson killed her victims. The murders have stopped.

A month ago, after months of trying with no success, I opened Miriam's Archives. My days have been spent, transcribing the entries that have played in my head. My wife spends her evenings, after a hard day at work, proof reading the imaginative tale her dearly beloved has spun. She thinks it's wonderful that I have so cleverly laced the true life story of my battle with cancer with a science fiction yarn about an alien taking over the body of an FBI agent. She claims it would make a great movie or maybe a mini series.

She wants me to try to send it off. In her opinion, you just never know; it might be the birth of a new career.

Personally, since I just have been pronounced in remission and my vision, (with corrective lenses only slightly stronger than last year's prescription) is almost back to normal. (Except when I'm tired, or overdo it.) I plan on sticking with my same old boring job. I put this story down on paper to be the first volume of the Fox Mulder Archive. It's just one chapter of many that lie scattered across this planet, all which document the history of the Symbiote 818081957, also known as Miriam.

"We're just people from another place. We argue and ponder the same questions your people do. I like to think that death isn't an ending, but the beginning of something new. And, somehow...I think you humans never are alone, even when you die. You've always got someone, waiting for you, watching, remembering..."

You're not alone, Miriam.

And I'll remember.

The End

Return to Bump In The Night