Title: Mulder's Creek: 13. The Road Not Taken
Author: Neoxphile
Author Email: neoxphile@aol.com
Rated: PG
Category: C
Keywords: XF/Dawson's Creek crossover. Alternate universe.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership to the characters, except those I've created, as they belong to Chris Carter and Kevin Williamson

Summary: A stranger offers Mulder a glimpse of a life in which Sam was never kidnapped. But is it any better?

Opening scene-

Mulder and Scully are playing battleship at his desk, when Mulder closes his board for a moment.

"Hey, what gives?" Scully asks frowning.

"I've been thinking about something," he tells her.

"Me?" she asks coyly.

"Far too often," he tells her. "But I was thinking about something else this time. That reporter wrote back to me."

"What did he say?" Scully asks curiously.

"He's totally paranoid, but he said that Sam wasn't the only one kidnapped. Five kids were taken, and all of them but Sam and one other kid were found within three years of their disappearance. He said he'd give me more details if I meet him at the museum of Science this weekend, but not otherwise, because he's afraid his mail is being tampered with," Mulder says sighing.

"He sounds nuts. Are you really going to go into Boston to meet him?"

"I don't know. Yeah, he sounds like he's a few French fries short of an extra value meal, but there are a lot of people around at the museum so even if he is, nothing too dangerous could come of it."

"I don't know Mulder..."

"Scully, I need to know the truth, and he might be the only one to lead me to it."

Scully doesn't reply, but casts him a worried look.

Theme song -"Stranded" by Plumb

Tuesday morning, Capeside High-

Mulder sits in his English class waiting for his teacher to finish reading the piece of paper a messenger has just brought him. The man looks irked when he rejoins the class.

"This little memo," he says, giving it a shake, "is to inform us that there is a slight change of plans. The head of the English department has decided to spring a grade-wide assignment on us...without telling the rest of the faculty in advance. Everyone is supposed to memorize a 'poem that is meaningful to him or her' and recite it in class next Monday. Sorry I couldn't give folks a heads up on this."

Mulder hears the man mumble to himself about wishing he'd gotten a heads up too. Then the teacher goes to his bookcase and starts yanking out books. He piles them neatly on a table before continuing to speak to the class. "I've got several volumes of poetry right here in the classroom, and anyone who'd like to get a pass to the library can. I forgot to mention earlier that the memo said that anyone who'd like to can write their own poem, too."

Mulder thinks about attempting to write his own poem, then discards the idea. Even if he could write something decent, he wouldn't want to share it with the whole class. Mulder decides to look through one of the collections of poetry on his teacher's desk instead.

That night, Leary home-

Mulder is helping Mr. Leary put the baby furniture together. Mulder tries to pay attention, but he finds himself admiring the paint job they'd done on the walls. Now that a couple of weeks has past, the room doesn't smell of paint at all, and the walls look perfect, because nothing has been nailed to them yet. Eventually his father gets annoyed and tells him to pay attention. Mulder grins at him.

"Not too long now, huh Dad?"

"Nope, just a couple of months. It makes me glad to get this all done now, though, since babies don't always wait to come when they're supposed to."

"Was I early?" Mulder asks.

"A couple of weeks. Not so early as to cause much concern, but early enough that I spent the night before you came home putting together your crib." Mr. Leary says ruefully.

"And they say you can't teach an old dog new tricks."

"Who you calling old, Boy?"

"No one, no one," Mulder says quickly.

They're just finishing up when the phone rings. Mulder hears the phone ring, then his mother calls to him that it's for him.

Mulder picks up the extension in his room. "Hello?" he asks cheerfully, expecting it to be Scully or Doggett.

A deep male voice says, "Near the giant grasshopper." Then the line goes dead. Mulder hangs the phone up gently, and tells himself that he's just gotten his secret instructions.

Thursday afternoon-

Reyes is walking home from mentoring at the elementary school when she notices Spender walking down the street towards the library. She only hesitates a moment before deciding that she needs to talk to him. "Spender!" she cries, and runs towards him. She can't tell if he's ignoring her, or just didn't hear her, because he doesn't turn towards her until she's almost upon him.

"Oh hi," he says vaguely.

"Spender, we need to talk," Reyes tells him.

"What about?"

"Fowley. Have you heard from her too? I'm worried about her."

"Yeah, I got a postcard or two. What's to worry about though?" he asks.

Reyes can't believe how unconcerned he sounds. "Well, her situation, of course. It's starting to sound rather dire."

"She's having a great time with her parents in Europe. You know that." Spender says, sounding annoyed.


"I think we should be happy for her. She'll tell us all about the trip this summer. Look, I've got to go," Spender says walking away while Reyes stares after him.

Reyes can't figure out what just happened, but Spender's attitude really worries her. There's something about that boy that isn't right, she thinks.

Friday night, Fanny's Fabric Festival-

Scully rolls her eyes and gives up trying to keep up with Mulder's erratic dashing up and down isles. Why do I ever go shopping with him? Scully asks herself as he stops for a moment to look at yet another thing with alien motifs.

"I think I like this one," he tells her excitedly.

"You've said that six time in a row already."

"This time I mean it, though."

"Could you really, truly have made a decision? Actually made up your mind on what you want so we can get out of here some time tonight?"

"Geez, sarcastic much?" Mulder complains. "Yes, I've really, truly come to a decision on what quilt I want to make."

"Want me to make," Scully corrects him.

"Ok, whatever," Mulder says, handing over the quilt squares for her inspection. "See, if you look at this illustration here, it shows how the quilt is supposed to look when it's done."

Scully looks at it and nods in approval. Sweet infantile looking aliens hover in a spaceship on a background of stars. "That's pretty cute, Mulder."

"It's exactly what I had in mind," Mulder tells her.

"Speaking of your mind...have you decided if you're going to Boston tomorrow or not?" Scully asks.

Mulder takes one look at her alarmed face and wishes that he could give her an answer that would put an end to her worries. But he can't. "I'm sorry, Scully...I'm going." Scully doesn't answer him, but instead looks away. "I know you think me going is a dumb idea," he continues. "but I don't really have a choice. If I don't hear him out, I might lose Sam. I...I need to know what happened to my sister."

"I know, Mulder," Scully says sighing. "Promise me you'll be careful."

"I will. You know I will." When she doesn't say anything else, Mulder takes her hand and leads her towards the cash registers.

2:55pm, Boston Museum of Science-

Mulder feels guilty about lying to his parents- he told them that his trip was worth extra credit for his science class, and a classmate was going with him- but he chalks it up to another sin committed in the commission of trying to locate his sister. One more lie isn't going to make much of a difference, if his parents ever find out. Fresh indignation about their lack of concern about his sister kicks in, and he exonerates himself of that guilt. He lets his sense of purpose propel him towards his meeting with the strange Thaddeus Quinn.

So here he is after a solo bus trip. He's standing in the foyer of the museum, wondering if it's too soon to go down stairs to where the giant grasshopper is. The grasshopper is a fixture of the museum, and it's been there since long before Mulder was born. Most of the exhibits have changed through the years, but it has always remained on the bottom floor. Of monster proportions, Mulder can't fathom why anyone would have thought that creating a 25-foot long, very detailed, grasshopper was a good idea. As he thinks about it, he admits to himself that his stream of thought is an avoidance tactic, something to keep himself from thinking about what happens if the man isn't there.

As he walks down the musical staircase he sees a nervous looking man pacing by the grasshopper. Butterflies fill Mulder's stomach as he walks towards the man. The man stops his pacing and looks up at Mulder. "Mr. Leary, I presume."

Mulder doesn't like the look in the man's blue eyes, it's as if the man is trying very hard to control a wildness that's lurking just beneath the surface. " Yes," Mulder says, deciding that he has no choice but trust the man.

The man speaks low, his eyes flickering paranoidly towards all passersby. " I know you want to know what it would be like if things were different. So I'm going to show you."

"What?" Mulder asks, looking confused.

"If they hadn't taken your sister, I mean. I'm going to show you, right now."

Mulder is about to ask him what on earth he's talking about, because he suddenly feels like the psychiatrist in 12 Monkeys, but the man reaches out towards him. Mulder flinches backwards, but the man is undeterred. There's an electric-like shock when the man's hand comes in contact with his arm, then everything shimmers.

Mulder is no longer standing in the middle of the museum, and Thad isn't touching him any longer. In fact, the man is no longer there. At first Mulder feels slightly disoriented, because he feels like he's in an impossibly familiar place. Shaking the cobwebs from his head he accepts the fact that as improbable as it is, he's at home. Not his home in his time, he immediately surmises, because it's been years since the toys that strewn the room have been out on display. He catches movement in the dark room out of the corner of his eye, and looks just in time to see a small figure slipping out of the room. Mulder follows.

When he does, Mulder finds himself standing beside his four-year-old self, who is dressed in a light blue blanket sleeper, as they watch his parents from the stairs. Little Mulder doesn't notice him, and when Mulder reaches out and touches the child and gets no reaction whatsoever, he decides that the boy doesn't know he's there at all. However, something makes him want to stay on the stairs to spy on his parents, just in case his theory isn't as sound as he thinks. He's shocked at how young Mitch and Gale look as they sit on a couch he only vaguely remembers, but he reminds himself that they're almost thirteen years younger than they are now. The only thing that is unchanged is his mother's swelled waistline, and it strikes him odd to know that here she's carrying Sam, not the brother or sister he's never met. Gradually he's able to focus on his parent's conversation.

"Mitch, whoever told you that must be insane," Gale says, sounding upset.

"I wish they were, but I've been watching the news and one child has disappeared already. Someone out there is serious. Seriously disturbed to boot, but serious about this none the less."

"What are we going to do?" she asks him, wringing her hands.

"Well, we can't do what they ask, and if we don't, who knows what might happen to Mulder or this baby? The way I look at it, there's only one thing that we can do. I'm going to have to quit my job."

"But Mitch, this project is your life's work," Gale protests weakly.

"I know. I'll find something else, though, because my kids mean more to me than any job."

"All they're asking is that couples have another baby after vitamin treatments, could it really be something bad? "

"I think it could be. The fact that these treatments are supposed to start before the child's conception, which makes it too late for this baby, make me think that they're doing something much more sinister than infusing the babies with vitamins. I mean, think about it, if it truly was just vitamins, wouldn't they be able to do FDA trials, instead of black-mailing people into it by kidnapping their kids until they comply? No, I'm going to thank the person who warned me, and get out now. If I'm not an employee they won't have any power over me."

It comes as a bit of a shock to Mulder, but he finds that he can pretty much tell what the little boy is thinking. He supposes it's not too odd, since the boy is him, so there's a connection there. Young Mulder doesn't seem to understand what they're talking about and heads back to bed. Mulder wants to stay to see if they say more, but he's compelled by some force to follow his younger self. He tries to sort out the conversation he's just overheard, but it overwhelms him.

There's a brief distortion and Mulder finds himself looking at himself again. This time he's a little older, and his face has lost some of it's baby chubbiness. This Mulder is clumsily wrapping a baby toy, a set of stacking cups in various sizes. He finally untangles the scotch tape from his fingers, adequately covers the present, scoops it under his arm and runs downstairs. Mulder follows the boy slowly, having no memory that corresponds to the event to prepare him for what he'll see.

A baby with dark hair and hazel eyes sits in a high chair, stuffing Cheerios into her open ,mouth. The little boy puts the present on the table and makes a beeline towards the baby. He kisses her on the top of her head and says in a piping voice," Hi Sam! It's your birthday, and I got you something really neat, I think you'll like it." The baby looks up at him with an adoring gaze, her small hands reaching for him.

Mrs. Leary looks over at them and smiles. "Mulder, do you think you could be my special guest greeter while I finish the cake?"

"Sure mom." The boy says, still playing with the baby.

"Remember, Mulder, that I invited a little girl who is going to be in your kindergarten class this fall, so be nice to her."

"I remember, Mom," he says, going towards the door when it rings. Though it takes a lot of will power not to abandon his post when Doggett shows up, he continues to answer the door as politely as he mother could wish. Eventually he opens the door and is surprised that the people standing on the steps are strangers. A woman who the boy instantly labels as pretty is standing on the steps with a small girl. The boy decides that this must be his future classmate, though she's much littler than the girls in his and Doggett's preschool class. He likes the way that her hair is long and red like the woman's, and decides to talk to the girl after greeting her mother. "How old are you?" he demands of her as soon as she's in the living room.

"Five." The girl says, revealing two missing front teeth.

"Me too." The boy tells her. "And him, too," he adds, pointing at Doggett who is now playing with Sam out of boredom.

"And the baby is your sister." The girl guesses. He nods. "I have a sister too, but she's big. Thirteen."

The boy think about the number for a second, counting up to it in his head, before saying," That's old!" Before the girl can reply, Doggett comes over and demands that the other boy join him now that the guests are already there. The girl looks after them wistfully, but sticks near her mother.

Mulder almost tries to tell the girl that it's not how they meet at all, that they won't really meet until the first day of school, but then he remembers that no one can hear him.

There was another moment of distortion, and when it passes Mulder decides that his alter ego must be about seven years old now. Mulder is worried because the boy looks very upset, though he's valiantly playing cars in the corner of the living room with Sam. Sam behaves like a typical three-year-old, and often forgets to use what a schoolteacher might refer to as "an indoor voice." Young Mulder tells her sharply to keep her voice down each time, and casts worried looks towards the stairs. Sam takes it in stride, and doesn't get the least bit upset by the frequent reminders.

All this makes Mulder worry seriously about what is going on. He finally concludes that they're being watched by a cranky babysitter when the doorbell rings. Mulder watches as the boy opens the door cautiously. Scully stands on the steps smiling, and Mulder notices that she now has her front teeth again. The boy gives her a mournful look and tells her that he can't come out to play. Scully nods resignedly, and nods without comment, save only a "see you at school tomorrow."

The boy sighs and shuts the door. He cringes when his fear comes true: a voice bellows from another room to keep it down.

Mulder feels a stab of fear when he hears the boy call "Yes, Daddy." Until this second he was trying to convince himself that the voice was just similar to his father's. Mulder sinks into a chair, forgetting to be surprised that the furniture supports him. Why would his father be home in the middle of the afternoon, sounding perhaps like he's hung-over? Dad doesn't drink, or at least my version of him doesn't, Mulder corrects himself. For the first time since this weird journey has begun, Mulder wonders why Thaddeus Quinn was so eager to show him how things might have been different. Mulder lets his head sink into his hands as he becomes overwhelmed with despair. Just what is different in this reality?

Mulder hears the door open, and sees his mother walk into the house. Mrs. Leary looks flustered, and looks weary as the children clamor for her attention. Mulder notices that her bag has the same station logo on it that he's associated with her most of his life, so the consistency is comforting. "Mulder, where's your Dad?" she asks the boy, who points towards the master bedroom. She looks irritated and stalks out of the room.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Leary walks back into the living room and gives Mulder and Sam a half-hearted smile. "I just talked to Grandma, you're going to spend the night there. Won't that be fun?" Sam makes a joyful sound and jumps up and down.

The boy smiles, but it fades. "How am I going to get to school?"

"I'll pick you up before I go in to work tomorrow. Why don't you and Sam go upstairs and play in her room before dinner?" The boy nods and leads Sam out of the room.

Mulder digs his heels into the carpet, determined not to leave the room with his younger self. To his surprise, this strategy works, and he's not compelled to leave this time. Instead he follows his mother to his parents' bedroom.

Mr. Leary looks like he hasn't shaved in days, and perhaps hasn't showered in as many. Dressed only in a pair of blue and white stripped cotton boxers, and a dingy wife beater, he lays on the bed looking at the ceiling. He looks pathetic, but the look Mrs. Leary gives him is anything but sympathetic. "Why am I not surprised to find you like this, again?" she asks him.

"I don't feel well." Mr. Leary whines.

"You probably feel like you didn't take your antidepressants for about a week is more like it. You told me that you could be trusted to take them, but I think this proves I should go back to counting them," she says bitterly.

"Oh, you don't know what it's like. You've got your fancy job at the news station, and I'm here, unable to find a decent job. I thought when I left Candling I thought that I'd be able to get a good job in a second with my background in genetics. But no. Three years of nothing but temp work breaks a man's spirit." Mr. Leary moans.

"Well you better get yourself together, Mitch," Mrs. Leary says evenly. "Or I'll consider my mother's offer to take the kids to her for a break until you do."

Mr. Leary doesn't reply, but get out of bed, paws at the cluttered nightstand until he comes up with a bottle of pills and stalks into the bathroom.

When that now-familiar moment of distortion comes, Mulder presses his eyes tightly together, not wanting to look. After a moment of self pep talk, he opens his eyes a slit, just enough to see that he's facing the front windows. Fine, I'll look out the windows instead of at the boy, he tells himself, because it will hurt less. It only takes a moment before he realizes his folly, the mere sight of the ice encased yew bushes near the front door is enough to tell him when he is this time. Mulder clearly remembers fixating on the wonder of the perfect berries covered in ice, so it's to no surprise that when he turns towards his other self the boy is twelve years old. Though the child is dressed up and waiting for a funeral as well, the boy is not trying to distract himself by thinking about something as lovely as the berries. Instead he's looking at the clock and willing his father to get home on time.

Mulder senses the boy's grief clearly, because it's part of his own life. Scully's mother had been a very important force in her life, so in his too by extension. It had all happened very rapidly, the news that she was sick came after their summer trip, and she lost ground so quickly. By January she was gone. The worst part, Mulder thought both then and now, was that you couldn't bury people in January, not with the ground frozen solid, so they'd had to cremate Mrs. Potter, and the woman had always been wary of fire. The only other option for winter deaths was to freeze the deceased and delay the funeral, but that was more than Scully's family could bear the thought of.

Mulder lifts himself out of his thoughts when Sam comes into the room. She's just how he'd picture her looking at age eight, her long dark hair done in braids, and her eyes huge. Sam puts a comforting arm around her brother. "I don't think Dad is going to be home in time," she tells him.

The boy shakes his head stubbornly. "Dad knows I need to be there for Scully. He won't let me down," he insists.

As the afternoon wears on the boy feels defeated. He hopes that Scully will understand that he had no choice but to believe that his father would bring him to the funeral, and it's not as though he wanted to miss it. The boy can't believe that his father could forget something so important.

Mr. Leary comes home from work at his usual time and gives the boy an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, Son. They wouldn't let me leave early, and I couldn't risk getting fired..."

Mulder watches as intently the boy doesn't say anything. He knows that his father has at last found a job that suits him, but he guesses that the man is too new there to expect any favors. The boy tries to muster up the will to tell him that it's ok, but something makes it so hard.

Another lurch, and Mulder is at the high school. His other self is sitting at a lunch table next to Fowley, with Doggett and Scully across from him. He looks carefully at their faces, and guesses that this must be some time last year. Fowley looks somewhat out of place, and not really secure, so he surmises that it must be towards the beginning of the year when she was new to Capeside; which would also explain why Reyes and Skinner aren't there since they transferred mid-year.

While it should gladden Mulder's heart that Fowley seems as if she's much more interested in this Mulder than she ever was in his own reality, it doesn't. The boy is thinking mournfully that he and Scully have drifted so much since that ill-fated funeral, and how it makes him jealous that Doggett is the one whose every word she has been hanging on for the past three years.

Mulder is suddenly filled with indignation. Why is Thaddeus letting him see this? It's all so futile, that he's still not entirely happy even with his sister in this life. It strikes Mulder that Thadd is almost trying to make Mulder think he'd be better off without his sister, but he refuses to believe it. He has no guarantee that this is even what would have really happened if his sister had never been taken. As soon as he sees Thadd again, Mulder decides he's going to give the man a piece of his mind, and maybe a punch in the nose. He's so angry that he doesn't realize at first that everything is starting to shift again.

This time Mulder decides that he must be in the real present or thereabouts, because looking at the other Mulder is like looking in a mirror. Except that the other boy has a cast on one arm, and a cut above his eye. He's alone, sitting on a bench in the hallway of an uninviting looking building that Mulder has never seen before in his life. The boy has his good hand over his face, and Mulder tries to block out the boy's thoughts but can't.

The boy's thoughts are a bit jumbled, but Mulder senses that he's replaying the events of a few days before. Other Mulder pictures himself and his family in a car. Sam and his father are arguing about something stupid, whether or not twelve is too young to get pieced ears. They argue loudly, and the boy wishes they'd give it a rest; Mr. Leary and Sam clashed a lot lately. Mrs. Leary starts to try to calm them both down, but her voice rises to a scream as she becomes aware of the oncoming truck...

The nearest door opens, and the boy is invited inside. He takes a seat wordlessly, and looks up at the middle-aged man behind the desk. The man is wearing a suit, so Mulder decides that he must be a lawyer. He finds that he's not too far off the mark when the man addresses the other boy.

"I'm sorry to have to meet you in a circumstance like this. As you probably know, I'm in charge of handling your parents' final wishes." Mulder gasps, but the boy just nods. "Your parents have placed yours, and Samantha's, guardianship in your Aunt Gwen's care. I haven't had much time to talk to her yet, but she seems like a lovely young woman. While it is a forgone conclusion that she will care for your sister, you do, as you surely know, have the option for petitioning the courts for emancipated minor status, since you are almost seventeen years old. I must caution you, though, before you get your hopes up, that while you would legally be an adult, the courts probably wouldn't grant you custody of your sister before your eighteenth birthday. You aunt is amicable to considering a change of guardianship at that time, though."

The boy nods wearily, and the Lawyer shuffles some papers. "As a friend of the family, I feel that it's my duty to suggest that you allow your aunt to be your guardian until you're eighteen. You've been through a lot in the past few days, and life is going to be turned upside down from now on. There's no sense of adding an unneeded burden of additional responsibility on yourself when you don't have to. It's ok to keep being a kid for another year or so, just like your friends. Your aunt wants to take care of you, and it'd be better for you if you'd let her."

The boy thinks of all his reasonable arguments towards favoring becoming an emancipated minor and sighs. None of them seem that strong, suddenly. "Can we keep our house?" is all he asks.

"Of course. Your aunt wants to keep as much continuity in your lives as possible, so she's going to move into your house, and rent out her own until you kids are grown. She really wants what's best for you both."


"Good, good. Your parents wisely chose to take out sizable life insurance policies on themselves, so you and your sister should want for nothing. Except for custodial expenses, your inheritance will be in trust until you turn eighteen, at which time you'll gain access to half of their leavings. Sam's half will also remain in trust until her eighteenth birthday as well. You'll be very comfortable." The lawyers says smiling.

The boy can't believe that the man could think that he could find solace in money. Both of his parents are gone forever, and the man is babbling about how "comfortable" they'll be?

Mulder tries to tell the boy that this isn't how life really is, but the boy doesn't hear. His failure to reach the other boy makes Mulder cry in despair...

Mulder realizes his butt feels cold and opens his eyes. He's sitting on a titled floor, slumped up against something, and there's someone standing over him. The person, a woman, gives him an encouraging look.

"Well now, it looks like you'll be ok now after all," she tells him, and he has no idea what she's talking about. Then he realizes that the thing he's slumped up against is the base to the grasshopper's display. He flicks his eyes back and forth and surmises that he must be back in his own reality because there is no Mulder there but him.

"I, um.." be begins, but trails off when it becomes obvious that he can't explain what happened.

The woman notes the fear and confusion on his face and pats his arm. "It's ok sweetie, they caught the man who did it. Good thing there were people who saw the whole thing."

"Did what?" Mulder asks, wondering what people saw.

"I guess you don't remember," she says sympathetically. "Some guy was talking to you when he pulled out a hypodermic needle and plunged it into your arm. Guess it was something that knocked you out, but not too long, since that only was five minutes or so ago. Like I said though, they caught him and arrested him right away."

"Thaddeus Quinn, that's what he said his name was," Mulder mumbles.

"Oh no, Thaddeus is upstairs giving a lecture. This guy was Stan something."

"I was supposed to meet Thaddeus..."

"Were you? I think he'll be through in a minute or two. You know, he used to be a journalist, but he's made a big name for himself writing books about endangered species since then. He's not a bad writer, but a bit fanatical if you know what I mean. He's right upstairs in the natural science wing."

"Thanks," Mulder tells her, getting to his feet. He shakes off her well-meaning advice to wait for the paramedics to look him over and disappears upstairs before anyone can track him down to take his statement.

There are a lot of chairs set up in the room that contains exhibits of taxidermy behind glass, which should be morbid but somehow aren't. A man in his forties, with blond hair and brown eyes, speaks emphatically to his audience. A huge sign on an easel bears the man's photograph and an invitation to hear his lecture on his newest book " Fading Fast." Mulder looks at the sign, looks at the man, then leaves, exiting the museum and not looking back until he's boarded his bus for the trip home.

Monday morning, Capeside high school-

Scully is nervous as she waits for her turn to recite her poem. Her poem. She still can't believe that she's taking the plunge and reading an original poem. She wrote the poem the last day she was in the hospital, and to her, it seems to sum up how she feels about the many bad dreams she had before she got better.

Eventually it's her turn, so she recites in a calm clear voice,

Just Another Nightmare

I dream
Of storms and lakes
That I must inexplicably swim in,
Only to spring from the water
Out into a misty forest.

Running on bare feet
I fear the cries of
Repulsive black shadows
That want to lick my skin raw,
Leaving live nerves exposed to their tortures.

I crush the knife-like urge to scream
Though I only have weak moonlight
To drive them back.

Later, as the rain rusts my hair,
I trudge back, aching,
To the bed I left in sleep.

Her classmates and teacher are impressed, and they embarrass her by heaping praise upon her.

Mulder spent the entire weekend thinking about why he decided to leave the museum without speaking to the real Thaddeus Quinn. At first, on the bus, he'd chalked it up to having been so overwrought about what had happened, or might have happened, that he'd been unable to think clearly. Later he admitted to himself that he'd known exactly what he was doing, and he just didn't want to hear what the man had to say.

As for what happened...He still wasn't sure. Perhaps he'd been injected with a powerful hallucinogen, which is what he knew Scully would tell him if he ever revealed it to her, and he only saw what his mind wanted to. Or maybe he'd met a Clarence-like angel with a cruel streak who really did enable him to see how things might have been different- and no better.

While the mystery was somewhat disarming, Mulder didn't think it really mattered either way. Now and forever he would be cured of his tendency to obsess on what might have been. The important thing, he thinks, is what happens now, and what is going to happen. Mulder hopes that his failure to show up didn't upset Thaddeus too much, because maybe some day he'll be ready to hear what the man says, as long as the information is used as a clue to further future research instead of fuel for wishful thinking.

At least, Mulder thinks as he stands up before the class, this weekend helped me decide on my poem. "I thought long and hard about finding a poem that means something to me. Finally I found one that's perfect, because I've often found myself wishing things were different, and I'm trying hard to leave that habit behind me. I'm going to recite The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost..." he begins.


Produced by CC, KW and Neoxphile

< Voice Over>

This episode of Mulder's Creek featured music from:

One Side Zero ("New World Order")

Lifehouse ("Sick Cycle Carousel")


Pete Yorn ("For Nancy")

Stay tuned for scenes from the next Mulder's Creek

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