Title: Cherokee
Author: Rachel Wilder
Written: August 2000
Spoilers: Requiem
Keywords: Mulder/Scully romance. Post-episode.

Summary: When Scully finds Mulder she's not sure what their future holds.

Author's notes: I know there are a lot of these post-eps out there, but this looks at the bleaker side of discovery. As always, many thanks to my fantastic betas, Gerry Hill, Beth and Mystphile. This story would not have worked without you.

For what it's worth, this story is set in and around the "real" Lake Okoboji. (Note correct spelling...)


The young girl tried to keep up with the long strides of her grandfather. Many times he had brought her to the state park and always they walked out to the point. Usually it was summer time and she wore her swimsuit, but this time her parents had come to visit in the fall. It wasn't really cold, but not warm enough to swim in the big lake. Okoboji. She had always wondered how the Indians had decided to name it that. She thought it meant blue water. Her Grandpa John had told her many times that it was one of the bluest lakes in the world.

She picked up a rock and tried to skip it, but it just plunked into the water. Her brothers could skip rocks, but she seemed incapable. Up ahead her grandfather stopped. He held his hand back at her, silently halting her as well. She wondered what he had found, if it was a dead animal. She knew she should stand back, but she couldn't. She was too curious. She walked up a little further. It wasn't a dead animal. It was a body. A man. He was naked. She stood behind her grandfather, shielding herself from the man, but then had to step forward. She walked up slowly and touched him.

"He's warm."


The road streams out ahead of me and I just keep driving, thinking that somehow this journey to find you is going to help me understand. I need to know why this is happening. Why have you been taken from me? Why do I feel so strongly that this time, after all the other dead ends, that you will be waiting for me at the end? For much of my life I have relied on science to answer the questions around me. But at the same time I have relied on the faith of my childhood, of my family and its traditions. Now I am confronted by situations that defy all convention and for the first time I am afraid that my faith might not sustain me and my science will be unable to explain what is happening.

I haven't given up on you, on us. I know that somehow you will be returned, because you must. Anything else is inconceivable. It's been five months since you disappeared, Mulder. It's been five months since the doctor told me the unbelievable news that I am pregnant.

At first I was so overwhelmed that I'm not sure that either situation really sank in. I just kept thinking about the first time you really held me, when I woke up on your couch and without a thought went into your room and slipped into your bed. You rolled over and put your arms around me. I knew that I would never truly belong anywhere else again.

The fields and trees are flashing by me and I find that I can't remember which small towns I've passed. I should pay closer attention, but the news I received last night was too much and now my thoughts are jumbled again. Since you've been gone we've searched for you: Skinner, the Gunmen. I haven't known what to believe or trust from Krycek or Marita, but ultimately it was Alex that brought you back to me. But what has returned?

I find that I'm unable to picture what is waiting for me. Will you look like I did once, in a coma, unresponsive? Will you be like you were last year...apart from yourself, crazed by the interference of others?

I had not given up hope, but when the phone rang I was still stunned. So many times I had wondered what it would be like when they did call, because I always knew that you would come back to me. Anything else was unthinkable. But when I heard Skinner's voice over the line, I was still stunned. I dropped down on the couch as he explained that you had been discovered in Iowa. It all seems to be coming full circle again. Lake Okoboji. We had gone there on one of our very early cases. You had searched for Ruby Morris, as part of your greater search for Samantha. Ruby was returned to the lake, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you showed up there, too, instead of in Oregon. I guess these aliens have some sense of irony.

I have to pull out of this. Humor and sarcasm have become my defense as I try to reconcile with what has happened to us. I try to sort out my feelings and it's so difficult. When did I know how I felt? Have I always loved you? I think about the night in Oregon when I was sick, the first time I unknowingly felt this child's presence, and how you held me, put me in your warm bed and pulled your body around me trying to keep me safe with your physical presence. Now I can still feel you around me and know that you protect me still.

How will I tell you about this baby? Will you be able to comprehend it? What has happened to you?

They have you in the state hospital. You've been there for nearly a month according to Skinner. How could you have been somewhere for a month and I haven't known? The details are so sketchy and I have to admit that I'm a bit afraid of what I'm going to find when I get to the facility. What if after all this time it isn't you at all?


I come to the edge of the town and can see the hospital immediately. It looks very classic, large brick buildings, a physical plant with steam rising into the sky. It looks so...institutional. I pull through the gates. Cherokee State Hospital. How did you come to be here, Mulder?

I park and enter the administration building. My hand drops in front of my belly. I can't help myself. I need to reassure myself that the baby is still there, I need to protect him from this place.

"I'm Special Agent Dana Scully," I say, holding up my identification. "I'm here about the John Doe."

The woman nods and directs me to a waiting area. She'll call the doctor. I sit down, nearly trembling with trepidation. I've been waiting for you to come back, but now that it's happening I'm not sure that I'm ready.

"Agent Scully?"

My head snaps up. There is a tallish man with a gray beard standing in front of me.

"I'm Dr. Sandford," he says holding out his hand. I stand up and grasp his hand. This is the man who has been taking care of you. I want to ask him what his background is, how he's qualified to treat you, how he came to work at this place, but in the end all I really hope is that he is a good man.

"I'm sure you're eager to have your questions answered," he says, his face filled with sympathy. I don't know how many times he's had to talk to people like me, people searching for their loved ones, but his manner is putting me more at ease.

I nod. I'm not sure if I trust my voice right now. I keep my posture erect, professional, belying the extreme emotional duress I'm under. I try to breathe deeply. The baby doesn't need any more stress than absolutely necessary.

He directs me back to the main door and we exit the building. I try to listen as he talks about the hospital, their treatment plans, but I am not terribly interested in it. All I want to know about is Mulder...or the man I assume is you.

"Where...where did they find him?" I ask, finally speaking.

"Gull Point State Park," he answers. "A man and his granddaughter found him in the woods. There is a point that sticks out into the lake. It's hard to say how long he was there, probably not too long. My initial examination revealed signs of exposure, but I doubt he was outdoors more than one night.

"The Dickinson County sheriff's office tried to identify him, but their access to the national databases is limited. When there was no local trace of him, they transferred him here. We're the best facility able to deal with his condition."

"Which is?" I ask.

"Well, he's largely been catatonic. There have also been periods of extreme paranoia. He's very afraid of any needles. We did do a CT scan at the regional hospital, but we had to heavily sedate him to get him in the tube. There was no sign of neurological abnormalities, but there are some irregularities in his tox screen. Quite frankly, he's under the influence of something, but I have no idea what it is."

"And physical marks?" I ask, almost afraid to hear his answer.

"There are signs of injections, but no other marks on him. He does have two old scars; well-healed bullet wounds, one in his shoulder and one in the left leg."

I let out the air I didn't even realize I was holding. It's you. It has to be.


We walk into the ward. There is a hallway lined with closed doors. For a moment I am curious who is behind the doors, but my mind shift abruptly back to you, Mulder. Dr. Sandford goes to the fourth door on the right and peers in the window.

"He appears calm," the doctor says, reaching for his keys. The lock slides and he opens the door. I want to rush in, but I am so afraid of what I might find. Sandford holds the door for me. After a moment I step through.

You lie in the bed, your arms and legs restrained like they were the year before. Your head is turned toward the opposite wall. Even from ten feet away I can see that you are emaciated. Your hair is long, but you've been shaved. I step toward you and put my hand on your arm, but you doesn't move. I wait a moment and then move to the other side of the bed so I can see your face.

Your hazel eyes are at half-mast. You've obviously been drugged.

"What are you giving him?" I ask, looking up at the doctor.

"Haldol. We were having a hard time controlling him."

"I'd like to see what happens when he's off of it," I reply. "I'll never be able to get a response out of him this way."

"So he is...he is the man you were looking for?" the doctor asked.

I nod, my eyes filling with tears.


Two and a half weeks have passed and there has been little change in your condition, Mulder. Each day when I go in I assume that you will have awakened. You'll roll over, smile at me and ask if I swallowed a basketball. Instead you look at me through your half-opened eyes and never say a word.

I had hoped that after the Haldol had worn off that you would be more aware of your surroundings, but instead you are exactly the same. There have been no other violent outbursts, though, and the restraints have been removed.

Today I will ask them to put you in a wheelchair, Mulder so I can take you outside. We are having an Indian summer this week and somehow I think that the sun may be able to pull you back from the dark place into which you have disappeared.


"Skinner called this morning. Something about me being assigned to your case. I think it's just an excuse to keep paying me while I'm out here," I say, leaning forward to wipe a small line of drool from the corner of your mouth. We are in on the lawn behind your building. There are trees, benches and a few fading flowers. You felt light in the chair as I pushed you out here, Mulder. I'm convinced that you're wasting away, even though they have you on high calorie nourishment.

I look at you. Your head is cocked forward, as if your neck is too weak to hold it up. I tip it back toward the headrest on his chair and wonder if anything will ever be normal again.

"I think we should go home, Mulder," I start. "I don't think there's anything else they can do for you here and it would be good to be back with people we know. I'm sure you're getting tired of just looking at my face."

I have to get you out of here. If anything, it seems like you have gotten worse. Before I arrived you had at least been aware of your surroundings. Now you seem to be slipping further and further away.

I look at you again and I can see the life ahead of me. My return to our office alone, stopping at some facility to see him before I go home to our child.

But I will never see you as a burden, Mulder, I can't. I love you too much, I think as I lean forward and kiss your cheek.

What I will do is mourn our loss. And continue to hope that you will come back to me. Maybe you will; or maybe simply having your breath on my skin will be enough. But the important things, your intellect, your support...those things are gone and at this point it doesn't seem like they will ever return.

I tell you that I want to take you home, but that isn't really where you will go. You can't go to either of our homes. You requires constant care. I will have to put you in a nursing home. I can't fathom you being in such a place, in this state. After all that we have endured, all that we've seen and discovered, it seems like the cruelest twist of fate. I'm sure you wouldn't be able to imagine yourself like this either, if you were aware of anything around you.

Oh God...what if you are aware? What if you have questions and I'm not answering them? I still haven't said anything about the baby. If you were cognizant, you would ask me. What if you're trapped inside that body screaming questions at me?

I look back at you, Mulder, my eyes now filling with tears. There will be no more secrets.


When we put you back in your bed I ask the orderly to scoot you to one side. He nods and smiles at me. The staff here has been very kind. There's something different about the people in the Midwest. They don't ask a lot of questions, but seem to know what I need.

I tuck my body around you, with our baby snuggled between us. I scoot myself up so that my mouth is next to your ear. I begin with the phone call from Byers telling me about your disappearance. I tell you about the doctor breaking the news that I wasn't going to die of cancer, but rather that a new life was in me. I tell you about the PCR tests, waiting to make sure that this child would be healthy.

I tell about searching for you and worrying that you would never see your child. I tell you about my own worries that someone will take this child from me like they took Emily, how I've prayed that we will have a baby boy so I don't have to think about looking into her face again. I tell you how I considered ending the pregnancy to prevent anyone from hurting my child...our child. I tell you how in the end it was never even a remote possibility.

I tell you what I've never told you before. I tell you that I love you, Mulder, with all of my heart. I wrap my arms around you and pull you as tight to me as I can. I tell you that I will be with you no matter what.


The next morning in your bed I wake thinking that things will all be better. If anything will bring you out of this state, my love has to do it, doesn't it? Of course nothing is ever that simple. Instead I have a crick in my neck and an ache in my lower back. I crawl out of the warm bed and head for Dr. Sandford. One thing was for certain; we need to go back home.

I make the arrangements with the hospital. Skinner has been more than helpful on his end, getting us an air ambulance and having you pre-admitted to Georgetown Memorial. He still feels so guilty about your disappearance and this is one of the first things I have been able to let him do. I continue to keep the faith that you'll awaken before it became necessary to transfer you anywhere else.

I head back to the small motel room I had spent the few hours I had been able to pull myself away from your side. It would have made you proud. Before I met you, Mulder I didn't know anyone stayed at these little roadside motels, now I can hardly make myself stay anywhere else.

I reach for my suitcase and touch the clothes that I packed for you, in anticipation of finding you. But have I found you at all? In so many ways you're still lost to me and as the days go by I begin to wonder if that will ever change. I lie down on the bed and pull the shirt on top toward me. Your scent still lingers within it. I feel like such a soap opera heroine as I pull it toward my face and breath deeply. I want you with me, Mulder. I need you.

FIN


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