Frohike and Langly stared at the surveillance monitor in disbelief. They hadn’t
seen Mulder in just over two years and there he was standing outside their door smiling into the camera like the smartass
he always was.
of a bitch!” Yelled Frohike, “how dare that son of a bitch come here after all this time? Two years, he’s been gone for over two fucking years and nothing; now he’s here?” Frohike’s finger stabbed the air in front of the monitor.
turned to his colleague and said, “I suppose we should find out what he wants.”
don’t want to speak to that bastard. Leaving her like that with that, that,”
Frohike had to take a breath, “that bitch!”
men turned to Langly for the deciding vote. Langly shrugged his shoulders and
said quietly, “maybe he can explain himself.” He saw Frohike’s
anger grow. “Besides, if we let him in we can kick his ass.”
face changed from unadulterated anger to anticipatory sneer and he nodded. “But promise me you won’t hold me back.”
I guess that’s settled,” Byers said as he began to unlock the door.
time, I’ve been standing here for ten minutes.” Mulder commented
like it was yesterday instead of twenty-six months that he’d last been there.
you are lucky we didn’t just leave you there. And I wouldn’t let
Frohike hear you.” Byers’ eyes moved toward Frohike who was skulking
in the corner just watching. “You aren’t exactly his favorite person.”
misunderstood and turned to his old friend. “I didn’t think you’d
miss me that much.”
don’t give a shit about you abandoning us but to do that to Scully. You
are an ungrateful piece of shit.”
was clearly shaken by the violence in words of a man he thought of as his closest male friend and it sobered him immediately.
why I’m here. I went to her apartment but she doesn’t live there
anymore. I need her new address.”
came collectively from all three men.
Mulder was visibly stunned; he’d expected a certain amount of resistance but not this collective brick wall. Byers looked at the other two and they nodded to him.
exactly did you expect, Mulder? You leave with Diana Fowley after what she did
you? After what we showed you about her?
You didn’t leave a note or bother to contact any of us. Scully waited
for you to return. She searched for you all the time, hell they threatened her job because she wasn’t doing anything
else. She just wouldn’t believe you betrayed us like that.”
voice faltered so Frohike took over, “she’s just started to rebuild her life.
You can’t come back and ruin it again.”
couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He knew he’d made a huge mistake
but it was necessary, or so he thought, and it turned out to be worth it. He
counted on Scully being there when he returned. Maybe it was na´ve but after
reading her mind he knew she loved him; that she was in love with him.
argued but the men stood firm. The buzzer for the door screamed and there on
the monitor was Scully. Mulder took in her appearance; hair was slightly longer
and looser but her clothes were pure Scully, understated and her trademark black. She
was carrying brightly wrapped packages, no doubt her Christmas gifts for the guys.
gunmen looked at each other deciding what to do. Finally Byers broke the standoff. “Frohike you answer the door and tell her we’ve gone out. We’ll take Mulder in the back.” He turned to Mulder
when he felt the man begin to protest. “You can see her but she won’t
see you. Believe us, Mulder, you can’t do this to her.”
to Frohike, “I think you know what to say to her.”
let her in. “Sorry, Dana, you caught me at an odd moment.” He said as a means to cover his delay in opening the door, knowing she wouldn’t chance embarrassing
him by asking for more information.
okay, are the others gone?” She was looking around the room. Frohike just nodded. “Well, I just wanted to drop off
these presents and spend a little time with you before I head out to Hawaii
for Christmas. Finally a Scully man gets a posting somewhere worth going to for
the Holidays and it’s a place I’ve never been to.”
and Scully visited for nearly thirty minutes when she asked, “okay what is it?
I can tell you have something you need to tell me but you don’t want to.”
Dana, what would you say if I told you we know where Mulder is and we could arrange for you to talk or even meet with him?”
body stiffened and she put a fist to her mouth. “No. I can’t go through that again. It would
kill me to see him only to have him leave again. No, he made that decision.” She was gathering up her things as quickly as she could. “I have to go.” She rushed to the door and was
closing it behind her when she turned back and asked hesitantly, “is he okay Fro?
He isn’t hurt, is he?”
Dana, Mulder’s fine.”
heard her release her breath. “Good, I, uh, good.” The door closed, Mulder and the others came back into the room. Frohike
stood in front of the door to stall him if Mulder tried to go after her.
fell into the old couch that used to be his that had somehow been acquired by the Gunmen.
“Can I stay here for a while?” He asked, his voice sounded
defeated. He didn’t know what to expect from his homecoming but he never
expected total rejection from everyone he loved.
answered for the group. “Sure, Mulder, you can stay.” No one should be alone during the Holidays he figured. Frohike
glared at him but held his comments.
few hours later Mulder walked into the Gunmen’s kitchen. Frohike was checking
the oven while the others were setting the table. No one acknowledged his entrance. “Tell me?” Mulder asked.
knew what he was asking without elaboration. It was Byers who spoke. “It was hell for her. Wiped out her bank accounts and
borrowed money to go to Africa. She saw things that rocked her, things she still hasn’t been able to talk about. She was pretty shook up. We think she’s
stopped going to church.
retrieved you from that hellhole where they’d left you to die. She took
care of you and made sure that your wounds were clean and infection free.
been home a week when Skinner called her in and told her that Diana Fowley was missing.
She’d been angry that you chose not to press charges against her but she thought maybe it was best for you. She went to tell you and you were gone. She
didn’t know if you were kidnapped or if you went voluntarily.
put everything on hold just to search for you. Two months after you disappeared
it came down that the FBI Director ordered the search stopped. But she didn’t
let it go. She took it on personally then: she sold everything she could and
moved to a smaller less expensive apartment just to keep the search going.
day she showed up here with a video tape. She’d come home and found the
smoker in her living room. He told her that you were safe and back with Diana. She didn’t believe him so he gave her the tape.
She couldn’t watch it alone so she came to us. She also knew we’d
be able to tell if it had been altered or staged.” Byers quietly relayed.
was on the tape?”
and Diana getting married. Later you were at some resort, presumably your honeymoon. You were by a pool and you seemed to be rubbing lotion on her back.” Langly told him. “It was real cozy. Scully left after only a few minutes. We watched the rest
and all I can say is I’m glad she didn’t stay around. It was bad
enough as it was.”
wouldn’t even look at Mulder when he said, “her soul died then. After
everything she’s been through it took seeing you with that woman to kill it.
started not caring about anything. Took on dangerous cases without any regard
for her safety. She wouldn’t see anyone; practically cut her mom out of
her life.” He threw a serving spoon across the room. “She wanted to remove the chip! Skinner quietly had
her sent to a facility for treatment. Scully was in that place for three months
then they made her move in with her mom. She finally got the okay to move to
her own place nine months ago.
quit the FBI and is a pathologist at GW, nights mostly. She doesn’t like
to be around people. Her mom, Skinner and the three of us are the only ones she
sees. This trip to see her brothers and their families is a huge step for her.”
forgot Jake,” Langly threw in, “you can’t forget him.”
Frohike and Byers smiled and Byers said wistfully, “no, that we can’t do, we cannot forget Jake.” They could see the question in Mulder’s face. He both
needed to know yet feared the answer to the question ‘who is Jake?’ Byers
continued, “Jake Somers is Scully’s neighbor. He’s a widower
with the two kids and he’s very much in love with Scully.”
to marry her,” Langly chimed in.
jumped up, “what? Is she getting married?
Tell me she isn’t getting married, tell – me!” Mulder
put his hand on Mulder, restraining him. “She told him no but he keeps
asking. He’s a great guy and the kids adore her.”
were all silent while they ate; what little they ate. Mulder mostly just pushed
the food around on his plate. Mulder said something so quietly none of the others
could make it out.
“What?” Asked Langly.
said it was all a fake. The marriage, the resort and whatever else was on that
tape was faked.”
the crap, we saw the tape and it wasn’t tampered with. It was you getting
married to Diana Fowley, it was you slathering her back with lotion and nibbling on her ear and it was you screwing her in
that hotel room! It - was – you, Mulder, you,” Frohike screamed.
Frohike, it was a shape-shifter or maybe a clone.” He looked up and looked
into Frohike’s eyes. “Come on, do you really think I could do that
to Scully?” Mulder pleaded for them to understand.
old Mulder, no I don’t think he could. But the bastard you became that
year, the ass who stood there and told Scully she was making it personal, yeah, he could do it. That asshole could do it.”
was out of control so Byers stepped in. “Why don’t you tell us the
whole story? Then we’ll decide.”
He turned to Frohike, “are you willing to listen to him?” The
man just shrugged and Byers thought he heard him say something about ‘fairytales,’ but at least he agreed to listen.
came to my apartment that day and told me that unless I left willingly they were going to kill Skinner and Scully. I went; I didn’t think there was another choice. It
wasn’t until later I found out that she fabricated the whole thing. Spender,
himself told me that Diana set it up. He also told me that Scully had been sent
evidence about me and that as far as she was concerned I was a traitor and she stopped looking for me.” Mulder jumped from his seat and started pacing. “Do
you think she loves this Jake?”
was Langly who answered, “yeah, she loves him but she isn’t in love with him.
She wants him to find someone who can commit totally to him.”
can’t do that?” Mulder’s voice held hope.
answered, “No, I think she’d like to but she can’t. She’s
loved you too long to let it all go.”
walked along the deserted beach. The frantic-ness of Christmas was finally over
and she now had time to think.
days earlier Frohike had offered her the opportunity to meet with Mulder and she’d declined. She’d been so shaken that she could hardly turn the car engine over.
Luckily her flight was late that afternoon so she didn’t have time to think about anything other than getting
ready and it had remained hectic until today. Bill’s family had an early
flight to San Diego this morning and everyone else made plans of their own and went their own ways.
Unfortunately this lull also gave her the opportunity to think.
response to Frohike had been a gut reaction, pure and simple. Now she was not
sure if it was the right decision. Mulder’s betrayal had been deep but
a part of her wanted to see him again, if for no other reason than to be able to close the door to that time of her life. So she could move on, away from the memories of Mulder. Maybe then she could move toward someone else, possibly Jake or, at least, be able to feel alive again.
part, a part that shamed her, wanted to see him just so she could lash out and hurt him a little like he’d hurt her. The way she felt scared her, she wanted vengeance, and that was not something she
was used to and she certainly was not comfortable with. It scared her more than
she wanted to admit. A third part just wanted to make sure he was fine, that
he was healthy and happy; even if it was with Diana Fowley.
she was so afraid. She had only recently been functioning again. She’d been out of the sanitarium for eighteen months but that didn’t mean she was completely
healed. Skinner had committed her after her fourth near death experience from
taking unwarranted chances. She’d stopped caring about herself and how
it was affecting those around her.
her therapy she was able to work through it and realize that she was trying to prove to everyone, including herself, that
she didn’t need Mulder. Her therapist jokingly called it her own version
time in the sanitarium was bad but moving in with her mom was worse. She felt
defeated and her mom was walking around on egg shells; afraid to say or do something to upset her. One day Scully was sorting through some photo albums and she came across several blank spots on some of
the pages. It took a moment for her to realize her mom had removed all the pictures
that Mulder was in. It was like having a part of your past wiped out.
next day she scheduled the interview at GW that resulted in her new job and tendered her resignation from the FBI. In six months she’d moved into a new townhouse, paid down her credit cards and even had the beginnings
of some savings. Heck, she even had a ready made family if she wanted it.
seeing Mulder take all that away? Scully wished she knew the answer.
walked back to the tree line and sat in the shade. She was so absorbed in her
thoughts she didn’t see the man standing in the shadows watching her.
arrived in Hawaii the night before having gotten the information from Gunmen after he explained what had really happened. It had nearly killed him knowing that Scully thought he’d betrayed her. When he saw her at the Gunmen’s he wanted to run to her and hold on for the rest of his life. Find a way to make her forgive him. He’d
almost cried out when she declined Frohike’s offer to meet with him; only Byers’ gentle grip on his shoulder stopped
showed him the tape and he understood her hurt and the guys being skeptical of him.
It was flawless. It was his visage on the screen. It did look like he’d sold out for the soft life with Diana and the surety of being ‘saved’
when hell broke loose. It was very reminiscent of the dream life he’d led,
the dream that he’d told Scully about just the day before he’d left. God,
he was a complete ass for not seeing through Diana’s duplicity. He could
only imagine what had gone through Scully’s mind when she saw those scenes played out before her eyes. Still, it was hard to believe how it had broken her spirit.
should have found a way to contact her. He’d had opportunities but he figured
it was better for her to just think he was gone. How could he have been so clueless? So reckless with her?
her made him ache all the more and knowing he was not welcome nearly made him leave.
But he had to see her, had to talk to her. He wanted a chance to explain
and win her back. He also had something to give her that meant her freedom.
felt something she hadn’t felt in over two years. Now it happened twice
in a week. Her first time was at the Gunmen’s but she’d dismissed
it, thinking it was only because Frohike mentioned him. Now she was feeling it
again. The feeling disappeared when Mulder did.
The feeling was back, that meant only one thing; Mulder was somewhere near. She
looked around the nearly deserted beach. He was standing near a group of palm
trees. The sun was to his back so she couldn’t make out his features but
she knew his form.
stood but couldn’t seem to move. Her instinct to run was strong but this
was Mulder and his absence hadn’t diminished his pull. So she just stood
there like a deer caught in headlights that were his eyes.
slowly moved toward her like one would approach a wounded animal. He feared she
would bolt if he moved too quickly.
it’s me.” Was all he could think to say.
was a moment of silence then she gave in and a small bark of laughter came from her.
Mulder. Get caught in traffic?”
everything you think you know is wrong. It was all faked. I left to keep you and Skinner safe, or at least that was what I thought.
It was all a lie. Diana lied to me.
I found out later but by then you’d gotten that damned tape.” The
words poured from him in a rush.
is the lovely Mrs. Mulder?”
Miss Fowley. It wasn’t me in the starring role. It just looked like me.”
are you trying to say? That it was one of the shape shifters or a clone? Why, why would they bother, Mulder. They
knew that I knew you left with Fowley.” In the space of her short speech
her voice reflected incredulity to possible belief and then finally hope.
you were looking for me. You stopped after you got that tape.” Scully looked toward the water and nodded. “Scully?”
just, I don’t know. For over two years this is what I wanted but now I
just don’t believe it.” She looked at him, pinning him with her eyes. “You were there weren’t you? You
were there when Frohike asked if I wanted to see you.” It wasn’t
a question. “Why, you said you found out that Fowley lied to you so why
didn’t you return?”
wanted to but there were things I needed to find out.” Mulder pulled a
small stainless steel vial from his pocket. “Another chip, Scully, only
this one doesn’t make you a prisoner. It maintains your health but they
can’t monitor it and,” Mulder paused and looked at the vial. “They
can’t call you again. You’ll never have to worry about being called
for emollition ever again, Scully.”
moved closer and held out her hand. Mulder placed the vial in her hand and clasped
his around hers.
felt the tear hit his hand but he wasn’t sure if it was hers or his. “Freedom.”
sat across the table from him. She didn’t know what to believe. It was hard for her to comprehend. More than two years he’d
been gone, yet it felt like they’d seen each other just yesterday.
that whole tape was staged to make me believe you’d married that woman?”
really not an idiot, I just play one on TV.” They both broke into embarrassed
smiles. Mulder turned serious. “You
believe me, right?”
she bit her bottom lip. “I want to, but this is everything I’ve wanted
to hear for two years. I can’t be sure you are back because you figured
out your life with,” she paused to rein herself in. “That your life
with ‘her’ wasn’t working so you decided to come back to,” she stopped herself before revealing too
much. “So you decided to come back.”
made a move to touch her face and she pulled back.
never wanted to leave. I thought I was doing the right thing. But after finding out what you’ve gone through I could kick myself.” He reached across the small table and took her hand. “Scully,
looked skyward as if the skylight held the words she was looking for. “You
don’t ask the simple ones do you? I guess you never did.” She took a sip or whatever the concoction she’d ordered. It
was too sweet but it had enough alcohol to give her some Dutch courage. “It
was hell. First I worked frantically to find you, I wiped out my savings. I got nowhere. Then that tape arrived. A personal delivery from Mr. Spender himself.
With it came the destruction of my world.”
Mulder didn’t know what else to say.
stopped caring and finally Skinner took control. He forced me into Rolling Hills. When I got out I had to live with my Mom, it was a condition of my release. They were afraid I was suicidal.” Her shoulders shrugged,
Mom was beside herself. Afraid to do or say the wrong thing. One day she was at her Ladies Auxiliary meeting and I started going through some photo albums. God, Mulder, she had taken out every picture that you were in. It
was horrible, just awful. But it was also the jolt I needed. I turned around and started getting back on my feet.”
played with his fingers. “The guys told me about some guy named Jake. They said he wants to marry you.”
desperately wanted to ask her how she felt but he was terrified of the answer so he let it hang in the air between them.
is a wonderful loving man with terrific kids. I’d marry him in a heartbeat
but that wouldn’t be fair to either of us. I don’t love him and he
deserves that and I’d always be trying to compensate.” She looked
out toward the sunset. “I wish I could give him what he deserves.”
I have to ask. Is, well, is it because of me?” He closed his eyes and said a silent prayer out to whoever might be listening.
everything you’ve put me through, yes, I still love you. I suppose I always
will and that is why I will always be alone.”
Scully, I feel the same. I love you; I have for a long time. I always thought you knew.”
sure have a strange way of showing it.” Her tone had grown harsh and he
couldn’t blame her. He’d ruined her life and it nearly cost her that
I promise you that I will do anything to make you believe in me again. I just
need to know that there is a chance, a chance for us.”
looked up at him, her face was unreadable. “Is that what you really want?
Or is it the guilt speaking?”
couldn’t believe she didn’t know. He reached over and touched her
cheek; happy she hadn’t pulled away. “I wasn’t just trying
to make you stay when I said you made me a whole person. It wasn’t the
drugs that made me tell you I love you after you fished me out of the Atlantic and you are the only person I ever gave me secrets to batting to.
Hips before hands, Scully, hips before hands.” Scully’s eyes
got big. “The only one, Scully. I
what were you doing that year? One moment we would be so in sync and I thought,
we’re finally moving forward. Then something would happen, and it usually
had to do with Diana Fowley. You sided with her and against me.” She pulled away slightly and looked down. “The last
memories I have of you were you telling me that dream life you had while they were playing God with your brain. A dream about an alternate life where you shared your love with her even after you knew she’d worked
against you. It was then that I knew we’d never be more than we already
were.” Scully raised her head and pasted a fake smile on her face while
tears brandished her cheeks. “Then you were gone.” She shrugged her shoulders and sniffled.
Scully,” he sighed more than said. “I told you that to tell you how
you saved me in that dream just like you saved me in real life. Not that I wanted
that life. I think I was influenced by who was around me. Why else would I have trusted Spender? He was around all the
time, so was Diana. I needed to see that life and how wrong it was for me to
know the beauty of my real life.” He took hold of her hand and held tight
as she tried to pull away.
came to me after you left that night. I was feeling pretty good about us. I’d told you about the dream and you hadn’t bolted and I thought that
meant you understood what I was telling you. You hadn’t been gone ten minutes
when Diana came. She told me that I had to leave, to disappear for a while because
they were threatening to kill you and Skinner. Twenty-twenty hindsight tells
me it was too convenient, too contrived but she knew I’d never knowingly endanger you.
It didn’t take long for me to realize she’d played me. Just
didn’t know that the threat was pure fabrication until much later. I’d
gone into hiding after I left her, using money I’d stashed in various banks.
finally found me and told me about the tape and how you’d stopped looking for me.
He didn’t tell me what was on the tape but I knew it had to have been convincing for you to stop like that.”
stood up and moved his chair inches from hers. “I was lost. I drank for a while until I saw my dad’s bloodshot eyes looking back at me in the mirror. I decided to try and get back some of what they’d taken from you.
I sought out some people from MUFON and with their help I was able to get to a source in the inner circle and he finally
got me that chip.”
looked at the vial in her hand. This story was so incredulous, so improbable,
so Mulder. In a small voice she said, “freedom.”
Scully, freedom; for both of us.” Mulder placed his hand over hers.
looked at their intertwined hands and smiled. “I love you, you know. I’m sure you read that in my mind.”
I did. But it’s better when you tell me yourself.” Mulder leaned in and kissed her. “I love you, too.”