The world is a lot smaller than it used to be.
That's how it seems, anyway. Looking at our diminished population, all gathered in one space, it feels like half the universe has disappeared.
Alex decided, wisely it seems to me, to hold this meeting in a different lecture hall than the one we usually use. A smaller one. There aren't a lot of empty seats, but still, when I look around and think that this is it, we're all that's left, it's a little scary.
I've tried not to let my identity become too tangled up in this place. I was part of a group once before, with the other ones they made like me, the other clones. When I lost them I felt displaced and directionless. I don't want to feel that again. But when you live with people for as long as I've lived here, it becomes difficult to separate oneself. It's difficult to remain indifferent when things are going badly.
Things are going very badly. It's hard to say exactly how bad it's going to get because it's only been a few weeks since the unfortunate incidents, but things don't look particularly promising.
It's not just that we lost so many people. It's not even that we've lost our allies, perhaps made new enemies of them. Those are bad signs, surely, but I sense that the true threat is not from the outside, but rather from within.
I have a friend, Laurie. Laurie is a former slave, diagnosed with the cancer about six months ago. She had a lover named Jordan. Jordan died in the raid on the rebel headquarters. We have a cure for Laurie but she doesn't want to use it. She told me a few days ago that she'd rather die than carry on in this shit world without Jordan. She said that the only thing keeping her from killing herself is the hope that she can make Alex pay for what he's done.
There are a lot of Lauries. And, unfortunately for Alex, there aren't a lot of Danas or Bryans-people loyal not only to the cause, but to him.
The dichotomy is more obvious than usual today. Alex is sitting at the center of a large, rectangular table in the front of the room, Dana at his right and Bryan at his left. There are a few others at the table; Alex's advisors, the heads of the farming, goods distribution, and housing committees, but the rest of us are sitting on the other side of the table. I don't feel like I belong here. Everyone on this side seems very angry.
The meeting hasn't officially started yet but people are already talking amongst themselves. Bitter, nasty words are bouncing around the room and gaining strength from each other. I hope Alex knows how dangerous it is to underestimate the idiocy potential inherent in large groups. Once mob mentality firmly sets in, our problems are really going to begin.
I try to make eye contact with Dana, to give her a reassuring smile, but she's not looking up from her notepad. She looks pale, almost sickly. Alex looks as cool as ever. Sometimes I think he enjoys being an object of hatred.
"Excuse me, Miss. I received an invitation to a lynching this morning. Am I in the right place?"
Mulder. I smile up at him half-heartedly and hold out a hand, offering him the empty seat next to me.
"Actually no, this is a circus. But why don't you stay anyway?"
"Do you think Bryan's gonna do his lion taming act?"
"Maybe if you ask nice."
He sits down with a sigh and runs his fingers through his hair. He seems a little nervous himself. I'm glad he's sensible enough to be worried and that he's not jumping on the bandwagon because of his personal issues. Glad and not surprised.
"How do you think this is gonna go, Roseanne?"
"People are really angry, aren't they?"
"Seems that way."
He shifts around in his chair and glances over his shoulder. Then he looks back at me and leans in close, speaking quietly. I can't help it. It gives me a cheap little thrill.
"I can't help but feel a little responsible for all this," he murmurs in such a sexy voice that I almost miss what he's said completely.
"Responsible? Responsible how?"
"A few months ago, I told Krycek that it would probably be a good idea to break his alliance with the rebels. I know he didn't do this because of me but I did put the idea into his head."
I don't know what surprises me more. That those two managed to have a civil conversation, ever, or that Alex might have actually listened to something Mulder said.
"It wasn't a bad idea, Mulder. And there were other factors at work."
Before I can list those factors, Alex clears his throat and stands up to speak. I don't think I've ever felt so much sympathy for him in my life. I hope no one decides to shoot him.
"All right, I guess we should start, here," he says and the conversation quiets to a few hushed whispers. "I want to thank you all for coming, first of all. We've got a lot of things to discuss. A lot of challenges to meet, and I think that the best way to handle things is if we all work together."
Some strange demonic part of me takes hold of my pencil and writes, "How much do you wanna bet she wrote this speech?" in my notebook. The same demon shoves the book in Mulder's general direction, only realizing after she's done so that he might not find it particularly funny. Luckily for her, and for me, he smiles.
"We've all suffered some great losses recently, and I'm afraid we're bound to suffer some more. The coming months are not going to be easy. We're going to start running out of some supplies, probably when we need them most; during the winter. Which means we're going to need to start rationing now."
"Rationing what?" someone calls out from the peanut gallery.
"Rationing...well, everything. Food, water, electricity, medical supplies... I have, I've been talking to people at the farm and we've got some ideas about how to better utilize our agricultural development and we're hoping to have plenty of food for everyone by wintertime. But right now, we're going to need to be a bit more frugal. We're all going to have to give up some of the comforts we've grown accustomed to."
"Comforts? Like what? The comfort of knowing the people you love aren't going to be brutally murdered? Is that one of the "comforts" we're going to have to sacrifice to the cause, Alex?"
Uh-oh. It's Laurie. She's already flipping. And I can just tell that Alex is not going to handle this well. He's giving her that look. The creepy, icy glare that puts the fear of God into every man, woman, and child it falls upon. It's an effective tool in some situations. But this is absolutely not one of them. It's a good thing he's got a human half now.
"Laurie, we're all sorry about what happened to Jordan," Dana offers from her seat. She's got her hand on Alex's arm, probably hoping it will restrain him from strangling this poor woman.
"About what happened to all the people we lost. It's a terrible tragedy for all of us. What we're trying to do is ensure that they didn't die in vain. We've lost so much, but we've also won something very important. We're free now. Free to make our own choices and our own progress. We're not working for the rebels anymore, only for ourselves. We have a chance to become truly self-sufficient. Don't you think Jordan would have wanted that?"
"You can put whatever spin you want on it, Dana. The fact is, he died for nothing. NOTHING! And you KNOW that!"
She starts shaking and collapsing into a fit of blubbering and luckily, there's someone else next to her to offer some comfort. Frankly, I don't think I'm capable at this point. I don't deal well with hysteria.
Neither does Dana. But she's keeping her cool.
"Laurie, it doesn't have to be that way. If we all work together, maybe we can give this terrible loss some meaning. We have some tentative plans if you'll all listen for a..."
"There is no meaning, Doctor Scully," a voice from behind me sounds quietly. It's Thomas, one of the men who made it back from this failed mission.
"I was there. I saw those men, saw them burned alive. For absolutely nothing. I'm sure there's not much time before we all meet the same fate. And I think we all know who we have to thank for that."
His angry gaze falls directly on Alex, who is now positively fuming. If there's anything he needs, it's control. And this meeting is spiraling way out of control after only five or ten minutes. He opens his mouth to speak, but Dana raises out of her seat and cuts him off.
"Now wait just a minute. I seem to recall hearing a different tune from you *before* all of this happened. In fact, if I remember correctly, you were pretty damn gung-ho about this whole plan. So were a lot of you. I don't remember *anyone* here raising any sort of objection to the plan Alex laid out. We all thought it was a good idea. We all went along with it."
Her passionate defense is touching if somewhat ironic. If I remember correctly, Dana was the only person who thought the whole thing was a mistake.
"So, what, it didn't work out the way we thought it would. We lost. So now you decide it was a bad idea all along and turn against the person who...the man that..."
She places her palm on the table top and seems to wobble a bit. Her eyes shut and she takes a deep breath. Alex's face looses all trace of fury as he turns to her, totally alarmed. I feel Mulder inhale sharply next to me. The whole room goes deathly quiet and seems to be holding its breath.
Finally she opens her eyes again, places her hand over her mouth, and mutters, "Excuse me," into her fingers. She turns away from the crowd and flees out the back entrance of the room.
Anther flurry of conversation follows her departure. Words like cancer, relapse, and "Now what the hell are we gonna do?" seem to come from every direction. But I know that's not what it is. I saw those tests she was running this afternoon. I figured they were just precautionary, part of an overall physical exam she was giving herself. Looks like it's more than that.
Mulder rustles next to me, seeming anxious to get up and follow her. And Alex, poor Alex just stands there with his mouth open, looking like someone just tossed a brick at his gut.
Neither of them are gonna be able to help her right now.
I get out of my seat and start for the door, stopping on my way out to talk to Alex.
"I'll go. You stay," I tell him.
"Yes, Alex. Just stay. I'm sure she's fine. And I know she needs you to stay here and finish this."
He nods and I run out the door, hoping against hope that he can manage to handle this situation without her.
It only takes me a minute to find her. I just follow the wretching sounds. She didn't quite make it to the restroom. She's hunched over in the doorway, puking onto the white linoleum floor.
I step over her and gather a couple of rolls of toilet paper to clean up the mess. I guess that does it for the weeks TP ration.
I carry the pile, along with a cup of water, back to the doorway, sit down on the floor next to her and watch her vomit her little heart out for a few minutes. When she's done she sits back on her knees and I hand her the water and a wad of paper to wipe her mouth with. I start cleaning up even though she tells me I don't have to.
I manage to get most of the gunk off the floor and flush it down the toilet. It still stinks though. Nothing smells as bad as stale puke.
"Feel better?" I ask, settling next to her on the floor again.
"Little bit. Thanks."
"Have you told Alex?"
"Told Alex what?"
"I saw the tests you've been running on yourself, Dana."
"I don't want to talk about this right now."
"Because I...I don't know what I'm going to do yet."
Do? What the hell can she do? She's pregnant. It's not like she's going to be able to keep it a secret for very long. Unless...
"Dana, you're not-not thinking about getting rid of it are you?"
Her lack of an answer is answer enough. I'm not sure what to say about that. It's her decision certainly, and we do have the technology for her to do it safely. But something about it just screams "wrong" to me. And not because of any moral misgivings. It just seems like a wasted opportunity. An opportunity that I'll never have. An opportunity she herself thought she'd never have.
"Dana, this is, it's a miracle. It's unbelievable. You've been given a wonderful chance here."
"Wonderful chance? Roseanne, look around. How can I justify bringing a child into this world right now? How can I have a-a baby and not even know if there will be anyone alive in five years to take care of it?"
That's a tough one. She's right, of course. Still, it feels like she'd be making a mistake. It feels like this baby might be the glimmer of hope we all need so desperately. But how fair would it be to put that kind of expectation on her shoulders? She's just one woman trying to live.
I'm at a loss.
"You...you should tell him, either way."
She wipes her mouth again and looks me in the eyes. Sadness. So much sadness in her as she asks me, "Which him?"
I haven't been having nightmares anymore. Not since the night she told me she loved me. Not since she forgave me. No, I haven't been having nightmares, but my dreams haven't been good. They've been the kind of dreams I used to have when I was a child. Not horrific enough to be called nightmares, but not good enough to be enjoyable. Anxiety dreams. Dreams of showing up to school with no pants on or starring in a play and forgetting all of my lines.
Today the feeling from those dreams infested my reality. The meeting wasn't as bad as it could have been. No one took out a gun and shot me. Not horrific maybe, but not good.
Dana's hasty exit left me feeling even more vulnerable and untethered up there, and I found myself unable to concentrate on the matter at hand because I was so worried about her. The crowd did calm down a bit, and I got a chance to lay out some of my plans, but nothing I said was received with much enthusiasm. And without Dana there, I found myself unable to muster any real excitement or conviction. They saw through me, right into the heart of my fear and confusion. I might as well have been naked.
Even though they were quiet, I could sense their anger, their disgust with my helplessness. I felt those things myself. Why wouldn't they? They knew it as well as I know it. The Emperor really has no clothes. Or food. Or toilet paper.
The sky is dark tonight. No stars to light my way as I walk home. No moon to shine on the trees and show me if anyone's hiding behind them. I start walking a little faster, checking over my shoulder every so often and wishing I'd decided to go back with Bryan. Or even Mulder. Talk about pathetic.
By the time I've made it to my door, I've actually taken my gun out of the its holster and I'm holding it in my hand. A little paranoia never hurt anybody I suppose. It's certainly helped me more times than I can count.
When I open the door, though, I find Roseanne on the other side, looking more than a little horrified at my display.
"What are you doing with that thing? You trying to kill somebody?" she whispers harshly.
The room is almost as dark as it was outside. She's only got one small light on over the stove. I drop the weapon on the kitchen table and look around for Dana.
"Where is she?"
"She's sleeping, Alex. Keep your voice down."
"Well...but, is she okay?"
"She's fine. She's gonna be fine."
I start to walk back towards the bedroom and Roseanne holds out her arm, blocking me.
"Just let her sleep, Alex. She needs to rest."
"Well what the hell is wrong with her?"
She just stares at me for a moment with an extremely peculiar expression on her face. Pity? It almost looks like pity.
"Nothing. Nothing's wrong with her, Alex. Just...just be quiet. And when she wakes up, make sure she drinks some juice."
"Yes, juice. You've got some, don't you?"
"I guess. I dunno."
God, I can't think. How the hell does she expect me to know if we have juice or not? How am I supposed to remember something like that right now?
"Just take care of her, Alex. Make sure she gets something nourishing and...just take care of her."
Take care of her? What else does she think I'm gonna do?
"Roseanne, what is wrong with her?"
"Just...just a stomach flu, I think."
She's lying to me. I can tell. But I don't want to hear the truth from her anyway. I need to talk to Dana.
"Stomach flu. That's very interesting. Look, Roseanne, could you...um..."
I make a gesture towards the door and she nods and hurries over there, looking as anxious to leave as I am to have her gone. I open the door for her, but just before I can close it behind her she turns around and tells me one more time, "Take care of her, Alex."
If she says it again I'm going to smack her, so I close the door in her face before she gets the chance.
When I turn back around, Dana is standing, sagging really, against the wall.
"I'm fine. I'm fine."
"Are you sure? Come and sit down."
I walk over to the couch and pat the cushions, but she doesn't move. It's so damn dark in here. I can hardly see her face. She looks weak though.
"What happened? Roseanne said you had a stomach flu?"
"Uh..." She pushes herself off the wall and her legs start to wobble immediately.
"Here, come and sit down."
She makes her way to the couch and it takes an inordinately long time. Every step seems to be a struggle for her. When she finally sits down next to me, she sighs with relief.
"How did it turn out?" she asks.
"It was...something. I dunno. Not great."
"Well, you're still alive anyhow."
She smiles weakly at me and I smile back, even more weakly.
"I got to tell them some of my ideas."
"Not much of a response. But nobody had any other ideas. Not that they mentioned anyway, although I'm sure they're out there plotting a mutiny right now."
She takes my hand in both of hers and pulls it onto her lap. She's wearing those fuzzy flannel pajamas I love and her legs feel so soft and warm. So safe. I almost feel safe for the first time all day.
"Alex, you have to realize that they're just as confused as we are. And what's making it worse is that they can sense you're feeling ill at ease. What did you do to gain their confidence in the beginning? Before I was here?"
Before she was here. That seems like another lifetime. A million and one years ago. I do remember though. I remember a similar struggle and the confidence I had back then.
"I knew things. I had connections. I knew how to keep them safe."
"Well, you still have some connections. Or maybe you don't even need connections. Maybe we can be self-sufficient now."
"I'd like to believe that."
"No," she squeezes my hand and looks into my eyes intently. "You HAVE to believe that. Do you understand?"
"I'm trying, Dana. It's just, looking at things realistically, it's hard to see how it's going to work."
"You have to stop fighting against them, first of all. You have to make them feel like they are personally responsible for their own survival."
"Fighting? I'm not the one fighting, Dana. How am I supposed to react when they're looking at me like a pack of rabid dogs?"
"See, this is what I'm talking about. Quit being reactionary. I'm not saying they're right and you're wrong. Or vice versa. You've got to guide them into self-sufficiency, in every way. It's the only way we are going to survive. And I believe you can do it, Alex."
Oh, devotchka, I know you're right. But I don't want to guide anyone to anything right now. I just wanna curl up in your arms and sleep.
"I'm just so tired, Dana. So tired of it."
"I know. But you've come so far already. Don't give up now, Alex."
I put my head down on her shoulder and bury my nose in the crook of her neck, not ready to give up just yet but so ready to rest. So ready to curl up in the cocoon of our bed and enjoy the one good thing left in the world.
"I need...I need to tell you...something."
"What's that, baby?"
"It's something you're not going to want to hear."
I lift my head from her shoulder, look at her face, feel the first palpitations of a cardiac episode.
"Something I hadn't intended to tell you..."
"You're sick. You're sick again, aren't you? It's back."
"No. No, Alex. No."
Okay. Okay, then. It couldn't be anything worse than that. There is nothing worse than that.
"So, what is it then?"
She gives my hand a final squeeze and then drops it, running her fingers through her hair and looking up towards the ceiling.
"Oh God, how can I do this?"
"Dana, what is it? It can't be that bad."
"It's bad, Alex. So...God."
A thousand possibilities bounce around in my mind but only one rises to the top and it is the only thing almost as bad as the cancer. She's leaving me. She doesn't love me and she's leaving me for Mulder. Or just for the hell of it.
But that couldn't be right. She told me she loves me. She told me. Why would she bother if it wasn't true?
"Dana, please, just tell me. You're scaring me."
She inhales a deep, shuddering breath and when she lets it out, I see a tear form in the corner of her eye. I watch it slide down her cheek as she says, "Mulder. Mulder and I...after you left, after our fight, when you...when you wanted me to leave. I..."
"I was so confused. So hurt. So guilty."
Oh God. No. Just...no.
"What did you do?"
She looks up at me, openly crying now, and I know what she did. I know. And I feel the walls closing in on me, the floor swirling under me, threatening to swallow me into an abyss. My heart is beating even faster than before, and though it's about 20 degrees outside, I'm sweating and want to open the window.
But I also feel a hope, sickening in its futility, that it's not as bad as I think it is.
"I went to him, Alex."
She just stares at me, begging me with her eyes to figure it out so she doesn't have to say it. Well maybe I have figured out, but she's not gonna get off that easily.
"Please don't hate me. Please."
"Just tell me what you did."
"Oh, Alex. I was so...I felt so lost. And I, I went to the only thing that was familiar to me."
"I spent the night with him, Alex."
My mouth dries up and my throat seems to close in on itself, and for a minute, I can't manage to utter a word.
"What does that mean? Did you....please tell me you didn't."
She just sits there, shaking and crying and not saying another damn thing. So, there it is. She fucked him. Just like I thought in the first place. I threw her out because I thought she was fucking him so what does she do? She goes and fucks him. Way to prove my point, Dana. Jesus Christ.
But what can I say, really? What am I supposed to say? I don't know what to say.
"How many times?" is what I end up saying. She continues to stare and weep.
"Once, Alex. One time," she whispers, with some indignation. As if it's an unreasonable question. As if there's something wrong with me for thinking it could possibly be more than that. What the hell am I supposed to think?
What the hell am I supposed to do? I feel like puking. And then hunting down Mulder and shoving his balls down his throat.
But Dana...God, Dana. What am I supposed to say to her? I can't even stand to look at her teary eyes anymore. I can't be angry at her when she's crying. I feel like strangling her and then I look at her and just crumble.
I stand up from the couch and move over to the kitchen table, turning my back to her so that I don't have to look at that pitiful face and feel sorry for her. Sorry for HER.
"Alex, whatever you're thinking right now, I want...I need you to remember that I love you. I always have. Nothing could change that."
An image of the two of them together, her moving on top of him, sensually, sinuously, and him lying under her with a revoltingly blissful expression on his face, pops into my mind at that moment. It's all I can do not to turn on her and ask her just what the fuck she thinks that word means.
But the frustrating part is, I know she knows what it means. And I know that she loves me. After everything we've just been through, everything she said to me earlier about her faith in me and her support, how could I even question it? And after everything she's forgiven me for, how could I begrudge her one sin?
But how could it not make me sick? How could it not make me hate?
"That...son of a bitch."
"No, Alex, don't. I went to him. As my friend, my...my lover from the past."
"I don't care, Dana! I don't care if you danced a naked mambo on his head. That fucking bastard lied to me!"
"Lied? What do you mean, lied?"
How soon we forget. I suppose that little "truce" Mulder tried to thrust on me all those months ago was as meaningless as I'd thought at the time. It sure as hell impressed her though. But now she's forgotten. She's forgotten that he told me he'd given up on her. That he was willing to let her go, let her be with me and be happy.
"It doesn't matter. Doesn't matter anymore. Worse than that, he took advantage of you, Dana."
"No, Alex, it wasn't like that."
God, please. Please just shut up, Dana. Please stop defending him and telling me you wanted it. I need to hate someone. I don't want to hate you, Dana. Please.
"Listen, I don't want you to blame him for this, Alex."
"No, of course you don't."
"Look, if I recall correctly, I was no longer allowed to sleep in our bed."
So, what, she's gotta make a whore of herself in someone else's bed two days later? Aren't there any empty beds in this place?
Oh, God, calm down. I can't let her see this.
"So, what is your point, Dana? It's not his fault, it's mine?"
"No! Alex, God. Does it have to be someone's fault all the time? It just...it happened. It's done. I did it. What the hell does it matter whose fault it is now?"
"I don't KNOW Dana! Why the hell are you telling me this now if it doesn't matter to you? Do you just wanna make me feel even shittier than I already do?"
I'm shouting now. Shouting and close to tears myself, and that just isn't good.
"No. No, Alex. I'm telling you because I have to. Because I...because I don't have the stomach flu."
She sniffles and wipes her face with the sleeve of her pajamas as I turn back to look at her.
"What the hell does that mean?"
"I didn't throw up in the hall because of a stomach virus. I threw up because I....because...I'm pregnant."
We stare at each other for a good long time after that one. After a few minutes, during which I contemplate pulling my hair out strand by strand or, better yet, just jumping out the window and ending it all fast, she gives me a strange little shrug, breaking the stillness.
"Dana, I don't...I don't understand. It's not possible. You can't be."
She shrugs again and wipes some more moisture from her face.
"I am. I've run every possible test short of injecting some poor bunny rabbit with my urine, and I am, without a doubt, pregnant."
"But it's not...that's not physically possible, Dana."
"Stranger things have happened."
"The point is, it's an undeniable fact. I'm pregnant."
The reality of this second earth-shattering statement she's made tonight starts to settle in a bit and for one pathetic moment, I feel sort of happy. She's going to have a baby. We're going to have a baby.
But then I remember the first statement.
"So, so you're telling me these things at the same time because...."
Her head drops and she starts chewing on her lip, a sure sign of more bad news to come.
"You're pregnant with his baby."
Heavy sigh and then a very quiet, almost inaudible, "Maybe."
She nods and I sink into one of the kitchen chairs, my legs unable to support me any longer.
"You and I...um, it was less than seventy-two hours after Mulder. Less than forty-eight I believe."
"Oh my God."
Oh my God. Oh God. I'm gonna be sick. I really am.
"Alex, I...I don't know what to say."
"Have you told Mu...have you told him yet?"
"No, no I haven't. I don't think I'm going to."
"Well, it's gonna be pretty hard to keep it a secret when you start blowing up like a balloon."
"No, Alex, no. I, I'm not going to keep it. I'm going to terminate the pregnancy."
"Roseanne can help me. It's perfectly safe."
"No, Dana. You, you can't."
"I have to, Alex."
"I don't...I don't understand this. I don't understand any of this."
"Alex, think about it. First of all, if it is Mulder's, it might not even be human. Who knows what it might be? And then, if I have it, what if something happens? How can I bring a child into this world, Alex? When we don't even know how we're going to survive from day to day?"
"I don't...I don't know. I....God, is there anything ELSE?"
I'm half expecting her to peel off her skin and reveal the green, scaly innards or to tell me she's decided to give up resistance fighting and go to clown college. But she shakes her head, no. There's nothing else.
"I can get my things together quickly if you want me gone."
"Do you want to go? Is that why you're telling me all this? So I'll kick you out again and you can be free?"
"No. I want to stay. I need you, Alex. Now more than ever."
I slump down in the chair and rub my eyes, trying to blot her out of my vision for a minute so that I can think clearly. How the hell am I supposed to think clearly? How am I supposed to keep myself from crying or screaming or tearing the place to pieces? How did she do it when I confessed to her?
But that was different. That was about the past, about things I'd done to her years and years ago, before I even knew her. This is now. This is personal. Very personal.
After a few minutes I feel her behind me, touching my shoulders and rubbing lightly.
"I do love you, Alex. I do."
"This is just...it's a hell of a lot of shit, Dana."
"I know. I'm sorry."
She leans her head down and kisses my ear and whispers it again, "I'm sorry. I never wanted to hurt you."
"Isn't there some way to find out whose it is?"
"It doesn't really matter, does it? I told you, I can't in good conscience bring a child into this world."
"But what if it's mine? If it's ours? Don't you want that?"
"I-how can I, Alex?"
"What happened to don't give up? Don't you see the hope in this?"
"I've got hope. Hope is you and me. How can a child be expected to have hope being born into this world? It wouldn't even have a point of reference like we do."
I can see the logic in what she's saying. But something inside me is just screaming that this is wrong. Even if it isn't mine. Even though that would kill me. Even though I feel like I'm slowly dying right now just knowing there's a chance.
"We could give it to her. Maybe she'd be better off without that point of reference. She'd be totally new and fresh, without those expectations and needs."
"I don't know, Alex. I don't know. I just...don't know."
"Well, think about it. Please."
"I will. I will think about it. But right now, Alex, right now I need to know about something else."
She kneels in front of me and puts her hands on my thighs, looks up at me with a wide-eyed, pleading expression.
"I need to know that I have your forgiveness, Alex. Or that you will be able to forgive me in time, if not now. I need to know that you want to try."
Forgiveness. You are so good at that, Dana. I am not. I am not good at forgiving or forgetting. And right now...right now the images are assailing my mind, twisting and turning like some surrealistic, pornographic slide show. How am I supposed to touch her again without seeing this crap? How am I supposed to give her what she has given me so easily? How am I supposed to look at her and not hurt?
I want to forgive you, Dana. Please tell me how.
"Do you still love him, Dana?"
The question is simple enough, but the answer is the most complex thing in the world. It's not what I expected him to ask. None of this is turning out the way I expected it to.
I expected anger. Fury. Smashing plates and yelling and tossing me out of his room and his life forever. I didn't think he'd actually hit me, but I expected him to want to.
I suppose I should have known better. That would have been a standard response, and Alex is anything but standard. He only lashes out in that manner when his wounds are superficial. When they cut as deep as the things I've just told him, he retreats into himself almost completely. The more he hurts, the calmer he appears. But I know him. I know that under that relatively placid surface, there is a storm churning. And the way I answer this question could send him over the edge.
But I have to tell him the truth. Especially now. There's no other choice.
"Yes, I do. I always will."
He flinches as if I'd struck him, which I suppose I might as well have. Tentatively, I touch his cheek with the tips of my fingers. His skin is icy cold.
"I love Mulder, Alex, but you are the reason I get out of bed in the morning. You are the one who gives me the strength, the reason to keep going in this world."
He inhales sharply and belatedly pulls back from my touch. His eyes shine and burn as he stares at me, searching for the truth in me.
"Do you regret what you've done?" he asks coolly, after a long pause.
Again, there is no right answer to this question. And the accusatory nature of it startles me. I suppose it's a good sign in a twisted way. At least he's not blaming Mulder entirely anymore. Acceptance is the first step towards forgiveness.
"I regret hurting you, Alex. That's not something I ever wanted to do. But I...I can't say that I'm sorry it happened. It was closure we both needed. And it helped me to realize how much I need to be with you now."
"You needed to fuck someone else to realize you love me? Is that what you're saying?"
"No, that's not..."
Oh, how can I do this? How can I explain this when I don't even understand it myself? Is it as simple as what he's just said? No. I realized I loved him a very long time ago.
"It helped me close a door that had been left open for far too long. It freed me, not to love you, Alex. I loved you already, but it let me give that love to you. It let me give you my heart. Completely."
I reach down for his hand, which is clenched into a fist on his thigh. I lift it and place it on my chest.
"Alex, you are the one living here, in my heart. Every minute of every day."
His fingers slowly uncurl and his palm flattens against me. His eyes are swimming with tears, and I find my own filling in response.
"I love you, Alex. I need you," I manage around the lump in my throat. "You are my choice. Not even my choice. There is no choice. You're it for me. The only one I...the only one."
He nods and gives my hand a squeeze before pulling back and wiping at his eyes.
"I need...I need to go," he mumbles.
"Go? What, what does that mean?"
"It means I need to go. I just..."
He stands up, knocking the chair backward in his sudden desperation to get away from me.
"Are you going to come back?"
He grabs his coat from the back of the couch and pulls it on, getting halfway to the door before he turns back to look at me. I'm still kneeling on the floor, staring at his prone and abandoned chair.
"I'll be back. I'll be back tonight. I just need to be...I need to be away. For a little while."
"Please know that I love you, Alex. And that I'm sorry. Please remember that."
"I know," he says and walks out the door.
Running away again. But this time, I don't begrudge him his need for distance. I understand it. I almost welcome it. All that I can do now is wait for him to return to me. And hope that he doesn't decide he'd rather not.
I didn't feel Alex settling into bed next to me until the first gray light of dawn crept through our window. It had to have been five-thirty at the earliest. He'd been gone almost nine hours.
He kept his boxers and T-shirt on, but at least he took off his pants. A small sign of intimacy was better than none. And the fact that he'd come home at all was a good sign in itself.
I wondered where he'd gone and what had been running through his mind all this time. I wanted to talk to him, to hold him, to know that we were all right. But as soon as I said his name he told me there was nothing more to say. He said that more than anything, he needed to sleep. So I let him.
I watched him for a few hours, found myself almost hypnotized by the rapid movements of his eyes under their lids. I tried to imagine his dreams.
I must have dozed off at some point because I started awake at about nine o'clock to find the bed empty again. I panicked, thinking that perhaps I'd only dreamt his return. But after a moment I heard him moving around in the other room.
I pulled on my robe and went to attempt another conversation. I found him fully dressed and putting on his coat again.
"Where are you going?"
"Work," he replied, then added, "I suggest you do the same."
"Alex, we..." I started, but couldn't manage to finish.
"I need some time, Dana. I'm sorry."
Then he was gone again.
So, I've done the only thing I could think of. Put on some clothes and gotten ready for work. Trying to keep some kind of normalcy in our lives, some kind of routine, seems like a good idea. But as I carry out my morning rituals, every motion brings me close to tears. Hormones. And missing him.
Time, he says. He needs some time. How much time will be enough, I wonder. How long will it be before he can look into my eyes and not feel betrayed? How long will it be before he can touch me?
He needs to feel loved and wanted so badly. It breaks my heart sometimes to think of how fragile he really is inside despite his almost frighteningly cold exterior. If we could get past this and be free finally, able to just love each other and just...just be, it could be so good. So right. If I've ruined our chance for that I'll never be able to forgive myself.
I'd do anything for it.
I need to get out of here.
I finish up what I need to do quickly and hurry off to the lab. It's only when I've gotten halfway across campus that I realize there's no escape from my demons. Mulder will surely be at the lab, and I'm going to have to tell him about this. If not the pregnancy, certainly he needs to know that I've told Alex about us. For his own safety if nothing else. That is not a conversation I'm looking forward to.
When I get to the lab, Roseanne and Mulder are both there. As soon as I walk in, though, Roseanne picks up the pile of papers she was looking at and brushes past me and out the door. She mutters something about the library or the infirmary. I can't really understand because she's speaking so quietly. I don't really care enough to listen carefully. I'm too distracted.
Once she's gone, I know it's time. There's no point putting it off or dancing around it. Before he can even say hello, I tell Mulder, "Sit down. We need to talk."
"I need to tell you something."
His eyes swim with panic.
"Is this about yesterday? About you getting sick?"
"No. Not...well, yes but..."
"Scully? Why did you get sick?"
"It's nothing, Mulder. I'm fine. But I..."
"No, Scully, what is it? It's not the treatment is it? Is something going wrong?"
"No. Nothing's wrong. I..."
I can't do this. I can't look him in the eye and keep this a secret. I thought I could, but I don't think I realized what it would be like, how unfair it would seem in person. It could be his. It's just not right to keep it from him. I can't do it anymore. No more secrets.
"I'm pregnant," I tell him simply.
He stares blankly at me for a second or two and then laughs. Like I'm telling him a goddamn joke.
"No, really, Scully. What's going on?"
I don't say anything more. I guess I don't need to. The look on my face must be telling him everything he needs to know because eventually his jaw goes slack and his eyes get large and confused. I can almost see the hamster in his brain turning its wheel over and over.
"It appears to have restored my fertility."
There's a long silence. I feel decidedly uncomfortable waiting for a response, any response. All he seems capable of is more befuddled staring.
"Surprise," I mutter, more to fill the dead air than anything else.
I can practically hear the unspoken questions coming out of his half-open mouth. How? Why? When? What the hell are you talking about?
"Wow," he finally manages. "That's...that's something. Um, con-congratulations. That's great. Really."
Oh, Mulder. Nice try. Really. I know it's what he thinks I want to hear, so I try to at least smile.
"No, Mulder. It's not...it's not great."
"No, no, it is. Scully, this is great news. That means that all the women who've gotten the treatment can conceive. When are you going to tell them?"
His horizons have suddenly broadened beyond what this means for him and for me, and now he's smiling. Almost beaming.
"I don't know yet. Mulder, listen. I need you to listen to me for a minute."
His look shifts back to one of concern, and he sits down in front of me.
"What is it, Scully? Is there a problem with the pregnancy? You're all right aren't you?"
"I'm okay, yes. Physically it's been normal so far. There is a problem though. With the pregnancy. Specifically with the...the parentage."
Another visible lightbulb goes on over his head.
"Parentage as in paternity?"
"Yes. As in, I don't know it."
He nods, long and slow. I look for signs of judgment or anger in his eyes, but there are none. I see a little bit of excitement, though. Happiness even. He wants me to have it. He wants it to be his. I can sense it. I can hear it in the deep, sharp breaths he's taking.
"Yes. That's partially why I'm telling you. I'd steer clear of him for a while if I were you."
"No, Scully, I'm not worried about that. Are you...God, what are you gonna do?"
"The only thing I can do."
"And that is?"
"Mulder, I can't bring a child into this world. What kind of life would I be able to give it?"
He laughs again, which is just about the last reaction in the world I would have expected from him. He seems to have recovered from his shock relatively quickly. Everybody's full of surprises today.
"Scully, come on. You think this is any worse than the time before? If anything, it's better."
"Better? You think this is *better*?"
"People here are forced to live and work in a more community-minded way. It's the only way to survive. I think that's better than the way things were before."
"But, Mulder, we don't even know if we're going to have enough to eat at the end of this month. We don't know that a troop of alien invaders isn't going to come and torch the place tomorrow!"
"No, we don't. Were our lives ever really secure, though? I mean, hell, this whole thing was coming all along and we knew it and we still carried on with our lives as best we could."
He raises an eyebrow at me, silently daring me to explain exactly how this is so different. Before I can form a response, he's launched into a random anecdote.
"Scully, do you remember who Martin Luther was?"
"Yes, of course I remember who Martin Luther was. How is that germane?"
"Well, he had a nursery. Of trees, you know? People used to ask him what he'd do if he knew the world was going to end tomorrow. He'd tell them he'd go out and plant a tree."
"I'm not a Lutheran."
"Still, pretty wise way of looking at things if you ask me."
Did anyone ask you, Mulder? God, what is it with him anyway? How can he be so damn calm? So reasonable. Isn't he seething inside?
"Listen, Scully, I can't tell you what to do. You should do whatever you think is right. Whatever feels right to you. All I can say is that I'd hate to see you make this decision based on fear."
"I never wanted to have a child, Mulder."
"You didn't? What about...Emily?"
"Emily wasn't my choice."
"But you loved her."
"I loved her enough to let her go. Because she wasn't meant to be."
"And you think this child wasn't meant to be?"
"I don't...I don't know."
I can't do this anymore. I can't turn this personal, private decision into a Mulder and Scully battle of wits. I can't calmly debate the pros and cons when my insides are screaming. If I have to talk about this with one more person, I'm sure my brain will explode.
"Scully, you're thinking too much," he decides to tell me now. Well, I wasn't before.
"Don't you think this is a decision that requires thought?"
"Yes, but you're thinking yourself into a cloud. Why don't you go get your dog and take a nice, long walk. Clear your head. It'll make it easier to listen to your heart."
Despite the Hallmark card mentality of that statement, he might have a point. I suppose a walk couldn't hurt.
He stands up and pulls me into an unexpected embrace after I put on my coat. I hug him briefly and pull back quickly, startled by my own reaction to the simplest display of affection. I feel like I'm going to cry again. Damn hormones.
When we face each other again, there is no awkwardness. I'm glad for that much.
"Scully, you know, you know I'll support you no matter what you do, right?"
"Yes, I know. Thank you."
"And you know I love you, right?"
"I know, Mulder. I love you too."
He smiles warmly at me, and I realize that there's something else he should know. Something important.
"Mulder, I want to tell you that if circumstances were...not what they are, I'd be honored to have a child with you."
That earns me a full-fledged grin and a peck on the cheek. But behind that grin, in his eyes, I see something else. Something I think he's trying to hide from me. Perhaps he isn't as calm as he seems. Surely this must be causing him pain. Confusion, at least. Or...something. God, he must be feeling something. It's obvious he doesn't want me to terminate, but there must be more going on inside him. I wish he'd share it with me, but I know he won't. He doesn't want to add to my burden. He doesn't feel that it's his place anymore. I think I'm starting to understand how it's going to be between us.
"Take care of yourself, Scully," he says as I'm walking out the door.
Once I'm outside, by myself, I realize that things are not as clear as they seemed just a few short hours ago. Before I told anyone about this, I was sure. I didn't think there was even a decision to make. Now I'm not sure that I was ever sure in the first place.
Once upon a time Scully told me that she yearned for a normal life, that sometimes she wondered what it would be like to settle down, start a family. I think it was just a passing thought for her, though. I think I'm the one who wanted that, deep down inside. What else was my entire life's work about, after all? I wasn't looking for the holy grail. I was looking for my sister, for a family.
What I might not have realized at the time was that I'd found a family in Scully. Found and lost. Now she's getting her normal life, as abnormal as everything else around her has become. The first time she said that, I'd hoped she was talking about us, about settling down with me. Maybe she was, but it doesn't matter now. She's found her domestic bliss with someone else.
I was wrong about Scully. She's not really a different woman than she used to be. She's still the person I fell in love with in all the ways that count, the ways that made her Scully. She'll always be strong, brave, stubborn, infuriatingly logical. The differences come from the experiences she's had without me and in who she's come to love. Changed, yes, but still Scully. She's just not my Scully anymore.
Not my Scully, but very possibly carrying my child.
The cool external calm I managed to maintain when she told me this life-altering news was for my own sake as well as hers. I wanted to be strong, supportive for her, but more than that I feared that if I were to let myself react immediately, instinctually, I would've been reduced to a pile of blubbering, begging mush. There's no way that could have been good for anyone. It certainly wouldn't have convinced her to have this baby. Who wants their child to have an emotional basket case for a father?
Anyway, I wasn't sure what I was feeling. Even now, almost two hours later, I'm still uncertain. I know that my stomach is in upheaval, that I can't enjoy the tasteless mush masquerading as lunch this afternoon even though I was starving when I woke up this morning. All I can seem to do is push the brown and green piles around on the plate and stare out the window of the cafeteria like a disconsolate mental patient.
It's strange to think how circumstances will alter the way an event is viewed, the impact it will have. There was a time when the thought of getting Scully pregnant was about as close to heaven as I dared to dream. In fact, most of the time I wouldn't dare. It seemed not only impossible, but grossly impractical. Had it happened, though, I would have been elated.
Now our situation is altered so drastically that parenting Scully's child is an infidelity, a bastardization of a dream. It should make me want it less. It should, but it doesn't.
A few months ago, I sat in this same spot wondering about my karass- this group of people assembled around me, inextricably connected to me- and what the purpose could possibly be for our connection. Is this it? Is this why we're here? To bring this life into the world?
God, I shouldn't want this. But I do. I really do. As painful as it might be to see her have a child with another man, or to raise my child with him, leaving me as some sort of post-apocalyptic weekend dad, I still want it.
I'm not a fool. I know that no matter who the biological parents are, if Scully has this baby it will be *their* baby. Yes, if it's mine she will certainly let me be a part of its life, but I know that they're going to have their little family and that I'll always be an outsider. As upsetting as that may be, it doesn't change the fact that I want to see her bringing new life into this dying world. I want another fresh, innocent soul to become part of my karass.
I used to think I'd be a terrible father. Emotionally damaged, impulsive, self-obsessed in the extreme, not to even mention my shady and questionable family background. It seemed wrong, unfair to bring a child into *my* world.
I told Scully that it was a better time to have a child now. I wasn't just talking about our environment. I like to think that I still have my drive, my intensity, my will to seek out justice and truth, but more than that, I'd like to survive. I'd like to see the human race grow and thrive, rather than wither and die, even though I'm no longer a part of it.
Perhaps if we come out of this alive, all of us, the world will be a better place. Maybe we'll have learned something. Or maybe not. Who really knows? The most important thing for me is that I feel more equipped, more prepared to be a father now than I ever have in my life.
I don't just hope that she has it. I hope that it's mine. Maybe I'm even more selfish than I used to be. I know it would be more difficult for her if it were mine. But I've got so much of myself to give now, so much love going to waste.
It is her decision, though. I've given her my perspective. There's nothing more I can do now, so it's best to just put it out of my head. Best, but probably not possible. Kind of like eating. I give up.
Outside the cafeteria, in the quad, people are sitting on benches, playing with makeshift Frisbees, lying on blankets in the grass, catching a few rays of a rarely seen sun. It is a beautiful day, and the problems plaguing us seem to have been temporarily forgotten in favor of a little fun and frolic.
I wish I could forget. I'd like to frolic.
Maybe one game of Frisbee, to get my mind somewhere else.
Just as I'm beginning to seriously contemplate it, I see him. He's easy to spot in this sea of frivolity. Dressed in black, as always, looking even more sullen than usual, he's headed right for me. For a minute everything and everyone else seems to disappear. Showdown at the O.K. Corral.
I hear Scully talking to me.
//Does he know?
Yes, that's partially why I'm telling you. I'd steer clear of him for awhile if I were you.
No, I'm not worried about that.//
And I'm not. I tried not to take offense at the fact that she thought I'd be afraid of him, that she seemed to think I should be. I never have been before and I see no reason to turn into a coward now.
I have to give him some credit for taking the direct approach. I expected arsenic in my lunch or a prick with a poison pen. Some kind of tricky, nefarious, underhanded response. Something typical of Alex Krycek. I didn't think he'd just come up to me in the light of day and instigate some kind of confrontation. It's actually almost a relief.
He's looking for a reason to hit me. Any reason at all. I can see it in his eyes, in his stance once he's just a few feet away from me. No use putting it off.
"Potatoes are kinda runny today," I tell him, pretending he's headed for the cafeteria when I know that he's here for me. Nothing else, no matter what he might have told himself. I know it because that simple comment is all it takes.
The first punch is a direct hit to the jaw and it sends me reeling backwards with its surprising intensity. I didn't expect him to hit me that hard right away. Or at all, honestly. I expected a little tussle, a fistfight, not a goddamn death match.
"Fucking lying BASTARD!" he hollers, pushing me against the brick wall of the cafeteria.
The next few moments pass in a blur, a flurry of flying fists and the black of my spurting blood blinding my eyes. He hits me with his fake arm and I register somewhere in the back of my head that it packs more of a wallop than his real one. Damn thing must be made of lead. I used to think we'd be an even match if he had both his arms. Now I know the loss is actually his advantage.
I hear him saying things to me, shouting words like "liar," "bastard," "hate." Liar. Over and over again. What the hell is he talking about? That damn truce? Or something else entirely?
This goes back farther, deeper than what's happened with Scully. He does hate me, resent me, probably more than anyone else in the world. For more reasons that I ever realized. His arm, all the time he spent "living with the rats," his whole damn pathetic life, all the problems he's ever had can be traced back to the day he met me, whether or not any of it was actually my fault. It was my fault for being my me to his him. That's how he sees it, and I feel it in every blow he delivers.
Angry, I register through the haze of pain and confusion. He's angry. But more than that, sad. I could swear he looks about ready to cry. Disappointed, betrayed, horrified by his own emotions. And he should be. Alex Krycek's emotions are horrifying. The way he handles them is even worse.
I don't start to fight back until I realize he's probably going to kill me.
When I regain consciousness, I'm in an unfamiliar place. A bed, but not my room and not the infirmary. There's a black lacy shawl hanging over the window next to me, causing the light to come through in a strange way, creating dancing patterns on the opposite wall. It smells like honeysuckle. I have no idea how I got here.
I close my eyes again, convinced that this is a dream, or the waiting room to get into heaven. Then I feel a cool softness on my forehead. Could it be an angel kissing me?
It's not. It's a washcloth. It's Roseanne cleaning my wounds.
"Don't try to get up," she orders, pushing gently at my chest. Was I trying to get up? God, I'm so confused. I wonder if I've got a concussion.
When I talk I feel like I've got marbles in my mouth.
"You got your ass kicked," she informs me helpfully.
"No, after that. I...OW!"
Goddammit! What is she doing to me? This is worse than the initial beating.
"Sorry, I've gotta clean out these cuts or you'll get infections."
She's got a bottle in her hand, filled with some noxious fluid that she keeps pouring onto my flesh, right on the spots that hurt the most.
I reach up to scratch an irritating itch on my forehead. She grabs my hand before I can get there.
"Don't scratch at your stitches."
Stitches? Jesus Christ.
"Shh, stop talking. You're in my room. I'm fixing you up. You're gonna be fine."
"How did it end?" I finally manage to get out.
"I broke it up."
"Yes, I did. I stepped between you. You were already on the ground so it wasn't hard. All I had to do was remind him the entire place was watching and he stopped."
Why hadn't I thought of that? God knows he wouldn't want Scully finding out about this. Never mind the fact that it will diminish his authority even more for everyone to see him lose control like that.
Bastard went completely apeshit on me. After all those years, all those fights, I never thought he had it in him. Not like that, hand to hand, man to man.
I guess it's not surprising that he's capable, but God, who'd have thought the son of a bitch would fight like that?
"I would've," she answers. Did I say that out loud? "Anyone who fucks like that is bound to fight with the same intensity."
I'd throw up if I had the energy. A wave of nausea rolls through my stomach and my eyes slip shut again.
I dream of being fucked by Alex Krycek and giving birth to twelve little babies that look exactly like him.
He sleeps for almost four hours. I could leave him. He'd be safe. I know the way his body works. The conversion has left him with a much heartier constitution than your average human man. He sleeps to heal, to rejuvenate. Once he wakes up, his cuts will be scabbed over, his head will feel better, his bones will be repaired. It's really quite remarkable.
Yes, I could leave him, but I don't. I stay and watch him resting peacefully between my sheets, enjoying his company even in slumber.
I probably shouldn't have said what I did about Alex. I forget sometimes what it's like for people when they're in love. I forget sometimes that he loves her.
I used to wish that I could feel that, but seeing what it's done to him, to her, even to Alex, it makes me feel grateful that I've been spared. Still, sometimes when I look at Mulder, I wonder.
When he wakes up, it's dark outside. I've got my reading lamp on and I'm sitting at my desk, trying to concentrate on the ten-year-old copy of the New York Times spread out in front of me. Alex never understood my interest in the library's archive of old magazines and newspapers. "Ancient history," he'd grumble when he'd see me reading. Well, I like history. I don't have any way of learning about mine, so I take what I can get and learn about theirs.
Tonight though, as I said, I've been watching Mulder. I haven't been able to muster up any curiosity about the election of the second to last president of the United States. I know it was Clinton anyway. I'm not totally ignorant.
His eyes flutter open during one of my particularly long staring bouts and he smiles and croaks out a request for water. I hand him the glass sitting next to the lamp. It's full, waiting for him.
"Better?" I ask once he's swallowed the entire contents down. He smiles with clear and lively eyes. He licks some droplets of moisture from his lips.
"Compared to what?"
I laugh and he looks startled at the sound. I guess people don't laugh much anymore.
"What time is it?" he asks, sitting up with no noticeable difficulty. His stitches look ready to come out already.
"Probably about seven."
He nods, looking relieved to hear that he hasn't been sleeping for days.
I walk over to the bed and sit beside him, check his bandages and stitches. Everything seems to be healing nicely, just as I thought. I probably don't need to be playing nursemaid anymore, but it's nice to sit here in the near-dark touching his face.
Once I'm done with the lingering examination I stop touching him, but I don't move away and neither does he.
There's so much I want to know. Why didn't he fight back? Does he think he deserved what Alex did to him? Did he deserve it? How does he feel about Dana's pregnancy? Does he even know? What's it like to be in love?
"So...what happened?" It's the only way I can ask him anything without giving anything away. I wish I could just know that she told him, but who ever knows with her?
"Well, you said it yourself. I got my ass kicked."
"Yeah, but why? What did you say to him?"
"Say?" he laughs. "It doesn't matter what I said, Roseanne. I didn't need to say anything."
"So he just started beating the crap out of you randomly?"
He scratches his head and looks towards the ceiling.
"N-no, not randomly exactly. There were a lot of reasons. But the main catalyst was the um...Scully's..."
"Pregnancy?" I finish, putting him out of his misery. He looks relieved and that relieves me. He knows already. He was just wondering if I did.
"Yes, the pregnancy. And the...um, circumstances surrounding it."
"You mean the fact that you had sex with Dana?"
His eyes widen in surprise at my frankness. I'm not sure why. We both know what happened. Why dance around it?
"Y-yes, there's that. And the fact that I sort of lied about it."
"Well, I more or less told him it wasn't going to happen, and then it did."
"But if you didn't know it was going to happen, how is that a lie?"
"I didn't know, but I wanted to and I knew that and I didn't care that I was telling him something different because I just hated him."
Well, that still doesn't qualify as a lie in my book, but I guess it wasn't very nice. I can see how he'd feel bad about it. I can't see how it's justification for what Alex did though. Then again, I've never been able to understand the violence people inflict upon each other on a daily basis.
"This wasn't your fault, Mulder."
"I know that," he nods. I wonder if he really does, though. I suppose there's nothing more I can say to convince him.
He runs his fingers through his hair, takes another drink of water, scratches at his stitches and this time I don't stop him. I'm just hoping he doesn't decide he's well enough to leave yet.
"So, um...you and Krycek?" he asks after a lengthy pause in the conversation. Me and Krycek what?
Oh. I guess he's referring to the idiotic comment I made before. Why does he care about that? Why would anyone care about that?
"Oh...yeah. For awhile there we were fucking like bunnies."
He laughs a little nervously, turning an adorable shade of pink. Have I embarrassed him? God, he's so different. Different from any man I've ever known.
"When, um, when was this?"
Shit, I can't even remember it was so long ago. There were so many others, before and after. If I told him how many he'd probably be embarrassed for me.
"A long time ago," I settle on. "Before he even brought Dana here."
"So it wasn't when they were together then?"
What is he on drugs? If so, I wish he'd share them with me.
"God, no. I don't think he's been with anyone else since the day she came here. He was committed to her before they even got together. I really think if it hadn't been for him she would have...I don't even know what."
"She told me he saved her. That's a lot for her to say."
"Yeah, he really did. She was in a bad way. He used to tell me about it sometimes, ask me for advice about how to handle it, which was weird in itself. He'd never asked for my help with anything before. But then when Bryan told me he saw Alex combing her hair...well I knew he'd really fallen for her hard. I thought, Alex Krycek? Combing someone's hair?"
Oh shit. I'm doing it again. He doesn't wanna hear about this stupid stuff. Why can't I just shut up already?
"I...I'm sorry. I shouldn't talk about this stuff. I'm sorry."
He waves his hand across his face and shakes his head.
"No, no. It's okay. It really is."
He really does look okay. Thank God. Still, this probably isn't the best topic for future discussion with him. How much of a moron am I anyway? He's finally having a real conversation with me and I keep dumping this crap on him.
"So what...what about you?" he asks.
"What about me?"
"Um, nothing really. I was just wondering...if you were um...."
"What? Do I long for him? Lie awake nights wondering why her and not me?"
"Well, I wouldn't put it that way but..."
He trails off and I just laugh. I guess it's an understandable question coming from someone who doesn't know me all that well, someone who wasn't here at the time. Still, it makes me laugh.
"No. It was just sex, Mulder. I didn't love him. He didn't even like me."
"Oh, I see."
I can't tell if he's disappointed or relieved that I'm not torn apart by jealousy and bitterness. I think he's glad, but it's so hard to tell with his deadpan expression.
"Do you...um, do you feel things like that?" he asks carefully.
"Like what? Jealousy?"
Or are you talking about love, Mulder?
"Yeah," he nods. "Jealousy, anger, those kind of things."
"Sometimes I do. I didn't used to, but I think I've learned them."
"Like Spock," he smiles. I don't know what the hell he's talking about, but I smile and nod anyway.
"Do you think she's gonna have it, Mulder?" I can't resist asking, taking advantage of the fact that he's here, that he's talking.
He ponders the question for a minute, looks out the window and then back at me. I wonder if he wants her to have it, if he wants it to be his. I wonder if he'd like to be a father.
"I'm not really sure. She seemed pretty confused when I talked to her," he says. I suppose confusion is a good sign. At least she's thinking about it.
"But did you get a sense either way from her? Did she seem to be leaning more towards keeping it than she was before?"
"I really don't know, Roseanne. Why are you so concerned about it?"
A very good question. One which I don't have much of an answer for.
"I don't know, Mulder. I honestly have no idea why I care, but I do. I can't stop thinking about it. I just feel like if she doesn't have it..."
What do I think is going to happen if she doesn't have it? Will the world end? Didn't that happen already?
It's so peculiar for me, the entire concept of babies. I haven't been around them much and never having been one myself, they've always seemed almost like little mutants to me. The prospect of having one around should be disconcerting to me if anything. But it's not.
"I dunno, I just want her to have it. I'm afraid to even talk to her about it because I feel so strongly and I'm afraid I'll say the wrong thing."
"Well, I'm sure she'll make the right decision. She always does."
Oh, I'm not so sure about that. Not sure at all.
"Mulder, do you think everything's gonna be all right?"
"I'm scared," I tell him. I don't know why I tell him. I just do. "I've never been scared in my entire existence, but lately I've been really really scared. What do you think is gonna happen to us all?"
"I...I don't know, Roseanne. I wish I had something reassuring to say, but I really don't know what's going to happen anymore."
"I know," I sigh, cursing myself yet again for asking him to give me something impossible. "I'm sorry."
"No, don't be sorry. It's normal to be scared. I'm scared too. We're all scared."
"I've never felt like this before though, Mulder."
"What do you mean?"
He turns towards me, curiosity glimmering in his eyes.
"Do you have a feeling something bad is gonna happen? Some kind of premonition?"
"No, no nothing like that. I just...I guess I just never cared much before. I've always had kind of a blasé attitude about everything, but lately...I dunno, things just seem more real to me."
He startles me by covering my hand with his own, by looking deep into my eyes and smiling softly. My stomach does a crazy flip-flop.
"Maybe you're just becoming more human and less clone. Maybe we're rubbing off on you."
He rubs his palm against my knuckles to emphasize his words. Rubbing off on me. Maybe you are, Mulder. Maybe you are.
I'm a compulsive list-maker. Always have been. In college my dorm room was constantly littered with "To-Do" lists, most of which I never referenced after creating them- which defeated the purpose entirely, but gave me the sense that I was indeed "doing something." When I was deciding whether to go to Quantico I must've gone through ten or twenty reams of paper creating lists of pros and cons. Of course, if I'd known what I was really signing on for the con list would have been considerably longer. After that my life became so complicated that I had to designate notebooks for the different kinds of lists I needed to maintain. I think "Lies I've told Mulder" had its own binder.
When I sat down to write my masterpiece this afternoon, my list of reasons Dana should have this baby, I came to it with a lot of experience under my belt. I was prepared to organize my thoughts into a coherent, convincing, itemized argument that she'd be unable to refute.
I did just that. It's a long list. It's a good list. It might have been enough to convince her had it not been for what I proceeded to do immediately after completing the list.
I hadn't been planning to kill Mulder. I was just hungry. It was fate that I ended up running into him out there. Fate and odds. I was bound to see him sooner or later.
What I did when I saw him was my own choice, free will in action. No matter how out of control I may have felt at the time, I did what I did because I wanted to do it. Because I needed to do it. Because it felt so fucking good. But now I'm going to have to live with the consequences, one of which will surely be Dana's refutation of my entire list with one simple statement: "You're a psychopath."
So now I'm sitting at our kitchen table, trying to figure out how to turn that negative into a positive on my stupid list and failing miserably. If anyone touches baby, father will kill them? Is that a positive?
I hear clicking from the door and watch as, one by one, all the various locks I've had installed recently turn to an unlocked position. Mommy's home.
I look back down at my list, prepared to ignore her for as long as necessary, as long as humanly possible. Surely she knows what happened today. Surely she's heard, and the last thing I need right now is a lecture from her about personal responsibility and keeping control of my emotions in public. Not to mention that whole killing people issue.
She's got her damn dog with her, and as soon as she lets go of his leash he runs over to me and puts his dirty paws on my legs, licks my face and slobbers all over me, putting a damper on my cool routine. I try to ignore it, but the damn thing is persistent.
"Say hello to your dog, please," she tells me, hanging up her coat and the leash.
I pet the revoltingly affectionate dog's head halfheartedly, hoping it'll be enough to placate and get rid of him.
"Did you get anything to eat tonight?" she asks.
"Went to the cafeteria a couple hours ago."
"Oh yeah? I didn't see you there. Must've gone early, huh?"
God, this is the most idiotic conversation that ever was. I can't stand this, can't stand any of it. Now she's washing the damn dishes. I stare at my pointless list until the words blur together. I can't really say any of these things to her.
"How's your head?" She glances over her shoulder at me and I find myself reaching my hand up to cover the bruise reflexively.
"Yeah your head."
She wipes her hands on her pants and sits down at the table. Her fingers run over mine and pull.
"That's quite a bruise you've got there, Slugger. What happened?"
Is she playing dumb or is it real? Maybe she doesn't know. Maybe I should make something up. Something that would make her feel bad for me.
She touches the side of my face, and I flinch.
"Alex, I know what happened. Everyone knows what happened."
Dammit. What the hell is wrong with me anyway? It's not like I couldn't have chosen a more private venue for my outburst.
"It's not like you, Alex."
I have to force myself not to laugh at her. Who the hell does she think I am anyway? Haven't we been through this before? And now she wants to know why. How can she ask me why? Why does she think?
"I don't wanna talk about it."
She removes her hand from my face and slams it onto the table, startling me and the stupid dog who's still lying at my feet panting and drooling.
"No, of course you don't. Why should you bother talking to me when you can just go and take out all your pain on Mulder? Why talk when you can punch? It's much easier that way, isn't it Alex?"
"Go to hell."
I expect the smack, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. At least she slaps the side of my face that isn't bruised already. Now I'll have a matching set.
What I don't expect is for her to stay, to grab my cheeks between her fingers and squeeze my face like I'm an infant she's scolding. I don't expect the fear in her eyes.
"You listen to me and you listen good, Alex. I am more sorry than I could possibly express that I've hurt you, but if you want us to have any sort of chance for a future together you'd better get yourself together and stop acting like a child. I'm going to have a baby, Alex, and I can't afford to have a father who's more immature than his only child."
To say that I didn't expect *that* would be the grossest understatement possible.
"I'm going to bed. If you decide you'd like to speak to me, feel free."
She stands up and walks away. It's an embarrassingly long time before I manage to follow her. She's already curled up fetally under the covers with the lights turned out by the time I make it into the bedroom. I sit down on the side of the bed, trying to make sense of what I'm feeling and what I should be saying to her.
There's so much I could say. I could tell her how she's made me feel unworthy, how I'm afraid to touch her because I won't be able to live up to Mulder's memory. I could tell her how what she's done validates every fear I've ever had about us. I could tell her how much hatred I have in my heart, for Mulder and in general. I could tell her about all the times I sat back and let Mulder beat me to a pulp because it suited my purposes and that maybe he enjoyed it and maybe it was time for him to get a little of that back.
I could ask her if he kissed her better than I do. If she came for him, if he made her cry, if she liked having a circumcised dick in her mouth for a change.
I could, but I don't. Because none of that seems important right now. It all seems, well, a little childish.
"What made you change your mind, Dana?"
She uncurls her body and stretches out on her back. The moonlight coming through the window provides just enough light for me to be able to read her expression. She doesn't really look angry.
"I'm not sure. A lot of things, I suppose."
"Are you, um, are you happy about it?"
"Yes. Yes, I am."
"Are you...are you gonna find out about..."
"Have to wait a month or so for that. I think it's essential that we do an amnio, just to be sure it's all right. Then we can find out. If we want."
Do we want? I wonder. I'd assumed if it came to that it would be entirely her decision. The thought of finding out, now that it's a reality, scares the living shit out of me.
"What about you, Alex? Are you happy?"
Happy. That's a broad term. It's certainly what I wanted. But is it possible for me to say that I am happy right now?
"I...I'm glad. I'm glad you decided to have it."
"But it doesn't make you happy?"
"No, it-it does."
"Are you afraid you're not going to love it if it's his?"
The question knocks the wind out of me almost as much as the gentle tone in which it's asked. How can she talk to me like a lover and ask a question like that, as if that's all she thinks of me? I suppose I haven't given her reason to think otherwise lately.
"Jesus, Dana. Of course not. I...I love her already."
She takes a deep breath and is quiet for awhile. I undress completely and climb into bed beside her.
"I'm sorry, Alex."
"I'm sorry, too."
She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. Then she turns to me and smiles.
"I'm going to have a baby."
She sounds like she can't believe it's real. I'm not sure that it is myself.
"What are you supposed to do with a baby, Dana?"
"Oh, I dunno. Use it for a burglar alarm or a paper weight or something I suppose."
"Oh, a paper weight. I could use one of those."
She laughs and pats her stomach.
"Hear that, baby? Now Mister Krycek won't feel the need to send you away for not being productive."
"That's not what I meant, you know. I just don't know anything about this at all."
"Neither do I, Alex. We'll be all right, though. We'll learn."
Of course we will. Isn't that what I was planning to tell her in the first place? It was on the damn list. That seemed so hypothetical though. Never in my life did I think I'd really be a father. The thought is actually a little alarming. God knows I didn't have the best role models to learn from.
No, that's not entirely true. I did have one.
"Have you thought about names?"
"Names? Alex, it's only been a few days since I found out."
"So? Aren't there names you like? Don't all women have a list of potential baby names?"
She laughs a little bit and turns on her side. I feel her fingers under the covers, touching my chest with a feather-light, tentative stroke. She's asking me if this is okay, if we can move forward finally. It feels okay. It feels good.
"I don't really know if they do. Maybe if there are potential babies."
"What do you think of Eve?"
She doesn't answer me right away, but she does snuggle a little closer. I feel like we're on the same page again, for the first time in a very long time. Yeah, we're pissed at each other, but God, we're gonna have a baby.
"I'm not sure. It's nice. Seems sort of significant."
Oh yeah. Forgot about the Bible.
"I guess. Didn't really think of it that way."
"What made you think of it then?"
"It's the English equivalent of my mother's name."
She stiffens against me, and I hear her take a sharp breath. I guess I never did get around to telling her anything at all about my family, my childhood. It's always seemed so unimportant, so long ago and far away as to be almost non-existent.
It's still not all that important to me, but I really like the name.
"Your...your mother?" she whispers.
"Her name was Evelina. It means life."
"Evelina. That's beautiful, Alex."
I'll never forget the way she looked from the window of that tiny cellar, blood and brain matter oozing from under her thick, black hair, mixing with the snow.
"Tell me about her?"
Okay, this is why I really haven't told her about all this. I don't like talking about it. I don't like remembering, and I don't like telling sob stories unless it's for a very specific purpose, especially if they're true. I don't want her pity. Not for this.
"I...I don't remember much else."
"Both my parents died when I was six years old."
"Oh, Alex. I'm so sorry. How?"
She rests her head on my chest, looks up at me with those clear, trusting, forgiving eyes. I really hope she knows that I'm not telling her this story to make her forget what happened today. I don't know why I'm telling her. I don't know why I even brought it up.
"They were executed. For spying."
"Executed? By the government?"
"By my godfather, the man who ended up raising me. The man I called father for most of my life."
"Oh my...how-how do you know that?"
"Because I saw it happen. I saw him shoot the both of them in the head."
It's actually easier to say this than I thought it would be. It's not something I've told anyone. Not even my godfather knew that I'd seen it happen, and it wasn't something we ever talked about. He never told me that he'd done it, for obvious reasons. I never confronted him because I was scared he'd do the same to me.
"You, you were raised by the man who killed your parents?"
She makes it sound like the worst thing that could ever happen to someone.
"It wasn't so bad. He was a very powerful man. Very rich. I was a lot better off than most kids I knew."
"But, Alex...God, how could you live with that? Live with him?"
I don't really have an answer for that. I just did. Didn't have much of a choice really.
She moves her hand up my chest and cups my cheek in her palm, turning my face towards hers. She's smiling through a teary-eyed grimace, and she kisses me softly.
"That...it explains a lot."
"What do you mean? What does it explain."
I don't understand what she's talking about, and I don't think I want to. I'm not in the mood to be psychoanalyzed.
I wrap my arm around her shoulders and pull her naked body closer to mine. This is what I'm in the mood for. Just this.
"Evelina, huh?" she sighs into my neck. "I like it."
My brother Bill was one of the meanest people I've ever known. In adulthood he matured into a mildly irritating blow-hard, but as a youth- well, let's just say he was the butterfly-wing-pulling, cat-kicking, sister-abusing, teasing, bullying and generally terrorizing type. Basically, a bastard.
Charlie, on the other hand, was a gentle and sweet child who showed an early interest in artistic endeavors and spent more time reading and drawing in his room than he did playing ball and abusing other children. He made up stories about talking to ghosts and flying like a bird. He was the only one who cried when Mister Bubbles, our pet gerbil, died. He was "the sensitive one."
Melissa was "the wild one," running off with some aged hippie in a VW van her senior year of high school, calling my mother to tell her she couldn't come back until our family "worked out its issues." She was the unpredictable one. At least to my parents. I always knew how she'd react to any given situation.
I suppose I was "the sensible one," quiet, stubborn, book-smart, Earth-bound. I had my rebellions, but they went largely unnoticed. They were understated and personal rather than loud and grand, like Melissa's.
I don't think you could find four more different kids if you picked them at random out of a bus terminal. Yet we were all raised by the same parents, in the same household, at the same time. Is birth order really that important? Or is personality more a matter of nature than nurture?
Alex's childhood was bloody, violent and complicated. He is bloody, violent, and complicated.
Mulder's was confused, sad, and guilt-ridden. Mulder is, well, all of those things a lot of the time.
What is the moral of the story?
I don't know. Does every story have to have a goddamn moral? The moral is that I suck at being pregnant.
The moral is that instead of focusing on what I should be focusing on, I'm thinking about the past. This is how I am now. Distracted, irritable, introspective and moody.
This meeting couldn't have fallen at a more inconvenient time. The Brit has been here for a couple of days now, but for some reason he had to choose today to meet with me and Alex. Two hours from now I'm going in for a series of tests which will tell me if my baby is healthy, if this peculiar life growing inside me, making me insane, is human or...other, if he or she will have a complicated or guilt-ridden father to learn from, if he or she is a he or a she. How am I supposed to concentrate?
Introductions seemed odd and perfunctory. Of course I know him already. What am I supposed to say, shaking the hand of the man who'd supposedly died giving Mulder the information that saved my life? Thanks? Does anybody ever *really* die?
When he told me his name was Robert Smith, it reminded me of college, going to see the Cure play in concert when I was supposed to be studying for my entrance exams. Another silent rebellion, I suppose. Guess that particular Robert Smith must be dead now. Or perhaps he was chosen, like Mulder. Being converted would probably offer some great material for an angst-ridden tune or two.
Robert Smith. How ordinary. How extraordinary.
He has a cane now and his wrinkles have deepened and spread. Looks like he's not long for this world. I find it difficult to care.
Once we're all seated, Alex behind the safety of his desk, me right next to the crotchety bastard, what Alex says is that he's sorry.
"I'm sorry about your daughter."
Well, I know that's not true and the old man seems to know it, too. He smirks in that special, British fashion and says, "Yes, I understand that you killed her."
All three of us fall into shocked silence for a moment and I watch Alex, waiting for a response, but of course he has none. Not a visible one anyway. I'm glad we never play poker.
"She betrayed-" Alex starts, but Smith holds up his hand, cutting him off.
He tells Alex that it doesn't matter. "I always knew that it would end that way for the two of you, the way you were."
How were they, I wonder. I sort of know, but not really. I don't know it from Marita's perspective and, for the first time really, I'd sort of like to. More so, though, I wonder how Smith can sit there calmly discussing his daughter's death with her killer. There isn't even a trace of sadness in his demeanor and I find my hand twitching towards my abdomen in response to the coldness. Maybe when you've been a party to as much death as he has, it all starts to blur and even your own children seem disposable.
Will Alex be this kind of father? I can't imagine it, but at the same time I can. I can see him taking the pain and the anger and stuffing it deep down inside where it would fester and grow and eventually kill him, but to never let it show. Especially not to an enemy. Is Smith an enemy? Does he think of Alex as one?
"What do you mean, the way we were?" Alex asks.
"Duplicitous, complicated, never content to stick to one side for very long. She was always very jealous of you, Alex. Because you were so much better at it than she was. Because you were more my son than she was my daughter."
Alex nods, as if this is some sort of answer. It tells me why Marita might have done what she did, but none of it really makes any sense to me. How was Alex like a son to Smith? How was Marita not a daughter? How much of who Marita was had anything to do with either of them? Did she have her own agenda that neither of them could ever guess or understand? Will my child be duplicitous? Would that be a bad thing to be in this world?
I really do not like being pregnant. Sometimes the doubt is so overwhelming that I can barely focus on anything else at all. I wonder if I'll ever be certain that I made the right decision, if I'll ever develop that maternal instinct and stop feeling as though my body is being invaded. It's been almost three months now. Surely I should be feeling more like a mother than I am.
The Marita issue seemingly dealt with, I expect the old man to offer some sort of apology himself, some offer of assistance. That is why he's here after all, isn't it? It's because of him, him and his misbegotten plans, that we've come to be in such a sad state of disarray. But the next thing he tells us is the opposite of what we were hoping for, what we need. He tells us that he can't offer us much of anything at all, that his resources are as depleted as ours.
"The colonists have moved into Phase Three," he explains, looking at Alex- never at me. Alex nods like he knows what "Phase Three" means even though I'm sure that he doesn't. He's never mentioned any Phase Three to me, but that's Alex. Act like you know everything until you do.
"What the hell is Phase Three?" I ask, knowing Alex never will.
It's the first thing I've said since this meeting started and both of them turn towards me with typically understated surprise. Or maybe that's annoyance I see in Alex. Perhaps I've ruined his bluff. I don't care. I want to know exactly what's going on here and why Smith suddenly feels as though he can't help us.
"Phase Three, my dear girl, is the end of the line."
Could this guy be any more pretentious and condescending?
"And what does that mean exactly? What were Phases One and Two?"
"Phase One was contact and preparation. Phase Two, colonization and restructuring. Phase Three, total extermination of the human species and repopulation of the planet by the colonists."
I'm starting to see why Alex didn't want to ask. The twisted pleasure Smith seems to receive in being the one to deliver this news is quite revolting.
The thing I don't understand is how this is news in the first place.
"Total extermination and repopulation seems to have been the plan all along. How is this a change?"
"They've needed our help until this point. The continued existence of a few, select groups of humans was beneficial to them in the initial stages. But now their work is done. The planet is ready for harvesting and they've no use for us any longer."
I don't see how that's significant to us. They kept humans alive as slaves or workers in their drone colonies. Our group has never been any use to them. We've only managed to survive this long because they couldn't find us. Right?
"It's already begun," Smith intones direly. "I know of at least two colonies like this one that have been burnt to the ground, all the people murdered, buildings turned to ash. It's only a matter of time before they come after both our groups."
I've been dreaming about fires lately. Alex thinks it's hormonal. Hormonal or not, his words send a chill through my bones.
"Why did you come here if you can't help us?" I finally decide to ask. If all he wanted to do was frighten us with what may well be unfounded prognostications of doom, then mission accomplished. He can go now.
"I came to warn you of what's to come. And to tell you in person why I cannot be of any further assistance to your group."
"And to gather more bodies. Isn't that right?" Alex interrupts strangely. The two men stare each other down in some sort of inexplicable face off.
"Bodies? Alex, what are you talking about?" I ask, continuing to be more interested in the facts than I am in perpetuating their mind games.
"He's been talking to Laurie and Walker," Alex tells me and then turns to Smith. "Haven't you?"
Laurie and Walker have been attempting to lead what they seem to believe is an underground movement to overthrow the "tyrannical Krycek regime," of which I am apparently a "pampered and indifferent accessory." Or something. Of course, it's extremely difficult for anything to be underground in a community of three hundred. Everyone knows what they're trying to do.
"Talking to them about what?" I ask both of them. Alex is the one who answers me.
"They're leaving with him. Them and their whole group. That's what he's been doing for the past few days. Winning them over, plotting with them."
Alex sounds so calm, so dismissively blasé about it all. Is it another bluff? Sometimes I wish he'd let me in on his game plans.
I look to Smith for a denial, but none is forthcoming.
How could I have missed this happening right under my nose? Did Alex tell me about it and I forgot? Did I notice it myself and forget? Both are frighteningly possible. I've been retaining more water than information lately.
Well, fine. If those people want to go, let them. We're better off without that internal threat.
"How can we know you're telling us the truth?" I ask Smith. "How do we know you're not just trying to frighten us, to run us out so that you can take advantage of our resources?"
The bastard actually laughs, and I'm this close to throwing his decrepit body, cane and all, out the goddamn window.
"What resources?" he asks once he's through chuckling jovially. That just about does it for me, I'm afraid. Hormonal or not, I refuse to sit here and pretend to negotiate with this reprobate any longer.
I stand up, try to keep myself as composed as possible when I tell him, "Get out. If all you came here to do is steal from us and laugh in our faces, then I want you the hell out of here."
"Dana, calm down," I hear Alex say, but it doesn't make any sense to me. I am calm. Aren't I?
But I'm not really. My face is hot and I'm sure it must be red. My chest is constricting. It's probably best to just sit down and let Alex do the talking given my "condition" and the way it's causing me to react right now.
"What about the rebels?" Alex asks once I've taken my seat again. "Why haven't they come after us?"
Smith gives him a mysterious, quasi-ominous look and says, "There are no rebels anymore."
Even Alex can't hide his shock.
"The rebels have been destroyed by the colonists as well. The colonists have always had the power to annihilate them. The rebels served a purpose for a time, just as we humans did, but now their usefulness has run out and they've been eliminated."
Despite the fact that the rebels had become our enemies, the concept of total elimination, genocide, is terrifically frightening. I'd rather spend the rest of my life fighting the rebels than accept that the colonists have that power. If they're capable of wiping an entire race off the face of the Earth, a race so much stronger than ours...
"And we're next," Alex gives voice to my fears.
"It would appear so," the old man nods, and I wonder if he's afraid to die. It seems like he's about due.
"I believe that we'd be more powerful, more likely to survive together than apart," he continues. "The invitation to join my group is open to the both of you as well."
So that's why he's really here. That's what he wants. He wants all of us, not just the malcontents. I'm not sure how to feel about that. It certainly betrays his desperation, which is frightening in itself.
"I thought you said our demise was inevitable," Alex points out. He never actually said that, but it was certainly intimated.
"It's planned. Nothing is inevitable."
Alex opens his mouth to speak, but I shoot him a desperate glance- please, Alex, please don't say anything until we've had a chance to talk about this- and he ends up not saying a word.
"Would you mind if we had some time alone?" I ask Smith.
"Certainly. Take all the time you need. I think we're through here."
He rises slowly, so slowly it's frustrating to watch, and creaks his way towards the door. I fight the urge to help him on his way.
As soon as he's out of sight, Alex is on his feet, pacing. His calm, stoic facade is turned on its head as soon as we're alone, and I'm a little relieved to see that he's as nervous as I am.
"We're not going with him," he announces authoritatively, decisively, immediately. How is he able to make decisions like this so quickly? Impulsively.
"Alex, what if he's right?"
"I don't trust him, I don't believe him, and I'm sure as hell not gonna walk away from everything we've built here because of something *else* he said!"
"We lost hundreds of people the last time I listened to him, Dana. Hundreds."
What about my baby?
The thought pops, unbidden, into my brain. Perhaps those maternal instincts are kicking in after all. Or perhaps I'm just scared out of my mind.
"What if he's telling the truth, Alex?"
"I don't care if he is. I'd rather die here than with him."
"So you think it is inevitable?"
God, what about my baby? What if I've made a horrible mistake?
His pacing is making me nauseous.
"Alex, why don't we go for a walk and talk about this?"
He stops moving and gives me a confused look.
"Do you want to go with him, Dana?"
About damn time he asked. Unfortunately I don't have an answer.
The air outside is chilly. A reminder that winter is approaching quickly, which could either serve to protect or destroy us. If we've conserved enough food and energy, we'll make it, and the snow might keep the invaders away for a time.
We end up at the bench we once sat upon, debating the fate of a Rotweiller puppy. So many years ago that was. Almost another lifetime all over again.
We sit there again today, to talk about another fate. Ours.
"He doesn't have a plan, Dana. He doesn't know what he's doing any more than we do. He's desperate and he's given us no reason to believe we'll be safer with him than we'll be right here. And most importantly, I want us to stay with people we know we can trust rather than run away with the people who've been plotting against me for months."
Alex presents his case well, and it is a convincing one. But there's something he's not taking into account. Something he's forgotten.
"Alex, what about the baby?"
"What about the baby?"
"Well, if there's any chance that we'll be safer with him, that the baby will be safer, don't you think we should go?"
"Dana, I think the baby will be safest with people who care about her. People who don't want to use her as a human shield. Don't you want to raise her here, in our home?"
He takes my hand in his and, looking into his eyes, I think that this is home. He is home. It doesn't matter where we are.
But then I look a little past him, to the trees and the paths and the buildings, to the other benches we've sat upon and the grass we've made love in and I know that he's right.
I remember watching the news, back in the time before, seeing those old, kooky ladies who lived in trailers in places like Florida and rural Texas. Places that would get hit by tornadoes and hurricanes and floods over and over again, and the reporters would ask the women, why are you still here? Why don't you just *move*? The crazy old bitches would say something like, "I've been here since aught six and I ain't goin' nowhere! Tornado or no." I'd watch them from the comfort of my Georgetown duplex and I'd shake my head and laugh a little. Well, right now I know what they meant.
"Alex, do you think I made the right decision? About the baby?"
"You did, Dana."
His sincerity and faith, his absolute certainty and lack of hesitation are a great comfort to me, and I squeeze his hand a little tighter.
"We're gonna be okay, devotchka. Trust me."
"I do, Alex. I'm just..."
"So am I. But I really think we'll be better off here."
He touches my stomach and kisses the side of my neck.
"All of us," he adds, and then kisses me full on the lips. The feel of his mouth on mine causes my breath to catch in my chest, reminds me of the fact that he hasn't touched me in a sexual way for a very long time. Not since I told him about the pregnancy. I'm not sure if it's lingering concerns over Mulder or a misguided fear of harming the baby that's keeping him at a distance, but either way, it's something we need to talk about. Soon.
Or maybe not.
His hand tangles in my hair and he pulls my head closer, fills my mouth with his tongue and this is suddenly very sexual. At least for me.
But just as I'm getting ready to suggest taking this somewhere private, he's pulling away from me, leaving me breathless and flushed and very frustrated.
"The test," he says, panting a little.
"The test. It's time for the test. We've gotta go."
The test. I'd almost forgotten. There's nothing worse than forgetting something you're terrified of and then being suddenly reminded of it.
"Alex, we don't need to hurry. Why don't we finish this first," I suggest, nipping encouragingly at his ear.
"I'd like to get it over with. Wouldn't you?"
Maybe we don't need to do it at all. Maybe it doesn't matter who's baby it is or if it's human or alien. Maybe...
"Come on. We can finish later. I promise," he says, rising to his feet and holding out his hand for me to take. Reluctantly, I pull myself up. He drapes his arm over my shoulders and whispers to me that it's going to be all right. Everything's going to be fine.
I wonder if even he believes that anymore.
There comes a time for every man when he's forced to face the indignity of his life head on, when there can be no posturing, no pretense, when everything conspires to show him once and for all how ridiculous his existence is. I think that Krycek and I have just shared this moment.
The afternoon that led us to this point was long and hellish. Krycek had been with Scully during the tests, but when it came time to analyze the results he was relegated to this makeshift waiting room down the hall from the lab where I'd been sitting, perched on the edge of a full blown anxiety attack, for hours.
I'm not sure why Scully and Roseanne didn't want him in there with them. I know that Roseanne was worried that seeing the two of us in the same room together might upset Scully which is why she gently, but firmly advised me to stay out here throughout the procedure. Once it was done and they were working on the analysis, I suppose they just wanted both of us out of their way, but close enough to find at a moment's notice. Nobody seemed to have any idea how long it would take to find answers.
Whatever the reason, I don't think either of us were pleased to be stuck together in this room where the chairs are tiny, plastic, uncomfortable and numerous, organized in a sloppy circle and the clock on the wall ticks louder than any other clock in existence.
He sat down as far from me as humanly possible, which put him right across from me because of the bizarre configuration of the chairs. This must have been a classroom. I think we're the first people to use it since the students were evacuated.
The staring contest only lasted a few minutes. For the rest of the time we managed to find other points of interest. I watched the clock move from three to four to five. He found a particularly fascinating spot on his shoe. We both shifted and grumbled, too big for our seats. Every so often, a breeze would blow through the open window, rattling the door, and we'd both look up expectantly, hoping to see Roseanne or Scully, praying to be put out of our misery.
I left twice to use the restroom. He only went once.
I thought about a lot of things sitting in this room, waiting. I thought about Scully, wondered how she was feeling, what she was thinking, how she would react if this child turned out to be mine. I resisted the urge to concoct twisted fantasy scenarios, but I did hope that we'd be able to share the experience with joy.
I thought about my own father, my own questionable paternity, and I wondered if he knew, how he felt when he looked at me and saw my mother's deception.
I thought about those movies and television shows from the 50's where the father waits for the mother to give birth, happily passing out cigars and slapping his buddies on the back. What a fucked-up, ass-backwards version of that we were living.
I thought about Roseanne, how she seems to be falling in love with me, or that maybe she's been in love with me forever and I never noticed because I didn't want to. I still don't want to. She's a fascinating woman, unpredictable, open and expressive despite the fact that she was created in a laboratory, and I enjoy her friendship, her companionship. I've been spending a lot of time with her over the past couple of weeks, mostly just talking in her room through the lonely, silent nights, and I've been grateful for that time. I've been trying not to notice the glances and the touches, the sadness in her face whenever I leave her. I don't want her to love me. I don't want her to need things from me that I'm incapable of giving.
I thought about the inevitable passage of time. Sooner or later this had to end. Sooner or later I would be back in my room or in the cafeteria, knowing the answer and looking at something other than Alex Krycek's bored, stony glare. But he wasn't bored. It was an act, an affectation for my benefit, used to cover up the fact that he was feeling exactly what I was feeling. Awkward and frightened.
We spent exactly four hours and thirty-three minutes in this strange, self-imposed hell. I suppose I could have gone out into the hall to wait, but maybe part of me wanted to be punished. Maybe part of him wanted that too.
Our first sign that the news was not good came in the form of Scully's absence. I'd been expecting her to be the one to tell us, but when Roseanne appeared in the doorway, holding a stack of diagrams and charts, she was alone. She was anxious and strained- a woman walking into a den of lions. Her demeanor was the second sign that all was not well.
"Well?" Krycek was the first to speak. He was on his feet as soon as she walked into the room. I remained seated. My knees were shaking too hard to stand.
"Well..." Roseanne paused, looking back and forth between us at least four or five times. "The baby appears to be healthy."
That was a relief, but it was quite obviously not the only news we'd been waiting to hear.
I twisted my fingers together in anticipation and frustration. Krycek was not as patient.
"And?" he prodded nervously. Roseanne took a shaky sigh and fiddled with the papers in her hands.
"And...Dana is healthy and the pregnancy shouldn't be too difficult, but...there's something sort of...unusual."
"Unusual?" I asked.
"Yes, I'm...I'm sort of at a loss as to how to explain it."
She started leafing through her papers, trying to find an explanation I suppose, but looking at them seemed to disturb her more and she ended up dumping the whole pile onto a nearby chair.
"Why don't you start at the beginning," I suggested, remembering the tactics I'd used in the past to pry stories out of the people I would encounter on cases.
Krycek rolled his eyes, seemingly uninterested in the beginning.
"Well, the beginning, um...I suppose the beginning would be when Dana was abducted."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Krycek asked, sounding just a tad defensive.
"From what we've been able to surmise, when she was abducted she was somehow put into a state of 'super-ovulation'. Her eggs were taken from her, and since women can only produce a finite number of eggs in their lifetime, she was left infertile by the procedure. At least, that's what we all thought."
"Well, her getting pregnant seems to have tossed that theory out the window," Krycek interrupted, growing more irritated by the second. As nervous as I was myself, though, I was extremely curious about where Roseanne was going with this.
"So it would seem," she responded, giving Krycek a sideways glance. "When she got pregnant, we assumed that the cancer cure had somehow...somehow cured her of her infertility as well, caused her to create more eggs which were then fertilized by one of you two."
She was looking at me at that moment, which caused my heart to leap ridiculously. For a split second I was certain it was me.
"If that were the case," she continued, "the child's DNA would show characteristics similar to Dana's and similar to...the father's. See, um, every child receives half its genetic material from the biological mother and half from the biological father, so when we do a paternity test, we check the stuff that matches the mother and then compare the rest to the samples from the potential fathers."
Even I couldn't suppress a slight sigh at the impromptu genetics lesson. Was she just avoiding having to tell us the truth? Delaying and prolonging the misery?
"Well, when we tried to do that in this case, we encountered a bit of a problem. The, uh, the thing of it is...this child doesn't...there is no genetic material from Dana. It's...it's from both of you."
It would be a vast understatement to say that this news was shocking. It would be an overstatement to say that it was the strangest thing I'd ever heard.
"Wait, what?" Krycek asked, waving his hand in the air like a referee. "What did you say?"
"I'm not sure how to explain it, Alex. Process of elimination tells us that it's Mulder's physiology that's caused the situation, since he's the one who's been um...altered. The closest I can come to a guess is that when he went through the conversion process, something there effected his sperm and they're acting like eggs in this case."
Even my semen has become an X-File. I guess it was just a matter of time.
"Well, that explains the bloating."
Fortunately, I don't think either of them heard that.
"So, you're saying the child is...that it's..."
Krycek was floundering. I was making stupid jokes. It was an embarrassing scene all around. But somewhere amidst the emasculation and the strangeness, I felt happiness. Elation.
"It appears that the two of you are the child's biological parents. Dana is...well, it's sort of a similar situation to invetrofertilization. She's the mother, but not completely."
"Wait. Just...this, this can't be right. There's no...this is ridiculous. There's no scientific basis for this whatsoever." Krycek appeared to be channeling Scully for a moment there. Except I'd never seen any veins pop out of Scully's forehead. "Why would they do this? It doesn't make any sense!"
"Alex, you can look for yourself," Roseanne offered, reaching for her charts.
"I don't wanna look! Where's Dana?"
"She went for a walk. She wanted to be alone for a little while. Listen, Alex, I know this is bizarre, but it does make a sort of sense. All the women they took, the women they're keeping as slaves now, they're all infertile like Dana. If they wanted to use them as vessels for their children, developing this kind of biology *would* make sense. It's just more of the hybridization projects we've both seen."
"No. That's not....no. I'm not- I won't believe this until I hear it from Dana herself."
Before Roseanne could say "wants to be alone," Krycek was storming out of the room in a huff, leaving me where I am right now, face to face with my own mutation. Forced to recognize how unbelievably ridiculous, twisted, funny and wonderful this life is. And I'm laughing. God help me, I'm actually laughing.
I know that this is an inappropriate response. I can tell that Roseanne is concerned for my sanity. I realize that as soon as the reality of this situation sets in, I won't find a damn thing about it amusing, but right now, in this moment, what else can I do?
I'm going to be a mother.
Into the freaking woods again. Why is it always the woods? Why can't she act like a normal person instead of a fucking Grimm's fairy tale heroine?
Where would a normal person go? Home? A friend's? Her office?
Checked all those places and then some. Woods were the only place left and, of course, that's where she'd go. Where she *always* goes.
I've called her name so many times my throat is raw. Branches have scraped bloody trails down my arm and face. Still- can't stop. Can't stop till I find her.
Where the hell is she?
Why the hell did she have to run away? All she had to do was come in and tell me the truth. Even if it's Mulder, I can live with that. But sending Roseanne in to lie to me- how could she do that? How could she do that to me? Why?
The voice is small and quiet, especially in comparison to my broken hollering, and it comes from behind a tree.
She's crouching on the ground, near a stream, tracing patterns in the dirt with a twig, private and forlorn, and I feel ever the Beast to her Beauty. Even the leaves crackling under my boots seem disruptive and loud.
"Here you are."
I really want to say "Why are you here?" but I already feel like I've interrupted and compounded her sadness.
And she is sad.
I thought that I needed to talk to her, that I couldn't-wouldn't believe what Roseanne said until I heard it from Dana herself. I was angry because she wasn't there to deny it and offer me another answer. But looking at her now I don't have to ask to know that she believes it too.
She must hear the questions in my head, the confusion and the frustration. How can she believe it?
"There's no other explanation, Alex. The baby is human and healthy, but...this baby...it isn't even mine."
Her voice cracks in an almost imperceptible way and something primal and sickening twists deep inside my stomach. I want to hit Mulder again, to keep going this time until he really is dead. I want to make her see what he's done and how he's corrupted our lives so completely, like a particularly nasty virus. All I can do is vomit.
Heaves of revolting, rancid looking stuff spill from my gut and into the stream and when there's nothing left I feel her hand, cool and comforting, on my back.
"Shh, Alex, it's okay. It's okay."
Once I've stopped shuddering she walks me upstream where I haven't fouled the water, and we kneel down together so that I can clean my mouth out. She takes water into her cupped hands and I drink from them.
"It's okay," she says again, but I'm not sure this time if she's speaking to me or herself.
We sit together, leaning on each other and staring at the water without words for a long time. There are a thousand questions and contradictions running through my head, a thousand reasons why this cannot be true, but they fall flat on the journey from my brain to my mouth. It is true. It just is.
"I'm sorry," she finally whispers, dropping her head onto my arm. I don't want her to be sorry. I just want her to make it go away.
"I just don't understand..."
"I don't either, Alex."
It is then that I feel moisture soaking through my sleeve and realize that she's crying. Of course. Of course she's crying. How could I not realize she would?
I tilt her chin up a bit and try to look into her eyes, but they're closed, silent tears trailing down her cheeks and lips.
"Hey, it's...don't cry, baby. Don't cry."
"But it's not...not mine. Still can't have a baby."
God, she must be reliving the discovery of her infertility all over again. This is worse for her than it is for me. I suddenly feel very selfish and stupid and weak.
"It is yours, Dana."
"No, no it's not. How can I...how can I do this, Alex?"
"Do you not want to have it anymore?"
She covers her face with her hands and half nods, half shrugs. I'm surprised that the thought still terrifies me.
"Well you...you don't have to. I mean you could still...but Dana, it is yours."
"How, Alex? How is it mine?"
She opens her eyes finally and the combination of panic and anger and need I see in her forces me to act, to understand and explain how it really is hers.
"It takes more than DNA to make a baby. She's growing inside you, wouldn't even exist without you."
The arguments are forming fresh in my head as I relay them to her. It's all new to me, but it sounds right. It feels right. Maybe it's not the end of the world.
"I'm sorry, Alex," she says again. Perhaps that sounded more like an accusation than I meant it to.
"Don't be. I'm glad she exists. Despite....well, anyway, it's not an entirely bad thing."
She sniffles and laughs a little, wipes her nose with the back of her sleeve.
"Look at me. Look at us, Alex. We're a mess. How the hell are we going to do this?"
"I think we're holding up quite well considering the circumstances."
She laughs again, with a bit more joy this time, and shakes her head.
"I suppose you may be right about that."
I know that I'm right. We're the strongest people I know. Anyone else would have crumbled a long time ago.
"I just can't believe there's going to be this person, this little tiny person who's part you and part Mulder, coming out of me and living in the world."
Another wave of nausea hits me, but I manage to control it this time, push it back down into my gut. It makes me sick, but at the same time it makes me happy. It's a combination I'm getting frighteningly used to.
I want to ask her if they figured out the sex, if I've been right about that, but I'm afraid that I'm wrong and that I'll feel even worse knowing it. A boy with Mulder's genes. What if the baby turned out exactly like him?
"Just another six months," she tells me, taking my hand in hers and placing it on her belly. She is suddenly wistful. I'm glad.
"Is that all?"
"Yep. I'm already starting to get a belly. Feel it?"
"Not really. A little maybe."
She presses my hand more firmly against her skin, her warm, soft, inviting skin, and my muscles clench involuntarily.
"Wonder how big you'll get," I muse, trying to distract myself from the way she feels.
"Bigger than I'd like, I'm sure."
"Some women don't get very big at all."
Somehow I sense that she will not be one of those women, though.
"I'm already bigger than I'd like to be. Though you might enjoy this part..."
She moves our hands up her stomach and onto one of her firm, but substantially larger-than-normal breasts. The nipple is hard and she squeezes my fingers around it and sighs.
"Anything feel different to you?"
Yes. Yes, everything. I can't say that to her though. Not now especially.
She's suddenly crawling on top of me, straddling me in a seemingly random burst of sexual energy. Or maybe it's not so random. I was feeling it too.
"It's...it's gonna get dark soon," I manage to stammer out, knowing what a lame thing that is to say, but unable to think of another excuse.
"Well, we'd better hurry then."
She kisses me with an open passion that startles and touches me so deeply that for a moment, I allow myself to forget, to truly enjoy it for what it is and nothing else. But before too long the images come, like they always do. I end up coughing violently into her mouth.
She pulls back, concerned.
"Are you okay? You're not gonna be sick again, are you?"
"Yeah. No. I mean...I'm fine. We really should get back."
"Why? You got a date?"
She grinds herself against me and I find myself hardening despite all attempts to the contrary. Her hands are everywhere. My face and my chest, my hair. It feels so good, so sweet. Maybe I can do this.
"Come on, baby, I promise not to tell your wife," she whispers jokingly, but the violence in me that her words invoke is not at all amusing.
"Stop it!" I bark, desperate for it to end, for the pain and the sickness to go away.
She pulls back abruptly, afraid and confused. The albatross hangs more heavily than usual around my neck.
"I'm...sorry?" she tries, but it's wrong. She's wrong. She shouldn't be apologizing for this. I shouldn't be making her feel this way, spreading the disease.
I'm the one who's sorry. Sorry and sick and wrong. But telling her why would be the ultimate selfish act. I've got to either end this or give her what she wants, even if it means sinking deeper into this self-imposed hell. For the first time in my life, I honestly have no idea what to do.
Well, what can I say? There are bad days and then there are days that just defy description. Days so bad that there are no words. Days when you find out that there is a very real possibility that little gray men are going to invade and burn your home, killing everything you know and care about. Days when you discover that the child you are carrying is not really yours, but rather belongs to the half-alien, she-male who used to be your partner and the half-crazy, sometimes bastard who is supposed to be your husband or your lover or...or something, but right now won't even kiss you without retching. There are some days you shouldn't even bother getting out of bed for.
"Alex, what is wrong?"
He's been staring blankly past me, towards some distant, unknown spot since his outburst, looking as if he might be trying to figure out for himself what brought it on. I'm not patient enough to wait for him to get it sorted out in his head. I don't want his recycled, twisted around version. It's long past too late for manipulations.
"Alex, tell me. Tell me now. Stop thinking about it."
"It...It's nothing. I'm sorry. We should really get back."
"No. We're not going anywhere until you tell me what's going on with you. You haven't touched me since we found out I was pregnant. I want you to tell me why."
"It doesn't matter. It's not something you should be worried about right now."
In a sense, he's right. Our first priority should be organizing a meeting to convince our remaining population that they'll be making the right choice staying with us. Second should be figuring out exactly why that is the right choice. Third and soon to become first- the baby. We need to begin preparing for the fact that another human being is going to be depending on us for everything in a matter of months. Sex should not be the most prominent thing on my mind right now.
There is work to be done, plans to be made. But I know all too well that when Alex and I are not functioning- fully functioning as a team- we are destined for failure.
Besides, I'm pregnant. It is a widely known fact that pregnant women need lots and lots of sex.
"You're not going to hurt the baby, you know."
"I know that," he nods. "I've been reading baby books from the library."
"You have?" The thought is oddly touching, though I'm certain Doctor Spock doesn't have much insight into our particular situation.
"Yeah, I know all about pregnant women and sex."
The corners of his mouth turn up a bit and he finally looks at me. Good signs, although his eyes are black as frying pans.
"So what is it then?"
"It's just...it's so stupid, Dana. I don't wanna upset you."
"Too late, baby."
Doesn't he understand by now that *nothing* upsets me more than his hiding things from me? Are we the two singlemost communicationally deficient people in the universe?
"All right," he sighs. "But don't say I didn't warn you."
I climb off his lap to give him a little space, but keep my hand on his thigh to stay connected.
"I don't want you to think this has anything to do with trust," he starts and I can't suppress a tiny shudder. Can any conversation that starts this way end well?
"Or even about my feelings for you or my attraction to you or...or anything about you really."
A bizarre thought occurs to me, almost a sense of deja vu, as if I've heard this all before somewhere. Perhaps in a movie. Or a book. About...
No, it couldn't be. Could it? He has been under a great deal of stress lately. Somehow asking seems like a bad idea, but maybe it would make it easier for him to tell me.
"Are you, um...are you having...problems...there?" I ask carefully, glancing briefly, but pointedly in the direction of his crotch.
"What are you talking about?"
Damn. Nice work. I've probably just made things a hundred times worse.
"I'm not impotent if that's what you're thinking!"
"Okay, okay. I just...I'm sorry. Just, just finish. I won't interrupt anymore."
He takes a deep breath and begins tracing patterns in the dirt with the same stick I'd used earlier. And then he starts talking.
"I've just...I have been having some difficulties. In my head. I guess it started when you told me about Mulder."
Of course. This was the only other possibility.
"It's not what you think though. It's not about being angry with you or doubting your feelings for me. It's just that since then, whenever I've tried to imagine you in a...a sexual way, I've been having trouble seeing anything else. Even when I jerk off. I start out trying to think about other things, but it always comes back to that."
Oh God, he's right. It's not what I thought. It's even worse. Anger would be a lot easier to deal with. Anger can be overcome and forgotten. How do you wipe images out of someone's head?
"I'm just afraid that if I make love to you, that's all I'll be seeing when I close my eyes and that I'll just get used to that and you'll just become...that."
"Oh, Alex...I...I'm so sorry."
"It's not your fault. It's my problem."
"No, it's our problem. And I should have known it would be. I was a fool to think it wouldn't bother you this way. That you'd just be able to forgive and forget instantaneously."
And now, with the baby, how will we ever be able to get beyond this with that constant reminder in our path every single day?
"I have forgiven you, Dana. I told you, it's not about that. In a way, it's actually almost a good thing that you did what you did. If you hadn't, we wouldn't be having a child."
I can't help but laugh through my tears. He's got this way of twisting my negative thoughts around and making them positive. Even when he's in his own personal hell.
"Okay, you've forgiven. But you haven't forgotten, Alex."
I squeeze his leg lightly and he covers my hand with his own.
"I want to."
"I'm sure you do."
"I just, I don't know how, Dana."
I don't know how either. I'm relatively sure that there's nothing I can do, though. It does occur to me that the best way to face this might be head-on, but suggesting that seems like the wrong approach. The last thing he needs to feel is pressured.
Why do I suddenly feel like a horny adolescent boy trying to coax his new girlfriend into necking in the backseat?
Because I am horny, dammit. Goddammit all.
Pathetically enough, the thought of this day not ending in sex is bringing tears of frustration to my eyes.
I feel him clasping at my fingers, saying my name, but it all seems suddenly distant. The sound of his voice is muffled by the roar of the ocean in my ears. His touch is muted by the persistent throbbing between my legs, the need for more.
All I want is a little nookie. Why does even that have to be so hellishly difficult for us?
"Devotchka? Are you all right?"
I nod quickly and wipe my face, try to get back to reality and remember where we were in this conversation. Looking into his eyes for a moment is all I need to find some grounding, to see what is truly important.
"I...I'm fine, Alex. I just...I don't know if it's possible for you to forget. If it is, it's going to take some time. Maybe a very long time..."
I pause, stare at our hands, now intertwined, and realize something very important. Something I haven't given much thought to until this point. And it hits me so hard I'm short of breath for a moment.
A little nookie is, in fact, not all that I want. In fact, it might be at the bottom of the list when push comes to shove, despite what my body is saying. Or screaming.
"But, Alex, you could...you could tell me it would take the rest of our lives, and it wouldn't change a thing. It wouldn't matter. I mean, it would. It would make me very sad, very um...frustrated, but it wouldn't make me want this any less."
"Us. Together. A family. I...I can live without the sex if it means living with you, raising this child with you. That's all I want, Alex. It's all I need."
"Are you saying you don't care if we never have sex again?"
"No, no, I care. I want to. But I'd rather live without sex than without you. I guess...I guess what I'm saying is that you are already my life, my everything. Sex is just a nice bit of icing on the cake."
He smiles and wraps his arm around my shoulders, pulls me up against his chest and hugs me so hard that it's almost painful. When he speaks again, his voice is raw and tear soaked.
"I feel the same way, Dana. But, God, I want to have sex with you."
We both laugh in amusement and dismay.
"I'm so sorry, Alex. I wish I could make this go away for you," I whisper into his shirt. "But I can't. You know?"
"I know. I know you can't. That's why I didn't want to tell you in the first place."
"I'm glad you did. At least now I understand."
We pull apart reluctantly. Now it really is getting dark. And very cold. It's time to go.
"Walk me back, captain?"
I stand up and reach out my hand and he takes it, slowly rising to his feet.
Walking back to the camp together, arm in arm, I feel strangely, inappropriately, but truly at peace.
Looks can be deceiving I suppose, but I'd have to say that Dana looks more peaceful right now than I've ever seen her. Even in sleep her face is often haunted, creased and furrowed with the remnants of her waking thoughts, her body curled into itself in a defensive posture. Tonight her cheeks are as rosy and soft as a baby's, a small smile tugs at the corners of her mouth and her limbs are sprawled carelessly across the bed.
I'm tempted to leave her uncovered, to spend the rest of the night staring at her radiant naked flesh in rest, but that flesh is developing a rash of tiny white goose bumps. It's starting to get cold at night again.
I pull the blanket up, tucking the both of us tightly underneath, and curl myself around her. She sighs in her sleep and wraps an arm around my neck.
Yes, there is peace here. It's difficult to understand why, given the day we've just lived through, but I like to think it has something to do with my extensive sexual powers. Or something like that.
It took a relatively short amount of time for me to fully grasp the extent of my assholity. It hit me particularly vividly as we were walking home from the forest, arm in arm.
Most of the time life seems to pass me by in a blur of anticipation. I spend almost all of my time two steps ahead of myself, planning, anticipating, always looking ahead. But at some point during that walk, my internal clock seemed to stop. Or at least slow down a bit. Tomorrow and the next day seemed to disappear and so did yesterday and the day before that. For a few blissful moments, Dana and me and the trees were the only things that existed, the only things that mattered.
It occurred to me that despite everything, I'm a very lucky man. Lucky to still be alive. Lucky to be having a child. Lucky that the woman I love has chosen to be with me, through the good and the not so good. Obsessing over the events of a single night suddenly seemed absurd in the face of all that we've experienced together.
I stopped walking, startled into immobility by my newfound clarity of thought, and Dana looked at me with concern.
"What is it, Alex? Coyote?"
"No, no. I just...this is ridiculous, Dana. I want to be with you. I want to make love to you."
She smiled tightly and nodded, not understanding.
"I know. I'm here whenever you're ready, Alex."
"I'm ready now."
Honestly, I wasn't completely sure of that, but waiting for some elusive "right moment" was starting to seem more and more like sheer idiocy. That moment was never going to come unless I made it come and I'd already been waiting for far too long. Hearing her tell me she'd wait forever made me realize that.
Denying us both would be far more torturous than living with the twisted images for the rest of my life.
"Right now?" she asked. I grabbed the back of her head and pulled her to me for a kiss to show her that yes, I wanted her right now.
Her lips parted immediately for me and when my tongue made sweet contact with the back of her throat, her answering moans made me literally weak in the knees. I was hard almost instantaneously.
And strangely enough, the images didn't come. Keeping my eyes open helped.
"I think I've just been going about this all wrong," I whispered into her ear. "I need a new approach."
"Mmm, sounds interesting. What have you got in mind?"
I pulled back and took her chin in my hand, looked into her eyes for a long moment and once again felt the force of our connection.
"I need to stop closing my eyes and imagining you and just...just open my eyes and look at you, here, with me."
"I am here, Alex. Forever."
I wanted more than anything to just push her up against a nearby tree and bury myself inside her, but we were still in the middle of the woods and with darkness rapidly descending and our lack of a flashlight, urgency had to give way to practicality.
"Race you back," she whispered into my mouth giddily. She was already twenty feet ahead of me before I could ask if that was a good idea. She stayed ahead of me the whole time, but I could hear her laughter trailing back to me so I figured it had to be safe.
By the time I made it back to the room, panting and flushed and wondering if I wasn't in as good shape as I liked to think, she was sitting on the bed, completely naked and breathing just fine.
"How'd you do that?" I asked, wiping profuse sweat from my brow and praying I'd have enough energy left to do anything but collapse.
"Must be those hormones," she smirked.
She looked so beautiful. It was the first time I'd really allowed myself to gaze at her like that, naked and pregnant and glowing, and what little breath I had left, she took away.
She rose to her knees and I pulled her soft, hot body against mine. Whether it was hormones or a simple case of overacting for my benefit, I don't know, but her usual responsiveness to my touch was somehow multiplied. Every kiss and caress elicited excessive moans and squeals of delight, which my mind questioned the authenticity of, but my body reveled in. I tried very hard to turn my mind off.
It worked for awhile. When she started tearing at my clothes, her genuine, unbridled enthusiasm broke through my reservations and reached the part of me that responds to her on a purely instinctual level.
We went at it for a bit, touching, tasting, reacquainting ourselves with sensations long forsaken. I kissed my way down her slightly swollen belly and felt something new. The life force inside of her that shouldn't exist, but does. The tiny person we created through this very act.
It was only when I buried my face between her legs, only when, for the first time since we'd started, I allowed myself to close my eyes, that I remembered we weren't the only ones to create that life.
It seems moronic in retrospect, but then most mental problems do. As soon as I wasn't looking at her, the pictures came back. Worse than ever because I could hear her. Moaning. Suddenly it wasn't me making her feel that, it was Mulder. But it was still her and I was still turned on. Exactly what I'd been afraid of.
I tried looking at her again, but by then it was too late. She was sitting up, her back against the headboard, her lips parted and hands on my scalp, digging, pressing me onwards. She was a sight to behold, that's for certain. The problem was, now her eyes were closed, and the small seed of uncertainty grew to ridiculous proportions inside of me. I started wondering if maybe her thoughts were somewhere else as well.
Reluctantly- and I was reluctant because damn it was nice- I stopped what I was doing, causing her to groan in frustration.
"Alex...God, what is it?" she panted.
"Look at me."
"Open your eyes and look at me."
She did. And I looked back. And it was, to wax pathetically sentimental, absolute magic. Suddenly it wasn't my mind and it wasn't my body. It was only my heart. And my tongue.
We watched each other until she reached the brink of orgasm, at which time she informed me breathlessly, "Need to close eyes now."
As she came, she called my name close to twenty times to make up for it.
By the time she was on top of me, moving in a slow, languid rhythm, it didn't matter that our eyes were open. The last of my insecurity had been vanquished by her sincerity. But I was enjoying watching her watching me. And I think she was enjoying it, too.
It was only a few minutes before she was coming again- an orgasm that shocked us both with its intensity and rapidity.
"Oh, God, pregnant sex is great!" she announced happily when the tremors had passed and then proceeded to ride me harder and faster than I thought humanly possible. I had to agree.
I tried to hold out, but it had been a damn long time since I'd even jerked off and she was too fucking amazing for words. Luckily she got one last explosion in before mine.
When it was over, she rolled off my body and sprawled out beside me, flat on her back.
"That was so...oh, God, Alex, that felt so good."
"Uh-huh," was about all I was capable of as far as a reply.
"My God, it's like everything is just...I just feel everything so...it's just really intense."
"Yeah." Okay, so, I'm not the most eloquent post-coital conversationalist.
"How are you, Alex? Was it...I mean, are you okay?"
"Very. Very okay."
She smiled and kissed me softly and then she fell quickly into a deep and gorgeous sleep. And she sleeps still. I believe that I might be able to join her soon.
The sleep of the damned perhaps, but who are we to complain? We have each other. We have our lives and our love and a child on the way. Everything else is just background noise.
October 22, 2006
Birthday is as foreign a concept as love once was.
It was Mulder's birthday a couple of weeks ago and when he asked me, over a celebratory dinner, the date of my birth, he realized his mistake almost immediately. I wasn't born. I was created, brought to life in a laboratory by unscrupulous scientists on a date no one bothered to record. No, that can't be right. There must have been records, but I was never privy to them.
Mulder found my lack of a birthday inexplicably sad which made me inexplicably happy and so we decided that today, October 22, would be my birthday. He said that would make me a Libra like him, and that it seemed right. I'm still not sure what that means, but it sounded good at the time. Anything that brings us closer is a good thing.
So, today was my day. We were supposed to do whatever I wanted, but all I wanted to do was sit in my room and stare at his face. I guess he thought that wasn't good enough because he took me for a walk in the forest and told me some ghost stories that he claims are true. He couldn't find the proper ingredients for a cake, but he managed to make me a silly paper hat. And then we came back to my room and he gave me you.
You are an old, wire rim notebook with crushed leaves and flowers laminated onto your cover. You are a journal and bear the distinction of being the only birthday gift I've ever received.
Although you are quite beautiful, your existence confused me. I asked him what you were for.
"It's a journal," he said. "It's for you to write down your thoughts and feelings."
I didn't understand why I would want to write those things when I already live with them every day, but he told me it might feel good. And if not, it would be a record.
"Don't you want future generations to know what we've been doing here? All the work you've done and the things you've accomplished?" he asked. History. He wants me to write our history.
Unfortunately, my hope that future generations will exist, let alone read this, is getting slimmer every day.
Dana's pregnancy seems to be going well. There's hope in that. But with everything else that's been happening, it is a small thread to grasp.
So, future generations-if you are out there -let me tell you, you're pretty goddamn lucky.
We lost more people last month. That creepy old man with the British accent, that man who was supposed to "help" us, ended up convincing more than half our population to abandon Alex and join his group. They had to steal two of our trucks just to get them all out of here.
Alex made a plea before they left, tried to convince them that they'd be better off here, with the people they know and have come to love, in the place that's become home. It didn't work. Mass panic is hard to reason with.
So they went, bringing our grand total down to a whopping one hundred and two. Alex lost almost all of his committee heads and most of the committees to boot. We just keep shrinking, never growing.
The people who remain are here for one of two reasons. Either they're like me and Bryan, loyal to Alex for whatever reason, or they've completely given up and figure they're going to die soon either way so they might as well just stay put. The latter group is much larger. Morale is lower than it's ever been. Sometimes even I feel as though there's no point in planning for the future because it might never get here.
The mood is bleak on my birthday, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying it. Thanks to Mulder I now know a little about love and birthdays. I guess that's the only history I have to record today.
Someone stole my shoes today.
I'm not sure if this is what Mulder meant when he talked about recording history, but it seems somehow worth writing about.
I only took them off for a couple of minutes. The water had been turned off for days and I hadn't taken a shower in what seemed like forever. I was standing in the bathroom of my dorm, looking at myself in the mirror and wondering if I'd ever age, if my hair would turn gray as Mulder's has been doing, or if I'd look this way until the day I die.
For some reason I began absently fiddling with the faucet and much to my surprise, water came out. Excited and uncertain as to how long this good fortune would last, I jumped into the shower as quickly as I could.
It was the coldest, shortest shower of my life, and when I got out and dried off and put my clothes back on, my shoes were gone.
Someone stole my fucking shoes. I only have one pair.
Mulder found me a new pair of shoes. Boots actually. I don't know where he got them and I don't want to. I'm afraid if I asked, he'd tell me he stole them from someone else.
That's how it is now.
It's so cold in my room. It's going to start snowing in a month or so, and we only have heat two days out of the week. It's going to be a bad winter. If this keeps up, people are going to start dying soon. Of hypothermia or starvation or just plain misery if the aliens don't get to us first.
I talked to Dana today. She's worried. About everything. She says she's been talking to Alex about the problems, that he's doing the best he can and I know that he is, but sometimes I think that's just not good enough. I know that he needs more help than he's asking for.
She looks good though. Healthy. He's taking care of her, at least.
I wish Mulder was here. He stayed over last night. He brought his blanket and we added it to my pile, huddled under them together, holding each other to keep warm. Well, that's what he was doing anyway. I may have had ulterior motives.
Tonight he is working though. Guard duty. I wonder if he thinks, like I do, that he should be guarding all of us from each other rather than outside invaders.
The nights when he stays with me are the only thing I look forward to anymore.
Today is Thanksgiving. We don't have turkeys here. Only skinny chickens who are half dead even before we eat them. Still, I suppose we have a lot to be thankful for. We are still alive.
I kissed Mulder tonight, after dinner. I don't think I scared him too much. He didn't run away like I thought he might. In fact, he kissed me back. But just a little. And even though he's not working tonight, he isn't staying over.
Sometimes I wish I could talk to someone about him, about the way I feel, but there's no one. The only person who might understand and be able to give me something resembling helpful advice is Dana. I can't talk to Dana. Not about this.
I guess it just makes me angry and I don't want to be angry at Dana. The fact is, she's a big part of the problem, and it doesn't seem fair. How can he still love her? Why? She's already got someone to love her. Why should she have two when I have none?
I asked him once what it was like to be in love, how it made you feel. He said, "It feels wonderful and awful. It feels like that person is the most important thing in the world and you want more than anything for them to be happy. It feels like you'd give anything for just a minute with them."
That's when I knew I was in love with him and that he was still in love with her.
Every now and then I think that maybe he'll be able to love me too. Someday maybe, but not tonight I guess.
Someone got stabbed today. In a fight over a blanket. Too tired and cold to write more.
Tomorrow is the big move. Alex decided it would be best if we all stayed in the same building from now on, to conserve resources. We're supposed to double up in the rooms too if possible. It's a good idea, but I'm afraid it might be too little, too late.
He's trying. He really is, but it's getting so hard, so scary. And he can't devote himself to us fully, the way he once did. Not with Dana seven months pregnant and needing so much of him for herself.
Anyway, Mulder and I are going to be sharing a room from now on. It was his idea, which surprised me but made me very happy. Maybe I'll try to kiss him again sometime soon.
No matter what, I'll feel safer with him near me always.
Christmas was better than expected. Mulder and I decorated the cafeteria and some of the kitchen guys managed to put together a pretty decent meal for a change. There was enough food for everyone and there weren't any fights. It started to snow in the evening, but just a little.
I made a dress to wear. It was white and looked vaguely toga-like, but I think Mulder liked it. I caught him looking at my chest at least twice during dinner.
Dana looked radiant, albeit gigantic. I think she ate more than anyone, but no one complained. I overheard Alex telling her, "My little girl, she ain't so little anymore." I'd be surprised if he didn't get his ass kicked for that later on.
I think Mulder is worried about what's going to happen once the baby is born. I have to admit that I am too, but for different reasons.
He wants to be a father to this child, a real father with full access and responsibility, and while Dana will certainly not have a problem with his involvement, there's bound to be conflict with Alex. I'm not sure if any of them have really talked about how it's all going to work out. Mulder seems concerned. I'm not. I have more faith in Alex than Mulder does, and I honestly believe that in the end he will only want what's best for his child. Besides, Dana can talk him into anything.
What worries me is the situation the baby is going to be born into. Not between the three of them, but in this place, this world. When we found out about the pregnancy, I couldn't believe what she was contemplating. I couldn't understand. I think now I do. I'm scared for this baby, this innocent little life with so much potential. What kind of existence will we all be able to give it? How will we be able to keep it safe when we can barely protect ourselves?
I'm starting to wonder if it might have been better for her to end the pregnancy when she had the chance.
There was a time when I had an implicit trust of leadership. When the fact that someone was "boss" meant that they were right, without question. When I lived with the others, in the time before, the doctors were in charge. They told us what to do, where to go, how to look and behave and speak. We listened because they took care of us, but also because we knew of nothing else. We didn't know of choice.
When colonization began, I watched my sisters sacrificed, one by one, to the cause. I saw them walk willingly into the hands of the colonists because the doctors told them to. I lost my entire family because none of them knew how to say no, how to question the authority of the men who'd created us. Only one thing kept me from meeting the same fate; Alex Krycek.
He saved me, just as surely as he saved Dana, though perhaps for more selfish reasons. He needed me, a scientist, a clone, someone with extensive knowledge of the project. He needed me, and he took me before anyone else could. Soon he became a boss too, but a different kind of boss than the doctors were. He gave me work and he gave me purpose, but he also gave me freedom. Freedom of thought and word and deed. I'm still grateful to him for that which is why this is so damn hard.
Alex is still a leader, and to this day there remains inside me a trace of reluctance to question that. But more than that, I respect him as a person and I understand him. I understand more than anything his inability to ask for help even when he desperately needs it.
He needs it now. Very very badly. And there is hardly a soul left to give it to him.
The sense of fatalism here has grown as the winter has taken hold. Food is being devoured, rations depleted, resources exhausted at an alarming rate. Planning for the future has become a laughable prospect. These people think that they're going to die very very soon. They're probably right.
Alex has done his best, but there is only so much that one man can do.
Tomorrow Mulder and I are going to go to him and demand that he let us help him organize this place. Someone's got to do it and nobody else seems to care enough anymore.
I expected him to be defensive. What we were asking, it's a lot for such a prideful- some would say arrogant- man. What I didn't expect was for my political intervention to turn into a territorial pissing match.
It started out relatively civil. Mulder sat silently, and I told Alex that we were in trouble and that he needed to start delegating responsibility more, building morale. He listened quietly for awhile, his expression blank, and I thought maybe something was getting through. Until he looked down at the papers scattered across his desk and muttered, "I don't have time for this," in his most irritatingly dismissive tone.
That's when Mulder started talking.
"Don't pull that exasperated leader bullshit on us, Krycek," he practically yelled across the desk, rising up out of his chair melodramatically. "This is something you gotta make time for!" It was pretty much downhill from there.
Much ridiculous posturing occurred, and Alex finally brought things to the boiling point when he started talking about "His child" and how that had to be his first priority now. Aside from proving our point quite eloquently, his possessive pronouns incensed Mulder to further heights of irritation.
"It's mine too, you know!" he finally reminded Alex, very loudly. "And let me tell you, if you plan on trying to keep me from this baby, you'll regret it."
I should have anticipated it. In retrospect, it was probably a mistake to bring Mulder along at all. He and Alex need to settle their domestic situation before they can begin to discuss anything else.
The most frustrating thing is, I know Alex doesn't plan on keeping Mulder from the baby. I know that they will be able to work this out, but once he was put on the defensive, Alex wasn't willing to work anything out.
"What do you want, Mulder?" he asked. "You wanna live My Two Post-Apocalyptic Dads? You wanna take my child and my job? Is that it? You guys wanna run this place yourselves? Make all your big plans?"
"Alex, you're not listening," I said, trying to bring the topic back to the real reason we were there. "This isn't some kind of a coup. We just want to help you."
"And I want you to deal with the fact that this child is ours, not yours. Whatever you may think of me personally, you've got no right to..."
"Mulder," I interrupted him, touching his arm gently. "Could you leave us alone for a minute?"
I hope that he wasn't hurt by that, but I could see that nothing was going to be accomplished if he stayed. I think he realized that too, despite his anger and frustration. He must have because he left without a fight.
I apologized to Alex. Not because I was sorry, but because it was the only way to get him to listen to me.
"We need to co-operate here," I told him. "We all need to work together if we're going to make this work. You need to let people in, let people help you. With the work and Dana and the baby. These people need guidance and direction and if you're too busy right now to give it to them, you need to let someone else do it. Nobody wants to take over. Nobody's threatening your position. All we want is to help you."
He sighed, allowing himself to deflate a little in Mulder's absence.
"Dana's the one who deals with the people. She's so good at it. But now..."
"Now she's got to take care of herself and no one else. I know. But Alex, you did this without her once, before she got here. And you did it by surrounding yourself with people who knew how to deal with others, who could motivate and organize them, get them excited about what they were doing. Remember?"
"I didn't have a child to worry about then. I didn't have anything to worry about except staying alive."
"Well, you need to make that a priority again because if you don't, there isn't gonna be anyone around to take care of your child."
He looked stricken enough by that to make it seem an appropriate exit remark, so I got up to leave. Before I made it to the door, I heard him clearing his throat and shuffling some papers around. I paused, waiting for whatever it was he had to say and when it finally came, it felt like progress.
"Roseanne? Can you- can you check on Dana for me? She's gonna be waking up soon and I've got a lot to do here."
I gave him a tiny smile, trying to show him that he was on the right path, and then I went to do as he asked.
I found Mulder at Scully's bedside. She was still sleeping, and it looked like she was in good hands so I left. I guess they've got a lot to talk about.
Well, I have a title. Communications Director. The job description falls somewhere between Alex-to-English translator and community cheerleader. I think it's what he needs. I hope that I don't fail. It's a step in the right direction that he asked me at all, and that's all that I can hope for right now.
I was right about the baby. I spoke to Dana yesterday and according to her, Mulder and Alex will have equal parental rights when the child is born. As far as I'm concerned, her word is the law. And whatever BS Alex might pull out of his ass when she's not around, he knows it too.
She asked me about Mulder.
"You love him," she said. "I can tell."
She was sprawled out on the couch in her room and, strangely enough, chewing on a pencil. I was distracted by her size. It seems like she's getting significantly bigger every single day. If I hadn't done the tests myself, I'd think she was having twins.
"How can you tell?" I asked, slightly embarrassed, but relieved to finally be talking about it.
"Because your face lights up every time you talk about him and when he's around, you don't even look at anyone else."
I wanted to ask her how to get him to love me back, how she did it, but I knew it was a stupid question. You can't force emotions on someone.
"He needs to be loved, Roseanne," she told me. "Just love him and you'll make him very happy. Even if he's reluctant or afraid or....whatever, eventually he'll realize that he's found what he's always been looking for."
I'm so sorry for the resentment, the anger I've been feeling towards her over this. She wants him to be happy. She wants me to be happy. She loves us both and it was silly of me to think otherwise.
"How long did it take for him to fall in love with you?" I asked her.
"I don't know. It took him years to really let me in."
That made me feel a little bit better and a little bit worse. What if we don't have years?
"I feel like a beached whale."
Mulder laughs. As though I were telling a joke, trying to be funny. Ha ha. I'd like to see him carry around this gigantic baby from hell for forty one weeks. Then we'll see who's laughing.
"What ever happened to maternal joy, Scully?" he asks. I think I got the maternal and he got the joy in that deal. I only hope that when the baby is born I'll feel more of a connection to it, more than a sense of my body being held hostage.
"I threw up my joy seven months ago."
He laughs again and lights another candle, then settles back onto the couch beside me. I pull the blanket up to my chin, shivering.
We lost everything today. The blizzard knocked out our generator and we've had no heat, lights, or electricity for almost ten hours. This time I don't think they're coming back.
I convinced Alex to go a few hours ago. He didn't want to leave me alone, didn't want to miss anything. The baby dropped a couple of days ago and labor has moved from impending to imminent to where the hell is it already. The pain of the baby pushing against my lungs and bladder has become almost unbearable and the fact that I can't go a half an hour without having to urinate, while amusing to Alex, is just about the most irritating thing I've ever experienced. I think if it doesn't come out soon, I might go in with a shovel myself.
Alex's greatest fear is not being here when the time is finally at hand. But a baby needs warmth and light and bringing those things back has to be his first priority tonight.
I told him to get Mulder, that Mulder would stay with me and that he'd know what to do if it happened. He didn't argue with me. In fact, he seemed almost relieved to have some sort of solution, some sort of help.
And so he's gone to work with some of the other men, out into the cold dead night to salvage what he can for us. As soon as he left, I started to feel a series of mild, but shooting pains which could well be the onset of labor. Or it could be gas. Either way, they've been continuous for almost four hours now. I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I'm trying not to panic. I haven't told Mulder for fear of leaving him disappointed when, yet again, no baby appears.
Most of the time I believe in what I'm doing. Sometimes I fear I've made a terrible mistake. Tonight I linger somewhere in between, glad that my child has not two, but three, possibly four, parents who want nothing more than her happiness and safety. At the same time, fearing that none of us will be able to give it.
"So, what if it's a boy?" Mulder smiles, tucking himself into a tightly wound cocoon of blankets.
"What if it is?"
Only Roseanne knows the baby's sex for sure, and at this point she's flat out refusing to tell me. You've waited so long, she says. Don't spoil the surprise now.
I've already gotten the surprise of being overdue, the surprise of two false labors. I'm not sure I can handle any more surprises.
"Well," Mulder says, "we've been going with the assumption that it's a girl because of....why are we going with that assumption again?"
"Alex has a feeling."
"Ah, right. Krycek's psychic visions. Okay, well, let's just say for the sake of argument that he's wrong."
"So, if it's a boy, what are we going to call it?"
Names. He's worried about names? I'm worried we're not going to be able to wash and feed the damn thing.
"I dunno, Adam?"
"Oh, Scully, how terrifically predictable."
"Well, what's your bright idea, Mister Originality?"
"Traditionally, boys are named after their fathers," he points out. There are many problems with this.
"So you want me to call him Falex?"
We both laugh as a gust of wind rattles the windows. I hope Alex isn't too cold out there.
"So do you think you might want to have another one sometime?" I ask eventually. The look of surprise, confusion and sheer panic on his face is answer enough.
"Scu...Scully, I...don't you wanna see how this one turns out first?"
"I didn't mean with me, Mulder."
He stares blankly at me for several seconds and I struggle with my facial expressions, trying to send him some sort of clue. For someone so intelligent, he can be infuriatingly obtuse sometimes.
"She really cares about you, Mulder."
"Are...are you talking about Roseanne?"
The blank stare returns, but is quickly replaced by an embarrassed head duck.
"Scully, I don't know what to do with her."
"Well then I guess you won't be the one to tell baby about the birds and the bees."
"No, no I mean, I just think that she wants something that I might not be able to give her."
"Mulder, all she wants is to be close to you. I know you've got a lot of love to give and you both deserve to be happy. I'd hate to see you..."
Oh God, there it is.
"Hate to see me what? Scully?"
Oh God. Oh God.
I don't want to have this baby. What am I doing? What the hell do I think I'm doing?
"Mulder, my water just broke."
We've been through the drill a dozen times. He knows what he's supposed to do, but for a moment all I see in his eyes are panic and confusion. Not a very comforting sight.
"I think that I may have been having contractions for the past few hours."
"You think...why didn't you say something?"
"I wasn't sure. But now I'm pretty sure. Mulder, this is gonna happen tonight."
He nods dumbly and I ask him to please help me to the bathroom so that I can clean up a little. There is nothing maternal or joyful about sitting in a puddle of amniotic fluid.
We check the color of the fluid, making sure that everything appears normal, and I change into what Alex has taken to calling, in an appropriately aggravating white trash accent, my "baby-birthin' dress". It looks like a lunch sack.
By the time I've waddled back to the couch Mulder seems to have his wits back. The bastard actually looks excited.
"So how long do you think it'll be?" he asks.
My throat tightens as I speak, a sob threatening to break through. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to pound my fists on the table and beg for God to make this stop happening so that I won't have to bring this innocent little person into our fucked up little world. I guess Mulder wouldn't like that very much.
Dammit, Alex, why did you have to leave? Yes, I know, I told you to, but I didn't realize I would need to smack the crap out of someone right now. How can I hit Mulder's innocent, jolly little face? How can I dig my nails into his cheeks and demand that he make this all go away when he's so nervous and happy and sweet? I need you, Alex. I need you to be my rock.
"Could be any time now," I manage to say with relative calm.
"How are you feeling?"
Like the world is coming to an end. Like I've made the most terrible mistake imaginable. Like I'm in the middle of a long and twisted nightmare and that any time now my monster baby is going to spew from my stomach like that scene from the Alien movie, all claws and blood and screaming. Like I'm missing something because this is supposed to be a happy time and don't most women have tears of joy rather than horror at this moment? Like I'm some kind of defective, mutant woman who was off playing with a B.B. gun when they handed out the mother-gene.
"You don't look fine."
"I am fine."
I am fine. I am fine.
God, please, baby, don't come until Alex gets here, okay? He really really wants to be here. Maybe if I hold my breath...
Ow. Oh God. Ow.
I can't hold back the grunts of pain when the contraction hits. Too fast. This is all happening too fast.
"Scully? Scully, what is it?"
"C- con- "
I nod and take hold of his arm, squeezing, needing to spread the pain.
"Scully, breathe. You have to breathe."
Oh God. I forgot to breathe.
What is that noise? God, what is happening?
Roseanne. It's Roseanne, standing over me and the pain is starting to pass. But it's only a matter of time before it comes back. Where did Roseanne come from?
"Dana, are you okay? Is it happening?" she asks, her face hovering in concern.
I reach up, take hold of her shoulders and pull her down so that her nose is nearly touching mine.
"Roseanne. Get Alex. Right now."
I knew this would happen. She said it wouldn't, but I knew it would. She said this was more important, but I knew it wasn't. She said Mulder could handle it and goddammit, I don't care if he can or not.
Snow. Stupid fucking snow. I can't see anything. I can't feel my feet. Where the hell are we?
I wonder how long it took Roseanne to find me. She was out of breath when she pulled me from the others, when she told me that it was happening. She probably ran. But we're running now and don't seem to be getting anywhere. Running in snow is like running in water. It could have taken her as long as a half an hour to get to the generator site and then to find me in the chaos might have taken ten or fifteen minutes.
She could be having the baby right this minute and I can't move any goddamn faster. It's not even like there was a point. The power is still out. The people are still angry and frightened. I haven't accomplished a damn thing and I may have already missed the most important moment of my life.
God, where are we?
"Are you sure you're going in the right direction? Did we just pass the library?" I call out into the darkness, through the swirling gusts of white powder.
"Yes! I told you! I'm following the tracks I made on my way out. Besides, that wasn't the library. It was the cafeteria. We're almost there."
Cafeteria. Almost there. Just keep thinking it and maybe it'll be true.
If only we had lights. It's so fucking dark out here. Another failure to add to the rapidly growing list. I wonder if my baby will ever know what it's like to have hot running water or a warm bed to sleep in.
At least I managed to organize some sort of coherent work schedule for everyone before this latest crisis. Things seemed to be going better for awhile. Hopefully this won't throw us into another tailspin.
There's still a lot of winter left, though. A long time to get through without heat and light. A long time to try to take care of a baby without any of the conveniences of modern life.
Baby. There's going to be a baby in my room tonight. A real live, breathing, crying, pooping baby. What are we gonna do with it?
Roseanne's flashlight has stopped moving. We're here. Thank God.
Her hands are trembling as she tries to turn her key and get us into the building. Too slow, she's moving to damn slow.
I shove her out of the way, finishing the job myself, and bolt for the stairs. My flashlight is barely enough to guide me up the three flights to our room. I trip, curse, run, trip again, my shoes squeaking on the linoleum, echoing through the dark, nearly empty building.
Almost there. Almost there. Just wait a little while longer, baby.
Down the hall and I can't remember the number. Which room do I live in? Thirty-one? Thirteen? Dammit all.
That one...that one with the black scuff mark on the door where I kicked it that time that she locked me out by accident. It takes all my restraint to open the door with my hand rather than trying to run right through the wood.
The room is dark, but lighter than the hallway. Candlelight is bouncing off the walls and there is warmth, more warmth than I've felt in a long time.
I wave my flashlight around, trying to find a sign of life in the almost eerily peaceful environment. Ret, sleeping in a pile under the kitchen table, whimpers at the sudden brightness.
"Over here, Alex." A whisper from the couch. Mulder, Dana, sitting close together, looking down at....
I missed it. I missed everything.
There is a baby in her arms. A tiny, pink baby, wrapped in one of my old flannel shirts. It's so quiet. So still. God, what if it's dead?
"Come on over here and meet your daughter, Alex."
Okay, must be alive. Unless she's gone mad.
I move slowly towards the couch, suddenly terrified, wishing it would be an acceptable response for me to run screaming back out the door. It's actually here.
My heart is still beating so fast from the adrenaline rush of trying to get here in time that I find it difficult to adjust to this new reality.
"Alex, please, turn off the flashlight."
I do as she asks, but reluctantly. It feels like my only tie to a pre-baby world. Everything is so soft in here. I feel awkward and huge and loud.
Finally I manage to make it to the couch, to sit down next to Dana and look at her. She's covered in sweat, hair matted to her bright red, puffy face. Still, beautiful. The baby is sleeping peacefully in her arms.
God, I have no idea what to say, what to ask, what to think. I can't stop shaking, can't adjust my breathing.
"She looks to be in good health," Dana says calmly, quietly. So calm. How can she be so calm?
"She sure was in a hurry to get out," Mulder adds in a similarly low and placid tone. A hurry? She was almost two weeks overdue for God's sake.
"I...I'm sorry I wasn't here," I offer lamely. Sorry doesn't even begin to cover it.
"I am too, Alex. But it wasn't a difficult labor. It was very quick, and Mulder did fine."
I glance over at Mulder for the first time, taking in his gleeful expression and his pride, and it should make me angry because I should have been the one to deliver this child, but it doesn't. I'm just glad someone was here.
"Thanks, Mulder. I'm glad..."
A tiny sigh comes from the strange creature in Dana's lap, interrupting me and drawing everyone's attention. She's woken up.
"I think somebody wants to say hi," Dana says and she holds this baby, this little tiny person in her arms and lifts her up so that I can see her, really see her, and she looks so...small. And wrinkled. Her slightly cone-shaped head causes a moment of panic, but then I remember what the books said. She looks like a normal newborn.
"Eve, this is your other daddy."
"Hi," I say stupidly, waving. She gurgles alarmingly and Dana chuckles as a wad of saliva drops out of baby's mouth. Great. She likes me already.
"Why don't you hold her," Mulder suggests. Yeah, that's a great idea. And then when I drop her on her head or crush her ribs we can all have a good laugh about that too.
"Yes, Alex, you should."
Before I can think of an excuse Dana is positioning my arm and placing the baby, wrapped in blankets, up against my chest. As soon as Eve feels the absence of Dana's hold and settles completely into my grasp she starts to cry. Her face twists into a distorted, anguished ball of red and her fists wave in the air in protest.
"Dana, look, this...you need to take her back," I insist, trying to make myself heard over the ungodly caterwauling.
"Just relax, Alex. She can probably tell that you're nervous."
Relax? How the hell am I supposed to relax? My baby hates me. She knows that I wasn't here when she was born, that I've let her down already. And she's probably fucking cold too. I'm sure somewhere in her little baby consciousness, she knows that's my fault.
Dana runs her hand through my hair, puts her head on my shoulder and whispers reassuring things into my ear. At least, I sense that they are reassuring. I can't actually hear her.
"Maybe she's hungry," I offer, desperate to end this poor thing's misery.
"She's already eaten a bit."
Well, maybe she needs to eat some more. God, Dana, just take her back already.
"Just hold her, Alex. Remember all the books you've been reading? You're not gonna hurt her."
Books. Right. Where the hell are you when I need you, Doctor Spock? You never told me she'd start spitting up and screaming when she met me.
What was I thinking anyway? Did I really expect any kind of book to prepare me for this... this miserable, sobbing, helpless, little Eve? Little Eve, my little little girl who I'm supposed to protect and support and teach and love and I can't even hold her right.
Or maybe I can. Her eyes pop open and the crying stops as suddenly as it began. Her fingers uncurl and her hands reach outwards, towards my face. Or maybe they're just flailing wildly. Either way, she's not howling anymore.
I realize that I've been nervously rocking my legs, bouncing her on my knees unconsciously, and that maybe she likes that. Maybe I was doing something right without even trying.
"You see? You're doing fine, Alex."
"How are you doing?"
She smiles serenely, looking almost drugged.
"I'm good. Exhausted, but good."
"Did it hurt?"
Stupid question, judging by the look on her face. Of course it hurt you jackass.
"You should have heard her screaming," Mulder comments. Yeah, I should have.
"I'm really sorry I..."
"I know, Alex. I know you tried. It's okay. Just relax and get to know your beautiful baby."
My beautiful baby. I look down at her again and everything else seems to disappear because she is beautiful. Puckered and goofy and just completely beautiful.
I shift around a little, positioning her in the crook of my fake arm which she does not seem to mind or even notice as anything unusual, so that I can touch her with my hand. For some reason I need to feel her skin, to know that she's really a person.
I reach down tentatively, not wanting to frighten her into another crying jag, and gently stroke her little baby cheek with my index finger. I think she's the softest thing I've ever felt.
I pull my hand back and wiggle my finger around her field of vision, attempting another wave hello. And then mid-wave, she reaches up with her own tiny hand and wraps it around my finger.
For some reason this causes my chest to constrict in a painful mixture of fear and adoration. Fear because she is so delicate, so trusting and innocent that I'm afraid for her. Adoration because she is mine and because she maybe doesn't hate me as much as I thought. No, she doesn't hate me at all. She needs me and she loves me. I can feel it.
I will protect you, Eve. I promise you that. I'll never make you regret trusting me this way. I'll make myself worthy of that trust, worthy of you.
I feel Dana's hand brushing against my cheek and realize that I have no idea how much time has passed, how long I've been staring at the baby. I realize that it is getting warmer. I can hear the heat running again and I can hear Mulder snoring. I realize that I am crying.
"You're going to be a wonderful daddy, Alex."
I hope you're right, Dana. God, I hope you're right.
In the end it comes down to a choice. Not resist or serve. Not fight or die. Not fries or onion rings. No, nothing as dramatic as that. In the past twenty four hours, our future has dwindled down to two disheartening options. Attempt to defend our home and face certain death or run away and face almost certain death.
My mother used to talk about time a lot. She was obsessed. My pubescent years were especially difficult for her. Watching me sprout up at a frightening pace- nearly an inch a month during my thirteenth year- she'd shake her head sadly and say "Oh, Fox, you're turning into a giant. Time is going so fast. Soon I'll be dead."
Mom was a real cheerful sort. She even managed to make me feel guilty for growing. But I have to admit, she was right about one thing; when you have a child time seems to fly right past you.
It's been almost a year and a half since Eve was born. If I ever had any questions about my purpose in this world, I've found the answers in my daughter.
The first few months were difficult. None of us had any practical experience in child rearing and we were still adapting, learning the parameters of our mutant family unit, getting to know this strange new person who'd tied us inexorably together.
I tried, despite my lingering discomfort over Scully and Krycek's relationship, to give them the space they needed, but I was filled with a desperate need to spend time with my child. It was a delicate and difficult balance. There were fights. There was awkwardness. But somehow, eventually, we managed to stumble into the right formula. We had to. For her.
They're glad for my help now, glad for someone who loves Eve, who'll happily take her for days at a time so that they can have some peace and time for themselves. And I have, unbelievably enough, become grateful for them, for their love for each other. Without it there would be no Eve. And they've given her a good home, a supportive, loving environment- something that I believe both Krycek and I lacked growing up.
Call me biased if you will, but I believe she is the most remarkable child who's ever lived. She is truly beautiful, despite having inherited physical traits from both of her fathers. Somehow the mixture of dark brown hair, hazel eyes, olive complexion, and a gigantic shnoz works on her. Aside from her above average intelligence- she's talking in almost complete sentences already- and her worship of Krycek, she is a normal and healthy child.
I can't imagine my life without the infectious sound of her laughter, her penchant for troublemaking, her wicked sense of humor. A few days ago she stole Krycek's holster, or "Da's hoetter" as she calls it, wrapped it around herself and did the best damn Krycek impersonation I've ever seen- scowl, Russian obscenities and all. And he laughed.
She is a handful, but never a chore. Even Roseanne has fallen under her spell. She still claims to be lacking any maternal hardware, but in her way she is just as much of a parent to Eve as any of us. It makes me wonder if some day, when Eve is a little older and less in need of constant care, maybe some day we could give her a little half brother or sister.
I should say it made me wonder. Now that is a future beyond contemplation.
Until yesterday I could honestly say that I was happy, hopeful about the future and content in the present.
Things were going as well as could be expected in the community at large. Farming had resumed and resources were being distributed fairly and in an organized fashion. The mutiny threats had long ago been quelched when Krycek began apportioning power and responsibility. The lights never came back, but we learned to live with that. Things were, relatively speaking, back to normal and had been that way for several months.
And me- I had everything a forty-six year old man could ask for. A beautiful child, some good friends, my health, a hot, young girlfriend who wanted nothing more than to make me happy. I've still got those things and, honestly, my life would be damned near perfect if it weren't for this whole impending doom thing. And the lack of baseball.
It started with a reunion.
When I left the drone colony all those years ago, Spender helped me. He told me where Scully was and supplied me with what I needed to get here. For that I would be forever grateful to him, but I never, never expected to see him again and express that gratitude.
Yesterday he appeared on my proverbial doorstep looking filthy, exhausted and deeply terrified. His arrival at the colony was met with far less fanfare than mine. We don't have enough men to position guards at every entrance twenty four hours a day, so he was spared the humiliation of a goon shakedown and presentation to the King and Queen. He just wandered into the cafeteria in the middle of lunch.
Scully and Krycek were at home with Eve, but almost everyone else was there and the whole place fell absolutely silent at the sight of a stranger. I stood and reassured them, told them that he was a friend and prayed he wouldn't prove me wrong.
He sat with me and Roseanne, and we fed him. He ate like the starving man he must have been, and after about fifteen minutes he started talking.
"My father is dead," was the first thing he said. This was hardly shocking news considering the man's age and condition, and it certainly wasn't going to bring a tear to my eye. But there was more. Much more.
"They'd been protecting him. He was promised that. And he was protecting you, protecting this place. But now, now that they've moved onto Phase Three, no one is protected. They killed him, and they found everything he'd been hiding. They know where you are. They know everything."
"Wait, wait, slow down," I interrupted him, overwhelmed at his frantic outpouring of information. "Your father was protecting us? How? Why?"
"Jesus, Mulder, that's not important anymore!" He slammed his fist on the table, rattling the silverware as well as my nerves. "The important thing, the thing you need to understand is that you're *not* being protected anymore. They know where you are, and they're coming here. It could be any time now."
We'd heard this before, from the British man, but that had been almost two years ago. I'd grown to believe that he'd been bluffing, trying somehow to put Krycek in his place. That could have been the situation, in fact. But either way, I trusted Spender's word a great deal.
"And you came all this way just to warn us?" Roseanne asked, understandably skeptical. He was a stranger to her.
"I came here because I had to go somewhere. This is the only place I know about, the only place left. There isn't anywhere else. You don't know what it's like out there. You just..."
His haunted eyes began welling with tears of fear and frustration, and any doubt I might have had disappeared. He was telling the truth and he was beyond scared- he was terrorized.
"Mulder, if you people don't get out of here you're facing complete and certain annihilation."
"Well, where are we supposed to go?" Roseanne asked. "You just told us there's nowhere left."
"It doesn't matter. Just go. Go anywhere. Run while you've still got a chance. If you stay here, there's no fighting them. There's no fighting them at all, but if you run you might be able to hide, to last a little longer."
"I can't...I won't believe that. There must be something we can do," I offered, trying to convince myself more than anyone else.
Spender shook his head. "Mulder, there's no time for your idealism anymore. You've got to go. We've all got to go."
It was clear to me, looking at the face of pure, unbridled desperation across the table, that something needed to be done. Something fast.
We brought the information to Krycek first. He decided, wisely, to let everyone know immediately and let them make the fight or flight choice for themselves. As far as I can tell, no one has chosen fight.
We've all been given a survival pack- some food, some medical supplies, clothing, a toothbrush and bar of soap, water purification tablets, all the basic necessities- and divided into groups of six to ten people. Each group has been given a vehicle, a compass, and directions to the British man's colony. It's the only place anyone can think of going.
Evacuation began last night with the first group leaving under Bryan's direction. Saying good-bye
to him, I was struck with the eerie sensation that it was the last time I would see him.
Our group is small- just Roseanne, Spender, Scully, Krycek, Eve, and myself- but I believe we are strong. There is a very real possibility that these are the only people I will ever see again.
Krycek has decided, and we have all agreed, that we should be the last to leave so that we can assist the others in their preparations. We've sent off almost all of the groups and our time is rapidly approaching. It has been exceedingly difficult. Especially, I think, for Krycek.
I am helping him clear his office, gather everything that might be important for us in the future. His demeanor is even more morose than my own.
"I would stay," he says to me, dumping the contents of the top drawer of his file cabinet into a plastic bag. "I would stay and fight for this place if...if things were different."
He seems almost apologetic, as though he fears I might judge him for abandoning ship, for not rising to the opportunity and facing Krycek's last stand.
"We have to think about Eve. About...about our family," I tell him. As much as I might wish for a final show of strength and resistance myself, I understand that this is our only option.
"I know that, Mulder. I just hate running away."
I hate it too. God, how I hate it.
"You've done your best, Krycek. Better than any man could be expected to do."
He stops the frantic office ransacking and regards me with an expression that is shockingly close to gratitude. He reaches out his hand and I take it, settling into a comfortable handshake. I feel a peculiar urge to hug him, but under the circumstances the gesture would probably be considered deranged.
"Thank you, Mulder," he says simply, and we finish our packing in silence.
Babies don't like packing.
We moved a lot when I was little. San Diego, North Carolina, Virginia, back again and repeat. I cried the first couple of times. I remember the confusion, the fear, feeling completely disoriented seeing my belongings shuffled from room to room, into boxes and cars and planes. After a while I got used to it, but I always told myself that if I had a child I would try my damnedest to keep that child in one place. Sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you expected.
Eve is crying. Not a remarkable occurrence for most two-year-olds, but our Eve doesn't cry much. She never has. She's a screamer, a yeller, a stomper. Lately she's taken to haughtily proclaiming "You go hell!" when something or someone displeases her. Another lovely trait picked up from Alex. But we rarely see her face streaked with tears, as it has been almost all afternoon.
She is too young to understand why I chose to pack her things first. The story book that Alex made for her, words scrawled on notebook paper in an attempt at pretty handwriting, pictures she insisted on drawing herself because "Da' don' draw good"- that was the first item to go into a bag now overflowing with pieces of Eve. Her favorite blankie, the "partytime dress" Roseanne made for her first Christmas, the collection of kitty cat pictures Mulder helped her smuggle out of the library, all of these things are packed and they are coming with us no matter what. I packed them first because come hell or high water, those are my first priority.
The last holdout is flower bear. Flower bear is, as toys go, pretty pathetic looking. She is a floral pillowcase, molded unconvincingly into the shape of a teddy bear with black button eyes and a ball of a tail made from an old sweat sock. I've never been much of a whiz at arts and crafts, but I tried and somehow the one toy I made for my daughter has become her favorite possession.
She won't give it to me. She's curled herself into a fetal position on the couch, flower bear deep within her clutches, and every attempt to extricate the stuffed animal is met with more tears and wails of defiance.
"Eve, come on. Mommy's serious now. It's time to go."
I didn't think it would be this hard. Didn't think anything could be this hard.
"No! No go!" she cries, her dark curls flailing and her tiny hands balled into fists. I feel like crying right along with her, begging someone, anyone, to stop this nightmare and let me stay here. For the first time in my life I wish I were a small child with no power, no responsibility, no choices, and that someone could just come in here and pick me up and tell me what the hell I'm supposed to do. I wish I didn't know why this had to be done.
"Honey, we have to go. I'm sorry. Please, just let me have the bear so we can..."
"Mommy, lights! Lookit!"
Eve points toward the window, suddenly distracted, transfixed. Flower bear falls to the floor, temporarily forgotten, and I take the opportunity to swipe the toy and stuff it into the bag. Then I move to the window.
Twilight is upon us. The sun is hanging low in the sky, casting a golden glow on the autumn leaves that cling to our trees. The colors are deep, more vibrant and vivid than ever before.
In the distance, past the buildings of our compound, there are lights. Explosions. Balls of red and orange fire scorching the forest to the east of us.
It is a beautiful scene. One that could rival the most impressive work of art, the most moving symphony. It is our doom.
"Eve, put on your coat. It's time to go."
Some night, somewhere, in the truck:
I took you with me. We were only supposed to take necessities- the contents of our survival packs- but everyone took something extra. Dana took Eve's toys and Ret. Mulder took some books and a few of those old music tapes he found. I'm not sure where he's expecting to play those. Alex took almost the entire contents of his office. And I took you.
Mulder gave you to me so that I could record my history, and that history isn't over yet. Not as long as I'm still breathing.
I don't know how long we've been driving. It is dark outside, and Alex has been at the wheel since the sun came up this morning, but I've lost count of how many times we've seen the sun rise and set through the windows of this truck, this new mobile home of ours.
We've stopped several times- whenever we've seen an abandoned gas station or rest stop. There is still fuel, and Mulder still has the access card Spender gave him all those years ago.
Spender is dead. He was the only one of our small group who didn't make it out alive. We saw him die, burn to a pile of smoldering ash. He'd been so close to the truck, but not close enough. His pack was already here, on the floor in the back seat, and it's still there now, between Mulder's legs. None of us has opened it.
We almost didn't make it out. Honestly, I don't know how we did. It was a blur of terror and shock, watching our home burn to the ground and fleeing the remains. All I know is that the rest of us made it to the truck in time, and Dana can drive faster than hate when she's running for her life.
According to the map we are very close to the British man's colony. The others seem hopeful. Everyone seems to have faith that our friends will be waiting there for us, and that once we are there a course of action will become clear. I am not so hopeful.
For some reason, I fear what we will find at the other colony. After witnessing the destruction of my home, I can't help but wonder if the others fared any better.
For now, though, I'm just grateful that all of us are together and alive.
We reached Smith's colony this morning, shortly after sunrise. I am sad to say that my pessimism has been vindicated. The buildings there have been burnt to the ground, and not a trace of life remains.
While walking through the ashes, we stumbled across several sets of badly charred bones. Dana identified most of these as human, but some were alien.
It didn't make any sense.
"How could this have happened?" Alex asked, holding a crumbling alien skull in his hand. "How could they have died?"
No one had an answer. We've always believed them to be unstoppable, indestructible. Fire certainly isn't enough to kill them.
We left the colony several hours ago, and we've been driving south with no particular destination in mind. A few miles back, we came across a structure in the road that looked to be some kind of check point. We were nervous as we approached the booth, but when we reached it we saw something very strange. Another alien corpse, this one fully intact, sitting in a plastic fold-out chair.
Dana wanted to examine it, but Alex advised against it. We have no way of knowing what it was exposed to, what kind of dangers we might be exposing ourselves to by getting too close.
Relieved, but confused, we continue.
It has been many days since we found the British man's colony. In that time we have seen many more alien corpses, scattered throughout the landscape.
Last night, weary of catching brief naps in a moving vehicle, we camped in the woods. Our fear of being captured and killed has been lessening with every day and we felt relatively safe setting up camp out in the open.
From my sleeping bag, I saw lights falling from the sky. At first I thought them to be shooting stars, but they were much too large and colorful. I woke Mulder up and we watched them together.
"Do you think they're ships?" I asked him.
"Maybe so. It seems like all the ones down here are dying," he said.
I understand, perhaps better than any of the others, the deep and intricate symbiotic relationship between alien physiology and alien technology. It stands to reason that if one were to fail, to die, the other would follow. As alien life on Earth deteriorates, the machines that have been hovering above us for so long are malfunctioning.
The only question is- why? Why are they dying?
Dana believes that in the midst of their destruction, the aliens managed to unleash the one thing that had the power to destroy them. She believes that someone, somewhere perfected the bio weapon we'd all been working so hard to create.
Alex insists that the last hope for the bio weapon was destroyed in the raid on the Rebel headquarters, that there must be some other explanation. I think it bothers him that they seem to be gone and he wasn't the one to bring them down.
My only concern is that we're wrong about them all being dead. It almost seems too good to be true.
And then there's the question of other humans.
The world feels very empty. I don't know how many days we've been driving, but I know how far: nearly 2000 miles. I've been watching them flip by on the dashboard. In all those miles, we haven't seen another sign of life, alien or human. Animals and empty buildings are all that's left.
We're continuing southward. It's getting warmer. Soon we will run out of road. I don't know what we'll do then. Two men, one woman, a clone, a child, and a dog. Can this be all there is?
The thought seems to frighten everyone else. Alex hasn't spoken in a very long time. Dana has been holding Eve on her lap, cooing and comforting her, with a look of sheer terror in her eyes. Mulder has been holding my hand. His palm has been sweaty for days.
Everyday, I have been thankful for the fact that we are still alive, but now I'm starting to wonder if we're the only ones.
Mulder asked me today, as we ate canned corn in an empty parking lot, if I believed it.
"Could we really be alone, do you think?" he asked. "Are we the only people left on the planet?" He looked like he was about to cry.
"Maybe," I said. "I don't know. Honestly, it doesn't matter to me all that much. Everything I love is in that truck."
He kissed me, and I was happy, but he looked very sad.
The wheels roll on and the night grows long. Everyone is asleep except for Alex and me. As I scrawl this blindly in the dark, I wonder if it will be legible in the morning. I wonder if, in ten or twenty or two years, anyone will be alive to read it.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I read a play about hell. The people in the play didn't realize they were in hell. There were three of them, stuck in a room, forced to make small talk with each other as they struggled to figure out how they'd gotten there and how they were going to get out. Two women, one man. One of the women was a lesbian. The lesbian wanted the other woman who wanted the man who wanted the lesbian.
Hell, according to Jean Paul Sartre, is other people.
I haven't slept very much in the past few days, but when I have, my sleep has been dreamless. This is one of many factors contributing to my belief that I'm not really here at all. I'm pretty sure that I'm dead.
This could very well be hell, but at least there's four of us.
The sun is rising again, just as it has done every day of my life, but I'm willing to bet that there is a sun in hell. Isn't it supposed to be hot? It's getting hotter every day in this truck without air-conditioning.
Krycek pulls into a parking lot so that we can switch places. It's my turn to drive. I get out of the truck, stretch my limbs, and look around.
The lot is almost empty. Almost. There is one other vehicle, parked close to the burnt out shell of a building, and I walk to it with blind hope. Foolish hope. When I get close enough to see the cobwebs growing inside, wrapping around the skeletal remains in the driver's seat, I turn around and get back in the truck.
This used to be a McDonald's. The building is almost gone, but the giant M still stands. I wonder if there's any ingredients left inside. I could really go for a Happy Meal right now.
"What was in the car, Mulder?" Scully asks me from the passenger seat. Eve is bouncing on her lap, smiling and reaching her hands in the air, trying to grab a hold of the rays of sunlight filtering in through the windshield.
And then we're back on the road. Me and Scully, in another car, on another highway. Only this time, the pavement is crumbling under us and there is no case we're rushing to solve. In fact, there's no rush at all. Figures that the one time we're not in a hurry, there'd be absolutely no traffic. Not another damn car on the road.
We drive past exit ramps purporting to lead to Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut, LongJohn Silver's, but the signs are dusty and broken and full of lies. One of them claims that we're almost at Disney World. There's a picture of that damn mouse on a billboard, and it's so damn funny to me- the things that have survived.
"Lookit! Wassat?" Eve asks, her voice excited and curious. She points to the sign as we pass it, and wriggles around on Scully's legs. I think it might have been fun to take my daughter to Disney World. I wonder what's left of it.
"It's Mickey Mouse," Scully says. "You like him?"
Eve is quiet for a long time, pondering the question. Such a thoughtful child, so damn smart. What kind of life have we condemned her to?
"Umm, noo," she finally decides. "Mouse's scary."
From the backseat, there is laughter. Krycek.
I suppose it is pretty damn funny. Of all the scary shit, the fucking nightmarish horror show this kid has been exposed to, things she's sat through with a calm complacency that we've all envied, she's afraid of goddamn Mickey Mouse.
God, I love this child. We can't be in hell. Eve is here.
Maybe it's just purgatory.
Either way, my urge to go to Disney World has been quelled by Eve's distaste. We pass the exit, and it's just another blue sign, another dot on the endless highway.
I glance in the rearview mirror and see Roseanne looking back at me, a smile on her face. She's been almost as calm as Eve through this...this thing, this end of the world blowout blitz we've been driving through. A long time ago she told me that she was scared of this, but now that it's here she's almost serene.
Sometimes I don't understand her at all. The fact that I want to is something of a revelation. For so long it's been Scully, only Scully in my thoughts and in my heart. She's still there, of course, and I know that I'm in her heart as well, but any romantic notions I might have had about a one true love seem oddly out of place here.
I love Roseanne. I don't know if it's a romantic love, but I'm not sure that it matters. I would have a child with her, and right now that seems like a very important thing. Repopulating the world with such a limited gene pool is a bit of a dreary prospect, but I suppose we've got to start somewhere. It's the only hope we've got.
We drive on, and on, and on. Me and my karass who, as it turns out, have been fated all along to be the last people on Earth. When we reach a fork in the road I decide to head east. The ocean seems to hold more promise than the gulf.
Maybe when we get to the end we can go swimming. Hey, at least the beach won't be too crowded.
I am writing this to you on paper stolen from a place called 7-11. It was a convenience store in the time before. The time before the time before.
Oh, my. This is going to be even more difficult than I feared. I'm not sure if you'll have an opportunity to learn our history from another source, and there is so much I want you to know and understand. I want to tell you what the world was like before you were born. I want to tell you who your parents were, and who we are, and why we decided to have you. I don't have the faintest idea where to start.
I want to tell you about how your Mulder and I met, but how can I begin to explain the X-Files when the concept of a Federal Bureau of Investigation is probably as foreign to you as a 7-11? It feels as fruitless as trying to explain blue to a blind person.
Perhaps most of the story isn't really all that important. Perhaps most of it is too dark, too complicated, too unpleasant to recount here. How you came to be is secondary- details I will share with you if you choose to ask, but which, upon reflection, seem less than pertinent.
The thing that you need to know, the reason I'm writing you this letter...you saved us, Eve. In every conceivable way. I don't believe we'd be alive today were it not for you.
I've always had a difficult time believing in fate, but faced with the reality before me today, I've no choice but to believe. What other explanation is there for this? Fate brought you to us, and fate has left us with the task of beginning an entirely new world for you. Without you, I wouldn't have had the strength to carry on. I wouldn't have the strength now, to keep going, keep living and fighting.
Things seem so bleak now, so empty, almost hopeless, but I am driven by a need- a biological imperative perhaps- to find whatever kernels of life remain and work to rebuild.
Mulder's driven us to the ocean. I see you on the sand, playing with Roseanne and Mulder and Ret, your bare feet dipping into the waves. You look happy now, but I wonder how much of the destruction you've seen has sunken into your consciousness. How much will you remember? Will you hate us for bringing you into this world? Will you ever have another child to play with?
Whatever happens, Eve, please know that your mother loves you more than she's ever loved anything and that she's dedicated to giving you a life worth living.
"What are you writing?" Alex asks, and I put the pen and paper down, onto the hood of the truck. I take his hand in both of mine and stand facing him.
"A letter to Eve. I'm trying to...explain."
His lips curve into a small smile and his fingers curl around mine.
"I think she understands."
"Oh, Alex, how could she? How could we...God, what have we done?"
Tears start trailing down my cheeks and I wipe them away, irritated. This isn't the time to break down. But, if not now, when?
"She knows we love her, devotchka," he whispers and reaches up to cup my cheek in his palm. "She knows we love each other."
"Is that enough? How can it be enough? Where are we going to live, Alex? How? How can we live with no other people anywhere?" What happens to her when we die? I can't even give voice to that one. I'm already on the verge of hysteria.
"We'll find a way. We'll find other people. They're somewhere. I'm sure of it."
"How? How are you sure?" I'm yelling now. Acting stupid, more childish than my two-year-old daughter.
"Shh, devotchka, shh," he croons into my ear, pulling me close for a reassuring hug. I think I'm beyond reassurance. I start beating my fists into his chest, and he lets me. He lets me cry and beat him, and he just stands there holding me and telling me it's going to be okay, but how can it ever be okay? How?
"I'm trying, Alex," I sob, deflating against him. "I'm trying so hard to be so strong for her, but I just don't know what the hell we're supposed to do!"
"I know. I know. I don't know either. All I know is that we can't give up. We've gotta keep...trying."
His voice is gravely, and when I pull back to look at him I see that he's crying too. I wrap my arms around him, tuck my head under his chin, and he keeps holding me. Tight.
After a long time he says, "Maybe we should have another baby."
"We can't, Alex. I'd have to...with Mulder."
"I think I could let it go this time, Dana."
I laugh a little, and cry a little more. He's right. The old rules don't apply anymore, and monogamy seems like something of a pointless ideal to aspire to. Our own selfish needs, whether they are based on love or not, have to come second now. There are greater things at work here than the love between one man and one woman.
The fact is, though, I'm getting older every day and before too long there will be no more babies for me.
"Maybe Mulder and Roseanne will have a baby," I offer hopefully. Roseanne has proven to be somewhat ageless. If she is capable of reproducing, that ability should be with her for a long time.
"And maybe me and Roseanne will have one, too."
I don't particularly care for that idea, but I suppose if he can withstand the pain for the good of humanity then I can too.
"Alex, if all our babies have babies with each other, they'll be deformed."
"Well," he sighs, "We've gotta start somewhere."
"I love you, Alex."
He smiles, and he kisses me, and maybe it is enough after all. Maybe it is.
I used to want to be the king of the world. To rule and conquer and own. I knew it was a lofty goal, and that before I reached it I would have to focus first on keeping myself alive. Survival is a strong driving force. It got me through a lot, and soon enough my time had come. Colonization left me king of my own world, and for awhile that was enough. When she came along, things got complicated. Ideas about love, about fidelity and honesty and loyalty began to filter through and reach my consciousness. Messy ideas.
The world is very small now, and there is no king here. But still, the urge to survive is powerful in me. The need remains, but so do the messy ideas. My fear is that they won't be able to co-exist in this new world of ours.
There is hope, though. There is Eve. More than self-preservation, more than glory, more than the personal satisfaction of romantic love fulfilled, more than any other goddamn thing is Eve. I can honestly say that I would sacrifice anything to give her a future.
The entire future of the world depends on it.
There is also our collective strength. In a way, I think we're very lucky to have had our time at the colony. We've learned survival skills, how to hunt and farm and build, how to live without electricity and running water and heat. We are all smart, healthy, and relatively young.
Then there is our individual strength. Roseanne is a walking encyclopedia, full of knowledge and possessing a computer-like capability for retaining, prioritizing and processing information. Mulder, with his partially alien physiology, is gifted with an astonishing amount of physical strength and stamina. I think it's possible he could live forever. Dana has the heart, the kindness and love to hold us all together. I suppose that I've shown myself capable of somewhat competent leadership. And Eve gives us the reason, the motivation to keep going and the strength to make it work.
Fate, or perhaps God, has chosen us for this. Maybe I didn't scourge the Earth of the alien menace single-handedly. Maybe I didn't save the planet, but they are gone and we are here. However it happened, we are now faced with the unique opportunity of starting an entirely new civilization with nothing to impede us other than our own fears and feelings of isolation. In a way it's almost liberating.
There is the chance, of course, that they will come back. That the ones who perished here were just the beginning. But I can't allow myself to seriously consider the possibility any more than I can consider the chance of our failure.
I walk with Dana, down to the surf to join Eve and Mulder and Roseanne. Ret runs towards Dana, and she pets him and feeds him chemically preserved dog treats. I take Eve's hand and watch the waves. Just another day at the beach.
"Wass' over der?" she asks me, pointing out to sea.
"It's the ocean."
"No, no, wass' on de odder side?"
The other side. How does she know that there is another side? Looking at the water from this perspective, I can understand how our ancestors could believe the Earth was flat, that if you sailed too far you'd fall off. It looks vast, and circular. It creates the impression of a pancake-shaped planet.
"There's another continent on the other side. Land, like this."
"Do people live over 'der?"
A very good question. I look down, into her wide and curious eyes, and then back to the water and the promise it holds.
"I think that they do, Eve. I really think they do."
Mulder walks towards us, holding Spender's abandoned survival pack. We've emptied the supplies, and all that remains of Jeffery Spender is a floppy backpack.
"I think we should have some kind of, um..." Mulder flounders, holding the bag and staring strangely at it.
"Funeral?" I offer.
"Yeah, I guess that's the right word."
"He saved us, in a way."
Mulder nods, and we walk to join Dana and Roseanne at the water's edge. We huddle together, a dirty, bedraggled, and weary group. Mulder holds the bag quietly for a few moments, and then begins his eulogy.
"It seems strange to have a funeral for one person, when so many others have died, but Jeffery Spender was...well, he was a true friend. He helped me in so many ways. Made it possible for me to find you, all of you. And then he came to us to warn us...he saved us. He saved us all."
He looks down at the pack and says, "Thank you, Jeffery." Then he tosses the bag into the sea. We watch it float and bob.
I glance over at Dana. She has tears in her eyes again and her hand is on her cross. Amazing that she still has it, after everything. It makes me wonder, again, about God and if we really are the chosen ones. I wonder if Dana should write more letters, if she needs to be Moses and write down the genealogy of our little clan for future generations. Or for the children who might be living on "de odder side". Perhaps that's my job.
How does one go about establishing a society anyway? Sounds like the beginnings of a Monty Python sketch to me. I can almost hear John Cleese running down the list of things I'll have to do.
Is it my job now, my human duty, to re-establish order and religion, culture and tradition? Which of my old ideals are important enough to preserve? What kind of moral code should I pass down to my daughter? How did they do it in the beginning? Do I even have a moral code?
According to the myths, God spoke to those people. Will God speak to me? To Dana? Will the ghost of John Cleese come down to visit us with an enchanted scroll? I think we could really use the help.
I look up at the sky, into the deep blue and the clouds and the sun, and I remember a night a long time ago when Dana told me about the magic in the stars. I thought it was strange, almost insane for her to see beauty in them when such horrors had come from the heavens. Now I think I finally understand what she saw up there.
I pray silently for guidance, for wisdom from above, but there aren't any bright blinding lights or solemn words in my head. All I know is what I feel inside, the love I feel for these people and the need to protect my family.
Maybe God never literally spoke to anyone. Maybe what they heard were the voices in their own heads, telling them what they needed to do, why they needed to create a beautiful world for their children.
I look again to Dana, and wonder if she is thinking about God. She's always believed, through all the horror and strife. Does she believe now? Does she feel, as I do, that there must be a higher power responsible for our survival and resilience?
Once upon a time someone told me that there was no God, that what we though of as God was only alien. I can't believe that now. I won't.
Dana catches my eye, and opens her mouth to speak. The wind blows her hair into her face, into her mouth. She looks small and tired and beautiful in the bright sunlight. Her voice cracks. She swallows, closes her eyes, and begins quietly praying.
"Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."