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Futures Past 07: Phoenix - Part 2

by Arvy

Futures Past 06:
Hazel + Gold = Green
Home Futures Past 08:
Sweet Dreams...

Part 1 Part 2

RATING - R (for language)
CATEGORY - C(rossover), R(omance), A(ngst)
SPOILERS - The End(XF)
KEYWORDS - X-files/Highlander/Forever Knight/? crossover, Mulder/Scully Romance

SUMMARY

You didn't think it was all happy sailing, did you? With their relationship in doubt, the agents must find a way to look past their differences in order to find each other. Meanwhile, a figure from their past conspires to control their future.

DISCLAIMER/Notes

See Part One


The Andes Mountains
Somewhere in Peru, South America
Tuesday, May 26, 1998
5:15 AM, local time

She could feel the vibrations as the table slid into the MRI machine. God she hated these tests. With a passion! The chemo made her sick to the stomach, and then the nausea during the trip through the NMR imaging machine was enough to make her cringe at the thought of more treatments. Sometimes, at the worst of the treatments, she could almost convince herself that she must have been given this cancer because of some past life transgression. Surely nothing she'd done in this life merited this harsh a punishment. Mulder would be so pleased, she almost smiled to herself.

She opened her eyes a crack, expecting to see the smooth interior of the imaging chamber. Her eyes widened in shock at the sight of the white ceiling in its stead. The room... Her head spun as she turned her head ever so slightly. She could feel the movements, the vibrations traveling through her body. She tamped down on her panic and the ebbing feeling of nausea, trying to calm herself enough to try to remember why the place seemed so familiar.

Of course! The train car. She'd been here before. Or another one just like it. Memories, old ones, started coalescing in her mind. Not only the ones about the incident with the leper colony and that Japanese doctor. What was his name? Ishimaru. No, these memories were from before, almost four years old. Perhaps it was the familiar feel of the movement of the car, or maybe just the atmosphere, but whatever it was, it had triggered a spark of recognition, a memory long buried, now resurfacing. She recalled her vague memory flashbacks from before, but she was sure now. She'd definitely been here before during her abduction.

The shock of realization sent a shiver of horror down her spine. Not again. She had no doubt what had happened to her. She'd been taken again.

She tried to sit up, only to find herself restrained, her hands and feet held down to the table by thick straps. She could still feel the lingering presence of drugs in her system, the signs evident even in her confusion. Other than the nausea, her movements were ever so slightly off, her surroundings swimming in a drug induced haze. She tried to crane her neck forward, trying to get a better feel of her surroundings when she saw some movement out of the corner of her eye.

"Not yet, Agent Scully," she heard the voice float over as the man moved closer. "We still have a ways to go," the voice continued, the tone almost condescending. "Here, let me give you something to help you relax." His hands moved up, pulling off the cap of a small hypodermic needle.

"No," she managed in a low whisper, shaking her head slightly. She felt the tiny pinprick just below her elbow.

"Just relax, Agent Scully. Let us take care of everything. You just rest..." The rest of his words were lost as the drug took hold once again, and she fell back into a troubled stupor.

The train moved forward, resolutely winding its way through the emptiness of the jungle and up the face of the mountain, surrounded by the chirps of birds and animal calls signifying the start of a new day.


8:09 PM

The next time she awoke, she came to with a gasp. She blinked, her lungs greedily sucking in oxygen. She lay still for what seemed to her an eternity, trying to bring her breathing under control.

"Right on schedule."

The voice came from behind her. She tried to turn around to get a better look, but found that she was still tied down. She struggled for a moment, trying unsuccessfully to escape the straps before lying back down. She took the opportunity to take a look around. She was in a room this time, bigger than the train car from her last memory. She lay on a table, her clothes exchanged for what looked like a hospital gown. Just beyond her table, there were what appeared to be various tanks filled with murky water. She glanced past the tanks, her eyes taking in the lab apparatus just beyond, searching for the source of the voice.

"Glad to see you alive again, Agent Scully. I was afraid that last treatment might have been a bit much for your system to handle." The voice came closer.

She recognized it from the train earlier. How long ago had that been? He'd said alive again, implying she'd died recently. If so, how long had she been dead? She felt the movement next to the table. She turned her head, watching as the man moved beside her. She sucked in a breath as she recognized the face. Someone she didn't think she would ever see again.

"Scanlon..."

She was shocked at the weak voice that emerged from her throat. Suddenly she felt the nausea and dizziness from whatever medication her system had been plied with. She lay her head back against the table, closing her eyes tightly to bring the spinning room under control. When she felt the nausea recede slightly, she chanced opening her eyes again. She almost flinched at the flashlight shining into her eyes.

"You remember me! I'm honored, Agent Scully." The doctor who had supervised her cancer treatments almost a year ago, and who'd probably had a hand in killing all the Allentown women, pulled the flashlight back. He put it in his pocket, walking over to check on some readouts from the medical equipment beside her table.

"What do you want from me?" she managed to whisper, her throat scratchy and hoarse. She coughed from the effort, her mind already contemplating worst case possibilities. He obviously knew about her immortality, although he wasn't one himself.

"Would you believe the answers to life, the universe, and everything?" He had an almost gleeful smile on his face as he turned away from her to study his equipment again. "Seriously though," he continued, still turned away from her, "do you realize what you carry inside you, Agent Scully? Imagine if we could somehow duplicate what we did to you. Just think of the possibilities. No more sickness. No more death." He paused, leaning in to observe a readout closely.

"I'm sure you only have the good of humanity in mind," she managed sarcastically. She could almost feel her strength returning as the drugs were slowly wiped from her system. "What have you done to me?" Her voice was a little stronger now.

"Ah good," Scanlon muttered to himself, looking at his equipment and adjusting the monitor one more time before turning back to her. "Tsk, tsk. All these questions, Agent Scully. Or can I call you Dana, like I did before?" He moved towards her, his face breaking into a malicious smile. "It's quite simple really. What we're trying to do here," he said, gesturing around to indicate the facility, "is to replicate immortality. Did you know that about one in every 10,000 people has the potential within them to become immortal?"

With her slowly clearing mind, it took her a few seconds to understand what that meant. She took in a sharp breath at the implications. Almost a half a million people worldwide...

He didn't miss the look of realization on her face. "Ah. I see you understand. But there are so many variables, you see. For some reason, the presence of family seems to inhibit the final crossover into immortality upon the individual's first death. There are, of course, other factors. Immortals seem to think of their inability to have children as some sort of side effect of their condition. It's actually the other way round. The ability to have children is another factor that inhibits the crossover." He had been looking around the lab, almost as if giving a lecture in front of an audience. His eyes came back to rest on her, his voice lowering as he continued, "Of course, in your case, we took care of that, didn't we?"

He almost seemed oblivious to the expression on her face, one combining shock, then anger at what had been done to her, and the reason behind it, humiliation at the violation of her body, and hatred at the people who would conceive of such acts in the first place.

"You, Dana," he went on blithely, "were our first success. Our only success, actually. Unaided, less than a percent of those with the potential actually become immortal. We never expected the chip to work for you as well as it did. It never had before. Can you imagine how pleased we were that you survived your episode with cancer? We still haven't figured out exactly why that particular side effect of the initial gene resequencing occurs." He paused, as if considering his next words. "It's too bad you were the only one, though. Makes the confirmation of the correct genes we need to alter and splice that much more difficult." He reached behind her, retrieving a hypo similar to the one he'd used before on the train. "And now, Dana, it's time for you to go under again. We still have so much to do." He held up the syringe, measuring the correct amount of fluid.

Her eyes widened at his actions. She did not want to go through this again. Before he could inject it into her, she interrupted, "I'm going to be missed, you know. There'll be people looking for me." She stared at him, her eyes daring him to reply to her challenge.

Scanlon paused, looking up to meet her gaze. His next sentence, delivered in a measured tone, sent a cold chill down her spine. "They couldn't find you the last time. What makes you think they will now?" He moved back, his hand coming up to point the syringe at one of the tanks she'd seen earlier. "Besides, this time, I don't think you'll be missed all that much."

Scully followed his gesture, looking at the tanks herself. At first, she couldn't see anything through the dirty water. Then she spied some movement. She took in a sharp breath. A hand! She could have sworn it was a hand, brushing up against the outer edges of the tank. The next movement masked any horror she might have felt earlier. She saw what lay in the tank. A body, floating in the water, some kind of breathing apparatus attached to its face. But what horrified her most was what lay behind the mask. Under the floating cloud of red hair, she saw a very familiar face. Her own! She turned back to face Scanlon, her face mirroring her dread.

"Yes, Agent Scully. A clone." He was still staring at the tank. "So beautiful, even if I do say so myself." He turned to look at her, his mouth curling into a thin smile. "Once she's been programmed with your memories, no one will ever know the difference. Quite ingenious, don't you think?"

In her shock, all she could do was stammer one word. "Mulder..."

"Ah, yes. Your partner. Don't worry. We have something in mind for him as well." The smile was bigger now, the syringe moving closer. "He'll never even know you're gone."

She felt the sharp prick as the needle found its mark once again. She could almost feel the drug working its way into her body, deadening her muscles, clouding her thoughts. She shook her head, trying to clear it. She had to stay awake. She had to try... She bit her lip to keep the tears from escaping. She managed one final question. "Why me? All this just to keep Mulder in line?"

"My my, you certainly have a high opinion of your partner, don't you, Dana? Not everything is about Fox Mulder, my dear. You would have been taken regardless of your partnership with him. As I said, your fate was determined the moment you were born, and there was nothing you, or Agent Mulder, for that matter could have done to change that." He pulled out the syringe. "Now rest. We have so much to do, Dana. But then, we have all the time we need, don't we?"

She could barely hear him through the haze that seemed to envelop her. For what seemed like the umpteenth time, Dana Scully let out a sigh as she slowly closed her eyes.


The Andes Mountains
Elsewhere in Peru, South America
10:25 PM

The quiet of the night was unbroken except for the incessant chirp of cicadas and other nightlife. Suddenly the hum of noise stilled as twin beams of light pierced the endless darkness. The car rounded the bend, heading deeper and higher into the jungle.

The man behind the wheel gripped it tighter, his eyes straying from the road every few minutes to glance at the GPS receiver on the seat next to him. Almost there. Just a little further, he thought to himself, almost as if the mantra would somehow calm him down or make the journey somehow shorter or easier to endure. It had taken him almost a day to get this far, but the distance he still had to travel was quite considerable.

"I'm coming, Scully. Just hang on," he whispered.

In his wake, the jungle resumed its nocturnal vigil, seemingly oblivious to the temporary intrusion.


The lab
11:37 PM

"I'm coming..."

She could almost hear the faint whispers, his voice, echoing around the vast corridors as she ran down them, trying to elude her pursuers. She knew he was around here somewhere. She had to find him. He would save her. She was sure of it.

"Just hang on...," the voice whispered.

I'm trying, Mulder. I'm trying so, very, hard, she silently cried, the dream coalescing in her mind, then fading as she quietly came awake into reality. Slowly she became aware of her surroundings, and the others in the room.

"You promised you wouldn't hurt her!"

She kept her eyes closed, not allowing the frown to show on her face. That voice... Not Mulder, but still so familiar. And so out of place, especially where she thought she was now. She could hear the footsteps coming closer. And she could now feel the presence of another immortal nearby. She kept her face blank, not giving any indication of her consciousness. Any advantage, she thought to herself...

"What have you monsters done to her?"

"Calm yourself, Admiral."

She almost betrayed herself with her shock when she heard the new voice, one she hadn't heard for quite a while. She would never be able to forget that throaty rasp. Cancerman! But didn't Mulder say he'd been shot? And the other voice...

Damn you Mulder, she cursed silently. Even at your worst, you still have to be right, don't you? She didn't know if she hated Mulder for being right, or her friend for proving him right. The voice she'd recognized as that of Jeff Green continued to protest. She could feel the tears building behind her closed eyelids, threatening to expose her. Oh Jeff, what have you done?

"I've indulged your demands thus far, Admiral. Do not presume to overstep your bounds. You are here merely because I have allowed it. What we do with Dana Scully is no longer any concern of yours."

"Why you..."

"Really, Admiral. Such anger does not become a man in your position, especially towards your benefactors. Shouldn't you be more concerned about your son? We have kept our part of the bargain, have we not? Your son will be treated for his cancer."

"How? I haven't been allowed to see him since we were brought here. I want to see him now."

"I'm sure that can be arranged, Admiral. In a little while. In the meantime, I'd advise you to return to your quarters. Now, if you'll excuse me."

She heard the footsteps recede, then fade away. She almost opened her eyes when she felt a slight touch. She felt the fingers brushing her hair away from her face, then trail down her face.

"I'm so sorry, Dana."

She'd almost convinced herself that she would never again forget Mulder's old adage about trusting no one. And then Jeff had to go and screw it up. She was shocked at the wretched tone in his voice. It was one that belonged to a broken man.

"So very sorry. But I had to do it. They told me... they told me they could cure Jeremy. He's so young, Dana." He paused, almost chuckling to himself. "Of course, you've never seen him have you?" His hands trailed down to clasp her hands in his. "He's so beautiful. Did you know that, Dana? When he was happy, his face just lit up so." The voice held a distinctly wistful note. "He hasn't seen much in the way of happiness in so long. I swore I'd give him that once again, but dammit..."

She felt him squeeze her hand tightly. She almost gave herself away, but held off at the last moment.

"That god you believe in certainly has a cruel sense of humor, doesn't he?" Green snorted ruefully. "I mean, I've just made a deal with the devil, just so my son can live a while longer. Can you imagine a worse kind of justice? Sometimes life can be so unfair."

"Very unfair..."

Green almost jumped when he heard her soft voice. He looked at her face, shocked to see the twin tear tracks coursing down her cheeks.

"Oh god! Dana..." His face paled at the sight.

"Help me, Jeff," she whispered, straining against her restraints. "Get me out of here, please," she pleaded.

"I... I can't, Dana," he replied in a tortured voice. "God, I'm so sorry. But I just can't." Her tear filled visage was now mirrored on his face. "I have to think about Jeremy. I have to give him every chance at life."

"Jeff, please. Don't let them do this to me. Don't let them do this to you." She raised one hand as far as she could, trying to reach for him. She let it drop back down when he flinched away, turning his face away from her. "We can always find a cure for Jeremy. But do you really think you can live with this on your conscience?" she asked softly.

"Don't you think I've thought about that?" he almost screamed at her. "Don't you think I've tried every possible treatment for my boy? The doctors could do nothing to save Kyra," he hissed. "Nothing. Do you know..., god...," he broke off, almost crying. "Do you know what it feels like to see half of your soul disintegrate slowly before your very eyes? What it feels like when you can do nothing whatsoever to stop it? I couldn't let that happen again, not to Jeremy, not to my little boy."

He swallowed, then straightened up, almost as if he'd come to a decision. "Every fucking night my nightmares keep me awake, Dana. Every day I tear myself apart wondering if I made the right decision. I'm so sorry, but I'd do anything to have my boy back. Anything..." With that, he turned and strode away from her, not looking back once.

Behind him, the figure lying on the table closed her eyes again, desperately trying to staunch her tears. She hated Jeff for what he'd done to her, but worse still, she empathized with him. He was where Mulder had been almost a year ago. Desperate, and ready to do anything, including murder, or betrayal, to save a loved one. Was this what Mulder had had to go through? For her? Mulder had almost sold his soul to the cancerman in return for that chip. If that smoking bastard hadn't been shot, who knew where Mulder would be now. Probably filling Jeffrey Green's shoes, no doubt, she concluded. Just as she would if it had been Mulder in her place.

Blinking back the tears to clear her eyes, she glanced around. She appeared to be alone in the lab, but just to be on the safe side, she tried calling out softly. When no one answered, she tried once again to pull herself up, straining against her bonds. No luck, just as before, but she noticed that her left hand was slightly looser than it had been. Wriggling slowly, she tried to pull her hand out of the restraint. After a few minutes of fruitless struggle, she almost gave up, beads of perspiration dotting her forehead.

She lay there for what seemed like an eternity before a thought occurred to her. She'd seen it often enough both on TV and in real life. Besides, in her case it was certainly easier. She closed her left hand into a fist, her thumb surrounded by the other fingers. She bit her lip, softly moaning as the pressure increased. Squeezing harder, her teeth drew blood as she felt the crack. She almost cried out at the pain, but managed to squelch it with a grunt. She slowly opened her palm, her broken thumb dangling uselessly from her wrist.

She could feel the heat as her body frantically tried to repair the damage. Before the thumb straightened itself out, she gave a sharp tug. With a sickening crack from the already broken knuckle, her hand came free. She lay her head back, breathing heavily. When she felt the pain recede, she reached over and unsnapped the restraint on her other hand, then sat up to undo her feet. With trembling legs, she slid off the table, holding on to it for support as she righted herself. She was free!

She glanced around the room once again, her eyes taking in its size for the first time. She could now see the rows upon rows of tanks in the room, instead of just the three or four she could see before. Quickly making a decision, she moved towards the tanks. Many of them were unoccupied, and the ones that were, they contained people... clones... with faces she'd seen before. What had he said his name was? she frowned. Her face cleared as she remembered the name. Kurt Crawford. Mulder had mentioned meeting the other Crawford clones at the fertility center. This must have been what he'd seen, she realized. Looking up, she moved towards the tank she feared the most. Coming up beside it, she steeled herself before looking down at her doppelgänger.


Scanlon slid his card through the reader, waiting for it to acknowledge his presence before opening the door. He glanced at his watch as he walked inside. Past midnight, he noted as he walked towards the center of the room, pleased to see his newest patient still sleeping on the table.

He walked up beside her, pulling out his flashlight to examine her eyes again. He pulled back on the lids, satisfied at the vacant look in the eyes hidden behind them. That last shot really wore her out, he thought to himself. She would probably sleep till morning. Which is what I should be doing, he added, stifling a yawn.

He moved back towards the door, entering the small office there. He hung up his coat, then with a last look around the room, shut down the lights and exited the lab.

Behind him, a figure detached itself from behind the cabinets, moving out of the shadows. The light from the computers glinted off her red hair as she moved towards his coat. Reaching in, she found what she was looking for. She pulled out a magnetic card, slipping it into a pocket on the smock she'd found, then left the room quietly.

She didn't even spare a glance at the perversion of her body, now lying where she had been a scant hour ago.


Elsewhere
Wednesday, May 27, 1998
12:13 AM

The car came to a screeching halt about a hundred yards away from the fence. Quickly shifting into reverse, the figure behind the wheel backed away, then turned to the side of the road and into the jungle. Once behind the cover of the trees and the darkness, he got out, pulling out some of the underbrush in a crude attempt to hide the vehicle and its tracks from the road.

A few minutes later, he sat back to survey his handiwork. Satisfied, he took off in a quiet run towards the fence he'd seen earlier.

He almost ran into it in his haste. Coming close, he reached up to grasp it, intending to climb over it, when he heard a slight hum coming from it. Quickly stepping back, he found a small twig to throw at the fence. The small shower of sparks confirmed his suspicions. He pulled out his GPS receiver, squinting to see the readout in the pale light. He still had a few miles to go, past the fence.

Straining to hear anything out of the ordinary, he moved back towards the fence. With a nervous glance around, he jumped...

... and almost overshot his mark by a good 40 feet. His heart thudded in his chest as he looked down at the fence, and a good piece of jungle, from almost 50 feet in the air. With a gulp, he forced himself to calm down as he slowly descended on the other side. Once down, he darted into the cover of some nearby bushes, hoping desperately that he hadn't been discovered. Vowing to brush up on his flying skills once this whole thing was over, he glanced one more time at the receiver, then ambled towards the location now burnt into his mind.


Back at the lab
12:32 AM

It had now been almost an hour since she'd woken up. She'd tried following Scanlon, but he'd gone through a door beside the lab that required voice identification. Probably his sleeping area, she mused, moving past the door and down the corridor. The room she'd been held in and Scanlon's room had been at the far end. Now, turning the corner, she came up short against an elevator.

Not seeing a switch, she looked around until her eyes came to rest on the almost invisible slot next to the door. With a smile, she pulled out the card from her pocket and slid it in. She glanced around while she waited. The entire place seemed like a tomb, especially this late at night. It almost reminded her of the basement at the FBI when she and Mulder stayed late to finish up paperwork.

She snapped out of her reverie at the sound of the elevator chime. As soon as the door opened she slid inside. Looking at the floor readout, she almost smiled at the irony. She was currently in the upper basement level. Quickly sobering up as she remembered her situation, she glanced at the sparse number of choices she had in front of her. The lower basement was definitely out, as was the roof. The exit would be on one of the remaining two choices, either the first or the second floor. She pressed one.

She hoped she'd made the right choice as the door slid shut in her face.


Outside the compound
12:33 AM

Unfortunately, the GPS receiver had failed to mention that not only was the final location a few miles further in, but also at least a half mile above him. Still, he had to admit, he'd made good time.

He hovered a few feet below the edge of the road and against the side of the cliff, slowly rising up as he kept watch for any sign of life. Hearing and seeing nothing, he cautiously climbed over the railing and onto the road. He turned and looked down the way he'd flown, swallowing nervously at the steep drop. He thought that it was probably a good thing he'd not looked down while flying up.

Turning around, he crossed the road, coming up against the face of the mountain on the other side. With a sigh, he jumped up once again.

This time, he landed on what seemed like the edge of a small forest. The wall of trees loomed in the darkness just a few feet beyond where he stood. A glance at the receiver told him that he was just a little over a mile away from his goal. Cautiously, he made his way into the woods.

As expected, after about a mile, he saw the trees thinning out in front of him. Coming to the edge, he took cover behind a tree. He could make out the compound just a little under 500 yards away.

There was another fence around it. Beyond that, there appeared to be three buildings forming a triangle, with a massive fourth building right at the center. Behind the compound, the mountain rose again, its summit lost in the darkness, and probably the clouds as well, Mulder guessed.

The outer buildings seemed more like military barracks than anything else. And he was willing to bet that the entrance to the main building was teeming with security. Which left him with one choice. He checked the receiver one final time, getting the location readout as 450 yards away. Having made his decision, he got out from behind the bushes, running towards the fence. He hoped his choice of dark clothes and his speed would help him blend into the night as he easily vaulted the fence and headed in.

Halfway to the main building, he launched into the air once again, heading for the small ventilation grate he'd spotted earlier.


Inside the compound
12:34 AM

She wandered down the corridor, heading in what she hoped was the direction of the nearest exit. She turned the corner and came to a halt.

A dead end! Another locked door. All the ones she'd seen so far had required voice identification. She silently fumed, and almost turned back when she saw the small outline of a card slot. Just like the one next to the elevator. Crossing her fingers, she inserted the stolen cardkey in. With a soft sigh, the door in front of her slid open.

She stepped inside, moving quietly. Once past the door, she realized her error. Instead of a way out, she'd entered another lab. This one was similar to the one she'd been held in downstairs. Curious, she walked in further.

She came up to the nearest wall, her eyes sweeping across the canisters of green fluid lined up on the shelves there. She leaned closer, trying to read the small labels on the canisters. Her jaw dropped at what she read. What the... It couldn't be... She moved to the next one, her eyes widening at each successive label. Elizabeth Hagopian... Penelope Northern... Oh God! She almost cried out when she came to the ones at the end. Dana Scully. She froze in horror. Through the liquid, she could see embryos, floating. No, she amended, they were fetuses. The one in her canister just barely qualified as one, her clinical mind supplied automatically, estimating its developmental stage at somewhere between six to eight weeks. This room was some sort of incubation chamber, she realized. But what brought tears to her eyes were not the names on the labels, not even her own. Her eyes wandered to the line below the one that read, "Donor : Dana Scully."

To the line that read, "Emily II."

With trembling fingers, she reached out to touch the sides of the container. Not again! She could feel the tears as they fell. She let them. Pain burned inside her; her anger blazed white hot at the men who would perform such acts of atrocity for their own reasons. She heard Mulder's voice in her head, telling her about "genetic experiments being done," and about "children being created." Was this what she'd helped steal from the Fort Marlene facility during the incident when Deep Throat had been shot? She hadn't wanted to believe Mulder when he'd told her what he'd found in the retirement home in San Diego. But now, with the proof right in front of her eyes...

She stood staring at the canisters for what seemed like an eternity. With difficulty, she pulled herself away, moving beyond the shelves to the refrigeration units. Still reeling from her discovery, she pulled the doors open. The billowing smoke from the condensation cleared to reveal several rows of small drawers. She gasped as she realized what they were. She traced a finger along the labels until she came to one with her name on it. Taking a breath, she slowly pulled it open, uttering an involuntary, "Oh, God!" at what she found. She reached in to pull out the vial that lay inside. Her ova! She glanced at the names on the other cells, noting those of the Allentown women, interspersed among others she didn't know.

She gripped the vial tightly, moving back to close the drawer and shut the doors. She looked down at the thin tube she held in her hand. Another version of immortality, one she wouldn't ever get to experience. She closed her eyes as she stepped back, almost stumbling before she came to rest against a desk. She put a hand behind her, steadying herself. She stood there, taking in deep breaths as she strove to understand what she'd seen.

But she couldn't, dammit! How could she? They had taken something that had been uniquely hers, something to be cherished, and perverted it for their own goals. How could she reconcile that with her notions of justice? How dare they...? What right did they have...? She couldn't complete her thought, her body trembling with rage. She bit her lip to keep from crying out, to keep from giving in to the urge to let it all out right then and there.

She didn't even look up when she heard the footsteps enter the lab. She knew, somewhere in the recesses of her mind, that she had to take cover. But, in her present state of mind, she couldn't bring herself to care enough. All she could see were the floating fetuses... thousands of them, pleading with her to set them free, to save them.

"What the hell! What are you doing in here?"

Her head snapped up. She saw the man in the lab coat run towards the wall, his hands punching the intercom.

"Security, intruder alert! Security to lab one. I repeat, intruder alert! Intruder... uhh..."

Before she could move, she saw the dark shape fall out of the ventilation grate in the ceiling and land behind the man. She watched as the lab tech's eyes rolled back in his head as he slowly slumped to the floor. Behind him stood a sight she had not thought she would ever see again.

"Oh, Mulder..." The crack in her voice betrayed her happiness at seeing him, coupled with the horror and sadness at her discoveries. She slowly took a step towards him.

"Scully..." The soft whisper conveyed words, thoughts, beyond measure. He stepped over the prone body in front of him, walking towards the other half of his soul. Coming up next to her, he pulled her into a hug.

So tight, she thought, don't let go, Mulder. Don't ever let go.

"Never, Scully. Never again." His hoarse voice washed over her as she realized she'd spoken her thoughts aloud. He pulled out of the hug, his hands coming up to cup her cheeks. He raised her eyes to his, his own tears starting to flow at the sight of hers. He rained delicate kisses on her forehead, her eyes, his lips trying to capture every drop of moisture on her face.

"I'm so sorry, Scully. I was so stupid. I love you so much. You are my soul, Scully. My other half. Without you..."

"Shh...," she placed a finger to his lips. "Just hold me, Mulder." She burrowed further into his chest, her tears soaking his shirt. "I'm sorry too, Mulder. What I said was... I never meant..."

He silenced her with a sudden kiss, cutting off her attempt at an apology. "Much as I'd love to do this right now, Scully, we'll have to take a raincheck on the mutual confessions and apologies." He glanced back at the body lying behind him. "Security will be here any minute now. We have to get out of here."

"No."

He'd already turned away, headed towards the door, when the one word from his partner stopped him in his tracks. He whirled around to face her. "Scully..."

His words were cut off as she grabbed his hand, dragging him towards the canisters. Anything else he might have wanted to say died on his lips as he saw the incubation tanks. She felt his gasp when he came to the one... hers... He reached out a trembling hand, gently caressing the outside of the glass. He turned towards Scully, his eyes filled with sorrow and pain, his mouth opening and closing a few times before he could get the words out. "I'm so sorry, Scully. I never... Oh, god! What have they done? What are we..." He saw the look on her face. His voice dropped to a whisper. "What do you want to do, Scully?"

She swallowed a few times, trying to get the courage to tell him what she wanted. "We... we have to...," she broke off with a choked sob, a hand tightly grasping Mulder's. She felt his hand squeezing back, assuring her of his presence, his comfort, his support. She took a deep breath, then, "We have to kill them, Mulder." He could almost feel her heart breaking as she continued, "If they are anything like Emily... We... I... I can't allow them to be, Mulder. Not again. They don't deserve to live like that. They don't deserve to be used, to die like that."

"Can you do it?"

She blinked, surprised at the matter-of-fact tone in his voice. She looked up into his eyes, and realized something. He had to do this. He had to distance himself from this, else he would succumb to his grief. Just like she would if she wasn't careful. There would be time to grieve later. For now... she bit her lip, then nodded.

He nodded in reply, then jerked his head up. "Someone's coming. Probably in search of the intruder. I'll distract them. Will you be all right?" Will you be safe? his eyes asked silently. More importantly, are you okay with this?

"Yes," she replied, answering both his questions at once. She saw that he still seemed hesitant to leave her. She whispered one word, "Go," then resolutely turned to face the task she'd set for herself.


"All the preliminary tests are done, sir. We're ready to move the boy anytime."

He looked at the screen in front of him, the cigarette smoke whirling around his head. "Good," he rasped. "I'll be expecting a report tomorrow afternoon."

"What about the father, sir? He's still here. Do you want him to go along with the boy?"

"No. Send him to his quarters before you start the transfer. I have something else in mind for him."

The man on the screen nodded, then turned away, breaking the connection.

He sat back, but before he could bring the cigarette back to his mouth, his attention was diverted by the blinking red light on the console. He turned on the speaker, frowning as he heard the words, "Intruder alert."

She couldn't have... He flicked on a switch, bringing the monitor in the basement lab to life. He allowed himself a sigh of relief when he saw the woman still strapped down on the examining table. But if not her, then... Of course. He should have known. He got up and turned towards the door.


Mulder saw her turn away and move towards the chemicals on the other side of the lab. Taking a deep breath, he turned and headed out the doors. Turning the corner, he'd barely gone halfway down the corridor when he ran into the squad of guards.

As soon as he saw them, he moved, his figure almost blurring with speed as he crashed into them. Silently, but efficiently, he disarmed all five soldiers, rendering each one unconscious. He was just beyond the range of Scully's quickening when he felt another immortal, moving towards him. Even with Scully's final warning about the presence of an immortal in the building, he was still shaken that one of them would be a part of the consortium. He looked down the corridor, then back the way he'd come. If he went back to the lab, the immortal would surely catch up with them before Scully was finished. Making a decision, he stood above the guards, his hand reaching for the sword hidden in his coat as he waited for the immortal to come to him.

"It's somewhat ironic, I think, that you would die your first death in my absence, yet you consider me your greatest enemy. Wouldn't you agree, Agent Mulder?"

If Mulder thought the presence of an immortal in the consortium was surprising, the identity of the immortal knocked him speechless. But then, he had survived the shooting, hadn't he? He watched as the cancerman walked up to him, the ever-present cigarette clutched between his fingers.

"You...," Mulder allowed the breathless whisper to escape. The moment of surprise was all he allowed himself as a blank expression settled on his face. His eyes narrowed as he got a tighter grip on his weapon. "I suppose it's no use hoping that you'll keel over from lung cancer anytime soon." Before Mulder could unsheathe his sword, the other pulled out a gun, aiming it squarely at his chest. "What's the matter? Scared now that I've got something that can actually kill you?"

The taunt simply served to add a smile on his opponent's face, one that sent chills down his spine.

"Do you know how long I've looked forward to this day, Agent Mulder? I'm not about to jeopardize it by taking unnecessary risks. This...," he said, nodding at the gun, "is just a simple precaution. Now, if you'll be so kind as to walk this way..."

He stepped back against the wall, his gun following Mulder as the agent walked past him. Away from the lab, Mulder noted in relief. "Where are we going?" Mulder asked as they came up to the elevator.

"Somewhere where I hope I can convince you...," he trailed off as they stepped into the elevator.

"Convince me of what?"

"I think I'll let the evidence speak for itself."

The elevator stopped on the second floor, the doors opening to reveal a short corridor into... Mulder stepped out, his eyes roaming around the area in awe. The entire second floor was one huge room, the ceiling almost lost in the darkness above him. The center of the room was occupied with what seemed like an immense hole. It had to have been at least a hundred feet in diameter. Suspended above the hole, an intricate network of electronics and cables gleamed in the artificial light. Looking around, Mulder could see the array of sensors and monitors that adorned the walls of the room. Just walking in, he could feel the power that thrummed under the floor beneath his feet.

"Impressed yet, Mulder?"

"What... what is this place?" he whispered, tearing his gaze away from the room to focus on his longtime adversary.

"Your truth, Agent Mulder. That which you've been searching for your entire life. Proof."

"Proof?" Mulder turned to follow the cancerman as he walked past the agent and towards the center of the room.

"Proof, Agent Mulder." He paused, his voice lowering into an excited whisper. "Of extraterrestrial life." He walked to the railing around the hole, turning and beckoning Mulder to his side. "What do you know about the 1947 Roswell incident, Mulder?"

An eyebrow went up, even as the eyes narrowed in distrust. After being lied to and deceived so many times, he'd grown almost ambivalent about this particular topic. "Supposedly, a UFO crashed there, and the government covered it up. From some of the things I've seen, I assumed the event actually did take place. That is, until I spoke with Kritschgau."

"Ah yes, Michael Kritschgau." A slow smile settled once again on the cancerman's weathered face. "An excellent piece of disinformation, even if I do say so myself. When I concocted the story he fed you, I never thought the others in the consortium would use it against you. I tried to tell you, if you remember, that his story was nothing but lies. And that, Agent Mulder," he said, waving his hand around to encompass the hole in the center of the room, "is the truth. A large scale replica of the engine from the Roswell UFO."

He turned to face Mulder, an almost manic gleam in his eyes. "It's a deuterium based fusion reactor, Mulder. Alien technology. Would you believe that this single piece of equipment could power this entire compound for the next hundred years without refueling? That the original engine could, and has, powered craft at speeds close to a quarter light speed? Think of it! Anywhere in the solar system in less than a day. Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the power that would belong to the ones who possessed this technology."

"Power. It always comes down to that, doesn't it?" Mulder let out a derisive snort, shaking his head. "Besides, from what I've seen, you haven't exactly gotten this technology to work properly, have you?"

The cigarette man let out a sigh. "You are right about that. Unfortunately, before we could examine the alien craft more thoroughly, they managed to escape." He raised his head, aiming a glare at Mulder when the agent laughed at his admission. "The alien craft somehow used an inertia dampening system to reduce the effects of acceleration, and some form of advanced force field technology to contain the radiation. The radiation's the reason the reaction chamber is buried almost a half mile down that hole."

"What about the planes? The pilots? How do you protect th..." Mulder trailed off, the answer obvious. "Of course. Ellens, and the other planes..." Memories of one of his first cases with Scully, images of pilots with what were probably radiation burns flitted across his mind. "You don't tell them about the dangers, do you?" he asked, horrified. "Is that why even military test pilots die from testing these planes? From the acceleration? From the radiation?"

"For every step forward, Agent Mulder, sacrifices must be made. Those men gave their lives to further the project. They were nothing but a means to an end."

"You bastard," Mulder spit out. "You would let people die, just like that? How can you call yourself human?"

"I am not... human...," he replied, his face conveying the impression that saying the word was somehow distasteful. "I am immortal. The end result of millennia of evolution. Mortals are but experiments of nature, trying to perfect the immortal genome." He paused, taking a puff from his cigarette before continuing.

"You don't believe me, do you? I can see the doubt in your face." He took a step toward Mulder, his grip tightening on the gun he still held against the agent. "I want to assure my place in history, Agent Mulder. If this is the way, then so be it. I have no wish to die in the Game. And if you were smart, you'd realize that. I offered you the chance to join me once before. The offer still holds." He paused, his face turning thoughtful as he considered his next words. "You are an immortal, Fox Mulder. You are as far above mortals as they are above dogs. And with the information that I need, that I'm going to get from your partner, we will be invincible. No one, immortal or mortal, would dare stand in our way. What do you say, Mulder?"

"And who are you going to get to replace me in the FBI? Another pre-immortal, like I was? That idiot, Spender? Don't think I didn't see you talking to him in that hospital garage. And what information are you talking about? What have you done to Scully?"

The smoker blinked, a thread of suspicion running through him. Something was not right; he could almost feel it. But he couldn't quite put his finger on what it might be. There was just something about Mulder's reaction that seemed out of place. Shaking his head, he pushed the nagging feeling to the back of his mind. "Despite the various stories you may have heard, Agent Mulder, there have been only a handful of alien visitations to this planet of ours. The one in 1947, the meteor carrying the black oil organisms, and a few others including the one you ran into in Chicago."

Mulder sucked in a breath as he recalled the case that had almost sent him into a mental institution a couple of weeks before.

The cancerman let out a small laugh as he noticed his reaction. "Oh yes. We finally managed to catch up with it in Missouri, after tracking it for almost ten years. All thanks to you, Agent Mulder. But, getting back to what I was saying...," he trailed off, walking away from Mulder and around the central opening. His hands brushed the railing as he stared down the hole.

"We managed to get samples of DNA from the aliens, Mulder. You've seen the effects of grafting this DNA onto immortal genes, haven't you? The bounty hunter clone was our greatest success. A shape shifting ability combined with an immortal's invincibility. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to do anything to remove the vertebral vulnerability or the relatively short lifespans of these clones. Now do you see why we need your partner, Agent Mulder?"

"I still have no idea what you are talking about." Mulder reached into his coat again, fingering his sword. The action seemed to pull the other man out of whatever train of thought he'd been immersed in.

He shook the gun at Mulder, indicating that the agent keep his hands at his side. "Dr. Ishimaru, the man you knew as Shiro Zama, helped me perfect the results of the DNA hybridization. We had one success, albeit a horribly disfigured specimen, and he immediately stole the result. Of course, I immediately had him killed. I never did figure out why the man I sent didn't save the experiment. He said he'd gotten there too late. Apparently, not too late to save you from the bomb though. I thought the results of the experiment were lost forever. Little did I know Agent Scully's procedure actually worked. My one true success."

Mulder sucked in a breath. "The branched DNA," he whispered, "it was from the hybridization. You grafted immortal DNA onto her own, didn't you?"

"Now you understand. Yes. We exploited her inherent tendency for immortality, gave it a boost, so to speak. None of the other women we tried the procedure on survived. If we could just figure out how your partner did, we could then replicate it in our clones. Think of it, Mulder. The secret to eternal life. An army of soldiers who cannot die, loyal to no one but me... us. Our current hybrids are invincible, and we can grow them to whatever age we want, but they never survive for more than a few years after incubation. You saw the result with Agent Scully's daughter..."

"How can you be so callous, you son of a bitch?" Mulder screamed, cutting him off. "Don't you feel even a shred of regret at what you've done? How dare you presume to act as god with these people's lives? What gives you and the consortium the right..."

"Careful, Agent Mulder. Before I reconsider my decision to ask you to join me. A conscience is not an asset in this line of work, and you'd be well advised to remember that. And no one else in the consortium knows about immortals. They are merely a tool for me, for us. Once I have the secret of immortality, they will go the way of all the other mortals who've stood in my way."

"Like my father?" Mulder hissed. "I suppose he stood in your way too? Like Scully's sister?"

"Oh come now. Surely you don't believe he was your real father? Don't you know about immortals, Mulder? No family, remember? I placed you and Samantha with your parents, but yes. Bill Mulder was nothing more than another tool, discarded when he tried to betray me. As for Ms. Scully's sister, that was simply an unfortunate accident. My men were supposed to scare your partner, not try to kill her, and certainly not kill her sister." He paused, almost as if he were trying to draw out his next words. "Join me, Agent Mulder. Join me, and I'll return your partner to you once we're done with her."

"What about my sister? What about Samantha?" There was a desperate note in Mulder's voice that had been absent before. "Will you return her as well? Was that really her in that diner?"

The other man grew silent, his eyes narrowing at Mulder's question. The feeling of wrongness grew. Mulder's reaction to his news about Dana Scully was totally different from what he'd expected. It almost seemed as if he didn't care that she'd been taken again. Had they had some sort of falling out? But, if he didn't care for her, a small possibility considering their relationship over the last few years, why would he have come here, gone through so much trouble to find her?

After the incident with the first Samantha clone, he'd figured that Mulder's partner had become almost as important to the agent as his sister, if not more. Which made his current attitude all the more incongruous. He considered his response to Mulder's question. The agent had seemed almost indifferent to Scully's second abduction. If he was simply putting up a false front, maybe what he needed was another shock to break him. And if he really didn't care, then he had as good as joined his agenda anyway. He wondered whether the truth about his sister would shake him up more, or a lie. Taking a breath, he made his decision.

"She's dead." He paused at the strangled cry that escaped the agent's mouth as he staggered back. He saw the color drain from Mulder's face as he clutched the railing, his knuckles turning white from the strength of his grip. Another push, and he'd surely go over. "She's been dead for almost 20 years, although she lived long enough to supply us with the raw material for her clones. You've been chasing a ghost all this time, Mulder," he went on, his voice almost taunting. He watched the transformation on the agent's face with fascination. In the span of a few seconds, expressions ranging from disbelief, horror, anger and hurt raced across Mulder's face. When it finally settled into a mask devoid of emotion, he started to feel the first niggling strands of doubt. When Mulder reached in to pull out his sword, the doubt solidified into realization. He'd gone too far.

"I am Fox Mulder," the words came out, soft yet laced with anger and pain. "And you are hereby challenged," Mulder whispered quietly, drawing his sword.

The smoker raised his gun, pointing it unwaveringly at his opponent's chest. "After all I've done for you, this is the thanks I get? I made you what you are, Mulder. How sharper than a serpent's tooth..."

"You are about to find out," Mulder spat out as he lunged forward. He didn't flinch at the report as the gun went off. He barely felt the bullet lodge within his body as he easily knocked the weapon out of his tormentor's hand.

The cancerman staggered back, shaking his hand to get the feeling back in it. Standing up, he watched in surprise as Mulder came towards him, obviously unscathed. He couldn't have missed, could he? Not at this range. He reached into his coat to pull out his own sword. "I am sorry you feel that way, Agent Mulder. We would have made a great team. However..." He pulled the sword into a defensive stance, waiting for the first strike. "David Williams, and I accept your challenge."

When it came, he was still unprepared for the ferocity of the attack. He could tell that Mulder was still in the grip of a tremendous rage, the clumsiness of the lunge clear proof of that. But the agent more than made up for his inefficiency with speed and power. For the first time in more than a century, the man whose real name had long since been forgotten felt the faint stirrings of panic.

Turning around to face his opponent again, Mulder uttered a cry as he raced forward once more. Their blades met with a resounding clash, sparks flying off where steel met steel. Despite his agility and superior strength, Mulder felt himself slowly losing ground as his hated enemy slowly pushed him back, away from the center of the room. He knew what lay behind him, the bank of controls, arranged in a small semicircle. If he was pushed back that far, he would be trapped, his movements restricted. Taking control of his rage, he tried to remember what both Duncan and Connor had drilled into him since his crossover. He felt a sense of calm overtake him as he distanced himself from his turbulent thoughts. With an almost elegant grace, he pulled up his sword to meet his opponent's onslaught.

The machinery in the room cast an almost eerie glow on the two men as they battled. Mulder pressed forward, swinging his blade as he tried to press his advantage, but the older man effortlessly blocked his swings, his moves tempered by experience. Any ground Mulder gained, he immediately lost as the other pushed him relentlessly back towards the corner. With a desperate cry, Mulder ducked a lethal swing, then pulled his sword up, aiming for his opponent's torso.

The sword swung across empty air, and Mulder immediately knew he'd made a mistake. He instinctively pushed himself back, but not before he felt the other's sword rake across his face. If he'd been a fraction of a second slower, he would have lost his head. As it was, he knew he'd been hurt bad when he felt his entire face on fire. Worse, the sword had cut across his eyes, effectively blinding him as the blood coursed down his face. He blinked trying to clear his vision, his sword moving up to meet the other's swing almost on instinct. The swords met, the blades caught, and with a tug, Mulder's blade was pushed away. He barely managed to keep his hand around its hilt when he felt it.

Agony.

Or hell. That was how he'd describe it. He felt the steel as it slid through his stomach, and he could almost imagine it sticking out of his back. He threw his head back and screamed. His muscles spasmed around the unwelcome intruder as his body tried desperately to repair itself. He felt his face transforming, his fangs sliding out almost involuntarily, even as he knew his eyes had taken on an unearthly hue. He opened his eyes, trying again to clear them, but to no avail. He decided to keep them shut, straining instead with his other senses as he tried to pinpoint his location within the room.

His opponent was taken aback, the blood draining from his face. His hand on the sword still embedded in Mulder's body, he simply stood there, his mouth agape. "What the hell are you, Mulder?" he whispered hoarsely.

"The stuff your worst nightmares are made of," Mulder spat at him, tightening his grip on his weapon. With a yell, he pushed forward, unmindful of the sword running through him. His body slid up the blade, coming to rest up against its hilt. When the blade ran out, he kept pushing, moving them both towards the center of the room. Still blind, he felt them both come to rest against the railing. He pressed forward, jamming the hilt between his body and his enemy's, preventing the other from pulling out his sword.

"There can be..." Mulder tightened his grip on his own sword, raising it above his head. His eyes still closed, he moved his other hand up. "... only one," he finished, bringing the sword down in a double handed overhead stroke. He felt the rush of air as the blade swung. He felt the cancerman still trying to disengage his sword, and he thought he felt him raise his other hand in a futile effort to ward off the inevitable. Mulder felt his sword catch slightly as it cut through flesh and bone, swinging across, then down to his side. He felt a tickling sensation as the sword slid out of him, pulled out by his opponent as his body fell back.

Mulder staggered back, his strength spent. He raised a trembling hand to his face, wiping it clean and finally managing to open one relatively undamaged eye. He frowned, one hand over the other eye as he scanned the deserted room. His face cleared as he realized what had happened. He stepped forward, leaning against the railing as he looked down the hole. He thought he saw something, a faint glow perhaps, but he couldn't be sure. Suddenly he saw the faint crackle of electricity, arcing across the walls of the shaft an almost impossible distance away. The cancerman had said that the hole was almost a half a mile deep. Mulder allowed himself to feel a perverse sense of satisfaction at the idea that he wouldn't be saddled with the black lunged bastard's quickening. Not at this distance, anyway.

His head shot up when he saw the room darken. He looked around, taking in the sight as console after console abruptly darkened. The blackout swept across the room, and before long he became aware of a slight increase in the ever-present rumbling beneath his feet. He felt the tremors increase in strength, and he cast his eyes back down. As he watched, he saw the glow in the shaft brighten, slowly increasing in intensity. The shaking was threatening to shake him off his feet now. All around him, pieces of equipment crashed to the ground, electrical sparks and shorts running rampant as several of the consoles exploded. He sucked in a breath as he remembered exactly what was down the shaft, and the probable effect of any kind of disturbance on said equipment. He thought he saw something moving up the hole, and when he finally made out what it was, his eye widened in horror.

Below him, a wall of flame moved up the shaft, the terrible brightness consuming the oxygen in the hole at an incredible rate. Mulder had barely a second to step back before it erupted, flames leaping out of the shaft in a grotesque recreation of his very own private armageddon. That was the last thought running through his mind as the fire enveloped his body, the force of the blast enough to propel his charred and broken carcass across the room. He felt the incredible pain as layers upon layers of skin were simply seared off before the nerve endings were mercifully cauterized. He saw more than felt his eyeballs burst, the vivid red the last thing his brain processed before the severed optic nerves broke the connection to his eyes. He could feel his bones grinding against one another, bending in horribly wrong directions before breaking under the strain. But he barely felt the pain, his nerves already deadened to it, and didn't even have the time to realize it as his body first lost consciousness, then life.


1:25 AM

She looked through the computer one last time, her finger trailing across the screen as she read off the chart line by line until she came to her own.

Scully, DK 13.10.94
02/08/67.0
NUC, RBC
Fetus: Emily
status: hybrid - donor samples S222-7.7.47, I171-27.9.73
life expectancy: 3 years, terminated
Fetus: Emily II
status: hybrid - donor samples S223-7.7.47, I171-27.9.73
life expectancy: 5 years
Ova:
status: hybrid - donor samples S226-7.7.47, I171-27.9.73
count: 2400 viable

She bit her lip, the words blurring in front of her eyes. It took her a few seconds to realize that the reason was the tears starting to flow down her face rather than any shortcoming on the part of the computer monitor. Dammit, she'd resolved to hold her emotions in check until this thing was over and done with. She'd already cried far too much the last few days, but there was only so much hurt a human psyche, albeit an immortal one, could take before it started to break down. She'd been hoping against hope that perhaps some of her ova at least could have been salvaged. Unfortunately, all of hers and the others' had been hybridized.

She'd already destroyed the incubation tanks, taking care to add enough cyanide to kill the fetuses, quickly and painlessly. She'd also raised the temperature on the refrigeration units until all the ova became unviable. All that was left was the vial of her own ova that she'd retrieved earlier. She looked down at it, her fingers stroking it as she thought about the possibilities that could now never be. Swallowing back a choked sob, she undid the clasp and pulled out the cap. She reached over to the solution she'd prepared earlier from the supplies she'd found in the lab. Picking up the dropper, she allowed a couple of drops to fall in, feeling like a murderer even as she watched the solution in the vial grow murky.

She had barely finished when she saw the monitor turn off. She looked up just in time to see the lights in the lab flicker, then die down. A few seconds later, the emergency lighting came online, bathing the room in dim orange light. At the same time, she felt the rumble beneath her feet. She jumped out of the chair, moving against a wall as she felt the entire room start to shake. She glanced around, watching in shock as several of the incubation canisters fell off their shelves. One after another, they fell, the sounds of glass shattering echoing around the empty lab. Across the room, several monitors and consoles burst into flame, even as the floor beneath her threatened to push her off her feet.

She barely had the time to wonder if this area was prone to earthquakes when she felt the floor tilt beneath her. The vial fell from her hand, shattering against the hard tiles. She looked up to see an entire section of the wall buckle, then lean towards her. The last thing she saw was the widening crack along the wall as pieces of both it and the ceiling fell on her.


1:37 AM

She came to with a gasp, realizing immediately that she'd only been knocked unconscious. Her eyes flew open, taking in her surroundings. Amid the irregular strobes of orange light, she could barely make out the pieces of ceiling that lay atop her small frame, propped against each other, providing a sort of crude overhang. It had protected her from all the other debris that she could see once she dragged herself out from under it.

She stood on shaky legs, turning around to survey the damage. Her eyes widened as she looked up. This was the first floor, with at least one more above her. Yet she could see the stars shining above her head. Her jaw dropped. Whatever had happened, the entire second floor of the building now occupied the same space as the first. Looking around, she stepped over various pieces of debris, giving the room a final once over before heading out into the corridor. She had one thought in her head. To find Mulder.

Having decided to retrace her steps to the elevator, she was halfway down the corridor when she heard the faint groans. She froze, her eyes darting every which way, painfully aware that she was weaponless should someone decide to pose a threat. When she heard the pain that laced the next groan, she turned, moving towards the sound. A few doors down on her left, she paused. When she heard it again, she made up her mind. With a grunt she threw herself against the door, easily breaking it open now that most of its supports had given way. She stumbled in, then stopped at the sight that greeted her.

On the ground in front of her, a bruised and battered Jeffrey Green lay under what looked like an entire section of the outer wall. Uttering a small cry, Scully rushed forward, kneeling beside the inert form. She dug her fingers under the block of concrete, desperately trying to raise it. She stopped when she felt the faint brush of his fingers across her wrist. She looked down, watching his eyes flutter open as his mouth started to move.

"I'm so sorry, Dana. For everything..."

She could barely hear his faint whisper. She pressed two fingers against his throat, feeling the thready pulse there. "Don't you dare die on me Jeff," Scully pleaded frantically. "Let me just get this thing off. You'll be fine. You still owe me that lasagna recipe, remember?"

The shattered mouth stretched in a grotesque imitation of a smile, then went limp. "Too late...," he breathed, then coughed, blood spilling out of his mouth. "I just wish..." He was interrupted by another bout of coughing. Scully could easily make out the sound of the fluid that was rapidly seeping into his lungs. "... Jeremy..." The one word came out in a whisper as his body finally stilled.

"JEFF!" she screamed, her fingers trying to find a pulse without success. Not again! she cried to herself. Not someone else I care for. How many more? she railed against a god she had difficulty believing in at the moment. She wiped her eyes, then slid a hand over his face, closing his eyes. Hanging her head, she stood back up, turning to leave the way she'd come. Surveying the damage, she knew that there could be no way little Jeremy had survived this. She resolutely moved towards the center of the complex, still trying to find Mulder.

She paused at the end of the corridor, gaping at the amount of damage in this section of the building. Here, nothing was left standing except for a few walls. But the piles of debris more than made up for the lack of obstacles in her path. Absently scratching her hands, she moved around the pieces of rubble. When she felt the itch start up all over her body, she paused, frowning. She looked down at her hands, her eyes widening in shock at what she saw. She immediately recognized the signs... radiation poisoning. What exactly had happened here?

Ignoring the itch for now, she walked towards where most of the wreckage lay. With their luck... Her intuition paid off, her eyes catching a glimpse of a hand jutting out from beneath a mountain of debris. She looked around for something to pry the rubble off. Picking up a piece of railing, she hooked it under a piece of concrete, managing to lever it off the body underneath. She gasped in horror at the sight in front of her.

She almost had trouble recognizing the body as Mulder's. Most of his face and body had been burned off, his limbs occupying positions unattainable by the human form. She knelt down beside him, lifting his hand and caressing it gently. Her head jerked up when she heard the noise. She looked up, just able to make out the faint outline of a helicopter in the distance, silhouetted against the moon.

She looked back down. Finding his sword not too far away, she tucked it within what was left of his coat. She briefly wondered at the identity of the other immortal that Mulder must have fought with. And won, thank god, she silently added with relief. "Sorry about this, Mulder," she muttered, then grabbed his hands and pulled up. Standing up, she placed one of his hands across her shoulder, then dragged him as she moved down the corridor to where she'd seen a possible exit. Reaching the hole in the building's outer wall, she managed to pull Mulder through it and out onto the compound ground. She tried to remember what Mulder had told her about the layout of the place, but gave it up when she saw that she couldn't make out anything in the darkness. Wherever the chopper was coming from, they hadn't been here when the explosion had occurred. The entire compound, what she could make out of it anyway, was now a total loss, and she was sure that other than herself and Mulder, not one person had survived.

She could barely make out the outline of some woods in the distance, and decided to head for them. She trudged across open ground for what seemed like an eternity after climbing through a gaping hole in the perimeter fence, dragging Mulder's dead weight behind her. She almost let out a hysterical laugh at the appropriateness of calling his body dead weight, then sobered when she heard the noise from the helicopter come closer. She'd barely made it to the woods when she saw the bright searchlight play across the compound and its surroundings. She saw the light move in her direction. Protected though she was by the overhang of trees, she still let out a breath of relief when it veered off just a few feet shy of the two agents.

Quickly turning around, she pulled Mulder deeper into the woods, hoping to find a method of escape on the other side. It was slow going until she noted the thinning trees as she came to the opposite edge, then almost let out a cry as she froze at the steep drop just past it. Another couple of steps and she'd surely have gone over. She backed up to behind the tree line, trying to figure a way out. She couldn't carry Mulder much farther, his body already weighing her down, tiring her. As it was, every muscle in her body complained at the abuse she was putting them through. And, for all intents and purposes, Fox Mulder had yet to rejoin the land of the living.

She let Mulder slide down to the ground, then bent down, hands on her knees as she drew in several deep breaths. The sound of her breathing seemed almost deafening in the silence. Suddenly she realized that she couldn't hear the helicopter anymore. That meant two possibilities. Either they had landed, an unlikely possibility considering the evidence of the explosion, especially if they knew about the radiation. Or, more likely, they had gone for reinforcements, which meant that soon the entire area would be crawling with men in radiation suits, and resources better equipped to investigate the explosion. And search for survivors, the voice at the back of her mind needlessly echoed. She was running out of time.

She glanced back down at Mulder's prone body, and came to a decision. She remembered something Natalie had mentioned back in Seattle. The topic had come up in idle conversation, but she was quickly running out of ideas. Taking a breath, she kneeled beside Mulder, reaching in to pull out his sword. She held it over her wrist, her fingers trembling over the hilt. Closing her eyes, she gritted her teeth as she pulled the sword across her hand. She flinched at the sharp pain as she severed the veins in her wrist. Quickly, she put the sword aside, pulling down on Mulder's jaw, laying her wrist against it. She watched as drop after precious drop fell into his mouth.

After a few seconds, she felt the wound close up. She placed two fingers against Mulder's throat, feeling for a pulse without success. With a sigh, she repeated the procedure. Her wrist brushed against Mulder's lips, this time sending an almost electric tingle up her arm. She felt a faint warmth against her hand, a faint tingle as she felt the field of his quickening brush against hers. Looking down, she saw the dry and cracked lips part slightly, allowing the liquid to flow through. Her eyes widened in shock as she watched the fangs slide down from their sheath. His mouth moved forward, his teeth latching onto the open wound, sucking greedily.

She felt the sensations coursing through her, her body almost shutting itself down at the incredible feelings it felt. She threw her head back, her eyes closed tight, her teeth biting down hard on her lower lip to keep from screaming. As it was, she couldn't hold back the moan that escaped her lips.

Ohhhhh!!! GOD!!! The hunger. Unimaginable pleasure. Unbearable pain. Sheer ecstasy warring against stark terror. A fire in her, reaching from the tip of her toes to the roots of her hair. The doctor in her mentally cataloged a possible toxin in Mulder's saliva, some sort of endorphin or other peptide hormone, triggering the opiate receptors in her brain. The rest of her threatened to fall into a delirium of ecstasy.

But all this was eclipsed by the one feeling that shot through her, striking her to the very core of her being. She felt his essence, enveloping her, cocooning her within itself. She felt the depth of his love, sweeping through her body, causing her to almost cry out at the intensity of the emotion. She knew he loved her. She believed it with every breath of her being. But if this was what he felt, she wondered how he withstood it every moment of every day. How had he survived for five years, so close to her, yet standing across an unreachable chasm for all intents and purposes? She shuddered at the loneliness he must have felt all his life, being denied someone to share his heart, his very soul with. Suddenly she felt almost ashamed of her actions. Not that Mulder didn't share some of the blame for their behavior the past week. But she could only imagine the kind of torture he must have gone through when he'd left her apartment.

She made a silent vow to herself never to let that happen ever again. Never to let it get this bad. She wasn't sure Mulder would survive it. And she wasn't entirely sure she'd survive his loss either. Two beings, two lives, so intricately interwoven with each other. Almost inconceivable in its terrible beauty. Ironic that a god that could create monsters that killed and destroyed lives with such impunity could also create something so wonderful. Ironic, yet somehow infinitely appropriate.

SCULLY!!! The scream tore through the haze surrounding her. Her eyes snapped open, her hand automatically reaching for his mouth in an attempt to quiet him. She was already feeling somewhat lightheaded from the blood loss. The fog lifted as she realized that his mouth was still closed around her wrist. She frowned. He hadn't screamed, but she'd heard him, hadn't she? She certainly recognized his voice. She saw his eyes blink once, again, then almost recoiled at the angry red that seemed to light up his face in an ethereal glow. She reached forward to disengage herself from his mouth.

"Mulder," she whispered, even the low volume not quite able to keep the tremors out of her voice. She could still feel the intense emotions coursing through her, emotions that she was hard pressed to keep under control. She tried to pry apart his jaw, but she could hardly keep her eyes open. Damn! Natalie had warned her about this, about the hunger, but she'd thought she could control him. Obviously she hadn't been able to. This wasn't an experience she'd forget anytime soon, she thought as she lost the struggle to stay conscious.


Thirst! That was the first thing she was aware of when she opened her eyes. It was still dark, and she had no idea how long she had been unconscious. She felt a slight movement next to her, and realized that the tickling sensation she was feeling was Mulder's arm slung across her stomach. Licking her lips in an attempt to wet her mouth, she managed to find her voice enough to whisper a faint, "Mulder?"

She felt the body beside her stir, felt the arm tighten, pulling her closer. With a regretful sigh, she pulled herself loose, immediately feeling a sense of loss as she left his embrace. She saw Mulder lying beside her, his eyes closed. His body seemed to have healed a little, the horrible burns not as visible now as they had been before. But he was still a sight, flaked and burnt areas still evident as they formed a patchwork across his body. She delicately ran a hand over his face, thankful that it had almost returned to some semblance of his former visage. Most of the hair on his face had been singed off, and what remained on his head looked like someone had taken a weed whacker to it. Not unlike some of his haircuts, she mused with a slight smile. Well, she consoled herself, it would grow back. It always had before. She ran her fingers through the dry bristle with a wistful sigh.

She was wondering how much time they had before somebody found them when she was startled by her partner coming around. "Mulder?" she whispered again, kneeling beside him as her hands caressed his face. "Hey partner," she asked softly, "how are you feeling?"

"Like I've been on a tour of Bikini Island at the wrong time of the century," the hoarse voice whispered back before subsiding into a fit of coughs.

"Whoa! Easy there, G-man." Scully helped him to a sitting position, leaning him against a tree, then settling down to sit beside him. "You may not be too far off. The compound is pretty much destroyed by what seems like a small scale atomic explosion. Anyone not killed in the blast would surely have succumbed to radiation poisoning by now."

"Fusion, Scully," he corrected. He raised his hands to rub his eyes. "Cancerman said he had a fusion reactor...," Mulder trailed off, blinking as he finally opened his eyes. "Scully?" he ventured faintly, his voice almost... frightened. His head darted from side to side as he tried to focus on her face. His partner watched his movements with confusion, then shock as she realized something. "Scully, where are you? It's too dark. I can't see you."

"It's not that dark, Mulder." Scully reached forward to lift his chin, her heart thumping painfully when she saw him flinch in surprise at her touch. She waved her other hand in front of his eyes, eyes that still glowed red in the darkness. Her heart sank as she registered the lack of response. At his questioning glance, she replied softly, "The stars are out, Mulder. I can see you."

"Scully..."

"Mulder, your eyes haven't healed yet. You're still blind."

He took in a deep breath. He closed his eyes, nodding slowly as if accepting his condition.

It didn't fool his partner one bit. Scully could clearly see the slight quiver in his lip, something she knew only happened when Mulder was close to losing control. "It's okay, Mulder. I'm here. You're going to be all right," she said reassuringly. She moved beside him, cradling his head against her chest, hugging him close to her. "Both Nick and Duncan said that eye injuries are one of the hardest to heal. Give it time."

The raw terror that assailed her almost caused her to flinch at its vehemence. When Nick had mentioned that a vampire's bite initiated a faint mental connection between the parties involved, she had written it off as unfounded fantasy. She was rapidly revising her notions now. The overwhelming feelings coursing through her when he'd bitten her, the spark inside her that was Mulder, a part of him that remained with her even after their connection was severed... all the side effects that both Nick and Natalie had cautioned her about, only magnified a thousandfold. They had thoroughly understated the effect, especially now that she was in physical contact with him.

For his part, the fear was the only thing Mulder could think of. The last thing he remembered was the wall of flame rising, coming toward him. Pain, and then blessed blackness... permeated with images of his sister floating away, ensconced in a bright light, images of Scully being taken by Barry while he stood by helpless, images of the office, his beloved files, his life's work, whisked away in a flash, images of their fight... He'd desperately fought the cloying darkness, the battle seemingly hopeless until he felt it... her... his Scully. He could feel her presence, almost tangible, yet somehow ethereal. A spark, the essence of what was Scully somehow reached him through the darkness surrounding him, lighting the way to his salvation. As soon as he was able, he yelled out for her, his grip tightening around what he knew instinctively was her. He felt himself sinking into sleep, one less troubled now that he was with her.

But to come awake to this... this endless darkness that somehow seemed to reach into the very depths of his soul, terrified him. He abruptly felt his partner move closer, pulling his head against her body, her warmth suffusing him, her love pulling asunder the grip that his fear held over him. He could feel her calmness surrounding him, giving him strength. "I'll be okay, Scully. I just..." He felt a shudder run through his body, causing his partner to hug him that much tighter.

"I love you, Mulder." She bent her head, her lips grazing his temple.

And for the first time, not only did he just believe her words, he knew them, felt them ring true to the very core of his being. Flashes of what she had done for him, searching through the lab, the trek through the woods, and finally lending him her own life-force to help him heal... the images came to him across their bond, faint, yet unmistakable. And above it all, he felt her love, unconditional and absolute. He'd waited his entire life for someone like her. How could he have possibly thought otherwise? How could he have even considered the notion...? Looking back, it seemed so ridiculous in the light of the raw emotion he was now feeling. Never again, he promised himself, even as the tears streaked down the slowly healing cheeks.

Suddenly, his head jerked up in her arms. When he heard Scully start in surprise, he raised his hands to her face, placing a finger against her lips as he concentrated. "I think... yes," he murmured. "Scully, I can hear choppers. At least a couple of them, maybe more. They're getting closer." He heard the quick intake of breath, then the shuffling as she got up. He felt her hand reach for his, pulling him to his feet, clutching him to her when he almost keeled over.

"We have to get out of here, Mulder. Right now, we're at the edge of a small forest, and a few feet away there's a steep cliff. It was pretty dark when we came out of the compound. Do you remember seeing any other ways out?"

"I remember this place. I think I flew up this cliff and came through this forest to the compound. There was a road winding up the mountain, with some train tracks beside it in places. I think I remember seeing the road behind one of the barracks."

"I remember being brought here in a train. But I don't remember any barracks."

"That's what they looked like. The small buildings inside the compound."

"I never saw the compound or the surrounding area when I was brought here, Mulder. And in this darkness, I stumbled across this forest more by sheer luck than anything. I'd be surprised if there's anything left standing back there though. Do you think you can fly back down the cliff?"

Mulder still leaned heavily on her. She felt his weight lift ever so slightly for a moment, even as his breathing became more labored. She briefly wondered at that, considering that he didn't really need to breathe, then chalked it up to his body's instinctual response rather than a physical need. When his weight came crashing back on her, she almost staggered.

"Damn. I can't even get my feet off the ground, Scully. I think we'd better make for the road I saw earlier."

"Hang on, Mulder." Scully took his arm and placed it over her shoulder, half dragging him back the way they'd come. It took a little less time to retrace their steps, with Mulder helping more this time around, before they reached the other edge of the woods again. Considering that she still couldn't hear the helicopters, she surmised that they had a good chance of getting to the barracks Mulder had mentioned without getting caught. That thought in mind, she set out in what she hoped was the right direction.

After ten minutes of stumbling and more than a little cursing on Mulder's part at his inability to see where he was going, the agents finally reached the building on the far edge. Now that the cloud cover had eased somewhat, Scully could see the road beyond in the moonlight. Much of the building had been destroyed in the explosion, and Scully could clearly make out several vehicles and bodies inside. "Wait here, Mulder. I'll be right back." She stopped when she felt him grip her arm tighter, the sense of panic flaring out again. He still couldn't see, and she could feel his terror at being left alone again. "It's okay, Mulder," she whispered, pulling him back towards her, her arms going around him, hugging him tight.

"I'm sorry, Scully, it's... I'm..."

"I know. I'm here, Mulder. I'm not going anywhere. I'm right here. Just relax, Mulder. I'm going to see if I can find a car in there, okay?" She paused, feeling his grip on her arm slacken slightly. She peered up into his face. "Mulder? Will you be all right?" She could still feel his terror, but there was a small region of calm now. She saw him nod, then reached up to brush her parched lips against his bruised and cracked ones before she slipped out of his grasp.

He felt the burst of panic flare again before he reined it in. She was no longer near him; he could hear her as she climbed over a wall and walked into the building. But he could feel her, within him, her presence from the... joining, for lack of a better word... still inside him. He traced the edges of the presence in his mind, much like tracing a filling with one's tongue. But this was like reaching out and touching Scully herself, yet not... He felt her answering message of reassurance and love, fainter now, but there nonetheless. Hurry, Scully, he mentally prodded her, painfully aware of the approaching helicopters.

Scully stepped over the bodies inside the barracks, noting that most of them exhibited definite signs of radiation exposure. Of course, most of them had died long before the effects had set in, victims of the explosion that had caused all the damage. She sighed, walking over to the back, towards the garage area. She could see a few military vehicles, a couple of jeeps, a suburban, and a few vans. Most, if not all were covered by debris from the caved in ceiling. She meticulously checked each, but found none that still worked. All had suffered severe damage from the explosion. She walked to the back of the garage, almost giving up hope when she spotted it. Taking a deep breath, she resolutely walked over.

Mulder heard the footsteps get louder as Scully moved towards him. He frowned. He'd expected her to be driving out, but instead she seemed to be dragging something along with her. He waited until she came up beside him. He raised his hand, his fingers grazing hers as she reached out for him. He slid his hand down hers, moving down until he came to the object she clutched in her other hand. His eyebrows shot up as he realized what it was, an expression that clearly said, "You've got to be kidding," plastered on his face.

"It was the only thing I could find, Mulder. And I was lucky at that. None of the other vehicles made it through the explosion. It's either this or walk down the mountain. Have you ever driven one of these?"

"Scully, it's more than a few hours by walk, most of it through South American forest. But, a motorcycle, Scully?" he groaned, incredulous. Then, with a sigh, "Yeah, I've driven them a couple of times, but I'm hardly in any condition to drive one now."

"Good. It can't be harder than riding a bicycle, right? Just tell me how to make it go. I'll handle the rest."

He gave her a look that clearly said she was going to be finding out exactly how hard it really was, the hard way. "First you gotta start it. You do have the key, right?"

"Yeah, I found it in the ignition."

"Good, okay." He proceeded to give her the basics, then stood by as she straddled the bike. He almost let out a smile as she let out a small yelp. A second later, he heard her jump away as the bike crashed to the ground.

"Not a word, Mulder. Not a word, or so help me..."

He raised his hand in surrender. "Did I say anything?" He couldn't help the small chuckle, however, as she hefted the bike and sat on it once again. He had no doubt that she was glaring daggers at him. He heard her try to gun the engine a couple of times before giving up in disgust. When he heard her call to him, he moved towards her. She reached out a hand to guide him toward the bike. He placed his hands on her shoulders, then sat himself behind her.

"I need you to hold the bike up while I start it, okay?" She felt the bike steady itself as Mulder placed his feet on the ground. She kicked the starter, cautioning, "Hang on tight, Mulder," as she revved the engine.

Mulder obligingly held on for dear life as, with a slight fishtail wobble, the bike roared off down the road. If he'd thought riding a bike was exhilarating when he'd done it before, it was just as terrifying now. The wind in his hair that had given him a sense of freedom before now whipped his face, the chill biting into the still healing burns. He tightened his grip on his partner, praying that they got through this ordeal without further incident.

It was still dark, and Scully had no idea how long she had until daybreak. According to Mulder, they were somewhere on the Andes Mountains in Peru. He had described the area where he'd hidden his car, and she was fairly certain she could find it once they reached the base of the mountain. For now, however, all she cared about was keeping the speeding vehicle from careening out of control. She was rapidly finding out exactly how like, or rather, how unlike riding a bicycle this was. For one thing, the motorcycle was heavier, although once she got it running, it wasn't quite as hard to keep it steady. But she was still unused to the accelerator being in the wrong place. Her unfamiliarity with the vehicle caused it to swerve alarmingly a couple of times, eliciting scared gasps from Mulder before she straightened out again.

Thoughts similar to Mulder's coursed through her head. She mentally crossed her fingers, hoping to make it down before the helicopters arrived. Unfortunately, their luck didn't quite last. Not a few minutes out of the compound, they saw the helicopters, three of them, silhouetted against the moon as they moved towards the speeding bike. Two flew over them, headed in the direction of the compound. The third took its place directly above them, a bright searchlight flaring out to catch them in its path.

"Pull over to the side of the road," a voice blared out over the din of the chopper's blades.

Scully resolutely ignored the warning as she took a hairpin bend at alarming speed. The bike almost skidded out of control before she had it headed back in the right direction. The sound of gunfire behind her caused her to momentarily close her eyes in fear. Then resolution set in as she began to weave the bike from one side of the road to another, hoping to create an erratic target for their hunters. Another hairpin bend, and she lost sight of the chopper for a moment, hidden as she was behind the mountain. Before it could follow them around the bend, she disappeared into a tunnel. She heaved a small breath of relief, feeling the arms around her waist tighten ever so slightly.

She looked ahead, but could barely make out the end of the tunnel in the dim light. The moment she was out, however, she heard the chopper take up the pursuit again. The streak of gunfire razed past her, throwing up stones from the road to strike her legs. She flinched when she felt one stone open up a gash near her ankle, a small gasp escaping her lips. But then she felt something she dreaded even more. Liquid splashed against her leg, bathing her wound in fire. She immediately felt the effects as the bike became more sluggish to handle. The brake line must have been hit; she couldn't slow down.

She squinted in the darkness, the searchlight that dogged them providing just enough light to make out the next hairpin bend. She tried adjusting her course but she knew she wasn't going to make it. She removed one hand from the handlebar, bringing it to her stomach to caress her partner's hands. She tightened her fingers around his, screaming a frantic, "Hold on, Mulder," trying to be heard above the noise of the bike and the helicopter tailing them.

Instead of crashing against the railing, mercifully halting their wild skid, the front wheel of the bike hit the very edge of the metal bars. The ends, where the railing was anchored to the ground, acted like a ramp, lifting the front of the bike. The vehicle followed, climbing up the makeshift ramp, then launching into space.

For a heartstopping moment, they hung there in space, seemingly motionless, as if crystallized in the amber of the night sky. Then gravity inexorably exerted its hold on them, demanding they obey its wishes. The front of the bike dipped, the rest following suit as they passed the top of their arc and started falling.

She felt the bike slip out from under her, felt Mulder's arms tighten enough to almost choke her. She turned in his grasp, facing him as she placed her own arms around him. Together they fell towards the dark forest below. She could feel him trying to exert his flying abilities, could feel themselves slowing ever so slightly. But she knew it wasn't enough. The wind whipped around the two of them, chilling them to the bone as they fell to the darkness below.

She saw Mulder twist so he was below her, and frowned. By the time she realized what he'd done, it was too late. They crashed into the trees, branches breaking as they broke their fall. Mulder took the brunt of the impact, as he'd intended. She heard and felt more than a few bones break as they descended to the forest floor.

He had slowed them enough, and absorbed enough of the impact that she hadn't lost consciousness upon landing. The same couldn't be said of him however. Most of the injuries that had healed simply reappeared, compounded by a myriad of broken bones and contusions.

Scully winced as she felt her broken limbs mend themselves, then stood up. She'd gotten a good glimpse of the forest on her way down. Having spotted the road and the perimeter fence not too far off, she was confident she could make her way there. With a sigh, she leaned down and hefted her partner's unconscious body, hoisting it as she trudged off into the jungle.


La Jaula Rota Hotel, Lima, Peru
Wednesday, May 27, 1998
8:46 PM

She stepped out of the shower, running the towel over her wet hair as she walked into the room. She crouched next to the bed, pulling out her nightclothes from the suitcase. It had taken them almost till noon to reach civilization once she'd found his car. Neither of them would have won awards for their choices in apparel, what with her lab smock covering the thin gown she'd woken in the night before, and him in his tattered coat, what was left of it anyway. Both of them uttered a silent prayer of thanks for Mulder's forethought in packing an overnight bag as they quickly dressed themselves, then fled the forest.

As it was, they'd had a trying time getting money wired to them from the Gunmen through the local post office. They'd eaten, then made reservations for their flight the next day before checking into the hotel for the night. Now, both of them were tired, ready to fall asleep within moments.

She sighed as she dropped the towel on the bed, then called out for her partner. "Mulder? Do you remember when our flight leaves tomorrow?" Not getting an answer, she looked around trying to find him. She felt him, standing not too far away. She moved toward the balcony, pulling aside the glass doors to step outside. "Hey, whatcha doing out here, G-man?" she asked softly, coming to stand beside him.

Mulder leaned against the railing, his head tilted up to glance at the heavens. "Are the stars out, Scully?"

His partner followed his gaze towards the sky, then answered, "Mmhmm. It's beautiful out here tonight." She leaned into him, smiling when she felt his arm go around her waist to hug her close.

"I could see the sunset, Scully. Just barely, but I could definitely see it."

She turned a startled gaze towards him, the shock quickly turning into pleasure as she pulled him into a hug. "You can see," she said, smiling as she pressed her cheek against his chest. It was a statement, a fact to which he nodded his head.

"It's slowly starting to come back. I can just barely make out your face." His chin rested on her head as he took in the slight scent of the complimentary shampoo. His eyes shut, he simply stood there, taking in her scent, using every bit of his other senses to augment his limited vision.

"We need to talk, Scully," he finally said, no trace of lightness left in his voice. A sudden quiet descended on the duo as they hugged each other, each basking in the presence of the other.

Scully finally broke the silence. She took a deep breath, then nodded against his chest. "Come to bed, Mulder," she said, pulling away as she brought her hands down to meet his. Palms clasped, she pulled on him slightly, moving them both indoors.

Before they reached the bed, Mulder pulled out a small microcassette recorder from the suitcase and popped in a cassette. He could feel his partner's quizzical gaze on him. He smiled in what he hoped was her direction, details still difficult to make out in the limited light. Moving towards the bed, he held it out to her, then slid in beside her.

"That was left on my machine back home while I was out searching for you. I had to hear it a few times before I figured out who it was." He paused, then prompted quietly, "Play it, Scully."

He heard the whirr of the recorder, then the click before the words played once more. "Sometimes, Agent Mulder, the answers..."

Her eyes widened at the voice. "Mulder... that's..." She looked up from the recorder, and saw Mulder leaning against the headrest, his eyes closed again. He nodded slightly. "But...," she stammered, "I saw him die, Mulder. I saw him shot."

"If Cancerman was an immortal, Scully, why not him? But then, it's not as if they need to be immortal to fake their deaths. I never did get close enough to the funeral at Arlington."

"But why, Mulder? After all this time..."

He shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe he faked his death because he wanted out of the consortium. Maybe he was tired of it all," he answered wearily.

"Mulder...?" she began questioningly, her hand reaching out to squeeze his nearest shoulder.

"It's just... I almost... I..."

She was shocked at the sudden sob as his voice broke. She moved closer, leaning into his side, holding his hands reassuringly.

Finally, he managed a deep breath before continuing, "I almost lost you, Scully." The weary tone had changed to a frightened one, one that trembled at the mere notion of what he said. "All over again. After I swore I wouldn't ever allow that again."

"Mulder, this wasn't your fault."

"Oh?" he replied incredulously, not without a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "You were abducted again, Scully. Because of the X-files, because of this... this quest we're on, because of me. I love you so much, Scully. I shudder to think what my life would be like without you in it. But sometimes I wonder what your life would have been like if you'd never met me." He felt her about to interrupt, but continued on before she could do so. "You could have become a doctor, Scully. A family... a living family. A husband, 2.3 kids, the whole white picket fence deal."

"In case you hadn't noticed, O brilliant psychologist," she replied wryly, "I joined the FBI long before I met you."

"But..."

"Guess who else I saw in that facility?" she blithely cut him off.

He blinked at the abrupt change in subject.

"Scanlon." She could feel him tense up beside her at the mention of the doctor's name. "Scratch one bad guy, I guess. Anyway, do you know what he told me, Mulder? I asked him the same question. Why all this? Whether it was necessary to do all this just to keep you in line." She waited for him to digest what she was telling him. "He said, Mulder, believe it or not, that not everything's about you." She let out a small bark of bitter laughter. "Imagine that, a bad guy with some brains."

"Oh?" Mulder hissed, the sarcasm evident in his voice now. "And I suppose they took you just for the fun of it. You didn't really believe him, did you?"

"Damn it, Mulder," she shot back, the anger rising in her voice. "Do you blame yourself for the abduction of the Allentown women? Do you honestly believe that you could have done anything to prevent their being taken?"

The question brought the agent up short. Reluctantly, he shook his head, a quiet "No," escaping his lips.

"Then why the hell do you blame yourself for my abduction? I was taken for the same reason they were, the same reason all the others were. Because of my goddamn DNA."

She saw that he still had that stubborn look on his face, the one that said that nothing could possibly relieve him of his perceived guilt. "Talk to me, Mulder," she whispered. "This silent communication deal is all well and good, but if we don't give voice to our feelings, we're inevitably going to get mixed signals. It's like using smoke signals when you could just as easily pick up the phone."

"They took away the X-files, Scully. They took away any reason for you to stay. It was all my fault. I didn't want to lose you, Scully. I worked so hard to get them back; I thought if I could just show you... that you'd stay..."

"Aaargh! You're not listening, Mulder. What happened between us that night should never have happened." At the mention of the dreaded fight, both of them drew in a slight breath. She had meant to approach the topic more delicately, but seeing as it had to come out some time... "All I wanted was for you to be okay, to tell me you still needed me. But noooo, not you. You had to duck behind your usual litany of guilt, didn't you? God!! Do you even know how irritating that's getting to be? It makes me want to just come up and slap you. Why in heaven's name does everything have to be your fault? Do you get off on it or something? Please, enlighten me, because, honestly, it's beyond me."

She saw him about to interrupt, but cut him off with a scathing, "I'm NOT finished!" Her voice immediately dropped, becoming more tender. "Mulder, I was duped just as you were. I fell into the same trap you did with Gibson Praise. The consortium dangled a prize in front of us, and we reacted in exactly the wrong manner. And I still can't think of one thing we could have done differently. Not with Gibson's life at stake."

"But still, the files... I betrayed you..."

"Our work, Mulder. Not yours, not anymore. Don't you think I might have liked a say in getting the files back? God, seeing the office... seeing it like... like that... don't you think it drove a knife through my gut too? I thought we were partners, Mulder. You never had anything to prove to me. I hate it when you think I wouldn't forgive you for something. Even when there's really nothing to forgive. That's not what love is about, Mulder. Not one bit. You know what they say about love meaning never having to say you're sorry? That's just crap. But it does mean we forgive each other, Mulder."

"I know, Scully. And I do need you. Desperately. I wanted to show you that I could get the files back. That all our... all your sacrifices hadn't been in vain."

She let out a sigh, moving down to rest against him. She reached out to grab his hand, holding it between hers. She lightly stroked his palm, tracing meaningless patterns with her fingers. Her voice was soft as she asked, "Do you really think me that shallow, Mulder? That I was only staying because of the work?"

"That's what you told me back in Seattle," Mulder rejoined, his voice quavering, "on the night of your birthday."

"Oh, Mulder." Her voice carried all the love she felt for this man. "You poor, poor fool." At his startled reaction, she continued, "That was then, Mulder. A lifetime ago, it seems like, sometimes. I had just been returned. I didn't want to admit that I might be staying because of my feelings for you. The work was as good an excuse as any. I couldn't even be sure of what I was feeling for you then." She paused, her hands tightening their grip on his arm. "But I sure as hell am sure now," she added with measured determination.

Her face had been lowered as she'd confessed this, her eyes locked on their clasped hands. She now turned to face him, and was shocked at the tears coursing freely down his face. She leaned toward him, gently kissing each shining drop before moving to his lips. She grazed them ever so slightly, then returned for a more forceful claim.

He pulled back finally, his tone full of wonder as he said, "I love you, Scully, so much it scares me sometimes."

"I hope you remember that the next time, Mulder."

"I hope there doesn't have to be a next time, Scully," he shot back dryly.

"Good answer, Mulder." Her eyes shone with unshed tears, and even Mulder could make out the smile that seemed to light up her face. "But, I know better than to ask you to promise that."

She was gratified to hear a small chuckle escape his lips. "I guess you do. But how about a resounding 'I'll try my best to remember'?"

"I guess that'll have to do. Now what say we get some shut eye? We need to get up early if we're gonna make that flight tomorrow." She slid down in the bed, pulling him down beside her. She turned to face away from him, snuggling back into the warmth of his body as he spooned her from behind.

She lay there for a few minutes, then ventured hesitantly, "Mulder?" A quiet grunt let her know that he was still awake. Screwing up her resolve, she asked, "How'd you know about Jeff, Mulder? You weren't fooled by him one bit, were you?"

"Aw, come on, Scully. With a name like Green? That in itself was points against him," he replied with a smirk.

"Be serious, Mulder," she chided gently, then paused. "You know who he reminded me of?" When she felt his arms tighten around her waist, she bit her lip.

"Who?" His voice was hoarse, an inkling of her reply already forming in his mind.

"You know, don't you? You. He reminded me of you, of the day you told me about Cancerman's offer about the chip."

"Funny," he replied, his voice devoid of any humor whatsoever, "that's exactly who he reminded me of too. I could so easily have been him, Scully. I was this close to giving in to the smoking bastard's demands."

"I know." Her hands stroked down his arms. "He was a dear friend, Mulder. Even when he... when he took the deal that you didn't, I still felt sorry for him. They offered him the same thing they offered you, you know. A cure. For his son. Just so they could get their hooks into him. They certainly didn't need his help to abduct me again." She paused, swallowing slightly. "Mulder... I don't know that I could have refused in his place. Not if the price was you."

"Let's hope we never have to find out then."

They lay in silence for a while, each considering the possibilities. Finally, Mulder let out a small sigh as he asked softly, "Scully? Why do you always call me Mulder?"

"What?" The unexpected question startled her, causing memories of a long ago stakeout rushing through her mind. I even made my parents call me Mulder. She wondered what answer he was looking for, what he expected her to say. Deciding to make the answer as simple as possible, she ventured, "Because you think it's a stupid name for someone to be saddled with?"

"Hmm..."

She felt him nod against her back. She could almost make out the disappointment in the soft sigh. Her answer was the one he'd expected, just not the one he'd wanted. She decided to try again. "And because it reminds you of your sister," she added quietly. She knew she'd answered correctly when the arm around her tensed.

"Cancerman told me that she was dead."

"What!? And you believed him? He's lied to us so many times, Mulder. What about the person you saw in the diner?"

"He had no reason to lie, Scully. Not after revealing all that information about the alien technology."

"Did you ever think that he might have said anything to keep you there? And I'm still not convinced the technology was alien."

"Quarter light speed propulsion is not exactly current technology, Scully. Not even for the consortium to have come up with by themselves." He paused, his tone switching from dry to somber. "He said Sam had been dead for almost 20 years. I suppose the person at the diner was a clone too. All this time, I'd always hoped... But, now, I don't have any..."

The choked off sob caused her heart to lurch. She could almost hear the unasked plea in his voice, his tone desperately asking her to understand, yet unwilling to give voice to the request. "Hush. You'll always have me," she replied, then added, "Fox." A silent promise, given, and accepted. She felt his lips against her neck, caressing, silently thanking her for her offer, and her promise.

He said nothing, but she could tell how much that request had cost him. He'd kept faith through the years, almost a quarter of a century, more than could be asked of any human being. He'd lived with the conviction, hoping against hope, of one day reuniting with his sister. Asking her, albeit silently, was his way of telling her how much she meant to him. He'd as effectively reassured her as she had him. And it was her turn to make him a silent promise. You'll never be alone, Mulder. Not as long as I'm here. I promise you that. The final oath ran through her mind as she heard his slight snore before slipping into dreams herself.


46th Street, New York City, NY
Thursday, May 28, 1998
6:14 PM, local time

"How many survivors?"

"None, except for the boy. He was being transported when..."

"And our man in the FBI?"

"His body was not recovered, although it is believed he perished in the explosion as well."

"That has happened before. Make certain of it."

"Yes sir."

"Any indication on what he was working on in the facility?"

"Not yet, sir. All we know is that it was a side project outside the group's mainstream. With the loss of all the records, it will take us years to piece together what really happened."

"And what of the reports of Agent Scully's abduction?"

"Unknown. Our associate made no mention of his plans after his return. We know that Agent Mulder left the country early Tuesday morning, but we lost his trail at one of his transfer points. However, we do know that he returned with Agent Scully earlier today. Their flight originated from Jorge Chavez International in Lima, Peru."

"But you cannot confirm that they were at our facility?"

"No sir. The response helicopters did mention two individuals fleeing the area. However, we have it on good authority that neither survived the incident. Apparently, they fell off a cliff. We are in the process of locating their bodies."

"Good. Then all that remains is that we maintain plausible deniability regarding the incident. We wouldn't want to lose the cooperation of the Peruvian government. See to it. And see to the boy's examination as well. As for our intrepid agents, we won't have to worry about them for a while."

The End


End Notes

Ok, now how many of you are wondering what I did with that first scene (the 4 billion years ago thing)? I thought if CC can do arcs, well why not me? I'm planning on having these little scenes scattered throughout the series, hopefully building into their own cohesive arc. Of course, they are also connected to the main story itself in some way, again, hopefully.

And how many of you thought Scully didn't have nearly enough resolution or closure about what she had to do at the facility? Yeah, me too. I just didn't have the heart to force more angst on her after the shock she'd been through. I am planning on a couple of future stories that will deal with the fallout from this one. I also plan on resolving the fate of the X-files, hopefully a bit faster than CC did with season 6.

For my next story, I'm planning on jumping around the timeline a bit. I want to get some of the stories I have in mind set in the far future out of the way. If I go chronologically, I might never get to them. In case you hadn't guessed, the ? crossover was with Star Trek: Deep Space 9, specifically the "Little Green Men" episode, a favorite of mine. The people mentioned are, of course, Quark and co. and it's Odo's DNA that kickstarts the entire bounty hunter saga, in my universe. Makes you think, ne? Anyway, I'm thinking of maybe a Star Trek:TNG or Voyager crossover next, although nothing's finalized yet.

So, until the next one, I hope you enjoyed the series so far. And of course, may the force be with ye!!! ;) Send any and all feedback to unmai@bigfoot.com. Ciao!

Futures Past Chronology:

01 - The Awakening(Oct 1997)
02 - The Light of Day(Jan 1998)
03 - My Funny Valentine(Feb 1998)
04 - Crossover(Feb 1998)
05 - Flying Lessons(Feb 1998)
06 - Hazel + Gold = Green(Mar 1998)
07 - Phoenix(May 1998)

Futures Past 06:
Hazel + Gold = Green
Home Futures Past 08:
Sweet Dreams...