Subject: NF> Facing November 2/2
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 1997
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
It's dark in the room and the lights flick on mechanically, a faint buzzing
sound signaling my presence in the room. I shouldn't be here. It isn't my
place to intrude on death, cheat it, know it, believe it.

The air is cool but stifling, strangling me. I am alone. It's quiet.
There are no enemies here, no lies, no conspiracies--there is no dark truth
to this death.

There's nothing more I can do.

I have spent my life searching for my sister, yet at times it's impossible
to fathom why. I loved her--I love her. She was...she sister. She
will always be my sister. But the lies, the coverups, the conspiracies, all
signaled the presence of something bigger, some secret, some truth, some
holy grail that fate decreed I would be the one to find. I had always
assumed that that truth meant the return of Samantha, the exposure of the
consortium, the cure, the healing, the faith. Knowing. Truth. Evidence.

Samantha isn't here. There is no comfort in knowing, no acceptance. I
can't feel her presence.

I never could.

She's lost to me. I can't remember the sound of her voice, the echoes of
her laughter, the way her eyes danced when she smiled. She's gone. Even if
she is out there...I don't know where. I don't know where to start, where
to finish.

I have held truth in my hands and let it slip through my fingers...I have
stared evil in the face and let it claim me for its own. I have chased
malleable enemies through dark alleys at night and battled human monsters in
a battle of minds. I have comforted grieving families, stood up to
government officials, won small fights in a war I do not understand.

But life...a small child in my arms...a grown woman whom I can call, it seems, has passed me by. Life has moved on--the world has
moved on. Without me. Without Samantha.

A flash of red/brown hair disappearing off a bridge...a childish scream of
terror swallowed up by light. My mind races, I pull my gun, I yell aloud,
and the world becomes a mass of words and fear and action and nothingness.
All these times.


But now, the room surrounds me, real, tangible. This room is proof. I am
alive; I am existant. I am real. This is real. And there are no enemies
here. My gun is with Scully. I can't bear to have it here, a heavy weight
that is a constant reminder that I am in danger, always...that ghosts give
no warning.

The shadows have no eyes.

I am alone. There is nothing I can do--no weapon I can use on the bad guys,
no one to save me. Because she is not here. They are not here. And I can
feel death.

The girl before me is nothing more than a pile of bones, stacked haphazardly
within a mass of dirty cloth. The table gleams metallic, stabs of light
glinting and darting off the corners and leading back to where my dreams lie.

Images crowd in my mind, flashing but gentle. A child at the beach, on the
playground. My sister.

A child. Not this child.

I hold the X-ray up to the light, but it tells me nothing. Proof is hard;
it does not lie. I need lies--I need a life that will never be cut-and-dry.
Proof offers no hope, no faith. I believe but I have no faith. There is

The edges of her clothing are torn and ripped, smudged with the dirt of old
Virginia soil. Had she run? Screamed, pulled, tried to get away? Samantha
would have fought him...for the sake of fighting, even if she had believed
she was going to Wonderland.

Does she fight now? Is she strong? Alive? For all the times I have been
strong, faced enemies with a power beyond my capability to imagine, I am
nothing now if not fragile, inadequate. Worthless. What do I say?
Goodbye? I let him take you and I did not make a sound. I spend my life
investigating the paranormal from a basement within the bowels of the
government because I don't want to face the possibility that find you could
mean saying goodbye. I tell myself that every case brings me closer to the

I have found truth. I stand here and I face truth.

And all I want to do is walk away.

I don't. My fingers reach out slowly, as if guided, to touch the little
girl's nightgown. Even caked with mud and dirt and years, I feel the frills
of the cloth. How pretty she must have felt in this--special, dainty. Like

Are you Samantha? I don't yet know. I always believed that when I found
you I'd *know*...I'd recognize you, your hair, your voice, your eyes. My
eyes. An idealist hope for a forgotten dream--I will know you.

I've lost you. I've lost everything. Roche took it from me.

I reach around to run my fingers along the fabric, and I hit bone. It is
repulsing and fascinating at the same time. *Bone*...that's all it is, now.
Bone. Life and dreams and hopes and truth locked up into this mass of bone.
Her brain is gone, her skin is gone, her tissue is gone...but bone remains.
A skeletal frame of what she used to be--what she could have been--what she

What she is.

At Oxford, in one of my pysch classes, we learned about a phenomenon called
censorship--not the censorship that everyone is familiar with, of books and
movies and magazines--but a censorship of the mind. The brain refuses to
allow unpleasant memories to enter consciousness in their original
form----as in dreams. The textbook phrase jumped out at me; it went on to
cofirm that hypnotic regression therapy and the like are therefore
unreliable, because even if you are being dredged into your
subconsciousness, the original memory has been altered so thoroughly that
it's just not in your head to find.

Where are you in my mind, Samantha? Who are you? What have you become?

What have *I* become?

I don't know you; I don't know who this little girl is. The bone is dry
with age but smooth, unbroken.

A sudden flash of sunlight...a shadow overhead...a scream, a thump, silence.
A cry.


Faded marker on linen--<I *told* you not to try it backwards! --Fox.>

My fingers tremble, searching for cracks. Bones mend, but they do not heal.
I know this. I will be distinguished upon my death by all the injuries,
bullet wounds, broken bones.

So will my sister.

Smooth. Unbroken. Truth.

I know.

There's the faint whoosh of air as the heavy door pushes open, and a voice
as if through water and air from miles away.


Breathe. I can't breathe. Scully has proof--she holds it in her hands.
She has evidence.

Unbroken...but am I right?

"It's not her, Scully," I exhale. "Am I right?"

She walks closer, concerned. Tell me, Scully. I want to know.

I need to.

"Samantha broke a collarbone when she was six," I explain quietly,
anxiously. "It was her left collarbone, we had a...we had a rope swing out
in the's not broken, is it?"


I fear truth.

Mulder and I...we search for it every day. Mulder hopes one day to come
across it in some deserted alley somewhere, with the brilliant lights of
heaven softly glaring out of every corner, shedding light on the tiny dusty
box that he can hold in his hands and up to the sky with that glorious smile
I see so seldom. <"I've found the truth, Scully!"> his voice tells me in my
dreams, mocking me gently, <you will never know>. I walk the streets at
night and my vision darts from one stoplight to the next, wishing childishly
for some angel's halo that is my passageway straight to knowing.

<"I've found my own truth, Mulder,"> I want to tell him. I don't need you
to show me the way. I don't need you for any outside agenda. I need you
because of who you are to me. Not because you bring me truth. Because you
reaffirm my faith, every day. In believing. In moving on.

In dreams.

Like a man who has known the weight of a thousand dying voices he stands
before me, waiting. Graceful fingers reach out to trace around the girl's
bones, grieving face like stone as he struggles to hold himself together.
My heart swells with joy to be able to tell him what I know now...and
contracts again as I realize.

Is the little girl Samantha? To Mulder, it doesn't matter. Not now.

Maybe it never did.

"Mulder?" I call softly as I push the door open. He doesn't lift his head,
doesn't turn.

"It's not her, Scully. Am I right?"

His voice is broken, shattered along with his mind and his heart. He knows.
And it doesn't make a difference.

But he needs to know for sure.

"Samantha broke a collarbone when she was six," he continues, to my
surprise. "It was her left collarbone, we had a...we had a rope swing out
in the's not broken, is it?"

His face is taut, pleading. Waiting. Mulder has spent his life waiting.

I close my eyes briefly--more like a blink than a gesture. "You're right,
Mulder, it's not a match." I pause, letting the words sink in, adding
effect. "It's not her."

His body slumps and lets out a long breath, measuring the hours that added
up to days and weeks and months and years. Waiting. Hoping. Wishing.

He turns away then, tears shining in his eyes. It hasn't mattered. My
truth gives him no relief.

"But it is somebody, though."

Somebody. Anybody. Everybody. All of us, all our lives. A little girl,
dead, and the world pays no heed. No notice. Because she is not a movie
star, or the president, or 'important.'

But she could have been. And the world would have noticed...

He is leaning against the table, the weight of his lean frame evident as his
eyes droop. It's not her. It's not Samantha. But Mulder cares; Mulder
gives a damn.

I have faith in him, in his strength.

He's going to need that. That little girl is not Samantha, but that's all I

And the only man who can tell us who she really is is John Lee Roche.
continued in part eight...
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
we *like* it!"
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- -

From Fri Feb 28 19:04:00 1997
Subject: NF> Facing November 8/11
From: Myth Patrol <>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 18:04:00 -0700
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
He shrugs. "Well, like I said, it was a fifty/fifty chance."

"Tell us her name."

Scully's voice is sharp as a knife. She hates him, despises him with a
passion; I can see it in her eyes, in the way she grips the pen. Controlled
distrust, anger, hatred.

I wish I could say the same. John Lee Roche is a sick man--the worst kind
of human being. Before I joined the FBI, I used to believe that serial
killers had no place in society, that they were so far gone they had to be
locked away and helped no matter what, not deprived of their animal
instincts. Kind of like a zoo, where they could be taken care of on their
own terms.

And then I started profiling. And through Luther Lee Boggs and John Lee
Roche, I learned that some criminals kill for no other reason than because
they like the way it makes them feel. You can't cure a human of natural
pleasure. And so we lock them up, pamper them with cable and exercise
facilities to make them happy. So the rest of America can forget. So only
those unlucky enough to have the oppurtunity to deal with them.

I know John Lee Roche. I know what he wants, how he thinks...or at least, I
used to. I thought I did. Either way, he wants to play with me, dangle the
mouse in front of my nose and then snatch it away. But I can't be sure if
he's telling the truth.

And Scully. Scully shouldn't have to deal with this. She's as anxious as I
am to bring that girl home, but Scully follows procedure. Always. Usually.
She told me yesterday that I was tired--excellent observation, Agent
Scully--and sent me home to sleep. Told me to call her if I needed anything.

Scully, I need Samantha back. I need to know the truth. I need to travel
back in time and choose a life where truth is something the government can
deal with.

I need your help.

The look in her eyes this morning told me what she'd been planning--<I'll go
in and talk to him, you wait outside>. At a loss, eventually, for my
complete turnaround.

Because I'm holding myself together. Because I get through this as long as
I know I have her there. Because Roche is nothing but a man, but I will
always have my sister. Always have the memories. My childhood cannot
forever be darkened with the screams of that one night. I won't let that
happen. I will move on. I can't afford to look back now. Because I may
never know where I'm going...but I always know where I've been.

Because she was my sister.

"That was...Karen Ann Philliponte..." Roche says slowly, as if he's having
trouble remembering. Of course. Sixteen little girls and they all blur
together eventually, right, John?

I'm angry inside. I won't let him see. I'm an FBI agent now, not a
grieving brother. I won't let him see.

"She lived in a green ranch in upstate New grew outside her
window. I used to stand outside her window and smell the sprigs of mint.
Smelled wonderful."

His voice is eerie, calm but wistful. As if he's sorry he killed her.
Scully breathes sharply.

"*What* *year*?" she asks, her voice hard, cold, calculated. Anger bursting
and flaming in those blue eyes. She understands, now, why I hit Roche.
It's an emotion you can't control. I used to look at men like him and think
<What is *wrong* with these people?!> I still do. But it's so hard--almost
impossible--to believe that he enjoys the pleasure killing brings him, that
there's not some outside force acting upon him, forcing him to be who he is.
Childhood, maybe...illness...


But that's all it comes down to, in the end. Roche and his heart and his
mind and a little girl at the end of the world.

"That was...July..." He draws out the syllables, weighing the words lightly
against their burden. "...1974?" he says, as if to himself. His voice
grows stronger, more insistent.

"I had her mother on the hook for an ElectroVac Argosy. But at the last
minute she said thanks, but no thanks?" He smiles easily. "Oh, well."

I'm shaking inside as Mulder slides the last heart across the table and
leans back in his chair to wait. <Oh, well>?! I thought when I first met
John Lee Roche that his casual conversation was a bit disconcerting--now I
find it downright infuriating. This man has no right to sit before me and
smile and shred my partner's life into tattered cloth hearts. He has no
right to play basketball any time he wants and have access to the kind of
technology that hardworking people only dream of. I work for the Justice
Department, the government run *by* *the* *people*--yet it seems like the
'people' are getting the raw end of the deal. Roche shouldn't be here. He
should be locked up to rot in his dark cell in solitary confinement with
just enough food to keep him alive but not enough to satisfy his hunger.
The last time I resorted to such rage was with a prisoner who truly
frightened me with the things he knew and the way he said them.
Roche...Roche could be my father, my uncle, my friend. The guy next door.
Roche *is* the guy next door--and he likes it.
I can see it in his eyes, his smile. He knows. Mulder is trying so hard to
be strong, but he knows.

Roche casts a passing glance at the heart--<been there, done that>. His
eyes flicker to Mulder's face, gauging his reaction.

"It's your sister."

There. He's said it, with finality. <It's your sister.> No
sidestepping--<"you know one of them already">--no mind games--<"pick her
out.">'s her. I took her. I took her and you couldn't save her
and now you need me to find her, bring her home. Ironic, isn't it? It's
written on his face.

But Mulder doesn't react--no intake of breath, no deep exhale. What was I
expecting? A sudden choke in the voice, Mulder's run for the door? Mulder
won't. Mulder *can't*. For Samantha. For his father. For himself.

He stares at Roche, a long, measuring glance.

"If that's true, tell me where."

I took my nephew to the Children's Institute of Science once, a fancy
euphanism for a big building in Annapolis that's just a child's huge science
playground. One exhibit showed two plastic balls--one green, one
orange--that seemingly did nothing but chase each other around a big
fishtank for hours on end. There was a crudely made funnel of water
swirling toward the center of the tank, designed, apparently, to suck the
balls in. The green ball circled around the funnel for half an hour while
my nephew watched, fascinated--like a shark cornering its prey. The orange
one was dormant, floating quietly until suddenly, with a splashing wave, it
gravitated sharply toward the water funnel and 'fell' in. Pulling the green
one along with it.

Roche and Mulder remind me of those two balls--Mulder, the green, chasing
the truth, warily straying from the darkness that was the center of his life
for so many years; Roche, the orange, suddenly arriving and stealing life,
love--everything--from my partner, bringing Mulder down with him.

Why now?

Roche shakes his head, falsely rueful. "You wanna know more than that,
don't you? You wanna know *everything*, right? The big mystery revealed?"

"Stop the mind games," I break in. What can *you* tell us about Samantha
Mulder? Either you took her or you didn't. What else is there to know?

There's a shifting in the movement beside me, and I'm reminded that this is
Mulder's case, Mulder's life, Mulder's truth. There are chinks in the armor
now...but we have to see this through. He has to.

"I can't just tell you," Roche continues, as if I'd never said anything. "I
mean, I know you don't believe me yet. You need me to show you, you need me
to lead you through it because after all these years, nothing less than
that's going to satisfy you, right?"

My eyes fly to Mulder's face, but it's calm, serene. Blank. He is silent
for a moment, and then he shakes his head musingly and pushes back his chair
to stand.

"You just want to get out of here."

I want to applaud. Mulder can handle this; he's not losing it. Not at all.
He's right. He knows. He knows.

"You're damn right I do," Roche agrees. "Even if it's just for a day or
two." His voice is tinged with sadness. "I'm...I'm realistic." He pauses,
that small smile curving his mouth upward again as he strings the words out,

"Even more than that, I...I can't wait to see your face."

"Oh, God." My unwarranted gasp and strangled words are past my lips before
I can stop them. Mulder's gaze revolves slowly from Roche to me, eyes sad,
face defeated. There is apology in his stance at my outburst, as if this is
a lost cause all his own once more. Roche smiles as I swallow my anger and
regain composure.

"You're going to see the inside of your cell instead. And you're going to
rot there."

It's a lame comeback, sure, but what do you say when evil challenges you to
defeat him? I gather my things and flee the room.

Roche doesn't move as we watch him through the glass. Mulder's face is
sorrowful, melancholy.

Oh, God. Oh, God, I was wrong, he's not handling it, he can' could

My God. Mulder, don't. Please. Don't do this. Don't.

Her voice is soft and distant, because Roche is all I see. How does he do
that? I walked into that room strong--an FBI agent, and that's all. He
broke me--he broke Scully. With a simple gesture, a tossed-off laugh, a
passing thought. He's nothing if not convincing...and who am I to say he's
not telling the truth?

"You okay?" she asks, casting a glance first to Roche through the glass and
then back at me, blue eyes blurred with compassion.

Gratitude. Four years ago, I would have been getting that question in
spades by now, but I think after Canada--Russia--all the years--Scully knows
that I need to work through things on my long as she's there.

I feel my head moving in a weak attempt to nod, but I don't think Scully was
expecting any sort of response anyway. Her voice is low and urgent, but
soft with concern.

"Mulder, the last thing we should do is give this man his way on this. If
we do he could string us along forever." A pause, and I consider. She
looks at me and she knows--that I've fallen apart, that I'm contemplating
Roche's suggestion. That he needs to show me. That I want to know everything.

I want to know the truth.

"I know you appreciate that," she says, voice even softer now. Does she?
"There has to be another way to come to the truth."

Another way...another way. The words echo in my mind, crashing and grinding
against each other with pounding intensity. Behind me, there is the
bubbling gurgle of the fishtank as the fish, like myself, swim around in
endless circling outlets and come to no end. Find another way.

I can't. I don't want to. There is no easier way. I'm sorry, Scully...I
need to do this. On my own.

For my sister.

"This is Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI, badge number JTT07041111...I
need a removal order for a federal prisoner..."

The sounds of the plane are paradoxically comforting--the wail of a child,
the roar of the wind past the wings, the whir of an opening can of soda.
Roche, that damning smile finally wiped off of his face, stares straight

He knew I'd come back for him. He knew. He smiled when they brought him
out, handcuffed and shackled, and asked me where my partner was and how I
managed to get past the judge so quickly, so easily.

I told him to shut the hell up. Then I took my own advice.

"Can I use the restroom?" he asks, slightly mocking, as if it isn't my right
to deny him such a privilege. I sigh.

"Keep the jacket over your hands."

First rule broken: never take a convicted killer with you on a commercial
flight with no other agents present. Second rule broken: never go anywhere
without telling Scully. Third rule broken: never fail to go through proper
channels and Bureau procedure. Fourth rule broken: never travel to an
island without Dramamine.

I even forgot to feed my fish.

When I was eleven or so, my mom went through an art phase. My dad brought
home some expensive painting that he swore to heaven and back was an
original, and we hung it up in the front hallway where all the visitors
could see it first thing. High up on the wall--Samantha and I weren't even
allowed near it.

When my parents divorced, Mom stored that painting in the bottom of a box in
the basement. Years later, at Oxford, in one of my required art courses for
the semester, we studied a copy of the original in an art book. And when I
went up to Connecticut just a few days ago, I caught a glimpse of it, where
Mom had left it, and the pieces clicked into place.

Our original was backwards.

The two sides were transposed. The man in the blue suit on the right in our
copy was on the left in the original. Our painting had been reversed.

I didn't have the heart to tell Mom.

When I called ahead to make arrangements, they told me my old house in
Chilmark had been sold. I'm sure the people living there now wouldn't have
minded leaving for a day while a federal officer took a look around his old
house, maybe dug up some clues on a case. Hell, we could have made them
leave if they hadn't wanted to.

But what would be the point of bringing Roche back to Vine Street? What
could he tell me about that night that I hadn't remembered in my dream?

Maybe, like Mom's painting, I've been looking at things backwards. Maybe I
can't take Samantha back from John Lee Roche...maybe I just have to tear
Roche away from my sister and leave her memory alone.

Roche stands and steps over me on the way to the bathroom. I let my jacket
fall back, revealing the reholstered gun. He glances at it quickly and
keeps walking--

--and the refreshment cart gets in my way.

"Excuse me," I say, but the stewardess pays no heed. Roche keeps walking,
and stops suddenly. My heart goes cold. Roche can't do anything on an
airplane, can he? Not with his hands cuffed and my gun ready and waiting.

He leans down and speaks in a happy voice, probably to a child. I can't
hear what they're saying. The cart moves and I move with it.

"Caitlin," a small voice chirps. Roche nods happily. Shooting a glare at
him, I steer him away from the child and towards the lavratory. He doesn't
look back.

But I can imagine those small eyes on me, wondering who I am and why the
taller bald man is so much nicer. And I swear that he will never get out
like this again, to fulfill his fantasies even if for only a moment.

It's a short flight. I've already decided what to do...

Now I just have to make the right choice.
"What the hell do you mean he checked out Roche?!"

Skinner's voice is a controlled roar, and something in it tells me he
expected nothing less from Fox Mulder.

And also, that he hopes for nothing more.

I sigh. "Agent Mulder convinced the judge that this was an emergency

At least, that's what they told me at the DA's office, after I called the
prison and told them not to let Roche back online and they informed me that
Agent Mulder had recently checked out Roche for the night and yes, as a
matter of fact, they did think it was a bit strange that his partner wasn't
with him. I was furious, but somehow not surprised. He looked ready to
fall apart when I left him--God, he looked halfway there already.

But the nervous secretary told me that Agent Mulder had presented 'a very
convincing case.' No doubt he left out the part about the 'remaining
missing child' being his sister and that he had recently perpetrated a
violent attack on the same criminal he was getting a removal order for.

I was about to check up on the flights he could have taken--I already knew
where he was going--when Skinner requested a meeting with us. *Both* of us.

"And where were you while all this was happening?" Apparently, he's noticed
Mulder's absence.

Anger boils in me--I'm not Mulder's babysitter; would *you* like to try it,
sir?--but concern wins over. "I had left Agent Mulder for the day, I
suggested that he should get some sleep."

If you can call <"Mulder, go home and get some sleep"> 'suggesting.' I knew
he wouldn't listen to the order, but at least he was out of my sight.

Out of my state...out of my career...out of my life...

Off with his head?...

I understand his reasoning. We're not getting anywhere interviewing Roche
in jail, so why not bring him back to where my life originally ended and he
can screw with my mind there? He didn't call me, because he knew I'd try to
talk him out of it. He doesn't want someone to do that--he wants to do this
on his own. Mulder can handle it.

Can't he?

Mulder is in control of this car. He can barrel down the freeway and
scatter everyone in his path and run right over Roche in the process, or he
can slow down and let Roche get through his performance and then speed up
and leave him in the dust. But even after all that, Mulder's likely to fall
asleep at the wheel and drive himself into a tree.

I take a deep breath as Skinner shifts in his chair. "Sir, I have a clear
idea of where he might hve gone and I am certain I can catch up with him--"

"No, *I'll* be the one to catch up with him," he interrupts. "Where's he

"Martha's Vineyard," I reply, and this time the anger surfaces. "And I hope
you would appreciate the uniqueness of this situation and the effect it has
on Agent Mulder!"

But then, Skinner wouldn't understand, would he? *I* don't understand. I
try--I pretend I do--I pretend to understand. But I don't--I can't. Not yet.

And I hope I never have to.

"Oh, I fully understand the effect it has on him, Agent Scully," he retorts
as he stands, and his flashing eyes tell me that all too clearly. Mulder is
nothing but an agent to AD Skinner--an employee. An employee who can't do
his job because he's too busy ignoring the company's standards and letting
the world collapse on everyone around

That's not fair. It's not true. Mulder has taken so much from me--my
career, my life...but I can't deny that I've willingly given it away. For
the sake of the truth...of faith, of belief, of all that's good and right.
But I still am, and always will be, Dana Katherine Scully--he can't, no one
can, take that away. I am still my own. Mulder hasn't molded me, shaped
me, tried to make me a tool, as so many others have. Perhaps because he's
so focused on his own inner landscape that he can't be bothered. Or perhaps
because he doesn't need to, because I don't have to prove myself, because
I'm capable as I am.

He's taken what I could have been...but he's given me what I am.

<It doesn't matter>...<but you were miles away>...<Don't give up!>...<Thank
you for taking care of me>...<I never got a chance to tell you>...<we're
going to work this thing out together>...<I know the difference between
expectation and hope>

"As I recall, it was the sum and total of my last words to you on the
subject." He pauses and stares at me, controlled fury personified. "You
let me down."

And while I'm pondering those words and hoping he didn't really say that
because as a self-respecting woman I'd be required to rage back, he goes on.

"Now let's clean up this mess before it gets out of hand."

It's too late for that, Skinner. It's already out of hand.
continued in part nine...
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
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From Sat Mar 01 13:38:50 1997
Subject: NF> Facing November 9/11
From: Myth Patrol <>
Date: Sat, 01 Mar 1997 12:38:50 -0700
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
This house is a ghost. Genuine only in its unreality, the plastic dust and
gloomy hallways loom large even as an adult, mocking.

<Forgive me...>

The phone call he made that night disrupted me, disoriented me. Scully told
me later I was so far gone it was a wonder I hadn't crashed the car into a
tree on the drive between here and Massachusetts.

Add one point to the Lucky Mulder Scale.

I didn't want to see him. I didn't give a damn about what he had to say,
because only my contact could give me information that I needed. Only
later, after I found out that the State Department wasn't the most innocent
branch of the government my father could have worked in, did I stop to think
about the consequences, the implications. Dad told me I should never give
in to 'them.' He told me everything had been so complicated.

He asked me to forgive him...

As if he knew he was going to die. As if someone had warned him.

As if he had made the wrong choice, twenty-three years ago.

But if my father knew about Samantha's 'abduction,' and the entire
'consortium' knew as well, then how is it possible that John Lee Roche took
her without warning, without provocation?

The more plausible explanation is that my father, and the men, were lying.
The more believable explanation is that John Lee Roche is wrong. I can't
deny my father truth, even in death. Even after all the years of ugly
silence and awkward meetings, even after giving up on a happy father/son
relationship over and over again.

Scully knew. <He was my father,> she told me. <I do know.>
Unconditionally. <You love your father.> <If something in there was to
cast doubt on the kind of man he was...>

I don't know. I'll never know. Never hold the truth in my hands and
declare it as such. And the only way to get any closer is by process of

My dream was real. It was me in that room...just me. My sister and I...and
then, I alone.

<My last dream came true...>

Roche didn't take my sister. He didn't take Samantha. I don't know who
took her...but I will find her someday, somewhere, in death, in dreams. I
will save her. I want to be able to declare that unequivocally. I want to
know for sure.

I want to believe.

"No one home?" Roche smiles as he comes up behind me. He sits gently on the
plastic-covered couch, and I want to yank him up, make him stand, tell him
he has no right to take my sister and my life away and then come and sit on
this couch and smile that shit-eating grin at me and start a conversation
with me. Catching you caused me more hurt than it did you, Roche. You're
living the good life in jail and I...

But I have Scully. It's an oddly comforting thought. Scully may not know
what to say when I see her again...odds are she'll be mad as hell. She has
a right to be. But she's *there*. Just knowing she's all right. Roche has
only himself in that prison cell, and no matter how well he's living, it's a
life devoid of other life, of friends and laughter and love. To tell the
truth, I may not have any of those things either. But I exist. I have a
purpose. And I may never reach the goal on top of the mountain, but to be
alive, to have a goal at all, is what matters. The search is fruitless, but
the pursuit serves me all the same.

Roche gestures to the furniture around him. "I sat on this couch," he says
in that offbeat, detatched manner. "You and your dad bought the vacuum
cleaner..." He trails, as if giving me the oppurtunity to think that over.

The couch, the vacuum cleaner...I struggle to remember before realizing
Roche has caught me in his trap, just where he wants me to be. Thinking.
Not paying attention. It won't be the same couch, the same vacuum cleaner.
The melody is different but the words remain the same.

He can't tell.

"You ready?" he asks, as if I'm a victim trying to pick out of a lineup the
man who assaulted me.

"Go," I say, voice purposely dulled, and he draws out the words like
suspects, one by one.

"November 27, 1973," he sets the scene for me. Well, thanks very much,
John, I never would have remembered. Roche always liked theatrics--he
reminds me of myself when I'm flashing the slides for Scully before a case.

"I watched the house for hours," he continues. "I parked out across the way
over there." He motions out the window.

<You're a smart boy, Fox. Smarter than I ever was...>

There should be lights in here. It's too dimmed, too muted. The edges are
blurred while the image is crystal clear. The essence of the memory.
Stark, bleak, empty.


I want to turn and run, empty my gun into Roche and leave him for someone
else to find. I don't want proof. I need proof. I believe. I want to.

That's not enough.

"I was just casing, I wasn't planning for this to be the night...but then
all of a sudden your parents leave and I figure..."

"Where'd they go?"

It's a lame trap. Does it matter where they went? They left. They weren't
here. I was alone. I let him--I let them take her.

It wasn't my fault...

Roche stands, peers out the window, just as my father did months before.
"House next door," he replies, a tinge of smugness to his voice. A+, Roche.
"To play pinochle, I don't know, or whatever it was that people did back then."

I incline my head slightly. I want to hear the rest. I need to.

"Go on."

"So after they're gone I get out of the car and I move closer. And I and your sister playing that board game."

An involuntary shiver runs through me. He was watching. Outside, all that
time, waiting, biding his time, planning. Real. Tangible. It's possible,
isn't it? That I took Roche and turned him into an alien in my mind because
the man was too frightening but the unreal aliens were not?

No. No.

"And a little bit after eight, I'm about ready, so I move to the junction
box, and I cut the power...and the lights go off, and I move around to the
front door...and I was ready to kick the door in?" he asks rhetorically,
"and it was unlocked. Because 1973..." He shakes his head in mock
amazement. "It was a different world back then."

I was on the debate team in junior high school, in the eighth grade. The
instructor, a large, stern man, told us that the most important skill we
could learn was listening. We already knew how to take notes, we knew how
to speak aloud, we knew how to research. "But most of you," he boomed,
"have never had to *listen* and *understand* anything before." By the
second debate he was pleased, told us we were cutting through the crap and
the bullshit and getting right to the bone of the argument. I don't give a
damn what Roche thought about the state of society. I don't care what he
thought my parents were doing next door at the Galbrands'. He's not going
to tell me he's wrong--I have to prove it for myself.

He has to be wrong. I know he's wrong, this moment, right now. I have proof.

But *why*?

"And what did you do then?" I prod him.

"Well, you remember that," he grins. "I...I came in through the front door,
and you...tried to get to your father's gun, I...I give you credit for that,
but then you sort of froze and then..."

He looks around him, far away to a place I cannot reach. I don't want to

I do remember. But I only remember what my dreams can tell me. Which means
that Roche must also know what happens when I sleep at night.

"...and I took your sister away from all this." He pauses, the first
display of delusional behavior I've heard from him in years. "To a happier

It's so real. He makes it sound so real. I believe him--for an instant, a
second, a moment in time.

"That's exactly how it happened?" I clarify. "Right here in this room?"

Bursting, I'm bursting. With the need to tell him. <I win, Roche!> After
all those years of profiling and chasing and dreaming and losing. I win.
I'm not satisfied--I'll never be.

But now I know.

There's a flicker of *something* in the back of Roche's eye, but he brushes
it away as quickly as I notice. "Yeah," he says cautiously.

There's a moment of silence while I let the world wash over me. I see my
sister, and in my mind she's not screaming, not floating, not begging for

She's laughing. At the beach, on the playground. It's bright with sunlight
and I can hardly see to squint against the sunlight. Laughing. Her voice
is bright and tinged with happiness and daytime. Laughing--because Roche
didn't take her, he didn't hurt her. There's still a chance. For her, for
me, for us...for faith. I believe. There is hope.

"Wrong house," I intone, letting the sound of a smile creep into my voice.
"My father bought this house *after* he and my mother divorced. This house
is in *West* *Tisbury*, the house that Samantha was abducted from was in
*Chilmark*. That's *six* *miles* from here! You screwed up! You were
never here, you didn't take Samantha!"

It's the longest speech I've given him in years, not since his arrest. But
the barrage keeps coming, the words keep flying. His eyes flicker and dart
around the room, caged birds, panicked. He's wrong, and he knows it. I'm
right. I win.

He regains his equilibrium quickly. "Wishful thinking," he retorts.

I shake my head. "No." And it clicks into place. All the versions of what
happened all come from my dreams. In my dream I can't see the address of
our house or the neighborhood or the street. In my dream we could be
anywhere, but for the layout of the room. In my dream...

I've never told anyone about the dreams. Scully knows I have them, knows
about the prescribed sleeping pills that I refuse to take and all the times
she's had to wake me up on stakeouts because if tired enough I fall asleep
anywhere--and dream. But I won't describe them or discuss them in detail,
not even to those Bureau-ordered pyschologists we all get sent to every once
in a while.

I've told Scully that my sister was taken...that we were in bed when it
happened, because it's the easiest version to relate, and then she was just
gone. As I came to trust her more, I told her what I believed. But not in
detail, not the different versions--only information she could get anywhere.

The truth lies in my dreams. And I've told no one about that truth. But
Roche knows.

Like my father, something that was once so complicated is now so clear.
Like glass. But it's impossible not to wonder if maybe that glass is really
a looking-glass and that the truth is staring me in the face and I've just
broken for the mirror.

Damn it. Let me revel in my joy for a moment.

"No, but I think I know what happened. Somehow you got inside my dreams."

Roche raises his eyebrows. "Come again?"

"I profiled you." The words pick up speed and I know he thinks I'm
ridiculous but I don't care. "I got inside your head, maybe you got inside
mine, maybe some nexus or connection was formed between us. And through
that, you got access to my memories of my sister Samantha and you used them
against me. For *this*."

Roche half-rolls his eyes. "You're just resisting me."

"And you're in the wrong *house*, you stupid son of a bitch! You were never
here, you *liar*!"

He's calm and I'm out of control and those aren't very good odds. I'll deal
with the reprecussions later, the possibilities, the truths, the lies. But
I am in charge now--for once, I am in charge.

"It's geography, man, it's geography," Roche grasps. "It was twenty-three
years ago, that's geography we're talking about."

I force myself to speak slowly, quietly, working out the words first. No
street signs in the dreams. We could have been anywhere, and if he saw that
and knew me--

"Yeah, but you remember all the other details so vividly." I pause, barrel
ahead. "That's because you watched it through my eyes. Through my dreams."

<How?> I'm already asking. What, Roche had a dream one night and said <Gee,
must be that Mulder guy who caught me--cool, I can see into his dreams!>
Did he go into some sort of 'receiving transmission' mode while I slept,
like...Harry?...and the Big Giant Head? And why *now*--why not five years
ago? Because he's a sick bastard and he wants to dredge up old
memories--well, he could have done that two years ago. Five years into the
future. Why would he 'lead' me to Addie? Can't I at least grant myself the
possibility that maybe I'm just a smart FBI agent who finally figured the
bastard out?

Roche laughs suddenly, inappropriately, the sound cutting through the silent
air. "I hear things about you, Mulder," he tells me conversationally. "You
know what I heard? I heard you go after aliens. From *space*."

He sits on the couch behind him and points upward, making loops with his
hands, whistling through his teeth to signify the presence of a UFO.

"Seems like your world would be okay if you could believe in the flying
saucers. But I'm telling you the God's honest truth," he says seriously.
"And I can see you're not as open-minded as you think you are."

Maybe Roche is right. Maybe he did take Samantha and I'm just fooling
myself. Maybe my life, and everything I stand for, is based on a lie.

But I'm tired of suspicion and searching and not believing. I've been told
that I'll believe anything...but sometimes it feels like I'm the most
skeptical cynic on earth. I want to take something for granted, this time.

I want to believe.

The smile is not one of victory but of belief, and I lay it casually at
Roche's feet as he sits before me.

"You must've made one hell of a salesman, Roche."
Dark. I squint against it but I cannot sleep. Not with John Lee Roche just
feet away and the truth about my sister just beyond my reach.

I called him a liar and told him he hadn't taken Samantha. It was the
truth. One version of the truth. I have learned after years of searching
that no truth is sacred, no lie overturned. Everything can be argued.
Everything can be defeated.

Everything dies.

He wanted to speak but I would not let him. I glanced over some case files,
let him watch television. The accomodations in this roadside motel are
probably less than what he's used to in prison.

He's sleeping. It would be so easy to pull my gun out of the holster and
fire, or smother him with the blanket he's clutching. Rearrange the
evidence so that no one knows and he can't go on living and destroying with
his mind. So easy. Painless. Simple.

But then, not only does John Lee Roche win, *they* win. They succeed in
making me a cold-blooded murderer. They succeed in making me one of them.

I will *never* be one of them. Never. I'm one of the good guys, I remind
myself--I'm fighting for truth and justice and a way to make the world *right*.

But I'm no Luke Skywalker. And I've always wondered what the outcome of
"Star Wars" might have been if we got to hear the other side of the
story--Darth Vader's motivations for becoming one with the Dark Side. My
life is not based on "Star Wars", on '70s movies that depicted the triumph
of good over evil. My father was my own.

Wasn't he?

It's quiet. Dark and silent. Surreal. The heart offers up a glimpse of
childhood heaven from the solid wooden table. If I stare at it hard enough,
brush my fingers over it once more, it will give me answers. One heart
left. Just one. One life, one memory. One dream.

There's a noise from outside, a calling. A drunk patron, no doubt,
returning from the local bar. My eyes droop, but I keep the heart in my
hand. I'm so tired.

<My life up to this point has been about the need to see her again...>
<Not everything I say, do, think, or feel goes back to my sister!>
<She was just a little girl...>
<I thought that one day my sister would be there...>
<Hey, get out of my life!>

The calling gets louder. It's not a drunkard but a child. A girl. Her
words unidentifiable at first.

<Fox! Fox!>

And it's familiar, all too familiar. "Fox! Fox, help me!"

Calling my name...

Over and over again, "Fox, Fox!" I almost knock over the table in my hurry
to get up and outside, forgetting about Roche almost entirely.

Familiar voice, familiar face. Urgent and the same as the pictures on my
desk, in my wallet, in my dreams.

"Fox! Help me, I'm locked in here!"

His car. She's locked in Roche's car. My heart swells. My sister,
Samantha--Roche took her but he's asleep and I can get her back, I can save
her this time--

"Help me, I'm locked in here!"

She's banging on the window and amazingly no one else hears her but me. I
pull on the door handle but it doesn't budge--it's locked, she's inside, and
Roche is... not sleeping, he's in the car. I can hear it revving up, the
personification of an old '70s car. White El Camino, Scully, I saw it in my

I can't save her but I have to try. Hopelessly I reach into my pocket and
almost too easily I pull out a key as the car backfires uselessly.


The key slips into the hole as effortlessly as it did in "Alice's Adventures
in Wonderland." I yank the door open and don't wait for her to jump out but
I scoop her up in my arms and hug her tightly, savoring the tickle of her
hair against my face and the smell of her first perfume and the digging of
her lanky arms around my neck, holding me, knowing she's safe in her
brother's arms and that she doesn't want to leave as much as I won't let
her. She's so light in my arms, so easy to protect. The same child I'd
yearned for those many years. I lift her backwards lightly, enjoying the
sight of her. Samantha, my sister. I smile gratefully and hug her again,
assured this time. Roche can't get to her now. We'll--

The car revs again. Blossoming, the laser red appears on the tinted windows
like a child's toy possessed.


And the car is gone. And my arms are empty as I reach for nothing and
embrace air, and know that it's just a dream. My life is a dream. And my
sister, and my memories, and John Lee Roche...they are nothing. Nothing but
a pack of cards.
continued in part ten...
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
we *like* it!"
_ _
\ / For information
\ / please write:
/ \ Anonymous
/ \ Dean Warner, moderator
- -

From Sun Mar 02 11:32:21 1997
Subject: NF> Facing November 10/11
From: Myth Patrol <>
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 1997 10:32:21 -0700
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
"You *let* Roche *go*?!" Skinner's voice is a low roar of amazement.
Mulder, eyes half-closed, arms folded, makes a feeble attempt to explain.

"I did it in my sleep. I had another dream."

Mmm. Right, Mulder, that explains everything to the assistant director. It
explains that you've gone insane and that he'll be forced to commit you--at
least in his eyes. Mulder is not doing himself any good.

He'd never let Roche go, not voluntarily...but then again, I don't know
where he brought him or what they found. <"Give me the keys and I'll bring
you your sister,"> Roche could have said, and who am I to guess whether
Mulder had agreed?

He had another dream. Suggesting that Roche is the creator behind his
dreams, that Roche forced Mulder, in his dreams, to let him go.

It's now that I understand the compulsions of psychopaths. Roche knows he's
wrong and what he did was wrong...but he can't stop it. He has to do it
again. He *has* to kill, destroy, anger. It's in his blood.

The thought sickens me. Any one of us could turn out that way. Mulder's
greatest fear--I can tell by looking at him--is the idea that he could
potentially become one of the men he seeks to destroy. It's a curse he
picked up working with Bill Patterson that's crept into everything he does.
Seek to destroy and you inevitably become one of the destroyers.

Skinner, looking more than a little annoyed with Mulder, Roche, and the
system, turns to the agents behind me and delivers his instructions in a low
rumble. "Why don't you find out if anybody saw anything?" He turns back to

"He took the last cloth heart," Mulder says absently.

"He also took your badge and your gun," I join in, feeling his empty suit
pockets. Skinner hammers the last nail in Mulder's coffin: "Where's your gun?"

Mulder just moves halfway between a nod and a shrug.

"How do you explain yourself, Agent Mulder?"

Mulder's thought this out and, to his credit, doesn't mince words. "I don't."

Skinner pounces. "You don't. A predator is loose because of you! God only
knows how many hours lead he's got!"

Mulder doesn't flinch, stares straight ahead. He knows something, and I
want to ask him--alone, in private. He can cry out "The Pool of Tears" from
the Alice books for all I care, but I need to ask him.

But not here. Not now. Not where he can be vulnerable in front of the AD.

Skinner sighs, proof that he's more concerned with finding Roche than with
disciplining Mulder. "Any ideas where he might be headed?" he says,

Mulder's eyes cloud in thought for a moment, and when he conceives the
thought it's like heaven opening up to reveal rays of sunshine. His eyes
light in ugly realization and when he speaks his voice comes through air
from far away.


"Where?" I say sharply, harsher than I'd intended.

"Where's your phone?" he asks the AD, who fishes it out of his pocket in

"There was a small child on the plane," he says slowly as he sits and dials.
It hits me as it hit Mulder a moment ago.

"What child?"

"Yeah, please put me through to your supervisor," he speaks into the phone.

"Mulder, what child?"

Holding up a hand to silence my query, he talks quickly. "This is Special
Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI, I need a passenger list for Flight #1650,
Washington National to Boston, 8:50 last badge number is--"

He's silenced by the voice on the other end of the line, and when he hangs
up the phone the distance in his eyes is cut short, tethered to reality by a
truth he finally has to face.

"Agent Mulder just called ten minutes ago. They gave him the same information."
I hear the tearful hiccupping sobs before I see the woman delivering
them--wiry hair, eyes glassy and red with tears. Policemen surround her,
notebooks flipped open, listening hard.

"...needed to take Caitlin...about 6'5" or something..."

The voice grows stronger as we near.

"He said his name was Mulder." She spits the name with the kind of disgust
I have often heard directed at my partner...but never for this. He'll never
forgive himself for this.

"He had a badge," she continues in what sounds like a protesting tone of
voice, as if she's trying to convince herself as well as us that what she
did was warranted.

"He looked official..."

One of the officers turns to face Mulder, squinting against the sun, a
concerned look on his face. "We sent one of the units over to pick up the
girl's mother, bring her over."

Skinner nods.

"Wh--what am I going to tell her?" the woman cries as Mulder fidgets. "It's
all my fault!"

"It's not your fault," he breaks in with the kind of low intensity and
fierceness only Mulder can deliver, and lays a comforting hand on her arm.

"It's my fault."

He turns and strides away and she stares after him, forgetting, watching,

I don't wait. I follow.

"I'm sorry, Scully, you were right. He was playing me the whole time."

"You don't think he took Samantha." There's lethargy to my voice, but it's
not a question.

Neither is Mulder's response. "None of that really matters now, does it."

It doesn't. And in some ways it does. It always will.

But not while there's an ongoing investigation to complete and a little girl
to find.

"Well, where do you think he'd take this girl? Would he follow his MO and
drive her out of state?"

Familiar ground. The wheels turn in Mulder's head--he can handle the work.
For now.

"There's no reason for that. He knows we're going to catch him, he just
needs it to be later rather than sooner. He'll be somewhere nearby."

"Well, how much a creature of habit is he? Would he try to take her
someplace familiar?"

Mulder jumps on the idea before I've finished presenting it, and I get the
feeling that he's not listening to me, but working the investigation out on
his own.

"Try to relive some past glories, is that what you're thinking? I don't
know, maybe, why?"

A lead. Maybe. "Well, Roche lived in Boston in the early '70s, right?"

Skinner's voice. "What've you got?"

I feel Mulder beside me, wound tight, wired. Hands clenched into fists, jaw
tight, eyes burning.

"Roche's old address in the area," I reply. "Revere...9809 Alice Road, apt.--"

"He's there," Mulder says suddenly, fist raised in a halfhearted punch at
the car window.

"How do you know?" Skinner asks.

"Alice in Wonderland. He's the mad hatter."

"Oh, that's a dead end--" Skinner scowls.

"It's where he got the idea in the first place!"
Useless. A dead end. Wasted time. Against my better judgment...

It was Skinner's reply when I insisted on being the first one in. <Against
my better judgment.> I was too tired to argue the fine-tuned point that
while I may be 'spooky' and ignorant of Bureau regulations, I'm probably the
best agent he has on this case and without me we would never have gotten to
this point in the first place.

Which is probably why he added the <against my better judgment> bit.

The door burst open with a well-placed jab from my right shoulder and I
raced inside, gun beaming ahead.

Useless. A dead end. Wasted time...

I spun around in a halfhearted attempt to check the corners, but the room
was empty--grafitti staining the walls, old garbage lining the rooms.
"Check the other rooms!" Skinner called, but it was useless.

Scully's voice echoed my sentiments. "I don't think he brought her here."

Something about the window drew me. Sunlight gleamed hot off the parking
lot across the way, rows of derelict school buses like wilting flowers.

And somehow, I knew.

"He never brought anyone here."

Heedless of the consequences, knowing if I'm right it'll save a little girl,
I spin around and run from the room, from the apartment...making it so easy
to keep running forever.

Across a field that reminds me, absurdly, of the days we spent in Apison,
Tennessee what seems like a lifetime ago. What *was* a lifetime ago.

I climb over the fence and I'm faced with a lifetime of choices, boxed up in
the rows of abandoned buses at my feet. I begin the trek slowly--cables
moving, wheels turning, anything. A clue. Behind me, there's the distanced
shout of the many agents crawling around the building, looking for Roche,
and for Caitlin.

And for me.

There's a scream. Piercing and loud and sharp--a child's scream.
Instinctively I pull out my weapon and
run--forward--slowing--turning--nothing. Gone.

The bus cables catch my eye. Movement. I lower myself and bring my weapon
up, circling around until I reach the door.

Gun out, pointed forward, stay to the side...I run through the Academy
instructions in my head. Forward--the door opens--

Roche is in the back seat; Caitlin is in front of him. I lower the gun. It
will scare her.

Roche smiles musingly. "You know, I'm beginning to believe we do share that
'nexus' you spoke always seem to find me," he says, drawing his
words out, making sure I know every moment could be the girl's last.

I ignore him. Caitlin looks fine--her fact not even tearstained. Roche
probably urged her to scream for whatever sick reason he could think of.

I don't care anymore. I have to get her out of here.

"You okay, Caitlin?" I say slowly. She nods toothlessly. "Good. My name
is Fox and I'm going to take you home."

She nods again. I have a gun and I speak in a soothing voice just as Roche
did, but she trusts me. I've promised to bring her home.

I *promised*...

What lies did Roche tell her? That they'd be going to a happier place, that
he'd take her to Wonderland?

"I have your gun, Fox," Roche interrupts, his voice slightly mocking, the
use of my first name an ugly parody of my recent words.

I don't know what to do. I'm on a bus with a little girl and a murderer and
I don't know what to do.

"Caitlin, can you do me a favor?" I say slowly. "Can you...count to twenty?
Can you close your eyes and count to twenty out loud? Quietly and slowly?"
I don't know if twenty is high enough--I don't know if she can count that
high. But she nods and closes her eyes hesitantly, and I begin with her.


As soon as I'm sure she can't see me I take steps forward quickly until I
reach Roche and point my gun directly at his head.

"I will shoot," he says simply.

"Don't...make this end badly," I say, my voice low. Tensing my body, I
sneak a glance over my shoulder.

The gun--my gun--is pointed directly at the back seat where Caitlin sits.
At this range, it will only take a moment before she's gone. She won't know
what hit her. She'll be safe.

I have to know.


"You're not giving me very much choice," he goes on negligently. "I really
don't want to go back to prison."

But she deserves to live.
Of all the places I've seen life begin and end, a graveyard of abandoned
buses has never been number one on my list.

We followed Mulder here. Skinner had this odd gleam in his eye, as if he
thought Mulder was completely out of his mind and we'd have to have him
committed as soon as we found the little girl.

<I should know by now to trust your instincts.>
<Why? No one else does.>

There was movement, and then voices. And then a loud one, cutting clear
through the sunshine after an eternity of waiting. And Mulder's voice,
mixed in at first with the little girl's and then fading to nothing.


For an FBI agent with no contact with children, Mulder's extremely good with
kids. He puts on his easy smile and his cheerful voice, and he just draws
kids like a magnet. Caitlin had to choose between two men: Roche, who
promised to bring her to a fantasy land; and Mulder, who promised to bring
her home. They both had guns and they didn't seem to like each other very
much...and Mulder probably wasn't smiling when he got on that bus.

But he asked her to count with him. And she chose Mulder.

She chose life.

Roche reminds me in some ways, now, of Robert Patrick Modell. He's playing
with Mulder's mind and this time Mulder is fighting hard to win.

"Put the gun down, Roche!" Skinner yells from above me on the stairs.

Roche unfolds the last heart from his breat pocket and continues, calmly,
nicely. "You've got one left," he says to Mulder. "How are you going to
find her without me? How sure are you it's not Samantha?"


"How do you know?"

I don't know how high Mulder asked that little girl to count, but whichever
way you look at it he's running out of time.


Mulder half-closes his eyes, almost as if he's in pain, and in a flash of
movement I see him look down at where Roche is holding Mulder's gun.
Another flash and I fancy I see the end of the world: the squeezing of the
trigger, the ending of a life.

Mulder fires, just as Caitlin reaches twenty.

A scream, childish--a long drawn-out wail. She's up and running and in my
arms and there's movement outside--a yell, the sound of foosteps.

"Call an ambulance!"

And Mulder stands, frozen, in the middle of it all. At the end of time.
Arm outstretched, gun pointed outward, prolonging a moment that should have
ended when he pulled the trigger and defeated his enemy. Stands frozen at
eternity as Roche's limp body slumps...

...and falls.

For a second I see a glimmer in his stance--a tremble, a sigh, a tear. But
he does none of those things. He stands silent for another lifetime, as if
maybe, maybe, he'll wake up and find this end another dream.

He lowers his gun and breathes hard, and does not look at me when he turns away.
concluded (your collective 'darn! I really liked it!' here) in part eleven...
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
we *like* it!"
_ _
\ / For information
\ / please write:
/ \ Anonymous
/ \ Dean Warner, moderator
- -

From Mon Mar 03 17:07:20 1997
Subject: NF> Facing November 11/11
From: Myth Patrol <>
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 1997 16:07:20 -0700
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
I knock before entering, a useless gesture born out of constant repetition
and a tradition of respect for my partner. There's a moment of silence and
I push the door open, aware that the light is framing me where I stand and
that Mulder doesn't look up.

He's holding the last heart. Evidence took the rest to return to the
families, but there is no home for the last heart. So Mulder has given it a
home of its own.

I don't speak; he doesn't greet me. I've yet to determine if he's aware I'm
in the room. I glance at him, a loose measure of sympathy that utilizes no

I drop the folder gently on his desk.

"I got back some lab results," I begin quietly. "The dye analysis
determines that the fabric of the last heart was manufactured between 1969
and 1974...but beyond that there's nothing they can tell us."

He remains silent, stroking the heart, face dull. I don't know what the
official punishment was, but he shouldn't be here. Not because I'm an FBI
agent or because it's my job. Or because I'm a doctor and that's my

Because Mulder can't be strong for himself or for me all the time. And as
much as he knows I wouldn't hold it against him if he just lost it for
awhile, he can't do that yet, not in front of me. His strength feeds off mine.

His silence breaks my heart. "Mulder, it's not Samantha," I continue,
finally daring to say her sacred name aloud. He turns away, threatening
tears shining in his weary eyes.

"And whoever that little girl really is, we'll find her."

Something registers at that, and he tilts his head upward to look at
me--tired, defeated. Dreamless.


I haven't heard him speak in hours, and his voice is dull and hoarse. The
Mulder of a day ago, the one so totally wrapped up in the investigation he
couldn't stop to think about its implications, is gone. The Mulder of a
week ago, who was so busy running himself ragged across the continental
eastern seaboard to identify two lives, is gone. The Mulder who believed
wholly and completely that John Lee Roche would eventually give him an
answer if he had to sacrifice himself for it is gone. There is only the
Mulder I am all too used to: silent, self-implicating, wistful.

Mulder believed that Roche knew the truth. And as long as Roche was alive,
that truth could be discovered somehow--some way. As long as Roche was
alive, he could be punished for his undiscovered crimes. As long as Roche
was alive, Mulder held on to his hope.

The little girl's voice counts down the seconds in my mind.
<One...two...three...>there is no time left. For the rest of my life, I
will hear little Caitlin's voice, running down on life. <Four...five...six...>

"I don't know," I tell him honestly. I don't know. There are thousands of
missing girls from 1973--and the heart doesn't belong to Samantha, we're
looking at a time frame of five years. And even if we do run down the list
and cross-check every single one of those families and find out which one
the heart belongs to...we still don't know where to find her.

"But I do know you," I say, and his head jerks up, almost in surprise.
How's that for an expression of faith, Mulder?

A tiny smile curves the edges of his mouth, a gesture that hints nowhere
near his eyes. It vanishes as quickly as it appeared, and he looks down at
his desk again, lost.

I take a deep breath and say the only words I have left.

"Why don't you go home and get some sleep?"

This time there is not only surprise in his face, but a kind of bittersweet
joy as well. He laughs then--a real, full, rich sound from deep within him
I've never heard from my partner before. I can't help but smile as well,
and he leans toward me just as I reach for him, a brief embrace that is
scripted, for once, not by our minds but our hearts. I touch his head
tenderly and pull away suddenly, sensing as his smile fades that he needs to
be alone.

Mulder thanked me today--not in words, but there was gratitude in his eyes
and in his smile and in his laughter--laughter like warm chocolate sliding
down my throat, staying with me even after its fleeting sound is gone.

I thought before that Mulder had no clue--that his life held no purpose, his
quest held no goal. But I know now that Mulder's strength lies in existing,
in reaching, in searching for that goal. And somewhere in that cool
exterior of obsessive chasing and senseless ideas lies an intelligent,
compassionate, dedicated man, whose grace and depth reach to astonishing
heights in facing undeserved challenges. Mulder knows the difference
between truths and lies, fantasy and reality, hope and expectation, and he
uses it to his advantage. Mulder may not win, may not triumph over the
darkness--but he will never, as long as he remains his own, let the darkness
defeat him.

Not as long as we have truth, and faith, and hope. Not as long as we have
each other.
"Why don't you go home and get some sleep?"

Absurdly, as the inappropriate laugh bursts out of me I'm reminded of the
images my dreams have brought me this past week--of lighthouses, Stratego
games, white cars...

And my sister. And like a knight in shining armor, I thought I could swoop
in and save her.

The tenative smile Scully gives me is one of relief, and hope. It's a
comforting gesture that serves to remind me that, no matter what, I will
always have Scully to believe in. Her brief embrace levels us as She leaves as she came, in silence, abandoning me to my

One heart left. Roche asked me how sure I was--he asked me how I knew. For
Scully, the strength of sheer belief in her father's love was enough to
satisfy her...not satisfy, but reaffirm her faith in the power she had
always been taught.

But I...I don't know. I'll never know. And the prospect of spending the
rest of my life fruitlessly not knowing, I must admit, is a bleak and
utterly frightening thought. I want to know. I've based my life on the
need to know. Every day begins with a hunger, a yearning, a truth to be
found. A possibility. A doorway.

A hope.

John Lee Roche, with his smile and his easy stance and his casual teasing,
stole my hope. I was a twelve year old boy with the need to believe in
something, sick of not trusting and suspecting. Roche gave me a straw to
grasp at, a religion to place my faith in, even if his temple was admittedly
the wrong belief for me. He gave me *something*--a truth. A possible
truth. A death, a life, a dead end...what does it matter? There was
something there to sink my teeth into after all those years and all the lies
and the little girls I saw but could not touch.

And, in the end, he gave that hope back to me. He gave me my sister. I
felt her in my arms--real, whole, complete. Alive. He gave me the hope
that one day I *will* find her and hold her in my arms as I've done so many
times in my dreams. He gave me reality.

And then he stole it away.

But the hope, as Scully has taught me, lingers. Roche gave me back my
dreams--he gave me a truth I've never been able to give myself. My sister.

Shadows, in the end. Shadows that are swallowed up by the larger part of
the darkness from which they are born. Shadows that, for once, were cast
out into the harsh sunlight and I found that the sunlight hurt my eyes and
that maybe my destiny was to prefer the shadows to the light.

My life has been about the need to find my sister, and then about something
bigger: about finding truth. A truth that, I admit, will probably never
satisfy me because someone else, somewhere, will know a different version.
If I was delivered an exact replica of Samantha, who looked like her and
talked like her and laughed like her--who was her--and another shadow told
me that there was another 'real' Samantha out there, waiting, I'd be
satisfied with neither and spend the rest of my life searching for the real one.

I'm lost. I come away with nothing. But there are pictures, and letters,
and things. And there are memories. However false they may be, no matter
what, Samantha Mulder was my sister.

<Hey, get out of my life!>

There was nothing I could do.

I had to kill him. The official reports will reflect that--he was about to
shoot a little girl. America wanted him dead, anyway. He was a murderer.
He should have been on Death Row. I will be in the newspapers. I will be a

Killing Roche was justified--killing itself is justified. But that still
doesn't make it right. I wanted to know. I wanted to believe. I wanted to
look into his eyes in the safety of his jail cell and listen to him tell me
*one* *last* *time*.

I believe in UFOs and liver-eating mutants and shapeshifting monsters, but
not in miracles or love or my own heart. There's something to be said, in
that--that maybe, once in awhile, if I just took a break and stayed home,
I'd find something about myself that no shadowy consortium member can tell
me. That no matter what the Project has made me, I am still my own--that I
have beliefs and ideas and an optimism that no conspiracy can touch.

I may not know the truth as Roche would tell it, but I know myself. I know
the nagging doubts and the persistent fears will stay with me, always.
Justifiably. I know the truth is a far ideal and that the quest is often
hopeless. I know this incident means punishment, probation, suspension,

I don't give a damn. Perhaps, someday, there won't be this hunger in me,
this need to find any truth but the one in myself I'm so afraid to face.
Perhaps, one day, I can stop looking and settle down to mourn the loss of my
sister and my faith. Perhaps, then, I can move on.

But that would mean giving up this hope, this one belief I've learned to
hang on to. And I'm not ready to let go of that, not just yet. So, for
now, I tuck the faded cloth heart into the sloppily-ordered desk, and let it
remind me of the one truth I do know.

I have Scully. I have truth. I will move on. I loved her. She was my
sister. And even now, here, in this room, in the silence, I fancy I can
hear her calling, shrieking, laughing.

Even in silence.
THE END: I've never written this kind of story before and I'd really
appreciate some raw, honest criticism. Vince Gilligan can rest assured: I
won't be eclipsing his brilliance any time soon. All comments accepted and
joyfully responded to at: Thanks!
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
we *like* it!"
_ _
\ / For information
\ / please write:
/ \ Anonymous
/ \ Dean Warner, moderator
- -