Choices: Pilot
by Creedog VanDrey

Category: The X-Files
Genre: Fantasy, "Choices"
Rating: PG
Language: English
Summery: "Pilot" with a twist. What choices are our favorite agents making in their first case together?
Spoilers: Not a spoiler, but you must be familiar with the Pilot for this story to make any sense.

A/N: This is a novel idea I came up with. I'm not going to describe it to you. Just read the fic and you'll get what I'm doing. If you would like to do a "Choices" version of any episode, then I'll start a page for them on my website. See the author's note at the end of the fic for details.


Choices: Pilot
Two Pawns Play Chess

Time passes in moments… moments which, rushing past, define the path of a life just as surely as they lead towards its end. How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen, to consider whether the path we take in life is our own making or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed. But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes? Might we then see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life? And, seeing those choices, choose another path?

OFFICE OF SECTION CHIEF BLEVINS
FBI HEADQUARTERS
WASHINGTON, D.C.

FBI pathologist Dana Scully's eyebrow rose as Section Chief Scott Blevins started to asked her questions about her job at the FBI and how she'd come to have it.

"Are you familiar with an agent named Fox Mulder?" Scully was asked by the section chief.

"Yes, I am," she replied simply.

After exchanging glances with the man sitting next to him, Blevins, asked a follow-up, "How so?"

"By reputation. He's an Oxford-educated psychologist… who wrote a monograph on serial killers and the occult… that helped to catch Monty Props in 1988. Generally thought of as the best analyst in the Violent Crimes Section."

In life, there are choices…

In such a situation, do we show total professionalism where it would not be unexpected, the so-called Choice A, or, is there a Choice B, where we might allow ourselves to be a little bit human?

"He had a nickname at the Academy… 'Spooky' Mulder," she added.

Scully smiled, but no one else did. Well, maybe that didn't need to be said. No loss.

Scully had to regain her concentration, hearing Blevins mention to her, "…The reason you're here, Agent Scully, is we want you to assist Mulder on these X-Files. You will write field reports on your activities, along with your observations on the validity of the work."

One always has a most comfortable environment, a place where he or she can feel at home, a place of bliss where he or she feels no need to leave. Being uprooted—moved somewhere new, is difficult. How many times had Dana Scully been uprooted and moved somewhere new? 'New' was always a scary place.

Then again, a new place becomes 'the old place,' which won't want to be left when the new 'new place' surfaces.

So… shall we choose Choice A: Take things at face value? That's how it works, after all. Choice B: Read between the lines. You're being "pulled." Why? Ask questions.

"Am I to understand that you want me to debunk the X-Files, sir?"

Bad choice, dammit, I'm supposed to be better than this!

But the response wasn't anything other than what she expected. "Agent Scully, we trust you'll make the proper scientific analysis. You'll want to contact Agent Mulder shortly. We look forward to seeing your reports."

THE X-FILES OFFICE
BASEMENT FLOOR

Mistakes are mistakes, and rarely can they be taken back. But one can become better, learn to adapt, not let one's heart interfere where it doesn't belong. It's all about the flow.

Special Agent Scully, a field agent as of a few minutes ago, and knocks on the partially open door in a secluded room with no windows, only dusty skylights.

The world is a rat race. Pessimistic, yes, but Darwin wasn't a complete fool. People are crafty… adaptive, shall we say? Some actions are the very definition of subversion. Fight back, right?

"Sorry, no one here but the FBI's most unwanted." Let's be clear, shall we?

There is a poster on the wall. There's a UFO on it, too clearly photographed to be real, and the words "I WANT TO BELIEVE." And it wasn't the only image of a spacecraft in the room. Dana Scully is a woman of evidence, but inference had not gotten her anywhere today. The glass ceiling must tremble.

"Agent Mulder, I'm Dana Scully, I've been assigned to work with you." He took off a pair of glasses that belonged on a college professor and shook her hand with utmost politeness, which betrayed his next words.

Choice A: Level oneself. Not a lot of people want to be here. As you know. Choice B: Trust is meant to be earned. Approach with caution.

"Oh, isn't it nice to be suddenly so highly regarded? So, who did you tick off to get stuck with this detail, Scully?"

"Scully." He sets the rules quickly. Hello,"Mulder."

And where had Agent Scully seen that attitude before? Choice A: Level oneself. Some people can see through a poker face. Choice B: Take the higher ground. This assignment is indefinite.

She manufactured the words. "Actually, I'm looking forward to working with you. I've heard a lot about you." Truth be told, there was that tinge of curiosity. And he was a curious sort of man.

"Oh, really? I was under the impression… that you were sent to spy on me."

Choice A: Meet his sarcasm with sarcasm. Just because you haven't been a coiled cobra doesn't mean he has to be. Choice B: Underestimation is not an option if you're getting through this. Maybe try to impress him.

"If you have any doubt about my qualifications or credentials, th—"

"You're a medical doctor; you teach at the Academy. You did your undergraduate degree in physics. 'Einstein's Twin Paradox: A New Interpretation. Dana Scully Senior Thesis.' Now that's a credential, rewriting Einstein."

"Did you bother to read it?" Scully asked. This has gone too far.

"I did," he replied with complete sincerity. "I liked it. It's just that in most of my work, the laws of physics rarely seem to apply."

So, given the news of being assigned a partner, what do we choose? Choice A: Do a little reading up on her. Choice B: Full background check, including reading 30-page senior thesis on graduate-level theoretical astrophysics.

Scully swiftly traded barbs and arguments as her new partner explained the case they would be working on. She noticed something: he didn't look for the oddities; he found them.

Already, she found herself and this man in a conversation dynamic. He came back strong with a line about the limits of science. Now was the time to stakeher claim. "…What I find fantastic is any notion that there are answers beyond the realm of science. The answers are there. You just have to know where to look."

"That's why they put the 'I' in 'FBI.' See you tomorrow morning, Scully, bright and early. We leave for the very plausible" he extended the word, "state of Oregon at eight AM."

Scully had a most amusing thought at that moment: Who knew two pawns could play a game of chess?

BELLEFLEUR, OREGON

Mulder drove, and Scully let him. After all, this was his case. Scully was content to sit in the passenger seat and read the file. This guy's hard to please. Well, when has Dana Scully ever refused a challenge?

Scully began, testing the waters, "You didn't mention yesterday, this case has already been investigated."

"Yeah, the FBI got involved after the first three deaths when local authorities failed to turn up any evidence. Our boys came out here, spent a week, enjoyed the local salmon," he paused and leaned slightly for effect, "which, with a little lemon twist, is just to die for, if you'll pardon the expression. Without explanation, they were called back in. The case was reclassified and buried in the X-Files, till I dug it up last week."

Smirking, Scully had to admit to herself that this guy was at least noble, picking up the discarded leftovers of cases forgotten.

Choice A: Don't further the conversation. There's nothing to add. Choice B: Bait him with the compliment.

"And you found something that they didn't?"

He gave a "hmm" in response, as if to indicate the affirmative.

Not that easy to impress?Challenge accepted. "The autopsy reports of the first three victims show no unidentified marks or tissue samples. But those reports were signed by a different medical examiner than the latest victim."

Choice A: She's obviously baiting you. Take advantage of the situation. Choice B: Bait back. One step forward, one step back is the name of the game.

"That's pretty good, Scully."

A challenge, Mr. Mulder? I'm game.

"Better than you expected, or better than you hoped?"

"I'll let you know when we get past the easy part." An obvious barb for nothing more than effect. Partner?

Mulder proceeded to tell Scully about the plan of action, "…I've arranged to exhume one of the other victims' bodies to see if we can get a tissue sample to match the girl's."

Choice A: Set the purely professional dynamic that will no doubt result in a couple of years of strong, healthy partnership with her. Choice B: Who the hell are you kidding? Your last partner was your lover. What's a little flirtation gotta hurt?

"You're not squeamish about that kind of thing, are ya?" he tossed out to a forensic pathologist. Maybe she'll appreciate the sentiment.

"Never had the pleasure," Scully parried, not appreciating his mock chauvinism. Pleasure.

But before the conversation couldcontinue further, the car's radio and clock went haywire, finally switching to a high-pitched squeal that caused Scully to cover her ears.

"What was that?" Scully asked, perturbed.

Choice A: Explain to your partner what's going on. She's obviously freaked out. Choice B: Hold off on the paranormal explanation. This chick's all about the evidence, and she may not appreciate your strange suspicions.

Without a word, Mulder stopped the car in the middle of the road; got out, Scully following his lead; popped opened the truck; pulled out a can of spray paint; and sprayed a big X in the middle of the road. Still not uttering a sound, he replaced the can and jumped back into the car.

"What the hell was that about?" she asked, irked at his lack of response.

"Oh, you know, probably nothing…"

He put his seat belt and she did the same, giving him a look that would grace her face more in the next seven years than she would ever know.

BELLEFLEUR CEMETERY

Scully stood by, watching the crane slowly pull the coffin out of the ground. True, it was going to be her first exhumed autopsy, but she was well-prepared for it.

Mulder too watched the coffin's slow ascent from the ground. He shouldn't have felt so much excitement about the exhumation of a twenty-year-old boy, but he had faith that he'd find similar scars on his back.

Choice A: Relate to your new partner your expectations. We all want to be on the same page. Choice B: Appeal to her unwavering faith in logic. It's going to be turned up-side-down soon anyway.

Mentioning how the boy, Ray Soames, had confessed to the previous two murders, but was acquitted for lack of evidence, he asked his new partner, who was holding the file, trying to built a sound scenario out of it, "…Did you happen to read the cause of death?"

"Exposure," she read off.

"Missing for only seven hours in July. How does a twenty-year-old boy die of exposure on a warm summer night in Oregon, Doctor Scully?"

But Mulder's challenge was never answered. Nor were his predictions anything close to the next surprise the two encountered. And Scully's preparation went out the window. How in the world can Mulder stand that! she wondered to herself, covering her nose after approaching the fallen, opened coffin.

The body of Ray Soames, or what should have been, was nothing more than a five-foot creature that did not look human. It looked like some decomposing simian or something out of a sci-fi movie. Both agents claimed one of these explanations.

The incident in the car had barely phased Scully. The explanations for the strange occurrences were obviously electromagnetic disturbances, she reasoned to herself, but her theories on the contents of the coffin were not as simple.

Choice A: This is no time for joking. Choice B: Okay, maybe just a little one.

"It's probably a safe bet Ray Soames never made the varsity basketball team."

The coffin was resealed. Now, things get interesting. I hope your ready, Dr. Scully.

BELLEFLEUR MORGUE
10:56 PM

Choice A: This is no time to go off the deep end. The last thing she needs is you getting all giddy. Choice B: Oh, come on! We're lookin' at a freakin' dead alien here!

Mulder, using a large, flash-bulb camera, was taking pictures like a Japanese tourist in Disneyland. "This is amazing, Scully. You know what this could mean? It's almost too big to even comprehend," he related to his partner.

Choice A: Admit that something freaky is going on here. Choice B: Or… we could do this autopsy like the objective pathologist we are.

"Subject is a hundred and fifty-six centimeters in length, weighing fifty-two pounds in extremis. Corpse is in advance stages of decay and desiccation. Distinguishing features include large ocular cavities, oblate cranium… indicates subject is not human."

"If it's not human, what is it?" He wanted her to say she thought it was an alien, but he wasn't the least surprised by the next words that came out of her mouth.

"It's mammalian. My guess is it's a chimpanzee or something from the ape family, possibly an orangutan."

I could have written that line for her myself, Mulder thought to himself.

Choice A: Okay, well it could be an orangutan. Maybe we should slow down. Choice B: Hello? Didn't we just establish that this thing could be an alien? An alien?

Barely able to speak as quickly as his brain was processing the events, he ordered to no one in particular, "I want tissue samples and x-rays. I'd like blood type and toxicology and a full genetic work-up."

Deadpan, Scully asked him, "You're serious?"

No quite answering her, he replied, "What we can't do here, we'll order to go."

"You don't honestly believe this is some kind of an extraterrestrial?" Oh, yes he does, she thought.

Oh, yes I do, he wanted to say.

Scully continued, "This is somebody's sick joke."

Mulder didn't even slow his tirade, "We can do those x-rays here, can't we? Is there any reason we can't do them right now?" But he slowed down, seeing how ahead of himself he was getting. He tried to reassure Scully, "I'm not crazy, Scully. I have the same doubts you do."

Well, she thought, I'lltake the second part on faith for now. You're on your own for the first claim, Spooks.

SCULLY'S HOTEL ROOM
4:37 AM

Let's see. She already thinks you're a nut-job. Choice A: Let her be. She's probably had already enough of you. Choice B: Maybe she'd like to go on a nice run with the nut-job at the most ungodly of hours of the night.

"Pass," Scully replied, to Mulder's late night invitation to jog. Oh, come on, who goes running at 4:45 in the morning?

Wait a second. Who's upat 4:45 in the morning examining autopsy results? Maybe sleep is a good thing.

OUTSIDE RAYMON COUNTY STATE PSYCHIATRIST HOSPITAL

Scully walked across the parking lot, mind whirling, furious, but finding it difficult to zero in on any particular aspect. She had not enjoyed this visit.

Okay, she's pissed. Yeah, that's probably the right word for it, Mulder thinks. Choice A: Apologies are good. Comfort is good. Compromise is good. Choice B: Pull the rug out from under her. Not to be mean, but she's going to have to get used to things not making sense if she's going to be working with you. Maybe a joke will soften the blow.

"What's his name, er… Billy said he was sorry he didn't get to say goodbye."

You'd think I'd learn… you'd think I'd know better…

Huffing, she asked him, point-blank, "How did you know that girl was going to have the marks?"

"I don't know, lucky guess." Well, okay, that and major suspicions and the fact I'm a skilled criminologist. Why am I still making jokes with this broad? You think I'd learn.

"Damn it, Mulder, cut the crap. What is going on here? What do you know about those marks? What are they?"

Choice A: Give her your hypothesis. She's earned it. Choice B: Wait a second. Tell this science-based forensic pathologist that you think aliens have abducted and experimented on these kids. Didn't they send this woman to debunk your work? Nuh-huh, Honey, you're gonna earn my trust.

"Why? So you can put it down in your little report? I don't think you're ready for what I think."

"I'm here to solve this case, Mulder, I want the truth."

Damn.

She used the T-word.

You know you can't argue with that if you have any integrity and self-respect.

"The truth? I think those kids have been abducted."

"By who?" She realized what he meant, but instinct is instinct.

He knew she realized what he meant, so he baited, "By what."

"You don't really believe that?" Why do I ask questions I already know the answers to?

Why does she ask questions she already knows the answers to?

Choice A: Give her the fact, the details, the specifics. Show her your reasoning. She won't agree, but at least you'll be open. Choice B: No. You can feel sorry for her, but you're leading this investigation. She's a smart woman, so she can't deny without losing her own self-respect. Time for another challenge.

"Do you have a better explanation?"

He's baiting again. Okay, you wanna know what I think! Here's what I think: "I'll buy that girl is suffering some kind of pronounced psychosis. Whether it's organic or the result of those marks, I can't say. But to say that they've been riding around in flying saucers; it's crazy, Mulder; there is nothing to support that." See, there're my cards. Where're yours?

"Nothing scientific, you mean." My cards. Concise, aren't I?

A show-down. Choice A: Fight fire with fire. Choice B: The middle ground.

Scully recapped, more for herself than for her partner, "There has got to be an explanation. You've got four victims. All of them died in or near the woods. They found Karen Swenson's body in the forest in her pajamas, ten miles from her house. How did she get there? What were those kids doing out there in the forest?"

Okay, she's appealing to my strengths again. She's got that down.

Not only that, but she's offering the middle ground. When will I learn?

I-84 NEAR THE COLLUM NATIONAL FOREST

Scully had found herself with many enemies and adversaries recently. First, the executive bureaucrats that stuck her where she was. Then, there was Mulder, who was definitely more of an adversary than an enemy. Now, given Sheriff Miles' and Dr. Nemman's suspicious behaviors, she realized that Mulder was definitely her singular ally in this fiasco.

He seemed to appreciate her findings: the strange, fine dust that she'd shown him while they were driving back to the hotel. He seemed to dismiss, however, her explanation of occult activity. Hmm, I thought he'd like that one.

"You okay, Mulder?" she asked loudly to the lanky man, hoping she was being heard over the heavy rain outside the car,but heseemed tooabsorbed in the compass. The wildly erratic behavior of the compass caught her eyeseconds before he looked ahead, mumbling a reply.

But before either of them could continue, a bright light enveloped them and the car.

"What happened?" she asked, after the light disappeared moments later. Okay, this is getting to be too much.

"We lost power, brakes, steering, everything," he replied, his tone a reflection her bewilderment.

It was 9:03 before the light. It's 9:12 now. Choice A: Maybe you should stay mum for now. She's probably a tadfreaked out right now. Choice B: We've lost nine minutes! Okay, she's a little freaked, but what's the worst that can happen?

"We lost nine minutes." He jumped out of the car.

Scully didn't know if she'd heard him right. What she had heard: their losing nine minutes, was a perfectly plausible comment from Mulder, but let's just check for our own sanity, shall we?

"We lost what?" she asked, following him into the pouring rain.

He was acting like a five-year-old boy in a toy store. "Nine minutes! I looked at my watch just before the flash and it was nine o'three. It just turned nine-thirteen." He ran backwards, away from the speechless Scully. "Look! Look!" he cried, as she came to investigate.

There was a very familiar painted X on the road. Okay, in retrospect, this kind of thing blew a fuse with her before, so maybe I'd better be more careful.

"Oh, ho, yes! Abductees… people who have made UFO sightings; they've reported unexplained time loss." You'd think I'd learn.

"Come on." She was getting tired of saying that. Do I actually expect him to refute one of his own theories?

"Gone, just like that!" he told her. He had lost all ties with rationality several minutes ago.

Choice A: Okay, he may act crazy, but he isn't a liar and he isn't psychotic. Let's just entertain the premise for a second. Choice B: You're not going off the deep end unless you're going kicking and screaming.

"No, wait a minute. You're saying that, that time disappeared. Time can't just disappear, it's, it's, it's a universal invariant!" Okay, not quite true, but he's not the one who studied Einsteinian physics. For all practical purposes, you're right, Dana.

The car suddenly turned itself back on. Okay, that was creepy, Scully thought, realizing she couldn't blame Mulder entirely for the vicious slaying of her sanity.

Choice A: Jokes have fallen flat on all counts. Choice B: Oh, who are you to deny your own personality?

"Not in this zip code."

With a single last glance at the ominous X, Scully hopped into the car, rebuilding her sanity by the moment.

SCULLY'S HOTEL ROOM

Choice A: Let's be honest with ourselves. The entire day has been nothing but unexplained events where alien-chasing nut-job's theories have made perfect sense, allowing youtoloosen your grasp on sensibility for just a moment. Choice B: Be true to self. Innocent until proven guilty equals scientific until proven paranormal.

"Agent Mulder's insistence of time loss due to unknown forces cannot be validated or substantiated by this witness…" Scully wrote into her laptop's word processor before the power went out and her one-sentence report went to the BigC Drivein the Sky.

Scully, quite unnerved by the day's… damn, I'll say it… paranormal turn of events, she felt it was the perfect time to have a bath. But what was that on her back?

Choice A: Remain a professional with a cool head. Redress, making sure to put on a tee-shirt that can be pulled up so that back can be examined by partner of two and a half days. Choice B: Show up in his room, completely unnerved, and drop robe, allowing self to be seen in nothing but lingerie…

"I want you to look at something…"

Silence.

"Mulder, what are they?"

"Mosquito bites."

Choice B, continued: …and embrace partner of two and half days in a tight hug after reassuring news.

Mulder's goofy grin disappeared as Scully burrowed into him, realizing the full extent of the effect of the day's experiences on this practical-minded redhead. Maybe it's time to try out that comfort thing you've been toying with all day.

Choice A: A little reassurance to partner whose world is likely being turned up-side-down by faith-shaking events. Choice B: A long talk, deep into the night, allowing for large leaps of trusts to be gained from a person who has little trust to give out.

"I was twelve when it happened. My sister was eight. She just disappeared out of her bed one night. Just gone, vanished. No note, no phone calls, no evidence of anything."

Mulder counted the hours that he knew this woman. Less than seventy-two. He'd never told"the Story"to a woman (or man) who he'd known for three days, not even to get them into bed (the women, that is).

Do you trust this woman? Well, yeah, I mean, I'm beginning to at least, and to really trust her at that. So, should we give up on the whole tight (and often deserted) circle of trust thing you got going on? Choice A: Well, okay, for now, at least. Choice B: Hold it. Let's not change the rules just yet. People have earned in due time.

He stopped with his spiel momentarily, but she pressed him to go on. He did. "There's classified government information I've being trying to access, but someone has been blocking my attempts to get at it."

"And they're afraid of what? That, that you'll leak this information?"

"You're a part of that agenda, you know that." It's the last time, Scully, I promise.

It wouldn't be quite the last time, but at least the level of frequency was about to plummet.

You're getting to him. You're speaking his language, getting into his head. She knows what to say. Choice A: I do? Choice B: You do. Be frank.

"I'm not a part of any agenda. You've got to trust me. I'm here just like you, to solve this."

Woman, stop speaking my language! Get out of my head!

Scully saw the proverbial walls breaking down. He was looking right into her, which was very unnerving for such a private woman, but this man had a passion she admired, and she would get very little of it if she didn't open up.

But not too much. We can't have him getting in too far. That would not work at all.

Would it?

But her thoughts were broken by a ringing in ears.

Or the phone. Same difference.

Mulder put down the phone, "That was some woman… she just said Peggy O'Dell was dead."

"The girl in the wheelchair?" Dana Scully never expected a case to test her patience so.

RURAL HIGHWAY 133

What was I thinking about having my patience tested? Boy, what did I know?

First, there was the truck driver that claimed a wheelchair-bound girl ran in front of his trunk. She was D.O.A. Scientific explanations? I got nothing.

Then, there was Mulder so kindly pointing out that her watch had stopped at 9:03 PM. Why does he always have to be right?

Then, the autopsy bay was trashed and the corpse stolen. Okay, just who steals a corpse? Don't answer that.

And, just to top off the whole party, the motel burned to the ground. Okay, you took Statistics in college. Ninety-nine percent of the evidence disappearing from multiple locations in a period of hours can hardly be called a coincidence. It's called a cover-up, a conspiracy. Just what did you sign up for?

Oh, wait, you didn't. You were assigned here. Make sure to send that thank-you note to Section Chief Blevins promptly. Oh, yeah, you do that.

ANNABELLE'S DINER
BELLEFLEUR, OR

Through the diner window, Scully watched Theresa Nemman being driven off by her father and Sheriff Miles. Yes, Billy's father; it's a small world.

Let's see, the look on her face definitely says she's on the same page as you. Choice A: Not a moment to lose. Choice B: How do I start conversations again?

Mulder joked, "Eh, you gotta love this place. Everyday's like Halloween."

"They know, Mulder. They know who's responsible for the murders."

"They know something."

Don't tell me we're on the same page. Don't tell me he's right. I don't think I could handle it.

"Makes you wonder what's in those other two graves."

Scully sighed, thinking, I feel this awful sense of foreboding. I'm not sure I want to know what going to happen next.

BELLEFLEUR CEMETERY
5:07 PM

Yeah, I didn't want to know.

The graves were empty, dug up and emptied. The corpses are gone. Again.

"What's going on here?" Besides the fact I'm going insane?

"I think I know who did it. I think I know who killed Karen Swanson."

It was raining. Hard. Very hard. I am so beyond soaked.

"Who? The detective?"

Choice A: A nice, "He's one of the suspects I'm considering, but I'm not sure" should suffice. Choice B: Drop the bomb.

"The detective's son. Billy Miles," Mulder answered, plainly.

Choice A: How often has he been right in the last few days? Every time? Choice B: You're about one root short of a tree floating down the river of insanity. Stay grounded at all costs.

"The boy in the hospital? The vegetable! Billy Miles, a boy who's been in a coma for the last four years, got out here and dug up these graves?"

Mulder countered, "Peggy O'Dell was bound to a wheelchair but she ran in front of that truck. Look, I'm not making this up; it all fits the profile of alien abduction."

No! Not logic. Stop speaking my language!

"This fits the profile?"

"Yes. Peggy O'Dell was killed at around nine o'clock. That's right around the time we lost nine minutes on the highway. I think that something happened in that nine minutes. I think that time, as we know it, stopped. And something took control over it."

Wow, one bomb after another. I really can drop them.

Scully smiled, about to laugh the laugh of a crazy person.

"You think I'm crazy," he said as a statement, more than as an inquiry.

Scully nodded, but starts to turn and walk away, her face becoming grimmer by the minutes.

"What?" he asked.

Choice A: Don't say it. Don't get caught in his trap. You are standing on the ledge of insanity. Choice B: One foot over the void.

Scully painfully admitted, "Peggy O'Dell's watch stopped a couple of minutes after nine. I made a note of it when I saw the body."

I'm about to lose it. I know it.

The words barely registered in Scully brain as Mulder spoke them. "That's the reason the kids come to the forest, because the forest controls them and summons them there. And, and, and the marks are from, from some kind of test that's being done on them. And, and that may be causing some kind of genetic mutation which would explain the body that we dug up."

Choice A: You losing that root that you struggledto keep planted not three minutes ago. Choice B: Ah, what the hell. At least you won't be alone.

"And the force summoned Theresa Nemman's body into the woods tonight?" Scully prompted.

"Yes, but it was Billy Miles who took her there, summoned by some alien impulse. That's it!"

Scully laughed. She laughed the laugh of a crazy person again. I cannot be having this conversation, but I am.

I am standing out in the middle of the pouring rain, soaked to the bone, having a conversation that involves aliens, mysterious psychic forces, government conspiraciesand cover-ups, and medical miracles, with a man whose nickname is "Spooky."

And the cherry on this sundae of a parody? I might actually be enjoying myself.

"We're going to pay a visit to Billy Miles."

RAYMON COUNTY STATE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL

And that they did.

They talked with an oblivious nurse about whether Billy Miles got up last night.

There was dirt on his feet. How does a comatose boy in a sterile hospital get dirt on his feet? Oh, and not just any dirt. The same ashy grey dirt that we saw in the woods. The Woods. Scully was tired of those damnwoods.

Choice A: Why do we even bother witha refutation anymore? Go to Choice B already. Choice B: Two feet over the ledge, but you're still holding on. Remedy that, shall we?

"That kid may have killed Peggy O'Dell. I don't believe this." Or do I? "It's crazy! He was in the woods."

Choice A: Way to go! You finally got to her. Choice B: Isn't that something I would say? She's probably on the edge of sanity right now.

Ifhe onlyknew.

"You sure?" Of course she's not sure, but she's suspending belief. Let her, we'll just anchor each other.

Whoa! How did we get to the point where we anchor each other?

Scully held up the vial. Great, he's trying to anchor me now. "This is the same stuff that I took a handful of in the woods."

"Okay, then maybe we should take it and run a lab test…" I sound like a scientist. Um, holy role reversals, Batman!

"We lost the original sample in the fire. What else could it be?" I'm taking leaps of faith now. What kind of Freaky Friday is this?

Congratulations, good sir, you are victorious. What shall you do with this honor? Choice A: Take on a Padawan. She will soon feel the Force. Choice B: No, it's all about the odd couple.

"All right, but I just want you to understand what it is you're saying." He did that thing with his eyes again: probing her.

"You said it yourself," she said, her face steady.

"Yeah, but you have to write it down in your report."

Scully stopped. The report. It was then that she realized that Mulder needed her sanity. She calmed her nerves and did what she did best.

"You're right. We'll take another sample from the forest… and run a comparison before we do anything."

Mulder smiled.

COLLUM NATIONAL FOREST

Mulder stood, watching Billy Miles hug his father. Theresa was on the ground. Neither of them had the welts on the small of their backs anymore.

Mulder suddenly ran through the woods, feeling drawn to his partner. She wasn't going to believe him. And he was glad. And he smiled.

OFFICE OF SECTION CHIEF BLEVINS
F.B.I. HEADQUARTERS
WASHINGTON, D.C.

Scully was dreading this conversation all day.

Choice A: Cover. Say anything. Place the blame somewhere else. Make valid excuses. State your skepticism. Agree that the investigation was fruitless. Choice B: The truth.

"What we've just witnessed, what we've read in your field reports… the scientific basis and credibility just seem wholly unsupportable, you're aware of that?"

"Yes, sir. My reports are personal and subjective. I don't think I've gone so far as to draw any conclusion about what I've seen." Scully was frank. So frank, she was sure the men were furious with her.

"Yes, but how do you prosecute a case like this? With testimony given under hypnosis from a boy who claims that he was given orders from some alien force through an implant in his nose? You have no physical evidence."

Choice A: Your walking a fine line, missy. How 'bout showing respect for your superiors. Choice B: Have you learned nothing in the last few days. I think you know what this situation calls for.

Scully, without a word, without any expression, stood up, took two steps toward Blevins' desk and placed the vial containing the nasal implant on the edge of his desk, and sat back down. The proverbial slap on the face.

"This is the object described by Billy Miles as a communication device. I removed it from the exhumed body."

Integrity bites, don't you think, Mr. Blevins?

Once outside, Scully felt the burden of the glass ceiling come crashing down. The clinking noise was quite liberating.

DANA SCULLY'S APARTMENT
GEORGETOWN, D.C.
MARCH 22

Dana Scully lay in her bed in cotton pajamas, her eyes wide open. You know, they say sleep deprivation causes insanity after a while. I wonder how much Mulder sleeps.

She looked at the digital clock on her bed. The numbers "11:21" appeared, turning to "11:22." Why Scully noticed this with such clarity, she didn't understand, but as always, the phone rings, taking her away from her thoughts.

"Hello?" Who the hell calls this late?

"Scully? It's me…"

"It's me." Funny thing is, I know who "me" is. And I've only known him for two weeks.

"…I haven't been able to sleep. I talked to the D.A.'s office in Raymon County, Oregon. There's no case file on Billy Miles. The paperwork we filed is gone. We need to talk, Scully."

Your partner of sixteen days calls you a half an hour to midnight, wanting to discuss the case. Yes, a weird case. An X-File. Are they all going to be like this?

Choice A: Hang up without a word. Or yell; chastise him. Choice B: C'mon, you know he knows what he's talking about. You're partners now. Partners.

"Y-yes. Tomorrow."

At this point, she prayed. She didn't know how long this journey was going to be. It could take several months. It could take several years. It was in God's hand now. Only He knew where the roads headed. Scully had grown distant with God, not out of spite, but merely because she had found the source of all answers.

But have I? she wondered, the Bellefleur case fresh on her mind. "Fresh" was an understatement.

Scully asked for a favor: the guidance to choose the right path.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
CREEDOG T. VANDREY


A/N: You have no idea how long I worked on this. A long time. But I hope you liked it.

Okay, so you're interested in doing a "Choices" version of one of the episodes? I'd be glad to post it on my homepage. Though, I do have some suggestions. I copped out by using Scully's monologue from all things, but it'd be great if you could start your fic with another quote about fate or choices or whatever. Choose wisely. By the way, if you want to do Never Again, make sure you know what you're doing; you should be an experienced fanfic writer. And if someone out there is willing to take on all things, I'm going to ask that you be experienced and accomplished, because I have high standards for this one. By the way, don't be afraid to be a little creative. There's nothing wrong with thinking outside the box. And don't worry if it's a lot better than mine. I wrote this one merely to start the series. But it was fun.

(Sonriso) - You have no idea, but there's actually going to be a page about this. Don't believe me? Go to my homepage and look up "The Choices Series" under X-Files.