A/N: We wanted to believe… we wanted to call out… Sooner or later, a man's got to face his demons.
Classification: Colonization/Mythology/MSR/William, post I.W.T.B. Canon. Complete.
Spoilers: Left, right, & center. This is best served if you REALLY know your X-Files.
Disclaimer:I wish I made this. This has been my catharsis, five years in the making. Maybe it can be one for you, too.
Warning: Violence, Gratuitous employment of the 'Our little sailor' clause (swearing,) Fluff with two 'f's, Cheesy dialogue, Friendly Ghosts, Melodramatics, Plot devices, Fiji Mermen (no, not really,) Angst, Blasphemy, Dehydration via crying, Scientific Whammies, Plams, Lots & Lots & Lots of… Bees, Magical Growing Scully Cross Chain, Red Herrings. It's going to get strange and ugly before the end.
The Ultimate Congressional Hideaway by Ted Gup from The Washington Post
The Black Riders and Other Lines by Stephen Crane
The Hollow Men by T.S. Elliot
Living My Life by Emma Goldman
Long As I Can See the Light by Creedance Clearwater Revival
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Plastic Jesus by Ed Rush & George Cromarty
Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
For Your Listening Pleasure:
Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner
Dedication: For Revell & Scully, Jr., my former partners-in-crime who will not read this, but once shared the greatest adventures with Nathan, Mike, Ray, & Jake in the Fingerprint Department.
This is also for Requiem_X, for reasons I'll note later. Special thanks also go to the loyal reviewers who have been along for most of the ride – thank you for your encouragement and kind words.
There is a house built out of stone
Wooden floors, walls and windowsills...
Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust…
This is a place where I don't feel alone
This is a place where I feel at home...
Cause, I built a home
Until it disappeared
And now, it's time to leave and turn to dust...
Out in the garden where we planted the seeds
There is a tree as old as me
Branches were sewn by the color of green
Ground had arose and passed its knees
By the cracks of the skin I climbed to the top
I climbed the tree to see the world
When the gusts came around to blow me down
I held on as tightly as you held onto me
I held on as tightly as you held onto me...
To Build A Home by Patrick Watson & The Cinematic Orchestra
"Should the wide world roll away,
Leaving black terror,
Nor God, nor man, nor place to stand
Would be to me essential,
If thou and thy white arms were there,
And the fall to doom a long way."
- Stephen Crane, X
OUR LADY OF SORROWS HOSPITAL
December 22, 2012
What little was known was that swarms of aggressive bees were invading suburban areas across the Americas and Central Europe, infecting citizens with an unknown agent that was killing many outright while other victims were rendered comatose shortly after trying to infect as many others as possible. The hospitals had no precedent for treatment of the presumed venomous substance and as patients filled the available beds of the hospital, individuals who were otherwise stable were propped in chairs and against walls where staff wouldn't trip over them as they rushed to treat those suffering cardiac arrest, asphyxiation, and shock.
Terrified families that had been near the scene of the original attacks were sealing their homes with anything available in an attempt to avoid similar fates. The President had made a special address to the nation earlier to declare the pandemic a national emergency and to encourage people to remain calm and safe in their homes, but it did little to dampen the sense of panic the staff and families of the victims felt within the hospital. Though the National Guard had been mobilized, there was no indication of their presence and it was all a clusterfuck of epic proportions if Dana Scully had ever seen one.
Scully had recognized the altered Variola virus known as "Purity" as soon as she saw it and fought the urge to silently slip away as many of the other staff had through the day. The thought passed briefly through her mind but she tempered it, knowing she was immune to the virus' effects and a Doctor first and foremost. Though she knew many of these patients had little hope, she did what she could as bodies rolled into their wards, unable to abandon hope that she might make some headway in finding a solution or at least halt the progress of the infection. She had lost track of time but noticed the sun was setting as she navigated through the halls to where new patients were incoming.
Scanning the room, her heart sank at the hopelessness of the situation hit her when she saw the masses that crowded the room and stretched beyond the doors. Triage was collapsing beneath the strain and a nurse was arguing loudly with another doctor over why the hospital would not admit any additional patients. Her pleas to put the victims on ice to slow the virus and to treat the victims for Smallpox had been ignored. The other doctors insisted on treating the virus by outdated federal guidelines that would only hasten their patients' deaths. They had already run out of most of the medicines and antivirals they had been using to treat the victims and the situation was deteriorating fast. Knowing their endeavor was futile, Scully struggled to remain calm and stifle the angry tears she felt well up. It was all happening too quickly. Still she could not give up, even if it meant she could only ease the suffering of the patients who had no hope.
Scanning the triage for anyone who might need care unrelated to the virus, she glanced at a small girl held in the arms of her father and a teenage boy wearing a baseball hat before her eyes locked with another man's she hadn't seen in over a year. She was going to him then, overwhelmed with relief, overcome by love, and a few seconds passed before his arms wound around her hips and neck and her lips met his as they collided. They reunited then like divers poisonously deprived of air and a momentary eternity passed before they parted gasping and gazed at one another, the silence between them speaking more than words dare convey. Slowly then, as if assuring himself of her existence, he left his hand brush a loose lock back from her forehead before he cupped her cheek with his hand and brushed away the tears that had slipped loose. Losing the tight grip she had reined over her emotions through the day, she embraced him tightly then tearfully, pressing her cheek against his chest as she sighed with the relief that he was alive and here with his arms around her again.
"I'm so happy to see you! God, Mulder… where the hell have you been?"
Hugging her tighter to him, Mulder laid his head down against hers as he rubbed his hands up and down her back, relishing their contact and the relief it brought him. "I told you I'd come back for you. I tried calling but the networks are gone. We have to get out of here." His heart had ached at the sight of her and he had feared the worst when he had not been able to reach her. There was so much to do in such little time, so much he still needed to tell her.
"Mulder, these people need my help." She began to pull away from him, but he held her hand tight in his.
"I'm not leaving without you. There's nothing we can do for them and you know it," Mulder said, locking eyes with his partner. "Come with me, Scully. Trust me, I don't have time to explain anything - but we need to go now."
Scully looked away from him at the panicked faces, saw the tears and frustration set deep in worry lines. She desperately wished there was something she could do to ease their suffering, but Mulder saw her resolve slacken and took the opportunity to lead her through the horde toward the exit. Screams erupted behind them and a fight broke out as a man convulsed and began spewing black oil across the individuals standing close to him.
They ran out of the hospital through the ensuing panic and Mulder led them to a sedan parked by the road. Reaching inside, he grabbed two capped containers and tossed one to Scully over the roof of the vehicle.
"It's gas, douse yourself."
"Right here? Now?"
"If you don't want to risk ending up like that man in there, just do it." Mulder had already poured his bottle over his head and was wiping it into the creases of his clothes.
Cars were everywhere near the hospital but there were very few outside the immediate vicinity. Mulder had known the masses would conglomerate in areas where they thought they might find safety, trapped and waiting for death like moths to flame. Nausea threatened to overwhelm him as the gasoline fumes burned his eyes and tempted a migraine but he forced himself to focus on the present.
It was only after they had driven several blocks and her pulse had slowed that Scully appreciated how much her former partner had changed. Mulder seemed leaner and had grown his beard back longer, appearing as hard and as wild as she had ever known him. He was attractive in a primeval sort of way and she caught herself turning away as a blush swept her features when indecent thoughts crept into her mind. Their parting had been too long and their brief reunion a reminder of what she had been missing. Despite everything that had transpired and the fury she felt over the situation, Scully secretly thrilled to see Mulder and was glad he was safe. If the world as they knew it was truly unraveling, there was no one else she would rather be with at the end of days. For all his faults, she had loved this man a long time and always would. As if fastening her fate, she pressed the clasp of the seatbelt into place.
"Where are we going, Mulder?"
"Are you packed?" he asked.
"I have a suitcase ready if you call that packing. This is it, isn't it? I didn't even get my car and all my other things are back at the hospital." She was feeling annoyed at Mulder's selective deafness and afraid that he would confirm the truth she would sooner deny.
Mulder grimaced as the sun flared behind a cloud, watching the landscape in the distance. "It is what it is. The fix is in, Scully. Bees are spreading the Black Oil, knocking people out so they can serve as incubators. Once the initial decimation is over the Colonists will harvest what they need and repopulate. There won't be much time until they start hatching out but we should be safe by then."
Scully sighed softly as she had no argument to offer and looked out the window at silent streets already empty and quiet, startling in their contrast to the hustling city she had left behind when she reported to the hospital for her late shift last night. She wished she could refute what Mulder was saying but knew better than to hope she was only dreaming. It surprised her that she didn't feel shocked by his revelation but only a vague numbness, as if it could not actually be true. "I didn't want to believe, Mulder. I'm sorry I doubted you," she whispered.
Mulder reached for her hand with his and flashed a small understanding smile at her admission in the fading sunlight before he returned his eyes to the road, choking the emotions that threatened to keep him from speaking. "I'm so relieved to see you're alright. I was really worried. I've missed you so much, and when I couldn't reach you, Scully I… There's so much I need to tell you." He had turned the sedan onto the dusty road that led to the home they had shared and drove through the open gate that typically separated their secluded driveway from the rest of civilization. Mulder slowed the car, distracted by the sight. "Have you been letting that open?" They had kept it shut devoutly when they had shared their former residence.
"No. I shut it before I left last night, like I always do."
Mulder reached for the console and withdrew his sidearm. "Packing any heat?"
Scully shook her head, realizing the small weapon she typically concealed was back with her other items at the hospital. Following Mulder's outstretched finger, she found a loaded handgun inside the glove compartment. It had been a long time since she had fired a weapon, and its comforting weight and grip in her hand contrasted the settling fear that everything she had once known in her life was over.
Mulder parked the car outside and the former agents cautiously approached their house with their weapons drawn. Everything was quiet inside as they cased the house slowly and it appeared as if nothing had been disturbed. Mulder felt then like he had been gone forever, seeing their house absent of his presence. It enhanced the nausea he had felt since everything went to Hell.
He had often dreamed of Scully in this house on the rare occasions he had slept soundly while away and the narcotic bliss of those dreams played vividly as he looked over the elements of their life together he had left behind. Eyes settling shut as he glanced at their couch, he remembered her covering him with a blanket once and how he had deftly turned at just the right moment so that he was able to pull her down on top of him. The sound of her high and light laughter at his tactics haunted him as much as the electrified texture of her lips against his in the heated passion that followed. Wiping eyes he did not want to open even as he touched a lost finger to his lip, Mulder turned away and moved toward the stairs. The world was turning, and he knew the things they had shared together here were already the finest and rarest types of luxuries. For nearly five years, they had happiness, love, safety, and space. This had been their private retreat and Mulder had spent many hours remodeling the old house into a comfortable home they both enjoyed. He had wanted to grow old with Scully here, coat the furniture and the walls with the dust of memories that he and Dana shared.
Shaking himself from his trance, he couldn't help but wonder how he had managed to leave as he looked up the stairs toward the bedroom that he and Scully had shared. With a solid tug, Mulder lifted the dusty lid of the banister post from its place stationed at the end of the stairs. Beneath it laid a perfectly carved space that held a small switchblade gimlet. He had placed it here when he had rebuilt the stairs. Having one of his own already, he had attempted to give this one to Scully before but she had wanted nothing to do with it, claiming it was refuse from a previous life. Examining it, he slipped it into his pocket before proceeding upstairs.
Two suitcases came packed from inside their bedroom closet, but Scully took a few moments to add her laptop and a few other essentials. She finished the packing ritual in heated silence, disturbed by the gravity of the situation and her inability to change the necessity of their action, reliving her own memories.
"My Knicks hoodie! – I've missed this." Mulder grabbed the familiar garment from their bed as he landed on it, destroying her ruminations. "How did I leave without it?"
Scully grabbed it from his hands and shoved it into her suitcase, cheeks flushing. "You didn't. I kifed it before you left. I didn't want you to leave." She didn't share that she had slept in it every single night since he had left.
Mulder sighed to himself having known this conversation was bound to happen though he wished it had come up later. "I wanted you to come with me. You could have, Scully."
"We could have had another year." Scully refused to look up from her bag. There was an edge to her voice that Mulder knew well.
"The date was set a long time ago," he half pleaded, half spat, "I couldn't just ignore it."
"You didn't have any proof!" The zipper of her last suitcase punctuated the statement as Scully nailed him with her gaze.
While Mulder felt his own blood pressure rising, he refused to let the growing anger he felt raise his voice. He flexed his jaw unconsciously, considering his next words carefully after he started once and cut himself off.
"I turned out to be right though, and there's a place for us now – there wouldn't have been anywhere to go if I… I want us to live and be safe, Scully. I traded a year for what I hope are many more. It won't be this, but we'll be together and alive whatever may come."
Scully closed her eyes, fighting back tears and rage. He was right, but she didn't like it. Did not like all the nights she had spent alone in their empty house thinking about him while feeling dead inside. Did not appreciate the complete lack of communication or wandering every other moment if he was hurt somewhere needing her help. Did not like his ambiguous hints about where they were going or how he was avoiding every question she posed.
"Why didn't you contact me? You always had before. Nothing Mulder, a whole year!" She turned to him so he could see the hurt evident in her features, and Mulder knew the torment as his own sense of loss.
"It wasn't an option this time – anything I sent or did could have jeopardized everything. I told you I'd come for you and I have." Mulder moved slowly from the bed and embraced her, hugging her tightly against him. "It was hell for me, Scully." Speaking softly, he braced his forehead against hers. "Every waking hour… I've barely slept, thinking of you here by yourself, here all alone. If something would have happened to you… I couldn't handle it, Scully. You know I didn't leave in order to hurt you."
He lifted her chin to meet his gaze when she would not and brushed away a tear that escaped to her cheek when she finally relented and met his gaze. "There's something I need you to have." Taking her hand in his, Mulder slipped the switchblade from his pocket into her palm and closed her fingers around it. Looking down at the strange cylinder, it took Scully a moment to recognize its shape and purpose. Realization mixed with fear in her features and she immediately tried to push it back into his hand.
"I don't want anything to do with this. I don't take lives anymore, Mulder, I save them." Looking up into Mulder's eyes, she saw something strange pass that had not been there moments before - his panic face. She could see now that he was masking a deep layer of agony she hadn't noticed before, something he wasn't letting her glimpse into and she gripped his arm in response. "Mulder, what is it? Tell me." Worry for him began to overcrowd the other thoughts flooding her brain as her own brow creased to match his.
"I…um…" Mulder tried to think of how to phrase any of the myriad of things he needed to say but couldn't articulate any of them. "You have to take it now, Scully. I'll explain, but later. Always keep it on you, okay." Kissing her forehead softly, he took her bags and went to the car. He needed her acceptance and knew she needed time they didn't have.
Scully shut off the water and unplugged appliances as she moved downstairs. She would not tolerate the thought that they might not be able to return and wished there was time to board up the windows. As she moved around the house, she tried calling her Mother for the fifth time that day but felt the fear grip her tighter when there was no dial tone. For what felt like the thousandth time within the same span, she prayed that she had made it safely to Bill's from the airport.
They had found no evidence of anyone in the house and if someone had been there, they had been very good. Delivery drivers had left the gate open by accident in the past, but the gut instinct they had both come to trust over the years dictated that it had been a purposeful move on someone's part, especially in light of the day's events. She shut the curtains as she chewed over the information she had observed. The darkness had invaded her home, but she had never had to abandon it in the past. Abandoning those she was tasked to care for, abandoning her home, she felt like a traitor.
Mulder didn't like the delay but knew Scully was furious with him and was already feeling overwhelmed by what had happened. He wanted to rush her, but couldn't risk losing her again. Trunk loaded, he stood observing the small oak he and Scully had planted near the driveway shortly after they had purchased the house, determined to stop running. Planting the memorial had been in honor of their commitment to standing still, settling down, and William's fifth birthday. The brief thought of their son made him feel weak, like the fragile branches of the young sapling. He wondered briefly if his fate would remain intertwined with the tree, if they both would persevere in light of every hardship they faced or if they would both fall down broken.
He looked at their house with longing and at Scully with relief as she finally joined him. "This whole alien apocalypse thing is really going to destroy property values in the neighborhood." He looked to Scully to smile, but saw she had none to offer. "I'm sorry we have to leave." His expression was somber when he reached out for her hand absently, needing to know she was with him, feeling some reassurance when her hand clasped his. "I was really happy here with you."
"Where do we go from here?" Scully asked as she gazed at their joined hands, meaning it literally but sensing the question had deeper dimensions.
Mulder dodged into the vehicle, dropping her hand along with the emotional overtones, just as he dodged the question. "Have you ever heard of the Greenbrier Resort?"
"No… I don't think so." Scully sighed with disgust as she slid into the passenger seat and reached for her seatbelt, sick of Mulder's cat-and-mouse game. Why didn't he just tell her what he knew instead of dangling it front of her in small tantalizing hints? She felt that he was testing and coddling her like delicate porcelain and that was something he never did unless he was hiding something much worse. She was waiting for him to reveal it, but impatiently.
"As a National Historic Treasure, the Greenbrier's classic architecture, exquisite interior design, carefully sculpted landscape, impeccable service and outstanding amenities have hosted distinguished guests from around the world since 1778." The look Scully shot him as she buckled her seat belt encouraged Mulder to stop reciting the tourist advertisement. This was their life, not an X-File.
"Shortly after we began working together on the X-Files, the Post exposed the secret construction of a bunker built to house Congress in the event of a nuclear war. Under the guise of constructing an additional wing for said prestigious resort, a 113,000 square foot bunker was sunk into the hillside beneath the new addition. Undercover employees of the hotel maintained it at peak readiness for thirty years going so far as to keeping the active prescriptions for all members and enough C rations on hand to feed 1,100 people for three months. After it was decommissioned in 1995, the former owners sold it at a loss to associates who founded the group I've been working with. To answer your question, that's where we're going after a brief detour."
Scully wasn't shocked at this revelation, surprisingly still numb in the sense that nothing could stun her. "Detour for what?"
Mulder tried to school his features but failed, unsure how much he had pissed her off or how much he should reveal given how detached she looked. "I can't say what will happen yet. I don't know what to expect but if we find it, you'll know."
"Well, that's reassuring. I thought time was of the essence." She gazed at the home they had shared one last time, annoyed that Mulder was still being evasive and feeling like she was caught up in some perverse dream. Finally reunited with her beloved again, but on the brink of destruction with little hope of success or survival.
The story of our lives.
Mulder shifted the car in gear and drove down their driveway for the last time.