*I'm so happy! I found my notebook!*

Title: Lost

Universe: The X-Files

Pairing: Implied future M/S, M/K angst

Rating: G

Summary: Set some time after "The Red and the Black". Mulder's proof blows up in his face once again, but he goes home with something infinitely more valuable.

Archive: Ask first

Notes: This was written in like 98 or 99 I think. I've only made a few minor changes. Eventually I may do a rewrite and lengthen it a bit, but you should find it enjoyable and complete as is.

The sky was a pale blue; nothing but blue as far as the eye could see, with the exception of a few wispy cirrus clouds dangling precariously in the upper atmosphere. The peaceful sky hung over an uninhabitable patch of the southwestern desert. Here, there was no sandy soil, but a massive slab of solidified dirt cracked and jagged. A few scraggly pieces of dried out brush still remained tethered to the dessicated soil, their brown limbs stretching pitifully into a wind that refused to revive them.

The emptiness of this last place devoid of human habitation was ruined actually by the fire that raged beneath the arid earth and scorched the remnants of the underground compound's above ground facade.

The man stood there, shielding his eyes, and watched as his proof once again disappeared in smoke. At least his Armani suit was still intact... at least that's what he would be thinking if he actually cared that much about life right now. No, he wasn't anywhere near suicidal, but he felt a bone deep weariness after coming so close to success only to be met with failure yet again. Failure to secure proof. Failure to save his sister. It ate at him; gnawed the very core of his being.

He caught a flash of brown out of the corner of his eye and tilted his face downward. A little boy stood before him, staring up at the big G-Man. An adorable little boy, really. Mulder figured he was about 6 or 7, but he was so tiny that he could probably pass for about 4 or 5. His hair was short, the softest and silkiest brown imaginable. And he had big green eyes that sparkled like jewels under the desert sun. He was wearing a little green polo shirt and jeans with a pair of sneakers.

Mulder frowned and took a quick glance around the area in search of parents he knew he wouldn't find. He bent forward and placed his hands above his knees.

"What are you doing out here, kid? You shouldn't be here alone."

The little boy didn't respond. He simply continued to look up at Mulder with big, unwavering eyes.

"Ooo... k," Mulder raised his eyebrows and stood up straight. "Do you have a name?"

The little boy brought his index finger up to his lips and mouthed it briefly before he answered in a soft, baby voice, "My name is Alex..." He paused, then continued, "Will you be my daddy?" His eyes conveyed and expectancy and fear like they never had before.

Mulder's eyes glazed over as he became lost in thought, the gears in his mind turning and clicking audibly. He picked up the little boy and held him close against his chest, one arm around the child's back and the other under his rear.

"Sure." Mulder could feel the tiny puff of breath released against his neck.

"Am I going to have a mommy?" the boy asked curiously.

"Sure ya will," enthused Mulder; well for Mulder it was 'enthused' but to a normal person it would probably be more like 'at least it's not monotone.'

Alex's tiny little fingers, still a bit plump from baby fat, twisted the back of Mulder's collar experimentally as he interjected, "But whose house am I going to live at?" His mournful, worried expression was lost on Mulder since the boy was resting his head on the older man's shoulder.

Mulder had begun to walk now. His careful, but deliberately quick, steps taking him away from the scene. He swallowed consciously, regret filling the dried-out husk he referred to as his body. There were so many things that had gone wrong, that he had done wrong. Usually, he'd just continue. 'Never give up the fight for the truth!' But there was something about this last incident that held such finality. It suffocated him.

Mulder returned back to the here and now as a tiny finger began to jab him in the chest incessantly. "Well, you can live with me until your mom and I get married," he mused. "Er... until I propose," he continued to mumble, "... officially start dating... uhh."

Alex rubbed his face into Mulder's shoulder. He liked the feel of Mulder's body heat rising through the silky material from the solid flesh beneath. Little puffs of his hot breath mingled with Mulder's heat in the even hotter and undoubtedly drier desert air. Alex felt that he could stay this way forever, ensconced in Mulder's protective embrace, but he found himself pushing away... his delicate little hands flat against Mulder's chest and his spine arched backward so that he might peer up into sad, puppydog hazel eyes.

"Fox... " he started uncertainly, "Do you still hate me?"

Mulder stopped dead in his tracks, a blank expression on his face. He changed it to a thoughtful look before shaking his head mildly then looking Alex directly in his wide, innocent eyes.

"No, Alex," he said carefully, making each word felt as truth, "I don't hate you anymore."

Satisfied, Alex returned to nuzzling his face against Mulder's shoulder, stubby little arms wrapping a death grip around Mulder's neck.

Also satisfied, Mulder began walking again. He was sure he parked around here somewhere...

"I love you," came a muffled child's voice.

"I know," said Mulder, finally spotting his car. Alex squeezed his neck tighter.

Mulder let out a breath, the rush of air carrying words upon it, "I love you, too, kiddo."