It was 6 am when Mulder woke up in the passenger seat of his Taurus. The sun was rising and Mulder could see glimpses of the ocean as the car drove along. He and Edwin had swapped places around midnight when they had stopped off at a diner near Stamford because Mulder was finally feeling very hungry. At the time he had been surprised to learn that they were only around halfway to their destination.
"Do we need to stop in a motel?" he had asked between bites of his hamburger. Edwin shook his head.
"No, I don't need to sleep."
"Not really, I mean I can sleep if I want to but it's not a vital function and it's one that takes a long time to develop. I go months without sleeping, gives me lots of spare time to read, learn new skills and study. I have to say it was one of the best things about the change, no longer feeling tired. Providing I've eaten I have a consistent energy to get on with things. Of course I have to feign tiredness at the end of the day when I'm at work or around others socially but that becomes second nature quite quickly for those of us who spend our time amongst humans. I just pick up cues from others."
"Is it hard?" Mulder asked suddenly, it was a question that had been playing on his mind all day but he hadn't found the guts to ask out loud.
"Being around humans?" Edwin asked, Mulder nodded. "Not really no, I mean if I haven't eaten in a long time then yes it does become a bit more difficult but I make sure I eat regularly and don't allow myself to become hungry so it's not a problem. It's like you walking into a supermarket so I'm told, if you're really hungry then all that food around you is a temptation and you end up buying a lot and eating snacks on your way around but if you're not then you just get on with your shopping and don't really think about the food itself. Plus there's another aspect for me, I don't want to be a killer so I choose not to be even when the temptation is really strong. I'm sure you've been so angry with someone you've wanted to kill them, but you don't want to be a killer either so you didn't?" Mulder nodded slowly.
"Have you ever killed anyone?" Mulder asked. Edwin stared at him for a moment as if weighing up the motive behind the question.
"Yes, once, when I was just changed. I had already decided that I wouldn't be that kind of vampire, the kind that feel it is a biological duty of some sort to kill humans simply because we're top of the food chain. They are out there but I didn't want to be a part of it. I was hungry, back then I didn't have the resources or the knowledge and skills to get food regularly like I do now. I was walking through a city at night, I think it might have been Los Angeles, and I heard a scream. I saw a man dragging a woman down an alley with a knife to her throat. He'd cut her already so I could smell the blood and it made me even hungrier. I went toward them at first with the intent of just helping her escape, then I saw what he was doing to her and it made me sick. I felt this fury inside me at what he was doing to this poor girl so I charged down the alley and pulled him off her. I told her to run and she did, fled out of there faster than lightning. The guy turned on me and stabbed me but his blade shattered when it hit my chest. I don't know what I thought because the rage was blinding me, I just killed him on the spot and I'll be honest, it felt good. I felt like he deserved it, deep down I still do, but I do regret what I did now." The two men stared at each other and Mulder regarded him carefully.
"I don't know if I could have done much differently from you had it been me in that alley," Mulder finally said. Edwin sat in silence for a moment.
"Possibly not, and the man was a monster without question, but I can't look back without thinking to myself that whatever he might have been, I took a son away from his mother and father that night. Whatever he may have deserved, I doubt they deserved to lose their child, especially in so horrific a manner. That's why I've never done it since, and I plan to never do it again."
"Then how do you feed yourself?" Mulder asked.
"There's a network of us set up in hospitals and blood banks to monitor donated blood that is about to be discarded because of usage dates expiring or tests coming back to show infections that mean they can't be used in treatment. Naturally that doesn't account for all that much, the hospitals are good at using what they're given. Most of us that choose not to kill humans live off animals, it's why most vampires set up in more remote regions - bigger game."
"Animals?" Mulder asked in surprise, "I wouldn't have had you down as the hunting type."
"What would be the alternative?" Edwin asked simply. "I have to admit, my position has allowed me certain advantages. I may or may not have helped some patients of mine who no longer wished to remain in this world to cross over to the next with a little more dignity than their condition might otherwise have allowed. But that's a question of ethics that's far too complex for this time of night in a cheap diner."
Mulder had considered Edwin's words at the time and as he paid for his dinner. Now as he awoke in the pink light of a New England dawn, they came back to him along with an image of Scully. He hadn't asked Edwin if he knew how she was choosing to get food, he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know. He stretched awkwardly and tried to make sense of road signs as they flew by. Edwin looked over and saw that he was awake.
"Hope you slept well," he said, "you've been out for about five hours."
"Where are we?" asked Mulder groggily, pulling himself up to a better sitting position and looking out at his surroundings.
"We passed Providence just over an hour ago," Edwin told him, "right now we're about half an hour away."
"Can I know exactly where it is we're going?" Mulder asked.
"Well the closest town is West Yarmouth, we're heading out about five miles from there down to a secluded cove. There's only the one house out there where some of our group live."
"A family group, it makes sense for us to live together, gives us others to go out hunting with and sometimes form relationships. There's a couple, Leyla and Tim, who brought their own RV and parked it out in the woods near the house because they wanted their own space. Most of the others live in a sort of house share system, bit like college really. Money's pretty easy to come by so we can afford big houses and there are a lot dotted around the country in remote spots, plenty of space if you want to be alone but others around if you don't."
"Scully's in one of those houses then?" Mulder asked, he wanted his facts straight.
"Yep, one of the biggest because she wanted more privacy and that one has more space, plus the ocean proximity. There are two men and a girl living there with her." Mulder felt worried at the thought of Scully living with two strange men and the worry must have crept into his face because Edwin suddenly chuckled. "Don't worry, Gideon and Harrison are together. They have the attic rooms to themselves. Thea is on the same floor as Dana but she's a pretty private person too so they get along fine together." Mulder nodded and sat quietly watching the countryside go by for a long time.
"They know we're coming?" he asked suddenly, he was starting to feel nervous.
"Yes, I called between patients to let them know. I spoke to Gideon but Dana was there too. Gideon was going to let everyone know you're coming; we don't have humans in the house so anyone coming in might get a shock, they won't have been preparing to be around you. Gideon told me he and Harrison were going to stick around last night to be with Dana and keep her company because she's been in a bit of a state about seeing you again." Mulder made a mental note to thank them. As he did, he saw a sign for West Yarmouth and felt his stomach knot, they were close. Edwin must have sensed the tension in the car increase because he looked over at Mulder.
"Guess I'm just feeling a bit unsure of where I stand now," Mulder admitted.
"Just remember, no matter how strange this all is, inside she's still the woman you remember. She still loves you, that never changed. She's just on a new diet." Mulder laughed but it felt hollow, he knew there was more to this change than a slight change in Scully's eating preferences and what amounted to the world's best plastic surgery. He wasn't really sure exactly who it was he was going to meet.
The car rolled on down a narrow road, the ocean stretched away to Mulder's left and to the right was a forest that seemed to go on forever - no light made it's way through from the other side. The car pulled into the forest and within seconds, the ocean was lost from view. The road wound through the trees and a few minutes later, Mulder felt the car slowing as they turned into a large driveway. Straight ahead was a large grey house, built in an L-shape. To his left stood several outbuildings that had clearly been converted into garages, enough to store at least half a dozen cars before you would need to park on the driveway. The house was white with clapboard shutters and a wooden porch with a large swing on it. Sat on the seat was a man dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt, he watched the car approach then turned and appeared to call over his shoulder. The car rumbled to a halt and Edwin got out, striding over to greet the man on the porch who Mulder assumed must be either Gideon or Harrison. Mulder followed him out of the car a moment later as his nerves began to take hold. Part of him wanted to run. He had just allowed himself to be driven straight into the middle of nowhere and he was surrounded by vampires. He stood shakily and looked around at the house, it was beautiful. He could smell the sea air and hear the waves crashing nearby, the ocean must be just behind it. As he tried to take it all in the front door opened and another man appeared, he was also wearing jeans but he wore a crisply pressed red shirt on top. He was clearly talking to someone still inside, Mulder got the impression he was trying to sooth them and he was obviously holding their hand. Mulder took in a deep breath and took three steps toward the house, trying to look as confident as possible. The man at the door said something and gave a little tug with his arm, gently pulling and suddenly, before Mulder had a chance to prepare himself, he was looking at Scully once more.
This chapter ends what I consider to be Part One of Dana's Choice, thanks for sticking with it so far. The story will be taking a new direction from now as Mulder & Scully fight together again and come to terms with the huge changes in their relationship. I'm really looking forward to sharing it all with you as I'm having so much fun writing it. Thanks again!