|Primary Characters:||Pretty much everyone, including The Lone Gunmen, Jimmy, Yves and Kersh|
|Warning:||adult themes, language|
|Description:||Operation run for your life. In this story you get to see pretty much everyone, for the last time.|
Skinner woke up to the insistent ringing of his cell phone. He fished around for it on the bedside table, accidentally knocking over the charger, then finally pressing the call button.
“Sir – we have an emergency.”
“Agent Reyes? What’s going on?”
“The suspect in the child killings in Texas – he’s hanged himself in his cell. And – there’s evidence pointing to someone at the Bureau being involved in faking evidence. You’d better get down here right away.”
“Right. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
Skinner terminated the call, instantly alert. He’d known all along that the supposed child killings – though no bodies had been found – were somehow connected to the alien conspiracy. That man – the suspect – he’d known he had information about the case, but he’d never thought him guilty – or at least not the only one involved. Now they’d never know. Unlike Reyes and Doggett – the thought of the latter still caused Skinner a twinge of conscience – he was fully aware of the other implications. The connections, not only with the alien conspiracy but also certain men in high positions.
Someone had been working against them from the start – someone inside the Bureau. He had a suspicion that the whole thing was an attempt to have the X files shut down for good. For weeks now, he’d been looking over his shoulder. So this was it. He’d even prepared himself for this moment, though he’d never believed the time would come when he’d have to leave his job.
The time was now. He got out of bed, threw on some clothes – not quite the way he usually dressed for work – then grabbed his briefcase – it was large enough to hold more than files. Briefly, he considered calling his ex-wife to – just to hear her voice one last time, but he knew before he’d finished the thought that he wouldn’t do it. There was no reason to place her at risk.
He got into his car and drove off, noting that it was barely four in the morning. Since he’d begun to suspect what was going on, he’d put in a great deal of thought as to where he would go and what he’d do. One possibility would be to join Mulder and Scully, where they were hiding out, but if he made one false move, he’d endanger them. Another – less appealing one – was to seek out Mulder’s three weird friends.
Out of necessity, Skinner had had to keep in touch with Frohike and the others. He’d even met, briefly, their young associate Jimmy. If he had to, he’d contact them, but he would really much rather deal with things himself. It might be time to strike out on his own. He even considered returning to Vietnam, but realized that such a move would only draw attention to him. If he wanted to stay concealed, he’d have to do it inside the United States. Besides, there was Margaret Scully to consider.
In the time he’d spent with her, he’d come to love her as he’d never loved anyone else. Would he be able to survive without her? On the other hand, how could he drag her into his mess? One thing was certain, he could never leave without saying goodbye and explaining himself to her. He’d even hinted that one day he’d need to go, and Margaret had seemed to take that calmly. There was no telling what that meant. Margaret had a way of keeping her true opinions to herself.
He parked the car in his usual spot outside FBI headquarters, thinking as he did so, that he’d never do that again. His plans didn’t include bringing this car along, so he wouldn’t see that either.
He forced his mind away from such irrelevant thoughts. Today, he’d need to warn Reyes and Doggett. After their involvement in the X files, staying wouldn’t be safe for them either. He regretted having had to drag them into his troubles, but it was too late to worry about that now.
Reyes and Doggett were waiting for him outside his office. He knew they couldn’t risk talking freely, so he focused on the case.
“Agent Reyes, would you fill me in on the new developments?”
“Sir. We’ll need to move now. A plane is waiting -”
“Thank you. Then we’d better going. Tell me the rest of it on the way.”
“No. Sir. We’ll need to go and see Deputy Director Kersh first. He had some information for you. For all of us, apparently.”
“Right. Let’s go.”
They rode down in the elevator together. Skinner forced himself to calm down. If this was what he feared it was, he’d have to pick his moment. He still hadn’t made up his mind if he would be going to Texas or not. His plans had provided for an escape from Washington, but there was no reason why he shouldn’t be able to slip away down there, if necessary.
They found Kersh on his way out.
“There you are. We’d better leave at once.”
“You’re coming to Texas with us?”
“No. Forget about Texas. We have work to do right here. In Washington. I’ll be working with you, A D Skinner. The two of you will assist us, Agent Reyes, Agent Doggett.”
Outside in the parking lot, they headed for Skinner’s car. As Skinner turned out onto the street, Kersh began to speak.
“We have had indications the insider – the spy inside the Bureau – might have been connected with another government agency. Yes, turn left here. We’ll be going outside the city, but first -”
He fell silent, but kept glancing outside the window, as if he was searching for something – or someone.
Skinner kept staring into the rearview mirror, making sure they weren’t being followed. As far as he could tell, they weren’t.
“Ok, you can stop here for a moment. I want to show you something.”
He gestured for the other two agents to follow. They were in an industrial area, close to one of the western exits. Slightly puzzled, they trailed after their superior. He led them inside the maze of empty buildings, until they came to a large warehouse. Without saying anything, Kersh unlocked the doors and slid them aside.
He pulled off a tarpaulin and revealed a van. Skinner opened his mouth to ask what was going on, but Kersh silenced him with a gesture. That wasn’t good enough. Skinner might trust his superior, but – just getting into a van with him without explanation was going a bit too far. He couldn’t get the business about the clones out of his mind. What if –
“Sir. With all due respect, could you tell us why we’re supposed to get into this van and drive off with you?”
Kersh looked tense, as if he was expecting pursuit at any time. The skin around his left eye twitched.
“Fine. You know as well as I do, that this is the end. That case – the missing children – is just a setup. Meant to shut down the X files and all of the people associated with it. I’ll fill you in on all the details later, but – for now, I suggest you get in. When this thing breaks, we’d better be as far away as possible. I see you’ve brought – whatever you might need. What about the rest of you? Because this is it. You won’t be coming back to Washington, if you care about your own safety.”
Reyes and Doggett exchanged glances.
“We had guessed that was what was coming. I don’t need to go back and get anything.”
“Then let’s stop wasting time. There’s more to come, and when that happens, they’ll shut down all the exits. I’m not exactly sure how they’ll do it, but I think we – at least Skinner and I – will be framed for something.”
The urgency they sensed in his voice was catching. They got in and let him start the engine and back out slowly. He chose another exit from the industrial park, and continued driving due west. By now, they were all glancing nervously over their shoulders. As they turned on to the interstate, they heard a deafening rumbling from behind. They turned and saw a fire ball billowing up into the lightening sky. From what Skinner could deduce, it came from a central area of the city. He tried to recall what was there. Embassies? Administrative buildings? In any case, it was far from the Hill.
He glanced back at Kersh and saw that little beads of sweat were glistening on his forehead. Were they too late?
“Sir – did we get out in time?”
“I hope so. There was no way we could have managed it much sooner anyway.”
“Could you tell us where we’re heading?”
“Just outside the city limits, at first. Beyond that, I’ve made some plans, but – we’ll get into that later. Besides, you’re all free to go your separate ways. As of – half an hour ago – you’re no longer FBI agents. We’re on our own now.”
“Sir – I can’t leave the city without seeing my -”
“Your current lover, Margaret Scully. Don’t look so surprised. It’s common knowledge at the Bureau.”
“Sir – I -”
“I counted on that. It’s up to you. But if I were you, I’d leave the lady behind. She will most likely be safe, now that you’re gone.”
‘Most likely?’ Skinner didn’t like the sound of that. In any case, he’d already prepared Margaret for this possiblity, even if she hadn’t seemed to feel too concerned. He knew his cell phone would be monitored, but he was wondering if a payphone would do.
“I suppose we’d better ditch our cell phones.”
“Yes. I was able to lay my hands on a few handsets that are untraceable. If you want my advice – leave them on the first rest stop. In a rest room or – wherever you might be likely to forget them.”
“Can I have one of those?”
Kersh snorted, then handed over a plain-looking cell phone. It was no smartphone, but Skinner wasn’t concerned with that.
“May I make this personal call?”
“Be my guest. I’ll be turning off here. There’s a gas station over there, with a store. Lose the other phones there.”
They got out, Skinner on his own, Reyes and Doggett together. What they’d told their superiors had been true. They’d dressed differently than usual, in preparation for such an eventuality as this. While Reyes went into the ladies’ room, Doggett stayed outside, to keep an eye on her.
She folded up her coat and left it in the stall, then – after making sure the room was empty, and there were no apparent surveillance cameras – she placed the phone on the wash basin, while she straightened out her hair and applied a little more makeup. Just in case there was surveillance, this might throw any watchers off for the time being.
She’d brought a pair of scissors and proceded to cut her hair rather shorter than usual. After rummaging around in her handbag, she found a bottle of hairspray with a little color in it. Instant party hair dyeing, something like that. Now her hair had blonde streaks that were extremely unbecoming, but at least it changed her appearance somewhat. As did her rather too short skirt and the skimpy top. Normally, she never wanted to be seen dressed like this, but – you did what you had to do.
She’d kept Doggett waiting for long enough. It was time for his makeover. She walked outside, feeling self-conscious and embarrassed, but couldn’t help noticing the appreciative, but slightly guilty stare, her lover cast at her legs.
He didn’t take quite as long as she did. When he emerged from the men’s room, he wasn’t wearing his coat anymore, and she assumed he’d left his phone too. He was now wearing a pair of black jeans which looked rather nice, she thought, and a funny t-shirt, with the words ‘Don’t worry, Be Happy’ on it. She couldn’t help giggling.
Doggett grinned at her.
“That t-shirt – Where did you get that?”
“Oh. I got it for free when I bought the jeans.”
“Don’t you like it?”
“The – color is nice.”
“That’s what I thought you’d say.”
“Come on. Oh, we should probably get some sandwiches or whatever they have.”
They went to the store, only to find Kersh there already picking up merchandise from the shelves. He wasn’t dressed down as they were, but he was just wearing a jacket, not a coat. Skinner must still be outside talking to Margaret Scully.
Reyes was wondering how he was going to handle leaving her behind. She’d had the impression his lover meant everything to him. She began to pick up the healthiest items she could find, wondering as she did so, where she’d be sleeping tonight.
In the meantime, Skinner was phoning Margaret.
“Margaret Scully speaking.”
“It’s me. Walter. Listen, I – I’m leaving. Remember what I told you about – this type of situation?”
“Oh. I thought this might be it. That explosion is all over the news and there was something about the FBI too.”
“I know. Margaret -”
“Let’s not waste any time. Where are you? I’ll be leaving at once.”
“Of course. Do you think I’m going to let you go off on your own? At my age, it’s hard enough to find a partner. Do you think I’ll let you go that easily?”
He knew she was joking – at least about the latter part of her statement. Even so, he sensed she was serious about leaving with him. That was – impossible. He couldn’t let her. This was far too dangerous. Not to mention the difficulties involved in slipping through the net of uniformed police officers, watching all the exits. On the other hand, he couldn’t forget what Kersh had just said. She would ‘most likely’ be safe. Most likely wasn’t good enough. Skinner realized that under the circumstances, he didn’t have any choice. He loved Margaret far too much to risk her life like this.
He proceeded to tell her where to find him, a likely way to avoid being detected as she was leaving, then hung up, wondering how he was going to explain to Kersh what he’d just done.
To his surprise, Kersh only nodded curtly. He didn’t look happy, but not surprised either.
“How long is it going to take her to get here?”
“Well, forty-five minutes, I guess. I – suggested how she might avoid the patrols.”
“Fine. They won’t be looking for someone matching her description. Especially if you told her to disguise herself. Right. We’ll get in the van and drive some distance away. You’ll stay and keep an eye out. If you’re sure she’s alone, get her and take her back to where we’ll be parked. See that wooded area over there? That’s where we’ll be. You go over there. That wholesaler’s on the right. It’s not open yet, but those smaller buildings surrounding their yard will provide enough cover. Or those dumpsters. Ok. Get her here as soon as you can. The rest of us will get some rest.”
Skinner nodded grimly. He’d already thought of the possibility that Margaret could be followed, despite the – disguise he’d suggested. But he’d find a way of getting her out somehow. There was no way he was going to leave her behind.
In the end, she’d come alone, just as he’d hoped. She had packed, but wasn’t carrying too much luggage. It was odd to see her dressed like this – like a grandmother taking her grandchildren to the park, wearing a tracksuit, not the elegant clothes he was used to associating her with. He circled around so he could get visual contact with her without breaking his cover, waved at her and managed to get her to come to him. From there, they made their way to the wooded area where Kersh and the others were waiting.
For a moment, Skinner had feared that they’d left, for one reason or another, and that he and Margaret would be left without transportation in such an awkward spot, but his fears were unrealized.
When Margaret got into the seat next to the driver’s seat, Doggett tensed up. Reyes placed her hand on top of his, and after a while, he began to relax a little.
Margaret looked around and said hello to everyone, referring to Doggett as ‘Agent Doggett’, and acting as if she didn’t know him personally. It did very little to reduce Doggett’s tension, but he appreciated her tact anyway.
Kersh put the van into gear and turned back onto the road.
Yves cast a chilly glance at Langly, who again, had tried to sneak a peak underneath her very elegant, but short skirt. Jimmy was staring into the computer screen and though she suspected her friend didn’t catch half of what was on it, he didn’t even notice what Langly was up to.
Langly, on the other hand, caught Yves’ look and grinned delightedly. He seemed to be able to derive pleasure not only from staring up her skirt, but also her reaction. She decided to wipe that grin off his face.
“Hey, blueberry, aren’t you going to scrub that dye off?”
Langly’s happy grin vanished. He’d been scrubbing his face for weeks, months even, since that cartridge of dye had exploded onto his face all those months ago. His skin still hurt. And still, his face was covered with the stuff.
“Hey – that’s not -”
Byers, who had been monitoring another screen, held up his hand.
“Sh. I have to listen to this. Langly, why don’t you help Frohike with our breakfast?”
“Why? If this is a cheap shot about my hair again, I’ll -”
Yves wanted to scream at them to shut up. This wasn’t a game. Since the latest developments, she and Jimmy were stuck with these three morons, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.
“Just leave Yves alone.”
Jimmy looked up, an aggrieved look on his face. He was going to be chivalrous. That was so infuriating, yet incredibly sweet too. Yves felt her bad temper dissolve.
“Yes, Langly, leave her alone.”
“Whatever you say, your highness. Hey. I know. Why don’t Yves fix us something? And her knight in shining armor here can go and help out.”
Byers looked as if he was about to burst a blood vessel.
“That’s not polite. There’s no reason why Yves should have to cook, just because she’s a woman.”
“How politically correct of you.”
“Now be quiet. This is important.”
“Duh. As if I don’t know that. This is the end of the X files as we -”
Yves got up and brushed off her skirt, clearing it of any real or imagined specks of dust, a fastidious look on her face.
“I’ll just go for a walk.”
Jimmy’s simple, but amiable face was split by a wide grin.
“I’ll go with you. To keep an eye on you.”
“Thank you, Jimmy. I’ll be fine, but I’d love to have your company.”
She cast a venomous glance at Langly, as if saying ‘yours, but not anyone else’s’. If she’d hoped that would get to Langly, she was disappointed, but at least the freak didn’t get up to follow her.
They stood in the pool of cold light cast by one of the lamps mounted on the wall of the warehouse they were currently – Yves refused to call it living – but by necessity – staying in. The dormlike accommodations inside made her wince, as she recalled the bunk beds – bunk beds? please – was this the army? The one bathroom – if you could call it that, and the kitchen – it all made her stomach turn.
What a good thing Jimmy had appointed herself her faithful guardian. Every morning while she reluctantly used the bathroom, gingerly holding her beauty box in one hand, Jimmy would stand watch outside and keep Langly and Frohike out. The door didn’t even lock properly. Ugh.
She was dying for a cigarette. Jimmy was studying her face, an affectionate, if rather vacant look on his face. Suddenly, she could hear the sounds of sirens approaching. Instantly alert, she put a hand on Jimmy’s arm and gestured for them to return inside. She even put a finger to her lips, just in case. You never knew with Jimmy. The sirens kept getting closer.
Inside, all three weirdos were gathered around one computer screen, for once completely quiet. Something told Yves her news wouldn’t come as a surprise to them.
Byers turned around.
“There you are. We have to go. They’re on to us.”
Somehow, she wasn’t surprised. At least she was used to this kind of emergency. Turning on her heel, she went into the room she’d fought to keep to herself, even against Jimmy’s pleading puppy eyes and grabbed her backpack and the shoulder bag. A good thing she was in such good shape.
To her surprise, the other four were already waiting for her when she returned, barely thirty seconds later. All had their packs and looked as if they were ready to go. For once, she was grateful to these lunatics that they had an escape tunnel prepared.
Frohike led the way, a proud grin on his face. Bluefaced Langly looked equally proud. It was a matter of debate between them, which of them could take the most credit for the escape route. Frohike had thought of it, but Langly had done most of the work on it, while Byers had done the research.
In any case, they climbed down, one after the other, Yves last. She wasn’t going to end up with all those guys on top of her if someone slipped. Since Jimmy and Byers were immediately below her, she wasn’t too concerned that someone would try to stare up her skirt again.
The tunnel ended in a storm drain. Fortunately, it hadn’t rained for almost two months, so it was all dry, and even if it smelled of damp and mold, it was reasonably clean. Yves suspected at least Frohike and Langly practiced escape procedures regularly or had other uses for it she didn’t even want to contemplate.
They followed the storm drain about half a mile south, before they cautiously left through an opening that was covered by shrubbery. A lot of shrubbery. Yves wished she’d known today was the day, so she’d worn pants of some kind. And sneakers. Her shoes would be a write-off, but she had others tucked away in her shoulder bag. The tights – well, they weren’t expensive either, not compared to what else she was wearing. Even so, it was disconcerting to sense Langly’s and Frohikes gazes sticking to her legs more than usual.
They fought their way through the bushes, which fortunately didn’t have any thorns, and found themselves close to a partially earth covered storage facility. Frohike searched his pockets for a key, which eventually turned up – in Langly’s pocket. They scuffled briefly over it, then Byers held out his hand for it and miraculously, the other two agreed to let him unlock the door.
Inside, was a minibus, filled with enough gadgetry to replace most of what they’d had to leave behind. Yves was wondering what self-destructing mechanisms they’d put in motion before they ran. Knowing them it could be anything from sophisticated, state-of-the-art programming to a simple explosive device that would simply blow up the entire warehouse. Actually, probably a combination of the two.
They got inside – Yves as far away from the others as possible. Again, a minor skirmish broke out, until Langly agreed, grudgingly, to let Frohike drive. Byers sat down in the seat right behind the driver and Langly got in beside Frohike.
There were only five seats, the rest of the minibus contained all their equipment, unless their backpacks contained more of the same. Yves sat down in her seat and began to take stock of the situation. She’d known enough about developments to realize that this day would have come sooner, rather than later, but she was still surprised it had come this soon.
Byers turned and faced her and Jimmy, a somber look on his face.
“We’ll try to get out to Kansas or – anywhere they’d least expect to find us.”
Jimmy grinned cheerfully.
“No, been there, done that, if you remember.”
“Wasn’t that Colorado?”
“Yes, but we’ve been to Alaska before. Better stay clear of any place we’ve already been.”
“How about North Dakota?”
Langly looked sullen. He’d voted for California, for obvious reasons. Obvious to him, at least. Frohike had for once agreed, but Byers and Yves had voted him down. Jimmy had sided with Yves, when he’d learned how she felt about things. Except she’d been more keen on leaving the country entirely. Europe, South America, or why not Australia? But the others hadn’t agreed.
Kansas or North Dakota would be all the same to her. She’d better think of some kind of cover. Either she’d be a cosmetics sales agent – or – considering the fanciful ideas Langly had thrown around the other night – Jimmy’s wife. She’d never agree to pose as Langly’s or Frohike’s wife or girlfriend, and Byers hadn’t offered, so Jimmy would be the obvious choice. Of course, she could still be an agent for some business or other. Fashion, makeup, jewelry. It would all suit her exceptionally well and would be totally unlikely to their pursuers.
In a way, this was nothing new. They’d been hiding and moving around for years, for their different reasons, but this time, they would have to be even more careful. This really was it – the Big One. The emergency they’d all been expecting, but somehow never quite imagined what it would be like.
She sighed, thinking that from now on, there would be no fine dining, no shopping in the finest stores and certainly no operas or ballets.
Jimmy heard her and patted her hand awkwardly.
“It’s going to be ok, Yves. You’ll see. As long as we’re – we’re all together – we’ll be fine.”
He really was sweet. She smiled rather sentimentally at him.
They kept on driving, until they had to stop for the night, with only a few breaks for – smoking and other necessities. Yves swore extensively under her breath, as she experienced the joys of the open road. No restrooms, no other facilities. Just bushes and toilet paper. Ugh.
At the motel, Frohike took the risk of phoning Mulder, using one of his untraceable cell phones. He felt that his friend, and great role model, needed to know about their circumstances.
Scully picked up and for once, Frohike felt he couldn’t quite focus on greeting the lovely lady as he usually did.
“It’s Frohike. Is Mulder there?”
“Yes. We’re getting ready to go to bed, but here he is.”
“Hello? What’s up, Frohike?”
“This is it. We’re – on the move now. Everything just – blew up and it’s showtime.”
“Yes, I suspected that. Any other news?”
“Oh, right. Yeah. The X files has been shut down, permanently this time, I fear.”
“Is Skinner ok?”
“We heard he and Kersh and Doggett and Reyes were all on the move too. Oh, and tell Dana her mother went with him.”
“Margaret Scully joined Skinner and the others and is now on the road.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. Word is she left a note saying she’d gone to visit friends, but her sons are treating her disappearance as suspicious. Officially. I have a feeling she’s asked them to. Very sneaky lady. Anyway, I know for a fact that she’s with them, because I talked to Skinner a couple of days ago. They’re all fine, but that’s all I know.”
“Right. Anything else?”
“Oh. I’m terribly sorry, but your fish -”
“Yeah? What did you do to them?”
“Nothing. I knew what was going on, so I gave them to a colleague of yours. Lovely lady. Almost as beautiful as Dana and Melissa. Leyla Harrison. Ring a bell?”
“No. Ok, thanks. If that’s all -”
“Wait. She named them Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Doggett and Reyes.”
“Brilliant. So that’s all that’s left of us now. The X files are offically reduced to a bowl of fish. Very symbolic.”
“Never mind. I’ll email the explanation later. It would take too long. We’re tired. You have no idea how much babies scream. Good luck, guys. If you talk to Skinner or one of the others, tell them to get in touch. I know Dana would like to – ok, talk to you later. Bye.”
Scully regarded Mulder thoughtfully. Something was going on and Mulder was trying to find a way of telling her. The mention of Skinner’s name made her think of her mother. She’d heard about their relationship too.
“Ok, Mulder, go ahead. Tell me.”
“It’s about my mother, isn’t it?”
“Oh. Yeah. Frohike said she’d joined Skinner and is now on the run. Like the rest of us.”
“My god. Well, I guess it was inevitable. But she’s alright? They’re all alright, aren’t they?”
“Yes. Frohike talked to Skinner the other day. He said Kersh and Doggett and Reyes went with them.”
“I see. And what was that about your fish?”
“He had to give them away to someone named Leyla Harrison. Do you know her?”
“No. Or – wait a minute. Accounting or something. Yes, I think she was a bit of an admirer of yours. Like most of our colleagues.”
“The women, I hope.”
“You’d be surprised. Oh, never mind. Ok, so they’re taken care of. What else was new? If you think I want to hear it. Frohike and Langly are a little hard to stomach.”
Mulder looked at her, all wide-eyed astonishment. He’d never been able to understand Scully’s antipathy to his funny friends. Sure, they weren’t exactly conventional, but neither were they.
“They’re all on the run now. The three of them and their errand boy and some mysterious female called -”
“Poor Byers. No. Yves, I think. Or Eve.”
“I see. Well, we did suspect it was coming. Are we prepared? What have you and Alex dreamed up?”
“The usual. Nothing will change at the moment. It was just the FBI end of things that fell apart.”
“I think – Skinner and Doggett should come here. Mom too and Monica, naturally. We’ll need them. Besides, Missy and I miss mom so much.”
“Wouldn’t it be awkward though? Walter and Alex and – Frohike hinted there was something between Walter and Doggett too.”
A look of distaste flew over Scully’s face. If Skinner was involved with Doggett at the same time he was seeing her mother, didn’t that imply that he’d been cheating or – she really didn’t want to know.”
“Yes, of course, but we’re not really in a position to be picky. We have room out here for at least Skinner and the others. I’d much rather not have Frohike and Langly and the others here, if I can help it, no matter how much fun you boys would have with them.”
She could see that Mulder would love to have his playmates around, but for all kinds of reasons that wouldn’t be feasible. For one, those three weirdos were not quite on the same team as they were. They had fingers in so many pies it would make her head hurt to even keep track of a few of them. Besides, while she didn’t know Jimmy and hadn’t even heard of this Yves or Eve, she knew the others, with the exception of Byers were totally obnoxious. She couldn’t imagine having them around her sister and the rest of them out here.
“Besides, we’ll need another center of operations, just in case. In fact, much as I’d love to see mom again, maybe the others should find another place to lie low. Not too far away, but not close enough to be associated with us in an emergency. What about that monastery Alex was talking about?”
“You mean the Russian Orthodox one? They’d only accept men, and anyway I don’t see how that would help.”
“I was thinking, if the worst comes to the worst, we could leave mom and nurse Ray and hopefully Missy and Samantha and Jake in some safe place, where the enemy would never find them. Not a monastery perhaps, but a convent. Except we’d need to keep Jake and Samantha separately, which they wouldn’t like. Well, mom and nurse Ray then, with the children. If we can find a convent that will take them.”
“Hm. That might be a good idea. You and I and Alex and Walter and Doggett and Reyes and Kersh – are all prepared for this fight. The civilians aren’t, but I doubt we can make your sister or Samantha see that. After all they’ve been through, it might be too much to ask anyway. But if we can get your mom and nurse Ray to take the children – it could be a good idea.”
“I’d hate to see them go, but if it’s the only way to keep them safe -”
“There might not be anywhere safe at all. Anywhere. But let’s hope it will never come to that. We’ll look for a completely safe place. Either a convent – or something like a bomb shelter or – how about a series of natural caves? The Native Americans out here will have had some knowledge of that or – the early settlers. Maybe that would be even safer. For all of us. This farm is great, but after the latest developments it might be too unsafe.”
“You’re right. We’ll think of a place, even if we’ll need to leave the area. A few of us at a time, or something like that. I hate to say it, but maybe in the end, we’ll have to let your obnoxious friends join us too. We’d have to set up some kind of center of operations. With their expertise and ours -”
“We’ll see. If Walter or your mother would call us, we could set something up. In the meantime, we’ll get to work on finding that safe place.”
“Good idea. Let’s sleep now, because who knows how much sleep we’ll get tonight.”
Mulder smiled and got underneath the covers. He pulled her into his arms and buried his nose in her hair. At least they were together. Whatever happened, no one could take that away from them.
Over the following week, they made contact with Margaret Scully and the rest of her group, then Frohike and the others. To Mulder’s surprise, Frohike had thought of a similar solution, except mainly for his own group, and he’d done a bit of research into the problem. He promised he’d tell them more about that when they arrived.
Scully made a face, at the thought of having to make those three welcome at their home, temporary as it might be, or at least – in all fairness – those two. Byers was harmless and she was hoping the other two would be as well.
Her mother was delighted at being able to see her daughters again. Melissa too was looking forward to meeting her mother again. They hadn’t dared to tell her about their children, but they knew she’d be even happier about that, once she found out.
As she’d suspected, neither Mulder or Krycek were too happy about being close to Walter again, but despite everything, they had missed the former A D, and under the circumstances, they knew that their personal inconvenience was of no account.
Skinner and Kersh and the others were the first to arrive. They waited until nightfall, then as quietly as possible made their way out to the farm and put away their van in a barn, which their hosts used for that purpose.
Three days later, Frohike’s group turned up, so early in the morning, no one was prepared to see them. They left their minibus in a wooded area, and walked up to the house.
Frohike threw some gravel at one of the windows, accidentally waking Alex and Melissa, along with their baby, who was bawling her eyes out, within seconds of the first little stone hitting their window. Krycek put his head out, wondering angrily how his defences could have failed so utterly, when he realized that they’d given Frohike the access codes.
“You bloody fools. Couldn’t you have called ahead? Now you’ve woken the baby, and she’ll wake the others. Hold on a sec, I’ll be down to let you in.”
Melissa was shivering in her slight nightie, right behind her lover. He turned to face her, looking much less tense than she’d ever seen him, despite being woken at four thirty in the morning.
“Hey, you go on back to bed. Mulder and I will deal with those morons.”
“I’ll take you up on that. What little I’ve seen and heard of them tells me I’d be better off without making their closer acquaintance.”
“They drive Dana up the wall. I heard they can’t help spreading rumors. They even ‘accidentally’ mentioned that they knew about me and Walter. You know how uptight he is about that kind of thing.”
“Mm. Like someone else I could mention.”
Alex blushed slightly.
“Yeah, well, that was different. I was hoping you’d -”
“Well, I did, didn’t I? I’d always had a special place for you in my heart, believe it or not.”
“That’s too generous of you. The old me didn’t deserve it. Besides, I couldn’t know that, could I? Oh, just go to bed again and see if you can calm her down a bit. I’ll help Mulder deal with them.”
He hurriedly ran down the stairs, oblivious to the fact that he was wearing nothing but his shorts. At the top of the stairs, he ran into Mulder, wearing roughly the same attire. To his embarrassment, Skinner now emerged from his room at the end of the corridor and within seconds, other doors opened too. In the end, Skinner, Kersh and Doggett joined them downstairs. Kersh had a room to himself, the others had had to share.
Krycek tried to put Skinner and the others off, but they were already awake, so they insisted on coming along.
“It’s just Frohike and those other clowns.”
Skinner winced, but tried to put on a brave front.
“I know. We might as well make sure they get inside before they attract someone’s attention.”
Kersh raised his eyebrows. Before he came out here, he hadn’t even heard of these three, at least not in connection with his men, but when he’d been given a brief explanation, he found that he was familiar enough with that kind of lunatic fringe.
Doggett had heard of them, but never met them and was actually curious to see them. That changed, when he noticed Frohike and Langly exchanging meaningful stares after gazing too long at him, then at Skinner, then back again.
So those idiots knew. Was there anything they didn’t know? Maybe he should ask them where his boy was buried. The thought instantly turned his mood around. Who cared what these two knew or didn’t? There were other, bigger considerations.
“Live long and prosper, everyone. We come in peace.”
Mulder suddenly had a hunch why Dana found them so annoying. Here he was, host to the other guests, as it were, and now he felt responsible for his more than certifiably odd friends.
“Cut that out, Frohike. I’m glad to see you too, but – just try to act like a normal human being, will you?”
His embarrassment increased when the fat little man ran up to him and put his arms around him. That put his chubby face on a level with Mulder’s chest and made him feel awkward to say the least. It made him wish he’d put on something, before he ran down to meet his friends.
He was uncomfortably aware of the fact that Kersh had been his superior not so long ago. But Kersh himself was dressed in a white t-shirt and a pair of baggy grey shorts. At least that didn’t leave anyone at too much of a disadvantage.
Behind Frohike Langly was standing, beaming contentedly at them all. What was that stuff on his face? Mulder hadn’t heard anything about that. It looked as if he was about to go to some soccer game in full warpaint.
He pushed Frohike away and held out his hand towards Langly, who enthusiastlcally pumped it up and down.
“Hello again, Mulder.”
Langly let go and shook Krycek’s and Skinner’s hands, then moved on to Kersh who stared at him as a woman might look at a bug she’d just found in her bed. After a moment’s hesitation, he shook Langly’s hand, then stared down into his own palm as if expecting it to have turned blue.
Byers greeted them all politely, then introduced Yves and Jimmy to the others. Kersh studied the former narrowly, but Yves didn’t even squirm. She knew the FBI couldn’t have anything on her.
Mulder sighed. At least this circus was over.
“Now that we all know each other, why don’t we try to get some sleep. We have a few more rooms, but I’m afraid you guys will have to share. Frohike, Langly, Byers and -”
To everyone’s surprise, Yves spoke up.
“Jimmy and I will share a room, if we have to, thank you. If you have a spare room, for me, alone, that would be fine.”
“Yes, well, we had been hoping you could share with someone. Possibly nurse Ray, but she generously agreed to sleep in the children’s room, so – whichever you prefer ms -”
“Just Yves, will do.”
“Yves. It’s up to you.”
Eventually, once everyone had settled down again, Mulder walked back up the stairs, to return to his and Dana’s room. Alex called his name so he turned and faced his brother.
“That was freaky. We really need to do something about accommodations. I was thinking we could put your three weirdos and that guy Jimmy outside, in the other barn. That would make things a little less crowded. And we could convert the loft, so someone else, maybe Kersh, could get a place of his own. You heard that thing about Walter and Doggett, right? Which makes it a little unexpected to see him and Monica Reyes looking so – blissful. But hey, who am I question their choices? And, though I know Missy’s mortified over finding out her mom’s probably sleeping with Walter – I’m kind of glad they’re together. Aren’t you?”
“I’m glad Walter’s found someone, whoever it is, but if my mom had – you know – gotten involved with someone – I would probably have felt just as -”
“Hm. I guess so. At the time I didn’t even know Jelena was my mother, but even at that age, I had to get used to what she did. Nothing would have embarrassed me then.”
“I’m sorry. You don’t – you don’t believe that nonsense Spender Jr was saying about mom though? About her and his old man.”
“I hope not, but I know old Stinky used to brag about her. He wasn’t quite up to bragging about him and your dad, but her – yes. So, I’m really sorry, but it might be true.”
“Ugh. This family is so -”
“I know. Try not to think about it. You should follow my example. I know all there is to know about repressed memories.”
“Remember who you’re talking to. I think I have can give you a run for your money.”
“Shit. Yeah, I’d forgotten. Just – remember they’re all gone now. Except for Junior and I think I can handle him with one arm. No pun intended.”
“Dana could handle him when she was pregnant, so – yeah – but that’s not all there is to him, unfortunately.”
“I know. Right. Missy’s probably sleeping by now, and I’d kind of like to join her so – we’ll look into that stuff about accommodations tomorrow, ok?”
“Yes, but Frohike promised he’d go over what he’d found out about potential hideouts for us. Caves, bomb shelters, that kind of thing.”
“Yeah, I know. Bomb shelters wouldn’t be such a great idea. The Russians know all about them and so should your people. I mean – the authorities here. In fact – I’ll tell you more later, but I might know a place that could be what we’re looking for.”
“Right. Ok, go on. Dana might be awake, but you never know. Hopefully, she’ll be asleep.”
To their surprise, Frohike had a whole list of suitable sites for them. A few were within convenient driving distance of their farm, but the best ones were a little further away. On the one hand, they’d already invested in this place, not only financially, but also in hard work and planning. On the other – at the moment, they might still be safe, but they knew that couldn’t last for much longer. Moving to a safer location might be their only option.
In the end, Langly, Frohike and – rather unexpectedly – Kersh – went out to check on each site in person. They returned, ten days later, convinced they’d found the perfect place. Despite all Frohike’s research, it was the one Krycek had suggested.
It was a private – not quite legal – storage facility for an art collection the owner no longer had any use for. The collection had been transferred to another site, and later sold to cover his estate’s debts, but since now only a handful of people even knew of its existence, it was the perfect choice.
To be able to enjoy his not quite legally obtained hoard, the former owner had had the place furnished and set up with plumbing, electricity and communications. His personal quarters weren’t quite large enough to hold them all, but fortunately, he’d brought his staff, so there were other quite as comfortable quarters available.
Frohike and Langly couldn’t stop singing the new site’s praises. It was perfect for setting up their surveillance equipment. They would be able to perform experiments and –
Krycek, Mulder, Dana and the others were more concerned with security. From that point of view it seemed even more perfect. To begin with, it wasn’t even visible from the outside. The entrance and exit – for emergencies – were cleverly hidden, but were large even for their vehicles. If the worst came to the worst, they would be able to escape, but the need for that seemed remote.
Over the next couple of weeks, they moved in. They set up all the necessary equipment and settled into the living quarters.
At first Yves looked about the arrangements with barely concealed distaste, but as she took in the comfortable, not to say luxurious suite she was given, she thawed out. When Jimmy was given the smaller room right next to her, she seemed content.
The single men found accommodations along a corridor, but compared to what they were used to – with the exception of Kersh – it was still quite a step up.
Despite the safe surroundings, they set up a watch schedule. Everyone took turns, two and two together, except for the children, though Samantha’s and Jake’s two expressed wishes to join in. Sometimes, they were allowed to tag along with two grownups. Samantha hated to have to let her children learn about security, but she knew that one day, it might be the only thing keeping them alive.
One night, Skinner and Kersh shared the late watch. They would sit in front of the surveillance screens but at certain randomly chosen times, they’d walk around the faclity, keeping an eye on all possible entry points.
In between, they’d just sit and watch or discuss the current situation. It was disconcerting to see all their work, their entire careers, fall apart, through no fault of their own, unless you counted their involvement in the X files and indirectly, the alien conspiracy.
Kersh had been discussing their work force and seemed to be quite content to have so many excellent agents available. He went into their relative merits, and also discussed the pros and cons of the others. Doggetts name came up, and suddenly, to Skinner’s embarrassment, Kersh returned to it.
“John Doggett. I don’t mind saying it was a bit of a surprise to find out that the two of you used to -”
Skinner felt himself go cold all over. He was wondering if he had Frohike or Langly to thank for that. Of course he should have known nothing could remain a secret.
“Under the circumstances, you might as well call me Alvin, and if you don’t mind, I shall call you Walter.”
“Of course. Alvin – who told you?”
Kersh gave him a look, which made Skinner feel about ten years old and as if he was facing the principal.
“I make it a habit to find out all there is to know about the men under my command. Mulder and Scully – I’ve known about them for almost as long as they’ve known it themselves. Then you and that double agent, Alexei Krycek.”
Again, Skinner winced. He should have known.
“Sir – I mean – Alvin – if you knew, why didn’t you -”
“I came to the conclusion, that your personal affairs didn’t interfere with your work. Besides, if he was spying on you, that worked both ways.”
“I must say that I was surprised, but – perhaps I shouldn’t have been. These are different times. Though I don’t mind saying that I approve far more of your current – friend. A fine lady.”
“Just like my late wife, I might add.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize mrs Kersh -”
“Don’t be. It’s been almost twenty-five years now. A car accident. At least I hope so. But back then I wasn’t involved in the X files.”
“Two. A boy and a girl. You and your wife never had any, right?”
“No. But – actually I have a son and a daughter, from earlier.”
Kersh stared. He had thought he knew all there was to know about his agents. Like the fact that John Doggett seemed to have gone right from Skinner’s and Margaret Scully’s bed to Monica Reyes’. This was totally unexpected.
“In Vietnam – I was – living with a young native girl. It was before my marriage – so -”
“Please. I have no right to judge you. I did a thing or two out there that perhaps I shouldn’t have. It’s all a long time ago. Still, I’m glad to hear you have children somewhere. There’s nothing like it. I – lost touch with mine years ago. Somehow, they blamed me for their mother’s accident. They lived with their grandparents until they were grown up. That’s why I feel they’ll be safe now. As will yours, I have no doubts. No one must know about them.”
“No, just Margaret. Not even my ex-wife.”
“Excellent. You should try to keep it that way. Those damned odd characters. Frohike and Langly? They seem to have a knack of finding out people’s secrets. I wouldn’t be surprised if they – but no. I’ve swept this place a couple of times, myself. We’re not bugged. I’ve made sure of that.”
Skinner felt ashamed of himself all over again. He should have thought of that. The Deputy Director wasn’t even an active agent anymore, which he was, or should have been, despite his fancy title, until they’d had to escape.
On another night, Skinner made a point of sharing a watch with Doggett, primarily to show himself and Doggett that he was perfectly capable of working with him, even after what had happened between them. Doggett seemed sheepish and uncomfortable, but didn’t refuse to take the watch.
After they’d made a few of the rounds, Walter decided to bring the awkward topic up for discussion. Reyes’s conversation with him had proved how distressed their encounters had made Doggett. That was hard to believe, considering how eagerly he’d seemed to be anticipating their meetings, but Skinner knew he had no right to criticize. After all, for how long had he tried to deny his own true nature?
Now, he felt guilty and ashamed over his behavior. He’d already been involved with Margaret and he’d still gone after another lover. That was reason enough to blame himself. If Doggett had been miserable over what they’d done, it was even worse.
Doggett turned to face him, a blank look on his face. That wasn’t encouraging, but Skinner pushed on anyway.
“I – Monica told me you – what I’m trying to say is that I had no idea you – I’m sorry.”
Realizing what Skinker was doing, Doggett made an effort to respond. He was actually touched that his colleague and – friend – not to mention ex-lover – was willing to go through the embarrassment of discussing their relationship.
“Oh. You could say that you were acting in good faith. My behavior – I – at the time I was feeling confused. When Monica found out about – what was going on – all the pieces suddenly fell into place. I know why I’d been going after that kind of – relationship. Now – do you think we could try to – put all this behind us and – work together as we used to? I’d hate to – if this were to affect our friendship.”
“I – wouldn’t like that either. In fact, I think – my behavior was caused by being confused as well, though not quite the same as in your case, I imagine. So, I just wanted to say that I hope you and Monica will be very happy.”
“Thank you, Walter. I wish you and Margaret the best too.”
Skinner appreciated the sentiment and he knew Doggett was serious, but even so – he wished his friend had never found out about his own – penchant for dominance. Even more, he hated Doggett to know about his and Margaret’s – private affairs. But he only had himself to blame and he decided to put the matter out of his mind. At least he felt that from now on, his conscience would be more or less clear.
Margaret Scully sat in the nursery, rocking her grandson, while nurse Ray was overseeing the others playing, in the playpen.
Jake’s and Samantha’s two children looked in and when they saw the two women, they came inside and sat down, to watch the toddlers.
One of the little girls began to hiccup and amazingly, Melissa and Dana both heard it, though they were deep into a report they’d had printed out from one of Byers’ innumerable databases.
Both came running into the nursery, and as they arrived, they almost ran into Samantha, who must have been looking for her kids.
When it became clear that none of the children were in any danger, the women sat down to watch too.
Margaret Scully smiled amiably at Samantha.
“I don’t think I’ve had time to talk to you properly, dear. It’s so amazing that you and Fox finally found each other again. He must have given you up for dead a long time ago.”
“I know. This is – more than I ever expected. And I had another brother too. Did you know about Alex?”
“Yes, Melissa told me. That’s quite amazing too. Of course I knew about young Alex before, but that he was Fox’s – and your – brother – who would have guessed?”
“At least we’re all together now. This place is great. I’ve never felt quite so safe before, not since – you know.”
Margaret Scully studied the young woman with a great deal of sympathy. It was hard to imagine what hardships she’d been forced to endure and yet, at the end of it all, she was still such a lovely person. Margaret could tell her own girls were becoming friends with her. That was fortunate, considering how isolated they were out here. Still, she had nothing to complain about herself. She had her daughters, Walter and nurse Ray to talk to. Deputy Director Kersh seemed unexpectedly pleasant too.
Then there was John Doggett’s new lover, Monica Reyes. A nice young woman too. If only she would become pregnant too, so poor John might at least have another child, though it would never replace the one he’d lost.
As it happened, Monica Reyes had nothing against a little friendly chat with other women, and she liked and respected Dana Scully. She soon learned that her sister Melissa was just as nice and Mulder’s sister Samantha too.
The newcomer – Yves – was another matter. She wasn’t rude in any way, but Monica had a hunch she had a criminal background, but under the circumstances, she supposed they would have to let bygones be bygones. Besides, if Yves was – say – a jewel thief – that wouldn’t necessarily make her a threat to their security.
Monica made a point of befriending Jimmy and Byers, but Jimmy didn’t seem to know or understand what she was asking about and Byers was so tactful and taciturn, that she didn’t learn anything about Yves’ background that way. She couldn’t stomach any closer contact with Langly and Frohike, so in the end, she decided to let Yves keep her secret. If there was one. For all they knew, she might simply be a very unusual and slightly eccentric computer expert too.
Once they’d settled in, there was nothing for them to do, except wait and listen, and to be prepared.
One thing was certain. After the FBI was lost to them, they couldn’t have found a better place to gather their strength and wait. Few as they were, they would have to be enough. Their group was all that stood between their planet and the alien invaders. Even now, given the current situation, they at least had some hope that there would be a future. As long as their work was successful and they could remain hidden.