Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998
Title: The Muses: Clio
Category: SA -- MSR
Archive: Yes, please.
Feedback: Yes! Please!
Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully are owned by Chris Carter,
1013 Productions, Fox Television Network, etc. They are
wonderfully brought to life by David Duchovny and
Gillian Anderson. I will make no profit from this, and
neither will Fox if they sue me, for I am poor and have
nothing material they can profit from.
Comments: Thanks to Vickie and Kate for constructive
criticism and on-going support. I appreciate ya'll!
Summary: Part of a nine-part anthology of stories and
poems based on the Greek Muses and the artistic field
each represents. Clio is History.
"Oh, Mulder," Scully sighed. Her right hand gently cradled
his larger one, and her left hand snaked out to brush a wisp
of hair from his forehead, tugging gently to free it from the
adhesive of the heavy bandage that covered his brow. She
carefully lifted his hand, lowering her head at the same time
to bestow a tender kiss on a bare patch of skin in the center
of the back of his hand. It was one of the very few places on
his entire body that wasn't bandaged, wrapped in a cast, or
sporting a tube of one sort or the other.
"Oh, Mulder," she sighed again as her lips grazed his fingers,
a brief benediction on each digit, before she slowly lowered his
hand to the bed covers. She patted his arm softly, then rose to
pace the floor. She thought she had long since gotten over the
need to cry "It's not fair!" but as she looked at the broken man
lying unconscious in the bed, she found herself overwhelmed
with that old desire. She wanted to rant. She wanted to rage.
She wanted to commit physical violence against those who had
done this to him. She wanted things to be fair for a change.
She wanted justice.
A routine stakeout, routine surveillance, routine case. How
could it have gone so bad, so fast? Their back up in a car down
the block. Mulder spying movement near the rear of the
building. Him telling her to stay and watch the front while he
checked it out. Her cautioning him. His promise to 'look but
not touch,' offered with his most winning goofy grin. The small
quirk of her lips she had permitted as her response.
Then -- the seconds turning to minutes as he didn't return.
The ticking of her watch growing louder and louder until it was
all she could hear, drowned only by the pounding of her heart
as it beat a tympanic refrain, 'Where is he? Where is he?
Where is he?'
Her increasing concern, her indecision. To go to him?
What if they came out the front and she wasn't where he
was expecting her? To call to him? What if they heard?
To call the back up? What if he was doing nothing more
than relieving himself in the alley and she embarrassed him
in front of colleagues who already regarded him as something
of a joke? What to do?
Precious minutes had ticked by as she struggled to make a
decision. Minutes their suspects had used well to brutally,
almost fatally, beat Mulder to a bloody pulp. She'd finally
called for back up and raced around to the rear alley, weapon
drawn, Weaver stance, ready to take on any and all comers,
only to find Mulder alone, bloodied and broken, lying face
down in a pool of his own vomit. She'd been astonished
they had been able to inflict so much damage in such a
short period of time. He'd been conscious then, and when
she'd said as much as she examined him, he managed a
strangled reply, "Teamwork, Scully."
Her eyes filled with tears as they had then, and she again
brushed them angrily away. Had that been a typical Mulder
comment, or a rebuke for her absence? Before she had been
able to answer, to speak again, he had slipped into
unconsciousness, the back up had arrived, and she'd been
busy trying to keep him alive as they'd waited for the
ambulance. There had been so much damage, it had over-
whelmed her. Forcing her emotions aside, the clinical
observer in her clicked in. On autopilot, she had started
her triage, viewing not the man she cared for, but just
another broken body, awaiting her ministrations. And
though it contributed to saving his life thus far, her
detachment shamed her even more.
She walked back to the bed and stood looking at her
partner, her friend, her lover, her life. How could she
have let him down like this? Even as she berated herself
for her own delays and indecision, she idly wondered in
the far corner of her mind if this was what it was like for
him. To always feel so responsible for someone else's
pain? It was a crushing burden and, even this soon, she
staggered under the weight. How had he borne it for so
many years without complete collapse?
She began to catalogue his injuries once more, a task
she had already repeated more times than she could
count. Her own personal penance -- to know each and
every bit of damage as intimately as she could. To explore
what would it feel like in her mind -- worrying the
edges of the experience as one worries a sore tooth with
tongue. Remembering, reliving her own times of pain,
trying to make it real again so that she could, in some
small way, share his suffering.
She looked at the heavy bandage on his forehead, covering
a deep gash just above his brow line. She remembered how
the blood had flowed freely over his face, his swollen eyes
drowning in the sticky red flood. His nose, twisted and
broken, was useless for breathing, and he had struggled for
air through his split and swollen lips. Bruises adorned his
throat, a necklace of vivid purples and reds, violent colors
for violent acts.
Two ribs were cracked and a thick wrapping held his chest
as immobile as possible, forcing him into a stiff posture even
in repose. The left arm was broken, a soft cast surrounded it,
and it was bound to his chest. An IV protruded from the back
of his hand, antibiotics, painkillers, sedatives, nutrition and
hydration, all vying for a place on the pole. The right arm had
fared better; only -- *only* -- a deep gouge in his bicep and
other cuts and bruises on the remainder of the limb.
Under the blanket she knew his groin was swollen from
repeated blows, his testicles bruised and battered. A catheter
ran to a urinary output bag, and as she glanced down, she saw
its contents were still tinged crimson -- he was still bleeding
internally. It took very little bleeding to turn the urine red and
he was being monitored carefully. She knew that. But in
addition to the damaged kidney, his spleen had ruptured and
he had a fresh incision in his abdomen where they had gone in
to repair it. She felt her heart leap to her throat again as she
realized anew how close she was to losing him. There were
no guarantees yet, and prayer seemed to be a required
procedure. She quickly offered up another for his relief
and recovery as she continued her silent inventory.
The left leg was obscured by a cast, the surgery to repair the
severed artery unseen beneath the heavy plaster required for
the bone to knit. Secured to a traction bar, it was elevated
slightly to assist with circulation. She briefly lifted the
blanket to gaze at his still form. His other leg was bent
slightly; his crushed foot resting beneath the elevated leg.
The foot, too, was awash in a sea of cuts and contusions,
gauze padding and tape. The broken toes were wrapped
but there was little beyond that which could be done.
A tear rolled unbidden down her cheek and her hands
clenched in fists as her insides roiled in turmoil. She took
a deep breath, forcing herself to relax, then leaned over
again to lightly kiss his mangled foot. Images flashed
before her. The splintered two by four, bent and bloody
nails protruding from one end; the broken wine bottle,
still slick with his life fluids; the lead pipe with its slight
indentation from contact with his -- what? his foot? his
skull? both? All were vivid in her mind's eye. She closed
her eyes to the images, shying away from their intrusion
into her consciousness. Then remembering her self-assigned
penance, she embraced the visions, embraced the pain,
allowing the full horror of what had been done to him --
done in her absence -- done due to her absence -- to wash
over her, smothering her with guilt, flooding her with
her own blame.
Another tear made its way down her face, and she
tenderly lowered the blanket over him, carefully smoothing
the wrinkles away, gently tucking the edges in so no draft
could assault his battered flesh. She scrubbed her face
with her hands, brushing her unruly hair back from her
eyes, then stepped to the head of the bed. Lowering herself
to the chair again, she leaned forward and traced a trail of
feather-light kisses from his brow to his chin.
"I -- " she paused, her voice breaking as she struggled to
calm her racing heart and level her voice. "Mulder," she
began again, her voice still soft, but more in control. "I
need to step outside for a few minutes." She stopped,
searching for any sign of recognition or acknowledgment.
At his total non-response, she sighed and went on. "I need
to talk to the doctors and check on a few things." She
mentally berated herself for the lie. It was the middle of
the night -- no doctors to be found, but she needed to be
alone for just a few minutes. She needed time to deal with
her own raging emotions so she could be here for him now,
as she hadn't been then. "I'll be right outside and I'll be back
soon." Her mouth hovered by his ear, her lips caressing his
lobe with each word she spoke. "I'm here, Mulder," she said,
her voice breaking again, "Don't leave me. I'm here."
She stayed as she was for a moment longer, her head resting
on his pillow, her lips near his ear. She gently stroked his arm
and hand, then lifted her head and lightly cupped his cheek in
her hand. She grazed his lips with her own, her tongue darting
out to dampen his lower one with her own moisture. She closed
her eyes, savoring the feel of him, his presence a balm to her
shattered spirit, comforted by the slight rise and fall of his
broken chest. Finally, she drew away, sighing, and rose. One
last lingering touch, then she turned and walked out the door.
Teena Mulder stood in a darkened doorway, down the hall
from the room where her only son lay so desperately injured.
She waited patiently, an expert at waiting patiently after 37
years. She shook her head ruefully. Who would have ever
believed she would still be sneaking into hospital rooms to
visit her son -- her fully-grown, independent, self-sufficient,
FBI agent son at that?
How many times had she held this same vigil for Fox? In how
many countless hospitals? Bill had always been so brutal to
the boy. But he had been careful in the aftermath and they
had always taken him to different hospitals, different cities,
used different names. The one unchanging pattern -- Bill was
the devoted father, hovering at Fox's side, while she was the
neglectful mother, the one who never came to see the child.
Bill insisted. And she submitted. It seemed to make things
better when she submitted. At least on the surface. But she
became an expert at these midnight visitations. She'd learned
to be invisible in hospitals, to slip in and out without being
seen. And she'd learned patience.
Every *fall,* every *accident,* every *emergency,* she'd been
there through them all. When Fox was a child, she'd been there
every time, and she had made the trek all over the country since
he had joined the FBI -- slipping into hospitals in cities from
coast to coast. Bill had never known. And Fox had never
known. And since he'd been paired with the pretty redhead,
she hadn't known either. She knew Fox's partner thought she
was a terrible mother -- and she was right in her assessment.
The young woman was always polite, respectful, when she
called to tell of Fox's latest injury. Teena maintained the
image of cold and distant that she had perfected so well when
Fox was a child. But she recorded every word in her own
eidetic memory, noting locations and recovery times and
planning her own covert trips even as she disdainfully
thanked the young woman and replaced the phone. None
of that changed the fact that she *was* a terrible mother.
She had never protected her child like she should, and all
the midnight vigils in the world would never right that wrong.
She watched as Fox's young lady -- she'd never really found the
right thing to call her, not even in the privacy of her own
mind -- walked out of his room, her arms wrapped tightly
around herself, shoulders slumped and head down. Her clothes
were splattered with blood -- Fox's blood? And she looked guilty.
One glance and Teena could see she wore her guilt like a wet,
wool blanket, draped over her shoulders, dampening her spirit,
chilling her soul, weighing her down. It was a feeling with
which Teena was intimately acquainted. And though there
was no visible sign, Teena knew her hands were just as stained
with Fox's blood as this young woman's suit.
Teena wondered why his partner was so guilty, and wished she had
license to be angry at her, for Fox's sake. She must have done
something that resulted in Fox being here. Nothing else could make
her look so sad. But her own many sins with regards to her son
had negated her right to challenge others on his behalf. She watched
as the young woman moved away from her, away from Fox's room.
She waited patiently, then when sufficient time had elapsed, but not
too much, she walked quickly down the hall and slipped into her son's
She closed the door quietly, then stood silently, slumped against
the door, her back to the bed, as she braced herself for what she
knew would greet her eyes. She straightened, pulling herself erect,
turned slowly, then gasped out loud. There was no preparation for
this. Her eyes filled with tears and she hurried to stand by her child's
bed. She gazed down at his still form, her vision blurred from the
unshed tears. This was bad. She didn't have to be a doctor to see
that it was really bad this time.
She stood watching him in silence. He was so still. She bit back a
sob and gently reached out to touch his hand. Her Fox was *never*
still. It was one of Bill's main excuses for the punishments he
inflicted on the child. He just never could be still. Punishment --
even now, even here, she still lied to herself, as if the lie could make
her believe the things Bill had done, *and she had ignored,* were
Her Fox. So bright, so inquisitive, always eager to explore, to learn,
to know how it worked, and why it was that way. Her brilliant,
gifted child, reduced to this, over and over again. A cycle that
wouldn't be broken, no matter what was done. Her Fox - doomed
to lay still in hospital beds again and again.
"Shhh, baby," she murmured, "Mama's here." She touched his head,
brushing his hair back from the bandage that covered his brow,
unaware that she mimicked Scully's earlier actions. "Hush, my baby,
hush, Mama's here now." She chanted the mantra repeatedly,
knowing it was really herself she sought to soothe. Fox was beyond
her reach now, as he always had been. She was cursed. What she
had to offer was always too little, too late.
A sob escaped and she lowered her head to the bed, finally letting
the pent up tears flow. She cried quietly, neatly, economically, as
she did all things. Her poised, reserved mind stood back and
watched herself, recognizing that even in her sorrow, she was
efficient. No wasted motions, no jarring movements to disturb
her injured child. The tears flowed but she felt no sense of relief,
no feeling of burdens lifted. If anything, her guilt settled about
her even more heavily, draining her of energy, pinning her to the
chair with the weight of blame.
'How absurd,' she thought. 'How can I even remotely consider
myself responsible for him this time?' 'Because you are his mother,'
she answered herself. 'You have always let him down and this time
is no different. He needs you and once more you come to him in the
dark of night, unseen, unknown.' She lowered her head and felt the
hot flush of shame as it burned her cheeks. 'Coward,' she accused.
'Coward,' she acknowledged.
She lifted her head, eyes glued to the still body before her.
"I'm sorry, Fox," she whispered. "I'm so sorry."
Scully rose resolutely, heading for the small restroom in the
visitor's lounge. She'd spent enough time self-indulgently
licking her own psychological wounds. Mulder was the one
to focus on. He was the one who'd paid for her transgression
this time, and he certainly deserved to have her by his side,
for as long as he desired. And truly, there was nowhere else
she wanted to be. She just wanted him whole, and hale, and
hearty when she lay by his side, and up to his usual mischievous
She washed her face in cold water, letting the liquid cool her
burning cheeks, rinsing away the graininess from her eyes. She
cupped her hand and drank, soothing her raw throat. Taking
a coarse paper towel, she patted her face dry, then dared to glance
in the mirror. It was not a pretty site. Her face was blotchy and red.
her eyes were swollen and red. Her nose was runny and red. 'The
curse of fair skin and red hair,' she thought. 'We never can cry prettily.'
She shrugged then lifted her eyes to her hair. It was wild, completely
untamed as it fell in loose curls to surround her face. Here and there
strands were still matted with Mulder's blood. She wet the paper
towel and began to scrub at the gore, not for her own vanity, but for
Mulder. He loved her hair and could spend hours running his fingers
As she worked the sticky mess from the individual curls, she
remembered how he would talk of combing Samantha's long
brown tresses. Especially at the summer house, when they
would swim all day, and Samantha would be tired and cranky,
and too short-tempered to be patient to work through the tangles
when evening came. She smiled as she pictured him, the young
boy in the picture on his desk, seated on the steps to the porch,
his sister one step down, between his legs, as he slowly worked
the snarls from her long, dark hair.
She could imagine the smile on his face as he petted his baby sister,
telling her stories and making jokes, as he eased the comb through
her hair. She would lean against him drifting in and out of sleep,
the occasional mumbled response to his unceasing monologue. He
had told her it was one of his favorite memories. He'd felt at peace,
both loved and needed, and she'd smile as he would duplicate the
experience with her.
When she would come out of the shower, he'd be sitting on the bed,
waiting, leaned up against the headboard, his long legs spread and
extended. She'd crawl between those long legs, and lay back against
him, his solid bulk offering a safety and security she longed for in their
often strange and frightening world. Then he would lift the brush and
slowly tease the wash snarls from her hair. His hands worked magic --
gently massaging her scalp, the brush passing through her hair,
seemingly effortlessly. Her face flushed even more and a sudden rush
of liquid heat filled her center as she thought of the other places where
those talented hands could work magic. Blue eyes filled again at the
threat of losing his touch forever. She shook her head violently.
'That will *not* happen,' she told herself. 'He will come through
this and be all right.'
She took one more look in the mirror. The suit was a total loss. It,
too, was splattered with Mulder's blood and vomit. From the
moment she knelt in the alley by him, she'd been immersed in his
fluids and this break was the first time she'd thought of herself.
As Mulder's next of kin, she had been needed to sign all the forms
for his admission. She had raced through the onerous task, then
paced the halls outside the OR. Neither her FBI nor her medical
credentials had been sufficient to get her inside. She hadn't
wanted to let him out of her sight, but failing that, she had kept
close watch on the door that hid him from her vision.
Though she had had time to clean up and change while he was
in surgery, she hadn't been ready to do so then. A nurse had
offered her a set of surgical scrubs and she had declined.
Separated by rules and regulations, kept out by walls and
doors, she'd been unwilling to part with the last physical
connection she had to Mulder - her blood covered clothes.
She had taken a few minutes to make the requisite call to Mulder's
mother, a call she had already made far too many times. Met with
the by now anticipated cold and curt response, she had kept the
call short, giving specifics of his injuries as she knew them, and
where he could be found -- as if his mother would ever visit, or even
send a card. She gave a snort of disgust as she replayed the
conversation in her mind, including her own final plea that the
woman come this time as Mulder was more severely injured than
she had seen before. It was met with a polite rebuff as Mrs. Mulder
had cited her own health concerns.
She sighed, then headed out of the restroom to find a nurse and a
set of surgical scrubs she could borrow, before she went back to
resume her vigil by Mulder's bed.
End part 01/02
Scully opened the door quietly, stepped inside, and froze. There
was a figure sitting by Mulder's bed, head bowed, his hand cradled
lightly in its own. She stood silently for a moment, waiting for
movement or acknowledgment of her presence. When none was
forthcoming, she cleared her throat, and asked, "Excuse me? Can I
help you?" as she walked across the room toward the bed -- and Mulder.
The figure slowly stirred, turning to look at her, and Scully was
surprised to see it was Mulder's mother. She halted her forward
progress and stood, staring dazedly at the older women, her jaw
slack with astonishment. Teena Mulder gave a half-amused,
half-rueful smile and said, "Surprised to see me, Miss Scully?"
Scully continued to stare, still rooted to the same spot on the floor,
then closed her mouth with an audible snap. She struggled to pull
herself together and finally managed a cool response. "Actually,
Mrs. Mulder, I am. You indicated you weren't well enough to
travel." She raised an eyebrow in inquiry.
Teena shook her head. "I know," she said, "I always say that,
but I always come." She tilted her head to look up at Scully and
added, "You didn't know that, did you?"
"You always come?" Scully repeated dumbly.
"Always. I always have."
"But - Mulder doesn't ... He thinks ... You never ..." Scully's
temporary poise had fled. She seemed unable to complete a
coherent sentence. Finally, she just asked, "Why?"
Teena turned her head again, focusing on the figure in the bed.
"He's really a remarkable man," she said conversationally. She
glanced back over her shoulder in time to see Scully's nod of
agreement. "Come," she waved toward the space next to the
chair, "join me. I'm sure we can find another chair around here
Scully shook her head as if to clear it, and Teena laughed, a high,
tight sound. "Yes, Miss Scully, I really am here."
"Dana," Scully mumbled as she pulled the other chair forward
and took a seat next to Mulder's mother. "Call me Dana."
Teena nodded graciously, turned again to look at the man in the
bed, then said abruptly, "Bill beat him, did you know that?"
"I suspected there was some -- conflict -- in the home."
Teena laughed again, bitter this time. "How tactfully put,
Miss Scully -- Dana -- *conflict* indeed. Bill abused him, I
neglected him, Fox blamed himself -- for everything from the
beatings to Samantha's disappearance to the divorce -- and we
let him." She gently touched Mulder's arm, one finger tracing
a slow trail from elbow to wrist. "Conflict indeed." She took
her son's hand again, then shifted slightly so she faced Scully.
"I love my son, Dana. I really do. God knows I'm a failure as
a parent, but I do love him." She paused, gathering her
thoughts, thinking how odd it was that after all these years she
would choose this woman to hear her confession. Well, maybe
not so odd after all; they were united by the bond of love they
both had for the same man. "You do love him too, don't you?"
she asked gently.
Scully nodded and she unconsciously reached out toward the
man in the bed. She laid a hand on the blanket covered leg,
a connection with this man for whom the word 'love' was
woefully inadequate. This was the man the fates had joined her
with, the man without whom she was incomplete. She nodded
again, her thoughts whirling, and said, "Yes, I do love him."
"I can see that," Teena said, "and I an so pleased that he
has someone like you to care for him. You're strong. He
needs that. I loved him, but I was never strong enough to
give him the things he needed. I could never protect him."
She sighed, a mixture of sadness, repentance, and self-disgust.
"Things were different back then," Teena started. "I know,"
she lifted her hand to quiet Scully as she immediately
opened her mouth in retort. "It's no excuse," she said
fiercely. "Don't you think I know that?" The air crackled
with tension as the two women looked at each other. Finally,
Teena turned and placed her son's hand back onto the bed.
"It's no excuse," she repeated, more subdued now, "but it
*was* different back then." She gazed at the man before her,
memories battling within her mind.
Teena lifted her head again, and her eyes sought Scully's,
pleading, and at last, Scully nodded in grudging acknowledgment,
if not agreement. Teena nodded as well, her eyes moving back to
her son, and went on.
"Bill was always strict, very firm with Fox. He set very high
expectations and, fortunately, Fox was usually able to achieve
them. I can't imagine the pressure he must have been under
back then. I knew Bill was strict but I just didn't think it was
my place to be critical of how my husband chose to discipline
Fox." Her eyes slid back to Scully, gauging her reaction. The
younger woman's mouth was narrowed in disapproval, but she
was listening, and she hadn't rebuked her yet.
"And Fox was no angel. Oh, he wasn't a bad child, but he was
busy. Always moving, always into things. And questions!"
She smiled at the memory. "That boy woke up with a new
question every day, I swear he did. And not your normal 'why
is the sky blue?' questions either. Those I could have handled.
But Bill had started Fox on an extremely advanced home
curriculum from a very early age. Fox was reading at two, and
could read at a high school level by the time he was five. He
didn't always totally understand what he read -- he didn't have
the experiences and the emotional maturity to really understand -
but he could define any word he read, and define the words in
the definition as well." She looked at Scully. "He's really brilliant,
you know. He's learned to hide it somewhat, in order to fit in, but
he is gifted beyond expression. Academically gifted, and intuitively
gifted as well. He just seems to *know* things."
Scully nodded and Teena gave a small sigh. It was pleasant to
have someone understand what she meant when she spoke of her
son. It was a rare occurrence that she talked of him at all, and even
rarer that the listener understood.
"But his questions. I remember one morning, he had been looking
at a math text Bill was reviewing for use in the future. Fox was 6
and had started algebra, but this was a calculus text. And he asked
me, "Are exponential functions the exact opposite of log functions?"
She laughed. "I majored in Sociology - how was I supposed to
know?" She laughed again and this time, it was a laugh of pure
enjoyment, and Scully joined her. They both gazed fondly at
Mulder, Teena pleased to be able to share this memory with
someone, and Scully thrilled to have another glimpse into this
fascinating, complex man.
"He always had questions like that. Sometimes concrete questions,
rooted in the sciences, sometimes abstract, issues of morality, and
ethics, and faith. Bill was a hard taskmaster, but I honestly think
Fox thrived under it. He was like a little sponge, soaking up
knowledge, always wanting more, always wanting to know. And
with his giftedness, he was able to keep up with the brutal pace
Bill set for the most part. But when he didn't, when the urge to
be a child won out over the urge to *know,* Fox always paid a
high price. Riding his bike, a walk around the block, sitting in the
yard and watching the birds, these were all things that distracted
from "The Program." Bill had some idea that his son would be a
hero, a savior, a world leader, or some other great person that fit
into his own grand megalomaniacal scheme of the cosmos. But
when Fox just wanted to be a boy, there was no point in trying to
get him to work on his studies. He can be extremely stubborn at
"Don't I know it," Scully muttered under her breath and Teena
smiled in agreement.
"When Bill would come home and find Fox hadn't completed
his lessons for the day, he would be furious. Furious at me for
not being more forceful. We'd usually end up in a screaming
match, but that was as far as it went between us. I'd storm off
to my room and leave Fox to deal with his father." She dropped
her face into her hands and Scully had to strain to hear her next
words. "I'd leave a 6 year old boy to deal with an adult male in
a fit of rage, and tell myself that he had to take responsibility
for his own actions. What kind of monster am I?"
She sat that way for some time, head bowed, face covered by her
hands, her shoulders trembling from the flail of self-loathing as
she sought to regain control. Scully sat patiently, not ready to say
anything, waiting. Finally, Teena lifted her head and continued.
"It was bad, but Bill kept it quiet. And I consoled myself with the
thought that it wasn't all the time. And it wasn't. All the time, that
is. Usually Fox could do what Bill set for him and still have time
for himself -- he's never slept much -- "
"He still doesn't," Scully interrupted. "I've always wondered why."
"Who knows?" Teena answered. "Was it always in his nature, or
did he have to learn to do with little sleep in self-defense?
"Anyway, it was only on those rare occasions that he didn't fit it
all in, that things got out of hand. Then Bill would brutalize the
child. Beatings that resulted in broken bones, dislocated joints, the
occasional internal injury or concussion." Teena's voice broke and
she shuddered. She closed her eyes as the memory washed over
her. "Fox was always stoic in his endurance. I never heard him
cry." She dropped her voice again to whisper brokenly, "I think
he felt he deserved it -- especially after Samantha was taken away."
She looked up again, her eyes filled with tears, and found her
sorrow mirrored in the tear-filled eyes of the young woman sitting
"Bill would never let me go and be with Fox when he was in the
hospital. Everyone thought Bill was this great father, always with
his son, and I was the mother from Hell who never even called to
say hello." She shook her head sadly. "And I let it go on -- all of it.
"Seventeen hospitalizations, seventeen different cities, seventeen
different names, from the time he was 4 until he was 15. It's
amazing what you can buy when you have money. But then, I
actually grew a spine and managed to leave Bill and take Fox with
me. Of course, I waited until Bill had almost killed him before I
did it." She closed her eyes, reliving the horror of that month
long separation -- when Fox lay comatose for over two weeks. She
shuddered again, then allowed herself to savor the small triumph of
her eventual freedom -- and the safety it bought Fox. "But I did it.
Samantha had been gone three years.
Before Sam disappeared, I was reluctant to interfere in Bill's
*discipline* of Fox. I hid in my room -- my way of burying my
head in the sand. After Sam was taken, I was sure Bill was my
only link to her, my only hope of ever getting her back. But once
any realistic hope of her being returned was gone, I no longer felt
I had to stay with Bill in order to get Samantha back. I had felt I
couldn't protect Fox without letting her go. I was afraid if I tried
to prevent Bill from taking out his anger on his son, I risked
losing any chance of Samantha ever being returned.
"After the divorce, Fox boarded at the high school on the
mainland. He was always respectful towards me, but I think he
held me in contempt as well. Justifiably so. Or maybe I'm just
projecting my feelings onto him." She shrugged. "Who knows?"
"Mulder would know," Scully said softly. "You could talk to him."
Teena shook her head sadly. "I forfeited that right long ago." She
sighed, then rubbed her eyes briefly before continuing. "There was
no way I would have let him go with Bill -- not that he wanted to -
and he didn't seem to want to be with me, so when he asked to go
to the mainland, to a boarding prep school, I let him. He got
involved in extracurricular activities over there, things Bill would
never let him do. He made friends and played baseball and
basketball, things he'd never been able to do before. I used to slip
into the gym to see him play. He was really good and he seemed
so happy. I really believe he was happier there than he'd ever been
before, or at least since Samantha disappeared."
"When he was little," Scully asked curiously, "how did he react to
Teena smiled in remembrance. "When Samantha was born, Fox fell
in love with her. We all did, but Fox, he just adored her. When I
was pregnant, he wanted to know everything there was to know
about babies. How they're made, how they grow, how they're born.
Then he was reading child development books -- he was 4 mind you
-- and he kept charts of Sammy's progress. If she was even a day late
on some milestone, Fox would start to fret. Now Sam was a bright
girl, above average intelligence, but she was nothing like Fox when
it came to her abilities. She rolled over, and sat up, and walked and
talked and did all those other things within normal parameters, but
she was barely talking at two, let alone reading as Fox had been.
"At first I worried that Bill would be disappointed, would be as
harsh with her as he was with Fox, but he doted on her. And I
expected Fox to be jealous, but he doted on her too. Fox thought
the sun rose and set in that child, and it was only right that others
should think it too. Fox started school, and learned very quickly
that it was OK to be smart, even a good thing, but smart meant a
little ahead, not like him. He held back, and even managed to
make some friends, as he grew. But Sam was his first friend, and
she was always his best friend.
"In an odd sort of way, Sam became Fox's protector. Something I'd
never been. She'd intercede for him in little ways with Bill. She
hated sports, but she would wangle trips to see the Celtics and the
Red Sox, sitting patiently through the games because it was the
only way Bill would take Fox. And sometimes she could even
prevent the beatings. She'd go to her father and beg for Fox,
telling Bill it was her fault Fox hadn't had time to finish his
work. Usually Bill would let her get away with it -- he could
deny her nothing."
Teena lowered her voice and dropped her head to stare at the
tightly clenched hands that rested in her lap. "That's why they
took her. They wanted Fox at first. Fox was not only a way to
control Bill, but with his genius, he would have offered fascinating
opportunities for research."
Her eyes brimmed with tears again as she sought Scully's eyes.
"Bill was not always evil. He was strong, and intelligent, and
oh, so romantic. When we married, he told me I was his soul.
Then when Fox was born, Bill was enthralled by how smart he was,
and he said Fox challenged his mind. But if I was the keeper of his
soul, and Fox the guardian of his mind, Samantha stole his heart.
When they took his heart, there was nothing left, and he lost both
mind and soul."
Teena began to cry again, and Scully rose to give her a moment's
privacy. She walked to the other side of the bed and looked at
Mulder's monitors, checked his IV, and took a few minutes to
stroke his hair and whisper unheard reassurances to him -- and
to herself. When she returned to her seat, Teena was in control
again, and smiled slightly when Scully briefly reached out and
squeezed her arm.
"And Sam adored her big brother," she continued. "He was so
patient with her. Always willing to take time with her. He was
completely besotted. He read to her, played games with her, taught
her how to ride a bike. He was the one she called for when she had
a bad dream and the one she went to for comfort when she was
"Her hair," Scully murmured. "He brushed her hair."
"Yes," Teena agreed. "She always wanted Fox to brush her hair
after her shower or when they'd been swimming. Bill wouldn't
let her cut it, so it was very long -- almost to her waist." She smiled
ruefully. "I never had the patience with her hair that Fox did. I'd
hurry and pull the snarls and she'd cry. But Fox would take his
time, sometimes brushing her hair until she fell asleep in his lap.
"When Bill beat him and he was in the hospital, he never
complained about anything except that he missed Sam. He put
up with everything and only missed Sam. It was really amazing to
watch the two of them. They were so good for each other. Samantha
accepted Fox unconditionally. She was the only person in his life to
ever do that." Teena paused again, appraising the young woman sitting
next to her. "Until now," she added, and Scully smiled slightly in
acceptance of the compliment.
"Mrs. Mulder," Scully began, "it's obvious you love your son very
much. And while you didn't handle things in the past in perhaps
the best manner, the past is history. We can learn from our history
and move on. Why are you still sneaking in to see him in the dark
of night, when he would love to have you come in the light of day?"
"I can't," Teena replied. "I don't deserve his love, and I can't change
what I know." She looked up at Scully. "Tell me, why are you
feeling so guilty about Fox this time? He's been hurt before in the
line of duty. What was different this time?"
Scully flushed and hung her head in embarrassment. "I - I
wasn't there when he needed me," she stammered. "I didn't watch
"You can't be there every second of every day, every time.
Surely you know that?"
Scully nodded. "I -- hesitated -- when I should have gone to
check on him immediately. I -- couldn't -- make a decision."
She dropped her head as the shame washed over her again.
"I don't know what happened."
Teena nodded in understanding. "I know. But Fox is the most
forgiving person to those he loves. He never blamed his father
for anything except his involvement in -- Samantha. He would
forgive me if I'd let him." She cocked her head, measuring this
strong, young woman in her mind."I would imagine that Fox
won't even think there is anything to forgive in this case. He
won't hold you accountable."
"He won't have to. I hold myself accountable." Scully lifted her
eyes to meet Teena Mulder's.
For a long moment, thoughts spoken and those left unspoken
flowed between the two women, until one broke the silence.
"Exactly," Teena Mulder said. "Exactly."
Just then, Mulder stirred on the bed, and both women turned
to look to him. His eyes opened slightly, and he gave a slight start
as he took in the figure in his field of vision. "Mom?" he croaked.
"Shh," she responded, as her hand stroked his hair. "It's a dream,
darling." She could feel Dana's reaction beside her as the words
reached her. "Be strong." She winced at the pained confusion in
Fox's eyes. It was better this way. "Be strong," she said again, but
was she speaking to her son or to herself? It really was better this
way. It was. "I love you, baby boy," she murmured, and his lips
curled upward in a smile, even as his eyes drifted shut again. She
swallowed hard, then said, "Your Scully is here."
She watched with mixed emotions as his eyes opened again and
he strained to move, searching for Scully. When she did not
immediately appear, he began to struggle and hoarsely call,
Scully stepped forward as Teena stepped back. "Hush, Mulder,
I'm here. Be still now, be still, it's all right. I'm here."
Teena took another step back, watching the tableau before her.
Her son's eyes never left Dana's face. And there was a joy, a
welcome, a belonging in them that was never present when he
looked at her. Dana was the one he belonged to now, in a way
he had never belonged to her. And that was as it should be.
Dana was still shushing him, her hands stroking his brow, her
words soothing him. She watched Dana lean over to kiss him,
treasuring this moment in her heart of hearts.
And then, once more, Teena Mulder slipped out of the room,
and out of the intimate moments of her son's life.