This is the sequal to "If I close my eyes forever"


NewTitle:  Vortex
                                             Author:  Truthwebothknow
                                             Summary:  "Scully looked at his face carefully,
                                             noting that the familiar Mulder excitement glittered
                                             in his eyes like fireflies.  Relieved beyond belief
                                             to see something in him she hadn't seen in a while,
                                             certainly not since his enforced medical leave after
                                             the terrible accident 3 months ago."
                                             Written for IMTP VS10 Halloween special event challenge
                                             Category:  MSR, A, X, MT
                                             Rating:  PG for adult themes, etc. Spooky activity
                                             Disclaimer:  CC owns them all along with Fox,
                                             Devonshire belongs to the UK.  I just pack them off
                                             to haunted places.  Borasic housewife so no point in
                                             suing.  No profit except maybe occasional nice
                                             Archive: anywhere after VS10 two week exclusivity.
                                             Please let me know.
Thanks to Vickie Moseley for the encouragement
                                             in the first place and
                                             wonderful insightful beta
                                             This is a sequal to "IF I CLOSE MY EYES FOREVER"  to be found at 
                                             Gossamer .
                                             Feedback:  dragonrider1@ntlworld.com
                                             By Truthwebothknow
                                             "Impressive!" Fox Mulder watched Dana Scully's lips
                                             moved exquisitely around her exclamation, making
                                             Mulder's heart turn over in his chest like a gymnast
                                             flipping over a parallel bar. He felt giddy. He
                                             reached for her fingers to steady him. She squeezed
                                             "Spooky," he corrected, huskily in her ear, clearly
                                             delighted. His mouth was slightly agape both at the
                                             sight of her and at the foreboding Gothic monstrosity
                                             glaring down at them from over the swaying oaks like
                                             several ugly decaying teeth.
                                             Scully looked at his face carefully, noting that the
                                             familiar Mulder excitement glittered in his eyes like
                                             fireflies. Relieved beyond belief to see something in
                                             him she hadn't seen in a while, certainly not since
                                             his enforced medical leave after the terrible
                                             accident 3 months ago.
                                             "Shall we?" Her arm slipped around his. His grin was
                                             almost feral in intensity.
                                             "Can't wait."
                                             Scully gripped his arm firmly as he started to move
                                             forward across the grass courtyard, cane in his other
                                             hand to assist his awkward, unsteady gait. His body
                                             still ravaged by the unnatural, brutal collision of
                                             bone against unforgiving metal, glass and granite
                                             that had heralded the end of his FBI career and the X
                                             files. Nothing was written in stone but Scully knew
                                             the medical hearing was just an unhappy formality
                                             that still hung over them. The X files, dark,
                                             ominous, full of mystery and wonder, a precipitous
                                             piece of their history together, like the monument
                                             they were about to enter. Defunct now, just like
                                             Scully studied him closely, a warmth fluttering
                                             briefly across the inherent chill she felt inside,
                                             seeing the exuberant 12 year old inhabit his all too
                                             thin adult body. The grin on his face, classic Mulder
                                             in paranormal radar mode, leaning into her shoulder
                                             as they slowly made their way through the ancient
                                             portcullis into what the tourist brochures had
                                             proudly claimed as, one of the most haunted castles
                                             in England.
                                             Her laughter sounded good to both their ears as it
                                             echoed off the old gray walls as Mulder began
                                             whistling the "Ghostbusters" theme.
                                             "Who ya gonna call, Scully?"  His partner pulled
                                             him into a tight embrace and she kissed him, feeling
                                             the fresh caress of a late English fall breeze.
                                             The day before. October 30th
                                             Everything was so green and pretty, so different than
                                             anywhere else she had ever been, a complete contrast
                                             from the sleepless metropolis that was the every day
                                             circus of professional downtown D.C. The pace of life
                                             seems so tranquil here. You could breathe.
                                             The fall was just beginning in the leaves that
                                             undulated and whispered in a kaleidoscope of orange,
                                             green and cinnamon against the side of the train as
                                             they passed through a tunnel of trees.  She couldn't
                                             believe the countryside could be so many vivid
                                             shades. It was like she had been seeing the world
                                             under a veil and someone had suddenly removed it,
                                             seeing it fully for the first time. Where the sun
                                             kissed the rain earlier, there was now a rainbow to
                                             complete the effect.
                                             Scully's eyes were glued to the endless tapestry of
                                             colors punctuated by fields, valleys, forests,
                                             streams and the odd waterfall outside the window of
                                             the Waterloo to Exeter Intercity, as it nudged its
                                             way through Somerset and into the lush Devon scenery.
                                             An unbidden smile curled her lips at the image of a
                                             young, impressionable Mulder spending several
                                             formative years in this wonderful place steeped in
                                             mystery.   What could have been a Crop circle caught
                                             her eye as they passed a golden wheat field. She
                                             grinned, shaking her head. The true culprit appearing
                                             in the form of a yellow combine gathering in the
                                             summer's crop in a haphazard line down the field.
                                             Mulder stirred from his relaxed slumber against her
                                             shoulder, joining her eyes at the window, blinking in
                                             the autumn sunshine that bathed the carriage.
                                             Feeling his breath on her neck, she let out a sigh of
                                             contentment, closing her eyes against the bright sun,
                                             letting the train's gentle rocking bathe her with
                                             deep relaxation.
                                             "...Hi Scully, you okay?" She knew how proud he was
                                             of this country that had adopted him while he studied
                                             at Oxford. Apart from the unfortunate specter of one
                                             Phoebe Green, for the most he loved this country like
                                             a native. He'd gushed like a Jewish mother over all
                                             the other places they'd seen. London, York, Oxford.
                                             Oxford! His heart truly beat again for the first time
                                             since the accident had silenced its passion and
                                             spirit, leaving it lost in his chest. Only she could
                                             hear it and she had to really listen.
                                             He was so excited  at the thought of revisiting his
                                             old haunts and he hadn't really come down since. He
                                             called it his Oxford beat. Scully had nearly fallen
                                             out of the boat, laughing as he said it. They nearly
                                             both ended up in the river. Good memories, he was
                                             going to need them, they both were. A sudden slither
                                             of melancholy caught her in the ribs. His hand
                                             tugging gently at hers brought her out of her
                                             She opened her eyes and met his, basking in the love
                                             she found there. He was here, alive. Right now it's
                                             all that mattered.
                                             ..."Mmmmmnnnn. England is wonderful, Mulder. So
                                             different. Think I'll pull up stakes and move over
                                             here, buy one of these trains and just travel around
                                             like this. Better than a massage. Can't believe I
                                             left it so long to visit."
                                             "Should have seen the state of the old bone shakers
                                             they had back in the late 70's when I was last here,
                                             Scully." Mulder pulled her close, kissing her, his
                                             arm snaking further round her waist. "They were often
                                             dirty, invariably late, served coffee that would burn
                                             a hole like the bounty hunter's blood and were
                                             staffed by sadistic nazi-ite ticket vendors that made
                                             cancer man look like a pussy in comparison."
                                             "So from that I take it you got caught without a
                                             ticket occasionally?" The famous Scully eyebrow
                                             crumbled the denial perched on his tongue. His shy
                                             smirk confirmed her suspicion. ...
                                             "Um, busted." Scully laughed, noting that his eyes
                                             matched the color of the leaves outside as they
                                             twinkled with amusement. "Hey, I was a poor student
                                             living on baked bean lasagna; and something calorific
                                             and hideous called Scouse that my Liverpudlian
                                             roommate always made me. I got from London to
                                             Edinburgh once with only £3 pounds in my pocket. Got
                                             the rag week prize for audacity and deviousness."  He
                                             suddenly had an unbidden flashback of his own naked
                                             ass, some funny herbs and a horribly stained British
                                             railways blanket on the sleeper to Arbroath. God, he
                                             hadn't known there nuns were aboard, or that the
                                             blanket had slipped when the door to his sleeper
                                             swung open, revealing to the nuns a part of his
                                             anatomy his mother hadn't laid eyes on since he was 9
                                             years old. The nuns were probably still in therapy.
                                             He giggled at the thought. God that felt good. He
                                             squeezed Scully's hand. Wondering what she would
                                             think about that particular escapade.
                                             "I always knew deep down under that FBI hotshot
                                             persona there was a criminal element, Mulder.
                                             Thankfully you swapped it for innuendo as you
                                             matured, well got older. I don't know about matured."
                                             "I'm wounded, Scully!" he clutched his heart, trying
                                             his best to look mortally insulted. "No backrub for
                                             you tonight..."
                                             She shot him a kilowatt smile, planting her lips
                                             firmly on his, effectively silencing his next
                                             thought. Mulder relished this new openly affectionate
                                             Scully that had been taking shape over the last year
                                             and since the trauma of the last few months.
                                             "Look over there " Mulder used the bogus distraction
                                             to wipe the tear that slipped down his face.
                                             Mulder hated how his emotions betrayed him now. He
                                             didn't quite buy the skull fracture theory they gave
                                             him for the often embarrassing and unbidden tears
                                             that plagued him sometimes.
                                             "What was it?"
                                             "What did you see?"  His eyes settled on a moving
                                             brown figure he'd previously missed. Something caught
                                             his vision, exciting his paranormal chip, then he
                                             relaxed, it wasn't what he thought he saw, or was
                                             hoping for.
                                             "There."  Scully watched his eyes as they tracked a
                                             fox making its way across a hilly field. Mulder felt
                                             a knot of sadness at the pronounced limp he saw as it
                                             disappeared into a deep pine grove. "Lame Fox!"   The
                                             second that Scully squeezed his fingers he realized
                                             he'd said it aloud. "Just like me." A sad smile
                                             answered her worried expression. Fighting a lump in
                                             her throat, she pulled his head against her shoulder.
                                             A trembling hand stroked his cheek. Lips brushed his
                                             "Another hour and we'll be there, Mulder,you okay?"
                                             "Tired,where are we staying?" He sighed, pressing the
                                             heel of his hands in both eyes, rubbing.
                                             "Latchmere Inn, 2 minutes from Darkmere castle. We
                                             can get a cab from Totnes station according to the
                                             tourist brochure. " Mulder allowed himself a small
                                             smile at her change of subject, focusing on the
                                             reason for their trek to the West Country. He
                                             couldn't wait to see her reaction to this bygone
                                             haven of ghostly excellence straight out a Lovecraft
                                             play. Just the two of them, in their own time, on
                                             their dime, like old times. Somehow he didn't feel
                                             the usual pang of sadness in his heart. She may not
                                             be his partner for much longer but they were partners
                                             in an entirely more profound way. The best way, his
                                             heart told him.
                                             Their eyes closed for the rest of the journey,
                                             fingers entwined tightly, the world passing the
                                             endless quilted greens of Devon, Scully's eyes only
                                             flickering open at the two toned horn, signaling an
                                             approaching tiny station and to reassure herself that
                                             Mulder was still breathing. She marveled at the candy
                                             box perfect thatched cottages dotting their journey
                                             westward, indulging a fantasy that she and Mulder
                                             could leave behind the chaos and tragedy they'd
                                             suffered, coming here to heal and live in one them.
                                             Open fire to make love in front of, hot soup when the
                                             wind blew across the Dartmoor peaks. Toasting
                                             marshmallows, listening to Mulder's rich voice read
                                             Hound of the Baskervilles aloud. How perfect would
                                             that be? Mulder could thrive in this little slice of
                                             English heaven, far from consortiums, case files,
                                             distain, ridicule from his colleagues and the smell
                                             of fear that tainted his every breath,every day.
                                             They could start again, make this their bolt hole, be
                                             free to love and actually live beyond the horror of
                                             their old lives, the paranormal aspect here could
                                             keep him amused indefinitely.
                                             If he sold his Armani's, not that he would need them
                                             much longer, and their apartments, they could maybe
                                             snag one of those thatched dreams. She watched the
                                             rise and fall of his chest, dwarfed in a blue Oxford,
                                             smiling at the dream right beside her, one she could
                                             hold and touch right now. It didn't matter where they
                                             were or what was in the future, as long as they were
                                             He was still so frail, little things reminded her of
                                             that every day. When she got to the village where
                                             they would be staying she would scope out the local
                                             church and light a candle for him, like she had done
                                             in Oxford, Canterbury, the chapels in the tower of
                                             London and St Paul's, all unbeknownst to the sleeping
                                             miracle next to her. She felt a sudden urge to feel
                                             his heart, caressing the fabric until the strong beat
                                             filled her hand like a captive bird. She let out the
                                             breath she'd been holding. He looked so much like a
                                             little boy. It took her breath away.
                                             5pm Latchmere Inn Devon. England.
                                             The Latchmere Inn turned out to be a 12-century
                                             coaching Inn built by the first squire of Darkmere.
                                             Charles Seymour. Much of the old charm had stayed,the
                                             old timberwork intact. Old prints of the castle and
                                             village artifacts on the mantle over the fire and on
                                             the shelving around the Inn spoke of its true age
                                             like something trapped in another time.
                                             Scully was glad to see a real open fire in the bar
                                             downstairs. It was warm and welcoming, everything
                                             they needed. Mulder was rather taken with the real
                                             ale selection to be had and managed to get Scully to
                                             relent on the no alcohol rule his own doctor had
                                             imposed. The beaten puppy look melted her resolve
                                             "Just one", she told him pointedly as he pulled his
                                             wallet. He was still on painkillers after all. He
                                             breathed in the atmosphere, noting the two old timers
                                             jovially discussing farm business and the odd joke
                                             over their own pints.
                                             Scully gave him a playful scowl as he informed her
                                             his pint of choice was something called "Pigs
                                             breath", something he'd come across in his Oxford
                                             days.  Mulder swigged his pint and nodded
                                             thoughtfully, the long absence of any kind of alcohol
                                             zooming strait to his brain with a mule like kick. He
                                             was definitely in a buoyant holiday mood now. He
                                             waved at the two old guys in the corner as they
                                             turned and gave him the newcomers the once over. The
                                             natives seemed friendly even if they stared a bit.
                                             They had a great lunch, salad for Scully while Mulder
                                             enjoyed the house steak, much to Scully's delight he
                                             was actually eating well, the months in the hospital
                                             making his skin hang on his bones.
                                             While Scully was booking them in, Mulder spotted
                                             another beer called "old spooky." An evil leer crept
                                             across his face at the irony and ordered a pint of
                                             that and fruit juice for Scully. `What the hell I'm
                                             on vacation. I'll atone later,' he though with a leer
                                             at the sort of atonement he could expect if Scully
                                             got wind of his indiscretion. He couldn't resist. He
                                             stood at the bar, eyes darting towards the reception
                                             room next door where he could hear Scully talking to
                                             the manager. He swallowed his pint in record time,
                                             anxious to hide the evidence before Scully caught him
                                             red-handed. The landlord, Doug, gave him a knowing
                                             wink, he was a robust apple cheeked guy who put
                                             Mulder in mind of an obese Frohike, and only this guy
                                             had a Devon brogue and was a good deal taller. The
                                             sort of guy who could pull pints with his teeth.
                                             "American?" he grunted cheerfully whilst pulling the
                                             pint, showing teeth as he watched Scully come back
                                             into the bar. God, he even leers like Frohike, good
                                             job Scully left her gun Stateside.
                                             "Yeah, just here for some country air and a little
                                             sightseeing. Going up to the castle tomorrow. "
                                             "It be haunted well, you yanks love that sort of
                                             stuff, don't ye." Mulder nodded, enjoying the country
                                             lilt in the man's voice.  " Watch out for the blue
                                             lady, she is the evil one. Don't look at her eyes if
                                             you see her. The white lady is sad one. Tomorrow's
                                             Halloween, it's said she walks the tower and can be
                                             seen jumping off. Don't go following her though, she
                                             attracts souls that are lost. Several people followed
                                             her over the years and they were found dead in the
                                             ravine by the east side of the castle. It's a creepy
                                             place to behold. I get an odd feeling up there.
                                             Never from one night to another do you know what you
                                             might see, you mind yourself, half crippled and all."
                                             Mulder nodded his thanks, eyes dropping to his ruined
                                             legs and the cane that was the only thing between him
                                             and a wheelchair.  "Keep to the marked pathways in
                                             the grounds and don't stray too far in the woods."
                                             Mulder's mind worked overtime at the thrill of the
                                             description the landlord gave him. Wondering if he
                                             really meant it or if it was a well-rehearsed spiel
                                             for tourists like him and Scully. As luck would have
                                             it, they might actually be here at the optimum time
                                             to see something, and let Scully see it too. That
                                             would turn him on.
                                             "Thanks, I'm really hoping to see something. I've
                                             heard all the local legends." Doug nodded knowingly,
                                             an odd spark in his eyes.
                                             Mulder moved away from the bar to go back to the
                                             table. Scully caught him when his legs threatened to
                                             buckle. Scully glared first at Mulder and then at the
                                             smiling landlord who seemed to be enjoying their
                                             silent exchange. Mulder grinned stupidly at her. His
                                             sudden attack of hiccups made her blue eyes narrow in
                                             suspicion. Then her eyes fell on the incriminating
                                             empty glass on the bar.
                                             "Mulder!!! Your meds, I can't believe you did that. I
                                             don't even have to tell you that English beer is far
                                             stronger than the stuff we get at home."
                                             "Sculleee, it's full of carbohydrates, you wanted me
                                             to put weight on."
                                             "Of course I do but if you do actually see a real
                                             ghost it will be put down to an alcoholic
                                             hallucination. Besides, I don't want you keeling over
                                             in a foreign country, it's quite bad enough when you
                                             do that at home. I don't think the English health
                                             service is quite ready for you, Mulder."
                                             Mulder wasn't listening suddenly. He peered past her
                                             shoulder, noticing for the first time that the table
                                             in the corner was empty, the glasses were gone and
                                             the old guys that he'd seen there all afternoon had
                                             vanished as if they were never there. " ...That and I
                                             worry about you........ Mulder, did you hear me?"
                                             "Scully, did you se where those guys went?"
                                             "What guys?" Mulder's brow knitted in confusion. He
                                             shook his head, must be the beer.
                                             "There were two old guys sat talking when we came in,
                                             did you see them go, Doug?" The landlord shrugged,
                                             "But you served them?"
                                             "First customers we have had in all day, you and the
                                             lovely lady there" Mulder gaped first at Doug and
                                             then at the vacant table.
                                             "Scully, you must have noticed them when we came in.
                                             They were there talking...drinking " She rolled her
                                             eyes at him. Skeptic as ever.
                                             "You're pulling my leg, Mulder. I didn't see anyone.
                                             Just Doug, here and us. Are you sure you only had two
                                             pints of that stuff?"
                                             "Your kidding me, I saw them. I waved at them, they
                                             acknowledged me." He was clearly confused now as Doug
                                             and Scully grinned at him, sure he was pulling a fast
                                             one. It was his style after all.
                                             "Sorry Mulder, I didn't see them. I did wonder why
                                             you were waving at thin air but we had a long trip
                                             from London. I thought you were swatting at a fly or
                                             something. Let's get you up to the room, G-man," She
                                             decided, seeing he was more confused than ever.
                                             He must have been swaying slightly. Before he could
                                             protest, her arm encircled his waist steering him
                                             towards the brass sign that pointed their way to
                                             their room. On the way up he spotted some imposing
                                             prints of the castle. Wild, he thought, anticipation
                                             and alcohol fighting for dominance in his brain
                                             cells, still trying to make sense of what happened in
                                             the bar.
                                             Mulder lamented over each step, how when he was at
                                             Oxford he'd spent many a happy Saturday night downing
                                             copious amounts of the local laughing water, and how
                                             `warm fuzzy vacation Scully' had turned into
                                             `spoilsport Scully'. His legs were starting to
                                             protest now at the relentless climb. He almost missed
                                             her squeezing his ass on the way up.
                                             Scully was delighted at the renaissance décor in the
                                             room. Mulder commented that the wallpaper looked like
                                             one of his mom's old beach dresses. He loved the look
                                             of the huge king sized bed, the antique pine
                                             furniture. The open fire from downstairs continued up
                                             into their room. The bed felt like lying on a big
                                             fluffy cloud. Much to Scully's chagrin, Mulder threw
                                             himself down and bounced on it a bit, delighted that
                                             the springs were sturdy and didn't creak like some of
                                             the other places they stayed in. He leered at her
                                             bemused expression until she laughed. No mistaking
                                             what he was thinking. They'd christened each
                                             guesthouse, pub and hotel on their travels. Mulder
                                             pondered on writing a tour guide in a moment of post
                                             coital glee.
                                             Mulder soon dozed off. He still tired quickly and
                                             sometimes it was easy to forget that. He needed time
                                             to build up his stamina again. She'd take the
                                             opportunity to have a long soak while he slept.
                                             Scully undressed him, tucking him under the covers,
                                             pausing to watch as he turned in his sleep,
                                             uncovering his bare chest that spoke volumes of the
                                             hell it had been through. A runway map of pain that
                                             had only just begun to fade. He still looked
                                             beautiful despite all the new scars from the
                                             intensive care and surgeries. They didn't look angry
                                             any more, just sad.
                                             Scully relaxed in a haven of scented steam and
                                             candlelight, sighing in contentment in the big claw
                                             foot bath. This holiday had been a huge success and
                                             for Mulder, just what the doctor ordered.
                                             Was it only 12 short weeks ago he lay in a coma in
                                             Colorado, unable to breath on his own? Hooked up to
                                             more machines than she'd ever as a doctor, seen
                                             anyone's body play host to?
                                             His body broken like an egg after a drunk driver hit
                                             his car on a lonely road, catapulting him through the
                                             windshield and leaving him bleeding out in a part of
                                             the Grand Canyon that no tourist usually saw. She
                                             remembered his horrified face as he came round to
                                             find metal where there had been bone. Fixators that
                                             protruded through his already abused skin like
                                             frightening Meccano creations that held together his
                                             legs and hips because they were now in two dozen
                                             crazy pieces instead of how nature intended.
                                             He hyperventilated during the few times that
                                             amputation was brought up. Fortunately that hadn't
                                             happened, Mulder's amazing recuperative powers, and
                                             the prayers of those who loved him saving the day. He
                                             got to keep his legs but he would never walk again
                                             with out a limp, or some kind of walking aid, not to
                                             mention constant pain, possible blackouts.
                                             The real blow that scared Dana Scully for him more
                                             than anything was the inevitable loss of field
                                             status. Since taking his first unaided breath, she'd
                                             harbored the fear that they could discharge him
                                             altogether. He wasn't going to fully recover, neither
                                             would he be chasing anymore Reticulans anytime soon,
                                             but it was quite something else to hear it confirmed
                                             that they were suspending the X files indefinitely,
                                             pending the medical review and Mulder's recovery.
                                             She'd feared for Mulder's spirit; his driving passion
                                             and beautiful mind would break all over again like
                                             his bones, something that could never heal. She
                                             wasn't fooled by the dispassionate stare he gave
                                             Skinner as he delivered the final nail to her lover's
                                             heart, and hers by proxy.
                                             As soon as the bureau knew of his condition, the
                                             metal work he was now sporting inside his shattered
                                             body, they were ready to shove him all the way out
                                             the door. Here's your pension, so sorry Spooky, have
                                             a nice life.
                                             The pain in Skinner eyes told of his own sorrow at
                                             the decision, but also spoke volumes of how he felt
                                             about the higher echelons viewing this as a
                                             convenient excuse to rid themselves of their Maverick
                                             agent once and for all. The medical hearing was a
                                             flimsy hoodwink for due process, but Mulder and
                                             Scully had mentally packed up the office and moved
                                             out in the part of their minds that had already begun
                                             to reluctantly accept defeat.
                                             Only the Gunmen, her mother, and Scully's own
                                             unfailing love had stopped him from finding a more
                                             permanent career resolution as Mulder spiraled into
                                             clinical depression. God bless Frohike's idea.
                                             She almost drowned herself when the muffled shriek
                                             from the bedroom hit her.
                                             Scully flew through the door dripping, towel clutched
                                             to her body to find the bed empty. Her panicked eyes
                                             soon fell on the naked back of the man she loved and
                                             she sucked in a deep breath. He was leaning white
                                             knuckled against the windowsill. The window was wide-
                                             open, full moon casting him with an ethereal glow.
                                             Mulder seemed to be in a trance. She put a wet hand
                                             out to touch him, calling his name softly so not to
                                             scare him.
                                             "Mulder? What was it, a nightmare?" His heart raced
                                             against her hand on his back. He kept staring at the
                                             courtyard outside.
                                             "There was a girl, Scully, Did you see her?"
                                             "Not one you smuggled in while I was in the bath I
                                             hope," She chuckled, fingers tickling him. It was
                                             then he trembled. He was bone cold. He wasn't
                                             laughing, his eyes held a far away quality.
                                             "A little girl. She... She was in here..."
                                             " What? Look Mulder, you've had a long day. You're
                                             freezing, come back to bed. It was a nightmare that's
                                             all. The atmosphere, our location...no wonder you
                                             dreamed." She was rubbing his hands now trying to get
                                             warmth into them. He turned, pupils dilating wildly
                                             like he'd just had a shock or seen a gh..?" No. She
                                             shrugged that notion aside trying gently to pull him
                                             from the window. He wouldn't budge.
                                             " She wasn't a dream, she was real. It wasn't some
                                             psychosomatic trace memory either, she was here.
                                             Believe me, Scully. She was in here. ...I ...I woke
                                             up and she was sitting on my chest." Fingers rubbed
                                             at his sternum, as if he were trying to erase the
                                             sensation, frowning when he found the staples the
                                             thoracic surgeon had put in.
                                             "...Mulder, there's no one here, just me. Come back
                                             to bed. You'll catch pneumonia." He was beginning to
                                             scare her now. Her hands soothed against his skin to
                                             calm him. "Mulder? Please? C'mon sweetheart. Ghost
                                             hunt's tomorrow, partner."
                                             "I'm not imagining things. I can see her outside. She
                                             was here. She spoke to me." Why couldn't Scully see
                                             "What did she say?" Scully squinted past his shoulder
                                             trying to see what he was still staring at below. A
                                             cow mooed in the distance and a flock of geese flew
                                             across the full moon. Braying in noisy unison. No
                                             girl. He was silent for a few moments, still staring
                                             out into the night air. Goosebumps covered his bare
                                             skin, trying to hold back the shiver that passed
                                             through him.
                                             "She said she knew I was coming. She called me,..
                                             Fox. "  Mulder sought out Scully's eyes and she saw
                                             at once how alert he was, how much be believed what
                                             he'd seen. Oh God!
                                             ".. Samantha?"
                                             "No, not Samantha, Scully. She was a blond, about 6
                                             years old. She wants me to go with her. She wants to
                                             help. I have to see..."
                                             "If you think you're ditching me to go chasing around
                                             rural England in the night, half naked, we need to
                                             change your meds. Come on, come back to bed. And
                                             don't give me that look. You're not long back from
                                             circling the drain. You're frozen and I am too. " She
                                             reached over him to close the window, and pointed him
                                             towards the bed. He sighed as she gave him her famous
                                             look. Reluctantly he followed her, watching as she
                                             turned the bed down and got, still damp, into it.
                                             What the? His attention went to the object that he
                                             just stubbed his toe on. His eyes widened as he bent
                                             slowly to pull out whatever it was. Mulder let out a
                                             humorless laugh, whistling  "Twilight zone" as he
                                             produced a... ouija board.
                                             "Scully, did you ever see that film with Patrick
                                             Swayze and Whoopee Goldberg?"
                                             "Oh we are so not going to go there, Mulder."  She
                                             gave her patent Scully glare that quickly tuned into
                                             a coy smile. Her arm reached for him. "Mulder make me
                                             Mulder crawled awkwardly into his side of the bed and
                                             drew her to his body. Kissing all the cold spots he
                                             could find. Neither of them saw the ethereal
                                             lightshow or the blue luminous figure that bent over
                                             them after they drifted off to sleep. The frozen
                                             smile that didn't reach the obsidian eyes.
                                             "Sleep, broken Fox" She dissolved into a speck of pin
                                             light that moved slowly over the wall, and she
                                             vanished under the door.
                                             Mulder looked over the castle wall from the kitchens.
                                             Some of the cooking stacks were the original ones and
                                             stood majestically from the flagstone floor. He felt
                                             tiny looking up at them. A pinprick of light moved
                                             across the stonewalls and followed him as he wandered
                                             slowly around, leaning heavily on his cane. Scully
                                             was doing her own perusal of the 15th century
                                             architecture at the other end of the castle.
                                             The investigator in him had been drawn to the east
                                             side where the sheer drop had claimed several lives
                                             according to Doug at the Inn. The wind had picked up
                                             now; all the trees down below in the ravine were
                                             swaying in some slow motion dance. The clouds looked
                                             ominous too coming from the coast a few miles away. A
                                             child's laughter reached his ears suddenly and he
                                             swung round.
                                             His head snapped round and he tripped, the cane went
                                             flying and before he could stop himself, he felt a
                                             rush of air at his back and landed awkwardly against
                                             the stone bantry, fingers groping tightly for
                                             purchase. A rush of air left his lungs in a painful
                                             blast, his ribs connected with the hard surface.
                                             Heart pounding, he pushed himself backwards then felt
                                             the sickening sound of the rock cracking beneath his
                                             fingers like a demonic screech. Oh God, Scully. It
                                             was then he realized he couldn't see her. He just
                                             looked up in time to see a huge black cloud
                                             descending on him like a twister. There seemed to be
                                             a pair of black eyes at the heart of it that seem to
                                             lift him up and made him weightless. The fusion of
                                             wind, rain and leaves pounded against his body and
                                             his eyes noticed the stick flailing in the air
                                             against his legs.
                                             "Scully... " He got her name out once before
                                             something squeezed his lungs and found himself
                                             falling up and over the edge of the wall then sucked
                                             him into nothingness.
                                             Scully rounded the corner in time to see Mulder's
                                             abandoned stick hit the flagstones with a violent
                                             clatter. He was nowhere in sight as she spun around
                                             frantic. "No!!!!!"
                                             "Oh my God, Mulder,!!!! Mulderrrr. She could hardly
                                             bear to look over the wall where it had fallen away
                                             in a huge chunk. Trying to hold onto her strength as
                                             her legs threaten to buckle with weight of her grief.
                                             He had to be dead from that height. Please God no.
                                             Not her Mulder.
                                             Several other people and the castle warden ran over
                                             to her hearing her horrified cries, several grabbed
                                             her gasping body to stop her falling over the edge
                                             with the masonry that littered the valley below the
                                             wall. There was no body. The clouds that had glowered
                                             so ominously before had vanished along with Mulder.
                                             Somewhere on the peripheral of his consciousness, he
                                             became aware that something was licking his hand. His
                                             eyes opened onto two sharp brown ones that studied
                                             him with great interest. It took him several seconds
                                             to register it as a fox. It shied away, limping as
                                             Mulder sat up testing his limbs to see if they still
                                             functioned, head swimming in cotton. It couldn't be
                                             the same one he saw earlier, could it? Surely it
                                             wouldn't have made it this far. The Fox took one look
                                             back at him and vanished into the woods that bordered
                                             the meadow. Mulder looked around. He was under a
                                             blackened tree by a lake with a mill at the other
                                             side of the reeds. The seasons seemed to have
                                             changed. It looked like late May. The sun was all
                                             "Hello" Mulder startled at the little girl's voice.
                                             "You...you came to me last night. Where am I? Where's
                                             "Is she your love?" The child's English accent
                                             sounded like birdsong. Mulder nodded. Watching as the
                                             Fox came back into view and tentatively came to the
                                             girl. " She will be fine." Mulder stifled a laugh at
                                             that. "You came here looking for answers. I knew you
                                             would come. You are Fox, just like my friend here. He
                                             told me."
                                             "What...where. How did I get here?" He vaguely
                                             remembered a wall giving way and falling. He was dead
                                             that was it. He pressed a hand to his chest. No. His
                                             heart still beat furiously against his fingertips.
                                             What the hell...
                                             "I'm Bethany., " she muttered as she stroked the
                                             fox's head, deep blue eyes like Scully's never
                                             leaving Mulder's. "I'm the keeper of the wishing
                                             tree. You had a wish."
                                             "Wishing tree?" he glanced back at the huge black
                                             skeleton behind him. "I don't have a wish, I need to
                                             find Scully. Bethany, where is this place, I was in
                                             Darkmere, the castle. How...how did I get here? Do
                                             you live around near here?"  His head was growing
                                             fuzzier by the second. He let his eyes wander over
                                             the lake, the solitary swan that swam there and the
                                             hot still air that made the water look like glass.
                                             "I died in there" Bethany said matter of factly as
                                             Mulder struggled for a breath; all air suddenly
                                             leaving his lungs. "My mother came to you, she did
                                             not want you to be well. It's all right, Fox, you are
                                             safe from her. You have too much love surrounding
                                             you. She killed me but she can't get to you. Not now.
                                             The Vortex brought you to me first."
                                             "What, what are you talking about," This child either
                                             had a vivid imagination for a kid so small or he hit
                                             his skull harder on the way down. Bethany suddenly
                                             pulled at his sleeve to get him up.
                                             "Come on Fox, I'll show you. What you seek is here.
                                             You came to Darkmere as a seeker. You have found what
                                             you seek and will go on seeking. Nothing can stop you
                                             now. You must walk around the wishing tree three
                                             times but you must not tell anyone about it. The fox
                                             knows. He is your spirit. He guided you to me. The
                                             dark haired girl who watches over you too. Come."
                                             "Wait, Bethany, I'm crippled, without my cane I can't
                                             walk so good." Amazingly he was able to get to his
                                             feet without difficulty.
                                             "Lean on the Fox and hold my hand, I'll help you
                                             walk. It won't hurt, I promise. Close your eyes.
                                             Remember to wish Fox, remember to wish... Tell no one
                                             ...Trust no one..............."
                                             A loud beeping sound cut into his consciousness like
                                             a sharp slap. Warm fingers felt for his, Voices that
                                             sounded strange floated over him until he grasped the
                                             one he wanted to find.
                                             "Mulder? Hey, sweetheart, it's okay now. I'm here."
                                             Tear laden blue eyes gazed hopefully into his when he
                                             opened them." There you are. God Mulder, what you put
                                             me through." She was trying very hard to summon up
                                             the famous Scully control but failing miserably.
                                             "Oh shit.... What...where?" Mulder swallowed over a
                                             dry throat. No ventilator. That was always a good
                                             sign. For a few seconds he thought he was back in
                                             Denver but the privacy curtains were flowery, some
                                             strange Laura Ashley print and they looked odd.
                                             England, his brain supplied, you're in England you
                                             jerk. He must have groaned by the look of worry on
                                             Scully's face. Fingers weaved through his hair.
                                             "Mulder. You're in Derriford hospital in Exeter. No
                                             one can explain what happened to you. We found you in
                                             the castle tower. You were unconscious and no one
                                             could wake you. RAF Culdrose airlifted you here."
                                             Scully's face told him that she was hiding something.
                                             Shit, the wall giving way, his fall over the side.
                                             The storm. Oh God!!!
                                             "Scully...am I ...paralyzed? The girl...." His breath
                                             "No...No Mulder. That's the oddest thing about this.
                                             You went over the wall, I was so certain. When I
                                             found your cane," She stopped for a moment, her words
                                             vanished, remembering the horrific shock of finding
                                             him gone and it all pointing to... She gained control
                                             quickly, looking back in his eyes, "I was sure.... so
                                             certain you'd been killed. Mulder, when you were
                                             brought in, they gave you a whole slew of X-rays.
                                             Nothing showed up."
                                             "I guess I must be rubber man, huh...I..."
                                             "No. You don't understand. Mulder, that's just it.
                                             NOTHING showed up. The pins, the plates in your hip,
                                             your legs, all of it are gone. Its like the bones
                                             were never broken."
                                             "What?" he pushed himself to a sitting position.
                                             "Mulder. You're a little anemic and you need to put
                                             on some weight but apart from that you're perfectly
                                             healthy. They're keeping you in overnight for obs,
                                             and that fox that led us to you... I am at a loss to
                                             find a logical answer, so if you have a better
                                             "It's vague, I remember a girl, the fox, and I must
                                             have banged my head or something. Sorry Scully, what
                                             can I say, it's a X file." His fingers wiped her
                                             tears away as she finally smiled at him. "So it's
                                             official. I'm no longer a Borg then. Going back
                                             through Heathrow will be a breeze, eh? What?" She
                                             gave him a wan smile.
                                             "Mulder. I called Skinner. In light of this er...new
                                             development in your health status, I faxed him your
                                             X-ray results and consultation from the doctors here.
                                             He called me back this morning....."
                                             "They are reopening the X files. They have no excuse
                                             to keep them closed now. They are waiting for us when
                                             we get back and the first case they want you to
                                             investigate is this one, so we get to stay a bit
                                             longer." The flood gates finally opened and they both
                                             wept with joy in his arms. Mulder smiled into her
                                             hair, breathing words of love, silently thanking
                                             whatever forces had brought this about.
                                             "Scully, I think I'd like it if you start calling me