6 Aug 1997

Title: Abah III: Alone in a Crowded Room
Author: Susan Proto
Category: Story, Angst, MSRish
Rating: PG13 for language
Spoilers: Through to Demons
Summary: A continuation of the story of Mulder's recuperation from a
serious illness, and how his family and friends help him deal with it, as
seen through his own eyes.

Archive: Yes

Disclaimer: these characters belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. Since these bouts of delusions of grandeur have apparently
become a chronic condition, I continue to think I might know what I'm
doing, so I'm borrowing them. I promise I won't keep them (unless Mr.
Carter would like me to) and I will give them back at the end of the
story. Honest I promise. Believe me.(or you could believe the lie? ;->)

Introduction: This is the last in the series (when I started this, who
knew it would be a series??) of Abah stories, at least for now. Someday I may do a piece from Scully's perspective, but I think it needs to rest
now. If you haven't read the first two pieces, you might want to before
you read this one. It couldn't hurt, and would certainly fill in any plot holes you might read in Abah III.

I'd would be so delighted to hear from you. You were especially generous with my first piece; I didn't hear from too many of you about Part 2, which kinda worries me, and now I'm putting myself out there in wide open range, with Part 3. Help me out here folks. Am I learning on the job, or should I have quit while I was ahead?? Please, let me know! Thanks in advance folks. I really do love to hear from you!!

Send any and all comments and constructive criticism to my e-mail address:

Abah III- Alone in a Crowded Room
by Susan Proto

I'm in a room full of people, and I feel so alone.

I'm scared.

They're letting me go home today. Scully figures I'm ecstatic, `cause I never want to stay in the hospital.
But I'm scared. Oh God, I'm so scared, and I don't know how to let anyone know.

I'm scared to speak. I'm scared to walk. I'm scared...

Scully's busy talking to the doctors; doing what she does best in a
crisis. She's taking control of the situation. She's writing down all
doctors' instructions. The medications, the hearing tests, the
neurological tests, the therapy sessions. She is writing and listening,
and then writing some more.

Mom's engaged in an animated discussion with Margaret Scully. I know
what they're talking about. They were trying to include me in the
discussion earlier by writing everything down, but it just got too
tedious, so they started talking without writing anymore. It was just
easier, I guess. So I kinda know what they're talking about... my

Maggie Scully wants me to come stay at her house with Mom. She keeps
saying it would be easier for Mom to have help looking after me. Mom
doesn't want to impose, but Mrs. Scully is my "Mom away from Mom."
She'll win, and I will live with her until I can... can....can function
again. _If_ I can function again...

I get up from the chair quietly. I want to do this as unobtrusively as
possible. I want to do this by myself. But I begin to feel
lightheaded, and I'm losing my bearings as to where's up and where is
down. I sway, as I try to find my equilibrium, but I know I will
fall...again. And then he's there. Much like a stealth craft, he
appears quietly behind me and uprights me, so I am standing straight. I
feel his hands firmly on my waist, and they remain there until he is
sure that _I_ am sure.

I don't know how he knows, but he lets go at the right time and then
eases himself into the conversations of the others. They're completely
unaware as to what just happened. But he knows. I look at Skinner and
whisper a small hand sign, "thank you." He looks back at me and nods
his head slightly and smiles almost imperceptibly. But I know.

I know he realizes how frightened I am. He's known since the beginning.
I don't know how he did it, how he figured it out, but he's been
watching over me. He's been giving me the strength I need to get
through this. He's been slowly helping me to retake the sense of
control that I so desperately need to have, even if we both know it's
not for real yet. I called him "Abah." I don't know where the word
came from, but when I was so scared he came to me and held me as I
cried. He offered me a comfort I hadn't felt since I was a little boy,
and I thanked him. I said, *Thank you, Abah. Thank you.* And he said,
*You're welcome, Fox.*


"Fox, where are you going, dear?" Elizabeth Mulder asked her son.

Mulder didn't answer his mother, as he wasn't looking directly at her
and, therefore, wasn't even aware she was speaking to him. He was too
busy concentrating on standing upright. He looked around the room,
searching for the walker that would enable him to move about with some
semblance of stability.

"Fox?" Elizabeth walked over to him and, to get his attention, touched
him on the shoulder. Whatever precarious balance Mulder had been able
to manage was just lost by that innocent touch. He began to tilt and
fall toward his right. "Oh God, Fox!" his mother cried.

Mulder found himself on the floor, once again unsure as to where he was
in space. He placed both of his hands in front of him in an attempt to
orient himself, but he just couldn't do it. He was too busy feeling
nauseous. Elizabeth went to reach for him to assist him in getting up.

"NO!" he screamed. "No," he cried more softly. "Me."

Though Mulder's bout with meningitis apparently caused the deafness and
vertigo he was now experiencing, it did not affect his speech per se.
When he did speak, it was clear and intelligible. But Mulder couldn't
hear himself well at all, and he was afraid of sounding foolish,
abnormal. So he rarely spoke in anything more than monosyllables, and
usually relied on hand gestures or the few signs and manual alphabet the
speech therapist taught him as a temporary communication system.

Dana looked over at Mulder. She so wanted to go over and put her arms
around him and just hold him until this whole thing was over with. The
doctors were fairly certain that Mulder was suffering from
Labyrinthitis, an infection of the inner ear. They were also pretty
sure that once the antibiotics did their job, his hearing and balance
problems would improve as well. But right now he looked totally
helpless. The meningitis was leaving its mark in both his physical and
mental well-being, and she just wanted to protect him from the world.
She also knew better. She looked at Elizabeth and shook her head,

Elizabeth stepped back. She realized her son was feeling frustrated and
angry. She also knew he was frightened, but she was unsure as to how
best to reach out to him. It had been so long, so long, since she
mothered him, and now she wasn't sure if she would be able to do it, or
if he would even let her.

Maggie Scully watched Elizabeth hesitate. She realized Dana was right,
Fox needed to feel he could do for himself. Yet she also knew how
Elizabeth must feel. How many times did she, herself, feel that sense
of helplessness, as when Melissa lay dying from the gunshot wound, or
when Dana's been dealing with her cancer treatments by throwing up her
guts every fifteen minutes.

Maggie knew how much she wanted to help _her_ daughters, but she also
knew that there were some things beyond her capabilities, or her duties.
Sometimes the child has to take whatever control is available to her
whenever she can, even when it hurts to watch her do so. Maggie reached
out to Elizabeth and gently pulled her back.


I have to get up. Oh God, please, let me be able to get up this time.
My head hurts. I'm so nauseous. I want to throw up. Damn it, I have
to take a whiz and I can't figure out how to get up off the damned

Damn it. Damn it.

He's standing over me. He's not touching me. He's just standing there.
He brought the walker over and is holding it firmly so it's stable. I
grope for it and wonder if it's worth it. Why don't I just say, `help

Because I know he won't. I mean I know he is, already. He's letting me
see that I can help myself, and he won't pick me up. Not now. Not when
I told everyone I needed to do it by myself. But I wish I hadn't. I'm
scared. I don't think I can do this. I look around for a moment and
see everyone is looking at me, staring at me. I look down. I can't
watch them watching me. I can't watch them watching me if I fail. And
I am so afraid I'll fail. I feel like I am going to throw up.

Skinner rocks the walker in front of my eyes to remind me it's still
there. I look up at him and try to orient myself. He's watching me
with such a fierce determination. He has a faith in me that I lack in
myself. He knows. _He_ knows.

I'm afraid as I reach out for the walker, but I feel the tightness of
the grip he has on it, so that I may feel secure in its stability. I
put both hands on the legs and pull myself to a kneeling position. I
raise my hands to the handles and slowly pull myself up. I feel like I
may stumble as I go through yet another wave of nausea, but eventually,
I'm standing. I'm actually standing, holding onto the walker for dear
life, but I'm standing. I'm actually vertical.

Everyone starts whooping and hollering around me. I look and see my mom
and Maggie and Scully laughing and clapping. Even the doctors that are
in the room join in the ruckus. But the mute sounds are like an
assault. I see the celebration, but I cannot hear it. I want to hear
it. God, I want to hear it.

I look away. I don't deserve this. All I did was get up from the
fucking floor, and now I want to die, because everyone thinks this is
the equivalent to getting the Nobel Peace Prize. I just got up off of
the fucking floor, damn it! And I can't hear you anyway. I can't hear
you..I feel my eyes start to well up. I don't want to give into the
tears, not again. God, I'm so tired of feeling so sad all the time.

Then I see his fist shaking, murmuring a silent sign. I close my eyes
tightly for a moment and blink back the tears. I look over at him and
see his thumb is locked between his index and middle fingers, gently
shaking the letter "T" at me. I nod my head in affirmation, and I see
Skinner speak.

"Okay folks, clear a path." He's got a slight smile on his face. "Our
boy here needs to make a trek to the `twa-let'." I watch everyone step
off to the side; I feel like Moses parting the red sea, and I look at
Skinner and feel as though God has made it all possible. I have to take
a leak so badly. I shuffle towards the bathroom, too damned slowly.

Skinner follows me into the room and closes the door. I don't know what
I'm going to do when I go to Maggie's house. I don't think I could
handle having her or my mom come into the bathroom with me. I know I
have to do this by myself. I keep one hand on the walker, and grope the
top of my sweat pants with my other hand. I feel dizzy, so I've got to
grab onto the walker with both hands. Now I'm standing here with my
dick hanging out, and I know I should feel embarrassed with Skinner
standing there, but for some reason, I don't.

The dizziness passes and I let go with one hand, so I can position
myself to take the piss. God, what a simple pleasure it is, but it
feels so damned good to take a leak. When I'm finished, I pull my pants
up and lean toward the sink to wash up. I look in the mirror and see
him staring back at my reflection. "Okay?" he mouths. "Yes," I reply.
I look down, and then look up again. I want to tell him, *No! No, I'm
not okay. I'm afraid! I'm afraid, Abah.* But he's looking away, and I
lose my nerve to call out to him.

I push the door open with the walker and go sit down in the chair. My
suitcase is on the bed, and Dana finishes packing my clothes and
toiletries. I look at her and wonder what's going to become of us. I
know I love her. She loves me too, I mean she kissed me that day. In
front of everyone, even Skinner. So she must love me, right? Or maybe
she just loved the other Mulder, the one who could hear and walk more
than two feet without falling flat on his face. I wonder if she loves
me now, or if she's just feeling pity. I don't want her to have to deal
with a cripple. I want her to have a friend, a lover, a husband; not a
patient she feels needs to be nursemaid to for the rest of her life.

Margaret Scully drove Elizabeth Mulder and Walter Skinner back to her
house, while Dana took Mulder, his luggage, and his walker in her car.
Margaret's was the lead car, with Skinner sitting up front and Elizabeth
in the rear. Mulder looked ahead in the car in front of them, and then
looked at Scully.

"What?" she asked.

"Wha's goin' on with Skinner an' your mom?" Mulder asked.

Scully smiled. She hadn't heard him speak in sentences too often in the
last couple of weeks or so. It startled her to hear him no. Though his
speech was clear, he was getting lazy with some of his word endings.
The therapist said they would have to be vigilant about that, but since
he was so reluctant to speak in the first place, Scully decided a speech
session was the last thing he needed right now.

Mulder continued to look at her questioningly. Finally, Scully sighed
and said, "They've become friends since you got sick."

"Wha'?" he said.

Scully realized he didn't understand what she was saying, and it was
difficult to look at him directly so he could try to read her lips while
she was driving. The speech therapist encouraged her to learn some
sign language as well as the manual alphabet. At first she resisted,
feeling this would be kowtowing to Mulder's condition. She didn't want
to consider any other possibility other than it was a temporary
condition. But she also saw how frustrated and depressed he was
becoming at being unable to communicate with people, so she took the
time to learn the alphabet and a some common signs.

Scully signed the word `Mother' and spelled `Skinner'. She then dared
to take her hands off the steering wheel for a moment to sign the word
`friend' by crossing and interlocking her two index fingers together.

"When?" he asked.

"After you became sick," she replied verbally.


She made the sign for `sorry' and then pointed to him and quickly used
both her hands to make the sign for `sick.' "Oh," he replied,
understanding. "An' this is a goo' thing?" he asked with a very serious

"Why Fox Mulder, I think you're jealous," Scully said with a hint of a
smile on her face. She then pointed to him and finger spelled the word

Mulder returned her look with a small smile and said, "I though' I was
the only FBI man in your mom's life."

Scully shook her head as she chuckled out loud. Mulder wished he could
hear the laughter he saw on her face and in her eyes. Scully signed,

"Mom" then pointed to her heart and finger spelled the words `big' and
`both'. Mulder smiled when he realized what Scully was saying, and then
asked her, " Wha' abou' you? Does your hear' have room enough for two,

Just at that moment, Scully pulled into Maggie's driveway. She turned
towards Mulder and gave him her most beautiful smile. She held up her
thumb, her index finger, and her pinkie to create the shortcut sign for
`I love you." Next, she wrapped her middle finger around her index
finger and started to twirl it. "That means, `forever, and ever,'
Mulder." She finger spelled the word `forever' just to be certain that
he understood and he kissed her in response.

"Me too, Scully, me too."

Everyone was ecstatic to finally have Mulder out of the hospital.
Skinner was grabbing the Mulder suitcases out of the cars. Dana went to
set up the walker and Mrs. Mulder went to walk her son to the Scully
entrance. Maggie led the way up the steps to open the front door.
Smiling faces were had by all, except for Mulder, whose face blanched at
what was ahead of him.

Elizabeth Mulder saw her son become ghostly pale before her very eyes.
She watched the blood drain from his face the moment Maggie went to open
the front door. "Fox, what's wrong?"

Dana walked over when she heard Elizabeth, and immediately saw that
there was indeed something wrong with Mulder. He looked like death
warmed over.

She signed to him, "What wrong? You sick?"

Mulder just kept looking ahead of him, when Skinner came over. "Steps.
We forgot about the damned steps." The staircase up to Maggie's front
door was no more than ten steps, but they were somewhat steep, and in
Mulder's eyes, were the equivalent to Mount Everest.

Mulder was finally getting somewhat adept at moving around on flat
surfaces with the walker, but steps were a challenge he had yet to master.

In fact, Maggie planned for Fox to sleep in the first floor family room
on the castro. She bought new pillows, a new blanket, and enough linens
to keep him in clean sheets for weeks. In reality, Maggie prayed it
would be a short stay, but was prepared for Fox to stay as long as he
needed her.

And now Maggie looked down towards Fox and realized the dilemma. "I
forgot about the front steps. The back entrance is even worse with the
steps up to the deck. Maybe we can have a ramp put in?" she asked

"Common Mulder. Let's get you inside," said Skinner. He gently took
the younger man's chin in his hand to direct his eyes to look at him.
"It's okay, Fox. It's okay." Skinner then pointed to the walker Scully
had set up and Mulder stood to retrieve it. He managed to walk along the
driveway to the end of the walkway and the first step.

"Scully, you take the walker and bring it up the stairs. Elizabeth and
I will assist Fox," he said. Elizabeth Mulder was so grateful to
finally be of some use, she asked Walter Skinner what she should do.
"Walk along side of him with your arm extended out from your elbow.
Keep it stiff, so he can hold onto you for balance if he needs to. I'm
going to walk behind him with my hands near his waist in case he needs
some more support, while he holds onto the banister with his right

Scully and Maggie watched together as their love and "adopted" son,
respectively, began the tortuous ascent up the stairs. Skinner was
trying so hard to keep from physically supporting Mulder around the
waist, but it was obvious the lack of experience in walking up and down
steps was making this a petrifying climb for the young agent. His grasp
on his mother's arm was probably becoming painful for her. Skinner
finally realized he had to hold on tightly to Mulder's waist, and the
climb was finished a short time later.

Once Mulder retreated inside the Scully house, the color began to flow
back to his face, and everyone began to breathe a little easier. Maggie
led everyone into the family room, where Fox would set up house, and
told everyone that lunch would be out in a little while and to make
themselves at home. Skinner asked if he could be of any help, and with
a smile that was a cross between grateful and demure, Maggie said yes.

Elizabeth, Dana, and Fox were left on their own in the den. Elizabeth
wasn't sure if she should talk with Dana, knowing it would be difficult
for Fox to understand what was being said, or if she should remain
quiet. Dana solved the dilemma for her and began to speak.

"I'm so glad you're going to stay here while Mulder recuperates," she

"It's so kind of your mom to open her home up to us like this,"
Elizabeth replied.

"Mom thinks of Mulder as one of her own. I mean, with my brothers away
all the time, she just kind of adopted her as another son... I mean with
you living in Connecticut, and not being nearby, and... I'm sorry. This
isn't coming out right, is it?" Dana felt her face turning red in

"No, Dana. You said it perfectly right. I'm not nearby, so I'm not
always there for Fox when he needs me." Elizabeth had a very pensive
look on her face, and then, as tears began to well up, she said, " Even
when I was nearby, I wasn't _there_ for Fox. Oh Dana, it's been a very
long time since I was a proper mother to him. I suspect Maggie is more
of a mom to him that I could ever be." At that, she sighed deeply and
tears did begin to trickle down her cheeks.


Oh God, why is she crying?

What's wrong, Mom? Have I done something to make you sad?

I'm sorry, Mom. What have I done? Mom, why are your crying? I'm
sorry, Mommy. I'm sorry. I don't want to be sick. I'll try to get
well, Mommy, I promise. I'm sorry. Don't cry, Mommy. Please don't
cry. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry... I didn't mean to make her cry, really,
I didn't. Daddy, don't get mad, please don't get mad at me.. Daddy?
Daddy, don't.. please, Daddy, don't! I'm sorry, Daddy, don't hit me,
don't hit me!! Daddy, please!! I'm sorry.. I'm sorry... I'm
sorry...Don't!!!! Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm,
Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm.


"Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm,
Mmmmm, Mmmmm," Mulder hummed over and over and over in a monotone
melody. Dana and Elizabeth turned to look at Fox at the same time. Dana
was startled to see him hugging his knees and rocking himself back and
forth in time to his repetitive lyric. However, Elizabeth didn't just
look startled; she look stunned. "Oh my God, it's happening again. Oh
God, not again..."

"Elizabeth, what are you talking about?" Dana asked anxiously.

"After Sam...after she was taken, we found him rocking back and forth.
He just kept rocking and humming, and then," Elizabeth gasped in the
memory, "when the ambulance was ready to take him to the hospital, to
treat him for the shock, that's when he went into the catatonic state."

"Mom! Walter!" Scully cried out urgently. "Mom! Mom! Walter!"
The couple came running in from the kitchen. "What's happen__?" Maggie
began to ask, but stopped as soon as she saw Fox. "Walter?" she asked

"What the hell happened in here?" Skinner said in a tone all too

Dana realized that the AD was every bit as frightened as she was, and
knew the accusatory tone was a defense against the fear. However,
Elizabeth didn't know Assistant Director Walter Skinner that well, and
she didn't want her to be made to feel guilty by his presumptive air.

"Sir, I'm not sure. Elizabeth and I were speaking quietly." And then
Scully continued in the only way she knew how to deal with a new crisis,
she went into doctor mode. "I heard Mulder begin to vocalize and when I
looked over I observed him making perseverative rocking motions and making repetitive humming sounds."

"He saw me cry." Elizabeth said it so quietly, she almost wasn't heard.

"He saw you cry?" he echoed.

"We were discussing my thirty plus years lapse in mothering skills,
Walter," she said with a hint of steel in her voice, "so I started to get teary. He must have seen me cry." Then in a softer tone, "He saw me cry last time too. My baby boy never could deal with it when any of the Mulder women cried."

"Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm," Fox continued
to hum the tuneless song. He continued to hug his knees, and bowed his
head down in order to make himself into a tight, little, ball.

"Mulder! Mulder! Don't do this! Please don't do this!" Scully
exhorted her partner, yet at the same time she was afraid to touch him.
She just didn't know how he would react, and was fearful contact might
trigger an even deeper psychosis. "Oh God, we're losing him, aren't
we? Sir?"

She looked at Walter Skinner for answers to a problem that was over
thirty years old. "Sir, we have to do something. We're losing him...."

Abah? Abah, where are you? I'm afraid, Abah... I think Daddy's mad at
me again. I made Mommy cry. I didn't mean to make her cry, but Daddy's
gonna get mad anyway... He always does... Abah? Abah, please? I need
you Abah.. Please..

*I'm here, Fox. You know I'm always here for you. Just like the last
time, remember? I'm here for you, son. You know I would never leave
you. I love you, Fox. I'm here. Come to me, Fox. You'll be safe with
me... Come to me, son.*

Abah, I don't see you... I can hear you, but I can't see you.. Why can
I hear you? Abah? Where are you? I'm afraid, Daddy's gonna be so mad
at me for making mommy cry. Abah, help me..


Fox's rocking became less frenetic, but continued in a rhythmic motion.
He continued humming, but interspersed between the monotonous tune were
a mumbling of words.. " `bah? `bah? `fraid... sorry.... Daddy, I
sorry.... Mmmmm, Mmmmm...no hi', p'ease don' hi'... Mmmmm,
Mmmmm,....mad....sorry.....ah...ah... Mmmmm, Mmmmm,.
....Abah....p'ease.. .he'p me, Abah.... sorry.....so sorry..... Mmmmm,
Mmmmm, Mm___."

Walter Skinner was no psychologist, but he could see what was happening.
Fox Mulder was trying to find a safe place to avoid reliving a trauma
from years past. He was searching for his Abah. Damn it, he thought.
I got him through the first time...

"Fox, I'm here." Skinner took the man by his shoulders and gently shook
him to try to break the rhythmic rocking. "Fox, look. Abah is here."
Skinner realized he faced two obstacles in helping Mulder gain his
foothold on reality. The first being, Mulder appeared to have already
withdrawn deep within himself. The second was having to deal with his
hearing loss.

Mulder couldn't hear anything more than muffled sounds. How would he
know Skinner was there to help him? How could he reach him without

"Fox, how do I get through to you?"

"Hold him." Elizabeth Mulder looked straight at Skinner. "He can't
hear you, but he can feel your touch. Hold him, Walter. He needs to
feel your strength. I don't have any to give him."

Walter Skinner, on his knees, pulled the younger man gently off the
couch into his arms on the floor. Mulder remained in a ball, and
continued to rock in Skinner's arms. The AD just wrapped his arms
around him even tighter and began to rock with him. As he held him,
Skinner spoke directly into Mulder's ear.

"I'm here, Fox. Abah is here. Come back to us, Fox. Come back to
__me__!" he pleaded.


Abah? I think I hear you. No Abah, I can't go back.. Daddy's gonna hit
me. I don't want Daddy to hit me anymore.. I don't mean to make Mommy
cry, I'm sorry. Abah, please. I'm afraid to go back....I'm afraid.....

*You stay here with me, Fox. You know you're always safe with me. No
one can hurt you here. Stay here, don't go back. Don't go back.*

But I wanna see Mommy. And Sam, I gotta watch Sam.. Daddy'll be
nice.... I don't wanna stay in the dark, Abah. I'm afraid of the dark.
I think I gotta go back, Abah, come with me, Abah. Please, come with


"Fox, come back to me. Please, come back. We're all here, Fox.
Maggie's here, your mom is here. Your mom needs you, Fox. She loves
you and needs you. Fox, Scully's here! __She__ loves you, Mulder,
common! She __loves__ you!" Skinner continued to hug and rock and
speak to him. "Abah? Where are you?" Fox whispered.

"I'm here, Fox. I'm right here," Skinner responded and held him in an
even firmer clasp.

"I' scare' Abah."

"I know, but I'm here. We're all here for you, Mulder," he responded.

"Abah, he'p me. I' scare'."

"Oh Fox, don't be scared. We'll help you. We're all here. We all love

"Abah, I need you."

Skinner was desperate to reach him. He continued to speak into his ear
in a loud, firm voice, praying that he could get through to him. "Fox,
Abah loves you." He hesitated, but only for a moment, his voice choking
slightly, "I love you. Do you understand me? I love you, son."

Fox stopped rocking. He raised his hands so he could touch the arms
that enveloped him. He looked up, so tentatively, at the man in whose
arms he rested. He wanted to believe. He looked at Walter Skinner with
newly focused eyes. Then, in a voice that spoke of countless years of
defeat, he said, "You're no' Abah."

Skinner felt like he was attacked with a sucker punch to the gut. He
released Mulder as though he were being burned by the touch. He struggled to get up, and moved away from him as quickly as possible.

"Walter___" Maggie began. "Walter, wait." She watched Skinner move to
the other side of the room. "He doesn't mean anything by it."

"Bullshit. He means everything by it, and I'm an idiot."

"Walter, please," Maggie pleaded.

"Maggie, I'm sorry. I've got to go. Excuse me, I need to call a cab."
He walked back to the kitchen. Maggie followed.

Elizabeth Mulder looked at her son. The years of frustration and
sadness seemed to catch up to her at that very moment. "Fox, how could
you? How could you be so cruel to him?" Elizabeth's mouth was pinched
in anger, but the tears began to flow nevertheless.

Dana had walked over to Mulder and knelt by him, not touching him, just
staying nearby. "He can't hear what you're saying, Elizabeth. He can't
hear you.."

"Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm," Mulder began to hum and rock

"He's trying to disappear again," Elizabeth intoned.

"Disappear? I don't underst__" Dana said.

"___This isn't the first time. When he doesn't want to remember
something, or deal with something, he disappears into himself. He's
trying to do it now."

"Mulder? Mulder?" When Scully got no response, she took hold of his
shoulders and shook him, " Mulder! Mulder, look at me. Please, look at

He stopped humming and he stopped rocking. He looked at Scully right in
the eye. "Go `way. Jus' go `way."

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Maggie was trying desperately to get through
to Walter Skinner. She could see how hurt he was by Fox's reaction, but
she had to make him realize it was the illness talking, not the man who
he had grown so fond . "Walter, don't do this to yourself."

"Do what, Maggie? Think that I might have done some good by opening
myself up to someone? Think that I wouldn't ever feel betrayed by
feeling someone needed me? I can't do this again. I can't do this ever
again. What the hell made me think I could deal with this __shit__."

Maggie winced at the use of the profanity, but as the widow of a seaman,
she was not unfamiliar with salty language. And when the occasion
called for it, she was not shy about using it herself.

"You're dealing with this __shit__ because in that room is one your
best FBI agents. You're dealing with this __shit__ because in that
room is the other one of your best FBI agents. You're dealing with this
__shit__ because in that room are two people you care for very much.

"Walter Skinner, you have held your emotions in check for God knows how
many years, but all it took was one very needy young man to open your
heart up again. Though I'm not thrilled with the method, I thank God
for making it possible for you to feel again."

"I don't want to feel again." Walter turned away from her. "It hurts
too much."

"Then think how much __he's__ hurting, Walter. From the bits and pieces
Elizabeth has chosen to share with us, I can't imagine how Fox survived
this long." Maggie walked over to Walter and leaned into his back as
she wrapped her arms around his waist. "He still needs you. He doesn't
know it at the moment, but he still needs you." She squeezed a little
tighter. "I need you, you know."

Walter turned around to face he, all the while remaining in her arms.
"Maggie, I won't lie. I'm scared. I don't know if I remember how to
have a relationship with another person. It's been so long, I don't
know if I can."

"I'm scared too," she said tremulously. "It hasn't been so long for me.
I still remember it well enough for __both__ of us. I won't give up on
you so easily. Please, please, don't give up on me, or Fox and Dana."
At that Walter Skinner returned Maggie's embrace and rested his chin on
the top of head. They stood together like that for a few moments when
they heard a loud crash from the other room. They ran.

"Mulder!! NO! Stop, please!" Dana was crying out to her partner. He
was up on his feet, but just barely. Every time he tried to stand up
straight, the vertigo forced his body to sway and lose balance. He was
knocking into tables and lamps. At one point he grabbed onto a paper
weight on the desk and picked it up to throw it. That's when Scully had
started screaming.

Mulder looked up to see the terrified faces of his mother and his
partner. Scully was saying something, no probably shouting something, at
him. He looked in his hand and saw the paper weight. He hadn't
realized he picked it up. Mulder let it drop to the floor.

Skinner and Mrs. Scully arrived back in the den just in time to see
Mulder drop the paper weight. The room looked like a cyclone hit it. A
couple of chairs were overturned, the ceramic lamp was on the floor in
pieces, and the wall prints were askew. Elizabeth Mulder was trembling
in one corner while Dana stood in the other.

"He told me to go," Dana began to explain. "When I didn't move he got
up and ended up pushing me over, because he lost his balance. He must
have gotten scared...no, I __know__ he became frightened, but he didn't
know what to do. He just started trying to find a place to hide, I
guess, and tore the place up in the process."

Skinner looked over at him. Mulder was trembling and trying desperately
to follow the conversation, but it was obvious he was failing miserably.

"He hasn't a clue as to what anyone is saying. He's scared to death.
Leave him." Walter bent down and picked up some pieces of broken lamp.
"Let's just clean up this mess. Maybe he'll begin to feel less
threatened by us if we just leave him be for now."

The others joined in the clean up, while Mulder slid back down to the
floor. He was quietly rocking and humming softly to himself.

*I told you to stay with me. You need to stay with me, boy. Don't you
know your Abah knows what's best for you? Stay with me, Fox. Stay
with your Abah.*

I want to Abah... I want to. But I'm afraid. I'm so afraid.


Mulder opened his eyes and watched them moving purposely about the room.
His mother picked up an overturned chair, while Maggie straightened the
pictures on the wall. Skinner was tossing the shards of the broken
ceramic lamp in the wastebasket. Scully was sorting through his
suitcase, apparently searching for something specific, but what he
hadn't a clue. He crawled toward his walker which was near the couch.
He pulled himself up by the arm of the couch and reached for the walker.
He concentrated on his balance. Once he felt secure, he walked into the
bathroom. He was still very disoriented, and took a longer time in the
bathroom than he had realized.

When he came out the room was empty of other people. The convertible
sofa was opened and fresh linen were spread on the bed. Also, he saw a
glass of water and his pills on the end table. He recognized two of the
pills as antibiotics and the third as a valium. He swallowed the first
two, and considered the third. He left it on the table and laid down on
the bed. Sleep came much quicker than he thought possible.

"At least he got up to go to the bathroom. That's a good sign, isn't
it?" Elizabeth Mulder asked anxiously. "Of course it is, dear,"
responded Maggie. She looked towards Walter for support and received a
small nod of acknowledgment. She then focused on her daughter, and
wondered if she would be able to hold up under all of the stress.
"Dana, why don't you finish the sandwich and then go lay down for a
while. You look tired, sweetheart." "I am. I'm just going to check on
Mulder, and then maybe I will lay down for a bit." She got up and went
into the den.

He looked so peaceful while he slept. All the symptoms of his illness
disappeared under the guise of sleep. She noted the valium remained
untouched. That was Mulder for you. Never take a med that wasn't
absolutely necessary. She was tempted to go lay down next to him, but
decided that would be tempting the fates too much. She walked upstairs to her room to nap.


*I've come for you, Fox. You know it was always you we wanted. You
know that. It was your father who made us take Samantha instead of you.
But it was always you we wanted. Come with me now, Fox. We can make
all the pain go away. We love you Fox. Come-.*

Why me? Why? How? I remember, but I don't know how? Help me Abah. I
don't understand.

*Don't you remember hiding in the loft? Don't you remember me finding
you and Sam listening to our conversations. I teased you and said you
were a little spy. You remember that, don't you. You laughed when I
said that, Fox, you laughed.*

I laughed? But Sam was so scared. __I__ was so scared. No, Abah, I
didn't laugh. You didn't tease me... you yelled at me. Oh Abah, you
yelled at me...You scared us, and you made Mommy cry. Not me. __You!__
Why did you make Mommy cry, Abah?


Several hours passed and Maggie realized Mulder needed to be woken to
take his medication. She knew Dana was still asleep and refused to wake
her to administer them. "Fox needs to get his antibiotics," she said to
Walter and Elizabeth. "I'll be right back." "Maggie, please," Elizabeth
said, "let me do it. I don't feel as though I'm contributing anything
to his care, and he's __my__ son. Please, at least let me do this."

She walked into the den and eyed her sleeping son. Even in sleep, he
looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulder. That's when
she heard him start to cry out, "Why? Why.... cry?"

"Fox, shhh," she said as she gently rubbed his arm. "Sweetheart, wake
up, it's only a dream." Then, realizing her spoken words were useless
to him in his condition, she bent down and kissed him lightly on the
forehead. Mulder opened his eyes slowly. His eyes focused on the face
before him. He saw glistening eyes and a small, tentative smile.

"Mom? Wha's wrong?"

Shaking her head and smiling more broadly, she said, "Nothing's wrong.
You have to take your medication." She held up the pill bottles for him
to see.

"Oh." He sat up in the bed, and she handed him the three pills. He
looked at them and promptly handed back the valium. "No drugs. I can'
think with them." He dutifully swallowed the two antibiotics, took a
sip of water and handed the glass back to her. They sat together in the
quiet when Mulder broke the silence.

"Mommy__?" he said so softly.

Elizabeth Mulder startled slightly at hearing her son voice his
childhood name for her. She sat on the bed, at his side, waiting
patiently for what she was sure to follow.

"Mommy, who's Abah?" he whispered.

"Oh Fox," she sighed, "it's too hard to explain. You can't hear me."
She pointed to her own ear in an attempt to explain her dilemma.

"May I try to help?" Dana Scully had come downstairs from her nap, and
was silently watching mother and son from the hallway. Now, she came
forward and explained that she and Mulder were practicing their signing
for the last few days. "I might be able to help explain it to him. I
think it would help if he knew, Elizabeth."

"It's up to Fox." She looked at her son and pointed to Dana. Dana
said, "Do you want me to help sign what your mom is saying?" Though
Dana's signing ability was far from expert, she did manage to sign or
finger spell the essential words as she spoke. Mulder nodded yes.

"Abah," Elizabeth began, "was a friend."

It was difficult for her to speak of him. This was a path she had hoped
to avoid taking with her son. But when she saw the intensity with which
he watched her, she knew the time had come to share the truth with him.

While Elizabeth spoke, Scully worked hard to use the signs she could
remember and to finger spell the essential words to get the points
across. Mulder worked even harder trying to watch his mother speak and
Scully sign at the same time.

"Whose frien'?" he asked.

"Your father's. He was one of your father's best friends, and after a
time, he became a good friend to all of us. He was there when I, when
__we__ needed him."

"Mom? Was Abah my real father?" Mulder asked fearfully.

"No. Bill Mulder was your real father, Fox. Bill was your birth father."

Elizabeth gazed straight into Mulder's eyes. She did not want there to be a single doubt in his mind as to his parentage.

"Okay, bu'...Mommy? Di' he love me? Di' he ever love me?" Mulder's
eyes welled up with tears. Scully turned her head. She didn't realize
how hard this was going to be to witness. Elizabeth took her son's
hands into hers.

"Fox, he loved you, in his own way. Sweetheart, it was difficult for
him. His job consumed him. They took any idea of family away from him,
Fox. I always thought they took his soul away when they did that to

"He didn't ever expect to be a father, since he was always traveling
with his job. His work was very important to him, and he didn't think
it would be fair to try to raise a child too. But he tried his best to
be a father to you. He just wasn't always sure how." Elizabeth tried
to be as gentle with the truth as she could.

"So, I was a surprise," he said rhetorically.

"Yes, I guess you could say that." Elizabeth had a very big grin on her
face. "But you were the __best__ surprise I could have ever imagined.
Fox, I wanted you __very, very__ much."

He looked back at his mom, and smiled. He wanted her to know he
believed her, but there was still something he was confused about. "Bu'
I don' understan' abou' Abah. I don' understan' wha' he was to me."

"Abah was the father your own father couldn't be." Scully took her time
in translating this statement. She wanted to make sure Mulder
understood it completely before she continued.

"So, _he_ loved me?" Mulder asked in a small, childlike voice.

"Yes, Fox, with all of his heart. He loved you very much. He was there
when you needed him. In fact, when I first came to the hospital, and
you were still in the coma from the meningitis, I couldn't believe it
when I saw Walter Skinner in bed with you, holding you in order to
comfort you." She smiled slightly and shook her head as she was

"When I woke up, I was pretty surprise' too," retorted Mulder. Scully
noticed he had a slight, wry smile on his face too.

"Yes, well, it was for very similar reasons that Abah crawled into bed
with you. You were around four years old, Samantha was a newborn, and I
was breast feeding her for what seemed like every hour on the hour.
Bill was away on business, but Abah didn't go with him this time. So,
Abah was visiting when you started complaining about a headache.

"I felt your head, and you were burning up. Of course, you tended to
spike a fever any way, so I wasn't panicking, at least not yet. When I
went to take your temperature, that's when I noticed the rash. You were
spiking a fever of 106 degrees, and you were having febrile seizures.
Samantha was crying to be fed and I was about to have a nervous
breakdown." She paused for a moment so Dana could catch up with the

"Wha' was wrong with me?" he asked.

"Scarlet Fever. You had the rash around your neck and chest when I
called the doctor. He said he would be right over, but he was pretty
sure it was Scarlet Fever, and it was. The doctor prescribed
antibiotics right away, but you were still a pretty sick little boy for
a few days. You moaned and groaned so much... and that's when Abah
finally gave up and crawled into bed with you. He held you up against
him and wrapped his arms around you, just like Walter did for you. I
couldn't believe it." She actually chuckled at the memory.

"Wha's so funny?"

"Don't you think seeing an Assistant Director for the FBI in bed with
the one agent he considers to be his biggest pain in the ass funny?" she
asked laughing. Even Scully giggled out loud at this. Mulder just
smiled back.

His expression became serious again. "So, if Abah love' me, where di'
he go?"

Elizabeth's expression turned into a frown. "Your father told him to
leave and not to return. It was not Abah's decision, it was your

"Why di' Daddy tell him to go? What di' he do?"

"Fox, this is so hard__" she hesitated.

"He wasn' my real dad, but he was Sam's, wasn' he?" Fox said. Elizabeth
looked at her son and wondered if he really wanted the truth. She
decided it was time, even if wasn't totally ready for it.

"Yes, Fox. Abah was Samantha's real father."

"Did they all know? Did everyone know excep' me?" he asked with a hint
of agitation.

"Actually, none of us knew until the time Sammy fell off the tire swing
and broke her collarbone. Remember?" she asked, but already knowing he
did. When it came to Samantha, Fox remembered everything...except the
night of her abduction.

"Well," she continued, "the doctors thought she might need surgery so
they needed to cross and type her blood. They discovered Bill's blood
type and Sammy's were not compatible. Bill couldn't be her father. It
didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who the father was. Bill
was many things, but he was not stupid."

"Tha's when Daddy tol' Abah to go?"

"No... it wasn't. Bill made it clear that he didn't want Abah near the
house when he was home, but he still came around the house when Bill was
away on business."

"What? I don' understan'. Scully, help, I don't___" he pleaded.

Scully took his hand and looked at him. She wanted him to try to calm
down, as she realized this whole conversation was extremely stressful
for both Mulders. Even she was feeling a bit lightheaded from it all.
Scully tried to take Mulder's pulse on the sly, but Mulder had too much

"I'm okay, Scully. Really, I can handle this. I have to know." He took
a deep breath and then smiled the first real, relaxed smile he had in a
long, long time. So, Scully tried her best to clarify Bill's acceptance
of Abah while Bill was not home.

"Okay," Mulder said, "but why di' Abah finally leave? Wha' happen'?"

This time Elizabeth took a deep breath. This was the part of the tale
she was most dreading, for she was going to have to admit some very hard
truths about herself to her son. "When your father decided it would be
Samantha and not you," she explained in a very, quiet voice.

"My father decide'? Why? An' why her, no' me?" he gasped.

"Your father was angry with him... with Abah.... and with me."

"It was suppose' to be me, wasn' it?" he asked sadly.

Turning to Scully, Elizabeth looked at her and pleaded with her. "Dana,
you have to make sure he understands what I'm saying . You have to be
certain he understands exactly what I'm trying to say. Please, Dana,
promise me you'll make sure he understands everything I'm telling him.
Please." Scully nodded back at her, not sure she wanted to even hear
what Elizabeth had to say next, much less relay it to Mulder.

"Yes, Fox. It was supposed to be you. We were told we had to have one
of our children participate in a special trial program that Bill and
Abah were in charge of. Though we were told it was mandatory for a
child to participate, we were given the choice of choosing which child."

"Daddy chose me?"

"No, Fox. __I__ chose you." Elizabeth's eyes started to brim with tears.

Scully looked at Fox and realized it wouldn't even be necessary for her
to translate Elizabeth's last words. He understood the words, he just
couldn't fathom the reasons behind them.

"Mommy? ...__you__ pick' me?" Tears freely flowed down his cheeks.
"Why, Mommy? Why me?" he sobbed.

"Oh baby, to save you," Elizabeth cried back as she reached to touch
him, to make some kind of physical contact with him, "I wanted to save

"I don't understan'. Save me from wha'?"

"From your father, Fox. I wanted to save you from your father."
Fox could only stare at his mother once he comprehended the magnitude of
what she was saying. "But he still bea' me."

"Yes, he beat you."

"Sam? Did he ever hur' Sama'tha?"

"No, Fox. He never hurt Sammy." Mulder let out his breath in relief.

"Soooo, __you__ chose me to go." Tears continued to fall.

"I knew Samantha would be safe around him. Maybe there was something
inside him that prevented him from wanting to harm a girl, or perhaps he
just chose to ignore her because he knew she wasn't his...

"Or maybe, he felt he needed to be extra strict with you, because you
__were__ his son. So he beat you to mold you into the kind of man he
thought you should become. I didn't know then, and I don't know now
what the real answers are, Fox. All I knew was I couldn't trust him
with you. I wanted you to be safe."

"But Sam was taken, no' me."

"Bill decided at the last minute to change the plan. I screamed at him
`My baby.not my baby!' but it didn't matter to him. And I was so afraid
for you Fox, because I knew I couldn't leave him."

"Bu' why, Mommy? Why didn' you jus' take us away from him?" he implored.

"__I__ was afraid. Fox, this was so many years ago. Your father knew
I was an adulteress. He threatened me with a child custody battle, and
he would have won. Times were different then, and the courts did not
take kindly to adulterers. He would have custody of you and Sam and no
one could have protected you!"

"But he hur' me, Mommy, he hiT me, and he hiT me, and he hiT me, over
and over again," he sobbed in painful recollection.

"I know, baby. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.." Elizabeth reached over
to embrace her son. She held him for a few minutes until he regained
some control. Finally, he leaned back against the pillows and looked at

"And Sammy's gone..." he mourned.

"No, Fox. One day she'll return to us. She'll come back. He promised," she declared.

"Who promise'?" he asked.

"Abah," she said simply.

"Mommy," Mulder hesitated. He didn't know if he would have the strength
to learn the answer to his next question. "Who is Abah?"

She looked into those beautiful hazel eyes that have seen so much pain
and sorrow. She didn't want to add to his suffering, but she knew her
next few words would do just that.

"Fox, his name was Jack. He said his last name was Stein, but, to be
honest, I don't think it was. I don't even know if his first name was
really Jack. But I do know he cared for me, at one time, very much. And
he was Samantha's father and adored her. And, Fox, he did love you."

"Oh God, Mom.. who is Jack Stein?" Mulder felt nauseous and wanted to
get into the bathroom now. Right now, because he __knew__ who Jack
Stein was......is...... He knows who Jack Stein is.

"Fox__," she began haltingly.

"_I hafta go to the bathroom. Now. Please, righ' now!" he cried out.

Water and Margaret were nearby listening and observing the dialogue.
Dana saw them sitting silently on the floor near the hallway entrance,
but said nothing. She felt it was important for them to hear the truth
from Elizabeth, but she didn't want either her or Mulder to be
discomforted by the extra ears in the room. However, at this point,
Walter realized Mulder was stressing out and needed a break. He
automatically scrambled to his feet.

Mulder glanced up, saw Skinner, and quickly looked away. He didn't know
what to say to him. After all, he had basically told Skinner to get
away from him, and now he didn't know how to react towards him. He was
so afraid to look him in the eyes. Mulder was so afraid of seeing the
rejection he, only a short time ago, offered Skinner.

"Common," Skinner said, offering his hand. When Mulder remained still,
Skinner made the sign for `help' and then pointed to him. Mulder than
suffered from a gag reflex, and Skinner quickly pulled him off the bed.
He wrapped one arm around his waist and grasped Mulder's arm around his
shoulder for support. He practically carried him into the bathroom.

Mulder knelt down, with Skinner's help, by the toilet. He felt himself
gagging, and then, finally, vomiting. Skinner kneeled down near him,
placing his hands on Mulder's forehead and chest for support, in case
Mulder got dizzy. Mulder grabbed the porcelain bowl with one hand and
Skinner's arm, that was across his chest, with the other. Eventually he
was reduced to dry heaving and then, eventually, that too stopped.

Skinner stood up and got Mulder a cool, wet washcloth. He offered it to
him, but Mulder's energy was so spent, he couldn't lift his arm up to
take it, much less wipe his face with it. Skinner sat down on the
bathroom floor in front of Mulder and began to gently wipe his face and
neck. Next, he stood up and filled a paper cup with some water. He
handed it to him and made the order, "Spit."

"Yes Sir," Mulder replied with fatigue but gratitude. He sipped,
swished, and spit. Skinner took the cup from him. "Thank you, Sir."
Skinner said, "You're welcome," and then gave him back the newly wet
washcloth. "Here, wipe your face."

As Mulder wiped his mouth, he saw his hand start to tremble. "Oh God-"

"What?" Skinner asked. "Mulder, what's wrong?" Skinner sat down on the
floor across from him.

"I know who he is." Mulder turned several shades of alabaster as he


"I know who Jack Stein is," choked out Mulder.

"It doesn't matter," said Skinner.

"What do you mean it doesn't matter? Of course it matters," he said,
but with not nearly the energy or conviction he might have had before
his illness.

"Mulder, your mom said she wasn't even sure if Jack Stein was his real
name. So what does it matter who Jack Stein is?"

"You know as well as I do I don't give a damn _who_ he is...It's
__what__ he is that makes me sick. God, I can __smell__ him even now!"
Mulder was shaking as he spoke.

Skinner reached out to him. "It doesn't matter now. He's a different
person now. Then was then, he was an important person in your life.
You needed him then, and he was there for you. What he's become does
not change what you meant to him or he meant to you back then."

"But how could I need, or want,...that son of a bitch!?!"

"You loved him," Walter replied gently.

"But he went away...," Mulder whispered. "He left me, like everything
else I love."

"Not everything. Fox, you've got your mom, who is trying so hard to
make amends. You know how hard this was for her, don't you?" Mulder
nodded in agreement.

There's also Maggie Scully." Skinner smiled broadly at this point, a
gesture that was not at all lost on the younger man. "You know that
woman loves you like you're her own flesh and blood. You damn well
better make an honest woman of __her__ and marry the daughter already!"
Skinner and Mulder both guffawed at the irony of this comment.

"And I know, once you've fully recovered, you're going to drive me crazy
by begging me to figure out a way to keep you and Scully partnered
together even though you'll be getting married." At this Mulder's
mouth gaped wide open, but then broke into his most beautiful smile, and
the laughter began anew.

When both men quieted down, Skinner opened his mouth to say something,
but stopped. He looked over at Mulder and cocked his head to one side
with an expression of puzzlement. "Ohmigod!" he said.

"What?" Mulder asked.

"Mulder, do you realize we've just had a rather long conversation?"

"Well, I know I've never been one of your favorite people to break bread
with, Sir, but___" Mulder stopped. He looked at Skinner. "Holy shit,"
he whispered.

Skinner replied just as softy, "You heard me. You can hear. Holy shit,
you can hear."

Mulder's entire body started to tremble. "Oh God, thank you" Mulder
drew his knees up and started to hug himself. The tears began to fall
unabashedly. Skinner moved closer to him and drew the younger man
towards him. He held him in his arms and gently rocked him for a few

Skinner rested his chin on the top of Mulder's head and said, "You know,
Mulder, there's one more person you haven't lost."


"Yeah. I'm not going anywhere," Skinner said.

"I know."

"I've kind of grown attached to you and these Scully women. Maybe one
day I'll even get to walk the bride down the aisle.." Skinner smiled
at the thought.

"I thought, maybe, you'd be my best man," Mulder replied seriously.

"I don't mind doing double duty. It wouldn't be the first time I saved
both yours and Scully's asses," chuckled Skinner. "Common, get up.
It's time to see what the women folk are doing."

Mulder looked up at Skinner in astonishment. "The women folk? Sir, if
you let Scully hear you say something like that, she'll shoot you too!"

"I bet she would, too!" He was laughing heartily now. He stood up and
offered Mulder his hands to pull up on. "How ya doing?" he asked as he
pulled him to his feet.

"Okay___ Whoa. I guess I'm still a little woozy. I think my balance is
still a little off." Mulder grabbed on to Skinner's arms to help steady

"All right, I've got ya." Skinner was getting ready to help him into
the next room when he suddenly felt Mulder's arms wrap around him
shoulders. He reciprocated and hugged Mulder around the waist. "I've
still got you, Fox. I promise, I've got you."

"I thought I lost him, but I didn't," Mulder murmured into Walter's neck.


"Abah...I thought I lost Abah, but I didn't."

"No, you won't ever lose me, Fox." He felt Mulder tremble slightly.

"I love you, Abah." He felt Skinner tremble slightly.

"I love you too, Son."

The End.

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