SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully confront the prospect of defeat, and
maybe something even worse.
This is a story told in fragments, but there _is_ a plot -
I've classified this as angst, but it's not my usual sort of
angst. It's more just sad, in a subdued sort of way.
I don't write romance, but relationshippers tell me I write UST,
so who knows?
FEEDBACK: Yes please. Private, public, whatever.
DISCLAIMER: Mulder and Scully are the property of Fox, 1013 and
Chris Carter, and I torture them without permission but with no
Red and white.
The colours of her nightmares. The colours that were etched on
her mind, burning through the darkness like some deadly acid,
gouts of scarlet splashing across the white expanse of memory.
Red and white.
Would she - _could_ she - ever forget? Could she ever _see_
again without the terrible after-image of the red staining the
scene, consuming its vitality? Would the other colours - those
other long-forgotten colours - fade to an eternal sepia slashed
Red on her vision, in her dreams, in her memory. Red and white
in the darkness of night - the darkness of....
Red and white and black. Blood in the snow and a raven's wing.
Hair black as the bird of death, skin white as snow, lips red as
the blood that wells from a pinprick on the finger. Prick your
finger, fall asleep for a hundred years, then be recalled to
Ever after. Happily ever after.
Voices spoke from a memory so distant it was at once part of her
present, her being. Voices warmed by the fire, soft with sugar.
Warmth of a bed, a teddy, an enfolding arm. Voices talking,
"Time to sleep now, Dana. You can have another story tomorrow.
A soft kiss. Fingers like feathers on her cheek. Warm fur as she
clutched her teddy close and dreamt of princesses and love and
the shivery warm sound of a "happy ever after" from her mother's
How long was forever?
"They're so.... beautiful, Scully."
His voice was as soft and as strong as the wind in the trees.
She'd thought his eyes were shut, but they were shining silver
in the starlight.
She shifted her position slightly, forcing strength into her
stiffened limbs, turning so she could see his face.
"The stars, Scully."
She moved again, following his gaze, feeling suddenly naked
beneath the thousands eyes that stared and stared and were
unmoved by what they saw.
"Living in the city...." She cleared her throat, wondering why,
even now, she felt tears rising to strangle her words. "Living
in the city, you forget about.... _this_...." She gestured with
a finger, too tired for any other movement.
"I don't." There was an almost wistful tone to his voice.
The long silence sparkled with the silver clouds of their breath
in the night air.
"There were stars there, Scully," he said at last. "In the place
I went to, after.... they found me in the desert. My father was
there, and Deep Throat. They were among the stars.... they
_were_ the stars." He reached out and touched her hand, although
he wasn't looking at her. "I wanted to stay with the stars, but
at the same time I wanted.... I wanted...."
His voice trailed into silence.
"I know, Mulder. I know." She squeezed his hand, feeling the
cold spark beneath her fingers. It was too late to keep secrets,
even from herself. "I dreamt.... I _saw_...."
And then he smiled - a true and proper smile, even though his
eyes were still shining with unshed tears. "I know, Scully."
"I was thinking of stories, Scully...."
Did the voices of childhood return just before the end, as the
spirit sought warmth and.... security? Good triumphant, evil
vanquished and happy-ever-afters?
"Shall I tell you a story, Scully?"
No wind now, just the sound of his voice and the silence of the
"It's about a girl who was in love with the stars. She wanted
nothing more than to play with them, for she thought they were
the most perfect silver balls to throw and juggle and look at.
Her parents gave her all the toys that money could buy, but did
she find any happiness in any of their soft fur, their intricate
paint, their cunning machinery?"
He paused, and Scully shook her head, willingly lapsing into the
still-remembered role of an entranced five-year old.
"No." Mulder smiled at her reaction, though his voice was
sombre. "She just cried and cried and found nothing but grief in
"Is that it?" Scully prompted into to long silence. "A sad
Mulder shook his head, as if recollecting himself. "So she
decided that if no-one else could get her the stars, she'd go
off to find them by herself."
"How? On the Starship Enterprise?" Scully didn't try to stifle
the giggle that came with that sudden image, knowing that Mulder
would be glad to see her smile, even if she was ruining the
atmosphere of his story.
Mulder shook his head, acknowledging her laugh with a small
smile. "No. She just walked, all by herself. And before long she
came to a mill dam. 'O mill dam,' she said, 'I'm looking for the
stars. Do you know where I can find them?' And the mill dam said
- don't laugh, Scully - the mill dam said 'Yes, I can help you
find them, for every night they come and bathe in my waters.
Come in, and you can bathe with them tonight and every night for
the rest of your life.'"
"Don't trust it!" Scully urged, still half in jest, although
something in the story was beginning to touch her. Stars in the
water.... a girl in the sky.... the lying tongues in memory,
promising everything, offering only grief and death.
"So the girl jumped into the mill dam and swam and swam until
her limbs grew weary and she could swim no more. As night fell
the stars _did_ come, but when she reached to touch them they
rippled into a thousand fragments and disappeared, until, at
last, sick at heart, she tried to reach the shore, but the water
reached out strong hands and would bind her to its depths."
Scully found she was holding her breath, caught up in his dream-
like voice and the stars and the untold meaning behind the
words. "Did she escape?" she asked, at last, soft as a whisper.
"Yes. She struggled and fought and put out all her strength, and
managed to pull herself onto the shore, where, exhausted and
freezing, she lay through a day until it was night again.... And
that is where the Good People found her."
"The Good People?"
"The Fair Folk. The fairies." He shook his head, smiling.
"Remember, Scully - these fairies weren't the little people that
man has made them in later years. They were a powerful people
who could grant a man his heart's desire, but also tear his soul
out with no more mercy than a wolf shows his prey. The girl knew
this, but her desire was such that it outweighed all caution,
and she asked them for help in finding the stars."
"And they gave her her heart's desire?"
Mulder shook his head. "They told her that the stars came every
night to dance with them, and that she could dance with them
that night and for as long as she lived."
"Dance...?" Some memory was stirring deep within her mind - some
other tale of those long-buried fireside voices.
"Yes. The girl had heard those stories too, and knew that those
who danced with the Good People would sometimes leave the dance
and find that a century had passed by in the space of one turn
around the ring, but the strength of her desire was such that
she knew she had to try. So she joined their ring, and danced
and danced until her limbs were weary and she could dance no
more, and the stars danced overhead but would not join the ring.
Then she pulled and pulled, and their eyes flashed fire as they
tried to hold her, but the stars beckoned with a strength that
was more than their music, and at last she broke free."
Neither of them was smiling now, and the images hung in the vast
emptiness of the sky, echoing the words of the story.
"And she found herself alone in a wilderness," he said at last.
"There were ruins where she knew there were farms, and weeds
strangled once-thriving fields of crops, and she knew now she
had no home, no family to return to. She was alone - alone
beneath the stars. And it seemed to her that the stars cast a
silver road down to her feet, and, as in a dream, she started to
climb it, but as she climbed she found her feet slipping and her
hands find no grip. But still she climbed, until she was
shivering with the cold and tears ran down her cheeks....
climbing and climbing, eyes fixed on the stars she would never
reach, even as her body descended into death."
The story ended, and Scully felt the cold slash of a tear on her
face, knew the truth that was shrouded in the images of fantasy.
"She lost everything, Scully, pursuing an impossible dream -
_everything_. Did _she_ realise, at the end.... when she was all
"Not alone, Mulder." She stoked his hand. "Not alone."
Who am I writing this for? Mom...? Skinner...? The police...?
Words speak on paper when there is no voice left to talk with.
Words give a meaning to experiences would otherwise disappear
without trace. Words speak across the years and share wisdom and
suffering, happiness and death.
How many millions of people have suffered and died, without the
power of words to tell us?
Oh God! I don't want to be one of those people.
Do you remember when you used to tell me stories, Mom? Mulder
told me a story earlier. It was a story about himself and it was
a story about everyone. It made me think. When we are in pain,
we think we are the only person ever to suffer quite like that,
but.... Nothing's new, Mom. Our lives are just other people's
stories, and other people's stories are our lives.
It takes a time like this to _think_....
God! I don't want to be forgotten, Mom. I want people to _know_.
I don't know if you'll read this. If you do, I know it will
upset you to know how I....
But wouldn't it be far worse _not_ to know?
So let me tell you a story....
"What do you.... honestly expect.... to find here.... Mulder?"
Scully's words came in quick bursts, punctuated by her gasps for
"Mul-der!" She stopped, leaning forward with her hands on her
knees, taking deep breaths to recover from the strenuous climb.
He'd walked a dozen paces before he stopped, frowning as he
turned into the wind. "Why have you stopped, Scully?"
She remained silent, refusing to shout into the wind, waiting
for him to retrace his steps back to her side before speaking.
"Was I going too fast, Scully?" His voice was suddenly soft and
concerned, as he reached out a gloved hand and pushed a strand
of hair from her eyes. "I'm sorry."
"Mulder!" She raised a hand, gesturing at their surroundings.
"You drag me out into the middle of nowhere, make me climb miles
up some godforsaken mountain, and...." She shook her head in
exasperation, suddenly at a loss as to why she was angry. It was
all so.... so _Mulder_. "I just need to know it won't be in
vain, Mulder. I need to know what we're doing here."
He touched her arm, and his eyes were rich as velvet. "It's
better that you don't know, Scully. Someone told me.... _gave_
me.... I.... Please just trust me on this, Scully."
"I _do_ trust you, Mulder." She returned his gaze, feeling the
vast wilderness fade away until nothing existed but his voice
and hers. "I do. But...."
"Thank you, Scully." He leant a little closer, his voice low and
intense. "I didn't tell you anything, and still you came with
me. I'm.... Thank you for.... everything."
She smiled, although something sent a shiver through her
thoughts. His tone.... It was so.... _final_. As if....
"You don't have to come with me, Scully. I'll understand...."
"Oh no, Mulder. You don't get rid of me that easily." Her
laughter shattered the tension that had pulsed in the chill air.
"I know what happens when you go off by yourself, and Skinner
would kill me if he has to sign yet another medical leave form
"Thank you, Scully." He touched her hand briefly, and his eyes
showed he understood the truth she was not quite ready to say.
I don't regret it, Mom. If I'd left him there, I could be....
I'd be warm.... safe.... There'd be people there - smiles....
voices.... I could talk to you. I could _see_ you again. I
But he'd be all alone, Mom. All alone.
And so would I....
"Is it _someone_? Are we looking for a person? Or is it
_something_? Is something buried here?"
Scully's voice was getting hoarse from shouting into the wind,
and aching with the frustration of being without answers.
"You don't have to tell me, Mulder. But I want to help. Just
tell me the _sort_ of thing we're looking for."
Could he hear her at all, over the wind? Certainly, he gave no
sign of hearing, staring into the distance as if he wanted to
scour the landscape to its bones with the force of his gaze.
"Mulder! I want to help!" She reached out to grab his shoulders,
turning him to face her, recoiling from the intensity she saw in
"I...." Mulder's mouth moved, but the voice was a tiny croak,
ravaged by the cold wind and emotion. "I...."
But his words were drowned out as the wind grew louder until it
was a roaring that drowned out everything else, and a black
shadow fell across the snow, almost knocking them from their
And then death rained from the sky....
It wasn't _him_, sir - the man who breathes smoke in the corner
of your office. It wasn't any of them that I've seen before.
I want you to....
God! I know we've _talked_ about this before. I know your
reasons. I know you have to go by the book. I know you have your
position to think of. I know you can't condone all that Mulder
does. I know... I know.... I know....
Oh God! I know what they said. I know what it will look like. No
blood on _their_ hands. No blame. No.... No _justice_.
I want them to have justice.
Boots crunching on the snow. Voice shouting in hatred. Guns.
Their voices were loud now - loud in her memory, making her pen
shake in her hand, drowning out the soft voices of childhood
Remember. Think. Remember....
"Do you remember, Mulder? Did you read it?"
He stirred slightly, his voice like the touch of a feather, so
soft it was barely there. "Yes. I remember."
Her father's voice, weaving through her memories. A large book,
well-worn, much-loved. A quest. A happy ending. But still....
Lying on the mountainside while the world erupted in flames
around them. No hope, no future, no chance of rescue, but....
'I'm glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things,
Side by side as the hosts of Mordor were swallowed by the flame,
knowing they were going to die, but happier than they had ever
been, since the whole quest began. The burden was gone. There
was nothing left to fight. Nothing to do but wait for death....
"I always thought 'The Lord of the Rings' was a tragedy,
She smiled then, eyes moist with her father's stories. "A
tragedy? But they win."
"No. They lose. That's the only way to win. Once the quest is
done, there's nothing left for them on earth - no joy....
nothing to aim for. So they have to leave. They get in a ship
and they sail away from the earth for ever."
"It's okay, Scully. For then they're content, for there's
nothing left to fight against, and they can rest."
Scully drew another breath to call again, but a strong hand
pushed down on the back of her head, and she choked, inhaling
Mulder! Mulder! Mulder!
His name, hammering in her head, as she struggled against the
arms that held her face-down in the snow - struggled to see what
they were doing to him.
"Where is it, Agent Mulder?" A voice on the wind, sharp as a
knife. "We know you have it."
A muffled thud. A cry of pain. A scream of anguish silent in her
"Look over there, Agent Mulder. _Look_."
She could hear him gasp, and imagined his head roughly jerked
around, vice-like hands forcing him immobile.
"We'll kill her...."
A click behind her head, and the cold hard metal of death
pressed into her skull.
Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!
His voice, her voice, her mind, their life....
"Then tell us." That hiss of death, cold, even bored.
"You have it _with_ you?" The man barked with laughter. "You
have it _with_ you? You don't deserve _anything_ in this game,
Agent Mulder. You're so.... You're just a little boy, playing
"Don't hurt her." The desperation in his voice made the tears
rise in her throat.
Another laugh. "Oh, we won't _kill_ either of you. I don't like
blood on my hands.... unnecessarily. No.... I have.... _other_
plans for you both...."
Oh God! A steel table. Knives. A bright light....
"Oh, don't flatter yourselves that you're important. My
predecessor.... he argued you needed to be kept alive. He said
you were important. But I found out he had.... _other_ reasons
for saying that - reasons not in the interests of the plan. But,
sadly, he is no longer with us." The voice dripped with sarcasm.
"Things are different now."
"What are you....?"
And then the world was filled with an explosion of noise. The
helicopter starting up. Shouts. Thuds. Feet pounding away past
her ears. A gun shot....
They _did_ kill him, sir. They killed _us_. Don't let them say
that they're innocent - that we died out in the snow, killed by
the cold and the wind.
_They_ killed us.
My ankle, swollen and useless from where they pushed me over
into the snow.
Red on white. Blood on the snow....
Oh, they knew what they were doing, sir. They shot him - not
enough to kill - not enough even to be dangerous anywhere else.
But we're not anywhere else. We're here.
And how can we walk away when I can't walk and Mulder's so cold
and weak from loss of blood that he can't....?
I've done all I can, Mom. There's nothing more I can do for him
- or for myself.
"The wolf's very close now, Scully."
There were tears in her eyes. "I thought you were .... asleep."
"He's coming. You told me about him. Remember?"
The book of legends found on the ship. The end of the world. The
slow blanketing of snow, and the wolf who swallowed the sun.
"But he didn't come then, Mulder. They found us. They may
"Not this time, Scully. He's here. I can hear him."
He's given up, Mom. Mulder's given up.
And you know what the really strange thing is? Somehow he seems
happier now - more at peace - than at any time since I knew him.
It's as if he doesn't have to fight any more. He doesn't have to
plan, to think, to worry about the future. The future's written,
and there's nothing he can do to change it. Nothing to think. No
And you know, Mom? I don't really care.
End of "Caradhras"
Caradhras (or Redhorn) is the mountain in "The Lord of the
Rings" on which our heroes so _nearly_ perish in the snow.
"The Lord of the Rings" belongs to, presumably, the Estate of
The Starship "Enterprise" belongs to.... I don't know.
Paramount? Gene Rodenberry's ghost? Whoever.
Mulder's story is a traditional English folk tale, called "The
Sky of Stars", though I've mangled it somewhat to suit my
purposes. That's the folk tradition for you.