At Times I Almost Dream (1/2)
by Wendy Shapard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reposting/Archiving: Yes, by all means,
as long as you use my name
Pleeease send feedback, either in private mail, or to FicTalk.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, or the X-Files.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so please don't sue me for
expressing my love for "The X Files" this way.
SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for "The Field Where I Died".
Rating: PG-13 for some historical bloodshed, and some kissing.
Content: MSR WARNING, but nothing graphic.
Classification: S with some A and some R.
Summary: Mulder has flashbacks of another life which make him
rethink some of his assumptions about past lives.
Thanks to Carol who bugged me to actually finish one of the stories
I've been 'working on.' Hope this one will do. :-)
Peter Cole stepped off the train at the Fairchance station in
Pennsylvania and tried to breathe in the scent of home. Instead, all he
got was a lung full of smoke from the train. Smoke which mingled in his
mind with the remembered stench of gunpowder and blood.
'Will anything ever be clean again?'
His eyes searched the landing and quickly found her, standing with
his parents as he had known she would be. He imagined that he could
smell her perfume from across the yards between them. He wanted to call
out to her, but filial obligations intervened.
"Peter!" his mother called out, eagerly rushing forward.
"Mother." He embraced her warmly, though his eyes did not stray
long from Hannah's. He felt that her gaze was as hungry as his, even
though she held back while he greeted his parents.
"How's your shoulder? Are you sure you're all right?" his mother
fussed, smoothing the wool of his coat over his right shoulder as if that
action would let her see through the material to his scars.
"I'm fine, Mother. I told you so in my letter, didn't I?" he
"Doesn't mean I can't worry. You know how you are. Even when you
were a little boy, you would never admit to being hurt or in pain. You
always said you were fine..."
"Leave the boy alone, Emma," Mr. Cole intrevened. "Anyone can see
he's healed up just fine."
"Father," Peter said, holding out his hand.
"Son. It's good to have you home," his father replied, grasping his
hand in a firm handshake.
'Is it, father?' he wanted to ask. 'Will you still think so when
you know the things that I have seen? The things I've done?' Instead,
he forced a bad impression of a smile and nodded. It was with relief
that he turned to Hannah's all-knowing eyes. The eyes that had always
seemed to know his secrets. The eyes that looked down into the darkness
of his soul and smiled at what they saw.
"Hannah," he said, searching her familiar features with his eyes.
"It was good of you to come."
He wanted to embrace her. He wanted to kneel at her feet and spill
his secrets into her hands. He wanted to hear her whisper that she
understood, that everything was going to be all right. He could believe
her; he always had.
Hannah smiled slyly at his awkward stance and then solved his
dilemma by throwing propriety to the wind and embracing him herself. His
arms enfolded her gratefully and, burying his face in her hair, he
inhaled her like a drowning man takes his last breath of air.
"Where else would I be?" she challenged him, then whispered: "I'm
glad you're home."
Peter squeeze her tight for a moment, then leaned back to feed his
eyes with her again.
"I'm glad to be home," he answered, and, standing with her in his
arms, he realized that he meant it. With her he was able to feel glad.
"Well," his mother sighed contentedly, breaking Peter out of his
reverie. He quickly dropped his arms from Hannah's shoulders and stepped
back to a respectable distance. "There's no reason to stand about here
in the cold when we could be getting home. Everyone's so eager to see
you, Peter, but I've managed to put the neighbors off until tonight so
you could clean up from the trip and get some rest. Come suppertime,
though, you'll have to be prepared to see every one in the county ready
to welcome you back home."
"You managed to put the neighbors off, did you?" he asked wryly,
hoisting his bag and sliding an irreverent look at Hannah as the four of
them turned their steps towards the carriage.
"Since when am I a mere neighbor?" she challenged with a grin as she
accepted his hand to climb into the back seat and made room for him next
to her. "Why I'm practically family."
"Well, she's stubborn enough to be a Cole, that's for certain," his
father drawled, inciting a half-laugh from his son.
"Maybe so," his mother tempered, casting a glance over her shoulder
at them, "but she's certainly earned the right to be here today. She's
spent all morning in the kitchen with me, making all your favorites for
tonight. And just in time, from the looks of you. Didn't they feed you
in the army?"
"Not as well as you, Mother." He grinned at the maternal concern,
and glanced at his friend. "So, you actually cooked?!"
"I'm perfectly capable of it, you know. When it's absolutely
necessary," she shrugged, playing her part. Then she took his hand and
put her lips to his ear, the rattle of the carriage and harness covering
her next words. "But your mother's right, you know. You do look like
"Lovely to see you, too, Miss Fisher," he whispered back, his voice
heavy with sarcasm. "And such refined language from such a lovely young
"I'm practically an old maid, not a young lady, so I can say what I
like," Hannah challenged. She searched his face with concern darkened
eyes. "I can even speak the truth."
Peter's eyes sank into hers. He wished he could speak the truth at
that very moment, but knew that it would have to wait.
"What's this 'old maid' business?" he asked, changing the subject.
"I thought you and Adam Goodman were an item when I left."
"Ha! You're a blind man, Mr. Cole," she said dryly. "There never
was nor ever will be anything between myself and Adam Goodman." Her tone
suggested he not press the issue, and in truth, he didn't want to. He
was all too relieved to hear that she wasn't involved with anyone. As
much as he wanted her to be happy, he didn't want to share her with
anyone. 'But, speaking of items..." she continued, "Rebecca will be glad
to see you back, safe and sound."
Peter smiled softly at the thought of Rebecca.
"How is she?" he asked fondly.
"Well, frankly, I think she's a bit touched in the head. For the
past three years she's been absolutely convinced that the Indians were
going to be the death of you."
Peter shivered, catching her attention.
"Was it that bad?" she asked softly.
"Worse. But not the way you mean," he whispered. She frowned and
opened her mouth to question him, but he laid a finger over her lips and
silenced her with a shake of his head, whispering: "Later." Hannah
nodded her understanding, and after a moment's thought, she gamefully
continued as if nothing had happened.
"Anyway, I suggested to Rebecca that her constant worry demonstrated
a lack of confidence in your abilities to defend yourself from the Sioux,
but that only seemed to make it worse, so I had to switch to suggesting
that plaguing your mother with her worry was less than considerate...
That worked for a while, but you should have heard the commotion when we
heard you'd been shot!"
She rolled her eyes with an air of dramatic long-sufferance, but
Peter heard the slight tremble in her voice and felt the way her hand
tightened slightly on his.
"That bullet was a blessing in disguise; it got me discharged,
didn't it? But I really am all right now, you know," he whispered.
"I know," she nodded and smiled confidently, but he saw the prick of
tears in the back of her eyes and continued to stare at her silently,
squeezing her hand warmly. After a moment of concerted effort, she
abandoned her attempt at nonchalance and sighed, lowering her eyes to his
shoulder, the worry and pain she had felt now clear on her face. She
raised the fingers of her free hand to touch the fabric of his coat, much
as his mother had done earlier. But this time Peter had the
disconcerting feeling that she really could see through the fabric,
through his very skin to the workings of the muscle and bone beneath.
Only after she had stared intensely at his shoulder for a long moment did
she take another breath and meet his eyes again. Her smile this time was
an apology for doubting him, and an expression of her relief at seeing
him safe and sound again. And it was so sweet that he pressed his lips
warmly against her temple before giving the action a second thought.
Hannah blushed and struggled valiantly to contain her embarrassment
for a moment.
"You'd better be careful," she said finally. "If Rebecca sees you
doing that she'll only get jealous.
Peter laughed in surprised embarassment, and she grinned in a
"I can't understand why you and Rebecca don't get along better than
you do; she's such a sweet girl," he soothed her.
"Like I said before, you're a blind man, Mr. Cole," she whispered,
then added with a sly grin, "But seeing Rebecca again ought to open your
"Why? She can't have changed all that much," he said quizzically.
Hannah chuckled at him and sat back, turning her eyes to the road.
Fox Mulder awoke groggily and reached automatically for the
photographs, holding them up to the dim light that fell over his
shoulder. Longing seared him as he looked at the face of Sara Kavanaugh,
whose soul was out of his reach once again.
Since the past life regression to corroborate Melissa's memories,
the floodgates had been opened, and thoughts and visions from other
lifetimes had plagued his dreams. But this most recent dream had been
the most complete memory to return outside of hypnosis. He put down the
photographs and rubbed his eyes. He smiled softly, thinking of the way
Hannah had been able to make him want to laugh with her, to cry in her
arms, and to confide in her, all within a few moments. But then, Scully
always had had that knack. She certainly kept him on his toes.
But there was something else that bothered him about this latest
memory. It was the feeling of longing that had hit him when he stepped
off the train and saw her standing there, waiting for him. It was too
close to the feeling he got when he looked at the picture of Sara, the
feeling he had gotten from hearing Melissa say: 'We have come together in
this life, in this time, only to meet in passing.'
So what did Scully mean to him? It was a question that had plagued
him for the last four years, and now it seemed it had followed him
through more than one lifetime.
Damn it. he wished he could recapture the clarity of the hypnotic
state. 'Souls come back together... Different... But always
together...' He had been trying to tell her something with those words,
hadn't he? Trying to explain it to her. Trying to explain how he could
love her so completely, and still feel this aching longing for Melissa's
soul. 'Love... Souls mate... Eternal' He believed that, didn't he?
Certainly he had wanted to believe it before, but partly he had also
wanted to believe that he and Dana...
The way he trusted her above all others, the joy she had brought
back into his life. It had all seemed that perhaps...
But now Melissa had come and gone so quickly, 'in passing', as she
had said, and left his life in a shambles behind her. Her brief presence
had been almost intoxicating, and for a moment he had been able to see
nothing but her.
Mulder pulled the tears away from his eyes.
"Scully," he groaned into the empty room. How could he call her his
friend when his hidden desire for her continued unabated? And how could
he call her his love when Melissa bewitched him so? Yet how could he
call Melissa his soul mate when he felt this ambiguous connection to
Scully? If only Melissa had lived long enough for him to know her. If
only he could assign a name to his feelings for either woman that would
'Dana, if, um ... early in the four years we've been working
together, an event occurred that suggested, or someone told you that we'd
been friends together in other lifetimes. Always. Would it have changed
some of the ways we've looked at each other?'
Would you have challenged me more, or less? Would you have turned
around and run? Would you still have risked so much by partnering me?
Would you have opened up your heart to me and taught me to share
'Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn't change a day...'
Do you still believe that, Dana? Would you still not change a
thing? Did you hide a flash of pain in those beautiful eyes? Did you
lie to me, telling me what you knew I wanted to hear?
He looked at the phone, longing to call her and make a full
confession of sins he wasn't sure existed. He wanted to hear her ask the
challenging question that would make all the pieces fall into place. But
he couldn't call her. He didn't know who he was anymore. And he didn't
want to hurt her anymore than he was sure he already had.
Mulder lay back down on the couch and closed his weary eyes.
The house was filled with people he had known from childhood, and
all he wanted was for every last one of them to go away and leave him
alone with Hannah. All he needed in the world was to talk to her.
Couldn't they see that? He knew that she understood his need; the
knowledge was there in her eyes whenever she looked at him from across
Peter grinned falsely and allowed his hand to be pumped up and down
by neighbor after neighbor until he thought his teeth would crack with
"Peter." A woman's voice broke into his shell and he turned towards
the sound. "Aren't you going to let me welcome you home as well?"
"Rebecca!" he said with a shock of recognition. "I hardly
recognized you, you've changed so."
"For the better, I hope," she smiled offering her hand.
'Of course. You're more lovely than ever," he told her as he took
her hand and dropped a polite kiss on her cheek. It was true; she was
lovely. In the years he had been gone the girl he had known had matured
into a striking young woman.
He gaped at her awkwardly, not knowing what to say to this beautiful
stranger. When he had left three years ago to join the western army, he
had thought that, perhaps, when he returned he would marry Rebecca. But
at the moment, that dream seemed far away, farther than the blood soaked
ground of South Dakota. She seemed untouchable in her innocence, and he
dropped his hand from hers uncomfortably.
"I missed you, Peter," she told him earnestly. "I worried about you
"Yes, Hannah told me," he said without considering the words before
hand. Rebecca frowned, and there was pain in her eyes.
"I suppose she made me sound a perfect fool," she said, mustering
"No," he reassured her quickly. "She made you sound like a good
friend. After all, we've been friends for a long time, haven't we?
Since we were children."
"But I'm not a child anymore," she reminded him.
"That fact had not escaped my attention, dear lady," he teased
gently. "Nor can it have escaped the notice of any man in this county.
Have you chosen among them, yet?" Why did the words grate at his throat
that way? He had no claim on her; he wasn't even sure he *wanted* to
stake a claim on her affections, and yet it hurt to think of her with
"No," she told him, and he felt a ludicrous sense of relief to hear
it. "I suppose I was too busy missing you to pay much attention to the
men around here."
"I had almost forgotten how sweet you are," he said, fighting to
contain the thrill her words had given him.
"Perhaps, now that you are back, we can spend some time together and
I can remind you."
"I'd like that," he agreed, thinking that he very much wanted to
know her well again. But how to reacquaint himself with her without
sharing with her the darkness that had changed him over the last three
years. Still, remembering the girl who had laughed with him so often
when they were children, he thought that he had to try. "Perhaps, you'd
be willing to take a ride with me one day this week?" he ventured.
"I'd be pleased to," she said, smiling broadly, seeming to grow
slightly taller as she stood beaming at him.
The clap on his shoulder made Peter jump as he turned toward the
smiling face of an old school mate and began to exchange the necessary
when he turned back to Rebecca, all he saw was a glimpse of her as
she looked over her shoulder at him and disappeared through the door. He
took a breath to call her back, but stopped himself, not knowing what he
would say if he did.
He sighed with regret and frustration before scanning the crowd
again with his eyes. His gaze caught on Hannah in time to see her eyes
return from the door to him. She had seen the whole encounter with
Rebecca, no doubt. He felt suddenly embarrassed by her regard. She
raised an eyebrow at him. Was she jealous? Did she care? Would she be
all too happy to give him advise for courting the younger woman?
What the hell did he want from her? Peter dropped his gaze from
hers and retreated to the window where he gazed out at the stars and
wished he could be alone with his thoughts.
Fox drifted back to consciousness with a heavy sigh. This time
travel thing was getting tiresome. Even more disturbing was the
discovery that the old axiom was true. 'The more things change, the more
they stay the same.'
'Different... But always together... Again and again... To
learn...' And yet it seemed he had learned nothing over the past hundred
years. He still didn't know where his loyalty lay, in which direction
his heart pulled him, or what his soul really wanted of him.
He swung his legs over the side of the couch and sat up, roughly
combing his hair back from his face with his fingers. He reached
woodenly for the television remote, wanting something, anything to
distract him, take him out of herself. He flipped through two
infomercials, and three channels of static before landing on an old,
sienna colored movie just in time to hear a barrage of gunfire and to see
a buck skinned and braided figure fall from his horse with arms outspread.
Peter Cole sat up, gasping in his bed, shivering in a cold sweat.
He stared sightlessly into the room for a long moment before the
familiarity of the furnishings began to soothe him and his breath rate
returned to normal, although his heart continued to pound in his chest.
Gradually, he turned his gaze to the night outside his window. He
swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood, taking a deep,
cleansing breath of the cold night air. Staring out into the darkness
beyond his window, he suddenly felt claustrophobic in the room. He
needed to get out, to clear his head. Moving more decisively he pulled
out civilian clothes that had been packed away, and dressed quickly.
A moment later he had slipped out of the house and was walking
briskly down the road, grateful for the need to watch the ground before
his feet, which allowed him to ignore the thoughts still snapping at his
Of their own accord, his feet turned off the road and carried him
across a dormant field, the chill of the snow beneath his feet providing
He stopped when he reached the porch steps, realizing only when he
looked up at the house where his subconscious had brought him. Peter
took a step back, eying the windows speculatively. He was pretty sure he
remembered which window was hers... He smiled suddenly with a memory.
When they were children he wouldn't have thought twice about pelting her
window with pebbles to get her attention, but now he felt his age and
sense of dignity press upon him, making him hesitate and wonder if he
should just turn around and go home.
There was a sudden flash of light in her room, which steadied and
grew to a warm glow. Then a muslin clad arm opened the window and held
the lamp out over the yard, casting a soft circle of light around him.
Hannah leaned out over the sill and saw him, grinning at the way he
shuffled his feet in embarrassment. He shrugged theatrically and smiled
at her silent laugh. She nodded and withdrew, closing the window behind
The light faded from her room and reappeared a moment later on the
ground floor as she came to the door and stood, wrapped in her dressing
gown, to let him inside.
As he kicked the snow off his boots before entering the house, she
grinned and whispered:
"So what took you so long?"
He raised an eyebrow at her.
"Knew I was coming, did you?"
"Of course I did. You wouldn't tell me about the Dakotas or the
Sioux in the carriage today, so you obviously wanted to wait until we
could be alone."
She moved aside to guide him through the door, and, shutting it
behind him, led him to the kitchen where she took his coat, sat him down
at the kitchen table and began to stoke the fire.
He watched her as she moved about the room, savoring the comfort of
her presence. Truly, he had missed her more than anything while he had
She set a glass of water in front of him and curled herself into the
chair opposite him.
"So," she said, breaking the silence softly. "Tell me."
"I probably shouldn't," he said hesitantly, needing to warn her
before she let him unburden his heart to her. "I probably shouldn't be
telling you any of this, but... somehow... through it all... I kept
thinking that you would understand..."
"I never understood why you joined the army in the first place. You
know that," she ventured. He nodded.
"I thought I'd be useful, that I'd be helping the country," he
shrugged uneasily at his own former idealism. "But it certainly wasn't
what I thought it would be."
"How so?" she prompted, and, without pausing to consider his words,
he blurted out:
"You weren't there."
Hearing the nonsensical lament that had escaped his lips, Peter
looked quickly up at her, fearing to see laughter or derision in her
eyes, but instead, he saw a mixture of surprise, and agreement- as if she
had thought the same thing without realizing it until that moment. Their
eyes spoke independently for a moment, saying things for which words were
too foreign, too awkward.
"Was it that bad?" she asked carefully.
"Not at first," he began slowly, dividing his glances between her
face and the nervous patterns his fingers made on the table top. "At
first it was exciting, watching the creation of a new state..."
Peter ran his fingers roughly through his hair and rolled his
shoulders uncomfortably. Hannah reached forward and took one of his
hands in hers, silently offering him her strength.
"Then we were called up to Pine Ridge to keep our eyes... and our
guns... on the Sioux. I still haven't figured out what we were supposed
to be doing up there. The newspapers were all howling about the 'Messiah
craze' as if the Sioux were poised to rain arrows down upon us all, but
all I ever saw were farmers whose crops were dying in the fields. The
cattle we gave them were hardly worth the effort of killing... Hell, I
would have been looking for a Messiah, too.
"The whole thing started just a little after Christmas... We ran
into a band of Sioux who raised the white flag as soon as they saw us.
Major Whitside wanted to confiscate their weapons right away, but
Shanreau convinced him it could wait 'till morning. We took them back to
our camp by the creek, and settled in for the night... The Seventh
Cavalry in our camp, the Sioux in theirs.
"Then, during the night, Colonel Forsyth arrived and took command.
He demanded the Sioux's weapons first thing in the morning. They piled
up their rifles just like we asked them to... And then the Colonel
demanded their knives, too. And their hatchets. Even their tent stakes.
He ordered some of us to go into the Sioux camp and search for hidden
weapons. There was a scuffle, one of the Sioux wouldn't hand over his
rifle, I think, and then a shot... And then...
"And then all Hell broke loose. My training took over when I heard
the first shot, and I raised my own rifle, but all I saw were the Sioux
running for cover, and most of them falling in their tracks, shot in the
back. Some of the Sioux scrambled for the rifles which they had handed
over a few minutes before, and began shooting, back, but they were
completely out numbered. I saw one aiming at me, and shot him. I
remember being surprised by the recoil, even though I shot that rifle
countless times at targets. He fell to the ground, dead. And I stood
there, unable to move, staring at him. He didn't deserve to die... And
I didn't deserve to be his murderer. I think I would have stood there
forever if a stray bullet hadn't hit me in the shoulder and knocked me
down. I lay there, bleeding onto the cold ground and welcomed the pain...
"The firing seemed to go on forever, and every shot I heard seemed
to tear into my own flesh. God, Hannah, it was worse then Hell. Even
the children were killed...
Continued in part 2.
FREE SPEECH IS OUT THERE!
X-phile for Free Speeh on the Net
Fight the Conspiracy! (Mulder would!)
"Not with a whimper, but a bang."
"Nothing happens in contradiction to Nature;
Only in contradiction with what we know of it.
So that's a place to start.
That's where the hope is."
From email@example.com Sun Mar 30 00:08:10 1997
Subject: I Almost Dream 2/2
From: Wendy K Shapard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
At Times I Almost Dream (2/2)
by Wendy Shapard (email@example.com)
Fox Mulder came back to himself with a violent shudder. Picking up
the remote from where it had fallen, he clicked off the TV and tried to
control his reaction to the memories from another lifetime. His stomach
was tied in knots, and, suddenly, it rebelled, sending him flying to the
toilet, where he rid himself of the remains of his dinner. Sitting on
the cold tile floor afterwards, his found it vaguely ironic that he could
study the works of psychopaths in detail, stroll blithely into Scully's
autopsy bay, and yet the memories of another lifetime, a century ago
could work their way past all his defenses.
His muscles groaning with fatigue, he pulled himself up to the sink
to rinse out his mouth, and leaned on his forearms to study his own
haggard reflection in the mirror. For a moment, he was sure it was not
Fox Mulder that looked out at him, but Peter Cole, Sullivan Biddle, an
endless array of names and faces, An endless array of losses too great to
be borne. He dropped his head back down and splashed his face with more
cold water. It didn't help.
'Scully,' he thought desperately. 'Scully tell me who I am. I
don't know anymore. Make it all go away, Scully, make it all come clear.'
And, in the part of his soul that still dreamed, he heard the remote
His grip on her hand had tightened gradually as he told the gruesome
story, until she finally stood and came around the table to climb into
his lap and wrap her arms around him. His arms clutched her to him as
his tears fell onto her shoulder. The tears and his breath came faster
and faster, until he was sobbing against her, his shoulders heaving with
the horror of what he had seen.
All the while, Hannah held him close, and made soft noises to calm
him. This was what he had needed, Peter thought. This was what he had
needed since the moment he had seen the first Sioux warrior fall on the
He wished she could erase the memory completely, or turn back time,
so that that terrible day might never have happened. But since that was
impossible, he would cling to the solace of her embrace and her
acceptance. He could survive the memory of it if he had her help.
Hannah continued to soothe him, stroking his hair and murmuring
softly until his sobs began to subside, and, gradually, the sights and
sounds of Wounded Knee Creek faded to be replaced by the smell of her
hair, and the warmth of her body against his. Gratitude for her
closeness overwhelmed him and, before he was aware of what he was doing,
his lips were pressed against the nape of her neck, trailing upwards to
her ear, then across her cheek. Even more astonishing was the moment
when Hannah turned and caught his mouth with hers, tasting him carefully,
"Hannah," he whispered in surprise, shocked as much by her
forwardness as he was by his own. But the taste of her was so sweet, and
her voice when she spoke his name, so full of encouragement and promise
that his tongue was soon dallying with hers, and his hands relaxed their
grip on her to caress her instead. He gasped against her lips as they
kissed, feeling the flames of desire spark within him. He wanted to fan
those flames hotter. He wanted Hannah's kisses to burn the memories from
his brain, to cauterize his soul.
How strange it was to think that in all the time they had known each
other, they had never once kissed, beyond the occasional peck on the
cheek. Now all he could think was that he had wasted precious years that
could have been spent kissing this woman. Hannah was pressing herself
against his chest, and he felt himself responding to her apparent
willingness with almost painful speed,
"Hannah," he groaned again, drawing back enough to look into her
eyes as one hand moved carefully to cup her breast. He saw the
excitement in her eyes and it sent another rush of heat through him. The
desire he felt for her was a revelation, a hunger lying dormant and
unacknowledged through the many years of their friendship, come suddenly
to light. It was intoxicating, overpowering.
He moved to take her mouth again and saw a flicker in her eyes- a
brief fading of her passion as fear and uncertainty took precedence. It
was only a momentary wavering on her part, but he saw it and it acted on
his nerves like a bucket of ice water.
Good God, what was he thinking? This was Hannah, for Christ's sake,
not some camp follower, and here he was contemplating... no, planning on
making love to her on her parent's kitchen table. Not one word
concerning love or marriage had ever passed between them. The
implications of their actions stretched out before him in a bewildering
array of consequences. He straightened in her arms before he had the
chance to be caught by her kiss again.
"I need to go now," he said, taking his desire and shoving it
ruthlessly to the back corner of his brain, even as he delicately tried
to disengage himself from Hannah's arms.
"Why?" she asked breathlessly, her eyes shining with disappointment.
"You know why..." he insisted, setting her on her feet and reaching
for his coat.
"Peter," she said quietly. She was clear eyed and calm. "You know
I wouldn't expect anything... You could just stay tonight. I wouldn't
expect anything more."
He gaped at her offer, temptation tearing into him with the claws of
a mountain lion.
"You know I couldn't do that to you," he said at last, shrugging on
his coat with determination. Hannah nodded resignedly.
"You're too much of a gentleman for your own good, Mr. Cole," she
"I was never more painfully aware of the fact," he told her, his
eyes dark with unquenched desire. Hannah grinned suddenly and blushed at
"It sounds so strange to hear you say that..." she marvelled with a
wondering shake of her head. "I've waited for you to come home for so
long, and now your return looks to be more than I ever imagined..."
"Life is full of surprises," he agreed, wanting to kiss her again,
but knowing he wouldn't be able to pull himself away if he did. "Good
night, Hannah," he said at last, enjoying the sound of her name on his
"Good night, Peter."
It wasn't until he was halfway home again that he remembered Rebecca
and his promise to take her riding. The sudden recollection stopped him
in his tracks and he stood shivering in the snow, glancing back at the
Fisher house. Damn. Damn, damn, damn! He didn't want to hurt either
Hannah or Rebecca, but he seemed to have discovered a fickle side to his
nature that he had never before suspected. He had to choose, and he had
to choose fast, before he sabotaged his chances for happiness.
Mulder growled in frustration at his reflection in the mirror.
"Damn it, I thought you were suposed to learn something from your
past lives, not go around in the same damn circle every time..."
He turned wearily from the mirror and stumbled back to his couch
stretching out on his back and covering his weary eyes with his forearm.
The carriage rattled along the country lane. The sun was shining
over the pristine snow, lending a touch of warmth to the air, promising
an early spring. It was a beautiful day...
And Peter couldn't wait for it to end. Rebecca had talked non-stop,
trying to fill the silence when he could think of nothing to say to her.
She was trying so very hard to amuse him, that it was painful to watch.
And the fact that it wasn't her fault just made it worse. He wanted to
enjoy her company, he wanted the friendship that they had once had back,
but it was gone, and he couldn't even explain to her what had changed.
He felt guilty for asking her to ride out with him, guilty for not
enjoying her company, guilty for wishing he could be with Hannah right
now, and guilty for still being attracted to Rebecca despite the fact
that they no longer had anything in common besides memories. She was
such a fragile spirit. In his innocence, he had admired that in her, but
now he could never have shared his true thoughts with her for fear of
shattering that delicacy.
Hannah, however, had a strength that strengthened him. Her spirit
was tempered steel, strong, elegant, and all the more beautiful for it's
power. And she was the woman he wanted and needed to be with. He had
known that as he lay on the frozen Dakota ground. He had known that last
night when his footsteps lead him unbidden to Hannah's doorstep. Now he
realized it with a clarity that startled him.
"Rebecca," he spoke suddenly, interrupting her faithful recounting
of Fairchance social events for the last three years.
"Well, my goodness, Peter, it's about time you said something. I
was beginning to worry that I was boring you," Rebecca said, all girlish
"Of course not," he reassured her. "I guess I've just been in the
army too long; I'm not used to carrying on a civilized conversation
She accepted his apology with a pretty smile.
"I... I just wanted to say... I wanted to say how nice it is to be
home, and to see old friends again..." he ventured while his mind
scrambled for a way to tell her gently, leaving her pride intact. The
only plan that came to mind reeked of cowardice, but it was all he had.
"I must confess, I asked you out here to ask for your advice..."
"My advice?" she asked, surprised. "On what?"
"Well, now that I'm home for good, I... I'm going to ask Hannah
Fisher to marry me." He kept his eyes on the road and gave her a moment
to absorb his pronouncement. "I hoped you might give me a woman's point
of view on the best way to go about it."
"Oh," she said carefully, as Peter's conscience screamed at him.
"So you're quite sure about it?"
"Yes," he said, and it carried a ring of truth that they both
recognized. Rebecca nodded, and after a moment she smiled a little too
"Well, that's lovely. Of course, I'm sure however you go about
asking her, she's bound to say yes. You two have been friends for so
very long..." She shivered and pulled her coat closer around her
shoulders. "You know, I think the weather's turned chill again? Perhaps
we'd better be going back."
"Perhaps you're right," Peter agreed. He stole a careful glance at
her from the corner of his eye. She looked disappointed, but thoughtful.
He spared a thought once again to what might have been, and then turned
the horses back home.
Fox Mulder let his eyes drift open, marveling at the sense of
epiphany he felt. He sat up slowly and reached for the photograph of
Sara Kavanaugh, seeing it in a new light, seeing his reaction to Melissa
with a new clarity. He had longed for Melissa the way he longed for his
lost innocence, the way he longed for time to turn back, for the world to
return to what it had been before Samantha had been taken, before he had
learned that corruption was everywhere, before he had learned to trust no
But all those things had happened. They had made him into the man
he was. And as he was there was only one person who understood him, only
one person he could trust...
In his mind's eye he saw Melissa once again as she tore the
photograph of her former life. Her choice in this life had ultimately
been to reject the bond between them. But he had his own choice to make.
He could long for the past, or for the uncertain future... Or he could
take hold of the life he had now, and learn all there was to learn from
He stood, grabbed his keys, and headed for the door.
"Mulder," a bleary eyed Scully mumbled when she had opened the door
for him. "What are you doing here? Do you have any idea what time it
"Hi, Scully." The serious tone of his voice, the complete lack of
even a token appology, and the fact that he didn't come bustling in
spouting his latest theory without a word spared for the niceties of
everyday conversation, made their way through her sleepiness.
"Why are you here, Mulder?" she asked, clearly this time. He saw
her defenses come up again, as they had again and again through out the
"I have a story to tell you, Scully," Mulder began. "A story about
friendship, and love, and the human soul. A story about you and me."
She looked up at him for a long moment, while he silently begged her
to listen. Making her decision, she lowered her defenses, and let him in.
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Fight the Conspiracy! (Mulder would!)
"Not with a whimper, but a bang."
"Nothing happens in contradiction to Nature;
Only in contradiction with what we know of it.
So that's a place to start.
That's where the hope is."