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Congratulations, Gail!

I am still chuckling over the name "Mulderache's Surgery for Wayward Fanfiction." Who came up with that name? It is so very British to refer to an operating room as a surgery. The name is perfect.

I shudder to think of what you do to the poor unsuspecting fanfic that comes your way, yet I am secretly hoping you will do me the honor of archiving that story I wrote for you (even if it isn't really MT in the strictest sense). It is, after all, yours by dedication. If you must perform surgery on my fic, I hope you choose to give it breast implants. ;)

Xtreme Unction........5/30/03 4:57:17 pm

TITLE:  Fenestration  
AUTHOR: Xtreme Unction <xtreme_unction@hotmail.com>
RATING: R for language and adult themes
DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Chris Carter, 
FOX and/or 1013.  This work 
was for love, not for profit.  It is intended as an 
homage, not an infringement.
ARCHIVE: After The Fact; all others, please request 
permission first.
SPOILERS: Alpha
CATEGORY/KEYWORDS: UST, Angst
NOTES:  This was written for the After the Fact 
"Alpha" challenge.  It is both a post-ep and my 
vision of the Mulder/Karin backstory.  Thanks to 
Sixth Extinction for the cautionary tale that 
inspired this.  Dedicated to Gail at Mulder's Refuge: 
feedback is like the whispering of the wind, it's all 
in what you make of it.

* * * * *

The living, breathing shrubbery outside my window was 
seized with a sudden panic at one a.m.  It shook and 
trembled against the fenestration, whispering in 
hushed voices the determinant of its distress.  "So 
close, so close," it sibilated in terror.  

I sat up in bed and reached for my weapon.  

"What the hell do you think you are going to shoot 
at, Agent Mulder?" I asked myself with irritation.  
This type of phantom doesn't fall in its tracks when 
you strike it with a hollow-point bullet.  The 
unnamed demon that has been hounding me all week has 
yet to show its loathsome face, but I know it lies in 
wait.  

A chill ran across my bare shoulders, from right 
scapula to left.  I shivered and rubbed my nape in 
vexation.  My yellow pajama bottoms were thin and 
made of cotton, so why was I perspiring?  "So close, 
so close," the wind continued to whisper in fear.  

"Fuck this!"  Whatever it is, I'm ready to take it 
on.  A bolt of masculine aggression ripped through me 
with hammering force.  I wanted to break something, 
to tear it apart with my bare hands.  Sometimes I 
revel in that uniquely territorial feeling, the one 
that reminds me of our primitive evolutionary 
ancestry.  Tonight it served nothing but to damn me.  
Kicking off the covers, I stood and closed the 
bedroom drapes, blocking out nature's savage 
susurration.  

Out in my living room, a cold beer in hand, I sat at 
my desk and resigned myself to another sleepless 
night.  I considered calling Scully, just to hear her 
sleepy voice in my ear, but dismissed the thought in 
an instant.  In the cover of darkness, it was easy to 
confess things I might later regret.  A longing for 
her, so pure and intense, was piercing my gut.    

Instead, I booted up the laptop.  

The greeting came almost immediately.  "Hi, FM.  
You're up late.  Care to join our chat?"  I smiled 
and replied with a quick hello.  "Gosh, we haven't 
seen you in weeks," she added.  It was an on-line 
friend, not unlike Karin.  My smile faded as I 
thought of her.  Regret lodged a heavy stone in my 
heart.  She made the ultimate sacrifice to catch 
Detweiler, but it was an unnecessary one.  Why bother 
calling me out to California if she wasn't going to 
let me do my job?  The muscles in my arms flexed in 
frustration.  What a waste of brilliance.  

I quickly shut down the computer, unable to face any 
of my old friends.  

It all started out so innocently.  I love talking 
with people who share my interests, whose hearts bear 
the same questions, and whose minds wrestle with the 
same doubts.  At first, I was surprised to find 
kindred spirits on-line.  I seriously struggled with 
the concept of projection.  Was I seeing in them only 
what I wanted to see?  Look hard enough at a grain of 
rice and you'll find Buddha's face etched on it, 
Mulder.  I thought myself a fool for becoming so 
attached to this small group of people I had never 
even met.  

Early on, I was determined not to reveal my real 
name.  I maintained a strictly separate persona under 
which I could play around with hypotheses and posit 
my less-than-accepted theories.  To my surprise, the 
friends I found on-line were willing to go even 
further out on a limb than I would.  They were smart, 
funny, and full of well-reasoned ideas, yet open to 
extreme possibilities.  

And they flirted with me.  Have I mentioned that part 
yet?  All six of them flirted with me, some more 
shamelessly than others.  I am grinning now, as I sit 
here, embarrassed to think of how much I enjoyed that 
aspect.  There were not many men in these groups, for 
reasons I have yet to comprehend.  I suppose I was an 
oddity from the start, but they accepted me and grew 
to crave my company as much as I loved theirs.  Of 
course, I am not blind; I know one or two of them 
craved me in a way that can only be described as 
blatantly sexual.  Their advances were overwhelmingly 
flattering.  Words, words... they could be so 
powerful in ways I had never before considered.  I 
admit I was curious about how far my words could go.  
Not that a woman's arousal three thousand miles 
away had anything but a superficial connection to my 
words on a computer screen.  All of the power lies in 
the woman's mind.  Still, I shake my head in 
wonderment.   

I staunchly refused to let any of this feather my 
ego.  No doubt they were simply intrigued by the 
mysterious man who seemed to know so much about the 
paranormal.  I guess they were impressed by the 
manner in which I spoke of our shared obsession.  
Unlike most men, I am respectful of the unexplained, 
of things which leave me feeling powerless.  And I am 
downright reverential of truths unexplored.  There is 
a literary romanticism about it all which, sadly, few 
men ever appreciate.  

They all agreed that I sounded vaguely familiar, like 
a character from a book or a television show.  This 
confirmed my suspicion that my friends were engaging 
in some peculiar sort of shared fantasy about my true 
identity as a fictional character.  The psychologist 
in me was having a field day with that concept.  Just 
how far was pop culture taking group dynamics?  And 
was I a pig for capitalizing on it?  No question 
about it, I scoffed at myself.  

I confess.  I played it up.  It was not hard to sound 
like a fictional character that I, too, admired.  
There was a lot of me in that character to begin 
with, not to mention I share many of his beliefs.  I 
enjoyed giving my friends a thrill, but they knew it 
wasn't real.  A wink and a nod to a poetic figment of 
the imagination.  No harm could possibly come of it, 
or so I thought.  

What really threw me for a loop was that most of them 
had actually heard of me.  Special Agent Fox Mulder 
of the FBI's X-Files division was a mythical 
character that fell only slightly below that 
fictional hero of their fantasies, in the grand 
scheme of things.  What a laugh.  I was thoroughly 
chagrined, however, to discover how much they knew 
about me.  The power of the internet is a double-
edged sword.  They studied my curriculum vitae like a 
rock star's discography.  They had seen pictures of 
me on websites I never even knew existed.  I suppose 
I would be flattered, if I didn't know the truth 
about this Mulder guy they were talking about.  If 
ever a hopeless case existed...

Quite a few of them derided me, you know.  As I said, 
on any given day, most of them would go even further 
out on a limb than I would, not knowing the 
limitations I faced in real life.  They thought Fox 
Mulder was a coward for not using every advantage at 
his disposal, not the least of which were his gun and 
his badge.  They criticized my choices and denounced 
my actions, not knowing I was right there in the room 
with them.  Frankly, it hurt to hear this from people 
I like and respect.  I am used to the taunts of 
others in the Bureau and in the public at large; 
their words just roll off my back.  But this judgment 
from my friends felt unreasonably harsh.  I forced 
myself to listen, telling myself it was character-
building. 

Anyway, this was but a small part of the greater 
whole: rich conversations shared among intelligent, 
like-minded people.  For a while, we had that rare 
and perfect amalgamation of friends who gathered in 
one place to talk about everything and nothing.  It 
was amazing to behold.  And none of us could get 
enough of it.  One by one, we formed real friendships 
with one another.  We all let down our guards.  I 
felt honored to be included in this impressive group 
when I realized who they were in real life.  They, on 
the other hand, were not the least bit surprised when 
I finally introduced myself by name.  I laughed as I 
realized that, by then, they had me all figured out.  

"Have you ever heard of the Wanshang Dhole?"  Karin's 
question came out of the blue one night last week.  
She intrigued me.  I cannot believe how much I 
learned from her and from the others.  

I miss her so much, I finally admit to myself.  I 
miss all of my on-line friends, but especially Karin.  
She was a good friend, one whom I had no idea held 
deeper feelings for me.  I handled that all wrong, 
the voice of my own guilt taunted me, as I ran my 
hands through my hair in dismay.  I should have 
anticipated this happening.  I should have prepared 
for the possibility, however remote.  Instead, it 
took me by surprise and I fucked it up, but good.  

Karin was a single woman isolated by circumstances 
and susceptible to romantic notions of fate.  She 
sounds a lot like me, actually - filled with visions 
of past lives and soul mates seeking each other out 
through the centuries.  For that reason, I never 
dared flirt with her, except in the most chivalrous 
of ways.  I was always impeccably mannered, and 
respectful of her boundaries to a fault.  All we did 
was talk about human nature and the world at large.  
Damn it, how did this happen?  I felt betrayed.  How 
much of our bonding was ever about friendship?    

On lonely nights like this, when old ghosts haunted 
me, and my desire for Scully was not to be assuaged, 
Karen was the one friend I could always turn to for 
comfort.  She was three hours behind me on the west 
coast and invariably still awake when my insomnia 
struck.  We conversed for hours on end, almost every 
night.  She understood me, or so I thought.  I guess 
I thought I understood her, too.   Clearly, I was 
mistaken.

The bottle of beer sat undrunk on my desk, 
condensation gathering around its base.  I stared at 
it for a full minute before finally picking up the 
phone.  

"Mulder, what time is it?"  She asked me in a sleepy 
voice.  

"I'm sorry to wake you in the middle of the night, 
Scully, but I can't rest.  Something has been 
weighing heavily on my mind.  I...I need to ask you 
now, before I lose y nerve."

I could hear her breath holding on the other end of 
the line.  

"How would you have handled that situation if you 
were in my shoes, Scully?  What if you had a friend 
who had feelings for you that went beyond mere 
friendship?"  I did not have to tell her I was 
referring to Karin Berquist.  She knew.  "How...how 
would you...I mean, what if I came to you...?"  My 
voice drifted off in dismay.  I did not intend to 
reveal that much.   

"Mulder, I would not know what to do either," she 
said softly.  "It was a difficult dilemma, but I 
think you handled it as well as can be expected.  
Granted, I'm not in the same situation that you were 
in."  A long pause and a whisper, "In our case, the 
feelings are reciprocated."  

The soft click of the phone registered in my ear 
distantly, as if the first communique from an unknown 
universe.  I could feel time and space bending around 
me, every molecule of my being vibrating at a lower 
frequency.  There was a little smile in her voice 
that was on continuous loop in my head.  Not the 
words.  Just the smile.  Unspoken emotions were 
radiating from my soul, spinning prismatically, one 
particle at a time.  

I walked into my bedroom and opened the drapes before 
climbing back into bed.  

The living, breathing shrubbery outside my window was 
shimmying again in a sudden joyful dance.  It swung 
and quivered against the fenestration, whispering in 
hushed voices the determinant of its delight.  "So 
close, so close," it sibilated in anticipation.

So close, so close. 

* * * * *

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