AUTHOR: Xtreme Unction <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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
"Mulder, what time is it?" She asked me in a sleepy
"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
"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.
* * * * *