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Unfamiliar (Jump to the Left Remix)

by cgb

Date: Friday, April 25, 2003 12:09 AM

     Title: Unfamiliar (Jump to the Left Remix) 
     Author: cgb (luberluber@yahoo.com.au)
     Web: http://appelsini.tripod.com/Christine
     Fandom: X-Files
     Category: MSR (a little), AU
     Rating: PG - 13
     Archive: Sure.
     Summary: "He wonders whether this is something else that is
     familiar. He suspects she attracts nuts like him all the time."
     Written for the Remix Redux challenge
     (http://www.unfitforsociety.net/remix/index.htm). This story
     is a "remix" of Whitestar's "Dependence on the Unfamiliar"
     (http://dungeon.novylen.net/writing/dependance.htm). 
     Author's Notes: At the end.

My name is Fox Mulder, I am thirty-six years old, my sister's name is Samantha, my mother's name is Teena and my father's name is Bill. I live at 2790 Vine Street, Chilmarc, Massattuchetts...

Something isn't right. There's something he's supposed to remember.

He starts again. Fox Mulder starts again:

My name is Fox Mulder, I am thirty-six years old, my sister's name is Samantha, my mother's name is Teena and my father's name is Bill...

His father's name is Bill. That was it. They told him his father wasn't his father. They told him his father gave him up because he wasn't his own.

It's a lie, of course. All lies, but it bothers him each time the litany plays in his head. The seed of doubt is sown. Perhaps that was their objective, to strike at the very things that kept him his own person? Perhaps they knew that it was this knowledge that kept him sane?

They're not here now. He escaped.

Or rather, he was rescued. He's escaped before. He's made something of an art out of escaping. They find him again eventually but it's only a matter of time before he's found a new way to give them the slip. It helps pass the time.

On this occasion, however, it is the FBI who discover him in an abandoned train car. They tell him he is the sole survivor of what looks like a mass murder. They rule him out as a suspect because he was obviously imprisoned at the time but they ask him a lot of questions he doesn't know how to answer.

He sits on a bench by the wall while two agents confer in hushed tones nearby. He listens for a while. One of the Agents was there when Fox was found and he is describing the scene in detail to a woman who doesn't change expression once throughout the telling. He thinks he hears them say Jeffrey's name once and he wonders if he'll get to see his long lost companion after all this time. Jeffrey went over to their side, but Jeffrey never really had a choice. He wasn't as good at escaping as Fox.

The woman is introduced to him. She bends over, shakes his hand, and says her name is Agent Dana Scully. "And you are...?" she says.

"He won't give us his name," the other Agent says.

"Really?" she says. She never takes her eyes off him. "You know, you're not in any trouble."

From this initial meeting he deduces three things about Agent Dana Scully.

One: she's Catholic. She has a tiny cross hanging from a chain on her neck, probably a First Communion present. The name is also a give-away, possibly an Irish Catholic heritage. Her middle name is probably Marie or Catherine. Each would roll easily off the tongue.

Two: she's married. There's a ring on her hand tucked in next to a modest engagement ring. She's not the extravagant type.

And three: her husband is abusive, or he was at least once. She has a bruise covered in light make-up just below her left eye. It's not easily visible in this light, especially as the shadows cast other dark patches across her face, but he identified its outline when she bent down to shake his hand.

He suspects her husband because the heels coupled with the dark skirt and white blouse don't suggest an Agent in the field. Even so, FBI agents who get slugged on the job don't try to cover their bruises with make up they don't usually wear (the colour is a little too dark for her skin tone) which leaves the odds on the husband.

The abuse is a relatively new development in the relationship too. Experienced wife beaters know how not to leave marks.

He needs to ask about Samantha. He blames that on a premonition: something that tells him the next words out of Agent Dana Scully's mouth will be exactly as they are.

"She died two days ago. She was murdered in Baltimore."

He looks at the floor. Poor Samantha. Victim to the inevitable. She probably expected it to the end this way but he still feels failure for her, feels it as if it's his own. They were born into a sea of deception and lies with the truth as unmarked territory on a map: "Here be monsters".

He is morbidly curious enough to wonder how she died, whether she was looking for him when they found her.

Did she find answers? Is that why they killed her?

"She had a brother - Fox Mulder. Is that you?"

He doesn't answer and she takes it as a "yes".

He thinks that it's time to leave.

Agent Dana Scully doesn't understand his urgency and he wastes time trying not to explain it. In the end she offers to excuse him if he subjects himself to talk over coffee. It would be an appealing prospect if people weren't trying to kill him when he's out in the open.

He disappears when her back is turned.


He has a bank account under the name of William F. Nixon. Samantha helped him fake an ID the first time they found each other after the abduction. She was trained in graphic design but ended up a Private Detective. She solved problems - found people.

The funds are getting low and he doubts there will be further deposits without Samantha to make them. He empties the account and closes it.

He finds a cheap hotel and books a room. He toys with using "Fox Scully" to sign in but the "Fox" part of his name was always too unusual to use in public. Instead he signs himself in as "William Scully", because the "William" is, at least, familiar.

As are hotel rooms. He's hidden in enough hotels to write a book: "A Fugitive's Guide to Hiding Out in America". It would be a best seller if anyone would let themselves be seen buying it.

This room has a pink, floral bespread and matching (almost) curtains. It was probably the honeymoon suite when the hotel was still fancy enough for a newlywed's wedding night. He wonders if the desk clerk chose it on purpose (dull night, felt like a laugh).

It doesn't matter - not when it's a bed and he's in need of sleep. He falls backwards onto the bed and takes in the ceiling.

Mirrors. Perfect.

He rolls on to his side and watches the light from the street below flicker across the curtains.

He thinks about Agent Dana Scully.

He considers it natural that he should feel an attraction to a pretty and intelligent woman who takes an interest in him. What is not natural, however, is the feeling that he's supposed to do something about it. He believes in destiny, he's just surprised when it unfolds in ways unexpected.

It's possible that their meeting was destined. It's also possible that he's experiencing some kind of pheromone induced fixation on the last woman that spoke more than two sentences to him.

Pheromones or not, he needs help, and if someone is going to do it then it might as well be her.


He follows her around with surprising ease. He thinks it should be more difficult to tail an FBI agent. It reaffirms his earlier assessment - definitely not in the field.

She goes jogging of all things. In the middle of the day. No doubt, she's avoiding being somewhere where Mr Scully can find her. Each lap around the park staves off decision. She knows she shouldn't go back to him and she can't understand why she's going to.

She probably tells herself it's complicated and it is. He understands in his own perverted fashion. He understands the way abuse becomes familiar.

That's not why he's going after her. That's not why he chose her.

He waits for her on her third lap. She pulls to a stop when she sees him, her expression failing to register surprise. He wonders whether this is something else that is familiar. He suspects she attracts nuts like him all the time. She's got salvation written all over her.

"What are you doing here?" she says.

"I need the exercise."

She breathes hard, eyeing him carefully as she bends at the waist to stretch her legs.

"You're a very strange man, Mr Mulder."

He shrugs, and for the sake of it asks her is she believes in extra-terrestrials. She doesn't of course but she probably doesn't believe in the grassy knoll theory either. Kennedy's death was the act of a madman and Lee Harvey Oswald killed two men with a single bullet. And she thinks he sounds mad.

He gives her the three-minute version of the conspiracy. It's too vague but he's in a hurry. He's a human minutes-to-midnight clock. The more anxious he gets the closer to Armageddon they are.

She listens with what looks like interest but he notices her brow creases in the middle of her forehead while he's talking. Perhaps it's madness itself that is so incredible, that anyone can believe what he believes, in or out of a mental hospital. He wishes he had the time to be rational.

He looks around him. He's never comfortable out in the open. "Is there some place we can go?" he says.

She blinks. Doesn't know what to say.

He sighs, exasperated. He doesn't have time for this.

And then he sees them. Four figures getting out of black sedan and coming towards them. They move slowly and calmly, intent on not creating a scene if they can prevent it.

"We have to go," he says.

She turns in the direction he is looking, her eyebrows raised.

"What...?"

"Now!" He grabs her arm and they run. She follows willingly, caught up in his panic. They run into the bushes, hoping for the cover of leaves.

"Who are they?" She yells as she flings branches away from her face. He is two feet ahead, running blind.

He turns quickly, checks that she is still behind him. "Bounty hunters," he yells back. He doesn't bother to explain.

They reach the road and he stops, unable to choose a direction.

"This way," she says, and they run again. He follows her into a doorway and they hide inside a tattoo parlour while their pursuers run past outside.

He studies the drawing of a dragon on the opposite wall.

"Something I can help you with?" the attendant asks.

He shakes his head and smiles. He hears her whisper. "I have somewhere we can go."


Her sister has a dream catcher hanging across the hallway of her apartment, separating the living area from the bedrooms. It's fairly elaborate and unusual, made from a dirt-red rope - not the type you buy in New Age stores that are dyed bright purple and blue. He wants to ask her sister about it but Agent Dana Scully pulls her into the kitchen on arrival, no doubt to discuss her crazy, alien conspiracy theorist companion.

He thinks 'Missy' might be open to the notion of alien abduction, probably has a few past lives she can relate as well, but he finds it as difficult to deal with the unquestioningly accepting as he does with the sceptical. More so. He needs an enquiring mind, not a hopeless believer.

Missy instructed him to watch television while she and Dana confer so he takes the remote and begins flipping through channels methodically. He watched a lot of television when he was a child. His parents were away often, leaving them with disinterested babysitters who preferred their charges to quietly watch TV. And then when Fox was old enough, they left he and his sister alone.

Whenever he escaped he spent long, lonely hours in motel rooms, watching television and catching up on the world since he last checked in on it. He liked ball games and cop shows, but found the proliferation of family comedies tedious. He watched the obligatory motel porn channel and found naked bodies fascinating.

Sometimes he pretended he was normal.

Missy reappears and tells him Dana is taking a shower. She has a bag slung over her shoulder and keys in hand. He assumes she is on her way out, so he is surprised when she takes a seat opposite.

"Dana tells me you're an abductee?" She says. She can't keep the intrigue from her voice.

He smiles and shrugs. "Yeah."

"Wow," she says. "What was it like?"

"It's difficult to explain."

Dana's phone starts to ring and they both turn their heads in the direction of the sound.

"Shit," Missy says, as she looks at her watch. "I gotta go."

She leaps out of her chair and leaves quickly. He listens to the phone ring until Dana answers it. It's someone she doesn't know - probably someone from the Bureau - and it's about him. He gets up and follows the sound of her voice into the kitchen.

She's promising to bring him in. He knows she only has his best interests at heart, and he knows she doesn't intend him harm, but he can't let her.

"About me?" he says, when she hangs up.

She jumps and her face turns a becoming pink, contrasting with the white bathrobe. He begins to suspect it's more than just his eccentricity that elicits an excited response from her. He suspects it's something chemical.

He understands attraction, has flaunted it sometimes. In captivity he learned to exploit his attractiveness to influence his female (and male) attendants. He learned to be charming and intuitive and to display naivete when it flowed to his advantage.

He does not fail to notice the potential here for such influence and to an extent it guides his subsequent actions. He tells her a story.


He doesn't tell it often. It's the story of the night he was taken away.

She is sympathetic. Genuinely so. She may not believe him but she understands he has experienced something traumatising. It moves him.

"I don't understand," she says. "If they're so worried about you exposing them, why didn't they kill you while they had the chance."

"I'm essential to their plans," he says. He turns around and shows her the raised spot at the back of his neck. He feels her fingers brushing over it, applying a slight pressure, trying to determine its nature.

"What is it?" she says as she takes her hand away.

"My weak spot." He turns around to face her. "I'm an alien human hybrid. The result of years of research and experimentation. When they hand me over to the alien race colonisation begins."

"Colonisation," she says. Her tone is unmistakably disbelieving. It's the closest she's come to calling him a lunatic.

He smiles a little. "Do you believe in destiny, Agent Scully?"

"No..." She shakes her head, and changes her mind. "I think there are reasons for what we do - sometimes - I don't think it's the same thing." There's a questioning tone in her voice, as if she wants to hear what he has to say, no matter how ludicrous she knows it will sound.

"Maybe you're going to be the one that saves me," he says. It's a line from a song but he's not sure she makes the connection. She's too busy trying to find something to say as she notices he's getting further into his personal space.

He thinks she might have 'ummed' or 'hmmed' or muttered something under her breath before his lips landed on hers. He's impressed that she doesn't move away. That she's adventuress enough to try this, mad as it surely is.

It makes him want her, makes him want to pull her against him, plant kisses at the base of her neck and trail his tongue down towards her breast.

It never gets that far. She pulls away, her hands reaching for the knot on her bathrobe as if she expects it to have fallen loose, somehow.

They both try to speak, to stumble out apologies or explanations, but they are interrupted by a heavy pounding at the door. A voice yells, "Dana!"

She seems to know who it is as she rolls her eyes and goes to answer it. She opens the door and Mr Scully who isn't, as it turns out, Mr Scully, storms into the room demanding answers to questions he is obviously too angry to ask.

Agent Dana Scully is more embarrassed than afraid. She folds her arms across her body, and shakes her head, seeming less self conscious than she was moments ago.

"For god's sake, Tom..."

"How long has this been going on?" he demands. "How long?!"

Tom clenches and unclenches his fists. He gauges Tom's temper, trying to determine whether he is indeed as threatening as he looks. Dana is watching him carefully and he guesses that she's doing it too.

"Just calm down, Tom," she says slowly. "This is not what you think it is."

He thinks he probably doesn't want to step in between Tom and Dana, he suspects she won't appreciate it, but he can't help feeling the need to intervene on her behalf. Maybe he's going to be the one that saves her. Not everything is about you, Fox, he tells himself, no matter how much it seems like it is.

Tom is breathing hard. Fox watches him, waits for the slightest movement. He thinks he should have been gone from here by now. He should leave.

"Who is he?" Tom demands, pointing a finger.

Dana tugs at the edge of the bathrobe together just below her neck. It's a nervous gesture, the first and only sign that she's let this man get to her. "Mr Mulder is helping me with a case."

She's probably aware of how ridiculous that sounds while she's standing there in her bathrobe. He supposes it doesn't matter when it's the truth, but there are occasions when a lie just saves time.

And then the sound of running is heard, many foot falls in the hall shaking the small apartment. Fox takes in a breath as Dana and Tom turn their attention, sharply, toward the door. There's a knock and then a crash and then orange hazmat suits are falling into the apartment, plastic going up on the walls. They cuff all three of them and lead them outside.

It's over now.


He wakes up in a white room and it's every white room he's ever been in.

He knows where he is despite the sameness of the surroundings. He's become accustomed to subtle differences and he knows their movements better than they do. In spite of the groggy haze he's been in since they found him he's taken note of distance and voices and the sounds of feet on hard floors.

It's a place with a pretty name, something ill-suited to the work that takes place there. He tries to remember it, toys with girls' names like Maria, Dahlene and Meredith, but he knows none of those are right.

Agent Dana Scully was bundled into a different car along side her slightly volatile husband. It was the last time he saw her. He would have liked more time with her, a moment's respite, but he finds it difficult to be disappointed at this stage. Everything is turning out exactly as he expected.

They pumped more drugs into his arm as soon as they could get close enough to do so. He checked off the colours of the vials as each was emptied into him. One for his immune system, one for his nervous system, one for the resultant neural activity and one for the somewhat mundane nausea that eventuated.

Five weeks ago he sat in a dark bar with his sister. She smoked Morleys, one after the other and she tapped her hand nervously against the tabletop.

"I can't do it myself, Samantha," he was saying. He was being over dramatic, frustrated with his lot. Samantha chewed her lip and looked like she was going to cry. He didn't really know her well enough to know whether he could ask this of her and he was surprised to see such concern in her face. It didn't seem right.


It was only two days after that they found them again. They burst through the door of Fox's motel room in a similar scene to the one that had taken place at Missy's apartment. He wonders how long they kept his sister alive after that, whether she even made it out of the motel.

The white room smells slightly of cigarette smoke which means "he" was probably here. "He" has a very particular scent, not to be confused with other cigarette smokers, not to be confused with Samantha. "He" smells like decay, like he's slowly disintegrating.

Perhaps this was his plan all along? It will be best to be gone when colonisation arrives, best to be dying or dead. The bargains will not be honoured and he has a feeling there's some that know that. "He" knows that.

Still, it doesn't explain why they've kept him alive for so long.

He stands and begins to pace round his room. He counts steps, a habit formed from years of being constantly relocated and left alone. Given time he would probably escape again and they'd find him again and bring him back to one of these non-descript facilities. There was a time when he honestly though this dance would go on forever.

Not this time.

More doctors appear - nameless, faceless drones. He wonders if they manufactured them in one of their laboratories, whether they invented an unthinking clone race to do their dirty work. It was something they were certainly capable of.

They push more drugs into him and his head swims again. He thinks he might have thrown one of them to the ground, he thinks he might have screamed. It's not him but it's something they expect him to do.

He falls back on to the stainless steel bench, the only object in the room beside himself, and closes his eyes.

When he opens them again he sees Agent Dana Scully. He thinks he's hallucinating until he takes note of the grey scrubs she's wearing and he realises that she is indeed there.

And they got to her.

He can't explain how he is sure. Perhaps it's the way she can't look him in the eye? Perhaps it's the way her head hangs slightly, unconsciously, as if she's resigned to her fate, however wrong.

When she speaks her tone is apologetic and her hands are in the pockets of her scrubs.

"Hey," she says.

So this is how it ends, he thinks. He wonders what they told her, whether they showed her an alien autopsy or one of their hybrid foetuses. He suspects that even such persuasive evidence would not have convinced her if she had not been particularly susceptible to their arguments. Agent Dana Scully was waiting for a purpose in life, and when it was offered she took it.

She asks him how he is and he answers dismissively. He asks the same of her.

"I don't know," she says.

"They told you," he says.

She nods.

"And you believe them?"

She looks away

"They must have a great spokesperson," he says. He's really just speaking for the sake of it now.

"They had proof," she says, and maybe she is too.

He reaches out and touches her arm. It's okay, he thinks, it's okay. He catches sight of her cross still sitting against the base of her chest and wonders if she knows she's been tempted by the devil. He wonders if it's his place to tell her or whether that's something she'll find out eventually, something she'll find out when his part in this story is over.

Because that's why she's here: to do what he asked of her.

"It was him, wasn't it?" he says.

She frowns. "Who?"

It doesn't matter. He knows who it was. None of the others knew how to play the morally ambiguity factor like "he" did. No doubt "he" told her she would be saving the lives of millions.

And she would be.

"He" probably wanted to test her loyalty, have her kill him as an initiation into their fold. It's ingenious in its design because she'll never forgive herself and she'll do anything and everything trying to make it right.

Soon, one day, she will come to understand that there are more than two sides to the conflict. He knows that a day will come in the future when she will see the magnitude of her actions and she will want to make amends.

One day. And he won't be there to see it.

He wants to tell her, thinks that even at this stage he could still save her but he knows in his heart that his crusade is over.

"You should sleep," she says.

He nods and lies back against the bench. The metal is cool and he turns away from her, on to his side. He presses his cheek against bench letting its steel-cold hardness numb his thoughts.

He waits.

She acts quickly, not taking the time to question her actions or try to absolve herself with words. He feels the spike in his neck and he hears her take a sharp breath.

And then it's done.


There isn't any pain, nothing that registers as pain anyway. There's just a dull feeling of his body slipping away underneath him. He thinks he like it better this way, without limbs, without blood and breath. These parts of him were too vulnerable, too easily manipulated.

His mind was always his no matter how much they tried to take it. They warped and distorted it as best they could, but they never left a lasting impression, not while he fought them.

He tells himself:

My name is Fox Mulder, I am thirty-six years old, my sister's name is Samantha, my mother's name is Teena and my father's name is Bill. I live at 2790 Vine Street, Chilmarc, Massattuchetts...

No matter how much they tried to make him the monster they treated him as, they couldn't take who he was. Who he still is.

He lets his mind drift as his body slips away and he sees her before him smiling sadly, still concealing the secret that she knows he knows. She wants to say she's sorry, but it's really unimportant and he tells her so. She smiles sadly again.

He asks her what they told her, what they promised her, and she looks away. It doesn't matter. He knows. They offered her something else, something different from the life she had made for herself.

It's a shame, he tells her, and she gives him a questioning look. He smiles. He understands her now.

We could have been good together, Agent Dana Scully. You and I.

Fini


Author's Notes: Choosing one of Whitestar's fics to work with was a lot of fun. She's one of those writers who plays with the "what if?" - something I don't do very often. This is a big ol' spanking AU she wrote. I chose it because it was the first story I read to cause lines to run through my head - that always helps when I'm trying to write a fic. There's no real reason for writing it this way. I honestly don't think I would have written this scenario any different to Whitestar if I'd thought of it first, but like I said, this is just what came to me, and it just sort of wrote itself as I went along.

I kept some dialogue but wanted to play it as cerebral as possible so I tried to avoid dialogue where I could. That didn't work too well so I went back and added a lot of dialogue afterward.

I kept "Maybe you're going to be the one that saves me". I don't know whether Whitestar had intended to quote Oasis but I thought it was something that Mulder would do so I made it intentional.

cgb

"We're a package. Love me, love MacGyver" Selma (The Simpsons)


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