Postscripts (Chapter 22)
It wasn't a night to sleep alone. Scully and I lay there wrapped around each other, our unspoken hope not to dream about the events of that morning, our only reassurance the simple comfort of each other's presence. Scully fell asleep after just a few minutes and eventually I drifted off, too, but it was a broken sleep, my mind full of a thousand drifting things: Tracy and what had been done to her, and what implications it might hold for Scully; Krycek and my sister and that guy out in the hospital hallway. And my work... or what could soon be my work again. It would be my choice now, not Smoky's.
Eight years working the X-files, six with Scully: years of mutants, of mysterious organisms and people whose lives had been taken over by any number of unexplainable things. UFOs sighted and the evidence gone; bits and pieces of conspiracy pieced together, the blueprint of a nightmare future; clones and hybrids and chimeras, liars and truth tellers, obfuscators and informants whose true loyalties were often impossible to determine. All this in the process of the search for my sister Samantha who probably hadn't survived until I made it into college.
That was the question: where to go from here.
Oddly enough, it wasn't the years of Mulder's belief in extraterrestrial life, or even the things I'd seen with my own eyes and tried to rationalize away that finally pulled me over the line into accepting the probable reality and gravity of the alien threat, but rather what had happened to Tracy and what I'd seen in the urgency and determination of Alex Krycek. For all his sincerity, Mulder had been prone to flights of whim and wild hoping when chasing leads that related to his sister, but I knew Krycek would never spend time pursuing a fantasy.
I woke at four a.m. from a dream in which my implant had taken control of me and left me in a barren landscape with no memory of how I'd gotten there. Mulder and I talked for a long time, too shaken to hide behind pretenses or to hesitate, as we often had in the past, each waiting for the other one to finally verbalize something we both felt. We'd each reached the conclusion that many of the cases that would be offered to us for investigation--fringe groups, the supernatural, people exhibiting odd physical phenomena--would only be of academic interest to us now, and that where we needed to be was together and working to find out what we could about the mysteries surrounding Tracy and the group that had manipulated her, and then to do what we could to counteract the threat and to help those we could along the way. I knew, too, that Mulder would need to investigate whatever leads Krycek might offer him about Samantha. After all his years of faithful searching, Mulder deserved closure and perhaps, in the process, we might come across another piece to the larger puzzle.
Mulder's mind had continued to return to the man in the hospital hallway. We agreed that whoever had tampered with Tracy would be anxious to keep their work from being discovered or analyzed. Mulder's guess was that the gray-haired man had been sent to retrieve Tracy's body, and in the morning when I called Dr. Wykoff, he confirmed that her body was in fact missing, replaced by that of a girl of similar age and build whose identity has yet to be determined.
For quite some time there had been, in the back of my mind, a longing for a normal life, by which I suppose I meant the things we are brought up to expect: a home with a yard, a mate, a child, a secure circle of family and friends. I realized now that it was unlikely I would ever live a normal life in the traditional definition of that term. But it also struck me that the essence of that fulfillment was a sense of belonging and safety, a mental and emotional sanctuary, if you will, that Mulder and I had, in actuality, established for each other long ago, and which would continue to sustain us as we went forward into the uncertainty that lay ahead.
My first reaction was to drop that bank card. I mean, I never in a million years could have imagined...
And then I started to wonder, what was he thinking? Did he figure he could pay me back with money for what he'd taken away? Cy and Roddy's lives couldn't be repaid, not with anything, not ever. Certainly not with dollar bills. Then again, nobody was making this guy offer me anything. On the run the way he was going to be, he could easily have used that money himself.
In the morning I read over his note again. I didn't understand this man--this guy who killed but who sat and held a poor girl while she was dying, who said 'sorry' but took off to avoid the consequences of what he'd done. It would have been so much easier if he'd been completely despicable.
On the other hand, did I really want to put my hand on the Bible and swear that I believed a person could never be capable of changing? What if he was truly sorry for what he did? That little piece of plastic on my kitchen table just kept staring me down.
Then there was Tracy. At first all I could figure was that somehow she'd landed in his blind spot to rate the kind of treatment she'd gotten from Alex Krycek. But then I thought, what if she was just a girl who'd dared to offer a cold, hard man the gift of her faith that he could be the person she saw, when everybody else was only willing to give him what he deserved?
I remember Tracy once, after I'd taken one of those pain pills,
starting to tell me about her dog that had died, how losing him had hurt so bad at first
that she wished she'd
never had him. And then her mom had
asked her if she'd be willing to trade away all the good times she'd had with
the dog just so she could feel better at that moment. And she'd realized that the time she'd spent with him had been worth a lot
more than the pain she was feeling.
At the time
I figured it was too much of a load to shoulder,
carrying all that
pain just to be able to hold onto a handful of memories. But it's looking different now.
It's a will and a strength that comes on its own when somebody's
worth the trouble.
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