Renaissance III: No More A-Roving
M.C. Christjansen

Disclaimer (s):
                Most of these folks belong to Fox;
                Now that I'm done with them,
                They're back in the box.

Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Cancerman, and the Lone Gunmen all belong to Chris
Carter and 1013 Productions. Duncan MacLeod and Adam Pierson/Methos belong 
to Rysher Entertainment. I've borrowed all of them to play with and now I'm
giving them back, more or less the way I found them. Anyone thinking that 
I'm making money off this is crazier than I am. 

This is the final part of a trilogy. If you haven't read the first two parts
and can't find them in someone's archive, I can forward them to you. BTW 
there are 6 parts to this portion of Renaissance.

Constructive feedback is welcome. Thanks to Susan for her help in editing 
this story. Mulder's cottage is actually my uncle's cottage in Aldwincle,
Northants., and is just as I have described it. For purposes of the story 
I moved it, and the village, to Edgehill in Oxfordshire. The battle of the
ghostly armies in the skies over Edgehill is a documented phenomenon. This 
is where the first battle of the English civil war was fought in 1642.

Be warned: this is definitely a relationship story and there are some 
naughty bits, but nothing too graphic.

Spoilers: Of course there are, but I've tried to keep them vague. The most
obvious is one is for TFWID.  Best of all, I've ignored the cancer arc!
(Should I have posted a spoiler warning for the spoiler warning?)


By Marta Christjansen

For the sword wears out its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And Love itself have rest.
        - Robert Browning
        We'll Go No More A Roving, v. 2

Edgehill, Oxfordshire, England
May 18, 2018

Not for the first time that May, Assistant Director  Dana Scully 
wondered if she was doing the right thing. She hadn't planned on beginning 
her retirement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation by accepting an 
invitation from an old and cherished friend to come and visit for several 
months, but the combined attractions of an English summer and his 
companionship had proven impossible to decline. Besides, they hadn't 
actually seen one another in nearly twenty years, although they exchanged 
letters, an occasional phone call, and communicated electronically on a 
frequent basis.

Her work with the X-Files over the last twenty-five years had taken 
a toll on her, mentally, physically and emotionally, and she had decided 
one morning, quite arbitrarily, that she had had enough. Her letter of 
intent to take early retirement had been in Director Skinner's hands that 
afternoon. The morning after her retirement party, she woke feeling mildly 
depressed: She was alone, a single middle-aged woman with no attachments 
and no plans for the future. Her dedication to her work had turned her 
into an outsider to her brothers, who all had lives and families far 
removed from her own experience. She had no idea what she was going to 
do next, although her pension and her investments guaranteed a comfortable 
future. She flirted with the possibility of writing a book about her 
experiences, and considered setting up as a consulting forensic 
pathologist. Then she discovered that the E-mail announcement of her
retirement to her friend in England had triggered his extraordinarily 
generous response.

Scully was glad she had told him not to meet her at Heathrow, or 
even at the train station at Banbury. She needed time to prepare herself 
for their meeting and, in fact,  was not at all sure how she was going to 
react upon seeing him again. She thought back to the last time she had 
seen him, on the occasion of her mother's funeral, seventeen years ago. 
He had risked a great deal to be there and afterward, during the long, 
bleak night that followed, had held her in his arms while she wept for 
her loss and the true end of her childhood. Had he changed at all? 
She knew she had, and not entirely for the better. She'd gotten cynical, 
even bitter, in the last few years, despite her success in what was 
still, essentially, a men's club. Her resourcefulness and determination 
had kept the X-Files open after Mulder's death, and her success in clearing 
weird cases had brought about an uneasy truce with her co-workers. Even 
though they still referred to her as  "Mrs. Spooky"  behind her back, 
they respected her, a respect no one had ever bothered to extend to her 
former partner, Fox Mulder, who had been a brilliant if eccentric criminal 
analyst. Tales, mostly apocryphal, of "Spooky" Mulder still circulated in 
the hallways and offices of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, though no one 
dared repeat them in her presence.

The train slowed and eventually lurched to a halt as a voice over a
loudspeaker announced the stop as Banbury. Scully gathered together her
belongings. The final stage of the journey required her to take a taxi to a
tiny village called Edgehill near the border between Warwickshire and
Northamptonshire, and a house called Battle Cottage.

 The early summer afternoon was fading into early evening when 
Scully's taxi slowed to a stop beside a small stone house on the outskirts 
of the village. She peered out the window for a moment before opening the 
door of the taxi. Slowly, she got out and took stock of her surroundings.

Battle Cottage, built from honey-colored local stone, sat on an angle 
to the curving road,  protected by thick stone walls it seemed to extrude 
from itself. It seemed sturdy and comfortable, a pleasant refuge from the 
often-violent world she had left. Although she was too short to look over 
the ivy-covered garden walls, she could see trees and flowering shrubs. 
The air was perfumed with a delicate mingling of lavender and roses, real 
roses, not hot house hybrids. There was an iron gate set into the garden 
wall, and beside it a post box and a glazed tile bearing the cottage's name 
had been affixed to the stones. She smiled and turned to retrieve her purse,
coat and ubiquitous laptop computer from the taxi's interior while the 
driver attended to her suitcase and carry-on bag.

The gate creaked suddenly as someone pushed it open. Scully turned 
around slowly, while her heart did a somersault.

He was standing in the gateway, looking down at her with an expression 
she  could only define as awestruck. He looked much the same as she 
remembered him: handsome, tall, lean, and oh-so-vital. His hair was longer 
and he'd done something to it to give it a salt-and-pepper look. He wore 
jeans and a pale blue polo shirt and sneakers. And in his left ear hung 
the tiny gold hoop he had traded her his Knicks t-shirt for.

She licked suddenly dry lips and took a step toward him. "Mulder?" 
she asked, and immediately felt stupid. Of course it was Mulder, but she 
didn't know what else to say, except, "God, I've missed you so much!"

He grinned that wonderful lopsided grin she'd dreamed of for so 
many years and stepped down into the road.

 "Then you know how I feel," he said, putting his arms around her. 
A simple embrace was not enough for him; he lifted her in his arms, and 
kissed her, while the taxi-driver looked on approvingly. Mulder set her 
back on her feet and pulled a wad of currency from his pocket. "This should 
cover everything," he said, thrusting it at the man. "Keep the change."

"Thank you, sir," said the driver. He set Scully's suitcase down next 
to the gate and put her other belongings with it before climbing into his 
vehicle, and driving off.

"I'm sure you overpaid him," said Scully, picking up her purse 
and coat.

"It's worth it to have you here." He pulled her close again, his arms 
so tight around her she could hardly breathe. "It's been too long, Scully," 
he said as he released her. He picked up her suitcase, the carry-on, and 
her laptop. "Come on inside and we'll get you settled."

Scully followed her former partner along a path of flagstones running 
beside the house to the sturdy white-painted front door, beside which grew 
a lavender bush. Mulder had to stoop a little to get through the door 
without bumping his head on the lintel. The foyer was tiny, only big enough 
for three people at most. He took an immediate left, through another 
white-painted door. This one led into a living room. She would have 
recognized it immediately as Mulder's living room: both the television and 
the computer were on and there were papers, books, videotapes and CDs 
strewn on every horizontal surface. The only piece of furniture in the 
room lacking a layer of debris was the couch.

"Just for quick naps," said Mulder, following her gaze. "I've taken 
to sleeping in a real bed."

"I'll believe that when I see it," she retorted. 

He grinned. "Well, if you're lucky."

Another door in the opposite corner of  the living room concealed 
a narrow L-shaped staircase that rose steeply to the cottage's second 
floor. Mulder stopped on the landing, which was flanked by white doors 
on three sides. "The bathroom, with all the modern conveniences, is 
straight ahead," he told her. "That's my room on the right, and your 
room's on the left."

Scully pushed open the door on the left and stepped into the 
guest room. It was a small room with a sloping ceiling, painted a pale 
green and furnished with a dresser and a mirror, a wardrobe, a double bed 
with a white coverlet and a miniature bookcase doing double duty as a 
nightstand. White net curtains framed a deeply recessed casement window 
that looked out  toward the village. "It's lovely," she said, laying her 
things down on the bed. "I'll be very comfortable here."

Mulder edged past her and  heaved the suitcase onto the bed. "Look, 
I know you're tired from traveling all day, but you'll feel better after 
a cup of tea. Why don't you freshen up and  I'll have it ready for you in 
a couple of minutes. We can just sit and talk for a while."

"Tea, Mulder? Have you gone native?"

"Wait 'til you see my bowler," he said, smiling. "Take your time, 
Scully. When you're ready, come back downstairs, go back to the foyer 
and go  through the door opposite the one we came in."

"I won't be long," she promised.


Twenty minutes later, Scully had showered, combed her hair, and changed her
traveling clothes for jeans and a sweatshirt. She made her way back down the
narrow stairs and through the living room to the foyer. The door opposite the
front door opened to a small dining area with a single bow window. Through an
open doorway partially concealed by a curtain, she could see a narrow kitchen
no more than five feet wide, where Mulder was toasting something and arranging
the tea things on a tray.

"That was quick," he remarked.

"I'm hungry." She stepped into the kitchen beside him and leaned over the sink
to look out the window that ran almost the length of the room. Beyond the
garden wall lay a field, an ancient church, and many trees. In the distance,
she could see the spire of yet another church. As she stood admiring the view,
Mulder reached around her for something, pressing against her briefly. 

"I envy you your home," she said, stepping back into the dining room, out of
his way, and seating herself at the table.

"It's great, isn't it?" He brought the tray in and sat down. Taking his duties
as host seriously, he poured Scully a cup of tea and gave it to her, along
with a toasted fruit scone and pots of clotted cream and jam. "This is just a
snack. We'll walk over to the pub for dinner in a little while." 

Scully sipped a little of the hot, fragrant liquid and discovered that Mulder
was surprisingly adept at brewing tea. "Do you still drink iced tea at all?"
she  wanted to know.  

He hushed her with an up-flung hand.  "Keep your voice down!" he warned. "If
they--" he gestured with his head to indicate the outside world, "--knew I
drink the stuff cold, they'd burn me at the stake. Iced tea is still a heresy
in this country, you know."

She laughed for what felt like the first time in months. "So tell me what
you've been doing with yourself," she invited as she spread the thick cream on
her scone. "Besides writing a string of  science fiction novels."

"Haven't you been reading my letters?"

"I've almost memorized them. I still can't believe you went to Nepal for three

"You should've been with me. I saw preserved Yeti hair, and Buddha's tooth,

`"You can take the man out of the X-Files, but you can't take the X-Files out
of the man," smiled Scully.

He leaned back in his chair and toyed with a teaspoon. "Care to guess why I
 bought this place?"

"It's haunted. Everything in England is haunted."

"Yeah," smirked Mulder. "But I didn't get just one ghost. I got two armies of


"The first battle of the English Civil War was fought in the field just down
 the hill, in 1642. From time to time,  the Cavaliers and the Roundheads can be
 seen still fighting a spectral battle in the sky above it."

"You're incorrigible."

"Yes, ma'am, I am that. What about you, Scully? Aren't you kind of young to be

"It was time." She licked a dab of clotted cream from her finger. "I left the
 X-Files in good hands, Mulder. I handpicked our successors, and trained them
 myself. They're almost as good as we were."

"Who'd you have to kill to get so much pull?"

"No one. I can be very persuasive when I want to be."

"I'll bet."

After a moment, she said,  "I wish I could have found Samantha for you." 

"You tried. I'm grateful." Mulder refilled her cup. "So, can you stay for the

There was a wistful quality to his voice that someone who didn't know him well
 might have missed. She wondered if he'd made any friends since his death had
 forced him to leave the FBI. Mulder had always been a loner; so far as Scully
 knew, she was the only person whose friendship he had ever cultivated. "Yes,
 if you really want me to."

"I do."  

She took his hand; he gripped her fingers with painful eagerness. She squeezed

Fox Mulder looked about thirty-eight years old.  In point of fact, he was
 fifty-seven. Some genetic quirk had caused him to be born with the potential
 to become Immortal, providing he died a violent death before old age caught up
 with him. Now the only way he would die was if someone severed his head. Years
 ago, during a murder investigation requiring their special expertise, Scully
 and Mulder had met Duncan McLeod, himself an Immortal, who had been a friend
 of the victim. Mulder had not survived the investigation: their sword-toting
 quarry had hacked him to death. A short time later, Mulder had resurrected, to
 his own, and Scully's, intense astonishment. He'd been lucky: only McLeod and
 Scully knew for certain that he'd been killed, and the three of them were able
 to bring the case to a conclusion. Mulder went back to the X-Files after
 McLeod had taught him what he needed to know to survive as an Immortal.  A few
 years later, when he'd "died" again, this time in front of witnesses, Scully
 had helped him get away to begin his new life.

She finished her tea.  "Why don't you show me the village now? I could use a
 walk after sitting all day."


They were walking back to the cottage in the twilight after a dinner of
 roasted lamb with rosemary and new potatoes at the Pig and Fork, when Scully
 said, "I never thanked you for coming to my mother's funeral and staying with
 me afterwards."

"You needed me,"  answered Mulder. "And I liked your mom a lot. We helped each
 other through a bad patch once."

"She liked you a lot, too."

Silence. And then, "Thank you for going to my mom's funeral. I wanted to

"She wanted you to be safe," said Scully. "She knew there would be too many of
 your father's old associates there. She was right, and so were you to stay

He put his arm around Scully's shoulders. "So we're both orphans now." 

She leaned against him, sliding her arm around his waist, and they walked on,
 wrapped in a companionable silence.    

Battle Cottage
7 AM, May 19, 2018

Despite the change in time zones, Scully woke early the next morning. Although
 her watch told her it was only six-thirty, the sun was already high in the
 sky. It's amazing the difference a change in latitude makes, she thought to
 herself. She decided to shower and dress. Mulder's door was open and his room
 was empty when she stepped out on the landing. She tapped on the bathroom
 door, and when there was no response, she went into the blue and white room
 with its Victorian fixtures and shut the door. The unscreened window, about a
 foot off the floor and set low enough that she had to bend over to see out,
 was wide open. Outside she could hear birds singing. Sitting down on the wide
 sill, she leaned out and saw Mulder in the garden, wearing only a pair of
 black sweatpants knotted low on his narrow hips. He was in the midst of an
 arduous martial arts routine, frowning with concentration and huffing and
 blowing as he battled an imaginary opponent. Perspiration trickled down his
 face and torso as he moved to some inner tempo, and he glistened in the early
 morning sunshine. If a man could be beautiful ... 

Scully sat back, suddenly prey to feelings she had long ago sent into exile.
 She took a deep breath, and another, and told herself not to be a fool.


She put on a smile and leaned out the window again. "Good morning!" she

Mulder grinned and waved before continuing with the next phase 
of his work out. Picking up the katana she had bought for him so many years 
before, he used it to thrust and parry as he pivoted and knelt and jumped in 
an intricate dance that she still recognized from a long-ago morning in 
Quonochontaug. As  the long, polished blade flashed and whirled in the 
morning sun, a thought crept unbidden into her mind: I  
wonder how many more times he's had to kill to stay alive?


End of part 1 of  6: Renaissance 3: No More A-Roving

By Marta Christjansen

Battle Cottage
7:30 AM, May 19, 2018

After showering and washing her hair, Scully wrapped herself in her bathrobe
 and  stepped back out on the landing. The door to Mulder's bedroom was still
 open and a sudden impulse prompted her to step inside, an action she regretted
 almost immediately.  

Mulder was sitting cross-legged on the floor by the window, the beautiful
 Japanese katana Scully had given him across his knees. He was wiping it
 carefully with an oily cloth, so the lustrous steel gleamed with a life of its
 own. He looked up as she came in, and smiled.

"Did you sleep well?" he asked.

She nodded.  "Your door was open, and you didn't show me this room last night.
 I thought I'd just take a a quick look."

"What's mine is yours, Scully." 

His room had the same view across the fields as the bathroom did, and was
 furnished much the same as hers. A thick Kilim rug lay across the polished
 floorboards. There was a CD system and a collection of classic rock disks atop
 a bookcase crammed with volumes about UFOs, paranormal phenomena, and a
 collection of science fiction novels by Ellery Hale.  The bedside table held a
 lamp, a package of sunflower seeds, a photograph of the long-missing Samantha
 Mulder, and paperback edition of The Complete Shakespeare Sonnets.  A small
 silver picture frame, its edges blunted and worn, held a color
 head-and-shoulders snapshot of  a woman sleeping in a rumpled bed, her coppery
 hair fanned across the pillow. A faint smile curled the corners of her mouth,
 and her shoulders were bare, indicating that she was probably naked beneath
 the sheet. That's me, Scully realized. She picked it up. The photograph was
 one Mulder must have taken secretly years ago, the weekend they had become

"You weren't supposed to know about that," said Mulder from his place on the
 floor. "Ever."

"I'm not embarrassed."

"But I am."

She replaced the picture on the table and came to kneel in front of him. She
 put out a finger to touch the bright steel he held.

"Better not," Mulder warned.

"How sharp is it?"

"I could shave with it, if I were feeling suicidal."

She suppressed a shudder. 

"Want to hold it?"

Somehow they were both on their feet. Mulder was behind her, his arms around
 her,  showing her how to grip the fox-handled hilt and hold it in a defensive
 posture. For a moment, she let him manipulate her hands and arms. The
 proximity of their bodies generated sensations that left Scully feeling as
 though she'd run a marathon. Abruptly, she pushed the sword back into his
 hands and stepped away from him. "I can't." 

"Don't be afraid of it, Scully. It's no different from the weapons we used to

"I'm not afraid of it," she said, and fled to her own room before she could
 act on the impulses his touch aroused in her.


 After breakfast, Mulder persuaded her to take a walk with him through the
 fields to the next village. The countryside was criss-crossed with a network
 of footpaths leading through fields, meadows and pastures, and connecting
 villages to one another informally. Scully had never walked through a pasture
 full of sheep before; they eyed the two humans crossing their domain warily,
 then bolted in the opposite direction for no reason at all. 

"Watch where you're stepping," Mulder warned her. "This may be a public
 footpath, but  the sheep don't care."

She  climbed her first stile with his mostly unnecessary assistance. Hold on
 to the post, take two steps up, swing a foot over, swing the other foot over,
 take two  steps down. Nothing to it, really, but Mulder insisted on holding on
 to her arm as she did it. And then, once over the stile himself,  he had taken
 her hand and held on to it as they walked. 

They came to a narrow stream; there was a pebbled ford for the animals, and a
 footbridge consisting of little more than planks resting on stone supports for
 humans. "Do you want to stop  and rest for a while?" asked Mulder.

"I'm not  tired," Scully answered, "but I would like to sit down and enjoy the

They found a patch of soft grass on the stream bank untainted by the presence
 of sheep and sank down on to it.

"I understand why you chose to live here. There's peace and beauty everywhere
 you look." She lay back in the grass,  watching the clouds overhead. "Talk to
 me, Mulder. Tell me about your life as an Immortal."

"I'm the psychologist. That's supposed to be my line."

"Tell me."

 He reclined beside her. "It's everything Mac said it would be, good and

She remembered. McLeod hadn't sugar-coated the truth about immortality and its
 drawbacks and responsibilities; he'd been brutally frank, even about the

He turned his head toward her, watching her profile, guessing her thoughts.
 "I'm an intellectual, Scully, not a warrior. I do what I have to do to stay
 alive, but I don't enjoy it."

"I'm glad," she whispered. "I was afraid being Immortal might corrupt you

"It hasn't. It won't."

"What about afterward?"  She had seen McLeod take the head of the Immortal who
 had killed Mulder. Seen up close, the coruscating energies had been terrifying
 to witness; she had no idea what it might be like to be on the receiving end
 of them.

"Taking a Quickening is like being really jazzed," Mulder said, after
 carefully considering the matter.  "It's the biggest, longest, loneliest
 orgasm you can begin to imagine."

She said nothing. Mulder rolled over and propped himself on one elbow. "Don't
 be afraid of me, Scully. I'm still the same man you used to know."

"I'm not." It might have been a lie; she didn't know.

Silence for a little, and then Mulder said, "You never got married, Scully."

"I never met anyone I wanted to marry. I had some lovers, though." The last
 few words came out sounding casually defiant.

"Good. I hoped you weren't alone." 

"They weren't anything special. None of them liked taking second place to my
 career. What about you?"

"There've been women," Mulder admitted. "No one special for me either." He
 reached over and brushed aside a strand of hair that had blown across her
 face. "Scully, do you want to know the real reason I invited you here this

She turned her head and looked at him expectantly.

"The real reason is that I hope you'll like it enough to retire here with me

Stunned, she replied, "Mulder, that's very generous."

"No, it's entirely selfish. You're my center, Red. You always have been. I
 need you. There aren't any strings attached.  And you don't have to make a
 decision right away. Just think about it while you're here."

She closed her eyes. "I will."

Did she imagine it, or did she feel his lips brush against hers?

Battle Cottage
May 20, 2018

Scully woke at seven the next morning after a restless night. A gentle breeze
 through the open, unscreened  casements stirred the curtains gently. She lay
 watching them move back and forth, thinking about Mulder's offer and coming to
 terms with emotions she had sealed away for years. The simple truth was that
 Mulder had always been the perfect interlocking other half of her soul, the
 yang to her yin, her other self. Having acknowledged this, she was able to
 admit that she wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of her life with
 him, wherever he was, and  although she was fifty-four years old, she wanted
 to be more to him than a mere companion. The question was, was Mulder offering
 only companionship, or something more? Worse, did he feel sorry for her?

You can't stay, the rational part of her mind told her. You're going to get
 old and die, and he's not.

She sat up in bed and stared out the window, toward the village.

But you want to be with him, argued the emotional part. Seduce him, Dana!
 You're in excellent shape for a woman your age, and you have an advantage:
 You're his best friend and you've already been his lover ...

The first voice turned nasty. He'd rather have somone half your age in his

Scully felt tears well up in the corners of her eyes.

There was a soft knock at her door. Quickly, she reached for the sheet and
 wiped her eyes with the corner of it. "Yes?"

The door opened a crack. "You decent, Scully? I brought you a cup of tea and a
 digestive biscuit. A little local custom when you have a guest."

"Um ... I'm decent."

Mulder pushed the door open the rest of  the way. He was wearing sweatpants
 again and an orange T-shirt with a hole in one shoulder. Dark patches under
 each arm and in the center of his chest indicated he'd already finished his
 workout. "I would have done this yesterday, but you were up and dressed before
 I got it made."

 She could hear music coming from somewhere nearby. He looks so young, she
 thought, and I feel so old. A tear escaped her vigilance and rolled down her

"Scully, what is it?" Mulder set the tray down on the bed and sat down beside
 her. "Are you sick?"

She couldn't seem to turn off the tears once they started flowing. "No, I'm
 not sick."

Mulder pulled her into his arms, overturning the cup on the tray and flooding
 her bed with tea. He swore, startling her. "No, not you, sweetheart. I spilled
 your tea."

 Leaving one arm around her shoulders, Mulder slipped the other under her
 knees and picked her up off the sodden bed. He carried her across the hall to
 his own room, where he sat down on his bed amidst the rumpled bedclothes. He
 held her on his lap, stroking her hair and her back while she wept silently
 against his shoulder, and waited for her to tell him what was wrong. 

At last she lifted her head and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "I'm
 sorry. I didn't mean to do that."

"It's okay, Scully. What happened just now? Can you talk about it?"

"I'm just tired. And afraid ... "

"Afraid of what?"

"Being alone."

"You're not alone. I won't leave you."

She slid off his lap to sit beside him on the edge of the bed.  "I can't stay
 here with you."

"Why not? There's nothing for you back in the States."

"There are reasons."

"Name one."

Without thinking, she replied, "I won't share you with another woman." 

"What would I be doing with another woman?"

"M-making love to her." The words almost choked her.

"I'd rather make love to you."

"No, you wouldn't. I'm fifty-four. My breasts sag. I've got crow's feet. I've
 been coloring my hair for two years."

"Scully, I'll always be older than you."

"But you'll never look it!"

"To my eyes, you haven't changed at all since I last saw you."


"Let me show you," he said, reaching for the buttons of her pajama jacket.

She slapped his hands away. "Don't feel sorry for me, Mulder. I can handle
 anything but that."

"Dana, I want to make love with you."

"How can you say that?"

 "Because I love you. "

She stared at him, disbelieving, then shook her head. 

"Why is that so difficult for you to believe?" he asked.

"Look at me, Mulder."

"I see the most desirable woman I've ever known." He took her chin in one hand
 and forced her to look into his eyes. "I've loved you for almost twenty-five
 years. At first, I didn't act on my feelings, even though I was pretty sure
 you felt the same way about me, because I didn't want to give our enemies a
 weapon to use against us. So I was content to be your partner, maybe even your
 best friend, for all those years.  Then ... I changed, and our situation
 changed, and we were finally able to become lovers. When I had to go away, I
 didn't stop loving you. And I don't think you stopped loving me."

Scully shook her head. "No."

"I don't give a damn if you're bald and covered in tattoos and body piercings.
 Nothing can change the way I feel about you." He moved his hand, caressing her
 cheek. "Dana, I need memories of you to last the rest of my life."

The rest of his life. Her eyes prickled with tears again, and she dashed a
 hand across them. "Fox ... "

"Oh, hell." Mulder muttered. "I ask you here for a nice visit and all I do is
 make you cry. I'm sorry, Scully." He started to get up.

"I still love you," she whispered. "I thought I'd got beyond that but
 yesterday when I looked out the window and saw you in the garden I wanted you
 so much ... "

Sighing, he sat down again and took her back into his arms. She curled against
 him, taking refuge in his embrace.     "This proves one thing," he said after
 a long silence.

"What's that?"

"If we didn't love one another, could we make each other so miserable?"

A watery chuckle escaped her. "You're right."

"So what're we going to do?"

They sat gazing at one another for a minute or two before Mulder lowered his
 head and gently, tentatively grazed her mouth with his. 

"Again," she whispered as he drew back.

He obliged, more confidently this time. Her lips were supple and silken, and
 they parted beneath the pressure of his. He felt the tip of her tongue
 probing, seeking admission to his mouth. He hesitated, but her hand on his
 cheek was compelling. He let her in, but refrained from mirroring her action.
 She kissed him slowly, languously, and when they finally stopped to breathe,
 she looked up at him and smiled.

"You used to be a lot more aggressive," Scully told him.

"I don't want to frighten you," replied Mulder. "It's been so long ..."

"You can't scare me, Fox Mulder." She stroked his jaw. "Kiss me the way you've
 dreamed of kissing me. The way I've dreamed you would kiss me."

"I--Oh, hell," said Mulder, and ruthlessly took possession of her mouth,
 holding her like he would never let go of her again. 

Scully clung to him,  twisting her fingers in his t-shirt as she returned his
 kiss. They fell back on the bed, Mulder half on top of her. 

"Fox ... " she murmured when his lips finally left hers. "...Don't stop ... "

He raised himself up on one elbow. "Sorry, even Immortals need to breathe."

They studied one another for a long moment. Then, without taking his eyes from
 hers, he slipped his right hand beneath her pajama jacket to caress her


 His hand crept upward, toward softer, more sensitive flesh. "I told you, I
 have this problem with my vision. Maybe I need glasses."

Scully sat up, unaccountably pleased by the look of disappointment in his
 eyes. She got up off the  bed and began to unbutton her pajamas. "Fox, take
 off your clothes."

 A rare toothy grin split her once and future lover's face as he bounded to
 his feet, pulling off his tee-shirt before reaching over to push the pajama
 jacket away from her shoulders. It fell to the floor, to be followed seconds
 later by the bottoms and Mulder's sweatpants. A look, a kiss, and the years
 vanished like smoke in the wind. Eager hands reached out to touch and caress
 once-familiar places. As always, his gentleness surprised her. 

Caged in Mulder's embrace, Scully slid her arms around his waist and leaned
 against him, skin against skin. His scent, compounded of perspiration, soap,
 and essential Mulder, was like an aphrodisiac to her. She pressed her face
 against his chest, rubbing her nose against the wiry hair on his chest and
 inhaling deeply.

She heard him say, "Come to bed, Dana." 

Beyond words for the moment, she merely nodded and took a step backward,
 pulling him along with her. Still locked in their embrace, they tumbled
 backward onto the sheets, Mulder twisting to one side to keep from crushing
 her beneath his weight as they landed.

I'm home, each of them thought. At last, I'm home.


Mulder showed her places she had only dreamed of seeing: ancient Stonehenge;
 the glory of Yorkminster; Paris by night from the Eiffel tower, its lights
 like diamonds scattered on black velvet. Rome, Copenhagen, and Vienna came
 next, and then they ventured further afield: Egypt, Japan, Singapore, India.
 From time to time they met other Immortals, old friends and new, and some
 not-friends. Sometimes Mulder would disappear for an hour or two, usually
 after making love to her so she would be drowsy and only half-remember his
 going. Scully would waken a little later, knowing what he had gone to do, and
 wait for the door to fly open and Mulder to hurtle back into their bed, into
 her arms. He would make rough/tender love to her again, just to prove to
 himself that he was still alive. And then there would be laughter because
 while Scully would be as naked as a goddess on her scallop-shell, Mulder never
 bothered to do more than unzip until afterward.

"I can't help myself," he explained after the first time it happened. "I just
 need you so much. At least I'm not wearing spurs."

"Spurs?" Scully echoed faintly, images of leather and rubber and chains
 darting through her mind.

"The first Duke of Marlborough," he explained, nuzzling her neck. "Three
 hundred years ago, he used to come home from fighting the French all day and
 jump his old lady's bones without even taking off his spurs." 

"She must have liked that," murmured Scully, her hands busy on his body.

"She did," Mulder whispered. "It's one of the great love stories in history.
 Of course, it was hell on the sheets ... "

She put her hands on his chest, pushing him away just enough so she could look
 up into his face and drown in his eyes. "Fox, I don't care what you wear when
 you come back to me after fighting another Immortal. Just so you come back."

He nodded a little too solemnly for her liking, then yipped in surprise 
when  she slipped her hand inside his boxer-briefs to grasp him firmly. And then 
Scully spoke his two favorite  sentences: "I love you. Take off your clothes."


End part 2 of 6: Renaissance 3: No More A-Roving

By Marta Christjansen

Battle Cottage, Edgehill
November 16, 2020

One afternoon, as he and Scully lay in bed together playing silly lovers'
 games, Mulder felt the Buzz. He sat up suddenly, dislodging Scully.

"What is it?" she whispered, sitting on her heels. 

"Another Immortal." 

He slid out of bed and picked up the katana propped against the headboard.

"Will you have to fight him?"

"If  he challenges me, yes."

The knowledge that he might die in the next few minutes was painful, but the
 thought of ever abandoning Mulder just to spare herself such pain was
 unthinkable. Scully jumped out of bed and ran into his arms, pressing her
 mouth passionately to his, willing him to take her strength and add it to his

The visitor rapped loudly on the cottage's door. Mulder, still naked, leaned
 out the window but could make out only the tops of two heads of men in long
 overcoats. "What do you want?"

"Mulder?" The men stepped back from the door and looked up, and Mulder laughed
 with relief.

 "McLeod!" he called down. "What are you doing back in England?"

"You remember Adam Pierson, don't you? We've come to invite you to go to Paris
 with us." 

"Not now, Mac, but thank you for asking."

Mac squinted against the weak English sun. "Mulder, have you got a woman up
 there? It's half past three in the bloody afternoon!"

"As a matter of fact, I do!"

Scully, who had donned one of Mulder's T-shirts, came to the window, too. The
 sight of MacLeod relieved her to no end. The other man was still an unknown
 quantity, but if he was a friend of Mac's, perhaps no Immortal would die today
 in Edgehill. She studied him a moment: late thirties, tall, good-looking,
 close-cropped dark hair, big nose, big hands, big feet. Kind eyes. She
 wondered how old he was.

"Hello, Mac." She leaned against Mulder, mildly embarassed at being caught in
 bed with him in the middle of the afternoon. The visitors, on the other hand,
 didn't seem to be bothered at all. "And Mr. Pierson, wasn't it?"

"Please, call me Adam."

Mulder turned away from the window for a moment to rummage through his pants
 pockets. "Here!" he called, tossing his keys out the window to the Immortals
 below. "Let yourselves in. We can at least offer you a cup of tea."


For her first effort at entertaining Immortal visitors, Scully thought she was
 doing rather well. They drank tea and ate sandwiches and told stories just
 like anyone else, except most of their stories were about other Immortals with
 names like Amanda and Connor and Corey, and, improbably, Richie. But then who
 could have imagined the existence of such beings, let alone one named Fox? She
 shrugged and once again handed around the plate of sandwiches Mulder had made.
 For men with prolonged lifespans, they ate like there would be no tomorrow.

She caught herself trying to guess the age of this newest Immortal of her
 acquaintance. Something in his eyes told her he was very old, older than Mac.
 Mulder had met the one named Amanda in Seattle, just after first coming into
 his new life. A master thief, he'd said, full of mischief, not malice. Tall,
 brunette, curvy, a real Miss America type. Not bad at all for being a thousand
 years old. Scully had felt a pang of jealousy.

Pierson turned his head to look at her, and caught her staring. He smiled,
 unperturbed by her interest. Scully stood up.

"I'll get more sandwiches," she informed everyone, and made her way from the
 sitting room to the tiny kitchen.

She was unaware that he had followed her until he spoke.

"Mulder said the two of you were partners in the FBI."

Scully jumped in surprise, but quickly recovered. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to
 stare at you."

"That's all right. I've been staring, too. Mulder bragged you up quite a bit
 back in Seattle. You were some kind of scientist, weren't you, in addition to
 being a federal agent?"

"A physician; my area was forensic pathology."

 "Not much call for your talents with the lot of us around, is there?" said
 Pierson with an easy smile.

"No. And frankly, it's nice not to have to worry any more about Mulder getting

"Did he tell you about the time he sliced his own arm open, wrist to elbow, by

She laughed. "No, but it doesn't surprise me."   

He fold his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall. "You must have a
 very active sense of curiosity, Dana Scully."

"Well ... yes, I do. That's why I keep looking at you: I've been trying to
 guess your age."

"Older than you think."

Scully took up the challenge. "Older than Mac?"

He picked up a lemon from the counter and played with it, tossing it from hand
 to hand. "Oh my, yes."

"Are you older than ... Amanda?"

He looked at her curiously.

"Mulder told me about her," said Scully. She forced lightness into her voice.
 "It's not every day you meet a thousand-year-old woman."

His mouth quirked into yet another smile. "Ah. Well, definitely older than
 Amanda. I used to be a Pict."

A clue: Picts brought him back to Julius Caesar.

"Alexander the Great?"

"I knew him." The tone of his voice hinted that it had not been an honor. "And
 Darius of Persia. One of us. Nice man in his later centuries. He died a few
 years ago."

"The Trojan War?"

"Helen was over-rated as beauty. Huge nose, but great between the sheets."

Scully stifled an impulse to giggle. "Okay, I give up. How old are you? Are
 you the Adam?"

"Not as old as that." Pierson glanced around the kitchen, zeroing in on the
 museum calendar hanging on the wall opposite the refrigerator. Unhooking it,
 he flipped through until he found something that made him smile. He held up
 the picture for Scully to inspect: a photograph of the last remaining wonders
 of the ancient world. He tapped the largest of the three pyramids with one
 long finger. "I was an engineer for a while, too. This is one of mine."

Scully did some rapid calculations in her head.

"Of course," Pierson said, re-hanging the calendar "it's difficult to recall
 more than the last five thousand years. But I do remember inventing beer."

It was Scully's turn to lean against something. "Twenty-five years ago," she
 said, "I would have labeled you as delusional. Now I just want to sit you down
 and listen to you talk about the things you've witnessed in your lifetime."

"You'd be asleep in minutes." He picked up two more lemons and began juggling
 all three.

"Hey!" It was Mulder; MacLeod was just behind him. "What's the hold-up with
 the sandwiches? There're people starving to death out here."

"Big deal," Scully responded. "You'd be back again five minutes later,
 complaining about the cucumbers being limp, or the salmon tasting fishy."

Mulder picked up the plate of sandwiches and handed it off to Mac before
 putting his arm around Scully to shepherd her back to the sitting room.
 Pierson trailed along behind, still juggling lemons.  "Red, I forgot to warn
 you about Adam: he's old. Really, really old. And smooth."

"It's okay, G-Man, I told him I liked younger Immortals."

Mulder beamed. "Hey," he said, "did I ever tell you guys how Scully could kick

Naples, Italy
April, 2022

To celebrate the publication of Ellery Hale's fifteenth novel, Mulder and
 Scully went to Italy. They were sitting at a sidewalk cafe near the Bay of
 Naples, partaking of an afternoon snack of wine and fresh fruit, when the past
 caught up with them briefly. Mulder had excused himself to go to the men's
 room, leaving Scully by herself for a few minutes. She was checking their
 itinerary to see whether Pompeii or Heculaneum was scheduled to be their next
 stop when a shadow fell across the table like a curtain. A man's shadow, she
 noted before turning in her chair and looking up. Panic welled up in her
 normally unflappable soul as her eyes registered the burly figure in its white
 officer's uniform, the blue eyes, the thinning red hair streaked with iron
 gray, the all-too-familiar features ...

"Bill ...?" 

"Dana?" Captain William Mulder, Jr., kissed his sister's cheek before dropping
 into Mulder's recently vacated chair. "I spotted you from across the street. I
 couldn't believe my eyes. What are you doing here?"

"Um," said Scully. "Didn't you get my letters?"

"You mean those carefully worded exercises in penmanship? 'I'm fine. I'm
 staying with a friend. Don't worry about me. See you soon.' Those weren't real
 letters, baby sister."

"I'm sorry, Bill. I just need time for myself. I didn't think it mattered
 whether we kept in close in touch. We never have before."

"It's been four years, DK."

"I know." She glanced around, thinking Mulder might  be returning from the
 men's room at any moment and having to explain the presence of a dead man in
 her life would be impossible. But there was no Mulder in sight.

Bill reached out a hand and grasped her chin, turning her head from side to
 side as he inspected her face. "Well, you look like whatever you're doing
 agrees with you. Not like you looked the last time I saw you in DC. If I
 didn't know better, I might think you're in love."

She pushed his hand away. "What makes you think I'm not?"

"You're finally over that Mulder guy?"

"Leave Mulder out of this." Go away, Bill. I'm glad to see you, really, but I
 don't want you around right now with Mulder nearby and unaware of you.

"Okay. I guess I can cut a dead man some slack." Bill glanced at the table, at
 the evidence of the wine glasses. He gestured at Mulder's leather jacket slung
 over the back of the chair.  "So who is he? Obviously you're with someone

"Bill, I don't interfere with your love life. Please stay out of mine."

"So you're admitting you have one?" Bill leaned back in the chair, studying
 her. "Interesting. Why do I get the impression you don't plan to introduce
 this boyfriend to the rest of the family?"

"I don't care for the term 'boyfriend,' Bill. It lacks ... dignity."

"You're skirting the issue, Dana."

She smiled. "Yes, I am."

Bill frowned disapprovingly. "Okay, I can call a spade a spade. Your lover.
 You're not planning on introducing your lover to the rest of the family, are


"Any particular reason?"

Take your time in there, Mulder. Please take your time. "You wouldn't

"Because you're living with a man outside of marriage?"

"No, Bill. That is not the reason." She rested her hand on his arm. "But I am
 involved in a strange and very wonderful relationship that you just wouldn't

Bill looked dubious.

And at that moment, things got worse: Mulder emerged from the restaurant and
 started back toward Scully. He and Bill saw one another in the same instant.

"What the hell?" Bill muttered, rising from the chair.

Scully stood up, too, feeling utterly helpless. DIsappear! She thought at
 Mulder Vanish! 

But Mulder, realizing he had been spotted by his beloved's older brother,
 continued toward them, moving like a panther. One hand was outstretched, while
 the other busied itself slicking his hair back. An enormous grin bloomed on
 his face. With the snug jeans, the blindingly white t-shirt and sleek Ray-Ban
 sunglasses,  he looked exactly like what he was pretending to be.

"Buon giorno!" he said in heavily accented English. "You are the brother of
 the exquisite signorina Dana, no? I am her friend, Renaldo." He waggled a
 suggestive eyebrow.

Bill whirled to face his little sister. "Jesus, Dana! A gigolo! And not just
 any gigolo, but  one who looks like that loser who used to be your partner."
 He grabbed her just above the elbows and gave her a little shake. "No wonder
 you dropped out of sight!"

"He wasn't a loser!" She glared at her brother. "And I loved him." 

He studied her face for a moment before letting her go. "Oh, Dana, I think you
 still do." 

Mulder put the hand Bill had ignored on Scully's shoulder. "Does he understand
 the language?" he enquired in fluent Italian.

"I doubt it," she replied. Her own Italian was halting; she was just learning
 to speak it and most of what she knew was limited to what Mulder had taught
 her in bed.

"Good." He smiled and nodded at Bill Scully. "Do you want me to get lost for a

She sighed. "Would you mind giving us a couple of hours?"

He reached for his jacket. "No problem. There's a book shop down the street.
 I'll meet you there at six-thirty. Have a nice visit with your brother."

"Grazie, 'Renaldo.'" She stood up on tiptoe to kiss his cheek, and felt his
 hand on her bottom, squeezing it.

"Hey!" exclaimed Bill.

Mulder  raised the offending hand in an insouciant wave. "Ciao, baby," he
 called to the two Scullys as he sauntered away, hips moving like well-oiled

Dana smiled as she sat down again at the table with Bill and ordered more
 wine. She was in control of the situation now, and for once in her life, she
 had her big brother bamboozled.

Frowning, Bill demanded,  "Dana, are you nuts?" 

"No." She fingered the rim of her glass. "I'm happy. And Mulder was never a
 loser. Now, do you want to catch up or do you want to fight?"

Wisely, Bill chose to catch up.

Ristorante di Due Pesce d'Oro
8:45 PM

Over dinner, Mulder noticed that Scully seemed preoccupied. He pushed aside a
 plate of excellent Neapolitan seafood, reached under the table, and grasped
 her knee. "What is it?"

"I was just thinking ... "

"About your brother? Scully, I never meant for you to cut yourself off from
 the rest of your family in order to be with me. Go and visit them."

"It's not that."

"What then? Did I come on too strong with the gigolo act?"

She smiled. "Yes, but it was funny to see you acting like that, and Bill's
 reaction when you pinched my bottom."

Mulder waited.

She bit her lip, not certain of how to express herself. "We had a nice visit,
 despite our differences ..."


"But I think he believes I've wasted my life." Scully stabbed at a defenseless
 lettuce leaf.

"Why would he believe that?"

"Probably because I spent twenty-five years with the FBI and then ran away
 with a gigolo in my old age instead being sensible and getting married and
 having two-point-five kids and a house in the suburbs."

"Do you think you've wasted your life?"

Scully smiled and reached under the table to rest her hand atop his. "No, I
 haven't wasted it."

"Are you happy?" he asked softly. "Because if you wanted to leave me and go
 back to a normal life ... I'd do my best to talk you out of it, but if it was
 what you really wanted, I wouldn't get in your way."

"Mulder, I told you a long time ago that all that normal stuff went by the
 boards once I knew I loved you."

"Are you happy?" he asked again, squeezing her knee gently.


"Do you think that part of Bill's attitude might stem from the fact that
 you're shacking up with a dead man's look-alike?"

"Mulder, you sound like a psychologist."

"I am a psychologist. Answer the question."

"Yes. But you and I both know the man in question is neither dead nor a

Mulder let his fingers creep just beneath the hem of her skirt, to stroke the
 smooth skin of her inner thigh. "Dana, let's get married."

Her head came up. "What?"

"You know. The ring thing." He was going about this all wrong. Women liked
 romance; somehow a proposal with his hand under her skirt seemed more like a
 proposition. He withdrew the hand and slid off his chair onto his knees. It
 never occurred to him to feel ridiculous doing so, because he did it for her.
 "I love you. Please marry me. Please."

"Mulder, it isn't necessary."

"I know that."

"Please get up."

"Give me an answer."

Scully met his eager, anxious gaze with her own. "I love you, too," she said
 softly. "I'll marry you,  and the sooner the better."

A smile split his face from ear to ear. The people at the next table, who
 evidently understood English, applauded gently. A self-conscious Scully ducked
 her head. Mulder resumed his seat after kissing her cheek. His own color was
 high, but he held his head up. Then he noticed her shoulders were shaking.
 "Dana? What is it? Did I embarass you? Oh, god, I'm sorry--"

But when she looked at him, he could see that she was trying to suppress
 laughter. He sat there, brow furrowed, until she took pity on him.

"Can you imagine," said Scully, "how Bill will react when I tell him I've
 married my live-in toy-boy?"

He chuckled, then let the full-blown laughter emerge. And someone, they never
 found out who, sent them a celebratory bottle of Champagne.

Brighton, England
May, 2022               

They went home to England to be married one fine spring morning in a simple
 ceremony at a registrar's office in Oxford. The groom wore a gray suit, a
 violet silk shirt and a purple tie adorned with tiny green aliens, with a red
 rosebud boutonniere. The bride wore a suit the color of new leaves, a
 square-cut diamond engagement ring, and carried a single red rose. Afterward
 they went to a hotel and made love until it was time to board the afternoon
 train for Brighton. They passed the night (and half the following morning) in
 splendid accommodations, finally emerging into a cloudy afternoon to tour the
 fully restored pseudo-Oriental palace that was the Prince Regent's Pavilion. A
 cream tea at nearby shop seemed in order after that, to discuss what to do
 next. Mulder suggested Brighton Pier, only a short walk away.

"It's the tackiest place in Britain," he informed his new bride. "You really
 can't come to Brighton without going out on the pier. It's like a carnival on
 the water."

It was difficult not to succumb to his enthusiasm for the place. They strolled
 among the other tourists, tried their hand at the games, ate candy floss and
 sausages, skipped the rides and leaned on the railings to gaze out to sea.

"Y'know," said Mulder, appropos of nothing,  "there's no reason why we can't
 go back."

Scully shook her head. "You might be seen. The men we battled might be dead or
 dying, but the Consortium still exists."

"Just for a quick visit. I'd like to see my mother's grave. And your mother's,
 too. Let me contact the Gunmen, see what they can do."

"It's too dangerous." But her voice was soft, and he knew that despite her 
words, she would like to go home, too, however briefly.


End part 3 of 6: Renaissance 3: No More A-Roving

By Marta Christjansen 

Alexandria, Virginia
4:30 PM, October 31, 2022

They returned in the fall, as Mr. and Mrs. M.F. Luder, arriving in Boston late
 one evening. In the morning, in a rental car, they drove to the cemetery where
 Mulder's parents were buried. After placing flowers on the graves, he stood
 there in silence for several minutes before turning to Scully and taking her
 hand. "I'm happy," he said, addressing the headstones. "In spite of
 everything, I'm happy. I wish you both could have lived to see it."

Because being happy is the best revenge, thought Scully. Wherever you are,
 Bill Mulder, I hope you can see Fox. And you, too, Elizabeth, for a different
 reason entirely. Thank you for choosing to keep an unknown baby boy for your
 own. She smiled up at her husband, who smiled back.

It was almost dark when they got to Alexandria. Impatient, Mulder guided the
 rental car up and down narrow back streets and allies, in search of an elusive
 address until, at last, he spotted the last landmark on his mental checklist
 and stopped the car. 

"Ready to break Frohike's heart?" he asked as they approached a nondescript
 metal door camouflaged by a dumpster.

"It was broken a long time ago, Mulder," Scully replied. 

Mulder rapped on the door in a pre-arranged pattern then stood back and  waved
 at the hidden camera, using the arm that wasn't around Scully. After a moment,
 they heard the sound of locks being opened, dead-bolts being pushed aside. The
 door swung inward on well-oiled hinges. A shadowy figure lurked just within.

"Trick or treat," said Mulder.

"Definitely treat," replied the figure, "if that is really the delectable
 former Assistant Director Scully standing beside you."

"Trick," Mulder responded. "She's my wife."

There was a brief silence, and then, "Bummer ... but you can come in anyway."

They stepped into the darkness and the door was secured behind them. "C'mon
 back," said Frohike, and led them out of the darkness and into the light, such
 as it was, of the the Lone Gunmen's ops center. Computers hummed, printers
 clacked, and monitors shimmered with intriguing displays of information. They
 passed through it, into a sort of lounge area furnished with a familiar
 leather couch, a kitchenette set, a microwave and a refrigerator. Two familiar
 figures stood at the table.

"Hey, guys," said Frohike. "Look what I found."

Langley, in the act of taking something out of a large paper bag on the table,
 turned. His eyes widened. "Dude!"

Byers looked up from the can of soda he held. "Mulder? Scully?"

"The one and only."

 Despite the years, the Gunmen looked much as they always had. Byers, in suit,
 tie and neatly trimmed gray beard, looked as professorial as ever. Langley had
 gotten a hair cut, but still favored the black-rimmed glasses, jeans and
 t-shirt with rock'n roll logo that were his trademark look. And Frohike, with
 his bald pate and stringy silver hair, still looked like the sort of man
 mothers warned their children about. 

Greetings, and hugs, were shared all around. Frohike examined Scully's rings
 with the air of an expert and shook his head. "Never had a chance, did I?"

"Not even a ghost of one," Scully said, retrieving her hand from his grasp.
 "But I'm glad that you're my friend, and Mulder's."

The little man sighed and reached for the grocery bag. "Are you hungry?
 Langley brought in a sack of Philly cheese steaks."

"Cheese steaks?" Mulder insinuated himself between his wife and his friend and
 reached into the bag to pull out a torpedo-shaped package wrapped in greasy
 paper. "From Benny's? I haven't had one of these in years!"

"Take it, dude," Langley urged as everyone but Scully reached into the bag.

"That stuff will kill you," she warned them.

The four men looked at her; Mulder had the effrontery to wink. Scully sighed.
 They looked healthy enough. If junk food hadn't killed the Lone Gunmen or made
 them ill by now, it probably never would. And one Philly cheese steak probably
 wouldn't kill her, either. She reached into the bag, too.

They talked while they ate, exchanging news about the latest conspiracy
 theories until, during a lull, Byers said, quietly, "Did you know that the
 cigarette-smoking man is dying?"

"What?" said Mulder.

"Terminal lung cancer. He's at Georgetown Medical. Our sources give him less
 than a week."

Mulder sat back, hands in his lap, rubbing his thumb against his wedding ring.
 That black-lunged son of a bitch had been responsible for Scully's abduction
 (and possibly her return), the murders of his father and Melissa Scully, his
 mother's stroke,and several of his own near-death experiences. That was just
 the personal stuff. Then there were the Allentown abductees, the Hosteens, the
 clones of his sister--it made him sick to his stomach to think about it. And
 the bastard had never been brought to justice for anything he had done.


It was Scully, her voice a sweet, potent antidote against the bitterness he
 was feeling.

"Sorry." He raised his head and discovered he was being stared at. "What's his
 room number? I'll send him a funeral wreath."

Langley laughed nervously, and then the moment was past. The conversation
 returned to more mundane matters. It wasn't until Mulder and Scully were
 preparing to go to their motel that Byers came up to him and whispered,

Oncology Unit
Georgetown Medical Center
7:30 PM

Less than an hour remained until visiting hours were over. Mulder, carrying a
 pot of  orange chrysanthemums, stood outside the door of room 1013, gathering
 his thoughts. When he was ready, he took a deep breath, pushed open the door
 and stepped inside.

The light in the room was soft, but sufficient to see details by. The old man
 dozing in the hospital bed looked frail and wasted, almost like a stick figure
 drawn by a child. Beneath the slightly receding hairline, the leathery, seamed
 face, with its bones jutting in sharp relief, had a greasy pallor. His
 breathing, harsh and labored, was assisted by an oxygen cannula and the head
 of the bed was elevated slightly to help him breathe more easily. An IV
 dripped medication into his arm.

Mulder set the plant down on the bedside table and stepped back into the
 shadows to wait.

 Presently, the dying man opened his eyes and looked directly at his visitor.
 He licked dry lips and whispered, "Are you the Angel of Death?"

"No," replied Mulder.  "But we're old acquaintances, thanks to you."

"Wh-who are you?"

Mulder moved into the dim light, to let the man in the bed get a good look at
 him. "I shouldn't think you'd have trouble remembering a man you once left to
 die in a burning box car."

The old man frowned. "Don't know what you mean."

"Think about it for a moment. It'll come back."

Mulder watched him, saw the realization overtake the man in the bed.

"Impossible!" he rasped. "He died more than twenty years ago. His son ...
 you're his son ... But I would've known if ..."

"April, 1998. The FBI and ATF jointly raided a house in Atlanta where a
 radical militia group had been stockpiling arms. An ATF agent was shot to
 death. One of the militia men managed to set off the booby-traps. I got blown
 to kingdom come. ". Mulder leaned close. The old man still stank of stale
 cigarette smoke. "I was dead, but I'm back. I've been back for a very long


Mulder leaned closer, resisting the desire wrap his hands around the wasted
 neck and snap it. "Where's my sister, you son of a bitch?" he demanded, his
 voice a harsh whisper.  "Is she alive? What did you do to Dana Scu--"

Behind him, the door opened, but it wasn't a nurse. Scully looked from her
 husband to the man on the bed and back. "What are you doing here, Mulder?"

"Visiting a sick friend." He indicated the chrysanthemums. "See? I even
 brought him flowers. Nice flame-colored ones."

 She held the door wide, indicating that he should go. 

Mulder obeyed, but only after taking one last glance at the man in the bed. He
 looked ... afraid.  

The Windsor Inn 
Room 1121
8:25 PM

"What do you think you were doing, Mulder?"

"Trying to get the answers to some very old questions." He engaged the
 deadbolt and put the chain on the door. They were back in their room at the
 hotel; the drive back had been a more or less silent one except for a few
 perfunctory remarks. "How did you find me?"

"Byers had an attack of conscience and called me about half an hour after you
 left for your 'walk.'" Scully flung her coat on the bed. "Mulder, going to see
 him was bad enough, but taunting a dying man is cruel!"

"More cruel than anything that black-lunged bastard ever did to you? To me? To
 our families? It was our last chance, Dana. I had to try to find out. For you
 and for Samantha and for myself."

She sat down on the bed and was silent for a moment. "What you did is out of
 character for the Fox Mulder I know."

"Then maybe you don't know me as well as you thought you did." He began to
 pace back and forth in front of her. "I'm still human, Scully, even if I am an
 Immortal. I love and I hate. I love you. I hate him."

"Let it go, Mulder!"

"After what he got away with?"

"We're both alive. We're together. Let that be enough. Please, Fox."

 "I wanted him to feel a little of what we've been through, that's all." He
 dropped down beside her on the bed and put his face in his hands. "I still
 dream about that damned box car."

"I know," Scully whispered. She dreamed, too, about a bright, white room
 filled with pain, though not so often as before. She put a hand on his back
 and rubbed it, making small, comforting circles. "I love you, too."

He sighed heavily, then turned to look at her. "Are you as hungry as I am?"

"Why don't you call room service and order us something to eat? I'll go

Mulder watched her undress as he ordered hot sandwiches and soft drinks. He
 admired her grace as she folded the silk sweater she had been wearing and
 clipped her tailored slacks to a hanger in the closet. Fifty-eight years old
 and still as lithe and beautiful and intelligent as the green young agent who
 showed up in my basement all those years ago, he thought, fingering his
 wedding ring. I still don't deserve her.  He hung up the telephone.

  "Red?" he said softly, just as she was about to go into the bathroom. 

She turned, one eyebrow cocked inquisitively, an old, familiar gesture.

"I'm sorry."

Scully smiled. "Why don't you come and wash my back, G-Man?"


The knock at the door came sooner that he expected. Scully was still in the
 bathroom, so a damp Mulder, barefoot and in sweatpants, opened the door.

It wasn't room service.

Director Walter Skinner of the FBI stood in the hallway, a bouquet of pink
 lilies in one hand. Skinner might have aged, but he carried it well. What was
 left of his hair was a dignified steel grey color; his eyes had lost none of
 their sharpness, and he appeared to be in peak physical condition. Only the
 slight droop of his jowls and a few lines at the corners of his eyes and mouth
 betrayed the passage of years.

"Hell!" said Mulder. To his credit, he did not slam the door in his former
 superior's face.

"What's going on here?" Skinner demanded. "Who are you?"

"You'd better come in, sir," Mulder said, stepping aside.

Director Skinner sidled into the room, ostentatiously avoiding any possible
 physical contact. He stared at the dead man who had opened the door,
 completely baffled by what his eyes were showing him.

Mulder closed the door and went to tap lightly on the bathroom door. "Scully,"
 he called, "room service is here!"

"Be right out!" she answered.   

When he turned back, it was to find the barrel of Skinner's service weapon
 inches from his nose. "Who are you?"

Being Immortal gave one a certain confidence, but it did nothing for one's
 composure at times like this. Mulder licked his lips and said only, "Please
 don't do this to her."

A reluctant Skinner lowered the gun to his side as the bathroom door opened.

Scully, wrapped in a thick white terry cloth bathrobe, emerged, vigorously
 toweling her hair. Seeing Mulder, she smiled. Seeing Skinner, she turned pale.

"Damn!" she whispered. "Damn, damn, damn!"

"It's nice to see you, too, Dana," Skinner said.

"Forgive me, Walter, it's just that--" she turned back to her husband. "I told
 you I was going to call Walter today and take him to lunch. He wasn't in, so I
 left a message. I'm sorry, Mulder. I never meant for him to come here."

"Would someone like to tell me what the hell is going on?" Skinner demanded.
 He cut his eyes toward Mulder. "Who is he? Another clone?"

Mulder briefly considered the lie, then decided against it. "No, sir," he
 said. "I'm the original, the one and only Fox Mulder."

"He died twenty-five years ago! Dana, what is going on here?"

She caught a glimpse of the 9mm Smith & Wesson their visitor was trying to
 keep discreetly out of sight. "You don't need that, Walter. This really is

A muscle twitched in Skinner's jaw as he reluctantly holstered the gun. "How?
 And why hasn't he aged like the rest of us have?"

"What, my roots are showing?" Mulder flicked at his artificially grayed hair
 with his  fingers.

Dana Scully put her arms around her husband's waist and looked up into Walter
 Skinner's face. "Because," she said softly, "it turns out Mulder is an X-File

Skinner glanced from one to the other of his former agents. "Why am I not

St. Scholastica Cemetery
Baltimore, MD
11 AM, November 3, 2022

"Mulder," said Scully, studying the flowers they had just placed on the graves
 of her mother and sister, "when I die--"

"Let's not talk about that."

"We have to, Mulder. It will happen, no matter what Mr. Bruckman said."

Mulder shook his head. "Not for a very long time."

"I just wanted to tell you to keep it simple. A few flowers, a pretty jar for
 my ashes, that's all."

"I'll be able to keep you with me always," he said, trying to find refuge in

She grinned. "Just promise that you'll dust me occasionally."

He did not respond, choosing instead to study the place they were: a small,
 private cemetery outside the city limits, surrounded by fields and paddocks
 and patches of trees. It was tidy and well tended, with neat rows of markers
 sprouting from the earth to show the resting places of those buried here, like
 some bizarre garden producing an unharvestable crop of polished marble
 mushrooms. It was peaceful, and no doubt pretty enough in the spring and
 summer with its flowering shrubs, but he did not like to be reminded of
 Scully's mortality. He rubbed his eyes with the back of one hand. 

"Mulder?" She rested a hand on his chest. "What is it?"

"I was just thinking ... "

"What about?"

"You. And me." 

"I see." Sometimes she could almost read his mind; this was one of those
 times. "Mulder, it was an accident of birth. It could just as easily have been
 me instead of you, or both of us, or neither of us."

He pinned her with a look. "How would the knowledge that you were going to
 outlive me by hundreds of years affect you?"

"I would be devastated."

"Well, I'm devastated. Can you blame me for not wanting to discuss your
 funeral arrangements?"

"I don't, love. I just don't want you to blame yourself for something you have
 no control over."

He shrugged. "It's who I am."

"I know, Fox. It's part of why I love you so."

Mulder sighed heavily. "Back when we first learned about what I am, one of the
 first things I asked Mac was whether this ... condition ... could be passed

"Like vampirism?"

He laughed in spite of himself. "Yeah, I guess. When he said it couldn't, I
 felt ... lost. I just can't imagine an existence without you, Dana."

"No one lives forever, Mulder, not even an Immortal. But if that woman in
 Tennessee was right--"

"Melissa Ephesian?"

"--we'll find one another again. 'Souls mate eternal,' you said."

He put his arms around her. "'... different, but always together. Again and
 again.' I had something a little more ... physical in mind, Red. And I thought
 you didn't believe in that reincarnation stuff."

"I want to believe," she whispered, just before kissing him. "Because I don't
 want to leave you, either."

They stood there holding one another, swaying slightly as the late morning sun
 warmed the crisp November air.

It came from nowhere, the sudden annoying aura that warned one Immortal of
 another's presence. Mulder's head snapped up, scanning the cemetery for the
 intruder and spotting him a hundred feet away, striding between the
 gravestones like a farmer in his field.

"Trouble?" asked Scully, without turning her head to see.

"Big trouble," Mulder answered. "But we're safe here. This is holy ground."

"What does he want?"

"My head?"

"This is not the time for jokes, Mulder."

He released her and waited.

The strange Immortal stopped a few feet away. He was taller than Mulder, and
 heavier. Dark hair, dark eyes, flat Slavic cheek bones, pale face pitted with
 small pox scars. He wore a long black coat over black clothing, black shoes;
 even the face of his watch was black. A ruby ring glinted on his left hand
 like a globule of blood. Very theatrical, thought Mulder, who was more
 casually dressed in jeans and a sweater beneath his overcoat.

"When you are finished saying good-bye to your grandmother," he said in flat,
 unaccented English, "I will be across the road." He moved on, heading back
 toward the cemetery's entrance.

 Even though his intellect told him the stranger was trying to provoke him,
 Mulder could not stop himself from tensing with anger. He shut his eyes for a
 moment, centering himself, regaining control of his emotions. When he opened
 them again, Scully was standing in front of him, peering up at him with
 anxious blue eyes.

"It's okay," he assured her. "I've done this a couple of times." Then he
 realised that she had never seen him fight, or take a Quickening, and that he
 did not want her be a witness to this portion of his life. "Stay here," he


He rested a finger against her lips. "I love you."

"I love you, too."

He turned his back and walked away from her.


End of part 4 of  6: Renaissance 3: No More A-Roving

By Marta Christjansen 

St. Scholastica Cemetery
Baltimore, MD
11:21 AM, November 3, 2022

True to his word, the man waited across the road for Mulder to join him, in a
 small field shielded from the road by a hawthorne hedge. He was coatless, a
 massive curved sword already clutched in his fist.

"I am Casimir Stedonsky," he announced. "I have come for your head."

"Fox Mulder." He struggled out of his overcoat and tossed it aside after
 withdrawing the katana from its hiding place. "And you can't have it." The
 ground seemed even enough, but he'd have to watch out for gopher holes. The
 sun was almost at its zenith; not much to worry about there since Immortal
 combats rarely lasted more than half an hour. He planted his feet firmly on
 the ground, taking up a defensive posture with the Japanese sword held upright
 over his right shoulder. Remember the mountain. Remember the water. Make your
 opponent come to you.


The instant she heard steel clatter against steel, Scully began to run,
 pausing only to check for traffic before dashing across the road and following
 the hedge to a break in it. Hunkering down, she peered through the dry brown
 leaves to see her lover battling for his life with the weapons of a long-ago
 era. She had spent hours studying swords while Mulder had been in Seattle
 training with Duncan MacLeod. The katana seemed insignificant in comparison to
 the weapon the other man wielded, a streak of silver against a pillar of iron.
 But the katana's strength was not in its size, but in the manner of its
 making, the soft, hot metal folded over itself again and again, cooled and
 tempered, to forge a blade as remarkable for its strength as for its beauty.

But a katana was only as good as the man using it, and while she knew Mulder
 had had a good teacher, and practiced endlessly, she had no idea how good he
 was with a blade. All she knew was that he had survived thus far.

A cry told her someone had been injured. Scully strained to see, and discerned
 a splash of red on the sleeve of Mulder's gray sweater. The other man seemed
 to be pressing his advantage, advancing foot by foot, hacking at Mulder like a
 street fighter. Mulder gave ground, limping a little, she saw now. Yes, there
 was blood low just above the knee, a thin trickle of it where his jeans had
 been sliced open, exposing pale skin. 

Scully swiped at her eyes, suddenly veiled with tears. And then Mulder went

She gasped and stood up, not caring who saw her.

Still gripping his sword, Mulder rolled toward his opponent, kicking at his
 legs, and when the other man, too, went down, they grappled briefly in the
 dead grass. Then Mulder regained his feet, spun around, and ran the other
 Immortal through. Pulling the katana free, he took a step back and swung at
 his opponent's sword, hitting it in just the right spot. The brittle European
 steel splintered, leaving only a stub of metal with a dangerous jagged edge.

The man roared and lurched upright, charging Mulder like a bull. He must have
 been blind with rage not to see that he no longer had a sword. Mulder leapt
 out of his way. The katana rose in the air, catching the sun, then slashed
 downward. The man's head flew off his shoulders, and Mulder staggered
 backward, just avoiding the fountain of bright blood spurting from the stump.

Just for an instant, there was silence. A wisp of something diaphanous rose
 from the corpse, and curled sinuously in the air, seeking the contest's
 victor. The sky darkened and a sudden gust of wind whipped the trees and grass
 back and forth. As Scully watched, the dead Immortal's body rose into the air
 to hover a foot or so above the ground; and then Mulder, too, was levitated by
 unseen forces. His eyes were clamped shut, and his lips drawn back in a
 grimace as he was enveloped by an eery blue light.

Scully took a step forward but the wind, which had been increasing steadily,
 swept her off her feet with its force. Branches snapped and trees bent nearly
 double. All she could do was clutch at handfuls of grass to anchor herself and
  watch as flashes of lightning licked at him and the katana he held, claiming
 him for their own. He screamed, but the sound of it was drowned by the
 freight-train roar of the wind and the hissing and crackling of energy being

Abruptly, it was over.

Released, Mulder fell to the ground, landing with a heavy thud. Scully
 scrabbled to her feet and ran toward him as the sun shone once more.

A weary Mulder looked up into her dust-streaked face. "Hey, Scully, I'm

"Yes, you are!" She was trying to assess his wounds, which were mostly healed,
 when he grabbed her by her shoulders.

"You weren't supposed to watch!"

"I had to!"

He fell back in the grass, still panting. "You gonna leave me now?"

"Why would I do that?"

He gestured feebly in the direction of the dead man.

"I'm not going anywhere." She leaned down to kiss him, only to find herself
 pinned beneath him.

"Scully ... "

She nodded, understanding what he needed. "I think we should put some distance
 between ourselves and this place first."

"That's my Scully, always thinking." He devoured her with his mouth, then
 rolled off of her to struggle to his feet. "C'mon. Let's get out of here."

Vancouver, British Columbia
9:30 AM, February 23, 2024

On the morning of her sixtieth birthday, Dana Scully licked the last crumbs of
 toast and jam from her fingers and said to her husband,  "Mulder, I'm not
 going to color my hair anymore."

Across the breakfast table, Mulder looked up from working the newspaper's
 crossword puzzle. "Okay."

"And I want you to stop fooling with yours, too."


"It makes me feel old, seeing you trying to age yourself artificially."

"I'm trying to blend in."

"Stop blending."

"Scully, it's protective coloration. I'm not doing it so much for you as I am
 for myself. It's survival, not aesthetics."

"Oh," Scully replied, feeling foolish.

"Don't worry about it." Mulder tossed the newspaper aside. "Can I give you
 your gift now?"

She nodded, wondering what he had come up with this year. Mulder liked giving
 her presents with some underlying symbolism that only the two of them
 understood. Puzzle boxes, a strand of pearls, even a lump of coal once.

The box he put into her hands was a small one, long and narrow and heavy for
 its size. She opened it to find an ornate  brass tube with an eyepiece at one
 end, not unlike a telescope, lying on a bed of cotton. The metal had a subtle
 greenish patina, indicating it had not been polished in some time, and a
 shallow dent at one end.  

"It's an antique kaleidoscope," he said softly, crouching beside her chair.
 "Handmade.  But instead of glass or plastic inside, it has pieces of
 semi-precious stones."

Scully held the device to her eye. The designs the jewels formed were
 spectacular, like a rose window in motion, shifting even as she breathed. 
 "Mulder, it's beautiful."

"Not as beautiful as you."

She lowered the kaleidoscope to look at him. "Fox--" 

"Sshhh." He grazed her lips lightly with his own. "Happy birthday,

She kissed him back, then stood, still holding the kaleidoscope, and held out
 her hand to him.

It wasn't until after they had made love that she understood the symbolism
 Mulder saw in the kaleidoscope. She smiled and kissed the top of the head of
 the Immortal dozing in her arms. "I love you, G-Man," she whispered.

Villa di Aurora
Florence, Italy
June, 2037

Inevitably, no matter where they were, the time came to move on to someplace
 where no one had ever heard of Fox Mulder or Dana Scully. A handful of years
 here, another there, until eventually they returned to Italy. The peaceful
 Tuscan countryside, with its olive groves, tall pines and medieval towers,
 appealed to them immediately. They took their time and found a villa in the
 hills above Florence to buy and furnish. As always, they lived quietly,
 following their own pursuits. Inspired, perhaps, by Mulder's success, Scully,
 too, began to write, though less for publication than for her own enjoyment.
 When one of her short stories, written in Italian, was published in a small
 local magazine, Mulder bought her a puppy of mostly Pomeranian heritage and
 named it Q-2. A mutual passion for Scrabble led to spirited debates over the
 authenticity of certain words. They learned to cook, really cook, and how to
 choose wines.          

 Life was an idyll, punctuated by infrequent sorrows: Skinner fell victim to a
 massive coronary infarction, Frohike perished in an automobile accident caused
 by a drunk driver,  Immortal friends  lost their places in the Game. They wept
 for their losses, comforted their  friends and carried on. 

 Late one night, Scully awoke and gently disengaged herself from Mulder's
 embrace. Even after so many years together, they still slept in one another's
 arms, like newlyweds. She sat up carefully, understanding that something,
 somewhere within her body, was not right.

Mulder woke, too. "What is it?"

"I don't feel well."

He touched her forehead, her throat with sensitive fingers.

"It's probably nothing, but I think I'll see a doctor in the morning."

"I'll take you now."


He slid out of bed, found and put on shirt, jeans and shoes in the darkness,
 snatched up the car keys from the dresser, and lifted her from the bed,
 wrapping the bedclothes around her like swaddling-cloths. She let him. And he
 frowned as he carried her down the narrow stairs and out to the car,
 frightened far more than he would admit even to himself by her lack of


The news, while not all good, was not all bad, either.

Scully sat on the edge of her hospital bed, dangling her bare feet over the
 side. After the doctor left the room, Mulder sat down beside her and took her
 into his arms.

"I'm wearing out, that's all," she told him. "It's inevitable."

He shook his head. She looked years younger than her true age, thanks to a
 combination of good genes and healthy habits. "We'll just be careful," he
 murmured. "I'm going to take good care of you."

"Mulder, we both knew this was going to happen." She stroked his hair. "Maybe
 you should--"

"Don't even think it," he said. "I will not leave you. I will not permit you
 to leave me."

"But I will go away eventually, and neither of us will be able to prevent it."

He squeezed her fingers between his and told her, "You're going to live to be
 a very old woman, Dana Scully."

For a long moment, the two of them sat holding hands and looking into one
 another's eyes, enjoying the silent communion of two long-time lovers.

Promise me you won't do anything stupid when I go, Mulder.

 I promise, Scully, but you have to promise to come back and haunt me.

Of course I will. How else will I be able to keep you out of trouble?

They went home to the villa and resumed their everyday lives.

She counted herself lucky that this slow winding-down of her life had not
 stolen her mind or her sight or reduced her to a bed-ridden invalid ... yet.
 She was able to do everything she had done before, just a bit more slowly.
 Even the sex. Mulder had been horrified, but she made him talk to the doctor,
 and in the end, he made love to her again, though without the unrestrained
 passion of their earlier years together. And once Mulder grasped the idea that
 making love to Scully was not going to kill her, he relaxed a little and began
 to enjoy it again.

But in the back of Scully's mind the niggling fear of becoming helpless and a
 burden on him lurked. And in the back of Mulder's, the knowledge that she was
 gradually slipping away from him lay like bitter poison. 

Florence,  Italy
2:06 PM, April 25,  2040


He turned away from the window and looked down at at his beloved as she lay in
 the hospital bed. Other eyes might have seen a fragile, silver-haired old
 woman, but his saw only the bright copper hair and porcelain skin of  the
 thirty-year-old Dana Scully.

"Yes, love?"

"I want to go home now."


"Preferably to Edgehill, but even the villa is better than this place. Please.
 I don't want to die here."

Mulder nodded. "Whatever you want, Dana. I'll even try to get you to England
 if that's what you want."

 "What I want," she said softly, "is your arms around this old body."

Coming to the bed, he leaned down and gathered her in his arms, mindful of the
 IV lines running into her arm. After a moment, Scully sighed and pulled out
 the needle. "Take me home now, Mulder."

He scooped her up carefully and turned to the door.


End parrt 5 of 6: Renaissance 3: No More A-Roving

By Marta Christjansen 

Villa di Aurora
Florence, Italy
12:30 PM, April 28, 2040

Mulder brought her a cup of tea, the hearty Irish breakfast blend she loved.
 Since he had brought her home from the hospital, Scully spent most of her time
 in their bedroom, alternating between the big bed they still shared, and a
 vast, overstuffed armchair positioned by the window so she could look out over
 the Tuscan countryside when she wasn't reading or dozing. He set the cup down
 on the side table next to the book she was reading, and squatted before her,
 tucking the blanket more securely around her legs.

"Don't fuss," said Scully.

"Demetrice's making lunch," Mulder told her.

"Something simple, I hope."

"Bread and cheese and fruit. Maybe a little salad. That okay?

She nodded. "I was watching the clouds while you were gone, and thinking about

"Come to any conclusions?"

"Yes. I wasted a lot of time by not coming to you sooner."

He smiled and took her hand, holding the palm to his cheek. "We did do our
 best to make up for that lost time."

"That first week must have set some kind of Guinness world record." Scully
 smiled at the memory of the early days of their life together, after her
 retirement from the Bureau. "I could barely walk to the bathroom. Remember?"

"I remember carrying you in there a couple of times."

"We couldn't leave one another alone." She reached for the tea, sipped a
 little and put the cup back on the table. "Would you hold me?"

Mulder straightened and lifted her gently from the chair and then, still
 holding her, seated himself in it. Scully nestled close, resting her hand over
 his heart. Often since he brought her home, she had asked to be held this way.
 He was happy to give her what she wanted, although secretly, selfishly, he did
 it for himself, not for her.

"I was remembering the day we met," Scully said. "You were hunched over a
 light box somewhere in the Bureau's basement, looking at slides. And then you
 turned your head and peered at me through those wire-framed glasses. 'An
 assistant?' you said. 'Nice to know I'm suddenly so highly regarded.' I
 thought you were an arrogant pain in the ass."

"When you walked into my office that morning," said Mulder, smiling at his own
 memories, "my heart turned over in my chest. You were so cool and confident in
 your little suit and sensible shoes.  I knew you were going to be trouble, so
 I tried to spook you."

She chuckled. "It might have worked if you hadn't been wearing the glasses. Or
 if your tie hadn't been loosened or your shirt-sleeves rolled up. You looked
 pretty hot."

"So did you." He grazed her forehead with his lips. "Did you ever regret
 coming to work with me?"

"Never. How could I?"  She shifted a little in his lap. "What about you?"

"Me?" Mulder echoed. He touched her silvery hair lightly with his fingertips;
 it was still silky-soft,  just as it had been when they first became lovers.

"Did you ever regret my coming to work with you?"

"No. I regret all the times I placed you jeopardy, all the times you got hurt
 because of me. I regret your abduction and Melissa's death. None of those
 things would have happened if you hadn't been my partner."

"If we hadn't been partners, we wouldn't be here together now."

And how much longer will we have together? " Not long enough," he said aloud.


"I regret being Immortal." And the children I couldn't give you ...

"I know," she whispered. "I know."

"You've always been so strong, Scully. Stronger than me. I don't know what I'm
 going to do when ..." Mulder faltered, unwilling to say the words.

"You'll go on. And I'll always be with you, one way or another." She decided
 to turn one of Mulder's own weapons against him. "Remember, you promised to
 dust me."

He sighed, refusing to be comforted by anything she said. 

"Do you know what I love about you?" Mulder asked after a moment.

The question was the beginning of one of their bed games. Scully smiled. "No.
 Tell me. I forgot."

He tightened his arms around her. "I love your blue eyes and the smell of your
 hair. The smallness of your hands and feet. The way your skin feels against
 mine. The feel of your body closed around mine. The sound of your voice. The
 lift of your eyebrows, the shape of your mouth. The way you make my name sound
 so sexy instead of stupid--"

"Fox," she whispered.

"I love your body and the way you use it against me. The slightest gesture you
 make. The soft little cries you utter when we make love and the way you
 scratch me. The way you kiss me and hold me--"

"I love you."

He felt her lips against his chin and dropped his head to meet them. "I love
 your humor and the way you always make me laugh ... " he paused. Scully had
 suddenly become heavier in his arms. He looked down at her face as she rested
 her head against his neck and saw that she was smiling. She was very still.
 His vision blurred; he blinked, trying to clear it. "Oh, Scully ... But most
 of all I love your heart and your mind, Dana Katherine. And I will always love

He pulled her closer, resting his face against the once bright hair. 


After the priest and the mortuary people departed, Mulder dismissed the
 housekeeper and wandered through the villa like a wraith. He picked up the
 knick-knacks Scully had bought one by one and examined them carefully. In
 their bedroom, he leafed through the book she had been reading. He opened the
 closet they had shared and rifled through her drawers, until he found the
 scrap of blue cotton knit fabric he had given to her forty-one years before.
 Thin, faded, with more holes than substance, it still retained her scent. He
 held it to his nostrils and inhaled, pulling her unique Scully-smell deep into
 his lungs. In the bathroom, he picked up her hairbrush and delicately pulled a
 few silvery strands of hair free, holding them between his fingers. He looked
 at himself in the mirror, noting the flat, expressionless eyes, the unlined
 face, the tiny gold hoop in his ear.

At some point, he found himself in the kitchen. The housekeeper had been
 preparing lunch when Scully had left him. The bread and cheese and fruit,
 together with a heavy knife, still lay on the counter.

 I should eat something. She'd want me to. 

So he picked up the knife and started to cut a slice from the long, thin loaf.
 A sudden stinging sensation told him he'd nicked a finger. He watched the
 blood ooze from the wound; a drop of it fell on the loaf.

Mulder stared at his forefinger, watching it heal itself, then pricked the
 heel of his thumb. When it healed, he cut himself a third time, in the same
 place, only deeper and longer. The sight of the blood seemed to hold him
 mesmerized, but it was the pain that interested him.

Taking a firmer grip on the bread knife, he deliberately slashed open his
 palm, and when that wound was only a fine pink line, he used the knife on his
 wrist, sawing at it a little, to make it hurt more. Then he flipped the knife
 into the air and caught it, reversed. With no hesitation at all, he gripped
 the handle in both hands and plunged it into his belly, ripping downward. The
 pain blossomed in his body, as fierce and brilliant as the summer sun, a timid
 echo of his lacerated soul. He fell to his knees, the knife clattering away
 unnoticed as the blood spilled out in a terrible red tide. He spread his arms
 like a supplicant, his mouth working silently, just before he toppled over.


It was almost dark when he awoke. Stiff, weary, empty, he uncoiled himself and
 sat up, remembering. So this is what it's like without her in the world, he
 thought. Holding up his left hand, he stared at the plain gold band encircling
 the third finger. His eyes screwed themselves shut; his lips drew back in a
 rictus to show white teeth clenched against the void. Somewhere deep within
 him, came a sound. It emerged at first as a thin keening screech, then
 crescendoed to a terrible howl. The silence after was thunderous. 

He sat for a while in the silence and the shadows, his shoulders shaking.
 After a moment, he sagged sideways and curled himself into a ball, oblivious
 to the dried blood on and around him. The floor was cold and hard, but no
 matter; so was the future now. 

He slept.

Florence, Italy
April, 2040     


He looked up from the spot on the carpet between his shoes that he had been
 staring at since his arrival thirty minutes before. Wearily, he got to his
 feet. He hadn't slept in two days because his mind had been racing like the
 horses in the Palio, replaying memories like a never-ending video loop.

"My apologies for the delay, signore," the woman standing before him said. She
 was a tall, blonde, brown-eyed Florentine in her mid-thirties. "There was
 a--como se dice--a gleetch in the paperwork."

He smiled mirthlessly at her accented English. The smile melted away when he
 saw what she held in her hands. Eagerly, as though reaching for a lover, he
 reached for the burnished metal canister. "What sort of glitch?"

She shrugged. "A little mistake only. The signora was listed as your wife
 instead of your mother. I will see that it is corrected."

He rubbed his thumb over the engraved name and dates on the container. "There
 is no mistake," he said softly.

"Signore, there must be. This lady, she was --"

He knew what she was thinking. With his dark hair and smooth, unlined face, he
 looked no more than forty himself.

He cradled the bronze urn in the crook of his arm like a baby, as he had often
 held his wife during her last days of life, and left the crematorium. Outside,
 the brilliant Italian sunshine wrapped itself around him like her love.

"Well, Red," he said as he unlocked the small red car they had bought together
 all those months ago. "Looks like you've finally gotten your revenge for the
 times I ditched you. But don't worry. I'll catch up with you eventually. But
 first we have a plane to catch."

He got into the car and gently placed the urn in the passenger's seat before
 starting the engine.

"We're going home, Scully."

Salle des Armes, Mayfair,
London, England
May 2, 2040

He found MacLeod in London, the owner and chief instructor of a fencing
 school. Sword-play had recently come back into fashion as a sport among the
 very rich, and what better occupation for an Immortal than swordmaster? 

"Dana?" the older Immortal asked, seeing the lifeless eyes, the gaunt,
 unshaven face, the slumped shoulders. He rose from behind the ancient oak desk
 where he had been doing some paperwork.

Mulder nodded, and hugged the urn in its canvas bag closer, refusing to let go
 of it even when his mentor embraced him. "Two and a half days ago. I ... I
 need a place to heal, Mac."

Without further comment, MacLeod led Mulder upstairs to his flat above the
 salle des armes and showed him the spare room with its twin beds and view of
 the rooftops of the West End. "I'll find something for you to do when you've
 settled in."

Mulder sank down on the edge of  one of the beds, setting the bag with the urn
 beside him. 

"Want to talk about it?" Mac asked.

"No," replied Mulder.

MacLeod nodded. "Come down-stairs when you get your gear stowed away."

He had always traveled light. It didn't take long to put away the few personal
 items he'd brought with him from Florence. Shirts, socks, underwear all were
 pitched into one drawer, his jeans into another. Shaving stuff on top of the
 dresser. The silver framed photo of his sleeping lover took its place on the
 bedside table. And for now, the urn remained where it was, in the centre of
 the bed. After wiping it with a soft cloth, he placed the fox-handled katana
 beside it.

When he rejoined MacLeod, he was given a broom. "The floor needs sweeping,"
 the Scot told him. "Watch for rough spots. When you finish, check the
 equipment. Put aside anything that looks like it might need mending."

This became the pattern of Mulder's days: sweeping, fixing, performing any
 small, mindless task that could be found for him. He worked silently,
 methodically, all day, every day, stopping only for meals. He went to bed
 early and woke up early, too, but feeling exhausted instead of refreshed. When
 MacLeod forced the issue, Mulder trained, but his movements were those of an
 automaton. For the most part, MacLeod, sensing there was little he could do to
 help, left him alone.

"Does it ever stop?" Mulder wondered aloud as he picked at breakfast one
 morning. "The pain, I mean. Does it ever just ... go away?"

MacLeod thought of the mortals he had allowed himself to love. "No," he said.
 "It's always there in the background. That's what happens when you love one of

Mulder nodded and tore another slice of toast into crumbs.

Salle des Armes, Mayfair
7 PM, June 9, 2040

A month later, the oldest living Immortal, newly returned from a sojourn in
 the Far East, strolled into the salle  just as Mulder was preparing to lock up
 for the evening.

"I didn't expect to see you here, Mulder," said Methos by way of greeting.
 "How's Dana?"

"Gone," the other man said softly. He locked the front door and set the alarm.
  "She's gone."

And so was he before a bemused Methos could string together enough words to
 offer condolences.

Abruptly, the hum warning of another Immortal's presence filled his
 consciousness. He started to reach for his sword, only to let his hand fall
 empty to his side as he realised who it was.


"Welcome back, Methos."

"It's good to be back. I see you're living over the shop again."

The Highlander led the way into his office and shut the door. "Old habits, old

Methos indicated the direction in which Mulder had disappeared. "When did Dana
 Scully die?"

 "The end of April."

 "How is Mulder coping? He looks terrible."

"He's barely functional." MacLeod pulled a bottle of single malt scotch and
 two glasses from the bottom drawer of his desk. He poured two fingers in each
 glass and gave one to his visitor. "He sleeps poorly, if he's sleeping at all.
 He picks at his food. If you tell him to do something, he does it. I've seen
 machines with more animation."

"He'll get over it." Methos tossed the contents of his glass down his throat.
 "Any chance of a beer in there?"

"No. And is that all you can say, 'He'll get over it'?"

"Well, he will. We all do, sooner or later."

"It's his first time."

Methos blinked owlishly. "Should that mean something?"

"How did you feel when your first mortal lover died?"

"It was a long time ago."

MacLeod propped one hip on the desk. "But you still remember. Answer the

Silence. Then: "I was ...shattered."

More silence, until Methos asked, "What have you done so far?"

Mac shrugged. "Given him a place to stay, food to eat, things to do."

"You are still such a Boy Scout, MacLeod."

"He doesn't seem to want anything else right now." He paused before adding,
 "Mulder's a good man. I'd like to help him before someone decides to take his

"Maybe that's what he wants."

"Just when did you take up psychology?"

"I forget, but there was a fascinating man named Jung--"


 "What I'm trying to say here is that maybe kindness is the wrong approach to
 take with Mulder. He needs someone as bloody-minded as Dana Scully to give him
 a good kick in the arse."

"Oh, thank you, Dr. Freud."

"I wasn't suggesting you do it, Mac."

The Highlander drained his glass. "Who, then?"

"I will. I like Mulder, too. He has potential."

MacLeod grinned suddenly. "Sometimes I forget that beneath that veneer of
 polished sophistication there is a man born long before the word
 'civilization' meant something."

"It has its advantages upon occasion."  Methos headed for the door. "Tell
 Mulder I'll be around in the morning to take him running."


"I'm going to run him into the ground. He'll get an honest night's rest and
 perhaps a decent meal out of it, and then perhaps we can do something about
 the bigger problem."

"Can't you start tonight?"

"No, I have something I have to do."

MacLeod slid off the desk. "What could be so important--"

"Beer," said Methos quietly. "I haven't had a decent pint in four years." 

Somewhere Outside London
8 AM, June 10, 2040

They drove out into the countryside and ran for an eternity down the narrow,
 twisting country lanes. Mulder, pale and thin, seemed to be inexhaustible; it
 was Methos who had to call a halt to the exercise.

"I'm too ... old for this," he muttered as he collapsed, panting, on soft
 grass shaded by an ancient hawthorne hedgerow to rest. "I once ran ...
 twenty-six miles ... non-stop to carry the news of ... a Greek victory over
 ... the Persians ... to the people of ... Athens. I feel now ... like I felt
 then ... but we've only done ... what? ... eight miles?"

"You were two thousand years younger, " said Mulder, whose own heart was
 pounding like a drum in his ears. He rolled over on his stomach and rested his
 head on his forearms.

Presently, as his breathing resumed a more normal rate, Methos said, "You're
 still wearing your wedding ring."

Mulder's left hand clenched convulsively.

"Tell me about Dana."

"She's dead."

"I know that. How did she die? Did she linger? Was it quick? Was she in full
 possession of all her faculties?"

"Shut up, Adam."

Methos sat up. "No. I liked Dana. I want to know."

"It was her heart. She didn't linger. She was never really ill, until the very
 end. She had her sight and her hearing and her mind until the last, thank God.
 She died while I was telling her ..." His voice trailed off uncertainly.

"Lucky woman."

"How can she be lucky? She's dead."

"She had you to love her."

The only sounds to be heard were birdsong and the humming of bees among the
 foamy white hawthorne blossom.

"She was taken from me before," Mulder said softly, breaking the silence.

Methos glanced over at his companion. "Kidnapped?"

"No. Taken. By people we later discovered were working for our own government,
 because of my work with the X-Files. They used her in medical experiments
 involving branched DNA and hybridization. Cutting edge stuff back then."
 Mulder sat up. "And when her body couldn't take any more, they threw her away
 like so much garbage. She reappeared at Georgetown Medical three months after
 she was stolen,  in a vegetative state, dying of the residual effects of the
 experiments. No one believed she could survive. Not ... not even me."

"Obviously she did." Methos drew his legs up and rested his arms on his knees.

"She hung on even after they turned off the respirator. And she came back to
 me." Mulder paused, and when he spoke again, his  voice was little more than a
 whisper. "God, I loved her strength, her stubbornness ... And now she's gone
 again, and she'll never come back." Mulder dragged the back of one hand across
 his face as he hauled himself to his feet. "I'm going to run some more. Are
 you coming?"


MacLeod saw them return while he was with one of his students, a young man
 with a natural aptitude for fencing. As soon as he decently could, he
 dismissed the student and went in search of Methos, whom he found in the
 locker room. Mulder, presumably, had gone upstairs.


The older Immortal shrugged as he pulled his sweat-soaked t-shirt over his
 head and tossed it on the floor. "He ran me into the ground." 

"What happened?"

"He talked, if you can call speaking through clenched teeth talking."  His
 shorts followed the t-shirt. Naked, Methos picked up a towel and slung it
 around his neck. "You know, there's a little more to this than we thought."

"What do you mean?"

"Mulder told me about something that happened to Dana years ago because of
 him. He blamed himself for almost being the cause of her death. Now he feels
 at fault again for being Immortal and outliving her. "

"Survivor's guilt," said MacLeod

"Yeah. And you know Mulder: He soaks up guilt like a sponge." Methos turned
 toward the showers, then paused and looked back. "Has he done any serious
 training since he's been here?"

"He sleep-walks through any exercises I set him."

"Even the sword-work?"

"To my knowledge, he hasn't touched his sword since he arrived except to care
 for it."

"Maybe it's time he did."

"It's your head."

"No," said Methos. "It's Mulder's."

Salle des Armes, Mayfair
11 AM, June 11, 2040

"Enough of the basics," Methos told his unwilling companion after forty
 minutes of kata. "Let's try something with ... an edge to it."

It was Sunday morning; somewhere nearby church bells were being rung to
 celebrate the conclusion of morning service. The salle was closed for the day,
 and the only people occupying the long, mirrored practice room were two
 Immortals. Methos picked up their swords from where they were propped against
 the wainscoting and offered Mulder his.

"How long has it been?" he enquired, stepping back and twirling his blade

Mulder stood, sword in hand,  doing nothing to prepare for the exercise.
 "Since the morning she died."

"Did she like to watch you?"


"They often do."

"Can I ask you a question?" Mulder said suddenly. "Something personal?"

"You can ask," replied Methos. "You might not get an answer."

"How many mortal women have you loved?"

"I don't know. A great many. I stopped counting long ago."

"How do you handle the loss?"

Methos shrugged. "You just do. No matter how long you're with them, the time
 is always too short. So you mourn them and go on. You don't forget them, but
 over time, the faces blur and--"

"I have an eidetic memory," Mulder whispered.

The Immortal looked the question.

"Photographic memory. Anything I see, I remember, always. Picture perfect."

"Ah," said Methos. "So is it a blessing or a curse?"

"I don't know." Mulder shifted his feet into an approximation of the correct
 stance and held up his katana. "Let's get this over with, okay? Mac wants the
 window trim painted today."

Methos sketched a courtly bow. "A votre service."

They circled one another warily, blades at the ready, until Mulder, weary of
 waiting for something to happen, lunged toward Methos, who parried

"That was sloppy," he informed the younger man. "Sloppy will get you killed."

Mulder shrugged.

They went at it again, in near-deadly earnest. Wounds opened and closed. Blood
 flowed, mostly from Mulder.

"So what is it with you?" Methos asked as they dueled. "Are you feeling
 suicidal because she's gone? Is that why you haven't kept up the practice?"

 Mulder's said nothing and continued to press his attack.

"Have you played the suicide game yet?" Methos skipped out of harm's way as
 Mulder thrust at him again. "You know, the one with sharp knives? You keep
 cutting yourself: a nick here, a slice there. We all do it sometime, you

Any response Mulder might have made was expressed through his sword: He
 slashed and hacked with no regard for finesse. Methos eluded him easily.

"Do you know what nettles are, Mulder? Of course you do, you've lived in the
 country. You've turned your grief into a blanket of nettles and wrapped it
 around yourself like a second skin. Is it cozy in there, just you and the

Mulder moved forward two paces, thrust again, retreated.

"Is she worth all this agony you're causing yourself?" Methos allowed his
 voice to become soft and mocking. "Because she was just a Mortal, after all.
 No one special."

"She was special to me."

Step, step. Thrust. "Why?"

"Because she loved me!"

"And you think you'll never find that kind of love again? Listen to me, boy--"

Mulder lowered his sword. "Look, do you want to talk or practice? Because if
 you're going to talk, I'm walking away from this right now."

"Are you?" The older Immortal grinned derisively. "Seems to me that's what
 you've wanted to do all along."

"I don't know what you mean."

Methos poked at the center of Mulder's chest with the tip of his sword,
 piercing t-shirt and skin and drawing blood. "You're just hanging about
 waiting for someone to chop off your head for you."

"Am I?"  

"Do you really want to die, Mulder? So you can be with her again in the
 afterlife? Is that what she would want?" Shifting his sword to his other hand,
 Methos invaded Mulder's personal space, shoving him backwards with short,
 brutal jabs of his hand. "I can help you, you know, if that's what you want."

"Stop it."


"Just lop off your head for you and that's the end of it." 



"MacLeod seems to think you might be worth saving. Can't see it myself,
 though." Push. "I don't think you've got what it takes to be one of us." Push,
 push. "And I don't understand what Dana saw in you either, unless she couldn't
 do any better for herself." 

If Methos hadn't seen Mulder's jaw clench, he might have been in trouble. As
 it was he was barely able to get out of the way when the younger man went off
 like a bomb, and attacked him like a berserker.

"That's better!" shouted Methos, despite a deep cut in his upper left arm.

He fell back before the onslaught of the Japanese sword, ducking and parrying
 as though his life depended on it, as it indeed it might. However, once they
 reached the middle of the room, he took control of the fight again, pressing
 it until Mulder wearied and his footwork grew sloppy, his arm lax.

Still Mulder continued to fight, seemingly determined that one of them should
 lose his head that morning. He used every dirty trick MacLeod had ever taught
 him and few he had  figured out on his own. And then, with shocking
 suddenness, the fox-handled katana was knocked out of his hand. It flew across
 the room and buried the first inch of itself in the polished wooden floor
 where the weight of the hilt caused it to dip and sway like a pendulum.

Mulder stared at the man in front him, his eyes devoid of any emotion.

"Well?" Methos asked. "Do you want to die?"

Mulder knelt, sitting back on his heels and resting his hands on his thighs.
 Closing his eyes, he waited.

And felt the kiss of cool metal against his throat.  

"The Navajo have a saying." Methos' voice came from somewhere above and behind
 him. "No one is really dead so long as someone lives to remember. If you die,
 who will remember Dana Scully?"

Time ticked by, the seconds thick as honey in their passing as a series of
images darted through Mulder's mind: Scully as he had first seen her, pretty,
terribly young and far too innocent to actually be a federal agent, let alone
his partner ... her pale, bewildered face the morning she woke up from her
coma ... her smile when he had come out of his ... Scully naked beneath him,
laughing and reaching for him with both hands ... Images he had suppressed
since the day she had died.

"Dying's easy," Methos whispered. "Remembering's hard."

He remembered her teasing him about dusting her urn occasionally. And his
unspoken promise not to do anything stupid. Deliberately trying to lose his
head qualified as stupid. Scully would never forgive him.

Mulder opened his eyes. He reached up and used two trembling fingers to slowly
push the blade away from his throat.

"I want to remember," he said, and accepted Methos' hand to pull himself to his feet.

End of part 6 of 6: Renaissance 3: No More A-Roving