Stuff of Nightmares, The

by Pattie

Title: The Stuff of Nightmares
Author: Psttie
Rated: PG
Category: MA. MT. Vignette
Spoilers: Almost every pain and sorrow up to Season 6.
Archive: Gossamer, any other nice home. Please ask first. Disclaimer. Not my characters or program. They belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox Studios. I have no money yet from writing fan fiction, and I do not intend any copyright infringement.

FBI Headquarters,
J. Edgar Hoover Building,
Washington, D.C.
Office of The X-Files

*It shouldn't have come to this. It shouldn't be so hard, he kept telling himself. Sooner or later, everything just piles up and you have to unload it or crack. But I'm strong enough not to crack. I just put it off to the side*.

"This isn't really necessary, Walter," he had insisted.

He was wrong. The pain, grief, anguish and guilt had been building up for years. And not just since he had begun his journey through The X-Files. No, this went much further back than that, and was deeper than his pain while searching for Scully after Duane Barry had taken her.

He sat in the office waiting until it was time to head upstairs to see the Social Worker. Yes, Employee Services had an excellent counselor in Karen Kosoff. No, Mulder didn't think he needed her Yes, Scully had spoken to her on a number of occasions about her fear of letting Mulder down, especially since she had seen something she did not wish to believe due to her diagnosis of cancer.

He tapped a pencil on his desk. "Have I ever let you down, Scully?"

"Mulder, you've always been there for me. Where's that coming from?" Scully softly asked.

"Oh, I guess somewhere inside me. I think Dr, Kosoff would probably say that."

"Mulder, we agreed to trust each other, to watch each other's backs, but THIS, this I can't help you with. You know that. I'm a Forensic Pathologist, I'm your personal physician, and Im your friend as well as partner, I'm even your phone pal when you can't sleep. But I can't counsel you. You know that."

"Yeah. Old Spooky, stressed out from all the ghosties and ghoulies..."

"Now you stop that!" She loudly and sternly ordered her partner. "You never take time for a vacation. I doubt you take much time out for yourself at all. That may make you very dedicated to the point of exhaustion, but I know you're even more emotionally constipated since Melissa, and your father died. There's a time when one day, even the most clever of people need to stop convincing themselves they can deny their pain. Do yourself and me; ME Mulder, a favor and get the help you need." She paused for a moment and walked over to his side, bending down to look into his eyes. "Hey, there's only one of you, partner. I think you've grown on me." She touched his hand lightly, reassuringly. "Time to go upstairs."

"Yeah." He stood and walked to the door. Turning, he smiled sarcastically and said, "If I'm not in by 11:21, feed my fish?"

Scully smiled softly. "Be back by 5:00 and I'll buy you dinner. Go on... "

Mulder knocked on Karen Kosoff's office door reluctantly.

"Come in, Agent Mulder. I've been waiting for you..."

"Said the spider to the fly..." he mumbled.

"Please, sit down. Just make yourself comfortable." She grabbed her note pad and pen, taking a seat as well. "I understand you have a very interesting job, Fox."

"Mulder. Call me Mulder."

"Mulder. What brings you here today?"

"I guess you could say, I've been told anyway, that I need to let go of a lot of things. I... umm.. I'm not really that comfortable being on the other side of the writing pad."

"That's understandable. You have a degree in psychology, you're a profiler, and you're used to interviewing people. But, we're here to talk about you, not your role as it pertains to your training. Is there anything you'd like to start with that has made an impact on your life? Perhaps something very stressful? Disappointing? Tragic?"

"Pick one," he answered rather cynically. "I don't know where to start. A person is born, has a childhood, siblings, maybe just one, and then the world changes... " he was standing now, pacing and ready to (verbally?)violently lash out. "...And dammit, there is NO WAY you would ever believe, ever imagine in your wildest dreams, what I have seen, heard and been exposed to! And some of the knowledge I've gained I do not welcome as it cannot be shared! Perhaps with my partner, but certainly not with anyone else!"

"Please, Fox. Sit down. Tell me about your partner. I take it you trust her implicitly." Kosoffs voice was soft and supportive, almost hypnotic.

"Yes. I trust her with my life. Scully... " His expression and tone softened. "She is the only person I trust totally. She has been a life saver, a nurse, a shield... she is my back-up and a damn good sport about all my crap, about all the things she's been through these past few years with me... "

"At the Office and in person?"

"Yeah. Yeah, damn good friend."

"Does she know all the pain you're still going through?"

"She's gone through enough pain herself... "

"We're talking about you, Fox."

"Mulder!" he sharply commanded. "I'm sorry. Please just call me Mulder, okay?"

"Okay. You want to protect her from your pain? You don't want to share much of it with her?"

"I have caused her so much pain! Don't you see? God, if you could have seen her limp body lying there in the hospital bed after they brought her back. Just dumped her at the hospital. And it's all because of some deal my father, his cronies and his best friend cooked up in 1947... "

"You're... not on good terms with your Dad, are you, Mulder?"

"He's dead now. Dr. Kosoff. After what I found out after his death, sometimes I wonder if I would have killed him myself. Things were done, agreements were made that were so... evil, unthinkable. I go by Mulder so that one day I can erase all that's been done with his name. So that perhaps some of our ancestors as well as me can be Proud of our name. And, I hate "Fox" because he named me."

"And do you blame your father for your sister's apparent disappearance in 1973?"

"Disappearance!?" he laughed. "How ironic! It was STAGED! And there wasn't a thing I could do about it. The agreement. And while they were out killing my father, they wanted to get Scully, but they killed her sister instead. My quest has left a lot of bodies in its wake."

"You think so."

"I KNOW so."

"You didn't pull the trigger, you didn't have your sister taken..."

Mulder's eyes welled up with tears. "I didn't have the courage to get my father's gun and stop them!"

"You were a twelve-year-old boy. You were scared. You were normal," Dr. Kosoff tried to reassure him. "A boy. A boy who could never imagine the dangers anyone could face in their own home. How could you stop such powerful people, if they were as evil and determined as you say?"

"I couldn't. But I should have been able to." The sobs kept coming.

"Mulder... most of all, I think you loved your sister very much. And I think you know that. And you miss her."

"I still need to find her. I still have nightmares about that night."

"If you can do that, will it solve all your problems?"

"Not really. But it will be a start. And I can't rest knowing that I was responsible for the death of Scully's sister, that it could have been Scully, or both of them. God, how do I do it!" Mulder rubbed his eyes. "I've got to find Samantha."

"Then don't lose your vision. Just remember, you have yourself to look after. You have the Employee Services Office, where I can counsel as you need it. And you have a very special partner."

"Very special," Mulder echoed.

"How special?" Kosoff smiled.

"You too, huh? The rumor mill? The office pool?"

"No, Agent. Just common sense. And some intuition."

"It shows, doesn't it?" Mulder wasn't ready to admit that at all even to himself.

"Don't punish yourself for being a caring man with feelings and desires. As for the policy and protocol around here, many people have ways around that. Our time is up. I think we've made progress, Mulder. I'd like to see you in a week or so if your schedule permits."

Mulder looked at his shoes. "I don't know. I'll have to think about it. I know I was ordered here today, but you don't want nightmares from some of the things I have to say."

"I am trained very well, you know. I put it all in my files and lock the grief away."

"Nice to know YOU can," he replied. "I have work to do. I'll call you to arrange another session."

"I'm here to help," she replied. As he shut the door, she was certain of one thing: this was one man who was hurting, and had a very caring partner in Dana Katherine Scully. Would he be back?

Mulder was wondering the very same thing. Perhaps it would be helpful; perhaps the baggage would still be there. Or perhaps, Scully could help him carry things when they became too heavy to bear. All he knew now was that he wanted an intimate dinner with his partner, and no bad memories bothering him.


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