Archive: Gossamer and Ephemeral – No. I will submit
directly. Anyone else is more than welcome. Please let
me know where.
Spoilers: The Erlenmeyer Flask, Pilot and much of the
mytharc from S1.
Disclaimer: The characters within are the creations of
Chris Carter. No infringement intended.
Summary: After five years of partnership, Mulder learns
of Scully’s unexpected betrayal.
Author’s Notes: Oceans of gratitude to Sallie for the
inspiring beta and for the fantastic contribution to the
end of the story. I appreciate it more than I can say.
More notes at the end.
“Fox, there’s something you need to know.”
Mulder turns to face Diana Fowley. She licks her lips
nervously and shifts her weight to the other foot as she
stands before him in his living room. “Something that’s
going to hurt, but I think you deserve to hear.”
“What is it?”
“It’s about Agent Scully,” she begins seriously. “It’s
about the people she’s working with. The people she’s
been working with since the very beginning.”
Mulder swallows hard, not sure if he wants to hear the
rest. Knots twist in his stomach as the silence stretches
on. “Go on,” he rasps out.
“I’ve received information that she’s been in league with
the cigarette smoking man.” She shakes her head
sympathetically. “She has been since before you even
He closes his eyes and swallows hard. It can’t be true, he
thinks. I won’t believe it.
“Do you have proof?”
“This afternoon, the smoking man came to my office,
offering to make a deal. I refused. He then tried to
persuade me by telling me of Agent Scully’s
involvement in what he called ‘the project’.”
He shakes his head vehemently. “He’s lying. There’s no
way she’d do that.”
Diana reaches up to cup his face. “I’m sorry, Fox. It’s
true. Why else would she be so eager and willing to
discredit your life’s work, work that’s important to
exposing the conspiracy? You have to look inside
yourself and think. Think back to all the times she has
gone out of her way to prove you wrong. Now think
about how many times those actions have aided the
Consortium.” Her eyes search his, hoping for
understanding. It hurts her to do this to him, to see the
pain in his eyes, but she can’t forget that it’s for his own
“I- I think I need some time alone, please,” he finally
says. She nods and gathers her coat and purse.
“Call me if you need anything,” she says, then gives him
a reassuring squeeze on the arm before leaving.
Mulder sinks into the couch and lies back against the
cushions, unwilling to give in to the sudden urge to
punch something. It’s a lie, he thinks. It’s becoming a
mantra, chanted over and over in his head. He throws an
arm over his eyes in a futile effort to fend off the
He searches his memory for proof of her infidelity. For
that’s what it is – unfaithfulness in the sanctity of their
unique relationship. He can think of nothing worse than
the blow that’s been dealt him.
The phone rings and he blows out a deep sigh.
“Yeah,” he croaks out.
“Mulder, it’s Frohike,”
“Now’s not a good time, Frohike.”
Silence, followed by an uncertain, “Look, Mulder –
there’s something you need to see.”
Mulder leans forward. “What is it?”
“I’d rather not say over the —“
“What. Is. It?” he enunciates. He’s in no mood for
vagueness or the Conspiracy Du Jour.
“It’s- it’s Scully.”
Mulder pinches the bridge of his nose, half wanting to
stop the man from finishing.
“It’s the damnedest thing, actually,” Frohike laughs
nervously. “Remember how we found nada against her
when you two were first partnered up? Well, a buddy of
ours came across something — unexpected.”
He snorts again, more uneasy than Mulder could ever
recall hearing him before. “Total coincidence, if you can
“Wh-,” Mulder clears his throat, then pauses before
trying again. He doesn’t want to hear the fear in his own
voice, but it’s too late. Neither man wants to know this
new discovery. “What is it?”
Scully shimmies the key into the lock as she balances
two grocery bags in her arms. With a little “oomph!” she
manages to unlock the door and turn the handle, nearly
losing her balance in the process. One bag tries to slide
down the silken fabric of her suit to the ground, but she
grasps it just in time. The last thing she wants to do is
spend the evening cleaning glass and red wine out of her
Sitting her burden down on the console table, she turns
on a light. A figure sits deadly still in the armchair now
awash with light and she jumps.
“Mulder!” she gasps. “You scared the life out of me!
What are you doing here?”
Mulder says nothing, but rises from his chair and stalks
“Mulder? What’s going on?” She takes in his mussed
hair and wild eyes tinged in red, his quiet and purposeful
stride. For the first time, she feels something akin to fear
“Why’d you do it, Scully? How could you?” he finally
And she knows. Sins of the past come rushing toward
her, burying her in the guilt she’s suffered since day one.
He puts a hand up. “Don’t. I, uh-“ he huffs a short laugh
out and shakes his head. “I don’t think I can take another
lie from you.”
She looks away, unable to stand the reflection of her
betrayal in his eyes. She feels like such a coward.
“Just – tell me it isn’t true, Scully. Tell me this photo is
a fake.” He silently pleads with her to deny it, so they
can go on, unscathed.
He holds up a picture of her, looking so fresh and
young. She’s standing in front of a pond, speaking to the
cigarette smoking man. Ages ago, it seems. She’s not
the trusting fool she once was. Unfortunately, she
learned her lesson too late.
“I can’t,” she whispers.
His eyes darken and he takes a step forward. “Then, it’s
true,” he says flatly.
She’s once again nervous, wondering what he’s going to
do even as she thinks she deserves his wrath. Taking a
step back, she responds, “Yes.”
He takes another step forward. “Why?” he demands.
“It’s not exactly what it seems, Mulder,” she says,
taking another step back.
“Oh? Then what is it? What did he offer you? Money?
Power?” He spits the words, each delivered with a
hatred she’s never seen before. She fights the nausea
swirling within her and takes another step back.
“Let me explain,” she begins weakly.
He runs a hand through his hair and laughs again,
mirthlessly. He’s on edge and she knows it. “Please do,
“He came to me the day before my reassignment to the
X-Files, with NSA credentials. He showed me proof that
he was operating on a high level of power and I believed
him.” She looks up at Mulder. “At the time, I had no
reason to think otherwise.”
He says nothing, so she continues.
“I don’t think I need to tell you that I was raised to have
a healthy respect for authority. I was young and green.
Had no idea what I was about to get myself into.” She
sighs and sidles over to sit on the couch. Mulder doesn’t
“He said it was a matter of national security; that I was
to cooperate – to reign you in because you were a threat.
I wasn’t exactly comfortable with that, but you can
appreciate the position I was in.” She glances to the side,
where he stands. He isn’t even looking at her now.
“At first, it was just a matter of wording my reports in a
way that was satisfactory to them. I was – conflicted –
because I wanted to do my job honestly, but also wanted
to do my part for the security of my country.”
“So you made a deal with the devil.” He states blandly.
She shifts in her seat. “Mulder, you can’t imagine how
many times I’ve wanted to tell you. I never thought
you’d understand. Not after all he’s put us through.”
He turns to look at her. “You were right,” he says
disgustedly, then walks over to the chair. Sitting down,
he continues. “So, how long have you been on his
She glares at him. “I was never on his payroll, Mulder.
My God! What do you think I am?”
“How long have you have you been working for him?”
he shouts. She resists the reflexive instinct to cringe and
looks into his angry eyes.
“I stopped just after Deep Throat was shot; after Doctor
Carpenter’s family was killed because of her
involvement with us. I couldn’t take it anymore. It was
going past matters of security and even I could see that
there was a hidden agenda at work.”
He leans forward in his seat and steeples his hands,
resting his forehead on it. His eyes are squeezed shut
and all Scully can think is how the pain of her
dishonesty is a palpable presence. The room is thick
“I sensed something was wrong from the beginning,
Mulder. The stolen body, the fire in the motel… I
learned quickly that they’d stop at nothing to keep our
work from advancing.”
“My work. It was never our work, was it?” he says
Scully’s eyes glaze over with tears, but she will not let
them fall. Not here, especially not now, when tears can
be misconstrued as something else.
“You didn’t trust me then,” she continues hoarsely.
“You have no idea how much I wanted you to be able to.
Every suspicious glance was like an accusation. I felt it,
Mulder. I suffered.”
“Looks like I had good reason not to trust you.”
She snaps her head up, eyes blazing. “What was I
supposed to do? He claimed to be NSA.” Her voice rises
as the anger mounts. “I never could’ve imagined what
we were up against! Do you honestly think I would have
gone along with this if I knew better? Do you? Because I
would hope you know me better than that, Mulder.”
He stands, glaring down at her. “That’s just it! I don’t
know you. I never did. You say you were tricked. Well,
why did it take Diana to tell me about this if you’re
Incredulous shock comes over her. Standing to be on
equal ground, she lowers her voice to a deadly calm.
“Diana? As in Agent Fowley? Let me get this straight,
Mulder. You got this information from Diana Fowley?”
“Yes, yes I did. So?”
She shakes her head. “So – you believed her, right?
Well, isn’t that nice. I’m sure she had quite a bit of proof
to show you, considering she works for that chain-
smoking bastard herself.”
“Don’t try to turn the tables here. You’re the one who’s
lied to me for the past five years!”
She snatches the photo and envelope off the arm of the
chair Mulder just abandoned. Her last name scrawled on
the front is in Langly’s unmistakable script.
Her heart drops. “It doesn’t really matter anyway, does
it?” she asks, voice flat. “Your loyalty never did lie with
me. Tell me, Mulder – did she even offer you proof?”’
He says nothing.
She looks at him, astounded. “You took her at her word,
didn’t you? I offer you concrete evidence that she might
be involved, and you tell me I’m taking things
personally. She takes a sudden interest in my
involvement, and you run to the Gunmen? You aren’t
thinking, Mulder! The woman is a part of all this.”
“You don’t know anything about her, Scully! The fact
remains that you are a liar and a traitor and you’ll stop at
nothing to deflect the blame from you!”
“No, Mulder,” she counters. “The fact remains that I
called her out and she’ll do anything to twist you against
me. If anyone’s deflecting blame here, it’s her.”
He glares at her. She stands her ground, staring defiantly
into his narrowed eyes. He doesn’t say another word,
just grabs his coat and strides angrily to the door,
slamming it behind him as he goes.
She sinks into heap on her chair, distraught beyond
compare. She fears it’s the end for them; that Diana and
the smoking man have finally won. And she has no one
to blame but herself.
Silent tears fall down her cheeks.
He can’t sleep. The pain is unimaginable.
He recognizes that he’s world-weary and without
anything left to look forward to. Everything he’s ever
held sacred has been a joke, a complete sham.
Light floods his darkened living room and he sees her
black silhouette in the doorway. She enters silently,
never bothering to knock.
“It was unlocked,” she says.
“Just leave,” he says, and his voice cracks on it. Another
She doesn’t go, but comes to sit on the floor next to him
instead. They are quite a sight – both sitting on the hard
wood, backs against the couch and legs drawn near.
Mulder holds his head in his hands, as he has since
coming home. A glass full of whiskey sits on the table,
untouched, and there’s nothing to illuminate them but
the soft glow of the moon as it streams through the
A long silence falls over the room once more. Scully
reaches for the glass and puts it to her lips, draining it.
Mulder looks at her curiously and laughs. The sound is
half-hearted and broken.
“So, this is it, huh?” he says. His head snaps up
suddenly, eyes flashing in the dim moonlight. “I won’t
quit, you know. Just because of – of this,” he waves his
hand at her. “You can take that back to your boss.”
She sighs wearily. “Mulder, please just let me explain.”
“Explain,” he repeats. “Explain away, Agent Scully.”
She bites her lip hearing the condescension in his voice,
the underlying disgust. She thinks he must hate her for
what she’s done. She thinks he should hate her.
“As I said, he came to me claiming security of the nation
was at risk because of your work on the X-Files. He said
you were dangerous, an anarchist of sorts who would
see the government brought to its knees. Everything was
a conspiracy to you, he said.”
She pauses and Mulder remains silent.
“Much of what he said made no sense to me, but I
agreed to assist him.”
“Ever the dutiful daughter,” he mumbles under his
Anger flares in her, but she pushes it down. “I didn’t see
I had much choice in the matter, Mulder.”
Taking a breath, she continues. “He said he would have
little contact with me from there on out, so imagine how
surprised I was to see him in Blevins’ office the next
day, just as I was told of my reassignment to the X-
Mulder sits up straight. “He was in Blevins’ office? Do
you have any idea what this means? He was in it from
She nods. “It’s just what you had suspected all along.
When I turned in my first report, I was called into a
meeting where I got the distinct impression that I was
being coached on how to handle my reports. They all
knew, Mulder. I was completely out of my league. Yet I
there I was, in the thick of things, trudging blindly
through with nothing but a sense of doing the right thing
to guide me.
“Very soon, I knew something was wrong. All of a
sudden we were being bugged. Things we’re being
covered up that by all rights should’ve been public
knowledge. I saw one military family after another being
destroyed in their wake. Everything I thought I knew
was going to hell, and I was a part of the destruction. It
didn’t take long to realize I was there to do their dirty
“After Dr. Carpenter’s death, I saw how far they were
willing to go to cover up their sins. The whole family,
Mulder. They were all in that car. She didn’t deserve
what was done to her. None of them did.”
“I spoke to the smoking man that night, after what I saw
at Fort Marlene and Deep Throat’s assassination. I told
him I wanted nothing more to do with him, that I would
not make a contribution to their despicable cause. He
just laughed at me, told me it was a little late to have an
attack of conscience. Finally, he agreed to have no more
contact with me,” she shakes her head slightly. “I was
such a fool to believe that.”
“Two weeks later, they shut us down. It was my fault –
he wanted to prove a point to me. But I continued to
help you in your search. For that, I paid dearly.”
Mulder looks at her, eyes wide in disbelief. “Your
abduction,” he croaks.
She nods. “It was my punishment. Mulder, you have to
believe that I did nothing to intentionally hurt you. I
knew about as much as you did about their plans. The
difference was that I agreed to help keep you in line.”
“Wasn’t that enough?” he asks. He wants to believe her
so badly. Part of him wishes she’d taken the out he’d
given her, wishes he’d never heard her utter these words.
She was pushed off her high pedestal this night.
How can what they had be restored, now that he knows
“Deep Throat tried to warn me once about you, you
know. He told me that nothing is just what it seems.” He
says. The accusation lacks the conviction he felt just
“Mulder, you can’t fathom the guilt I’ve carried over
this. There were times when I could barely look you in
the eye. And in the beginning, I was sure you could see
right through me.”
He chortles, but it’s an empty effort. “I had no idea,
Scully. You were a great actress. I came to think you
were someone I could trust, absolutely.”
She lays a hand lightly on his arm. “You can, Mulder.
I’ve spent the rest of our partnership determined to make
it up to you. I thought, if only I could help you. If only I
could fight harder for the truth…”
She removes her hand and looks away, trying to hide the
raw misery in her face.
He looks away as well. It’s too hard to be in the same
room with her, while violent swings of emotion conflict
with each other. He feels almost guilty for being angry
with her. It makes no sense, but the wounds are so fresh.
He’s not used to feeling this way toward her.
Mulder remembers a time when she said he was the only
one that she trusted. He recalls yet another conversation,
and something he’d missed before. Something that
nudges its way into his consciousness now, demanding
“I have never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to
a belief as you. It’s so intense that sometimes it’s
blinding. But there are others who are watching, who
know what I know and whereas I can respect and admire
your passion, they will use it against you. Mulder, the
truth is out there, but so are lies.”
She was trying to warn him. She’d been trying to warn
him all along.
Countless times, she could’ve sabotaged his efforts.
How many times had he trespassed on government
property, Scully in tow – even when she was strictly
against it? How many times had she stood steadfastly by
his side, staring boldly into the faces that would see their
She has covered his ass, regardless of the irreparable
damage to her career. She has suffered the loss of her
only sister and the ability to bear children. She was
abducted, given cancer and made to be their guinea pig.
The miracle child she came to love instantly, ripped
from her. They even robbed her of the peace of burial.
She has lost so much, he thinks. More than anyone
should have to bear. And yet, she does bear it. He can’t
imagine a person like the one sitting beside him working
for the very people who have put her through such
misery. Has she not redeemed herself? Has she not paid
for her indiscretions?
She looks at him, eyes wet and wide, pleading for
understanding. He can see she’s scared. He is too. But
he thinks that maybe, just maybe, they can get past this.
He thinks he can live with what he has found out
tonight, though the journey back to trust will be a rough
one. It will be worth the effort.
Reaching over tentatively, he wipes a tear off her cheek
with his thumb. She sighs deeply, closing her eyes as
she rests a shaking hand over his.
“It’ll take some time,” he says softly.
Eyes still closed, she whispers, “I understand.”
A promise, unspoken and strong passes between them.
He hopes it’s enough.
~ The End ~
Notes: This, of course, is a “what if” story. When
viewed at the right angle, many of Scully’s actions in
Season One can look suspicious. It’s in the subtleties – a
look on her face or her mannerisms at a critical moment.
Look closely and you’ll see what I mean. Just my
contribution to an old theme.