characters belong to Chris Carter, FOX and/or 1013. This work was for love, not for profit. It is intended as an homage, not an infringement.
NOTES: This was written for the After
the Fact "Alpha" challenge. It is both a post-ep and my vision of the Mulder/Karin backstory. Thanks to Sixth Extinction for the
cautionary tale that inspired this.
The living, breathing shrubbery outside
my window was
seized with a sudden panic at It shook and
trembled against the fenestration, whispering in hushed
voices the determinant of its distress. "So close, so close," it
sibilated in terror.
I sat up in bed and reached for my weapon.
"What the hell do you think you are going to shoot at, Agent
Mulder?" I asked myself with irritation. This type of phantom
doesn't fall in its tracks when you strike it with a hollow-point
bullet. The unnamed demon that has been hounding me all
week has yet to show its loathsome face, but I know it lies in
A chill ran across my bare shoulders, from right scapula to
left. I shivered and rubbed my nape in vexation. My yellow
pajama bottoms were thin and made of cotton, so why was I
perspiring? "So close, so close," the wind continued to
whisper in fear.
"Fuck this!" Whatever it is, I'm ready to take it on. A bolt of
masculine aggression ripped through me with hammering
force. I wanted to break something, to tear it apart with my
bare hands. Sometimes I revel in that uniquely territorial
feeling, the one that reminds me of our primitive evolutionary
ancestry. Tonight it served nothing but to damn me. Kicking
off the covers, I stood and closed the bedroom drapes,
blocking out nature's savage susurration.
Out in my living room, a cold beer in hand, I sat at my desk
and resigned myself to another sleepless night. I considered
calling Scully, just to hear her sleepy voice in my ear, but
dismissed the thought in an instant. In the cover of
darkness, it was easy to confess things I might later regret.
A longing for her, so pure and intense, was piercing my gut.
Instead, I booted up the laptop.
The greeting came almost immediately. "Hi, FM.
late. Care to join our chat?" I smiled and replied with a
quick hello. "Gosh, we haven't seen you in weeks," she
added. It was an on-line friend, not unlike Karin. My smile
faded as I thought of her. Regret lodged a heavy stone in
my heart. She made the ultimate sacrifice to catch
Detweiler, but it was an unnecessary one. Why bother
calling me out to California if she wasn't going to let me do
my job? The muscles in my arms flexed in frustration. What
a waste of brilliance.
I quickly shut down the computer, unable to face any of my
It all started out so innocently. I love talking with people who
share my interests, whose hearts bear the same questions,
and whose minds wrestle with the same doubts. At first, I
was surprised to find kindred spirits on-line. I seriously
struggled with the concept of projection. Was I seeing in
them only what I wanted to see? Look hard enough at a
grain of rice and you'll find Buddha's face etched on it,
Mulder. I thought myself a fool for becoming so attached to
this small group of people I had never even met.
Early on, I was determined not to reveal my real name. I
maintained a strictly separate persona under which I could
play around with hypotheses and posit my less-than-
accepted theories. To my surprise, the friends I found on-
line were willing to go even further out on a limb than I
would. They were smart, funny, and full of well-reasoned
ideas, yet open to extreme possibilities.
And they flirted with me. Have I mentioned that part yet? All
six of them flirted with me, some more shamelessly than
others. I am grinning now, as I sit here, embarrassed to
think of how much I enjoyed that aspect. There were not
many men in these groups, for reasons I have yet to
comprehend. I suppose I was an oddity from the start, but
they accepted me and grew to crave my company as much
as I loved theirs. Of course, I am not blind; I know one or
two of them craved me in a way that can only be described
as blatantly sexual. Their advances were overwhelmingly
flattering. Words, words... they could be so powerful in ways
I had never before considered. I admit I was curious about
how far my words could go. Not that a woman's arousal
three thousand miles away had anything but a superficial
connection to my words on a computer screen. All of the
power lies in the woman's mind. Still, I shake my head in
I staunchly refused to let any of this feather my ego. No
doubt they were simply intrigued by the mysterious man who
seemed to know so much about the paranormal. I guess
they were impressed by the manner in which I spoke of our
shared obsession. Unlike most men, I am respectful of the
unexplained, of things which leave me feeling powerless.
And I am downright reverential of truths unexplored. There
is a literary romanticism about it all which, sadly, few men
They all agreed that I sounded vaguely familiar, like a
character from a book or a television show. This confirmed
my suspicion that my friends were engaging in some
peculiar sort of shared fantasy about my true identity as a
fictional character. The psychologist in me was having a
field day with that concept. Just how far was pop culture
taking group dynamics? And was I a pig for capitalizing on
it? No question about it, I scoffed at myself.
I confess. I played it up. It was not hard to sound like a
fictional character that I, too, admired. There was a lot of me
in that character to begin with, not to mention I share many
of his beliefs. I enjoyed giving my friends a thrill, but they
knew it wasn't real. A wink and a nod to a poetic figment of
the imagination. No harm could possibly come of it, or so I
What really threw me for a loop was that most of them had
actually heard of me. Special Agent Fox Mulder of the FBI's
X-Files division was a mythical character that fell only slightly
below that fictional hero of their fantasies, in the grand
scheme of things. What a laugh. I was thoroughly
chagrined, however, to discover how much they knew about
me. The power of the internet is a double- edged sword.
They studied my curriculum vitae like a rock star's
discography. They had seen pictures of me on websites I
never even knew existed. I suppose I would be flattered, if I
didn't know the truth about this Mulder guy they were talking
about. If ever a hopeless case existed...
Quite a few of them derided me, you know. As I said, on any
given day, most of them would go even further out on a limb
than I would, not knowing the limitations I faced in real life.
They thought Fox Mulder was a coward for not using every
advantage at his disposal, not the least of which were his
gun and his badge. They criticized my choices and
denounced my actions, not knowing I was right there in the
room with them. Frankly, it hurt to hear this from people I
like and respect. I am used to the taunts of others in the
Bureau and in the public at large; their words just roll off my
back. But this judgment from my friends felt unreasonably
harsh. I forced myself to listen, telling myself it was
Anyway, this was but a small part of the greater whole: rich
conversations shared among intelligent, like-minded people.
For a while, we had that rare and perfect amalgamation of
friends who gathered in one place to talk about everything
and nothing. It was amazing to behold. And none of us
could get enough of it. One by one, we formed real
friendships with one another. We all let down our guards. I
felt honored to be included in this impressive group when I
realized who they were in real life. They, on the other hand,
were not the least bit surprised when I finally introduced
myself by name. I laughed as I realized that, by then, they
had me all figured out.
"Have you ever heard of the Wanshang Dhole?" Karin's
question came out of the blue one night last week. She
intrigued me. I cannot believe how much I learned from her
and from the others.
I miss her so much, I finally admit to myself. I miss all of my
on-line friends, but especially Karin. She was a good friend,
one whom I had no idea held deeper feelings for me. I
handled that all wrong, the voice of my own guilt taunted me,
as I ran my hands through my hair in dismay. I should have
anticipated this happening. I should have prepared for the
possibility, however remote. Instead, it took me by surprise
and I fucked it up, but good.
Karin was a single woman isolated by circumstances and
susceptible to romantic notions of fate. She sounds a lot like
me, actually - filled with visions of past lives and soul mates
seeking each other out through the centuries. For that
reason, I never dared flirt with her, except in the most
chivalrous of ways. I was always impeccably mannered, and
respectful of her boundaries to a fault. All we did was talk
about human nature and the world at large. Damn it, how did
this happen? I felt betrayed. How much of our bonding was
ever about friendship?
On lonely nights like this, when old ghosts haunted me, and
my desire for Scully was not to be assuaged, Karin was the
one friend I could always turn to for comfort. She was three
hours behind me on the west coast and invariably still awake
when my insomnia struck. We conversed for hours on end,
almost every night. She understood me, or so I thought. I
guess I thought I understood her, too. Clearly, I was
The bottle of beer sat undrunk on my desk, condensation
gathering around its base. I stared at it for a full minute
before finally picking up the phone.
"Mulder, what time is it?" She asked me in a sleepy voice.
"I'm sorry to wake you in the middle of the night, Scully, but I
can't rest. Something has been weighing heavily on my
mind. I...I need to ask you now, before I lose my nerve."
I could hear her breath holding on the other end of the line.
"How would you have handled that situation if you were in
my shoes, Scully? What if you had a friend who had feelings
for you that went beyond mere friendship?" I did not have to
tell her I was referring to Karin Berquist. She knew.
"How...how would you...I mean, what if I came to you...?"
My voice drifted off in dismay. I did not intend to reveal that
"Mulder, I would not know what to do either," she said softly.
"It was a difficult dilemma, but I think you handled it as well
as can be expected. Granted, I'm not in the same situation
that you were in." A long pause and a whisper, "In our case,
the feelings are reciprocated."
The soft click of the phone registered in my ear distantly, as
if the first communiquE from an unknown universe. I could
feel time and space bending around me, every molecule of
my being vibrating at a lower frequency. There was a little
smile in her voice that was on continuous loop in my head.
Not the words. Just the smile. Unspoken emotions were
radiating from my soul, spinning prismatically, one
I walked into my bedroom and opened the drapes before
climbing back into bed.
The living, breathing shrubbery outside my window was
shimmying again in a sudden joyful dance. It swung and
quivered against the fenestration, whispering in hushed
voices the determinant of its delight. "So close, so close," it
sibilated in anticipation.