Welcome To The Harem
Love Itself by David Hearne
Summary: Post-col. Part of the Leonard Cohen collection of stories.
TITLE: LOVE ITSELF (1 of 1)
AUTHOR: DAVID HEARNE
SPOILERS: Mythology in general
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Leonard Cohen seems to be the inner voice of "The X-Files." When I
heard "In My Secret Life," I thought, "What a perfect MSR song." I
knew that I would write a fic based on the song, even though it ended
up being about William.
"In My Secret Life" comes off Cohen's latest album. I've been
listening to the other songs and feeling inspired by them as well. I
decided to write a series of stories based on this album. Each fic can
be read independently as well as in the order in which they were
written. All of them are set in the post-colonization world.
Cohen's lyrics are quoted at the end.
Gibson Praise remembered when the mind of Fox Mulder had been a
tornado. Mythological references, supermarket tabloid stories,
conspiracy theories, serial killer profiles, porn starlets, television
reruns, Carl Jung and Aleister Crowley spun together in his thoughts.
Every tornado had a still center, though. A dark-haired girl last seen
in a blast of light could be found in Mulder's center. Standing next
to her was a red-haired woman.
The red-haired woman remained the center of Mulder's thoughts, only
gray was now mixed with the red. The tumult of strange facts and
conjectures Gibson had heard long ago was absent. In another man, the
end of such thoughts would be a sign of growth; it would indicate a
more focused, more mature person.
However, as Gibson had observed a thousand different times, the
exteriors of people rarely matched the interiors of their minds.
Mulder's mind was calm, but it was the calm of an ocean where a man
floated alone miles from shore. Mulder rested because he had exhausted
himself. Gibson didn't know why he was in this state; all he could see
now was the surface of Mulder's thoughts. Then, again, maybe he didn't
need to look deeper.
These were the impressions given to Gibson as he compared the Mulder
he saw in the fort's command center with the man he first met over a
decade ago. Physical differences were apparent -- a lesser hairline
and a plumper belly in the present -- but the mental differences
bothered Gibson more.
Mulder was sitting before one end of the scratched table used by the
Governors for meetings. His posture seemed relaxed, and his bearded
face smiled at Gibson when the younger man stepped into the command
"Hey, Gibson," he said. "You missed the meeting."
"I've never been to a meeting."
"Hm," Mulder said, scratching his beard. "Well, maybe you should come
"I wouldn't have anything to say."
Gibson's face showed discomfort. Mulder ignored his expression and
patted the old chair next to him. "Take a seat."
Gibson walked across the dirt floor and sat in the chair. He kept both
hands on the table. Mulder had one arm dangling over the back of his
chair and one near his lap.
"So," Mulder said, "have you heard the news?"
"No, I haven't."
"You're kidding. Is your mind-reading on the fritz or something?"
"No. It's just that I've learned not to pick up stray thoughts."
Mulder kept smiling. "Not even if someone is really trying to
broadcast them to you?" Mulder wiggled his fingers at Gibson and made
a 'wooooo-woooo' sound.
The older man lowered his hands. "Please what?"
"Please stop dicking around. We owe each other that much."
"Agreed. So please tell me what the hell you want to know." Mulder
spoke those words with the same amiable tone as before.
Gibson sighed, then said, "Is Scully leaving?"
"Yes." Mulder didn't hesitate from answering. He didn't stop smiling.
"Are you going with her?"
"Gots to. She be my woman."
"Do the other Governors know?"
"Just told them."
"Then...we're going to need a new Leader."
"Or two new Co-Leaders."
"Right. So who did you recommend?"
"I recommended nobody. The Governors and everybody else can hash that
"The Leader is going to need approval from you and Scully."
"He doesn't need anything from..."
Gibson slammed his fist onto the table. Mulder didn't look shocked.
"*You* started this settlement, *Fox*. Don't you have any fucking
opinions about how it's run?"
"Where did you learn those words, young man?" Mulder replied in a
Gibson groaned and placed his right hand over his eyes. He remained
quiet for a few moments, then said, "I was warned about this."
"That you're the kind of person who will abruptly surrender after
fighting a war for years."
"Hm. Maybe. Or maybe I've discovered the real battlefield."
Gibson lowered his hand and folded his arms over his chest. He looked
at Mulder with weariness. "And where is it?"
"Well, according to Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield. Right now,
though, it appears to be wherever the Wandering Child is."
"So you think he's your son."
Mulder aimed his eyes at the table's edge. "Scully thinks so."
Gibson slowly leaned forward with the chair creaking underneath him.
"But you don't believe that," he said. "You don't think the Child is
"Oh, no. It's William. I'm sure of it. William's just not my son."
Gibson released a long breath. "Well...maybe not. He is Scully's son,
Mulder kept staring at the table. And then...irresistibly...Gibson
snatched a memory from his mind...
"Jesus, Mulder," he exclaimed.
Mulder turned his gaze toward Gibson. "Hm? What?"
"What you said to Scully last night..."
Mulder looked at Gibson for one more second, then pushed back his
chair and stood up. He walked over to a rusty metal wall. With his
back turned to Gibson and his hands in the pockets of his stiched
jeans, he said --
"Scully was just the means by which William entered the world. He
represents something much larger than her desire to be a mother..."
"Oh, for God's sake..."
Mulder spun around and pointed a finger at Gibson. "I can't pretend
otherwise!" he declared in a suddenly loud voice. "I could only
pretend for the one night when..."
Mulder let his hand fall. When he spoke, his voice was softer. "I
could only pretend for the one night when I held him; when I kissed
her as I held him. In that moment, I thought, 'This *is* my child.
This is the child Scully and I made.'" He shook his head. "But William
was never mine."
"Again, that may be true," Gibson said in a firm voice. "But that
doesn't give you a right to tell Scully she's not William's mother."
Mulder leaned his back against the rusty wall. "It went wrong in the
clinic..." he mumbled.
"What did you say?"
"The clinic," Mulder said in a clearer voice. "The clinic where I
found Scully's ova. I didn't tell her about that. I had to wait
Mulder looked down at his shoes. "It's always been about trust between
me and Scully. At least, it should have been. But I left things out. A
lot of things." He raised his face. A parody of a grin stretched his
lips. "I spent a whole year *dying* and I didn't tell her."
Gibson studied the aged man in front of him, then said carefully, "But
up until now...you never told her your worst secret."
"And that is?"
"You wanted her to not be a mother. You never wanted to share her love
with a child. You needed her all for yourself."
"Wow," Mulder said in a flat voice. "It's like you're reading my
"I don't have to." Gibson stood up. "Mulder, you should step down as
"I'm going to."
"No, you *should* do it. There's something broken inside of you. I
don't know how it got broken. Samantha is the obvious reason,
but...whatever the cause, it can't be fixed. Not even the love of the
best woman you ever met could fix it."
Mulder dragged a hand through his beard. "I guess you're right. There
must be something wrong with me. After all, I'm tagging along with a
person who doesn't love me anymore."
"That's your problem."
"So when are you leaving?"
"In a couple of days."
"Mulder...it's the seventeenth of December."
"Wherever you're planning to go, you better get there quick. And
there's no fast transportation available."
"Like you said...that's my problem."
"All right. Before you leave, you should give your approval to me and
Marita as new Leaders."
"Why should I do that?"
Gibson didn't say one word. Mulder listened to his silence for a long
time, then said, "Your reasons are convincing." He waved a hand to
indicate the scratched table, the dirt floor, the light slipping
through the cracks in the walls. "It's all yours."
Gibson nodded, then headed for the door.
"Do you love me, Gibson?"
The question made Gibson stop in his tracks.
"Well, do you?"
Gibson looked back at Mulder and said, "I'll answer that when I can
figure out who you are."
With those words, he left the command center.
Mulder walked casually toward the chair where he had been sitting. He
pressed a finger against it, lifting the chair gradually off its front
legs. He kept the chair balanced on its back legs for a few seconds.
Then he gave the chair a slight push. It fell backwards with a mild
thump onto the ground. Mulder stuffed his hand into his pocket and
looked at the chair as if nothing could make it upright again.
"I'll try to say a little more:
"Love went on and on
"Until it reached an open door --
"Then Love Itself
"Love Itself was gone."