Welcome To The Harem
Unwritten Life by Vanzetti
Summary: Jeffrey Spender avoids death and finds happiness. Written for the Harem Secret Santa challenge, 2002.
Title: Unwritten Life
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Archive: Harem archive OK, otherwise please ask
Category: Marita/Jeffrey Post-One Son AU
Dedication: For Christy! Merry Christmas from your Harem Secret Santa!
Disclaimer: The X-Files universe is the property of 1013 Productions, Chris
Carter, and Fox Television. I make no profit from my use of these
characters, nor do I make any claim to ownership of previously copyrighted
Summary: Jeffrey Spender avoids death and finds happiness. Written for the
Harem Secret Santa challenge, 2002.
.you felt your heart grow still while your eyes swept the pages
you felt the pages thickening to the left and on the right-
hand growing few, you knew the end was coming
you knew beyond the ending lay
your own, unwritten life
Adrienne Rich, The Novel (1986)
Leaving Fort Marlene was a long nightmare for Marita. She remembers
trying to stop the tears that poured down her face as Alex walked
away, and she remembers Jeffrey, his face suddenly hard, grabbing her
by the elbow and pulling her back to the entrance and waving his gun
around and actually shooting one of the guards at the door before
pushing her through and dragging her out and into his car.
He drove for five minutes before he had to pull over and vomit by the
side of the road.
He brought her back to his own apartment, put her in the bed and
wrapped scratchy wool blankets around her. He fed her broth one
spoonful at a time. They weren't safe and she knew it and meant to
tell him, but it was so warm and soft and for the first time she
didn't hurt, only ached, and she was asleep before she could get the
The voices woke her. Alex's voice, anyway, shouting "Are you
insane?" She forced herself to sit up and wrapped a blanket around
"I'm going to take him down," Jeffrey said. "Are you willing to help
She could hear Alex's bitter laughter.
She kept one hand on the wall and made it out of the bedroom and back
to the living room, leaning against the doorway to catch her
breath. "Alex? What's going on? What happened?"
He stared at her; she tried not to look away. "It's over. They're
all dead." His gaze shifted the Jeffrey. "It's too late to destroy
Jeffrey swallowed. "He's dead?" he asked, his voice faint.
Alex waited a moment before answering. "No." Jeffrey's shoulders
slumped. "But the Project is finished. It's a whole new game out
"Isn't that good?"
"Not necessarily," Marita answered. "The goal of the Project was to
ensure that at least some humans survived the invasion."
Jeffrey's throat bobbed again. "And now?"
"Now no one's survival is assured," Alex answered.
Marita let go of the doorframe and tried to take a step into the
room; her knees buckled under her and it was Jeffrey who rushed
forward and half-carried her to the sofa. Alex stood there, never
taking his eyes off her. Once she was settled, he continued. "He's
still dangerous," He glanced again at Jeffrey. "He left you to die,
you know. He and his cronies went off to get the alien genes and
left you to die with the rest. He tried to save Mulder, but not you."
"What's your point, Krycek?" .Jeffrey asked, straightening up from
arranging the blanket over Marita's legs.
"My point, Jeffrey, is that I'm not sure your father trusts you any
"He never trusted me," Jeffrey said. "He wanted Mulder more."
A muscle jumped in Alex's cheek at Mulder's name. "You need to make
him trust you again," he said. "We need to know what he's up to."
"You want me to spy on my father for you."
"Do you have a problem with that?"
Jeffrey turned back to stare at Marita. She watched his face
gradually harden. "No," he said. "No, I don't."
"Good," Alex said. "Do whatever he tells you and don't ask
questions. I'll be in touch."
Jeffrey didn't turn around as Alex left the room. He stood there
motionless until they heard the apartment door close. Then he sank
down on the sofa next to her and put his head in his hands. She
could see how white his face was through the fingers.
"Jeffrey?" She placed a hand on his knee.
He sat back up and grabbed it so hard that she had to bite her lip as
the bones rubbed together. "My mother."
Did she owe him the truth for rescuing her, or a gentle lie? "I
don't know," she said slowly. But the rebels were opposed to the
hybridization project. If they took her..."
His lips were almost as pale as the rest of his face. "But they left
her alive before, when they killed the doctors."
"It was a trap, I think." She took a deep breath. "They wanted to
bring the conspirators together, so they could destroy them."
Jeffrey bent his head. When he saw how hard he was clutching her
hand he let go all of a sudden, making Marita gasp. "I should put
you back to bed," he said. "You aren't well. You need to rest." He
started to stand up.
His jaw clenched again. "Come on," he said, and lifted her up with
In Kersh's office the next day, Jeffrey interrupted Mulder's
explanations. "The fact is that these two agents, acting entirely
outside their remit, recklessly interfered with an investigation.
They may not be directly responsible for this massacre, but Agent
Mulder certainly was aware of it and took no action to prevent it."
He sat back in his chair.
"Is this true, agents? Were you aware of the gathering at El Rico
Air Force Base?"
Mulder's mouth opened, but Scully interrupted him. "Agent Fowley
informed Mulder of the gathering. And I remind you that Agent Fowley
is still missing, and that her body was not found at the scene."
"Agent Fowley is not missing," Kersh said. "She has been in Atlanta
investigating a biohazard incident in which the two of you were
Mulder and Scully glanced at each other. "She was in Washington on
the night of the firestorm," Mulder said. "And she was almost
certainly present at the scene."
"Can you prove that, Agent Mulder?" Kersh asked. "I didn't think
so. Agent Spender, thank you for your report. Agents Mulder and
Scully, stay here." He walked Jeffrey to the office door and shook
his hand. "Good work."
He felt dizzy. Was this really going to work? All the way back down
to the X-Files office he kept asking himself the question; at the
door he paused before putting his hand to the doorknob. He could
smell the tobacco smoke already. Now he'd find out,
His father was sitting at his desk and paging through the
report. "Very nice, Jeffrey."
Alex's last warning rang uselessly in his ears. "Is my mother dead?"
The old man shrugged and dropped his cigarette into Jeffrey's coffee
mug. "We may have suffered a setback."
Jeffrey took a few unsteady steps across the room and leaned over the
desk. "Didn't you ever love her? She was your wife!"
"Love is a luxury. If you don't know that now, you'll find it out
soon." He lit another cigarette and stood up. "Give my regards to
Miss Covarrubias. Your rescue of her was quite a surprise. Perhaps
you do have some potential." The door closed behind him with a click.
Jeffrey sagged forward, holding himself up by the arms. When he
died, his tombstone would probably read, "Jeffrey Spender: Not
Entirely Useless." Laughter bubbled up inside him at the thought,
and although he tried to choke it back it forced its way out, three
great barks of laughter that turned, as he'd feared they would, into
Jeffrey slept on the sofa until Marita was strong enough to argue
with him. "It doesn't bother me," he said, "And you need the bed."
"I've taken up too much of your time as it is," she said.
No, he wanted to say, without you here, without someone else to take
care of, I would have gone crazy. "I don't mind," he said.
"I'll be gone by next week," she promised.
The thought of coming home to an apartment full only of his own fear
made Jeffrey go pale. "You don't have to go if you don't want to.
You can stay here." His tongue seemed to stumble over the words.
She sat still and watched him, the way he'd caught her watching him
again and again over the past weeks.
"Unless," he took a deep breath. "Unless you're going to Alex?"
Alex, who ended every meeting with a long pause and an offhand
question about Marita. Jeffrey wasn't a complete idiot.
She was silent for a little while. "I don't think that would be a
"I think he cares about you," And so do I, he added silently.
"That doesn't matter. Alex and I... It's too late for that."
"Then where will you go? Oh," he said, realizing what the problem
must be. "You can't tell me. Because of my father. It would be
"I'm worried about the danger to you, Jeffrey. It isn't safe for you
to let me stay here."
"But he already knows that you're here. I told you that." And had
seemed pleased about it, in his creepy way. Maybe that was a reason
for Marita to leave, after all. "But then, maybe you should go. Go
somewhere he can't find you, I mean. Would you do that?"
She shook her head. "You know I can't. I can't stop fighting now."
"Then stay here," he said. "Stay here and help me. I..." I need
you, he thought. "I could really use your help. And if it makes you
feel better, I could buy a sofabed."
He watched as she began to smile. "It would," she said. "It would
make me feel much better."
Jeffrey had never lived with a woman, aside from his mother, so he
had no idea whether the way Marita made him feel was typical. Marita
herself was anything but typical, of that he was certain. Her
presence amazed him. He would never cease to wonder that he could
look up from working on a file or reading a book or vacuuming the
floor to find her sitting there in one of his old shirts and a pair
of trousers. He watched as her face gradually filled out and she
stopped wincing in the light and her hair grew back like golden
silk. Sometimes as he traced her metamorphosis she would have to
repeat whatever she was saying two or three times before he would
realize that she was speaking to him. Then she would draw her
eyebrows together in a frown and he would have to invent something
that he could say he'd been thinking about.
He never told her how her nightmares woke him, not because she
screamed or cried but because he's become sensitive to the slightest
change in the sound of her breathing. He never told her that he
would listen for a little while and then creep into the bedroom to
hold her hand or stroke her hair to soothe her, or how he even, only
once or twice, lay down next to her on the bed and held her until she
was sleeping quietly. Only then would he return, ashamed and
uncertain, to the sofabed.
He learned her moods, what she liked to eat, to come and get her if
she stood too long in front of the bathroom mirror. The first time
he came home to find her missing he panicked, pacing and fretting and
gathering the courage to confront his father, until she burst in an
hour later with shopping bags and stared at him. "I couldn't wear
your clothes forever," she said. She did her own laundry, but every
now and then he'd find something lacy drying in the bathroom and
force himself to look away.
She almost never touched him, which he felt was merciful. He knew
what was happening to him but told himself it didn't matter. So when
Pointer, one of the thugs his father made him work with, turned to
him in the middle of a very dull night of surveillance and said, "So,
I hear you're screwing Krycek's piece of ass. You got some kind of
death wish?" no one was more surprised than Jeffrey to find himself
grabbing the other man by the collar and bashing his head against the
wall, again and again, until Louis pulled him off. Pointer slid down
the wall, still trying to apologize.
He never told Marita about that, either.
She ran her fingers down the pages of a file he'd brought home to
study. "I've seen this before," she said.
"There was an attack by a swarm of bees a few years ago in South
Carolina. Walter Skinner should know about it; he was there,
cleaning it up for your father. Is that who gave you this file?"
"Skinner used to work for my father?" His voice rose in disbelief.
She stared at him. "Didn't you know? Well, it doesn't matter now.
Have there been any attacks?"
He was lost in a fantasy of confronting Skinner. She repeated the
question. "Huh?" he said. "No, no attacks. Just the arson."
"What else do you have?" she asked. He handed her the file and
watched her page through it. Her eyes still bothered her, but she
bent her head and read through every page, pausing to frown and make
notes and going back two or three times to check something she's
already read. "Something isn't right here." she murmured. "Oh, here
it is." She handed him the page.
It was a list of expenses for one of the five laboratories the file
covered. "What am I looking for?"
"The fourth item. An order of larvae. The bees in the program are
all bred by the Consortium. Why would one of these labs place an
order with a commercial dealer?"
"To cover something up? A loss?" How dangerous were these bees,
"Or their deaths. Something might be killing off the bees there."
"Thanks," he said. "I'll look into it on Monday."
"Monday will be too late. Something is destroying a vital part of
the Project, and we need to know about it. There's a lab just
outside Baltimore that isn't mentioned in this report. I think we
should go take a look at it."
"I know what to look for," she said. Her eyes were shining and she
was smiling at him. "Come on."
"Are you sure you're strong enough?" he asked.
The smile faded. "I'm as healthy as I'll ever be," she said.
The lab was already burning when they arrived. Jeffrey stood by the
car and cursed at it.
"I wonder who set that fire," Marita said, as if to herself.
Her voice reminded him that he still had a job to do. "I'll go talk
to the firemen, see if I can get a copy of the report. There might
be some kind of clue in it."
He found the fire chief standing by one of the trucks. "FBI?" the
man said when Jeffrey introduced himself. "We just pulled one of
your guys out of that building."
Jeffrey closed his eyes briefly. "I'd like to see him. And when the
arson investigators get here, I'd like to talk to them as well."
"Sure," the fire chief said as he walked them over to the back of one
of the engines. "But I've got to tell you, right now it looks like
an accident. Some bad wiring in there. Here's the agent I told you
Of course it was Mulder. He stood up as Jeffrey approached. "Well,
well, well. Agent Spender," he drawled. "Did you set the fire
yourself, or are you just here to make sure that the cover-up was
Jeffrey felt his teeth grinding. How did he do it? It was
ridiculous how easily Mulder could get to him. "Agent Mulder. Care
to explain what you're doing here?"
"I don't think I owe you any explanations, Spender."
"You're interfering in an FBI investigation. This fire is connected
to an X-File."
Mulder's mouth twitched. "I know that you don't take your orders
from the FBI. It must be tough, working for him, when you know he
killed your mother. But then, you handed her over to him, so maybe
you don't care."
The whole world narrowed down to Mulder. Jeffrey's feet carried him
forward and his hands clenched into fists. Just as he was ready to
throw himself at the other man he felt the pressure of a hand on his
arm and heard a familiar voice in his ear.
"Agent Mulder," Marita said.
The world opened up again. Marita was standing next to him, Mulder
in front of him. He could hear the fire and smell the smoke.
"Marita," Mulder said. The catch in his voice made Jeffrey look at
him more closely, but his face was as blank as ever. "You look...
"No thanks to you," she said.
Jeffrey shook off her hand as the sense of their exchange sank
in. "You knew she was in there? You saw her in there, in Fort
Marlene, and you left her there?" His voice was rising. "Jesus.
What kind of..."
"Jeffrey," Marita interrupted. "I've spoken to the investigators.
They'll send you the report as soon as it's ready." She reached out
and pulled her arm through his. "Goodbye, Agent Mulder." She walked
the two of them away, her side pressed up against Jeffrey.
The awareness of her body touching his so closely began to displace
the anger in Jeffrey's blood, although his heart seemed to be
pounding just as hard. As soon as they were out of Mulder's line of
sight he pulled away from her. She looked surprised. "I'm sorry,"
he said automatically. "It's just... I'm not used to..." He
gestured at her arm.
"Of course," she said. Her voice sounded clipped. He couldn't read
her expression. "I won't let it happen again." She turned her head
away and kept walking to the car.
He hurried to catch up. "Marita, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," she said.
"What did I do?"
"You didn't do anything. I forgot that you'd seen me in the labs
too. No wonder you don't want me to touch you."
"Don't want you to-- What?" He stopped dead, and had to run again
to catch up with her. He grabbed her and turned her around to face
him. "You think I don't... Marita, do you have any idea how I feel
She kept her face averted. "I think it's clear enough."
He let go of her shoulders and took her hands. "Marita, I think
you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. I look at you
sometimes and I wonder why you're even talking to me, and I'm
terrified that one day you're going to wonder that too and then
you'll be gone. And I'll never see you again." He stopped. What
had he just said? Oh God. This was his worst nightmare, come to
life. He let her hands fall. "Oh. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have...
Now you'll really want to leave."
She raised her head. Her eyes were glittering. "Say that again."
"I'm sorry," the words tumbled out. "I should never have told you
how I feel. I didn't want to put any pressure on you. I know that
you're... that I'm... well, you know."
"No," she said. Was she smiling? Had he ever seen anyone smiling
like that? "How you feel. Tell me how you feel again."
"I..." This was it. "I think I'm falling in love with you. Or
maybe I already have. I don't know. I've never felt like this
before, and it terrifies me."
She was still standing in front of him. She hadn't run away.
He stood there frozen as the smile reemerged and she placed her hands
on her shoulders and leaned up to kiss him. Her lips pressed dryly
against his. If he moved, would this all vanish? Almost before he'd
framed the thought his arms had wrapped around her and pulled her
against him; her hands were around his neck and her insistent mouth
was alive under his. All of her felt warm and solid under his hands,
not fragile as he'd feared.
As soon as he felt her pull away, he let go. Then, uncertain, he put
his hands back on her waist; hers were still on his shoulders. "Why
didn't you tell me sooner, Jeffrey?"
"I thought... I didn't think... I didn't think you could care about
me. Like that."
Her brow creased. "You're so different. So..." she seemed to be
casting around for the word. "So good. And you feel so strongly.
How could I not?"
He closed his eyes against the force he felt in his chest, as if his
ribs could hardly hold his heart in; then the same pressure forced
his eyes open again and he leaned down to kiss away the line across
her forehead, to kiss her closed eyes and her cheeks and all the rest
of her face until she bent her head forward and murmured into his
ear, "Jeffrey? Take me home now please."