Welcome To The Harem

On The Outside by Deslea R. Judd Part 1 of 3
Summary: Not surprisingly, the return of Samantha Mulder is not all it seems. But the one who will be most betrayed is not her brother, but her lover, her beloved first clone. Colony/Endgame backstory, NC17 for low-key f/f slash.

On The Outside *NC17* 1/3
Deslea R. Judd
Copyright 1996

ARCHIVE: Yes, just keep my name on it.
DISCLAIMER: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
RATING: NC17 for mild f/f sex and language.
SPOILERS/TIMEFRAME: Colony/Endgame missing scenes; spoilers to Talitha Cumi.
CATEGORY/KEYWORDS: Romance, Angst, Mytharc, Samantha/Other.
SUMMARY: Portrays Colony/Endgame from "the other side". Not surprisingly, the return of Samantha Mulder is not what it seems. But it is not her brother, but her lover, who will be most betrayed.
MORE FIC: http://fiction.deslea.com
FEEDBACK: Love the stuff. deslea@deslea.com
AWARDS/ELIGIBILITY: Finalist, Spooky Awards 1996, Outstanding Drama Story. Recommended, GAEB Fanfic Picks. Third place, "Minor Characters" challenge, PURity.

The following are contents of a folder which may be found in the archives of Dr Samantha Mulder in her laboratory in Nevada. The folder is titled, "Cynthia Mulder". It is stamped, "CLOSED".


From loose-leaf pages enclosed in the file. The author has been identified as Cynthia Mulder.

"Come in, One."

I heard the words in the background, but they didn't register in my mind. I had been thinking idly, and I didn't come to myself until another, feminine voice called, "Cynthia, come in, please."

I looked up. "I'm sorry," I said, "I was preoccupied." I got my coat and my purse together and entered the large office. "You wanted to see me, Sir?"

The man motioned to a chair. "Sit," he said brusquely, grinding out the inevitable cigarette. I suppressed the cough that rose in my throat. God, couldn't the bastard open a window? He was a walking smoke machine!

The woman greeted me rather more kindly. She always had. Sometimes she was so nice you almost forgot she was on the other side. I met her brilliant blue eyes, so like my own. "Hello, Samantha," I said conversationally.

"Dr Mulder," the man corrected sternly, but Samantha brushed this aside.

"Father, don't be so petty." She turned back to me. "Hello, Cynthia."

He stared mutinously at her for a moment, but then he backed down. I'd never seen him back down before, daughter or not. I was fascinated. But his gaze fell on me again, and I brought myself to attention. "You know why you're here, One?"

I'd never really minded being called One in my youth, and none of the others had minded being called by their own numbers, either. But that had been before we met Samantha, the one from whom we all came. Not a particularly sentimental personality, she had nonetheless been horrified at the inpersonality she perceived. Swiftly, she had assigned us all names, justifying it on the basis that it would foster a greater humanity in the aliens, such as myself and Catherine. This was not a universally popular endeavour; but its opponents had to admit that our successes in covert assignments changed for the better in the aftermath. Now, I had been Cynthia for seven years; and One, frankly, pissed me off. I bristled, but kept my voice steady. "Am I correct in assuming it is to do with Fox Mulder?"

Samantha inclined her head. "How much do you know about Fox, Cynthia?"

I recited the basic details. I knew them almost by rote. We all did...they were legendary. "I know that he's your half-brother and that he was present when you were removed from the family home in 1973 for your safety. In recent years he has begun to recover memories of your removal. He's FBI and he succeeded in being assigned to the X Files as a result of his interest in your case. In the last two years his work has become rather more dangerous to the Project than before. Attempts have been made to end his work, including the abduction of his partner, Dana Scully; but those attempts have been unsuccessful." I knew it was unwise to remind the man of his failure on the Mulder question, but I couldn't resist it. One, indeed!

He lit a cigarette, his expression grim. "A situation we mean to rectify." He paused, inhaling deeply. "We have elected to give Mulder what he wants - his sister's return. But you must realise that Dr Mulder's work is too valuable for her to be spared. You, One, will go in her place, pacify him with a story upon which you will be briefed, and maintain an ongoing relationship with him. In due course we will phase out your involvement - perhaps fabricate a job for you on the other side of the country or something similar to minimise your contact with him. But we anticipate at least two years of regular contact."

I stared at him. "And you believe he will give up his work?" I asked, trying to hide my incredulity.

Samantha shook her head. "No. But we believe he will become more moderate, less dangerous. We think, once the reason for his crusade is gone, he will go back to being a muddle-headed, inefficient federal employee."

I thought on this. "And what makes you so sure he will accept me as his sister?"

The man blew a cloud of smoke. "He won't, initially. You will be briefed, of course, but he won't accept you on the basis of your knowledge alone. It will be necessary to forge a bond with him. We've decided to fabricate an intrigue that conveys the impression that your life is in danger. In fact, we will be using the opportunity to get some help from Mr Mulder on the other operation, the elimination of the rebel clones. He will come to trust you, then love you." He rose, stubbing out the cigarette in the ashtray. "That's all. Dr Mulder will brief you, of course; but I have other matters to attend to. Good luck."

I nodded respectfully at the sanctimonious pig. "Yes, Sir."


From loose-leaf pages enclosed in the file. The author has been identified as Cynthia Mulder.

"Hello, Cynthia."

I looked up from my drink, and nearly fell off my chair at what I saw.

It was Samantha, but it was Samantha as I had never seen her. Her fair hair, so like my own, rested in a soft knot on top of her head, and she wore a fitted cocktail dress of rich burgundy. Her slim legs were encased in the finest embroidered stockings, and I breathed out shakily as I saw the faintest glimpse of flesh at their top. I was not immune to her beauty, of course; but never before had she made my breath catch in my throat as she did now.

"Samantha, you look beautiful!" I blurted. I couldn't help it.

She rewarded me with a gentle smile. "As do you."

Normally, I took no pride in such compliments. My looks, after all, were not of my own doing. But I had quite deliberately dressed up this evening, terribly aware that I would be close to her for the whole evening; and I blushed with pleasure. "Take a seat," I managed.

Samantha had been called away that day in the office, and she had told me to meet her here; an invitation I had accepted with pleasure. I had come to be briefed, but suddenly the Project was the last thing on my mind. I stifled the urge to reach out and kiss her right there and then; and the only thing that stopped me was that we looked like identical twin sisters. To have kissed publicly would have been risking being thrown out...or worse. Two women kissing passionately was one thing, and I knew that in these more exclusive hotels it would be discreetly ignored; but twins...no. It was asking for trouble.

I hoped she would sit next to me, but she sat opposite me, placing a bundle of papers on the table before her. Her legs brushed against mine unselfconsciously, and I started to see that this, too, had its rewards. I reached out and lightly touched her hand. "So, Samantha," I said, a gentle mocking in my voice, "brief me."

She didn't remove her hand. Smiling faintly, she said, "You know, Cynthia, we didn't have to meet. This could have been done by memoranda."

"You asked me," I pointed out.

She just flashed me a wide grin that said that was exactly the point she was making. Dropping her gaze, she perused the sheaf of papers in front of her. "We should spend some token time on this, I suppose."

"Of course."

Her tone became businesslike. "You will receive much of the historical material in writing to memorise. You do understand the basic assignment, of course?"

I nodded. "The Fox Mulder aspect, yes." I paused. "I don't completely understand how the rebel clones fit into it all, though."

Samantha's voice was grave. "You do know of their existence, however?"

"The Doctor Gregors, who were placed in abortion clinics across the country, were put there to undertake experiments with foetal tissue. The idea was to use them to glean further research to aid the breeding project - the developing of a satisfactory alien-human hybrid."

She gave a single nod. "That's correct. We have developed these hybrids, as you know; but they are not entirely satisfactory for our purposes. Their capacity to withstand the projected limits of bio and nuclear warfare are adequate; but they are not nearly human enough. The best we've managed so far is a 47.63% human with those characteristics. The immediate aim is to break the 50% barrier. Longer term, we would like to reduce the alien content to below 20%." She paused, suddenly smiling. "I have to keep reminding myself that you're an alien also, Cynthia. I mean no offence. But realise, the idea of all of this is to provide a basis for human survival in the most complete form possible in the event of holocaust. There's no point if we can't even manage half. We humans have stupidly painted ourselves into a corner in which we are capable of doing damage to the planet which we ourselves could never survive. We must change if we are to survive when some asshole somewhere decides it would be a really good idea to nuke or contaminate the rest of the earth. But - we don't want to change more than we have to. We want to preserve the integrity, if you can call it that, of humanity."

"I do understand, Samantha. I understand from the other aliens that a similar situation exists on our planet. We must adapt to water, our only abundant resource, for our hydration and other uses. No-one says very much, but I have the impression that similar hybrid experiments are taking place there with similar aims."

Samantha raised an eyebrow, obviously surprised at my knowledge. Surely she realised the aliens talked to us, their closest counterparts? We may have looked human and taken on human characteristics to a degree; but we were largely alien - over 86%. The cloning was in a different category to the hybrid project. We were technically a classification of hybrid, of course; but the sectors of our DNA which had been tampered with were minimal - those concerned with appearance, mostly.

Now, she nodded slowly. "However, the Gregors have decided that they are more interested in cloning. They want to colonise - multiply. Realise, cloning is a very difficult process, and a very secret one. You can understand the danger that would result from the general availability of that knowledge. We believe that the Gregors themselves mean no harm - it appears that it's something similar to that very human urge to procreate. As an aside, I will add that I'm intrigued by the fact that this is shared by all the Gregors, and none of the other clones such as the Jeremiah Smiths, who are part-morph. It raises the question of how much of instinct is biologically determined." She gave a self-deprecating laugh. "I'm sorry, Cynthia. It's the scientist in me coming out. We've asked the Gregors to cease their unsanctioned experiments. They haven't, and a number of them have dispersed so that we can no longer find them. We believe that they are on the verge of a breakthrough, if they haven't succeeded already. They must be eliminated before they can expose the Project by multiplying into noticeable numbers. The very fact that they are in the habit of congregating is itself dangerous. And their research must be destroyed before it can fall into the hands of people with interests other than our own."

I regarded her for a moment. "And where does Fox Mulder fit into all this?" I asked.

Samantha shrugged. "To some extent, he doesn't. We could use his help, of course; but it's not crucial. The morph will find all the Gregors sooner or later. But if the Gregors were to get wind that someone like Mulder was trying to protect them, they just might congregate and lead us to them, which would make our job much simpler. And naturally, incorporating you into all this will solidify his feelings of protectiveness for you - give you a foothold for this relationship." I nodded slowly. "There's something else, too. We think there are a few other rebel clones besides the Gregors - possibly higher up than them. They are engaged in similar experiments. They don't seem interested in colonisation as the Gregors are; but their research links in. At this stage, we don't know enough about their intentions to make a decision about their future; but if we could find out who they were, it would be an added bonus."

We were silent for a few moments, but then her tone changed, brightened. "Enough shop talk, Cynthia. Tell me what you've been doing with yourself all these weeks. It's been too long."

Samantha and I had been in the habit of meeting for dinner once a month. We had little in common beyond the Project; but somehow, we always seemed to click. And we almost never talked shop. We lived and breathed the Project; and for me, those dinners were a welcome respite from it. For a long time, I had been aware of growing feelings for her; but they weren't obsessive. Maybe they would come to something, probably they wouldn't; but it didn't much matter. I just went with the flow and enjoyed whatever time I had with her.

But we had missed last month, and I had missed her - a lot more than I'd expected to. Now, we chatted freely, and I felt a delicious warmth spread over me. A lot of the clones had wondered if there was a real person underneath Dr Mulder, she was that focussed; but I had always known there was. She was there, and she was funny and intelligent and piercing. And she sat here with me, her knee brushing mine, that quirky little smile on her face. It was wonderful. And it ended all too soon.

I walked her to her hotel room.

I don't know why - there was no need. She wasn't my date, and it was a safe, five-star hotel. I hoped for nothing, expected nothing; but it seemed right. And when we reached her room, I took her hand, thanked her for a lovely dinner, and kissed her cheek. I had no inkling of what she might have in mind until she didn't release my hand when I released hers.

And that was when she kissed me.

I shouldn't have been surprised. Samantha's preferences were legendary. But somehow, it had never occurred to me that she might want me. I was a clone, after all. Another species. There was something faintly taboo about it.

I was so surprised that at first, I didn't respond, but sat there, stock-still. It was only when she started to pull away that I came to myself and pulled her back to me, kissing her firmly, her mouth opening beneath mine to receive me.

She was so //soft.// Somehow, I had expected her to be strong - masterful. She didn't look it, mind you; but she had such a commanding presence that I somehow expected that to be translated in how she acted...how she made love. But I felt as though I were falling very gently into the depths of a mist. She was insubstantial and yet very real at the same time.

She kissed me gently, tentative as a very first kiss, her lips closing around the still-stunned lips they found. But it was I who roused myself and freed the passion within us both.

I pulled her closer, kissing her demandingly. I wanted it to be gentle, leisurely; but suddenly I felt overtaken by desire...need. Thought went out the window. My mind swam with her name, over and over again. Her tongue wildly searched my mouth for the oneness we both so desperately sought. My fingertips found her body, and the soft velvet under my hands as I ran them over the curve of her breasts made me shiver. I took the pin from her hair and it came loose, tumbling down over her shoulders.

She swept my own hair behind me and kissed my ear, my neck. I cradled her blonde head in my hands as she pressed her warm body against me; pushing me against her hotel room door. I felt her slide a hand up my fitted lace top and cup my breasts, her thumb rubbing my nipples in a circular motion that drove me wild.

We fell, rather than walked into Samantha's hotel room and blindly found our way to her bed. There was a tangle of bodies and fabric as we hurriedly pushed each other's clothes aside.

But when flesh met flesh, it was as though time had slowed down. The frenzy ceased, and we lay entwined in one another's arms. Her ivory skin was silver in the moonlight, and I ran my hands over it in something akin to wonder. Once again, we kissed, this time with great tenderness, our moisture mingling as I ran my hands over her breasts, down over the delicate curve of her belly. Her own slid down to my thighs, then up to my hips, drifted there a moment, then once again found my hair. Even my scalp tingled at her touch.

Samantha gently broke away and crouched over me. She kissed the small indentation at the base of my neck, smiling to herself when I shivered and drew in my breath. She took my hands and linked them in hers, slowly moving down my body. Her mouth found my breasts and nuzzled them gently.

Finally, her tongue found my nipples, and bathed them until they stood erect, pink and proud between her soft lips. Reluctantly, she moved on, kissing my belly, my hips, my thighs, studiously delaying that final delight. It was agonising...but it was delightful.

She kissed my knees, my ankles, even the creamy white soles of my feet, but then finally moved back up my body. Samantha gently parted my legs and fluttered her tongue up my inner thigh, teasingly brushing my pubic hair with her fingers. I longed to touch her; but she had me in such exquisite agony that I just couldn't.

With deliberate slowness, she parted my lips with her hands and with her tongue found what they concealed. Samantha gently nuzzled the the soft peak at its base with her tongue, moving with me as I shifted with pleasure. I heard the tiniest moan escape me. She flickered her tongue over the tip of my clitoris, then ever so slowly slipped it inside me. The strange sensation of probing softness, so different from a man, fascinated me as it always had. With ever decreasing strokes, she pulled away and moved up to meet me. "All in good time, Cynthia," she breathed tenderly.

My reply was to pull Samantha to me and kiss her insistently, tasting myself on her lips. That slightly sweet taste whetted my appetite for more, and I maneouvered Samantha onto her back and ran my tongue over the length of her body. I touched her sweetly between her legs with gentle fingers, but occupied my mouth elsewhere - first on her neck and shoulders and behind her ears, then on her magnificent breasts and in the cleft of her underarms (which smelled fresh yet were impregnated with Samantha's taste, her scent), her belly and navel, her sides, her elbows. By the time I finally sought her with my mouth, she was trembling, mouthing silent moans, her breathing laboured, her legs parted invitingly.

I took Samantha's hands as Samantha had done with me, and held them tightly as I lowered my face into the soft blonde hair and beyond. First, I teasingly passed my tongue over the clitoris, but Samantha bucked her hips with racing, uncontrolled longing.

I was happy to oblige. I thrust my tongue inside her. I breathed deeply, taking the sweet smell and the warmth into myself. I could feel Samantha spasm with growing desire, and I let go of her hands and turned my body, my own secret longing swaying above her mouth.

I felt her hands cupping my buttocks and firmly bringing me down into reach. Soon, my lazily growing orgasm was racing. And when I came, I thought not of myself in that dizzying moment, but of her. And as she cradled me in her arms, stroked back my hair and kissed my eyes, my cheeks, my lips, I felt as though I were human, at last.


From printed papers enclosed in the file. No author can be identified.

I was a fool. I knew she was to be terminated, even then; and still, I gave in to my feelings for her. Perhaps that's why I gave in to them.

I blush to read of the night we shared. There's a part of me that still can't quite believe she committed such an intimate moment to paper. But then, I suppose it's no different to me reliving it.

And I do, every day.

We stayed there for three delirious days. I loved her heart, her mind by day; her body by night. For those three days I could almost believe that the Project didn't exist. That she wasn't doomed. And on the third day, as I looked at her from the corner of my eye, I knew I had to try to save her.

Not that I'd have gone against my father or the consortium. I knew the priorities here - indeed, I quite believed in them. Love or no, the Project came first. But I thought there were some quite strong strategic reasons to come to an alternative arrangement. It was with this is mind that I arranged to meet with my father.

He sat, waiting, smoking. We were close, but we were not in the habit of social calls. We ate, and we exchanged news; but there was expectancy in the air. When finally I ordered a scotch and downed it in one, shuddering gulp, he touched my hand. Gently but firmly, he asked, "What's wrong, daughter?"

I thought, from nowhere, that no-one who knew him would believe he could be like this. They thought he was a monster, his opponents and allies alike. And they were right, I knew; but they were also wrong - terribly wrong. He loved with a strength and an integrity and an insight that was beyond articulation. I realised that for his own good, it was just as well he loved no-one but me. Me, and just possibly my mother.

I answered him. "Father, I have my reservations about this Mulder affair." I reflected suddenly that I considered the Mulder family and myself, Samantha Mulder, to be in completely different categories. I felt no recognition of myself in the use of the name.

"I know that, Samantha. You've never been a good liar - at least not to me. Even as a child, I knew-" He shook his head. "Let's not get into that. It doesn't matter. What are your concerns?"

"Why don't we just kill him?" I blurted out. "Surely you don't really believe he's some sort of centre of a cosmic force that's against us?"

He laughed, lighting up a cigarette. His laugh was indulgent. It reminded me of the very first time he'd laughed at me - with me - and I had realised in some secret part of myself that he, and not stern Bill Mulder, was my father. How old had I been? Six, seven? He spoke. "That's the problem with you, Samantha. You're a scientist. You can never quite bring yourself to tap into the intuitive - the greater scheme of things. In some ways you're like the ignorant masses we protect, too frightened to move past that which can be safely articulated." He blew out a puff of smoke. "Understand me, Samantha; I'm not criticising you. You're young, and you're bright enough and you've seen enough that your worldview will expand to accommodate greater realities in good time."

"Those damned things will kill you," I snapped irrelevantly, annoyed.

He just laughed, as I knew he would. "I deal with intergalactic demons every day. I have greater concerns and dangers than such petty possibilities as lung cancer." True enough, I supposed. "Now, Fox. You know, that's exactly what he is: the nucleus of something. Maybe not a cosmic force, but he's the focus of a number of different people, benign enough in themselves, who when they come together do so in power. Take Scully, for instance: she's a scientist, like you. If she didn't have him there to constantly expand her horizons, she'd put the blinkers back on and leave us alone. And those paranoid little men who write that ridiculous conspiracy magazine."

"The Lone Gunman," I supplied.

"Thank you. They seek conspiracy for its own sake. It's a game - a serious one, but still a game. Left to their own devices, they would just fumble in the dark on a myriad of unconnnected conspiracies, real and imagined, with no idea and no influence. It's Mulder that brings the threads together. Then," he said, inhaling from the cancer stick far more deeply than normal, "there's X."

"'X'?" I asked.

"The unknown factor - the unknown informer. Whoever he is - and I say he because it's easier, and don't accuse me of being sexist, young lady; it could just as well be a she -" I grinned suddenly; he knew my thoughts too well, "whoever he is, he has divided loyalties. He must be located and eliminated; but at the same time, I doubt he's a danger in and of himself. He knows enough to bring us all down if he were so inclined. He's not. But he believes in Mulder's crusade, and that's why he feeds Mulder the bits of information he does."

I repeated my earlier question. "Then why not kill him? Blow the centre apart, like a tumour? Stop the spread?"

He put out the cigarette (and it occurred to me then that despite his filthy habit, he never threw his butts away - he always politely, discreetly ashed and stubbed in an ashtray. Strange how a man can care more for his surroundings than his internal organs!). "No. Kill Fox, and you make a leader into a saint. The core of - well, followers, if you like - they'd make his work their crusade. You can't martyr him. He has to go out with a whimper, not a bang." He paused. "That's why he must reach some closure. Give it up. That's why he must have you back. We must remove his reason for searching."

"You don't like him," I realised.

My father hesitated, but he met my gaze steadily. One thing he was not: a coward. "Not especially, no. He places his own personal agenda ahead of the good of the country - the planet. He searches for the truth and he searches for you, never mind that he could destroy this nation's heart and soul in the process." He frowned. "Do you know, the behavioural psychs think that if the public came to know of the presence of alien life on this planet, they would be so stunned by the blowing apart of their preconceptions that they would just numbly surrender to them? Become their slaves? Mulder cares nothing about that. He just wants to find you, like he wanted to find Scully. I have no respect for that." Taking a sip from his tumbler, he went on piercingly, "Samantha, do you //want// me to kill him?"

I, too, hesitated; but unlike him, I couldn't meet the eye of my accuser. "No, of course not," I admitted (but was that true? I had loved him once; but then, it had been so long that I almost didn't care anymore). "But you wouldn't protect him on my behalf alone. Nor should you."

He nodded slowly, admitting that was true; and he drew the attention of the waiter, ordering another brandy. When we were alone once more, I said, "Then why are you going to kill Samantha off? Surely he would be more content to let it alone if he had her, alive and well. What's wrong with the plan you laid out to Cynth - to Clone One?"

My father's voice became firm. "That's too risky, Samantha. In the short term, she can give him a story which will satisfy him. But sooner or later, he'll want to know more and more - maybe encourage her to undergo regression hynotherapy or some such thing. It won't be an investigative thing; it will be a concerned brother trying to help her cope and move on. But sooner or later he'll get suspicious at her refusals, and the whole thing will start again." He drained his glass. "There's something else to consider, too. It will only take one, miniscule accident for her to bleed in front of him - jamming her finger in a door, say. It could happen inside of three months - even three weeks. What's Special Agent Mulder going to think when he sees her spilling green blood?" He shook his head. "It's too risky," he repeated.

I was silent for long moments. Finally, I took one of his cigarettes without asking and lit up. Cynthia described my smile once as quirky, and she was quite right - and it was just like his. Quirky, like now. "Those damned things will kill you," he shot.

I grinned then. I couldn't help it. The sudden levity gave me the courage to go on with it, even though I knew the answer. "Father, why not one of the human clones? Fox isn't going to have a sense of closure with a missing body, and we can't have him find her corroding away." I shuddered at the thought of it. "Why not a human clone, that he can mourn and bury?"

His mood became reflective. "I share your concern on that point, Samantha; but the humans are too valuable. For some reason, it's much harder to successfully clone a human than an alien - you know that; you wrote the project evaluation. We can't just kill one off for something like this. Besides, individually, they're too important. Three - what did you call her? Carolyn? She's too much a part of the intelligence behind the hybrid project. And Ten is too important to the germ war investigations. They're all in important positions, humans and aliens alike, besides One. They just can't be spared." His expression was grave. "Samantha, is there some other reason that you want One off the project?"

I should have said something. I believe now that just maybe he would have tried to find another way if I had only spoken up. But I just didn't have the courage. "No, Father. I just don't think it's ideal." I ground out the cigarette in the ashtray, following his example, and downed another scotch. With my mouth already bitter with nicotine, it wasn't so bad. "But if it's the only way..." I stopped short.

He nodded, not without regret. "It is."

I met his gaze once more. "Then let's do it."

I returned to the hotel in Virginia in the early hours of the morning.

Cynthia didn't stir when I came in, and seeing her still form in the dim moonlight, naked against the ivory sheets, I knew that I loved her - that I had for a long time.

And, God help me, I had signed her death warrant.

Wild ideas occurred to me. I could substitute another of the clones. I had enough authority to command it, and there would be no questions until it was too late.

And my father would know, and he would be disappointed. Somehow, that troubled me more than the knowledge that the consortium would almost surely order my termination. No, such a thing was impossible.

Then what if I had the morph rescue her? That, too, seemed impossible. For Fox to believe that she was dead, she would have to die in conditions in which her survival was not a foreseeable eventuality. How it was done would depend to some extent on the contingencies of the situation, but it was expected that she would be drowned in freezing conditions. That wouldn't kill the morph, but it would certainly kill her.

Damn it! I paced restlessly back and forth across the plush carpet, searching for answers that I knew didn't exist. And there was no time. She was to go to the Mulder home in Martha's Vineyard, Massachussets, in the morning. There was no time for plans, no time to back out.

There was time only to love.

I undressed and went to her then. I smoothed back her hair and stroked her back. Smiling faintly, she murmured something, and opened her eyes.

"I'm back," I said gently.

And then, before she could wake properly, while she was relaxed enough to just feel and revel in feeling and ask me no questions, I held her, and kissed her, and loved her. I gave to her with that little thrill of mischievous delight I always had when I made love to her, and I touched her in her most secret and most delicious places. She wanted to give to me, too; and part of me wanted to let her this last time - but a greater part of me needed to cherish her as though she were mine forever. So I held her down very gently and said, "No, Cynthia. This time's yours."

So she relaxed, and ran her fingers through my hair; and suddenly, I was thankful that I was between her legs and not in her arms, because then she would have seen that I was crying. I'll never forget that strange bittersweet taste of her sweetness mingling with my salty tears.

And when we were done, and I cradled her soft, warm body in my arms, I tried not to think that I was cradling a living corpse.