Welcome To The Harem
Wrong Kind Of Paradise by Martha Part 4 of 5
Summary: Post ep. A different beginning for Season 8. MSR, Krycek/Marita, Gibson, LGM and more. See also Lost Boys And Golden Girls and Tear A Petal From The Rose.
The Wrong Kind of Paradise IV
DISCLAIMER: All recognizable XF characters are the property
of 1013 Productions and FOX Broadcasting.
Previous installments may be found on Ephemeral and Deja
under my Yahoo address.
Spoilers: Requiem (US7)
Summary: A continuation of a different beginning for S8.
The Wrong Kind of Paradise IV
Alone in the silence
She wakes up too soon and reaches for his arm
But she'll just keep reaching on
Devils Lake, North Dakota
Route 57 Campgrounds
Skinner gently picked up the delicate cross necklace from
Darryl's palm and held it before him. It had to be hers, he
thought. There was no other explanation for it. He pulled
out a handkerchief, dropped the necklace into the middle,
and carefully refolded it before placing it in his jacket.
He turned his attention back to the returnee. "He needs to
see a doctor. He's in shock."
Someone from the group shouted to another, "Kenny, bring the
Skinner helped carry Darryl from the picnic bench to the
spot that had cleared when the vehicle backed up to the main
area. Two others pulled Darryl through the open door and
settled him onto one of the seats.
"Are you coming with us?" one of them asked Skinner.
"I'll catch up in a few minutes." He watched with the
remainder of the group as the van pulled away and noticed
that Gibson and Sharon were standing together but apart from
the rest of the crowd. He approached them. "Gibson, do
your parents know that you're alive?"
Gibson looked up at Sharon and then back at Skinner. "No."
"Should I call them?"
Gibson continued to stare back at the man, as if to
challenge his suggestion. "They stopped looking for me a
long time ago."
"I still think that they would like to hear that you are all
"They think I'm dead. I know it's cruel to let them think
that, but they'll just be worried all the time if they find
Skinner decided not to push the issue for the time being.
"Will you be staying in the area for a while now?"
Sharon nodded and replied, "We'll wait until Darryl is out
of the hospital, of course, but I think that we're pretty
much finished here."
"Here's my card," Skinner reached into his jacket, "and this
is the direct line to my office. I have to leave first
thing in the morning, and I want to make sure that you have
this. I want you to call me and let me know where you go.
And if you run into any trouble, I want to know about it.
I'll be there with any help that I can give."
Gibson spoke up again. "That lady - Dana. Are you going to
give back her necklace?"
"She'll be sad, won't she? She wanted him to keep it;
that's why she gave it to him. Now she'll think that he
didn't want it."
"I'm sure that's not the reason, Gibson." Sharon put a hand
on his shoulder to try to get him to look at her. "Maybe he
gave it to Darryl because he knew that he was coming back
first, to let her know that he was all right."
The boy continued to stare at Skinner. "But he'll be back
soon anyways. He could have waited until then."
Sharon knelt down beside the boy. "Gibson, how do you know
that Agent Mulder is coming back?"
"I don't know. I just do."
"Can you tell us when?"
Gibson began looking around, as if there was something else
vying for his attention. "Soon. But not here."
"Can you tell us where?" Skinner asked, but Gibson had
already begun to wander away from them back towards the
trailers. He watched with Sharon as the boy entered the
nearest one. "Listen, I have some colleagues who'll be in
town later on this afternoon. I'm going to send them out
this way. They're not law enforcement, but I think that
they can be a lot of help to your research. And they know
Mulder and Scully quite well."
"Gibson seems quite taken with Dana." Sharon pulled at the
sleeves of her sweater as the morning chill began to wear
off. "We didn't meet under the best of circumstances, but
she did visit me in the hospital a couple of times after
that. Maybe if we get to DC soon, we can come visit."
"I think that Scully would like meet Gibson again."
Especially now, he thought to himself.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Devils Lake General Hospital
The ringing surprised him as he had momentarily forgotten
that he had a cellphone in his pocket. "Skinner."
The voice was Frohike's. "We're about to hit the town
limits. Where are you?"
"At the hospital."
"Care to elaborate?"
Skinner walked further down the hospital hallway away from
the floor nurses' station. "There's someone here who may
have seen Mulder within the last ten days. I'm waiting for
the doctor to get through with him so that we can talk."
"He's *seen* Mulder?"
"This conversation will make more sense once you get here.
Take the first exit on the bypass around Devils Lake and
follow the signs." He quickly hung up when he noticed that
the doctor had exited the examining room and was talking to
the group that had accompanied Darryl to the hospital. He
walked back to the main area and waited for the doctor to
finish his brief summary of `let's wait and see' before
approaching him. "Doctor, I need to be able to question
"I can't let you do that just now."
Skinner pulled out his FBI credentials and continued with
his assertion. "I'm pursuing a missing witness, someone
that your patient has had contact with recently. Now, they
were both reported missing at about the same time, and you
can see the condition of one of them. Another man's life
may be at stake here."
The doctor refolded the patient file and tucked it under his
arm. "He's not going to be able to tell you much. If you'd
wait until the fluids kick in and he gets some rest, he
might actually start making some sense."
"What has he been saying?"
"He keeps asking for someone named . . . Kelly, I think, and
mumbling something about telling her he's coming home soon."
The doctor shook his head and headed for the nurses' desk.
"Sorry, that's about all."
Skinner checked with the other men in the group. After
receiving assurances that they would remain to keep an eye
on Darryl until he got back, Skinner thanked them and headed
for the main exit where the two Gunmen were waiting for him.
Frohike hopped down off of the stone fence that surrounded
the building. "What's up, G-man?"
Langly was still stretched out on its ledge. "Yeah, where's
"He's going to be out of it for while." Skinner paused at
the bottom of the stairs and waited for them to join him.
"I'll come back and question him later."
"So, how do you know he's seen Mulder?"
Skinner reached into his jacket and pulled out the
handkerchief, opening the folds but not touching the
Frohike genuinely seemed to be shocked. "Is this what I
think it is?"
"Is that - blood?" Langly looked as if he faint on the
"It's quite possible, but it probably belongs to the guy
inside." Skinner refolded the handkerchief and put it back
in his jacket pocket. "I'm going to hand this over to the
labs when I get back and see if there is anything out of the
"So where to now?" Frohike asked.
"How do you guys feel about doing some camping?"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Route 57 Campgrounds
Skinner had introduced the two Gunmen to Sharon Graffia and
Jim McCaskill and was outlining their mutual interests.
"There is someone else here you may have heard Mulder and
Scully talk about before. Gibson Praise."
"Whoa. Really?" Langly was pumped.
"The kid had the most amazing brain scans." Frohike paused
to consider the implications of someone with those abilities
residing with a group that appeared to offer little in the
way of protection and turned serious. "Are other people
aware that he's with you?"
"No." Sharon looked to McCaskill. "Well, not that we know
of. Is Gibson in any kind of danger?"
Skinner gave a quick look around to see if Gibson was in the
area before continuing. "How much of his past has he told
McCaskill shook his head. "At first we were sidetracked
because he startled us with his being able to know exactly
what we were looking for. Once we got him to tell us his
name, a quick search told us about his chess playing and
what happened during that one match. But the last we could
find was that he was taken into protective custody. After
that, there was nothing."
"Gibson was kidnapped just after that incident." Skinner
lowered his voice and added, "And we're quite certain that
he was subjected to some unusual medical testing."
"That would make sense," Sharon whispered. "I found some
old scars. Gibson would never tell me about them. Was this
because of his special gifts?"
"Yes. Do others ask you about him? I mean, when you're out
traveling. I don't see other children here."
"We say he's mine," McCaskill replied. "My wife and I lost
our son some years back. SIDS, they said. Lost the wife
right after that. I still have the birth certificate for my
child - figured that if we ever had to, we'd use it for
The two Gunmen looked at each other in silent confirmation
before Frohike made his offer. "We have some experience in
that area - Social Security Number, school records,
immunization cards, that sort of thing. If you're
interested in going ahead and getting it done now."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Crystal City, VA
Rain delays in Minneapolis on the return flight put Skinner
behind schedule in getting back to DC. He had first stopped
by the lab and given them the necklace, with explicit
instructions to run every test known to man and science,
stopping short of harming the evidence. He would expect
their report the following afternoon, he told them.
Afterwards, he went upstairs to his office and found, to his
relief, that there were no urgent messages or voicemails
about or from Scully. He decided it would be easier to get
an early start on the paperwork in the morning.
Skinner had already unlocked the door to his apartment
before he noticed the lurker in the shadows. "You're taking
a chance showing up here."
"Your office hours suck." Krycek did not wait for a verbal
invitation, following Skinner inside and shutting the door
"How is Marita? Have you gotten her settled?"
Krycek nodded and looked around the apartment, noting that
not much had changed since the last time he was there. "And
"She's safe," Skinner replied and then added, "for the
You're not going to tell me where she is, are you, Krycek
thought. He had other ways to mess with his mind. "Were
you able to get any leads on Mulder in North Dakota?"
Skinner dropped the mail he was sorting through onto the
dinette table. "Who says I was in North Dakota?"
"You should really learn to pay your way in cash or at least
with fake credit cards if you don't want people to know
where you've been."
Skinner remained calm but wasted no time in getting to his
phone and punched in a number. "Frohike, are you still with
"Yes, but not for long. A couple of hours ago, one trailer
pulled out of here for . . ."
"Don't tell me where," Skinner interrupted. "I'm not sure
my line is secure. Will the rest follow shortly?"
"Yeah, they went to pick up the package in town, and then
Skinner turned to face Krycek. "Make sure that they get out
"Will do. I'm out."
"I'm heartbroken that you still don't trust me." Krycek may
have been playing the innocent but he never expected to have
the other man charge and pin him against the wall. "Hey,
Skinner applied more pressure to the fake arm to keep in
place, reasoning that it might do more damage than a bare
fist if there was any resistance. "Who else knows?"
"Anyone who can get to your travel request and receipts."
A quick and reasonable answer, Skinner thought. He released
Krycek and backed away. "I wasn't expecting to find
"So you *have* come across something."
"People have a habit of dying when you're around."
"Only when they deserve it." Krycek finished readjusting
his jacket after their tussle. "Hey, I didn't have to tell
you about Marita nearly getting grabbed or getting those
reports for you. So did you find a lead or what?"
Skinner thought it over for a moment. "What do you know
about North Dakota?"
"There's a missile silo there that I'm not anxious to see
the insides of ever again."
"Apparently, there's an area around Devils Lake that started
acting like a UFO Union Station some weeks ago. A group
that tracks that kind of activity went to check it out at
about the same time Mulder and I went to Oregon, and one of
their guys also ended up missing. Only this guy shows back
up with a message from Mulder for Scully."
"And that message is?"
"That he'll be home soon."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lone Gunmen Headquarters
Skinner entered the main work area to find Langly and
Frohike examining archived satellite traffic. "Good to know
that you've gotten back in one piece. Did Gibson and Sharon
and the others get on the road OK?"
Frohike spoke first. "They're heading for their base home
in Indianapolis. I take it that there's a lot of data that
they want to sort through. I was planning on contacting
them next week about any findings."
"So what's been going on at the J. Edgar?" Langly began
scooping together the scattered disks. "Has anyone noticed
that Scully's gone missing?"
"That's why I've stayed away until now." Skinner circled
behind Langly to peek at the data scrolling on the monitors.
"Someone in the mailroom apparently made a big stink about
not being able to deliver folders and went to Personnel to
see if she was on vacation. They called me Tuesday morning.
I went through the routine with Mrs. Scully. We went to her
apartment, found nothing out of place, spoke with the
landlord. We made all the right noises in front of
witnesses. She filed the missing person's report this
morning - she didn't want my name on it for when Scully
turns back up."
"They've called twice - Susanne and Scully," Byers added.
"They want to know what we've found."
"About all we've told them is that we made a trip to North
Dakota where there was evidence of activity but no
verification. She's going to call back again soon."
Frohike sighed and shook his head. "She's getting restless
and making noises about getting back into the search
"She can't do that," Skinner sharply replied.
Frohike snorted, "You tell her."
"Well, I've got to talk to her sometime." Skinner reached
into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small plastic
evidence pouch that contained the cross necklace. "I had
the lab do every kind of test it could think of doing, and
I've got nothing that connects to Mulder."
Langly quietly asked, "What about the blood?"
"Not his. Must be Darryl's. All the other residues can be
attributable to human sources - sweat, most likely. Too
small for fingerprints." Skinner ran his thumb lightly over
the chain. "I'm just not sure that I want to tell her that
I have this."
"We could wait and let Mulder give it back to her."
"No, I should give it to her. At least then she'll know
that there's been some attempt at contact on his part." The
necklace suddenly felt heavy in his palm. "Mulder meant for
Scully to get this. When's the next phone call?"
Byers answered, "Tonight at eleven."
Skinner nodded, paused as if making a quick decision, and
turned to Byers. "Can you arrange it so that I can meet
with her this weekend?"
"I thought that you didn't want to know where she was."
Frohike offered a compromise. "We could have it couriered
with our other information. She'd have it by Monday."
"No." Skinner placed the necklace back in his pocket and
looked at his watch. "I think that I need to explain this
one in person."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
near Carpenter, NC
Skinner felt oddly out of place in the passenger seat of the
rented Camry. When he had asked Byers to arrange to let him
meet with Scully, he did not expect the Gunman invite
himself along, much less do the driving. But with what he
had been able to decipher, he suspected that Byers had his
own motives for making this trip.
He had reminded Byers that the parking deck in his apartment
complex had a video system and had arranged to be picked up
several blocks away. He packed a change of clothes and a
few personal items inside his laptop bag to lessen suspicion
should anyone be watching and note that he might be away for
more than a few hours.
They had listened to National Public Radio (NPR) stations
and their `lighter' Saturday line-up fare to pass the time
before Byers pointed out to Skinner to note certain street
names for future reference. The last few miles were taken
slowly as the car maneuvered around deep puddles down the
unpaved road and then the graveled driveway. A white
clapboard farmhouse awaited them at the end.
Susanne met them on the porch. "Dana's in the kitchen, just
off to the right," she motioned to Skinner after their brief
introduction. She felt awkward in that she seemed to be
trying to get rid of him quickly so that she could be with
Byers, but she released that guilt once the two were alone.
"Hello there, yourself." Byers was so sure that, once the
two had some time to themselves without conspiracies or
imminent death hanging over them, he would be able to find
the words that he had only rehearsed in his mind when he was
finally alone with Susanne after all this time. Seeing her,
however, crumpled all those speeches faster than a well-
planned building implosion. He finally recovered enough of
his senses to reach out to her and draw her into an embrace.
They stood there for a moment, hearing nothing but their own
breathing, until Susanne broke the silence. "How long can
"I have to get Skinner back to DC sometime tomorrow. Can
you put up with us for that long?"
Susanne gave him a squeeze before letting Byers go. "I
think that I can manage that. Come on inside."
"I need to contact the guys, let them know we got here
Susanne took Byers' hand and led him into the house. They
had to pass the kitchen on the way to the computer room and
saw that Scully was pouring a couple of glasses of tea.
Skinner took one of them and sat down at the small wooden
dinette set in the corner of the kitchen. "Thank you,
Scully. You're looking well."
"I've been doing little except for sleeping and reading on-
line articles." She closed the refrigerator door and joined
him at the table. "How is my mother?"
"Holding up. I talked with her yesterday. She filed a
missing person's report so you're going to want to be
careful with your picture being out there. She knows you
are safe, but of course she can't share that with the rest
of your family."
She let out a tentative laugh that quickly turned into a
sigh. "I can just hear Bill now."
"I've had the opportunity to get an earful from him already.
Mulder should probably not show up at any of your family
gatherings any time soon."
Scully was now all seriousness at the mention of her partner
and leaned forward across the table. "I'm glad to hear that
you're still in an active search for him. The guys won't
tell me much, and I know that you had to have come across
something up there."
"I'm not sure where to begin." It was difficult to look her
in the eye and say that, but he had no other opening line
"You have to tell me everything," Scully urged. "I need to
know - good or bad."
"I came across a group of UFO researchers that had some
people that you might remember. Sharon Graffia, for one."
Skinner paused as he noted the surprised look on her face
and wondered what the reaction would be when he completed
his sentence. "And Gibson Praise."
The sight of the sickly boy that she had once cradled in her
arms flooded her thoughts. "Gibson? He's alive?"
"Yes, and still with whatever powers he possessed back then
and maybe more to a higher degree now. Gibson is the one
who guided that group to North Dakota."
Scully reached out for Skinner's forearm. "There's more,
"Gibson told them that that area was a major jump-off point
for the kinds of crafts that I saw in Oregon. He mentioned
Mulder *by name* prior to their leaving for that place." He
placed his hand over hers. "He also says that Mulder will
"How? How could he know?" Scully pulled away and leaned
back in the chair. "Did he say when?"
"He just said that it would be soon. I don't know if he
really *does* know, but I think that he is telling the
truth." Here goes nothing, he thought. "When they first
got to the place that Gibson pointed out, one of their group
disappeared. Only Gibson and Sharon witnessed it, and it
fits with what I saw when Mulder vanished. Right after I
found the group, the missing man turned up. He was calling
your name, and he had this with him." Skinner reached into
his shirt pocket and then held out his hand to her.
For a moment, it seemed to Scully as if the world had been
plunged into a solar eclipse - everything had been blotted
out and turned to black except for the illumination from the
cross that lay before her in Skinner's palm. She reached
out and he turned his hand over to gently drop the necklace
across her fingers. She brought it closer to her face to
examine it, but she already knew. She knew that it was
hers, the same one that she had fastened around Mulder's
neck before he had left. He was giving it back to her
Scully swallowed hard and tried to find her voice. "This
man, the one who came back."
"I was able to question him before I left, but there wasn't
that much that he could remember. I showed him Mulder's
picture, but he couldn't ID it. He recognizes your name; he
just doesn't know why he knows it. He might remember more
with time, but there's no guarantee."
"I don't know, Scully. Maybe this is just Mulder's way of
letting you know that he's coming back."
Her voice was suddenly flat, as if to mask her fear of what
was now running through her mind. "Or that it was his last
chance to return this." She looked up at Skinner, blinking
her eyes in an unsuccessful effort to keep the tears from
spilling over. She stood with a hurried, "Excuse me," and
left the kitchen.
Skinner listened to her footsteps trailing down the hallway
and heard a door close a few seconds later. This is going
to be a long afternoon, he thought as he too left the
kitchen and wandered out onto the screened-in porch.
~~ to be continued ~~
For those who are still with me, I am expecting the next
section to be the last chapter in this particular story. I
anticipate that I should still be able to meet my two-week
The title of this story and the opening lyric are taken from
"Walkaway Joe", recorded by Tricia Yearwood and written by
Vince Melamed and Greg Barnhill, and are used without
Comments and questions are always welcome.
CONTINUED IN PART 5