Welcome To The Harem
Wrong Kind Of Paradise by Martha Part 5 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 V
Disclaimer: All recognizable XF characters are the creative
property of 1013 Productions and FOX Broadcasting.
Spoilers: Requiem (US7)
Summary: The conclusion of a different beginning for S8.
Prior sections may be found on Ephemeral and Deja under the
Previously in this saga: Mulder is still missing. Scully
has been hiding out with Susanne Modeski, with the Gunmen's
help. Marita Covarrubias may have her own agenda. Skinner
encountered a group that included Sharon Graffia and Gibson
Praise, and a missing man shows up with Scully's cross
necklace. Skinner travels with Byers to return the necklace
The Wrong Kind of Paradise V
For the cold hard truth revealed
What it had known
"Where is Gibson now?"
Skinner had not heard her approach the screen door, absorbed
as he was with listening to the early evening song of the
locusts. The door creaked open, and he watched as she
walked barefoot across the floorboards to the screen framing
of the porch before turning to face him. He noticed that
she was again wearing the familiar cross necklace.
Scully spoke again. "I need to speak with him."
"I don't think that's wise at this time."
She seemed puzzled at his response. "How do we know that he
is really safe? If you were able to find him, how much
longer do you think it will be before others find out, the
kind of people who would hurt him again?"
Skinner had to admit that sending someone out there to watch
over him was not an option that he had considered,
especially since it meant explaining *why* someone had to
watch him. "It was a fluke that I even found him in the
"If he knows where Mulder is, that he might be back soon, I
need to talk with him. We have to find out what he knows."
"But that's just it, Scully. He doesn't *know*. He may not
know anything for sure until it happens."
"All the more reason for me to be with him." Her voice had
started out as a whisper but then grew more forceful with
her increasing frustration. "I can't just sit here until
the phone rings. I need to be there. I *have* to be there
when it happens. I don't understand how you could have left
him alone. Unprotected."
"Putting the two of you in the same place may not be the
prudent thing to do. If someone does locate either of you .
. ." Skinner quickly changed the subject. "He has
apparently been very selective about who he approaches, and
it has kept him safe. He's a very cautious little boy."
"Gibson should be fourteen or so by now. He shouldn't be so
"Honestly, it doesn't look like he's aged any since we first
"That's odd. Puberty should be doing a number on him by
now." She walked back towards the door but paused beside
his chair to issue her ultimatum. "You'll contact the
people with him. Get me to where Gibson is, or I'll ask
Frohike to come and get me and take me there personally."
As the door slammed behind her, Skinner knew that she would
follow through on that threat and that Frohike would be only
too glad to help her. He followed her back inside the house
to start making the phone calls.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Byers and Susanne were on the couch in the living room,
listening to the local oldies station. They were lounging
in each other arms, as they had most of the afternoon,
catching up on all the small talk that they had missed out
on in the months since their `reunion' in Vegas. They had
talked of the things that they would do without regard to
when they would be done - it was understood that these
events would take place without question. It hurt too much
to focus on a timetable to their future, knowing that it
could be interrupted in an instant.
"Dana told me about the baby." Susanne shifted to catch his
reaction. "You couldn't say anything?"
"It wasn't my place to tell. If she was going to be here
for any length of time, I know that she would have said
something to you."
She smiled, wondering if that was the real reason he had
never brought the subject up. "Why do I get the feeling
that this wasn't something that you were expecting, so to
"We didn't know that Mulder and Scully . . . well, they'd
never said anything to the three of us." He had been told
that he had a tendency to blush easily; he could feel his
ears reddening as he stammered out his answer.
"But you've been friends for a long time."
"I sense that this part of their relationship is still
somewhat new to the both of them. I doubt even Skinner
Susanne paused and wondered if she wanted to take this
conversation in another direction. She decided to take that
chance. "John, why did you come here today with Skinner?"
His embarrassment was now complete. "I wanted to see you."
"You've known where I've been since Vegas. You could have
visited any time you'd like."
"I couldn't take the chance of compromising your location -
no matter how many precautions I took, I'd always be worried
about those people finding you."
"And now? Do you think I'm in any less danger now?"
His guilty conscience swerved into the fast lane - Just
admit it, Byers; you've been too much of a chicken to
approach her before now. You've been wanting to take her up
on that `someday' offer for months but you always stopped in
your tracks because you couldn't take the chance that she
might reject you. Here's the perfect opportunity to tell
her the damn truth. "It's this thing with Mulder being
missing. He and Scully - they've known each other for
years, and we could sometimes see that there was more than
just a partnership at times. I didn't want another day to
go by without being able to talk to you, actually seeing
The spark of sadness in his eyes caught her offguard. "What
if something like this happens to us? What if . . ."
He cut off her morbid speculation with a kiss. They parted
a moment later, and Byers shifted to allow her to rest her
head on his shoulder. "We've already lived it. Or at
least, I have. I'd lost you for almost ten years. I didn't
even know if you were alive. And then after Vegas, I was
always afraid to contact you in case someone was tracing the
"Langly would never hear of that. Most likely, no one's
even been trying to find Susanne Modeski. Poor Dana," she
sighed. "Mulder goes missing, and then she finds out that
"Sounds like a soap opera."
"I don't want a soap opera, John. I just want `us'. Can we
at least have that?"
They continued to make plans for their future - on that
couch and in her bedroom - into the early morning hours.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Marita had electronically combed the records of the state
nursing agencies for Virginia and Maryland. If Greta *had*
applied for a new position, she had done it with a facility
that did not bother to check her accreditations with the
It may have been possible that Greta was being taken care of
by friends of the old man so that she would not have to
work. Alex was looking into that scenario and had visited
several locations in New York and western Virginia that had
served as safehouses in the past but had had no luck so far.
There was another possibility that lingered in the recesses
of her mind - that the old man was not dead and that Greta
was still taking care of him. That would explain why her
recommendations files remained undisturbed but opened up the
larger questions as to where they were now located and their
current capability to interfere with her plans.
And if she was able to find them both, she would need a
secure place to house them.
Or dispose of them after she had gotten the information that
she needed. She had not yet decided on their fate.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The cab had made two wrong turns off of the interstate.
Scully carried the small piece of paper where Skinner had
scribbled down the address and had repeated the street name
several times. She was on the verge of making the driver
pull over to ask for directions but was equally concerned
about not making a scene - she did not want this driver
remembering that she was in his cab.
The wig of light brown curls should have been enough
camouflage to disguise her identity in case her photo was on
the circulating missing persons' bulletins. Hiding her red
hair was the main objective but, looking in the harsh
lighting of the women's room in the airport, she thought she
looked more like a recovering chemo patient rather than
someone trying to mask her looks.
The driver finally found the house. She quickly handed him
a twenty and a five for the $22.45 meter and got out of the
cab, toting the small carry-on bag that Susanne had given
her. Scully had not bought that many new clothes, waiting
instead to expand her wardrobe in step with her waistline.
She was greeted by several household members, including
Sharon Graffia, who had shown her to the converted study
that would be her room for the next few weeks. Scully
quickly sought out the bathroom to wash her face and shed
the wig. As she returned to the living room, she found
Gibson Praise waiting for her.
That he appeared exactly as when they first met, with the
exception of his hair color, shocked her a bit. She rushed
over and knelt in front of him, taking his two hands in
hers. "Gibson? Are you all right? How . . ."
"You ask too many questions."
No, nothing about him had changed, she thought. She *had*
asked all of her questions in the space of the seconds it
took to reach him. But would he answer them?
Gibson settled her fears. "He is alive. And we will find
him. It's not much longer now."
"But Gibson . . ."
"He's thinking of you, too. It will be OK, Scully."
She got back up on her feet and guided him towards the couch
to sit down. "Gibson, I want to know. I need to know
everything. How did you get out of that reactor? What
happened to that creature? Who took care of you?"
"I know that I was in there for a long time. I was really
tired a lot. I fell asleep." He inched himself backwards
to rest against the pillows. "One time, I woke up and I was
outside, in the desert. I could hear people talking the
regular way, and I knew that these people just wanted to
help me get better. So I stayed with them for a while. But
I was scared that those men would come back and find me so I
"How did you survive?"
Gibson sunk deeper into the pillows. "I did some bad
"What kind of bad things?"
Gibson hesitated and then lowered his voice, as if he did
not want the others in the house to hear him. "I took food
from a couple of stores. I stole some money once."
"You should have tried to find me." She put an arm around
his shoulder. "I would have helped you."
"You would have only put me in another hospital."
"Honey, you were hurt and needed help back then." Scully
remembered his accusations of being her lab rat shortly
before he disappeared the last time. "I should have never
let you out of my sight."
"I did dream of Mulder once; he was in a hospital too. I
tried to talk to him, but I don't think he heard me then."
"Can he hear you now, Gibson?" Scully was still curious as
to how his powers may have expanded per Skinner's previous
Gibson replied by shrugging his shoulders. "Only sometimes.
I don't think that he wants to hear me. I think that he'd
rather hear from you."
"I can't do what you do."
"Yes, you can."
She stared back at him and relaxed her hold of his shoulder.
The boy stared back at her, not believing that she did not
know how simple it could have been. Gibson pointed to her
necklace, and Scully picked up the cross with two fingers.
She decided to give it a try - she'd done her fair share of
`Mulder, when are you coming home?'
The air around her changed, like she was in a plane that had
lost cabin pressure in mid-flight. Nothing moved - no
shadows, nothing in the background shifted and all the noise
from the other rooms faded with the exception of a buzzing
in her ears. Scully watched as Gibson looked back at her
with knowing eyes and nodded. In that moment, she received
her answer in a voice that she had not heard in several
`Soon, Scully. Soon.'
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Crystal City, VA
The telephone call had caught him in the middle of getting
dressed. "Where?" Skinner asked again.
"Paragould, Arkansas," Frohike repeated. "In the northeast
section of the state."
Byers' voice came over the line. "Little time to explain.
Scully is with Gibson and the group. They're driving."
The Gunmen were working in tandem, and Frohike took over
again. "They were already on the road when we got the call.
Gibson says they'll make it there in time, but they've got a
few hours on us."
Skinner was trying to figure out the fastest way there.
"Where's the nearest airport?"
"Memphis. You're already booked. Northwest 857 leaving at
9:20. You'll need to make your own arrangements for a
"And the three of you?"
"We're on US Airways 896 right behind you. If we time this
right, we'll be coming in from the south as they head in
from the north."
Skinner jotted down the information on a small notepad next
to the phone. "And Gibson is sure about this? Mulder's
"Scully believes him. That's all I need to know."
Byers again interrupted. "Hang up, Skinner. We can contact
them once we start getting close."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Somewhere in Missouri
Scully turned around to find Gibson huddled in the back seat
of the van. "Gibson, is something wrong?"
He kept staring out of the window and croaked out an answer.
She got up from her seat and sat down next to him. "Gibson?
Something *is* wrong. Tell me."
He first looked at the other people in the van and then
turned towards Scully. He continued to speak in a whisper.
"I know you're gonna have a baby. And I know that there are
people out there who want to take your baby. Cause they
think it will be like me. After we find Agent Mulder,
you'll still have to hide from them and take Mulder with
you. Cause they want him, too."
This alarmed Scully. He did not seem to be scared, but he
shivered like someone with the knowledge that they were
facing a non-too-pleasant future. "Who, Gibson? Who are
"The same ones who took me before. That man who's always
smoking. He's still trying to find me."
She put her arm around his shoulders to comfort him. "When
we get there, you stay with me. Nothing is going to happen
to us, understand?"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
After pulling over to the side of the road and parking among
the other vehicles, the Gunmen spotted Skinner and Scully
walking along the perimeter of what appeared to be an
abandoned construction site. They exchanged details of
their decidedly uneventful flights before asking about the
"We're waiting for sundown," Skinner explained. "Should be
Langly, ever curious, checked out the membership of the
other groups gathered nearby. "Where's the Wonder Kid?"
"Gibson?" Scully looked around the immediate area.
"Gibson?" she called out again with no response. She walked
over to Sharon and Jim McCaskill, thinking that they might
have been talking with him. "Has anyone seen Gibson? He
was right beside me. I don't know where he went."
"He was just there, over by that rock, a few minutes ago."
Scully walked over to the spot that Jim had pointed out and
circled around the small boulder, thinking that perhaps
Gibson was hiding on the other side. Finding no sign of
him, she turned around and looked across the terrain, paying
particular attention to the growing shadows and potential
hiding places for young boys. Before she could take a step
away from the rock, Scully began to feel the change in air
pressure around her, much like she had experienced before,
and instinctively froze.
The wind picked up, and she noticed some of the other group
members starting to move within her range of sight in the
growing darkness. A light, she thought; there should be a
light from the sky, they had said before. Several moments
then passed, and there was no change in her view. She
called out for Gibson again but only heard the movement of
the others behind her and a faint echo in the distance.
Scully began to panic - she had lost sight of Gibson who was
her only established link to Mulder these last couple of
days. She reached for the cross on her necklace, the one
object that comforted her, the one object that had been
given back to her from someplace beyond. And she thought of
them both - Gibson, whom she hoped was still somewhere near
her and Mulder, whom she was promised would be coming back
to her that night.
A small group that included Frohike and Skinner headed in
her direction with flashlights. One of them handed her a
spare, and they began to spread out forward in their silent
search. Scully continued with the hunt, her hand at her
throat, fingering the cross. Concentrating and hoping that
both Mulder and Gibson could hear her pleas.
Another few moments passed. Scully had to stop her forward
motion when the pressure began to feel like her head was in
a vise. Her eyes began watering from the pain, and she let
go of her necklace to wipe away the stray tears. The
pounding in her head seemed to subside, and she shone the
flashlight ahead of her to maneuver the descending slope.
A movement caught her attention, but she thought that it was
another searcher who had passed her when she had stopped.
It then dawned on her that the figure was moving towards
her, and at first she thought that it was Gibson coming back
from his hiding place, to come back to her side as she had
made him promise. But the figure was growing larger, larger
than the small boy should be, as it approached.
Scully's single scream echoed across the terrain and brought
the other members of the search party to her location. They
found her on the ground, silently weeping and cradling an
unconscious Fox Mulder.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mulder was waking up again. The Gunmen and Scully had
gathered around the bed, waiting to see if he would be able
to push through the barrier of consciousness this time and
become alert enough to carry on a sustained conversation.
Earlier attempts had Mulder falling back asleep in mid-
sentence, when he spoke at all.
"What happened?" Mulder made an attempt to sit up but was
only able to shift his shoulders. "Where are the others?"
Byers spoke up first. "What others?"
"Theresa. Billy Miles."
"There was no one else, Mulder. Only you."
"But they were right there with me."
Scully had been so relieved at hearing him speak that she
had not wanted to interrupt but now found her voice. "You
were the only one there."
"We have to go back." Mulder made another attempt at trying
to get out of the bed. "Where am I?"
Scully put a hand on his shoulder to get him to stop
squirming and to listen to what she had to say. "Too much
time has passed, and we've been traveling for a couple of
Frohike looked at the puzzled expression on Mulder's face
and stepped in. "You don't remember what's happened, do
The Gunmen and Scully exchanged several stares and mouthed
phrases before Scully proceeded with the explanation.
"Marita Covarrubias had warned me - right after you
disappeared - that someone may be after me. Gibson Praise
told me the same thing just before you reappeared. I'm
taking them seriously."
Langly finally got his chance to contribute to the
situation. "You're in a safe house in Humboldt, Tennessee.
You both should be able to stay for a bit longer, hopefully
until you're able to get some rest. But after that . . ."
"We got Scully underground," Frohike added. "We can do the
same for Mulder."
"Together." Scully placed her hand on top of Mulder's. "We
Frohike reached out to put a hand on Scully's shoulder.
"Under the circumstances, we wouldn't consider any other
"Where's Gibson now?" Mulder was now more aware than he had
been and was able to push himself up against the headboard
while Scully rearranged the pillows. "I thought that I saw
him . . . I don't remember where. I could have sworn that
he was the one leading us out."
"We lost track of him in all the excitement," Langly
explained, "and no one's seen him since."
Byers helped out with straightening the blankets. "We have
come to one conclusion - that he might have been taken in
exchange for you."
"In fact, since he's the one that guided us to that spot, it
could very well be that he orchestrated the entire event."
Scully met the confusion on Mulder's face with an
explanation. "He may really be more like they are instead
of like us."
Mulder, probably still not convinced that he understood
everything that had been said so far, moved on to more
pressing matters. "So what happens now?"
"Skinner went back to DC a couple of days ago, to file the
reports that nothing happened out there, that there were no
further developments in your missing person's case. No one
knows you're back, Mulder - only those of us in this room
along with Skinner and the people in Sharon's group, and
we're going to keep it that way. CGB Spender or someone
working for him may still be interested in finding me."
"What now? You have something that they want?"
Another round of tense stares passed between Scully and the
Gunmen. Without further hesitations, the three made their
excuses and turned to exit the room, leaving the FBI agents
to their privacy.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He was barely awake, and it hurt to walk. He was dizzy and
wanted to throw up. There was a sharp pain in his arm where
the other person had grabbed him and was now dragging him
down a hallway. Gibson guessed by the harsh fluorescent
lighting streaming down from above and the passing doors
with small windows and deadbolts that he was in a dormitory
or a clinic of some kind. He had a working history with
He could barely lift his head to see who it was that was
forcing him to make this long walk. He tried to listen for
that person's thoughts, but the drugs that he had been given
earlier were making a maze out of his own thought processes.
They rounded a corner and came to a door at the dead end.
Gibson could hear that another person was now with them, the
two of them whispering, and then a rattling of keys. He
still could not see the two of them clearly, but their
talking helped him to focus. The dark-haired man he had met
before - he was one of those who had driven him to that
place where they had operated on him. The blonde-haired
woman was someone new but - somehow - she seemed familiar.
The door opened and Gibson was pushed inside. It had been a
while since he had stood on his own. He was still weak and
sank to the floor. He did not have the strength to twist
himself around to face them as the man told him that this
was his new home, and the woman told him to get some rest
before the door behind him was slammed shut and bolted.
Gibson tried to focus on his immediate surroundings - there
was a table with a few chairs next to him and a sink and a
toilet in the corner. He forced his head to turn, and he
spotted a bed a few feet away. He did not have the strength
to drag himself to the comfort of a mattress and blankets
and, instead, stretched out on the cold linoleum floor. As
he surrendered to the drugs and the exhaustion, he thought
of another dark-haired man and a red-headed woman and hoped
that he had given them enough of a headstart to find some
happiness in the present.
Because their time in paradise would not last.
When I started to expand from the original idea for this
story, this was the ending that I was trying to reach. So
in imitating the 1013 fashion (which has begun to grow on
me), I am concluding what I would have liked to have seen as
a two-part opener for Season 8 by answering some issues,
*not* settling others, and leaving the door open for
something resembling resolution for a later time. Which may
or may not happen.
The title and opening lyric are taken from `Walkaway Joe',
recorded by Trisha Yearwood and written by Vince Melamed and
Greg Barnhill, and are used without permission.
I would like to thank the members of the Lone Gunmen Mailing
List for their support and encouragement, especially when I
was posting sections that had little Gunmen content.
SEE ALSO SEQUELS "LOST BOYS AND GOLDEN GIRLS" AND "TEAR A PETAL FROM THE ROSE."