TITLE: A Bear Started It, part 1
AUTHOR: Meghan O'Connor
EMAIL: gyrfalcon@yahoo.com
FEEDBACK: Please! The more I get, the more you get! 
DISCLAIMER: Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Byers, Langly, and Frohike are 
1013's. However, Rachel Ann MacGregor is all mine. Song by Leann 
Rimes, all rights reserved etc. etc.
SPOILERS: The X-Files, all up to the last season finale, and the LGM 
CATEGORY: Post-Colonization, LGM/other 
SYNOPSIS: Looking back on one woman's life 
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ya'll wanted more in the series, so here you go. Just 
how did Rachel get the courage to tell them she loved them all?

I always hated the silence when they went hunting. I know it made 
more sense that they all carry back as much as possible, but I could 
never stand the quiet of the house during that time. At the time, I 
thought I was just afraid of someone coming when I was alone. 
Looking back, I realize it was more of a fear that they wouldn't come 
back. I couldn't have borne it if they hadn't returned, food in 
their arms or not.

Frohike did the best shooting, using his skills from Vietnam. He 
never did tell me about that time, but I know he never slept well 
after going out and shooting a rifle for a week straight. But he 
almost always bagged us enough to keep hunger away. When the pond 
wasn't iced over, Langly and Byers would go fishing. I admit, I 
remained squeamish. No amount of need brought me close to fish 
guts. I was more than willing to help cook and clean if I didn't 
have to skin anything. I used to think the things my mother taught 
me were useless. Cooking, sewing, gardening, they all came in handy 
when it was necessary.

It was barely midway through fall when their hunting trip ended 
abruptly. I expected them to be gone a week, but they returned after 
three days. Bruised and battered and exhausted, and I was sick with 
worry. I helped Byers put the meat in the deep freeze, then attended 
to their hurts as they told me about the bear. Apparently, as they 
were bringing back the deer, they accidentally disturbed a black bear 
at his autumn forage. Normally, the bear would have avoided them, 
but I guess he felt cornered or the smell of blood upset him. Langly 
was scratched down his ribs. I cleaned the wounds extremely 
meticulously, as I remembered something about how dirty bear claws 
can be. Byers had bruises, and Frohike was dizzy where the bear had 
clocked him against a tree. It felt good to sit on that bear rug in 
front of the fire later, but I digress. I got them all fixed up and 
started dinner. It wasn't until we were cleaning up that it hit me.

We took our dishes in the kitchen and I rinsed them for later. I 
suggested that Langly boost the power on our walkie-talkies so they 
could take them next time. Frohike was stunned they hadn't thought 
of it before. Byers just mentioned softly how they spoke on the way 
back about how afraid they were of leaving me alone. Suddenly, my 
heart was racing and I couldn't breathe. All I could think about was 
how close I came to losing them. My mind was filled with horrible 
visions of them torn and bleeding on a patch of snow. I'd never 
thought about a threat other than human. We were so concerned with 
the fate of people and aliens that we never thought of accidents or 
illness. I excused myself and went to my room to lay down. I must 
have stared at the ceiling for hours, my mind whirling. The last 
coherent thought before I exhaustedly slipped away was that I had 
better tell them before anything else happened.

Being tired and hurting, the guys weren't all up as early as I was. 
Byers was the first, around 10am, then Langly about noon, and Mel an 
hour later. I fixed us a late lunch, and we reached an unspoken 
agreement to share one of the bottles of wine from the cellar. I 
asked the guys to all come into the living room so we could talk. 
Looking back, I have to laugh. They'd all had the experience that 
when a woman says we need to talk, it's either bad news or they're 
being dumped. So the look of nervousness and apprehension was 
understandable. I decided to just jump into it, as they deserved 
nothing less than complete honesty. Of course, I did ask first not 
to be interrupted, as I knew Langly might.

"I had a revelation last night. We have always been so worried about 
danger coming from humans or aliens that we never thought about being 
separated due to illness or injury. Thank the gods that your came 
back safely yesterday, because I couldn't have done anything about it 
if you hadn't." They shifted nervously, but didn't interrupt. "I 
could only think about how close I came to losing you. We can be as 
careful as possible, but nothing is set in stone. Nothing except for 
one thing I just realized." Byers looked at me concernedly. Langly 
looked confused, but I think Mel was realizing where I was going with 
this. "I love you." I held up my hands as they leaned forward, 
cutting off anything they would say. "Let me say this. I've known 
you three for six years now. I trust each of you equally with my 
life, and we've been the best of friends through trying times. I 
don't believe our isolation is making me say this, but I may not have 
had the courage to do so if we weren't all alone up here. But we 
don't know what each day will bring, so I don't believe in wasting a 
moment of them." I made sure to look at each one of them straight in 
the eye. I had to make them understand this. "I love each of you. 
I know that may be hard to wrap your minds around, but I can't 
imagine being without any one of you. You're each so very different, 
but we function as one. I'm also not talking about the love of a 
friend or a sister in any way." I knew I must be blushing a 
little. "I love you as a woman loves a man. You three are the 
reason I get up every day. You three are the light in my eyes, the 
laughter in my throat." I made sure to make eye contact again with 
each one in turn. "Melvin, I love you. John, I love you. Richard, 
I love you. I leave each of you in your own time to decide what, if 
anything, you want to do about that, but it won't change how I 
feel." I fell silent then. What else could I say.

Byers cleared his throat nervously. His voice was choked with 
emotion as he spoke. "I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I 
think whatever happens, should happen slowly. As you say, we don't 
know what the future will be, and we shouldn't do anything we could 
end up regretting." Langly and Frohike nodded in agreement.

"I think that's perfectly acceptable." I tried to lighten the mood a 
little with a joke. "Besides, I'm not that easy. It takes at least 
three dates." Byers and Langly snickered. Frohike just crossed his 
arms defensively. I looked at him. "What's wrong, Frohike?" He was 
trying to cover his discomfort with gruffness. That's my bear.

He was quiet for a moment. "I'm old enough to be your father." It 
struck me what he was really trying to get across. He hadn't had a 
relationship in many years, he'd only had magazines and not-Mulder's 
videos for so long. He didn't think he was loveable anymore and 
worried about not being able to compete with two young guys. 
Glancing at Byers and Langly, I knew they understood as well. I got 
up and went over to his chair. Kneeling in front of him, I placed my 
hands on his knees and leaned close.

"But you're not my father. I had a father, that's not what I want. 
There is no competing here, Mel. I didn't fall in love because of 
your age, or in spite of it. You all deserve my honesty. You 
present this image of a lecherous grumpy old man, but I know better. 
I know what it feels like to have someone smile at me as they 
gallantly hold my chair at dinner. I love your honest laughter at a 
good joke. I love the protective man who almost growled at the 7-11 
clerk that came on to me once on an ice cream run. I love the man 
who cared enough to take flowers to Scully in the hospital when no 
one else did. I love the warm enveloping arms that held me when I 
cried after my cat died. Take your time in coming to terms with what 
I've said, Melvin Frohike, but remember I love you." I could swear I 
almost saw tears behind those lenses. I knew it would take some time 
to reassure him that I didn't care how old he was. I'd let him know 
later that I also wanted to know what those leather gloves felt like 
on my skin. He reached for his wine glass as I rose and sat beside 
Byers on the couch.

My heavens, Byers was blushing. I took his hand in mine and 
interlaced our fingers. It was warm and comfortable and felt so 
right. I knew I would see a flash of pain when I said what I had to 
say. But I resolved to never let go. "I can never be Suzanne." 
Yes, there was that momentary hurt crossing his eyes. "I don't want 
to be, and I'm not trying to replace her in your heart at all. But I 
love you too, John. I have always loved your dedication to the 
truth, your innate sense of ethics. I love the man that went out for 
coffee and remembered our favorites without asking. I love your 
practicality and the way you plan for the future without knowing what 
it holds. I love that no one ever destroyed your sense of hope. I 
love the man that braved his fear of hospitals to go to Scully when 
Mulder needed you to. I love your brave heart, your silly insistence 
on suits, and your attention to detail. I only hope I can give to 
you the way you give so much to others. I love you, John Fitzgerald 
Byers."" The smile spread slowly across his face as he drew me into a 
deep hug. It was as if some of his pain from Suzanne leaked away and 
he seemed so much more relaxed. I pulled away after a few minutes 
and smiled into his eyes.

I will never forget the look on Langly's face as I went towards him, 
as I sat in front of him on the floor. Deer in the headlights is 
mild compared to the fear in his eyes. He was acting stoic, but I 
could smell the nervousness coming off him in waves. I had just gone 
from buddy to potential lover in a few seconds, and he was having 
trouble dealing with the fact that a woman actually wanted him. I 
sat there for a few minutes until he seemed to calm a little. I 
didn't touch him yet, not wanting him to bolt. I kept my voice calm 
and soft. "You're not a geek." I think he gasped a little. "You're 
not a dork, you're not a four-eyed hippie freak, you're not a 
socially inept, romantically deficient metal head." His eyes were 
wide behind the black frames. "I know you thought you'd probably die 
a virgin, and that you think computers are much safer than people. I 
also love the man behind that mask. I love and appreciate the way 
you distance yourself, not because you're afraid of hurting anyone, 
but because you're afraid of hurting them. But the real you shines 
through. I remember how you fixed my laptop one time. You had 
overheard that I missed having a garden to grow lilies in like I had 
back in California, so you returned my laptop with garden wallpaper 
and lily icons. That meant a lot to me. I love the man that held my 
hair out of the way when I got sick on bad Chinese food, because you 
didn't want me to get my hair messed up. I love the man who believed 
in innocent joy like the Cap'n Toby show and vindicated his childhood 
hero. I love the man that thinks of his friends and get them a beer 
when he gets up without being asked." I leaned a little closer. "I 
love the triumphant smile when your hacking goes well. I love how 
your eyes remind me of the ocean. I love the smell of your hair when 
I lean close to see what you're typing." I leaned even closer, 
keeping his eyes on mine. "I love you, Richard Langly." His eyes 
were wide with shock when I lightly kissed him. Nothing earth-
shattering, but maybe rocking his world a little. I'd be willing to 
bet no one had done that before. No way was I going to let this 
tiger die a virgin. I moved away slowly and got back in my chair. I 
didn't speak, knowing that someone would fill the silence for me.

Amazingly, Frohike spoke first. "I can't speak for them, Rachel, 
but…" He couldn't quite look at me yet while he spoke. "I think you 
just put a name to what I've felt. We've been so comfortable around 
you that I never consciously thought about why I always wanted to 
protect you. I thought it was maybe a fatherly thing, but you're 
right. I don't feel like your father. I think Byers is right, we 
should take this slow. I think we all need to agree that whatever 
comes up we talk about it. We can't afford to have any hidden 
resentments, any feelings of being forced to do something. If we're 
uncomfortable we need to have the right to say no and be left 
alone." The others nodded vigorously and made sounds of assent.

"I wouldn't expect any less. I want us to feel honest with each 
other. If someone wants to kiss someone good morning, or hug them, 
or whatever, they can feel free to do so. And if anything makes 
someone uncomfortable, they need to know that they can say they're 
not ready and it's still ok." I took a drink. "I know you guys were 
all raised straight, and so was I. But I know you care about each 
other very much. You were together long before I knew you. Even if 
it never becomes sexual, I think it would be freeing if you can 
express that caring openly. I know it's not going to be easy, and 
we'll still have fights and disagreements. We're only human. But I 
don't want this to just be a woman with three men. I want this to be 
four people who are a family. You are my family." Byers was 
blushing again. I looked over at Langly. "What say you, Lord 

He was even paler than normal, if that was possible. Still a little 
scared, he stammered a little. "I… I never thought a normal woman 
would want me." My heart shook, knowing what it cost him to say that 
in front of everyone. I grinned like a Cheshire cat. 

"Well, now you can think it everyday. I don't know if I would call 
myself normal, but I do want you." He actually gasped out loud this 

........part 2 next