Title: Reunion (1/1)
Summary: Long-standing fellow travelers regroup.
Disclaimer: All the X-Files characters and
references are property of C. Carter,
10-13 Productions and FOX.
Staying underground, literally and figuratively,
for too long did funny things to a person, the
older and stiffer man told himself as he raised
the bubbled trap door and breathed in the
invigorating air of early morning. The smells
of the extreme northwestern hinterland were
sharp and keen.
Not really one for the great outdoors, Frohike
performed a pair of deep squats before lifting
his arms high over head for a good stretch.
"Hey you two," he shouted down into the hole in
the ground, "haul your asses up here before you
two turn into moles. Shock your lungs. It's
been seventy-two hours straight." Frohike
sucked his bottom teeth, trying to remove
something stringy wedged in-between two in front.
When Byer's head popped up through the hatch of
their survival bunker, whose layout was patterned
along the lines of an expansive igloo without
the narrow entry, Frohike had eked out the
bothersome bit of pulp from the quarter section
of orange he'd had for breakfast.
Byers breathed in deeply, and despite his
fatigue, smiled at his fellow fugitive from public
life. "Forgot that second cup of coffee you
grumbled through preparing." He proffered the
steaming mug to Frohike. "You keep growling like
that, you'll attract whatever bears there are
within a two-mile radius." Byers said while
emerging into the rugged backcountry's pristine
Canadian morn, "I think we'll have enough time
for the three of us to take a stroll to the ocean,
hmmm? Really get a forceful dose of what you
say we need."
Langly, toting an olive drab mug containing the
swill he had brewed, which he euphemistically
termed coffee, scooted up from the ground like a
jackrabbit. It was becoming not as novel seeing
Byers out of his traditional suit of perma-press
armor. Coming to stand beside his beardless
friend who was wearing instead a pair of somber
green Dockers and a dark gray thick-pile
sweatshirt which had 'Chesapeake Tool-and-Die'
written across its front in bold lettering, he
said, "This much fresh air's gonna kill me."
He quickly exhaled with a noisy gust.
"Or make a man out of ya," Frohike badgered.
"What the hell's that supposed to mean?"
Langly spat back all prickly. He dripped a
little of his coffee to the ground purposedly.
"Everyone. Let's take that stroll," Byers
mildly suggested again, hoping to ward off
what seemed to be brewing between them. An
overdue case of raging cabin fever in search
of an outlet.
For some reason mysterious to his bosom
companions, the blond wasn't combative all of
a sudden. He stared at the sky with a pensive
look on his face, as though testing wind speed
which happened to be negligible today. "I hope
to high heaven they make it here okay."
His companions nodded in total agreement.
"Which is why I don't think it's a good idea
to stray too far from the pre-determined
coordinates," Frohike blended into the
conversational mix. "If they're holding to
schedule, they're due here within the next
couple of seconds. Which is why I said for
you to haul ass."
"It's that late already? I hadn't realized,"
Byers confessed, checking the time his watch
read. "I guess I lost all track, recalibrating
those differential signatures."
"Yeah it's that late. If they show up, miss
the sum total of us while we're off sightseeing,
both of 'em could jump to the conclusion that
we met up with more foul play."
"Yeah, 'Hike's right," Langly concurred, and
the shortest of the three looked over at the
tall, conceding blond and showcased a delayed
look of surprise for his benefit. "We've come
too far to screw everything up at the last
"No vector of contention from me," Byers said,
nodding. For a moment or so his attention was
arrested by the crisp lilting song of a jay.
At this distance, the communications expert
couldn't quite identify the type of bird by its
singing alone. If he'd had his seasoned
binoculars for one of his favorite pastime with
him now, he would know clearly, but they were
back in D.C., presumably still in that pawnshop.
His opportunity for redeeming them, a moot point
now that their new permanent address was here.
"Think they got their kid back minus any hassle?"
Langly was kicking some pebbles around with the
scuffed-up toe of his left foot. "How d'ya
walk in, tell the folks that adopted your kid
you're here to take him back, and ya do?" He
compounded hope back-to-back with hope though,
that the pertinent information they had supplied
had won their friends the boy. Having Mulder in
Scully's life again was good, but Scully having
her baby back would be even better.
That raw, rainy day, the day following her giving
William up for adoption was the saddest the
Gunmen had ever seen her. She'd hung around the
warehouse the entire afternoon, well into the wee
hours of the next day, with blood-red eyes that
bled tears practically non-stop.
"We'll know real soon, won't we?" Frohike
commented, feeling clumsy doing so, almost in a
ham-fisted sort of way. "They deserve to be a
family after so many punishing years."
"Yeah--real sucky ones." The long-haired hacker
picked up a stone and threw it at the nearest
spruce. The jay's singing ceased instantly.
"Even if the kid's one of those so-called super
soldiers, he couldn't ask for a better mom than
Scully," Langly insisted with a mashing stamp of
his foot that drove the pebble his foot had
hovered over deep into the earth littered with
His next statement seemed to indicate to his
partners that his mind was leapfrogging from
one disjointed thought to the next, or so it
appeared. "I gotta get to see 'Attack Of The
Clones' some way. Even if we are in long-term
hiding. Hell, I've *never* missed an episode
when the flicks have hit the wide screen. Not
one, and I sure as hell ain't gonna start now.
Screw the stupid powers that be that want our
heads on a cruddy platter."
"You'd risk everything that's at stake now
to see some hyped to the max Hollywood
make-believe? We're livin' the real deal,
man," Frohike sniped, his ire un-sugarcoated.
"Factions of the 'evil empire' are alive and
well and after us for keeps. It's high time
you grew up."
"It's high time you quit gettin' on my case
every damn day," Langly fumed, stepping up
into Frohike's face that was put out of joint
"What was the family's name again, Langly?"
Byers asked, diverting his attention away from
the bird's twittery call that had vanished,
and quickly to his friends who sounded
overly sharp with each other.
Langly looked away from Frohike and over to
Byers. "Van De Camp," he replied, his terse
response sounding like an epithet. He was
about to return his singeing glare back to
Frohike when he got caught up then with the
faint thrumming sound of a vehicle's tooling,
coming from the distance. It wasn't his
imagination. "It's them," Langly said in
conjunction with throwing Byers first, then
reluctantly to Frohike a look of honed
They quickly parted to make way for the gleamy
black SUV barrelling towards them, with Frohike
and Byers standing together on one side of the
pebbled road, and Langly poised on the other.
"She's got their kid, right?" Langly asked,
the anxious hitch in his voice gave away how
unlikely that might very well be, but at the
same time how much he wanted it to be true.
"Can't tell," Frohike answered tentatively.
From their distance it was still unclear to
him whether he counted two big heads, and a
Goaded by expectation and wish fulfillment,
Byers walked up a few paces to see if he
could get a better look. Right now, there
was nothing else he wanted to see more, it was
a dead tie between wanting to see Susanne, and
seeing little William cradled in Scully's arms.
Father, mother and son reunited.
"I think she does," Frohike alerted his raptly-
"She does," Byers generously confirmed,
breathing so much more relaxedly as opposed to
a few moments ago. "He's grown some..."
Mulder wheeled the SUV sharply, over to the
upraised bubbled hatch. He had his hands
gripped white-knuckled to the steering wheel.
The trio saw him turn his head to say something
to Scully. His friends looked at one another,
for an exchange of wry, but somewhat wary looks.
Allowing for the passage of a few more moments,
Mulder popped his door, got out, and the Gunmen
crowded into him, taking turns clapping him
soundly on his back and then hearing Scully
say with a stark inflection of affection, "Hi,
guys. It's good to see you alive and kicking."
"Good to see you with William," Byers said,
emphasizing the child's name.
"The next time it's decided we'll have to fake
Langly sneered at Frohike. "Wha'd'ya mean the
next time? There ain't gonna be no damn next
time," he was compelled to remind everyone.
"Between now, and when the invasion is supposed
to go down--hey, Mulder, when's that supposed
to happen, again? I forget the date."
Scully lowered her watery eyes, as though she
was studying the soil in the flooring of the
floorboard. The date Mulder had told her
several times she remembered with a good deal
of sadness, and regret.
The man who had driven non-stop from the Van
De Camp's place in Wyoming all the way here
did not look informative. "Do we have to
talk about it this very moment?" He turned to
Scully, sitting like a shadow, and his
bloodshot eyes scoured her tired face. She
looked at him, and he nodded, seeing William's
face contort in preparation for nosily
broadcasting his overtireness and therefore
his being out of sorts.
"Uh, no..." Langly shrugged, sensing for once
that his keen thirst for knowledge denied the
general public was sorely self-serving on this
occasion. "Guess you'd like to rest."
Scully, wearing a pair of leg-hugging jeans
and a peach-colored short sleeve T-shirt, got
out and came from around the car to take her
place alongside Mulder. She made the effort
to sound patient when she said, "That's an
idea we can live with." She handed her baby
off to Langly, and the cranky whimperer settled
right down, a recollection perceived through
touch, as though the lean unorthodox man had
cast a spell over him.
"Hey, there, shortstuff, I've missed ya."
Langly straightened the baby's crooked
cap, and then only to him, softly said in
clandestine mode, "Whenever the aliens have got
this sneaky thing planned, I'm keeping a very
low profile and dealin' from the shadows. Like
Luke, Han, Leia and the rest of the Rebels had
to do. May the Force be with us, eh, little
"It's not the swank hotel in Beverly Hills,"
Frohike said, indicating the hole in the ground
camouflaged by sturdy tufts of dense scrub
grass, "but the air's breatheable, we've got
comfy cots, and the last batch of coffee *I*
made is hot, good and plentiful. Miracle
lasagna's on for dinner. You're hungry, yeah?"
He eyed them, knowing his question was
On an impulse with exhaustion, gratitude and
overwhelming sentimentality as its impetus,
Scully lunged at Frohike, grabbed him and
crushed him to herself, unaware that by doing
thus, she had catapulted her avid admirer into
seventh heaven, and beyond. "Thank God some
things *never* change. Oh, 'Hike. Just like
old times when we would show up at your place
for number crunching and sympathetic shoulders
to cry on. And midnight snacks you made from
Under the spell of her emotive outpour, Frohike
banged his lips against her flushed right cheek.
"My ol' crying shoulder's really missed ya,
Scully," he gently reminded her. "C'mon let's
see about getting some of that coffee into
you and..." He offered Mulder his eyes that
radiated compassion. "This guy you say you've
still got a thing for."
Mulder turned to Byers, waited until the others
had disappeared down the 'foxhole,' then said,
"After what happened in Anasazi country, I
don't know the direction to take, John. I want
to believe there's hope, but thinking how much
the odds are stacked against us as never before,
makes it insurmountably hard. There's no doubt
that the truth is still out there, but whoever
actively seeks it becomes a target for instant
"Since when has that stopped being the case?"
"John, before the ol' smoking bastard died,
*really died* this time. Death by Stinger
missles, he made it clear that the only reason
I was allowed to live this long was for his
amusement." The cold chill paralyzed Mulder's
spine as it had when C.G.B. Spender had told
him that. He's gone. Nobody's amused. I've
got my precious family to think about."
Byers gave a fair hearing to all of Mulder's
misgivings which had enervated Mulder's will
to go on in the quest for the truth before
bringing up something this complex man whom
he had known for over a decade had once told
him when he and his compatriots had helped
him discover the true nature of the black oil
years ago. "Better not to look at it as one
long road to hoe. Better to take it one step
at a time. Better to divide the step into: a
creep, a crawl...to a stand. One hesitant
footfall following not very far behind the
"You were listening..." The old familiar
Mulder smile was alive and well. "And
"Haven't we always? The only ones who really
did, and believed you right from the start.
Come on." Taking Mulder around his shoulders,
and indenting the skin over his collarbone,
Byers, noting as diplomatically as Mulder's
present frame of mind warranted, remarked,
"You look as though you could use several pots
of Frohike's coffee."
"And a week's worth of uninterrupted sleep."
"That too." He allowed Mulder to go first.
"Frohike and Langly are sharing one of the
three rooms so you and Scully can have some
"Since when do you guys know from privacy?"
Mulder cracked wise. As his descent down
the spiral staircase progressed, it took
several moments for his eyes to adjust to the
brashly abrasive lighting afforded by the
Once the bubbled hatch closed, the bubble
smoothed down, as though it had melted into
the ground. A dense tuft of scrub grass,
identical in appearance, in relation to the
surrounding greenery, but artificial in
nature, oversowed the hidden aperture of the
secret, well-ventilated haven.