Watcher III: Nightmare

Debra Fran Baker

dfbaker@panix.com


I was in Wonderland, with Fox Mulder in my arm and Walter Skinner wrapped around both of us. It wasn't paradise. Mulder was just sitting on the floor, staring into space - the best I could say was that he wasn't rejecting us. I didn't know what was going through his head, but the possibilities scared me.

Skinner sounded scared as well. Mulder turned to look at him.

"What else do you know? What else do you sons of bitches know about me?"

His voice was empty.

"What do you want to know, Fox?"

"Everything. Nothing. I don't know. Who the hell am I?"

I tightened my arm. He didn't seem to notice. "You're...who you always were."

"What the hell does that mean?" He tore himself from our arms and began pacing the room. He was still naked from his shower. "Am I even a normal human being?"

I looked at Skinner. "What do you mean?"

"Am I a normal human being?"

"What do you think?"

"You say I'm an empath. I know I don't forget anything. I know I make...connections no one else makes. How much of that was...engineered into me? And where did it come from?"

"So far as I know, Mulder, all your genes are purely human."

"As far as you know? You mean it's possible I'm not?" I had never seen Mulder's eyes that empty.

And I had nothing to fill them. "I don't know, Mulder. I just don't know. But I can tell you...all your skills are byproducts. They wanted a telepath. They didn't worry about your intelligence or your memory or anything else. Before *or* after you were born."

"So I am a failure. Why was I allowed to live, then?"

"Mulder..."

"I wasn't supposed to live. I was supposed to be put down and...and autopsied like a lab rat, so they could find out where I went wrong." Why did he have to be so brilliant?

"You..."

"Why?"

"Your father...fathers. For different reasons." Skinner let go of me and found a pair of pants. He pulled them on and sat on the bed.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that Bill Mulder and GBD Spender each had their reasons for keeping you alive and under...observation. They didn't tell me what they were, but I could guess."

"What used did they have for faulty merchandise?" Mulder walked back to the bed and buried his head in his hands. Skinner moved closer and touched him on his shoulder. "Get your hands off me, you son of a bitch!"

Mulder exploded off the bed as Skinner and I stared at him in shock. He ran past me. I reached for him and he pulled his leg away. "You, too, you rat bastard. You knew, you *both* knew."

"Mulder..."

"Just shut up. If you can't say the truth, don't say anything. All those years...all that...you *sure* Scully doesn't know, too? She's not lying to me? I can still trust *someone*?"

Skinner closed his eyes against Mulder's words. "I didn't have a choice, Fox." He took a deep breath. "I wasn't going to risk your life. And they told me that you'd be killed if you found out."

"Isn't that *my* choice? Isn't it my life to risk?"

"No, Mulder." I struggled to my feet and found my own jeans. I used Skinner for balance while I pulled them on. "It's not your choice."

"What the hell are you talking about?" He clenched his fists.

"Listen to me. We can't risk your life because we *need* you. We *all*