Skip to content

The Best Lies, Part One: Leap of Faith


Contains explicit male/male sex.

Pairing: Mulder/Krycek

Summary: A DNA test sends Mulder on a quest to discover the truth about his sister, leading to a mysterious database and an old enemy. Follows “Anasazi.”

Disclaimer: The X-Files is copyright Fox TV, Chris Carter, and Ten-Thirteen Productions. No infringement is intended.


I win again.
Oh, don’t be such a baby, Sam.
Of course I win. I’m older than you.
Stronger. Smarter.
One day you’ll catch up. Till then,
I’ll protect you. Watch out for you.
That’s what big brothers are supposed to do.

Want another game?
Don’t listen to them, Samantha.
Fighting is what grownups do.
It’s nothing to do with us. And anyway,
I won’t let them hurt you.
Of course I promise. Now let’s play.
With me, you’re safe from everything—

Except losing another game of Stratego.


Special Agent Fox Mulder wadded up the piece of paper he’d been doodling on, leaned back in his chair and tossed it across the room, where it struck the rim of the waste basket, bounced off the wall, and fell into the trash.

“Two points,” he announced.

His partner, Dana Scully, sat across the room at her own desk, chin in her hand, chewing on the end of her pencil. She looked up, took the pencil out of her mouth, and said, “What’s the score?”

“Three hundred twelve to a hundred ninety-six.”

She frowned slightly, then tore a sheet of paper from her notebook, crumpled it up, concentrated for a moment, then launched it towards the waste basket. It arced across the room and fell smoothly into the basket. “Hundred ninety-eight.”

Mulder grinned. “Too bad you’re so short. You could have been a power forward.”

She allowed a slight smile. “What’s your excuse?”

Mulder’s cellular phone rang. Still grinning, he pulled the phone from his pocket and switched it on. “Mulder.”

“Mulder, I’ve got something. You have to see this.” Langly’s voice was urgent and conspiratorial.

“What is it?” Mulder leaned casually back in his chair and loosened his tie. To Langly, everything was a conspiracy. No need to get excited.

“Not on the phone. How soon can you get here?”

Mulder exchanged a look with Scully. She lifted an eyebrow curiously. Mulder just grinned.

“I’m working, Langly,” Mulder said into the phone. Scully’s look of curiosity turned into a knowing smile.

“Mulder, you really want to see this. Make it as soon as you can. Come alone.” The connection was severed abruptly. Mulder hung up his phone, sighing.

“What did he want?”

Was it just Mulder’s imagination, or was there a suggestion of worry in Scully’s tone? Mulder knew she didn’t care for the men at the Lone Gunman; she thought they were irresponsible and likely to get Mulder into trouble. She’d been more than usually protective of him lately. Well, that was natural; he’d just spent three weeks in the hospital after nearly being incinerated in a burning train car. He’d been just as protective of her after her abduction last year. “He wants to show me something.”

She grinned. “Something in latex?”

He returned her grin, shrugging. “He wouldn’t say. It’s probably nothing, but—do you mind if I go over there? We’re not very busy right now.”

She nodded. “All right.” But she watched him with thoughtful eyes as he shrugged into his jacket and left.

* * *

“This is Scully’s blood, which I extracted from the handkerchief you gave us after she turned up in the hospital last year,” Langly said, holding up the small vial, filled with pale, pink-tinged liquid. He pushed his heavy black glasses up onto the bridge of his nose.

Mulder nodded. Frohike sat at the desk with his arms folded, staring somewhere to the left of Mulder’s shoulder. Byers stood leaning against a tableful of electronic equipment, watching Langly with an inscrutable frown. Neither said a word. Mulder found their grim silence a bit unnerving. Usually, the three of them nattered on like a bad vaudeville routine.

Langly held up another vial, this one of viscous red. “And this is the sample of your blood you gave to me after your experience with LSDM. Well, since I had them both, I decided to run a DNA comparison on the two blood samples.”

Mulder blinked. Since I had them both…. Definitely, a man with too much time on his hands. But he couldn’t quite bring himself to make the obvious quip. He was feeling too uneasy about this whole thing. “And… ?”

Langly handed him the readout. “Can you read DNA profiles?”

Mulder studied the report carefully. The two side-by-side strips, vaguely resembling bar codes, were his and Scully’s DNA patterns. Lines ran between the two strips, connecting similar patterns of genes. Numbers covered the margins. “What does this mean? Fifty percent match?”

“It means that Scully’s your sister.”

Mulder tried to laugh, and failed. “That’s funny, Langly. Now are you through wasting my time? I’ve got work to do.”

Langly just shrugged. “No joke, Mulder. DNA doesn’t lie.”

Mulder looked to the other two for help. But Byers just stared at him, and Frohike wouldn’t even meet his eyes. “It has to be a mistake. There’s no way Scully could be my sister.”

“Well, she could also be your mother. Or your daughter, if you like that better. I ran the tests twice, and the results were identical. Unless the blood samples aren’t what you said they were….”

“Well, you took my blood yourself. And Scully’s….” He’d gotten that at the hospital, from the man who’d stolen it from her hospital room. It had to be Scully’s blood, didn’t it? But if it wasn’t Scully’s blood, whose was it? Someone who was closely related to Mulder… Samantha?

“Oh my God.” Mulder forced himself to take a deep breath. “I thought it was Scully’s. Maybe it wasn’t. I’ll check into it. Can I take this?” He held up the DNA test results.

Langly nodded. “I’ve got other copies.”

Mulder folded the printout and stuffed it into his jacket pocket. Blindly, he turned to leave.

Langly’s voice stopped him at the door. “Mulder? I’m sorry. I thought you would want to know.”

Mulder turned back, tried once again to force a smile. But he couldn’t get a word past his dry throat.

* * *

“Mulder, will you quit staring at me like that? You’re making me nervous.”

Mulder started. “Sorry. I was thinking.” Searching your face for the slightest resemblance to me or anyone in my family. Wondering how the hell I’m going to ask you to take a DNA test with me.

“Thinking about what? Does this have anything to do with what Langly wanted?”

“Sort of. Scully, if I asked you to do something… strange, not ask any questions, just do it, would you?”

She raised an eyebrow. “How strange?”

“Well… come with me to a lab, and have blood drawn for a DNA test.”

The eyebrow lifted even further. “No questions?”

“Once we get the results, I’ll tell you everything. It’s probably nothing. I don’t want to say anything until I know for sure.”

Scully regarded him thoughtfully. Mulder could see the curiosity sparkling behind her blue eyes; she was itching to know what it was about, but she did not ask. He watched as she weighed the possibilities, and made her decision.

“All right. I guess I can spare you a few minutes and little blood.” There was an amused quirk at the corners of her mouth. “I’m going to be dying of curiosity until we get the results.”

Mulder found it difficult to return her smile. If we get the same results that Langly did, you’ll probably wish you didn’t know.

* * *

All the way back to FBI headquarters from the Lone Gunman offices, Mulder had worried over what to do. Obviously, he had to confirm Langly’s test results; that was the first thing to do. He had pondered whether to go to the FBI labs or a private laboratory. The FBI’s DNA analysis unit was the best, no doubt about that; it was also the fastest. But Mulder’s paranoia had reached new heights since his father was killed, and he himself had nearly been incinerated. He no longer “trusted no one”—he now actively distrusted everyone. Except Scully, of course, although in his darkest moments he occasionally suspected even her. And perhaps the Lone Gunmen, who, while not exactly white knights, were too iconoclastic and paranoid themselves to participate in anyone else’s plots. If, somehow, he was being set up, his enemies would expect him to go to the FBI labs. Test results could disappear or be altered. There were black ops moles within the FBI—one had to look no farther than Alex Krycek for evidence of that.

And, if the results did show some sort of genetic relationship between him and Scully, he did not want that information in the FBI’s files.

There were several private laboratories in Washington that did DNA testing. The director of Quaid-Markham Laboratories owed Mulder a favor. Mulder had called Don Markham on his cellular while still en route to the J. Edgar Hoover Building, and wheedled an immediate appointment for himself and Scully.

Scully remained silent all through the ride to Quaid-Markham. Whatever questions she must have been dying to ask she kept firmly to herself. Her faith in him, her willingness to play along even as she bit her lip to keep her curiosity in check, soothed Mulder’s raw nerves.

I don’t know what I would do without you, Scully. What will it do to us, if this turns out to be true? Several times, he nearly turned the car around and drove back to FBI headquarters. Sorry, Scully. It was just a bad joke of Langly’s. But he knew that it would burn away at him until he knew the truth. He hoped with all his heart that Markham’s results would show them to be just two ordinary, unrelated people.

* * *

Mulder watched in fascination as the lab technician’s needle slid beneath the translucent skin inside Scully’s elbow. It was a strange, intimate moment that had Mulder so keyed up that he flinched, letting out a tiny yelp when the needle pierced his own arm. Amusement danced in Scully’s eyes as she bit her lip, this time to keep from laughing at his discomfiture. Mulder laughed weakly, the tension broken. “Do I get a lollipop?” he asked, as the technician bandaged his arm.

“You were a very good boy,” the woman murmured into his ear, smoothing his bandage.

Scully giggled, and everything seemed achingly normal.

* * *

Mulder made it through the next few days by going under the assumption that the blood sample he’d given to Langly was not, in fact, Scully’s. The man he’d taken the test tube from had been in Scully’s hospital room; blood drawn from her had disappeared. Mulder had followed the man to the hospital parking garage, and fought with him. In the struggle, the test tube had been dropped. He’d gone back after the fight to soak up a few drops of the spilled blood with his handkerchief. If it wasn’t Scully’s blood, whose was it? Could the man have been carrying more than one test tube of blood? Could Mulder’s blood have gotten mixed in, somehow? Or was Langly just less competent than he thought? There must be a hundred explanations for his results turning out the way they did. Once they’d gotten the results from Quaid-Markham, he’d go back to Langly to try to figure it out.

* * *

Dr. Markham himself presented them with the test results in his office ten days later. “Agent Scully, I understand you’re a forensic pathologist, so you should be able to read these.” He slid the reports across his desk to her.

“I’m not a specialist in DNA analysis, but….” Scully’s voice trailed off as she stared at the two printouts. All the color drained from her face. “This isn’t possible. There must be some sort of mistake.”

“I assure you, Agent Scully, there has been no mistake. We ran the tests several times, with fresh samples each time. I have to admit, the results surprised me. I hadn’t realized that you and Agent Mulder were brother and sister.”

“We’re not,” Scully insisted numbly. “There’s no way. Distant cousins, possibly, although that isn’t likely….”

“Not distant,” Dr. Markham said firmly. “The tests indicate siblings. Or parent and child, although that’s obviously impossible. There’s virtually a fifty percent match of genetic material. The odds against that occurring on a random basis are astronomical.”

Scully stared at the printouts, as if willing them to rearrange themselves under her insistent gaze. Then she stared at Mulder, her face a mask of shock and disbelief and pleading demand that he explain to her how this could be.

But Mulder’s shock was barely less than Scully’s. He’d managed to convince himself, somehow, that Langly’s tests were a mistake, had to be a mistake, and that Markham’s test would prove that, and that would be the end of it. The whole thing was just too unbelievable to be true. Now what were they going to do?

* * *

They sat in the car, both too stunned to go back to work. Long minutes of silence passed, before Scully finally spoke.

“All right, Mulder, from the beginning. I assume this started with Langly.”

Mulder swallowed, cleared his throat. “Yes. I’d given him a blood sample after being dosed with LSDM in Franklin. I wanted to see what he could come up with on it. And I gave him a sample of your blood while you were in the hospital last year. For reasons known only to Langly, he decided to run a DNA comparison on the two samples. He got the same results as Markham.”

“So the Lone Gunmen think I’m your sister.” Her mouth curled in distaste.

Mulder knew that she knew as well as he did that this was the least of their concerns. She was just fastening on a side issue because the real implications were still too frightening to consider. “Maybe Frohike will leave you alone now.”

It was a very weak joke, but it served its purpose. Scully choked out a small laugh. Then she sobered. “Mulder, I’m not Samantha.”

“I know.” How could he not consider that possibility, when being told that Scully was his sister? But—”You don’t look anything like her.” His sister had been dark-haired, and long-limbed and scrawny, like him. “You’re older than she is. She disappeared when you were nine. While you were… missing, your mother told me stories about you when you were six… eight… and when you were just a baby. Now, unless your whole family’s in on the conspiracy,” he laughed to show her his paranoia had not extended to considering that a possibility, “you never lived in Chilmark and you never called me ‘Foxy Loxy’ and we never played Stratego….”

His throat constricted suddenly. He clutched at the steering wheel, willing the memories away. Samantha….

Scully laid a gentle hand on his arm. “Mulder. Look, let’s… let’s just forget this is us we’re talking about. Let’s just treat it like any other case. We’ve got two people who just found out they’re probably related. How do we find out what happened?”

Mulder took a deep breath, looked at Scully and nodded. “Okay.” Scully was right. Calm, methodical detective work. That was how they’d deal with this. “All right. If we are brother and sister, that means that one of us is adopted. Or both.”

“I’ve seen my birth certificate. My mother has told me stories about the night I was born. I don’t think my parents would lie to me about something like that.”

“Then, four years before you were born, do you think your mother had a child that she put up for adoption?”

Scully’s brow creased. She pressed her lips together for a moment before answering. “You were born in October of Nineteen-sixty. My parents were married in June of Sixty-one.” She shook her head. “I don’t know, I suppose it’s possible that she got pregnant before she was married and gave the child up, but—it seems so fantastic!”

“Well, if my mother had another child right before Samantha, I think I would have noticed.”

“There has to be some other explanation.”

“You mean, maybe my mother and your father had an affair? Or vice versa? Twice? And took turns keeping the kid?” Mulder couldn’t suppress an almost-hysterical giggle.

Scully also let out a squeaky laugh. “Or our parents are really two sets of identical twins, and they just never told us.”

“Maybe they don’t know they’re related. Maybe they were separated at birth and put up for adoption….”

They dissolved into helpless giggles. It was nerves, and they both knew it, but it was a relief not to take the thing quite so seriously.

Mulder sobered first, staring down into his lap. “Scully, I don’t know how I can ask my mother any of this right now.” Barely a month since her ex-husband was killed, and six months since her long-missing daughter turned up, only to be told that the girl was dead, and not really Samantha, anyway. ” ‘Guess what, Mom, I lost Samantha again, but now I think Scully’s my sister.’ She’ll have me in a straight-jacket. If she doesn’t end up in one first, herself.”

Scully stared out the car window. “Mulder… I know the search for truth is very important to you, but—do we really need to pursue this? I can’t help thinking that this might be something better left alone.”

“Could you seriously just walk away from this, and never know the truth?”

“What truth?” Scully turned to Mulder, scowling. “I love both my parents very much. And they are my parents, no matter what any genetic tests might say. I don’t want to go to my mother with this any more than you do. I can’t picture anything but harm coming from it. If my parents, or yours, do have some secret in their past—why not let them keep it?”

“But Scully, if we are brother and sister….”

“Then we’d better not get married. I don’t think that was exactly in the cards, anyway, was it? Other than that, I don’t see that it changes anything.” She spat out the words, her blue eyes flashing.

Mulder recoiled from her vehemence, blinking away the sudden stinging in his eyes. He wasn’t quite sure why her words hurt so much. It certainly wasn’t that he harbored any secret fantasies of marrying her… or that he was so desperate for a sister, he’d destroy what was left of his family to try to make her into one….

Scully softened at once. “Mulder, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. I’d be proud to have you for a brother. I just… can’t believe any of this.”

“You saw the DNA analysis.”

“I saw two pieces of paper. Tests can be faked, you know.”

“Scully, why would anyone go to the trouble of trying to make me believe you’re my sister? And how could they have done it? Remember, Langly found the connection first. Now we’ve got independent corroboration.”

“I can’t believe you’re taking all of this at face value. Where’s the famous Mulder paranoia? I can think of several reasons why they’d want to shake you up, send you off on a wild goose chase for false information, and if you’ll give me a minute, I’ll think of a reasonable scenario for how they did it, too.”

Mulder sighed. “You could be right. But I don’t think I can just ignore this. I want to know the truth.”

“Then let’s investigate. Quietly. I’ll look into our birth records. You check out Quaid-Markham.” She put a hand on his arm. “We’d better get back to work.”

He nodded and started the car. As she had said, just treat it like any other case. They were investigators; that was their job. They ought to be able to verify the truth or falsity of the DNA profiles easily enough.

They’d deal with what they found when they found it.

* * *

Scully dropped her purse and coat on the couch as she entered her apartment, then walked over to her desk and picked up the photograph of her father sitting there. Captain William Scully, in his dress whites, stared proudly out of the frame at her. Eighteen months since he had died, she still felt the urge to telephone him at times like these, and the pain of not being able to. Not that she would have told him about what had happened. She just wanted to hear his voice.

“Hello, Ahab,” she said softly. “I thought about you today.” She imagined a smile on those stern features. “Well, I think about you every day, but today something happened….”

She pictured Mulder’s face next to her father’s. Their features couldn’t be more dissimilar. “How would you like another son, Dad? He has some crazy ideas, but he’s very smart. And he has a good heart, if you can get past the pain he’s been through.”

Scully sighed, and put the picture back in its place. “I wish you’d had the chance to meet him, Dad.” She’d only been Mulder’s partner for about four months when her father had died—there hadn’t yet been an occasion for him to meet her parents. She wondered how they would have gotten along. Her father disapproved of her decision just to join the FBI—what would he have thought of Mulder’s penchant for wild speculation and unbelievable theories? Or of Mulder’s obsession with a sister who had disappeared more than twenty years ago? You can’t live in the past, her father would say, brusquely, whenever she or her brothers or sister complained about past grievances – even those mere days or weeks old. Unhappy occurrences were to be promptly dealt with, and stoically forgotten.

She returned to the couch, stepping out of her shoes and sitting down. “I think of him as a brother already. I’m closer to him than many brothers and sisters. I wouldn’t mind if it were true, if nothing else changed. But it doesn’t just affect Mulder and me. It’s you and Mom, and Mulder’s parents, and the rest of our families. I wish he would just let it go. But he won’t. That’s one thing you and he have in common, Dad. A great love for the truth.”

She leaned back and took a deep breath, staring blankly ahead. “Only with Mulder, I’m afraid it’s going to destroy us all.”

* * *

The next morning, Mulder, yawning, opened his front door to pick up the morning paper. Still yawning, he almost didn’t notice the small slip of paper that fluttered from between the pages to the floor. Thinking it was an advertising insert, he reached down to pick it up.

There was an address written on the slip of paper, and a string of letters and numbers that looked like a computer password. He sighed. A message from X? He was tempted to just throw it away. After their last meeting, he’d been determined to associate with X no longer. But this wasn’t association, it was just information. There was no way to know its source for certain. He’d better check it out.

* * *

Mulder and Scully pulled up in front of the building. It was a run-down warehouse in a dusty, sparsely populated area; windowless, unpainted concrete with a steel-encased door. Since breaking and entering seemed to be the order of the day, they had waited until two A.M. to make their approach.

An ordinary padlock held the door shut. Mulder had boltcutters in his trunk, but didn’t expect them to be necessary. He pulled a leather case from his jeans pocket, selected a picklock, and went to work. Scully kept a lookout while Mulder eased the lock open. The streets remained silent and empty. The only sound was the quiet scraping of Mulder’s picklock sliding against the tumblers of the lock, then the “snick” of the lock springing open. Mulder gave Scully the ghost of a smile, then pulled the heavy, counter-weighted door to the side.

* * *

At first glance, it was just another warehouse—concrete floor, wooden support beams, rows of metal shelving and assorted cardboard boxes. But across the back wall, several wooden tables held an impressive array of electronic equipment, including a stack of CPUs and a computer monitor. Mulder and Scully prowled once around the warehouse space, shining their flashlights into every corner, to make sure there were no traps or other items of interest lurking, before zeroing in on the computer.

Mulder switched on the monitor and then the CPUs, one by one, and waited for the boot sequence to complete. Then he stood, running a finger along his chin, while the console requested:

login name:

“You said he gave you the password….” Scully began.

“But not the login name.” Mulder chewed his lower lip.

“It’s Unix, isn’t it?”

Mulder nodded. Pages from a Unix user’s manual flipped past in his mind’s eye. Slowly, he smiled. Then he bent to type root.

The computer responded,


Now Mulder entered the password from the slip of paper.

And was rewarded with a # prompt.

Mulder grinned. “Okay, let’s see what we’ve got.”

With a large, sturdy cardboard box conscripted to act as a chair, Mulder sat hunched before the console. He searched his photographic memory for the arcane commands that would allow him to explore the system. Most of the files seemed to be system files; others were non-text files with obscure names. Finally, he found something he recognized to be a database file. The filename meant nothing to him, but he had to start somewhere. He called up the database and began to search through the entries.

Subj. 1001 Alexander, Neal. 1947. Math savant, psi. Married subj. 1203, 1969. Offspring 2 (Subj. 1448, 1449)

Subj. 1002 Arvid, Lee. 1944. Physics, chess master. Unmarried. Samples taken, 1968. Instabilities detected, no cross.

Subj. 1003 Ashe, Karen. 1951. Psi, eidetic memory. Married subj. 1123, 1961. No offspring. Samples taken, 1964. Cross Subj. 1297 (Subj. 1530)

Mulder sat back. “Scully?”

“What is it?” She had wandered away from the computers, inspecting the other electronic equipment, while Mulder searched the files. Now she came to stand behind him, and peer at the screen over his shoulder.

“It looks like some kind of registry. A record of people with certain kinds of abilities, and their children.”

“‘Samples taken,'” she read. “What kind of samples?”

“Looks like the ones who didn’t get married or have children. Sperm and ova samples?”

Scully wrinkled her nose. “That makes it sound like some kind of breeding program.”

Mulder looked over his shoulder at her. In the pale light of the console screen, his face was grey. He was suddenly very uneasy. “A breeding program. Run by whom?”

“And why did your informant send you here to find it?”

Mulder turned back to the console. He was sure he was not going to like what he found. His fingers trembled as he entered the search commands. Alpha search, on subject name field, last name Mulder.

Subj. 1084. Mulder, William. 1937. Eidetic memory, high IQ. Married subj. 1211, 1958. Offspring 2 (Subj. 1559, 1560*) Note: offspring to be crossed. See 1560.

Subj. 1559. Mulder, Fox. 1960. Eidetic memory, intuitive , high IQ. Unmarried. Samples taken, 1994. Note: Do Not Kill order registered, 1990. To be crossed with 1560. Marriage to be arranged, if possible.

Subj. 1560*. Mulder, Samantha. 1965. High IQ, psi. Unmarried. Samples taken, 1994. Note: Do Not Kill order registered, 1993. To be crossed with 1559. Marriage to be arranged, if possible. Due to human incest taboo, removed from home 1973 to be raised separately. Surgery and hypnosis performed to reassign identity. (See also subj. 1560, Scully, Dana.)

The words burned themselves into Mulder’s brain. He cursed his photographic memory, knowing he would never escape the sight of those words on that screen. A breeding program…. He and Samantha were breeding stock. The aliens wanted him to marry his sister, so they took her and turned her into someone else, someone he would not think he was related to. Someone he would learn to trust, and, if the aliens had their way, someone he would eventually marry and with whom he would have children. Samantha was Scully. Surgically altered, hypnotized to make her think she’d always been Dana Scully. Her family’s memories had no doubt been altered, too, to make them accept her as their own. Had there ever been a real Dana Scully? And what had happened to her? Had she been raised somewhere else, or just discarded because she didn’t fit the profile the aliens wanted?

Mulder stood, stumbling against the box, kicking it out of his way. He turned and ran, wildly, towards the door, and out into the street, where he fell to his hands and knees, vomiting into the gutter.

Presently, he felt Scully’s hand on his shoulder, as she knelt at his side. “Mulder? Are you all right?” she asked softly. But he could not answer her; his stomach still twisted, and he continued to retch and cough. She stroked his back until his stomach spasms finally subsided. Then he pushed himself unsteadily to his feet, and stumbled back against the concrete wall of the warehouse. Scully stood at his side, hand on his shoulder.

“Scully, what are we going to do now?” Tears stung his eyes; he forced them back with the heels of his hands pressed roughly to his face.

“Mulder, those files aren’t necessarily the truth.”

“What does it take to convince you? Look at the evidence. You’re always telling me, you have to go by the evidence. Well, we’ve got two separate DNA tests and a secret government file….”

“Tests can be faked. Anyone can type words into a computer. I haven’t seen anything yet that convinces me that I’m really your sister. Do you really think eight years of memories can be replaced that easily? That I could be so completely changed, and never see any evidence of it? That my parents, my family could be fooled into thinking that a complete stranger is their daughter? Mulder, it just doesn’t make sense.”

“The aliens have medical techniques far beyond ours. We saw that with Duane Barry. And you, with what happened to you while you were gone. It explains so many things.”

“It’s a very clever story. And carefully calculated to hit all your hot spots. And to destroy you. Mulder, you can’t let them do this to you.”

“I can’t just… decide… not to believe it because I don’t want it to be true.” He reached out and touched her cheek. “Scully….” He searched her face. “Samantha….”

She pulled away from him angrily. “Mulder, I am not Samantha!”

“You see what they’ve done to me?” Mulder cried, his voice nearly a wail. “They have given me back my sister. And taken her away from me forever.”

“That’s exactly my point,” Scully said quietly, urgently. “They want to stop you from looking for her. What better way, than to make you think you’ve found her?”

Mulder staggered away, shaking his head. He went as far as the end of the block, then stood staring into the blackness of the night. Like a wounded animal, he called out to the darkness.


leap of faith

He barely remembered getting home. He supposed that Scully must have driven; he certainly hadn’t. If they had turned off the computers, collected their flashlights, locked the warehouse door behind them—well, he might or might not have participated; he had no memory of it. He only knew that he woke on his couch, still in his jeans and tee-shirt, cold and empty and sick to his stomach. He did not want to get up and go to work; he could not bear the thought of forcing food into his churning belly; he most certainly did not want to think. Yet he had to do all those things. He sighed, wishing with all his heart that he had just told Langly to buzz off, and he willed himself to survive, although he didn’t know how, when his life had been turned upside down.

* * *

He greeted Scully with a shaky but determined smile and made no mention of the previous night’s events. He had decided that he had one chance to make it through the day, by pretending that nothing at all unusual had happened. It was a denial born of long practice, from the time he was a child. Samantha is not gone. Mom and Dad are not fighting. Now, the litany had changed to: Scully is not Samantha. I am not alien breeding stock. And, of course, the one that never changed: It is not my fault. He didn’t believe it now, any more than he did then, but he managed to continue functioning, by determinedly pretending he did.

* * *

Scully felt Mulder’s eyes on her again. The file sitting open before her had lain there unread for at least an hour. She glanced up at her partner, hoping this time he might want to talk, but once again he looked away instantly and returned his attention to the papers on his desk. She sighed, and tried to focus her roiling mind on her work. They should be talking about it, she knew, but she also knew that there was no way to make Mulder talk about something when he didn’t want to. His constant staring was beginning to unnerve her, though.What was he seeing when he looked at her? Was he seeing Samantha? An alien breeding experiment? Was there anything of Scully in the images in his mind?

Was there, in fact, a woman of her approximate age that he didn’t look at as a possible Samantha? So many years had passed, his sister would be like a stranger to him now. Perhaps, in some way, it would be easier for him if Samantha did turn out to be someone he already knew and cared about. At least he would not have to worry that the past twenty-two years had turned her into someone so different from his beloved eight-year-old sister that he could not find a connection with her. Then his loss truly would be irredeemable.

Scully had often wondered about the personalities and family relationships that would result in such a long-lived and intense obsession. What had Samantha been to him, that her disappearance would so consume his life? Scully loved her brothers and her sister, but she couldn’t quite imagine Bill, Jr., for example, dedicating his life to recovering her if she’d been taken away at the age of eight. Nor would she have wanted him to. It didn’t seem quite healthy to her.

The possibility that she really was Samantha she refused to even consider. It was obviously a setup of some kind, and as soon as Mulder had had some time to calm down and think about it, he’d realize it too.

He was staring at her again. Again, he looked away as soon as she glanced up. This time, she was not willing to let it pass.


He looked up, swallowing nervously. “Yeah?”

“I can’t keep my mind on this report.”

His attempt at a smile failed dismally. “Me neither.”

“Do you want to get some lunch?”

He stared at his desk, turning his pencil in his hand. “I’m not hungry. Why don’t you go ahead?”

“I’m not hungry either. I just thought….” Her voice trailed off at the sight of the desperation in his face. She sighed. “Never mind. Maybe later.”

He nodded briefly, and hid his face in his reports.

She returned to trying to read the file on her desk. The next time she felt him staring at her, she resolutely turned the page and continued reading.

* * *

At home, finally, Mulder lay sleepless on the couch for hours, occasionally stirring to find the remote and click through the channels again, never really caring where the picture ended up. He’d skipped dinner, just as he’d skipped lunch, and he wished he’d skipped breakfast, too, after the way it had barely stayed down. He vaguely felt that he should be doing something about it all—investigating, questioning, studying the evidence—but he couldn’t seem to make his mind settle on anything that wouldn’t just make things worse.

* * *

Three in the morning. Obviously, sleep was out of the picture. Mulder sat up abruptly and began looking for his shoes. They’d run out of that warehouse, stunned, never taking the time to really search it. He would go back now, and check it out again.

* * *

The neighborhood remained forlorn and deserted. He pulled up behind a dented, rusting van, listing on one half-empty tire. The streetlight on the corner had burned out, leaving the building shrouded in darkness.

The padlock was gone from the warehouse door. Mulder stood with his hand on the latch, considering. Either they had already emptied the place out and gone, or there was someone in there, working. Either way, he should just go home. If they’d cleaned house, there would be nothing to find. If there was someone there, he’d have no chance to conduct his search. He should just go home.

Carefully, he pulled the heavy door open a few inches. The tracks were well-oiled; it moved silently. He peered into the darkness – saw nothing, heard nothing. Slowly, he pushed the door a few more inches to the side, until he had an opening just wide enough to slip through. With his gun and flashlight ready, he stepped into the warehouse.

At first glance, the dusty beams, metal shelves, scattered boxes all seemed the same as last night. He took a few more steps, aimed his flashlight beam toward the tables at the back.

They were empty. Whispering a curse, he started to walk to the tables. A pile of cartons at the end of the aisle had not been there last night.

A scraping noise emerged from the darkness behind the shelves off to his right.

He whirled toward the sound, gun pointed toward the noise. “Federal agent,” he called out. “Come out of there, now!”


He began sweeping the area with his flashlight, gun still ready, thinking that he was going to feel awfully foolish when he flushed some scraggly old tomcat out of hiding. But until then, he was not going to relax. Tomcats did not open padlocks.

There, a flash of motion toward the door. Mulder dashed back to cut off escape, launched a flying tackle at the body making a run for the narrow opening in the warehouse door. They both crashed to the floor, rolling against the door, arms and legs flailing. Mulder couldn’t hold onto his flashlight, gun, and the struggling body all at the same time; his quarry squirmed away and disappeared into the warehouse darkness again.

Mulder pulled himself to his feet. He’d lost the flashlight, but still clutched his gun. And his quarry was trapped inside. No point being subtle any longer. He felt for a light switch along the wall by the door, found one and flipped it on. The warehouse was bathed in a glare of flourescent light. He spotted the warehouse’s other occupant behind a row of shelves.

He trained his gun on the other, and began walking slowly towards him. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he said. “I just want to talk to you.”

The man didn’t move, didn’t speak—just stood silently, waiting, as Mulder approached. Mulder eased past the row of shelves, into the aisle where the man stood, finally able to get a good look at him.

Alex Krycek.

* * *

“You!” Mulder hissed. He strode forward, grabbed Krycek by the throat, pressing his gun into Krycek’s side. Krycek flinched, but made no move to escape.

“Mulder, I didn’t—” Fingers tightening around his throat stopped Krycek’s protest.

With his hand still on Krycek’s throat, Mulder carefully pressed his gun barrel into the soft spot behind Krycek’s left ear, and marched him to the back of the warehouse, to where the empty tables stood.

“What the hell is this, Krycek?”

“I don’t know, Mulder, I—” A strangled gurgle, as Mulder pushed him back against one of the tables. The tabletop caught Krycek at the back of the thighs; Mulder’s hand at his throat bent him back. “I swear, I didn’t know you had anything to do with this. They just told me to come here and pack up some computer equipment, that’s all I know.”

“Now, why don’t I believe you?” Mulder whispered silkily into Krycek’s ear. The same ear his gun barrel rested behind.

“You know I’m just a grunt. They don’t tell me anything.”

“Well, you can tell me this. Did you kill my father?”

Krycek’s face was dark and slick with sweat. Fear glinted in his eyes. “No.”

Mulder forced him back even farther. Krycek had to brace his arms on the table to hold himself up; he was half-sitting on the table.

“You’re lying.”

“No, I swear, I didn’t kill him.” His voice was a harsh whisper through the rough hand around his throat.

“You were there.”

“I was there, but I didn’t kill him. Mulder, he killed himself.”

With a furious growl, Mulder slammed Krycek back onto the table, head pressed uncomfortably against the concrete wall, legs flailing helplessly. Mulder climbed onto the table with him, one knee pressed sharply between Krycek’s legs, eliciting a frightened yelp. Krycek’s hands scrabbled wildly for some sort of purchase, not daring to grab at Mulder. One hand, finally, clutched at the edge of the table by his head; the other simply spread flat on the tabletop.

Mulder was possessed by righteous fury. Alex Krycek had betrayed him, betrayed Scully. Killed his father. Probably killed Duane Barry, and the tram operator. His sins were deep and cold, and Mulder wanted him to pay in exquisite pain and terror for every one of them. Nothing else mattered right now, except Krycek’s suffering. He was enjoying it far too much to even entertain the thought of killing him. Maybe later. Maybe not at all. But there would be pain. His face was mere inches from Krycek’s, he could see each tiny rivulet of sweat slip down forehead and cheek, every frightened twitch and quiver. It was lovely.

Mulder relaxed his hand on Krycek’s throat slightly, smiled cruelly at the small relief in Krycek’s eyes. Then he brought his gun forward, tapping the barrel against Krycek’s lips. “Open up, Alex,” he whispered.

Fear bloomed beautifully on Krycek’s face. He swallowed, twice, then reluctantly let his lips part. Mulder thrust the gun barrel deep into Krycek’s mouth, gagging him. Mulder felt the convulsions down the length of Krycek’s body, as he lay next to him on the table. He relaxed his grip on the gun just enough to allow Krycek to breathe. Krycek’s mouth worked, trying to accommodate the width and length of the cold metal. Moisture filled his eyes. When he pressed them shut, tears dripped down the sides of his face.

“All right, Alex,” Mulder said softly. “I’m going to let you tell me what happened with my father. And whatever story you tell, you’d better make me believe it. Because if I don’t, I think I’ll let you tell it to him.”

Krycek tried to nod; the action only thrust the gun barrel deeper into his throat, gagging him again. Mulder stroked Krycek’s temple with the tenderness of absolute rule, and waited for him to recover before slowly withdrawing the gun from Krycek’s mouth.

Krycek coughed and gasped, swallowing, clearly still tasting the cold gunmetal in his mouth. “Mulder—” His voice was raw and laced with fear.

Mulder let the gun barrel trail down the side of Krycek’s face, from temple to jaw, before bringing it again to rest behind Krycek’s ear. “Tell me how you killed my father, Alex.”

“I didn’t kill him,” Krycek protested hopelessly. “I just went there to eavesdrop. I was supposed to find out what he told you. I was hiding in the bathroom. Neither of you were ever supposed to know that I was there.”

Mulder brought the gun up, pressed the barrel against Krycek’s temple. Krycek’s face twisted; his eyes shut tightly. A tear slipped down from the corner of his eye to form a shiny drop on the muzzle of the gun.

Seconds passed; the trigger was not pulled. Krycek swallowed hard, and continued. “When he came into the bathroom, I was hiding in the shower. I was just going to stay there until he went back out. But then, he took a bottle of pills out of the medicine cabinet, and poured the whole thing into his hand.”

Mulder remembered his father leaving him, to go into the bathroom. I’ve been taking some medication, his father had told him. Hadn’t Mulder felt a pang of fear then? Hadn’t he wondered, just for a fleeting second, whether his father might be intending to… ?

“I didn’t know what to do. If he killed himself, and anyone found out that I’d been there… I just wanted to stop him. That’s why I stepped out of the shower.

“We just stood there and stared at each other. Neither of us said a thing. Then he smiled, kind of sadly, like he knew he was caught, and he started to put the pills back into the bottle and turned to put it back on the sink. I figured I’d just wait until he went back out into the living room, and then take off. He splashed some water on his face, then picked up a towel.

“I wasn’t expecting anything. He caught me off guard. He whirled around and grabbed my gun—it was still in my holster, I’d never taken it out. I thought he was going to kill me. But no—he put the gun to his own head. It was all over before I had a chance to think. I grabbed my gun and took off out the window. Ran like hell. That’s all there is to it, Mulder, and I swear it’s the truth.”

Mulder found that his gun was shaking in his hand. It fit. There were no obvious flaws. Could it possibly have happened that way? “There were no powder burns on his hand.”

“He was holding it with the towel. I don’t know if he planned it that way, or if it just worked out like that. I thought he might have meant to frame me.”

The towel had been on the floor, to his father’s right. The open bottle of pills had been lying on the rug. Blood everywhere. One shot to the right temple, from very close range. His father was right-handed; so was Krycek. Krycek could have come up behind him—or his father could have held the gun himself. An execution—or a suicide? Planned on the split second to implicate Krycek?

Mulder felt the fury drain out of him. True or not, it was horribly plausible. And there was no way in hell he was ever going to know for sure which way it had happened.

Mulder released Krycek, slid off the table. The truth is out there – And it got more slippery every day. Murder or suicide? Partner or sister? Secret alien-run breeding experiment or carefully planned disinformation? Alien abduction or a young boy’s guilt and overheated imagination? Was anything real and true?

Mulder stumbled past the tables, to sink down to the cold floor, leaning against the concrete wall. Tears pricked at his eyes; this time, uncaring, he let them fall.

He thought Krycek would take the opportunity to escape. Instead, after climbing shakily down from the table, Krycek also came to sit in the floor against the wall, just out of arm’s reach, but no farther than that. He said nothing, just sat and waited, while Mulder gave in to frustration and horror and grief.

Long minutes passed, filled only with the small sounds of Mulder’s quiet weeping. Finally, Mulder lifted his head, and wiped his face on his sleeve. Krycek, with a small, pained sound, pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and held it out. Mulder took it and blew his nose.

“Why are you still here?” Mulder’s voice was thick and nasal.

Krycek sighed. “I don’t know. You going to kill me?”

“Probably not.”

There was a long pause. “You know, Mulder, what I told you when we first met, about following your work at the Academy, admiring you – that was the truth. I did feel like that. When they came to me and told me I could be your partner if I worked for them, I jumped at the chance. ‘Just keep an eye on him,’ they said. I was fooling myself, I guess, but I didn’t think it was going to be any more than that. By the time I found out what working for them really meant, it was too late, I was already in it up to my ears.

“You probably don’t believe that, and I guess it wouldn’t really matter even if you did. I made my decision, and I’m stuck with it. Things aren’t going to change between us. But… you asked me, so I’m telling you. That’s how it is.”

All Mulder could manage was a weak laugh. “I don’t know what to believe any more. So if you want to tell me you’ve been on my side all along, go ahead. I might even believe you. You can even tell me the sun revolves around the earth, or the sky is falling, and I might believe that, too.”

“Mulder, what was going on in this place? What did they have set up here?”

Mulder looked at Krycek with numb curiosity. Had Krycek been chosen specifically for his ability to look young and dumb? Mulder had a well-known weakness for strays. Even now, Krycek’s whipped-puppy attitude was getting to him. He could believe that Krycek was just a naive kid with a bad case of hero-worship who’d gotten in over his head. Not that that excused anything he’d done. Maybe Mulder was just feeling guilty for having terrorized him so badly.

“You really don’t know?” Mulder asked. Krycek just shrugged.

Ten minutes ago, I had my gun shoved down his throat. It wouldn’t have taken much to make me pull the trigger, Mulder mused. Now we’re sitting here chatting, and I’m blowing my nose in his handkerchief. After the unreal haze of the past few days, he couldn’t seem to find it strange. “They’re trying to make me think Scully is my sister, Samantha. And that we’re both part of some kind of alien breeding program.”

Krycek swallowed uneasily.

Mulder grinned. “You should check the files under ‘K.’ Maybe you’re in there, too.”

“Do you really think… ?”

“I don’t know what I think.” Who would believe something like that? Except, maybe, somebody called “Spooky” Mulder. “Two separate DNA tests showed that we are closely related. And the files in that computer explained why. If it was a setup, it was a damned good one. And they’re going to an awful lot of damned trouble just to gaslight me.”

Krycek looked at the tables, now bare of equipment, and the cartons stacked near them. “I could ask around, I guess. But they probably won’t tell me anything.” He looked back at Mulder, with a rueful sigh. “And you wouldn’t believe anything I told you, anyway.”

Mulder shook his head wearily. “I don’t believe anything. It doesn’t matter any more, it doesn’t matter what anybody says. How can I ever believe in anything again? You can tell them they’ve won. I give up.”

“No, Mulder, you can’t do that! You can’t give up.”

It was very touching, really, Mulder thought, that Krycek should be urging him so earnestly not to give up, after everything he’d done to help destroy him. Who was this kid? “Last year, after the X-Files were shut down, I thought I’d hit bottom. I’d lost faith in myself, in my beliefs. I thought I couldn’t get any lower.” He laughed shortly. “I was so wrong. I didn’t have any idea how far down the bottom was.”

“You’ll get through this, just like you got through it before. You’ll find your faith again, and you’ll go on. I know you will.”

Mulder shook his head. “There are just too many lies. I can’t tell the difference any more. You can’t depend on the evidence, you can’t depend on anything. How am I going to know the truth when I see it?”

“How does anybody know anything? How do you know the sun’s going to come up in the morning? How do you know the atoms in your body aren’t going to just go flying off into the universe? Evidence can only tell you so much. When it comes right down to it, everything’s a leap of faith. You always had that radar, Mulder, that ability to know what was real, even when it was something so crazy everybody else thought you were nuts for believing it. You’ve still got it, I know you do. You just have to trust yourself to know it. Don’t let them – don’t let me or anyone else – take it away from you.” Krycek stared at him intently, one fist clenched. Unwiped tears still tracked his face. The words had just poured out of him, heedless, and, if Mulder could still tell anything about anybody, sincere. And there was no possible reason for Krycek to be saying any of it, unless he believed it.

Mulder pushed himself unsteadily to his feet. He stepped over to Krycek, reached out his hand. Krycek flinched, still expecting to be hit, then forced a sick laugh and took Mulder’s arm, and allowed himself to be helped to his feet.

“I’m going to go home and get some sleep,” Mulder said. “I expect you should, too.”

Krycek glanced around uneasily. “I’ve still got to get this… stuff….”

Mulder nodded. “I don’t know if I’ll see you again. If I do….”

“I know. Nothing changes.”

“It’s changed. Krycek, about my father – I believe you. You’ve still got a lot to answer for – and I hope some day you will. But that part of the score is settled.”

Krycek swallowed. “Thanks.”

I should arrest him, he thought. But what good would that do? There was no evidence to prove Krycek had done anything, and even if there was, his handlers would just get him off anyway.

Mulder left him there.

* * *

There was only time for a few hours’ sleep before he had to get ready for work. Still, he felt much better in the morning. Good enough to greet Scully cheerfully with fresh coffee and a bag of donuts when she arrived and found him already hard at work.

“Good morning. You seem… better today.” Scully allowed.

“I’m fine.” Scully, however, was still pale, with dark smudges like bruises beneath tired blue eyes. “Are you all right?”

She smiled faintly. “I didn’t sleep very well. But I’ll be all right. You know, people used to tell me how much I looked like my father….”

“Scully, I think the whole thing was a setup, right from the start. I went back to that warehouse last night, and they’d already cleaned it out. I don’t know how they got Langly onto it, but I’m going to call him later—as soon as I know he won’t bite my head off for waking him up – and see if I can get to the bottom of it. I’ll check on Markham, too. We’ll figure it out.”

Scully’s smile widened. “You were pretty sure it was true. What made you change your mind?”

Alex Krycek, he thought. But he didn’t say it. “I don’t know. I thought about it a lot. Maybe I just don’t want to believe it.”

“What if we check into it, and all the evidence is against us?”

“I don’t know.” Mulder paused, and chewed his lip thoughtfully. “I’ve been thinking about that, too. I guess… maybe I don’t think it would be so bad if you were my sister.”

Scully walked over to him, put her hand on his shoulder. “Mulder, blood isn’t the only thing that can make a family.”

“Just as long as it doesn’t tear us apart.”

She gave him a reassuring smile, then returned to her desk. Mulder watched her contentedly. Scully was one of a kind. She wasn’t Samantha. She couldn’t be.

She couldn’t be.

continue to part two