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TITLE: Aftertime(1/1)

AUTHOR: Ana Vicente

CATEGORY: S(Post-XF)

RATING: PG

SPOILERS: Nothing relevant.

DISCLAIMER: All the characters but Kaye are the property of Chris Carter and Fox Television.

SUMMARY: The alien invasion has happened and Jeffrey Spender is leading the resistance in Mulder and Scully's absence.
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Mulder's eyes were set on him as he entered the room. They always were because there was a blown up photograph of Mulder and Scully on the wall facing the door.

It was one of the few photos they had of Mulder and Scully together, and it was probably the only one where they were looking straight at the camera. In most they were either looking at each other or into the distance.

This was the meeting room. Under the photograph were a table and three chairs. The rest of the room was filled with rows of pews.

He walked down the central aisle. There was a woman sitting up front, her head bowed. She was staring at something she held in her hands so intently she didn't hear him approaching.

"Margaret," he called softly.

She kept toying with the gold chain and cross she was holding as if she hadn't heard him.

"Margaret, I have a meeting."

Her head shot up. She hadn't been crying, but somehow the tears were there.

"Yes," he said.

She nodded and stood up. "I'll go." She looked at him one last time, pleading.

"I'll ask," he promised.

He always asked anyway. He had asked every chance he got for the past seventeen months. And he would ask again tonight, even if he already knew what the answer would be.

"Don't give up hope," Margaret whispered, placing a hand on his shoulder, "I've seen them survive so much."

He remained with his back to the door until he heard it closing. He didn't want her to see in his eyes that he had given up hope long ago.

He was locking the door when a shadow walked out from behind a drape. The way she seemed to materialize into places had stopped startling him after the first few times. "How long have you been hiding there?"

"I walked in right after you."

She pulled a pipe from one of her trench coat pockets and, sitting on the nearest pew, begun to fill it. He watched her and waited, it was almost like a ritual, she never spoke until she had lit her pipe. He had learnt to accept it as one of her idiosyncrasies, not much different from her wearing black all the time. In the beginning it had been just one of the many things about her that made him nervous.

She blew a puff of smoke into the hair, and signaled him to sit down. "There'll be a prisoner transference tomorrow. Twenty people."

She produced a map. "They'll leave the confinement unit, here, at 7:00 AM. They're taking them by train to be processed."

"Tomorrow? Damn it, Kaye, we won't have time to prepare on such short notice."

"You wanted a two weeks notice? You think you're still at the Bureau, Jeff?"

He stood up. Hanging from a hook on the wall was a metal spike. There was at least one in every room of the complex. He felt for the gimlet in his pocket, the woman, Kaye, had given it to him on their first meeting.

The spike on the wall was a cruder version of the gimlet. They had tried to duplicate the system that made the gimlet operate, and had found out that the only way to make it function in terms of human technology was to carry around a hydraulic pump with a tube down your sleeve leading from the pump to the device. Unsophisticated as it was, the spike was much more functional.

"Which of the processing plants?" he asked.

"The one near Kensington." She marked a spot on the map."They will have to slow dow here. You'll be able to get on board. Here's the key card, the entry and exit codes are on the back. The prisoners will be on the boxcar marked 17776."

"I just wish we'd have more time."

"And I wish you weren't such a reluctant sonuvabitch!" she said, "At least ... Oh, never mind."

Jeffrey looked coldly at her. "At least Mulder never hesitated, was that what you were going to say?

"You know, if Mulder had been half the reluctant sonuvabitch I am, maybe he and Scully would still be here, and then they could take the aggravation!"

He ran his fingers through his hair in a weary movement. "I'll call a meeting after you leave, we should be able to have something figured out before morning."

"Aren't you going to ask me?" she said softly.

"Ask you what?"

"About them. I heard you telling Scully's mother you would, and you always do."

He shrugged. "I know the answer, you don't know anything, no one's seen them. So, what's the use?"

"You think they're dead, don't you?"

He looked at her and managed a smile. "Mulder was a pain-in-the-ass, Scully could be an annoying little miss-know-it-all, but I have to admit they were good. Seventeen months without news, they have to be dead."

"Why keep asking then?"

He inhaled deeply, the scent of the pipe tobacco was like incense in the air. "It makes it easier when I have to face the others.

"Look at this place, it might as well be a church. If they realize I don't expect Mulder and Scully to return ... They're dispirited enough as it is."

Kaye rubbed the back of his head softly. "For what it is worth, I don't think they are dead."

"So, you've heard something!"

She sunk her hands into the trench coat pockets. "No. But don't you think they have figured it out too. Don't you think they know what producing Mulder and Scully's dead bodies would do to the spirit of most of the resistance members here in the US?

"I think they have them, I think they need them for something, something that is more important than crushing the resistance."

"I've been reading Mulder's journals." He smiled again. "Not the bits about Scully. He seemed to think that you might be -- "

"Samantha?" She laughed. "He asked me several times, but I guessed I wasn't giving him the answer he wanted."

She turned to leave. "Tell them I'll keep trying to find out where they are."

Jeffrey picked up the map and the key card she had left on the pew. "Thank you."

"Do you want me to tell your father anything?"

"Yeah, tell him I go to bed every night thinking of him and praying lung cancer."

He waited for her to leave, his eyes fixed on Mulder. Then he turned on the switch that lit several red lights spread throughout the complex.

THE END


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