Rated: PG-13 (For generally child-like behavior
exhibited by adults).
Category: A, MT.
Spoiler(s): We're in Season 3.
Summary: What is responsible for Mulder's sudden
distrust in Scully?
Archive: Gossamer. If you want it, please ask
Disclaimers: All X-Files characters and the title
are owned and operated by Chris Carter, Ten
Thirteen Productions, and Fox Studios. I created
one original character. No profit made; no
copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: Written for Mulder's Refuge April
Challenge: "Fears, Phobias, and Frustrations."
The airport, hectic as it seemed, was a welcome sight
to Mulder and Scully. Their testimony in Texas had
helped Federal Prosecutors convict three drug smugglers,
and this had been their first non-X-Files assignment in
As they went through baggage pick-up, Scully glanced up
at the clock. "No sense going in to the office, I guess,
but I suppose you'll want to check in on your messages."
"Nah, Scully. I think I'll go home, kick back and sleep
for the entire weekend. How about you?" Mulder did look
exhausted, and the tell-tale five o'clock shadow added to
his ragged appearance. "Any plans for the G-woman who
managed to put three drug-smuggling caballeros away?"
"It's after seven, Mulder. It's getting dark, I'm tired,
and I just want to eat something, have a long, hot bath,
and crawl into bed. If I wake up early enough tomorrow,
it's laundry, groceries and a good book. We'd better get
the company car back to the Hoover and just go home."
They put their bags into the car trunk and headed back
2360 HEGAL PLACE
No sooner had Mulder arrived home, when there was a knock
at the door. He was in the bathroom changing into casual
wear. "I'll be right there!" He opened the door to a short,
dark-haired man wearing work clothes, "Mr. Jackson. What
can I do for you?"
"Just came by to let you know you'll be getting a new
neighbor. I couldn't reach you during the week..."
"Yeah. I was out of town on a case... "
"Anyway, he'll be moving in bright and early, so I
apologize in advance for any convenience it may cause.
His name is John Fold, and he assures me he lives a quiet
"I guess he won't be playing the music full blast. Thanks
for letting me know, Mr. Jackson."
"No problem. Just tell him he can see me in the
Superintendent's office after lunch. I'll be going to the
hardware store in the morning. Damn people rent here, move
out, don't leave the keys, and I'm replacing locks, blinds
"Right. I'll remember that. If you'll excuse me... "
"Sure. Goodnight." He could only hope #44 would finally
be occupied. Due to some happenings and the neighborhood
grape vine, nobody seemed to want to sign a lease on the
place next door to Special Agent Fox Mulder, FBI, target
Mulder closed the door and went straight to the fridge. The
Chinese Food containers had made wonderful science
projects, and the last slices of a pizza could have been used
as lethal weapons, so he decided to order a pizza, lie on the
couch, and channel surf for a Friday Fright Night Feature.
He'd been so busy lately, he'd forgotten what channel
showed that kind of thing.
Mulder had slept in. Fox Mulder, who had usually gone for
his run, sprung for coffee around the corner and pulled out
some case files had slept in. It had been quite a month of
work, and the rest was definitely much needed. The sound of
movers echoed through the hallway as Mulder stretched and
headed straight for the shower. After pronouncing himself
presentable for the day, he donned jeans and denim shirt.
Sleeping in wasn't going to get him out of a run. However,
moving men and furniture in the hall would get in the way.
Mulder inched himself out into the hallway, enough to see
that #44 was not the new tenant's home. #47, vacant for
one week. Naturally. It was far enough away from Spooky
"Excuse me. Uh, guys? I'd like to get out of here... "
Finally someone responded. A man of approximately 30, red
hair and medium build spoke up at the end of a trail of
furniture. "Sorry for the inconvenience. I'm new here,
and we'll be out of your way in no time. Looks like
first contact here. I'm John Fold." Mulder extended his hand.
"Fox Mulder. Welcome. I'd uh, I'd kind of like to go for a
run. I overslept and, tough work week."
"Yeah, tell me about it. Hey! Watch the table, guys?
That's an antique! I'd better get ahead of them. The last
time I moved, all my dishes were powder. See you later,
Biggs watched Mulder leave and pulled out his cell phone.
"Contact made. Call me in two hours."
After a hearty lunch and some shopping for necessities,
Mulder had just reached his apartment door when John
Fold met him in the hallway. "Hey, all moved in already?"
"Yeah, not as bad as I thought. I was just going out for
something to eat. I see you've been out and about!"
"Yeah. Well, my job sometimes takes me out of town, so
I 'm restocking my fridge. Would you like to come in for
a beer?" Mulder fished for his keys and unlocked the door.
When the man stepped into the apartment, he began to look
the apartment over. He seemed to be noting everything he
could about the place. "Hey! Nice fish."
"Well, I try. I can't be here all the time, so if my partner
doesn't feed them, usually the Super comes in." Mulder
gave Fold a beer, and they sat down.
"Partner. So you're a cop?"
"Uh, no. What did you say you did for a living, John?"
"I'm an accountant. You still jog after that fitness guru
Mulder sipped his beer. "No, I run. How about going down to
the 'Y' tomorrow and we can play some b-ball?"
"Nah. I'll still be setting up my place. Besides, I'm more
into football. So, in your job you're away a lot. I mean,
"Sometimes. Well, it's not like we don't have an office or
anything. We do. We're on the road a lot. I can't tell you
how much it means to have a co-worker believe in me, and
to work with someone I trust. In my line of work, that's a
must, especially when you're on the road. So you took #47.
What was wrong with the one next door?"
"Needs a new carpet, and they're not taking applications
for it yet. Well, I really have to get something to eat,
and when my fridge gets cold enough, gotta stock it.
Thanks for the beer."
"Yeah." Mulder opened the door. "See ya around. Let me
know if you need anything."
"Right. I will."
Mulder wondered if this man was going to be a friend or a
nosy body. He had seen the way John Fold seemed to be
surveying his home. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe the man
was just curious. After all, he did seem a loner.
As Mulder was lying on the couch, watching a movie, his
new neighbor entered #44 with ease, since the Superintendent
had been working on the vacant unit, and had removed the door
knob and lock. Fold placed a cassette player near the wall
abutting #42, and pressed to run the tape. He then proceeded
to call whoever it was he had contacted earlier. "It's me.
Course of subliminal suggestions has begun. I return in
40 minutes to change tapes."
"Make sure you are consistent," a voice on the line advised
Fold. "Make sure the subject continues to receive suggestions
tomorrow night as well. He will not be receiving field cases
during the week. You are to sleep during the daytime, and
continue with the tapes and report only to me."
"No problem. The subject will receive the messages throughout
OFFICE OF THE X-FILES
As usual, Mulder was at the office early. Scully arrived
"Hey, Mulder. How was your weekend?"
Mulder looked up from his work. "Fine. New neighbor moved
in, and I finally got caught up on my sleep. So, ready to
report to Skinner? We're due there at nine, but I thought
I'd get it over with as soon as possible. Kimberly said he
didn't have anything planned until our meeting, anyway.
Which I wonder about. I'm sure you'll slip him your little
report on me as usual."
"Yeah. Just give me a few minutes, Mulder. They're updating
my ID photo. I'll be right back." As Scully turned toward
the door, she couldn't believe what Mulder was saying.
"I bet. Reporting to the higher-ups on my activities is more
"What? Mulder, I don't know how... Where'd you get that idea?
We settled that a year ago! I am not the 'little spy' who was
sent to debunk your work. What's the matter with you?" She
looked at Mulder with caution. "Are you all right?"
"False concern, too. You're a good actress, Dr. Scully. I
think it's time I called everybody's bluff."
"What the... ? Mulder, listen to me. I watch your back; you
watch mine." Her voice softened as she moved closer to the
desk. "I don't know what's bothering you, but maybe you need
some time off. You have it coming, Mulder. Take advantage of
His tone, his manner chilled her to the bone, but Scully
couldn't afford to show fear. She had to show support for
Mulder. Obviously, there had been a change in Mulder, and
it had happened very recently.
Her partner was unaffected by her concern. "Don't patronize
me, Scully. It's all part of the deal, isn't it? ISN'T IT!"
The tone of Mulder's voice, and his expression terrified
"I'll be back in ten minutes, and we can take the report to
Skinner. After that, I think you should see a doctor. Maybe
if you don't trust me, you'll trust someone else."
As soon as she was at the elevator, it occurred to her:
This issue had been settled long ago. What had changed was
something she needed to know and quickly, because Mulder's
faith in others had been shattered so badly in the past,
just scratching the old wound could open a Pandora's box
of distrust, destroying their partnership. Perhaps it
would destroy Mulder himself.
OFFICE OF A.D. WALTER SKINNER
Skinner sat behind his desk listening intently to Scully's
account of her confrontation with Mulder. "Sir, I think
he needs a vacation. I KNOW he needs help. He expects to
come up here soon and give the report, and I'm sure you can
appreciate the concern I have as to how he will treat you,
"Agent Scully, I can't force him to take a few days off.
If he wants to work, I can't stop him without a medical
recommendation. He would have to be seen by someone
immediately if what I understand from you is true. I'll
draft a form recommending sick leave, but I'll need
a doctor's say so. In the meantime, Agent Scully, you and
Agent Mulder are expected to see me about the Texas
Somehow, Scully didn't think that was something she was
going to look forward to. "Yes, Sir. If you'll excuse me,
I should get back to work." Scully left Skinner's office
feeling no better than she had when she had entered it.
She was strong. She could handle Mulder.
OFFICE OF THE X-FILES
While the meeting with Skinner had gone smoothly for the
Agents, the hour afterward had not. Mulder wasn't speaking
to Scully much, if at all, except to say, "Excuse me",
"Do you remember where the printer paper is?"
Whatever was going on in his mind, Scully couldn't hazard a
guess. As she was reading a report, she began to go over
everything he had said and done that morning. The "little
spy" remark, the seeming distrust that was rearing its ugly
head. That stuck in her mind more than anything. Didn't
Mulder say he had a new neighbor? Who is he? What does
he do for a living? Is he someone Mulder can be friends with?
Is he... No, not everyone is out to get Mulder, she
told herself. Still, she couldn't shake the feeling that
perhaps Mulder had been through something on the weekend,
and she wanted to find out for herself just what had
happened to her partner.
She glanced up from her file and studied Mulder as he
made an entry into the computer. "Mulder, it's lunch
"Yeah. You go on. I'm into something right now." His
eyes hadn't strayed from the monitor for even one moment
"I've got an errand to run, so I might be a bit late back.
Don't worry, I'm almost finished reviewing this anyway."
Scully grabbed her jacket. She didn't want to leave the
morning like this, feeling that she and Mulder were so
far apart while in the same room. "Mulder? Have I done
"Go to lunch, Scully."
'Go to lunch, Scully'. Nothing more. "I'll hurry back,"
she said, with absolutely no expression. Whatever had
been bothering Mulder, she would find out... and soon.
2360 HEGAL PLACE
Scully unlocked Mulder's door as the superintendent
was leaving another unit. "Hi, Mr. Jackson. I hear you've
rented out another unit."
"Agent, Scully! You're looking great. Yeah, #47 is
finally bringing in some dough. The owner was really
getting worried. Say, is Agent Mulder okay?"
"Yeah, at least I think so. I'm just here to pick up
a file. So, you've got a new tenant, I hear? I guess
#44 is still empty."
"Still needs a little work. New lock, carpet. Some people.
I'd pay you to take it. At least you look like the reliable type.
Well, I gotta get going. Nice seeing you again."
"Thanks." Scully closed the door and took a look around
Mulder's apartment. Everything seemed as it usually did.
The fish were healthy. The desk was a bit dusty. There
were no medications other than over-the-counter Aspirin.
She looked around for possible bugs. Everything was,
well... everything was Mulder. Just as it always had been.
Maybe she was the paranoid one. No. How could his
personality have undergone such a change just through a
weekend? It wasn't exactly a personality change. It was
more of an attitude change... toward her! She left
Mulder's apartment, careful to lock the door.
The unit next to him was vacant, and it had been for a
while. No lock. Apartment #44 was bereft of furniture.
The carpet was quite a mess, with tears and water stains,
cigarette burns. As she went further into the apartment,
the bathroom and kitchen had been newly-painted, the
closet actually looked pretty good, the bedroom... the
window blinds were all bent out of shape. So, what was she
looking for? Her instincts told her to take in the whole
place. Her eyes stopped on the air vent high upon the wall
that met with Mulder's apartment. Just what was the little
grey box up there, anyway? She took a slat from the window
blind and nudged the box until it fell to the floor.
"A cassette player?" Scully was beginning to formulate
a theory when she was scared out of her wits by a familiar
voice shouting at her.
"I knew you'd be here!" Mulder aimed his gun at her, face
ablaze with rage, eyes dark with anger. "Give me that!
You've been spying on me all along. Three years! I said
give me that!"
She did as she was told. "Mulder, put the gun down and we
can talk... "
"Talk? YOU talk!"
"Mulder, please just... just keep your voice down and we
can discuss this in your apartment. You're not yourself!"
She needed to be calm, to remind herself he might not be
well. She wondered why she needed to remind herself of those
things, even though she knew by now she could handle her
partner. His change in personality had been quite a shock.
"My apartment. All right. You first. Use your key and
I'm right behind you!" He ushered her out of #44 slowly,
watching her carefully as she unlocked the door to his
apartment. Once they were alone, he asked for her gun. She
gave it to him without a fuss. "Names. I want names! Who
put you up to this!"
Scully sat on the couch. "Nobody put me up to anything,
Mulder. Think about it: I've been your partner for three
years, and we've been to hell and back together."
Mulder took a cassette out of the player. "Then what's
"Sit down, Mulder."
"No!" Ouch. The man was going ballistic very quickly.
"Mulder. Listen to me. I think it's meant for you to
hear, but I didn't put it next door. Look at the player.
It doesn't have a record function. Maybe... maybe this
is the reason you've become so antagonized! You don't
even trust me anymore!"
"No, Scully. I DON'T!"
"Put the gun down and listen to me, Mulder. I worked hard to
earn your trust, and I had it until this morning. Do you see
anything wrong with this picture? Who the hell puts a cassette
player up in an air vent? Someone who wants you to hear
something. Maybe that someone wants you to hear lies, to...
to believe something. I don't know. But I know you, Mulder."
"Yeah? You know me. Maybe a little too much!" Mulder was
restless and pacing the room, keeping his eyes locked on
Scully and aiming the gun straight at her.
Scully sighed. "I know you'd want this analyzed."
Mulder took a deep breath, pointed the gun downward and
looked up at the ceiling, then back at the tape. "I would.
Yeah, I would want it analyzed. But maybe this is a blank
and you knew I was going to follow you."
Scully stood and walked over to Mulder, who was standing
beside his desk. "Hey, just put it into the player and
maybe we'll find something to help us out here."
Mulder frowned skeptically.
Mulder put the tape into the player, and rewound it. When
he pressed the play button, there was nothing but a little
street noise and the odd human whistle. "There's nothing
here, Scully. Nothing, and I want to know RIGHT NOW, what
you're doing here, and where this came from!"
Scully could be just as loud as Mulder, and she decided to
let off some steam. "I came here to find some clue as to why
my partner has become such a bitter, paranoid man just a
couple of days after celebrating with me after we rapped up
a monster of a drug case in Texas! And I still want to know
that. What about The Gunmen? Maybe they can make some
sense of this, because it's all I have to go on to try to figure
this out!" She inhaled deeply, slowly letting her tension
"I don't believe this. This is futile, Scully. Just get out
"Let's give them a try, Mulder. Hey, I want to help you. You
can't be happy with yourself like this. Maybe you can't see
how you're acting, but Skinner has noticed it as well as I
"I'll drive, then," Mulder quietly, but firmly, replied.
"Sure. Let's go. The sooner the better. I'll call Skinner
on the way. He has a right to know we'll be out for a
while. You'll see, Mulder. I'm not your enemy."
As the two agents left the building, The Cigarette Smoking
Man watched fretfully from John Folds' apartment.
THE LONE GUNMEN'S HEADQUARTERS
Scully watched anxiously as the tape was put through
numerous tests, and played numerous times. After two hours
of scrutiny, Frohike finally hit on something.
"Look closely at the oscilloscope," he urged Mulder. He set
his headphones aside. "This is what's beneath all the noise.
This is what will get someone into one heck of a paranoia
trip when it's played enough times. Now, I'm going to make
the voice you couldn't normally hear audible. It's subliminal
"For years, you haven't trusted anyone. You still can't
trust certain people, can you? Your partner was sent to
spy on you. She still reports to nameless, faceless men
in the shadows. She reports your every... "
Mulder was visibly upset. Not angry. Upset. "Turn it off.
Just... turn the damn thing off. It's my new neighbor's
"Nice neighbor," Byers remarked. "He did so much
more in two days than the CIA ever could."
Mulder turned to Scully. "I don't know... "
Scully put her hand on Mulder's arm. "It's all right.
Let's just get Fold."
"Guys, once again I owe you one. Can you transcribe this
for us and we'll be back for it after we do our Welcome
"Hey, for you, anything," Frohike responded. "Hey
Scully, can I have your number?"
Scully just shook her head and smiled as she and Mulder
headed for Fold's apartment.
Of course, when they reached the apartment, Fold was gone
and so was his furniture. The only indications anyone had
resided there were indentations on the carpets, where
furniture had stood, and a tell-tale Morley cigarette butt
on the threshold.
"Well, Scully, I thought I could actually make a friend AND
keep a neighbor. Looks like I trusted the wrong person. I
was totally afraid you were all ready to go against me in
the next Internal Review."
"My God," Scully gasped.
"I had reason to think they wouldn't stop, that Smokey still
had a hand in a lot of things, Scully. Fold is just another
man who isn't in the books or any official records. I'm
sorry I acted like a... " He just couldn't face Scully. He
felt like a heel.
"Jack-ass, Mulder? Hey, it's understandable. I'm sure we can
repair any damage to our partnership. Some day." She wasn't
afraid to look Mulder straight in the eye. "I'm talking to
"May as well call it a day. Care to have dinner with a
paranoid guy who doesn't trust you?"
"Uh, no Mulder. I'd rather dine with you. Trust me. We
have a lot to talk about."