Title: A Darker Fairy Tale
Title: A Darker Fairy Tale
Summary: In which the alternative dances before John Byers' eyes.
Author's Notes: For Michael, who inspires, willingly or not.
Such a small thing, this baby in his arms. And what a future this small thing has. He is so loved; will he grow up knowing what has been and what will be sacrificed for him?
John Byers knows. He's been crossing paths with Fox Mulder for so long that there is almost no difference between them. Something lost, driving each man in his individual quest. What distinguished these two men was the result of their quests. Byers was a, let's face it, paranoid ringleader of a conspiracy theorist trio. Nothing to show for those years in college, pushing for that masters in communications. Nothing to show for over a decade on some quest to find his fairy tale ending.
Mulder, on the other hand, found his answers. He had a woman to love him, and he had a son. This tiny child Byers now held was the end result for Mulder, and represented a broken dream for Byers.
Perhaps, right now, Mulder was in fact dead. Maybe that UFO cult had indeed killed him. Didn't change the fact that he had come so much closer to fulfilling the dream than Byers had.
Now, Byers was helping to preserve that ending. Part of him was racked with guilt over the envy he felt, and part of him was furious with fate for choosing these paths. He sat in the back of the van, cooing to baby William, contemplating how lucky Mulder was. Byers Was nowhere near that lucky. No Camelot in this life for this man.
Frohike slammed on the brakes, and Byers gripped William a little harder. The van smashed into a pillar, and a woman came toward them. Frohike and Langly were passed out, and Byers was left prone in the back, William clasped in his arms.
When the door was flung open and Byers found himself with a gun to his head, he almost laughed bitterly at the tragic irony of it all. Not only had fate cheated him out of a wife and child of his own, it now saw fit to make him a poor babysitter for someone else's child.
William was ripped from his arms, and Byers' shout was cut short as the pistol connected with the side of his head.
His last conscience thought was *Susanne*.
*john, darling, could you change the baby's diaper for me? my hands are full!*
*no problem, dear*
gold ring on his left ring finger, shining in the sunlight that comes through the skylight. baby girl dressed in a pink jumper lying in a crib, innocently smiling up at him as he picks her up to change her diaper.
*john, did you want tomato basil soup with dinner or some salad?*
he smiles contently, redressing his baby girl (this is *his* baby girl, and that was *his* wife calling to him).
*soup is fine, susanne!*
dinner is quiet, the baby taking a nap while mother and father sit across from each other. a diamond sparkles on susanne's left hand, and john lifts her hand to kiss her fingers.
*i love you, john*
he just smiles, and leans across the table to kiss her.
The bright fluorescent light offending his blurry vision told Byers he was in a hospital. Cold plastic around his wrist and an unmistakable draft below his waist confirmed it.
He tried to focus, see whom it was that was sitting next to him. Red hair gives it away; Scully didn't look at him, but even from where he lay, Byers could see she was crying.
"I'm sorry, Scully."
She looked up at him, startled to hear his voice.
"It wasn't your fault."
He wondered, then. He wondered if he hadn't tempted fate by feeling envious of Mulder, by resenting William on some level for being the answer to someone else's prayers.
And as he looked at Scully, at her red-rimmed eyes and grimly determined expression, he wondered if he wasn't
also resentful of her. She was the damsel in some one else's fairy tale, the sleeping beauty for a valiant Fox Mulder. He, Byers, had no damsel waiting for him at the end of a maze full of dragons to slay. There was no prize beauty for him to rescue. There was only this, playing at sidekick or expendable ally.
She tossed her hair back, and he blinked hard to stop himself from crying. She was a heroine worth wishing for, worth winning. He couldn't help but think that his was a darker fairy tale.
He turned his aching head and let sleep come over him.
*she's asleep, completely knocked out. i think all that playing at the park wore her out, john*
*well, what good is a childhood if you can't enjoy it?*
*she's a year old!*
susanne smacks john with an embroidered throw pillow.
the words are scrawled with a practiced stitch: 'john and susanne, 2-14-90'.
he laughs and grabs susanne by her wrists, pulling her in gently for a passionate kiss. they fall on the bed, clothes gone in a breathless rush.
when it's over, she falls asleep on his chest, and he lays awake, smiling at the plaster ceiling.
The ride home from the hospital was uneventful. Each of the Gunmen sported bruises and cuts from their adventure the night before.
Byers still had a headache. He thought he'd spent the night dreaming about Susanne (*her lips pressed to his and her skin so warm under his fingers*), but the harsh light of morning had worn away the effect.
Back inside, at what Langly laughingly called the Lair, there was work to do. The latest issue of The Lone Gunman was over a week late, thanks to all the panic over Mulder's whereabouts and William's safety. There were contacts at MUFON to be called, satellite tracking to be reviewed, and dozens of email messages to answer. This was life, Byers thought. This was the life his father condemned so vehemently. This was the life that came when fairy tales failed you.
He felt the weight of that nearly crush him as he made his way to his room in the back. He mumbled some excuse to a frustrated Frohike and a harried Langly. He heard Jimmy's voice at the door, asking to be let in, and he heard the phones ringing.
It was as if those things were happening at the end of a long corridor, far from where he was standing.
Byers closed his door and sat on his bed. He opened the top drawer of the nightstand, dug around through newspaper clippings and various photos, and brought out a simple gold band.
Where was Susanne tonight?
he stands on a balcony, looking up at the night sky. full of stars, he muses, stars we have no name for and stars that are really planets, where little green men were supposed to live.
*come back to bed.*
she wraps her arms around his waist and kisses him where his neck meets his shoulders.
*i will. have you looked at the sky tonight, susanne? it's incredible. do you ever wonder what might be up there?*
she smiles and he feels her breath as she whispers to him.
*why would i? everything i want is right here.*
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