Healer *PG13* 5/5
Deslea R. Judd
DISCLAIMER: Situations not mine. Interpretation mine. Deal.
ARCHIVE: Yes, just keep my name and headers.
SPOILERS/TIMEFRAME: To Existence.
CATEGORY: X Files, mythology, Jeremiah Smith POV, Krycek/Marita.
SUMMARY: Four factions. Three species. Two men. One woman. SUMMARY FOR CRYPTIC-PHOBIC: What if Jeremiah Smith eluded capture in DeadAlive? This story is a response to the Purity Virtual Season "What If?" challenge.
THANKS: To Rachel Anton, who hauled me out of a mid-fic crisis and assured me this was a story worth writing. I'm glad she did; I've enjoyed it.
MORE FIC: http://fiction.deslea.com
FEEDBACK: Love the stuff. firstname.lastname@example.org
AWARDS/ELIGIBILITY: Spooky 2001 Eligible. Recommended by IOHO (June 2001). Second runner-up, "What If?" challenge, Purity Virtual Summer Season, June 2001. This story was featured in the quarterly multi-fandom zine Worlds Away And Time, October 2001.
CODA: ONE WOMAN
How I came to have it doesn't matter.
Suffice it to say, I was an old, old man. The final showdown had come and gone; what remained of my species continued on its inexorable path to extinction. And I - I was a traitor, a pariah, exiled forever from a dying world. I would die in this strange, unforgiving land, with its strange, beautiful, terrible creatures.
I don't know how she found me. She never said. In fact, she said nothing at all. She simply placed an envelope in front of me, emblazoned with my name - a name I had shed long ago, before the acquisition of this latest roadside diner, before the previous one or the one before that.
When I looked up from the cheap laminate tabletop, through the tangle of patrons I caught a single glimpse of that unforgettable smile; took in her faded silver hair and her ethereal aqua eyes before she disappeared as quickly as she came. But she stayed long enough for me to feel the darkness emanating from within her.
Marita was dying.
I watched the obituaries for a time. I didn't think it would be long, and it wasn't. She died two weeks later, and her funeral was a busy affair. She was well-loved. I counted four young men and women who might have been her children; four achingly beautiful young people with his brown hair and her aqua eyes. There was no sign of Alex.
After I left, I went back to my motel, and packed. I checked out. And then I did something I hadn't done in decades: I slept outdoors.
That night, warming myself by the campfire, I remembered them both. I remembered them fondly, less in our intrigues and more in the fleeting glimpses of their lifetime to which only I had been privy. It had been a long time since I had prayed to either the deities of this world or of my own; but this night, I prayed for them both, and I addressed the prayer To Whom It May Concern. I think Alex would have liked that.
I opened the letter.
I am writing this in the hope that it will reach you, one way or another. I will look for you for as long as I can, but if I don't find you, I pray and trust that my daughter will. It is possible - even probable - that you are already dead, for you were not a young man when first we met. But I pray that you still live.
We lost Alex three years ago. His illness was short, inexplicable, and probably related to the thing to which we were exposed. But he died a good death, peaceful and surrounded by those who loved him. I nearly searched for you then, not because you could heal him, but because you were our friend. I think now that you would have healed him if you came, so I am glad I stayed at his side. It was his time.
And now it is mine.
That fact saddens me, because now I can never come back to you. I will not come to you sick. I will not do that to you. You once said we were your friends because we had never asked anything of you, and I know you would not begrudge me asking now, but it's something I cannot do.
I wondered for a long time why you didn't give Alex his arm back, but now I think I know. His arm was the price. His arm was justice - literally, pound of flesh for those he harmed. I understand now that he could never have walked away if you had not kept that back. As for me...my price is a shortened life. I don't mind. We were happy, Alex and I, and we raised four beautiful children. I think we got the good end of the bargain. It was more than either of us deserved.
I'm not sure why I feel driven to share these things with you now, except that I wanted you to know what you brought us, with your gift, with your friendship, and with who you are. You hated it when I talked about your gift, Jeremiah, and with good reason. It brought you great suffering at times. It is my hope, though, as our lives draw to a close that you can embrace who you are. You are a healer, in every possible way. More than that, though, you are loved by at least two of the ones you healed. I don't know if that makes it worth it...but maybe it can be enough.
Thank you for being our friend.
All my love,
I folded the letter carefully, and put it into my pocket, close to my chest. I wiped my too-wet eyes, and then I rolled over and closed them.
Yes, I thought, it was worth it. Every minute of it.
I went to sleep.
(1) Geographic information about Mars, including air pressure, air composition, orbit, and its moons Phobos and Deimos were all obtained from http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/nineplanets/nineplane ts/nineplanets.html.
(2) One thing I loved about writing this story was writing about Alex and Marita from the perspective of someone who knows very little of their history - someone who judges them solely on their behaviour and the things they say in the here and now. I think Jeremiah is very idealistic about them, especially Marita, and it's been interesting to twist their characterisation a little into that light.
(3) BONUS: HEALER BACKSTORY
This support document, which I wrote while I was writing Healer, explains the events of the story from an objective point of view. It is not at all literary or entertaining, but those of you wondering how it all hangs together with the XF canon may find it of interest. In particular, there is a detailed account at the end which ties the story into the larger context of Existence.
APOCRYPHA: Alex survives full possession by the black oil (canon). He is left with trace gifts including the ability to navigate, and the concentration of the species is strong enough to be detected by Colonists, Purists, and Greys. (story).
HERRENVOLK: Jeremiah Smith, an alien shapeshifter, maintains Socials Security records on the Smallpox Eradication Program. He has healing properties, apparently one shared by all shapeshifters. (canon). Jeremiah came to Earth from Mars at about 18 Earth years of age - just on maturity. He was sent to aid in using humans to help gestate the young of his dying species, but after escaping one of his own in an attempted hit, he decided to actively undermine the Colonist cause (story).
TUNGUSKA: Mulder infected with the oil and vaccinated against it (canon). The Russians, and probably the Americans, are working with old, mature oil from within the earth in their work on a vaccine, unlike the immature oil provided by the Colonists. The oil is gradually evolving. It has understanding of its fate and has plans of its own (story).
PATIENT X: Marita infected with the black oil but does not show signs of possession (canon). She is left with a low concentration of the species, not detectable by Colonists, Purists or Greys. She is also not susceptible to mind control directed at those species. The difference between her concentration and Alex's may come down to age of the oil, or to Marita receiving the vaccine. Because CSM and WMM hid Marita (from Alex), the Colonists never discovered that Marita is an immune. (story).
FIGHT THE FUTURE: Scully infected with the oil, but shows no sign of possession. She is vaccinated and recovers. The oil, left unchecked, gestates into a new lifeform in the host (canon). That lifeform is a Grey - ie, the oil is the larval form of the Grey. The Colonists want to cultivate Greys as breeding stock to gestate their young (story).
ONE SON: Human conspirators killed (canon). Their employees come under a mix of Colonist, Purist, and Grey control as these groups regroup (story).
REQUIEM: Alex and Marita reunited. Mulder abducted. Scully pregnant. (canon). Scully's baby is fathered, one way or another, by an immune, probably Mulder; because immune mothers can only carry immune babies to term, and immunity is conferred by the father. Similarly, non-immune mothers die when pregnant with immune babies. Hence, immunes can only have babies with other immunes, and vice versa. (story)
INTERIM: Alex and Marita reconcile, and Marita becomes pregnant. At some point they decide to marry and she takes his name. Alex conceals much of what he knows, including the fact of Scully's pregnancy. He does tell her of the abductee returns, though, and they work with Absolom's group (which includes Jeremiah Smith) from a distance, leaking information to them about abductee recoveries. (story)
PER MANUM: Scully's pregnancy monitored by Dr Parenti, and he convinces her that her baby is normal. However, he is also conducting programs in which greys are born to women and then taken away. Knowle Rohrer is somehow involved (canon). Parenti works for the Colonists in the ongoing work to make Grey breeding stock. Knowle is a replicant already, rescuing Grey babies from the Colonists and returning them to the Greys (story).
THIS IS NOT HAPPENING: A UFO arrives to remove Jeremiah Smith, the alien healer seen in Herrenvolk, before he can heal Mulder, who dies and is buried (canon). The UFO is manned by shapeshifters and humans controlled by the oil, who want Mulder to go on to become a replicant. However, Krycek and Marita arrive, Krycek to try to retrieve Mulder, Marita to try to save Jeremiah. She is able to do so because of her pregnancy. Jeremiah works out that she carries an immune baby and is therefore immune herself, and he senses Alex's immunity. He agrees to go along with them and heal other recovered abductees (story).
DEADALIVE: Alex threatens Skinner and asks him to kill Scully's baby. Mulder recovers (canon). Alex brings Jeremiah to heal Mulder but plays asshole when he's discovered. He also genuinely wants Skinner to kill Scully's baby because he now understands that it is of great interest to all parties, and that its presence might shed light on and therefore endanger the child he is expecting with Marita. He is most concerned about the Purists and Greys at this point, not the Colonists (story).
At this point, pretty much everyone in all factions knows about Scully's baby and its importance. Only Jeremiah knows about Marita and Alex's baby. Before moving on to Essence/Existence, let's look at the factions involved at this point and why they're so interested.
COLONISTS (shapeshifters): Want their race to survive by gestating them in Greys and/or humans, and will resort to hybridisation rather than extinction if necessary. In the current context, they want to know if an immune mother can bear an immune baby safely, because so they feel an immune mother might also gestate one of their own species safely (since the Greys and their own species are related). Colonists do not necessarily want to hurt Scully or her baby, and do not want to take the baby; they only want to know if it can be done. Colonists and their sympathisers include people like Samantha and Kurt, and as such would prefer to protect Scully. They have made their own near-invincible replicants and pioneered a process that makes them as copies (rather than killing the original in the process). Monica Reyes is a secret sympathiser in their goal of protecting women and abductees, though she seeks to undermine the work on using women as breeding stock. As with all groups involved, the Colonists do not know Marita is an immune or that she carries an immune baby, but would work it out if they ever knew Krycek was the father.
PURISTS (shapeshifters): Disagree with hybridisation as a dilution of the species. Would rather face extinction, but would consent to their race being gestated by (but not diluted with) the related Greys. The Purists want to kill Scully's baby, and preferably Scully too, from ideology; but they want it born first so they can use its body in tests on a weapon against the Greys, who they now recognise as a threat. Purists come into replicants pretty late in the game, probably stealing the technology from the Colonists, but their people include the Game Warden, a Mulder replicant, and a Skinner replicant.
GREYS (oil): As the Greys have developed from mature oil, they have come to understand and ultimately disagree with their destiny as breeding stock. Furthermore, they have found that rather than using humans to mature into Greys, they can continue to reside in humans for greater strength, evolution, self-actualisation etc than that available to them as Greys. They want to take over all humans and keep Earth for themselves, and will fight the shapeshifters for it if necessary. The oil adheres to the cowpox protein in the smallpox vaccination scar, and uses its own mineral deposits, iron oxides, etc to form a metal skeleton. The only way of killing a Grey replicant is by separating the oil from the protein to which it adheres - effectively the life source. Greys want to kill Scully's baby, and Scully, immediately because their oil immunity makes them a biothreat to their race. Their replicants, all effectively dead as shown in DeadAlive, include Billy Miles, Knowle Roher, and Agent Crane.
ESSENCE: Pretty much as it appears onscreen. Krycek, now that all factions know about Scully's baby, no longer wants it dead. He is reluctant to kill it anyway, given Marita's pregnancy, and he understands that the conflict will continue to rage now whether Scully's baby lives or dies. He feels the best course now is for Scully to have the baby so they can see what they're up against, and protect it from the factions as best he can. Skinner is still Skinner, Mulder is still Mulder, Monica is still working for the Colonists but her goal is to protect Scully.
EXISTENCE: Between night of Essence and morning of Existence, Skinner is seized by the Purists and replaced with Purist replicants. Jeremiah and Marita see this and follow.
Jeremiah and Marita find Skinner. They page Alex with his communications device (like a pager) in vibrating morse code, and let him know something's wrong. He gets the message while sitting in Skinner's office. He rises, throws the device in the bin so it can't be used to link them to him, and walks out to get away from NotSkinner. NotSkinner follows. Krycek tries to elude him but fails, but NotSkinner is hurt by Billy (who does not yet know that NotSkinner is a Purist replicant). Krycek escapes. He phones Marita and lets her know he's safe and what happened, but not where he is (wanting to keep her and the baby clear of it all). He gets the Colonists' information on the Grey's replicants from her. He then contacts Knowle Rohrer. He claims to be a Grey sympathiser because he is part Grey now, too. He hopes to use them as backup to kill NotSkinner. (In the story, these allegiances wound up being changed a little, but it still hangs together).
Meanwhile, somewhere between Skinner's hospital in the day and Doggett's car in the night, Mulder is nabbed by the Purists and replaced by the replicant. Jeremiah, Marita and Skinner free the original Mulder from the Purist facility. They return to the Hoover building to look for Alex/Rohrer/Skinner/Doggett. Note, because they can't contact Alex, Alex knows NotSkinner is a replicant, but he doesn't know about Mulder.
Alex meets Rohrer and tells him that the Purists have sent replicants to thwart them, and that NotSkinner is one of them. Rohrer takes off to tell Crane and Kersch the news. (Kersch, BTW, is not a replicant, but he is an oil sympathiser. His reasons are unknown and don't really matter for our purposes, but the rationale is that his fear at the end of the episode seemed a little too human for him to be a replicant).
Meanwhile, NotMulder has gotten Scully's approx location from Doggett and is about to take off, while NotSkinner tries to get more details out of Doggett. Krycek hears this (phone tap on Mulder's cell maybe, or a bug in his car), and reluctantly decides to kill both Mulder and Doggett so NotSkinner, Rohrer, etc can't use them to locate Scully. Remember, he doesn't know Mulder isn't Mulder. That accounts for his speech to Mulder. NotMulder wants him to hurry up and get it over with so he can regenerate and keep moving, thus accounting for his behaviour.
NotSkinner arrives and aims at Krycek. Krycek says it will take more bullets that he could fire to win, meaning NotSkinner can't kill the greys and their replicants. He offers NotSkinner a thousand lives - that is, the location of a thousand greys - in exchange for killing Mulder. He prods his own weapon towards NotSkinner to suggest that NotSkinner should frame Alex for Mulder's death, thereby safeguarding NotSkinner's position of power in the FBI in the long term. He does this so that Mulder can't lead NotSkinner to Scully, still unaware that Mulder isn't Mulder. NotSkinner kills Alex, choosing ideology (getting Scully's baby) over self-protection (the location of the enemy Greys).
NotSkinner walks off to get an exact location from Doggett. NotMulder takes off in 'his' car. Skinner, Mulder, Jeremiah, and Marita run into NotSkinner. Skinner and Mulder fire uselessly, but then Marita has an idea. She shoves her gun into his arm at the smallpox vaccination scar point - the lifesource. He tells them that NotMulder took off to whatsit spring and that Krycek is dead. Marita shoots NotSkinner, who dies in the stairwell.
They go out to the carpark, where Jeremiah heals Krycek. He tells Krycek and Marita to walk away, and that he'll handle the rest. They do, thus departing the story. Skinner goes upstairs and helps Doggett get away from Rohrer and Crane, while Mulder takes off to whatsit spring, intercepting NotMulder along the way. Skinner and Doggett get away from Rohrer and Crane and give Mulder Scully's location. Meanwhile, Jeremiah contacts the Colonists and gets them to send reinforcements to protect Scully and the baby. It turns out they have a human sympathiser with her already - Agent Reyes - for exactly that purpose, and that more are on the way.
At the cabin, Reyes protects Scully from Billy and the Greys, who don't want the baby born at all, and the Game Warden and the Purists, who want it born so they can take it. After Scully's baby is born, but before Mulder arrives, the Colonist replicants use force on the ground to herd the other faction replicants together, then remove them on their craft (the craft Monica was watching during the episode). Monica removes the placenta and umbilical cord and gives them to her Colonist conspirators so they can use it to further develop a weapon against the Greys. The Colonists now recognise Greys as a major threat to both themselves and humans, and they believe they no longer need them because they believe they can now use immune human women to gestate their young.
Jeremiah assists the Colonists in defeating the Grays. The final bioweapon against the Greys is spread with herbicides and in other ways over several years, until the Grays are no more, and the species is obliterated on their own planet as well in the same way. Jeremiah continues to undermine the Colonist work on gestating in human women, however, and ultimately breaks away and assists in an all-new human resistance involving Monica, Doggett, and others. Eventually, the Colonists are defeated in a war with the Purists, and the remainder of the species return to Mars to live or die. Jeremiah remains an exile on Earth for his activities against both Purists and Colonists.
Around twenty years after his time with Alex and Marita, Jeremiah, by now an old, old man, receives a farewell letter from Marita. He reads it after her death, and she reveals that she and Alex raised four children and that Alex died a couple of years ago. The implication is that their exposure to Purity may have played a part in their deaths, but that they have lived happily. Jeremiah decides that everything he has done has been worthwhile, and presumably dies peacefully soon after.