Category: Vignette? Maybe it's more a rumination...
Spoilers: Perhaps the Pilot, info from the first season.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money changing hands.
Summary: Just my take on what it might have been like for the Mulder family just after Samantha was taken, up through when we first meet him. I think I have perhaps a more sympathetic view of the elder Mulders than many others, so that has shaped my idea. Since we have no real canon on exactly what happened in those early days, I've written what I imagine it could have been like.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to the few people who have either given this a once over in the past, before I had the nerve to post it, or who have given me bits of feedback and advice. You know who you are. ;0)
In the days immediately following Samantha Mulder's disappearance, young Fox Mulder, the only witness to the mysterious event, had been hospitalized in a state of shock. His mother had been sedated as well, leaving his father to carry the burden of dealing with the police and looking after his wife and son, while trying to find time to deal with his own loss.
When Fox came home, it was to a family in disarray, a home of confusion and grief.
Teena Mulder was eventually able to get out of bed and try to resume a regular daily routine, only to find her husband and son unable to eat and unwilling to talk. The three of them went through the motions of sitting down to the meals she prepared only to let the food grow cold as they picked at it in silence. All but robbed of her role as wife and mother, her daughter gone, her son and husband withdrawn, she struggled to find things to do that reminded her of who she was. She would go into her daughter's room to make and remake the empty bed, rearrange the unused toys on the shelves, vacuum the spotless carpet.
Bill Mulder sat in his study every day, trying to concentrate on paperwork he had brought home from his office. He carried his own dark secrets and wept for his daughter when he knew Teena and Fox could not hear him. If they were ever to know the truths that he knew they would hate him with all of their being. At some point he would pour himself a drink to assuage his broken heart, and then he would pour himself another.
Fox lived those days in mind-numbing fear, confusion, and guilt. He couldn't meet his father's eyes, sure that he would see blame and accusation there. How many times had he been told that he had to watch out for his little sister, since he was the oldest? That very night they had told him to take good care of her--and he had somehow failed. Surely it was his fault she was gone. Had he tried to help her? He couldn't remember, and part of him was afraid to try--afraid to know the truth about what he could have done, or should have done, or didn't do, to save her. His mother was tender with him, but his heart broke every time she looked at him. Samantha was her baby and he ached at the thought of the pain he had caused his mother. How could she possibly love him?
As difficult as the days were, the nights were worse.
The first night after Fox came home from the hospital, he wouldn't go to his room alone, so, though he was really much too old, he was allowed to come to his parent's bed. He slept fitfully between them as the first of many nightmares to come plagued him. He awakened screaming his sister's name, wetting himself and his parent's bed. The broken family got up in the middle of the night, Bill stripping the bed while Teena helped her frightened son change his pajamas. Bill ended up sleeping downstairs on the sofa while Teena climbed into Fox's bed with him. No one dared sleep in Samantha's bed.
Over the next few nights Fox would start out in his own bed, only to awaken screaming, sometimes wet, sometimes vomiting, always terrified and disoriented. He would end up huddled against his mother in her bed as though he was two rather than twelve. At first Bill would take his wife and son into his arms, the three of them clinging together to stave off the demons of their own emotions, but he would soon rise and go downstairs to drink and weep the remainder of the night away.
Soon Fox began to try to sleep the whole night alone, but it was a process of steps accomplished over several days. He would not go directly to his parents' room following the inevitable nightmare, a nightmare he could never remember, but he would find himself standing in the hall outside their door, a pillow clutched against his mouth so they wouldn't hear him crying. He wanted to go to them for comfort, but he was afraid they resented his babyish behavior. Sometimes his mother came and brought him to bed, sometimes he curled up on the floor outside their door, sometimes his father carried him to his mother's bed as he made his nightly journey to the study.
Eventually Fox learned that if he stayed in the family room and watched TV he could allay the nightmares. His parents objected at first, but when they found the bed-wetting had stopped and most of the screaming had subsided, they left him to his electronic pacifier.
Fox stopped going to his parents' room.
Bill hardly ever spent the entire night by his wife's side, but after a time he no longer wept in his study. He went back to work and forced his broken heart into submission. But closing off his grief forced him to close off other parts of his heart as well. He couldn't bring himself to kiss the wife he had betrayed. He feared her suspicions and feared she would read the truth in his eyes. He could hardly bear to look at his beloved son. He had come so close to losing him, but hated himself for the choice he had been forced to make. He could never tell him what he had done, the great gamble he had taken for a prize he was not sure would ever materialize. Surely the price had been too high. He had done a terrible thing, but he could never explain why he had done it, and he had had no way of predicting the effect it would have on his family.
Teena found that some nights she could sleep only with the aid of medication. She had the choice to either doze fitfully on her own, or take a pill and sink into a deep and blessedly dreamless sleep. She wondered what her husband knew about what had happened to their daughter. She was afraid to think too much about it--afraid of the conclusions she would come to when she put together all the small pieces from the past few years. She found it hard to lie next to a man whom she could no longer trust. She had always loved and respected him, until his work had begun to darken his brow and chill his heart. Now her husband had begun to keep his distance from her and from their son, and she began to resent his cold reticence, more for Fox's sake than her own.
Fox became watchful, wary of his parents' moods--his father's gruff, impatient silence and his mother's quiet pain--sure that he was to blame. Surely if he had been stronger or braver or faster or smarter or more obedient or more something, surely his sister would not have been taken and his parents would still be speaking to each other, smiling, laughing, kissing.
He returned to school following the Christmas holidays, which had passed all but unnoticed in the Mulder household. At school he could almost forget what had happened to his family, losing himself in study and athletics. His friends were afraid to say anything about his sister and he was relieved. Fox was able to maintain his excellent grades and seemed to be coping well. His doctor had insisted that Fox see a therapist and his parents agreed, though they themselves rarely participated in his therapy. Sometimes he was honest with the therapist, but not always. Anyway, he couldn't remember what had happened.
At home, the silence grew until it overwhelmed the marriage. When it was clear that Samantha was not going to be found by the police or the FBI, when it was decided that perhaps Fox was strong enough to cope, Bill and Teena spoke of divorce.
Fox had learned by this time that there was no longer any safe place in the world, that his home was not a refuge. When they sat him down in the family room one evening after dinner, their serious expressions told him all he needed to know. He had felt it coming and knew it was his fault. He listened to them and responded in the way he felt they expected of him and then went to his room. When he was sure they were both asleep, he buried his face in his pillow and wept, forcing himself to keep silent. He wanted so badly for everything to be the way it had been before. He wanted someone to turn the clock back and make everything better. He wanted his parents to tell him that it wasn't his fault. He wanted his sister to come back.
In the end, none of these things happened. His innocence could not be restored. No one could undo what had been done. His parents had never blamed him and they could not imagine that he blamed himself, and so they did not offer the absolution he sought. And Samantha would never return.
Bill Mulder bought a house in West Tisbury. Still on Martha's Vineyard, but not in the town where his daughter had been taken. He continued in his work for a time, then got out when he could. He had long ago ceased to trust anyone, least of all the men he worked with.
Teena Mulder raised her son in the house in Chilmark, unwilling to leave the only home her missing daughter had ever known. But when her son was grown, she bought a house in Connecticut. She brought along her daughter's things, though she knew in her heart Samantha was gone. She doted on her son when he would let her, managed to be civil to her ex-husband when she had to be, and built a quiet life for herself.
Fox Mulder grew up, dazzling his parents and schoolmates with his brilliant mind and athletic prowess. He excelled at Oxford, graduating at the top of his class with a degree in Psychology, and then went on tho the FBI Academy at Quantico, where he again graduated at the top of his class.
He put his considerable mind to work at the FBI, earning a reputation as a promising young agent and a brilliant criminal profiler. Yet, with all his accomplishments, he was still haunted by the events of his youth. He still had nightmares and still slept most nights with the television on, like the scared twelve-year-old he had once been.
In his work at the FBI he came across the so-called X-Files, cases involving apparently paranormal circumstances or evidence, cases that lay unsolved and ignored in a dusty basement office. Through his interest and work on these cases he was led to Dr. Heitz Werber, a psychologist who used hypnotic regression therapy to help his patients recover suppressed memories.
As a result of his own sessions with Dr. Werber, Fox Mulder came to believe that on that night in November of 1973 his sister Samantha had been taken by aliens.
He opened an X-File for her case and hoped that by pursuing the truth behind these paranormal cases, especially those involving UFO sightings and alien abductions, he might come to know the truth behind Samantha's disappearance and thereby learn what had become of her. If he could find her perhaps he could eventually bring her home.
His desire to solve the mystery of her disappearance combined with his inherent single-minded obsessive nature made him seemingly immune to all other considerations. He didn't care what his colleagues and superiors thought of him, that they called him "Spooky" and thought he was wasting his considerable talents in a fruitless pursuit of unsolvable nonsense. He didn't care to work very hard at developing personal relationships, though there were those to whom he turned for a time. He set aside thoughts of marriage and children until he could resolve the events of his own childhood--and absolve himself in his own eyes.
Bill Mulder followed his son's career with both pride and concern. Though he was no longer a Federal employee himself, he still had connections and he used them. He and Fox had grown apart, though this son still called him on his birthday and Father's Day and occasionally made his way to West Tisbury for a visit. He knew Fox was working on the X-Files and both hoped and feared that the boy would eventually come across the truth. He knew that the day would come when his son would curse him for his actions and inaction, would blame him, come to hate him. Bill wanted the burden of the truth to be lifted from his heart, but he wasn't man enough to do it himself. He could not bring himself to tell his son what kind of man he was. He could not bear the loss of respect, the hatred that would come. Most of all, though, he feared the men who guarded those truths. The men with whom he had worked had and would kill to keep their secrets. The fact that Fox was Bill Mulder's son would not guarantee his safety. Even now forces were at work within the Bureau, and in other, darker circles, to thwart his son's efforts.
Teena Mulder lived her quiet life in Connecticut, trying to put the painful past behind her. She kept in touch with her son, though he lived far enough away that she didn't get to see him regularly. She was so proud of the man he had become, even though he could be so like his father--idealistic and obsessive, a workaholic who had a tendency to neglect himself. When he did come up to see her, she tried to encourage him to eat better and get more rest. He would smile indulgently at her and assure her that he would, but she knew better than to really believe him. He would wear himself again as soon as he left, lose himself in another case.
One day Agent Dana Scully walked into Fox Mulder's basement office and changed his life.