peripetia  n. a turning point, reversal of fortune.


The wooden door was a blank indifferent barrier. He wished his mind were the same.

Turning points.

The first had been no blinding moment of clarity, no hallowed unveiling of The Truth. Just the build-up of occasional pricks from the burr of suspicion, and the queasy seasickness of something not quite right. Easy to ignore. Up until the point there was a constantly nagging little murmur in his head sounding remarkably like his Great Aunt Nina - not a very comforting thought in itself, channeling crazy dead relatives as your conscience. Added to a heaviness in his throat and chest that felt like dread and wasn't going away, no matter how much cough syrup or vodka he drank. Then the little voice wasn't so little anymore and it was screaming at him he'd fucked up, he'd made the wrong choices and he wasn't escaping with just a tanned behind or a reprimand this time.

Then everything really did go to shit.

He'd been running around like a rat in a trap, doing what he thought was wrong because it was supposed to be right, he'd been told it was right. He’d been a fool. They’d got what they wanted, and he'd gotten duped.

Mountains. Cable cars. Cigarette butts.

Now no longer the green-eyed boy, just another hired thug. Clinging to some of his still-floating ideals and illusions amongst the flotsam of his shipwrecked life. Trying to prove he was worth something, something other than a quick gun hand and a pretty face. Trying to salvage anything out of this mess - some recognition, or honour, or control. Failing miserably.

That was the first turning point. Resentment.


Resentment less for fact they were morally as sound as the Titanic, than that they’d screwed him over. That he was the supplicant, expected to be grateful they'd taken him in, when they were the ones who'd fucked up his career and his life and his lover so bad he couldn't go back.

Resentment smouldered like a hot little coal. He followed their orders, carried out their bidding, did his best to fit into this new organisation and work his way up the hierarchy. But he wasn't blind enough to be a foot soldier, and wasn't informed enough to be a conspirator.

Then the little blinking red figures on a car dashboard led to that blinding moment of clarity; the understanding his machinations were all for nothing. He wasn't indispensable, wasn't even desired. The Consortium had no use for him - not his intelligence, his skills, or any of his other assets. They wanted him dead.

That was the second turning point. Self-preservation.


But no matter how far and hard and fast he ran his present couldn't outrun his past. An angry fist in his gut, an alien oilslick in his head.

Third turning point. Defiance.


Kneeling on the floor of a pitch-black missile silo in the middle of godforsaken South Dakota coughing his guts up to the realisation there were worse things in this life than death or loneliness or pain; things he hadn’t believed or wanted to believe in.

Waking to the determination this would never happen to him again, and no matter how bad his choices or limited his expectations were, he was damned if his world, his species were going to submit to this future, this abomination.

From the flood debris a solid rock rose. One he would cling to for purpose and strength when the waters of loss and suffering swelled, and drowning became a sweet temptation. One he would shield behind when he conserved the people he hated and expended the people he loved.

It didn’t really have a name, not patriotism or ruthlessness or xenophobia or pride, being a mixture of those traits. If he had had to identify it, he would have called it hatred, though that was a one-dimensional interpretation. All he knew was it sustained him.

Through amputation, deaths, resurrections, births, vaccines, miracles, enquiries, cover-ups and clean-ups.

So now here he was, standing at the portal of his fourth turning point. Undecided.

Four turning points. Four corners to a square. Did that now mean he was facing in the same direction he'd started in, all those years ago? If so, he couldn't draw any parallels, couldn't recognise in himself that young, blind, arrogant boy anymore. The one so convinced he was going to be somebody, be a power to be reckoned with, make things happen, do things in the world. Well, he'd certainly achieved the latter, though not quite how he'd expected. For the rest of it? Gone and vanished, his ideals and ambitions childish and immature in retrospect.

He was adrift now. With no more objectives, he found himself confused. His ambitions were uncertain, in flux. He'd walked to the end of his world, and there was nothing but a fog bank ahead of him.

They had won, prevented the future he so feared. Amazingly he had survived, even earned acclaim as a partisan for the human race, though stained with a dark reputation, thanked with hesitant words for dubious methods. He wasn't a hero. He knew that. In the end, his motivations had always revolved around himself - resentment and survival and stone-cold hatred. But let the authorities and establishment think his methods were pure, their gratitude meant they had no interest in looking closely at his past or his future.

That little Great-Aunt-Nina voice in his head counseled him to go curl up somewhere and hide, scream, cry and have that long overdue nervous breakdown he'd been heading towards for the last eight years. That didn't sound too crazy to him. It blocked out the other little voice that said the taste of steel in his mouth and the squeeze of a trigger would bring him silence and peace and the only friendly darkness he would ever know. And he was tired, tired, tired, but damned if he'd succumb to that option. He'd never been a quitter, and it would make the few who were left of his enemies too happy.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That's all it was, and god alone knew he'd had enough trauma and stress in his life. But damn it, he'd dealt fine with this shit for years and he would continue to do so. No matter what Mulder with his half-forgiving, half-sneering tones advised. So he was fucked in the head - who wouldn't be? And Mulder wasn't exactly one to talk, no matter how much of a Scully 'n kids, station wagon, white-picket-fencer he was nowadays.

He'd been on his way to the airport, booked on a flight to Seattle, then San Diego, then some private flights that would end in a quiet little town on the Florida coast where he hoped to achieve some measure of privacy and forgetfulness.  

But somehow it had seemed necessary to take the long way 'round. A detour that just happened to go past Walter Skinner's door. Funny that. 

Poor impulse control had always been his downfall.

OK, Skinner wasn’t exactly going to gun him down in his lounge, though probably more from a regard for his neighbours and the difficulties of getting bloodstains out of carpets than any amelioration of his low opinion of Alex. And that was assuming he even got past the doorstep.

He realised he'd been staring at the door for at least quarter of an hour. Remarkable none of the neighbours had called the cops yet.

He should go. The plane was waiting. He couldn't really stand here thinking for the rest of the morning. Thinking about everything but the reason, the person who was the reason, he was here. Damn, but this kind of thing was best done in the early hours of the morning, with an ice-cold bottle of vodka to hand.

Fuck it. What the hell.

He pushed the doorbell.


sequel: axis  

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