The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part VI -- Cats Eyes
by Henry Wyckoff
December 1995


Chapter 29

While Coleen was dancing the Lambada -- or more accurately, as Odin was *forcing* her to dance the Lambada, her mind went back a while, to when she had been travelling around after Axer sent her away... when she had killed for the first time as an immortal.

She remembered the time when she had entered Vermont, and had nearly been killed by Guenther, a mountain man who had wanted to take her head on sight. She'd narrowly escaped and had reached an odd sort of holy ground. It was a lodge that had served as a coffee house and intellectual retreat for the world-weary... and a very special kind at that.

It was where she'd met Schroedinger... who, as he said, bore "no relation" to the famous physicist. He was an Icelander who "kept the world moving."

The mere memory of him sent chills down her spine, but not the kind most would expect. He was so... magic. And it was his magic that had sent waves of hope in the deepest part of her being. His magic was philosophical... the way you look at something, or what you call it...

"...Words," he'd once said, "aren't just sound. They're an integral part of existence." He drew a triangle on a piece of paper. "Word, thought, and deed. All aspects of the same object. True reality is bound up in all three. You can *change* reality by binding the three into one, and yet knowing where they are separate. If I gathered it correctly, this had something direct with 'Mikkyo'..."

...And it gave Coleen the grasp she needed to understand this situation. This was a dream that seemed so real, and so in order to survive the dream, she had to make her own reality.

And she knew what to do.

"So," Coleen snarled, "you like *dancing*, eh? Then try this!" She took a deep breath and screamed, "Time for some hard stuff!"

She didn't know *how* she did it -- she just did. It was like waking up in a dream, knowing it's a dream, and then starting to fly. It was a liberating feeling. It wasn't just having a choice, but having the ability to use it.

* * *

Scully looked at Samantha. For some reason, the image of a deer was superimposing itself on the Invisible One. Scully understood the image. //What if all the deer rebelled against all the other animals that killed them, for the sake of 'preserving "deerdom" and making the world a safer place?'// It's one thing to be a deer and be hunted and killed, but it's another to view the big picture.

Scully saw the big picture. "Go, and make sure that Mulder never sees you. I don't want to see you either."

That surprised Samantha, but she knew a good thing when she saw it.

"And watch out for the guy who killed you before. He won't be so merciful."

Halscombe sat in shocked silence for a few minutes after Samantha left, while Scully considered her options. "Why did you do that?" he finally asked.

Scully looked at him with genuine pity. "Because I remembered something that I forgot for a *long* time. When you showed mercy, it was because you had something to gain - - I showed mercy because we *all* had something to gain, and it has nothing with your petty games."

While Halscombe stared at her with a dropped jaw, Scully went about trying to find some clothes for him to wear. They were in a wooden chest. She threw them at him. "Get dressed. I'm getting you out of here. How does Arizona sound?"

Halscombe wasn't adjusting very well. "But -- I thought --"

Scully held up her hand. "I know. You're thinking that my first impulse would be to take your head, and you're right. But I'm going to show you how much of a better human being I am: I'm showing you mercy. What good will it do if I hate you at every turn? I'm going to take a leap of faith and hope that just *maybe*, if I give you a chance, you might give yourself one."

She stared him in the eye. "Think about it. You can't work at your old job, and if either one of us survive in the world to come, the Invisible Ones won't be treating you kindly. Our mutual friend would probably kill you on first sight as well, if Mulder doesn't. You have no *choice* but to take a step back and make some different decisions."

Scully paused, and looked away. "I also remember... the time *before* I was assigned to Mulder." She looked back at him. "I remember how you hypnotized me, and you didn't want to do it."

[Note to reader: this is an allusion to "Cancerman + Scully?"]

Halscombe was sputtering, "W- w- what??"

"I think you're a monster for what you've done and what you do!" her voice softened, "but I remember another side that I saw... a human side. I remember that you loved me, and that you really didn't want to hypnotize me. I remember how you talked in your sleep that night, and you were fighting something. I know that you're in there, and I'm giving you the chance that you'll break out."

They snuck out of the house without any difficulty, and made their way through the riot-torn streets to where a scared taxi-man was sitting in his cab, hidden in an alley. He had hidden it well, and it was only by chance that Scully spotted it.

"Salaam," said the Arab, so scared that he forgot to speak English. But Scully's face reassured him.

"We need to get out of here," Scully said softly, "will you take us?"

"Yes," he nodded quickly. "Kasim will take you wherever you wish to go, away from this madness!"

As they rode through the torn streets, Halscombe asked, "What do you remember?"

Scully was slow and deliberate, "You sought me out at the hospital where I worked, and you assessed me. You got me drunk, and then you hypnotized me the next morning when you figured that I might be a threat." There was a slight pause. "But I also remember you crying in your sleep. You were crying, 'Please... I don't want to do this!' I didn't know what that meant, but I think I do now."

Halscombe looked outside, growing sadness on his face, "How did you come to remember?"

"The Invisible Ones' black box. When I was affected by it, it gradually gave me my memories back. I thought they were just dreams, but up in the house, it all made sense. I knew than that it couldn't be a dream. It made too much sense. I remembered that somehow I dreamed -- the night before you hypnotized me -- about the time where we rescued Mulder, and Axer. That was a prophetic dream. When I remembered Schroedinger's Cat, it all hit me at once..." She sighed, "I don't have a grand explanation for it all... just a feeling. All I know is that it somehow fits together."

Halscombe's voice was dead as he asked, "Who is this person you're sending me to?"

"He's pretty strange, but he'll be a good influence. He's a mortal, but he'll be able to teach you how to survive as an immortal and human being. Here and here." She pointed to her head and heart. "But here's my price. He'll teach you how to live, but you have to make him stop his drinking. He has too much potential. Agreed?" Her expression was serious and intent, but he could tell that she was trying to keep from crying.

"Does he mean that much to you?"

She shook her head. "It's just that he's so young to be so cynical. I don't know how old he is, but he can't be older than 30... and he's already an old, alcoholic cynic. He'll save you, but I want you to save him."

Halscombe shook his head. A whole mortal life spent as his had been, and he'd nearly destroyed her life... and here she was showing him compassion that most folks didn't give one another. It didn't make him feel all too good inside.

"Agreed?"

"For now."

"That's all I need."

When it came down to it, Scully didn't trust him. But she had hope. Hope that by banishing her own hate, forgiving him -- as she did the Invisible Ones -- and giving them both a chance... that there might be a chance that they'll make different choices.

And if they didn't change?

She'd exercise her own choices... and she knew she had hers as well.

* * *

The beer was good. Sort of like Corona, but with a more dignified taste to it. Mulder and Skinner both exhaled their exhaustion and tension, while Stein leaned back in his own chairs, a crooked smile on his face.

"Do you have your answers?"

Skinner nodded, taking another sip of beer. "Mostly. I think I've sorted out my own problems... but I have a hard time believing that this is 'just' a hammer."

Stein nodded. "You're right. It's not 'just' a hammer. It's art. Art touches the soul, just like a painting or a song, and it brings things out. This just brings out a little more. The fact that your faced yourself and came out yourself says something about your character." He shook his hand, "I don't say lightly that you're the only human that I actually feel honored to meet. I respect self-discipline and self-honesty."

Skinner leaned back, and it all made sense. Self-honesty was what he had discovered from the very beginning. When he'd first picked up the hammer, he hadn't become 'Thor', but rather faced his innate Thor-like impulses, and analyzed each one. And in the end, he'd had the strength to intelligently pick and choose. He had used the hammer as it was intended to be used, and not the other way around.

Stein must have known Skinner's thoughts, because he nodded. "Many generations from now, children will be told the tales of Assistant Director Walter Skinner, just as children now learn the tales of Thor. You have become a true hero, and have truly earned the hammer."

"I don't need this anymore," protested Skinner.

"Which is why you should carry it!" insisted Stein.

Skinner nodded after a moment of thought, and smiled.

At this moment, some giggling dwarven women brought in two white shirts for Skinner and Mulder -- they had both washed off the blood on their chests in the meantime. As they put them on, Mulder could swear that he could hear them sighing, giggling, and making sounds of disappointment. Stein hid a smile behind his hand, making it appear as if he was just leaning his head on his hand.

Mulder, while Skinner and Stein had been having a man-to-man talk this whole time, felt more and more disappointed. It all seemed so *mundane*! And none of his theories were really supported -- and there were explanations and answers rising for questions that he'd never asked!

It made him quite snippy and irritable.

When it came time for Skinner to excuse himself -- and he silently expected Mulder to leave with him, Mulder was all too happy to leave, but Stein stopped him both.

"Mulder," he said. "We have something for you." He brought out a book. "Perhaps you might find this interesting, but don't read it until you leave Toronto."

That infuriated Mulder as much as he was thrilled to receive a gift, but he nodded, "Thank you. I think."

Stein laughed.

* * *

Kwai Chang Caine landed the plane quite a ways from the Landing. Bill didn't even have to suggest it, which made him wonder how much the old man was reading his mind.

"We have arrived just in time. Pay attention, for you must remember this." Caine was looking into the distance, gazing on something that Bill couldn't see.

"Do you see them?"

"Only what I must see. This is where we part ways. You must go north, where you will see Methos and Richie. Observe. Don't Watch. There is a big difference, as Sherlock Holmes could have told you."

"And what will you do?"

"Observe."

Bill shrugged, glad to get away from this old maniac, but also concerned that he should be watching him, to keep him out of trouble...

* * * *


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