Mulder sat on a box labeled kitchen and lit his last cigarette.

It should have depressed him. That these dozen boxes held his life. Weary cardboard with thirty indifferent years inside.

The phone rang, but he ignored it, focusing instead on the way the orange eye of his cigarette scored the darkness like a flare.

Too many years. Too many boxes.

He now had an ex-wife. His mother had started in on him to quit smoking. His father wouldn't even talk to him. He was being assigned a new partner. Empires had fallen with more speed. His was taking its sweet time in crumbling into the sea.

A column of ash fell to the floor. He tapped the rest off into the mouth of the empty beer bottle by his feet.

The boys had brought him a six pack as a housewarming gift. It was strangely thoughtful of them, but Mulder had a feeling this shoebox of an apartment could only be warmed by a few gallons of gasoline and a match.

He didn't even have a bed -- just the leather couch from his study -- but he'd slept on it before. It would do for a few days. This was just temporary.

He dropped the butt of his cigarette down into the beer bottle. The phone rang again. He wanted another cigarette. But it was just temporary.

It was all just temporary.