Chapter Six

Georgetown Memorial Hospital

"God, make her shut up. Make her shut up. She lies, the bitch lies. God, why won't she leave me alone?" I sit in the corner, my knees clutched to my chest, and rock back and forth. Rock and rock. *gonna rock around the clock tonight.*

Throat hurts from screaming. Want more water. She won't let them bring me more water. Why are they listening to her? Don't they know about her?

isn't/she/here/if/she/cares/so/much/don't/trust/her/where/is/she/has/she/gone/to/them/i've/always/been/the/one/you/could/trust/calm/down/if/you/calm/down/they'll/let/me/in/to/see/you/if/you/calm/down/she's/gone/i/don't/think/she's/coming/back/just/as/well/she/never/ believed/you/not/like/i/do>


Throat feels like it's bleeding, raw and hot. Please make her stop. Tired, so fucking tired. So much hurts. My head. So tired, so fucking tired. More coming. Can't scream. Makes more come.



Don't scream it. Go away if I'm quiet. It's like they're inside me, in my head. Hurts, hurts. Like they're trying to push out. Hurts. Where's my doctor? Call my doctor. Call Dr...

"Scully." Can barely hear myself say the word. More tears fall down my face, burning like acid. I need Scully. She's been gone for so long for weeks for months. Did I ever really know her? Is she coming to save me or did I make her up? Maybe I made her up. Who could be as wonderful as she is? Maybe I made her up.

No. She's real. The only real thing. The only sure thing. She's real and she's coming to save me. She can stop this. She saved the world. She's real.


Close my eyes. Just for a second. Breathe. Slow. Breathe. Think of Scully. Remember her, remember us. I can feel her in the circle of my arms. I can hear the ball smack against the wood of the bat. The balls go so high into the sky they become stars and she laughs and laughs and her laughter is like bells, like music. Hips before hands, hips before hands. My mouth next to her ear and my nose in her hair. The scent of suede, the scent of her. She smells like rain, like flowers, like the first day of spring.

No! Get the fuck out of my dream, you liar, you manipulative whore. You lie.

*jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine. never understood a single word he said, but i helped him drink his wine. he always had some mighty fine wine.*

No screaming. Get the fuck out of my dream.

Hips before hands. Pretty soon all your cares just melt away--the ticking of your biological clock. WHACK! A star is born! How you really can't afford that nice new suede coat on a G-woman's salary. Nuzzle her hair, smells like mist from the sea and honeysuckle. How you gave up a promising career in medicine to chase aliens with a crackpot, albeit brilliant partner. My lips barely brush against the skin of her earlobe and she giggles and shivers. WHACK! She leans back against me a little and I tighten my grip, encircling her, enfolding her into me. Hips before hands. Keep 'em coming, Poorboy. Love her, love how she fits in my arms, love her.

I remember her and she helps me remember me. That's how I know she's real. It's how I know I'm real.

I sit with my back to the corner so they can't come up behind me. The camera's always on and it can see every place in the room, except in the corner where it's mounted on the wall. If I go there, they come in to see what I'm doing and they bring more voices. *thenoisethenoise* So I stay where they can see me. I let them watch. Every move, every expression. And they take their little notes.

Tilting my head back, I will the hot tears back into my eyes. Reabsorb them. Save them for later. I don't care if they see me cry from the pain. So much hurts. But they don't get my Scully tears. They're ours.

I sing in my head.

*never gonna let you go, i'm gonna hold you in my arms forever. gonna try and make up for the times i hurt you so. never gonna let you go, from this day on we're gonna be together. and i swear this time, i'm never gonna let you go.*

I sing in my head. Sing and sing and sing. Every song I know, over and over. The melodies change, but the words are always the same.

*scully. scully. scully.*

Please hurry.

*scully. scully. scully.*


Over the mid-Atlantic

*Scully. Scully, Scully.* His voice sounds so near that I awaken reaching for him in the empty seat next to mine. Langley bought both seats to make sure I wasn't bothered by anyone else in the first-class section of the Air Afrique flight from Dakar, Senegal to New York. The one I almost missed because the flight from Abidjan was late.

I'm groggy from sleep that wasn't really sleep and I have a difficult time figuring out what I'm doing here. A quick review, Dana. The death grip I have on the shoulder strap of the bag carrying the artifacts reminds me of where I am and how I got here.

I waited in the tall grass for a long time after Krycek left. Maybe half an hour. I was afraid he'd just been pretending not to see me and would be lying in wait for me when I drove back up onto the road. I phoned the Lone Gunmen while I waited--as soon as I could stop shaking enough to dial and as soon as I could be sure that my voice would work enough to speak.

Frohike answered the phone and said that Byers was at the hospital with Mulder. I told him what had happened and what I'd found and begged him to find a way to get me home quickly. He set Langley to the travel agent task again, and he secured a seat on a flight from Abidjan to Dakar with an almost immediate connecting flight from Dakar to New York. I asked how I would be able to transport the pieces without them being confiscated.

"Don't worry, Scully, we've got you covered. Go to the American Express office in the Dakar airport and we'll have a fax waiting for you. Credentials from the Smithsonian authorizing you to bring them into the country."

"You guys are amazing," I said. "I don't think I want to know how you did that one. Will they stand up?"

"I think so. A masterful job if I do say so myself," he replied with pride. "But we're covered there, too. Call us before you go into the Customs area. We've got a guy inside who'll help you through."

Frohike must be pretty sure of the security of the line to make an admission like that over the phone. "Wow," I replied. "Federal Agent to archeological smuggler within a week." And for some reason, I found that the thought didn't disturb me as much as it should have.

"Yeah," he replied. "Life's funny, ain't it? Listen, Scully, you need to get to the airport. You've got less than three hours. Don't miss the connection. We need you back here."

"How's Mulder?" I got into the Jeep and started it, hoping I could get it back to the road without a problem.

"Just get back here." His tone worried me.

"I'm driving, Frohike. I'm on my way to the airport. What's wrong with Mulder?" I fought the panic I was starting to feel. Panic wouldn't do any good so far away and would just be a distraction.

"He hasn't slept more than a few minutes here and there in more than three days. Even if he is faking now to stay in the hospital, Scully, a person just can't go without sleep like that. You know the effects of sleep deprivation."

I thought I heard something else in Frohike's voice. Something he wasn't telling me. I knew the tone from years of working with Mulder. "What else?"

He hesitated. "I don't know, Scully. It seems like Fowley is running the show there. Skinner's there quite a bit and they tell him stuff, but it's her the doctors and staff talk to."

"Jesus Christ, she's the one who put him there!" I was livid and I could feel my skin turning red with rage. "Should we bring the police into this? Show them the tape?"

He sighed and the connection was so good I could hear him draw his fingers over the ever-present stubble on his chin. "We talked about it. Right now, we know where Mulder is and where he'll be till the observation period is over. Bringing the police in would just complicate things, especially given what you're doing. You'll be back before they decide to transfer him and I can't imagine her trying something before then. She hasn't said anything, but she knows that one of us is there all the time. And she's not too happy about it."

I twist in the seat in discomfort and anger. Diana in charge? On what basis? And what the hell is Skinner doing in all of this? I find myself questioning his message again. What is he afraid of here and who is he answering to? Did he mean what he wrote on the card or is he just trying to lull me into his confidence? I recalled his words in the hospital when he was inches from death. And I recall the words in his office a week later.

The questions swirl endlessly in my mind, more and more of them coming out and none of them with answers. In my exhaustion, I find I can't keep track of all of them. I'm so tired. I raise the armrest between the seats and curl across them, an ineffectual airplane pillow at my head. If I don't get some sleep, I'm not going to be any good to Mulder or anyone else.

I'm terrified for him, alone in that place, and the enormity of what I've done strikes me hard. I left him there. I traveled thousands of miles away from him on the belief that he understood what I was doing. But does he understand why I'm not there? If he understood it then, does he still understand it now? Over three days without sleep. Mulder can function better on less sleep than anyone I know, but these are extraordinary circumstances. Between the drugs and sleep deprivation, his thoughts now would probably be disorientated. And does he hear the voices--like Gibson? How can he cope with that?

My hands clench into tight fists of rage at my helplessness in the situation. I've got to relax, got to get some sleep. There was no choice. I had to leave him to help him and I think I have. I don't know what I have or what it has to do with Mulder, but at least we have something we didn't have before. It has to help. This has to have been worth it.

Drawing the thin airplane blanket around me, I breathe deeply a few times, willing myself to relax. Think pleasant thoughts, I whisper. Think pleasant thoughts. What do I do at home when I want to relax? Listen to music. I have the headphones they passed out at the beginning of the flight, but the thought of putting them in my ears makes me shudder. I read sometimes. I write in my journal. That pretty much always makes me relax.

I've kept journals since I was about thirteen. And I've kept them all--hand written, every one. They're stored in a box in the back of my hall closet. Twenty-two volumes of journals. Well, in junior high and high school they were diaries, but they still count. I was religious about writing in them every day then, and even into college, when I started calling them journals. That's also when I started getting big, leather-bound books instead of the ones with the tiny gold locks and keys. In college and all through med school, I was pretty sporadic at journal writing. I was so busy. It was while I was in the Academy that I got fairly regular about writing in them again. I found I could work out a lot of frustrations and unwind by getting things out of my head and out on paper where I could get a better look at them. Now I write whenever I feel like there's something I need to say or examine or think through. It's the place I can take things apart and put them back together again. It's the place where the feelings live, when I let them. I try to just write whatever comes out of my pen. But sometimes that's hard.

The last time I wrote in it was April twenty-fourth. My new birthday. I can remember every word as if I can see whole pages in my mind. Breathing deeply, I close my eyes and read my journal in my head.

April 24, 1999--5:38 p.m.

Have to write right now. I don't know how else to figure out what to do. Got home to find a message from Mulder on my machine. Missed his call by just a few minutes. This is the message, word for word:

"This is Fox Mantle calling Dana Scully, unacknowledged and secret niece of the legendary Vin Scully. I've got a surprise for you. A present. A... a birthday present." (He was making it up as he went along, I just know it.) "Okay, okay, your birthday was in February. I know, I know. So it's either very early or very late and, personally, I prefer the former. But it is very special. Anyway, it's the thought that counts, right? So, Birthday Girl, to collect, you have to meet me at 8:00 tonight at Waverly Park. I trust your investigative skills to locate said park and said present."

That's it, word for word. I know because I listened to it four times. But the question is, what does it mean? He sounded happy(?) playful(?) Oh God! It's been so long since I heard either of those in his voice, I've forgotten what they sound like.

I know where Waverly Park is. I looked it up after the third time I listened to the message. The first time, I dismissed it out of hand. Just a bad idea for a lot of reasons. (Many of which are detailed in other entries in this journal.) I figured I'd just tell him I got the message late and that would work. The second time... I don't know why I played it again. But the second time he sounded like he did in the office this morning when we were fighting over my tofutti rice dreamsicle or when he was telling me about the baseball statistics. Right before he ditched me again. But you know, I realized something this afternoon. It makes absolutely no sense to get pissed off about that. I know. We're having a perfectly good time, then something catches his attention and off he goes. That's just Mulder. It's who he is. Getting pissed has never changed that and it never will. And do I really want it to? Wow, seven years with Mulder and I finally decide to accept him for who he is. At least the ice cream wrestling was fun.

After the third playback, I looked up the address for Waverly Park. Maybe if it's not too far away. It's twenty minutes, max. The ice cream wrestling "was" fun and watching him tell me about the baseball statistics. God help me, I almost forgot that expression--enthusiasm, joy. His eyes sparkled. When was the last time I saw that? I listened again. Four times.

I could see it again tonight if I wanted to. I want to. But I'm afraid to, too. Afraid to move sometimes, to upset the balance.

Has it always been so precarious between us? Maybe. Maybe always. At least since I got sick. No, before that. Maybe always. Moving, always moving. Moving separately together. He theorizes, I disprove. I rediscover my faith, he loses his. I put aside my skepticism to hold onto his faith, and he clings to my skepticism to only to give it back to me when he's ready to embrace his beliefs again. A balance, almost a wary circling--facing one another, moving around and around.

Until last summer. That changed everything. When I almost walked away, almost took a left turn instead of endless right turns, around and around. When I could convince myself of the reason I was leaving because I never thought I'd hear what he told me. But I did hear it. He said it and it changed everything.

And true to form, we've never talked about it, but it hovers around us all the time like its own atmosphere. Questions unaddressed. It's ironic. We've spent seven years searching for the truth, but we're afraid to ask questions we can't stand the answers to. Instead, we work to find a balance, find our places in the circle. Like we always do, no matter what--through demotion, reassignment, lies and deceit, hits and misses and near-misses. We claw our way back to the circle.

I was in the waiting room at the dentist's office a few months ago. They were running late, as usual, so I started glancing through the obligatory old magazines. One caught my eye--a movie magazine, of all things. Movietime, Movieline, something like that. To tell you the truth, I just grabbed it because the guy on the cover looked something like Mulder. A lot like Mulder, actually. So I'm paging through it, not really reading it. Just glancing at the pictures mostly. And I get to the interview with the guy on the cover and they've included a poem he wrote in a separate box in the middle of the article. I read the poem and turned a few pages. Then I went back and read it again. And again. It was good--clean lines, nice imagery. But I remember a phrase he used close to the end of the poem. Itinerant stasis. I didn't think much about it then, but I think about it a lot lately.

Itinerant stasis. Moving and keeping our places, our positions. Thinking we're staying true to who we are. But who are we?

Partners? Most definitely, without hesitation or doubt. Sometimes there are situations we go into where I'm afraid for us but when I'm with him, I'm never afraid for me. I know without question that he's there with me, he's on my back. And I know without question that he knows the same thing about me. Partners, certainly, but so much more than that.

Friends? Yes, absolutely. We've been there together through unimaginable times in one another's lives. I've never had a friend like Mulder, so completely unpredictable. Except when it comes to me. I know--he has proven it over and over--that he will do anything for me. I've never doubted that, even during the times when we're furthest from each other. Friends, surely, but more than that, too.

Lovers? Less than that, but somehow more, too. I love Mulder. I have for a long time. I think maybe I'm "in" love with Mulder, and that maybe he loves me that way, too. But again, we're afraid to ask questions we can't stand the answers to. What if we're wrong? What would that do to us?

So we work to find a balance. Work to protect something we can't define but can't walk away from either. To protect it from ruin. So we claw our way back to the circle and just keep moving. Can't hit a moving target. Itinerant stasis.

Well I'm tired of moving. Years and years of moving. And my fingers are bleeding from clawing my way back. Sometimes things get ruined, no matter how you try to protect them. If they're not beyond repair, sometimes you can fix them. But sometimes you can't. And sometimes you can replace them with something new and something better.

Two points in a circle moving around it at the same speed will never meet. Simple principle of physics. Maybe if one of us changes direction, we can meet and maybe just stop for a while.

I want to see that expression on his face again tonight. And I get to because it's my birthday. I'm the Birthday Girl.

Been writing over an hour. One more time on the message. I think I'll wear my new suede coat.

END OF ENTRY 4/24/99

<< i open my eyes slowly. i try to lift my head from the page. stuck, stuck to something. plastic, my skin is stuck to plastic. pull it away. book, fell asleep reading the book. it's a transparency in the book. internal organs, labeled, overlaying an outline of the human body. anatomy textbook. i taste the ends of my hair in my mouth and push it away, gathering my hair and throwing it behind my shoulders. chewing on my hair again. mom always hated that. don't even notice when i'm doing it. she says i'd stop if i cut my hair short. look out the window in front of my desk. the stars, the stars. gotta go now. gotta go. i'm in the dormitory parking lot. my Omni is there as always. who'd steal that old clunker? drive and drive. the stars tell me where to go. i'm on the hill. i'm standing on the hill and the stars tell me to stand on the hill. i see the light. i see the light. i'm scared but the stars won't let me go. won't let me run. and the lights and the lights and i'm in the place. nobody else here this time. just me. and them. and i'm on the table. it's cold and the lights are hot and i can see them even when i close my eyes. and they touch me and i can't move. the tube. the tube is coming down and it hurts when they do this. more than last time. they didn't do this last time. and they blow me up and up like a balloon. the needle, not the needle. i'll explode. the needle goes in and i don't explode, but it hurts. it hurts. suction, suction. they're sucking my life from me with the needle. then they're done and they make my stomach small again. and the voices. dana, don't tell. don't ever tell. we'll hurt them dana. whoever you tell. your mother, your father. you know we can. or we'll come back dana, and we'll take you again and never let you go. don't tell. you know we can. it would be better if you just forgot about this dana. no, no, I won't tell. we can take anyone, dana. anyone you're close to, your family, your lover, your children. don't tell. please let me go. i won't tell. don't hurt them. don't do this to them. nobody ever. i won't tell. please, please, please...>>

<<*it's the past, fbi woman.* i see stars. billions and billions. i'm not on the hill, i just see the stars. i've never seen so many stars. yes i have. once, just once. mulder spoke to me from the dead. from the bridge that spans two worlds. *it's the past, fbi woman. don't be afraid of the past.* albert hosteen. i know his voice--kind, wise. *but don't forget it. you need the lessons you learned in the past. but now, you need to be in the now. get to the fbi man. you must be with the fbi man. bring him to me and i will help him and you will help me. get to the fbi man.>>

I sit up with a start, and I wonder if my gasp was as loud as it sounded to my own ears. Catching my breath, I look around the cabin to find the other passengers asleep. Of course they would be. It's the middle of the night.

Albert Hosteen. I dreamed about Albert Hosteen. And something else. But Albert Hosteen wasn't like a dream. It was different. *Get to the FBI man.* And the feelings on the beach. *GET TO HIM!!!*

I have to get to Mulder. Something is really wrong there. But when I get there, will they even let me in? Dr. Buchanan wouldn't let me in before. I've got to get to Mulder.

My hands shake badly as I reach for the phone mounted on the seatback in front of me. Do I dare to use it, unsecured as it is? I have to use it. I have to talk to them.

I call the Gunmen and Langley answers on the second ring. Don't these people ever sleep? Thank God for Mulder and me that they don't. "Langley, who's at the hospital?"


"Give me his number. Is his line secure?"

"You're kidding, right? You want me to patch you through? Save you dialing time." Langley does something before I can even answer and I hear the ringing of another phone. He's patched me through to Frohike,

"Talk to me." Frohike never identifies himself on the greeting.

"It's me. What's going on there? How are things?"

Frohike sighs. "About the same, I think. As much as we hear. None of us has been able to get into the monitor room in a while. Diana's watching us pretty close."

"Is she there now?" I ask, anxiety grabbing at my guts.

"Snoozing on a bench down the hall," he replies. "I can see her from here, but she can't hear us. But she's not snoozing too hard. She's up every time there's movement in the hall. Seems pretty nervous."

She fucking well better be.

"Does Skinner happen to be there?"

"Yeah. He's here a lot of the time that he's not at the office."

I sigh, trying to make a decision. "Give him this phone and let me talk to him."

Frohike hesitates. "You sure you want to do that?"

"Yeah," I reply, trying to convince myself. "But hang around. I want to talk to you after I talk to him."

"I'll be right here. Be careful, Scully." There is a pause and the sound of muffled voices.


"It's me, sir."

"So I hear. Where are you, Agent Scully? What are you doing?"

"I think you know what I'm doing." I sidestep the location question and he doesn't press me.

"Is there something I can help you with, Agent Scully?"

Something's up, something's not right. Two *Agent Scully*s right in a row. Is he wired? Even if Frohike's line is secure, they could record us if Skinner's wired. But I'm hoping they can't trace us. I have to try this.

"I want to see him," I say in a voice that's stronger than I feel right now.

"Nobody but staff has been in there." His voice is carefully neutral.

"Have you asked? Look, sir, I'm asking you to see if you can get them to let me in there."

"I can't do that, Agent Scully. I think you overestimate my position in the chain of command at this hospital."

Those words. He'd said them once before when I should have trusted him and I didn't, when Mulder was dead in New Mexico. *Don't trust what I say without a signal.*

"Maybe if you were family, Dana." There is a subtle change in his tone. "Maybe if you were family."

"Yes, sir," I reply softly. "Please give the phone back to Frohike." Another pause.

"I'm here and out of earshot, Scully."

"I need..." I think about what I'm going to ask for and realize I don't know if it's possible. "Frohike, how much money does Emesco have?"

"How much do you need?"

"I need a helicopter." I answer.

"To buy?" Frohike asks.

"No, no. To rent. I need to hire a helicopter and pilot."

"No problem, Scully. Emesco has enough money to buy one. Where and when?"

I sigh with relief. "Really short notice. I need it waiting for me when I land. And I need it to go to Greenwich, Connecticut. And wait for me. Then in Greenwich, I need a driver or cab or something. Look up Mulder's mother's address. I don't remember it."

"You're going to go from there?" Frohike sounds doubtful. "You really need to get back here."

"Frohike, it won't do me any good to get back there if they won't let me in to see him. We need some help here. Maybe I can get Mulder's mother to help me get in there. I'll be quick, and then the helicopter can take me back to DC."


"I don't know what else to do." I'm scared, I'm scared. This has to be the right thing to do. "Can you arrange all that by the time I land?"

His voice is soft and kind, almost as if he can hear my apprehension. "Yeah, I can do it if I get right on it. Just get there. And remember to call before you go through Customs."

Tears of gratitude sting my eyes. What would I do--what would we do--without this strange, remarkable little man and his friends? Our friends. Redwoods among mere sprouts. "Thanks Frohike," I murmur. But he's already gone, no doubt already setting to the tasks I've placed before him.


Chapter Seven

Georgetown Memorial Hospital

3:17 a.m.

pretty thirsty now. thirsty and tired. mostly thirsty. the eye on the wall. talk to the eye cuz the ears there too.

"Please, a drink please, a drink please, a drink please, a plink drease a..."

cant stop saying it. making me thirstier. cant stop saying it.. can hear him in there. the night guy.


"...a drink please, a dreank plise, a drink, a drink..."

cant think of any water songs. *jeremiah was a bullfrog.* bullfrogs are sort of by water. maybe thats a water song. *jeremiah was a bullfrog.* cant sing it like her. like my scullly. cold and thirsty. we were cold and thirsty and she sang to me. and she saved me. and she kept me safe. kept me warm. because thats what she does. she saves me. she saved the world. and i kissed her. and she tasted like moonlight. and i love you scully. and i was expecting the left. and i jumped. and i hit the water. water.

"...dink of water, wink o water, drink of water, please, drink please..."

not listening. watching the movie.



i hide under the eye on the wall. hide in plain sight. hiding in the light. he'll come in if i stay under the eye on the wall. i can ask him for water. thats not much. ill be good. ill be good. hear the lock. hes mad. hear it in my head. screaming in my head. kick my ass. missing the movie. opening the door.

"...please, water please, drink of..."

"Out of the corner, Mr, Mulder. Out where we can see you."

we. no not we. only him. thats why i did this. only him. not more coming. not all the voices. ill be good. ill be good. im out now. cant stop talking. hates that. night guy says shut up.

"...please, water please, just a little, just a little, I'll be good, I'll be quiet..."

rain. we were standing in the rain. and we were laughing. in the rain. *only want to see you laughin in the purple rain.* water from the sky. and we were laughing. and i loved her a little then. and she was new and fresh and beautiful. so beautiful. and i loved her even then. and we were laughing. in the pouring rain. sheets and rivers and buckets of water from the sky. water for chocolate. water.

"Sorry, Mr. Mulder. No water for you. You're on a twelve-hour fast for some tests tomorrow."


door closes behind him. no. no. just a drink. not the juice. god not the juice like before. brains scramble your brains. fry em like eggs. this is your brain. this is your brain on electroshock. any questions? no not electroshock. im a psychologist. i know. im a psychologist. called electroconvulsive therapy. ect. im a psychologist. scramble your brains like before with the juice. fry em like eggs. egghead. hes so bright mrs. mulder. he's so smart. its like he knows the answer to the question before i even get to ask it. egghead egghead smartie fartie. i cant keep him interested mrs. mulder. hes bored in class. i think you should consider skipping him a grade. hes so smart. bookworm teachers pet. hes tall for his age. hell do okay with the older kids. sister lost his sister. says he doesnt remember. probably killed her himself. weirdo weirdo. sorry i lost her dad. not the doctor again. not the juice. i didnt mean to lose her. dont take that away too. how will i find her if you take that away? dont take it away. dont burn it away. ill find her. just leave me the gift. dont take the gift.

*walkin in memphis. walkin with my feet ten feet off the beale. walkin in memphis. do i really feel the way i feel?*

smoky. smoke drifts like low clouds. darkness and lights on a mirrored ball. *put on my blue suede shoes and i boarded the plane.* sitting close to the stage. i feel his excitement. he bounces jittery like a kid. two faces. he has two faces. id almost forgotten. hes happy. scully sees it too. she laces her fingers through mine behind him. not that hed notice. hes so happy. shes there. the woman of his dreams. he sees nothing else. scullys hand is warm and soft. her thumb moves over mine. hes happy. he laughs out loud and hes beautiful. she sees it too. the woman of his dreams sees it and comes to him because hes beautiful. he laughs out loud and i do too and so does scully. my scully. high five, buddy. dancing with the woman of his dreams. his life is complete and hes beautiful. look at scully. shes beautiful too. no surprise there. of course shes beautiful. shes scully. shes alive. shes healthy. so close. it was too close. but shes here. shes alive. shes here with me. because i asked her to be here with me in this strange place. stayed with me. stays with me. dance with the woman of my dreams. hold out my hand. will she take it? oh brother. she smiles. shy? surprised? she takes my hand and i pull her to me and it takes forever for her to be in my arms. And she fits. and i hold her and i hold her hand. *theres a pretty little thing waitin for the king down in the jungle room. and i was walkin in memphis* and i spin her and her hair flies out from her face. and i hold her close again and my life is complete. *put on my blue suede shoes.* blue suede juice.

the juice. im scared scully. where are you scully? you can stop this. the juice. the juice scully like before. hold me together scully. they want to take it again. help me keep it scully.


Greenwich, Connecticut

6:14 a.m.

The cab ride is endless. It's early. Will she even be up? I don't care. She's got to get up now. I have to get to Mulder.

We stop in front of a neat-looking white house. I check the address Frohike gave me again, but I know this is the place. I recognize it from last time. There is a realtor's sign close to the sidewalk leading up to the front door. In big bold letters it proclaims that the house is sold.

I reach the front door, hand poised to knock, when it suddenly swings open. She begins talking before she has a chance to look up. "I wasn't expecting the cab until sev..."

"Mrs. Mulder..."

She meets my eyes with the look of someone who recognizes me, but can't quite recall why I'm familiar. "You're..."

"Dana Scully. You son's partner." I look out at the sign in the yard and back at her. "He didn't mention that you were moving."

She looks at me with something akin to dread on her face. "Why are you here? Has something happened to Fox?"

"Yes, Mrs. Mulder. I need... May I come in?" She doesn't move, doesn't answer. "Your son... He needs your help. I need it."

She puts a hand up in front of my face. "No, wait. I don't want to hear it. Not again, not anymore."

"It will just take a few minutes. Please let me in." I push past her into the entryway. Where I stood last time I was here. Maybe the last time Mulder was here, too. In a corner I spy several suitcases and a purse. The furniture in the living room is covered with plastic drop cloths. She's not just moving as in indefinitely over the next few weeks. She's moving today, now.

"Agent Scully, I'm sorry. I just don't have time right now. I have a cab coming in just over an hour and there are things I'd like to see to before I leave."

"You're leaving? It's just funny that Mulder didn't mention this." Her silence speaks volumes and she refuses to meet my eye. I process what that means. "Oh my God. He doesn't know, does he?"

Her face is cold, unwavering. "I don't see how this is your concern."

But I'm still trying to deal with the fact that she's sold her house and is leaving without telling Mulder. "You're just going to go, disappear somewhere, and not tell you son?" I am incredulous.

"I'm not... I'm not..."

She hasn't finished her sentence, but I think that she has. "You're not disappearing?"

She shakes her head angrily. "No. I'm not..." She hesitates, as if trying to find the right words. "He's not my son."

Her words shock me. "Oh, Mrs. Mulder, no." God, God, thank You for not letting him be here to hear this. "Look, I know you and your son have had some problems. But to disown him, to say he's not your son... You're all the family he has left, he's all you have left."

"No," she snaps back. "You don't understand. He's not my son and he never was. He's Bill's son!"

What is she talking about? I fight to control my expression. "You're right. I don't understand. Help me understand this."

"Young lady, I barely know you. I don't owe you an explanation of my life." Her tone is indignant, outraged.

And makes me so angry I can hardly breathe. "What about him?" I cry and blink back the tears that are threatening. "Don't you owe him an explanation? It's his life, too."

She chuffs. "But he's not here, is he? As usual. So I explain to you and you explain to him? Is that it?" Sarcasm drips from her voice and she turns and pretends to arrange some items on the foyer table.

"God, I hope so. I hope I get the chance to explain it to him." I can hardly trust my voice to speak. "Who else does he have? Obviously not you."

Her head snaps toward me, eyes flashing. "Don't you dare judge me. I did the best I could. And it was never enough for them. Never enough." I look into her eyes for the first time and I can see it. Sorrow and despair so deep there's no end in sight. I know the look.

And the tears are back. "Please, Mrs. Mulder. Tell me. I've been with him for seven years and watched him being eaten alive from not knowing what you know. It's consumed his whole life. Please, if you won't help him, won't you at least help me help him?"

She crosses over to the other side of the room and makes a show of pretending to look out the window, her back to me. She's been quiet a long time, so long I'm starting to wonder if she's going to answer at all, or if I'm being dismissed by her stony silence. Finally she speaks, so softly that I have to approach her from behind in order to hear her. "Maybe it's time I did," she whispers.

"Bill and I were married in 1954. I was going to Sarah Lawrence but in those days I don't think any of us actually planned to graduate. We were there to meet the right kind of men and find husbands. You're probably scoffing, Agent Scully. But that's what we did then. It wasn't shameful or wrong. It's just what we did. I met Bill in 1952 at a New Year's Eve dance. He was perfect--handsome, a great dancer, had a good job with the government. But he was dark and mysterious, too. I didn't find out until later that the ideal of dark and mysterious is much better than the reality of it."

I manage to creep up beside her and I watch her profile, her head back slightly, her eyes closed. "We moved into a nice little apartment complex in Capitol Heights with other young couples. It seemed like all the men were in government service and we all became friends. The men all went to work every day and the girls--that's what we called ourselves, girls--we decorated and shopped and shared recipes and cooked for our husbands. Just like our mothers taught us to do.

"After a couple of years, though, I began to notice that they were all starting to drift away. One of the girls would get pregnant and they'd decide they needed more room and move to a nice house in Bethesda or somewhere. And some other couple would move into their apartment. It happened over and over again. Three, four years down the line and I realized nobody lived there who did when Bill and I moved in. And I wasn't pregnant. Bill was with State then and traveled a lot, but still we were together enough that I should have been pregnant."

She sighs, a heavy deep sound in the high-ceilinged room. "By six years, I was desperate. I wanted a baby so much, I couldn't stand to be in the same room with women who had them." I think of Tara and Matthew and I understand her feelings. "We went to the doctor, both Bill and I, to see if there was anything wrong. But they said we both checked out fine. But, you know, they couldn't diagnose things then the way they do now. The doctor said to try and relax, that sometimes couples who adopted a baby would come up pregnant within a year just because they'd been able to relax about it. But it was difficult to relax. Bill and I were fighting so much of the time that we couldn't even broach the idea of adoption. And I wanted a baby so badly. And the way things were between us, that wasn't going to happen.

"Then one day he comes in and drops the bottom out of my world. He starts by telling me they've transferred him to Boston and that we have to be there in three weeks. Believe it or not, that wasn't that unusual among our crowd. He tells me he's found a place for us in Chilmark on the Vineyard and that he'll commute from there when he's not traveling. And I'm absorbing this and nodding and taking it in and even starting to think about everything I had to do if we were going to move because that's what we did back then. And I was even kind of looking forward to it, getting out of that place where every new couple that moved in was younger and fresher than we were. And I didn't have to watch them come up pregnant, one right after another."

Mrs. Mulder leans her head against the pane of glass in the narrow window beside the door. "Then he says, *Teena, there's something else I have to tell you,* and I knew, I knew. We'd been having so many problems. I'd seen it happen to some of our friends who were having problems, too. I knew he was going to tell me there was somebody else. And he did. But he assured me it had just been a mistake, meaningless. But there'd been a baby and the woman--he never told me her name--had died in a car accident. He was so sorry, he was so sorry. But he wanted the baby. He wanted us to raise his son. We were going to a whole new place. Nobody would have to know that the baby wasn't ours. Even little Fox--he told me his name was Fox--wouldn't have to know. A clean slate."

She looks at me and tears shimmer in her eyes. "At first, I just said no. How could he ask me to raise his child by another woman? But then he said something that changed my mind. He said that he'd made a mistake but that it wasn't right to punish the baby for the sins of the father. He was just a baby, just two months old--a baby whose mother was dead. And I'd wanted a baby for so long. But still it was the hardest decision I'd ever made."

Now that she's started, it's as if she can't stop. Words are pouring out of her, spewing out of her, and it's like she's talking to herself. Like I'm not even there.

"So we moved to Chilmark with our new baby. Bill got a birth certificate that said I had given birth to Fox. I don't know where he got it and I didn't ask. By that time, I knew enough not to ask questions. Fox was a good baby. Quiet, not any trouble. But different from other babies I'd seen. I don't know how to explain it. He was... watchful, focused. If you talked to him, looked into his eyes, it was like he knew things, understood things babies can't understand. And he could just do things. He spoke in full sentences at seven months. It was scary. Sometimes it was embarrassing. People would bend over his buggy and make those little baby talk noises and he'd ask them to talk more clearly because he didn't understand what they were saying. One day when he was two, I was in the kitchen and I heard him talking in the living room. I couldn't imagine who he thought he was talking to. I found him on the floor with the newspaper spread out in front of him. He was reading the headlines out loud. He asked me what *assassination* was. He scared me and made me a little sad sometimes because I'd wanted a baby so badly and I got one that just didn't seem to need me very much. I'd set him down someplace, turn around for a second, and he'd be gone. Off on some adventure with me worried to death about him. I don't know how many times I had to get the neighbors involved in searching for him. We'd find him later, and he never seemed to be able to figure out what all the fuss was about."

That brought the closest thing to a smile I'd had in days. Apparently, Mulder's ditches go way back.

"So Bill and I eventually put things back together as best we could and went on. His job took up more and more of his time and I knew there was some kind of big secret project going on, but I didn't ask. He made it clear that he was involved in things he couldn't talk about. But still things fell into place and were okay. Sometimes okay is the best you get. Then when Fox was four, Samantha was born. She was absolutely beautiful and Fox fell in love with her from the start. He'd look at her for what seemed like hours on end, and talk and talk. He never seemed to mind that she didn't answer back. He'd just keep talking and she'd watch him and smile. She loved Fox better than she loved either Bill or me, I think.

"From the outside, we looked perfect. Bill was successful, we had two perfect children, a beautiful home. Hell, we even had a summer house. Two perfect children who barely knew their father and a beautiful home he hardly visited any more. The meetings and trips were more frequent. He was hardly ever off the phone when he was home. He came and went in the middle of the night. Carl Spender and the others from the Project would drop by at odd hours bringing strange men who spoke with foreign accents. And they all seemed angry--and afraid. And we didn't ask questions, none of the wives, because we knew. People who asked questions, who made too much noise, sometimes they went away and never came back. Or they came back different, like Cassandra Spender. I didn't ask and I raised my children and kept my mouth shut.

"Until that summer, 1973, when I knew things were really bad. Bill was hardly ever home that spring and when he was, he was adamant about getting me and the kids to Quonochontaug and that we had to stay there for the entire summer. I said okay and started to mention it one night when Carl and Cassandra were over and Bill changed the subject so fast it made my mouth drop open. So we went that summer. And one night Bill was home and he was pacing and nervous and it was scaring me. I sent the kids up to bed and finally, I just couldn't keep quiet any more. I asked him what the problem was and he was going to tell me, I think, when Carl burst in. No knocking, nothing. And he was livid. Bill took him out on the sun porch and they screamed at one another. I went out to tell them to be quiet, they were scaring the children. And that's when they told me everything--the Colonists, the bargain they'd all made to give up a child. And that everyone but Bill had done it and the Colonists were demanding that he do it, too. That he give up Samantha like he'd agreed. I couldn't believe it, my husband had agreed to give up our daughter. But looking at them, I couldn't not believe it, either."

She took a deep breath. "The rest is kind of a blur, but after Carl left, I screamed at Bill that he couldn't take our daughter. He shook me--he'd never touched me in anger in all the time I'd known him--but he shook me until I thought he'd break my neck. And he said it wasn't a game and that if he didn't do what he'd agreed to everyone would die. Not just us, but everyone. He yelled and yelled and told me not to try and understand something I couldn't. And I said... God help me, I said let them take Fox, and he went quiet and pale and said he couldn't do that. It had to be Samantha because Fox had to stay here. It was almost as if he were talking to himself, saying Fox was the only chance, and crying about how he didn't understand how things had gotten so out of hand."

"He went out and sat by himself on the porch for a while. When he came in, he told me he'd try to get them to change their minds. That since the time was past, he thought he could do it. He told me not to worry. And then he left, too, and we just spent the rest of the summer in Rhode Island. He'd call every few days and tell me not to worry, but that's all. We went back to Chilmark on Labor Day and then the kids went back to school. He didn't say anything more about it and I hoped that meant everything was all right. I was too afraid to ask him straight out."

She lowers her head and clutches the windowsill, her shoulders hitching slightly. I know what's coming next and I wait with a nauseating combination of anticipation and dread. My knees start to shake and I sink onto a straight-back bench a little to my left. She's going to tell me about that night, November 27, 1973. A date I know as well as my mother's birthday, a date that changed Mulder's life--and mine too. She's going to say what happened that night, and I have to fight the urge to cover my ears because I know there will be no stopping her from finishing the story. I can see it in her face.

"We played bridge with the Galbrands every other Friday night. We had for years, whenever Bill's schedule allowed it. They were our next door neighbors, the first people we met when we moved to Chilmark. Usually we got a sitter, but I didn't have any luck that night. Bill said it was just next door and that Fox was old enough to watch Samantha when we were that close. He even made a big deal about Fox being in charge and I think Fox was proud that his father was giving him the responsibility. He loved Bill so."

I can see her swallow hard, her face a map of confusion, even after twenty-five years, about what happened that night. "We were at the Galbrands playing cards, just like we always did and suddenly Mitzi looks up at the clock and exclaims how it's almost midnight. We never played past ten and she said... I remember this. She said she couldn't imagine where the time had gone. When she said that, Bill stood up so quickly he tipped his chair over and, without a word, he was running out the door. I followed him and I think maybe Mitzi and Dan did, too. The last clear memory I have is running through the shrubbery between the houses and seeing our house. The door looked as if it had been ripped off the hinges and the windows were all blown out of their frames. After that, everything is fuzzy, patchy. I remember going into the house after Bill and seeing Fox cowering in the corner, shaking and clutching his head. He'd wet himself. His clothes were soaked and he was sitting in a puddle, rocking and clutching his head. And Samantha was gone. Then there were police and questions and our doctor came and gave me a shot and for a blessed while, there was nothing. I don't even know how long that lasted.

"I remember being in bed a lot and Bill coming to me and giving me pills and telling me how important it was that I never tell anyone what I knew. I couldn't even remember what it was I was supposed to know, but he said if I told there would never be any chance that we could get Samantha back. I remember him saying that Fox wouldn't talk, wouldn't eat and that he had to take him somewhere to get him some help. But I didn't care about that. They'd taken my daughter. My baby was gone."

Her baby was gone. The tears that have been threatening all through her story finally escape my eyes. Her baby was gone and I know how that felt. "But you still had another child, Mrs. Mulder. You might not have given birth to him, but to Fox you were his mother."

Her eyes grow hard and flinty. "They took my baby girl and left me with Bill's strange, broken child. I know that how I acted was wrong, but I couldn't help it. Bill brought Fox back from wherever he'd taken him for treatment and he was different--strange, eerie. He had no memories of what happened that night. He'd just wander around the house, so quiet, so lost, and I'd see him looking at me with such need and..." She paused and her voice dropped to a whisper. "And I could hardly stand the sight of him."

Oh God, oh God. How can I be hearing something like this? How can she be saying it? Mulder, oh God, Mulder. How could he have lived through it?

She must have seen something in my expression. "Don't look at me like that. Don't you dare look at me like that. You don't know what my life was like then."

"But he was just a child," I replied.

"I know, Agent Scully, I know that what I was thinking was reprehensible. I knew it then and I tried, I really tried, to help him. To love him. But I couldn't. I tried to hug him, to comfort him, and sometimes it was okay and I could do it and it would make him happy for a while. But one day when I was crying for Samantha... There were years and years of days that I couldn't make it through without crying." She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a handkerchief to wipe at the tears streaming down her face. Steeling herself, she goes on. "One day when I was crying, he came up behind me and put his arm around me. It startled me, I wasn't expecting it. I didn't even know he was home. But... but I jumped up and pushed him away and he must have seen something in my face because it was years, literally years, before he ever tried to touch me again.

"And Bill... Bill was so hard on him. He was always either screaming at him or he'd go for weeks without talking to him. Once I was walking past Bill's study and I overheard him... I heard him tell Fox... He said that maybe if Fox had been braver and stronger that night, he could have stopped them from taking Samantha."

I hear a strange keening wail and realize that it's coming from me. I can feel myself trembling and feel the hot trails of tears on my face, and I can stop neither of them.

But Mrs. Mulder seems not to notice as she goes on with this story that seems obscene in its pain. "I heard him say those things to Fox. I heard him pass his own blame onto his son and I didn't stop him. I couldn't. Because he was saying out loud the very thoughts I was carrying in my head."

I bring my hands to my face and they are icy against the hot skin of my face. I can't believe this. It goes against everything I've ever known or believed about families, about the love of parents for their children. "But he was just a boy." My voice sounds like what it is--a plea for the key to understand this.

"Just a boy," she says with quiet bitterness. "But such a *special* boy. So smart, so capable. So *special* that my husband gave up my daughter, my little girl, for him. But he couldn't use the gun to defend his sister? They found Bill's gun on the floor, unfired. He couldn't have run next door to get help?"

How many times every day does Mulder ask himself those very questions? How many thousands and thousands of times over the course of twenty-five years have those questions rung in his head? Put there and reinforced by the very people who should have moved mountains to make sure he understood that none of what had happened was his fault. My stomach clenches and I'm glad I haven't eaten in a long time because I don't think I'd be able to keep it down with what I've heard this morning.

Suddenly I'm just tired, tired and weak and sick to my very soul. And I hurt for Mulder-- my Mulder. For truly, who else does he have? I hurt for the boy he was then, a child denied even basic human comfort for something completely beyond his control. And I hurt for the man he has become. "Then what?" My voice sounds old and dull in my ears.

Her voice has become cold and distant, as if relating something she read in a book or saw in a movie. "Every so often the men from the Project would come to see us, to look at Fox and to tell me how important it was that I never tell anyone what I knew. And Bill kept trying to reassure me that he was doing what he could to get Samantha back. And somehow I kept going. I kept our house, made meals for Fox and for Bill when he was there, which was less and less. I bought Fox clothes and did his laundry and he moved around on the periphery of my life somewhere and somehow six years went by. Fox announced that he had won a scholarship to attend Oxford and I knew it for what it was. A desperate attempt to escape our lives and, God help me, I envied him his ability to get out. We drove him to the airport and on the way back, I told Bill to get whatever he wanted from the house and never come back. That I was filing for divorce. He didn't disagree, but made sure I knew that there wasn't a chance of getting our daughter back if I even thought about telling anyone what I knew. We got divorced and I bought this little house.

"Fox came home from Oxford during the holidays and stayed with me. With Bill out of the picture, it seemed better between Fox and me. I'd had some time to come to grips with things and it seemed that Fox did, too. Or maybe he'd lowered his expectations for our relationship. I never asked. After graduation, he told me he'd decided to join the FBI and he moved to Washington. He'd call regularly and even visit on occasion, but I don't think he had any contact at all with Bill. From what I'd heard, Bill had bought the house in West Tisbury and spent most of his days with his new best friend, Jack Daniels. We'd talk from time to time, and he stopped even pretending that he was looking for Samantha.

"But I knew Fox was looking, and they knew it too, so they kept up their little visits and warnings about who could get killed if I told anyone, especially Fox, what I knew. But, you know, this is strange. It just stopped having any meaning to me. So many years had passed that what I knew was like a dream, something that never really happened. She'd been gone for many more years than I'd had her and I found I couldn't even remember really what her voice had sounded like. Until she came back. Until Bill brought her to me and I saw how beautiful she was and I had my daughter back. Until Fox couldn't leave things alone and she was gone again. And I tried not to hate him for that."

"She wasn't your daughter, Mrs. Mulder," I say quietly.

"I know that," she whispered. "I know that. But she could have been, damn it. If he'd just left her alone, she could have been my daughter. But no, this time he traded her away--just like his father did. He traded her for you."

"She wasn't your daughter," I repeat.

"But he thought she was. Fox told me he thought she was Samantha. And still he traded her for you."

"Mrs. Mulder, it was her idea. Things went wrong that night, dreadfully wrong, but it was her idea. The people who killed her would have found her anyway. They created her to keep Mulder involved. To lure him in deeper. You, of all people, should know what they're capable of."

She looks at me with pity in her eyes. "You know what they're capable of, too, don't you Ms. Scully? I wonder what your story would sound like to me. Well it worked, just like it was supposed to. After that, every time I saw Fox, he was like a man possessed. Asking questions, looking for information about that time. Then Bill was murdered, and Fox was dead, and then Fox was alive and all he had were questions, questions. They told me they'd kill me if I told. Human existence is funny, isn't it? Even with the hell my life has been, I didn't want to die. They'd killed Bill, and he was important to the Project. I didn't have any doubt that they'd kill me, too. And still Fox kept on, searching and searching, asking and demanding until that day two years ago. You were here. When he came in ranting and screaming and making accusations that weren't true. God, I wish I had been unfaithful to Bill all those years ago. I wish I'd found someone to love me enough to take me away from all that."

"He wasn't himself that day, Mrs. Mulder, it was..."

"Don't you see? It doesn't matter anymore. I slapped him that day. That was the last time I touched my *son* and the last time I heard his voice. He's never made contact with me since then and I haven't made contact with him. And they know it. The warnings have stopped coming and for two years, I've almost felt normal. I just want it to be over. I just want some peace in what's left of my life. I'm an old woman now, Ms. Scully, and I spent what were supposed to be the best years of my life terrified and in tears."

"Please, Mrs. Mulder, he needs your help."

She shakes her head and actually places her hands over her ears. "I don't want to hear it. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the choices I made and for everything that's happened to him. I'm sorry. But I just don't have anything left to give him. They've taken it all." Her voice drops to a whisper. "He's still looking for her isn't he?"

I nod, unable to speak through the lump in my throat.

"Doesn't he realize that even if he found her, she wouldn't be his sister? She would be some grown up stranger who wouldn't know him if she passed him on the street. I hope she never comes back because I couldn't bear that. How can he not see that? How can he keep doing this?"

I rise from the bench and go to stand before her. "Because you and his father ensured that he would. He's spent his entire adult life trying to fix something that wasn't his fault, trying to stop the men responsible for it, in the sheer hope of winning back your love. He can't get it back from his father. He's dead and I hope he's rotting in hell. But I held your son--your son--as he wept at your bedside after your stoke. He was battered and bruised and in shock and still, all he could talk about was how he'd failed you. He keeps doing this to bring her back for you. And you don't even want her."

I head for the door and pause with my hand on the knob. "I'm sorry I've taken up so much of your time. You can have your peace, Mrs. Mulder. If you think running away is going to bring that to you, just go. Personally, I think Mulder is better off without you, but it makes me sad for him because I know he wouldn't think so. I'll find some way to help him, with or without you."

She looks at me incredulously. "Even knowing what you know. Even after what they've done to you. I don't know your story, Ms. Scully, but I can see that you've paid a high price for your part in this. You're not that fresh-faced girl I met at Bill's funeral anymore. But they suck you dry, don't they? They suck you dry. Why do you keep doing it?"

The million dollar question. The question no one else in my life has the guts to ask me, the one I've asked myself over and over, but never answered out loud. "I do it because it's the right thing to do," I reply. "I do it because it's not right that he should do it alone. He's been alone enough for this lifetime. Fox Mulder is the most remarkable man I've ever known, and I believe that even more firmly after what I've heard today. Just the fact that he lived through life with you two is incredible, but to come out of it the man he is, is miraculous. I'm sorry you've never allowed yourself to see who he is, because you've missed something special."

She touches my arm as I open the door and I look down at her hand, surprised. "Ms. Scully," she says, fresh tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry. For everything. But I'm glad he has you to love him. It makes me understand a little better how he could have chosen you over Samantha. Take care of him. I never could."

The cab is waiting to take me back to the helicopter. The driver is considerate enough to leave me in silence. so I'm able to think about all she's told me. I feel drained and empty and incredibly old. How will I tell him this? And I know I have to. I can't be a partner in concealing their lies. That's even assuming I get a chance to tell him.

What am I going to do? I can feel every minute pass and with the feeling comes the knowledge that time is growing shorter and shorter.

I have to get to Mulder.


Chapter Eight

Georgetown Memorial Hospital

7:35 a.m.

the songs are gone. all used up. im still here. alone. except for the voice in my head. the liar. i hope shes a liar. i know shes a liar. shes a liar.

so/much/has/happened/to/her/maybe/she/just/wants/it/to/stop/i/know/you/think/you/love/ her/and/she/loves/you/but/if/she/loved/you/she'd/be/here/wouldn't/she>

almost all the tears are used up. almost down to the scully tears. the ones im saving for us. her book. i read her book. wrote to me. *mulder i feel you close though i know you are pursuing your own path. for that i am grateful--more than i could ever express. i need to know youre out there if i am ever to see through this.* back to you scully. give them back to you. the words. wish i could write.

shut up. be quiet. i'm talking to scully. like she talked to me in her book. can't write to her. can't write. i can write in my head.

Scully, I'm scared for you. I can hear the guys out in the hallway sometimes but they're not clear. They mix with the other voices and I can't understand them. I don't know where you are and that terrifies me, like it always has. You'd be here if you could. That's the one thing I'm certain of--the single thing in my life I know to be true. You are what I know, who I believe in, who I trust. And if I've ever led you to believe, even for a moment, that that's not true, I'm sorry.

You would be here if you could.

And that's why I'm scared. Because you aren't here. If I could pray, Scully, I'd pray for you. I haven't been able to for a long time. But if God would let me ask for something, I'd ask that He keep you safe. Safer than I've been able to.

For a while, I was scared for me. But not anymore. Because you'll get me out of here if you can. If you can't, if something's happened to you, it doesn't matter what they do to me. If you've got nothing left, you've got nothing to lose.

But I'm scared for you. And I miss you. And I hang on for you because you'll be here if you can.


Washington DC

9:22 a.m.

I called from the cab and Byers is waiting for me when the driver drops me off at the entry to the alley leading to their office. I'm glad because I have a suitcase, my briefcase and the bag with the artifacts and I'm exhausted. He takes the suitcase and my briefcase, sensing my reluctance to release the artifacts, even to him. I don't mean any offense and I don't think he takes it that way. Neither of us speaks and I stare down at my feet as we walk down the alley. As we near the building, I look up to see Frohike standing in the open doorway. Apparently, it's Langley's turn at the hospital.

Frohike closes the door behind us and it's cool and dark and I have a feeling of home, like I could kick off my shoes and curl up on the couch. Home. I've been too far in too short a time. I've seen things and heard things that have changed how I feel and what I believe. But now I'm home. I think of a quote from Hamlet. *For this relief much thanks; 'tis bitter cold and I am sick at heart.*

Shakespeare. Fucking great. Maybe I'll do sonnets next. I'm so tired. And sick at heart.

"She won't help us," I say in my newly acquired dead voice, although I can't imagine that they can't read this on my face.

"His mother, his *mother* won't help us?" Byers asks in disbelief. "What happened?"

I shake my head. I can only repeat what I heard this morning one time in my life. Just once. To one person. "Guys, I know you deserve the whole story here, but I can't tell you what happened before I tell Mulder. I just can't. She just won't help us, okay?"

We lapse into an uncomfortable silence that Byers finally breaks. "Agent Scully," he says, almost hesitantly. "May I see the artifacts?" He looks barely able to contain himself, a look I've never seen on Byers. Frohike looks interested, too, although I think he's still troubled about why Mulder's mother won't help us.

I look down and see that I'm still clutching the strap of the bag tightly in my hands. Home, I'm home. I can let go for a while. I hand the bag to him and follow him and Frohike over to the worktable under the big light. We all stand around the table and look at it for a moment, as if uncertain as to who should be the one to open it. That's Mulder's job. Finally, I unzip the bag and push it toward Byers, and he pushes the flap back. Dr. Merkmallon's notebooks and the smaller pieces of the artifact are on top. Setting the notebooks aside, Byers unwraps one and Frohicke the other and they set them side by side under the bright light.

The tablet, uncovered, rests in the bottom of the bag and I can't look away from it. I reach for it and place my hands on its surface. It seems to vibrate under my fingers and sends a feeling of warmth up my arms.

*it's beautiful. see how beautiful. carved. symbols. shines. shines. not a rock. beautiful. it's warm. nice. i feel... i feel...*

Frohike slams down the lid to the case and I pull my hands back instinctively. I think I'm swaying and he grabs my waist and wrist and leads me to the couch. *wait, wait.*

"Take that in the next room," he tells Byers "This is what Corliss said happened when she opened the bag in Customs. He said she told him it was jetlag."

I watch Byers take it away with a pang of apprehension. It shouldn't be far away from me. I feel... I feel...

"Scully." Frohike is beside me and he looks worried. "Just relax. Just sit here a while."

...better. I feel better, rested. "No, Frohike..."

"You need to rest a while."

I shake my head. "No, I'm fine now."

"Fine-fine or Scully-fine?"

Mulder's been talking it seems. "Fine-fine," I reply and he looks at me doubtfully. "Really. I'm all right. Frohike, what are we going to do? I was counting on help from Mulder's mother. I'm at the end of my rope and we're running out of time."

He looks down at the floor and I can see that there's something going on in his head by the look on his face, but I don't know him well enough to read the expression. "Scully..." He pauses as if he doesn't quite know how to go on.

"Spill it, Melvin," I whisper. I don't want to hear it. I have to hear it.

"A few years ago," he says softly. "Mulder gave me a box to give to you if he... in case..." He gets up and goes to the big vault and comes out with a metal lock box. "He said to give it to you if he was dead or in so much trouble..."

He reaches out to offer it to me and I take it automatically, my eyes never leaving his. Reaching into the collar of his shirt, he draws out a chain with a key on it and hands it to me.

"Do you know what's in it?" I ask.

"No." He shakes his head. "Mulder said only you. He'd take it out every couple of months or so and check through it, I guess. Sometimes it looked like he changed things around or exchanged one thing for another."

I take the box over to the worktable and Frohike discreetly stays on the sofa across the room. Sitting on the high stool under the light, my hands shake so that I can barely fit the key into the lock. Finally, I get it in and twist it and the lid pops up slightly.

Opening it, resting atop two large envelopes, I find a letter size manila envelope with just the letter "S" scrawled big in Mulder's distinct handwriting. I pick it up and remove the letter inside, unfolding it with trembling hands.

*Dear Scully,

*The fact that you're reading this letter indicates that things are bad right now. I know you feel alone and scared. It's how I felt, too. But you're not alone. The guys are there and they'll help you. You can be sure of them. You can trust them. They'll do whatever they can because they know I will either haunt them or come back and kick their asses if they don't. And they know I won't hesitate to do either one.*

That brings a little smile to my face. Even now he can make me smile.

*There are two packets in the box. The first one is marked "A" and is stuff you'll need in the event of my death--will, insurance policies, bank information, stuff like that. There's also a video. Please don't watch it unless I'm dead and you're absolutely certain I'm dead. There are things in it that I need to explain to you face-to-face and I swear to you, if I'm alive, I will.

*Open the second one, "B," if I'm still alive but in big trouble. There's a second letter in that packet.

*I'm sorry, Scully, to have put you through whatever got you to this point. I know you'll do whatever is supposed to be done now. And what you do will be right. I know that with everything I am. I trust you.



Tears blur my vision and I can't suppress the shudder that passes through me as I take out the large envelopes. The first one says "A: Mulder is dead;" the second, "B: Mulder is alive but his shit's looking nasty." He probably thought that was funny at the time. I set Packet A aside, not even tempted to look at something with those words written on it.

If there's anything I can use to help Mulder, it's going to be in Packet B. I tear open the end of the envelope and pull out the sheaf of papers contained inside. Another letter size envelope, this one with no handwriting at all.

*If you had to open one of these packets, Scully, I'm glad it's this one. But I'm scared for you, too. At least if I were dead, there'd be a chance they'd leave you alone. But I've always had a tendency toward self-centeredness, so I'm glad you're reading this one.

*Wherever I am, I'm holding out hope that you'll be able to fix whatever's going on now and I hope some of what's in here helps. The first thing on the stack is a form granting you Durable Power of Attorney in any matter regarding me. If I'm sick, injured or missing, you have control of everything regarding me, including any and all medical and financial decisions. Attached to it are copies of the results of my latest Bureau physical and psych exams (March 1999) to prove that I was fit to name you as my agent. (That sounds nice. I've always wanted my very own agent.)*

I read the beginning of the form. "I, Fox William Mulder, the principal, of the City of Alexandria, in the County of Fairfax, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, appoint Dana Katherine Scully my attorney in fact and agent in my name and for my benefit." Three pages of legalese later, I come to a page with his signature and the signature and seal of a notary. I set it on the table to my right.

*Next is all the incorporation paperwork regarding Emesco. I know the guys have told you about the company by now. Leaving you my Power of Attorney also extends decision-making about Emesco to you. Use any funds or resources in any way you see fit. Byers knows the financial setup. I hope he's already explained some of it to you. If not, ask him to.*

I set the paperwork aside and I see it. Big, bold letters across the top. How could you miss it? Decree of Divorce. My hands are moving on their own because my mind certainly doesn't want to see this up close. My hands do it anyway. A divorce granted to Fox William Mulder from Diana Claire Fowley. I drop it as if it were on fire and reach for the letter again.

*Coward that I am, I saved this for last. I hope that, by some miracle, I've told you about this and just haven't had time to update this letter. But knowing me, there's probably not much chance of that. Please forgive me for not telling you about this. You don't know how many times I wanted to. But I'm such a fucking coward. But I swear to you, I will--if you'll let me. I'll tell you everything. I tried to do it on the video in the other packet, but I need to tell you to your face. If I may. I know a copy of my divorce decree won't do you much good in whatever I've gotten myself into, but I wanted you to have it as a promise that I will tell you everything. And that I won't keep anything from you again.

*I hope for a chance to talk to you about this but it would be understandable if you decide you can't do that. Do what's right for you, Scully.

*I'm sorry. For so many things.*

I don't even realize I've been breathing irregularly for the last few minutes until I vaguely hear Frohike say something about hyperventilation. Suddenly it's all I'm aware of as he rubs his hand up and down my back, a frightened expression on his face.

"Scully, calm down. What is it?"

I hold the paper in front of his face and my hands are shaking so much that my arms ache with it. "Did you know about this?"

"What?" He reaches out to still my hands so he can see what I've got.

"Did. you. know. about. this?" Each word succinct, exact, excruciating.

He takes it from me and looks at it and I can see his brow knit in confusion. "No," he whispers.

"You didn't know that they were married." He must have known. How could he not have known? How could I not have known?

"Scully, I swear. You think I wouldn't have told you about something like this?"

I see the hurt on his face, but I'm so incredibly angry, enraged. "You're Mulder's friend."

"I thought I was yours, too." His voice has fallen quiet and I see that I've hurt him. My anger cools a little and I touch his arm, hoping he knows it as an apology. "Scully, I never would have let you do that background check on Diana not knowing that she was his wife. His wife. Jesus." He shakes his head, unable to believe it, as I am.

"All these years and he never told me." I speak more to myself than to Frohike and I take the paper away from him. I didn't look at it too closely before. The final decree was issued on February 28, 1995. Oh God, oh God. "He was legally married for almost the entire first two years we were partners." This fact is incomprehensible to me and I place the decree on the table, hardly able to stand to touch it.

He touches my hand briefly. "Scully, I'm sor..."

"You knew them back then. You guys knew them. And you didn't know they were married?" I shake my head in disbelief.

"No," he insists. "Not even a clue. We knew they were involved. We told you that the first time you asked us about her. But married? His file..." He stops as if unsure whether he should go on.

"What?" I prompt.

"When we first met him, we hacked into the FBI database to check him out." He looks at me sheepishly. "His file said he was single. Like I said, we knew they were involved, but we thought it was just a convenience thing, you know? They worked together, bizarre hours, not much chance to meet anyone else. Married...jeez. No way."

"Frohike, the information on the database is just what we give them. If he and Diana were married, it would have been a lot easier for them if the Bureau didn't know about it. Why is this so hard for you to believe?"

"It's hard to explain." He rubs his chin. "It's the way they were. I just never got that kind of vibes from them. It didn't seem like they even especially liked one another all that much. But it's not like they disliked each other, either. It just seemed... convenient. But hell, maybe I just missed it. Mulder was harder to read in those days."

"What do you mean?"

"When we first met him, Mulder was still profiling. And he was the best there was, maybe ever. I don't know if all the Spooky Mulder stories you might have heard at the Academy were true, but I can tell you he was an awesome profiler. But, you know, I think the Bureau bigwigs were so busy patting themselves on the back for his success and pushing him for more that they didn't see what it was doing to him. He'd go into their minds all right but to do it, he had to let them go into his. And each time, I think he lost a little bit of himself. He was never the same person from one time we'd see him to the next."

A cold chill runs down my back. I've seen Mulder in profiling mode. And it scares me because I know that when he does it, he gives up more than a little bit of himself.

"Things got better when they started working on the X-Files. It was better for him to do more straight field work, if that's what you call working on the stuff that you do," he says with a shake of his head. "But there was still something about him. Once they found the files and things started going strange, it was like he became driven. No, more than driven. I don't know a word for it... relentless, maybe. But even more than that. Nothing mattered and nobody could get in his way. It didn't matter where he had to go or what he had to do to get information. Anywhere, anytime. He got beat up in more dark alleys following false leads. But he didn't care. He'd just get patched up and go on to the next one. Man, he had us going all the time and we didn't have anything like the equipment we have now. But if we weren't fast enough for him, he'd come in here and ream our asses. He could be a real prick."

"So why did you keep doing stuff for him?"

Frohike pauses to think about that one. "I don't know," he says softly. "At first it was because the stuff he gave us was always golden. Our readership on *The Lone Gunman* tripled because of him. His stuff was good, reliable, and scary as hell. And I think maybe that's why we kept it up, too. Because it was starting to look like he might be right and if that was the case, people had to know. We just couldn't sit back and let it happen.

"But anyway, back to Mulder. That's another reason I can't believe they were married. I mean, there were times when we found out information that didn't gel with what she'd found out. She didn't like us much anyway, but when that happened it really pissed her off. Well, if Mulder found out that she'd given him the wrong stuff, he'd ream her ass, too. He just didn't care. Nothing was as important as the mission."

I remember the day I met him. "He told me that once when I was first assigned to work with him," I say. Don't think about that. I look down at the divorce decree again and my anger flares anew. I page through them reading a word here, a phrase there, until I come to the section about grounds for the divorce. Abandonment. The word sends a twinge through my heart. Abandonment, abandoned. "What happened after she left?"

"You know, we didn't even know about it till two or three weeks after it happened. Mulder kept coming by without her, which happened on occasion because, like I said, we weren't her favorite people. But then we noticed that he was always coming by without her. When we asked, he said she'd transferred to Berlin. I don't know if he ever would have mentioned it if we hadn't asked."

This surprises me. "You mean he didn't act any differently?"

"Not that I noticed then," Frohike replies. "Maybe if I thought about it now, he might have been a little quieter than usual but it was nothing I saw then. He just kept working, kept digging, charging in no matter what and not afraid of anything. But on him, it wasn't like bravery, it was like not giving a shit about what happened to himself."

I nod, knowing what he means. I got that feeling from Mulder when we first started working together and it terrified me. So much so, that there were a couple of times that I'd almost requested a transfer. I went so far as to fill out the paperwork once. Because they teach you at Quantico that a partner who doesn't give a shit about himself is dangerous. Like a partner who doesn't give you all the information. He didn't tell me, that son of a bitch didn't tell me. I can't think past that. He didn't tell me.

I must not have my best poker face on because Frohike says, "I know he should have told you. He should have told you. But maybe he couldn't."

"Couldn't," I repeat dully.

"Look, Scully, Mulder is my friend. And I'm his, and I think maybe that's why he asked me to give this stuff to you. I know it's not my place to butt in here..." He hesitates and I think he's looking for permission to go on.

"But..." I prompt.

"Mulder's not the same man he used to be. Not for a long time now and you know that. Used to be, he wasn't afraid of anything. Now he is. He's afraid of losing you." He looks down, shifting back and forth on the balls of his feet.

"I know that, Frohike," I answer. "He's somehow gotten it into his head that he won't do this without me."

He looks at me with scorn, something I've never seen him direct at me before. "You two...," he says with an exasperated sigh. "It's not that he won't do with without you, Scully, it's that he can't. He can't do it without you." Frohike's angry--with me.

And I'm pissed, too. I'm pissed that he can stand here and defend Mulder's keeping me in the dark. "And what brings you to that conclusion?" I'm yelling at Frohike. I'm yelling at my friend.

And he's yelling back. "Because I watched him while you were gone. I watched him watch you dying--twice. I saw what it did to him. It was bad enough when they almost made him lose you, but if he lost you because of something he did..."

And I have no answer for that. Only a pain in my heart that knocks the breath out of me.

"Scully," he goes on, more gently this time. "Used to be Mulder didn't give a shit about anything. Now he gives a shit about you. And about himself. For you. He cares about you--more than anything--because you've cared about him. And I don't think that's happened much in his life. Sometimes when you're in love you do stupid shit--mostly out of fear. Sometimes you do stupid things, or things that look stupid to other people but they're the only things you can do. Stupid things. Like breaking into Department of Defense facilities. Like getting yourself locked up for contempt of Congress. Like hauling your ass from a hospital bed to drag it across half of Antarctica. Like flying halfway around the world to dig in the sand looking for something that would fit in the palm of your hand." He turns away and goes back to his seat.

*Sometimes when you're in love... Sometimes when you're in love... Agent Scully's already in love... I'm glad he has you to love him...*

I look back down at the decree. There are several sheets of paper stapled together, and I page through them. After the decree itself, there are copies of legal notices of intent to divorce from the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune, and newspapers in Paris, Frankfurt, and Berlin. He had to post legal notices in order to file for divorce on the grounds of abandonment. Abandoned. He had to announce in major world newspapers that he had been abandoned. Again. How must that have felt?

I turn back to the signature page. Finalized February 28, 1995. Filed August 28, 1994. Six month waiting period for divorce for abandonment. I try to recall what we were doing around that time but it seems like forever ago. February 1995 doesn't bring up anything outstanding in my mind. Three months since I'd come back to work. Six months after my abduction. Six month waiting period. I look at the filing date again--August 28, 1994. Three weeks to the day after I disappeared. The check I wrote at the market that night was dated August 7, 1994. Three weeks after I disappeared. Abandonment.

Flipping the pages closed, I notice a note in the lower right hand corner, in Mulder's handwriting. *Copy to Diana 5/22/98.* May 22, 1998. I know that date. The day before the fire in the office. He gave her a copy of the decree on May 22, the day she got shot. When it was her turn to watch Gibson. Did she come to the motel to relieve me directly from talking to him? I don't remember looking at her when she came in that evening. I was still too upset by what Gibson had told me.

*You don't care what anyone thinks. Except her.*

They brought her back here to distract him, to come between us. And when that didn't work...

Suddenly all of this makes awful sense to me. I have to get to Mulder.

"Frohike, where's your copier? We need three copies of the Power of Attorney and the divorce decree. Get Byers and tell him to bring the artifacts. One of us has to stay with the artifacts at all times. We've got to get to the hospital right now."

We scatter and are ready to go in a flash. At the door, Byers hands me my badge and holstered weapon. I'd left it with them before going to the Ivory Coast. I clip the holster to the back of my jeans and pull my shirt down over it. As always, it feels reassuring there.

We head for their old VW bus parked in a space off the alley. I climb into the back and Byers and Frohike are in front, Melvin driving. Byers turns to me and I see he has the bag with the artifacts clutched to him in his lap. "What is it?"

"I know why Diana's running the show there," I reply. "They think she's his wife. She could show them proof of marriage and she didn't show them proof of divorce. Once the observation period is over, she can have him transferred anywhere she wants him. Anywhere *they* want him. And till then, they'd have to run all his treatment options through her. She's in control."

We have to get to Mulder. Drive, Frohike!

I've prayed so much in the last few days but I do it one more time and ask God to let it not be too late. *He promised me an explanation. He promised.* Please don't let it be too late.

It can't be too late. Everything must still be okay. Langley would have called if anything were going on.

And suddenly Byers' cell phone rings and I feel my heart stop.


Continue to Chapter Nine.