|Primary Characters:||Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Krycek, Melissa, Marita, Jeffrey Spender|
|Warning:||f/m sex, rape, violence|
|Description:||Mulder goes missing, and only Krycek can help find him and bring him back.|
Whenever Mulder returned to his own apartment, he was struck by how bleak and lonely it was. In the past he had never even reflected on that. It was just a place he returned to for sleeping and watching some tv, or checking out some porn. When he and Scully had finally dared to move on to the next stage in their relationship, he had without regrets thrown out the collection of pornography.
To the old Mulder those had been a necessity. Today he felt he was a new man with other interests in life. At times he even allowed himself to dream about a normal, un-spooky life, with a wife and children. And he knew Dana wanted that too, one day.
He inserted the key in the lock and turned it, his mind on other things. Even so, as soon as the door swung open he focused on the dark, empty room inside. The place appeared to be undisturbed. He switched on the light and dropped the week’s crop of junk mail on the table.
His fish tank seemed to be ok. He sprinkled some of the freeze dried food into it, thoughtfully observing the exotic fish swimming back and forth, once in a while shooting towards the surface to grab a bite of food. Now that he hardly ever spent time in the apartment, he should move the fish tank over to Dana’s place. Even if one of his colleagues should wonder about the transfer, he might pass it off as a gift. A guy could tire of his pets, couldn’t he? At least when the pets were fish.
There was a slight noise from the direction of the door. Immediately, Mulder froze, and began reaching for his gun. The paranoia that was one of his trademarks hadn’t lessened over the years. Now he saw an envelope being pushed under the door. Gun in hand, Mulder ran for the door.
Outside in the hallway, he remained standing, staring in one direction after the other. No one was around. Should he pursue the messenger, or leave it? After a few seconds of consideration, he returned inside and hurried over to the window overlooking the street. The street was quiet at this time of night.
It was time he returned to Dana. She’d be in bed waiting for him. Whoever had brought him the envelope must have used another exit. Maybe he was losing it, but these days his life’s work meant a little less to him. What could mean more to a man than his family and his lover? His family was now gone, but his lover had assumed the paramount position of importance in his life.
But when he opened the envelope he momentarily forgot about Dana. The information was about a woman who had been abducted by aliens, returned, and from then on her life had been ruined.
An all too familiar story, but something about it reminded Mulder painfully of his sister. He knew that he wanted to follow up on this lead. Right now he ignored the obvious question of who had sent him the information. After all, he often relied on anonymous informants.
His dilemma was should he call Dana and tell her, or should he just catch a flight out to California and meet this woman first thing in the morning? If he told Dana, he knew what she would say.
And normally, he would agree with her. It was no use resurrecting Samantha’s ghost. He had suffered enough over the years, agonizing over his sister’s fate. But this abductee was in many ways similar to Samantha. Even the age was about the same.
But he knew he couldn’t go off without speaking to Dana. She would never forgive him if he did. When he had gone off on the wild goose chase that had led to his saving Krycek, she had seemed quite upset with him, and he knew it was no good repeating the offense. He didn’t really want to be on the receiving end of her anger, no matter how appealing the thought of her in her stern mood.
So he picked up his cell phone and dialled her number. As always, she answered right away, saying his name. Hearing her do this always made his breath catch in his throat. At times, he even let her call him Fox, when they were alone. It helped subduing the memories of someone else saying that name in a far less loving tone.
“Mulder? What are you doing? If you’re not back here in -“
“I’m sorry, darling, something’s come up. A lead on a case.”
“What case? We’re not working any important cases right now.”
“Ok, not a current case. I got this information about an abductee and I thought -“
This time the word implied less loving possessiveness and more disapproval. For a second he almost wavered in his resolve. Wouldn’t it be much nicer to just drive back to her place and get under the covers with her? He could always fly out first thing in the morning. But if he did, he might discover the witness had vanished like so many times before.
“I’m really sorry. But this seems important. It reminds me of -“
“I know what it reminds you of. But I thought we’d agreed to leave the past alone.”
“I know. It’s just that -“
“You’ve made up your mind and there’s no changing it? Suit yourself.”
The chill in her voice hurt, and he wanted to find a way of making her see the necessity of following up on this lead. Her approval meant the world to him. And now he had disappointed her once again.
“Ok. Watch your back, and come back to me as soon as you can. Now I need to sleep. I have an autopsy first thing in the morning.”
“I promise. I’ll call you from the airport and later when I’m done interviewing the witness.”
“Hm. Take care, Mulder.”
This had gone better than he had expected, but he wasn’t foolish enough to think this was the end of the matter. When he returned there would be some repercussions. But he had his ways of swaying her, at least after she’d given him a piece of her mind.
That taken care of, Mulder’s thoughts returned to the file he held in his hands. He drove out to the airport and was able to get a first class ticket for a flight leaving about two hours later. The waiting period he spent going over the file again.
For some reason, Mulder felt that this particular abductee might provide him with a vital missing piece to the puzzle. He might have put Samantha’s shade to rest, but he still harbored wild hopes that he might one day find the solution to the problem. A girl couldn’t just disappear off the face of the earth without a single trace.
Oh, who was he kidding? In his work he saw that kind of thing pretty much every day. Boys too. Men, women, children. Anyone could and did disappear never to be heard from again. But he refused to face that chilling truth and concentrated on this particular witness.
Back in her apartment, Dana frowned at the receiver as she put it down. This was so like Mulder. At times she even questioned her decision to let him into her bed. There was more to a relationship than sex, and frankly there was more to it even than love. If he didn’t learn some responsibility and commitment soon…
Despite her declaration of intending to go to sleep right away, she spent hours tossing and turning, worrying about Mulder and in her mind she formulated a little speech she would treat her lover to on his return.
When the clock radio went off, Dana felt as if she hadn’t slept a wink. She rushed into the bathroom for a quick shower, grabbed a glass of orange juice on the way through the kitchen and finally hurried down to her car. It wasn’t exactly that she was running late, but she knew that on a morning like this, after a bad night, she needed to hurry or she would end up late.
The autopsy wasn’t a success, but at least she got through the day.
Off and on, especially while she was typing in the report, she cast a worried glance at her cell phone. It wasn’t low on battery, but there hadn’t been any call from Mulder in all the time since his departure. Either he’d forgotten about his promise to call her on arrival in California, or his cell phone had given out.
But if that was the case, he could at least have found another phone. Back in the office, she checked the answering service, but there were no messages of any importance, and above all, nothing at all from Mulder.
Already her anger was giving way to concern. He never did this to her anymore. Never. Wherever he went away on any kind of case, he always called her back, just like she would call him in her turn. Not that they usually worked cases apart. That’s what being partners was about.
At the end of the day she was tired, worried and very downcast. It was amazing how soon you got used to things. Six months ago, she was still secretly pining for Mulder. Today she had begun to take him for granted. Apparently, she had been lulled into a false sense of security.
In the parking garage, outside her car, she contemplated her next move. She could go back to her place, and force herself to have something to eat, or she could go over to Mulder’s apartment and see if he’d left anything lying around that might provide a clue to his silence.
In the end she chose the latter. How could she relax when Mulder wasn’t with her?
She hadn’t expected to find anything and that was just as well. The place was a lot tidier than when Mulder was living there, but it was also completely devoid of clues. All she found was the junk mail Mulder must have left on the table and forgotten to chuck into the recycling bin on his way out.
An hour later, she was back in her own apartment. Still worried, and now that worry was touching on panic. It was too soon to react that way, she tried to tell herself, but she had a premonition that something was wrong. Very wrong.
At that point, she found herself lifting the receiver, dialling Skinner’s number. She hated that weak, dependent reaction in herself. Whenever she needed help she turned to her “father figure”. Why? She was perfectly capable of dealing with this herself, she was a grown woman and –
“Yes, Dana. Is there a problem?”
“I’m not sure. Mulder left last night for California and he promised to call -”
She broke off in mid-sentence, disgusted with herself. There she was, sounding like a teenager, rather than a seasoned professional. But Skinner didn’t appear to find anything odd about her agitation.
His encouraging tone helped her calm down enough to give him the rest of the relevant information in a level tone of voice. After she had finished outlining the bare facts, she paused, waiting for a reaction.
“Hm. He always calls you, doesn’t he?”
“Normally, I’d say this isn’t cause for alarm, but in our line of business it pays to be prepared for anything. I’ll make a few calls to the San Diego field office and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
“Thanks, Walter. I really appreciate this.”
“Don’t mention it. After all, what are friends for?”
That warmed her. Despite all the heartache the A D had been through in the past months, Scully felt that they had indeed become closer as friends, not merely as an agent and her direct superior.
It took him about an hour and a half to call her back, and as she had suspected, he didn’t have any news for her. With a few words that were meant to be encouraging, Skinner hung up, suggesting that she get some sleep. That was easier said than done.
Nervously, she ambled out into the kitchen, where she made herself a sandwich, which she left virtually untouched. The sleepless night had left her totally exhausted so eventually she fell into a fitful sleep, waking up several times during the night, listening for imagined phone calls.
When she finally gave up the fight to stay in bed around 5 in the morning, she had come to a decision. It wasn’t a course of action she relished, but if there was any chance she might get some info about Mulder’s whereabouts, she would do it.
Mulder might appreciate his weird friends and their sense of humor, but she didn’t. Despite that, she knew she could rely on them for help in an emergency, and that was what counted.
After calling in sick at work, not without a touch of guilt, she put on jeans, a t-shirt and a sports jacket, grabbed her purse and was about to slam the door shut behind her, when the phone rang. Her heart took a leap in her chest, but the voice at the other end of the line was Skinner’s.
“Oh, hello, Walter. Have you had any news?”
“I’m afraid not. You haven’t either?”
“No. But I’m going to see Frohike and co.”
“I’m going with you.”
“Ok. See you there?”
Somehow, she felt better about seeing those three with Skinner to back her up. Maybe, at least she hoped so, that would keep the tasteless jokes to a minimum. As always, she felt like a fool, doing the special sequence of knocks. She suspected that this was all due to the special brand of humor of the three musketeers and not any real necessity.
“Scully. Skinner. Live long and prosper.”
“Nice to see you too.”
“I’m guessing this isn’t a social call, delightful as it is to see you.”
“Have you had any news about Mulder?”
“Mulder? No. But we just got some very interesting information about mutations in tadpoles near nuclear power plants in Russia.”
“Sounds fascinating, but are you sure you have no idea where Mulder is?”
“I thought you’d know where he was.”
The look Langly gave Scully made her want to turn and slam the door in his leering face, but she controlled herself with an effort.
“Sadly no. Hence this unexpected visit to you.”
“Sorry. Nothing about Mulder. However – Walter, this might interest you especially.”
Skinner had no more fondness for Mulder’s odd friends than Scully did. His voice was decidedly cool. But Frohike didn’t seem to notice. He was beaming mischievously at the A D.
“It’s about Krycek.”
“Oh? Why should that interest me?”
Now they all grinned broadly, making Skinner wish he hadn’t asked the question.
“Just a wild guess. And these surveillance recordings that we – uh – accidentally picked up. Very steamy stuff.”
Skinner felt a hot flush suffuse his normally so stoic features. This simply couldn’t be happening. No wonder poor Krycek had fallen out with his employers over this. But worse still, what if Kersh had somehow gotten wind of it? He could find himself out of a job, as well as losing whatever shreds of reputation he still had left after working so long with Mr and Mrs Spooky, as his friends were known to their colleagues.
“Yes, well, what about him?”
“He seems – uh – to be – uh – shacked up with someone.”
“How nice for him.”
Skinner didn’t think he was fooling anyone, least of all Scully, but he tried to appear unperturbed by the astonishing revelation. To his knowledge, Krycek had never been – ‘uh – shacked up’ with anyone before.
“Perhaps we should try to get in touch with Alex, Walter. He might be able to help locate Mulder.”
Her boss didn’t know what to say, but their hosts appeared to find her suggestion an excellent idea.
“If you come back tomorrow night, we might have the address for you, or at least we should have been able to make contact with him – uh – them.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it. Hold it, not that grateful.”
“Doesn’t hurt to try.”
This time it was Langly who had tried to make the improper suggestion, but it just as often happened to be Frohike. To Scully’s relief, the more quiet, bearded man, Byers always behaved like a perfect gentleman around her. She wasn’t exactly sure why that was. Didn’t he find her attractive? Or was he otherwise engaged? Was he simply not into women? Considering his mild-mannered ways, it might simply be that his upbringing prevented him from acting rudely around any lady. She thought that might be the explanation, or that he was already spoken for.
Either way, the idea of contacting Krycek made her feel a little better. Last year the thought that the Russian might actually be of help to her would have been absurd. Now she felt that the more of her friends that came to her aid the better. They would all need to work together to find Mulder.
The rest of the day didn’t turn up any leads, and towards evening, Skinner asked her if she would like him to spend the night at her place. Her first impulse was to turn down the offer, then she paused to reconsider. It would be comforting to have someone else in the apartment. And since they were now devoting their energies full time to the task of finding Mulder, having her boss nearby would make things easier.
“If it isn’t any trouble -”
“Nonsense. I’ll just sleep on the couch out here -”
“No, absolutely not. I’ll make up the guest room. It’s no trouble at all.”
“In that case, I’ll go back to my own place and pick up a few things.”
“You do that. I’ll call for takeout. Any requests?”
“Anything will do. Italian?”
“Ok. And Walter -”
“Are you carrying a gun?”
“Good. I know it’s just paranoia but I feel a lot better when I know I’ve got mine within easy reach.”
“I’ll bring some extra ammo just in case.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it. I’ll go through my ammo too, to make sure.”
She had been right, it did feel a lot better to have someone close by. Not to have to go through this alone helped. Not much, but at least it was some comfort. She knew she could rely on Skinner and that thought warmed her.
Saturday passed excruciatingly slowly. None of their contacts had anything useful to offer, and though she had taken the precaution of calling in sick for Mulder too, she knew it was only a matter of time before Kersh began making trouble. Skinner could only cover for them for so long.
Finally, the day turned into evening. They were expected at around 8.30. Again, Scully couldn’t help wonder if this was strictly necessary, or if the time was decided merely on a whim. But in this situation she didn’t feel as she could question their benefactors too closely. After all, she was the one who had turned to them for help.
“There you are. We managed to get a hold of Alex and he’s coming to see you. Some time tonight probably. And he’ll bring his – uh – friend. I believe it’s someone you know, Dana.”
“Really? What about Mulder? Haven’t you heard anything about him?”
“No. Sorry. Nothing so far. But we’re keeping our eyes and ears open. As soon as we hear anything, you’ll be the first to know.”
“I appreciate it. Now I really think we should -”
They were interrupted by a knock on the door. Everyone’s eyes turned in that direction. Since their hosts didn’t appear at all concerned, Scully arrived at the conclusion that their new visitor was expected. Surely it couldn’t be Krycek already?
It wasn’t. The man who opened the door at Byers’ encouragement, wasn’t anyone she had ever seen before. He was exactly the sort of man you’d expect to run into at these three weirdos’ place. With two exceptions. To begin with he was quite attractive in a, well, weird sort of way. Secondly, if Scully wasn’t completely mistaken, he was also gay. There was something slightly un-masculine about him, the way he moved, the way he talked.
“Hi there, Lance. Live long and prosper. This is Walter and Dana.”
“Hello. Live long and prosper.”
“Well, it was nice talking to you, guys, but we really need to get going. I need to get back to the phone. Nice to meet you, Lance.”
She didn’t even want to contemplate what kind of research he was helping them with.
“There’s no rush, is there? We have some really fascinating pictures of an autopsy that I believe you’ll find interesting, Dana. And Walter, maybe you’d like to get to know Lance a little better.”
Lance was smiling in an unmistakably provocative way at Skinner. No way, this couldn’t be happening. Could these three weirdos actually have taken it upon themselves to arrange a date for Skinner? Scully saw that her boss had come to the same conclusion, judging by the color his face was turning.
If it hadn’t been for her concerns and her loyalty to her boss, she would have found the idea amusing. Now she merely saw it as another distraction. Before Skinner had time to say anything, even assuming he would have anything to say, she cleared her throat to find an acceptably polite way of turning down the invitation.
“Thanks, but we’re going to have to take a raincheck. Keep those pictures for me, or better still email them to me. I’d love to take a look later.”
Much later. Like after retirement.
Lance didn’t appear to be much perturbed by her refusal to stay. He obviously expected an answer from Skinner, not her. His eyes were peeled to the older man, in a way Scully could tell Skinner found infuriating. What was she going to do now? Obviously Frohike or most likely Langly had explained Skinner’s situation to this Lance guy.
But so what? This was the new millennium. A man could change his mind, couldn’t he? So she determinedly took a step closer to her boss, praying he wouldn’t be offended by what she was about to do. This was for his own good, after all.
She laced her fingers into his. For a second she thought he was going to jump two feet away from her. Then it seemed to dawn on him what she was doing, and there was an answering pressure from his strong hand. He even moved an inch or so closer to her.
“Well, Walter and I have to go now. It was nice seeing you all.”
Lance’s face fell, as he took in the possessive gesture. Skinner looked away from him and tried to fix an appreciative gaze on Scully’s face. There was nothing wrong with the way she looked. In fact, he had always found her quite attractive, but right now acting wasn’t his top priority. This could easily be counted among his more embarrassing moments.
As they made for the door, no one tried to stop them. At last. Once in the hallway outside, they hastily let go and moved apart. It was a while before Skinner found his voice. Scully hadn’t actually expected him to comment on the scene inside the apartment. That was a measure of how close they had become.
“That was quick thinking. Thanks. I – uh – appreciate you help.”
“Don’t mention it. Like you said the other night, what are friends for?”
They returned to her apartment, to continue waiting by the phone. By now, neither one of them seriously expected Mulder to call. What they didn’t even want to contemplate was what might be keeping him. Not knowing when Krycek might eventually turn up, they didn’t feel like getting any sleep. They picked at the leftovers from last night’s takeout dinner without much enthusiasm.
It was long after midnight, when the phone rang. At first Scully froze to the spot. What if this was some information about Mulder? Did she really want to know? But she forced herself to act normally and held out a hand that wasn’t shaking at all to pick up the phone.
“Yes, it’s me. I’m in the neighborhood and I’ll come up in about five minutes. If you could let me in right away -”
“Yes, of course. Are you – uh – alone?”
There was a pause on the other end.
“No. Dana, I think you need to be prepared for a bit of a shock.”
“Is it about Mulder?”
“No. I’m sorry. I don’t know where Mulder is. No, that’s not quite true. I have an idea about that, but I’ll tell you later. This is about the person with me. It’s – actually, I think it’s better if you see for yourself.”
“A shock? What kind of shock?”
Again, a pause, but Krycek’s voice sounded quite cheerful, so Scully tried to relax.
“Actually quite a good kind of shock, I think. See you soon.”
“Wait, Alex. Walter’s here.”
Only a slight pause at the other end of the line betrayed Krycek’s feelings about seeing Skinner again.
As she put the receiver down, Scully cast a look in Skinner’s direction. The look of strain caused her a moment’s concern, but she was unable to focus on it for long. Krycek had had an idea about what might have happened to Mulder.
If only that turned out to be true. With Skinner and Krycek to help her, she was sure she would be able to get her lover back. If he was still alive. But resolutely, she repressed that thought. One thing at a time.
Even though she was prepared for the visit, the sound of the door bell ringing almost made her jump. She ran for the door, only taking time to take a look through the peephole. Yes, it was Krycek alright, and behind him a woman. Something about her seemed familiar, but Scully didn’t have time to wonder about it for long.
She opened the door, and let the two visitors inside. Seeing Krycek again was surprisingly reassuring. Scully gave him a quick hug, but as she did so, her eyes fell on the face of his companion. She went cold all over. This wasn’t happening. Backing away nervously, she reached for her gun.
“Don’t come any closer. Alex, what are you doing with this – this – clone?”
The woman was looking at her anxiously, eagerly. And now she opened her mouth to say something. Scully wouldn’t stand for it. What could Alex have been thinking, bringing a replica of her dead sister? How cruel, how –
“Dana, it’s no clone. It’s -”
“It can’t be. I saw her dead body.”
“Dana, I know this is confusing, but it really is me. What you saw was a clone.”
“Stay where you are. Keep your hands where I can see them. Walter. Come and take a look at this.”
She heard, rather than saw her boss approaching the hall. The sound of his indrawn breath told her that he too had taken stock of the situation.
“Dana, please. It’s me. Look. No weapons. Please don’t pull a gun on me. I’m kind of allergic to those things right now.”
Now Krycek was trying to reassure her, but it was a while before any of his words sunk in.
“I know how this looks, but remember, I told you I met Melissa before? And since then, I’ve had a chance to look even closer. I swear to you, though I know my word might not count for much, that it really is her. Her blood is as red as yours or mine. And Dana – I wasn’t the one who injured her, honestly.”
“Melissa? Is it really you? I can’t believe it.”
The woman with the red hair slowly walked closer. Her eyes seemed to project reassurance, joy, love. But Dana had a hard time believing. She wasn’t like Mulder. Still, she didn’t walk away.
The other woman was now so close that she could smell her perfume. It was Melissa’s favorite, but that didn’t prove a thing. Now the woman leaned closer, so close that she was able to whisper something into Dana’s ear.
It was a while before Dana could take it in, but finally she relaxed. If this woman knew that –
“You see. I’m the only one who knows.”
She was right. This had been one of their most cherished secrets as adolescents. No one else could possibly know. Not even mom. Certainly not Mulder, Skinner or Krycek. So how could a hostile clone have gained access to this? Even if they’d managed to torture Melissa, they would have had no way of asking for this particular piece of information.
And the two women fell into each other’s arms. The two men backed off into the living room. If the atmosphere in there didn’t exactly lose any of the strain, at least they could give the two sisters their privacy at this emotional moment.
That seemed to be the extent of the conversation they could manage. It was hard even to make eye contact. Finally, Skinner made an effort to say the things that had been on his mind since their breakup.
“Alex, I – What I wanted to say is that I hope you’re ok.”
“Thanks. I’m getting better. Meeting Melissa has helped. I’ll explain about that later. When Dana’s here.”
“I guess those three morons informed you about Mulder’s disappearance?”
“Yes. And I think I know something that might be of use. But I’ll go into that when Dana’s back.”
There didn’t seem to be much else to say. Skinner didn’t think it was any use telling this beautiful young man how much he missed him, how much he still loved him. Besides, no matter how happy the reunion must have made the two sisters, the sense of urgency drove them back to the two men in the living room before much time had passed.
Krycek could see that Melissa had been crying and he wanted to reach out and hold her, but he knew that she wasn’t sad, just overwhelmed by the joy of finally being back with her sister. Besides, holding anyone wasn’t exactly his forte right now, emotionally or physically. Still, Melissa walked right up to him and sat down at his side. Dana’s face was harder to read. She didn’t sit down, just walked closer to her guests.
“Alex, you said you had some idea about what might have happened to Mulder?”
“Yes. But first, I guess I should explain how Melissa and I met?”
Taking the silence that greeted this question as encouragement, Krycek went on to tell Dana and Skinner about how Melissa had ended up on his doorstep, changing his life forever. Not that he had any way of conveying how much this woman had come to mean to him in such a short time. He then went on to describe parts of his encounter with Spender.
“So, I’m afraid there’s a good chance Spender’s after Mulder.”
“I guess he’s following in his father’s footsteps after all. Do you have any idea where we might find him?”
“Not right now. But I know where to go for that information.”
“Ok. Let’s go.”
“Hold on. First of all, I think we’re all tired. I’ve been driving all night, with Melissa taking turns. You two look like you haven’t had a moment’s sleep for days. Besides, you can’t come. I’ll have to do this alone. There’s a risk -”
Here Melissa broke in.
“If you’re placing yourself in danger by going to see this person, I can’t let you do it.”
This was a total surprise. When Dana realized that Krycek’s companion was her sister, she had immediately forgotten about the original suggestion about Krycek’s relationship to the woman he was allegedly shacked up with. Now she realized that Mulder’s three weird friends had been correct in their assumption. For some reason she was immensely pleased for both her sister and the troubled Russian.
Krycek smiled affectionately at Melissa before going on.
“It will be dangerous if I take anyone with me. I know this guy and I can get the information quite easily.”
“You’re right about one thing. Melissa can’t go. Walter, will you stay here and watch her for me?”
“Hang on, Dana. I don’t need a babysitter. In all the time since we last met, I’ve been managing alright on my own.”
“Dana, I can’t take you with me either. You’d be too conspicuous where we’re going.”
“No women allowed. It’s a Russian orthodox monastery.”
“Are you serious?”
“Of course. My informant is a former KGB operative. I don’t know if his conversion is genuine or not. It doesn’t really matter. I just can’t bring a woman there. You’d stand out a mile. You too, Melissa.”
“But I can go with you.”
Dana and Melissa spoke at once, like they used to when they were children. It felt good to be together again.
Krycek opened his mouth to say something, then shut it again. He didn’t want Walter to come along, but he couldn’t find any good excuse to turn his offer down. It was obvious that Walter was serious. This was no attempt to make a pass at him or anything like that. And if it had been anyone else, he would have appreciated the company.
His days of working alone were over. To be perfectly safe that way, you needed among other things, two healthy arms, not to mention the killer instinct he had lost along the way. It might have been replaced by increasing peace of mind, but it was undeniable that it had left him more vulnerable to attack.
“Ok. You can come. But like I said, we should all try to get some sleep, before Walter and I take off for Colorado. We couldn’t come barging in at any hour. That place is a regular Fort Knox.”
“Then I’ll fix up the guest room for you, Alex. Melissa, would you like to sleep in my room? I’m sorry I don’t have another room, Walter, but I hope the couch will do for just one night.”
“Absolutely. Don’t worry about it.”
“No, I wouldn’t dream of making you sleep out here, Walter. I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“No, Alex, I’ll be perfectly fine. You take the bed.”
Melissa and Dana giggled elatedly. Just like old times.
“So, shall we leave the guys to sort things out for themselves? This is bringing back memories. Pajama party. Do you have any cookies, Dana?”
“I’ll check. But I doubt it. I don’t do much shopping these days. Not like mom. Alright, let’s go. We have some catching up to do. And we’ll need to decide if we’re going to call mom or not.”
Ignoring the embarrassment the two men were facing in the living room, the two sisters disappeared into Dana’s room.
“Will this t-shirt do, Melissa?”
“To sleep in.”
“Oh, sure. Actually, I brought everything I have. It’s down in the car. I’ll get it tomorrow. Do you have a spare toothbrush?”
“Always. Don’t worry about it. Anything you want, I’ll get it tomorrow.”
“Finally. You don’t know how much I’ve missed you and mom.”
“I’ve missed you too, Missy. Terribly. About mom -”
“I know. I should tell her, shouldn’t I?”
“Yes. But I’m thinking we should wait until we’ve found Mulder. If we tell her now, we’ll only have to leave her alone again. So would you mind terribly if you don’t get to see her for a while?”
“No. You’re right. I can wait a while longer. Besides, seeing me might put her at risk. The – the people who abducted me have been chasing me all this time. I have a feeling they don’t want me to talk to you or mom.”
“I’d say you’re right. Never mind. Since I started working the X files I haven’t been exactly safe anyway. But there’s no way I’m giving you up again, Missy. These past couple of years have been hell without you.”
“Tell me about it. I’ve been lying awake worrying about you and mom, and Fox.”
“We couldn’t go back to being apart, but it might be time to move on. Find a safer location. You must know what happened to Alex, and now Mulder’s missing too. We’re not safe anymore, none of us are.”
“Are you serious? Could you give up the X files?”
“Yes and no. I could give up working for the FBI. My other work, my real work, is a different matter. But if we live somewhere safe – like I suspect Alex does, and you too – then we might be able to continue.”
Melissa nodded in agreement.
“After what those people did to us, all of us, I want to do something too.”
Dana stared at her sister in astonishment. Her peaceable sister, working against the alien conspirators?
“Of course I want to be a part of your work. We’ve come too far to make any distinctions between your life and mine. Whatever happens to you happens to me too, Dana.”
“It’s so good to have you back.”
And again, Dana reached out and held her sister. This time, she would never let her go.
Early the next morning, Krycek and Skinner set out on their trip to Colorado. Having to let them go on their own was intolerable. Dana was pacing around her apartment irritatedly. There had to be something she could do.
While she was standing by idly, Mulder was out there somewhere, going through who knew what sorts of torments. She wanted to be out there, searching, doing something. But all she could do was bring in Melissa’s stuff from the car, and watch the men drive off to the airport.
When she’d seen the last of the car, she hurried upstairs. The last thing she wanted was to leave Melissa alone for a second longer than necessary. Dana had a terrible feeling that if she turned around only for a moment, she would find her sister gone again. Like in all those nightmares she’d had since losing Melissa.
“Here. I brought your stuff for you. Melissa?”
She couldn’t see her sister anywhere. What if – There was a slight break in her voice that betrayed her anxiety.
“I’m in here. Just took a shower. I’ll be right with you.”
It was only a few minutes later, when Melissa showed up, a towel around her hair, and another covering the rest of her body.
While Dana made breakfast, Melissa changed into her jeans and top. Then they had cereals and toast together, just like in the past. After that, they just sat down to wait for the men to return or for any kind of word to reach them.
Dana risked a quick call to Frohike, but he hadn’t heard anything. He just reminded her that he’d emailed her the truly absorbing footage of the autopsy. Dana reminded herself to press delete, whenever she had time to access her email. All the while, she was thinking about Mulder, wondering how he was doing. Was he even alive anymore?
If she’d known where Mulder was and more importantly with whom, she would have come close to despairing. While Dana and Melissa continued their waiting and worrying, Mulder was strapped to a chair, inside a room devoid of any other furniture. From overhead a sharp light dazzled his eyes. That was all he was aware of, apart from a numbing feeling of self reproach.
How could he have been stupid enough to fall into this trap? Anyone who knew him even by reputation would know enough to set him up this way. Inside the house where the abductee supposedly lived, he had found a gang of armed men. It had been easy enough for them to disarm and tie him up. He was taken totally by surprise.
Someone had given him an injection, and he had passed out. He had no way of knowing how long he had been unconscious when he came to. No one else was in the room with him, but soon enough Jeffrey Spender showed up. The man was uncannily like his father, minus most of the wrinkles and the pervasive stench of cigarette smoke. But the eyes were almost identical, down to the chilling quality that tended to freeze you to the spot.
“Hello, Fox. Long time no see.”
“Not long enough, apparently. What hole did you crawl out of?”
“All in good time. What you need to be concerned with is not where I’m coming from, or even where I’m going. All you need to know is what I want.”
“Ok, junior. What do you want?”
“I’m the one asking the questions here. You’ll find out soon enough. Not another word out of you.”
Mulder wasn’t afraid of Spender jr. The man was a wimp. But the reason why he had taken the trouble to have him abducted puzzled him.
“You’re awfully cocky these days, junior.”
“I said – Shut. Up.”
And Spender reinforced the command with a hard slap to Mulder’s mouth. He tasted blood. This was a new, changed Spender. But Mulder still wasn’t afraid.
“Ok. I’m waiting.”
“If you knew what I’ve got planned for you, you wouldn’t sound so smug, Fox.”
Mulder hated being called by that name, especially by this man who was so closely associated with Mulder’s father and the older Spender, but he was determined not to give Jeffrey the satisfaction of letting him notice that reaction.
Spender stood for a while staring down at Mulder, then went on with his planned speech.
“I brought you here to make a deal. I have something you want, and you have something I want. Surely we can come to some kind of understanding?”
“That depends on what you have in mind.”
Spender smiled condescendingly.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m not like my father. Your virtue is perfectly safe from me. I’m not after your body.”
That hadn’t occurred to Mulder for a moment, but the suggestion astonished him.
“Ok. I’m listening.”
“You want to find your sister, don’t you? That’s where I can help you.”
“My sister? Samantha? What’s the matter, Jeffrey? Have you taken any knocks to the head recently? In case you’ve forgotten, my sister is dead.”
“And how do you know that? Did you see her body? Or her grave even?”
“Come on, junior, if this is the best you can do, you’re wasting my time.”
“Shut up, Fox. I’m not through with you. Do you want to find your sister or not?”
“If that was even a possibility -”
“That’s what I’m telling you. Interested?”
“You must have been a bit of a storyteller as a kid, junior. Did you have a problem telling the truth from the fairy tales?”
“If you don’t shut up now, Fox, I’m going to finish you, right here. That way I can take what I want without your consent.”
Spender’s voice held a cold, hard edge that was finally filtering through to Mulder. Perhaps he had underestimated the madness of this man. Something must have happened to Spender in the time since Mulder last saw him. Something that had made him lose his mind. For the first time, Mulder felt a trace of fear.
“Ok, tell me what you know about Samantha. I’m listening.”
“That’s better. You might not know this, but I’m taking over where my father left off. Now I have access to his network of information. But he didn’t know everything. Fortunately, I’ve made some new friends. And these new associates of mine have other means at their disposal. I could get you Samantha’s address.”
“Impressive. What’s the catch, Jeffrey?”
“Clever, Fox. It’s simple. I want your partner, or maybe I should say, your lover.”
“You want Dana in exchange for Samantha?”
“You’re crazy, Jeffrey. I’ve listened to what you have to say. Now I want you to let me go.”
The sound of Spender’s laughter in the small room was eerie. Mulder felt a shiver go down his spine. He hadn’t really expected it to be as easy as that. What could Spender have planned for him? Whatever it was, Mulder wasn’t looking forward to finding out.
The restraints tying him to the chair were expertly done. He didn’t think he’d be able to work himself free. His only chance would be to try and reason with Spender. But he didn’t give much for his chances. Maybe he should tell Spender he could have Dana.
After all, there was no way Spender could ever call in the debt. Telling whatever wild story he had to tell about Samantha might satisfy him enough to let Mulder go. Maybe. In any case, Dana would never go off with Spender.
For the moment, Mulder refused to contemplate the consequences if Spender were to give Scully that ultimatum. Turn herself over to him, or find her lover dead. No. It wouldn’t come to that. He had to think of some solution.
In the meantime, Spender appeared to have had enough for the time being. He turned and left the room. Not until then did Mulder become aware of the fact that there was a surveillance camera pointing straight at him. Someone was watching and listening in. Who could that be?
Spender went into the other room, confident that he had scared some sense into the superior Fox Mulder. It was time he realized that someone else was in charge. In the last days of the old man’s regime things had been allowed to slide. Jeffrey wouldn’t make the same mistake.
“What about that information you promised me, junior?”
“All in good time, my dear Marita.”
“Ms Covarrubias to you, Jeffrey.”
“Whatever. You’ll get your information, don’t worry about that. Leave it to me. Except you’ll have to do your part.”
“Oh? In what way? I thought intimidation was your area of expertise? Or maybe it was being intimidated.”
Spender ignored the taunt. He knew that he couldn’t keep Marita here indefinitely on the pretext of providing information. Perhaps he should let her go. But he didn’t want to. He wasn’t through with her either, and the manpower she had at her disposal might still come in handy.
“What do you think?”
“About what, junior?”
Something told him that Marita was losing what little interest she had for him and his information.
“About Fox, naturally. Like what you see?”
“What’s this about? Don’t tell me you’re into men these days, junior? Like father, like son.”
“I was asking what you think.”
“Alright, he’s a babe. So what? Isn’t it time you got that information out of him? I’m warning you, Jeffrey, don’t waste my time. The people I’m working for aren’t as patient as your father’s people.”
“If you’re in such a hurry, maybe you should do your part. There are some things I can’t do.”
“Like what? Or rather what things can you do, junior? So far I’m not impressed with the way you’re handling this.”
“Use your charm. Work on him a bit.”
“What? Would you run that by me again? You’d better not mean what I think you’re meaning.”
“Why not? You want him, admit it, Marita.”
She wasn’t admitting anything to Spender, but he was getting awfully close to the truth. Ever since she’d first seen Mulder, she’d been just as attracted to him as she was to Krycek. In fact, even Skinner was appealing in his uptight, tough guy kind of way. And it had been so long. After she’d been exposed to the alien oil, it had taken her a long time to get back on her feet again. Dating hadn’t been high on her list of priorities.
But what Spender was suggesting was revolting. He wanted her to go in there and basically sexually assault a tied up, helpless man. Could she do it? On the other hand, she was under pressure from her superiors. She was the one who had agreed to cooperate with Spender on this venture. If she failed to deliver, she might end up in danger too. It would take some skill and luck to negotiate her way out of this situation.
“I’ll talk to Mulder. He might see sense.”
“Talk? You disappoint me. If I thought I’d have any success I’d go in there and do it myself.”
“Why don’t you? Who knows? Maybe Mulder hasn’t had any in a very long time. You might get lucky.”
“Get in there, ok? Something tells me I’m not really Mulder’s type.”
That was the understatement of the year. Whose type was Jeffrey Spender anyway? Marita couldn’t think of anyone who’d want this surly, and by now, totally insane man. She didn’t like having to get involved in this direct, physical approach, even if it only involved talking at this point. Her work had always been done more remotely, through indirect means. Whatever Spender thought, she wasn’t used to resorting to violence or any other hands-on pressures.
“Ok. I’ll talk to him. But you’d better be right about this -”
“If he won’t talk, you can always bring in your goons. I’m sure they can be very persuasive.”
She’d been hoping it wouldn’t have to come to that. Unless her work demanded it, she didn’t want to cause Mulder or his people harm. Spender’s people and Mulder’s might be on a direct collision course, but her employers worked on a level far removed from the actual alien conspiracy and only rarely intersected with it. The truth was, she actually liked Mulder and didn’t have a quarrel with Scully either.
Despite that, she entered the room where Spender held Mulder prisoner. All the while, she was uncomfortably aware of the surveillance camera watching her every move. Spender had a nerve suggesting what he had. If he kept that attitude up, she would recommend her employers to sever all contact with Spender and his organization.
“Agent Mulder. Sorry to meet you under these circumstances.”
“So what do you want?”
“Only some information. If you turn it over, I’ll make sure Spender lets you go unharmed. I want you to know that I don’t approve of his methods.”
She knew Spender wouldn’t like that at all. The thought cheered her up a bit. But she knew it would be difficult to get any information out of Mulder this way. Her chosen method would have been to simply hack into Mulder’s computer, or if he had been too clever to leave anything incriminating there, possibly drugging him. She had access to substances that might loosen his tongue. But now Spender had forced her hand.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no information you might be interested in.”
That might or might not be true. She was beginning to think she had been used. That was a mistake she wasn’t going to make again. Just in case, she approached Mulder a little closer, looking into his eyes. She saw defiance but also a touch of fear. Not directed at her, she suspected, but at Spender. Mulder might be right to fear him. Jeffrey Spender had changed in the years since his abduction. Something wasn’t quite right about him, and by now that trait had begun to take over.
She let her hand idly brush a stray strand of hair out of Mulder’s eyes. He twisted his head away from her violently. Apparently, he wasn’t going to trust her either. Not that she had expected him to. But the touch had done something to her. A part of her that she hadn’t known existed, one that she hated and despised, caused a rush of excitement to flow through her.
Suddenly, she was intent on taking advantage of this helpless prisoner. Again, she let her hands move across his face, and now she let them move further down his body. The knowledge that Spender was watching them did nothing to deter her. She was determined to ignore him and his sick gloating.
Mulder was straining against the restraints, trying to get away from her. His face contorted in disgust and the effort of trying to move away from her prying hands made his muscles play under the smooth skin, in a very attractive way. Marita watched in fascination. She let one hand slide in under his t-shirt, exploring the skin underneath.
“What are you doing? This isn’t funny, ms Covarrubias. Stop it right now.”
“Try to relax and enjoy this, Mulder. That’s what I’m going to do.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“I’m perfectly serious. So be a good boy and shut up.”
And she shut her ears to his pleading and, as she continued with the fondling of his skin, the threats issuing from that extremely sexy mouth. She paused to let her fingers trail along that enticing lower lip. To her relief, he didn’t try to bite her. He was falling silent, stunned by her assault on him.
“You can’t do this. Please stop. I don’t want -”
“Yes, I’ve noted that. But you see, I want. And it seems I’m in charge here. Not you, Fox. Mm. Appropriate name.”
Now she’d had enough of talking. Her hands managed to roll up his t-shirt, giving her searching mouth access to a nipple already erect by the shock. She let her tongue play with it, then sucked it in. With her hand she stimulated the other nipple, gently and roughly alternately. If she remembered correctly, this worked with most men.
The game eventually grew stale. Her hands trailed further down Mulder’s body, and found the waistband of his jeans. The buttons didn’t prove much of an obstacle, and she could feel the silk of his boxers underneath. She let her fingers move underneath the waistband of those too, and finally she was grasping the goal of her exploration.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t at all excited by her touch. She would have to do something more radical about it. Her stroking only had a marginal effect. He must be blindly devoted to his lover. A shame, but she could work around that.
It had been years since the last time, but she didn’t think she’d forgotten how to do it. Lazily, she let her tongue begin the new exploration. That finally produced a reaction, but the whimper this elicited, almost but not quite deterred her from continuing. Mulder wasn’t enjoying this sensation either. She could tell that the sound he made was one of distress, not pleasure. But she had come too far to turn back. Now she was finally having an effect. If only he would stop this snivelling.
For crying out loud, she wasn’t raping him. Well, maybe she was. But most men would be damned grateful for this kind of performance. His reaction helped bring her further along. Now she wanted something for herself, and she drew back, letting her panties slide to the floor. She pulled up her skirt and got onto Mulder’s lap and began to move slowly, but increasingly faster as she was brought closer to climax.
It was over far too soon. Regretfully she got to her feet again. This dominance business was a bit overrated, at least with such an unwilling submissive. If Scully hadn’t tired of him yet, Marita had to assume he was more successful in his dealings with his lover. With a sigh, she picked up her panties off the floor and went into the other room.
Just as she had suspected, Spender had been watching and enjoying the show. As she walked in, she could tell that he was in the last stages of his orgasm, eyes closed, an elated look on his face. Taking advantage of his moment of distraction, she tiptoed over to him. Before he had time to react, she covered his mouth with hers, and stuck her tongue inside, tangling with his.
The look of startled disgust that flew over those smug features gave her some satisfaction. Other than that, she was thoroughly revolted with herself. What could have possessed her to act this way? Taking advantage of someone helpless wasn’t anything to be proud of. Filled with anger at herself, she sought an outlet for all the frustrations.
“You’re a bastard, junior. What do you think I am? Your whore? If you can’t produce that information more or less instantly, I’m walking away. And you can be sure I’ll recommend my employers not to have anything to do with you in the future.”
“Fine. I’m a bastard. What does that make you? A rapist? Don’t look at me. I’m not the one who was playing with him. You did that.”
“And you enjoyed the show. Don’t bother denying it.”
“Of course I did. If I may say so, you were exceptionally good. Never seen anything like this outside of adult movies.”
“Listen, you piece of slime. I’ve had it with you and your empty promises. There is no information, is there? This is just personal between you and Mulder. Don’t call us again, junior. I mean it.”
“Ok. I admit it. I was a bit hasty about that information. Another time. Seriously. You won’t have anything to complain about the next time.”
“Allow me to doubt that. I’m going. But if you ever call me out again for nothing -”
“That won’t happen. Honestly.”
“I’ll just say goodbye to Fox before I go.”
When she walked in, she noticed with a pang of guilt that Mulder appeared to be in a bad way. There were even tears in his eyes. How could she have done what she had? Spender was right. What difference was there really between her and a rapist?
She would have to make it up to Mulder somehow. And as it happened, she had overheard Spender’s conversation with one of her associates. She too, knew the address to Samantha Mulder, though that wasn’t the name she went by these days.
“What do you want now?”
The voice sounded sullen as if he could only just keep the sobbing at bay. Great. This was her doing. You must be proud of yourself, Marita.
“Nothing. I’ve just come to say goodbye.”
Fortunately, there was no sound connected to the surveillance camera, but just in case, she moved closer. Mulder’s silence was eloquent. Ignoring his attitude and her own guilt, Marita moved closer and put her lips close to his ears. Again, he tried to move away, but he was secured so tightly he didn’t get far.
“Mulder. You may not believe this, but I’m really sorry about what happened. To prove it, I’ll give you Samantha’s address. I hope you’ll have some use for it. With my men gone, I don’t think Spender will be able to keep you here. Just in case, I’m going to release your hands. Keep them behind your back while I leave the room. My people will be gone from here in about ten minutes. After that, there’s just going to be Spender here. And he has to sleep some time. Good luck.”
Mulder couldn’t believe this was happening. Could it be some kind of trap? His mind was still in turmoil from the violation earlier, but he was willing to take any chance to get out of this place and away from that lunatic Spender. The address that supposedly was Samantha’s he didn’t give a second thought. All the same, he memorized it. He couldn’t turn down any chance to find her, no matter how remote that possibility was.
As he watched Marita leave the room, he waited for the moment when he would dare to make his move. He had no way of knowing for how long Spender might be watching him. Unless Spender was even more of a fool than Mulder took him for, the man had to be armed. But there was no way Mulder was going to stay in that room for a second longer than necessary. If he had to remain here for longer, he would panic and succumb to the hysteria that had been hiding under the surface since Spender had put in his appearance.
In the meantime, Scully and the others were approaching the building where Spender kept Mulder prisoner. They watched ms Covarrubias’ team move out, and when the last of the cars had disappeared from sight, Scully, Krycek and Skinner made their move. Melissa was outraged when she was asked to remain in the car, but she agreed that someone had to make sure they were ready to take off in a hurry, once the others had found Mulder. At least they hoped they would find Mulder in there. Scully didn’t even entertain any other possibility.
Their guns drawn, the three of them sneaked up to the house. From their observations of the house, they had found that there were two entrances. One in front, one in back. In fact, the house was an ordinary bungalow, apart from the fact that there were no curtains in the windows and the walls needed a coat of paint. Obviously, Spender had picked an empty house for his plans.
Skinner went in through the front door, while Scully and Krycek chose the back door. Scully couldn’t help feeling the whole thing was far too easy. Spender had to have something up his sleeve. But apparently, Spender hadn’t expected to be found quite so soon. He was armed, but faced with the three people who had the most reason in the world to hate him, he lost his nerve and Skinner was able to disarm and subdue him without much difficulty. Scully burst through the door into the other room, a wild look on her face.
“Mulder? Are you ok?”
There was a barely perceptible pause, before he answered her.
“Sure. I’ll just get my legs free and we can get out of here.”
Krycek and Skinner were trying their best to intimidate Spender, but the man appeared to have regained his poise and greeted them with indifference, even bravado.
“Hello again. How nice to see you.”
“I’ll wipe that grin off your face -”
“Yes, of course you can, Walter. What a big, strong man you are. At least that’s the way you look. But you and me both know what you’re really like. I see you brought the boyfriend. How sweet. I’m kind of partial to Alex myself.”
The impact of Krycek’s gun on Spender’s right kidney temporarily silenced him. For a second Krycek felt the urge to kill Spender, just like he’d finished the old man. But those days were over. Meeting Melissa had made him a new and gentler man.
Scully walked into the room, and for a moment Krycek thought she wanted to kill Spender as badly as he did. But she was far better at intimidation than he could have imagined. Krycek had seen her methods used by far more ruthless people than this petite woman. But then this man had dared to threaten her man. Never underestimate a woman’s love and devotion. She shoved the barrel of her gun into Spender’s mouth, and that finally caused the grin to subside.
“You’ve crossed me for the last time, Spender. If you ever go near Mulder or anyone else I care about, you’re going to wish you’d never been born.”
“Don’t count on it, Dana. I have a job to do, and I can’t let your lover or your friends or your family stand in my way. Not even the lovely Melissa or you, my dear.”
That provoked a new fit of rage inside Krycek. This lowlife wasn’t going to threaten any of the people he loved. He would make sure – but again, he held back, instead contenting himself with knocking Spender unconscious, like the last time they’d met. The main thing was getting Mulder back.
Scully stood over Spender’s limp body for a moment, then she turned to leave.
“Come on. We’d better get out of here. He might have been working on his own in this, but he seems to have his father’s organization behind him. They’ll come after us and -”
Minutes later they were in the car, and Melissa changed gears, turned and drove away. They left the rented car at the airport, and returned to Scully’s apartment.
After making sure that Mulder appeared to be ok, Scully asked the others to sit down around her living room table.
“I’ve been thinking. It isn’t safe for us here anymore. Apparently Spender’s totally insane. And we seem to be the target for his misplaced anger. My suggestion is we get out of here. This isn’t working out anymore.”
“You mean giving up the X files?”
“Yes. The X files at the FBI. I’m not suggesting we give up our work. But I’m thinking we can do it better from a safer location. What do you say, Mulder?”
“Ok. I agree with you. The resources of the FBI isn’t enough, if we’re constantly at risk. We have other means at our disposal.”
“You’re right, Dana. Alex and I have a safe place to stay. But we should all be together. I can’t bear being away from you anymore. What do you say, Alex?”
“My place is your place, all of you. The problem is, it isn’t large enough for all of us. We could expand – or we could get a bigger place. Like a farmhouse.”
“I think it’s a good idea. You need to get away from here.”
“What do you mean, Walter? You’re not coming with us? But you have to.”
Scully sounded like she meant it, but Skinner didn’t think there was a place for him among these happy young lovers.
“My work is my life. I’ll be ok. Now, shouldn’t you start packing? Go on. Somehow I don’t think you have much time.”
“I’m not going to argue with you, Walter. But I want you to come with us. Either we all go, or no one. Except Melissa and Alex. You have to go.”
“We don’t have time for this. Let’s discuss my possible involvement later.”
Just over an hour later, they had all collected the few possessions they intended to bring. Now all that remained was going to see Margaret Scully and explain the situation to her. Dana wasn’t sure her mother would agree to go with them. And she didn’t know what the reaction would be to finally meeting her lost daughter again. A daughter believed dead and buried. How did you explain something like that to your mother?
But they had no time to lose. Margaret Scully was a strong woman. She would be able to take the shock. As for her agreeing to run away with them, Dana and Melissa could only hope.
Dana rang her mother’s doorbell and waited breathlessly. The lights were on, so she should be in.
“Dana. What a nice surprise. Come in.”
“Mom, I have something to tell you. Something totally unexpected, but wonderful.”
That wasn’t what Dana had come to discuss with her mother, so she cast around in her mind for something to say that wouldn’t be a downright lie. After all, she wasn’t entirely sure herself half the time. Telling her mother about that, was too soon.
“Mom, it’s something to do with Melissa.”
“You’ve found her killer?”
“No. That wouldn’t be wonderful, would it?”
“I suppose you’d better come in. But isn’t Fox with you? There are some people in that car you came with. Aren’t you going to ask them in?”
“In a minute. Mom, what if I told you that the woman we found in my apartment wasn’t Melissa after all?”
There was a look of pity and concern on Margaret Scully’s face. Naturally, she had wanted to believe there was a chance she would see her daughter again. But wishful thinking never did anyone any good. What was wrong with Dana? She seemed to have had a bad shock, and there was something changed about her, something new that Margaret almost thought she recognized.
“Mom, don’t look at me like that. I’m not going crazy. It’s the truth. The woman in my apartment wasn’t Melissa, it was a clone. A clone that was sent to kill me. I know who shot the clone, and actually, it didn’t die. That was just a ruse. Those people must have had contacts at the hospital to play out that scene. But Melissa isn’t dead. I swear it’s true, mom.”
Margaret Scully fixed her daughter with an intense, scrutinizing stare. Yes, Dana appeared to be serious, and no matter how wild this story was, she didn’t seem to be delusional.
“Alright. If that’s true, where is Melissa? Where has she been all this time? Why didn’t she get in touch with us?”
“She’ll tell you all about that later, mom, but right now we have a problem.”
“Melissa is with you? Out in that car?”
“Yes. Ok, I’ll go get her, but we shouldn’t be standing around in the street like this. Could we park around the back?”
Two minutes later, Melissa was standing in her mother’s living room, her arms tightly wound around her mother. Dana knew how much this moment meant to her mother, but they were running out of time and if only they could get their mother to come along, she would be able to take as long as she wanted to enjoy the happiness of the reunion.
It surprised Dana that her mother didn’t need nearly as much persuasion to accept Melissa as she had. All it took was for Margaret to cast one piercing look into her daughter’s eyes. After that there were no more doubts.
To their surprise, their mother accepted the suggestion of their leaving without much discussion. On the other hand, she absolutely refused to come along herself. Dana soon learned it was useless trying to sway her. Perhaps she too realized the danger her daughters were in, after Melissa’s abduction and now Mulder’s.
Dana only went into that situation in a few words. She was impatient to get going. But anything they left behind they weren’t likely to ever see again. Melissa and Dana walked around the house, picking up every irreplaceable keepsake from their childhood.
It was time to say goodbye. Dana didn’t like this at all, and she knew Melissa felt exactly the same way. But it would be selfish to expect their mother to share their dangerous lives. She was the one who had made the study of the alien conspiracy her life.
Melissa had fallen victim to her single-minded struggle, but it was far too late to keep her out of danger now. The only thing that might help her stay safe, was never letting her out of her sight. And Dana intended to make sure of that.
Their mother seemed to understand the situation completely. At this time in her life, she didn’t deserve to have to run and hide, always looking behind her. Besides, there were also Bill and Charles to consider. How could she expect their mother to give up that part of her family just to share her daughters’ commitment to a cause she didn’t understand or embrace?
When the Scully sisters walked out to the car, their lovers anxiously watched their faces for signs of the emotional strain. But neither Mulder, nor Alex made any comments.
Now they needed to decide where to go. Skinner hadn’t said anything about staying behind for a long time now, so Scully was only waiting for that argument to crop up again. And she was right.
“Before you continue on your way, I just want to say it’s been an honor working with you, Scully, Mulder. I’ll miss you.”
“We’ll miss you too. Are you sure there’s nothing we can do to change your mind?”
“Positive. My work – Mulder, I want you to know that I’ll do whatever I can to keep the X files open. It’s your life’s work. Even leaving out the alien conspiracy, there’s much that needs to be brought out into the open.”
“I see. Thank you, Walter.”
“I really appreciate it too. Well, I guess there’s not much more to say. Watch your back. We’ll try to keep in touch if it’s possible.”
“Dana, I promise I’ll keep your mother safe. I know, she’s a tough lady, but if there’s anything I can do, I’ll do it.”
“I appreciate that, Walter.”
In the cramped space, there wasn’t any room for embraces, and Dana knew far too well how her boss, actually, her former boss, felt about emotional outbursts. But she couldn’t let him go without at least shaking his hand.
He squeezed hers in return. Mulder and Krycek did the same. Then they dropped Walter off in the vicinity of his home. Even though it felt sad to see the last of him, Mulder and Dana knew that their work and Margaret Scully would be in good hands.
“If that’s all settled, then I have to say something.”
“This is a wild goose chase, I know, and I wouldn’t blame any of you if you don’t want to come along. But I have this address I have to check out. In connection with Samantha.”
“Mulder, is this something Jeffrey put you up to?”
“No. Marita Covarrubias gave me the address.”
For some reason, Mulder’s face colored slightly at the mention of that name. Dana decided to find out what was causing this strange reaction. But that would have to wait until later. Dealing with this mad idea was more important right now.
“Whatever. The point is, why in the world would you believe anything one of them told you? You should know better than that.”
“I don’t believe it. But I can’t leave any stone unturned. You should know that. Especially after getting your sister back. I’ll want an explanation of that later on, but right now, I want us to go to this address. If you think the risk is too great, take Melissa and Alex and go on ahead. I’ll catch up later.”
“Me too. But Alex and Melissa should -”
“Dana, like we all said before at one time or another, we’re in this together. If there’s any chance at all that Fox can find information about his sister, we should all go.”
The woman who might be Samantha lived in Oregon, so again, they were forced to fly out to the west coast. They left the car parked at the airport, not intending to go back for it. After all, they were starting a new life.
In a small town in Oregon, a red-headed woman woke up to the sound of the phone ringing on her bedside table. She could see her husband tense up and strain his ears to catch the conversation. The woman’s voice at the other end of the line was one that seemed to be unknown to her, but she couldn’t be sure. Some voice scrambler seemed to be in use.
“You don’t know me, Samantha, but I have something to tell you. It’s time for you to leave. Some people found out your location. You and your family have to go. Now.”
“Why do you want to help us like this?”
“Let’s just say it’s a debt I owe to your brother. Stop wasting time. This is all I can do for you.”
And there was a very final click at the other end of the line. Over the years, Samantha had been forced to get used to packing up and leaving at short notice over and over again. So this was the time.
“Jake. It’s time. We need to go. I’ll wake the kids. Will you start packing?”
“Ok. I’ll tell mother, shall I?”
“If you would.”
The woman they both referred to as mother was no relation of either one of them. She was the nurse who had saved Samantha’s life all those years ago. But in the time they’d spent together, she had come to take the place of Samantha’s own mother. Nothing was forgotten, but Samantha had come to realize that she could never go back. Still, she would always remember her own parents, and her beloved brother.
Who was the woman who had given her the warning, and what was her connection to Fox? But there wasn’t any time for these idle thoughts. She had to get her children ready to leave within in the hour. If there was one thing Samantha had learned in the years since her abduction it was the necessity of taking any kind of warning seriously.
When her family was safely inside the van, she stood irresolutely on the lawn looking out across the garden. Perhaps it was the thought of her brother, but tonight she had a wish to leave a message for him.
Often enough over the years, she had left a note with a scribbled message of love for Fox. Always in places no one would think to look, but despite taking those precautions, she made sure she didn’t give anything away, nothing that could lead their enemies to her and her family. This time, she felt she had to leave something more tangible.
Her gaze travelled around the pleasant garden, where they’d only spent about 4 months, finally settling on the tree with the tree house. She and Fox had had one exactly the same.
“Honey, I’ll be right with you. I just have to do something.”
Towards dawn, when the sun was gilding the eastern sky, a car pulled up outside the pleasant two floor building. The place appeared deserted, and Mulder felt a sharp stab of disappointment. It was always the same. No matter how much he hurried, he could never quite get anyplace on time. The person he was looking for was always gone.
After the long drive, everyone was eager to get out for some fresh air and to stretch their legs. Dana followed Mulder around the empty house, checking in each room. The occupants of the house must have left in a hurry. Something must have spooked them.
In each room something had been left behind, but it was all anonymous stuff, nothing that could tell Mulder whether this had been his sister’s home or not. Dana could tell that the disappointment on top of his abduction was distressing him more than usually. She reached out and took his hand.
“I’m sorry, Mulder. At least it looks like they got away, whoever they were. No sign of a struggle. Someone must have warned them off.”
“I know. I just felt I was so close this time. Stupid of me. All of this. You were right, I should never have gone off on that wild goose chase to California. Even a moron like Spender could catch me out like that. I’m losing it. Maybe we should give up our struggle too.”
“We’ll talk about this later, Mulder. You haven’t had any sleep in a long time, and not much food either. Come on, let’s find a place to stay. There has to be a motel or something.”
“In a minute.”
“We have to go, Mulder. Come on.”
“I know. Ok, let’s go.”
Outside, the first rays of the morning sun touched the tree house, and a memory stirred in his mind.
“Just a second, Dana. That tree house is exactly like the one I built for Samantha all those years ago. I just have to take a look.”
“Ok. Just a few more minutes. Then we’ll have to go. This family left in a hurry. What were they so afraid of? I don’t think we should wait around to find out.”
“Ok. I won’t be a minute.”
Mulder climbed up the tree, with considerable effort, and he was only just able to squeeze into the tree house. Shouldn’t there be a loose board somewhere? He held out his hand and touched the board. It was loose. Could there be something for him? His hand was shaking as he reached into the small cavity. A rustle of paper, and underneath it, something small and hard.
After he had uncovered the locket, Mulder held his breath. This was just like in one of the dreams he’d had over the years since his sister’s disappearance. Was he really dreaming now? Could Spender have had him drugged? No, this was real. The chill of the morning air was on his skin, and he let out the breath he’d been holding in.
He decided to check out the locket and the paper it had been wrapped in at ground level. He was too old to go tree climbing. The room was far too small for him. It must have been built for a child. Did Samantha have a daughter? A son? Maybe both. That thought had never occurred to him before, but why shouldn’t she? By now, his sister could be married and a mother.
On the lawn, he smoothed out the paper, and stared avidly at it the scribble. Didn’t it remind him of Samantha’s nearly illegible scrawl? It was hard to remember after all these years. His heart nearly stopped when he saw what the writing said. “I love you Fox.“ I love you too, Samantha, he thought as tears burned his eyes.
“Mulder, we need to get going.”
“Yes, Dana. Look at this.”
She took a quick look at the piece of paper, but reminded herself what the rush was about. No matter how much this meant to Mulder they had to get going. She needed to find her sister and Alex and herd them into the car. They were like sitting ducks out here. Now she could see Krycek coming out of the building. Good. Now if only her sister would show up too, they could be on their way.
“I found this message from Samantha, Alex. Look.”
Mulder was so happy, he didn’t even stop to consider that Krycek might not be the first person he wanted to share this new information with.
Krycek smiled at Mulder, as he scanned the few words scrawled on the paper. He knew this might or might not be from Samantha, but he recognized the look in Mulder’s eyes. He might never have looked that way himself, at least not before he met Melissa, but he recognized the look.
“That’s great, Mulder. Listen. There’s something I need to tell you.”
Dana winced. All this stalling was exasperating. Was she the only one to feel the urgency? She began walking towards the building, in the hopes of hurrying her sister on her way.
“What’s that, Alex?”
“When I had that run-in with Spender last month, he told me a few things I didn’t mention before.”
“He told me about my mother and her ancestry, but you don’t need to know that right now. But he also told me he knew who my real father was.”
“And? Did he?”
“That’s what he told me. But he didn’t have any proof to back it up. It was quite a wild story, so I’m not sure what to believe, but I think you deserve to know. He said your father was my father too.”
“What? Come again?”
“He said we have the same father. William Mulder Sr. I know, it’s probably a downright lie. He said a number of other things, all intended to offend me. Well, now I’ve told you.”
Mulder stared at him for a few heartbeats in disbelief, trying to gauge his own reaction to the astonishing piece of news. Of course, Krycek was right, Spender would have said or done anything. But on the other hand, was it entirely impossible? And what did he really feel about this man as his brother?
It surprised him to find that he wasn’t appalled. They had been through too much together for him to keep his hatred alive. And they shared one other experience in common, something that made a bond between them whether he liked it or not. He smiled reassuringly at Krycek. This wasn’t exactly bad news, whatever else it was.
“Ok. If it’s true -”
“I can’t say I detest the idea. But it makes no difference. Whatever happened in the past, we’ve managed to get past that, haven’t we, Alex?”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying – you’re going to make me say this, aren’t you? I consider you a friend, Alex.”
What was this? Mulder thought he could detect a glint of tears in Krycek’s eyes.
“Jeez, Alex, you’re that pleased that you might be my brother?”
Impulsively, he reached out and put an arm around the younger man’s shoulders. Who would have thought he’d voluntarily even touch the guy? At first Krycek tensed up and seemed about to pull away. Of course, Mulder could relate to that kind of reaction. But it seemed Krycek was able to suppress it and allow himself to be held.
For a while, they stood like that, filled up with the novelty of the being this close. Suddenly there was the sound of shouting from inside the house and guiltily they pulled apart, reaching for their weapons.
They ran into Dana on the doorstep, and spread out, covering one room each. They were all carrying weapons, so they would be able to deal with the situation. But what about Melissa?
Krycek was driven by a desperation he’d never felt before. If anything happened to Melissa, he would lose any reason he had for going on.
It didn’t take them long to find the cause for the disturbance. Four armed men were in the building. When they realized they were facing three determined opponents they took cover in the nearest rooms.
Dana felt a stab of panic. Her sister was in one of those rooms, alone with an armed man, most likely working for Spender. They had stayed too long. What if anything happened to Melissa? She repressed that thought. This time she wouldn’t be too late. She would blast that bastard away. The sound of a shot froze her. A chill went down her spine. Melissa. She vaguely noted that Mulder and Krycek took out the remaining two of Spender’s men.
Kicking the door in, with no regard for her own safety, she burst into the room. The scene unfolding in front of her eyes wasn’t the one she had expected.
“Oh. There you are, Dana. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
Melissa had done this? Her peaceable, card-carrying new age practitioner sister? Her would-be aggressor was lying on the ground, eyes vacant and his limbs sprawled out.
“Why are you looking so surprised? Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about the karate classes?”
“Melissa, I don’t know what to say. I thought he’d -”
“I know. Sorry to give you such a scare. I was worried about you too, and the others.”
Melissa closed the distance between her and her sister with a few hasty steps, and pulled her into her arms.
“Is everyone else ok?”
“I think so. Let’s go find out.”
“I guess we should get out of here anyway, before any reinforcements get here.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice. The people who lived here got out just in time.”
After making sure everyone was indeed unharmed, Dana herded her party into the car, and just to make sure, they didn’t stop until they were safely across the border into Washington.
Two weeks later a new family moved into an old farmhouse roughly an hour’s drive from Seattle. What few neighbors there were could hardly be described as nosy, but from what they could gather the old Markham place had been bought by two handsome young brothers and their equally lovely wives, who appeared to be
The real estate agent was probably the only person who knew the names of the new occupants of the farmhouse. Mr Michael Craig, his brother, Jonathan Craig, and their two wives Mandy and Eleanor, Since the two handsome young men were married and thus unavailable, ms Jordan, the real estate agent promptly forgot all about the clients and turned her attention onto more accessible prey.
The family constellation had been Dana’s and Melissa’s idea. They felt it adequately explained why they were all going to live together. Mulder and Krycek naturally had no problems with being cast as Dana’s and Melissa’s husbands.
The following morning, Mulder brought out the locket and showed Dana the contents. In the intense activities connected with the new house he had forgotten to discuss his findings with Dana in any detail.
-I want you to see this.Dana took the locket from him and opened it. There were two photos inside. One of Samantha and the teenage Fox, his arms around her shoulders, her eyes adoringly fixed on her big brother, on the other side, one of her and her new family. Pressed between the two photos, there were two locks of hair.
“Mulder, you know that this might just be some clever forgery. Or -”
He knew that she was right. Photos could be found and placed in lockets, hair could be obtained as well. But he had a feeling this was the real thing and he would have to know who those locks of hair belonged to. They looked a lot like his own, and Samantha’s, but of course there was no way of knowing, unless he had them analyzed.
“I’d like to have them DNA-tested, just in case.”
“Ok. I’ll see to that. There’s this guy in Seattle, who used to -”
“Dana, is the entire country filled with men with a crush on you?”
“I guess so. Can I help it, if I’m irresistible? Anyway, look who’s talking -”
For some reason this didn’t produce the intended smile. Something in Mulder’s eyes told her he wasn’t amused. Again she was reminded of his strange behavior right after his time in captivity.
“Mulder, what happened?”
He had spoken too quickly, and anyway he knew better than to lie to Dana. She always saw through him. But what Marita Covarrubias had done to him was too – too painful, too humiliating. He had never thought a woman could make him feel the same way his father had all those years ago. The same helplessness, the same feeling of being worthless and unclean.
“You know what I mean, Mulder.”
“Yes, I know what you mean.”
He sighed helplessly. Of course he would have to tell her. Who had he been kidding? She must have noticed the change in his behavior right after she had rescued him from Spender. And now it occurred to him, how she might have interpreted this change. What if she thought that Spender had – Perhaps the truth would be less terrifying, after all.
“You’re not going to believe this, but Marita -”
“Yes, Marita Covarrubias. She’s -”
“Yes. What about her?”
Dana stared at him expectantly, but he found himself unable to go on.
With a helpless look in his eyes, he looked back at her, silently pleading with her to take pity on him.
“Dana, I don’t think I can -”
“You know you can tell me anything, Mulder. No matter what it is. Oh, come on, what did she do? Rape you?”
Something about his face made her look more closely.
“Wait a minute. She did, didn’t she? How is that possible? No, don’t tell me. I think I can guess.”
“I was tied to a chair. She came in, trying to get me to give her some information, that I suspect Spender had promised her I’d have. But I didn’t have anything for her. At least not information. I couldn’t believe it was happening. She began to touch me, and -”
“Ok, Mulder. You don’t have to tell me more.”
He didn’t know what to make of her tone, so he put a hand on her shoulder to make her face him again. If he could see into her eyes, maybe he could guess her reaction. She whirled around, staring at him with such a fierce look in her eyes, he almost stepped back.
“Dana, are you -”
“What? Oh, no. Of course I don’t hold this against you, Mulder. It’s that Marita person who will need to watch out if I ever run into her again. I’ll make her wish she’d turned those sick urges onto Spender. Jeffrey would probably appreciate it.”
It would be ok. She didn’t hate him. For some reason it didn’t make him feel all that much better. But he knew from experience that eventually even something like this would begin to fade. One day he might actually be able to recapture what he and Dana had had before he had been foolish enough to walk right into Spender’s trap.
Dana kept her word. She sent a few hairs to her friend in Seattle, and within a week, he sent the result of the test back to her. Hearing that they were doing the DNA test, Krycek had insisted on sending along a sample of his own, so he and Mulder could finally know whether Spender’s tale was true.
Since this most concerned Mulder, she handed the envelope over to him, unopened, wishing that Ken hadn’t put anything too embarrassing into the personal note for her. The man simply wouldn’t see that she was in love with someone else. This beautiful, wonderful man who was sitting there across the table, not quite daring to rip open the envelope.
“Do you want me to do that?”
“What? Oh, no, thanks. I’ll do it. What if this is Samantha’s hair? And mine.”
“Then perhaps the woman living in that house really was her. I hope so, Mulder. And I hope that one day you’ll catch up with her.”
“And what if it’s true that Alex and I have the same father?”
“How do you feel about that?”
“I think it’s going to be ok. Poor Alex really needs to know about who he is. No matter what the implications.”
“Right. Here goes.”
Mulder didn’t say anything for so long, Dana was wondering what he’d really found out. For a horrible second she had an insane vision of the contents of the envelope saying she was Mulder’s sister.
That would destroy her happiness as surely as if Spender had killed Mulder while he had him at his mercy, and at Marita’s. Whether she knew it or not, Marita had made a new enemy and it was probably for the best if the two women never met face to face.
“What does it say? Tell me, Mulder.”
“It was her hair. It was Samantha’s. And mine. And – Alex and I are brothers.”
Even if the result was somehow expected, it took them a while to sort out their feelings. Dana put her hand over Mulder’s and they contemplated the revelation in silence. Finally, Mulder faced her with a look of determination on his face.
“I’ll go tell Alex. He deserves to know.”
“Ok. I’ll go and have a word with Melissa. See you soon. And Mulder -”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Dana.
Mulder knocked on the door to Melissa’s and Krycek’s rooms, waiting impatiently until Melissa’s voice told him to go right in.
The bedroom door opened and Dana’s sister came out into the living room.
“Oh, hi, Fox. Did you want to see me, or Alex?
“Actually, it was Alex.”
Struck by a sudden idea, Mulder blushed a little.
“I didn’t interrupt anything, did I?”
“No. Of course not. Alex!”
Krycek’s smile hinted that maybe Mulder hadn’t interrupted anything this time, but it wouldn’t be long.
“Fox wants to talk to you. You know what, guys? I’ll just go over to Dana and talk to her. See you later, Alex.”
“Looking forward to it, Missy. Well? Did you get the results?”
“Yes. Alex -”
“Was it Samantha’s hair?”
“Yes. It was. And mine. And -”
“That lowlife was right about one thing. You and I are brothers.”
He couldn’t read Krycek’s face, but what else was new? If Krycek didn’t want to be read he wouldn’t be. So Mulder waited until his new brother had time to collect his thoughts.
“I see. How do you feel about this?”
“I’ve hardly had time to think about it, but I think it’s ok. What about you?”
“I’m overwhelmed. Part of me hates the idea of what the old man did to Jelena. But he wasn’t the only one and at least now I’ve found you.”
“I’m glad to have found you too, believe it or not. Just one thing -”
“In Vegas – You don’t think we -”
The mischievous grin on Krycek’s face told Mulder he didn’t need to worry on that account. What a relief. His family was a little too intimate at times. At least the male members of it.
“No, we didn’t. The only person you scored with that weekend was Dana.”
“How do you know that?”
“I guess that alien oil made me immune to the drug.”
“I know. But it didn’t really enter your body, did it? And anyway, I didn’t drink half as much as you did. Never try to outdrink a Russian. Well, part Russian.”
“Oh, I see. I guess not.”
“Mulder, there’s another thing that’s been worrying me. About our dad -”
“Yes, what about him?”
“You know I killed him. I killed my own father. How do you feel about that?”
“Alex, there were so many times I wanted to kill him myself. How could I blame you for doing what I only dared to dream about? Besides, at the time you didn’t know who he was. It wasn’t your fault. You were only doing your job.”
“Do you really mean that? But you’re wrong. I wasn’t just doing my job. That’s what my employers thought I was doing, but when I pulled the trigger, he wasn’t just the target, he was every man that ever -”
Mulder knew exactly what Krycek meant and for a second he felt as if he’d been the one to fire that shot. In his dreams, sometimes he had.
“I know. It’s ok, Alex. Maybe one day we’ll be able to think about it and not feel this – emptiness.”
And for the second time, Mulder pulled his brother into a hard, close embrace. This was an entirely new situation, and they would have to learn to come to terms with it. But somehow, Mulder thought it wouldn’t be so difficult to accept this man as a member of his family.
Their work would go on, but right now, Mulder felt that his personal life would have to take precedence. Dana had gotten her sister back, and he had gained a new brother, and finally he had some indication that his own sister might be alive and out there somewhere. One day he might catch up with her, and then they would all be together. No matter what the future might bring, they would at least have each other. And that was more than he had ever dared to hope for.