|Primary Characters:||Mulder, Dana, Melissa, Alex|
|Warning:||violence, adult themes|
|Description:||Jeffrey offers Mulder a deal he can’t refuse. Or can he? Dana thinks she can handle Jeffrey, but without help, she might not be able to.|
Mulder had set up a basket ball hoop in the yard, and this morning, he was shooting a few, just to keep busy. There was nothing in the world that felt more useless than being the father of an unborn baby. Dana’s morning sickness had long since passed and at the moment, she was feeling great. At least she kept telling him that. Actually, he was out here to relieve his concern, just as much as to have something to do.
He’d never before considered what it would be like not to go in to work each morning. Sure, he’d stayed at home, reviewing old cases or something like that. But this was different. From time to time, he did get mail from Frohike. Skinner too, had his ways of keeping in touch. And through him, Dana and Melissa were able to get news of their mother. But that was all.
At the beginning of their exile, Mulder had made a point of keeping up to date with all the latest developments in anything that might be construed as remotely related to an X file. He’d even taken out a subscription to one of the tabloids, until one day he’d walked in on Dana having a good laugh at his expense.
The sound of gravel crunching under someone’s feet had Mulder whirling around. To his relief, it was only his brother.
“Hey, take it easy. Your perimeter defenses and alarms are still working, aren’t they?”
“As you ought to know. You helped me set them up. Nice old Soviet handiwork.”
“I do my best.”
“I mean it, Alex. What those guys could do with a couple of cables and a shoestring – Real McGyver stuff.”
“I saw the re-runs. He wouldn’t have lasted one day in Russia.”
“Are you sure? Good old McGyver. I think -“
“I’m only kidding. I love that show. Pass me the ball.”
For another half hour or so, the two men didn’t communicate except in hand signals or the odd grunt. If Dana or Melissa had looked out of the window, they would have laughed. Their guys didn’t look particularly special like that, red-faced and sweaty. But in the end, the physical exertion made them want to slow down.
“How about going for a walk?”
“You want to check on the equipment?”
“Ok. No problem. I’m sure Missy will call if she wants me.”
“Dana will look after her. You wouldn’t want to hold her hand while she’s puking her guts out anyway.”
“No. I wouldn’t. It looks awful. I’m kind of glad I’m not a woman. Pregnancy seems like a dreadful condition.”
“Between you and me, I totally agree. Nothing in the world would induce me to carry a baby like that.”
“Nature is wise. Let’s go.”
Once in a while they liked to race each other, a little like two kids. At times, Mulder caught himself thinking what it might have been like to grow up with a brother. All the ballgames and the tree climbing. The fishing trips. In all fairness, Samantha had tried to keep up, at least with the ball playing and the tree climbing. She had, however, absolutely refused to go fishing, and Mulder couldn’t blame her.
After he’d caught a fish and watched it flap about on the ground, helplessly, he’d never baited the hook again. He could still remember his mother’s amused smile, when she asked him if he’d caught something. At the time, he’d thought she found him the most inept fisherman in the world. Now, though, he realized that she’d most likely guessed his secret.
They kept up a pleasant conversation throughout their walk. None of the alarms or booby traps were malfunctioning. Everything was fine. Frankly, they only stuck to the daily checkup as a matter of routine. Just like they all, Dana, included, went to the improvised shooting range in the barn, to keep up their target shooting skills.
Melissa, who still refused to touch a gun, had kept up the karate until she’d learned she was pregnant, but as far as Mulder knew, she’d take it up again, right after delivering the baby. Even if they rarely mentioned the threat they were living under, they all knew that their children would be particularly at risk. Mulder knew that he would never survive losing his children as he had lost Samantha.
His mind had wandered and he hadn’t followed Alex’ last words. He was startled out of his brooding as he heard a familiar name.
Alex stared at him with concern.
“I was saying, that was back when I was – seeing Marita.”
“What’s wrong, Fox? You always get that look when I mention her name. I don’t care about her anymore. Since I met Melissa -“
“Nothing’s wrong. Yes, something’s wrong, but it’s kind of weird. I don’t know how to -“
“Is there a danger now? I mean, are we and the girls at risk because of her?”
“No, that’s not it. Remember when Junior and Marita had me abducted?”
“How can I forget? You should have seen Dana. She was absolutely fantastic. She put the barrel of her gun into Jeffrey’s mouth and -“
As if he hadn’t heard, Mulder went on. For some reason, it felt important to unburden himself about his experiences.
“Yes, what about her? She must have looked better than when I last saw her. I was sort of pissed off at her, but I do feel sorry for her. That alien oil is -“
Alex shook his head. Probably of all his experiences that might have been the worst.
“Yes. She was looking a lot better. But -“
By now, Alex was getting quite good at reading his brother’s moods and he realized something about Marita was troubling Mulder. Badly. He couldn’t think what it was, unless she’d been able to provide more information about Samantha’s whereabouts, than Mulder had told him. So he didn’t say anything, only waited for his brother to go on.
“Alex – Have you ever been -“
With a bitter laugh, Alex replied.
“Is there anything I haven’t been?”
“Did you ever think a woman could -“
Something clicked inside his mind. He’d recognized Mulder’s tone of voice. He was pretty sure what the question would have been ‘have you ever been raped by a woman’? That was a baffling idea.
Judging by Mulder’s distress, Alex was betting he was right in his guess. A woman? That thought had never occurred to him. Of course, he could easily imagine a woman being forced to do things against her will, but in that case, he didn’t really count that as assault. The aggressor would be someone else, even if he didn’t show his face. And that led him to thinking about Jeffrey. His twisted thinking had to have been behind whatever had happened to Mulder.
“Mulder, did she -“
“I never thought it would be possible.”
“No. It’s certainly never happened to me, and that has to be some kind of record in reverse. Mulder, not that I want to defend her, but don’t you think it might have been Jeffrey’s idea?”
“What? Yes, that’s possible.”
“I’m sorry. I never noticed anything like that when we were sleeping together. Not that I would have played hard to get. Back then, any woman was like a trophy. I’d better not tell Missy that. Oh, what am I worried about? She understands everything. Anyway, Marita betrayed me. Of course, I never trusted anyone back then, so I guess I shouldn’t have been so pissed off with her.”
Alex could tell Mulder wasn’t listening to him. He walked back the few paces that separated them, and very gently he put a hand on his brother’s shoulder.
“I guess it’s easier said than done, but you know it’s not your fault. You didn’t have any choice. They had you tied up, right?”
“What? Yes. But don’t you see – I – She – If I hadn’t -“
Alex could guess where this was leading, and he knew how Mulder felt. Hadn’t he learned to perform, no matter what he really felt inside? It had taken him years, in fact, all the years until he met Melissa to finally once and for all dispel the myth that ‘he liked it, or he would have been able to -‘.
“Mulder. Stop thinking like that. It doesn’t work that way. You know it doesn’t. Didn’t you study psychology? There’s no correlation between will and physical reaction. I never studied anything, but I do know that. It was all her doing. Don’t take this on yourself. What did Dana say?”
“What you’re saying. And you’re right. It’s all there in the psychology books. But it’s not like in a book. It’s real.”
Mulder looked up. Of course Alex knew. If there was anyone who might understand it was Alex.
“Yes, I know you do. I guess – compared to what you’ve been through, this is nothing.”
“No. It’s not nothing. It never is. Besides, I know what else you’ve been through.”
“It’s not a competition, I know.”
“If it is, we both lose. I don’t know about you, but since I met Missy, everything’s changed.”
“Yes, Dana’s helped me enormously. Christ, Alex. Leave it to you and me to find something gloomy to talk about on a day like this.”
“Ok. Let’s think about something nicer. Have you and Dana thought of some names for -“
“Well, I guess she has. I’m kind of nervous. I don’t want to jinx it. What about the two of you?”
“We’ve talked about it, but Missy wants to wait until she sees the baby face to face. Read its vibes or something like that.”
Alex sounded totally serious. Apparently, even if he didn’t share his lover’s views on life, he found no fault with them.
“Oh. Maybe she can read ours too.”
“I’ll bet. They’ve probably got it all planned. Maybe we should go back and see how they’re getting along?”
“Yes, you’re right. Race you back.”
And for the time being, both men were able to push the thought of the past to the back of their minds.
In another state, a team of armed men were getting into position. Their weapons were aimed a small bungalow, one of many in a street of ordinary suburban houses. The people inside were asleep. At least the lights were all out. The time was around 3 a m. Jeffrey Spender was keeping a close eye on his watch.
Not until the exaxt hour would he give the order to move in. This time, Mulder couldn’t possibly refuse to hand over Dana. If given the choice between watching a videotaped execution of his sister, or handing over his lover, Jeffrey was certain what the outcome would be.
Jeffrey frowned. No discipline. He considered shooting one or two of the men, just to prove he was serious, then thought better of it. Once the bullets started to fly, they wouldn’t have long before the police would move in. By then, they needed to get their targets moved.
The old woman was expendable. So was the young man. The woman and the children, however, were vital to Jeffrey’s plan. If for some reason, Mulder hesitated, it would be good to have his nephew and niece to bargain with as well.
He kept watching the hands of the watch turning slowly, until finally, the hour was at hand. Only then, did Jeffrey give the order.
At least the team he’d put together moved quickly and silently. Not one single shot was fired, and the front door was opened with a minimum of trouble. Just like Jeffrey had expected, they had caught the family by surprise. There were no weapons anywhere, and though the young couple did their best to fight back, their struggle soon ceased, as they watched their children and the old woman being led inside, guns pointing at their heads.
The two children didn’t appear to be particularly frightened. Jeffrey was itching to teach them a lesson, but restrained himself. All he really wanted was to get his hands on Dana. Nothing else mattered.
In fact, it was even slightly amusing to see the little boy spit in the direction of his captor, and the little girl delivering a swift, and apparently quite painful kick to the knee of the man covering her. Jeffrey could see that the man wanted to pull the trigger, but he also knew that his own orders had been specific enough. That man knew perfectly well would happen to him, if he disobeyed.
In the meantime, Jeffrey allowed his men to vent their anger on the young man.
“Don’t overdo it. We’ll need him later.”
He stood back, and watched the young woman watch her husband being kicked and beaten.
“What do you want? Do you work for him?”
“If by ‘him’ you are referring to my father, then you’re wrong. The old man is dead. I’ve taken his place.”
“Jeffrey? Little Jeffrey? I’m surprised he chose you to replace him. From what I heard, he didn’t think much of you or your mother.”
Jeffrey walked over to Samantha, and grabbed her hair, pulling hard.
“I need you alive to bargain with your brother. But that doesn’t mean I need your lover or the old woman. Or that I need to turn you over unharmed. A couple of bruises won’t matter. So don’t you ever talk about my mother again. Is that clear?”
“Grayson. You can kick him a little more. If he can’t walk, you’ll just have to carry him. But let’s get out of here now.”
Quickly, the captives had their mouths taped shut, and their arms and legs tied. No exceptions. Even the children were securely tied and gagged. Within a few minutes, the house was empty again. Not a moment too soon either. In the background, they could hear sirens getting closer, then fading out again, as the van they were travelling in turned on to the other highway.
Excellent. Jeffrey was happy with the operation. Nothing had gone wrong. Now on to the next phase.
Once they got to the warehouse Jeffrey had chosen for his headquarters, he ordered his men to untie and remove the gags from the young woman and the children.
“Please, untie mother and Jake too.”
“Alright. If you behave, we’ll untie the woman. Go on. But leave the man tied. You can remove that gag, but that’s it.”
“Now. I want you and the children to come quietly. No harm will come to you, if you cooperate.”
“Where are you taking us?”
“Just into the next room. But you’re hardly in a position to make demands, so I suggest you keep quiet. You will only be there for about half an hour or so, depending on how well things go. Then you may return to the others. Come on.”
Jeffrey grabbed Samantha none-too-gently by the arm and pulled her along. Two of his men brought the children, still kicking and using a language that caused a few raised eyebrows. Those two looked like a couple of angels, but that vocabulary was anything but angelic. Interesting woman, this Samantha. Apparently she and Dana had a lot in common. If Jeffrey hadn’t been so obsessed with her, he might have settled for a few hours with Mulder’s sister. But he decided that he’d wait for the real thing.
Mulder and Krycek left the girls at the doctor’s surgery and went to the post office to see if Frohike had forwarded any interesting news to them. They didn’t expect anything in particular at this time, but since they were in town, they might as well check things out.
Five minutes later, they were sitting in the car, Mulder with a package in his hands and a worried frown on his face. Attached to the package was a letter, addressed to him (using his new identity) in Frohike’s characteristic handwriting. That in itself wasn’t unusual, and Mulder didn’t know exactly why he felt so apprehensive. Alex was watching speculatively, but made no comment, until he felt that time had dragged on unusually long.
“Aren’t you going to open it?”
“Yes. I suppose so.”
“Any reason to suspect there’s bad news?”
“Other than the fact that the last time I received one of these, it was from Jeffrey and contained my father’s diary? Nothing, I guess.”
“But this is from Frohike, not Jeffrey. What’s the worst it might be? Some alien autopsy?”
“There’s this letter. He wouldn’t have sent me a letter if there hadn’t been something in there that he wants to warn me about, would he?”
“I see. Yes, you’re right.”
Mulder couldn’t take the suspense anymore and tore open the envelope. At first, he couldn’t take in what the letter said. Frohike’s handwriting was a bit hard to decipher, but that wasn’t the reason.
Alex noticed how Mulder’s face drained of all color and wondered what might produce such a reaction. No one was left of his family to worry about. Or could this be about Dana? Or –
Now Mulder tore open the package, and found a videotape. He pulled it out, causing a number of photos to fall out into his lap. His hands felt cold as he picked them up to look at them. Frohike’s letter had warned him what to expect, but now he was about to see for himself.
Samantha. He had to keep telling himself that his might be a setup. Another one of Jeffrey’s sick stunts. The latest of his attempts to catch him out, using his fondest dream. But deep down, he had a feeling that this really was Samantha. And those kids – that little girl who looked so much like her mother and grandmother – the little boy – surely he was imagining it, but didn’t he look an awful lot like him?
According to Frohike, the tape contained Jeffrey’s demands, as well as a plea from Samantha. Apparently, not quite what Jeffrey had wanted her to say, but that would make the whole thing even more painful to watch and listen to.
Lost in his own pain, Mulder failed to pay attention to his brother or the women who were probably waiting for them over at the surgery.
“Mulder? Want me to drive?”
“What? No. It’s ok. What time is it?”
“There’s no rush. But I thought we needed to do a bit of shopping – Never mind. We’ll do that when we’ve picked them up.”
“Yes, of course. Alex, look at this. Jeffrey’s got Samantha and her family.”
Alex took the photos his brother was holding out to him. He’d already seen the people in them and guessed what this might be about. Just like Mulder, he knew that this might or might not be the real thing, but he also thought he knew his brother well enough to be able to tell that he’d never leave any stone unturned. Not if there was any chance of finding his sister alive.
You think they might be legit?”
“I know what you’re thinking. But yes, I do.”
Mulder knew as well as Krycek what could be done with computers these days. Aging someone, using an old photo. Maybe even projecting what that person’s offspring might look like. But the videotape might tell him more. Samantha’s voice wouldn’t have changed all that much over the years. He’d know if it was her.
“Alright. Let’s go. We’ll discuss this further with Dana and Missy.”
Mulder took a good long look at his brother. He could tell that Alex wouldn’t rest until he’d seen this through to the end. What an odd thing to happen. A year ago, he’d still hated Krycek’s guts. He’d never have believed anything he’d told him. Kiss or no kiss. Now – he wouldn’t hesitate to place his life in his hands.
“Ok. And Alex – thanks.”
Alex made a sound that seemed to indicate that it was no big deal. He also seemed a bit embarrassed. Mulder could relate to that. Overt gratitude might be a bit tiresome. So he didn’t say anything more during the short drive to the surgery.
“I won’t allow it.”
“You won’t allow it? Mulder, I appreciate your concern, but isn’t it my decision?”
“Not anymore. Now that -“
Desperately, Mulder pointed at her abdomen. It wasn’t fair. Now that he’d finally found her and they were living in relative safety, Jeffrey had to put him through this. That man would never rest until he’d ruined all their lives permanently, just as his father had before him.
Dana frowned. Mulder had a point. Now that she was pregnant, it wasn’t just her decision. But on the other hand, she felt sure she could handle Jeffrey. Whatever he had planned, she knew she could outsmart him. And if Mulder finally could meet his sister face to face, it was a risk she was willing to take.
“Melissa, please. Talk to her. Make her see sense.”
Melissa was going to, but she knew something Mulder might not, and that was how extremely stubborn her little sister could be. Something about the look on her face led Melissa to believe that this was one of the times when nothing you could say or do would help.
Maybe – she briefly considered this extreme measure before discarding it – if she got Mulder and Alex to lock her up, until this crisis had passed? But that wasn’t right. Not when it came to Dana, or Mulder. Just like Dana, Melissa wished that Mulder might once again see his sister, hold her in his arms, make sure she was alright.
“I’ll talk to her. Maybe it would be best if you went into the kitchen for a while, Fox. Alex?”
Mulder whirled around, seemingly fully prepared to start fighting his brother off, should he attempt to physically remove him. Alex held out his hands palms outward, to show he had no intention of doing anything of the kind. Shamefacedly, Mulder looked back at his lover, her sister and then again back towards his brother.
He bit his lower lip, so the tears that were threatening to overflow in his eyes wouldn’t show. Dana might be allowed to witness his tears, but he really drew the line at having Alex seeing him lose his dignity that way. In fact, he guessed that Alex would feel the same way about him.
Without another word, he stormed out, at the moment he couldn’t care less if anyone followed or not. But sure enough, eager to leave the women some privacy, Alex came along.
“She can’t do it. I won’t allow it.”
“I understand how you feel. You won’t get any argument from me. Between you and me, I really feel that right now, she ought to leave the hostilities to you and me. We might -“
Alex hesitated to mention his former lover’s name. He wasn’t ashamed of what he’d done, but it was still a bit embarrassing to remember. And he knew that Mulder had never quite accepted the relationship in the first place. Oh, what the hell.
“We might try to contact Walter. Even if he couldn’t officially help us out, he might know someone who could. And speaking of that. I have a few contacts from earlier I might try to get in touch with. Nothing to do with the conspiracy, or Spender. Totally unrelated. Old KGB and -“
Alex shot his brother an amused smile. Surely Mulder wasn’t naive enough to think that the KGB was gone? Even in this country there were still former operatives. They might or might not work for Russia, officially or unofficially, but in this business you learned early on never to ask pointless questions. These guys owed him. And Alex knew they’d be all too eager to pay him back.
“Whatever. Some guys who owe me favors. If they’re still alive, they’ll come.”
“Great. I’m afraid I don’t know anyone I could ask, not like this. After all that’s happened, I wouldn’t know who to trust.”
Alex nodded. He knew what Mulder was referring to.
“So I’ll give those guys a call and we’ll see. You don’t think Frohike or Langly or -“
“No. I mean, they’d love to help me out, especially when it concerns Dana, but direct action isn’t really their scene.”
In the meantime, Melissa did her best to talk Dana out of her foolish plans. At one point, Melissa even considered offering herself in Dana’s place, knowing that she had at one point been able to reach Jeffrey as no one else.
But she knew Dana – and Alex – wouldn’t hear of it, and anyway, her offer might be construed as emotional blackmail. No matter how frustrated she was with her sister, she wouldn’t do that to her. Their brothers had played that game for far too long.
“Dana – Isn’t there anything I can say to make you change your mind? I know you’re a pro, and that you can outsmart Jeffrey on any day, but I hardly need to point out that things have changed a bit, do I?”
“Because I’m pregnant? Missy, don’t you think I know that too? But just because I’m fat, I’m not stupid. I can handle it, or I wouldn’t have offered. There’s a risk, yes. But this might be Mulder’s only chance to get his sister back. If Jeffrey has her killed and I know that I could have done something to save her, how do you think I would be able to live with that?”
With a sigh, Melissa acknowledged that her sister was right. Since Jeffrey had asked for Dana, there really wasn’t any choice. Even if she’d once been fond of Jeffrey, for the little hurt boy who might still exist inside him, she couldn’t be sure if he’d be ruthless enough to kill an innocent woman and her children and the rest of her family. In fact, she was pretty sure Jeffrey would. For a long time now, he hadn’t been sane, and for all she knew, the insanity might have progressed since the last time they’d met.
Of course, she also realized that this might simply be a part of his plan to cause the maximum amount of pain to Mulder, Alex and everyone around them. His real plan might be to kill Samantha, and Dana and send the videotaped evidence of his crime to Mulder. This was a hopeless situation. Melissa had a feeling that whatever choice they made, they’d lose.
“You’re right. I’ll try to help you make Fox see that.”
“Thank you, Missy. I knew you’d understand. At times Mulder can be so – emotional.”
Making Mulder see the women’s point of view wasn’t quite as easy. And Melissa could tell she’d get no help from Alex in this. She hadn’t expected that anyway.
Feeling himself outnumbered, Mulder retreated into a sullen silence, that Dana decided to pretend was acquiescence, even though she knew better.
Part of her was now terrified of what she’d just committed to. Her babies – she hadn’t even told Mulder they were expecting twins –
And Jeffrey couldn’t even know that she was pregnant. What if that changed the way he felt about her? This was a gamble, she was well aware of that. But like she’d told Melissa, she didn’t think she could throw away the only chance they’d ever have of getting Samantha back.
Dana suggested that Alex help rig up some surveillance equipment to plant on her. Also, a number of useful tools and even a weapon or two, could be hidden in ways that Jeffrey might not think of. At least she hoped so.
“Yes, I think I have a handy little gadget or two that you might have use for. A transmitter. We could put that in – I don’t know – A watch? An earring? Something like that.”
“Wouldn’t he be able to trace it? If he’s got the equipment set up, which we’ll have to assume he has.”
“Maybe not. This is very sophisticated, but at the same time simple. Let’s hope he won’t be able to find it. And here’s another thing. Microexplosives. It looks like – you might be able to hide in some – what do you call it – Missy? The stuff you put on your face.”
“Yes, something like that.”
“How stable is it?”
“Very. You can pretty much do anything you like with it, until you add the detonator. That’s tiny too, so it will be easy to hide.”
“Do you think you might be able to give me something to knock Jeffrey out? A drug or something like that?”
“Hm. Maybe. I know of a thing or two we might use, but I don’t have it here. And the deadline is getting closer. We couldn’t exactly send out for it.”
“Never mind. If Jeffrey gets close enough, I’ll knock him out somehow. There has to be some stuff available.”
“Dana, he isn’t like he used to. You remember him as a wimp. But when he held me captive – he didn’t hesitate to hit me or -“
“I know. But he’d hardly hit me.”
At least she was hoping so.
“I can’t believe you’re going to let her go like this. I won’t let you. He’ll kill Samantha anyway and -“
She could tell that Mulder’s voice was close to breaking, and he wouldn’t want to lose all dignity like that in front of Alex and Melissa.
“Alex, Missy? Can we have a moment to ourselves?”
Of course they understood. Quietly, they left the room to leave Dana and Mulder some privacy.
“Mulder, please. You know this is our only chance. Jeffrey’s obsessed with me. Missy knows it, Alex knows it. You know it too. He won’t hurt me. And this way, someone can get close to Samantha and her family. I’ll get her back. I give you my word, Mulder. And if I can, I’ll – kill Jeffrey. We can’t let him go on like this. It’s as if he’s on a personal crusade to wipe out your family and everyone you care about.”
“I know, but – I love you so much, Dana. What if – what if I lose you as well as Samantha?”
“You won’t lose me. And you’ll get your sister back. Please trust me this once. Give me some credit. If he was asking for you, you’d expect me to let you go, wouldn’t you? What’s the difference?”
She knew what the difference was, but on the other hand, since they had no choice, she was going to have to take a chance.
Mulder felt as if he was trapped. In a way, he knew she was right, but then again, he knew that she was wrong. And at the same time, he knew that Samantha would die if Dana didn’t sacrifice herself. This was so unfair. Jeffrey had to know exactly how much it would hurt him to face this choice.
Why did that guy hate him so much? His family life? Jeffrey knew that wasn’t as happy as it might have looked. His mother? Yes, maybe. But Mulder thought Jeffrey loved Cassandra as much as he – Mulder – loved his mother, Teena. Surely it wasn’t the absurd idea that he envied him because of his looks? Mulder found that thought absolutely pathetic. Sure, Jeffrey was – homely to say the least. With a shake of his head, Mulder stopped trying to figure out the younger Spender.
“I – Alright. You win. How could I force you to stay if you’re all set on going? But -“
“I know, Mulder. I know. And I love you too. That’s why I have to do this. You know I can handle Jeffrey. He’s a pathetic little loser who’s trying too hard. But anyone would be able to do what he can, if he’d inherited his father’s position, like Jeffrey has.”
“But now he’s completely crazy.”
“Yes. There’s that. But he still wants me. I can use that.”
“That’s just it. What if he – “
Yes, that was one thing Dana feared more than anything else, except for finding Samantha and her family already dead, or – this time too, Jeffrey had managed to fool them.
“He wouldn’t. Especially not now. Even he wouldn’t be that crazy. Besides, if he gets that close – I’ll take him out somehow. You know I can do it.”
Maybe she could. Mulder had often thought that he’d be able to kill someone he hated. His own father. Spender. Junior. And Dana knew dirty tricks an ordinary agent didn’t. Things Mulder quite frankly wouldn’t want to know, though he could guess they existed. He’d read too many autopsy reports not to have a good hunch about them.
By now, he felt hot tears sting his eyes, and he looked away, not wanting Dana to see him like that.
But her voice called him back. He kneeled in front of her, and buried his face in her lap. It was probably his imagination, but he thought he felt the baby move just then.
He could feel her hands smoothing out his hair, gently stroking his neck.
They didn’t speak. Words felt strangely useless right now. What could she say anyway, to prove to her lover that she would be ok, when she didn’t know she would? But somehow, she felt an odd peace stealing over her. She knew what to do. If she just took one thing at a time, it would be alright. She had to trust in that.
She had only once in her life felt this totally alone, and she didn’t have much memory of that time. When Mulder and Alex dropped her off, leaving her to stand all alone, beside the road, in the middle of an unusually flat landscape, she felt tiny and helpless. She knew the guys wouldn’t be far off, and that Alex would be tracking her all the time, but she knew that they’d be too far away to do anything, in case Jeffrey had sent someone to kill her.
Despite everything, she found the strength to face the uncertainty of her immediate future. She wouldn’t show Jeffrey any weakness. He’d made a big mistake this time, and she would make him pay for it.
Though she didn’t want to, she found that her eyes were straying towards her wrist watch to see what time it was. Only ten minutes. It felt more like an hour. The sun was past zenith, but there would be hours of daylight left. Jeffrey would be there to pick her up long before sunset, she was guessing.
But the hours went by, and she walked over to the only bus stop in sight. It looked like it hadn’t been repaired since the 1970’s, but at least it had a bench where she could sit down. For some reason, practically no cars passed her by. Each time she heard one approaching, she braced herself for the confrontation. But it was just some farmer in a battered old pickup truck, or an ancient stationwagon, no doubt belonging to another farmer.
What was Jeffrey’s plan? Was this just a diversion while he carried out some other scheme somewhere else? Or had something gone wrong and she would be left sitting here until Mulder and Alex came to pick her up again, knowing that by now, Samantha would be dead, and her children with her?
Suddenly she heard a whirring noise from above, and she looked up, half expecting to see a crop-dusting plane up to no good, just like in the movie classic, but was stunned to see a helicopter approaching, then dropping quickly to land, in the middle of the road. Four armed men jumped out and came running straight for her, pointing their rifles at her.
Not until now did they notice her appearance. That couldn’t have been what they expected, and there was a look of stunned confusion stamped across their non-descript faces.
“Did Jeffrey Spender send you?”
“Then I’m the person he sent you to get. Dana Scully.”
She could tell that her name meant something to them. Apparently, that was good enough. With some effort she got up, and let herself be led towards the helicopter.
No one would answer her questions. Apparently, Jeffrey hadn’t wanted anyone to tell her anything. In any case, the flight didn’t last long. She had tried to follow their progress through the windows, but when the man who seemed to be in charge noticed, he had had her blindfolded. Seeing her like this had obviously unsettled the men. Uneasily she wondered what Jeffrey had told them.
Once the helicopter had touched down, she was led outside. She could feel the cool air on her face. Almost right away, she felt she was being led inside some large building. She wasn’t quite sure how she knew the building was large, but there was a definite sense of that.
Someone put a hand on her arm and pulled her forward.
“There’s a threshold. Careful.”
She recognized Jeffrey’s voice. Somewhere in the distance, she felt as if she could hear a trap slamming shut around her. Had she made the mistake, not Jeffrey?
A real door was shut behind her, and the blindfold was removed. It was a small room, which looked like an office of a kind, though seemingly long abandoned, judging by the layers of dust that covered the bare desktop, and the window.
Jeffrey pulled out the chair behind the desk and offered it to her. She would have loved to refuse, especially since it was the only chair in the room, and sitting down would leave Jeffrey looking down on her, but she thought better of it.
“I hope you had a pleasant trip? My men treated you ok?”
“Jeffrey – Could I see Samantha and her family, please?”
He frowned as if he didn’t like her seizing the initiative, then his face appeared to light up, maybe when her heard the word ‘please’.
“I suppose so.”
He walked over to the door, and called out a name. A man entered and stood at attention.
“Take dr Scully to see the prisoners.”
“All of them?”
“Just the young woman and the brats.”
Dana noted that Jeffrey was referring to her as ‘dr’, not ‘agent’. This puzzled her for a while, then she realized that Jeffrey had to know that she’d ‘retired’, for want of a better word.
She was wondering why Samantha and her children were kept apart from her husband and – wouldn’t there be another person with them – that nurse, what was her name again? – Arbutus Ray? Yes, Dana guessed that those were the two members of Samantha’s family that wouldn’t be present.
Why? She was hoping the other two wouldn’t be too badly hurt, if that was the reason they were being held apart from the others.
Now that she wasn’t blindfolded anymore, Dana realized they were inside a large warehouse building, the roof was high above their heads, and most of the interior was comprised of one large chamber. In the direction they were heading, there was a partitioning wall.
Her guide – or guard – opened the door in the wall and gestured for her to pass through. She could hear the door being locked behind her, but once inside she only had eyes for the prisoners inside. A young woman, looking exactly the way Mulder had described her, only, of course, older. On a mattress on the floor, Dana could see two children lying, apparently asleep. Samantha got up and stared at her, with no less interest.
“Are you Dana?”
“That’s right. I suppose you’re Samantha?”
“Yes. So you came. This man – little Jeffrey – is completely out of his mind. I’m afraid -“
“I know. Don’t worry about it. I’ll try to get you out of here.”
Samantha looked at her as if she didn’t make sense. In a way, Dana could understand the reaction. She knew she didn’t look very impressive. A short, pregnant woman, apparently unarmed. After casting a suspicious glance around the room, she decided not to explain further. Jeffrey would be fully capable of having the room bugged.
“I appreciate it. Did he – mention Jake or mother at all?”
“Not directly. I take it Jake’s your husband?”
“In a way.”
“Mother isn’t my real mother, of course.”
At the mention of Mulder’s and Samantha’s mother, Dana realized that this woman could have no idea that her own mother was dead. She decided not to give that away. Mulder could break the news to his sister later. In any case, she could tell that though Samantha appeared to be a very tough woman, she was now reaching breaking point.
“Can we sit down?”
If Samantha got the impression that she – Dana – needed to sit down, all the better.
The horrible old sofa didn’t look inviting, and Dana wondered where Jeffrey had dug that up or if it had come with the warehouse. But there was a sheet or something covering it, and she knew that stained clothes were her least concern anyway.
“Thank you. Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“Yes. But Jeffrey’s men had Jake beaten up. I think – it looked as if he’d broken an arm. Mother’s fine. At least she was the last time I saw her. Jeffrey took us in here to take the pictures and the video.”
Of course. Dana now recognized the squalid surroundings, though he must have had some lamps brought in for the lighting.
“We saw those. That’s why I knew I had to come. Mulder – Fox – didn’t really want to let me.”
“I can understand that. Especially -“
Samantha was now staring rather fixedly at Dana’s midriff. She probably felt this was a totally useless gesture. But surely she knew – or maybe she didn’t know – about the training she’d received at the Academy?
“Samantha – I don’t know how much you know about Fox and me -“
“I know that you have to be Fox’s wife or -“
“Yes, something like that.”
“Are you an agent just like he is?”
“I was. We both were. Right now – we’re on our own.”
“I see. Could you – tell me a little about Fox?”
Dana could see such hunger printed on Samantha’s face. Of course. At the moment, there really wasn’t anything she could do, so she might as well take the time to help Samantha catch up.
“Of course. What would you like to know?”
“I don’t know. How is he doing? I don’t mean right now. Before this -“
“I know. Well, I’ve been working with him for some years. Before that – I only know a little. He’s studied psychology. I don’t know how much you know -“
“Practically nothing. At least not since I managed to escape. Mother told me you seemed to be working together. For the FBI. That’s about all I know. She said he was looking just as handsome as he was when we were children.”
“What can I say? Of course he is. I’ve seen photos from back then. You won’t be disappointed. He’s spent most of his life since then trying to find you.”
Tears sprang to Samantha’s eyes.
“I knew he would.”
Her words were barely more than a whisper.
“He was my hero. My best friend.”
“He loves you very much, Samantha. He’s never wanted to give up on you.”
“But it’s so dangerous. Even since Spender died -“
“I know. And there’s far more danger -“
“I know that too. He used to tell me all kinds of things. To frighten me. To impress on me how useless it would be for me to run away. But I did anyway.”
“It’s amazing, how you managed to outrun him. To stay out of sight. Considering all the resources he had at his disposal.”
“Oh. I guess so.”
“You’ll have to tell Fox all about it later. I’ll try to get Jeffrey to let me see your husband and make sure he’s alright. At least ms Ray would be able to deal with a fracture if there is one.”
“I hope so. If she’s got materials to work with. And he’s got to be in pain.”
“I’ll ask Jeffrey -“
But it seemed Jeffrey felt he’d had enough of these confidences. The door burst open and Jeffrey himself came to get Dana.
“That’s enough. I didn’t bring you all this way just so you and Samantha could catch up on the latest gossip.”
“Jeffrey, now that you have me, why don’t you let Samantha and her family go? That was the deal.”
He didn’t like that, she could tell from his suddenly even more pinched features. It looked as if he’d suddenly bit into a lemon.
“We’ll see about that. In the meantime, I want you to come with me. Now. As you can see, Samantha and her brats are alright.”
Mulder stared avidly at his brother, as he was fiddling with the controls of his equipment.
“It looks as if Jeffrey hasn’t found the transmitter. It’s still working. If -“
Alex had read the sudden glint of hope in Mulder’s eyes and he held up a hand, as if he could ward off this premature hope. Even if they did know where Dana was, from there to actually being able to save her and Samantha and her family, there was a huge leap.
“Mulder. He might have found it and dropped it somewhere. But it looks as if it’s still there. So far so good. We’ll find out when we get there.”
Melissa pushed back her chair and stood up.
“Great. When are we leaving?”
“Missy, please. Wouldn’t you consider staying here? Let me and Fox deal with it.”
“No way. If you find the place, I’ll consider letting you guys go in without me, but there’s way I’m going to stay here.”
Alex hadn’t really expected his lover to agree.
“Not just yet. I’m waiting to hear from my contacts.”
“I tried to get in touch with Walter. So far nothing.”
“How long are we waiting? If they don’t get back to you soon, we’ll have to go without them.”
“They’ll be in touch. But we probably won’t have to wait for them to get here. They’ll meet us there.”
“I’ll go and check if there’s an email from Walter.”
Mulder walked over to his laptop, connected the modem to the little gadget that supposedly masked their IP-address, then dialled out.
It was ridiculous, but when he heard that little tone that told him he did have new mail, he felt absurdly hopeful. Even if it was from Walter, or Frohike, with a message from Walter, he knew there wouldn’t be much direct assistance his former boss could offer. He was right. As fast as he could, he scanned the mail. Walter would use the FBI’s resources to track Jeffrey’s organization, but in the short perspective, Walter couldn’t send any weapons or men to help.
Mulder knew he shouldn’t have expected more, but part of him knew that he had. Now all he could hope for was that Alex’ contacts would deliver.
Marita couldn’t believe Jeffrey had been so rash. Abducting Samantha and her family. Demanding Dana in exchange for them. She shook her head, but couldn’t help feeling somehow faintly responsible for the calamity that had befallen the Mulders and the Scullys.
At least Jeffrey hadn’t been able to manage this without the help of her employers. And through them, she had found out about the situation. Her guilty conscience wouldn’t leave her any peace. No matter what risks she was placing herself in, she had to pay back the debt she owed Mulder. Fortunately, there were those among her associates who owed her. Even if it meant that she’d risk causing her superiors’ wrath.
With a grim expression on her face, Marita did something she almost never had to do. She armed herself. She was betting not even Alex Krycek knew that she was a good shot, and that she even knew a thing or two about close combat. Not enough, but more than Jeffrey or anyone knew.
She didn’t anticipate having to use those skills, instead she was counting on her allies to back her up, using heavier firepower, but when dealing with Junior, she had learned long since, that it paid to come prepared.
Jeffrey wouldn’t be pleased to see her, but since he still needed her employers, she knew he wasn’t in a position to object. Besides, Jeffrey was always partial to the charms of a woman. In her earlier dealings with Jeffrey, Marita had always been too – squeamish to cater to Jeffrey’s emotions.
Today, she realized that she must not leave a single stone unturned. If necessary, she’d use her charm on Jeffrey, but though it was easy to underestimate him, she knew she couldn’t do that. She hadn’t found him the least bit attractive in the past. Now if she suddenly turned right around and began flirting with him, he was sure to suspect something.
It was a tricky situation, and one that Marita would have done anything to avoid. But a debt was a debt, even when the other party in the incident would never acknowledge her. If she saved Dana Scully’s life and returned Mulder’s sister and her family, that debt would be paid in full. Those accumulating unpaid debts would eventually catch up with her, if she didn’t take action.
“Can I get you anything?”
What? Junior couldn’t be serious. He had so far studiously avoided acknowledging her condition. Her pleas on Jake’s behalf had gone unheard. And now this madman was standing there offering her refreshments?
Something of her disbelief must have communicated itself to him, and he chose to interpret it in a slightly different light.
“Don’t look so surprised. This place might not be – what you’re used to, but I have stocked up on supplies. What would you like? Tea? Coffee? Something more substantial?”
Dana forced herself to maintain the illusion that she was merely Jeffrey’s guest, though she felt increasingly frustrated at the pretense.
“Tea would be nice.”
Cookies? This was getting more and more unreal. For a second, Dana wondered if somehow she had ended up unconscious and this was a weird fever dream.
“No thanks. Tea will be fine.”
Jeffrey left the filthy little office and called to one of his men. Dana smothered a smile. Where in their contracts did it say that these mercenaries also needed to be able to brew tea? She fleetingly wondered what would have happened if she had asked Jeffrey for a three course dinner.
“While we’re waiting, why don’t we have a nice conversation.”
Since her last visit in this bare room, Dana noted that Jeffrey had brought another chair, this time one more comfortable. It was the one she was sitting in now. Jeffrey had seized the chair behind the desk and pulled it over to sit facing her over by the wall.
A nice conversation? She couldn’t imagine what such a conversation might be about. With a mental shake of her head, Dana decided to play by his rules for the time being, until she’d made a plan for her course of action.
“I’m so glad to finally have you here. Didn’t Fox tell you how much I -”
“Fox told me a lot of things.”
“It doesn’t matter. You’re here now.”
The look on his face seemed to hint that now that she was here, she was staying for a long time. Dana forced down a minute touch of panic. She could handle him. He wouldn’t be able to keep her here. But her silence was dragging on. What on earth did you say to a maniac who was holding you captive?
“The Mulder family is – infested – deceased. A woman like you shouldn’t involve herself in that – filth. They’re rotten through and through. Incest. Pederasty. Adultery.”
Adultery? That was a new one, at least if Jeffrey was now hinting something about Teena Mulder. Dana had hardly finished the thought, when Jeffrey began to expand on his topic.
“You see, my father slept with her too. He was very clever. And he must have been quite a man when he was younger. To be able to attract so many different people and to command their loyalties. Yes, Teena Mulder did at one time find him irresistible. Charming, isn’t it? She must have had no idea he was at the same time sleeping with her husband.”
“Excuse me, Jeffrey, but how did you learn about this – relationship between your father and mrs Mulder?”
“He told me of course. He was hinting that one day I might find the younger generation attractive.”
The look on Dana’s face at this less than subtle revelation would have proved transparent to anyone but Jeffrey. At the moment, he was far too busy reliving someone else’s past to even pay attention.
“I didn’t, of course. Though Samantha is quite a woman. But I had already met you.”
At this point, Jeffrey’s eyes fastened on Dana, travelling up and down her body in a way that made her blush, no matter how hard she tried to act normally. Completely and utterly insane. Certifiable. To avoid panicking Dana began to diagnose the condition in her mind. Through early childhood experiences, Jeffrey had – Suddenly, Dana became aware of Jeffrey talking to her again. She hadn’t heard a word he said.
“What? I’m sorry. I’m a little tired. The trip was exhausting and -”
That might do the trick. If Jeffrey left her alone somewhere –
“Of course. I’m sorry. What am I thinking? I’m afraid there’s only one comfortable room, but I can have Samantha and her brats removed -”
“No. That’s alright. I don’t mind sharing. In fact – you could have Jake and ms Ray brought there as well. It would be very considerate of you.”
Jeffrey stared at her as if he had never heard the names she mentioned. A niggling doubt at the back of Dana’s mind made her wonder if Jeffrey had already had Jake and the old lady killed.
“Samantha’s husband and the old lady. The nurse.”
“Oh. Those. They’d only disturb you. At least the man. He’s injured. You mustn’t exert yourself.”
“That’s alright. The old lady is a nurse so she could deal with Jake’s injuries.”
“We’ll see. Later. For now, I think you should go and get some rest.”
Dana gave up. There was no point in aggravating the situation by making Jeffrey angry.
“Thank you. You’re very kind.”
If Jeffrey didn’t see through her pretense, he was an even bigger fool than she thought, but she still hoped he wouldn’t.
When Dana was taken back to the little room where Samantha and her children were being held, both kids were awake and Dana could tell Samantha was having a hard time keeping them occupied. It tore at her heart to see how Samantha looked at her with hope in her eyes. And Dana knew that she had to crush that hope. But at least she could tell her her husband was still alive.
As soon as the door had closed behind her, Samantha opened her mouth to inquire about her loved ones.
“He wouldn’t let me see them, but they’re still here. I asked him again, if they couldn’t be brought here, but he said maybe later.”
The little girl walked up to her and subjected her to an unashamed stare.
“Who are you?”
“Have you come to help us?”
“If I can.”
“Dana’s a friend of your uncle Fox.”
“Have you met him?”
“Yes, I have. I know him quite well.”
“Does he look like a fox?”
Dana smiled. She knew the child didn’t mean that in the same way an adult might.
“Not really. He’s just an ordinary man.”
“I haven’t met your daddy yet, but probably.”
“Do you have a baby in there?”
“When can we leave this place? I don’t like being here.”
“I don’t know. Soon, I hope.”
“That’s enough, Kristy. Dana didn’t come here to answer all your questions. I need to talk to her now. Why don’t you play with Steven?”
“Play what? This place is really boring.”
“I have a sister called Melissa. When we were little, and our parents went for a long drive, she and I used to play a game. I could teach it to you, if you like.”
“Yes. Is your sister Melissa here?”
“No. She’s not here. Alright. You do it like this -”
Soon the two children were happily playing the game that Melissa had invented to amuse her little sister all those years ago. Dana hadn’t been quite sure if these two were old enough to play, but either they were more mature than they looked, or the game was suitable for younger children than she had thought.
She had only told Jeffrey she was tired so she could get some time to herself, but now Dana realized that she really was exhausted. Now that she was here, she might as well take advantage of what rest she could get.
The two women sat down on the sofa, and began to talk in low voices. Perhaps with the children making all that noise, Jeffrey wouldn’t be able to listen in on their conversation, if he was bugging the room.
“How far are you gone? It looks pretty advanced.”
“Not as far as it looks. It’s twins.”
“Fox must be so pleased.”
“Yes. Except he doesn’t know that it’s twins yet. We live in a place far from hospitals and so on. I only learned about it a few weeks ago.”
“I see. But he knows you’re pregnant. He must be so happy.”
“Yes. We both are. At least until -”
“I know. Usually, we’ve been able to stay one step ahead of -”
“I think, but I’m not sure, that this is all because Jeffrey hates Fox. Also, he’s got an obsession with me. I’m sorry you had to get caught up in this.”
“It’s not your fault. We’ve been hunted for years. Since before the children were born.”
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to live like that. But now -”
“Do you have a plan?”
Samantha’s words were no more than a whisper.
“Yes. At least I came prepared. I have a thing or two that might – Just in case, I won’t go into details. And – Fox and a few others are keeping an eye on the situation. They might be able to come and get us out.”
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. A knock? In this place. Dana and Samantha got to their feet and walked over to the door. What was this?
That voice. An expression of rage flew across Dana’s features. Marita Covarrubias. Not even considering her situation, Dana knew that she would now at last be able to exact her revenge on the woman she hated more than any other.
She didn’t reply, but looked around for some weapon. There was nothing to be seen, but she decided to try anyway. Perhaps Samantha might be of help, though with her two children around, that might not be fair to ask.
“What’s wrong, Dana?”
“I can’t explain now. But this woman – I’m going to – I hate her. Do you think you might be able to help me knock her out?”
“Is she working with Jeffrey?”
“Yes, but – I can’t tell you all about it, but something she’s done has caused Fox a lot of pain.”
“That’s good enough for me. Kristy, Steven. Let’s play a game. Go and lie down behind the sofa. Yes. It’s hide and seek. Hurry.”
To Dana’s relief, the children immediately crawled behind the sofa and disappeared from sight.
“Dana, I’m going to come in. I have something to discuss with you.”
Slowly, the door swung open. By that time, the two women had moved into position. When Marita stepped across the threshold, she felt herself being grabbed and pushed up against the wall. Someone’s hands were squeezing her neck and all her instincts called out to her to break herself free. Apparently, Fox had told Dana what had happened. This would make her mission even more difficult.
“Dana, wait. Let me tell you something before you -”
Quickly, before Marita had time to react, Dana had found and removed Marita’s gun. Marita felt naked without it, but realized that if she wanted to prove her good intentions, she would have to accept this indignity. At least the hands eased off her neck.
“Turn around slowly. I want to look into your eyes when I finish you.”
Samantha felt a cold hand clutch her heart. If this woman had indeed caused her brother pain, she agreed with Dana, death was no more than this person deserved. But not in front of her children.
She didn’t hear anything above the pounding of her pulse in her ears. This woman had – Nothing would stand in the way of getting her revenge.
“Dana. Listen to me. I’m not proud of what I did, but let me try and make it up to you. I’ve come to get you and Samantha and her family out of here. Right now, my men are drawing Jeffrey’s men away from here. If we hurry – Jeffrey will come looking for you in a minute, but if you trust me, I’ll deal with him while you get away. The area around here is safe. No mines or other traps. There’s a wooded area to the east. If you stay out of sight there -”
She didn’t want to listen to her enemy, but somehow, the words were beginning to sink in. Could Marita be trusted? Why should she trust her? But on the other hand, this was the chance they needed. With Marita creating a diversion –
Regretfully, Dana let the gun point down at the floor. No matter how she would have loved to squeeze the trigger she knew she couldn’t do it. It went against everything she stood for. Her Hippocratic oath. Besides, only now did she remember the two little witnesses hiding behind the sofa.
“Alright. What do you have to offer?”
“I’ll deal with Jeffrey. Keep my gun. Do you have anything else?”
“Don’t you worry about that. Ok. Draw Jeffrey away, or I’ll take him out. How did you get here? Do you have transportation?”
“Nothing you can use right now.”
“Fine. Well? What are you waiting for? Go get Jeffrey.”
Marita nodded. Without the gun, she’d need all her wits about her, but she thought she had a few ideas on what to use to trick Jeffrey. Before she left, she turned and faced Dana. Marita was trying to convey a message. When you’re out of here, we’re even.
Dana didn’t want to receive that message at all. If we ever meet again, run for your life.
Marita opened the door, and looking right and left, she slipped out and vanished from sight.
“Samantha? Where did you last see Jake and ms Ray? Bring the children. We have to go.”
“Kristy, Steven. We’re going to find daddy and gram.”
Both children seemed to spring to attention. This escape scene had apparently been acted out many times during their young lives.
Dana was keeping watch at the door, and when she felt the coast was clear, she waved her protegees on. The place appeared deserted. Samantha directed her to a small storage room, off in the opposite direction of the office and the small room they had just left.
Dana noted that the room was barely more than a closet. Leaving an injured man lying in that cupboard was just another proof of Jeffrey’s ruthlessness. She was hoping the young man wouldn’t be too severely injured. Three women and two children were in no way capable of carrying a grown man. Samantha had to realize that.
“Change of plan. You take the children and go into hiding in the woods. Go on. I’ll come and find you later.”
“Samantha. I’m a medical doctor. I’ll see to your husband. Go on. In a moment there might be shots fired. You don’t want your children around then. Hurry.”
Dana knew what Samantha must be going through, but now was not the time for torn loyalties. And she could see Samantha coming to the same decision.
“Come on, kids. Daddy will catch up with us later.”
When Samantha and the children had retreated, Dana looked around. So far Marita appeared to be keeping up her end of the bargain. The door to the closet wasn’t locked. She was wondering what was keeping the two prisoners inside, if they still were.
The door didn’t give her any trouble. As soon as she caught sight of the young man on the floor she realized that it was bad. The nurse would have done what she could for him, but without any bandages or other medical equipment –
“Just dr Scully nowadays, actually.”
“A medical doctor?”
A sudden hope lit up in the old woman’s eyes.
“Yes. How badly is he injured?”
“Some fractures. Right arm. Ribs. Nothing complicated, but it’s been a long time, and I don’t have anything to work with.”
“No. Nothing like that. Elevated temperature. Pain.”
“I see. Well, I don’t have any supplies either, but I’ll take a look. I suppose he won’t be able to move on his own?”
The old nurse hesitated. If she’d still been working in a hospital, she would have said no, but under these circumstances –
“If he comes to, he’ll try. Jake’s a fighter. Just like Samantha.”
“Yes. Ms Ray. Nurse. Would you please keep watch at the door. I’ll make a quick examination.”
The nurse’s diagnosis was correct. Dana didn’t have anything to add. In her estimation, Jake might be able to move, with support. But the pain had to be intense. She wished she had been able to bring her medical supplies, but as it was –
“I agree with your assessment.”
“Jake. Wake up. Can you hear me?”
Dana let her hands move across Jake’s feverish face. Not good. The temperature seemed to be on the rise. If he didn’t receive proper treatment, and that in itself was difficult, even if they got away –
“Let me try.”
With a great deal of effort, the elderly nurse dropped to her knees and began to stroke the young man’s hair.
“Jake. Samantha and the children are safe.”
But they didn’t get through to him. Dana didn’t like this unresponsive state. The patient was in a state of shock and if they didn’t get him to a more comfortable place, she didn’t know what to do for him.
Dana looked up. What was that? A car? Yes, there was the sound of an engine moving closer, then being turned off. Could this be Marita’s transportation? Or – She held her breath in anticipation.
“Stay here. I’ll go and check outside.”
She pushed the door shut again. In case this was Jeffrey or his men, she didn’t want to place Jake and ms Ray at more risk.
But she recognized that vehicle. Fox. Now Fox and Alex jumped out, their guns at the ready. Such a relief to see them again. She ran out to meet them, but didn’t forget to stay close to the wall. If Jeffrey or one of his men were to see them –
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine. So is Samantha and her children. But you need to go and get her husband. He’s injured. Come on, I’ll show you. Is that Missy driving?”
Alex made a gesture that looked decidedly Russian, which seemed to indicate ‘what can you do’. Yes, it was Melissa sitting behind the wheel, making the thumbs up sign to her sister. She should have known nothing would have induced her sister to stay behind.
Within seconds, they were outside the door to the storage closet. Fox opened the door.
“Only plain old mr Mulder now, and in fact, we don’t use the name at all.”
He put away his gun and bent to pick up the injured young man off the floor. Fortunately, Jake wasn’t very heavy.
“I had to tell her to go on ahead. They’re hiding in a wooded area to the east of here.”
“I’ll go and find them.”
Alex set off in the direction Dana had indicated.
“I’ll go with him. Samantha doesn’t know him and -”
Fox realized she was right, but he didn’t want to let her out of his sight. Besides, he wanted to be the one to go and meet Samantha and her children. But he realized he could hardly ask Alex to carry a grown man.
Still, there was no sign of Jeffrey’s men or Jeffrey himself. Not of Marita either. So far so good. Dana was wondering how she would be able to bring that up with Mulder.
Dana was unpleasantly aware of the target she and Alex made, standing around like this.
At least Samantha hadn’t gone far.
“It’s ok. You can come out. Fox is here. They brought the truck.”
Samantha froze in her tracks as she caught sight of the strange man.
“It’s ok, Samantha. Alex is with us. He and my sister Melissa -”
“In fact -”
Dana knew that Mulder might want to explain this himself, but now that Samantha had met Alex it might be easier if she found out right away how they were related.
In the meantime, Alex was herding the women and children back towards the car.
“Alexei. You must be Samantha. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
He and Dana exchanged look over the children’s shoulders.
Samantha caught that look and a worried frown appeared on her face.
“What is it that you’re not telling me?”
“I’m your brother, Samantha.”
“Not exactly. I’ll explain later.”
“Alexei? Isn’t that Russian?”
“Yes. It is. Long story.”
Now they had the truck in sight and they were hurriedly crammed into it. By now, it was extremely crowded. Ms Ray and the injured Jake were in the back. Melissa took up the driver’s seat, and Alex got in beside her.
That left the back seat for three grownups and two children. Dana knew that Mulder would want to sit beside his sister, so she waited until first Samantha, then her children and finally Mulder had sat down. The little boy had accepted his mother’s suggestion that he sit on the strange man’s lap.
Finally, Dana slammed the door shut behind her and Melissa turned the truck around and got them out of there.
Mulder faced his sister over the dark head that kept bobbing up and down. Apparently, the little boy appreciated the adventure.
“Fox? Are you my uncle Fox?”
The little boy’s face was transformed by a brilliant smile.
“Yes, I am. And who are you?”
“I’m Steven, of course.”
The expression on his face seemed to say that grownups were incredibly stupid.
“What about you?”
“You remember my best friends, don’t you, Fox?”
“Chrissie and Stephanie.”
“Oh. Yes. Those two were always giggling and staring at me, but they never said anything”
“That’s because they both had a big crush on you.”
“They did? Oh. Samantha, you have no idea how much I’ve missed you.”
“I think I do. About as much as I’ve missed you. Are you alright?”
“Me? I’m fine. What about you?”
“Yes, we’re fine. At least me and the children are. Jake -”
“Don’t worry about Jake, Samantha. Even if we can’t take him to a hospital, I have medical supplies at home. Ms Ray and I will be able to put a cast on that fracture. I also have morphine for the pain. He’ll be fine. The fractures aren’t serious. We’ll just bandage those ribs, and he’ll be up and walking in a few days.”
“Missy? Alex? Any sign of pursuit?”
Dana knew that she could hardly count on Mulder to be keeping his head under these circumstances.
Suddenly, there was a loud bang, coming from somewhere behind them. Dana looked back and saw a huge cloud rising from the direction of the warehouse they’d just left.
Alex turned to face her.
“Was that your doing?”
“No. It must have been – I’ll discuss that later. At least we weren’t there when it happened.”
Mulder and Samantha didn’t appear to be listening to her. Good. Time enough later to decide if she should tell Mulder about Marita.
“Turn off here. Go on. No need to make things easy for Jeffrey if he’s still around.”
Alex seemed to agree with her plan and made no comment. The long drive was interrupted a few times, when the children expressed a wish to go outside. Dana was concerned that they might be carsick, but Samantha assured her that they only needed to go to the bathroom.
At last, they turned off onto the small track that led to their own place. By then, they had determined that there was no sign of pursuit.
“Are we going to live here, uncle Fox?”
“I hope so. Do you like it?”
“Yes. Do you have ponies or kittens or -”
“No. No pets. But you’ve got woods to play in. I might be able to build you a tree house.”
“Is it safe for them to play here?”
“Yes. It should be. In the daytime.”
“Let’s get them inside now so we can feed them.”
“There are a few spare rooms, one that might be suitable for the children. Right next to the other two. On the second floor. We don’t use that much. The place is big enough.”
“Yes. It looks great.”
Half an hour later, Melissa had managed to produce a meal seemingly by magic. The children tucked into the food as if they hadn’t been fed for days, and maybe they hadn’t. Jeffrey certainly hadn’t bothered to inquire about their physical needs. Melissa then took Samantha and the children upstairs to settle them into their room.
Once the children were settled in, Samantha and Melissa returned downstairs. Even if the children were tired, the others wouldn’t be able to sleep for some time yet.
Dana and ms Ray set to work on treating Jake’s injuries. There was a small spare room downstairs as well and for the time being, they’d keep the patient there.
Melissa decided to get out of everyone’s way, leaving brothers and sister to get reacquainted.
Alex had intended to join Melissa, but there was something weighing on his mind, that he felt he needed to get out into the open.
“Alex. Or do you prefer to be called Alexei?”
“No, Alex will do.”
“I never quite understood how we came to be brother and sister. You said mom never got married again?”
She glanced inquiringly at Fox.
“No. Mom and dad divorced after – your disappearance. But mom never remarried. In the end, they still kept in touch.”
“Samantha – I killed our father.”
“You did? Wonderful. If you hadn’t, I would have had to do it myself. Fox, does Alex know about -”
Samantha got up and walked over to her new brother and embraced and kissed him.
“I always wanted another brother or sister. But I don’t get it. How did dad have another kid? I thought – I mean, I know he wasn’t into women. He and Spender didn’t bother hiding in front of me.”
“That’s a long story. It also explains why I’m half – well, partially Russian. But I think that story will keep. I’m sure you and Fox will want to catch up.”
“No. Please tell me. I’m dying of curiosity.”
“Ok. Well, I was born in Russia to a girl who was half-Russian. Her parents were an American defector and a Russian woman. My mother, Jelena, was – the KGB more or less owned her. She was a drug addict, and the victim of sexual abuse. The KGB had her prostituting herself so they could blackmail foreign diplomats or Russian politicians they wanted a hold on. For a while, she was – given to an American who was working with this particular branch of the KGB. The same organization which Spender worked for. You know what I mean?”
“I didn’t know until recently that Bill Mulder was my father, but Jeffrey kindly pointed that out to me. He even provided me with documentation. Jelena getting pregnant must have been something her employers hadn’t expected. Back then, in the Soviet Union, the contraceptive of choice was abortion. So she must have loved me a lot to risk keeping me. They could easily have decided she and the unborn baby weren’t worth the trouble and had her – terminated. She even tried to stay off the drugs while she was carrying me. Not that I knew any of that back then.”
“Alex, I’m sorry. It seems we all have a lot in common.”
“Samantha? Spender didn’t -”
“No. Of course not. But they did some experiments on me. Never mind. I’ll tell you about that later. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. Alex, please go on. I want to know all about you.”
Alex smiled sadly.
“I’m not so sure about that, but ok. When I was nine, Jelena died. They decided to keep me. For a few years, I was placed with a couple who were supposed to be my parents. After about a year, they let me carry on where Jelena left off.”
It took a while for this to sink in. Both Fox’ and Samantha’s eyes widened in horror.
“I – don’t know what to say. You never told me this before -”
“No, I guess I didn’t. But you knew enough.”
Samantha had tears in her eyes and again, she embraced her brother.
“I told you, you wouldn’t want to know. It gets worse. In time, I become an assassin, a spy and – ask Fox – a traitor.”
“Not a traitor, Alex. I’m sorry I ever said any of that.”
“I worked for Spender.”
“But you quit.”
“Samantha, I killed him too.”
“Good for you. Saves me the trouble. After what he did – I would have enjoyed it.”
It was dawning on Alex that his sister really was made of steel underneath that dainty exterior. Maybe they weren’t so different after all.
“I’m glad you think so. Anyway, I think that’s enough about me.”
“Except for one thing. What happened to your arm?”
Apparently nothing got past Samantha’s watchful eyes. This was far more than Alex was comfortable discussing.
“Oh, that. It was back in Russia. Mulder and I were working together back then. In a manner of speaking. What can I say? Occupational hazard. I’ll tell you all about the details later.”
“I didn’t mean to -”
“It’s alright. Water under the bridge. But I think I’ll go and join Melissa now. We’ll talk later, Samantha.”
“Alex. I’m really glad you’re our brother.”
“I’m glad too. I’m looking forward to getting to know you. And your children. I don’t know if you noticed, but Melissa and I are expecting our first.”
“Our kids will be cousins.”
“Yes. Let’s hope we’ll be able to watch over them so nothing happens to them.”
“Oh, we will. Good night, Alex and thanks.”
Fox and Samantha watched Alex leave, then turned to face each other.
With a few short steps, Fox closed the remaining distance between them and pulled his sister into a hard embrace.
“I’ll never let you go again, Samantha. Never.”
“And I won’t let you go. Fox – about back then – how much do you remember of that night?”
“Nothing. I thought I did. But I realized that someone had tampered with my memories and I don’t know anything. Samantha? Did he have you taken away to keep you quiet about -”
“Yes. I thought you’d figured that out. I wish I’d told mom right away, but I never got a chance. Dad was all over me all the time.”
“I understand. You were just a kid.”
“So were you. It didn’t help, did it?”
“No. But when they got a divorce, eventually I managed to tell mom I didn’t want to go and see him anymore.
“They divorced? Did she find out about it? Or about him and Spender?”
“No. Not really. But I think she suspected he had something to do with your disappearance.”
“Oh. Fox, about mom -”
“Samantha, there’s something I need to tell you.”
“She’s dead too, isn’t she? Did he -”
“No. But you’re right. She’s gone. I’m sorry.”
“I – think I wanted to see her again. But part of me was so angry at her too. How could she not suspect? She should have known.”
“I don’t know. It’s not as if I wanted her to know.”
“That night. I think he’d had you drugged. You were lying there, looking like you were awake, but you didn’t seem to see me or the men who came to pick me up.”
“I see. Yes, that makes sense. Of course, I could easily have been trying to block it all out. For years, I tried to tell myself that what he did to me never happened. It wasn’t until Dana and I – She was the one who helped me face the truth and get past it.”
“You’re lucky to have her. She seems to be a really special person. And tough.”
“Yes, she is. Just like you.”
“Oh. Well, I guess I had to be.
“You were. What you did for me -”
“Wouldn’t you have done the same?”
“I would have tried to help you, but I was too scared of him to confront him.”
“Well, whatever you would have done, I know you would have been there for me. As you always were. Fox, I want you to know that whatever happened to me later, I’ve never regretted it. I could never have lived with myself if I hadn’t tried.”
Mulder felt his eyes mist over and he buried his face in Samantha’s hair. At least it was over. She was safe. They all were.
Dana silently opened the door a crack and looked in on Mulder and Samantha. She had intended to tell them Jake was coming to, but that could wait. The morphine was making her patient a bit hazy anyway. He wasn’t particularly eager to see his wife at this point.
Just as silently, she closed the door. Now she remembered to send an email to their former boss to let him know they were ok. They were. All of them. To her relief, she could tell that the babies inside her womb were alright too. But she was tired. Mulder would join her when he was ready. For now, she needed a little sleep. Ms Ray had assured her that at her age you didn’t need all that much sleep and that she’d be happy to sit with Jake.
She couldn’t believe it. After all these years, here they all were together. Ever since she’d first met Mulder, she’d desperately wished he could have his sister back. And here she was. Now Jeffrey wouldn’t be able to hurt them, assuming he was still alive. She had to admit that Marita had done more than could be expected to pay back her debt. Not that it was enough. Nothing would ever be enough, but right now Dana was glad she’d let her enemy live.
“Walter? Any news about the children?”
“Yes. They’re fine. I just got an email from them.”
“Would you like to come over? I’m making dinner.”
Skinner hesitated. He’d love to, but at the same time –
“Don’t be silly. It’s no trouble at all. Will John be joining us?”
A hot flush suffused his cheeks. No. Not again. For some reason he didn’t want his two lovers to meet. The encounter had been extremely satisfying, but still –
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Very well. But you will come, won’t you?”
“Thanks, Margaret. I’d love to.”
Something told him this wasn’t going to be a passionate visit.
He could definitely get used to this. Dinner. Dessert. Coffee and a brandy. Pleasant small talk. It was just like when he’d been married, yet strangely different. His wife had been sweet. In ways, he’d loved her companionship. But there was something about Margaret that appealed to him like no other woman could.
After dinner, they retreated into the living room, for a coffee. Soon they were immersed in conversation.
“Walter. I’ve often meant to ask you – Don’t you ever regret not having children?”
He stared at her for so long, Margaret was beginning to feel that she’d made a mistake. Perhaps the topic was more painful to him than she had anticipated. But she usually wasn’t wrong about these things.
“Actually – I’ve never told anyone about this, but I do have children. Two. A girl and a boy. Both grownup by now.”
“But I thought – you and your wife never had any children?”
“No. I wasn’t married to their mother. This was a very long time ago. In Vietnam – I met a Chinese girl. She was – a prostitute, but I set her up in an apartment and after a while, she became pregnant. Then before my tour of duty was over, she became pregnant again. I was already married, so I couldn’t bring her with me. But I made sure they were provided for. My daughter is an architect by now, and my son is an engineer. Jenny – my girlfriend – married a banker. We don’t keep in touch any more, but I do keep an eye on my children even if they don’t know me.”
“I see. That’s wonderful. I’m only sorry you never got a chance to get to know your children.”
“Yes. But at least they’re safe. You’re the only person who knows about them. In my line of work, it’s better that way. Especially since I couldn’t do anything for them, other than I was already doing. Providing the money for their upbringing.”
“Yes, I do realize that it must have been impossible for you to bring them to the United States.”
“Exactly. I don’t suppose I would have been able to explain to my wife about them. Margaret – I didn’t intend to cheat on my wife, but for various reasons, I wasn’t happy in my marriage.”
“I think I can see why.”
Under Margaret’s knowing look, Walter again felt himself blushing. Of course, she understood all about his little secret, and the other even bigger secret. On the other hand, that in no way explained why he had sought out Jenny’s gentle companionship.
But the situation in Vietnam was reason enough. At that time there would have been no way he could have had a young man settled into an apartment. At least he knew he could trust Margaret and there was no one he loved more these days. No one he’d ever loved more. It was something he hadn’t even considered before, and the realization struck him all at once. If only he’d met Margaret years ago.
“I just got an email from Frohike. He assures me he’s taking good care of my fish.”
“That’s sweet of him. I hope there was no mention of me in that email?”
Mulder blushed and looked away. So there had been. Dana didn’t think she wanted to know.
“Anything else? Anything we need to know?”
“Jeffrey hasn’t been heard of since that explosion. But I doubt if we can count him out again.”
“No, I doubt that. Mulder, there’s something else I’ve been meaning to tell you. Marita was there.”
“She was helping Jeffrey?”
“No. That’s just it. She came to help me get Samantha out.”
“Why would she do a thing like that?”
“Apparently, she felt she owed us.”
Judging by Mulder’s stricken face, he too, realized what might have been motivating Marita this time.
“Oh. Well, at least you’re all here now. And safe.”
“Yes, that’s the main thing. I’m so happy for you. And Samantha and her family are terrific. I don’t think we’ll have any problem getting along out here.”
“What? No, of course not. Jake seems to be ok. And it might be a good idea for us to have a nurse around too. Especially now.”
“Yes. There’s that. But there’s no need for you to worry. We’re fine.”
Mulder’s tense features relaxed into a smile. Yes. He had all his loved ones with him and they were all safe. That was all that mattered. At the moment, the threat from the alien conspiracy felt very distant.
It would be so easy to lull oneself into a false sense of security. They mustn’t do that. As long as they were watchful, at least they wouldn’t be caught unawares. And they couldn’t lose this fight. If they did, they would lose everything.