Parvor Nocturnus

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PARVOR NOCTURNUS

AUTHOR: Ewa

E-mail: ewa@whatewa.com

ARCHIVES: IMTP for the first two weeks, then whatewa,

Ephemeral, Gossamer, MTA, and any other site that has

received prior written permission. All others, please

contact the author

SPOILER: Avatar

RATING: PG 17

CATEGORY: X-file VS9

KEYWORDS: MSA/R, Sk, M POV,

SUMMARY: Scully stands accused of murder.

DISCLAIMER: Mulder & Scully as well as all other

recognizable character references belong to Chris

Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions, and Twentieth Century

Fox Television. They are used here without permission.

No copyright infringement is intended. Kenny ‘The Kid’

Andrews is the creation of Susan Proto and Vickie

Moseley and was released to consult on this case with

their permission. Other characters belong to the

author.

THANKS: To Susan Proto and Vickie Moseley for Kenny. To

Laurie and Vickie for their beta and for their helpful

suggestions. To Tabula Raza for beta reading this

concoction. With comments like ‘[oh my god! he almost

killed Kenny! that bastard! sorry. couldn’t help it.

I’ll thwap myself]’, she made correcting this a lot

more fun. Thanks also to Brandon Ray who cooperated

with the continuity and the biggest bouquet to Susan

who, with her ‘slicin’ and dicin’, made this what it

is. What a wonderful team you all are.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: Parvor Nocturnus – Night terrors.

This was written as one of the episodes of Virtual Season 9.

Feedback always welcome! It’s the only recompense I

get for the work involved producing this.

ewa@whatewa.com

02.06.01

PARVOR NOCTURNUS

Prologue

The feeling of emptiness, of abandonment, was so

intense it took her breath away, contracting her lungs

with the pain, causing her heart to shrivel within her.

It was over now. She’d been stripped of everything,

everyone she’d ever had. The pain of it all, the horror

was almost too much for her to bear. The loss of

something so precious. That, which had been taken away

from her, could never be replaced, could never be

restored. She was alone, adrift, no one left to guide

her, to help her. She’d been here before, but she

couldn’t remember when, she couldn’t remember why, only

the anguish, only the agony.

She felt moisture on her face… it was tears, she felt

them as they coursed down her face.

Reaching out her hand in the darkness, she fumbled

around, needing physical contact with something,

anything. Her hand brushed against something solid-she

recognized her nightstand. Her mind focused itself on

finding the light switch.

By the light of the lamp she saw the blood. Blood on

her hands… blood all over her, it was everywhere. So

much blood. With incredulous eyes she looked down at

herself and felt bile rising in her throat. There was a

horrible, erratic thumping in her chest, as if a large

bird was trapped inside her ribcage and was beating

itself to death. Gasping, she lay in her bed, panting

with terror. She was trembling all over, drenched with

sweat. Long shadows, nightmare light. The sounds of

screams reverberated in her ears, rebounding off her

bedroom walls, finally bringing her to full consciousness.

It was her own voice she could hear, it was she who was

screaming.

Then, Jeff was in the room with her, looking as shaken

as she felt. He was beside her using the phone, telling

her not to move, that everything would be all right.

With force of habit, Scully reached over to her

nightstand, and with trembling fingers picked up her

cell phone. She punched in a well memorized number. As

she waited for her call to be answered, she gazed

unbelievingly at the marks she’d left on the nightstand;

at the red smears that were now covering the number

pad on her cell phone. Trying to calm herself, she

remembered the words she’d said to her partner so

often. “Mulder. Mulder breathe, slowly, in… out… that’s

it. Take it easy now.”

She heard the voice on the other end of the phone

sleepily identifying himself and she began to speak.

“It’s Scully. You need to get down here now, there’s a

situation.” Her voice quavered as she continued,

“S-sir? I think I’m in need of your assistance.”

ACT I

MULDER’S APARTMENT

Saturday, very early morning

The chirping of his cell phone broke into his restless

sleep, bringing Mulder relief from that nameless thing

which wandered through his disturbed rest causing him

to wake drenched in sweat.

“Mulder.” He glanced at the alarm clock on the

nightstand, 6:02 a.m. He struggled to sit up and make

sense of where he was.

“Mulder, you’d better get over here right away.

There’s something damned weird going on.”

Mulder was surprised. He was used to his partner

calling him at this hour but his stomach cramped with

anxiety as he recognized his superior’s gravelly voice.

A feeling of dread rolled over him.

“Weird? How do you mean, weird? What’s happened? Where

are you?”

“It’s Scully…”

Mulder was speechless for a second, incapable of

anything apart from trying to get air back into his

lungs and fighting the panic that threatened to

overtake him. Taking deep breaths, he forced the

question past his lips, disregarding any attempt at

protocol in the heat of the moment. “Skinner, is…is

she all right? He couldn’t trust his voice further.

“She’s safe Mulder, but you need to get over here at

once, something strange is going on.”

The reassurance Skinner gave as to Scully’s safety did

nothing to placate Mulder. Even as he yelled through

the phone, “Where are you?”, he was pulling on his

pants and pushing his sockless feet into his shoes.

Shit! Wrong one!

“Just get over to Scully’s apartment, ASAP.”

Mulder grabbed his badge and gun off the nightstand and

headed for the door, tee shirt and jacket in hand.

“Dammit! Car keys!”

Snatching them off the table, he ran out of the

apartment and down the stairs two at a time, to where

his car was parked; dressing as he went, the early

morning chill and his mounting apprehension causing a

shiver to run down his spine.

SCULLY’S BUILDING

6:37 a.m.

The roads were all but empty of traffic as he sped to

Scully’s apartment with little regard to speed limits

or traffic cops. He couldn’t help wondering why she

hadn’t phoned him. There must be a reason and that’s

what scared him.

Why hadn’t he insisted on staying over last night?

That was their usual arrangement for the weekends of

late.

Mulder picked his way through the crowd of onlookers,

D.C. police and paramedics who were milling about the

hallway outside Scully’s apartment despite the early

hour.

“What the hell…!”

As Mulder approached the door, one of a pair of

officers standing outside the open door of Scully’s

home, stepped forward.

“Sir? Sir, I’m sorry but you can’t go in there.”

Mulder flashed his badge at him and addressed the

other.

“I’m looking for Assistant Director Walter Skinner?”

“And you are?”

“Special agent Fox Mulder, FBI.”

“So, what’s the FBI’s interest in this?” The officer

addressed his colleague.

“She’s one of their own.”

Mulder decided that the sixty seconds standing there,

waiting for some sort of an acknowledgement from the

pair of officers was about forty-five too long,

Mulder threw them an irritated glance before he took

charge of the conversation. “Exactly what’s happened

here?”

“When we’ve figured it out sir; don’t worry, you’ll be

among the first to know.”

Mulder swept past them, too apprehensive to take note

of the officer’s sarcasm.

He felt the waves of dizziness and nausea sweep over

him as he caught sight of his partner. White as milk,

she sat on her once pristine sofa.

He felt a hand kindly but firmly push him down onto a

chair and heard Skinner’s reassuring voice over the

humming and buzzing in his ears.

“She’s okay, Mulder, she’s not hurt. It’s not her

blood, she’s *all right*.” Mulder took a couple of

deep breaths in an attempt to chase the threatening

blackness away.

“I’m okay now, just need a minute.” Mulder told his

superior breathlessly. His continued heavy breathing

must have convinced Skinner that he was

hyperventilating.

“Relax.” He felt Skinner’s hand firmly on the back of

his neck. “Relax, Mulder.” His breathing started to

calm. “Easy now, that’s it,” his boss’s concerned

voice both soothed and bothered him. This was all too

surreal, Mulder couldn’t help thinking.

As the dizziness receded, Mulder looked up at Skinner.

The AD was as impassive as ever, but there was a look

of strain and exhaustion about his eyes. He was a big,

powerful man, but right now, his broad shoulders were

slumped. Skinner sank down slowly into the chair next

to him, took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.

“She doesn’t know what happened, she woke up in this

state,” The AD’s voice was tight. “And, uh…. It was

her neighbor Jeff Jackson who called this in. He was

rather shaken by it all. The local boys are still

questioning him,” he paused, looking uncomfortable,

his eyes settling on Scully for a moment before

meeting Mulder’s eyes again. Mulder read the

uncertainty in the AD’s eyes.

Mulder’s eyes locked on to Scully’s white, blood

spattered face. He saw her bewilderment and the lack

of comprehension in her eyes. Her gray flannel pajamas

were covered in blood, it looked like there was

gallons of it.

He dropped to his knees by the sofa and went to take

her hand in his. He couldn’t bear to see her like

this.

“Stop, Mulder, don’t touch her!” Skinner’s warning

stopped him dead. Mulder’s eyes widened. For a moment

he stared at his superior uncomprehendingly. What was

going on here?

“This is all evidence. They’re saying this is a

possible homicide.” Skinner’s embarrassment as he

tried to explain was patently obvious.

Mulder just managed to restrain himself. Not believing

what he’d just heard, he turned to his superior for

enlightenment.

“Who…? Who is saying?”

“The local boys.”

Skinner was looking bad. “Sir, are you all right?”

Mulder asked, Skinner was biting his lip as he nodded.

“What in God’s name happened here?” Mulder looked at

his partner, who appeared to be in some kind of

trance.

“We don’t know that yet, but we’re working on it.”

“Scully? Scully, can you hear me? Look at me. I’m here

now. It’s all gonna be okay now, everything’s going to

be fine” his soft tone of his voice belied his panic.

His arms ached to encircle his partner, to comfort

her, to take that bewildered look from her face.

Everything’s going to be fine, everything’s going to

be fine. The phrase kept going through his head like a

prayer, a mantra to chase his fear away.

She roused herself enough to answer her partner.

“Mulder…I’m…I’m perfectly fine.” Her fragile,

anxious voice contradicted the statement. Scully

shivered, Mulder was back on his knees in front of

her.

“Yeah, I can see that.” Mulder had to ball his hands

to keep from touching her.

Then she stared directly into his eyes, her gaze

unbearably intense. “Mulder, I’m okay,” she murmured,

breaking the direct eye contact. Her voice wavered,

telling of the fear she insisted on denying. Her voice

quivered as she spoke again. “I don’t know what

happened, I woke up and I was covered in blood. I

can’t remember anything.”

“It’s gonna be okay, Scully, we’re here now.”

He saw her swallow hard before she nodded, then the

shivering started shaking her fragile-looking body.

“Sir?” Mulder turned to his superior. “Can’t we at

least cover her in a blanket? She’s in shock, just

look at her.” The look on his supervisor’s face

informed him that this couldn’t be an option.

Mulder paused and turned to address one of the

detectives on the scene. “Do you have any suspects?

Is there any sign of forced entry? There must be

evidence of an intruder of some kind.”

“No, we checked that one out. It appears that her door

was ajar when one of her neighbors heard her screams

and found her. *He* called 911. I’ve been in this

business along time now, I know the drill. We’re doing

a house-to-house on the tenants at the moment,” the

detective huffed.

“I’m sorry detective, don’t mean to step on any toes.

I didn’t mean to imply….”

The last thing Mulder wanted to do was to antagonize

the locals, and he acknowledged he had a natural gift

for doing just that. Scully was the one who normally

held him in check, smoothed things over.

“Yeah, no problem, I appreciate what it’s like when a

colleague is involved.”

Skinner moved the man to the side so Mulder and his

partner could have a little privacy.

For a moment Mulder didn’t know how to start, what to

say, she looked so frail and lost. Her eyes had a shadowed

look, they seemed haunted by the same dark fear that

was in her voice. Just as a child might reach for its

security blanket in times of stress, Scully’s hand reached

up to her neck.

“Scully, are you hurt?” He asked gently. Guilt washed

over him. “I’m sorry Scully, I should have been here….”

“I’m all right Mulder, it-it’s not your fault….”

Mulder tried again. “Talk to me, Scully. Can you do

that?” She nodded her head.

Mulder took a long breath. “What happened, Scully?”

“I don’t know. I’ve no idea, no rational explanation.

I was so alone, so empty.”

She’d told him about her planned date before they’d

finished work yesterday. He tried that avenue first.

“Did you go to your friend’s bachelorette party? What

happened to you?”

“Mulder, I don’t know, I can’t remember.”

She paused for a moment to take a deep breath trying

to control the trembling. “I keep thinking in a minute

I’m gonna wake up and this all will have been a dream,

a terrible dream. I’m gonna wake up and phone you and

have you talk to me and tell me everything’s fine.

Tell me Mulder, tell me I’m just having a nightmare….

Tell me I’m asleep and this is just a bad dream. I’ve

had dreams before. Mulder, tell me you’ll be right over

and everything will be fine.”

The pleading in her voice was almost too much for him.

Mulder felt as if he’d betrayed her when he couldn’t

offer her the words of comfort she so desperately

needed.

This *wasn’t* a dream. There was nothing he could say

or do that would change that. He needed so much to

hold her, to reassure himself as much as her. It *was*

his fault. He should have insisted on being here for

her when she got home last night.

“I’m here now Scully, I’m not going to leave you.

We’ll sort this out together, I promise you. Just hang

in there. M-maybe you drank too much last night, maybe

it’s someone’s idea of a sick joke.”

A female officer interrupted them. “We’re going to

need your pajamas, Ms. Scully.”

“Of course…yes.”

Scully was beginning to look vague again.

“Ms. Scully, just change, no shower or bathing.”

“Scully?” She didn’t appear to hear him. Moving like a

sleepwalker, she went with the officer.

Later, Scully came out of her bedroom, her ashen

complexion more made prominent by the white police

issue overalls she dressed in. The smudges of blood

still on her face stood out in sharp contrast. Out of

the corner of his eye, Mulder could see Skinner

talking into a phone in low angry tones that carried

despite the man’s best efforts.

“This is absolutely inconceivable…Don’t you think

you’re jumping to conclusions, here….I don’t

care…yes, of course I realize the implications…due

process…. Fine. Do whatever you feel you have to

do.”

He glanced away from his partner, to where their

superior had just slammed down the phone, a look of

controlled fury on his face. Their eyes met and

Skinner came over to the agents, looking very

agitated, a gray tinge to his face.

“I’m sorry. Things have just gotten a damn sight

worse. A homicide’s just been called in. The body of a

male has turned up downtown. Seems he was

bludgeoned to death as he slept…they think…

someone’s trying to score brownie points.” Mulder was

surprised at the mask of quiet defeat Skinner was

wearing.

Their superior was having great trouble coming to the

point.

“They think you could be a suspect, Scully.”

Mulder looked at his partner, his face mirroring the

disbelief in hers.

Things happened so fast then. Before they knew what

had hit them, two officers were ready to escort Scully

down to the local P. D. for questioning.

As they led her out of the room she tried to turn

toward him.

“Mulder!”

The note of panic in her voice nearly made him do

something desperate and only Skinner’s hold on his

shoulder stopped him rushing after her. “I’ll go with

her, I’ll see to it that she’s okay. Mulder? Mulder!

Damn it! Are you listening to me agent?” Skinner

commanded.

Mulder tried to focus on his superior’s voice.

“You’re no good to her like this, Agent. You’re too

close to be objective. The scene’s been secured

downtown. I need you to get your butt down there and

find out what the hell is going on. Do you hear me?”

“But….”

“But, that’s an order Agent. I’ll be in touch as soon

as I know anything.”

Mulder saw he was wasting his breath. There was a

moment of tense silence before Skinner eased his iron

grip on Mulder’s shoulder and turned to follow Scully

and the officers out.

Mulder stood in the center of the room that had become

a second home to him. For a moment, he felt too shell-

shocked to move. God! He’d nearly blown it then. Don’t

panic, he thought to himself. Don’t panic, Skinner’s

right, if you want to help Scully, you’ll have to keep

your cool.

LOCATION OF THE CRIME SCENE

Downtown Washington, D.C.

Saturday, 10:20 a.m.

Yellow crime scene tape fluttered in the breeze,

cordoning off the site. Clumps of shocked neighbors

and curious passers-by distracted from Saturday

morning shopping stood around outside the building as

he parked the car and made his way to the entrance.

The building itself, although not run down, had a

slightly shabby look about it which was shared by so

many others in this neighborhood.

One of the officers stepped forward as Mulder

approached the house. The expression on his weary,

Hispanic face told Mulder that it had been a very

long shift.

“Sorry, sir…” the cop began, but stopped when Mulder

produced his badge and identified himself. The officer

lifted the tape and Mulder ducked under. Mulder went

to introduce himself to the detective in charge,

knowing that he had to make nice with the locals.

“So, what have you got?” Mulder asked.

“Not a whole hell of a lot.”

“Any sign of a break-in?”

“The door was wide open when we got here, his

bedroom…well, look for yourself!”

In the spartan living room Mulder paused, looking

around, trying to gauge what sort of a man the victim

had been. He absorbed every detail of his

surroundings; the layout of the room, the ambiance or

in this case, the lack of it. There were half-empty

cartons from Chinese take out on the coffee table, a

couple of empty beer cans overturned on the floor

under the couch.

Mulder stepped through into Marcus Lowry’s bedroom.

The victim lay where he’d been fatally assaulted.

Mulder took in the exact placement of the body, the

carnage all around it. A few clothes and shoes were

scattered on the floor, just where they’d been

dropped.

Mulder listened to the detective’s speculation. “Looks

like he was asleep when he was attacked. The guy never

stood a chance.”

A police photographer moved in front of them, busily

clicking away. The continued flashing of his camera

reminded Mulder that he had the beginnings of a

headache.

The blood-soaked body lay on the bed. Dressed in

t-shirt and boxers, the victim lay face down on the

bed, at least Mulder assumed that was the position;

there wasn’t a great deal left of the face or head to

be positive. The attack had been ferocious, the blood

spattering the wall behind the headboard. “Any

witnesses, suspects?”

“We’re talking to the neighbors now. So far there’s

not a great deal to go on. No one saw anything, heard

anything. Oh, apart from one party animal. The guy

from down the hall was trying to make his way up the

stairs in the early hours and he swears something

brushed past him, it was too dark to see clearly in

the moonlight, but he got the impression it was a

woman. Seemed very confused when we tried to draw him

on that. Some witness huh? He was still so ‘out of it’

when we spoke to him, I doubt if he would have

recognized his own mother. Anyway there’s a security

camera down in the foyer, we’ll be checking that to see

if we can pick something up. As to suspects, I hear

they’re holding a woman in Georgetown. Lucky break or

what? It was probably a lover’s tiff or some such.”

Mulder felt nauseous. This was not the first time he’d

seen so much blood, or such horrendous injuries, it

was the fact that the police here seemed to feel that

the case was all done and dusted, and the perp already

in detention. He was glad he hadn’t let these schmucks

know his connection to Scully.

He went across to speak with the coroner. Forensics

was still working on cross-matching the blood stains;

the prints were being processed.

“This is all provisional of course. The initial exam

shows this was typical of a blunt force trauma attack.

There appears to have been eight or nine blows to the

head; cerebral contusions with bruising to the brain,

multiple skull fractures….The body had not yet

attained rigor mortis when we arrived at the scene.

I’d put the time of death between three and four this

morning,” the coroner told Mulder.

“When will you know for sure?”

“Probably later in the day, depending on how fast I

can get the autopsy done and the blood and other

samples processed. This being Saturday, things tend

to wind down a little. I’m running a toxicology screen

as well. He may well have been doped before he was

attacked.”

Mulder handed the coroner his card.

“Look, I’d appreciate if you could let me know…”

“Sure, no problem, I’ll call you as soon as I’ve got

anything, Agent Mulder.”

The detective in charge took over. Mulder recognized

several plainclothes officers from Homicide. “This is

how we’ll divide it. I want all phone messages

checked, his cell phone, the email anything that might

be of use. Interview any family, friends, work,

previous sexual partners. Watkins, you’ve started on

the neighbors?”

“Yes, sir, not much so far, other then the party-goer

who was a bit worse for drink and whatever. We’ve got

his statement already, such as it is. One of the

neighbors mentioned a club the victim hung out

at….’The Tiempo’.”

“Griffiths, you and Pariet start checking on his

social activities; get down to that club and check it

out. Right, guys, let’s get this show on the road.”

Everywhere Mulder went he found detectives, cameras, a

rush of uniformed men, and the incessant cackle of

radios. He needed to be still. Mulder cleared his

throat. “Mind if I take a look around?” He asked the

officer in charge.

“Nope, help yourself.”

He started to explore the rest of the house. There

wasn’t much to see. The victim was obviously a

bachelor, living on his own. The state of the kitchen

and fridge was only marginally better than Mulder’s

own. A half-empty box of stale looking cereal in one

cabinet, the remains of a six pack of imported beer

and some moldy cheese in the fridge.

He moved into the small unremarkable bathroom,

containing only a small selection of masculine

toiletries, a razor left in the sink, a toothbrush and

a tube of paste which had been squeezed in the middle

and lay minus its cap on the edge of the tub. A wet

towel was thrown in a heap on the floor together with

dirty socks and a pair of boxers. The guy certainly

wasn’t very house proud.

Mulder walked back into the bedroom, his footsteps

loud and echoing on the wooden floor. He stood, almost

mesmerized, gazing at the bloody spot where the victim

had lain. Just then, one of the men examining the now

empty bed called out.

“Hey sir! look at this.” Using a pencil the cop carefully

lifted something off the sheet, something covered in blood,

something that glinted in the light as it swung to and fro

from the pencil.

Out of the corner of his eye, Mulder saw a small black

shape scoot into the corner behind the closet.

The sound of his cell phone distracted him.

FIRST DISTRICT POLICE PRECINCT

Saturday, 2:10 p.m.

Scully wanted Mulder present during her questioning,

Skinner’s call informed him. Mulder wasted no time

getting down there.

Her relief was evident as she glanced up at him when he

walked into the interview room. In those few seconds of

eye contact they managed to communicate their feelings.

Catching his eye Scully had questioned him with the

raise of her eyebrow. A barely perceptible shake of his

head confirmed that he was none the wiser now. With a

crease of her brows, she asked if he was okay. Even

now, when she was in such a position, the woman was

worrying about him. The smile in his eyes told her that

he was okay.

Scully leaned back in her seat and let out a breath

slowly. Mulder could see she was mentally preparing

herself for the coming ordeal. Awkwardly, he went to

stand by the wall next to where Skinner sat.

The detective in charge dictated into the recorder.

“Special Agent Fox Mulder has entered the interview

room, time…2:12 p.m.”

Seeing Scully dressed in prison orange overalls shook

Mulder, but at least she’d had a chance to shower.

“You up to this?” Skinner asked her.

Scully nodded. Looking at her haggard face, Mulder felt

concerned and duly so.

Detective Foster took over.

“Right. So, Ms. Scully, let’s go back to yesterday

evening.”

Mulder was annoyed at how quickly they’d stripped her

of her title, no ‘Agent Scully’ or ‘Dr. Scully’, just

plain Ms.

“I was invited to go to Jodie’s bachelorette party last

night.” His partner started to explain.

“Who’s Jodie?” she was interrupted.

“She’s my friend from med school. We’ve kept in touch

over the years. I-I went, but I decided to leave early,

I had work to do.

“And what time would that have been?”

“About eleven, I had a report to finish. I needed to

check it over. I wanted to get it out of the way. I was

finally done about one thirty. I was going to call my

partner to tell him I’d…”

“Isn’t that a bit unusual?”

“How so?”

Mulder could hear the tension in her voice. She

wouldn’t want to make their relationship public.

“Wasn’t it a little late?”

“No, Mulder is still up at that time.”

“And *did* you call him?”

“No. I decided it could wait. I felt too tired. I made

myself a mug of hot chocolate and went to bed.”

“And this morning when you awoke?” The second officer

demanded. She didn’t appear to have heard him.

“I had this dream… and then I woke up. You know how

sometimes you’re not quite sure if you’re awake or

asleep….I had this awful feeling of emptiness, of

loss. As if something very precious had been taken away

from me…. I felt moisture on my face… tears. I

reached out my hand to put the light on and there was

blood on my hands…blood all over me, everywhere…. I

must have screamed…. Next thing, Jeff Jackson was in

the room with me.” She paused to take a shuddering

breath.

“Who is Jeff Jackson?”

“He and his wife live across the hall. He’s a shift worker.

He must have called 911….I don’t understand. I was asleep,

I was asleep the whole night. I was sound asleep….”

“Why did you call AD Skinner and not your partner?”

Mulder felt himself especially attentive at hearing

that question; he wondered about that as well.

Scully, however, seemed surprised at the question. “I

don’t know, he’s my superior… I don’t know.”

One of the officers thrust a photograph at Scully.

Mulder had a quick look at the image of a man, but he

didn’t recognize him.

“Do you know this man, Ms. Scully?”

Scully frowned as she studied the photo. “Umm, no, I

don’t know him, but I have seen him… yesterday. I saw

him last night at the club where the party was held. We

spoke briefly as I waited for the waitress to get the

drink order. I didn’t get his name. Why?”

“What did you talk about?”

“It was just small talk, I was waiting for the drinks

and he was waiting for his girlfriend, Annelise, to

finish her shift. She was one of the waitresses.”

“So you talked long enough to find *that* out. What

was the name of the club?”

“The Tiempo.”

The detective’s tone of voice hardened. “This was

Marcus Lowry, The man whose blood you were covered in.

The preliminary tests have matched the blood found at

both scenes,” he informed her.

The SOB wasn’t going to spare his partner anything,

Mulder thought as he looked into her shocked face.

“Is this your cross and chain?”

“I-I don’t….” Scully’s fingers instinctively sought

the cross she’d always wore. Her fingers blundered

around her collarbones, seeking solace. Mulder saw her

fighting the emotions as it dawned on her that she no

longer wore the tiny cross and chain that had been such

an integral part of her life for so long.

“Can you explain how it came to be found at the scene?

Mulder saw her lip tremble, saw her bite it, and a tiny

bead of scarlet appeared.

Her eyes sought him out. “Oh, God, no….” How strange

it was that both he and Scully had spoken in unison,

Mulder thought later.

“Mulder, I swear….” The look of anguish in her eyes

almost finished him. He turned away, walking toward the

wall. He felt the pain across his knuckles and realized

he had punched the wall.

He swallowed hard. God help him, he wasn’t helping

Scully behaving like this. He thrust his hands deep

into his pants pockets, breathing deeply, knowing he

had to calm down if he was to be of any use to her. ‘I

want to believe’ stated the poster in their office. Yet

he knew her well enough, trusted her enough to believe

in her innocence despite the mounting evidence to the

contrary. His vision swam. He closed his eyes.

FBI BUILDING

AD SKINNER’S OFFICE

Saturday, 6:04 p.m.

At the muffled “Come in.” Mulder turned the knob and

reluctantly pushed open the door.

“You requested to see me, Sir?”

“Yes, Mulder, I did,” he responded not unkindly.

“Thank you for coming so promptly. Please, take a

seat.”

The AD turned from where he’d been standing by the

window, looking out through the white slatted blinds at

the Old Post Office Pavilion below. He gestured to the

chairs in front of his desk.

The AD looked ill at ease. Skinner took off his glasses

and rubbed his eyes. Mulder got the impression that

what ever was coming was going to be equally difficult

for both of them.

“Listen Mulder and listen good, we’re talking about a

federal agent who has been accused of murder. This

isn’t just going to peter out. This isn’t a case for

your crop circle or spoon-bending philosophies.”

At any other time, Mulder would have probably taken

issue with the AD over these remarks, but he realized

they were not said to censure him. Mulder could almost

taste the man’s frustration. “I need empirical proof,

scientific facts. The blood on Scully’s pajamas didn’t

appear there by translocation. And then there’s the

matter of what appears to be her cross and chain.”

“What are you implying, Sir?”

Skinner walked around his desk to sit in his chair.

He looked at Mulder rather narrowly before taking a sip

of his coffee. “I’m not implying anything, Mulder.

Under normal circumstances, Agent Scully is the

strongest person I know. But the fact is, given

Scully’s highly distressed state at present, if clumsy

or inappropriate psychological pressure is applied, it

could lead to a confession and she could admit to

anything.”

Mulder tried to ignore the small, hard kernel of dread

that was forming in his gut. That’s what he was afraid

of too. He was surprised by the look of compassion on

his supervisor’s face. He’d seen the AD angry, sad,

scared, hurt, he’d seen him starved of companionship,

but never this, never as if he were physically hurting

for his agents.

And then it was gone and Skinner continued. “Mulder,

she’s vulnerable. We both know that Scully is wholly

incapable of this. But I’ve been down that road, I

remember what it’s like. I was lucky in that I had two good

agents on my side, who believed in my innocence and were

prepared to fight to prove it. Let’s see if we can do the same

for Agent Scully. All our energy must be put into proving this

to others. We need proof — cold, clinical, irrefutable proof.

We’ve got to find out what happened. This theory of amnesia,

do you believe it?”

“What’s not to believe?”

“It all seems fantastic, and yet…. Do you have any

theories, Agent?”

Mulder let out a cracked laugh as the full implication

of the situation hit him. “What? You mean an X-File

explanation? For once in my life I’ve got no theories

to offer, no unsubstantiated leaps of logic. Nothing,

other than a gut feeling that she’s being set up, that

we’re being set up. All I can consider at the moment is

the fantastic.”

“Could this have been done while she was under the

influence of anything? She said she’d had a mug of

hot chocolate before going to bed, could that have been

doctored?” Skinner pondered.

“Let’s hope that just this one time she wasn’t fastidiously

tidy.”

“I’ll get someone over there immediately. No, not you,

Mulder. As far as this case is concerned we must be

like Caesar’s wife, seen to be squeaky clean. Before

you say anything Mulder, I *know*. Your paranoia must

be catching, but at this moment in time, I’m not sure

what we’re up against either.”

Skinner was on his agents’ side, Mulder reminded

himself. He decided not to belabor the point, but it

didn’t make the situation any easier to bear.

“Forensics has confirmed that the blood on her pajamas

matches that of the victim, the splatter pattern is

consistent with the ferocity of the attack. And they

recovered a baseball bat that just outside the building

which could well be the murder implement. They’re using

the FBI’s FINDER to check out the prints.

“Her necklace was found at the scene. The only

inconsistency, the only thing in her favor so far, is

Scully’s size. It would be extremely difficult for

someone of her stature to have the strength to inflict

so much damage. The angle is all wrong, too. I can’t

understand it… On the face of it, it’s an open and

shut case….”

“Sir!”

“Mulder, go get some rest. It’s been a long, traumatic

day for us all. We need clear heads if we’re going to

help her.”

“I can’t see myself getting much rest while Scully’s

stuck in some jail cell.”

“Mulder, You’re not listening to what I’m telling you.

I’m working on that, but for tonight, things have to

stay as they are. Get your ass into gear and go home,

get some rest. If you can’t sleep, I don’t suppose

anyone would be any the wiser if you discreetly looked

over some of the computer files on this.”

Mulder couldn’t believe his ears. For a moment he

wondered if he’d strayed into one of those parallel

universes that Scully always reckoned he was in.

Skinner suddenly looked ill at ease. He blinked and

looked away. “Goodnight, Agent.”

Mulder sighed. “Goodnight, Sir.”

MULDER’S APARTMENT

Sunday 1:18 a.m.

He’d managed to access some of the files, but there was

nothing there that he didn’t already know. He sighed

and stretched, he felt as if he was stuck in one of

those Escher etchings, the ones where everything looks

normal, but when you look further, water is flowing up

hill although it appears to be cascading down. “Yeah,

one of those etchings just about summarizes things.”

Mulder let out a weary sigh.

Mulder wasn’t surprised at how tired he was. He didn’t

need a lot of sleep as a rule, but this last week, he’d

found it increasingly difficult to rest. Oh, he could

fall asleep all right, it’s just that he didn’t want to

stay asleep. Maybe it had something to do with his

recent experiences, but that was still too raw for him

to explore in any great depth. Maybe it was because he

was missing Scully’s presence in his bed during the

week; undoubtedly that had a lot to do with it.

The dreams, although always very vague, had been

increasingly disturbing, making him waken with all the

symptoms of a full-blown panic attack. He hadn’t said

anything to Scully, not wanting her to make a fuss.

She’d had her own problems to work through and deal

with.

Tonight, he lay down on his couch by the light of his

gurgling fish tank, his thoughts on his partner; how

scared she would be in that cell, how alone. He wanted

to hold her, comfort her, make her world right again.

Not being able to talk with her, hold her, comfort her

was killing him. Just leaving her there was inhuman.

Once he’d got over his initial feelings of…could it

be jealousy? He’d been glad that Scully had been with

it enough to have initially called their superior. She

*was* in deep trouble with this and him, being first on

the scene might have compromised things. Skinner was

right on that score, but it didn’t make things any

easier to accept.

He’d come to understand something over the last months,

this thing between them and Skinner… this cautious

trust. It was never spoken of but nevertheless Mulder

was sure it existed. Mulder wondered if they could ever

be friends; they were friends, the three of them, in a

strange, dysfunctional way. “Why spoil the habits of a

lifetime,” Mulder added under his breath. Though it

was a tentative sort of friendship, they owed Skinner

their gratitude.

But now Mulder felt powerless. He needed to prove her

innocence, but for once, he didn’t know how. It was as

if all his investigative powers had deserted him just

when he needed them most.

There was more to all this, much more. Everything

dovetailed too smoothly, there was too much

coincidence. If he could find that one link, he had a

gut feeling that it would all lead to an explanation.

He had faith in her; he had faith in them both. The

remarkable thing about faith was that it wasn’t a

sudden flash from the heavens or an unexpected insight.

It was something that quietly sustained. “You can do

your worst, but you’ll never destroy her, never destroy

us, ever.”

The gurgling of the pump and the flickering of the

muted TV gradually lulled him to sleep.

It was the scuffling shuffle that first alerted him,

the whispering. There was something or someone in the

room with him, he could make out a small, crouched form

near the corner of the room, he saw it approaching the

couch, black and threatening, growling and snarling

softly.

He tried to move, tried to reach for his gun, his heart

slamming against his rib cage. He was paralyzed. It was

as though he was being held down.

His heartbeat threatened to choke him. His fear was

such…he fought to move, to make a sound…. He heard

the screams reverberating in his ears, and realized

they were his. And then, he was free.

He froze, flattened against damp fabric, sweat beading

on his skin, face down, afraid to move. Afraid to even

breath, although his lungs were clamoring for oxygen.

What? Where? He rolled over and looked around in panic.

The big room with the muted TV and illuminated fish

tank was quiet, save for the gentle gurgling of the

pump.

He was on the couch and his living room was exactly as

it had been. There was nothing. No one but him in the

room.

His attempt to sit up made the room shimmer and shake

around him, he sank back down sweat pouring from him.

Nauseous with the panic, he tried to catch his breath

and still his pounding heart.

He raked a hand through his hair, trying to gain

control. The dream again, over the last few nights it

had changed, mutated. It had become more explicit, more

terrifying.

It was no good, he wouldn’t sleep, didn’t want to sleep

again. He was an expert when it came to nightmares.

Hadn’t he had more than his fair share of them over the

years? The incidents with Modell, Pfaster, Schauz had

all caused him to wake up bathed in sweat. But this

one, this was turning out to be the granddaddy of them

all.

It had just turned four in the morning and though still

trembling, he got up to shower and dress.

HOOVER BUILDING

Basement Office

Sunday, 7:34 a.m.

Mulder had been seated in front of the computer screen

for several hours now and his spine was beginning to

protest. He’d read up on the case of a Toronto man who

had killed his mother-in-law while he was allegedly asleep. He

had pulled this, and many similar cases, off the net.

This sort of phenomenon seemed to be universal; there

were reported cases in the UK and in Australia.

Mulder swung idly on the back legs of his chair. It was

a habit that drove Scully to distraction. He felt a

smile pull across his face as momentarily he visualized

Scully’s face whenever he did this.

He was trying to rationalize the facts. In most of the

cases, the victim was in close proximity to the

perpetrator, room next door, down the hall. In one case

the victim lived in the adjoining house, but had left a

window open. In all the cases the victim had been well

known to the perp, as had been the location. There was

one a lot closer to home. Hadn’t Skinner been accused

of strangling Carina Sayles in similar circumstances a

few years back?

He swung back further, holding on to the desk with one

hand, he aimed and threw another sharpened, yellow

government issue pencil up at the acoustic tile ceiling

overhead. It neatly joined the other dozen or so

already up there. Strange how doing this helped him

focus.

In Scully’s case there were plenty of dissimilarities.

Scully had only met the victim for a very short time

and she’d met him at the club, not where he’d met his

end. How was she supposed to know where he lived? She

couldn’t even have easily looked the address up unless

she’d asked someone else his name. The most important

factor was that the distance between the apartments

involved a twenty-minute drive each way…over an

unfamiliar route. Interesting, but how to prove it? The

other factor that had him scared shitless was the

cross. Was it Scully’s? How did it get there?

He was going to have to see things from the point of

view of someone trying to prove her guilt; that was the

way to prove her innocence.

“How are you doing, Agent? I thought I’d find you down

here, even on a Sunday. Haven’t you got a home to go

to, Mulder?”

Skinner’s voice startled him. Mulder jumped, the chair

wobbled backwards alarmingly, before crashing forwards

onto all its four legs, almost depositing Mulder in a

heap on the floor in the process. He’d been too

engrossed in his thoughts to hear the hum of the

elevator or the AD’s footsteps as he approached the

basement office of the X-Files division.

“H-how can I help you, Sir?”

Skinner had a smile on his face. “I thought I’d come

down to tell you the news, personally. I’ve managed to

persuade them to set bail for Scully.”

Mulder was out of his seat. His eyes widened. “When?”

“Now, the authorities recognize the evidence is still

circumstantial this point, so that’s why they’re

allowing Scully out on bail.”

“Sir, this great news, but…she’s in no state to be

left on her own,” Mulder hesitated.

“I agree with that assessment, Agent. That’s the

reason…”

“The reason, Sir?”

“That’s the reason I offered her residence in my guest

room until this mess is sorted.” Mulder’s face

registered the surprise that Skinner expected.

“Mulder, I need you to investigate this case. If she

stayed with you, she’d be left alone most of the time

while you were off chasing any number of possible

leads, now wouldn’t she?”

Skinner paused for a moment to allow his reasoning to

sink in. Then, softly and with understanding, the AD

added, “I’ll keep her safe for you. I promise.”

Neither of them said anything for a moment. Mulder

glanced up, he didn’t know what to say. He trusted

Skinner to keep his word, to do his best…but it

rankled nevertheless. This should be his job, to take

care of his partner, but he also saw the truth in the A.D.’s

reasoning.

Scully needed someone to find the truth and he was heir

best bet at that point. Skinner would have to be the

one to stand guard, while he sought out the real

killer. The fact that Skinner recognized that before

he did was mildly surprising.

“Thank you, Sir,” he said after a moment. “I want you

to know I appreciate it.”

Skinner appeared to understand Mulder’s reticence in

agreeing to these arrangements without belaboring the

reasons.

“It’s no trouble. I’m glad I could help out. I’ll see

what I can arrange Mulder, I understand that you feel

you’re in an untenable position. Our biggest problem is

going to get Scully to go along with this.”

Skinner paused for a moment, “Oh, umm, one other thing

Agent, go easy on the pencils, eh.”

FIRST DISTRICT POLICE STATION

Sunday, 3:12 p.m.

Both men went to ‘spring’ Scully later that day.

Mulder had persuaded Skinner to go to Scully’s

apartment with him, so that he could pack a bag for

her. He was worried about the effect coming back to her

home in the state it was still in, might have on his

partner.

Skinner was right in his prediction that Scully would be

furious over the arrangements, but the two men were

finally able to persuade her, albeit over many protests,

it was for the best.

It had taken an inordinate length of time to get

through the paperwork to release Scully. To Mulder, it

felt as though Skinner had to sign every damned form in

the place in triplicate. This was bureaucracy at its

best. He took this opportunity to lay all the facts on

the line for his partner.

“You all done being mad, Scully?” Mulder asked her

quietly, as they waited in a deserted corner for

Skinner to fetch them.

Smiling gratefully, if a little embarrassed, Scully

nodded “Yes.” The frown evaporated from Scully’s face

like mist before the sun. “I’m all done.”

Mulder breathed out a sigh of relief. “If you behave, I’ll

bring some bagel’s from Katz’s over tomorrow.” She

smiled at that. He knew in her opinion, the best bagels

on the planet came from the little hole in the wall shop

down the street from his apartment.

“Yeah, you’re on, Mulder.”

He massaged the bridge of his nose between his

thumb and forefinger. He was wiped out. The strain and

lack of sleep were beginning to get to him. He was

grateful that his partner could never stay mad at him

for long.

Finally Skinner reappeared. “We’re finished here, so we

can leave now,” Skinner said. “I think it’s probably

best if I help Scully get settled in her temporary

quarters while you get back to work, Agent.”

Giving Mulder a look of encouragement, Scully squeezed

his hand. “Just so you know…” she said just loud enough

for him to hear. After a few seconds staring at her, he

swallowed and nodded. Their hands trailed apart as he left

her side to get back to work.

It was time for some ferreting around at that club

Scully had been to.

THE TIEMPO CLUB

Sunday, 7:29 p.m.

It was still very early, relatively speaking, when he

got to the club. He ordered a drink and struck up a

conversation with one of the waitresses. News of Marcus

Lowry’s death had reached here, and Fleur, the waitress

who served him, although distressed, had quite a lot to

say on the matter.

Marcus was a popular regular there. Recently he’d been

seeing Annelise, one of the other girls who worked

here. In the course of the conversation, Fleur

confirmed that Annelise had been on the early shift

last Friday but that she wouldn’t be on duty until

later on tonight.

Since the club was almost empty, he offered to buy

Fleur a drink. He didn’t have to ask any questions, she

was very forthcoming. Mulder let her ramble on. He

learned a lot, but nothing that bore any obvious

connection to this whole mess.

A greater problem faced Mulder on his returned back to

the basement office the following day.

HOOVER BUILDING

Basement Office

Monday, 7:40 a.m.

In the early morning mist the J. Edgar Hoover Building

looked like a great concrete cage as he drove in. The

area may well be the hub of tourist attractions, but at

this hour of the day it was still quiet. Making his way

down in the elevator to their basement office, Mulder’s

mind was going over yesterday’s events, and trying to

sort out how best he could serve Scully’s cause. He’d

left the promised bagels in the car, planning only to

check on his emails before going over to Skinner’s

apartment.

He was surprised to see the door unlocked and ajar so

early in the morning. It couldn’t be Scully. Skinner?

No, he wouldn’t have let himself in like that. Mulder

was even more astounded to see a short, balding man

sitting at his desk rummaging through the papers and

files, which have been left on the desk in their usual

haphazard state.

“What’s going on here?”

“Agent Mulder?”

“Yes, and you are?”

“Special Agent Davis. I’ve been called up to coordinate

this inquiry.”

“What inquiry is that? I don’t know what it’s like

where you’re from, but last time I checked, breaking

into someone’s office was deemed to be invasion of

privacy.”

“Agent Mulder, we’re operating under guidelines laid

down by the Office of Professional Conduct.”

“And what has that to do with me?”

“I want you to make yourself available this afternoon.”

“Available for what?”

“A formal hearing regarding Agent Scully’s case to

assess and determine Agent Scully’s ability to continue

as a Special Agent in the FBI. We will be appointing

our own team of investigators to pursue any criminal

case, so there will be no further need for you to

investigate this case.”

“Why? In case I can prove her innocence?”

“We expect to see you at the hearing at five p.m.

sharp, Agent Mulder.”

Mulder was seething, he still could not believe what

he’d just heard. He stared at Davis’s back as he left the

office. The morning light was sober and pale as it

filtered through the tiny window close to he ceiling.

It made the room seem horribly quiet. He heard

the agent’s footsteps dying in the hallway.

For a moment everything felt faded, silent, and

dangerously calm. Mulder turned back to see what Agent

Davis had been examining on his desk. The sight that

met his eyes made him shake uncontrollably. There was a

black figure crouched in the corner of the room.

He shivered as he recognized the feeling of pure evil,

the thing from his dreams. He blinked, and all there

was on the chair was his black trench coat, just where

he’d carelessly thrown it yesterday, forgetting to take

it with him when he went home.

Was he losing it? He felt sure whatever ‘it’ was *had* been

there. He still felt the waves of evil. Their malevolence

gradually receded, but the stench of it left him

nauseous and trembling and feeling suddenly very cold.

And yet… how could that be? That was it! With one weird

thing after another, his nerves were shot to pieces. He’d

started imagining things. Impossible things.

With trembling hands he reached for the back of his

chair. He sank down onto its comfort, his head on his

icy hands, his irregular breathing rasped loud in the

stillness. He though of the dreams, his dreams…all

those layers of silence on silence. In his nightmares

he saw a presence. Were all the broken nights and the

strain of all this getting to him?

Shit! He needed help with this, someone to bounce ideas

off, someone with objectivity, someone with an open

mind, who thought like him, but his partner was in no

position to help, and Skinner…. Well even with the best

of intent, Skinner wasn’t a lateral thinker.

Then he remembered ‘the Kid’. He’d worked with Kenny

Andrews last fall on a case involving the systematic

murder of members of the clergy. Mulder had met up with

Kenny in Biloxi Mississippi, when he’d been seconded to

VCS to help the young profiler. The kid had his

intuitiveness, could see and feel things where other’s

couldn’t.

Kenny was an up and coming profiler extraordinaire.

Mulder’s position in that case had been mainly to stop

Kenny from going in too deeply, and to show him the way

out once he’d crossed that line. ‘To be spooky, but not

lose his marbles’. It was a pity that in the course of

that case Mulder was the one who ‘lost it’ and had shot

the younger man at La Guardia airport. Knowing the

circumstances, Kenny had easily forgiven him, but would

he be willing to work with Mulder again?

Mulder considered various methods as to how to present

the issues to Agent Kenneth Andrews, and in the end he

decided that the straightforward approach was probably

the best. As he searched through to find Andrews’

number, he speculated that it wasn’t really surprising

that Kenny was so intuitive, so in tune with things.

The boy had inherited his spirituality both from his

Native American mother and his Irish father, and with a

combination like that….

When he put the call through asking if Andrews would

consider consulting on the case, he expected to have to

eat a lot of crow. He was amazed when Kenny, having

heard the problem, had simply said, yes. His only

proviso was that Mulder lay in a large supply of Coke,

but that had been a given anyway.

OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

Monday, 5 p.m.

The hearing was every bit of the complete farce that

Mulder had expected it to be. They were ushered in

through a set of large double doors, where they found

an oval table around which several high-ranking members

of the FBI sat.

The men at the table leafed through thick folders. God

alone knew what they had in front of them. To Mulder it

seemed they had both of their histories dating back to

their very first day with the FBI. For long moments,

the only sound was rustling paper. It was unnerving in

the extreme.

Finally, one of the men spoke. “You are familiar with

the reason that this inquiry was called?” From that

point on, Scully hadn’t stood a snowball’s chance in hell.

She stood before three other agents apart from Davis. The

whole process lasted ten minutes from start to finish.

The final report had been written long before any of

them had stepped into the room. Do the math, Mulder.

Did you seriously expect anything else, he silently

chided himself.

They suspended her without pay pending investigation.

He felt for her as she handed over her badge and her

gun. Skinner tried to protect her as best he could. He

was all business, the efficient AD in charge. But in

this case his stance had gotten him nowhere, the whole

thing had been a forgone conclusion. As for himself,

Mulder hadn’t been allowed to get a word in edgewise.

He saw the gratitude in Scully’s eyes that they had

been there for her, and he felt her embarrassment at

them witnessing her humiliation at being censured in

this way.

Looking at Skinner, Mulder saw that the man felt for

her pain as much as he did.

Outside he wanted to either put his arms around her or

hit someone. In the end he did neither. Skinner pinned

him with his gaze, a silent warning not to compromise

his partner any further. It was like having a bucket of

iced water thrown over him. He had to learn to be

patient, to bide his time.

He shared with Skinner the news that Kenny Andrews had

agreed to help clear Scully. The A.D. appeared pleased

with this bit of news. He remembered the last time those

two had worked together.

“So, he’s back to active duty then. He must be either

very trusting or very foolish,” Skinner said with a dry

laugh, shaking his head.

“Neither — for a greenhorn he’s good. More than that, he’s

extraordinary. I explained the situation and he found it very

intriguing. Apart from that, he said he owes me a consult.

Though why he thinks *he* owes *me* is hard to understand.”

ACT II

MULDER’S APARTMENT

Monday, 11:29 p.m.

It wasn’t strictly ethical, but hell, they’d only suggested that

it wasn’t necessary for him to investigate the case. No one

ordered him to stop the investigation and certainly no one

ordered him to have no contact with his partner. There

certainly wasn’t anything wrong with him calling her. Mulder

needed to hear her voice.

She picked her cell phone up on the fourth ring.

“Yes, Scully,” she panted, her voice cracking.

“You’re slipping, Scully….Scully? You okay?”

There was a brief silence and then a unsettled sigh.

“Scully, are you still there?”

“Mulder…. I needed to hear you. I miss you.” He could

hear her labored breathing.

“What’s wrong? Scully? Have you been crying?” He could

still hear the hitch in her breathing. Wrong question,

she’d never admit to that. “For God’s sake, Scully, talk

to me. Are you all right?”

“I’m fine, Mulder. I was asleep, I was dreaming…”

“Asleep? It’s just barely eleven. Since when have you

gone to bed before the late news is off?” he asked, trying

to make a joke of it, but failing to hide his concern. “You sure

you’re okay?” He didn’t want to ask about her dream, but it

was obviously not a happy one. With all she’d been through

these last few days, it was hardly surprising.

“It’s been a long day, Mulder. One I don’t really care

to remember.” She trailed off.

As if that was an explanation, Mulder thought. He tried

to change the subject, lighten the atmosphere.

“How’s Skinner treating you?”

“It was good of him to offer, he’s laying a lot on the line

here, and I appreciate it…. It’s so good just to hear your

voice.” She paused for a moment. “Mulder, exactly why am

I here?”

“Are we talking metaphysics here, Scully?” That was

always his line. It was an old answer to an old question, but

he knew it never failed to make her smile, and it did this time

too, he could hear it. It was the least he could do for her tonight.

“Skinner thought by your staying with him, it would ease my mind

so I could put all of my energy into investigating this case. And

I am, Scully. I’m going to find the killer, I promise.” He could hear

her relaxing as he talked to her.

“Hey Scully, you remember Kenny Andrews? I asked him to

come over so I could bounce ideas off him.”

“Who? Oh, you mean ‘the Kid’?” she responded with a smile in

her voice.

“Yeah, him, we’ve done a deal. He should be arriving some time

tomorrow. It’s not a bad deal, a few six-packs of Coke in exchange

for support. Say, Scully, could this go down as bribery and

corruption?” He could really hear the smile in her voice now.

“You mean he’s forgiven you for taking pot shots at him?” There

was soft laugh.

“What’s to forgive? He, better than most, understood what happened

there. He’s a good guy. He wants to help and I can’t be seen to have

anything to do with any of the evidence. I need him to keep an eye on

things, to keep me in the loop.”

“Mm-hmm” Scully sounded more relaxed now, almost drowsy.

“Hey. G-woman, go to sleep now. I’m only on the other end of

the phone.”

“G’night, Mulder. And thanks.”

He smiled as he heard her yawn. “Catch you later.”

“Yeah, later,” Scully said.

Sleep was a long time coming to him that night. He

never doubted for a moment that Scully had been set up,

but why? And by whom? He worried about the way the

evidence was pointing; he’d have to see if the security

camera showed anything.

He missed her. Missed just being able to talk with her.

Missed her questioning him, “Do you have a theory?”

Missed being able to answer her with, “Me? I have

plenty of theories.” He missed having her refute them

in the dance that was solely their own. More than

anything, he missed the luxury of having her sleep in

his arms.

He wasn’t conscious of having fallen asleep. All he

knew was that he was completely paralyzed. No, not

entirely, since he could breathe, he could see. He felt

the vibrations through his body, the pain in his spine.

He could hear the scrabbling getting louder, coming

nearer, neared to the bed. It was pulling on the bedclothes,

crawling up the bed. The sound was getting louder, more

terrifying.

He could make out the black shape in the moonlight that

broke through the gap in the blinds. It moved stealthily towards him,

panting. His heart pounded in his chest, threatening to suffocate

him. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t throw the weight off his

chest. He looked up and saw the creature looming over

him. As darkness overpowered him, he screamed and

screamed and screamed. And suddenly he was free.

Gradually the ringing in his ears stopped and the

vibrating pain eased. He tried to sit up, heart pounding,

slapping a blank wall for the light switch as he

shook from the horror. Strange shapes, unfamiliar

shadows, crowded horribly around him; nothing offered

any clue to his whereabouts, and for a few delirious

moments he wondered if he was dead.

Then he saw the flashing, demonic red of a digital

clock face. Absolute panic subsided as he saw the time,

two-thirty. In the streetlight that filtered through

the blind, he looked around the room, his room. The

bedroom was the same as ever, nothing out of place.

Yet he could still smell the rank scent of it. This was

more than a dream. The knowledge scared the shit out of

him. This wasn’t to do with the case.

These occurrences had started before…. Skinner!

Skinner had dreamt things once, and look where that had

ended. What was it he’d said? “There was a presence,

something or someone was in the room with me….”

Skinner had dreamt of an old crone, had thought he’d

seen her during the day.

Mulder shook his head, rejecting his own rationale.

Imagination was a creative tool. He employed it to

enhance his work, but never for total fabrication. “At

least not before now,” he muttered to himself. Was this

all more the effects of stress and sleeplessness than

he knew? Were his mind and perception so steeped in the

conspiracies and lies, that he could no longer distinguish

reality?

Did he want to consider the fantastic? He had once told

Scully to consider the fantastic when science failed;

but had he considered science at all? It worried him

that he turned to this so readily in an effort to make

sense of what was senseless. He got up and found his

clothes. He dressed as best he could while his hands

still shook then went out into the kitchen to get himself

some coffee. Another night’s sleep curtailed.

MULDER’S OFFICE

Tuesday, 6:45 a.m.

He was going through his old notes and files, pulling

up all he could on that incident five years ago, when

Skinner was going through the divorce with Sharon.

Then, his supervisor had been accused of murdering

Carina Sayles.

He pulled up the name of the sleep clinic that had

treated Skinner. In the cold light of day, it seemed

very sensible to Mulder to not only check the place

out, but maybe check himself in. Maybe someone there

could explain his recurring dream to him, and

hopefully, rid him of it. “Do the science *first*

Mulder, then consider the fantastic. Scully would be

proud of you.”

The chirping of his cell phone interrupted his

thoughts.

“Mulder.” Out of sheer habit, he was expecting to hear

his partner’s voice. He leaned back in his chair, the

bones in his back crackling.

“Hey, Mulder. Kenny Andrews, here. How you doing, Man?

Did I wake you?”

“Oh, hi, Andrews. No, I’m working.” Mulder massaged

the back of his neck as he spoke to Kenny.

“You sound disappointed Mulder. Look, could you do me

a favor? My flight should be into National at 2:50 this

afternoon. Can you pick me up?”

“Yeah, no problem, I’ll wait for you at the gate.”

“That’ll be great. See you later.”

“Yeah, later. Oh, and thanks, Kid.”

Mulder wondered how he was going to explain all this to

the young profiler, especially as he himself couldn’t

get a handle on it.

BETHESDA NAVAL HOSPITAL

SLEEP DISORDER CLINIC

Tuesday 10:30 a.m.

“Hi, Dr. Cardoso. We spoke on the phone. I’m Special

Agent Fox Mulder. Thank you for making time to see me

at such short notice.”

“It’s no problem, Mr. Mulder, this is a sort of slack

time for us here. Business doesn’t pick up till late

in this department,” he said with a wry grin. How may I

help you Mr. Mulder? What is it exactly that you’re

after?”

“It’s just Mulder. Um, I need to find out more about

sleep disorders, recurring dreams, especially nightmares,

that sort of thing.”

“Anything specific?”

“Well, er…”

“Tell you what Mulder, I’ll give you a general rundown,

and you just tell me what else you need. Feel free to

ask about anything you don’t understand.”

She led Mulder over to a bank of monitor screens,

explaining as she went. She threw out terms like

‘parasomnia’ and the various types of sleep, such as

non-REM sleep and REM sleep. The doctor went into

detail about their differences. Finally, Dr. Cardosa

began to speak of an aspect of sleep that really caught

Mulder’s attention.

“There is a rare type of frightening phenomenon during

sleep which is not quite like a nightmare. It’s called

‘night terrors’ or ‘parvor nocturnus’. This is a severe sleep

disturbance, consisting of attacks of acute terror arising in

deep sleep without lucid dreaming. It’s accompanied by

violent body movements, extreme agitation, gasping, moaning,

screaming, sweating, confusion and in some cases, flight from

the bed or the room, destructive behaviour and aggression

directed towards objects or against themselves or other

persons. Wounds, fractures and lesions may occur in

consequence. Total or partial amnesia is symptomatic of

this condition.”

“Are there exceptions to this rule? Could the dreamer

have total recall of such dreams?

“Humm, I suppose there could be a possibility, but

I’ve never heard of a case to be honest.”

She moved over to a shelf and selected another video.

“Look, you can see with this young man. Here, the

dreamer wakes up screaming and still frightened; he is

covered with perspiration and is breathing rapidly. He

is terrified, but has no recollection of what has just

happened. Nightmares can be defined as long frightening

dreams that often awake the sleeper, which tend to be

more frequent during times of stress and change. In

contrast, night terrors are episodes of panic that may

cause the sleeper to suddenly sit up and shriek with

fear. Mostly they are instigated by over-tiredness or

stress.”

“So I lose every which way,” Mulder muttered to

himself.

“Did you say something?”

“Em… sorry, no, just thinking aloud. I understand

about the two different scenarios, but is it possible

to experience a mixture of the two?”

“Yes there have been rare cases recorded. There have

been instances where the paralyzing effect has not

kicked in, and people have acted on their dreams,

sometimes with tragic consequences, but as I’ve said,

it’s most unusual.”

“And these nightmares, terrors, whatever, is it

possible to see them in your waking hours?”

“Mmm, it’s hard to say. I suppose given a high enough

level of stress. The mind is a strange thing.”

“How about shared dreams? Is that a possibility?”

“Ah, now, that’s a different matter. It’s a bit like

God really, whether you believe or not, each person has

a different picture in their heads. Shared idea,

different perception.”

It was almost 2 p.m. before he was finished at

Bethesda. He had just enough time to get over to

National Airport before Kenny’s plane landed. Driving

along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mulder

considered how much things had changed since he last

worked with Andrews. He was looking forward to seeing

him again, and having someone ground some of his ideas.

Without Scully’s calming influence, he was afraid that

some of his ideas were getting too ‘out there’ for his

own good.

MURDER SCENE

Tuesday, 4:15 p.m.

Mulder hadn’t had any difficulty spotting Kenny in the

Arrivals area of the airport. With his mixed heritage,

his looks were both unusual and striking. His ink-

black, curly hair was longer now than when they had

first worked as a team. This, together with his light

copper skin, high cheekbones and angular nose,

contrasted sharply with his soft, sky-blue eyes.

Mulder explained the difficulties and constraints of

the case to Kenny as they drove from the airport. There

was a great deal to go on. Kenny wanted to see Marcus

Lowry’s apartment and Mulder decided to swing by there

on the way through. Seemed like Skinner must have done

some ground work, as no one questioned their right to

be there.

“Thanks for coming down, Andrews. You didn’t have to,

and I want you to know that I appreciate it. We both

do,” Mulder told Kenny as they moved through the

apartment.

“It’s no trouble, Mulder, I’m only glad you think I can

be of help.”

In the now bare bedroom they paused. The body had of

course been removed, but the feel of death, the

coppery smell of blood was still very apparent in the

apartment. Even as they were looking at the crime

scene, Mulder looked out of a window and spotted a

pretty girl delivering flowers. She stopped to talk to

the officer stationed at the entrance to the building.

When later, they stopped to talk to the officer on duty

outside, they found out it was Annelise the waitress,

Lowry’s girlfriend. This was getting to be intriguing.

TIEMPO CLUB

Tuesday, 7:20 p.m.

Mulder and Kenny caught up with Annelise at the Tiempo

Club later that evening. She was prepared and willing

to talk to them about Marcus. She didn’t seem as upset

as Mulder supposed she might be. The reason for this

became clearer as she spoke.

“He was a friend. This bunch here liked to tease me

that he was my boyfriend, but he was a friend, that’s

all. We did have a ‘thing’ going but that was for a

very short time and some time ago. He’d broken off with

his regular girlfriend and he’d been drinking. Well,

one thing led to another, but it was one time, fun

while it lasted. He came in here mostly for company I

suppose. And we used to sit and talk if it wasn’t busy.

He’d wait for me and take me home on the nights he was

in. I suppose that’s why most people assumed we were an

item.”

“So, why did you bring flowers to the apartment today?”

Kenny asked her.

“It just seemed the fitting thing to do. He was a

friend, and he didn’t have anyone else.”

“He had no family?”

“They were non-existent for all intents and purposes.”

“Last Friday, can you remember if Marcus spoke to

anyone else?” Mulder asked.

“Things were a bit hectic. Apart from the regular

Friday-nighters, there was a bachelorette party here.

It was all hands on deck here that night I can tell you. I did

see him talking briefly to a petite, redheaded woman.

Actually, she was really good looking. They chatted as

she waited for an order of drinks but that was it as

far as I know. I can’t say I remember seeing her again

that night.”

“So what happened when you went off-duty?” Mulder

asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Didn’t Marcus see you home?” Kenny inquired.

“No, he got fed up waiting. The noise was getting to

him, he just said goodnight and split; said he’d call

me, but he never had a chance to….”

After they’d finished in the club, Mulder called

Skinner’s apartment. “Sir? Just finished talking to

Annelise. She’s corroborated what Scully told us, and

I’ve got Kenny Andrews here.”

Skinner interrupted. “The pair of you come over. I’d

appreciate a heads up before we go any further. We need

to trade notes and I’d like the chance to talk with

Kenny. Besides which, Scully needs cheering up.”

Skinner sounded almost grateful.

“Give us half an hour. We’ll bring some Chinese in with

us.”

“Yeah, do that. Scully will appreciate the visit.”

VIVA TOWER, CRYSTAL CITY, VIRGINIA

Skinner’s Apartment

Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.

“Mulder, Andrews, come on in.” Mulder was surprised at

how pleased his boss seemed to see them.

“Did you have a good flight, Agent Andrews?” the AD

continued.

“Yes, Sir, it was fine, thank-you.”

“Good, good.” Skinner said, nodding. “Have you had time to

familiarize yourself with the case?”

Mulder was amazed. Making small talk was so unlike the

Skinner he knew so well, he almost sounded nervous.

Mulder immediately banished the idea. Skinner all but

grabbed the take out bags from them as they came in

through his door.

“Would you like a beer, Kenny? Come through to the

kitchen and give me a hand serving this up.”

Kenny started up the hallway. Mulder stood in the

hallway needing to see his partner, and wondering how

to go about it. “I need to….” He bit his lip, not

knowing how to go on.

Skinner hooked a thumb towards the other door. “Go

ahead, she’s in there,” he said, gently. Skinner was

cutting the pair of them some slack.

“Yeah, thanks.” Smiling gratefully, if a little embarrassed,

Mulder opened the door and stepped into the living room.

Skinner’s furniture was dark wood – a desk, bookcases.

All very pristine. Mulder remembered the curved balcony

that this room led out on to. The white railings were just

visible in the dark night outside, as was the panorama of

the lights of Crystal City and its surroundings.

He turned his head to the center of the room. Scully

was on the sofa, her face ran a gamut of expressions as

she looked up and saw who it was that had come in.

“C’mere, Scully.”

He opened his arms to her and she was in them, clinging

to him as if her very life depended on it.

“Oh, Scully. I’ve missed you.”

Normally she’d never allow this anywhere outside their

homes. He wasn’t sure if she would now, but he needed

to hold her. Though she was not one for public

demonstrations of affection, now was different. For a

moment, she was silent and burrowed against him. He

held her close, savoring the feel of her in his arms,

while inhaling her fragrance.

“Just hold me, Mulder, that’s all I need.”

He dropped a kiss on the top of her head. “Always,

Scully, always. It’ll be okay. We’ll sort this thing

out.”

“I wish I could believe that. I’m really trying, Mulder.”

“You *do* trust me on this?”

“Only you.”

“The Kid’s here to give us a hand. Another few days….

I promise.”

She lifted her fingers to his mouth. “Shh, Mulder,

don’t say anything. This is enough for now.” Her

fingers stroked his face. “You’re a good man Mulder.”

There was a discreet coughing outside the door, and

they sprang apart as Skinner and Kenny walked in

bearing filled plates.

“Look Scully, matching crockery.” Mulder said in mock

amazement, trying to ease her embarrassment and his

own. Scully couldn’t help the smile.

“Agents? The joke?”

“‘Fraid you’ll have to excuse my partner, Sir, he’s got

no finesse. Or matching plates,” she added, grinning.

“Scully?” Mulder whined, managing a theatrical puzzled

look. “Have I got *any* plates?”

The ice was broken. They spent the next few hours

eating, talking, making plans and going over what

they’d come up with so far. Mulder didn’t say anything

at all to anyone about his nightmares. No point

worrying Scully, she had problems enough of her own.

That Scully got on well with Kenny made Mulder glad.

Some of Kenny’s tales brought a smile to her lips.

Mulder looked at the twenty-five year old agent, and

wondered if he’d really ever looked as young and

guileless as Kenny looked now. He must be getting old,

someone had once said that was how you knew — when

policemen started looking as if they were still in high

school. He couldn’t help the smile that pulled at his

lips.

Mulder and Skinner, and Scully to a lesser extent,

filled Kenny in on all their non-findings. Mulder

noticed how their boss’s eyes kept roaming over to

where he and Scully sat next to each other on the sofa.

Being in each other’s presence was an unexpected bonus,

they shouldn’t have touched each other but

nevertheless, every now and then their hands would meet

on the no-man’s-land between them, and their fingers

would twine. Mulder was surprised to see an indulgent

smile on the older man’s face.

Skinner surprised them with the information that the

video tapes from Lowry’s building showed nothing at

all, literally. At the time they assumed the attack was

taking place there must have been some sort of an

electrical disturbance. The video film merely displayed

a ‘snow’ effect.

Later, Mulder went out to the kitchen with Skinner to

help bring in the coffee.

“By the way, Sir, thanks for easing Kenny in. I thought

we’d have grief at the crime scene, but the local PD

was expecting him.”

“It’s the least I could do in the circumstances,

Mulder.”

“Truthfully, Sir, how’s she doing? I, umm….”

“I understand. She’s restless. She didn’t sleep very well

last night either. I suspect Scully’s never been one to enjoy

being cooped up with nothing to do. Hopefully this won’t be

for much longer. She’s even started cleaning the place.”

Mulder felt his eyes rolling upwards and a grin

threatened to split his face. “Yes, *that* can be quite

trying,” he said nodding in sympathy.

They all knew this time out of time was over. They had

to get back to dealing with the realities.

When it was time for them to leave, Skinner took Kenny

out with him, giving Mulder and Scully a few moments on

their own to say goodbye.

“Skinner’s getting very thoughtful in his old age,

don’t you agree?” Scully asked softly.

“Mmm. Yes, he’s definitely mellowing.” Mulder hugged

her fiercely to him. Her arms wound around his waist as

he gently tilted her face up to his and kissed her

softly on the mouth. He traced a path over her cheeks

with his fingers and, while still cupping her face in

his hands. Finally, he closed her eyes with his

thumbs.

“Hold that thought, Scully,” he whispered and then

dropped a kiss on the tip of her nose as an

afterthought. Breathing unsteadily, he eased back from

her.

Scully stood in the center of the room, her arms

wrapped around herself, her eyes tightly shut as he

left her.

MULDER’S APARTMENT

Wednesday, 12:15 a.m.

No matter how hard he tried, the thoughts of Scully

couldn’t hold his demons at bay. Her words kept running

through his head over and over like stuck record.

“I had this dream… awake or asleep…. I had this

awful feeling of emptiness, of loss as if something

very precious had been taken away from me….”

In deference to Kenny, who was now softly snoring in

the bedroom, Mulder didn’t switch his TV on. It had

been a very long day for the fledging profiler, and he

didn’t have Mulder’s odd inner body clock.

Mulder squirmed around on the couch, trying to make

himself comfortable. He was physically and mentally

exhausted. He’d kept a front up during the evening for

Scully’s sake. Now alone, in the semidarkness, he

wished more than anything, for a restful few hours;

that and her in his arms. But then, the two things were

synonymous.

A soft swishing sound in the corner of the room caught

his attention, like cloth dragged along the floor. A

patter, as if there was a mouse or a rat in the corner.

The scrabbling got louder, coming nearer, a small dark

shape, or was it a shadow, flitted around the room,

first here, then over there. It seemed to grow in

intensity, in darkness. He couldn’t judge now if it

were just a shadow, or a growing shape with illogically

no shadow at all. Could it be an animal. Part of his

brain was questioning this statement. What would an

animal be doing in his apartment? How can a black

object increase in darkness? He could make out the

black shape.

He started to get up to investigate, but his legs felt

leaden. He couldn’t stir. He was unable to move at all,

not even his head. He could see the shape only when it

flitted across his field of vision, getting nearer and

neared to the couch. Fear spiraled, clutching at his

throat, his ragged breath felt icy against his lips.

Something was pulling on the blanket, the shifting

weight moved up the cushions, crawling up toward him.

The sound was getting louder, more intense, more

menacing.

His heart pounded in his chest, threatening to

suffocate him. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t throw the

weight off his chest. Its fists against his shoulders,

it held him down. He saw the misshapen face looming

over him, its breath rancid, coming in gasps that

scorched his cheek, made his stomach turn. The pressure

around his neck, squeezing, throttling, the misshapen

fingers, clawing at his throat. His eyes threatened to

pop from their sockets.

Darkness overpowered him, the breath sucked out of him.

Scully! Oblivion threatened to crush him and he fought

the malevolence with all the strength he had left in

him. He felt his fist connecting with something, then

he heard the grunt of pain in the darkness, followed by

gasp.

In the semidarkness he saw the shape again, scuttling

with a crab-like gait. Mulder twisted around on the

couch to try to reach his gun. It was all around him,

he could sense it, smell it, taste it. This presence

was evil personified. It made his gut heave.

An arm closed around his wrist like a vise, dragging

him back. The body that held him down was solid,

heavier than before. Suddenly it rolled and a light

snapped on.

“Dammit, Mulder! Wake up! Ya gotta wake up!” Kenny

pleaded.

Kenny’s frustration evaporated as he saw Mulder’s

helpless panic. Seeing Kenny standing to the side of

him, nursing a bloody nose brought Mulder back to the

present.

“Kenny? Shit, I’m sorry.”

“I heard you screaming and came in to see what the

matter was. So, it seems all I ever do is get

assaulted for my troubles. Jeez, Mulder,” he said, with

a rueful smile, “I’d hate to be your enemy, if this is how

you treat your friends.”

Kenny looked at his former mentor. Mulder felt the

terror receding, gradually ebbing away but apprehension

still lingered, even now with the light on.

Kenny instinctively seemed to know. “Wanna talk about

it?”

“Nah…yes…I don’t know. It’s only some damn fool

nightmare. Been overdoing it, that’s all.”

“Yeah, like I believe you. Look, Mulder, it’s ‘Spooky,

Junior’ you’re talking to here, so cut the crap and

talk. What did you dream? Something was here. I thought

it was you when I first came in…but there was

something else in here, I swear….I felt it, it gave

me the creeps. It’s cold in here!” Kenny shivered.

“Leave it, Kenny, we’re both overreacting. I’ve been

under a lot of strain recently, and you’re ready to

drop with fatigue. Not very good witness material,

either of us.”

But Mulder knew better than to try to BS his friend, so

he explained what he’d been experiencing over the past

week.

“So you mean that this started *before* your partner’s

arrest?”

“Yeah, a couple of days before, but it was never as bad

as this. It’s escalating. It seems so real… It scares

the living daylights out of me.” Mulder couldn’t help

the shudder that shook him.

Kenny took a long look at the older man. “Hey, Mulder,

What have you done to your neck? You’ve got scratches

all around your throat.”

Mulder’s fingers went up to touch the sore area. They

came away spotted with blood.

It took a while for them to clean themselves up and try

to fix the damage Mulder had done to Kenny’s nose. It

was sometime later before they managed to settle back

into their respective sleeping quarters.

ACT III

WEDNESDAY, 3:46 a.m.

In the hours before dawn Mulder woke from a deep sleep.

He saw the room was still dark, and shuffled back until

he felt the back of the couch comfortably press against

the small of his back. He did not know why he had

awakened until the phone rang a second time, startling

him back into consciousness. He fumbled in the semi-

dark to find the instrument.

“This had better be important,” he snarled into the

receiver.

“It is. I’m sorry to wake you.” Mulder recognized

Walter Skinner’s voice. He also recognized the deadly

urgency in his tone. He sat on the edge of the couch

and rubbed a hand over his rough chin.

“What’s wrong? His tone became concerned. Silence

hummed over the line, broken by intermittent static.

“There’s a problem,” Skinner said, breaking the

silence.

“What problem? Scully?” Mulder’s hand gripped the

receiver so tightly the plastic nearly cracked.

“Scully’s fine, she’s asleep.”

“So what’s happened? What do you want me to do?”

“I need for you and Agent Andrews to get over here,

now. There’s been a development.”

“Sir?”

“Just get over here, I can’t discuss this over the

phone.”

“We’re on our way,” he told his superior.

VIVA TOWER, CRYSTAL CITY, VIRGINIA

Skinner’s Apartment

Wednesday, 4:30 a.m.

The AD was waiting for them at the door when they

arrived. Skinner looked hard at the agents as they

entered. Almost imperceptibly his piecing gaze shifted

from Mulder to Kenny and back to Mulder. Skinner let

out a sigh, a questioning look on his face. He eyes

never left Mulder.

“You look like hell, Mulder,” Skinner said as he led

them into his living room.

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Having trouble sleeping?”

“Try not sleeping at all.”

“Hmm. You and Andrews had a disagreement?”

“Sir?”

Skinner looked pointedly at Kenny’s swollen face and

then at Mulder’s neck.

“You know the Bureau’s policy on agents brawling?”

“It’s not what you think, Sir.”

“I sincerely hope not, Agent.”

“I was dreaming, Kenny came in to see what the noise

was about, and I’m afraid I overreacted.”

Skinner appeared to have lost interest in that

conversation. They entered the room.

“Please, take a seat. Would you like coffee? I’ve just

made some.”

Mulder took a sip of his coffee as he sat on the couch.

He used the movement to surreptitiously glance at his

companions who sat on dark wood chairs at the side of

him. Skinner looked as though he’d got dressed in a

hurry and Kenny… well, the Kid just looked tired, bruised,

and battered.

“So, Sir, what’s come up? You said when you called,

there’d been a development. Is Scully finally off the

hook?”

“No, I’m afraid things look as if they’re escalating.”

Skinner unhooked his eye glasses and polished them

vigorously on the edge of his white t-shirt. For some

reason, this action always made Mulder anxious. He’d

learned that the man only ever did this when he felt

stressed. It was almost as if his superior was buying

time, trying to find the right words. Skinner’s eyes

without the glasses were blind, unwavering and

surprisingly compassionate.

“Escalating? How so?” Mulder asked.

“Annelise Gates, the girl you interviewed yesterday.”

“Yes?”

“She’s dead.”

“Dead? How…? Why…?”

“She died under the wheels of the 11:50 Metro train on

her way home at the end of her shift tonight. Thank

your lucky stars that you had Kenny with you when you

interviewed her. It could have looked bad as the prime

suspect’s partner being the last to see her alive.

“The local police force is covering the station,

interviewing the witnesses. The platform was crowded.

That was the last train out; a lot of people were

trying to get home. At the moment the opinion seems

evenly split between her jumping and being pushed. Get

yourselves down there and see what else you can pick

up.”

The telephone at Skinner’s elbow rang. As he listened,

his face was grave, his comments terse. When the

receiver clattered back into position, he addressed the

men who waited.

“We might have a break. They’re looking to see if the

security cameras picked anything up.”

Kenny and Mulder turned to leave.

“You’re a good agent, Mulder- trust your instincts. But

Mulder, for the sake of us all, especially your

partner, keep a low profile. We don’t need any more

attention focused on us. Am I making myself clear?”

“Crystal.” Mulder paused for moment. “Umm, I was

thinking about what you said earlier. Would you do

something for me?” Mulder ground to a halt, unsure how

to phrase his request.

“You need me to do something,” Skinner prompted with

surprising patience given the circumstances.

“Uhm…yeah…er…would you to give this to Scully

when she wakes up…it may cheer her up.”

Mulder took out a small rectangular package, wrapped in

a green plastic sack out of his coat pocket and held it

out to Skinner.

Skinner’s face softened as much as it could as he

nodded.

“I’ll see to it that she gets it, Mulder.”

“Thanks.”

“Sure thing.”

J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING

VIDEO PROCESSING DEPT.

Wednesday, 8:45 a.m.

They’d returned from the train station with little more

information than they’d arrived with. But it seemed

they’d finally caught a break. The incident was

recorded on camera, but the images were not as clear as

they would have liked. The two agents were on their way

to see Mulder’s technician friend to see if he could

improve on the imaging.

“Hey, Danny, long time no see. We really need the

favor. Wonder if you could help us out on this.”

Mulder handed over the video cassette. Danny had

managed to create miracles on previous occasions,

especially that time Scully had been abducted. He was a

whiz with computers, digital enhancement, the works. If

anyone could pull clear pictures off this, Danny would

be the guy to do it.

“Look, guys, this may take an hour or two, I’ll need

to get this freeze-framed, enlarged, whatever. The pair

of you look bushed, why don’t you go get yourselves

cleaned up, grab something to eat. I’ll call your cell

phone just as soon as I’ve got anything.”

“Yeah, right. What’s it gonna cost us this time?”

“The Redskins are playing at the Jack Kent Cook

Stadium in two weeks time, I could sure use a couple of

prime tickets for that.”

“Okay Danny, you’re on, but for that, this had better

be good.”

MULDER’S APARTMENT

Wednesday, 9:15 a.m.

His phone rang in the living room just as Mulder and

Kenny stepped through the door. Mulder moved swiftly

across the room to get to the phone before the machine

picked up.

“Mulder?”

“Right here, Scully.”

“I just wanted to say thanks. I appreciated the loan.”

“You’re welcome, Scully.” It always amazed Mulder how

even just the sound of his partner’s voice could lighten his

spirit.

“You shouldn’t have done it, Mulder, but thank you. I

know how much that video means to you. I mean,

Caddyshack *is* your favorite, along with some of those

videos that aren’t yours.”

He grinned before answering her. “I didn’t think you’d

appreciate *those* ones. I just thought…. Thinking about it,

I’m too tired to remember what I thought, other than it seemed

like a good idea at the time.” All of a sudden he felt a little shy.

He changed the subject. “How you doing, Scully?”

“Other than being bored and going stir crazy? I think

I’m doing just fine. How much daytime TV can a person

watch before finally flipping out? You know, I’d even be

happy to do some expense reports right now.”

“Mmm. Things are *that* bad, are they?”

“Yeah, even flukemen are beginning to be appealing.

Mulder? Skinner told me about Annelise. I’m getting

a bad feeling about this. And yes, I know that’s usually

your department, but just be careful, ‘kay? I can’t be there

to cover your back. I-I wish there was something I could

do. Being confined is doing my head in and Skinner is so

organized that there isn’t anything for me to do. I even

thought I’d help out a little by cleaning up a bit, but I get the

impression I’m beginning to drive the guy nuts.”

“I’ll be careful, I promise. I’m even gonna have breakfast and

a rest before I get back to the grindstone, how about that,

hmm? As to flukemen, I’ll see what I can find for you.” He heard

her laugh. “Gotta go, Scully. Talk to you later.”

After he and Kenny had eaten, Mulder showered. He was

dragging a razor around his face when the call came

through on his cell.

“Danny here, I’ve got it looking as good as it gets. Come over

and take a look.”

FBI BUILDING.

VIDEO PROCESSING DEPT.

Wednesday, 1:10 p.m.

“I have to admit, usually at this point in the investigation,

I’m a little more secure in what it is that we’re supposed to

be investigating. I’m hoping you’ll be able to throw some

light on all of this, Danny.”

“I’ve done the best I can with this, boss. It’s freeze-

framed, digitally enhanced, blown up, slowed down. You

name it, I’ve done it. Here, let me show you.”

Danny ran the video via the computer onto a large

overhead screen.

“Look, there she is, the train comes in, she lunges

forward; she’s down.”

“Let’s see that again. Look, look just there. That shadow.

See? It seems to move towards Annelise. Just before she

goes into the lunge, it recedes. Just there! Do you see what

I mean?”

Danny ran the clip over a few times. Kenny shivered.

“Hey, Kid? You cold?”

“No, just felt like someone walked over my grave. Guess it’s

the lack of sleep getting to me that’s making me jumpy. It’s no

big deal.”

“Danny, can you blow this up further, slow it down some

more?”

“Comin’ right up, Mulder.”

He fiddled with the settings, muttering to himself.

“What do *you* think happened, Mulder? Did she jump,

or was she pushed?” Kenny inquired.

Danny was finally finished with the adjustments.

“Jeez!” Mulder couldn’t believe what he was seeing

here.

“Run that again!” He all but shouted at the technician.

“Look, Kenny, are my eyes deceiving me? Do I think I

see what I think I see?

At this magnification and speed, the shadow had

materialized into a shape, a familiar shape, a shape

that haunted him in his nightmares night after night.

They could clearly see it approaching Annelise, just as

the train was drawing level with her, they could see

her propelled forward by the black draped form, before

it turned and retreated.

“Christ!” gasped Kenny. “I don’t believe this! What the

hell is that?”

“She was pushed! It pushed Annelise under the goddamned

train! It’s out and out murder! Kenny that’s what I keep seeing,

at night. That’s the thing, the crone. Shit! Kenny I can’t get my

head around this.”

“Mulder? Hey, are you okay, you’re as white as a sheet.”

Mulder ignored him.

“Danny, can you print off a hard copy of that image for me?”

“Sure thing, Mulder. Do you want me to record the clip at this

speed and magnification?”

“Is that possible?”

“For you, Mulder, anything.”

Mulder managed to get the AD on his private line and

explained to Skinner what Danny had found.

“Sir? Listen, you’ve just got to get down here and see

this. You’re not gonna believe it. I barely can. I think this

case has just graduated from plain homicide to an X-File.

Please get over here and take a look for yourself.”

As they waited for Skinner to come down, Kenny asked

Mulder quietly, “Have you told anyone about your dreams?”

“Nah. It’s not like anyone else would believe me.”

MULDER’S APARTMENT

Wednesday, 10:15 p.m.

Mulder lay on his couch. Kenny had already hit the sack. Ahh,

these youngsters, they just haven’t got the stamina, he thought,

grinning.

It had been an extremely busy afternoon and evening. In the

light of the new evidence, strange as it was, a lot of things

had been re-examined. Suddenly Mulder wasn’t quite the persona

non grata he’d been before. It’s nice to know I’m so highly regarded,

he thought to himself. He had no illusions as to the reason for his

suddenly elevated status. All this had deepened the mystery further,

but at least they couldn’t try to lay the blame for Annelise’s death on

Scully. This in turn put a different slant on the original killing.

He and Kenny had done a lot of legwork during the

afternoon, revisiting the various locations. Signing

and resigning for various bits of evidence. There was

one surprise for them when they went back to Lowry’s

apartment. Mulder had overlooked it before as it didn’t

seem to have any bearing on the case at the time. In he

living room there was a framed etching on the wall. The

print, when it caught his eye, stopped Mulder dead in

his tracks.

Kenny looked up at the print. “Henry Fusili, 18th

Century Italian painter. One of my professors of

psychology was very heavily into art. I remember having

to listen to his lectures. He’d illustrate much of his

lessons with various paintings. This was one of his

favorites. He had this theory that this showed our

subconscious fears. The demon, crone, whatever that is

sitting on the young woman’s chest is a presentiment of

death. See how the girl appears either unconscious or

dead? He said it was fear that caused such dreams.”

He looked over at Mulder who was feeling physically

sick. It must have showed.

“Mulder? Is something wrong?”

“I’m not sure I’m awake.”

“You think this is a dream?”

“That’s it, Kenny. This is what I see in my dreams, it’s what I

*feel*. But it’s evil, Kenny, pure evil. Why do I keep seeing it?

Why me? There are too many coincidences, but I can’t see

what my connection to all this is. I feel that somehow it knows

me. I feel as though it’s stalking me.”

Kenny hadn’t known what to say to that, but his face

had told Mulder all he needed to know — he was finally

losing it.

Now, as he lay on his couch trying to rest, Mulder

thought back to the incident with Skinner years back.

There was a woman in his dreams too, an ancient elder,

a crone; but strangely enough that one had seemed oddly

protective of the man. Maybe he should talk to Skinner

about this, but he couldn’t see his boss opening up

enough to discuss this with him.

There was nothing protective about the images that

haunted Mulder’s nights and intruded into his days.

This was pure malevolence, something he was sure would

enjoy taking his life if he let his guard slip.

He left the desk light on. It softly illuminated his

living room, chasing his fears away. Maybe tonight he

would be able to rest.

Mulder shot up on the couch, the air was filled with

Scully’s cries, cries of pure terror. His heart raced,

and it took him a moment to grasp where he was. He was

in his living room, lying on his couch in an uncomfortable

position. Scully wasn’t here, Scully was safe in Skinner’s

apartment.

The darkness hovering over Scully was just a dream, a

figment of his imagination. The light was still on, and for a few

seconds he lay motionless, trying to recapture the moments

just before he’d woken up. He rubbed the waffle pattern the

cushion had left on his cheek.

As he remembered, his breathing accelerated. Scully was

in danger. He could feel her panic, so close, so close.

Mulder wasn’t sure what had happened. The sense of

dread that had come over him steadily grew. Something

was desperately wrong. He *had* to get to her. He got

up and quietly started to pull his clothes on.

His cell phone sounded. He picked it up after the first

ring.

“Mulder.”

“Sorry to wake you.”

“Scully? Is she all right? I dreamed….”

“My God,” breathed the A.D. “That’s impossible!” For a

moment Skinner seemed to stunned to continue, then he

appeared to think better of it. “How…? Y-you’d better

get over here Mulder. She needs you, and you’re the

only one she’s likely to listen to.”

“What?”

“I’ll explain when you get here, she’s safe, but she’s

very upset.” Skinner sounded distressed too. This more

than anything else troubled Mulder.

“I’m on my way.”

He stopped for only long enough to leave a note for

Kenny.

ACT IV

CRYSTAL CITY

Skinner’s Apartment

Thursday, 2:10 a.m.

As Mulder squinted against the glare of the headlights

as he drove along the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway

toward Skinner’s apartment, he couldn’t help worrying.

Worrying? Shit, he was frantic. He looked down and saw

his hands, white knuckled on the steering wheel. He

hadn’t even noticed the speed he was doing until he

looked at the gauges to see the speedometer wavered

between 85 and 90. What was he doing, he chided

himself. He eased his foot off the gas a little and

slowed down. All he needed now was a run in with the

police.

For once his good fortune held. Luckily, at this time

of night there was not much traffic. He pulled off the

JD Highway in front of Skinner’s glassy tower building.

It took him minutes to park the car and like forever to

get up to the AD’s front door. An uncharacteristically

flustered Skinner opened the door to him, dressed in

pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. Mulder could see

something was seriously wrong. Skinner’s jaw was so

tight, Mulder could almost see him grinding his teeth.

There was a scratch mark on his cheek; the one on his

arm was oozing slightly.

“Mulder, she’s through there.” Relief was evident on

Skinner’s face.

“Sir, what the hell happened here?” Mulder saw Skinner’s

Sig Sauer lying on the small table in the hallway. “Are you

okay, Sir? You don’t look too well.”

“I just can’t stop shaking. I must have been in a deep

sleep, when I heard her screaming. My first thought

was that there was an intruder, I drew my weapon

automatically. She was standing outside my bedroom, it

was dark and she just screamed, and then something

brushed past me, black, soft. I felt…I-I can’t

describe *what* I felt. Danger, revulsion?” Skinner

paused to catch his breath.

“Scully was totally out of it. She didn’t seem to

recognize me or know where she was. That’s when I

called you, Mulder. She’s calmer now. At first, when I

tried to lead her back to her room, she just went for

me. She fought me, she was afraid of me. Then she sort

of sagged and crumpled. I had to carry her back to her

bed. She’s been whimpering in the corner ever since. I

don’t understand what happened here…. I don’t know

what to do. She doesn’t seem to know me.”

Mulder was shocked to see the fatigue and anxiety

evident in his boss’s body posture, and for once he

didn’t try to mask it by assuming the A.D. mantle.

Mulder could see how very uncomfortable Skinner was

with the situation. Was there something he wasn’t

telling Mulder? He kept fiddling with his eyeglasses,

taking them off to polish on his t-shirt, before

replacing them again only to remove them to rub his

eyes.

“Uh, I need to see her, I need to talk to her…”

“It’s okay, Mulder, do what you need to do. I’ll leave

the two of you alone. She’ll be better with you. To be

honest she scared the shit out of me.” This admission

in itself was enough to push Mulder’s anxiety a few

notched higher.

“Look, if you need anything, you know where the kitchen

is, just make yourself at home. I’ll make myself scarce.

I’ll most likely only upset her again if she sees me again

tonight. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Mulder could have sworn his boss added “Good luck.”

Outside her room, Mulder ran a hand through his hair

And tried to work out what had happened here. Scully

was rarely out of control, practically unflappable, as

was their boss. Whatever had taken place here tonight

had really shaken them both up.

Softly he tapped on the door. Not waiting for an

answer, he went in. He was stunned by the state of his

partner. She was huddled up, cringing in the corner of

the bed but at least the whimpering had stopped.

clip_image001

“Hey, Scully. I’m here now. It’s going to be all

right.” He tried to keep his voice quiet and

reassuring.

She nodded as she recognized him, but her quivering

lower lip and tear-filled eyes told him that she didn’t

yet share his believe that every thing would be okay.

He knelt beside her, by the side of the bed and tucked

an errant strand of hair behind her ear.

“Feel like talking, Scully?”

She didn’t answer him at first. He saw the lone tear

break free and trail down her cheek. She shook her

head.

There would be plenty of time later for talk,

explanations. At this moment, all Scully really needed

was to be held. He couldn’t deny her that. He moved

over onto the bed and gathered her trembling form into

his arms. At first she resisted his touch, almost as if

she were afraid of him, then slowly, slowly the tension

in her eased.

He sat down, pulling her gently towards him and rocked

her. He wasn’t sure which of them needed this contact

more. He could feel all tension leaving him as he

buried his nose in her hair and inhaled. He didn’t know

how long they sat like that. Finally she moved in his

arms, pulling away.

“You’re going to be okay,” he assured. He was loath to

let her go, but she needed her space, needed to put the

veneer of composure around herself. It was just the way

she was.

“Yeah, I’m just…I’m just going to take a shower and

then, well, try to sleep.”

He looked down at her upset face, but wasn’t surprised

at her denial of the situation, they were masters of it

after all.. “Scully, let me in, let me help you.”

But it was as if she hadn’t heard nor wanted to hear.

He decided not to pursue this tonight.

“You want something hot to drink, Scully?”

She nodded. “Thanks, Mulder.”

“Always… you know that.” He smiled at her as he headed toward

the kitchen.

ACT V

“Easy, Scully. Relax. It was just a dream.” His fingers

gently stroked her cheek, bringing warming blood back

to the icy flesh. Still swimming towards consciousness,

she turned towards his comforting touch. After an age

she opened her eyes.

Mulder sat on her bed wearing only his jeans, his eyes

red from lack of sleep. He pulled her into in his arms.

It had just turned four when the sound of her voice

roused him out of the heavy dreamless sleep he’d been

in. He’d rushed in from the couch in the living room,

glad she hadn’t woken Skinner up. She continued to

whimper, trapped in her dreams. “C’mon, Scully, it’s

okay, I have you now.”

She pulled him tighter to herself. She began to shake,

her teeth chattering.

“Can you tell me, Scully? Tell me what’s upsetting

you.”

Slowly she shook her head against his chest. She was

well and truly spooked, but she wasn’t ready to share

with him, and he couldn’t, wouldn’t push her.

“I’m not u-usually like this,” she murmured. “I’m always so g-good

at …at coping, but this…” She broke off, her gaze clinging to his.

“S-sorry. This isn’t your problem.”

“You’re okay. It’s okay,” Mulder repeated over and over as he rocked

her slowly in his arms. “You’re safe, now, I’m here, and it *is* my

problem. I won’t let anything hurt you.”

“Don’t go,” she pleaded.

“I won’t leave you, ever,” Mulder answered. He

hesitated, then loosened his hold slightly so he could

scoot underneath the blankets next to her. She clung on

to him.

“Shh, It’s okay, it’s okay. Come on, put your head

down, you need to sleep.”

“I saw it Mulder,” she whispered. “I saw the blood, it

was everywhere. I-I think I was g-gonna hurt S-

Skinner.” This disclosure sent an involuntary shiver

through him, compounding the chaos that reigned in his

head.

“Shh, Scully it was a dream, it was only a bad dream,

that’s all.”

He gathered her close to him, the soft cotton of her

pajamas brushed against his skin. Right, this felt so

right, the feel of her against his body. He lowered his

mouth to her and felt her hands move into his hair,

pressing him closer to herself. “I need to hold you,

Scully, to touch you.”

“I need you too Mulder, but Skinner… we can’t… not

here…” she began to edge away from him.

Mulder shifted, then lifted her, leaning her back

against his chest, trapping her between his spread

legs.

“But I….”

“Shh, ” he said nuzzling her neck. “Let me touch you

Scully, let me hold you, please. Let me make you feel

better.” His hand trailed down to the waistband of her

green plaid pajamas and she made a soft mewing sound.

He let his fingers roam over her, caressing, reassuring.

She jerked as if startled. It was so good touching her.

For now this was enough for him. His mouth on hers

absorbed the little sounds she was making. And still he

held her, enjoying the weight of her as she covered him

like a blanket.

Finally she craned her head so she could see his face.

He smiled up at her.

“Go to sleep, Scully,” he ordered in a gruff voice.

“I’ll keep the nightmares away.”

She smiled. “Mmm.”

She slept.

Mulder lay on his back, one arm flung across his face,

grateful for the darkness. Scully’s cheek was a gentle

weight on his shoulder, as she lay against him. He

breathed in, filling his lungs, aware of the faint

musky rose scent of her body, that delicious womanly

scent that was intrinsically Scully. Strangely, he felt

it shroud him, protect him. Maybe she could keep him

safe too, keep *his* nightmares at bay.

He started worrying about what had happened before he

got there, what she’d seen. There was no way she could

have killed Lowry. And what had spooked Skinner? Did he

believe himself in danger from Scully? How did it all

fit together? That was the mystery.

He wasn’t leaving her alone tonight. To hell with

precedence and protocol, and if it came to that, to

hell with Skinner. Let the Bureau do its worst. His

last coherent thought was, together they would be safe.

THURSDAY, 7:15 a.m.

It was the smell of fresh coffee and toasted cinnamon

and raisin bagels that woke him up. He looked down at

Scully, still peacefully asleep in his arms. Had last

night really happened, or was it just a dream?

He moved to slide out of the bed. He’d compromised his

partner enough as it was. What they did in their own

time was their own business and he wasn’t ashamed of

it, but this was Skinner’s home. He might be their

friend, but Mulder didn’t want to put their superior in

an untenable position.

As he got up, Scully opened her eyes. Although she

still looked a little dazed, the look of fear had gone

from her face. He grazed his knuckles gently across her

cheek.

“It’s all right, Scully, I’m just going to the kitchen,

Skinner seems to be in breakfast mode.”

Stepping into the kitchen, he knew that there was no

way that Skinner couldn’t know where Mulder had spent

the night.

“It’s okay, Mulder, this is all strictly off the record.” The older

man tried to put him at ease, and Mulder couldn’t quite contain

the sigh of relief. He could have sworn he heard his superior say,

“Last night never happened, Agent Mulder.”

Skinner’s remark surprised him. There was something

different about their boss this morning. Although he

seemed very understanding, he also seemed ill at ease,

nervous somehow. “Sir, about last night, before I got

here, exactly what happened?”

Mulder was taken aback at Walter Skinner’s reaction.

The man turned pale.

“If you don’t mind, Mulder, I’d rather not discuss the

matter at this time. I need to get it straight in my

head first.” Walter Skinner hesitated. “I think the

pair of you need to talk, Mulder. Scully will find it a

lot easier if I’m not here. I’m going into the office

to catch up on the paperwork and there are a number of

reports I need to review. I should be done by late

afternoon.”

“Thank you, Sir. I appreciate everything you’re doing

for Scully, for us.”

“It’s the least I can do for friends, Mulder.”

Mulder felt strangely touched by that remark. For just a

moment there, Skinner had seemed both very alone and

envious at the same time. This lack of sleep was definitely

getting to Mulder’s thinking patterns.

Skinner had already left the apartment by the time Scully came

into the kitchen.

“Come and eat, Scully, and then we need to talk.”

Scully drank her coffee but only toyed with the bagels. Mulder

understood how difficult this was going to be for them both.

“Come on, Scully, you trust me don’t you? Tell me about

the dream last night. What did you see? What happened

that frightened Skinner?”

“How do you know that, Mulder?”

“It was something you said last night, that and

Skinner’s reaction to all this. I’ve…umm, I’ve looked

into it recently. I’ve been in contact with Dr. Cardoso

at the Bethesda Sleep Clinic. Do you remember? They

helped us when Skinner was having sleep problems.”

“You think that’s what my problem is? That I’m likely

to…. That I…. Is that why Skinner isn’t here this

morning? God, the one thing I *do* remember from last

night was the look of fear on his face. Jesus…”

“Scully, it’s not….”

“Last night Mulder, last night I woke up outside Skinner’s

room. It’s been playing through my head, over and over….

Was I going to do to him what I must have done to Marcus

Lowry? Or was I going to take his life some other way?

Was that why he was so scared, Mulder? Was it all a bad

dream, or did I really do that to Marcus? I can’t remember… but

I saw the photos. Am I capable of doing something like that to a

total stranger? Mulder, my necklace was found in his bed.”

Mulder heard the rising panic in her voice. “I didn’t

know him, Mulder, I don’t know where he lived. How

could I…?”

He came around the table and took hold of her. She was

trembling.

“Scully? Calm down. I can’t believe you’re saying this;

that you’re even considering going down that path.

Skinner doesn’t believe you’re capable of anything like

that. I certainly don’t.”

“That’s just the point. I feel I’m on borrowed time,

waiting for something dreadful to happen.”

“I’d have said the worst has already happened.”

“Am I crazy, Mulder? Are you afraid of me?”

“I’m afraid of where you’re going with this, but no, I

could never fear you. I trust you with my life.”

“Even after you saw Marcus, even after what might have

happened last night?”

“I trust you with my life. I always have, and I always

will, no matter what.”

She pulled away from him.

“I need to try to make some sense of all this, Mulder.

I think I want to check myself into that sleep clinic.

Would you take me over there, will you do that for me?”

“Scully, you didn’t do it; you couldn’t do it. It’s not

in your nature.”

“Please Mulder, I need to do this. I need to know.”

He couldn’t deny her this. He could never deny her

anything.

BETHESDA SLEEP DISORDER CLINIC

Dr. Cardoso’s office

Thursday, 11:28 a.m.

Skinner had been all for the idea and it had taken

surprisingly little time to get Scully an appointment.

Mulder couldn’t help wondering what strings had been

pulled.

She asked Mulder to come in with her to see the

doctor. He moved to sit next to her as the procedure was

explained to them.

“After consultation with, and comprehensive evaluation

by a sleep specialist, each patient is diagnosed and he

appropriate therapy is determined. As part of the

consultation and evaluation, a sleep study may be

performed during a period of one or two nights. You

understand, Dr. Scully, that hospitalization is not

necessarily required?”

“I think I’d rather the tests be done here.” Mulder

surreptitiously took Scully’s hand and gave it an

encouraging squeeze. She did not pull away.

“That’s not a problem, Dr. Scully, we can accommodate

you on that. Overnight tests are completed by 7 am.

During a sleep study, you will be monitored by

painless, non-invasive technology.”

Dr. Cardoso took them both to see one of the suites

where the testing would take place.

“Apart from the recordings of all the monitors that the

patient is attached to during the test, we also keep a

video record of the patient. The actual observation

booth is situated a little up the hall, away from the

suites where the patients stay. It lessens the chance

of patients being disturbed by the comings and goings

of the technicians. There is continuous monitoring of

course, but most patients prefer this setup. It’s not

quite as if we were in the room with them.” She smiled.

“A sleep test, the polysomnogram, simultaneously

records heart rate, brain waves, breathing, oxygenation

and eye and leg movements. As you can see, this suite is

state-of-the-art. Treatment for sleep disorders may

include a prescription for a device to aid the

patient’s breathing while sleeping, medication or light

therapy as well as neuropsychiatric interventions,

including biofeedback. Don’t worry, none of that is as

daunting as it sounds. If indicated, referral to, or

consultations with other specialists might be

recommended to aid in diagnosis and treatment.”

The doctor smiled at them, “Is there a problem with any

of that?”

Scully even managed a weak smile as she shook her head.

Scully was to report back by half past eight that

evening. It would give the doctor and the technician a

chance to run preliminary tests and get her ‘wired up’.

Now that it was all set up, she relaxed a little.

“Do you mind if I come with you, Scully? I can sit with

the technician in the observation booth. It won’t be

the first time I’ve watched you sleep, and at least

this time you won’t be drooling all over my shoulder,”

he quipped, and was glad to see a corresponding smile

on her lips.

“Never let it be said that I’d deprive you of scintillating

entertainment, Mulder.”

“Well,” he tried giving her his best leer. “There’s only reruns on

TV for the next few nights. There isn’t even a decent game

anywhere.”

“Oh, well Mulder, that *definitely* settles it then, doesn’t it.”

“Well, if watching you sleep becomes too tedious, I could

always catch up on writing some of those reports.”

“What, and run the risk of giving our superior a heart attack?”

BETHESDA SLEEP DISORDER CLINIC

Friday, 3:30 a.m.

Scully settled for the night, and judging by the monitors and

viewing screen, she was enjoying normal restful sleep.

Mulder found it very soothing, watching his partner

sleep. It gave him plenty of opportunity to sit and

just think.

As he repeatedly turned the events over in his mind,

he began to realize that nothing was as clear to him as

the fact of his own confusion. He thought he knew what

he’d seen, what he’d experienced. But now, seeing how

deeply these revelations had affected his partner… he

wasn’t sure what to think. His normally ordered, precise

mind was in total chaos.

This case was really bugging him, so many anomalies.

Had it been anyone else but Scully involved it would

have been pretty much open and shut, but regardless of

how things appeared, this couldn’t possibly be so here.

He knew his partner too well. Mulder chewed his lip as

he considered the possibilities. How had the blood got

onto her pajamas? There was no way she could have

traveled the distance between the two buildings — could

there? No, he wasn’t even going to entertain that theory.

But if it hadn’t been her, then who?

His own dreams worried him. He couldn’t work out why

they had started when they had. Were they some sort of

a portent, or just the figment of his overactive, exhausted

mind. He’d always accepted that evil existed per se, but

the idea of a struggle between the forces of good and evil

fitted better between the lines of some gothic novel than

into his life.

Men were good, men were evil, evil thoughts, evil

deeds. Yet he’d never really considered either good or

evil as being a creature in its own right, a being

self contained, self motivated. Up till now, he had

come face to face with an entity that threatened to

take over his entire being, but this creature was self-

contained. It seemed now to be behind much of what

they’d seen in their work on the X-Files.

Blowing out a frustrated breath, Mulder muttered.

“There’s something I’m not getting. Something’s

missing…. Why her, why me? Is there a link, and if

so what is it?” He cast his mind back to a week before

when they were working on their last case. What was it

she’d said about God choosing his own tools?

With her bias towards scientific proof and logical

explanations, he was surprised in the past at her

ready acceptance of the concept of evil. He would have

expected her to shy away from this exotic idea, that it

would make the scientist in her uncomfortable. But

then, she believed in God. You had to have good if you

were to have bad; it was just the way things worked.

To Scully it had been so simple, there was something

out there, trying to make her do things, had maybe made

her do things, waiting to get her. It terrified her,

but she was prepared to go down that path to try to

discover more, to resolve the problem. She had the

belief. He on the other hand was so much in denial that

sometimes he feared he’d never ever extract his head

again.

Their roles here had been reversed, she the believer,

he the skeptic. He had seen it, felt it, smelled it,

yet part of his mind was still trying to rationalize

it, to find reasons, to find excuses. He felt that

somehow his dreams and what Scully had been

experiencing were somehow connected, but how? That was

the big question.

Shit, it was way too late at night to be going into

self-analysis and psychology. What wouldn’t he give for

a night’s uninterrupted sleep? Last night’s rest,

although short, was the most he’d had for days. There

was something about just being with Scully, she always

chased his demons away.

He must have dozed off then. Seven o’clock came, and

the smell of the technicians coffee woke him, ending

his vigil.

He’d take her back to Skinner’s and then go on home to

try to catch some sleep during the day. Somehow that

felt safer than trying to sleep in the dark. He was

going to have to try to talk to Kenny. The Kid was open

minded enough not to shoot him down in flames as he

tried to work a theory out.

ACT VI

BETHESDA SLEEP DISORDER CLINIC

Saturday, 1:15 a.m.

Kenny had insisted he come to keep Mulder company

tonight, although Mulder could see that the guy was

bushed. “Look, Kenny, much as I appreciate the show of

solidarity, you’ll be a lot more use to me tomorrow if

you’re not asleep on your feet.”

He finally persuaded Kenny to stretch out on a bench in

the hallway outside Scully’s room. Only Mulder’s

promise to wake him, should the need arise, finally

persuaded Kenny to rest.

It had been one of the longest weeks in Mulder’s life.

He spent some time in the observation booth, talking

with the technician on duty. George recounted some of

the funny and bizarre things he’d seen here while on

duty. It helped to pass the time.

Saturday night here, unlike other medical departments,

tended to be very quiet; in fact Scully was the only

one in tonight. It looked like another routine night.

The sound effects of the monitors got to be irritating,

and after a while George turned the audio off. The

visual would alert them to any thing.

By two-thirty, the technician had gone for a break,

promising to bring Mulder back a coffee when he

returned.

“Not that the coffee here is anything to write home

about, but at least it’s hot and wet, with enough

caffeine to jump-start a truck on a cold morning. A cup

of *that* in you and there’s no chance of you nodding

off.” He laughed as he left the booth.

Mulder sat on his own, watching the screens as various

CCTV cameras panned both Scully’s room and other areas

of the department. He could see Kenny asleep in the

hallway. Mulder thought he really should tell Andrews

to go to bed. The monitors were recording Scully’s

vitals, her brain wave patterns, eye movement. At least

she was getting some rest, Mulder thought enviously.

Maybe he should call it a night too. She was safe

enough here with all the hi-tech surrounding her.

He must have dropped off himself for a minute or two,

when George Hanover’s gasp woke him up.

“Jeez, she’s moved, she’s gone. Look at the printout on

that monitor! She was into an episode. Where the hell

is she?”

With that, George was flipping through all the cameras,

trying to get a fix on where she might have strayed. As

he did so, he activated the Security measures. On the

monitor, Mulder saw the room Scully had been in was now

empty. The leads that had not so long ago been

attached to her lay scattered.

“Shit!”

“Yeah, looks like we’ve got a walker…” George

continued flipping through the monitors. “There. Is

that her? Looks like someone’s just left the building

by the fire exit at the end of the hall, I can see a

shadow moving away.”

Mulder could see his young disciple still asleep on the

bench outside her room. Scully must have walked right

past him as he slept.

Mulder called Kenny on his cell phone, and grabbing his

coat, moved to get after Scully.

Kenny had gotten a head start over him as he was nearer

that exit. By the time Mulder arrived at the bench,

Andrews was already gone. Mulder stepped out of the

fire exit door onto the sidewalk into the chilly night

air. He turned and surveyed the empty streets. At

quarter to three in the morning, not much moved.

Where the hell was Kenny? And why the hell had he

himself chosen that moment to doze off, Mulder riled.

He stood for a moment looking around trying to work out

which way she might have gone. He found it hard to

believe that this could have happened. He saw a

movement to the left, someway up the street.

Was that her? He decided to chance it and broke into a

run to try to catch up with her. Should he call out to

her? He’d heard somewhere that it was dangerous to wake

up a ‘walker’ abruptly. Hopefully Kenny was somewhere

close by, and between them they could head her off.

Shit! She was going to cross the street. Scully was

moving slowly. She seemed to be oblivious to her

surroundings and to the cold. She paused for a moment

under a street lamp.

He ran hard to catch up with her, but it was as if he

was running through deep, sticky mud. Everything was

in slow motion and taken on a dreamlike quality. For a

moment he thought he might have been dreaming, and then

he prayed that he was.

Mulder knew what was going to happen even as he heard

the revving of an engine and saw the car bearing down

towards her. He knew before its headlights pinioned her

in their glare and realized that there was nothing on

this earth he could do to prevent the tragedy that was

about to unfold.

He called out a warning that was too late. Like a film

in slow motion, clip by silent clip, Scully teetered on

the edge of the sidewalk, her bare toes curling over he

curb. Then it cut to the speeding vehicle as it bore

down towards her.

“Scully! Scully, for God’s sake, STOP!”

For a split second he thought she’d heard him, thought

she’d understood. She shook her head as though coming

out of a dream. He saw her startled look, her

expression frozen in shock that was drawn in stark

relief by the unrelenting blaze of light. Her

realization, too late, of the inevitability of what was

about to happen. Then he saw the black shadow, as it

appeared to enclose her like a cloak, to propel her

forward straight into the path of the oncoming SUV.

“No, Scully! NO!”

In the beam of the headlights, he saw the terror in her

face, saw her tumbling like a rag doll; then a black

shape launched itself into the beam of light knocking

Scully out of the path of the wheels, followed by the

sounds he never forget. The squeal of brakes, the

scream, the sickening thud of soft body contacting hard

metal and the sound of splintering glass seemed to be

amplified out of all proportion, as it shattered the

quiet of the night.

Finally he was able to move, the thick cloying feeling

had gone. He raced down the street to her. His cry

distorted with anguish

“SCULLY!”

Lights flashed on in the building across the street,

faces appeared in windows.

“Scully! Oh my God! Scully.”

He was on his knees, a finger at her pulse. He was

grateful beyond measure for the telltale signs of life.

The beat against his fingertips was thready, but all he

cared about was that it was there at all. With the

stench of oil and gas rising around him, he forced

himself to look for the worst.

She lay so still as he knelt down beside her on the

asphalt, the light of the headlights accentuating her

pallor, clearly showed the small cut that marred her

temple. His fingers automatically went to tuck the

stray strand of hair behind her ear.

Short of more abrasions and contusions, his careful,

fearful search found nothing. No trails of blood warned

of cranial injury, no arteries spurted, no veins

trickled. There were no bones twisted at odd angles.

Her breathing was slow but not labored.

“Scully.” He hardly recognized the anguished whisper as

his own voice.

Mulder pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and

dialed 911.

As he covered Scully with this coat, the driver of the

SUV approached them.

“I’m sorry, God, I’m *so* sorry. I didn’t see her; she

just fell out in front of me. I tried to brake, I

swear….” He turned away gagging, only to throw up in

the gutter a few yards away from them.

To be honest, Mulder wasn’t concentrating about the

driver who’d done this to Scully, he was far too

concerned about how still she was, how pale.

“Scully, please be all right. Hold on, please, just

hold on, help’s coming. Hang on, Scully.” Tentatively

he stroked her face. He wanted so badly to hold her,

but didn’t dare move her in case he made her injuries

worse.

He heard her sob even as he wondered what he should

next.

“Mulder…?”

“Hush Scully, I’m here, it’s gonna be okay. The

ambulance is on its way. Hang on, they’ll be here in a

minute. No! Don’t move!” he gasped, as she tried to

grasp his hand. His fingers trailed across her

cheekbone.

“Gentle,” she murmured. Her gaze was blurring, her

lashes fluttering. “An angel.”

She was making no sense to him. His only thought was

that she was lapsing into confused gibberish. There was

no reason, nor time to think differently as she moaned

softly against his palm. Shock. She was shivering. He

gently pulled his coat closer around her trembling

body. “Hush, Scully, help’s coming.”

“Mulder…what happened? I saw a bright light,

falling…then something cannoned into me, pushed me

out of the way. Mulder…I felt the hand of an ang…”

Her voice shuddered on the sob.

“No, you were pushed. Right under the wheels of that SUV.

I saw it, Scully. I stood frozen, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t help

you. There was nothing I could do to stop it.”

There was a faint, weak moan from the darkness beyond

the range of the headlights. Mulder turned to

investigate and pulled his penlight out of his pocket.

The sight that his eyes beheld froze him.

“Mulder… what is it, Mulder?” He heard his partner’s

voice cut through his horror of the sight illuminated

by the faint, narrow beam of light.

“God, Kenny!”

The kid’s crumpled, bloodied body lay in a heap on the

asphalt, his arm and leg at unusual angles.

“Mulder, is he all right?”

“I don’t know, Scully, I don’t think so. Christ, what have

I done?”

He turned to see Scully struggling to sit up.

“Scully! No!”

“But I’m a …”

“Don’t move Scully please,” he begged her. “We don’t

know how badly you’re hurt.”

The sense of what he said must have overridden the

doctor instincts in her. “Take the coat Mulder, he

needs it more than I do….”

Mulder couldn’t remember when he’d prayed so hard

before in his life. Please let the paramedics be quick,

please let them both be okay.

Someone came out of the building carrying blankets.

They covered Kenny over to keep him warm.

“You okay?” a voice asked.

Mulder felt himself led back to the curb. As the

adrenaline rush dissipated, he felt his legs crumbling

beneath him. Someone made him sit down next to Scully,

pushing his head down between his knees before they

wrapped a blanket around him too. The movement made him

feel light-headed. Then reaction set in, he was shaking

like leaf. The deepening chill of shock, racked him

from head to toe.

He had to fight this, he had to be strong for them.

They needed him. He had to let their boss know what had

happened. He took his cell phone out again and dialed

Skinner’s number.

“Sir? Sir, you’d better get down here, there’s been an

accident…yeah, it’s looking pretty bad. Scully’s

hurt, but the k-kid…. I-I don’t know…no…. Gotta

go, Sir. I can hear the siren, so the paramedics are on

their way.”

Then he turned away to heave and part company with his

last meal, and some of the fear went away with it.

BETHESDA NAVAL HOSPITAL

Saturday, 4:46 a.m.

Skinner and Mulder has been pacing the hallways for the

past few hours. The doctor had taken his own sweet time

checking her out. God, how long could a set of x-rays take?

That Scully hadn’t been killed or at least severely maimed

was thanks to the hand of fate in the guise of Agent Kenneth

Andrews.

They could only presume that, somehow, in the extra few

moments head start Kenny had over Mulder, he’d circled around

and was approaching from the other side of the street. Had he not

positioned himself where he had, Scully’s injuries would have

amounted to a great deal more than grazes, contusions, sprained

ankle and slight concussion that the doctor finally confirmed she’d

suffered.

She was resting at the moment, best let her sleep the

nurse had told them. Skinner was surprised that Mulder

did not insist upon seeing his partner no matter what.

When he mentioned this to Mulder, he’d replied that at

least they knew that Scully was safe and not in pain,

“Kenny, on the other hand….” Mulder hadn’t been able

to finish.

No, their biggest worry was Kenny. In the best case

scenario he’d suffered a broken arm and leg. In the

worse…. He was still in surgery and there was nobody

there who was prepared to commit themselves to any sort

of opinion at all. Mulder wasn’t sure if that was in

spite of or because of the A.D.’s presence. No amount of

badge waving would elicit any further information. The

waiting was killing them both. Neither of them knew

what to do. In the end Skinner took matters into his

own hands.

“Come on, Mulder, let’s get some coffee into you, you

look like shit.”

“With all due respect, Sir…”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before; now move it,

Agent.”

Mulder was too tired to argue. The two of them nursed

bad hospital coffee as they sat in hard hospital chairs

waiting for word on Kenny.

MULDER’S APARTMENT

Saturday 5:32 AM

He got back to his apartment by a confused, circular

route and fell onto his couch without taking off his

coat or his shoes. The lights were on and he felt

weirdly exposed and vulnerable, but he didn’t want to

turn them off. The couch seemed to be rocking a little,

like a raft, and he kept one foot on the floor to

steady it.

Then he fell asleep and slept soundly for a couple of

hours until he was awakened by a knock on the door.

Seized with fresh panic, he fought to sit up in the

tangle of his coat, as the knocking became more

insistent. Then Mulder hear Skinner’s voice calling his

name. He momentarily lay back on the cushion, so

relieved he felt like laughing.

“Are you okay?” Skinner asked once he gained entry. Upon

seeing the younger man’s nod, the A.D. said, “Come on,

I’m driving.”

BETHESDA NAVAL HOSPITAL

Private room

Saturday, 8:29 AM

Both Mulder and Skinner knew that when hospital

authorities put you in a private room to break the news

to you, that news is usually of the worst kind. Mulder,

having seen Kenny at the site of the accident, had no

illusions about how seriously hurt his friend might

have been. Now, as they stood in the center of the

antiseptic room, they were both growing increasingly

concerned that the young agent might not survive.

Mulder was mentally preparing himself to hear the worst

when a doctor stepped in to join them.

The list of injuries was horrific. Apart from head

injuries, Kenny suffered a bad break to his femur, his

left arm, and his nose. There was also damage to his

pelvis.

“He must be the luckiest man alive,” the doctor said,

“It was touch and go for a while. It’s as though

someone up there is looking out for him.”

BETHESDA NAVAL HOSPITAL

Side room

Saturday, 9:20 AM

As Mulder sat by Scully’s bedside, he marveled on the

nature of love and friendship. They were in a

relationship, but when was the last time he’d said

those words to her and told her how much she meant to

him?

“Mulder?” Scully’s voice echoed around the small

hospital room, bringing him back to the present.

“Who else were you expecting?” Mulder tried to joke.

He went over to sit on the side of her bed and grasped

her hand in both of his, so relieved that he had her

back safe and sound. “How are you feeling partner?

You had me scared back there.”

“Don’t worry Mulder, I had *myself* scared back there.

How’s?…Is Kenny?…T-They wouldn’t tell me, Mulder.

Did-did he get through the surgery?”

“Kenny’s one tough agent, although I can’t see him ever

wanting to work with me again. He was *so* lucky.

The doctors said it was almost as if he were protected,

you know. At first they suspected skull fractures,

major internal trauma, the works.

“He looked real bad when they brought him in. He got

away with a broken arm, leg, and pelvis, as well as some

minor head injuries, which included a broken nose. His

poor nose certainly took a beating on this case. His

condition is serious, but the prognosis is good. He had

a good team working on him.”

Mulder turned her hand over in his and appeared to find

the lines on her palm extremely fascinating.

“Scully, umm…Do you remember what happened out there?

It’s just that what I think I saw and what you said

just after you got hurt, well umm…there are

differences. I was following you, Scully. I just could

never seem to catch up. I saw you poised on the edge of

that curb with the SUV coming directly towards you.

“The driver seemed to be traveling too fast, but I

found out later the poor guy was going the speed limit;

it just seemed too fast. From where I stood, you

seemed to still be a safe distance away, but then

suddenly you were covered by blackness, and I saw you

being hurtled towards the vehicle. You didn’t step out,

you were pushed with a great deal of force.”

Mulder could hardly bear to go on. The memory was too

painful. He’d stood by impotently watching his partner

face death, and he couldn’t move nor do anything to

save her.

“And then you seemed to fall backwards towards the

curb, and the next thing I see is Kenny lying badly

injured in the street. I saw it all, Scully, I just

don’t understand it.”

He felt her cover his hand with her own, gently

stroking with her thumb. He finally looked up at her.

“What happened, Scully? Do you remember? I need to

know. You said something strange back there….”

“I remember,” she began hesitantly, “seeing lights to

the left of me, and as their intensity grew, I felt

myself falling. But at the same time, I kept hearing

my name being called, yet it seemed so far away….

And then I looked up and the car was just there. I knew

that was it, that I would never see you again. It made

me feel very sad, but there didn’t seem to be any

urgency to anything, like everything was happening in

slow motion.

“Then I felt it on me. There was a bright white light

and a black shape, not horrifying like before, not evil

at all, but sort of warm and good like a gentle hand.

For a moment I thought I saw an ange_, I-I thought I

saw something. But then suddenly I felt pain as the

car slammed into me, and I was falling backwards. I

must have hit my head as I landed.

“Mulder, it was Kenny who saved my life. He saved my

life and came so close to-to losing his own.”

As Mulder pulled her into his arms and held her close,

he rested his head on her hair. He acknowledged to

himself how close again he’d been to losing her. Thank

God for Kenny. The kid was almost like a gift from

God. He couldn’t stop the self-deprecating smile.

Scully must have felt it, for she pulled away to look

up.

“Mulder? What is it?”

“I don’t know how I even entertain the thought,

Scully. Guardian angels?”

But she didn’t laugh, didn’t even smile. Perhaps that’s

where he needed to look. In a strength beyond his own.

To a source higher than Scully’s science or his logic.

To a source of faith, grace and power. But was he ready

for such a journey? Scully had invited him to join her.

The very notion was difficult for him to comprehend.

Scully had been traveling that path for a long time

now, although she was loath to admit it either to

herself or to him.

He saw it in her eyes now, heard it in her voice and

felt it in her touch. She, unlike him, had no problem

with the idea. Maybe it was this faith of hers that

protected her, them, that ultimately kept them both

safe, even in the greatest of perils. He could see

where her hope stemmed from.

“What happened to you, Mulder?” her voice was soft as

she asked him after a while.

He was silent for a moment, not wanting to revisit his

experiences of the past week for the moment. He settled

down next to her on the bed, shivering a little at the

thought. Scully pulled him back into her arms, he was

thankful that she was still here to be able to do it.

He took a long breath. “I don’t know where to start,

where to go with this. We owe Kenny a great debt,

Scully. And Skinner, he’s a better friend to us than

we’ll ever know.”

“I know that,” which surprised him.

He had to tell her, had to explain about the dreams

he’d been having, but he needed time. This was as near

as he could go at the moment.

There was a soft knock at the door and Skinner walked

in interrupting what Mulder was about to say.

“I think we need to clear up some lose ends here, Agent

Mulder.”

“What do you mean?”

“Jeff Jackson has just been in to see me. He’s been

feeling very bad about something.”

“Jeff?” Scully was puzzled.

“Yeah, something he didn’t say when he was first

interviewed. He was in shock at the time; he thought he

was hallucinating. Later he kept quiet because he

didn’t know what he’d seen or what he’d imagined. He

didn’t think it was important, but it kept niggling at

him, till he had to do something about it.”

“I don’t understand,” Scully said. “Where is this

leading?”

“It’s something that he believes he saw, believes he

felt when he came into your room.”

“The black shadow, the presence,” Mulder filled in.

“Mulder? Sir? What are you talking about?”

Mulder went on as if she hadn’t spoken. It all came

out; his nightmares, the black shape he thought he saw,

no, that he *knew* he saw during the day and when Kenny

was at his side during the night.

“It’s over, Scully. Somehow this ties in with everything

else. I don’t know how or why, but I can’t feel that

feeling of dread any longer.”

For once both Scully and Skinner didn’t refute his

theory, didn’t ask for scientific proof to back what

he’d told them.

Later, when they stopped by the precinct station, they

were both surprised to learn that Scully was now

officially off the hook. The blood on her pajamas was

not the perfect match as was thought at first, further

DNA testing had shown that the two samples were not a

match. There were no fingerprints on the assault

weapon.

Both Mulder and Skinner looked perplexed, and the

officer on duty looked extremely embarrassed and

uncomfortable as he explained that it had been a rookie

who’d run the fingerprints through the FINDER.

He apologized profusely for the mistake.

There was a ton of paperwork to fill in. The only thing

about it that made Mulder smile the was that

Skinner had more than his fair share of it to do.

EPILOGUE

BETHESDA NAVAL HOSPITAL

Side room

A week later.

All three of then came in to visit with Kenny. His

recovery rate had astounded both the doctors and his

friends alike. Although he would be out of action for a

few months yet, his predicted stay in hospital was now

down to three weeks.

Kenny could remember nothing after seeing Scully

teetering on the edge of the curb. But he *did*

remember what happened immediately before. He

remembered the wizen face of the black crone as she

appeared behind Scully.

“I must be the luckiest man alive. I still can’t

remember exactly what happened or how- maybe it’s just

as well,” Kenny confided to Mulder.

Mulder smiled when he saw Andrews blushing as Scully

placed a kiss on his cheek.

“Thank you, Kenny.” There was nothing else she could

say.

“You’re welcome, Dana. I’m glad I was there.”

Mulder came over to him and shook his good hand. “I’ll

always owe you one, pal, you know that, don’t you?

Though I’m sorry you got hurt again, you’re a good man

to have on a team, and I’m proud to have worked with

you.”

Kenny smiled as he said, “Remind me to up my insurance

if I ever work with you again, Mulder. In fact next

time, email me first, and I’ll make sure I head off in

the opposite direction. Besides, I don’t think Kerry

would ever okay another team-up.”

All of the agents remembered fondly Kenny’s long time

girlfriend. “No, I don’t suppose she would, but if

there’s ever an emergency, you just let me speak with

her, okay?” Scully assured them confidently.

Skinner spoke up. “There’s no getting away from it,

Kenny. You’re a hero. I’ve made recommendations that

your bravery be rewarded in a fitting manner. Your

contribution to this extraordinary case will be noted

in your files.” Kenny, as seen by the color of his

face, was more embarrassed then ever.

A nurse pecked at the glass.

Mulder smiled. “We’ve got to go. Guess they just don’t

respect credentials around here. They just throw you

out when the time’s up. See you later, Kid. Take care,

you hear me?”

As they went out to the car, Scully stopped and touched

the tiny cross around her neck. “Mulder, I didn’t lose

this at the club. I still had it around my neck when I

undressed that night.”

“How can you be so sure Scully?”

“Because a thread from my shirt caught in the chain and

I had a job to untangle it.”

FIN

28/07/01

Finally!!!

So. What did you think?

ewa@whatewa.com

‘I have spread my dreams under your feet;

tread softly for you tread on my dreams.’

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