Unforgettable

cover

Title: Unforgettable

Author: XScout

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Sleepless,Grotesque, Demons, Closure, VS9

episode Devil’s Advocate

Classification: X,A

Summary: Mulder has the chance to find out the truth,

and learns some things are best left alone.

Disclaimer: All characters related to the television

show ‘The X-Files’ belong to Chris Carter, Fox

Studios, and 10-13 Production. All characters related

to the Virtual Seasons of ‘The X-Files’ belong to

their respective authors. The background story and a

few lines are from the movie ‘Unforgettable’,

copyright MGM. No money was made.

Author’s Notes: Only for distribution at the Virtual

Season Nine for two weeks before posting at other

sites. Please send feedback to: Xscout@hotmail.com

******************

Unforgettable

******************

Prologue

Virginia State Correctional Facility

Tuesday

5:20 am

The loud drumming in his head drew him out of his

foggy sleep. His eyes were crusted shut and his mouth

felt like it was full of cotton. Must have been one

hell of a night; too bad he couldn’t remember what

happened. The last thing he could recall was being

taken to the infirmary for some routine medical

checkup or some such nonsense. Wouldn’t want the

inmates of purgatory to get sick, would we?

Rolling over on his cot, Arnie Bunkwater pried his

eyes open to stare out past the cell bars. The lights

were dim and he saw a shadow pass by – the stiff form

of the night guard making his rounds. That meant it

was still before dawn. The guards rarely came down

death row but twice a night. No one liked to be spend

a lot of time here, guards and inmates alike.

Leaning back into his bunk, Arnie watched the shadows

play across the cinderblock ceiling, his early

morning ritual beginning even earlier now that he was

awake. He closed his eyes and replayed that fateful

night that was both the pinnacle of his life as well

as his downfall.

It had been approximately one in the morning when he

was crouched outside her window, surrounded by

flowers, their scent strong in his nostrils. He’d

quietly slid open her window, careful not to make

even the slightest noise. A cool breeze had swept

past him, billowing the lacy curtains out towards the

girl in the bed, reaching for her as though to warn

her of his coming. He had crept over the windowsill

and across the floor, moving stealthily by the

moonlight. Just as he had reached her bedside and

stared down at her angelic face, her eyes suddenly

popped open. He never discovered what it was that had

brought her out of her dreams, but then he hadn’t

given her time to tell him. He had clamped a rough

hand against her mouth and pushed his larger body

down onto hers. Her wide blue eyes had clouded over

with fear and tears streamed from them. He had

savored her fear like a connoisseur does a fine wine,

felt her trembling body through his muscles. Then

he’d killed her. Right there in her own bed, across

from her parents’ room.

The pure pleasure he had experienced that night still

rushed through him when he thought of it. Then anger

would follow, knowing that it was his overconfidence

in his abilities that led to his capture. He had

thought of everything, leaving no fingerprints, no

semen, and no evidence as to who had once again

stolen a life out from under the nose of the little

girl’s parents as well as the FBI agents on his case.

But he hadn’t counted on the flowers crushed beneath

his boots, smashing into the crevices in the soles.

Who really thought of those things? Apparently

someone had and they had come for him. They had come

for him and thrown him in this godforsaken cell where

he had spent the last fourteen years of his life.

Appeals kept him out of the gas chamber until now and

he sometimes wondered if it was worth it.

Snorting at his own musings he leaned over and pushed

himself to his feet, moving over to the center of the

floor. Kneeling down he began to do some push-ups,

felt his muscles strain with the effort. There was an

odd burning sensation in his left arm and he pushed

harder, hoping to let the exercise work whatever it

was out. As he counted under his breath he noticed an

odd smell permeating his cell. It was sweet and

tropical, cutting through the harsh odors of the

prison.

He knew that smell.

She felt a soft breeze blow across her face, bringing

with it the heady bouquet of night-blooming jasmine.

It grew outside her room on a huge bush that crawled

up past the roof, the thick scent filling the summer

nights. Her window must be open. But she didn’t open

it. What? Opening her eyes she saw a shape looming

above her, its eyes bright pinpoints in the dark. Her

mouth formed a silent scream just before a hand

clamped over it. Struggling against the restraint,

she felt a heavy weight place itself on top of her

and the dark shape coalesced into a man. He was lying

on her now, his face a mask of glee and a hellish

light dancing in his eyes. She knew that she was

going to die. Terrified out of her mind, she writhed

against his massive body but he barely noticed her

efforts. She saw something bright glint from the

corner of her eye and her gaze flicked over to it. A

knife. Oh God. Mommy! Daddy! Please, help!! The blade

arced in a swift graceful movement and she felt

warmth spread across her throat. It took a moment for

the pain to come and when it did she almost passed

out. But her mind knew that she only had a few

seconds of life left and fought to keep every one of

them. Her lungs burst as she struggled for air,

darkness creeping along the edges of her vision. The

last thing she saw was the man’s face, pleasure and

triumph etched across it. Then everything went black.

Dr. Sycaroe smiled as he placed the lid back on the

jar. Standing just outside Arnie Bunkwater’s cell he

stared down at the lifeless form on the floor, dark

bruises forming on the inmate’s thick neck, just

under the Adam’s apple. The serum had worked

perfectly, absolutely perfectly. Turning on his heel

he walked back towards the exit, dropping the jar in

his hand into the wastebasket at the end. He pushed

the buzzer on the wall next to the door, putting on a

face of distress as the door slid open.

“Something’s wrong with Bunkwater, I need you to let

me in,” he instructed the guard who had opened the

door, his voice breathless as though he had rushed

for help.

The two men ran back down the hall, their feet

clapping on the concrete floor in their haste.

Skidding to a halt in front of cell 16-A, the guard

pulled out a mess of keys, fumbling for the correct

one. Finding it, he opened the cell and allowed the

doctor to enter first. Sycaroe knelt next to the

downed inmate and felt for a pulse.

“He’s dead.”

The guard stared in shock, wondering what could have

possibly happened. There was no sign of injury except

a thin bruise across Bunkwater’s neck. The cell had

been locked. Suicide? Harry Gibson had been a guard

for eight years and he had never seen any suicide

like this. He left the doctor in the cell and hurried

back to his station to call the warden.

He never noticed the small jar in the trashcan

labeled ‘Scent of Jasmine’.

*****************

ACT 1

FBI Headquarters

X-Files Office

9:07

Scully quickened her pace, not wanting to be any more

late than she already was. As she neared the office

door she noticed that there was no light coming from

beneath it. Mulder was usually here before she was.

Even if they spent the night together they always

made sure to arrive in different cars at separate

times. It kept rumors to a minimum. Reaching the

door, she turned the handle and let it swing open,

the hinges squealing noisily.

Oh God.

The room was dark except for a bright light

illuminating a square patch on the wall. A shiver ran

down the female agent’s spine and settled in her

stomach. It was one of her worst fears come to life

once again.

A slideshow.

“Scully! About time you got here. I’ve got something

to show you that’s going to knock your socks off!”

With a groan Scully dropped her briefcase on her desk

and slumped down in her chair. She covered her eyes

with her hands and shook her head in denial. “I

haven’t even had a cup of coffee yet, Mulder, can’t

it wait?”

“Ah, how you underestimate me, Scully.”

Suddenly a delicious aroma wafted up to her nose, the

warm steam beckoning to her. Eyes popping open,

Scully saw a large mug of rich brown coffee sitting

in front of her. Glancing up and to the right where

her partner was standing, she noticed a smug grin on

his face. She couldn’t help but return the smile as

she picked up the hot cup and sipped gratefully,

waving with her free hand to continue.

*Click*

The first slide ratcheted into place, the bright

light on the wall replaced by a washed out picture of

a prison cell. There was a body lying in the center,

easily identified as the resident of the cell by the

bright orange jumper he was wearing.

“Two days ago Arnold Everett Bunkwater was found dead

in his cell from what can only be described as

asphyxiation and a heart attack. A bruised larynx is

offered as evidence.”

*Click*

A close-up of the victim’s head was displayed across

the wall. Black and blue marks ringed the neck and

his lips had a distinctly purple tinge.

“He was found by the prison doctor, who was the only

visitor Bunkwater had that night. The fingerprints

left on the body match those in Bunkwater’s file. To

all intents and purposes it appears that Arnie, as he

was more commonly known, choked himself until he

passed out. Whether the subsequent heart attack was a

direct consequence of the choking or not is still in

question.”

“And this is an X-File because….” Scully trailed

off, her eyebrows raised.

Mulder just smiled and pressed the button in his

hand, the next slide portraying a black and white

mugshot. The subject was a big man, at least six foot

four and weighing two hundred and fifty pounds. He

had a long scar on the right side of his face and

black stubble gracing both his head and his jaw. His

beady eyes stared out from overhanging brows and just

above a crooked nose that spoke of repeated breakage.

“This handsome devil you see before you is Joshua

Crane, better know as the Mississippi Mangler. He was

found dead last week of a heart attack. An autopsy

showed that his innards had been twisted up so badly

that it was a miracle he could function at all.”

“Uh-huh. So….”

“Mississippi Mangler, Scully. You remember what he

did to his victims?” Mulder waited until realization

dawned on her face. “Yup, he disemboweled them. Does

his death seem coincidentally similar?”

“But he wasn’t disemboweled, he had a heart attack.”

“True, but the fact that his intestines looked like

they had been pulled out and then stuffed back in by

a first year medical student with one hand tied

behind their back doesn’t strike you as odd? Besides,

I’m not done.”

*Click*

“This is Max Krokoff, who back in 1996 went up and

down the West Coast raping and murdering young girls.

What do you think killed him?”

Scully studied the grainy photograph. It showed a man

lying on a concrete floor, his wide open eyes

severely bloodshot and dried blood on his upper lip.

“I would have to say an aneurysm.”

“That’s the first conclusion the ME came up with.

There was swelling of the intracranial tissue and

bleeding around the brain that could have been caused

by an aneurysm or a heavy blow to the head. Odd thing

is though, it wasn’t what killed him.”

“Let me guess, a heart attack.”

“Bingo. Now try and guess how he killed his victims.”

This time Scully’s voice was tinged with interest.

“He crushed their skulls?”

“Two for two, Scully.” Mulder walked over to the

light switch and flipped it on, then returned and

powered off the slide projector. He moved around to

sit at his desk, rifling through a mess of papers

filed on top. “I was aware of the previous deaths

through the news but the latest victim of this

mysterious heart attack hasn’t been announced to the

press yet. Jackson Plover, an old colleague from VCS

brought it to my attention early this morning and I

knew it fit with the others.”

“Why did he call you? Do they suspect someone is

systematically killing off these criminals?” A spike

of fear shot through her gut as she considered the

implications. “Do they want you to profile the

UNSUB?” Over the past several months, the VCS had

been asking far too much of the ex-profiler and

Scully didn’t think she could handle another foray

into madness.

Mulder’s tone was soft with understanding. “No,

Scully, nothing so exciting. Jackson just thought I

would like to know because I was the primary profiler

on the original investigation that put Bunkwater

behind bars. He keeps me apprised of any news

regarding the scum I helped put away during my tenure

with the ISU.”

Scully relaxed slightly, relieved by the explanation.

“So, since you believe this is an X-File, does that

mean you don’t think there is someone behind these

deaths? That some*thing* is responsible?”

Mulder grinned. “Someone is definitely behind these

deaths, of that I am certain. But the how is far more

uncertain. Psychic projection perhaps or even

vengeful spirits; I haven’t exactly come up with a

particular theory yet.”

An eyebrow raised high and disappeared beneath some

wayward strands of red. “You? No theory? That is

definitely beyond the realm of believability.”

He just gave her a dirty look. “We’re heading to

Virginia State Correctional Facility to talk with the

doctor who discovered Bunkwater’s body.” He picked up

his jacket from the back of his chair. “Let’s go.”

Scully shrugged, having learned after so many years

together that she should always be prepared for

sudden departures. She stood and grabbed her jacket

as well, pulling it on as she headed towards the door

Mulder held open for her. She paused when she reached

his side. “Mulder, you still haven’t told me how

Arnold Bunkwater’s death fits into this equation

other than the heart attack.”

A dark look crossed Mulder’s face as his thoughts

slid into the past. “He strangled seven nine year old

girls in their own bedrooms while their parents

slept.”

*************

Virginia State Correctional Facility

11:56 a.m.

Their dress shoes slapped loudly on the hard floor of

the prison hallways as they were led to the warden’s

office. Though the warden hadn’t been thrilled with

the idea of the FBI coming into his world and shaking

it up to see if anything fell out, he was complacent

enough to allow them to conduct their investigation.

He had accepted their request to speak with him just

before his break for lunch.

The guard who had shown them to the warden’s door

stopped and did an about-face that would make any

military man proud. “The warden is expecting you.”

Mulder reached over and turned the doorknob, letting

the door open and dropping him arm. He let Scully

enter first, never taking his eyes off the guard,

waiting to see if the stiff man would snap a salute

or not. He stared a moment longer before giving up

and then followed his partner into the office.

Warden Harbrook was a slender man, easily considered

underweight and his frame appeared almost scarecrow-

like in the straight edges of his freshly pressed

suit. He was seated behind a large mahogany desk,

glasses reminiscent of the sixties perched on his

nose as he went over some paperwork. The other

furniture in the office was the same dark wood as the

desk, giving the room a somber feeling, the only

accent from a cold frame surrounding a certificate

that proclaimed his authority.

Without looking up, the warden waved at two large

leather chairs in front of his desks. “Please, sit

down. I’ll be with you in just a moment.”

The agents moved into the room, automatically taking

positions that mirrored their customary places in

Skinner’s office. They sat in the oversized chairs

for several minutes until Mulder became restless and

started drumming his fingers on the arm. He heard a

quiet sigh of impatience from his partner and decided

that they had been kept waiting long enough. Opening

his mouth, he prepared to insist they get to

business.

He didn’t get the chance to utter a sound.

“Thank you for your patience, Agents, I’m afraid I

had to finish some pressing business.” Harbrook

closed a folder in front of him and set it on a

larger stack of similar files. “Now, I believe that

you have come to discuss the death of Arnold

Bunkwater?”

Mulder looked at Scully and her head inclined

infinitesimally as a signal that the floor was his.

“Thank you for seeing us on short notice, Warden.

We’ll try not to take up too much of your time and

our investigation shouldn’t hinder the operation of

the prison as long as we have your cooperation.”

Harbrook nodded sharply, his eyes glaring down his

beaky nose so that he resembled the crows Mulder had

imagined he should be scaring away. “I will allow you

access to anywhere you need to go as long as a guard

accompanies you. As a safety precaution of course.”

“Of course.” Mulder’s tone implied what he thought of

the warden’s ‘safety precaution’. “We’ll try to keep

you apprised of any developments in the case.”

“I doubt there will be any developments at all.

Bunkwater died from a heart attack, end of story. He

deserved worse and I imagine the only one upset by

his untimely death is his lawyer. But if you want to

investigate a death that should have happened years

ago, then be my guest.” Harbrook stood, signaling the

end of the meeting. He opened his office door to

reveal the marine stiff guard who had brought them

there earlier. “Guard Flores will take you where you

want to go.”

Mulder and Scully shared a glance, their minds on the

same frequency. They silently agreed to discuss their

observations later when there wasn’t an audience.

They pushed themselves out of the enormous chairs and

moved out into the hallway they had so recently

vacated. Mulder threw a contemptuous glare at the

warden before quickly striding down the hallway, not

caring whether the guard was with him or not. Scully

tossed a hasty “Thank you” at Harbrook and hurried

after her partner, the guard following at a more

dignified if not less hasty pace.

Mulder was waiting for them just around the corner

where his way down the next corridor was barred –

literally. Flores pulled a ring of keys out of his

pocket and unlocked the cell-like door. He allowed

the FBI agents to pass through and then came after,

locking the door behind him. “This way; Bunkwater was

kept in 16-A.” Flores pointed down the hallway on his

left then followed his own directions. He led the

agents to a heavy door just to the right of a guard

station. A small placard above the door identified it

as ‘Death Row’.

The guards nodded at each other and Flores and his

charges were buzzed through. Hoots and catcalls

followed them as they walked down the cellblock.

Mulder instinctively moved so that Scully was between

him and the guard, as though his body could protect

her from the leering inmates who would kill just to

touch a woman again.

“Here it is.”

Flores sure was a chatty fellow. Mulder stepped into

the open cell and looked around, trying to get a

sense of a man he had profiled more than a dozen

years ago. In his peripheral vision he saw Scully

step back to allow him to soak in the scene. She

began to question their chaperone about the night of

Arnie Bunkwater’s death.

The cell was nothing special, nothing marked it as

out of the ordinary. A bunk, a latrine, and a shelf

containing Arnie’s meager belongings. Turning in a

slow circle, he imagined the last few moments of the

convicted killer who had spent over a decade in this

room. Most likely Arnie spent his dying minutes

thinking about the girls he had taken away from their

parents forever. Mulder closed his eyes and was taken

back to the original case, pictures flashing across

his closed eyelids as his perfect memory played back

detailed scenes. Arnold Bunkwater was on the short

list of suspects, matching the profile to a tee, but

there was no evidence linking him to any of the

crimes. Until he killed Janice Lopez. That was when

Mulder noted that the flowers outside Janice’s room

had been crushed by large feet, the rich scent almost

masking the smell of death. It was then that Mulder

realized that such a powerful smell may have been

ground into the killer’s shoes. It was a long shot

but it was enough to obtain a warrant to search every

suspect’s house and examine their shoes. Mulder

wasn’t there but he’d heard that Arnie didn’t even

deny it when he was arrested, simply smiled and let

the FBI agents take him away.

Eyes popping open, Mulder turned to see Scully and

the guard watching him. “Can we speak with Dr.

Sycaroe?”

Flores nodded. “It’s his lunchtime, he’ll be in his

office.” Waiting until the agents had moved out of

the cell, Flores shut the barred door and led them

back down the row. They paused at the guard station

for a moment as they waited to be buzzed through.

“Scully, you smell that?”

Scully looked up at her partner, a question on her

face. “Smell what?”

Mulder’s head turned left and right, bobbing slightly

as he sniffed the air. “I don’t know, it smells like

flowers or potpourri or something.”

Bemusement replaced confusion. “In a prison? On death

row? Think they’re doing some arts and crafts in

their spare time?”

He gave her a reproachful look. “I know, it’s just

that… Never mind, must be my imagination, leftover

from memory.”

Scully’s eyes squinted as she tried to make sense of

his remark but was stopped from commenting on it when

the guard cleared his throat. The two agents had been

standing in the doorway for a while after it had been

buzzed open.

Mulder shook his head and slid between Scully and the

guard station, following Flores down the hallway with

a look of concentration on his face. As Scully turned

to go with them, a strange scent wafted up to her

nose, reminding her of candles that Melissa had

burned in their room when they were children.

Shrugging it off as Mulder’s influence, she proceeded

after the two men.

****************

Dr. Alan Sycaroe’s Office

12:53 p.m.

“Doctor Sycaroe, some FBI agents wish to speak with

you.”

Sycaroe’s eyes widened slightly before he ducked his

face to wipe his mouth on a cloth napkin. “Show them

in please.” He pushed back from his desk and stood as

the pair of agents walked into his office. Holding

out a hand he grasped the man’s hand first and then

the woman’s. “Please forgive the mess,” he indicated

the plate of half-eaten ham and beans before him.

“No need to apologize, Doctor, we should apologize

for interrupting your lunch. I’m Agent Scully and

this is my partner, Agent Mulder. We’d like to ask

you a few questions regarding the death of a

prisoner.”

“Yes, Arnie Bunkwater I assume. Please, have a seat.

What would you like to know?”

“I understand that you were the one to discover the

body. Can you tell us about that?”

Leaning back in his chair, Sycaroe rubbed at his chin

in thought. “Well, I had just begun my rounds-”

“It said in our report that you found him at five-

thirty in the morning, isn’t that a bit early?”

Mulder interjected.

Sycaroe shook his head. “Actually, no. This is a

large facility and the day starts early. I usually

get here at five to get things in order and then

begin my rounds. I had just performed a physical on

Bunkwater the night before and discovered an abnormal

heart condition, which I treated with conventional

methods. I wanted to see how he was doing after

treatment.”

“What kind of heart condition?” Scully sat forward in

her seat, her eyes bright with interest.

“Unusually slow heart rate. I thought it might be

indicative of deterioration of his cardiac tissues

and wanted to run some more tests. Apparently I was

too late. I found him in his cell, lying on the

ground with his hands wrapped around his throat. I

immediately contacted Harry, the guard on duty, and

he opened the cell so I could try to revive him.

After several minutes of CPR I deemed it impossible

to bring him back and called the time of death.”

“Did you notice anything odd when you went into his

cell?” Mulder asked.

Sycaroe’s eyebrows raised. “Odd? Like what?”

“A strange smell, something out of place here.”

Scully shot her partner a surprised look and so she

missed the fear that flashed across the doctor’s

face. Mulder hadn’t though.

Without waiting for an answer he stood and offered

his hand to Sycaroe. “Thank you, Doctor. We’ve taken

up enough of your time. One last thing – is

Bunkwater’s body available for an autopsy?”

The doctor stood as well, taking Mulder’s

outstretched hand and shaking it firmly. “Yes, it’s

downstairs in the morgue. I’m sorry I couldn’t give

you any more information.”

Mulder just gave him an enigmatic smile.

****************

Virginia State Correctional Facility Morgue

2:03 p.m.

It wasn’t until they were alone in the morgue that

Mulder felt it was safe to talk. Flores had fled to

the outer room when Scully made the first incision in

Bunkwater’s chest.

“Dr. Sycaroe is definitely involved.”

“Why do you say that? And what was with that question

about an odd smell?”

Mulder went on to describe to Scully how Bunkwater

had been caught all those years before and how the

smell he’d noticed earlier reminded him of the

crushed flowers on the killer’s shoes.

Now Mulder’s previous comment about ‘leftover from

memory’ made sense but it still didn’t explain his

logic. “What does that have to do with Dr. Sycaroe?”

“He is hiding something, I know it.”

“Mulder, these inmates died of heart attacks, that

much is obvious from the autopsy reports of the first

two inmates. There are ways to cause heart attacks

with the right drugs and I’m not saying that they

weren’t murdered, it’s just that there isn’t any

evidence of paranormal causes. Perhaps someone is

exacting revenge and everyone else is turning a blind

eye because the victims were convicted killers.”

“You mean Warden Harbrook?”

“You have to admit that he wasn’t exactly worried

about the idea that Bunkwater might have been

murdered. He was rather emphatic about the fact that

it should have happened a long time ago. All the

victims were on death row for years, their sentences

being prolonged by appeals. Maybe someone just

decided to cut through all the red tape.”

Mulder licked his lips, his mind processing this

idea. “Perhaps. But there is something more to this.

Those men didn’t just die of heart attacks, there was

also secondary trauma to each one that can’t be

explained.”

Scully put down her scalpel. “Do you have a theory

now?”

“I’ve got one forming but I’m going to need to do

some snooping around first. I’m going to have the

boys do a background check on the good doctor, see

what turns up. I don’t think we’re gonna need to

visit the other two prisons where the previous deaths

occurred; talking to the prison doctors should be

enough.” Flipping open his cell phone, Mulder punched

in some numbers.

Scully just nodded and turned back to her work,

letting her partner’s voice drift into the

background.

****************

ACT 2

Virginia State Correctional Facility Infirmary

4:17 p.m.

“You know who that was, Doc?”

“Hmm?”

“The FBI guy. You know who that was?”

Sycaroe shined the light into Darryl’s left eye and

the prisoner blinked.

“That was Fox Mulder. You know, Doc, the profiler who

put half of us in here. C’mon, you musta heard about

him.”

Looking up from his instruments, Dr. Sycaroe frowned

at the inmate before him. “You mean to tell me that

the agent who was just here is the one that you all

curse constantly?”

Darryl looked smug, as though his knowledge somehow

made him important. “Yup. Pretty little partner he’s

got. Wonder if they hump like bunnies?”

Ignoring the prisoner’s crude comment, Sycaroe

proceeded with his examination. “I seem to remember

someone saying that the reason he caught so many

killers was because he could think like one. Why’s

that?”

“Johnny Dunlap said that the guy killed his own

sister back when they were kids. Hid the body where

it couldn’t be found.”

“Johnny Dunlap is insane.”

“Yeah, but he didn’t make this up. He spent a couple

of years in Lorton a while back and there was this

guy there who used to work with Mulder. Bob Patterson

or something. Anyhow, the guy said that Mulder was so

good at what he did ’cause he thought like a killer,

had the experience if you know what I mean. Wouldn’t

surprise me; most cops are crooked.”

The conversation ended with the exam and when Darryl

Covington left the room he immediately forgot about

it. But Dr. Sycaroe didn’t.

*************

Mulder’s Apartment

7:25 p.m.

“Mmm-hmm, yeah, I got it,” Mulder mumbled into the

phone as he scribbled something on a piece of paper

he had scrounged off his cluttered desk.

Scully moved over from examining the lone survivor in

the fish tank to see what he had written. ‘Institute

of Neurological Studies – Dr. Hanson’ was scrawled

almost illegibly on the notepaper. It was a good

thing she had plenty of practice reading doctors’

writing or she may never have been able to make sense

of her partner’s notes through the years.

Mulder was nodding now, not the agreeing type of nod

but the one that indicates you just want the other

person to shut up so you can get on with your life.

“Yeah, Frohike I’ll tell her. No, I don’t think…

Frohike!!” Throwing a look over his shoulder at

Scully he growled something harsh into the receiver,

too low for her to hear. Finally he hung up and

flopped down on the couch with a sigh. “Sometimes I

wonder about that little mole.”

Scully raised an eyebrow, afraid to ask.

“Oh, nothing, he just sends his undying love.” The

frown that crossed Mulder’s face implied that more

was said but, knowing Frohike, was too inappropriate

to be repeated.

Dana couldn’t help the smile that emerged. “He’s got

a good heart, I hope you weren’t too hard on him.”

His own eyebrows raised in reply so she moved on.

“Well, how is the INS involved?”

For a second, confusion clouded Mulder’s eyes at the

use of an acronym that seemed out of context but soon

recognition dawned. “Dr. Sycaroe used to work for the

Institute. Spent several years there trying to

develop a drug that would improve neurological

functions in impaired patients. His partner, a Doctor

Hanson, is still there.”

“Why would Sycaroe leave such a highly regarded

position at the forefront of neurological research to

be a prison doctor?”

“Better pay?”

Scully snorted. “Not likely. Perhaps he just got too

burned out on the high level of stress to produce

results. It wouldn’t be the first time a physician

took a sabbatical in a different field.”

Pursing his lips, Mulder considered her suggestion.

“Or maybe he reached a point in his research where he

needed human subjects and was too impatient to wait

for approval. Are you sure you didn’t find anything

unusual in Bunkwater’s autopsy?”

“Nothing, just an elevated level of adrenaline and

traces of norepenephrine, which Sycaroe said he’d

given Bunkwater for his heart.” Her brows furrowed

slightly as she thought back through her findings.

Knowing that look, Mulder nudged her. “There’s

something else.”

“Well, there is one thing. As far as I can tell,

there was absolutely nothing wrong with his heart.

It’s like he suddenly had a heart attack for no

reason at all.”

“Maybe he was scared to death.”

Scully’s head drew back and she cast her partner a

puzzled look. “Why would you say that?”

“If you thought you were being choked to death, you’d

be pretty scared too,” Mulder reasoned.

Silence reigned for a moment. “Are you saying that

you think this is related to Augustus Cole, who you

claim could create vision in other people’s heads?

He’s dead and so are all the other men in his unit

whose sleep patterns were altered.”

“No, I don’t think it has anything to do with sleep

deprived soldiers but that case does prove that a

person can die from fright if he truly believes he is

dying. Psychosomatic death isn’t that far-fetched

anymore.” Pushing himself up off the couch and moving

into the kitchen, Mulder continued his line of

reasoning. “Arnie killed his victims by

strangulation. Wouldn’t it be the ultimate revenge to

have him die the same way he killed?”

Having followed her partner to the kitchen, Scully

lounged against the doorframe and watched him rummage

through the refrigerator. “It still begs the question

of who is behind this, if anyone.”

Pulling his head out of the fridge with two beers in

one hand, he flashed her a grin. “That’s why we’re

going to pay Dr. Sycaroe’s ex-partner a visit

tomorrow.” Reaching up to a cupboard above the sink,

Mulder selected a large bowl and held it out to

Scully. “Now, you make the popcorn, it’s my turn to

pick the movie.”

With a theatrical groan, Scully accepted the

proffered bowl and proceeded to make the popcorn,

shouting over her shoulder to Mulder, “Don’t you dare

pick anything with aliens in it, I’d had enough of

them to last me a lifetime!”

Laughter drifted back from the living room.

****************

Wednesday

6:11 a.m.

Feeling the blood pumping through his body and the

crisp morning air burn in his lungs was a joyous

reminder of how good it was to be healthy. After so

many trips to the hospital this past year, it had

taken Mulder a long time to gain his stamina back. He

still wasn’t back to one hundred percent but he was

determined to get there in record time. Pushing

himself a little harder, he increased his pace and

rounded the last corner that led to his apartment

building. Slowing his jog as he made it up to the

front door, he came to a stop and put his hands on

his knees, breathing deeply.

Putting out a hand to open the door, he felt a heavy

blow to the back of his head. The next thing he knew

he was on the ground, his cheek scraping against the

concrete. A deep voice growled in his ear, “Where’s

yer wallet??” The stench of alcohol wafted from his

attacker’s mouth and Mulder squirmed beneath the iron

grip pinning him to the ground. Rough hands patted

him down, presumably searching for anything of value.

A sharp pain suddenly shot up his arm from just below

his shoulder and he had to swallow a groan. Then the

pressure holding him down was gone and he could hear

feet running off into the distance.

Rolling over to lay on his back, Mulder took a moment

to regain his senses. Slowly drawing himself into a

sitting position, he used the wall to support himself

as he stood. He stared out across the lawn, looking

in all directions but there wasn’t a soul in sight,

no sign of the mugger or even a witness. Turning back

to enter his building, he muttered, “Figures. Why

me?”

Careful of the pounding in his head, he made his way

up to his apartment, unlocking the door to be greeted

by the warm rich scent of coffee. Scully’s cheerful

voice came from the kitchen. “Did you have a good

run?”

“I wouldn’t go as far as to describe it as good,” he

groused as he moved to sit gingerly at the dining

room table.

Scully appeared in the doorway with two cups of

steaming coffee in her hand, a look of worried

surprise on her face. “Mulder! What happened??”

Wiping at the blood running from the scrapes on his

cheek, he angrily answered, “Damn mugger knocked me

down and tried to steal my wallet. Good thing all I

carry with me when I jog is my ID.”

Judging from his temperament that he wasn’t seriously

injured, Scully set down the coffee in front of him

and then took his face in her hands, turning him so

she could look at the abrasion. “Did you get a good

look at him?”

“No, he got away before I had a chance. I should have

gone after him.” He flinched as she gently probed his

head for signs of trauma.

“Unarmed and with a lump the size of an egg on the

back of your head? That would have been foolhardy.

Track my finger.”

Following her commands they both went through the

well-rehearsed process of judging whether he had a

concussion or not. “Well, it looks like you came away

with nothing but a bruised face and damaged pride.”

“Don’t forget a king-sized headache.” Mulder didn’t

mention the burning in his right shoulder, assuming

it was just a bruised muscle.

“I can always take you to the hospital if you think

it’s worse,” Scully offered sweetly.

Panic flashed across Mulder’s face. “No, no, that’s

okay. I think I’ve had enough of hospitals. Let’s

just forget about it and get ready. We don’t want to

miss our appointment with Dr. Hanson.”

***************

Institute of Neurological Studies

Dr. Hanson’s Laboratory

8:57 a.m.

“Are you my nine o’clock appointment?”

Dr. Hanson was a tall reedy man with thick glasses

and shaggy hair that had to be constantly brushed out

of his eyes. His hands were constantly in motion,

reminding Scully of her partner when his mind was

racing far past that of the common man. She smiled

inwardly as she answered, “Yes. We’re Agents Scully

and Mulder with the FBI. We would like to ask you

some questions about your work and about your

previous partner.”

A pair of bushy eyebrows disappeared under the mop of

hair as he shook their hands. “Alan? Is he in some

sort of trouble?”

“Can you tell us what you two were working on while

he was here?” Mulder deflected quickly.

“We were working on enhancing the brain functions of

subjects by ‘borrowing’ neuroelectrical impulses from

others. Where you could teach something to one person

and then simply transfer it to another without having

to go through the same arduous steps. By copying the

impulses of one subject, I can put them in another

subject who was previously unable to perform the same

impulses. My original thesis of transferring

intelligence is quite simple actually, the

implications obvious for the mentally impaired or

those with learning disabilities. A child who cannot

feed or dress themselves due to neurological problems

might be ‘taught’ how to do so with a simple

injection of neuroelectrical impulses from a child

who can.”

Mulder looked at his partner for a translation. She

was staring at Dr. Hanson with a look of astonishment

on her face. “You mean you can take *memories* from

one person and put them in another?”

The doctor nodded excitedly. “To date I have made

successful transfers of neuroelectrical impulses in

lab rats. My finding shows that the rats respond more

to certain memories than to others. These would be

things like your first date, your first kiss, or your

first car accident; events or traumas in our lives

that are so powerful that they are unforgettable. In

the past 3 years I’ve…”

Mulder interrupted with something akin to suspicion,

“So you’ve really transferred memory.”

Hanson shrugged. “Well in lab rats at least. Not the

most advanced brains I admit but a good jumping off

point.”

“How?”

Hanson walked over to a small cage and pulled a gray

and black striped cat from the container. “It’s

easier if I just show you.” Next the doctor moved

over to a large table that took up a good percentage

of the room. A maze was built on top of the table,

its walls approximately a foot high and no ceiling to

allow spectators from above. Attached to one end of

the table was a small box with a sliding door that

opened into the maze. Next to this small box was a

larger one exactly like it. It was in this box that

Hanson placed the cat, petting it and making soothing

noises. In the smaller box he put a large white rat

that he had extricated from one of the many cages

along the wall of the laboratory. Then he opened the

door to the small box, allowing the rodent entrance

into the maze. After a moment he did the same for the

cat.

In an instant the cat sprang after the rat, who

squeaked in fear and bolted through the maze,

navigating the corridors at a frantic pace. Only

making one small mistake, the rat reached the end of

the maze in seconds, evading its pursuer. Hanson

scooped up the tiny animal, scratching its small

body. “Neuropeptides mediate memory storage and

retrieval in your brain. In theory a person’s

thoughts and memories are contained in the cerebral

spinal fluid but if you injected CSF you wouldn’t see

a thing because there’s no primer, no starter. I

started thinking about neuroactive drugs like

norepenephrine and adrenaline.”

Scully was nodding in understanding as the doctor

returned the rat to its cage. “Because they increase

the brain’s sensitivity during memory retrieval, so

hence, your starter.”

“Right.” He walked to a long counter and picked up a

vial from a tray containing countless others. “This

is it, my transfer formula; it’s a combination of

norepinephrine, a GABA inhibitor and a few other

things.” Drawing liquid from the vial with a large

needle, Hanson went to a different cage on the other

side of the room as the others and pulled out another

rat. With no further ado he plunged the needle into

this new rat. Mulder flinched in sympathy, rubbing

his sore arm absently.

“When injected, the brain experiences the new memory

impulses as if they were it’s own. But for these

impulses to be triggered they require outside

stimulants such as a sight or sound that’s familiar

to the other brain’s memory. This is a rat that has

never been in the maze you just saw.” Another vial

from the table was retrieved and injected with

similar efficiency as before. “This is the CSF of a

rat who is familiar with the maze. By injecting this

CSF into this rat he should be able to run this maze

perfectly. The cat is the outside stimulus, to make

the memory more vivid.” Hanson returned to the table

maze and put the rat in the small box, performing the

same demonstration as before. The FBI watched in

amazement as the rat ran the maze perfectly.

“It has an eighty percent success rate,” Hanson

beamed.

Mulder stared at the rat, safe in its enclosure at

the end of the maze. “When do you start human

trials?”

“That’s a long way off.” Hanson replaced both feline

and rodent in their respective cages.

“Why?”

“Well, there are a few complications, not to mention

about six years worth of paperwork.” The doctor

grimaced at this.

“What kind of complications?” Scully asked.

“The norepenephrine stimulates the heart. The heart

rate and blood pressure of all the rats increased and

unfortunately thirty percent of them…”

“Have heart attacks,” Mulder finished.

Hanson shrugged. ” I can’t reduce the dosage and

anything that would inhibit the side effect would

also inhibit the retrieval.”

Scully was staring at the maze as though she was

imagining the rat racing through its course once

again. She looked up, her eyes clouded with thought.

“What about nitroglycerin?”

Hanson nodded. “I’d thought of that but while it

might solve the short term problems, it would still

run the risk of long term damage to the heart.”

Mulder pinned the scientist with a sharp gaze. “And

Doctor Sycaroe was involved in all processes of the

development of this drug?”

“Yes, in fact Alan was instrumental in us reaching

this point in the experiment. It was a shame that he

left but he was so devastated by the loss of his

daughter that he was no longer interested in his

science.”

Scully could feel her partner tense from across the

room. “What happened to his daughter?”

Hanson lowered his voice, whether to show respect for

the subject or whether he felt the need to act

conspiratorially, Mulder wasn’t sure, but he listened

with great interest. “You remember that serial killer

about a year ago that was killing children up and

down the eastern seaboard? Well, Alan’s poor little

girl Leanna was one of his last victims before he was

caught. The man nearly went mad with grief. What a

shame,” he repeated with a sigh.

Scully shuddered and looked up at her partner, whose

eyes were dark with emotion. Putting a hand on his

arm, she turned to the scientist. “Thank you, Dr.

Hanson, you’ve been very helpful. I wish you luck in

your valiant endeavor.”

Hanson smiled. “No problem. If there’s anything more

I can do, feel free to call me.”

Guiding Mulder out of the laboratory, Scully let go

of him and let him sag back against the hallway.

“Mulder. Earth to Mulder.”

Shaking his head as if to clear it, Mulder flinched

as his headache flared back to life. “Hmm? What?”

“What were you just thinking right then?”

“Oh, I was thinking about Arthur Stark.”

“Who?”

“The Midnight Killer. He was the one who killed

Leanna Sycaroe. You and I were working on the

religious killings case with Kenny when they caught

him. I remember hearing about it on the news when I

had the TV on for noise. I didn’t realize she was

related to our Dr. Sycaroe.” Looking down at his

hands he murmured, “Wish there was something I could

have done.”

Scully grabbed him by the shoulders and gave him a

shake. “Mulder, don’t even think about blaming

yourself! You were a little preoccupied at the time

and another case certainly would not have gone over

well. Besides, they caught him and now he’s behind

bars where he belongs.”

“Actually, no. He was on death row with a whole slew

of appeals lined up to go but he died of a heart

attack a month and a half ago. I hadn’t included him

in my list of victims because he was a perfect

candidate for a heart attack,” he muttered, thinking

of the mug shots of an overweight man with teeth

yellowed by tobacco.

They began walking down the hallway, their dress

shoes loud on the slick floors. “I bet the parents of

those kids Stark killed were angry and hurt by the

seemingly blind justice system.”

Mulder looked pointedly down at his partner. “Angry

enough to take matters into their own hands.”

“I think we just found our motive.” Scully pushed

open the large entrance door and stepped out into the

bright sunlight, putting a hand up to her eyes.

“Now all we need is a weap- Aaaggh!!” Mulder’s

sentence was cut off by a strangled cry as he

suddenly fell to his knees, his hands flying up to

his head.

For a moment Scully was taken back several years to a

time when she and her partner had been in a similar

situation after he’d had a hole drilled in his head.

But that was too long ago to be the same thing.

Unless the recent blow to his head might have

triggered it.

“Mulder?? Mulder, can you hear me?” She knelt next to

him, putting one hand on his shoulder and the other

on the side of his face. His eyes were wide open as

though he was staring at something in utter terror.

All of a sudden he sprang to his feet. “Noooo!” he

cried out, taking a few stumbling steps before

falling back to the ground, his palms flat on the

pavement.

Scully ran to him, bending down to his level. His

breathing was ragged and perspiration spotted his

brow. Placing two fingers on his neck she felt the

thrumming of his pulse as it raced through his body.

His eyes no longer seemed to see something unearthly

but they hadn’t lost the fear that had so startled

her. “Mulder, what happened?”

Leaning back on his haunches as he took in huge gulps

of air, it took him long moments before he answered.

“I… I’m not sure, but I think I just witnessed

Samantha’s abduction.”

Scully’s brows knitted together. “You had a

flashback?”

This time Mulder’s answer was quicker in coming. “No.

Well, yes, maybe, oh I don’t know. I had a flashback,

but it wasn’t like any I’ve ever had.”

Concern was thick in her voice when Scully asked,

“What do you mean?”

“I saw Sam’s abduction as if it were through her own

eyes.”

**********

George Washington Memorial Hospital

11:21 a.m.

She lay flat against the table, her arms pinned to

her sides and her legs strapped down about a foot

apart. Above she could see a large cylindrical

machine, something sharp protruding from the end

facing her. As the machine began to move closer and

closer she struggled against her bonds, crying out

for help. Tossing her head side to side all she saw

was darkness as though the entire world had

disappeared except for the circle of light that

enveloped her.

Tears began to stream down her face as she realized

that no one was coming to help her, no one could hear

her cries.

The machine came closer and closer, the sharp drill-

like projection spinning faster and faster. Closing

her eyes as if that could somehow stop this

nightmare, she tried to think of good things, happy

thoughts that would put her in a safe place. When the

drill pierced her skin she screamed out the name of

someone she had always trusted to come to her.

“FOX!!”

“Get him out of there right now!” Scully ordered the

nurse. Spinning on her heel she ran out the door of

the control room and burst into the MRI lab where her

partner was slowly emerging from the scanner. His

body was trembling as though from fright and his

breathing was coming in harsh gasps. Occasionally a

hoarse whimper emerged from a throat raw from a

desperate cry for help.

Scully didn’t know what was going on but she was

beginning to suspect that Mulder’s devastating

flashbacks had something to do with Dr. Sycaroe and

his miracle memory drug. The how was going to have to

wait until she got a handle on Mulder’s condition.

They had arrived at the hospital about an hour ago

and met with Dr. Kurtz, who was familiar with

Mulder’s background from previous visits. Promptly

running about every test imaginable from tox screens

to x-rays, it wasn’t until the MRI scan that Mulder

had another episode. He had started to struggle

against the bonds that kept him in place during the

scan and then had suddenly called out his own name in

an anguished cry. Quickly surmising what was going

on, Scully had the operator shut down the scanner and

rushed to her partner’s side.

Pushing back damp hair from his sweaty forehead, she

murmured softly, “Mulder?” When it was apparent that

he was fairly lucid, she continued. “What happened?

What did you see?”

His Adam’s apple bobbed twice as he swallowed.

“Tests. They were performing tests on her and she

called out for me. I couldn’t save her, Scully.” This

last was uttered in despair.

“Mulder, you did everything you could to find her and

now she is in a better place. There is no need for

you to feel guilty about something you had no power

to fight against.”

“I know but before I could at least imagine that she

wasn’t so completely frightened, that the tests

weren’t too painful.” He turned bright eyes to stare

up at Scully. “But now I know she was absolutely

terrified.”

“Maybe not. If what you saw was real, then it was

simply a memory, not what she felt but what she saw.”

He was shaking his head as she spoke. “It wasn’t like

memory, it was like an experience. It makes the past

into the present as if you’re really there. I know

how scared she was.”

“But how?”

“Because *I* was terrified.”

**********

ACT 3

1:41 p.m.

“Stop fidgeting.”

“I can’t. This damn gown flaps in the back and it’s a

bit chilly in here.”

“Personally I don’t mind the flapping.”

“Scully!”

Scully chuckled at the sight of her partner clutching

at the back of his hospital gown. The sound of a door

opening interrupted their banter and they both

straightened to attention.

“I have good news,” Dr. Kurtz announced. The MRI came

back clean; there’s no sign of any kind of damage.

The blow to the head was superficial and there

appears to be only a slight swelling. The EKG came

back normal as did the tox screens.”

“What about his heart?” Scully asked, trying to find

a link to the effects Dr. Hanson had mentioned showed

up in his rats.

Kurtz checked the clipboard in his hand, leafing

through the test results. “No bruits, regular rate

and rhythm. No murmurs, rubs or extra heart sounds

and the lungs are clear. The only thing that might

point to an answer is a raised level of adrenaline.

Have you been under a lot of stress lately, Agent

Mulder?”

Mulder just grunted.

Scully pursed her lips, thinking back on the past

several months. Stress? What stress? She almost

laughed out loud at the thought. “Dr. Kurtz, Agent

Mulder has been in stressful situations before and

never had these…episodes. They seem completely

random as though it was an external stimulant that

caused them, not an internal one.”

“A trigger.”

Scully turned to look at her partner, who was staring

at her with realization dawning in his eyes. “A

trigger, something that is reminiscent of the

memories I’m flashing back to. Like a bright light or

being strapped down while a big machine hovers over

me.”

“Is there something wrong with your arm?”

Kurtz’s question caught him off guard and Mulder

actually had to look down at his own shoulder. He

hadn’t even realized he’d been rubbing it. “Not

really. It just burns a little. I think I bruised it

when I got mugged this morning.”

“Let’s have a look.” Dr. Kurtz pulled up a chair and

sat down next to the agent. Pushing up the gown

sleeve to look at the spot Mulder indicated. “Oh, one

of the nurses must have pushed the needle a tad too

far, it appears they bruised the muscle. I’ll have a

word with them about it.”

Scully nodded absently, her mind focused on the

puzzle that was starting to fall into place.

************

En Route to Mulder’s Apartment

2:35 p.m.

“Mulder, we are not going to the prison. You need to

rest and stay in a place that is familiar so there

won’t be any stimuli to trigger another episode.”

“Scully, holing up in my apartment isn’t going to

help, and sleep certainly won’t either. We have to

see Dr. Sycaroe and find out how to stop this.”

“You have no conclusive proof that he did anything.”

“Yes I do. Scully, this morning when I was mugged I

felt a sharp pain in my shoulder, like something had

stabbed me. Don’t give me that look! I didn’t tell

you because I didn’t see any obvious damage and just

figured it was a bruise.”

“Dr. Kurtz says it was an injection site and that one

of the nurses was careless.”

“He was half right. It was an injection site all

right but not from one of the nurses. I pay close

attention when people are poking me with needles, and

I remember very clearly that they never came near my

right arm with a needle. They took everything from my

left arm.”

Scully licked her lips as she considered his words.

“I’m not saying I don’t think you’ve been injected

with the memory drug, since there is a lot of

evidence pointing towards it.”

“But…”

“But if you really had been injected with the same

drug as the prisoners, then why aren’t you dead?”

“I’d thought of that. The rats had heart problems,

right? Well, they had been injected repeatedly and

their hearts are much smaller than ours, so isn’t it

conceivable that what might cause a heart attack in

them may only cause a racing heart in a human?”

Scully nodded. “I suppose, but those prisoners *did*

die from heart attacks.”

“But not from the drug,” Mulder insisted. “Think

about it. Suddenly you have a flashback to someone

trying to kill you and there is nothing you can do to

stop it because you already know that you’re going to

die. That would certainly qualify as a frightening

experience and combined with a racing heartbeat could

lead to a heart attack.”

“That’s all fine and dandy, but it still doesn’t

explain why you haven’t had a heart attack,” Scully

pointed out.

“You seem awfully stuck on the fact that I should be

dead. Something you’re trying to tell me?” Mulder

smirked evilly.

Scully frowned. “Don’t even joke about that, Mulder.

You know what I’m getting at.”

“Unlike the others, I didn’t kill the person who I’m

flashing back to. She was abducted by aliens and

experimented on, but they didn’t kill her. Add to

that the fact that I’ve spent the last thirty years

looking for her and delving into what she may have

experienced, that I’ve become sort of immune to the

horrific aspects of it. In other words, I couldn’t be

scared to death because I knew that she lived through

it.”

“But you said yourself that you were terrified,”

Scully reminded him.

“Yes, but not because I thought I was going to die. I

was experiencing the fear she felt at the time but I

was able to counter it with the knowledge that it

wasn’t going to kill me. Her. Whatever.”

clip_image001

Scully’s lips tightened into a thin line. “So you

want to confront Sycaroe and ask why he’s doing

this.”

“Oh, I know why he’s doing it. A monster took his

daughter away from him, and the justice system that

was supposed to give him peace by destroying that

monster has failed him. He’s taking justice into his

own hands and giving the killers a taste of their own

medicine so to speak. I can’t say that I blame him.”

Scully shot him a surprised look.

“I’m not saying he’s right to do what he’s doing, but

it doesn’t mean I don’t agree with him.”

They drove on in silence for a while. When the exit

came up that would take them to the prison instead of

Mulder’s apartment, Scully took it. “Mulder, why

would Sycaroe think your sister’s memories would kill

you?”

“It’s not that I’m wondering about. What I want to

know is *where* he got Sam’s memories.”

**************

Virginia State Correctional Facility

3:24 p.m.

Without waiting for Harbrook’s permission, the two

FBI agents went straight to Sycaroe’s office,

ignoring the guards’ protests with a wave of their

badges. Not finding the doctor there, they moved on

to the infirmary.

In the middle of giving an inmate his yearly exam,

Dr. Sycaroe was unprepared for an interruption.

“Dr. Sycaroe?”

“Yes, what is it?” he asked impatiently, no even

looking up from the chart he was busily writing on.

“Dr. Sycaroe, might we have a word with you.” It

wasn’t a question.

Finally raising his head to see what impudent guard

was bothering him, Sycaroe was surprised to find two

federal agents staring back at him. Despite the fact

that one of them was supposed to be dead, he hadn’t

planned on seeing either of them ever again.

“Oh, um, yes, certainly. Let me just finish up with

Mr. Dumas here and I’ll be right with you.”

Mulder and Scully stood patiently, never letting the

doctor out of their sight. He finished examining the

inmate named Dumas, jotted down a few more notes and

sent the man on his way. It was then that he turned

to the pair of agents and cleared his throat. “All

right, now, what did you want to speak with me

about?”

“Perhaps we should discuss it in a more private

location?” Scully suggested.

“How about my office?” Sycaroe held out a hand and

gestured to the door.

“Lead the way.” There was no way that Mulder was

going to turn his back on this man.

Sycaroe nodded, his face expressionless. “Certainly.”

The trio filed down the hallways, eerily absent of

other people. If Mulder was a superstitious man, he

might have felt as though the prison itself was

conspiring against them. Which meant that Mulder did

indeed feel as though there were unseen eyes watching

them.

Reaching the doctor’s office, Sycaroe entered first,

moving to sit at his desk. Folding his hands on the

wooden surface, he waited expectantly.

Mulder decided to get straight to the point. “Dr.

Sycaroe, we know that you’re responsible for the

death of at least four inmates.”

Instead of surprise or remorse, the doctor simply

raised his eyebrows and cocked his head as though he

was confused. “And how do you believe that I killed

them?”

Scully spoke up. “With an experimental drug you and

your partner Dr. Hanson developed at INS. You

implanted the inmates with memories from their

victims and they died because of it.”

Sycaroe neither confirmed nor denied the accusation.

“Why should you care whether or not someone killed

them? Those men were monsters who deserved much worse

than they got. They were all on death row, why would

it matter *when* they die?”

Mulder spoke in a low and soothing tone. “I know what

it is like to lose a loved one, Dr. Sycaroe. The

anger at the person who took them away, the need to

bring swift justice with your own hand. But this

isn’t the way.”

“You?? You lost someone? Ha! I know all about your

sister, Agent Mulder. About how you killed her and

buried her somewhere she’d never be found. You think

that no one knows? Well, they do! Your own peers have

betrayed you to me! It takes a killer to catch a

killer, Agent Mulder.” Sycaroe’s voice had grown in

intensity as his rage increased. Suddenly he sprang

from his seat and started pacing back and forth

behind his desk.

Neither agent moved to stop him, knowing that the man

was lost in his own mind, words pouring out of his

mouth without conscious thought. It was a confession

they were waiting for. The only movement taken was by

Scully, who placed a hand on Mulder’s arm when

Sycaroe accused him of killing his sister. She knew

it was still a tear in her partner’s heart and she

offered what small comfort she could.

“Arthur Stark killed my little girl! He killed my

precious baby, the only person I had left who meant

anything to me! All I had left was my anger and my

work, my research and my vengeance. The longer I

waited for justice the more I realized it was futile;

there is no justice. I wanted that monster to know

exactly how my Leanna felt when he killed her and if

felt so good to see the fear in his eyes when he knew

that he was going to die. But why stop there? Why not

let all the other baby butchers die by their own

hands??”

“No matter how many of them you bring to your form of

justice the pain will not go away. I spent almost

thirty years searching for answers about my sister

and when I finally discovered the truth I felt as

empty as ever. Nothing will bring her back.” Mulder

held out his hands as if to appease the tortured soul

he saw before him.

Confusion warred with anger and a flash of doubt

crossed Sycaroe’s face. “NO!!” he screamed, his hand

lashing out at the closest thing to him, which

happened to be a tall lamp near the window. The lamp

crashed through the glass, sending shards out onto

the yards below and shafts of light streamed into the

room.

The loud noise and sudden burst of light may have

been simply the shattering of a prison window but for

one occupant of the room it was a window into the

past.

She couldn’t move as the light enveloped her, holding

her body aloft. The only part of her that still

seemed to obey her mind was her voice, crying out for

her brother. She could see Fox scrambling across the

room towards the large bookcase where Daddy kept the

old books they weren’t allowed to touch. He climbed

up on a chair and reached for a small lock box on top

of the bookcase. His fingers barely brushed it but it

was enough to send the box careening off onto the

floor, spilling its contents over the carpeting.

She watched her brother pick up the gun that had been

hidden in the box; her mind dimly wondering how he

knew it was there. He pointed the gun into the light

and the clicking of the trigger was heard over the

droning noise that permeated everything. He called

out to her with such desperation that she knew there

was no hope.

“Help me, Fox!”

Sycaroe watched as Mulder fell to his knees, and his

hands moved up to his face as a flashback overcame

him. He trembled and shook as though experiencing

some sort of seizure. Scully was next to him in

seconds, one hand on his arm, the other on his back.

“Mulder, can you hear me?”

There was no response, but he did lower his hands to

reveal wide eyes staring into nothingness. Suddenly

his arms stretched out as though reaching for someone

and he cried, “Help me, Fox!”

Mulder doubled over, one hand braced against the

floor, the other moving up to be placed on his chest

as he sucked in deep breaths. Harsh words were pushed

out between each gasp and Scully had to listen hard

to understand them.

“I tried, I tried so hard and I couldn’t save her.

There was nothing I could do.”

“Shh, it’s okay.” Scully’s hand moved in circular

motions on his back, trying to calm him. “Take it

easy, long and slow breaths.”

Sycaroe, seemingly forgotten in the corner of his

office brought back reality with a strangled sob.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, I thought you… I almost

killed an innocent person. I would have been no

better than the monsters I loathe. I’ve become that

which I despise.”

Mulder and Scully looked up to see Sycaroe shaking

his head in disbelief. “No,” Mulder said hoarsely.

Coughing once to clear his throat he stood up with

Scully’s support. “No, you are not like them, because

you did what you thought was needed to uphold your

value of life. Those men cared not for whose life

they destroyed or what kind of grief their actions

brought.”

Sycaroe appeared to be slowly accepting Mulder’s

words, his gaze intense upon the agent’s face. “I

didn’t know what to do, I was so angry. I had the

means to bring to those men the same fear that they

had wrought upon others. Power without knowledge is

dangerous.”

“How did you get admittance into the prisons where

the other inmates were held?” Scully asked.

“With documentation provided by the Warden, I was

able to enter the other prisons and inject the

prisoners under the pretense of doing blood tests so

transfusions would be easily procured between

facilities.”

“Harbrook? You mean Warden Harbrook is involved?”

Sycaroe opened his mouth to reply but his answer was

drowned out by a gunshot. The doctor fell to the

floor with blood pouring from a hole in his chest,

his dead eyes wide with shock.

The agents turned to see the Warden standing in the

doorway, a smoking gun in his hand. At the moment the

weapon was currently pointed directly at them. “Damn

doctor never could quit his whining. Too bad, his was

a most promising intellect.”

“You’ll never get away with this,” Mulder protested.

Peals of laughter poured from Harbrook’s lips. “How

cliché, Agent Mulder, and how naïve. Imagine my

horror when I arrived moments after I heard several

gunshots to find that Dr. Sycaroe had killed two FBI

agents and then shot himself, because he could no

longer live with the death of his daughter.”

“And you, with Sycaroe’s drug, will be free to

administer your version of justice to anyone you

believe deserves it. How far will you go? How long

will it take before you decide that your neighbor

complains too much and needs to be taught a lesson?

Or a woman turns down your advances and you want to

punish her for dealing a blow to your manhood?”

“It doesn’t matter. No one will ever know, because

all the deaths will look like heart attacks. Too bad

yours won’t be as clean.” Harbrook raised the gun and

leveled it at Mulder’s head.

*Bang*

A shot echoed down the hallways and Harbrook fell

forward, a bullet in his shoulder. Scully lunged

forward and scooped up the gun that had fallen from

the warden’s grasp. Mulder moved just as quickly,

pulling the man’s hands behind him and cuffing them

securely. His phone was out moments later, calling

for an ambulance and the police. He nodded to the

figure in the doorway, who was holstering his own

weapon.

Scully stood, holding out Harbrook’s gun. “Thank

you.”

Guard Flores inclined his head in a solemn bow.

“Don’t mention it.”

*************

Epilogue

Federal Bureau of Investigation

X-Files Office

Thursday

10:27 a.m.

“Frohike, I swear, if you say one more word…” The

threatening tone in Mulder’s voice was enough to warn

Scully that the Lone Gunman was once again professing

his undying love for her. Ah, one of the few

constants in life.

“Well, what did he have to say?” she asked when

Mulder hung up the phone.

Pursing his lips, Mulder leaned back in his chair.

“You’ll never guess who funded Sycaroe’s work; our

favorite cover pharmaceutical company, Roush.”

Scully perched herself on the edge of Mulder’s desk

and handed him a steaming cup of coffee. “I suppose

that explains where he got your sister’s DNA.”

“I guess.”

“Had any more flashbacks since last night?”

“No. Hanson did say they would fade as the drug left

my system.”

After arresting Warden Harbrook for murder and

accomplice to four other counts of murder, the agents

had gone to see Dr. Hanson for answers regarding

Mulder’s condition. The doctor, while saddened by the

death of his ex-partner, was thrilled to know that

the drug was effective in humans. He’d explained to

them that the drug would be gone in a few more hours,

whether absorbed by his body or expelled through his

waste.

“Something good did come from this whole fiasco.”

Scully raised an eyebrow.

When I had that flashback in Sycaroe’s office

yesterday, I felt what Sam felt when she was being

abducted. She was so scared and she wanted me to help

her. I couldn’t.”

Lowering her hand to take his in her own, Scully

murmured, “Mulder…”

“I couldn’t help her, but she didn’t blame me for

that.”

Scully cocked her head in an unspoken request for an

explanation.

Mulder leaned forward in his chair and looked up into

his partner’s eyes. “All these years I’ve blamed

myself, so sure that she must have blamed me as well

for not being able to save her. But now I know that

she didn’t. She never once thought that I had given

up on her and let her go.”

Ducking her head, Scully placed a tender kiss on

Mulder’s forehead, moving to his lips. “She didn’t

blame you because she loved you. Never forget that

she loved you, Mulder.”

A soft smile played across Mulder’s lips. “That was

Sam for you. She was unforgettable.”

*********

End

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