Little Girl Lost

cover

Keywords: psychological suspense; east coast (specifically

the Rhode Island area); five days? CSM’s manipulation of

Mulder, the mythology as it relates to Samantha’s abduction

and what happened in Closure; a mentally unbalanced

psychiatrist; Scully and Mulder at odds in their

relationship; Mulder is drugged, then injured in the woods.

Brief appearance by Skinner.

Title: Little Girl Lost

Author: Agent L

Category: X-file, MT

Rating: PG?

Spoilers: Closure, Little Green Men, minor references to

Demons, Talitha Cumi, One Son

Summary: The cigarette-smoking man plays a new game with

Mulder. What if Samantha isn’t dead?

Archive: IMTP for the first two weeks, then please contact

the author.

Disclaimer: Sadly, 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. Dr. Peterson, Dr.

Williams, and other unrecognized characters belong

to the author.

Author’s Notes: Thanks to Vickie and Dawn for telling me I

could, and to Marlen for the beta.

Feedback: Yes, please! LHoward388@aol.com

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Little Girl Lost

Teaser

“Sir? You asked for me?” The man in a dark suit stood at

attention in front of the desk, but his eyes were bored,

disrespectful.

No one had passion anymore.

CGB Spender took a deep drag off his cigarette and picked

up a photograph on the corner of his desk. The plain silver

frame surrounded a picture of a young boy and girl. Then he

stared at his minion for a few moments as he blew out a

slow cloud of smoke, waiting until the man’s eyes began to

water and he choked back a cough.

It was all about control. He had so little control these

days. Even his own body was betraying him by succumbing

to disease.

“Sit down. Let me tell you a story.”

The man recognized it as an order, not an invitation, and

took a seat.

“Once upon a time, a Hero set off on a quest. Full of noble

intentions and holding the flaming sword of justice, he

swore to light the darkness, to expose the truth … All those

same deadly dull notions of heroes throughout the centuries.

But our Hero had no dragons to slay, no villagers to save.

His crusade was to convince the peasants of the existence

of extra-terrestrial life.

“You see, our Hero had been blessed — or cursed — with a

vision. No angelic visitation bathed in white light and

soft voices, but a glimpse into hell. His little sister,

snatched away by an anonymous presence, as he stood by,

helpless.

“She became his quest, his holy grail, his consuming

passion … once upon a time.

“Now he’s lost his way. He’s become complacent. He seeks

comfort, not truth; he seeks love, not answers. My son has

lost his passion.”

He leaned back in his chair, remembering the old days, the

intricate chess matches between them, the heady joy of

those competitions. Perhaps he could regain some of the

power he’d once had, even as his physical body continued

to weaken.

“Sir?” The man finally broke the silence, no doubt completely

baffled at the story he’d just heard, but obediently awaiting

his next order. This man was no hero, never would be.

But he could still serve a useful function as one of the pawns

in this new game.

“Bring in one of the lost girls.”

Act 1

Hoover Building

Washington, D.C.

Five days later

“You wanted to see me, sir?” Agent Scully hesitated at the

door, and Assistant Director Skinner waved her in. She was

a bit nervous, having been expressly requested to arrive

without her partner. Generally any reprimands were directed

at both of them, and the powers-that-be had long since

given up on private meetings to encourage her to rein

Mulder in, finally realizing that it was like trying to lasso

a bull with dental floss.

She took a seat as he finished up some paperwork, noticing

that no one else was in the room. That was a good sign.

Then he looked up at her with a frown. That was a bad sign.

“Agent Scully, I’ve received some rather disturbing news

and I wanted to talk to you before involving Agent Mulder.

These hospital admission forms were faxed to me by an

anonymous source.” He slid the papers across the desk.

She squinted at the fuzzy fax copy, then her startled gaze

flew to Skinner, who gave a brief nod. “I had the same

reaction.”

“But there are probably dozens, if not hundreds of Samantha

Mulders,” Scully said, trying to convince herself as much

as him. She glanced down at the paper again to see who was

marked as next of kin and looked back up at Skinner, the

color draining from her face. “Teena Mulder? This is

impossible.”

“That’s what I thought at first, but look at her medical history.”

Scully skimmed through the form. “She claims to be an alien

abductee.”

“And they found her in Quana … Quono … in the area

where the Mulder summer house is.” He stood up and walked

over to the window. “Look, Scully, I’m sure this is just

some weird coincidence, but once the hospital starts

investigating, it’s only a matter of time before they

contact Mulder. Do you want me to talk to him?”

Scully shook her head. “No. Let me do some checking

first. As you say, it’s probably nothing, and I don’t want

to open old wounds without cause.”

“Are you sure?”

She nodded. “He doesn’t need to know. Not yet.”

________________

Mercy Hospital

Newport, Rhode Island

The young woman in the hospital bed submitted impatiently

to the nurse’s routine check of her vital signs, twisting a

strand of her shoulder-length, dark brown hair. She winced

as the nurse applied ointment to several cuts and scrapes

on her face and arms, but did not speak until the process

was finished.

“When can I get out of here?” she asked, as the nurse made

some notes on a chart. “I really feel fine.”

The woman gave her a brief, professional smile. “You’ll

have to ask the doctor.”

“Well, where is –” She found herself talking to the

nurse’s back as she hurried out the door. Deciding to take

matters into her own hands, she slid out of bed, hesitating

only briefly to allow a wave of dizziness to pass before

she opened the small closet. It was empty. They had taken

her clothes, probably her money. She had to call someone

to come get her. Her mother. Mom would come and

take her home. But for some reason she couldn’t remember

the phone number, and trying to recall the information

just made her head start to ache.

She sank back to the bed just as a blonde woman in

wire-rimmed glasses and a blue lab coat came into the

room, carrying a bundle of clothing. The woman sat

down and laid a pair of artfully faded jeans and a gray

sweatshirt that said Property of Yale Athletic Department

at the foot of the bed.

“I think we’re about the same size.” Seeing the question

in the patient’s eyes, she added, “Your other clothes

were in no shape to wear. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Who the hell are you?”

If the woman was offended, she didn’t show it. Smiling as

if they had been introduced at a tea party, she stood up

and held out her hand. “I’m Dr. Peterson. You can call me

Kate if you want.”

“So when can I get out of here, doctor?” Ignoring the

outstretched hand, she shrugged into the sweatshirt and

pulled on the jeans. The clothes were a little baggy, but

clean, and most importantly, didn’t leave her ass hanging

out for the world to see.

Dr. Peterson frowned a little and sat down. “Physically,

you seem to be fine, Samantha, but we’re concerned about

some things you told us when you were admitted. Do

you remember what what you said? How you came to be

here?”

“I fell.” She hoped it sounded more like a statement than

a question, but she could only recall fuzzy images of pain

and voices shouting before she had awakened in the

hospital room.

“Do you remember how you fell?”

“What does that matter? I’m okay now, right? No broken

bones, a few cuts and bruises, nothing I haven’t had

before.” She perched on the edge of the bed, ready for

fight or flight.

The doctor moved between her and the door, looking like

a cat that had just discovered a fresh bowl of cream. “You’ve

been injured before? Would you like to tell me about that?”

“Umm … No, I don’t think so. What kind of doctor are you,

anyway? Shouldn’t you be checking my pulse, taking my

temperature?”

Dr. Peterson shook her head with an indulgent smile. “I’m

not that kind of doctor. I’m more interested in your mental

health, Samantha.”

She tried a carefree laugh, but it came out as a harsh

giggle. “What, because I don’t remember some stupid fall?”

“No. Because you claimed to be an alien abductee when you

were brought here, and because the last official record we

have of you is that you disappeared from your home when you

were eight years old. And I have some sad news for you,

Samantha. Your mother passed away a few years ago. But

we’ve located your current next of kin. Your brother, Fox,

is on his way right now.”

______________

Route 138

South of Providence, Rhode Island

For a few weeks after his sister had disappeared, Mulder had

played a game, walking home from school. If he saw two red

cars in a row, she would be home in two days. If he saw a

license plate with his initials, she would be waiting for

him when he walked through the door. And now, more than 20

years later, driving along Route 138 into Newport, not so

far from where he’d begun this journey, he found himself

doing the same thing.

It was ridiculous — not only the game, but the whole

notion that this person could be his sister. Samantha

was dead.

A few years ago, he’d stood in a starlit field and put his

arms around her in both a welcome and a goodbye, convinced

that he now knew what had happened to her and they could

both be at peace. Even though he’d never found a body, had

no solid evidence, and the theory of walk-ins was about as

widely accepted as the idea of extraterrestrial life, he had

felt free of the guilt and sorrow that had haunted him since

unlocking the repressed memories of his sister’s abduction.

There were still occasional nightmares and regrets, but he

had believed his search was finally over. Now an anonymous

voice on the phone had shaken that belief, raised some

disturbing questions. Had he simply abandoned the search

because it had become too hard and he was too tired?

Had that vision in the field been a product of his emotional

and physical exhaustion, summoned up by his longing

for some kind of peace of mind?

Could she ever forgive him if he had given up on her?

He knew he would never forgive himself.

He had considered calling Scully, but decided to

investigate on his own first. She’d always had her doubts

about his version of Samantha’s disappearance, although to

give her credit, she’d kept them to herself most of the

time. He suspected she hadn’t fully believed the theory of

walk-ins, either, but had grasped — as he had — at an

idea that would give them both some closure. He knew

that part of the reason their relationship had grown so

much over the past two years was that his sister’s ghost no

longer stood between them, and he saw no reason to raise

the issue again unless it was absolutely necessary.

He arrived at the hospital and stopped at the admitting

desk, asking for Samantha Mulder’s room.

“Mr. Mulder?” A tall, distinguished looking man with thick

white hair and a stethoscope draped around his neck

approached. “I’m Dr. Williams, head of the ER. I’d like to

talk to you before you visit your sister.”

“There’s still some question as to whether or not she *is*

my sister,” Mulder replied as they began walking down the

hall.

“That’s what I want to talk to you about. I’ve asked Dr.

Katherine Peterson, our visiting psychiatrist, to join us.

She’s replacing Dr. James, who’s on sabbatical.”

He opened the door to his office, a spartan room with a

large, antique desk taking up most of the room. Bookshelves

lined one wall, along with the requisite diplomas and

awards professionals loved to display. A photo of the

doctor with his wife and three children sat on the corner

of the desk, overlooking piles of papers, journals, and

folders.

“Sorry about the mess,” the doctor smiled as he sat down,

gesturing for Mulder to do the same. He picked up a file

off the top of one of the stacks. “Samantha was brought in

two nights ago, suffering from mild exposure and some

superficial cuts and bruises. She was found unconscious by

the highway near Quonochontaug, where I’m told your family

has a cabin … ?”

Mulder nodded. “Did she have any ID?”

The doctor shook his head. “No. When she regained

consciousness she told us she was Samantha and supplied the

information for the admission forms. Although admittedly,

the home address and phone number she gave us for herself

are fake, she did give your mother’s name as next of kin.

That’s how we located you.”

“So basically, all you have is her word that she’s Samantha

Mulder? Look, Dr. Williams, I appreciate your contacting me,

but I don’t think this person is my sister.” Mulder stood up

and started toward the door, nearly running into the blonde

woman who was just stepping in.

“Mr. Mulder? I’m Dr. Kate Peterson. Would you mind spending

just a few more minutes with us?”

Mulder hesitated. He didn’t want to waste any more of his

time on what obviously seemed to be some kind of hoax, but

despite his frustration, he was interested in what kind of game

was going on and whether his “sister” was a willing player.

He sat back down and Dr. Peterson took a seat next to him.

“I’m sure Dr. Williams has filled you in on Samantha’s

physical condition. We’re concerned about her mental state

as well, however. I understand you have some experience

with alien abduction cases?”

“A little.”

“When she was brought in, Samantha kept referring to ‘they’

and ‘them,’ that they had taken her, performed tests. She

spoke of a bright light and being unable to move or speak.

She’s also exhibiting some signs of paranoia. The injuries do

seem to be from some kind of accident — we found no sign

of recent physical or sexual abuse — but she has no memory

of what led to the injuries, and in fact is now denying what she

originally told us.”

Mulder nodded. “That’s a fairly standard scenario. Many

abductees will recant their stories later for fear of

appearing delusional.”

“Your sister originally disappeared in 1973?”

“Yes.”

“There was never any contact with her after that, no clue

to what had happened?”

A bridge. An impossible choice. Two bodies falling in the

water.

A small diner. Tears streaming down her face as she pulled

her hand away.

“No.”

Dr. Peterson glanced at her notes. “What about your own

past claims that your sister was abducted, Mr. Mulder?”

she asked quietly. Dr. Williams appeared startled.

Mulder stood up, his limited patience fading. “If you’re

asking me if I believe in extraterrestrial life and alien

abductions, I do, Dr. Peterson. But I also believe that my

sister is dead. This woman is either under some kind of

delusion or part of an elaborate hoax. Now if we’re through

here, I’d like to see her so we can settle this.”

The two doctors exchanged glances. “Very well,” said Dr.

Williams. They escorted Mulder down the hall to Samantha’s

room. When they opened the door, the room was empty.

“I guess she’s been abducted again,” Mulder commented.

At that moment, two orderlies came toward them, a thin,

dark-haired girl between them wearing a baggy t-shirt

and jeans.

“I wasn’t trying to escape,” she argued. “I just wanted a

cigarette. Come on, guys, have a heart.”

Mulder stared at her. He’d been expecting a young woman

with light brown curls and a fragile appearance — the one who

had been presented to him as Samantha over the years. They

had apparently realized that he no longer believed she was

his sister, and he gave them credit for bringing in a new face,

even as he wondered if her participation was voluntary or

coerced. Her injuries appeared to be real enough, and she

had convinced the doctors. But he was sure the script hadn’t

been altered too much. Now she would look at him, there

would be a moment of recognition, and then her eyes would fill

with tears and she would say …

“Who are you? Another shrink?”

No tears, not even that much interest in him, just suspicion.

Without waiting for a reply, she turned her attention to the two

doctors, arguing her case for the benefits of just one tiny

cigarette now and then. Mulder felt a tug of curiosity at this

new twist in the old game.

“Samantha,” Dr. Peterson said gently. “Don’t you recognize

this man?”

When she looked at him again, he noticed that a little of the

bravado slipped. She knew she was being tested, that her

next move, her next words, were of great interest to the three

people watching.

Then her eyes rolled back in her head and she slid to the

floor.

The two orderlies were still nearby, so they lifted her

into the bed. Dr. Williams checked her pulse and her

reflexes and determined that she’d just over-exerted

herself. Moments later her eyes fluttered open and she sat

up. Dr. Peterson gave her a glass of water as Mulder looked

on.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured. “It was just such a shock …

You’re my brother, aren’t you? Fox Mulder.”

Mulder nodded, not moving from his position in one corner

of the room, but looking over at Dr. Peterson. “Could we

have a few moments alone?”

Dr. Peterson glanced at Dr. Williams, who nodded, and they

left the room.

Mulder walked over to the bed. “Nice job. But next time

don’t put your hand out to break your fall at the last moment.”

She pouted at him. “So what are you, a cop or something?”

“FBI.”

“Shit.”

“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do, Samantha.” He sat

down on the edge of the bed. “Beginning with who you really

are.”

To her credit, she met his gaze head-on. “I’m Samantha

Mulder. My mother’s name is Teena, my father’s name is

Bill. He works in the government. You’re my older brother

Fox. We lived in Chilmark, Massachusetts.”

He applauded politely. “Very nice. But anyone with some

persistence and a computer could have found that out. How

about the name of your grade school?”

She hesitated.

“Your best friend?”

She closed her eyes for a moment and bit her lip, then smiled

at him triumphantly. “Sheila. No, Shelly. Sheri?” She slumped

back against the pillow. “I’m not sure.”

He was a little disappointed by her lack of information. Either

they were getting lazy or she hadn’t done her homework.

With a pointed glance at his watch, he stood. “Well, this has

been interesting. “Give me a call if anything else comes back

to you.” He started toward the door.

“Buddy,” came the shaky voice from behind him. “I had a

teddy bear named Buddy. You used to hide him from me.”

Mulder stopped abruptly. He hadn’t thought about that stupid

bear for years. No one would have known about Buddy

except his own family.

“What else?” he asked, without turning around.

“Mom grew flowers, she loved tea roses. I could smell them

from my bedroom. We had peanut butter sandwiches every

day in the summer. You liked yours with tomato.”

He turned around, shaken by the tearful revelations.

“Who are you?” he whispered.

Before she could answer, a new voice interrupted them.

“Mulder? What are you doing here?”

Scully stood in the doorway.

Act 2

Mulder walked over to her. “The hospital called me. What

are *you* doing here, Scully?”

She hesitated only a moment before confessing.

“Skinner received an anonymous tip that a woman claiming to

be Samantha Mulder had been brought to this hospital.”

“So you took it upon yourself to investigate?” He folded

his arms and leaned back against the wall in a deceptively

casual stance. “When were you two planning to let me in on

this little secret?”

Scully sighed. “Mulder, it’s not a secret. I just didn’t

think you needed to be involved until we knew more.”

“That decision wasn’t yours to make, Scully. This is about

me … about my family.”

Scully glanced past him at Samantha, who was watching them

curiously, and lowered her voice. “Are you telling me that

you think this woman is your sister?”

“I’m telling you to let me handle this.”

“Fine. But at least let me talk to Skinner and have the

investigation opened as an official case. Then you’ll have

access to the Bureau’s resources.” She turned and started

to walk away.

“Scully, where are you going?”

She stopped. “Back to DC.”

“There’s a fax machine at the hotel.” At her puzzled

glance, he smiled. “I didn’t say I wanted to handle this

*alone*. Besides, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

“It’s about damn time.” Samantha sat up in bed as Scully

and Mulder approached, looking from one to the other.

“Lovers’ quarrel?” she grinned.

“Professional disagreement,” Mulder grinned back. “This is

my partner, Agent Dana Scully.”

Scully extended her hand with a polite smile. “How are you

feeling?”

Samantha shrugged. “Fine. I wish they’d just let me go

home. But Dr. Peterson is worried that I’m some kind of

psych case because I can’t remember how I got hurt, so

they’re going to do some more tests.”

“Where’s home?” Scully asked casually, taking a seat next

to the bed as Mulder hovered on the other side.

She opened her mouth, then hesitated, a panicked expression

crossing her face. “I – I don’t remember. There must be an

address on my driver’s license or something….” Her eyes

went to Mulder, seeking help.

“You didn’t have any ID when they found you.” He gave her

a smile and squeezed her shoulder. “It’s okay, Sam. It’ll

come back to you.”

“What *is* the last thing you remember?” Scully pressed,

ignoring her partner’s warning glance.

Samantha closed her eyes and took a deep breath. For a few

moments the room was silent. Then she whispered, “It was

dark … Night. There’s a bright light in my eyes —

someone’s grabbing me –” She opened her eyes, reaching for

Mulder’s hand. “What happened to me, Fox?”

“We’re going to find out,” he murmured. The reassuring

smile disappeared when he looked at Scully. “Agent Scully,

may I speak with you in the hallway?”

They left the room and walked down to the small waiting

area.

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“What the hell was that about?” Mulder demanded, startling

an older man who’d been dozing over a magazine.

“I’m trying to find out who this woman is,” Scully replied.

“Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing here?”

“By treating her like a suspect?”

“Yes, until I know more about her. Mulder, you don’t know

who sent Skinner that fax or what kind of games this woman

might be playing. We both know amnesia can be used as a

convenient cover story.”

“But she remembers things, Scully. Things only Samantha

could know.”

Scully sighed. “I just want more proof than a few scraps of

memory that may be no more than lucky guesses or careful

research. Don’t you?”

He gnawed on his lower lip for a moment, unwilling to

concede the point, then finally muttered, “Yes.”

She hid her smile at his pout. “Why don’t I go see if I can

find Dr. Williams and have a look at the medical

information? I can check for a broken collar bone … or

any other anomalies. I’d also like to get some samples from

you and her for a DNA test, although the results will take

a while, and they won’t be conclusive without samples from

your parents.”

He pulled her into his arms, giving her a quick kiss, much

to the delight of the older man, who had long since

discarded his ancient copy of People in favor of the drama

playing out in front of him.

When Mulder got back to the room, Dr. Peterson was talking

to Samantha. Both women greeted him as he entered.

“I’ve just been talking to Samantha about a treatment I’d

like to try,” Dr. Peterson said. “I understand you’ve gone

through regression hypnosis therapy?”

Mulder sat down. “Yes. In fact, that’s how I recovered my

own memories of the night Samantha disappeared.”

“I’ve had great success with several patients suffering from

memory losses and blocks. Samantha has agreed to undergo

a session — hopefully to recall what caused her recent injury,

but perhaps to shed some light on the more distant past as

well. I assume you’re still not entirely convinced she is who

she claims to be?”

“In the past, I’ve met other women who have claimed to be

my sister,” Mulder said, avoiding Samantha’s eyes. “I’d

like to be sure. My partner is arranging for some tests,

but this might help us get a few answers sooner. When will

you be doing the session?”

Dr. Peterson and Samantha exchanged a glance, and now it

was Samantha who avoided Mulder’s gaze as Dr. Peterson

spoke.

“Samantha and I have discussed it, and we think it might be

best if you weren’t involved in the actual session. Your

presence might interfere with her clear recollection.”

Mulder looked at Samantha, who nodded.

“But we’ll be doing the session later this evening, so I

should have some news for you tomorrow morning,” the doctor

continued. “Why don’t you come by my office here at the

hospital around 9:00?”

“I’ll be there,” Mulder said.

“And now, I think it might be best if Samantha got some

rest before we get started.”

He wanted to stay and talk to Samantha some more, but she

looked pale and there were circles of fatigue under her

eyes. This wasn’t any easier on her than it was on him, he

realized, with the gaps in her memory and people

questioning and testing her. Whether or not she was his sister,

she had put her trust in him and was relying on his support.

He gave her a quick kiss on the forehead and wished

her luck with the regression, then reluctantly left the hospital.

*******

“Did you find anything?” Mulder asked that night as

they dined on local seafood at a Newport restaurant. His

plate was piled with discarded shells and he had just

ordered something called the Chocolate Shipwreck for

dessert. Scully was still making her way through her shrimp

salad as she filled him in on her visit with Dr. Williams.

“According to the X rays they took when she was admitted,

she’s had some broken bones, but most of the injuries

appear to be several years old. It’s possible they’re the

result of some kind of physical abuse, but without a formal

medical history it’s hard to draw any conclusions.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell from the existing films if there

had been any fracture to the collar bone. Dr. Williams is

going to set up another X ray tomorrow for that purpose,

if Samantha will agree to it.”

“No other anomalies?”

“I didn’t –” She stopped in mid-sentence as the waitress

brought a giant ice cream sundae with broken-up chocolate

chip cookies scattered over it, drizzled with thick

chocolate syrup. Mulder handed her the extra spoon he’d

requested.

“You were saying … ?” he grinned.

Scully took one more look at her healthy salad before

shoving it ruthlessly to one side to dig into the ice cream.

“I didn’t see anything on the films, and I’d think

Dr. Williams would have mentioned finding any kind of

implants. So we don’t know much more than we did

earlier.”

“Do we know anything more about the fax that Skinner got?”

Scully shook her head. “He said he’d call as soon as he had

any information. Do you have any idea why someone would

want to make you believe that your sister’s alive?”

Mulder set down his spoon. “That’s what I don’t understand.

The conspiracy’s been destroyed, the cloning program

terminated. They don’t need my cooperation anymore. The

only thing I can figure is that either this woman truly

believes she *is* Samantha, or … ” he trailed off.

“Or what, Mulder?”

“Or that she really is my sister.”

Scully set the spoon down, her appetite gone. “Mulder … ”

“What if Sam didn’t get taken from the hospital that night?

What if she escaped somehow and ended up living on the

streets?”

“Then why didn’t she try to contact you or your parents

before now? She obviously remembered them. She gave your

mother’s name as next-of-kin.”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe she was afraid or

ashamed. Maybe she hasn’t always remembered. Or maybe she

thought that life on the streets was what she deserved.”

“Did you ever stop to think that maybe someone told this

woman those details, that she’s being used or is

intentionally leading you on for some reason?”

“Of course I have. But it doesn’t matter, Scully. I can’t turn

my back on her, not without knowing for sure.”

“I know,” Scully said quietly, reaching over to put her hand

on his. “Hopefully the DNA test will give us some kind of

confirmation.”

“Or the regression.”

She pursed her lips against an automatic protest, not wanting to

ruin the dinner, and simply squeezed his hand in a silent show

of support. They had both discussed and even undergone

regression therapy in the past, and she had already voiced her

concerns about its validity. Even Mulder had admitted that at

times he doubted his own memories retrieved in that manner.

But she knew that right now he needed to feel that they were

moving forward while they waited for the physical test results.

He set down his spoon and pushed the remaining dessert

toward her. “Think I’ll take a walk. Do you want to come?”

She shook her head, knowing he didn’t really want company,

but appreciating the effort to let her in. “No, I think

I’ll make some calls and try to find out if there have been

any missing persons reports in the area that match her

description.”

“Okay. See you at the hotel.”

After he left, she absently swirled the spoon in her ice

cream, remembering how relieved she had been when

they had finally closed this particular X-file. It had taken

Mulder a while to get used to the idea, and he had gone

through a period of mourning, but then his spirit had seemed

to lighten. He was still obsessed with his work, but he also

was able to relax more, to look toward the future instead

of constantly glancing back to the past.

It had also been a turning point in their relationship.

Scully’s visits to comfort him had eventually become a

ritual of movies, popcorn and beer. They had talked long

into the night, opening up with each other as neither ever

had before. And that emotional closeness had soon become

physical closeness. Without the old ghosts of his past

between them, they could both move on together.

But now … This woman had raised the dead, regardless of

who she turned out to be. Mulder already half-believed she

was Samantha. Scully could tell by the way he looked at

her, kept touching her. If she wasn’t his sister, he would

go through the grief and guilt all over again, now having

to wonder if she was still out there somewhere on the

streets. If this woman *was* his sister, things would never

be the same between them.

“Is everything all right?” The waitress had approached and

was watching Scully stirring her melted ice cream.

“No,” Scully replied. “But there’s nothing I can do.”

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

Mulder walked along the harbor. He’d roamed through the

streets of Newport for a while before the pull of the ocean

had drawn him here. The water always had a calming

influence, helped him sort things out. As a child, he’d

scared his mother more than once by wandering down the

beach, lost in thought until she couldn’t find him. That

had changed when Samantha had begun to tag along. She

always got tired or bored after only a few yards and

dragged him back to the house.

He smiled at the memory and pulled the small book out of

the inside pocket of his jacket. Samantha’s diary.

He had brought it with him, thinking if she really *was*

Samantha, she would recognize it. He flipped through

the worn pages, although he knew the words by heart.

*I remember faces. I think I had a brother … *

*Some nights when I go to sleep, I pray that I’ll wake up

and this will all be some horrible dream. On the worst

nights, I pray I won’t wake up.*

*Do Mom and Dad even miss me anymore? Is anyone looking for

me? Maybe they’ve forgotten. Maybe they’re glad I’m gone.*

*Tonight I’m going to run far, far away. I can’t let them

catch me. They’ll kill me if they do. Running for my life,

for the rest of my life.*

The last entry. He closed the book.

His baby sister. She had relied on him for safety, for

protection, and he’d let her down that night. Then he’d let

her down again by giving up the search when it got too

hard. The vision in the field had seemed so real that night,

but he’d had other visions that had seemed incredibly real.

Had he only seen what he wanted to see? A pretty ending

to ease his conscience, to give himself permission to

stop looking?

He realized he hardly thought about her anymore, barely

noticed the smiling girl in the picture on the corner of his

desk. He was too busy watching movies with Scully, making

love to Scully, planning his future with Scully ….

If this girl was Samantha, it changed everything. If she

wasn’t Samantha, he couldn’t go back to pretending that she

had simply disappeared into a heavenly realm somewhere,

safe and protected. Now he had to face the possibility that

she was still out there somewhere, still running for her

life, perhaps not knowing her own identity, unable to

contact him.

Even if she could forgive him for giving up the search, he

wasn’t sure he could ever forgive himself.

Mulder tucked the book back in his jacket and wandered back

to the hotel. He and Scully always got separate rooms to

maintain bureau protocol, but usually ended up together. He

did not go to her room that night.

**********

Scully was hurt by his absence, but she didn’t mention it

the next morning when they met for a quick breakfast in the

hotel. She could tell he hadn’t slept well. She herself

hadn’t drifted off until well after midnight, after she’d

heard him come in next door. Pushing her personal feelings

aside, she focused on the case at hand. She’d gotten some

good information from her phone calls last night and decided

to go to the local police department to speak with one of

the detectives personally while Mulder met with Dr.

Peterson. She would join him at the hospital later.

He seemed distant and distracted, but thanked her for

taking care of things. She ached to hold him, to smooth

the worried lines from his forehead and tell him that

everything would be all right. But first she had to

convince herself.

Mulder arrived at the hospital a few minutes early and took

a seat in Dr. Peterson’s office. He’d seen the questions in

Scully’s eyes this morning and was grateful that she’d kept

everything on a professional level. He was exhausted and on

edge and couldn’t deal with any more emotional pressure

right now — although he wished he had gone to her room

last night, if only for the physical comfort of being near

her. He always slept better with Scully in the room,

preferably in the same bed.

“Mr. Mulder. Sorry I’m late.”

He stood as Dr. Peterson entered the room, and she motioned

for him to sit down again, her usual smile nowhere in

evidence. Mulder unconsciously gripped the chair arms a

little more tightly as she got herself organized, pulling

out a cassette tape and tape recorder. Then she sat down

and gazed at him solemnly for a few moments.

“Some rather disturbing details came to light during my

session with Samantha last night. Rather than discuss them

with you, I’d prefer you listen to the tape and then we’ll

decide where to go from here.”

She put the cassette in and they both heard her own voice

giving the time, date, and details of the session, then

explaining to Samantha what was going to happen. She then

led Samantha into a deep trance, and began to question her

quietly and gently.

“Are you Samantha Mulder?”

“Yes.”

“Who are your parents?”

“William and Teena Mulder.”

“Do you have brothers or sisters?”

“Yes. I have a brother. Fox.”

Dr. Peterson then instructed Samantha to go back in time,

to think back to before she woke up in the hospital, where

she was and what she was doing.

“Do you remember falling?” she asked.

“Didn’ fall,” Samantha said drowsily. “Men. They took me.”

“What men? Do you know where they took you, Samantha?”

There was a faint rustling sound and Dr. Peterson murmured

a few soothing words, then Samantha’s voice came back, a

little scared now.

“Men. I couldn’t see … faces. Took me to this bright

place. Then it was dark. I was falling … falling … They

pushed me.”

“They were men? Humans, not aliens?”

There was a soft laugh. “Not aliens. Just men.”

“Did you see anyone’s face, Samantha? Anyone you recognized

or could describe to me?”

There was silence. Dr. Peterson turned off the tape

recorder. “She shook her head ‘no’ there. Unfortunately, she

had no more recollections about what happened that night.

Then I decided to regress her a little farther, to see if she

had any memories of that first abduction, in 1973.”

She ejected the tape and turned it over, rewinding it to a

certain spot. “She’s eight years old here.”

Mulder’s heart jumped into his throat. Was this Samantha’s

memory of what had happened that night? Would it match his

own recollection, or was her truth different than his?

” … scared,” came the soft, childlike voice. “I don’t

understand.”

“Don’t understand what, Samantha? What are you afraid of?”

“Him. He hurts me.”

“What does he do?”

“He yells at me. He hits me.” The voice broke with a sob.

“He hits me … but they don’t see.”

“Who hits you, Samantha?”

“My brother. Why does he hit me?”

“Turn it off,” Mulder demanded, his voice harsh in his

ears. He was on his feet but he didn’t remember standing

up, his hands clenched, shaking. “That’s a lie.”

Dr. Peterson looked at him. “Why would she be lying

about this?”

“I – I don’t know. But I never hurt her. I never hurt my

sister.”

“Mr. Mulder, please. Sit down.”

He forced himself to relax and sat back down in the chair,

taking a deep breath.

“I know this is difficult for you,” Dr. Peterson said,

using the same tone she’d used on the tape, quiet and

gentle. “But if you were able to so completely block

out that one night for so many years, isn’t it possible

that you may have repressed other memories of your

childhood as well? After all, with the focus on your

sister’s abduction, no one would question your devotion to

her.”

He felt the eggs and bacon he’d had that morning rising up

in his throat. “I — Excuse me.”

“Mr. Mulder, I want to help you — ” she called after him

as he ran out of the room.

***********

The only thing Scully had picked up at the police station

was the detective’s invitation to lunch. None of the

missing persons descriptions matched the woman in the

hospital, and no one had come forward with any information

about her injuries. The jogger who had found her hadn’t

seen anyone else in the area. Scully was beginning to think

the regression therapy might provide them their only lead,

if not a solid one, by the time she arrived at the hospital.

Samantha was alone in her room, sitting up on the

edge of the bed as if ready to take flight. She ignored

Scully’s greeting, looking past her toward the door. “Isn’t

Fox with you? He said he’d be here this morning. I need to

talk to him.”

“He must be with Dr. Peterson,” Scully said, noting the way

the other woman was clutching at the sheets, gnawing at her

lower lip. “Samantha, are you all right?”

“Agent Scully, I remembered something. I need to — ”

“Samantha, you should be resting,” Dr. Peterson smiled,

entering the room. She gave Samantha a couple of pills.

“Here. These will help you relax.” As Samantha swallowed

the medication, the doctor turned to Scully. “Good morning,

Agent Scully. Have you heard from Agent Mulder?”

“No. I thought he’d be with you.” Scully didn’t need Mulder’s

intuition to know that something was wrong. Samantha’s eyes

pleaded with her to stay, but Dr. Peterson had her arm and

was leading her out of the room.

“He was here earlier.” Dr. Peterson escorted Scully into

her office and closed the door, gesturing for Scully to sit

down. Scully remained standing. “During Samantha’s session,

she made a rather unsettling revelation. She said that her

brother had hurt her. Has Agent Mulder ever shown any

violent tendencies toward–”

“She’s mistaken.” Scully’s icy tone covered the fear that

shuddered through her as she realized what Samantha had

been trying to tell her.

The doctor smiled. “Your loyalty is admirable, but –”

“I know Agent Mulder. He’s saved my life countless times

with no thought to his own safety. He’s risked his own life

to find out what happened to his sister. That woman is

either deceiving you or confusing him with someone else.

Did you tell Mulder any of this?”

“I – I played the tape for him. I thought he should hear it

for himself.”

“Where is he?”

“I don’t know. He just ran out …”

Scully left the office and went back to Samantha’s room.

She was gone.

She alerted security and Dr. Peterson, then headed toward

the exit to use her cell phone to try to contact Mulder.

Even if he hadn’t believed the allegation, hearing the

woman he thought was his sister make such a statement

would have been devastating. She didn’t like the idea of

him being alone right now.

“Agent Scully?”

Dr. Williams approached. “I was afraid I’d missed you in

all the excitement here this morning. I have the results

back from the X rays you requested.”

Scully followed the doctor to his office, hoping that in a

few minutes she’d be able to tell Mulder this woman wasn’t

his sister and what she’d said during her regression had

been some horrible mistake. She didn’t want to think about

the alternative.

He already had the films up on the light board. “I don’t

know if you consider this good news or bad news, but I see

no evidence of any fractures here.”

clip_image003

Scully examined the X rays for herself. Finally she had her

proof. This woman wasn’t Samantha. The question of who she

really was could wait. Right now, she needed to let Mulder

know. She thanked the doctor and went outside to use her

cell phone. As she was about to dial Mulder’s number, the

phone rang.

“Mulder?”

“Agent Scully, this is Assistant Director Skinner. I’ve

been trying to reach Agent Mulder.”

“Um … I’m not sure where he is at the moment, sir.”

“I got that impression,” Skinner grumbled. “I have the

background information he requested earlier this

morning on a Dr. Katherine Peterson. I’ll fax it to the

hotel.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Scully? Is everything all right?”

“Everything is fine, sir.” She disconnected the phone

before he could question her any further and went back into

the hospital. There was no sign of Samantha yet, and she

couldn’t locate Dr. Peterson either. Scully gave the head of

security her card with the phone number of the hotel,

asking him to call her if he heard anything. Then

she decided to go back to the hotel, hoping that maybe

Mulder had returned to his room and was waiting for her

or had left a message. If nothing else, she could find out

a little more about Dr. Peterson.

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

“What do you mean you lost her?” He lit a cigarette and

debated simply killing the incompetent bastard right here

in his office, except that blood stains were notoriously

difficult to remove from Persian rugs.

The man went a shade whiter than his already pasty

complexion. “The doctor gave her some pills. I thought she

was asleep so I –”

“I don’t pay you to think. I pay you to watch. And you

failed even that simple task.” He pressed a button on the

intercom on his desk and the man flinched as if he’d

expected the floor to drop from beneath him.

Ah, the smell of fear. Like a shark, he thrived on it. The

scent invigorated him, made him feel powerful again.

“Yes sir,” the voice floated from the box.

“Make arrangements for a trip to Rhode Island. Watson has

failed his assignment.”

“Yes sir.”

He stared at Watson. “Get out. I have no further use for

you.”

“I’m sorry, sir. Please … if you could –”

“No. I couldn’t.”

Watson slowly turned and walked out of the office, closing

the door behind him.

He was never seen again.

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

At first Mulder had driven aimlessly, with no particular

direction. He felt like the survivor of an air raid, hit by

the first missile — that this dark-haired stranger

was his sister — and before he could recover, slammed

by the second bomb, even more devastating. His only

thought had been to escape the destruction, try to

outrun the accusation that still rang in his head.

He could never have hurt her. Yet the doubt had been

planted now, taking root in the fertile ground of his

existing guilt and he could not deny that it was an extreme

possibility.

He knew that running away was perhaps not the best way

to handle the situation, but it was the only one he could

think of at the moment. He couldn’t face Sam, Scully, or

any of them right now. He needed a safe place where he

could be alone and decide what to do next.

He hadn’t realized that he was headed toward a specific

destination until he found himself on Route 1, the

weathered signs and landscape still familiar from his

childhood. The air smelled of the ocean as he slowed the

car to turn off onto the old narrow access road, barely visible

from the highway. A few minutes later he pulled up and

parked in the weed-choked gravel driveway of his own

personal sanctuary.

He had considered selling the summer house after his mother

had died, but he hadn’t had the time or energy to go clean

the place out, so it sat empty now. The bushes and flowering

plants, so carefully nurtured and trimmed by his mother so

many years ago, had all reverted to the wild now, nearly

obscuring his view of the house and the ocean beyond.

As he approached, he noticed a few tiles missing on the

roof, the faded, peeling paint, and a cracked window, but

the place had been sturdily built to weather the briny ocean

breeze and the occasional rough weather. He could

remember one particularly bad storm from his childhood

where they had huddled inside with only gas lanterns for

light. As the walls had shuddered from the strong wind,

Samantha had cried, afraid the house would be blown

away to Oz, but he’d known they would be safe.

He unlocked the door and walked in, stirring up a cloud of

dust that made him sneeze. Plastic still protected all the

furniture, but some of the lamps were gone now, victims of

his search for an alien weapon a few years ago. He’d cleaned

up the broken pieces, but never replaced them. Although

he didn’t expect to stay until nightfall, he was pleasantly

surprised to find the electricity was on, as if the house

was just waiting for someone to visit.

He knew he should probably call Scully, even though

he’d left her a brief note at the hotel desk, but the old

phone in the living room had been disconnected. When

he pulled out his cell phone, he discovered that

civilization hadn’t quite taken over Quonochontaug yet.

He was out of range. Not ready to get back in the car

and drive around just to make a phone call, he decided

to beg Scully’s forgiveness later.

He found the photo album in the drawer where his

mother had always kept it and carefully wiped off the thick

layer of dust. The photos inside, preserved under the

protective plastic, showed the Mulder family in happier times,

his mother posing like a fashion model in her bathing suit,

even his father with a rare smile for the camera. His

sister, always grinning, laughing, and almost always

right next to her older brother. The younger version of

himself, a skinny kid in swimming trunks ready to dive off

the pier.

They had been happy once, hadn’t they? Or were those

memories questionable as well?

He sneezed again and decided to take the album outside

where he could get some fresh air. The pier was still

there, at the bottom of a short, steep hill, although no doubt

badly in need of repair, and he thought he saw the old

rope swing through the trees. He could almost hear Sam’s

squeal of terror and delight as she swung out over the water.

“I thought I might find you here.”

The voice startled him from his memories and he nearly

dropped the photo album as he turned to see Dr. Peterson.

clip_image004

Act 3

Scully arrived at the hotel and stopped at the front desk

to pick up Skinner’s fax. The clerk also gave her a note in

Mulder’s familiar scrawl, saying he just needed to clear

his head and he’d be in touch with her soon.

“Oh, by the way,” the clerk said as Scully started to

leave, “Mr. Mulder’s sister came by, said she wanted to

wait for him, so I let her into his room. She didn’t have any

money, said it was okay if I just put the cab fare on the bill.”

Scully ran to Mulder’s room and pounded on the door until

Samantha peeked out, using the chain lock. Seeing it was

only Scully, she opened the door cautiously, just wide

enough to let Scully in, then closed and locked the door

again. She was still wearing the clothes that Dr. Peterson

had given her.

“How did you get here?” Scully said, glancing around the

room to see if there were any signs of Mulder’s presence or

some kind of struggle. She saw nothing except the usual

package of sunflower seeds on the nightstand and his

overnight bag near the foot of the bed.

Samantha paced near the window, where the drapes had been

drawn closed. “It was easy to get out of the hospital,” she

said, “I could have gotten out of there lots of times, but

it was a nice bed, free food….Anyway, Fox had told me

where he was staying, so I got a cab and came here. I

figured it would be safe.”

“Safe from what? From whom?” Scully asked. “What were

you trying to tell me at the hospital this morning?”

Samantha sank down on the bed, tugging at the too-long

sleeves of her sweatshirt. “I – I remembered things. The

regression. But it wasn’t my life. I mean, it wasn’t

Samantha’s life.”

Scully sat down next to her. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that I’m not Samantha Mulder. I don’t know who

I am, but I’m not her.”

“I know,” Scully said. “You remembered your real brother,

didn’t you? The one who hurt you.”

Samantha nodded. “I remembered that my mother died when I

was very young. And I remembered that some men abducted me,

but not when I was a girl. It was recently. They told me I

was Samantha, they must have given me those details about her

life.”

“Do you remember what any of the men looked like?” Scully

asked, already knowing what the answer would be.

Samantha shook her head.

“But I don’t understand,” Scully said. “Dr. Peterson told me

she played the regression tape for Mulder. He would have

heard all this.”

“There’s no tape,” Samantha replied. “Dr. Peterson said her

cassette recorder broke about halfway through the session.”

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

“What are you doing here?” Mulder asked.

“I’m afraid I didn’t handle things very well this morning,

Agent Mulder.” Dr. Peterson smiled apologetically.

“Samantha has told me about this place, of course, and

how much you both loved it. I took a chance that you

might come here.” She held up a handled bag. “I brought

some lunch as a peace offering. I’d like to talk to you

some more, if you don’t mind?”

His stomach reminded him that he had lost the small

breakfast he’d eaten earlier that day and it was past noon.

There were certainly no supplies in the house if he sent

her away. As much as he wanted to be alone, perhaps

Dr. Peterson could help clarify things.

“Sure,” he shrugged, and she helped him clean off the old

picnic table. He found a blanket in the house to use as a

makeshift tablecloth and she spread out deli sandwiches,

chips, cookies, and a jug of iced tea. “You were pretty

sure of yourself, weren’t you?” he commented as they took

their seats.

“I try to be optimistic,” she said, pouring the tea. “Agent

Mulder, Samantha is very worried about you, as am I. My

actions this morning were entirely too harsh, but in my work

with abused women, my sympathies normally lie with the

victims.”

“So do mine,” Mulder said. “I didn’t hurt my sister. There

has to be some other explanation for what she said on

that tape.”

“That may be so,” she conceded. “But wouldn’t you like

to be certain?”

“What do you mean?” he asked as she refilled his empty

glass. He hadn’t realized how thirsty he was.

“I’d like to regress you, too, Agent Mulder. What you

heard this morning may jog something in your subconscious,

something that could help us find out the truth.”

He shook his head, feeling a little lightheaded, probably

from lack of food and sleep. “No,” he replied. “I need

some time. I need to talk to Scully.”

She changed the subject, looking out over the ocean. “What

a beautiful view. Did your family come here often?”

He followed her gaze, his eyes dazzled by the hypnotic

movement of the sun-kissed waves, drifting back into his

memories. “We came here every summer, usually for a

week or so, depending on my dad’s schedule. Sometimes

for a long weekend.”

“What did you do?”

He closed his eyes, relaxing in the gentle warmth of the sun,

and let the past wash over him. “We swam … did a little

fishing….Sam named all the worms and then wouldn’t let us

put them on the hooks.” He chuckled at the memory. “Dad

taught me to water ski. Mom was either taking care of her

flowers or reading the latest best seller.”

“Sam loved this place,” Dr. Peterson said softly. “She

wanted to come back here someday.”

“She wanted … ?” He opened his eyes with an effort.

Dr. Peterson’s image wavered in and out of focus, and

he felt a little seasick, as if the bench was swaying

beneath him.

He’d wanted to ask her a question about something

she’d said, but the thought had already slipped from his

grasp. “I think … I think I need to lie down,” he said, the

words thick and heavy on his tongue. He started to stretch

out on the seat of the picnic table, but someone grabbed

his arm and dragged him up.

“I think you’ll be more comfortable inside,” a female voice

said.

*Scully? Not Scully. Damn. Should have called her.

She’ll be worried.*

“I’ll call her for you. Just relax, Fox. I’m going to help

you remember.”

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

Samantha was pacing again. “Shouldn’t we be doing

something?” she asked. “Can’t you call someone for a

warrant?”

Scully glanced up from Skinner’s fax. “To do what? No

crime has been committed.”

“Uh, hello, kidnapping. Me. Brainwashing, whatever they

did.”

“Samantha.” They had decided to keep calling her that name

since she couldn’t recall her own. “You can’t identify any

of these men. You don’t know where you were held. You only

remembered the incident under hypnosis. I do believe that

something was done to you, but we need a little more to go on.”

“If Fox was here, he’d do something,” she muttered.

Scully tried to ignore the comment, but she had to wonder

what Mulder was doing at the moment. She had expected

to hear from him by now, and hated to think of him beating

himself up over all this when she had the answers — or at

least the one answer that he needed to hear right now. The

last few times she’d tried to call his cell phone, he’d been

out of range.

The best thing she could do right now was help Samantha

figure out the mystery of her past and who was in charge of

this bizarre game. She’d wondered at first if Dr. Peterson

might be in on the hoax, but the background check certainly

didn’t paint her as a suspect. She’d overcome tremendous

odds to get to where she was, having run away from home

at an early age and surviving on the streets for a number of

years. After an arrest when she was 14, she’d been placed

with a foster family and had turned her life around, becoming

a psychiatrist whose practice focused on female victims of

physical and sexual abuse. Along the way, she’d also gained a

reputation for her impressive results with regression therapy.

The only dark marks on her record were the deaths of two

of the suspected abusers. The doctor and her clients had

been questioned in both cases, but no charges had ever been

filed, one death being ruled a suicide, the other accidental.

Katherine Peterson appeared blameless, even admirable,

from the background check. Yet she’d lied about the

regression tape. Scully had to wonder what else she might

have lied about.

“Samantha, what did you and Dr. Peterson talk about in

your sessions in the hospital?”

Samantha nibbled on a sunflower seed, then made a face and

tossed it in the wastebasket. “She seemed interested in my

abduction experiences, at least what I could remember of

them. And she helped me remember some of the details about

my — I mean, about Samantha’s life.”

Scully felt a chill. Two girls in the same general area, living on

the streets at about the same time. She rarely had those flashes

of intuition that Mulder did, but she had learned to trust them

over the years. “Samantha. I want you to think carefully. Did

Dr. Peterson help you remember any details that the men

may have not told you?”

Samantha hesitated. “I’m not sure. No. Wait a minute. She

asked me about the summer house.”

“In Quonochontaug?” Mulder had probably gone there, she

suddenly realized. She was surprised she hadn’t thought of

that before, but unlike her, he’d always considered the

summer house a safe place. Her own memories of the cabin

weren’t so peaceful.

“Yes. I thought she was trying to trick me, that she had to

be making up a name like that, and she seemed surprised.

But later they said they’d found me near there, so I just

assumed she knew that and was trying to jog my memory.”

“But you don’t remember ever being there?”

Samantha shook her head. “Then again, I don’t even remember

my own name, Agent Scully. Are you saying that Dr. Peterson

might have been in on this?”

“I’m saying Dr. Peterson may have her own agenda.” Scully

reached for her cell phone and called the hospital, only to

be informed that the doctor had left earlier that morning

after canceling all her appointments for that day, saying

she didn’t feel well. She phoned Information, hoping to

reach the summer house, but there were no listings for the

name Mulder in the area.

As she hung up, someone knocked at the door. Hoping it

might be Mulder, Scully opened it.

“What are you doing here?” she snapped at the tall man with

the cigarette dangling from his lips.

“He’s one of them,” Samantha gasped. “One of the men who

took me.”

Scully grabbed her as she ran at Spender, more concerned

that Samantha would injure herself than of any damage she

might do to the older man. Her own palms itched with the

desire to wipe that smirk off his face.

“Samantha,” he said in his smoke-roughened voice. “I’m glad

you’re all right.”

“What did you do to me, you bastard?” Samantha fought

against Scully.

“We need his help, as much as I hate to admit it,” Scully

whispered to her. “Let’s see what he has to say before you

beat him up.” As Samantha subsided, Scully glared at

Spender. “Talk to me.”

“What would you like me to say?”

“For starters, are you behind all this?”

“Behind what, Agent Scully? I heard a rumor that Agent

Mulder’s long-lost sister had been found. Being a …

friend of the family, I of course came to see her.” He

looked around. “Where *is* Agent Mulder?”

“For your sake, I hope he’s having a beer and enjoying the

view at the summer house. Now we’re going to go look around

Dr. Peterson’s office.”

“I’m not going back to the hospital,” Samantha said.

“That’s fine. You stay here and call me immediately if you

hear from Mulder.” She looked at Spender. “Let’s go.”

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

“I wanted to like you, Fox.”

He blinked at the blurry image in front of him and it

became Dr. Peterson. He was so tired he could barely sit

upright in the chair except that something was supporting

him, holding him in a sitting position. But every time he

closed his eyes, she slapped him or shook him awake,

insistent on having a conversation when he could barely

string two thoughts together, much less form words.

“She was convinced that you were going to rescue her. But

you never came.”

“I … tried.”

“She protected you for some reason. She’d created a whole

fantasy about these men who’d taken her, said they’d hurt

her, but I knew. All I want you to do is face the past,

Fox. Admit what you did.”

He shook his head and immediately felt nauseous, dizzy.

“Didn’t … do anything.”

She hit him hard enough that he tasted blood in his mouth.

He instinctively tried to raise his fingers to his lips to

feel the injury, but he couldn’t move his arms, couldn’t

raise them from the chair.

“How does it feel, Fox, to be helpless. Hurting. Like

she was. Why did you do it? Did it make you feel

strong, like a man?”

“Shut up!” he shouted, tugging at the ropes that held him,

wanting to cover his ears, his eyes, to disappear into the

darkness. “Stop it.”

“It will stop, Fox,” she said, her voice once again gentle and

soothing. She seemed to float toward him, and then he felt

a sharp prick in his arm. “It will stop when you finally remember.”

********

“Agent Scully, I don’t know what you’re hoping to

accomplish,” Spender said, grabbing at the arm rest as

Scully took a corner with only a thought about braking.

She countered his question with her own. “Why did you do

it? Were you bored? Did you miss the feeling of power over

him? Or could you just not bear to see him happy.”

“He had lost his passion, Miss Scully. I was trying to help

him find his way again.”

“You know nothing about passion. But you do know, as well

as I do, that Samantha Mulder is dead. If Mulder as much as

gets a splinter at the summer house because of this cruel,

misbegotten game, I’ll personally kick your ass.”

“I see Mulder’s violent impulses have rubbed off on you

over the years, Miss Scully.”

They went into the hospital where, between Scully’s FBI

credentials and Spender’s forbidding countenance, they were

able to get access to Dr. Peterson’s office.

“Tell me, was Dr. James’ sabbatical just a lucky

coincidence or was it arranged?” Scully asked, leafing

through the files on the desk.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She arched an eyebrow at him and went back to her

investigation. She hadn’t expected to find the tape recorder,

but apparently Dr. Peterson had thought her locked office

was secure. A tape was still in it, the label blank. Holding

her breath, Scully depressed the Rewind button for a few

seconds, then pressed Play.

“He hits me … but they don’t see.”

“Who hits you, Samantha?”

“My brother. Why does he hit me?”

“I don’t know, Samantha. Let’s try to find out. Tell me

more about Fox.”

“No … Not Fox.”

“It’s all right. You’re safe here. He can’t hurt you.”

“No. Troy. Troy hurt me. My brother’s name is Troy.”

“Samantha –”

“That’s not my name.” The voice sounded frightened, on the

verge of tears. “I’m not Samantha. I – I don’t remember who

–”

The tape suddenly went silent. There was nothing else on

the recording.

“I’m sure Mulder never heard the last few moments of that

session,” Scully said, then took a deep breath to calm herself

down. She had rarely been more furious with her cigarette-

smoking adversary. But when she looked at Spender, for the

first time since she had known him, the older man appeared

shaken, still staring at the tape recorder as if it were a

poisonous snake about to strike. Could it be that this

hadn’t been part of his plan?

Then she noticed the photograph that had been beneath the

recorder in the drawer. An aged photograph of two girls,

probably in their early teens, their arms around each

other, mugging for the camera. She didn’t recognize the

thin brunette of the pair, the other one easily could have been

a younger version of Katherine Peterson. On the back she

could just make out the note “Sam and me, 1979.” Samantha

would have been 14. The age she’d been when she’d vanished

from a hospital room.

“What about Dr. Peterson? Is she one of yours?” Scully

thrust the photo at Spender. “Did she voluntarily give you

the information about Samantha or did you just take it from

her?”

He took the photo, his hand trembling slightly, the lines

appearing more deeply grooved in his face under the harsh

fluorescent lights. “No. I’ve never seen her.”

“I think Katherine Peterson knew Samantha. They’re about

the same age, they were both runaways in the same area.

That’s why she’s dedicated herself to helping victims of

abuse — and she’s decided that Mulder is somehow at fault

for what happened to her friend.”

He looked up from the photo and gave her a shadow of one of

his usual smirks. “That’s … That’s quite a leap, Agent Scully.”

“Well, apparently I learned more than just violent

tendencies from Agent Mulder,” she said. “We need to get to

the summer house.”

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

“Fox. Can you hear me?”

“Yes.”

“Good. We’re going to go back, Fox, back to the night

Samantha disappeared. I want you to watch what happened, as

if you’re seeing it on television. You’ll be in no danger,

there’s no need to fear. It’s all in the past. Do you

understand?”

He nodded.

She led him back gradually, talking him through his college

days, high school, rewinding his life as he followed her

voice into his past. He felt peaceful, trusting, convinced

that he could finally give up the strict control that usually

guarded these memories. She had told him he was in no

danger.

“It’s November 27, 1973. On that night, your parents went next

door. You and Samantha are alone in the house.”

“I was in charge,” he murmured, smiling at the pride he’d

felt at his parents’ trust. The heady feeling of power.

She’d have to take her bath when *he* told her to …

“What are the two of you doing, Fox?”

The red and blue pieces on the board between them. She was

always convinced she could beat him at this game.

“Playing … Stratego.”

“What happened then, Fox? Tell me what you see.”

He watched as he and Samantha began to argue about the

television. “We’re having a fight. She wants to watch some

movie, I wanna watch something else … ”

“You sound upset, Fox. Are you angry?”

“We’re yelling, calling each other names … She can be

such a brat sometimes –”

“Did you hit her?”

The question jarred him. “No. No, I wouldn’t –”

“Of course you wouldn’t *want* to hit her, but if she made

you angry enough, just to get her to be quiet … ”

He didn’t like the woman’s voice anymore. He didn’t want

to see this argument, to hear the anger in those last words

he had spoken to his sister.

“Fox. Fox, listen to me. It’s over, it’s past. Relax. Remember,

you’re only watching. Tell me what happened next.”

“The lights went out.”

“Do you know why?”

“I – I don’t know. I guess a fuse blew.”

“Are you afraid?”

“No.”

“Is Samantha afraid?”

He could see her shadow in the darkness, hear the tremor

in her voice as she called his name. “Yes.”

“Then what happened?”

“I started to go check the fuse box, but then … the house

started to shake, like an earthquake.” Samantha called to

him again, her voice truly frightened now, even as his own

heart began to pound in his chest. “She’s calling for help,

she needs my help, but I can’t move.”

“Is she hurt, Fox? Is that why she’s crying for help?”

“I – I don’t know — the lights, there’s a noise, a buzzing

— Dad’s gun. Get Dad’s gun.”

“Why are you getting the gun, Fox?”

“To help her! I have to save her –”

“From whom? Are you pointing the gun at someone, Fox? Is

someone hurting your sister?”

“I can’t — can’t see them. But they’re taking her. I can’t

move — can’t speak — ” He was paralyzed, no longer a

spectator, trapped in the memory like a helpless fly in a

spider’s web.

“Fox, listen to me. I want you to take a deep breath. In

and out, slowly….That’s good. I want you to step back and

observe. Tell me what you see. You are not *in* the

situation, you are only watching.”

He clung to the voice and felt himself drifting out of the

terror, floating up and away from the boy huddled frozen

in the corner.

“Where is Samantha now?”

He looked around the room. The bright lights had vanished,

but he could still see clearly. “She’s gone.”

“What are you doing now?”

He peered at the boy, not much more than a ghost in the

empty room — motionless and pale. If he hadn’t known

better, he might have thought the boy was dead. “I’m just … I

don’t know.”

“You didn’t search for her, try to find her?”

“I want to.” He urged his shadow self to get up, to

go after her, but the boy’s eyes were blank, his body limp.

He was gone, vanished as surely as his sister, although his

physical body remained.

“But you loved your sister, didn’t you, Fox? If you thought

someone had taken her, wouldn’t you have run after them?

You had your father’s gun, after all. Or did she run away

from *you* that night, Fox?”

“No … She….I couldn’t … ” The vision was fading, as it

always did at this point, swirling down, into the black hole

of those hours after his sister had disappeared. Hours he had

never been able to recall,never wanted to. He felt himself being

sucked into the boy’s blank yes, drowning in the cold waves of

despair….

“Fox! Fox, stay with me. Come on.”

Someone was shaking him, dragging him back toward the

surface. He gasped for air, clutched at something solid

beneath his fingers, wood – the wood of the chair, the

summer house —

He opened his eyes to find himself looking at Dr. Peterson,

who leaned forward, staring at him intently.

“Fox, do you know where you are?” She reached up and placed

her fingers along his throat, checking his pulse.

“Back in Kansas?” It was a weak joke, but he’d expected at

least a smile. “Sorry. We’re in the summer house.

Quonochontaug, Rhode Island.” He glanced at the ropes that

still held him in the chair, flexed his stiff fingers.

“Your methods are a bit … unorthodox, Dr. Peterson.”

clip_image005

She had the grace to lower her eyes and blush. “I’m sorry.”

He noticed she made no move to release him, however.

Instead, she rose from her kneeling position and smiled

down at him. “Why don’t you call me Katherine? I think

we’re long past the formalities. We made great progress

here, Fox. I think we’re breaking down some of those

walls.”

“Great.” He forced the enthusiasm into his voice. “Why

don’t you untie me then, Katherine?” A glance out the window

gave him a shock. Daylight was fading rapidly. How long had

he been unconscious? Scully as probably worried by now.

Or pissed off. Most likely both. Maybe he could persuade

Dr. Peterson to drive to a pay phone or at least back within

cell phone range. “I should check in with my partner,” he said.

“Let her know where I am.”

She shook her head and gestured toward the phone.

“Fox, I called Agent Scully while you were sleeping.

Everything’s all right. Just relax.”

She was lying. And even if the phone worked

for some reason, Scully would have insisted on talking to

Mulder herself. It was an unspoken agreement between them.

Dr. Peterson was unstable, if not teetering on the edge of

sanity, and he needed to get out of here before the next

therapy session. “Look, it’s a little hard to relax in

this chair. Can’t you loosen the ropes?”

She hesitated, and he realized she didn’t trust him, either. He

wasn’t going to get anywhere with the direct approach. But

upon testing his bonds, he discovered they weren’t knotted

tightly. If he could distract her, maybe he could buy some

time to free himself.

“You knew my sister. How did you meet her?”

“We were both runaways. We met at a shelter one winter and

became friends. She claimed that men had taken her, done

tests. I tried to help her admit the truth — she had the

obvious signs of physical abuse — but she insisted on her

story. Then a few months later she disappeared. I never saw

her again. She was sweet, had a kind of innocence about her,

despite living on the streets. She never gave up hoping that

someday … ”

He swallowed the sudden lump in his throat. She’d always

hoped someone would find her. That *he* would find her.

“I knew this woman at the hospital wasn’t Samantha after I

interviewed her, but I wanted to find out who she really was,

if she’d known Sam, too. Of course I also hoped that if you

heard about her, you’d come to see for yourself, and I could

help you.”

“Katherine, I’m not the one who needs help here,” he said

quietly. “I *know* the truth about my sister. I’m sorry if

you have some issue with — ”

“It’s getting late,” she interrupted, reverting to her

professional persona as he got too close. “We have a lot of

work ahead, Fox, but I think we should do this under more

controlled conditions. It’s a bit of a drive, but you can

sleep the whole way.”

He began to struggle again as she reached for a syringe. At

least at the summer house, in familiar surroundings, he had

a chance of escape. As she bent down to insert the needle,

he launched himself forward and knocked her off balance.

She stumbled back and fell across the coffee table as he

threw himself against the wall, trying to break the old

wooden chair. The wood cracked and splintered at the first

impact, then fell apart as he hit the wall a second time,

leaving wood and rope in a pile on the floor. Katherine was

stunned by the fall, but still conscious as he ran past her

into the kitchen where he’d left his car keys earlier.

They were gone.

“Fox?”

He doubled back and went out the French doors, running

across the small back yard and into the woods. The sun was

setting, but there was enough light left to guide him

through the trees without too many stumbles. Although he

had no expectation of finding any of the old trails, he knew

if he headed away from the summer house that the highway

wasn’t that far through the woods. He only hoped he had

enough of a head start to either hitchhike or walk to a nearby

phone before Katherine could come after him. There had

always been a few stores and fishing supply places along

the highway, and as people had discovered this picturesque

area, more had sprung up. Back then he’d hated how

civilization was encroaching on his family’s private paradise;

now he was thankful.

A painful stitch in his side slowed him down after only a few

yards, and he had to stop, leaning against a stout oak for

support. Breathing heavily, at first he thought he was still

weak from the drugs. Then a sudden wave of nausea

gripped him and he fell to his hands and knees, dry heaving

into the dirt as the pain in his side grew worse. He reached

back in an attempt to massage the muscles, startled to find

his shirt felt wet along the lower right side. When he looked

at his fingers, they were stained dark in the fading light. Blood.

He must have been injured on a piece of wood from the

broken chair without realizing it.

He hesitated, unable to gauge how badly he was hurt, but

he knew enough about the early stages of shock to know

that he was in no shape to keep running blindly through

the woods. He had to risk going back to the summer house.

Surely Katherine would get him to the hospital. He forced

himself to unsteady feet, sweat stinging his eyes, and stumbled

forward.

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

Scully hated the summer house. She was sure the Mulder

family had many pleasant memories there, but she knew it as

the place Teena Mulder had suffered a nearly fatal stroke,

and the place her partner had tried to kill her and

himself.

She should have tried to find him sooner. She should have

remembered how close the summer house was. She should

have … Scully shook her head. ‘Should haves’ weren’t going to

do her any good right now. She only hoped she could undo

whatever damage Dr. Peterson’s well-intentioned therapy

might do to her partner. She hadn’t realized the amount of

guilt he still carried over his sister’s disappearance. If the

doctor persuaded him to be hypnotized, she could convince

him he *had* hurt his sister in that highly suggestible state. It

had always been easier for Mulder to believe the bad about

himself than the good.

Spender pointed at the road ahead on their left. “That’s a

short cut, if you don’t mind being jostled around a bit.”

She arched an eyebrow at him, trying to decide what he

might gain by having her drive down a dead end or a few

miles out of the way.

He looked offended at her lack of trust. “I’m not lying,

Miss Scully. I’m as concerned about Fox’s welfare as you,”

he said. “Dr. Peterson was a wild card. We all

underestimated her.”

Scully did not take the turnoff, which appeared to amuse

him. “A wild card,” she mused. “That’s all this is to you,

some kind of game.”

“Now you’re beginning to understand.” He smiled and settled

back in the seat. “Not much farther now.”

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

“Help!” Mulder’s voice was hoarse from calling. He had

either gotten farther from the house than he’d thought, or

he’d grown disoriented as darkness had fallen and was

wandering even deeper into the woods. He stopped and

peered through the trees, hoping to see the lights of the house

or the headlights of cars on the highway, but the woods

were nearly pitch black. The only sounds were the

faint sigh of the wind through the trees and the distant

murmur of the ocean.

He was lost.

He had tried to keep pressure on the wound with his hand,

but the injury was in an awkward place and his

muscles grew fatigued very quickly. As the adrenaline

of his escape wore off, the pain took a firmer grip,

radiating from his lower back down through his legs, up

into his chest. A wave of dizziness swept over him and he

sank to the ground, shivering despite the warm temperature.

He tried to call out for help again, but managed little more

than a hoarse croak.

Someone would come for him — Dr. Peterson or Scully.

Scully must have figured out where he was by now. He just

had to keep calling, had to let them know where he was.

But he was so tired, so cold. He needed to rest, just wanted

to close his eyes for a minute or two …

“Fox! Wake up!”

The voice startled him out of his doze and he lifted his

head, blinking through the darkness at the figure that

stood in front of him.

It wasn’t the same vision he’d seen so often, of his

unchanged, eight-year-old sister, pieced together from

memories, but the girl he’d seen in a starlit field. His sister

on the edge of adulthood. She knelt beside him now,

wearing old jeans and a sweater.

“Samantha?” He reached out a shaky, blood-covered hand.

“Keep pressure on the wound,” she ordered in Scully’s

voice. Obediently he pressed his hand against his back,

gasping as the pain shot through him like a fiery spear.

“It hurts, Sam … ” he gasped, struggling to see her through

the red haze.

“I know.”

He immediately felt ashamed. She’d been through so much

more than he had, and he was whining about his injury.

“But you have to stay awake, Fox,” she said solemnly,

grasping his free hand and squeezing lightly, as Scully

often did to comfort or encourage him. “Keep calling.

She’s coming for you.”

“I – I’m sorry I never found you. I tried, Sam…I tried so

hard…”

She smiled. “I know. But I’m not lost anymore, Fox.”

Her figure began to shimmer around the edges, and he

clutched at her hand more tightly. “Am I going to die here?”

She laughed, sounding remarkably like the eight-year-old

girl he’d known. “No, Fox. She won’t let you. ”

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

They pulled into the yard to see two cars already there.

One was Mulder’s rental. The house was dark. Scully pulled

out her flashlight and her gun.

“Stay with me,” she ordered Spender.

“Do I have a choice?” he murmured, lighting up a cigarette

even as he exited the car. She had flatly refused to let him

smoke on the drive down.

They walked in the front door and Scully tried the light

switch, pleasantly surprised when it worked.

“Mulder?” she called. “Dr. Peterson?”

“He’s gone.”

Scully whirled around at the voice, her gun pointed at Dr.

Peterson. The doctor was sitting on the couch, her shoulders

slumped, hair tangled, eyes red-rimmed. A far cry from the

polished professional Scully had met at the hospital.

“What happened?” she asked, her fear for Mulder making her

tone harsher than she intended. “Where is he?”

Dr. Peterson flinched a little. “I couldn’t help him. I

tried.” She shook her head. “So much pain.” She looked up

at Scully as if she’d suddenly realized the other woman was

in the room. “He attacked me and left. He’s dangerous,

Agent Scully. To himself and to you.”

“You’re the only danger here,” Scully snapped, catching

sight of the ruins of the chair and the strands of rope. If

Mulder had hurt this woman, it had been because he

believed he had no other choice.

Then she saw the blood. Splashes, smears of it making a

crooked trail into the kitchen, out the French doors.

“Oh my God,” she breathed, pushing her fury at Dr. Peterson

into the background. She needed cold, clearheaded focus

right now. She turned to Spender, lounging in one corner of

the room as if he were simply a casual observer.

“Stay here and don’t let her out of your sight,” she

ordered, not wanting to trust him, but having no choice at

the moment. She ran back out to the car and grabbed her

medical bag out of the trunk, then went around to the back

of the house. “Mulder!” she called.

Silence.

She shone the flashlight on the ground, picking up the

trail he’d unconsciously left for her, a few flecks of red

in the thick grass, and started moving slowly into the woods.

Back inside the house, Spender sat down next to Katherine,

gently stroking some stray strands of hair from her

forehead. She looked at him with tearstained, hopeless

eyes.

“You have a talent for deception,” he said softly. “I

admire that. I think you can be of use to me.”

He held out his hand and she clasped the nicotine-stained

fingers and smiled her acceptance.

“Mulder!” Scully glanced back to make sure she could

still see the lights of the house. The last thing she needed

was to get lost in the woods trying to help Mulder. She had

lost track of the bloodstains and now strained to see

any footprints or broken branches that might guide her to

him, praying he would be able to respond if he could hear

her voice.

“Mulder! Can you hear me?” This time she thought she heard

a faint reply. She called his name again, and then stood silent.

“Scully — ” Weak, but unmistakably her name, although she

couldn’t pinpoint the location.

“Mulder, keep calling. I’m on my way.”

Only a few moments later, she nearly stumbled over him. The

flashlight revealed his face, too pale, glistening with

sweat even as he shivered. The lower part of his shirt, the

upper part of his jeans, were a bloody mess, as was

his hand, pressed against his lower back. She quickly checked

his vital signs and examined the jagged wound, biting her lip

as he flinched at her touch. Fumbling in the wavering

flashlight’s gleam, she applied a pressure bandage to slow the

bleeding. He cried out once, then lay still beneath her hands.

After finishing the first aid, she grabbed instinctively for her cell

phone to call 9-1-1. No service.

She cursed under her breath, then shook him gently,

surprised to see he was still conscious. But he seemed to be

focused on something else, staring off into the darkness.

She glanced in that direction but saw nothing, and returned

her attention to him. “Mulder, I need to get you to the car.

Do you think you can stand?”

He remained silent, although his lips moved slightly, as if he

was trying to speak. She noticed his free hand was clenched

in a tight fist and wondered if he’d put himself in some kind

of trance state to escape the worst of the pain.

“Mulder, can you hear me?” She moved into his line of

vision and he seemed to become aware of her presence.

“Yeah … I … ” He suddenly looked away from her again.

“No. Don’t go.”

“Mulder, I’m not going anywhere.” Scully put her hand on

his shoulder, but he continued to stare at some point just

beyond her. She wondered if the doctor had given him

some kind of hallucinogen or if he was just delirious from

the pain and shock.

His free hand relaxed and he focused on her once more,

struggling to stay conscious. “..s’okay … ” he murmured.

“She … She said … you’d take care of me now.”

“I will, Mulder. Always.”

It took a few minutes to get him to his feet, but through sheer

stubbornness on both their parts, they staggered back to the

summer house. She loaded Mulder into the back seat of her

car as carefully as possible, wincing at every stifled groan.

She didn’t want to give him any medication, not knowing if

Dr. Peterson had used drugs to keep him relaxed and

cooperative during his “therapy session.”be in his system.

Remembering the doctor, she noticed that one of the

vehicles was gone. Thinking that if either Dr. Peterson or

Spender had fled, the other one might be in need of

medical attention, Scully ran into the house.

Both of them had disappeared.

Epilogue

The following evening

Mercy Hospital

“How are you feeling?” Scully entered Mulder’s hospital

room and took a quick look at his chart.

He sat up a little straighter in bed with only a slight

wince. “Just don’t ask me to enter any limbo contests,” he

muttered.

“Fortunately, that piece of wood didn’t puncture any vital

organs.” Scully came around to sit down at the side of the

bed. “You can probably go home tomorrow. I promised

them you’d be under my care.”

“My favorite place to be,” he grinned. “I think I’ll need

round-the-clock assistance.”

Before Scully could retort, there was a tap at the door.

“May I come in?” The woman they knew as Samantha

entered the room a bit shyly. “I was hoping to see you

before you left. I wanted to thank you — *both* of you —

for everything you’ve done.”

“I wish we could do more,” Mulder said. “You were the real

victim in all this. But I think Dr. Werber can help get

your memories back.”

“I hope so,” she said. “Although I didn’t mind being

your sister.”

“Are you staying in the area?” Scully asked.

She nodded, with a shy smile for Mulder. “It’s a little piece

of oceanfront property not far from here. A fixer-upper,

but it’ll do until I can find my real place in the world.”

She blinked back tears, then straightened her shoulders.

“Well … I should go. Thanks again.”

Then she was gone.

“The summer house?” Scully raised an eyebrow.

Mulder shrugged. “I’m certainly not going to be using it

anytime soon.”

“By the way, I checked Dr. Peterson’s apartment. It looks

like someone packed up in a hurry, and she hasn’t been back

to the hospital.”

“One more lost girl,” Mulder murmured. “I have a feeling we

haven’t seen the last of Dr. Peterson … or that cigarette

smoking SOB, unfortunately.”

The conversation was interrupted by the nurse, who arrived

with Mulder’s pain medication. After she left, Scully took

Mulder’s hand, careful of the IV, and threaded her fingers

through his. “Tell me something. Did you really think your

sister was alive?”

“I suppose a part of me wanted to believe. But no, I didn’t

think this woman was Samantha. I just wanted to help her

find her way home.” He sighed and leaned back against the

pillow as the painful knot in his back began to loosen.

“I’d like to think if Sam was still out there, someone

would do the same for her.”

Scully leaned over to drop a gentle kiss on his forehead.

“Have I told you recently how wonderful you are?”

He grinned. “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Just wait ’til I get

out of this bed.”

She blushed and smiled, waiting until his eyes drifted shut

before she stood to leave, but even her careful movements

roused him and he reached out to grab her hand.

“Scully…Thank you.”

“For what, Mulder?”

“For always finding me … when *I* get lost.”

She kissed him again, on the lips this time, trying not to

be offended when he fell asleep in the middle.

The End

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