Legacy

cover

TITLE: “LEGACY”

AUTHORS: Suzanne Bickerstaffe and dtg

EMAIL: ecksphile@earthlink.net,

dgoggans@earthlink.net

RATING: PG-13

CONTENT: Casefile; mytharc; Concludes in the first

episode of Virtual Season 11.

SPOILERS: Allusions to mytharc episodes prior to

Season 8, and to Virtual Season 10 mytharc

episodes. Specific reference near the end

of Act II to events in Circles and Patchwork.

SUMMARY: The case of a missing fourteen year old girl

forces some memories to surface, with

momentous results for Mulder.

THANKS: To everyone who supports the Virtual

Seasons, either by contributing their talent

or their feedback; and to the most amazing

bunch of women ever brought together by

the love of the work.

FEEDBACK: To the authors at the email addresses above,

and to the Virtual Season 10 feedback page

DISCLAIMER: You all know it, you’ve heard it a million

times. The X-Files, Fox Mulder, Dana

Scully = not ours, just borrowing, will return

to their ungrateful owners (Chris Carter,

1013 Productions, 20th Century Fox) when

we’re done.

DISTRIBUTION: This story belongs exclusively to the

Virtual Season 10 site for two weeks;

thereafter, please contact the authors for

permission to archive.

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TEASER

*It’s like being a child again, knowing the monsters in the

closet are real, hearing them scratch and scrabble in the

dark, and never being able to make anyone believe. I’m

fourteen years old, and still afraid to be alone. Afraid of

monsters that have escaped the confines of my closet to

roam my waking world. The worst nightmares are the ones

that find you even in the light of day.*

*Yet I risk the shadows whenever I can gather enough

courage. It’s the only control I still have over the spiraling

catastrophe my life has become. I sit in the dark, as I’m

doing now, with only the shaded desk lamp’s circle of light

to hold back the darkness. When it’s quiet like this, the

scratch of my pen against the soft ivory pages of my diary

gives me comfort. The childish fears I can’t bring myself to

tell anyone else, I can write here. Memories that come to

me only in flashes, I record in as much detail as possible.

Maybe someone will find this book someday, and begin to

understand. I still hope that reading these words over and

over may someday help *me* understand what’s happening

to me. Maybe even help me find a way to escape.*

In her right hand, she held hope in the form of an endless

stream of words that flowed in multi colored ink across the

page. In her left, she twisted a long strand of dark hair like

a child would do, looping the tress around her fingers until

it tugged against her scalp.

She caught a glimpse of herself in the vanity mirror, and

paused to study her reflection. The light coming from the

desk lamp gave her a spooky look, as if she were holding a

flashlight under her chin, ready to say “Boo!”. She twisted

her face into an experimental snarl that quickly dissolved

into quiet giggles.

“G’night, sweetheart.”

Her father’s voice from the doorway made her jump a foot.

She slapped the book shut and turned to show him a sunny

smile. “G’night, Daddy.”

“Don’t stay up too late. You’ve got school tomorrow.”

“I won’t, Daddy.” She knew he loved it when she called

him that. He thought she was too young to call him ‘Dad’.

As *if*. She kept the smile on her face until he closed the

door behind him. Then she opened the book and picked up

her pen.

*I know they’re coming for me again. I can feel them

getting closer, their thoughts reaching out for me in the

dark. I’m going to hide this book so they can’t find it. To

whoever is reading this now, I need your help.*

Maddie re-read the last entry and nodded. It would be her

final one, and she wanted it to be right. After a moment,

she closed the book and walked to the bed. Lifting one

corner of the duvet, she tucked the book between the

mattress and box spring. When she put the duvet back in

place, she made sure to leave a corner of the book poking

out.

She turned out the desk lamp, plunging the room into

darkness. Then, she sat down on the bed to wait.

* * * * *

Act I

Shelton, CT

April 23, 2003

11 AM

“Madison Sage Spencer, aged 14. Disappeared from her

home last night, hasn’t been seen since around ten PM. No

sign of forced entry, no signs of violence, no sign that any

of the girl’s things or anything else in the home is missing.

No one saw or heard anything.” Scully shut the file folder

and watched as the scenery on the Merritt Parkway flew

past.

“Madison? Sage? Isn’t anyone named Debbie or Susan

anymore?” Mulder glanced over at his partner, but she

noted that the gleam of mischief that normally would have

accompanied that kind of remark was absent from his eyes.

Missing children, thought Scully. Every time they went out

on a missing child case, he was a different person. Even

now she sensed the quip was more for her benefit, in its

way a kind of reassurance that so far, he was fine. But then,

they’d only had the case for a few hours. She took the

photograph from the dossier they had brought with them

from Washington that morning. The missing girl’s uncanny

resemblance to what Samantha surely would have looked

like at fourteen was already having its effect on her partner.

Usually one to hide his reactions, at least in front of

everyone but her, he had turned white as buttermilk and a

gasp had escaped his lips when Skinner first passed him the

photo.

She broke her silence. “Mulder, are you sure about this?”

He paused for a moment, opting not to say the first thing

that came to mind. It bothered him when it seemed as

though she felt he couldn’t be objective and professional on

this kind of case. And as a professional, and a damned good

agent at that, her concern about him stung. But he also

knew she was only thinking of his welfare, and he had to

admit there were times he was on the ragged edge….

“Mulder?”

“Sorry, Scully. Just thinking. In answer to your question,

yes, I’m sure about this. And even if I weren’t – who the hell

else are they going to give it to? Supposedly the girl had

told several friends that she was convinced she was about

to be abducted by aliens – and not for the first time. The

parents – not that I can blame them – are almost hoping that

is the case since it seems, to them anyway, a more bearable

alternative than what human monsters can do to girls of that

age.”

His partner sighed. “I know, Mulder. But –”

“I’ll be fine, Scully.” He glanced over, his expression

softening. “Really. And thanks.”

She gazed at his face before nodding tightly. She might be

able to believe his reassurance better if he didn’t look like

he had aged ten years since their meeting with Skinner

early that morning.

Mulder took the exit ramp and eased his way onto the main

road. Moving from suburbia to a more rural area, they

entered an expensive sub-division and drove slowly along

tree-lined roads bracketed by lovely houses set on perfectly

landscaped lots.

“Willow Brook Lane. This is it, Mulder. Turn left, then it’s

the fourth house on the right. Or so our directions say.”

The marked and unmarked law enforcement cars took up

nearly all the parking spots on the road. Mulder slipped into

the last spot, earning the glare of one of the residents. As

they approached the house, Scully could feel her partner

tensing with each step. Mulder rang the bell at the entryway

of the beautiful Georgian home.

A middle-aged man, dressed casually but expensively,

swung the door open.

“Mr. Spencer?”

“Yes?”

“I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder, and this is Special Agent

Dana Scully, from the FBI. We’re here about your

daughter’s disappearance.”

The man’s tired face lit up when he heard their names.

“Oh… you’re the experts Lieutenant Nickerson spoke of!

Please, come right in. Priss – they’re here!”

Flashing an astonished ‘Can you believe this?’ look at his

diminutive partner, he allowed her to lead the way into

huge living room, with its fieldstone fireplace and soffits

and skylights. They sank into the leather sectional and

Scully pulled out her notebook.

“Mr. Spencer, we have the report of the Shelton Police

Department on the statement you gave when you found that

Madison was missing. What else can you tell us?”

The man looked confused. “Like what? Everything

happened just the way I said. My wife went in because

Maddie hadn’t come out for breakfast, and found she was

gone….” The man’s voice broke and he took a second to

steady himself. “We were beside ourselves.”

“The police report said that Madison’s bed hadn’t been slept

in,” Mulder commented mildly.

“That’s right. She was there around ten o’clock last night,

because went in to say good night to her and she was there.

But for some reason, she never went to bed.”

“How can you be so sure, Mr. Spencer? This is very

important, because it may give us an idea about what time

Madison disappeared,” Scully reminded him.

“Oh, there’s no doubt. After she gets up, it looks like a

bomb hit her bed. You don’t know how many housekeepers

we’ve had that have commented on it,” Spencer said,

shaking his head. “But the duvet cover though – that was

just a little mussed, kind of pulled up at the corner. That’s

how I was able to find it.”

“Find it?” Scully prompted.

“Her diary. I found it peeking out from between the

mattress and the box spring. While we were waiting for the

police to come, I took a look, to see if maybe I could find

any clues.” The man flushed. “Normally, nothing could

make me invade Maddie’s privacy like that, but I guess I

was hoping that there might be something about a

boyfriend in there, someone she may have run off with. Not

that I would have been happy about that, but in view of the

alternatives…” He trailed off.

“And was there?” Mulder asked.

Grimly, Spencer shook his head. “No, nothing like that. I

gotta say, though, I wasn’t prepared for what Maddie had

written.”

“Tell us about that, Mr. Spencer.”

“Better than that, I can show you.” He went to a beautiful

writing desk that cost more than Mulder earned in two

months and scooped up a little book, presently residing in a

plastic evidence bag. “Here it is. Oh, Lieutenant Nickerson

— the FBI agents have arrived and need to see Maddie’s

diary.”

A tall, heavy-set man walked over and grasped Mulder’s

hand. “Nice to have an… er… expert with us on this one,

Agent Mulder.” The words were not quite genuine, but

Mulder was more accustomed to that than Spencer’s

comparatively effusive greeting.

“Thank you. About that diary…?”

Nickerson took the bag from Spencer and pulled the book

out. “It’s been dusted for prints. Nothing on it but

Madison’s. No reason you can’t use it.”

“Thanks. I’ll take it with me to look over later, if that’s

alright.”

The police lieutenant nodded his assent.

“Maddie says in her diary that she felt she was about to be

abducted by aliens. That she was abducted by them before

and had been returned,” Charles Spencer volunteered.

“And what do you think about that, Mr. Spencer?” Scully

asked neutrally.

“Well, my wife and I, I guess we’re more open-minded to

that sort of thing than most people. We’re believers, you

might say. I have been ever since my college days. Priss

and I even honeymooned in Roswell. We met at a

convention– Sorry, I’m rambling.”

“Priss is Mrs. Spencer? Maddie’s mother?” Scully asked,

jotting down notes.

“Well… yes to the former, no to the latter. Priss is my

second wife. Maddie’s mother is an international banker, in

the Far East at the moment. We’ve been trying to get in

touch with her. She left us when Maddie was about three.

They’ve never been particularly close. I married Priss

almost three years ago.”

Mulder pondered for a moment, then said, “Mr. Spencer,

we’re at a disadvantage here. What can you tell me about

Madison? Her likes and dislikes, interests, that sort of

thing?”

Spencer gestured for the policeman to take a chair and sat

back down himself. “Maddie is incredibly intelligent.

Gifted. Her IQ is over 170. Not that her grades reflect that.”

The man frowned briefly, then continued. “I think it’s just

that she’s so smart, it’s difficult for a school – any school –

to challenge her sufficiently to hold her interest.”

“Chuckie… you’ve got to be honest with them.” A lovely

blonde no older than thirty came into the room and

introduced herself to the occupants. “Hi, I’m Priscilla

Spencer,” she said, her words lightly inflected with a

Southern accent. “I’m so glad you’ve come to help us get

Maddie back. But you’ll have to forgive my husband.

Where Maddie’s concerned, it’s real hard for him to be

objective.”

“Priscilla! You know Maddie’s had it rough.”

“I know that, Chuckie, but that doesn’t excuse everything.

Maddie didn’t exactly approve of her Daddy’s marriage to

me at first,” Priscilla confided to the group. “She could be

real… well, difficult, you know? Teenagers can be tough at

the best of times, and under the circumstances…. Well, let’s

say Maddie was a challenge. But the past six months or so,

we’ve gotten to be friends. I really think she was coming

around.”

“I’m sure we understand how you feel, Mrs. Spencer,”

Scully said sympathetically. “You said Maddie could be

difficult. In what way?”

“Well, Chuckie’s right when he says that her intelligence

has sometimes made things hard for her. Hard to fit in with

other kids, that sort of thing. Even teachers sometimes

resented her. Maddie could be pretty tough if she thought

her teachers weren’t of her intellectual level. She gave me a

hard time at first, thinking I was a dumb bunny from

Nowhere, Georgia. But once I showed her my Mensa card,

she backed off a bit.”

If Scully hadn’t been sunken into the Italian leather couch,

she probably would have fallen over. She would have bet

Priscilla Spencer wouldn’t have known how to spell

‘Mensa’. Or ‘card’, for that matter.

Priss continued, “Frankly, having met some of her teachers,

I gotta say Maddie wasn’t far wrong in her assessment of

some of them. But she was also willful. I know what kids

can get up to at that age – I think I just about made my

Daddy’s hair turn white with some of the shenanigans I got

up to. But she could still… well, let’s just say that Chuckie

lets her get away with things I would have earned a real

whooping for, from my Daddy.”

“Kind of a handful.” Mulder smiled.

She nodded. “Exactly. But she’s Chuckie’s daughter, and

we want her back.”

“Do you think she might have run away?” ventured Scully.

Both the Spencers shook their heads. “My daughter has

lived a very sheltered life, Agent Scully,” Charles said. “I

don’t think she could catch a bus on her own. She’s

intelligent, but not in the least street-wise, and frankly, I

have coddled her. Not only do I think she wouldn’t have a

clue how to run away, but for the life of me, I can’t see why

she would want to. Leave all this?” He gazed around at the

evidence of wealth that surrounded him.

“What do you think about Maddie’s diary, Mrs. Spencer?”

Mulder asked.

Priscilla Spencer eyes opened wide. “I really don’t know

what to think, Agent Mulder. I mean, I believe that aliens

regularly visit our world, and have taken earthlings aboard

their space ships, and performed experiments on them. We

even talked to some of them at that last convention, didn’t

we, Chuckie? Talked to the abductees, I mean, not the

aliens. But to have that happening right here in our family?

I just don’t know. Maddie didn’t confide in us, but I doubt

she would. Not to me, anyway. Maybe to Chuckie.” There

was no failing to notice the touch of hurt in her tone.

Her husband shook his head. “She never mentioned

anything about aliens to me. But I did notice something in

her diary about the previous time she talked about, when

she said ‘They’ took her before – it was last summer when

she was at camp in the Adirondacks, so we wouldn’t have

been around in any case. And she never mentioned

anything about it after she came home from camp.”

Mulder nodded his understanding. “Mr. Spencer, what do

you do for a living?”

“I’m a stockbroker.”

The agent’s eyes scanned the room and its furnishings.

“You’ve done well in these unsettled times.”

The man nodded. “That’s because I have the sense to take

my own advice, Agent Mulder. Sometimes you have to

play the game conservatively. When your clients insist on

trying to revive the boom times single-handedly and think

they know more than their broker, bad things can happen.”

“Bad enough that one of them might think at getting back at

you through your daughter?”

He shook his head vehemently. “No. No way. Most of the

people I deal with can well afford to take a few losses,

Agent Mulder. There’ve been no threats, no unpleasantness

of any kind. If you like, I can put you in touch with the staff

in my office, and they’ll corroborate that.”

Mulder nodded. “And you, Mrs. Spencer?”

“I’m in IT. I design business software, working from home

so I can be here for Maddie and her younger brother

Kirkland. He’s with Chuckie’s sister right now. He was real

upset,” she explained earnestly.

As gently as she could, Scully said, “You both obviously

earn a good living. What makes you so sure that your

daughter wasn’t taken for ransom?”

The Spencers reached out for each other then, grasping

hands. “We’re praying that’s not it…. Of course, it’s not the

money – we’d give all we have to get her back. But we

know what the chances are of having her returned to us if

she was taken for ransom. That or if one of these s-sexual

p-p-predators—” Tears filled Priscilla’s eyes and she trailed

off. “We know it’s not good, and that the more time passes,

the less chance Maddie has. But if it’s something else, even

if it’s something bizarre or paranormal, well, then we can

have hope.”

Mulder stood, helping Scully fight her way out of the deep

couch. “Mr. and Mrs. Spencer, we will do everything in our

power to bring back your daughter. Now, if Lieutenant

Nickerson can show us Maddie’s room, we’ll take a look

and then we’ll be on our way. I’m sure he can fill us in on

the other information we need. We’ll stay in touch.”

The missing girl’s room conveyed the schizophrenia of

adolescence – side-by-side posters of Eminem and Stephen

Hawking, a small mob of stuffed animals warring for space

with issues of Cosmo and Marie Claire. Mulder scanned the

books in her bookcase and CDs in their rack while Scully

went through the girl’s dresser.

“Window?” he asked Nickerson.

“Locked, just like you see. We dusted for fingerprints and

came up with just the housekeeper’s and the girl’s. Nothing

in the flower beds beneath the window, and the ground is

soft enough that it would have taken a great impression, if

anyone had been around there. But – nothing.”

“Lieutenant Nickerson, you don’t really believe the girl was

taken by aliens, do you?” Scully asked.

Red-faced, the big man pulled at an ear. “Well… I guess

weirder things have happened – but not many. No, I’ll tell

ya, I was just about blown away when Mr. and Mrs.

Spencer told me about the diary and started going on about

aliens and all. I dunno. If it was Mr. and Mrs. Joe Blow, I

would have them figured for wackaloons. But these people

are upstanding members of the community and big

contributors to the local Police Athletic League. They’re

best buddies with the mayor, half of the town council, and

their State Senator, and they’re on a first name basis with

the Governor. So if Mr. Spencer tells me he wants to

explore all angles on this, including alien abduction, well

then, I’m gonna do it. I am not ignorant of the potential

political fallout from this. After all, I wasn’t born

yesterday.”

“I understand completely, Lieutenant,” Mulder said. “Now,

can you give us a list of her teachers, friends, anyone who

can give us some insight into Maddie?”

“Got it right here for you, including directions.”

“Thanks. Here’s my card, with my cell number. Call us if

you hear anything. You know, this is probably exactly what

it looks like – a kidnapping for ransom or some sexual

predator.”

“I know. I’ll call you, don’t worry.” He shook his head. “I

only wish it was aliens. But I haven’t lost sight of the fact

that it’s much more likely that some scumbag who should

have been locked away years ago probably took her. We

have the men of five local police departments beating the

bushes for this girl. If we turn up anything, you’ll be the

first to know.” He hesitated for a moment. “What do you

make of it, though – what she wrote in the diary?”

Mulder smiled slightly. “Nothing yet. But I’m working on

it.”

*******

Six hours later, they wearily picked up food from a diner

and headed back to the motel. Their interviews with

Madison Spencer’s teachers and friends had left them no

closer to solving the girl’s disappearance. Her friends

characterized her as smart and usually fun, but with a wild

streak that was unnerving at times. All mentioned that

Maddie had started talking about aliens and her fears about

being abducted a few weeks previous. They thought at the

time she was just trying to get attention.

Madison’s teachers were a different matter. While

obviously shocked and dismayed that the girl was missing,

they were straightforward to the point of bluntness in their

opinions of her – and ‘difficult’ was about the most

restrained comment concerning her behavior.

The exhausted agents entered their rooms, then opened the

communicating doors between them, accustomed by this

time to the charade they needed to maintain. Scully kicked

off her heels and Mulder dispensed with his tie. Then they

sat down at the table in Mulder’s room to eat.

“So what do you think?”

Tiredly, he shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t know

what to think. I’ll know better when I’ve spent some time

looking at the girl’s diary. I have a feeling all the answers

are there, Scully. In the diary.”

Scully sighed. Mulder already looked like he hadn’t slept in

weeks, and this was only the beginning. If it turned out the

girl had been taken by a sexual predator…. Hell, even if she

had been taken by aliens, would that be any better for

Mulder? Could he deal with that result any better, after

what happened to his sister? “Mulder….”

“No – it’s all right, Scully. Really. I’m okay. Maybe I’m

just deluding myself, but I have a feeling about this case.

Now, why don’t you finish dinner, shower and then we can

journal.”

She closed the cover of the white styrofoam box, not even

pretending to eat what she had no appetite for, and stood.

“You’re going to stay up all night, aren’t you?”

He picked up the girl’s diary. “Only if I have to….”

******

AmeriSuites Hotel

Shelton, CT

April 24, 2003

7:20 am

Scully awoke and stretched, her hand coming into contact

with the cool sheets beside her. Groaning, she remembered

coming out of the shower the previous night, looking

forward to that ‘together’ time Mulder had promised, to find

him already completely engrossed in Madison Spencer’s

diary. She surrendered to the inevitable and had watched

some inane movie on TV until she drifted off to sleep.

She sat up, not at all surprised to see her partner in the chair

he had occupied since they had returned to the motel. His

head was thrown back and he was softly snoring, the diary

dangling precariously from his hand. Finally, it fell to the

floor with a soft thud, but it was enough to wake him.

“Gmph…. Oh, g’morning, Scully.”

She sighed. “Good morning yourself. You know, Mulder,

you can’t help anyone if you run yourself into the ground–”

“Yes, Dr. Scully.” He grinned at her – a real grin, for the

first time in over twenty four hours.

She cocked her head to the side suspiciously. “Mulder?”

“Yes?”

“You’ve figured it out, haven’t you? And it’s not what we

thought.”

Smiling, he nodded. “Help yourself to some of the in-room

coffee, made not more than…” he consulted his watch

“…two hours ago. Then come and join me and see if I made

any major blunders in reasoning.”

Scully pulled on a tee shirt. Crossing to the bureau, she

drained the little pot, pouring coffee for both of them. She

sat at the table and pushed his cup across to him.

“Okay – here’s the diary. Examine it, read it, whatever. I’ll

wait.”

She did so, as she did everything – carefully, deliberately,

thoughtfully. Finally, she looked up at Mulder.

He was stretched back in his chair, his long legs straight out

in front of him. “So… what did you notice?”

“The handwriting,” she replied without hesitation. He

nodded encouragingly and she went on. “It changes with

each entry – the pen color changed from black to blue to

lavender and green and back again, the handwriting was

slightly larger and rushed-looking in one entry, smaller and

neater in another, but all done with the same hand.”

“And from that you infer…?”

“It’s too perfect, Mulder. Too… conscious, I guess would be

the word. This is exactly what I would expect to see if an

intelligent person were trying to pull a fast one. Based on

what I see here, I would say Maddie Spencer sat down and

wrote all the entries in this diary over a very short period of

time – a few hours or a few days, perhaps, but certainly not

over the ten months supposedly recorded in this journal.”

Mulder smiled. “My take on it precisely, Dr. Scully.”

“So you’re thinking she set up her own disappearance?”

Mulder nodded.

“And I agree. So that lets out the alien angle, which is what

she wanted everyone to believe, for some reason. Maybe

thinking that we wouldn’t be looking for her if we thought

she had been taken by aliens, and she would have more

time to cover her tracks. She might even be thinking of

trying to pull some sort of a ransom scam on her parents.

But Mulder, that doesn’t completely rule out her having

been grabbed by some deviant. Or someone out to get her

parents, for that matter.”

Mulder stood and stretched, then began peeling off the

clothes he had worn for over twenty four hours. “Yeah,

that’s true… but that would be one hell of a coincidence,

don’t you think? That on the very night she’s planning to

run away, she gets grabbed by someone out to get her

parents? No, Scully, I think the only person out to get Mr.

and Mrs. Spencer is Maddie. She’s acting out a lot of anger

and frustration and teenage angst, some of it justifiable,

some of it the product of a spoiled rich kid with too much

intelligence and too little discipline.” He frowned. “Not that

she’s necessarily any safer. Charles Spencer said his

daughter wasn’t street-wise. If he’s right, she may have

managed to find herself in a world of hurt by now.”

“So what are we going to do?”

He flipped her his cell phone. “Call Lieutenant Nickerson.

Tell him to put out an APB on the girl in Hartford, New

York City, and Bridgeport. And in New Haven, which is

where we’ll be looking for her. Tell him to concentrate on

areas favored by runaways. Oh – and tell him she may have

disguised herself. I would look for short blond hair.”

“So that’s what *I’m* going to do. What are *you* going to

do?”

He pushed his boxers down over his hips, kicking them on

top of his other discarded clothes, and pulled her into his

arms. “I am going to take a long, hot, very overdue shower.

And then, Agent Scully, you have a choice – food at the

diner down the road, or something even more overdue and

satisfying….”

******

It was a bit more than ninety minutes later that they began

slowly driving along Chapel Street. The huge number of

Yalies basking in the Spring sunshine in front of the

University Art Gallery made their task both easier and

harder. While it was difficult trying to find Maddie among

so many other young girls, there was no shortage of people

to show the missing girl’s photo to. Finally, after it seemed

they had interviewed everyone under the age of twenty-five

in New Haven, they struck paydirt.

“Yeah, I’ve seen her.” The young man handed the

photograph back to Mulder. “My girlfriend, Beth, is getting

her PhD in Sociology. She works with runaways, and

sometimes brings one or two of them back to sleep at her

place – especially when they’re really young and she

figures they’ll get into big trouble without someone looking

out for them. We were supposed to go out and catch

“Bowling for Columbine” at a midnight show last night, but

she showed up with this kid and another girl, and begged

off. Said she didn’t want to leave them, thought they’d take

off.”

“Do you know where she is now?” Scully asked.

The young man stole a look at his watch. “It’s still pretty

early. You might catch them at her place. Otherwise try the

Runaway Center run by St. Raphael’s.”

Mulder got the addresses and directions from the student,

and thanked him. It was only a five minute walk to the

brownstone that housed Beth’s apartment. “Ah, the life of a

student, Scully. Only students and musicians think eleven

in the morning is ‘early’.”

“Let’s hope we’re early enough to get the worm, Mulder.”

They were about to climb the steps to the brownstone when

Scully glanced up the sidewalk. She broke into a sprint

towards three female figures who were strolling away from

her. “Beth!”

One of the females stopped, and turned questioningly. Her

companions waited, but were obviously impatient to be on

their way.

Scully caught up with the trio. “Hey Beth, remember me?”

The pretty brunette smiled but shook her head. “I’m sorry, I

can’t quite place….”

Scully returned her smile. “No, I’m sure you can’t.” With a

lightning quick move, her hand encircled the wrist of one

of Beth’s companions, a young-looking girl with a very bad

blond wig. Instinctively, the girl tried to pull away.

“What the hell do you-” Beth began angrily, glaring at

Scully.

Mulder skidded to a stop by the group, brandishing his

badge. “Ma’am, we’re Federal agents. This girl is Madison

Spencer, missing from her home and up to now, presumed

kidnapped.”

Beth took his badge and examined the ID carefully before

handing it back to him.

“Fox Mulder, Dana Scully,” Mulder said by way of

introduction. “Your boyfriend told us about your bringing a

young runaway in off the streets last night. We were hoping

it might be Maddie.”

“Maddie’s parents undoubtedly owe you a debt of

gratitude,” Scully told the student. “As do you, Maddie.”

“Why don’t you go fuck yourself,” the girl replied sullenly.

She pulled the wig off and ran a hand through her dark hair,

fluffing it.

Mulder sighed. “Not the witty repartee I would have

expected from seeing your Stanford-Benet scores, Maddie.”

* * * * *

ACT II

Yale New Haven Medical Center

April 24, 2003

6:44 pm

When they got to the medical center, Maddie’s father was

waiting just inside the ER door with Priss at his side. The

man was shaky with relief, as Mulder expected. The step-

mother’s reaction to the news was much more equivocal.

Standard procedure called for a medical examination,

which Maddie steadfastly refused to permit. Her father

expressed his wishes firmly but gently.

“Sweetheart, we have to make sure you’re all right.” He

placed himself pointedly between his daughter and his

wife. Priss looked as if she wanted to slap some sense into

her stepdaughter. Maddie was playing to the FBI agents,

but some of her tirade was most certainly aimed at her

father’s wife.

“What for? I hope you don’t think you’re making sure I’m

still a virgin, because that ship sailed a LONG time ago.”

She crossed her arms and stuck out her chin. It made her

look very much like her father.

Mulder saw the flush rise in the man’s face, but he kept his

voice calm and steady. Years of practice, Mulder supposed,

dealing with his daughter’s defiance. “You’re not

impressing anyone with this, Maddie. Go into the exam

room and behave yourself. We’ll wait for you.”

She went, but not without gracing everyone in her

immediate vicinity with a withering look. When the door

closed behind her, there was a communal sigh of relief.

Charles Spencer turned to the two agents with a pained

expression that Mulder could completely understand. The

man would have to take that hostile bundle of teen angst

home with him. “Agent Mulder. Agent Scully,” he shook

their hands in turn. “I don’t know how to thank you.”

Scully smiled. “There’s no need, Mr. Spencer. We’re very

happy to have helped.”

The man nodded. “We have a long road ahead of us, I’m

afraid. I guess we haven’t paid enough attention to her, and

this is the result.”

Mulder doubted the problem was a lack of attention, but he

let it pass. “She’s a very strong-willed young woman, but

there’s a lot of potential there. You might work on

redirecting all that creative energy into something more

positive,” Mulder offered.

Charles Spencer surprised them all with a chuckle. “Agent

Mulder, you are being much too generous, but I appreciate

the sentiment.”

He and Scully made their escape a few minutes later. They

still had another hour or so of reports to file before it was

truly all over, but just being outside in the warm afternoon

sunshine was having a decidedly positive effect. He saw

Scully from the corner of his eye, watching him stretch the

kinks out of his back. She looked more relieved than

‘Chuckie’ Spencer. “What?”

She suddenly looked self-conscious. “I–.” Whatever she

was going to say got edited somewhere between her heart

and her mouth. “Do you have the car keys? I want to

drive.”

He studied her face for a moment, then dug the keys from

his pants pocket and dropped them in her upturned palm.

She’d been worried about him. He didn’t have to quiz her to

know that. “You can drive if I can pick where we eat

dinner.”

She rolled her eyes, of course. “Chili dogs and cheese fries.

God help us all.”

That wasn’t what he had in mind, but he let her suffer for

awhile. It served her right for giving him such a hard time.

He waited until they were leaving the field office, reports

properly filed, before he gave her the name of his chosen

restaurant. Her entire face lit up with delighted

astonishment.

“Mulder! Real food?” That smile could make up for just

about anything.

“Cheese fries *are* real food.” He couldn’t resist one last

jab.

Mulder gave her directions to the restaurant, then called

ahead to make a last minute reservation. Their luck was

holding, because the maitre ‘d was able to seat them

immediately. The atmosphere was perfect, the food

wonderful. Scully had given him a vaguely alarmed look

when he gave the waiter his selection, but she’d kept her

comments to herself. He’d ordered the weirdest entree he

could find, just to get that very look from her. It was worth

a little heartburn, he decided.

It was almost ten o’clock when they got back to their motel.

Scully had let him drive, and she was sound asleep by the

time they arrived. He considered carrying her in, but

thought better of it immediately. She’d have his head on a

stick, but the mental image of her tucked in his arms made

him smile like an idiot. That was the expression she saw

when her eyes opened a moment later.

“Do I dare ask what prompted that look?” She looked at

him, one eyebrow arched as she unsnapped the seat belt.

His grin broadened. “I don’t think you’d like the answer.”

She gave him a playful smack on the arm and got out of the

car. It was a beautiful night, pleasantly cool with a soft

breeze, and he wondered if they could sleep with the

windows open. Cuddled under the covers, sharing body

heat. His grin was beginning to make his face ache.

“Hey, Scully! Where are you going?” She was headed for

her own door. When he called to her, she looked back over

her shoulder but didn’t slow down.

“I need a shower, Mulder.” She wrinkled her nose at him.

“And so do you.” And with that, she was inside. The door

closed softly behind her.

Mulder stood in the parking lot, hands on his hips, mouth

hanging open in shock. The door opened again a moment

later, and Scully peeked out at him wearing a very familiar

smile. “Mulder, you are *so* easy. Get over here.”

Evil woman. Evil. “Yes, ma’am.”

* * * *

AmeriSuites Hotel

Shelton, CT

April 25, 2003

1:34 am

Scully was awakened by soft murmurs that escalated into

cries of distress before she could untangle herself from his

arms enough to raise up and look at his face. “Mulder,

wake up. You’re dreaming.” She touched his forehead and

his eyes snapped open, wild and unfocused. “Mulder, it’s

me. It’s all right. It’s just a dream.” She said it over and

over, stroking his face as his breathing slowed.

He turned his head, finally looking at her with concern.

“Are you all right? What’s wrong?”

“Mulder, I’m fine. You were having a nightmare.”

His expression moved from concern to confusion. He

pulled away from her gently and sat up against the

headboard, scrubbing at his face with both hands. “I woke

you up.”

She sat up, too. “It’s okay. Do you want to talk about it?”

clip_image002

“In a minute.” He shivered and pulled the sheet up to his

chest. “In a minute,” he said again, very softly.

Scully brushed the backs of her fingers over his cheek,

thinking he might have a fever. His skin was cool and dry.

Not a fever, then. Shock? From a dream? “I’ll get you some

water.” She got up and headed for the bathroom.

“She came to me, Scully. My mother.”

The matter-of-fact way he said it sent a chill down her

back. She stopped and came back to the bed. “You were

dreaming about your mother?”

“No… I … I don’t know.” He hugged his arms tight to his

body and shuddered. “I’m cold.”

She took the blanket from the foot of the bed and wrapped

it around him. Mulder clutched at it, pulling it around his

shoulders. Scully sat down on the edge of the bed next to

him, rubbing his arm trying to warm him. “What do you

remember?”

“I thought I was just remembering when I saw her in the

woods after the accident.” He touched the cast on his left

wrist, as if she might not remember the night two weeks

ago, or the accident that had nearly killed them both. “But it

wasn’t that.”

He went silent again, staring into space until she squeezed

his shoulder. “Mulder, talk tome.”

The blank stare swung over to her, coming slowly into

focus. “This is different, Scully. I don’t know how to

describe what I’m feeling.”

Nightmares were nothing new, though they had become

much less frequent over the past couple of years. She was

an old hand at seeing him through their aftermaths. But

this… this was something completely outside her

experience. “Let me give you a sedative, Mulder. Just a

mild one, so you can sleep.”

He was shaking his head before she finished speaking. “No

pills. Scully, I need to work through this.” Before she

could react, he was out of bed and across the room, picking

up her laptop from the desk. “I’ll just take this in the other

room so you can sleep.”

Even for him, it was a stunningly abrupt mood swing. He

was halfway to the connecting door before she found her

voice. “Wait.”

He stopped and turned around. “Go to sleep, Scully. I’m all

right. I just need to think.” He smiled. “I’ll come back to

bed when I’m finished.”

“You won’t leave?” She’d meant it as a statement of fact,

but it came out a question.

“I won’t leave. Get some rest.” He opened the connecting

door and stepped into the other room. Before she could say

good night, he closed the door softly behind him.

She lay down on the bed on Mulder’s side, surrounded by

his sleep-warm scent. The television came on next door,

broadcasting a snippet of music before the volume was

muted. She fell asleep to the sound of keys tapping in the

other room.

When she opened her eyes again, the room was filled with

sunlight, and the bed next to her was still empty– or empty

again, she wasn’t sure which.. Scully rolled over and put

her hand on the rumpled sheets. Cold. And no water

running in the shower. She raised up on one elbow to look

around.

The connecting door was closed. He’d probably decided to

sleep in his own bed rather than risk waking her again.

Or, he could be gone.

A rush of panic drove her out of bed. She went quickly to

the door, pressed her ear against it, and listened. He was

tapping keys again. Or still. She opened the door.

“Have you been up all night–” She started toward him, but

he looked up with an expression that froze her in place.

“Mulder, what…?”

He turned the laptop so she could see the screen, then he

stepped back and watched as she read the first few lines.

It was a medical information web site, and the topic

displayed made her heart sink.

“Paget’s disease, Scully.”

“I see that.” She also saw how upset he was, despite the

calm facade. “Why are you doing this to yourself?”

“Why didn’t you tell me the truth?”

She felt the ground shift under her feet. “What are you

talking about?”

“I remembered what woke me up, Scully. My mother

whispering in my ear. Not tonight, and not in the woods a

few weeks ago. It was three years ago, when I was in

Sacramento with Harold Piller. Do you want to know what

she said?”

She’d heard that tone many times over the years, watching

him interrogate a suspect. Never directed at her. “Yes, I’d

like to know what she said.”

“There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

Scully waited for the punch line. “And?”

“I told you back then that she was trying to tell me

something. Do you remember that?”

“Of course.”

He snorted. “You remember telling me I was imagining it?”

“Mulder, where is all this going?”

“She left me something, Scully. That’s what she was trying

to tell me. Something that will explain what happened to

Samantha. What happened to you. To me. I don’t know

what it is yet, but I’m going to find out.”

The Spencer case could not have put him in this frame of

mind. Then, what…? “Why are you doing this to yourself?”

“I had a lot of help.” His voice was dangerously soft.

“What are you saying?”

“Paget’s isn’t a death sentence.” He gestured at the

computer screen. “My mother could have lived for years

before developing any of the debilitating symptoms.

*Years*, Scully. Why didn’t you tell me the truth?” He

walked to the unused bed and sat down heavily. His voice

fell to a whisper. “Why didn’t you just tell me the truth?”

“Mulder, I… I told you what I believed. I still believe it.

Your mother killed herself because–”

“–was *made* to kill herself, Scully. Just like Greta

Wilson and all those other women in Clayville. Those

women had– were *given*– the same disease my mother

had. We know their suicides took place after they received

phone calls. Suicides that came as a total shock to their

families. Just like my mother. How can you not see what

I’m seeing?”

Deep breath. “Okay. Let’s say for the sake of argument that

there is a connection. Tell me how that leads you to

conclude that your mother left you some secret

information?”

He was shifting his weight from one foot to the other,

impatience in every line of his body. “Scully, I can’t tell

you why I’m so certain. I just am.”

She took a step toward him, but he was already moving.

He grabbed his suitcase and coat from the bed. She hadn’t

even noticed that he was packed. “You can take a cab to the

airport. I’m taking the rental car.”

He had his hand on the doorknob before she found her

voice. “Mulder.” He stopped and turned around. “Where

are you going?”

“To my mother’s house in Greenwich. It’s about 45 minutes

west of here. If I don’t find anything there, I’m going to

Quonochontaug.” He pulled the door open. “I’ll call you.”

“Let me come with you.” She was already mentally packing

her suitcase.

“I’m not planning to do anything stupid, Scully. Please trust

me to work this out on my own.”

Her instincts were screaming at her to stop him, but the

plea in his eyes overrode them. “Are you sure you’re all

right?”

“I’ll call you,” he repeated. And then he was gone.

* * * *

Greenwich, CT

8:50 am

Scully had told him once that the human mind naturally

seeks meaningful patterns and configurations in things that

don’t inherently have them. *Mulder, if you’re given the

suggestion of a particular image, you can’t help but see that

shape somewhere.*

That was what she thought he was doing now, he knew.

Searching for meaning in his mother’s death by suggesting

to himself that she’d left him something after all. That she

hadn’t just erased herself from his life without a backward

glance.

He’d spent the past forty minutes telling himself Scully was

wrong.

The house looked exactly as it had the last time he was

here. It had been spring then, too, the air scented soft green

with the promise of summer. He’d returned from his

mother’s funeral, emptied out the refrigerator, hauled the

non-perishables to a local food bank, and locked the door

forever. He’d contacted a realtor the next day, intent on

getting rid of this house as well as the ones in West Tisbury

and Quonochontaug. It would be his break from the past.

One that had been long overdue.

Except that he couldn’t do it. After several broken

appointments, the realtor had come to the same conclusion

and stopped calling. Mulder arranged for someone to come

in twice a month to keep the dust under control, hired a

lawn service to maintain the grounds, and renewed his

promise never to set foot here again.

Fate, it seemed, had other plans.

The contrast between the warm spring sunshine and the

shadowy stillness inside the house made him shiver. He

walked through the living room into the kitchen, opening

drapes as he went, letting in shafts of sunlight that pushed

back the chill. He stopped in the doorway.

The tape was gone. The oven door was closed. All evidence

of his mother’s death was erased, but the images were

burned into his memory. Her body had been found here on

the floor in front of the oven, her face turned toward the

open door. *Placed here facing the door.* He had suspected

it then. He was certain of it now. All he needed was the

proof she left for him.

He searched the drawers and cabinets, then moved to the

basement, pawing through boxes and crates, through stacks

of newspaper and shelves filled with the long-forgotten

miscellany of his mother’s life. In the storage nook under

the stairs, he rediscovered an Electrovac Princess vacuum

cleaner and the memories that went with it. He put the

cleaner and the memories back where they belonged and

headed upstairs.

He looked behind picture frames, inside lampshades, under

the sofa and chair cushions. He rifled the contents of every

drawer; every closet. Upstairs, he removed the mattresses

on all four beds, upended furniture, and tapped on every

wall looking for hidden panels. When he had looked in

every conceivable hiding place, he went back to the

beginning and started again.

He was on his third tour of the basement when he heard

something upstairs. Footsteps coming toward the basement

door. He was halfway up the stairs, gun in hand, when the

door opened.

“Who’s down there!?” A very frightened female voice. The

woman was backlit by the sunshine streaming in the

kitchen behind her.

“It’s okay. I own the house.” He holstered his weapon and

raised both hands. “You’re Mrs. Harrison, right? I hired

you.”

She flipped the light on, one hand pressed to her breast.

“You scared me half to death!” She backed up as he

reached the top of the stairs. “I called the police when I saw

the mess.” She held up her cell phone.

“Then I guess we better call them back.”

As he said the words, someone began banging on the front

door. With a heavy sigh, he went to answer it. Even after he

identified himself to everyone’s satisfaction, he was the

object of some very odd looks. There was no disguising the

chaos he’d made of the living room, after all, and no good

explanation he could offer for creating it. He simply let

them think what they obviously thought, and bade them a

good afternoon. Judging by the expression on Mrs.

Harrison’s face as she was leaving, he would be in the

market for a new housekeeper.

Mulder closed the door and wandered back to the kitchen,

stepping around the mess. He was going in circles here

with no idea what he was looking for, though his

conviction that ‘it’ existed hadn’t wavered. It could be

photographs. Or a tape recording. Or letters. Papers of

some kind.

A *journal*. How could he have forgotten? He knew she

had kept diaries when she was a girl. She’d actually showed

them to him one fall afternoon when he was helping her

clean out the attic. A whole box full of leather-bound

dreams. He’d also watched her burn them, one by one in the

living room fireplace, a few months after Samantha had

disappeared. Might she not have kept one as an adult? A

private place where she could confide all the pain and rage

she could share with no one else?

There was nothing here. He was sure of that. If she’d

realized she was in danger, she would have hidden the

journal. Quonochontaug would be the perfect place to do

just that. Close enough to still be accessible, but away from

the first place they would look.

Scully would be on her way back in D.C. by now.

Worrying. Or thinking about having him committed. He

pulled out his cell phone and punched speed dial 1. As he

waited for voice mail to pick up, he tried to mute his

excitement. She already thought he was on the edge. Her

recorded voice spoke in his ear, soothing him. He waited

for the beep. “Scully, it’s me. I’m still here in Greenwich,

but I’m leaving for Quonochontaug in a few minutes. I

know what I’m looking for now. I can’t believe it took me

this long to figure it out, but I’m sure there’s a journal. I’ll

call you when I get back tomorrow night. Don’t worry.”

That last part was wishful thinking. He knew she’d worry

until she saw him again. He hung up the phone and stuffed

it back in his pocket.

Mulder made one final pass through the house, securing

doors and windows. Mrs. Harrison… or her replacement…

could do the rest. He pulled the drapes shut again on his

way out.

******

ACT III

Quonochontaug, RI

April 25, 2003

7:12 pm

Mulder pulled the car into the gravel drive, allowing the

vehicle’s momentum to carry it almost to the door of the

weathered garage-workshop before turning off the engine.

He got out and took a deep, appreciative breath of the air,

redolent with the scents of sea and conifer and Spring.

Grabbing his overnight bag and a sack of groceries from

the trunk, he crunched up the gravel pathway to the

summer cottage that had for so long been in his family.

Now it was his, to do with as he pleased. Positioned on the

water, with its own strip of private beach and little dock, it

would have sold for a small fortune, even in a rotten

economy. But Mulder didn’t need the money, and in truth,

he was tempted to keep the summer house. Both he and

Scully could use a refuge from Washington and the

frustrations of their jobs. And he knew how fond his

partner was of the sea. They could get a small sailboat and

generally live an idyllic existence. But before the cottage

could become that refuge for them, the ghosts already in

residence had to be exorcised.

And one of the keys to that exorcism was finding out what

his mother was trying to tell him – about her death and

possibly so much else.

He took a deep breath, as if to fortify himself against the

memories within, and unlocked the door. Inside, the air

smelled stale and musty, mute testimony to the fact that the

housekeeper had not been in for several weeks. Putting the

bags on the table by the door, he cracked open two of the

living room windows, despite the chill of the oncoming

dusk. Quickly and purposefully, he moved from room to

room, removing dust sheets and opening windows, as if just

by those acts he could dispel the ghosts that resided there.

He brought his bag into his old room, the bed now looking

ridiculously small for his tall, lanky frame. Still, it would

have to do. Nothing could have induced him to move to the

more spacious bed in his parent’s old bedroom.

He took the groceries – mostly microwavable fast food –

into the kitchen, and put them away on autopilot. The

utilities were on, as his mother had always found it more

convenient to be able to drop in at the summer house

whenever she wanted without having to arrange for the

power and water to be turned on each time. Mechanically,

he ground some coffee, dumped it into a filter and poured

water into the coffeemaker. But rather than on these

mundane tasks, his mind was focused on his epiphany….

She had been there – in the driving snow and sleet and

bitter cold. He had seen his mother and she had truly been

there, talking to him, prodding him, telling him where to

go. Saving his life….

He frowned in frustration. As always, his visual memory

was better than his aural one. He had been barely

conscious, his injuries and hypothermia making it so hard

for him to move and to think. But he remembered

everything about what he had seen – what she was wearing,

how her hair looked, her face. However, as his injuries

from the accident and hypothermia faded, so had his

memory of what he had heard, of precisely what it was that

she had said to him. And somehow, he felt that it was very

important that he remember.

He poured a mug of the coffee that was now ready and took

it into the living room and sat down. ‘There are none so

blind as they who will not see….’ He remembered that.

Mulder grimaced as he swallowed the steaming hot brew.

Next time be a little less vague, Mom. If you want me to do

something, just tell me straight out. And if you want me to

find something, tell me where the hell it is….

Maybe her words to him had no meaning, maybe he was

making too much out of it. It was a quotation, but not so

unusual in its context, after all. She had been reaming him

out for… something. Something he wasn’t doing, or seeing.

Yeah, seeing. Something she wanted him to see, but he

couldn’t. Something about…. Yes, the pictures of himself

and his sister. Why she had burned them. And her death…

and the fact that it was not as it seemed.

Well, he had always surmised that. He had fought against

the evidence that his partner had obtained from the autopsy,

not able to bring himself to believe that his mother had

killed herself. Teena Mulder’s life had not been easy,

despite the fact that she always had all the material wealth

she might want. Marriage to his father – talk about a tough

life! Mulder snorted bitterly. What the hell had she ever

seen in him, he wondered. Losing a daughter, the strained

relationship with her son. Then the divorce, which was a

prolonged and ugly affair. Years of living on her own. And

then the stroke. But she was strong, she had gone through

all those terrible experiences, and had survived them. So it

had been hard to think she had killed herself, without a

final goodbye to him and leaving so much between them

unsaid. But inexorably, Scully’s logic and the terrible

diagnosis his mother had been given wore him down, and

created enough doubt that he began to believe that she had

committed suicide rather than face a long, painful,

undignified death.

Once again, as he had throughout the drive to Rhode Island,

Mulder thought about his conviction that his mother had

left a journal. He’d been so confident a few hours ago, but

now he was second-guessing himself. Maybe it was an

after-effect of the Spencer case. If his mother kept a diary,

why the hell hadn’t she mentioned it to him, either before

her death, or when she came from beyond the grave to save

his life several weeks ago? ‘There are none so blind as they

who will not see’. Great. How about ‘Hey Fox, I have a

diary with all the answers you’ve been looking for, and it’s

hidden in the cookie jar on the kitchen shelf of the summer

house’? Now *that* would have been helpful….

Suddenly the anger of a childhood full of accumulated

heartbreaks brimmed over. Mulder put his mug down with

a thud that sloshed coffee over the sides. “Enough!” he said

aloud. “I’ve been over it and over it. I don’t know what the

hell she expects me to see. You hear that, Mom? I don’t

know what you want me to find!” He held his head in his

hands, letting himself begin to sink into the lethargy of

depression. But as always, the arguments and doubts kept

springing unbidden into his mind.

If she were the type to kill herself, she would have done it

long ago. Teena Mulder was many things, not all of them

good, but she was not a coward. Her visitation, what she

said, and the fact that she was annoyed with him – oh, yes,

that had come through loud and clear from beyond the

grave – they all had to be for a reason. The many shared

aspects of her death with those of the quilters in New

Jersey should have set off alarm bells immediately.

He surged to his feet. No! I’ll tear this place apart,

searching for whatever the hell it is, he decided. If by then I

haven’t found it, then maybe Scully was right, maybe there

wasn’t anything to find. Or maybe whatever it was, was

found and destroyed by the people who killed her. But I’ll

be damned if I give up on this before I’ve finished.

He headed for the basement. Let’s apply some organization

to this, he mused to himself. Treat it like the search of a

crime scene. Start from the bottom up, missing nothing.

The basement was unused, for the most part. So close to the

shoreline, it was impossible to keep dampness out of the

cellar or anything stored down there. So it had just been a

place for him and Samantha to play when the weather was

too inclement for them to go out to run off the excess

energy of childhood, and their mother was trying to get

some peace and quiet. Which she required frequently,

Mulder now remembered. He wasn’t really expecting to

find anything down there, and he wasn’t surprised when he

didn’t.

He climbed the stairs and walked to the furthest end of the

house, down the hall to the last room – Samantha’s. As in

the basement, he was pretty sure he was wasting his time

here. His mother had barely been able to bring herself to

enter the room after Samantha was taken. She hadn’t even

packed up her daughter’s belongings from the summer

house, but had merely instructed the housekeeper to bundle

them up and give them to one of the charities in town.

Mulder doubted his mother would have spent enough time

in the unnaturally silent and empty room to hide anything

in there. And unless she had become sufficiently handy

with power tools as to create a secret panel in the wall,

there wasn’t much there to hide anything in. He checked the

small closet and dresser, more to be thorough than because

he really expected anything to be there.

Next was his parent’s bedroom, but he moved to the

opposite side of the hall to his room instead. It was as if

time had frozen. The Mulders hadn’t been back as a family

after Samantha’s disappearance and the subsequent divorce

several months later. While his sister’s room had been

cleared out, his remained as he remembered it the summer

he was eleven, before everything had gone to hell. His

model planes, the microscope, the magic set – all were still

neatly arranged on the shelves. The thin layer of dust was

the only testimony that the items had not been placed there

that very morning. He tore his mind from the past with an

effort.

He started with the closet, but there was nothing there but a

collection of old sneakers on the floor, a long-outgrown suit

hanging on the rack, and stacks of board games on the shelf

above. Then he went around the room clockwise –

scanning, touching, and shifting everything he came into

contact with – from floor to ceiling. Again, he found

nothing to raise his suspicions.

He took deep, steadying breath before turning the know to

the door of his parents’ bedroom. He could feel the echo of

his parents’ unhappiness and disastrous marriage every time

he sent foot in this room. In truth, he felt almost like

bolting, so great was the feeling of misery emanating from

the place. Or, he admitted to himself, it’s your imagination,

coupled with having a pretty miserable childhood largely

caused by two unhappy people who should never have had

children. He steeled himself, and again did a painstaking

examination of the room, including lifting the mattress to

check for anything hiding between it and the box spring, as

he had in the other rooms. But nothing there or in the

contents of the drawers and closets was what he was

looking for, and there were no secret compartments in

either floors or walls.

He gave a cursory check of the bathroom, checking for

loose tiles that might hide a space large enough to hide

something in, and finding nothing unusual. Then he went

into the kitchen.

There, the myriad cabinets and drawers lent themselves

perfectly to hiding things. Feeling the pressure to find what

his mother wanted him to find, fearing that he would be

unable to, made his search more frenetic. Any attempt at

neatness was abandoned as drawers were now pulled out

and their contents dumped unceremoniously out onto the

kitchen table. After pawing through the pile, he dumped the

contents back into the drawer, ordered sufficiently only so

that they could be slid back into the hole in the woodwork

they had come out of. Everything that had been in the

cabinets was put on the kitchen counter. Mulder climbed on

a stool to be able to reach back into the furthest confines of

the cabinet, his hands sweeping every surface, vainly

looking for anything that might have been hidden there.

Finally, he stood with his hands on his hips, surveying the

mess around him with annoyance and growing doubt. If

what he was looking for wasn’t in Greenwich, and it wasn’t

here, then he was at a loss as to where else he might be able

to look for it. It had to be here. It had to.

By now it was dark, and the air blowing in from the open

windows was chilly. He lowered the windows and snapped

on the lamps in the living room, not bothering to draw the

curtains. He looked around the room. Short of taking a

knife to the comfortably upholstered couches and chairs,

there wasn’t a lot to search through here. He moved the

cushions and felt deeply into the crevasses of the seats but

came up empty-handed. He pulled back the rug, looking for

any sign of a trap door or loose floorboard, but was

disappointed. The tall, thin cupboards that flanked the

fireplace checked out free of anything suspicious. He felt

up along the fireplace flue as far as he could, finding only a

lot of soot and the desiccated bones of a few unfortunate

birds that had died in there. After washing most of the

greasy chimney soot from his hands and arms, he checked

the drawers of the end tables, finding nothing. He shook his

head. Too obvious. She’d never hide anything in such an

obvious–

But maybe she would. Mulder began to smile. “The

Purloined Letter!”, he said aloud, on his way to the study.

The study had always been his mother’s favorite room, her

refuge from her husband and children. Fox and Samantha

had been allowed in there only rarely, and only to choose a

book to read from the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. His

mother was an inveterate reader, and Edgar Allen Poe had

been one of her favorites. “The Purloined Letter” was a

story about how to hide something so it wouldn’t be found.

Poe’s thesis was that the best hiding place was the most

obvious one, either because people wouldn’t bother looking

there, or if they did, what they were searching for would

blend in so perfectly as to be invisible. In Poe’s story the

hiding place for an important letter had been in among

other letters.

He snapped on the lights and looked at the walls

surrounding him. Three of the four walls were lined with

books – thousands of them. He doubted the Quonochontaug

Town Library had this many volumes, which was probably

why his mother had surrounded herself with these books,

here in her summer home. Finding her journal – if it existed

– among this virtual library would be an enormous chore.

That was the bad news. The good news was that Mulder

was now positive he was on the right track.

Four hours later, he was still positive. He was positive, and

tired, and sweating, and he was also surrounded by hip-

deep piles of discarded books which covered the surface of

the room’s Berber carpet.

It hadn’t begun that way. He had started by taking each

book, leafing through to quickly inspect the contents,

replacing it and pulling out its neighbor on the shelf. But it

didn’t take long to occur to him that the task would take

days the way he was going about it. More draconian

measures were called for. That’s when the books began to

come out by the armload, to be hurriedly inspected for any

sign that they were not what they were, discarded on the

rug, and covered by the next load. One wall of shelves had

been stripped, and the top half of another. Half done, and

nothing out of the ordinary had turned up so far.

Mulder flung himself on the couch and immediately

winced, pulling an errant book out from under his butt and

tossing it to the floor at his feet. That’ll leave a mark, he

thought. He was exhausted, having had almost no sleep the

night before they broke the case, and his sleep wracked by

dreams the previous night. Plus the argument with Scully –

that always took a lot out of him. And his ghost-filled

search in Greenwich. He sighed. It was here. He was no

less sure of it. And somehow he had the feeling it was

crucial that he find it, the sooner the better….

But he was so damned tired. Maybe if he just closed his

eyes here for a minute….

clip_image004

*******

The dark-clothed man cut the engine before he was within

sight of the cottage, pulling off the road and letting the

BMW drift to a stop behind a privet hedge gone wild. The

summer house was not more than three hundred feet away.

The spotter who phoned in this report would be rewarded

well, if it turned out to be true. If it wasn’t, the guy would

pay dearly for the chartered jet and the drive it had taken

for him to get here. In blood, not money.

Charles Scully closed the car door softly. He was lucky –

this time of year was a bit early for the summer folks to

have taken up occupancy. In July or August, there would

still have been plenty of people out and about at this time of

night. But now, with few year-round residents, all that

could be heard was the pound and hiss of the surf and the

chirping of crickets. He had no trouble attributing some of

his success to luck. He *had* been lucky. His rise in the

organization had been meteoric, and luck was a part of that.

But so was intelligence, know-how, instinct and a complete

lack of scruples.

He walked along the road, keeping to the soft tufts of turf

which muffled his footsteps. Around the bend in the road,

the summer house came into view, the lights blazing and

illuminating the front yard. Good thing I don’t depend

entirely on luck, Charlie thought, crossing the road. He

continued past the house, darting for cover in the shadows

by Mulder’s car and the old garage. Almost silently, he

worked his way along the darkened far side of the house to

the back, where he would be unseen by casual passersby.

He tried the back door, but the knob resisted the twist of his

hand. A flash of annoyance crossed his face. All right, so

this wasn’t going to be as easy as it might.

He crossed the patio to peer through the French doors,

jerking back automatically when he spotted the dark head

inside. Cautiously, he looked in again. Gazing through the

opacity of the curtains that stretched top to bottom over the

glass panes, he could make out the back of a navy blue

sofa, and the back of a dark head resting on it. In front of

the sofa and to the left, at least as far as he could see, were

built-in bookshelves, denuded of the books that once lined

them. He could see some of the books lying on the floor.

Charles Scully pulled away into the shadows and bit his lip,

thinking. He didn’t want to over-react – that could be

disastrous. Mulder was clearly tearing the place apart,

searching for something. But why now? It had been months

since Charlie’s encounter with Mulder, and far longer since

Teena…died. What could have him up here, tearing the

summer house to bits?

But there had been that twenty-four hour gap just before

her death that Teena had eluded her watchers. God only

knew what she had gotten up to. Could she have gotten

back here to leave some sort of a message for her son?

Some sort of evidence that could bring down not only the

group, but more importantly, Charles Scully?

Yes, it was a fortunate thing he had taken the report

seriously, Charlie decided. Whether Mulder has found it or

not, he’s obviously on the trail of something, and it’s in my

best interests to see that nothing comes of it. Quietly, he

moved back to the French doors and tried the knob, finding

it locked.

Disappointed, Charlie backed away from the doors. You

had to get in there some way, Wonder Boy, and I’m betting

you didn’t take the time to lock up after yourself. And while

you’re taking a little nap, now might be the best time to pay

a visit…. Charlie moved around the side of the house,

ducking as a car went by, its headlights piercing the

darkness. When he was sure the vehicle was not going to

stop, he moved to the front, using the newly-tended shrubs

for cover….

*******

His eyes slowly opened, and with a start, he looked at his

watch. God, he had been asleep for longer than he thought.

He sighed and sat up. Time to continue his task. Maybe he

should make some coffee first…. His eyes drifted down to

the spine of the book he had inadvertently sat on earlier.

“Polite Conversation” by Jonathan Swift. Another of his

mother’s favorites—

Suddenly his heart began to thud in his chest. ‘There are

none so blind as they who will not see’… wait a minute, that

quotation was from “Polite Conversation”. Hardly able to

breathe, Mulder bent down to pick up the book and opened

it, somewhere in the middle.

Not print, but script.

His mother’s writing. A diary.

He had found it.

Hands trembling and tears welling in his eyes, he pulled the

book closer and tried to pick out the words his mother had

written in her neat but cramped script. “… his terrible

betrayal. He knew how I felt, yet he ordered me to…”

Mulder flipped through the pages. “…I swore I would see

him disgraced and dead if it was the last thing…” Again he

feathered the pages. “..knew the true purpose of the

Consortium….” And “…a new wrinkle in the always-

changing politics of the group, and the impact Char—”

A weird noise from the front of the house made Mulder’s

head shoot up. Quickly, he brushed away the tears that

clouded his vision. He reached automatically for his service

weapon, remembering only when his hand came up empty

that he had taken it off in the kitchen, to crawl under the

sink. Slowly, soundlessly, Mulder took the small, precious

volume in his hands and shoved it into the middle of one of

the piles of books. He crept to the kitchen and, picking up

his Sig Sauer, made his way quietly to the living room.

His eyes swept the room, finding nothing amiss. He walked

over to the front door, noting that the lock was on. Still,

something had made that noise. Mulder opened the wooden

front door and peered out through the window of the storm

door. There – that sound again, outside and to his left. He

went outside, turning in the direction of the sound.

The unmistakable click of a gun being cocked inches from

his ear froze him in mid-step.

“I’ll just take that gun, if you don’t mind.”

Mulder raised his hands, and the Sig was quickly snatched

away.

“I don’t suppose you’d like to tell me–” A gun barrel

pressed tight to his temple ended the question.

“Don’t move.”

The gun moved away from his head. An instant later, he

felt a sharp sting just behind his right ear. A needle…? He

was falling…

*******

Quickly, Charlie went inside and put out the lights in the

living room, then dragged Mulder’s unresisting form inside.

“Can’t have anyone driving by and see you passed out on

your front lawn, now can we, Mulder?” he said pleasantly

to his unconscious captive. “Whatever would the neighbors

say?”

Knowing Mulder would be out for a couple of hours,

Charlie went into the study, pushing books out of his path

with the toe of his shoe and surveying the mess with

distaste. What the hell were you looking for, Mulder? And

more importantly, did you find it, Charlie wondered. The

wreckage gave him no clues. He was probably, though not

certainly, looking for some sort of a book. Or perhaps just

something hidden in a book, or behind the shelves – which

didn’t narrow things down a hell of a lot. Charlie was faced

with searching for anything from a microdot to …. who the

hell knew. He went back into the living room. Mulder

showed no signs of rousing.

Decision time, Charlie thought. He settled in a comfortable

armchair to ruminate. What are my options here? I suppose

I can wait until Foxxy Boy wakes up and beat it out of him.

That would be amusing, but knowing Mulder as I do,

bound to be unproductive in the end. And likely to be both

noisy and messy. So what else?

I could torch the place, I suppose…. Charlie considered that

for a few minutes, discarding the idea reluctantly. While

the idea of Fox Mulder perishing in a fire certainly had its

satisfying ironies, fires brought investigations which almost

always turned up telling evidence. Charlie cursed his rapid

departure to Quonochontaug which prevented his laying

out a plan and bringing along the proper equipment to carry

it out. Charles Scully was above all things a planner; it was

one of the things that had contributed greatly to his success.

He disliked having to improvise. Improvisation led to

sloppiness and sloppiness led to… well, that didn’t bear

thinking about.

The longer he remained here, the greater the risk of

exposure. Whatever he did he had to do quickly. There was

no guarantee that even Mulder knew what he was looking

for, or that what he was looking for even existed. They had

kept a pretty tight watch on Teena. Charlie shook his head.

He was probably just being paranoid.

Now – what to do with Mulder. He could just leave him

here – to wake up with a bad headache. But what if he were

wrong about what Mulder was looking for? What if some

evidence existed that only the agent knew about? If he

couldn’t identify what Mulder was searching for and

eliminate it, he could just eliminate Mulder.

But how? Not with violence, unfortunately. A little town

like this would go batshit if one of its citizens was carved

up in the sanctity of his own home. The next thing he knew,

the State Police would be called in and there’d be a major

investigation. But Mulder was flake, right? And everyone

knew it. He had taken his mother’s death exceedingly hard,

and coming back here, how could the memories not be

overwhelming, driving him to a terrible act? It probably

wouldn’t fool his sister Dana, but…. Too bad this place has

an electric stove instead of gas, Charlie thought suddenly.

Could have been ‘like mother, like son’ – at least to all

appearances. His gaze fell on Mulder’s car keys on the table

by the door.

Ah! That might work. Charlie went out to where Mulder’s

car was parked. Inserting the key but not yet turning on the

engine, he was gratified to see the gas tank register almost

full. “Well done, Foxxy!” Charlie murmured. He got out of

the car and opened the garage door, noting with satisfaction

that his luck was holding – there was just enough room in

the cramped building to pull Mulder’s car in, which was the

next thing he did. Leaving the engine running, he pulled

down the garage door, exiting by a door in the back of the

outbuilding.

He went back to the house and extinguished all the lights.

He couldn’t erase signs that someone had been there, but

then, he didn’t need to. It wouldn’t matter if people thought

that Mulder had gone berserk and trashed the cottage and

then killed himself. He just didn’t want someone coming by

at four in the morning and, wondering why the lights were

on in a house where no one lived, stop to investigate. The

longer he could put off the discovery of the car in the

garage, the longer the exhaust would have to do its job.

He had always preferred to work with his mind rather than

his muscles, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t strong. It took

only a little effort to pull Mulder up and over his shoulder.

He left by way of the French doors in the rear of the house,

retracing his steps from the garage and back in through the

back door.

The exhaust was already starting to build up in the small

building, stinging Charlie’s eyes and making him cough. He

put Mulder in the back seat – it wouldn’t do to have him

flop over onto the car horn and wake up everyone within a

mile. He made sure all the car windows were open and the

garage windows closed, and left by the back door.

He came around to the front of the garage, kicking dead

leaves and pine needles into a pile along the seam where

the door met the pavement, ensuring that not a wisp of

exhaust escaped. Stepping back to admire his handiwork,

Charles Scully murmured, “Goodbye, Mulder. It’s been

real. Say hi to Teena for me.”

Then as quietly as he had come, he made his way back to

the car hidden by the side of the road, started the engine,

and drove away.

End of Legacy

Concludes in VS11 Season Premiere: Camarilla

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