This story is based on characters created by Chris
Carter and Ten Thirteen Productions. Characters used
without permission. No infringement intended.
TITLE: Practice Makes Perfect
AUTHOR: Jo-Ann Lassiter
EMAIL ADDRESS: Jolassi555@cs.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Two weeks exclusive on VS10.
Then post anywhere. Thanks.
CLASSIFICATION: S, R
SUMMARY: Three years ago, Mulder’s profile was
directly responsible for the capture of a man who had
been killing the presidents of large corporations.
The man escaped and had not been heard from again —
until now. Mulder and Scully are called to a case in
Texas where they once again cross paths with Lawrence
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a sequel of sorts to VS8’s
“Your Past is Showing.” You should be able to read
this without reading that, though, as I think I’ve
scattered enough explanation throughout to bring you
up to speed. If not… well, it’s episode 8X18.
THANKS: To Gerry, for her usual crack beta work.
George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport
Larry Dexter woke as soon as the wheels touched down
on the tarmac. After three years, it was good to be
back in the good ol’ US of A. He’d take care of the
business he was there for, and at the same time
pursue a pleasure he’d put off far long.
Still clutching the folder containing the dossiers
he’d compiled on the two FBI agents, he flipped it
open; since his assignment required him to be a
little further away from the agents than he would
have liked, bringing them to him only presented yet
another puzzle to be solved.
He directed his attention to the male of the two.
After finally having made the decision to focus his
attention on Agent Mulder rather than Agent Scully,
his mind had spent the hours before he fell asleep
working out the details. He read over the agent’s
physical characteristics, smiling when he reached the
one that had won him the honor of ‘target.’
He smiled to himself. Even if it hadn’t been so easy
to pick Mulder, he suspected he would have found some
way to assure his selection. While Agent Scully had
most certainly played a part, it was Mulder’s profile
that had directly led to his capture.
As for those fools who’d recommended minimum security
over the objections of the two agents and that
assistant director — a shame that he couldn’t bring
him out as well — Larry wouldn’t even waste his time
with those incompetents. And they’d called *him*
mentally unstable. He wasn’t the one who’d placed a
trained assassin in a van with two elderly guards and
a staff psychiatrist.
It had been laughable how he’d been able to convince
everyone of his ‘illness.’ Only those three agents
from DC had been wise enough to see him for what he
really was. He wouldn’t be surprised if they’d
guessed his ‘real’ profession as well.
Being taken for a nerd had always served him well; he
supposed there was even some substance to it, what
with his love for science and ‘gadgets.’ But how many
nerds could single out a target from a crowd of
thousands — and then eliminate him, quickly,
quietly, and without having to raise a finger?
Dexter sighed. Of course, the means by which he’d
achieved that particular aspect of his profession had
also contributed to his downfall; short though his
incarceration had been, it had caused him to shelve
his plans — however temporarily — to deal with the
men whose actions had caused his beloved mother’s
Of the twelve on his list, he’d only been able to
eliminate six. He hadn’t expected to get all of them
in round one, but he’d anticipated eliminating a few
more than he actually had. Damn those feds.
No matter. He was back now, and after he’d had a
little fun with Special Agent Fox Mulder, he’d put
his contingency plan into action. Mother always said
he was so good at his work — if she only knew, he
giggled — because he planned so far in advance.
Wouldn’t those mother killers be surprised when they
found out he had returned?
He dearly hoped they were all still alive so that he
would not be denied the pleasure of watching them
Mulder removed a hand from the steering wheel,
swiping it across his wet forehead; he glanced over
at his partner, dozing in the passenger seat. That
should be him, he thought sourly.
When the rental agent had offered the keys, he’d
grabbed them and settled himself in the driver’s seat
before he’d thought about it. Scully had once called
him a chauvinist because he always wanted to drive;
at the time, he’d scoffed at the notion as absurd,
but here he’d gone and done out of habit something he
hadn’t even wanted to be doing. Christ. He *was* a
If he didn’t feel so lousy, he might have laughed; as
it was, all he wanted to do was find the motel and
crawl into bed. He sighed as he left the interstate
for the road that was the last leg of their journey.
Another mile or two, and they’d be there.
Just as Mulder merged from the left onto the busy
two-lane, a wave of dizziness hit him so hard that he
knew he was about to pass out. He gave a cursory
glance in the rear view mirror, then cut across the
right lane into the breakdown lane, narrowly missing
a delivery truck. He stomped on the brake, threw the
car into park, and slumped against the steering
He came to when Scully’s frantic voice penetrated the
fog in which he was enshrouded. “Scully…” he
moaned, not actually able to make out anything that
she was saying. He felt her hands on his head as she
gently lifted it off the steering wheel.
“What’s wrong, Mulder?” she asked, her voice breaking
up like a bad telephone connection.
“Dizzy,” he mumbled, his head still spinning. He
didn’t even consider opening his eyes.
“You nearly caused an accident,” she said, softly.
“I know. I’m sorry,” he panted, trying to keep from
“Did you — ”
A loud rapping on Mulder’s window startled them both
into silence. Even Mulder’s harsh breathing stopped
for a few seconds.
“It’s a sheriff’s department deputy,” Scully told
“Unh hunh,” Mulder murmured, when he resumed
“I think he wants you to roll down your window.” She
nudged him with her elbow.
Fumbling around until he located the switch, Mulder
tabbed the button, and the window rolled down. Hot
air rushed in, and Mulder felt the world dissolve
“Mulder!” What the hell was wrong with him? That was
twice in two minutes. Scully cupped her hand around
his chin and shook his head lightly, as she addressed
the officer. “Deputy, my partner — ”
“I’ll be wantin’ your license ‘n’ registration, son,”
the man cut her off.
Mulder groaned and opened his eyes. Scully rubbed a
hand over his cheek worriedly.
“License ‘n’ registration,” the officer repeated,
more forcefully than before.
“Give us a minute here, would you?” Scully said, her
patience wearing thin.
“All right, get on out of that car,” the deputy
demanded, yanking on the door handle, pulling it
“If you’d just let me explain — ”
“Get out,” he ordered, jerking with his thumb, and
directing his words to a semi-conscious Mulder,
disregarding Scully altogether.
When the man reached out a beefy hand and grabbed
Mulder’s shoulder, Scully pushed it away. “Back off,”
she growled, incensed now by the man’s refusal to
listen to reason. “Can’t you see he’s — ”
She broke off when she found the barrel of a weapon
three inches from her face. Very slowly, she brought
her eyes up to meet the officer’s. “There’s no need
for that, Deputy. If you’ll just — ”
“Get out of that car now!” The officer took a step
back. “The two of you.” Scully swallowed as she heard
the safety being released. “Right now!”
She freed herself from the safety belt and reached to
the handle on her door.
“Hold it right there,” the cop demanded. Scully
paused and looked up. “You get out on this side.” He
indicated Mulder’s open door. “Get out, boy,” he said
Looking somewhat more alert, Mulder released his seat
belt and stumbled out; Scully climbed over the stick
shift and followed him.
The deputy looked them up and down, making no effort
to hide his disdain for their expensive clothing.
“If I may be allowed to explain — ” Scully tried
“Ma’am, I’d appreciate it if you’d quit yer yappin’
so I can give this feller his sobriety test.” The
deputy reached into his pocket and pulled out a set
Scully bristled. If he was thinking of cuffing
Mulder… “Listen, Deputy…” She glanced at his name
tag. “…Jenkins, we seem to have gotten off on the
wrong foot here. My partner and I — ”
All capacity for speech left her as the deputy
snapped the cuff onto her left wrist and then secured
the other to the steering wheel. Scully blinked. She
was *not* standing outside her rental in the ‘hottest
February on record,’ handcuffed to a steering wheel.
She was *not* watching as some poor excuse for a law
enforcement officer dragged her sick partner away
In shocked silence, she struggled to gather her wits
about her as she tried to ascertain what the hell had
Mulder was having trouble locating his nose. From
past experience, he knew it was somewhere on his
face, but trying to find it with one finger while his
eyes were closed was a lot harder than he thought it
would be. Having his eyes shut, though, was a big
plus because the light from the sun had been causing
him some serious hurt.
“All right, walk to the end of the car and then
back,” he heard barked at him.
With his eyes closed? he wondered. Pushing himself up
off the car, Mulder got to take one step before the
light-headedness hit him again.
“Hey, you! Did I tell you to stop? Get moving!” He
felt a rough shove on his back and lurched forward a
few feet, more from the push than from any power of
“Christ,” he heard, muttered under the man’s breath.
“Get your sorry ass back here, you drunkard. I’m
takin’ you in for drivin’ under the influence.”
“He is *not* drunk!” Scully’s incensed voice reached
Mulder’s ears, just as he executed an about-face that
toppled him onto the pavement. The tarmac biting into
his cheek was hot, and he knew he really ought to
move. Instead, he closed his eyes and waited for
Scully to rescue him.
Scully’s eyes followed Mulder’s ungraceful descent to
the highway. She didn’t know what was wrong with him,
but she did know that he definitely was not drunk.
“He’s not, huh?” the deputy’s triumphant voice
“He’s sick,” Scully countered. “He has not been
“Ma’am, you assaulted an officer of the law. I’m not
inclined to believe anything you’d tell me.”
“Assaulted…” Scully sputtered. “*You* assaulted
*him.* You’re the one who grabbed him — ”
“I was assisting him out of the vehicle.” The
deputy’s tone reverted to that pompous, officious
tone that all officers of the law affected when they
talked down to a suspect. Scully vowed never to allow
herself to speak to anyone that way ever again.
“And I tried to explain to you that he was sick, and
you dragged him out anyway.” …you jerk, she added
“Ma’am, he exited the vehicle under his own power. I
did not ‘drag’ him out.”
Scully was about ready to pop a blood vessel.
“Whatever.” She looked at Mulder, moaning softly,
struggling to rise from the hot pavement. “Look, are
you going to help him up, or what?”
The deputy shook his head. “Oh, no, Ma’am. I don’t
want to be accused of ‘assaulting’ him again. Why
don’t *you* help him up?” he asked, snottily, turning
his back on her and walking to where Mulder lay.
“Fine, Deputy. I will.” For once grateful for her
small-boned structure, Scully wriggled free of the
loose cuff. She rubbed her wrist, seriously
considering drawing her weapon on this buffoon. The
idiot hadn’t even frisked them!
The deputy nearly jumped out of his skin as she
passed him to kneel beside Mulder. “How’d…” He
looked back to the car. “How’d you do that?” His
weapon was trained on her again, and Scully sighed.
“You told me to help him, and I am.” She directed her
gaze to the gun, held in shaky hands. “Now would you
please put that away before you hurt someone?”
The deputy’s eyes narrowed. “You’re mighty cool for
someone having a gun pointed at them. Just how often
does it happen to you?”
About to lift Mulder to his feet, Scully turned her
attention back to Jenkins. She considered a smartass
reply, but thought better of it. “More than I’d
like,” she muttered. To the deputy she said,
“Actually, we’re FBI agents.”
Scully let Mulder latch onto her, and she rose
slowly, holding him when he started to topple again.
“Easy. I’ve got you,” she assured him, softly.
“Let go of him, and get back over to that car,” the
deputy said, taking aim at her chest.
“If I let go of him, he’ll fall,” Scully said, trying
to reason with the man.
“If you don’t let go of him, I’ll shoot you.” The
deputy’s voice was steady, but the hand holding the
gun wavered slightly. Scully decided she should tread
“Can I take him to your car?”
“Let him go, ma’am. Right now.”
“I’m sorry, Mulder,” she whispered as she
relinquished her hold on him. Mulder slithered to the
ground at her feet.
“Scully…” he groaned. “What’s goin’ on?”
The deputy walked over to their car and removed the
cuff dangling from the steering wheel; he motioned
her over, then pulled her hands behind her back and
snapped the cuffs onto her wrists. “We’re being
“Why?’ His tone was so innocent and so pitiful that
Scully was now sorry that she hadn’t pulled her
weapon when she’d had the chance.
She winced as Mulder was pulled roughly to his feet.
When the deputy produced another pair of handcuffs,
she couldn’t believe it. “You’re not really going to
cuff him, are you?” she asked. “He can barely stand.
He’s not any danger to you.”
The officer pulled Mulder’s arms behind him a little
more forcefully than Scully deemed necessary. She
could feel her blood beginning to boil. After the
cuffs were in place, he wedged a hand under Mulder’s
armpit and started hauling him toward the sheriff’s
When they reached the car, the deputy pushed him
against the car. “Okay, cowboy, spread ’em.”
After a second’s confusion, Mulder grunted and
shifted until he had assumed the position. Just as
the deputy was about to frisk him, a cherry red
pickup truck came careening around the curve,
swerving to avoid the rear end of a slow-moving sedan
and narrowly missing the three of them.
“Goddammit!” Jenkins shouted. Yanking at the door
handle, he scrambled inside, getting as far as
shifting the gears before Scully caught his eye; she
was astounded that he was about to give chase,
leaving them outside, lying where they’d dove to
avoid being flattened, with their hands cuffed behind
“Goddammit,” Jenkins swore again, throwing the car
back into park and getting out. He hauled Mulder up,
then pulled Scully to her feet. “Get in,” he ordered
“Deputy, this is a mistake,” Scully spit out through
gritted teeth as she clambered into the back seat.
“You’re making a mistake.” She maneuvered her
shoulder to catch Mulder as he practically fell in;
he was barely managing to stay awake. “We *are* FBI
agents. This man is my partner, and he’s sick. I
demand that you — ”
“Just shut up! You don’t demand nuthin’!” The deputy
closed the door, walking over to their rental, where
he went through the motions of locking up.
Resigned to her fate for the moment, Scully turned
her attention back to her partner. “Mulder?” She
nudged him with her shoulder. “How are you holding
“I feel really awful, Scully,” he said, his non-
denial surprising her more than if he’d broken out in
song. He leaned back into the seat. “Sorry,” he
whispered, closing his eyes. “I wasn’t expecting it
to hit me like that. I don’t know what’s causing
“You weren’t sick before this?” she asked gently.
He shook his head. “Not like this. I felt a little
wiped at the rental place, but nowhere near this
Scully’s attention was drawn to the deputy as he
returned to the car, pocketing their keys before he
got in; he restarted the car and pulled out into the
flow of traffic. Looking back at her partner, Scully
found him slumped against the door, eyes closed.
She didn’t really expect an answer.
Mulder came roughly awake when he felt himself being
manhandled out the door of the car.
“Hey! There’s no need for that!” Scully enraged voice
was music to his ears. She would protect him from
this big goon.
As Mulder stumbled along, he prayed that the big goon
didn’t let go of him, or he’d fall flat on his face;
the rude awakening had done nothing to improve his
state of well-being. Or lack thereof. All it had
served to do was speed up his heartbeat so that he
could feel the blood pounding in his head all the
“Inside,” the man growled, giving Mulder another
“And how do you propose that I do that?” Mulder was
surprised to hear Scully’s voice in front of him, and
he looked up. She was standing by a door, looking
flushed and exasperated and gorgeous.
The big goon huffed, stepping around Mulder to turn
the knob and push open the door. “There y’go,
darlin’.” Even in his less-than-stellar state, Mulder
could hear the sarcasm in the deputy’s voice.
When she speared the deputy with her venomous glare,
Mulder was thrilled that he wasn’t her target this
time. He hoped he’d be conscious when she finally got
to give the goon what for.
Able to move under his own power now, Mulder followed
Scully inside. “This way,” he heard off to his left.
A gentle prod from Scully nudged him toward the open
cell door. Reaching it, he stopped and gazed at the
“In there,” the deputy ordered.
“My…” He had to cough to clear his dry throat. “The
cuffs are still on.”
“And they’re stayin’ on.” The man grabbed Scully’s
arm and pushed her into Mulder, nearly causing him to
fall. “You can thank your girlfriend for that.”
Ignoring Jenkins, she threw a quick glance at Mulder,
catching his nod that he was not hurt. She turned her
attention back to the law officer. “You can’t leave
us like this!”
A light push against her collarbone by the deputy
landed her just inside the cell, and he swung the
door closed. “I can’t, eh?”
“Deputy, please.” Mulder could tell that Scully was
trying very hard to calm her delivery. “We *are* FBI
agents. My partner is sick, and I need to see what’s
wrong with him.”
The deputy appeared to consider her words for a
moment, then shook his head. “Sorry. No.” His smug
expression told her that he was anything but sorry.
Scully closed her eyes, and Mulder could hear her
counting to ten, although she didn’t utter a
syllable. When she opened her eyes, Mulder shuddered
at the barely-restrained fury that radiated off her.
“Deputy?” she asked, in a sweetly dangerous voice.
“When is the sheriff expected back?”
“Sheriff’s at a scene right now. He’ll be back when
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Scully had
had enough, and Mulder couldn’t blame her; the man
had violated more than one of their civil rights.
“Scully,” Mulder called, walking slowly to the lone
bed in the cell. “It’s not worth it. Let’s just sit
and wait for the sheriff.”
“You just listen to your boyfriend, honey,” the
Turning her back on him while he was still speaking,
Scully sat beside her partner. “Feeling any better?”
“Not really.” Mulder tried not to whine as he leaned
his head back against the wall, closing his eyes.
“Mm.” He shifted to the right, losing his balance and
toppling to the mattress behind Scully.
He felt her weight leave the mattress. “You all
“No,” he whispered. “If things don’t stop spinning
soon, I’m going to lose my breakfast.”
“Damn that asshole,” Scully spat. “You should be in a
hospital.” He felt Scully’s breath on his cheek for
about two seconds before he heard her voice from a
few feet away. “Hang on a sec, Mulder.” The sound of
grunting and groaning reached his ears, and then he
felt Scully’s hands on his cheek.
Taking a chance, he cracked open one eye, then the
other, relieved when her image remained stationary.
He grinned when he saw that her hands were no longer
behind her back and that she was now able to touch
“Mulder? Do you think if I helped you, you could work
your hands out in front, too?”
He shook his head. “The way I’m feeling, I’d either
pass out or throw up if I tried it.” He met her eyes.
“Neither of those sounds too appealing.”
She gave him a sympathetic nod. “How about we give it
a try, and you tell me if you need to stop?”
He knew that having his hands in front, rather than
behind, him would be infinitely more comfortable, but
he was afraid of what it might cost him to accomplish
it. He drew in a deep breath, then let it out slowly,
nodding his head.
Scully gave him a smile that did wonders towards
bolstering his spirits. Giving her the best smile he
could muster, he lay back on the bed while Scully
coaxed him through the contortions necessary to
perform his Houdini act. With his knees crushed to
his chest and his cuffed hands stuck between his
ankles and his knees, Mulder felt an urgent need to
get this over with — quickly.
Scully must have caught the desperation on his face
because she gave a mighty tug on his hands that
allowed his legs to spring through. She helped him up
and brought him to the toilet where he, as predicted,
lost his breakfast.
When he was through, she handed him some water in a
paper cup and waited while he rinsed his mouth. He
tossed the cup in the direction of the trash can,
then looked up at her balefully, certain he was
wearing an ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’ look on
Looping her arms over his head, her handcuffed hands
resting against his belly, she helped him to regain
his footing and held him as he tried to catch his
breath. “Okay now?” he heard softly from behind him,
after his heart had stopped racing.
“Not okay,” he croaked. “But better.” He blinked;
something was different. “The dizziness is gone, I
think.” He inhaled deeply, then blew it out. “God, I
feel *much* better.”
Scully started to pull her hands away, freeing him
from where they held him captive; he clamped his
hands over hers, holding them in place. “Must you go
Scully did not resist, and instead adjusted her body
more comfortably behind him. She pressed her hands
into his abdomen. “Not at all.”
He sighed deeply, filling her embrace all the more.
“We have *got* to try some variation of this when
we’re not in a jail cell.”
She gave him a nudge that affected him as anything
but playful. “You,” she said, giving him a meaningful
squeeze, “are on.”
Dodge County Jail
The sound of Mulder’s stomach rumbling loudly in her
ear made Scully realize how hungry she was. Raising
her head up from where she’d fallen asleep using
Mulder’s lap as a pillow, Scully checked her watch,
pissed to find out how late it was and that they
hadn’t been fed yet. She wondered if the sheriff was
back and why the hell they were still in jail.
Careful not to wake her partner, Scully slid off the
bed; she trod quietly to the door and peered into the
office. It was eerily silent. Deputy Dawg was nowhere
to be seen.
Suddenly, the front door burst open, and a hand
pushed the deputy inside. Scully thought that this
was rather rash behavior for the sheriff to exhibit,
even if the deputy did deserve it.
The man who was holding the gun on the deputy was not
in uniform. He looked laughably geeky in his dark
blue jeans — with a crease in them, for chrissakes –
– blindingly white Reeboks, and pale blue pocket t-
shirt. The only thing that looked natural on the man
was the two-days’ growth of beard on his face.
Scully thought he looked a little familiar.
“Agent Scully! A pleasure to see you again.”
Scully squinted, trying to match the voice to the
The man tipped a non-existent hat. “John Doe,” he
said, giving the stupefied deputy another shove. “I
can’t tell you how pleased I am that the FBI has seen
fit to dispatch you to investigate the calamities
that have befallen this placid little community.”
‘John Doe’ peered around the deputy’s quivering form.
“And how’s the intrepid Agent Mulder?” he asked in a
voice that indicated he already was well aware of the
state of her partner’s health.
“What do you know about what happened to him?” Scully
The man bowed slightly. “My dear Agent Scully, I am
responsible for it.” He gave her a big toothy smile
that she found repulsive. “I have Deputy Jenkins
here, though, to thank for your current
incarceration.” He poked the deputy in the back with
the barrel of the gun; the deputy shuddered, and
Scully almost felt sorry for him.
“What did you do to my partner?” Scully asked
quietly, glancing back to see if Mulder was still
asleep. She wondered if the man knew that whatever
had caused this had worn off. If not, she wasn’t
about to tell him.
“Don’t worry, Agent Scully. Agent Mulder’s reprieve
is temporary… a slight technical problem which has
now been rectified.” The man looked at her partner,
and as if on cue, Mulder moaned.
“What did you do to him?” Scully demanded, hastening
to Mulder’s side. Sweat had broken out on his face,
his eyes were screwed shut tightly, and he’d begun to
thrash his head from side to side. “Stop it!” Scully
directed to John Doe. “Whatever you’re doing to him,
please stop it!”
The man shook his head slowly. “I derive so little
enjoyment out of life. Would you deny me, Agent
“Stop it now!” she yelled.
“No.” His voice no longer held that jovial tone to
it, and Scully shivered at the menace she now heard.
“Agent Mulder’s intervention prevented my punishing
the individuals who killed my mother.”
As she realized who it was they were dealing with,
Scully bit her lip to keep herself from blurting that
Mulder wasn’t the only one responsible for Lawrence
Dexter’s capture. She didn’t want to add any more
targets to Dexter’s revenge list. Forgive me, Mulder,
she thought, as she watched him writhing and
“He was only doing his job,” Scully told Dexter.
Dexter nodded. “Which is why he’s still alive.” His
eyes locked with Scully’s. “I understand duty. I
believe in it. But his profile still led to my
capture and necessitated my ‘laying low’ due to my
subsequent… uh… sudden departure.” The pleasant
tone was back in his voice. “Thank those responsible
for recommending the insanity angle, would you? It
would have been much more difficult to effect an
escape with handcuffs and tighter security.”
Scully closed her eyes momentarily. Those assholes
had really done it. With the exception of Mulder,
Skinner and her, all the other agents on the team had
advocated that Dexter be tried as criminally insane.
The judge had apparently agreed.
But Dexter never made it to his trial. He killed
three people and escaped while being transported from
the hospital to the courthouse.
“Scully…” Mulder’s thrashing had ceased, and he was
attempting to get up.
“I’m right here, Mulder.” She rubbed her hands up and
down his arms. “Try to lie still.”
“Gonna be sick,” he moaned.
Quickly hoisting him to his feet, Scully brought him
to the toilet. He grasped the rim, dropped to his
knees and began vomiting. Scully turned pleading eyes
to Dexter, who looked surprised, repulsed and
delighted, all at the same time. “Please,” she
begged. “Stop doing this to him.”
“Well!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t expect this.”
Scully was kneeling beside Mulder, rubbing his back
as he continued to be sick. “What do you mean?”
Dexter smiled and shrugged. “It was supposed to cause
dizziness and then a killer headache. Just enough to
incapacitate him for a few days, while I completed my
business here. But, well…” He gave her a sheepish
look. “I finished before you arrived, and I didn’t
want to let a perfectly good plan go to waste.” His
gaze moved to take in the man now lying on the floor,
gasping for air. Dexter gave a brilliant smile. “And
here I am.” His eyes darted to Scully and back to
Mulder. “Enjoying the show.”
Scully turned away, focusing all her attention on her
partner. Nothing she said was going to cause Dexter
to have a change of heart and stop whatever the hell
he was doing to Mulder; she would just have to do as
much as she could to help him.
“Here, Mulder,” she said, lifting him by his
shoulders. “Come lie on the bed.”
“No,” he panted, pulling away.
“Mulder, what the hell are you — ”
“Still sick,” he groaned. “I can’t… The bed…”
“Shh… It’s okay.” She brushed wet strands of hair
out of his eyes.
“Well, Agent Scully,” she heard Dexter saying, “as
entertaining as this has been, I really do have to be
going now.” He shoved the deputy into the empty cell
next to theirs and pulled the door shut with a
As Dexter turned to leave, Scully pulled Mulder’s
weapon from the ankle holster on his leg. “Dexter,”
Dexter had the front door partially opened when he
stopped and looked at her. Delight was not what she
expected to see on his face. “He didn’t take your
weapons! I’m so glad I decided to have a chat with
you. I would never have witnessed this shining
example of small town ineptitude otherwise.”
“Lay down your weapon,” Scully directed, not amused.
“And turn off whatever the hell is affecting my
Smiling charmingly, shrugging, Dexter made a move to
place his pistol on the floor, then darted through
the open door before Scully could react. “I don’t
think so,” she heard from the other side. “You have a
nice day now.”
“Dexter!” Scully yelled in frustration. “Dexter!”
She watched the closed door for a few seconds before
whipping around to glare at Jenkins.
“Who…” Jenkins swallowed, wide eyes focused on the
weapon now pointed at him. “Who in blue blazes was
Ignoring him and feeling smug about it, Scully turned
back to Mulder, hoping that whatever was happening
to Mulder would be gone now that Dexter was.
It wasn’t. Dammit, Dexter must have left some sort of
transmitter in the office, or planted it… Scully
whirled on the deputy. “Check your pockets,” she
“What in tarnation is going on here? Who are you
people?” the deputy asked, making no move to comply.
Swinging the gun around, Scully aimed it at Jenkins.
“Check your pockets.” She took a second to glare at
Jenkins pulled his wallet, badge, keys and change out
of his pants pockets. “What’m I lookin’ for?”
“Anything you don’t recognize.” Standing with his
pockets turned inside out, Jenkins looked downright
pathetic, quite a change from the arrogant bastard of
earlier. “Damn,” Scully muttered, noting the small
pile. “Bring that over here.”
When Jenkins balked, she tapped the bars with her
weapon, and he hastily gathered all his possessions
and delivered them to her.
“Place them on the floor and slide them in here.”
Scully indicated a section of the floor, then moved
back a step. When Jenkins came closer, she noticed
the pocket on his shirt and nodded toward it. “What
about that shirt pocket?”
Shrugging, Jenkins fished around, coming up with a
small round plastic disk. “What’s this?” he asked.
Feeling her heart rate quickening, Scully glanced at
Mulder to see if the closeness of the disk had any
effect on him. His arms were held tightly to his
head, and he was beginning to whimper.
“Keep the rest of that stuff, and give me the disk,”
Scully told him. Mulder’s whimpers had turned into
cries of anguish. “Move!” she shouted.
The deputy hustled toward the bars, set the disk just
inside of Scully’s cell, and backed away.
“Scully…” Mulder sobbed. “Oh, Christ, Scully…”
Cursing as she got a look at the hard plastic casing,
Scully looked around the cell in dismay. Seeing
nothing she could use as a hammer, she ripped off her
shoe and pounded the disk with the heel until she
heard a satisfying crunch.
She ran to Mulder, soothing him as he recovered from
the torture he’d just been through. Trying to reach a
tissue in her jacket pocket, she was pulled up short
by the handcuffs. She looked over at the deputy.
“Jenkins. Do you have the keys to these?”
When the deputy hesitated yet again, Scully threw a
warning glance at the weapon laying on the floor
within her reach. She almost hoped Jenkins would
Scully watched the deputy’s gaze fall on the gun
before he indicated the key ring on the floor inside
her cell. “It’s — ”
“I know which one it is,” Scully cut him off,
retrieving the keys and taking them back to where
Mulder lay, his breathing ragged and hitching.
After removing her cuffs, Scully unlocked Mulder’s.
“Thanks,” he croaked, rubbing his wrists for a couple
of seconds before pressing the heels of his hands to
“Still hurt?’ she asked.
He nodded. “Not like before, but, yeah.”
“What about the dizziness, the nausea?” She touched
his hands lightly, and he let her take over the head
“Not as bad.” She could see he was fading fast, and
she all but carried him to the bed. He needed no
coaxing to lie down, and was asleep before she got
his feet up off the floor.
A movement in the next cell caught her eye, and she
looked at the deputy. “Will any of these open that
door?” She indicated her cell door.
Jenkins shook his head.
“Where are they?” she asked.
Jenkins pointed to the desk with his chin. “Top
drawer of the sheriff’s desk.”
Scully moaned. “Great.” She stared at the lock, then
at the gun still on the floor. The lock was one of
those old, solid steel ones that looked damned near
impregnable. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to try.
She picked up Mulder’s gun, then placed it back in
his ankle holster and withdrew her more powerful Sig.
“Jenkins,” she called, taking aim. “How old is this
“Uh… About sixty, seventy years.”
Scully sighed. “What are the chances I could shoot it
open?” she asked him.
She heard him take a deep breath, then let it out
slowly. “Near impossible. That’s a Yale lock, about 3
inches thick. A bullet’d barely scratch her.”
After studying the lock for another minute, Scully
re-holstered her weapon; she didn’t want to chance a
ricochet hitting one of them. Stabbing Jenkins with a
glare, she asked, “When will the sheriff be back?”
“Um…” He glanced at the door nervously, as if he’d
just remembered something important.
“When, Jenkins?” Scully asked, impatiently.
“Oh, shit, he’s not coming back.” He looked at her,
his face full of fearful realization. “At least not
until after the storm.”
Scully suddenly got a bad feeling. “Storm?”
Jenkins looked anxiously at the front door, which was
starting to rattle from the wind. “Tornado,” he said,
his voice full of dread. “A twister is headed this
way. I just knew this blamed heat was gonna cause
trouble!” He moved his gaze to Scully. “I was coming
to take the two of you to the shelter, when that
maniac got the drop on me.”
Scully looked around nervously. “Are we safe in
The deputy licked his lips. “As safe as anyplace can
be that’s not below ground.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Jenkins shrugged. “This jail’s been through over a
hundred years’ worth of twisters, and it’s still
The rattling of the door was nonstop now, and Scully
felt a prickling on the back of her neck when she
heard the roar outside getting louder by the second.
She recalled reading that the sound from a tornado
was likened to that of an approaching freight train.
“Oh, God,” she whispered.
“Ma’am!” Jenkins was yelling to be heard over the
din; she gazed at him dully and found him unbuckling
his belt, then rebuckling it around one of the cell
bars. “You’re gonna need to anchor yourselves to
these bars. Either that twister’s comin’ right at us,
or it’s gonna be awful close.” His gaze swept the
cell. “If you don’t want to be blown around against
the walls, you’d best fasten yourselves to the bars.”
He indicated the outer office. “There are no windows
in this building, and that’ll protect us a mite, but
if that twister hits us dead on — -and it sounds
like it might — -you’re gonna want to be connected
to something solid.”
After taking a second for the deputy’s words to sink
in, Scully rushed over to Mulder, slapping him none
too gently in her haste to wake him. “Come on,
Mulder. Wake up.”
His eyes shot open to glare at her. “Ow! Scully, what
the hell?” He caught her hand before another one
landed on his cheek. Looking at her, his expression
changed from angry to concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“Tornado!” she shouted, straining to be heard. She
gave his arm a tug. “We need to anchor ourselves to
the bars.” Scooping up the two sets of handcuffs from
where she’d dropped them on the floor, she snapped
one end over Mulder’s wrist, dragging him toward the
bars at the front of the cell. Locking it in place
around the sturdy steel, she repeated the process
with her wrist, taking care to make it tighter than
the deputy had. As an afterthought, she patted her
pocket to assure herself that the key ring was still
where she’d put it.
Hesitating only a moment, Scully locked herself into
place mere inches from her partner. Though still a
bit dazed, Mulder wrapped his arm around her and drew
her close. She wrapped her free arm around his waist
and held on for dear life.
As a native of coastal Massachusetts and then as a
denizen of Virginia, Mulder had had little to no
experience with tornadoes. Abstractly, he wondered
how it was he’d avoided the experience until now.
Scully had burrowed herself under his armpit, and
while one portion of his brain was overjoyed that she
was accepting his protection, another part was scared
shitless. When the front door blew open, Mulder
tightened his hold, and Scully practically crawled
The noise was deafening now, and with the door open,
anything that wasn’t anchored was sucked out the
door. Scully was snatched from his grasp, and he was
pulled into the bars; the sheer force of it jarred
his teeth, and the air was stolen from his mouth. As
he struggled to breathe in the vortex, Mulder was
frantic with worry when he couldn’t move his head to
check on Scully.
Not so naïve to believe that it couldn’t get any
worse, Mulder was nonetheless surprised when the roar
outside intensified, the wind reversed and he was
literally blown off the bars. Even though it saved
him from being batted about the cell, Mulder cursed
the handcuff as it strove to sever his wrist from his
hand. He hoped Scully’s lighter body weight reduced
the strain on her wrist.
A loud clang by his imprisoned hand brought his
attention to the bars in front of him. He looked on
in horror as anything that hadn’t made it out the
door was now being hurled at them by the frenzied
winds. He never thought he’d ever feel lucky that he
was in jail.
So far, everything that had come their way had been
large enough to be stopped by the bars, but Mulder
felt his heart leap to his throat when the desk
drawers started exploding out. Fearful of what a
sharpened pencil or a letter opener could do at 100
MPH, Mulder was relieved when suddenly everything
The roar, the wind, the pull on his arm ceased
abruptly, and he dropped like a lead weight, crashing
into the bars before slumping to the floor. He
scrambled to get his feet under him when pain from
his shoulder made him see stars. “Ow! Jesus!” he
Expecting some sort of response from his partner and
not receiving one made Mulder shake off the graying
of his vision. “Scully?” he croaked.
She was hanging limply by her arm, not moving. His
heart started beating faster, and he felt himself
trembling with fear; he could barely breathe in the
still air. “Oh, God. Scully?” he choked out, reaching
for her face.
Her skin was hot and dry, and Mulder didn’t know if
that meant anything. Feeling for the pulse at her
neck, he almost passed out when he found it strong
and steady. He thought she must have been knocked out
when she hit the bars. Still, he checked her for
injuries, sighing when he didn’t find any.
Now that threat of serious injury had been ruled out
for Scully, Mulder’s shoulder was screaming for
attention. A groan from the next cell distracted him
only minimally. “Deputy?” Mulder questioned, unable
to maneuver himself around to face the other man.
“Are you all right?”
The deputy grunted an affirmative. “The blamed sheets
from the bed are tryin’ to strangle me.” His voice
was slightly muffled, and Mulder laughed at the
absurdity of it. He glanced at the bed in their cell.
It was stripped clean, but the bedding was nowhere in
sight. Only the pillow, too thick to fit through the
bars, remained, snug against the next cell.
Mulder winced as he moved back to face Scully,
grateful that she hadn’t left too much space between
them when she’d cuffed them to the bars. Struggling
to recall in which pocket she’d placed the keys, he
ended up patting her down when he couldn’t remember.
Though an enjoyable task under normal circumstances,
the pull on his shoulder made it excruciating.
Sweating and shaking when he finally found the keys,
he had to rest a minute before he could free himself.
After unlocking the cuff, he used his right hand to
lower his left arm very carefully; it hurt too much
to let it hang at his side, so he tucked it into the
waistband of his pants.
Then he turned and regarded his partner with dismay.
Once he uncuffed her, he’d be unable to hold her
upright with his other arm. Stepping close to her, he
pressed his body into hers, propping her up against
the bars. He reached up with his good arm and, after
a few clumsy attempts, was able to get her free. When
she slumped on top of him, he managed to get a grip
on her waist and lower her to the floor.
He winced when he caught sight of the lump on her
forehead. Trailing a finger gently down her cheek, he
called softly, “Scully…” Very gently, he tapped her
face with the side of his finger. “Come on, partner.
A long, low, drawn-out groan made him almost forget
that they both were injured. “Mulderrr…” she
moaned, and he had to remind himself that he was
hearing a moan of distress, not of pleasure.
“I’m here, Scully,” he said gently, brushing the hair
out of her face with his good hand. “Lie still a
minute. You took a pretty good conk to the head.”
“Okay,” she whispered, surprising him with her
After a few minutes of kneeling and watching her
anxiously, her eyes popped open, and she pushed
herself to a sitting position. “Careful,” he told
her, hovering but avoiding any contact that might jar
Picking up on his out-of-character behavior, she eyed
him appraisingly. “Where are you injured?”
“I think I dislocated my shoulder.” He looked down at
the hand tucked into his waistband. He endured a few
seconds of her prodding on and around his joint
before he jerked away. Surprised and a little
embarrassed by this move, he again offered the
shoulder for her inspection. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
When he looked at her face, and her eyes met his, he
saw the change from doctor to partner to friend to
lover. All in the span of one second. Her hand came
up to cup his cheek, then slid to his neck. “Help me
up, and I’ll try not to hurt you too much.”
His concern for his shoulder was forgotten. “Why
don’t you give it another couple of minutes, Scully?
You were unconscious, you know.”
Smiling, she shook her head. “I feel fine now.” When
she started pushing to her feet, Mulder had no choice
but to relent and give her a hand.
He watched her carefully, and when he saw no
indication that she was feigning her good health, he
let himself relax, wincing from the movement.
“Okay?” she asked, directing him to the naked bed
frame and pushing him onto it.
He nodded, unable to speak as she resumed her
examination. She tried, he could tell, but it was
impossible for her to touch him and not hurt him.
“Almost done,” she said gently, as skilled fingers
probed tender flesh.
Again he nodded, then sighed when she declared that
she was done.
“The best I can do is immobilize it,” she told him.
“It looks like there may be some muscle damage as
well.” She turned her attention to the man in the
other cell. “Deputy, could you hand me those sheets,
As the officer complied, his eyes darted from her to
Mulder and back to her. “Y’all are really FBI?”
He heard Scully sigh. “Yes, we are.”
The man shook his head. “I’m sure sorry, ma’am.”
“You should be,” he heard his partner mutter, as she
dumped the bedding next to Mulder.
Any comments he had on the subject of the deputy’s
apology immediately fled when he saw his partner
tearing sheets in preparation of more torture. He
managed to stay quiet while she positioned his arm,
then attached it tightly to his chest. When she
finally pronounced that she was finished, he found
himself once again sweating and shaking, and wanting
desperately to pass out.
“Does it still hurt?” Her tone was concerned, and a
He shook his head. “Not now.”
“Oh, Mulder…” She wrestled the mattress back onto
the bed frame, then guided him to it. Why don’t you
lie down for awhile?”
He couldn’t have protested if he’d wanted to. Letting
her help him down, he closed his eyes and sank into
the welcome darkness.
“What in tarnation are you doing in there?”
Scully practically fell out of the bed when the
exasperated words penetrated into her doze. Rolling
smoothly off the mattress, she faced the two men
squared off at the adjoining cell.
The deputy sputtered an explanation of how he came to
be incarcerated in his own jail while the sheriff
unlocked the door.
Stopping when he caught sight of her and a Mulder
getting slowly to his feet, the sheriff asked, “Who
are they?” As the man’s gaze took in their
appearance, disbelief painted his face. “Oh, lord,
tell me they aren’t the ‘mobsters’ you arrested this
Euphoric anticipation in the scene about to play out
caused Scully — and probably Mulder, too — to
refrain from answering for the flustered deputy.
The deputy shuffled from foot to foot, still inside
the unlocked cell. His gaze remained glued to his
boots. “Well… yeah.”
Muttering under his breath, the sheriff unlocked
their cell door. “I’m Sheriff Carl Farris. Agents
Mulder and Scully?”
Scully took out her I.D. and presented it to the
sheriff. “Yes, sir.”
The sheriff’s gaze drifted to his deputy and then
back to Scully. “Why didn’t you…” He indicated
Scully’s I.D. and the deputy.
“I wasn’t given the opportunity to do so,” she
The sheriff pinned Jenkins with a glare. “Didn’t they
tell you they were federal agents?”
Jenkins cleared his throat. “Sort of.”
“What the hell does that mean?” the sheriff exploded.
“Either they did or they didn’t.”
“We told him, but he didn’t believe us,” Scully
volunteered, savoring every moment of this.
“He was drunk,” the deputy challenged, pointing a
finger at Mulder. “Couldn’t pass the sobriety test.”
The sheriff turned back to Scully for an explanation.
“My partner was sick. The madman who locked your
deputy in that cell was using a device that affected
Agent Mulder’s health. I tried to explain…” She
felt the bitterness at Mulder’s treatment by the
deputy return. “…but he slapped the cuffs on and
threw us in a cell, and he wouldn’t listen.”
Mulder picked up the tale of woe. “Our cel phones
don’t get a signal here, so we couldn’t call anyone.
Plus, it’s hard to dial with handcuffs on,” he
muttered under his breath.
Scully — and apparently the sheriff, too — heard
him anyway. “Francis,” he addressed the deputy. “Did
you put them in a cell with the cuffs on?”
Jenkins nodded miserably.
Farris shook his head, then addressed Scully and
Mulder again. “I’m sorry about that, Agents. Francis
has been warned about that, but it doesn’t appear to
be taking too well.”
Scully exchanged a look with Mulder. ‘Obviously not,’
his raised eyebrows conveyed.
Seeing her partner holding himself a little stiffly,
Scully said to the sheriff, “I’ve got to get Agent
Mulder to the hospital.” She herded him out the cell
and into the debris-strewn office. “If you’ll excuse
us, we’ll check back with you tomorrow on the case.”
Seemingly just noticing that Mulder was injured,
Farris hastily moved aside. “Oh. Of course. Mind if I
ask what happened?”
“We were stuck in here when the twister hit.” Mulder
indicated Jenkins with a tilt of his head. “At the
deputy’s suggestion, we secured ourselves to the
“Agent Mulder came down a little too hard,” Scully
The sheriff nodded. “County Hospital is five miles
out of town, going toward Huntsville, on the 190. You
should have no trouble finding it.”
Scully nodded her thanks as she ushered her partner
to the door. “We’ll be by late morning, if that’s all
“That’ll be fine, Agent Scully. It’ll give me time to
make this place a mite more presentable,” he grinned.
Scully gave him a tired smile. “We’d have no
objections coming by later if you need more time.”
The sheriff thought a moment. “How about two? That’ll
give you time to rest a bit, and me time to get a
little order in here.”
“Two it is,” Mulder answered for them. “See you
Scully smiled and followed her partner. They walked
out the door, then turned around and walked back in.
“Sheriff, could we trouble you for a ride?”
“Yes, sir. I’ll keep you apprised.” Through slitted
eyes, Mulder watched as Scully placed the motel phone
back in the cradle.
Mulder groaned and opened his eyes. “Was that
Skinner?” His voice was still rough with sleep, and
he coughed to clear it.
“He sends his love.”
Mulder snorted. “Maybe to you.”
Scully smiled. “His concern then.” Her face lost its
brightness. “He’s worried that you haven’t seen the
last of Lawrence Dexter.”
Wincing as he struggled to sit up, Mulder nodded.
“It’s a valid assumption, given Dexter’s history.” He
felt a little woozy, and let himself fall back
against the headboard. The impact jarred his
shoulder, and he grunted from the pain. Although the
doctor at the hospital had been able to pop his
shoulder back in, it still hurt like a son of a
“What’s the matter?” Scully homed in on him like a
bee to honey.
Mulder tried to shake the cobwebs out of his head.
“Must be the medication they gave me.”
“Are you dizzy again?
Now that he’d been sitting up for few seconds, he
didn’t feel so bad. “It’s going away,” he told her,
his head beginning to clear. However, when he stood
up, Scully had to grab onto him to keep him from
“Whoa! What were you saying about its going away?”
And after another few seconds, it did. Not entirely,
but enough so he could continue his trek. “Thanks,”
he said, breaking out of her hold.
“Mulder,” she called after him. “You shouldn’t — ”
“Just going to the bathroom, Scully. I’ll come right
back out. I promise.”
He heard her halt her pursuit of him. “All right. Be
Nodding, he entered the small room and closed the
door. He had just finished washing his hands, and was
reaching for the hand towel when his knees turned to
jelly, and he found himself sitting on the bathroom
The door suddenly flew open, nearly beaning him, and
he looked up in surprise. Scully stood over him like
a mother bear protecting her cub. “What happened?”
she asked as she lifted him to his feet. “Did you get
He honestly couldn’t remember. One minute he was
standing there, the next he was on the floor staring
up at his partner. “I don’t know.”
“This is *not* from the medication,” Scully stated
firmly. “Besides, that should have worn off about
four hours ago.”
“I know,” he said, as she walked him back to the bed.
“This feels like what happened earlier.”
“Dammit,” Scully swore. “That son of a bitch is still
in the area.”
“It looks like it,” Mulder agreed, sitting down
heavily on the bed; starting to feel ill, he crawled
up to the pillows and lay down. “Or he left behind a
Scully’s alarmed eyes met his, then she stalked away
and heaved his partially-packed bag onto the other
side of the bed. He tried not to groan when the
movement upset his already queasy stomach.
“Well, that’s everything.” Scully’s declaration
startled him awake.
He blinked and looked up at her. “Done already?” His
voice was hardly more than a croak.
Scully laughed. “Mulder, you’ve been asleep for two
hours.” She gazed at him with concern and affection.
“But, yes, I’m done.”
“Find anything?” he asked, even though he could tell
by her demeanor what the answer would be.
“No,” she answered quietly. “There’s nothing here.”
Her eyes met his. “We’re going to have to look for
Dumbfounded to hear her include him in the search
without his having to fight for it, he could only
nod, his mouth parted in awe.
Sitting beside him on the bed gently, she placed her
palm on the side of his face. “It’s your health he’s
screwing with, Mulder. You have every right to be in
on the hunt for him.”
“Thank you,” he managed to choke out. Just when he
thought he was sure he knew everything about her, she
still had the ability to surprise him.
She smiled her response and took hold of his hands,
giving them a squeeze. “Do you feel up to showering?”
He shook his head slowly. “I think I might need
help.” The sad truth was that he really thought he
She helped him to his feet and guided him to the
bathroom, then stripped them both.
Mulder cursed Dexter anew when he found that his
greatest desire was not to ravish his partner, but to
keep her free of injury when he inevitably fell onto
“So this man Dexter is responsible for *all* the
‘accidents’ this past week?” The sheriff looked up at
Scully from behind his desk. “Even the ghost in the
Scully blew out a breath, but before she could reply,
the sheriff put up a hand to stop her.
“I know it wasn’t really a ghost, Agent Scully, but
how did he do it? I have half a dozen witnesses who
swear they saw a man walk in through one wall and
walk back out another.”
“It could have been a holographic projection of some
kind,” Mulder interjected. “He certainly has the
technological know-how to make it look real.”
Scully nodded her agreement. “And we have reason to
believe that he has access to very sophisticated
She exchanged a look with her partner, critiquing his
appearance at the same time. He sat slumped in the
chair, elbow propped up on the sheriff’s desk, his
hand shielding his eyes from the bright fluorescent
“So where is he now?” Farris asked.
Scully shrugged. “He left just before the tornado
struck. I don’t know where he is now.”
“That’s it, then?” the sheriff asked. “Now that he’s
gone, all these weird events will stop?”
Scully glanced at her sick partner, who now appeared
to be asleep. “Almost all.”
Farris looked up sharply. “What do you mean, ‘almost
“Dexter either left something behind, or is still in
the area. Whatever he used earlier on Agent Mulder is
affecting him again.”
The sheriff looked closely at Mulder, and his face
softened in sympathy. “Why does it only affect him?”
Scully shook her head. “We’ve been wondering that,
too, and we think he must have found some unique
element in Mulder’s chemical makeup that allows
Dexter to somehow zero in, to focus… whatever the
hell he devised… exclusively on him.” She noticed
the sheriff’s curiosity, but to the man’s credit, he
did not ask. This factor prompted her to tell him.
“Agent Mulder is red/green colorblind. We think that
the same genetic defect that causes the
colorblindness is also the trait that Dexter has
somehow been able to home in on.”
Farris nodded gravely. “Can I do anything to help?”
God bless the man, Scully thought. This almost made
up for his having an idiot for a deputy. Suddenly
remembering their not-so-pleasant encounter with the
man, Scully looked around warily. “We would
appreciate your help, Sheriff, but you can understand
that we would prefer not to work with Deputy
Farris nodded his agreement. “You won’t have to worry
about that. I let Francis go.”
Immediately — and irrationally — Scully felt
The sheriff waived away her concern. “Don’t feel too
sorry for him. He’s my wife’s cousin and I’ve been
looking for a good enough reason to get rid of him
for months. I’m sorry it had to come at your expense,
but I surely thank you for the excuse I needed to
finally fire his ass.”
“Uh, Sheriff, I know you’ve got your hands full with
the fallout from the tornado, so if you could just
clear it so we have free reign to search the area,
we’ll be on our way.”
Farris glanced at Mulder, then nodded. “I hope you
don’t mind my saying so, Agent Scully, but your
partner doesn’t look like he’s in any condition to go
on a manhunt.”
Scully let her gaze drift to her sleeping partner for
a moment. “Unfortunately, Mulder’s illness is the one
sure way we have of finding either Dexter or whatever
is being used to make him sick.”
Farris squinted in puzzlement.
“The closer we get, the more he’s affected.”
Farris drew in a breath and let it out slowly. “You
mean, the closer you get, the sicker he gets?”
Scully nodded solemnly. “That’s right.”
The sheriff looked appalled. “Look, I can get someone
to take over for me here, and I can help you — ”
“That won’t be necessary,” Scully cut him off. “We’re
almost positive that Dexter has left the area — if
he was able to.”
Farris looked up at that. “You think he might be
She hoped. “Or injured. He left only a couple of
minutes before that twister struck.”
“But you said Agent Mulder wasn’t affected until this
morning. If your suspect was killed, who activated
“We know he planted one in Jenkins’ pocket — which
didn’t start to affect Mulder for a few minutes. We
think he must have used some sort of time delay.
Mulder could have been affected last night, but he
was too groggy from the pain killers at the hospital
to notice much before he fell asleep.” She paused,
thinking. “He was fine at the hospital, so we don’t
have to look in that direction. But it’s affecting
him more here than at the hotel, so we seem to be
heading in the right direction.”
Farris sighed. “All right, Agent Scully. But if you
find that son of a bitch alive, you call me if you
Scully smiled. “Sheriff, it will be my pleasure.”
Just Outside the Agents’ Rental Car
If he didn’t know Scully was with him, Mulder would
have sworn he was in hell. Why he ever thought it
would be a good idea to use himself as a gauge to
Dexter’s whereabouts was beyond him now.
He’d lost count of the number of times they’d had to
pull over so he could throw up, and even Scully was
growing exasperated by all the stops. As he crawled
back into the car from his latest bout, she was
studying a map and acknowledged him with a glance.
“Are you through?” she asked, and the annoyance in
her tone made him want to hit her.
“Do you think I’m enjoying this?” he spat. “I’m sorry
if I’m holding things up, but I didn’t think you’d
want to drive a rental car that smells like a sewer.”
“Look, I’m sorry, but we’re never going to find him
if we keep stopping every two minutes.”
“Well, what would you suggest I do? Stick my head out
the window every time I have to puke?” Exhausted and
dizzy beyond belief, he let himself fall against the
seat; when he noticed Scully’s scrutiny, he curled
against the door, turning away from her.
Her hand on his shoulder made him jump. “I’m sorry,”
she said, and the genuine sorrow in her voice made
him swallow hard. Yet he did not turn around; he
wasn’t quite ready to forgive her.
All too soon, her warmth was gone as she put the car
in gear and continued slowly along the debris-strewn
road. After a few minutes’ driving, he began to feel
“Stop,” he croaked. “We’re going the wrong way.”
Scully brought the car to a stop, then looked at him
a moment before nodding and wordlessly reversing
direction. When they came to a side road, she took
it, and immediately he felt the effects.
“This way, huh?” she asked, with a noticeably strong
sympathetic tone in her voice.
Mulder knew he wasn’t required to answer, so he
concentrated on fighting the nausea, determined not
to lose any more time at the side of the road.
After about half a minute, he knew he’d made a major
mistake; unable to voice his panic, and before he
could convey his dilemma to his partner, Mulder found
himself heaving onto the floor. Though Scully
immediately pulled over, Mulder was embarrassed at
his inability to control his own actions. The second
the car came to a stop, he pulled on the handle and
Christ, he thought she’d seen him at his absolute
worst, but this was a record low, even for him.
Feeling her hands on his shoulders, he tried to shake
her off. “Go on ahead, Scully.” He tried not to let
his emotions color his words. “We’re as close as
we’re going to get.”
“Mulder…” She tried to get him to turn around, but
he used the last of his strength to finally pull out
of her grip.
“Scully, just find whatever the hell is doing this to
me. I can’t help you anymore.” He sobbed it out, and
didn’t care that he did. “I just can’t.” He felt her
watching him, but he refused to face her, looking as
bad as he knew he must look.
“Okay, Mulder, but I know why you’re doing this.” Her
hand felt warm where she laid it on his back. “We’ll
discuss it when you’re feeling better.”
He nodded frantically. “Right,” he choked out, hoping
to hold back until she was in the car and away.
Though he didn’t hear the car door open and shut
before he began puking his guts out again, he did
hear her drive away right before he passed out.
Mulder was exactly where she’d left him. She winced
when she took in his appearance; he’d been sick again
and then passed out right into the mess.
Returning to the car, she retrieved a couple of the
bottles of water they had bought to keep themselves
hydrated in the hot weather.
After dragging Mulder a few feet away from where he
was lying, she poured one of the bottles over his
face and hair. Worried when dousing him with water
didn’t rouse him, she fished his handkerchief out of
his pocket and wiped off the remaining hints of
sickness from his face. She tapped on his cheek
“Mulder… Hey, partner, come on. Wake up.” She wet a
clean portion of the cloth and ran it over his
forehead and eyes.
“Unnh…” he groaned. “Scully?”
A thrill still ran through her whenever she was
reminded that she was always Mulder’s first waking
thought. “Yeah, it’s me,” she told him, lovingly,
nudging his cheekbone with the backs of her fingers.
“How are you feeling?”
She watched as he took stock, then opened his eyes
and regarded her. “Better.” Taking a breath, he
wrinkled his nose, then jerked upright. He looked at
the ground around him. “I thought I…” He trailed
“I’m afraid you did,” she said sympathetically. She
indicated the spot about six feet away.
His eyes alit on the area indicated, and his face
reddened, yet he didn’t say anything.
She touched a finger to the back of his hand. “You
don’t have to hide from me, Mulder.”
He shook his head and looked down at his lap. “I
don’t want you to see me looking like that.”
“But I did.” She knelt down beside him. “And it
hasn’t changed anything.” He shrugged, and she could
tell that though he believed her, it still troubled
Looking up, he met her eyes. “What happened with
Dexter? I assume you found the device since I’m able
to sit here and talk to you.” His eyebrows furrowed
in question. “So what happened?”
Trying not to recall the scene she’d come upon when
she found their suspect, Scully looked away.
“Dexter’s dead. I found the device and destroyed it.
End of story.”
“What aren’t you telling me?” he asked, softly, and
she thought how there were times when she absolutely
hated the fact that he knew her so well.
“He asked me to kill him,” she stated flatly.
Mulder displayed the tiniest bit of surprise. “And
Crossing her arms across her chest, she sighed. “He
wasn’t as lucky as we were, stuck inside a nice box,
with bars all around us.” She stopped, picturing the
scene in her mind. “There were fence pickets laying
everywhere, sticking up out of the ground… All but
one missed him.” She took a deep breath to try to
steady her increasingly faster-beating heart. “He ‘d
lost a lot of blood, but he was still alive.” She
looked away. “He pleaded with me to shoot him.”
The compassion in Mulder’s eyes made her glad she’d
done what she was about to tell him next.
“I made him tell me about the device he was using on
you.” At the question in his eyes, she explained. “He
had it in his jeans pocket. I took it and destroyed
it.” She focused on his face. “He had hidden similar
devices all over the D.C. area three years ago.” At
Mulder’s appalled look, she nodded. “For those CEO’s
he didn’t get to finish off. You were given the honor
of being subjected to the milder version. Because you
had nothing to do with his mother’s death, and for
doing your job, and doing it well, you got off easy.”
His look of disbelief made her laugh. “I know. I
know.” She patted his shoulder. “But at least you’re
alive. The others, if he’d been able to activate
them, would have eventually killed them.”
“Do you know where they’re hidden?” he asked.
She nodded, taking a notebook out of her pocket.
“Everything is in here: where they’re hidden, how to
activate them, the intended target.” She tapped the
small brown book with her finger. “As well as all his
little ‘experiments’ out here. And his…
Mulder gave a low whistle. “Some legacy he left,” he
commented, then gazed at her. “So did you…” He left
it at that.
She met his eyes, not blinking. “I couldn’t do it.”
He nodded. “What happened?” he asked softly.
She drew in a deep breath, then blew it out. “I took
aim, and I was all set to pull the trigger… and I
just couldn’t.” She glanced down guiltily at him.
Although grateful for the love and support in his
gaze, she had to look away for what was coming next.
“He grabbed my gun. A dying, mortally-wounded man
took away my weapon and shot himself with it.”
When she looked back at Mulder, she was dismayed by
the shock on his face. “He could have killed you,
She shook her head. “He didn’t want to kill me.” Her
eyes met his. “And he didn’t really take my gun away.
I gave it to him.”
Mulder’s shocked look increased. “Jesus, Scully…”
She looked down at her shoes; she really did not want
to tell him this. “It was his price for telling me
where he’d hidden the device,” she practically
mumbled. “…That I kill him or let him kill
“Jesus…” he whispered. “Scully — ”
“Don’t even say it, Mulder.” She met his eyes again,
her own full of conviction. “He named a price — you
— and I paid it. Don’t even *think* for a minute
that I shouldn’t have.”
“But… he could have killed you.”
She sighed in exasperation. “You didn’t see him. I
did. You didn’t examine him. You didn’t see how much
he was suffering.” She shook her head. “He had barely
enough strength to pull the trigger once. He wasn’t
about to waste that shot on me.” She looked hard into
his eyes, as if that could make him see. “I made a
judgement call, Mulder. Either you trust me on this,
or you mull over for the rest of your life the fact
that I love you enough to take chances with my life
to save yours.” She narrowed her eyes at him and
quirked an eyebrow. “Sound familiar?”
She was relieved to see him visibly relax at that.
His lips even twitched upward almost in a smile.
“Yeah. I guess I can relate.”
Scully laughed. “Understatement of the year.”
Mulder chuckled, then winced when Scully helped him
to his feet.
“Shoulder still sore?”
He nodded, then said in a sheepish voice, “But my
stomach muscles hurt more.”
Scully nodded in sympathy; all that vomiting had
taken its toll. “I’ll bet,” she said, rubbing his
Mulder gazed at her lovingly, then he smirked. “How
about we get the hell out of Dodge, pardner?”
Rolling her eyes, Scully groaned. “You’ve just been
waiting for the right time to use that, haven’t you?”
Her partner smiled happily. “Yeah.” He raised an
eyebrow. “And you haven’t?”
She shook her head. “Never even occurred to me.”
When Mulder rolled his eyes at her, Scully laughed.
A.D. Skinner’s Office
“That’s the last of them,” Skinner sighed as he hung
up the phone.
“I’m impressed,” Mulder stated. “We just turned in
that notebook this afternoon.”
Skinner smiled. “Some pretty powerful people were on
that list, Agent Mulder.”
“What about the other… information?” Scully asked.
“That’s not your concern, Agent.” Skinner seemed
surprised at his harsh tone, and his next comment
came out a little milder. “The FBI has turned it over
to another agency.”
Mulder exchanged a look with Scully. Neither had to
ask which agency.
“So…” Skinner claimed their attention once again.
“That ends that. You can go home, Agents.”
Mulder nodded and stood up, Scully right by his side.
As they started for the door, Skinner stopped them.
They turned around to face him.
“That was good work,” Skinner said quietly. “I’m glad
we can finally lay this case to rest.”
“Thank you, sir,” Mulder heard Scully say, while he
could only nod dumbly. What good work had he done?
Unless Skinner counted getting sick at every step a
plus, and in that event he solved this one by
When Scully turned and continued to the door, Mulder
followed her out. He was still embarrassed that his
partner had seen him in so many unflattering
situations. He couldn’t help but recall how irritated
she’d been during their search for Dexter when she’d
had to pull over every few minutes so he could vomit.
Just the thought made him feel humiliated all over
His head jerked up in surprise. “Huh?” Finding his
partner’s eyes filled with mild annoyance, he shook
off the feeling of deja vu.
“I said, do you want to get some dinner?”
“Um…” He really wasn’t all that hungry, but if he
said so, he was certain he’d be facing The
When Scully gave him a stern look, Mulder returned a
confused one. “Not here,” she said, motioning him
into the elevator.
Not sure what he’d done to get the silent treatment,
he nonetheless accompanied her to their office, where
they packed up and left in utter silence.
He was confident enough not to worry that she didn’t
love him any longer, and from the looks she was
throwing his way, he was beginning to see what had
upset her. He sighed. It wasn’t his fault that he
felt that way. And look who was calling the kettle
black! The ‘I’m fine” queen. The original ‘never let
them see you sweat’ model — or in her instance,
‘never show any weakness, never let Mulder comfort
you, never let him take care of you or allow him to
see you at anything less than your absolute perfect
How dare she be upset at his being embarrassed! She’d
had a front row seat to what he’d never been allowed
to even *know* about when *she* was sick.
Once they were in the car and Scully turned to him,
Mulder was ready to counter any argument she gave him
about his feelings.
Her softly-uttered, “I’m sorry,” totally derailed his
“What?” was all he could manage.
“Because it was you, because it’s absurd to me that I
would see you in any light other than perfect, I’d
discounted how very humiliating it feels to have
someone watching while you’re feeling as far from
perfect as you can feel.” She cupped his cheek. “And
I apologize for how much worse I made you feel in the
car. In my defense, I can only say that I was so
anxious to catch Dexter and put a stop to what he was
doing to you, that I forgot about *you.*”
Mulder swallowed hard, nodding. While he appreciated
her viewpoint and could understand her impatience,
still it hurt. In time, he would push it out of his
mind, but for now the memory was too sharp to simply
brush aside. He took a deep breath, and dredged up a
smile. “It’s okay,” he said softly.
She gave him the eyebrow, and he laughed.
“It will be,” he amended. Taking her hand in his, he
brought it to his lips and gently kissed her palm.
“Because I know you love me.”
“Damned right,” she averred. After a few seconds, he
let her go so she could start the car.
As she drove in silence, his mind couldn’t help but
wander back to the previous day and what she’d gone
through alone with Dexter. He hadn’t been the only
one who’d had a tough time of it.
“You’ll be all right, too, Scully.”
Eyes never leaving the road, she smiled. “I know.”
When she didn’t say anything else, Mulder felt the
need to prompt her. “Do you know why?”
A wistful smile came to her face. “Because you know I
Mulder shook his head slowly from side to side.
“You’re impossible,” he said good-naturedly.
Taking her eyes off the road for a moment, Scully
glanced at him. “Do you know why?
“Because I love you,” Mulder said quietly.
Scully nodded with enthusiasm.