At Last

at last

AT LAST

AUTHOR: Traveler
RATING: PG-13 for language, mild violence.
CATEGORY.: Casefile
DISCLAIMER: Characters from The X-Files are property of FOX and 1013, I just borrowed them to fulfill a fantasy. No infringement intended…besides they don’t seem to have any use for them anymore.
SPOILERS: None that we know of.
SUMMARY: A dream is an answer to a question we haven’t learned to ask…How would Mulder look in a fedora?

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At last my love has come along

My lonely days are over

And life is like a song

Mack Gordon

CRADDOCK MARINE BANK

12:21 PM

Scully remembered the last time the two of them had been in a branch of this bank. The

desperate young man decked out in explosives and the young woman who had somehow

found herself between a bullet and Mulder. This was Craddock’s main office here in

D.C., a huge stately building built back in the thirties, its façade and pillars covered in

aged pink granite. As she followed him across the polished floor, her eyes took in the

huge marble columns and beautiful woodwork of the interior of the banking

establishment. It reminded her of something in an old movie. “Doesn’t this place remind

you of something out of a noir detective story, Mulder?” Scully asked as he stopped at the

unoccupied front desk. “You could play the part of Philip Marlow

“Philip Marlow?” he asked, turning to look at her with that quirky grin on his face.

Scully gave him a swoon, “You know the movie last night, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren

Bacall…”

Mulder chuckled, he didn’t remember much of the movie last night, “You watch too

many of those old movies, Scully.”

“They’re the best ones.” She was glad for the uneasy truce they had reached since last

evening. For the time being Mulder seemed to have put their heated discussion behind

him. She still wasn’t sure why he had insisted they come here today. It was something

he’d obviously planned but in his usual manner hadn’t provided much of the details. There

was something about the place that made her feel uneasy. As if at any minute a band of

trench-coated, fedora-wearing thugs carrying sub-machine guns would invade the place.

She chuckled to herself, maybe Mulder was right, she had been watching too many old

movies lately.

“Fox Mulder,” a well-educated voice said to her right. She glanced over to catch Mulder

accepting the hand of an expensively tailored gentleman with slightly graying hair.

“John McKinley, guardian of the Mulder estate,” Mulder greeted him, shaking his hand

vigorously with a grin.

“Glad to see you finally got that cast off your arm. Now maybe you’ll let me try and beat

you at some round ball.”

“I hate to admit it,” he turned to catch Scully’s eye. “But right now, you probably could.”

“Well, come on back to my office, I’ve got everything all ready for you,” John said,

turning to lead the way with a grin that made him look younger than his graying hair.

Mulder motioned for Scully to precede him as they followed John through a passageway

behind a partial glass divider and into a large cubical. “This must be Dana,” he said

reaching over the desk to extend his hand to her as well. “Mulder’s told me all about you.

It’s about time someone got through to that heart of his.”

“Ssscully,” she caught the hesitation in Mulder’s voice as he winced at her. “John is my

financial advisor.” She shook John’s hand firmly. “John, Dana Scully, my…partner.”

Mulder made the introductions as if it pained him and then took a seat. Scully glanced

between the two men. John bit his lip as if momentarily judging what Mulder’s definition

of ‘partner’ might be and then ran his tongue across his lower lip as he motioned for

Scully to take the other seat. “I just need your signature on a few things here Dana and

then I hope this gentleman is going to buy you lunch,” he looked pointedly at Mulder.

“Maybe someone could tell me just what it is I’m putting my signature on…?” Scully

said, turning to Mulder.

Mulder looked to John and then turned to his partner. “John brought it to my attention

that some accounts I have here should have counter signatures on them.” When Scully

looked at him questioningly, he continued. “In case something should happen to me—

someone should have access to the funds.” Scully felt that uneasiness again as she took

the pen John offered her.

“EVERYBODY DOWN! DOWN ON THE FLOOR! NOW!”

The voice was loud enough to make all three of them jump. A few screams erupted from

customers, a child started to cry. “YOU ALL GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR AND NO

ONE GETS HURT!” The sound of booted footsteps echoed around the cavernous bank

building, a semi automatic was cocked. “I WANT THE DRAWERS EMPTIED.

THESE GENTLEMEN WILL ASSIST YOU. NO ALARMS OR EVERYONE DIES.

DO YOU UNDERSTAND!”

John got to his feet but Mulder, rising with him, instantly reached to grab his arm.

“Wait,” he insisted turning to Scully. “Get down! Under the desk!”

“Mulder, no,” she started to get up, reaching behind her for her Sig.

“Damn it, Scully, get down, use your cell, get the police in here now!” He practically

shoved her down behind the desk. By now both John and Mulder were visible over the

glass partition.

“YOU TWO, OUT HERE NOW! HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM!”

As Mulder and John emerged from behind the partition, hands in the air, Mulder could

see at least a dozen people lying on the floor. A young mother held her daughter against

her side trying to quiet her. The man doing all the yelling was standing center stage

wearing a President Bush mask, holding a semi-automatic rifle. Three other Bush

imposters had vaulted over the counters and were collecting cash from the drawers.

There were sounds coming from the vault as well. It was all too eerily familiar to

Mulder.

“UP AGAINST THE WALL, HANDS ON THE GLASS!”

Mulder turned around to his right to face the glass partition, keeping his arms close to his

body so as not to expose his service weapon. John followed his lead and they both placed

their palms on the glass. The sweaty marks John’s palms made on the glass alerted

Mulder that the man was scared to death. “Just do what they say. Take it slow,” he said

in a low voice, trying to reassure his friend.

“SHUT UP! FACE THE WALL NOW!”

From where he stood, Mulder was looking right at Scully as she placed her cell on the

desk, obviously leaving the line open. He tried to mouth a “No” as he watched her

remove her gun and check the clip; finally resorting to a furious shake of his head when

she finally met his eyes. He refused to let her be the hero here.

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”

The booming voice made Mulder jump. He hadn’t heard the group leader come up

behind him and now he too was looking right at Scully. She never hesitated, rushing

along the partition to plant herself in the doorway, gun raised in defiance. “F.B.I., drop

your weapon now!”

From the corner of his eye, Mulder saw the man raise his weapon; he had no choice now

but to act. Instinctively pushing John out of the way he made a leap for Scully. She

heard the man’s weapon discharge and felt an impact, felt herself hit the wall and then the

floor came up and everything went black.

MARGARET SCULLY’S RESIDENCE

24 HOURS EARLIER

Mulder walked into the kitchen in search of a beverage only to find Tara trying to stir

something on the stove and balance Claire on her hip at the same time. An act, he had

decided long ago only a mother could do. He stepped over to her and reached his hands

out to the toddler. “Here, I’ll take her.” Surprised at his offer Tara smiled and let Mulder

pull her daughter into his arms. She giggled when he made a silly face and the two of

them stepped over to the screen door to check out the back yard.

It was a melancholy memory for Tara, Bill doing much the same thing. For some reason

he had been closer to their daughter than to Matthew, making her think that maybe there

was something to that father-daughter, mother-son relationship thing after all. Mulder,

somewhat to her surprise, had taken on the “uncle” status of his own accord. Over the

summer he had become Matthew’s sports coach and Claire’s own personal pony.

Mulder’s connection to the Scully family for the most part hadn’t been a good one though

in all honesty, even she could acknowledge that was not entirely his fault. He and his life

were hard to understand but what she did know what that he loved Dana, and cared very

deeply for all of them. As she watched him making faces with Claire she couldn’t help

but think that somewhere inside this man of mystery, there lived a father trying to find his

way out. She finished up and put the lid back on the pot, crossing the kitchen to where

Mulder was standing playing some kind of guessing game with her daughter.

“A baby looks good on you, Mulder,” she said when she reached the pair.

“Excuse me?” Mulder looked somewhat astonished by her comment, setting Claire down

on the floor.

She smiled at him. “You’re really good with the kids, especially Matthew. I’ve never

gotten the chance to thank you.”

Mulder looked down and then out into the backyard. “You don’t have to thank me for

anything, Tara, they’re great kids.”

“You always find a way to make time to do things with them. You wouldn’t do that if it

didn’t mean something to you. Maybe you and Dana should think about having some of

your own.”

Growing increasingly uneasy with the conversation Mulder chuckled under his breath.

“I’m forty-four Tara; it was never in the cards.” He looked at her now somewhat

confused. “You know Dana can’t have children.”

“Well, don’t give up on the idea.” Tara said, reaching out to touch his arm. “You never

know what life may offer you. There are other options, Fox.”

Claire was starting to tug on Mulder’s leg. “Come with me…”

“But first you have to make an honorable woman out of her.” When Mulder met her eyes

she continued. “How many years did it take you to admit to her you loved her? Don’t

take that long to ask her to marry you.” She reached down to take Claire’s hand.

“Claire, what are you doing to your Uncle Fox?” Scully’s voice filled the kitchen

startling them both. Claire let go of Mulder and ran across the kitchen into her arms.

“Come on, lets find you a seat at the table,” Dana picked the child up giving them both at

pointed look as she turned and walked out of the room.

Tara met Mulder’s eyes again, “Besides, you’d make Maggie very happy, and she needs a

little happiness in her life now.”

MULDER & SCULLY’S RESIDENCE

LATER THAT EVENING

Maggie’s dinner had been a quick affair. She and Tara and Scully had talked over what

the kids were up to and Mulder had sat and contemplated his conversation with Tara in

silence. They had stayed for coffee and pie and then headed for home for a quiet evening

together.

“What are we watching?” Mulder asked as he settled in beside her on the couch and

handed her the bowl of popcorn.

“The Big Sleep,” she replied.

“Guaranteed to put me to sleep, that’s all there is?”

“Bogie and Bacall, Mulder, classic film Noir, I love these old detective stories; tall dark

handsome men in trench coats and fedora’s lurking about in dark alleys or driving classic

cars.”

“Is that what it takes to win you over, a trench coat and a fedora?”

“You’re assuming you’re already handsome?” The impish grin on her face made him

smile, “You’d look great in one of those you know.”

“Yeah, I’d look like Indiana Jones’ younger brother.”

They sat in compatible silence watching the film and munching on the dry popcorn. She

found it odd for him to be so silent; he usually ran commentary through just about every

movie they watched together. Something else was evidently on his mind and had been

for the better part of the day, ever since she’d found him talking to Tara in her mother’s

kitchen.

“So what were you and Tara talking about this afternoon?” It sounded nosey and she

knew it. He didn’t say anything at first, reaching over and taking a swig of his beer. She

watched as he seemed to contemplate the bottle before setting it down. “The kids, she

told me I looked good with a kid on my hip.”

The comment threw her for a loop; it certainly wasn’t what she’d been expecting him to

say. They had long ago dropped any conversations of regrets and lost children, moving

on with the life they shared together. Mulder caught her distress. “She — was just

thanking me for spending time with the kids. I told her I enjoyed it.”

Putting the popcorn bowl aside she studied his profile for a moment as he turned back to

the movie. She knew it was there, deep in her own subconscious; a fear that her

infertility was keeping him from something he wanted but would never admit. “I know

you do. I can see it every time we’re with them.” She leaned a little tighter against him.

“Mulder, you’ve never really told me if you wanted children of your own.”

“Mini-Mulders? Now there’s a scary thought,” he answered in jest. “We’ve had this

conversation before, Scully,” his voice a soft baritone in her ear. He wrapped his arm

around her back, resting it on the cushion behind her, his hand coming to rest on her

shoulder. “All I want is you.”

She wouldn’t look at him, her eyes drawn to the black and white images in their TV

screen. He breathed out, the gentle puff billowing strands of her hair. His left hand came

up to cup her chin and he gently turned her face towards his, “Scully, look at me.”

His eyes when she met them were dark in the dim light of their living room. She watched

him swallow. His hand still cupped her chin. “Marry me.”

Her lips parted. Of all the things she would have expected him to say to her at that

moment, that was the furthest from her mind. He’d said it to her before in innuendo, in

making other comments like picking out china patterns over the years but at that moment,

from the look he was giving her, she knew for the first time he was absolutely serious.

Taken aback by the suddenness of the proposal she had no idea how to respond to him.

“What?”

He dropped his hand and smiled at her. “I’m asking you to marry me. You know, be

Mrs. Fox Mulder,” his eyes danced with mirth. “Of course you could still be Dana

Scully, which would probably be better since it would be a little inconvenient if we called

each other ‘Mulder’. Come on, what do you say, make an honest man out of me?”

It hit her then in that last sentence what the conversation with Tara had been about. It

was a comment her mother had occasionally thrown at her but never held against her.

And for all the wrong reasons it hit a nerve. “Is that what this is about? Making me an

honest woman? Just what are you implying, Mulder?”

She watched the smile disappear from his face. “I’m not IMPLYING anything. I have no

doubt about your integrity. I just don’t want anyone else to think otherwise.”

Scooting back from him on the couch, she was now out of arm’s reach. “What brought

this on? We have a marriage in every sense of the word but the piece of paper that makes

it legal. Why is that suddenly so important to you? Why now?”

“What do you mean, why now? Why NOT now?” His defenses were going up and so

was his blood pressure. How had a simple question turned into a heated debate? “We’ve

been living together for two years; this courtship has lasted for what, twelve?” Gunfire

erupted on the television; he picked up the remote and turned the television off tossing it

onto the table with a satisfying whack. “I see how people look at us. For years we’ve

lived with the rumors and innuendos. We’ve been mistaken for a couple ten times over.

In the personal and professional sense I don’t know how to introduce you to anyone

anymore — partner, friend, lover, roommate…”

“We ARE all those things. The only thing ‘wife’ will change is that you won’t need

‘partner’ anymore Mulder. The F.B. I. doesn’t allow married couples to work together,

think about that. You of all people should understand the uniqueness of our situation.

Somehow we’re flying under the F.B.I. radar right now because even though we live

together we’re still working together. Don’t you see? As it is now, we have the best of

both worlds.”

He glared at her then, “I don’t intend to spend the rest of my life in the F.B. I., Scully.”

Truth was neither did she but this was the first time she’d heard him admit it about

himself. She scooted back toward him, trying to put together the words that would make

him understand that their partnership went much deeper than any marriage possibly

could. “Mulder, listen to me for a moment.” Reaching to touch him she watched as he

turned away and launched himself off the couch. “I’m not saying no.”

“Well that’s funny,” he sneered as he turned back to face her. “Cause I sure haven’t heard

you say yes either.”

She closed her eyes and let out a breath of frustration. Opening them again she begged

him with her eyes, “How do I make you see that what we have here together is enough?

Somehow out of the ashes of our lives we’ve built a home here together. It’s made me

very happy. Are you telling me that you don’t feel the same way? How is our

relationship different from a marriage?”

“There’s no Mister or Misses in this relationship Scully, that’s what makes it different.

Legally we’re nothing more to each other than good friends.”

“That’s it? Good friends?”

He closed his eyes, let the sigh escape and then opened them again. “No — look, I’m

sorry,” he rubbed his hand across his forehead, for a moment she thought she saw it

shaking. “Forget I even started this conversation. I’m tired and I have a splitting

headache, I’m going to bed.”

With his recent history, she worried every time he complained of a headache. She was

suddenly struck with the thought that something else had prompted this conversation.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” their eyes met over his curt reply.

“Not that you would tell me otherwise,” she got up from the couch herself, the movie

long forgotten. Bending over to pick up the popcorn bowl and their two empty bottles,

she addressed him again. “I worry about you, about what’s happened to you since we

acquired that other artifact. I don’t want to lose you, Mulder.”

“You don’t want to lose me but you don’t want to marry me either is that it?”

“Dammit, Mulder, don’t put words in my mouth. It’s just that sometimes your obstinacy

frightens me. This has gone way beyond the fanatical. You’re so obsessed with the idea

that you’ve been given some gift — some window to the future that will somehow allow

you to prevent this Armageddon you believe is coming that you won’t even consider the

possibility that health wise, something could be terribly wrong. You worry about every

life but your own,” she let out another sigh as her shoulders slumped. Her eyes scanned

the room as if for divine guidance. It was a test of his patience but Mulder just stood

there waiting her out. “I used to think it was just your careless single-minded pursuit of

the truth. Now, I’m not so sure. These trips you take off the deep end…sometimes you

don’t seem like yourself. I wonder how far you’ll go with this.”

“You think I’m crazy, that I’m off my nut?” he questioned her with astonishment. “Are

you afraid of me Scully, is that it?”

“I’m afraid FOR you, Mulder. The toll this is taking on you physically. You just got

cleared for active duty from the last case. You cover it well but I know your leg still

bothers you. You don’t sleep well, these headaches…”

“How the hell did we get on this subject?” Mulder erupted, his arms flying out to either

side as he glared at her.

“Because, this subject affects the other subject! I’m tired of you taking the risks you do.

Can you promise me that if we were married that would change?”

They had been standing several feet apart in the living room; her arms full of dishes and

his head throbbing. Suddenly feeling the need to do something, he clenched his fists in

frustration and took the several steps towards her and grabbed the dishes from her hands.

“No, I can not promise you that so let’s just forget this conversation ever happened,” his

voice was flat as he turned away from her and headed for the kitchen clenching the dishes

in a death grip.

“I’m not forgetting you asked Mulder,” she said as he reached the doorway.

He stopped and turned to face her, “I know this isn’t the conversation we started but I

need you to understand something. I won’t lie to you, Scully. I take the risks I do

because I believe their outcome will be worth it. I believe the truth is out there, waiting

to be known, nothing has changed that. And if this ‘gift’ as you call it, will lead me to it

why would I not use it? You’re the one who told me God has his reasons — then there’s

got to be a reason for this.”

“Are you saying you believe this is a gift from God, Mulder?”

His head turned a little, in not quite a ‘no’, “What do you believe, Scully?” When she

didn’t answer he turned back towards the kitchen. “I need to see this thing through to the

end whatever its purpose, wherever it takes me. I just want to be certain that you’ll be

okay when it’s all over.”

Her brow furrowed as he spoke, “Us, Mulder, wherever it takes us. When will you

realize you’re not alone in this? Please don’t forget how much our partnership means to

both of us. It’s really all we need.”

She watched him stand there, mulling over her words. When he finally turned back to

face her it was for a totally different reason. “Don’t forget I need you to come to the bank

with me tomorrow, around noon, there’s something we need to take care of. Is that okay

with you?”

She wasn’t sure he had accepted her resolution instead reminding her of an appointment

he’d only mentioned the day before. “Yes, I remember, that’s fine,” she answered as she

watched him disappear into the kitchen.

D.C. GENERAL HOSPITAL

PRESENT DAY

She knew before she opened her eyes where she was. The scratchy sheets, the smell of

disinfectant, the echoes of voices in the hallway, the only question that remained was

which hospital she now found herself in. Her head swam and a brief bout of nausea

swept over her as she surveyed the room. The empty room she noticed with alarm.

“Well, look who’s awake,” the all too sweet voice of a nurse suddenly appearing in her

doorway drew her gaze in that direction; the sudden movement causing her vision to blur.

“A little dizzy,” she whispered.

“I’m not surprised honey,” the nurse came into the room, resting her hand on the bedrail.

“You have a nasty bump on the head, severe concussion, you’ve been in and out for quite

a while…”

The scene from the bank came back to her, Mulder coming at her, the sound of gunshots.

“Where’s my partner? Mulder?” She looked up at the nurse with alarm.

“I don’t know honey. I just came on the floor. There hasn’t been anyone up here to see

you that I know of. You need to rest. Your doctor’s prescribed some Compazine for the

nausea.” She could feel the nurse adjusting her IV and then her eyes drifted shut again.

The second time she opened her eyes was a little easier. The room didn’t seem to swim

as much and the nausea was gone. This time the room wasn’t empty either. She sized up

the figure sitting in the chair next to her bed. He dozed on, his head cocked at an

awkward angle against his left shoulder, his right arm in a sling. She hesitated to wake

him but the mere fact that Mulder was sitting beside her looking relatively intact made

her feel one hundred percent better.

As if on cue, he stirred, his eyes opening as he straightened his neck with an audible

crack. Catching her eye, he leaned over and pecked a kiss against her cheek. “Hey

sleepy,” he smiled gently, adjusting her blankets and taking her hand in his. She eyed

him carefully. He was dressed in his dress slacks and a green hospital scrub. The heavy

shadow across his cheeks made him looked haggard. He had a nasty bruise on his right

cheekbone. Tape from bandage dressing was visible under the neck of the shirt.

“What happened?” she finally asked letting go of his hand to caress the bruise.

“My face sort of got in the way of George Bush’s boot,” he replied, picking nervously at

his sling. “Right after you tried to pull one of my hair-brained stunts.”

She reached to grab his hand again, “And you stepped in front of the bullet.”

“It’s just a flesh wound, no major damage.” He tugged on the sling and looked up at her

again. “Actually, it was more like I leapt in front of it,” he said with a wince. “But yeah,

I tackled you; you hit the floor before I did. I’m sorry, Scully. They want to keep you

here overnight for observation.”

“Sorry for what? For saving my life?”

“I told you last night I could never make that promise to you.” He met her eyes again and

sighed, “Besides, it was more like you saved ours. The cavalry showed up just in time to

save the day.”

“And I had no right to ask that of you,” it was a fact she had realized last night even as

she was making the request. “What about John? Was anyone else hurt?”

“No, everyone is fine, a little shaken up,” he looked away from her. “They’ll probably all

be looking to bank elsewhere, somewhere Fox Mulder isn’t a customer.”

“What am I going to do with you, Mulder?” She tried to take his hand again but he

refused her.

“I don’t know, but I wish you’d figure it out,” his voice now suddenly full of frustration.

“Cause right now I’m at a loss trying to figure you out,” he finished abruptly and rose

from the chair stepping to the foot of her bed. “Look, I need to think some things over,”

she watched him look about the room, everywhere but at her. “I’ll call in the morning;

make sure you’re going to be released before I come back to get you.”

She was taken aback by his sudden act of departure, “Mulder?”

He turned around, “I’m tired Scully, I just want to go home.”

There was something in his manner that told her he wasn’t talking about being physically

tired. They’d been here before, she knew, asking themselves that question of whether or

not it was all worth it. But this was different, this wasn’t a question about the X-Files

future, it was a question regarding their own.

He smiled a weak smile and tugged on her toe beneath the blanket and then gave her a

gentle wave as he headed out the door. She lay there for a moment in the empty room

tugging the covers tighter as she drifted off again wishing for his warmth.

*

I awake to the sound of voices in the hall, male voices. I keep hearing my name

mentioned so I know they are talking about me. It irritates the hell out of me that they

don’t feel I should be privy to their conversation. One is my father; I don’t recognize the

other man.

“I just don’t think we should go through the Bureau on this. You start spreading her name

around any governmental organization and questions start to get asked about why some

Navy captain’s daughter needs government protection.”

“But you work for a governmental organization yourself Captain, you sound like you

don’t trust them yourself.”

“It’s not our government I don’t trust, it’s who might be listening to what our government

is doing that I don’t trust. You know as well as I do there are spies everywhere these

days.”

“Germany already knows we’re working on an A-bomb, Sir. What I don’t understand is

why she’s here and not at Oak Ridge with everyone else.”

“You don’t need to know why she’s here. All I’m asking from you is that you find me

someone to protect her, a bodyguard, someone you trust.”

“Someone that doesn’t work for the government.”

This is the second time today I’ve fallen asleep slumped over the lab table. We’ve been

working almost round the clock on this project and I am exhausted. But when I hear the

word “bodyguard” from my father I’m up off my chair and headed for the door, pulling

my hair back into a sensible pony tail and making an attempt to straighten my rumpled

clothes. I don’t need a damn bodyguard, what I need is a hot soak and a change of

clothes. They both jump when I open the door.

My father is standing there all proper in his Navy blues; this other man is tall and balding

with heavy glasses and a dark trench coat, obviously a Fed. I look at my father first,

“Don’t Dad, just don’t. I don’t need anybody watching over me, nobody has a clue what

we’re working on here anyway.”

“The Navy does and we don’t want the Germans finding out. It could mean the difference

between the success and failure of project!”

Out of the corner of my eye I notice this Fed put his hat back on and make an attempt to

walk away from this little family squabble. My father catches it too, “Where do you

think you’re going? I’m not through with you yet!” Then he turns back to me. “Dana,

honey,” he reaches out to caress my cheek and as much as I’m angry for his over-

protectiveness, I lean into his touch. “You look exhausted. Why don’t you go back to the

house, get some rest? Let me work this out.”

I am tired, and I want nothing more than a bed and those things I mentioned to myself

before. Go ahead Dad, work it out, just don’t expect me to go along with it. I nod and

turn to pull the door to the lab shut. My father and this Fed start to walk off down the

hall but not out of earshot. “Look Captain, I really think you’d be better off working with

the government on this but I might know someone, private dick, good guy despite your

first impressions. Is this going to be on your dime?”

“Will he be expensive?”

“Marty?” the Fed says, turning back in my direction. “Despite first impressions, he’s a

man of good character. I’m sure whatever you offer him will be fine.”

It takes me a while to find a driver to take me up to the estate. The Navy has put most of

its tactical personnel up in this Victorian estate just outside of Baltimore. My father must

have more clout than I imagined. When I finally get to my room I don’t even bother to

undress. I just pull the drapes and flop into bed.

I don’t know how long I slept; it felt so good to be lying in a bed again. Anna, our

housekeeper must have heard me stirring because she came into to inform me that we

would be having a guest for dinner and that maybe I should make myself look

presentable for once, I just hope it isn’t this Marty character.

I comb my hair and roll it into a chignon and then paw through the closet for a suit I

haven’t worn in ages. I need some heels. I hate looking up to people. I actually take the

time to put on a little makeup, Dad will be shocked.

When I get downstairs I’m disappointed to learn Dad, excuse me, the Captain, hasn’t

arrived yet. Seems there’s a big strategy meeting in the operations center so I get to do

the entertaining. Anna winks at me and then opens the door to the sitting room, “The

gentleman is waiting in here.”

“The gentleman,” as Anna referred to him is standing by the window admiring the

scenery. Smoke curling about his head. He turns when the door opens taking one last

drag before stubbing his cigarette out in the ashtray on the table. He’s about the same

height as the Fed who was here earlier only considerably younger. He’s dressed like the

Fed too in a trench coat. I watch him fumble with the well-worn fedora he’s been

holding. “The Captain is going to be a little late; can I have Anna take your hat and coat?”

He divests himself of the coat and hands them both to Anna who promptly bustles out of

the room. He’s dressed extremely well for his profession in a double-breasted suit and I

find myself unexpectedly drawn to his lanky form. Most of your private detectives look

like they shop at the thrift store. As much as his dark hair and smoky eyes intrigue me I

still don’t want him following me around. “You look like a much better dinner

companion than the Captain anyway, Doll.” I bristle at the salutation but the baritone

timbre of his voice makes me tingle, I know his type and I’m not going to let myself be

played.

“Yes, well, I’m not the one who asked you here Mr.?”

“Marty, the name’s Marty,” he replies rather distractedly sliding his hands into his

pockets.

I need something to do so I offer him a drink and walk over to the library table to see

what the men have left there. There’s only one choice so I pick up the bottle and show it

to him, “How do you like your scotch?”

“In a glass,” he replies rather sarcastically.

I choose to ignore his poor joke and drop some ice in the glasses. As I’m pouring us both

a scotch he digs in his breast pocket and pulls out a pack of cigarettes. “Smoke?”

“No, thank you, I don’t smoke.”

“Well, neither do I, it just goes with the look,” a boyish grin crosses his lips as he lights

up. I walk over and hand him his drink. His fingers are cold.

I sip my scotch hoping it will steady my nerves. “Look — Marty, I’m not sure just what

you’ve been told but I’ve already made it clear to the Captain that I don’t need your

services.”

He swigs the scotch and sets the glass down, taking a drag on his cigarette, he meets my

eyes. “Just so we’re clear, I ain’t too thrilled about the prospect either. I don’t know what

your old man’s game is, Miss. But it seems that since he’s out there fighting a war the

least I can do is protect the home front.”

Obviously he’s been told the Captain is my father. He sizes me up and down and I find it

disconcerting until he meets my eyes, taking another drag on the cigarette. “Look Red, as

far as I’m concerned you’re just another job. Not that keepin’ my eyes on a dame is my

usual practice but I could use the cash.”

I’d like to smack him for using the word ‘dame’ but then I figure it’s just part of his

vocabulary. The ‘Red” on the other hand is another story. “My name is not Red.”

I watch him wander over and help himself to a second scotch, “What would you prefer I

call you then?”

I don’t even want him here, “Dana will be fine.”

He swigs most of the scotch again, “Yes, ma’am.”

I hate being called that too.

Dad finally shows up and we manage to get through dinner. Every time I look up from

my plate Marty, as he’s told us to call him is looking at me. He’s handsome in a roguish

sort of way and somewhere in his mysterious past he must have had a good up-bringing.

The pleasantries over, dad ultimately turns the conversation to the war. “Tell me Marty,

how is it that you’re not over on the front lines.”

Marty looks at me and then turns back to my father, “Somebody has to keep an eye on the

home front, sir.”

I don’t think my father likes his answer but you can’t argue with it. “Yes, well, if we don’t

win this war there may not be anything for you to keep an eye on. We all need to do our

part.”

“Isn’t that why I’m here?”

“Yes, and let’s get down to that.” Dad motions Anna to clear the table. “I’m sure you’re

aware of the Manhattan Project?”

“Yeah, it’s some science fiction project based on Einstein’s theory of relativity our

governments’ involved in to build an atomic weapon.”

“This SCIENCE FICTION project, mister, could wipe Germany off the globe!” My

father pounds the table with his fist and I watch Marty flinch at the vehemence.

“So you’re involved in this research?” Marty asks looking directly at me. Without a

cigarette he has nothing to do with his hands so I watch him play with his spoon left from

dinner.

“NO,” Dad’s voice booms in the room. “While the U.S. is busy working away at places

like Oak River and Los Alamos; intelligence reports have informed us that the Germans

may also be trying to develop atomic weapons. I’m sure you’ll agree we can’t let that

happen.”

“Yeah, I agree, go on.”

“Over the past several years our allies have been watching the activity at the Norsk Hydro

plant in Vemork, Norway. It’s been under Nazi control since 1940. The plant produces

heavy water.”

Anna brings coffee for all of us and leaves the room. I watch Marty stir his even though

he hasn’t put anything into it. “So what exactly is this heavy water?”

Finally I can get a word in on the conversation, “D2O, it’s the key to one type of reactor

in which you can breed plutonium from natural uranium.”

I watch Marty as he sips his coffee and considers this. He looks back and forth between

my father and I and finally addressed my father, “So, why haven’t the allies destroyed the

plant?”

“Two raids on the facility so far have failed.”

Marty sets his cup down a little more forcefully than he should. “I’m afraid I’m a little

confused here. If your daughter isn’t involved with the U.S. atomic research what makes

her a threat to German intelligence?”

“And why are you here?”

“Yeah, I was gettin’ to that.”

Let me explain this Dad I think to myself, “The importance of heavy water to atomic

production is that it provides one more way to produce plutonium for use in weapons,

completely bypassing uranium enrichment and all the other technological infrastructure

usually needed.” Marty must be smarter than he looks because he seems to be following

me so far.

“If Germany is able to perfect this process and produce enough plutonium to create

atomic weapons before the allies do, the results could lead to a global catastrophe.”

“Unfortunately, you’re probably right.”

“I know I’m right. What you don’t know is the effects these weapons will have on the

population. Aside from the destructive power and casualties of the initial blast, radiation

from them causes the onset of radiation sickness that could wipe out entire populations

and more importantly wipe out an army.”

“Radiation sickness?” he asks with a wince.

“Yes, our researchers have been sworn to secrecy but many of the civilians and project

workers involved are being subjected to lethal doses of radiation and becoming deathly

ill,” Marty looks like he’s going to turn green. “With the help of my father I have been

secretly involved in a research project to develop and test a drug that will combat

radiation sickness. Can you understand the value of that drug to an army whose sole

purpose is to take over the globe?”

“So, you’re not a threat to Germany, what they’d really like is to get their hands on you.”

“Which is why, Marty, you are here.”

“And these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange

even to the men who used them,” Marty looks at me with something like regret in his

eyes.

“Excuse me?”

I watch his lip quirks up a little, “H.G. Wells, smart man.”

My father gets up from the table, “War of the Worlds?”

“No, um, The World Set Free,” Marty answers as he too gets up from the table.

My father looks at the both of us, “Lets all hope so.”

Dad hustled Marty back off to the library shortly after dinner. He and my father talked in

private for a while. I suspect Dad was just sizing him up, but he must have decided he

approved of what he saw because I heard him tell Marty he would be in touch with him

soon. I hate all this secrecy, especially when I’m the subject of it.

I don’t know what to make of Marty myself. He seems out of place in his profession.

Aside from dressing poorly most of these private detectives are past their prime. I’m

ashamed to admit I noticed, but he seems to be right in the middle of his adding an air of

mystery about him. No wonder my father asked, he should be on the front lines with the

rest of the countries young men. I also got the impression he’s had an education. Perhaps

I’ll get more out of a conversation with him than I will the rest of the old stuffed shirts

around here. He’s certainly a lot more pleasing to look at.

Anna catches me daydreaming while she finishes cleaning up. “Dana, honey, you stay

away from that one. I saw your eyes dance when you got a look at him; he’s trouble with

a capital T!”

“Why Anna, whatever do you mean?” I ask her with mock astonishment that she would

even think such a thing.

“Men like him only have one thing on their minds. I don’t know what your father’s

thinking.”

I walk over to tap her arm as I head off again to my room, “Don’t worry, I have no

intention of getting anywhere near him.”

Once again I’m woken from a sound sleep by Anna only this time she’s frantic, “Dana,

Dana, you have to get up! The Captain called, you need to throw some things together,

get your research and be ready to leave in half an hour!” She’s hovering over me in just

her nightclothes and then she heads for the closet to dig out a suitcase for me.

I crawl out of bed and she grabs my arm, “Get moving, there’s been a leak, the Germans

know everything. They know where you are!”

Once I’m dressed she hurries me out of the room, “Get your research, I’ll pack for you!” I

head downstairs and find one of the lab assistants in the library holding a case. “I think I

have everything they asked me to bring you,” he says nervously handing the case over to

me. I set it on the table and open it. My journals, lab notes and several vials of test

serum are packed inside. When the young man reaches over to touch my arm I look up

into his worried expression. “Good luck,” he says to me before I head back out into the

main hall.

To my surprise, Marty is standing there just inside the door talking to Anna and holding

my suitcase. His coat and hat are spotted from the rain and his shoes have tracked water

across the polished floor. He turns to me almost immediately, “Come on doll, we gotta

split!”

So I’ve gone from “Doll” to “Red” to “Ma’am” and back to “Doll” in the course of one

evening. Marty and I have got to get something straight. Anna is handing me my coat

and I realize that I’ve just tumbled out of bed, I must be a sight. I bypass the coat and put

my hand on the banister, “Give me a minute to put on my face.”

Someone grabs my arm and turns me around; “You look just fine,” Marty says with an

intensity that I understand to mean we’re leaving now. Anna hands me my coat and we’re

out the door and into the rain.

He doesn’t say anything to me as he throws me and my luggage into the big Packard and

we head off down the drive. The car smells like cigarettes and our clothes smell like the

rain and I watch with some mirth as the brim of his hat drips water onto his lap but he

still doesn’t say anything as his eyes scan the road ahead of us. I’m a bit shocked by all

this and suddenly feel the consuming need to find out what’s going on. “What the hell is

going on?”

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He flashes a glance my way, “I don’t know. I got a call tellin’ me to come pick you up.

So here I am.”

“You usually just drop everything in the middle of the night for a call like that?”

I pull my coat tighter around me as I’m suddenly wracked by a chill. He must be

watching me out of the corner of his eye because he reaches out to turn up the heat.

“Didn’t have anything to drop.”

“No woman at home?”

“Home is where you hang your hat.” As if to emphasize his point, he looks right at me.

“I’m usually working most of the time.”

I don’t buy it. “I would figure you as a sucker for dames, Marty.”

“Well, you’re wrong, Sister.”

Wonderful, he’s added another name to the vocabulary. “Since we’re evidently going to

be stuck in the car together, I really wish you would just call me Dana.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he says without taking his eyes off the road.

We’ve been driving for almost an hour now in complete silence, save for the constant

thumping of the windshield wipers. It’s raining harder and his eyes are too busy

watching the road and the rear view mirror to notice as I give him the once over. He

needs a shave but between his clothes and the big car, detective work must pay better

than I thought. I decide it’s time to find out what makes him tick. “So, what’s your story,

Marty?” I watch him as his dark eyes flash to the rear view mirror again.

“What do you mean my story?”

“I mean I get the impression you haven’t always been strapped for cash.”

He looks at me again as if trying to determine how many of his secrets to give up. “I

used to work for the F.B.I., got fired for insubordination.”

I know there must be more and he must realize this. I watch his lip curl before he

elaborates, “Lived off the family dime for a while but eventually even that ran out.”

I can put two and two together and remember the man who was talking to my father

yesterday. “There was an agent at the estate yesterday, did he hire you?”

“In a matter of speaking yeah, he’s my old boss.”

When he doesn’t elaborate I continue to pry. “Interesting business you have now.”

“You wouldn’t like my business, doesn’t pay very well.”

We pull into an old gas station and he cuts the engine. “I need to make a phone call,” he

says looking over at me. “Don’t get out of the car unless you have to.” It’s hard to see in

the driving rain but I watch as he runs inside and then the attendant comes out to fill up

the tank while he makes the phone call. A few moments later there’s a tap on my window

and I roll it down. “Don’t do that again unless you know who it is,” he cautions me as he

hands me a bottle of soda and then walks around the car. I hold the bottle for a few

minutes wishing it were a cup of warm coffee instead and then take a sip.

He gets in and takes a heavy slug from his own soda. Droplets of rain drip off the brim

of his fedora again and I start to chuckle. He looks at me, “What?”

“Don’t you ever take that thing off?”

“Not if I don’t have to.” He finishes the bottle and tosses it in the backseat. The car roars

back to life as he starts the engine and pulls through the station; the car bouncing through

the ruts in the unpaved surface.

“Where are we going?”

“You don’t need to know,” he doesn’t look at me when he replies and I’m instantly

irritated by his cockiness again.

“I think I have the right to know.”

He glances at me only momentarily, deciding that maybe I do, “Away from the coast.”

I must doze off because it’s almost noon before we stop again. This time at a dumpy

roadside diner called Molly’s. We’re somewhere in Pennsylvania now and he still refuses

to tell me where we’re actually going. Maybe he doesn’t really know himself. I head for

the bathroom while he picks out a booth near one of the windows; hanging up his coat

and surprisingly his hat on the rack next to the table. He turns around to catch my eye

and runs his hand through his hair before he sits down.

When I get back to the table he is already nursing a cup of coffee and a smoke. I can feel

his eyes on me as I glance through the menu selections. “Well Red, what’ll you have?” I

think he knows I hate that because when I look up his lip curls into a half smile. “I hear

the ‘possum is especially tasty this time of year.”

God, he is so infuriating but at the same time I’m beginning to feel myself fall for him

and I hate myself for it. It was almost as if he’d legally kidnapped me and I’d let him.

The busty waitress seems a little disappointed when she comes back to take our order and

finds that Marty isn’t alone. She refills his coffee and saunters away. Our meal comes

and I watched him attack his food like he hasn’t eaten in a week. He ordered breakfast

while I settled for a bowl of vegetable soup and a sandwich. I still couldn’t shake the

chill.

“So tell me about this research you’re working on? How is what you’re doing different

from what they say is going on in the death camps?”

He’d caught me with a mouth full of food and I almost choke, “How can you even ask me

that?!”

He puts down his fork and takes another sip of coffee, “Because I want to know if you’re

worth it.”

I throw the sandwich on my plate, “What do you mean, worth it?”

“If what you’re doing is worth me risking my life to protect you; it’s that simple Doll.”

“You’re not here because I asked for your protection,” I sneer at him.

“You’re right. I’m here because your father asked for it.”

I study him for a moment. This man isn’t the meticulously dressed gentleman who’d

come to the estate last night. This man looks tired. His five o’clock shadow has darkened

and his hair is unkempt and cascading over his forehead. He’s changed into a different

suit but I recognize the tie that now hangs askew from his unbuttoned collar. There’s

sadness in his eyes I haven’t noticed before. He holds my gaze for a moment as if

inviting me in before going back to picking at his breakfast.

“What do you think is going on in the death camps?”

“Things we shouldn’t talk about over a meal,” he acknowledges looking back up at me.

“Things that human beings shouldn’t be doing to other human beings. You’re not doing

things to other human beings are you?”

“Is that what you think?”

He puts the fork down with some finality. “No, I wouldn’t be here if I did. But I really

don’t know what to think because nobody’s tellin’ me much of anything, including you.”

The floozy waitress comes back to refill our coffee and when she leaves I proceed to tell

Marty what I’ve been doing in the bowels of that Victorian mansion. What the bombs

don’t destroy the radiation will take care of unless there is some way to combat it. This

applies to just about every living organism on the planet. What had begun as a war in the

trenches has now become a war in the laboratory. While scientists play with atoms it will

be the doctors who will eventually save the world.

“Do you have any idea will happen when atomic weapons are used in a war?”

I watch him pick up his spoon again and stir nothing into the black coffee. “Unfortunately

working for the government has its advantages. You learn a lot of things you’d rather not

know. But to answer your question — no, not exactly.”

“I thought you didn’t work for the government anymore.”

“That’s why I don’t.” Our eyes meet across the table, “What they had me doing didn’t

exactly live up to my high moral standards,” he says with a smirk but I can see the truth

of what he says in his eyes. “I get the impression you have morals of your own. What is

it you do that allows you to look the other way? How do you live with the lies?”

I take a sip of my coffee to ward off the chill he has given me. “I’m not looking the other

way. I’m looking straight ahead.”

“How so?”

I really don’t feel the need to defend myself to this man. I don’t know under what

circumstances he agreed to participate in this ‘undercover’ assignment and not know the

particulars and yet he obviously knows more about our situation than he is letting on —

being the ever protective male. I find it hard to understand him. I can’t figure out his

game either but he deserves to know mine. I set my coffee cup down with a satisfying

thump. “Hitler’s idea of creating a master race is nothing short of genocide. He wants his

Germany to rule the planet which means anyone he feels is a threat to that prospect or

inferior to his plan is expendable. And as I told you before if they’re successful in

developing atomic weapons before we do, we won’t be able to stop them. You know that

as well as I do otherwise you wouldn’t be ‘protecting the home front’.”

“Well, alright,” he says as he glances around the diner to see who might be within

earshot. “It’s just you and me here so explain this all to me.”

“I can’t explain everything. I don’t really know that much about atomic fission but what I

can tell you is that if we can’t figure out a way to keep the people involved in the project

alive; find a way to combat the radiation sickness or prevent it altogether…” I shiver,

the need to feel something warm envelopes me and I reach over and touch his hand. “I

can’t even think about it, Marty. It’s not just a war anymore, it’s a race.”

He looks down at my hand on top of his and gently extracts his from underneath it,

“Radiation sickness? Our own researchers are dying from it?”

“The exposure is not deliberate. One of the byproducts of atomic research is radiation.

As a doctor I can tell you that we’ve learned that depending on the proximity to the

exposure it can cause burns, cellular and vascular damage; fluid loss into the

gastrointestinal tract, terminal infection, hemorrhaging and eventually death. Scientists

had no idea of the extent of damage exposure would cause when they started this project.

This is why they’ve been sworn to secrecy. Until we’re able to come up with a cure the

public can’t know about the cause.”

“And you think this is morally right?”

“No, Marty, I don’t think it’s right,” I pick up my coffee cup, wrapping my hands around

it in another attempt to warm my soul. “But I think what I’m doing is right. Once these

weapons become available for use on battlefields the casualties, both civilian and military

will be catastrophic. So you see? The research I am involved in is two-fold. We need to

find a way to protect our own people. The project personnel and the rest of us in case the

Germans win. What I have in this case here is a key to that…”

“I wouldn’t have figured you for a doctor.” he says before I can finish.

“Does that surprise you?”

“No, but you surprise me,” he lights up another cigarette and takes a long drag on it.

“How’s that?”

“That you let me drag you out of that fancy house and out into the dark of night without

much of an explanation. You must trust me more than you let on.”

“My father trusts you.”

“As long as that’s good enough for you, Doll,” he says stubbing out his cigarette before he

slides from the booth.

By nightfall we’re crossing the Indiana state line. Marty has been driving for almost

twenty-four hours, he keeps rubbing his eyes and I can tell the coffee is no longer

keeping him awake. As we roll into Richmond he pulls up in front of the first cheap

hotel he can find and looks over at me as he kills the engine. “I gotta get some sleep.”

We get out of the car and he pulls a couple bags from the trunk while I grab my briefcase.

Inside the hotel he sets the bags down and heads for the pay phone he’s spied back in the

corner. Even with his back turned toward me I can still make out some of his

conversation. He’s asking about a tail and how many of them they think there are. He

turns around to glare at me and then slams down the receiver and stubs out the cigarette

he’d lit before heading back to where I’m standing. Grabbing my arm he steers me over

to the counter, “We need a room, front exposure,” he demands from the dumpy man

behind the counter as he scribbles something into the ledger and throws a ten-dollar bill

on the counter. The man looks at the ledger and then winks at me, “Sure thing.” I look

down to see Marty has scribbled Mr. and Mrs. Smith in the book before we follow this

loser up to our room.

The hotel sits on a corner and the room has windows that face both streets; two in the

front and one on the side. There’s a small table and two chairs; an old lounge chair near

one of the windows and one bed. Wonderful. “Bathroom’s across the hall,” the clerk

informs us as he points to the towels on the back of the door.

“Don’t you think we should get two rooms?” I ask Marty after our escort has left. He

makes the rounds of the room, checking the closet and then looking out all three windows

while I take off my coat and rummage through my bag.

“I thought you said your father trusts me,” he says pulling off his coat and jacket and

throwing them across the back of the old chair. He takes off his hat and sets it almost

reverently on top of them. It doesn’t surprise me to find he’s wearing a shoulder harness

with a good-size revolver tucked inside of it. His wrinkled shirt makes him look even

more disheveled.

I’m curious to know whom this contact is he keeps calling. Is he trying to find out who

might be following us or could he possibly be telling them where we are instead? “To

whom were you talking to on the phone downstairs?”

“The Navy’s been monitoring some overseas transmissions. They know you’ve left

Baltimore.”

“They?”

“The German hounds that are following us.”

“Why am I suddenly such a hot commodity?” I find myself asking. “I’m not the only

doctor involved in this project. What about the others?”

Marty is standing by one of the windows, I watch as he looks up and down the street

before he answers, “I don’t know about any other doctors. You’re the only one I’m

concerned about.”

I don’t believe him but I take some things from my bag and grab a towel from the door.

“Leave the door open,” he says to me as I leave the room.

In the bathroom I scrub my face and reconsider putting on the nightgown I’d brought

with me. Dad might trust him but I won’t take the chance. Besides if we have to make a

run for it I don’t want to be running in my nightgown.

When I get back to the room Marty has turned the lights off. He’s standing in the

shadows by one of the windows smoking again and I catch the glimmer of the flask he

has in his hand. As I shut the door and lock it he motions an offer of a drink. “It’ll warm

you up.”

“No thank you.”

I feel him watch me as I walk around the bed to put my nightgown back in the suitcase

and then reluctantly sit down on the opposite side of the bed. He turns back to the

window and I fluff the sad excuse for a pillow against the headboard and settle against it

closing my eyes. When the bed dips to my right I stop breathing. I hear him set the flask

on the night table and stub out the cigarette. He grabs the other pillow and turns to me,

“You’re not gonna use both of these are you?”

It’s all I can do to say no to him. For a moment I can feel the tension between us and then

he gets up from the bed taking the pillow with him. “Good night, Angel.”

He walks over to the old chair and sits down in it. Propping his feet up on the register

and tucking the pillow behind his head. His long lanky form looks horribly

uncomfortable but he’s exhausted and it doesn’t take him long to drift off. I sit for a while

and watch him sleep and then finally drift off myself.

It’s still dark when I awaken. I’m a little alarmed to find I’m alone in the room. I don’t

know him well, but I know Marty wouldn’t leave without me. The ragged spread from

the bed is draped over me, and I find myself snuggling into it with worry before I notice

the door is cracked open slightly and I can hear the sound of water running from the bath

across the hall. Needing to know it’s him so I climb out of bed and gather up a few things

for myself and step into the hallway. The bathroom door is open and I can see his

reflection in the mirror before he sees me. He isn’t a big man but he fills out an

undershirt nicely and I find myself watching him as he scrapes the last of his shaving

cream from his face. The bullet scar on his left shoulder intrigues me. I watch him

splash some water on his face and then his eyes catch me in the mirror as he towels

himself off. I can feel the blush rising in my cheeks and I know he sees it when he turns

around. “You lookin’ for me Red?”

Maybe in another lifetime, but I don’t say that, I just tell him I need to use the bathroom

and he smiles and walks past me. “Don’t take too long, we need to get out of here before

daybreak.”

I close the door and do my best to clean myself up in the sink and change into a clean

blouse and a pair of slacks. Before I know it someone is pounding on the door and I

nearly jump out of my skin, “Damn it, Red, lets go!”

He doesn’t even give me time to open the door before he’s throwing it open himself and

grabbing my arm, “We got company — we gotta move now!”

I try and grab my things as he’s pulling me from the room and across the hall. He’s

already dressed and he jogs to the front window while I throw my things into my

suitcase. “What’s going on?” I demand walking over to have a look myself. There are

three big black cars downstairs and I hear voices in the lobby below us.

Before I can even get an answer the window glass shatters around us and we both dive to

the floor in a heap. “Dammit, Red, what are you trying to do, get us both killed!” I roll

over and look up at him as he climbs off and then straddles my legs. A moment of eye

contact passes between us and then he yanks me to my feet. He’s got my case in his hand

and me by the arm and he’s dragging me across to the other side of the room. “The

hounds have caught up with us, that’s what’s going on!”

I watch as he throws up the sash and tosses both our suitcases out the window before

grabbing for the bag with my samples and notes. “You can’t throw that!” I grab it from

him and then watch as he starts to climb out the window himself. “What are you doing,

we’re two stories up!”

“I’m gonna fly,” he says with some irritation as he grabs my arm again. “There’s a fire

escape out here, now move!” He makes an attempt to help me out the window but I

shake him off and by the time I get myself out he’s already one story below me on the fire

escape. We get to the bottom of the stairs and I realize that they end about twelve feet

from the ground. I watch Marty turn around and lower himself down and then jump to

the ground. He’s tall; he doesn’t have as far to jump as I do.

He stumbles a bit when he hits the pavement and I watch him collect that damn hat and

put it back on before he walks around the bottom of the ladder to look up at me. It’s a

good thing I’m wearing slacks. If I were wearing a skirt he’d have a great view from his

vantage point. “Toss me your case!” He yells up to me and I have no choice to do so. I

watch him set it on the ground and then turn and extend his arms up to me, “Come on,

Red, I’ll catch ya!” I look down at him, despite our dire situation I watch this shit-eating

grin spread across his face from under the brim of that damn hat. I want to just smack

him but I don’t, I jump.

His hands catch me around the waist and my momentum allows them to slide up until

they’re almost cupping my breasts. The bastard holds me, my face inches from his and

for a moment I’m caught by the same desire I saw in his eyes only a few moments ago. I

feel him sigh and then he sets me down grabbing our two bags and turning up the street

away from our car. “Hey, what about the car!” I yell as I grab my case and take off after

him.

“Forget the damn car! Run!”

We run down the street in the rain. The droplets sting my face and it’s not long before

my hair and my feet are soaked. When gunshots ricochet off the wall to our right we dart

into an alley. Marty drops the bags and pulls out his gun looking back up the street.

We’re both panting hard; the cool damp air causing our breath to come out in bursts of

white fog. When I try and peer around the corner myself he grabs my arm and yanks me

behind him, “Not again, are you insane?” he yells. “What do I have to do, tie you up and

carry you?”

Just try it bastard, “I can take care of myself!”

Another shot ricochets off the brick above his head and our attention is drawn to a man

across the street. Marty fires twice and I watch the man drop. Jesus, he just shot a man!

The doctor in me wants to run out there to see what I can do but Marty has already turned

and grabbed our bags again with one hand. “Come on!” he yells at me again.

“But you just shot that man!”

“Yeah and lets hope I killed him, now come on!” There’s desperation in his eyes as he

motions me down the alley. I take one more look back at the man slumped on the

sidewalk and start to run. Marty takes one more look over his shoulder and starts to run

after me. “Where are we going?” I yell back.

“Just keep runnin’!”

The alley must cut between two streets because I can see the end up ahead. What if these

men are waiting up there ready to gun him down the moment we exit the alley? It’s me

they’re after we both know it. I splash to a stop and Marty almost careens into me,

“Christ, don’t stop!” he pants into my face.

“What if they’re waiting at the end of the alley?”

“They’re not, now move!”

More gunshots, they’re coming from behind us again. He looks right at me and says only

one word, “Run!”

I don’t know what to do when I get the end of the alley. I’m afraid to go out into the street.

When I turn around I see Marty stumble a little on the uneven pavement. He turns and

fires four more shots back up the alley until we both hear the empty chamber click. His

eyes flash to mine and he pockets the gun.

There are several cars parked here and I watch Marty frantically search them; stopping by

one to yank open the back door and throwing our bags into it. “Get in!” he yells at me as

he ducks into the front seat himself.

“You’re stealing a car!”

“Get in the damn car!” Some idiot must have left the key in it because I hear him start it

right up.

“Are you crazy?” I can’t believe this but I get into the car with him anyway. “You just

can’t steal someone’s car!” I don’t get a chance to say anything else before his lips are on

mine effectively shutting me up. It’s not a peck, it’s a hot desperate kiss and I find myself

responding to it before I pull back and smack him the way I’d wanted to just a few

minutes earlier when he was feeling me up. He closes his eyes, his face must sting, I

know my hand does.

“You feel better now?” he asks as he opens his eyes and stares back at me in the darkness.

I don’t know whether to cry or scream. Instead I just yell at him, “Just get us the hell out

of here!”

He pops the clutch into drive and hauls off down the alley. His hands clutch the wheel

tightly as we bounce along the rutted brick and then careen out into a street without

looking. Several shots ping off the back of the car. We both flinch with each one as he

steers the old car wildly down the street into the darkness. If those men behind us don’t

kill us, Marty will, I cross myself and say a little prayer for the both of us.

Somehow Marty manages to give the thugs the slip and after several hours of touring the

Indiana countryside we find another little diner and stop for a bite to eat. “What the hell

happened back there?” I finally ask after we have ordered our food. Marty stirs his coffee

and seems to contemplate just what he thinks he should tell me. “Those men weren’t

there to kidnap me; they were trying to kill me weren’t they?”

“The other two doctors you were working with have already been killed,” he confesses.

“Right now the Germans think you’re the only one capable of continuing the research.”

“Carl and Donald are dead?” I gasp, throwing my hand up to my mouth, I suddenly feel

like throwing up. “I don’t get it. I thought they wanted to kidnap us to continue the

research for their cause, now you’re saying they want us all dead? What else aren’t you

telling me?”

Marty takes a sip of his coffee and then sits back against the seat in our booth with a

visible wince, “I’m sorry, they told me not to tell you.” I watch him fuss like he can’t get

comfortable. He notices me eyeing him, “It happened the night we left Baltimore, when

they sent me to get you. Carl and his wife were found murdered in their apartment.

Donald was a hit and run victim”

“I don’t believe this, Carl and I went to Med School together, Donald was one of our

instructors.”

“Well, you better believe it, Doll. You said it yourself; the Germans aren’t interested in

saving lives. Hitler’s Germany is only concerned with building that master race. What

you’re working on would be detrimental to that process. So in answer to your question,

yes, they want you dead.”

As I sit and warm my hands around a cup of strong coffee I realize that Marty still has his

hat and coat on, he’s holding his left arm close to his side and when I meet his gaze I’ve

been a doctor long enough to see the pain there. “Marty? Are you okay?” I ask the

question before I look at his hands wrapped around his own cup and see the dried blood

on his fingers. Pulling his left hand away from his cup I turn it palm up, “You’re

bleeding.”

“Not enough to die from, Doc.” There’s no humor in his answer.

I’m silenced momentarily as the waitress comes back to plunk our food down on the

table. “Eat your lunch,” he says stabbing at his steak and then wincing when he tries to

cut it.

How does he expect me to eat while he sits here and bleeds? Hell, now that I think about

what happened back in Richmond, he’s probably been bleeding since we flew out of that

hotel room. “I’ll eat, but I’m not going anywhere else with you until you let me look at

you.”

He picks up his coffee again and in a mock toast says something I know he can’t resist,

“Here’s lookin’ at you kid.”

“I take it that’s a yes?”

We stop at an old gas station after we leave the diner and I drag him into the Ladies room

with me and lock the door. Under his coat and jacket I find the bullet that came through

our window had creased his shoulder. The same shoulder with the bullet scar. I few

inches to the right and he would have bled to death before we had gotten out of the room.

It’s messy but he’s right, not enough to die from. I don’t ask about the other scar but he

sees that I’ve noticed it. “Crime of passion,” he says with a mock smile. I clean and

patch him up and as we leave the restroom we get an eyeful from a couple waiting in

their car with their kids. I’m sure they think we were doing something else in that room.

The old Ford gets us to Chicago by nightfall. Marty finds us another hotel; fortunately

this one is a step above the last dump we had found ourselves in, only this time we’re Mr.

and Mrs. Jones. He asks the desk clerk about places to eat and then we head up to our

room. I open my suitcase and try to straighten up the clothes from this morning’s hasty

departure while he heads off down the hall to make another phone call. In a short while I

hear the door close behind me and I turn at the sound of his voice. “You got somethin’

nice in that bag?”

Thinking he has something else in mind I ask for an explanation. “What do you mean by

‘nice’?”

He slips out of his coat and jacket as he crosses the room and for the first time I feel

apprehensive of his intentions. “We need to go someplace with a lot of people,” he says

lying his coat on the foot of the bed and once again setting his hat on top of them. He

shoves his hands in his pockets, “A dance club maybe.”

“You want to take me dancing?” I almost laugh.

“I didn’t say we were gonna dance Doll, I was only askin’ if you got something you could

wear to a place like that? It’s less likely they’ll try something in a place full of people.”

I don’t get it. “I thought we lost them back there, aren’t we safer if we stay here?”

“I thought so too,” he looks up to catch my eye. “But the answer to both questions is

probably no.”

I don’t know how he knows this as I watch him amble about the room. He looks defeated

and it worries me. He needs to change out of that blood stained shirt himself if we’re

going out in public. I think about what I have packed in this suitcase that contains the

remains of my life. What does one wear to their own funeral? I could probably get by

with a suit I have and the blouse I’m wearing and some heels. “Can you give me some

time to get dressed?”

He hesitates for a moment, “Yeah — yeah, go ahead.” He digs a pack of cigarettes from

his jacket pocket and walks across the room to sit on the edge of the bed. I gather up my

things and head into the bathroom to freshen up and change.

The suit’s a light gray with a broad collar and I pop the collar of my blouse out to lie

against it. I wish I had some jewelry to dress it up but by the time I get my nylons on and

my heels it doesn’t look too bad. I sound like I’m going on a date I think to myself, what a

fool. A hair comb and some make up and I’m a different woman. I take one last

primping look in the mirror and then open the door. Marty’s right where I imagined he

would be, leaning against the window frame, watching the street below. He has on a

clean shirt and he glances at me a moment and then tosses his cigarette butt on the floor

and stubs it out next to the other two at his feet. He looks up again. “Will this do?” I ask.

His lip curls a little but I watch something like regret pass across his face. He nods every

so slightly, “Yeah, Red, that’ll do just fine.”

As we walk up the street towards the club the desk clerk told us about I get the eerie

feeling someone is following us. Marty must sense it too and he leans over to whisper in

my ear, “Just keep walking.” His hand comes to rest at the small of my back and I feel a

sudden sense of security rather than fear from his touch. When we cross the street in

front of the club our shadows follow us. If it weren’t for Marty I’d be running for my life

right now.

The club is called The Ivanhoe. It’s a restaurant and dance club like so many others that

dot the big cities these days. This one probably isn’t one of the more popular ones in

town but it’s nice to be dining in a place with tablecloths for a change. As Marty checks

his hat and our coats, I notice he’s wearing that same double-breasted suit he had on the

night he came to the house. Between the suit and his hat he looks right at home here, I

feel like I’m dating a mobster. But this is the closest thing to a date I’ve been on in

months and from the looks Marty is getting from some of the other women as we wind

our way though the restaurant, I’ve got myself a pretty good catch.

The maitre’ d finds us a nice table at the back of the room and we dine in companionable

silence. Being secluded way for the past several months makes me feel awkward in a

place like this. I don’t think our recent conversations would be appropriate. Marty has

been silent too. A little too silent and I can’t help but think there is another reason for us

being here. All through dinner he’s been watching the room when he doesn’t think I

notice. When I question Marty about it, he changes the subject. “You don’t believe I just

wanted to take a good lookin’ dame out to dinner?” he asks with a smirk.

I think that was a compliment but I’m not going to let the comment get by me. “You told

me before you weren’t a sucker for dames, remember? Besides, you already told me

why we were going out.” The smirk disappears from his face. Nice Dana, spoil his fun.

He’s ordered an after dinner scotch and he picks up the glass to clink the ice in it. “Yeah,

well, that wasn’t exactly true. Hot potato like you can get a guy in a lot of trouble if he’s

not careful.”

“And you always try to be careful?”

He takes a sip of his drink, “Doesn’t always work out that way.”

He acts like he’s speaking from experience. When I first met this man a few days ago I

didn’t want to know him, hell, I didn’t want to be seen with him. He seemed cocky and

arrogant back there at the estate. Now, I’m beginning to think it was all a front, a defense

mechanism to protect who he really is. Someone I find myself wanting to get to know.

“Are you speaking from experience?”

“Mostly bad ones,” he says with a sad smile. “Trust me, Red, there’s so much more you

need to do with your life than get mixed up with a guy like me.”

He’s left himself open and I take the opportunity, “And what kind of guy are you,

Marty?”

“The kind of guy you don’t want to get yourself mixed up with right now, Red. Trust

me.”

“I think we’ve already established that element of trust.”

“Well, maybe that was your first mistake. Someday Red, your science is going to save

the world. I’m just here to make sure that happens.” he looks up at me but I notice his

gaze go right past me. I want to turn around but that would be too obvious. I know

something is wrong.

“Marty, what’s wrong?”

He sighs again and sets his glass down. “Nothin’ you need to worry about, Red. You

want another drink?”

I don’t need reassurance, I need an answer. “We’re not going to make it out of here alive

are we?”

He looks at me with mock astonishment, while he signals the waiter for a refill on his

scotch. “What do you mean by that?”

“The two men who followed us here from the hotel are sitting across the room; you’ve

been watching them all night.”

Busted. He looks me right in the eyes, “Actually there are four of them and I’m gonna do

my damnedest to get us out of this room alive.”

It occurs to me then how ironic in a sense our situation has become. “You know back in

1934 John Dillinger was led to a place like this by the infamous ‘Lady in Red’. Right

before he was gunned down by a bunch of F.B.I. agents.”

“And here I thought I was the one with the sick sense of humor,” he smiles but we both

know this is anything but funny.

The band has started up in the other room. They’re playing a set of Glen Miller tunes but

they’re nowhere near as good and yet I still feel myself drawn to the music. I hadn’t

realized I’d closed my eyes until someone is touching my hand. I trace the hand up to

meet Marty’s eyes. “You want to dance, Red?”

I’m shocked that he’s asked but in a world full of chaos and uncertainty there’s nothing

more I’d rather do. As we head for the dance floor his hand comes to rest at the small of

my back again. It feels like it belongs there and I cherish the warmth if only for the

moment. The band starts up a new tune and we step onto the dance floor. With my heels

our height difference isn’t as bad and I fall easily against him. The band goes through

String of Pearls and then into Glen’s theme song, Moonlight Serenade. Marty pulls me

tighter against him I hear him swallow hard.

“Did you ever see Glen Miller?” I whisper to him.

“No, never had time for something like this before,” he pulls back a little and looks down

at me. I don’t believe him. He’s a good dancer.

“And now you wish you had?”

He leans against me, “If we were two other people in a different world.” His throaty

voice almost chokes and I understand how he feels. But we’re not two other people. He’s

a two-bit private eye and I’m a doctor with a very important job and no time for romance.

I have a world to save. What the hell am I doing here?

The band has a vocalist and she starts in on the next tune, “At last — my love has come

along. My lonely days are over — And life is like a song. At last — the skies above are

blue and my heart was wrapped up in clover.”

Marty pulls me close again and rests his cheek against my head; I cup the back of his

neck as she continues her song, “The night I looked at you I found a dream that I can

speak to. A dream that I could call my own; I found a thrill to press my cheek to

a thrill that I have never known.”

The gun beneath his jacket reminds me that this is no ordinary date but I feel something

happening between us that I think both of us swore at the beginning of this charade never

would. It feels a lot like love but I sense that Marty feels he’s unworthy and I’m afraid to

act on it. His head comes up and he turns to look at me. My arms are still wrapped

around his neck. “Damn, you’re beautiful,” he whispers and then he’s kissing me again

desperately and I can do nothing but kiss him back there on the dance floor as the song

finishes behind us.

“You smiled, and then the spell was cast; and here we are in heaven; and you are mine at

last.”

When the music stops we both break the kiss and just stand there holding onto each other

as the crowd leaves the floor. The momentary bliss is broken as I feel him tense in my

arms. I look up to meet his concerned eyes and he whispers “I’m sorry,” before he pulls

away from me. He’s looking wildly around the room. I follow his gaze and see the men

who followed us standing in the doorway between the restaurant and the ballroom. I

think I catch the face of someone I recognize behind them but I’m not sure. When the

men catch us looking they scatter into the crowd. I’m suddenly terrified and grab Marty’s

hand, “Marty, what do we do?” As the band starts up Marty looks at me and begins to

pull me off the dance floor, “Come on!”

We wind our way through the crowd and end up in the lobby of the restaurant. He

scrambles into his coat and hat then helps me into mine pulling it tightly around me.

“You ready?” he asks.

I’m not sure what he’s asking me and can only nod in agreement before one of the men

finds us. While he’s looking around for the rest of his party Marty shoves me out the

door and once again we find ourselves in the cold rain. He grabs my hand and we run

back up the street to where we’d parked the old car. His legs are longer than mine and

he’s practically pulling me along as we run. I can hear the sound of running feet behind

us. I’m more certain than ever that we’re not going to make it.

When we reach the car I stumble on the curb but he catches me, opening the door and

practically throwing me inside. He slams the door and I can only make out shadows

through the wet windows as he rounds the car himself. Everything happens so fast, he’s

in the car and we’re pulling away from the curb immediately. Out of the corner of my

eye I catch another dark car pass us in the other direction. As we speed up the street the

sound of gunfire erupts behind us. He pushes me down in the seat.

It’s several minutes before the pressure of his hand relaxes on my back. I’m shaking,

from fear or the cold I’m not quite sure. It’s raining hard making it difficult to see where

we are going. I reach over to touch his hand on the wheel and realize instantly that it is

the hand of a much older man. My gasp catches his attention as I pull my hand away and

turn to look at the man seated beside me. It dawns on me then that this car had been

running when Marty had tossed me into it and what had occurred back there on the street

was one of the oldest tricks in the book, the old switcheroo. I look over to meet the eyes

of Agent Skinner, Marty’s old boss and realize what sacrifice has just been made.

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He doesn’t say anything at first, fighting to see through the rain and the wipers as they

slap back and forth across the windshield. “Who was in the other car?” I demand fighting

my emotions even though I think I already know what his answer will be.

As I suspected he doesn’t answer. I look around the car and see my luggage and my

briefcase in the back seat. “Who planned this? You? Did he know about this? Dammit,

answer me!”

Skinner looks over at me, “He planned it Dana.”

As we drive on through the darkness I suddenly remember what my father had said about

not wanting the government to know where I was. This man works for the government.

God, it couldn’t be. “This was a set-up wasn’t it? You set him up — it was you he was

calling all the time wasn’t it? You let him believe he was getting me out of Baltimore

safely but the whole time you and the Germans were right behind us. You used the

information he gave you against us.” I wanted desperately to get out of the car. “Where

are you taking me?”

“The same place Marty wanted you to go.”

“Dammit, he never told me where we were going!”

“There was a lot he couldn’t tell you. We’re headed to The University of Chicago; which

you may or may not know is one of the countries top atomic research facilities. If what

you’re carrying in that case can aide in that project then you need to be where it will do

the most good. Marty was interested in saving just more than your ass, Sister.

You have it all backwards; use that pretty little head of yours to think. Someone in the

military leaked the information that you’d left Baltimore. You don’t think they monitor

our information in the same way that we do theirs? I did my best to keep you two steps

ahead of them but it didn’t work. Now they think you’re dead.”

I sit and fume in silence for a few minutes, trying to put things together in my head.

“You don’t get it do you?” he finally asks. “What you were to him?”

“What are you talking about? He hardly knew me. I was a job to him; just like I’m a job

to you.”

“This was no job to him. I’ve know Marty a long time, Dana. I’ve seen him with dames

before but I’ve never known him to fall for one. Not like he fell for you. He loves this

country and he loved you,” he catches my eyes in the darkness of the car. “I heard it in

his voice every time he called me.”

I laugh, a bitter sarcastic laugh. Who is he kidding? Better yet, who am I kidding? I’d

seen the desire in him several times on our trip across the Midwest; he’d never acted on it.

Face it Dana you weren’t his type. “He didn’t want me; all he wanted was the cash.” I say

without thinking.

“You’re right, he didn’t want you,” Skinner takes his eyes off the road to pin them on me.

“He needed you.”

“And that’s supposed to be enough? There’s a war on in case you haven’t noticed. The

world’s going to hell in a hand basket. It’s going to take more than needing each other to

us through this.”

“Sometimes all you really need is each other.” I look over at this man who Marty

considers a friend and suddenly feel sick. He wasn’t doing this for the government; he

was doing it for a friend who’d done it for me; he’d never see the damn cash.

One of the last things Marty had said to me was ‘I’m sorry’, I’d misunderstood him.

Dammit it, I’m the one who should be sorry and I suddenly feel the overwhelming need to

tell him so and I don’t want to save the world without him. I look over at this imposter,

trying to draw his attention, “Who was in that other car? Where’s Marty?” When he

refuses to answer I try again, “Stop the car!”

Mr. Skinner ignores me so I jump across the seat and try to take the wheel from him, turn

the car around and go back and find Marty. We wrestle for control of the wheel in the

rain. “Stop it, Dana — Dana…

D.C. GENERAL HOSPITAL

PRESENT DAY

Someone was calling her name, “Dana, Dana, hey — sleepy…” She felt the touch of a

hand along her cheek, “Come on, Scully, wake up.” Opening her eyes, she blinked at the

image above her; the dark hair and hazel eyes, the labels of his trench coat and that damn

hat. “Marty? Oh God — Marty,” she flung her arms around his neck, trying to pull him

down. “Oh God, you’re alright…” Though somewhat surprised he followed her into the

hug.

“Marty?” he said, breaking into a smile. “Scully, it’s me, Mulder.”

Mulder? The name hit her then and she pulled back to look at him again recognizing the

bruise that tinted his right cheek. “Who’s Marty?’ he asked as she settled back against the

pillows and covered her face with her fingers in embarrassment.

Dropping her hands, she shook her head in disbelief, “He’s–I…” she watched as his

brows furrowed.”Oh, Mulder, never mind, I must have been dreaming,” she looked up at

him a bit sheepishly.

“Wow, must have been some dream,” he kidded as he sat down on the edge of the bed,

leaning over to prop himself with his arm on the other side of her hips. “You ready to go

home? I heard the doctors already released you this morning.”

She pursed her lips and his gaze followed her hand as she reached up to snag the hat from

his head. “Where did you get this silly hat?”

“The other night you didn’t think it looked silly on Bogie,” he sounded a little

disappointed by her reaction.

“So you went out and bought one?”

He snatched it back and put it back on his head so it sat a little off to the left. “What do

you think?” he asked hopefully. “Am I turning you on?”

Her vision of tough guy Marty with the chains around his heart came back to her. He’d

left her without her even getting the chance to know it. Mulder’s heart on the other hand

had always been right there; raw and exposed for her taking. He’d offered it to her many

times over.

“Scully?” She focused on Mulder again.

“Hmm?”

“I said, what do you think?”

She ran her finger along the brim and he dipped his head, “I think you look — damn sexy,

Mulder.” He smiled then, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“Maybe I should break into that Rod Stewart song, “Do you think I’m sexy…”

She laughed as he moved to the beat of his off-key singing. “Please,” she laughed

waving her right hand back and forth. “Of course I think you’re sexy. I’m just glad you

never figured it out yourself and I have you all to myself because I have no intention of

letting you go.” She reached for his right hand, “Ever.”

“I hope not,” he answered looking down at their joined hands.

It was then as she studied him more closely that she noticed the shadows under his eyes,

the lines that became more pronounced with fatigue. “Actually you look tired.”

She watched as his face turned serious, “Yeah, I didn’t get much sleep last night. The

headache I had the other night came back with a vengeance.”

She thought about all the other restless nights he’d had lately but would never admit to

her. That he was acknowledging it now began to worry her. His headaches in the recent

past had always been accompanied by periods of what he called visions and what she still

preferred to call hallucinations. “Mulder, is everything alright?”

She watched him hesitate; knowing full well that he was weighing what he should tell

her. Avoiding the confrontations that usually came with their discussions of his mental

health of late he’d been keeping things to himself. He needed to understand she was only

concerned about his well being but knowing he needed to realize it on his own. He

glanced away as he finally spoke, “Alright? Now there’s a loaded question. Yeah,

Scully, I’m fine.”

As soon as he’d said it he knew how wrong it was. He watched the concern spread across

her face.

“It’s starting again isn’t it? The hallucinations? Mulder, we really need to find you a

doctor and get you some help. We both can’t go on like this.”

Anger flared in him, “I really wish you’d stop saying that, Scully. I am not hallucinating.

The only thing a doctor is going to do is prescribe some anti-psychotics or worse yet, fit

me for a straight jacket.”

His denial only irritated her, “Then what do you call them Mulder? If these really are

precognitions of the future how do we convey them to anyone who won’t think you’re out

of your mind?”

“Sarcasm will get you nowhere. You think I’m enjoying this?” She could see the veins in

his neck as he fought to control his temper. No, she knew he wasn’t enjoying it. So why

was he so adamant about protecting it?

“Well I’m not enjoying it either, Mulder, so talk to me.”

“Why, so you can try and fucking rationalize what I tell you?”

“No,” she tried to stroke his hand, offering him reassurance in hopes of keeping this

conversation from escalating into something like they had been through the other night.

“So I can help you,” she answered, trying to keep her voice calm. “When we hide the

truth from each other it only works against us, you told me that. I just want to be sure

that when this is all over YOU’RE going to be alright.”

He had told her that and he remembered how he’d felt everytime she’d kept the truth

about her illness from him. He let out a shaky sigh, and began his confession.

“Honestly?” He watched as she nodded hopefully. “I can’t remember the last time I felt

ALRIGHT Scully, and it certainly wasn’t last night,” his eyes sought out hers for support.

“That explains why you look the way you do. What happened last night?”

“Bad dream, really bad dream,” her eyes begged him to continue. “I’ve been catching bits

and pieces of it for the past week, when I was alone last night it unfolded in all it’s glory.”

“Oh, Mulder.”

He shook his head, “I was in some sort of antiquated medical facility, strapped down on a

table and surrounded by a group of German doctors…”

She closed her eyes, the Germans from her dream; the moment she found Mulder

strapped to that table in the DOD several years ago all came rushing back to her.

“Hey,” Mulder reached up to brush her cheek. “Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this

now.”

“No, no, if you stop you’ll never tell me the rest of it.” His hand had suddenly grown cold

in hers.

“They’d shaved my head and imbedded some sort of electrodes into my brain. One of

them injected me with something, God Scully, it burned through every part of my body.

There were others there, I could hear them screaming. The gulag at Tunguska had been a

health spa compared to this. I don’t remember anything else. I woke up to my own

screams drenched in sweat.”

Scully hesitated a moment before she spoke. She wanted to tell him there had been

Germans of a different kind in her own dream but he didn’t need to hear about that now.

There was something more important she was trying to get to. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there

for you…”

“No, no,” he shook his head. “You’re listening now, that’s all I ask.”

It hit her then that maybe that’s all he had ever wanted; someone to listen and not

condemn. “Do you think it was a flashback or something to do with The Holocaust?”

“I don’t know,” he answered letting go of her hand. “From what I remember, nobody was

speaking German at the DOD,” he tried to pull a smile from her but she only looked more

concerned. “Don’t you see, these aren’t visions of the future, they’re moments from the

past? Moments we should have learned from. You said it yourself, we bury the dead

alive, that that’s what consciousness is. They’re trying to speak to us, Scully. Only

nobody is listening.”

“Except you?”

“God, Scully, don’t you think somebody needs to?” His eyes pleaded with hers, “You

know years ago Cassandra told me that I was the one she believed could stop what was

happening. I brushed her off then. I was so frustrated and angry and tired of the bullshit

that I refused to listen to her. But what if she was right?”

She squeezed his hand, “You know, Mulder, maybe you don’t realize it, but I’ve always

been listening to you and what I do know is that these dreams you’re experiencing now

have only led us to some other horrific event. What if this dream is the same? Why can’t

you understand that you’re not in this alone? Mulder, I’m worried about you.”

A gentle smile crossed his lips, “I know you are but I don’t want you to be. If I thought I

was a danger to anyone, including myself I would let you know. I will promise you that.”

“I will keep you to that you know.”

He nodded ever so slightly and then met her eyes. “Listen, about yesterday, I didn’t mean

to run out of here like I did but I meant what I said — about needing some time to think.”

“About what?”

“Us, and about what you said the other night. It wasn’t very fair of me to spring that on

you like that Scully, I’m sor…”

Before he could say anything else she reached up to put her fingers to his lips. “Mulder,

don’t apologize, that’s not what I want. It was just a surprise, a wonderful surprise and

flattering and very sweet and I reacted badly. I should be the one to apologize.” She

couldn’t look at him with the hat on anymore and she reached up again to pull if off his

head. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I took a beautiful moment away from us and

I’m so, so sorry.”

“It’s okay…”

“No, it’s not okay. All I could think about was our not being able to work together

anymore if we were married. That it would end our partnership. A legal marriage would

only keep us apart in a most important way and I don’t want that to happen. I got angry

because I couldn’t make you see it that way.”

He leaned over and kissed her gently, “Well I do now,” he pulled back a little and

watched as a soft smile graced her lips. “I am happy, Scully, that confession I made to

you in my hallway all those years ago — you still have no idea how much you’ve changed

my life. This relationship we share has made me whole again and for the first time in my

life, I am happy.”

He reached for her then, taking her head in his hands and using the pads of his thumbs to

caress her cheeks, “You’re right Scully, right now we do have the best of both worlds. A

marriage certificate is just a piece of paper and what you and I have goes much deeper

than that.”

The intensity of his gaze unnerved her. When he spoke again his voice cracked with

emotion. “Having each other is all that’s really important.”

The phrase seemed eerily familiar, Skinner’s words as they’d driven though the dark night

without Marty echoed in her mind. The sacrifice he’d made for her in her dream. She

played with Mulder’s hat realizing how very much alike he and Marty were. She suddenly

worried about where he was going with this. “But you suddenly felt the need to ask for

one.”

He looked down at her hands that continued to play with his hat. “I asked because I got

to thinking about what Tara said to me about the time we have left; and what your family

has always thought of me and because I thought our relationship had become something

that maybe you wanted to sanctify in the eyes of God but didn’t think that I did,” he

looked up. “I want you to know what you mean to me. You’re all I have left Scully. I

can’t lose you either.”

She did know, how could he think she didn’t? Words had never seemed necessary where

her devotion to him was concerned. She’d proved it over and again and her family knew

it too. But when he’d asked her for the ultimate commitment, she’d turned him down. It

saddened her to think she hadn’t realized this, that maybe now for some reason, it was too

late.

“Mulder, what do you mean, the time we have left? We have all kinds of time don’t we?”

When he didn’t answer her, she asked him again, “Don’t we?”

“They both know what it’s like to lose a partner, Scully. To have that bond and lose it.”

“And we wouldn’t because we’re not married? Mulder, why is this suddenly so

important? You said I was right, about our partnership.”

She watched him pick at her blanket. “You are,” he acknowledged, looking up. “As

much as I would like it to happen, if we got married, we’d very likely lose the partnership

and I’m not willing to risk that now either — despite what your family thinks of me.”

She reached out to still his hand, “They accept my lifestyle Mulder. Tara is grateful, and

mom loves you. Besides, it doesn’t matter what they think, I love you, for better or for

worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until — for

as long as we both shall live. I do.”

“Your mom accepts me, Scully. Don’t for once think that I’m the type of guy she

envisioned her baby girl spending the rest of her life with.”

He straightened up, the realization of what she’d just said finally sinking in. “What?” He

looked right at her, “What did you just say?” It warmed her heart to see the same smile

from the other night spread across his face.

“I said, I do,” surprised to find she’d rendered him speechless, she went on. “I’ve trusted

you with my life, Mulder, I always have. How could you not think that I trust you with

my heart as well?” She watched his eyes search hers, “Mulder, you are the most amazing

person I have ever met. You’re dark and mysterious, and yes, maybe you are a little

dangerous. But you’re also brilliant and wonderfully caring and though I hate to

encourage you, you make me laugh.” She watched as his lip curled but before he could

say anything, she continued. “You’re a dreamer, Mulder and I admire you for holding on

to those dreams with more courage than an army. You’re the best teacher I’ve ever had

and a hopeless romantic and though you can be infuriating at times, you’re irresistible,”

she reached up to caress his face, her fingers playing into his hair. “And I love you for all

those things.” She glanced down and picked up his hat to put it back on, “With or

without this silly hat. You have my heart, Mulder, always. As my work partner and in

every other meaning of the word, don’t ever doubt that. And I do, want to spend the rest

of my life with you.”

She watched as he studied her face, his eyes dilating with desire and then he swallowed,

hard. “Do we need to exchange rings on that or what?”

“God is watching, Mulder, he knows,” she reached up to brush her thumb across the

bruise on his cheek.

“I’m glad then,” she watched his eyes suddenly dance. “Because of all the gin-joints in

the world, I’m so very grateful you walked into mine, partner,” he whispered as he leaned

over to kiss her again.

A tap on the door broke them apart; she smiled at him in reference to his apropos use of

the movie quote. “Excuse me,” the floor nurse who Scully had met earlier was standing in

the doorway. “Sorry for the — interruption,” she nodded to Mulder when he turned to

look at Scully. “I’ve got Dana’s release papers ready. They’ll be at the desk,” she

motioned down the hall and then shyly pulled the door to.

“Please tell me you brought me a change of clothes?” Scully asked when he turned back

to her. She watched him get up and bend down to pick up a duffle bag.

“Picked them out personally,” he said as he set the bag on the bed and reached up to

straighten his hat. “I’ll go find your release papers.”

“Mulder wait,” once again she reached for his arm. “I need to apologize for something

else. The way I acted at the bank the other day.”

“What do you mean?

“I wasn’t very polite to your friend at the bank. It just all seemed so secretive on your

part you didn’t really explain why we were there.”

“I told you, I just needed your signature on some things. I talked to John this morning, he

said he’d come by the house when you’re feeling better, we can take care of it then.

“Have you been holding out on me?” she asked with mock seriousness.

He stepped back a few steps and her hand dropped from his arm. “They’re just

investment accounts Scully. Though there’s enough there for a healthy retirement,” he

said with a smile. “And maybe help Tara put the kids through school. I want you to have

access to them.”

The ‘in case something happens to me’ he didn’t say crossed quickly through her mind.

“Then invite him to dinner, I think I owe him one.”

“Thanks, he’d probably like that better than trying to beat me on the basketball court.”

After he’d left the room in search of her release papers she opened the duffle, shuddering

to think what he might have packed for her but relieved to find he’d packed her some of

her favorite casual clothes and a pair of flat shoes. Though the nurse had succeeded in

changing the subject of their conversation she was determined to take it up with him

again. Her Mulder alarm had gone from yellow to red. He’d been more forthcoming than

usual about his disturbing dreams but she still had a sense that he was hiding something

from her. She remembered the sacrifice Marty had made in her dream. She would not let

Mulder do the same. Maybe her science would save the world one day, but she needed

his beautiful mind to help her do it.

A few minutes later Mulder came back with an orderly in tow steering the customary

wheelchair for her ride to the door. “You ready Doll?” he joked, falling into the part.

When she nodded, he kept it up. “Good, then what do you say we blow this joint?” The

orderly rolled his eyes as he helped her into the wheelchair. Heading down the hall to the

elevator, she couldn’t help but notice the looks that were directed their way. Mulder had

no idea how he looked in that hat.

When Mulder pulled up with the car she reached in to pluck his hat from her seat and slid

in beside him. The orderly shut the door and tapped the window. Mulder put the car into

gear and pulled away. As they headed down the drive and out into traffic she played with

his hat. Creasing it just so and straightening the brim. She could see him watching her

from the corner of her eye.

“So, you gonna tell me about this Marty guy or what?”

AUTHOR’S NOTES: Webster’s definition of the word “Partner” is as follows:

1. a person who shares or is associated with another person in some action or endeavor;

associate 2. one of two persons who contribute capital to establish or maintain a

commercial venture and who usually share in the risks and profits 3. silent partners 4. a

husband, wife or lover 5. either of two persons who dance together 6. a player on the

same side or team as another

clip_image008

According to a website I found there really was a club in Chicago called The Ivanhoe

back in the 40’s. I’m a closet fan of Big Band music. Google Glen Miller and listen to

some of his music, it had a sound all its own. Thanks to my ebuddie Chris for the

information on John Dillinger and her endless poking. And thanks to Vickie and Chuck

for their beta work and to Martin for the wonderful artwork, you’ve satisfied my secret

desire to see Mulder in a fedora. The idea for this story came to me last summer on a

drive to South Carolina. My husband and I were listening to an early morning radio

program on of all things, fashion of the 1940’s. One of the tunes in the piece was AT

LAST a song composed by Mack Gordon for a 1942 film titled ORCHESTRA WIVES.

In my own little universe, it seemed to fit Mulder and Scully; the story just grew from

there. There’s a quote from STAR TREK in here somewhere.

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