Rating: Oh yeah...NC-17. Sorry kids, if you are under 18...you shouldn't be reading it.
Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully aren't mine at all, they are property of CC and the fine folks at Fox and 1013.
Brookview Laboratory, Maryland
One never gets used to the smell of death. Or the feel of death. Even to one trained in the science of pathology. It permeates the air, creating an uneasy stillness. Quiet reverence.
There was crime tape all around the Brooksview Laboratory. I wove my way through it, following Mulder through its corridors.
I could feel death in the air.
"Hey, Foxy Baby," said Special Agent John Remsbecker, clapping Mulder's outstretched hand. "Long time no see. I was glad to hear they were sending you out on this."
"How ya doing, Remy? What's it been...eight years?" Mulder said, as I came up beside him. "This is my partner, Dana Scully."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," I said, shaking his hand. He was a handsome man, with short, dark blond hair that spiked in all directions. Not quite as tall as Mulder. "And to work on a case with the famed team of Remsbecker and Jennings."
Remy's smiled faded as he looked at me. "You haven't heard, have you?"
"Heard what?" I asked.
He put his hands on his hips and looked at us thoughtfully. "This is our last case."
"What?" Mulder asked, shaking his head.
"This is it," Remy said, a touch of bitterness creeping in his tone. "Jennings is off to Portland when this is either closed or solved."
Special Agent Lisa Jennings was squatting by the victim, covered over in a body bag. I walked up to meet her, the sound of my heels on the tile made her turn.
"Agent Jennings? I'm Dana Scully," I said, extending my hand.
She is petite like I am, with jet black cropped hair and dark eyes. Striking against her fair complexion. She reached in her pocket and pulled out another pair of latex gloves, handing them to me instead of shaking my hand.
"I hope you're ready for this one," she said, grinning slightly.
"Fire away," I said, squatting beside her. Hardly anything surprised me anymore.
"I'm afraid this one is out of our league," she said, unzipping the bag. "Meet Dr. Morgan Geber. Our prime suspect in the water contamination."
Inside was the body of man, frozen in the pose of death. His hands were upright, fingers digging into his face, as if trying to scrape away the skin. Mouth open wide, as if screaming. Skin that shone with a metallic sheen. I scooted in closer and touched his flesh. It was hard and unyielding.
"What the..." I started, probing further. I reached up and tried to draw his eyelids back. They would not move, as if they'd been welded shut.
"His skin, his body," Jennings said. "It's like their whole composition has been altered."
"Some kind of absorption?" I wondered, unzipping the bag farther. I pulled up his shirt to reveal the skin beneath. It was the same. With the orange metallic sheen. And very rigid. "When was he found?"
"This morning," Jennings said, standing up to stretch her legs. "His coworkers found him, sprawled on the floor like that."
"Let me see," Mulder said, I hadn't even heard him enter the room. "Agent Jennings?"
He extended his hand to her, she grinned as she pulled out another pair of gloves and slapped them in his palm.
"A pleasure Agent Mulder," she said, moving out of the way so he could kneel beside me.
"Oooh, didn't I see this in a James Bond movie?" Mulder mused, nudging my elbow.
"I must have missed that one, Mulder," I said, raising my eyebrow. "I was thinking more along the lines of King Midas."
He reached out a gloved finger and touched the man's cheek, pursing his lips. "Or the goose that laid the golden egg. Big egg, don't you think?"
I tried not to grin at his sick sense of humor, as it only encouraged him.
"Well, there goes three weeks of hard work," Remy sighed, tapping his foot on the floor.
Jennings sniffed and narrowed her eyes at him. "Four for me, since I did all the legwork."
"Afraid I won't give you the credit? Don't worry, you'll blow out of DC with your spotless record in tact," Remy retorted. "This will just go unsolved."
"I told you we should have come here last night," she snapped. "But no, you had to wait. Just go with it, J. We'll nail him in the morning."
"Well, he certainly did get nailed," Mulder said, trying to disburse the tension in the room.
Jennings rolled her eyes, Remy folded his arms. Both stared back as us.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
There was a rap on the door of Pathology. I set the tape recorder down.
"Come in," I called, bracing my hands on the sides of the table.
Mulder entered, throwing a smile at me.
"Goldfinger...he's the man, the man with the Midas touch," he sang softly, doing some little dance. Trying to get me to crack a smile. "Name's Mulder. Fox Mulder. FBI. You like yours shaken or stirred..Miss?"
"If you say Pussy Galore, I'm going to kill you," I said, keeping a serious look on my face. I held up my scalpel, waving it with my fingers.
"That's okay," he said, standing on the opposite side of the table. Mulder lowered his voice. "I know you like yours stirred. In small circles."
I felt my face flush as his overt comment, using his intimate knowledge to unnerve me.
"You like it better shaken, don't you?" I replied quietly, a small smile on the corner of my mouth.
Mulder focused on the man lying prostrate between us. "I'll tell you what I got, if you show me what you got, Miss Galore."
"Mulder," I said, picking up my chart and some lab results. "I'm not sure what I've got. This man, his skin, his body composition has been, for lack of a better word, transformed."
"Into?" he asked, wanting me to continue.
"Atomic number 29 on the Periodic Table," I said, testing his memory.
"Ding. I know the answer, Alex. Copper."
"Not in the form of a question," I said. Smart ass.
"Ding. What is copper?" he corrected, winking at me.
"You are correct," I said, shaking my head at the man. "I've got the lab working overtime trying to find out how copper has fused into his cell structure. This shouldn't be possible."
"Now it's your turn," Mulder said, walking around the table. "Answer is the speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of base metals, a discovery of a universal cure for disease and the means of prolonging life."
I stared at him. "I want another question."
"Buzzzz. The answer is what is alchemy?" Mulder said. "No final Jeopardy for you."
"Alchemy is a pseudo-science Mulder," I said, sighing. "Created in the Middle Ages. They believed that they could discover the true science of matter by mixing religion, philosophy, science and magik."
"Call it what you will, but alchemy is a very old practice who's origins some say date back to before Christ." Mulder took a few steps backwards, walking in measures paces as if lecturing to a study body instead of me and a corpse. "The most well known rote of alchemy is called transmutation."
"Transmutation," I repeated, turning my attention away from Mulder and to the corpse. I laid the sheet over him respectfully.
"Transmutation of the base metals to the finer metals like. . .for $1,000 dollars and the game, Dana Scully!" he said, turning and pointing at me.
I rolled my eyes. "I don't know. . .gold?"
"Ding. You are correct," he said, helping me push him back in the refrigerated cell. "Give the lady a prize."
"But he's turned to copper," I said, glaring at him.
"Well, perhaps he hadn't worked up to that yet," Mulder said.
I locked the cooler and peeled off my gloves and goggles. "Mulder, I don't know what this has to do with Remy and Jennings' contamination case. They were investigating the county water of Alton. Citizens complaining of headaches, nausea and dizziness. They had traced the contaminant back to Brooksview, to Dr. Geber."
"Remy thinks this is part of a much larger game plan, with the water contamination only being part of it. And he's certain he wasn't working alone. There's evidence to support Dr. Geber wasn't just a chemist," Mulder said. "Tomorrow, we're scheduled to search Geber's house."
"What kind of evidence?" I pressed, staring up at him. I was looking for something more concrete than just Mulder's theories.
"He had written a paper, fifteen years ago on the modern applications of alchemy," he said, edging closer to me. "Dismissed of course by the scientific community, but I believe he continued his proposed research."
Dr. Morgan Geber's Home
Jennings had arrived late, having gathered more information on Dr. Geber, including the paper and its distribution.
"Slacking already?" Remy said, underneath his breath as she came in.
"No," Jennings replied sharply, having caught the comment. "Doing some research, as usual. Someone has to. I hope my replacement can."
"I hope your replacement can do a lot of things."
I exchanged a look with Mulder. His eyes grew wider and he mouthed the word "ouch."
"So, what do you have for us?" I asked, returning to the case at hand.
"The main concept of alchemy is that everything is evolving," Jennings said, as we searched the house. Remy was in the living room, Mulder the back bedroom and I was in the kitchen. Jennings stood in the center hallway so that we could all hear. "It's mostly a speculation on how modern science can be applied to the theories and methods of alchemy."
"What does it say about copper?" I asked, as I took various containers down off the shelves.
"Copper is connected with life, used for healing and transforming," she said, flipping ahead. "But fluids or other body parts are often mixed with the metal to create elixirs. For longevity, intelligence or wisdom. The water samples from Alton did contain unusually high levels of metal."
"So, would it be possible Geber was working on such an elixir? Using the small community of Alton as a test group?" Mulder asked, his voice echoing through the quiet house.
"Elixir for what?" Remy asked, emerging from the living room. "I can't find anything in here."
"It could be for anything," Jennings said. "But it's not just the metals, alchemists believe they can make things evolve and transform."
"Using science as a base for their quasi-chemical practices," I surmised.
"What I've read on the subject is they form alchemical societies, with apprenticeships in the art. It's a guarded society," Mulder said. "Maybe Geber was killed for a reason."
I jumped off the step stool I was standing on. "Selling out the secret?"
"Maybe," Mulder countered. "Who's on that distribution list?"
"He presented it at an conference," Jennings said. "I have a list of attendees."
"Let's do a background check. How many names are there?" Remy asked.
"About fifty," she replied. "I'm already on it."
"Such efficiency. I'll miss that when you're in Portland," Remy said, voice slightly edgy.
"I'm sure you can fend for yourself," Jennings quipped, tension filling the room again.
I stared at the spice rack in front of me, it was one that turned on a lazy susan. Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary. I turned it around, to show the ones facing the wall.
They were labeled quite differently. Gold, Copper, Iron, Lead. Shavings of each.
"Mulder," I said, calling him. "Look at this."
He came up behind me, arm reaching from behind me to take a bottle.
"Well, I haven't seen this on the Cooking Channel," he said quietly.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Geber's house was filled with various books on alchemy, hidden in the shelves. Symbolic art and furnishings were also found. His computers were taken back to headquarters to be searched for further evidence. Three names on the conference list were linked back to Geber. Dr. Phillip Whitten, Dr. Alex Hiblovic and Dr. Stephen Mallenbaum.
Jennings and I were researching the three remaining names. Whitten had died suspiciously last week, his body was found burned in his house, charred beyond recognition. Mallenbaum had worked with Geber off and on over the last five years, although we were having trouble finding his current whereabouts. We were now focusing on Hiblovic. She was searching the hard drive. I looked at pictures of the four, all were in the mid-thirties to mid-forties, highly intelligent.
Jennings was very good with computers and research, apparently that was her forte. Finding information. She rarely used the FBI's personnel on their cases, choosing to do the legwork herself. She was a quiet woman, yet I recognized that single-minded determination that set her apart from other agents.
"You're being transferred to Portland?" I asked carefully, as I searched another database.
"I'm not being transferred, it's voluntary," she said. "After ten years, it's just time. I can't work with...I mean, I just need a change."
"You were going to say, you can't work with Remy anymore," I clarified. There was a part of me that wanted to know why she was leaving. What was it that dissolved such a perfect working relationship.
"You have a partner, you know what it's like. Remy and I have been together for a long time. I was assigned to him, right out of the academy. We were so successful on our first two cases, they made the partnership permanent," Jennings said, looking over at me. "And for ten years, it worked just fine. But it's just not the same. We fight all the time and can't agree on anything. Where once we worked so closely together, having the same goals and ambitions, now we drift from case to case. Never ending repetition. And I need to go forward. Without Remy."
I studied her carefully. She had to be the same age as I was, maybe even younger, since she didn't attend med school. But I knew the look in her eyes. I'd seen it on my face, looking back at me in the mirror months ago. After losing the X-files. When we were assigned to Kersh. Before we were lovers. Before my life and work took on a new purpose with Mulder.
She had no direction. Whatever was the driving force between Remy and Jennings was gone.
She turned back to the computer, and continued to work. After another five minutes of searching, she snapped around in her chair.
"I've got it," she said, smiling. "Hiblovic's current residence. It's over in Baltimore. He's affiliated with the Hastings Research Facility there."
We were heading out to Baltimore. I found Mulder in our office, busy with further investigation.
"Remember the elixirs Jennings mentioned earlier? One of them was for longevity," he said, not looking up as I entered the room. "Check this out. Of the 225 people in Alton, 40 are considered to be elderly. Many who suffered from various afflictions reported their conditions had either improved or stayed the same."
I stared at Mulder, only half listening to what he was saying. What was life like before Mulder? I honestly couldn't remember. He was part of my life so completely, every day in some degree.
"I think they were a test group," he continued, typing in more data. "What if through the application of alchemy, the five have managed to find the elixir of longevity?"
He'd risked his life countless times to save mine. He would have gladly traded his for mine. How close I'd come to losing Mulder. What would life be like without him now? What kind of life would that be?
"Better yet, who funded this project? Think of the ramifications. Finding the key to longevity. Eternal youth," Mulder speculated. "Or to have the ability to change matter, transmutation. Geber's body proves what a dangerous weapon that could be. And valuable, if they get the gold one correct."
I really do love him. Despite all the complications in our lives, the dangers and the disappointments, I wouldn't change a thing. Our journey made us who we are today.
"The Midas touch," he said. His voice faded out. I heard his chair squeak as he leaned back. "I'm thinking of quitting the FBI, Scully. I'm going to do infomercials with Richard Simmons on dieting the alchemic way. Dash of gold, spot of iron."
"Quit the FBI?" I answered, looking down at him.
"This is ground control to Agent Scully," he said, smiling. "Where were you?"
"Would you ever quit the FBI?" I asked.
"What's bothering you Scully?" Mulder asked, reaching for a sunflower seed. He cracked it carefully in his teeth. "I know I'm pretty boring...but usually you hide it better than that."
"It's just, spending time with Jennings today. We talked about why she is leaving," I started, walking around his desk. I sat on the edge, right in front of him. "It disturbed me. I saw something in her, Mulder. Something I recognized..."
"It's like seeing what might have been," he concluded. "I know. I talked to Remy today, while we were out. There's a lot of hostility there."
"That could have been me, Mulder," I said, leaning back. "If I'd..."
"If you'd what, Scully?" he asked, keeping his eyes locked on mine.
"Never fell in love with you. Never admitted it to myself. And to you," I finished. "Maybe after a few more years, we would have drifted apart too. Seeking a new direction."
"Trying to find what we couldn't have with each other."
"Starting over. Starting fresh," I said. I wasn't just echoing Jenning's words. They were mine once upon a time. The time I almost did leave the X-files. Standing in Mulder's hallway as he pleaded with me to stay.
"You almost walked out of my life, too," he said, picking up on the same thoughts I was having. "I know how close I came."
"Alchemy is the belief that matter is evolving and changing, right?" I asked.
"Transforming," he said. He reached over, touching my hand with his briefly. He smiled.
The room grew quiet with understanding.
Hastings Research Facility
There was no one home at Hiblovic's residence. Neighbors said he hadn't been around much in the last month. He lived alone. Jennings didn't want to take the chance of not finding him alive, so we decided to head out to Hastings and wait for him there. We were in separate cars, only I was with Remy and Jennings was with Mulder on opposites sides of the parking garage. His car was parked in the middle, we'd traced the plates. One of the teams would see him leave, as both exits were now covered.
Remy was tapping his fingers on the dashboard, in random rhythm. I quietly waited for any sign of Hiblovic.
"This doesn't bother you?" he asked, stopping his drumming.
"Not really," I replied. "Mulder does things much worse that that."
Remy laughed. "J would have drawn her gun on me already. Threatening to shoot me if I didn't stop. After ten years, you learn what really pisses off your partner." His smile faded. "I'll miss that."
"Mulder eats sunflower seeds," I said, glancing over at him. "All the time. Cracking those damn shells. They're all over the office. On his chair. In the rental car. Hotels. Everywhere. I find them in the weirdest places. And I hate sunflower seeds."
"J chews pens. Every goddamn pen in our office is chewed to shreds. It's really disgusting," he countered. Remy fished in his breast pocket, pulling out a pen. The cap was completely gnarled. "See? Disgusting."
"Mulder likes to throw pencils at the ceiling," I said, smiling over at him. "Speaking of writing utensils. He gets them very sharp and then aims for the ceiling. To see how many he can get up there before they fall. His record is 35."
Remy laughed, and then looked at the pen thoughtfully. "I guess I should save this. To remember her by. We were a good team. Once."
The car was silent, I studied his face in the reflection of the glass. He was sullen, as if trying to remember the good times and not the bad. Suddenly, my cell phone chirped, breaking his quiet reverie.
"Hiblovic's coming out," said Mulder. "On our side. He's headed for the car."
"Got it, we're moving," I said, gesturing to Remy to start the car.
Remy drove slowly, circling the garage. He turned off the lights, so we could edge closer less conspicuously. Jennings and Mulder were parked off to the right.
Hiblovic was a short man in his late thirties with brown hair and glasses. He walked in quickened paces to this car, looking around nervously.
"I'm getting out," Mulder said, then the phone was quiet.
Remy was watching carefully, his left hand on the door, ready to jump out.
Hiblovic was crossing the lot to get to his car, when suddenly we heard a squeal of tires and a dark car spun around the corner, high brights blinding us. It nearly hit Hiblovic, who fell to the ground. I could see Mulder running towards them, gun in hand. Remy shot out of the car with me.
Two men with long trenches climbed out of the dark car, trying to drag Hiblovic to his feet. Mulder was almost on them, I saw him brace against a column.
Remy was poised behind one car, me behind another. Weapons drawn.
"Freeze! Federal Agents!" Mulder shouted, edging closer.
The men struggled with Hiblovic, they almost had him in the car as Mulder approached. Remy kept him covered, sliding around the car.
Suddenly, I saw movement in the back of the car, so swiftly that my scream was barely out of my throat when I saw a gun discharge...
Right at Mulder. He dropped to the ground.
"Federal Agents!" Remy shouted, firing at the men full force. They dropped Hiblovic, the one in the back fired at Remy, but he missed.
Gunfire was exchanged as I tried to get to Mulder, my heart racing in my throat. The men scrambled back in the car, tires squealing as they tried to run over Hiblovic. Remy shot at the car, blowing out the back windshield in a shower of glass. Jennings was right on their ass, following them. She had to swerve hard to miss Hiblovic.
"MULDER!" I shouted, running full force to him. He was already scrambling to get to his feet, I hunched beside him.
Blood poured down from this forehead and into his eyes. The bullet had just grazed his skull. I reached in his pocket for a hankerchief to press against it.
"Shit," Mulder breathed, trying to waive me away. "Did you get them?"
I shook my head, whispering a prayer of thanks that the bullet missed him.
Remy had Hiblovic, who was screaming in pain. His left leg had been run over, crushed by the car.
"Mulder?" he shouted, looking over.
"He's okay," I shouted back, wiping the blood out of his eyes.
"Just a flesh wound," he mused, staring up at me. "Where's Jennings?"
"She took off after them," I said, reaching for my cell phone to call an ambulance. "You'll need stitches. But we've got Hiblovic."
"Good," Mulder whispered, leaning back against a car.
Holiday Inn Baltimore
Jennings managed to get a plate for them, but a trace came back inconclusive. The ambulance took Hiblovic to the hospital, along with Mulder. It only took a few stitches to seal the wound closed and they did x-rays just be sure. I kept my professional distance from him, keeping an eye on Hiblovic's condition.
Remy and Jennings were staying with Hiblovic at the hospital, where he was getting operated on. I had called in from the hotel room I was sharing with Jennings. Everything was under control for now, we'd have a chance to question him in the morning.
I opened the door to the room Mulder and Remy were in. I found Mulder sitting on the couch, with his head leaned back and eyes closed. He was listening to a soft core porn flick on the hotel's cable when I came in. I stepped in front of the television, amid the groans and skin and turned it off.
"Hey," he protested. "I was watching that."
"No, you weren't," I said, walking over to him. I stood in front of him, leaning down to look at his head. The swelling had gone down some, he was keeping an ice compress on it, but it had fallen to the edge of the couch. Melting.
"I was listening," he said, opening his eyes. "Using my imagination."
"Uh-huh," I replied, checking his pupils as well.
"Pretending that was you and me," he whispered. Mulder's hand reached out to my neck, the space just above heart and traced a small circle there.
I smiled at him, to the hazy look in his eyes. I wasn't sure if it was the pain medication or just lust. The room was dark now that the television was off. I dropped to my knees, sitting on the floor with his long legs on either side of me.
"You were," I repeated, hands on his thighs. "How's your head?"
"Which one?" he smirked. "Big one's fine, the other one still aches."
I let out a small laugh. Maybe it was the pain medication.
"Perhaps I should check the other one," I whispered, hands snaking upwards. My voice suddenly sounded strange to me, did I just say that? "Just to be sure. Isn't this the one men think with the most?"
Mulder looked down at me, watching my every motion. I felt his legs tense with anticipation. God, I needed him. Needed to communicate with him in the language we were still learning to speak. The tone in the room shifted to something else far from professional concern of his well-being.
It was something I knew Mulder enjoyed immensely. I saw his eyes darken with the realization at what I was going to do.
"Scully?" he asked carefully.
"Don't talk," I said, smiling.
"This is so..." he mumbled, breath quickening. "Unlike you. Here? What if Remy comes back."
"He's not," I said, carefully unzipping his suit pants. "I just called them, they'll be another couple hours."
He let out a breathy laugh, lustfully gazing down at me. His fingers smoothed my hair back.
"If I'm dreaming, don't wake me," he whispered.
"Does this feel like a dream?" I said, touching him through the fabric. He was already hard, I smiled at how little it took with him. How did he survived all those years waiting for me?
He said nothing, just watched me as if mesmerized.
I opened the fly, and moved his boxers out of the way to expose his penis. I took it in my hand, rubbing my thumb over the head. Slowly.
"Dear God," he whispered.
"I love how you invoke God's name when we make love," I said, pressing into his erection. "A God you don't even believe in."
Mulder smiled. "I'm eternally grateful to God, Mohammed, Buddha, Mother Earth whoever I have to thank for loving you."
"But you don't say...Dear Mohammed," I teased, taking him into my mouth.
"Oh...dear Mohammed," he said, leaning his head back. "Better Scully? Ahh--wait. Don't answer that."
I ran my tongue over his head, the skin soft beneath me. Delving into the indent that's a telltale sign he was brought up Jewish. My fingers were stroking the base, I could feel it growing harder. More insistent.
My usually verbose partner was reduced to a simple set of one-syllable sounds. I opened my eyes long enough to see the pleasure written across his features. His fingers gripped the side of the couch, not wanting to disturb me. For all his talk of perversion and innuendo, he was very respectful of oral sex. Giving or receiving. I could feel him holding back, not wanting to push himself in my mouth.
My teeth grazed its shaft, tugging gently as I moved up and down. I pressed my tongue harder into one spot, causing him to moan a little louder.
"Hare hare krishna," he breathed.
I had to stop and smile, removing my mouth. I put my thumb back on that spot, to continue the pressure.
"Atheist," I whispered, biting my lip. I could still feel the texture of his penis on my tongue.
"I only worship at the temple of Scully," Mulder said, smiling down at me. I laid my cheek on his thigh, feeling the fabric of his suit. "Whenever the doors are open."
I felt heat pooling in my lower extremities. I shifted slightly, continuing to stroke. "I'm open."
Mulder smiled. "The pain killer is going to affect my memory a bit. You'll have to remember the details of number forty-eight for us."
I stood up, unbuttoning my jacket slowly. Mulder's eidetic memory allowed him to catalogue our lovemaking. This encounter would be tagged forty-eight. I wanted to make sure it was as memorable as one through forty-seven.
I stepped out of my shoes, then slid my jacket down my shoulders.
"Are you doing...a little striptease for me?" he asked, amusement in his tone. "I'm going to get injured more often, if this is what I get as your bedside manner."
I started to unbutton my blouse next, but he reached up. Gesturing for me to come closer. "Let me."
I eased into his lap, straddling him on either side. Mulder's fingers finished working on the buttons. His mouth sought mine, kissing me tenderly. He slid my blouse off, letting the silky fabric fall away. His hands cupped my breasts, pressing up and into them.
My heart was racing. We shouldn't be doing this. I had never wanted to do this under these circumstances, while on assignment. It scared me more than anything. But something had changed for me recently. After the encounter with Phillip Padgett, I decided not to set so many rules on our relationship. Life was preciously short. I kissed him over and over, feeling the pleasure overwhelming me. My fingers worked on his shirt, unbuttoning it as well. I ran my hands over his chest. His heart beat strong beneath them. Was this just a test of my newfound freedom?
I shook the thoughts out of my head. No more rationalizations.
"Scully," he said hazily, between kisses. He tugged at my belt loops. "I can't get these damn things off with you sitting like that."
"Let me," I said, getting up long enough to take off my slacks and underwear.
"I really don't want to forget this," he mused as I took his pants off as well. Getting rid of these obstacles.
"How's your head?" I asked again, easing back into his lap. Centering myself. My body tensed for a second as I settled down upon him. My inner walls stretched to accommodate him. I sighed happily. The perfect fit.
"I'm getting feeling back, dull ache...." he whispered.
"Not this head," I replied, kissing the spot by the bandage.
"Oh," he said, kissing me roughly. "Very well. Thank you. Doing better every second...ooooh."
I bit my lip and continued to slide my body up and down his length. Caught up in the moment. How fleeting they all seemed to me. Mere seconds in our lives, yet moments so cherished and anticipated.
"You are so hot," he breathed, hands on my hips to steady our thrusts. "Inside. More so than usual."
"I just missed you," I said, stopping for a minute to kiss him. Really kiss him. Deep and passionate. "I love you, Mulder."
"I didn't mean to scare you," he whispered, mouth close to mine.
My heart grew heavier for a moment. I stared at him in the darkness, our thrusting stopped momentarily, bodies still joined.
"I was scared," I breathed.
"I know," Mulder replied, holding me closer. "So was I."
I could hear the clock on the wall. Ticking slowly in the stillness of the room.
Baltimore General Hospital
Hiblovic was under guard when we arrived. Remy had spend the night there. Jennings had come back to the hotel around 5:00 a.m. to rest for a while. Apparently, she and Remy had called a truce for now.
Jennings, Mulder and I entered Hiblovic's room. Remy looked pretty worn, his clothes wrinkled and he was badly in need of a shave. But his spirit was still in tact.
"How's the head, Foxy?" he asked, standing up and punching Mulder's arm.
"Oh, my head's just fine," he replied, emphasizing the word "head."
I felt my face warm, knowing what he was really saying. I dared not look over at him.
"We have a few questions for you, Dr. Hiblovic," Jennings said, folding her arms. "Who was trying to kill you?"
She was nothing if not direct.
Hiblovic's leg was in a cast and he looked very pale, but alert.
"You have to protect me," he said shakily. "If I help you, will you protect me?"
"We can offer you protection," Mulder said, walking to the perimeter of the room. "If you tell us what you were really doing with Geber, Mallenbaum and Whitten."
"There are forces of nature, things that mere science cannot comprehend," he said, easing back in the bed. "I could try to explain it to you, but you wouldn't understand."
"I understand the basic principles of alchemy," Mulder said, staring back at him. "Transmutation. Elixirs. Rotes. I've read Geber's paper. What I'd like to know now is how you four have applied them."
"It is a very old art. And a very guarded one as well. Centuries of methods handed down over generations. Everything is evolving. And everything will slowly become more advanced given time," Hiblovic said quietly. "An alchemist seeks to accelerate this process. Lead into Gold. Matter into Life. Man into Superman. We want to ascend as well. Only one of us succeeded, I think. The one still standing."
"Mallenbaum?" Jennings asked. "And who were you working for? The contamination of the Alton water supply that was orchestrated by someone."
"Men Geber got involved with, deep within the government. Who also took interest in his work. The water, that was his idea. There are other test sites, other elixirs. But Mallenbaum grew too powerful in the art. Geber wanted out, he didn't want to experiment on innocent people. So, he killed him. They were coming for me next."
"So these men, they killed Geber?" Remy asked.
"You've seen the 'practical' effects of matter transformation, in the wrong hands with Geber. They're eliminating us. All of us, except Mallenbaum. He must have managed to find the secret of transmutation. That's what they wanted," he replied. "To transform the base metals to gold...has severe ramifications."
"What proof do you have?" I asked, not believing his metaphysical ramblings.
"I still have evidence of the experiment, that's what I went back for last night. They grabbed my briefcase when they tried to kill me. They've destroyed most of it when they killed Geber. But I know what I've seen. What we've done," Hiblovic said, eyes darting to the four of us. "You have to stop it. Mallenbaum has gone into hiding. They'll need him alive. He's the only one who can create the transmutations, evolve matter. I can't, neither could the others."
"Do you know where he is?" Mulder asked.
Hiblovic sighed and nodded. "Yes."
Remy breathed a sigh of relief. "Then, tell us and we'll get him."
FBI Field Office in Wilmington
Mallenbaum had gone underground in Wilmington, according to Hiblovic. He had established a secret laboratory to continue working, which was where he'd was hiding out. He had disappeared after Whitten's death.
We headed out immediately, on Hiblovic's urgings. He was willing to work with us on identifying the men responsible for the experiment, although the only one who knew exactly who they were was Geber. Perhaps this was one conspiracy Mulder and I could actually stop.
At the field office, we used Hiblovic's instructions to map out the location of Mallenbaum's lab. Jennings was able to provide directions and we were arranging the details. Skinner was willing to take Mallenbaum into protective custody.
I had a little time, they had given us a couple rooms to work in. I was examining the water samples for myself, Jennings was in the next room working on the computer. I was quietly working, she probably forgot I was here as we waited for the Remy and Mulder to return.
Suddenly, I heard voices in the stillness of the room. I looked up from the microscope and saw movement. I walked a bit closer to the adjourning door, but remained out of sight. I pretended to look for a file, but it was really so I could hear better.
Remy had returned. He sat on the edge of the desk, shaking his head.
"No," Jennings said. "I don't want to talk anymore."
"JLisa," Remy's voice said, filled with sadness. "You don't have to do this."
I looked up for a second, curiosity burning me. His hand reached out to her shoulder, touching her briefly.
"It's too late, Remy," she said, standing up. "It's done now. After we get Mallenbaum, that's it. I'll be leaving on Saturday."
"No waiting around. Of course, you were always the efficient one," he said quietly.
"It's easier this way, please understand. I need a clean break."
I heard him exhale, he shifted beyond my vision. Reappearing to take Lisa by the shoulders, looking her in the eye. Face to face.
"You're my partner, Lisa," he said, the words were spoken reverently.
"Sometimes, that's just not enough," she replied, looking down. Jennings moved away from him.
"Please, stay," Remy said. "I'm asking you, one last time. And then I'll let you go. Lisa, will you please stay on with me?"
She hesitated, their eyes locked on each other. Jennings' lower lip trembled slightly, but she pressed them closed. She drew a deep breath.
"I can't," she replied firmly. "I can't, Remy."
My heart jumped into my throat and I turned around.
"Mulder! You scared me," I replied, face flushing slightly. I shouldn't have been listening...
"I just got a call from Skinner. Where's Remy and Jennings?" he asked, moving around the room like a caged tiger. Edgy.
"Here," Remy called, entering the room with Jennings in tow.
Mulder put his hands on his hips, narrowing his eyes.
"Hiblovic is dead."
"What?" Jennings exclaimed. "How? He was under guard."
Mulder shook his head, visibly disturbed. "What I have is very sketchy, but it appears he was poisoned. There's high levels of mercury in his blood."
I exhaled, closing my eyes for a second. Seeing this case slip through our fingers.
"Without Hiblovic..." Remy started. "Goddamn it."
"We better get Mallenbaum," Jennings said.
We had a van ready and waiting for us to take Mallenbaum to safety. His whereabouts were in a storage facility over in Newark. Space rented out under an assumed name.
Jennings had wired us all up, so we could all communicate. She was staying behind in the van, to monitor us remotely and watch the exterior. We were wearing black, but not FBI issues.
I was checking my gun one last time, as Jennings finished taping Remy's wire.
"Ouch!" he protested loudly as she readjusted the tape, taking off some chest hairs with it.
"Did I get you again?" she asked, amusement in her tone.
"You did it on purpose," Remy said. "You always do that, when you wire me. Don't think I didn't notice..."
Jennings laughed. The first time since I'd met her I heard her laugh. It was a sweet sound, that permeated the air of the van.
"You can be dense, Remy. Not noticing what's in front of you," she said. There was a pen dangling on the side of her mouth, where she was chewing it abstractly as she worked. "I just wanted to see if you were paying attention."
Remy rolled his eyes at the pen.
"Don't chew pens," he said playfully, taking it from her mouth before she moved away. He shook it at her. "One last time, J. DON'T chew pens! C'mon, let's break the habit..."
"I'm trying, Remy," she said, smile fading. "Habits are hard to break."
The van grew silent. No more laughter. Her words meant something else entirely.
"Let's go," Mulder said finally, opening the back of the van and stepping out into the night.
"Remsbecker," Jennings called as he exited the van.
"Yeah, J?" he asked.
"Be careful," she said, studying him for a moment.
We made our way through the storage lot, weaving through barrels and dumpsters and containers. We were spread out, making an inverted triangle as we moved.
"Up ahead," Mulder said, motioning to the building up ahead. It was very dark.
"Look," Remy said through the headset. "Due east...is that a car?"
I was closest, so I shifted positions. Behind crates and barrels there was a car. A dark car.
"Looks like the one from last night," I said to them. "But the windshield's not cracked."
"Plates?" Jennings asked in my ears.
I moved ahead more. "850 XTR. Maryland."
"On it," she replied.
Mulder and Remy were on the entrance already, motioning for me to stay behind and take the rear. Remy took the front position, snaking inwards to the warehouse.
It was almost pitch black inside. According to Hiblovic, he was underneath in the basement. We moved through the warehouse, there was no signs of anyone anywhere. Just dust and crates and barrels.
"What's going on?" Jennings asked softly.
"Nothing yet," Remy replied.
"There's nothing on the plate," she said. "Unknown. Big surprise there."
"Over here," I said, motioning to an open space in the floorboards. There appeared to be a ladder descending the darkness.
Remy and Mulder joined me in seconds.
"Rabbit hole," Mulder mused, looking over at me. "Shall we, Alice?"
"We've found a entrance to the underground," I said, watching as Remy descended.
"You should stay here," Remy said softly, motioning to Mulder. "Watch the surface."
I exchanged glances with Mulder, he winked at me. "Go on. I've got your back."
It wasn't as dark below, Remy helped me down silently. There was strong smell in the air, pungent and offensive.
Up ahead, we moved toward the light source, hearing shuffling and moving. The sounds of breaking glass. Things being shattered. We moved closer.
"They're already here," I breathed.
"I'm coming down," Mulder said almost instantaneously.
"No wait," Remy replied. We moved in tactical fashion around the corner. To Mallenbaum's lab.
There were two men there, one had Mallenbaum down on the table. Gun to his head as he was binding his hands tighter. One was knocking everything to the floor. Beakers, books, papers, everything. Dousing them all with gasoline.
"Three of us, two of them," Remy whispered. "Feeling game?"
"Let's wait until they leave, I don't want to be underground when they ignite it," I replied.
"Mulder, we're coming back up. There's two of them, armed. They've got Mallenbaum. And are about to torch the place."
"Copy," Mulder replied.
Since I was in the back, I hurried back up the corridor. Remy was just behind me. Mulder was waiting for me, pulling me up quickly. We started to move to our positions, strategically placed behind crates and columns. Mulder stood by the hole, waiting.
"Where's Remy?" Mulder asked.
"He was right behind me," I replied, feeling my heart race.
"Remy?" asked Jennings' voice in our ears.
There was a squeal of tires as the dark car shot into the warehouse, smashing glass windows on it's arrival. We dashed in opposite directions, Mulder shifted to the rafters above, to get a clear shot.
After what seemed like an eternity, the men resurfaced one by one. Mallenbaum was second, they threw him to the ground and then dragged him to his feet.
"Let's go," I heard one of them say, hurrying ahead.
The fourth out was Remy, sporting a huge cut on his face.
The driver stepped out of the car, silhouetted from me. He walked over to Mallenbaum.
"Whitten!" Mallenbaum exclaimed, as Whitten ripped the tape from his mouth. "What the hell...you were dead."
"Well, rumors of my death," Whitten said, shaking his head. "You are going to make me a very wealth man, Mallenbaum. Thought you could run, didn't you? It was a pleasure to kill Hiblovic, it'll be even better to kill you."
"You don't have it in you," Mallenbaum sneered. "I do. I have the true knowledge and application. I figured out the elixir, not you."
"You thought you could outsmart me," he said, to Mallenbaum. "But I have all the power I need now. And with your help, I'll be unstoppable.
Remy was quiet, tensing against the man who held him with a gun to his head. Given the right distraction...
"On my count, Scully," Mulder whispered in my headset. "One...two...THREE!"
"Federal Agents! You are surrounded!" Mulder called, as we rose up, our guns drawn.
The men looked around, not able to find Mulder in the darkness, the openness of the room made his voice echo.
Remy lunged forward, wrestling out of his grip. He grabbed Whitten by the shoulders, attempting to get him in a head lock.
Mallenbaum tried to run, but one of the men shot his leg, dropping him to the ground.
"Drop your weapons!" Remy called out, wrestling with Whitten.
"Step away from Mallenbaum," I said, keeping my gun fixed on the men.
Whitten started to laugh, it was a sickening sound.
"How you underestimate me, and what I've learned," he said, directing his comment at Mallenbaum. "Let me show you how I've applied the research of transmutation."
He laid his hands on Remy's arm, the one that was securing his neck. Whitten closed his eyes, mumbling something I did not understand.
I kept my gun trained on them all, but suddenly Remy started to tremble, releasing Whitten. His breathing became very shallow, but he began twitching as if in seizure.
Whitten turned, his eyes cold as he watched Remy fall to the ground, screaming in agony. His hands clawed at his face.
"REMY!" shouted Jennings, in my headset. She'd heard his screams...
Bullets discharged from above, from Mulder's gun. He had a clear shot of Whitten and it hit him in the chest, knocking him back.
But Whitten was still standing. He laughed for a second. "Mere lead?"
Suddenly there was another gunshot, one that blew through the back of his head, spattering blood everywhere. When he dropped forward, Jennings was standing in the distance, her gun smoking.
"Freeze, Federal Agents!" I called, motioning for the remaining two to drop their weapons. Mulder climbed back down, keeping them covered.
"Remy!" Jennings called, running towards him. "What can we do? What can we do?"
I knelt beside him, his skin was turning to copper. Just like Geber. There was nothing, nothing I could do. I tried to keep his airways clear, but it was fusing into his cell structure.
"I don't know how to stop this," I said, looking over at Mulder. "Mallenbaum! Help us!"
I stood up, running over to him. He was trying to stand, holding his hand over the bullet wound.
"Tell me, can we stop this? What did he do?" I demanded.
Mallenbaum looked up at me, shaking his head. "It's too late. Transmutation can't be reversed. Evolution is forward."
Jennings' sobs filled the warehouse. "No Remy, you can't do this to me."
I moved closer to them, feeling completely useless. Mulder was cuffing the two, his eyes darting back and forth from me to Remy. I shook my head slowly, standing over Remy and Jennings. Goddamn it.
"See? I'm going to split us up before you got the chance to," Remy whispered.
"No, you're not," she pleaded. Jennings clutched Remy's shoulders, trying to keep his life from slipping away. "I won't leave you, Remy. Just don't leave me."
"I'm so sorry, Lisa," he said, struggling to breathe. "You were more than just my partner. . ."
"Remy," she said, tears streaming down her face. "Oh God..."
The warehouse grew quiet, in the stillness of death.
Our Redeemer Cemetery
It was raining the day Agent John Remsbecker was buried. It was a formal ceremony, an American flag lay draped over his coffin.
Mulder and I were huddled under one umbrella, amid the crowd of other agents, coworkers, bureau personnel. My right hand was holding the handle, but Mulder's left was surrounding mine. So we could have contact without too much attention. Mulder wore his darkest suit, I wore a simple, straight black dress. We'd hardly spoken. But I knew what he was thinking. I was thinking it, too. I stared at Remy's coffin, at the flag which was drenched in the rain.
It could have been Mulder inside. On any given number of occassion. Or me, so many times I'd lost count. Escaping death had been something we were good at. But then again, I bet Remy thought the same thing.
The priest finished the ceremony. Amid the sobs of grief, the crowd parted to allow Lisa to walk to the forefront, to the podium. Her face was pale, yet composed. Finding the strength to do this for him.
"For those of you who don't know me, I'm Lisa Jennings," she started, her voice beginning to waiver. "Special Agent John Remsbecker and I were...partners."
I felt Mulder's hand grip mine tighter. I looked up at him, exchanging a knowing glance at the meaning of the word.
"Remy took a young, green FBI academy graduate and made her into the best agent he could. He taught me about life. He taught me about faith. He taught me about strength. In all my life, I've never known anyone who could piss me off faster than Remy could," she said, smiling slightly. A tear fell down her face as she gazed at the casket. "And no one who could make me care like he could. In our lives of danger and duty and honor, Remy died doing what he loved the most. He died in the line of fire, while on assignment. The assignment of our last case. Today, I was supposed to be leaving for Portland. I was probably going to be telling Remy good bye, in the middle of Washington National. Wishing him a happy life, a good life..."
Lisa's tears flowed down her face, mixing with the rain.
"Remy...I'm sorry I never told you," she said, looking upwards.
Lisa walked away from the podium. She took something out from her pocket and threw it on the casket. It was a pen.
The rain grew harder, soaking her clothes. But it didn't matter.
"Scully," Mulder whispered, looking down at me.
"I know," I whispered back, returning his gaze.
Words really weren't necessary.
It had continued to rain for the remainder of the day, thunder shook the walls of my apartment. I listened to its patter on the window.
My black dress was thrown haphazardly over the dresser, wrinkled from where Mulder had thrown it a half hour ago. He was dozing lightly, his arm draped over my body as it lay spooned with his.
I shifted, with the intention of getting up. But Mulder's arm held me in place.
"Where are you going?" he murmured.
"To get a glass of water," I said. "Do you want anything?"
"Just you," he replied, lips brushing my skin. "You're feeling guilty, aren't you?"
I turned around, so I was face to face with him. "We did just come from a funeral."
His hand reached across, smoothing my tousled hair out of my face. "It hits too close to home for me too."
I closed my eyes, fighting the urge to cry. I hadn't shed one tear over Remy's death. Not one.
"Tell me what you're thinking," Mulder asked.
"I should be feeling something for him, but I don't. Or for Lisa," I said, looking at him from across the pillow. "All I could think of was how it could have been you. Or me."
"But it wasn't," he said, thumb tracing my lower lip.
"And then all I wanted to do was come back here and. . ." my voice trailed off, feeling more guilt.
"Fuck me?" Mulder asked, a wicked smile on his lips. He said the word playfully. He was trying to lighten up the mood, lighten my spirits.
I couldn't help but smile back, laughing a little.
"C'mon, say it," he coaxed, fingers on my stomach, stroking me.
"I'm not saying that," I replied, trying to stop laughing. But I couldn't. Its sound echoed in the quiet of the room.
"I wanted to fuck you, Mulder," he said, hands delving lower. Tracing the number "49" on my lower abdomen. "I want to hear you say it."
I reached down, stopping his hands from tickling me further. I took a deep breath, my voice barely above a whisper.
"I wanted you, Mulder," I said, in all seriousness. "Because I love you."
He closed his eyes. And we were both quiet for the next few minutes.
"Am I going to hell?" I asked, sliding into his arms. My naked body seeking the warmth of his.
"I'll save you a seat. I've got a one way ticket already," he said, pulling me on top of him. "I love you."
I propped my head up on my elbow, gazing down at him. At those dark hazel eyes, his five o'clock shadow, that little mole on his right cheek.
At least, I knew what it was like to love. Completely. I would never have the regret of what might have been.
And I have the promise of what's yet to come.