Rating is NC-17. You better scoot if you are under 18. Now!
Disclaimer: They aren't any way, shape or form mine. Belong to CC, Fox and 1013.
Dedicated to the real Dan. I hope you find your Lindy someday.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
I fumbled with the door of our office, my arms full of files and reports. I couldn't rotate my wrist around enough to twist the knob, so I kicked the door with my foot instead.
"Mulder!" I called. "Open the door."
My arms ached from the weight, it seemed to take Mulder forever. He flung the door open, immediately grabbing some of the stacks from me. "Hey, Scully. Where have you been all morning?"
"What does it look like, Mulder?" I asked, tone harsher than I expected. "I'm trying to review these reports for Skinner. I decided to bring them down here, since it's going to take all day to sort them out."
"Forget it," he said, taking the last stack from me and slapping it down on my desk. Once my hands were free, he handed me a brochure, grinning from ear to ear. "We've got an X-file."
He was enthusiastic. It was the first time since we'd been reassigned he'd been this enthusiastic. A sign things were finally settling into place for us. Getting back on track.
I looked down at what was in my hand, then back up at Mulder. "What is this?"
"Just look at it, Scully," he said, moving behind me so he could read over my shoulder. His proximity was close enough to feel the warmth of his body against my back, although we weren't actually touching.
The brochure had a plain cream cover, except for a rectangular painting on the front. Below it, were printed the words "Daniel Polzin. April 4th through May 30th. The Randall Gallery, New York." I opened it to find pictures of sculptures and paintings.
I rolled my eyes and exhaled. I held the brochure up, back to Mulder. "I don't have time for this, Mulder. I've got other things to do than look at art."
"You didn't even notice what the sculptures and paintings had in common, did you?" he said, moving around so he was face to face with me. He stared at me accusingly, handing the brochure back to me. I felt my face grow warmer, under his gaze. Guilty as charged.
"I'm sorry, Mulder," I said, gently taking the brochure back. I was feeling stressed and I was taking it out on him. I opened it back up, my eyes studying the work. The sculptures looked industrial to me, tall protrusions of glass and metal, seared together. What caught my eye was the image on the end of one, scored into the metal like an etching. It was a face. I looked at one of the paintings, beyond the tones of gray and blue, was another face. A woman's face. Young, with piercing eyes and short, light hair.
"This may seem obvious, but some of the work has a reoccurring image. This woman," I pointed to her image, shadowed and ghostly on the canvas. "But why is that an X-file?"
"Because Daniel Polzin is being detained for questioning in the disappearance of Lindy Cole." He walked back to his desk and opened a manila file, pulling out a photograph. "She's been missing for five years, presumed dead. She disappeared one night from her dormitory at NYU. Vanished without a trace. They found blood in her abandoned car, with the engine still running. But, Lindy was gone."
"Again, why is that an X-file?" I asked, as he handed me the photograph. I looked at her face. She was young, with piercing eyes and short, light hair. My eyes traveled back and forth from the photograph to the brochure. The images matched perfectly. I looked back at Mulder, understanding what he meant, but still unsure of the paranormal connection.
"Her father, Phillip Cole, is a prominent New York attorney. He attended Polzin's opening last night, and couldn't believe what he saw. There are 20 works in the gallery that bear Lindy's likeness. Needless to say, he contacted the police immediately. Due to his professional reputation, Polzin's agent is trying to keep this as quiet as possible. The show is still up at the gallery."
"What did the artist have to say?" I asked, leaning back on my desk.
Mulder leaned back on his desk and shrugged. "He claims he's never seen Lindy in person before. Only in his dreams and in his work. He's been drawing or sculpting this woman for five years, never knowing who she was."
"Think he has something to do with her disappearance?" I asked, a part of me feeling this case belonged in local jurisdiction. It was just a missing persons case.
"Let's go find out," Mulder said. He smiled gently at me. "New York, Scully. We can be on the plane in two hours."
Mulder's voice could make things sound so inviting, so tempting. I had learned this, far too well.
53rd Precinct New York PD
Daniel Polzin leaned back in his straight back chair, feet propped up on the interrogation table. His hair was shoulder-length and fell around his face like a lion's mane. He needed a shave. His hands were thick and callused, like a construction worker as he drew the cigarette to his lips. He wore thick leather biker boots, faded jeans and a flannel shirt. He brought his chair upright when we walked in the room, crushing his cigarette out. Not what I had pictured him to be. He wiped his hand on his jeans and extended it to Mulder, who shook it reluctantly. Polzin then extended his hand to me.
"I'm Agent Fox Mulder, of the FBI. This is my partner, Agent Dana Scully," Mulder said.
Polzin's hand felt rough against mine. I sat down across from him while Mulder paced the room.
"Maybe you can sort this mess out, they sure as hell can't," Polzin said, gesturing to the police. "I was working on my welding this morning when they came. With questions about my exhibit."
"We'd like to find out why 20 of your gallery pieces have a picture of Lindy Cole on them," I said, opening my satchel and pulling the photograph out. I slid it across the table to Polzin, whose eyes grew soft at her image. He brought a hand to his chin and let out a small laugh.
"Lindy?" he whispered, his finger traced her face.
Mulder stood over him, giving him the benefit of his full height as he stared down. "You sure act like you know her, for someone who claims he doesn't."
Polzin looked across at me. His eyes were a dark blue, yet clear and penetrating. "I do know her, but not the way you think. I've seen her a million times, when I close my eyes. I've seen her, on my canvas. I've seen her, in the forms of my sculptures."
"She's also been missing for the past five years," I said, settling back in the chair. I kept my composure cool and measured, folding my hands on the table.
"Missing?" Polzin asked, surprise in his voice.
"Missing," Mulder repeated. "From NYU. She vanished without a trace on May 24, 1994. According to school records, you were on the campus about that time. Conducting a workshop?"
"Yes, I was" he said. "And I've never met her, Agent Mulder. Not in person. I'd remember if she was there. This face, this face haunts me. Follows me."
"You do have a criminal record," I said frankly, watching his reaction.
"What? For stealing cars as a juvenile? That hardly counts," Polzin replied, reaching for another cigarette. He pushed his sleeves up, revealing several tattoos on his forearms. "You're implying I did something to her, aren't you?"
"You must admit it is rather suspicious that you were at her university when she disappeared. And subsequently, her image appears on your work. Repeatedly," Mulder said, as he walked around the room.
Polzin took another drag on his cigarette and stared at the photograph in front of him. "Up until a few minutes ago, I didn't even know she existed anywhere else except in my dreams. I'd give anything to find her."
"Her father is an attorney here in New York, Mr. Polzin. He certainly believes you have something to do with her disappearance. He's planning a full investigation into your life. If you have anything you'd like to say, I suggest you do it now," I said.
"Have you seen my work?" Polzin asked, looking at me, then at Mulder. "Have either of you seen my work?"
"Only on the gallery brochure," Mulder admitted. "But Philip Cole has."
Polzin leaned back in his chair, shaking his head. "I don't understand this."
I pushed my chair back and stood up. "Thank you, Mr. Polzin."
I walked out of the room, not looking back at Mulder. But I heard his footsteps behind mine. He shut the door and caught my arm, making me turn around.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"To leave this with local authorities, Mulder. There isn't anything here to investigate. It's either a coincidence he draws a girl who looks like Lindy or he's guilty of something. But it's not an X-file," I answered. His let go of my arm and put his hands on his hips.
"He neither confirms or denies it's Lindy Cole. What if it is, that somehow Daniel Polzin has made a connection with her? Through his art?" Mulder pressed.
I stared up at him, challenging him. "What connection, Mulder? If that was possible, how can you verify it? By going on Polzin's word? There is no concrete evidence to even hold him past today. He'll be released. And if Phillip Cole wants to pursue this, he can. Our flight leaves at 6:30 p.m."
I walked down the corridor, leaving Mulder standing there alone.
"Dinner, Scully?" Mulder's voice asked.
"Dinner," I repeated, holding the phone against my ear.
"Can I bring dinner over?" he clarified. He was quiet for a moment, the silence awkward. "Or do you have plans?"
"No, not really," I answered, leaning against the kitchen table.
"Good. See you soon," he said, hanging up the phone.
I hadn't talked much to Mulder in the last day, keeping busy with forensic work. I was avoiding him. Again. We'd always disagreed over work, that hadn't changed. But our relationship had. That gray area between our professional life and our personal life kept growing, no matter how hard I tried to find its boundaries. Recently, he reminded me that off time included lunches, evenings, and time not on assignment. Mulder and I were connected on so many levels. Each more complicated than the other.
I lit a few candles on the dinner table, watching the flames as they flickered and grew. I remembered a game my brother Bill would play as a child. He would run his finger across a candle flame and see how long he could keep it there before getting burned. I reached out, moving my index finger cautiously in the flame, wondering how long it would take for me get burned.
Or would things continue to smolder? Burning hotter and hotter.
The red wine we'd been drinking was only half empty when we finished dinner. I carried it to the living room along with my glass. I pushed the coffee table forward and out of the way, so I could sit on the floor with my back against the couch. Mulder joined me. He filled my glass back up and handed it to me. He filled his as well, and took another long sip. His alcohol tolerance was much higher than mine. I could already feel my insides warming, my head feeling a little lighter. Contented. I would have to drink this glass slowly. I did have to get up early tomorrow.
"So, besides bringing dinner, I did bring something else," Mulder said, carefully watching my reaction. He reached on the end table and pulled down a manila envelope. I took it from him. "It's more of Daniel's work. Gallery flyers, promotional materials and photographs of the past five years. Did you know he sold his last piece to the Corporate Headquarters of Citibank? For $5,000. He was getting into the major leagues, especially with this new show at the Randall."
"Mulder, this is work," I said, holding up the envelope. I narrowed my eyes at him. "I thought we weren't going to talk about this case anymore."
"I know," he said apologetically. "But when I got that envelope, I was amazed at what was inside."
"This is what he wanted us to do, look at his work," I said skeptically.
"We did fly all the way out to New York because of the exhibit. Before you close the door on this one, just have a look at his work. I won't pressure you, form your own opinions," he said. "But humor me, Scully."
I looked at him warily and opened the envelope, pulling out stacks of paper and photos. I spread them out on the floor and rolled onto my side, stretching out. I propped my head up on my hand and fanned the papers. Mulder shifted so he was spooning me, his head just above mine so he could see.
Some cards had dates on them and I tried to arrange them chronologically. Before Lindy's disappearance, his work was much more abstract and not as concise. I pointed to one painting, the image of a car splintered in the reflection of shattered glass. It startled me.
"Do you know what car Lindy had?" I asked, knowing the answer to the question.
"A Miata," Mulder replied. I felt his lips nuzzle my ear. "White."
"A small, circular car," I said, picking up the card to show him. "Like this."
"That's what I thought as well," he said..
I felt a heaviness in my gut. I suspected Polzin was guilty of something.
Her image started to surface in the summer of 1994. The first ones were gray and monotoned, with her form appearing in the background of the buildings and shapes. So many of the paintings seemed to represent places in New York. Streets, buildings, the harbor. There was an overwhelming sense of melancholy to them all, her figure only strengthened that. Often posed somewhere, her image always stared directly out, engaging the viewer.
"His work is amazing," I said quietly. I wasn't prepared for such skill and talent from the man I'd met the other day. But appearances were deceptive. His sculptures were equally as commanding, often constructed with metals and glass. Some were quite large.
I kept moving the pictures about, lining them up. Mulder settled against me, his lips brushed my shoulder, trying to distract me. But I kept looking for her image in all the pieces. Very few were without her. She appeared in degrees. Sometimes it was very apparent; in others, you had to search for her. One piece was so different, I held it closer to study it.
It was a dark room, with a well lit window in the background, no furnishings except a bed. Her form sat on the bed, with her legs folded up under her, tangled in the sheets. She was naked.
"And you get on me about looking at pornography," Mulder whispered, his breath against my ear.
"This isn't pornography, Mulder. It's art." I said firmly. Her image was so striking. "But there is something else going on here. It's more than a figure study. It's almost..."
"Intimate," Mulder finished. His hands pulled my shirt free from my jeans, touching my stomach and back, rubbing gently.
"Not sexual, more than that," I said. The brush strokes were so fine and delicate, they made her skin appear translucent. It almost glowed off the canvas. Her hair was tousled, and her eyes gazed back with heavy lidded expression. Sensual and captivating. I noticed there appeared to be a birthmark of some kind on her right thigh. I made a mental note to check it against Lindy Cole's records.
"It's almost like he loves her," Mulder said. I moaned softly as he touched the sensitive skin on the base of my spine. "Like making love visually."
"But he claims he never met her," I replied, setting the card down away from the others. I continued to line them up chronologically.
"He said he never physically met her," Mulder said, enunciating the "physically." His hand worked along my spine. "Yet, he does seem emotionally involved with her. His work is all about her."
"How can you love someone you've never met?" I said, shifting over on my back so I was looking up at Mulder. "Assuming this is Lindy."
"That's what I'd like to find out," he said. His fingers were on my stomach again, this time delving lower. He unfastened the top button on my jeans.
I don't know if it was the wine or Mulder's touch, but I felt warm and relaxed. I should be angry with him, angry for bringing work over. For trying to change my mind about the case. For doing what he accused me of, intruding work on our personal time. I stared up at him, into his eyes, seeing my reflection in them and feeling the gray area widen even farther. But we were at home, away from the office. Different setting. Different circumstances.
I reached up, lacing my fingers in his hair. I drew his mouth to mine. We kissed passionately, our tongues exploring.
"Scully," he breathed, pulling back to look at me. "Are you drunk?"
"What's the matter, Mulder?" I smiled, pulling his shirt free as well. "Afraid I'll take advantage of you?"
"It's a weeknight," he said, hesitating. "Normally, you don't want me touching you during the week."
"I'm not working right now," I said, more to myself than to him.
Mulder leaned in, and kissed my mouth again. He reached down and unzipped my jeans. Then he kissed my chin, my neck and worked his way lower, exposing my stomach. He unbuttoned my sweater. I reached down for the edge of his shirt and pulled it over his head.
We kissed repeatedly, while we removed clothes. I took a final sip of the wine, finishing it off. His hands explored my body, touching me everywhere. One of Mulder's talents.
Inadvertently, we had shifted so I was partially over the cards and photographs. The papers were against my skin, sticking to me. Mulder had been kissing me hard, over and over. I felt the scrape of his stubble on my chin. I tried to shift positions, but he kept me from rotating.
"Mulder," I breathed, breaking a kiss. "Let me be on top."
Mulder shook his head, and his lips found my left nipple. His tongue swirled around the tip, carefully taking in between his teeth. I ran my fingers through his hair, pulling gently.
He moved my legs apart with his knee. I felt my own wetness, growing warmer in anticipation. I bent my knees, allowing him better access. Mulder eased between my thighs. He pressed against the opening of my sex, testing me. Just before he thrust inward, I scooted forward. Mulder groaned into my shoulder.
"Scully," he said, moving so we were nose to nose. He adjusted his hips so he was poised against me again. "That wasn't very nice."
"I said, I want to be on top," I repeated, scooting forward again, so he couldn't enter me. I bit my lip, I could hold out some more. I wasn't sure if he could.
Mulder laughed, sliding his arms around and under me. He held me tightly, then rolled us both over so I was on top. I smiled down at him, satisfied I had gotten my way. I started to readjust myself, straddling his hips. I pressed into his erection. Mulder closed his eyes and exhaled.
"You are very demanding, Agent Scully. Do you have control issues with me?" he asked, bucking his hips into mine.
"Maybe I just like being on top," I replied. I leaned down against him, rubbing my breasts on his chest. His hands slid up my buttocks, my back. I kissed him, running my tongue along his lower lip.
"Really? So do I," Mulder replied. He pulled me against him and suddenly rolled me over. I felt the cards and photographs against my bare skin again. Mulder laughed gently, I couldn't shift fast enough. He entered me slowly, allowing my muscles to relax around him.
"Had you there, Scully."
He thrust into me, causing endorphins to race through my system. I pressed my hips into his, moving in time with him. We fell into a rhythmic pattern, creating a sweet friction between us that only increased with every thrust.
I could feel the cards, they made crinkling noises at my ears as we made love. I hoped Mulder didn't have to give them back. I smiled at that thought, and looked up at him. He was still holding me, his elbows underneath my arms. I forgot everything except the moment. Anticipating the building climax within me. I turned my eyes to Mulder, that deep concentration reserved for this moment was there. I gripped his shoulders, strong and smooth as he supported himself.
"Mulder," I moaned softly. Over and over.
I dug my nails into his skin, bracing myself as my insides released waves and waves of pleasure through my core. I lifted my head to kiss him hard, feeling overwhelmed. He kissed me back, his tongue against mine. My body relaxed around him as he continued to thrust harder.
"I love you," he whispered between breaths. He closed his eyes as he pushed into me one final time, holding his position. A look of extreme pleasure was on his face. He fell against me, collapsing in my arms, holding me tightly. Minutes passed as we lay there, not moving. Mulder's head was tucked under my chin. I stared at the ceiling, thinking about how he'd have to leave soon. We had work the next day. But at the moment, we weren't accountable to anyone else but ourselves.
I spend the entire flight into New York reviewing everything we had on Lindy Cole. From her missing persons file to her school records to photographs provided by her family. There was just enough evidence in the paintings that did not point to mere coincidence.
We ended up in an older section of town, with tall office buildings long since abandoned. Some of the area was being rehabbed. His address took us to an old factory which was also being leased. I followed Mulder into through the doors. It was dark and musty, but clean.
"What floor is he on?" I asked, looking around for stairs.
"Fifth," Mulder answered, walking down the hall. "Here, Scully."
I joined him as he motioned to an old freight elevator. The gears above were exposed.
"It's an artist's loft, Scully. What did you expect?" Mulder asked, extending his hand to allow me to step on the elevator first. It creaked under our combined weight. He hit the button marked five. The gears hummed and churned and with a shake, we ascended to the top. I held onto the side, Mulder just grinned at me.
"Afraid you'll get stuck in the elevator with me?" Mulder asked, amusement in his eyes. His gaze shifted down my body and back up again. I knew what he was thinking.
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" I replied, holding my ground.
Mulder's hand was near mine on the railing. He extended his finger out, touching me very briefly. "Wouldn't you?"
I could feel my face starting to flush when the elevator came to an abrupt halt, shaking us both. I hurried out, making my way down the hallway. It was clean, but old. I could hear the screech of metal on metal behind the door to Polzin's loft. I knocked loudly.
"Mr. Polzin!" I called, but still the sound continued. "Mr. Polzin!"
Mulder pounded on the door with his fist. "FBI, Mr. Polzin! Please open the door."
There was no answer, so Mulder tried the knob. It was unlocked. He pushed the door open, revealing a very large room with tall ceilings and long glass windows that poured light in. You could tell it had been a factory at one point, but it was gutted out. Huge sculptures in various stages of completion stood along the wall. The room smelled of oil paints and turpentine. I was careful where I stepped, scraps of metal and wood shavings lined the concrete floor. There was various saws and machinery everywhere, benches full of tools. Even a kiln off to the side.
"Not what I expected," I muttered to myself. There was a motorcycle parked in the middle of the room.
Mulder walked in the direction of the sound, around a wall made up of shelves and materials. Polzin was welding a sculpture, he had on a face shield and thick gloves. It was tall, almost 12 feet or more. It curved, spiraled downward almost like a tree. On the "branches," small planes of glass were fused. In the sunlight from the windows, the glass caught the light, refracting it. It wasn't until I looked on the ground that I realized they were prisms. The floor was covered in small rainbows. It was beautiful.
Polzin stepped back from the sculpture when he realized we were there. He turned off the blow torch and flipped up his shield. Sweat beaded down his forehead and he wiped it away with the back of his glove.
"Shouldn't you have a warrant or something?" Polzin asked, looking at us both.
"We reviewed your work," Mulder said, pulling a folded manila envelope from his trench pocket.
It was the cards. I suppressed the memory of what we were doing the last time I'd seen them. Mulder looked over at me, I swear there was a smile playing on the corner of his mouth. Thinking the same thing I was.
"And we've come to ask you a few questions," Mulder continued.
"Fire away, " Polzin removed his mask and set his torch down. "No pun intended."
He carefully stripped out of the leather coverall he was wearing as well. There was a long worktable off to the side, he cleared one end off and motioned to some stools nearby. He took out a cigarette and reached for an ashtray.
Mulder removed the cards and photographs. He had grouped them by date and separated the first section.
"Tell me about these pieces," Mulder asked, spreading them out and folding his hands. He had chosen works before Lindy's disappearance and the rest were the summer after.
Polzin fingered the cards briefly. "I had just finished my teaching stunt in Seattle, after completing my M.A. These pieces were shown in a small gallery out here in New York. One of my former mentors was teaching at NYU and invited me to come out and conduct a workshop. That trip changed my life."
Mulder pointed to a specific card. "What about this one?"
It was the painting with the Miata.
Polzin sat up on the stool and glanced over at Mulder. "I painted that in Seattle."
"After your trip. It's dated after your trip," Mulder said, staring back at him. He turned the card over. "Splintered, June 1994."
"Yes," he answered, coughing into his hand. He cleared his throat. "I was trying to capture some of the chaos of the city streets. Speeding cars."
"Do you know what car Lindy Cole was driving the night she disappeared?" I asked directly.
Polzin shook his head slowly.
"White Miata," I said, seeing what effect the words had on him.
"Shit," he replied, covering his mouth. He grew a little pale, looking almost worried. Or was it nervousness? "I was still in Seattle when I painted this, I didn't read any newspapers either."
"We aren't accusing you," Mulder assured him, although something wasn't right.
"When exactly did you start seeing her?" I asked.
"Right after I got back to Seattle. I started dreaming of New York, places I'd never been. But I knew they were here. They were strange images at first, shapes and colors. But eventually, they found their way to my canvases. I kept seeing her in these landscapes. Walking down the street, looking in windows, everywhere. Out of the sea of faceless people, I kept seeing her face. I thought if I could only paint that face, put it down on the canvas, that would be it. But it wasn't," Polzin coughed again into his hand, but took another drag on the cigarette.
"So, you continued having these dreams?" Mulder pressed.
"Sporadically, but they are more than just a dream. They seem real and I remember so much detail. I keep a sketchbook handy at all times, just to get it down," Polzin said, quietly. He looked at me, tilting his head to one side. "You don't believe me, do you?"
"What made you move to New York?" I asked, avoiding his question.
"I sold three paintings here. I wasn't getting anywhere in Seattle."
Mulder held up the card, the one I'd been so captivate with. "This one. What were you dreaming about here?"
Polzin took it from him and closed his eyes, looking a little embarassed.
"I kept seeing this room, it's dark and dingy and cold. Outside the window, there's a water. Could be the harbor, I'm not sure. I hear my name, and I turn around. She's waiting there. Waiting for me to paint her, paint her beauty in the darkness of that room. She doesn't belong there," he said, shaking his head.
"So, this is what you saw in your dream?" I asked, pointing at her naked figure. "Every detail from your dream?"
Polzin nodded and stepped off the stool, flicking more ashes on the floor of the studio.
"Including this?" I indicated the dark birthmark on her right thigh.
Polzin nodded again.
I reached in my satchel for the case file and grabbed a photograph of Lindy. I laid the picture down on the table. "Is this or is this not the same mark?"
He took a few steps backwards, I could swear his breathing was shallow.
"I have never met her, whatever the hell that's worth," he said, pacing nervously. "I don't know what this means."
"It'll will be enough for the police and Philip Cole when they make the connection," I said.
"You haven't told them?" Polzin asked, hands braced on the table.
"No," Mulder answered. "Not yet."
"Are you going to turn me in?" Polzin asked, sitting back down. "They'll figure it out, just like you did. The birthmark, the car. I know it doesn't look good, but I swear I've never met her."
"What doesn't make sense to me is if you did have something to do with her disappearance, why you would make her the subject of your work? For five years? Display her in public for all to see," Mulder said. He paused for effect. "I think there is another reason you paint her."
"There is a reason. Before, my work had no meaning, no cohesion. She gave my work life and a purpose. Honestly, I don't think I would have been able to continue making my living as an artist if I hadn't started painting her. I owe everything to her, all my success. Everyone wonders who she is. It's an artistic enigma to people, and it's always been an enigma to me," he said, pressing his hand to his temple. "It never occurred to me that she could be real."
"You told me the other day, these places were from dreams, your subconscious. What if it's Lindy's life you're seeing?" Mulder said. "Maybe we don't know where she is right now, but I have a feeling she's very much alive. Somewhere. The key is in your art. If we can find these places, perhaps we can find out where she is."
"Mulder," I said, glaring at him across the table. He hadn't discussed this with me. "Can I have a word with you?"
"Excuse me," he said to Polzin, following me as I walked to the far corner of the studio.
I turned to face him, whispering as calmly as I could. "Mulder, this man is guilty of something. Did you see his reaction to the birthmark?"
Mulder put his hands on his hips, looking down at me. "Yes, I did. He was just as surprised as we were that it matched."
I shook my head, disagreeing with him. "And the Miata? I don't think he was surprised about that. He knows something, Mulder. We should call the authorities right now and let them know what we've found."
"Scully, what we haven't found is Lindy Cole. If we get them involved at this point, they'll just throw him into custody again. Possible ruining his reputation as an artist. This man worked hard to get where he is. If we want to find her, the key is Polzin. And his art. We need him to find these places," Mulder said, his voice steady and measured.
I folded my arms and stared up at him. I knew Mulder wasn't going to let this go. I could tell in his voice, his posture, his convictions. Polzin was innocent in his eyes, yet was somehow connected to Lindy on some other level. I took a deep breath, glancing back at Polzin.
"So, what do we do with him?" I asked.
"We take him along for the ride. Keep an eye on him. Although, I suspect he wants to find Lindy as much as we do."
"I'm sure he does. If she's alive, he's off the hook," I replied, narrowing my eyes at Polzin.
FBI Field Office New York
Polzin told his publicist he was going out of town for the weekend. There was no restrictions on him at the present time. He packed up a few items, including several sketchbooks to bring with him. We were at the field office in New York, using their resources and computers. We scanned in several images, from the least abstract of his work, trying to find some sense of locale. He was very cooperative, explaining his work as best as he could.
"One of the reoccurring images is this restaurant," I said, scanning the card in. "What do you know about it?"
"The Cafe Series," Polzin said, watching the computer. He was bouncing his knee nervously, I suspected it was the lack of nicotine. The building was nonsmoking. "That was in 1998. It's outdoors, with tables and booth. All walks of life there, that was their appeal. Businessmen and bums in the same place."
"She's a customer?" I asked, looking at one painting where she sat at the table. Forlorn.
"She's an observer," he corrected. "It's all about identities. What makes a businessman? Salesman? Postal worker? Cashier? Hooker?"
I grinned at the last one, he said it like Mulder would.
"But," Polzin held up a sheet of slides, looking for something. "I had her as a waitress for a bit. Taking orders. Look."
I leaned in closer to Polzin to study the slide. The Lindy figure was dressed like a waitress, but she looked at the viewer, expecting an order. Forlorn.
"It's called Today's Not Special," he said.
"I think we can scan the slide," I said, motioning to another agent. "Can you scan these in?"
She nodded. I stood up, letting her take my place. Mulder walked in the room, carrying two of Polzin's sketchbooks. I met him halfway.
"Looking at more dirty pictures?" Mulder whispered, grinning at me.
I glared at him. "What have you been up to?"
"I took these down to psychology, to have them analyzed for symbolism," he said, holding up the books. "How's Polzin?"
"He's very serious about his work," I said, looking over my shoulder at him.
"Any luck with the paintings?"
"Not yet, but we are going to run them through a few applications. Try to find the similarities. Conveniently, he can't recall anything specific."
"And here I thought you were changing your mind about him," he said.
"Not yet," I replied. "I'd like to give him a polygraph."
"It would have to be voluntary at this point," Mulder said. "We don't have a motive, evidence or an admittance of guilt."
"He's being so cooperative. I find that suspicious. Almost like, there's something he has to gain in all this as well," I said.
Mulder looked over at Polzin. "Maybe he does."
Psychology got Polzin for the afternoon, questioning him and probing further. An analytical team worked on the paintings. They concentrated on the configuration of the streets in his work, trying to match it up with known guides. It took several paintings to create an intersection, a grid. The buildings and shapes helped establish geography.
Mulder sat next to the analyst, Agent Peters, watching him superimpose the map created with actual streets and possible matches in the New York area, along the Hudson River. Water seemed to be an important element as well, and Peters narrowed it down to that particular river.
"This one," Peters said, moving the cursor around and enlarging. "Has an 65% match, the highest so far."
"Where is it?" I asked. I was standing behind Mulder, watching over his shoulder.
"Looks like Poughkeepsie. It's north of here. Let me get a better view," he said, changing the CD rom out.
"Agent Scully?" asked a voice behind me.
"Yes?" I turned to face one of the agents in psychology.
"We should have some results back tomorrow morning, on his psyche profile," she said, handing me a file.
"What are your initial thoughts?" I asked.
"He has a compulsion to paint this woman. Over and over again. If we knew for a fact he was in contact with her, if she was an actual model, it wouldn't be unusual. Many artists paint the same figure study repeatedly," she started, then paused.
"But," I said, anticipating more.
"But, by his own admission, he says it's a subconscious image and feeling. Something that manifests itself into his paintings," she continued.
"Subconscious," Mulder repeated, looking up at me. He turned his attention to our conversation.
"Which means any number of things. He could be delusional. His mind is creating a persona. Or, it's something repressed, revealing itself through the subconscious so he doesn't have to deal with it consciously," she finished.
"Would it necessarily have to be his subconscious?" Mulder asked, emphasizing "his."
She stared at him. "I'm not sure what you are asking, Agent Mulder. The subconscious is where the human mind can deal with events and even trauma, making things logical and enabling us to cope when we are conscious."
"You'll have the results in the morning?" I asked, changing the subject to something more tangible.
"Yes, we will forward them. Where are you staying?"
"Poughkeepsie," Mulder chimed in, grinning at me. "Or, we will be."
Poughkeepsie, New York
"In all fairness to Polzin, he is an intelligent, educated introvert," I said, thumbing through the results. I smiled up at Mulder, who was standing close to me. "Kind of like someone else I know."
"Flattery, Scully," he whispered, low and sexy. "Will get you everywhere with me."
I felt my face warm at his overt comment. I took a step backwards, creating some distance between us. We were in the business center of the hotel, where the courier package arrived.
"It says he's extremely creative, but has trouble dealing with authority," I said, reading further. "But is dedicated and self-motivated. Are you sure these aren't your results?"
"No mention of pornographic tendencies and a fixation on redheads?" he asked, grinning.
I shook my head.
"Then, it's not me," he replied.
"This is interesting. Subject has trouble seeing the reality around him. Chooses to see life in symbols, shapes and metaphors."
"Right brain creativity. He searches for the higher meaning," Mulder added. "What's the other envelope?"
I handed it to him. Mulder tore it open and pulled out a spiral bound book and papers.
"It's from Agent Peters. It's our map. That cafe he paints? It says here it may be a restaurant called Paradiso. The location is the closest match," Mulder said, looking up at me. "I'll get Polzin."
Mulder hadn't even stopped the car when Polzin jumped out of the back seat, walking to the cafe.
"Anxious," I said, grabbing my satchel as I got out.
It was April, and warm for New York. People were sitting outside as we approached the cafe. It sat back away from the river, but you could see the water in the distance. Just like his paintings. Although abstracted to some degree, the basic shapes were the same, the awning, the round bistro tables.
"Close enough for me," Mulder said, holding the door open so I could enter.
"Not if he's been here before," I said, glaring back out the window at Polzin. He was walking the perimeter of the building, studying it. "What if all this is an act?"
"Hello," Mulder said to the waitress. He showed her his badge quickly. "I'm Special Agent Mulder of the FBI. Is the manager here?"
"Yeah, lemme get him," she said, looking a little nervous.
She returned with a short man, in his late forties. He looked at us, confusion on his face. "Can I help you?"
"I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder, and this is my partner Dana Scully. Can we have a word with you?"
The man nodded. "Sure, I'm Frank Lipman, the owner. Is something the matter?"
"We just want to ask you a couple questions about a case we are working on," Mulder started, as he guided us over to a table.
"Anything I can do," Lipman said, wiping his hands on his apron front. "I run a clean establishment here."
I reached in my satchel for the file. "We are working on a missing persons case and have reason to believe you might be able to help us."
"I see hundreds of people in my restaurant. Is it one of my regulars?" he asked.
Mulder kept his eyes on Polzin, through the window. He had sat down at a table, he was pale and expressionless.
"Maybe. Have you seen this woman?" I asked, handing him Lindy's picture.
He studied it, then looked up at me. "Yeah. I know her. I haven't seen her in a year."
I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. "Does she have a name?"
"Sarah Wilson. She would come by the restaurant, and sit outside for hours. Never ordering anything more than a cup of coffee. She'd sit and just watch the customers. For hours," he said, shaking his head.
"Observing," Mulder commented, glaring over at me.
"The girl wasn't all there," Lipman said. "I tried to help her out, she had lost her job and needed money. Sarah waitressed for me for a bit."
"Do you have any records? W-2 forms? Payroll?" Mulder asked.
Lipman was quiet for a while. "I told you, I tried to help her out. I paid her in cash, she worked mostly for tips. You aren't going to have the IRS on me, are you?"
"Is there anything you can provide? Address? Phone number?" I asked, pressing him for more.
"I can look in the back, it was a while ago. One day, she just stopped coming," he replied. "I had wondered where she'd gone. I was hoping she went home. She didn't belong here, in the city."
Polzin's words echoed in my head. She doesn't belong here.
Mulder grabbed Lipman by the arm, pointing out the window at Polzin. "See that man? With the leather jacket? Have you ever seen him before?"
Lipman shook his head. "No, never."
"Take another look," Mulder repeated. "You've never seen him with Sarah Wilson?"
"No, she was always alone. A shame. She was a very nice girl, just distant." he said, sliding out of his seat. "Let me see what I can find."
Mulder waited until Lipman was gone before he turned his attention to me. "Hear that, Scully? Never seen him before. I think he'd remember a chain smoker with long hair and a sketchbook, don't you?"
"What is he doing?" I asked, leaning close to Mulder to look out the window. Polzin was standing up, holding something in his hand. Not moving. "Wait here."
I left the restaurant and approached Polzin. He was standing out on the patio, among the tables. The wind blew his dark blonde hair into his eyes, his face. But he kept staring down.
"It was here," he said, eyes looking up. Looking past me.
I look the card from him. It was the painting, Today's Not Special. Minus Lindy and more abstract, it was the same awning, door, signs and tables. As if he was standing in the exact spot to paint them all..
"Frank Lipman was able to provide us with an address for Sarah Wilson. It was a low-rent apartment building a few blocks down from the cafe. The landlord was also able to identify Sarah Wilson as Lindy Cole. We are currently investigating postal records, to see if there is a forwarding address. We hope to have more information tomorrow. Polzin is still cooperative, but after seeing the cafe, has grown distant and aloof," I typed into my laptop.
I heard a knock at the door. Setting my glasses down on the table, I moved to the door.
"Who is it?" I asked suspiciously. It was past midnight already.
"Mulder," he said through the door.
I slid the chain back and opened it, letting him in. "What are you doing here? Where's Polzin?"
"Sleeping," he said, shutting the door behind him. "I needed some fresh air. You know how much I love cigarette smokers."
I laughed at his joke. "At least he doesn't smoke Morleys."
Mulder smiled, his expression softened. "Getting ready for bed?"
"I was working on my report," I said. He was staring at me. I folded my arms, feeling self conscious. "What?"
"Are you wearing anything under that robe?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
The room grew silent. I could feel his gaze on me, up and down. Measured and analytical. It was dark. I only had one light on, by the laptop.
I nodded at him, not finding my voice.
"What are you wearing? Exactly?" he continued, a dark smile across his lips.
I moved back from him, against the dresser. Maintaining distance.
"Let me guess. You're wearing just your panties. Those soft, cotton ones. Not the small, lacy ones you wear on the weekend," Mulder said, thoughtfully. "I'm right, aren't I?"
I licked my lips and pressed them together, finding my voice. "Mulder, what are you doing?"
"Analyzing the situation. Seeing what my obstacles are," he replied, coming closer.
"You should be keeping an eye on Polzin," I said, trying to make him focus on something else.
"He's fine," Mulder said. "I was just thinking...its Saturday already. What we normally do on Friday nights. And Saturday night, if we're home."
I was against the dresser already. Mulder reached for me, his hands underneath my arms. He set me up on the dresser. It made our hips level.
"Come here," he whispered, his mouth descending on mine.
I fought the instant reaction to push him away. We were still on assignment. We were in my FBI sanctioned hotel room.
We were off the clock.
Mulder's lips coaxed mine into a deep, hard kiss. My heart was pounding.
"I have never made love in New York," he breathed against my mouth. "Please, Scully."
His hands were on my knees, gently moving them apart. It caused my robe to open in the front. He grabbed my legs and scooted me forward, so he could press himself against me. Against the thin cotton of my panties. I felt the growing wetness there, my body reacting to him instinctually. Warmth flooded me, burning me inside. Aching.
"I knew it. White cotton," he said, looking down.
"Mulder," I breathed, clutching his lapels. "I can't..."
"Yes, you can," he replied, stroking me gently through the cotton. "I love you, Scully. This is no different than when we made love in your apartment the other night. We just aren't home. But it's late, after hours. Neither one of us is on payroll right now."
"We are on assignment," I whispered. "If we cross this line..."
"We've already crossed it, Scully. Thirty-two times," he said, running his hands down my legs.
I stared at him. He'd been counting?
"Eidetic memory. I can't help it," he replied, answering my unspoken question.
Mulder's mouth descended on mine, kissing me again. His fingers played on the knot of my robe, trying to untie it. I wanted him. But something inside me kept holding me back. We had managed all this time not to do this while on a case. It felt safer at home. Not as dangerous. We continued to kiss, over and over. It was becoming harder to think. I felt the adrenaline rush through my body. I was going to have to decide.
"Mulder," I said, holding his head back. "Slow down."
"Do you want me to go slower? Or do you want me to go down?" he asked, his eyes dark and lustful.
I was on fire, every nerve of my body was tensed and ready for him. I caught my breath, grasping his shoulders to steady myself. My eyes met his, pleading to understand.
"Scully," he said, breaking the awkward silence. Mulder's hands touched my face gently, on either side. "I'll stop. I'm sorry."
"I just can't. Not here," I said, leaning into his arms. Despite my words, I felt drawn to him, a gravitational pull unwilling to release me.
"It would be...unprofessional," he said, resting his forehead against mine. He exhaled slowly, releasing tension in his breath.
"I can't let a moment of weakness destroy that," I whispered. "We've come so far."
"Tell me you want me, Scully," Mulder said, untying my robe. He folded it shut again, and retied the knot gently. Correcting the violation. "Just tell me you want me."
"I want you, Mulder," I said, my voice deep and husky.
He licked his lower lip, thinking the same illicit thoughts I was. "I can wait for thirty-three."
My body still hummed with energy. I was certain his did too. I slid off the dresser. Mulder took a few steps backwards, creating a safe distance between us again.
"You better go," I said, images still swirled in my head. "Before I change my mind."
"Night Scully," he whispered, turning away.
I watched him leave, locking the door behind him. I leaned back on the door, closing my eyes.
Burning hotter and hotter.
Athens, New York
I had missed church today. Funny how guilt pervades the mind. I know there wasn't any time for me to stop and attend mass. Where would I even be able to? In this dark city far away from home. But I felt guilty just the same. Maybe for what almost happened last night and not missing Sunday services. I touched my cross pendant, apologizing to God. Years of that Catholic conditioning, Mulder would say.
There was a forwarding address for Sarah Wilson, in Athens, New York. It was as current as three months ago, since forwarding is generally only valid for six months. We drove up Highway 9G, through Hyde Park, Annandale, Bristol Beach. All along the Hudson. I noticed Polzin leaning out the window, eyes glued. Every time we neared the water, he would grow attentive and stare.
"What are you looking at?" Mulder asked, peering at the rear view mirror.
"The bridges," Polzin replied, obviously distracted.
"Your latest show has paintings featuring a bridge," Mulder commented. "I remember them on the flyer. They were disturbing."
"Yeah," Polzin replied. "I kept seeing a view from bridge. Facing east, where the sun comes up. With scaffolding. I don't know what bridge."
"When was the last time you'd seen her?" Mulder asked. "I know you keep saying you have images and dreams."
"I don't know. It's been a while. Before the gallery show. It's funny, but since this whole mess started, that's the one thing I've been unable to do. I can't see her. I keep waiting to close my eyes and find her standing there. But nothing. I dream of nothing. Likewise, haven't been able to draw a damn thing."
We neared the apartment building. Again, it was low rent area. We found the manager, who took a long look at Lindy's photograph.
"Oh, I know here all right. That's Sarah Wilson. Have you come to pay her rent? She's owes me three months. I finally had to evict her two weeks ago. She kept promising and promising she'd pay me. I didn't have a choice," he said, handing the picture back to me. "She's not in any trouble?"
"Why would you say that?" I asked.
"She was very reclusive. Kept to herself. I always felt like she might be hiding out, or running from something," he replied, motioning for us to follow him. "I have a box of some of her things, things she left in the apartment."
"Can we look through them?" Mulder asked hopefully.
"Sure," he said. He disappeared back into the office closet, bringing out a small box and slamming it down. "She's owes me $750, in case you want to do settle that."
"Gotta love that New York attitude," Mulder muttered as he turned away.
There wasn't much in the box. A few items of clothing, a book, some utensils, toothpaste. Mulder rummaged around in it, Polzin and I on either side looking in.
"Wait," Polzin said, his eyes catching something on the bottom. He reached in the box, pulling the clothing out of the way. He grabbed for a string.
Polzin held up what looked to be wind chimes, but they weren't. Small, square pieces of glass were strung together, in varying lengths. There was a hook on the top, where it might be hung. My mom had something similar in her kitchen, it was a sun catcher. He carefully unraveled the string, letting each of the small squares dangle free. He walked over the open window and held it up into the sun. A spattering of rainbows fell across his face, on the floor around. Prisms. Just like his sculpture the other day.
"I think we better search the area," Mulder said. "Talk to the residents, see if anyone knows where she went. Hopefully, she hasn't gotten far."
Polzin was little help all afternoon. We mostly left him in the car, or outside where he could smoke. He kept looking at his sketchbooks, over and over. I suspected he was trying to find things that pertained to Athens, but he wouldn't say. Ever since he found the sun catcher, he had gotten even more aloof.
Mulder had some success with a next door neighbor, who remembered the night Sarah Wilson skipped out. She hadn't had much with her, just a couple suitcase. The apartments were moderately furnished with the bare essentials, so she didn't have any furniture to take. She had said she was going to visit a friend, a boyfriend. I wondered if she meant Polzin, but then shook the thought of my head. I was beginning to think like Mulder. That these two had some special connection beyond the physical realm. But that just wasn't enough for me, there had to be a reason for it all. Beyond coincidence.
On the drive back to the hotel, the three of us barely spoke. Polzin kept looking out the window, watching the water again.
Mulder stopped the car at the hotel, getting out. Polzin followed, jumping out quickly. He reached in his pocket for his cigarettes and lit up before going inside.
"Tomorrow morning, I'm going to have to tell the police what we've found," Mulder said, standing outside with Polzin. I got out of the car, staying on the other side.
"This is a nice bike," Polzin commented, touching a Harley Davidson parked next to the rental car. "I've been thinking about getting a new one."
"Did you hear me?" Mulder said, his voice escalating. "Philip Cole has to be notified. That his daughter is still alive. I have several witnesses now that confirm that."
"I heard you the first time," he said, admiring the wheels. "I know what it means for me."
"If you know anything, anything at all," I said, watching him with narrowed eyes. "It will be better for you to say it before."
"Do you have any other clues we can go on?" Mulder asked. "It's like she's disappeared again. The trail ends here."
Polzin leaned against the bike, finishing out his cigarette. "She does this to me. I lose contact with her for a while, but she eventually comes back. This time it makes me...uneasy."
"Uneasy?" I asked, wanting clarification.
"Yeah," Polzin said, dropping the cigarette and crushing it under his boot. "Because I'm afraid...she's not coming back."
"How do you know that?" Mulder pressed. "Unless you know something has happened to her."
"I don't know. Just a feeling," Polzin said, staring off into the distance. "And I hope I'm wrong."
I found Mulder and Polzin in the hotel bar. It was one of the only places Polzin could smoke. There was a three piece band playing in the background. Mulder was throwing darts while Polzin sat at the bar, he was either writing or drawing.
"Hey, wanna play?" he asked, as I approached. "I already kicked Polzin's ass."
"I came to relieve you," I said. "Figured you needed a break."
Mulder threw his last dart. "Thanks, Scully. I won't be long. I want to check my e-mail and make a few calls."
"This time of night?" I asked.
"Hey, 976 numbers are good 24 hours a day," he replied, grinning at me. "I'll only be a few minutes."
"Take your time," I said. I crossed my arms and walked over to Polzin. He was drinking what appeared to be coffee, his ashtray was already half full.
"Coffee? I could use a cup myself," I said.
Polzin kept working, not looking up. "I don't drink. Coffee's about it. Caffeine and nicotine. My two vices."
"What are you working on?" I asked casually.
Polzin moved his hand away. "Just a sketch."
I held my breath when I saw what he was doing. In short, quick strokes he had drawn Mulder's face and my own. We were almost blended together, each half of a face, the other completing it, yet you could still see each whole face. No one had ever drawn me before. It was me, but it was more than just my physical appearance. It almost went beyond that. It was the same with Mulder's image.
"How long have you been partners?" he asked, moving the pencil to fill in my hair.
"Six years," I said.
"Six years is a long time to be with someone. Day after day. Night after night. Always together and never apart," Polzin said, as he drew. "You don't know where you start and the other ends."
"Are you talking about us? Or you and Lindy?" I asked.
"I can't speak for you," Polzin said, looking up at me. But his drawing did.
I stared at Mulder's face on the paper. I didn't even have a photograph of Mulder in my apartment. Nothing to indicate he was more than just my FBI partner. It was too risky. No evidence of a life shared or a love burning underneath the surface. On the paper, Polzin had captured us. One completing the other.
"I know what you are doing. You're both keeping an eye on me," Polzin said. "Giving him a bathroom break?"
I nodded, sitting on the stool beside him. "Tell me one thing. What is in this for you? If we find her."
"I have feelings for her," Polzin said quietly. "You think I'm crazy."
"You have painted her for five years," I said, images of all his work flashing my head. "Over and over again."
"You're skeptical, aren't you?" he asked me directly. I watched him crush his cigarette in the ashtray. "By nature, I mean. Not about me, exactly. But I can tell you don't believe me the way your partner does."
"I don't know what to believe," I admitted. "Artistic visions and inspiration are not based on anything scientific. Something I can prove or disprove. I'd rather trust my instincts and the truth."
"You're right not to trust me," Polzin said, grabbing my wrist suddenly. "I don't want to lie to you anymore."
He pulled me to the back of the bar, and into a dark booth. He released my wrist once we were seated, I rubbed it instinctively. He was strong. I unbuttoned my jacket casually, giving me better access to my gun. The tone had shifted, he had changed in a split second. I wanted to be prepared.
I took a deep breath, remaining in control of the situation. "What did you lie about?"
Polzin leaned in across the table, close to me. I could smell the cigarettes on his breath. "That night in New York, May 24th. Something did happen."
My heart beat a little faster.
"There's a reason I don't drink anymore. I was a different person then. I was reckless and foolish. That night, I was out with my friend near NYU. We were drinking, heavily. It got late and I left the bar. No one stopped me from driving," he started, his voice low and shaking. He pulled out another cigarette, lighting up.
"What happened?" I asked, remaining calm.
Polzin inhaled deeply on his cigarette, he barely noticed when the hot ashes fell on his fingers. "It was a strange town, I didn't know where I was going. I was drunk....I never saw it coming."
"The car. The white Miata." I knew there was something there.
His hands were shaking, he clenched them to stop it. "Yeah. It happened so fast, I lost control and I hit it."
"And you didn't stop," I concluded.
"No, I was too drunk. I blacked out, waking up on the side of the road hours later," he finished. Polzin ran his hand through his hair. "I had nightmares about that night. Over and over again. That's why I painted it, to deal with it. Jesus Christ...I must have really hurt her."
"You are guilty of causing the accident," I said. "Assuming this is Lindy."
"It has to be. She's everywhere in my head. It all makes sense now, I did this," he confessed. He crushed the cigarette out. "I never knew. I never suspected that night, that car...that it was her. Whatever has happened to her, it's all my fault."
Polzin leaned back, banging his head on the wall behind him. I watched him, not feeling threatened anymore. He set in motion a chain of events that night, with repercussions that were just now starting to surface. Random twist of fate. I wondered what Mulder would say when we'd tell him.
"You've not exactly been honest with us," Mulder said, his voice stern and angry. "You should have said something days ago."
"I barely remember what happened that night," Polzin said. He was sitting on the edge of the bed while Mulder and I stared him down. "I never imagined the events were connected. Hitting that car, seeing these visions. Seeing her. But now, I know...it's the truth."
"Then, don't jerk us around. What is the truth?" Mulder demanded. "What else are you hiding? You seem pretty anxious to find her."
Polzin reached for a sketchbook and started flipping. "I am anxious. I don't think she has much time left."
"What do you mean?" I asked sharply.
"The bridge. Remember how I told you about the bridge? The last two times I've dreamt about it, it's like I'm standing on the edge of it. I look down and see water," Polzin flipped to the back of the sketchbook, his more recent entries. "Then..."
"Then what?" Mulder asked.
"Then, it's like I'm falling, but I never hit the water. I wake up," Polzin said. "It's been over two weeks since I've seen this. No matter how hard I try, or how much I want to...it's like I can't connect to her. Something's wrong."
"Tomorrow, we'll have those analyzed. At the field office, when we take you back to New York," Mulder said, watching for Polzin's reaction.
"This is all my fault," he said, looking up at Mulder. "I can accept the responsibility for it. I just wanted...I just wanted..."
Polzin sighed, closing his eyes.
I awoke to a loud pounding on my door.
"Scully! Open the door," Mulder said. I could hear him fumbling with the knob.
I shot out of the bed, unlocking the door. "What is it Mulder?"
"Polzin, he's gone," Mulder panted. He must have run full speed to my room.
"What do mean he's gone?" I asked, letting him in so he would not cause a scene.
"I though he was asleep," he said, pacing. "I dozed off, for just a moment. When I woke up, he was gone."
"He can't of gotten far," I said, searching for clothes. I pulled a pair of slacks on. "You've got the car keys?"
"Yeah," he replied.
"Damn it," I said, throwing a sweatshirt over the t-shirt I was sleeping in.
"He dreamt about her, Scully," Mulder said. "He went to get her, before she leaves."
"Get her where? Where did he go?"
"I have an idea," Mulder said, holding up the sketchbook. It was the bridge.
"The bridge," I said. "But how will he find it, Mulder? He didn't know where it was."
"He does now. I think that's what the dream was about," he said, pointing to Polzin's sketch. "He had written something in the margin, Bristol Beach."
"That's south of here." I remembered from the map driving up.
"We don't have much time," Mulder said, rushing out the door.
It was hard to tell in the darkness, but the bridge's dark outline looked familiar. It wasn't on our map, having been shut down for reconstruction. It was one we'd missed on the way up. The Hudson was beneath it, currents moving swiftly. It was a high bridge, with a good drop to the water below.
"Mulder!" I said, jabbing him to get his attention. "There."
It was the motorcycle from earlier, the one he'd admired. I touched the metal hood. "Still warm."
"Spread out," Mulder said, moving away from me. "He's here somewhere."
We ran along the river's edge, Mulder ahead of me. It was hard to see. Unfortunately, we didn't have a flashlight in the rental car. It was overcast, the clouds moving over the moon blocking the light.
I looked for movement, my eyes scanning the bridge, squinting to make sense of the shadows. I smelled something the air I had gotten very familiar with. Cigarettes.
"Polzin!" Mulder shouted, tearing off ahead of me.
The entrance was blocked off, with fencing and wire. Polzin was trying to crawl through a small opening without much success. Mulder grabbed his arm, I saw them struggling with each other as I ran towards them. I drew my gun, aiming it on Polzin.
"Freeze," I said, holding it steady.
"Shhh, you're going to scare her," Polzin said through gritted teeth, shaking out of Mulder's grasp.
"She's there?" Mulder asked, eyes scanning the bridge.
"On the other side," Polzin said, his voice quiet. "East facing the sun. Help me pull this back."
Mulder stood next to him, pulling back the wire.
"Go on, Scully. You can fit through that," he said, waving me through.
I moved ahead on the bridge. It was severely cracked, definitely unsafe for cars. It was two lanes, with a small shoulder. The metal scaffolding weaved above me, like a metal canopy. I headed for the other end, the east side. It was so dark. Since it had been stripped down, the side railings were all but gone. Square protrusions jutted out over the water. With nothing to prevent a fall into the Hudson below.
In moments, Polzin had caught up with me, Mulder in tow.
"Facing the sun," he muttered. "The third column."
He was referring to the concrete pillars that helped anchor the bridge into the river. I let him walk ahead, dodging the broken concrete and debris. He turned sharp to the right, weaving along the precarious edge, in and out of the scaffolding. It was hard to keep up.
"Lindy!" he called into the darkness. "Don't move."
Behind a column, I could make out a dark shadow. Polzin motioned for Mulder and I to keep back.
"I know what you are thinking, you want to take that step. Don't. Please don't," Polzin called, pleading softly. "There's a reason you feel the way you do. The confusion. The depression. Step away, please just step away."
"Look," Mulder whispered, leaning close against me.
A figure emerged from the darkness, rotating along the column, yet still just a step above the river.
"Yes, it's me," he continued. "It's Daniel. I have a name. And so do you. And it's not Sarah. It's Lindy."
The clouds shifted, casting moonlight on them that reflected off the water. She turned her head and it was her face. The face in Daniel's paintings. The face on the photograph. She was startled by him.
"What did you call me?" she asked. She looked as if she'd been crying.
"Lindy," he repeated. "Lindy Cole. That's your real name."
"I know you. I mean, I feel like I know you," she asked, wind blowing against her hair.
Daniel sighed, with a small laugh. "I know you, too."
"What did you say your name was?" Lindy moved closer to him, with her back pressed against the column.
"I'm Daniel," he said, holding his hand out. "You don't have to be alone anymore."
"Daniel?" she asked.
"Step away from the edge," Polzin said, pleading with her. He stretched his hand out.
She seemed equally as drawn to him. She reached for his hand, and he helped steady her as she made her way onto the solid part of the bridge. Away from the water. He drew her into his arms, holding her tightly.
"I am so sorry," Polzin said, rocking her gently.
Lindy broke from his embrace and stared at him. " I didn't think you were real."
"Come off the bridge," Daniel said. He removed his leather jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders, keeping his arm there as well.
I checked Lindy into the nearest hospital, for examination. On the night of her car crash, she had sustained head trauma. Her memory loss was severe. She must have walked away from the accident, confused and dazed and disappeared. She'd been living as Sarah Wilson for most of the five years. Her injury had caused neurological damage as well, subjecting her to fits of severe depression and paranoia. Her parents and family were on their way, but at the moment it was just Daniel and Lindy alone in her hospital room. They had been talking nonstop since we found her. I watched them through the window of the door. I wondered how she's react when he'd tell her he caused this.
"He hasn't smoked a single cigarette all day," Mulder said, sneaking up on me. "Has he told her?"
"Not yet. But he will," I said, folding my arms. "He has to. It's the only way to end this."
"Guilt manifesting itself through the subconscious. Accepting his responsibility," Mulder said, looking at them. "I know you've been busy running tests, but there is something you should know."
"What?" I asked, turning to face him.
"Polzin wasn't the only one who's been seeing things. She has, too. Only she's been seeing his life. That's what they are talking about now."
I opened the door slowly, not wanting to disturb them. I couldn't decide whether or not to enter the room. They barely noticed we were there. Polzin was sitting on the edge of the bed.
"I would see images in glass," Lindy said, making motions with her hands. "Metal and glass."
"Like these?" Polzin asked, handing her his sketchbook.
Lindy opened it slowly, her hands running over the drawings. She looked up at Polzin, her eyes moist and shiny.
"My God, it really is you," she whispered. "All this time."
"I want to share with you my work. It's all about you," Polzin said. Her hand reached for his, lacing their fingers together. "And there is something I have to tell you."
I stepped back, leaving them alone. The tests could wait until later.
2 Weeks Later
J. Edgar Hoover Building
I stared at the headline and smiled to myself. Missing Girl Found After Five Years of Searching. There was very little mention of our involvement, and none as to the circumstances that lead us to finding Lindy Cole.
Daniel had sent the article to me along with a small package and a note. Daniel had told her about the accident. I wasn't sure if her family knew Daniel was the one driving the car. But what seemed strange was Daniel and Lindy appeared inseparable, despite his admission of guilt. Perhaps they had always been inseparable, joined together by a twist of fate. I found myself smiling at Mulder.
"What's that?" Mulder asked, looking up from his desk.
"I don't know," I replied. I started to open it carefully. It was marked fragile. "It's from Daniel."
"Oh," Mulder said, getting up to join me. "It's Daniel now."
Inside the package was a frame, encased in bubble wrap. I unwound it slowly. A little sound escaped my lips when I saw the picture.
It was the picture he had sketched of us, with our faces gently blended together. He had reworked it on a piece of handmade paper, tacked in the corner with rivets. Down below, written in pencil was the title.
"Lost and Found, 1999 by Daniel Polzin," I said out loud. I stared up at Mulder, his face close to mine. I was at a loss for words, my mouth was slightly open, but silent.
"Can I have it?" Mulder asked, hand caressing mine as he took it from me. "I'll trade you number thirty-five for it?"
I felt my face warm at the memories of thirty-four. It was two nights ago. Mulder's car. Now that I knew his secret, we referred to our intimacies by number.
"Joint custody," I decided. "My place first. You'll have to come over to get it."
Mulder laughed quietly.