Rating: Nc-17...as usual. Kids, keep off this one.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, property of CC, 1013 and Fox. Those evil noromos that drive me to this insanity.
The phone jostled me from sleep. I moved against Mulder as I reached for the receiver. Untangling our limbs.
"Scully," I said sleepily.
"It's A.D. Skinner," came the voice on the other side.
"Sir?" I asked, hazily trying to figure out why he was calling at this hour.
"Who is it?" Mulder whispered, turning over.
I cupped the receiver, not wanting Skinner to hear his voice. "Skinner."
Mulder gave me a puzzled look and we shifted positions. I rested the receiver between us so he could hear.
"Do you know where Agent Mulder is?" he inquired.
"No, sir," I lied, watching Mulder wince at the question.
"Well, I've been unable to get a hold of him. There's been a call. A body was found on Tangier Sound. Female. Approximately 25 years old," he continued, voice short and clipped.
I sat straight up, taking the receiver with me. "Do you know any more details?"
"No," Skinner replied. "But there is reason to believe it may be Amber Eschler. Given the circumstances, I thought you might want to head down there."
"Thank you," I answered as he hung up. I dropped the receiver back in its cradle.
"They found a body?" Mulder asked, concerned. I drew my knees up to my chest, wrapping my arms around them. His hand rubbed the curve of my back.
"They think it's Amber's," I said, closing my eyes.
Amber Eschler. My mind wandered back to the last time I'd seen her. Hunched over the body of Det. Tim Whitley in a parking lot in Dale City. Before I was hit on the head and lost consciousness. Only to wake up in the hospital hours later. And Amber missing.
"Let's go, then," Mulder said. "I heard him say Tangier Sound, right?"
He got out of bed, throwing the covers off as he stood up. I couldn't move. Still hoping I was dreaming. He flipped on the light, blinding me temporarily.
"Scully?" he asked, as he fumbled for his clothes. "What is it?"
"Nothing," I answered, looking up at him. It sickened me to think she was dead. In the four weeks following her disappearance, I had been studying her EEG. Learning that her brain was tampered with as well, just like Gibson Praise and Jeremy Buenger. People whose minds utilized regions of the temporal lobe that science had only now begun to investigate. Part of something started months ago and loosely connected by the names Jeffrey Spender and Diana Fowley.
And like Spender, Amber was now dead. Leaving the trail with only one possible direction to go.
Mulder and I arrived in separate cars. Under the circumstances, I felt it would be better. Although he didn't say it directly outright, I was certain Skinner suspected he was with me tonight. Thanks to those damn photographs arriving on his doorstep.
The police had roped off a section of the marina. Fishermen and trawlers stood everywhere amid the uniformed officers. Their weatherworn faces silent as they stared at the net lying in the center of the circle.
"Your Assistant Director instructed us to wait until you arrived," the medical examiner said, taking me by the arm. Maneuvering us through the small crowd.
"Who found her?" Mulder asked, following us. Maintaining his distance from me.
"I did," replied a fisherman, standing off to the side. "And my son."
He led me to a huge net, thick and wet laying in a heap on the pier. Tangled amid the fish and plants was something much larger. I snapped on latex gloves, leaning down to move the roping out of the way to uncover what was in the center.
Amber. Her hair still that peculiar pale blonde. Now as white as her waterlogged and swollen skin.
"Is that the girl you were looking for?" the M.E. asked.
"Yes," I answered, exhaling slowly. "That's her."
"What happened this morning?" asked Mulder behind me, directing the question to the men who found her.
"Well, we'd been out all night, hadn't caught much. Around 3:00 a.m., we decided to haul in the nets," the man said, lighting up the end of a stubby cigar. He pointed to the ship docked nearby.
"How far were you from the shore?" Mulder inquired.
"About six miles," he answered, inhaling. "I just knew something was wrong. It was real heavy. And like I said, we hadn't caught anything all night."
"When we pulled it in, it was loaded with fish. But there seemed to be something else trapped inside. At first, we thought it was a stray porpoise," his son added, looking over at his father. "Couldn't figure out what was caught in there."
"So we heaved the net on board and opened the end," the father continued. "That's when we found the body. We radioed the Coast Guard right away."
I stood up, taking a few steps back to join Mulder. But I kept staring at her body.
"How long has she been in the water?" Mulder asked, turning his attention back to her as well.
"I'm guessing about a week," I surmised. The smell intermingled with the fish and seawater was sickening. I pressed the back of my hand to my nose. "But I need to get her back to DC to run tests."
"Are you okay?" he asked, nudging my arm slightly.
"I'm fine, Mulder," I replied, turning away from her dead eyes. I couldn't stand to look at them. Eyes that once claimed to see colorful auras were now empty, clouded and white.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Coroner Robin Little and I undressed her corpse, putting what was left of her clothing in separate plastic bags. It was not the clothing I had last seen her in, but it appeared to be army-issue cargo pants and a shirt.
We proceeded to remove every major organ. Carefully weighing each, then cutting them open to examine closer. We then focused on her injuries. A crack on the back of the skull, a well-defined bruise on her left hip. Lacerations on the chest and back that might have been caused by being dragged along the bay floor. Her gunshot wound from two months ago.
"None of the injuries could have killed her," I concluded, stripping my stained apron away. I stuffed it into the bio-waste hamper.
"The blow to the head could have been accidental," Little said, as he reexamined her head. "Perhaps she fell into the water?"
I smiled ironically. I knew the answer wasn't that simple. Amber had been kidnapped and retained. Forced to conclude the experiments performed on her brain. Of course, there was no evidence of foul play. They were careful of that. She had merely outlived her use to them and had been discarded.
"I'm going to have to list this officially as drowning," he said, watching my reactions. "Her lungs were laden with water and she was found in the bay. Unless, you can offer another theory..."
I shook my head. I could, but I couldn't prove it.
"I do want her brain to be examined," I said, pulling out the necessary paperwork. "I have reason to believe there might be further evidence gathered by studying it."
"I could have it shipped over to the Institute for evaluation," Little offered. "Do you think it will make a difference?"
"Probably not. But it's all I have to go on," I replied, removing my mask and discarding it as well. It was better than nothing.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
"Hey Scully," Mulder said, closing the door of our office behind him.
"Hello," I answered dryly, looking up from my paper work. He'd been out all day questioning the fishermen. To see if they had any more information that could be helpful. "Anything?"
"There's not much to tell," he continued, shrugging out of his suit coat and throwing it on the rack. "Her body was most likely weighted down with a small anchor to keep her submersed. No telling how far the body traveled before ending up in Tangier Sound. The fishermen reported nothing unusual in the area for the last week. How'd the autopsy go?"
"As expected," I began, taking a deep breath. But I couldn't hide my disappointment. "We can't even find a cause of death. The coroner is listing it as drowning unless I can prove otherwise. I have requested her brain be sent on for further research. But I seriously doubt anything will come back."
"Amber was the perfect test subject," Mulder said, sitting down on the desk. I could faintly smell the salt water on him. Just like my father after he'd been out all day sailing. I found it comforting. "She had no family. No identity. The only person she was close to, Whitley, was already killed. Besides us, no one was looking for her."
"They know how to pick them well," I said, shutting the file. "I think the story ends here, Mulder."
The room grew silent. I kept my eyes focused down, away from his probing stare.
"What are you saying, Scully?" he asked finally.
"I'm saying, maybe it's time to let this go. To let them go," I replied, glancing back at him.
"I'm sorry, I'm sure I heard that wrong. You're wanting to drop this?" he asked, sounding shocked I would even suggest such a thing.
"What I'm saying is I think you--we--are trying to find something that just isn't there. There used to be an entire project dedicated to hiding the truth. A conspiracy of men who's experiments guaranteed us some kind of survival when the 'colonization' occurs. But they're gone, Mulder. It's over."
"But we know for a fact Jeremy Buenger was working with them. You saw it with your own eyes, Scully," Mulder argued. "CGB Spender himself pulled the trigger."
"I think we are seeing the end of an experiment, Mulder. Not the beginning," I said, folding my arms. "We stumbled onto this by accident. But we're too late. They are obviously eliminating their test subjects."
"Do you think this had something to do with Cassandra Spender?" Mulder asked. They had eliminated just about everyone from that project as well.
"No. This experiment started with Gibson," I said firmly.
"And for this project, they obviously needed someone who's mind exhibits activity beyond the normal range of human functioning," he persisted. "Or they needed to 'recreate' this by examining those who do."
"Who's they, Mulder? The Smoking Man? Krycek?" I asked, pausing for the final name on the roster. "Diana Fowley?"
"Why would Diana have anything to do with this?" he asked, almost immediately.
I looked at him incredulously. After all we'd been through, he still defended her? I had my suspicions all along that she was involved. Maybe Jeffrey had been an unwilling adversary to the Consortium. But I was certain she wasn't. Mulder found the Smoking Man in her apartment that night they were all killed. He obviously had a purpose in being there, he always did. She'd be the natural ally for him; her affiliation with the X-files and the apparent immunity she still had from Mulder.
"Then where is she, Mulder?" I asked, straight out. "Care to explain that? You were the last one to see her. In her apartment."
He fell silent.
"I don't know, Scully," he said, trying to pacify me. "But I know Diana."
"Knew her," I clarified, feeling anger rising up within me. Knew her like he knows me, according to Frohike. Part of his past long ago before I stepped in this office.
"Maybe you should ask Skinner," he suggested, maintaining his calm exterior.
"Maybe I will," I replied, standing up.
I was tired of playing this game. It had been a long, frustrating summer as we ran circles trying to figure this out. Someone out there obviously knew about our relationship and was enjoying putting a strain on it by sending the notes and photographs. Every time we made any progress with this investigation, someone was always just ahead of us. Making sure we had no evidence or answers. Besides Skinner, who else would take such an interest in our activities? Who cared if we reopened past cases? The X-files were ours. All of them. And I didn't care who was there when they were discovered. I was here now.
And I had a right to know.
"Agent Scully," Skinner started, motioning for me to sit down. "I'm very busy this afternoon."
I could tell he was uncomfortable from the way he shifted in his chair. I'd had the suspicion for a while that he wasn't being truthful with us either. Or that he was holding back. Ironic indeed, I would come to him expecting a straight answer about something so important.
"Sir, I wanted to ask you a question," I began, clearing my throat.
"I'm listening," he said, wanting me to continue.
"Diana Fowley. Do you know where she is?" I asked, keeping my composure steady.
The room grew silent as he stared at me.
"Why do you need to know the whereabouts of Agent Fowley?" he asked slowly.
"I have reason to believe she's involved with Agent Spender's father."
"The Smoking Man?" he clarified. "On what basis do you make this assumption?"
"Sir, the investigations into Jeremy Buenger and Amber Eschler both show an connection to Agent Fowley," I continued, watching his expression closely.
"They were her cases, yes," Skinner admitted.
"And Mulder and I witnessed the shooting of Jeremy Buenger by CGB Spender. Amber spoke of a dark haired woman, Dr. Sharon Leighton who matches the description of Agent Fowley."
"Is that all you're going on?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Unless you can tell me where she's been all these months?" I pressed, waiting for his explanation.
"I can't," he replied, short and clipped.
"Can't or won't, sir?" I asked authoritatively.
He was taken aback by that. Skinner fell silent, as if carefully deciding what to say next. He removed his glasses, setting them down on his desk. Then, he reached for a small cloth inside his middle drawer.
"Agent Fowley is on assignment," he answered. "And she is not under my supervision. That is all, Agent Scully."
"Were there any other cases she was working on?" I asked, pushing just a little farther. Mulder and I had exhausted all the resources we had. "During her tenure on the X-files?"
"All records are in Agent Mulder's possession," he stated, wiping his glasses clean. Then, he put them back on. Seeing me clearly. "I take it you know where they are."
He turned his attention back to his paperwork, non-verbally dismissing me. I stood up slowly, half-expecting him to say more. But he kept looking down. I turned and left, feeling his eyes on my back the whole time.
"I'm sorry I can't help you," he said quietly, almost apologetically. I glanced over my shoulder and met his gaze. "But my hands are tied."
I nodded, sensing there was more. But Skinner looked away and I left. Slipping quietly out into the hall.
"Did you just take your shower?" Mulder asked. He knew my entire routine now, after eight months of studying my personal habits and lifestyle.
"Maybe I did," I replied, wanting to throw him off a bit.
"I know you did," he whispered, voice becoming low. "You're in your bed on top of the covers, wearing just a bathrobe. Your hair is slicked back, dripping water onto your pillow as you lay there staring at the ceiling in the dark. Relaxing after your shower."
He was exactly right. I turned over on my side. The bed faintly smelled of him. Of us. I hadn't had time to wash the sheets since Sunday.
"Why are you calling, Mulder?" I asked, after a minute of deliberation.
"Because you left the office and I didn't have a chance to talk to you again," he replied.
"About what?" I inquired, knowing he wasn't going to offer any kind explanation for his earlier comments about his ex-partner/lover. It was something he did not discuss. Part of me really didn't want to know. The past was the past.
"I thought about what you said earlier about Spender and Diana, so I decided to review their cases one final time. In case there was anything I missed. And I reviewed my old cases as well, from 1991," he said, sounding serious.
B.S., I thought. Before Scully. How ironic.
"Did you find anything?" I asked, curious of the answer.
"Case 0071," he continued. "I was looking for anything that might be connected to remote viewing or auric readings."
I sat up, pressing my fingertips to my temple. "What is it about?"
"PK. Psychokinesis," he said.
I sighed. "Psychokinesis, Mulder?"
"Conducted by Dr. Craig Rodan. I know, it didn't sound like much to me either. Except for one thing. I looked up his whereabouts since 1991. Do you know where his last testing lab was? Ft. Marlene."
Fort Marlene. Images of that humiliating detox shower and being detained flashed in my head. It couldn't just be a coincidence, could it?
"And I think you'll find his research might shed some light on this," Mulder concluded. "We can go over it in the morning. Unless, you want me to stop by now."
I felt something tugging at me with those last words.
"No," I decided, wanting to keep my thoughts clear for tomorrow.
"Fair enough," he said, although I could hear the disappointment. Then, he was quiet. Only the sound of his breathing assured me we hadn't been disconnected.
"Mulder?" I asked, after a minute of the awkward silence. "Are you still there?"
"Yes," he answered. "I was just thinking."
"About what?" I asked, pausing for him to continue.
"How easily that robe unties in the front," he whispered. Sending a shiver down my spine. My skin was still warm from the water. Just like he said. I hated the fact I was so predictable. No matter how hard I tried not to be. "How you smell after your shower. Or crawling into bed still wet with you."
"Where are you?" I breathed, finding it hard to concentrate on anything else but what he was suggesting.
"Do you wish I was there?"
"I wish things were different," I said, exhaling into the receiver. Letting those illicit thoughts dissipate.
I wished this damn investigation didn't make me so defensive, but it did. They can have everything else, Mulder. Every other fucking thing I have. But not this. That was what I had told him the night we found Jeremy Buenger. I hated the doubts it cast in my mind, doubts that haunted me all summer.
"Do me a favor, Scully," he started.
"Depends," I countered, unsure of what he might be asking now.
"Stand up and walk over to the window. The one in the living room and draw the blinds back a little," he instructed.
I got up, taking the cordless with me as I moved there. I stood by the window, cracking the blinds just a little. My eyes scanned the street, until I saw his car parked just outside. I saw the dark figure inside wave up at me.
"Mulder," I said, pressing my fingertips to the glass.
"Are you sure you don't want me to come over?" he asked again. I fingered the knot on my robe, remembering countless times he enjoyed unfastening it, only to find I wore nothing underneath. "I could be there in two minutes."
I knew where it would lead. Same place it always lead. Sixty-three times and counting. It was a good thing he was still in his car. If he showed up at the door, I know I wouldn't have had the resolve to turn him away. Sex itself was a form of communication; neutral territory that we never seemed to disagree on.
"Goodnight, Mulder," I said, closing the blinds shut slowly.
"Goodnight, Scully," he replied. And the longing in his voice cut right through me.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Mulder must have gotten to work extremely early. His car was parked in the lot by 7:30 a.m. when I pulled in. But I waited before heading for the office. I had wanted to do some preliminary research on psychokinesis. Research not tainted by his former partner.
"Well, the topic certainly coincides with the other two," I commented, holding the folder open. "Remote viewing, auric research and psychokinesis do share one thing in common."
"Mind control," Mulder summarized, leaning back on his desk.
"And heightened awareness," I added, looking through the file. "What was it you said to Skinner when we first found Gibson Praise?"
"He could be the key to everything in the X-files," Mulder said, remembering perfectly. "Or that ability is. The omnipresence of the mind."
"It says here, PK has been researched by both the United States and Russia since the 1930's," I read, from the report Fowley submitted. "Didn't Langly say Amber's father disappeared to Russia for a few years?"
"I caught that too," Mulder said, with a slight grin. "Actually, it was the Soviets who revealed one of the most famous PK subjects in 1968. A housewife from Leningrad, Nina Kulagina."
We knew of the Syndicate's other experiments conducted in Russia, in Tunguska. Mulder had been there first hand for those.
"I did a little research this morning on PK," I started, setting the file down and reaching for the one I compiled. "In 1992, the Journal of Scientific Exploration reported on experiments carried out at Princeton University investigating the possibility that the human mind can influence random number devices in a way that can be measured in a laboratory. They demonstrate an extremely minute, but statistically measurable, ability of the mind to skew the output of electronic number generators."
"Conducted by PEAR," Mulder added. "Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research. I remember reading about them. One of the first studies to give credibility to PK."
"Their focus was on micro-PK, which produce slight effects not noticeable to the naked eyes and requiring statistical evaluation," I read from my notes.
"Which, of course, could be presented to the scientific community," Mulder said, standing up to join me. "For those requiring solid scientific proof."
I glared at him. "Where does your Dr. Craig Rodan fit in?"
"Apparently, he worked at Ft. Marlene on PK research, but with technological applications," Mulder said, coming around me to pick up Case 0071.
"Mulder," I said, distracting him for a moment. "Why did you and Fowley investigate him the first time? This file seemed rather vague, except to show an active testing laboratory was in operation."
"This was before the PEAR research, Scully. He was considered a scientific oddity, since the experiments he conducted were so speculative. We paid him a visit to establish his credibility and methods, since at the time our government was funding the project. The grant that was extended because of our report expired in 1998."
"Somebody was funding his research after that," I surmised, glancing back at Mulder. "Give you three guesses who."
"Good old CGB Spender," Mulder speculated.
"You don't find it the least suspicious that this has a tie to your former partner?" I asked coolly. Not letting my exterior betray the anger rising inside.
"It also has a tie to Spender," Mulder countered. "He could have easily provided the information."
"I hardly think it's a coincidence that your former cases were 'reopened' in our absence," I said, fixing him with a cold stare. "Especially ones that fit a pattern."
"Neither do I," he said, laying his hand over mine. As if trying to pacify my growing agitation. "But we know Spender visited Amber Eschler and she wasn't a part of my files."
I exhaled. Always an answer for everything where she was concerned.
"Think he'll remember you?" I asked, thumbing through papers. Changing the subject. "Dr. Rodan. But I suppose he's gone now, disappeared into oblivion with the rest of them."
"No," Mulder said. "He hasn't. With a little help from Frohike, I've managed to trace him to Nome, Alaska. Just a stone's throw from northern Russia, I might add."
"Alaska?" I repeated, wondering why he would go so far north. But then again, cold climates were something the Syndicate seemed to favor. Antarctica came to mind.
"Ask Skinner if you can have Friday off," Mulder whispered, low and conspiratorial. "I've got the reservations already booked."
My eyes drifted over to the clock on the wall. Less than twenty-four hours ago, we were standing in this same room and I had told him to let this go. But instead of doing that, Mulder found a way to continue this pursuit. I wondered what was driving him to seek the answers. Perhaps to exonerate Diana Fowley? And I knew. With or without me, he'd be on that plane to Alaska.
"This can't be an official investigation," I said, turning to face him in the small space where we were standing. His dark eyes bore into mine, trying to persuade me. To believe in his instincts one more time.
Did she need this much convincing?
"It will be unofficial, Scully," he answered, with determination. "At least until we have some solid evidence. He could be the link we've been looking for."
It was still daylight in Alaska. Even at this late hour. The sun was just beginning to set over this small town on the southern coast of the Seward peninsula. We'd been traveling most of the day, with a two-hour stop in Anchorage. Nome was located 539 miles northwest, an additional 75-minute flight. Alaska even had its own time zone, a four-hour differential from Eastern Standard Time. My body thought it was 1:30 a.m., which explained the overwhelming sense of fatigue I felt at the moment.
Mulder dropped our suitcases by the closet. The room was freezing. The temperature outside had already dropped to 43 degrees, a drastic shift from DC's September average. I had worn light clothes for traveling, but had packed layers for tomorrow. I stared at the bed, covered by just a thin comforter and two flat pillows. It looked cold and uninviting to me.
"Scully, where do you want your stuff?" he asked, opening the closet.
"Anywhere," I replied, playing with the thermostat. Kicking the temperature up as high as it would go. The heater wasn't even on. It churned loudly, blowing out cold, stale air into the room. With an funny odor. It was probably mildew or dust. It smelled funny.
"Ready for a little northern exposure tomorrow?" Mulder quipped, unzipping his bag. He proceeded to empty out the contents onto the dresser.
"You know I hate the cold, Mulder," I said, rubbing my arms to warm up as I paced. I should really unpack a few things as well, but what I needed right now was a hot shower and sleep.
"At least it's not snowing," he replied, looking over at me. A slight smile on his face. Snow would never be the same for us.
I sat down on the bed. Hoping the damn thermostat would kick in soon. Tomorrow, we were going to track down Rodan. With a population of about 4,000 it shouldn't be that difficult. Nome was a small, remote town.
He worked his way around the room, instinctually checking for surveillance devices. No one could possible know we were here. He had reserved the room under a false name and we told no one where we were going. I wish he would have booked separate rooms. Just in case.
"I'm pretty sure Skinner knows I'm with you," I said, watching him. "When I told him I was taking off today, he made a comment."
"What kind of comment?"
"He said, I hope you know what you are doing," I answered, remembering the odd way he had phrased it.
"Do you?" Mulder said, stopping his searching to turn around.
I sighed, studying his face in the dim light of the room. "I'd like to know what I'm doing now, Mulder."
"You're sitting in a hotel in Nome, Alaska. 102 miles south of the Arctic Circle. 123 miles east of the International Dateline. And 161 miles from Northern Russia," he replied, with a slight grin. Knowing that's not what I meant at all.
"Mulder," I said, shaking my head.
"And you're with me," he added, dropping to his knees in front of me. "And hopefully, we're gong to find some fucking answers here so we can put this behind us and move forward. Or freeze our asses off doing so."
I smiled a bit. I had come to the conclusion that the future was the one thing I had to hold on to. They could manipulate the present, alter the past . . . but the future was something they couldn't control. That's why they worked so hard on their projects. To try and set events into motion. Predict the future and its outcome, but none of it was set in stone.
"May I use the shower first?" I asked, standing up and moving away from him. "I don't want them to run out of hot water. If its anything like the thermostat, I want to make sure it's working."
Mulder nodded, watching me head for the tiny bathroom.
"Can I join you? The thought of taking a cold shower tonight doesn't appeal to me," he asked, looking up at me. "I promise to be good."
I swallowed hard at that last comment. I certainly didn't have the resolve to close the door. And even if I did, he would just slip in uninvited. At least he was warning me ahead of time. Perhaps it was his way of preserving our future.
Already, I was flushing all over. Anticipating.
There was barely any water pressure from the showerhead. Hot water sprayed out like a gentle rain over both us. It was a good thing getting clean wasn't our immediate goal.
Mulder held me up, pressing my back against the white tile of the shower wall. We were turned sideways in the small stall and my feet were resting against the shower door. Providing proper leverage as he eased between my thighs. His hands on my buttocks, supporting me. The hot water provided a steamy haven from which I never wanted to return.
My arms were holding on to his shoulders, as he sunk inside me. Sheathing himself in my wet warmth. We hadn't really said much to each other. But fell into an easy silence as we worked towards a common goal.
Mulder kissed my breasts. Running his tongue across the nipple slowly. Licking the streams of water than ran down them. I arched my back against him, allowing him better access.
"Are you still cold?" he inquired, and I felt him press up inside me. Penetrating even deeper.
"No," I whispered, relaxing my body around him. Perhaps there was something to be said for living in an arctic tundra after all. Every nerve inside me was set aflame, creating a burning ache that sought release only from Mulder.
He shifted his arm, supporting me with it as his hand snaked around to where our bodies were joined. Moving my folds back slightly and rubbing me. Increasing the friction. I moaned, the sound echoed off the walls and Mulder smiled to himself.
"Is that good, Scully?" he whispered.
"Yes," came my hazy reply.
"I promised I'd be good," he said.
He slid in and out of me, slow and deliberate at first. The combination of the growing pleasure and the warmth of his body were lulling me into a deeper state of consciousness. A sensual state where all my senses seemed sharpened. A heightened state of awareness. Dreamlike.
I kissed him, letting the water run over our lips. Drinking in the taste and texture of Mulder's mouth. Over and over we kissed. Sharing one breath between us.
His hair was drenched and I ran my hand over it, shaking the water drops everywhere. My fingernails raked down his cheek, feeling the stubble that was peppering his cheeks already. Enjoying the rough texture against my fingertips.
"Ready?" he asked, barely above a whisper.
"Hmmm," I replied, smiling down at him. If only we could stay like this forever. Far away from the conspiratorial world. I had no doubts here of how I felt. How he felt. And how he felt inside me.
Mulder braced me, returning both hands beneath my thighs. Spreading my legs apart more. He thrust up and into me, over and over again. My body tensing for each motion, gripping him tightly as he withdrew. Inviting him in deeper when he pressed in.
My breasts rubbed against his chest, creating sensations there as well. The water served only to slicken our bodies, allowing them to slide easily against the other. Steam rose off his shoulders and I held on tighter.
I bit my lip, letting my head rest against the tile. My hair sticking over my cheeks in wet tendrils. My eyes were red already from the steam, but I did not care. I fought to keep them open. Keep them locked with Mulder's hazel ones. I wanted to see him when he came.
I felt the surge of adrenaline, and the beginnings of pleasure thrumming inside. I bore down, grinding harder against him until it broke free. I cried out as the orgasm ripped through me, coursing in time with my heartbeat. Elevated and strong. God, it felt good.
"You always," Mulder whispered and I completed the sentence with him, "finish first."
We kissed one final time. As if we were sealing a pact. Then, he withdrew his mouth. Focusing on bringing himself over the edge. I watched him, watched the furrow on his brow as he concentrated his thrusts. Hitting the same spot over and over again inside me. Until finally, he groaned into my shoulder. Letting his head rest there while he pulsed. Stimulating me all over again.
The water shifted in temperature. The warmth receding as it became tepid. Mulder withdrew out of me, carefully letting me stand on my own. My legs were shaky and unstable, and I felt the moisture run down them. Still hot.
Mulder switched the faucet off and reached for a washcloth that was still warm. He rubbed it gently over my stomach, then lower. Cleansing me, but taking his time as he worked over my sensitive folds. I held onto the towel bar, too tired from the journey and sex to do anything else except enjoy it.
He reached for a white, hotel towel and wrapped me in it. Then, pulled one down for himself. Drying himself off. By now it was 3:00 a.m., DC time according to his watch on the counter.
I stepped out into the room, it had warmed up finally. The funny smell was even gone. Mulder threw his wet towel on the floor, then drew back the covers. He climbed in, motioning for me to join him. Suddenly, I felt the overwhelming urge to sleep. It was probably the sex, the ultimate sedative.
I slid in beside him, our bodies still wet and warm from the shower. We shifted into a comfortable position with Mulder spooned around me. I pressed my face into the pillow, knowing sleep would claim me fast. His arms held me tight.
"I love you, Scully," he whispered, kissing my shoulder lightly as I drifted into darkness. Almost immediately.
We slept in later than expected. I could blame it on the time change, but that wasn't the cause of the delay. Number sixty-five was.
Mulder rented an all terrain vehicle to drive around in. Nome was on the arctic tundra and 53% of the population were American Eskimo here. Speaking in a dialect that was hard to understand. Luckily, Mulder could decipher it better than I could.
"About as close to falling off the edge of the earth as you can get," Mulder had mused earlier.
We headed for the town municipal building, hoping to find the location his residence. They closed at noon, but Mulder convinced them to stay open longer. I helped him search through their records; at least the recent year was on computer. The address Frohike had found for us was invalid. Hours passed and I barely noticed them, looking up at the clock that seemed to move with rapid speed. Mulder was chatting online to Frohike, who was frantically searching his resources for us.
"He was wrong," Mulder said, jolting me out of the semi-conscious state I was in from the microfilm reader. I stepped away from it, giving my eyes some relief.
"Frohike?" I asked, sitting beside Mulder at the desk. Watching the information download from the Gunmen's ISP.
"Yeah. It's not Nome, he's moved to Teller. Teller, Alaska. It's north of here," Mulder said, reaching for the atlas. "Got a line of utilities bills, charged to a C. Rodan."
We drove for a couple hours. The sun was still high and it was deceptive. I had no concept of time here, everything existed outside of the norm. I'd been to Alaska once as a child with my father, but not this far north. All I'd really remembered was the aurora borealis. The once in a lifetime event I'd managed to see twice. My eyes drifted to Mulder. He'd been driving that night too. To Baltimore when I made him stop the car and pull over to gaze up at the sky.
Frohike's directions lead us to the middle of nowhere. Miles and miles of nothing stretched out ahead of us. I slept for part of the journey, unsure of what direction we were going. The compass on the car said 'east,' and Mulder fidgeted with it periodically. It had to be broken because we were heading north according to the map.
"Not like I can pull up somewhere and ask for directions," Mulder said, with a smile. "But I'm sure we're going the right way."
"Just don't run out of gas," I answered, reclining the seat a bit. This was the worse case of jet lag I'd ever had.
"Have I ever been wrong before?" he mused. "With directions, I mean."
"Once or twice," I replied, with a hazy smile. I wasn't about to fuel his ego right now by telling him 'no.'
I had just closed my eyes when the sound of crunching shook me awake. A gravel road? We were on a gravel road now.
"Scully," Mulder said, nudging my leg. "Do you see anything?"
My eyes squinted ahead, to where the tiny road twisted and turned. Electrical lines were leading somewhere.
"I think there's a structure," I said, sitting up. I waited until he had turned another corner. "Yes, off the left!"
We neared what appeared to be a cabin. A two-story cabin nestled in the woods. Almost obscured unless you were really concentrating. Like a mirage in the desert. Only this one was on the arctic tundra.
He parked the car on the grass and got out, heading up the porch stairs. His breath was white in the cold and I shivered at the drop in temperature when I exited the car.
Mulder pounded on the door. "Dr. Rodan? Are you in there?"
No answer. It could be deserted. I didn't see another vehicle around except the one we drove up in. I took a few steps backward, wandering around the cabin. A gust of wind hit me, whipping my hair all around.
"Anything?" Mulder called.
"No," I said, continuing my inspection. I peered inside, it was dark. It seemed comfortably furnished. It was somebody's home. In the middle of nowhere at the end of the earth, someone lived here.
"Dr. Rodan?" he repeated, rattling the door as well. He leveraged his shoulder against it, as if preparing to force it open.
A chill ran through me as I backed up to get a better look at the cabin. At the second story. Suddenly, my eyes caught movement in the upper window. A figure, drawing back the curtain. Letting it close, so not to be discovered.
"There's someone in there, Mulder," I called, motioning upward. I reached for my gun, running back up the porch stairs to join him.
"Stand back," Mulder warned, bracing himself.
He lunged forward, applying the weight of his body to the door. It creaked under the pressure. Mulder tried again, still nothing. I held my weapon steady, ready to cover him when it finally gave way. He took a few steps backward, choosing to kick the door instead. On the second attempt, it flew open.
"FBI!" I yelled, running past Mulder and into the darkness. Watching for any movement.
When Mulder regained his footing, he charged up the stairs. Weapon drawn.
"You said the second story?" he called down to me. I followed him quickly, watching his back the whole time.
There were a few rooms upstairs and we separated, going in opposite directions. I pressed a door open, revealing a small bathroom. I threw the shower curtain back, making sure no one was hiding behind it. I continued forward, heading for the next room on my side. It looked like a bedroom, but with boxes and boxes stacked inside.
"Freeze! Federal Agents!" Mulder yelled. I turned and ran, meeting up with him on the opposite side. In another bedroom.
A figure was standing in the corner with its back to us, clad in a thick parka, with the hood drawn.
"Don't make any sudden movements. I am armed," Mulder said firmly. He kept his gun drawn on the small form. "Turn around, slowly. Keep your hands where I can see them."
"Don't shoot," came a voice from the dark shadows.
It startled me, since it was not what I expected to hear. It was faint, soft and female. The parka-clad figured turned around, coughing slightly as it did so. She drew back the hood.
"I knew you'd come. Eventually," Marita Covarrubias said, stepping forward into the dim light from the window.
She looked like death itself, frail and slight. Her skin had no color and her eyes were hazed over. I checked her pulse and her vitals, moving her closer to the fire Mulder had started. Its warmth blazed over us all.
"How did you get here?" Mulder asked, kindling the fire. "Last time I saw you, you were at Ft. Marlene."
She collapsing back in the armchair she was sitting on. "They left me there for dead. Spender tried to get me out, but Krycek stopped him. Dr. Rodan knew about me, about the virus research. I begged him to take me since I knew they weren't coming back."
"Son of a bitch," Mulder muttered, letting me finish checking her. "So you've been here the whole time?"
Marita nodded. "Trying to recover. I was treated with the vaccine, but they subjected me to numerous tests to find out the after-effects. I have virtually no immune system left."
"Marita," I asked, laying my hand of her forehead. Her skin was so cold. And her eyes were almost like Amber's. Pale with no color whatsoever. "Where is Dr. Rodan?"
"I don't know," she said, sinking back into the parka. "He was supposed to come back last night."
"Do they know where you are?" Mulder inquired.
She shook her head. "No. Or they would have come for me."
"Why would he take a risk on hiding you here?" I speculated, trying to understand the reasoning behind it.
"Because I know what they were using his research to do," Marita answered, looking first at Mulder, then at me.
A silence fell across the three of us. Did she really have the answers we'd been looking for? Or was this, like everything else, just part of the game. I was almost afraid to ask the inevitable question.
"What were they trying to do?" Mulder asked finally, with a glance in my direction.
"During the Cold War, psychic research began," she said, taking a deep breath before continuing. "The CIA was interested in remote viewing. The Russians were interested in the mind's effect on biological systems. Each have devoted various resources and funding to the analyzing and testing of such abilities."
"Remote viewing and auric research," he said, throwing the information out there. "And PK."
"Yes," Marita answered. "That was Dr. Rodan's work in the project. Dr. Ephraim worked on auric tests. They both studied in Russia, separately of course. The Syndicate became familiar with the work during their stay in Tunguska."
"And Gibson?" I asked, my voice barely above a whisper. I had to know how he fit into the equation.
"Gibson," she repeated, with a sad smile. "He was the key to it all. His mind was so advanced, it made all the research valid. For both sides. All they needed were test subjects who could exhibit similar levels to Gibson. A mind to match his."
"Amber Eschler and Jeremy Buenger," Mulder said, testing her reaction.
"I knew about Amber, she was Dr. Ephraim's daughter. I don't know who Buenger is," she replied.
"There is one more link," I began, folding my arms around myself for strength. "All three cases are connected to Jeffrey Spender and Diana Fowley. Two were cases from previous X-files, going back as far as 1991. That's how we found Dr. Rodan."
"I knew Spender was a part of it," Marita confirmed. "I'm not sure how Diana Fowley fits in. But I'd seen her at Ft. Marlene, right before it was evacuated. Around the time I'd seen you, Agent Mulder."
I stared at Mulder. How much more proof did he need that his ex-partner/lover was working for them now?
"Spender was coerced into this," she added. "Perhaps she was too. There are prices for betrayal. I know that all too well."
"Don't underestimate them. They're planning something. Using this research for something new. That's what Rodan fears. Something with far reaching implications." Marita began to cough again, this time it was unrelenting. I tried to help her sit up, but she waved me away.
"We're going to get you out of here," Mulder said, laying a hand on her arm. I watched as his fingers squeezed tighter, as if willing her to hang on.
"I can't leave," she whispered, as the coughing subsided. Her voice was hoarse and broken. "They'll find me anywhere else. I only hope you weren't followed here."
"You're sick, Marita," I stated, as she stared up at me. With those dead eyes and pale blonde hair, she resembled Amber. "You need proper medical attention. More than Rodan can give you."
She coughed some more, bowing her head forward. "I need to lie down. So tired."
"Here," I said, offering her my arm. "Let me help you. We can talk about this in the morning."
Marita stood up, steadying herself against me. We moved slowly towards the staircase, I glanced back at Mulder. He nodded at us, but did not say anything. Probably still mulling over the information she provided. Trying to make sense of it all.
There would be time for talk later.
Mulder fixed the door of the cabin, so it would be secured for the night. Nailing up a board in lieu of the broken locks. I busied myself by exploring the cabin, for things Dr. Rodan had left behind. There was a bedroom down the hall from Marita's, presumably his. Men's clothing were hanging in the closet, some had been freshly laundered. Slacks and shirts, mostly. Something looked familiar in the back, just behind the flannel shirts. Something that was green. I reached for the hanger, pulling it out and into the light. It was a set of military issued clothes, just like the ones Amber been wearing.
Was that what Marita wore? I wondered. They were identical in every way. Same color, cut and style.
Variously toiletries were in the bathroom. A comb with strands of silvery hair. A shaving kit, the old-fashioned kind my father used to have. Someone was definitely living there besides Marita. I would have to bring samples back for testing. There would be DNA evidence available from it.
In the kitchen, I found a couple utility bills. For the electricity. Addressed to C. Rodan at a post office box in Teller. But nothing older than a couple months. Why put it in his name? I thumbed through them, hoping to find something more significant.
I wandered into what appeared to be a study. A huge bookshelf covered one wall. Many of the titles were in Russian. Journals and journals of medical information. There was a locked file cabinet and I worked for a half-hour trying to pick it.
"Need help?" Mulder asked, amusement in his tone. He was standing in the threshold with his arms crossed.
I looked up from where I was kneeling on the floor, trying to pry the lock with a small file and paper clip. It wasn't something they taught in medical school.
"Like to see you try," I said, giving one final attempt.
Mulder knelt down behind me, his body pressing against my back. Warming me. His breath was hot against my face as he wrapped his arms around me. Mulder placed his hands over mine, guiding the instruments in and out of the lock.
"Gotta listen for it," he whispered. "Until you hear a click."
All I could hear was my heart, pounding in my head.
"There," Mulder said, leaning in closer. He let go of me long enough to pull the drawer open. "Just have to ease it in and out."
"Where did you learn that?" I asked, exhaling the breath I didn't know I was holding. I must have missed that class at Quantico.
"College," he answered. "Girl's dormitory locks weren't very sophisticated."
His hands drifted back around me, touching my back as I leaned forward to reach inside. There were files. Lots of them. And journals. I grabbed a handful and sat back, letting them spill out on the floor.
Mulder stretched out behind me, resting his weight on one hand. I leaned back against him as I began flipping through a file. They had military classifications on them, probably from Ft. Marlene.
"What do you think?" I asked, turning my head to look at him. His face so close to mine. "About what Marita told us. Do you think she was lying?"
"She has no reason to lie to us," Mulder answered, keeping his eyes level with mine.
"She used to work for them," I pointed out, trying not to let his closeness distract me from the task at hand.
"You've seen what they did to her," he said, watching me thumb through the notes. "She's helped us before, I don't see why she wouldn't now."
"How do we even know Dr. Rodan was even here?" I asked. "Seems pretty suspicious to me we come all this way on a hunch of yours to find Marita Covarrubias hidden up in this cabin."
"As if someone knew we'd be coming?" Mulder suggested.
I nodded. "There has to be something else going on."
We sat for the next half-hour, huddled against each other in the light of an oil lamp. Reading and reviewing the information. Outside, the wind blew hard against the windows. Causing them to shake above us ominously.
"Scully, here's something. PK is the direct mental interaction with physical objects, either animate or inanimate. But that's not what Dr. Rodan was studying. His research was concerned with bio-PK," Mulder said, holding the file out so I could read along with him.
"Direct mental interaction with living systems?" I speculated, scanning the page.
"Listen to this. The ability to monitor internal functions of the body, including nervous system activities using EEG and biofeedback technologies, has provided an opportunity to ask whether biological systems may also be affected by intention," he read, moving his finger over the text.
"Which means?" I asked, wanting him to continue.
"His research suggested the human mind could affect machinery," Mulder said, coming around the desk. "If PK phenomena is explored, in 10 to 15 years machines could be developed that respond to thought. Interesting theory."
"In theory," I said, knowing nothing the Syndicate would have funded could have been for anything altruistic.
"In the future, there could be a psychic transistor to link mind and machine," he continued. "As evidenced by SR819, nanotechnology could provide the perfect outlet for such research to continue."
"SR819?" I whispered. The bill that was supposed to fund money and supplies to third world countries, but actually would export sensitive technology. "So that's what you think he was working on?"
"Possibly. But to do that, you need to start with someone who's mind already goes beyond the normal range of human perception," Mulder finished. "Unless there is another reason and this just provided the necessary data. Wasn't that what Marita said? Something with far reaching implications."
"But why kill them off now?" I wondered. "I mean, why go through all that trouble just to terminate the test subjects? If there was another goal in mind..."
"What if it wasn't intentional? What if Amber died because she couldn't handle the tests? You've seen what they did to Marita," Mulder said, motioning to the second floor.
"But Jeremy Buenger was shot point blank," I countered. "We both saw that."
"What if they found someone else. Someone who's mind is stronger than hers? Or Buenger's?" he asked.
"Do you think he's coming back?" I asked, letting the journals fall from my fingers. I was tired and my head began to ache. "This Dr. Rodan. We could try to wait for him."
"I doubt it," Mulder answered, tucking a lock of hair behind my ear. Letting his hand linger on my cheek, sensing my fatigue. His thumb traced my jawline, moving over it slowly. "I say just cut our losses and get out of here in the morning. It could take weeks to sort through the information outlined here."
"Someone has been living here," I said, closing my eyes. Enjoying his touch way too much for my own good. "There's evidence upstairs."
"Tomorrow, we're taking Marita out of here and into protective custody. We'll question her further and find out what we can," Mulder said, letting his fingers drift over my lips. "There are other names here we can investigate. Dr. Sandoz? Dr. McMillan? They have to mean something."
And we have enough to prove Spender and Fowley were involved, my mind concluded. And I felt satisfied with that. I was sure between these files and Marita, I'd have plenty of evidence to support my theory about Diana Fowley. And prove it to Mulder once and for all. He was mine now and no one from his past was going to interfere with the future. Our future.
"We'd better pack this up," I began, stacking files together. There were boxes upstairs I could use. I had seen them earlier. . .
"Why don't you get some sleep instead?" he suggested, stopping my motions. "I'll take the first watch and I can do this."
"Are you sure?" I asked, starting to get up. But his hand caught mine and pulled me down again. Into his arms one final time.
"I'm sure," he said, holding me close. "You can take the couch by the fire and keep it warm for me."
"I'd rather keep it warm with you," I whispered, with a slight smile.
I didn't back away when he drew his face to mine, kissing me slowly. Moving over my mouth with familiarity. We breathed in time, prolonging the kiss as long as possible. But it was still too brief.
"You better get out of here," he said, when we parted. Mulder smiled. "Or else I'm not going to get anything done."
"Goodnight, Mulder," I said, freeing myself from his embrace. Leaving him to the work.
"Goodnight, Scully," he replied. And the longing in his voice cut right through me. Just like before.
"Agent Scully, I'm glad you are here," Diana Fowley said, taking me by the arm. As if we were old friends. Confidants.
We walked down a corridor of a hospital. I wasn't sure which one. They all looked the same after a while. She stopped outside a door marked Pathology. Blue sign with engraved white letters.
I wanted to shake her, to ask her where she'd been, to find out whose side she on. But all I could do was follow her through the door into the sterile and clinical environment. She looked different to me. Younger. Her hair was longer too. Yes, that was it. Was it Diana from 1991?
"It's my partner," she said sadly. "My lover, my husband."
I stared at the body underneath the sheet.
"It was our files. I had hoped he never would reopen them," she continued, taking out a pack of cigarettes from her pocket. I didn't have to look at the brand. She lit it up casually, contaminating the room. "I warned him not to, before I left the first time. Or else he would have found out how long this has been going on."
Amber on Tangier Sound. That was my last autopsy. Tangled and waterlogged. Is that who this was? All I could do was stare at the figure lying ghostly before me. Fear paralyzed me.
Wait. How long has what been going on?
"He trusts me," she continued, walking around the table slowly. "He puts all his faith in his partner. Isn't that what they train us to do? Instead of trusting your gut instincts. But that's what you do. No matter how much you want to believe in Mulder's theories, you can't. I did. Perhaps I was too eager to believe. But all I wanted was to protect the work."
I nodded mutely. Walking slowly towards the body. I've done hundred of autopsies, there's nothing to be afraid of. Yet I was scared.
"Even now, you don't know where his loyalty lies, do you?" she asked, coming back to stand at my side. "You thought you did."
"I will soon," I said, staring back at her dark eyes. They narrowed at me. I had taken her place by his side, in more ways than one. "And so will you."
"I think you might be too late," Diana Fowley answered, shaking her head. Then she smiled. "Go ahead, pull back the sheet."
Beneath the crisp whiteness of the sheet, I saw the outline of the face. And I clenched my fingers tightly to keep them from trembling.
"You know, I've been there all along with you both," she whispered, moving closer to my ear. "It wasn't until that Gibson Praise case that I had to intervene. You both were getting too close. And what's the number up to now? I've lost count."
"Mulder knows," I replied, letting the image blur in front of me. A white blur. Like snow. A perception of snow in front of me.
"Let's ask him," she said, reaching over me to the edge of the sheet. "It's your time now, Scully. To find out the truth. Isn't that what you came here to do?"
I wanted to run. I wanted to be as far way from that room as possible. Away from her. Away from the past I was not a part of. Only the future. If I can just stay focused on the future.
Diana Fowley threw back the sheet and I screamed. But my voice was drowned out by something louder. Something piercing and whirling. Mulder sat straight up on the autopsy bed, his skin pale, his eyes dead. But he reached for me. Grabbed me. Shaking my shoulder harder and harder.
"No!" I screamed back.
"You have to wake up!" he yelled back and I closed my eyes tighter. "C'mon!"
The sound got louder, like engines. No. Helicopters?
"Scully!" Mulder screamed, shaking me again. My eyes snapped open and he was in front of me. I clutched at his shoulders, fingernails scraping the fabric of his shirt.
"Mulder!" I said, feeling tears on my cheeks.
"They're coming!" came another voice and I turned my head to see Marita standing at the top of the stairs. She was trembling as she tried to descend the staircase. Suddenly, I remembered where I was. The cabin. Dr. Rodan's cabin. It should be nighttime, but instead the windows were flooded with light. Pale and searing and white.
"Who's coming?" Mulder shouted, pulling me up by the arm. I struggled to get on my feet, grabbing my shoes I'd left beside the couch.
"They must have followed you," Marita cried accusingly, making her way down. "Damn it, they followed you!"
"We're surrounded," Mulder called, as I reached for my gun.
There was another loud sound, and I started to cough. There was smoke coming in from the fireplace. Under the door. Everywhere it was permeating the cabin. A smell. Something familiar. It was chemical gas.
"There's a way out through the cellar," Marita said, grasping onto us for support.
Mulder pulled the neckline of his shirt up, covering his nose and mouth and I did the same. Trying desperately not to breath in the fumes rising all around us.
Already, it was becoming hard to walk. Especially with Marita between us to carry. She felt like dead weight and she started to slip through my arms. Falling downward.
The door flung open as we rounded the corner. Men in contamination suits rushed in, carrying extinguishers as they blasted the air and us with another chemical. It burned my nostrils and throat.
But Mulder kept moving, shifting to support Marita on one side and me on the other. His efforts were in vain.
"Who are you?" Mulder screamed, trying to drag us both. But there were men everywhere. One grabbed me, tearing me away from Mulder's arm. I tried to raise my gun to shoot, but I couldn't feel my fingers. They weren't moving anymore.
"Dr. Rodan?" Marita cried, from where she was lying on the floor. A man huddled over her, trying to pull her up. She clawed at the mask, but then she collapsed.
"It's time, Marita," he said, as she slipped into unconsciousness. "Thank you for keeping them here."
"Keeping who here?" Mulder shouted, struggling violently with the men restraining him. "Scully!"
I fell back into the arms of the man holding me and he lowered me to the ground. Pulling me down, downward, down. My eyes fluttered open and it wasn't a man at all. It was a woman.
"Fowley?" I asked, as the image blurred in front of me. She smiled.
Bartlett Regional Hospital
Three days later
A.D. Skinner was sitting beside my bed. I had absolutely no idea how long he'd been there. I opened my eyes to find him perched on a straight back chair.
"Agent Scully," he said, leaning forward.
"Sir?" I asked sleepily. The room was white and it slowly came into view. "Where am I?"
"Hospital in Juneau," he replied, adjusting his glasses. "Do you remember where you are?"
I fell back against the pillow. Trying to focus. What am I doing in Juneau? That's not where Mulder took us...it was somewhere else in Alaska, wasn't it?
"You may not remember much. You were under the effects of a psychotomimetic agent, leaving you prone to hallucination," Skinner said, taking a deep breath. "Phenecyclidine, I think."
Phenecyclidine had both analgesic and anaesthetic properties. Symptoms such as disturbed body-awareness, disorientation and vivid dreams, my mind recited from a lecture or something long ago.
"How did you find me, sir?" I whispered, my voice sounding hoarse. I was thirsty and I wetted my lips instinctually.
"This," he said, pulling out a small videotape. "Evidence of you and Agent Mulder in a hotel in Nome. And then I got a call last night from this hospital."
"Diana," I said, fighting to remember. "What about Diana Fowley?"
Skinner looked at me, confused by what I was saying. "You and Agent Mulder were brought to his hospital. Looked like you'd had an accident out on the Tongass National Forest. Your vehicle was overturned and you both were found inside."
"That's not how it happened," I replied, shaking my head. No. Not at all. There was a cabin. Diana Fowley was there. No. Marita. Marita Covarrubias. It was Marita we found, wasn't it?
"I was beginning to worry when you both didn't show up for work on Monday," Skinner said, frowning slightly. "Then I got this in the mail, dated Saturday early morning. I guess I don't have to tell you what's on it."
I pressed my lips together. Dear God, how did that happen? We were so careful. We were always so careful.
"From what I can piece together, you both slept in late Saturday then headed out. They estimate the accident occurred that night. Agent Mulder's watch had stopped on..."
"Mulder?" I said, trying to sit up. I was in a double room and the bed next to mine was empty. The sheets stripped down as if someone had been there. "Where is he?"
"Down the hall," Skinner said, putting his hand out to keep me from getting out of bed. "Let me get the doctor."
I stopped, letting him move towards the door. Watching him go.
No. It wasn't a hallucination. I knew where we'd been. What we'd seen. A cabin. In Nome. Marita Covarrubias. She told us everything. Then I was walking down a corridor. A long corridor.
I threw the cover away, moving toward the door. The floor of the hospital was freezing against my bare feet. Cold. Like that hotel room. Don't the thermostats work here in Alaska? They hadn't even turned it on, I did. I actually had to turn on the heater. I remembered doing that.
He was walking in the opposite direction, towards the nurse's station. I padded out into the hallway, peering into rooms one by one. Where was Mulder?
I passed a door marked Pathology and I stopped cold. Shaking uncontrollably. It was the same freaking door, wasn't it? Autopsy. Didn't I do an autopsy? I felt tears welling up in my eyes.
"Where am I?" I asked, letting my hand run across the engraved letters. Blue sign with white letters. Was I still dreaming? Please let me still be dreaming.
"Excuse me," asked a voice behind me. A hand reached out and touched my shoulder. It was a nurse, dressed in blue scrubs. I stared at her name badge. "Do you need help."
"Yes," I said, swallowing back tears. I brushed them angrily away. "I'm looking for the man brought here with me. Fox Mulder?"
"Mr. Mulder is two doors down," she said, pulling me away from Pathology. Guiding me. "Right down here. Room 819."
I stood in front of the door, peering through the darkened glass. To the figure lying on the bed. His head was turned to one side, looking away from me and I couldn't tell if he was awake or not.
I pushed the door open and walked inside. His skin was pale like the dream, but he was breathing. Alive.
"Mulder?" I called, sitting beside him on the bed.
He turned his head, he was hooked to oxygen. "Scully."
I reached for his hand, clutching it tightly with mine. "How long have you been awake?"
"I don't know," he replied, sleepily. "An hour? Maybe two."
"He needs to rest," said Skinner. I turned and saw him standing in the door. His tall form blocking the light. "And so do you, Scully."
"Can you tell me what happened to him?" I asked, pleading with Skinner.
"I told you what happened to him. To you both," Skinner said, stepping into the room, his hands on his hips. "You were found by Tongass National Forest in your all-terrain vehicle."
Jesus, I thought. That's not how it happened.
Mulder looked over at Skinner, then back at me. As if waiting for me to say something.
"You better get back to your room," Skinner said, motioning for me to join him. His voice shifted. It was calm and gentle. Persuasive. "They've paged the doctor, he'll be here soon. You can ask him all the questions you want later."
No, I thought. That's not how it happened. Mulder will confirm my story. We were in Nome. Looking for Dr. Rodan. Instead we found Marita. Damn it. And then they came. Someone followed us. They knew where we'd be. There's a cabin. On a gravel road. Someone has to believe me.
"I believe you," Mulder answered, rolling his head back to face me. His hand squeezed mine tighter.
"What did I say?" I asked, knowing I didn't just speak it out loud.
"You said someone has to believe me," he replied, looking over at me with complete conviction. "I heard you."
I nodded mutely. Maybe I did speak it aloud. I was in no state of mind to think clearly. Phenecyclidine, that's what Skinner said.
"C'mon," Skinner said, reaching for me. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders. "We can discuss it later. You need to lie down."
He pulled me up gently, but Mulder held onto my hand until the last possible minute. Then we were separated.
"I believe you," he repeated, before drifting away from me.
"What do you mean, Frohike?" Mulder said angrily. "You gave me the directions to Teller. Online! And you're telling me you can't provide a copy of them?"
I sat in the middle of Mulder's couch, listening to his conversation. We were both off duty until next week. Now that Skinner knew about us, in full VHS color, it didn't matter where the hell I was spending my time. I could recover at his apartment just as well as I could my own.
"Well, if it wasn't you, then who was it?" he asked, tone softening a bit.
It took a couple days for the drug to wear off. Its effects made it impossible to think clearly and I was second-guessing everything that happened. Which I supposed is what they wanted. I couldn't trust myself or Mulder to recall any details clearly. So we were retracing our steps, trying to verify our whereabouts.
"Okay, okay. I'm sorry," he continued. "It's just that...yes, I know."
We lost three days. That was something that couldn't be disputed. Not even by Skinner. Another abduction. This time for us both.
"I'd appreciate it," Mulder said. "We'll see you tomorrow."
In our absence, Amber's brain analysis had come back. It showed no abnormalities that weren't present on previous scans. Being post mortem, it was a long shot anything new might have surfaced anyway. I sighed and leaned back.
Mulder sat down beside me, mimicking my posture as we both reclined and stared at the ceiling. It rippled color from the reflection of the fish tank.
"Like a mini-aurora," I whispered, seeing the lights dance. "But not as lucky."
"Right here in my living room, just for you," Mulder replied, nudging my leg.
"What did Frohike say?" I asked, wanting to know the other side of the conversation.
Mulder took a deep breath, closing his eyes. He was probably having another headache. He'd been having several since we came back, most likely a side effect of the drug.
"He said he never spoke with me online," he answered. "I have no reason not to believe him, Scully."
"I know," I said. Frohike had been there all along for us. He would never lie about something this important. "Someone must have lead us there to the cabin. Wanted us to find Marita."
"Or wanted to get us up there. Isolated. Who knows where they took us," Mulder said. "I think you were right, Scully."
"About what?" I asked, shifting over to look at him. Prostrate and still beside me. My hand reached out and brushed a lock from his forehead. He smiled at the touch. But then it faded.
"It's time to let this go. At least for now," he said, opening his eyes to meet my gaze. "I have no other resources to use. No more files left to explore."
I nodded. Wouldn't be the first time we'd arrived at this same spot. With nothing to show for our efforts. No one to believe our story.
"We'll wait it out. Concentrate on getting back to work and see what happens," I whispered. We had nothing left to lose. Except each other at this point.
Something I was not prepared to let happen. The future was all I was focusing on now.