Title: Devil's Advocate II
Descent Into Hell
Authors: Vickie Moseley (email@example.com) & Susan Proto
Completed: May, 2001
Category: X-file, MSR, MT
Summary: Mulder's involvement in a case may be his undoing.
Archive: IMTP for the first two weeks, then MTA, the
Garden, the Pyramid, Ephemeral, Gossamer, and any other
site that has received prior written permission. All
others, please contact the authors.
Disclaimer: Mulder & Scully as well as all other
recognizable character references belong to Chris Carter,
Ten Thirteen Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox
Television. They are used here without permission. No
copyright infringement is intended. Unrecognized characters
belong to the authors.
Author's Notes: This was written for I Made This!
Productions as one of the episodes of Virtual Season 9.
IMTP can be found at http://www.i-made-this.com/.
Thanks to our Beta-Readers, Mary, Dawn, and Sally, for
their wonderful cyberEyes for detail.
Devil's Advocate 2
Descent Into Hell
By Vickie Moseley
& Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)
Mendel Gottesman Library of Hebraica/Judaica
Yeshiva University Main Center
New York, New York
Long, dark red tendrils poured over the dusty texts
on the table. Ringed fingers turned pages and took
notes. Finally, the pencil was placed on the table
and fingers clenched into one another to crack tired
She stood up and tried to stretch her back muscles,
but all she felt was a slight crack of her vertebrae.
"Better than nothing," she sighed in tired relief.
She quickly took another glance at the clock and
realized time was definitely not on her side today.
She wanted desperately to find the documentation she
sought, but she also knew the likely odds of that
happening were about zero to none. The holiday would
be upon her before she knew it, and Deborah, her best
friend, spiritual sister, and surrogate 'brother's
keeper' all rolled up into one, would be there any
second to try to whisk her away from her beloved
Beth Stein sighed with frustration as Deborah Rubin
appeared at the doorway to her small study room.
"Yes, Deborah, I'm almost done. I just need to find
a few more citations, and then I'll be good to go,"
she tried to convince.
"Beth, you blew off your 8:00 class, and for what?
For this stupid obsession of yours that's not ever
going to be looked at by one of our professors. Most
of them would probably laugh you right out of school!
And knowing you, you were planning on blowing off our
10:00 class too, weren't you?" When she received no
reply, Deborah knew her hunch was correct. She
looked at her friend with annoyance and said, "I
don't understand why you're wasting your time on
Beth cringed slightly as she knew what was coming.
It was lecture #457 on the futility of studying about
the strange mystical subtexts of Judaism. Deborah
claimed it was a waste of time and money, not to
mention heretic, for anyone to even consider that the
Torah actually promoted Beth's current obsession of
the month, exorcism in Judaic practices.
"Deb, please, don't start..."
"Don't start what, Beth? Trying to talk some sense
into you? Your parents are paying good money for
you to come here, my friend. What do you think
they'd say if they knew you were spending all of your
time in here reading about this... this craziness?
You're really going to risk your parents' wrath just
to learn about 'dibbukim' and exorcisms? Why? What
can you possibly hope to accomplish?"
Deborah's diatribe was well rehearsed; Beth had heard
these same words and then some, many times over the
last several weeks, ever since Deborah had heard of
her best friend's latest preoccupation. Beth's
fascination with Jewish Mysticism and the Kabbalah
had actually begun during the early months of summer.
"Look, I have a 10:00 class which I don't plan on
being late for. I'll meet you back at the dorm,"
"What time does the residence hall close down today?"
Beth asked wearily. She'd been working on the
research since the library opened early that morning
knowing her time would be limited due to the
"1:00, Girlfriend, and from the look of things,
you're nowhere near ready to beat that deadline, are
you?" Deborah asked, exasperated.
"Well, I was kind of counting on a certain best
friend to drive my car over and pick up both our bags
after her 10:00 class was over, since she had to go
back and pick up her own bag anyway?" Beth
questioned while attempting her most winsome look.
However, it was met by an expression of total
"I don't understand you," Deborah said shaking her
"Deborah, please, I don't have time for--" she
pleaded, but Deborah would have nothing of it.
"You don't have time? For what, Beth? You can't
possibly think you're going to discover all the
mysteries of the universe before Kol Nidre Services
tonight, can you? If we're not sitting in that
synagogue, next to each of our parents at 6:24
tonight, I... I... I don't know what will happen."
"Listen, can we please put this little debate of ours
on hold? Look, I'll meet you outside of the library
when your class is over," bargained Beth.
Deborah shook her head in resignation. Beth had done
it to her again; the grand manipulator did the deed
once more. All Deborah could do was throw her hands
up in defeat and say, "Be outside waiting for me, or
I won't even let my dread of driving the Hutchinson
River Parkway stop me from taking off without you,
Stein. Got that?"
"Got it," she replied with a smile.
"I'm serious, Beth. If you're not out there, I'm
leaving. I won't come in and look for you either;
I'm just taking off."
"I got it, I got it," she replied. "And if I'm not
there, just go. I'll take the train home if I get
hung up," she added.
"Fine, just fine," the tall brunette responded,
standing in a rigid posture. Today wasn't the first
time she and her best friend had this debate, but it
was the first time Deborah had ever felt that angry
about it. There was an ominous feeling of dread in
the air, and Deborah was sensing every molecule of
it. Suddenly she felt herself shudder from a cold
draft that seemed to blow right through her. She
looked at her best friend and pleaded, "Please, Beth,
be outside when I get here, or I will leave. I won't
wait for you because of... of this foolish fixation
"I told you it's okay for you to go if I'm not there.
Don't worry. I actually understand," she insisted,
and then added just as Deborah turned to leave, "Love
you too, Deb."
"Yeah, yeah," she waved her hand in response as well.
Beth resumed her tedious research as she read the
ancient, scholarly texts. She read with fascination
the stories of exorcism in the Talmudic literature.
Rabbi Simon ben Yochai was just one such storyteller,
one of the most famous, who lived in the second
century of the Common Era. She poured over one of
the reference sources, a collection of sermons from
the text 'Beth Midrash.'
She read on, dealing with the translations as only a
scholar could, oblivious to the fact that time as
she knew it had just stopped.
New York Regional Office
Scully hung up the phone and chewed on her lip. Tom
Alexander was dead. Tom Alexander, same age as her
partner, was dead. And with all the possible horrors
an agent in the FBI faced every day, he was dead from
a car accident. It shook her to the core.
She felt a little guilty that her very next thought
was how Tom's death was affecting Mulder. She'd met
Tom only once, at a budget meeting. She remembered
how Mulder and he had talked, exchanged a joke and
then the meeting was called to order and the fun
times ended quickly. Mulder hadn't told her then
that he and Tom had been roommates at Quantico, but
that didn't bother her. As far as she knew, Mulder
didn't know whom she had roomed with either. But it
indicated how close Tom was to Mulder. A closeness
that she'd subconsciously relied on when Mulder said
he was going off to Biloxi to work on this case.
She knew why she couldn't be with him on this one.
He was working in a consulting position. She had to
wait to be asked, and so far the team hadn't needed
another pathologist. So, as Mulder had requested,
she'd stayed behind. But in the back of her mind,
she'd been relieved that Mulder had a friend with
him, even if that friend was the special agent in
charge. She could relax a little, go about her work
in the office, secure in the knowledge that if things
got too bad, someone could take care of her partner
until she could get there herself. Tom was her
safety net as much as he was Mulder's.
She never counted on that safety net suddenly being
She sat in stunned silence for a moment. All around
her, agents were getting coffee, settling in for
another workday. The thought washed over her like a
wave from the ocean. It wasn't a vision, just a
feeling that left her cold and shaking slightly.
Mulder was alone. All alone and hurting. He needed
her, now, immediately. She had to get down to
Biloxi. She had to get on a plane as quickly as
possible. She reached across the desk and grabbed
the heavy New York Yellow Pages, flipping quickly to
There was no need to go by her motel room; her bags
were packed and sitting by the desk. She grabbed
them, hoisting them to her shoulder and pulling out
her cell phone as she walked toward the elevator.
She placed a quick call to Monsey to inform Reuven
Steiger that exhuming the body of Rebbe Zimmerman was
not going to produce the revelation she and the task
force had hoped.
She had awakened with the decision to call Mr.
Steiger that very morning to cancel their meeting and
Tom's death just cemented her resolve. Now she had
to get down to Biloxi and be with her partner. She
had no doubt that Tom's death would shatter Mulder,
and that took priority.
The line at the ticket counter was five people deep.
She thought she'd never get to the counter and when
she did it wasn't much better.
"A three hour lay over in Atlanta?" Scully cried in
exasperation. "Surely you have a direct flight to
Biloxi. Maybe into New Orleans and I can catch a
connecting flight, something that will get me there
faster," she encouraged the woman with dark hair and
a pleasant smile.
"There are two direct flights, Agent Scully," the
woman assured her. "The first one departed at 7:25
this morning, so you're an hour late for that one.
The second one departs at 12:15, but that would put
you in Biloxi--"
"Later than the flight with the stop over," Scully
sighed in resignation. "OK, I'll take the flight
that leaves in 20 minutes with the layover. But
upgrade that ticket. I'll be flying first class."
First class was not everything it was cracked up to
be, she decided as she stared down at her cut glass
bowl of canned 'fresh fruit' and gleaming silverware
setting on a white cloth napkin. She glanced over at
the empty seat next to her. Maybe she should have
just followed her instincts and gone down with Mulder
to Biloxi in the first place. But he'd made it clear
that wasn't what he wanted.
In many ways, Mulder reminded her time and again of
her father. Strong in his beliefs, committed to his
path, even to the point of stepping outside the
lines. Her father had retired a captain, and that
was a source of pride, but after his death, some of
the stories that his old buddies had told about his
exploits at sea were enough to give her mother a few
more gray hairs. Her father had even had his run-ins
with authority, and was demoted or passed over for
promotion a couple of times for decisions he'd made.
So much like Mulder. She wished they'd had a chance
to meet. She closed her eyes and let the sounds of
the air conditioning lull her to sleep.
She woke up a few moments later and turned toward the
empty seat next to her. To her utter surprise, her
father was sitting there, reading the airline
"Daddy?" she asked, wiping sleep from her eyes.
"Starbuck, watch out for him," her father said, not
even bothering to take his eyes from the page. "He's
Even in her confusion over seeing her long dead
father, she understood what he meant. "Daddy, I
trust Mulder. I love him. And he's not dangerous,
not to me."
"Starbuck, don't believe his lies. Search out the
man you know and help him back."
"Daddy, I don't understand! What are you talking
about? Are you talking about this case? What do you
mean?" But when she blinked and looked at the seat
again, it was empty. A steward was standing in the
aisle with the beverage cart, a cup with ice in his
"Would you care for a drink, Agent? You look like
you've seen a ghost! Are you all right?"
Scully shook her head to clear the hallucination.
"No, I'm fine," she said shakily. As the steward
moved up the aisle, she thought better of her hasty
decision. "I think I'd like a glass of water, no
ice," she corrected herself. The young man handed
her a bottle of Aquafina and a glass and moved on to
the next passenger.
When they landed in Atlanta, Scully reached into her
pocket and pulled out her cellphone. Mulder's cell
rang three times before his voice mail picked up. He
either turned it off or the battery had run out
again. She tried to calm her voice as she told him
to call her back immediately, that she was on her way
but stranded in Atlanta for a couple of hours. She
remembered then that she'd never gotten the number
for the motel where he was staying. When she called
the Biloxi office, the tearful secretary informed her
that she hadn't seen Agent Mulder or Agent Andrews
yet that morning and assumed they were either still
at the hospital or at their motel.
Her anxiety only increased the longer she waited. On
the television in the passenger lounge, CNN reported
that the head of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit,
Special Agent Thomas Alexander, 39, of Gaithersburg,
Maryland had been killed in a car accident. The
report said that Special Agent Alexander was working
on a case of a murdered Baptist minister in Biloxi
when his car was struck head on by a 18-wheeler.
The driver of the truck had a blood alcohol level of
2.1, though family members claimed he'd never taken a
drink in his life. The reporter said the FBI would
not confirm or deny reports that militant white
extremists were suspected of committing the murder
Agent Alexander had been investigating, only saying
the investigation was ongoing.
Scully watched intently, hoping for a glimpse of
Mulder, but the filmed report centered on the scene
of the accident. The crash was head on, and from the
looks of it, neither driver had a chance to swerve
because their line of sight was obstructed by a curve
in the road. The picture of Tom was the same one
she'd seen in the FBI newsletter at the time of his
appointment as head of BSU.
As soon as the report ended, her anxiety returned
tenfold. In nervous desperation, Scully set off in
search of a Starbucks stall. Along the way, she
passed a magazine and newspaper stall sporting a
display of David's sunflower seeds. She reached into
her coat pocket for some change and bought a package.
Somehow, just the weight of the bag of seeds in her
pocket made her feel a little better.
By the time she finally found her coffee and added a
muffin because she'd missed breakfast in her haste to
check out of the motel, she heard the boarding call
for her flight and hurried back to the gate. She
remembered to switch off her cell phone just as the
flight attendant was closing the door to the plane.
Dazed, Mulder walked toward the line of waiting
yellow cabs. It was early evening, and he realized
quickly that it was all for naught. He was too late.
It had happened already, though for the life of him
he couldn't figure out how.
He motioned to the dispatcher he needed a cab, and
the dispatcher asked him where he was going.
"The school," he said in almost a whisper.
The dispatcher strained to hear him and asked
sarcastically, "Sure. You're in New York City and you
want to go to THE school. Listen Mistah, we got
ourselves about a million schools in town; ya think
ya could be a little more specific?"
"The university," Mulder offered, his expression
showing an anxiety that barely reflected what he was
The dispatcher however finally picked up on the
distressed appearance of the potential passenger and
asked him, "Hey, Mistah, you okay? I mean, maybe you
need to see a doctor, or go to the emergency room?"
"NO!" Mulder responded emphatically. "No," he
repeated with more restraint, "I need to go to the
"Which one? City University? New York University?
Hofstra University? C'mon Mistah, ya gotta give me
something to work with here."
"No, not those. The Yeshiva. Yeshiva University,"
Mulder uttered softly.
"Ya know where? There's a lot of parts to that
University, ya know," the dispatcher stated.
"The library?" he replied hopefully.
"Well, that's a start. Hold on," he said as he
whistled for the next cab to move up to its rightful
place. "Hank here knows the city like the back of
his hand. Maybe he can figure out where ya need to
The next cab moved up, but before Mulder could enter
the car, the dispatcher knelt down and spoke directly
with the cabby.
"Listen, Hank, this guy, he don't look too good, but
I'm pretty sure he's harmless. Says he needs to go
to the library at Yeshiva University, but if he
starts getting a little goofy on you, drop him off at
the nearest ER and run like hell."
"Gee, thanks, Gabe," replied Hank with sarcastic
affection, "Ya always find me the most interesting
"Get out of here, man, ya costing me money," retorted
Gabe in kind.
Mulder entered the cab and when Hank asked him where
to, he replied, once again, "Yeshiva University, the
"Yeah, well, there's a few of those, ya know?
There's the Law Library, and the Medical Library, and
the General Studies Library, and then of course since
it's Yeshiva University there's the one that's just
for Jewish stuff."
"That one," Mulder replied quickly. "The library
that they use for researching Judaic history."
"Okay," said Hank, "Now we're getting somewhere.
That's on Amsterdam Avenue." Then as an afterthought
having taken in his passenger's rather haggard and
disheveled appearance, he asked, "Look, that's gonna
set you back around twenty bucks. Can you cover
Mulder silently thanked Scully for teaching him to
always carry an emergency twenty in his wallet and
pulled it out. He waved it so Hank could see it
through his rearview mirror and said, "Got it
Hank nodded and began to drive. Rush hour added
several minutes to the normally fifteen minute drive,
and by the time Hank dropped off Mulder in front of
the Mendel Gottesman Library of Hebraic/Judaica, it
was well after 6 p.m.
"Don't look like the place is open, does it?"
Mulder passed the twenty plus a few singles through
the little window to cover the $19 dollar fee. As he
left the cab, however, Hank couldn't help but ask,
"Hey, Mister? You sure you're okay? I mean, ya
really don't look too good."
"I'm fine," Mulder replied hurriedly but he then
turned to the cabby and really looked at him. He
gave him a sad smile and said earnestly, "But thanks,
Hank nodded in acknowledgment and wondered what the
guy's story really was, but time was money and he had
to get back on the streets to make some. He shook
his head and left the haggard looking man standing on
Mulder walked right up to the main entrance and
quickly realized that the cabby was correct; the
library was obviously closed. He felt like smacking
himself in the head; it was the beginning of Yom
Kippur tonight, so of course the campus would close
down early today.
He walked around to the side of the building and
looked for another entrance. As he approached a
door, suddenly an image flashed in his mind's eye.
"Oh, dear God!" he cried out. The flash of light
combined with a burning sensation in his chest caused
Mulder to feel almost faint. "Don't! Please, don't!"
he cried out, and though Mulder knew it was in vain,
he felt the urgency to get into the building to try
to stop what ever horror he was envisioning.
He pulled his weapon out of its holster and used the
handle to break open the small window in the door.
Mulder momentarily wondered if he triggered an alarm,
but he knew it was a chance he had to take. He
reached in to pull at the door handle, and though he
tried to be careful, his hand still managed to make
contact with the shards left in the window.
The pain in his hand surprised him for a second, but
it didn't stop him from opening the door and
entering. As if now in possession of radar, he
followed a path that led directly to the small,
individual row of study rooms leaving his own red
stained path behind him. As he approached room 'B,'
Mulder suddenly lurched forward as if in pain.
"Oh, sweet God," he gasped out as he reached the
closed door. It was almost as if a hole was bored
through the thick, soundproof door, when he saw
flashes of dark, auburn hair cascading over a
contorted mouth. Though he listened carefully, there
was nothing more than silent screams. Her eyes
looked on with a horrified sense of belief, but they
held little in the way of acceptance. She was not
ready for her heart to stop beating; she was not
ready to meet her end.
But the stream of piercing light dissected the air
and aimed straight for her heart. Her hands flew up
in defense, with her beloved 'Sefer ha-Razim' held
firmly between them.
She fought valiantly, much harder than the others,
which had impressed him enormously. She was most
certainly his most formidable challenge to date. The
young student struggled for every breath, for every
heartbeat, for every bit of strength her soul could
There was but one last thing she could do to beat the
fallen angel; it was what God had taught her to do
through all of His teachings.
She forgave him.
And then she died.
The flight was uneventful and not even that crowded.
The small commuter plane actually landed in Biloxi at
3:30 p.m., Central time. Scully rented a car. Her second
call to the Biloxi FBI office was somewhat more
successful than her first. Agent Andrews had called
in about 9:30 a.m. from his motel, saying that he and
Agent Mulder would be working there for the morning,
but would be attending the task force meeting
scheduled for 4 p.m. Scully thanked the woman and
asked for directions to the motel.
It never ceased to amaze Scully that any mutant,
conspirator, or just plain criminal always managed to
get access to their motel rooms, but whenever she
needed access, it was close to impossible. Once she
had the number, she'd called Mulder's room
repeatedly, and in desperation even called Agent
Andrew's room. No answer in either location. When
she'd arrived at the motel, she went straight to the
desk clerk. A young woman who looked barely old
enough to have a work permit greeted her with
headphones and at least three sticks of bubble gum
snapping around the silver stud in the middle of her
"Sorry, if he's not there, I can't let you in," she
said with a quick smile and went back to tapping her
inch long fake nails in time to the music in her
Scully bit her lip and pulled out her identification.
"I'm an FBI agent, the man in question is my partner
and I need to locate him--immediately! Now, if you
will please contact your manager, I'll be happy to
explain to him that you impeded a Federal
investigation by not giving me a card key to my
partner's room," Scully seethed through clenched
The girl chewed her gum for a minute, then shrugged
and ran a plastic card through the machine next to
the computer on the desk. "Hey, no skin off my ass,"
she said pleasantly. "Have a nice day," she added as
she handed Scully the card in a small folder with the
room number on the outside.
"I don't think that's possible," Scully assured the
girl grimly and went off in search of room 246.
Scully made a perfunctory knock on the door, although
she knew it was futile. Even if Mulder was in the
room, if he wasn't answering the phone, he wouldn't
answer the door. She half expected to find him
single-mindedly hunched over the small table, yellow
legal pads covering not just the Formica top, but
every horizontal surface in the room. He would be
scribbling frantically, his hair standing straight up
in places where his fingers had raked through it too
many times to count. He would be wearing whatever
he'd had on the day before, if he'd bothered to
change the day before, that is.
The room would smell like sweat socks and dirty
underwear because he would shoo away the maid if she
came to the door and would post the 'do not disturb'
sign if he left. If he'd acknowledged his hunger at
some point, there'd be a waste can filled with empty
vending machine packages of Cheetos or Nacho Cheese
Doritos. If he'd hit the jackpot in the hunger
department, there might be an empty pizza box propped
against the waste can, but she doubted that. She was
the one who usually ordered the pizzas.
The card key was tricky and it took a couple of
tries. Finally, the little button glowed green, and
she opened the door with a click. The room was pitch
dark; the drapes were drawn. It was hotter than she
expected; he must have turned up the heat. She
worried about that, it usually meant he'd been having
the chills, coming down with something. He wasn't a
kid anymore, something she knew he was avoiding with
a passion. He couldn't keep the hours he'd kept when
he was 28, not without paying a price.
"Mulder," she called out. The emptiness of the room
echoed back at her. She fumbled on the wall,
searching for the light switch. It flipped up with a
click and a standing floor lamp on the far side of
the room struggled to push back the darkness.
Scully gasped as she took in the sight. If she'd
just walked in on the room, without knowing the
occupant as well as she did, she would have dialed
911 and cordoned off the hallway.
The room was a shambles. A broken lamp lay next to
the bed stand that it once sat upon. The phone cord
was pulled from the wall, its cord reaching
pleadingly toward the socket but not quite reaching.
The phone itself was lying in the middle of the bed,
along with a mass of scraps of paper, many torn and
crumpled into balls. The table was covered with
empty cardboard backs to legal pads. A couple of
broken pencils crunched beneath her feet as she
walked across the floor.
She searched the room for any sign of his presence.
His garment bag hung in the closet; his suitcase lay
open on the floor. The paper wrapper from a dress
shirt was adorning the remaining lamp on the side of
the bed closest to her. He hadn't gone very far.
He'd left his clothes.
She pulled open the dresser drawers. She was shocked
to find his running shoes in the top drawer. She'd
griped at him for years to put his shoes somewhere
that he wouldn't trip over them in the middle of the
night, and miraculously, she had finally gotten
through to him. But aside from a Gideon's Bible and
some sheets of motel stationary, there was nothing
else in the drawers.
She sighed and decided to check the bathroom, just in
case. She knew Mulder wasn't there, hadn't been
there for a couple of hours, but maybe he'd left a
clue. She was about to flip the light to the
bathroom when her cell phone rang, startling her.
She answered it with one hand as she turned and hit
the switch, flooding the small room with light.
The sight that greeted her made her stomach drop to
the floor. Black markings, made by some sort of
marker, covered the mirror, the shower curtain, even
extending to the shower enclosure.
When Skinner had hung up the phone with Kenny, he'd
immediately tried to contact Scully, but she was
apparently out of cell range. He knew it would have
been best for her to meet him at the plane in New
York, but he knew that was now unlikely. So it would
have to be him by default, and he asked Kim to make a
reservation for him on the next available shuttle to
New York's LaGuardia Airport. He figured if the kid
could just stall Mulder, then he wouldn't be that far
behind them in arriving.
By the time he landed he had sensed that something
was very, very wrong. He had no practical, tangible
reason for feeling that way, but needless to say,
there was a sense of foreboding that caused him to
feel a bit nauseated. He made his way from the
shuttle and headed toward the exit signs that would
lead him toward the taxi stands. He never was one to
enjoy driving in New York traffic and was more than
happy to leave that to the professionals.
When he went down the escalator, he saw a large crowd
of emergency staff rushing toward an area that was
now cordoned off. He headed that way too, realizing
there was no other place he was supposed to be at
"Sir, I'm sorry, but this area is restricted," said a
New York City policeman.
"Yes, but I suspect that I have business here,"
Skinner said. He pulled out his identification badge
and immediately identified himself as an assistant
director with the FBI.
"Wow, you guys sure work fast," replied the officer
"I don't understand."
"We just found out the guy was a fibbie, and now,
here you are. That's pretty amazing," said the
officer with a hint of awe in his tone.
"He's an agent? What's his name?" asked Skinner
hoping to hide the anxiety form his voice.
"Andrews. Kenneth Andrews. Ya know him?"
Skinner realized it was totally unprofessional of
him, but the man let out a sigh of relief that it
wasn't Mulder. Of course now he had to deal with the
fact that it was Andrews, and there was no word as
yet on Mulder.
"Yes, I know him," Skinner replied as he brushed by
the officer. "Was there another agent with him?"
"Another agent?" echoed the officer. "No, Sir, we
found the man alone."
Skinner nodded and then kept flashing his badge as he
made his way to the younger man who lay on a gurney
getting ready for transport. "Agent Andrews?" called
the AD in a soft voice.
"Mul-der?" rasped Kenny.
"No, Agent, it's AD Skinner. How are you doing,
son?" he asked as he knelt by his side.
"Hurts. Where's Mul-der?"
"I'm not sure. Do you have any idea where he is?"
"Yes. No. Maybe."
"Well, that about covers it, doesn't it?" Skinner
said with a smile that Kenny responded to in kind.
"Sorry," he answered, "but I think I know. Too late.
He's too late, and it's not gonna stop him."
"Agent, what the hell are you talking about?" Skinner
asked slightly exasperated.
"Sorry," he said and then grimaced in pain as the men
lifted the gurney up to roll it to the ambulance.
Skinner asked for the name of the hospital, and when
the EMT responded, "Jamaica Hospital," the AD
informed the younger agent that he would see that his
family was contacted as soon as possible.
"Sir," Andrews gasped, "find him."
Skinner nodded and then looked at the young agent who
was now in obvious pain and shock. To anyone else's
ears, Agent Andrews plea would have sounded as one
that begged for justice and possibly even revenge.
After all, Andrews lost a lot of blood as was
evidenced by the large pool on the floor, so he had
good reason to feel that way, if that were the case.
Skinner knew better, however, and couldn't help but
wonder what really had happened, and where the hell
Skinner found himself in the chief of security's
office at the airport. It was a fact that Mulder was
on the flight with Andrews, but it was not yet
established that the two men ended up in the same
hallway in which Andrews was found lying unconscious
It didn't take too much cajoling on Skinner's part to
have any and all relevant surveillance tapes pulled
up and viewed by the investigators. It also did not
take as long as Skinner initially feared to find
evidence of Mulder's being near the scene of the
crime. In fact, since Andrews was found in a little
used corridor, there was no visual evidence of the
actual shooting, but there was tape of Mulder walking
in the main corridor nearby.
Though it was quite evident that several frames prior
Kenny was in the area. There was no hard evidence
that Mulder had anything to do with the shooting, yet
Skinner was certain that Mulder played a role in it.
He was equally as sure that Mulder was not a willing
participant, at least not in the commonly accepted
manner of speaking, but an active participant
"I need a hard copy of the photo of that man,"
"Is he our shooter?" asked the security chief.
"Did you see any evidence of him being the shooter?"
asked Skinner tersely.
"No, of course not, I was just wondering--" he
began, but then stopped and said, "I'll get the photo
Skinner acknowledged him and watched as he printed
out the hard copy of the missing agent.
He walked outside toward the taxi stand and pulled
out his cell phone to try Scully again. He needed
her here, damn it, and it was frustrating the hell
out of him not to be able to speak with her. When
he'd finally heard the ringing on the other end of
the line, he breathed a sigh of relief. The call was
connected, but he heard no voice.
"Scully? Are you there?" he demanded, loud enough
for her to hear it even though she hadn't placed the
phone to her ear.
Scully fumbled and brought the phone up as she leaned
over the counter and sink to look closer at the
markings. It was Mulder's handwriting; at least it
resembled Mulder's handwriting. But she was having a
hard time deciphering words. In some places, it
didn't even look like English, but some crude form of
a Middle Eastern alphabet.
"I'm here, I'm here," she mumbled into the phone.
"Oh, God, what happened?" she whispered, trying to
find anything in the scribbling that might give her a
clue, a direction in which to go.
"Scully, this is Skinner. I need you to get into the
city immediately. How long will it take to get from
"I'm not in Monsey," Scully said breathlessly, not
really even trying to focus on the conversation her
superior seemed intent on holding with her.
"Then where the hell are you? Kim said you requested
a voucher for a flight to Monsey. Are you back in
"No, I'm in Biloxi. Sir, Tom Alexander is dead,"
Scully said quietly, hoping that was enough of an
"I know, Scully," Skinner replied in a hushed voice.
"I heard early this morning. But something has come
up and I need you here in New York."
"Sir, in light of Tom's death, I think I should be
with Mulder. Tom and Mulder were roommates at the
Academy and his death will come as a big blow to
Mulder. Remember our conversation of the other day,"
she said bluntly.
"That's exactly what I'm talking about, Scully.
Mulder isn't in Biloxi. He's been sighted in New
York, at LaGuardia."
"Sighted? Sir, what do you mean 'sighted'? I've
been trying to reach him, but he doesn't seem to have
his cell phone on. Why would he go to New York
without telling me?"
"Scully, there's more to this. Agent Andrews is on
his way to Jamaica Hospital with a gunshot wound to
his shoulder. Scully, it looks like the shooter may
have been your partner."
She closed her eyes and leaned heavily against the
"Scully? I expected some sort of denial."
"Sir, I don't know what to say. I don't think Mulder
is capable of hurting anyone without cause,
especially Agent Andrews. I felt they were starting
a friendship. But sir, what I see here before me,
well, I just don't know. Sir, I can't say with
certainty that Mulder is in his right mind at the
Skinner snapped the phone shut and stood somewhat
dazed over Scully's closing words. As much as he
didn't want to believe it, he had come to the same
"Sir? Sir, you wanna cab?" asked the nearby voice.
"What?" Skinner responded, confused.
"Sir, do ya need a taxi?" Upon seeing a brisk nod of
the head, Gabe asked, "Where would you like to go?"
"Jamaica Hospital," replied Skinner.
As he waited for the taxi-stand captain to call up
the next cab in line, Skinner realized that in order
for Mulder to get anywhere he either would have had
to rent a car or grab a cab. He played a hunch and
asked, "Excuse me, but have you seen a man about six
foot one, hundred-seventy pounds? Thirty-nine years
old, good looking guy with a whole lot more hair than
"Hey, Mistah, ya gotta know I see a lot of guys that
fit that description," Gabe replied.
"Yes, I'm sure you do, but, well, this man might have
looked a little ill or upset, or both."
"A little crazy, maybe?" Gabe asked warily.
"Yeah, I may have seen him."
Skinner pulled out the surveillance photo and showed
it to the man. "Did he look like this?"
"Yeah, that's him. He needed to go to a university,
but he wasn't sure which one at first. Then, it was
weird, man, I mean it was almost like he was using
some kind of ESP to figure out which school he wanted
to go to."
"Where did he go?" asked Skinner with a hint of
irritation. He wanted the talkative man to cut to
the chase; there probably was little time to waste.
"I'm not sure. Wait a minute...Hank's next in line.
He's the driver who picked up your boy." Gabe
whistled for the next cab to drive up and asked,
"Hank, ya remember that guy who was a little bent out
of shape? The one who wanted to go to the library?"
When Hank nodded he asked, "Well, which one did you
end up driving him to?"
"Yeshiva University. Mendel Gottesman Library," Hank
answered. "He wanted the place where they had the
research on religion and stuff. Ya know?"
"Thank you. You've been a great help," Skinner said
and handed the captain a five dollar bill.
Gabe nodded his thanks and opened the door for the
tall, balding man.
Skinner climbed in and when asked the destination, he
was sorely tempted to say Yeshiva's Mendel Gottesman
Library. However he knew his place was first to tend
to the young agent in the hospital.
He pulled out his cellular and tried calling Scully
to give her the latest update, but her phone was out
of service again.
Next he called the New York Bureau office and
informed the head of VCU, Linda Harper, of the need
to check out the Yeshiva site. He went into a little
detail about the case Mulder and Andrews were working
and suggested that due to the death of Tom Alexander,
it might be best for her to meet him in person at the
site once he finished at the hospital.
She pushed for more details, specifically about
Mulder, but Skinner was able to honestly say he had
no further details at that time. He ended the
conversation and concentrated on what he needed to do
next regarding young Agent Andrews.
New York, NY
Mulder heard the voice but had difficulty placing it
with any familiar face. He tried to open his eyes,
but his eyelids felt like lead and simply wouldn't
cooperate. He felt someone jostling him and finally
pulling him to his feet.
"Mister? Hey Mister, are you okay?" asked the
unknown man from the medallion cab.
Mulder looked around and realized he was standing
outside of the library. He felt a pain in his hand
and noticed he was bleeding. He quickly pulled out a
handkerchief and wrapped it around the wound.
"Yeah, fine," he said hoarsely. He looked anything
but fine, but the cabby wasn't going to argue with
him. "Gotta go back," he muttered.
"Go back where?" the cabby asked.
"The airport," Mulder replied.
"Which one, Mistah? LaGuardia or Kennedy?"
"LaGuardia," he replied hoarsely. The cabby watched
as the haggard-looking man climbed in.
As if to make small talk, the cabby, who had
apparently seen everything in his experience of being
a New York cab driver, asked, "How's your hand?"
"Your hand. It was bleeding when I stopped and
picked you up."
Mulder looked down at his hand as if it belonged to
someone else. "It's fine." Mulder remained mute for
the next few minutes, so the driver put an AM news
station on to fill in the silence.
"...and it's traffic and weather together on the
eights. This is WCBS news, eight-eighty on your
dial. We've just received word that there was a
shooting at LaGuardia Airport earlier today. Here
with the details is reporter Jeff Kaplan. Jeff?"
"Harley, reports are that a special agent with the
FBI was found shot at LaGuardia Airport earlier
today. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital but his
condition is unknown at this time. When LaGuardia
Security Chief Jake Edwards, was pressed for
details, he said the FBI was already on the case.
Back to you, Harley."
"Thanks Jeff, I'm sure we'll be hearing more about
this situation as it unfolds."
"Shut it off," demanded Mulder in a tone that was
coarse and gritty.
"I said, shut it off."
"SHUT IT OFF!"
The cabby quickly shut the radio off and debated
whether he should drop this nutcase off at the
nearest emergency room. Of course, Mr. Nutcase
decided that for him.
"Please, go to the hospital!" Mulder pleaded in a
tone that was markedly less irritable than moments
before. In fact, this time he sounded regretful and
"You don't want to go to the airport?" clarified the
"No, please, I have to get to the hospital. I have
to see what I... Just take me to Jamaica Hospital
as quickly as possible, please."
And that's what he did. He drove the twenty-five
minutes and dropped him off. Next, he quickly pulled
the crumpled bills out of the small container built
into the Plexiglas panel that separated the passenger
section from the driver. Finally, he waited for the
man to climb out and watched as he slammed the door
shut. It was with a great deal of relief that the
cabby drove off and continued on his shift.
New York, NY
He entered through the hospital doors and knew he was
taking a chance. If anyone were really looking for
him, they would certainly have left word at the
hospital, wouldn't they?
First, he ducked quickly into the restroom to wash
the blood off of his hand. The bleeding had finally
stopped, so he was careful not to open up the clots.
Next, he rinsed his face and tried his best to fix
his disheveled appearance. Finally, he ran his
fingers through his hair as he looked at himself in
the mirror. Mulder hoped he looked at least somewhat
presentable. There was only one way to find out.
He approached the desk and asked for the room number
of Kenneth Andrews. The elderly woman looked kindly
at him and asked how the name was spelled, since she
didn't see it on the computer screen. Mulder
explained he was a new admittance, and perhaps he
wasn't formally admitted yet?
"Oh, you may have just hit the nail on the head,
young man," she replied kindly. "Was he admitted
through the emergency room?"
"Yes, ma'am," he replied in his most polite tone.
"Well, why don't I just call on over there and see if
they have the information?" Mulder nodded agreeably
and waited while she connected with the ER. He heard
her ask whether they recalled receiving a patient
named Andrews, Kenneth, and if he were admitted to
the hospital as of yet.
She looked a little puzzled and then asked, "They
want to know who is asking?"
Mulder nodded and pulled out his ID. "I'm an FBI
agent investigating the shooting," he said with
authority. He quickly put his case away before she
had a chance to read his name on the badge.
"He's an FBI agent, dear. Says he's investigating
After a few more, 'I sees' and a couple of more
'Reallys' as well as a number of 'Oh, dears,' the ER
receptionist apparently broke down and gave Mulder's
go-between the information that Andrews was in the
surgical ICU for the night.
"Thank you..." Mulder paused as he stopped to read
the name tag pinned to the light blue smock,
"Marion, thank you very much for your assistance.
You've been very kind," he smiled.
It didn't surprise him that there was a guard outside
of Andrews' cubicle. What did surprise him was his
ability to simply flash his ID and gain access to
Andrews without so much as a raised eyebrow. Mulder
wondered briefly why he was granted admittance so
quickly to an agent who'd been shot... of course, he
was also extremely relieved that he was allowed to
enter without a questioning glance.
Not that he wasn't grateful for small miracles. He
walked quietly into the room, observing silently the
unconscious man. He noted with a grimace the
monitors that beeped in metronome style, the life
affirming information about his heart, pulse, and
respiration. He observed with a memory all too
familiar with the discomfort of the IV tubes that
delivered antibiotics to stave off infection and
morphine to knock out the pain.
The kid looked like hell, and Mulder took full
responsibility for it. The older agent felt like
he'd aged ten years in the last couple of hours; he
stumbled slightly as he moved closer to the younger
agent and worried that he'd wake Andrews. First the
carnage at the university library and now this.
Mulder knew the truth about both events. It was his
inability to control 'It.' It was an inability to
maintain control over his own actions that led to the
young woman's death over at the Yeshiva, and of
course that made his shooting Kenny all the more
Mulder now knew the woman was long dead before he'd
even arrived at the airport. Why he felt the need to
'save' her when she was already dead was still not
clear to him. But he'd felt the need to see for
himself what had been done; he needed to see the
horror in her eyes in order to believe what he knew
in his heart.
New York, NY
Skinner arrived to find the area cordoned off with
the yellow police tape, as well as blocked by a
number of black-and-whites and unmarked bureau cars
parked in front of the library. He flashed his ID
and entered the building. In fact, he flashed his
badge repeatedly until he found his way to the site
of the latest killing.
It never ceased to amaze Skinner how many people were
assigned to a crime scene, especially those that
threatened to become hyperbole fodder for the ever-
vigilant media. He looked around and tried to locate
the New York Assistant Director of VCU, Linda Harper,
as he was well aware of what she looked like, even
though it had been years since they'd last seen one
That was something else he noticed; the number of
women in law enforcement certainly seemed to have
increased since he was last in the field. It was a
challenge for him to have worked with the one female
agent he'd been assigned to at that time. Back then
he could have counted on one hand the number of
female bureau agents and local law enforcement that
would have been assigned to a crime scene such as
this. Now, however, there seemed to be at least a
dozen or more women working on the site. Skinner
shook his head; he was a bit embarrassed to realize
he honestly wasn't sure how he felt about that.
He could only imagine what Agent Scully would have to
say about the doubts that managed to sneak into his
thoughts. He shook his head, so as to immediately
disperse that possibility. Next thing he heard was
his name being called rather tersely.
"AD Skinner," came the female voice, "it's so nice to
have one of the front office come up and show us how
to do an investigation." He looked up to see a
comely woman in her mid-forties walking toward him
with her hand outstretched. "AD Skinner, Linda
Harper," she said as Skinner shook the proffered
"I remember, Agent," he replied quietly. "My memory
of the last case we worked on together is still quite
intact." The female agent nodded slightly; her
comfort level skewed slightly, but that was apparent
only to the AD. He cleared his throat and in a
clear, professional tone asked, "What can you tell me
about the crime scene?"
"Well," she began, "what you see is basically what
you get. I'm not sure exactly what happened here,
but given that this is surely to become a high
profile case, I felt it best to join you so that we
could collect as much information as possible, as
quickly as possible. I don't want to be forced to
take a defensive tact when the media gets hold of
"I'm worried that they'll have a field day with this
one, AD Skinner. The eve of the holiest day on the
Jewish calendar sees a Jewish girl murdered at a
Yeshiva University library? Oh, I'm telling you,
this will be a movie of the week in no time."
Skinner nodded his head in agreement and then asked,
"What have your people been able to find?"
"Not much," she offered. Though there's some blood,
there's very little by the body. There's a trail
that comes from the side door to the room with the
body, but there's no evidence of a pool of blood by
the body itself. The only indication of anything
unusual in the room is that the chair is toppled
over. There's no real evidence that there was a
struggle; the chair could have tipped when the girl
"What about the body? Anything unusual?" Skinner
asked, knowing full well that there would be a hole
in the girl's chest just as there were holes in the
"Well, if you consider a gaping crater where her
heart used to be unusual, then I'd say yes." Harper
looked at the Assistant Director with a discerning
eye and waited for some kind of reaction to her
description. When she didn't receive one, she looked
at him with some incredulity and, in a tone that was
much more critical than she might have intended,
said, "This has happened before."
Skinner didn't deny it. He couldn't deny it. All he
could do was nod his head slightly in affirmation.
"What the hell is going on, Assistant Director? When
the hell were the rest of us going to be brought up
to speed?" she demanded.
"Harper," he began, "You have to understand, Quantico
was only brought in on this a couple of weeks ago.
I'd only received the file late last week."
"So what the hell do you know, Walter?" she asked
"About as much as you do, Linda," he replied with
more than a hint of frustration.
She startled slightly at his casual use of her first
name, but then quickly regained her composure and
asked, "Which is?"
Skinner sighed and quietly informed her of the few
details he knew of Tom Alexander's unexpected death
and of Agent Andrews' injury. He also mentioned that
the senior profiler on the case was, at the moment,
"In transit? Shouldn't he be here, or does this
profiler feel he can get a better grasp of this crime
scene through astral projection?" she asked
"I'm sure Agent Mulder is doing exactly what he feels
needs to be done to get a better grasp on the UNSUB."
"Mulder? Did you say Agent Mulder?" Skinner nodded,
to which Harper sighed, "What the hell did I do to
deserve Spooky Mulder on one of my high profile
"Assistant Director Harper," Skinner replied tersely,
"Agent FOX Mulder is one of the finest agents and
profilers this agency has ever had the privilege of
calling one of its own. Agent Mulder works for me,
and I will not tolerate any disrespect toward any of
my people. Do I make myself clear?"
"Perfectly, Walter. Perfectly. Now, just get your
D.C.'s finest's ass here to solve this case before the
media makes mincemeat out of all of us," she retorted
and then turned abruptly and left.
Skinner watched her as she walked away with his mouth
slightly agape. If it weren't for the fact that he
hadn't the first clue as to where his missing agent
was, he'd have probably thrown her tirade right back
in her face. Unfortunately, he didn't have much of a
leg to stand on until Mulder returned. Until then,
he was going to have to do what he could to help sift
through whatever clues were available to them.
He walked carefully around the taped-off areas and
viewed the crime scene. The body was just about to
be moved, so Skinner took a look at the victim.
He wasn't sure if he was more repulsed or frightened.
There was a hollow chasm where once was a beautiful
young woman's unblemished body. If that weren't bad
enough, Skinner gasped at the expression that was
frozen on her face. Her eyes were wide with horror
as though she'd been witness to life's atrocities,
while her mouth was contorted into an expression of
Skinner imagined Beth Stein did not die willingly; he
felt she'd fought her attacker, albeit not
physically, but certainly emotionally, for all she
was worth. If only there were hints as to who...and
why. Skinner moved around the body for one last
look. He bent down and with a gloved hand poked and
prodded gently around the body. He looked up and saw
the medical examiner that was waiting for permission
to finally move the body to the morgue.
Skinner nodded his approval and watched as two of the
ME's assistants quickly and efficiently bagged the
victim and lifted her up onto the gurney. He
momentarily watched them wheel the body out and then
turned his attention back to the area where Beth
Stein had lain. A fleck of white caught his eye, and
Skinner reached over to pick it up. He quickly held
the small white card and noted the slight blood
splatter on it and, just as quickly, surreptitiously
placed it in his pocket.
He stood up and moved off to a corner. As he pulled
out his cell phone, he watched Linda Harper bark out
orders and maintain control of the crime scene. If
it were any other case he would probably have admired
her ability to quickly organize her people and
delegate jobs to best secure the evidence.
But this was no ordinary time. He dialed Scully's
number and without realizing it, prayed he would get
through this time. At that very moment, the AD very
well could have had Mulder's guilt or innocence in
his coat pocket.
New York, NY
He wanted to run from the room, from what he'd done,
or been made to do, but he forced himself to walk. A
nurse was entering the room and Mulder cleared his
throat and reached out to touch her sleeve.
"How is he?" he asked, his voice rough and hoarse.
She looked at him with a cocked eyebrow until he
produced his ID. She smiled and patted his arm.
"He looks worse than he is, really. He was very
lucky. The bullet passed through cleanly, no damage
to the lung, no broken bones. He's going to be sore
for a while, but he should be back chasing the bad
guys before you know it." She grinned and turned
back in to the room. She didn't hear Mulder's very
audible sigh as he almost sank to the floor in
His reprieve was short lived. He knew he was still
going to be held responsible for the shooting. He
knew there was still something inside him, hiding,
waiting for the right moment. Or was it just a
connection, a nexus? Mulder wasn't sure, but he
needed someplace quiet to hide and figure it all out.
He needed to go home.
Mulder stood outside the hospital, considering his
options. His easy entrance into Andrews ICU room did
not fool him into thinking he could sneak back into
the airport and take another flight. A taxi pulled
up to the curb while he was thinking. Without
hesitation he got in the back of the cab.
"Take me to the nearest rental car agency," he said
and sat back, closing his eyes.
"Got any preferences?" the cabbie asked over his
"No. Just the first one you come to." Mulder's hand
was throbbing, and now his head was joining in on the
action. When he opened his eyes the interior of the
cab had become faded, washed out. As if he were in a
"Hurry, please," he rasped out and closed his eyes
again, but not before he caught the cabby giving him
a worried look in the rearview mirror.
A Lariat Car Rental was just a few blocks up the
street and Mulder shoved a few loose bills through
the opening in the Plexiglas. Inside the agency, a
television was on, though no one in the waiting area
seemed to be paying it any attention.
"Police and FBI sources are not disclosing the
circumstances surrounding the death of a 20 year old
college student whose body was found earlier this
evening at Yeshiva University, but FBI involvement in
the case seems to indicate foul play. On this, one
of the holiest days of the Jewish religion,
speculation that the death might have been a result
of hate crime has not been ruled out."
Mulder turned his head away from the set and forced
himself to walk up to the counter. Half an hour
later, he was seated in a gray Ford Escort and headed
for the expressway.
He felt itchy. That was the only way to explain it.
Like it wasn't his skin he was wearing. The cuts on
his hand burned where they made contact with the
steering wheel, but he had to use his other hand to
pull out his cell phone and hit the two buttons to
speed dial Scully's number. Just as the third ring
started and he was convinced she'd turned the phone
off, she answered.
"Scully," she said, and she sounded a little
"It's me," he replied and he heard her gasp.
"My God, Mulder, where are you? What the hell is
going on? Did Andrews tell you I've been trying to
reach you? You haven't been answering your cell
phone. And Mulder, Skinner has been looking for you,
too. Why aren't you in Biloxi? What's going on?"
He wasn't listening to her laundry list of questions.
"Scully," he broke in as she caught her breath, "I
need you to meet me."
There was a brief silence on the other end of the
"Where I broke the mirror fighting my past."
This was greeted by more silence. "It will take me
some time to get there."
"I know. I'll be waiting."
She was quiet for a moment and he could hear his
heart pounding in his chest. "Mulder, are you all
right?" she asked hesitantly.
"I think it's safe to answer no to that question,
Scully," he replied.
"I'm on my way. Lock the door when you get there, I
still have the key."
"I know," he said, letting air fill his lungs with a
deep breath, the first one he'd had in so long he
couldn't remember. "And Scully?"
"I love you, too, Mulder. Be safe. I'll be there
soon. Just don't leave without me."
He closed the connection and shut down the phone.
The road opened up before him and he pressed the gas
down just a touch. For some reason, he couldn't help
thinking that he would be safer when he finally
reached his destination.
Skinner was oblivious to the cacophony of murmurs
that surrounded him, as well as the precisely
choreographed movement of the dark blue uniforms
melding with the bureaucratic grays of the agency.
He still wasn't able to reach either of his renegade
agents, and the stress was building at having to
wonder where both Mulder and Scully were. He really
wished he were on the set of some television crime
series, like NYPD Blue. They'd have had the crime
scene wrapped up inside of ten, maybe fifteen minutes
flat. He sighed as he failed to connect with his
agent yet again.
The AD thought, 'Just get here, Scully,' as he
flipped his cellular closed for what seemed like the
tenth time in the last twenty minutes. As he placed
the phone in his pocket with one hand, he discreetly
held the blood stained calling card in his other. He
tried to will the words, the name on the card to
change before his eyes, but he was no more successful
at that point than he was ten minutes earlier.
He fingered it gently, knowing full well that what he
was about to do was illegal. His own breathing
stopped as he surreptitiously placed the small white
card back in his pocket.
"Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?"
demanded an extremely irate Linda Harper.
"Harper," he responded working as hard as he ever
worked to keep his voice even and controlled. "I've
just placed a call to one of my agents, a top
forensics expert, to get her here as soon as possible
to do the autopsy on this body. What have you been
She was momentarily stunned by the AD's quick reply,
but Linda Harper was also quick on her feet. "I've
been watching an assistant director of the FBI commit
obstruction of justice by palming a piece of crime
Skinner maintained his game face and said nothing.
Harper followed suit, though after several moments
passed, she held out her gloved hand. Skinner
considered his next move, but soon realized he had no
choice. He handed her the business card.
"Fox Mulder, Special Agent to the FBI, Washington,
DC," she read aloud. "This is blood," she said to no
one in particular, but she then looked up at the AD
and spoke in something akin to a stage whisper.
"What the hell is Spooky Mulder's calling card doing
at my crime scene, damn it?" she practically hissed.
Skinner remained silent. He didn't know. He was
quite sure that at that moment he didn't want to know
"AD Skinner, what do you know about this?" Harper
"No more than you, Agent."
"And Agent Mulder is...?" Harper inquired.
"Agent Mulder's whereabouts are currently unknown."
"Great, just great," Harper muttered in disgust. "AD
Skinner," she began, her eyes radiating a fire that
proved intimidating even to the former Marine, "do
you have any idea what is going to happen when the
New York media get their hands on this story and
start doing their little spin numbers on it? If we
don't get some answers here, they are going to make
mincemeat out of us; and I do mean us. This is a
Bureau matter and not a concern for the locals. This
is our game to win or lose, and at this moment, it
looks like we're going to have to forfeit this baby
before we even get our hands on the ball."
"Assistant Director Harper... Linda," Skinner began
in an attempt to calm his associate, "we're not going
to forfeit anything. To be honest, I'm not sure
exactly what is going on, but I will tell you this.
Mulder's association is explainable. You're going to
have to trust me on this."
"Why?" Harper retorted. "Why should I trust you? You
were about to pocket evidence as a means of
withholding information. Why the hell should I
suddenly trust you?"
Skinner had no surefire reply for her, he only knew
he had to do his best to convince her. "Linda, Fox
Mulder has had a reputation in the Bureau from even
before he was an actual agent. The moment he showed
up seasoned veterans with his analysis of the Monty
Props case, he was looked upon as a renegade, a
threat to the tried and true.
"But the fact of the matter is, Fox Mulder's addition
to the Bureau raised the bar in our expectations of
what we hoped to garner from our profilers and
special agents. He got that reputation because he
was-- he IS that good at what he does. In fact,
he'd become so good, it nearly cost him his life
because the expectation was that 'Spooky' Mulder was
going to solve every single serial murder case that
was brought to the Bureau's attention.
"Agent Mulder is not the one at fault here, Linda.
There is an UNSUB on the loose that needs to be
caught; Agent Mulder is not that UNSUB. You have to
be willing to trust me in that belief, or we're going
to be locking horns on this investigation and that
will not be of any help to either of us," Skinner
Harper and Skinner exchanged glances and remained
silent for several moments. Finally, Harper held out
the hand, which held Fox Mulder's business card and
said, "I'll reserve judgment for now, Walter, but
after I've had this card analyzed for prints and
blood type, we'll talk." She took a deep breath.
Then in a low, but surprisingly even tone, she
stated, "If I find that Fox Mulder is in any way
connected to this young girl's death, I can promise
you that no amount of sob stories regarding his
profiling cases, or their effect on him, will prevent
me from throwing him to the wolves. Do I make myself
clear, AD Skinner?"
Agent Kenneth Andrews stood outside waiting for the
cab to appear. He winced as he stood shivering
slightly as the lightweight scrubs he needed to
borrow provided little protection for his injured and
abused body. He was grateful his wallet contained
some cash and his credit cards, though he knew he'd
have to use both judiciously as he had little on hand
or in reserve.
He wasn't sure he'd be able to pull it off. But when
he'd insisted that he had a job to do and needed to
leave the hospital, the nurse said those magic words,
'You're asking to leave AMA?' It had taken Kenny a
few moments to cut through the fog and realize what
those letters meant, but eventually he made the
connection. In reality, the only time he'd ever
heard about signing yourself out 'against medical
advice' was on one of those television 'movie of the
week' stories, but now he was living proof that it
could really be done.
As he tried to find a comfortable stance, he wondered
briefly if it was the wisest move he'd ever made, but
those moments of doubt were fleeting. He knew he had
to find Mulder. Something was wrong, deadly wrong,
and he had to make sure his idol was safe and stayed
The incident back at the airport was still fuzzy, but
Kenny knew that the hand that pulled the trigger was
that of Fox Mulder's body, but most certainly not of
his mind. Something else was in control of Mulder at
that moment, and there was nothing his mentor could
have done at that time to stop himself from shooting
the gun. Kenny knew he had to do something to make
sure Mulder wasn't put into a similar situation where
whatever force had put itself in control of Fox
Mulder before could do it again.
He had to find him. He had to help him. Now, if he
only knew why some crazy Indian name kept popping
into his head and what the hell it actually meant.
'Thank heavens for the Internet,' he thought as the
cab finally arrived. He climbed in gingerly, holding
his injured arm, and told the cabby his destination.
"LaGuardia Airport, please."
Kenny knew there were terminals with Internet access
at the airport. All he had to do was type in the
name of the place and let Yahoo do the walking. Now,
if he could just figure out how to spell the damn
thing. Quawntoke? Quonttawk? Quonatogue? He knew
he'd figure it out. He had to. Fox Mulder's life
very well might be in his hands.
Mulder Summer House
Quonochontaug, Rhode Island
It was getting dark by the time Mulder pulled up in
front of the white clapboard cottage just yards away
from the ocean's noisy surf. Fumbling with his key
ring, Mulder finally found the key for the deadbolt.
He entered and locked the door behind him.
He flipped the light switch by the door but nothing
happened. When was the last time he'd paid the
utility bill on this place? Probably too long to
remember. That meant no lights and no water, since
the pump to the well was also electric. He could get
water later at the little general store up the road.
In the meantime, he located the hurricane lantern in
the living room along with a book of matches. Soon a
faint yellow glow cast dancing shadows around the
Shivering violently, he looked around the room again.
It hadn't seemed that cold outside, but the little
cottage had always held a chill. His mother
attributed it to the dampness caused by the wind and
the nearby surf. In recent years, Mulder imagined it
had more to do with human folly than humidity.
There were still several pieces of wood lying next to
the fireplace. Cedar logs, his father always paid
extra for them because they repelled termites.
Mulder set about the task before him and soon had a
roaring flame overpowering the small lantern in its
ability to create shadows.
"That's a fine job there."
The voice, coming from behind him in the darkened
entrance to the other room, startled him severely.
"Jesus!" Mulder cried out, falling off balance from
his crouch on the hearthstones. He put his hand out
to catch himself, catching his hand on the rough-hewn
stones and breaking the clot that had formed over the
deepest of the cuts. "Son of a bitch!"
"You're getting warmer," chuckled the voice.
"Who the hell are you?" Mulder demanded.
"That's more like it," the voice responded smoothly.
Before Mulder could move, the flames from the
fireplace blazed out of control. The flame caught
the sleeve of his suit jacket, setting it instantly
into a blazing inferno.
"Christ!" Mulder yelled, struggling to get out of the
coat or put out the fire, whichever came first.
"He's presently out on assignment. Would you care to
leave a message on his voice mail?" The voice said,
still chuckling over its own joke and Mulder's
frantic attempts to free himself. "Stop struggling-
you'll only make it worse for yourself."
"Fuck!" Mulder spit out, getting his sleeve free, but
finding that the fire had run a trail across the back
of the coat.
"Now, now, now. I thought you reserved that for your
pretty little partner."
Mulder's head jerked up in fury, his burning sleeve
forgotten. "Show yourself!"
"Not yet . . . but soon. And when I do, I hope
you're ready. I do so love a good challenge."
Bitter laughter echoed off the walls of the small
room, clashing with the shadows before they faded to
a shiver down Mulder's spine.
He sat there on the hearth, hand bleeding and
dripping onto the stones, the flesh on his arm singed
and burned, tender and already starting to blister.
The itchy feeling was gone, finally, but in its place
was a depression that rivaled any he had known in his
life. He felt as if his entire world had just
crumbled before his eyes. His desperation when
Scully lay dying was nothing compared to what he was
now feeling. He slid his body down on the floor and
started to sob.
Kenny stared at the computer screen and shook his
head in dismay. Without even thinking about it, he
found his cell phone had appeared in his hand, and
he'd already hit the two digits to connect him to the
one person in the world who could help him.
"Computer nerds. What's your default?"
"Kerry, sweetie, it's me."
"Oh, God, Kenny, what the hell is going on? Your mom
called me and said you'd been hurt, that you were in
the hospital! Your dad's asked me to book us all
flights up to New York, but everything's socked in
with fog here and we can't get out until tomorrow--
Damn it, Kenny, I've been worried sick! And the
hospital wouldn't tell me dick!"
"Kerry, honey, it's okay, I promise. Just a scratch.
I'm fine, really. But I'm working this case, and I'm
running into a brick wall. I've tracked a guy down
to a town in Rhode Island, something called
Guantanimo, or Quantico, or something, hell, it's
spelled Q-U-O-N-O-C-H-O-N-T-A-U-G, but once I get
that far I lose him. Kerry," he pleaded in his
patented 'help me 'cause I need you' voice, "I need
to know why he's going to a place I don't even know
how to pronounce."
"And just how do you propose to do that, Kenny?" she
asked though she already knew the answer.
"Babe, I need a big favor," he began, hearing the
resigned sigh on the other end. "I need you to hack
into the personnel files at the Bureau and find out
if there's anything in Mulder's background that shows
a connection to this place."
"Kenny, are you crazy? Those are federal documents!
Why the hell don't you just ask someone? You told me
he has a partner; why not just call her and ask her?"
"I don't know how to contact her and besides..." he
began, but then hesitated. He didn't want to unduly
worry Kerry, but he wasn't sure how else to explain
why time was of the essence. "Ker, I need you to do
this for me. The guy may be in trouble, and I don't
want to involve anyone else until I find out for
"If he's in trouble, then that means you'll be in
trouble. Kenny, what the hell have you gotten
yourself into?" she asked anxiously.
"Oh, babe," he whispered, "I wish to hell I knew the
answer to that already, but I don't. And I think I'm
the only one who can really help him at this point.
It's weird, I mean, we seem to have some kind of--"
Once again he hesitated, as he wasn't sure if his
girlfriend would really understand.
"Connection," she completed his unspoken thought
Kenny didn't know why he still doubted; they'd been
together for the last two years and every day she'd
managed to show him just how much she truly
understood him. There was a definite connection
between the two of them as well.
"Yeah, Ker, there's definitely something that binds
us, but I'll be damned if I've figured out what or
why. All I do know is the guy's in trouble, and I
feel like I'm the only one who has the ability to get
him out of it."
Kerry murmured something that Kenny didn't quite
understand, but he knew she would do what he asked.
She told him to hold on, since it might take some
time to hack into the FBI system, but Kenny knew
better. The woman was a phenom when it came to her
hacking skills and he had no doubt that she would be
inside the Bureau files quickly.
Several minutes passed and she checked in with him.
"I'm almost in, Kenny. Spell his name for me, okay?"
He did and within the next fifteen minutes she was
back on the line with him. "Okay, babe, I'm in. The
guy has quite a background. Hmmm, Oxford U.? Smart
sonofabitch, too, isn't he?" she murmured.
"Kerry, I'm a little short on time. Is there any
connection to Rhode Island?"
"Hold on, I'm looking. Damn, the man's medical
records alone practically take up a gigabyte," she
exaggerated. "Okay, here it is. Yup, Rhode Island
is listed as a summer address." She read the street
address to him so he could write it down. While she
finished checking the file for any other details that
she felt might be pertinent, he typed in the
addresses on the MapQuest site to get door-to-door
directions. It was late, and dark, he felt like hell
and had never been to Rhode Island in his life, so he
didn't want to take needless chances on getting lost.
"Okay, Kenny, that looks about it. Call me if you
need anything else, please," she said with a forced
casual tone. Kenny knew that meant if he didn't stay
in touch with her he'd be paying dearly for it when
he returned home.
"I'll call you when I get there. According to the
map site, it should take me a little under three
At that, he heard a loud chuckle and Kerry said, "Oh
Babe, then I won't expect to hear from you for at
least three, three and a half."
"Aw, c'mon, Kerry, my sense of direction isn't that
bad," he argued. When all he heard was more
chuckling and a short reference to a certain Sears
parking lot, he knew he'd been defeated. "Look, did
ya ever think maybe I would surprise you?"
"No, but I love you anyway. Now go, drive carefully,
and call me when you get there. Or better yet, check
in with me in a couple of hours so I know you're
still headed in the right direction."
"Yeah, yeah," he said, but it was with a smile. The
woman cared about him as much as he cared about her,
and there was something very comforting about knowing
that. Especially tonight.
Mendel Gottesman Library
The hour was getting late, and with no word from
either of his agents, Skinner was feeling more
agitated by the minute. There was little he could do
at this point other than watch the New York AD
supervise the crime scene. He observed how
determined Linda Harper was to allow no stone be left
unturned, and a cleanup that might have normally
taken a couple of hours was taking twice as long.
She was most definitely wary of the media, so she was
taking extra precautions to ensure that evidence was
meticulously catalogued and sent to the proper labs
for analysis, including the blood stained business
card that bore Fox Mulder's name.
The AD couldn't stand it any longer. He felt he was
helpless to do much more than stand around and watch
the proceedings before him. He took a look at his
watch, noticed the late hour, and realized he hadn't
checked with the hospital on Agent Andrews' condition
in quite sometime. He dialed information and was
soon connected with Jamaica Hospital. When he asked
for the surgical ICU, he was connected with the
"Good evening. This is Assistant Director Walter
Skinner of the FBI. I'm calling to find out the
condition of one of our agents, Kenneth Andrews?"
As Skinner listened to the voice on the other end, he
felt all color in his face wash away. "What? What
the hell are you talking about? The man was in the
ICU, for crying out loud!" he argued in a voice that
was loud enough to gain the attention of those around
him. Soon, Agent Harper was by his side.
"What is it? Did they locate Mulder?" she asked
Skinner shook his head and waved her off at the same
time. "Look, I'll be right over and I'm going to
expect an explanation. I want whoever was on staff
at the time Agent Andrews was there to be ready to
answer some questions!" He clicked off and snapped
the cellular shut with a flourish.
"What happened?" asked a curious Harper, and then
with a slight gasp at what the other possibilities
could be, she asked, "He's not dead, is he?"
"No," Skinner replied quickly and with some sense of
relief for that modicum of good fortune. "He's
"Gone?" she echoed in confusion.
"That's what I said, Harper," he replied tersely,
"I don't understand; if he's not dead..."
"He signed himself out AMA," he explained and then he
muttered under his breath, "The sonofabitch really is
Spooky, Jr." He quickly shook off that thought and
informed his New York counterpart that he was heading
over to the hospital for some answers.
"Not by yourself, you're not," Harper retorted.
"What? Why not?"
"Because I want to hear the answers to some questions
that you may conveniently choose not to ask."
"Now see here," Skinner began angrily, "I resent the
implication that I'm not doing my job."
Harper looked around and noted that she and the AD
were standing a discreet distance from the members of
the investigative staff. She was angry, but felt no
fear of repercussions in expressing that anger with
this particular assistant director.
"You can resent it all you want, AD Skinner," she
began in a low, but very clear, determined tone of
voice, "but since this case is in my jurisdiction,
you will follow my lead and run with my game plan.
And since, quite frankly, you have given me little to
trust regarding your motives in aiding and abetting
Agent Mulder, I find that your indignation is a
little unwarranted. So, you will wait until I have
wrapped up here and we will go to the hospital,
And with that, Linda Harper turned on her heels, and
walked away, to which anyone who was listening very
closely might have heard a very angry and frustrated
Walter Skinner mutter, "Once a bitch, always a
New Haven, CT
Two hours later, Kenny checked in with Kerry. He was
driving more slowly than he'd hoped, but the pain of
the gunshot wound was turning out to be more than
he'd anticipated, and without the benefit of pain
killers, it was definitely slowing him down.
He worked hard to convince his girlfriend that he
wasn't lost and that he was okay, but both of them
knew she wasn't buying a word of it. They both also
knew that she would be accepting of it, and allow him
to do the job that he felt he needed to do.
"Kenny, you'll be careful, won't you?" she asked.
"Of course I will. When have you ever known me not
to be careful?" He heard her clearing her throat to
which he immediately responded, "Okay, don't answer
that. I guess what I meant to say was that I'll be
okay. I won't do anything really stupid, all right?"
They spoke a few minutes more, but Kenny begged off
explaining that he wanted to make a pit stop for a
piss and some coffee. Kerry laughed and wondered
aloud when had the whispered sweet nothings in their
relationship turned into the crude realities. Kenny
chuckled at that as well and promised, "When I get
home, I will whisper sweet nothings in your ear, and
your neck, in the crook of your elbow, in your
beautiful navel, in--"
"Stop! Before you start something that will force
me to drive up and drag you back home to finish
before you're ready, okay?" she asked breathlessly.
"Okay, okay," he laughed lightly, and then reminded
her, "I love you, Kerry."
He continued on with his drive.
"Explain to me how a man with a bullet hole that is
less than 24 hours old was allowed to walk out of
this hospital?" AD Skinner demanded.
"Mr. Skinner, please," wearily began one of the ICU
Nurses, Shira Sheth, "the man was over twenty-one,
and he signed himself AMA. We didn't have a choice."
"Oh, you had a choice. The man was in no condition
to be allowed to leave this facility. This is an
outrage!" Skinner seethed.
"Sir, if you'll just calm down," requested Constance
Howard, the ICU Charge Nurse, for what felt like the
"Was there anyone else here that might have convinced
Agent Andrews to leave the hospital?" asked Harper.
Skinner looked at her as if he were blindsided by the
question; he couldn't help but wonder if that was his
"No, ma'am. Mr. Andrews didn't have any visitors
this evening. He hadn't had anyone to visit with him
since Mr. Skinner and the other FBI agent," offered
"What other agent?" pounced Harper.
"I don't know, Ma'am; all I know is there was an
agent who came to visit him shortly after he was
brought into the ICU," explained the young Indian
"Was his name Fox Mulder?" Harper pursued.
"I don't know," Ms. Sheth replied tiredly. "I don't
ask for the name of every visitor that appears in the
ICU," she continued a mixture of anger and
frustration. The young nurse resented the
implication that she was somehow responsible for
Agent Andrew's departure from the hospital. It was
his decision, and one that was within his legal
rights to make.
Skinner sighed as he suddenly came to realize he and
Harper were badgering the poor woman unjustly. "I'm
sorry," he said quietly. "I don't mean to imply that
it is yours or anyone else's fault that Agent Andrews
left. He made a decision that I wish he hadn't made,
Next he looked at Harper and then at the nurses.
"Did Agent Andrews give you any indication whatsoever
about his destination? I mean, the man's residence
is in D.C., so he's not hopping in a cab and going home
to his bed."
"I don't know," murmured both nurses, and then Connie
Howard confirmed that fact. "I'm sorry Mr. Skinner,
but the man hadn't indicated to us one way or the
"Well, were there any other hospital staff that Agent
Andrews might have spoken with?" asked Harper
"I'm not sure," replied Nurse Howard with equal
"Please," began Skinner in an attempt to placate the
two women, "if there were any other people inside of
Agent Andrews' room, we need to know about them.
Ladies," he began earnestly, "it could very well be a
matter of life and death. If not for Agent Andrews,
then perhaps for a fellow officer."
"Excuse me," a small voice called out tentatively.
All heads turned toward a young woman standing by the
end of the nurse's station. She wore the uniform of
a nurse, but with a small badge that indicated she
was still a student.
"Is there something you need, Andrea?" asked Ms.
Howard, grateful for the small diversion.
"Um, no, not really," Andrea stammered, "but I, well,
I saw--" She stopped momentarily when her gaze
caught first AD Skinner's and then Linda Harper's.
It was the woman's piercing stare that intimidated
"Miss?" called out Skinner softly. He could tell the
young woman was hesitant, probably nervous, but he
also knew instinctively that she had knowledge about
Andrews. He wasn't about to let her be frightened
into not offering that information.
"Miss," he repeated gently to get her attention,
"Andrea, if you have any information regarding Agent
Andrews' whereabouts, I would really appreciate it if
you would tell me." Skinner purposely said to tell
'him,' not the other nurses and certainly not Harper,
Andrea Richardson looked at the now very kind
demeanor of the tall, balding man and took a small
breath. If she looked only at him, and not at the
cold, harsh expression on the female assistant
director, she would be able to find her voice.
"I'd gone in late this evening to check on the
patient. When I walked in, I noticed he was in some
kind of distress. I thought he was in pain from the
gunshot wound, but then I realized he was asleep and
having a nightmare.
"At first," she continued, all the while fixing her
gaze on Skinner, "I wasn't sure whether to just leave
him or try to wake him up. But soon he became very
agitated and started thrashing around and I was
afraid he might pull out his IV's. So I did. Wake
him up that is."
When she remained silent, Skinner encouraged, "What
happened next, Andrea?"
The young woman drew in another breath and continued,
"He looked so scared. I don't remember ever seeing a
grown man look so scared before." She shook her head
at the memory. "Then he started talking nonsense. I
mean it was almost like the babbling you see in one
of those summer horror movies. He kept repeating the
same thing over and over, 'It's gonna kill him, it's
gonna kill him like the others. Safe, he's got to
get safe,' and then something I didn't understand."
Again, she paused as if to make sure she recalled
everything perfectly, for she realized it was that
However, Linda Harper had other ideas, and demanded,
"What was it? For heaven's sake we don't have all
Andrea jumped slightly as she was startled out of her
thoughts, but she refused to look at the female
assistant director. She returned her eyes to
"He kept saying something over and over, but I didn't
know what it meant. I don't think he did either."
She saw the tall man nod encouragingly at her. "It
sounded something like 'quota' or 'quinine'. He
finally asked me for a piece of paper and a pencil so
he could write it down."
"What the hell did he write?" asked Harper.
"I don't know," she responded nervously, "I was
called out of the room."
"Oh, for crying out loud," moaned Harper.
"Wait, maybe..." stammered Andrea, and then she ducked
into the room Kenny had occupied only a couple of
hours earlier. She returned with a crumpled piece of
paper. "It was in the wastebasket. Housekeeping
hadn't emptied it yet." She offered the paper to AD
Skinner, who took it gratefully.
He perused the variations of the nonsense words
written on the paper, all using the letters 'Q-U-O-N-
C-T-A-G'. It didn't take the AD long to put two and
two together. "Spooky, Jr. strikes again," he
mumbled to himself. "He's gone to Quonochontaug."
"Quonoch- What?" Harper attempted to echo.
"Quonochontaug. It's in Rhode Island."
"And how the hell do you know this? I mean, why
would those letters suddenly jump out at you and tell
you he's going to Quono-something, Rhode Island?"
asked Harper incredulously.
Why indeed, wondered Skinner silently? He knew from
Fox Mulder's history that his family had a
summerhouse in Quonochontaug. He remembered the time
Mulder's mother suffered the stroke at the house
under somewhat mysterious circumstances, and Fox
rushed to her side. But the time he remembered most
clearly was the day Mulder almost ate his gun in that
summer home, trying to banish the demons that were
artificially placed there by an illegal drug.
"He's going to find Mulder," Skinner stated and then
added, "Mulder's in trouble."
Harper was about to question the man about why he
would make such a blatantly absurd remark without
benefit of proof, but one look at his expression told
her to remain silent. For whatever reason, Walter
Skinner was positive that Rhode Island was Agent
Andrews' destination and that Fox Mulder was in deep
shit. Harper couldn't explain it, nor did she think
she wanted to even try, but she believed her D.C.
She'd had occasion, once, to learn about the man
intimately, and she recognized that he spoke the
truth as he knew it.
And if it meant finding Spooky Mulder and getting to
the bottom of that damned Yeshiva University murder,
then she would believe Skinner was Elvis come back to
life if that's what it took to solve the case.
"Well, let's get a flight out," she responded.
"It's a small airport, there's no flights this time
"Then, I guess we'd better go fill the car up,
Walter; we've got a long drive ahead of us," she said
with a false sweetness.
She turned without even an acknowledgment to the
medical staff that had given so much of their time.
All they felt was a cold draft as she exited the ICU
Mulder Summer Residence
"Mulder?" Scully glanced at her watch again, the
illuminated dial showing 3:05 a.m. Had she switched
back to Eastern Time when the flight attendant had
announced the time zone change? Probably not, she
thought wearily. And who cared? It was too damned
late to be driving that was for certain. She was
dead on her feet.
"Mulder!" she called again, this time louder. She'd
been so tired at the airport in Providence, even
though she'd slept most of the two flights from
Biloxi. She had not bothered to try to call Mulder's
cell phone. From past experience she knew there was
no cell service at the summerhouse.
"He's probably asleep," she muttered to herself as
she followed the glow of the fireplace into the
little sitting room. She expected to find him asleep
on the sofa. Instead she found him curled in a ball
on the floor in front of the hearth. He was
shivering, but the fire had heated the room to a
higher than comfortable temperature.
"Mulder," she crooned, laying her hand on his
forehead and her hand becoming slippery with his
sweat. "Are you sick? C'mon, let's get you up."
After much tugging, he unfurled to a standing slump
and allowed her to help him to the sofa. Once lying
down he resumed his semi-fetal position.
"Why aren't the lights on?" she asked as she
attempted to turn on the lamp next to the sofa. She
really didn't expect an answer so she was surprised
when he responded through chattering teeth.
"Forgot t-t-to pay the b-b-bill."
She nodded, relieved that it was something that
simple, or that he was willing to admit as much. But
his continued shivering was causing her to grow more
and more concerned.
"Mulder, what's wrong? Are you sick? Hurt? What is
"Sick. Hurt," he replied, his eyes never looking up
at her, only staring at the shadows on the floor by
"Well, let me see," she pleaded and gently pushed on
his shoulder until he was lying on his back. When
she saw the condition of his left hand and arm, she
let out a startled gasp. "Mulder! What the hell
Mulder pull a shaky hand up and placed a trembling
finger on the tip of his nose. "On the money,
Scully," he tried for a chuckle, but it sounded more
like a sob.
"Mulder, did you fall in the fireplace? My God, your
arm! Mulder, this is a second-degree burn! And how
did you cut yourself?"
"The fire b-b-blazed up," he stammered. His eyes
were still focused on something behind her. She took
his face in her hands to force him to look at her, so
she could see his eyes. They were glassy and even in
the dim firelight she could see they were dilated.
She ran her hand over his forehead, brushing back
damp locks. His skin was cool to the touch, but
clammy and dripping with sweat.
"I think you're in shock," she told him, getting up
to go the short distance into the tiny bedroom and
coming back with a blanket.
"Did that shadow just move?" he demanded frantically,
his eyes once again focused on the dark that played
"Trick of the fire, Mulder. Nothing more," she
He shook his head emphatically as she tucked the
blanket around his shoulders. "I need to clean that
hand and bandage it. It probably needs a couple of
stitches. And I need to put burn ointment on your
arm. Those blisters could become infected." She had
been fussing with the blanket and hadn't looked back
at his face. He wasn't listening to a word she was
"Mulder?" she shook his shoulder to get his
attention. Groggily, he turned his head toward her.
"Is there a first aid kit around here somewhere? I
would imagine everything in it has probably expired
but there might be some gauze or some petroleum
jelly. That doesn't go bad and it would at least
protect the blisters. Where would your mom have kept
He grabbed her arm with a force she wasn't expecting
and his eyes grew wide. "Get out, Scully. Get out
quick, before it comes back."
"Mulder!" she pulled at his wrist to break his
crushing grip on her forearm. "Mulder, relax!
There's no one here and no one has been here. Just
you. Now we really need to take care of your arm."
"I don't want to hurt you, too, Scully," he rasped
out, tears suddenly forming in his eyes and careening
down his cheeks. "Please, I can't hurt you. I don't
want to hurt you. Just leave, now, while there's
Her heart almost broke at the sight of his anguish.
She brought her hand up to his cheek, caressing it
gently. "Mulder, I'm not leaving you. Not ever."
In an instant his face changed and his eyes burned
with a black unspeakable evil. The voice that came
from his mouth was not Mulder's and it froze her
heart in her chest.
"Then I guess you will die together."
Mulder Summer House
"Mulder, what are you talking about?" Scully asked as
calmly as her tattered nerves would allow. She'd
never seen her partner's eyes that black, coal black
but with a fire behind them that seemed to burn right
through her. Maybe it was just a trick of the fire
in the hearth, but something in her gut told her it
was something else entirely. When he spoke, she knew
it wasn't just the firelight.
"Get up." He said it like the command it was and she
stood up quickly, taking a few steps backward to put
more distance between them. He rolled into a sitting
position, tossed the blanket to the floor and glared
at her with more hate than she could have imagined
one man could hold.
"Mulder, you're not feeling well. You need to lie
down," she said in a steady voice, hoping he couldn't
see how much his eyes and voice were causing her to
tremble. This is Mulder, for God's sake, she kept
repeating as a mantra to herself. He would never
hurt me, he would never hurt me, he would never . . .
As he reached behind his back for where his gun
rested in his holster, she knew she had very few
options. One was to run as fast as she could. The
second was to wait and possibly get herself killed in
the process. The third was to shoot first, wound
him, and deal with the consequences later. She'd
taken that option once before and still lived with
However, the idea of standing still while her
partner, her lover, killed her in cold blood was not
appealing in the least. In the fraction of a second
it took him to reach behind his back, Scully was off
and running directly through the French sliding doors
to the beach. She held her jacket over her head for
protection from the glass as it broke and cascaded
The sky was as dark as pitch; even the stars were no
longer twinkling. It was the moments before dawn
she'd marveled over as a child at how truly dark it
was just before sunrise. She could barely make out
the path before her, only guided by the pounding of
the surf on the rocks by the beach.
Scully had only been to this stretch of beach twice.
Once, when Mulder had decided to drill a few holes in
his head and then again, a few months later when he
demanded they take a weekend for themselves after the
aborted 'team building' conference in Florida. The
first time it had been night like it was before her
now. But the second time, they'd combed the beach at
sunset, looking for shells and driftwood for the
She remembered clearly the rocks that jutted out into
the surf and how the chill wind of the New England
early summer had all but frozen her to the core. She
remembered Mulder's strong arms around her, giving
her a hug before he struggled out of his windbreaker
and wrapped it securely around her. They weren't
sexually intimate at that time, but she'd never felt
more loved in her life than those few moments on the
beach. Whether it was the memory of that time and
hoping it would come to Mulder, too, or simply
because she knew she could hide among the rocks,
Scully hurried toward the pounding surf, never taking
the time to look behind her.
In the little bungalow, Mulder's face broke into a
hideous scowl, but it wasn't Mulder scowling. He was
now only a vessel, and a slightly broken one at that.
No matter, for what the possessor had planned, there
wouldn't be need of a strong vessel, just one that
could last long enough to follow the woman to the
It would have enjoyed indulging itself a bit, but
that was a luxury it could ill afford. Ending that
one's life was necessary, for the man Mulder was
almost as great a threat as were those it had already
With little thought as his bare arm caught on more
shards of glass, he ran out the same door through
which Scully had just escaped. It was dark and it
took him a moment for his eyes to adjust from the dim
light of the fireplace. He tried to listen for her
footsteps, but the unceasing pounding of the surf
drowned them out. Finally, he took off in the
direction of the water, his gun drawn and the safety
Scully reached the rocks and scrambled over the
craggy surface. There were sharp places and slippery
edges. When she was younger, her brothers had often
tried to lose her by climbing trees, rocks, anything
that might otherwise deter girls not as determined as
she was. Those early experiences served her as well
as her FBI training, as she steadied slick soles on
wet and slimy seaweed and gained purchase at the cost
of the skin on the palms of her hands.
"Shit," she muttered as another jagged edge bit into
her flesh. She had just skinned a knee on one of the
rocks, only to scrape her arm on another. But
finally she was down near the water's level, not
daring to consider how soon the tide might cover her
hiding place. She cursed herself for not taking the
tide into account, but there was nothing to be done
about it now. She just hoped she'd be able to swim
out into the water a ways and come back onto the
beach at a point further up where she could run to
the road for help.
The surf was so loud in her ears and the spray so
distracting that she didn't see Mulder standing and
watching her from atop of the rocks.
"Not a very safe place to sit," he yelled down to
her. For a heartbeat she could almost believe that
it was Mulder, her Mulder, and not some horrible
being intent on her death. Then he raised his arm
and extended his gun, firing off two rounds.
The first whizzed past her head; the second clipped
the rock an inch from her shoulder, the chips
imbedding themselves in her upper arm. She stifled a
cry and looked frantically around her, weighing the
options of trying to dodge his bullets or throwing
herself into the surf. One wave crashed below her,
almost shaking her from her perch, and at that second
another bullet flew past her.
"Mulder, please, don't do this," she called up to
him. She was crying in earnest now, not wanting to
fire at her partner, but not wanting him to shoot at
"This is fun, but I don't have enough rounds to keep
missing. Next time, the fun ends," Mulder yelled, as
she bit her lip before sending a quick prayer
skyward. Scully crouched down and debated with
herself whether to stay put or dive off the rock into
the pulsating sea below.
"You know I'll jump in after you," he yelled with a
terrifying laugh. "Then you can both drown. You'll
be crushed against the rocks before that, though. He
might last a little longer; he's a swimmer. But when
he finds your body, nothing will stop him from just
sinking to the bottom and letting the sea be his
She couldn't move and sat mesmerized. "Mulder," she
"You really don't get it, do you? Mulder isn't
"Then where is he? What have you done with him?"
"Sent him to Hell," the vessel replied. "And now,
you're going to join him."
Mulder Summer Residence
The young agent wasn't sure what he was going to find
at the Mulder summer home, but the profiler in him
knew it was something he'd rather not have to deal
Kenny pulled up to the house noting its slightly
rundown condition. It wasn't due to age as much as it
was to neglect. There was a difference, as it was
obvious to him that no one had lived in that house
for a very long time.
There were no lights on, but given the late hour that
didn't surprise him. He pulled around into the
driveway, got out of his rental, and noted there were
two cars ahead of his, also rentals. He knew Mulder
was here; he wondered if Agent Scully found her way
here as well.
Suddenly Kenny felt an ominous weight in the pit of
his stomach. He walked to the front door as quickly
as his injured shoulder would allow him. Turning the
knob, but found it locked. Next he went around to
the back of the house and saw sheer curtains flapping
in the breeze as a result of the sliders being open.
It wasn't until he stepped up right to the door that
he saw all of the glass.
"Mulder? Mulder, you in there?" he called out.
Andrews carefully wound his way around the broken
shards of glass to do a quick exploration of the
house. He continued to call out Mulder's name,
interspersing it with Agent Scully's as well.
The house was a shambles. Overturned furniture, a
hearthstone fire that was burning low but with ash
all around the outside of it. Lamps were smashed on
There was a coldness to the house that passed through
Kenny and caused him to shiver. Given that the door
was wide open, that shouldn't have surprised him, but
it was more than just the temperature. Kenny felt a
dread that was similar to the one he felt in Biloxi.
He was scared, more scared than he could ever
remember being. Something had been in this house,
something that was both threatening and dangerous.
And purely evil...
Something that was more powerful than any single
entity Agent Kenny Andrews could have ever
considered, and he knew it had Fox Mulder in its
Now he needed to find out if it held Scully as well,
and what the hell was he going to do about it.
The Rhode Island border
"Skinner, if you don't slow this damn car down, I'm
going to pull out my gun out and shoot."
"Go ahead, Harper, be my guest."
"Oh, for God's sake, we've just made a three-hour
trip in only two. Would you please slow down.
You're scaring the hell out of me!"
"Really? I didn't think anything could scare the
inimitable Linda Harper," he responded with nothing
short of disdain.
It was the most words they'd spoken to one another
during the entire trip.
"Oh, Walter, would you just give it a rest," she said
through clenched teeth. "I can't believe, after all
of these years, you still haven't gotten over it."
"Linda, don't flatter yourself. There was nothing to
get over, it was the aftermath I found a little
"What? You're blaming me for your wife finding out
about our little tryst? You've got to be kidding!"
"Linda, the fact that you took it upon yourself to
call Sharon and ask her if she'd found a pair of your
underwear in my suitcase...you're not really going to
sit there and tell me you don't hold the onus of
blame for the downward spiral of my marriage?"
She responded with... a laugh. It was a sound that
sent shivers down Skinner's spine, because the
obvious pleasure she'd felt from listening to his
fractured memories was far more distressing than the
actual, however despicable, act. He shook his head
and wondered to himself how he'd ever found her
attractive enough to take to his bed. And then he
remembered the case they were on, and he understood.
It was a case not unlike the one they were currently
working on in terms of the heinousness of it; it was
a serial murder case that had involved four victims
by the time they'd brought the rookies on board.
Though the modus operandi was different from their
present case, the results were no less devastating.
Both Walter and Linda were first year rookies on the
job. It was their first major case and both were
young, eager, and anxious to get to where the action
was. However, neither agent was really prepared for
the desolation to which they were going to be
subjected with that case. The victims were all
young, pregnant teens who were targeted by a maniac
that thought he was Jesus Christ, and whom felt it
was his duty to protect all of the Mary Magdalenes
of the world...
The only problem was that his methods were cruel,
bloody, and depraved in their actions. The girls
were placed on a cross and had their babies delivered
by mutilation. The worse part of the ordeal, if
that's even possible, was that the girls were still
alive when their babies were cut out of them.
Walter Skinner could not deal with that knowledge,
especially after he and wife Sharon had been trying
to conceive a child with no success. Life was cruel
and the nature of that case hit him hard, but given
that he was living and breathing that case twenty-
four hours a day and didn't want to subject his wife
to the atrocities of the case, he'd felt he had no
one to turn to.
Until Linda Harper offered her services.
And Walter Skinner had felt so needy at the time that
he hadn't the will to walk away. Until afterwards,
and then he'd realized what an incredible, almost
insurmountable mistake he'd made, and he told Linda
that in no uncertain terms, their first time was to
be their last time.
Linda was not as understanding as Walter had hoped
she would be; his only saving grace was that the case
was solved shortly after their tryst and he was able
to return home to his wife. Unfortunately, Linda
Harper had felt used and then neglected. She had
It wasn't as if she'd ever intended for her
relationship with Walter to go beyond the physical;
she'd have been perfectly content to have Walter
Skinner remain her boy toy. It was the unceremonious
manner in which he'd informed her that it was over.
He said unemotionally that he couldn't continue the
affair since he loved his wife and that was that.
He'd avoided speaking with her, even looking at her,
and the possibility of finding them alone in the same
room together was zero to none. When their
assignments were over, Walter Skinner returned home
and never looked back.
That was until Linda called his wife and inquired
about the whereabouts of her lost lingerie. Sharon
wasn't terribly understanding after that. They made
attempts to start over, but all too soon the marriage
started on its slow but steady slide downhill.
And now the bitch had the nerve to ask him if he
blamed her for his marriage ending? He knew if he
spoke now, he'd probably spew enough venom that once
Harper finished her report on him, his ass would be
thrown out of the bureau so fast, he wouldn't know
what hit him.
While Skinner tried to gain control over his
breathing, the shrill of a cellphone rang out. Both
ADs reached for their phones; Harper's was the
She flipped it open and responded, "Harper." She
listened carefully for a few moments and then said,
"Are you sure?" She unconsciously nodded to what the
voice on the other end was saying. She murmured an
occasional "uh-huh," as well as a few, "absolutelys,"
before she repeated, "And you're absolutely sure.
There's no doubt about the results?"
When confirmation was attained, she thanked the
caller and flipped the cellular shut. She remained
quiet while she returned the unit to her pocket.
"Well? Are you going to give me a hint as to what
someone is so damned sure about?" asked Skinner with
"Are you sure you want to hear it?" she asked
snidely. Upon his, albeit hesitant, nod, Harper
informed him, "It's Spooky's blood."
Scully closed her eyes, heard the gun go off, and
waited for the bullet to hit her. In that fraction
of a second she wondered if she'd feel it in her
chest or her head. The second drew on and nothing
happened. No pain. Nothing. She chanced to open
her eyes one at a time.
In the bright light of the new morning, she could
just make out a young man bathed in yellows and
oranges, holding a large piece of driftwood in his
right hand and panting over the body of her partner.
She was panting, the adrenaline pulsing through her
veins, her heart pounding in her chest. Fight,
flight, fight, flight. But Mulder wasn't moving and
in the fiery light of the new sun, she could make out
the person standing over him.
"Agent Scully? Is that you?"
It took her a moment to process that she'd heard that
voice before. Then it took her more precious seconds
to remember through the fog of her recent terror
exactly when she'd heard the voice and under what
"Agent Andrews?" she asked, the sound of the words
almost lost among the crashing of the waves.
"Yes, ma'am. Um, do you need help? To get up here?"
Scully swallowed around the rock in her throat. "No,
no, thank you, I, uh, just give me a minute," she
assured him and herself. "Mulder, how is Mulder?"
she asked anxiously as she scrambled back up the
crags and sharp rock face to join the young agent on
Kenny frowned and then bent down awkwardly, his left
arm held stiffly to his body. Scully recognized the
posture, he was hurt, but not letting it show on his
face. She watched as he placed two fingers on her
partner's neck and waited.
"He's alive. But he's out cold."
Scully swayed next to him. "Good," she whispered and
then knelt down to check for herself. "Rapid, but
it's strong." She ran her fingers along the side of
Mulder's head, stopping briefly when she encountered
the damage caused by the driftwood at Kenny's feet.
"He's bleeding and he's got a fairly big knot. More
than likely he has a concussion."
"I'm sorry, I didn't know what to do," Kenny
stammered. "I couldn't let him shoot you..."
"Agent, it's all right. You did the right thing,"
Scully said gently, laying a comforting hand on
Andrew's shoulder. He winced and pulled away.
"How bad?" she asked, this time looking at the young
man so that he couldn't deflect her gaze.
"Ah, not that bad. I mean, it hurts, yeah, but," he
swallowed and she was certain it wasn't a trick of
the morning light that made him look very pale. "I'm
really kinda tired right now." He started to sway
dangerously and she grasped his right arm to steady
"You need to sit down," she ordered and helped him
lower himself to the rock.
"What about him? If he has a concussion, he needs
medical attention, doesn't he?" Kenny asked, nodding
toward the still form of his mentor.
Scully sighed and nodded. "Yes, he does. But it's
not going to be easy getting help. The phone in the
house hasn't worked in years and there's not a cell
tower for fifty miles on this stretch of beach. I'll have
to leave you two and walk to the nearest house with a
phone. It's about a mile up the road, if anyone
still lives there."
Kenny could tell she was hesitant to leave him with
her partner, but it seemed more than just concern for
Mulder's and his own medical condition. He reached
over and picked up Mulder's gun, which was lying near
the unconscious agent. Blinking against the harsh
rays of the sun, he handed the gun to her.
"Here, you might need this. And if you have it, he
won't," Kenny said with a small smile.
"I'll be right back," Scully tried to offer the young
man a smile in return, but she was fairly certain it
didn't make it to her lips.
"We'll be here," Kenny assured her.
It took her little time to make it to the house.
Coming around the corner and heading toward the road,
she saw the dark blue sedan kicking up dust on the
gravel road toward her. She stood by the side of the
road and prepared to flag down the driver, but the
car skidded to a stop before she could raise her
"Agent Scully?" Skinner's voice boomed from the open
driver's side window.
"Sir?" Scully called back, running over to the car.
Skinner was already out of the door and another
person, a woman Scully didn't recognize, was getting
out of the passenger side.
"Agent Scully, have you seen Agent Mulder? Or Agent
Kenneth Andrews, for that matter?" Skinner demanded
Scully was a little taken aback that her superior was
so far up to speed.
"Yes, sir. I just left them, both of them, on the
rocks at the beach. Sir, Agent Mulder is injured,
he's unconscious. And I think Agent Andrews might
have released himself from the hospital--"
"AMA, Scully, yes, I know all about it. Seems he's
picked up a few bad habits from your partner already.
But where are they, can you lead us to them?"
Scully shot a questioning look over to the woman
standing next to Skinner. Skinner seemed to suddenly
realize they hadn't met. "Agent Dana Scully, this is
AD Linda Harper, with the New York Bureau. Now, lead
Linda nodded to Scully, lips pursed and not saying a
word. Scully nodded back and turned on her heel to
lead them all back to where she'd left Kenny and
Kenny was still sitting much as she'd left him. When
he saw her approaching, he smiled weakly. "That was
fast," he said, trying to stand, but falling back to
sit down hard on the rocks again.
"Stay still, Agent. The cavalry has arrived. ADs
Skinner and Harper just drove out from New York
apparently. Something about you going AMA?" Scully
accused and Kenny had the good grace to look
"I had this dream," he said, almost a whisper.
By this time, Skinner and Harper had caught up to
them on the rocks. "Agent Andrews, you realize you
invalidate your medical insurance the minute you go
AWOL," Skinner intoned roughly.
Kenny went whiter.
"Is this Mulder?" Harper asked, the first words from
her mouth since their arrival.
"Yes," Scully said, crouching next to her partner.
"He's hurt. He, uh, he hit his head, on the rocks,"
Scully lied. Kenny's eyes grazed over to the
incriminating piece of driftwood and back to Scully.
"He slipped," she added, this directed at Kenny.
"Yeah, he slipped," Kenny concurred, looking back at
Scully and not at the other two agents.
Linda snorted and crouched down next to the
unconscious agent. She touched two fingers to his
neck. As her fingers brushed his flesh, he stirred
and opened his eyes. She leaned closer, her face
mere inches from him.
"Agent Fox Mulder?" she asked.
Mulder groaned, blinked and then looked back at her
again. When he could focus, he was staring into
"Agent Fox Mulder, I'm placing you under arrest for
the murder of Beth Stein." Only Mulder could see
the black fire that had replaced Linda Harper's
previously green eyes and the hideously twisted smile
that played on her lips.
To be continued...