Wrong place, Wrong time
Mulder paced the room like a caged animal with a mental disorder. Although the carpeting wasn’t showing any wear and tear despite the abuse. Of course it had only been three days. Three days that might as well be an eternity as far as Mulder was concerned. He loosened another button on his salty shirt, it was getting harder to breath. He had abandoned his jacket and tie long ago, they lay forgotten somewhere, probably never to be retrieved.
Looking down at his watch Mulder found that only five minutes had past since the last time he’d checked. Stopping in front of the window Mulder looked down on the city. The thirty-sixth floor of the Federal Building offered an incredible view. He wondered briefly what everyone else in the city was doing right now. Going about their daily lives? Most likely.
Mulder was suddenly very envious of the guy vending hot dogs on the corner. What could possibly constitute a bad day at the office for him? Rain? Certainly the only lives that hung in the balance down there were the customers who dared order the chili and cheese. Even then it was unlikely that they would have their heart attacks and die right in front of the merchant.
The ringing of the tiny cell phone on the oak desk sliced through Mulder’s thoughts like a white hot razor. He slowly turned and stared sightlessly at the offensive plastic object. It rang again, urgently trying to get attention like a child misbehaving just so someone will at least yell at him. Mulder walked over to the phone but found himself unwilling or perhaps even unable to answer it.
It rang piercingly three more times before Assistant Director Skinner picked it up and offered it to Mulder. The presents of other people in the room sharply brought itself to Mulder’s attention. There were a lot of people in the room, all of them attached to some form of technology. There were bulky recorders, tracers, trackers, voice recognition devices, and countless other pieces of equipment that Mulder couldn’t be bothered to identify. It was all useless, it was all junk.
Once again the phone buzzed like a stinging insect. Mulder closed his eyes and pressed the green button that would open the connection.
“There you are, I was getting lonely.” A deep male voice purred. “I’d ask you what took so long, but I have a feeling I know the answer.”
“What do you want.”
“You know what I want.”
“I can’t do that.”
“I’m starting to lose my patients with you, Agent.”
“If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand time, but I’ll repeat myself for your benefit. Maybe this time it will make it through your thick skull.” Mulder growled. “The FBI does not negotiate with terrorist. It’s as simple as that. No exception!”
“Is there something wrong with your hearing or perhaps the phone connection?!” Mulder snapped. “I couldn’t deliver you a pizza, let alone what you’re asking for! Stop this now and I’ll consider, do you hear me Asshole? I’ll consider not devoting the rest of my life to hunting you down like the cowardly mangy dog that you are! I swear to God that there won’t b...”
Mulder froze solid with the reverberation of the gun being cocked ringing painfully in his ear. He’d lost his temper and gone too far. He could hear the ragged breathing of a madman trying to keep himself under control on the other end of the line. Minutes past with only the faint static of the phone telling Mulder that Time hadn’t actually stopped. Finally a deep sigh breathed in Mulder’s ear.
“She is beautiful, isn’t she?” The voice waited for a moment in silence. “Answer me!”
“Yes.” Mulder breathed quietly.
“Yes, I agree. Now then, no more games. Simple questions, no bluffing. Do you want to see these aqua eyes again?”
“Will you do what I ask?”
Mulder looked up at Skinner desperately. Skinner adverted his eyes to the floor. There was nothing he could do. No exceptions, Mulder had said it himself.
“Agent Mulder, are you still with me?”
“Well? I’m still waiting for an answer. A choice of life or death, yes or no?”
“Oh, Peter!” A large woman wrapped her arms around Sam’s neck, cutting off any hope he had of breathing. “I don’t even know where to begin in thanking you!”
“Breathing would be nice.” Sam gasped.
“What? Oh.” The woman eased up on her grip. “I’m sorry, it’s just that Nicky here is all I have left in this world, and you saved her!” She wrapped her arms around Sam’s neck and pulled him into a sloppy kiss.
Sam disentangled himself from her affection and looked down at the Labrador Retriever that was busy gnawing on his pant leg.
Oh, Brother. Sam thought to himself. Please don’t tell me this was why I’m here. He had leapt in a few minutes before. He had been just in time to keep Nicky, who had broken her leash, from stepping out in traffic and into eternity.
Apparently that had been his one and only task in this point in Time for he could feel the tingling already. Leaping was something that Sam knew he’d never get used to, even if he ended up hopping around time for the rest of his life. It always happened right after the waters had calmed, right after he’d put history right. As a result it seemed to Sam that he never got a moments rest. Every time he made it out of the stormy sea and back onto the boat ‘someone’ came along and tossed him back over the side.
The first few minutes in a new Time were always the worst. It would appear that God or whoever was bouncing him around like a ping pong ball in a dryer had a sense of humor. He always seemed to land right in the middle of something. And he could feel already that this next leap was not going to be an exception.
When Sam’s vision finally cleared he found that he was kneeling on the floor with ‘his’ hands tightly gripping the lapels of a white blouse. Sam held still for a moment trying to figure out what the person he’d leapt into had been doing. Without looking up he could see that the blouse belong to a woman far more shapely than the one he’d just been accosted by. Sam suddenly came to the realization that he might have leapt into the middle of yet another Honeymoon.
He hated that. Al called him crazy for avoiding the women in his path, but it just seemed so wrong to sleep with someone else’s wife. Especially when that wife didn’t know what she was doing. Sam released the woman’s shirt. Bringing his eyes up he noticed a tiny gold cross at her ivory throat. He reached up instinctively to touch it.
The woman jerked back like his touch had been painful. More than a little confused Sam looked up into a set of ice blue eyes that held a glare that could freeze a polar bear’s heart. Sam suddenly doubted that this was ‘his’ wife. If anything she looked ready to kil...
Sam reeled back with his vision suddenly nothing but tiny points of light. He sat up and shook his head trying to focus again. For a moment he couldn’t figure out what had happened. It suddenly became clear to him that the woman had seen an opportunity and had head butted him with considerable force. He looked up and saw the whole picture for the first time. A woman with blood red hair was kneeling on the floor with her hands behind her back, obviously restrained there, with a bruised temple and mean temper.
“Touch me again, and I will find a way to kill you!” She snarled and Sam believed her.
“I’m sorry, I, uh, didn...” Sam stuttered, still unsure of what was happening.
“I am Special Agent Dana Scully, and by abducting me you are in direct violation of Federal Law.” Scully quoted directly from the training manual. “Return me at once and the law will show leniency.”
“Look, um. There’s obviously been some sort of mistake.” Sam said getting up off the floor.
“I’m not...” Sam stopped. An explanation was out of the question. Not only was it one of the first ‘rules of leaping’, but it would also only serve to convince her that he was crazy. “Please, just stay calm.” Sam took a step towards her.
“Stay back!” Scully barked with the authority of someone holding a weapon.
“I can’t help you if you won’t let me come closer.”
“Help me?” Scully repeated suspiciously. “If you want to help me, go get my cell phone, call the first person on the speed dial, and tell him where I am. He’ll take if from there and you’ll have some time to run.”
That will never work. Sam thought. I don’t even know where I am, or when for that matter.
“I can’t...” Sam said out loud. He stopped at the sound of someone climbing the stairs. Both sets of veins in the room froze at the noise. This was going to complicate things, it hadn’t even occurred to Sam that there might be someone else in the house. The police? A partner in crime? He’d soon find out.
“What the fuck is going on up here?!” An athletically built man with midnight hair and a pallor like death stormed into the upstairs room.
“That was a rhetorical question, Jackass. I know what you were doing. Why is the question.”
“This isn’t a fucking brothel. We have work to do, remember?” The new comer walked over to Scully and ran his long alabaster fingers through her hair. “There’ll be plenty of time for that later.”
“I don’t think...”
“That’s your problem, Tommy. You don’t think, not with your head anyway.” He pulled his hand away from Scully in sudden disgust. “I swear, if you weren’t my brother... Never mind. Come on.”
The man brushed past Sam and hopped down the stairs. Sam looked back at their captive. She was a statue, carved by a sick artistic mind. Sam suddenly wondered how long she had been kneeling there. Minutes? Hours? Days? It looked like it had been a life time.
“I’m sorry, I...” Sam stopped. It was obvious that she wasn’t listening to him.
Sam turned and followed his ‘brother’ downstairs. Something always went wrong when Sam leaped in, after all that’s why he was Time Traveling. ‘To put right what once went wrong’. However it was rare that so much went so wrong so quickly. The nameless man was rummaging around down stairs. Looking out the window Sam noticed for the first time that they were out in the forest. The next house or town could, and probably was, miles away.
There goes plan A, and B for that matter. Sam thought glumly.
“Here.” The brother had found what he was looking for and handed it to Sam.
“Genius. I’d get out the owner’s manual for you, but I’m suddenly doubting your ability to read.” The man regarded Sam with oddly gray eyes. A look of concern past briefly over his face. “When was the last time you...” He finished by slapping the inner side forearm at the elbow.
“Heroine, when was the last time you shot up? You always get a little ‘flighty’ when you haven’t had your fix. Maybe you should take care of that first.”
“No. I’m fine.”
“You’re a lot of things, Bro, but ‘fine’ isn’t one of them.” He smiled brightly. “Anyway, go get those pictures, there’s only a dozen shots on that roll so make them good. The post office is going to close at 6 and it will take a few hours to get there. If we don’t get it in the mail today we’ll miss the window. I’m pretty sure she won’t be missed till Monday morning. So this will be the perfect way to alert them to the situation, throw her partner off balance.”
Sam stared at the camera in his hands. He had been kidnapped a few times, but he’d never been the kidnapper before. So he was new at this. His pure heart and compassionate soul were not helping him wrapping his mind around what was happening. It wasn’t that he didn’t know what the man wanted him to do. It was just that the idea was so repulsive...
“Tommy?” The man put his hand on Sam’s shoulder. “Look, this is important, right? We’ve talked about this for a long time, there’s simply no other way. Besides, this is right up your alley. At least it used to be.” He took Sam’s wrist and turned it palm side up, he pointed at what appeared to be empty skin to Sam. “I mean just look at this resume! I know I haven’t let you in on every little detail as to why we're doing this. ‘Cause let’s face it the bitch upstairs isn’t just some whore, people are going to sit up and take notice when she doesn’t come home. Right? This is a step up. And if you’re not the man for the job, if you’ve gone soft, tell me now and I’ll get someone else. You can walk away. I’ll understand.”
“No.” Sam said softly. “No.” He said with a bit more conviction, he was getting into his new ‘character’ now. “I haven’t gone soft, I’m just a little out of my head today.” Sam knew that if he abandoned her now she’d have no chance. He’d just have to play along until he figured out what to do. “I’m your man.”
“That’s my Bro! You and me, Tommy and Alex -unstoppable!” The ivory man laughed and slapped Sam on the back. “Make sure you get a good shot of the wrists. I have to admit I was a little skeptical when you said we should use wire instead of handcuff, but I can see the advantages now. I don’t know how it is that you have flashes of genius, but you do. Must be good genes.”
Alex’s laughter rung painfully in Sam’s ears as he walked to the bottom of the stairs. Sam looked up the wooden steps to the lone door. He took a deep breath and climbed the stairs slowly. When he opened the door he found that the statue still hadn’t moved. He closed the door softly behind him.
“Don’t be afraid.” Sam felt stupid saying it, but he had to say something.
“I’m not afraid.” Scully lied.
Sam didn’t know how to respond. What could he possibly say? Trying to console her was futile, practically insulting. If he really didn’t want her to fear him he wouldn’t have kidnapped her in the first place. Sam shook his head sadly and unwillingly lifted the camera.
Sam was startled when she reacted. The sight of the camera was the first thing he had seen put a look of fear in her eyes. He’d only seen a flash of the expression because she quickly turned away and shook her head so that her hair fell over her face concealing her features.
“I’m not trying to capture you soul.” Sam said half jokingly. “I just need a few pictures, I’m sorry.”
“Please don’t.” Scully whispered more to herself than anyone. “It won’t help.”
“What do you mean?”
“You want something, you must or I’d be dead. Not something from me, you want something from the FBI or my partner, I don’t know which. But you won’t get it. The FBI does not negotiate with terrorist, their hands will be just as tied as mine. Pictures will just drive my partner insane. I’m sure that’s exactly what you want, but you don’t know him like I do.” Scully looked up at Sam. “I want one of us to live through this.”
Sam stood frozen. It was such a simple request. She wasn’t even asking for her own salvation, she wanted mercy for the sake of another. Sam had never seen anything like it. They hadn’t captured a woman, they’d imprisoned an Angle.
He remained indecisive for a moment and aimed the camera again. He took six quick shots, of the floor. It seemed the perfect solution, Alex was obviously going to send the film itself he would never know. Sam suddenly had the idea of turning the camera’s eye on himself when the door opened.
“Any shots left on this thing.” Alex breezed in and snatched the camera. “Six, good. For once I’m glad you’re slow.”
“What are you doing?”
“I suddenly remembered that you have no artistic style whatsoever.”
It had all happened so quickly that Sam couldn’t even say exactly what had happened. All he really knew were the results. Scully was laying on her side gasping for breath and swallowing convulsively. Her once abraded wrists now bled freely.
“It’s almost a shame we can’t get copies of these, eh?” Alex asked laughing as he pulled the spent film out of the camera. “At least one of them must be worth framing. Oh, well. I’m off to the post office, I’ll be back later tonight.”
Alex went to leave. “Oh, I almost forgot.” He tossed Sam a small leather case. Sam caught it without even seeing it. “I brought that upstairs for you, you deserve it. You kids have fun while I’m gone.”
And like a summer thunderstorm that goes as fast as it comes he was gone. In a trance Sam looked down at the object in his hand. Slowly he opened it and stared at the contents. It was all there, the whole kit: a lighter, syringe, bent spoon, tourniquet, and a small vile of white powder. Sam dropped the heroine case like it was a poisonous snake.
Sam rushed over to help the fallen Agent. However, Scully took his advances the wrong way and struggled to tear herself away from him. Still stunned by all that had happened in the past hour Sam reacted in a manor that only made matters worse. He tried to release her wrists despite the fact that she was fighting against him.
The wire had become a slippery tangle that seemed to have no end and no beginning. Sam tried several times to untwist an area so he could unwrap the whole thing. Scully’s violent thrashing was not making things any easier. Sam slipped on a free edge and sliced his hand open.
A rare moment of anger seized Sam. He snaked one hand into her hair and held the wire trap in the other. He gave both a sharp jerk to get her attention.
“Hold still!” Sam snarled. “I’m trying to help you!”
Scully cried out in pain and fear from the contradiction that was attacking her. Sam suddenly came back to his senses and realized what he’d just done. He let her go at once and stared horrified at the blood on his hands.
He barely made it to the small adjoining bathroom in time. He wretched until bile burned his entire throat. He went to brush away the tears that had spilt and only succeeded in smearing blood on his face. Sitting on the floor he leaned against the bath tub and desperately attempted to get his panting breath under control.
“It’s okay, Sam.” A paternal voice broke the silence. “Come on, get up.”
“Al!” Sam reached out to touch his friend, but there was nothing but air. “Al, what’s going on?” Sam held out his blood soaked hands. “What have I done?”
“You haven’t done anything,” Al said in a calming tone “it was instinct.”
“It is not my instinct to hurt people! I was horribly cruel to tha...”
“Sam, stop. Take a deep breath. Instinct has nothing to do with the mind, everything to do with the body. And the body you’re in wants to kill, loves it. You’re going to have to be very careful not to let the physical flesh take over again.”
“No, no. Al it was different. I was so angry, I wanted...”
Sam looked up at his best friend, the only person who knew who he really was anymore. Al knew who Sam was better than Sam himself these days. He let the tears slip down his blood stained cheeks freely, unashamed to cry in front of the hologram. Obedient to Al’s unspoken request Sam calmed himself.
“Better. Now then, get up and wash the blood off for starters.”
Sam took a few deep breaths and rose on shaky legs. He turned on the water and washed off the physical stains if not the mental ones. Without further instruction he hunted through the medicine cabinet for some hydrogen peroxide and some gauze. There was a small bowl under the sink collecting water from a drip, he took this as well. He looked at Al again for courage and stepped back into the bedroom.
Scully had managed to sit up again and watched Sam with a weary eye.
“Easy, Sam,” Al advised “you have to keep it in mind that she sees you as the enemy.”
Sam stopped about ten feet away and set the things he’d brought out down. Scully didn’t take her eyes off Sam to look at the gifts. Sam sat down and stayed still for a moment. Al stood back to keep from being a distraction.
“Things have gotten out of hand.” Sam finally said. “Now, I’m not going to make you ask me for help, I can see where you’d think it was a trick. However, I would like to get the wire off your wrists and do what I can to stop the bleeding. Will you let me?”
“Under one condition.” Scully finally conceded.
“Who are you?”
Sam looked back at Al for a full name. Al poked at the jewel coloured hand held unit. “Sorry, Sam, I don’t have a name here. Don’t look at me like that, Ziggy can only work with what’s on record. And these two were never caught.”
“Tommy Ri...” Sam went to make something up.
“No.” Scully said sharply. “No. Tommy is the man who kidnapped me. I want to know who you are.”
“Don’t tell her, Sam she’ll never believe you.”
“Sam, Sam Beckett.”
“Bad move.” Al chastised.
“Sam.” Scully repeated, she assumed the tone that one takes when talking to a child. “That’s a nice name. Very honest.”
“Does this mean you’ll let me take off the wire?”
“Watch it, Sam.” Al warned. “She might bolt, I’ve been outside there’s nothing for miles, she’ll be in just as much trouble out there.”
“Okay.” Sam answered them both. “Dana? Right?”
“Okay then, Scully. I’m going to come over there, but I’m warning you there is nothing but wilderness for miles around.”
“Sam, look at me. I’ve been kneeling on this floor for over twenty hours, I haven’t slept since Thursday night. I don’t have the strength to run.”
It took nearly half an hour, but Sam managed to work off the wire without doing too much in the way of further damage. Scully immediately brought her hands around in front and rotated her sore shoulders. Sam went over to the assortment of first aid stuff and brought it back over. He sat down in front of Scully and offered her his hand. She hesitated, but conceded. Remembering his medical training Sam started to gently clean the crimson and gory marks.
“So, Sam,” Scully said carefully “I heard you arguing, in the bathroom. Were you arguing with Tommy? I bet you guys fight a lot, he gets you into trouble. Like now.”
“What? I told you Tommy’s not here. You’re safe.” Sam dipped the cloth he was using to soak up the blood in the little bowl full of peroxide.
“Yes, of course. Sam’s here right now. I’d much rather talk to you than Tommy.”
“I don’t...” Sam stopped and smiled. Without really thinking about it he turned to Al. “She thinks I have split personality disorder.”
“Well you are talking about her in third person to the air, as far as can see.” Al replied.
Sam turned his attention back to his patient. “Are you a doctor?”
“Yes.” Both Al and Scully answered in unison.
Sam finished cleaning her right wrist. He pulled out a long piece of gauze and wrapped it professionally around the injury, bringing one strip up around her thumb to keep the bandage in place. When he was done she pulled her hand back and inspected the work with a puzzled look.
“What’s going to happen?” Sam asked Al while taking Scully’s other hand.
“That depends on you, Sam.” Scully answered.
Sam continued to sop up the blood while Al battled with the handheld connection to the supercomputer Ziggy.
“According to Ziggy in five days, on Wednesday August 13th, 1999, Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully was presumably shot and killed during negations for her release.”
Sam gave Al a quizzical look.
“You’re probably wondering about the ‘presumably’ part. Well, since the kidnappers were never found nor the body, the only testimony to her death came from her partner. A one Special Agent Fox William Mulder. Fox?” Al asked himself. “Anyway, according to the file we hacked into he was on the phone with the kidnappers when it happened. Uh-oh.”
Sam looked up sharply from his work.
“After the death of his partner Agent Mulder spends a week in a mental hospital, and immediately upon his release...kills himself. Gun shot wound to the chest.”
No, Sam thought looking at Scully, not to the chest. To the heart.
Mulder came into the office an hour earlier than usual. It wasn’t that there was any work to be done, they were between assignments at the moment, or anything so mundane. He tested the door and was pleased to find it locked. Scully didn’t usually come in early, but it would be just like her to do so today.
“All right guys, all clear.”
“Are you sure this is going to fit?” Langley asked.
Mulder looked at the desk in the hall and at the door. “No problem.”
“I don’t think he meant through the door, Mulder.” Byers clarified. “I think he meant in your office in general.”
“It’s a zoo in there.” Frohike observed. “Our place is better than this, and there are three of us.”
“Don’t be such pessimists, guys. Will just clear a path.”
“I think they said the same thing about the Suez Canal, and that ended up taking forty years.” Frohike grumbled.
“I thought it was more witty than ‘funny’ per se.”
After much shuffling of paper and miscellaneous paraphernalia the unlikely movers managed to find enough empty floor space to add one more desk to the growing collection in the X-files office. They stood back and admired their work. It wasn’t anything special physically, just a standard desk, but it still made Mulder smile to look at it.
“So exactly how long has this desk been on ‘back order’?” Byers asked.
“Six years, as of today.” Mulder replied.
“That’s a long time.” Frohike commented.
“Hey, it’s not like forbade her from bringing a desk down here.”
“That’s not what I was talking about, Mulder.” Frohike looked at the ‘I believe’ poster. “I’ve known you since you started here, ten years ago, and in all that time this is the only partner you’ve held on to for more than three months.”
“I hadn’t really thought about it.”
“Not that I blame you for keeping her around. She’s so hot.”
Mulder rolled his eyes. “Out, go on, out. You’ve over stayed your welcome.”
“What?” Frohike gave a look of innocents. “See the thanks we get, guys?”
“Thanks for all your help.” Mulder conceded. “I’ll see you guys later.”
“See ya later, Mulder.” Langley waved. “I predict that desk will be buried under a sea of paper before Scully even gets here.”
“Be gone, Demons.” Mulder laughed.
Mulder sat down at his own desk and pulled out some paper work that need to be tended to. It wasn’t until 8:30 that he was disturbed by a light knocking at the door. At first he didn’t even notice the sound -no one knocked on that door, they just came in. The knocker tried again a bit firmer.
“Yeah?” Mulder said finally taking notice.
“Morning, Agent Mulder.” A bright eyed man of about twenty-five hesitantly stepped into the office.
“Hi. Steve isn’t it? From mail.”
“That’s right, Sir.” He held out a large envelope. “This came for you this morning. I’m not supposed to deliver it, but I thought since, well, working on the X-files and all... I thought it might be important.”
“Why shouldn’t you be delivering it?”
“No return address. We’ve got all sorts of polices and rules about that kind of stuff. Tests and X-rays and all. But I thought X-raying might destroy it.”
“I think it’s undeveloped film.”
Mulder looked at his watch, it was nine thirty already. He picked up the small roll of film and turned it over in his hands. It had come with a short note: “Develop this with someone you trust, someone who can keep a secrete”. Mulder’s first thoughts were that it was a roll of fuzzy, vague, might-be-a-UFO-might-be-a-pie-pan-on-a-wire pictures.
He’d decided against going to Rick, his unofficial photo expert, right away. Mulder wanted to be around when Scully came in. However now that it was approaching ten he figured she probably wasn’t coming in till noon, something she did on Mondays when they didn’t have an assignment. She had plenty of paper work at home to work on, and until now it was easier for her to do it at home then here.
Taking one last look around Mulder got up and went to hunt down Rick. Agent Tyler, as Rick was officially known, was at his desk involved in an engrossing game of ‘Quake’. He casually looked up as Mulder approached and smiled.
“Slow day up here as well, eh?” Mulder greeted. “It’s nice to know that it isn’t just us rejects in the basement.”
“Well these are the Dog Days of Summer. It’s too hot out there for crime.”
“Yeah, only that office based, air conditioned, ‘white collar’ stuff this time of year.”
“Can I ask a favor?”
“Sure, I’m not doing anything.” Rick looked around to make sure no superiors were about.
“I need this developed.” Mulder handed over the film.
“What’s on it?”
“No idea. It came in the mail this morning, no return address of course.”
“Ah, like that is it?” Rick said knowingly.
“Who knows, maybe photographic evidence of Little Green Men.” Mulder winked.
“I doubt it.”
“Oh? Why?” Mulder said sarcastically.
“It’s black and white film.”
“Damn.” Mulder laughed.
“I’ll have this back to you in about half an hour, there’s only a dozen shots here.”
“Hey that’s better than Walgreens can offer, it always takes them five hours to do any ‘one hour’ processing. I’ll be downstairs. Thanks, Rick.”
“No problem. But these better not turn out to be porn.” Rick teased.
“I make no promises.”
Half an hour later, almost to the second, a knock came again at Mulder’s door. Mulder pushed his chair away from his desk, but made no attempt to get up. He looked at the door and suddenly wondered why he bothered to keep it closed.
Agent Tyler opened the door just enough to let himself in and then made sure to close it tight behind himself. He looked nervously around the room, as he did so his face turned a few shades whiter. It took him a while to finally lay his gaze on Mulder. Tyler held a manila envelope tightly in slightly shaky hands.
“Rick? Are you all right?”
“Uh, yes, it’s just...”
“Did you develop the film already?”
Rick nodded in response, his mouth suddenly dry.
“Agent Mulder, where’s Agent Scully?”
Early Monday morning Sam climbed up the stairs with breakfast. Not that Scully had eaten anything he’d brought yet, but he figured he’d keep offering. Sam knocked softly on the door to announce his arrival. When he entered he found Scully sitting on the bed staring vacantly out an open window.
“Thinking of jumping?” Sam laughed nervously.
“Yes.” Scully kept looking out at the forest. “But it’s just two stories. I’d only hurt myself. And of course...” She rattled the handcuff that held her to the bed rail.
Sam kept still for a moment, unsure of what to say. Eventually Scully turn her attention to her guest. Sam was shocked to see her actually flash a smug smile in his direction.
“Very funny.” Sam said relieved.
“At this point if I lose my sense of humor,” Scully turn back to the window “I’ve lost everything.”
“You’ll still have your faith. Keep your trust in God and...”
Scully jerked and turned on Sam again silencing him. The hint of mirth she’d show had drained away from her face almost as quickly as the blood. Sam saw the closest thing the world would ever see to ice on fire reflecting in her eyes.
“I’m, uh, I’m sorry. I saw your cross. I didn’t...”
“Don’t you dare speak of Trust to me!” Scully spat. “And don’t even pretend to know God!”
“What do you even want? I don’t understand.” Scully had control of herself once again. She sat back on the bed and gave Sam a penetrating look. “You go to rape me and then stop, you clean the wounds you inflicted on me, you speak of a God whose rules you disregard.” Scully paused. “You’ve taken my freedom, and I don’t even know why.”
Before Sam could answer, not that he had a plausible one, Alex stepped into the room. Sam could swear he felt the temperature of the room plummet. He fully expected to see his breath when he finally exhaled.
“She’s alive, I can’t say much for the ‘and well’ part though.” Alex said conversationally into Scully’s hijacked cell phone. “Want to chat?”
Scully looked down at the phone that had just landed on the bed. She could faintly hear Mulder’s voice, but she made no move to retrieve the gift. Alex shifted his weight nervously and walked over.
“Pick it up.” Alex snarled.
Scully looked up at him. Fuck you. She silently mouthed in a way that ensured he’d understand.
Alex’s breath hiss across his teeth in a pantomime of anger. He drew his hand back to strike her, but Sam was quicker. A look of sheer surprise washed over Alex. He took a step back and pulled his wrist way from Sam’s grasp. This time Alex directed his fury directly at Sam.
Being proficient in Judo kept Sam safe from Alex’s first attack. However the well built man was blind with rage at this point and kept coming like a ravenous lion. Sam fought him off as best he could but eventually found himself pinned against the wall. Alex held him there with his pale face flushed with blood.
“What has gotten into you?! I’m not going to let you mess this up, Tommy. I know how you sometimes get about people touching your things, but she’s mine for now! Okay? Don’t get in the way, you don’t understand. I’m not going to let our father ro...”
Alex stopped suddenly.
“We need to talk.” He said coolly and let go of his new captive. “I, I haven’t told you enough about what’s going on. Come downstairs. Afterward...well, just come down stairs.”
Sam looked over his shoulder at Scully as he went to follow Alex.
Scully stared at the pain in Sam’s eyes. He looked like a lost child who didn’t know who to turn to for help. She’d never heard of such a complete case of split personality. Everything about him seemed different, even the way he walked. It was enough to make her doubt her theory. But if not split personality then what?
“Scully?!” Mulder’s voice miniaturized by the distance distracted her. “God damn it! What the fuck is going on?!”
Scully picked up the small phone and held it in front of her. He must have heard the fighting, but he couldn’t possibly understand. She wavered for a moment with her thumb hovering over the ‘end call’ button. She wanted so much to talk to him.
“Scully? Anybody? Please answe...”
After ending the call Scully flung the phone as hard as her tired muscles would allow. With a sharp crack it slid down the wall in several pieces.
“How old were you when father went to prison, Tommy?”
Sam thought furiously while Alex sat calmly across the dinning room table waiting for an answer. An answer Sam didn’t have. This whole leap was a disaster, there simply wasn’t enough information for him to work off of. Where was Al? Not that he had any information either.
“You were six, right?” Alex provided the answer.
“That’s right.” Sam replied as if he’d thought of it himself.
“That was twenty years ago. I remember, I remember that day well. I was sixteen. I had turned sixteen the very day he was taken from us. He was all we’d had at the time, you probably don’t even remember our mother. You were only four when she left us.” Alex sighed. “She was beautiful, raven black hair. That’s where we got our hair, father had that mousy brown colour. Not suitable for a man in his profession.” Alex went silent for a long time, lost in memory.
“What? Oh, right. Anyway. Like I said I had just turned sixteen and father felt that I was old enough to experience some carnal pleasures. I had been waiting for this day, what young boy doesn’t? I told him there was a particular whore on fifth Ave. that I’d been watching for some time.
‘Whores are for people who can’t do better, son.’ He had said with a wink. ‘We can do better, now can’t we?’”
Alex shifted his weight and leaned forward. He was no longer looking at Sam, his eyes had lost focus.
“I have to admit I didn’t know what the old man was talking about at the time. That night we stood watch in the car outside a downtown night club. I still had no idea what we were doing there, but my heart was racing a hundred miles an hour with excitement. Eventually I took visible notice of a young blonde that stepped from the club. She was weaving in a drunken manor. I kept my eye on her as she stumbled down the street alone, further and further from the lights of the club.
‘You like that one?’ Father asked knowingly. He pulled out the most beautiful switchblade knife I’ve ever seen.” Alex reached into his back pocket and pulled out a silver knife. “This knife.” He opened up the blade to show that he’d kept the six inch steel honed like a razor.
“‘Happy birthday, son’. He said to me and handed over the knife. He smiled and then jerked his head in the direction of the retreating blonde. ‘Go get her, she’ll make you a man.’”
“That’s when it dawned on me. I couldn’t believe it, not in my wildest dreams...”
While Alex savored the memory silently for a moment Sam struggled to keep his stomach under control. He wasn’t sure how much more of the gruesome story he could listen to. Of all the vile crimes. Sam suddenly remembered what he had been doing when he’d leapt in. If he had leapt in a few minutes later... Sam stopped before he started to wretch at the thought.
“I’ll leave out the gorier details of my encounter with the blonde.” Alex continued. “A gentleman never tells.” He chuckled. “However, when I had finished I noticed that my hands were burning hot. Looking up all I could see was red, even in the dim light of the dirty alleyway I could see the colour like it had a light of its own. I had held the new gift to her throat to keep her quiet, and at some point I must have pressed too hard in my excitement. I wasn’t used to such a sharp weapon. In any case, she was dead. My first rape had turned into my first murder.
It was so unexpected that I dropped her, the knife still embedded in her ruined throat. I was paralyzed until I caught motion from the entrance of the alley. I reached down and snatched the knife back and whirled on my discoverer.
‘Good reflexes, son.’ It was just the old man. ‘I didn’t mean to kill her!’ I cried softly. ‘Don’t worry about it. Just go back to the car and wait for me. Try not to be seen.’
I took one last look at the dead woman. I was disgusted with her, this was her fault, if she hadn’t struggled so hard... In my anger I knelt down and plunged the knife into her still heart. After pulling away I ran back to the car to wait. It was approaching three a.m at that point in time so I made it to the car without being spotted.
I waited for half an hour and the old man still wasn’t back. I would have waited all night, but I heard sirens in the distance. I should have stood my ground, I should have waited, but I was so frightened. I came home, washed, burned my clothing, cleaned the car as best I could, and then waited.
When dawn struck it became clear to me that he simply wasn’t coming back. Something had gone wrong. So I packed a few things, grabbed some cash and drugs, dragged you out of bed and into the car. That was the day I became your new father. And I’ve watched over you ever since.”
Alex reached out and brushed Sam’s cheek affectionately. He took Sam’s wrist and turned his hand palm side up.
“See?” Alex pointed to a tattoo that Sam couldn’t see. He could only see his alter ego in mirrors. “This mark right here, your first. Remember? I took you out just like father had, only I didn’t make the mistake of giving you a razor.”
Sam stared at his clean flesh and tried to imagine what hideous art work decorated it. No wonder Scully flinched when he offered her his hand. He was suddenly grateful that she had decided to trust him at all.
“W...what” Sam’s throat was dry “happened to...father?”
“That’s where the redhead fits in. I read in the papers a few days later what had gone wrong. Father had picked up the body and was carrying it to a dumpster at the other end of the alley. Someone stepped out of the back door of some psychic’s parlor and into the alley. That man just happened to be an off duty FBI Agent. Which is an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one: no Agent is ever off duty, it’s a lifestyle, a permanent trait. Father had his arms full with the woman and was unable to kill the Agent before he figured out what was going on.
After a quick trial father was sent to a Federal Prison, for life. Our father protected us through the whole thing. He said his wife had run of with his children so no one came looking for us. Not that they would have found us. I might never have made it through High School, but I have more smarts then that.
That was all a long time ago. Father is getting old, he’s not a threat to anyone anymore. He didn’t even commit the crime he’s in for. It was my fault, I should have come forward, of course they quickly found other things to incriminate him. The house was searched and I didn’t have time to get all the drugs out. Anyway, he came up for parole last week, but they rejected.
I can’t stand by any longer! That’s why we’re doing this! I should have told you years ago, I don’t even remember what lie I told you about father getting caught.”
“You want to arrange a trade.”
“Exactly!” Alex leapt up. “And I chose our victim for a little added irony.”
“Agent Mulder was the man in alley.” Sam whispered to himself.
“Yes. Just another case of wrong place, wrong time.”
“Then why didn’t you take Agent Mulder?”
“I thought this would be more fun.”
“So?” Alex said holding his hand out to Sam. “Are we cool? Are you in it full heartedly now?”
“Sam! What the hell is going on?” Al had just arrived on the scene.
“Are you with me?” Alex repeated.
“Yes, of course.” Sam agreed to buy some time. He looked sharply at Al.
“Sam, things have changed. I don’t know what you did, but now Agent Scully’s death is no longer reported as happening on the 11th. The file now states that she died ten minutes ago!”
Sam sprang up and pushed past Alex. He dashed up the stairs and flung the door open. Scully was still there, still staring out the window. Everything seemed to be in order, as orderly as a kidnapping could be. Al appeared upstairs and he started looking around.
“Sam, over here.” Al tried to kick the remains of the phone, but his foot passed right through. “This is why they think she’d dead.” Al punched at the handheld. “Yeah, they never hear from her or the kidnappers again. They used the time the phone went out so there would be something on the death certificate.”
Sam went over and picked up one of the larger pieces. It was hopeless, it would never work again.
“Now you can’t use me against my partner.” Scully said defiantly while watching the outside world.
Alex stepped into the room and looked around in confusion. He spotted Sam and the broken phone in his hand. At first Sam thought that Alex was actually going to laugh. After a tight lip smile an unreadable expression spread over his long features. Alex came over and took the plastic casing. He turned it over in his hand a few times before dropping it.
“Sam,” Al said slowly “you’ve got to take him down now. He’s not going to take this peacefully. You might not get another chance.”
Sam shook his head. Not only did he believe in words before violence, but he also knew that Alex was carrying a very sharp knife.
“Alex, it’s okay, it’s just an inconvenience...”
Alex looked up into Sam’s eyes with a patronizing look. It had been a dumb thing to say, they had no other way of calling, and therefore no way to deal. Without a word Alex put his hand on his belt buckle and deftly unfastened it. He pulled out the leather strip and held it like a poisonous snake. Grabbing both ends in one hand Alex rushed at Scully with a cry of rage.
“Sam!” Al cried in warning.
Sam was already in action. He put himself between Scully and her attacker just in time to catch the strap in the shoulder. Sam gritted his teeth against the sudden flash of pain. It was like someone had splashed boiling water on the spot.
“Tommy! Get the fuck out of my way!” Alex roared.
“Don’t hurt her, this isn’t going to help father.” Sam remained shielding Scully.
Alex paused. He dropped the belt. “You’re right.” He said slowly. “I’ve been foolish.”
“Don’t trust him, Sam.” Al warned.
“Here,” Alex reached in his pocket and pulled out a small key. “We’ll let her go right now.”
“Watch him.” Al cautioned again.
Alex leaned over and unlocked the cuff that was attached to the bedrail. With the speed of a cobra he locked it tightly on Sam’s wrist. He slapped his hand down on Sam’s injured shoulder knowing that it would set the area on fire again. Sam growled but didn’t fight back, he’d just end up getting them both killed instantly.
“Traitor!” Alex snarled. “Or maybe you just need some time with her to see that she’s just another whore. Either way, I need some time to think. This hurts me, Tommy, it really does. I’ve always been there for you, and until now you’ve always been there for me. Think about that. I haven’t given up on you entirely, honestly. I’m sure you’ll find a way to prove yourself to me again. But until then...”
Alex retrieved his belt and calmly walked out to the stairs closing the door behind him.
“Now what?” Al asked sadly.
“Get off me.” Scully demanded.
“She doesn’t seem very grateful.”
“I don’t blame her.” Sam replied not caring that Scully didn’t understand. He complied with her request and sat next to her on the bed. Sam held up his right wrist only to find it securely attached to Scully’s left.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped at you.” Scully apologized. “Thank you for protecting me.”
“It was the least I could do.”
“No, the least you could have done would have been to watch him beat me to death.”
“She has a point there, Sam. You were very brave to get in that lunatic's way.”
“Yeah, well, I haven’t exactly improved the situation.” Sam sighed. “He’ll probably kill us both now.”
“You shouldn’t talk like that,” Al said in a paternal tone “she’s scared enough as it is.”
Sam smiled and instead of answering directly he turned to Scully. “You seem to be taking all this better than I am.”
“Sam,” Al replied. “you of all people should know not to be fooled by exteriors.”
Instead of words Scully reached into the inner pocket of her jacket and pulled out what looked like a thin leather wallet to Sam. When she opened it he realized that it was her badge. Scully used her nails to pick the laminated license out of its holder revealing a second one under the first. She retrieved this second card and held it up for Sam’s inspection.
“That’s my partner.” Scully explained with a sad smile. “This is his old badge, it should have been destroyed when he got it renewed. However, mine had just expired by default because I had been missing for a long time. No, don’t ask. Anyway, he gave me this and took my old one in return.”
Scully paused for a second. This was the closest Sam had seen her to tears since he’d leapt in. He looked up at Al, he knew what it meant to have a loyal partner. He’d be lost without his holographic guide and companion.
“He told me to keep it with mine,” Scully continued without taking her eyes off the card “so that no matter what happened, no matter how far apart we were, we’d still be at each other’s back. It would keep us from ever being completely separated again.” Scully laughed gently to keep her voice even. “Mulder’s so superstitious. But I did keep it. And you know what?”
Scully turned her wet eyes toward Sam.
“I’m glad I did.”
Mulder stopped pacing uselessly around Skinner’s office for the first time in hours. He sat down at the meeting table which was now covered in various machines and computers. Not that any of it could even begin to be useful without the phone ringing first. Mulder checked his watch again. It was four-thirty. The first and only call had been at ten-seventeen. Mulder looked up at the handful of people that were faithfully standing by.
“Agent Henderson.” Mulder singled one of them out.
“You’ve recently been married, right?”
“That’s right, a month ago.”
“Excuse me, Sir?”
“You heard me, go home. Go surprise your wife, take her out to a nice dinner or something.” Mulder sighed. “There’s no reason for you to be here. Any of you. There’s no reason for any of you to stay here. Please, just go home.”
“Agent Mu...” One of the other’s started.
“Leave!” Mulder growled threateningly.
All eyes fell on Skinner, except for Mulder’s which were closed in frustration. Skinner nodded in agreement. The others hesitated for a moment and then left as quietly as possible. Skinner closed the door after them and walked back over to the table.
“They’re not calling back.” Mulder said calmly.
“We don’t know that, we have to at least give them twenty-fo...”
“No. You don’t understand. They’re not going to call back because they can’t.”
“I don’t follow.”
“I’ve been thinking about that call, it’s burned in my memory. I figured out what happened hours ago, but I didn’t want to believe it.”
“What are you talking about, Agent Mulder.”
“The fighting, there was fighting, but it wasn’t between Scully and the kidnapper. It was two men, there are two kidnappers. I’m convinced of this. Something caused them to turn on each other. The other one probably didn’t want to let me talk to Scully, but first one had already put the phone down next to her, you could tell by the way the sound got muffled. Then they started fighting, forgetting the discarded phone. Which Scully then picked up.”
“If Agent Scully had the phone why didn’t she talk to you?”
“Because she’s smarter than that.”
“They were never going to get what they wanted, right?” Mulder asked rhetorically. “Scully knows better than anyone that we don’t negotiate. Ever. She has declared her life forfeit. She didn’t talk to me because she knew it would just drag things out. She knew that letting me know she was still alive would just make things harder for us both”
“Just because Agent Scully knows we won’t bargain doesn’t mean the kidnappers know it, or else they wouldn’t have bothered in the first place. I can’t believe that they aren’t calling back because she’s telling them it’s useless.”
“Don’t you see?” Mulder picked up his cell phone. “Scully ended that call, not the kidnappers. And afterwards...”
Mulder slung the phone into the far wall with rage enhanced force, effectively illustrating his point.
“Are you all right?” Scully asked.
“She’s right, Sam, you don’t look so good.” Al joined in. He hadn’t left since Alex had trapped them both upstairs several hours ago.
“I’m fine.” Sam answered them both. “It’s just a little cold in here.”
“Cold?” Scully repeated. She looked out the window at the bright August day. “It has to be nearly ninety degrees in here.” Scully raised her chained hand forcing Sam to lift his. “You’re shaking.”
“It’s nothing, really.” Sam pulled both their hands back to the bed.
“How long has it been since you chased the dragon?” Scully asked seriously.
“Dragon? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Heroin, Sam.” Al clarified. “She’s talking about your heroin addiction.”
“I don’t have a heroin addiction.” Sam snapped at Al.
“You don’t, but Tommy does.” Al replied calmly. “And right now you’re borrowing his body. You’ve had similar problems with diabetic hosts, remember?”
Sam looked down at his own hand and saw the trembling. He didn’t understand why he could see himself and not the body he was in, except of course when he looked in mirrors. Ziggy theorized that it was mechanism that his mind used to keep itself sane. A memory trick of sorts so he wouldn’t go crazy from seeing so many people as himself. Sam had to admit that the body that he saw as himself didn’t seem to be aging.
“I’m sorry.” Scully finally said cautiously. “I didn’t mean to offend. It’s just that you seem to be spiraling into classic withdrawal.”
Sam sighed. “No, no, you’re right. I... I’m trying to quit.”
“Now?” Scully paused. “Not that it isn’t a good thing, you should quit. However...”
“It could take weeks, and it’s going to get a hell of a lot worse.” Sam finished. He looked up at Al. “Now what?”
Al didn’t respond. And from his silence Sam knew what Al had in mind for a solution.
“Oh, no! Absolutely not!”
Scully pulled away as best she could unsure of what to say to a man ranting to thin air.
“Sam.” Al said firmly. “You have to. If you let the withdrawal get any worse you are not going to be able to help anyone.”
“No, I can’t!”
“Damn it, Sam! I don’t like this any better than you do, but it’s the only way!”
Sam shook his head like a stubborn child. His heart was starting to race, whether from fear or withdrawal he didn’t know. He knew that heroin not only effected the body, but also the mind. And his mind was the only thing he had left. Sam jerked away from a sudden touch.
“It’s okay, Sam.” Scully brushed his cheek again. “Look at me, whatever you’re looking at, whoever you’re talking to, isn’t real. Okay?”
Sam turned his attention away from Al.
“That’s better. Stay with me, Sam. I won’t survive if Tommy comes back. I need your help and you can’t give it to me like this. I’m sorry Tommy did this to you, but now is not the time to fight this particular demon.”
“Listen to her.”
Sam looked back and forth between his companions. He laughed softly. My best friend and a medical doctor are pushing me towards trying heroin. Will my life ever make sense? He thought. Sam took a deep breath.
“All right.” He conceded.
The kit was still laying forgotten on the floor. Sam got up and went over to it, bringing Scully along. He stood holding the small leather case motionless. Hesitantly Scully reached over and took it from him and lead him back over toward the bed.
They both sat down cross legged facing each other. Scully opened the case and looked through it.
“Are you right handed?” Scully asked.
“That complicates things. It would be easiest to just let me do this for you, but you’ll have to trust me.”
“I’m not sure I like this, Sam.” Al started to pace. “If she wanted to she could easily overdose you. I know you probably don’t think she’s capable of killing in cold blood, and you may be right. But trust me, she won’t see it as cold blooded. She’ll see it as self-defense.”
“What choice do I have?”
It didn’t take long to melt down the white crystals into an injectable form. Scully didn’t bother with the small tourniquet, she knew how to find a vein without it. Sam watched the procedure like it was just another scene from a movie. Even when she pulled back on the syringe plunger to make sure she’d found her mark and the clear liquid transformed to red he hardly noticed.
However, after Scully had given the dragon a taste of his blood and set it free in his veins Sam realized fully what had just happened. The dragon swam fast through Sam’s system, devouring pain as it traveled. Half cousin to Opium, brother of Laudanum, and son of Morphine. Finding its way into Sam’s heart the dragon unfurled his wings and soothed the savage beating to a mere hum.
“Sam?” Al’s voice was dripping with concern. “Sam, are you all right? Talk to me.”
“Never better.” Sam breathed quietly.
“I bet.” Scully replied.
Scully sighed heavily and gazed at the empty syringe in her hand. She knew full well the lineage of the drug she held. In the beginning it was going to be the world’s savior: extinguish all pain, enhance pleasure. It had been invented by a doctor trying to free the world from the binds of opium. But the dragon is a greedy creature and does not swallow pain for free. Although you have to live to pay the price...
“Don’t even think about it, Sister.” Al snarled, reading her expression.
Scully shook her head as if coming out of a dream and came back to her senses. She placed the contents of the case back in their proper place and set it on the floor. Sam started to lose his balance and fell back, taking her with him. Sam giggled to himself while Scully fought to sit up again.
“The initial high will pass soon.” She said more to herself than to Sam.
Scully looked up sharply as Alex stepped into the room, with her gun in his hand.
“Not soon enough.” Al lamented.
“Sam!” Al cried. “Snap out of it! At least get up.”
Alex walked slowly over to the bed. Looking at the prone Sam he instantly figured out what had happened. A lupine grin spread across his face.
“Well, that’s an encouraging sign. Maybe that’s what’s been wrong with you, not enough stabilizer in your system. Eh?” Alex chuckled. He turned his attention to Scully. “How about you? Did he share?”
Scully stared through him as effectively as she could see through Al.
“No.” Alex said playfully. “No, I didn’t think so. Too pure. You made a mistake there. The dragon could have helped you through the next few hours. I’ll give you one more chance on that, just say the word and I’ll be more than happy...” He trailed off.
Scully’s glance impulsively flickered to the leather case.
“Don’t, don’t let the devil tempt you.” Al pleaded. “I know you can’t hear me, but listen to me anyway. Give yourself at least half a chance, give Sam half a chance.”
“Well?” Alex asked.
Al held his breath praying that she’d say no. Scully did more than say no, she said nothing at all.
“Fine, suit yourself!” Alex growled at he lack of response. She spoiled the game by refusing to even play.
“Good girl.” Al breathed a momentary sigh of relief.
Alex reached down and grabbed Sam’s shirt. “Get up.” He hauled Sam to his feet dragging Scully with him. “Go on, over there, by the wall.”
Alex pushed them both against the wall and stood back. He looked them over like someone trying to decided on which puppy to take home from the Humane Society. Now on his feet Sam looked a bit more connected with his surroundings.
“That’s you, Sam.” Al provided.
“You better now? Feeling more yourself?”
“Good, because I’m going to give you one last chance.”
“Sam? You’d better be acting.” Al warned.
“It will be.” Alex assured him. “Our plan simply isn’t going to work. I can see that now. So I guess I’m going to have to settle for revenge.”
Alex turned his attention to Scully. He came close enough for her to feel his hot humid breath sticking to her suddenly icy skin. Alex reached up and gently traced her jaw line with a single finger nail.
“I’m a throat man myself.” He said conversationally. He started to trace a line where Scully’s pulse fluttered beneath the skin. “I know, I know, it’s messy. But there is just something so satisfying about watching the life just slip right out of someone. It’s even more gratifying when you’re robbing the world of a beautiful creature at the same time.
Tommy here, he’s a bit different. He prefers firearms. It’s a bit of a hobby of his, well one of his hobbies anyway. You’re already familiar with some of the others. Now, I’m sadistic, I’ll admit that here and now. But Tommy, well, he’s just sick. He doesn’t enjoy the quick action of silting someone’s throat. He hates women so much, maybe because our mother left, maybe it’s just his nature. I don’t know.”
Alex slowly drew his touch down until he could spread out his palm on Scully stomach. He lingered for a moment and then shifted his hold so he could grip her side. With his thumb he searched just beneath her ribs for a particular spot. When he found it Alex violently pressed and held tight pushing her closer to the wall.
Scully bit back a cry of pain. Eventually she started to pant to control the sensation.
“Let her go!” Al roared uselessly. “Sam! Do something!”
Sam didn’t seem to respond to Al’s call. Al wondered if he even knew what was happened a foot away.
“You know what that is, right?” Alex hissed. He jabbed harder. “Answer me!”
“Liver!” Scully answered despite herself.
“That’s right.” Alex eased up on his grip slightly. “That’s where Tommy always places his bullets. Even if the women find help before bleeding to death, they usually don’t survive. Blood poisoning, it sets in very quickly with an injury like that. What doesn’t set in very quickly is death itself. Tommy says he had one last nearly ten hours. You can bet that she was begging Tommy to kill her. He just responded ‘I already have’. That’s the brother I know.”
Alex bore his thumb deep into his captive side again. The resurgence of pressure pushed Scully over the threshold that years of abuse had raised to an almost insurmountable height. Desperate to remain silent, to rob her tormentor of the satisfaction, Scully concentrated on the hiss of her breath rushing in and out of her lungs.
“You’re sick!” Al cried. “Sam, don’t let him do this!”
Sam turned away from Al’s fierce glare.
Weary of his cat and mouse game Alex drew away from Scully. The release was almost worse. Scully had felt herself on the edge of unconsciousness, and now even that escape had been taken from her. She looked to Sam for help, but he wouldn’t even face her. Alex reached out and snatched her gold necklace away and placed it in his shirt pocket.
“I’ll make sure your partner gets this.” Alex turned to Sam. “All right Tommy. Here’s the deal, this is your last chance.”
Alex held out the gun. Sam just looked at the steel weapon for a moment. Then he reached out and took a firm grip on it. Alex laughed as Sam turned to Scully. She flinched as the metal pressed against the throbbing spot on her stomach.
“What are you doing?!” Al was practically jumping up and down in frustration. “Don’t shoot her! Shoot him! Don’t let Tommy’s instinct tarnish your heart.”
Sam looked down at the terrified woman he had pressed against the wall. Water spilt from her eyes, but she still refused to cry.
Trust me. Sam thought and pulled the trigger.
In another world Mulder was working on a little liver damage of his own. The hard Russian vodka burned at his throat and kept a small fire stoked in his stomach. He wasn’t even sure how long he’d been sitting at the back of the dark smoky bar. Long enough to drink half the bottled he’d purchased.
The first thing he’d done upon entering the bar was to scribble his address on the back of one of the coasters.
“Make sure I get here at some point in time.” He’d said and handed it over along with a hundred dollars to the bartender. “That should be more than enough for that and the strongest bottle of vodka you have.”
“Bad day at the office?” The bartender had said while handing over the bottled.
“You have no idea.” Mulder opened the bottle and drank straight from it. “You know what the secret to happiness is?”
“No, that’s just to dull the senses. The key is to never cherish anyone else’s life above your own.”
“You mean love?”
“That’s right.” Mulder took another pull at the vodka. “Never love anyone.”
“Sounds like a lonely way to live.”
“It’s better than the alternative.”
The sound alone was almost enough to send both Scully’s and Al’s laboring hearts into shock. At first she figured that her overwrought system had simply released enough endorphins so that she didn’t feel the pain of the devastating wound. However, she’d been shot in the stomach before and knew what to expect, and it wasn’t this.
“Sam, how on Earth did you know the gun wasn’t loaded?” Al was still highly agitated. “Please tell me you knew. You can’t play Russian Roulette with a semiautomatic weapon, you know?”
“Congratulation!” Alex cried happily. “I knew I could count on you. Of course I still wasn’t about to hand over a loaded weapon to a crazy druggy who's been acting awfully strange lately. Even if he is my brother.”
Without a word Sam turned and held out his empty hand to Alex. Scully helpless mimicked the action like a marionette. Alex smiled and reached into his back pocket. Pulling out a single brass coloured bullet he placed it in Sam’s open hand.
“You’ve earned it.”
“Sam?” Al said slowly. “You’re starting to scare me again. Make sure you point that in the right direction this time.”
Scully watched Sam open the gun with less than an experienced hand. She steadied herself and kept her eyes on the weapon like a lioness in the bush watching a zebra drink. Sam managed to snap the clip back into position. The first time he’d just kept the weapon in his free left hand. Now he shifted it to his right.
With the last amount of adrenaline her system had to offer Scully jerked the chain that bound them with enough force to cut into Sam’s wrist. Before even Alex could react Scully wrapped her free hand around the gun and easily took it from Sam’s inexperienced hand.
Alex suddenly found himself with the cold steel pressed against his chest. Scully was expecting him to show at least some fear, but he only laughed.
“Back!” Scully hissed.
Mocking her Alex put his hands up and took a few steps back. Scully kept her aim trained on his heart and her eyes on his. She jerked the chain again to get Sam to move in a position where she could at least try to watch them both.
“Very impressive, little girl.” Alex laughed. “But we seem to have a bit of a predicament on our hands. On the one hand you do have your weapon back, but on the other you only have one bullet. Think about it. Who are you going to kill? Kill one of us and the other will enact their revenge instantly. So which hand would you rather die by? The choice is yours.”
“Quiet!” Scully demanded.
“If I were you,” Alex continued “I would turn the gun on myself. At least that way you’ll get away with a quick death.”
Scully’s aim stared to waver. It had been so long since she’d had a chance to rest. And she couldn’t be in her right mind or else the madman in front of her wouldn’t be making so much sense.
“Sam,” Al said. “I know you had a plan, but I doubt this was part of it. Don’t let Alex talk like this, he’s going to talk her into killing herself!”
Al was right, this hadn’t been part of the plan. “Scu...”
It happened so fast, Sam didn’t even understand the implications of the hot blood streaking down his face.
Distracted for a fatal moment by Sam’s calling her name Scully had taken her eyes off the predator in the room. Alex had been waiting for the opportunity and never hesitated. The flash of silver caught the corner of Scully’s eye and she fired while her eyes were still on Sam.
When she looked back Alex stood inches from her, knife still in one hand the other at his throat. Alex sputtered and more blood stained his lips. He slowly took his hand away from the fatal injury and stared in horror at the crimson colour. A small hole in the side of his throat wept thick blood. He reached out imploringly to Scully with the first look of true fear stamped on his ghostly white face.
Scully paid the dying man no heed, she didn’t even pause to wipe his blood off her face. His gory hand slipped down her once white blouse as he dropped down to his knees. Scully took the opportunity to drop the useless gun and snatch the knife from Alex’s shock weakened grip.
Sam stood paralyzed, staring at the man die like a gutted fish. This wasn’t what he had planed. He didn’t want all this blood shed, he couldn’t kill like this. It was sickening.
Sam heard Al’s warning to late. Scully had him on the floor next to the dying man in seconds. She wasted no time in pinning him down with the razor sharp knife pressed up against his abdomen. Sam wasn’t sure why he wasn’t dead already. With a flick of the wrist she could slit his stomach open. And the look in her wild eyes told him she wanted to. She already was already covered in blood, what would a little more matter?
“Damn it!” Al got down on his knees. “Please! He saved your life. I know it doesn’t look that way, but believe me! Sam, say something!”
“I won’t blame you.” Sam whispered.
“Not that!” Al cried. “Dana Katherine Scully don’t you dare take my partner from me!”
Scully flinched visible. She looked up and for a moment Al could have sworn she saw him. She brought her eyes back to Sam and seemed to see him pinned helplessly to the floor for the first time as well. With a cry like an insane wolf she plunged the knife into the hardwood floor.
“Thank you.” Al whispered hoarsely.
Getting off Sam as gracefully as she could manage Scully turned to the dying Alex. He wouldn’t live much longer, but the life had yet to completely slip away. Ignoring his feeble struggling Scully reached into his pocket and pulled out both her necklace and the tiny handcuff key. She unlocked her side and struggled to her feet.
“Wait,” Sam called sitting up “where are you going?”
“I have to go, I don’t have much time.”
“Mulder thinks he knows where I am and he’ll follow me there.”
“Whoa, wait a minute.” Things were happening too fast for Sam once again. “Where?”
“Into the shadow of the Valley of Death.”
“She’s right, Sam,” Al looked up from his handheld “you have seven hours to get her back to her partner. He’s decided not to wait.”
“We’re not out of the woods yet, Sam.”
Sam listened to the water run in the bathroom. He looked down at the now thoroughly dead Alex. For some reason Sam couldn’t believe all that had happened. He’d seen deaths before, but nothing so violent and unexpected. Sam shook his head and took this opportunity to talk to Al.
“Seven hours?” Sam asked. “That’s not enough time, I don’t even know where we are.”
“Georgia? How do you know that? You said this location wasn’t on file.”
“It isn’t.” Al took a long pull on a cigar he’d recently lit. “Sam, where do you think I was on Sunday. You think I take days off. I went to find the nearest town so we could get a fix and get directions back to D.C.”
“What did you do, walk?” Sam asked jokingly.
“It’s only twenty miles from here, and I only had to walk one way.”
“You’re incredible, Al.”
“Yeah, well, save the thanks for later. You still have to convince her to let you take her back. I don’t think she’s going to be too interested in your help.”
Scully came out of the bathroom somewhat cleaner than when she went in.
“What I wouldn’t give for a toothbrush right now.” Scully commented. She walked over to the corpse and tried to turn him over. “Help me.”
Wordlessly Sam help her flip the body on it’s belly. “What are you doing?”
Scully didn’t answer. She fished around in Alex’s back pocket until she found what she wanted. Picking up the discarded gun she reloaded the clip with the five bullets that Alex had stashed. Scully cocked the weapon and pointed it at Sam.
“Come on, let’s go.” Scully said calmly.
“You’re letting me come?” Sam asked incredulously.
“I’m certainly not leaving you here.” Scully snapped.
“Don’t question her, Sam.” Al suggested. “Just get out of here. The clock is ticking.”
“Right.” Sam was beyond arguing. “Can I have the handcuff key?”
“Sam, she’s not inviting you along for the company.” Al explained. “As far as she is concerned you still kidnaped her and tried to kill her. You’re a prisoner now.”
“Of course.” Sam muttered.
He lead the way downstairs and took the car keys off the nail by the door. Once by the car he went to hand Scully the keys. She backed away and raised the gun again.
“Of course, you don’t know the way.”
“That’s one reason.”
Sam smiled sadly and got in the car. He’d never been this mistrusted by someone he was trying to help before. It wasn’t that he blamed her for wanting to keep her distance. It was just frustrating to be hated so deeply.
“Don’t take it personally, Sam.” Al said reading his friend’s mind. “She’s been through a lot.”
“I know.” Sam muttered as Scully got in the passenger side.
She reached over and clamped the free end of the cuff to the steering wheel. Sam didn’t mind, Al was right, she had every right to be afraid of him. He started the car and pulled out onto the dirt road and turned right at Al’s indication. A few miles down the road Sam noticed that the adrenaline that had kept Scully alive was starting to fade fast.
“Why don’t you get some sleep? We’re going to be on the road for a few hours.”
“No. I’m fine. I’m just...”
“Tired?” Sam supplied.
“Worried.” Scully corrected.
“I’m not going to hurt you.”
“I know that.”
“Then wha...” Sam stopped. “Your partner, that’s what you’re worried about.”
Scully just turned to stare out the side window.
“He’s going to be just fine. I promise.”
“You don’t know that.” Scully whispered. “You don’t know him.”
Sam decided against further conversation. There wasn’t anything he could say to make things better. Like most things it was going to simply take time. And hopefully they’d make it in time. With that thought Sam nudged the speed up a bit higher. They had reached a highway and hopefully wouldn’t be pulled over for speeding. It might be a little hard to explain why he was covered in dry blood and chained to the steering wheel. It wasn’t until two hours latter that Sam decided to open his mouth again.
“Umm, you wouldn’t happen to have any cash on you?”
“You took my wallet along with my gun. I only got one back. Why?”
“Well. We’re going to run out of gas soon.”
“Take this next exit.”
“Going to the police?”
“No. I’ll be trapped in the station for hours, maybe overnight.” Scully scanned the options that the exit had provided. “Left. Pull into that hotel parking lot.”
“What are we doing?”
“Adding grand theft auto to your list of accomplishments.”
“Just act natural.” Scully offered. “On second thought, you just stay here.”
“This is never going to work.” Sam protested.
“This will work.”
They had been waiting in the parking lot for about half an hour before their mark pulled into the hotel. They had watched him stop at the gas station on the corner before stopping for the night so the tank would be full. Scully buttoned her jacket to hide the blood on her shirt as best she could and hustled into the hotel lobby. Soon the middle aged business man came in to rent his room for the evening.
Scully listened carefully to the room number and made her way to the proper hallway while the man went back to his car for his stuff. She stood just on the other side of a cross passage and waited for him patiently. It wasn’t long before his footsteps could be heard. Just before he came to where she was waiting Scully stepped right into his path.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” The man apologized and offered his hand to help Scully up. “Are you hurt?”
“No, I’m fine. I should have been paying better attention.”
Scully accepted his help and added her own strength when he pulled her up so that they bumped into one another again. Scully smiled and stepped back. The business man blushed furiously.
“I’m sorry.” He apologized once again in a flustered tone.
“Not a problem.”
Scully ducked past him and headed quickly for the door. She had counted on him being too embarrassed to mention or perhaps even notice her more than somewhat disheveled appearance. It seemed to have worked. Sam was outside next to the car looking nervous. Scully walked up and tossed him a set of keys.
“I’m not even going to ask.” Sam laughed. “And if we run out of gas again, are you going to pull this little stunt again?”
“Of course not.” Scully reached into her pocket and pulled out a thick leather wallet.
“Ha!” Al barked. “She got the wallet too.”
“I thought you were supposed to be the Law around here.” Sam joked.
“I work for the government, we’re above the Law.” Scully smiled. “Besides, how else was I supposed to know who to give the car back to when this is over.”
Sam drove again, however Scully allowed him a bit more of his freedom this time around. Hopefully the car wouldn’t be missed until the next morning and by that time they’d be off the road. Still Sam’s heart jumped every time a cop passed. It seemed like days before they made it into the Washington area, but it was only just turning ten.
“We’re cutting this close, Sam.” Al warned. “Officially the last time he was seen alive was nine-thirty. That was when the bartender at the Fox Den, of all places, called him a cab. After that it’s impossible to tell what happened exactly. Oh, and you’ll be making a right soon.”
“Turn right up here.” It was the first thing Scully had said since the pick pocking incident.
“See? We’re not totally lost here in the Future.” Al remarked.
It was obvious that Scully was back in her own territory. As they past certain landmarks she smiled or made comments to herself. It had only been a few days, but it must have seemed like coming home after a lifetime Sam thought to himself. If he ever managed to get home... Sam shook his head and kept his eyes on the road. Finally Scully directed him into a small parking lot outside of a somewhat rundown complex.
“Scully?” Sam asked when she didn’t move for a moment.
Scully started like she’d been woken.
Sam clipped the free end of the cuff to the steering wheel himself. “Before you go listen to me carefully. I may not be safe to approach in the morning, okay?”
“I know.” She turned to look at him. “Guardian Angles can’t stay on Earth forever.” Scully leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Thank you, Sam.” She glanced in Al’s direction. “Thank you both.”
Before either of the men could respond Scully was out of the car and heading off towards the building. The pair just stared at her. She made her way through the parking lot like an animal that had just been released back into the wild.
“Did she...” Al said slowly.
“See us?” Sam finished. “I think she did.”
“What’s so funny?”
“The idea that after all we’ve been through together that you could still think that *anything* was impossible.”
Scully didn’t really want to wait for the elevator, but at the same time she wasn’t sure she had the strength to make it up the stairs. The elevator door opened into a dimly lit hall that had always seemed a little unreal to Scully. She’d always felt a chill walking down the derelict passageway and this time was no different. However this time her heart raced as well with the single thought:
What if I’m too late?
Standing outside Mulder’s door Scully took a deep breath and knocked. A knot firmly tied itself in Scully’s stomach while she waited. She was about to knock again when the door opened a few inches. Mulder never just opened his door, he didn’t trust the world that much. It didn’t take long, however, for the door to be flung open wide.
Mulder stood frozen in the door way staring at Scully with a confused expression. Scully stared back unable suddenly to think of anything to say. The gun that Mulder had absently mindedly brought with him to the door clattered to the floor. He hesitantly reached out and brushed Scully’s cheek softly. Up until that moment Scully had seriously doubted that she’d even be able to enjoy human contact again. However she had forgotten how gentle and comforting Mulder’s touch was.
Mulder smiled and started to gently laugh. The tension that had been building since she’d first been struck down in the parking lot four lifetimes ago broke at the musical sound of Mulder’s laughter. Scully found herself giggling right along with him. Mulder reach out and pulled his resurrected partner in to a warm embrace. Scully wrapped her arms around his waist and returned the gesture. The events of the past melted away and for the moment Scully allowed herself to listen to her partner’s heartbeat and simply enjoy feeling safe again.
Noticing that Scully was starting to slip into unconsciousness Mulder picked her up and carried her carefully into the bed room. He laid her down and turned to leave her to some much needed rest. Scully reached out and caught his untucked shirt. Mulder hesitated for a second before accepting the unexpected invitation. Scully curled up against Mulder’s side once he’d laid down. He gently stroked at her tangled hair, but she never noticed. For the first time in four days the waters were calm and she could sleep peacefully.
For Sam, however, there would be no such rest. He had already been thrown back overboard into the tumultuous sea of Time.