Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2001 2:32 PM

SPOILER: Very slight for THEEF S7 action takes
place after the events of this episode.

THANKS :A big thank you to Bone Tree, who did a
wonderful job of knocking the piece into shape,
under very trying conditions. To Kim 1013, without
who's beta skills, this would not be as good as it
is. Thanks Guys!

SUMMARY: Mulder doesn't want to admit it, but he's
being stalked.

DISCLAIMER: Any characters you recognize belong to
Mr. Carter & Co. Rule of thumb, if you recognize
them, there's a good chance they aren't mine.
Doesn't stop me messing with them though, purely
for the fun of it, monetary gain has never been an
issue here.

ARCHIVES: You mean, I don't have to pay? Let me
know where it's gone please!

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Thanks to Bone Tree's wonderful
beta, I decided to rewrite a good deal of this.
Although the sequence of events remains more or
less the same, I'd like to think that this version
has more depth.

Feedback please!

Visit me and read my other x-phile stories at

FOX HUNT part 1


Standing in front of her bathroom mirror, Scully
brushed her auburn hair
considering all her options. A Saturday, all to
herself. What to do? So many possibilities.

She felt a little like a child in a candy store
who'd been told to choose
whatever she liked. The possibilities were endless.
That was the problem,
with so much choice, she couldn't decide.

She looked into the mirror, into her own blue eyes-
and shuddered. Seeing their reflection so clearly
reminded of how much she had almost lost, How close
she'd been to losing even more than her sight. Her
blindness, albeit for a short time, because of
Peattie had done to her was still the stuff her
nightmares were made of. She had felt so afraid, so
vulnerable. She was a person who *needed* to be in
control of her life. Three weeks...surely she
should be getting over it by now.

Her gloomy train of thought was interrupted by the
sound of the phone ringing in her living room. Was
it Mulder with some new lead that would undoubtedly
ruin her weekend? Quickly she moved to pick up
before the answering machine kicked in.

"Is Mulder there?" asked a familiar voice.

"Frohike." She pinched the bridge of her nose.
Great. "What do you mean? Why do you think Mulder
would be here?"

"Umm. Sorry Scully. It's just...I-I'm not quite
sure how to say this."

"What is it with you? Is it just a guy thing that
you can't get to the point? If this is a social
call...." Scully's irritation with Mulder's little
friend had reached her tolerance level. How dare
Mulder and his cohorts ruin her weekend! Couldn't
she have *one* day away from all this?

"It's not a social call, it's business. I'd really
appreciate being able to talk to you in person.
It's,'s pretty delicate. I know I don't
have the right to intrude on your weekend, but I
need to see you as soon as possible."

The prickling on her skin intensified, her hair on
her neck standing on end. The feeling of
foreboding grew with every passing moment. She
tried to make a joke of it, knowing how unjustified
the comment was even as she said it. "Why, Frohike,
what's going on? Is this some new form of perverted
come on, you and Mulder haven't been laying bets
again have you?"

"You wound me agent Scully. I guess there's no way
to say it but to say it.
Mulder is in trouble."

She felt her ears pricking up, the whole of her
body coming to attention. "What do you mean, *in

"I can't say more over the phone, that's why I need
you to come over."

"Just one question Frohike. Does Mulder know you're
doing this?"


"I thought not."

"Please Scully, this is serious..."

There was knocking on her door.

"Look, Frohike I've got someone here. I'll get back
to you later.

She ended the call and went over to the spy hole to
see who it was. She saw the distorted face of her
landlord. What did *he* want? Scully was puzzled as
she opened the door to him.

"Ms. Scully? Sorry to bother you on a Saturday, but
I thought I should give
you fair warning. I've been trying to catch you for
the last few days."

"Why? What's the matter?"

"It's the tenants next door to you, or should I say
the ex-tenants. I don't
know what they did to their bathroom, but It now
needs complete remodeling.
I've got the workmen coming. What I'm trying to
say, is that there's going to be a lot of noise,
water will have to be cut off for some time and
can't the power supply might be a little erratic
from time to time. As they're in there I may as
well get some extra power points put in.

I realize it's a lot to ask at such short notice,
but if you've got someplace else to stay for the
weekend it might be advisable. They're planning to
work quite late into the night. It's a big job and
I need it finished ASAP, you understand..."

The rest of what he was saying was drowned out by
hammering and the whine of an electric saw.

Did she really have an option on this? Frohike's
call that had her rattled.
She would go over there see what the hell it was he
wanted and then pack a bag and get over to her
mom's. So much for a quiet weekend.

9:45 AM

She arrived at the Lone Gunmen's quasi fortress
just over an hour later. She heard the bolts being
opened and finally Frohike himself appeared At the
semi-open door. He looked pleased to see her.

Hopefully, he could see she was not in the best of

"About time too." Scully wanted him to cut to the
chase so that she could reassure him and get on
with her free day. "Don't you think this all a
little dramatic Melvin? If this is one of your
stupid pranks, you'll be very, but I mean *very*

There was a slight smile playing on her lips.
Melvin Frohike knew her well enough to know not to
push his luck.

Placing his hand on her elbow, he escorted her in
through the door and cut to the chase. "He's been
getting letters, emails, incoherent things really,
promising dire consequences unless-" Frohike broke
off the sentence, hesitating. "Listen, he'd kill me
if he knew I was telling you, but he absolutely
refuses to go to the police, won't take it
seriously at all." Frohike blew out a breath of
exasperation. "Well, *you* know Mulder."

Scully could see he was for real with this. He'd
been genuinely worrying about what to do with the

"I checked out some of the letters and emails, and
had come up with absolutely zilch, and that was
precisely what's bothering me."

He went over to a locked drawer and, snapping on
latex he removed a large

"How many?" She asked. Gradually her feelings of
irritation gave way to concern.

"Three. The first one came ten days ago, the second
three days later and the last one yesterday."
Scully also took a pair of thin rubber gloves from
her purse and pulled then on before reaching for
the letters.

"Why have you got them?"

"He showed them to me, and then he was going to
throw them out, just ignore
them. Said it was probably some nut with time on
their hands."

"And you thought they were important?"

Scully read all three letters. The wording was
almost identical in each of them. Each contained
the message that it was payback time. Each
threatened Mulder with terminal force if he went to
the police.

"So, you don't think these are some sort of a
prank? Frohike shook his head.

"I don't understand? He can't go to the police with
these letters or they'll kill him. Why? payback
for what? Have they made other demands?"

"That's the point, they haven't said as yet. It may
well be some nut, but
from past experience, those are the most dangerous"

"We're not even investigating anything worth a damn
at the moment," Scully

She looked back at the letters she'd spread out on
the desk. There was no
hope for a telltale broken key being struck over
and over again. The day of
the typewriter was long since gone. Technology made
life a lot tougher.
Printed n a laser printer, the letters were all
unremarkable and could have
come from any one of a million printers. She sighed
as she replaced each
letter in it's envelope.

"So, who's he pissed off recently?"

"You really wanna know? Do you have that much time
to spare?" Scully added
with a humorless laugh.

"Well, It isn't his landlord. I checked that one
out, he doesn't even own a

"Good work. Frohike. That only leaves about another
thousand or so to go." She couldn't help the faint
note of sarcasm creeping into her tone.

"Please, Scully, I'm really worried about Mulder,
he's reckless when it comes to his own safety. He's
not taking this seriously." His words surprised her
but they also gave her a glowing feeling inside. It
was good Mulder had someone else to worry about him
other than herself.

Frohike looked at her seriously. "So, your gonna
watch his back for him?"

Scully was in two minds. What made her really angry
was that someone like Frohike could doubt the fact
that she'd always look out for her partner, no
matter what.

"Do I have a choice?"

"So you'll do it?"

"Yeah, yeah." She walked towards the door.

"Be careful." He added as she closed the door
behind her.

11:20 AM

No matter how much she tried to deny it, her
stomach turned over in
anticipation as she drove back home. She should
have her head examined for
even thinking about moving into Mulder's apartment,
much less actually
planning how to accomplish it. So why in heaven's
name was she?

Because if this was on the level then Mulder needed
her, she thought.

Having successfully parked outside her building,
she shut the car door behind her. She knew very
well he wouldn't go to the police. It wasn't so
much the threats. Her partner just had a natural
distrust of official agencies. It seemed to come
with the territory. What worried her was his
propensity for doing something stupid and getting
himself hurt.

Besides, if anyone was going to shoot Fox Mulder,
it was going to be her.
She'd earned the right. In spades. The thought made
her smile.

She turned towards the building, trying to think
how she was going to
persuade Mulder to let her stay with him, *without*
him getting the wrong ideas. She hated being less
than honest with him, but she could imagine his
reaction if she told him the whole truth. Mind you
she thought Hadn't Mr. Kowalski provided her with
an excuse? She didn't *have* to tell Mulder she was
at his apartment more for his sake than her own.

Judging by the timing of the previous letters, if
the psycho stalking Mulder ran true to form they
should hear from him on Monday. By that time they
could have got a handle on all this.

She went in to pack a bag. She could hear the noise
from the apartment next-door. She picked up the
phone to tell him her predicament.

"Umm, Mulder, it's me."

"Hey, speak up Scully, I can hardly hear you. You
got workmen in or something?"

"I need to ask a favor" She turned away from the
party wall I an effort to cut out some of the

"Is that better?"

"A little. You were saying, Scully?"

"I need a favor."

"For you Scully, anything."

"You might not be saying that, once you've heard
what it is I need," she all but shouted over the

"Speak up Scully."

"I don't have workmen in, but next door do. I need
a place to stay for a few days."

She told him of the events of the morning, missing
out the phone call and her visit to the Gunmen.

The sound effects must have added some credibility
to her request for 'asylum'. Mulder was very
sympathetic, saying she was welcome to stay over as
long as was necessary. Scully was relieve at how
easily he'd agreed. She'd been expecting to have to
work a little harder at persuading him, but then
she'd never really expected him to refuse her.

Twenty minutes later, she was in her car, guiding
it into the stream of traffic, heading for her
partner's home.

He snapped to attention the moment he saw her car
pulling out across the
street. It had taken her long enough.

Narrowing his dark eyes in concentration, he slid
down the worn seat of his
nondescript car. He didn't want her seeing him. Not
that she was looking for him, not yet.

Smiling he turned the key in the ignition, the
engine fired smoothly at the
first attempt. It might look like a heap of junk on
the outside, but things
should never be judged by appearances.

He pulled out smoothly following her at a discreet
distance. It had started
to rain again. The drizzle would help to shield

A slow mournful tune came from the tape deck. A
funeral dirge. How fitting,
he thought.

Excitement pumped through his veins. Gently he put
his foot on the gas. It
was beginning.

12:20 PM

Everything still smelled wet from the morning rain,
but as she came the entered Mulder's building, the
sun was finally trying to come out.

She smiled as Mulder opened the door to her.

"Hi, Mulder. Since when have you started taking
shower's with your clothes

"Yeah, very funny. I've just this minute got in
from a run. It wasn't raining when I set out. Look
Scully, make yourself useful while I go clean up.
Order in a pizza, it must be your turn. All this
exercise has made me ravenous." He waggled his
eyebrows suggestively, a wolfish expression on his

She couldn't help herself, she felt her eyes
rolling upwards as a smile crept across her face.
"Go, Mulder, get in that shower, and make it a cold

She phoned out and ordered a 'Mulder special'.

Mulder was still in the shower some ten minutes
later, when there was a knock on the door.

"I swear he does that just to get out of paying,"
Scully muttered to herself as she went to open the

A man wearing the telephone company uniform stood
outside. "Sorry to bother
you on a Saturday. We've had reports of faults in
this building. We're
checking all the apartments. Had to leave it till
Saturday to try and get all the people who are out
at work. We're trying to cause minimum disruption.
This won't take more than a few moments." He
flashed his ID at her.

"Mulder! Mulder?" He obviously couldn't hear her
over the noise of the shower and his own slightly
off key singing.

"Umm, you'd better come in." She invited the
engineer in. "The phone is just over there on the
desk," she said escorting him across Mulder's
living room towards the cluttered table by the
window. She moved an untidy stack of papers and
files out of the engineer's way.

"I'll leave you to get on with it," she added.

She placed the jumbled pile on the coffee table and
turned to go to the kitchen

Scully sighed as she moved around Mulder's very
basic kitchen putting some plates to warm. She
pulled a couple of iced teas out of the fridge. She
hoped this guy wouldn't be too long.

There was something vaguely familiar about the
repairman, nothing she could quite put he finger
on, something about the set of his shoulders.

"There," the repairman announced as he come towards
the kitchen; "that should put you back in

He made her jump. She hadn't heard him come up
beside her, holding out a work order for her to
sign. Some special agent she was, Scully chided
herself as she took the clipboard from him.

The was the vaguest of scowls on the man's face as
he left. Perhaps he
expected a tip, Scully thought.

She couldn't get it out of he head that she'd seen
him before. Maybe he
resembled someone on television or just someone
she'd seen somewhere. She had no idea why there was
this feeling of uneasiness when she'd looked at the

Mulder chose that moment to emerge from the
bathroom. "Food here yet?"

"No, but you've had a visit from the telephone

"Oh, okay, fine." Mulder seemed a little

"Mulder, is everything all right"

"Yeah, perfectly fine, just been a long week that's

So he wasn't going to mention anything about the
threatening letters and
emails. That's okay thought Scully, two can play at
that game. She walked over to the counter in the
kitchen to fetch the drinks.

Mulder ran a restless hand through his damp hair.
He sat down on the couch and surfed the channels
until he found the Knicks game. It had just
occurred to him that here she was in his apartment
with him for the next few days and he'd rather be
on his own.

Mulder was a little annoyed at himself. Must be
sickening for something he thought. Under normal
circumstances he'd have relished his good fortune,
but the letters had shaken him more than he cared
to admit. Maybe the death threats were getting to
him. Maybe he was actually beginning to believe the
melodramatic threats in the letters he'd been
getting at regular intervals over the past ten
days. Maybe that's why he couldn't find a place for
himself lately. He tried to rationalize his reasons
for not wanting to take the threats seriously. It
was almost as if as long as he didn't take any
notice of them, nothing could happen.

Scully was here with him, she'd be sharing his
apartment for the next few days and he felt edgy.
If anything he should feel protected with her here.
This wasn't the first time she'd stayed over. He'd
spent a fair bit of time at her apartment too, when
the need had arisen.

It was ironic really, but it wasn't her presence
that was making him feel this way. Not nervous;
more edgy, as if nothing was quite right anymore.
Maybe the threats had brought it all home to him.
If by some quirk of fate these threats were on the
level and he died tomorrow, would he really have
lived at all? By his own standard's not other
people's. Had he really been alive at all by his
own standards?

He realized that his hands were clenched. He
straightened his fingers with a jerk. Lately he was
losing interest. Even his love for the x-files
wasn't enough to erase this inner turmoil he
constantly wrestling with.

And Scully. He remembered when her laughter had
filled the air, making him
feel a myriad of things all at once. So many
emotions, so many feelings, all colliding into each
other, taking possession of him. It was
frightening, not being able to control his own
response to a woman who whispered along the
perimeter of his mind like a gentle breeze. It was
fearsome, especially to a man who was so accustomed
to being in control.

Mulder swore softly under his breath. Was it the
letters that were making him so maudlin, making him
reassess his life, and come up short? They had
nothing to do with his partner, yet somehow, all
the threats seemed to evoke thoughts of Scully.

Taking a deep breath, he tried to concentrate on
the game that was being
played out on the TV screen in front of him,
grateful that Scully had taken
this opportunity to sit at his desk and do some
work on h laptop. He wasn't in the mood for

His distracted deliberation was interrupted by the
knocking on the door.

"Finally." Mulder pulled himself off the couch and
went to the door to check on who it was. "Food."

As Mulder paid the pizza man, Scully cleared the
papers off the coffee table in an attempt to make
some room for the pizza.

"What do you want me to do with these, Mulder?"

"Oh, just stick them all on the floor, over there
in the corner."

The seductive scent of pepperoni, garlic and
peppers drifted through the living room, making
Mulder realize just how hungry he was.

They spent the rest of Saturday afternoon catching
up on paperwork. Mulder was surprised at how much
easier it seemed working with Scully beside him,
the remains of the pizza resting on the desk
between them.

By five, Scully called a halt. Mulder was quite
taken aback when she suggested they go down to his
local seven-eleven and pick up some groceries. She
argued that as he was providing the roof over her
head, the least she could do was to cook for them.

An hour later they were getting back into his car,
the makings of a lasagna and roast dinner for
Sunday stored safely in brown paper sacks in the
trunk. Between them, on the front seat next to the
consul lay their final choice of video. Mulder had
enjoyed their banter as they'd spent a little time
in the shop deliberating the merits of Steel
Magnolias versus Sixth sense. In the end they'd
both decided on some light entertainment and come
out carrying Home Alone 2.

The evening passed in a warm, friendly fuzz. As he
washed up later, he wondered why he'd avoided
mentioning the letters.

Later, as Scully got ready for bed in the bathroom,
he checked his emails prior to shutting his
computer down for the night. He was rattled to find
the anonymous, blank email among his other
messages. He deleted it without saying anything to
his partner.

Sunday came and went. In the morning they worked on
finishing off their paperwork.

He smiled as he imagined their superiors face next
day when they presented him with the documents all
correct, signed and on time. Even the expense sheet
had been filled in with all the relevant little
bits of proof attached.

While dinner cooked in the oven, the partners
decided to go for a run. Mulder hadn't enjoyed a
Sunday so much for ages. He came back from their
run, hot and sweaty but in high spirits.

This was dashed the moment they got back through
his door some two hours later and he saw the 'you
have mail' symbol flashing on his computer. He felt
as if he'd been punched in the stomach. He knew
what it was even before he opened it. He waited
until Scully had gone in to take a shower before
opening it. His fingers shook on the mouse as he
opened up the screen and selected the little closed

Okay, so it was blank and anonymous. He tried to
think of all the possible rational explanations,
but somehow he couldn't convince himself that this
was nothing at all.

The shine had gone off the day. Scully didn't
understand why suddenly he'd clamed up.

He toyed with his dinner, forcing himself to eat
the some of the meal they'd had such fun preparing
earlier when he saw the miserable look on his
friend's face.

He managed to hold onto his meal until Scully had
gone down to her car to fetch her book.

By the time she'd got back, he'd cleaned up,
pretending everything was fine. He didn't think he
could put up with her fussing over him tonight.

For the rest of the evening, he paced his apartment
like a caged tiger, occasionally picking up his
basketball and bouncing it on the floor. The
atmosphere in the apartment grew tense. They sat on
the couch in silence, making a pretence of watching
the movie.

By nine, Scully suggested that she turn in, saying
that she wanted to do a bit of reading. He didn't
miss the hurt, confused look in her eyes.

He lay on his couch, the TV muted surfing the
channels, trying to convince himself that his
course of action was the right one. If the threats
were real, he didn't want to put his partner in

Mulder would be glad to get into work tomorrow,
maybe Skinner would have something really way out
for them, some nice exsanguinations, a moth man or
two, something to sink his teeth into and really
piss his partner off, to feel normal again.

Basement office
Monday 8:15 AM

It was Scully's idea that they come into work in
separate cars, she'd used
the excuse that they might have need of them during
the day. The fact was she didn't want to confirm
the fact that she'd spent the weekend at
Mulder's. The gossip mill in this place needed no
encouragement. He was going to follow her in later.
He'd told her he had to see the Gunmen. He hadn't
offered a reason, and she hadn't asked.

She was surprised when ten minutes after her
arrival as delivery boy knocked on the office door,
a long white florist box in his arms. "Ms Dana
Scully?" He inquired.


"These are for you. "

The teenager handed her the box and left. Scully
stood for a moment rooted to the spot, before
looking down at the gold lettering which proclaimed
the contents to be from a very expensive, very
exclusive flower shop.

The Secret Garden...mmmm...Mulder. Was this his way
of apologizing for last night? She'd tried not show
him she'd been upset, but he must have noticed
anyway. All of a sudden, the week ahead looked

She slid the ribbon off the box as she placed it on
Mulder's desk, sorry,
their desk. Sliding back the green tissue paper,
she stopped to admire the lush pink roses lying
beneath. She touched one, sliding her finger down
soft petal. Pink roses had always been her
favorite. How did he know? Maybe Mulder was turning
over a new leaf, becoming more sensitive.

She could smell the fragrance of them from where
she stood. Scully reached in to scoop the flowers
out and felt something sharp rip into her fingers.
The sudden gasp of pain was involuntary as she
pulled her hand away quickly.

Blood dripped from three of her fingers, dropping
on the white box. She
pressed her thumbs against the injured fingers to
stop them dripping over the desk, and looked around
for the box of Kleenex.

"I thought they dethorned roses before they sent
them," she said to the empty room.

Her fingers stung like hell, but at least she
wasn't dripping blood all over the place.

She went in search of her first aid kit. Peroxide
and Band-Aids were the
order of the day. She winced as the peroxide came
in contact with the wounds.

When she'd taped up her fingers she tipped the box
out on the desk. She
wasn't about to impale herself on anything else.
Tumbling out, with the roses were two what looked
like bougainvillea stems, the thorns on each, thick
and large.

"How the hell did they get in among the flowers?"

A note fell out with the roses. She picked the slip
of paper up, but other than the detail of the shop,
there was no other writing on it. She put it to the
side. She would ring them up later and express her
feelings about the 'extras'.

She went in search of a vase and some water to put
the roses in. After she'd done that and placed them
on top of the filing cabinet. Then she wadded up
some paper and with great care picked up the blood
stained bougainvillea stems and put them back in
the box.

She was more shaken and upset than she was ready to
admit even to herself. She went to get herself a
cup of coffee to calm herself. Even taking into
account the letters and the effect they may have
had on her partner, this was all getting weirder by
the minute. Mulder had *never* sent her flowers

By the time she got back with her Styrofoam cup of
hot liquid, Mulder was
sitting at the desk. She was surprised at how pale
he looked.

"Mulder? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Well you don't look very fine to me. C'mon tell
me. What's wrong?"

Mulder sat for a moment, looking at her. She could
almost see him debating with himself whether he
should tell her. He was afraid; that much she could
see. Was it because he was afraid that letting her
in on this might endanger her?

"C'mon Mulder, what gives?" Scully didn't feel like
the epitome of patience. In fact, she was beginning
to feel royally pissed off.

For a moment it looked as if he considered laughing
the whole thing off. Then he seemed to come to a

Letting out a deep sigh, he committed himself. "I'm
not sure, but I think someone may have tampered
with my car." She looked at him sharply.

"When?" She demanded.

"This morning." He gave her his patent puppy dog
look, trying to make light of the serious topic.
"I barely avoided becoming intimately acquainted
with a tree."

Scully felt fear clawing at her chest. It took a
moment to collect herself and to school her face
into a passive mask.

"Luckily, the steering column 'went' just up the
street from the apartment,
before I'd got into any serious traffic. I managed
to park up and got a cab
into work."

"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked.

Surprised, he said. "But I just did."

She continued as if he hadn't said a word. "Because
you thought you could handle it on your own, you
and Frohike?"

Anger was sparking in her eyes. "Why is it that you
can never admit that you need help?"

His jaw dropping as he stared at her and realized
that she knew.

"Yes, Mulder I *know*, luckily not everyone has the
same confidence in your
ability to keep out of trouble."


"Yeah, he called me on Saturday, he was worried
about you."

"So this was a set up all along, you having to move
out of your apartment."

"No Mulder. I needed to move out. You heard the
noise those workmen were producing yourself."

"What else have you not told me about Scully?"

She wondered if he realized that Frohike had shown
her the letters.

"Tell me Scully. What else is there, what *else*
haven't you told me about?"

Did he seriously doubt her commitment to him? Was
that where all this was leading?

She couldn't control the quiver in her voice, or
the fact that her eyes seemed to fill with

"It that what you really think Mulder? After all
this time, is that what you truly think of me?"

Mulder stood at the side of his desk, an
inscrutable expression on his face. She couldn't
stand it. She moved towards the filing cabinet,
needing to put some space between them.

"I-I've never lied to you Mulder. There have been
times when I've not been able to tell you the whole
truth, but I've never lied."

They stood in silence, looking at each other. And
then the tension between them seemed to drain away.
He put out his hand to her.

"I'm sorry Scully, I didn't mean it to sound like
that. I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier. I know I
should have done. I just didn't want you involve in
case... I didn't want to run the risk of you getting
hurt if this is for real."


"There's something else Scully," he interrupted
her. There is something else you should know. There
was a note, in my mail box. I found it as I left
this morning."

He took the paper out of his pocket and spread it
on the top of the desk. He looked up at her.
"You're smiling."

"That's not a smile Mulder, that's a stunned
expression. I thought I'd have to get rough before
I got you to share."

Scully moved back to the table and looked at the
plain white sheet of paper. This note was like the
others, the same font, the same size printed off on
a laser printer there was nothing unusual about it.
Until, that was, she started reading the contents.

The shiver that ran down her spine was so strong it
visibly shook her.
"Mulder," she gasped.

This the threat wasn't as veiled or vague. It was a

"Where it is, nobody knows, tell the police and
there she blows. Tick, tick, tick time is ticking
away. Is it here is it there? Just one word and
they'll be history." Scully read aloud

"What does it mean Mulder? What does he want?"

"Hazarding a guess, Scully, I'd say he's playing
with me. He's escalating. The threats are every
three days, but now he's involving other people."

Scully shiver again, she remembered the bombing in
Dallas. What if that was what the note meant, that
he'd planted a bomb somewhere? What if innocent
civilians were involved? They couldn't take the

Their hands were tied. If they went to the police,
all that could be done was a restraining order
might be issued. A restraining order against whom?
They wouldn't know until someone tried to kill him
and by then, well who'd need an order?

She slipped a reassuring hand over his.

"Mulder, you need protection-"

"Why, are we going to make love?"

He was doing it again and she was suddenly annoyed
with him for being so transparent as to make light
of it for her benefit.

"Mulder!" Maybe hitting him was the way to go. With
a two-by-four.


"Don't push me Mulder." Their eyes met and held.

Scully let out a deep sigh. "You are hopeless, you
know that?"

Mulder slipped his hands down to cup her elbows.
"No Scully, with you by my side, the one thing I'm
not is hopeless"

Scully felt her chest tighten. Desperate to change
the subject she said.

"Thanks for the flowers, I didn't realize you knew
my favorites were pink roses."

For a moment Mulder looked as stunned. "What
flowers? What are you talking about?"

"Those," she said pointing to the vase perched on
top of the filing cabinet. "Didn't you-"

Her voice faltered and she felt the wave of
giddiness wash over her as she looked at the Band-
Aids covering her cut fingers. She breathed in
deeply trying to get a grip on the panic that was
threatening to overtake logic.

"Scully? What's wrong?" Mulder was wearing *his*
panic face now.

"It's just...there were some stems of bougainvillea
amongst the rose. They ripped my hands..."

Mulder didn't let her finish "Grab your purse
Scully, I'm taking you to hospital. We need to
check this out."

"But Mulder..."

"Please Scully, just trust me on this."

Basement office
Monday 2:40 PM

So, he'd overreacted, but with the benefit of
hindsight everyone had twenty-twenty vision. The
incident with his car had shaken him up and the
possibility that his partner was in danger pushed
him over the top.

In the cab on the way over to the hospital he felt
the panic almost overwhelm him. She'd tried to
reassure him, but he was too worried to listen to
her assurances that really she was fine. He didn't
want to share his fear with her. The first thing
he'd thought of was all those rare and exotic South
American poisons. Common sense vied with his need
to protect her. Surely most of those toxins were
very fast acting.

By the time the cab deposited them back outside the
Hoover Building some four and a half hours later,
Mulder felt very foolish. He should have listened
to his partner.

The blood tests and tox screen that had been
ordered for her had so far shown up zilch. Okay,
she had some nasty rips on her fingers, but that
was about all. The nurse had cleaned her hand up
and bandaged it more securely. Scully even got away
with not getting an ant-tetanus shot.

The lab and the hospital staff had been marginally
more understanding as they were Feds and she, a
doctor to boot. Nevertheless they were still made
to feel that it was a wasted journey all round.

After what had happened to him that morning, he'd
insisted they take a cab in case her car had been
tampered with. I definitely need to get a grip on
the paranoia, Mulder thought as he guided her
through the elevator door, hand on the small of her
back, and across the hallway to their office.

They had speculated on who might have reason to be
behind this on the way back from the hospital.
Whoever it was, was right on schedule, only it
looked as if he'd escalated to actions rather than
just veiled threats.

"I'll chase up that flower shop and see if they can
help us in any way," Mulder said, as tired and
hungry, they got to the door of their office.

Scully fished out her keys, only to register that
the door to their office was unlocked. She looked
questioningly at Mulder. He moved forward and
pushed open the door. As they stood at the
threshold, two things became evident, the white box
that had held the flowers was gone and his computer
was up and running and there was notification of
email in the inbox.

They looked at each other for a moment before
Mulder stepped in front of her and entered their

For a moment, Mulder didn't know what to think,
then he crossed the room to his computer and
opened up the emails.

The message was stark. The black writing screaming
out at them from the white screen. His eyes were
glued to that small screen. He wasn't aware that
Scully was standing next to him until he heard her

The message was short and to the point. I CAN GET

Anonymous, untraceable. Mulder pressed the print
button and sent the printed chattering into action.

He tried to appear calm. "Do you remember the name
of the florist? Get with them, see if they can help
us out on this. I'm going to check the security
videos and see if they come up with anything. I
won't be long," he added as an after thought. He
wasn't quite sure whose benefit that was for.

Basement office
Monday 4:50 PM

The two hours Mulder spent reviewing the security
tapes were a complete waste of time. Yes, there had
been a lot of people to-ing and fro-ing, but no one
who looked out of the ordinary, so many suits, the
greater number known by face, the others by the
checks he had security run.

He returned to their office, tired and dispirited,
only to be told by Scully that in his absence,
Skinner had sent down a thick file that needed
checking out before they left that evening.

"You'd think there were other people employed here
capable of doing these sort of checks," He muttered
to himself as he sat down to attack his share of
the pile.

Scully dug around in the desk draw next to her, and
eventually fished out a bag containing sunflower
seeds. Wordlessly she handed them to her partner.

He knew his morose face had inspired some sympathy
in his partner when she next spoke to him. "I'll
just finish this one and I'll go and get us some
coffee. Would that put you in a better frame of

"If I take some of your pile, would you consider
going over to Starbucks to get it? I don't think I
can stomach the stuff that goes under the name of
coffee here. And-would you bring me back a Danish
maybe?" He turned on what he knew Scully called his
most appealing puppy dog eyes.

"Mulder, if it stops you from moping over this,
I'll bring you back two, I'll even make it my

"Atta girl Scully." There was, at last, a smile on
Mulder's face.

Two miles west, in a seedy looking room, worn heels
hit the linoleum covered floor as the man paced
from corner to corner. Thinking. Planning.

He wanted his prey to suffer in all the ways that
he had come to suffer.

How long should he toy with his prey? He was
impatient for the end to come. Impatient for the
cleansing feeling to wash over him, closing that
chapter in his life. So long, so very long. Yet the
waiting of the past twelve days, the anticipation,
had brought with it its own rewards.

And the torture will bring its thrills.

That required time, one commodity he had plenty of.

With a magnanimous wave of his thin hand, he made
his decision, awarding his prey a little extra
time. And so, in giving a little, he would have

He was already enjoying it, his mind beginning to
plan the next moves.
A squeaking sound escaped his narrow lips, sounding
macabrely like a child's giggle. He brought a hand
up to silence them. But there was no one to hear
him in the empty room.

Basement office
Monday 8:15 PM

They'd worked steadily through the late afternoon
and on into the evening. Scully was thankful she'd
gotten more than just the one Danish Mulder had
asked for. What with missing lunch as well, she
could now hear her stomach rumbling. Hopefully they
were done here now. She was more than ready to
finish for the day.

She'd been puzzling over the events of the day and
had come no closer to a solution. She spoke her
thoughts aloud.

"Why you Mulder? What does this guy want from you?
So far there doesn't appear to be a reason for all
this. Threats to kill you, threats to hurt others
if you take it any further. But there isn't a

"Maybe this loony toon gets his kicks by trying to
intimidate people, trying to frighten them, "
Mulder tried to elucidate. "Maybe this is some sort
of power thing. I really have no idea why he's
picked on me-assuming it's a he."

They were finally done with the work the AD had
assigned to them. "You finish up down here and I'll
take this to Skinner; that man gets to spend even
more time in this place than I do," Mulder told
her, rising out of his chair and stretching. "You
can be thinking about what you want for dinner."

Scully grimaced as she arched her back, making her
spine crack. "How about some Italian for a change?"

"Sounds good. I won't be long." He smiled at her
as he left their office.

By eight forty-five, they were making their way
through the deserted building towards the rear exit
and the underground parking.

Underground Parking garage
8:20 PM

He felt pain dull and throbbing traveling from his
hip to his calf. His legs and back were aching, his
fingers cold. He wasn't used to standing around for
so long. Damn it, where the hell was Mulder and
that pretty little partner of his? Maybe he should
have hired someone to do this, but no, then he'd
have missed out on all the fun.

Things were all slotting in just nicely. He's been
staking out agent
Scully's car. He knew she was staying with him, he
knew a lot about what was going on. Wouldn't their
superiors like to know what he knew? They would
have to take her car to get home.

Such a clever move, tampering with Fox Mulder's car.
It was enough to frighten him, but not to seriously
hurt him. He didn't want that, no, at least not just

He felt himself tingling with excitement, with
anticipation. Here in the darkest corner it was
desolate. His head was aching, the adrenaline pumping
through him as he waited. In the past few hours his
eyes had flickered, alert every time the door had
opened. But every time he'd been disappointed. It
wasn't his prey.

Were they going to stay here all damn night? What
if Mulder was getting really jumpy, what if they'd
gotten a cab home?
Shit! He hadn't considered that possibility.

End part 1

FOX HUNT part 2

Ushering her towards the door that led to the
underground parking garage, Mulder shepherded her

"You're the one being stalked here Mulder. I'm
supposed to be the one protecting you," she said.

Mulder winked at her. "I'll let you make it up to
me later," he promised.

The man never gave up, she thought. Pushing the
heavy door open, Mulder held it there as he let her
walk out first.

As they stepped outside, a blast of cold night air
went right through them. The area was poorly lit at
the best of times, but tonight some of the lights
were out.

"So much for spending tax-dollars on something
really useful like light bulbs," Scully complained.

She saw the flashes of gun blast a split second
before hearing the loud popping noise. Scully threw
herself back against Mulder, pushing him to the
ground and knocking the air out of him. Rolling on
top of him, she tried to shield him with her body,
scanning the gloom for the shooter, trying hard to
listen to any sounds that could give her a clue
where the SOB was. Still laying across Mulder, she
twisted and drew her weapon.

She heard the slam of a car door and the roar as
it took of into the dark

Mulder rubbed his head where it ached, having made
contact with the door jamb. A looked a little
dazed. He slipped his arms around her and tried
leering at her. "You coming on to me Scully?"

"Stop it, you idiot. Someone just took a shot at
you and you're trying to play the fool and I'm
*not* going to argue about acoustics, I know
gunfire when I hear it."

She twisted off him, frustration and fear echoing
through her.

Cautiously, gun still drawn she eased off him, but
remained crouching as she scanned the dimly lit

They were surrounded by silence. Whoever had fired
at them, at Mulder had
gone. She let out a long breath. Getting to her
feet, she put the safety on
and shoved the gun back into its holster.

She turned back to the wall and pulled out her
penlight. Mulder got to his
feet and joined her. "What are you looking for,

"These," she said triumphantly. "Pass me your pen-
knife, and something to put these in.

Standing on tip-toe she managed to extricate the
first bullet. "Here Mulder, you'd better get the
other one, you're taller."

She looked at where the bullets had lodged. They
had been fired far too high to have hit either of

"It's a relief to know he's not much of a shot,"
Mulder quipped. Scully wrapped the slugs in the
handkerchief, before slipping them into her pocket.

"That's debatable," she said. Mulder didn't reply.

Mulder walked towards where the shots had been
fired from, Scully came up beside him. She took the
penlight out of her pocket.

"I'll take this bit and you start looking over

She wasn't holding out much chance on finding the
spent cartridge cases, but it looked as though Luck
was smiling favorably on them.

"Got it Scully, there's one over here."

Scully walked over to her partner, as he held the
cartridge case triumphantly in some Kleenex.

"Mulder I really think we should get someone in on

"Oh, yeah. Who do you suggest? I've already got
Frohike on it and what has he come up with?"

"Oh, *please* Mulder." Scully couldn't keep the
note of exasperation out of her voice. "He might
have a better chance at this if you were to update
him from time to time. I don't think he owns a
crystal ball." Scully paused. "It's been a long
day, let's get you home."

They walked to her car. She had managed to persuade
Mulder that it was safe to use. This stalker was
after Mulder not her.

The flowers didn't quite fit in, and it seemed that
the bougainvillea stems had been a genuine mistake,
the shop was most apologetic. The description the
shop had given here of the man who ordered them was
vague, but it sounded a little like Frohike. Maybe
he was trying to apologize. Stranger things had
been known to happen, she thought.

The first thing she did was to check out the back
seat. Mulder smiled in the half light. "This line
of work is making you paranoid."

"You were just shot at, I think that justifies a
little paranoia, don't you?"

She slid in and started the car. They sped out of
the car park. She was usually the one for sticking
to speed limits, but right now she needed to get
out of the place.

She slowed down as they melded into light traffic.
She glanced at him. The light from the streetlights
glowed on his face, playing hide-and-seek with
the shadows which alternately passed through the
car. She saw his grimace as he turned his head
towards her.

"You're hurt!"

"Just landed a bit awkwardly when you jumped on me,
I don't think it's anything serious."

Stopping at the lights, Scully put her hand on his
arm. "A soak in a hot tub will sort you out."

"Join me?"

"Mulder, you're incorrigible." But she smiled at
him nevertheless.

"It's green, Scully. Let's go."

10:13 PM

Home at last. Scully had persuaded Mulder to let
her phone Frohike to bring him up to speed with
recent events. Frohike, as cagey as ever about
speaking on a land line wasn't specific, but Scully
got the impression he was working on something.

With Mulder still soaking his bruises away, she phoned
for a take out, and then, moving into the kitchen,
she used her cell phone to dial Skinner's cell number.

Maybe she shouldn't be doing this, she thought, but
who else could she turn to? Who else could they trust?
Scully had a feeling this was escalating out of what
she could handle on her own.

In hushed tones she explained to their superior,
what had happened so far, what little she knew.
Skinner took it as read that Mulder didn't know she'd
phoned him. He promised to do what he could.

It was only later when they'd eaten and she was in
bed on the point of falling asleep that she
remembered she'd not thanked Frohike for his peace
gesture. "It'll keep till tomorrow."

Basement office

By ten fifteen that morning, they were both on
their sixth cup of what went under the name of
coffee. They'd turned in the spent bullets and
cartridge case to a friendly technician who didn't
ask questions first thing that morning. The rest of
the time they'd spent reviewing the security tapes
from the underground parking.

The cameras were set to pan the entrance and exit
rather than the rest of the area. The shots showing
six-thirty last night looked promising. They showed
a black Ford entering. The driver parked very close
to the exit, but just enough out of the way not to
be noticeable. The clips showed him getting out of
the car. Scully had a vague feeling she knew him.

"What do you mean, you know him?" Mulder asked.
"The shots are so blurred you can't possibly make
out his face."

"It's not his face, it's just something about him
seems familiar something...I've sure I've seen him
recently. He reminds me of someone. Oh my God! Your a
partment Mulder. He was at your apartment on Saturday
when I came over. Remember, you were in the shower.
He said something about the phoned having a glitch
in them. He was doing all the tenants."

"Why didn't you tell me then?"

"I *did* tell you, but you didn't seem to be very
concerned about it Mulder. I didn't see much of
him. He had his cap pulled down low. He was only
there for literally a minute and a half. He had a
company uniform and I saw his ID. I assumed you
knew about it."

"Didn't no one ever tell you what happens when you
assume, Scully?"

He couldn't contain his anger. She bit her lip. He
remembered an incident she'd told him about, long

"Yes, they told me once when I started at Quantico,
I thought I'd learned my lesson. I'm sorry Mulder."

Her voice was so quiet Mulder could barely make out
her words. He saw how distressed she was. He let out
a sigh and shook his head. He laid a hand gently on
her shoulder

"*I'm* sorry too, Scully. I'm way out of line yelling at
you. You don't deserve it. Anyway, I don't suppose
it's made much of a difference, that SOB seems very
determined. We'll get in touch with the guys and
get them to sweep the place."

She still looked very downcast.

"C'mon Scully, What say you we take a break? I'll
treat you to a custard donut. Then we'll get onto
the phone company and and out what's going on." She
smiled, accepting his peace offering.

4:15 PM

Scully was still worrying about having told Skinner
when she met the AD in a hallway later that

He acted as if nothing had happened, and in
passing the time of day with her happened to say,
"Oh and by the way Agent Scully, I thought you'd be
pleased to know that there has been a new
directive about increasing security in all parts of
the building."

Scully understood what he was telling her. "Thank
you sir, I'm sure a lot of employees will be
relieved to know that."

Half an hour later the call had come from
their friendly technician. They were 45 AUTO,
230 grain full-metal-jacketed bullets. The
cartridge case was from one of the bullets.
Her investigation into the phone repair man
showed that a Steve Price had indeed been
sent out to Mulder's building to check for
and repair a fault.

Mulder's paranoia is catching, she thought as
she rubbed a hand over her eyes.

By six, she was ready to quit. She shifted
her shoulders in an effort to loosen the
muscles which seemed tied up in knots there.

She felt the gentle touch of Mulder's hands
on her neck and shoulders, soothingly
massaging, kneading the tension away.

"I think we're about done here for today, Let's get
out of here and go home."

"That sounds good," she answered before she
realized her mistake. He'd said
home, and she'd agreed with that, but it wasn't
*her* home at all.

She drove them back to Mulder's apartment. Tomorrow
they would go fetch his car from the garage. Mulder
had spent some time on the phone to the garage this
morning. The mechanic still couldn't work out how the
damage to the steering column had occurred.

It was dark by the time they drew up outside his
building. The streetlights showed that their usual
parking spot had been taken, they'd have to leave the
car further up the street. She got out and walked
around the front to join him on the sidewalk. "So,
who's in charge of dinner tonight," she asked.

Before he got a word out, she heard a silenced thud
and felt the movement of air on her cheek as a
second bullet whistled by her.

Instinctively, Scully dropped to the ground,
pulling Mulder down with her.

"Stay down." Scully ordered her partner as she drew
her Sig Sauer scanning the area for the shooter.
Gun poised, she got to her feet taking care to keep
within the cover of the car. She glanced left and right,
the street was deserted.

The shots had come from across the street, from the
dark alley. She edged around the car, careful not
to make herself a target. At some point she'd have
to make a run for it across the street.

She moved to her left, away from the entrance to
the alley, hoping that in that way the perp would
have to show himself to get a clear shot at her.

Stooping low so as not to expose too much of her
body as a possible target she reached the other
side and crouched down sheltering behind a red
Camry. Carefully she eased her way round the
vehicle and on to the next one, using the parked
cars as a shield as she edged her way to the
entrance of the alley.

She made her move after the perp. Keeping low she
finally got across the sidewalk and into the
shelter of a wall that run up to the mouth of the

Gun raised skywards, she edged her way forward inch
by inch. She didn't have time to look for her
partner, trusting him to be there to watch her back
as normal.

The sweat was running down her spine as she reached
the corner. It didn't matter how often she'd been
through this on each occasion she was scared,
although she'd never admit that, not even to her

She kept moving forward step by step, covering an
inch at a time, keeping a low profile. Cautiously
peered around the corner into the gloom, she stared
into the darkness not seeing anyone.

Scully edged forward, keeping a low profile, ears
trying to make up for the lack of vision.

She knocked into some debris.

The metal garbage can lid fell, setting up a
raucous clatter, the sound seeming to bounce of the
walls, magnifying in intensity with each
reverberation. A second later there was a screeched
and something shot out between the trashcans.

Realizing at the last moment that it was a cat,
Scully raised her weapon. She let out a long
breath. It had made her jump. She wasn't sure who
was more startled, her or the cat. The animal
almost got itself shot.

Glancing back up the alley towards the light, she
looked to confirm that her partner was there.

What she saw by the illumination of the streetlight
threw her. He was in no condition to do anything.
He'd been hit. His hand clasped his shoulder.

Even in this poor light, Scully could see the blood
seeping between his fingers. For a millisecond she
hesitated, wavering between concern for her partner
and the need to catch the SOB who'd done this to

That instant of hesitation was long enough. She saw
the silhouette at the far end of the alley. Scully
broke into a run in a bid to catch up.

The screech of tires peeling of into the distance
told her she'd lost. Whoever had fired at them had
gone. She ran to the end of the alley, but the
street there was empty.

Now she was focused totally on her partner. Putting
the safety on, she shoved the gun into the
waistband of her pants.

Scully abandoned all caution as she ran out of the
alley to her injured partner. It was only a matter
of yards, but it felt like forever to cover the
distance that separated them. As she neared him,
she pulled out her cell phone to get assistance.

She'd already dialed nine-one when Mulder's voice
stopped her finger just before it hit the one
again. "No, Scully, please. No hospital. *Please*."

He was leaning heavily on the wall. By the time she
reached him, he'd slid down onto the sidewalk.

Scully went into doctor-mode as she knelt by his
side. "Here, let me see."

Mulder tried to shrug her away, tried to make out
this was nothing, but the
motion was not without it's cost. He winced as pain
shot through him.

He left a smear of blood on his forehead when he
brushed his hand through his hair. Scully couldn't
see in the dim light how much blood he'd lost, but
the dampness of the sleeve of his suit jacket
confirmed her fears that it was more than Mulder
would have her believe.

"Just for once Mulder, will you quit playing the

As quickly and as gently as she could, she pulled
the jacket and the shirt away from the wound. Even
in this poor lighting she saw how pale he'd become.

She examined the wound. "Looks like it just grazed
your shoulder." Her heart constricted at the sight
of the blood oozing from the wound. Putting her
hand in his pocket, she fished out his handkerchief
and wadded it up before pressing it firmly over the
wound. "Hold this in place. It will have to do
until they put a bandage on it in hospital."

"Can't you fix me up Scully? If I go to the
emergency room, they'll start
asking questions. They're bound to report gunshot
wounds to the police; you
know that Scully. I can't afford to put anyone else
in danger. I...I don't think he's bluffing."

The thing she was about to do Scully knew, would be
against here better
judgment. No, she corrected herself, the two

Placing herself beneath his good arm, she drew it
over her shoulder and
slipped her arm around his waist to help support

"The first sign of infection, you're going in. Do I
make myself clear."

His, "Yes, mom," set her muttering inaudibly.

She wondered if Mulder understood how hard it was
for his partner to go along with his request. Just
how far he expected to push her envelope.

Now that the initial feeling of light-headedness
from the adrenaline rush was wearing off, she
wondered at the lack of response from the

Thinking about it, the situation was probably loud
only to them. The shots had been silenced, and
trash cans clattering ang cats yowling wasn't
exactly earth-shatteringly important to the average
Joe Six-pack. This was one time she was actually
thankful for the lack of public involvement.

Over the years she'd had plenty of practice
supporting him when he was injured, but that didn't
make trying to get him into his building and up to
his apartment any easier for her.

Mulder kept on insisting he was fine, but
nevertheless he leaned heavily on her. It took some
time to get him up the couple of steps through the
door and into the hallway. She prayed they wouldn't
meet up with any of his neighbors as they waited
for the elevator to come down.

It was difficult maneuvering him, with his injured
arm buttoned into his suit for support and her
other hand applying pressure to the pad of cloth.
They finally got up to his floor without meeting
anyone and without dripping blood anywhere.

At last she got him into his bathroom. "Sit," she
ordered closing the toilet lid. Mulder seemed only
too willing to oblige. He sank weakly down onto the

Scully was concerned at how pale he looked. She
gently but firmly pushed hid head down between his
knees. "I can't have you passing out on me Mulder,
I'll never be able to lift you if you do."

After a short while his color improved, and his
skin didn't feel quite so cold and clammy.

Opening his medicine cabinet, she rummaged around
till she found the supplies she needed. She had to
smile as she looked at the contents. After the
years that they'd been together and his propensity
for getting himself injured, Scully now insisted
that the contents of his cabinet would have done a
small field hospital proud. This was one of the
times that she was really glad that she had.

Very slowly she took off his jacket and peeled off
his shirt. "I'm sorry if this hurts," she told him
as she started working on the graze the bullet had
made. "You're going to have a scar there."

"It'll keep the other one there company," he said,
obviously without thinking, in an attempt to
lighten the atmosphere.

She wasn't fast enough to mask the look on her
face, and he'd seen her distress.

"Scully? I'm sorry, sorry for hurting you, sorry
for involving you in this mess. I didn't mean it to
sound like it did."

"It's okay Mulder, I understand."

He winced as she put the peroxide on the wound. She
could see the muscles in his jaw tighten as she
swabbed the wound and then had to take a pair of
tweezers to remove one or two threads that were
stuck to the injury.

Eventually she finished the bandaging to keep the
pressure on the pad.

"Thanks for taking care of me, Scully."

She shrugged, putting the supplies back into the
medicine cabinet. "It comes with the territory."

There was no way she was going to let him sleep on
that couch of his tonight.

If they were going to get away with their, to her
way of thinking,
irresponsible actions, he'd need to get rest and
plenty of it. She put her
hand to his forehead; so far they were lucky, he
didn't seem to be running a fever-yet. That is what
she feared most. If she couldn't control it....

She didn't want to go down *that* path. Once she'd
gotten him into bed, she had every intension of
updating Skinner.

"You're going to get Skinner on to this just as
soon as I'm asleep, aren't
you?" Mulder's comment stunned her. She felt her
face coloring up.


"If that had been you Scully, would I be doing
anything less?" Mulder said to her with a wry
smile. "Only use your cell phone; I'd rather the
perp didn't know every last detail."

"What do you mean?"

"I've got the feeling that although that visit from
the phone company was genuine, somewhere along the
line my phone's been bugged. We'll have to get the
Guys in to sort it."

He'd missed.

He'd been so damned close, yet he'd missed. He'd
heard someone coming, a
dirty, stinking wino, who was probably so out of it
he didn't know what day
it was. Distracted, his shots were misspent, he
hadn't achieved his

He'd had to escape.

He was tired of this game, of this waiting. He
would have his revenge, have
it very, very soon.


As soon as it was light enough, Scully went back
outside to the spot of last night's event to see if
she could recover at least one of the spent
She was relieved to see that last nights rain
had washed away most traces of Mulder's
blood. Half and hour's searching in the damp
morning light finally yielded the location of
one of the slugs. Carefully digging it out,
she bagged it, to take down to the lab later
on in the day. Maybe she should have done
this last night, but to be honest she hadn't
wanted to leave him on his own.

Thinking back to last night she considered
how powerless she'd made the AD by the
restrictions she'd put on him. He'd agreed to
help, but it would be very limited. Her
second call to the Gunmen had not been much
more informative. One of them would be over
to sweep the place. Other than that, all
Byers would say was that they were
'tinkering, he wouldn't be drawn on it.

Mulder insisted he was well enough to go into
work. The wound seemed clear enough when she
examined it, no signs of inflammation or
infection. Besides, he pointed out, they were
probably safer in their basement office.

The bullet Scully took to the lab was too
mangled to be matched the others exactly, but
it was the same caliber. Brian had called her
to give her the news. "The bullet could
neither be identified nor eliminated as
having been fired from the same gun as the
other two. All comparisons were inconclusive.
The class characteristics agree but there is
an insufficient correlation between
individual characteristics. I'm sorry Agent
Scully, but it was the best I could do."

"It's okay Brian, I didn't think there was
much chance of you being able to match them,
although I'm sure they came from the same

When she returned to their office she found Mulder
in a state of excitement.

"They have an extraordinary intimate relationship
with computers," he told
her cryptically.

She didn't understand. "Who?"

"Frohike and the guys. Their Kung Fu really is the
best you know."

"How so?"

"Frohike came up with a name, don't ask me how it
was done you don't want to know. They cross matched
it with emails sent to me and from the telephone at
home. Some guy, Sam Ferris, been in and out of
mental institutions all his life."

"I'm going to see Skinner about putting the heat on
to assemble a task force. We're not going any
further with this alone"

"I'm going in there with you Scully."

"Are you sure that's wise Mulder? I don't want some
nut taking any more shots at you, Mulder."


Mulder had insisted on coming with them on the
shake down.

The unmarked vehicle in which they were traveling
headed towards Northwest DC. This wasn't a
neighborhood to wander around aimlessly and alone.
Here, things could change from borderline to
downright threatening in a block or two.

As they exited their vehicle, Scully noted how run-
down most of the buildings were, the atmosphere was
oppressive. This was an area of dilapidated housing
stock, where low-rent housing as plentiful in the
alleys that led off the main thoroughfares. Just
then the other transport arrived, spilling out
Skinner and the rest of the team.

Skinner lead the police in. Scully's main concern
was keeping her partner towards the back. Out of
any action and danger.

At first Sam Ferris put on a show of bravado when
the task force first forced their way into his
dismal abode. Within moments he was overpowered by
the brawny Latin-American cop and his fair haired
partner, and all pretense of resistance was over.

Handcuffed and against a wall the two cops searched
him, but found nothing incriminating.

Meanwhile, some of the task force almost took the
place apart.

Mulder insisted on coming with them and she'd made
sure they both stayed in the background, reasoning
that if there was a bomb as the perp had promised,
then this was probably the safest place to be.

Standing by the damaged door, Scully looked over at
her partner. Her eyes moved to the perp. He seemed
such a pathetic character face to face. That was
often the case. It never ceased to amaze Scully how
even the most audacious criminal seemed to shrink
in stature once he was no longer in charge of the

Ferris's complexion, already pale, lost all
semblance of color when Skinner started questioning

"We've got it," came a shout from the bedroom.
O'Malley and Jones, two cops Scully knew from way
back emerged from the back room, with a gun and a
box of ammunition in evidence bags.

"I suppose you have a permit for this?" Skinner
asked. Beads of sweat broke
out in a thin watery line along Ferris's upper lip.

Ferris rubbed his hands together nervously, running
his hands through his hair.

"It's Dad's" he confided in a little boy voice.
Don't tell him." He seemed to change personality
before them.

Deciding to play along, Scully stepped forward away
from the door and her partner and asked "Were *is*
your father?"

"He's not here. Don't tell him. He'll be angry with
Sam. He'll make Sam go
back to that place again. They keep telling me...."

Skinner looked at Scully. There was a look of
agreement between them. This man was just the run
of the mill nutcase who doesn't want to get sent
back to the nuthouse.

"I had to do it, I had to shoot him." Ferris
pointed towards Mulder who was still standing at
the entrance to the room.

"The voices, they keep telling me. I have to be a
good boy. I have to do as
I'm told or I'll go back there."

"Where?" Mulder spoke for the first time since they
entered the apartment. "Where Sam, tell me?"

"I can't, I mustn't."

"Mulder, look at this," Scully interrupted. "Look
at this ammo."

She held the evidence bag out to Mulder to show him
one of the loose bullets. "45 AUTO, same as the
spent case we found at the scene. This should just
about wrap it up."

Mulder addressed Ferris again. "The bomb you
threatened to detonate Sam, where is it?"

If possible, Ferris turned paler still, he
swallowed hard. There was an unhealthy gray tinge
about his face. "I mustn't say. T-they told me. I'm
not to talk to anyone."

Covering his face Ferris sank down onto his dingy
couch. "And now I'm going to prison." The words
were followed by a barely stifled sob.

3:50 PM

Later, back at the Bureau, The pistol,
magazine and live ammunition, were submitted
to the lab for analysis. Mulder and Scully
waited around in Ballistics while Brian
carried out the tests. The pistol was in
perfect working condition.

They watched as the pistol was test fired in
the water tank and standards from the pistol
compared to the spent case and bullets from the

Neither of them were surprised at the results
from Ballistics. The results of which were a
match. Breech marks from standard from pistol
compared to the spent case from the garage.
The bullet land impression comparison was
also the same.

The gun, found in Ferris's rundown room was a
perfect match for the bullets they'd dug out in the
Bureau underground garage. Those had been bullets
fired from this gun. The one Scully had recovered
from outside Mulder's building was too damaged to a
positive match. There were enough similarities to
presume that it too, came from the same gun.

Back in the seclusion of their untidy office,
Mulder's attitude surprised Scully.

"What's going to happen to him?" Mulder asked,
compassion in his voice. "The man's a pathetic

"Why *you* Mulder, why did he pick on you for his
victim?" Scully couldn't understand.

"Maybe he has a reason, maybe in time, he'll let us
in on it. Possibly he's just got a grudge with
authority in general and I just happened to pull
out the short straw as far as his confused mind is
concerned. Who knows? At least it's over."

She heard Mulder let out a long sigh.

Scully sympathized with the way he felt. The strain
of the last few days she could certainly learn to
live without.

So far there was nothing to tie Sam Ferris in with
them. No reason, no old cases that Mulder could

"What about his father, he seemed very concerned
that his old man shouldn't find out."

"Not much chance of that happening Scully, not this
side of the great divide. I had it checked out. Sam
Ferris's father died in a fire some fifteen years
ago. Soon after that Sam was put away in a mental
institution. He was finally released about six
months ago."

"Did he cause the fire," Scully asked.

"Nothing was ever proved, one way or the other."

For now there was nothing more they could do.
Ferris was in police custody, awaiting the due
process of the law.

All along she'd suspected that the repairman in
Mulder's apartment was involved somehow, now that
Ferris had been arrested, she realized that maybe
the repairman really *was* a repairman and she was
just being paranoid.

By the time they'd finished and filed their reports
it was close on five.

"C'mon Scully, let's call it a day. I don't know
about you, but I've had more than enough excitement
these last few days. Let's go home."

"Sounds good Mulder. I'll drop you off and then
head off home. I've got things I need to catch up on.
I'll call around about eight tomorrow and bring you
in. We'll get your car back as well. Maybe I can get
Skinner to drive it back for you, your shoulder won't
be up for that for a day or two yet."

6:15 PM

The apartment seemed empty without her. She'd
stayed long enough to grab an iced tea and pack her
bag. He stood in his bedroom holding the hairbrush
she'd left behind feeling the lack of her all
around him.

Mulder felt a little saddened. It was such a relief
to have the pressured taken off them, but secretly
he'd nurtured plans of them having a quite dinner,
relax with a movie, just spending some time together
without the pressures of work. Now that his shoulder
was on the mend, he couldn't even use that as an excuse
to bring her back.

She'd excused herself with a list of RL jobs she'd
neglected and had to see to.

"Yeah, a girl's gotta do.... It's not a problem
Scully. I've got one or two thing to catch up on

"I'll be around at eight tomorrow, make sure you're
ready to go. Night Mulder, have a restful evening."

What else could he do but wish her goodnight?

6:57 PM

Dropping Mulder of at his apartment, Scully had
collected her things and then went on to her own
apartment. A bittersweet feeling traveled with her.
She was glad this episode was over, but for all
that, she'd enjoyed her time at his apartment. A
little while longer would have been nice, but he
himself had said he had things to do. It would have
been nice to spent some leisure time together. A
nice meal, maybe a video, but it was obviously not
meant to be. That was just the way their life was.

"No use crying over what can't be," she murmured to
herself as she unlocked the door to her apartment.
She pushed her door open and reached around for the
light switch.

"What can't be?"

Scully froze.

The question was accompanied by the pressure of the
cold gun nuzzling her

An arm snaked around her throat, making it hard for
her to breath. "It's about time you showed up, I've
been waiting for you."

The door of her apartment was slammed shut,
underscoring the malevolence of
the words. In the ensuing gloom, Scully fought hard
to keep the panic at bay.

She tried to move her head back, but the sound of
the hammer being cocked, immobilized her

"Who are you? What do you want?" She tried to keep
her voice steady, to remain in control.

The rumble of his mirthless laughter drove icy
spikes of fear through her

"Still haven't worked it out? And there was me
thinking how clever you and
that partner of yours are. Just goes to show how
wrong your reputation really is."

Standing very close behind her, he brought his
mouth close to her ear.
Scully couldn't stop the shiver of revulsion that
ran through her as she felt his hot breath on her

"Oh, but you'll get to like this before I'm through
with you," he murmured. He pressed the butt of the
gun harder against her temple. "I want you to
suffer. Really suffer."

Then there was a click ant the light in the room
snapped on.

Scully pulled her head back as far as he would
allow her. She saw his face,
and recognition was instantaneous. "You're the
telephone repair man."

"There," he almost chortled, "I always said you
were bright." The spiteful smile on his face faded
and was replaced by something far more sinister.

"Steve Price," Scully said, trying to put a name to
the face. That's who the phone company had sent to
fix the phones in Mulder's building.

"Ah, no. Guess again lady"

"No? But...."

"Yeah, we've met before. I paid you and your
boyfriend a visit. I 'persuaded' the other guy that
he didn't want to do that apartment."

"Who are you? Why're you doing this?"

"Think lady, what else are you recalling? Do you
remember Cliper? Are there any bells ringing in
that bright little head of yours? Must be nearly
seven years now. If you give me a moment, I can
tell you right down to the last few minutes."

The third case she'd ever been assigned to with
Mulder, some four weeks after that fateful first
case in Bellefleur, Oregon.

His name was Rick, and he'd had a penchant for
little children.

Mulder had been seconded to that case in New York,
and she'd gone along with him. She was the one who
actually arrested him. Mulder had got too close, as
he always did with cases involving innocent

But Rick Cliper was dead. Had been these past three
years. Dead at the hands of fellow prisoners, who'd
judged him, unfit to live, even by their standards.

"B-but you're d-dead!" The words escaped before she
could stop them.

"Oh no lady, I'm very much alive. I am his twin and
your nemesis."

His eyes on her, Robert Cliper slowly slid the tip
of the steel down along
her throat. She could see he was enjoying this.

His eyes seemed to be glued to where the vein was
pulsating in her neck.
She was afraid.

"It wouldn't be long now. I want, need, you to be
afraid, very afraid. The way my brother was before
those animals killed him.

Her fingernails dug into her palms as she forced
herself to blank everything out, to remain calm,

"Your brother made a mistake. There's no need for
you to make one too."

"But I already have, when I shot your boyfriend
instead of you.

"It was you? But-" And then she realized- there
were two of them. Ferris might have fired the shots
at them in the underground garage for whatever misguided
reason, but it was this man, Cliper that had shot Mulder
last night.

Two. Two of them with different agendas, no wonder
things didn't seem to tie in with Ferris that
afternoon, her gut feeling had been right.

"Yes, it was me, but this time it's close range and
I won't miss."

She thought her heart would stop as he run the gun
down her chest. All he had to do was squeeze the
trigger and it would be over

Scully tried to quash her panic. She didn't want to
die. There was so much
unspoken, things she needed to say.

She took a deep breath, trying to play for time.
"Why do you want to kill me?"

For a moment she thought he hadn't heard her, then
contempt twisted his mouth. "Because of what you
did to my mother. Have you ever watched someone you
love died in agony in front of your very eyes?"

Scully looked at him bewildered "But I don't even
know your mother."

"You might just as well have pulled the trigger, it
would have been less painful for her if you had.
It's *your* fault her life came to an end. She
couldn't stand the shame. You sent my brother Ricky
to prison and you made my mother take her life.
I've lost everything because of you, and now it's
payback time. It's time you knew what it feels like
to lose everything you hold dear."

Her rational, professionalism finally kicked in.
It was like doing one of those baked-bean puzzles,
Scully thought trying to separate the jumbled facts
in her head; all the pieces the same, yet all different.
She tried sorting the pieces, separating them,
separating Ferris from Cliper.

"Why Me? It wasn't me who made your brother do
those things. All I tried to do was protect some
other parent's child from being harmed."

"You weren't content in taking Ricky, you had to
take my mother as well. Now I'm going to make you
pay for it." His eyes were cold, like winter steel.
"Play time is finished. Time to get on with

Scully saw the anger in his face, heard it in his
voice. If she was to get out of this alive, she
would have to keep very calm and not let him rile

Suddenly she'd figured it out. "You. It was you who
sent the roses."

"Very good." He seemed pleased that she'd worked
that one out. "I wanted you to feel scared, unsure.
I wanted you to feel the pain and the panic. Like
my brother when those bastards kept getting at

He was breathing hard now, his voice gathering
momentum. "He didn't belong in there. He was a
decent man who made a mistake. You killed him, you
may as well have pulled the trigger." Cliper
shouted at her.

She felt the mantle of calm starting to cover her
panic. "Decent men don't do that to little
children," she pointed out. Scully realized too
late this was not the way to go. She saw the red
color flare into his face.

"Innocent children, huh! The kids asked for it."

Frenzy was mounting in his face, in his voice. Any
second he'd be pulling
the trigger. Desperately, she tried diverting his

"How did you know where I was?" The moment the
question was out of her mouth, she knew. Of course.
It was so simple, it had never occurred to her.

He'd had the whole thing set up form the beginning.
He'd simply been playing with them. The phone, the
computer. Her landlord decision was an unexpected
bonus for him.

"Ah I can see you are beginning to understand the
scheme of things. Good,

Training his gun on her, he stepped hack, giving
her clear access to
her phone. He pointed at it. "Call him."

She didn't understand. "What?"

"Your boyfriend, call your boyfriend."

Mulder. Everything froze in her for a second time.

"Because I *told* you to," he said as if explaining
to a stupid child.
"Because I want to kill him, I want you to watch
him die."

Cliper growled. And then he smiled.

Scully knew to fear that smile. He was getting
closer and closer to the brink.

"Maybe, I'll let you pull the trigger yourself.
Mmm, now that would be fun watching you kill him."

"No!" The word shot desperately out of her mouth
before she could stop it.

Cliper was incensed now. He waved the gun, aiming
at her head. There was no doubt in her mind. He
would shoot her without hesitation if she dared
refuse him again. She wouldn't be able to help
Mulder if she were dead.

Somehow the thought helped to steady her. She had
a gut feeling that Clipper wasn't going to stop at
just killing her, he wanted her partner too. Somehow,
in his twisted mind, that would even the score.

She felt the blow as the cold metal of the
gun made contact with her face. For a moment
she saw stars and the room shifted around
her. She fell to her kneels, huddling up in
an effort to get out of his reach. It took a
few seconds for her ears to stop ringing and
for the room to right itself. She felt the
tear that had managed to squeeze its way out
of her eye, land on her cheek.

Her survival instincts took over. She
wouldn't be able to help Mulder if she were
dead. Somehow the thought helped to steady
her. Cliper wasn't going to stop at just
killing her, he wanted her partner too. In
his twisted mind, that would even the score.

Slowly, she exhaled the breath she'd been
holding and gingerly got to her feet. "All
right, I'll phone him."
He appeared pleased that she was willing to
cooperate. "No tricks now," He warned her.

Scully's hands trembled as she picked up the
phone, her fingertips slippery as she pressed
the sequence of numbers she knew by heart on
the keypad, the sequence that would connect
her with Mulder's home.

Her hand stole up to her injured face as she
waited to be connected. Each time the phone
rang on the other end of the line the sound
reverberated through her. In a way she hoped
he wouldn't be there, but logically that
wasn't going to be so.

When Mulder finally picked up the phone, she
couldn't breath. With a great effort she
forced herself to sound calm.

"Sweetie, I need you to come over, I've got
something I want you to see."

Standing beside her, Cliper was grinning.
"Scully?" She could hear the bewilderment and
confusion in her partner's voice. "I-"

Scully cut in before Mulder had a chance to
stutter anything else. "I need your advise,"
she said sweetly. I've got Dad a present. I'm
not sure if he'll like it."

"Present?" Mulder echoed.

Please, please understand Mulder, she thought

"If you won't give me your opinion on his
present, I might not let you come with me to
Dad's party on Saturday," she said coyly.

"Uh-huh, okay, that's good, finish your
shower then, and come right over." She said
in reply to nothing.

Cliper pushed down the cradle to disconnect
the phone, before she had a chance to add
anything else.

"Too bad neither of you will be making that
party. Poor old daddy."

She couldn't let Cliper hurt Mulder, no
matter what he did to her.

"It's not too late you know, you could still
just walk away from this."

"Huh. Listen lady, it's way too late. Too
late for Ricky, too late for my Mom, so it's
too late for you and your boyfriend. Now sit
over there where I can see you and we'll wait
for the fun to begin."

Scully felt sick. What if she didn't come up
with anything? What if-

"Why drag him into this? Your grudge is with

"That's exactly why I'm 'dragging him into
this'. Because he means something to you. I
want you to feel the pain, to feel the
anguish my mother did when they took Ricky
away. I want your heart to shred as you watch
him suffer, as you watch is life slip away
and then, then you'll die. You'll want to
die, just as my mother did."

There was nothing else she could say. Any
attempt to reason with Cliper had resulted in
him becoming all the more agitated, all the
more volatile. He was set and primed, ready
to go off at any moment at the slightest
provocation. She had tried to resist him, it
had earned her a pistol-whipping across the

She should have never called Mulder. If her
time was now, she should have gone. Gone on
her own. He had a penchant for getting
himself into life-threatening situations, he
was an expert at it, he didn't need her help
to do it.

I've done it this time Mulder. I'm so very
sorry. Will you ever
forgive me? You know something is wrong, but
do you realize I've lead you like a lamb to
the slaughter? There is so much I want to
tell you, so much you should know.

She sat on the floor, in the corner not
daring to move, not daring to even breathe
too fast. Her hand cupped her sore cheek. She
could feel the welt rising on her skin.

Please God, let Mulder have got help.

He'd been waiting so long for her to figure
it out. For a high flying FBI agent this
woman was very obtuse at times. This constant
explanation was beginning to irritate him.
It was not only his brother's death that has
caused his anger, but his mother's as well,
and he intended to punish her for that.

What was it that the Good book said. 'An eye for
an eye.' He'd have liked to have got *her*
mother, but this boyfriend seemed a lot more
important to her. How very fitting to kill
her boyfriend and make her watch.

He'd almost lost it when he saw the confusion
in her eyes. The bitch had caused his
mother's death and she dared not remember.

The temptation to shoot her had been almost
overwhelming, at the last moment he managed
to restrain himself, he would resist, it
would be so much better if he could hang on a
little. The plan, remember the plan, he
reminded himself.

She heard the sound of a vehicle coming to a
halt outside the building. Was this the one?
Was this Mulder? Her ears strained to hear
the tell-tale sounds of the elevator; of
footsteps in the hallway. But she heard
nothing, only her own breathing and the sound
of her heart-beat which to her sounded loud
enough to fill the room.
The knock on the door some minutes later,
caused Scully to nearly jumped out of her
skin. She tried to calm her pounding heart,
still the weakness that threatened to
overwhelm her.

Concentrate on the here and now, she
admonished herself. She looked around the
room to see if there was anything she could
use as a weapon. Her own gun was it her
purse, but that was over by the door where
she'd dropped it.

The knocking was repeated. Then she heard his
familiar voice. "Scully, it's me, Mulder," he
called to her. "Open the door."

Cliper cocked his gun. "Do it," he mouthed.

In her mind, Scully was trying to choreograph
the next few moments. It was going to take
timing, but Mulder's life depended on it.
Afraid that Cliper was going to fire the
minute she opened the door, she psyched
herself up to push Mulder to the ground the
instant she saw him.

She turned the knob and opened the door, only
to be yanked by the arm and shoved roughly to
the ground. The heavy weight that fell on her
crushed her, knocking the wind out of her.

As she struggled for air, she heard the
shots. The weight that covered her jerked
once and lay still.

The SOB had shot a defenseless, innocent man.

She tried to draw air into her shaky lungs,
she tried to move from under the body of the
man who had given his life to protect hers.

Then, the weight covering her shifted a
little and she looked up into the face of her
best friend. There was a strange look in his
eyes as he asked softly, "Are you all right?"

She was too shaken to speak, but managed to
nod her head. He rolled off her and winced,
holding his previously injured shoulder.

Still traumatized, she turned to survey the
scene of organized chaos, which was a moment
ago her living room.

It was now teeming with people in FBI
windcheaters and paramedics.

Skinner, wearing a Kevlar stood over Cliper,
the AD's gun still trained on him. She saw
Walter Skinner gradually lower his weapon and
slip on the safety, before re-holstering it.
Skinner had no more use for it here.

The would-be-assassin was no danger to anyone
now. The pool of blood was slowly spreading
over her honey-colored, polished wooden

Their superior rubbed his ribs where Cliper's
bullet had struck his protective vest.
Skinner would have one hell of a bruise there
by tomorrow, the doctor in her thought.

Now that the situation was under control, she
felt her own control slipping. She was not
able to draw her eyes away from the scene
before her, nor to control the tremors that
now shook her.

Her voice shook. "I thought I was going to
lose you Mulder."
She felt her face being turned away from
Cliper. Mulder, his hand cupping her chin
drew her face round so she had to look at

The emotion she saw there was both
frightening in it's intensity and edifying.
"I'm not that easy to lose G-woman." He
gently touched her cheek and ran his fingers
across the welt which in all probability was
already discoloring.

She saw the anger flash in his eyes and
understood that if he hadn't already been
beaten to it, the temptation to kill the man
lying on Scully's floor would have been
overwhelming. It comforted Scully a little to
see how protective he was of her. But then,
she'd have done the very same for him.

Mulder got up gingerly and gently helped her
up. Their superior just nodded his head.

Scully could do with a little time and
privacy. Mulder appeared aware of this as he
sympathetically steered her towards her
bedroom and shut the door on the world

As he drew her into his arms, she clung to
him with a vice-like grip
and slowly unraveled. He held her in the
safety of his arms and let her cry it all

Her grip on him loosened as her tears
subsided. He couldn't help dropping a kiss on
the crown of her head. Mulder felt just as
shaken as she was. He had come so close to
losing her.

Scully's breath hitched and she tried to
cuff the tears off her cheek. He loosened his
hold on her and fished in his pocket for a
handkerchief. Holding her chin up with one
hand he carefully wiped her face before
wrapping his arms around her again and
hugging her fiercely.

Finally he held her away, his hands framing
her face. "Nice bit of double talk that was
earlier, Scully, for a while back there I
thought I'd finally slipped into that
parallel universe you're always saying I'm

She didn't smile at all. The fear was still
in her eyes. He tried to shrug out of his own
Kevlar vest. Scully had to help him.
Mulder led her over to her bed, and pulled
her down to sit on it beside him. "Tell me
Scully," he asked her quietly. "Who is he, I
don't understand how all this fits in?"

Outside, in her living room, Scully was sure that
Skinner was efficiently organizing the successful
closure of the siege situation, and beginning the
clean-up operation.

There would be questions to answer, forms to
fill, reports to write. But that would be
later. Right now, all Scully cared about was
that it was over, her very best friend was
safe and she was alive to enjoy whatever
relationship they allowed each other.

That moment, when she felt Mulder slump across her,
when she thought he'd sacrificed his life for her....
No- no, she *couldn't, wouldn't* even go down that


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'I have laid my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.'