Falling by Emma D

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Falling


Falling

Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2011 17:10:31 -0500 (CDT)

Author: Emma D.

E-mail:

Distribution: Archive, just let me know!

Rating: R to NC-17

Categories: S, AU, Casefile, MSR Keywords: Mulder/Scully, Mulder Angst. Scully Angst, Alternate Universe, Casefile, Total Relationship

Setting: Probably 7th season-ish

Summary: Mulder knew why he was losing her. But to admit it would make it true. And he sure as hell wouldn’t do that.

Disclaimer: All of the obvious characters do not belong to me. I am making absolutely NO money from this, much to my husband’s chargrin:) The main characters do belong to Fox.

Quick Note: This is the third book in my “Quantum” series. It could stand alone, but it would help to read the others first! Thanks 😀

Book One: Quantum Book Two: The Road Less Traveled Book Three: Falling

Feedback: Yes, please. It keeps me going!

Chapter One

“Epitome!” Dana Scully yelped as she raised up on her knees at her coffee table, sliding the appropriate little lettered tiles into their destined vacant squares.

Fox Mulder just stared at her, jaw slack.

She glanced at him as she slid the final “e” into place, a smug smile fixed on her pink lips growing with satisfaction.

“Triple letter score, too.” she said to herself, as she grabbed the pad and began calculating her latest conquest on the Scrabble board.

“Challenge.” Mulder said evenly as he reached for the dictionary and began flipping through pages, busying himself as Scully scoffed at him.

“Mulder! You can’t challenge a word like “epitome”! It’s a common use word! You know its valid!” she said through her grin, fixing Mulder with a solid stare as her eyes danced with laughter.

“I believe I can challenge whatever I want to.” Mulder said, jutting his chin into the air and putting the pad of his finger to his tongue,moistening the tip for emphasis before he flipped more pages of the worn dictionary.

He was merely buying time before Scully could claim that she had whipped his ass in yet another game of “Midnight Scrabble”, as Scully had started to call it.

“Whatever. You want another beer?” Scully asked as she eased up onto her feet and began to pad into the kitchen, Mulder’s lose pajama bottoms barely staying on her slender hips.

Mulder placed the dictionary back on the table distractedly, his eyes trained on the spanse of skin that her tank top being pushed up and the pajama pants being pulled down afforded him.

“Mulder? Beer?” Scully asked again, turning around and grinning at what she saw.

The brilliant Fox Mulder was sitting, crosslegged on the floor of her living room, staring at her like a present on Christmas morning. He absently scratched the skin underneath the collar of his grey t-shirt as he watched her, slowly dragging his smoldering hazel eyes up to meet hers.

His intentions were obvious.

Scully felt her body react instantly to that gaze. Her body flushed and she became acutely aware that she only had on the tank top, no bra. Her mouth went dry and her tongue darted out to lick her suddenly parched lips.

The tension in the room crackled and sung between them, causing the already toasty apartment to feel at least ten degrees warmer…

Scully watched, wide eyed, as Mulder unfolded himself from his perch near the dying fire and made his way toward her, his eyes never breaking with her’s and his obvious arousal making itself known as he stood.

Mulder slowly walked towards Scully, as her breath hitched in her throat and she felt her chest heave in a perfect “Damsal-in-distress” imitation.

She didn’t mean to turn back 60 years of women’s lib. It just kind of happened when he looked at her that way.

Without touching her with his hands, Mulder began to walk Scully backwards, his chest pushing into her, until she reached behind her, knowing the doorway to the kitchen was near by.

As her back met the doorframe, Scully reached behind her, gripping the moulding with her manicured fingers, causing her heaving chest to be more prominant as she arched her back into Mulder’s overbearing chest.

He planted his hands on either side of her head, as Scully glanced down, her head lolling to the side against the cool wood, her smooth white neck completely exposed.

Scully’s dialated eyes slipped closed as Mulder’s scent surrounded her, his erection poking her in the abdomen. Neither one’s hands were touching the other, but the forcefulness of Mulder’s chest pressing Scully into the wood of the door frame was one of the most erotic sensations she had ever experienced.

She felt, rather than saw, Mulder’s head dip down into the hollow of her wanton throat, the obvious swallow she made causing the small tendons and veins beneath her translucent skin to work and move with the effort.

Mulder’s chin made contact with the nape of her neck, his day’s growth of beard scraping the tender flesh as his lips made their way up to her ear.

He exhaled into her ear, causing the little hairs on her face to tickle and gooseflesh to breakout all over her chest and shoulders.

Scully was using every ounce of her being to not moan like a horny school girl while Mulder just inhaled and exhaled, hovering over her ear,his hands never touching, but the strong beat of his heart reverberating from his chest to her’s.

He inhaled, his lips still resting by her ear as her face remained turned downward.

“A beer would be great, Scully.” he said slowly and gravely, as if warm honey would flow from his mouth and caress the tender organs of her ear.

It took her a moment to realize what he was saying, her eyes still closed and her panties soaked from her body’s preparation of what she knew would be coming.

A beer?

She forced her head upright and made her eyelids open as she felt the warm weight of Mulder’s body leave it’s position of being pressed against her’s.

“Can you make me one of those Pizza Pockets too, while you’re at it?” he asked her simply, as he adjusted his shorts and smirked at her openly.

Scully’s sapphire eyes narrowed.

Mulder couldn’t block the sucker punch.

Chapter Two

The quiet murmurs illicited from the lump of covers to Mulder’s left caused him to drag his eyes from the file propped vicariously on his knees. He smiled and slid his glasses off of his nose, the dim light in the room causing him to blink and squint with weariness.

He glanced at the clock.

A red 3:34am glared back at him. Scully had passed out shortly after he had had a pizza pocket thrown at him. Blame it on the beer or the extreme arousal he had to tamper down for the sake of teasing Scully, but Mulder couldn’t sleep.

He was used to not sleeping. Hell, before Scully shared his bed, Mulder hadn’t had a sound sleep since he was a boy. But, lately, he found himself staying up later and later, a type of ritual forming. He and Scully would head to bed together, complete the ritualistic grooming necessities, usually make-out or pass out from the exertion of lovemaking and he would lightly doze with a sated, exhausted Scully snoring softly against his chest. Then, he would wake up, something from a file or from his past pulling and tugging at his consciousness. He would busy himself with something that would allow him to stay beside Scully without waking her, but would allow his mind to focus on something.

Mulder was convinced he could be using a jackhammer in her bathroom and Scully would still sleep through it. But, it was the principle of the thing.

He leaned over to ‘his’ side of the bed to flip off the soft light and slid underneath the duvet. The instant puff of heat caused Mulder to chuckle as he slid behind Scully’s nude form. She adjusted to him in her sleep, her back fitting perfectly to his chest, and the contented sigh Scully exhaled caused Mulder to instantly relax.

Mulder couldn’t put his finger on it. It was an anxiousness; a nervousness that he hadn’t known before. He had everything he could possibly want. Scully was his. She had agreed to marry him, though they had both agreed to hold off on actually making it official until they were able to decide what could and would happen to the X-Files, should their relationship become public. He had more than he ever thought he would have, not to mention what he thought he deserved.

He just felt like something was coming.

And that there would be nothing he could do to stop it.

The psychologist in him tried to rationalize the apprehension as merely being in the throes of a passionate and long awaited time in his life; in a relationship that Mulder had not only never known before, but had failed to believe could exist.

He believed in so much, but before Scully, he didn’t truly believe in love.

She was slowly and methodically transforming him. She had been working on him since the day they had met, every quirked eyebrow and logical argument molding him into a different creature altogether. But, it wasn’t until he allowed himself to actually look at her as a woman, not just as a friend and partner, that he felt himself falling hard and fast.

It was terrifying and exhillarating and amazing and exciting.

This was just a new experience and his mind was scared of losing it, since everything else he had ever loved had been ripped from him.

Combine that with the intensity of his feelings for Scully and he was back to square one: scared shitless.

Yeah, that had to be it.

Mulder exhaled against her shoulder, using the pads of his fingers to slide the golden strands of her hair behind her ear. He lightly touched the warm skin of her shoulder, running his palm down her arm, his knuckle brushing her bare hip bone.

While the storm raged inside of his mind, the closer he was to her, the quieter the noise became.

“Muller?” Scully slurred, still half asleep as she turned her nose towards his face.

“Shhhh.” Mulder hushed, as he rubbed his nose against the back of her neck. “Go back to sleep.”

Scully mumbled something else unintelligible as she turned in his arms, her small hands resting around his waist and her head ducking under his chin as if on autopilot.

Mulder relaxed against the pillows and brushed his lips against her hairline as he lightly drug his thumbs over her lower back.

“I love you.” he whispered to her sleeping form.

The January wind against the windows was his only answer.

Chapter Three

“I can run the bloodwork again, Mulder, but I am positive that it is going to come back negative. She is just a Jane Doe.” Scully stated clearly as they stepped off of the elevator into the basement hallway.

“Im just saying that the similarities merit a bit more detail, that’s all.” Mulder was speaking to her downturned head as she flipped through the pages of the tox screen in her hands, the Starbucks warming his palms as he walked.

“Well your “detail” will cost me another hour of leg work, but if you think it’s necessary…” Scully mumbled but was interupted by the desk phone ringing behind the locked door. She instantly slid the key into the lock of the office door and lunged for the phone, the bloodwork documents skittering to the floor.

Mulder side-stepped the mess and placed the coffee on the file cabinet, his eyebrows raised in a silent question.

“Scully.” she answered, relaxing as she leaned her hip against his desk and cradled the phone between her ear and shoulder.

Mulder could only hear half of the conversation, but he was sure it was Skinner. Scully even stood a little straighter when she talked to their superior. Daughter of a sailor…

“Yes, sir. Uh, yeah, I can be there in about fifteen minutes, if that is fine. We…I am just getting in.” Scully said, her eyes widening at her accidental “we” statement.

It was definitely Skinner.

Mulder smiled inwardly. He felt like he was sneaking the princess around the King’s court. There was an element of danger there, but he chose not to delve to much into that facet of their relationship just yet. There was enough real danger in their lives to last seven life times.

Mulder was jarred out of his gaze with the click of the receiver being replaced on the base. Scully kept her eyes on the phone a bit longer than necessary, causing Mulder to instantly become alert.

“What?” he asked, more as a statement than a question.

Scully sighed and shifted off of the desk while she reached for her cooling coffee. Her fingers barely brushed Mulder’s as she stood upright. Mulder couldn’t tell if that had been intentional or accidental, but he really didn’t care either way.

“He wants to see me up there in a few minutes.” Scully said, not meeting his eyes. She took a long sip of her extremely expensive drink and darted her pink tongue out to clean the creamy residue from her pink lips.

Mulder stifled a moan.

“Alright, well let’s go. I swear to God I turned that expense report in, Scully. Scout’s honor.” he said solemly underneath his lashes, hoping she would swoon as easily as he had and that she wouldn’t remember that said expense report was two weeks late.

“Um, he just wants to see me.” she said quietly, fidgeting with the button on her black, fitted blazer.

“What for?” Mulder asked, trying to hide the alarm in his voice, but not being very successful. They were a team, goddammit, and they were briefed as a team.

“I’m not sure. But, Im sure I wont be long.” she said, a tinge of hope in her voice.

Mulder instantly felt that heavy weight of anxiety ratchet up his stomach, looming and brooding in his forebrain.

She was trying to keep a front for his sake, he was sure of it, but she was nervous. Mulder was frequently called in individually to get his ass reamed. But, Scully was rarely sent alone.

“I’ll be back.” she said simply, leaning over to ruffle his hair quickly as she turned towards the door.

The feeling was almost overwhelming, causing the chai latte that Scully forced him to get to start to double back on him.

Mulder stood abruptly, closing the distance between her and the door, using his large hand to push it closed as he leaned into her. Scully backed into the wall, a startled look gracing her features.

“What?” she asked, her coffee tinged breath warming Mulder’s face as it sat inches from her own. He leaned his weight into her, relishing in the feel of her breasts and hips pressed into his lean frame.

“I just have this feeling Scully. Just a feeling that this won’t be good.” Mulder muttered quietly, creating an atmosphere that surrounded them both in the quiet, cool basement.

She smiled at him sincerely, drawing her hand up to his cheek.

“Don’t worry. I probably have to teach at Quantico for a few weeks or something. Easy as pie.” she said sweetly as she fingered the hair at the base of his neck.

“Mmmmmm, pie.” Mulder growled as he dipped in to touch his lips to her’s, the warmth from her body subsiding the growing doom that had taken residence in his upper GI tract.

Scully pulled back quickly, before the swell of arousal overtook them both, and reached behind her to crack the door.

“Twenty minutes, tops.” she whispered and pecked him quickly again, one last time, before she strode out of the door. Her clicking heels echoed down the hallway, forcing Mulder’s heart to beat in time to the metrinome she had created within him.

He could keep from vomiting for twenty minutes.

Easy as pie.

Scully knocked on the door hesitantly, the smooth, rich oak beneath her knuckles sending out a muted staccato in the room. Kimberly wasn’t at her usual post, so Scully was instantly awkward and unsure of what her next move should be.

She didn’t have to wait long as AD Skinner swung the door open with Scully in mid-knock.

“Agent Scully. Please, come in.” Skinner said with bravado, a quiet smile gracing his handsome, distinguished features.

“Sir.” she said in greeting, taking her usual chair. The vacant one beside her was not a sentiment lost on her and her heart was saddened by the observation.

“How are you doing, Agent?” Skinner asked, somewhat warily, as he shuffled some papers around on his desk, briefly meeting Scully’s eyes but then thinking better of it and returning them to the fascinating pile beneath his hands.

“Sir?” Scully asked, unsure of what he was asking.

“I mean, the past few months have been particularly trying for you and Agent Mulder, what with Pfaster and then the copycat in Virginia. How are you?” Skinner asked the last question while looking straight into Scully, showing that he was truly concerned for her well-being.

Scully blushed slightly, suddenly unsure if she liked being under the scrutiny of such a powerful man. Some were intimidated by Skinner’s broad shoulders and Marine-esque stature, but Scully was comforted by it.

And his eyes… he had kind eyes…

“I am fine, Sir. The Christmas holidays were a nice break and we have had a lull in cases as of late, so I have had some adequate time to recuperate, I think.” Scully explained, though slightly unsure of where this line of questioning was going.

“That is good to hear, Scully.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Scully began chew on the inside of her lip with anxious energy.

“Well, the reason I asked you here is that there is a case that has come across my desk that I have been told is to be given my ultimate attention. And it is a case that I think you could prove to be an extremely valuable asset where other’s have hit repeated dead ends.” Skinner explained as he got up from his chair and walked around his mahogony desk, leaning against the lip and crossing his arms over his broad chest.

“Well, Sir, surely Agent Mulder should be here to listen to the briefing as well…” Scully started but was quieted when Skinner began to shake his head in the negative.

“Agent Scully, this case is tailored to your expertise and I wanted to get your clear answer before we involved Mulder.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand. A clear answer on what?”

Skinner exhaled, ducking his chin into his chest.

“I have been hesitant to even suggest this to you, given your past few months, but honestly Scully, there isn’t another agent that I trust enough or know well enough to put on this team other than you.”

Scully beamed at him with a quiet “thank you” being her only response before he continued.

“This is an undercover assignment, Agent Scully. Deep undercover. There is only room for you. Actually, given Mulder’s past reactions to situations involving you, I have been given strict orders to not inform him of the intricacies of the investigation.”

“Is it an X-file?” Scully found herself sitting on the edge of her seat, excitement and worry warring within her.

“No, this is actually a matter of national security, Agent Scully. If you think that you are up to it, you and I will meet for the briefing at 0600 hours tomorrow morning and will go from there.”

“What would my cover be?” Scully asked, wondering just how much information she would be able to gain before he told her that she would have to sign on the dotted line before she could hear any more.

“That is classified, Agent Scully. We would get those details tomorrow. I do know that you would stay in DC and that I would be your direct contact. We are looking at a week or so and it would be just gathering intel. That’s all.” Skinner said quickly. He was leveling with her and she appreciated that.

“Can I think it over, Sir?” Scully asked, already weighing the pros and cons in her mind.

“I need an answer by 12 noon, Scully. We have a lot of weight on this case and I need to have people in place ASAP.” Skinner explained, with sincere authority.

Scully stood and nodded curtly before she headed for the door.

“Scully?” Skinner called as he resumed his place against his desk.

Scully turned around to address him, her hand on the knob of the door.

“I know that you will have to tell him something. But, absolutely no details about what I told you today. It would be considered treason.” he said, solemnly.

“But, Sir…” Scully started. That wasn’t fair! She couldn’t just disappear for a few days and then pop back up. And Mulder would track her down easily. He had done it countless times before.

Skinner took his more official stance, standing up taller and taking up more space within the large office.

“You cannot tell him until this investigation is over.” he said with finality.

Scully just nodded her head and slipped out the heavy, oak door.

As she walked back down the hallway to their basement, Scully could hear “China Grove” blasting out of the cracked door. The thought of Mulder bopping around to the Doobie Brothers made her smile… and her heart ache with what she was about to do.

She pushed the door open to Mulder leaned back in his office chair, feet propped up on his desk, tie loosened at slack at his throat.

As she walked in and smiled, he started to lose his balance in the too-far-back chair but saved face when his large feet made contact with the floor.

Mulder reached around to pause the CD, the silence whooshing into the room, causing Scully’s ears to buzz.

“Well?” he asked anxiously, his bobbing knee belying his cool exterior.

Scully walked around the desk and looked Mulder directly in the eye.

Then she did something she never thought she would do.

She lied to him.

Chapter Four

Mulder laid in his bed, her side painfully empty. He stretched his long arms above his head as he stared at the ceiling, the day’s events playing out in his mind.

Scully had come back from her meeting with Skinner and said that she was simply being called to speak at a conference in some nameless doctor’s absence and that she was irritated because she would essentially have to come up with an entire lecture in 12 hours.

She had asked Mulder to stay at his place tonight, so she could focus and so he would be able to move about without being snapped at.

What he was so suprised about was that she actually believed that he believed her.

He knew she was lying before the words even left her mouth.

The question is why? What did Skinner tell her that would cause the most honest and steadfast person in his world to choose a secret over telling him the truth?

He had known pressing her would do nothing but create even more tension and would add to her anxiousness, which, despite that he was being kept in the dark, he didnt want to do.

Mulder released the bunched up sheets that he had clutched in his fist, flexing the sore joints of his hand.

She had eaten dinner quietly, only answering questions when Mulder had posed them, and she rarely met his eyes. That was the other red flag.

Throughout their partnership and life together, Scully always looked him in the eye when she spoke to him. It began as a struggle for equality and respect. Now, it was so that the millions of undercurrants to the words not said would be received.

After their impromptu Chinese dinner in her kitchen, she dove into her laptop, keeping up appearences, and began to tune him out. They had moved into the den so that he could watch TV, but as her deciet became more apparent to Mulder, he became more and more irritable.

Her guilt was making her snappy as well.

He had turned to her at least five times to just ask her what the hell was going on, just as he had held the phone in his hand at least ten after he had gotten home. But, the question of ‘why’ was being more of a catalyst than him feeling vindicated.

She had to have been threatened with something. His safety, perhaps? Her mother’s? Skinner wouldn’t threaten anyone, especially regarding Scully, but who knows who else she had to speak with up there.

As much as it pained him, he wasn’t going to push Scully. This new facet to their relationship was complicating things, and that is precisely what they had wanted to avoid at the onset.

So, he would just have to ask Skinner.

Scully placed her spare toothbrush and toothpaste in her carry-on, bringing only the necessities that Skinner said would be appropriatein his email.

She was nervous and a bit excited for the morning briefing.

But Mulder knew she had lied.

The thought made the bile rise along her esophogus causing her to slow down and breathe through her nose for several seconds.

Her apartment was excrutiatingly quiet. She had become so accustomed to hearing Mulder’s little sounds that when he was absent, it created an unmanagable void.

If he was here, the TV would be on just a little too loud and he would be muttering errant curse words at it between innings. The microwave or fridge or printer would be engaged, either providing food, drink, or information for him. Since Mulder had discovered ‘Pizza Pockets’,the smell had almost permanently taken residence in her kitchen, but it was faint and practically gone by tonight.

It had only been a few hours, but the weight of what she had had to do made it feel so much more substantial.

She knew that he knew.

It was only a matter of time before he began to push her.

Or walk away from her.

Trust was his Achille’s Heel and she had shot an arrow straight for it.

“Skinner.”

“Yeah, its Mulder.” No need for respectful pleasantries, Mulder thought. He heard a huge sigh on the other end of the phone.

“Agent Mulder, it is well after midnight and I have an early morning tomorrow.”

“Yeah, this will only take a minute. You met with Agent Scully this morning and, as her superior agent, I need to know what that was about.” Mulder tried, knowing that the “superior agent” line was bullshit. He almost felt guilty for using it.

Almost.

Another sigh across the line.

“Mulder, what I discussed with Agent Scully is between she and I. And I wasn’t aware that you were her superior agent anymore. Does she know about that?”

Mulder cleared his throat, trying to regroup quickly. He wasn’t sure if Skinner was messing with him or actually trying to threaten him, but either way, Mulder could feel the fury begin a slow burn in his stomach.

“As her partner, if you have her going on some assignment, I need to be there, sir. I have to be there to watch her back. You know that.”

“Mulder, just let her do her job. Good night.”

And with that, the line with dead.

Mulder didn’t realize he had completely smashed his cell phone until the “crack” of the plastic casing hit the floor. There was a dent in the dry wall too. He’d have to fix that.

Scully felt the mattress dip and his long form stretch behind hers.

Her hazy mind vaguely registered that he still had his boots on and that his hair was wet. It must be snowing again.

He scooted closer to her and snaked one arm underneath her warm blanket, wrapping around her middle and pulling her back towards him.

She settled in against him, his cold fingers tracing small circle around her navel beneath her pajama top.

His lips rested against the shell of her ear as she felt the tension ease out of him, his controlled breathing slowing down.

“You came back?” she asked as she tried to turn behind her to assess the situation, slowly waking up to her favorite person in the world.

“Shhh.” he hushed, kissing the ridge of her ear and nuzzling his cold nose behind her warm neck.

“Mulder…” she started.

“I know you had to lie to me. And I dont know why.” he growled in her ear, anger and arousal instantly warring within him.

She felt the grip on her hips tighten in his warming fingers as he continued.

“But, I swear to God Scully, if anything happens to you…”

She turned in his arms then, catching his sharp eyes, his deep green irises holding a warning, a danger in the dim morning light of the January morning.

Time slowed between them, so many truths swirling between them in their honest eyes.

He didn’t like what was happening. But, he was going to trust her judgement…for now.

She crushed her lips to his in apology, her teeth gnashing his as their tongues dueled. He rolled her to her back, pushing into her over the duvet, his knee parting her legs through the blanket.

When they broke for breath, Scully startled at what she saw in his eyes. He was angry. Livid. Aroused. And wounded. He was trying to numb the pain and make sense of this with her body. Leave it to Mulder to try to find something tangible when his entire belief system was based on things unseen.

Mulder grabbed the sides of her top and began popping the buttons from their holes, his rough stubble dragging down her throat. She felt his teeth wrap around her jugular, causing a yelp to escape her dry throat as his hands roughly jerked down her panties and threw the green duvet onto the floor.

He grabbed her hands roughly and pinned them above her head, his breathing ragged and his chest heaving.

She knew her breathing was just as hitched, her bare chest rising and falling as his eyes seared into her flesh.

While he held her wrists, he reached down and undid his jeans, rising up onto his knees between her bare legs.

If he was seeking solace in her body, she sure as hell wouldn’t deny him that.

It was the least she could do.

Chapter Five

Scully stared at herself in the mirror of the third floor ladies’ bathroom of the state department, her fingers sliding through her new mahogany locks.

What in the hell had she gotten herself into?

Skinner was waiting for her downstairs. The thought comforted her a bit, but the image of what she left in her bed was what was forcing her to constantly blink back tears.

Mulder had laid there, sound asleep, the sheets tangled around his legs and waist, his beautiful chest, bare and rising contentedly.

She had slipped out of her room without another glance.

Scully had sat in the briefing this morning, after the quiet drive from the Hoover building where she had met with Skinner to the State Department. She was listening and was silently cursing Skinner. This “intel collection” was way more involved than he had led her to believe.

But, by the look on his face, he was just as suprised as she was.

Dana Scully would become Kate Samson, a rogue researcher and scientist who was being traded by her parent company for information.

Traded to whom, Scully was still unsure.

She was being brought in on her ‘brilliance’ as a pathologist, her time on the X-files actually proving to be an asset, for once.

During several intel operations and excursions in Afghanastan, two higher ranking army officials had come across bodies of kidnapped soldiers infected with something that led them to believe that the Afghans were concocting a new strain of germ warfare.

Throw in the origination point of the virus possibly being Russian and the state department began to crawl all over it.

After the briefing that rose more questions than answers, Scully was whooshed off to “wardrobe” where her trademark auburn hair was darkened causing her ice blue eyes to seem even more fierce and bright.

She was given two weeks worth of clothes, mostly jeans and tshirts. Kate was from Boston, so there were a few Red Sox hoodies in her size.

Mulder would be furious, she thought with a smile.

Her assignment was to run data and autopsy the bodies that were slolwly starting to add up after they were shipped from the Middle East, note her findings, and report back to Skinner. She was essentially an independent researcher with a past. Kate had turned her brilliant scientific mind to those outstretched hands with the most money, being forced to get herself out of several personal situations where money was needed.

It was believable enough. They assumed that she would be done within the week. She would be put up in a secure, monitored apartment in Richmond, VA, not DC as she had been promised, and would receive her first post by 5pm that afternoon.

Skinner would just be her checkin point.

Scully would ultimately be going in alone.

The notion made her fight off a shiver, causing her stare to refocus in the mirror, the unfamiliar person staring back at her.

She had been doing things lately, that she wouldnt recognize herself doing.

Might as well look the part, she thought.

Scully strode to the door, her feet clad in the warm Ugg boots that had been given to her. She missed hearing the hard click of her expensive heels. She was only four hours into this and things were already changing rapidly.

As she descended the stairs, she caught Skinner’s eye as he waited for her near the door to the parking garage.

He smiled at her briefly, a sort of apology in his eye as he watched her.

Scully smiled back.

Where Mulder had always been her constant, she would have to rely on another man to be her temporary touchstone.

She hoped she could do it.

And she hoped Mulder would understand.

Mulder sat dumbly in front of the television of Scully’s den, the small index card with her neat script tumbling over and through his long fingers.

She had just left him there.

No goodbye. No reassurance.

She just left. Slipped out while he slept.

He really was trying to not be completely devastated by that.

Mulder had gotten up and decided to go for a run in the freezing, damp January morning.

It wasn’t until he had gotten back, despeartely reaching for the coffee pot that he realized that it was already made and that there was a small note propped up against the warm pot.

Mulder had leaned into the counter as he read the words that she had left him with.

“I will call you as soon as I can. I love you more than words can say.”

The sentiment, which was so un-Scully like, warmed Mulder’s body faster than any heated liquid or blanket. It calmed him, but the relaxing wave was short lived and he emerged more anxious and more irritated and more worried.

She would call when she could?

What in the hell had she gotten herself into?

He had told her, in no uncertain terms, that he would stand by her. His physical attack on her in the wee hours of the morning proved that. He would wait for her move…within reason, of course.

So, now, as he stared at the muted television, he began to do just that.

Mulder began to wait.

Chapter Six

“Hey.”

“Hey.” Mulder smiled, exhaling into the phone as he perched on the edge of her couch. “How’s it going?”

Scully breathed deeply, letting the ragged breath fill the space between them as the weight of the past few days seeped into her skin, causing her to fight a wave of nausea.

Horrible. Hard. I hate it. I miss you. I need you.

“Fine.” she managed to choke out, trying to focus on the steady cadence of his breath wafting from the other end of the line. Skinner had been kind enough to get her a “burner” phone to call and check in with Mulder, but in order to be able to hold a conversation, she had to stand in the middle of the street in the freezing cold.

It was starting to sleet again.

“Are you outside? God, Scully, its about 32 degrees here.” Mulder said increduously, crunching a sunflower seed between his jaws as he chatted.

“Uh, yeah. I was going for a walk before it snowed again.” she explained as she pushed the dark brown strands of her hair behind her ear.

“How’s the confer…”

“I miss you.” Scully blurted, hushed, the tears stinging her eyes as she fought to keep herself buried beneath the grey wool peacoat that “Kate” was apparently quite fond of as it was the only winter wear she had been given.

“I miss you too, Scully. More than you know.” The seriousness of the moment struck a chord with both of them, causing the silence to carry a weight that neither expected but both welcomed.

“And Im out of Pizza Pockets.” Mulder whined, causing Scully to snort in appreciation.

“Poor baby.” she said, truly smiling for the first time since she had left Mulder in her bed over a week ago.

“Where have you been, Scully? I know that there is no conference. Where are you and let me come get you…please. Waiting for the phone to ring is the most painful thing…” Mulder stopped mid-sentence and Scully could have sworn he had sniffled into the phone.

There was no point in lying to him anymore. But, she couldn’t endanger him anymore than she already, probably, had just by contacting him.

“I promise you that I am fine and that this is almost over. Okay?”

“Hey Kate!” The cheery female voice bounding over the empty street caused Scully to jump, almost dropping her lifeline into the wet sidewalk.

Scully waved quickly at the young girl bouncing across the road.

“Mulder, I gotta go.”

“Scully? Wait, just tell me…”

“I love you.” she whispered, before she clicked the call off.

“Hey Kate! You snuck out of the office so fast this afternoon, I didn’t have a chance to thank you for saving my ass at the board meeting.” Laura Chancer said sincerely, her broad smile and bright brown eyes causing Scully to smile back, in spite of herself.

“No problem, Laura. It was a common mistake… I’ve seen it a million times.” Scully said non-commitally.

“Yeah, you certainly are a life-saver. I am so glad that they got you when they did! You know, since we have made so much progress this week, the “bosses” are giving us some kind of party or something Friday! Can you believe it? I have been with this company for four years and I have never even gotten so much as a fruit cake at Christmas!”

Scully chuckled, more to move the conversation along, and began to glance around at her very exposed position.

Laura had been a quick, extremely eager acuqaintence that Scully instantly liked, but felt exhausted after having one conversation with her. Her instant and never ending energy caused Scully to long for the solidarity and quietness of her basement office.

“Yeah, I am not one for parties.” Scully said, fiddling with her coat button. She had been going through this whole assignment with the assumption that she would not still be “Kate” on Friday.

She had been promised a few days, a week, tops.

Fuck.

“Well, you will have to be my date.” Laura said assuredly, as she looped her arm through Scully’s, pulling her along as the wet drops began to splatter on their wool caps.

“Really, Laura, I don’t know about this weekend. I just moved in and am really trying to get to know the city a bit, I may not be much for company.” Scully lied, trying to be as non-committed as she could. She had no idea whether she was supposed to be available or not.

Just as the pair turned the corner, Scully ran face first into the broad chest of Walter Skinner, who stumbled backwards in feign shock. A startingly handsome smile graced his features as he gripped Scully’s upper arms to brace her fall.

“Kate? Kate Samson?” Skinner asked, his deep brown eyes boring into her blue ones, trying to send currents of understanding between them.

“I’m sorry?” Scully asked, brown eyebrow arched in a silent question, suddenly unsure of how to play this current change of events.

“It’s me! Mike Wilson! From UVA! Remember? We had several anatomy classes together.” Skinner said, his wide smile and upbeat verbrato suddenly unsettling to Scully.

“Right! Mike!” Scully covered, leaning in for a brief hug as she felt Laura’s eyes appraising the situation.

“Please tell me that I can treat you to a beer! It’s not every day I run into the most gifted doctor to come out of UVA!” Skinner said, leaning into her personal space a bit more than Scully was comfortable with but she continued to play along, looking underneath her lashes up at Skinner.

She turned to Laura, who apparently gave her personal approval of Skinner’s physical attributes as she ran her eyes up and down his towering body in appreciation.

“Will you be okay heading home?” Scully asked Laura sweetly, trying to keep her demeanor cool and her responses neutral. Something was up. Skinner wouldn’t risk her cover unless there was something that needed to be disclosed and the thought made Scully nervous as hell.

“Oh, sure! Yeah, Im great. My apartment is right around the corner.” Laura said as she patted Scully’s arm. She nodded goodbye to the couple and continued down the sidewalk, her energy bouncing through the balls of her feet as she flitted into the darkness of the street.

Skinner turned Scully back in the direction she and Laura had just come from, casually throwing his arm around her narrow shoulders.

“So, Mike. How are things?” Scully asked, looking up at Skinner nervously.

“We gotta’ talk, Scully.”

Chapter Seven

“I think we got her, Mulder.” Langly said distractedly from behind his laptop, his fingers flying across the keyboard with little successive ‘clicks’. “She’s using a burner, but we can still track the general location of the call.”

“Why in the hell would she be using a throw-away cell phone?” Mulder asked, more to himself than to the guys. He had played the patient game, tried to tread the boundaries that Scully had inadvertantly set.

Today was day number eight.

A week had been his breaking point.

And from the sound of Scully, it had been her breaking point as well.

Mulder could tell she had been exhausted. Whatever she had been doing, she was stressed and was being pushed, that was obvious. Scully was never one to blurt out romantic prose as she had done tonight. But, she was trying to reconnect to him in the short amount of time that she had.

She had said she was fine.

Scully “fine” could be anything from truly okay to only losing three quarts of blood.

“Fine” was never an adequate gauge.

“I have her in Richmond, downtown. The call was placed in the vicinity of West Main and Thomonson Blvd.” Langly continued, oblivious to Mulder’s obvious internal struggle.

“We should probably drive you, Mulder.” Byers suggested cautiously. The wild-eyed look of the man that had had no sleep in over a week frightened him slightly, but he said no more, Mulder’s glare shutting him up with finality.

“But, there is nothing else about her assignment? Nothing about what or why?”

“Nada, Amigo.” Frohike said, leaning back in the hard chair ofScully’s kitchen table. He cracked his gloved fingers behind his head, stretching his lower back as he locked eyes with Mulder. “She could be visiting relatives, for all we know.”

“Yeah, that is something that she is definitley NOT doing.” Mulder said as he shrugged on his leather jacket. “Can you boys lock up?”

“Mulder, if she asked you to wait and trust her, then shouldn’t you do it?” Byers ventured, preparing to duck if anything was thrown in his direction.

“I have waited. And something is not right. I am going to check on her and help. That’s all.”

“If anyone can take care of herself, it’s Scully.” Frohike said seriously. “Don’t fuck it up, Mulder.”

With a final glare and the swipe of his car keys, Mulder slipped out the door and headed for the car.

As the sleet began to fall harder, Skinner had ducked into a small bar that was packed with drunk college kids and exhausted business men. It must have been an Irish pub, Scully noted, because almost everyone had a pint of Guinness.

So that he wouldn’t lose her in the throng of patrons at the bar, Skinner slipped his large hand down her arm and grasped her wrist lightly, but firmly, parting the sea of people so that she could easily maneauver to keep up with him.

Finally, they arrived at the back of the bar, near several picture windows, and found a small one sided booth that had been forgotten by the dancing and drinking customers.

Skinner stood to the side as Scully slid in first, feeling the cool glass of the window on her shoulder as she turned to see Skinner slide in with her.

They both sat quietly for a moment as they caught their breath and discarded the winter attire not needed for the warm bar.

A tall, dark haired college kid leaned against their table and casually took their order, rolling his eyes at the two Irish coffees that they asked for.

Skinner turned to look at Scully, a weird nervous energy radiating from him. He took his glasses off, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

Scully fought a small smile.

She usually associated that stance from Skinner with Mulder getting his ass kicked for arrant acts of rebellion.

“Scully, I know that you know this is way deeper than I had been led to believe.” he began, not meeting her eyes, but looking out the window.

“Yeah, I have suspected as much. They are talking the long haul on this, aren’t they?”

Skinner nodded. “I need you to know that would not have selected you had I known that this would become this involved. I know that you have a unique history, working on the X-Files and with Mulder, and I…”

Scully stopped him by placing her hand briefly on his forearm.

“I know, Sir. But, honestly, from what I have seen, the bodies do not look that unusual from other subjects that have been subjected to anthrax. I am not really sure what I am supposed to be looking for.”

“Scully, the State Department does not think that you are being shown everything yet. They think you are being kept on the fringe on purpose, until you can be trusted. Your expertise is not in question, just your alliances.” Skinner said, still not meeting her eyes.

“So what do they suggest I do? I don’t want to compromise anything but I would like to move things along. I feel like I am going into this thing completely blind, Sir. I mean, I dont even know what it is that I am supposed to be doing at this facility!” Scully said, exasperated. The frustration and stress was starting to burst through the forefront and Skinner was going to get the brunt of it.

As their coffees arrived, Skinner sipped his slowly, choosing his next words as carefully as possible.

“They want to send you to Berlin, Scully. That is the first American base the bodies are being transported to and they are only filtering through a certain chain of command.”

Before Scully could answer, Skinner’s head snapped up in classic military style. He leaned into Scully’s side, whispering into her ear, causing her to stiffen.

“Those people directly to our right. Aren’t they people from your office?”

Scully stayed close, keeping her head turned down but flicked her eyes upward. She slowly nodded in the affirmative.

“I really do not want anyone to see us together.” Skinner continued to whisper, his lips a hush from Scully’s earlobe. He pulled his black cap down a bit further down his head as he stayed in close.

Scully leaned in so that she would be directly behind his profile, their noses milimeters apart.

She flicked her eyes towards the people again and met the eyes of Brian something, some researcher from the development team of something.

Skinner must have read her reaction as recognition because he leaned in and met her lips, suredly and quickly, drawing her mouth to his as he kissed her.

Stunned and relieved at the same time, Scully’s eyes slid closed, playing the part, hoping that the divergent tactic would work and the guy would get the hint and walk away.

As Skinner stayed pressed into her, Scully chanced opening her eyes and noticed that Brian had left.

She quickly pulled back, a deep blush creeping over her cheeks as her fingers went to her lips.

“Sorry, I just… panicked.” Skinner stammered, suddenly finding his coffee fascinating.

“No, no, it was fine… I mean…” Scully fidgeted with her hair.

They both glanced up and smiled at each other in understanding, a soft chuckle filling the space between them.

Scully instantly relaxed, leaning into the booth and took the warm coffee between her hands.

“So I guess I need to brush up on my German?” Scully asked, a smirk on her face.

Skinner shared in her laugh as he continued with his coffee, the tension broken.

Mulder slid into a parking space, the ice and sleet making parallel parking particularly harrowing. After completely cursing at every square inch of the curb, Mulder finally abandoned any last hope of straightening his parking job and exited the car, ignoring the glare of the people passing his haphazard job on the street.

He began to walk down North Main, heading to where he saw lights. It was well after 9:00pm, but this was the business district and there were several hospitals in the area. If Scully was on some assignment, it would probably be medically related.

Fuck it. Mulder had no idea what he was looking for or where he would find it. He was desperate. He just wanted to hold her. And for her to tell him that it was all alright.

Mulder needed his world to slide right side up again.

And finiding Scully would be the only solution to that problem.

Mulder picked up speed, heading to nowhere, the biting, icy wind stinging his face and bare fingers.

He stopped under an awning, giving his skin a reprieve from the falling ice and it was then that he saw her.

Through a huge picture window in a packed Irish pub, directly across the street.

A dark haired Dana Scully slowly kissing Walter Skinner.

Mulder gripped the wall behind him as the wind quickly exited his lungs, causing a wave of dizziness and nausea to over take his weakened form.

He jerked his head back up, refocusing and narrowing his eyes to the figures across the street.

Skinner’s eyes locked with Mulder’s.

Before he could stop himself, Mulder was barrelling towards the bar, his fists clenched and his breath, hot steam puffing before his face.

Skinner would easily be able to beat him to a pulp. Mulder wasn’t stupid.

Thank God he had brought his gun.

Chapter Eight

Mulder’s vision had zeroed in on the doorway of the packed bar, already having to slow his gait in order to steer around packs of frigid people hanging out in the street.

As he arrived at the door, fighting the sob that was warring within his chest, a wide, eerily smiling Skinner met him before he could enter, his hand extended in greeting.

Mulder’s fists tightened and he felt his right start to cock back in preparation of hitting it’s intended target.

“Hey Buddy! Where ya’ been?” Skinner asked cheerily, his warm breath mingling in the stinging air with Mulder’s shallow pants.

“What in the fuck are…” Mulder started and then found himself being steered down the adjacent sidewalk, Skinner’s large arm draped over his shoulders. Skinner was leading him away from the bar…and Scully.

Guilty bastard.

Skinner was babbling as they walked. Something about waiting for him to get a table, but the bar was too packed. Skinner was stalling. He was dragging him away from the people in case he made a scene. Just in case crazy Mulder made a scene.

Emptying a clip in a man’s chest would probably cause a scene.

Just as Mulder was about to stop their friendly stroll, Skinner cut a hard left and ducked down an alley, yanking Mulder by the jacket into the darkened cut-through.

Before Mulder took another breath, Skinner had him pinned against the freezing, damp brick wall, the smell of Bailey’s and espresso being forced into his nostrils.

“What.Are.You.Doing.Here.” Skinner demanded through clentched teeth, his large fists still gripping the upper part of Mulder’s leather jacket.

With the black knit cap and smaller glasses, Skinner could have easily passed for any of the UVA grad students. To be honest, it wasn’t until they locked eyes through the bar window that Mulder was even sure that it was him.

Skinner was pulling his military voodoo shit on him. Mulder had the market cornered on mind games, so he was welcoming the challenge.

“Fuck. You.” was all Mulder could get out. The blinding fury and blazing pain striking through his chest made audible speech more difficult than he had first expected.

Mulder’s shoulders were starting to ache. But, it was nothing compared to the sharp pieces of his heart that were slowing shredding his insides as they shattered.

“Mulder. Listen to me. I dont know what you think you saw and I honestly do not care. But, you need to leave. That is an order.”

Mulder just stared blankly at Skinner, waiting for the chastising to end so he could pump his clip into that broad, Marine chest that currently had him pinned down.

Skinner apparently saw that he was making no progress and released Mulder’s jacket, stepping back in exasperation.

“I have no idea what she sees in you.” Skinner said absently, finally breaking contact with Mulder’s torso.

Mulder stood there limply for several moments before he was able to find his voice.

“What is going on?” Mulder finally asked after several more seconds passed and the blinding haze of fury that had engulfed his mind was starting to thin.

Skinner rubbed his hand over his chin as he glanced up at Mulder, their eyes meeting for a second time that night.

Neither man knew what to say next.

“Mulder?” Scully asked, breathlessly as she wiped her dripping hair from her brow and pushed the brown strands behind her ears. As she arrived at the entrance to the alley, she assessed the situation as best she could and came up with no tactful way to handle it.

Just to hear his name on her lips sent his mind into a tailspin. Instead of turning and running into her arms, smelling and tasting every inch of her, he slumped against the wall even more, closing his eyes as the satin of her voice caressed his ears.

“Mulder, what are you doing here?” She asked, her whispers bouncing off of the narrow alley as she made her way to the scene of the two men in an obvious standoff.

Scully’s eyes were transfixed on Mulder’s defeated form and it wasn’t until Skinner briefly touched her shoulder that she had even remembered that someone else was in the alley with she and Mulder.

“Scully, we can’t stay here for long. This is not a secure location.” Skinner said quickly, his eyes never leaving the entrance to the alley. “You have five minutes.” he said as he glared at Mulder one last time and made his way to the opening of the street, standing guard as only a good Marine can.

Scully reached out and touched Mulder’s chin, trying to turn his eyes to meet her’s.

“Mulder, what in the hell are you doing here? How did you find me?” she whispered as if she was talking to a wounded animal.

Carefully and tactfully.

He was silent for several seconds, refusing to turn his face to meet hers.

“What difference does it make?” he asked no one, his eyes still fixed on the ground.

“What are you talking about? It makes a huge difference. Is everything okay? Are you okay? Why are you here?”

“Well, let’s see Scully. You have been gone over a week with approximately two phone calls, which have been cryptic at best. You sneak out while Im sleeping, lie to me about a conference, and I find you locking lips with our superior officer, who, by the way, has been out of the office for over a week as well. Like I said, what difference does it make why I am here?” Mulder chanced a look up at her and instantly regretted it.

She was a vision. Not exactly like his Scully, but pretty damn close. Her dark, short hair was curled at the ends and was being moved lightly in the freezing wind, despite the gray knit cap on her head. The ice blue scarf made her eyes explode with color, even in the dark alley, and her lips were the most delicious shade of pink Mulder had ever seen.

When their eyes locked, Mulder knew he had fucked up.

He had hurt her.

Her eyes told him everything and right now, they were pleading with him to understand.

She smiled slightly at him, despite the pain pouring from her eyes. She was just truly happy to see him.

He smiled at her as well. He felt his heart slowly start to glue itself back together.

Scully slid a gloved hand up to his chest, straightening out the collar that Skinner had effectively bunched up.

“I can’t explain everything now, Mulder.” she whispered, her eyes never leaving his as her thumbs made their way up to his chin and ran the length of his jaw. “But, please understand that this is not what I signed up for. I would never lie to you and would never choose to be away from you.”

“Scully…” Mulder started, exhaustion and tension dripping from his limbs as her name soothed and relaxed him. He ran his hands up her arms, fighting back the sob that he could feel bouncing around his rib cage. He slipped his freezing fingers inside of her scarf, her soft warm skin providing a sharp contrast to their current surroundings.

His fingers touched something at the hollow of her throat. As he pulled at the chain, he wholeheartedly expected to see the small gold cross that had been a Scully staple since the day they had met.

But, what he found both warmed him and humbled him immensely.

He had fucked up.

On the end of the long gold chain sat his grandmother’s engagement ring, its brilliant center diamond pulling on any spec of light that it could reflect.

“Shit, Scully.” was all he could manage as he pulled her small form to his, finally wrapping his arms around her shoulders and resting his cheek against her capped head. She snaked her arms around his waist, inside of his leather jacket, both of them exhaling into each other.

“I gotta’ go, Mulder.” she said, muffled by her cheek pressed into his chest.

“Okay.” Mulder said dumbly, realizing that if the pain from his earlier debauchle hurt, then letting her go in a few seconds was possibly going to kill him.

Scully pulled back and grasped one of his freezing hands, bringing his palm up to her warm, pink lips. She placed a lingering kiss to the center of his hand and slipped a small piece of paper into it as she released it.

Scully turned to walk away, her eyes locking with his one more time.

The clicking of her boots on the wet cement kept perfect time with the beats of his heart.

Skinner met her at the corner and they began walking back towards the bar, as if nothing profound had just taken place.

Mulder dropped his chin to his chest, in both defeat and sadness, as he pushed himself up off of the wall and began to meander towards the street himself.

He looked at the small folded paper in his hand.

“Friday, 8:00pm, Hilton Ball Room.”

Mulder tucked the piece of paper into his jacket pocket and began to make his way back to his car.

It had stopped sleeting.

Things were suddenly looking up.

Chapter Nine

“Kate? Hello! Earth to Kate!” Laura teased, looming directly in front of Scully’s blank stare as she tinkered with a micro-scope.

“I’m sorry, what?” Scully asked.

“I asked how did last night go with the guy from college. He was totally into you. It was wicked obvious.”

Scully fought the smirk that threatened to slip from her lips. If there was one thing she was sure of, it was that Walter Skinner was definitley not “into” her.

“Oh. It was fine. We just had a drink and then I went home.” Scully answered easily, jotting down a few notes as she chatted. It had been such a long day of logging and categorizing data that she had skipped lunch and almost worked past the 6:00pm cut off.

The X-files had conditioned her well for an easy 60 hour work week.

“Well, I thought he was delicious. I love tall guys.” Kate gossiped as she twirled her dark hair between her fingers. She and Scully’s desks were adjacent, which was realtively comforting except for the fact that Laura’s mouth rarely shut.

“Yeah, I love tall guys too.” Scully said, her stare slowly sliding into the blank position once again. Her mind drifted to her tall, brooding partner, which is where it had remained for the majority of the day.

Seeing Mulder last night caused a sea of emotion to storm within her. She had done quite well to tamper down the raw feelings that leaving him had evoked inside of her. But seeing him, so carnal and broken… because of what this was doing to him…

She had almost quit on the spot.

To feel his palm against her cheek…

It was like someone had injected Red Bull directly into her blood stream. It was the wake-up she needed. She had a job to do yes, but she also had a reason to get it done and return to her life quickly.

And if it happened to bring a bit of credibility to the X-Files and Mulder in the process, that would just be icing on the cake.

“So, have you given any more thought to the party on Friday? It is supposed to be quite the event, apparently!” Laura asked, still doing nothing but twirling her hair, actually moving the stack of papers that they were assigned to go through in order to see Scully more clearly.

“Uh, yeah, actually. I think I may go. I have a lot less unpacking to do than I originally thought.” Scully answered evenly, as she had rehearsed it with Skinner.

She was expected at the party, because frankly, Kate would have no reason not to go. It would provide a lot of socializing opportunities and hopefully get some extra eyes and ears on people associated with the research.

That and she had invited Mulder…

The moment that Skinner had breathed his name, she had instantly bristled, scared of what was happening and terrified because of why.

Skinner had ducked out of the booth, in full attack mode, and had apparently intercepted Mulder before he could enter the bar.

It wasn’t until she had heard the yelling bouncing off of the wet walls of the alley that she had even a clue of which direction the men had fled.

When her eyes met his, her heart stopped.

He had seen way too much and had very little to help him make sense of it.

She was witnessing him slipping to the brink. He had done it when they had thought they found his sister. When his mother died.

And when he thought he had lost her.

Scully blinked fiercely, trying to hide the tears that were threatening to fall onto the neatly organized charts that she was slowly trying to fill out.

Her decision to invite Mulder was brash and stupid; dangerous even.

She wondered if he would wear a tux.

“EEEEE! I knew you would go! This will be so much fun!” Laura spun around in her chair, grinning foolishly. “It will be my first social gathering since I moved to Richmond!”

Scully smiled genuinely at Laura. “I find that very hard to believe, Laura. I mean you were instantly friendly to me. You are so outgoing.” Scully said as she leaned back, popping the little bones in her neck in exhaustion.

She was ready to call it a day.

“Yeah, I am actually not that social. I’m just nice to people that don’t piss me off.” Laura said simply, shrugging on her coat.

“Well, I’m glad I fall in that category.” Scully said.

“I do what I can.” Laura deadpanned as she slipped out the office door.

Scully found herself smiling for the first time in over a week.

She was expected to fly to Berlin Saturday morning, directly after the party on Friday.

She was planning to make Friday night count.

Chapter Ten

Mulder pulled his rented sedan up to the valet of the amazing Hilton, stopping at the extremely bored parking attendent.

As Mulder exited the car and tossed the keys to the kid, he took in his surroundings and was instantly relieved that he had chosen to dress up a bit. He had no idea what was in store for him, so he tried to meet somewhere between a tux and jeans. He opted for a grey Armani suit and a black Oxford dress shirt, no tie.

The girl at the gas station had obviously approved. He just hoped Scully would.

Mulder walked through the grand entrance to the lobby and headed in the direction of the other well dressed patrons.

And then he saw his first obstacle of the evening.

There was a guest list.

The massive, burly man that was checking invitations did not look like he would find the story of his happenstanced invitation amusing.

Mulder straightened up, readjusting his jacket and cracking his neck in the process, and strode up to the podium.

“Invitation?” the man asked, his eyes never leaving the list in front of him.

“Actually, I left it back at the hotel. I should be on the list.” Mulder said fluidly, as he rocked on the balls of his feet in mock apprehension.

Several awkward moments passed until Mulder realized he had never given the ape at the podium a name to verify.

“Forgive me. George Hale.” Mulder said, sliding a bit of New England Snooty accent in for good measure.

The ape picked up the list and flipped to the last page, looking back and forth for several seconds.

Mulder began to worry that sweat would show on his Armani.

“Ah, yes, Mr. Hale. Here you are. Please enjoy your evening.” the ape said as he pulled the velvet curtain back to allow Mulder entrance to the grand ballroom.

The space was massive and lush, with chandeliers and gilded arches every few feet. The party was well catered, with waiters carrying extremely expensive wine in little glasses and an expert jazz band was playing quietly on the stage.

It was definitley the nicest party Mulder had ever been invited too in a back alley.

Unsure of what to do with himself, Mulder meandered over to the cheese table and began to peruse the various options, his eyes scanning the room every few minutes for a short, redhead-turned-brunette.

It wasnt until Mulder reached for the cheese ball that he realized his hands were shaking. He was absolutely nervous, as if he was the math geek meeting the prom queen for a first, miraculous date.

He kept meeting the eyes of various approving females as he scanned the crowd and continued popping cheese squares into his mouth, so he sent out some very strong “hands off, ladies” vibes. At least the suit was appealing.

Mulder decided to leave the table and venture out a bit more, trying to walk the perimeter of the massive room which was steadily filling with more and more beautifully dressed people.

Whatever this party was for, it was for people that made a lot of money. Or for people that made other people a lot of money.

Mulder ended up squished against a wall and slid through a side glass door that led to one of many private balconies off of the ballroom. The fresh air was surprising but was comforting after the stuffiness of the packed room.

He walked to the edge and exhaled, checking his watch. It was well after 8:00. Maybe she wasn’t coming. Maybe she couldn’t come. Maybe he had obsessed about nothing else for three days for absolutely nothing.

“Sir?”

Mulder spun around toward the door, startled, his hot breath fogging in front of his eyes. He looked around to make sure the waiter was talking to him, and, since he was the only other living thing on teh balcony, he assumed it was safe to answer.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Hale?” the waiter asked.

“Yes, that’s me.” Mulder said, walking towards the waiter.

“This message was left for you at the front desk.”

“Thanks.” Mulder said as he took the folded paper, his heart instantly sinking. She wasn’t going to be able to come. Her cover has gotten too involved and she was being detained.

Mulder walked back over to the railing, the disappointment apparent in his shoulders as he sagged against the cold cement barrier. He flipped open the note and read it several times to make sure he saw it correctly.

“George, I am running a bit late. I think there are Pizza Pockets by the fruit table. See you soon.”

Mulder laughed outloud as he slipped the note back into his jacket pocket, instantly warming against the frigid night.

Tonight was going to be amazing.

Chapter Eleven

“And that is what I call the “shoe story”.” the blonde said smugly, chuckling to herself as she stuffed yet, another cheese puff into her overly glossed lips.

Mulder thought her name might be Cheryl but he couldn’t be sure. He just raised his eyebrows in mock interest as he tossed back another flute of champagne.

“So, I haven’t seen you around the office. Are you a lab rat?” she asked Mulder as she slid her hand lightly up his forearm.

“I’m not sure what you mean.” Mulder said as he stepped a milimeter to the right, out of her her bright red talons.

“You know. The “lab rats”. Its a nickname that the accounting team came up with. If you work in the lab, you are a lab rat.” she said, still chuckling. If Mulder was a “lab rat”, she obviously didn’t have the tact or the common sense to not tease him about it to his face.

If Scully didn’t show in five minutes, he was out. He had been waiting over an hour, thinking that mingling would gain him a bit of information as to what in the hell it was that Scully had gotten herself into, but even he had his limits.

“Cheryl” was about to rip his clothes off in the middle of the ball room and he had had just about enough.

“You are too cute to be a lab rat.” she continued, oblivious to Mulder’s obvious distaste for her advances.

“I am meeting someone here.” Mulder said, tersely. He reached down and forcefully removed her claw from his wrist and let it drop, a fake, wide smile gracing his features.

“Well, you have been waiting an awfully long time. Maybe she is a lab rat. They tend to keep to themselves” Cheryl said sweetly, looking around the room in an exaggerated gesture.

Just as Mulder inhaled to completely decimate any further hope of Cheryl bedding him, something caught his eye directly to the rear of the ballroom.

As the velvet curtain that he had entered was drawn back, Mulder’s heart slowed and his mouth dropped.

Scully walked in, already scanning the crowd for him.

Mulder fixed his eyes on her, watching her in a feral stance, as he sat his glass down on the nearby table without looking.

He began to move toward her and vaguely registered Cheryl mumbling “That must be her.” as he just left her standing by the fruit table.

The closer he got, the more his heart began to race and his palms sweat. He had seen Scully look beautiful, but tonight, she was heart-stopping.

Her chesnut hair was its classic bob, but had a bit of “oomph” at the crown of her head, adding an air of sexy that Mulder had never seen before. She had on eye makeup and lipstick, which Mulder found exotic on her already stunning features and her dress…

As he got closer he realized that she had on a simple, black velvet strapless dress, that was almost a bit too tight as it clung dangerously to every curve on her body. But, it wasn’t until she turned around to check behind her that he felt dizzy and lightheaded. The entire back of her dress was gone, the velvet only starting again right above her tatoo and glazing fluidly over her ass to the floor.

Mulder realized that he had stopped moving and was just staring.

And he wasn’t the only one.

It seemed his Scully had acquired quite a bit of male attention upon her entrance. But, she, of course, hadn’t noticed a bit of it. She was still scanning the densely packed ballroom.

And then, finally, their eyes met across the throngs of people.

Her ice blue eyes glittered and softened as she recognized him and a slow smile slid across her red lips.

She began to head in his direction, a path of stunned and seduced men in her wake. She must be wearing heels, Mulder thought seriously. There was a sway to her hips and a couple of inches to her height.

Mulder knew he was grinning like an idiot, but he couldn’t have cared less. As she got closer, he noticed the glitter of the long gold chain that held his engagement ring laying on her delicate collar bone and disappeared into the cleavage of her dress.

He was going to pass out.

“Hi.” Scully said/mouthed, over the din of noise around them.

Mulder could only grin as he looked at her beaming face.

He ran his palm along her cheek as she nuzzled his hand at the gesture. The last time he had seen her had been less than pleasurable. Hen eeded to reconnect.

“Dance with me.” was all he could manage as he laced his fingers into her small ones and pulled her out onto the packed dance floor.

The jazz band was expert and Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling In Love” had just started, setting an amazing atmosphere as Mulder pulled her into his chest.

He pulled the hand he held up to his chest and lightly ran his fingertips down Scully’s bare back until he rested them on the curve of her hip, rubbing back and forth slightly.

He saw her eyes slip closed as she smiled a small smile at the sensation and high-fived himself silently as he reveled in the feel and smell of her near him.

Scully went to rest her head on his chest as he ducked his head so that his mouth was near her ear as they moved to the intoxicating music.

“I was worried you wouldn’t get here.” Mulder said seriously.

Scully pulled back as they moved, so that she could talk and gauge his reactions accurately.

“I’m so sorry about that. I got detained at a briefing.” she said warily. Mulder knew she couldn’t go into much more than that, so he didn’t ask.

“I am just so happy you came.” he said, looking directly at her. He raised the hand that he was holding to his lips and grazed her knuckles with a lingering kiss.

“Me too.” she said, her lips parting with the words.

Mulder leaned down and pressed a single kiss to her lips, a lingering smoldering kiss, that left the pair breathless despite the chaste nature of it.

Scully looked up at him for a long moment and Mulder could have sworn he saw her eyes fill with unshed tears.

“Call me Kate, okay?” She whispered.

Mulder just nodded, the thousands of questions swirling around in the hazel depths of his eyes.

“Your dress is nice.” Mulder said dumbly as they spun closer to the stage.

“Even I know this dress is more than nice.” Scully said with a sexy smirk as Mulder went to dip her.

“Well, after our last encounter I didnt think “Gee, Scully, I want to fuck you eight ways from Sunday” would be a good opener.” Mulder said, starting to move a bit more aggressively against her playful nature.

“Fucking me eight ways from Sunday doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, Mulder.” she purred into his ear as she ran her hands up his chest and rested them inside the collar of his shirt.

Mulder ran his hands down her bare back and gripped her hips and pulled her into his hips with surprising force, causing Scully to lick her lips and her pupils to visably dialate.

He leaned in and ran his lips down the side of her neck, stopping with a little nip on her bare shoulder.

“You wanna get out of here?” Mulder growled into her ear as he nuzzled her hair with his nose.

Scully pulled back and smiled a toothy, devilish smile up at him.

“I thought you’d never ask.”

Chapter Twelve

“I can go get the car.” Mulder said as he began to pull away from Scully, already anxious and feeling claustraphobic in the packed banquet hall.

“That won’t be necessary.” Scully said in a gilded purr, producing two key cards from somewhere in the back of her dress. “We are currently residing in the presidential suite, Room 1304.” she said proudly, flashing the cards back and forth.

“You, Agent Scully, are very presumptious.” Mulder growled into her ear as he snatched the keys and slid them into his coat pocket.

“You better take advantage of this while its being offered, Mulder.” Scully said seriously, though her blue eyes glittered up at him.

“Point taken.” Mulder said decidedly as he spun on his heel and began dragging Scully through the ballroom, heading for the elevators on the far wall.

The pair arrived at the elevators and Mulder repeatedly pressed the up button, feeling Scully’s bare arms slide slowly around his waist, her nails lightly scratching his side through his shirt.

“How many fucking floors are in this hotel?” Mulder huffed, accidently, out loud. He jammed his finger in the up button about four more times for emphasis. Scully just sighed contentedly, causing him to look down at the top of her head and place a solid kiss to her hairline.

“KATE!”

Scully was being hugged, and so was Mulder, by proxy.

Scully also had tensed up drastically.

Mulder was instantly on alert, casually trying to position himself between Scully and the extremely happy brunette that was assaulting her.

“Hey Laura. How’s your evening going?” Scully said sweetly, as she patted the girl on the arm with one hand but kept her other one wrapped firmly around Mulder’s waist.

“Oh wonderfully! Isn’t this amazing? I was so worried you got held up at the office?”

“Yeah, I did, but only for a bit.” Scully replied awkwardly. She followed Laura’s apprehensive eyes up to Mulder, who instantly felt like a misplaced Christmas ornament.

“And who is this?” Laura asked, beaming up at Mulder.

Scully coughed slightly as she glanced up at Mulder before she continued. “This is George Hale. George, this is Laura, from work. George and I are college friends.”

Mulder extended his free hand out to Laura and shook it sincerely.

“You must have been quite the popular one in college.” Laura said in a teasing tone, winking up at Mulder. Unsure of the joke, Mulder just offered a lopsided smile and leaned over to press the fucking elevator button one more time.

Scully chuckled, leaning into Mulder’s side even more. As if on cue, the elevator dinged and the group was parted by several intoxicated people exiting the elevator.

“That’s us. Nice meeting you, Laura.” Mulder said quickly as he spun and practically picked Scully up off of the ground and hauled her into the elevator.

Scully waved weakly at Laura, giggling at her gaping mouth and wide eyes.

Mulder and Scully stood side by side until the elevator doors slid shut. Instantly, Mulder had her pushed against the wall of the car, his hands on her hips and lifting her onto the handlebar. He pressed his mouth into hers with a brusing kiss, Scully meeting his mouth with as much ferocity.

“God, I missed you.” she breathed when they broke for air, Mulder’s hands digging into the velvet of her dress and unconsciously trying to figure out if the dress had buttons or was a zipper.

Mulder slid his hands up her legs, hitching her skirt up on her hips as she wrapped her legs around his waist.

“Laura has got to think I am the biggest slut in Virginia.” Scully scoffed as Mulder moved down her neck, his hands gripping her bare thighs as he was pushing into her hips with his own.

“Why?” he asked, though it barely registered.

“Well, first Skinner and then you.” she said, raking her fingers through his hair and arcing into his mouth, using the elevator car as leverage.

Mulder stopped mid-suck on her throat and backed up to look her in the face.

“First Skinner what?”

The haze of sex that had clouded her deep blue eyes was thinning and she refocused on his face, realizing what she had said.

“Well, I ran into Skinner when I was with Laura the other night, when we found you in the alley.” Scully supplied quickly, as she continued to untuck his oxford from his pants. Mulder placed her back down on the floor of the elevator and stepped back a bit, taking in the scene before him.

Few things turned him more than when his prim and proper Scully looked disheveled and thoroughly fucked, but he felt that deep burn within his belly that made him take pause.

“But, why would she assume you and Skinner were together?”

“Oh, Mulder. I dont know. You know how girls are.” Scully said with a roll of her eyes. “What are you getting at?”

“When I arrived in front of that pub, I saw you and Skinner making out like teenagers in that window. The only reason he stopped was because he saw me. Now, other people think you two are together? What the fuck is going on, Scully?”

Scully shot her eyes down to the floor and bolted out of the elevator once it finally dinged that they had arrived on the 13th floor. She walked quickly down the hall and stopped in front of their room, waiting for Mulder to unlock the door. He caught up to her and slid the key into the lock, the green light granting them entrance.

She walked into the lush, dark hotel room, and spun around as soon as she heard the room door snick shut.

“First of all, Mulder, it was a joke. I was joking about Laura thinking I was a slut. Second of all, you know that I am on an assignment and whatever you think you saw in that pub window is part of this.” she gestured wildly around her as she turned and walked to the huge picture window that overlooked Richmond. It had started to snow again.

“You know, I have fought every single instinct I have for over a week, Scully. Just trying to let you get this over with and trying to trust you and just go blindly. I have barely asked any questions and barely even tried to find you…”

“But you did, Mulder. You did find me. You tracked me down like a lost kid. You didn’t let me go do my job, you came to fucking babysit me. And it almost got your ass kicked. Skinner could have killed you.” Scully spat, her eyes never leaving the Virginia skyline.

“I wouldn’t put it past him if it got him closer to you more quickly.” Mulder mumbled, still in the foyer of the vast room.

Scully spun around then, her wide eyes apparent even in the dimly lit room.

“You have no clue what you are talking about, Mulder. I realize that I have asked you to go out on a limb for me for this assignment and I know that it has been tough. Hell, Mulder! i have cried myself to sleep every night since I left you in my bed! Skinner has saved our asses more times than we can count and that is how you think of him? Trying to make moves on your girl, Mulder? Really?” Scully practically yelled, inching closer to him, her pointer finger extended in accusal.

It was obvious that the guilt of what she was doing to him was reaching a breaking point. And it was obvious that the fear and worry of what she was doing had snapped within Mulder. But, neither cared.

“I just thought we had reached a point in our relationship where we were inseperable. I didn’t think you would pick a deep undercover assignment without even mentioning it to me, Scully? I mean, COME ON! I had no fucking clue where you even went! You ditched me completely!”

Scully just stood there, mouth agape and eyes wide.

Mulder knew he had picked the wrong set of words the moment they had left his mouth.

Scully walked up to his chest and leaned into him slowly.

“How DARE you. You are accusing me of ditching you?!? Mulder, for God’s sakes. Our entire partnership has been me playing catch up to your latest ditch. It is me picking up the goddamned pieces of whatever in the hell you have gotten yourself into and you stand their and accuse me of ditching you!”

Both stood there, breathing slowly through their noses.

Mulder snapped first.

“That’s what our partnership has been to you, Scully?” Mulder swallowed the bile that was threatening to project from his throat and fought the stinging that was blinking into his eyes.

“Get out, Mulder.” she said calmly, not meeting his eyes in the darkness.

“Scully?” Mulder asked quietly, unsure of what to do next. This was the polar opposite of what he had envisioned for tonight. The cold part of his heart knew that it was the opposite of what Scully had expected as well and that hurt him.

“Just go.” With that, she turned into the marble clad bathroom and shut the door, the sliding lock clicking into place.

Mulder stood there, shocked, for several seconds before the pain and anger overtook him.

For once, he did what she asked him to do.

He left.

Chapter Thirteen

Tequila definitely starts to lose its sting after about six shots.

Mulder threw another one back, for good measure. Taste or not, he wanted to be hammered and to obliterate the last four hours of his life.

Except for the 20 or so minutes where he watched Scully walk into that ballroom.

He wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Mulder looked around the small bar that he had ended up in, noting its sparse patrons and exhausted bartender. It had to be after midnight, judging by the dark circles under the extremely drunk girl’s eyes as she laid out on the bar a few stools down.

After leaving Scully’s room, Mulder took the stairs, trying to blow off as much steam as he could without ramming his fist into the cement blocks of the stairwell or emptying his clip into something living.

He waited at least 10 minutes for the valet to fetch his car from the garage adjacent to the hotel, but gave up as the freezing rain began to sting his ears. Mulder noted the glowing neon sign of a small bar, aptly named “Hanks” across the street from the glitzy hotel.

Six beers and seven shots later, here Mulder sat. Buzzing, sure. But, empty. And confused. And a little pissed. He should be completely relaxed with a thoroughly fucked, sated Scully sprawled across his chest by now; that skin-tight velvet dress strewn about the expensive hotel room that Scully now slept in.

But, here he was. Wallowing in self-pity and trying desperately to vindicate his accusations and actions from tonight. He knew he hunted her down, more so out of his concern and insecurities than anything else. That, and he missed her so much that he was beginning to feel his old friend depression set in.

It was either Xanex or find Scully, and if he found her, he wouldn’t have to make a claim on his insurance.

Seemed like a solid decision at the time.

“Looks like your little chick-a-dee is flying the coop.” a strangled, hoarse voice coughed beside Mulder.

It took a lot of effort for Mulder to turn his head from its resting place in his palms and not throw up.

“Excuse me?”

“That little brunette you were with at the party has checked out and is apparently in a hurry to where ever she was going.” the man continued as he lit another cigarrette and took a swig of his Budwiser.

Mulder took in the man beside him, realizing that they had met eyes when he had entered the bar, but he hadn’t given the man a second thought. He appeared to just be guy looking to drown his sorrows and forget his life.

But at the mention of Scully, Mulder fought the urge to reach for his Sig Sauer nestled at his hip.

“What do you know about the woman I was with?”

“Well, I know that you were all over her and I know that you are now here alone. Not to mention she almost ran over me while I had crossed the street.”

“I wasn’t aware she had left.” Mulder mumbled, instantly scanning his memory for any clue as to where she could have been going.

“You know…” the man said as he sideled up beside Mulder, the cigarrette balancing between his lips “I don’t like to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong, but…” the man slurred, his bourbon soaked breath puffing into Mulder’s face.

“Then don’t.” Mulder spat as he slammed a 50$ on the bar and stumbled to his feet. He shrugged on his overcoat and began to make his way to the exit of the bar.

“She would be wise to not leave the country, Agent Mulder.” the man’s voice wafted towards Mulder, his tone suddenly clear and alcohol-free.

Mulder stopped cold and slowly turned around, his hand sliding up to rest on the butt of his gun.

“Who are you?” Mulder asked, unsure of where this tet-e-tet would lead and who in the hell sent this man.

“She is flying out in the morning and you are being intentionally left out because you are the one thing that can keep her out of this case, Agent. It is in her best interest that she doesn’t leave the country… and your’s.” the man said deliberately as he walked up to Mulder and stood nose to nose, the man’s slate grey eyes hard and intellgent as they stared into his.

“Since you know so much, where is she going?” Mulder’s palms began to sweat as apprehension and fear began to chomp into his belly.

“Berlin. Her flight leaves at 0600. Agent Scully should not land in Berlin, Mulder. There are people waiting for her there and they will not be as forthcoming with information as I am.” he said as he brushed passed Mulder and out the door into the freezing night.

Mulder stood frozen for several seconds as his mind tried to process what in the hell had just happened. Instantly, Mulder was mobile, heading to the door and bursting through the opening looking both ways in the dark street. Not surprisingly, he saw nothing.

Mulder slid his cell phone out and made a quick call.

“Hey, Frohike. It’s Mulder. I need to book a flight to Berlin.”

Skinner rolled over and peered at the clock, the blaring red 2:26am staring back at him.

He heard the high pitched chirp of his cell phone blip on his side table and realized, with a growl, that that was what had awoken him.

He reached his arm over and slid the phone up to his ear, clearing his throat as he hit the “answer” button.

“Skinner.”

“Mr. Skinner. I thought we had made it clear that Agent Mulder was not going to be made aware of any of the intricasies of this case. You gave me your word.”

Skinner sat up in the bed and blindly searched for his glasses as he listened.

“I can assure you that Agent Mulder has not been included in any part of this case what-so-ever.” Skinner said truthfully. “Actually, I have personally seen to it that he has been kept away from the center of this case, the center being Agent Scully.”

“Well, I have intel pouring in, Mr. Skinner, that would prove to the contrary. He was at the party tonight, and needless to say, he knew Agent Scully was there.”

Skinner rolled his eyes as he tried to keep a professional demeanor with his superior.

“How do you know that he knew she was there?”

The man on the phone cleared his throat. “Let’s just say, it is pretty obvious. I will forward you the film. The most concerning point is that we have evidence that Mulder just booked a flight to Berlin leaving at 0600 from Richmond. What do you know about this?”

“Shit.” Skinner huffed. “I will look into it and get back to you.”

“Mr. Skinner, if Fox Mulder arrives in Berlin, this entire investigation will be blown and Dana Scully’s blood will be on your hands.”

And with that, the line went dead.

Chapter Fourteen

Scully slid down into her narrow seat and placed her water bottle in the cup holder. So far, she was the only person in her little row of the plane and she really hoped it stayed that way.

Literally no sleep and her anxiousness with flying were not helping the migrane slowly creeping into her lower brain. Add the fact that her mind was still reeling from her argument with Mulder only further assured her that there would be no napping on this flight.

There was a part of her that longed for Mulder’s strong arm and large hand resting on top of her’s. His precense was instantly calming and she needed calm right now. She hated to admit it early on in their partnership, but now… it was a lifeline.

She leaned her head back against the seat, watching the other patrons file into the plane, dotting the seating area but leaving quite a few seats open. It was a direct flight to Berlin and Scully assumed that it would be a bit more crowded than this.

Skinner had also alerted her to being watched. The State Department and CIA were sending a couple of people to watch her back as she flew out of American territory… for her safety, he had added at her skeptical eyebrow.

“Safety, my ass.” Scully had mumbled to Skinner, eliciting a small knowing smile from him as he had helped her with her bags. These men were being sent to spy and to make sure she didn’t fuck up. And if she did fuck up, that it didn’t look bad for the American government.

Scully began to listen to the air being blown into the cabin and felt her eyes slipping closed as she slowly started to relase the tension that had been built up in the muscles of her shoulders.

It wasn’t until she felt her arm move that she jerked awake, just in time to see the ‘seatbelt’ sign blink to the on position.

“Oh, excuse me.” a voice mumbled, as a man continued wakling towards the front of the cabin, his baseball cap pulled down a little too far and his coat collar pulled up a little bit too high. He must have bumped her arm off of the arm rest as she dozed.

Scully refocused her tired eyes, trying to see a bit more clearly as she fiddled with her seatbelt. Something about that man’s voice sent little goosebumps all over her arms and back.

Mulder had been the only man to do that to her…. well, up until last night. She had been so furious and so confused that asking him to leave had definitely been the least dangerous thing she could think of doing to him. Though, as she thought about it, it probably wounded him just as much as if she had physically harmed him… which she had seriously contemplated doing.

Scully knew that he was just being Mulder. And that this newer facet of their relationship did change the game plan a bit. But, she felt something shift and it had started when she had walked into that alley and seen Skinner pinning Mulder against the cold brick wall.

Something was different. This assignment had brought darkness into their partnership. If Scully chose to think about it, it looked like it was designed to drive a wedge between them. To drive them apart.

Well, if that had been the case, it certainly was working.

Her hand subconsciously went to the gold chain sitting lightly around her neck, her fingers playing with the exquisite diamond that hung at its center.

Scully took a deep, steadying breath and leaned over to look at the sun as it started to pinken the frozen Virginia skyline.

She would call Mulder as soon as she landed and straighten all of this out.

“Drink, Miss?” the big-toothed flight attendent asked as she dipped a little to closely to Scully for her taste.

“No, thank you.” Scully answered as she gestured to the water bottle to her left. Scully smiled sweetly as the pilot came on the speaker and began to describe the frozen tundra that was currently Richmond.

Scully felt the vibrations from the engines as they fired up and began her breathing exercises as they started to taxi down the runway.

Any concerns or doubts she had had about going to Berlin would have to be filed away. There was no going back now.

Once they were in the sky, Scully opened her tired eyes and looked down the aisle, hoping to maybe get a blanket from the horse-esque flight attendent.

But, when she focused her eyes on the woman, Scully’s heart skipped several beats and she felt her cheeks flush with fury.

The flight attendent was handing a water bottle to Mulder.

He was glancing around nervously, the flight attendent obviously taken with him, and his hazel eyes met Scully’s angry blue ones.

Not knowing what to do or how to react without causing a serious scene, Scully leaned back into her space, out of the aisle and just leaned her head back on the headrest.

A single hot tear tracked down her pink cheek and she felt her rear molars start to grind in frustration.

She noticed a shadow over her, but refused to open her eyes, trying to tamp down the hurt and shock of seeing Mulder on her flight.

Mulder cleared his throat, his nervous energy palpating off of him and invaded Scully’s serene little spot on the plane.

“I guess now would be a good time to tell you that I took three years of German in high school.”

Scully continued to breathe forcefully out of her nose.

“Mulder, if I open my eyes, I will want to kick your ass, so in order to not be court marshalled, I am not going to open my eyes.” Scully replied calmly, trying to will her jaw to stop it’s stress related grinding.

She felt Mulder slide across her legs and plop down in the seat next to her.

“Scully, this is not what it looks like.” he whispered seriously, still talking to her profile as she refused to look at him.

“Oh really, Mulder? Because I think this is EXACTLY what it looks like.” she spat and turned her face toward his and slid her eyes open.

She should have kept them closed.

The minute she saw his face, this close to her’s, all the anger and hurt from the last 24 hours melted away for a split second.

She actually fought the urge to smile.

Mulder reached up and pushed a lock of dark hair that was puffing in front of her lips behind her ear, his fingertips lightly tracing her jawline before it went back to his lap.

“I’m sorry about last night.” he said quietly, his eyes not fully meeting her’s. “I am a jealous ass and I should back off. I know that.”

To hear him apologize was so foreign and surprising that Scully fought the urge to take him in her arms to make that sad look on his face go away.

“I am too. I reacted brashly and I shouldn’t have. They just have a lot of pressure on me and I felt like you were questioning my loyalty to you.” Scully whispered back.

Mulder looked up at her then, his eyes searing and smoldering beneath his baseball cap.

“I would never question your loyalty to me.” he said with serious finality.

“But, that still doesn’t explain why you are on my flight.” Scully replied, the irritation still apparent in her voice.

Mulder was quiet a moment as he searched for the right explanation for their current predicament.

“Ich bin ein Berliner, Scully.” he said lightly, his fingers grasping her cold ones and bringing them up to his mouth for the faintest of kisses.

Scully watched as his warm lips christened the pads of her fingers, her chest instantly warming.

“I still want to kick your ass.” she said as she slid her eyes closed once more.

Scully wove her fingers through Mulder’s and exhaled as she settled back against the seat.

Maybe she would get a nap after all.

Chapter Fifteen

Scully stretched her neck as consciousness began to tap into her mind. Her nap had been extremely fulfilling, but she could still feel the migrane lurking in the shadows.

She couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten more than a cup of yogurt in the last week.

Her heavy eyes slid open as she noticed her hands were now void of Mulder’s graceful fingers, her mind waking up a bit more quickly than she would have preferred.

Her eyes took in Mulder leaned against the frigid window, his glasses perched low on his nose, his tired eyes scanning page after page of the file that Scully had purposefully placed in her locked carry-on.

Scully lurched towards him, after her large intake of breath caused him to startle against the file in his hands.

“Mulder!” she barked as she snatched the thick folder from his hands and clutched it to her chest. Scully realized that her outburst had caused several patrons to turn their heads toward she and Mulder and her cheeks instantly flushed.

“Mulder, that is classified. You know that.” Scully whispered in a hushed warning, her tense shoulders resting somewhere around her ears.

Mulder slid his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose with his fingers, stretching his shoulders as he shifted in his seat so he was sitting arm to arm with Scully.

“The origin of that disease isn’t Russian, Scully.” Mulder said smugly as he leaned down to talk directly into her ear. Scully fought the urge to shudder with Mulder’s breath curling around the shell of her ear. She woke up pissed and would remain pissed until further evidence presented itself.

“I’m sure the state department would fill a file that full of information with the wrong nationality, Mulder.” she said sarcastically. She was about to stand to place the file back into her overhead compartment when Mulder turned in his seat to face her fully.

“Look directly at me, Scully.” he said quietly, seriously. “There is a man about three rows back, two seats over who has been extremely interested in us since I came back here. Do you know who he is?”

Scully non-chalantly glanced around her seat and met the black eyes of the man who was making sure he kept a full, obvious visual on them. She dipped back around to face Mulder and shook her head to the negative.

“Skinner said that I may have some people that would be looking after me as I arrived in Berlin.” she whispered, her eyes widening in slight apprehension, trying to read Mulder’s expression as one of fatigue or worry.

“Yeah, well, I heard him talking to the flight attendent and he ain’t from DC.” Mulder whispered quickly. “He has a thick slovian accent.”

“I wasn’t told the nationality of the men that would tail me, Mulder.” Scully said, more to make herself feel better than to assuage Mulder’s worry.

Mulder looked at Scully doubtfully. “Scully, you and I both know that the State Department would not send foreigners to track you. They would want the credit, either way.” Mulder rose up slightly to peer over the seats to view their tail and slumped back into their seat abruptly.

“Kiss me, Scully.” Mulder whispered quickly as he leaned in. She tried to get out “Why” but her lips were parted by his mid-breath and she felt her body instantly respond. Mulder slid his tongue across her bottom lip, testing and tasting. Feeling Scully swipe his with her tongue was enough to give him the boost he needed to deepen the kiss, his large hands resting on her thighs and absently kneading into her flesh.

Scully froze as she heard a man clear his throat behind her.

Mulder swept his tongue along her’s in a tantalizing swirl one final time before he lazily glanced up and pulled away from her flushed mouth.

“Can I help you?” Mulder asked, playing the role of the annoyed flyer perfectly.

“Yes. I was wondering if you had the time?” The man asked in broken english, his expensive suit and sparkling ring reinforcing that this man did not work for the US government.

Mulder huffed irritably. “Nope.” he said as he turned back to Scully, smiling foolishly and leaning back into her lips, lightly grazing her mouth. Scully took her cue and slid her hands up to rest on the sides of his face. She felt the tension and knotted muscles in her shoulders relax finally.

Mulder pulled away from her lips and began to trace her jaw line with little kisses, his hands sliding up her thighs to rest in the dip of her waist, his index fingers finding their way underneath her heavy sweatshirt.

Scully was allowing him access to her throat as she rested her temple against his, exhaling in the space between them.

“What?” Mulder asked as he continued the assault on her throat, but took her exhaling as a problem.

Scully didn’t answer but chose to just allow herself this one indulgence, regardless whether it was in the open on a plane over the Atlantic. She just wanted them to be them for a few more minutes.

“I love you.” she whispered quietly, her eyes still closed and hair lightly laying across her cheek. “I love you so much.”

Her words caused Mulder to stop and pull back, his thumb swiping a stray tear from her closed eye.

His stillness caused her to look up, wondering what he was doing in his silence. He was inches from her face, his thumbs caressing her soft skin, and his eyes were damp with moisture.

He was just looking at her.

She smiled meekly at him, sniffling with an embarassing, muffled sound. “I think the guy is gone.” she said through a small laugh, surprised in hindsight by how her emotions were so raw and exposed when Mulder would get this close to her.

“There was a guy?” Mulder quipped as he leaned in for another quick kiss and then settled back against this seat, taking Scully’s hand into both of his and resting them in his lap.

“What do you think he was doing?” Scully asked as she settled herself back down, trying to focus on the situation at hand. She noticed that the sun was well into the sky and realized they should be landing soon.

“Just scoping us out, I would imagine. You would think that an international spy would have a better pick up line than the time. That was ridiculous.” Mulder scoffed as he looked out the window.

“We need to make a game plan, Mulder. I already feel like Im going into this blind, I don’t want to drag you into it with no back-up.” Scully said seriously.

“We?” Mulder lolled his head over the head rest and looked at her with raised eyebrows. Scully lolled her head back towards him, a knowing smirk on her face.

“Well, you have read my file, followed me to Germany, and have been spotted with me by a possible terrorist. I guess we are a ‘we’ by default.”

Mulder smiled genuinely at her as he slipped his eyes closed.

“Well, WE are going to have to haul ass when we get off of this plane. I have it on good authority that you are not wanted in Berlin and I plan to make sure that you stay in one piece.” Mulder said while his eyes remained closed, though his hand squeezed her’s as it rested in his lap.

“Who is your good authority?” Scully asked, instantly intrigued.

Mulder exhaled loudly and settled into his seat.

“Trust me, ‘Kate’. Just trust me.”

Chapter Sixteen

As soon as the pilot thanked the group for flying with Delta, Mulder was rocketed out of his seat, already holding Scully’s carry-on close to his chest with one hand and holding onto Scully with the other.

He meandered through the line, trying to keep as many people between them and the black-eyed man as possible, smiling sweetly and weasling his body in and around a slew of very perturbed people.

Finally exiting the plane and hitting the open marketplace that was Berlin-Tegel airport afforded them thousands of places to wait out their tail and thousands of people to get lost amoungst.

Their current position had them about 20 minutes from the heart of Berlin, which is where Scully was expected to check in at the Raddison Blu hotel in the heart of the business district. Her first actual assignment was to report to the Babel Forschungseinrichtung the following morning, which thrilled Mulder. He was determined to get them a rock-solid plan before he let her out of his sight.

Mulder suddenly ducked into a small coffee shop that was littered with patrons and kept Scully tucked close to him as he kept his head on a swivel.

Scully stayed close, keeping her head ducked down when she suddenly felt her phone vibrate against her pocket. She slipped it out, the blue glow of the screen reflecting the DC number, though she tried to keep it turned away so as to not draw any attention to she or Mulder.

She cast her eyes up, the question lingering, wondering if she should answer it as Skinner’s private phone number flashed on the screen.

Mulder nodded impreceptively and Scully dipped behind him, further into the throng of people waiting for their coffee. She ducked into the ladies bathroom as she hit the answer button.

“Scully.”

“It’s Skinner. What in the hell is going on, Scully? I have got the president on the other line wondering why the state department has picked up the bill for a $700 Versace dress and the presidential suite at the Richmond Hilton. Not to mention that Mulder’s attendance at the gala has more than a few very powerful people more than pissed. I am at a loss.”

Scully stood in the stall, mouth agape, her cheeks flaming and her mind reeling. She had rarely heard Skinner this furious and … nervous, maybe? He was actually very nervous.

“Sir, I think that Mulder could be extremely helpful in this investigation…”

“Goddamnit, Dana. That is not your call to make!” he barked into the phone, causing a prickle of tears to sting her eyes.

She remained quiet for a few moments.

“Sir, I realize that Mulder has made his share of enemies at the White House, but that should not hold precidence on whehter or not my partner accompanies me on an assignment.” Scully stated factually, surprised at how level her voice sounded.

“Again, that is not in your authority to decide who gets to accompany you on assignments, Agent Scully. That is my job and my superior’s job. Mulder needs to be…”

Scully’s sharp intake of breath caused Skinner to pause. She began to skulk out of the stall, her back flattened against the cool marble of the sink. She blindly reached behind her, feeling for her gun, and realized that she gave that up when she became ‘Kate’.

“Scully?” Skinner’s voice filtered into the earpiece, the concern evident in his voice.

He had heard it too.

Scully placed her hand on the door to the bathroom, steeling herself before she swung it open. The screams and sobs of the people in the coffee shop were already slowing to a dull roar.

“Scully, were those gunshots?” Skinner practically yelled into the phone as she absently slid it back into her pocket.

The three shots fired had hit their target with a sickening thud.

The sound of a bullet ripping through the torso of a human being creates a solid, muted sound.

She’d know that sound anywhere.

Chapter Seventeen

Scully slipped out of the heavy bathroom door, the scene unfolding before her like a horribly graphic movie.

There were still people huddling behind overturned tables, the cops sweeping the cafe’, swarms of uniformed men flodding the marketplace of the airport. Screaming children and sobbing women were blocking her view of the entrance…the last place she had seen Mulder.

She could see EMS huddled around the door and a woman being led out of the door who was obviously inconsolable. Scully began to take slow, even breaths through her nose, trying to calm the tremors in her hands. Her movements were calculated, the people slowly moving around her causing her fear to ratchet up yet another notch.

The shots she had heard while on the phone with Skinner were precise and had hit their target.

Scully finally made her way to the spot where she had left Mulder and found it replaced by a pod of police officers and men with notepads. She cast a glance to her right, where all of the EMS men were working frantically and realized they were desperately trying to resussitate a blonde haired woman, two solid holes bleeding profusely in her chest.

Scully selfishly exhaled in relief and slipped out the door to the cafe, the hectic and panic filled marketplace of the Berlin Airport instantly seeming larger than before.

Throngs of people were flying past her, bumping into her and causing her to get pushed and turned around. Scully began to move with the direction of the mob, her eyes trying to keep her focus anyone that remotely resembled Mulder. The noise echoing off of the arching ceiling was causing Scully to have trouble focusing on the movement of going forward.

Scully continued to push foward when she felt someone slip their fingers into her right hand. She glanced up and instantly fought the prickle of tears that sprung to her eyes. She went to stop and fully turn toward Mulder, but he kept his grip on her hand tightly and continued forward, dragging her forward. He never glanced down at her, just kept his steel eyes forward and his hat pulled down over his eyes.

She couldn’t help but breaking out in a full, toothy grin as she and her partner walked in time towards the massive exodus that was the entrance.

Once they were funneled out of the entrance, the ice cold wind whipped around them, Scully’s brunette hair whirling around her face.

Mulder continued down the sidewalk, never letting go of Scully’s icy fingers as they passed the rows of taxis and traffic jam that was crossed with the blue and red lights of emergency vehicles. News crews were trying to inch through the traffic, people abandoning their vans and heading to the entrance.

Mulder just kept walking. He kept his arm down, his jacket buttoned firmly and his hat down. Scully fought the urge to yank him to stop, knowing that what he had seen had probably been enough cause to keep them moving.

Mulder ducked beside an alley between the airport building and a car rental building finally resting against the brick wall for a few moments, his breathing labored from the constant motion. Scully took a moment to rest as well.

“We are meeting a contact here.” Mulder said through gasps of breath. “He will have some wheels and somewhere we can go.”

Scully’s head snapped up, searching his profile in shock and confusion.

“Mulder, I am to report to the hotel within the hour. They will know if I do not show up. I am in enough trouble as it is.” Scully tried to explain, waving her cell phone at him for emphasis. Her call with Skinner was enough to get even Mulder in line.

“Yeah, that assignment is over, Scully. This is happening exactly how he said.” Mulder mumbled, more to himself than to her. Before she could ask what in the hell he was talking about, the loud whining of a motorbike echoed off of the alley walls, causing Mulder to push off of the brick wall and position himself between Scully and the man approaching them.

A kid slid the bike towards them, in perfect motocross fashion, and killed the engine. He pulled his helmet off and went to pull a cigarette out of his back pocket.

“You Hale?” the kid asked, his thick German accent harshly adhering to the fragmented sentence.

Mulder nodded as he extended his hand, the same hand that had held on to Scully. He had kept his right hand in his pocket since he had caught up to her in the airport. That struck Scully as odd.

“You must be Kris. Goggles said you would be here and here you are.” Mulder said as he appraised the bike. “Is this ours?”

“Ja. Full tank of gas and this is the address of the safe house. GPS is in the bag. They are expecting you.” Kris said, gesturing to the black backpack hanging on the handle of the black speedbike. Scully noted that the bike was a BMW, but even in Germany, that had to cost some money.

“What do we owe you?” Mulder said as he reached into the pocket that wasn’t housing his hand. Kris looked at them quizzically. Finally, it dawned on him what Mulder had meant and he smiled self-consciously.

“You have powerful friends, Herr Hale. You owe me nothing.” he said cyrptically as he breezed past Mulder and Scully, heading to the sidewalk of the airport.

Mulder glanced back at Scully and shrugged his shoulders, still nothing of substance being exchanged between them. He walked towards the bike and appraised it, his face obviously showing pleasure in what he was dealing with.

Mulder threw his long, jean clad leg over the bike and leaned it up off of the kickstand. He looked over at Scully expectantly, his eyebrows raised in question.

“You coming?” he asked as he turned his baseball cap backwards, causing Scully to instantly fight a shiver that was not caused by the freezing temperatures.

She had planned on arguing with him, demanding answers. But, blame it on the surreal nature of this week or her still overwhelming relief at seeing Mulder in one piece, but she dutifully walked to the bike, steadying herself on Mulder’s shoulder and throwing her leg over the bike.

Mulder started the engine and turned it in the direction that Kris had entered the alley from.

Scully securely wrapped her arms around Mulder’s waist and began to grip the bike with her inner thighs for added security.

As they carefully weaved through the alley on the expert motorcycle, Scully took one of her hands to her face, pulling at the windblown strands of hair that was warring with her eyes and mouth.

The deep red stain on her fingers caused her to still before she had brought her hand to her face.

Mulder was bleeding.

Chapter Eighteen

The cold steel teeth of fear began to grice at Scully’s heart, her crimson fingers freezing in front of her shocked eyes. Mulder’s life laid drying on her hand.

“Mulder?” she half whispered, half cried as close to his ear as she possibly could get as he sped through the crowded streets of Berlin.

Mulder turned his head sideways quickly, to acknowledge Scully’s question and reached behind him, taking her offending hand in his and wrapping it back around to his chest, his eyes never leaving the road.

He held her hand over his heart, his frozen large hand covering hers.

Mulder returned his hand to the handlebar of the bike and glanced at the GPS he had situated on the instrument panel of the motorcycle.

Mulder began to weave down a more domesticated district of inner Berlin, his speed slowing as he began to start looking at house numbers.

Scully felt herself slipping into shock. Her conscious mind was furious that she was just sitting there, riding with a wounded Mulder, but her subconscious mind was so jilted that she wasn’t able to make her body do anything about it.

Mulder finally turned down a small side street along several very European styled apartment buildings and killed the engine to the bike.

He kicked the kickstand out and looked behind him, his breathing through clentched teeth and his face decidedly blanched. Scully took the cue and climbed off of the back of the bike, instantly turning to reach for Mulder as his labored body heaved off of the bike.

He began to lean into her fully as she pulled him to standing.

“Will you let me look at it?” she asked, not sure who was watching and who was listening or what she was expected to do. All her brain was screaming was a mantra of “muldershurtmuldershurtmuldershurt”.

“After we get to our room. I’m fine.” he lied, as he licked his dried lips. “It’s this one, I think.”

Scully led them up to the front door of a tall, brown apartment building, the sound of crying children and meowing cats suddenly tapping into Scully’s consciousness. This was obviously a poorer side of town, a far cry from the Raddison Blu.

Mulder leaned his weight against the stoop railing as he urged Scully up the steps with his free hand. She walked up and rang the bell, stepping back two steps to cover the opening door.

A dark curly haired woman, late 40’s, swung open the oak door staring at Scully through an outer screen.

“Ja?” she asked as she wiped her hands on her dingy looking apron.

“Um, yes, we are looking for a room to rent?” Scully asked polietly, unsure of what their current arrangement was meant to be.

The woman merely rolled her eyes at Scully and slammed the door in her face. Scully heard some German being screamed behind the door. She turned back to look at Mulder for further instruction but the oak door swung open again to a younger version of the first woman.

She was cute, young, with dark curly hair and big, brown eyes.

“My apologies. Meine mutter? She does not speak English.” The girl said kindly as she held the screen open for Scully and Mulder. “You are Herr Hale?” she asked Mulder as he labored up the stairs, gripping for Scully’s hand to pull himself up.

“Ja. This is my wife, Kate.” Mulder said, his genuine smile causing a faint blush to creep over the young girl’s face. She could not be older than 16, so talking to any male probably got that reaction from her, Scully thought. The girl bowed her head to Scully in greeting as they walked passed her into the foyer of the apartment building.

“Meine name Bianca. Kris is my brother.” she said quickly as she pushed the oak door closed against the bitter icy winter. “He arranged for you two to rent the room above our’s. My parents own the building, but we just had a tenant move out. you are very lucky!” she said sweetly as she brushed passed the dazed couple.

“Bianca, we are very tired after a long day. Could we make it to our room and talk tonight?” Scully asked. She hated to be so insistant, but Mulder was seriously hurt and she needed to look at him.

“Oh! Of course. Bitte. Please.” she exclaimed past them and led the way up the narrow, dimly lit stairs. The building was drafty and cold, but had a certain home-like charm. Pictures adorned the walls throughout the downstairs apartment and the warmth from the main fireplace created some relieving heat on Scully’s frozen ears.

The group finally arrived at their door, Bianca sliding the key into the lock and revealing a small and sparcly furnished one room apartment. The room had a small kitchenette, circa pre-cold war and a small furnace near the one window. The bed was large and rested on a large iron bed frame.

“The badehaus ist down the hall, on the right. Dinner is served at 6:00pm. I can bring it up, if you like.” she said eagerly, her eyes taking in Mulder’s slumped form and ghastly features but her mouth belying her concern.

“That would be fine.” Scully smiled as she and Mulder entered their room, which she found surprisingly warm. “Could you bring me a bowl and some towels? I can pay you for them.” Scully asked slowly, her nervousness not allowing her brain to translate the necessities into German easily.

Bianca nodded and skittered off to get the list of items for Scully, thrilled to have something to do to help these mysterious American travelers.

As soon as their apartment door closed, Mulder exhaled and sunk against the grey wall, his hand instantly wrapping tightly around his gut and his eyes squeezing shut.

Scully was instantly beside him, her hands prying at his coat and trying to coax him from his perch on the wall to the loan chair in the room.

“Wait until after she comes back.” Mulder huffed, keeping his hands firm around his coat. Scully just nodded and went to help him sit, which she considered a compromise. She went to the large bed and lit several oil lamps that were sitting on the surrounding tables, instantly choosing them over the lone lightbuld dangling over their heads. She turned down the sheets and noticed the soft, fine fabric of the sheets. They must be antique, she thought, as everything else in the building looked as if it was created before 1940.

Bianca bounced back into the room after a soft knock and placed the bowl and towels by the small sink and nodded as she left, closing the door with a small “snick”. Mulder leaned over and slid the door locked.

Scully was a flurry of action instantly, using both of her hands to rip Mulder’s coat open and gasped at what she was looking at. Mulder’s entire thermal shirt was soaked in the cardinal color, the blackness creeping down onto the leg of his jeans. His head lolled back as she began to slip into Doctor mode.

“Is it bad?” Mulder asked non-chalantly, already knowing the answer. Scully’s wide eyes met his, the terror and nervousness clear and evident in her face.

She stood and slid his coat off of his arms and began to carefully pull his shirt over his head. “I need some scissors, Mulder, so bear with me.” Scully gritted out as she emphatically tried to ease Mulder’s arms out of his shirt.

Scully got eye-level with the point of entry, holding an oil candle up to his side to see what she was dealing with. She instantly blew out a puff of breath in relief.

“It only looks bad. It went clean through your side, Mulder.” she said distractedly.

“They why do you look so upset?” he asked as he continued to balance himself in the small chair, his lean torso half lit by Scully’s lamp.

“Because you lost a lot of blood and I have nothing here to disinfect it with.” Scully said as she stood to run the tap water into the bowl that Bianca had brought in. Scully returned to his side and began to drip the water soaked towel over the hole in his flesh, the movement seeming distractedly intimate in the dim light.

“Just clean it up and let’s get a nap. Neither one of us has slept.” Mulder said, his head still leaned back and his eyes slipping closed.

“I want to know what in the hell is going on, Mulder. How did you know that would happen in the airport?” Scully asked as her hands worked on his skin, the blood easily washing away and revealing a very managable, albeit painful fleshwound. “Is that why you sent me to the bathroom? Did you call Skinner?” Realization was starting to tap into her brain and she sat back for a moment, staring at Mulder in disbelief.

“I just needed to buy some time until I coudld make arrangements.” His eyes were still closed.

“You said something about it ‘happening exactly how he said’. Who is “He”? And I assume ‘Goggles’ is Langley. Scully reached into the black backpack and began rooting around for something that she could adhere a towel to his side to help stauch the bleeding. Coming up with nothing, she wrapped two fresh towels around his waist and helped him stand as he shuffled to the bed.

“I don’t have anything to dress that with, so you will just have to lay perfectly still, okay?” Scully said as she eased Mulder down onto the feather matress, his shoulders relaxing instantly. He mouthed an “okay” to her as she fussed with his towels a few more times before he settled down into the pillows.

“We will talk after we wake up, okay?” Mulder asked under hooded lids, his hand searching out hers as she perched on the side of the bed.

“We?” Scully asked through a small smile, her eyebrown raised in indignation.

“We are a ‘we’ by default, remember?” Mulder said as his warm hand traveled up the arm that was bracing her weight on the mattress.

Scully smiled down at him, running the back of her hand across his stuble as his eyes slid closed, a faint smile resting on his lips. She stood to shed her coat, realizing she still had it on, and went to pull her sweater over her head, revealing a thin white long sleeved top and her jeans. After she pulled Mulder’s boots off of his still feet, she removed her own and began to crawl onto the opposite side of the bed.

She carefully laid down on her side of the bed, turning on her side and watching Mulder’s bare chest rising and falling in the dim shadow of the oil lamps.

“Are you going to lay over here or not?” Mulder asked, his mouth the only thing moving on his body, besides his chest.

“Mulder, you need to not move and rest. We can snuggle later.” Scully said as she settled into the pillow, reaching down to pull the comforter over them both, feeling sleep inching into her mind as her breathing began to slow.

Mulders closest hand wrapping around her’s in the space between them on the bed was the last thing she remembered before she dozed off.

Chapter Nineteen

Water was dripping. A furnace was clicking. Someone was walking above their heads.

Scully languidly stretched her legs as she shifted under the thick quilt, sighing deeply but refusing to open her eyes just yet.

Mulder.

Mulder had been hurt.

Her eyes shot open as she inhaled sharply, the dim light of the room creating a welcoming adjustment to her sleep adled features.

Mulder was laying across from her, several inches seperating them, his hazel eyes focused on her intently and seriously.

When their eyes met, he offered a small, lopsided smile.

“You slept a long time.” he whispered, still not touching her but obviously drinking her in with his smoldering eyes. Scully smiled self-consciously, suddenly a bit uneasy under such an intense gaze.

“How are you feeling?” she whispered back, her eyes raking over the tantalizing picture in front of her. Mulder laid there, one of his long arms tucked underneath the pillow, his bare chest partially hidden by the grey quilt that covered them both.

“I’m okay. A bit sore.” he said, his eyes still boring into her’s.

“You need to eat something.” Scully said, feeling a bit dumb that she wasn’t able to come up with something more coherent than his dietary needs. She was stalling. She wanted to demand answers. To know why in the hell she felt like she was in the middle of “The Bourne Identity” and why Mulder knew more than her. She wanted to know where they were going and who was after them. She wanted to know how the bodies she was sent to investigate were not Russian and how Mulder could figure that out from her files.

But, she couldn’t articulate any of that . She just continued to stare, as did he, neither wanting to pop the fragile bubble that had gingerly been created in this small, dimly lit room in Eastern Berlin.

“I know you want answers Scully, but honestly, I do not have much more information than you do.” Mulder said quietly, his mouth the only movement across from her on the bed. His gravelly, dry throat caused gooseflesh to break out across her arm and belly, causing her to snuggle even deeper into the quilt.

“I don’t even know where to start.” she whispered honestly.

Mulder then scooted into that sacred space between them on the matress, not bothering to hide the wince as his body fought the need for movement and protested under the strain. His long body leaned against hers, his elbow propping him up over her face as she turned more fully onto her back. Her hands, instinctually, went up to frame his face, her nails scraping the small hairs at the back of his neck.

He leaned down and lightly touched his lips to hers, his nose nuzzling her cheek before they met. Scully felt her body respond to his advances instantly, her shoulders releasing tension she hadn’t realized that she had been holding on too. Mulder’s kiss started innocently enough, placing small kisses along her mouth and her chin, his nose rubbing and nudging her as he went.

It wasn’t until a moan escaped her lips that his response changed, his mouth pressing more insistantly against hers, his tongue parting her lips and his free hand guiding down her warm side, underneath the quilt and gripping her thigh through her jeans.

Mulder deepened their kiss, their pace morphing from sweet and welcoming to hungry and needy. He broke from her mouth, kissing and nipping at her jawline, his lips wrapping around her earlobe.

“Take your shirt off.” Mulder growled into her ear as he shifted his hips into her thigh, the hardness pressing against his jeans as he started to absently grind into her leg.

Scully leaned up and slid her t-shirt over her head, the top mussing her hair in the process, leaving her looking wanton and wanting. Her grey, lace bra fit her body perfectly and she took note of Mulder’s obvious approval of the scrap of materal.

Scully had to actually pull his face up to look at her, causing him to drag his eyes away from her body and recognize that she needed his attention.

“We really shouldn’t, Mulder.” she tried, breathlessly. “You are hurt.” Her fingers hadn’t stopped running through the fine hair scattered on his tight stomach as she spoke. Mulder raised his eyebrows up in mock indignation.

“You really should have mentioned that before you took your shirt off.” Mulder said with a smirk as he leaned in and claimed Scully’s mouth for his own, his leg slowly going to part her’s underneath the blanket. His mouth sucked and kissed it’s way down her throat, leaving red marks in it’s wake. His fingers slid the straps of her bra down her shoulders as his mouth continued to revere her body, causing Scully to arch her back in response.

Mulder leaned up, his eyes looking deep into her’s, his chest heaving with restraint. The way he looked at her made her want to weep.

“You are so beautiful.” he whispered, running two fingertips down her chin and rested them in the valley of her breasts, above the lace. Scully leaned up then, meeting his mouth with as much ferocity, the want and ache between her legs driving out any Doctor-esque ideas that had filtered into her consciousness.

Mulder reached behind her as her body moved underneath his and slipped the clasp of the bra open, freeing her breasts and allowing Mulder a playground of new places to place his mouth.

Scully began to chant his name over and over, her hands resting in his thick hair as lips closed around a pink, hardened nipple, his large hands wrapping around her small waist to hold her as still as he could. Their hips were moving in time with one another.

Scully froze, her hands stilling themselves as they were tangled in Mulder’s hair. Mulder either didn’t hear it or didnt care because his mouth merely moved to her right breast, his lips and teeth marring the delicate skin there.

“Mulder?” Scully whispered as she tried to determine if that was at their door or just echoing from another apartment.

“They will come back.” he answered, his voice muffled as he had burried his face into her flesh.

“Herr Hale? Sie haben ein paket.” a female voice filtered through the heavy door, eliciting a groan from Mulder as he rested his forehead against Scully’s ribs.

“Coming.” Mulder barked, exhaling against her skin and glancing up at Scully in apology. “We probably need that.” Mulder said to her quietly as he reached for the quilt and pulled it up to allow Scully some modesty. “You and I? We are finishing this later, Woman.”

Mulder placed one open mouthed kiss to Scully’s sternum and then slowly inched to the side of the bed, pushing himself to his feet and slowly taking in as much air as he could so that he could right himself. Scully tried to not notice how much dried blood remained on the white towels that laid on the bed.

Mulder pulled his coat on over his chest, not having anything else to wear that was not obviously covered in blood. He cracked the door as Scully ducked underneath the quilt, staying as covered as she could. Married or not, she did not need this apartment building to be aware of her fiance’s sexual prowess.

“Danke.” Mulder said as took the package from Bianca’s mother and smiled greatfully.

“Ich bringe das fruhstuck.” she replied, rolling her eyes at Mulder’s dishevled appearence and turned to walk down the hall.

“Bitte.” Mulder said and slipped the door closed, turning the brown box around in his hands. “What is “Fruhstuck”?” Mulder asked as he walked back to the bed and sat on the edge. Scully ducked her head out of the edge of the quilt.

“Breakfast.” Scully supplied, her eyes watching the box suspiciously.

Mulder placed the box in the space between them.

“Goggles has been busy.”

Chapter Twenty

Scully sat on the edge of the bed, nibbling on the dry toast that Bianca’s mother had dropped off, absently brushing the crumbs from her newly accquired black thermal shirt. She was watching Mulder with intensity, the tender moment from this morning, gone.

Newly showered and shaved, Mulder had booted up the laptop that had been shipped to him, via Langley, and stared intently at the glowing screen, sipping the strong black coffee without blinking.

Scully looked behind her at the contents of the “care package” scattered across their rumpled bed. Langley apparently thought they were either tracking terrorists or going deep sea diving, due to the amount of equipment that was shipped. Besides knives and handguns, there were maps, charts, and files, including a duplicate of the one that Skinner had given her prior to her accepting the double assignment.

Scully slid her nail across the blade of the butterfly knife that sat at her side and cleared her throat.

Mulder continued to stare at the screen.

“Mulder?”

No answer.

Trying to keep the irritation out of her voice, she tried again. “Mulder, if you are developing some sort of plan, I would like to know the details.”

“Yeah, Ill be with you in a minute, Scully.” Mulder said distractedly as he hit several buttons on the keyboard harder than necessary.

Scully placed her toast back on the saucer and stood, hearing the joints in her knees pop in restraint. She walked silently to the window, the temperature changing drastically as she was further away from the small furnace in the suite.

The snow continued to fall, turning Berlin into a beautiful, sad landscape, grey and white dueling with one another into an archaic, blanched portrait.

The snow blanketed the streets and rooftops alike, causing Scully to question what secrets could be hiding beneath it. She touched her fingertips to the fridged glass and fought the shiver that threatened to run through her body. Her other hand held tightly onto the engagement ring that rested at her breast, the glint of the chain reflecting in the gray morning sky.

It struck her as ironic, that this ring that had survived the Holocaust with Mulder’s grandmother now belonged to her and was again in Germany, fifty years later. She would have to ask of the relationship of Mulder’s grandparents. Hopefully it faired better than his parents’ scarred romance.

“Whatcha’ thinking about?” Mulder asked as his long arms slid around her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder as he looked out the window with her.

Scully turned sideways to smile at Mulder, catching their reflection in the glass and remembering again how truly beautiful they were together.

“Just wondering what comes next. And what I am going to tell Skinner.” she answered truthfully.

“Well, that, Agent Scully, is not something you need to concern yourself with at the moment. Skinner is not going to be interfering in this investigation for the time being.”

Scully turned in Mulder’s arms and stepped back, physically and mentally categorizing their personal life with their professional one. An auburn eyebrow peaked.

Mulder inhaled deeply and led Scully back over to the bed, her hand hanging limply in his.

“You were being sent to investigate and infiltrate a supposed smuggling/testing ring of possible germ warfare. Either Iranian or Russian in origin and the probable point of entry would have been the US Base Hospital in Berlin.”

Scully nodded in silent agreement.

“Well, what you would have found when you arrived at that hosptial facility is that there is nothing going on there but celluar testing and other approved tests. The bodies of the soldiers that you were sent to retrieve will not be at that facility. But, you would see enough, report back to the state department and you would seamlessly become Scully again, no longer Kate.”

Scully dropped her eyes in concentration. “How do you know what I would find in that hospital, Mulder?”

“Because of these.” Mulder said as he spread photographs from her file across the space between them. “These pictures of the supposed germ warfare… I have seen these before. These pictures weren’t taken recently, Scully. They were taken in

1942.”

Scully looked up at Mulder in disbelief, the black and white disfigurements glaring up at both of them. “Mulder, why would the State department send me to investigate 50 year old pictures and send me on a goose chase to do it?”

“That is the million dollar question, Scully. But, I do know that the bodies in these pictures are contained in a hopsital in Prague.” Mulder said as he reached for a map behind him.

“Why would they keep 50 year old bodies infected with a contagen?”

“Because the origin of the contagen isn’t terrestrial.”

Scully stayed stationary on the bed as Mulder reached for their duffle bag and began shoving things in the bag. “It’s only about a three hour drive to Prague, but it’s going to be chilly. I want you to bundle up.”

“What are we going to do?” Scully asked, the panic evident in her voice.

Mulder stopped stuffing the bag and stood quickly, pulling Scully to a standing position and into his arms. He placed a solid, sweet kiss to her forehead and wrapped his arms around her shoulders.

“You look sexy in black Scully, have a I ever told you that?” Mulder growled into her ear.

“Mulder. What are we going to do?” Scully asked in a low warning.

He pulled back and looked into her eyes seriously, bringing her knuckles to his lips briefly.

“Possibly, save the world.”

Chapter Twenty-One

Mulder licked his lips, only adding the dull burn that the wind chap was ravaging upon them. They had been driving for a little over an hour, trying to avoid the main interstate, which made for a bumpier, longer trip.

The “three hour” journey to Prague was easily turning into a five hour endeavor… and he was secretly hoping that Scully was too stunned to keep track.

Not likely, but a man can dream.

She had been taking all of this extremely well. Mulder had half expected to find himself hogtied with a six 6 heel in his ribs by this point. The thought that she so blindly trusted him brought a warming smile to his frozen lips.

Maybe this new aspect of their relationship, though they swore to keep it seperate from their work partnership, was giving him more perks than he had previously been aware of.

He knew Scully better than anyone and knew that her analytic mind was clicking and grinding after every little transaction that had befallen them since they arrived in Berlin. But, she was giving him the reigns, going blindly but wielding a gun to do it.

He just couldn’t let her down.

“You want to stop and stretch our legs a bit?” Mulder asked as he slowed the bike and fought the wave of nausea that assaulted him as he turned with his bad side. The bullet wound was extremely painful, but nothing that he hadn’t dealt with before.

He felt Scully nod her head against his back and decided to pull over on the back road they found theirselves on, the late afternoon sky casting a grey, green glow to the white landscape that surrounded them.

They were obviously in farmland, bordered by thick forests, so any vehicles that passed were certainly on their way to somewhere distinct. Mulder had been trying his best to avoid any toll roads or any heavily trafficked areas, just in case his plea to Skinner had fallen on deaf ears.

Skinner was giving them 72 hours to take this lead and if it didn’t pan out, Scully was to be back in DC immediately. He had never said where Mulder was to be. But, even Skinner had his limits of power and if the people above his head that had gotten Scully into this mess got wind of all of this, Mulder and Scully’s headshots could be at every police station in Europe.

Mulder had decided to keep this piece of information to himself.

He stopped the bike and waited for Scully to exit and then, gingerly followed suit. He glanced up at Scully as the sleet flittered into his face and smiled despite their quite desperate situation.

She was freezing. Her little black cap and little black gloves were covering as much of her face as possible. The North Face down coat that Frohike had sent swallowed her whole and made her look about 10 years younger.

“What are you smiling about?” she snapped. Cold Scully was a pissed Scully.

“Oh nothing.”

Scully just rolled her eyes and proceeded to walk a little ways down the snow covered road, taking in her surroundings and looking like a little black bear in the stark landscape.

Mulder headed in the opposite direction towards a grove of trees to relieve himself. “Ya know, Scully, if you have to do your business, I will be a gentleman.” he said over his shoulder.

He wasnt sure but he thought he heard “Shut up, Mulder” on the wind.

As he finished, he reached into their backpack for the energy bars he had “borrowed” from Bianca for their “Hiking trip”. Luckily she believed everything he and Scully told her, so if anyone would be poking around, she would be as truthful as possible.

Mulder found Scully leaning against the bike, teeth chattering.

“How much longer?” she asked, taking a bar with her gloved hand.

Mulder sighed and mimiciked her stance. “About three more hours, I would imagine. The weather and the round-about way we are gonig is making it a bit more “scenic” than I had initially thought.”

Scully just sighed in irritation.

“I want to be warm.” she murmmered, breaking Mulder’s heart in the process.

Mulder caught her eye and waggled his eyebrows at her suggestively.

Finally, she smiled and elbowed him in the arm.

“Very funny.”

“Well, I figure that the hospital may not even be open to visitors by the time we get there, so we can find a hostile or motel on the way and stay the night. We have a small window of time to get access to the bodies, so we need to be in top shape tomorrow.”

Scully just nodded. By this point, Mulder assumed, she was just buying into this nightmare as much as she could to keep her sanity in tact. It had been a surreal few days, even for their standards.

Mulder was used to flying by the seat of his pants, acting on hunches and brashly jumping into scenarios where no sane person would dare to go. But, he realized, having very little to go on and a very weak plan was a bit more harrowing when you had a travel mate.

He hoped Scully didn’t realize that either.

A man can dream.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Mulder emergered from the bathroom of their quaint hotel room, the floorboards creaking with every step. The building was archaic and drafty, but it had a bathroom, a bed, and a furnace, so they took it without thinking.

Mulder and Scully had arrived at the Czech boarder as night fell, and not feeling as sure of his motor bike skills in the pitch blackness of the German countryside, Mulder stopped them at the first lit motel they arrived at.

Scully seamlessly checked them in, using perfect German, and walked back to the bike with bright eyes and pink cheeks, one key for their room in her hand.

After a warm shower and a cup of soup, Mulder felt rejuivnated, the adrenaline from what they were stumbling upon pumping through his veins at a dizzying pace.

The question of “why?” was quietly tapping Mulder in the back of his consciousness, though the bullying impulse to “act” was easily beating it to a pulp. Any concern or precaution that the “why” would propose was not having very much success at the moment.

Mulder hung the damp towel on the rack of the room, running his fingers through his spikey, wet hair, and slid clean boxers on his long form. The warmth of the room made him relax instantly.

Scully was waiting on the bed, just as clean and twice as soft, her white tank and blue panties looking better than any ad Victoria’s Secret could concoct.

The items in her hands were much less appealing, however. Upon her insistance, the pair had walked to the nearby drugstore to get the necessary first aid supplies that she deemed as necessary and she sat holding scissors, gauze, and some green disinfectant that was making Mulder’s toes curl.

“You ready?” Scully asked, raising an eyebrow and sliding to rest on her knees.

“Scully, of all of the times I have dreamed of hearing you say that while looking like that… Do you have to use the disinfectant?” Mulder asked weakly as he began inching towards the bed.

“I’ll be gentle.” Scully promised as if she was talking to a three year old. She knew he didn’t have the stomach for medical procedures, even without a hole in his side.

“You could do this topless. That would make me feel SO much better.” Mulder said, seriously.

She remained quiet on the bed, her eyebrow the only movement.

“Fine.” Mulder sighed as he stretched out beside her.

Scully leaned over and placed a quick kiss to his temple. “Ill be quick.”

She got straight to work, cleaning and cutting, humming to herself and chewing on her lower lip. With minimal yelps and hisses from Mulder, he was cleaned and wrapped to her contentment. She leaned back on her heels, dipping into the mattress with her weight. “So are we going to discuss this plan for tomorrow?”

“Well, we can do that… Or….” Mulder sung, suggestively. He took the back of his hand and ran it lightly up Scully’s bare thigh. “You could remind me of much more pleasant things than 50 year old decrepit bodies.”

Scully smiled a small smile and lightly ran her fingertips across Mulder’s own.

“I feel like we should stay focused, Mulder.” Scully said seriously, though her body language begged to differ. As Mulder slid his index finger inside the elastic of her panties, he noticed her eyes closing and her lip being sucked between her teeth.

“Well, I say we relieve some tension in order to stay EXTREMELY focused.” Mulder said as gripped Scully’s wrist and pulled her body down on top of his. Scully landed with a muted “huff” and met Mulder’s eyes in a challenge.

“Well, we could go for a run…” She said playfully, raking her nails down Mulder’s bare sides cause goosebumps to cover his warm skin.

“It happens to be 15 degrees and pitch dark, Scully.” He liked Playful Scully.

“We could read.” She all but whispered as she purposefully let her hot, minty breath humidly roll across Mulder’s jaw.

Mulder was quiet for a moment, his obvious arousal and adrenaline from earlier making it hard for him to contribute to the banter.

“Uh… I didn’t bring a book.” Mulder was literally panting. He felt Scully shift slightly on the bed and noticed that she was beginning to make a grinding movement against his upper thigh.

“Well, damn.” She said with mock indignation. “What could we do?” She was all blue eyes and black pupils as she blinked slowly.

Mulder answered her question with a kiss, light at first, testing and tasting. But, quickly, the kiss turned heated and Scully was grabbing at the waistband of his boxers, freeing his straining erection as she placed open mouthed kisses down his torso.

As she began to drag her teeth over his pronounced hip bones, Mulder instinctually began to weave his fingers through her short, dark hair. She placed light kisses around his navel, rubbing her nose against the soft skin of his abdomen.

“Scully, that would be amazing, but I want to be inside of you.” Mulder silently high-fived himself for forming a complete thought.

“No, you are hurt. Let me do this.” She said as she looked at his eyes, the love and lust filling the space between them.

As she dipped her head, using the flat of her tongue to taste him, Scully hummed in contentment as she settled between his legs. She began to work him, easing into a solid rhythm, swirling her tongue and fixing him with a stare that almost sent him over the edge.

Yeah, Mulder thought. They could plan later.

Chapter Twenty-Three

“Scully? Are you awake?”

“Mmmmmm?”

“I just had a strange dream.”

“Go back to sleep, Mulder. It’s okay.”

He felt her warm hand pat the center of his chest in a comforting gesture as Scully turned around and backed into his side, causing him to instinctually curl around her body.

Mulder sighed deeply and tried to remember the dream that had his heart thudding in his ears and his palms wet and clammy. He rubbed his nose against Scully’s soft hair and reassessed the warm hotel bed that they found themselves in.

After their make-out session and Mulder’s mind-blowing orgasm, they had fallen asleep, sated and clean, easily slipping into a deep, motionless rest.

Since Mulder had begun having Scully as a permanent bed mate, his penchant for abhoring the night had diminished, coming to revel in dusk and twilight hours as their time.

But, tonight was different. His dream had been vivid and real. Foreboding, maybe? Mulder tried to close his eyes and will his shoulders to relax, but wasn’t able to still his body. Afraid of permanently waking Scully up, he untangled his limbs from her’s and slipped out of the sheets, reaching for a pair of jeans and his long-sleeved t-shirt.

Something wasn’t right.

He turned on the small desk lamp, which cast long dark shadows across the hotel room, causing Mulder to squint and blink in the new light. He decided to reflect some more on the case and began to get the laptop out of their backpack.

But, something on the bed caught his eye.

Scully was completely still.

While his mind still reeled from the faceless nightmare he had just awoken from, he took two large steps to the form in the bed, arms outstretched.

“Scully?” he whispered before he touched her. The shape under the sheets looked wrong. Skewed somehow.

“Scully?” he said louder as his hand gripped her shoulder, pulling her body to her back in the bed. When his fingers touched her skin, he began to poke through the tissue there, as if she were made out of paper mache’.

When she was fully turned, Mulder stepped back from the bed, vomit finding its way up his throat and onto the floor beside them.

All he saw in front of him was a body, face eaten away and skin, paper thin and crackling. Teeth exposed, empty eye sockets, dried blood where the cartlidge of her nose should have been. Her engagement ring laid at the hollow of her throat, the skin there scratched and torn away, self-inflicted, the rotted muscles exposed beneath.

Mulder stammered backwards, gripping for the desk behind him, his eyes never leaving his love laying in the last place he had seen her alive. He swiped the moisture from his eyes, his jaw still slack in shock, drying vomit on his shirt.

He reached for the case file, containing the pictures of the bodies in Prague.

He forced his eyes away from Scully’s body, dragging them to the photographs that had haunted their lives since they arrived in Germany.

Scully’s corpse was an exact copy.

Chapter Twenty-Four

A sharp blow to her solar plexus woke Scully up with a jolt and a cough, causing her to gasp air into her lungs and her hands to instinctually grapple for something solid.

She stilled for a moment, listening, but the whimpering and murmmuring from behind her put her on all alert as she turned in the sheets to find Mulder, sweating and struggling, fighting with the thin sheets and thrashing his head back and forth forcefully.

Scully sprung into action, trying to externally calm Mulder without fully waking him, reaching for his arms and maneuvering her body down beside his, avoiding his right hook, so that she could talk directly into his ear.

“Mulder, you need to come back to me. It’s only a dream.” she quietly repeated as she stroked his face, the sweat permeating onto her skin as well. Mulder’s night terrors were a frequent, unwelcome guest in their bed, but this one had a much more deliberate hold on Mulder’s consciousness which deeply troubled Scully.

In a broken, half-sob, half-whimper, Mulder began to chant her name over and over, the anguish on his face in the moonlit room apparent. It was slowly breaking her heart.

“Mulder, you have to wake up.” she said with more assertion, hoping she was getting through to him somehow.

Finally, she felt his body go limp, his head slumping against her’s, his arms falling by his sides.

Scully pulled away from him and wiped at her wet face. What she had mistaken for pure sweat was actually tears.

Mulder had been crying.

Scully swallowed a sob and reached down to cover their naked forms with the covers that had been kicked down to the end of the bed. Her heart ached with the sight of Mulder in the throes of one of these fits. That horrors so real and so close had so constantly infiltrated this beautiful, good man’s life.

Scully laid down on her pillow facing Mulder, watching his chest rise and fall at a normal pace, a small smile coming to her lips as she watched him.

She loved him.

More than any one she had ever encountered or thought she could care for. If her faith in God had ever been questioned, the fact that she had found her perfect match, the one made for her, was proof enough in His existance.

As she felt sleep start to reclaim her, she felt Mulder shift from his back so that he was facing her. His eyes slowly drifted open and a half smirk found it’s way to his mouth.

He reached one hand out and pushed a strand of wayward hair behind her ear, causing tears to prickle her eyes and her swallowing hard at the sweetness of the gesture.

“You okay?” he whispered as he trailed his fingertips down her jawline, swiping his thumb over her full lower lip.

She chuckled, despite their situation at the absurdity of his honest question. Leave it to Mulder to check on her after having a nightmare that almost sent him into cardiac arrest.

“I’m fine.” she whispered, snaking her hand up to rest on the hand that stayed cupping her chin. The moonlight and it’s reflection on the snow lit their small room in a safe, sweet glow, providing almost as much light as the desk lamp that sat a few feet away.

Mulder shifted up on his elbow and scooted towards Scully, his dark eyes never leaving her’s, and he leaned down to kiss her solidly, his lips slowly moving back and forth over hers, his teeth nipping and tugging slightly.

Scully felt her body respond instantly as she deepened the kiss, their tongues meeting in a languid, slow embrace.

“I love you.” he whispered as he broke for air, resting his forehead against her’s as he positioned his body over her’s, wincing as his side protested his intentions.

She leaned up to capture his lips again, reveling at the feeling of his warm body looming over her’s.

“I love you, too.” she whispered, her eyes piercing into his with seriousness and solidarity. Mulder’s obvious arousal was resting against her thigh and as she shifted her legs, he slowly slid into her slick walls, a labored gasp escaping his lungs at the sensation. Scully’s eyes slipped closed when he filled her, the stretching and pain completely intoxicating.

Mulder went to rest his forehead against her shoulder as he slowly began to move inside of her, agonizingly slow, feeling her internally grip him as he pulled out and pushed back in.

Mulder drug his head from her shoulder down to her right breast, taking a hardened nipple between his lips, no teeth, just sucking and licking, his hips beginning to move faster at her apex. Her fingers slid into his hair as Mulder continued to move his mouth over her skin, his growling and panting only causing her to flush with wetness over and over again.

Scully felt her own climax start to build, a slow burn in her belly, causing her back to arch into his mouth and Mulder’s name start become a mantra on her lips.

Mulder felt her body start to tense and began to move faster, reading each of her moans and movements like a familiar road map. The sounds of their lovemaking was assaulting all of his senses and he felt his orgasm building at a dizzying rate.

“Come, Scully. Pleassse..” Mulder hissed into her ear after releasing her nipple with an audible pop, only adding to the soundscape their movements were creating.

Mulder pushed her head to the side, using his own forehead, and assaulted her neck, Scully dragging her nails down his back with a bit more force as she began to slip over the edge, her movements slowing, her back creating a perfect arch. Mulder took both of his large hands and held onto her waist as she came, moaning and shaking as the orgasm rocked her core.

Not being able to hold off anymore, Mulder began to pump into her without rhythm as Scully limply fell back to the bed in a sated, flushed heap, her arms sliding up his as he teetered over her. She raked her nails at the base of his head and caught his eye, smiling a lazy, knowing smile with deep blue eyes.

Before Mulder could smile back, his orgasm struck him, a loud bellow escaping his lips as he barked into her ear, resting his head in the crook of her neck as he continued to work her, riding out his climax.

As his movements slowed, Mulder began to register Scully lightly drawing designs into his back and his consciousness starting to take control again.

Scully turned her head sideways and kissed him on his forehead, one of her hands dragging her fingers through his damp hair.

“And that’s with me wounded.” Mulder said with a smirk. He rolled from on top of Scully and pulled her with him, snuggling her at his side as he settled back into his pillow.

His chuckle was the last thing she heard before she drifted back to sleep.

Chapter Twenty-Five

Scully continued to bounce on her toes, hoping to force the blood to churn throughout her body as she stood outside of the lone filling station. The snow was falling heavily now and the inside provided little respite from the freezing temperatures.

“I think my pee came out frozen.” Mulder choffed as he bounded off of the sidewalk towards Scully, a black dot on the white landscape.

“I think that classifies as too much information.” She said quickly, ducking her lips out of her scarf for literally the length of time she needed to spit the words out.

They were waiting to meet their hospital “contact” at the station, the scary dracularian hospital looming in the gray distance of the landscape. If the temperatures weren’t enough to cause shivers to dance down Scully’s spine, the fortress that spread out before them would certainly do the trick.

“You know, at least standing in the store would keep you out of the wetness.” Mulder said half-heartedly as he nodded toward the dank building, the stoner behind the counter bundled tighter than the agents in the parking lot.

Scully just raised her eyebrows in question.

Their motorcycle crossed into Czech territory directly after 8am, the knot that formed in Scully’s stomach as they reached the boarder’s patrol guards becoming palpable. But, as Mulder did not hesitate to point out, their passports were a breeze and they were granted instant access.

Though she refused to admit it to Mulder, the fact that they weren’t shackeled in a Czech prison yet did not do much to settle her nerves.

“When is your contact showing, Mulder?” she whined for the tenth time.

Mulder cut his eyes at her in slight annoyance as he fumbled with a sunflower seed with his bubbled, gloved right hand. He may love her with his entire being, but he could no more control the temperature than she could and it wasn’t exactly like he vacationed in the north of Germany often.

Just as he began to speak, headlights broke through the murky grey blanket and a diesel engine made it’s prescence known. Mulder slid her a quick smile as he walked to the edge of the gas station lot to get a better look at the first passers by since they arrived at the station over an hour ago.

The headlights belonged to a navy Bronco, obviously imported and was followed by a shiny, much newer red diesel hauling truck. Both trucks filed into the parking lot and SCully began to make her way to Mulder’s side, her gloved hand sliding underneath her North Face to the butt of the .357 Magnum at her waist.

She made quick eye contact with Mulder and with a slight nod, he told her to keep her distance… to cover him in case this went wrong in any way.

The wind continued to howl around them, that white noise that accompanied snow drifts causing Scully to hear nothing. She saw a tall, well built younger man jump out of the diesel truck, straight into the snow and saw a slighter figure slide out of the driver’s side of the Bronco.

Mulder walked out of her line of sight, towards the side of the Bronco and heard some laughs and talking over the wind.

Scully started to edge towards the vehciles, Mulder’s name on her lips when he popped back out from behind the truck looking for her.

“Come on, Scully. It’s fine.” he yelled, holding his hand out to her in invitation.

As she rounded the huge grate of the Bronco, her stomach dropped and her eyes widened. Mulder was strongly and warmly hugging a tall, thin, young brunette in perfect snow bunny attire.

Scully instantly felt like a gummy bear in earmuffs.

“Scully! This is Ava and Brian!” Mulder said with jubilation as he released the female and pulled the man from the diesel truck into an embrace.

Scully watched the exchange and smiled self-consciously, her hand still resting on her gun. She noted the warm hug shared by the two men.. and how Ava’s eyes drifted lazily over Mulder’s backside as he strode away.

‘Super.’ Scully thought as she went to shove her hands back into her down pockets.

Ava caught Scully’s eyes as she drug them away from Mulder’s form, the two women locking gazes for the briefest of moments. Scully, refusing to feel inferior to this statuesque female with an obvious link to Mulder, she held Ava’s gaze a little longer than necessary and quirked an eyebrow in question.

Ava looked down first.

Scully didn’t even realize Mulder had walked back over to her until she felt his breath puffing onto her frozen ear and his arm around her down covered back.

“Brian has a loft about two kilometers from the hospital. We can go there and defrost, get prepped for showtime.” Mulder half spoke, half yelled into her ear over the wind.

Scully nodded to him, trying to catch his eye, to run the currents of information that supported their entire communication system, but he was already heading back to Brian, loudly talking and laughing as if with a brother or old friend.

“Ava, you women lead the way.” Brian yelled as he motioned to the two trucks and patted Mulder towards his red truck. Ava nodded and eyed Scully again as she turned to hop back into the driver’s seat of the Bronco.

“See ya in a minute.” Mulder said as he squeezed her arm. Scully caught his hand as he headed away from her. “Mulder? We are seperating?” Scully asked, panic evident in her voice.

“Scully….” Mulder whined. “It’s dieselll.” he finished like it was the most obvious thing in the world. He raised his eyebrows in silent question as she tried to search his expression for some kind of reassurance.

She released his hand as he bounded over to the truck to climb up. She was still standing in the headlights of the Bronco as she watched the red truck swerve around to retrieve Mulder’s BMW speed bike from the parking space near the store.

A quick “Beep” brought her out of her reviere as Scully realized Ava was waiting on her before she could leave.

Scully sprang to motion and made her way to the passenger side of the lifted truck, squashing the brief embarassement she felt flitter into her stomach at her having to hop in order to reach the floorboard.

As she slammed the door shut, the heat blasting in the cab made her smile slightly and exhale finally.

“So, how long you have you been dating Fox?” Ava’s clipped british accent filtered into the silent truck.

The accent, the accusation and the use of Mulder’s name sent Scully into overdrive, causing her to sit up a little staighter and her eyes to narrow in challenge.

‘Bring it on.” Scully thought.

Chapter Twenty-Six

Scully sat in silence, her mind mulling over Ava’s quick, pointed question.

“Well… ” She began before she realized that she was not sure how much about their real lives that this woman knew.

“I mean,” Ava continued, “You aren’t exactly Fox’s type is all.”

Scully cut her eyes sideways at the woman beside her, noting her long thin legs in too-tight leggings and her straight brown hair that was finally free of her snow-cap.

Scully knew she was being bated but had know idea which direction to take this, the case being the delicate string between them.

So she remained quiet, averting her eyes out the window to the solid white landscape.

Ava glanced at Scully and decideding better of it, remained quiet as well, the ride descending in silence as they made their way into the small town inside of the boarder.

They passed the grand entrance to the hospital that she and Mulder were about to infiltrate, it’s entrance looking more like a military prison than a hopsital.

Almost as quickly as they had started, the Bronco pulled into a small parking space outside of a suprisingly modern building, lights on throughout the space.

Ava killed the engine and the two women sat in silence for several beats before Scully cleared her throat to speak.

“Mulder’s “type” hasn’t worked out too well for him in the past, so he’s trying something different.” Scully said sharply as she craned the door open and slid onto the frozen pavement.

Mulder was already striding towards her across the parking lot, the red truck being decompressed behind him by Brian. He picked up on her nervousness instantly.

“Everything okay?” he asked as he fell into step beside her, his hand resting at the small of Scully’s back as they walked.

Scully swallowed hard and glanced up at him, forcing a smile to her lips.

“Fine.” she said quietly as they made their way to the entrance of the building, falling behind Ava as she fiddled with the keys to the entrance.

While Ava’s back was still turned towards them, Mulder dipped down and placed a warm, but lingering kiss onto Scully’s cheek bone as she stood beside him, causing heat to filter throughout her entire body and a smile to find its way to her lips.

She squeezed his closest hand and fixed him with a determined stare. It was amazing that he knew exactly what she needed when she needed it… before she even knew.

The pair followed Ava up the elevators with Brian bringing up the rear as they made their way to their loft, small but expensive. Scully fought a sob of happiness when she caught herself even mesmerized with Ava’s fit form in her snow outfit but found Mulder’s gaze was fixed on the finer points of architecture in the historic building.

Yet another piece of armor sliding into place…

“Check this out Scully. The building still uses the original heating system from the 20’s” Mulder said in awe as he pointed at the metal piping that sat above their heads.

Scully smiled and raised her eyebrows in interest.

“Yeah, that is cool until the furnace cuts off and its 20 below.” Brian piped up from behind them, his southern accent and obvious good humor helping Scully like him instantly.

The group arrived at the loft and entered, Scully’s jaw dropping instantly in appreciation and awe. The upscale loft was meticulously designed, modern minimalist furniture in every corner, but a warmth eminating from the rich woods and exposed brick walls. Framed photographs covered the high walls and track lighting illuminated filled bookshelves and speciman jars.

Ava conitinued to make her way through the apartment, disappearing around a corner, causing Scully’s dislike for her to notch up yet again.

“I do not believe we have been formally introduced.” Brian said,in perfect gentile fashion, as he extended his hand for Scully’sand bent to kiss the newly exposed skin from her gloveless hands.

“Oh! Sorry, my mistake.” Mulder said, stepping into Scully and throwing a protective arm over Scully’s shoulders. “This is my partner Dana. Dana, this is my good friend from Oxford, Brian Watson.”

“Good friend? Ouch, Man.” Brian scoffed, feigning hurt with his fist in his chest. “I, my dear, am the entire reason Fox Mulder ever even graduated from Oxford University and survived seven boughts…yes, seven boughts of alcohol poisoning.” Brian said, his wide, perfect smile causing a faint blush to creep onto her cheeks.

She felt Mulder watching her, ducking her face to hide the blush that was running rampant over her fair skin. Scully chanced a glance up and met Mulder’s wide, questioning eyes and winked at him quickly as she turned back towards to Brian.

“Well, Scully’s got you beat, there Bri. Seven boughts of alcohol poisoning are nothing compared to what she has saved me from.”Mulder laughed as he began to unzip his coat, the others following suit.

“What is she, a doctor or something?” Ava asked as she slithered back into the den, her eyes fixating on Mulder and choosing to leave Scully out of her gaze, bouncing between Brian and Mulder.

“Yeah, actually she is. She is a brilliant, kick-ass doctor.”Mulder stated easily, his face beaming with pride as he met Ava’s stare.

“Thanks, Mulder.” Scully mumbled, suddenly feeling like she was in the middle of a battle she hadn’t asked to be in.

Ava raised her eyebrows in mock impression and settled on a far couch, tucking her legs beneath her and reaching for a magazine.

Scully looked up at Mulder, the obvious question hanging between them, but he gave a quick shake of his head and turned back to Brian.

They’d talk about it later.

“So, we need to get you two briefed and ‘doctored’ up, pardon the coloquism.” Brian said as he shot a look of disdain toward Ava and made his way past the den into the modern, stainless steel kitchen. Brian got busy setting up the coffee pot as Mulder and Scully took a seat at the marble island.

“We really just need to make sure Scully can get in and out without being detected.” Mulder stated as he picked up a cracker that Brian laid out.

“Well, I don’t see why that would be a problem. Her being a doctor will definitely help that. There are a lot of English speaking doctors and with a smile like that….She’ll be fine.” Brian finished as he turned to busy with the coffee.

Mulder rolled his eyes and smiled at Scully, reaching to squeeze her knee underneath the counter.

“I figure we can just run the operation and then you guys can stay here over night and get moving in the morning, depending on what you find.”

“Oh no, Brian. Thank you very much, but I am sure we can find somewhere to stay.” Scully gushed, without thinking. Spending the night with an obvious old flame of Mulder’s was not exactly going to be comfortable accomidations.

“Nonscence. Plus, it’s skiing season, so the nicer hotels are booked.”Brian said as he brushed her off. I am assuming you would only need one bed, correct?”

Scully ducked her eyes as she heard Mulder clear his throat. “Yeah, Smart Ass. One bed is fine.” he answered with dexterity.

“I take it you two haven’t been together long, huh?” Brian asked as he leaned on the counter and gazed at the couple before him. Scully looked to Mulder for guidance but he made a “after you” gesture with his hand and proceeded to rub his eyes with his hands.

“We have been friends and partners for about seven years, but as far as together, together? No, not long.” Scully supplied.

“Well, you seem to have gotten quite the catch, Buddy.” Brian smiled genuinely at Mulder.

“Yeah, she even agreed to marry me.” Mulder said strongly, the smile evident in his voice, causing a jaw splitting grin to break out across Scully’s face as well.

“Wow! Man, that’s great! We deserve a toast!” Brian cheered as he turned towards the wine fridge and began searching through the different vintages.

“What deserves a toast?” Ava asked blandly as she sauntered past Mulder to stand beside Brian.

“Dana and Fox are tying the knot! The man that swore he’d never marry…” Brian said, never looking up from his task with the wine.

Ava’s face soured even more than before, if that was possible, and finally Scully had just about had it.

“Do you have a washroom? I refused to use the facilites at the truck stop.” Scully piped up, sliding off of her stool, feeling a little more in control than before, now that she and Mulder’s relationship was out in the open.

“Sure, down the hall, to the left.” Ava said, her eyes narrowing as she directed it to Scully.

She was going to find out what the hell this Ava’s problem was before she went undercover at the hospital. She couldn’t worry about this while her mind was supposed to focused on being someone else.

Scully slipped into the the washroom and clicked the door shut and rested her hands around the rim of the sink. Taking several deep breaths she turned the water on and splashed some drops on her chapped face and lips when she heard a soft knock at the door.

Mulder’s head ducked around the corner and apology was in his eyes. “I was taking a gamble that you were decent.” he said with a smile as he squeezed into the small bathroom space.

“What are you doing?” Scully asked as she eyed him warily.

“This.” he said as he slid his hands up the sides of her neck and leaned in for a slow, smoldering kiss, his tongue sliding into her’s causing her knees to feel weak.

When they broke for air, Scully looked up into his eyes and smiled.

“What was that for?” she asked as she slid her arms around his waist and rested her head on his warm chest.

“I just dont know when I’ll get a chance to do that again. And I’m sorry about Ava. She’s a little bitter.”

“Old flame?” Scully ask, wincing at the bitterness in her own voice.

“Ah, Scully. I guess. I was actually a bit more involved with her sister than her, though we went out a few times. Her twin sister and I dated a bit back in college and then Brian went to the CIA, I went to the FBI, Ava went to Interpol and her sister went off the deep end.” Mulder explained as he tried to knead the tense muscles of Scully’s back as she slid her hands in the back pockets of his black jeans.

“Twin sister.” Scully repeated, realization dawning on her at Ava’s apparent dislike of Scully’s “look”. She was the jilted sister, Mulder was the one that “got away”, it would appear, and everyone moved on except for the sister.

“What are the odds that they were our contacts?” Mulder laughed as he pulled back, following strands of Scully’s staticy hair behind her ears. “Brian met the Gunmen after I got the X-files. I guess they had kept up with each other.”

Scully stilled Mulder’s hands by placing her hands on his wrists.

“Do you trust them?”

Mulder was quiet for a moment.

“If the guys trust them, then I have to, Scully. Ava is harmless and Brian is one of the most brilliant IT guys in the world. He can outhack Langley.”

“Well, then I guess we need to go get ‘doctored up’.” Scully said, trying to raise up to nuzzle Mulder’s warm neck.

“I wouldn’t mind doctoring up right here.” Mulder said as he began to back her into the sink, his hands encircling her waist and his fingers slipping into the waistband of her jeans.

“Mulder…” Scully said, a warning purr coming from somewhere deep in her throat. Mulder pressed his hips forcefully into her, leaning down to where his lips were a breath from her’s.

“We’ll be quiet.” he whispered, his eyes fixated on her elevated breathing and the rise of her chest.

“Mulder, we can’t. They are right outside…” she tried to protest and push past him, but he caught her around the waist and spun her so that she was facing the sink and the mirror, the image of a lust-filled Mulder and a pink cheeked Scully staring back at her.

“We will be quiet.” he repeated, his eyes watching her in the mirror, his lips wrapping around the shell of her ear.

Mulder slipped his fingers into the button of her jeans, her gaze falling to his hands at her hips.

“No, no. You watch the mirror.” Mulder growled as he ran hands up her ribcage, outside of her sweater. Scully began breathing faster, her pulse threading into her ears. “Do you see what you do to me, SCully? Do you see?” Scully felt her eyes slipping closed but instantly felt his hands still on her body.

“You are supposed to be watching the mirror.” Mulder said finally. She drug her eyes back open and locked eyes with him through the glass.

“Do you see how being in a small room with you for 30 seconds turns me into an animal, Scully? Do you realize how many times I have been THIS close to you in seven years and havent been able to do anything about it?” he asked into her neck, his hands sliding underneath her sweater, his short nails gliding down her ribcage and sending goosebumps all over her stomach.

A groan escaped her lips before she could consciously stop it and her hips reflexively grinding against his.

“We have to be quiet.” she said, her eyes and Mulder’s transfixed in the mirror.

Mulder replied with a grunt as he slid her jeans over her ass and began to press into her ass, his fingers sliding along the elastic of her panties. Scully braced herself against the sink more foreceully and looked behind her causing a hitch to rise in Mulder’s throat.

“Hey, Mulder. We gotta get a move on. Daylights’ burnin’!” Brian called through the door with a quiet tap.

Scully snatched up her jeans and Mulder situated himself as easily as he could.

“Yeah, Brian. Be right out.”

Chapter Twenty-Seven

“You are here for a consult?”

Scully swallowed hard.

“Yes, I am meeting with Dr. Jenson at 2:00pm. Research and development.”

“Please wait here.” the security guard replied as he leaned back and picked up a phone in the gatehouse. Scully recognized the guard speaking German on the phone, only ratcheting her anxiety.

Scully quickly looked behind her and flicked the laminated badge that hung around her neck as it stuck out of her coat. There must be some Newtonian law that undercover assignments could not happen in the Spring. The freezing temperatures were only adding to Scully’s nerves and she wasn’t sure she would ever be completely warm again.

“You are on the list. Go through the front double doors, third floor, Dr. Pelham. Welcome to Krizikova.” the guard replied quickly, his eyes remaining on the control panel in front of him.

Scully nodded curtly and proceeded to push the Bronco up the ramp into the parking area. She blew out a puff nervous air as she slid into a space and sat in the warm cabin for several moments before she screwed up enough courage to even leave the security of the truck.

Scully felt the vibration against her pants pocket and slipped the cell out and placed it to her ear, hoping she would look inconspicuous as she entered the fortress.

“How’s it going?” Mulder breathed into the phone.

Scully smiled, despite the situation. “I’m not going to be able to answer the phone every five minutes.”

“I know, just wanted to make sure you got through.” he said quickly. Scully heard Brian yell “Of course, she got through!” in the background.

“Yeah, Im heading to the elevators now. I will get a clearance card and snap the pictures we need and head back. I’m going to need some tissue samples, Mulder.” Scully huffed into the phone, keeping her eyes as un focused as possible.

“Well, hopefully the clearance card will grant us access tonight. Brian is still working out the kinks.”

“Dr. Pelham, I presume?” a thick slovian accent bellowed behind Scully as she waited at the elevators. Scully spun and came face to face with a squaty, round man, his silver glasses catching the light in the marble atrium.

“Dr. Jenson?” Scully asked, extended her right hand in greeting and sliding her cell phone in her pocket with her left.

“Yes, my dear! I was so glad to hear the university was sending over some fresh eyes! We are so short staffed because of the weather!” he replied warmly, his beefy hands clasping Scully’s small one. “You must be freezing! You would think we kept the bodies down here! Please, after you.” he gestured to the dinging elevator door and followed her into the car.

“Dr. Jenson, I am afraid I have been sent with very little background information, since I was sent as a replacement. I know that it is an honor to work with you. I have read a great deal of your research with the carcinoma studies.” Scully said sincerely as she followed the man down a long corridor.

As they arrived at two glass sliding doors, the age and stoicism of the building transformed into a state-of-the-art laboratory. Dr. Jenson slid a lead card into a key slide and a green light flashed, causing the glass doors to slide open with a “hush”.

“Well, the flattery is wonderful but there are a team of wonderful doctors that deserves it as well.” he said sincerely as he picked up a clip board and passed it back to Scully.

“Dr. Pelham, we will be mainly taking samples from subjects that have been returned from war-torn areas, mostly African nations, and run vaccine tests. That is pretty standard procedure, yes?”

Scully glanced down at the clipboard in her hands and shucked her down coat. She adjusted her lab coat and glanced up at Dr. Jenson. “Piece of cake.” she replied quickly, a smile on her lips.

“Ha! You Americans and your sayings. As long as it is easy for you, it can be a piece of anything you want! I will be in my office if you need me. The other students should arrive shortly.” he said as he began to disappear down a darkened corridor.

“Thanks.” she said as she went to sit on a stool at a long, dimly lit table.

“Oh! I almost forgot. Dr. Pelham, just use my key card to get to the storage room down the hall. But, you will have to make sure you stay on the schedule and avoid the far door on the right. My card will not work for that door… you have to have security clearance for that room.”

Scully nodded quietly. “What is held in that room?”

“Of course you would be curious! If I say dont look, you’ll want to look! There are classified projects, nothing to concern yourself with.” he said, continuing down the hallway. “Enjoy your day!”

Scully’s eyes followed him down the hallway and smiled as he looked back before he slipped into another glass door.

She proceeded to look on the sample log that she held in her hands and made the simple decision to get her hands on some tissue and familiarize herself with the layout of the lab. She wasn’t going to get anywhere she wasn’t supposed to be while Jenson was buzzing around.

Scully looked around the room and leaned back to make sure that Jenson was safely tucked into his office. Feeling as secure as she could in the situation, Scully took a deep cleansing breath and slid the low profile camera out of her lab coat pocket. She powered on the device and made sure that the flash was not operating.

She casually began to walk around the room, keeping the camera hip high and snapping shots of the entrance, file cabinents, cameras, computers…everything that Brian need to be able to see in order to disarm the system that secured the facility after hours.

She leaned into the computer bay, touching several mouses so that the screens would come to life, showing a passcode screen bearing the Krizikova emblem. A few clicks later, several usable shots, and she found herself staring down the hallway that Jenson had flitted down. She moved down the hall, her camera clicking the entire way, the clicks sounding louder in the silent, charged environment.

She snapped Jenson’s office door, several other accessable closets and storage rooms. Finally, she arrived at the final two doors at the end of the corridor. To the right, a glass bay bearing the same Krizikova emblem, a key card slide sitting at it’s side.

The door to the left, however, was completely different. It was a heavy steel door, a complex key pad jutting out from the embuttment on the wall. Scully snapped a few close-up pictures of the ‘forbidden’ key-pads and, what she assumed, was a hand scanner.

“Can I help you?”

Scully’s breath caught in her throat and her body froze at the voice, her back the only thing protecting her camera from the intruder. As she spun, she slid the camera back into her pocket as she met the dark, black eyes of a woman in a lab-coat with a serious, questioning look on her face.

“Um, yeah. I was just looking around.” Scully lied, extending her hand as much as it was a distraction as it was automatic. “I am Dr. Pelham, from Berlin. I am filling in for research samples for Dr. Jenson.”

The two women stared at each other for several beats, each slowly gracing into their own smiles.

“Oh! My apologies! That is fine. He tends to throw the new ones to the wolves before they even know where the bathroom is.” the girl said, a wide smile that lit up her eyes on her face. Her voice was a rich caramel of Arabic tones and her thick, rich hair made Scully, for not the first time that day, regret being a redhead.

“Yeah, I am not exactly sure how I am going to even get into the computer system to log my findings.” Scully said, giggling and relaxing instantly.

“No problem, Dr. Pelham. I am Paloma, Dr. Jenson’s lead assistant. I will go put my things down and I can get you access to everything you need.” she said, squeezing Scully’s shoulder and disappearing back into the main research bay.

Scully smiled genuinely and followed Paloma down the hallway, electricity and adrenaline pumping through her veins.

Bingo.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

The hot water beat a welcomed stacco on Scully’s tense shoulders, slowly replacing the drumming in her head. She just stood underneath the spray, letting the warmth envelope her body and the steam permeate her senses.

While she would have preferred a bath in her own, perfectly Dana-fied bathtub, this was a close second, the first-class rain-like showerhead making her feel like she was at a spa rather than the loft of a rogue CIA operative and an ex-girlfriend of Mulder’s.

Ugh.

The entire cloud of uncomfortability surrounding Ava and her obvious problem with she and Mulder was really starting to wear on her nerves and she had only been submerged into it for a mere 12 hours. She wasn’t intimidated by Ava… Scully just didn’t like her.

“One more day…” Scully sighed to herself as she moved her head to the side, giving the junction of her shoulder and neck full access to the spray.

“One more day for what?” Mulder asked as he placed an open mouth kiss on the tendons of her shoulder, sliding his arms around her waist.

“What took you so long?” she asked, melting back into his body so that they were both under the spray.

“Brian was needing a refresher course on the finer points of basting a roast.” Mulder said between kisses, his hands pooling water against Scully’s stomach.

She paused and looked at him over her shoulder with a smirk.

“And he asked you?”

“Ha ha. There are a lot of things I know how to do that would surprise you. I am not just an amazing detective with a penchant for the unimaginable.”

“Oh, I know that.” she purred as she turned into his arms, smiling up at him with bright eyes.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. You are amazing at darts.” she said as she placed a kiss on his sternum.

“Umm hmm.”

“And you have impeccable taste in women… as of late.” she continued, sliding the palms of her hands over Mulder’s protruding hipbones and round to the slope of his ass.

“I concur.” Mulder said slowly, a smile finding it’s way to his mouth.

“And you are the most genuine, brilliant, amazing man that I have ever met.”

Mulder realized her hands had slowed and it caused him to look down at her. He locked eyes with her and brought her knuckles to his lips slowly and seriously.

“That is all because of you.” he said simply.

She smiled at him and ducked her head, the steam and flush in her cheeks causing a blush to break out over her freckled shoulders.

Scully turned back towards the spray, picking up a bar of soap and sudsing it in the water. “So do you think Brian will be able to use any of the pictures?” she asked casually, as she began to run the soap up one arm and down the other, Mulder lightly wrapping his arms around her waist again.

“Yeah, he was pretty impressed, actually. You did a really good job today… not that I am the least bit surprised.” Mulder said with his chin on her shoulder.

“Thanks.” she beamed, rubbing the bar of soap over his overlapped arms as well. “That Paloma made everything a pretty textbook… she gave me everything except for that damn code to the last door. I know that is where we need to be, Mulder.”

“Yeah, I think so too but we need to keep as low of a profile as possible, especially with Skinner barely keeping the state department off of your ass. I want to make sure we make sense of all of this quickly and as cleanly as possible.”

“Fox Mulder conduct a clean investigation? Never!” Scully giggled, feighing shock.

“Okay, Smart Ass. Enough talking about the case.” he said as he spun her again in his arms. “Actually, enough talking period.”

Mulder pushed her body back against his, causing her arms to fall around his shoulders and a chuckle to erupt from her chest. She leaned her face up, slipped her eyes closed and prepped for a kiss and cracked her eyes when she didn’t receive one.

“What?” she asked, all innocence and question.

“I love you, Scully.” he replied, a suspicious gruffness in his voice. “I know I say that a lot, but I just feel like we lost so much time… I hate that.”

“Everything happens for a reason, Mulder.” she replied after a few moments. “You taught me that. I tried for so long to make sense of Missy and Emily and everything … but you taught me that everything has a place and a time.” She paused and pushed his chin up, mimicking his familiar gesture, so that his eyes met hers.

“I wouldn’t change a thing, Mulder.” she said solemnly.

“Really?” he whispered, his eyes watering at the forced use of his voice.

“If it means that I would end up in this shower in the Czech Republic in the dead of winter with you, then no, Mulder. I wouldn’t.”

Mulder mouthed a ‘thank you’ as he leaned in to capture her lips and lightly pressed her against the cool stone of the oversized shower. He hungrily started kissing her mouth, dragging his teeth down her chin as he reached his hands to her thighs to hoist her up, using the shower wall as leverage.

Scully took the hint and pivoted her self up, using his shoulders as the water continued to pound Mulder’s back. He slid his forearms underneath her ass and nuzzled her nose. Having her verticle and eye level was a new sensation and he was going to savor the moment.

At this angle, Mulder was able to position himself directly at her opening, using all of his strength to not plunge into her without thinking.

“I think there is something about undercover work that turns you on, Mulder…” Scully said as she arched into his chest, his name coming out as a groan.

“Oh Scully… it’s very sexy. The guns, the danger, pretending to be other people…” Mulder paused as as he slid inside of her, filling her completely and using her weight to let her slide all the way down his shaft.

Both groaned at the contact.

“I do wish your hair was red though. I miss that.” he said, each of his words moving with his hips.

“I wish we were in America.” Scully said as she began to dig her nails into his shoulders, feeling his thrusts pick up in pace and strength.

“Soon enough, Baby.”

“I can’t wait for you to fuck me in my bed, Mulder. I love waking up to you in my room.” Scully purred, digging her heels into his lower back as she felt her orgasm start to burn in her apex.

“God, Scully. Say ‘fuck’ again.” Mulder growled into her ear.

“Mmmmm, Mulder. Fuck me, pleeeease.” she said in a solid alto, her head nudging his ear closer to her lips.

Mulder began to jaggedly pound into her, readjusting his grip on her ass so that she would move more fluidly. His reaction was enough to push her over the edge, pulling him with her shortly after she rode the waves, the wetness becoming apparent between them.

Mulder groaned again and released her legs, letting her feet hit the wet floor with a “smack”.

“Jesus, Woman. I am going to need to start working out regularly.” Mulder huffed, still resting his head against the cool shower as Scully kissed his forehead and stepped back into the spray to finish her shower.

“We could always back off, if that would help. I mean, I am your doctor.” Scully said, her focus obviously on her shampoo.

“I’ll take my chances.” he said with a smile, while swatting her on the ass as he exited the shower.

“I’ll be done in a minute.” Scully said absently.

“Well, hurry up. We gotta eat and then go over the plans for tonight, ok?” he replied, toweling off and pulling up a pair of fresh boxers.

“Ok.”

God, how she wished she was heading towards a sofa, a book, and a glass of wine, Mulder slowly rubbing her feet by a fire in her den.

But, breaking into an internationally secure compound had it’s draw too.

Mulder was rubbing off on her.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

“And how many days was he expelled?” Scully asked around a sip of tea.

“Well, in England, they make you return home from the expulsion, disgracing kith and kin. But, Fox, the sly devil, was able to use his dad’s connections to get authentic Cuban cigars sent to the entire board. So, he didn’t have to return to the Americas, head hung in shame and defeat.” Brian explained.

“Gasp! Mulder, bribery? Really?” Scully laughed, swatting Mulder’s knee underneath the dinner table. Mulder ducked his head with a slight blush and a roll of his eyes.

“But, he did have to change dorms which is how we became bunkmates, but had distinctly different majors.” Brian explained in grand fashion, a lone piece of beef being pushed around on his plate as he rambled.

“Well! I think we have heard about enough about my trysts at Oxford, eh Brian? The roast was great, I appreciate it”. Mulder stretched his arms over his head and rested his closest arm on the back of Scully’s chair. “I guess if we are planning to run this tonight, I need to catch a nap. How are you feeling Scully?”

When he looked over at her, she positively glowed. Her cheeks took on a pink air, from the over exposure to the winter air and the laughter at Brian’s stories. Her hair had dried naturally, falling in tawny waves around her face and her light blue sweater only added to the sparkle in her eyes.

It struck Mulder, as he watched her, that they had not had a night like this. Where they sat back and shared stories over a meal, laughing and teasing, letting each other into that mysterious part of their lives referred to ‘pre-X-files’. It almost made him sad that they were about to throw this normalcy out the window to break into a foreign hospital to get proof of a new extraterrestrial disease. Would he ever choose this over the unknown? It gnawed at the base of his skull, Scully’s yearning to “Get out of the car” swirling around his brain.

“Mulder?” Scully asked, her eyes wide in question and waving her hand in front of his eyes. “You okay?”

“What? Yeah, great. Sorry, I spaced out for a bit.” Mulder replied, offering her a small smile.

“Okay… Well, I was just saying I could use a nap before tonight.” Scully said, sliding her fingers into Mulder’s. Mulder nodded his head in agreement and turned his weary eyes towards Brian.

“What are the accomidations?”

“Well, we have a pull out couch in the office. It isn’t the most comfortable thing, but it will do, if that is alright. It’s a full.” Brian said standing up from the table, collecting both his and Scully’s plate.

“Yeah, that will be fine. Is, uh, Ava not going to eat?” Mulder asked, standing as well.

“I dont know what the hell her problem is, Man.” Brian said, his back to Mulder as he walked to the sink. “You know she gets in these funks, but I’m from Charleston, South Carolina. My Mama would wear my hide out if I sulked and pouted while we had company.”

Mulder grinned and slid his plate into the sink.

“Have you two been together since we left Oxford?”

“No, not really. A few weekends here and there, then she got put on assignment in Prague and I was looking for a change of scenery. It just kinda happened, I guess.”

Mulder leaned back against the counter and caught Scully’s eye as she stood near the island. “You know Ava has been through a lot and I am sure she sees me as part of the problem, Bri. Cut her some slack.”

He walked around Brian and extended his hand for Scully’s before he left the kitchen. “See ya at 2:00am, Buddy.”

“Yeah, man. Pillows are in the closet on the left.” Brian said, abandoning the dishes in the sink and going to find Ava in the den.

Mulder pulled two fluffy pillows out of the closet and met Scully in the small office. He reached for the cushions she was pulling off and stilled her movements to get her eyes on him.

“I’ll do it. Have a seat.” Mulder said, brushing his fingers across hers as she smiled appreciation.

“Brian seems like a really nice guy. He reminds me of my cousin from Atlanta. Just so easy going and charasmatic. And that accent…” Scully said, staring at the bookcase in the small room.

“Excuse me?” Mulder paused from disassemblng the couch bed to look at her with raised eyebrows.

Scully giggled and smiled a wide smile. “I like southern accents.”

“Yeah, I noticed.” Mulder said with a roll of his eyes. “Alright, milady. Your bed awaits.” he said as he pulled his grey sweater over his head, followed by his white t-shirt.

“That’s not the only accents I like.” Scully said in defense, concern flashing in her eyes. Mulder smiled, his back to her, knowing she was afraid she had hurt his feelings.

“No no, Scully. That’s fine. You like what you like.” Mulder said in mock defense, sliding a stoic look onto his face before he turned to face her.

“Mulder… I didn’t mean anything…” Scully started but was interupted by a hand up by Mulder as he slid into the sheets after shucking off his jeans.

“No need to make apology. I get it.” He said, turning his back to her as she stood by the bed, fully dressed. “Good night.”

Mulder closed his eyes and used all of his will power to not start giggling under the covers. It was several minutes before he heard any movement behind him. The rustle of clothes falling to the floor. Her light footfalls walking to the desk, the click of the lamp turning off.

He felt the bed dip and her pause, fighting the urge to naturally snuggle into him. She slid under the covers and turned away from him, a deep sigh signaling that she had setteled into her space.

Mulder waited several beats until he turned, noticing her shoulders up around her ears in tense energy, instantly feeling a pange of guilt at teasing her so mercilessly. But she so rarely slipped up…

Mulder slid his arm through the dip in her waist and pulled her back against him, her bare back and blue panties flush against his bare chest and boxer shorts.

“Scully?”

“Yes?”

Mulder slid his chin up on her shoulder and took a deep breath, reveling in the feel of her soft skin against his own.

“Now, if you want yer beloved to have a southern acc-ent, I can definitely accom-o-date your wishes, my dear heart.” he twanged in her ear, his voice rising up and down as he spread his palm against her flat stomach.

“Mulder! I thought you were mad!” Scully said, turning in his arms and relaxing visably. “You are an ass.” she said as he leaned up on and elbow over her. Her giggling was infectious and he found himself laughing into her shoulder.

“I couldn’t help it. I’m sorry. You make it so easy, Scully.” he said looking back up at her with a smile. Mulder leaned in and kissed her lips slowly, feeling her hands slowly across his lower back.

“We need to get to sleep, Mulder. Sorry.” she said, smacking his ass.

“I know.” Mulder gaver her another quick kiss and then flopped onto his back, pulling Scully into his side. Scully draped her arm across his abs and expelled another deep breath.

“Love you.” she whispered over a yawn.

“Love you, my little dandelion flower.”

Scully was quiet for a few minutes.

“You are making me hate southern accents.”

“Mission accomplished.”

Chapter Thirty

Mulder’s eyes shot open, the noise that woke him disappearing in the dark room. He glanced down at the quiet snoring directly to his right, Scully’s even breathing calming him instantly.

He brushed his fingers through her hair as he flexed the tendons of the arm she currently had her head rested on, the pins and needles prickling his extremeties. Scully stirred slightly at the movement and turned away from him, giving him perfect access to spoon around her completely, placing a light kiss to her shoulder.

Did he dream it? He wouldn’t normally jolt awake if something external hadn’t prompted it. He quieted his breathing for a few moments, listening. Hearing nothing, Mulder settled back into the pillows and began to drift into consciousness as his fingers drew lazy circles around Scully’s navel.

He felt himself begin to slip back into unconsciousness, a warm, hazy envelope of happiness where he would have at least another hour of oblivion before they were due to prep for their fact finding mission at Kirikova.

Brian’s voice, yelling in the den, sent him on full alert, his sleep addled mind sure of it’s intruder this time.

Mulder slipped away from Scully, causing her to turn again at his warm absence and carefully tried to raise himself up to standing. He pulled on his jeans and grabbed the small .357 Magnum from his duffle.

“Where are you going?” Scully mumbled, eyes still closed.

“Bathroom. Go back to sleep.” Mulder whispered as he edged out the door and closed it with a snick.

In bare feet, Mulder eased into the short hallway, light from the den concerning him far more than it ought to. Brian was arguing with someone, another male from the sound of it. The timbre of the second voice was familiar, but Mulder’s mind was reeling from adrenaline, so he couldn’t place it from the muted murmurs.

He flattened himself against the last piece of brick wall that the hallway would afford him as a hiding place and listened, the argument suddenly involving a female… Ava. Brian was hissing at her, the other man silent.

The coolness of the kitchen and the fear of the situation caused goosebumps to break out over Mulder’s bare chest, the cold floor freezing his bare feet. He slid the gun out of his jeans, keeping it in a low profile and slid the safety off.

“You have no jurisditcion or right to barge in here at all hours of the morning. Come back with a warrant.” Brian growled, some ruffling sounds being made.

“Brian, if he came for them, then we have to give them up. They are fugitives.” Ava said calmly.

Almost rehearsed.

“YEah, I wonder how in the hell he found them, Ava. You got any suggestions?” Brian said sarcastically. Mulder could have sworn he heard ‘traitorous bitch’ under Brian’s breath, but he wasn’t sure.

“Look, Mr. Ashton. They are MY agents. I have jurisdiction wherever they are on the planet. Agent Scully disappeared from MY investigation and I am trying to keep them from being court marshalled. We are talking TREASON here. This is not anything to play around with.”

“Who said I am playing with anything? I want you to leave my house now. Come back with the Czech police if you must.” Brian said with finality as he opened the front door. “I told you already that they were not here.”

“It’s okay, Brian.” Mulder said as he walked around the corner, sliding his gun back into his jeans. “It’s fine. Thank you.” he said, clasping Brian’s shoulder, shock coloring his face.

Ava completely averted her eyes.

“Sir? I am assuming you aren’t here for the skiing.” Mulder said, running a hand through his spikey hair.

Skinner was standing before him, a bundled tower of stoicism and seriousness, his eyes steel flecks of animosity.

“Where is she?” he said simply.

“Who, Sir?” Mulder asked, holding Skinner’s stare as solidly as he could.

Skinner’s eyed narrowed at Mulder’s obvious immature response.

“May I see you privately, Agent Mulder?” Skinner asked, brushing past Brian and AVa and heading into the kitchen. Mulder looked at Brian and silently asked for his t-shirt. Brian handed it over and Mulder slipped it on as he followed Skinner into the kitchen.

“Coffee, sir?” Mulder asked as he rounded the corner and began filling the pot, his back to Skinner.

“Mulder. I did what you asked, under the assumption you were going to keep me in the loop. I kept them off of Scully’s ass and bought you 48 hours and you swore to me, you would keep me up to speed on the hunch I was risking my entire fucking career on.”

Mulder turned to face him, silent.

“Where. Is. She.” Skinner asked him again.

Mulder remained silent.

“I am going to try to break this down for you. They are trying to court marshall her, Mulder. She took top secret, national security information overseas and then disappeared. Off of the map. I was able to hold them off as her main contact, but they wanted proof, Mulder. Goddamned proof that I couldn’t come up with. So, they want to get their hands on her and to turn her into a spy. They want her for treason and espionage.”

“That’s fucking ridiculous, Sir. She just did what I asked her too. She is no spy. We both know that.” Mulder said calmly.”

“Well, what we know and what we think are two different things. Right now, the government will make examples of anyone who crosses them, and she has committed the ultimate crime, in their eyes.”

Mulder felt his pulse quicken and his temperature skyrocket.

“That is Absurd! They led her around with completely false information! They had her walking into a bloodbath in Berlin. All to keep my nose out of the fire? Fuck this.” Mulder spat, his eyes avoiding Skinner’s. “She’s not here.”

“I know she is here, Mulder. You wouldn’t go half way around the world to protect her and then let her waltz out of your radar.” Skinner leaned back against the counter, his fingers pinching the skin underneath his glasses. “I need to get her home. I cannot protect her here.”

“You aren’t taking her anywhere. She is staying with me. There is no discussion or room for negotiation. We do not split up.” Mulder said, dismissing Skinner as he walked around the counter towards the office. “Sorry you wasted a trip.”

“Mulder.” Skinner said, in a low warning tone, his large hand gripping Mulder’s forearm as he walked past. “You are in over your heads here. And you will get her killed. You both need to come home.”

Mulder stopped at the touch of Skinner’s hand and waited briefly before taking deep breath.

“She doesn’t deserve this, Mulder.”

Mulder hung his head and ratched his arm from Skinner’s grip.

“She won’t go willingly. You know that. And neither of us can tell her no.” Mulder said, head still bowed.

“I brought something to keep her asleep well until we get home. It’s just souped up Ambien. Give it to her with water.” Skinner said, solemly turning to grab a cleaned glass in the strainer and filled it with water.

Mulder took the envelope that Skinner produced from his pocket and the glass of water for Scully and proceeded down the hallway.

He slid inside the door, holding his breath as he maneveured in the dark room, setting the offending pill and water on the side table near her head.

He slid his tshirt back off and pulled back his side of the covers, the warmth escaping their bed in a ‘huff’. He wrapped his newly cool skin around Scully tightly, causing her to shift in his arms and nuzzle down.

“You’re cold.” she mummbled against his skin.

“Mmmm hmmm.” he said, threading his fingers through her satin hair and running his knuckles down her jawline. He swallowed and closed his eyes, praying to God that she would forgive him for this. Drugging her and abandoning her. But, if Skinner was right, he couldn’t risk her being a government parriah for some stupid reason, be a martyr for the cause.

She had already given so much.

“Hey Scully? Take this for your headache.” Mulder whispered as he handed a mostly asleep Scully the pill and held the water with his free hand.

“Thank you.” She mewed as she tossed the pill back and Mulder held the water to her lips.

Mulder settled back down, propping his head up on the back of the couch and pulled Scully tightly too him. He placed a long kiss to her hairline as she slept and didn’t stop the tears that slipped from his lashes.

As long as she was safe…

Chapter Thirty-One

Scully stretched, pointing her toes under the heavy duvet and felt a satisfying crack in her lower back as she arched against the sheets.

She loved these new sheets. They were the first purchase that she and Mulder had gotten together, a Friday night Target trip that ended up in indulging in 900 thread count Egyptian cotton. They had hurried home and changed the linens together, both sliding in with a shared “ahhh”. Mulder had pounced her then, alternating between tickling her sides and biting her ears.

It had been a good night.

Scully cracked an eye, glancing at her clock that stood guard on the side table.

7:05 am.

Her alarm hadn’t gone off. She stretched again and threw the covers back. She felt so rested and relaxed, scratching her side underneath her blue pajama top. She padded to the bathroom, smoothing her hair down in the process. She must have been asleep for a long time because there was possibly a living, furry creature that had taken up residence in her mouth.

While brushing her teeth, mouth frothing and toothbrush hanging from her lips, it hit her.

She wasn’t supposed to be home. The last time she was awake, she was in Prague, about to break into a hospital with Mulder and Brian. She was sleeping on a pull-out bed, wrapped in Mulder’s arms, topless.

Scully braced herself against the counter of the sink, the toothbrush clattering into the bowl. She spit the paste into the running water, fighting the wave of dizziness that assaulted her brain.

She looked up into the mirror, her short, fading brown hair sticking up in random directions and her eyes were clear and blue. But, it was the ruddy redness gracing her cheeks and the chapness of her lips that struck her.

She fared well, considering the amount of time she spent riding on the back of a motorbike in subzero temperatures.

Mulder.

Where in the hell was Mulder? If he was here, he’d be HERE. She scooped water into her mouth and pivoted into her room, grabbing for her house phone. She hit “1” on speed dial and waited for the rings to run their course.

“Please pick up…” she murmured into the phone. “

“You know what to do.” BEEP Mulder’s voice filtered through the ear piece, his cocky, graveling alto only elevating Scully’s panic.

She hung up and dialed his cell only meeting the same end, although his work voicemail was a bit more formal. “This is Fox Mulder. You know what to do.”

Scully threw the phone on the bed and stared frantically, running through the last thing she could remember.

The full sleep.

The lack of remembering.

The animal in her mouth.

No Mulder.

She had been drugged.

Scully darted to her tall dresser, reaching for her cell phone to check the date. February 3? Fucking Feburary 3? She entered into the hospital with Paloma on February 1! She’d been asleep for two days!

She slumped against the dresser, her chest heaving and her eyes wide in shock. She began to slip into agent mode, willing herself to calm down and take stock of what she knew and what she needed to know.

She had to find out what in the hell happened and where Mulder was.

She straightened her shoulders and stepped over a pile of discarded black clothes, going to pull a pair of jeans out of the closet.

Suddenly a sinking feeling hit her stomach, almost as if someone had physically punched her in the gut. She had to lean against the wall, trying desperately to catch her breath and fight the anxiety that was causing her heart to thud in her ears.

Realization was slowly sinking in.

Had she been ditched?

She fought the prickle of tears that sprang to her eyes. “Do not jump to conclusions, Dana.” she scolded herself, swiping at her eyes furiously. She continued to busy herself in her closet, trying to transfer some energy to getting dressed so she can try to figure out what to do next.

“Dana?”

Scully spun around quickly, her jaw slack and eyes wide.

“Mom?”

“Hi Honey.” Maggie Scully said with a gentle smile, her arms outstretched for a welcoming hug. Scully crossed the room and wrapped her arms around her mother’s waist, relaxing slightly at the familiarity of the gesture.

“What are you doing here?” Scully asked as she pulled away and continued to get change clothes.

“I have been keeping an eye on you since you got back. I made coffee.” Maggie offered, though she was not completely meeting Scully’s eyes.

Scully had gotten her self-assuredness and confidence from her mother, so when Maggie avoided eye contact, she was hiding something. Scully did the same thing.

“Mom? What in the hell is going on? Why am I here?” Scully asked as she stepped past Maggie, reaching for her tennis shoes as they sat at the end of her bed.

“You live here, Dana.” Maggie replied simply, her eyes still focused on the lamp in the room.

Scully froze, her eyes narrowing. “You know what I mean. I was on an assignment overseas, Mom. When did I get here?”

Maggie turned towards her and answered her truthfully. “You got here yesterday morning.”

Scully busied herself with her tennis shoes while the gears in her mind turned quickly.

“How did I get here? I dont remember anything. Something is VERY wrong.” Scully said, standing and boring into Maggie’s eyes, searching for the truth and some understanding.

Her mom was obviously troubled, something warring behind her eyes.

“Mom, you need to tell me. Do you know where Mulder is?” Scully asked, reaching for Maggie’s hand.

“Honey, I think you need some coffee.” Maggie said, turning towards the door and heading to the kitchen. Scully held tight to her hand and gently pulled Maggie back to her original position.

“Mom? How did I get home? Please.” Maggie finally fully met Scully’s eyes, fear and concern swirling around in her brown depths. She remained quiet.

“Mom, Mulder may need my help. I need to know something.”

Maggie took a deep breath and squared her shoulders.

“Dana. Fox is not here. I do know that. Walter Skinner brought you here and called me to meet him here yesterday morning. Walter has called to check on you twice, Fox called once… yesterday. I haven’t heard from him today.” Maggie said, her cheeks flushing.

All of the pieces began to click into place.

“Skinner told you not to tell me, didn’t he?” Scully asked slowly, releasing her mother’s hands. Maggie just continued to look into her daughter’s eyes.

“No, Honey. Fox did.”

Scully widened her eyes slightly and turned back towards her closet, biting back a sob at the dagger that had just been hurled towards her chest. She pulled the blue sweater she had just put on back over her head and laid a black Donna Karen suit on her bed.

“Dana? What are you doing?” Maggie asked as Scully breezed passed her towards the bathroom, the shower sliding on instantly.

“Going to see Skinner.”

Chapter Thirty-Two

Mulder was bouncing.

He was assuming that the movmement was, in fact, forcing the blood to flow a little easier while he stood on the snowy city street. It wasn’t particularly cold, according to the thermometer. 19 Degrees with the sun rising in the sky. It was the wind that howled passed him that froze him, slicing through the down coat he was bundled up in. The wind chill was -10 degrees and was only going to continue dropping.

“Jesus, Brian. Hurry up.” Mulder grumbled, resuming his ‘bouncing’ and pulling his cell phone out for the 30th time that morning. Scully’s home number had buzzed shortly after 7am, stateside, and it took Brian locking the cell phone in his safe to keep Mulder from answering it.

It turned out that Brian was more paranoid than the Gunmen.

“You don’t know who is listening, now that Ava blew the whistle. I wouldn’t use that at ALL… especially since she isnt with you anymore.” he had warned. Mulder thought it best not to argue with a man who had literally lost trust and respect for the only other human being in his life. Ava had not only screwed over Mulder and Scully, she had completely decimated Brian.

Neither man even looked up as she collected her bags and left the loft, scorn in her eyes and pride in her shoulders.

“My mom wants me with a Southern girl, anyways.” had been the only thing that Brian had said about it, though the tears in his eyes hid very little. “Where’s Scully from?” he had asked, a light teasing tone in his voice, sniffling over his laughter.

Mulder had bristled, uncontrollably and just grinned in response, not completely comfortable with even a joke of Scully going elsewhere.

Although, by this point, she had probably sublet her apartment and turned in her resignation. Mulder turned his gaze upwards in irritation. He just wanted to get her in front of him, force her to look at him and try to explain why he did what he did. Those conversations never fared well over the phone with a hard-headed,pissed Scully. And with everything that had changed in their relationship lately, she was probably the most mad she had ever been at him.

Hurt. Not mad, she was hurt. Well, maybe a bit of both.

Undercover assignments were way less sexy without her, he noted silently. He glanced at his watch, cursing Brian again as Mulder finally saw him walking to the register of the small convenient store. Brian had refused to let them be seen together where cameras could be used. So, there stood Mulder, covered in ice crystals and gnawing his lip in concern for Scully.

“Ready, Man?” Brian asked as he sidled up beside Mulder, downing a Red Bull and handing Mulder one. Brian continued down the small street, the still looming hospital almost blocking out the sun over the small borough of the inner city in Prague.

The night that Skinner took Scully, Mulder had aborted the mission. The animosity between he and Skinner and the newly formed hatred between Brian and Ava confirmed that no one was ready for a life or death scenario. While it miffed Brian, he understood and began working on their new two-person team, still using the photos from Scully and the info she had given them during her time at the facility.

“She’ll understand, Mulder.” Brian offered, though his eyes didn’t truly show as much confidence as his words would assume.

“You don’t know Dana Scully very well, do you?” Mulder scoffed, sipping the sweet drink in his hand.

“I mean, what were you supposed to do? Fight Skinner and have her hung for treason? You were protecting her. You love her. She will understand.”

“I should have let her make that decision. I can’t go around acting like I did before if I expect things to be different than before….” Mulder stopped on the slushy sidewalk, realization dawning on him.

“Shit.” he growled as he reached for his cell phone again and dialed her number internationally.

“What are you doing, Mulder? I told you not to use that here!” Brian said, swiping for the phone but missing. He widened his eyes and glared at Mulder. “You can’t contact her. They are surely listening to EVERYONE she calls or recieves calls from.”

“I am a prick and I want to tell her that. That’s all.” Mulder said, holding the phone to his ear.

“I’m sure she has figured that out by now.” Brian said.

Mulder rolled his eyes as her machine picked up, her clear, crisp voice rolling into the shell of his ear.

“You have reached Special Agent Dana Scully. I cannot answer your call at the moment, but please leave a detailed message and a return number and I will be sure to return your call promptly. Thank you.” BEEP

“Scully, it’s me. I know you are pissed and you have every right to me. But something just dawned on me and… and I fucked up the other night. I let Skinner bully me into doing things his way, not our way. That’s the big secret to all of this Scully. It’s not my way anymore. It’s OUR way. And I am a prick for not realizing it. And I am so sorry for hurting you and not letting you make those decisions.”

“YOU HAVE 30 SECONDS TO FINISH YOUR MESSAGE.”

“Ugh, I gotta go. Brian and I are switching the plan up a bit, but, uh… I love you, Scully. I will call you tonight.”

Brian just gaped at him incredulously.

“Why didn’t you give her the tour number we are in and my fucking blood type? Jesus, Man!”

“Shut up, ‘Hans Vandersloot’.” Mulder smiled, feeling more free and more relaxed after spilling his guts to Scully. He flicked the fake ID badge that hung from Brian’s ski jacket.

“Alright, ‘Lars Brakenrudge’.” he smiled, punching Mulder in the arm good naturedly.

“Well, we should head up. Our tour of the hopsital starts in 30 min. I want to see the entrance and review the layout of the elevators, so we need to be a bit early.” Mulder said, checking his pockets for the final time to make sure his tissue sample collecting materials were ready.

Brian was so sure of their plan to merely ‘slip’ away from the tour group looking at the historic building and the role it played in World War II, that he didn’t even think that they needed disguises. By the time they figured out who they were, Brian had said, they would be long gone from there.

“Ready when you are.” Brian stated, allowing Mulder to pass him on the sidewalk.

The two men continued up the treacherous walk, their boots crunching in unison and Brian throwing random curse words out from behind him. The remote device that Brian had rigged to afford them access to the contract room in the research lab had been giving him trouble since it’s inception. One minute it was perfect, the next it was a worthless piece of shit.

“How you doing back there?” Mulder asked, the narrow sidewalk causing them to walk single file.

“Fine, just testing everything one last time.” Brian drawled while he found his footing on the ice.

“Good.” Mulder said, taking a deep breath as the guard gate appeared in front of them. He strode to the gate and looked at the young guard in front of him.

“Yes, we are signed up for the 11:00am tour. Historical architecture students.” Mulder grinned pointing between him and Brian, who offered a genuine smile.

“May I see your badges, please?” the officer asked, formally. He took them and held up a finger for Mulder and Brian to hold for a few moments. He turned to a phone in the booth and spoke Dutch into the receiver. Mulder couldn’t pick out any words, but he recognized the influction. Why would a Czech hospital have a Dutch speaking security team?

He turned back to Brian, raising his eyebrows in question, but Brian just nodded him back to facing forward, his calmness transferring to Mulder.

“Yes Sir. Your tour is going to begin at the west entrance, this way. We had an overbooking, so we are having to split the groups.” the young officer stated, pulling out a paper map of the grounds and circling the entrance the men were expected to head towards.

“Oh, alright. Thank you.” Mulder said, taking the map and hurrying through the walking gate. Brian walked shoulder to shoulder with him, their breath puffing out in front of them.

“An overbooking on a Wednesday at 11:00am?” Brian asked, looking up at Mulder.

“Yeah, I thought that was a little weird too.”

“Well, maybe a tour group ended up here on the wrong day or something. It could be anything.”

“That is awfully optimistic for a paranoiac like yourself.” Mulder said as they arrived at the west entrance of the fortress, the shadows of the building making it at least 15 degrees colder. Brian elbowed Mulder to look back into the sunlit yard, a small group of obvious tourists being grouped together and a short woman in a blazer and awkward shoes calling out at them with a clipboard.

“Mulder, I really think we should go with that group. That guard didn’t know what he was talking about.” Brian stated, before Mulder pulled open the massive door leading to a lobby.

“Well, we will just blend in when they come in.” Mulder whispered, his ears ringing from entering the building, the absence of the screaming wind obvious. Mulder took note of several people, mostly men, scurrying about, lab coats and scrubs flying in their wake. He also noted the number of obvious non-medical personelle that were stationed in this closed off lobby. The number of military uniforms easily outnumbered hte medical ones, 2 to 1. And the massive machine guns that they carried slung over their shoulders was hard to miss.

Brian had apparently noted that as well, because Mulder saw his eyes widen as they met his own wide ones.

Just then, an older, taller officer approached the men, a gentle smile gracing his sharp features. He extended a hand to Mulder and then Brian, a short bow accompaning the gesture. Mulder fought the urge to compare it to a noticable Nazi-esque movement.

“Gentlemen, we would like to take you to your tour. Your group will begin at the back of the hospital, so as not to mix our groups.” he said curtly in broken English, the thick German accent chopping his syllables to pieces.

Mulder nodded in agreement and followed the officer through a door to the right of a long, white marble desk. They walked through the door and he heard it close in a snick behind him, Brian’s arm brushing his own.

Mulder’s heart stopped, fear paralyzing him momentarily.

“On your knees.”

Mulder was frozen, his eyes taking in the scene before him. He and Brian were in a small room, non-descript, except for the six soliders standing at full engagement, six M-1’s pointed directly at their chests.

“I SAID ON YOUR KNEES.” the decorated solider screamed, his English clear, despite the German accent.

Mulder and Brian followed suit, easing down on their knees side by side.

“What is going on? We are on a tour!” Brian tried, but was answered with the butt of the M-1 across his shoulder blades, causing him to crash to the floor beside Mulder in a sickening thud.

“Stellte die Tasche ?ber ihren K?pfen und laden Sie sie auf die van.” the officer directed behind him, mobilizing two soliders who approached Mulder and Brian.

“What did they say?” Mulder whispered frantically, as if noone else would hear him, despite Brian rolling on the floor in pain.

Mulder felt the first solider grab his hands and yank them behind him, the puffy coat making it difficult. His hands were handcuffed, the steel burning with cold into the tender flesh of his wrists.

Mulder was trying to process what was happening but was afraid that being stupid would get he and Brian killed instantly. So, he remained quiet as he felt the man pull his knit cap off of his head.

Blackness surrounded him as a black nylon bag was pulled down over his head and secured with a draw string around his neck.

Mulder struggled against the restraints, fighting a scream that was threatening to erupt from his throat. Claustraphobia was setting in and the terror of being yanked to his feet, two sets of hands holding his biceps, and German being yelled all around him was beginning to make him feel light headed.

But it was the sound of the trucks that made him pass out.

Chapter Thirty-Three

“Scully?” Mulder asked as he turned to face her more fully, his sock clad feet sliding to the floor from the couch.

“Hmmmm?” she asked, absently pushing her glasses back up her nose as she turned the page of the journal she was devouring.

Mulder paused, his eyes fixating on her slender fingers as they threaded stubborn auburn strands behind her ears and her lips randomly forming silent syllables as she read.

Scully took notice of the silence and looked up from the page, her grey-blue eyes soft and clear over her glasses.

“What Mulder?” She wiggled the foot tucked between the cushion and his leg, hoping to jar him from his revere.

Mulder blinked slowly and actually met her stare, a small self-conscious smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

“Why did you agree to marry me?” he almost mumbled, the words slipping and sliding out of his lips before he had enough time to thoroughly decide whether or not he should even ask them.

Scully rolled her eyes and fixed her gaze back on the words of the page, turning to a new one with a small giggle.

“Don’t tell me that you are going to start asking me girly questions like that, Mulder. You know why I agreed to marry you.”

Mulder took her small foot in between his large hands and began to lightly push on the tendons beneath the white sock, eliciting a groan from Scully.

“Bear with me. I know you love me and I know we mean a lot to each other. But, why did you agree to actually marry me…” Mulder paused mid sentence. “To stay with me for the rest of our lives.” he asked sincerely, surprised at how much he realized he needed to hear her answer.

Scully pursed her lips into a thin line and quietly closed the magazine, her fingers drumming out a random beat on it’s slick cover. She looked up at Mulder, sliding her glasses off, and, after realizing how serious he actually was, narrowed her gaze momentarily, trying to search for words that would both convey her emotions but sufficiently quell Mulder’s worried heart.

Mulder accidently took her silence as dismissal, because he mumbled a deep “nevermind” as he turned his body back towards the TV and reached for the discarded remote, turning up the volume on the Lakers’ game.

“You see me… I guess. When you look at me, you actually see me.” Scully said tentatively, choosing her words carefully and boring her eyes into the side of Mulder’s passive face.

Obviously hearing something that piqued his interest, Mulder muted the TV and turned back towards her, silently encouraging her to continue.

“I have spent so much of my life trying to control what people see when they look at me, whether it be my father or my brothers or the FBI or other doctors… I have tried so hard to become whatever it is that they expect to see. But, with you I have never felt like I have had to become anything… I can just be.” she finished quietly, her cheeks flushing and her eyes shining suspiciously.

Mulder laced his fingers in between hers, his fingers caressing the insides of her palm as he rested their joined hands on her knee. A gentle, solid smile planted onto his face as he spoke.

“That’s exactly what I would have said.”

Mulder’s eyes flew open, his mouth gaping for breath and his chest heaving in a breaching panic. He realized his teeth were chattering and that his body was convulsing from cold, the dull prickle of numbness deadening his fingertips.

He sat up quickly, the small mattress whining beneath the shift in his weight as he tried to hold on to the warm fog that still surrounded his brain; that smelled like coffee and oranges and that damn vanilla candle that Scully insisted on burning when it was cold outside.

He was sitting in the dark, but dim lights were seen outside of his room, a massive steel door blocking Mulder from the poorly lit hallway. He strained to see around him, looking as closely as he could , afraid to move or make too much noise as the corners of his cell were way darker than they should naturally be.

Mulder felt a breeze, cooler than the already freezing temperatures of the stale room and glanced up, looking at the small grate near the ceiling of this place, billion of twinkling stars blinking back at him through the hole in the wall.

Mulder ran his hands through his hair and rested his elbows on his knees, trying to slowly blow air in and out of his lungs, a fit of coughing attacking his chest. The warm, tingy taste of mucus found its way to his mouth and the panic of pneumonia began to set in.

As if someone had flipped a switch on in that portion of his brain, Mulder’s ribs began to burn with a dull ache with every breath, his throat raw and his mouth parched. Even his eyes felt hardened and dry.

Hypothermia, dehydration, pneumonia.

Super.

Mulder looked back up and chanced to stand, realizing that the dirt floor beneath his boots was almost frozen.

He ran his fingertips along the cold wall, trying to gauge the actual size of this prison and desperately trying to remember how he had arrived here.

As he slowly moved, a commotion out in the hallway caused him to retreat to the far corner of the room. It was wailing. Someone was moaning and crying as they were coming down the hallway. Mulder quieted his breathing and realized he heard at least two sets of feet and maybe something being dragged?

The piercing grind of metal being slid and bolts being unlocked rang in Mulder’s ears and he realized that the people were trying to get into his cell.

He flattened his body against the corner of the iced wall, his palms spreading against the bricks.

As the door was thrown open, the weak light filtered into the room showing Mulder way more than he had hoped to have seen.

Two uniformed men, early 20’s, literally threw a bloodied and crumpled Brian to the floor of Mulder’s cell. The moans from the beaten man were animalistic and begging; the results of torture and excrutiating pain.

Brian remained on the floor, coughing and wratching as the two men stood over him, the light behind their hats adding to the ominous prescence they were trying to inforce.

The taller of the officers took a half-step into the cell and spit on Brian, the liquid hitting him with a loud ‘splat’. He then backed back into the hallway and instantly looked up, locking eyes with Mulder who was frozen in place, his weakend body making it impossible to think clearly, let alone move.

“We will come for you later.” the officer said in curt broken English and then turned down the hallway, the other man pulling the heavy steel door shut and sliding the bolted locks into place.

As soon as the cell filled with the soft darkness again, Mulder lept into the center of the room towards the loud breathing and sobbing heap on the dirt floor.

“What did they do to you?” Mulder whispered, unsure of where to put his hands but aching to do something to put his friend out of his misery.

“Kill me.” Brian whispered.

Mulder stared down at his back, the gaping wounds drying and freezing in front of Mulder’s eyes, his jaw slack with shock.

“For the love of God, Mulder. Please just kill me.”

Chapter Thirty-Four

“Agent Scully, this conversation is over. Is that understood?” Skinner barked. He had flattened his palms on the smooth mahogany of his desk in frustration and was trying to use his tall stature as intmidation. It worked on marines…

“This conversation is not over unless I get some goddamned answers.” Scully spat, her eyes wild and her chest heaving. The adrenaline coursed through her veins and her fingers gripped the chair she had recently vacated in order to hide the tremors that were wracking her body.

Skinner’s eyes met hers, locked in a stalemate.

She didn’t flinch.

Minutes passed, Scully assumed, because her heart was a loud thud in her ears as she waited, her body acting on it’s own accord.

Skinner caved first, his shoulders slumping in defeat and his left hand grabbing his glasses off of his nose. He sighed and chanced a look back up at Scully.

“We cannot discuss this here.” he said seriously. Skinner grabbed a slip of paper off of his desk and scibbled a few words down on the crisp paper. He then folded it and handed it to her.

“You follow those directions and we will hash this out then, alright?” he asked, his voice decidedly softer than it had been moments ago.

Scully got the overwhelming feeling that he was nervous. She rarely saw that side of him, but when she did, it made her stomach drop. Almost like when she would see her father cry…

“Thank you, sir.” she replied quietly, tucking the small paper in her coat pocket and turning towards the door.

As she slipped out of the door, noticing that Kimberly’s chair was vacant, Scully swallowed down the lump in her throat and swiped at the hot tears that threatened to spill onto her flushed cheeks.

Now was certanily not the time to lose control…

She pulled the engagement ring from under her shirt, the glittering gold chain that it hung from shimmering in the track lighting of Skinner’s lobby.

“I’ll find you, Mulder.” she whispered, placing the princess cut diamond against her lips.

“I’ll find you.”

Mulder had helped Brian into a sitting position onto the small cot, the darkness making it impossible to actually assess the man’s wounds.

But Mulder knew they were bad. He could hear the wheezing coming from Brian’s chest and everywhere he touched him it was wet and sticky. He was sure if there had been more light, Mulder’s hands would be covered in red.

Brian had stopped sobbing and begging for death several minutes before, but that was only beacuse he was slipping into shock.

Mulder crouched in front of Brian, placing his hands on the other man’s knees as he talked, hoping to keep his focus on Mulder instead of what he had just endured.

“Brian, you need to talk to me, Man. You need to tell me what in the hell is going on, ok?”

Nothing.

In the murky light, Mulder could make out Brian’s handsome profile and noticed his nose was askew from the rest of his symmetrical face. That would explain the wheezing.

“Hey, come on, I have never been able to shut you up. Why start now, right?” Mulder tried again, but not succeeding. He mumbled under his breath and pushed up onto his own unsteady feet, rubbing his frozen hand across his stubbled jaw.

The guards had said they would be coming back for Mulder. That thought alone caused his ears to fill with the sound of thumping blood and his pulse to race. Of all the times he had been held against his will, this one felt different. There was more unknown here.

He had to have a plan of action before they came back. He had to gain some information before then.

The only form of information was sitting in a heap on a dirty cot a few feet away from Mulder.

He crossed back across the space, straddling Brian’s knees and putting both of his hands on the sides of Brian’s head.

“Now, Brian? I need you to focus, okay? This is not going to end well if you don’t fucking get back in the game, alright?” Mulder whispered harshly, his hands holding onto Brian’s head forcefully.

The moonlight reappeared in the cell, as the passing clouds fluttered away, affording Mulder a bit more light to work with.

“BRIAN! LISTEN TO ME! YOU HAVE TO TELL ME WHAT THEY WANT!” Mulder growled, feeling the prickle of tears pinning the backs of his eyes.

Brian’s lolling head, the weight resting on Mulder’s hands, suddenly sat up stick-straight, his eyes clear and sharp, glaring into Mulder’s eyes that were mere inches from his own.

“Brian? You with me?” Mulder asked, a shiver flying through his body. The unnatural angle that Brian’s head was sitting sent a quick flash of nausea into the pit of Mulder’s stomach. Something wasn’t right…

Before Mulder could ask him again, Brian’s hand became a vice grip against Mulder’s throat,lightening fast, his fingernails digging into the tender flesh of his neck. Warring between shock and trying to breathe, Mulder began to claw at Brian’s hand, ripping at the skin around his wrist.

A low hiss began to work it’s way out of Brian’s body and up through his throat, his eyes glassy and staring just ahead of Mulder’s struggling form.

Mulder continued to try to back away from Brian’s grip, but the supernatural force was slowly beginning to crush his windpipe, the blood trickling down his chest as he struggled.

“They are going finish it this time.” Brian hissed, a high pitched growl slipping from his lips. “They are going to take her and finish it this time.”

Mulder’s hands stilled.

As he stopped clawing, a loud pitched squeak clammored out of Brian’s mouth, it pulling and opening at weird angles. His death grip slackened against Mulder’s throat and he began to turn his hands on his own flesh, his fingernails digging into the sensitive, bruised skin of his own nose.

“Brian, stop…” Mulder whispered, his own hands rubbing his throat vigorously as he gasped for breath.

Mulder started to inch towards Brian, watching him self-inflict gashes onto his face, small sobbing sounds filtering from his mouth.

Brian fixated his eyes on Mulder, startling the other man, and he began to cough, convulsing under the strength of the his heaves, fresh blood pouring from his mouth.

Mulder stood and gingerly went to grab Brian’s shoulder’s, trying to get him to sit up as straight as he could, but Brian’s eyes were the same glassy fixated stare, nothing being processed or filtrated.

After several minutes of coughing, Brian went still, wet blood soaking the front of his clothes and freezing against his chin.

The only movement Mulder could see in the moonlight was the familiar black swirl in the white of Brian’s eyes.

Chapter Thirty-Five

Scully slipped into the motel room, the stale scent of old cigarette smoke assaulting her senses. She strode across the room, flipping on the room lamp as she walked, her fingers gliding across the stuccoed wall. She pulled the desk chair over to the fire alarm and made quick work of disassembling it, stretching on her toes to pry it from its bracket on the wall.

Sweeping for bugs was much easier when your over 6’2 partner did most of the grunt work.

Satisfyed that the light fixtures, toilet, and TV were unremarkable, Scully made her way to the corner of one of the double beds and exhaled, sitting on the springy mattress with a huff.

Skinner was supposed to be here any minute and her nerves were literally on fire.

She glanced around the sparsely furnished room, a small smile finidng its way to her lips. How many of these rooms had she and Mulder stayed in over the years? How many times had she cursed him as she fought the stiffness in her neck that was unavoidable by morning? How many times had she drifted into a restless sleep thinking of his lean, long form seperated from her by a flimsy, plywood door?

A light knock jarred her from her memories, so light she held her breath to make sure that she had actually heard it. Scully rose from the corner of the bed, her hand sliding to the butt of her Sig, her booted feet soundlessly moving across the carpet.

She rose up on her toes, glancing through the peephole of the room. Seeing a warped version of Skinner through the hole allowed her to exhale and her left hand to fall from the gun, swinging the door open quickly.

“Sir.” she said by way of greeting as Skinner brushed past her into the room, nodding back at Scully as she closed the door and slid the bolt back into place.

Skinner looked around, noting the tossed appearance of the room and nodded his approval. “The place is clean then?” he asked quietly, finally turning to look at Scully solemly.

“Yes, I checked everything I could think of.” Scully said, making her way to the desk chair as Skinner took her place at the end of the bed. He slid a white file folder from inside of his jacket, the red wording screaming “CLASSIFIED” across the front cover.

“Alright, Scully. I know you have questions and I know you are furious. But, I need to explain that I gave Mulder no option in whether or not you came home. Just as I was given no option on whether or not to bring you back. You were/are still on assignment with the State Department. I only answer orders, I don’t give them at this level.” Skinner said quietly, but sternly. He operated on a factual basis and wanted to alleviate any emotional connection that Scully may have been working off of.

She appreciated that.

“Granted, we could have come up with a more fair way to do that, but, again, my options have been quite limited as of late.”

Scully slowly nodded her head, urging him to continue.

“They were threatening treason, Scully.” he said finally. Scully turned her eyes up to Skinner’s in surprise, her mouth opening slightly as a tremor wracked through her body.

Treason? She would have been tried for treason? That was reserved for spies and warlords.

“I only had to mention it to him once and he stopped fighting me. It scared Mulder to death.” Skinner stated. “Hell, it scared me to death.”

Scully looked up at Skinner then, surprised at his admission of weakness. Her heart softened slightly, her eyes taking in his exhausted appearance and the honest slope of his shoulders.

“Is “they” the State Department?” She asked, her voice cracking in the silence of the room?

SKinner nodded, sliding his glasses off with his gloved hand and rubbing the bridge of his nose, exhaling in the process. “I have reason to believe that we have been used as scapegoats, Scully. And I say “we” as in me, you, and Mulder. When I approached you about this assignment, I swear to you that I was telling you the information that I had been given. By a very trusted source…” Skinner said softly.

“Who was your source?” Scully asked, hoping to move this meeting along as quickly as possible. Not only was staying in one place unnerving, but every second they sat talking was another second Mulder was on the other side of the world doing God knows what.

Or having God knows what done to him.

“You know I can’t tell you that, Scully.” Skinner said seriously. “But, what I can tell you is the latest on Mulder.” He thumbed open the thick file, several glossy pictures catching the dim light of the room. Scully rose and moved to sit beside Skinner on the bed.

“Scully, I feel like I need to warn you… you aren’t going to be happy about what I have to tell you.”

“I kind of gathered that, Sir.” she said, not hiding the quake in her voice.

Skinner took a deep breath and turned more fully to Scully so that she could see the photographs as well.

“After we left the Republic, Mulder had mentioned that he and his friend, Brian, were planning to infiltrate the hospital where you had gone undercover the day before. He said it was a quick “in-and-out” and it would be done the next morning. You had done most of the hard work, they were just going in to get conclusive evidence of the virus… that you had been originally sent to investigate.”

Scully’s gut twisted and turned with anxious energy, the unmistakeable feeling of dread gripping her chest as Skinner unfolded the story. He turned and flipped the pictures towards Scully, her familiarity with the photos slightly comforting. They were the bodies she had found in her original file when she was posing as Kate and then mixed with the photos she had taken while posing as a researcher in the Czech hospital. Nothing new…

“These wound up in the file after we had returned to the states. I am not sure who or why, but someone has had their eye on you two since you boarded the plane in Berlin.”

The glossy, grainy photograph of Scully and Mulder, forehead to forehead on the plane caused an audible gasp to escape Scully’s throat. She began thumbing through the pictures and it became a pictoral slideshow of their time in Berlin.

*Mulder’s stricken face as Scully ducked back to the bathroom at the airport coffee shop.

*Her chin resting on Mulder’s shoulder as they sat at a stoplight on their newly acquired motorbike, her arms tightly wrapped around his waist.

*Mulder’s form bent over, pain wincing his face, as he leaned against the stoop of Bianca’s apartment building.

*His fingers tucking dark strands back under her knit cap, the morning twilight barely visable, their motorcycle loaded down with supplies.

*Ava’s decidedly pointed stare as Mulder helped Scully into the front door of Brian’s apartment.

*Scully swiping her pretend badge as she entered the hopsital undetected.

“They knew who I was the entire time.” she whispered, her eyes taking in her conversation with Paloma, the massive Bronco pulling back out of the parking lot, her walking back into Brian’s loft.

“That would be my assumption, yes.” Skinner said. “Brian’s associate contacted me as to your whereabouts, but I don’t think that she was involved in this intel.” he said, his eyes taking in the photos spread across both of their laps.

“I wouldn’t be so sure.” Scully huffed, flushing at the jealous tinge to her comment.

“Really, Scully. This kind of work would be left to the pros. She thought she was beating someone to the punch… but she didn’t. Who’s punch, I am not really sure, but they wanted to make their prescence known.”

“Why do you say that?” Scully asked, forcefully dragging her eyes away from the frozen moments of she and Mulder. One photograph particularly snagged her interest as she slid it from the back of the pile. Skinner hadn’t shown her this one and it had been placed at the back, out of chronological order.

It looked as if it had been pulled from a still from a 1930’s romance film. The wavy, floorlength glass she stood behind in the graying Berlin apartment building seemed dated, post World War reminders littering the brick around the massive glass. But, there they were; Scully’s thin fingers tracing the frosted riveletts on the glass and Mulder’s strong, bare arms resting around her waist, her profile turned to his, their eyes locked as they talked quietly.

She felt the flush assault her cheeks as Skinner politely turned his head, coughing a little as a distraction. Scully, slid the picture back into the file quickly, her fingers instantly fidgeting with each other.

“I say that because Mulder and Brian have not been seen or heard from in 24 hours.” Skinner said gravely. “Mulder had sincerely promised me that he would check in after their excursion to the hospital to gather samples from the room that you had discovered, and that was well over 12 hours ago, putting them at about 2am their time. Generally, I wouldn’t be concerned with his lack of checking in, but he was really checking in on you. So, I know he wouldn’t have missed that deadline willingly. They have fallen off of the map.”

Scully turned and faced him, standing quickly. The urge to punch Skinner in the jaw or fling herself on the identical bed and sob uncontrolably were warring with each other, both having equal footing inside of her chest.

“So you haven’t heard from Mulder or Brian in over 12 hours and you are just now becoming concerned?” Scully asked, her back to Skinner.

“Of course, I’m not just becoming concerned. But I didn’t want to come to you with only half of the information I could get. These people take time to get to and I only just found out, minutes before I got here, that they were last seen at the hospital. The security guard at the gate remembered two American students who were sent to a different tour group than the others, but was given no explanation as to why. The men were Brian and Mulder, obviously. They entered the hospital on the south side of the compound and haven’t been seen since.”

“You’ve seen the security tape?” Scully asked. Her mind was whirring a million miles a second and her pulse was threading in her ears.

“Yeah… They come in but they do not come out.”

“Perhaps they are hiding until after hours. They are still in the hospital.” Scully guessed, turning around and fixing Skinner with a stare that screamed fear, boardering on panic.

“Scully, I got a copy of Brian’s layout and the gist of his codes to get into the facility. Those codes are changed every 90 minutes. They were supposed to be in and out, just like Mulder said. They should have been seen exiting by lunch time and they are no where to be seen. I’ve watched the tapes about 40 times. Brian’s algorithm could only unlock the codes that one change sequence. If they didn’t get in during that window, they aren’t getting in.” Skinner had risen from the bed, his stance mimicking Scully’s, hands on hips and feet planted firmly on the shag carpet.

“So, someone is holding them in the hospital?” Scully half asked, half stated. “Someone figured out who they were and what they are after and is holding them hostage.” Scully took two solid steps towards Skinner, her finger piercing into the crisp white oxford he wore. “And you took me fucking 3000 miles away from anywhere near him.” she spat, tears brimming her eyes as fury locked her jaw.

“This is being orchestrated perfectly. I got you out in just enough time so that he would get caught. They want you separate.”

“Divide and conquer.” she mumbled, her nail finding it’s way to her teeth as she worried the skin of her cuticle.

“The key is what you were originally sent to investigate, Scully. This is global here. Way over our heads.” Skinner turned to her, his eyes searching her’s. His nervousness was more frightening to herthan she cared to admit. “I don’t admit this freely, Dana, but I don’t know where to go from here.”

“I do.” Scully said, squaring her shoulders and walking to her coat as it lay neatly across the desk chair. She slid her cell phone from the pocket and flipped it open.

“Frohike. I need to see you guys…Now.”

Chapter Thirty-Six

Mulder wrapped his arms firmer around his knees, his nose rubbing the rough wool of his coat. The stinging from his inflamed nostrils only continued to ache with every swipe and sniff, the metallic taste in his mouth lingering with every swallow.

The sun had begun to slowly rise, allowing miniscule additions of light to infiltrate the scene in Mulder’s cell.

Mulder’s red-rimmed, swollen eyes just stared vacantly at the corpse freezing several feet from him. Where Brian’s handsome face once sat, a maroon, swirled, gnarled knob remained. The black swirl of the virus had slowed, Mulder finding himself thankful for the below-zero temperature that the night had afforded him. The virus had frozen within the tender membrane of Brian’s eyes; before they had literally melted within his skull.

Mulder fought another shiver, swiping at the tears that leaked from his eyes.

One more casuality…

This had happened to Brian because of Mulder’s association with him. This was completely Mulder’s fault.

The photographs of the bodies that had been in Scully’s original file became tangible, an identical replica sitting several feet from him.

Is this what would happen when they came for him?

Mulder exhaled, his numb fingers running along his stubbled jaw. He ducked his head against his forearms, his freezing breath being throw back into his face as it reflected off of his thighs, the staleness of dehydration and sickness lingering around him.

The only comfort that he was allowing himself was the probability that his previous exposure to the virus had possibly given him some immunity. But, he had also never seen the black oil have this affect on it’s victims. Scully’s vaccine had been specifically derived from their eariler encounters with it.

So much for comfort…

Mulder leaned his head back against the damp brick of his cell, again, tightening the grip around his knees. His eyes drifted to the ceiling, the filtered morning light allowing him to see the weathered brick for the first time. He ran his eyes along the perimeter of the cell, noting the archaic way that the wall and ceiling were thrown together belying the buildings extreme age. Cracks throughout the plaster of the ceiling criss-crossed along the spanse of concrete, momentarily concerning Mulder as to the stability of the structure.

As he started to run his eyes back down the far wall, something along the meeting point of the wall and ceiling caught his eye, forcing him to strain his eyes. He blinked and almost thought that the exhaustion was finally getting to him.

Mulder unfolded his body from his perch in the corner and strode across the dark crimson stained floor, his breath no longer puffing in front of him… his body was the same temperature inside as it was on the outside.

He saw faint scrawling on the greying cement, written with charcoal or a thick pencil of some sort.

As Mulder started to focus on the darkened corner of the cell, the unmistakable clank of boots on a steel grate filled the unnerving silence of his cell, causing Mulder’s heart to actually stop within his chest.

They were coming for him, as promised.

Mulder leaned his body against the wall, his eyes trying to adjust to the weak morning light and read the scrawling on the cement, but the angle was wrong. He couldn’t make it out.

As the footsteps began to grow louder, Mulder began to panic, his whole world becoming a laserbeam of purpose. He strode over to the cot and ripped the frozen corpse from the material on the mattress. The body had frozen in place, making a distinct ‘crack’ sound as Mulder tossed it aside and slid the cot into the corner, jumping up and making himself almost eye level with the writing.

The sound of men’s voices bantering back and forth began to bounce off of the walls, almost falling in time with their rhythmic stomp, causing Mulder to feel dizzy with the adrenaline of it all.

His finger reached up to touch the surface, his finger coming back smudged with grey and black. Mulder hopped off of the cot and took the two steps needed to reach Brian’s frozen hands and craned one in front of his eyes. It was smudged with the same black remnants.

Mulder’s pulse quickened and he hopped back onto the cot, the stomps becoming louder and more distinct as the guards approached his cell. He chewed his bottom lip as he tried to back up, willing the slivers of morning light in his cell to reach these far corners in record time.

It was just too dark still.

These words were his ticket out. He was positive.

The deadbolts slid open of his cell and Mulder immediately slid down onto the cot, his back burning as it made contact with the cement wall and came down to sit in an awkward crosslegged style.

“Mr. Mulder?” a man asked as the heavy steel door swung open and two beams of flashlights filled the room with a piercing light.

Mulder just sat in the corner, the wall he was on adjorning to the wall where the door was, holding his breath and trying his hardest to not vomit.

“Ah, there you are.” said a man in a white lab coat, the thick German accent filtering within the small room. The soldier he was with still had his flashlight on Brian’s frozen corpse. “I guess your friend was not so lucky, eh?” the doctor asked Mulder, his eyes being hidden behind the light.

Mulder remained quiet and fought the tremor that was twisting into his gut.

He felt their hands grip his upper arms as the two men tried to hoist him off of the bed. The soldier had placed his flashlight in the crook of his free arm and the beam flashed along the ceiling for several seconds, Mulder only allowing his eyes to follow the light upward.

As the men began dragging a limp Mulder out of the cell door, Mulder saw the lines and lines of script covering the ceiling of the cell, Brian’s trademark scrawl covering every inch of the cement.

Brian had written an entire letter to Mulder before he had been taken away.

Despite the hundreds of words that spread out before him as he was carried over the threshold of the cell, only one word lit up as if it was being lit with neon:

Scully.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

“The last activity with his phone was a call to you about 9 am their time, yesterday.” Frohike stated, his fingers flying across the keyboard. “Looks like he called you and then that was the last he was seen, except for the security tape.”

“He never called me.” Scully stated quickly. She simultaneously reached into her pocket and grabbed her phone. She flipped it open and began searching her call records. “Nothing is coming up.”

“Says he was on the phone for over two minutes. The standard ring before a voice mail is about 30 seconds. You sure you dont have a message?” Langley asked, turning to look at her in his chair, an arrant cheese doodle crunching between his teeth.

“I didn’t get any notification.” she mumbled as she pressed “1” and dialed her voicemail.

“You have one new voice message.” the automated voice told her. Scully’s eyes widened as she strained to listen. She turned away from the men who stared at her, anxious energy rolling off of them. Skinner turned to look at the far wall.

She walked into the adjoining room and placed a finger into her ear, Mulder’s graveled alto drifting into her consciousness.

A prickle of tears sprang to her eyes as she listened.

“Scully, it’s me. I know you are pissed and you have every right to me. But something just dawned on me and… and I fucked up the other night. I let Skinner bully me into doing things his way, not our way. That’s the big secret to all of this Scully. It’s not my way anymore. It’s OUR way. And I am a prick for not realizing it. And I am so sorry for hurting you and not letting you make those decisions.” There was a brief pause during the message.

“Ugh, I gotta go. Brian and I are switching the plan up a bit, but, uh… I love you, Scully. I will call you tonight.”

Scully made an audible sob as she hit “repeat” and listened to Mulder’s light voicemail again. She closed her eyes and held her phone to her chest.

She could have answered it when he called. She could have talked him out of this. She could have reversed this whole fucking thing…

“Scully?” Byers asked quietly, a gentle hand resting on her shoulder. She refused to turn around, her sweaty palm still gripping the cell phone.

“You didn’t know he had called. This is in no way your fault.” he said, his hand warm and calming against her coat.

She turned around and met his eyes, not afraid to hide the emotion and fear that was gnawing at her heart. She walked into his open embrace, the tears falling freely as she burrowed into the lapel of his perfectly pressed suit.

To his credit, Byers said nothing, just held her as she sobbed, hours of pent up energy and emotion finally breaking through her exterior.

“We have to find him, Byers.” she whispered, stepping back and wiping her nose with the back of her hand. “We have to.”

“We will.” Byers offered, though his eyes weren’t as confident as his words. “We just have to pinpoint where to start looking.”

Skinner stuck his head into the doorway, his eyes averting the scene before him. “Scully? We need you in here.” he said softly.

Scully backed away stiffly and squared her shoulders, her game face sliding into place. She briefly met Byers’ eyes, a small smile being shared between them before she strode into the war room, newly energized with purpose.

“We are pretty positive that they are not still in the hospital. Thanks to some keys left on Brian’s laptop, we can hack into the security cameras and it is business as usual.” Frohike explained, the screens before them lighting up with the security cameras from the Czech hospital.

“Can I watch the camera angle from where they walked in to the hopsital again? That side of the building was restricted when I went in. I just feel like that angle is what we need to look at.” she stated firmly, her eyes darting between the different angles of the camera.

“Will do.” Frohike said assuredly as he brought up the hour of Mulder and Brian entering the facility. Scully saw the two men walking up to the door, pausing to talk in the shadows and then nothing after they entered the buildings.

After several minutes of them staring at the lapsed time of the video, Skinner was the first to speak.

“There is nothing that happens on this angle of the tape for the next several hours Scully. By then, it is so dark with the shadows of the building its impossible to see.” He didn’t hide the exasperation from his voice.

“But, don’t you find it odd that absolutely NOTHING happens on this side of the building for the rest of the day? I bet if we rewound the security tapes to any previous day, nothing would have happened at this entrance then either.”

“Yeah, the only thing is that there are deliveries behind this side of the building and different points on random days. We have watched several days prior up to today and there is not much of anything.” Frohike supplied.

“What do you mean, deliveries?” SCully asked, her eyes narrowing at Frohike’s, her cheeks flushing with adrenaline.

“The hospital deliveries happen on the east side of the building. You can see the trucks loading and unloading on the corner of the screen.. uh, here.” Langley stated, fast-forwarding the tape to the day in question. Sure enough, the large military styled trucks sidled up to the rear of the building, the coverings just barely visable in the camera’s view.

“No… No, that isn’t right. I took pictures of that when Paloma and I accepted some supplies the day I was there.” Scully walked over to the classified file and flipped through the pictures stored there. “See?” she held the picture up of the white medical van that had left the facility on the western side, the sun brightly shining on the vehicle. Though taken from the second floor of the hospital, the van was clearly leaving out of the opposite side from where Mulder and Brian had entered.

“But, Scully. It’s an insanely busy hospital. I’m sure multiple delieveries would be made there on a daily basis.” Skinner supplied, squinting his eyes to the screen.

“Langley, can you get me a roster or inventory on what was delievered the day that Brian and Mulder went missing? Times, drop off locations, anything?” Scully asked, her nails tapping on the slick surface of the boys’ desk.

“I can definitely try.” he replied, instantly going to work, beeps and clicks accompaning his mumbles to himself.

“This is our loophole. I can feel it.” Scully mumbled to herself, her hands trembling with the excitement of a good catch.

“I got it, I just have to wait until it translates… didn’t pass Czech in high school…” Frohike chuckled, his gloved fingers tapping on the arms of his chair. Scully walked up behind him and placed her hands at the back of Frohike’s chair her eyes glued to the monitor in front of them.

“Yeah, Scully. You were right. Looks like all of the delieveries that are logged for that day were accepted at the western entrance, all delievered by a company called “Nemocnice dodavky”.” Frohike stated, catching onto Scully’s discovery.

“And it’s the same white van as in your pictures.” Byers piped up, the company’s website up on his monitor.

“So what were those trucks doing on the west side of the facility?” Skinner asked, his eyes watching Scully closely.

“I’m not sure….” Scully said quietly. “But I am pretty sure that is the key to finding Mulder. He definitley isn’t at the hospital anymore.” she said, fear and excitement bubbling up in her stomach.

“I guess we need to get to the Republic.” Frohike half asked, half stated, his eyes turning towards Scully.

“How soon can we get there?”

After several clicks, Langley chimed in. “We can board within the hour, if we hurry.”

“I’ll grab my coat.” Scully said, as she strode out of the room.

Chapter Thirty-Eight

“Please state your name.”

Mulder’s only answer was a series of coughs that wracked his chest.

“Get this man some water, please.” the doctor called over his shoulder. A solider appeared quickly with a cup, holding it to Mulder’s broken lips. His lips stilled against the cup, sealing his mouth. It took every ounce of will power he could muster in order to not drink the tantalizing liquid.

“Please drink it. They are the ones keeping rations from you, not me.” the doctor pleaded, his eyes hidden by the reflection in his glasses.

Mulder opened his mouth minimally, the cool liquid filling his opening. He held it in his mouth momentarily, the guard looking at him expectantly. Mulder turned his face slightly and spat the liquid all over the solider standing to his right.

The right hook caught Mulder on the jaw, causing him to see stars in the brightly lit room. His surroundings spun around him, his bound hands gripping the metal chair that he sat in.

“Why must you do that, Mr. Mulder? We are merely seeking information, nothing more.” the doctor said, his German accent chilling Mulder more than the frigid temperature in the room.

“Yeah, I’ve seen what you do to people that don’t give you what you want.” Mulder growled, his eyes still trying to focus.

“Mr. Mulder, your collegue was of no consequence to us. We needed a test subject and we asked him a series of questions. He gave us the wrong answers. He was of the wrong genetic make-up to be truly useful to us.” the doctor stated simply, stepping into the light of the lab.

Mulder was finally able to see straight and took in the man before him. The doctor was young, maybe a bit older than Mulder, with salted hair and round rimmed glasses.

“How do I know that I won’t give you the wrong answers?” Mulder asked, pictures of Brian’s mutilated body flashing before his eyes.

“We are only looking for the truth, Mr. Mulder.” the doctor stated calmly as he walked towards Mulder with a syringe, the clear liquid glittering underneath the flourescent lamps. “This will help us get to that truth.” he stated, sliding the fine needle beneath the skin of Mulder’s right forearm. Mulder arched against the restraints, growling under the sharp prick in his arm. He could feel the cool liquid spreading throughout his veins, nesting a palpable panic in the pit of his stomach.

“Sodium Pentothal?” Mulder asked.

“Just a bit, to help us along here.” the doctor replied, stepping back behind a computer. Mulder looked to his right and saw the red light of a video recorder glaring back at him.

“What is it that I can help you with?” Mulder asked, courage flaring up from somewhere unknown. He kept thinking of the words scrawled on the ceiling of his cell. He just needed to get through this dog and pony show and get back into the solitude of his cell.

Then he could make a game plan.

The doctor smiled behind the monitor, a slight nod showing his approval.

“Please state your name.”

“Fox William Mulder.”

“Please state your birthday.”

“October 13, 1961.”

“Good, Mr. Mulder. Very Good. Now, please state your occupation.”

Mulder stretched against the back of the chair, feeling, for the first time the sticky adhesive of the chest monitors stuck across his rib cage. They were gauging his reactions to the questions.

“I am a criminal psychologist.” Mulder partially lied, not sure what he was supposed to say, but feeling a sudden whoosh within the consciousness of his head.

“Mr. Mulder… What do you really do?” the doctor asked patiently.

“I am a criminal profiler with the FBI.” Mulder heard himself say, his mouth gaping as the words left his mouth.

“Much better. Thank you. Now, what were you doing at the hopsital on the day that we brought you to this facility?”

Mulder paused, suddenly not clearly remembering the past 24 hours. It was almost as if his brain was working on complete autopilot.

“Mr. Mulder, we do not like to be kept waiting. Your friend kept us waiting.” the doctor stated plainly, a new edge filtering into his voice.

“Um, Scully had found a room in the main research lab that she believed housed bodies that have been infected with a virus.” Mulder reported, perfectly reciting the events. He began to sweat, the information pouring from his consciousness making him nervous.

The next question was inevitable.

“And who is ‘Scully’?” the doctor asked evenly.

Mulder sat quietly, panic setting in. He willed his mouth to say shut. “Please please please” he whispered, his eyes closing, rivelets of sweat beading down the sides of his face.

“Mr. Mulder. Who is ‘Scully’?”

“She is my partner at the FBI.” Mulder replied, quickly. He found himself gasping for breath, as if he had just run a marathon. He was having a battle of wills within himself and the exertion was terrifying.

The doctor sighed from behind the computer and stepped from behind it, the bright overhead lights causing a flash as they reflected off of the doctor’s glasses.

He sighed and clucked his tounge before he spoke, as if admonishing a young child.

“Mr. Mulder. Perhaps I asked the wrong question. We know who she is, but we need to know who she is to YOU. She is very important to you, no?”

Mulder remained as silent as he could, the salt of the sweat seeping into his squinting eyes and stinging on contact.

“We could just ask her, when she gets here. We will find out now or later; from you or her.”

Mulder’s eyes flew open, his body arching against his restraints.

“No! No, no, no, no. Please do not do anything to her. I swear to God, if you do anything…” Mulder began, but was interupted by the doctor.

“You’ll what? Kill us all? Make us rue the day?” he chuckled, his hand going to hold Mulder’s chin, stilling his fighting body. “I honestly do not think you are in any position to make threats, Mr. Mulder. You Americans think that everything will be bent to your will by using violence. When it’s the scientists of the world, Mr. Mulder. The brains behind the braun that will eventually save mankind. Your Scully, would agree with me, no?” he asked, a twisted smile gracing his features.

“Why does it matter what Scully is to me? What difference does that make?”

“Well, she is obviously more to you than just your partner at work. I mean, your heart rate reached hypertensive levels by my just mentioning her coming here. So, whether your brain accepts it or not, your body certanly has a reaction to the mere speaking of her name. I am only here to gain information, as I mentioned before. I have been honest with you up to this point and yet, you insist on stalling and answering questions with more questions.” The doctor turned and began walking back towards his computer, slightly shaking his head. “You are Jewish, Mr. Mulder. Correct?”

Mulder stilled, his eyebrows raising in a silent challenge. “Ethinically, not practicing.” he snapped, feeling a new rush of gumption course through his chest, his heart rate slowing to normal and his eyes seeing clearly for the first time since he had been punched minutes before.

“Well, I have given you enough time to answer my questions and you refuse. We will just ask her when she arrives. Thank you, Mr. Mulder.” the doctor stated clinically, overhead lights shutting off and the sounds of generators being powered down filling his ears.

“WAIT! WAIT! PLEASE! I’LL ANSWER YOUR GODDAMNED QUESTIONS!” Mulder wailed, somewhere between a growl and a scream. “PLEASE!” His voice was bouncing back at him in the hollow room, the dim remnants of the florescence slowly fading out, gradually leaving Mulder completely alone in the gathering darkness.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

“Do you know how amazing you look in that skirt, Scully? I mean, I haven’t gotten a damn thing done all day because of that skirt.” Mulder growled, the warmth of his body behind hers causing her to feel lightheaded momentarily.

She placed the file she was holding on her desk, leaning over ever so slightly so that her ass purposefully backed into Mulder’s hip, his fingers flexing against her hipbones.

She didn’t miss his sharp intake of breath at the contact.

“I didn’t realize this skirt was a bad decision.” Scully replied, turning her face slightly so that he was staring at her profile. “It matches the jacket.”

“That it does.” Mulder whispered. He slid his hands up her frozen arms and linked his long fingers in the shoulders of her blazer, sliding it off of her arms. The rustle of silk meeting cotton was the only sound in Scully’s ears besides the harsh rhythm of Mulder’s breathing.

Scully’s internal voice of reason was screaming at her, all sorts of clandestined alarms blaring in her head. It had been a short two weeks since their first kiss and their deep admission of mutual love that changed both of their lives completely. But, ripping each other’s clothes off in the middle of their office at 2pm on a Thursday was still forcefully pulling off the center of her moral compass.

She knew that the decision to “take things slow” and hold off on the physical part of their relationship had been a noble cause, but if Mulder sucked the salt off of one more goddamned sunflower seed, Scully was going to explode, leaving a neat, orderly pile of ash in her chair.

Mulder was slowly running his nose up the spanse of skin between her shoulder and the new, shorter margin of her hair, his hot breath whispering down the satin of her blouse. Despite said alarms, her body was starting to respond to Mulder’s close proximity.

And from the poking sensation in her hip, Mulder’s body was responding as well.

“Mulderrr…” she spoke slowly, warning, knowing if she turned to face him, she would be playing roulette with her reaction. She would either shut him down, brush him off, and return to pulling receipts for their expense report or she would catch the swirl of gold in the hazel of his eyes and let him back her into her desk, wrapping a thigh-high clad leg around his hip and hearing ripped buttons bounce along the cement floor.

“You don’t know what you do to me sometimes, Scully.” Mulder whispered, his lips lightly gracing the shell of her left ear. “And now that I know that I can say these things to you… It’s a wonder I can even operate the elevator.”

Scully exhaled, not realizng she was holding her breath. She felt him nuzzle the place where his lips just vacated and his hands started to drift down her thighs, his fingers toying with the edge of her skirt. He began to slowly inch the J.Crew fabric up, the backs of his knuckles dragging along the nylon material of her hips.

And all she could do was just stand there and blush, shamelessly.

“I just want to see what you have on underneath this, Scully. Okay? I feel like if I can at least see it in person, I may be able to continue our pact to take this slowly.”

Scully slid her hands down, covering Mulder’s as they continued their trek northward. He stilled, his breath holding, his chest rising and falling in shallow repetition.

He backed away from her a millimeter, the tension between them changing slightly.

“I’m sorry, Scully. You asked to take it slow and I am…” he started, pulling her skirt back down, but her hands forcefully stilled his.

“It’d be easier to pull it up if I faced you.” she purred, suddenly surprised at the wanton sex kitten that had taken up temporary residence in her head. She spun around, her ass sitting on the shelf of her desk and Mulder’s hands finding their way to her waist. She reached her hands down to the edge of her skirt and found her breath hitching in her throat. Mulder’s eyes were glued to the hem sliding up her thighs, his full lower lip worried between his teeth and his eyes hooded, dangerous.

Mulder slid down in front of her, crouching on the balls of his feet, his eyes level with her waist. As she continued to inch the fabric up, Mulder took one of her calves in his hand and placed his lips on the inside of her leg, kissing his way upwards. He turned his eyes upward, meeting hers as his tongue snuck out to lick the cream nylon at the inside of her knees. Scully found her self completely mesmerized, her eyes locked on his, her hot breath puffing in front of her lips, popping a strand of dark red hair back and forth from her lips.

Her skirt finally reached her upper thigh, revealing the lacey top of her stockings and a small sliver of white skin between the hem of her skirt and the elastic.

Mulder sucked in a huge gulp of breath, his mouth frozen against the spot above her knee.

“Scullyyy…” he whispered in bewilderment, skipping a good 6 inches of nylon covered skin and stuck his searing tongue in between the elastic of the lace stocking and the inside of her thigh. The fingers of Scully’s right hand found themselves wound up in Mulder’ dark, spikey hair, his lips making smacking sounds against her wet skin. In a sudden flash of humility, Scully used her left hand to push her skirt between her legs, hiding the junction of her thighs and the scrap of material between them.

Mulder, his mouth still working her right inner thigh, grabbed her left hand and planted it firmly on the desk that she sat on, further bunching the skirt up and laying her almost completely exposed before him. He inhaled deeply, making a show of appreciation and looked up at her, his eyes an even darker green than before, the pupil almost taking over the entire color in its dialation.

Scully couldn’t stifle the moan that filtered from her lips at his stare, her body completely under his spell. As cliche as that was, she wasnt able to remember where they were, what they had been doing… her body was thrumming, calling, pulsing… She was only reacting.

At the animalistic sound coming from her lips, Mulder stood quickly, yanking at his tie to loosen it from his neck and reached for her in one quick motion, his long arm wrapping around her back and scooting her to the very edge of the desk. Her chest was heaving shamelessly, her nipples erect to the point of near pain. She knew her skin was flushed and felt the familiar rush of wetness settle between her legs. She arched against the support of his arm, thrusting her chest into his, both of their breathing ragged and quick.

Then, Mulder ran two fingers down the front of her lips, pulling her bottom one down in the process, in a decidedly erotic gesture, his hand gripping her jawline and closing the gap between them.

Their lips met in a fury, hard and crushing.

“I’m not going to be able to stop, Scully.” Mulder mumbled against her mouth, his hands gripping her rib cage. Scully’s answer was another crushing kiss, tasting salt and coffee comingled around his lips.

Scully felt Mulder fully step in between her legs, his protruding erection now poking her inner thigh, exactly where she was practically to the point of begging for it to be. Mulder slid both of his hands underneath her, bunching her skirt high on her hips and her ass coming in contact with the ice cold shalack of the desk. She opened her legs wider, giving Mulder more room to get closer to her.

His long fingers were lightly tracing their way up her inner thing, finally finding purchase with the elastic of her panties, his nail scratching its way inside of the material, causing Scully to break the kiss, begging for air as she arched against Mulder again, grunting in response to his merciless tease.

Mulder and Scully both froze, his finger lingering in the humidity of her thighs and her fingers slipping buttons from buttonholes.

“Agent Scully. You received a package that requires a signature. It’s from the morgue.” a muffled female voice floated into the room, the smell of sex and want lingering suspiciously around them.

“Shit.” Scully mumbled, sliding off of the desk into Mulder’s outstretched arm, helping her steady herself as she tugged her skirt down and he adjusted himself through his trousers.

Scully glanced up, catching Mulder’s downcast eyes as she hastily tucked in her blouse. A small smile found its way to her mouth, mirroring the one that had found its way to his.

She reached out and lightly grazed his fingers as she walked towards the door, but he caught her by surprise and brought her fingertips to his lips, her arm completely outstretched as her other hand rested on the office doorknob.

“You were definitley worth the wait.” he whispered, his eyes shining and his voice honey over gravel. With that, he dropped her hand and went to his desk, using the guise of paper work to help hide the erection that was refusing to disappear.

Scully placed her fingertips to her lips in quiet reveire as she turned the knob to answer the door and sign for the random test result she had ordered.

“Scully? We will be landing in a few minutes and Skinner wants to go over our next couple of steps.” Byers said quietly as he stuck his head through the separating curtain of the jet’s two compartments. Scully had opted to sit quietly alone while her male companions had decided to dine on mini bottles and 8$ bags of Doritos.

Scully shook her head slightly, shaking the warm haze of the vivid memory from her mind, feeling gooseflesh rampantly breaking out over her skin from the sensations. Had that really been only a few short months ago? Where their most pressing issues to deal with were who’s apartment they would eat at that night and who would make sure the movie got returned?

Granted, Mulder had just avoided certain death by way of a car accident and had found his way back from amnesia days before, but still, they were whole… and together.

Now, she was flying over mile and mile of frozen landscape armed with nothing but an engagement ring around her neck and a quickly formed group of well-meaning misfits.

Scully took several deep breaths, trying to return her skin to the temperature that it should be, not what it was after her trip down memory lane, and stepped into the main cabin of the jet.

All eye were on her.

“You alright?” Skinner asked, gesturing to the chair to his left. The guys all had their laptops out, perched on their laps, waiting for her command.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” she replied, not completely meeting his eyes. “I just want to get this over with.”

“Well, we figured our best bet would be to work from the inside out.” Frohike started, his gloved fingers pulling up diagrams of the hospital for her to see. “We would just start from where Mulder and Brian were last seen and work with what we are given from that vantage point.”

“I was thinking something a little more quick.” Scully stated, her eyes focusing on the monitor. “I feel we have already lost enough time. God knows what is being done to him.”

“Well, we don’t have a lot to go off of, so…” Langley supplied.

Scully looked Skinner in the eye, drawing off of his nerve before she slid the final piece of the puzzle into place.

“I was thinking of using some bait, so that we could be possibly led to where they are keeping Mulder.”

“What kind of bait would they risk their whole operation on?” Byers asked, hesitancy in his voice.

Scully dipped her head, her elbows resting on her knees. She turned her face back towards Byers, her eyebrows raised, expelling the air in her lungs.

“Me.”

Chapter Forty

“PLEEEEASE! COME ON! IM READY TO TALKKK!” Mulder screamed, his arms piercing against the restraints. He was sitting in the hollow room in almost complete darkness, the only illumination being the little red light on the video camera, still recording.

A series of coughs assaulted him, crocodile tears leaking down his cheeks.

“Come on, Mulder. Think.” he said quietly, swiveling his head from side to side, willing his eyesight to instantly improve in the darkness.

His wrists were tightly cuffed to the chair, which apparently was bolted to the floor. His feet were clad only in his soaked socks and bound to the legs.

He was completely immobilized.

Why in the hell did that doctor keep alluding to Scully showing up here? He didn’t even know where he was and was pretty positive no one else knew either. Mulder began to try to clearly break down how many days he had been at the facility, but the periods of unconciousness that had accompanied his stay were making it impossible. He knew he had seen at least one sunrise… That gave him a sliver of hope. If he hadn’t been missing for very long, then the window of opportunity for someone to find him was still open.

But, he thought, he could do without that person being Scully.

Mulder began to replay as much as he could remember about the past few days… Brian mentioning ‘them’ finishing what they had started with Scully; Scully being tried for treason… Actually, all of this was beginning to seem like some huge orchestrated event… right down to his quick trip to an alternate reality, keeping him out of the way and Scully unprotected. Luckily, her brilliance had saved him yet again, and inadvertantly, saved her too.

But, this was a detainment straight from the source. There was no fancy illusion to distract all parties involved. These men had set a trap, one that involved both he and Scully thousands of miles away from any kind of safety net, and they had walked right into it.

And apparently, Scully was heading straight for him.

“Fuck.” Mulder mumbled, arching against the steel chair again, the steel of the cuffs cutting into the tender flesh of his wrists, growling at the frustration of it all.

“HELLOOOO!!!” he screamed again, his voice being thrown back at him in all different directions. “Please..” he spoke, his voice breaking.

Panic was starting to settle in, the irony of feeling claustraphobia in such a large room certainly not lost on Mulder.

“Screaming isn’t going to do a damn bit of good, Mulder. You should realize that by now… Save your strength.”

Mulder’s head snapped up, his eyes narrowing and his jaw falling slack. He was stunned into silence.

“Why do you insist on fighting everything and everyone regardless of the greater good? If they can get this right, there will be zero chance of colonization.”

Mulder continued to stare into nothing.

“No…. It can’t be you…” he whispered to himself, his eyes scanning the dark area where the voice was slicing through the emptyness.

A dark chuckle prempted the click of black boots on the slick floor. Alex Krycek stepped into the center of the room, the red light of the camcorder casting a crimson relief over his dark features. His black eyes caught Mulder’s, a smirk fixed itself on his lips.

“Ah, the believer has finally become the skeptic.”

Chapter Forty-One

Scully sat at the gate of the hopsital, the truck rumbling beneath her legs as she waited. It had started to snow again, the grey of the sky almost melding into the line of the Earth.

It was the kind of day that she would stay inside, eating tomato soup and feeding Ritz crackers to Mulder as he lay his head in her lap.

She shook her head to shake the memory from her mind, wanting to keep clear and sharp when the guard returned to the station.

“You are cleared, Dr. Samson. Please park in the lot to the right, enter through the front door.” the young man said curtly, the Czech accent clipping the words swiftly.

Scully nodded, avoiding eye contact as she tapped the gas of her truck, revving up the snow covered incline.

“Well that was easy.” she said quietly, turning her head to the reciever lodged on the inside of her scarf.

“Yeah, that was the easy part.” she heard Frohike in her ear. “Now, I would suggest that you park and go in where the guard suggested, just to not draw unwanted attention on the outside. This place is better guarded then the Pentagon.”

Scully pulled into a vacant parking space and killed the engine, exhaling slowly as she flexed her fingers against the steering wheel.

“Mulder is never going to forgive me for this.” she heard Skinner mumble in her ear.

“Man, your mike is on.” Langley whispered, causing Scully to smile, despite the dire situation.

“Shit.” Skinner whispered.

“Sir, this is my decision and the only one that will get them back. This is not on you. We went over this.” Scully said with finality, hoping she was getting through to Skinner. He and Byers had fought her tooth and nail to get her to change her mind. But, she had strongly fought to be used as bait and was really sure of her decision a few short hours ago.

Now, a part of her was wishing they had come up with another plan.

And yes, when they found Mulder, he was going to be furious.

“I’m heading in.” She said, sliding onto the frozen pathway.

“Go get ’em, Tiger.” Langley leered, the mike cracking from the volume.

Scully stiffled a roll of the eyes when she heard a “Growl” from Frohike.

Scully walked into the front door, showing her ‘badge’ to the young woman at the front desk. She waved her through and smiled a sincere smile. Scully smiled back and headed for the left hallway, the one that would have been adjacent to the entrance that Mulder and Brian disappeared behind on the surveilence tape.

“Dr. Samson?”

Scully froze and spun back around, the hairs on the back of her neck rising in panic.

“Yes?”

The girl from the front desk was hurrying to her from her post, confusion replacing the simple smile from a few moments ago.

“Dr. Samson. The research facility is upstairs, floor two. This wing is strictly prohibited.” she answered quickly, her English surprisingly adept.

“Oh my goodness! I am so sorry! I thought it was down this way!” Scully gushed, smiling a wide smile and placing her hand greatfully on the girl’s arm.

“No problem! I should have told you when you came in. My fault!”

Scully nodded her appreciation as she broke from the chummy girl and headed for the elevators, rolling her eyes in the process.

They were going to have to do this the hard way.

“Well, Plan A didn’t work.” she heard Byers whisper. “We can see you perfectly on the security cameras, Scully.”

Scully nodded as she entered onto the crowded elevator, smiling quietly as she made eye contact with the various patients making their way to the research lab on the second floor.

Scully exited the elevator quickly as it “dinged”, walking quickly for the women’s restroom to the right of the lift bay.

She walked into the dimly lit bathroom, quickly popping each of the stall doors as she walked, checking for any unwanted ears or eyes. When all was clear, she unraveled her scarf and held the little microphone in her hand.

“You guys can’t see in here, right?” Scully asked, her breath coming faster from exertion.

“Sadly, no.” Frohike said. She heard the punch through the speaker and the subsequent “OW!” from Frohike.

Skinner did not like the sexist comments directed at Scully. He and Bill would get along swimmingly.

“Well if you can’t see me, that means no one else can either.” she said, instantly feeling naked without the weight of her gun at her back. “You guys watch the entrance till I can get changed.”

“Will do.” Byers said noblely.

Scully peeled off her doctor’s jacket and pulled the tight black pullover she had been wearing around her waist, over her head. She stuffed her black gloves and hat in the kangaroo pouch in the front and reconnected her mike and earpiece and re-tied her boots, tucking her black leggings into the heavy socks at her ankles.

She stood back up and looked in the mirror, eyebrows raising in approval. Mulder was right: she did look sexy in black.

Scully strode to the door, dumping her lab coat and badge in the wall trashcan, and reached for the door.

“Uh, Scully… You’ve got company.” Langly quickly said, rustling coming from their end.

“What?” Scully asked as the bathroom door swung open, startling her and causing her to step backwards.

Scully couldn’t hide the shock in her face as she stumbled backwards after almost running face first into the ample chest of Ava, whose narrow eyes honed in on Scully’s startled face.

“I guess he rubbed off on you more than I had thought.” Ava said as she grabbed Scully’s arm and hauled her out of the bathroom.

Chapter Forty-Two

“So, you working for the Czechs now, Krycek?” Mulder asked, his teeth worrying the inside of his cheek. Krycek looked up and smiled again, his boots clicking on the cement as he walked around Mulder’s solitary chair.

“I don’t work for anyone. I lend my services to those who need it… again, for the greater good. Something you could learn a thing or two about, Mulder.”

“What services have you lent these bastards, Krycek? They are infecting people with that virus. Did you know that? They are taking American soldiers and infecting them!” Mulder was trying to crane his neck around backwards, wanting to keep his eye on Krycek at all times but failing miserably.

“They are testing virulent strains, Mulder. This group of doctors is the closest that anyone… ANYONE has gotten to beating every mutation this virus can come up with.” Krycek inched closer to the back of Mulder’s chair and rested his good hand on the top of his shoulder.

“And you will be the first in line once they finally get the perfect vaccine.” Mulder stated, staring straight ahead. The leather of Krycek’s jacket assaulted Mulder’s nose and it was making him a little light headed.

“That’s the plan. I do some background work for them, they give me the version that works.”

Mulder nodded his head slowly, shrugging off Krycek’s cold hand as he began to see all of this more clearly.

“Leave it to a Nazi doctor to save the world.” he huffed, his heart starting to beat with the click of Krycek’s boots as he walked around to face Mulder.

“Yeah, I thought you’d pick up on that. If your blood wasn’t so incredibly valuable to them, they’d have shot you in the forehead before you even left the hospital. But, alas, Spender ensured you would be indisposable.”

“What about my blood would help them, if the virus has started mutating? Scully and I are only vaccinated against the first strain.”

Krycek clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, his eyes gathering a far-away look.

“Ah… The brilliant Dr. Scully. Now, she is a different animal all together, isn’t she? Actually, according to what I have heard, she is quite the ‘animal’… eh, Mulder?” Krycek winked at him, his leer dripping with disdain causing Mulder to arch against the chair in fury, growling against his teeth.

“Shut. up. Krycek.” Mulder spat, sweat starting to bead at his hair line. He was either breaking out in fever or the trembling was from sheer restraint.

“I’m just saying, Mulder. If she is as dangerous in the sack as she is with a gun, I bet the sex is fucking amazing.”

“SHUT. UP.”

“Or what?” he laughed. “Mulder, you two are so far in over your heads that…well, let’s just say that this is not going to end well, for either of you. You will end up like your buddy in your cell and Scully will remain a lab rat for the rest of her life… unless that chip comes out of her neck… Then she’ll be dead by the end of the week. I’m not exactly sure which avenue they are looking to explore once she gets here.”

Mulder felt his heart slow to nothing, his body going even colder and his mouth drying out instantly.

“Krycek, please… Please don’t let her come here. If you have a goddamned shred of decencey, you will turn her around…”

“Mulder, I would be basically trading my life for her’s if I did that… and we both know that ain’t gonna’ happen.” Krycek scoffed, walking away from Mulder into the pitch darkness, his voice carrying as he walked. “This is inevitable. You brought her into this and it will be what kills her, eventually. But, these people will get their answers and she does not have to be conscious or consenting for them to do it.”

Mulder felt hot tears start to streak down his cheeks. It was absolutely everything that lurked in his darkest nightmares being thrown at him at one time.

And what was worse?

He believed every word of it.

“Krycek?” Mulder called, weakly, scanning the darkness, trying to follow the direction the bastard’s voice was coming from. Krycek appeared again in the red light of the camcorder holding two objects. The dim light relfected off of the metal in one hand, the glass in his his prosthetic.

“We will just finish this up…” he said, placing the syringe carefully between his teeth and wrapping the tournaquette tightly around Mulder’s bicep. Mulder wiggled and fought, fear warring with rage inside of him, the verge of pleading tipping on the edge of his tongue.

Krycek squirted a bit of the liquid into the air, expelling the plunger slightly. The droplets of liquid caught the red light in a crimson waterfall that held Mulder’s attention with laser beam focus.

“What is that? Krycek? What in the hell is that?” Mulder asked, valliantly trying to back away from the impending needle.

Mulder called out as the needle pierced his skin, the dark promise of the contents in the syringe causing heart breaking sobs to pour from Mulder’s throat.

“Just enough to make a point.” Kryceck said, tossing the syringe behind him and taking the metal object into his good hand as the light flashed off of it.

He placed the key into the locks of the cuffs and unclipped them, the small tinkering sounds bouncing off of the vacant walls with amazing dexterity.

Mulder began to question what kind of moron would unlock him against a one-armed man, but his head lulled, a whoosh of dizziness assaulting his brain. He reached up to rub his wounded wrists and began to not feel his hands anymore, his fingers going completely numb.

“Kryce…” Mulder started, but his tongue felt as if it had doubled in size, his mouth tingling and numbing as well. Krycek reached his good arm behind Mulder’s shoulder blades and helped him stand, causing the world to shift again and a wave of nausea to pummel him.

Just as they began to take small steps away from the lone chair, a door to the back of the lab swung open, banging against the metal wall.

“Alex? Are you in here? They said to bring her straight here.” Ava’s clipped british accent sounded infinitely loud as the waves found their way to Mulder’s ears.

“Yeah, Ava. We’re coming.” Alex mummbled, his weight trying to support Mulder’s taller frame, but Mulder was losing functionality at an exponential rate.

He felt her rather than saw her. Mulder looked up, his vision swimming, the light from the hallway illuminating that corner of the room, red light and blue light swirling together at a dizzing pace.

“Scully?” he whispered, taking a lone step towards her, seeing the Mag .457 that Ava had trained at her temple and the blood trickling from her mouth.

He reached up and wiped his nose, missing a few times until he made contact. The dark liquid smeared across his fingers was the last thing he remembered seeing before everything went black.

Scully’s scream was the last thing he heard.

Chapter Forty-Three

Mulder felt the chill wrack his body, shaking him into consciousness, though he tried to mentally block it. If he could just sleep for a few more minutes…

“Mulder?”

He heard her whisper, felt the cool patter of her finger tips across his cheeks. But, it felt like he was wrapped too tightly in a blanket and couldn’t find the edge to get out. He could hear her, but he couldn’t get to her. And he knew he wasn’t wrapped in anything… he was freezing to death.

“Mulder? Wake up… Please.” Scully whispered again, the sweep of her cold, satin hair brushing across his throat as he felt the weight of her head laying against his chest.

“Sullly?” he slurred as he began to feel his way through the darkness, trying to use her voice as a beacon in the stale blackness. He then heard an extremely loud clanging sound and a man yelling.

“Dr. Scully? Has our patient woken up?”

Some loud creaking, like the hinges of his cell door had made. He heard Scully whisper directly into his ear. “Stay asleep.”

Some rustling sounds and a gloved hand gripping his chin, turning his head from side to side, then releasing it. Luckily, it would have taken way to much strength for Mulder to open his eyes, so staying ‘asleep’ was something he could muster.

But, he had to get to Scully…

“If he doesn’t wake up soon, Dr. Scully, we will have to move on with your phase of the project. So, I would hope he wakes up, if I were you…” the German accent barked. Then more stomping and the creaking door slamming shut again.

He only heard silence.

“Scully?” he tried again, more ennunciated this time. He felt two small hands frame his face moments after he spoke her name, warm puffs of air filtering across his nose.

“Mulder? Can you open your eyes?”

He kept willing his eyes open, but was having a really hard time making anything move upon his command. He felt his brow crease in concentration and then felt Scully run her thumbs across the ridge in his face.

“Don’t try so hard.” she chuckled. “It’s okay. Just relax.”

He used every ounce of strength he could muster to crack his left eye, feeling like it had been glued shut. When he was finally able to focus, the picture before him was yet another photograph his mind would file away in the most memorable moments of his life.

Scully sat before him, on her knees, short red hair whisping around, her big toothy grin making his heart swell with warmth within his chest, despite the subzero temperatures around them.

“Hi.” she whispered, tears brimming her deep blue eyes and her bottom lip being tugged between her pearl white teeth.

“Hi.” he managed, swallowing the metallic taste that was residing in his mouth.

All at once, function began to return to his extremeties, allowing Mulder to move one leadened hand up to cover one of Scully’s freezing ones, turning his face into her other hand to nuzzle the soft skin at her wrist.

“How are you feeling? Is your head hurting?” she asked quietly, brushing sticky strands of his dark hair from his forehead. Mulder thought about it, his eyes slipping closed briefly.

“I’m tired.” he answered honestly, his eyes refocusing on Scully’s concerned face.

“Well, I would imagine so.” she said, smiling quietly. “I’ve checked you out as best as I can in this horrible light. You are running a slight fever and are having some exposure symptoms.”

Mulder just nodded, staring at her as she slipped into clinical mode. He reached up and ran two calloused fingertips down her chin.

“Scully, what are you doing here?” his voice cracked as he asked.

Scully met his eyes fully, blue to green.

“I came to get you.” she said simply, shrugging her shoulder as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Mulder lingered for a beat longer, having a slight concern that his heart would actually burst from his chest, and then propped himself up on the bloodied cot, trying to swing his legs over the side.

“Whoa, Mulder. Take it easy.” she said sternly, her hands gripping his shoulders as he held his head in his hands trying to still the spinning atmosphere swirling around him.

“We gotta get you out of here, Scully.” he said, flexing his extremely sore left arm. Mulder stood and took in his surroundings, sliding the cot against the far wall where a sliver of light was shining against the brick.

“You need to slow down, Mulder. What are you doing?” Scully stood in the middle of the cell, her arms crossed over her chest and her eyes fixed on Mulder’s rampant movements.

Mulder hopped on top of the cot and started running his fingers over the ceiling, pulling them to his face, testing for the charcoal markings that had littered the ceiling before he had been dragged out.

His fingers came back clean.

“Goddamnit!” he growled, jumping off the bed and kicking the metal frame against the brick sending a loud clanging sound to echo throughout the room. “This ceiling had been covered in writing, Scully. Brian had written me an entire message but it is fucking gone. It was my last hope of getting you out of here.” he said in a low voice, his legs gliding him back and forth in the cell, his body constantly in motion.

“Where is Brian?” Scully asked, her eyes not leavning the floor.

Mulder stopped with his back to her, his eyes tracing the dim outline of the greening brick of their cell.

“They killed him. They infected him with the same strain of the virus that those soliders had been infected with in Iraq.” Mulder said quietly, wiping at the suspicious moisture in the corners of his eyes.

“I’m sorry, Mulder.” Scully said quietly, still standing in the center of the cell with her arms defensively wrapped around her small body.

Mulder turned and took the two steps needed to reach her and wrapped his long arms around her shoulders pulling her into his chest and resting his chin against her head.

“It feels so good to hold you.” he whispered, his lips lightly kissing her hairline as she rested her head against his sternum.

“I knew I would find you.” she said, the smile evident in her voice. Mulder pulled back slightly and looked down into her eyes, smiling despite the dire situation that was closing in on them. He took one dirtied hand and tipped her chin up, smiling as her eyes slipped closed in preparation. When his chapped lips met hers, a surge of heat flowed through his body and gave him a jolt of clarity and purpose.

When they parted, resting their foreheads against each other, Mulder fought the cough that was rumbling up through his chest.

“We have got to get you out of here.” he said again. “How long have I been out? Have they done anything to you?”

Sculy stepped back and looked at him, slipping from doctor mode to kitten mode to agent mode in a matter of minutes. No, after Ava knocked me out and brought me here, she and Krycek through us in here together and left. There is a doctor that checks on you periodically, about every 45 minutes or so, and he has been in here three times. They offered me some water but I spit it in the guard’s face…. He didn’t like that.” Scully explained, her eyes looking off a bit at her obvious defiant stance.

Mulder smiled at the picture her explanation painted in his head and pulled her back into a tight embrace. He couldn’t fight the chuckle that was shaking his body, thinking of how he did the same thing hours earlier.

“What?” she asked, looking up at him.

Before he could speak, the sound of several sets of boots clanging on the grates in the hallway filled both their ears, causing them both to freeze, their eyes locked on each other. Mulder’s head began to swivel from side to side, looking for anything to use to ward off the impending intrusion into their cell.

As the deadbolts slid to the side, Mulder grabbed Scully’s upper arm and pulled her behind him, using his body as a shield against what was possibly coming.

“Hey Scully. Can we see you for a minute?” Krycek asked, casually leaning against the door jamb, his eyes taking in her lithe figure dressed in black from head to foot.

“Don’t touch her.” Mulder warned, backing himself and consequently Scully against the wall, sandwiching her with his body.

“It’s either you or her.” Krycek replied in a low voice.

Mulder continued to stare, his eyes narrowing in a challenge and his chest rising and falling rapidly.

“If you take me, you will leave him alone?” Scully asked, stepping out from behind Scully, slipping out of his grasping hands.

“For now, yes.” Krycek said, smiling despite himself.

Scully took another step towards Krycek as the two associate guards grabbed Mulder and hauled him hard against the brick wall, pinning him there as he watched Scully turn and smile at him quietly before she walked out of the cell, Krycek hot on her heels.

He couldn’t help screaming her name as she walked.

Chapter Forty-Four

Scully had been gone for just under 45 minutes before she was returned to their cell, walking on her own two feet and rubbing her left arm vigorously. Framed between the two massive guards, she looked positiviely juvenile, but she kept her shoulders squared and her chin up.

After they pulled the door closed and the echo of metal clashing against metal finshed clanging throughout the hallways, Mulder stopped pacing and rested his hands on his narrow hips, his eyebrows reaching skyward.

He stood in the middle of the room, watching her, the only movement coming from her was her right hand as it rubbed a sore spot on her left arm.

Her eyes remained fixated on a distant spot on the floor, her jaw set in concentration.

“Scully?” he asked tentatively, venturing a step closer to her. “Scully, did they hurt you?”

“I’m fine.” she said quietly, her eyes still fixated on the spot in front of her. Mulder scoffed at her reply, feeling the anxiety and sheer terror that had been playing inside of his head moments before start to ebb. It was quickly being replaced with irritation and anger.

“Fine?” he asked. He reached two fingers to run along the length of her forearm, his fingers making a hushed sound along the wool of her pullover.

She looked up at him then and he had instantly wished her eyes would return to the spot on the floor.

He saw total and complete heartbreak in her blue depths, pain and degredation swirling around where pride and clarity usually reigned. She sucked on her bottom lip, usually coral and pouty, but now stricken and chapped.

Mulder heard a sob escape his lips as the dam broke around Scully’s rugged exterior, crocodile tears escaping down her pale cheeks and gasps of air being forced into her lungs. He pulled her into his chest, wrapping his arms around her shoulders tightly as she burrowed into the fleece of his sweater. He felt her inhale and exhale briskly and her shoulders tremble with restraint, trying to keep it together as much as she could.

Mulder rested his cheek against the crown of her head, trying to physically will the hurt from her body directly into his. Telling her it would all be okay certainly wasn’t going to work.. he couldn’t boldly lie to her willingly.

So he began to cry as well, his lips murmmering little questions, mostly “what did they do to you?” as she continued her tight squeeze of his middle. After several moments, while he was still holding on tightly, Mulder felt Scully start to pull away, start to come back to herself moment by moment.

As she leaned back, pulling strands of hair behind her ears in a self-conscious attempt to pull herself together, Mulder slid his hands down her arms until their fingers laced within each other, keeping a small bit of warmth between their palms.

“We have to get out of here, Mulder.” she said, finally meeting his eyes. The level timbre of her voice was unsettling, the dark circles under her eyes, haunting.

“Yeah…” he said, staring at their locked hands, the dread of their current predicament vacating any witty comments from his mind. All he could focus on was her pale, small hands held in his large, tan ones.

“Did they tell you why we are here?” she asked quietly, running her thumbs over the backs of his hands as she takled. “Do you know what this is all about?”

Mulder cleared his throat, the emotion of the day still welling up inside of his chest. “Um… I think they are testing new strands of the vaccine. That is the gist of what I have gotten out of Krycek.”

“Yeah, that is about what he told me. Do you know that the past six or so months have been part of this? They have been orchestrating every part of our lives for a really long time, Mulder.”

Mulder just stood there, his eyes focusing on her searching ones. “Did Krycek tell you that?”

Scully nodded, taking a deep breath before she continued. “He made it sound like everything that had happened had led up to this point, the FBI was an unknowing accomplice, the cases we have been on, the people we have been in contact with… everything.”

“He was fucking with your head, Scully. He is trying to get you riled up.” Mulder said, releasing her hands and returning them to his hips. “I mean, the thought that EVERYTHING that has happened to us in the last six months has been completely controlled… by Krycek? Come on…”

“Mulder… He said Everything. Like everything around and… between us.” Scully said, chewing on her bottom lip again.

Mulder threw his arms up in the air in disgust and spun around, walking for the far wall and bracing his arms against the cold surface. He dipped his head between his shoulders and exhaled loudly.

“What in fuck does that have to do with anything? Why would he even think that They had anything to do with us getting together. Jesus, Scully, all they try to do is tear us apart!”

“Mulder, calm down…” Scully said, putting her hand up in a gentle gesture, taking a step toward him.

“NO! No, Scully. Why in the hell are you listening to that selfish bastard? Do you think that is true? Do you think that these evil men are responsible for me loving you?” Mulder spun around, his eyes wild in the dim light and his cheeks flush with adrenaline.

“Of course not.” Scully said seriously, catching his eye with an edge. “Mulder?” she asked, reaching for his hands, stepping towards him. “I know that they had nothing to do with our loving each other. I have never questioned that.”

Mulder looked up under his lashes, gauging her reaction and watching her.

“But…” Mulder started, waiting for her to continue.

“But, it begs the question if it happened when they had expected it and why did they expect it? What purpose does it have for them and why bring us here now? I mean, they are keeping us in the same cell! Who does that?”

Scully turned away then, mirroring Mulder’s earlier reaction and began to stalk away to the other side of the cell, her brain working overtime and her body tensing.

“Well, I don’t give a fuck what they want. I just want us out of here.” Mulder said, sliding the cot over to the small barred window and peering out into the late afternoon sun. The snow was a prismic mirror across the plains, reflecting pink sparkles back at Mulder.

“I just feel like if we can figure out the why, we can maybe use it against them. Kind of like they used it against us. I mean, they knew I would come for you.”

“Yeah, Krycek mentioned your joining us. And I couldn’t get to you to warn you… I’m sorry, Scully.”

Scully closed the distance across the cell and pulled Mulder off of the cot, grasping his hand and giving him room as he landed on the ground. She then pulled his face down by the open sides of his coat and fiercely met his lips, her tongue swiping his full lower lip and her eyes slipping closed. Mulder met her kiss in a hungry embrace, bruising his lips against her’s and his hands finding her lower back to push her against his body. He slowly began to back her against the wall as the kiss continued to intensify.

When her back met the brick wall, Scully broke the kiss for breath as Mulder began to nip and pull at the skin of her jaw bone and the delicate pulse underneath her turtleneck.

“Mulder?” she asked in a sultry voice, his mouth still muffled by wool and skin. His hands had wound their way underneath the hem of her sweater and were spanning the flat surface of her stomach. “Mulder, we gotta’ stop.” she said, her eyes still closed and head lulled against the wall.

“I know this is a really inopportuned time to want to rip your clothes off, but I swear to God, I dont think I want to stop.” He growled against the hollow of her throat, his hands snaking around to grap her ass in a forceful gesture.

He heard her groan in response, her back arching against the wall and her hands finding their way to his hair.

The clanging of boots on the grates froze both Mulder and Scully in their places, his hands tightening on her hips and her fingers flitting to his shoulders.

When Mulder pulled back, wide eyed, he looked at Scully and his expression of shock mirrored her own.

As the clanging continued to grow louder, Mulder reached a finger up to Scully’s face and swiped it in the cupid’s bow of her perfect lips, pulling back a small red dot of blood on the tip of his finger.

Her nose was bleeding.

“Scully?” Mulder whispered, not able to hide the tremor in his the soiled finger.

Scully reached up and touched Mulder’s face as well, pulling back a matching dotted fingertip and holding it up to his eyes to see his own blood staring back at him.

He was bleeding too.

Chapter Forty-Five

As the clanging continued to grow louder, Mulder reached a finger up to Scully’s face and swiped it in the cupid’s bow of her perfect lips, pulling back a small red dot of blood on the tip of his finger.

Her nose was bleeding.

“Scully?” Mulder whispered, not able to hide the tremor in his soiled finger.

Scully reached up and touched Mulder’s face as well, pulling back a matching dotted fingertip and holding it up to his eyes to see his own blood staring back at him.

He was bleeding too.

Mulder closed his eyes briefly, letting the enormity of the situation sink in, the cell instantly becoming more confining than it had been seconds ago.

They were slowly becoming infected.

It had been the ultimate goal,after all, and everything would unfold just as Krycek had said. They would use Mulder and Scully’s bodies as vehicles for research and then discard them the moment they were of no use to them.

Scully gripped Mulder’s forearm, trying to steady herself as she began to feel the floor slip from under her.

“Hey, you with me?” Mulder asked, looking into her eyes as he tried to steady her. Scully nodded her head slowly, her distracted eyes finally meeting his.

Mulder’s mind began to reel, the boots outside of their cell beginning to beat in time to the staccato of his heart.

They werent supposed to be back for at least thirty more minutes.

They had just taken Scully and they knew he was conscious.

All of the noise that was swirling around Mulder’s brain began to accelarate his breathing and prickle across his skin.

“They will use her and she doesnt have to be conscious or consenting to get what they want.” Krycek’s words stabbed at Mulder’s chest.

“She may be dead before the week is out.”

Brian’s twisted shriek whispering through his head.

“They are going to take her and finish it this time.”

“No.” Mulder whispered. “No. This ends now.”

“What?” Scully looked at Mulder, terror etched in her brow, her motor skills becoming slowly affected.

Mulder glanced sideways at the cell door, its impending motion buying him precious seconds.

“We’re getting out of here.. .now.” Mulder said cooly, dragging his eyes back to Scully, who was sullenly resting her head against the cool brick of the cell.

“Mulder, they have guns and gates and…” she whispered, tightening the grip she had on his forearms, feeling him already slipping into his most dangerous mode. The mode where caution is barely an afterthought.

Mulder looked into her eyes, nodding but stilling her protests, his vision darting back to the cell door, his mind whirring a million miles a minute, playing hundreds of scenarios through his brain all at the same time.

“Why are they already coming back?” he whispered to himself, trying to find the one difference in this scenario so that it could be used to his advantage.

He heard Scully gasp as she ran her hand up her left forearm, her fingers rolling up her black sweater.

“I bet they weren’t supposed to leave this in.” she whispered, her eyes wide, sparking with some hidden adrenaline. She held her arm up to the dim light and showed Mulder the small incision taped behind the blue road map of her veins. “My arm has been completely numb until just now. I didnt even realize anything was in it.”

Mulder gently held her arm up to his eyes, running the pads of his fingers across the feather soft skin of her arm feeling the tell-tale lump of an implant underneath her skin. He instantly pulled his sleeve up and ran his fingers across the skin there, feeling two perfect stitches but no lump.

“They must have taken mine out. That’s it, Scully.”

“Listen, Mulder. I think it’s only one guard.” Scully whispered, as the boots were walking directly behind them, slowing as their door was reached.

“You stay back here.” Mulder said with finality, hoping to God that Scully would actually listen to him without question this one time.

She nodded quietly and dutifully stepped into the corner, the darkness almost concealing her entire body. Mulder flattened his entire body against the adjacent wall, just out of reach of the heavy iron door, sliding down into a pouncing position, his muscles alive with use and purpose.

As the door cracked open, a crisp German accent filled the muffled space.

“Dr. Scully? I need to see you for a moment.” the guard asked, taking one timid step into the cell, semi-automatic weapon drawn and pointing to noone in particular.

Scully looked to Mulder for instruction, knowing that avoiding any loud noise or that gun going off was the ultimate goal of this little tryst.

Mulder made a “go ahead” motion with his arm, willing her to lure the guard deeper into the cell.

“I’m here. But I am too weak to move.” Scully said quietly, not having to immitate the tremor in her voice. The guard swiftly reached for his flashlight, but was halted again by Scully’s wafting voice. “Please… something is wrong with my eyes and the light is extemely painful…” Using the unknowns of whatever they were infected with was obviously working in their favor.

“Okay, Dr. Scully. Okay.” the guard said slowly, gun still trained at the general direction that Scully’s voice was coming from. He took tenative steps deeper into the cell, walking in apparent total darkness, in contrast to the brightly lit corridor he had just entered from. “I just need to see your arm, to retrieve something that was left in accidentially. You caused a bit of a stir and a monitor was left inside of your skin.” the guard tried quietly, his harsh breathing bouncing off of the walls.

As he moved closer to Scully, she took a step forward, all blue eyes and pink lips, the shards of light from the small window almost illuminating her pale skin.

Mulder did not miss the sharp intake of breath from the guard as he watched her approach him.

“Where is your partner?” he asked, realization beginning to dawn on him as his eyes began to survey the darkest corners of the room.

“They took him.” Scully responded, quickly trying to keep the guard’s attention on her.

“Ah, well, this will be quick. Your left arm please.” he asked as Scully was within reach of him, the gun set squarely into her chest. Scully eyed the gun cautiously and made a split second decision.

“I feel faint…” she whispered as she begun to spin towards the guard, her body going limp as he slung the weapon around his back using both hands to catch her soundly.

Mulder heard the guard mumbling in German and went to lay Scully down on the small cot. As he took a deep breath to yell for assistance, Mulder rose from the darkness and clamped a large, forceful hand around the guard’s mouth, blocking the air supply from his nose as well.

The guard’s eyes began to bug out of his skull, Mulder ever tightening the grip his palm had over his face. Scully sat up and quickly unclipped the automatic weapon slung around the guard’s back, his eyes watching her with shock and dread.

“Pat the rest of him down, Scully.” Mulder whispered, his cold stare fixated on the face the guard who was quickly losing consciousness. She relieved him of a knife and a small hand gun, the rest of him clean.

“Let him go, Mulder.” she whispered harshly, seeing how Mulder was neither capable of hearing her let alone releasing his death grip. “Mulder!” she spat, trying to get his attention.

Mulder popped his hands off of the face of the guard as he fell limp to the ground, eyes closed. Mulder leaned back and glanced up to Scully, seemingly realizing she was in the room for the first time in several minutes.

“Is he dead?” she asked quietly.

Mulder ignored her question and went about relieving the guard of his uniform, an almost perfect fit for him, though the sleeves were a bit too short. Mulder shurgged on the coat and tipped the captain’s hat onto his head.

“What exactly is the plan, Mulder?” Scully asked, eyeing him warily.

“Well, we are going to saunter out of the place.”

“Don’t you think this is a little to easy? Why in the hell would they send one guard to deal with the two of us? Krycek isn’t that stupid.” Scully asked, sliding the newly accquired hand gun into the waistband of her black pants. She instantly felt stronger.

“I dunno, but I do not intend to stick around to find out.” Mulder said, sliding a pair of handcuffs out of the belt around his waist. “Ready to get kinky, Scully?”

An auburn eyebrow peaked as she set her jaw, readying for battle.

“Settle down, Scully. I’m going to walk you out, as if I was taking you somewhere. The cuffs will be for effect.” Mulder said encouragingly.

Resigned to let him take the lead, Scully turned around pulling her sore arms behind her back, resting them above her behind. Mulder slid the cold metal around her wrists, a quiet click sending a chill through Scully’s spine.

“I may have to keep these.” Mulder whispered to the shell of her ear, his lips brushing the soft skin.

She couldnt fight that chill either.

As they began to inch towards the door, Mulder yanked Scully back as several guards flew past their door, several men yelling in different languages around them.

Everyone was heading back to the lab… in a hurry.

“You ready?” Mulder asked, as he spun Scully around so she was facing him, the light from the corridor illuminating them both.

She nodded solemnly, determination setting into her jaw.

Mulder leaned down and placed a quick kiss to her lips, lingering just for a moment, before turning her back around and putting his body between her’s and the door jamb briefly, scanning the now vacant hallway.

As they got three steps outside of the cell, a massive explosion rocked the very structure of the building, shrouding the entire hallway in complete darkness.

Mulder had thrown Scully against the wall at the sound of the blast, covering her body as well as he could with his own, but both of them were knocked to the floor with the force of it. Mulder quickly tried to sit back up, his ears ringing as he pulled Scully with him. He fished within the pocket of the belt, pulling out the small key to the cuffs. “I think these are a moot point, now.” he whispered, the stale air filling with smoke and debris. He unlocked the cuffs and heard Scully’s sigh of relief as she grabbed his hand and led him into the darkness.

Chapter Forty-Six

Mulder hauled Scully to her feet, using the emergency lights to scan her face, running his fingers across her forehead, searching for any marks or injuries.

Scully slid her hands up to rest on his and nodded quickly, a knowing smile tugging at her lips.

“The guys are here.” she smiled, turning quickly and pulling Mulder along with her, the long, dark hallway seeming endless.

Mulder tamped down the excitement that surged through his blood at that moment. Reinforcements were here and they were still alive.

Things were looking up.

Scully stopped abruptly, coming to a fork in the hallway, darkness greeting them on both sides. “Well?” she asked behind her, breathless and panting. The frigid air encapsulating them was mixed with a smokey mixture and was making it increasingly hard to breathe.

“Ummm… Right.” Mulder guessed, edging around the corner, grabbing Scully’s hand again. Just as he crossed the threshold of the corridor, another blast shook the building, throwing Mulder forward and careening Scully into the brick wall to their right.

Mulder landed harshly against the grate of the floor, his cheek grazing the thick steele that rushed up to meet his face. The warm flow of blood splattered across his nose causing him to call out in pain as he made impact.

As soon as he was able to pull himself to his knees, the world spinning in darkness, realization sunk in that Scully’s hand was no longer locked into his.

“Scully!” he called, the pitch black, smokey corridor encased him in darkness, adding to the ironic feeling of claustraphobia and sheer terror. “SCULLY!” he barked again, realizing he had no regard for the volume of his voice.

He strained to hear, against the sounds of metal and brick settling after the blast and structures starting to crumble in on themselves. He heard a small, muffled grunt to his right. Surging to toward the noise, Mulder began to run his stinging hands over the metal, hoping to hit the wall soon.

“Talk to me! Where are you?” Mulder stilled as he listened, the dust in the air turning to thick smoke with every gulp of air into his lungs.

“Mulder?” he heard her muffled, strained voice as he crawled towards the sound. He couldn’t shake the feeling of how far away she sounded.

“Keep talking, Baby. I’m blind here.” he yelled, the sound of sparking cables electrifying around them dulling out any human sounds possible.

“Mulder. I can’t move.” Scully called weakly, a fit of coughing wracking her body. Mulder froze as he realized that her voice wasn’t coming from the wall… it was coming from underneath him.

“Shit.” he mumbled under his breath. “Scully, can you see anything? It’s completely dark here.”

“No. God, Mulderrrr.” she howled in pain, sobs beginning to wrack her body.

Mulder had never felt so helpless in his entire life. He couldn’t see her, but could hear her pain.

“I’m coming, just hang in there.” he said, surprised at how sure he sounded. Mulder continued to run his fingers against the line where the brick and the grated floor met, assuming that he should be running into Scully at any minute.

Then his fingers felt nothing.

The corridor had been blown to nothingness. And Scully must have been thrown below him… into total darkness.

“Scully, I think you got thrown below the corridor. I’m going to find a way down. Just hold on.” Mulder said, his hands continuing to feel their way along the jagged edge of the gnarled grated floor.

As his hands continued to graze the side, hoping for a ladder or something to hoist him down, a loud popping sound made Mulder duck, as the emergency generators slammed on flooding the area in flourescent lighting.

Mulder squinted and ducked his head against his arms in protection from the light, mometarily giving his eyes time to adjust. And buying time from what he was probably going to see when he looked to Scully.

He raised his head, edging himself over the grate, looking into a vast space, papers and dust swirling everywhere.

In the middle of a huge pile of debris was Scully, laying prostrate against a broken desk, a huge metal shard piercing through her right calf.

But, it was the .038 trained at her forehead that caused Mulder’s heart to stop.

“Krycek!” Mulder barked, his voice hoarse and broken.

“Without her, I get NOTHING! All of this shit will have been for NOTHING MULDER!” Krycek screamed, a maniacal lilt to his voice. Scully’s head was still laid back, her eyes trained on the barrel of the gun. She was slipping into shock, the tell-tale slow blink the only movement of her body.

Mulder pulled himself up to standing, using every ounce of energy he could muster to keep the world from flipping upside down. Luckily he hadn’t been fed in several days, or he would have easily vomited. He spit the salty taste of blood from his lips and felt the concussion settle in to the back of his brain as he fell back to his knees.

“KRYCEK!” he screamed, his eyes slipping closed. “She’s not immune! Not anymore. Neither of us are!” The red dripping from his nose was the glaring neon sign that was their one hope that Krycek would back off.

The single shot echoed throughout the gutted building.

Mulder slid to his knees, his eyes still closed, as he erupted in a gutteral scream. With dry heaves beginning to rack his body, Mulder squinted his eyes open, trying to form coherent words to beg for death.. beg for Krycek to shoot him too.

But, when his eyes opened, tears streaking down his bloodied cheeks, his mouth fell open in shock.

Walter Skinner stood with the barrel of his gun still trained where Krycek’s forehead once was.

Mulder laid his face down onto the frozen grate and closed his eyes.

For once, he welcomed the darkness.

Chapter Forty-Seven

“Can you take a deep breath for me, Mr. Mulder?”

Mulder looked annoyingly at the young nurse, but complied, filling his lungs with achingly sterile air.

“Good. Take these, please.” she stated, blushing slightly as she wrote down a few things on his chart. Mulder downed the pain pills happily, the stitches in his cheek prickling against the cool water that followed.

She tapped and checked a few things hooked to his IV and then smiled sweetly as she flitted from the room, almost running squarely into the broad chest of Walter Skinner.

Unflappable as always, Skinner just smiled as she ducked her head and slinked out the doorway.

“How are you doing?” he asked, adjusting the glasses on his nose. He slid the folder he was carrying down onto the horribly pink chair to the right of Mulder’s bed.

“I’m okay, considering… Sore.” Mulder stated honestly, his fingers starting to drum out nervous energy across his white blanket. “How’s Scully? I’m only getting bits and pieces here.”

Skinner’s lips formed a thin line in concentration. “She’s okay. They just pumped her full of more morphine, so she is going to be out for a while.”

Morphine equaled extreme pain. Mulder winced as the thought settled into his brain. He knew the gash in her leg was going to be an uphill battle.

But, they were both alive.

“When will they let me go see her? No one is giving me any fucking information.” he growled.

“When you are able to take said information without attempting to strangle the messenger. That doctor said he wouldn’t press charges and you had better hope to God that he doesn’t change his mind.”

Mulder mulled quietly over the chastising tone of Skinner’s comment. If he had wanted to strangle the doctor, he would have. He was just trying to wipe that smirk off of his stupid face…

“You would be glad to know that we were able to apprehend several of the guards from the facility, along with several hundred files from one of the rooms that were still in tact after the blasts.” Skinner said, finding his way to one of the seats beside Mulder’s bed.

“Any of the doctors?” Mulder asked, fighing the chill that clung to his shoulders.

“Um, no. I would assume they were killed in the blasts.”

Mulder looked up, his eyes narrowing as he glared at Skinner.

“Well, that is your first mistake. To assume anything with these bastards.”

Both men were quiet with their own thoughts for several beats, before Skinner pulled the file he had brought from the adjacent chair.

“We were able to find your record. It’s pretty incredible, actually. They have data on you since you lost your first tooth, Mulder.”

Mulder looked up, his tongue moistening the cracked skin of his lips.

“Were you able to find Scully’s?”

Skinner remained quiet, his eyes going back to the folder.

Mulder chuckled darkly. “You won’t find her’s. It’s the Holy Grail.”

Skinner nodded quietly, not sure what to say to that comment, but opened the file to pull out a report.

“I will let the doctors explain everything, but all of your blood work came back fine. There was no traces of anything foreign in your body.”

Mulder looked up, confused.

“But, our noses bled. We were having symptoms…”

“I’m telling you Mulder. Your screenings came back perfect, except for the obvious trauma from the explosions and exposure. Scully’s too.”

Mulder released the breath he had been holding in his lungs.

“Scully’s too?” he asked with a small smile.

Skinner smiled back, nodding his head.

Mulder leaned his head back onto his pillow, feeling the tension slowly escape his shoulders.

“What is the state department saying?” Mulder asked, his eyes not meeting Skinner’s.

Skinner sighed, shaking his head in disgust, trying to choose his words perfectly before he started. He looked up to meet Mulder’s heated glare.

“They know nothing of any project involving Agent Scully.”

Mulder puffed out a sardonic laugh, running his hands over his face in disbelief.

“I’m done, Sir.”

“I know, Mulder. This can be pretty discouraging…”

Mulder dropped his hands and looked at Skinner seriously.

“No, I mean, I am done. With the FBI, with the X-files, with all of this. I’m out of the game. Finished.”

Skinner stood from his chair, his mouth hanging in shock.

“You can’t be serious.” “Think of how many times, in just the past year, she has been in the hospital! How many times has she been on the absolute brink of death and has come back? I’m running out of luck here, Sir. I’m not going to gamble with her anymore. I’ve been stupid to risk as much as I have.”

Skinner’s hands went to rest on his hips, his head dropping in concentration.

“Does she know that you want to do this?”

Mulder expelled a deep breath.

“No.”

“She’s an incredble agent, Mulder. She will be devastated if you quit now, especially if you base it on her.”

Mulder ducked his chin as he thought, Skinner gaping at him as the impending question perched on his lips.

“What about the ‘truth’, Mulder?”

Mulder ducked his chin as he thought, his hands coming to rest in his lap, an eerie calm sweeping over him.

“I want to marry her, Walter.” he said, his gaze rising up to meet Skinner’s. “That’s all the truth that I need.”

Chapter Forty-Eight

“Are you awake?” Mulder whispered as he stuck his face through a small crack in her hospital room door.

When he heard nothing, he slipped into the dimly lit room, his chest swelling when his eyes adjusted to the light.

Scully was laying on her side, small hands tucked beneath her pillow, her casted leg sitting at an awkward angle.

And her hair had finally returned to its bright, burnished red.

Mulder walked quietly in his socked feet to the small chair in her room, his running pants sounding extremely loud in the silence.

Mulder looked up and saw Scully’s nurse/guard hovering outside of the shaded window, her narrow eyes watching him like a hawk.

He scooted his chair to the side of her bed and rested his fingertips against the exposed palm of her hand, rubbing lightly as he took in her rested appearance.

He ran two fingers down the silken side of her hair, then tucked the red strands behind her ear.

“I’m sorry, Scully.” he whispered, unexpected emotion welling up inside of his throat, his eyes instantly wet. “I’m sorry for all of this. I’m sorry you are hurt and back in the hopsital. I’m sorry for making horrible decisions. I’m so sorry for Brian…” Mulder broke down, burying his face in the starched cotton of her hospital blanket. Huge sobs assaulted his sore body, pain oozing out of his very soul. “I’m just so sorry…”

Mulder felt cool, light fingertips filter through his hair, and noticed Scully’s breathing had changed.

“I’m sorry too.” Scully whispered, her lidded blue eyes focused squarely on Mulder’s, her brow heavy with concern.

Mulder looked up and couldn’t help the smile, despite the snot and tears that had accumulated on his face, and reached a palm up to rest on Scully’s pale cheek.

“Hey.” he whispered, an amount of awe in his voice.

“Hi.” she whispered back, a large tear seeping from her eye and falling across her small nose. Mulder traced the tear with his thumb and sat back for a moment, scrubbing his face with his t-shirt before he leaned back onto her bed.

“How are you feeling?” he asked, feeling stupid at the absurdity of the question, but needing to hear it from her own lips. It was amazing how she could resort him to nothing more than basic brain function with just a glance.

Scully closed her eyes briefly, as if running down the checklist before she answered him. “Pretty good. I dont feel much of anything at the moment. They gave me some good drugs, I think.” she said, smiling lightly.

“Yeah, I think they did too. You’ve been asleep for a long time.” Mulder said, the need in his voice apparent.

Scully reached up and drug her hand down the stubble on the good side of his face and sympathetically smiled at him again. Mulder wasn’t a patient man, especially when it came to her. “Poor baby.” she said, laughter in her quiet voice.

Mulder smiled, self-consciously, knowing he was busted.

They were quiet for a few moments, their eyes roaming over each other, taking in the aesthtic pleasure of seeing each other and also catalouging any new scars or cuts.

“How are you, really?” she asked, her eyes shifting again.

Mulder took a deep breath, cleansing in a way, and looked deeply into her eyes.

He would tell her about the facility. He would tell her about leaving the FBI and how he wanted her to leave with him. He would tell her about their mysterious symptoms and how they were both healthy. They would talk of Krycek’s murder.

But not now.

Mulder reached up and ran his finger along the long gold chain around her neck, the heavy engagement ring sparkling in the low light of the room. He unclasped it from behind her neck and glided the ring off of the necklace.

He reached for her bruised left hand and slid the ring back in place on her finger, his warm hand rubbing her’s reverently.

He leaned down and kissed the pads of her fingers, closing his eyes as he thought.

“I’m good, Scully.” he said, smiling. “I’m good.”

Epilogue

“Yes, Mom. That’s fine… Sure. Yes, Mulder would love some Lasagna. Mom, there is no need for you to fly back from California just to make us Lasagna…I’m fine! No, Mom. Enjoy your stay and just call us when your flight gets in, okay?…Yeah, Ill see you in a few days. Yes, I will tell him… I love you, too.” Scully exhaled dramaically as she dropped the phone into her lap, wiggling her toes that were resting in Mulder’s hands.

“Mom said she loves you and to make sure that I take my pain meds.” Scully said, smiling as she leaned her head against the couch cushions, Mulder’s slow thumbs making her eyes slowly roll to the back of her head.

“What did I hear about lasagna?” Mulder asked, his hands carefully moving her casted leg over to reach her other other foot.

Scully smiled with her eyes still closed. “Mom is going to make a lasagna and bring it over when she gets home from San Diego.”

“Cool.” Mulder said, his eyes lazily roaming over Scully’s relaxed form. “You know, if she gets in on Tuesday, I could pick her up after my interview. Ill be done by 5, I think.”

She hummed contentedly as Mulder’s hands roamed up the calf of her good leg, his fingertips lightly grazing the underside of her knee.

“Are you getting nervous?” Scully asked, her blue eyes slowly opening and sparkling at Mulder, a reassuring smile tugging on her lips.

“Well, I wasn’t until you said that. Should I be?” Mulder asked, raising his eyebrows and slowing his hands as he looked at Scully seriously.

“God, Mulder, of course not. This is a slam dunk!” she said, giggling. The dean of the psychology department at Georgetown had sought Mulder out personally to interview for a teaching position and assistant chair for the department. The chances of him not getting the position were slim.

Mulder ran his tongue over the newly formed scar that the recent stitches had formed on the inside of his cheek, a dull ache resounding where the frost bite had nipped at the delicate skin of his face.

“If I get it, I think I will feel a bit better about walking away from the Bureau. I’m feeling some anxiety about having so much free time…” Mulder said, more to himself than to Scully. She reached down and covered Mulder’s hand with her own, the hush of her silken pajamas the only sound in the apartment.

“I’ve enjoyed all of our free time, though.” she said quietly, still smiling at him sincerely. “I mean, we have watched the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, I have kicked your ass in Scrabble several times, we organized my pictures… When else would we have had time to do all of that?”

“True… and you did not kick my ass in Scrabble, Scully. You are recovering from an explosion. I gave you some slack…” Mulder said, hopping from the couch to respond to the blaring tea kettle.

“Well, my score sheet begs to differ…” Scully puffed, looking over the couch towards the kitchen. Mulder reappeared with two cups of tea, making a quick “ow ow ow” as he set the steaming cups onto the table.

“Hmmmm, thank you.” Scully said, as she picked up her cup and wrapped her fingers around the mug, the snow falling outside capturing her view momentarily.

“When do you have to give Skinner your decision?” Mulder asked, his face twisting as he sipped the warm tea, making Scully giggle.

“Uh… he said Monday.” Scully said, dragging her eyes back to Mulder. “Mulder, I know we have been dancing around this ever since you told me you resigned, but I guess we need to hash this all out… Are you still comfortable with all of this? Really?”

Mulder set the offending tea back onto the coffee table and leaned back, scrubbing the heels of his hands over his eyes, exhaling deeply. The exhaustion and toll of the past two weeks had made both of their physical and emotional recovery slow and tedious.

“I’m more sure that I made the right decision every day that I wake up beside you, Scully… I mean that.” Mulder said, rolling his head to the side to stare at her sincerely.

Scully smiled quietly as she felth Mulder’s warm stare envelope her and settle within her chest.

“Well, I am not going to feel comfortable running the X-Files without you there to cover my back.. I mean, if you leave, then I don’t see why I would continue on that avenue, alone. I just dont see that as an option.” Scully’s fingers were tapping nervously on her tea cup. “But, that means that the X-files would be out of our hands completely… is that something you are prepared to deal with?”

Mulder was quiet for a few moments.

“I think that it would be a little difficult for a while, but just because we are not in an official capacity, doesn’t mean we can’t do our own investigating… once in a while. I do love you in all black…” he said, a waggle of his eyebrows making her giggle again.

“I do look good in black, don’t I?” she asked through her laughter, Mulder’s panting dog look sending her into a fit, Mulder’s deep chuckle flitting through the atmosphere with her’s.

“Scully, I want the only thing for me to worry about when I wake up is what type of creamer to put in my coffee and whether or not I should take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw. I want us to stroll through a Pottery Barn on a Saturday and then sleep in and do laundry on a Sunday. That is what I want. I don’t know when it clicked or when it shifted inside of me, but that is what I need now, Scully. All of the other stuff is just details that will take some time to work through… and I can’t promise that I wont be a moody bastard sometimes, when I can’t get the access that I am used too…” Mulder finally looked back at Scully, as if finally remembering she was in the room with him. “But I will not sit at your bedside in another hospital. I will not do it.”

Mulder drew her knuckles up to his lips, his eyes locking with her’s intensely. Scully took in a watery breath, her eyes releasing crocodile tears down her warm cheeks.

“Well, then I guess I have my decision for Skinner.” she said, finally.

“And what would that be, Agent or Doctor Scully?” Mulder asked in a sexy growl as he climbed up her body, careful of her casted leg and settled at her side between her warm body and the back of the couch.

Scully was quiet for a few moments as Mulder settled against her, his breath tickling the back of her ear, causing the heat inside her to rise drastically.

“I guess neither… Technically, I’ll be a Mulder soon.. So..” She smiled, leaning to place a solid kiss to his forehead that was inches from her own.

“I’m still going to call you Scully… you know that right?” he asked, placing a light kiss on the side of her throat.

“I wouldn’t answer to anything else.” she said quietly, settling her arms around Mulder’s snuggled shoulders, sighing contentedly as they both began to doze.

Good Night! This has been a journey, so for those of you who were able to stick with it despite the long times between posts, I love you! I really appreciate all of the fan mail and support! It was a tricky span of time when I started a huge story such as this, so again, I apprecaite it! I have some other ideas that will be posted much more quickly than “Falling”, so if you want to see them, send me some feedback! Thanks:D

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