So Shall You Reap by Stef Davies

So Shall You Reap cover


So Shall You Reap by Stef Davies

So Shall You Reap cover

From: XFanficOld <> Date: 5 Aug 1998 17:33:13 GMT Subject: Repost -old fanfic: So shall you Reap 1

This old fanfic isn’t on the archives, so I’m reposting….hope this is ‘kay!


So Shall You Reap.

by Stephanie Davies.

This story is based on the characters and situations created by Chris Carter, the Fox Network and Ten Thirteen Productions. As such, the characters named are the property of those entities and are used without permission, although no copyright infringements are intended.

The story contains an X-File plot, relationship elements, rude words, and some descriptions of sexual situations. I’m not sure about the US categorisation of such things, but maybe you’d better assume a few sections of it are NC17 to be on the safe side, and I apologise to anyone in advance who feels cheated that such sections are probably rather mild 🙂

I also apologise for any accidental English colloquialisms that have found there way into this.

It is set over a period of seven days in May 1996.

Comments, flames etc willingly accepted and replied to.


February 1994 Venable Plaza Hotel, Boston.

“That doesn’t mean there won’t be any fires to put out tonight,” she said, as she leaned into his arms, and they swayed together to the music drifting in from the ballroom. She felt the last of Fox Mulder’s reluctance dissipate as he relaxed against her.

Nuzzling his neck, Phoebe Green felt warm, safe, felt a rush of tenderness for him, and to please him said, “I thought about you often…” even though this was not in the least true. She looked up at his face and slowly, tentatively, he leaned forward and touched his lips to hers. She returned his kiss gently, and then he was holding her more tightly, his hands moving down her back as the embrace became more passionate.

She was aware that the rush of pleasure she felt was not just from the proximity of this attractive man of whom she was fond. Anticipation of the delicious entanglement to come was alloyed with the euphoria she felt in the exercise of her power, in breaking through his resistance. A small spark of triumph flared as she noticed the figure of his little partner standing hesitantly in the shadows, her face jealous and hurt and hardly knowing why. And then Fox Mulder tightened his grip and deepened the kiss further and she was lost in a flood of feeling…..


Article from The Mendip Daily News Saturday 13th April 1996

Stop Press:- ‘US Ambassador’s wife missing.’

Police are searching for the wife and son
of US Ambassador Richard Matheson who has been missing for over twelve hours. Mrs Matheson and her son Jonathan were due at the Ambassador’s country residence on Friday night, but their whereabouts are unknown since they left London at 7pm.

Richard Matheson has been widely tipped as a potential candidate for the White House in the millennium year election. Mrs Matheson is his second wife.


Article from London Evening News Saturday 13th April 1996

‘Fears Grow for Ambassador’s Wife and Son’

High level security operations were mounted in the West Country today as the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the two missing members of the US Ambassador’s family deepened. The car they were traveling in has been found abandoned in the middle of field in Somerset. Eyewitnesses to the discovery state that there was the body of a man at the wheel of the vehicle. Police sources indicate that no further information has been found which might aid in the search for Annelise Matheson, aged 42 and her son, Jonathan.


Article from Sunday Post Sunday 14th April 1996

‘Ambassador’s family safe’

The wife and son of US Ambassador Richard Matheson have been found alive and apparently unharmed at Glastonbury in Somerset after a massive air and ground search was launched. Mystery still surrounds the abandoned car found yesterday in a field near Wincanton. Eyewitness reports state that there were several small formations of the phenomena commonly known as ‘crop circles’ surrounding the vehicle, but the area has been sealed off by a police cordon. Chief Superintendent Bill Hancock refused to comment on this aspect at last night’s press conference.


Article from Daily Post Monday 15th April 1996

‘Aliens Abducted Me!’ claims Ambassador’s wife’

In a bizarre twist Annelise Matheson, wife of US Ambassador Richard Matheson, claimed last night that her car had been driven off the road by a UFO, and she and her son had been abducted by aliens to be deposited a day later 15 miles away on Glastonbury Tor.

No comment was available from the US Embassy last night, but the claim is sure to be an embarrassment to the Ambassador, who is expected to stand as a candidate for the presidency in the year 2000. Richard Matheson has been a staunch supporter of the US Space Program and the SETI program, and has vigorously opposed moves in Congress to cut funding to these and allied projects.

Mrs Matheson has been under considerable strain in the last few months, due to the severe illness of one of her sons, whom she claimed was abducted with her.


Extract from an article in ‘Weekend Review’ Saturday 20th April 1996

‘Wacky Wives!’

Annelise Matheson’s claims to have been abducted by aliens last weekend have certainly put into the spotlight her husband’s ambitions to enter the race for the White House in four year’s time. Below we examine whether ‘wacky wives’ are a help or a hindrance to a politician…… …..[ there followed a series of examples of eccentric behavior by the wives of statesmen, including Nancy Reagan consulting astrologers and Lady Constance Albury insisting on a formal afternoon tea once a week for the twelve household alsations]……If Richard Matheson ever becomes US president, perhaps his wife can invite E.T. to the White House for coffee!

Washington DC. 10.15 a.m Tuesday 21st May.

“Sit down, Agent Mulder”.

Well, at least he wasn’t going to be reamed, thought Mulder. He hadn’t been aware of violating Bureau protocol or pissing anyone off recently – not this week, anyway. But with Skinner, you never knew. Sometimes it seemed to Mulder that Skinner just liked to yank them in and pick apart their case reports with that formal Bureau disdain of his.

<Does the man talk like that off duty? > Mulder’s lips curved slightly. <Maybe that’s why his wife….>

“Agent Mulder, are you still with me?” Skinner ‘s dry words pulled Mulder’s attention from his musings, and to the folder the AD had pushed across the desk towards him. “Your assistance has been requested in this matter. You leave this evening – all the necessary documentation has been taken care of.”

“Sir, as of tomorrow I have vacation-time planned……”

” Your personal time will have to be taken at a later date, Agent Mulder. A speedy and successful outcome is essential. Expect to be gone at least a week.”

“And Agent Scully…….” Mulder queried, leaning forward and picking up the folder.

Abruptly, Skinner stood up, and walked over to the window. “Agent Scully has not been requested for this assignment. You have, Agent Mulder, and I suggest you lose no more time in making whatever – ah – domestic arrangements are necessary.”

Mulder glanced down at the folder….and looked back up his boss, face white, mouth tight. With a visible effort, he pulled himself together and rose to his feet. “And who do I have to thank for this piece of……”

“Enough. You will give the assistance requested.”

Mulder bowed his head slightly in sardonic acknowledgment of the other man’s authority, and turned to leave. “Sir? Where did this request for assistance originate? Am I to assume that this has a certain nicotine tinge?”

With no infection at all in his voice, Skinner replied, “Agent Mulder, you have friends and enemies in high places.” He turned his back on Mulder and stated out of the window, unmoving, until he heard the office door close softly.

Skinner was not a happy man. He did not appreciate outside interference in the running of his departments. He was, of course, pleased to come to the aid of other governmental organizations when called upon to do so for good reasons, but this specific request for Agent Mulder stank.

Skinner knew some of the background. He had his sources – and he had read Agent Mulder’s personnel file. So he knew damn fine when someone was jerking Mulder’s chain – or trying to. But it was very difficult to ignore a request from the Secretary of State, even when relayed to him by that Marley-smoking bastard.

He also knew, though he chose to ignore, how the relationship between his wayward but brilliant agents had taken a new turn in the past months, and he was not uncognizant of the fact that both had requested personal time for the same weeks.

He knew them both well enough to consider that they were capable of keeping their private and professional lives separate. If he hadn’t thought that, Dana Scully’s feet wouldn’t have touched the ground as he transferred her back to duties at Quantico. And at the very first sign that their efficiency was being compromised, he would act. But it had occurred to him before, and the thought struck again – did They know, and could they use the knowledge against the two agents?

Well, if They thought that sending Agent Mulder to England, and putting him in that particular situation, would be a way of breaking the X-files……….. Walter Skinner was going to do his damnedest to throw a spanner in their works.

He picked up the phone, and called in a few favors.

Washington DC 11.30 a.m. Tuesday 21st May

Mulder had come back from Skinner’s office with an unreadable expression on his face.

“I’ve been ordered to England – to London – to do some work for the Ambassador.”

Scully picked up at once. “You’ve been ordered …… not both of us?” She was surprised. They always worked as a team now: it had been a very long time since either of them had been seconded separately to another project – not since the X- files had been re-opened following her disappearance.

And to be sent abroad was strange; but the Ambassador was Mulder’s erstwhile ally on the Hill, Senator Richard Matheson. < But to England….oh, shit!>

“Well…..” -there was a brief hesitation – “I was specifically requested.”

There was a long expectant pause. <Come on, Mulder> Scully watched as he sat down at his desk, and laid down very carefully the blue folder he had been carrying. She watched as he flipped over the papers, and then leaned back in his chair, and pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers – the way he always did when he was getting a headache. The silence in the room stretched out.

Taking a deep breath, Scully picked up a file from her desk, the one containing the paperwork from the case they’d just wrapped up, and pretended to read it. She swallowed hard. <Talk to me, Mulder> “When do you leave?” She didn’t look up.


Her hands tensed around the papers she was holding. “Fine, ” she replied, as coolly as she could. ” I’ll call the travel agent.” Again, she spoke without looking at him.

She heard his chair squeak, heard him move across the room.

“Scully, we always knew it would be difficult. I couldn’t say to Skinner, `Sorry sir, I’ll have to pass on this one because Agent Scully and I have a double room booked for the week at the Maui Hilton’. He just told me to take my personal time at a later date.”

<Did you even want to say that?> The thought surfaced unbidden in Scully’s mind. “There’s no need to explain, Mulder. I said I’d call the travel agent and cancel.”

“You could still go…..” His voice faded as Scully turned her cool, blue gaze on him.

Shoving the hurt and disappointment ruthlessly back where she hoped Mulder wouldn’t be able to see it, Scully replied in the best scornful tone she could muster, “Yeah, right – go by myself.”

She put down very carefully the papers she had been pretending to read, so that Mulder wouldn’t notice that her hands were trembling. <Come on, Dana, you always knew this might happen – that he might back off when it actually came to it. > What an incredibly stupid thing for him to say.

The vacation had been planned, the location chosen specifically, to give them a chance to go away together, away from the pressures of work, to give their personal relationship a chance to develop. They were strict about the professional distance they needed to maintain when working on cases, and since December it had been one case after another….. At least that was how it had seemed. No time for the personal things…and both of them had been secretly wondering whether this was truly the case, or whether they were afraid of taking that final step.

There was silence in the room again. After a while, when he could no longer bear to look at her rigid body, her head averted from him, Mulder got up, picked up his briefcase and started for the door. “My flight leaves at 11 tonight. I’ll call you before I go.” And then, hurriedly, as if it had just occurred to him, “I’ll take a cab to the airport….”

“Mulder” Scully finally looked straight at him. “We need to talk about why you’re shutting me out here.”

He gave her that little shrug; the one that made her want to slap him. His response to a question or situation that was too painful to explore: the one he had given her on that Maryland bridge when she had confronted him for not letting her know that her life was being traded for ‘Samantha’s’. It made her want to slap him, and it made her want to go up to him and hug him and tell him that it was all right, she was strong, they could face it together.

“I can’t talk about it just now, okay?” He would not meet her gaze. “I’ll call you later,” he repeated. The door clicked shut, and his footsteps echoed down the corridor. Dana Scully listened to them retreat. She sat very still as the wave of sadness and grief washed over her unchecked now.

<You knew he would be afraid, Dana. Let him go, if that’s what he needs to do.> Wrapping her arms around her stomach as if trying to hold down the misery that threatened to overwhelm her, she took several deep breaths. <Maybe he’s asked for this assignment because he can’t bear to say that he’s made a terrible mistake…. And when he comes back….we’ll just have to try and make it work like it did before … before…> She squeezed her eyes shut.

She had to be brave for both of them. And if that meant facing the reality that Mulder was doing his best to extricate the two of them from an entanglement that he now felt would be hopeless, then that reality must be faced …….and then worked through together. That way they might be able to come out the other side – so they could still be partners and loving friends. And if they couldn’t – if he or she couldn’t bear it – then at least she’d know she’d tried. <No….I’m not ready to give up on us yet, Mulder.>


Fox Mulder’s apartment. 4pm Tuesday 21st May.

Fox Mulder always kept a bag packed and stowed which he could pick up and run with if a case suddenly broke. But this was no ordinary case: he was devoting much more effort to the task than normal. This was partly of course because he was going a long way and didn’t know how long he would be staying. He wouldn’t allow himself to consider what other reasons there might be for his unusual care.

He was however aware that the longer he spent debating what to pack, the longer he could put off making the phone call to Dana. He didn’t know what to say to her. Slamming his suitcase lid shut, he decided he needed a drink first. A strong one. But of course there was no hard liquor in his apartment – except for a bottle of Scotch whisky that Phoebe had brought for him as a sly present two years before when she had requested his help on the Cecil L’Ively case.

He sat on the couch in his apartment as the afternoon shadows grew long, nursing a stiff scotch, thinking about the irony of it as the bitter liquid warmed his stomach.

How has it come to this, he thought. He had acknowledged to himself and to Dana Scully several months ago, that he loved her, not just as a partner and friend, but as a woman. His thoughts spooled back through the miserable winter, when they had seemed to grow more and more distant with each case, to the moment of epiphany.

A struggle on a dark rooftop. A shot ringing out. Mulder coming to himself for the first time in days, and looking down over the parapet to see a body lying below and Scully’s pale face looking up at him.

“You okay, Mulder?”. They had called for backup and medical aid. Scully had worked silently on the murderer – on Patterson, his old boss – until the medical team had arrived. After a first anxious inspection she had said nothing further to him. In the flurry of flashing blue lights, sirens, and the arrival of Skinner and a posse of SOCO agents he had lost track of her.

He had found her half an hour later on the edge of breaking down, leaning against a dank wall in a dark alley. “Scully?” he whispered, incredulous. She huddled away from him.

“Go away Mulder.” Her voice was low, fierce.

“Scully, I don’t understand.” He stepped up to her, put his hand on her shoulder. “What’s going on here?”

She shrugged off his touch. “You have no idea, have you, Mulder.” Finally she looked up at him with bitter eyes. “You left me. Again. Ditched me. Went into that dark place by yourself.” She shuddered, remembering. “Again”. She started walking. Away from him, anywhere.

He didn’t see her for two days.

He found her when her mother finally relented in the face of a barrage of his desperate pleas. He strode over the last sand- dune and she was sitting hugging her knees, looking out to sea. The wind whipped fine grains of sand into his eyes; stopped his breath. “Hey.”

She turned to look at him, blue eyes narrowed against the cold sun. “Hey yourself.” Gave him one of her slow smiles.

Mulder sat down next to her, confused. This was not the reception he had expected. Waking on his couch the morning after Patterson’s arrest he had looked at his apartment – festooned with the grotesque line-sketches – through opened eyes. Through Scully’s eyes. Pulling the pictures from the wall he had begun to understand her fear for his mental state: crumpling them into the trash he had tried and tried to remember anything at all about their interaction in the previous days. And he could remember nothing except climbing into a car, and hearing her voice – quiet, resigned, hopeless: “Where are you going, Mulder.” Barely even a question.

He knew he had marginalised her. But he also knew that he had needed to. The nightmare of a madman’s mind was somewhere you could only travel alone. He didn’t want Scully to go to that dark place, but that hadn’t been the point. It wasn’t to protect her that he had shut her out, but because that was the way it worked – the way it worked for him, at least. He had to submerge himself totally into the profile – into the killer’s mind. And that left no room for Scully, or anyone else.

It had been one of the reasons he had left the Investigative Support Unit in the first place. But Scully needed to know that although she hadn’t been able to follow him, her very existence had meant that he had been able to pull himself back to himself so quickly in the aftermath.

It was a testament to the strength of their bond which she had not been there to see.

Small clouds skittered across the sky, and the waves pounded onto the beach as they had done since time beyond remembrance. Scully watched Mulder sidelong as he struggled with his thoughts. This time, she was the one who had done the running off. She had known that she had to get away from Mulder, to think about what had just happened and what had been going on between them over the last months, when she found herself on the edge of breaking down in front of Skinner, the support team – Mulder himself. So she had taken herself to a unlit corner, leaned back cold and shaking, hugging herself, forcing herself to breath deeply.

And then she had come to this place, where Captain Scully had brought them long summers past, where the cold wind cut through the confusion in her mind, and the buffetting sea reminded her how insignificant and frail the human species really is.

She knew that her extreme reaction had been occasioned by the extreme stress of the case. But the coil had been wound inside her tighter and tighter over the months since Melissa’s death. Grief, fear, unadmitted jealousy, more fear……each added a further twist. She had come to think that however much she loved Mulder – and she had known she loved him for the longest time – she didn’t like him any more. But to see him descend into a cauldron of madness, to see him disintegrate in front of her eyes and not be able to reach him at all had been unbearable. Even Skinner had seemed afraid that this time Mulder had pushed himself in too deep.

Mulder broke the silence. “I’m sorry, Scully.”

Scully picked up a handful of sand, let the fine grains trickle through her fingers, soothing, smooth, cool. “Sorry for what, Mulder? You have nothing to be sorry for on this case. You did what you had to do. You got the result. Even Patterson told me.”

“So why are you angry……why did you leave?”

She turned and smiled at him again, but a small, sad smile. “I’m not mad at you, Mulder. I just….” She pursed her lips as she struggled for words. “Okay, I was mad at the time. But you frightened me, Mulder. And I was angry with myself, too.”

She turned her head away so she didn’t have to look at him. It was so very hard to say these next words. “I thought – for a while – I thought it was you, Mulder. You had gotten so obsessed….I couldn’t get though to you at all….and then your finger-prints were on the knife…..and I found you holding a gun on Patterson….” Her breathing had become shallow; she spoke quickly. “Oh, God, Mulder, a part of me really thought it was you…”

He touched his hand to her arm, but she moved away. “Let me finish, Mulder.” She took a deep breath, and continued “I’ve seen what obsession can do. I saw what it did to Jack Willis, after all. I saw how he was so immersed that he became the character of……..” She felt Mulder shift restlessly next to her. “Okay, we won’t go over that again. But there’s no excuse…..” Her voice faltered.

“No excuse for what? Scully, I’m sorry if I frightened you. I truly am. I frightened myself. That’s why I left the profiling unit..”

Scully turned and stared at him. Understood. Reached out and touched him, this time. Her eyes filled with moisture but she didn’t look away. <Let him see, Dana. He needs to know.> “Not you, Mulder. There’s no excuse for me. For me. I was angry and afraid because you shut me out…..and because you seemed so – so dissociated, and so far away. I couldn’t reach anything of you at all….But you’re my partner. I trust you with my life. So why couldn’t I trust youto do what you had to do?” She stared out to the horizon. “God, you trust me…..when you walked in on me holding a gun on Skinner…” She shook her head. “Mulder, I’m sorry, and I don’t know what to say to you to make it right between us again. So much seems to have gone wrong between us recently… but if I lost you, I’d be lost too.”

Her face retained its frozen calm, but the tracks of tears glistened on her cheeks. Not since that night in Minnesota when she had broken down in his arms had she allowed herself to be so vulnerable, so open before him. She reached up and touched his cheek. She had spent two days coming to her decision, and she needed to say it. And just maybe it would be what Mulder needed to hear, too. “I’d be lost without you. But I seem to spend my time holding my breath and watching your back…and I’m so tired of it, Mulder…..”

Suddenly she felt his coat round her shoulders, and he was pulling her towards him. She leaned into the warmth and strength of him.

“I don’t want you watching my back, Scully,” he murmured into her hair. “I want you by my side. I just want you……”

And he did want her, and he had kissed her hard on the mouth and told her how much, then led her back to the beach-house where she was staying . They had drunk red wine in front of an open fire, but they had caressed only gently, rather solemnly and shyly: agreed to take things very slowly with this new intimacy, before falling reluctantly into separate beds that night.

Fox Mulder wanted to make love to Dana Scully, to commit himself finally to her – he was sure that he did. Or he had been sure. So he was sick to his heart at the powerful emotions which had flooded him when Skinner had told him to get to England and work with Phoebe Green.

He recalled that night in the Boston hotel: her body pressed close to his, the taste of her mouth, the perfume she used…. remembered the way she knew just how to touch him to drive him wild with desire. God, even now just thinking of her and he was aroused. He took a hefty swig of the whisky. This couldn’t be right. It couldn’t be fair to Dana, that he should be consumed with desire for someone else.

Mulder had found the past four months hard. He had been near-celibate for a long time, passion sublimated into obsessive work – necessary release swift and mechanical, often solitary. But acknowledging to himself his feelings for his partner that cold afternoon had re-awakened his libido. Recently, the touch of her hand on his shoulder, or even the way she pursed her luscious mouth was enough to make his body ache.

In the years before he and Scully were partnered he would simply have gone out and got laid, without emotional involvement save vague post-coital guilt about not caring more. his mind flicked back briefly to such sorry encounters as had occurred. But that, of course, was no longer an option. Making love to Dana, though, would have such tremendous reverberations down both their professional and personal lives….

Mulder poured himself another shot of scotch, <getting loaded is not going to solve this….> and stared into the amber liquid. Perhaps, he thought, perhaps if Dana and I were lovers, I wouldn’t hunger for the other any more.. But when he tried to imagine losing himself in Dana’s soft curves, his mind conjured a tangle of limbs and an ecstasy of release atop a certain gravestone on a foggy night in England.

An impatient knocking on the door brought him out of his reverie and to his door.


Mulder stepped back in surprise as she moved past him into his apartment, snapped on the light. Noted the bottle of whisky on the table, and the half-filled glass in his hand and pulled a face. <It must be pretty bad if he’s drinking that stuff>.

“Don’t say a word, Mulder. Just give me the file…..“She held out her hand and looked at him mulishly.

When he made no move to do so, she continued, “Skinner called me after you left. He said I was to accompany you on this one after all. And he asked me how much you had told me about it.” She paused. “I lied.”

She looked at him and held his gaze. “And now I want to know what the hell is going on, and why everyone is being so damned evasive about this case.”

She sat very still for a long time after reading all that was in the slim folder. Mulder took two cold beers out of the fridge, and came and sat down next to her. She took the one he handed to her, drank it down quickly, then leaned back and looked at him.

Mulder finally broke the silence. “Are you going to be all right with this?” he asked her gently.

“The question is, Mulder – are you? Are we?”


Wednesday 22nd May


They had traveled to Dulles separately. Scully reflected on the symbolism of this fact as she struggled to pick up her carry-on bag, her laptop, and her suitcase at the same time as the line to the check-in desk shuffled slowly forward. She had needed to go home and grab her things: Mulder had needed to swing past the office to pick up the hardware they would require to use their powerbooks in the UK.

She felt a light tap on her shoulder, and turned.

“I’m going through, Scully. I’ve….ah…for some reason, I’ll be flying First.”

“Not the Bureau’s doing, Mulder, I’m sure. One of your friends in England must have some influence,” she replied, dryly. The queue shuffled forward again, and Scully found herself at the front. “Don’t feel you have to wait for me Mulder…” she handed over her ticket and passport and was rewarded with the delightful news that her coach seat was right at the rear of the plane, in the middle of a row of three. When she turned back, Mulder had gone.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we’re real full tonight,” the desk clerk sighed and shook his head at her request for a reassigned seat.

“Great,” Scully muttered, turning away. She was not a happy flier at the best of times. “I guess I should be grateful to get a seat at all…”

35,000’ above the Atlantic Ocean. Day One. Wednesday 6.30am GMT

Vainly trying to find a more comfortable position in the cramped seat, Dana Scully reflected that she should at least be feeling some excitement at the prospect of visiting a country she had heard so much about. And notwithstanding that it was work, she was going with Fox Mulder, whom she loved, and who until the previous day she had been sure loved her although he had never told her so in words. She sighed. The case itself had some interesting aspects. It was early summer and the British Isles were bathed in an unexpected heatwave. But she knew quite well she would have been glad to hand this one over to someone else, and keep Mulder in his dingy basement office with her for the next few weeks.

She leaned her head back and her eyes fluttered closed. <Big mistake>. Unbidden, a picture of Mulder in his red speedos lying on an Hawaiian beach materialized in her imagination. Sighing, she reached again for the folder of statements and documents which Mulder had left with her.

They were ostensibly going at the behest of Ambassador Richard Matheson: at his express invitation. But Scully knew from the file which she had read twice already that the suggestion had originated with DCI Phoebe Green of Scotland Yard’s VIP Protection Squad, whom she had briefly met two years previously in the USA.

<Not damned briefly enough> she thought sourly, as she recalled their encounters.

Matheson and his family had come to the UK a year ago on a two-year posting. He had been offered the position of US Ambassador to Britain shortly after Fox Mulder’s last contact with him over the Talapus matter. She had wondered about that timing, and Mulder’s mind had raced quickly to conspiracy, since Matheson had been whispered of as one of the likely contenders for the Democratic nomination in the millenium presidential race.

But it seemed from the file that the explanation was both more mundane and more personally painful. One of his two boys was very sick with a rare form of lymphoblastic leukemia, and the center of excellence for this illness in the young was Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, in central London. If the child’s condition could be ameliorated anywhere it was in this place. Being posted to London meant that Matheson could spend as much time as possible both with the rest of his family, and the sick little boy. The ambassadorial appointment was therefore by way of a very brief detour from the road to the White House, rather than a complete side-track.

Dana flicked over the page and looked again at the photograph of the crashed car which had been taking Mrs Matheson and her son down to the country house in Somerset for the weekend. It had been a write-off: the driver was dead, and Mrs Matheson and Jon hadn’t been found until next day, wandering in a little lane near Glastonbury Tor, fifteen miles from the crash site.

Odd, certainly, though hardly a matter that required Mulder’s expertise. But an accompanying photo, a fuzzy black-and- white aerial view of the field in which the wrecked car had been found, had provided what Dana Scully felt sure was the excuse for bringing Mulder over from Washington.

The field was small by US standards, but was scattered with six perfectly formed circles where the crops had been flattened down. And according to the accompanying notes, one of the surrounding fields had exhibited a similar phenomenon, which had appeared on the night of the crash. Also according to the notes, local people had reported seeing unusual lights moving in the sky that night.

And then there was Mrs Matheson’s statements. Dana slapped the file shut, and slipped it back into her briefcase. Certainly enough to awaken Mulder’s interest here, especially given that Matheson had been a kind of friend.

But the fact remained that Fox Mulder had been called in at the suggestion of Inspector Phoebe Green, and Dana doubted bitterly that any other investigating officer would have paid so much attention to the crop circles and the wild statements of an hysterical woman in traumatic shock.

She leaned back again. If she didn’t get any sleep, she’d really be wiped by the time the plane landed. Her thoughts drifted back to the previous afternoon.

She had been numb after reading the file. The shock of discovering that Phoebe Green was the instigator of Mulder’s swift departure for England was then replaced by something akin to dread when she looked into Mulder’s eyes and saw the uncertainty and the pain reflected there….and what looked like pity.

“Are you going to be all right with this?” he had said to her softly, placing a hand gently on her shoulder.

And she had reached out and brushed her fingers lightly down the side of his face. “The question is, Mulder, are you? Are we?” Then she had moved her hand to the back of his head, leaned into him and grazed her lips across his mouth, questioning, until he had pulled gently away from her and said, “Go home, Dana. Pack. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow.”

And she had gathered the remnants of her dignity and gone. Recalling the moment she felt again the constriction in her chest as on first hearing his words and finding him unresponsive.

“As we are now commencing our descent to London Heathrow, may I ask that you fasten your seatbelts and extinguish all cigarettes.”

Dana Scully’s hands tightened on the arm-rests as the engine notes changed, the landing gear clunked into place, and the plane nosed down through the layer of early-morning cloud.


My son Jonathan and I were traveling from central London to Holbrook Manor. It was Friday evening. I had decided to bring my son to the country for a weekend together with the rest of the family before more intensive medical treatment began.. My husband and my other son were already waiting at the house. We were being driven by one of the staff drivers – an American, but I don’t know his name.

It was dark. I think we’d been traveling for about an hour and a half, when the driver pointed out to us a strange light in the sky. It looked to me like a luminous orange sphere bobbing up and down. Jonathan was very excited, so the driver stopped the Range Rover at the side of the road, and we got out to have a look.

This object bobbed above the trees. It was quite large, but I can’t give specific measurements. Then it stopped, and remained stationary, and what looked like a small piece of the sphere detached itself and flew off to the right. The larger sphere continued to hover, and revolve in a clockwise direction.

The small luminous ball swooped down over the adjacent fields in large circles, sometimes dipping so low that it seemed to disappear. The suddenly it flew up and rejoined the large orange object. This then moved smoothly towards us coming to an abrupt halt immediately above the car, where it remained stationary for what seemed like several minutes.

I don’t remember feeling frightened at this point, though I was holding Jonathan’s hand very tight. I can’t recall that it made any noise: I did hear dogs barking in the distance, and the sounds of restless cattle in the nearby fields.

Suddenly a bright beam of light engulfed us from above: when I looked down at Jonathan, I couldn’t believe it – I could see his bones. It was like looking at an X-ray plate. I could see the bones in his fingers and his arm, and in my arm and fingers too, where we were holding hands. And there was a peculiar noise at this point, too, a kind of hissing sound, like air being ejected. The beam of light vanished, and the sphere started to slowly move off. I still don’t remember feeling afraid, until I looked at my son’s face and all I could see were the bones of his skull. He had no eyes – I could clearly see his empty eye sockets.

I seemed to be frozen: I couldn’t move, or shout, for several minutes. A helicopter then appeared to the north of the luminous object, and a further two to the west and east. The sphere shot off south, blinking out at the first helicopter moved in toward it. The helicopter circled round a few times where the sphere had been and caught us in their powerful searchlights. Then the helicopters all moved off t the south, as if pursuing the object.

This last part all happened much more quickly than it has taken me to tell it.

We all then got back into the Range Rover, and continued down the country lane. Suddenly, as we rounded a bend, an intensely bright light appeared in the middle of the road. The driver swerved to avoid it, and the next thing I remember was coming round to find Jonathan and myself lying on the ground next to the car, which was in a ditch. I couldn’t see the driver of the car anywhere.

There were spacemen in white suits everywhere. Two of them took Jonathan and myself into an ambulance. I remember being given an injection, and nothing else until I woke up on a hillside, alone except for Jonathan. It was dusk. We wandered around until someone found us.

I don’t know where we were when we saw the strange objects in the sky, but I remember we had passed through the village of Long Aston.

I know that when the car went off the road it ended up in a ditch, and not in the middle of a field.

The American Ambassador’s stretched Daimler was waiting in the ‘no parking’ area outside Heathrow terminal 4 to carry them the seventy miles to the scene of the incident.

“I thought we were to be based in London?” queried Scully, turning to Mulder, who at that moment was preoccupied loading their luggage into the boot.

“Ambassador Matheson is staying at Holbrook Manor with his family while our investigations continue….so that seems to be the sensible place for you to stay,” Phoebe addressed Mulder. Her briefcase, coat and notes were scattered all over the back seat. “Agent Scully, if you would like to sit up front, John -” she gestured to the driver, ” will fill you in on where the local police have got so far with this case, and you can get an idea of the layout of the area as we get closer.”

“Actually, I’d prefer to sit in the back – maybe catch a little sleep.” Scully smiled tightly at the Englishwoman.

Phoebe took Mulder’s arm. ” I need to discuss with Agent Mulder some problems with Mrs Matheson’s statement before we get to the Manor. You’ll see Stonehenge on the way down, Agent Scully, won’t she, John?” The driver stood holding the door open for Scully.

<Shit…help me out here, Mulder…>

Mulder gently disengaged himself from Phoebe’s grasp, saying quietly to her, “I think we do need to talk, Phoebe.”

Feeling outmaneuvered, Scully took the seat next to the driver. The glass screen which separated the front from the rear seats was an effective barrier to sound.

Dana Scully was too proud to turn around to look, but when she pulled the sunshield down to check her hair in the little mirror, and just happened to glance back, she could see that Detective Inspector Green was sitting very close indeed to FBI Special Agent Mulder. <You bastard, Mulder. You could have backed me up there>

She sighed heavily, then turned to introduce herself to the man next to her. “Hi, I’m Dana Scully, FBI special agent. We’ve been sent to follow up any US angles on this.”

The driver, a man of about forty five, Dana judged, replied tersely, “Inspector John Buchanan”.

“Inspector…” Scully was taken-aback, and it showed on her face.

Buchanan smiled grimly at her reaction. “She,” he nodded towards the rear, “pulls strings to get what she wants, and enjoys keeping us boys in our place”. Scully saw that he glanced in his rear-view mirror, saw an expression of ill- concealed disgust cross his face. “Is she a friend of yours? She seems very friendly with your colleague.”

<Get a grip, Dana.> “I’ve met Detective Inspector Green before in the US,” replied Dana, as lightly as she could manage, “but my partner knew year twelve years ago when he was a student at Oxford”.

“Poor sod,” Buchanan said bitterly.

Dana Scully raised her eyebrows. Her own intense personal dislike of the woman notwithstanding, she was most surprised to hear Buchanan speaking in such an insulting way about one of his superiors to a stranger. He continued in the same vein, perhaps misinterpreting her reaction.

“Anyone who gets involved with her needs sympathy – I’ve seen her in action. We used to, “he paused, “work together at Scotland Yard, but I ended up transferred out here. The only good thing about which was, I never thought to see her again. And it’s Detective Chief Inspector Green now.”

Scully raised her eyebrows but did not reply. The landscape rolled by; the little fields of grain and pasture; the copses and spinneys., bathed in the morning sunlight. She closed her eyes – she was very tired, and she dozed for a while, unquiet.

She woke with a start and realized that they had left the motorway, were traveling down a country road, and that Buchanan had spoken to her.

“Just over this hill, and you’ll see Stonehenge, Agent Scully.” They crested the rise, and to her right she saw the stone circle which had stood since the time of the pyramids, for nearly five thousand years. <Now, there’s an X-file. How did they get those stones from Wales and Ireland!> She caught herself just in time as she turned to share the thought with Mulder.

And Stonehenge was gone, a disappointment: small and insignificant-seeming as the cars and lorries thundered past.. Ruthlessly keeping her eyes averted from the rear-view mirror, Scully turned to Buchanan. She might as well try and make some use of the time. “Can you tell me where you are in the investigation? There wasn’t much detail in our file”

Fox Mulder spent a very uncomfortable two hours in the back of the Daimler.

As the sky had darkened on Tuesday afternoon, and after Dana had left his apartment to pack – the distress he had caused her apparent on her face – he had thought very hard about this case, and why Phoebe had requested that he be assigned to it. Knowing her as he did, it was not a simple request for expertise – he knew that there would have to be an ulterior motive somewhere.

He did not flatter himself, however, that he was the ulterior motive, as such.

Their last painful encounter had convinced him that he could never be anything more to her than a pleasant way to while away a few hours, an amusing distraction. He wasn’t even sure that she was capable of a deep attachment to anybody. As much as it had hurt, that moment in Massachusetts two years ago when he had caught her with the man she was charged with protecting had been a powerful reminder of the hell he had gone through ten years before, when he had first become involved with her.

He shuddered to think of how all that might have turned out, if it hadn’t been for Dana’s persistence, her thoroughness in her search for the explanation, for the killer – and her refusal to allow him to shut her out. Quietly and stubbornly she had pursued the truth, in the face of Phoebe’s arrogance and his weakness – and had saved them all. In more ways than one.

But that encounter had also demonstrated to him that after ten years, and in the face of his intellectual knowledge that to get involved again with Phoebe Green was possibly the most damaging thing that he could do to his psyche, he felt powerless to resist when confronted by her physical presence, and her determination to entice him.

<You’re so fucking pathetic> he told himself. She was poison to him, yet he willingly drank from the cup she offered.

But Dana would be with him again. If he was ever going to feel free of Phoebe’s siren call, his best chance was with Dana Scully by his side – he knew that. But if he failed – it would hurt her so much more if she were forced to witness it.

However, the choice had been taken out of his hands. Now to make the best of it. Whatever Phoebe really wanted would become clear soon enough; the case itself was intriguing and offered the chance to help a man whom he admired.

And Dana had never been to England. It was very different from Hawaii, but <if we can get through this, we can get through anything>.

A baptism of fire it would be. And he hated fire.

He sat back in the leather seat of the Daimler, pretending to be asleep and thinking over again the conclusions he had reached the evening before, and the preparations he had made.

He’d had to admire Phoebe’s dexterity in getting him in the back with her and sticking Dana in the front. And he’d seen Dana take that peek at them in the vanity mirror. Once, that was all. Phoebe had noticed it, too, and her mouth had twitched in amusement: she had moved closer to Mulder deliberately.

But she hadn’t been so amused when Mulder had refused to discuss anything other than the case file, and when she wouldn’t talk about that, had pretended to fall asleep.

She knew he wasn’t asleep; he knew she knew – it was part of the game. And when the car drew to a halt, and he stretched ostentatiously and pretended to wake up – well, <first round to me, I think.>

And she was even less entertained to be told that contrary to her plans, Mulder and Scully were not going to stay at Holcombe Manor with the Ambassador – and Phoebe herself -, but had been booked into a suite at The Lygon Arms.

Extract from:- Hamilton’s Guide to England and Wales p236 Stoke Asham. As downloaded and read by Fox Mulder at 3.30am GMT Tuesday 2nd May, 35000’ above the Atlantic Ocean..

Stoke Asham

A small market town in Somerset, Stoke Asham is a popular stopping point for those on the trail of King Arthur, the legendary figure of Ancient Britain. Situated within easy distance of London (2hrs by car) the town is one of the several which claims to be the site of Camelot, the location of the fabled Round Table of Knights of honor. Stoke Asham has a better claim than most, as it is sited at the foot of the famous Cadbury Hill and castle ruins. A small museum houses many items if interest to the local historian and casual visitor. (10am to 5pm, Mon – Sat) The town also has a small racecourse which holds meetings throughout the year (tel:01676 45798).
Accommodation: The Lygon Arms (5*) This famous building, whose ivy-clad exterior is familiar to many visitors, well deserves its reputation as one of the country’s premier hotels. Formerly a coaching inn, the building was tastefully extended in the 1930’s by the architect David Plymouth-Wells, and now houses one of the finest collections of art deco artifacts open to the general public. The 52 rooms (all with private facilities) and 7 suites are decorated either in traditional regency style, or art deco.
No children under 12. CC . Rates: #####
Days out:- Cadbury Hill; Glastonbury & Tor: Wells Cathedral; Bath (Pump Rooms & Cathedral); Stonehenge; Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton.

It was mid-morning by the time the car pulled up in front of the police station in the little market town of Stoke Asham, the closest center of population to Holbrook Manor. Scully was still pissed with Mulder . He had ditched her on the plane – okay, she knew that was unfair. It wasn’t his fault that he’d been given a first-class ticket. Or that there were no spare seats available together in coach – she knew he had asked the Stewardess. He had even tried bribing the elderly woman in the seat next to Scully, by offering to exchange his seat for hers, but she had refused, saying “I’m settled here nicely, thank you, young man, and here I’m staying.”

Nor was it his fault that the flight had been rather turbulent and the passengers had been required to stay in their seats for most of the time. But being stuck up front with the dour Inspector Buchanan had done nothing to improve Scully’s mood. So she noted with some satisfaction that as she climbed from the car DCI Green seemed to be sulking. Mulder appeared at her side as she hauled their luggage from the boot.

“Hey, how’s it going?” he smiled down at her. He noticed she looked very tired; knew that she rarely slept on planes. “Let’s get settled in over there,” he gestured across the street, ” and get some lunch.”

“Mulder, it may be lunchtime here, but my body’s still operating on DC time. Strong coffee is what I need.” She looked across at the hotel. “I kind of assumed from what Buchanan was saying that we’d be staying at Holbrook Manor…”

Mulder gave her a sideways look. “That’s what Phoebe arranged… it’s where she’s staying. Uh… I didn’t think it’d be such a great idea though… and here, we’re near the resources of the local police – and I think we’re going to need a lot of help from them.”

<So that’s why she’s in a snit> thought Dana with some satisfaction, as she picked up her bags. Mulder noticed the slight smile which briefly crossed her face, but made no comment.

“And how, exactly, do you intend to explain this to Skinner when he has to sign our expenses?” They had been shown up to a suite, which comprised a bedroom, bathroom and separate living room. The furniture was exquisite: the bed, a draped four-poster with cream linen, the pale walls, carpets and soft furnishings in contrast to the dark wood.

Fox Mulder was bouncing on the edge of the bed. He smiled softly at her. “Seems OK!”

“Mulder-r…” She smiled back, but he saw the questions in her eyes.

“It’s not Hawaii….but Skinner doesn’t need to know. As far as he’s concerned we’re staying at the Ambassador’s residence. I wanted to take you somewhere nice – this is the best I can do at the moment.”

“Nice doesn’t begin to describe it.” She came and sat next to him on the bed, touched his arm briefly. Mulder turned his head to her, and there was such – tenderness – there that she had to look away from his gaze, afraid she would lose herself again. She would find it hard to endure the sting of another rebuff, however carefully delivered, but when he looked at her like that she just wanted to fall into his eyes. She cleared her throat and stood up. “You don’t have to do this, Mulder. ”

In reply to this, he led her to the door which separated the bedroom from the living area. “Out there, we’re Special Agents Mulder and Scully, and we’ve come here to work. But in here,” he gestured to the bed, “we’re Dana and Fox. We need this, Dana. I need it.”

“And I need a shower, Mulder. Go and organize some coffee and let me get changed.”

“Okay.” Mulder smiled softly at her, touched her cheek. “I’ll be back in ten.”

Scully stripped off her clothes quickly, and turned the shower as hot as she could get it to run. Easing the stiffness of her muscles under the hot needles, she wondered exactly why he had booked them into this hotel. She knew what he had been trying to tell her, trying to do. To make up in some small way for their wrecked vacation. To give them a chance to be together away from the Bureau’s gossip any prying eyes.

But she wondered about the reasons there might be which he wouldn’t even acknowledge to himself. She was sure she had detected a hint of desperation in his voice. Deep within Dana’s soul a small spark of doubt was fanned into being. <What is it that you need, Mulder?> Not to be alone with Phoebe was she wanted for herself – or merely as a shield against the Englishwoman’s blinding light.

Shaking her head, Dana pulled herself from this introspection. It was time for work – and the sooner the case could be dealt with, the sooner they could leave.

“Damn, damn, damn!” Phoebe Green slammed the car in second gear and braked hard as she careened round a blind corner on the country road which led back to Holbrook Manor. She felt the back wheels of the car slip slightly, then accelerated away in a spray of gravel, her hands gripping the wheel tightly. It was not going according to plan. She was astonished by her failure to persuade Fox Mulder to use the Lodge as a base for his enquiries. She felt her eyes prick with tears.

“Christ, this is ridiculous.” It had seemed such a clever idea, so opportunely presented that she hadn’t been able to resist it, to request that Mulder lend his expertise to this case. A senior member of Scotland Yard’s VIP Protection Unit, she had been assigned to Ambassador Matheson’s household to oversee his personal security nearly a year ago when he and his family had first arrived in the country. Matheson had been very keen when she suggested that her friend Fox Mulder had some experience which might just prove helpful in this case: she herself had been surprised to find out they were old acquaintances.

“What do you mean, he won’t be staying at the Manor?” Matheson had been icy when she had informed him minutes earlier that Mulder and Agent Scully had booked into the Lygon Arms. “I thought you said you were friends, Phoebe. I need his full co-operation in this matter, and if there’s any problem…”

“No..” Her assured manner had convinced him. She thought. “No problem, Richard. He’ll be out there this afternoon. I’m coming back now to make sure everything’s ready.” And she had rung off before he had a chance to say any more.

She reached over and pulled a Kleenex out of the glove-compartment, then patted the makeup round her eyes very carefully.<Don’t want him to know he can upset me.>

The action brought vividly to her mind the first time she had met Matheson. She had come to her new assignment straight from a painful confrontation with Malcolm Marsden, the government minister she had been protecting when she had last seen Fox Mulder. She and Marsden had enjoyed what until that point she had thought of as a perfect relationship. They both knew where they stood: there was no chance of permanent commitment on either side, but the sex was wonderful, and, for Phoebe, the thrill of the double life she led – professional and business-like with Marsden in public and lascivious in the snatched moments together – added real spice to the relationship. And she loved her life, close to the heart of real power, feeling part of the subtle shiftings and maneuverings that shaped the world.

So it had come as a shock to her to be called into the ACC and told she was being reassigned at the request of Sir Malcolm. The burning shame she had felt at that moment, standing in front of her boss, she would never forget. She had too much pride to ask the ACC for any explanation, but on leaving his office had rushed at once round to the House of Commons and into Marsden’s chambers.

“How dare you..” she hissed. “How dare you have me pulled off my assignment…”

Marsden got up and locked the door. Phoebe moved close to him and tilted her head up to look at him – he was a tall man. But instead of the expected kiss, Marsden grabbed her hair and yanked her head back so that her neck was twisted painfully.

“My wife has found out. She gave me a choice – you or her and the children. Losing my family would mean losing my career. Any word of our little liaison would mean losing my career. I do not intend to lose my career because of a meaningless fling with an upper-class tart like you, my dear.”

His breath was hot on her face. “Now, we’ve had a nice time together. Lets kiss and say good-bye.”

His eyes glittered, and he gave her hair a last fierce pull, then let go suddenly.

“You bastard,” she seethed, rubbing her neck. “Why like this? It goes in my file as a black mark.”

She watched him, appraising. He had surprised her, this one. She hadn’t thought him capable of such – spirit.

“That’s the way my wife wanted it.” She was going to leave here with her dignity intact. She walked to the door and unlocked it, then moved back to Marsden. Reaching up, she straightened his tie, brushed his shoulders down, and stepped back.

She smiled at him. A dangerous smile – her killer Cleopatra smile.

“It’s been fun, Malcolm.”

Then, as his face relaxed into complacence, she reached down, grabbed his crotch and twisted his testicles so tightly that he cried out in pain, slumping back against the desk. “I’ll go quietly, Sir Malcolm” she said. “But I’m not having my career on the line either. I’m going to be very disappointed if I’m not DCI Green by Christmas, and when I’m disappointed, sometimes I start talking to the wrong people…..”

“You bitch..” he gasped out.

“Yes, it’s what I’m good at,” she said, closing the door softly behind her.

But when she had got back to her car she had sat and cried. Cried very carefully, so her eye-makeup wouldn’t run. <Fuck them all; they were all bastards.> She grinned slightly through her tears. <Fuck them all?> Well, she was trying, anyway.

Then had she retrieved a tissue from the glove compartment, patted the tears dry, taken a deep breath, and driven straight to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square where Ambassador Matheson was waiting to meet her.

Damn Fox Mulder for making her look a fool in front of Matheson. She’s make him sorry for that, and have a bit of fun too. And how dare he bring that ice-bitch partner of his with him! There were plenty of ways to get Mulder … interested again. She pulled the car into the side of the road, pulled out her mobile phone, and placed a call to the Centre for Crop Circle Research.



England. Day One – Afternoon.

A rental car had been arranged and was waiting for them. With Scully reading the map and Mulder driving, they made their way along the country lanes to Holcomb Manor.

“Inspector Buchanan gave me some interesting background on the crop circle thing, and the name of a useful contact,” Scully informed him.

“You seemed to be having a very intense conversation,” said Mulder mildly.

<You don’t know the half of it, Mulder.> “Do you want to compare notes, or would your conversation with Inspector Green make me blush?”

“She didn’t tell me much we didn’t already know.”

<I’ll just bet she didn’t>.

Showing their ID’s to a security guard they drove through iron gates and up a long gravel pathway, Holbrook Manor appearing before them as they rounded an avenue of trees. It was a large neo-classical building, with two wings, and a porticoed entrance. Phoebe Green was standing on the front steps, and watched as Mulder parked the rented Mondeo next to a very nice ivory 1972 Morgan.

“Still got the same car, I see,” Mulder observed to her.

“Yes, isn’t she still lovely – a classic now, of course. Many fond memories of adventures in my little car,” she replied, with a knowing look at Mulder. Phoebe took his arm possessively and led him into the house, leaving Scully to follow. Scully made a mental note to find out in detail about the staff who kept a place as large as this running smoothly – after the fiasco in Massachusetts she would make sure the domestic staff were fully checked-out this time…..

Ambassador Richard Matheson was awaiting them in the library. Scully stood back and watched as he shook Mulder’s hand warmly. “Fox, glad you’re able to come and help us out. I understand you and DCI Green are old friends.” It was a statement, not a question.

Scully had seen Matheson on television, but had never met him before. For Mulder’s sake she would be polite to the man: because it was her job she would do her very best to find out what had happened to his wife – but she could not forgive him for his failure to respond to her desperate attempts to contact him and seek his aid when Mulder had been stuck on that train in Iowa. Mulder might trust him – as much as he trusted anyone – but Scully was sure this man had his own agenda. His was, first and foremost, a politician.

“My partner, Special Agent Dana Scully.” Dana stepped forward, her gaze cool and steady: the Ambassador’s handshake was firm.

“I’ve followed with interest your – investigations – with Fox, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to meet you at last. “<Yeah, right – now that you want something >…but his bright brown eyes seemed sincere. He was a man of above average height, with greying hair; tanned and fit. If this was an example of his expertise in pressing the flesh, she concluded, he would make a good candidate. If she hadn’t known better, she might have thought he was really interested in her.

Matheson continued, “Phoebe – DCI Green will show you to my wife’s rooms. I am most anxious that this matter be – ah – concluded satisfactorily as soon as possible. Any way I can help, let me know.”

Scully had read Mrs Matheson’s statement several times on the plane. She knew that the little boy was back in the London Hospital, very sick. She had half-expected that the woman would be there with her son.

Phoebe led them through a maze of corridors to a room on the other side of the house, explaining – to Mulder, Scully noticed with a wry smile – that Mrs Matheson’s rooms and the children’s were in this separate wing so that they were well away from all the official comings and goings.

Annelise Matheson was clearly nervous. She was a small, well-rounded, very pale woman who was, Scully judged, in her early forties. Somehow she couldn’t quite see Mrs Matheson as the First Lady.

“Annie,” Phoebe Green spoke to her softly, almost as if she were a child, “these are the people Dick wants you to talk to.” The blinds were pulled down, and the air in the room was thick. Mrs Matheson stubbed out the cigarette she was smoking in an overflowing ashtray.

“I don’t want to go through all this again……I have a headache….” She looked as if she were about to cry.

“Dick wants you to help them. It’s important to him, Annie, you know it is…..” Phoebe was interrupted by her pager, and left the room to take a telephone call.

Mulder began. “Mrs Matheson, was there anything unusual about the journey before you stopped to look at the lights in the sky?” Scully listened as Mulder led the reluctant woman carefully and thoroughly through the statement she had made to the police, clarifying here, expanding there – questioning with patience and respect.

She seemed to relax a little under his gentle probing: they had left a little later than usual, was all. She leaned forward, on the edge of her seat, and looked into Mulder’s eyes, seeking understanding. The spacemen in white suits – well, they were dressed from head to toe in white, and moving across the field and on the nearby hillside; they wore thick, dark gloves and boots, and they carried instruments.

“What kind of instruments, Mrs Matheson?”

No-one had believed her story enough to ask her questions of this kind before. She lit another cigarette. “Like the things people use on beaches – you know, to find treasure. Metal detectors. They were picking things up, and putting them in big, containers – not glass, I don’t think, but like glass.”

Dana Scully spoke. Mrs Matheson started at her voice: she seemed to have forgotten Scully was there. “I’m a medical doctor, ma’am. Can you tell me anything about the ambulance, about what was said and what happened to you and your son. As you know, the police haven’t been able to track down any ambulance crew …”

“You don’t believe me, do you,” Mrs Matheson interrupted, turning a fierce gaze on Scully. “He does….I can see it in his eyes. But you….,” she gestured dismissively, “you’re like all the rest….just want to shut me up, shut me away in some hospital and never let me see my children again….” Tears pooled in the woman’s eyes, and her voice became shrill.. “Why would I make up something like this?….”

“Mrs Matheson,” Dana said, confused, “no-one is trying to take your children away”. She glanced across at Mulder, and frowned. “We’re trying to find out what happened….”

“I don’t want to talk to you anymore….I don’t care what Richard says. Or Inspector Green. Only him,” She pointed at Mulder. “Go on….get out!” she wailed . “Get out before I have you thrown out, you whore….”

“Annelise”. The Ambassador’s voice, unexpected, cut across her hysteria. He had entered the room with Phoebe Green toward the end of his wife’s outburst. Turning to Scully he said, “I think it would be best if you were both to leave now. My wife clearly needs to rest. She will talk to you again later if you feel it’s necessary to ask further questions.”

And quite firmly, with his hand in the small of her back, he ushered Scully out of the room, and held the door open for Mulder to follow. Looking back, Scully saw the look of triumph on Phoebe Green’s face.

“I’m sure Mrs Matheson will talk with Agent Mulder later on, when she’s …calmer,” Phoebe said, silkily, as she shut the door in their faces.

Dana Scully leaned back in her chair and stretched, then massaged the muscles at the base of her neck with her fingers to try and get rid of the ache. She had been ploughing through a mountain of paperwork for hours – everything on record about the incident at Stoke Easton police station: all the witness statements, weather reports, airplane movement reports and details of enquiries made to locate the ambulance which Annelise Matheson said had transported her away from the site of the car crash.

Mulder had remained behind at the Ambassador’s residence to go through personnel details of everyone who was, or had been, employed at the house, plus the record of the unfortunate driver who had died – and maybe, with luck, to speak to Mrs Matheson again.. Dana had returned in their rental car. Since her presence had seemed to antagonize the woman, she had reasoned that her time would better be spent here. She was angry…somehow, she had lost control of the situation with Annelise Matheson, and looking back on it, she couldn’t see how it had got so out of hand. The woman’s demeanour had changed so suddenly…….

Scully sighed, and hoped that Mulder would have better luck without her. There was plenty to do here. She’d been trying all afternoon to contact the pathologist who had conducted the autopsy on the dead driver to get a copy of his report, which hadn’t yet been filed with the Coroner.

She opened up her powerbook and began listing the areas where the information was scant, or where there were queries or inconsistencies. She was puzzled that there were no reports of medical tests on either Mrs Matheson or her son Jonathan.

Mrs Matheson had apparently been insistent from the moment she was first found that she had been administered a drug by injection after the crash and Scully was astonished that no medical tests at all had been run, and that the only medical attention that she had received on record was to be taken to the local District hospital and checked for signs of exposure.

As there were no such signs she had been released immediately and returned to the lodge within hours of her rescue. “That’s weird in itself…..if she’d been out overnight and all the next day, with no food or drink….”

Her son of course had not fared so well: he had been in an exceedingly weak condition when they were found and an air ambulance had flown him back to London, to GOS and the consultants who were familiar with his condition. There were however no medical or toxicological reports for him in the files held locally, and Scully decided that she would need to travel to London and talk to his doctors there. If indeed an unknown drug had been administered to Mrs Matheson and her son such as to cause them to be rendered senseless for nearly 24 hours this would be an important indicator that something very strange indeed was going on here.

Tests which may have been done on the boy would be the only way of obtaining this information at this stage; Scully shook her head in disbelief that such tests had not been performed on Mrs Matheson when she was found, although she appreciated the fact that the local police force and hospital staff had not taken seriously the story she had told of her missing hours.

“Hey Scully!” Dana looked round to see Mulder standing in the doorway. “You coming to get something to eat?”.

Scully looked at her watch: it was 9.15pm “I’ve still got at least a couple of hours of work to do here. You want to stay and split these with me – then we can eat?” She smiled up at him. Despite his five-o’clock shadow and the tiredness evident around his eyes, he still looked good.

Mulder’s expression was rueful. “Sorry, Scully – Phoebe’s arranged for me to meet some of the crop-circle people in a local pub for a little off- the- record chat.”

The door was pushed open further, and Phoebe Green entered the room. “Come on Agent Scully!”

<God, I hate the way she pronounces my name – I’m sure she does it on purpose>

“Don’t be a party pooper – I bet you’ve never even been to a real English pub!” Somewhere along the line Phoebe Green had managed to change into a casual outfit of jodhpurs, boots and a fine knit cream wool sweater, topped with a distinctive Barbour gilet. Dana felt grimy and crumpled in her business suit.

Mulder stepped into the room, his eyes warm. “Come on – we can finish in the morning. It’s been a long day.” He held out his hand to Dana. “Time for some R & R!”

Scully let out a little sigh. “Okay,” she nodded, and noted the way Mulder’s posture visibly relaxed.

The phone rang as she was turning out the lights. Phoebe Green answered it. “It’s Talbot, the pathologist.” She handed the receiver to Scully.

After a few words, Dana turned to Mulder, regret evident in her expression. With her hand over the mouthpiece she said quickly, “He’s faxing me the report – I catch up with you in a while, if I can,” and waved them off.

It was only quarter of an hour later, when she’d finished going through the fax with Talbot, that she realized she had no idea which pub they’d gone to. < Smart move, Dana.> She turned back to the pile of folders, and powered up her Notebook once more.

They left Phoebe’s car parked at the police station and walked the ten minutes to the pub through the balmy darkened evening.

<This isn’t good, Mulder, you’re letting her take charge again!> as Phoebe took his arm. He gently disengaged himself from her grasp.

“How did you come across these guys, Phoebe? I didn’t think you’d taken this crop circle thing seriously enough to have these kind of contacts.”

“Ah, Agent Mulder, you should know that I’m very thorough, and I always do my research. ” Something in the tone of her voice made Mulder wary, but she continued, “I may not believe in little green men drawing patterns in the Somerset fields, but something made the marks in the corn, and something happened to Annelise Matheson and her son. At the very least they were both missing for nearly 24 hours, and after three weeks we’ve still got no idea where they were in those hours or how they got to the place where they were found.”

The White Lion was situated on the outskirts of Stoke Easton. Its customers came from nearby villages and farms as well from the little town itself. It had a reputation as a ‘real ale’ pub, and so also attracted visitors from up to an hour’s drive away who came to sample its range of over thirty traditionally brewed English beers.

It also happened to be located immediately opposite the building which housed the Society for Crop Circle Research. And it didn’t serve food.

As they pushed open the door and entered the smoke haze, Phoebe whispered “We took statements from some of these blokes, but I think they’ll be more open in their opinions on what was found in the field in an informal chat. Some of them are a bit prickly, shall we say. And George – George Hedly – won’t be here tonight, but I understand you’re going to see him tomorrow anyway.”

Mulder was introduced to three men sitting in a corner. A fourth had leapt to his feet at the sight of Phoebe and had rushed off to buy a round of drinks. Mulder had never been able to analyze what it was about her that made her so effortlessly captivating, but the young man returning from the bar with a tray of drinks was clearly in her thrall. The lad didn’t take his eyes off her face for the whole duration of her stay.

Mulder had never been particularly fond of English beer, but observing the silent reverence with which these men took the first sip of the drinks now before them, he knew that appreciation and admiration for the brew he was drinking was expected. In fact, as he had anticipated, it was warm and flat and had a bitter, treacly taste. He took a long draught, and put his glass on the table, then looked up to find three pairs of expectant eyes watching him. “I haven’t tasted anything like that in a long time,” he stated truthfully.

He caught the hint of amusement in Phoebe’s eyes. She knew quite well his dislike of this stuff; knew also that he’s have to drink it and maybe another if he wanted to get anything useful out of these men.

<She’s set you up!>

If there were a Cereological equivalent of the Lone Gunmen, Mulder decided that three men in front of him would certainly qualify. They regaled him with stories of how darker forces had been at work in 1992 creating an explosion of media interest in the huge numbers of crop circles which appeared that summer. Then, in a conspiracy reaching to the heart of government, it was revealed to a breathless public that the crop circles were faked.

“They played us for suckers.” said one of the men, bitterly. “And some of us were taken in.”

“Aye, yer can’t get nobody to take us seriously no more. I remember them days, 1992…we ‘ad ‘em all down ‘ere – journalists hidin’ in hedges, tv reporters up trees with their cameras and night vision lenses all chasin’ eachothers tails…”

“Now yer couldn’t get a journalist or tv crew down ‘ere if Elvis hisself were dancin’ naked in field each night readin’ bits’ve Holy Bible.”

“You’ll excuse us Mr Mulder if we sound bitter. It wears you down, year after year tryin’ to get the willfully blind to see the truth.”

Mulder nodded, sympathetically. “Did anyone actually see first hand any of the circles in the field where the car was found?”

Three men exchanged knowing glances. “By the time we knew summat was up yer couldn’t get near the place for p’lice cars and army ‘elicopters…”

They were startled by an interruption from the young man who had spent the whole evening staring at Phoebe. “I did see ‘um,” he said, louder than he had intended, and then blushed as they all looked at him.

“Garn, you’n just be showin’ off!”

“I did, though! My brother, he works for Willium Roberts who that field belongs to. He phoned me up right early that mornin’ and told me to get mesself down there, ‘cos someth’n was up. When I got down there there weren’t but a few policemen. Me and Bob we ‘ad a good look…..round the edges of th’ field, tho’ not in’th’middle.” The young man swallowed nervously, unused to being the centre of attention.

“Funny you never told us this before, then!”

“When all them p’lice cars and ‘elicopters arrived Bob said us’d be in trouble if his boss found out, so I ain’t told nobody. Anyhow, it didn’t seem to be important. Them weren’t real crop circles anyway.”

Mulder leaned forward, his eyes narrowed. “You can be sure about that?”

The young man snorted in derision. “I know a fake when I see it, and these weren’t even good fakes – all rough shapes and corn was all broken and laying different ways. They might’ve looked all right from an airplane, but close up they was rubbish – wouldn’t’ve fooled a baby. Except,” he paused dramatically, having relaxed into the telling of his story, “Except – that there were one in the next field that were different, only by the time we got there to have a look, like, Bob saw the ‘elicopters and said we ‘ad to leave.”

One of the other men prompted, “Well, what d’yer mean it were different?”

“We didn’t get a right good look, as I said, but it were bigger, it were like the really good ones – smooth, an’ the grain were flat, and all layin’ in the same way like a wave’d gone round – and the stalks didn’t seem to be snapped nowhere, just bent. You know how it’s kind of…..woven,it looks….well I thought it were like that, but I couldn’t swear to it. It were in the middle of this field with all these damn silly little rings around it – but like I told you, we buggered off as soon as all them military types started to arrive! Tell you what, though..” He had his audience now. “Bob told me something strange. After’em’d took car out’ve the field, two blokes from the air base turned up on Farmer Roberts’ doorstep’n give him fifty thousand pound to ‘arvest them two fields immediately!”

“Fifty thousand pound? To harvest two fields? And it weren’t ready for harvestin’!” The other men muttered their astonishment loudly.

“It may not’ve been ready, but he didn’t care did he? Got his fifty thousand in the bank and stuff the weather!”

Mulder interrupted, “Did they give him any reason for this?”

“Well, Bob said they told Roberts they didn’t want no journalists around makin’ a fuss.”

“Didn’t do no good then, ‘coz it were in’t papers next day. Everyone knew about it. They didn’t try much to keep it quiet!”

“They ‘ad that photo in the paper!”

Phoebe leaned forward across the table and touched the young man’s hand. “That was very interesting … will you carry the drinks while I buy another round?”

The boy flushed deep red, and followed her to the bar.

“He’s in there all right then!”

“Don’t you be so danged silly. High-class piece like that won’t be interested in our Robin – he’s still wet behind the ears!”

Mulder shifted uncomfortably at this turn in the conversation. He felt in his coat pocket for his cellphone to call Scully, then recalled he was in England. Even if he had it with him, it wouldn’t work here – and they hadn’t yet picked up their loaned cellphones from the Stoke Easton police.

Phoebe returned to the table trailed by the young man carrying the glasses. She turned to Mulder. “Agent Mulder, you really must try the most famous of the ales they have here.”

Mulder gave her an evil look as she placed in front of him a pint glass of what looked an even darker, stronger and more sinister potion than before.

He wondered how long it would be before he could decently make his excuses and leave. <Not a good idea, Mulder – strong beer on an empty stomach> He needed to clear his head, and make notes of the information garnered in the evening. His mind drifted away from the esoteric conversation which was now taking place concerning the various points of contrast between the Great Circle of Tilsbury and the Wapshott Hieroglyph.

He watched Phoebe Green as she flirted with the young, strong farm-lad. Her enchantment over the lad was total, and Mulder wondered what the hell she was playing at – there was something compulsive, heightened, that he didn’t understand about her behaviour.

“Last orders please!” called a voice from the bar. It was eleven o’clock. Where was Scully?

<Shit.> He remembered they hadn’t actually told her where they were going – hell, he hadn’t known himself. She was going to be royally pissed. “Where can I make a phone call?” he enquired of his companions.

The phone-box was outside, in the pub car-park. It stank of grime and urine. There was no telephone directory; a sullen operator eventually came up with the number for the hotel and he fumbled in his pockets only to find he didn’t have the right coins to make the call. <Fuck it> he thought fiercely, slamming the door of the booth shut behind him.

Phoebe was waiting for him in the darkness. Her fingertips lightly brushed his arm.

“Nice tie, Mulder.” She moved closer, until her hips were pressed into his groin, keeping hold of the tie, effectively holding him like a dog on a lead.

“You used to be more subtle, Phoebe.” He put his hands on her shoulders, tried to pull back, but she held tight to his tie, ground her hips into his, and with her free hand pulled his head forward and kissed him deeply.

The scent of her, her electric touch, the alcohol buzzing in his head, her hungry mouth….he felt himself respond to her….

And she stopped, swayed back from him, ran both her hands down inside his suit jacket, down, and finding him hot and hard, pressed and teased for a brief second and….laughed in his face. “Soon, Agent Mulder, soon…”

The pub door opened, and their companions stepped out into the night. Phoebe turned to the young farm-hand, Robin, slipped her arm into his, and whispered something in his ear. As the two of them walked off together, Phoebe Green called back, “Goodnight, Agent Mulder….sweet dreams!”

Even Phoebe Green, thought Dana, as she relaxed back into a bathtub of warm exotic scented bubbles, even she couldn’t have planned that particular confusion to get Mulder by herself. When he hadn’t called to let her know where they were she had briefly considered a round-trip of the local inns to find him. But then she had stopped at the front desk on her way out for some guidance on where to begin, and the friendly desk sergeant had pointed out that there were over twenty pubs in the vicinity….so she had decided to return to the hotel, and get ready for…..bed.

She lay back into the bubbles and felt the tension of the past few days begin to dissipate. She felt good. She’d finished the work she’d set herself that evening. Tomorrow she and Mulder could really start into the case.

The sensual aroma of vanilla surrounded her, and she reached out for the glass of white wine she had poured herself from the bottle which had been cooling in the minibar. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. Mulder would be back soon, and she would be clean and warm and languorously waiting for him…. she would tease him a little about this evening…they would finish the wine together, and then….well, there was only the one bed.

Setting her empty glass down, Dana soaped herself all over, then washed off the scented lather with her fingertips. She shivered slightly as she imagined soon his strong sensitive fingers touching those same places, running over her skin…her eyes closed, as sweet anticipation of the fulfillment of her desire began to build achingly. Soon Fox, come back soon. She had waited so long for this night.

She dried her hair and brushed it till it was a soft coppery cloud around her face. Wrapped only in the bathtowel, she took out of her suitcase a small package enclosed in tissue paper. Her packing for this trip had been hasty, but she had not forgotten this. With hands which trembled ever so slightly, she unfolded the crinkling paper revealing an ivory silk Victorian night-gown, with low cut neck and long sleeves gathered at the wrists. There was a history here.

<Well, this is it> she smiled to herself as she slipped the delicate garment down over her shoulders, and loosened the ribbons on the neck so that it fell down around her shoulders to rest on her breasts.

She dimmed all the lights in the bedroom and fetched herself another glass of wine. Then she lay back against the soft pillows on the antique bed to wait for Fox Mulder.

By the time he had arrived back at the hotel, Mulder had composed himself a little, but his hand shook slightly as he unlocked the door to the room. He felt nauseous with self- loathing.

The outer room of the suite was in darkness; a soft light gleamed through the barely-open bedroom door. All was quiet. He let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding – Scully must be asleep; it was late, and she’d had a long day.

He knew for sure that he could not sleep with her – or even next to her – tonight. He would have to tell her what had happened, what he had felt, he knew that. But he wouldn’t wake her now.

Carefully, quietly, Mulder transferred the piles of folders from the couch to the table. He looked around for a cupboard which might hold extra bedding but could find none, so gathered up the cushions from the two easy chairs to use as pillows. Stripping off down to his underwear he folded his clothes onto the back of a chair. But before he could lie down and attempt to rest he realized he needed to use the bathroom.

Mulder opened the door to the bedroom noiselessly, but his eyes were inescapably drawn to the figure on the bed. Dana Scully lay curled up atop the covers of the four-poster. Her glorious hair fanned out around her on the cream linen sheets. She was pale and smooth and cool, except for her lips, moist, red and slightly open. She sighed and shifted her position slightly, so the ivory nightgown slipped further down her shoulder, exposing more of her soft, pale breasts.

Mulder saw the wineglass on the nightstand; saw the half-full bottle and extra glass had been placed on the other side of the bed, his side of the bed – and understood. She had been waiting there for him.

He moved towards the bed and looked down at the sleeping woman. She was so beautiful – a rush of tenderness almost stopped his breath – and she had been waiting for him. Despite his withdrawal from her over recent days and his failure to respond to her tentative kiss, she had been willing to put her feelings on the line for him one more time. He moved a stray lock of hair off her forehead with a gentle finger, then bent down and touched his lips lightly to hers.

Then he lay on the couch in the darkness and raged at his weakness, for the shudder of desire and wanting that had passed through him at Phoebe’s touch, for the tainting of the pure, clear love he had carried inside him for Dana Scully, until he fell into a fitful and exhausted sleep.

Much later, he was aware of a cool hand on his shoulder, and a low voice in his ear, of someone taking his hand, and leading him to a soft bed, and laying him down. Then a gentle kiss, and a familiar scent enfolding him as he drifted into a peaceful slumber.


Thursday 23rd May

The Lygon Arms. 7.45 am.

“Hi”. Scully looked up with a bright smile as Mulder emerged from the bedroom wearing his robe. She was dressed, eating breakfast which had been delivered to the room, and looking at an Ordnance Survey map of the area. “Want some coffee? I warn you, though, it’s pretty grim!”

He sat down next to on the sofa, and stared at the map she was studying. The coffee was, indeed, disgusting. Scully pointed at the map.

“There,” she indicated, “is where the car was found. And here is where Mrs Matheson and her son turned up.”

Mulder chewed on a piece of cold toast, thoughtfully. “There’s no way they could possibly have walked that far. Even across country…”

“And especially not with a sick little boy. No, they were taken there and left by someone.”

“Or something..” Mulder said this last cautiously, giving Scully a sideways glance. It was part of the game between them. He would be deliberately provocative in his conjectures and Scully would respond with her ‘Don’t start, Mulder’ patented gaze. But he was unsure how she would react this morning.

When he had woken up, he had found no trace of the wine glasses by the bedside, and folded up and lying neatly on the pillow on Scully’s side of the bed were her usual blue pajamas. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what that meant.

Now Scully was behaving as if nothing had happened. Well, he mused, nothing had happened. Was she attributing his reluctance to share the bedroom with her as merely his fear of disturbing her. He would like to think that: it would make him feel better – but he didn’t really believe it.

“Mulder,” she interrupted his reverie, “I’ll need to go to London to talk to Jonathan Matheson’s doctors; do you know if Mrs Matheson is going up to the hospital anytime soon? If I go with her, it might make it easier to get the information I need.”

“We can go up to the Manor after we’ve seen George Hedley. I’d like to take a quick look at the field where the car was found, and the road from which Mrs Matheson said she was the object in the sky….thought we might do that first this morning.”

“Okay – as soon as you’re ready.” Scully turned back to her papers.

Mulder studied her profile. “Scully, about last night….”

“Right.” She looked back up at him. “Did you find out anything useful?”

He returned her steady gaze. Dana Scully was in denial mode, he recognized. She really was going to say nothing about it, pretend it never happened, that she hadn’t been waiting for him like a bri… <Now where did that thought spring from?> <Be grateful for the reprieve> he told himself. “I’ll fill you in on the drive to the field.”

He watched her as she moved to gather up the map and papers, folding and organizing into neat piles. Should he tell her what had happened – well, what nearly happened? Unburden his guilty conscience – now that would be a selfish thing to do. How would it help Scully to know that Phoebe still had the power to turn him on with the touch of her fingers?

On the other hand, they would be coming back to this room – to this bed – tonight. Mulder closed his eyes briefly. It had seemed a damned good idea sitting on that airplane, but now……he’d rushed them into this situation and it looked like it had been a big mistake. He had things he needed to work though himself before he should even begin to consider trusting himself to lie in that bed next to Dana Scully.

And then she looked up at him, and gave him that blessed smile. “Off your butt, G-man! We’ve got places to go, people to see.”

10.30 am.

It was a grey, cool overcast morning, and the pair walked around the outer perimeter of the two fields. There was little left to see.

The two fields had been shaved bare – all that was left was stubble a few inches high. The earth in the middle of the larger field was churned up where the car had been removed: there were gaps in the hedges, but there was little evidence left that this had been the centre of an investigation four weeks previously.

Scully unfolded the map, and leaned it in against the trunk of a tree to prevent the wind catching it. She looked puzzled, started to say something, and then stopped.

“What?” Mulder leant in close to look at the map.

“If this,” Scully pointed, “Is where she was when she ‘saw’ the lights, and she’s right about the direction, then the object she says she saw was hovering right over this field. Look at the way the road twists right round on itself here.”

They walked back to where they had left the car parked on the grass verge, next to a gap in the hedge.

“Hey, Scully, take a look at this.” Mulder gestured at the ravaged bushes.

Climbing down into the ditch, Mulder examined the broken branches and twigs, and the scarring on the muddy banks. “What does this look like to you?”

Scully knelt down and examined the area. Chewing her lips, she looked at him. “It certainly looks like something’s been in this ditch recently, and then been hauled out. But to wreck those bushes….”

“It would have to have impacted into the ditch with some force,” Mulder finished. “Didn’t Mrs Matheson say the Range Rover ended up in a ditch?”

Scully’s response was dry. “Among other things she said, Mulder. But the fact remains that it was found in the middle of the field, and we have photos to prove that..”

“All the pictures prove is that the jeep was in the middle of the field when the photos were taken,” he responded stubbornly.

<Oh God, here we go!> “Mulder,” she said, exasperated, “Isn’t it much more likely that one of the rescue or retrieval vehicles ended up in the ditch in the confusion? Or maybe they tried to drag it out that way?”

But Mulder wasn’t listening. He jumped up the other bank, and pushed past the remaining branches till he stood in the field again. “Scully, we need pictures of this. – oh, and go through the gate – there’s water in the ditch.”

Sure enough, Scully saw when she had made her way round to him, his feet and turnups were covered in mud. “That’ll impress ‘em up at the great house ” she teased . His only response was to point at the bush.

“You can see the way the branches have been broken, and ..” he gestured the earth around their feet “You were right. A vehicle was pulled through this gap. But not out of the field, but into it. Look at the way the branches and twigs have been snapped.”

” Why would anyone do that? The ditch is too deep to drive off the road and into the field.”

“Someone’s gone to the trouble of winching the vehicle out and into this field. And ten to one it was Mrs Matheson’s car that they then dumped in the middle of the field.”

“That makes no sense, Mulder, none at all. No apparent benefit for a great deal of effort! There must be another explanation.”

Mulder turned his back on her, and shrugged. “It makes more sense than saying the driver suddenly detoured into the middle of field for no apparent reason.”

Scully fired off several more shots of the hedges on both sides of the road, as they returned to their rental car. “Of course there was a reason, Mulder – we just haven’t found out what it was yet.”

He grinned at her. “That’s why they put the ‘I’ in ‘FBI’, Scully”.

“Ha ha.” But she smiled back, comfortably.

“Did the medical examiner come up with anything interesting regarding the driver’s body?”

Scully leaned into the back of the car for the relevant folder, and then riffled through the papers before replying.. “No. Cause of death has been noted as a blow to the head sustained during the crash, but there’s no suggestion in the medical report as to why the vehicle might have crashed in the first place.”

“The car checked out clean for mechanical failure, too, according to Phoebe,” said Mulder. They both looked around at the quiet road. Nothing had driven past then in the twenty minutes they had been in the field.

“Well, if I’m right, something caused the driver to put the car in a ditch. If we could find out what it was, we might be some way to finding a handle on this thing.”

“Where next?”

“A word with the farmer might be in order. Let’s see if it’s true that he harvested those crops because he was paid off.” On the drive out, Mulder had given Scully the highlights of his conversation with the crop-circle enthusiasts.

“Paid off by whom?”

“Ah, that will be worth finding out, Agent Scully,” he smiled, as he handed her into the car. ” Next time we come to examine an English field, remind me to bring some green wellingtons?” Mulder ruefully examined his muddy shoes and filthy pants.

“‘Green wellingtons’?” Scully raised an eyebrow at him, but Fox Mulder merely grinned.

The rental car jolted slowly back down the farm-track, accompanied by a large brown dog of indeterminate breed, which ran alongside, barking.

“Well, that didn’t get us much further,” sighed Scully.

“You don’t think so?” Mulder stole a look at her.

“Since he wouldn’t let us past the front door, no I don’t think so, ” she responded crossly.

“But didn’t you notice what he said when we arrived…..before we’d had a chance to more than say our names?”

Scully thought back. The farmyard had seemed deserted apart from the yapping dog, and no-one had answered to their knock at the front. So they had walked round to the rear and tried the back door, which was flung open before Mulder had a chance to knock again. Of course, they had been speaking to eachother, and not especially quietly. And the farmer, rotund and florid, had barely let them introduce themselves before saying……“Not more bloody yanks. I done what you arsked and pretty damned silly it was. Now clear off.” and had slammed the door in their faces. Suddenly comprehension dawned.

“Well, who were the other ‘bloody yanks’ then? The investigation was carried out by the British police…” Mulder frowned, as he crunched the gears. He’d never been able to understand the enthusiasm in this country for the shift-stick.

“From the airforce base? Didn’t you say the boy told you the farmer was paid off by two……”

“But there’s no US airforce base here, Scully. There are several British bases close by, but no US base – officially.” His tone was dark. “So who are our interesting compatriots who seem to have annoyed the good farmer. Something else we need to find out.”

Stoke Easton Centre For Crop Circle Research 2.30 pm

George Hedley put two mugs of steaming hot tea down on his desk, and gestured to the agents to sit down. A man of medium stature, with thinning brown hair and glasses, he looked like the accountant that he was. But appearances were deceptive. He was passionate on the topic of crop circles. But not blinded by his passion, Dana Scully observed. There was a fair degree of cynicism in what he saw saying – or was it paranoia?

Mulder, who had asked a few general questions, settled back into his chair with his eyes half-closed. He looked for all the world, thought Scully, as if he had tuned out of the conversation completely. But that, too, was deceptive. If called upon to do so, Mulder would be able to recite the dialogue almost word for word. She sighed and shifted her position a little, and continued to make notes in her spiral-bound pad. So that it looked ‘by the book’ – even if it wasn’t.

“I believe there are true crop-circles, Mr Mulder, and we can have a healthy debate about how they appear. But if Robin says they were faked, then I’m sure they were. He’s a young lad, and his head’s easily turned by a pretty woman..” he gave Mulder a hard look….”.but he’s no fool.”

Scully frowned. She had not failed to notice the tension in Mulder’s posture in response to Hedley’s last comment: there were some cross-currents here that she did not understand, and that made her tone more abrasive than she had intended. “Why would anyone go to the trouble of faking crop-circles, Mr Hedley?”

The man turned to Dana Scully, and his lips moved into a smile that did not touch his eyes. “Let me tell you something, Agent Scully. We get three types of frauds round here. We get those people who fake circles and pretend they are real.” He caught Dana’s faint look of surprise.” Oh yes, I’m prepared to admit that we get plenty of those, and many of the crop- circles in past years were no doubt fakes. But we’ve now got people who make circles in order to fool us – experts – and then later reveal them as fakes to make us look like laughing – stocks.”

He paused, and took a sip of tea. ” There was a lot of that in 1992, as I believe my colleagues told Agent Mulder last night.” Mulder nodded, slightly. “There are – groups, shall we say – who seem to have as their agenda rubbishing the whole phenomena by tricking those of us who have some reputation as prominent cereologists. I count myself among those, and yes, ” with a wry smile, “I was fooled too. But what we seem also to have now are people claiming to have faked crop circles who didn’t.”

Scully felt her head was spinning. <This guy is as paranoid as the lone gunmen…>

“Again, Mr Hedley, I’m not sure that I understand why you think anyone would do this?”

“In war, Agent Scully, you counterfeit large quantities of your enemy’s currency to devalue it. No-one can tell the real from the fake, so it becomes worthless. There are those who have started such a campaign of disinformation against the crop- circle phenomena. As to why anyone would do it – well, it’s a very good way of disarming a powerful threat.”

Scully worked very hard, and managed to keep her face blank. She didn’t even bother considering why this man believed crop-circles were a powerful threat. No doubt Mulder would tell her later. But why they were wasting their time listening to this……..

Mulder spoke. “How would one go about creating a convincing fake?”

Hedley leaned back and steepled his fingers, thinking for a minute or two. then he gestured to several pictures along one wall. “In 1992 a Circle-making competition was held near here. The top photo shows some of those produced, and you can see that diligent fakers can produce impressive results. However, the man-made circles generally lack the – shall we say, fluidity, flow of the ‘real thing’.”

Scully wondered briefly how he knew what the ‘real thing’ was, but kept her head down, taking notes.

“The most successful fakes used a substantial amount of equipment, and at least half the teams left behind small items after they’d finished. In every case the flattened crop in man-made circles was broken or buckled, which isn’t generally the case in ‘genuine’ formations. So faking requires diligence, intelligence, considerable effort, and some equipment. But there is no sure-fire way of distinguishing fake from real. This for instance…” He walked over to a filing cabinet, and, after a brief struggle with one of the drawers, extracted a glossy black-and-white photo which he handed to Mulder… “is probably the best know and best of the known fakes. It’s called the Froxfield Fake. Magnificent work.”

He shook his head, more in sorrow and admiration than anger, Scully thought. “How do you know they’re not all fakes?” Mulder rolled his eyes at Scully, who looked back at him placidly.

Hedley caught the look and grinned, which made him look much younger. Scully smiled back at him “I’m a natural-born skeptic. Mr Hedley. Don’t mind me…”

“Well, there are different degrees of ………… Look at it logically.”

“That should appeal to you, Scully,” Mulder interposed, and she gave him a filthy look.

“To accept that all crop-circles were fakes would presuppose an invisible army of unseen hoaxers, never caught, never acknowledged, and never known to abandon their handiwork incomplete. Not only that, we enthusiasts have watched night after night and never seen hoaxers – yet there have been formations in the fields the next morning nevertheless.”

“So, Mr Hedley…..”

“Ah, the $64,000 question – who makes the genuine circles? Well, for what it’s worth, Agent Scully, I don’t think we’re alone in the universe. Let’s leave it at that.”

“But you have no other information about the circles in those two fields?”

“As I said to you on the telephone, Agent Mulder, I’ve seen the same picture you have. And I spoke to Robin today. He seems very convinced that they were all fakes, except maybe for one of them. The picture in the newspapers wasn’t detailed enough to tell any more. But I’ll ask around to see what I can turn up – and if you can come up with any better pictures than the one in the newspapers, I’d be happy to look at them with you.”

Mulder stood up, and held out his hand to Hedley. “You’ve been very helpful, sir, and thank you for your time. We’ll be in touch.”

The pair returned to the police station, Scully taking her leave to go down to the lab and get the pictures she had taken that day developed as soon as possible. “What are you going to do?” queried Scully, at the very moment that Inspector Green poked her head out of a door.

“I’d like to go over the finding of the car with the officer who reported it.”

“Well aren’t you just in luck,” said Phoebe, moving up to him, “I’m just on my way to traffic control myself. I’ll show you the way…..”

It was past his time to knock off: his shift had begun at six in the morning, and PC Graham Johnstone was none too happy to go over again the details of his finding the ambassador’s Range Rover in the middle of a field.

“Like I said, soon as I saw it, I radioed it in. I didn’t think nothing much of it to start. I were on my way to work, and I hadn’t heard nothing about them people being missing. I just thought it were another bloody lunatic London driver.”

Phoebe Green gave the young constable an icy glare.

“Sorry, ma’am.” He stood up a little bit straighter. “But we get so many of ‘em, and the paperwork is such a bl… flaming nuisance”.

“Did you notice anything at all unusual about the scene as you first came upon it?” asked Mulder.

“Sorry, no, nothing I can think of that’s not in my report.”

“Was the gate into the field open, or did you have to unlatch it?” Mulder queried.

The constable rolled his eyes. “The farm gate were unlatched and banging on the post, and that’s why I looked into the field. And I saw out of the corner of my eye the car in the middle, laying on its side.” He paused. “As it says in my report.”

Mulder ignored the man’s obvious annoyance, and Phoebe’s amusement. “You didn’t see a car in the ditch next to the field?” he queried.

The constable started to bristle, then caught himself. ” Well, I did notice a great gap in the hedge, and there were mud all over the road, but I didn’t pay it no further mind when I saw the vehicle in the field. After all, there weren’t no car in the ditch…”

Mulder was relentless. “But it looked like there might have been.”

“All right, it looked like there might have been. But there weren’t. There were just a car in the field on its side wi’a dead man inside it. I’ll tell you something,” he said bitterly, ” All these bloody City wide-boys down from London for the weekend, trying to impress their snooty friends in them Four by Fours…..most of ‘em have never been nearer a field than Hampstead Heath. And after a few drinks they think they can drive up the side of Snowdon… I came down here because the missus wanted to get out of London, and I thought I’d get a nice, peaceful backwater to see out my retirement. But we have more road traffic accidents here in a month than there were in my old district in a year, and that were on one of the busiest stretches of roads in the country!”

Mulder’s eyes narrowed.

“Thank you, PC Johnstone. That will be all.” Phoebe waved him out of the room.

“I want statistics for RTA’s for the last twelve months within a ten mile radius of here. Can you do that?” Mulder asked her.

She raised an eyebrow. “Well, yes, but whatever for, Mulder.”

“Because if he’s right, and the incidence of traffic accidents is much higher than average in an area where you would expect exactly the opposite, there may be some connecting or causal factor at work here. Its just possible that this crash may be linked to others.”

Phoebe walked over and very deliberately closed the door which led to the corridor. “I stopped by your hotel and left a message for you this morning.”

“Was it important? You should have called. We have these…” he waved his loaned cellphone toward her…“now.”

“I thought you might like to have lunch with me. And Agent Scully, of course”, she added as a deliberate afterthought. “But I discovered something very -surprising.”

Mulder moved to open the door. Whatever game Phoebe was trying to play, he wanted none of it. “I’ve got work to do.”

” Does the FBI know that you and your partner are sleeping together?” she asked, with a look of innocence. “No wonder you didn’t want to come and stay in the Manor. You are a dark horse Agent Mulder.”

“Leave Scully out of this…….”

“Out of what, Mulder? Out of you and me? I’d be delighted to leave her out!”

Mulder took a step towards her. “There is no you and me, Phoebe. There’s nothing between us. You mean nothing to me any more. I came here to do a job, and I intend to do it. Any relationship Agent Scully and I may or may not have is none of your damned business.”

Phoebe tilted her face up to his. ” I think you’re protesting too much, Fox. Nothing between us….that’s not what it felt like last night. I wonder what Agent Scully would say if she knew you’d gone back to her all hot and excited from me……ah, Buchanan!” she continued smoothly, as the door opened, and the dour Inspector entered. “Agent Mulder needs to see the old Road Traffic Accident reports. Can you show him where to find them? I must get back to Holbrook Manor. The Ambassador is having guests tonight. See you later, Agent Mulder. Maybe we can all go for a drink this evening – I’ll call you…..”

And with a wicked smile at the two men, she left.

When Mulder returned to the hotel room after four hours searching through old files in the dusty Stacks, Scully was already there. She had changed out of her formal suit into leggings and a long shirt, and looked showered, cool and fresh. Mulder pulled loose his tie, rolled his shoulders. She looked up at him and smiled.

“I spoke to Mrs Matheson, and she’s agreed to come up to London with me tomorrow to see Jonathan’s doctors. We’re catching the 7.45 train from Castle Cary.”

“Was there any problem about it,” Mulder queried, recalling Annelise Matheson’s rather extreme reaction to Scully when they had discussed her statement with her.

“None at all, surprisingly. I got the distinct impression that she was glad to have an excuse to get out of the house without her husband. And having her with me when I see the consultants will mean they ‘ll give me information they might otherwise have been reluctant to disclose. Plus I’ll get another chance to talk to her….”

“To see if she’s delusional you mean!” Mulder gave her a wry grin.

“What’ve you got there?” Scully eyed suspiciously the pile of folders tucked under Mulder’s arm .

“Traffic reports. We may well be, Scully, in the accident blackspot of the United Kingdom. There have been eighty three fatal road accidents in this small area in the past year – that’s over four times the national average.”

“Your point being…?”

“I’m not sure yet. I want us to analyze all of them, to the various factors. Lets start with location……”

Scully spread the map out on the table, and picked up red felt pen.

They worked steadily through the accident reports, correlating the information under various headings. By the time they had finished, it was half past nine, and Scully suddenly realized she was very hungry indeed. She was sitting on the floor, surrounded by brown folders. She took off her glasses, and leaned back against the sofa as she looked up at him. “We need to eat, Mulder. And I don’t think this is the kind of place where we can get a pizza delivered! Maybe we can grab a sandwich downstairs?”

“We could order room-service?” Mulder queried.

“Lets save that – indulgence – for when we’re not working.” Mulder turned to Scully quickly as she said this, but she was looking back down at the folder in her lap, and a bright fan of hair concealed the expression on her face.

He stood up, stretching, and held out his hand to her. She did not let go after he had helped her up, and nor did he as he led her down to the dark-panelled bar.

Scully found a seat close to the log fire which was burning in the grate, despite the relatively mild night. Mulder watched her from the bar as he waited for his order to be taken; she settled onto the high-backed wooden bench-seat she had chosen, and he saw her sigh, lean back and close her eyes.

“Do you know what this is called?” Mulder sat down beside her on the bench, and placed their drinks on the table in front of them. She shook her head, not entirely sure what he was referring to.

<You look tired, Mulder. What were you up to last night, I wonder?> She beat down the urge to reach out and brush away the dark lock of hair falling across his forehead, to lean into him and feel his warmth and strength.

“It’s a love-seat.” His eyes were soft as he held her gaze. He wondered how he had ever thought to compare the effect that Phoebe Green had on him to what this woman could do to his soul and his body.

“And why is it called that?” Scully felt a heat that was nothing to do with the fire burning a few feet away: she was sure she must be blushing.

“Because the two lovers could sit together spooning, and the high back meant that they were somewhat sheltered from the prying eyes around them.” He spoke softly, so that Scully had to lean forward to hear him. <She is so pretty>

She looked up at him, her colour slightly heightened, her eyes glowing in the reflection from the fire. “Dare I ask – what was ‘spooning’?”

“This,” he said simply. His hand caressed the side of her cheek and he leaned forward and kissed her very gently on the mouth. A tiny moan escaped Scully’s lips as her instincts took over and she deepened the kiss. Mulder’s hand moved up to tangle in her hair and pull her closer.

Then Scully pulled back, and looked at him with huge, liquid eyes. “Mul-der”, she whispered, shakily, “Love-seat or no love-seat, I think we should stop.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” he responded throatily, as he pulled her to him again and their mouths met, hot and hungry for eachother.

How sweet“. Scully jerked back from the embrace at the sound of that cutting voice, and Mulder looked round in shock to meet Phoebe’s annoyed stare. She pulled up a chair next to Mulder and sat down.

Looking at the woman sitting next to Fox Mulder, her copper hair slightly tousled from his fingers, her full lips red and still moist from his kiss and with a viciousness prompted by envy, Phoebe continued, “Mulder, you’re a beast.” Leaning across him she addressed Dana in a stage-whisper, “I had the same pleasure myself last night, Agent Scully.”

Turning to Mulder she then continued, “I had hoped to finish what we started ….but it seems you’re otherwise occupied at the moment.” She leaned forward and kissed him quickly and hard, unfazed at his lack of response. Standing up, she addressed her parting remark to Dana, “Keep him warm for me, Agent Scully!”

And Phoebe Green was gone before Scully could formulate her retort. <I am in shock> she thought, dispassionately as the world seemed to swim slightly in front of her. Scully forced herself to breath deeply and steadily. She turned to look at Fox Mulder. He was watching Phoebe Green’s departing back with burning eyes.

Mulder struggled for self-control, violent anger with Phoebe warring with a desire to cling to Dana Scully and weep in her lap. He felt Scully’s eyes on him and turned around, forcing himself to meet her gaze. “Scully, I….”

She cut him short. “Is it true, Mulder. Last night did you….?” She waited a long heartbeat for his reply, but the sadness in his eyes gave her the answer before a word was spoken.

“I’m sorry….”

Scully stood up just as their food was brought to the table. ” I seem to have lost my appetite. I’ve an early start in the morning, Mulder, and I’m going to bed now. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Fox Mulder stayed a long time down in the bar of the Lygon Arms, looking into the fire and thinking. When he finally made his way back up to their suite, the folders had been neatly stacked up on the table, and a blanket and pillow placed on the couch. He got undressed and folded his clothes as neatly as he could manage on the back of the chair, then lay down on the couch and pulled the blanket around him.

This time, no quiet voice and cool hand roused him in the middle of the night and led him to the comfort of the double bed.



Friday 24th May

7.15 am.

Heart pounding, limbs stinging with the effort, Fox Mulder finally allowed himself to slow down to a jog as he rounded the corner to the front entrance of the Lygon Arms. Glancing at his watch, he saw that he had been running for nearly an hour, pushing himself harder and harder, as if the physical exertion might mask the emotional turmoil. He had somewhat lost track of the time……

He had come to no conclusions the night before, except that Dana Scully deserved better than he seemed capable of giving, and the gracious thing – the loving thing- would be to stop the madness now..

<Shit! That’s Scully!> A taxi was pulling away from the hotel entrance, and Mulder caught a fleeting glimpse of Scully’s pale face through the window, and a wing of bright hair. He’d gone running to try and straighten out his thoughts, hoping that they might be more lucid in the morning’s clear light.

Returning to the room, he looked around for a note from her, but there was nothing. He noted that Scully had straightened up and tidied away his makeshift bedding. Plugging his laptop into the room’s telephone socket, he set up an automatic session to download his e-mail then stripping his sweaty gear off he went to get cleaned up His shower was cold and unpleasant – another one of the delights of England. In these older buildings the plumbing rarely functioned adequately – if you were lucky enough to have private facilities at all…..

Suddenly a picture of his room at Oxford flashed into his mind. Early one morning, standing by the window looking at the quadrangle. Sunshine slanting into the room. Turning to look at Phoebe stretching in his bed languorously, amid the tangled sheets.

She had seen him watching her and she stretched out her naked limbs into the posture of an artist’s model, and then laughed at him as his eyes darkened in desire and he took a step towards her.

“Time for a show…” she had purred. As he leaned over her she had taken his face between her hands and kissed him deeply. He had moved on top of her, his excitement rising again. “Greedy boy!” She had pushed him away with the palm of her hand, snagged his robe from the back of a chair, and fastened it carelessly around her. She had smelt of sweat and sex, Mulder remembered, and her own special musky scent……

Then she had taken him by the hand, and led him down the corridor to the showers, past the envious eyes of several fellow students, and had kept him shut in the shower-room with her, pleasuring her, until the hammering on the door became too forceful to ignore.

Throwing Mulder the robe, she had wound his hand-towel around her like a minuscule sarong, and then flung the door open. Taking Mulder by the arm, she had swaggered nonchalantly out, and smiled into the red face of the angry young man outside.

“You’ve been in there for fucking hours…” he had snarled.

Phoebe had been as tall as the lad. Letting go of Mulder’s arm, she had touched her fingertip to the other youth’s nose. “Fucking in there for hours, I think you mean. Your turn now.” She indicated the empty bathroom with the sweep of her arm. “I would offer to help, but you look like you’ve had plenty of practice solo.”

And she had bundled Mulder back into his room, and fallen, laughing onto the bed. “God, I love messing with their heads!”

And now, looking back on that moment with the benefit of his years Mulder suddenly realized that he understood. Leaning back against the cold, tiled wall under the sting of the water he allowed himself a small laugh. How could he have been so stupid – a fucking Oxford Psychology graduate, one of the best deviant-profilers the FBI ever had…….Phoebe wasn’t about love, she wasn’t even about sex. She was only about control and power. Hell, he wondered if she even enjoyed the sex much.

For ten years he had refused to allow himself consciously to think about the woman. Then she had swept though his life again and almost reduced him to ash. And again he had not allowed himself the space to understand what had happened to him – why he had permitted her back into his heart and mind. He flicked his hair back, and allowed the water to wash over his face, down the length of his body – let the thoughts and feelings flow.

The time for fear was over. He had hurt the woman who meant the most to him in the world because he was afraid to face the past. He would do that, would do it for Dana – and for himself.

<Don’t allow her the power!> He didn’t love Phoebe….but now he understood that he didn’t even like her. He would think about what had happened two years ago, when, despite ten years of resolutions to be contrary, he had been willing to let himself fall into her bed at the first offer. He would understand it – and it would not happen again.

Sure – when she had kissed him he had responded. She was a sexy woman, practised in the erotic arts, he had an eidetic memory – and he had been drinking. But she only had the power to disturb him if he let her. She was clever and manipulative. But he could get inside her head – what a very dark place that was going to be – just like he had done with Patterson, and those others when he worked for VCS.

Whatever kind of game she thought she was playing with him this time, she wasn’t going to win. The stakes were too high . The reinvigoration he felt as he towelled himself dry had nothing at all to do with the shower he had just taken.

“I’m sorry, Mr Mulder’s line is still engaged.”

Ambassador Richard Matheson banged the receiver angrily back into its cradle. What the hell was Mulder doing? And Annelise had taken herself off up to London for the day without telling him. He didn’t want the woman out of his sight at the moment. God only knew what she might say next to bring ridicule down on him. His backers in the States were antsy enough without another fiasco from Annie.

Sometimes he wished he could send her packing and never have to look at her stupid face again. <No, that’s not fair> he upbraided himself. Annie was a sweet woman and he was truly fond of her. She was just not very bright, and not very exciting any more. <Bright enough and exciting enough for you to get her pregnant when she was your secretary.> Phoebe wanted him to divorce her. But that was not an option under the circumstances – not if he wanted to have a hope of getting a shot at the nomination in four years time. He’d already been divorced once – he wasn’t a film star, he couldn’t get away with more than that. And the American public had suddenly become very concerned about moral rectitude in their leaders over the past few years. No, he couldn’t afford any hint of unpleasantness. He needed to find out what had happened to Annie and Jonathan – needed to so that any necessary damage limitation could be undertaken. Fox Mulder could do that for him – would find out who was responsible- and, Matheson hoped, proved discreet. Matheson had been a good friend to Mulder – well, when he could. And if Mulder helped him out now, when the time came, there would be plenty of ways he could return the favour..

Phoebe. Another problem. Now there was exciting and desirable. And dangerous – part of the attraction. But what a woman. There was something going on, though, between her and Fox Mulder – some unexpected and unpleasant undercurrent, and Matheson was not pleased. He dialed an internal number.

A few seconds later, there was a light tap on the door, and Phoebe Green entered. “Richard? Is there a problem?” She stepped over to his desk. Matheson’s annoyance at her began to ebb away as she rested her hands on his shoulders. <Damn, she’s good at this.> He breathed in her scent as slowly and gently at first she kneaded the tense muscles in his neck and shoulders. He allowed her for a few minutes, then put a firm hand on one of hers and stood up to face her.

“Phoebe – what’s going on with you and Fox Mulder?”

She looked at him with an expression of teasing innocence. ” Richard, what are you suggesting?” The she smiled. “I told you, we were – very good friends – at Oxford, and we ran across eachother in the States a couple of years ago.”

“Well, he didn’t seem very pleased to see you when he came here on Wednesday, and I particularly asked you to ensure that he came to lunch with us yesterday. I need Mulder’s help on this. I thought you were going to be able to help me with that. It doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case.”

Phoebe considered him from under her eyelashes. “I don’t want you to think badly of Mulder”, she said after a pause.

“Go on.”

“Mulder and I had a – thing – at Oxford. We were very close. He was in love with me, Richard. I think he still is – I don’t think he’s ever got over it. And it’s hard for him when he sees me, and I have to be very careful not to hurt him, because I am very fond of him. Fox can be rather cynical and hard, but it’s a defense mechanism….”

“It’s too early for paperback psychology, Phoebe. And from my understanding…” he looked at her quizzically…”..he’s rather too fond of Agent Scully for you to be on the menu. If you want to play games with him, my dear, that’s up to you – but please leave him alone until he’s finished here. “.

“Now Richard,” she came and stood very close to him. “You wouldn’t be jealous of Fox, would you?” she purred. “You know I’m not interested in anyone else. Let me show you.”

Hell, she was close, she was available – she was a very sexy woman. Who cared if she’s been round the block a few times. So had he, Richard Matheson. In many ways they were well- suited, he thought, and he took her face in his hands and kissed her deeply. Brown eyes looked into brown, challenging.

“Lock the door, Inspector Green. We have important work to do”. Matheson loosened his tie as Phoebe Green came back to kneel in front of him.

They were done, and Matheson straightening his clothes when the telephone rang. Answering it, he waved Phoebe out of the room and began skimming through the papers on his desk. But Phoebe took her time. Picking up a pen, she wrote in her flowing cursive, and pushed the note in front of Matheson, then, touching her hand to his lips, mouthed ‘see you later’ before she withdrew, leaving behind a lingering trace of her heady fragrance.

Matheson read the note: ‘Don’t worry about Mulder – I can keep him in line. Just think about us!’ Crumpling it, he dropped it dismissively in the bin.

Dana Scully shivered a little as the early-morning mist swirled round the up-line platform of Castle Cary railway station. No doubt later on the haze would burn off, but she was grateful for the scalding cup of coffee which she sipped from a Styrofoam cup. She had not stayed for breakfast at the hotel, explaining to the staff that she had an early train to London to catch. <Yeah, right, Dana — wouldn’t have anything to do with trying to avoid your partner would it?> she thought cynically . Mulder had been out when he awoke – running, she had guessed correctly – and she had just managed to slip out before he had returned.

Dana caught a flurry of movement out of the corner of her eye, and turned round to greet Annelise Matheson. “Good morning Agent Scully!” The woman seemed genuinely pleased to see her, thought Dana in surprise.

“Mrs Matheson,” Scully juggled the hot coffee and her bag to shake the hand that Mrs Matheson proffered. “Train should be here any minute now.”

“Ah, well, one thing you learn if you’ve been here a while is never to rely on the timetable.” Peering into Scully’s cup, she grinned “Bad as usual, is it?” At Scully’s nod, she continued, “Excuse me while I get some tea then”. Scully watched her retreat to the cafeteria. She was certainly more relaxed and friendly than at their last meeting, but she carried herself stiffly and moved slowly. Perhaps her good-humour was due to the fact that she would be seeing her son soon. Mrs Matheson appeared with her drink and several daily newspapers just as the train pulled into the station.

The rolling stock was of the old-fashioned compartment type, and the two women were lucky enough to find themselves alone. As the landscape slid past Scully found it hard to keep her thought from slipping back to her partner and what had happened the night before. She shook herself mentally, and looked across at Annelise Matheson who sat reading one of the tabloids, The Times untouched on the seat beside her. Scully examined the woman critically. She did not look well. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot, and her complexion pallid. Her hands trembled slightly as she held the paper.

“My husband only takes The Times at home, but I love to read these…” Annelise gestures guiltily to the paper she was holding, mistaking the reason for Scully’s scrutiny.

Scully raised and eyebrow.” Then why buy The Times at all?”

Mrs Matheson leaned forward confidentially. “He’d be very annoyed if he found out, so I buy the other one and carry it about with me all day, so that he thinks……” Her voice trailed off, and she sighed. “Oh I know it’s pathetic, Agent Scully, but anything to keep the peace. It’s been so – difficult – at home recently, and especially after what happened.” She swallowed, and looked out of the window. Her good mood seemed to have dissipated.

“Would you like to talk about it, Mrs Matheson?” Scully offered, quietly.

“Not, really, no.” Mrs Matheson turned back to her newspaper.

Scully accepted the rebuff with equanimity, opening her attachi case and retrieving a folder she intended to work on during the journey. She could wait a while for another opportunity for conversation. In a few minutes she was engrossed in her work, and was therefore startled when the carriage door was rattled energetically open by a young conductor pushing a cafeteria trolley.

“Morning, ladies. Tea, coffee, sandwiches, biscuits, chocolates…,” he recited his litany.

Annelise Matheson pulled her purse from her large shoulder- bag “I’ll have a cup of tea and a bacon-and-egg sandwich.” She turned to Scully. “These are quite good….why don’t you try one?”

Smiling, Scully shook her head, as Mrs Matheson handed over her money. “No thanks. I have to be real careful about what I eat these days. Just thinking about a bacon-and-egg sandwich and I’ve probably put on three pounds,” she said ruefully.

Annelise Matheson looked surprised. “I wouldn’t have thought you had a problem there, Agent Scully?”

“Yeah, well, I never used to….” She did not continue. She rarely said even this much on the subject. Nobody -with the possible exception of Mulder – knew what a struggle she had had since her abduction. And it was so trivial compared to all the other trauma, and she was so cross with herself and ashamed for caring so much about it. But when she had come round in that hospital she had found that whatever drugs she had been pumped full of, whatever violations of her body there had been, had altered her metabolism such that she had gained so much weight during her absence she had felt a stranger in her own body. The feeling of the extra flesh, the way it rolled over the tops of her skirts and trousers, and under her brassiere if she didn’t sit up straight – the fact that none of her work clothes had fitted and she had been forced to go out and buy two new suits before she could even return to work – disgusted her and was a constant intimation of something she couldn’t bear to recollect.

But only two suits. Because she had been determined to get her body back. It was a part of recovering herself that she had needed to do. And she had worked out a plan and stuck to it. Mostly. But she had felt frightened about never being able to get herself back, because of what that symbolized for other parts of her life. And sometimes, when she hadn’t been able to stick to the plan – because on the road they had to eat where they could – the fear was such that she would start to skip meals, although the doctor within was screaming at her for being so stupid.

And one time, when she had had a particularly bad week, and she was sure that she had gained weight rather than lost it, and her skirt was uncomfortable, they had stopped at a roadside cafe and Mulder had come back to the table with hot chocolate and marshmallow instead of black coffee. “Hey Scully, thought you needed cheering up!” He had grinned at her as he pushed it across the table, and she had been so angry……

“Have you any idea how many calories there are in that…..“she had hissed at him, and then as Mulder had looked up at her with concern, “Leave me alone!” she had pushed past him and rushed outside, to lean against the wooden railing, breathing deeply and feeling deeply humiliated.

<Shit, shit, shit…> There was no way she had wanted Mulder to know she was struggling with this. Or even to know that she cared about it. But she had heard footsteps behind her, and had sighed.

Mulder had touched her arm lightly. “It doesn’t matter, Scully.”

“It does to me,” she had replied fiercely.

It’s not important to anyone who loves you,” she had heard him say quietly. “Remember that, Scully.” And tears had sprung unbidden into her eyes.

It had taken a long time – many months- but she had done it in the end. And on the day she had been able to fit into her favourite blue pants-suit again for the first time, Mulder had looked up as she entered the office. “You look great, Scully.”, and she had been both pleased with him for noticing and cross with him for noticing, and she had recognized that within herself, bestowing on him one of her radiant smiles.

With a start, Scully realized that Annelise Matheson was staring at her, and she dragged her thoughts back to the present. “Sorry….”

“Your partner knows Inspector Green well.” It was a statement, not a question. “Had you met her previously?”

<Why does everyone want to talk about that bitch> “We worked on a case together once in New England.” <Well, that’s stretching it a bit…>.

“What do you think of her?”

” She seems – competent.” Although he had wanted a chance to talk to Mrs Matheson, Scully was not keen to pursue this particular conversation.

“Did your partner know her well?” the other woman persisted.

Scully felt herself flushing slightly. “You really would have to talk about that with him, ” she replied testily, then, “I’m sorry, that was rude. ” She took a deep breath. “I believe they were very close at one time.”

Mrs Matheson looked thoughtful. “That was kind of what I gathered. ” She took a deep breath as if coming to a decision. “Agent Scully…..may I call you Dana? – I want to apologize for my manner when we first met. I really do want to find out what happened to me. It’s just that you came at that woman’s suggestion, and….”

Suddenly, Scully knew what Annelise Matheson was going to say next.

“My husband and that woman have been having an affair for the past six months. ” She spoke in a flat voice, seemingly without emotion, as if she had practiced saying this over and over. “Well, at least six months. That’s when I found out about it. So – I was suspicious of you and your partner. But when he spoke to me, it seemed – I don’t know – almost as if he -*understood* what I had been through.”

Giving a bitter laugh, Mrs Matheson continued. “Though I don’t know how that could be, since I hardly believe it myself, and I was there. There’s a whole day I have no recollection of; I don’t have any idea how I got to Glastonbury Tor with my little boy. You have no idea how frightening that is, Dana.”

“Believe me, Mrs Matheson, I have…”

“And I feel so guilty for what happened. I know my husband blames me…”

Scully’s face reflected her surprise. “Whyever should he?”

“I’m telling you this, Dana, because I think there’s another agenda here. And I think you may appreciate how I feel about. that woman..” She didn’t continue, but Scully flushed again. <The curse of the red-head>.

“Richard didn’t want me to bring Jonathan down to the Manor that weekend. In fact we had a row about it. He….he didn’t even know I was coming down until quite late in the evening, apparently. And…” she swallowed, “when they couldn’t find us, he thought at first…..that I had taken Jonathan away.”

Well, that explains some things, thought Scully. Why the search was kept quiet to start off with – no major media alerts if Matheson thought it was just a domestic problem he would want to keep it quiet.

“And I’m still not sure he believes what I say – maybe he still thinks I was going off somewhere…leaving…”

“Mrs Matheson, has he said anything to indicate that’s what he thinks?”

“No.” She hesitated. “But he hasn’t said that he believes me, either..”

There’s something wrong with this picture, thought Scully. “Mrs Matheson – excuse me if I offend – but you seem keen on doing what your husband approves of. If he was so against you bringing Jonathan out of hospital, why did you do so?”

The older woman chewed her lip for a moment. “Sometimes I think Richard won’t accept quite how sick Jonathan is, how little time we might have left with him. He’s about to receive a bone-marrow transplant, Dana, which as you probably know they only do if the prognosis for his disease is poor.”

“Who’s going to be the donor? Your other son?”

“Yes. And, of course, before the transplant, Jonathan has to have intensive drug therapy and Total Body Irradiation to kill the cancer cells, and then the replacement bone marrow. I brought him down because it was the last chance to be together as a family before the intensive treatment started. He seemed well enough, and the doctors weren’t against it. I just wanted the boys to be together, and something to remember….if…if he didn’t ever recover after the transplant.”

She swallowed hard. “I knew it was a risk, but I was willing to take it. Richard didn’t agree, but my boys….they mean everything to me, especially now – now that I’m losing Richard.”

<She needs to hear this.> “Mrs Matheson, even if you’re right about your husband and Inspector Green – it doesn’t mean it’s anything permanent. I believe…..Inspector Green…..I don’t think any of it means much to her. ” Dana sat back. “Maybe I’m not a good judge, but I know what I saw when I saw her with my partner. She’ll move on to someone else, and then you’ll need to decide whether you want to pick up the pieces.” <Listen to yourself!>

“Oh, I’ve seen her in action with men, Dana. I know what she’s like. She’s been with us for eighteen months, and I’ve watched her. It’s just a game, most of the time, you’re right. But….I think it’s different with my husband. ” She shrugged. “Maybe I’m too close to it, but I think she actually cares about him. But more to the point, I think she’d like to marry him.”

Scully’s jaw slackened in surprise.

“Oh yes. You know, of course, that Richard is considering standing as a candidate next time? ” Scully nodded. “Well all this…publicity…has come as a huge embarrassment to him. I think if he could get rid of me….and she’s there….she’s so beautiful and clever….whereas I….” The woman gestured to her homely build.

<Tell me about it. I bet she doesn’t need to worry about the odd bacon-and-egg sandwich!> Scully didn’t know what to say to the woman, who was now revealing such private details. “I’m sure your husband loves you, Mrs Matheson..”

“Ah love! I don’t think my husband ever loved me as such, Dana. But his first wife couldn’t have any children. So when I got pregnant….he divorced her and married me. He’s very grateful for the children, but he doesn’t need me any more. I’m just an embarrassment. But if I left, he’d never let me take my boys, so I have to stay. But that woman…makes it so difficult. She talks to me as if I were a child, especially now….She knows that I know about her and my husband, I’m sure she does. The things she says – you know, small things – Richard doesn’t even notice – but it’s as if she’s taunting me. And then I think ‘what if I’m imagining it’ – I can’t seem to trust what I know, anymore….”

Annelise Matheson’s eyes were suspiciously bright, hers twisting together in her lap. Scully leaned across and laid one cool hand atop hers pulling her thoughts back to the case. “Mrs Matheson, we’ll do our very best to find out what happened to you, and why. And believe me…” this was more than she meant to say……“I do understand how you feel about Phoebe Green.”

The train slowed down, and Scully realized that they were pulling into the station. <Damn!> The journey wasted! See what happens, she thought to herself angrily, see what happens when you get personally involved in a case. There was so much she had wanted to go over with Annelise Matheson, and she had blown her chance.

Glastonbury – the name resonates through English legend and literature. Mulder had arranged an appointment that morning with the editor of the local paper. They had been the first with the story – they had the only aerial photograph of the crop circles. He was hoping to get a copy and find out where they had got it from. As he drove along the narrow, winding country lanes Glastonbury Tor rose up ahead of him out of the clearing mist. He rounded a corner, and the little town was laid out in front of him. He was just parking his car opposite the ruins of the abbey when his borrowed cell-phone chirped.

“Agent Mulder.” The clipped Bostonian tones of Ambassador Matheson. “I should be glad of a few moment of your time. Away from the house. May we have lunch together today.” It was an order, not a request.

“Sir, I’m in Glastonbury at the moment. I have an appointment set up, but it should be over by lunchtime…”

“That’s good. ‘The George and Pilgrims’ then. Twelve o’clock.” The phone went dead. Mulder looked at it quizzically for a moment, pulled a face, and glanced at his watch. It had taken him far less time to get there than he had expected, and he had nearly an hour to kill.

After he had wandered up the little high street and back own the other side, ventured into several tiny shops crammed with mineral rocks and gems, New Age music and fey clothes, esoteric literature and silver jewellery the air in each one redolent with incense and musk, he found himself in a little courtyard off the main street. He looked around. Glastonbury Romantics – framed and unframed pictures from the Victorian and pre-Raphaelite school- he gave a small snort of laughter Then, for the second time that morning, an unbidden and unwelcome memory of a tall, slender woman pricked at him. Not Phoebe Green this time – but Melissa Scully. Of the knowing eyes and rich, flame hair. The flowing, floral skirts and the scent of patchouli. And a crystal on a fine black ribbon dangling from her fingers. The amusement died on his lips. How she would have loved this place, he thought. And he was glad that Scully wasn’t with him. For she would have felt it too – and the death of her sister had cut in the very deepest part of her, and the wound was still raw. Mulder wondered if it would ever heal. The death of Luis Cardinale and no justice in this world…..

His eyes were suddenly caught by a picture away and off to the side of the window. An unframed print – he leaned forward. It was labeled, in beautiful black gothic <of course> script: ‘Girl Reading: Charles Edward Perugini. Original – Manchester Art Gallery.’ And he went inside.

Phoebe Green studied herself in the mirror. Very nice. And it needed to be, too. It was a very careful line she was treading here.

She still found it difficult to believe how powerful her feelings for Richard Matheson really were. <After all these years….all these men>. She’s finally gone and done it – fallen head-over- heels, totally out-of-control in love with him. Except, of course, that she could not afford to be out of control. She needed to play the long game, and to be very sure of herself.

So this was what it was like – she forced herself to smile at her reflection. This was what Fox Mulder had felt all those years ago – and still? She shrugged a little. Maybe not, now – but she could still stir him up. He was still a sexy man, still a challenge (even more so, because of his little partner) and could still be extremely useful.

Jade earrings to match the jade silk suit? Well, if this was love – she was not at all convinced that it was fun. Now, the expression on Dana Scully’s face last night – that had been fun. However, looking back on it she wasn’t sure that it hadn’t been a tactical error. Mulder had been very cross with her. She grinned. He was so easy to provoke – nothing between them indeed!

But this constant worry about what someone else was feeling for you, whether they cared about you back, whether they would be there forever…, Phoebe didn’t enjoy that insecurity. She liked to be in charge. And so she would be.

<Not the jade earrings. Too much. Discreet pearl drops…much better.> A little flirting with Mulder at lunchtime. Make Richard jealous. Smooth Mulder’s ruffled feathers and remind him of what he’s missing – get him to help Richard and Richard would be grateful. Very grateful.

Deep breath – okay, off we go! Time to play the game.


Friday 24th May

The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick children is an imposing old building with a recently constructed new annex. Annelise Matheson, evidently very familiar with it’s warren- like layout, led Scully up and along a tangle of corridors to a bright ward on the seventh floor.

“Mrs Matheson!” She was greeted as a friend by a smiling dark-haired nurse, “Jonathan is surely looking forward to seeing you. If you’d like to go in, Dr Leiper will be free in a minute. She’s just finishing her round.”

“Thank you, Orla. Agent Scully, this is Orla Brennan, who had day-to-day care of Jonathan. Orla, Agent Scully is from the FBI in the United States…” The nurse’s eyes widened. “She may need to ask you some questions about Jonathan’s condition, and she will want to speak to Dr Leiper too. You have my consent to talk to her freely – I can put that in writing if required.”

“To be sure, Miss Scully, you ask away.” She led them into a small room with half-glazed partition walls . A fair-haired boy of about eight was sitting up in bed, reading a comic. “We’re much better today, aren’t we, Jonathan? And here’s your Ma -and- ” she lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, “A lady from the eff. bee.eye to talk to you!” She winked at Scully, who stepped forward.

“Cool!” The boy’s eyes lit up. “Can I see your gun?”

Scully smiled back at him. “We don’t carry them while we’re here, but…” she reached into her pocket, “Here’s my badge.” She flipped the wallet open and showed him.

“Hi darling.” Mrs Matheson bent down and exchanged a long hug with her son. “Agent Scully is going to ask you about that night when we got – lost, and she’s going to talk to the doctor. How are you doing, baby?”

“I’m doing great, mom, … and don’t call me baby. I am doing great, aren’t I…”

“He’s doing very well…” Scully turned to look at the owner of this new voice, to see a woman as small as herself, but dark, in a doctor’s coat. “We’re exceptionally pleased, Mrs Matheson. It’s really quite extraordinary. If you’d like to come with me now, we can discuss it.” The woman looked coolly at Scully when she rose to accompany them. “And you are….” As they moved down the corridor to the doctor’s room Mrs Matheson explained what Scully would require. Dr Leiper’s quiet, modulated tone did not change. “You are quite welcome to look at all Jonathan’s medical records, since you have Mrs Matheson’s consent. I will answer what queries I can, but you understand I am very busy here.” Scully nodded.

When they had seated themselves in a private room, Dr Leiper began. “Mrs Matheson, you are aware that we have been giving your son high dose chemotherapy for the past three weeks and that we intended to commence the Total Body Irradiation in order to eliminate the cancer cells in his blood.” Annelise nodded. “I have the result of the bloodwork here,” she looked at Scully, “You may examine it later. But basically, it would seem that the irradiation will not be required. The malignant cells appear to have been eradicated, and the immune system sufficiently suppressed to go ahead with the bone-marrow transplant immediately.”


“Within the next few days. As soon as we can prepare your other son. This is why I asked you to come today – to give you the news so that you can make the necessary arrangements to have your other son admitted.” Annelise Matheson looked dazed.

“Isn’t that most unusual?” queried Scully.

“Quite frankly, I’ve never known anything like it before.” Dr Leiper leaned back and ran a hand through her thick, dark hair. ” The test results are what we would expect after the TBI – in fact, of a magnitude better than we would expect to see. It augers very well for the marrow transplant.” The woman finally smiled. “I’m at a loss to explain it, but let’s just thank Heavens. The prospects for your son’s recovery are really better than at any time since we first saw him. And now lets get started on the transplant!”

Mrs Matheson turned a beaming smile to Scully. “I’ll have to leave you here. I’ll catch the next train home – ” She looked at her watch…“If I leave now, I’ll just make it….and tell Richard – and we’ll pack to bring David up here – when?” She turned back to the doctor.

“Have him here next Tuesday morning.”

“Okay.” As she stood up, the little colour that there was in Annelise Matheson’s cheeks drained away, and she swayed on her feet.

“Are you all right?” Scully jumped up and took her arm to steady her.

The woman’s eyes fluttered open and she took a deep breath. “Yes, I’m fine. It’s just the shock of the good news.” She smiled again. “Maybe things will be all right after all.”

Scully walked with her down to the street, where Mrs Matheson was lucky enough to pick up a taxi immediately.

“I’m going to call Agent Mulder at lunchtime……” Scully smiled at the other woman. ” But I won’t spoil your good news – don’t worry!”

Although Jonathan Matheson was only a little boy, his medical records were copious. It was two hours before Scully had finished going through them, and what she had found left her puzzled and a little disturbed. When Jonathan Matheson had returned to G.O.S after his disappearance his records showed that they had found traces of the drug scopolamine in his system, the powerful anaesthetic/hallucinogen that had been used on the teenagers in Delta Glen, Wisconsin. Not only that, there was a high level of radioactivity. Time to call Mulder. She reached into her purse and pulled out the cell-phone

“How are you doing?”

Scully looked up to see Orla Brennan standing in the doorway.

“If you’d like something to eat, I can show you where the visitor’s canteen is! I’m going down that way myself! And I’m afraid you can’t use that….” she gestured to Scully’s cell- phone “ here, anyway. Mobile phones are banned in these units – because of all the equipment.”

Scully raised an eyebrow. “That makes a difference?”

“Who knows!” Orla shrugged, watching Scully gathering up the notes she had been making. “Rules, rules…..don’t we just love ‘em. But you can use it downstairs.”

Scully looked at her watch. It was nearly two o’clock anyway – lunch sounded good.

“So,” Orla held the open the heavy double doors that led to the stairwell, “Is your job really as exciting as that TV show ‘Feds’ makes it out to be?”

Manuscript notebook entry:-

Mendip Daily News.

Journalist – Watson, Ray. Night of Friday April. Working. Stop-press last possible time 3.30am. No note in nightly log of source of info. re missing A.M. No person recalls source of information. Watson verified by call to local police. Source of photo – unknown (!)

Action – query call time with police.

Mulder rubbed his chin thoughtfully, brow furrowed. Something was very wrong with the timing here. If the last printing time for the paper was 3.30 in the morning, Annelise Matheson hadn’t been missing more than six hours at that point. Yet it was clearly stated in the paper that she had been missing for twelve hours – which of course would have been the case by the time the paper was being read the next morning. Someone had known she wasn’t going to be found before then. Not only that, but there seemed to be no information about the origin of the photograph which had been sold to the paper and then syndicated to the nationals. Pulling his cellphone out of his pocket, he pressed the memory keys to dial the police-station and confirm the time of the verification call. He also hoped to speak to the desk-sergeant who had undoubtedly fielded it.

Before the phone had connected, however, he saw Richard Matheson making his way past the crowded bar.

“Thank you for coming, Fox. I prefer to meet in a place like this. It makes it harder for our ….‘friends’.”

Mulder’s expression was guarded. He was not at all sure where Matheson was coming from on this. The man had asked for him specifically, risking the wrath of the British police force, and bringing him to England where he had no jurisdiction. Yet he had seemed very anxious that the questioning of his wife be curtailed, and his whole attitude that first afternoon had been rather wary.

“First, let me say how sorry I was not to have been able to help you further in that matter of the – what shall we call it – the package on the train. By the time I was advised that Agent Scully was trying to contact me, matters had already – ah – been resolved in your favour.”

<Yeah, right.> Scully had told him angrily of her repeated efforts to solicit the Senator’s aid. It was no thanks to Matheson that Mulder was sitting here today. But on the other hand, he had provided useful information in the past – when it suited him.

Mulder would never forget that Matheson had refused to even see him when Scully had disappeared for those terrible three months. And though it seemed they had smooth matters over between them since, Mulder – whatever Scully thought – had not relied on the man since. He recognized him as an opportunist – and accepted that . It was his game, it was politics. But if there was such a thing as a politician with principles, Mulder thought that the man was sitting opposite him.

“Have you found anything yet?” Matheson nodded his thanks to the waitress who brought them their food.

Given a receptive audience, and without Scully’s restraining influence, Mulder felt free to explain to Matheson what he felt was the significance of their discoveries s far.”…….and it seems to me that, far from being driven into the field where the vehicle was found, something caused the driver to crash into the ditch. That ties in with your wife’s statement. At some point during that night, the car was hauled out through the hedge into the field and deliberately placed there.”

Matheson said nothing, his face expressionless. Mulder continued, “I have spoken to a witness who states that the so- called crop circles in the field were in fact nothing but poor fakes. It also seems that the farmer was bribed to harvest the crop, such as it was, in order to remove any trace evidence, and prevent further inquiry into who made the markings in the field and when.”

“As to what caused the car to crash – Agent Scully and I have ascertained a pattern of similar accidents in the area, and I intend to interview some of those involved later this afternoon. Agent Scully is speaking to your wife again today about her statement, but I believe your wife is telling the truth about what she remembers, sir. Something happened to her out there, something which has happened to people before on several occasions – and someone has tried to cover their tracks about that quite carefully.”

Matheson finally spoke. His voice was calm, but his eyes were chilly. “Agent Mulder, what I require from you – and I wanted to speak with you yesterday to make this quite clear – is an explanation which will allow my wife to retain some dignity. I do not want you or Agent Scully feeding her fantasies about being abducted by aliens and making me the laughing stock of Capitol Hill. When Detective Chief Inspector Green suggested that you be called in to advise I agreed because I knew” he paused to emphasize the last word, “that your report would be that this matter was nothing but a delusion brought on by the stress and physical trauma of the accident. If you of all people were to be convinced of this fact, no-one would call it into question again.”

Fox Mulder was a man of few illusions about the cynical nature of political life. But the anger in him burned cold and righteous. “Am I to understand, sir, that you do not wish this investigation pursued at all. That our presence here is a – a charade?”

“I wouldn’t put it quite like that, Agent Mulder.”

“Then quite how would you put it? Something happened to your wife, sir! She needs to know what that was.”

“Agent Mulder, we both have enemies. My enemies are trying to prevent my nomination in four years time. I have powerful backers, but they have been – how shall we say – upset by all this. I believe my wife was taken as part of that attempt to thwart my political career – a career, which, I might remind you, could be very useful to you in your search for the truth. You can be sure that I will be extremely grateful for your co- operation here.”

“But don’t you see – if we could prove what you say, we could let the people know exactly what those who oppose you are prepared to do….”

“I have no intention at all of telling the People, as you quaintly call them, anything. It will be enough that the attempt fails. They will not try it again. Yes, you find me the proof of who did this – but you then write the report as I have stated, and my wife becomes a victim of a terrible accident in the course of a kidnap attempt gone wrong which temporarily disoriented her mind. You write that report, Agent Mulder, and let me take care of the people who did this to her.”

Mulder leaned across the table to the older man. “I will not be a party to this.” He spoke softly. “Either I pursue my investigation to uncover the truth of what actually happened and make the appropriate report to my Bureau head …..or Agent Scully and I return to Washington immediately.”

“That would be a mistake, Agent Mulder.

“Is that a threat, sir?” He was startled and annoyed to find Phoebe Green standing next to him. “Excuse me -.”. Mulder pushed past her, and out into the courtyard.

“Well…..what have you been saying to him, Richard!”.

“Sit down, my dear. Mulder is not being very co-operative after all. I may need you to be at your most persuasive for me. I’m sure you can use your undoubted – talents – to ensure that he doesn’t do anything foolish. I think we’re both fond of Agent Mulder.”

A sudden noise startled them both. Phoebe fished in Mulder’s jacket which he had left draped over the back of his char and pulled out his cell-phone from the pocket. “Hello?” A sly grin tugged at her lips. “No, I’m frightfully sorry, Agent Scully. Mulder’s – not available at the moment. I’ll get him to call you back when we’ve finished……” She pushed the disconnect.” Oh what a shame, Richard……we got cut off. I hope Agent Scully didn’t have anything urgent to say!”

Fox Mulder sat on the low, cotswold stone wall, forcing himself to practice controlled breathing until his anger had subsided somewhat. <Scully would be proud of me> Once again they were being manipulated – expected to participate in a cover-up. It was just like that business at the Cumberland State correctional facility with the infected prisoners again. Only this time, there was the enticement of the only future reward that might have possibly tempted him – access to the knowledge that Matheson had, and that he might have as President.

Hr really needed to talk to Scully – the light of calm logic on the situation. His first thought was to say, “Fuck you,” to Richard Matheson and fly straight back to Washington DC. But what would that accomplish? He might just as well hand in his FBI badge on the plane, since even if he didn’t get fired they’d haul his ass back to white-collar crime and split him and Scully up again.

On the other hand, expediency was anathema to him. A slight breeze ruffled his hair – it was a beautiful afternoon. Sitting on the grass enjoying a lunchtime pint and sandwich were men and women from the estate agencies and small businesses of the town. There was even a smattering of tourists, though this was quite early in the season. A little rivulet ran along the bottom boundary of the pub garden, and beyond that, Mulder’s gaze was drawn to the mound of Glastonbury hill, and the Tor. And his thoughts went to Annelise Matheson – who really did deserve to know what had happened to her.

And then back to Matheson himself. Hell, he had put himself close to the line a couple of times for the X-Files. Supporting Fox Mulder wasn’t the smartest thing he could do. Could even be downright dangerous <Remember Deep-Throat> Didn’t Mulder owe him some debt of loyalty? But not – never – to the extent of compromising what he knew to be right. He would not let them do that to him.

Quite apart from anything else – he allowed himself a wry smile – he doubted if Scully would play along with anything that smacked of deceit or a cover-up. She had been even more angered by the F.Emasculata business than he had – had even talked, one wild night, of taking matters into their own hands, of blowing Pink Pharmaceuticals to bits as a savage kind of justice.

The sun warmed his back through the thin cotton dress shirt. He would go in and tell Richard Matheson that they would continue with their investigation, that they would find out the truth of what happened, and that he, Fox Mulder, would make his report to Matheson. The it would be up to Matheson himself what he chose to do with the information, and what he chose to tell the Bureau.

It seemed very dark inside the pub after the brightness outside. Matheson and Phoebe Green were still at the table. Mulder walked over and retrieved his jacket. He did not sit down again. ” If you don’t wish me to pursue the matter, ambassador, you can send me home now. What I am prepared to do is make my final report to you, and leave you to square matters in Washington. But I need your assurance that my investigation here won’t be hampered by you in any way. And,” he paused, “I can’t of course speak for Agent Scully.”

Richard Matheson knew this was as good as it got. “Fox, I’m glad we’ve been able to reach an understanding here. I’m have every faith that you will be able to make Agent Scully understand that this is the best course of action for everyone.”

“And talking of agent Scully,” Phoebe interposed sweetly, “she called on you mobile -phone a while ago, and I told her you were otherwise engaged.”

“I’m sure you did, Phoebe”, Mulder replied with a smile. “You never fail to live down to my expectations.”

Dana Scully snapped the cellphone closed in frustration. Either these British ‘mobile’ phones weren’t up to much or – more than likely – Phoebe Green had disconnected on purpose. She’s just have to try again later …maybe Mulder would be ‘available’ then – whatever the hell that meant. She looked round at the cheerless room which housed the Great Ormond Street hospital canteen. They’d done their very best to make it agreeable – painting the walls in white and pastels, with murals of the characters from ‘Peter Pan’ – but nothing could disguise the fact that it was a basement with no outside windows. <Hey, Mulder – feels like home!>

Suddenly someone tapped her on the shoulder, and she turned to see a face she recognized but couldn’t immediately place.

“Agent Scully, isn’t it? Are you looking for me?”

“Mr Hedley?” Scully’s voice reflected her surprised recognition. <Is he following me?> “I’m here visiting with Jonathan Matheson,” she explained, and caught what seemed to be a flash of relief on his face. “And you?”

The man sighed. “Ah, I seem to haunt this place, Agent Scully. My daughter has aplastic anaemia, and we have to come up for regular blood transfusions and tests.” He hesitated. “Look – I could do with some company. I’ve just had some disappointing news. Will you come to lunch with me? This place is really depressing – I know somewhere round the corner that’s much better.”

And indeed, Scully thought, the man had a haunted look around his eyes. “Sure. Lead the way.”

Round the corner from the hospital is a narrow pedestrianised street little more than a passageway between two more important thoroughfares. Lamb’s Conduit Street looked very picturesque in the May sunshine. George Hedley led her between the narrow, old houses to a pub – The Lamb and Flag – bedecked with baskets of spring flowers, and tables with parasols, continental-style, on the pavement

“Inside or out?”

Scully squinted in the sunlight. “Inside I think.”

While Hedley went to the bar to order their sandwiches, and buy the drinks, Scully examined her surroundings. The place was somewhat shabby – the bench-seats well-worn, the vinyl repaired in places – ring marks and the odd cigarette burn on the table. There was a large TV screen in the corner, showing an Australian soap opera, though none of the customers seemed to be taking much notice. It was a little stuffy inside, but Scully had the beginnings of a headache, and this was preferable to the brightness outside.

She pondered the coincidence of both children being at this hospital at the same time. But then – it was the best children’s hospital in the UK – for very many diseases it was one of the centres of excellence in the world. Wondering idly if Hedley’s wife was back with his daughter, she watched him make his way back to the table carrying the two glasses of soda.

“To be truthful”, Hedley passed her glass to her, “I’m glad to get out of there. Susie’s having another transfusion, and she gets so upset I can’t bear to watch. Pathetic, isn’t it.” His face twisted.

“Your wife..?.”

“Yes, she stays. Women are better at that kind of thing than men, don’t you think?”

Scully wisely chose not to respond. “Has your daughter been ill long?”

Hedley sighed. “For two years now. She was involved in an accident – she was in a car driven by the mother of one of her friends, and they were coming home from a ballet class one evening. It all seems to have started after that, though nobody has been able to explain why. Maybe the shock to her immune system…..”

“What happened to the other people in the car?”

“They were all killed.” He did not look as her as he replied.

Scully thought back to the reports they had spent the previous going through. evening <Was it really only yesterday?> Maybe one of those dry statistics was this man’s daughter and her dead friends. Impulsively she leaned over and touched his arm. “I’m sorry. And you said you’d had some bad news? If you’d rather not talk about it…..”

Hedley sighed. “We got the results of the bone-marrow typing back. We don’t have any other children, and neither my wife nor I, it seems, is histocompatible. It was a very long shot, anyway. Parents rarely are – but we’ve been on the list for such a long time – it seemed to be the last hope. She just keeps getting weaker and weaker, and the transfusions hardly seem to be doing any good any more.” He seemed to pull himself together. “Let’s talk about something more cheerful. Is this your first visit to the UK?”

The ploughman’s sandwich – cheese and pickle in a large French stick – had arrived, and Scully was trying rather unsuccessfully to break hers into manageable sized pieces. “Uhhhuh,” she replied with her mouth full, nodding affirmative.

“Well, I’m sure you’ve heard how eccentric the English are – and now you’ve seen it first-hand!”

Scully grinned at him. For a UFO nut, the guy was okay – normal even, compared to most of Mulder’s friends. They sat for a while companionably, eating, until Hedley uttered a stifled gasp, and Scully saw his attention was riveted to the television screen. She looked up to see the screen filled by the aerial photo of the field in which Ambassador Matheson’s wrecked Range Rover had been fou nd.

Hedley got swiftly up and moved closer to the TV and Scully followed. The picture faded, to be replaced by two middle-aged men, and an interviewer. The caption read ‘Bill Higgins and Bob Flowerdew’. The piece began with the interviewer recapping the story of Annelise Matheson’s disappearance, and what she has said to the newspapers, and then, speaking directly to the ca mera she said:-

“GMTV PM has the scoop for you – this afternoon we talk to the two men who claim to have faked the crop circles in the picture you saw earlier – and many of the others as well. Bill Higgins and Bob Flowerdew – welcome….”

Scully made a dive for her mobile phone. “Mulder?” Thank god this time he answered at once. “Mulder… are you anywhere you can see a television? No? Right – well there’s an interview being broadcast right now by two people who claim to have faked those crop-circles….yes, those……. no, I can’t….I’m in a pub…….what? With George Hedley…..never mind that…” Scully’s tone was exasperated. “Hang on a minute, Mulder…”

She tapped Hedley’s arm to get his attention. “What station is this?”

“It’s a London station. Looks like it’s a live interview.”

“Mulder… are you still there? I haven’t got time to explain more, but I’m going to try and go to the TV station to see if I can talk with them….yes it is odd, now…..look, we need to talk, but later. I’ll call you back as soon as I can. I need to tell you about what I found out at the hospital too……” She rang off.

The barman was very helpful, explaining that the GMTV studios were not that far away – in Camden Town – if she took a taxi she might be lucky and be there in twenty minutes. Taking a swift farewell of George Hedley, Scully was on her way.

Lygon Arms 7pm

Fox Mulder loosened his tie, slipped his shoes off and stretched out on the bed in the hotel room. He had spent a wearying and basically fruitless afternoon trying to track down people who had survived those road accidents which Scully and he had determined the previous evening seemed to fit the pattern into which Mrs Matheson’s belonged.

None of the survivors – and there were few enough of those – remembered anything of use….basically because they were all small children. No adults at all. No-one who could tell him anything about the circumstances causing the accidents. All he knew what what they had correlated from the police reports the previous evening: in none of the cases were there any mechanical faults evident on the vehicles to account for the crashes.And then on the way back to the hotel he had finally received another call from Scully, who had informed him that Bill and Bob had managed to slip out of the television studios before she could track them down, and that she was having real trouble persuading the studio boss to release a videotape of the broadcast to her.

“Mulder, your paranoia is catching,” she had fumed. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were being deliberately obstructive”

In the end, she had told him, only Detective Chief Inspector Green’s intervention had persuaded the man that it would not be a breach of journalistic privilege to hand over the tape, but by then it was too late for anything to be done that afternoon. So the upshot was, Dana Scully was going to have to spend the night in London.

“Damn it, Scully,” Mulder slowed down on a blind corner,” I need you here…”

“Believe me, Mulder, I’d rather be there.”

Staring now at the filmy white hangings of the four-poster Mulder thought back to the tone of voice she’s used. Was he fooling himself into believing that there was more than professional frustration there? So…..she was going to call him later, when she’d found a hotel.

He closed his eyes as a wave of lethargy swept over him. The last few days had been draining to say the least. Maybe it was a Good Thing that Scully wasn’t going to be here tonight – it would give him a chance to get a few things sorted out in his head.

For the first time in two years he made himself think back to the Cecil L’Ively case. He had been stunned at Phoebe’s unannounced arrival, and angry with her for scaring Scully and himself with the trick tape in the car. He’d felt mesmerized by her like a small mammal caught in a snake’s beady glare but he had been determined to resist her. He pondered – when exactly had that changed, so that he had found himself sitting on the bed in a hotel room not at all unlike this one……oh God!

His eyes snapped open, he sat, up, looked around him and laughed dryly. Perhaps it was some kind of cosmic joke. The same kind of four-poster bed – even the drapes were similar. He wondered if Scully had noticed. Probably – but she wouldn’t have said anything to him even if she had. He remembered the telephone call from her just as he was settling himself into that Boston hotel room, and how guiltily he had started to his feet.

He had known then that Scully wouldn’t approve – and had also known, though not in formulated words, that he didn’t want her to find out because she would think less of him – and not just professionally. Less of him for being so pathetic that he couldn’t resist Phoebe.

He made himself search for that moment of weakness when he had again allowed Phoebe to start dictating his life. He remembered. He and Phoebe had gone to the Boston Mercy Hospital to interview the woman who had been burnt when L’Ively had set fire to the bar. He had still been angry and resistant, but by the time they had left he was agreeing to spend the night at the hotel with her, knowing full well – yes even eager for – the inevitable consequence.

Settling back again, he closed his eyes. This time, his eidetic memory would be of benefit to him as he replayed the scene for himself.

She had been complimenting him on his interrogatory technique, he recalled – the woman hadn’t wanted her boyfriend to know that she was hanging out in bars trying to pick up other men. “Deftly done, Agent Mulder. Casually disregard her indiscretion. A polite but firm manner until she accedes to co-operate.”

He had replied woundingly unable to keep his feelings of bitterness from surfacing in his comments,” It’s a technique I refined in my relationship with you.”

And he had finally succeeded, it seemed, in touching her, for a hurt expression had flickered across Phoebe’s face. “Ah.” She had looked away. “Yes, well…I see you haven’t lost your sense of humour after all”.

And in that moment, when she had seemed vulnerable to him, when it seemed that he did indeed have the power to hurt her, he had been lost again. He had needed to have her think well of him. He had needed to have her affection. He sought her approval, just like he had always sought the approval of everyone who meant anything to him and who had withdrawn their love. Just like his father, so like Phoebe. And how could he not have given his father another chance on that April night a year ago, when half out of his mind with drugs he had heard only part the tale his father had wanted to tell. And how could he not have given Phoebe another chance when she looked so injured.

And so Phoebe had her victory and she had known it, and had crowned it with a reminder of their erotic pleasures: “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten a certain youthful indiscretion atop Arthur Conan Doyle’s tombstone on a misty night in Windlesham”..

He could see now, looking back on it, that it had been a stunning performance. Phoebe was clever and persistent. Since sparks and smart-talk weren’t working, try another tack – vulnerability. Play the guilt card – always a winner with him.

He didn’t want to think about what had happened after that but it was truth-time, and he forced himself to remember. Actually, it made him even more chagrined than succumbing again to Phoebe’s seduction. They had been walking back to the car. Mulder had been speaking of pyrokinesis. “I don’t think this is the IRA, Phoebe. I think this guy is far more exotic.”

Striding along side him, Phoebe had responded, “I should say so. If he can light himself afire…..” and then stopped, as Mulder had halted and stared at her. “What?”

He had smiled at her, and the words he had said now burned in his brain, “Nothing. I’m just not used to someone so quick to agree with me on these things.” <Oh, Scully – how could I have thought that! Even then, you were my rock. To put you down…to betray you so casually and to Phoebe…….>

Never again. What he and Scully had,such friendship and such caring, was a treasure that Phoebe would never likely experience. Mulder knew he had those for always. And he knew now that he wanted the rest, too. A man would have to be dead from the waist down not to be sexually stimulated by Phoebe at her most determined. But how could he have been so foolish as to think that had anything to do with love?

Phoebe was no more to him than those women in the pictures and on the films he kept under the couch in his apartment. Two-dimensional sexual fantasies to get off on. And he didn’t need them any more – and he didn’t need her.

He knew what he needed. Whether he could ever have it – well, that was something that he and Scully would have to work out between them. And tomorrow they would make a start on it.

Splashing his face with water, he caught sight of his reflection in the bathroom mirror. God knows what Scully saw in him, anyway. Dark shadows under his eyes from too many nights on the couch – nose much too big for his face – hair often refusing to be mastered. He was hardly a catch!

Scattering files and papers in piles all over the living-area he plugged in his modem and connected to his service provider to do some web-research. Might as well make a night of it – the sooner they were done here the better.

Dana Scully shrugged off the jacket of her business suit, shucked off her shoes and sank down gratefully on the bed in her small single room in the gables of the Hotel Strand Carlton. Finding hotel space at short notice in central London in May is not an easy task, and she was lucky to have even such meager and expensive accommodation as this. A picture of Mulder stretched out on that bed in the Lygon Arms flashed unsought in front of her eyes, and her heart bumped. <Less of that, Dana> she admonished herself sternly

She had tried to call him a couple of times since finding a place to stay for the night, but each time the room was engaged. And she thought she knew why – Mulder was probably surfing the internet, playing Dungeons and Dragons with Frohicke or downloading huge binaries from Celebrity Skin OnLine. She smiled involuntarily. He was such a mass of contradictions – incredibly sensitive and yet at time obtuse to the point of – what, stupidity? The bravest man she had ever know, yet afraid of revealing himself even to her for fear of rejection. . Ah, God, it was happening just like she knew it would from the moment she had sat in Skinner’s office and he had ordered her to England to work with Mulder and Phoebe Green.

He didn’t seem to understand that she knew him, his demons, knew the bad as well as the good. If she was going to leave him she would have done it long time ago…when? Sometimes she felt that she had no choice from the very first moment she had walked into his basement lair and he had looked up at her with that insolent smirk – wearing those glasses……….. She had thought he was quite mad on that first case, but she had never for a moment doubted his honesty, his integrity . And from the very first she had admired his relentlessness in pursuit of the truth, in the face of scorn and mockery. His shining intellect, his erudition, his capacity for the intuitive leap into darkness – ah, she felt so dull, sometimes. Felt that she was holding him down, binding him to the earth when he wanted to soar away. But leave him – never. She could no more do that than stop breathing.

Even after her abduction she never considered leaving – even during the terrible time after Missy had died. And even during those long winter months when he had been trying his best to drive her away. She would stand by him in the face of death – had done so.

So what, she suddenly thought, what am I doing now? Suddenly the room seemed stifling, and she pushed at the rusty catch until it finally gave way and she could shove the sash window up and lean out into the hot, London air.

Sitting on the window sill, she listened to the sounds floating up from the streets below, and thought about was happening in her life. Mulder was her best friend. He was trying to make an important decision about the direction he wanted his life to take. If it were anything but this….would she have cut him adrift to make that decision by himself? Or would she have stood at his side, made him talk it through, shown him all the options, argued stubbornly with him about which was the most sensible…..because what happened to him mattered to her.

So why had she withdrawn herself this time?

Dana Scully was not a cowardly woman, nor a stupid one. So she looked into the face of her pride and saw it for what it was. She wanted him to choose her freely – she wanted the victory to be magnificent, wanted Phoebe to be routed utterly. And while she was doing this, while she was standing back from the fray, arms folded, Phoebe was working all her magic to draw Mulder back to her! While she, Dana Scully, was sulking in a hotel bedroom, Mulder was having to face the beast alone.

She laughed a little at her own analogies, but saw that they contained a grain of truth. She wanted Mulder to be strong with this – wanted him to be perfect and adamant in his love for her. But she knew that wasn’t fair. He needed her help and she should be strong enough to give it. He needed her to remind him why he loved her, needed her not to be judgmental about what was past – needed especially perhaps to know that she thought he was worth fighting for.

<If only he’ll give himself a chance!> Maybe she could give him a reminder of what his choices were.

She powered up her own laptop and logged on. Yes! Mulder was still on-line.

>Mulder – you there?

>Hey Scully – why didn’t ya call? Where are you?

>Ha ha! You’ve been on-line for hours, Mulder. I hope you know what the hotel charge for these calls is likely to be. You’re paying, remember 🙂

>Shit, Scully. Thanks for reminding me. Where are you? When are you coming back?

>Hotel Strand Carlton – delightful broom-cupboard. Back tomorrow – lunchtime. Catch up then.
>Oh Mulder………

>Scully? You still there?

>Mulder… keep yourself warm tonight….for me 😉 And sleep well. You don’t want to be worn out tomorrow night.

Dana Scully logged off with a smile on her lips as soon as she had sent the message. She was looking forward to the next day. Phoebe was not going to have it all her own way.

Fox Mulder stared at the message blinking innocuously on his screen and felt the heat grow. Then he shut the laptop down and went to have his second cold shower of the day.


Saturday 25th May

Lygon Arms 12.45pm

Scully slammed shut the hotel door and then leaned back against it in relief. It had been a difficult morning. It wasn’t just that she had had to argue with four different people before she actually had the tape of the Bill and Bob TV interview in her hands. Nor that she didn’t have a change of clothes and the undies she had washed out in the hotel the night before were still slightly damp when she had come to put them on in the morning. Nor was it even that the heat and grime of London had got to her – after all she was a veteran of Washington DC in August.

She and Mulder had a long talk on the telephone before she left to go to the GMTV studios – filling him in on what she had found out from Jonathan’s medical records, and listening with growing anger as he recounted his discussion with Ambassador Matheson – and Mulder had offered to meet her off the train, so that they could travel to Holbrook Manor to view the tape with Phoebe Green. Then, on arrival at Paddington Station she had discovered to her dismay that her train had been cancelled, and it would be mid-afternoon before she arrived in Castle Cary. She had called Mulder to let him know that she’s get a taxi to Holbrook Manor with the tape and meet him there……..and then she’d found out that she could make a connection.

By this time she had been so fed up that she decided not to call Mulder, but to go back to the hotel first, and then on to the Manor and meet him there as arranged. He’d just have to manage as best he could on his own!

<Hmmm> Now she stood in front of her wardrobe in clean bra and panties. <Maybe the red suit…> She flicked the hangers back and forward. Not a lot of choice, and she really needed to remember to put some stuff into the hotel dry-cleaning… She pulled a cream blouse out and held it up next to the suit, critically.

“Knock ‘em dead, Red.”

Scully gasped and spun round. Mulder was leaning against the door-frame watching her with dark eyes.

<How long had he been there?> Suddenly she felt shy: instinctively she held the blouse in front of her. Then she just felt silly <Come on Dana! This is the man you came here to sleep with!> and let the blouse slip from her fingers to the floor. She turned to face him full on, and took a deep breath. “Hi.”

A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “Um, Scully……this is a surprise…… I thought you were going to be late.”

“A nice surprise I hope?” How she managed to keep the trembling from her voice, Dana never knew. She felt lightheaded – as if at the slightest brush of air she would float away. But she tipped her chin up: held his gaze. My god – she could lose herself in those eyes. She shivered with longing for him to touch her, and he saw the slight trembling.

“Hey Scully, you’re cold…”

And with the fates singing in her ears, Dana Scully took all her courage, and all her hopes for the future, stepped towards him and held out her hand. “Then warm me up, Mulder”. Her voice was husky – from desire or fear, she didn’t care. All she knew was that she wanted this man – she had wanted him for so long – and if she didn’t have him now she was going to shatter into little pieces.

His hand was warm and strong meeting hers, they moved close…so close… and it was as if all her senses were on fire. From the feel of the carpet beneath her bare toes sensation tingled up her body till it seemed like the very hair on her head was alive and burning with desire for this man in front of her.

He looked down at her as she slowly closed the space between them until her length was pressed against his, until her arms snaked round him to hold him and feel the strength and warmth of him………“Scully…do you think that this is a good idea?” She was half-mesmerized by his lips, that mouth…and in the only reply she was capable of making, she pulled his head down towards her with both hands and kissed him hard.

“Jesus Christ, Scully…..” And then he was holding her so tightly that she was pulled up on tiptoe, his hands roaming up and down her back, cupping her buttocks, smoothing across the plane of her stomach an finally coming to rest around the smooth fullness of her breast. She could feel the strength of his desire pressed hard against her belly, as she rocked and moaned against him.

“I don’t want to wait any longer, Mulder…“she murmured into his mouth… “Please, Mulder, please….” And then they were on the bed, and his clothes were pooled on the floor, and she was carried away savage joy as he settled his weight down on top of her and in her. As they thrust in unison with the fierce rhythm of nature, thought fled: the only thing that mattered was the aching in her groin, and the building, agonizing, wonderful, agonizing pleasure of it – and neither of them could last for long, because this moment had been so long in coming. Her world splintered into shards of pleasure, and Dana Scully eventually came back to find herself lying in the arms of the man she loved, searingly familiar and utterly new..

He was staring down at her, and she could not read the expression on his face. She reached up, and stroked his bottom lip with her finger, then traced the contour of his marvelous cheekbones. She wondered if it was sadness she saw there….or disappointment…….something she couldn’t identify. Then he closed his eyes and rested his head on her chest, and for long moments she held him like that, protectively, running her fingers through his hair.

Lygon Arms


As soon as Mulder entered the hotel suite he knew that Scully was already there, but he wasn’t prepared for the sight that met him as he walked quietly to the bedroom.

There she stood, clad only in her underwear and a little frown, contemplating the contents of the wardrobe. He watched silently as she reached in and pulled out that red suit and hung it on the doorknob – and then the cream silk blouse. She chewed her lip a little as she looked at it, tilting her head to one side. She looked so…intense, so self-contained.

Her pale skin and soft curves – the flaming hair – she looked like a fiery spirit, and Mulder was shaken with a wave of such love and such desire that he had to fall back a little against the door frame for support. He said the first thing that came into his head – “Knock ‘em dead, Red!” – then watched as here eyes widened and she spun round, clutching the garment to her in defense.

He saw the shyness there, the nervousness – then saw her chin come up – she slowly let the silken material slip from the fingers to the floor and looked him straight in the eyes – and Mulder had never seen anything so erotic in his life. He was mesmerized by her mouth, as he tongue darted out to lick her lips, but though he wanted nothing but to crush her in his embrace, he forced himself to remain still.

“Hi.” Her voice was husky, low, and he nearly lost it right then.

“Um., Scully…this is a surprise…..I thought you were going to be late.” His mouth was so dry he was amazed he could speak at all. The air between then seemed to be electric, charged with possibilities…

“A nice surprise I hope?” She titled her head and gave him that secretive half-smile. <Oh, Scully….stop now if this doesn’t mean what I hope it means….>

And then he saw that her body trembled – so small, so delicate and pale she seemed, and he started forward -” Hey Scully, you’re cold…”

And she was moving towards him, her small strong hand held out to him, “Then warm me up, Mulder”, and thought fled and only sensation mattered as he drew her to him into a fierce embrace, pulled her against him so tightly <Oh God, Scully, don’t stop now> “Do you think this is a good idea?” and not waiting for the answer as she kissed him hard, “Jesus Christ, Scully”… She was murmuring something into his mouth as she drew him to the bed.

And it was fast and fierce, and he couldn’t make it last because he’d been waiting for this fulfillment for so very long….and her mouth was hot on him, and she was soft and tight and welcoming..and he was home at last…….and then it was over and he sank down, and down into her arms.

He felt her sigh beneath him, and moved to look at her. She was still flushed, and her eyes when they fluttered open were soft. She looked back up at him, questioning, and suddenly he couldn’t look at her honesty any more, afraid of what he might see….regret…sadness, and he pillowed his head on her breasts and let her comfort him for a while like a child.

Eventually he rose and dressed himself, leaving her in privacy. He was ashamed at his loss of control: sad that their first time should have been such a fierce and urgent coming together. He had wanted to woo her, to seduce her slowly, to drive her mad with pleasure, to make love to every inch of her…..he had not wanted such a violent coupling to be their first time. That they could have had so many times before.

He sat unseeing as the videotape Scully had brought back from London played in front of his eyes. Eventually she came out to him, dressed, calm and self-contained again, ready for work. She made no reference to what had just happened, and neither did he. He would not deny her the space she so obviously needed – would not make her talk about it until she was ready.

Dana watched Mulder out of the corner of her eye as he piloted the car round the narrow lanes which led to Holbrook Manor. She wondered just exactly what he was thinking…feeling. He had been so quiet in the aftermath of their lovemaking <was that really what is was?>: she had held him for a while, then he has kissed the top of her head gently, got up, dressed quickly and gone out to the sitting room where she had found him twenty minutes later, after she had cleaned herself up and dressed in the red suit, watching the tape of Bill and Bob’s interview.

Did he regret what they had done? All she knew was, caught up in the frenzy of the moment, he had wanted it as much she had. But there was no doubt in her mind that she had impelled him, and maybe he felt that she had taken advantage of him, had seduced him into doing something he wasn’t yet ready for…something he didn’t want to deal with yet, if ever. Why wasn’t he talking to her?

She sighed, and looked out of the window. Why had she behaved in such an extraordinary way? But really, she knew the answer. She had felt, in that moment when she had dropped the blouse she was holding and turned to face him, that if she didn’t make a move now, then neither of them ever would. There would always be a reason not to. It would never be quite the right moment. So her heart had held sway for once….and she was not sorry. Not at all. Even if they never made love again she would remember till the day she died how it felt to have him inside her, how it made her complete, how soft his skin was, the comfortable weight of him on top of her….how safe he made her feel. She sighed again. In those moments she had felt more alive than she had ever done in her life before. And she wouldn’t regret that.

God, but she’s feeble, thought Phoebe Green, as she made her way down to the library where the two FBI agents were waiting to brief her on the previous day’s activities. Taken to her bed again in the middle of the day when she was meant to be travelling up to London for an official reception with Richard. When he’s married to me – might as well he positive about this, she grinned inwardly – that’s just the kind of thing I’ll love. <And if I take to my bed in the middle of the afternoon, I won’t be alone!>

She took a deep breath to centre herself. She had a job to do now: she needed to work Fox Mulder so that he did exactly what Matheson has wanted him to – find out the truth, so that no-one could swing any unpleasant surprises at a later date, and then make damned sure no-one else found out about it. Because whatever the truth was, it was unlikely to be good public relations for an aspirant president – even if it was just that his wife cracked under the pressure. Who would want a woman like that in the White House? And Matheson’s involvement in the SETI project – his open-mindedness about some of Mulder’s ridiculous theories – they were, Phoebe considered, his Achilles heel. Would the American people really vote in as President a man who could hold those kinds of beliefs?

Phoebe was at odds with herself over all this. She needed to do a good job – and she wanted to please Richard, by ensuring Mulder’s absolute co-operation. On the other hand, if Richard could see that his wife was a complete flake and a total liability who was continuing to damage him with her off-the-wall remarks and eccentric behavior, he was much more likely to quietly dump her. And that would be very good news for Phoebe. For she had discovered that Matheson was like her in so many ways. He was a user, too. A user of people. maybe you had to be in order to be a successful politician, Phoebe neither knew nor cared. But it was much harder to get Richard to do what she wanted – and this time, she really, really wanted it – than it had ever been with any of her previous encounters.

As soon as she walked into the library, Phoebe knew that something had changed in the way Mulder and Scully were behaving with eachother. There was a tension, a sparking in the air. <My god!> Mulder was explaining something about a videotape the were all going to watch, but Phoebe was fascinated by Dana Scully. The woman positively glowed. She sat on the couch, hands demurely folded in her lap, not looking at Fox Mulder, but when she looked up to greet Phoebe, her eyes shone. <She looks like a woman who has just been given a really good going over>.

Phoebe sat down next to her on the couch, as Mulder set the tape going. But only half her attention was on the revelations of Bill and Bob, crop-circle fakers extraordinaire. The other half was analyzing the scene that was playing out in front of her. Well, they had either had the mother of all rows – or wild sex. Whichever it was, it ratcheted the stakes up a notch. The game was now afoot indeed!

Dana Scully forced herself to concentrate on the tape in front of her, pulled her mind way from that recent memory of the taste of Fox Mulder’s mouth on hers, the electric touch of his fingers. Damn – she could feel that she had been smirking and hoped that no-one was looking at her. She looked down so that her hair fell like curtain round her face, and allowed herself a small smile. Then she took herself very sternly in hand.

If they were going to be able to make this work, both she and Mulder needed to be able to keep their private lusts in the bedroom <and in the lounge…and in the kitchen…..and in the bathroom…and on that big desk in the basement> she stifled a giggle, and accidentally caught Mulder’s glance, as he caught the slight sound and turned round to stare at her. And she couldn’t help it – didn’t want to help it. He looked oh – so Mulder sitting there, leaning forward a little, glasses …..God, she loved him in those glasses, he looked so sexy….! It wasn’t fair – she just looked like a librarian in hers! She suddenly found herself giving him a long, slow smile, as she stretched back into the couch. Mulder’s eyebrows raised, and a laugh gleamed in his eyes too as she blushed, realizing what she must have looked like, practically thrusting her chest at him. Then he smiled back, leaned forward and touched her knee lightly.

“Let’s take it from the top again Scully!” The double-entendre wasn’t lost on either of the woman present, as he had intended. “There’s something here, and I’m just not seeing it.”

“Oh come on, Mulder. This is just a waste of time. So what if the circles are fakes – we knew that, anyway….they’re all fakes.” Phoebe has seen the last exchange between the two of them, and much as she liked a challenge she did not appreciate being totally excluded from their interaction. Dana Scully was having all to much of a good time, and Foxy was paying her far too much attention.

But Mulder had rewound and started the tape again. This time, having re-established their connection, Scully had no trouble in concentrating on what was in front of her. As she had seen when watching with George Hedley the clip began with the photograph of the field showing the markings in the corn with the Range Rover in the middle of it.

They watched in silence as the voice-over related Annelise Matheson’s statements and then the camera switched to the studio, and the two men. Bob and Bill were florid and middle- aged. Bob sported a dark beard, and Bill an earring in his left lobe. They gave the impression of being exceptionally pleased with themselves.

“Yes, Anthea, we’ve been responsible for many of the so- called crop-circles you’ve been hearing about over the past few years. It all started one night in the pub nearly twenty years ago…… ” And the two men went on to claim that they had been responsible for nearly 200 circles over the past years, throughout the Wiltshire – Somerset area. “The more keen those so-called experts got, the more fun we had!”

“And why is it,” the vacuous blonde interviewer queried, “that you are only coming forward now, when you’ve been doing this for years?”

“Well,” Bill leaned forward earnestly, “Basically we’ve been doing it for a bit of a lark, but with this business with the Ambassador’s wife and all this cobblers about little green men we thought it was time we spoke up before anyone started to take this nonsense too seriously.”

“Not only that,” Bob interposed, “But my wife found out. She started to wonder where I was all these nights! ” He grinned at the camera. “Hello, Elsie! Believe me now, love, do you?”

Bob then elaborated on the actually method of faking the circles – “Actually, we call them pictograms” – using ropes, planks, and a baseball cap with a strange wire construction attached to it which they said they had used to help them create the straight lines.

No, they didn’t have any proof of the other circles – unfortunately, Bob’s Elsie had been a bit upset when he’d confessed to her, and had taken the lot down the local tip – but they did have pictures of this latest escapade that all the fuss had been made about. They held one of these pictures up and the camera focused in on it. It wasn’t very different from the one in the newspapers, a copy of which Scully has seen in the file. “We always like to have a – memento- of our handiwork, see? So we usually goes back in the morning at first light to take a few snaps for the family album. And we shinned up a tree….”

“And we saw that car there in the middle of our lovely pictograms, so after we’d got a few piccies we legged it.”

“Mulder..” Something was tugging at the back of her mind. “Wind it back and freeze-frame…..” She turned to the Englishwoman. “Apart from the fact that the farmer ploughed his fields, do you know if he has done any other work since?”

Phoebe gave her a condescending look. “Really Agent Scully, its hardly my job to keep track of what the local yeomen are doing!”

“I guess that’s a ‘no’ then. Okay, we’ll try this another way. ” She reached for her briefcase and pulled out the prints she had developed from the reels of film she had shot at the scene, and then spread the pictures out cross the large reading table. “Yes!”

“What’cha got, Scully?” Mulder leaned over her shoulder, very close. She was vaguely aware of his presence, the scent of him, but her mind was busy with other kinds of extreme possibility.

She indicated the screen. “There’s no way those photographs could have been taken as they’ve just said, Mulder.” She pointed at two of the 8 x 10 black-and-white glossies. “Look at the angle of vision….”

“They were taken from up a tree, Scully. He said so.”

“But there are no trees from which those shots could have been taken. See? The shadow’s the same as in this other aerial photo – they must have been taken at almost the same time. And nothing’s been chopped down, either – the aerial photo shows the same vegetation as I’ve got here”

And it was true. The men were lying. They couldn’t possibly have taken those photos – the supposed ‘proof’ of their involvement – as they had stated. “And if they’re lying about that, what else are they lying about”, mused Phoebe.

“And why” Mulder added.

“And who did take the pictures. And that other one” Scully touched the original photo, the one that had been reprinted in newspapers across the world alongside the mocking stories of Annelise Matheson’s supposed abduction by aliens. ” – any luck on tracking that down, Mulder?”

In response to Scully’s comment, Mulder pulled out the print which had been reluctantly handed over to him by the Mendip Daily News. He turned it over with his long fingers and pointed to a printed inscription. “MBF – that’s all. It’s a press agency. I couldn’t get anything else useful out of the editor. He said they’d never used them before.”

“We checked up on that, Mulder. It was a complete dead-end.” Phoebe sounded rather exasperated. ” We couldn’t find anything on them. We could only find two companies with those initials. One’s a knitwear manufacturer up in Scotland, and the other’s a research and development laboratory in Shepton Mallet. Nothing helpful at all.”

Scully frowned. ” Shepton Mallet? I saw that name on road-signs when we drove down. It must be near here?”

“Well, yes, but they’re certainly not a press agency, and they didn’t know anything about this picture.”

Mulder rubbed his jaw. “Well, they’re the closest thing we’ve got to a lead at the moment. ” He turned to Scully. “See what you can dig up on them, Scully, and about this Bill and Bob. Try our paranoid friends back home – if there’s anything there, they should be able to find out – as well as the Bureau resources. Phoebe ?”

The tall brunette gave him a slow smile. “How can I help, Mulder”

He was all business. “Show Scully where the phone point is. I’m going to take this tape to the SCCR – they may pick up on something we haven’t.”

Holbrook Manor. 5pm

Phoebe Green stood, arms crossed in front of her, and watched as the smaller red-head logged on to the FBI intranet. <Show Scully where the phone point is indeed. I’ll get you for that, Fox Mulder.> Not only had the bloody women solved the Cecil L’Ively case and made her look a fool before, now she had come up with what might be their first solid lead in this whole wretched case. And it wasn’t fair, because they’d only just found out about those two bucolic idiots. Now that was a point. Why just now? Determining to mention it to Mulder when they saw him again – it would appeal to his paranoid tendencies – she considered what needed to be done about Dana Scully.

What was it about the woman she found so provoking? It wasn’t just that she was screwing Fox Mulder, though that was extremely irritating when she, Phoebe Green, had banked on that diversion for herself. She was sure that, given enough time, she could win Mulder round, but she wasn’t sure she cared to expend that much effort on him. Not only that, but she had to be a bit careful not to push Richard Matheson too far. Trying to make him a little jealous was one thing – but she didn’t think he’d take very kindly if he were to find out she’d actually been laying Mulder, which well might happen if she had to become too overt.

<God knows what he sees in her!> . Phoebe ran an inventory of Dana Scully’s features. Hair – okay, quite attractive. Skin too pale – bet she goes red in the sun. Nose too small: chin too pointed. Looks like a hamster when she smiles. Nice eyes, though….when you can see them. Dana Scully had put her glasses on, and was intent on the screen in front of her, making notes, chewing her lip, occasionally flicking back a lock of red hair that persisted in falling in her eyes. <She’s so damned…neat! And so bloody sure of herself>

Perhaps that was what attracted Mulder – her coolness, her cleverness, It certainly couldn’t be her looks. And she’s so …..short! Barely reaches his chin…that must make for some interesting maneuvering. Odd, too, since Mulder likes ‘em tall and slim. Yes, must be an intellectual attraction. Madam super-cool Scully. Well, we’ll have to see about that.

She leaned forward over Scully’s shoulder and pretended to take an interest in what she was doing. “Agent Scully – Dana.”

Scully looked up, surprised.

“Let’s face it – we haven’t exactly hit it off, have we? ” She smiled disarmingly.

Scully’s expression remained inscrutable.

<We’ll see about that, miss.> “You didn’t make it the other night. Let me introduce to the delights of an English pub and we can get to know eachother better. I’m sure we must have lots of Foxy stories to swap! I’ll call Mulder and tell him to meet us at the White Lion – it’s the local for the detectives on the case too…… and I think the time’s come for a serious pooling of information. I’m sure you want to get this sorted as soon as possible.”

It would have been churlish to refuse this olive branch. Scully knew it. Phoebe knew it. Dana Scully gave Phoebe Green a small smile, “Okay”.

<YES. We’re going to have some fun tonight!>

Finally Phoebe Green left the room to call Mulder at the SCCR and Scully was able to relax. She stretched a little: God, it had been a long day – so much had happened. She smiled softly, for a brief pause allowing herself the indulgence of remembering Mulder in her arms. A door slammed in the distance <Now, now ! No daydreaming!> and Dana heard a masculine voice – Matheson had returned.

The screen beeped at her “Timed out waiting for a response. Host has disconnected.” Dammit, she thought. But she needed to use the bathroom anyway, so she slipped out of the library, hoping that she’s be able to find her way in this rambling place.

And so it was that Dana Scully stumbled on a scene that was almost an exact replica of what her partner had seen two years before – Phoebe Green in a passionate embrace with the man she was meant to be protecting. “Excuse me!” Scully flushed with embarrassment and anger as she withdrew swiftly from the room she had accidentally entered – Matheson’s study, it appeared.

“Agent Scully!” Dana turned, surprised at the sound of Matheson’s clipped tones. He had followed her out into the hall, and gave her an appraising look as if to decide which was the best way to approach this problem in order to secure a favourable outcome. “Agent Scully, I’m sure that in your work you understand the necessity for discretion on occasion.”

Dana titled her chin to look up at him as he came to stand rather close to her.

“This is one of those occasions. I would be disappointed to learn that you had spoken of this incident to anyone, including Agent Mulder. This has absolutely no bearing on the case and is an entirely private matter between myself and Inspector Green.”

“And your wife, sir.” <Bastard>

“I expect to be able to rely on your discretion. Agent Scully. It would be most unfortunate if I were not able to help Agent Mulder pursue his interests at a future date because there had been – unpleasantness – between us over this small matter. Is that clear, Agent Scully?”

“Crystal clear, sir. And no perhaps you would tell me where the bathroom is. I wouldn’t want to cause any more unpleasantness in my attempts to locate it.”

No, she wouldn’t tell Mulder, but not for the reasons Matheson gave. She agreed about one thing – it had no bearing on the case – and what purpose would telling Mulder serve, except to upset him. No need to rub his nose in what a bitch Phoebe Green really was. She groaned inwardly. The prospect of spending an evening socializing with Phoebe Green was now even less appealing than before. <Ah, Dana, don’t sweat the small stuff> she told herself. At least she had another couple of hours peace before they had to leave.

The Coach & Horses public house.
Stoke Easton Saturday 8pm

Dana Scully was drunk. Not rip-roaring life-and soul-of the party drunk, nor sobbing into her gin drunk, but definitely not in control of her mouth and limbs. And the very strange thing was that she had no idea how she came to be in this condition. “Mus’ be ‘n X-file”, she muttered sagely to herself.

Phoebe Green leaned across the table, which was littered with glasses. “Agent Scully, I do believe you’re finally having some fun. Mulder will be surprised when I tell him.” She smiled wickedly.

Dana realized that she was grinning at Phoebe. Had Phoebe said something funny? Dana tried to think about it, but it was too difficult. She shook her head a little.

Detective Constable Watson, one of Phoebe Green’s team based at Stoke Easton police station, came back from the bar carrying another round of drinks on a tray. He squeezed past Phoebe to sit on the bench next to Dana, then leaned back, putting his arm along the back of the bench behind her. He handed Dana another drink – and winked surreptitiously at Phoebe Green.

“The cider here is famous – you really have to try it while you’re here”, Phoebe had told her when they had arrived an hour and a half before, to await Mulder.

Dana wasn’t a fan of the innocuous apple-fruit drink back home, but it wasn’t worth a battle “Mm, interesting stuff!” she had remarked surprised at the tang of it, then pulling a face, slightly puzzled at the raucous laughter which had greeted her remark But she had been thirsty, and drank the first one very quickly, and then another appeared, and now another ……

And suddenly she wasn’t feeling well at all. She vaguely remembered Mulder saying something about going to see the crop circle people earlier that evening. But where was he now? Phoebe touched her on the arm, and there he was, making his way through the crowd. Scully stood up, swaying slightly on her feet, and moved to meet him, bumping as she did so into a couple of lads and spilling their beer.

“Sorry..sorry…” she frowned, looking at the mark the beer had made on the man’s jacket.

“Looks like the lady’s had a drop too much” one of the lads said good-naturedly

And Mulder was next to her, and he had heard what was said. He could smell the alcohol on her breath. Could see from her unsteady gait that she was at least half-drunk. Christ, he had to get her out of here. He grabbed hold of her by the elbow and twisted her round to face him. “What the fuck are you playing at here, Scully?” Shock made him rougher than he intended to be.

“Mulder,” she sought for control of her thoughts as she lurched against him slightly. “Mulder….I think I’m …..I think I’ve had ……I do’n understand….” Her gaze was unfocussed as she looked up at him, and her face slack. Her eyes widened suddenly, and her hand flew to cover her mouth, and she pushed past him and stumbled into the Ladies cloakroom.

Mulder felt the anger bubble up inside him. Anger at Scully, for behaving like this in front of Phoebe Green. Anger at himself – because this must, somehow, be his fault. In the four years he had known Dana Scully he had never seen her even tipsy. This was so utterly out of character. Jesus, was this her reaction to having sex with him – to go out and get thoroughly smashed? That made him feel real good. Frustrated at his inability to follow her into the cloakroom and ask her just exactly what she thought she was playing at, getting plastered in the middle of an investigation, he turned to find Phoebe’s cruel dark eyes watching him from across the smoke-filled room. A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips, then she turned away to speak to Buchanan.

Scully emerged ashen-faced. “I do’n’ feel so good, Mulder. I’m goin’ home….” She leaned into Mulder, fumbled in his jacket pocket – “Gimme the keys, Mulder…” then stumbled heavily against him till he caught her and held her at arms length to look her in the face.

“Don’t be silly, Dana. You’re in no state to drive.” He took her by the arm again and pulled her through the crowded bar towards the door, shielding her with his body from the watching amused eyes of the Phoebe and her colleagues, his face grim.

“You’re hurtin’ me Mulder,” she whimpered, but he appeared not to hear, tugging the heavy door open violently, and pushing her out into the cold air. That was the final straw for Scully. Pulling herself free from him, she staggered over to a low stone wall and threw up comprehensively into the garden.

Mulder let her go. Scully was his refuge: his love for her had become the bedrock of his life. What had he done to her? He had taken her, and cost her the cool professionalism that she protected so fiercely. This was his fault – and he could hardly bear to help her.

For he knew about drink. He had seen what the demon had done to his father: huddled under his sheets as his father roared around the house looking for Samantha, night after night. Waking up to find whisky breath on his face, red accusing eyes staring into his own, he would lie completely still knowing that any movement would only enrage his father more. And in the morning the icy coldness of his father’s manner, his condemning eyes – see what you have driven me to, because you couldn’t take care of your sister.

There was never any physical abuse, but the walking on thin ice, always holding his breath, the fear of upsetting his father because his temper was so much shorter when he was in drink – these were Fox Mulder’s memories of his teenage years. He had often wondered why his mother didn’t just leave. She was not a weak woman. And then the day he departed for college she filed the divorce papers.

And when Phoebe had…..betrayed him, and he had thought there could be no future for him without her, he too had sought refuge briefly in the seductive depths of the bottle. Until he had woken up one morning in the bed of a woman whose name he didn’t know, looked in the mirror and remembered nothing about what he had done the night before, or the night before that, either. So he had given up drinking spirits. A couple of beers at the weekend, or winding down after a case with Scully – that was his limit. His mind flashed to Comity and he grimaced. He had downed half a bottle of vodka in that motel room, but what he had told Detective White had been the truth: he didn’t usually drink. That was why, the other night, it had only taken a couple of pints of ale to make him tipsy himself. And thinking of that he burned with shame again. Not this time because of the lust Phoebe had effortlessly conjured, but because Scully had been gentle and non-judgmental when she had found him asleep on the sofa reeking of beer – could he really not be the same for her?

He looked at her now, sitting shivering on the low wall, her whole body shaking. He should go to her, hold her, help her. He should tell her that if it caused her so much distress then they must stop – his soul shrank at the thought of never knowing Dana Scully in that way again. But he couldn’t go to her, and he recognized that was a failure, a flaw in his love for her. As he looked at her, she slid down to sit on the ground, and she began to cry, very softly.

Dana Scully had no idea what was happening. The world whirled around her, she was so cold, so tired. She wanted Mulder to take her home, put her to bed, but he just stood over by the door, watching her. She knew that what had happened was a very bad thing. If only she could get back to the hotel, back to bed….she tried to stand up, and found a pair of strong arms helping her up. Not Mulder. She swiped away the hair that kept falling across her face. Not Mulder, Buchanan.

“Agent Mulder,” he called. “I think your partner could do with some help.” Mortified, Mulder stepped across and transferred Scully to his own arm. Unlocking the car door, he bundled Scully into the front seat, and was crossing to the driver’s side when Buchanan spoke again. “I don’t know what your problem is, but your partner has been the victim of a very cruel practical joke.”

“Meaning what?” Mulder stepped close to the man, but Buchanan held his ground.

“Go and ask your girlfriend in there – she’s the one who thought it was so funny to spike Agent Scully’s cider with vodka.”

“Scully was drinking cider?”

“Yes – it’s a local speciality – home-fermented and very potent. Enough by itself to fell a strong man, but with a shot of vodka added…”

“For God’s sake, why didn’t you warn her?” Mulder hissed into the older man’s face.

“I would have – but by the time I found out what all the sly looks were about, you had arrived. Look, it’s not for me to interfere between you and your partner…” Mulder glowered, and started to interrupt, but Buchnan continued, “but this is really not her fault. She needs you to help her, not condemn her. And she’ll feel like hell in the morning. Save the grief for that bitch inside.” So saying, he turned on his heel and left.

<Christ, Dana, what a total piece of shit I am> Mulder leaned across and fastened her seatbelt.

“I’m sorry Mulder….so sorry” she mumbled, and there was nothing he could say. He was the one who should be apologizing.

Lygon Arms. Half an hour later.

He stripped her clothes off her gently, wiped her face with a flannel, helped her into her blue pajamas, and made her drink two glasses of water even though she protested that it would make her throw up again. Then he helped her slide under the covers and sat next to her stroking her hair. And all the while the fury burned in his soul at Phoebe Green.


“Hush.” His hand smoothed across her forehead, lightly closing the eyes that had fluttered open. “Try to sleep, Dana.”

“Oh God, Mulder, I’m sorry – I’m so sorry…I don’t know what to say…..Mulder I could lose my job if they find out back home….and then I’ll lose you too….” One lone tear squeezed its way out and trickled down her cheek.

Is that what she really thinks, wondered Mulder. <I love her. How can she not know that? Whether it works out between us, that won’t change>. And then he realized sadly that he had never told her, never used the words, and maybe she needed him to say them. “Dana Scully, for as long as you want me, I’m yours,” he whispered into her hair. “I love you.”

But she was asleep, and didn’t hear him.

Lygon Arms 11.30pm.

It had turned colder as Mulder walked out to the rental car. Scully had sunk into a deep slumber and he doubted if she would awake before morning. But Fox Mulder wasn’t going to wait that long before he told Detective Chief Inspector fucking Phoebe Green just exactly what he thought of her fucking mindgames.

The car started on the second turn, and he drove off through the empty lanes towards Holbrook Manor.

Lygon Arms

Sunday morning 26th May – 3 am.

Dana Scully woke with a start and a thudding in her head. Her mouth tasted disgusting. And she was alone. Groaning, she switched on the small bedside light. Definitely no Mulder in bed with her – he must be on the couch. Aspirin – anything – or she’d feel even worse next time she woke up.

She swung her legs out of the bed and immediately regretted the violent movement. <Oh god – this is why I don’t ever do this…> Her bag was next door – she really didn’t want to disturb Mulder after making such a complete ass of herself <I’m not going to think about it now>. As the door swung back and light filtered into the sitting room she realized the couch was empty. Wildly she looked around, even though it made her feel sick to turn her head. Where the hell was Mulder? Surely he hadn’t gotten another room…surely not. <I will not cry.> Was he so disgusted with her behaviour? She didn’t remember much about those few hours, but the expression on his face when he saw the state she was in was seared into her brain. They had all been right. It was complete disaster.

She pulled back the curtain. <Oh god – the car’s gone.> And she knew, with a cold certainty, where he was. Mulder had made his choice – and now they would all have to deal with that.



Sunday 26th May

3am Rye Lane, Yarlington village.

The flashing blue and red lights cut through the darkness, casting grim shadows across the tangled debris of the minivan, now pulled as far to one side as possible on this quiet country lane. The body of the fair-haired girl was loaded into the back of the ambulance, and the door slammed shut. Fox Mulder stood watching as the tailgate lights disappeared round a corner of the twisting lane.

“Here,” said a familiar voice quietly. “Take this.” He turned as Phoebe Green handed him a mug of tea. He raised an interrogative eyebrow and she gestured to a woman dressed in a coat obviously pulled on in haste over her nightgown and a pair of wellingtons who was carrying a tray of hot drinks round to the support staff. “Farm up that track…..Eastcourt Farm. That’s the wife. She was the one who first phoned it in.”

“She’s dead, Phoebe. All of them are dead.” The minivan had careered off the road and straight into a small electricity substation, then burst into flames. Eighteen six-formers and their teachers, returning from a performance of ‘The Tempest’ in Stratford, they’d somehow got lost among the dark lanes and ended up here instead of all being safely home in bed hours before. What a waste. He was utterly drained.

Phoebe nodded, a bleak expression on her face. “Come on, Mulder, there’s nothing else we can do here.”

They had been at the scene for nearly two hours, among the first to arrive. The first intimation that something was wrong was when the power in the house failed and everything was plunged into darkness and silence. Pulling out of Mulder’s arms, Phoebe had drawn back her bedroom curtains so they they could both see clearly the glow of the fire in the nearby sky..

Moving swiftly into professional mode, Phoebe had summed all temergency services, by which time the back-up generators in the house had kicked in. By the time they had roused the Ambassador and Mrs Matheson they could hear the sirens in the distance.

“I have to go and check it out Mulder. It could be a terrorist incident directed at Richard, or even a decoy to leave us exposed here so I’ve got back-up units coming – once they arrive, I’m going to the scene. Are you coming…..?” The sirens were much closer now.

When Phoebe and Mulder pulled up in her little Morgan – well-known to the local constabulary, so there was no problem getting through – only a couple of police cars and arrived. The wrecked vehicle smoldering, and there was no sign of life from inside. But one of the policemen, waist deep in a muddy ditch, cradled a young girl in his arms. She had been thrown out of the back of the van as it crashed.

She was conscious, but barely so. The officer places her gently down on the grass and another man ran up with a blanket. More sirens could be heard approaching. Phoebe an Mulder went over. The injuries to the girl’s lower torso were horrific – what wasn’t crushed was burnt. Mulder knelt down, dipped his handkerchief in the brackish water of the ditch and wiped her face. She opened her cloudy eyes, and squinted at him. “It hurts,” and Mulder had felt utterly helpless.

With surprising strength she had reached out and grabbed his arm. “There was this light….it was so bright…..and the noise……” She looked to be about sixteen. Her eyes closed and her breathing became even more shallow. Phoebe was yelling into her cellphone for the ambulance to be quick. Mulder had continued to bathe her face with the water, but he had known that it was too late to do anything for her.

Pulling himself back to the present, he realized that Phoebe was speaking to him. “Come on, Mulder. She touched his hand, lightly. “Time we were getting back. There’s nothing more for us here. It’s an RTA. I have to go back and stand down the guards at the Manor. “.

Mulder took his empty mug back to the farmer’s wife, a small, sturdy woman..

“They say it was kids?” At his sad nod, she continued. “I knew summmat like this ‘ud ‘appen when I looked out the winder and saw them ‘helicopters. There ought be a law.” She placed his mug on the tray and turned to go.

“Excuse me……what did you say?” Mulder senses pricked.

“It’s always the bleedin’ same. Them helicopters – night maneuvers they call it. Night-bloody-mare if you arst me. Woke me up they did – make the whole bloody building shake. An it’s the same thing every month or so. I’m only surprised there’s not been an accident before. And when you phone up Yeovilton to complain, they just say ‘We’ve made a note of your comments, madam, but this information is classified. I’d bleeding classify them if I could get my hands on ‘em, I tell you. Scaring our cattle – we had five aborters arfter the last jaunt. Still, we got the compensation in the end – though my husband said it weren’t really enough.”

“So – these helicopters – why do they cause so much problem?”

The woman pulled her coat closer arund her with her free hand. Mulder realised that a heavy drizzle had set in, and he was getting wet and chilled. “Well, see they fly so low, and you can’t see ‘em at first, just hear the noise and feel the vibration. Then suddenly, on comes them powerful lights and you still can’t see nothing if they’re flying at you ‘cos you’re blinded – and then the vibration, as I said, it makes everything shake. Got knocked to my feet once by it.”

“And where do they fly from?”

“Told you, no-one knows. Could be Yeovilton – you know, the Fleet Air Base. Rumour is they’ve got all kinds of stuff there they don’t want no-one to know about. Then there supposed to be some other Yank place over west. You’re a Yank.” she stated, then continued, “Them as came to pay us for them dead calves, they was yanks, but they never said where they came from.”

Mulder beckoned Phoebe Green from where she was talking to one of her officers. “Can you get someone over to take a statement?” Phoebe shrugged, and Mulder pulled her aside, and spoke quietly. “Look, I think you should, but this may be important for Mrs Matheson’s case, so you wan to make sure it’s someone discreet. Get them out here in the morning, and I’ll give you a list of questions.”.

“You think you’re on to something?”

“I think I know what made the Range Rover crash, yes – but that raises as many questions as it answers.”

By the time they’d got back to Holbrook Manor dawn was breaking., and Fox Mulder was so drained from the events of the night that he crashed out on the sofa in the library. <I must phone and leave a message for Scully…………> His eyes closed, and he was asleep.

He awoke to the aroma of coffee, and Phoebe shaking his arm. “Agent Scully called.” She grinned wickedly at him. “She sounded a bit -under the weather!”

“Phoebe….“His voice held a warning note. and he shrugged her arm off him.

“Sorry!” She smiled a little ruefully. “I’ll try and be good, Mulder. It’s just that….”

“I don’t want to hear it.”

“You’re no fun anymore, Fox Mulder,” she pretended to pout. “She wanted to know where you were. I think you’ve got some explaining to do, Mulder. And if she means as much to you as you say, you’d better start working on your story pretty damned quickly. She’ll be here within the hour. I’m off now. Enjoy eachother,” she smirked.

Mulder took at large mouthful of the coffee she had placed on the table for him, and grimaced.

“Oh and Mulder….” He looked up warily, “You look like shit!” She leaned down, kissed him quickly, and laughed, “Scully’s really getting a bargain!” and closed the door behind her.

Mulder smiled, and relaxed back against the cushions. For the first time in fourteen years he could think of Phoebe Green without a wrenching in his gut.

She had stood, the night before, laughing in his face, not bothering to deny the deception she had practised on Scully. “Oh come on, Mulder. You never used to be so boring! You must admit it was very entertaining to see a new side to the po- faced Agent Dana Scully. She needs to relax more often. You should be grateful to me – I’ll bet she was a wild woman when you got her back to your room!”

Mulder was icy calm. “Why’d you do it, Phoebe?” He stepped very close to her,so that he could feel her warm breath on his face.” She gets to you, doesn’t she? Pushes all your buttons, because she’s all the things you could be if only you hadn’t wasted all thse years on powergames and fucking everything in trousers….”

“Oh, not quite everything. Mulder. Although I wasn’t as discriminating as I should have been, perhaps. After all, I screwed you, didn’t I.”

“Screwed is right, Phoebe. And then you couldn’t let it be, you wanted to come back for another go again and again. You’re sick, do you know that?”

Now it was Phoebe’s turn to be angry. “Sick – you’re bloody right I’m sick! Of men and their double-standards! I don’t need to waste my time on reluctant lovers! Don’t you look at me like that, Fox Mulder, ” she hissed, ” Every time we ever fucked you wanted to do it! Whatever pathetic lies you might like to tell yourself now, you practically begged me to stay with you in Oxford, you came to me of your own free will in Boston.” She stepped towards him, pushing him in the chest with her hand. “We had fun, Mulder. Remember that? Two people enjoy eachother, enjoying life – having a good time together? And I never promised you any more than I gave you. Whatever hope you might have had for us – those were your own dreams.”

They were standing barely inches apart, her face almost level with his.

“I was in love with you, Phoebe. You knew that damed fine. I’ll tell you where you found your fun – playing with me – seeing just exactly how much humiliation you could heap on me…..” Fourteen years of bitterness burned through his words. ” You took me apart, piece by piece, until I didn’t know who I was any more. You didn’t want me, but you didn’t want to let your toy go, either. And then in Boston – you didn’t want me then, either, you already had your arms full. But you set out to lure me back into your bed and dammnit you nearly succeeded….”

“There was no nearly about it, Foxy.” She was angry too, and she smiled at him maliciously. ” Don’t ever fool yourself. When you opened your eyes that morning after the fire, in our hotel bedroom, it was me you wanted to be seeing, not your little partner.”

“You made me hurt her then, and now you’ve made me hurt her again….”

“Don’t be so bloody feeble, Mulder.You control your own life. You wanted me in Boston. I was there, I remember.”

“Oh, you know all the ways to make me jump. And why the hell are you playing mind-games again now?” They were both shouting. ” I’ll tell you why….. beacuse you’re a cruel, spiteful bitch who hasn’t got the first idea how it feels to really love someone.”

Phoebe’s eyes were alight, her head thrown back….“Can you feel it, Mulder? The energy between us? You’d be a fool to deny it – and you’re not a fool. Come on…” She moved up even closer to him, so close but not actually touching. “Who’s going to know. Your little Scully? Not if you don’t tell her. Come on, Mulder. Once more, for old time’s sake. You know how good I can be…. ” As she spoke her hands moved to his shirt and began pulling it from the waistband of his trousers. “Come on, Mulder, I know you want to…”

Mulder thrust her hands from his body and stepped back in disgust. “This is a waste of time…… I was wrong. You’re not sick, Phoebe.” And he turned to leave. “You’re just a cold- hearted bitch. I truly believe that you’re incapable of deep feelings. I should feel sorry for you really, because you can’t cut it as a human being. The only satisfaction you seem to get is in wrecking other people’s lives – and you’re beautiful and clever enough to have gotten away with it for half your lifetime. But you’re losing your touch with these unsubtle gropings. ” His words dripped with contempt. “It won’t work with me any more. Go and find some other poor sucker and wreck his life.One day – I can only hope that one day it’ll happen to you…… you’ll love someone. And if there’s any justice, they’ll treat you like shit”

Phoebe paled at his words. “Don’t say that, Mulder…..”

And he swore to God that her eyes grew moist

“Oh come on,” he jeered, “Another stunning performance!”

“It’s happened. What a joke!” She gave a short, bitter laugh. ” Phoebe Green. mistress of mind-fuck, finally fallen in love.” She sat heavily down on the edge of her bed.

“Jesus, don’t you ever give it up. I’m not going to sleep with you, whatever games you choose to play tonight. I don’t even like you any more..”

But she continued as if he hadn’t heard . “Mulder I hate it. I hate feeling so – vulnerable. How can you live like this? ” She looked up at him and the lost look on her face wormed its way though his anger. “When your happiness depends on someone else – what they do, what they think about you? When you day can be made or broken by a smile or a harsh word over the breakfast table.” She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Mulder. I’m sorry if I hurt you in the past, I was young and cruel. Please – can we talk?”

“You think that makes it all okay?” He was incredulous. “Phoebe says she’s sorry, so that’s alright then!”

She held out her hand to him.. “Please,” she repeated. ” Talk to me . Properly. I …I think it might help us both.” There was a heavy silence in the room The connecion between then that had begun all those years ago when he had fallen helplessly for this fiery spirit….he could still feel it.The history between them was powerful.

“Who is he?”

“It really doesn’t matter, Mulder.”

He sat down wearily on the bed next to her, and really looked at her for the first time since they had arrived in England. She looked worn: some of her sparkle had gone.

“Sometimes I hate what I do, Mulder, but I can’t seem to stop myself. Like today, with your Scully. You’re quite right. She does push all my buttons. I envy her because she has such composure. She doesn’t seem to need anyone. – she’s entire and complete with herself.” She held up her hand as it seemed he was about to speak. “I’m sure she loves you. I don’t mean that. But I – hell,” she managed a small smile, “You’re a psychologist. You should be charging me for this…..I can’t seem to function alone. I need someone …strong… makes me feel alive to be able to make them do whatever I want. But as soon as I’ve got them – it seems like it’s not enough.”

Mulder spoke more gently. “And this man, you’re in love with, what about him? Why is this different?”

“I don’t know, Mulder. Maybe because I haven’t been able to bend him to me, yet. Maybe when I do, it’ll be just the same all over again. But I can truly say that I’ve never felt like this before. “She gave him a sad smile, and held out her hand to him.

He took it. There was nothing sexual in this touch between them. Just two people who had known eachother for a long time.

“I was really very fond of you, Mulder. I promise. But you were just too……easy.”

“Not much of a challenge?”

” I’m sorry.”

And then she said the most astonishing thing. “Can we be friends? I…I don’t have many friends.” In a burst of honesty… “It’s difficult to make friend with the women when you’re stealing their men …. And I’ve never really – liked – most of the men I’ve been with enought to want to be friends after – you know……” Her voice tailed off.

An old story flashed into Mulder’s mind. “I don’t know, Phoebe.” After all these years he was finally realising that Phoebe Green’s behaviour not only ruined the lives of those she crossed but was utterly self-destructive too. But he surely didn’t want to be the frog for her scorpion. ” I’m sorry, but I’m not sure you can be just friends with anyone.”

“I don’t blame you, Mulder. I’m not sure I can be either. But I’d like to give it a try. At least let’s not be enemies.”

They sat in silence for a while, in peace with eachother for the first time in fifteen years.

“Are you happy, Mulder?” she suddenly said, turning to look at him.

Was he? He had spent twenty years mourning the loss of his sister; the past ten years looking for her – it was his quest. But now that he had Dana Scully by his side on that journey….. a slow smile spread across his face. .“Scully makes me happy, Phoebe……. and she brings me peace.”

“Is that all? Is that enough? What about passion ?”

“Ah, never doubt the passion. I know all about it. I had a good teacher.” They exchanged a wry glance.

“I’m glad for you. She’s a lucky woman.”

Mulder smiled a little, and shook his head. “No, I’m the lucky one. ” He stood up. “I must go…….”

“Mulder – will you hold me for just a minute?”

“I don’t think that’s wise……” But why the hell not? If she truly didn’t mean anything to him now, except as a friend. “Why not” So he held open his arms, willingly and liberated, and Phoebe Green came to him as a supplicant for the first time.

Then all the lights went out, and through the flimsy curtains of her room, Mulder saw a strange glow in the night. “Looks like something’s on fire….”.

Holbrook Manor 10 am Sunday 26th May

Whatever Dana Scully had expcted to find when she walked into Holbrook Manor that morning, it wasn’t to find a dishevelled Fox Mulder sprawled out on the library sofa, where he had clearly been sleeping. Her hangover was currently being kept at bay by a liberal dose of Tylenol, and her emotions had been shoved savagely back down into that place inside her whre she very rarely ventured, but she felt, and was sure she looked, jaded. Her memories of the night before were pretty hazy: she recalled throwing up in the pub car-park, though, and Mulder putting her to bed.

“Mulder, you look as bad as I feel, ” she commented drily.

“Ooh, Scully, surely not! You wound me!” He stood up lazily and padded over to her. “How you doin’?”

“I’m fine, Mulder.” She looked away.

“Oh, right.” His tone was ironic. “That is Dana Scully’s ‘fine’ as in ‘I feel like hell, and I’m really pissed off at Mulder’.” His long fingers slanted her chin up to him. “You’re not fine, Scully. Trust me, I’m trained to notice these things. You’re badly hung-over, and you’re upset because when you woke up this morning I wasn’t there, and I was here. It’s okay to be not fine under those circumstances.”

She closed her eyes. “I’m sorry about last night, Mulder. I have no idea…”

“Don’t worry about it.”

His casual reply infuriated her. “Don’t worry about it! Mulder I made a complete idiot of myself in front of all those people…” <and you> she added silently. “But I swear I have no idea how it happened……”

Mulder thought about teasing her, but discarded the idea. This wasn’t the moment. And it was easy for him to be so blithe – knew what had happened last night, both to Scully and to himself. She didn’t know that her drinks had been spiked, nor did she know that Mulder hadn’t spent the night in Phoebe Green’s bed. “Come here,” he ordered.

“We have to talk first…”

“No, we have to do this first…….” Cupping both hands round her face, he angled her head up, then bent down and brushed his mouth against hers. “Good mornin’, Dana.” He did it again, and this time he felt her slight smile as their mouths moved lightly together.

“Morning, Mulder. I missed you.” She snaked her arms round him and buried her head in his shirt. “I feel like shit.”

“I know. We’ll get you some coffee.”

“I’m angry with you because….you weren’t there this morning and you didn’t even let me know where you were. I hate that, Mulder, you know I hate that,” she muttered into his chest.

His arms tightened around her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t expect to be gone so long. I had to see Phoebe.” He felt Dana try to pull away, but held her just as tightly. “She was messing with your head last night – and she spiked your drinks.” This time he did allow her to pull back.


“Maybe you should ask her.. I know she’s sorry, and she wants to tell you so. She’s envious of you, Dana.”

“Yeah, right, Mulder. As if.” <I have to ask this…I have to know.> “Is there anything you need to tell me about what happened here last night, Mulder.” It was so hard to ask.

“No. Nothing that would hurt you. Phoebe and I had a long…..discussion.” He smiled his heart-breaking smile at her. “You can imagine it was a little heated to begin with.” Taking her hnd, he led her to the sofa, and sat her down. “But we sorted out some stuff between us…..”

She shivered in relief, and all of a sudden, her headache didn’t seem so bad. “So what kept you?”

“We’ve got a new lead, Scully.”

“On the case?” She gave him the Look. “While you were here with Phoebe last night you found a new lead?”

“Okay.” They were Scully and Mulder again. “How’s this for a plan…”

Suddenly there was a flurry of activity out in the hall, and the door was flung open.

“Agent Scully…” Matheson’s tone was urgent. “My wife has collapsed . We need your help…”

The waiting-room for the intensive care unit at Yeovil Ditrict Hospital consisted of a long corridor without windows, painted a muted yellow, with low vinyl seats and a collection of the usual old magazines. Scully has accompanied Annelise Matheson in the ambulance at her husband’s request. He had followed in an Embassy car after making arrangements for the care of his son. Mulder had wanted to come too, but Scully had convinced him that the most useful thing that he could do was go home, freshen up, and see what Washington had come up with overnight.

Matheson had just been called into the unit to see his wife and hear the doctors’ verdicts, and Scully was waiting outside alone. She knew what they were going to tell him, had known since the moment when she had pulled back the unconscious woman’s eyelids and seen the extreme retinal hemorrhages – and all the other observations she had subconsciously been making over the last four days had clicked into place.. It was probably too late already.

She had done her best at the hospital to make sure they understood the urgency, but the doctors here were not minded to listen to an American FBI agent who also happened to be a pathologist.

“She needs an immediate blood transfusion to stabilize her Hb levels……check her esinophils….” But the woman had been stretchered through the double doors and Scully kept outside, and she had no idea what, if anything, they were doing in there.

Should she have recognized it earlier? Had she been so consumed with her own problems that she had missed the significance of those vitals signs and because of that this woman was going to die? Dana Scully was not prone to irrational guilt, but she was tired, headachy and emotionally exhausted, and the temptation to wallow in it was strong.

<This won’t do anyone any good> she admonished herself. She listed the symptoms in her head: fatigue, headache, pallor – yes she had observed these in Annelise Matheson – but hell, they applied to Dana herself today too, and most people at some point. The fainting she hadn’t done before today. The hemorrhages in the eyes – she had only seen them this morning – had they been there on Friday? She hadn’t been looking. Palpitations? The woman’s hands had shaken a little as she held her newspaper – but Scully had put it down to the situation, the stress of what had happened to her, and the fact that Annelise Matheson herself didn’t understand what was going on. Confusion – sure, she seemed confused. By the situation Scully had assumed.

And then there was the incredible coincidence – <yeah, sure – coincidence > she could just picture Mulder’s expression if she called it that – of coming across two cases of aplastic anaemia – for that was what she was sure it was – in the space of a few days. Aplastic anemia which can be brought on by a massive irradiation. Which causes end-organ damage if not diagnosed and treatment commenced within six weeks of the incident. And a massive dose of radiation appeared to be what her son Jonathan had received – only in his case it had achieved a beneficial effect.

Scully forced her mind to follow the logical train of thought. If you started from the assumption that what Mrs Matheson described – being caught in a bright beam of light such that her body looked like an x-ray plate – if you proceeded from that fantastical assumption, then you could logically say that the beam of light comprised some kind of massive dose of radiation . They had both been subjected to it. It had effectively destroyed the productive capabilities of the bone-marrow in both of them. But in Jonathan’s case this had been a good thing, something that needed to be done anyway, and he had been in hospital, monitored and ministered to since, with the best medical care in the world to make sure that his situation remained stable.

Whereas for Annelise Matheson the effect was extreme damage to her organs, hyperesinophilia, and eventually potentially fatal heart failure, because nobody had any idea that she was suffering from anything other than stress. Nobody had believed her. No blood tests had been done at the hospital six weeks before, when these anomalies might have shown up.

And what about that other little girl in the hospital in London, George Hedley’s daughter, whose symptoms had arisen after her road accident…had she been irradiated too? And by whom? And the ‘spacemen’ in white suits Annelise Matheson had claimed to have seen after her accident. Men with what sounded like radiation counters.Maybe she was wrong about the whole thing…….Scully stood up, as Richard Matheson pushed open the doors from the ICU looking bleak.

“How is she, sir.” Whatever contempt she felt for this man’s behaviour, he was suffering with his child and now his wife.

“Not good Agent Scully. They’re talking about blood transfusions and blood counts….but she seems to be weakening. She’s having trouble with her heart now, too.”

Scully winced to hear it. “Do you want me to stay, sir? Is there anyone you’d like me to call?”

The man shook his head. “There’s nothing either of us can do. If she makes it through the next couple of hours they’ll be airlifting her to St Thomas’s in London . I’ll go with her of course.”

She left him there then, a lonely figure. “Mulder”. He answered immediately. “Can you come and get me? And I have some ideas – pretty wild ideas – that we need to share.”

Mulder’s tone was sombre. “Sure, I’ll be with you in thirty. I’ve got news this end. We’re going on a little rural adventure this afternoon.”


Sunday 26th May

“Ah… Mr Mulder, we didn’t expect you quite so soon. Please excuse us if we finish our spring-cleaning.”

The snub-nose of the gun glinted blue in the harsh brilliance of the single naked lightbulb illuminating the low-ceilinged farmhouse room. A large wooden table was strewn with papers and boxes; crates of what looked like electrical equipment were stacked to one side. Mulder had struggled viciously after being grabbed from behind until he had felt the cold metal cylinder pressed into the side of his neck. He still hadn’t seen the face of the man who had grabbed him, and who had subsequently hauled him into this room and bound his hands to the wooden chair in which he was now sitting. But the man who was holding the gun on him with such malignant intent was familiar -from where?

It was clear that very hasty packing had been taking place – in fact most of the property looked deserted, and that was what had led to the situation Mulder now found himself in.

On the drive to Maiden Beech Farm from the hospital Mulder filled Scully in on the information Langley had e-mailed him. The place was rumoured to have been a development centre for Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars technology back in the 1980’s, a piece of Anglo-American co-operation arising from Margaret Thatcher’s infatuation with the US President’s ideas for global defence. Langley had ruefully admitted to having few useful up- to-date details, except for a possible link to the development of a new type of Stealth helicopter.

Scully was surprised, on arrival at the farm, to find it so apparently dilapidated and run down. From the map they had been able to discover that the farm lands backed onto the Fleet Air Base: they had located a footpath that would take them within viewing distance of the buildings and provide them with the cover of trees. To all outward appearances, the buildings were perfectly ordinary except for an unusual cluster of antennae on the roof. There were three very large outbuildings, which, along with the house itself, totally enclosed the farm yard.

Odd in itself, Mulder mused aloud to Scully from their vantage point on the wooded valley-side. Odder still was the large size of the enclosed yard. There had been no movement at all from any of the buildings for over an hour. It had begun to drizzle, and Scully shifted next to him a little, restless.

“I’m okay, Mulder.” She had caught his glance. “Pins and needles in my foot. How long d’you think we should wait?” Although she very rarely used her gun Scully felt vulnerable without her weapon. She was quite content to wait until Mulder felt ready to move in for a closer look, and settled herself more comfortably back against a tree-trunk.

Dropping the binoculars back around his neck, Mulder turned to her. “I think we should give it at least another hour. Look how dark it’s getting – I think we may be in for a storm.” Indeed the rain was heavier, and the sky to the west ominously grey.

“Great,” Scully muttered. “Why is it, Mulder, that a little trip to the woods with you always involves me getting soaked to the skin.” Still, at least she was dressed for it. She smiled, and nudged Mulder gently with her elbow. “Thanks.”

“What for?” Mulder looked confused.

“I ragged on you for bringing these clothes for me…” She gestured to her brown jeans and hiking boots….”…but I’m really very grateful.” He could be so considerate at times. And yet at other times he was the most obtuse man she had ever met.

He gave her a sly smile. “Hey, you know I only did it so I could watch you getting changed out of that suit and all in the back of the car.”

“Mul..der! You promised me you wouldn’t turn round!” She couldn’t pretend to be angry, really.

“Moi…break a promise, Agent Scully! I didn’t….but what do you think rear-view mirrors are for. Very entertaining, too. Ever thought of taking up a circus career?” He gave her his best leer.

“Shut up, Mulder.” Impulsively she leaned in close to him, snaked out her hand and pinched him hard on the inside of his thigh.

“Ow…shit!” He hissed loudly, and then saw in amazement that she was blushing.

<Why did I do that….I can’t believe I did that!> Her fingers still burned from the contact and she dipped her head forward so that a curtain of hair would hide her embarrassment from Mulder. Suddenly she felt his arm round her shoulder, pulling her in close.

“I think,” he whispered in her ear, “I think, in the interests of preserving body heat we should huddle together.”

“Is that right?”

“It’s what they taught me in Boy Scout camp!”

“Don’t you think it might me a bit – distracting?” <Damned is for me> Scully was suddenly very hot.

Mulder sighed gently, and let her go. “You may be right, Agent Scully.”

“It was a very tempting offer, Agent Mulder, which I appreciate. May I take a rain-check?” She gave him a glowing smile, and they relaxed back together. “You know, this…” she gestured to the two of them leaning together…“This is going to take some working out.”

“I know.” Mulder was serious now. “We need to talk about it. But until we can…”


“I promise to keep my hands to myself while we’re on a stakeout as long as…….” and he leaned in and pinched her back in exactly the same place…“You promise to do the same.”

“The pain is the pleasure, Mulder!” Scully gave him an arch look, as they settled back to their vigil. She was not going to give him the pleasure of watching her rub her thigh. It’d only start him off again……<behave yourself, Dana!>

The farmhouse below was still quiet. Nothing moved in any of the surrounding fields. High above them came the faint whine of an aircraft fading away, and then there was silence apart from the pittering of the rain on their canopy of leaves.

“Scully, there’s something I’ve been wanting to say to you for a long time.” Mulder continued to stare down into the valley as he spoke.

Dana’s chest felt suddenly tight: he sounded so serious. But she wasn’t afraid of what he was going to say, not any more. Not after yesterday. She loved him too. “What is it, Mulder?”. She didn’t look at him either. Perhaps that would make it easier for him to say it. She knew that he loved her, but that he was finally going to say those words to her…….

“I never really told you how sorry I was about your dog. About Queequeg.”

“Queequeg?” Her voice came out squeaky. She took a deep breath and laughed a little shakily. “Queequeg”. She certainly couldn’t look at him now.

“I feel like it was my fault, Scully…..and I….hell, I wanted so much to hold you tight and try and make it better when we were stuck on that god-damned rock, but you were so angry with me, and the things you were saying to me were hard for me to hear.” Suddenly Mulder’s warm hand closed round hers.

“It wasn’t your fault, Mulder. You just feel guilty because you didn’t like him.” She squeezed his hand back. It wasn’t his fault either that he hadn’t said what she wanted to hear. And he was being really sweet, apologizing. If only he would shut up, and give her time to pull herself together again.

“I feel bad, Scully, because I wasn’t there for you. You’ve always been there for me…even when I didn’t deserve it. When I ditched you to jump on that train.”

“When you ditched me to go to Alaska, and ran off to Hong Kong without me.”

“When I dragged you up to that logging camp and then gave away our last supply of fuel.”

“Even when you went running off after Bambi Berenbaum. Even when I had to shoot you….” Scully was regaining her composure now.

“Especially when you had to shoot me. But you know what they say, Scully?”

“What… always shoot the one you love?” <Hell, I didn’t mean to say that!> She tried to withdraw her hand, but he held it tight.

” ‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry.’”

She did turn and look at him now, her eyes wide and dark. “I hated that movie, Mulder. And I always thought that line was crap. Or maybe I’ve never understood what it really meant. If you hurt someone you…care about, surely you should want to say sorry to them more than anyone else? Because they matter more?”

He held her gaze, and they were talking about far more than an old film. “Of course you should. But even if you can’t you’ll still be forgiven. Because you know that the other person loves you enough to understand why you’re such an insensitive, preoccupied ass sometimes, and to forgive you even when you can’t say you’re sorry. Or when you say you’re sorry weeks too late.”

She whispered, half to herself, “Sometimes it’s just nice to hear the words.” Then, “What’s brought all this on now, Mulder?”

“Being here like this in the wet and cold and dark. You look the same…”

Scully looked down at the dark blue jacket and jeans. Hell, he was right – it was even the same brown buttoned vest.

“You called me ‘Ahab’. That hurt, Scully. I don’t want to drag you down. But Starbuck dies……”

“Hush, Mulder.” Scully had no idea that her words had made such an impact on him. She reached up and pressed her fingers to his lips as he started to speak again.“Hush. I called my father ‘Ahab’, too.”

“I don’t want to be your father, Scully..” He leaned towards her until his forehead was resting on hers.

“I don’t want you to be. But you’re so like him in many ways. You both have honour. And a …a noble spirit, and integrity. You do what you think is right even if no-one else can understand it, even if I can’t understand it. And I love you for it, just like I loved my father, even though you frustrate the hell out of me sometimes. I’ll willingly be your Starbuck, even if I’ve never seen the white whale, because I trust you.”

There was silence between them, and Scully shivered. It was cold and damp and….had she said much too much?

“Dana Scully, have I told you today that I love you?”

She closed her eyes. “Mulder. You’ve never told me that you love me.”

He shook his head a little, and raised his eyebrows. “But you knew…..didn’t you?”

She turned to look at him. “It’s so nice to hear the words, sometimes.” Her smile was small .“Thank you,” she said simply.

“You’re welcome.” He opened his arms to her, and they hugged briefly. “Back to work, Agent Scully.” He kissed her softly on the nose. “You’re cold. We’ve been here long enough. If there’s someone in there, we’re obviously not going to be able to see them from here. If the place is as deserted as it looks, we might as well go down. And this gloom’ll make it more difficult for anyone to spot us.”

“Lead on Macduff.”

“Wrong country, Scully. You’re out by about four hundred miles….”

“Ha ha!”

Quietly and cautiously they made their way down through the undergrowth towards the farmhouse. It was so dark it could almost have been dusk except for the yellowish tinge to the greyness. Moving around the outer walls of the buildings, they had been unable to see anything through the small windows: they had all been blocked from within. But the property still seemed completely deserted: not a sound from anywhere in the vicinity.

Scully tugged at Mulder’s arm and pointed to a small brick passageway. Moving together they found this led through to the central quadrangle. “This place is huge, Mulder,” Scully hissed in his ear. “What goes on here?”

On one side of the yard was the low farmhouse: the three other sides were bounded by huge barns. All of these vast structures had large steel doors: two of them were tight shut, but to the right of where the agents stood the steel door was slightly open, and they edged around to look inside.

But it was too dark to make out very much……and before their eyes had time to adjust the air was filled with vibration and a high-pitched hummm that made Scully’s ears ache as she clapped her hands to the side of her head to try and shut out the pain. Suddenly the yard was raked by a bright light, catching Mulder in its glare as he tried to flatten himself back against the wall. Shielding his eyes with his arm he realized he couldn’t see Scully, couldn’t see anything, as the vibrations grew stronger and stronger and the whole fabric of the structures seemed to shake.

<Think…think> Mulder edged his way along the wall back towards the narrow passageway. He still couldn’t see much the light was so blinding, but he could hear voices and footsteps clattering on the flagstones. <Scully, where the hell are you!>

But it was too late. He was grabbed in a bear hug as he backed into the passage-way, and the cold steel of a gun barrel shoved up under his chin. “Good timing, friend. Or not, from your point of view. Do come inside, and let’s have a look at you.”

Where the hell was Scully?

For over two hours Mulder had been left tied to the chair in the farmhouse kitchen. Throughout the period other men – not the ones who had captured him – had come in to pick up boxes and carry them outside into the courtyard. He hadn’t seen the man with the gun again, and his time was employed cursing the failure of his eidetic memory to pull a name for the guy, and trying to work some slack into the ropes coiled tightly round his hands and feet. Without success on both counts.

Surely, if they had caught Scully, they would have told him, brought her in here. Easier to keep an eye on two prisoners if they are both in the same place. On the other hand, if she had managed to escape he would have expected that by this time she would have been back with reinforcements.

It was quite dark outside now. Although the windows had been covered the backdoor swung open and shut as the crates and boxes were carried out. They were leaving in a hurry, that was for certain. He looked up as he heard the rhythmic drone of rotor blades out in the yard again. A different machine from the one which had caught him in its spotlight – that had lifted off again, shaking the building, a while before.

“Not one of our specials, Mr Mulder – but I think you know about those. ” He was back, and Mulder realized with a jolt why he had found it difficult to place him. He face was familiar, but the voice – no, to be exact, the accent – was different. Not a country yokel after all….far more refined and not even English. Clipped mid-Atlantic tones. Unplaceable. Mulder seriously doubted whether his name was Bob Flowerdew or he had a wife called Elsie.

The man pulled up a chair, and sat down opposite Mulder. “Last night’s – accident – was most unfortunate. We had hoped to have an extra few days to effect a more orderly departure.”

“Accident!” Mulder’s tone was derisive. “We both know that was no accident.”

“Let me assure you, Mr Mulder, that the persons responsible for the -ah – error of judgment that gave rise to that distressing incident will be disciplined. ” He paused, then continued smoothly, “After all, look at the inconvenience it has caused us. And you yourself – another inconvenience. As I said earlier, we really didn’t expect you just yet.”

“You can’t hope to get away with keeping me here…..there are people who know where I am…”

“Your delightful partner…yes, we know all about her. But don’t worry, we’ve nearly finished. Another couple of hours and we’ll be gone. You can all search to your hearts’ content then. But until your friends come..” the man known as Bob stood up…. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to put you downstairs. Now, I sincerely hope you’re not going to be troublesome, Mr Mulder, because I have special instructions not to damage you.” Smiling slightly, he pulled the gun from his shoulder-holster and gestured with it to one of the others to untie Mulder.

“You think you can kill with impunity – but why all this here?” Mulder recognized that struggle would be futile. His hands were unbound from the chair but then tied tightly behind his back. His feet were freed and he was pushed roughly to his feet.

His captor smiled slightly. “Haven’t you ever heard of the Special Relationship, Mr Mulder? Two countries with a mutual interest sharing research and development – what could be more friendly. And hiding in plain sight next to the airforce base, with no-one to comment much on the comings and goings – this place has been extremely useful. It really is rather unfortunate that the project has had to closed down just before coming to fruition. And I doubt if we’ll be able to find another site with so many….natural advantages.”

“It’s not just the new technology is it? That’s not why you’re here really. There’s something special about this place, some reason why you needed them to be here, in this country, in this specific site…” And Mulder knew why. It was one of those times when a leap of intuition took him to the answer: he didn’t understand how it worked himself. He just knew sometimes that he was right. Often Scully wouldn’t believe him, couldn’t follow his leap until she had worked her way painstakingly to the same place by logic and science. “The U.F.O studies. All the sightings….that’s why you came here!”

“Very clever, Mr Mulder.” The man beamed at him like a teacher at a star pupil. “They said you were good – oh, yes,” he nodded, “Your reputation is known to us. Now..” He bent down, and with one hand grabbed a metal ring embedded in the floor, pulling up a trapdoor hatch. “Down here, please. I’m afraid it may be a little cold and dark.”

Mulder felt a sharp shove in the small of his back and he moved forward somewhat unsteadily and looked down the hatch. Stone steps led down to a bare room, illuminated only by the light filtering down from the room they stood in.

“Why kill them?” Another shove, and Mulder moved down the first of the stone steps.

“What we do in concomitant with the threat. The lives of a few unfortunate individuals cannot be allowed to outweigh the greater good for our countries. And see what happens when we get sentimental, Mr Mulder, and let people live – like Annelise Matheson. Now, if it had been up to me, we’d have dealt with her the same as all the rest.” His voice was chilly suddenly.

“Well, you’ve killed her anyway. She’s dying in hospital.”

They were by now near the bottom of the cellar steps, and the other man who had accompanied them lit up the room with his powerful torch. ” Ah, Mr Mulder, now that really was nothing to do with us.”

“Why are you telling me this?” In the corner of the cellar was a mattress and blanket.

“See, we don’t want you to be uncomfortable while you wait. I hope for your sake your friends search thoroughly, otherwise you might have quite a long wait.” The man pushed Mulder to sit on the mattress with the barrel of his gun. “Why am I telling you this? You’ve found us..why not? And it’s over. We’ve finished here, unfortunately, and you’ll never be able to prove anything.” He smiled. “Your tenacity is well known to us, Mr Mulder – and we wouldn’t want you to waste any more of the taxpayer’s dollars trying to figure this all out!”

The torch was snapped off, and the two men retreated up the steps. The trapdoor thudded shut and it was completely dark. Mulder heard the scraping of bolts being thrown as any hope of being able to escape from this place vanished.

<Good job I’m not claustrophobic.> Very faintly he heard the noise of a helicopter lifting off – not, as ‘Bob’ had said – one of their specials, but bigger than an ordinary one. Some kind of military transport? Something big enough to put all those crates in? He settled back on the mattress. There really was nothing to do until Scully arrived with the backup. Then they’d tear this place apart.

It was very cold. But Mulder was very tired indeed. He hadn’t slept properly for days, so it was that very soon he fell into a fitful slumber, to be startled awake hours later by the scraping back of the bolts and light flooding in to the cellar.

“He’s in here,” shouted a familiar female voice. “Mulder, are you all right?”

He stumbled to his feet, blinking. The cellar was full of figures. Someone untied his hands and put a blanket round his shoulders. He was led up the steps and out into the farmhouse kitchen.

“Where’s Scully?” He looked around.

Phoebe Green looked back at him. “Scully? We assumed she was with you. No-one’s seen her since this morning!”

Leg muscles screaming with cramp, Dana Scully crouched motionless behind a wooden crate. In the darkness of her hiding-place she could not read her watch, but time had stretched out since she had stumbled into the barn barely seconds before the blinding flare of light had trapped Mulder in it’s glare.

She had crawled behind a stack of boxes, scarcely able to think because of the searing pain in her head – and then the agonising vibrations stopped and she could pick out the sound of footfalls and voices shouting from the yard outside. The blackness inside the building was intensified by the dazzle outside….but suddenly that snapped off, too, and Scully’s eyes began to adjust to the greyness.

In the centre of the structure, occupying more than half the area, was a large military transport helicopter of the kind Scully recognised as a Chinook-clone. But not quite like any she had seen before – much more sophisticated, streamlined. And black. Wooden crates and boxes of various sizes were stacked around the vehicle: most of them appeared to be sealed, but others were open, and Scully had carefully and quietly worked herself round the perimeter to settle down behind one of these. <Where the hell was Mulder?> Scully had been unable to distinguish his voice among the confusion outside, and it had become obvious very rapidly that he had not followed her inside the barn. At first she had hoped that he had managed to slip back the way they had come but as time passed with no sign of …well, anyone, she could not stop the worry that crept to the edges of her thoughts. Had he been taken?

It was clear that these people, whoever they were, were well- organised and well-funded. Specially modified Chinook transports don’t come cheap.Scully watched as a succession of khaki-clad men loaded boxes into the helicopter in front of her. For a long time they carried in crates and what looked like peices of electronic equipment which had obviously been stored elsewhere; eventually, though, to Scully’s alarm, they began to load methodically the crates stacked in the barn itself.

She had to get out of there….but there was no cover. <Shit> No sooner had one man left than another entered carrying more equipment. Very soon, her hiding place would be dismantled. <Don’t panic, G’woman>

The crate immediately in front of her was made of some kind of rough wood, slatted, so that by peering closely through the narrow gaps she could see to the interior which was half-full of folders and papers. But it certainly wasn’t big enough to hold her <Not very often I wish I were smaller>. Nevertheless, by working her fingers through she was able to snag the corner of a small sheaf of paper, and very carefully she eased it out through the slit. It was too dark to read it, and the paper crackled alarmingly when she gingerly folded it in half and tucked it inside her breast-pocket.

Scully settled back on her heels again, and considered her limited options. Another half an hour, and they would have cleared the place at this rate – and found her. <Hi, I’m Dana Scully, and I work for the FBI. We’re doing a survey here in England….> No, she didn’t think they’d be impressed. But maybe stepping forward would be better than just waiting to be discovered.

But the decision wasn’t necessary. Scully became aware of increased activity out in the yard – shouting – British and American voices – and then the unmistakeable clatter of rotor- blades as another helicopter landed in the cobbled courtyard. And suddenly her barn was empty and she had to move now – could be her only chance – where to? Not out of the door…she moved forward, committed … side-entrance, <shit>…..but the hatch to the belly of the helicopter was open and she scrambled inside just as the huge sliding doors of the barn were pulled right back.

Scully lay back against the side of the hold, breathing deeply, allowing the adrenalin rush to subside as she considered her situation. Immediate discovery had probably been averted. The rear of the craft where she found herself was big enough to stand up in. If she pressed herself tight enough up against the bulkhead someone climbing into the helicopter the regular way might not see her at a casual glance, but she could see through the window at the front of the vehicle that the boxes she had been hiding behind were now being loaded up into the second helicopter out in the yard.

Before she could be noticed she crawled back to the load area. She made a tiny space for herself, forced between two crates and settled down to await – whatever.

With only sounds to guide her, she was startled when both side doors of the helicopter were slammed shut. Scully strained to hear any more, some clue as to what was happening. She could hear a diesel engine start up – not lorries, louder. The noise came closer, settled down to an idle for a few seconds and then was revved again. She was moving! A heartbeat later, she realised this was merely the Chinook being towed out of its hiding place. She was not in the air yet.

One of the side doors had been opened and shut with a bang. From the voices, two men had climbed in and were obviously taking up their positions in the cockpit. A second before her own helicopter was started up, she was sure that she heard the other one start as well. Well, she was finally on the move and no choice but to sit it out. Without a change in the engine note, the floor of the Chinook pushed her skywards and she was in the air.

Helicopters were noisy, she knew that, but at least the ones in which she had travelled previously had not been full of cargo like this one. Crates which creaked and groaned and threatened to fall on her at any moment. Crates of different sizes. Crates containing – well, what? Now, with a bit more light and time on her hands, perhaps she could find out. The nearest revealed nothing. Pushing her hand gingerly through the narrow gap she had created forcing the lid up, she felt only cold, hard metal. Try another, she thought. Ah, success. Papers of some sort. Scully grabbed a handful and dragged them out. No one could hear her – she led the lid slam back and dared anybody to come.

After a while, Scully put the papers to one side. Reading them in the gloom of the cargo hold was nearly impossible. But these were documents that Mulder needed to see. Would see. <Oh Mulder.> After all we’ve been through, let it not end like this….her mind slipped brieflly back to their fevered coupling in the hotel. She was fiercely glad it had happened, sorry it hadn’t happened before – saddened at the things she hadn’t told him that she might now never have the chance to say. Enough, thought Scully. I am not going to sit here and wait to be found. Stretching tired and aching limbs, she eased herself out from her tiny space and looked around for a weapon, because a weapon she would surely need. Nothing. <Not cut out for this James Bond crap>

What’s that? Looks like a gun. Yes – a flare gun, a Veri pistol. Scully almost fell over the crates in her hurry to get to it. She seized the gun, balanced it in her hands to get the weight of it: an equaliser, something that she could use in the coming showdown. Loading a flare and stuffing another in her pocket, she eased herself forward to the cockpit.

It was pitch dark outside and the angle of the window glass acted like a mirror for the small cockpit. As a result, although the pilots could not see the reflection from down in the cargo bay, as Scully approached to within a few feet, they suddenly became aware that someone was there. The co-pilot made to relese his belt, stand, and shout ‘What the…‘all in one movement…

‘SIT DOWN’ Scully ordered and the shock of a woman yelling loudly in his ear forced him to do just that. “Now that I’ve got your attention – who’d you work for, and where are we going?”

The pilot regained his composure very quickly. ‘Who we are isn’t important, and there’s only one thing important about where we are going.” He paused and actually smirked at her. “You’ll be dead within a few seconds of us landing,” With that he turned to look directly into Scully’s face, challenging, mocking.

‘You’re the one that’s going to be dead,’ she replied. “Have you ever seen what one of these will do to a man?’ She lifted the flare gun into full view. Scully hadn’t either but she could guess. ‘If I fire it right here and now at the instruments, the whole cockpit will blow and kill you both. Now take me to the nearest civilian airport!’ She enunciated her words carefully.

‘You fire it and you’ll die as well.’ The pilot smiled at her.

“I know that”. She felt a faint hope. These men would always underestimate her because of her sex.

‘Do it then.’

And he meant it. The threat of death was not going to persuade them. If she pulled the trigger they would all die – she would have achieved little, and Mulder would never see the files. But…. She tugged at her lower lip with her teeth, and then smiled back.

…..If these men were willing to die then they were trained to follow orders to the letter. It was their job to get the helicopter to wherever it was going or die in the attempt. The cargo behind Scully must be very important so…blowing up the helicopter would mean the loss of all the data and equipment now piled up behind her.

‘On the other hand’ she spoke conversationally, “if I just fire into the cargo back there, you will have time to land before the whole thing goes up. You know the significance of what is on board: do you really want to lose it?’ Scully moved slightly, suggesting that she was about to wheel round and fire into the cargo area. ‘And’ she added for good measure ‘…you even run the terriblerisk of being alive to answer the questions.’

The two men looked at eachother. “Bitch…” she heard the co- pilot mutter.

‘What do you want?’ asked the pilot, in a softer tone.

Scully smiled inwardly: she had won a battle if not the war. ‘Firstly, what happened to my partner. Do you know?’

‘Is he the one we left tied up in the cellar?’

<Yes> ‘Then we go back. How long have we been flying?’

‘An hour.” Flatly. “Won’t have enough fuel…’

‘Yeah, right. There’s hours of flying time in a Chinook. Take me back. And hand over your guns.’ Scully stared straight into his face, ‘I may even let you go when we get there’.

With a last look of defiance,the pilot settled back down in his seat and brought the helicopter back around. Reluctant as he was, she was right. They didn’t dare lose this cargo if they could avoid it …and the chance would come to overpower the woman when they landed. They would still have just enough fuel to get to their original destination too. And plenty of time to prepare their story as to how a team of heavily armed men had been hiding on board. Well – maybe they had better work on that one.

They took the place apart. Every nook, every crawl space that was possibly big enough to hide Scully’s diminutive frame. The yard filled with police-cars. Men in dark suits moved purposefully through the outbuildings, clambered up into the eves, tramped through the acres of woods surrounding the farm. Nothing.

“Then we search again.” Mulder, almost swaying with exhaustion, leaned back for a moment against the barn wall where he had first been taken. “We search again”

The head of the Armed Response Unit team turned to Phoebe Green and Matheson, flanking Mulder. “She’s not here, sir. Further search’d be a waste of resources better deployed elsewhwere. We’ve put out an APB: notified the ports and airports.”

Mulder’s eyes glittered. “I said we fucking search again…” His voice was low, dangerous, as he leaned forward into the man’s space.

Phoebe stepped between them, giving Mulder a hard stare.. “Thank you, Inspector. We appreciate your efforts.” The she turned and held Mulder’s glare. “There’s nothing more we can do here…”

Mulder pushed past her and strode off back into the brilliantly- lit interior of the farmhouse. She followed to find him wildly pulling open the doors of all the kitchen units, tipping out the drawers and pulling over pots and pans in a glittering cascade on the floor..

“Mulder, Mulder…..” Phoebe came up, circled him from behind in a tight embrace so that his arms were trapped at his side. “We’ll find her, Mulder, but she’s not here. We’ll find her, though. Soon. I promise…” He was shaking, tried to shrug out of her arms, but she just held him tighter, pushed him down onto a chair, and stood behind him hands on his shoulders, thumbs digging into the tension in his neck…..

–––<Get a fucking grip, Mulder. There’s work to do. Breathe. One…two….what would Scully say if she were here…> He gave a strangled sob. <Oh God, not again, Scully, not now…>–––

From the yard came the sound of engines staring, then the whine of motors receding up the bumpy farm-track.

“D.I.Green?” The ARU Inspector poked his head round the door, studiously not noticing that his superior officer was standing pressed against the FBI agent. “We’re pulling out . The Senator asked me to tell you that he is leaving too, so….” Damn. She needed to go back with Matheson, it was so very important that she be with him right now, but Mulder looked like he was just about to fall apart. Phoebe sighed. What a time to develop sentitivity and a conscience. “Tell him five minutes, Joe. I’ll see you back in Stoke Easton. Wire Agent Scully’s description to all ports and airports – Mulder, do you have a photo of Scully?”

Moving as a man underwater, Mulder stood up and pulled out his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans. Opening it, he picked out some photos and flicked through them. One of them was of a young girl with dark hair and dancing eyes, the print curling at the edges. His sister Samantha, Phoebe guessed. There were several of Agent Scully. Mulder looked at them, frozen.

“Here.” Phoebe plucked them from his fingers and flicked through them. “Take this one”. She handed it to the Inspector who was still hovering at the door. “Fax it to the press…tell them it’s urgent. To the Times, with a personal message to Dick Frane, the editor, that I want to see it on the front page. He owes me a favour.” She handed the rest of the pictures back to Mulder as the Inspector left to deliver her messages and fax the details from his car.

“Come back with us, Mulder, you need to sleep.”

“No.” Mulder stood up. “I have to go.”

“Go where!” Phoebe’s exasperation showed in her tone of voice. “People don’t just disappear, Mulder….” Her voice died away in the intensity of his look, and she took a deep breath. “Look, I’m not really sure what the hell’s going on with you right now, Mulder. She’s not here, and there’s no point in sticking around….”

“That’s absolutely right, Phoebe.” Mulder’s voice was flat. “You don’t know what the hell’s going on here. But if Scully’s been taken again…”


“….This is the only place there’s any chance of a lead, something, anything…”

From above came a thud…thudding. The old buildings started to shudder as the noise grew louder, deafening.

“Christ! They’re coming back!”

A blinding light flared through the small kitchen window and Phoebe could see little. She felt Mulder grab at her arm, pull her out towards the yard, that light and the noise. Trying to shade her eyes she resisted, and he released her.

“Mulder…come back…” She stumbled into the open after his dark shape in time to see a huge helicopter of a design she had never seen before setting down softly in the yard. Suddenly there was silence, and the searing light emanating from the undercarriage of the machine was cut. Moving over to Matheson who was slowly climbing back out of his car, a little distance from where Mulder stood gazing intently at the craft, Phoebe caught her breath as two men in khaki flying overalls clambered down from the vehicle, ducking slightly to avoid the slowly spinning rotors.

“Put your hands behind your heads!” And holding a large gun on them, Special Agent Dana Scully followed them down onto the cobbled courtyard.

Safe, safe…..there was Mulder …and all in one piece. <He looks like shit>. Scully felt her legs trembling, and tightened her grasp on the gun. It was nearly over. She glanced across at the small group of figures. Phoebe Green – good. And Matheson – better.

“I’ve got a present for you, Senator,” she called out.

“Inspector Green, could you call for a squad car to take these men into custody. They should be charged with at least two counts of murder. And you should read them their rights. We need to do this by the book….” Scully stepped forward, gestured for the two men to move ……

“Agent Scully. Put down your weapon.”

What? Scully heard Mulder’s gasp, and her posture stiffened. Weight balanced, gun in both hands, it took Scully a couple of seconds to process what she’s heard. She raised her voice. “Sir these men have been engaged in testing this …” she gestured briefly at the helicopter with her gun…” on the civilian population here. As such there actions have been unlawful and have resulted directly in the deaths of at least two……” Christ, was the man dense or something? Did he think she was standing here for the good of her health?

“I said put down your gun, Agent Scully, and allow these men to leave.”

No way. She was not going to allow them to get away with this shit any more. Not after what they had done to her sister, to Mulder’s sister. Not after stealing three months of her life. “No Sir!”, she shouted. “I can’t do that, Sir! They’ve got important information in there – documents that will prove what agent Mulder saw in New Mexico ! That could tell us what’s in those files in West Virginia.”

“Agent Scully, you are working to me in this matter. I’m giving you a direct order. Put down your weapon.” Matheson’s voice was calm, reasonable.

“Mulder! Don’t let him do this! What ever the truth is, we’ll find out from the stuff in those packing cases. ” Scully could hear her own voice rising.

“Hold on, Scully!” Mulder moved angrily toward the Senator.

At the sound of Mulder’s voice, Scully straightened, took a firm hold on herself. “Inspector Green,” she called. “Please call for back-up. These men have committed serious crimes under your jurisdiction. They and their superiors must be held to account in a court of law.” Scully glanced round at the Englishwoman, who stood silently her eyes on Matheson’s face, her expression unreadable. God, what’s the matter with them.

“Phoebe for Christ’s sake…” Mulder pushed the woman aside and reached for the two-way radio in the car.

“Inspector Green,” Matheson gave her a nod, “will not be calling for back-up, Agent Scully, as these men you are unlawfully holding have diplomatic immunity. As such they cannot be prosecuted…”

“Bullshit!” Mulder interrupted fiercely.

“Should you persist, however, Inspector Green will have no option but to request assistance to disarm you, and report for conduct to the appropriate authorities for prosecution and disciplinary action.”

Scully laughed mockingly. “Report me? It’ll be worth it. At least I’ll know. At least Mulder will know.”

Matheson stepped forward. “I really, really – didn’t want it to come to this, Agent Scully.” He held a standard-issue Sig Sauer P226 in clear view. “You have no choice. None of us have a choice.” There was an unmistakable bitterness in his tone. “Sometimes we have to lose the battles in order to win the war. Now put the gun down, and let those gentlemen remove themselves and their helicopter.”

“Christ…you too….”

Scully heard the anguish in Mulder’s voice, and rage burned deep in her bones. But the fucking bastard held all the cards. Her mind raced through the possibilities – taking the men and the helicopter at gun point – where to? Ridiculous – completely non-viable. Even Mulder couldn’t get away with that.

“Scully. Scully, do as he says.”

She looked into Mulder’s eyes and saw her own emotions reflected there. The prick was right. This was a battle they were going to lose. But she’s get the bastard one day for doing this to Mulder. She lowered her gun arm.

“Drop the weapon, Agent Scully.”

Quite deliberately slowly, Scully unclipped the magazine from the gun and slipped the ammunition into her pocket. Then she released the weapon so that it fell onto the ground with clatter.

“Gentlemen.” Matheson addressed the two men in grey. “You may leave.”

The taller man stepped forward to retrieve the weapon…then brought it up in a swift blur to smash Scully hard on the side of her face, the force of the blow sending her spinning to the ground, hot pain crashing through her cheekbone, her head, as the world span to a dizzying, merciful dark.


Monday 27th May

Too many hospitals. Too many times like this. Usually he was the one waking in pain and sometimes shame to Scully’s tired face. But he’d had his share of watching too. He sat beside the bed, clasping her hand lightly, as she lay in a shallow sleep.

They had brought her by ambulance to the hospital in Yeovil, the same one Annelise Matheson had been taken to. She had been conscious but dazed throughout the short journey, and Mulder had refused to let her talk about what had just happened, but shushed her gently with his mouth on hers, soothing her as best he could with his touch when she became restless with pain.

Now he had time to think. Hell, he couldn’t help but think. For a moment the sense of betrayal threatened to overwhelm him. The shock of seeing Matheson – a man he had regarded as an ally – holding a gun on Scully.

Okay, not holding it on Scully, he conceded. But just holding it was enough. In the frantic moments after the attack on Scully, when Mulder squatted at her side cradling her head in his arms, with the roaring of the Chinook still ringing in his ears, he had been too preoccupied to care about the man. Then the paramedics arrived, and pulled her gently from his grasp to roll her into the stretcher, and Mulder had heard Matheson saying to them:

“Will she be all right?”

…and he had lost it. Right then. Had slammed the bigger man back into the wall with a violent push and pinned him there, hissing words with controlled venom. “You’d better pray she is all right, you bastard, or God help me……”

“If it’ll make you feel better, Fox, go ahead.”

Mulder had let him go suddenly, so that he slumped back against the brickwork. “Just tell me why. Why bring me over here for this – this charade. Don’t you understand…those were the men responsible for what happened to your wife.” He was shouting now.

“It’s over, Mulder. It doesn’t matter any more. We’re done here. Annelise is dead – she died an hour ago. I was in my car driving over here because they’d told me that you’d been found. The hospital rang my mobile and told me she was dead. And now you and Agent Scully must write your report and go home.” The older man’s voice was steady, emotionless, but Mulder saw his hands tremble. “There won’t be any more damage here.”

“But you let them go.”

“Agent Mulder,” said Matheson wearily, “You’re in no mood for this now. Come and see me tomorrow. Bring me a report that I can accept. We’ll talk about it – talk about your future – tomorrow. Agent Scully needs you now….” he had gestured to the ambulance, and Mulder had turned from him and boarded the ambulance without looking back.

Scully’s eyelids fluttered, and her leaned forward to hear her mumble, “My face hurts. Get them to give me the good stuff, Mulder.”

He gave her fingers a squeeze. “No can do. Not until the guy in the white coat comes back with the x-ray and scan results.”

They’d cleaned off most of the blood, though her hairline was still matted and sticky. The discoloration of the right side of her face was rapidly changing from livid red to purplish, and a patch of hair just above her temple had been shaved to allow the doctor to insert six neat stitches.

“You don’t look so great yourself,” Scully muttered crossly.

Oops, Mulder grinned. Caught staring again. “Hey, it suits you, Red. You should wear purple more often.”

“Bastard.” But Scully’s mouth twitched upwards a fraction.

A little later she roused again. ” My jacket, Mulder…..” It was hard for her to talk: her face was stiff. “Look in my jacket pocket.”

He looked searched the cubicle, then shrugged. “Sorry, Scully. It’s not here. The paramedics took it off you when they were fixing the monitors on you. Maybe it got left behind at the farm. I’ll ask Phoebe to find out.” He leaned over her, stroked the good side of her face.

It wasn’t a fractured skull, there wasn’t any sign of concussion, just a painful and now rapidly-swelling cracked cheekbone, the doctor was finally able to advise them. Actually, Mulder felt a bit sorry for the guy. First of all Scully had demanded a mirror to inspect the stitches, then she’d told him she had no intention of staying in hospital for the night and had written him a short list of the medications she wanted to take with her. After a brief tussle of wills – mainly, Mulder suspected, a matter of professional dignity on the part of the doctor, since the poor man looked half-dead on his feet and was probably at the end of a sixty hour shift, not to mention that the hospital could undoubtedly use the bed-space – Scully had signed a release, and they walked out into the misty darkness. It was either very late, or very very early depending on your point of view.

In the taxi back to their hotel, Scully fell asleep leaning against him – they’d finally given her the good stuff. Mulder smiled and put his arm round her shoulders. When they arrived he woke her enough to walk her up to the room, laid her down on the bed. The lovely, four poster bed with the cream linen.

Carefully he stripped off her shirt and her jeans. She helped him shrug off her T-shirt, just conscious enough to wriggle when he directed.

What the hell – after all they’d been through? He searched through the cupboard drawers until he found the nightdress – the one she had worn on the first night, when she was waiting for him like a bride for her beloved. Carnal lust is not appropriate under these circumstances he told himself sternly and not entirely successfully as he removed her bra. Christ, she looked so soft, so voluptuous. Almost involuntarily he ran his hand lightly across her breast, cupping its warm weight. Scully’s hips shifted as she sighed into his touch. She was so vulnerable, so utterly trusting. Taking a deep breath, he pulled her forward, and slid the nightdress with the utmost care over her bruised face and down onto her shoulders and arms.Then he rested her back and lifted her torso enough to slip the hem of the garment down to cover her to her ankles.

Turning the lights out, he slid into the bed next to her.

<One day we’ll be in eachother’s arms like this ….and both conscious at the same time….>

Scully woke finally in the middle of the afternoon: maybe it was the aroma of the chicken soup Mulder had ordered for her which roused her. She studied her face in the bathroom mirror to assess the damage. Pressing the flesh around the wound lightly with her fingertips she concluded that it could have been a lot worse – sore, but not unbearable. Rainbow-hued for a few days, though, she grimaced. Brushing her teeth hurt, too.

She applied enough make-up to cover the worst of the damage, more on her eyes and lips than usual to distract attention from the bruising, and went out to find Mulder sprawled on the couch, surrounded by papers, laptop humming on the coffee-table.

He looked up. “I was just coming to wake you. Lunch is served.”

“Mmmm…..chicken soup. You have some?”

“Ate a while back. Been trying to write this report.Lets get out of this place as soon as we can.” His tone was dry, and he didn’t look at her again.

Scully spooned down the watery broth. Better than nothing – maybe. At least she didn’t have to chew it. “Have you spoken to the Senator today? Did Phoebe find my jacket”

“No and yes. The jacket’s over there.”

Scully said a silent prayer as she lifted it. If only…..but the paper was gone. <Well, what did you really expect.> Oh, but it would have been something for Mulder. She took a deep breath. Okay, let’s try again. “How are we going to do this, Mulder. What are we going to put in our report….the truth? Or…”

“Right,” Mulder interrupted. “And what might that be? Come on, Scully, nobody here’s interested in ‘the truth’ – even if the two of us could agree about what it was.”

Scully laid her spoon down neatly. She knew this mood of his, depressed and bitter. It happened at the end of some of their cases, those where evidence had been snatched right out of their hands, leaving no tangible proof, nothing to substantiate Mulder’s theories. The last time it had happened they had quarreled bitterly about the train-car experiments, about the bodies in the pit which Scully had seen in Virginia – living human experiments or human/alien hybrids? They had been at odds with eachother for weeks – Scully knowing in her heart that the basis of his anger was his failure once again to keep hold of concrete evidence which he believed he had seen, but hurt at the extent to which he seemed prepared to exorcise his own demons by attacking her, and by shutting her out of his life. And then those awful cases in New England and the damned gargoyles…… she shook her head slightly. Ouch – mistake.

“Well, but for our own satisfaction, Mulder.” She stood up and caught sight of her reflection in a small mirror hanging above the ornamental fireplace. <Lord, I look like Joan Collins with all this stuff on my face!> “I’ll work on my account of what happened yesterday afternoon, and I’ll look over yours . Then we can combine them into a final draft with what you’ve already got.” She walked back through the bedroom and into the bathroom.

“You won’t like what I’ve already got, Scully”.

The sound of the water running into the basin drowned out any further comments Mulder might’ve made. Her cheek throbbed as she rubbed the foundation off the inflamed flesh, and then scrubbed at her eyes and lips. <Serves me right for being so vain.>

This time she didn’t even try to disguise the bruising, applying only the light make-up she normally wore, then went back out to join Mulder.

“Shift,” she ordered, forcing him to scoot along the couch so that she could sit next to him. <Contact is what we need here>.

Mulder glanced at her as she sat down, and then looked back, studying her more intently. “Hey Scully, that chicken soup’s worked wonders. You look much better already. You looked really rough when you first came in.”

Scully couldn’t help herself. She grinned at him even though it made her face hurt and reached out to rap the top of his head very lightly with her fist.

“What?” His look was one of genuine bemusement, and Scully grinned at him again.

“Mulder” She gave him The Look. “Stop making me laugh.”

And this time he smiled back at her, his posture more relaxed, affection shining in his eyes. “I think that bump on the head must have done more damage than we thought!” Then of his own volition her passed to her the notes he had been working on. Without thinking, she pulled her reading glasses out of their case which was lying on the coffee table, and shoved them on. “Y-ouch”

“O-oh…” Mulder mouthed in sympathy. “That bad, huh?”

“Maybe if I -” Scully gingerly lifted the spectacles off, “If I balanced them down on the end of my nose………….”

“Red, your nose is so small it’s all end. If you move them further down they’ll fall off!” Mulder snickered at his own wit.

“Oh, right. We’re insulting noses now are we.” Scully crossed her arms and sat back. “People in glass houses, Mulder….”

He leaned forward, so close to her that she could feel his warm breath tickle her as his whispered in her ear, “Hmm, but you know what they say about men’s noses and feet Agent Scully.”

“Maybe I should do some research right now, Agent Muld…..” Her voice trailed off in puzzlement as he pulled back at her words. Fighting to control a twinge of hurt and disappointment at the abrupt termination of their flirting, Scully bit her lip and picked up again his report.

“Here.” He took it from her. “I’ll read it to you. I don’t want you to strain your eyes, if you can’t wear your glasses.” And he moved back to her again so that they were touching from the shoulder down.

What was with him? Scully frowned a little as he began with a recitation of the facts which had brought them to England. Then she sighed, and relaxed against him. Such a complex man.

“…..That’s one of the main reasons they came here, Scully,” Mulder reiterated, exasperated. “That’s why such an important project was developed on foreign soil! It was an opportunity to examine at first hand and in action alien technology, and to measure up the best that we could create against them -”

“Mulder, there’s no evidence whatsoever for what you suggest.”

“What about the documents you saw in that helicopter? What about those helicopters?”

“Nothing I saw or read was proof of alien involvement. I can’t say to you that it excluded it, but I didn’t have time to look. Yes there were references to West Virginia – to the tests on me, on Duane Barry. And yes – ” Scully squeezed Mulder’s arm gently, “- I thought I saw your sister’s name in one of the documents. But it was too dark too see properly, I can’t be sure….”

“And now we’ll never have the chance to confirm it. ” The bitterness was back in Mulder’s voice. They had been arguing about the report for hours. It had grown dark outside and they were no nearer to agreement than they had been when Mulder had started.

“Mulder do you really want to hand a report to Matheson saying that the US government has been based here for the last ten years developing secret helicopter technology, using it to chase the UFO’s which according to your theory commonly buzz this part of England? And that it has systematically and quite deliberately eliminated by causing apparent accidents any citizens who might have been able to give first hand descriptions of these activities? There’s absolutely no evidence to support any of this!”

Scully’s incredulous tone made Mulder lose his temper. “Damnit, Scully, you’re going to let them get away with it again! Coming up with some so-called ‘rational’ scientific explanation! You do their work for them…..just like after that train business. You believe all their lies – anything, rather than to face the truth.”

“The truth? You think it’s the ‘truth’ that Annelise Matheson and her son had a very close encounter with a UFO, and that a US helicopter flew so close to their car that it crashed, killing the driver, and that US personnel then abducted her and her son, drugged them and then nearly a day later deposited them fifteen miles away on a hillside so that no-one would believe them about the UFO? Even those crop-circle nuts don’t believe that! They said the crop circles were poor fakes!”

“Can’t you see – ever heard of hiding in plain sight? One of them was real enough. The craft Mrs Matheson saw made it. And there wasn’t enough time that night after the incident to destroy all traces so it had to be hidden another way – by surrounding it with fakes! The project must have really thought that the shit was going to hit the fan when the helicopter radioed back the license plate of the vehicle which had been spotted in contact with the alien craft -”

“Come on, Mulder! ” Scully took a deep breath. “What about the radiation?”

“What about the scopolamine in Jonathan’s blood?” Mulder countered. “We know they use that stuff. Just like in Wisconsin.”

“Okay. I agree that Mrs Matheson and Jonathan were abducted – by those people we met yesterday. I can even accept that they dosed them up with hallucinogens and ditched them later so that no-one would ever believe what they said. They stumbled across something, Mulder – but not a UFO – government tests!”

“Christ, Scully, not again!”

“Radiation tests, just like the others in the USA. Just like those people I saw in…”

“The ones that were so conveniently gone when we went back -”

“Tests on an unsuspecting civilian population of a new radiation weapon in their secretly developed helicopter they kept stashed at that farm. All those people had been subjected to a massive dose of radiation. Jonathan Matheson was lucky that it killed his cancer – a side effect that they didn’t expect.”

“Then why bother to save Annelise Matheson and her son? If they were going to die anyway? The project leader told me they didn’t kill her, that what was happening to her was nothing to do with him.”

“Well they would say that now, wouldn’t they?” Scully shook her head. “I don’t know why they went through the charade with Matheson’s wife, Mulder. Maybe they were panicked when they first found out who they’d used as test subjects. But I can’t think of any other explanation for the radiation. And we know that the government has conducted such experiments in the past. It’s a matter of record.”

“How is it that you can believe apparently without question that the governments of the US and the UK could condone such depraved tests on their own populace, but you can’t open your mind to the idea that we are not alone?” Mulder stood up and stretched, fetched a glass of water. He moved over to look out of the window, staring into the blackness at the night sky pinpricked with stars. “I think they’re just curious, Scully.”

“Who?” Scully was confused.

“The ones who come. The aliens. They want to see how we work – so they look at us. Inside. Maybe they don’t even realize the effects what they do – the radiation they use – has on us.” He spoke quietly now. “I’ve read reports before just like Mrs Matheson’s – a woman in Puerto Rico…..”

Scully joined him to look into the dark. After a while she said softly, “I don’t find it hard to believe in human evil, Mulder. I’ve seen so much of it in these last years. I don’t need to look outside this earth for the cause of wickedness.”

Mulder looked down at her with a soft, sad half-smile. She linked her arm in his, but he didn’t relax against her.

“We’re never going to agree about this.”

“About so much, Scully.” He looked away again.

So – what were they going to do? And not just about the report to Matheson. Could they argue like this, fiercely, intellectually, passionately disagree, and yet still be lovers? They had managed to do all that and still be friends. There was no report they could both put their names to. And, hell, Matheson didn’t want the truth, whichever version it might me. His wife was dead. She wouldn’t be embarrassing him any more, Scully thought with sudden bitterness. She had liked the woman. So – if he wouldn’t concur with either version as being politically acceptable, what was the point? “I think we should tell him to shove his report.”

Now he did lean into her. “Where the sun don’t shine.”

“Would you like to tell him, or shall I, Agent Mulder?”

He turned and took her loosely in his arms, resting his chin on top of her head. “I’d like that pleasure, Agent Scully.”

<And speaking of pleasure, Agent Mulder…> Scully tilted her head to look up at him. He looked so very tired, shut off from her again. “Time for bed, Mulder.”

“O-oh, is that an invitation?”

But Scully could tell that the reply was automatic. His heart wasn’t in it. She pulled his head down and brushed his lips with hers. “It’s whatever you want it to be. But just let me hold you tonight. We’ll think about the rest ” – and they both knew she wasn’t just referring to the report – “tomorrow.”


Tuesday 28th May

Scully awoke to find herself alone next morning. The sun was streaming through the flimsy curtains, and she could hear Mulder moving about in the outer room. She closed her eyes again and sighed in frustration.

If Mulder had wanted her to waken with him in bed this morning he could have made it so. There were ways – and such a pleasant rousing it would have been. Depression settled softly like dust over her mood. They were going to go back to Washington with nothing resolved. One more experience they would dance around and skitter away from discussing. One more experience which should have brought them together, opened them up to eachother, was driving them again to silence.

Bound together in a common purpose……those words echoed in Scully’s mind and sounded half-familiar. But they were bound back- to-back: unable to escape the powerful ties which kept them together, drawing warmth and comfort from eachother’s presence, but unable to reach the intimacy that such closeness promised.

She heard Mulder enter the room, heard the faint rattle of crockery .. She lay curled up on her side, totally relaxed. The mattress shifted as Mulder sat down next to her, and then gentle fingers began stroking her hair.

“Wake up, sleepyhead.”

<Mmmm…this is nice.> Involuntarily she shifted slightly into his touch, and then his warmth leaned into her, she felt his breath on the side of her face as he trailed his lips up her cheek, ever so delicately across her bruised face, to begin lightly nipping her ear-lobe.

“Wake up, Dana.” His voice was low and soft, breath tickling her skin as he whispered so close

It was too much…too much what she wanted: instinct prevailed as she rolled onto her back grazing her face across his to find his mouth with hers. Abruptly she felt him pull back from her and her eyes flew open.

<Damn…damn, why can’t I ever get this right> She felt absurdly close to tears.

“Breakfast’s getting cold.” Mulder sat, dressed already in his jeans and T-shirt, watching her with an unreadable look in his eyes. He gestured to a tray, waiting on the bedside table.

Scully pushed herself up to a sitting position. “Breakfast in bed?” She regarded him quizzically “Do we have time for this? What time does our flight leave?”

“We have time. But there’s business to take care of this morning, and somewhere I want to show you today before we go home. So come on – sit up and eat.” He sat the tray on its little legs across her lap, then whipped off the salvers with a waiter’s flourish.

“Jesus, Mulder – if I eat all this I won’t be able to move for the rest of the day!”

“Happy to help you out….. Scoot over.” He settled on the bed, on top of the duvet and covers, sitting back against the headboard.

Eventually Scully leaned against him with a sigh. “Can’t manage another thing. And what was that ….” She prodded with her fork an odd-looking fried substance – a dark brown pattie with white lumps. “I did have a piece,” she said quickly, “but I’m curious to know what exactly it is.”

“Did you like it?”

“Mulder!” She twisted, and punched him lightly on the arm. ” No I didn’t like it, okay? Now – what was it?”

“Called ‘black pudding’, Scully.”

“Fine. Are you going to tell me more, or should I book an autopsy bay for further investigation,” she said in mock irritation

“You would have fun, Agent Scully….. Okay!” He held his hands up in surrender. “It’s an English speciality. To set the day off right. Made of pig’s blood mixed with cereal. That’s why it’s that dark rust colour. The blood. Like a sort of blood sausage.” He grinned at her, that goddamned boyish grin that made her heart flip, and her mood lifted

“Mulder,” she replied with dignity, “you are disgusting“.

Mulder eased himself off the bed, took the tray from her lap and padded over to the casement window. “Come here.” He turned and held his hand out.

An early morning haze still clung over the fields, but the sun had begun to burn it off already so that it merely clung to the stream which meandered through the small meadow. Willows arched gracefully from both banks: all was dainty, neat, lush. It was going to be a scorching day.

“It’s lovely,” she sighed, clasping his fingers lightly, pleased when he pulled her to his side. They stood together in silence for a long minute. “Too bad I haven’t had time to see a bit more.” She shrugged, and the tone of her voice was philosophical. “I guess that’s always the way for us.”

And Mulder squeezed her fingers briefly. “We’ll see what we can do today.” Then he seemed to shift gear, and spun her round, spanking her lightly on her backside. “Time to get rollin’, G’woman! I’ll start the packing.”

“Muld-er”. Scully stood in the doorway between the bathroom and the bedroom.. She was dressed in her bra and panties, a matching red silk set from Victoria’s Secret which Missy had given to her, two birthdays ago, ‘to hot up your love life, Dana.’ Mulder didn’t appear to notice. Her dripping hair fell round her face as she rubbed at it with a towel. The bruised cheek was less inflamed, even though the contusion was darker and showed up more. She had decided to try again at disguising it, though with a less heavy hand than the day before. Mulder had already finished packing his own case – he was quick and careful at the task – and hers was open and ready on the bed next to his. She regarded him thoughtfully for a moment.

“You’re looking awfully informal today, Mulder. Not that I’m complaining,” she added hastily. “, but we still have to go see Matheson.” <And say goodbye to Phoebe.>

“He’s not going to be happy with what we have to say, and quite frankly I don’t give a damn any more what he thinks of me. The good politician, Scully, will just have to take us as he finds us.”

“The trouble is, ” Scully moved over to her wardrobe, and scanned the scanty collection of clean garments, “That he’s going to have to find me in this.” She held up her red suit. “I never did get the chance to put any dry-cleaning in. I only brought one pair of jeans and they got filthy the other night. We’re going to look like the Odd Couple.” She hung the offending suit on the door. “Oh hell!”

“What?” Mulder started to lay carefully in her suitcase the remaining items from her wardrobe.

“I haven’t even got a clean top.” She stood staring into the open drawer as if she couldn’t quite believe it.

“Just wear the suit without one then.” Mulder was very matter-of- fact.

Disturbingly so. This wasn’t like him at all. Where was the leer, the smart comments – Lord knows there was an opening for them here, Scully thought sadly. It that what we’ve lost? Well, they say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. She straightened her back. “Okay.” Her voice sounded high and unnatural to her own ears.

While she finished dressing and applied her make-up – a more subtle version of the previous day’s attempt – Mulder finished packing her case. She stood examining the finished effect in the long bedroom mirror. Normally she wore this red suit with a black cotton top and without it, as she moved, the lapels of the jacket gaped revealing her bra. And what exactly would Matheson – and Lord help us Phoebe Green – make of such a display?

“I need a safety pin. Have you got a safety pin, Mulder?”

“Of course.” He knew exactly where to find one amongst his belongings. “Want any help fixing it?”

His heart didn’t sound in it, but Scully didn’t care. “Yes. Look, I’ll hold the lapels in position, and you fix the pin….no, not like that, Mulder – so you can’t see it – you’ll have to pin it from the inside…”

“Uh, wouldn’t it be easier if I held the jacket together and you -”

“No it would not,” she said, irritated. “I wouldn’t be able to see what I was doing……what are you doing Mulder?”

He had moved behind her, was leaning over her shoulder, fixing the pin from behind, his fingers warm on the exposed skin of her neck and chest, his lips pursed in concentration and eyes dark. She watched their reflections in the long mirror.

“All done!” He looked up and smiled at her in the mirror, but as his eyes drifted over her he pursed his lips. “Are those the only shoes you’ve got?”

Scully looked at her black pumps. They went fine with the black top she usually wore with this suit. “What’s wrong with them?”

“Did you bring any sandals?”

Scully crossed her arms and glared at him. “No I did not. I didn’t bring my string bikini, either. Since when did you become the fashion critic?”

“It’s just that those aren’t really suitable…oh well. Lets go and get this over with. All ready to check out?”

Scully nodded and picked up her purse and laptop. Mulder carried her suitcase as well as his own and she took his laptop. It was just one of those things he always did: Scully knew that he didn’t do it to patronize her, but because he was innately a gentleman. Whatever that meant.

She took a last look around their suite. Nothing left behind; once they had walked out of this room there would be no reminder at all of what had happened between them. Her depression deepened.

“Hey Scully, did I say that you look totally hot? You should go for that style more often…”

Her face split into her widest smile….

“…..If only Frohike could see you now!”

<Fuck Frohike> Scully slammed the door behind her <What about you, Mulder?>

“Agent Mulder…..Fox.” Matheson held out his hand .Mulder ignored the polite gesture, and Matheson continued smoothly, “I hope you’re recovered from your short stay in the hospital, Agent Scully.”

Annelise was dead, but Jonathan was getting better. It was a trade-off, and one that Richard Matheson found it hard to feel guilty about. It hadn’t been of his choosing – he was glad he hadn’t been called on the make such a choice. He felt, in fact, quite buoyant, wondered if it was some kind of delayed shock.

But everything seemed to be falling into place. The problem of Annelise was solved. He could be a dignified, bereaved candidate now, not one with a half-mad wife and a very demanding mistress. “You have a field report for me?”

“No sir.” Scully stepped forward, chin up., and Matheson thought he caught a brief flash of – what – surprise? irritation? on the male agent’s face.


Scully glowed like a jewel against the dark-paneled walls. “You would’ve had no use for the report we were going to write, sir, so there seemed little point in going to the effort of producing it for you.”

Matheson looked at her: she certainly was a formidable woman. The sight of her emerging from that helicopter holding the project pilots at gunpoint – he wouldn’t forget that in a hurry. And now standing here sexy as hell……and with that mouth, those lips …..

“I’m sure you’ll think of something – convenient – to explain it’s lack to A.D.Skinner in Washington,” she continued. “And I’m quite sure, sir, that there won’t be any difficulties for Agent Mulder or the X-Files over it’s absence, since should the details of what actually happened here become available at any time it might prove uncomfortable for some of your friends…..”

“Not my friends, Agent Scully.”

“Re-ally.” She turned to the door, and Mulder glanced at her, eyebrows raised. ” Well, you and Agent Mulder have some things to discuss. I suggest you explain that to him. Good day, sir.”

And Matheson smiled. She was the bad guy: the one with the threats. Left Mulder free to make his peace with him, if that was what he wanted. He certainly didn’t seem too happy about it now. Agent Scully had obviously taken him by surprise.

It took Mulder a couple of beats to understand what Scully was doing, why she had taken the initiative when they had decided that he was to be the one to tell Matheson what to do with his report. The two men faced eachother. The sense of betrayal which had swept over Fox Mulder when he had heard Richard Matheson order Scully to let the pilots and their information go had merged with all those other betrayals of his life into the dull ache he carried with him always. He was damned if he was going to speak first.

“I had no choice, Fox.”

Mulder shrugged, insolently, deliberately.

“It was all over, anyway. ‘They’ promised that. No more deaths.”

“And what about justice? What about the truth?”

“Don’t be so naive.” Matheson crossed to his desk, lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. “Gave it up six years ago,” he said inconsequentially. “Bad for the political image.” Then, “And do you think you know what the truth is, Agent Mulder. I doubt that, and I seriously doubt whether the American people would care to know what their government had to do in their name. I don’t like it any more than you do.”

What was the point in replying? Silence stretched out between them. Let the man justify if he could.

“After the telephone call about my wife, I received another from – shall we say a mutual acquaintance. He told me what to do about you – about the set-up at Maiden Beech, its necessity. He assured me that my co-operation in a satisfactory outcome to the situation would ensure my future success I’m sure you know what that means, Agent Mulder…….for both of us. ” Matheson stubbed out his cigarette.

“In four years’ time, I’ll be President. Then you’ll have your truth.”

Mulder turned on his heels. “If you really believe that, then you’re the one who’s naive, not me.” And with savage pleasure, he slammed shut the door behind him.

It sure hadn’t taken her long to step into Annelise Matheson’s shoes. Scully regarded Phoebe Green with a grudging admiration. Glad as she was that Mulder and the woman had come to some peace in their relationship, Scully still despised and disliked her for the pain she had occasioned him in the past. But the woman positively glowed. Just as Mulder marched out of Matheson’s study, Phoebe came into view shepherding David Matheson along the corridor.

So-o…she’s managed to snare the Ambassador. Well, at least it’ll keep her off the streets.

“Fox!” Phoebe sidled up to him knowingly, for effect, Scully was sure, giving Mulder a peck on the cheek as Richard Matheson came silently into the hall.

“Time to say goodbye – Fee.”

Scully raised an eyebrow at him, and Mulder grinned back. “She always hated being called Fee – didn’t you?” Mulder turned to Phoebe Green, .

Actually, she didn’t look as if she hated anything or anyone. The metamorphosis was astonishing. You could actually have taken her for a real human being with a heart, Scully thought cynically.

“Fox was always unfair. How could he possibly have got the idea that I was mercenary, Agent Scully?”

They were both talking through Scully, but the teasing banter between Mulder and this woman was new to Dana. Maybe it was new to Mulder, too – he actually looked as if he were enjoying it. “We’re off now, Phoebe.”

“Thought your plane wasn’t till this evening, Mulder?”

“Places to go – people to see! Wish I could say it’d been a pleasure.” Mulder moved to embrace the tall, slender woman. She held him off at arm’s length for a beat, and they looked at eachother.


“Friends.” He kissed her cheek, then released her.

Phoebe stepped forward. “Agent Scully – Dana – goodbye”…and before Scully realised what was happening, the taller woman hugged her, too. “Congratulations,” she whispered into Scully’s hair.

“And to you too,” Scully murmured, pleased to note surprise and then sly admiration on the older woman’s face as they stepped apart.

Scully glanced up at the Tor shimmering in the heat as Mulder reversed into a parking-space they had been lucky to find in Glastonbury’s busy High Street. Tuesday was market day.

“This is where it all began.”

“We’re not here for the case, Scully. I just need to pick something up.” He cut the engine. “You wait here -I won’t be long.”

Scully shook her head. It would be way too stuffy in the small car, even with the windows open.

“Not the case,” she said, as Mulder steered her across the busy little street, “The Arthurian legend. Look at all this stuff!” She pulled him to a halt outside a low-fronted shop, windows filled with crystals and books entitled ‘Avalon Revisited’ and “Ley-Lines in History”, incense-holders and pottery models of grotesque dragons and weird castles.

Mulder looked up at the purple sign above the window. “Bilbo Baggins? Ah, I didn’t realize he was one of the Knights of the Round Table,” he said. “Want to go in?” Scully shook her head, but Mulder persisted. “Since we’re here – how about buying you some sandals.”

He pulled in her to the shop. The tang of patchouli oil assailed her; the dark interior of the shop glowed with the rich colours of Anokhi print dresses, cheesecloth tops and skirts, brightly-coloured t-shirts. “No – Mulder, I…”

But he had moved to the back and didn’t hear her, gesturing to row upon row of hand-painted boots and shoes ranked along the rear wall. And indeed they were lovely. Beautifully wrought. ‘Hand Made on the premises’ said a notice.. The leather was smooth and cool under Scully’s fingers. Pastel colours, painted with stylized astrological figures, baroque suns, rainbows. She picked up a pair of thonged sandals, simpler than many of the other designs, but still unusual; red and gold threaded like marble.

“Just try them ……?” Mulder stood very close to her, almost protective, almost pleading.

This place. Scully felt a little breathless. “Okay.” She sat down, and Mulder knelt in front of her, slipped off her shoe, and slid the sandal onto her foot, lacing the leather thongs round her calves with warm fingers.

“And the other one. Is that too tight?”

She shook her head, shifting position, allowing him access to her other foot.

“Are they comfortable?” Mulder pulled her to her feet, didn’t let go of her fingers.

Scully wiggled her toes. “They seem fine.” Finally she looked up at him and smiled. “They’re fine, Mulder – I’m just not sure they go with the suit…..”

They both stood, looking at her reflection in the shop’s cheval mirror. “Okay….” He sounded as if he were considering the problem,. “Well then…..” Pulling one of the dresses from a rack he held it in front of her. “Go and try this then.”

It was blue, cornflower blue, cerulean blue even, Scully thought a little crazily, covered with little red blossoms. She really wanted to get out of this shop, away from this familiar scent, but she knew that look on Mulder’s face. And it was going to be very hot today, and she would be uncomfortable in the suit jacket even without a blouse. She looked back at the mirror again. She had really never been the flowery type.

She bit down hard on her lip. Melissa would have looked lovely in this. She had been so pretty, as well as beautiful. The same flame hair, but not straight – preRaphaelite curls. The same pale skin – but never went freckled in the sun. Slimmer, taller, vivacious. Not small and plain. Not with a too-pointed chin and a nose which didn’t fit her face. Dana Scully looked in the mirror, but it was her sister’s face she saw.

Wildly, she reached out and grabbed a cotton top from the rail. “This, I’ll take this. Is there anywhere to get changed?”

She was shown to a little cubicle with heavy drapes on three sides as walls. She stripped off her hose and laced the sandals back up again, then shrugged into the cream top. <Ah well>. It fitted snugly – more snugly than she would normally go for. Little cap sleeves. And cropped. Damn, she hadn’t noticed that when she’d snatched it off the rail.

The drapes moved. “I like it.” Mulder’s voice was husky as he stepped in. The space was very small: they stood touching, and Scully had to lean back a little to look up at him. “You have good taste, Dr Scully.”

She was mesmerised by his smoky voice, by the darkness of his eyes – all pupil now. He slid one arm round her shoulder,with his other hand traced a finger lightly across her exposed belly.

“Very good taste.”

And slowly, agonisingly slowly, he bent down and kissed her, lightly at first, and then as she responded, more passionately. She felt herself pushed firmly back against the mirrored wall, the glass cool to her heated flesh. They ground against eachother, frenzied again now, his hands roaming over her belly, down between her legs, up under the little cotton top as she lost herself in the strength, the maleness of him……

“Is everything all right in there?”

They pulled apart at the sound of the shop-owner’s voice. “Uh..mmmm…fine, thanks.” Scully’s voice was a little breathless, shaky. She looked at Mulder for a long second: he smiled lazily back at her still holding her lightly arm round one shoulder, combing his fingers through her now-tousled hair with his free hand.

<God, how can he look so cool after that….>

Mulder pulled the curtain and stepped out. “We’ll take them.”

Jayne stopped fanning herself with her book when the couple walked in. Carefully marking the place with a Dante Gabriel Rossetti bookmark she had borrowed from stock, she swivelled on her stool and watched them. Something about them set them apart from the general run of customers coming to Glastonbury Romantics.

She wanted to be a writer, prided herself on being observant. The man, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, moved over to where she was sitting behind the counter. Mmm, nice bum, quirky face – lovely eyes. The woman followed him, a little irresolutely.. “Not your usual kind of place,” she heard her mutter. The woman was stunning. Short, like herself, and slight. Burnished, copper hair like a curtain framing her face, all pale skin and blue eyes.

“May I help you?” Jayne smiled at them

“I’ve come to pick up a picture. Name’s Mulder.” Mulder – a German – no Dutch – name. But the accent was an American.

Jayne pulled out from a drawer under the counter a large notebook, and began working her way up through the last manuscript entries. “Ah, yes. Actually it came in on Saturday….you’re lucky we haven’t shipped it off to your American address already. She slipped out to the dark back room to find the picture.

She could hear the two of them murmuring as she searched through the piles of cardboard-wrapped prints of various sizes stacked up for collection or dispatch. She found the one she wanted – ‘Mulder’ written in large, black felt-pen on the brown paper wrapping. When she returned, they were standing, arms linked, grinning over a collection of old photographs framed in pastel boards.

“A little something for Frohickey, perhaps?” She couldn’t quite catch the name, but the man picked up several of the pictures and held them at arms length, pretending to study them seriously. Edwardian ladies in corsets and garters cavorted in sepia in ones and twos, draped themselves around chairs, even stood plumply wrapped in large white towels as if they had just that minute stepped out of tin baths.

The woman disentangled herself from his arm, laughing, and reached out to snatch them from him, but he was much taller than she, and held them out of her reach.

“Give him one of those and you’ll really encourage him.”. The woman crossed her arms across her chest and gave him a look.

It just made him laugh more, and he bent over, kissing her on the nose, and slipping the pictures back into the stack.

Before she was caught staring, Jayne carried the package to the counter. “Here it is! If you’d just like to check…..” She began to peel off the corrugated paper from round the picture, held it with its back to her so that the couple could see it clearly.

“Yep, that’s fine.” Mulder moved forward. “You can package it so I can carry it home?”

The woman stepped up to the picture and tapped it lightly with her fingertip,, an amused and slightly surprised expression on her face. Nope – no ring. Not on honeymoon then. “You never cease to amaze me, Mulder.” She shook her head. “I never would’ve figured her for your type.” Leaning towards him, she murmured, just in Jayne’s hearing, “If she dropped a few pounds and most of her clothes maybe-”

“My goodness!” Jayne had turned the picture round to wrap it again, catching sight of the subject matter for the first time. In a simple pale aqua wooden frame with echoing tint in the surround, the picture itself showed a young woman in a cream, draped gown and shawl. She sat on a marble bench, dark luxuriant bushes behind her, holding a spray of pale yellow blossoms from one of the plants negligently under her chin, entirely self-contained and totally engrossed in the book which was open on her lap. Her features were classical: oval face with a long chin, straight nose, full lips. Her hair, a rich rust, was parted in the centre and pulled back loosely into her nape.

She looked up at the woman, stunned. “This looks just like you!” And then to cover her confusion as the woman turned to the man with glowing eyes she said, “I wish my best friend Sally was here….she believes in reincarnations…have you ever tried past-life hypnotic regression -”

The man almost snatched the picture off the counter – “I haven’t finished wrapping it yet!” she called, but they were already half way out of the door.

She was a witch. But in her own, very special way. And he didn’t think she really knew it herself. Fox Mulder leaned into the pole and propelled the punt forward another six feet. He wanted their next time to be slow, languorous, memorable. And also, he had a plan for the day. So he had restrained himself that morning when all he really wanted to do was shove Dana Scully back down on the bed and fuck her till they both throbbed with pleasure. <Standing there in that little red suit in front of the mirror pouting and telling me to push my hands down into her cleavage> And he had nearly lost it altogether in that shop.

Now she lay at the other end of the punt, one arm over the side, fingers trailing in the water, with that cool little half-smile of hers, watching him.

“I like to see you working, Mulder.” Her voice was throaty, low.

The River Thames runs through Oxford, along the backs of the colleges and then out across the fields, down and away for thirty miles until it becomes the main artery at the heart of London. . On several occasions already the pole had got stuck and they had nearly lost it as the punt had begun to drift away. Now Mulder steered the craft as best he could towards the bank, bumping it gently and tying the rope loosely around a convenient willow which dipped its long green fingers into the water.

He moved carefully up the punt, sat down next to Scully and, leaning over her, pulled up with a flourish a bottle which had been cooling over the side in the water. Opening the small wicker hamper which the Lygon Arms had provided and discreetly loaded into the trunk of the rental car for him early that morning he produced two champagne flutes.

They had lunched in the Cotswolds, in a small village called Boughton-on-the-Water, a little place with a little stream running through the middle crossed by tiny bridges. The main street was lined with honey coloured buildings selling home-made fudge, scented candles and tourist trifles. They ate scampi-in-a-basket in a pub incongruously named the Alligator and Boy, Mulder’s speculations as to the origin of the name growing wilder and wilder as the meal progressed.

And then they had driven along undulating roads through the sunshine to Oxford.

“You’ve done this before.” Scully’s eyes were serious, questioning, although she appeared to be totally relaxed, reclining back, head turned to look at him. Mulder didn’t answer immediately, instead held the glasses out to her, and she sat up, taking them both

Unscrewing the metal frame around the neck of the bottle he popped the cork with his thumbs, and poured the wine into the two glasses, pausing for the bubbles to subside a little, then pouring again.

“Never before with the woman I love, Red.” Leaning forward, he touched his mouth lightly to hers, then took one of the glasses and saluted her. “To the future, Scully.”

And they drank the wine – cold, and dry, and tasting like strawberries on the palate – then he laid her down gently in the bottom of the punt and made slow, gentle love to her with his hands and lips.

Much later, they walked languidly along the gravelled paths behind the colleges, Scully holding onto his arm tightly, a little giggly, for she had more of the champagne than he, until he turned her into a passageway which led to a neat quadrangle.

“There.” Scully’s eyes followed his gesture up. “Those were my rooms!”

Suddenly an immense figure in academic robes flapped into view. “Fox Mulder! As I live and breathe!” and first his hand and then Scully’s were being pumped up and down in vigorous welcome. “You’ve decided to abandon a life of crime for something important I hope, Fox,” the deep voice rumbled, “such as academic research!” But the eyes were twinkling.

Mulder grinned back at the man. “Dana Scully, meet one of my old mentors, Professor Peter Sawyer. Peter, Dana’s my partner. We’ve been over here on a – consult – for the American Embassy…”

“Your partner indeed!” The large man stepped back and looked at Scully appraisingly. “In all senses of the word, clearly! Who would have thought the Eff Bee Eye would be so liberal in their thinking.” He winked at Scully, and Mulder’s laughter rang off the surrounding building. “Delighted to meet you my dear. You must let me buy you tea. Four o’clock at the Randolph. Must go now, Fox – you know how it is – Vice Chancellor’s got himself in a pickle again and called an emergency convocation. See you later!”

And he flapped off round the corner without waiting for a response, like a great black bat.

Tea at the Randolph was an Oxford tradition, according to Mulder as he assured her that they’d still have plenty of time to make their plane. Scully looked around the Fellows Lounge at the ever-so-slightly shabby armchairs and heavy dark-wood furniture, the Victorian paintings which didn’t seem quite to meld with the Art Nouveau wallpaper, and frowned a little as they waited for Professor Sawyer to arrive.

“I think I’m experiencing déjà vu, Mulder. This place seems oddly familiar.”

Mulder leaned forward. “Spooky,” he whispered narrowing his eyes at her in an attempt at a mysterious leer, making her giggle again. <Never drink in the afternoon, Dana!>

The waiter was setting down the silver teapot, and assorted crockery and a plate containing a pile of scones when Peter Sawyer arrived. He’d dispensed with the academic gown, and sat down on the sofa next to her, loosening his tie. “My God, it’s hot in here. Pour the tea, there’s a good boy, I’m absolutely gasping,” he addressed Mulder.

Scully placed one of the scones carefully onto a sideplate, and looked round the low table a little puzzled.

“Scully’s having a paranormal experience, Pete. She thinks she’s been here before!” Mulder grinned broadly at the older man, then continued to Scully, “The cream and jam’s over there -” he pointed to a tiered trolley, “- you pick what you want. Come on…”

He stood up and held out his hand to her, but Scully shook her head. The couch was very deep, she still felt a little buzzed from the champagne and the weird feeling hadn’t left her. “I trust you Mulder. Bring enough for both of us.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Mulder picked up both plates and moved over to the trolley, busying himself piling into little white pots a selection of jams, and a heap of the thick lumpy clotted cream to spread on the breadcakes.

Scully leaned back further on the sofa, and turned to the Professor, to find him watching her with speculative but kindly eyes. “He’s teasing you, you know. You’re good for him. I’ve never seen him so at ease.”

She tilted her chin up. “Teasing – how?”

“This place is familiar – yes?” In response to her nod he continued, “Have you seen the film ‘ShadowLands’?”

Of course! Scully gave herself a mental slap. “The place where C.S.Lewis met his American wife, ” she stated wryly. ” See what working with Fox Mulder for four years has brought me to!”

“Hmm.” The sounds rumbled deep in the man’s throat. “Yes – they actually filmed that scene here – thank you dear boy,” as Mulder placed on the table the confections he had selected, and then slipped out of the room.

“I’ve heard a great deal about you, my dear.”

Now Scully was surprised. She had no idea Mulder still communicated with anyone from his Oxford days. There was so much she still didn’t know about him, she reflected. She grinned at the man, hoping she didn’t look too much like a chipmunk, “All good, I hope.”

“Latterly. Although from the first, Fox was impressed by your – well, shall we say – tenacity to the tenets of science.” He leaned forward, serious now. “How is he really? I have worried about him, you know. He’s had dark times in his life. Take care of him: he’s very special.”

Oh Mulder, how is it that you can’t see what affection other people have for you. Why do you let yourself go alone into your darkness and shut us out. “I will.” She tucked her hair behind her ears, and bit into a scone thickly covered in strawberry jam and clotted cream. “He’s very special to me, too.”

And she had been only half-surprised when Mulder had reappeared to tell her that he’d taken a room for the night; they were flying out tomorrow after all… ..They had dined at the hotel, and she had come up here ahead whilst he had gone to fetch their cases.

It was dark outside: the drapes were pulled. She looked around the Balliol suite. Another four-poster bed, but not remotely like the Lygon Arms. Richly embroidered fabrics and a thick, silk canopy. The bed had been turned down, the sheets white, crisp and cool.

Then he stood in the doorway, an absurdly uncertain look on his face. “Is it okay?”

“Come here.” She held out both hands to him and they came together in a fierce hug and bruising kiss.

“Fox Mulder,” she murmured into his mouth when she’d got her breath back. “You’ve been seducing me all day long, and if you think you can get away with frustrating me any longer, I’m not half the woman I think I am……”

And she pushed him back onto the bed and turned off the light.

End of day Seven.



Wednesday 29th May 1996.

E-Mail to Fox Mulder from

Been missin’ you, bro. Place has been jumping while you’ve been gone. Mucho activity down in Arricebo – confirmed reports of a Fallen Angel. All gone quiet again now . Looks like you missed the big show.

Get in touch. The usual.


Thirteen Months Later.

Washington Post, 26th June 1997. Political sidelines.

Richard Matheson, who left the Senate after a distinguished career representing his home state of Virginia to serve as Ambassador to the United Kingdom, returns to Washington today to take up a temporary 17th Amendment appointment in Congress on the sudden death in post of his successor Senator Robert Cleveland.

Matheson, whose second wife Annelise, the mother of his two sons, died unexpectedly from leukemia a year ago in England, is expected to use this appointment to launch his bid for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency in the millennium year. Insiders state that the powerful backers who helped him secure this appointment are confident of his success at that time. No replacement as UK Ambassador has yet been named.

Matheson will be accompanied by his new wife, Phoebe (aged 36), who has already proved to be an asset to this career politician during his ambassadorial appointment. So we could be looking at an English First Lady, folks!

The End.


Just a brief note in case anyone made it this far – there really is a picture as I’ve described by Charles Edward Perugini, and I really did find it in a gallery called Glastonbury Romantics when I went there for the day to do a little research for this story 😀

And a final note added in May 1997 – the brief reference to past-life hypnotic regression in the abovementioned shop was written in July 1996 (the story was first posted in Summer 1996) – months before we had the misfortune to suffer through ‘The Field Where I Almost Puked Up At The Mawkish Sentimentality And Bad Bad Acting’.


This file has been downloaded from It contains work/s of X-Files FAN FICTION and FAN ART which are not affiliated with Ten-Thirteen or The Fox Network. No income is generated from these works. They are created with love and shared purely for the enjoyment of fans and are not to be sold in any format. The X-Files remain the property of Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen and Fox, unfortunately.

Individual stories and art remain the property of their talented creators. No copyright infringement is intended. Any copyright concerns can be addressed to



I'm getting closer to fixing everything, but there may still be temporary breakages as I'm still doing long-overduebackground stuff. Thanks for being patient.