Title: Speciosity
Authors: Mystic & eponine119

Summary: Aliens and the government are both problems to a small town in Nevada. Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully marry and have a child, but did everything happen as they remember it?

This is a tag team story that eponine119 and I came up with and carried on, even when we thought, "What the hell are we doing?" :) The X- Files and its characters belong to Chris Carter, 1013, and FOX. Have fun reading! And Please send us comments. We Love Them. :) * lyrics from "Is this a Broken Heart?" written by George deAngelis and Frances Ruffelle.

Esmeralda County, Nevada
Six Miles West of Piper Peak
Sept. 16
2:12 AM

Nothing moved on the barren land. Everything slept. The smoke from a campfire was the only smell in the cool night air that blew softly. A lone man slept in his sleeping bag next to the dead fire having a nightmare. It was typical for him to have nightmares, he'd had then since he was a small child, even going to therapy to try and figure out what they meant. But he never found out more that he already knew.

Devon Morrey was tense and full of stress from his job in Manhattan, so he had quit and come back to his home in Nevada, but found it had been destroyed by an atomic bomb test years ago. He settled into the desert nicely, two miles from a small 'country' store, which always had what he needed for a good honest price. He had a lot of money saved. Since he was a child his parents had always told him to hoard his money, save it until it was needed, don't ever buy anything unnecessary.

Right now he was more worried about having a heart attack in his sleep than anything else. Even more worried about that than a cougar attacking him during the night, or sun stroke from being out too long at his age.

At fifty-seven he was in great shape for his age. He was a blessed man, his body had always been lean, perfect, and he was able to keep it in shape easily. He could outrun anyone half his age.

A hand touched his shoulder and he jumped.

He looked around for the person that had awakened him. He saw no one, nothing, it was as deserted as it had been when he had gone to sleep. He was about to lay his head down again when a light blinded him. He opened them wide and saw above him something that could not have been there. It was the size of a large house, shaped like a giant oval, silver in color, and as bright as the sun.

He sat up and covered his eyes with his hand.

A man approached him from the ship.

But he wasn't a man.

It was some odd being that as he came closer made Devon's eyes fall closed as if being put under a trance. He fell asleep before he could feel himself being put into the ship, but awakened again to find himself on a table in a bright room. He thought he was going to die, that another atomic bomb test had been preformed and he was going to die from some nuclear waste. He tried to sit up but he found he was unable to move, he was paralyzed.

It was then that he saw the beings move towards him with their big heads and void black eyes. He gasped in shock, he hadn't believed. One raised a hand and a large metal needle was inserted into the man's neck.

Devon screamed in pain until everything blacked out.

8:05 AM

He ran into the cafe half naked, not caring what he looked like to anyone inside, just needing help desperately. He went to one of the waitresses and grabbed her arms and then let her go and looked around.

He had no idea where he was, he was disoriented and his vision was still fuzzy. everything looked like a dream and he was beginning to think it all was. Maybe he wasn't crazy and he hadn't seen what he had seen? The customers stared at him, some grabbed their children and moved them closer to them.

Devon fell to the floor clutching himself. This couldn't be happening, he thought to himself.

"I'm not crazy. This can't be happening." He repeated to himself over and over and over. The manager of the cafe went to him from behind the counter and grabbed the man. He recognized him as being one of his frequent diner customers and wondered why he was acting this way.

"Hey, what's wrong? What happened?" he asked the frightened man.

"They're here, they're coming to get me! They'll get you too! We have to get out of here! I have to get out of here! This can't be happening, they aren't real, but they're coming soon..."

He trailed as his voice left him. He mumbled things to himself. He knew it didn't happen, things like this didn't happen to Devon Morrey, he was a regular guy, with a regular life.

"Who's coming? Who are you talking about?" The manager asked the now crying man.

Through his tears and sobs everyone in the cafe could hear him chanting, "The aliens, the men, the aliens, the men..."

Sept. 17
2:23 PM

He was staring up at her with the most soulful, sad brown puppy eyes she'd ever seen. And Scully just looked back, trying her damnedest to resist, knowing it was a losing battle. Especially when he started licking her hand.

"No, don't - no -" She squirmed, trying to move her hand away. He looked up at her, confused. Giving in, she patted him on his soft brown head, stroking down the lengths of his floppy ears. This was by far the most beautiful, lovable dog Scully had ever seen.

She missed having a dog about the house, but she also knew the last thing she should do was get another one. She wasn't home enough to take care of a dog. And if she was going to get one, she should rescue one from the pound, not purchase it at Morrison's Pet Store.

He started licking her hand again.

No, Scully told herself again. Even if you got him, how would you get him home? It was at least a mile to the nearest Metro stop, even if she could take the puppy on the train. But she couldn't make herself move away. She was lonely, and she knew it.

Her cell phone rang and the puppy barked at it. "Scully," she said.

"Don't look behind you," a menacing whisper came through the phone. Scully froze, her blood starting to rush more quickly through her body. The puppy looked up at her quizzically, tilting its head at her. Then a hand closed over her shoulder. Scully jumped and screamed.

"It's me. Scully-"

She punched him. "Mulder, you - you - jerk!" she cried. Then she frowned. "What are you doing here?"

"We've got a case."

"That doesn't explain what you're doing here." She crossed her arms over her chest, suddenly conscious of her thin white T- shirt and the black leggings she wore beneath it.

"Came to look at the puppies," Mulder said with a boyish grin, roughing up the puppy's fur. "He's cute," he said, toying with the dog for a long moment, then looking back at Scully. Her hair was falling out of a loose ponytail, her long bangs curling into her eyes. Mulder grinned at her.

"Mulder, did you drive here?" she asked, with a sad look on her face, her eyes longingly on the puppy.

"No, I walked from the Metro," he said, frowning at how upset she looked. "Why?"

Scully shook her head, giving the puppy one last, absentminded pat on the head. "Nothing," she said quietly, "Let's go." She forced herself not to look back.

Flight 1174
Same Day 4
:47 PM ET

Scully looked like herself again, Mulder thought, his eyes lingering on his partner in the seat next to him. She had on her usual blue suit, her hair was neatly combed and her glasses were perched on her nose as she frowned over the case file. He kind of missed her casual look from the mall. "You know," he said and she looked up at him as though she was surprised for him to have spoken to her. "Before Queeq-" he hesitated, thinking maybe he shouldn't bring it up. Too late now, he thought. "Queequeg," he finished, "I always thought you'd be a cat person."

"Me?" Scully cried, her nose wrinkling as she gave him that 'Mulder, you're nuts' look.

"You know how there are dog people and cat people-"

"Cat people? Isn't that a horror movie?" Scully quipped.

"-and I always thought you'd be the kind who liked cats."

"I'm allergic to cats, Mulder."

"Really?" he asked, and she nodded. They fell into silence for a moment while he processed the information, before Mulder's mind kicked into overdrive. "What about that case - the one with all the cats in the sewer? You weren't allergic to them then."

"Mulder, didn't you write in your report that you believed those cats were actually manifestations of a disturbed ancient spirit?" Scully asked, peering over her glasses at him. Then she realized she was doing it, and that she was wearing her glasses, and removed them, looking down to fiddle with the frames.

"You're finally agreeing with me?" Mulder asked, more amused than surprised.

"No," she said, drawing out the word. "I can't explain why those cats didn't set me off. But I had enough of a reaction to the scratches to make up for it."

"That's true," Mulder agreed, remembering her puffy and swollen face afterwards. Her face colored slightly and he knew she was thinking of the same thing.

"You should have a dog," Scully told him. He looked at her, but she didn't explain further, drifting off into thought. A moment later she shook her head, pulling herself out of it and looking down at the file. "You think this is an alien abduction case, don't you?" she said, her gaze penetrating on his.

"This man shows all of the classic symptoms, yes," Mulder agreed, instantly businesslike, ready to defend his beliefs.

"Of being crazy!" Scully cried. "It doesn't add up, Mulder. Not to abduction, not to anything." He gave her his full attention and she continued. "Up until six months ago, Devon Morrey was one of the most successful stockbrokers on Wall Street. In a _bad_ week he pulled in ten thousand dollars. And then one day he just walked away and began living as a homeless man in the desert."

"He didn't intend to become homeless, Scully, his home had been destroyed." Mulder pointed out.

"By nuclear testing? That makes no sense, Mulder, the government doesn't just blow up houses without consulting the owners." One of his eyebrows had risen contemptuously, challenging her, spurring her on. "And then why didn't he just return to Manhattan? Why camp out in the desert on the border of a nuclear test site? This man was, at best, hallucinating from dehydration and who knows what else!"

"You're missing one important fact here, Scully," Mulder said with that smirk she found so infuriating.

"What's that?" she said and pursed her lips at him.

"Devon Morrey was abducted from an area close to Nellis Air Force Base. Not that far from area 51." Fabric whispered as Scully shifted away from him, but Mulder continued, leaning in closer to her so she couldn't pretend to ignore him. "One of the most secret government test areas as well as a UFO hotspot."

His breath was hot on her ear and Scully wished she could belt him to relieve the frustration she was feeling. Or at least control the blush that stained her face. "No way, Mulder," she whispered, shaking her head, burying her gaze back in the folder. When she glanced back at him, he was absorbed in his own reading as though he hadn't heard.

Last Chance Cafe
Esmeralda County, Nevada
5:47 PM PT

Devon Morrey had been sitting in the back booth of the cafe for more than twenty four hours. He ordered three coffees an hour, both because he needed to hold the cup in his hands, to feel something solid to bind him to reality, and so that the waitresses couldn't kick him out for loitering. His hands shook more from fear than from the caffeine. He knew if he emerged from the cafe into the desert, he would never been seen again. THEY would get him. THEY were coming back for him.

So he sat in the booth and shook, draining the cup down to the dregs, knowing Wanda Mae would be along with a refill and a kind word in about five minutes. Meantime, he had to go.

His legs, once strong enough to finish a marathon in respectable time, shook and wobbled. He barely made it to the restroom on his own. Once there, he examined his haggard appearance in the harsh fluorescent lights. Shadows were dark as bruises under his eyes and stubble stained the lower portion of his face. His greying hair had gone completely white and his eyes were haunted.

When he heard the scraping of the deadbolt on the bathroom door, he didn't turn. Instead, he raised his head up to look in the mirror. Two nondescript men in black suits met his gaze reflected in the glass and he felt the tightness in his gut, the burning tingling pain shooting down his right arm.

But it wasn't the heart attack that killed Devon Morrey. It was the sharp blade that sliced silently across his throat. One of the two men dropped the knife on the unclean, now bloodstained bathroom floor. "You talked," he said.

6:50 PM PT

After their flight landed in Dyer, Nevada Mulder and Scully got a rental car and headed out to the cafe they were supposed to meet Devon in. On the road Scully could barely keep her eyes open and focused on the road for more than minutes at a time, for that she was glad that Mulder was driving.

She hadn't gotten much sleep the night before from a thunder storm that had passed through the area. Too much noise. She wanted to sleep on the flight but ended up talking with Mulder about cats and dogs, only making her want to go to sleep more because he was frustrating her so much. She shut him up by suggesting they go out together to see 'The Truth About Cats and Dogs.' She knew he wasn't up for those sweet movies.

They hit a bump and she jerked awake.

"Be glad we're not taking the scenic route." Mulder told her. He always kept a cheerful mood and she suspected sometimes it was for her own benefit.

"How long 'till we're there?" Scully asked rubbing the bridge of her nose.

"I don't know, according to the map we should have been there already."

"Why haven't you stopped to ask for directions?"

He stayed quiet. Seldom did he stop to ask, and when he did it was because he needed to use the bathroom, or needed a caffeine high. She looked at his apologetic face and smiled looking back out the window at the mountains and the desert. She judged this was going to be a long, hot case and at some point she would end up with Mulder up in those mountains, or in that desert.

Mulder sat up attentive as he spotted the Last Chance Cafe. There was an ambulance in the front and a couple of police cars as well as a group of people huddled in the windows around it trying to get a glimpse of what was inside.

They pulled the car into a parking space and got out, quickly flashing their ID badge at the uniformed officer at the door who tried to block their passage. They went inside and were directed to the men's room of the cafe where there were even more officers.

"I wonder what happens when someone has to go?" Mulder said quietly. Scully looked up at him and sighed.

A man dressed in a light grey suit approached them. He was a little shorter than Mulder and his hair was sandy blonde, in a buzz cut style. He had crows feet at the corners of his eyes, from being in the sun too much of his life and his skin seemed to have a permenant tan. He looked to be in his mid fourties and he greeted the two of them with a warm smile and a hearty handshake.

"You must be the agents from DC?" he asked.

"I'm agent Mulder, this is agent Scully."

"Special Agent Dick Harris." He smiled wider, as if extremely proud of his name. "Hear you think this is UFO related."

"It is one of the possibilities."

"Well, this ain't. Devon was stabbed with a large knife in the back, right through the heart. Had a man slip on the blood a little while ago, so watch your step." His smile fell and he looked at them solemly.

Scully asked, "Anyone see anything?"

"Everyone saw Devon here, they say he looked crazy and he didn't want to go outside. A waitress says he had a couple dozen cups of coffee and then he went to take a leak. No one saw anyone come out of the bathroom and when a man went in he found Devon lying here, face down in the urinal with a knife in his back. We think the man, or men who did this went out the window." He pointed his finger to a window in the back and Mulder nodded in approval.

Harris continued, "Some people did say they saw two men, dressed all in black, come in here and eat a little an hour or so before Devon went to the mens room. Only reason anyone noticed them is their clothes. I mean, who runs around here in black suits?" He started to laugh when Mulder took his black jacket off.

Scully looked at Mulder and almost laughed. "Did they get a description of the two men." She asked.

Harris looked at her. "No, not really, the people that saw the two men didn't get a good look, they said it was if the two men were *trying* not to be seen. Apparently they did a good job because the only real description we got was from a woman who said they looked as if they could work for the secret service."

Mulder looked at the body, still lying face down in the urinal and then around and then back at Harris. "Can we have the body tranferred to the county morgue for an autopsy in the morning?"

"But can't you tell the cause of death from just this? I mean, it's kind of obvious."

"That's not what we're looking for." Mulder gave hima mysterious smirk and walked away from him. Scully's eyebrows creased in confusion and she looked at the body and then at Harris before turning away and waling after Mulder.

She walked out of the cafe and was greeted by a gust of wind that blew all her long bangs into her face, making her want to cut them off right then and there. But she tucked them behind her ears and looked at Mulder, who had stopped short of the car.

"Mulder, what *is* it we're looking for?"

He turned and looked at her, suprised it had taken her this long. He expected to be questioned before even reaching the exit of the cafe.

"We're looking for anything that could prove that he was abducted by beings from another world."

Same Day
9:16 PM

Seven-year-old Bobbie McPeters stepped off his porch that had been built onto the side of his trailer and stomped his feet into the dirt leaving the imprint of his size one shoe. They were new and he wanted to dirty them as soon as possible so he didn't feel like such a city boy in them. He hated the city, the city of Reno had consumed his father, making him leave Bobbie and his mother.

The city had taken away all their money, reducing them to living in a trailer. Bobbie wasn't used to that, he had lived in a large house the first four years of his life, but now he wanted nothing to do with the life that corrupted his.

He ran into the open land with a scream. His mother was sleeping, she couldn't chastize him for something she didn't know he was doing. He loved to hear the wind in his ears. His blonde hair quickly became damp with sweat from running and he swiped it from his eyes, recognizing that he needed a hair cut.

The moon shone bright and he stared at it for a while. It was hypnotizing for him. He began to count stars until he reached the last number he learned and turned back for home. As he reached the trailer he saw his mother on the porch, huddled in a corner. He ran to the trailer and next to her.

"Mom?" he asked. She didn't respond. She only shook violently. He suddenly noticed that her clothes weren't on right, they were inside out and only half on. He had read something about this, rape?

"Mom? What's s'matter? What happened?"

She didn't answer. He was confused. He couldn't have been gone for more than half an hour. He looked at his watch and it took him a few seconds before he could read the hands, it was two in the morning?

The ground rumbled and he looked behind him at the sky, which had become illuminated, but not by the moon. He went into shock as he watched the large craft speed into the darkness.

Green Moon Motel
Sept. 18
2:03 AM

Mulder couldn't sleep. He lay in the motel bed with his fingers threaded underneath his head, staring up at the stained ceiling. He'd been staring at it for so long that the stain was beginning to take on shape, and form, and meaning.

Restlessly, he turned his head and looked at the clock, touching it, tilting its glowing numbers in toward him before letting it slip through and fall face down on the table. It was going to be a long night. He sighed. They were all long nights, though, weren't they? He glanced at the TV, wondering if the talk shows had maybe given way to a late movie. He doubted it.

That was when the light coming through the window caught his eye.

He lay where he was for a moment, passively watching as the glow grew brighter and brighter. When he had to squint to combat the light, he sat up and then went to the window, brushing aside the curtains and looking out, the light now so bright that tears came to his eyes, stinging, burning.

The light was gone. Instantly. That fast. Mulder blinked, temporarily blinded as his pupils struggled to adjust. Already his heart was pounding; he knew what he'd seen. He took another glance out the window and then ran back across the motel room, grabbing his shirt and throwing it on as he emerged into the hallway and banged on the door of the room next door.

It opened and Scully glowered up at him, her hair tousled, her eyelids heavy. She hadn't even taken the time to pull on her robe over her short summer pajamas. "This better be good," she said, her voice scratchy with sleep.

He fairly bounced as he grinned and said, "I just saw a UFO."

She gave him a dark look. "Give me five minutes."

"Three," he said, excited.

She gave him another dirty look and shut the door.

Starland Trailer Concourse, Lot 7
approx. three minutes later.

"It was out here, Scully, I swear it. I know what I saw," said Mulder, none of his enthusiasm hampered by the lack evidence. "Help me look. They have to have left some kind of a sign -"

"Try over by the police cars," Scully suggested with a yawn.

Mulder gave her a startled look. She just looked back, not able to keep herself from feeling sorry for him. Here he was, hoping and praying that some little green - pardon, grey - had swooped down from Mars and dropped his sister off in the middle of nowhere in Nevada. Not going to happen, she thought, sadly. He grabbed her hand and pulled her along to where the dark sedan was parked at a hasty angle, its door thrown open, lights flashing and staining the scene with red and blue lights.

Mulder dropped her hand when they reached the trailer. Scully took the opportunity to wrap her arms around herself, freezing in the desert night, wishing he'd given her the chance to at least locate her sweatshirt to pull on over her T-shirt and baggy jeans. They both took in the site with the trained eyes of professional investigators. The screen door hanging off its hinges was a clue, as were the shattered panes of glass in the front of the trailer.

Mulder walked up the three small steps to the hanging door and peeked into the room, illuminated only by a dim candle and the dull glow of snow on the TV set. "What's going on here?" he asked, wishing he could see who the people in the room were.

A flashlight beam hit him full in the face. "Agent Mulder? What are you doing here?"

He shielded his eyes with his hand. "Agent Harris? I could ask the same of you."

"What's up?" said Scully, unable to see past Mulder's shoulder blocking the doorway, even on tiptoe.

"Dick's here." Mulder told her, then turned back to the locally assigned agent. "We saw some strange lights a few minutes ago. What's going on?"

"Trouble," Dick Harris said. "I live a couple of rows over. Couldn't sleep; I was listening to the police band scanner when the 911 call came through, so I got myself on over here. Backup should be on the way."

"Bobbie!" cried the woman on the couch suddenly. "Where's Bobbie? Bobbie!" she moaned.

"Who's Bobbie?" Mulder asked.

"LucyLee's son. He made the call; he's all right. Probably run off, scared. He'll turn up soon enough, no doubt." Harris said.

"So what is going on here?" Mulder asked for the third or fourth time.

"Rape, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Battery, B and E. We figure it's the ex-husband. Wouldn't be the first time," answered Harris.

"Find my son," LucyLee McPeters whispered. "He knows."

Scully turned away, irritated by the fact she couldn't see what was going on. She backed down the steps of the porch and put her hands on her hips, surveying the lay of the land. An ex- husband wouldn't satisfy Mulder; not unless he'd had a searchlight on the back of his pickup. She walked around to the other side of trailer, looking for anything at all.

Nothing. She kicked the dirt, frustrated, already hearing Mulder's arguments in her head. Then she felt a tug on her shirt and turned cautiously.

"I know something," the little blond boy who stood there said to her, tears glistening in his brown eyes.

"You're Bobbie," said Scully, and he ducked his head yes.

"It wasn't my dad. He wouldn't do this. It was them."

"Them?" asked Scully doubtfully.

"The ET's."

"Really?" asked Scully, trying not to sound too condescending.

"It was like in CE3K. The lights, and then I saw this big old huge ship, and the time being gone, and -"

"Slow down," said Scully, needing a moment for her brain to catch up. CE3K, she recalled, was scifi shorthand talk for Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

"It was just like in the movie," Bobbie insisted.

"Are you sure you weren't having a bad dream?" Scully asked, still seeking a rational explanation. "When did you see the movie? Last night?"

"No, not for a long time now." He frowned and his mouth puckered. "We used to watch it all the time."

"Who's we? You and your mom?"

"No, me and my older sister. Belinda. She's like, 19 now? Yeah, 19, I think. She really loved that movie, and I thought she loved me too. But I guess she loved Dad more, since she went with him when he left us."

"That must have been hard on you," said Scully, wishing Mulder was here. He was the psychologist; he would be able to tell whether this whole tale was a stress-induced fantasy of a lonely little boy whose mom had just been brutalized.

Bobbie nodded, frowning down at the dirt. "Mom said Belinda was knocked-up anyway, and it was best to be rid of 'em both, but I don't know what that means." He looked up at her. "Do you?"

Scully nodded, her chest suddenly feeling tight and her stomach ill. Bobbie's mom was right; they were better off without Mr. McPeters. She sighed. What a mess. "Can you come and talk to Mr. Harris? Do you know Mr. Harris?"

"He lives over there." Bobbie pointed.

"Well, he's like a policeman, so I want you tell him what you just told me about your dad and...and Belinda, OK?" Scully said. "Can you do that?" Bobbie nodded. "Good."

The state police pulled up moments after Agent Harris began interviewing Bobbie, and Scully pulled Mulder aside. "I think Agent Harris is right about this being the husband," she said carefully, knowing how he was going to react. "Bobbie has a terrible story to tell."

"That doesn't explain the light I saw." Mulder said stubbornly.

Scully looked at him, contemplating what to do. "You're right, Mulder," she said. "But it's been a long night, and it's going to be a long day tomorrow. We both need to get some rest."

"You go on. I'll catch up. I want to talk to Harris."

"Mulder -"

"I want to talk to Harris again," Mulder insisted, and Scully unwillingly started back to the motel.

Mulder looked all around the trailer, even locating Dick Harris's trailer, but found no sign of the agent. Bobbie was now speaking with the uniformed police officers. After a few moments, and not seeing Harris's car parked where it had been, Mulder gave in and returned to the motel himself.

4:47 AM
desert approx. three miles from the Starland Trailer Concourse

His vision was better in the dark than it was in the daylight. He sat and watched the animals and bugs move on about their business, scurrying across the sand, sometimes close enough to touch. Definitely close enough to touch.

That had been a close one, he thought, watching the dark forms, but he didn't touch. Mulder was a smart agent; a good agent. Lucky he'd been able to come up with the police scanner story so quickly, or Mulder would have turned his investigation to him. His cover went deep; deep enough to get him through the considerable scrutiny that came with working for the FBI. But he somehow had the feeling Mulder would be able to see through that cover if he looked closely enough. And he didn't want Mulder to see what he really was.

He turned his attention away from the ground for a moment, diverting it to look up at the stars that would soon be fading with the dawn. Ursa Major, Ursa Minor...he began to name the constellations to himself. A reminder of who he was and where he came from and what he was to accomplish.

One of the desert animals came too close, brushing against him and then not knowing how to react to the unfamiliar touch and smell. No matter, as Dick Harris grabbed it, wrang its neck, and devoured it. Whole. And turned and started for home.

Esmeralda County Coroner's Autopsy Bay A
Same Day
8:15 AM

Scully was going to have to sock Mulder. She knew it. It was only a matter of time. She was going to have to punch him and render him unconscious and probably lock his limp body in the storage closet to keep him from hovering and looking over her shoulder. She'd already sent him out for coffee and he hadn't stayed gone for very long.

"Don't you have something else to do?" she demanded.

"I didn't say anything!" he cried in self-defense, but he backed off slightly.

Scully clicked on the recorder, trying to slow her breaths to calm herself so she could focus on her work. "Subject was killed in a violent fashion. There are at least three apparent knife wounds visible on his body. The state police were kind enough to remove the weapon that was lodged in his heart for further forensic study, but the shallow depth of saturation of the internal tissues indicate the subject was already clinically deceased before this wound was inflicted."




"Apparently the subject's death was the direct result of having his throat slit. The larynx was severely damaged and the main artery was completely severed-"

"Scully, what's the name of that artery?"

"Shut up, Mulder."

"That's what I thought."


"You can't remember it, either, can you."

"Shut up, Mulder....In addition, there is a third wound on the back of the subject's neck, a shallow slit affecting only the upper layers of the epidermis in the area of the cervical vertebrae. Tissue damage around and within the would suggests that this incision was also made after the subject was dead. There are also indications that something was removed with this incision."

"Like an implant."

"That's enough, Mulder."



"OK, I'll be quiet. I promise."

"Thank God...making the first postmortem incision now." She tried to make it good and squelchy so that Mulder would hear it from his position with his back to her across the room, but it wasn't loud enough. "Rupture of the cardiopulmonary artery as unrelated to the trauma to the heart indicates that the subject was also in the midst of a heart attack when his throat was slit."

"Check his stomach, Scully, maybe he was poisoned, too."

"Are you sure you don't have something else to do?"

"How many ways are there to die that this man didn't suffer?"

"I don't think you want to know, Mulder...sample of blood fluids in Container A for further lab study; expected results will include a raised white cell count and potassium, as well as other enzymes resulting from a heart attack." Squish-rip. "Stomach contents in Container B for further lab analysis. I do not expect any anomalous results, but run it anyway just to make sure. Maybe the coffee did him in."

"Gee, Scully, why didn't you wait till I finished drinking both cups before you said that?"

"Problem, Mulder?" Further squishing. "Oh, man."


"I just found out why Morrey left his stockbroker job to reconvene with nature."

"He was literally eating the profits?"

"Funny, Mulder, really funny. He's got a tumor on his prostate the size of a tennis ball. Malignant, from the looks of it, it's got this really great brownish purple shading here on one side-"

"Uh, Scully, I - uh, I think I -"

"It's OK, Mulder, I'm finished here. Just let me put on my regular clothes and we'll go for breakfast. I'm starved, aren't you?"


"I think I could go for a nice breakfast steak. Rare. Maybe some eggs with ketchup. What do you think? Mulder? Mulder?" She glanced over her shoulder at the sickened look on his pale face and grinned a secret grin to herself as she stepped into the small bathroom to scrub her hands and change her clothes. It was so much fun getting to him sometimes.

Green Moon Motel
Sept. 19
6:13 AM

Mulder awoke mad, he hadn't slept well and when he had it was with the most horrendous nightmares. Everyone in this town had been an alien; Devon, LucyLee, Dick Harris, even Bobbie, everyone except Scully. He pulled on his clothing and went to knock on Scully's door when she swung it open. She jumped back a little alarmed, not expecting him to be there at six thirty in the morning.

"Mulder." Was all she could get out. He smiled at her.

"I called the station and scheduled an interview with Bobbie's mother, LucyLee." He informed her.

She stepped out and closed the door behind her. "You got in touch with Harris yet?"

They talked while walking to the car. "Yeah, Dick says he was taking a walk because he didn't want to see Bobbie or his mother in so much pain. He apologized for causing confusion and he said he'll be there at the interview."

"What time do we have to be there?"

"In an hour and fifteen minute. Leaving us enough time to argue theories and eat breakfast." He opened the car door for her. "So Denny's or IHOP?"

Bombay Cafe
6:42 AM

Mulder and Scully sat in a corner booth of the large cafe. It was a small town and they could find much with actual brand names. Mulder was a bit peeves as he was looking forward to having a grand slam after skipping dinner the night before.

But it turned out the breakfast that they were served in this cafe more than compensated for his loss. Scully slurped on her orange juice, sucking up the last pit of pulp from the bottom. She was shocked that this town, which looked more run down than an old Pinto, had fresh squeezed orange juice and eggs.

"So Mulder, you're thinking UFO activity?" He nodded chewing on a large piece of pancake. "Have you called the Lone Gunmen to confirm this as a UFO hotspot?"

"Oh, I don't think I have to, what with Area 51 in this state and a big army base near here. The only thing lacking is actual proof."

"But you said you saw the thing through your window."

"Yeah, but that proves nothing to you, or to the bureaucrats we have to answer to. I have to find some undeniable proof."

"Were you hoping to find that in the autopsy I performed?"

"Yes, but unfortunately someone else got it before we could even look at the body."

"You think there's someone in this town that's trying to cover this up?"

"It wouldn't be beyond the realm of extreme possibility, I mean someone already killed one of our witnesses and then they took possible evidence from the body. I wouldn't be surprised to see smashed Morley's on the ground anywhere in the town."

"Well, we have to get to our second eyewitness."

"Which reminds me, where is Bobbie?"

"I believe he's in protective custody with his mother at the police station."

Mulder looked up and quickly made eye contact with their waitress. "Check please." He called.

Dyer Police Station
7:23 AM

Mulder and Scully flashed their badges to the main entrance guard and walked past him to an interview cell in the back. Scully took note that Bobbie was watching TV in the lounge with a woman, probably a social worker. Dick Harris was waiting for them.

He led them in and into two chair opposite LucyLee. Dick Harris stood in a corner behind them with his arms crossed over his chest, a role Scully usually occupied.

Mulder looked at the woman who sat hunched over, smoking a cigarette. He looked at the brand, relieved to find out it wasn't a Morley. She puffed out a long string of smoke and then squished the cigarette into a ash tray in front of her. She looked up at Scully.

"I remember when I was as beautiful as you. It was before Bobby, before Belinda, before my ex husband Nick, before I had any trouble. I wish I could go back there, it was so peaceful. You must be peaceful." She kept her gaze on Scully.

"Actually Mrs. McPeters, I'm not peaceful. I won't be until I find out what happened out here. To you and to your son." The woman nodded in approvement.

Mulder asked, "Mrs. McPeters, we came to ask you a few questions, can you do that for us?"

"Sure." She diverted her attention from Scully to Mulder. "As long as it's quick so I can see my son and call me Lucy, the only time I was called Mrs. McPeters was when I was with that bastard."

"Lucy, your husband, has he been in town in the last few weeks?"

"No, I haven't seen him since the divorce about half a year ago. I don't know where he is and I don't care where he is. And if you're thinking he did this to me, like Harris over there, you're as stupid as he is."

"Well then, Lucy, can you tell me what did do this to you?"

She remained silent for a moment before tears welled in her eyes. "I don't know."

Scully stood and walked to the door Mulder was about to question her when Lucy did it for him,

"Where are you going?"

Scully turned and replied, "I'm going to talk with your son again, maybe he saw something you didn't."

Mulder nodded and Scully left the room. She went into the lounge and looked down at the woman watching TV with Bobbie. The woman stood, understanding. Scully sat down next to Bobbie and looked at the cartoon on the TV.

"What's going to happen to my mother?" he asked picking up the remote control and switching off the TV.

"I don't know Bobbie, but right now, we're going to keep you and your mother here until the case is solved, or at least until we know that you're safe."

He sighed and looked up at her.

"Bobbie, do you remember what happened that night? Can you tell me everything you remember."

He took a deep breath. "I went out and it was about nine and I wasn't out for a long time because I know my mother's a light sleeper so I came back after half an hour. She was on the front porch hiding from something. I looked at my watch and it was late, really late, I missed some time and I looked up at the sky and there was a light, it was a bright light. It flew into the stars and I fell asleep. The next thing I remembered it Mr. Harris picking me up off the floor and laying me in his police car."

Scully stared at the boy. He didn't sound like he was lying and she was already thinking that he may have seen a helicopter, there was that Army Base.

On a road to Dyer
Same Day, earlier 4:10 AM

Henry Roulet watched the speedometer jump to the right end and he laughed. He took a large drink of beer before throwing the can out the window. He burst open another can of some other brand of beer and took a giant drink. Henry had been drinking for two hours straight, although he should know better than to drink, he had to get away from his father, from his pressure, from high school.

The school year had barely started and he was already cracking under the pressure. It was too much. He took another long drink and blasted the music louder than it should have been, his ears already pulsed with pain as did most of his body. He hadn't slept in two days, just driven. Finally stopping at a store to get gas and buy beer with a fake ID.

Henry slammed his foot to the floor and the car sped faster, he didn't think it could, but it did. He took a drink out of the can and threw it out the window of the car.

He reached into the backseat and cursed when he couldn't find another beer can. He looked back at the road to find he wasn't on one. He was traveling through the desert making a dust trail that flew five feet into the air. Suddenly his car came to a slow halt. He stepped out of the car and almost fell to the ground. Henry looked at the bright light he saw.

The sun was on the horizon.

Was it the sun?

It moved from left to right while Henry watched. He blinked and then rubbed his eyes. The sun moved closer to him, almost blinding him now. Henry fell to his knees on the floor and stared at the sun hovering over his head.

A beam came down from the sun.

Henry screamed as it drew him up.

7:57 AM

Mulder burst open the door, startling Scully, who was still trying to make something of what Bobbie had just told her. She saw the gleam in his eyes and knew he had made some kind of advancement. She wondered if Lucy had told him what he wanted to hear, that she had ben abducted by aliens.

He walked over to her and looked at Harris and then to Bobbie. Harris took Bobbie by the arm and led him out of the lounge room and into the interview room with his mother.

"What is it Mulder?"

"There's been another one."


"A teenager was found wondering in the desert about ten minutes ago. Says he saw a light. Sound familiar?" He cocked his head and was already making his way out of the door when she started to follow.

Dyer Road Emergency Care Facility
8:01 AM

Scully pushed open the car door and got shakily to her feet. Mulder had driven like a man possessed to reach the tiny emergency room where the boy who'd been found in the desert was being held. She looked over the roof of the rental car at him but his long strides were already eating up the distance between their parking spot and the small brick building. Scully jogged after him.

Dick Harris was waiting for them when they reached the ER and Scully did a double take at the man. Hadn't he just been at the police station with LucyLee McPeters? It was possible he'd rushed over, as they had; it was his case after all. But something about it gave Scully a creepy feeling inside.

"His name's Henry Roulet, age 17, though his fake ID says he's Thomas A. Cruise, age 22." Dick told them.

"His ID said he was Tom Cruise?" Mulder asked without cracking a smile.

Dick Harris nodded, rubbing the back of his neck "We found him wandering in the desert after a couple on their way to Reno spotted his car abandoned by the side of the road and called it in. His parents put out an APB on him two days ago. He's a little dehydrated, but in remarkable shape otherwise."

"And he says he's seen a light?" asked Scully.

Harris nodded. "Just like Devon Morrey, and LucyLee's little boy. Then again, his car was also full of empty beer cans."

"Can we talk to him?" asked Mulder.

"Sure thing," said Dick, moving aside. "Don't know what you expect him to tell ya, though," he muttered as he turned to consult with one of the nurses.

Mulder and Scully went into the small curtained-off area where Henry Roulet lay in bed with an IV in his arm. Both of his eyes were blackened by bruises and his nose was swollen and taped. "Looks like you've had some trouble," said Mulder. "What happened?"

"Fuck you, cop," responded Henry.

Mulder gave him a look that was more serious than amused. Scully lifted the medical chart from the foot of the bed and flipped through its pages. It had been completed by a nurse, she noted, the one ER doctor had been unavailable when Henry was brought in. "This says your nose is broken," Scully said in her don't mess with me, I'm a doctor voice. Henry didn't respond. "The nurses say you claim you saw a light in the desert, and that you were sucked up into this light, and that's all you remember. Is this true?"

Henry didn't say anything.

"Is this true?" Scully demanded.

Henry shrugged. It was something.

Mulder gave Scully a look and she backed off. "We understand that you might not want to talk about it, Henry. But we're here to help you. Honestly."

"Did you call my parents?" Henry asked, eyeing them carefully, as though he was deciding whether he could trust them.

"I'm afraid the police did that before we were even called, Henry. Is there a reason why you wouldn't want to see them? Were you running away?" Scully asked.

Henry rolled his eyes and sighed. "They expect so much of me sometimes, y'know?" His eyes filled with tears as they focused beyond Mulder and Scully, on an interdeterminate point on the curtains. "I'm a junior this year. These are supposed to be the best years of my life, or so my dad says. He wants me to be the star quarterback, *and* get straight A's and then get a football scholarship to Harvard or someplace like that. All the things he couldn't have because Grandpa died and he had to take over the farm." Henry fell silent for a moment, his breathing thick through his mouth. "School just started and already I've had two F's in Algebra." He shrugged, as though to pull his thoughts away. "Doesn't matter, I'll never need it for nothing. Way I see it, I'll be stuck on the farm for the rest of forever, or till some developer wants to make it into a strip mall or something. But then Coach said he was taking me off the team. I said I'd get my grades up, but he said it didn't matter. I wasn't good enough for them. He'd be happy to send me back to JV, he said. With the freshmen."

Henry choked then and turned his head away. Mulder patted his arm, and he jerked away from the touch. "Can you tell us about what happened in the desert?" he asked gently.

"It was crazy," said Henry. "I'd been drinking for, like, forever. Since I left home an' that was a couple days ago. I couldn't have seen what I thought I saw."

"What did you think you saw?" asked Scully.

"There was this light. At first I thought it was sunrise, but it was too early, and plus it was ahead of me and I think I was goin' west. And then the car died, just plain stopped dead right in the middle of the road. I didn't think it was the sun, so I got out of the car because I wasn't going to sit there and let it get me."

"Let what get you?" asked Scully.

"It was a UFO," said Henry. "A big old sucker, huge and glowing bright. I remember looking up at it and I couldn't even move or blink or anything. I was...mesmerized...by it. I remember my feet leaving the ground." He took a deep breath. "Next thing I remember is the cops picking me up in the desert and bringing me here. Sounds crazy, huh?"

Scully looked at him carefully. She didn't think he was telling the story to get attention - attention was the last thing he was going to want when he got home. "We're near a military installation," she said, "Are you sure it wasn't a helicopter you saw?" She didn't look at Mulder. She didn't have to. She could feel the look he was giving her.

"They don't make helicopters like that, lady," he said. "Besides, it didn't make a sound. Not one sound, this big old thing, not one sound."

"What happened to your nose?" asked Mulder again, casually this time.

Henry shrugged. "Don't remember. It was like this when the cops found me."

Scully leaned over and examined the bruising around his eyes. "These bruises are a few hours old, at least," she said, and moved away again, thinking. Mulder was quiet, as well, thinking.

"Hey, can you ask that other cop something for me?" Henry asked suddenly.

"Agent Harris?" asked Scully. Henry nodded. "Sure, what is it?"

"Can you ask him if he ever was in Utah? I'd swear he looks familiar." Henry barely got the words out before blood began to pour from his mouth and nose. "Uh-uh-aughhhhh-" he struggled, unable to get a breath. Scully stood there, wide eyed, staring at him as the bright red blood began to stain the sheets. Mulder went out and shouted for a nurse, and pulled Scully out of the room a moment later as the medics went to work on the boy.

"Are you all right?" he asked her.

She blinked and her eyes snapped back into focus as though she were coming back to herself. "Fine," she said, the required answer.

Mulder gave her a lingering look before turning away, his eyes scouring the small ER, looking for Dick Harris. "You see Harris? I've got a few questions of my own for him."

Scully looked around her. "He must have gone."

"Did you see that, Scully?"

"See what? The kid had a nosebleed."

"Who else have we worked with who have had nosebleeds, Scully?" Mulder asked, his eyes shining with excitement.

"Other people who've had their noses broken?" Scully tried, as though making an attempt to be funny.

"Abductees, Scully, abductees." Mulder took her arm and steered her out of the small medical facility into the sun which was already high and hot above their heads. "There's something going on here. Can't you feel it?"

Scully bit her lip. She really didn't want to have to say what she was about to say, given Mulder's past history with military bases. She actually shivered as she remembered the way he looked, walking unsteadily towards her after having part of his memory erased, early in their partnership. But she had to bring it up. "You don't think we should look into what's happening on the military base nearby?" she asked. This time will be different, she thought, he's not going to ditch me, I won't let him.

Mulder didn't say anything as he got into the car. Scully followed him, fastening her seatbelt and then looking over at him. He appeared to be deep in thought as he punched the gas and they went flying down the dusty road toward the desert.

Dyer Police Station
9:15 am

"Sorry about this, ma'am," said Officer Nelson, a kind faced young blond policeman, as he escorted LucyLee back to the cot they'd set up for her in the breakroom. "We don't have no social care place or no shelters, so this'll have to do. But you'll be safe here, I promise you that." Lucy nodded wearily at him as she sat down on the cot. "Get some rest." he advised and went out.

Lucy didn't lie down. She sat, staring at the wall in front of her with a poster that read "Just Say No." If she'd been feeling a little better, she would have laughed. It seemed ironic to her now, so many parents out there thinking the worst thing that could happen to their kids was drugs. It paled in comparison to the things she was beginning to remember.

And she was beginning to remember.

"Bobbie," she whispered, suddenly wondering where her son was.

"I'm here, mama," he said, coming through the door at that exact moment.

She broke into a weak grin as he raced over to her, burying his head against her small chest. She closed her eyes and held him, her boy, her precious son. "I won't let anything happen to you, Bobbie," she promised him, but her heart was breaking because she knew it was already too late.

She didn't really care what they'd done to her. She was barely 40 but her body had passed its prime years ago. She thought back to the nights she'd glanced up at the sky, counting the stars and thinking she'd seen one that was out of place, and then picked up the ashtray and pack of smokes and gone in to check on Bobbie. He hadn't been in his bed. This had happened five, maybe six times that she could recall. The first time she'd freaked, gone completely crazy, but by the time she got help, he was back in bed, asleep in his pajamas like he'd never been gone. None of the times had he ever been gone for more than an hour or two.

The tears slipped down Lucy's face because she now knew what had been done to him. She'd been where he'd been and she knew how long and how painful two hours could be.

Road to Dyer
Earlier that day
2:13 AM

He had a specific mission.

He had a task he was sent to complete by the gutless man who wouldn't do it himself. That smoking man they had all come to loathe.

He pulled the over into the dirt and got out of the black car he had been given. He would have to dump the car soon and do everything on foot until he was able to get to the other car, which was hidden, after his work was done.

He was sent to kill.

To eliminate any object or person that stood in the way of 'their' plans, he was sent to keep everything 'they' were working on secret, he was sent to deny everything, and to make sure the truth never got out. He knew of his subjects, there were more than one.

Seldom was there only one.

He knew that he had to be discreet.

The other assassins were not successful, they were noticed, they were seen, they would have been identified if it weren't for their apprehensiveness at staying in the town longer to get rid of the rest of the problem. They had been removed from this town and were being chastised back in DC for screwing up.

With a cautious look around him, unnecessary, but the official protocol said he had to so he did, he opened the trunk of his car to check the weapon they had given him. He opened the foam lined box and smiled at the gun. He put the loaded gun in his holster and put extra clips in his pockets, all pockets. He knew he wasn't a bad shot, but he'd heard about these subjects.

They were difficult to get rid of.

He got back into his car and drove to his final destination: the town of Dyer. He sat in his car thinking and he waited for his first target.

Nellis Air Force Base and Nuclear Test Site
11:21 AM

After the long drive Scully was glad to be able to get out of the car a stretch. They stood at the far fence of the base and stared into it. Scully with weariness; Mulder with excitement. He wanted so bad to see something, anything that hinted at a UFO craft being hidden in one of the hangars.

They watched for an hour as men walked around the outside of the base, they did nothing out of the ordinary. Jets were repaired, fueled and taken out for test flights; Army personnel training new members ran around the open fields; people came and went through the gates about a mile to their left.

"Mulder, if they were hiding anything do you think they would bring it out in the daytime for everyone looking to see?" She added to herself, 'Even though I'm sure no one's ever as crazy as Mulder to be standing here to see anyway.'

He looked at her and gave her a 'don't bug me' look. He didn't feel like talking with her right now. He was too confused. These people seemed to be vanishing and reappearing too fast behind one another. And then there was Dick, he had disappeared the other night without saying a word, which struck Mulder as suspicious.

"Mulder, we need to get back, we need to check on Bobbie, his mother, I want to know what happened to Henry."

Mulder reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a phone and handed it to her. She accepted the phone and grunted as she stood. He listened to her talk and could judge by the way she spoke that she talked to Bobbie, after talking to a cop and then she hung up and dialed another number. The hospital. She stayed silent for a few minutes and then she screamed,


Mulder's head snapped up and looked at her. Her face confused and horrified. She turned and said a few unauditable words into the phone and then she pressed the 'End' button and threw the phone back at him.

"Well, Mulder, this was fun and all but we have to get back to town right now."

"Why?" Mulder said looking back at the base. He knew nothing exiting would happen until nightfall, he would be able to return.

"Henry Roulet. He died about a half an hour after we left. The doctor I talked to said his chart said he had a heart attack."

"What?" Mulder stood, now as confused as she had been.

"I arranged for them to transfer him immediately so I could go preform the autopsy. I want to find out what happened to him, I mean a normal seventeen-year-old doesn't croak from a heart attack."

Esmeralda County Coroner's Autopsy Bay B
3:00 PM

It was a large room, larger than the first autopsy bay they had been in. This one had a small office in the corner and only two ways out; through the door you had come in and through a window, high on the wall opposite the office.

Mulder looked around at the autopsy bay and wondered how old it was, it definitely hadn't been taken care of in a while. The walls were still made of unattractive grey brick and it was half way underground. Mulder thought it should have been transformed into what it really was, a basement, long ago.

He looked at Scully as she emerged from the changing room in her bluish green 'suit', for he hadn't a better word for it. He secretly liked when she wore this because she wasn't so covered up, she looked a little more comfortable, like she had at the mall looking at the puppy.

At the same time he didn't like it, it made her look smaller, more vulnerable.

The coroner came down from another room. He was an old little man, he reminded Mulder a lot of Frohike. His greying hair fell all over his face in an attempt to look like Einstein, he was successful. His grey-blue eyes shined at Scully as he looked at her. Mulder knew the older man found Scully attractive, 'Who wouldn't?' he added to himself.

He handed her the file on the boy so that she could know better what she was looking for, if she was looking for anything at all. Mulder knew what he wanted her to look for, this body wasn't like that of Devon's, this one didn't have that cut on the side of the neck.

"Mrs. Scully, I'll be in my office, but if you need any assistance, any assistance at all." He smiled widely revealing a giant set of pearly whites the Scully assumed were dentures.

"Thank you Dr. Pointer." She smiled back but shivered when he left the room. She looked up at Mulder and then down at the body. He was sitting of a stool on the other side of the body.

Clicking on the recorder she told the date and the time and then she looked at the naked body. "Lacerations and bruises encompass at least forty percent of the body, although this may have been from whatever happened to him out in the desert." She began to make incisions into the body and Mulder suddenly had to go to the bathroom.

"Pericardium seems to be healthy, contrary to what was recorded on his chart. Myocarditis, an inflammation or degeneration of the heart muscle, also indicated on his chart, is also not present. Note: Body seems to have been drained of a substantial amount of blood." At this point Mulder re-entered the room. "Order toxicological, and an inquisition into who falsified Henry Roulet's chart," she said a few more quick things, notes, into the microphone and then turned to Mulder.

"Scully, could you do me a favor." She nodded. "Can you check the area on Henry where there was that cut in Devon's neck."

Scully took a small scalpel and made the exact cut on Henry as had been made on Devon. She opened the skin and peered inside. Mulder watched her brow crease in confusion as she reached for a pair of tweezers.

"What is it?" he asked her, walking closer.

She pulled the tweezers out of Henry's body and revealed a small long metallic 'thing'. Mulder looked at it on the tweezers and then he looked back at her.

"Can we have this thing examined by a tech expert?"

"I don't even know if this town has one. It's possible we're the tech experts here." Scully paused and then said into the microphone, "Note: Small, metallic object found on the subject's neck. Have it sent for further analysis." She clicked it off and then put the tape in her pocket.

"Well, Ms. Expert, what do you think it is?" he asked taking a closer look at the object held on the tweezers.

"How the hell should I know?" She looked at it and then back up at Mulder, "You don't think this is some kind of locator, or communicator, do you?"

"You said it first, remember that." He cocked a finger at her, which she would have slapped if she weren't so interested in the thing held on the tweezer.

"Only because you would have suggested it." It didn't look like the thing she had in her neck. It looked more like the thing that had been removed from Ray Soams' nasal cavity on their first case.

"Yeah, I would have. You know me too well, Scully."

"Too well, Mulder." Scully echoed.

She sighed and looked back down at the thing.

She heard a small thump and looked towards where it came from. Dr. Pointer's office. She put the thing in a small vial after cleansing it of blood and then she headed towards the office. Mulder walked behind her and they stepped into the room together.

"Dr. Pointer, it turns out I do need assistance. I need to take this object that we found to someone who might tell us what it is and you live here so you might know where we should take it."

She waited for a response, but was greeted with silence.

"Dr. Pointer?" she asked pocketing the object they had found in the body with the micro-recorder tape.

Mulder walked around him and then looked back up at her. "Scully, I suggest we get the hell out of here right now."


He kicked the chair and it swerved around. She watched in horror as Dr. Pointer's body turned to reveal a small bullet wound in the middle of his forehead, a small line of blood trickling down his nose and into his open mouth.

"Oh My God," she said. He walked past her and into the actual autopsy room, leaving her at the door looking at the body.

Mulder saw him first.

He was standing over the body with a giant canister. Mulder knew it was gasoline and he knew that it was all over the body and he could smell it so he knew it was all over the room. The man noticed Mulder and pulled his gun. Mulder drew his and the man heaved the canister at Mulder, but he moved, and it hit Scully on her unturned head.

Mulder turned quickly and watched her fall to the floor. He turned back to the man and saw that he had already lunged at the door. Mulder ran at him and he turned in time to catch him off guard and punched him in the face. Mulder fell backwards on the floor.

The man walked to the door of the autopsy room and smiled, this would be easy, kill two birds with one stone. He aimed a gun he had brought with him, a flare gun, at the floor near the body. It immediately caught flame. The flames flew around the body and he knew that in a few minutes they would surround the room.

Road from Dyer
fifteen minutes later

He was sweating, and not just from the desert heat. It was as though he could still feel the flames from the fire licking at his heels. He knew he wasn't in any danger, so he couldn't explain why he couldn't shake the feeling, the urge to look back over his shoulder. He fiddled with the radio dial in the safe car he'd picked up from it's hiding place out of town until he found something mellow and soothing: the Eagles' "Hotel California."

His cellular phone rang. With one hand he answered it.

"I've changed my mind," the clipped tones belonged to his superior, the man who was too busy smoking Morleys in a deeply curtained DC room to come out to the desert of Nevada and do his own dirty work.

"Too late. It's done," he replied with a smirk of satisfaction. He hated the smug bastard; wished he could kill him.

"Is it now?" the man asked, closing his eyes. He'd promised to protect them, and he had been reminded how very important they were to the overall picture. "That's too bad," he said. "For you."

The car swerved off the narrow desert road as the cellular phone went dead, barely avoiding the boxy black car that had seemed to appear in front of him out of nowhere. Two men in black suits leapt from the car and rushed him. He was dead before he could fire off even one shot.

Esmeralda County Coroner's Autopsy Bay B

Mulder bounced back up from the tile floor, but the man was gone. He tried the door, but it was locked, apparently bolted from the outside. They were trapped. The fire was spreading quickly. Mulder was already beginning to choke on the smoke that began to fill the room. He dropped once again to his knees, remembering fire safety rules from kindergarten: Stop, drop and roll. Smoke and heat rise. Only you can prevent forest fires.

He reached Scully and gagged at the blood gushing from the wound on her temple. Head wounds bleed a lot, he reminded himself, it doesn't mean anything. He nudged her lightly but she didn't open her eyes. Her skin was so pale, it looked translucent; he could see all of her freckles and veins, it seemed. He put an impartial hand on her stomach and felt its faint rise and fall. She was still breathing.

His hand came away sticky. Her clothing was saturated with gasoline from the canister that had struck her in the head. Mulder glanced frantically around the room. No fire extinguishers. Not that one measly extinguisher would do much for the funeral pyre burning in the center of the room. The flames were white and blue, intense, as they kissed the ceiling and the floor. No sprinklers. Just one tiny window up near the ceiling. Where the smoke was roiling like storm clouds.

Mulder was stifling. He tore off his tie and threw it away and then removed his jacket. It didn't help. The heat in the brick basement room was incredible - the room's construction was very similar to a bread or pottery oven. He glanced down and saw the fibers in his polyester-rayon blend suit pants melting. In another five seconds, they would be glue on his skin. Never have to iron them though, thought Mulder, sighing as he pulled them off and knelt next to Scully in his cotton boxers, now feeling the heat on his legs.

Unless he missed his guess, the heat of the room would be enough to ignite the gasoline staining Scully's blue scrub suit. He shook his head and pulled her up from the floor, wondering not for the first time just what her tastes in lingerie ran to. Looked like he was about to find out.

White cotton tank top and little shorts. Pink lace trim. Victoria's Secret, if he didn't miss his guess. Very attractive, thought Mulder, slinging his unconscious partner over his shoulder and dashing forward into the inferno. The smoke was blinding but somehow he managed to locate the window. The metal fastenings burned his hands and he jerked them back. The glass wasn't much cooler, and he grimaced as his fist made contact and went through the plate.

Fresh air rushed into the room. Backdraft, thought Mulder, although he was at the same time his strength was renewed by the oxygen. He heard a series of popping sounds, increasing in volume, as things began to explode, probably the lighting tubes and canopic jars.

He wondered how he was supposed to get Scully through the window, but instinct took over. Mulder hoisted her up as though she were a rag doll and practically threw her through the window and then followed, pulling himself up with muscles he didn't even know he had. Once outside in the fresh, relatively cool air of the desert, he didn't pause but grabbed Scully and ran with her as far from the building as he could get.

He could hear the sirens as the entire building exploded. Mulder crouched over Scully in an effort to protect her with his body. The sirens were louder now, as he rolled away from her and lay limply on the grass, his eyes fixed on the congealed blood staining the side of her face. He held her hand in his and squeezed it as tightly as he could. "Be OK, Scully," he whispered, his throat dry and his voice cracked. "I need you."

The paramedics pulled them apart but Mulder had already slipped into unconsciousness.

Good Samaritan Hospital
25 miles outside of Dyer
Same day
8:45 pm

Scully opened her eyes and wondered just what had happened to her body. Her head was throbbing, her skin was throbbing and her throat ached. It hurt to breathe and it hurt to think. She looked around and wasn't surprised to see that she was in a hospital. Private room, nice blue walls. Mulder wasn't in a bed next to hers, so that meant she wasn't in quarantine.

She frowned as she tried to remember what had happened. She could remember the case, and working on Henry Roulet's autopsy and then her memory stopped.

It's not unusual to block out the source of trauma, she reminded herself, but it didn't slow the pounding of her heart. Last time she'd awoken in a hospital bed in this much discomfort, not remembering what had happened to her, she'd been gone for three months.

Please God, don't let it happen to me again, she prayed.

The door opened and Mulder walked in, carrying her small blue suitcase. "You're awake," he said and gave her a broad smile. "I brought you some clothes."

"Thanks," she said, wondering why she needed them. She was in a hospital gown but she'd assumed there were clothes in the closet. "What happened?"

"You don't remember?" Mulder asked gently, a slight frown crossing his face. He sat down at the foot of her bed. Her eyes went wild and her heartbeat tripled. Please no, she thought, no, no... "There was a fire," he said, meeting her eyes. "In the autopsy room, where you were working on Roulet. A man broke in and shot Dr. Pointer in the head, and then set the body and the room on fire. After hitting you upside the head with his gascan. He got away."

Scully nodded, examining the bandages and tape on her forehead with her fingers. "Five stitches," said Mulder. "The doctor says there shouldn't be a scar."

Scully nodded again, looking at Mulder carefully. "What happened to your hand?" His right hand was swathed in bandages.

"I burned it, getting us out of there. It's nothing," he said. She knew he was lying.

Scully swung her legs over the edge of the bed and shakily found her footing, reaching for her suitcase. "What are you doing?" Mulder demanded.

"Getting dressed and getting out of here. We have a case to solve." She unzipped the suitcase and pulled out what was inside - cotton underwear, her stained and torn purple sleepshirt, jeans and sandals that still bore a Kmart price sticker. Not exactly what I would have chosen, she thought, heading for the closet.

"Scully, you have a concussion." Mulder said in that low voice she secretly loved but always ignored, the one that meant he was concerned about her.

"I'm fine," she insisted, opening the closet. There was nothing there. She frowned. "Where are my clothes?" she asked. Mulder looked a little pink, but blank. "The clothes I was admitted in?"

"You're wearing them."

She looked down at her hospital gown. "No," she said slowly, and he nodded. Her mouth opened and she blushed furiously.

"Your clothes were soaked in gasoline," said Mulder, "I had to get them off of you before they ignited."

Scully began to pull on the jeans he'd brought her, discovering that patches of her skin were burned and raw. "Thanks," she said.

"No problem," Mulder replied. "I'll wait for you in the hall."

Scully sank back down on the bed before pulling the purple shirt he'd brought her on over the smoke-stained tank top she was still wearing. Then she shook her head. It didn't mean anything. They had a case to solve.

"I want to try to find Dr. Stewart," she told Mulder when she met him out in the hall a few minutes later. "He's the one who signed the death certificate and paperwork that falsely claimed Henry Roulet died of a massive coronary." Mulder merely followed as she strode over to the nurses' desk.

"Aren't you the patient from 281?" asked the nurse.

"I'd like to speak to Dr. Stewart," said Scully firmly, avoiding her question.

"You shouldn't be out of bed," the nurse informed her.

"I'm fine."

"March," the woman ordered and Mulder bit back a smile.

"I'm a physician, and I'm fine," Scully told the nurse who stood a good six inches taller than she did. "I'd like to speak to Dr. Stewart."

"He retired in 1985."

"Where does he live, then?" Scully's frustration was strong. She was still pale and Mulder could see the deep circles beneath her eyes. Her hair was dirty and dark from the sooty smoke. She needed a bath and some sleep.

"Crowder Heights Peaceful Rest Memorial Park, in Oregon, I believe," replied the nurse, who seemed very satisfied with herself. Scully rolled her eyes and started for the elevator. Mulder went to follow her when the nurse caught his arm. "You'd better keep an eye on her if she insists on leaving," she told him, "She can sleep, but you have to wake her every two hours."


"To make sure she's not comatose." With that, the nurse turned away to attend to another patient who had come up to the desk.

Mulder thought he was going to lose his lunch at the thought as he joined Scully in the elevator, but he knew it was useless to say anything to her. She wouldn't listen, she'd just say, 'I'm fine' a few dozen more times. "The reports were entirely faked," she said, amazed. "With the body burned, we'll never know what happened to Roulet. And we don't have the implant, either."

"I had my hands full," said Mulder.

"Of course you did," Scully said absently, concentrating hard to focus her thoughts through the pain radiating from the side of her head. "We need to go and check on the McPeters' and see if Harris and the police have come up with anything there. Then I think we should try to find out who killed Devon Morrey. He's the reason we came out here. This all started with him." She turned to Mulder as though remembering she wasn't alone. "What do you think?"

"I think we should go back to the motel and get some rest. It's been a long day."

"No way," said Scully. "Too much work to do." She glanced at his hand as they left the elevator and the hospital, crossing the parking lot to their rental car. "I'll drive."

"You have a concussion."

"But your hand!"

"I drove to and from the motel to get your things just fine," Mulder informed her, getting in on the drivers' side. I won't have to wake her every two hours, he thought, she'll never agree to go to sleep.

"And such lovely things they are, too," Scully said sarcastically.

"You need a shower," Mulder retorted and peeled out of the hospital parking lot way too fast, thinking bitterly that she could at least thank him for saving her sorry little life. But that was his thankless job as her partner, he told himself, glancing at her stubborn profile, wondering if she'd ever been mad at him for not saying thank you. For not taking care of himself after she saved his life. He'd never thought of it before.

He promised himself to remember to say thank you next time. As there was sure to be a next time.

Dyer Police Station
9:21 PM

Scully and Mulder walked into the quiet station looking for Harris. Another cop Mulder recognized from the McPeters crime scene showed them to Harris' office.

"What the hell happened to you two?" he asked standing as they walked in.

Mulder replied, "Little cooking accident."

Scully quickly added under her breath, "Yeah, someone tried to cook us and they accidentally didn't succeed."

Harris looked at her head and then at Mulder's hand. He then waved a hand at the two seats in front of his desk, which they took to Mulder's relief, he thought he would never get Scully to rest a bit.

"Did you find what you were looking for in that kid, Roulet?" Harris asked Scully who was rubbing her other temple.

"We found out that he didn't die from a heart attack like his chart said, and he didn't have any of the degenerative heart problems that were supposed to have accumulatively caused it. Without the body for any further analysis, I would have to say he died of blood loss."

"Harris, were you aware that the doctor who worked on Roulet in the hospital has been retired for over ten years, added to the fact that he's dead, not even burried in this state."

"No, we don't usually do too much of a background check on our people, we like them to feel secure."

Scully added, "Makes you wonder how many other people in this town aren't who they say they are."

Harris looked at her. "Are you asking me to suddenly run background checks on everyone in the town?"

"No, but everyone in a position at the hospital, and everyone in the station."

"Including me?"

"You shouldn't have anything to hide." Mulder said looking at Harris with contempt. He hadn't really liked Harris from the beginning and he was hoping to find out something about him.

"No, no." He smiled. "I'll have all my men on it right away. We'll do the hospital personnel first and then our men."

Mulder sat back in his chair, "No, start with the police, if there's anyone who has access to everything in town, it's them. And you."

Mulder stood and gestured to Scully to do the same. She did, not really wanting to say anything, her head pounding, she wanted Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofin, Advil, Aleve, anything that could help take away this pain.

Mulder walked to the door of the office and then turned. "Harris, when can we see the results of these searched?"

"I don't know, maybe in a few days."

"How about you fax the names of everyone at the station to a friend of mine, Danny." He walked to the desk and wrote the number on a piece of paper and a note to Danny explaining what he wanted done. "He'll get it back tomorrow night. I want to be the first to see it, understood?"

Harris nodded looking at the paper.

"Come on Scully." She stood still and Mulder grabbed her by the hand and led her out of the office. Once at the car Mulder looked at her. "Are you ok?"

"I'm fine." She answered and then looked up at him, determined to look healthy.

"I want to go back to that base right now, see if anything in their protocol has changed." He cocked a brow and smiled entering the car.

Nellis Air Force Base and Nuclear Test Site
11:21 PM

Scully had fallen asleep in his lap in the car. He knew it would happen, she just started to bend over on the way to the base and finally her head hit his lap and she was gone. Mulder shook her slightly to make sure she hadn't slipped into a coma. She opened her eyes and told Mulder,

"God Mulder, you want me to go to sleep and then you wake me up? Leave me alone!" She closed her eyes again and slept.

Mulder watched the base from inside the car with binoculars, he didn't want to wake her. He wanted her to get all the sleep she could, she needed it, she deserved it for putting up with him. Nothing happened for two hours. Then there was a light, it was as bright as the sun and Mulder watched in amazement as it came from the sky and just hovered over the base.

He watched it maneuver over the entire length of the base and then disappear into the sky again. He watched the sky were it had come from and a few minutes later it came back down, lower and people came out from the base to study, send signals, do their calculations. Mulder didn't know exactly, he couldn't hear them and he could barely see them.

Suddenly the ship flew off and it didn't come back. Mulder shook Scully and she moaned and rolled over making Mulder jump slightly. He wanted her to know what he had seen, he wanted her to look out for it, maybe if she saw it she would believe? No, he thought to himself, she would tell me that it was just a secret military project.

There was a loud bang on the window and she jumped awake, slamming her head into the steering wheel and screaming in pain. Mulder looked down at her, trying to see if she was ok, but the door was pulled open and he was yanked out and held by a uniformed man.

He tried to look back into the car to see her, but there were two men blocking his view. They pulled Scully out and held her. She blinked at the brightness of the flashlight being pointed at her eyes.

"What the hell do you think you're doing here?" A man in a military suit asked. He was holding some big intimidating military issued gun at Mulder.

Mulder looked at the decorative pins on his chest and remembering the books he had read, saw that this man was part of the Air Defense Artillery and his rank was Major General in the Air Force. He saw the name tag and made a note to remember it, Nicholas T. McPeters.

Mulder looked back up at him, smiled, and said, "Watching the fireworks?" he kept smiling, hoping the man would take its sick double connotation.

Remembering that the woman with him was found getting off his lap the man simply smiled back, "Well, you and your girlfriend have to leave, this is a restricted military area. No unauthorized personnel within a mile of the fence."

Mulder almost jumped for joy. For the first time since he had started the x-files he saw something and he wasn't beaten or arrested for doing so. He nodded and tried to look scared of the man, acknowledge his power, he thought to himself.

"Yes, sir. We'll be off this property and back home as soon as you let us go." Mulder said, a bit too cheery.

Scully looked at him, her eyes half closed from the light, and the pain of her headache. They let her go and she climbed back into the car and just looked at him, worried, wondering if he knew what he was doing.

They let go of Mulder and he got in the car next to her and closed the door. He gave her hand a small squeeze of assurance. He then put the car in reverse and peeled out of the area.

The man smiled, another crazy couple out for a thrill, he thought. He usually caught three to four couples a month trying to make out, or make love, near the secluded fence. He was going to be chastised later for letting them slip, but how could he have known they were two FBI agents looking for their secrets to know the truth.

Mulder and Scully didn't say a word until they were at least ten miles from the base. Scully saw the smile that still played on his face. She then turned to him and slapped his arm.

"How could you do that?" She screamed, then put a hand to her head because the scream caused it to start pounding again.

He looked at her, worried about her head. "Do what?" He asked.

Her mouth agape she told him, "You made me look like some kind of sick pervert!"

He smiled at her and she smacked him again.

"Hey, we're still alive and I got to see what I wanted." He turned his attention back on the road.

"What's that, my total embarrassment?" She looked out at the road and then at her watch, it was one forty-five

"No, I saw a UFO Scully. It was like the one that I saw flash outside my window."

"I thought you didn't get a good look at the one outside your window because it was too bright."

"But that's how I know they were alike. The one I saw illuminated the entire base! It was amazing. It was huge, bigger than most of the accounts I hear about."

"Mulder, that could have been a military ship, built with advanced technology yet to be released to the public. They probably want to keep it secret."

"Why would a military ship kidnap people."

"Mulder, just because it glows in the dark doesn't mean it kidnaps people."

"Scully, they were abducted, by aliens, who have been working with the government."

Scully grunted loudly, there was no way to win with Mulder. He was going to keep believing what he believed no matter what she told him. It was, by far, Mulder's most annoying, and his most admirable quality.

"Guess what else I saw, Scully."

"ET playing guitar with Jimmy Hendrix?"

She smirked and he smirked back, annoyed at her sarcasm.

"That military guy, the one I talked to, his name tag said he was Nicholas T. McPeters."

She looked out the window, noting how clear the night was. "What does that have to do with anything?" He stayed silent for a moment, letting her head work. "Mulder, you don't think that could have been Lucy's husband, do you?"

She looked up at him and he only glanced at her.

"Mulder, that's crazy. He's in Reno. With his daughter."

"What are the chances of two people with the same name being involved in this case."

"That man at the base has nothing to do with this case."

"He's protecting the UFO, he definitely has something to do with the case."

"MULDER!" She grunted again, but found that it only hurt her head. She put both hands to both temples and tried to relax. The stress Mulder was giving her was going to affect her headache more than a steering wheel to the head.

Mulder watched her and asked, "You ok?"

"I'm fine."

"Why do you do that?!" He screamed. She jerked away from him, he had never taken that tone with her, not when he was mad at her, not even in Comity. "God Scully!" He screamed louder, his voice seemed to bounce off the walls of the car. "You're head is probably about to Explode! You could slip into a Coma! All because your Stubbornness didn't permit you to listen to the fuckin' nurse! Don't tell me you're fine 'cause *I* know you're not!"

He watched her shrink in the seat, he saw her eyes water, he had scared her. He didn't know why he screamed at her like that, maybe it was because he was tired of her not listening to him, he was tired of her habitually going against almost everything he said.

He now knew how she felt working with him.

He pulled the car over and turned it off. He saw her move closer to the door, away from him, his temper, him. He heard her whimper as she tried to conceal her crying. He heard her breath come out in short gasps of air and he saw the tear roll down her left cheek as she looked out the window at the trees that surrounded them.

"I'm sorry." He felt like he was going to cry for making her cry, he was going to cry because he had hurt her. He felt like dirt. "I'm sorry." He repeated.

She didn't look at him.

"My head hurts," she said slowly. "I want to go to sleep." She added still looking at the trees outside.

"I'm sorry," he said again.

She turned slowly to him and saw tears welling in his eyes, she didn't know what to say, what to do. She didn't know how to react, to 'feel'. He bowed his head and with a hand under his chin she raised it. He hugged her, hoping she wouldn't push him away from her.

She didn't.

She needed it, she needed to be comforted. She needed to know that he wasn't really mad at her, just as he needed to know that she wasn't mad at him.

"I'm sorry," he said again.

She wanted him to say something else, anything else.

"Mulder, can we go back to the motel now? Please?" She sounded helpless, like a child. He looked at her pale face and smiled slowly.

"Whatever you want."

He slowly turned the car on not taking his eye off her. They said nothing, it was the longest pregnant pause either of them had ever experience. Then he turned the car back onto the road and they continued.

"Tomorrow we can call Danny and see if he's gotten anything on Harris." He looked at her, she seemed to be thinking. "Scully?"

"Yeah, tomorrow." She looked at him, to tell him that she had been paying attention to what he had said.

"Scully... I..."

The light blinded them both. The car stopped. They froze, paralyzed in their seats. A beam came down, penetrating them both. The heat intense; the feeling otherworldly. It took them up, into the bottom of the ship and then flew off into the night sky.

Location Unknown

Mulder was dreaming, he thought. He was drifting, in the thick darkness, scenes unrolling through his mind as though they were reels to a previously unknown documentary about his life.

There was Scully, tears on her face in the car in the middle of the night, her forehead bandaged. He'd shouted at her, and now she was upset. It created a funny ache in his chest. Then time just...froze...as a bright light from overhead engulfed them both.

With the quickness of a split-second edit, the scene changed. He was somewhere strange, somewhere very odd, it looked like the bridge of a ship. A spaceship. Everywhere he looked, things were constructed of a silver and shiny metal. Lights flickered and reflected off the surfaces into his eyes as though there was a slow-spinning disco ball suspended from the ceiling, blinding him once every few seconds. Remembering, he looked frantically around him. There was Scully. She was safe. He was safe. But where were they?

A man entered the room through a door. It didn't whoosh from side to side like the doors in TV spaceships did. It pushed inward and had a handle on the inside with a little tag over it that read "pull". Mulder looked at the man and he was surprised, but things were beginning to get foggy and he felt himself drifting again, as though the dream had ended and it was time to wake up.

Somewhere in the desert of Nevada
time approx. 10 AM
Sept. 21

Mulder was on his feet and walking. The sun was already high and hot in the sky. He was sweating and his feet ached as though he'd been walking all night. His head throbbed dully and his throat was dry. When he opened his eyes, his balance faltered slightly and he swayed, but he didn't fall.

He was too busy catching Scully.

As soon as his eyes opened and he looked at her, her eyes closed and she began to fall into a slow swoon. Mulder put his arms out and she collapsed heavily against him. He staggered back, feeling weak, conscious of the blistering sun overhead and now the warmth of her body against his.

A moment later she struggled and he released her. Opening her eyes, she stumbled away from him. Finding her footing, she froze as she took in the desert around them for as far as the eye could see. "Mulder, where are we?" she asked and couldn't keep the tremor out of her voice.

"I don't know," he admitted. "The last thing I remember was being asleep and dreaming, and before that was -"

"-in the car, last night-" added Scully.

"A bright light. Like the two UFO's I'd already seen."

"Military planes."

"Whatever they were, Scully, we seem to have lost -" Mulder broke off as he looked down at his watch. He shook his arm, but it made no difference. "My watch stopped."

"So did mine," Scully's eyes were wide as she checked the black digital strapped to her arm. She didn't like this, not one bit.

He met her eyes, holding them intensely. "Someone put us out into the desert to die," he told her.

"And you think it was aliens," Scully scoffed back.

"Look around you, Scully. Do you see any tire tracks? Evidence of a helicopter blowing the sand around?" She was looking at him so stubbornly he wanted to shake her for refusing to believe. "Damn it, Scully, turn around! Our footprints only go back two feet! How the hell do you think we got here and magically forgot it? I'd really like to hear your rational explanation!" She was staring at him, but didn't say anything. "What?" he demanded, as though it was still part of his tirade.

"You're... oozing," Scully said with some wonder as she moved in closer to him. Mulder looked down and saw her drop to her knees in the sand and crawl in towards him.

He jerked his head back up and forced himself to gaze straight ahead as her fingers made gentle contact with his pantleg. He held his body as still as he could as her fingers explored halfway up the inside of his leg. "Scully, what are you doing?" he asked, his voice tight and not nearly so amused sounding as he was striving for.

"Strip," she ordered him.

"Only if you say please," he joked, but his heart wasn't in it. Obviously, he thought, their journey to the Twilight Zone was not quite over.

Scully got to her feet and he adjusted the level of his vision to look at her. "You say we were abducted by aliens, Mulder, I'd like to see what they've done to you," she said without a trace of humor. She was just as afraid as he was.

He held her eyes as he unbuckled his belt and unfastened his trousers, easing them down. The fabric was stuck to a patch of skin on his thigh and when he peeled it away, it stung slightly. He kept his head up stoically and held his breath, wishing he could think of a really killer joke.

"My God, Mulder," Scully breathed softly. The skin on his legs was mottled with red patches and a few puffy blisters. The oozing patch on his thigh looked to be the worst, where the first of the blisters had broken. "What have they done?"

Mulder looked down at himself. "That's from the fire," he said casually. Her head came up and she met his eyes, surprised. "In the morgue," he elaborated.

She had to look away in order to maintain her professionalism. And professionalism was the only thing that would carry her through the next few minutes, she knew. He'd gotten these burns saving her. And she wasn't burned much at all. He'd protected her at his own expense. "Some of these are second degree burns, Mulder," she said, "Did the doctors at the hospital look at these?"

"They gave me a prescription for some antibiotic ointment," he told her.

"Do you have it?" Did she even have to ask? He shrugged. "I wish you did, Mulder, these blisters that have ruptured have a high potential for infection." She continued to frown at his skin, wondering what she should do. With one finger, she lightly touched the abused area that was still leaking white blood cells and other fluids.

Mulder shivered and jerked away from her touch, nearly tripping over his pants and falling on his butt. "That's enough," he informed her, yanking his trousers back up to cover himself.

"But Mulder-" Scully began to argue.

"How's your head?" he asked, turning the tables on her. This time she didn't even say, 'it's fine,' she just clenched her teeth and folded her arms. "That's what I thought," he said. "We have to get back to civilization."

"Do you have your cell phone?" asked Scully.

Wondering why he hadn't thought of it sooner, Mulder plucked the instrument out of his pocket and grinned. She smiled back at him as he dialed. A moment later he cursed furiously and punched the 'end call' button.

"What?" she asked, her heart tripping in her chest, wondering what could have possibly gone wrong.

"Danny. I gave his fax number to Agent Dick. Now he's gone underground." Mulder said, his scorn for the other agent evident. "I should have known this would happen."

"I don't understand," Scully said slowly. Why would he call Danny first and not the authorities to come and get them?

"Here," he hit 'redial' and handed the phone to her.

Her eyebrows raised, she listened to the ringing on the other end and then heard an answering machine pick up. "Danny here," said the recording. "Looks like I'll be away for a few days. Thanks, Mulder for giving those black suited goons my number. Leave a message." Then it beeped.

"You think Dick put a hit out on Danny rather than fax him the information you requested? Why would he do such a thing?" Scully asked, rubbing her aching temple. Maybe this was all some hallucination as a result of the concussion, because it didn't make any sense otherwise.

"The man has something to hide," Mulder said angrily, "I'm more certain than ever that he's involved in this and we can't trust him." He began to dial the phone again.

"Who're you calling now?" asked Scully.

"Triple A."

"But Mulder, we seem to have lost our car."

"We'll worry about that when they get here."

Dyer Police Station
1:23 PM

Mulder flung open the door to the meeting room hard, sending it slamming into the opposite wall and rebounding back at his face. He caught it before it touched him. "Where's Harris?" he demanded of the now white-faced young officer who was drying coffee mugs and arranging the sugar packets.

"O-o-ut on a case. Sir."

"Where?" Scully asked. She knew the two of them were a terribly frightening picture, frazzled and sunburnt and haunted looking. They might as well take advantage of it. At least she'd persuaded Mulder to stop at the 7-11 next door for some Neosporin and some sterile bandages for his burns.

"I don't know, ma'am, but I could find out," he offered, glancing hopefully at them. They were blocking the doorway so he couldn't make his exit even if he wanted to.

"Do that," said Mulder. The officer took a few steps closer, but neither of them moved out of the doorway. "But first, we'd like to see Lucy and Bobbie McPeters."

"They're gone," he told them.

"What?" cried Scully.

"Mr. McPeters came and picked them up this morning. Lucy said it would be all right and insisted that we couldn't keep her here against her will. We had to let them both go," the young man explained.

Scully bit her lip and looked at Mulder, who was still processing the information. "Was he in uniform?" Mulder asked.

"What kind of uniform?"

"Military. Air Force. From the base," Mulder elaborated.

"Why, yes, now that I think about it," answered the officer.

"Did she go willingly? Did the boy?" Scully asked, not sure she saw where Mulder was going with this.

"Absolutely. Lucy cried and hugged him and said she loved him. The boy was grinning like he'd just been handed the moon. Said he was real happy to have his Daddy back. Touching scene, really." The officer gave each of them a strange look. "If you'll excuse me?"

Absently they moved aside and he left the room. "Why would Lucy say she hadn't seen him in a year and a half and that he was in Reno?" asked Scully.

"Something very strange is going on here, Scully," Mulder said with a stricken look she thought she recognized. It usually preceded Mulder breaking the case with a flying leap of logic.

"Tell me something I didn't know," requested Scully.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket again and dialed. "Reno," he said, "Give me the number of Nicholas McPeters." There was a pause as he disconnected and redialed. "Mr. McPeters? Nicholas McPeters? Is your wife Lucy there by any chance? Or Bobbie? No, thanks anyway." He hung up and looked at Scully.

"They're not there but he is," she said.

"The man at the air base may be Nicholas McPeters, but he's not the same man as Lucy's husband. Or Lucy's supposed husband in Reno," Mulder said, fire in his eyes.

The officer whom they'd frightened stopped back by the door. "Agents Mulder and Scully?" he asked and they looked up at him. "Seems Dick Harris left a message for you before he went. Says there's been another victim, and for you to meet him at the Air Base. There'll be entry passes waiting for you at the main gate checkpoint." The officer moved on without giving them a chance to respond.

"This is it, Scully," Mulder said, excited, seizing her hand and squeezing it hard. She nodded as she smiled and looked up into his eyes for perhaps a moment too long. Tension sparked between them before Mulder jerked her hand and pulled away, dragging her at a fast pace toward the door to the station.

"Mulder, shouldn't we find out what happened to our car?" she asked.

"Later," he dismissed her. "We've got to strike now. Harris knows we're on to him; they're probably disposing of the evidence while we speak."

"And what if it's a trap?" Scully pointed out, straightforward, holding him back and making him look at her.

A slight grin crossed his face. "Then I'd hate to disappoint," he said, and they continued on their way as quickly as they could manage.

Nellis Air Force Base and Nuclear Test Site
Same Day
4:24 PM

After getting a change of clothing, food and a new car they sped to the base, Mulder is one hell of a driver, Scully thought holding the dashboard as she looked out into the desert in front of her. They pulled into the front gate and were handed two ID badges giving them level four clearance. Mulder asked what top clearance was, the man at the gate said it was classified. This made Mulder laugh.

They drove to the hanger that the map that was left for them told them to drive to. It was old, it looked abandoned. The hanger number hung loosely on it's rusted hinges, '51' the sign read. Mulder parked the car in front of it and they walked to a door on the side of the huge hanger.

The door opened easily and they stepped into a small office, not something Mulder or Scully expected, they had expected to be thrust into a large room, but this room was small, brightly lit. Harris sat at a desk in the far corner of the room. He looked at them, not seeming surprised that they looked like they'd been to hell and beyond.

"Sit!" he commanded.

Mulder retorted, "Why the hell should I?"

"You won't get what you want if you don't."

"How do I know that what you're about to tell us isn't a lie? Why should I believe you?"

"Who not?"

"Because you sent someone to kill Danny, you didn't send him the names to trace. Because you ordered us abducted and then left us in the desert to die, just like you did to Devon, Henry and Lucy. Because you ordered a hitman to burn the body of Henry, to take the implant from Devon and to get rid of Lucy."

"Those are wild accusations you're making, you better have some damned good evidence to support it."

Mulder sat in the chair and Scully sat next to him, looking at him unsure. Harris smiled at them as they sat, he waited for them to relax, but they didn't.

"Where are Lucy, and Bobbie?" Scully asked, still looking apprehensively at Mulder.

"Lucy is with her husband, in a house, on this base. So is Bobbie, so is his sister."

"Are you sure they're not being experimented on in another hanger like this one." Mulder told him, unable to keep the pernicious tone out of his voice.

"No, Mister Mulder, nothing of the sort is happening on this base, or has ever happened on this base."

"Then they're on some spaceship somewhere in the sky."

"You sure are adamant about your beliefs."

Mulder smiled at the man. Scully looked at Harris, the worry written on her face. He turned his attention to her, the smile on his face changing, to one of lust, desire. Mulder stood up and blocked Harris's view of her.

"You asked us to meet you here, now we came, what did you want us here for." Mulder asked feeling superior now that he was standing over Harris.

Harris stood and crossed the room to a door on the other side of the door they came in. "What you want is here, I'm only showing it to you so that you'll be happy, content."

Mulder walked over to the door and Scully followed him. They walked through and looked at the huge bomber that sat in the hanger. It filled most of the room and was as dark as night.

"This is what you've seen all those times, it was just a coincidence that it was over the people near the time of their tragedies. Devon was having hallucinations induced by the heat, LucyLee was raped by her husband from Reno and Henry was drunk as a skunk. None of them saw a UFO, none of them were abducted, they saw this and passed out."

Mulder turned from the man and walked back out to the car. Scully turned and followed, not really sure what the hell was going on. As she got to the door to the outside Harris gripped her arm,

"You believe me, don't you? Tell him this is the rational explanation to everything. If he doesn't believe me, he'll believe you." He winked and let go of her arm. She stood still for a moment, then she heard Mulder call her name and she turned to him. She got in the car and Mulder drove them off the base.

"He's covering it up Scully," he told her once they were five miles away.

"Why would he?"

"He didn't actually give an alibi for any of the things that I told him, he only offered an explanation for what happened and it's all BS. I don't know how he'd expect me to just leave, believing that."

"You have no evidence to the contrary." He looked out the window and noticed that Mulder wasn't on the same road that led back to Dyer. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going to see if Lucy's home."

"Mulder, she's at the base."

"I doubt it."

He drove, silent, clenching his jaw, all the way to Lucy's house. He parked the car in front and saw Bobbie run to them. He smiled as he looked in the window of the car, his hands leaving greasy stains on the dust covered window. They got out of the car and Mulder ruffled Bobbie's hair.

"Whatcha doin' here?" Bobbie asked, looking from Mulder to Scully. He saw their sunburnt faces and immediately asked, "What happened to you?"

Mulder answered, "We got stuck out in the sun, we got lost." Bobbie smiled, his face saying, 'Stupid'. Mulder then added, "Bobbie, where's your mom?"

"She's inside."

"Can you get her for me?"

"Sure." And he was gone, inside the house. He came out, holding his mother by the hand.

"Mrs. McPeters?" Scully asked at the void looking woman.

"Yes, may I help you?"

"Lucy, why didn't you tell us your husband worked for the Military? That he worked on the Nellis Air Force Base?"

"You must be mistaken, my husband's a truck driver, he's in Colorado right now, he won't be back for a few weeks." She looked at them a little confused as they looked at each other with faces of confusion.

"Thank you Lucy." She walked back into the house and Bobbie came out of the trailer with an X-Men toy. He looked up at them.

Scully bent down and looked at the boy, "Bobbie, what does your father do? Where is he?"

Bobbie looked at her perplexed, "I told you a few days ago, he's a truck driver, he's at the Grand Canyon now, he wrote me and told me that he bought me a shirt last week!" He smiled now, obviously glad of the fact.

Mulder looked at Scully and she continued to look at the boy. "Bobbie, where's your sister?"

"I don't have a sister." His face fell, "She died last year in a car accident."

Scully stood and Bobbie looked at them both before running to play with some other toys piled in the yard of the house. Mulder watched the boy for a moment and then he told Scully,

"Something weird is definitely going on here."

"*What's* going on here?" She was more confused every minute. "First they tell us that what you thought happened, never happened, then Lucy and Bobbie change their stories on us?"

"Scully, they took their memories. So they wouldn't remember the abductions. They can't kill them, like Devon and Henry because this is the family of a military man whose got some connection with all the abductions, with the alien crafts."


"Scully, when they took Samantha, it was an incentive so my father wouldn't tell the secrets he knew about aliens. They wouldn't hurt the rest of my family."

"You think the same thing is going on here? With this family?"

"I think they abduct them so that Nicholas won't expose their secrets, but they swipe their memories and put them back because if they're hurt, not that he knows that they're being hurt anyway, he won't talk. But just the frightening thought of it keeps him quiet."

"Mulder, are you sure you haven't been out in the desert too long?" Scully put her hand at her waist.

"Scully, I want to go back to the base."

"We can't, they'll be expecting us to go back to the base to prove them wrong, I say we go back to out motel and come back tomorrow night."

He looked at her tired face and suddenly felt tired himself. She was right, they would be expecting them to go back. If they went back they would get caught. He nodded to her in agreement and then went back to the car.

Green Moon Motel
Sept. 22
12:03 AM

Scully lay awake in bed, her head not hurting, but her body sore, too sore to sleep. She had reminded Mulder to put more Neosporin on his thigh, he offered her the tube to do the honors but she only whacked his shoulder and went into her room.

She watched the shadows play games on her wall and began to think about the case. This was definitely an odd one. It seemed to be crafted by a young writer on their way to one dead end.

She sighed loudly and wondered if what Harris was saying was true, it could be. Some of it anyway. The only thing that didn't seem to fit was what she had experienced for herself. The bright light, the missing time. She didn't know what to make of that, or how she might have imagined it, if she did imagine it.

A light began to shine in her room and she froze in bed. It grew brighter and brighter until she shut her eyes, not wanting to see what was going to happen.

Her room went dark.

She opened her eyes and looked around her. She looked at herself, nothing had changed. Then she heard the car screeching and took a deep breath and reminded herself that she was still in the real world. Where science dominated. Nothing had happened to her, in was only a car pulling slowly out of the parking lot to race down the unpoliced street in front.

But she hadn't noticed the time.

She had lost an three hours.

Green Moon Motel
Sept. 22
12:03 am

Mulder lay on his bed, staring idly out the window, unable to sleep. He kept turning the facts of the case over and over in his mind, but no answers presented themselves to him. It was all too confusing.

A sudden light filled his room, blinding him. Mulder squinted as he sat up in time to see a big, boxy black car pull into the parking lot. As the driver doused his headlights, the room around Mulder went dark, but he didn't lie back down.

A moment later, there was a soft knock at the door to his motel room. He frowned. He'd been half-expecting the driver of the car to come and pound on his door, but this sounded more like Scully's knock, designed specifically not to awaken everyone else in the motel. Mulder got up from the bed and headed for the door, not bothering to grab his T-shirt and pull it over his head.

He wondered what Scully could want from him in the middle of the night, and opened the door.

It wasn't Scully. A man stood there, wearing a dark suit and a hat pulled low over his eyes. He brushed past Mulder and entered the motel room without a word. As though in a trance, Mulder closed the door behind his uninvited guest.

"If you tell anyone about this, you're a dead man," the man in black informed him. Mulder nodded. "You don't know anything about what's going on here. You saw nothing."

"I saw nothing," echoed Mulder.

"Good," said the man in the black suit. "Now what are you going to do?"

Mulder answered without hesitation. "I'm going to get some ice." He picked up the plastic ice bucket on his way out of the room. A few moments later, when he returned, the man in the black suit was gone. Mulder closed the door and locked it, and put the safety chain on. Then he walked to the window and looked out. The car was gone, too.

Shaking his head, he got into bed. "What the hell was that all about?" he asked, pulling the covers up over himself and closing his eyes.

Because he then had no trouble going to sleep, he didn't notice the clock now read 3:06 am.

Green Moon Motel
The next morning
9:14 am

"What's this?" asked Scully as she strode into Mulder's room the next morning, gently tapping the water-filled plastic ice bucket on the dresser as she passed it.

"It's a long story," Mulder answered evasively and she opened her mouth to try to argue more facts out of him. "And I haven't quite figured out what it means yet," he continued. "You're up kind of late, aren't you? How's your head?" His heart thudded dully in his chest. Oh hell, he thought, I forgot I was supposed to check on her every two hours like the nurse said. He'd endangered her life again, he thought guiltily.

"It's fine," Scully said predictably and shrugged. "I overslept. I woke up convinced it was six AM, and it was really nine. It was like I lost three hours in there somewhere." A chill went through her as she heard what she'd said. She tried to control it, but Mulder didn't notice it anyway.

"That's OK, I had the strangest dream about Alex Trebek," he joked and she gave him that Scully-look he'd been aiming for. "What are you up to today?"

"I have a couple of things I'd like to check on at the police station," said Scully.

"Watch out for Agent Dick," Mulder warned her.

She frowned at him. "Where are you going to be?"

"I have an errand or two to run." He felt terrible for lying to her, but it was the only way. She'd never let him go otherwise, and he wanted her to be safe.

Scully jumped to her feet. "Mulder, you are not going back to the base and breaking in broad daylight!"

"Right," he nodded, easygoing.

Her frown deepened as she met his eyes, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. She gave him a very intense look that he could feel all the way through his body and then nodded. "Be careful," she ordered and he could see her concern for him in her eyes. In different ways that he didn't like to dwell on, he both liked and hated seeing that little spark of worry in her eyes.

"I will," he promised and he had the sudden urge to peck a tiny kiss on her cheek to reassure her. It was hard to fight, but somehow he managed it.

Dyer Police Station
the same day
9:53 AM

Scully couldn't allow herself to think about what Mulder was up to, because then she'd be so busy worrying about him and what she was going to have do to save his ass this time that she'd never be able to get her work done. She knew Mulder would tell her what he'd done that evening, when the time was right, probably over pizza and sodas in his motel room. She'd just have to trust him until then.

She returned her attention to the folder that was open in front of her and reread its contents carefully. She caught a young officer as she was walking by. "Is this all there is to this file?" she asked the officer.

"Yes, ma'am," the young woman answered her.

"You're the only female officer here, aren't you?" Scully asked, thinking.

"I am. The first female officer on the Dyer force, ever. I transferred in about three months ago."

"Then you were probably the one who took care of Mrs. McPeters after her rape," Scully said.

The young officer's eyebrows drew together. "Mrs. McPeters wasn't raped. She was a little bruised and shaken, and her clothes were torn, but there was no evidence of sexual assault."

"So that's why no doctor was called," said Scully, and the young officer nodded. And why I can't find any record of it happening in this file, she thought. "What did happen to Mrs. McPeters?"

"Her statement is there," insisted the officer and Scully could see fear in her exotically slanted brown eyes. She took a step backwards and an excuse began forming on her lips.

Scully grabbed the woman's wrist and held her. "I want to know what you think."

"I think Mrs. McPeters suffered an emotional trauma. She was very confused and upset. Perhaps it was an armed robber trying to gain entry." The officer's words were all carefully chosen and emphasized. "I doubt we'll ever know for certain."

Scully nodded and released the officer's arm and watched the woman practically run into the other room. She closed the file. It wouldn't be of any use to her. This case was so frustrating, she thought angrily. It certainly wasn't so simple as she'd originally believed. But she did know one thing: LucyLee McPeters may have been abducted and experimented on, but she had not been sexually assaulted.

For some reason the fact was comforting to Scully.

A hand clamped down on her shoulder and she jumped, drawing in a sharp breath. "Sorry, didn't mean to frighten ya," said Dick Harris in his affable manner that Scully found more offensive every time she encountered him.

She looked up at the man's roundish face and his ridiculous buzz haircut and couldn't keep her gaze from turning to a slight glare as he didn't remove his hand from her arm. "Did you want something?" she demanded. His eyes slid down to the open first button of her blouse and she fought the urge to knock him to the floor. Unfortunate phrasing, she told herself.

"Just wanted to make sure you had everything you needed."

"Did anyone attempt to contact Mrs. McPeters' daughter Belinda in Reno to substantiate the claim that her husband was the one who scared her?" asked Scully.

"I believe the girl was nowhere to be found," drawled Dick. His hand seemed to grow heavier and heavier on Scully's shoulder.

"But she is alive?" Scully asked.

"Why wouldn't she be -" Dick stopped himself, as though remembering something. Like the story that was forcefed to Lucy and Bobbie, thought Scully angrily. "Why wouldn't she be?" he asked again, to make it sound more like a question, to cover.

"I'd like to speak to her." said Scully and glared at Dick. For a moment it seemed he was glaring back.

Then the young female officer approached them both. "Agent Harris?" she said, blatantly ignoring Scully. He turned without removing his hand and Scully was about ready to gag at his prolonged touch. "There's been another...victim. We found a young girl wandering in the desert. She doesn't have any ID and she doesn't seem to remember who she is. The ambulance guys who picked her up said you might know, since you've been in town longer than just about anyone. She's about five-six, dark hair and eyes-"

Something turned over in Scully's stomach as a sudden image of Mulder's sister Samantha filled her mind. But she knew that was impossible.

"Well what do you know, Agent Scully?" said Dick. "That sounds like Belinda McPeters." Scully muttered a curse under her breath. "Let's go."

Finally, she thought as he removed his hand from her body. She got to her feet. "I have my own vehicle, Agent Harris, thank you anyway," Scully said primly, seizing her briefcase and heading for the door.

Dick Harris was not far behind her, so it was only a few seconds later than he emerged into the hot morning sun and saw Scully frowning down at the slashed tires on the rental car. "Damned shame," he said mildly, "I'll give you a ride."

Scully had no choice but to accept.

Nellis Air Force Base
the same day
10:10 AM

Mulder let the car roll to a gentle stop mere inches from the red and white striped gate. Two of the uniformed guards jumped out of the way and he smirked at the satisfiedly. He worked for the government, but he that didn't mean he had any sort of trust in military or government types. He'd seen too much. He knew better.

He rolled down the window and smiled amicably at the bulldog faced guard in the tiny booth. "Name?" the man demanded.

"I'm Fox Mulder. Nicholas McPeters should be expecting me," he said. And he'd better have a damned good explanation for why he pulled that stupid MIB routine on me last night, Mulder thought.

"Yes, sir, you're on the list, sir." The man slapped a sticker onto the windshield of the car and tossed a badge at Mulder. "Straight through there. It's building 18 you want. And remember there are armed guards in the watchtower to make sure you go directly there and come directly back," he warned. Irritated, Mulder removed his foot from the brake and rolled even closer to the gate blocking his way. The man raised it with the punch of a button and called, "Drive carefully!" after Mulder.

He floored it and headed for building 18 as fast as he could.

Good Samaritan Hospital
25 miles outside of Dyer
Same day
10:10 AM

Scully spent the trip staring out the window as she had been with Mulder only a three days before. They weren't any further than they had been on that day, but it seemed they had taken a step backwards. The stories of the two remaining 'abductees' had changed, Harris had taken an odd attitude towards everything. Scully couldn't sleep; Mulder couldn't think.

A deadly combination.

Scully opened her door before the car was fully parked and almost ran into the hospital just to be away from Harris. She now knew why Mulder hated him when they first entered this town.

She immediately recognized the nurse at the front desk and the nurse immediately recognized her. At first thinking maybe she was having some kind of problem she was relieved when Scully pulled her badge and asked,

"There was a girl brought in here early this morning, from the desert, can you tell me what room number she's in?"

"She's in 135, but she's not speaking coherently, poor thing's dehydrated. I doubt you'll get anything you need out of her."

"If I don't get anything out of her it won't be because of dehydration." Scully muttered as she walked to the room, ahead of Harris.

She opened the door and saw the girl laying in bed with tubes in her arms and around her face. One an IV for nourishment she was obviously lacking and one for oxygen she didn't seem to want. She was crying. Scully turned to Harris and stopped him before he entered the room with a hand on his chest, ignoring the look he was giving her.

"Dick," She said, echoing Mulder, "Can I speak with her first? Alone?"

"Why would you want to do that?"

"If this is Belinda, you've probably known her since she was a child, you might have an effect on her answering my questions." She released him, not wanting to encourage him.

He hesitated and then nodded, turning to sit in a chair ten feet from the room.

Scully walked back into the room and stood next to the bed. The girl looked up at her with scared eyes and whispered in a voice hardly audible,

"No. More. Tests." Each word pronunciated with an entire breath. She turned her face from Scully and looked at the window at the pigeon that had landed. It pecked at the window twice before flying away.

"What do you mean by that?" Scully sat in the chair next to her bed.

"It hurts too much, no more."

"I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to ask you a few questions and then I'll leave you alone."

"Knew too much."

"You?" The girl nodded. "Are you Belinda McPeters?" She nodded again. "Belinda can you tell me what happened?"

"I can't remember it all."

"Who took you?"

"I don't know."

"How long have you been missing? What's the last date you remember?"

"June fourteenth 1994. It was my graduation. That night, I went to bed and I woke up this morning."

Scully's stomach flopped at the thought of missing two years. It was bad enough missing three months, but two years... She blocked the thought out of her mind.

"What did you mean by, knowing too much?"

"I was at the base, with my boyfriend, prom night, and I saw what they had, I saw the thing they're keeping there. I told Brad to get the hell out of there, but he didn't want to..." A tear slipped silently down her left cheek.

"What happened?"

"They caught us. This man, he caught us and they took us to the base, I watched them erase Brad's memory of the entire night, they made him think that he was at home sick. They told me that if I talked the same would happen to me."

"Why did they take you again?"

"Because they found out that I was Nick's daughter. They didn't want him to expose what had happened."

Mulder had been right. But why had they returned her? Scully sat back in her chair and began to think, but it seemed that nothing would come to her. She hoped Mulder would find out what happened, why Belinda had been returned.

"Have I met you before?" Belinda asked.

Scully looked up sharply at her, the last time she had been told that she was with those MUFON women. They had told her that everything from her abduction would come back, in dreams. That she would remember. She didn't answer Belinda, but recognition clicked on the girls face.

"I have seen you, in the bright room, not too long ago. I remember. You and a man. Tall, with such sad eyes. You were put in a room and I saw them put you there. He was holding you, trying to comfort you, you were scared. Don't you remember?" She looked happy to be remembering things from her abduction. Scully stood and Belinda could tell that she wasn't the least bit happy to be hearing this.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"You will." She answered before the rhythm of her heart speeded up and then stopped.

Building 18
Same Day
10:17 AM

Mulder drove his car up to the large building. It looked like the hanger he had been in with Harris. His thought suddenly went to Scully, Mulder hoped Harris wasn't going to try anything with her. He would have to kill Harris.

He got out of the car and entered the building through the side door, into the office he knew would be there. He saw a man sitting in the chair looking up at him. It wasn't Nick, it was another man of a higher rank. Bigger than Nick had been, but he did not look anywhere near as intimidating.

"Have a seat." The man said.

"Where's Nicholas McPeters, I want to speak to him."

"Nicholas had an unfortunate accident this morning."

"Did he trip over his hunting rifle?" Mulder asked sarcastically knowing that they had murdered Nick so he wouldn't be able to talk to him.

"Actually, he got into a horrible car accident, he was decapitated when his car hit a tree." He looked at Mulder's untrusting face. "You can see the body if you'd like."

"That won't be necessary, I'm sure you want to get rid of the body as soon as possible."

"So, what was it you came here to talk to him about. I'm sure I could answer your questions."

"No, I don't think you can." He shifted in the chair, trying to get comfortable.

"Try me."

"Where are you hiding the UFO and why are you abducting people?" The man shot him an angry look.

"We don't have a UFO and we are not abducting people."

"That's what I thought." He answered. Then he looked at the door leading to the hanger.

"What did you expect to find out there?" The man asked.

"Maybe nothing, maybe nothing." He looked at the man noticing that he had no tag. Mulder stood and put out a hand, "It was nice talking to you, but I have to get back to my motel room, catch up on some missing sleep Mr..."

He didn't answer. He didn't shake his hand. He just looked to the door and watched Mulder leave.

Good Samaritan Hospital
11:00 AM

They tried hard to revive her, but it didn't work. All their collective efforts failed. Scully was tired and her hand was covered with blood, Belinda's nose had begun to bleed and hadn't stopped until three minutes before someone called,

"Time of death, 10:55."

She went to the bathroom, ignoring Harris's calls. She had to wash her hand and try to figure out what the hell Belinda had been talking about. Was she telling her where she had been, after that light in the car, after she had fought with Mulder. Or had she just conjured the image up in the bed. Or had it been implanted to make her tell Scully, to tell Mulder and send them off in the wrong direction.

She was too confused now. Why did hypnosis have to be brought into the case. It's hard enough to fight Mulder with alien abduction and UFO's, but to add in hypnosis is evil. Pure evil. She remembered the last time their case involved hypnosis. No one could get a story that sounded like another and when they finally did they had to wonder if it had been planted there too.

She sighed loudly in the women's bathroom and scrubbed harder on the drying blood. She had to get it off. She felt like it was invading her body, eating at her. Why was this affecting her so? It's just blood, she had seen blood in her autopsies, in their cases. All over the place.

Walking over to the paper dispenser she could feel liquid running down her nose, onto her lip and then down her chin. She gasped and moved back to see herself in the mirror.

"What the hell?" She screamed, glad that the room had been empty. It stopped, but she had blood running down her face, some had fallen on her chest.

Scully cleaned her face off, throwing water on her face, washing off her makeup with it. She didn't care, she never needed makeup, she only wore it for M... No, she wore it for her job, to look professional. Looking up at herself, she grinned at her natural appearance, her cheeks red from the sun. If this case didn't give her anything else, it would give her a tan.

Throwing away the paper she wiped her face with, she walked out of the bathroom and into the sun. Harris was already inside the car. He saw her get out and he turned the car on and unlocked the doors so she could get in.

She opened the door and sat down, buckling her seat belt, and looked at the dashboard, not wanting to look at him. He repulsed her. When Belinda's heart had stopped he only looked at her, no emotion in his eyes, like he didn't care that she was dying. But he watched Scully with enthusiasm as she desperately tried to save her life.

They pulled out of the parking lot and Scully saw that they weren't driving to Dyer, the were driving in almost the opposite direction.

"Where are we going?" she asked, uneasiness seeming into her tone.

He ignored the question. "What happened to you?" He pointed to the blood on her chest with a finger and she jumped away. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." She tried to remain calm. Somehow she was afraid this man would hurt her. She wanted Mulder, now. She needed him to be in the car to stop this. Or at least so she could sit in the back seat, like she usually did when there were more than two people in the car.

"What happened to you?" he asked again.

"It's Belinda's," she lied.

He saw a small dot of blood on the edge of her nose. It was a drop that had come down, last minute and Scully hadn't noticed it. He smiled. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye and saw the smile that played on his lips and she looked out the window.

"Are you going to ignore me the whole trip?" He put a hand on her knee.

"Yes, I am." She moved his hand.

His smile grew and he felt something boiling inside him. He stopped smiling and thought quickly, 'I'm not supposed to be feeling this.' He looked up at the sky, wondering if they were monitoring his behavior, waiting for him to slip up. He had held in what he wanted to do for too long with her to mess up now. Her cell phone rang and she pulled it out of her pocket.

"Scully," she answered into the small phone.

"Hey, it's me." It was Mulder. She was a bit relieved.

"Where are you?" she asked.

"I'm at the motel, I just got back from the base. Guess what, Nicholas McPeters got himself into a car crash, he's dead. They're trying hard to cover this up Scully."

"Well, guess what, Belinda McPeters was found this morning walking around the desert. I talked to her before she died..."

"She's dead?"

"Yeah, I don't know why, her heart just stopped."

"What did she tell you?"

She hesitated.

"Scully?" he asked, worried.

"Yeah, she told me that she saw something at the base on prom night, with her boyfriend and they took her and they erased her boyfriend memory to show her what could happen if she told."

"Why did they take her again, and for so long?"

"You were right. It was to shut Mr. McPeters up. They didn't want the man to expose what they were trying to hide so they took her as collateral."

"But why would they take Bobbie and Lucy too?"

"And why Devon and Henry?"

"And us."

She stayed silent.

"Scully, we've seen evidence of the government working with intelligent beings from outer space."

"So, you think they're working together?"

"Trading people for technology," he said matter-of-factly.

She licked her lips. "Mulder, Belinda told me that she saw us. In a bright room, not too long ago. Do you think it's possible?"

"It may be. We did experience missing time."

"But if they didn't want us to investigate any further, why did they return us? Why didn't they kill us like they killed Henry or Belinda. Heart attacks or noseblee..." She stopped suddenly putting a hand to her mouth.

"What is it Scully?" Mulder asked, gripping his cell phone. "Scully?"

"Yeah?" She answered, he noticed her voice waver.

"Scully, where's Harris?"

"He's right here."


"We're in a car. He says we're going to the base." She looked up at him and he nodded.

"Ask him why."

Scully looked up at Harris, who was watching the road and she asked, "Harris, why are we going to the base?"

Harris looked at her and only smiled.

"I don't know, Mulder," she said into the phone.

"He won't tell you."


"Scully. Tell him to turn around and drive you back into town, that I have to talk to you."

Scully looked out of the window, the cell phone was full of static and she couldn't hear him. She hadn't even noticed Harris stopped the car.

"Mulder? I'm losing you."

"What's going on?"

Scully covered her other ear with her hand and her face contorted, trying hard to understand what he was saying. She heard, 'going on' but missed the first word. She didn't look at Harris as he drew a bottle from his pocket and a handkerchief from the other.

It was time.

He leaned over and pulled her against his chest placing the soaked handkerchief over her nose and mouth. She only got one good gasp into the phone before it fell out of her right hand when his arm came around it, holding it in place. She tried to use her left to claw at his face but she felt consciousness leave her. Her eyelids fell heavily and she stopped moving, her breathing slowed and Harris dropped her in his lap and found the phone.

Mulder stood in his motel room, his eyes opened wide with her gasp. He heard her slapping something, Harris, and he heard her foot break the glass of the window. He couldn't speak. Words had left him, the air had left him, he couldn't breathe. He heard a click and then heard the car screech off. Harris had thrown the phone out of the window. His cell phone fell from his hand and Mulder felt his heart leap out of his throat.

Harris stared down at Scully laying in his lap. Her face pale; her hair wild. He smiled at the thought of what he wanted to do to her, but a startling pain jolted his head and he remembered where he was supposed to take her. He floored the gas pedal and looked ahead of him, determined to get her to the final destination.

Mulder was trembling violently as he sank down on the motel bed, his eyes unfocused, unseeing. It had happened again. He'd let it happen to her again. Scully was gone. And this time, no one was squeamish about the killing.

Tears flooded his eyes and ran unimpeded down his face as images filled his head. Images of Scully, his beautiful partner, who was always there for him no matter how many times he let her down, whom he loved unconditionally. Lying on his motel bed in her bathrobe, her hair long and curly as she became the first person he'd ever trusted with the facts about the sister he'd lost. Putting on a brave face before dissolving into sobs, the one and only time he'd ever seen his courageous partner cry, as he held her tight in his arms after Donnie Pfaster almost killed her. Lying in a hospital bed, a whisper away from death...

All because of him.

"No!" Mulder cried, breathing hard, and suddenly he could hear the thudding of his heart loud in his ears, the sound of precious time passing. Maybe it wasn't too late. He jumped up from the bed and grabbed his cell phone from the floor. In case she tried to call.

Someone pounded on his door. Mulder's heart beat faster, a vision of a black suited hit squad burning into his brain. He drew his gun and flung open the door.

A very thin, fragile looking young woman stood there. When the door opened, she looked up at him with wide, dark eyes and his heart missed a beat, his knees going weak. Mulder struggled to breathe. It wasn't Samantha, this was not some sort of a trade, Scully for his sister. No way. Never, he told himself, clinging to that reality.

"You've got to help me. They'll kill me," she cried as she flung herself against him.

Mulder pried the girl away from him and aimed his pistol at her head. "I don't have time for this. Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?"

"I'm Belinda McPeters," she said, frowning. "You've got to help me, please."

"Belinda's dead," Mulder told her.

"No," she said, "That wasn't Belinda, not really."

"I don't care," Mulder informed her and shoved her out of his way. He unlocked the door to the car and got in.

The girl ran over to it and pounded on the window, tears streaming down her face as she screamed at him, "You've got to protect me! You're the only one who can! They'll kill me because I know the truth, I know what's going on in this town!"

Mulder glanced at her as he threw the car into reverse. She knew all of the right buttons to push and he hesitated for a second. He leaned across the wide body of the car and unlocked the other door for her to get in. It probably wouldn't hurt for him to question her while he drove out to the base.

But it was too late. He saw the bright red blood bubble from the clean wound in her forehead before he even heard the shot. Mulder slammed on the gas and pealed out of the parking lot before the young woman hit the ground.

That's Scully if you don't hurry, he told himself as he watched the speedometer push past seventy...seventy five...eighty... He pulled his pistol in closer to him on the other seat, caressing the cold steel of its barrel for a moment as he saw in his mind Scully lying dead somewhere, an image not unfamiliar to him. The tiny fear that nagged at him always had grown almost overpowering in recent months as he'd realized he could not, _would not_, live without her.

He could still feel the icy metal against his temple, where he'd placed it as an alternative to shooting her when Robert Patrick Modell was controlling his mind. Could still see her body on the slab in those seconds before he recognized it wasn't her when she'd run away during the crazy cable case.

There was a tape in the cassette player and the woman's voice began to burn through his morbid thoughts as he pushed the car to move even faster on the empty road. "Are you scared of your feelings or are you a solitary man? You say you live for danger, or were you acting cool? Leap in the dark and care for this suicidal fool..."*

It was Scully's tape and the words to the song made his chest ache. He jabbed at the eject button and the tape stuck. He hit the button again and the tape came out reluctantly. He pulled it from the player violently and strings of brown tape trailed, still wound in the wheels of the machine as tapes do when they've been listened to one too many times. Mulder dropped the tape on the seat next to the gun. He couldn't be bothered with it anymore.

He was too busy thinking about the Belinda who'd come to his room and the Belinda who Scully had said was dead in the hospital and the Belinda who Bobbie had said died two years ago. He was thinking about all the different stories he'd heard from Lucy and Bobbie - one of abandonment and abuse, one of a military husband, one of a truck driver husband. How many times could the human memory be erased and rewritten before it simply gave way like an old cassette tape? He felt ill at the thought. This was something that wasn't in nature's plan, it wasn't supposed to happen ever. To do it two or three times had to be extremely dangerous.

He struggled for a deep breath. And what about abductees and others who had their memories altered, erased, but not rewritten? No one knew, really, how memory functioned. Was that safer? Mulder wished he knew, and he drove faster.

heading towards Dyer
11:45 AM

Dick Harris was alone in the car as it cut a dirt trail through the desert on the way back to Dyer. He was almost there. He was hot, tired, and filthy. He was looking forward to a shower and clean clothes when he got back to town, before settling in behind his desk in the nice, air conditioned police department.

But he had to stop the car.

He stumbled out, leaving the car door open and fell hard to the ground. He crawled a few feet, babbling mindlessly to himself before he began to scream for help. An incredible pain filled his head and blood gushed from his nose. Dick Harris looked up at the sky, directly at the sun, letting it sear his eyes with its brightness and intensity.

And then he shot himself once in the head.

Road to Nellis AFB
11:45 AM

Mulder drove on. He could see the base now. He would be there in a few minutes. He'd seen nothing along the road to indicate trouble. He put his gun back into its holster. Scully would be at the base, and she would be alive.

She had to be.

Coroner's Temporary Facility
11:45 AM

Mike sighed and unwrapped his ham and cheese sandwich with one gloved hand as he made the preliminary incision into the Jane Doe's body with the other. This is why I got out of the city, he thought to himself, irritated. He hated this kind of busy day, having to work through lunch. It hadn't been all that uncommon in his last gig, but it wouldn't happen in a quiet desert town, or so he'd thought.

Now he had more bodies piled up in three days than he usually saw in six months. All of suspicious causes. The fire that had gutted his former offices didn't help. With the building had gone the freezer space, and it was hot outside. He had to process these bodies and get them in the ground, and fast.

Mike took another bite of the sandwich and then cursed loudly. In his rush and his carelessness, his other hand had slipped and he'd cut himself. His blood appeared through the slit in the rubber glove and mingled with the dead woman's blood staining the outside of his glove.

Mike dropped the sandwich and ran to the sink, scrubbing with the strong soap provided for just such emergencies. But it was already too late.

Dinah's Drugs and Ice Cream Counter
five minutes later

The two elderly ladies at the counter enjoying ice cream daiquiris fell into silence as the glass door to the tiny shop opened. Dinah, the proprietor, also stopped, midsentence, to stare in wide-eyed horror at the man who'd flung open the plate glass door.

Dressed in loose blue cotton pants and shirt, Mike Waters was covered with blood. Only some of it was his own. He held up his left hand and blood oozed from a cut on his finger in a line down his hand and wrist. In his other hand, he held a knife. It was slightly larger than a kitchen knife, and it, too, had blood on it. A lot of blood.

One of the two ladies, Miss Sarah Ann Clements, age seventy six, sank dead to the white linoleum floor when Mike moved out of the doorway and she saw the bodies of three people he'd slaughtered on the sidewalk. Her heart had always been weak.

"Do you feel it?" Mike demanded, his eyes wild, "Do you feel the fever in your blood?"

Mike repeated the words while murdering Dinah and the other elderly lady. He didn't even glance twice at the drawer of the cash register, which was hanging open. He shed no tears as he looked down at their bodies, but he felt a trickle of moisture on his face. The ice cream counter faced a mirror and he looked up. Blood was coming from his nose, but that wasn't what he saw. When Mike looked into the mirror, he came back to himself and saw what he'd done. He remembered the voice that had appeared in his mind and the accompanying pain radiating from the front of his face between his eyes. Sickened and fearing for his own sanity, as he thought he'd been controlled by some higher power, perhaps a power not even from this world, Mike grasped the knife in his slick hands and used it on his own wrists.

Office of the Mayor
the same day
12:13 PM

"I want this town cleaned out by sundown," the tall, thin man in the dark suit ordered the mayor of Dyer. "You know and I know that there's a biological hazard in this town, that's it's been a time bomb ticking and waiting to go off up till now."

"And now?" asked the mayor, a thick-necked, red-faced man who made up for his lack of real intelligence in the way he sincerely cared about his community.

"Now," said the man, taking a deep drag on his cigarette before looking the mayor in the eye, "The alarm has gone off. This has gone beyond a few nuts getting lost in the desert and thinking they've seen UFOs. There are people lying dead on the sidewalks of your fair city. If you don't act now, you'll be joining them. 'What a shame,' is what the people from the Center for Disease Control say when they arrive to contain the biohazard. And do you know what they'll find?" he asked. His light blue eyes were menacing when highlighted by the thin tendrils of smoke wafting upwards from the cigarette.

"W-what?" asked the mayor.

"A terrible, mysterious organism that infects the blood and induces severe dementia. They'll discover with little investigation that it originated in the blood of the small plains animals in the area, and was transmitted to humans who participated in blood drinking rituals here in Dyer," the man explained calmly.

"That's impossible," claimed the mayor.

"Is it?" asked the man, puffing away on his cigarette.

"What about those two FBI agents that came to town?"

"I'll take care of them." The man moved from his spot behind the mayor near the window and went slowly towards the door. "Sundown's at six. This town will be cleared by then - your way, or my way. It's your choice," he said coldly and then exited the room.

Location Unknown It was bright.

Too bright to open her eyes. The light was so intense that she could see through her eyelids, she could see the silhouettes of the men, if that was what they were. The lights dimmed and she felt the pain.

It started at the back of her neck and shot down to her feet, into her toes, making the hair on her body rise on end. She winced, but it was difficult, her body felt as if it were slowly going to sleep. She felt two thin probes enter her nose. She felt, rather than heard, the crunch as the probes found their destination. She felt a pull and something was removed.

Tears fell down her cheeks and she tried to whimper, but no sound left her throat. A long, smooth, finger ran up the length of her face and took away the tears. The hand landed on her forehead and she felt it smooth her hair back and then it landed on her forehead again.

In her head the voice penetrated her thoughts. She froze when she heard it. There was no mistaking it, it was Mulder. But it couldn't have been him.

"Do not be afraid. We are trying to help you. We are trying to undo the harm that the 'other' humans have caused you. You will be home soon, with nothing to harm you."

She found words, she couldn't say them, only think them, but the being understood. He could read her mind.

"Why are you hurting me?"

"They put something in you. Something to kill you when they wanted to. We are taking it out."


"We did not agree with this usage of our technology."

A million questions went through her head at one moment, startling the being. His hand fell from her head for a moment and then held her hand.

"Why are you Mulder?"

"We knew this was the only voice that would calm you."

"How do you know?"

"We just knew."

She heard the phase echoed by other beings, in other room, in the same room. Or maybe just in her imagination. She opened her eyes for a moment and saw it. It was everything Mulder said it would be. Big eyes, small mouth, no nose. It looked down at her curiously, no other emotion in it's eyes except curiosity. She wondered if it could feel anything else.

"We do not feel, but we do understand."

She reached out her hand to his face. He seemed to smile, she thought to herself. He took her pale hand in his grey one and leaned down so she could touch his cheek.

He knew she needed tangibility to believe.

She smiled at him, through the tears that were now streaming down her face. He guided her hand back down at her side and held it until her eyes closed and the sleep inducing drug took effect.

Nellis AFB
11:52 AM

Mulder drove the car into the base. Past the guards, behind a truck carrying God knows what, maybe Scully. He heard the shouts and he knew they would be coming after him and he had to hurry. She could be anywhere though, where would he begin to look.

Hangar 51. It was where he first went when he was in this blasted place, it was probably where they would take her. He dropped the car behind another hangar and walked to hangar 51. He opened the office door, relieved to find that there was no one in the office this time. He went into the actual hangar and was shocked to see nothing. There was nothing in the hangar, no aliens, no planes, no UFO's, no MIB's, nothing.

A man tapped him on the shoulder and he recognized him as the man he had talked to the last time he'd been in this base. The man walked past him and looked at the hangar.

"What did you expect to find, agent Mulder?" he asked.

"I don't know." Mulder shrugged.

"A UFO?"


"Well, you're not going to find anything."

"Why, has everything been destroyed already?"

The man smiled, "There was nothing to destroy. I told you before. There was nothing of an extraterrestrial origin here. But, if you want to investigate something real, you might want to start with the contagion in the town."


"Contagion." He turned and walked away, opening the giant hangar door showing Mulder the fifty men in green with guns pointed at him. "If you don't go peacefully, they will use force."

Mulder shook his head and then looked directly at the man and asked, "Before I go, can you give her back."

"Who?" His eyebrows fell. No one was supposed to be taken today, there were none on the schedule left to take. All that was left was the erasure.

"Scully, she has to be here. Harris brought her a while ago, just give her back to me and I'll go, back to Washington. It's obvious you don't want to tell me what's going on and you're doing a hell of a job covering it up. So I might as well not try anymore." He knew it was bull, but if it was what it took to her back, he would live with lying.

He looked Mulder in the eye, more confused than ever. Mulder and Scully had been taken, they had been experimented on, they had the implants in their noses. But that had been all.

"She's not here."

"What do you mean she's not here?" He stood closer to the man, getting raised guns from the men outside the hangar.

"I mean, she's not here. Harris never came by here."

Mulder saw the confusion in his eye and decided he was either a very good liar or he was telling the truth. But he had to comply to find Scully. His cell phone rang. He looked at the man for approval and when the man nodded he pulled the phone out of his pocket.

"Scully?" He called into the phone.

"Agent Mulder?" The woman on the phone asked.

"Yeah, this is him." His voice dropping into depression.

"I'm the nurse that you talked to when you to agent Scully out of this hospital, do you remember what I said?" She said scornfully.

"About what?"

"About her falling into a coma." He stayed silent a moment and when she spoke, there was nothing but sorrow in her voice. "You'd better come down here. We've got her here, on a monitor, she's in a coma."

"What?! How did she get there?"

"A man spotted her lying about ten feet from the side of the road into Dyer, he brought her in and she slipped into a coma on the way."

"Who brought her in?"

"George Jacob. He's still here, I figured you'd want to talk to him."


"And agent Mulder, you'd better hurry. They want to evacuate this hospital, this town, by tonight. There's a risk on serious contamination by an unknown substance that induces severe dementia."

"Has Scully been affected."

"We've seen no sign of that, but she is in a coma. We won't know anything conclusive until she wakes up. But we are running a test on her now."

"I'll be there as soon as I can." He hung up the phone and looked at the man. "I'm going now. I'll need my car though."

"It's at the front gate."

Road to Dyer
12:00 noon

It's happened again, Mulder thought as he retrieved his car and got in. He immediately threw the car into gear and tromped hard on the gas. It had happened again and he had to get to Scully. Before anything else could happen.

Because this was his fault. Even more so than the last time. He knew it and he would carry that knowledge with him to his grave. Mulder had caused Scully to be hurt, again. She couldn't fight back, and he couldn't protect her.

I shouldn't have gone off and left her, he thought furiously, driving even faster. The scenery blurred past the window, a blend of yellow and green ground and blue sky. I had to run off by myself and leave her alone with Agent Dick. When I knew he couldn't be trusted.

I'll kill him, Mulder thought, his hands tightening around the steering wheel, his jaw clenched, his eyes fixed on the road unfurling before him.

The pain in his head came without warning, sudden, intense as if someone had introduced his face to a sledgehammer. Blinded by the force of the agony and unable to hold another conscious thought, Mulder's body took over. Instinctively, he swerved off the road, his foot pressing harder on the gas by reflex.

The car jounced painfully off the pavement.

Mulder was able to open his eyes, even though the pain had not lessened. He saw that the vehicle was now hurtling out of control, off the road, and he stomped on the brakes. He was thrown forward as the car stopped, but unhurt.

He lay back against the seat, whimpering, gasping for breath against the torture in his head. I don't have time for this, he thought weakly, I have to get to Scully. I have to get to her. This is all my fault. Tears sprang to his eyes and flooded down his cheeks, not entirely the result of the pain.

"Mulder, you have to hurry."

Mulder sat straight up as he heard Scully' voice, clear and soft, inside his head. How the hell...? But he knew it was not unheard of. There was evidence that patients in comas could see and hear everything going on around them. There was even evidence that in the comatose state, psychic powers were more accessible than in any other state of consciousness.

"I don't think I can," Mulder said aloud, and his voice cracked. "I don't think I'm strong enough."

"You're the strongest man I know, Mulder," said Scully's voice in his head. He noticed that when he heard the words and concentrated on them, the pain was lessened and he could relax. However it got there, her voice in his head was soothing, comforting.

"Hold on. Wait for me," he said and with a deep breath, he turned the car around and got back onto the road.

"Listen to me very carefully. I'm going to tell you everything I know."

"No, Scully, I'll be there in a few minutes." Mulder said, desperately, thinking there was only one reason she was transmitting these thoughts to him. Because when he arrived, she wouldn't be able to tell him. "I'll be right there, I promise," he told her. She couldn't die. Not Scully, she didn't deserve it. If anyone deserved to die, it was him, for getting her into this trouble again and again and not protecting her. She couldn't die before he got to see her, before he got a chance to tell her that he lo... there were so many things he had to tell her.

"Listen to me. You need to know this. The experiments the military has been carrying out go further than you imagined. They are behind the abductions and the memory loss as well as the metallic implants. Using the same technology they use to erase and rewrite memory, they can control their subjects through the implants. And they can kill them. Right now, their back is up against the wall. The project has been compromised beyond repair and the subjects are being destroyed."

Mulder felt something tickling his nose and his upper lip. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand and it came away bloody. Remembering Henry Roulet and the other abductees' nosebleeds, his heart started to pump harder. This was just a trickle, for now, he told himself, and ignored it as best he could.

"They're starting on you." Her implication was clear and Mulder's stomach turned over, sick.

"No," he said, "I'll be there in a few minutes."

"Fight them, Mulder," she told him. "Fight them and you'll win. You're stronger than they think, your mind is stronger than they know. You have to -"

Suddenly Scully's voice in his head was gone. "Scully?" he asked, feeling stupid but scared enough that he didn't care. "Damn it, Scully! Scully, hold on! I'll be right there." He was approaching the outskirts of town and put on another burst of speed. The engine and the transmission of the rental sedan protested being pushed beyond their limits. Mulder had to slow down anyway as he came into the narrower streets of Dyer.

You can't go and die on me, Scully, he thought, tears in his eyes as the pain began to grow worse again so that his whole head felt like it was buzzing. The first drops of blood fell onto the white collar of his dress shirt. You're stronger than I'll ever be.

Good Samaritan Hospital
12:07 PM

Scully's eyes opened and she looked up at the fluorescent light in the ceiling. She didn't know where she was and she was afraid. Her entire body ached, but she quickly located two areas that hurt more than any other: there was a sore spot on her forehead, and a sharper pain at the very top of her nose, between her eyes.

She heard gunshots. No screams and no words. Only gunshots.

Taking a deep breath, she sat up. She knew she had to move and fast. Looking down, Scully found she was still in her clothes. There was an IV stuck into her hand, but that was the only thing binding her to the bed. Her boots were right beside the bed on the floor.

Shoddy work, folks, she thought, but lucky for me. Scully jiggled the IV in her hand to work it free. It hurt like hell, but she concentrated on breathing deeply and ignoring the pain and tried to ease the tube out gently.

She heard the heavy clomping of booted feet out in the hallway. It sounded like military men, she thought, and they were rapidly approaching her room. She heard more shots and couldn't keep herself from jumping. The footsteps in the hallway came closer still.

Scully wondered for a second why anyone would be methodically shooting the patients in the hospital, but she didn't have the time to sit around and think about it. Survival was all she had the time to think about. She didn't have time to sit around and wiggle the IV tube. Steeling herself, she ripped the IV out of her hand, knowing she couldn't make a sound.

She didn't allow her mind to process the pain. She had to keep moving. Scully shoved her feet into her boots as the footsteps came dangerously close to her door. Two shots were fired in the room next to hers and through the thin wall, she heard the body fall. They would be coming for her next. She had mere seconds to save her own life.

Scully reached for her service pistol and found it was gone.

Footsteps. One. Two. Three. Each closer than the next.

She dropped to the floor and crawled underneath the hospital bed.

Footsteps. Four. Five. The door slammed open and she saw from underneath the bed that there were two men in shiny black boots. Their pants were printed with camouflage and tucked neatly into the tops of the boots. One stayed by the door as the other entered the room.

Scully held her breath.

So did the men and for a moment, the room was entirely quiet. It was the silence of death.

Then she heard it. The small sound was almost deafening. Plop, plop, plop. Turning her head sharply, Scully saw the source of the sound. Liquid was dripping from the IV tube onto the floor.

Oh please God, she prayed, don't let him hear it or see it. But Scully couldn't think of any reason why her life should be spared when the rest of the patients were shot dead by these soldiers.

After an interminable amount of time, the soldier at the door went back out into the hallway. A moment later, the other one followed him. Scully dared to breathe again as she relaxed against the dusty floor beneath the hospital bed. She wished she knew how she'd gotten there and what was going on. But it appeared she would have plenty of time to think about it as she waited out the soldiers, unable to do anything but listen to the gunfire, knowing that with each blast, a life ended and she was powerless to do anything to stop it.

12:13 PM

The first thing Mulder noticed as he slowed the car was the lack of people on the roads on the edge of town. He saw no one out walking. There were no cars on the roads. Although his window was rolled down, he didn't hear a sound other than his own breathing. It was as though everyone in the town had simply... disappeared.

That made the faint rumbling sounds seem even louder as he approached the empty lot. As he sped past, Mulder saw a single tractor operator making his big yellow machine roll back and forth, scooping out dirt and piling it to one side of a rather large pit.

Mulder remembered the man at the military base telling him to go and investigate the contagion in the town.

A couple of blocks later, Mulder saw a big flatbed truck parked in front of a white two story house with a picket fence out front. Two large figures outfitted in yellow rubber biohazard protection suits carried a body out of the house and dumped it onto the truck. Then the truck moved forward a few feet and rolled to a stop in front of the next house.

Mulder remembered the nurse's words to him on the phone: "They want to evacuate this hospital, this town, by tonight... Contamination by an unknown substance that induces severe dementia." This was one hell of an evacuation, he thought, making the car go a little faster and wondering why no one had noticed him driving through the town, or if they had, they didn't seem to care.

The pain in his head that he'd gotten so good at ignoring suddenly took a turn for the worse. The blood slowly dripping from his nose increased its flow. Mulder could feel it carving a river down his face, he could taste it on his lips and in the back of his throat and he tried not to gag. Almost there, Scully, he thought, trying to fight the pain by calling up the picture of her that he carried in his mind. It helped, but only a little.

He remembered Scully's words as they'd appeared in his head: "They control their subjects through the implants. And they can kill them." Mulder had experienced missing time, like the others who were now dead. Did that mean he'd also been implanted with a device that could kill him with the flip of a switch?

It would explain why there was blood pouring from his nose, he thought. But it didn't explain why there was a load of dead residents of Dyer piled onto a truck three blocks back... unless the military had been experimenting on every person in the town.

Mulder felt sick. He wasn't sure if he could drive much further. But he could see the hospital up ahead, and knowing he was closer to Scully brought him strength. He had to get to her, he had to see her and get her out of this crazy town before it killed them both.

Glancing down a side street as he passed, Mulder saw a large tanker truck spraying something onto the trees and houses and lawns. There was a red warning sign on the back of the truck that said "Flammable" and had a little picture of a flame.

What was the best way to get rid of a contaminant that had affected an entire town? thought Mulder, Fire. He wondered how long he had until Dyer was engulfed in flames. Not long, he'd wager.

He slammed on the brakes and left the car idling in front of the hospital. Mulder stumbled out, wiping his nose on his the back of his hand. The flow seemed to have subsided somewhat, as had the pain in his head. Maybe he would be spared, he thought, though he knew no reason why God or the government would want to spare his life.

As long as I find Scully and make her safe, he thought, she's all I care about. He jogged toward the sliding double doors of the lobby of the hospital.

And then he saw her. Scully. Standing in the middle of the parking lot, her feet wide apart in a sturdy stance, but her head drooping down between her shoulders. Her hair was sticking up every which way and she was pale. Dark shadows surrounded her eyes. "Scully!" Mulder screamed at her as he broke into a run. Her head came up slowly as though it hurt her to move.

"Scully, thank God, you're safe!" Mulder cried as he grabbed her, pulling her up from the ground in his arms and swinging her around. Relief wasn't strong enough a word to describe his feelings at finding her, awake and unhurt.

She pushed against his shoulders and he could feel how weak she was. Slowly he set her back on her feet and looked down at her, concerned. Her blue eyes were wide and filled with tears as she looked up at him and he could see her lips were trembling. His heart almost stopped with worry in the moments it took her to form the words in her head and call up the strength to speak them.

Her voice was fragile and almost inaudible. "Mulder... how did I get here?" she whispered.

Road to Nellis AFB

They didn't know where else to go and they knew that everything happening in the town originated at the base. On their way they spotted a car, they knew it was Harris' car so they pulled up next to it and they got out. Scully leaned back against the car, still weak from her ordeal, while Mulder looked at the body on the floor. It was already rotting, a buzzard sat three feet from him watching the body for signs of life. But Harris had a bullet in his head. Mulder felt an odd pain in his eyes and looked at the blood that oozed from the body.

It was green.

Harris was a hybrid?

There wasn't time to think about it. He ran back to the car and ordered Scully to get in. She looked up at him, shielding her eyes from the blazing sun and saw the worry in his face and she immediately got into the car.

"What is it, Mulder?" she asked as he pulled away from the car, from the body.

"If we stay here, the chemical components of Harris' blood are going to intoxicate us and then we we'll be food for the birds."


"Harris is an alien, or at least a hybrid."

"I thought they could only be killed by puncturing the base of the neck, the pineal gland."

"Maybe he's a different breed."

She said nothing. Only stared at him. Suddenly she gasped, finally noticing the blood that had dried on his shirt. She opened her mouth to say something, but couldn't think of anything before she blanked out.

When she opened her eyes it was nighttime and they were sleeping in their car, which was parked in the middle of the desert. Mulder opened his eyes and his hands went to his nose.

"Mulder!" Scully shouted as he doubled over.

"They took whatever it was out, I'll be fine." He informed her, but she had assumed it was what happened. "I'm just a little sore."

She breathed a sigh of relief and the looked out the front window, seeing nothing. There wasn't a cloud in the sky to hide behind, but there wasn't any bright light flying away.

"What happened to you, with Harris?" he asked, looking her directly in her eyes so she couldn't lie.

"He put me to sleep and he took me somewhere where they took the implant from my nose."

"Who took the implant from your nose?"

"I don't know."


"They told me that the nose implant would kill people."

"Yes, when their experiment was over, or if something went wrong, it would release something into the blood. Something that would make you crazy, kill yourself."

"How do you know?"

"I haven't been in a coma."

"Mulder, we should just get the hell out of here while we can. I don't want to miss any more time."

He looked out of the window, away from her. He didn't want to leave, he wanted to stay and find out what was going on. He wanted to know what this project that they were doing was, what were the experiments that they were trying so hard to cover up.

"Mulder, I don't want to stay here anymore." A dull pain filled her belly and she felt as though she were going to throw up. She wanted to go home. She wanted to take a bath. She wanted to eat something. She wanted to lay in her bed and not have to worry anymore about disappearing and appearing somewhere she wasn't supposed to be.

"Scully, I want to go to the base." She gave him her best Look. "Just once more, I want to see what they're doing. I just want to know what's going on."

"What good is knowing the truth if you're dead." She had told him this before, it always made his heart skip a beat because the first thought to enter his head after she said this was, 'What good is the truth if she's gone.'

He looked at the window behind her and then directly at her. He wanted to go back, but he didn't want to put her life in danger, but he wasn't about to leave her alone for them to get to her.

"One more time." He pleaded, saying each word with a whole breath, emphasizing that he Needed to know. She looked out of the front window at the night sky, it was beautiful. She hadn't seen this many stars in a long time.

She looked back at him.

"One more time. We go in, we look around, we get out. No stunts, no risks. If we don't see anything we're on out way back to Washington, back to paperwork, back home."

They sat in the car, in the dark staring at each other for what seemed like a millennium before he finally nodded.

Nellis AFB
11:21 PM

They found a hole in the fence surrounding the perimeter of the compound where kids probably went through to get a peek at the things flying in and out of the base. Mulder held Scully's hand when it became dark, when the lights of the base fence no longer tried to find them.

He was not going to lose her again.

They sat under a tree and watched the base with growing enthusiasm as all the lights turned off. They watched something being wheeled out of a hangar and then the men at the base unhooked it from its base and it turned on it's lights.

Mulder retreated behind a bush as the giant lights illuminated everything within a mile of the base. There was no one to keep it secret from, there was no one left alive in the town to report that the lights were coming from the base. Everyone was dead.

"What is it?" Scully whispered.

"A UFO."

"With military personnel flying it?" she asked. He looked at her as if to say, 'Who else?' "Mulder, when they were taking this thing out of my nose they said that they didn't approve of the militaries use of their technology."

He turned to her. Then he looked back. It was only an acknowledgment of what she had said.

They watched it fly through the sky from the bush they were hiding behind. It was amazingly beautiful. It hovered over the base and then shot into the sky and then a minute later, it flew back down and hovered over the base again. Then it flew around the base and away to the west, then to the east, to the north, and the south and then back to the base.

Mulder looked like a child watching their favorite magician do a trick. His mouth hung open and his eyes wide. Scully watched him more than she watched the thing in the sky. She had no interest in the UFO. Watching Mulder at times like this amused her.

He looked down at her and saw the smile on her face and his face fell into confusion as he looked back up at the sky. Then her face fell as she threw up. He turned to her, surprised. He held her hair up until she finished and then he held her in his arms until she got over the nausea that had overcome her.

"What happened?" he asked, regretfully letting her go.

"I haven't eaten in a long time, I get nauseous when that happens. We really should go."

"She's right, agent Mulder." The voice came booming from a man at the edge of the line of bushes. They looked up at him and the twenty other men holding M-16's. The man was surprised that their faces held looks of depression rather than shock. Usually when he did this to people trying to get a peek at what was inside the base they were scared out of their minds.

He didn't know that this had happened to Mulder and Scully more times than they'd like the have admitted. He hoisted Scully up and ordered one of his men to do the same for Mulder.

"I thought I told you to stay away from here," he told Mulder as they walked back to the base.

He only grinned, receiving a hard slap on the side of the head from another soldier. Scully gave him a look that said, 'Are you *trying* to get us killed?' He stopped grinning and gave her a wounded puppy look, to which she turned away. Mulder noticed they were holding her a lot less callous than they held him.

In fact, they were holding her as if she were a porcelain doll. He wondered why that would be and could only think of one reason, she was a woman. They arrived at building 18 and they entered the room and Mulder was amazed at the size of the compartment inside the building. He looked around.

"Did you expect us to take you to the room where the experiments were being done?" The man asked, laughing. His hand fell to rest on Scully's shoulder, Mulder saw her sneer, and almost laughed himself.

She hated to be touched like that. Unless it was Mulder.

They sat them in chairs and Mulder looked at Scully to ask, 'You ok?' She looked back to say, 'I'm fine, you?' He wanted to tell her that his head was pounding, but he got blocked by the man. He looked from one to the other.

"Mulder, have any questions?"

"Why? So you can kill me later?"

"You won't be killed, you're too important. I'm actually surprised we could be blessed with your presence on this experiment, you've helped it along nicely." He looked at Scully with a large grin and she only looked away.

"What are you doing here?"

"What do you think?

"I thought I got to ask the questions."

"I never said I couldn't ask my own."

"Why did you kill all the people in this town."

"We found out none of them helped with the project objectives, but since their bodies had evidence, we had to destroy them. Well, that's not true. There was one success."

"And who would that be?"

"Bobbie McPeters."

"What did you do to him?" Scully asked suddenly.

"We did nothing *to* him, at least not yet."

"What are you going to do to him."

"Monitor his progress."


"If he grows right. If he's a good little boy. If he begins to block the erasures of his mind. If he remembers."

"Remembers the experiments done to him. Or that his father was behind this." The man didn't answer. Mulder shot him another question. "Why were there two Belinda's?"

Scully shot him a confused look before the man answered.

"We did experiment with clones, with your experience I thought you would have figured that out."

"So, one was supposed to cover the other. They were just a diversion from whatever's really going on here? So I would go with the clone and she would tell me the wrong story?"

"Actually we had to kill the clone because she shared the same memories as the original. They both held the same story and they both wanted to tell. We came really close with them."

"But they had red blood." Scully said.

"We've improved our cloning capabilities, we don't need alien blood to clone people anymore."

"You mean you've needed their technology And their blood to clone people?"

"You catch on quick." He smiled. "But we've been studying the technology they've given us and we found out how to use it without their help. They can't monitor our projects anymore because we know how to do it all ourselves."

He stopped talking and paced in front of them, letting them see each other again. They stared at each other, trying not believe that what this man was saying was true. The man stopped pacing and looked at Scully, he held her arm and pulled her up.

"I almost forgot, we're not done with you."

Nellis AFB
the next morning
2:55 AM

Mulder had been afraid for a good, long time now. Ever since the military men, the ones who were behind the experimentation, had taken Scully and thrown him into this cell alone. They'd told him that he was too important to kill. He had no such assurances about her safety. He had only the way the men had treated her, with respect and care, as though they hesitated to hurt a woman.

He heard scratching at the door, a key in the lock, and looked up, telling himself not to dare to hope it would be Scully, returned to him again safe and sound. He'd brought her into this, he'd insisted they return to the base one final time. Mulder told himself he deserved the torture of wondering if she was dead or alive.

The door opened and Scully appeared in it. Mulder rose to his feet as the green camouflaged arm of a soldier shoved her, hard, into the cell. She fell onto her hands and knees. "Have a nice stay," sneered the soldier, "It will be a short one." The door closed and locked behind him as he left them alone.

"Are you OK?" Mulder asked, moving forward to give Scully a hand.

She rose gingerly from her hands and knees, but aside from mild abrasions on her palms, she was fine. "Do you think they're going to kill us?" she asked, looking around the cell. The ceiling was low and the walls were cement. There was one bunk, an outcropping of the cement. In the corner was a toilet and a small sink. A bare, dim lightbulb glowed from the ceiling. That was all.

"I don't know," Mulder replied honestly. He put his hand on Scully's shoulder and guided her over to the narrow bunk. They sat down next to each other, and he didn't remove his hand as he turned and looked into her eyes. "What did they do to you?" he asked.

"They gave me a physical," Scully said, as though she thought it was absurd, but there was a cold undertone to her voice, one that Mulder didn't hear very often. She was terrified. She glanced up at him but had to look away, unable to meet his eyes while thinking back to having the soldier-doctor's hands on her. Her stomach turned over again and she swallowed hard.

Mulder frowned, studying her with care. "They didn't..."

"No," she answered his question before he asked it. They hadn't molested her, or hurt her in any way. "I guess it's a good sign," she said, trying to believe it, "Why would you examine someone you were just going to shoot at dawn, right?" Her laugh was harsh. "They probably wanted to make sure I wasn't going back into a coma, or, or something."

Mulder stroked her arm lightly. "Is your stomach feeling better?" he asked gently.

She shook her head, sending her hair tumbling into her face. "It's either not having eaten, or it's from the head injury," she said, and they drifted into silence, her staring at the wall, him staring at her.

He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her against him. Scully went without resistance, her head settling against Mulder's chest, and he wrapped his other arm around her in a silent promise to protect her. He took comfort in holding her close this way, the faint scent of her cinnamony shampoo tickling his nose, the warmth and softness of her skin against his body. Mulder shut his eyes to memorize the moment because he was afraid, and he thought it might bring him strength against whatever might come next.

After several long moments, he felt Scully stir and then struggle to break free. He released her instantly and she stumbled to the toilet and threw up again. He knelt beside her and smoothed back her hair, reassuring and gentle. When she was finished, she got to her feet and rinsed her mouth at the sink and took deep breaths, willing her body to stop shaking before she had to turn and face Mulder.

She'd faced certain death before without blinking, without fear. On a ship, lost and drifting, her body aging rapidly into an old woman's, she had told Mulder that she was certain they had nothing to fear from death. When she was strapped down and almost beheaded in Arkansas by cannibals from the Chaco chicken plant, she hadn't missed a beat. But this...

This felt different. This was the kind of place that brought to mind torture and long imprisonments and firing squads at dawn. This was the government. They'd killed a whole town to keep their experiments a secret. There was no way they would allow two FBI agents to walk out alive.

Scully took another deep breath and turned to face Mulder, who was giving her a sincere look of concern. "I'm fine," she said before he could ask, and she returned to sit on the bench, drawing up her knees and wrapping her arms around them, her back to the cold cement wall.

A moment later, Mulder sat down next to her. "There's no way out, I checked already," he said.

She looked at him, amazed because it seemed he'd read her mind. "We're at their mercy, then, Mulder," she said slowly. "And these men have no mercy."

He nodded then, and she knew he felt the same way she did. The fear, the certainty, that they would not come out of this scrape alive was almost too strong to fight. But they were two people who never, ever gave up. "We need to talk," Mulder said, turning his dark eyes back on her and this time she didn't look away. She put her chin on her knees and looked up at him, listening.

Where the hell do I start? he asked himself. What do you say when you think you've reached your last tomorrow? He tried to gather his thoughts. How do I tell her that I love her when words don't seem to be enough? When if I was unselfish, I'd never have brought her here? When if I loved her, I'd save her life?

"Scully-" he said.

"I know, Mulder," she said quietly, holding out her hand to him. He hesitated a moment before he took it. "I know," she nodded and put her feet on the floor. She held his eyes with her gaze and they seemed to change color as she watched, turning a light, clear blue that was almost grey. She leaned in and pressed her lips to his.

There was no desperation in their kiss. It was nothing like the kiss of two people who were doomed to die at dawn. They took their time, gently exploring each other, quietly affirming their strong love for one another without any fireworks. Their passion was tender and soft, and most of all, as fragile as any thing that is newly born and uncertain.

There were tears in Scully's eyes when Mulder broke the kiss, because she knew, she just knew, there were not going to be any more kisses for them. This one night was all they were ever going to have. She put her face against his chest, burying it in his dirty shirt, and he rubbed her back while she cried, rocking her soothingly.

"Thank you," she said, embarrassed, when she scrubbed the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand a few minutes later and sniffled loudly.

Mulder shook his head, his eyes incredibly sad though there was a smile on his face. "I owe you so much, Scully," he said, "I don't deserve someone as good as you."

"No," she said, "Don't say that. Not...not now." They both knew what she meant. She smiled back at him, and then kissed his cheek softly, slowly. "We're in this together. No matter what. We've been through so much..." She stopped herself, fighting to stay positive. "Your fight is my fight, Fox Mulder. Remember that."

She saw the look in his eyes and she knew he didn't believe her. He felt guilty. He always felt guilty, and she hated it. "Your fight is my fight," she repeated and kissed him again, quickly, to seal the words.

"I love you, Scully." He knew that she knew, but he couldn't let the words go unsaid.


Before she was able to finish her sentence, to let him hear the truth from her lips, the door to the cell was flung open. A blond soldier stood there, holding a machine gun, a cocky grin on his face. "You're out of here," he said. "Your number's up."

They stood, holding hands and followed the guard outside their cell. No one came to tear them apart, no one came to cuff them, no one came to hassle them. They just followed the guard through the halls, knowing they were in some secret underground base.

Scully's eyes closed and she swayed slightly. Mulder caught her and he put an arm around her shoulder to keep her from falling. The guard led them into a room and they walked in, turning to see the guard close the door. The room was dark, Mulder couldn't see two feet in front of him, he held on to Scully tightly. She moaned in protest.

"Serve yourselves." A voice over an intercom said.

The lights turned on and Mulder did a quick scan of the place. The walls were made of metal, it was plain, nothing hanging from them, no windows, no scratches. Just metal walls. In the middle of the room there was a table with food, all kids of food, Mulder noticed most of it nutritional. The only drink he could find was water.

He sat in on of the two chairs and sat Scully in his lap. She was too weak to open her eyes now, but she was awake. He put a glass of water to her lips and poured some into her mouth. She choked on it at first, not really expecting anything. Then she gulped at it. She opened her eyes and looked at the table.

"What do you want?" he asked.

"The pickles."


She nodded and he began to feed her. Only stopping when she pressed her hand into his chest and tried to push off him. She sat up and she looked around her.

"You ok?" He thought maybe she had to vomit again, but she only laid back down and finished what she was trying to say before.

"I love you, Fox." It was barely a whisper.

He smiled and planted a kiss in her hair. She smiled and picked up a strawberry from the table and bit into it. The door suddenly swung open. The same blonde soldier that had taken them out of the cell stood there looking at them.

"This is all sweet, but we've got to go."

"Where are we going?" Scully asked groggily.

"The Examination room. I believe *you're* familiar with it Ms. Scully." He smiled at her and were it not for the gun he was holding Mulder would have attacked him.

"But I already had an examination."

"They need to monitor you."

"Why?" Mulder and Scully asked at the same time.

"That's not for you to know. It doesn't matter, chances are it'll be erased from your memory anyway."

"Why do I have to go?"

"That's not for you to know."

Mulder liked it a whole lot better when he was getting answers. He looked up at the man and told him, with as little animosity as he could manage, "If our memories are going to be erased, why can't you tell us?"

"It's not part of my mission perimeter." He answered raising his gun. "If you don't come not, we will use force."

"No you won't." Mulder said looking at Scully.

"You're replaceable Mr. Mulder. I suggest you come peacefully."

"What do you mean, I'm replaceable?" Then Mulder waved at the man who was going to answer, "It's not for you to know." He mocked.

The man pulled Scully up by the arm, "We take it the food was to your satisfaction? You didn't have a problem with any of it?"

She looked at Mulder, confused. Why would they be concerned about what she ate and how it went down? A sick thought entered her mind and she pushed it away. She held out a hand to Mulder and he took it, standing next to her. They were taken to another room where they were held in front of two white beds. Each had straps on them and there was another door. Scully looked at the door frightened.

She knew they were going there. That was the examination room, and it wasn't pleasant. The man in charge was there again. He looked at Scully with desire, she felt her food rise in her throat. Mulder knew if he had his gun he would have blown off this man's head, both of them.

"Only a few more tests, darling." He stepped up behind her and then pulled her head back and other men in the room raised guns to ensure neither Mulder nor Scully made a move. He stuck a needle in her neck and she immediately closed her eyes and fell back on him. Before Mulder could respond he felt a needle enter his own neck and he blacked out.

Scully's apartment
the next day
11:21 am

Scully sighed contentedly, half-awake but not yet willing to open her eyes. Sunlight was streaming in through the window and she could smell the fresh scent of her sheets. Her sheets, her bed. Not a place she often awoke. She was warm and cozy and it was just too nice to spoil by opening her eyes.

A hand gently swept the hair up from the back of her neck and she felt a soft kiss placed there. She squeezed her eyes closed more and nestled into the bedding. She didn't want to wake up now and miss the rest of what promised to be a really great dream. It felt like Mulder's touch, she could feel his presence in the room.

Another kiss, a few inches lower on the back of her neck and a strong arm wrapped around her belly, just below her breasts, pulling her in close to a warm, hard male body. His bare skin against hers felt delicious, and she groaned softly in pleasure when she felt a third gentle moist kiss between her shoulder blades.

Scully opened her eyes then and the sensations didn't subside. Her heart began to beat faster as her head cleared in an instant. She rolled over in her bed, facing him. Mulder. He smiled at her with sleepy, desirous eyes and tilted his head to kiss her.

She placed her palms against his chest and held him away from her. His eyes met hers, curious. "Mulder," she said. "How did we - I mean, I don't remember -" She felt her face flush with embarrassment. She loved Mulder with all her heart, but that didn't make it any less disconcerting to awaken with him lying next to her, both of them nude, and have no idea how they'd ended up there.

"I don't know," Mulder murmured, but he didn't seem to be disturbed by it. "Must be fate," he whispered, sliding his arms around her and then he kissed her. Did it really matter how they'd gotten there? All that mattered was this, them, together, right now.

She kissed him back, harder, wanting him and letting him know it. Scully's confusion and willpower dissolved, and they made love.

Basement of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building
the same day
3:45 PM

Mulder was sitting at his desk, wearing his glasses, completely involved in the file he was reading when Scully entered the office. He looked up at her when he heard the door close and grinned at her, a secret, sexy smile.

Scully felt her heartbeat quicken and fought to push down the emotions. She wanted him, but they had work to do. She smiled briefly at him and sank down in the chair opposite his desk. "Skinner says he sent us to Dyer, Nevada almost a week ago to investigate the murder of a man named Devon Morrey, with possible UFO connections. Does that ring a bell with you?"

Mulder shook his head, frowning. "Me either," she continued. "He says we spoke to him yesterday afternoon and said the case had been solved. The town's only water well was contaminated and almost all of the residents of the town died."

"I was just reading about that here," Mulder said, nudging the file on his desk. "This is the CDC's official report. It says a foreign bacteria was growing in the town's only well and they've taken samples for further study. They don't think it's capable of spreading by air, but they burned the town anyway, just to be on the safe side. There's a quote here from Major Dick Harris from nearby Nellis Air Force Base about it." His eyes searched hers.

"Dick Harris," Scully said with a frown, "Now that sounds familiar."

"I thought so too," Mulder agreed, shifting the papers on his desk. "Especially since it says here that he was glad his adopted son Bobbie McPeters Harris was spared. But here, in the list of casualties, that Nick McPeters as well as his wife Lucy, daughter Belinda *and* son Bobbie were killed by drinking contaminated well-water."

"Coincidence? An oversight?" Scully offered.

Mulder shrugged. "Want to find out? We could be on the next flight out," he said, reaching for the phone.

"No," Scully said with a shiver she couldn't explain. "It's got to be a simple mistake."

"That doesn't explain why we have no memory of this case whatsoever." Mulder said, clenching his jaw.

She could tell he was angry. It didn't exactly thrill her, either, and she felt a little sick to her stomach just thinking about it. "Mulder," she said after a long pause, and he looked at her. "You remember the case with the UFOs at Ellens Air Base in Idaho?"

Mulder shook his head.

"Exactly," she said, the ache in her stomach growing worse, developing into full fledged fear. "You snuck onto the base and they did something to you that wiped out your memory for that selected period. And you acted strangely for the next few days." She paused to bite her lip, feeling cold and shaky. "What if this time, we both snuck onto the base?"

Mulder nodded. "That's probably what happened," he said. "Damn it, I wish I knew what they were covering up." He looked at Scully and saw that she'd gone pale. "What is it? What's wrong?" he asked, instantly concerned.

Her eyes were shimmering with tears. "What if -" her voice was oddly thick and she stopped to try to gain control of herself. She shook her head and when she met his eyes again, the tears were gone. "What if the strange behavior was behind us...behind what happened between us this morning," she said, her eyes boring into his.

"No," Mulder said vehemently. "That was no aberration caused by memory loss, Scully. I love you. You know that."

She relaxed slightly when she heard the words. "I love you, too," she told him. He slid his hands to cover hers on the desk and they smiled at each other. "So we just accept their explanation," she said, reluctant.

"For now," Mulder agreed. "I'm sure Skinner warned you to let this one go when you went up to speak with him."

Scully nodded. "They haven't won, Mulder," she told him, holding his hands. "They'll never win as long as we keep fighting them together."

George Washington Hospital
Eight months and two weeks later
10:13 PM

Scully opened her eyes when she heard the door open, even though it took an enormous amount of effort for such a small motion. Her entire body ached with exhaustion, yet she was completely invigorated. The first thing she saw was Mulder, asleep in the chair next to her bed and she smiled.

Her smile widened into a grin when she saw the pink-clad nurse in the doorway holding a blanket-wrapped bundle. The nurse grinned back. "It's time for her first feeding," she said softly.

Scully put her hand out and touched Mulder, who jerked awake instantly. She thought her heart would burst from being too full of love when he smiled at her, and then the nurse put her baby into her arms. Their baby. Tears filled Scully's eyes as she smoothed the little girl's few strands of wispy red hair. The child looked up at her mother, her eyes as observant and the same mutable hazel as her father's eyes.

She glanced at Mulder, who was smiling although tears were running down his eyes unchecked. Scully understood; she felt exactly the same way. The last nine months had been filled with incredible joy for both of them, happiness neither of them had ever imagined possible. And it all stemmed, curiously, from the day they'd awakened in each other's arms with no recollection of how they'd arrived there.

George Washington Hospital
11:10 PM

The tall, thin man approached the plate glass and looked into the dimmed nursery, looking at all the tiny new babies who were sleeping contentedly. A nurse seated in a chair in the corner, overseeing them, noticed him and smiled. He smiled back and she looked away, thinking she didn't see many grandfathers coming to visit at this time of night.

He put his hand to the glass, as though he could touch the baby through it. The smile didn't fade from his lips as he rubbed the glass over the child's wispy red hair to which a pink bow had been stuck. As though aware of his presence, the baby opened her eyes and looked at him with clear, light grey eyes. She watched him intently.

Just like her father, he thought.

The man watched for a few minutes longer. He was her self- appointed godfather, taking on the responsibility of her safety. A responsibility he'd failed at for her aunt, his real godchild. He would not fail this time. After all, he was, in part, responsible for her conception.

He wondered what Mulder and Scully thought of that night. Doesn't matter, he decided. It had had the desired effect; they were married and convinced their child had been conceived that night. Babies came early all the time, after all.

He read the card affixed the end of her bassinette. Baby Girl Mulder, it read. They hadn't yet thought of a name for their daughter, he thought, wondering what they would choose. "You'll be safe with them," he said softly and the baby looked as though she'd heard him. "I promise, I swear on my life, no harm will come to you."

Baby Girl Mulder contemplated him for another long, careful minute and then, as though she'd decided she could trust him and believe his words, she closed her eyes and drifted into sweet little baby dreams. Glad of that trust, the man turned away. He reached for the package of Morley cigarettes in his pocket automatically, but then glanced behind him at the sleeping infants. He needed to be around to keep watch over this one. She would be a very special child. Better not, he thought, and dropped the package into the trash can when he passed it.

The end.

Ok, now that I've had the joy of splitting this thing for half an hour, you can tell us what you think :) We're really anxious to know because it took a while to get this thing done (not to mention finding a title) :) Mystic
eponine119 Thanks a lot! :)

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