Title: Evil Follows Evil
Author: PhantmCat
Written: November 1995
Disclaimer: Necessary, official sounding, legal gobbledygook (Y'know, it wouldn't be the same without it): Mulder, Scully, and the rest of the X-Files family are the creations and property of Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen Productions, and Fox Broadcasting and have been used without permission. The other miscellaneous people are mine - mostly. :)

Summary: The elder Calusari's warning proves true when the demon comes back to torment Mulder.

This is my follow up to a favorite episode of mine, "The Calusari." It is not neccessary to have seen that episode to follow this story but it helps. Without giving too much away, I'll warn everyone ahead of time that this is a very dark story and Mulder definately behaves out of character so be prepared. Atleast he has a good reason. I'd probably rate this PG-13, just because some scenes are adult oriented. It was fun to write because it allowed me to do a lot of experimenting. I hope you enjoy it.


It was pure evil and it wanted him. Since the day it had been driven out of the boy, it had been watching the man. From the moment it first became aware of him, it knew he was the one. It waited patiently as the man's world began to collapse upon itself. He became increasingly angry and bitter. The time was right. The moment was here. The new host was ready. The boy had served its purposes well - young, energetic, impressionable. An adult male, though, with all the strengths, weaknesses and lusts of a mature human being, was what it truly desired. To once again feel as a man feels, to know the joys of the flesh as only a man can know, to bask in the glory of the kill, and once again wallow in hatred and wickedness - on these things it thrived and grew strong. It hovered nearby, waiting, as the man parted company with the flame-haired woman. He was sad, and as one who's resistance is down after a long illness, susceptible to its power. Tonight it would take control. Tonight it would once again unleash its fury upon the world.

Special Agent Fox Mulder parked his car at the curb. He ducked his head slightly as he got out and walked around to the other side to open the door for his companion. His partner, Special Agent Dana Scully, stepped out gracefully and waited for him to close the door. The night was clear and the warm spring breeze made the new leaves on the trees whisper and dance. Dana's perfume mingled with scent of flowers in the air. Mulder smiled, admiring how wonderful Scully looked in her blue, satin dress. He rarely had the opportunity to see her dressed in anything other than the conservative business suits she usually wore to the office. This particular dress was worn off the shoulders, revealing her milky white skin and just the right amount of cleavage. The dress hugged her body, and he couldn't help admiring her shapely figure. Dana saw his expression and smiled shyly. It was so unlike her to feel bashful around Mulder, of all people. As they walked up the sidewalk toward her apartment, she tried to relieve the tension with some light conversation.

"You know, I never thought of you as the theater-going type, Mulder."

He started to take hold of her arm and thought better of it. "I believe in supporting the arts, Scully."

She smiled. "I thought the only art you supported was the ready-for-framing centerfold in every issue of 'Naughty Nudes' Magazine."

"Ah, Scully, you wound me with your sarcasm," he said laughing. "You misinterpret my motives."

"Really?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Entirely. I'm a psychologist and I profile serial killers when I'm not working on the X-Files. I need to stay in touch with the darker side of man's nature."

"I've had all of the dark side of man's nature I can handle for one lifetime," she commented.

"Yeah, I know what you mean," he said more seriously. "It's nice to get a break from the nightmare - atleast for a little while."

Scully knew there was more truth to his words than he'd care to admit. They both worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation on cases known simply as X-Files. These were the type of cases the Bureau didn't want publicized - UFOs hauntings, possessions, and other paranormal events. Mulder was a true believer. No case was too bizarre for him and he pursued his work with a passion few people understood. Scully was more of a skeptic, and, as a medical doctor, she provided a scientific balance for Mulder's more outlandish theories. She never doubted his brilliance, despite his unusual methods. When Mulder started getting too close to some of the more sensitive issues the government wished to keep quiet, Scully was sent in to debunk him. Instead, they'd formed a close and caring partnership unequaled in the FBI.

Mulder did not use the word "nightmare" lightly. They'd both experienced about as many horrors as two people could stand while still keeping their sanity in tact. Mulder's nightmare began when he was a young boy. His young sister had been taken away from him. Mulder claimed she was abducted by aliens, and the quest to find the truth became the driving force in his life. After he joined the FBI, his fellow agents nicknamed him "Spooky," which he detested as thoroughly as his first name, Fox. Some of his most recent horrors had left emotional wounds from which he still hadn't recovered. In the last few months alone, he'd nearly lost his life to an unidentified retrovirus, and he'd seen an evil and malevolent force possess a small child.

Dana's nightmare was her own abduction. She had a three month void in her life which couldn't be explained. She'd simply vanished. She didn't know whether she'd also been abducted by some sort of extraterrestrial beings, or if her own government had used her as a guinea pig in some grotesque experiment. Whoever did know wasn't talking. One thing was certain, though, the experience nearly cost her her life.

"Did you enjoy the show?" he asked quietly.

"The show was wonderful." She looked up into his eyes, "The company even better."

"I couldn't agree more," he said, as a grin tugged at the corner of his lips.

Dana couldn't help but notice how positively dashing Mulder looked in his navy blue suit. He was tall, but well-proportioned, and the suit fit him perfectly. His short brown hair was just slightly mussed which gave him an innocent, boyish look. She found the overall picture almost sexy and tried to push the thought from her mind. That was breaking all of the rules, she warned herself. The thought had crossed her mind lately more often than she cared to admit.

Neither of them would actually acknowledge that this was a date. They were, after all, friends - partners - and friends were allowed to socialize with each other outside of work. That was legal - safe. To call the evening a date, well, that would simply complicate life in ways neither of them cared to imagine.

As they stopped at the door to Scully's apartment, they turned to face one another. At first, he wouldn't meet her gaze. He kept staring at his shoes, and shuffling his feet back and forth like an awkward schoolboy. Dana felt like a disobedient teenager herself - out of breath, butterflies dancing in her stomach.

"I guess I ought to be going," he mumbled softly.

"Yeah," she responded half-heartedly. "I guess." She wanted to say more but the words caught in her throat. Her mouth was suddenly very dry, and she couldn't think of a damn thing to say that wouldn't make her sound like a babbling idiot. They were standing much too close. She could feel his warm breath on her face. When his hazel eyes finally met hers, she felt as if her heart would melt.

Mulder, too, struggled with his emotions. It was an exercise in frustration for both of them. He fought the urge to simply give into his desires. He wanted to pull her close, to feel her delicate body pressed up against his, to kiss her full, red lips. Instead, he hesitantly reached up and stroked the soft skin of her cheek, touching her so lightly, he just barely made contact. Dana found his caress maddening. She bit her lip lightly, and caught his hand in her own. Their fingers interlocked before he pulled away from her completely.

"I better leave now."

"You'd better."

"See you in the morning?" She nodded and he smiled softly. "'Night, Scully."

"Sweet dreams, Mulder."

She went into the apartment and closed the door, as he walked back to the car. He sat motionless in the driver's seat for a few moments, willing his heartbeat to slow. That had been a close call. Another minute more, and he would have been powerless to keep from making a move that would forever change their relationship. He didn't want to risk losing her, and if that meant platonic friendship, that's the way it would have to stay - atleast for now.

He longingly glanced back at her apartment one more time. The light she'd turned on silhouetted her shapely figure on curtains of her bedroom window. If he really wanted to be egotistical, he could imagine she was doing that for his benefit. She'd changed clothes while he was sitting there regaining his composure, and had slipped into a thin robe.

His heartbeat, once again, began to quicken, and he fought the urge to smash her door down like a raving lunatic. He had to get the hell out of there before he got into some serious trouble. He forced his gaze away, and with shaking hand, started the car and put it in drive.

Good God, Mulder, he thought. You're turning into a common peeping Tom! He sighed and pulled away from the curb at the same time the light in Scully's window went dark.

Mulder was disgusted. There wasn't one damn sunflower seed in his entire apartment - a lot of discarded shells, but not a single seed. In the excitement preceding his night on the town with Scully, he'd forgotten to go to the grocery store again. Because of his absentmindedness, not only didn't he have his favorite snack food, he'd also have to pay a fine on an overdue video, "Ginger Does Georgia", which he'd rented three days earlier.

He changed from his suit into a tee-shirt and his favorite beat-up sweats. Collapsing onto the couch heavily, he tried to sort out the strange mixture of emotions cluttering his mind. He hadn't been so preoccupied with a female since he was a lovesick kid in high school. He couldn't get Scully out of his mind. She was his partner for crying out loud!

Mulder felt a warm breeze, like the silky touch of a woman, caress the back of his shoulders. He turned around abruptly, but the room was empty. Damn! he thought. Am I so obsessed with Scully that I'm imagining she's here with me?

He picked up the TV Guide on his table and tried to read it, but the words blurred into an unrecognizable jumble. He was still thinking about Scully - about how beautiful she'd looked tonight, about how close he'd been to losing control. He'd been keeping these emotions bottled up inside for months now and tonight they'd nearly come spilling out. The need to act on those feelings was almost overpowering in its urgency. He knew it simply wasn't one-sided. He'd seen the desire in her clear blue eyes, too.

Mulder sighed and massaged his tired eyes. He tossed the TV Guide back on the table and reached for the remote control, only to find it wasn't there. With a disgruntled groan, he rummaged around between the cushions of his couch hoping to find it. Instead, he found his checkbook and $.82, which he deposited on the coffee table. On a hunch, he blindly shoved his hand in the space between the bottom of the couch and the floor, and was rewarded with the prized remote control. He settled his head back onto his pillow, propped his feet up on the couch's opposite arm, and clicked on the TV. He channel surfed briefly before finally settling on "Mysteries of Extraterrestrial Life Revealed." After ten minutes of arguing out loud with the television set, he shut it off in disgust. Damn Skeptics! The only thing mysterious about that program was that anyone had bothered to produce it in the first place.

With nothing to occupy his mind, his thoughts immediately wandered back to Scully. Why did everything always have to be so complicated? They were two adults - mutually attracted to one another. How long would they have to keep playing this frustrating game? How long would they have to pretend the feelings weren't there? Who was to say they couldn't work together and be in love at the same time? They'd already crossed that particular bridge, hadn't they?

The warm breeze danced through the room again, tickling the hairs of his arm. It was too warm outside to be running the furnace. He got up and checked the thermostat, only to find it was set on sixty-five. My mind is playing tricks on me, he decided, returning to the couch. He'd just sat down when the feathery breeze, hot this time, brushed the back of his neck.

"Dammit!" he exclaimed. Acting the part of the paranoid FBI agent, he grabbed his gun out of its holster and thoroughly searched every room of his apartment for an intruder. As he walked into the kitchen, he felt a gust of hot air pass by him, like someone had opened and closed a door. He knew it wasn't his imagination when he saw some loose papers on his desk get picked up by the draft and drift lazily to the floor.

Mulder tried to ignore the first twinge of fear that began to snake through his stomach. He had to remind himself, that despite his dedication to his work, every peculiar thing that happened was not an X-File. He was overtired and jittery, and simply needed some well-deserved sleep. He reholstered his gun and settled back onto the couch, only to feel the hot breeze slither over his toes. He pulled his legs up closer to his body and closed his eyes. As he started to drift off to sleep, the hot wind whisked past his face. He tossed and turned, and each time he would begin to doze off, a hot gust of air would caress another part of his body.

The breeze continued to wear him down. By early dawn he was shaking violently and hearing ghostly voices. It continued to grow hotter with each hour that passed. Mulder began to imagine that wind had a mind of its own and took pleasure in tormenting him. Rivulets of sweat streamed from his temples, off the tip of his nose, down his neck and over the front of his chest. The voice echoed throughout his apartment. It laughed as he huddled at one end of the couch, disoriented, whimpering like a frightened child.

The laughing grew louder and he covered his ears to keep out the frightening sound. Still it continued the unrelenting cackle inside his head. Finally, the wind exploded into a small gale, blowing papers and loose articles around the apartment. It organized itself, flying in concentric circles which grew more and more dense until it engulfed Fox Mulder into a fiery cocoon. A soundless scream escaped his lips as he felt the evil presence invade his body. It coiled around him like a boa constrictor and squeeed his consciousness into nothingness. He tried to resist, but the malicious intruder was too powerful. The demonic assailant continued its brutal strangulation until Mulder's essence was forced into a desolate, never ending night from which he could find no escape.

Mulder was no longer Mulder. He awoke on the couch to see the early morning sunshine filtering into the room through the window. This was glorious - even more spectacular than he imagined it would be! He inhaled deeply, enjoying the sensation of the air flowing into his lungs. He looked through his human eyes at the signs of the struggle the night before. Mulder had been a worthy adversary, indeed, but even the strongest souls were no match for an evil as old and powerful as it was.

He looked about the room at the man's trinkets, which had been tumbled to floor by the force of the wind. So trivial and unimportant was this collection of worthless knick-knacks. A young girl's framed photograph lying shattered on the floor caught his attention, and he picked it up. Mulder's brain told him this was Samantha, the sister for whom he'd searched so much of his life. The man spent many long, sleepless nights agonizing over the whereabouts of this girl. The entity scoffed at the petty human sentimentality. She was gone, forget her. He tossed the frame into the corner, breaking the glass even further. The search for Samantha had officially ended.

The entity could feel the human's spirit struggling to reclaim the body that was rightfully his. He laughed aloud at the futility of Mulder's pitiful struggle, delighting in the sound of his human voice. He stripped off his clothes, hurrying into the bathroom to take a good look at his newly won body.

He inspected himself in the mirror. Ah, this was incredible, indeed! No more the body of a small child. This was the strong, healthy body of a man in the prime of life. A well-formed body, at that! He looked at his large hands and watched his reflection as he commanded the hands to touch the face, rough with stubble. He slowly worked his way down the human body, taking time to familiarize himself with each new part he encountered. The sensation of his hands against the smooth flesh was exquisite, and he relished each new feeling he discovered.

He stepped into the human's shower and let the hot water flow over his long limbs, washing away the stale sweat from the struggle the night before. The water revitalized the body, and eased the stiffness from his neck and shoulders. He stepped out of the shower enjoying the sensation of the cool air against his wet flesh. The human's body temperature had risen slightly when he took control and the slight chill in the air was soothing.

He went through Mulder's routine of shaving and dressed himself in a black suit he felt appropriate for the darkness of the occasion. When he finished, he again inspected his appearance in the mirror. The human's body pleased him. He looked striking indeed. There was a slight flush in the cheeks which hadn't been there before, and the color of the eyes had deepened almost imperceptibly. Something else was different about the eyes - the sadness was gone, replaced by a piercing intensity which would drive human women to their knees.

There was only one woman he currently desired - Mulder's partner, Dana Scully. She would be at the office this morning. He adjusted his necktie and stepped out of the apartment into the world, anticipating the many pleasures that lay ahead.

He strode into FBI headquarters confidently, delighting in the way something as evil as himself breezed through Security Clearance. He was free to walk as a human being through one of the most powerful law enforcement agencies on the planet.

As he walked down the stairs to the basement office Fox Mulder shared with Dana Scully, he couldn't help but laugh at the memory of the traffic accident he'd caused on the way to work. Just a little test of his magnificent powers. He remembered with pleasure the expression on the terrified woman's face as her car careened off the side of the overpass. It had taken nothing more than a simple thought on his part to send the vehicle spinning out of control. He'd later heard on the radio that the woman had survived the fiery crash. Too bad about the burns.

He whistled, enjoying the humanness of the action, as he approached another agent in the hallway. Mulder's memory told him the man's name was Special Agent Frank Caruthers. Mulder had no love lost for him.

"Hey, Spooky!" Caruthers shouted as he passed by. "You still wasting the country's tax dollars chasing down ghosties?" He did a poor imitation of the "Twilight Zone" theme song and bent over laughing, finding the whole situation uproariously funny.

The entity within Mulder did not. His eyes glowed deep, emerald green as, without thinking, he turned on Caruthers. Anger, in the form of pure energy, leapt out of him. He observed coldly as the agent lifted from the floor and smashed into the wall. Caruthers' head hit with a sickening crack, and he lay sprawled on the floor, dazed and confused. Mulder never even had to touch him.

The desire to kill was still strong. He wanted to strangle the man, wanted to watch as the life emptied out of his body, but couldn't risk putting anymore suspicion on Mulder - not if he wished to continue roaming freely. This display of temper had been dangerous in itself. He continued down the hall nonchalantly, unlocking the door to Mulder's office, and leaving Caruthers lying on the floor in a stunned heap.

Once inside, he went to nearby, gray filing cabinet. He looked under the file marked "Holvey" and removed a dagger, neatly stored in it's protective sheath. He was very familiar with this knife. He'd nearly killed Dana Scully with it when he'd appeared in the form of the Holvey boy. It had been taken by the FBI as evidence during the investigation of the deaths which had occurred in the Holvey household. Maggie Holvey hadn't wanted it back. He carefully tucked the weapon into the waistband of his pants and adjusted his suitcoat.

He settled into Mulder's chair, now his chair, surveying the agent's pile of clutter. He leaned back awaiting Scully's arrival. She was first on the agenda for the day.

Dana Scully turned the doorknob with her one free hand, and pushed the door open the rest of the way with her shoulder. She struggled to control a large pile of files, her purse, and a box of donuts. Once inside the office, she pushed the door closed with her foot. She found Mulder lounging in his chair, feet propped up on his desk and hands folded behind his head, watching her with obvious amusement.

"Don't bother to get up, Mulder," she said, depositing everything on her desk with a thud. "I certainly wouldn't want you to strain yourself."

"Scully, you know you're beautiful when you're angry."

She threw him a dirty look which gradually turned into a smile. "Have a donut," she said, presenting him the box so he could make a selection. He took a chocolate covered one with creme filling. Scully took a bite out of a jelly-filled one.

"Y'know, Mulder," she said, trying not to talk with her mouth full, "I saw that slimeball Caruthers this morning."

"So."

"Well, he was glaring at me with one of the most hateful expressions I've ever seen. I swear, if looks could kill, I'd be dead." She watched as the humor disappeared from her partner's eyes. "D'you have some kind of run-in with him?"

"Scully, you shouldn't talk with your mouth full."

"Mulder, answer the question."

"I passed him in the hallway. Didn't lay a finger on him."

"He kept mumbling something over and over. It was hard to understand what he was saying."

"What'd it sound like?"

"Evil," she replied. "Mulder's evil."

Mulder's eyes narrowed in anger. For a moment, Scully thought she saw something flare up in them, but it disappeared as quickly as it came. "He's crazy," he said finally. "He's hated me since we were in Ouantico together. They've had him under psychological evaluation for months."

"If you ask me, that man needs more than just evaluation."

Mulder took another bite of his donut. He stared at Scully as he licked some of the creme filling off of his lips seductively. Dana quickly averted her eyes, embarrassed by the erotic nature of the thoughts his action invoked in her. She fidgeted with some paperwork nervously. When she looked up again, he was still staring at her. She instinctively looked down at the front of her suit to see what he was looking at. "What's the matter? Did I spill something?"

He simply laughed.

Scully saw a look in her partner's expression she'd never seen before. It made her decidedly uncomfortable. There was something almost dangerous in his eyes, something that made her heart beat faster. Dana, she wondered, what the hell's come over you? She could almost imagine that he was undressing her with his eyes. He seemed to be looking right into her soul, and she felt totally and helplessly exposed. He knew what affect he was having on her and appeared to take great pleasure in it. His eyes were laughing, mocking.

She forced herself to look away and picked up a file on her desk. She turned from him only to feel his hypnotic stare boring into her back. This was nerve-wracking! Scully was trembling so badly she dropped the file. She didn't know if it was from fear - or excitement. Dana crouched down to pick it up, only to sense Mulder towering above her. She looked up hesitantly and, at first, saw only his legs. Slowly she let her gaze travel up his body until, once again, they were staring into each other's eyes. Mulder was looking down at her with the most intense expression she'd ever seen. Without a word, he took her by the arm and roughly pulled her to a standing position. The file dropped out of her hand.

"Mulder," she whispered, "what are you doing?"

"What do you think I'm doing?"

Taking Scully by the shoulders, Mulder positioned her up against a nearby desk and pinned her there with his hips. She could feel his body's physical response to the raw emotion in his eyes. He took her face in his hands and brushed his lips lightly against hers - just enough to tease. Dana thought her heart would stop.

"I want you, Scully," he said in a husky voice.

"Mulder, I don't know if this is such a good idea-"

He silenced her with his lips. This kiss was slow and sensuous at first and she could taste the sugary sweetness of the donut he'd been eating. The chemistry between them was instant and, as their passion increased, the kiss became rough - demanding.

His hands were moving down her back. Dana could feel her body involuntarily reacting to the connection between them, even as her mind screamed she was making a big mistake. She no longer cared. No man had ever caused this type of reaction in her before today and she didn't want it to ever stop. His lips traveled to her neck and she tilted her head back, allowing him easier access. She sighed with pleasure and he uttered something that sounded like a growl as his hand move under her skirt. He caressed her leg slowly, fingers moving ever closer to the tender flesh of her inner thighs. She inhaled sharply and used her own hand to guide him even nearer to that sensitive place which so desperately needed his touch.

This was heaven! This was all she ever dreamed of! This was -

A knock at the door startled Scully out of her lust induced fog.

Silently cursing, she roughly pulled away from Mulder. He started to reach for her again, but the knock came more insistent.

"Come in," she shouted, while simultaneously smoothing her skirt. Their immediate supervisor, Assistant Director Walter Skinner, stepped into the office. Skinner, a balding but ruggedly handsome man in his forties, surveyed the scene before him with interest. Both agents were leaning against the desk - Scully looked startled, Mulder looked angry. Their faces were flushed, and they were both breathing heavily. He forced himself to suppress a grin since he'd wondered about the nature of their relationship for a while. This merely confirmed his suspicions and Skinner was secretly pleased. He didn't know of two people who needed each other more.

"Director Skinner," ...... said nervously, "This is certainly a surprise." She wiped the corners of her mouth with her fingers, hoping her lipstick wasn't smeared. Mulder passed the back of his hand over his mouth, as well. A look of defiance in flashed his eyes, as if he dared Skinner to say something. Skinner simply looked over the top of his glasses at them.

"I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" he asked sternly

"Uh, Of course not, Sir. Agent Mulder and I were just... having some breakfast before we get to work." She fidgeted with her skirt, which was still crooked.

Skinner raised an eyebrow. "Breakfast?"

Brilliant, Dana, she thought, Really brilliant. "Uh, yes, Sir," she responded, clearing her throat. "Would you like a donut?"

"No, thank you, Agent Scully. I've already had my breakfast."

"Uh, right, Sir."

The entity in Mulder was furious and he wanted to kill Skinner for interrupting his pleasure. He knew the anger simmering within him could kill the man if not carefully contained, and he couldn't risk drawing any more attention to Mulder than he already had. As Skinner turned to close the door, the demon unleashed its fury to send the door slamming shut so hard the wood splintered. Skinner leapt back; both he and Scully were clearly startled. Mulder's eyes were glowing green, but they were too preoccupied by the mysterious door to notice. Gradually, his eyes returned to their normal color.

"Damn!" Skinner exclaimed, staring at the hand which had reached for the door. "Did I do that?"

"I don't think so," Scully responded shakily.

"Well, it was obviously neither of you. You're nowhere near the door. It must've been me." He inspected his hand again and shook his head.

"Shit!"

"Are you all right, Sir?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." He cast a suspicious glance at the door. "I'll get someone down here to get that fixed." He didn't notice that Mulder was staring at him with barely concealed hatred. "Getting back to business, I have a case I need the two of you to look into." He handed a file to Mulder.

"What kind of case?" Mulder asked skeptically.

"I need you and Scully to drive up to Chase, Maryland. It's just northeast of Baltimore. A federal employee was murdered there last night. Witnesses claim the crime was committed by a-" he cleared his throat, "a hairy, 9 foot tall, man-beast."

"Sir, you didn't come all the way down here for a ... bigfoot sighting."

Skinner pulled his glasses off and massaged his eyes. "No, Agent Scully, I didn't. Actually I came down here for two reasons. First, I had to get the hell out of my office. They're painting up there and its giving me a headache. Secondly, I needed to speak with Agent Mulder."

"Why am I not surprised?" Mulder commented under his breath.

"Did you have an altercation with Agent Frank Caruthers this morning?"

Mulder rolled his eyes and sighed. He felt anger rising to his face. "I passed the man in the hallway. He was very antagonistic. Caruthers hates my guts - he's been badmouthing me for years."

"So you in no way harmed him?"

"I don't want anything to do with the man."

"Director Skinner," ...... said, "I passed Caruthers in the hall, as well. He was mumbling incoherently." She hesitated, "With all due respect, Sir, I think he's...a couple of French fries short of a Happy Meal."

"Forget French fries, Scully." Mulder sneered. "We're talking a whole hamburger."

"Agent Scully," Skinner said, "from the sound of it, you've been spending too much time around Agent Mulder, but I have to agree with you. We've got Caruthers isolated right now. He was stumbling through the lobby shouting that Mulder was possessed by the devil."

"Director Skinner," ...... said with contempt, "I've been called a lot of names in my years with the FBI - Spooky, even crazy, but I've never actually been accused of being the tool of Satan." His voice positively dripped sarcasm. "Am I in some kind of trouble?"

Skinner put his glasses back on. "Of course not, Agent Mulder. We've had problems with Caruthers in the past. I think it's safe to assume he's...not well." Skinner shook his head. "Possessed by the devil, that's a good one." He looked at Mulder. "We'll require a statement from you later."

"Gladly. I already have a bad enough reputation without help from the likes of Caruthers." The demon's dangerous anger subsided. The incident with Caruthers had been a close call. He would have to learn to control his temper better if he didn't wish to be discovered. The bigfoot case had been a stroke of luck. He realized he couldn't have arranged a better opportunity to be alone with Scully if he had planned it himself. The drive to Chase, Maryland would be an interesting one.

"That's all then. I wanted you to get started on this investigation as soon as possible. Drive safely." Skinner started to leave then turned back. "Oh, by the way, Agent Mulder, Agent Scully, try to hold off on lunch for a little while. Okay?"

Scully blushed bright red. She didn't see the grin on Skinner's face as he stepped out of the office.

Scully stood to one side watching as Mulder signed a car out of the motor pool. He hadn't said more than two words since they'd left the office and was acting uncharacteristically secretive. She wondered if all it took was one kiss to earn the silent treatment from him. The attendant handed Mulder the keys, and he gestured for her to follow him to the car he'd selected. He automatically went to the driver's side. Scully climbed into the passenger's seat.

"Did you bring a map, Scully?"

"Right here, Mulder," she said holding it up. "You always forget."

"Let me see it for a minute."

She handed him the worn road map. He scanned it briefly then tossed it on the seat between them. A mysterious smile momentarily crossed his face as he started the car and pulled out of the garage.

Dana's head was swimming with conflicting emotions and, for some reason, she felt strangely helpless. In the past, she'd always been the one to retain a clear head - to feel so out of control was frightening. This was Mulder she was fantasizing about! Mulder! He'd always been off limits. Safe. Look but don't touch. But now - that kiss had awakened something she'd been struggling to keep buried deep inside. Even as she watched him do something as mundane as driving, she was powerfully attracted to him. In fact, she wanted desperately to finish what they'd started in the office. She'd dreamed of a deeper relationship with him for so long. Why didn't it feel right? Why were there so many alarm bells ringing in her head?

He caught her staring at him, and grinned. She turned away in embarrassment, hoping that telltale flush hadn't crept into her cheeks. This was too much! She questioned why it had happened - how it had happened? Not that she hadn't enjoyed it, but they'd managed to keep their feelings in check since the day they met one another. What had been so different about this particular morning? After all, the opportunity had certainly been there last night. If they were going to make the move, why hadn't they done it then, instead of in the middle of the J. Edgar Hoover Building?

And then there was Skinner. Oh God, Skinner! Just the thought of his name brought complete and utter humiliation. The man wasn't blind, by any means. Scully was absolutely sure Skinner figured out what had taken place. It wasn't like she and Mulder had been subtle about it or anything. Hell, who would have expected Skinner to show up at their office door? He rarely ventured down to the far reaches of the basement. Then, on the one occasion he did decide to just drop in, he found her with lipstick all over her face and her skirt hiked up. It was a wonder she and Mulder hadn't been disciplined there on the spot. Why had Skinner, of all people, chosen not to say anything? It was a good thing he hadn't arrived any later, or he would have found them doing "the wild thing," as Mulder had once so aptly put it, right there on the desk. She was relieved Skinner hadn't found them in such a compromising position, but secretly disappointed it never happened.

Scully's musings were interrupted when Mulder pulled to a stop at a traffic light. Her gaze was drawn to a plain, young girl, possibly in her late teens or early twenties, sitting on a bench at a bus stop. She was staring at Scully with eyes so big and sad, Dana thought her heart would break. There was something vaguely familiar about the girl. Scully couldn't help but think of her as a friend, even though she couldn't recall having ever seen this person before in her life. The woman had an aura of safety and protection about her. Why did she seem so familiar?

Scully glanced over at Mulder to find him staring at the girl, as well, only his eyes were filled with malice and loathing.

"What's the matter, Mulder? You know her?"

"Yeah," he answered derisively, "I know her."

When the light changed to green, Mulder pulled away from the corner so fast, the tires squealed against the pavement. Scully turned around to watch the girl until she disappeared from sight. She wondered what it was about that plain, young woman that upset him so, and where he possibly could have known her from. At first, she felt just the slightest twinge of jealousy, but when she saw Mulder's hostile expression, she knew he had no love lost for the girl. Scully wanted to ask him about it, but thought better of it.

Now obviously wasn't the time.

As they drove on, Scully became increasingly concerned about her partner. Every now and then, she would find him staring at her for no reason. More and more, when she looked into his eyes, she had a hard time finding the man she knew as Fox Mulder there. She could easily imagine someone other than her partner looking out at her and found the idea deeply disturbing. There was none of Mulder's usual humor in his gaze, no gentleness, no warmth. His eyes appeared almost wicked - inhuman. But that was crazy! How could Mulder's expressive eyes appear anything but human?

She remembered Caruthers' rantings - he'd insisted that Mulder was evil. Could he possibly be seeing something that she didn't? Mulder said Caruthers was crazy, but was he really?

Scully sighed. Her whole world had turned upside down this morning. Nothing made sense anymore. So, Mulder was acting strangely. Maybe his world had been shaken up, too. Perhaps their encounter had scared him. It was nonsense to believe that Caruthers words were anything more than the deranged hallucinations of a madman.

Still, she instictively felt for the reassuring presence of the tiny, gold cross she wore on a chain around her neck. It wasn't there. She remembered she'd left it at home on her dresser. The clasp on the chain had broken just this morning, and she'd been unable to wear it. Dana wasn't a superstitious person, but she couldn't help but wonder if that was a terrible omen.

"Mulder," Scully asked, craning her neck to see the road sign they'd just sped past, "are you sure we're going the right way?"

"I've always gotten us where we were going before, haven't I?"

The Maryland countryside was beautiful. The fresh leaves on the trees were a welcomed change from the drab browns and the dirty grays of winter. The sky was cloudless, and Scully became so immersed in the view and her own thoughts, she'd lost track of their location on the road map. She was so accustomed to letting her partner do the driving, she'd simply assumed he was going the right direction. They took Interstate 95 through Baltimore, and, by her calculations, should have nearly reached their destination. She was so startled by the route marker she'd seen that she grabbed the map from the seat.

"Y'know, I don't think we should have turned back there. According to the map..."

"Trust me, Scully."

"But look here-" she started to point something out to him, but he snatched the map out of her hand.

"I know where I'm going."

"Mulder, if you'd quit being so stubborn and give me the map back, I'd show you-" She reached for the map.

"Don't touch it, Scully," he hissed.

"Pardon me," she said sarcastically. Dana suddenly felt very much like a caged animal. Mulder was acting like a stranger. She had to get out of these close quarters, atleast for a little while. He was beginning to frighten her. Maybe she really didn't know him after all.

"Listen," she said, after a few minutes of nervous silence, "why don't we get something to eat? I'm starved. Maybe while were stopped we can figure out where we are."

"Ready for lunch already?" he asked, laughing. He reached for her leg and she pushed his hand away.

"That's not the type of lunch I had in mind."

Scully's skirt had crept up a couple of inches above her knee. She pulled it down, uncomfortable with the way Mulder kept leering at her leg. After a couple more miles of driving, he pulled into the unpaved driveway of a tiny, wood-paneled building. The electric sign in the window proclaimed in bright pink letters "Dottie's itchin." The "K" in "Kitchen" was not working properly and only blinked on occasionally. The restaurant was barely visible from the road due to a row of thick pine trees, and Scully guessed this is why it had no business. There were only two other cars in the entire parking lot.

The interior of the restaurant was rustic, but well-kept. The empty tables were covered with the traditional red and white checked table cloth, and each held a vase with a couple of faded silk flowers. Mulder and Scully were the only customers. Mulder selected a booth in the corner. They each took a beat-up menu from the table and quickly scanned it. A couple of minutes later they were greeted by a fresh-faced young girl with black hair, bangs, and a ponytail. She seemed almost too perky, and reminded Scully of a high school cheerleader.

"Hi, Folks. I'm Sally." She was noisily chewing a large piece of bubblegum.

"I thought this was "Dottie's Kitchen?" Mulder quipped.

"Not no more. Dottie's dead."

Mulder said what Scully was thinking. "Not from the food I hope."

The girl laughed. "Heck, no. Dotty was 98. Had one tooth right here in the middle of her lower gum, and it was about to fall out." Scully tried to smile politely. "Y'all ready to order?"

Scully ordered a chicken salad sandwich and a cup of coffee, Mulder a bacon-double cheese burger with fries and a large coke. The food was served promptly and Scully had a healthy appetite. She'd taken about three bites of her sandwich when she realized Mulder seemed less interested in eating his food than watching her. She set her sandwich down.

"Mulder, why do you keep staring at me like that?"

He smiled and began sensually tracing the back of her hand with the tip of one of his fingers. "Because I want to take you right here on the table."

Dana nearly choked on the bite of sandwich she was chewing. She shifted nervously and unconciously crossed her legs, not knowing what to make of her partner's behavior. He acted like his hormones were out of control and it bothered Scully that he kept talking this way. What bothered her even more is that she knew she'd go along with him in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.

"Mulder, what's gotten into you?"

He laughed aloud - obviously finding the question quite humorous. It was a strange sound coming from him.

The waitress reappeared a minute later carrying a fresh pot of coffee. Scully watched the good humor drain out of her partner's face to be replaced by a look she'd seen more than once today - pure malice.

"Would you like a refill on your coffee?" the young girl asked enthusiastically.

"No, thank you," Scully responded with a smile.

The moment Scully turned her attention to the girl, Mulder's eyes flashed deep green. The entity was angered that its private time with Scully had been cut short yet again. With a thought, he unleashed a burst of energy and caused the hot coffee to splash up onto Sally's neck and shirt and she cried out in pain. The coffee pot fell to the floor and shattered, sending the hot liquid splattering everywhere. Scully jumped back, but some of it sprayed her seat and the bottom of her skirt.

The teenager ran off toward the kitchen sobbing. Scully glanced at Mulder who was smiling maliciously. Feeling responsible for her partner's cruel behavior, she started to go after Sally, but he grabbed her arm and held her back. Dana was startled to notice a familiar person frantically motioning her toward the restrooms across the room. Her eyes were drawn to the peculiar young girl, and she forced her gaze away so she wouldn't alert Mulder to her presence.

"Dammit, Mulder, you find this funny?"

"Actually, I do."

"You're sick!" She jerked her arm free. "At least allow me to wash myself off!"

Scully practically ran across the room and locked herself in the safe haven of the bathroom. There, sitting on a small bench, was the same girl she had seen at the bus stop just a few hours earlier. The girl had an almost ethereal quality about her - long, sandy brown hair which fell down to the middle of her back and eyes that were almost too large for her face. With a little make-up and some modern clothes, Scully thought, she would be quite beautiful.

"Come sit next to me, Dana." She smiled and patted the open space on the bench beside her.

At the sound of the girl's voice, Scully felt the goosebumps rise on her arms. She'd heard this voice before, she was sure. "Who are you?" she asked hesitantly.

"My name is Caitlin."

Caitlin, Scully thought. The name doesn't ring any bells. Why is this person so familiar? Why can't I place her face? Her voice? She sat down beside her and the girl took her hand. "How do you know my name?" Dana asked.

"I know all about you." Caitlin replied.

"But how-"

"That's unimportant. What is important-"

They both heard Mulder shouting, "Scully, get the hell out of there now or I'm coming in after you!"

Dana was frightened. Caitlin indicated she should reply.

"I'll be right there, Mulder," she yelled.

"I only have a minute," the young girl whispered. "The creature who calls himself Fox Mulder is not what he appears to be."

"What do you mean - 'creature'?"

"Scully," Mulder shouted, "get your ass out here!"

"I wish I had time to tell you everything," Caitlin said sadly. "Dana, an evil entity is in control of your partner's body. It is very old and powerful, and it will try to destroy you."

"You give me no choice, Scully," came Mulder's voice on the other side of the door.

The young girl started speaking more rapidly. "Fox's spirit struggles toward the light, but the being is strong."

"How do you know these thi-"

With a giant crash, the restroom door came flying open. The man standing in the doorway looked less like Mulder each time Scully saw him. Never had her partner exuded such hatred and viciousness. Never had his voice been so cruel. Dana instinctively backed away from him, her body shaking with fear. She heard the woman whisper in her ear. "I'll be here when you need me, Dana."

Scully turned to look at the woman, but the restroom was empty. Mulder glared at her, his expression a combination of lust and anger. Scully knew she was in serious danger. Out of sheer desperation, she tried to duck past him, even though he was blocking the door to the restroom. With one quick movement, he grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her back so hard she thought he would break it.

"Are you going to behave, little girl," came an unfamiliar voice, "or do I get to hurt you?"

He dragged her through the empty restaurant and out the front door unhindered. The waitress was nowhere to be seen, and there were no other customers to stop him. Once outside, he threw her up against the car door.

"This doesn't have to be difficult," he said, releasing her arm and turning her around so she faced him. His voice sounded much more like Mulder's. He traced the curve of her breast with his right hand, lust the predominant emotion in his eyes now. He held her fast against the door and planted his lips against hers.

The magic of the kiss engulfed her. Mulder and her together. It was as if he'd cast a spell over her and there was nothing else in the world except this kiss, the way it made her feel, Mulder...

"No!" she said, jerking her face away from his. "You're not Mulder! Get away from me!"

He grabbed her by her hair and yanked her head back. "You'll kiss me and you'll like it." Again he roughly pressed his mouth against hers. She pulled her face away and slapped him as hard as she could. "You'll pay for that," he growled, eyes on fire. He let go of her hair and brought one hand up to her throat.

"You're hurting me!" she gasped, as his grip tightened. Abruptly, he let go of her. Dana inhaled deeply several times trying to catch her breath.

"You spoke to her," he asked, "didn't you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," she responded, still breathing hard.

"She's put you in danger, you know." As he was talking, he used one hand to untie his necktie. "You must choose your friends more wisely, Agent Scully."

"Mulder..."

"Let's not keep up this pretense any longer. Agent Mulder is no longer here. His body is my tool. In fact, I like it so much, I think I'm going to keep it." He pulled the tie from around his neck.

"Who are you?"

He laughed. "I don't think you really want to know."

"Where's Mulder?"

"He exists, in a manner of speaking. He's feebly fighting to reclaim what was his, but I'm too strong. He's no match for my power. This body is lost to him." He twisted a lock of her hair through his fingers. She tried to pull away from him. "Now that you know the truth, Agent Scully, I can't let you live." He released her hair and drew one finger along the curve of her chin. "You can be sure I'll get what I want from you before I kill you."

"I'll fight you every step of the way," she spat.

"Then your death will be that much more unpleasant." He yanked her purse off her shoulder, opened the car door, and threw it on the floor of the front seat on the passenger side. He, then, effortlessly spun her around and threw her over the hood of the car in the manner of a police officer arresting a criminal. He pulled one arm and then the other behind her back and bound her tightly with the necktie.

"I'd take you right here, but I can't risk being spotted. Don't worry, I'll find a secluded place in the woods where we can take it nice and slow. I'll make sure you suffer before you die." He opened the back door and threw her into the car, then climbed into the driver's seat. "Don't worry about the hereafter, Scully. I'll send you company. Your death will be the first of many." He started the car and pulled out of the restaurant parking lot onto the open road. "After I kill you, I'll go back for Skinner. He signed his own death warrant when he interrupted us this morning."

 

 

 

 

Dana, I know death is at arms reach tonight, but Dana your time is not over.<

As the captive Scully lay helplessly in the back seat of the car, her mind replayed the words of the woman she considered her guardian angel. A person she knew only as Nurse Owens. Her gentle words of encouragement had given Scully strength as she lay comatose in the hospital after her abduction. Once she'd been moved from intensive care into a private room, she had asked the nurse on duty if she could speak with Nurse Owens - to thank her for being there. Dana was told no Nurse Owens was employed by the hospital.

It was a powerful moment for Scully - almost spiritual - and it became one of many recent experiences which were causing her to re-evaluate her own ideology. Now, as she found herself on the way to her own murder, she couldn't believe that Nurse Owens had encouraged her to go on living, only so she could face a more horrific death in the future. Scully would have gladly succumbed to the effects of her mysterious illness rather than die at the hands of her own partner - even if Mulder wasn't actually in control of his body.

Dana had no doubt that a wicked and malevolent force had Mulder in its grip. She remembered, all too well, the frightening case of Charlie Holvey, a young boy who'd been possessed by an evil spirit. Mulder had been present in the boy's hospital room while a group of Romanian Elders, known as the Calusari, performed a ritual to cleanse Charlie's soul. They'd warned Mulder not to look as the child writhed on the bed - the force wanted to trick him.

"Don't look at it! Look away or it will recognize you!"

Mulder's morbid curiosity had been his downfall and eyes were drawn to the screaming child. When young Charlie lay sleeping after the ceremony, purged of the demonic entity, the elder Calusari spoke his solemn words to Mulder.

"It is over - for now," he said gravely, "but you must be careful. It knows you."

It had been chilling advice which neither Mulder nor Scully knew was actually a gruesome prophecy. Now, as they lived the nightmare, Scully wondered what hellish entity had taken possession of her partner's beautiful body and what she'd nearly made love to this morning. Dana knew whatever it was would murder her if she didn't find a way to escape.

It didn't take Scully long to devise a plan, even though she knew any mistakes would probably get her killed right on the spot. He was going to kill her either way, she reasoned, so she really didn't have anything to lose. Moving as soundlessly and as carefully as possible, she rolled onto her back, and moved as far as she could to the edge of the seat without rolling onto the floor. Keeping her left leg straight for balance, she cautiously drew her right leg up to her chest. Throwing all of her strength into her lower body, she aimed for Mulder's head and kicked out with her right leg. Mulder caught a quick glimpse of her movement in the rearview mirror, but not in time. Her foot crashed into the side of his head.

"Damn you!" he shouted, as the car swerved violently to the right.

Scully was tossed from the seat onto the floor. Mulder blindly reached over the seat trying to grab her, not paying attention to the road. It wasn't until the car drifted onto the shoulder that he tried to regain control, but he was too late. Scully briefly heard the sickening crunch of twisting metal and the hiss of an inflating airbag as the car slammed into a tree. Her head seemed to explode in pain as her world went dark and silent.

Scully opened her eyes to darkness. Her head throbbed and her face rested against something rough and scratchy. It took her a moment to remember what had happened and realize that she was lying face down on the floor in the back of the car, her face against the carpeting.

With her hands tied behind her, it was difficult to manipulate her way back onto the seat. The task was made even more complicated by her pounding headache and the dull pain deep within her left shoulder. Once seated, she sat perfectly still - bent forward with her head near her knees - long enough for her world to stop spinning. When she was sure she wasn't going to pass out, she sat up and looked into the front seat. What she saw made her swallow hard.

"Mulder," she whispered, "My God!"

She strained to see as much as she could over the seat. Mulder hadn't bothered to fasten the seatbelt. While the airbag kept him from going through the windshield, it couldn't protect him from being tossed from side to side. Mulder lay slumped against the side door and a few thin trails of blood trickled down the cracked glass of the window. She couldn't actually see the side of his head and desperately wanted to find out how badly he was injured.

She struggled to open the back door, but he'd locked his prisoner in. There were no door locks in the back and, with her hands tied behind her back no way she could reach the ones in the front. Awkwardly, she slid onto the front seat and landed heavily next to Mulder, wincing as she jarred her shoulder. She stretched to reach the automatic door lock switch and just barely managed to push it with the middle finger of her left hand. She heard the locks click open and turned her attention back to her partner. Scully's medical mind evaluated Mulder as she leaned over him, unable to touch him due to her restraints. The injury was serious. His eyes were closed, and the entire left side of his face was covered with blood. The injury looked alarming, but she also knew it might look worse than it was since head wounds tended to bleed easily. At best, he had a severe concussion, at worst, a skull fracture. Either way, he needed to be hospitalized. She breathed a sigh of relief that he was unconscious even as she feared for his safety. Well, she thought, I have some time now. She would get on one of the cell phones and call for help - she'd also contact the Calusari - as soon as she got free of this damn necktie.

Using her foot, Scully hooked the strap of her purse and pulled it off the floor where Mulder had thrown it. She lifted it onto the seat and let the contents spill out beside her. She had just managed to maneuver her hand to within inches of her cell phone when she saw his eyes open.

Dana couldn't help herself, she screamed.

Slowly, Mulder lifted himself to a sitting position. He looked like evil incarnate, his eyes glowing deep green. Scully knew that head injury should have incapacitated any normal human being. The entity was somehow animating the body of a man who by all laws of nature should have been insensible. She scrambled backwards toward the passenger side door.

"Did you really think a blow to the head is all it would take to stop me?"

From a deep in his suitcoat, he flashed the razor sharp dagger. Scully turned to face him, to distract him as she searched for the door handle with her hands. He held the knife almost against her face so she could take a good look at what he was going to use to kill her. She finally hooked her fingers around the handle and pulled. The door flew open and she fell out backwards, crashing to the ground. Mulder emitted a terrifying, inhuman roar which reverberated through her entire body.

"You're dead, Scully!"

He fought to open his own door, but it was jammed shut. It bought Scully the few extra seconds she needed. Scrambling to her feet, she stumbled away from the car, and into the woods. Using only the power of his mind, Mulder sent the car door flying open, and shouting obscenities, ran after her into the forest.

"God protect me," Scully whispered, as she fought to distance herself from hellish monster who looked like her partner. Dana fought to keep her balance as she stumbled over the uneven terrain. She felt like she'd been running forever and now knew what a hunted animal felt like as it ran for its life.

Her chest felt like it was going to explode, but she was afraid to stop and catch her breath. Sweat poured from her forehead, stinging her eyes and obscuring her vision. Strands of auburn hair stuck to the clammy skin of her cheeks and tickled her face, but she was unable to brush them away. Her head was throbbing and she felt like her shoulder was on fire. She kept glancing behind her fearfully, expecting Mulder to catch up at any moment. Her worst nightmare had come to life. For years, Dana had worked to build an impenetrable wall around her emotions - her protection from the world. She built it with science, work, family, and relationships. Fox Mulder became a very critical part of Dana's wall. In a terrifying world where "trust no-one" were often words to live by, Mulder became the most important person in her life, and she trusted him completely.

Over the past two years, the wall had begun to crumble. Her father died. Her lifelong belief that science held all the answers was seriously challenged as her work with the X-Files became more and more horrific: conspiracies, cover-ups, ghosts, aliens. Someone or something had abducted her, and three months of her life were irrevocably lost. Still, through it all, Mulder was there - a constant in a world where the rules were continually changing. Even as he lay near death after exposure to the mysterious retrovirus, his presence comforted her. Mulder was Scully's refuge and he stood steadfastly at her side through tears as well as triumphs. He cared as few people ever had. Ultimately, Dana had come to believe that he loved her as much as she loved him.

Then, the unimaginable happened.

In a instant, the wall came crashing down. The Mulder she knew was exiled to a place she couldn't begin to comprehend, and this sadistic stranger had stepped into his shoes. She'd prepared herself to lose him in a shooting, or to an unidentified virus, even to murderous forces within their own government, but to this? To something she couldn't even see? Who could have anticipated a day when Mulder would try to kill her? Nothing could have shattered her world more completely.

Dana's thoughts were violently interrupted when her foot caught on a branch and sent her sprawling. At first, she couldn't move, couldn't breathe. Her shoulder felt white hot and it seemed as though life itself had been knocked out of her. She just wanted to sleep. The image of her partner with glowing green eyes and a homicidal stare reminded her why she needed to continue and she painfully rolled onto her back.

She had just twisted herself into a seated position when she heard the noise - the quiet but unmistakable sound of someone walking on damp leaves. She wouldn't escape him this time. Her shoulder throbbed and she was still breathing like a runner who'd overtaxed herself. She clearly recalled his words.

"I'll make sure you suffer before you die."

Scully squeezed her eyes shut as the hand clamped down on her shoulder. She automatically returned to her Catholic upbringing - to the device she used as a little girl lying in bed, afraid the monsters would attack in the dark. It had always worked then.

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee..."

Fox Mulder's essence survived somewhere in a lonely plane between life and death. There was no Heaven or Hell, only an endless expanse of emptiness. It was a place without sight or sound, touch or taste. A existence with no yesterday, and no tomorrow.

Mulder had awareness. He could sense light, not as a human being distinguishes light, but still he knew it was there. It beckoned to him, calling him home. There was someone to whom he must return. A woman was waiting for him - a soul whose destiny was forever linked with his. He had to escape to her, but something vile and sinister blocked his path to freedom. If he couldn't break free, he'd be trapped in this dark place for eternity.

"...Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

The grip on Dana's shoulder tightened, and for a fleeting moment, she wondered what it would be like to be killed by the man she loved.

"Dana, I'm here for you."

The sound of the girl's voice startled Scully so badly she gasped. She twisted around to see Caitlin standing over her, face clouded with concern, hand resting lightly on Scully's shoulder.

"I'm sorry if I frightened you," Caitlin said, crouching down behind Scully. "Here, let me untie you."

Within seconds, Scully's hands were free. She rubbed them together, flexing her fingers a few times to restore circulation. Caitlin helped her to her feet.

"We have to get out of here," ...... said nervously. "He's right behind us."

"You're safe for now."

"What do you mean?" Dana asked. "How do you always know where to find me? Who are-"

"Dana," Caitlin said firmly, "you have to listen to me very carefully. You have to be strong and have faith in what I'm telling you. Can you do that?"

Scully nodded. For some reason, this young woman inspired her trust.

"Think back, Dana. Remember when you were in the hospital after your abduction? I know that was a difficult time for you. You were very far from home and you needed help finding your way back."

"I remember. It's all like part of a distant dream, but I remember. There was someone there with me - watching over me."

Caitlin nodded. "Well, Dana, this time Fox has lost his way. He's been forced down a path he was not meant to take, and because of it so have you. Your destinies lie elsewhere. I can help you find them, but the evil must first be defeated."

"I don't understand."

"You must defeat the evil, Dana."

"Me? But how...?" Scully shook her head in panic. "I can't. I'm not that strong."

"You are strong enough, and when the time is right you will know what to do." Caitlin suddenly seemed distracted. "He'll be here shortly," she said, glancing over her shoulder. Scully followed her gaze but saw nothing. She heard Caitlin whisper in her ear. "I'll always be nearby. Remember, whatever happens, Dana, never abandon hope."

Scully turned back toward her companion, but she'd vanished. Frantically, she scanned the forest in all directions, but the otherworldly young girl had disappeared as mysteriously as she arrived.

Scully looked heavenward through the trees. "Why me?" she defiantly asked the clear blue sky. "Tell me, what I've done to deserve this?" The forest remained still and silent. Not even the wind dared respond to her question.

"Damn her!" Mulder shouted. He leaned up against a tree for support, waiting for his vision to clear.

Damn these frail human bodies, he thought, touching his fingers to the wound on his head. He pulled his hand away and inspected it. His fingertips were covered with fresh blood. The body had obviously been wounded in the crash and it was slowing him down.

The advantages of being in the flesh far outweighed the disadvantages, but there were also risks involved. He could animate a corpse if need be, as long as he wasn't present in the body when it died. Then he risked being forever exiled to Hell. He could keep a wounded body functioning, but his powers were limited by the condition of the human. This particular body was far too valuable to abandon for a simple head wound.

He stepped away from the tree, more steady on his feet, envisioning how he'd skillfully use the knife on Scully's body before he killed her. "You've got nowhere to hide, Dana!" He caught a glimpse of her and quickened his pace.

Scully heard his voice echoing off the trees. He wasn't that far behind her and she had to get the hell away from him while she still had the chance. She sprinted ahead, trying not to jar her shoulder, but every step sent another wave of pain through her arm.

Despite her best efforts to flee, Mulder's long legs easily closed the gap between them. She glanced back just in time to see him lunge at her. She spun out of his grasp and turned to face him. The man standing before her looked like an sinister replica of her partner and he advanced toward her slowly, slicing at the air in front of her with the knife. Scully noticed him blink his eyes a few times as if to clear them, and wondered if the head injury might be to her advantage.

"Why are you shaking, Dana? I can't cut you yet. We have unfinished business."

"Stay away from me."

"You can't tell me didn't enjoy it. Isn't that what you've always wanted, Scully? To know Mulder? To taste him? To touch him?"

He grinned. "To touch me_?"

"You're not Mulder."

"Ah, but I am."

He extended the knife toward her, trying to back her up far enough to pin her against a nearby tree. Without thinking, Scully swung her right arm up in self defense and caught him off guard. The knife flew from his slippery, blood-covered hand and fell to the ground. She rapidly kicked it behind her. The green glow of rage flared in his eyes, and he tried to dive at her, but had to brace himself against a tree to regain his balance. Scully's suspicions were confirmed. Mulder's injuries had weakened him.

She used the time to grab the knife, wiping the bloody handle on the front of her suit. She held it out in front of her like a shield, hoping to keep Mulder as far away as possible. Dana felt an invisible force colliding with her hand and she saw the concentration in his eyes. He was attempting to use the power of his mind to knock the weapon from her hand, but seemed unable to completely command his powers.

"I don't want to hurt you," she warned.

He laughed and continued to advance on her menacingly. Despite his weakened state, he was still larger and more powerful than she was. He could see the confusion, the uncertainty in her eyes as she stumbled backward, trembling with fear.

"You'll never use that on me," he said, wiping blood from his forehead. "I'm your partner, remember?" His eyes held a wild, maniacal look.

"You're no partner of mine," she spat. "You took him from me."

"Damage the body and you condemn Fox Mulder to death. Is that what you want?"

"No," she said unsteadily, shaking her head.

"Do you wish to be responsible for the death of the man you love?"

"No," she whispered, tears welling up in her eyes. "God, no!"

"You can't kill me. I've always existed. I'll continue to exist whether this body does or not. I'll exist when you've been dead and buried for a hundred years."

She continued to hold the weapon out in front of her, but it went against all of her instincts. This was Fox Mulder's body she was threatening! If she damaged it, would he be forever lost to her? Would he cease to exist? How would she ever live with herself?

He took a step toward her. "Give me the knife, Dana. You can trust me."

She searched his eyes for Mulder - her Mulder - for even the slightest hint of his presence, and found nothing but a frightening stranger. Maybe Mulder was already lost to her.

You are strong enough, and when the time is right you will know what to do.<

The decision was made. She couldn't allow this beast who'd stolen her partner's body to continue this deadly game, and she knew Mulder would rather die than be responsible for the atrocities that would lie ahead. Perhaps if she could have gotten him to the Calusari, he would have stood a chance. Perhaps they could have saved him with their rituals. Perhaps - she stopped herself, knowing she was only delaying the inevitable by wondering what might have been. There was no going back, was there? This evil was like a fire raging out of control, destroying everything in its path. It had to be stopped. Here and now.

He took another step toward her. His eyes were mesmerizing and she had to fight not to lose her determination.

"Give me the knife," he ordered in a throaty voice.

You must defeat the evil, Dana.<

Mulder understood what Scully meant to do. With a ferocious growl, he lunged at her, grabbing the arm that held the knife.

"Die, Scully!"

With the strength of someone twice her size, Dana twisted her arm free and drove the dagger deep into his chest. With a shaking hand she pulled the knife free. Blood spurted onto her clothes.

"Forgive me, Mulder!" she gasped, the dagger falling from her hand.

The expression of psychotic rage vanished and the unnatural gleam faded from his eyes as he clutched at the gaping wound in his chest. Blood trickled over his hands and fingers at an alarming rate. The demon fled Mulder's dying body, afraid to be drawn into the eternal darkness of death. Scully recoiled when she felt the gust of hot air. Mulder collapsed heavily into Dana's arms and she gently laid him on the ground. She sank to her knees beside him, still too numb to even cry.

Fox Mulder found his way home.

Scully stared with horror at the rapidly growing crimson stain on Mulder's white shirt. She didn't have to be a doctor to know that the wound was a fatal one. He was looking up at her sadly, his eyes perfectly lucid.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"You're sorry?" She looked into his hazel eyes and saw her partner's familiar anguish. "It's really you, Mulder. God, what have I done?"

As the harsh reality of the moment gradually sank in, hot tears began to stream down her cheeks unchecked.

"I am sorry," he said haltingly. "Sorry...that I ever tried...to hurt you. Sorry that I've caused you...so much pain. Sorry...I made you cry. I'm not worth...your tears, Scully."

"You're worth every tear I'll ever shed for you."

She saw the unmistakable glint of tears on his own face now. "I deserve to die."

"Don't ever say that."

"It's true." The light was fading from his eyes. A blue tinge crept into his cheeks and blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.

She lightly stroked his brow. "I'm not ready to say good-bye to you yet, Mulder."

"Then don't." His face contorted with pain. "I don't like good-byes."

She took his limp hand in hers and pressed it to her lips. "Listen to me. I can't change what I've done, and I can't bring you back. I wish to God I could. But if it means anything - anything at all - the biggest part of me will be going with you."

Then it's...not really good-bye," he said smiling weakly. "We'll always be together."

She nodded. "Forever."

"I may not...have another chance to say this, Scully...Dana." He closed his eyes and paused, struggling to gather what little strength he had left. "Love you-" With a long sigh, his struggle came to an end.

"I love you, too, Fox," she whispered, knowing he'd never hear the words, "with all my heart."

She rested her head against Mulder's lifeless body and closed her eyes. Her shoulders begin to heave as heart-wrenching sobs which shook her entire body pierced the stillness of the lonely forest.

As if through a haze, she thought she felt someone gently stroking her hair. She didn't have the energy to look up and find out for sure.

"Beautiful child," came the soft, soothing voice, "it's not yet time. Now your destinies await." Dana allowed herself to give into the welcomed oblivion of unconsciousness.

 

 

 

Scully blinked a few times as she came back to consciousness. She tried to focus on something solid, but could see only darkness. Her head throbbed and she felt her face resting against something rough and scratchy. It took her a moment to remember that she'd been involved in a car crash and that she was lying face down on the floor in the back of the car, her face against the carpeting. She couldn't quite figure out what she was doing in the back seat.

She felt something loosely wrapped around her wrists and was surprised to find it was Mulder's necktie. She shook it loose and slowly pulled herself back onto the seat. The task was made even more difficult by her pounding headache and the dull pain deep within her left shoulder. Once seated, she sat perfectly still - bent forward with her head near her knees - long enough for her world to stop spinning. When she was sure she wasn't going to pass out, she sat up and looked into the front seat. What she saw made her swallow hard.

"Mulder," she whispered, "my God!"

She was sure he was dead.

Scully strained to see as much as she could over the seat. To her relief, she could just barely detect the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. She was alarmed when she noticed that, for whatever reason, he hadn't been wearing a seatbelt. While the airbag kept him from going through the windshield, it couldn't protect him from being tossed from side to side. Mulder lay slumped against the side door. A few thin trails of blood trickled down the cracked glass of the window. She couldn't actually see the side of his head and she desperately wanted to find out how badly he was injured.

She struggled to open the back door on the passenger side and realized Mulder had locked all the doors. There was no way to unlock the doors from the back seat, so she reached over and pushed the automatic door lock on the front door near where she normally sat. Once the doors were unlocked, she switched from the back seat to the front, thankful the doors, on her side at least, weren't jammed shut.

Scully's medical mind evaluated Mulder as she leaned over him. The injury was serious. His eyes were closed, and the entire left side of his face was covered with blood. The injury looked alarming, but she also knew it might look worse than it was since head wounds tended to bleed easily. He was beginning to stir just slightly. She cradled the nape of his neck in her hand so she could hold his head still and check his pupils. They were uneven, an indication that, at best, he had a severe concussion - at worst, a skull fracture. Either way, he needed to be hospitalized.

"Scully," he mumbled. He clumsily lifted his hand toward the wound on his head and she moved it away.

"Lie still, Mulder," she said softly. "We've been in a car accident and you've been hurt. I'm going to call for help as soon as I figure out where we are. We'll have you out of here in no time."

"I have a hell of a headache," he muttered, speech slurred.

"I can imagine."

He closed his eyes then opened them again as if he thought of something extremely important. He weakly tried to sit up. "Scully, are you okay? Are you hurt?"

She carefully pushed him back down. "A couple of bumps and bruises. I've got a bit of a headache, too, but otherwise I'm fine. Now, don't try to move, okay?"

"I don't want to move. I ache all over."

"I'm not surprised, Mulder. Why the hell weren't you wearing a seatbelt? You could have been killed."

Again, she got that strange feeling that he should have been dead - like she'd just awakened from a nightmare that seemed incredibly real. After a pause, he answered, "I don't know, Scully."

She tried to shake off the feeling. "That airbag saved your life. I'm going to check to see if you have any broken bones, okay?"

He nodded just slightly and closed his eyes. She deftly ran her hands along the sides of his chest, feeling for any telltale swelling or deformity. She stopped abruptly when she felt the concealed, metallic object. She pushed his suitcoat aside to reveal the dagger in its protective sheath, neatly tucked into the waistband of his pants. She stared at the weapon, and then at him, in horror. A mass of confusing images seemed to assault her simultaneously, but they were gone before she could make any sense of them. She pulled the knife and case free.

"Mulder, what were you planning to do with this?"

"With what?"

"Look."

He opened his eyes and studied the weapon she was displaying in front of him. He, too, experienced a terrifying moment of recognition before the details slipped out of his grasp. "I don't remember, Scully," he said uneasily. "I honestly don't remember."

Dana usually hated rush hour traffic, but this evening she was grateful for the chance to compose herself and prepare for the meeting she'd put off for two days. She hadn't seen Mulder since they'd transported him to the hospital shortly after the accident. She hadn't even realized he'd checked himself out a day early until she stopped by to see him earlier this afternoon. She'd been strangely unwilling - unable - to face him, to look into those eyes. Only now was she beginning to understand why.

Mulder suffered a fairly bad concussion, not a skull fracture. Scully, also, had a mild concussion but, fortunately, had not broken her shoulder, only bruised it. She recalled the inevitable meeting with Skinner - how he'd questioned her, and how, faced with gaps in her memory she couldn't explain, she'd finally been forced to make up the answers.

She'd sat at his desk, fidgeting nervously, as he'd read her written report. Finally, he'd looked over his glasses at her, wearing that borderline frown that suggested he didn't quite believe what he'd read.

"Agent Scully, Agent Mulder is experiencing some short term amnesia and has been unable to file a report." Mulder's not the only one, Scully thought. She had made a mental note to get her facts straight with Mulder. "This report states that your automobile was found near," he double checked the file, "Street, Maryland. Isn't that a good deal north of Chase, your destination?"

"Agent Mulder and I made a wrong turn, Sir."

"I guess so." He paused, "You say that Agent Mulder was driving, and this accident was the result of him swerving to avoid a large animal in the road?"

"That's correct, Sir."

"Not the bigfoot in question."

"No, Sir."

"Did the two of you stop for lunch along the way?"

"Uh, yes, Sir, at a little roadside restaurant. I don't recall the name."

"Does the name Dottie's Kitchen sound familiar?"

She shifted positions. "I believe that could be it, Sir."

Skinner sighed. "An employee of that restaurant by the name of," he checked the file again, "Sally Myers reported a couple fitting your description to the local police. She said they were behaving strangely, had some kind of argument, and left without paying, so she jotted down the car's license number as they left. The officers traced the license number to a vehicle Agent Mulder signed out of the motor pool that morning and then notified us. Can you enlighten me on this incident?"

Mention of the restaurant made Scully decidedly uncomfortable. She remembered - fear, a mysterious girl, and a grim warning, but answered, "As far as I can recall, it was an ordinary meal, Sir. Agent Mulder and I rarely argue. As for us not paying, the waitress disappeared into the back after she spilled something on her clothes. We waited for several minutes but couldn't seem to find her or a cashier, so Agent Mulder left the money on the table. We never saw anyone else in the restaurant but Miss Myers."

"Are you saying she took the money?"

Scully cleared her throat. "I'm not making any accusations, Sir. The waitress seemed like a nice enough girl, but Agent Mulder and I had no reason not to pay."

He glanced up at her skeptically. "I see."

Smooth, Dana, she thought. Can you make it any more obvious that you're lying?

After a moment of thought, Skinner closed the folder. "That will be all for now, thank you." She was walking out his office door when he added, "Agent Scully?"

"Yes, Sir?"

"If you ever want to talk about what really happened - off the record, I'll be here."

"I still haven't figured it out myself, Sir."

Skinner mentioned nothing more about the incident. The bigfoot murder case was assigned to an unfortunate soul who didn't share Mulder's enthusiasm for the paranormal.

Scully requested, and was granted, a few days personal leave. She'd been plagued by disturbing nightmares she didn't understand. Sketchy details of the mysterious hours surrounding the car crash began surfacing little by little, and at the strangest times. A series of chilling recollections made a simple trip to the mall almost unbearable.

A pair of romantic, young lovers on a bench painfully reminded her of a passionate kiss and the taste of Mulder's lips against hers. A lunch visit to a favorite cafe brought to mind the horrors that small, roadside restaurant and her partner's vicious, inhuman temper.

Even more shocking was the set of images awakened by a knife displayed in the window of a tobacco shop, which caused Scully to run to the nearest restroom in tears. Most frightening of all, a girl with long brown hair and a loose fitting dress, reminded Scully of another young girl and two different conversations they'd had, one she could distinctly remember and the other she could not. Badly shaken, Dana retreated to a nearby diner where she hunched over a cup of coffee, willing herself to solve the mystery. She clearly remembered Caitlin. Familiar voice, aura of safety. Her chilling warning in the restaurant would be forever etched in Scully's mind.

Dana, an evil entity is in control of your partner's body. It is very old and powerful and it will try to destroy you.<

Where had the girl come from? How could she have known that? But she also remembered a second conversation, distant and dreamlike, with that same young girl, and it hadn't taken place at the restaurant. Had it ever really happened? She strained to recall what was said. Slowly, the words started to return.

Think back, Dana. I know this was a difficult time for you, but remember when you were in the hospital? You were very far from home and you needed help finding your way back.<

In the hospital after her abduction, Scully could hear the voice. In fact, the same familiar voice. Nurse Owens. Scully's heart filled with love.

Dana...Dana, Honey, I know you can hear me. I'm here to take care of you, Sweetheart. Help you find the way home. I know you're far away from home tonight...<

Nurse Owens had been leaning over her bed. They'd been alone. No one had been there to hear those words, not even Mulder. Scully hadn't even been conscious at the time. How, then, if Caitlin did speak those words to her, did she know what had been said?

That same, familiar voice.

I'll be here when you need me.<

With a chill, Scully came to realize that Nurse Owens and Caitlin might somehow be connected. They might even be the same person. Dana hoped it was true.

As she turned down the road leading to Mulder's apartment, even more memories began to bombard her. Memories, like the second conversation with Caitlin, so unreal she doubted they were even factual. Scully desperately wanted to block them out - a very different car crash, running through the woods, something other than Mulder in control of his body. Something evil.

As she pulled her car to a stop in front of her partner's building, she realized why she'd been avoiding him.

She was afraid of him.

Mulder sat in the shadows, rocking back and forth, silently cursing himself. An endless void stretched out before him, black and inviting, and he was standing precariously close to its edge. He'd told himself repeatedly he'd been involved in a car crash - nothing more. Why then was a very different set of memories threatening to overpower what had actually taken place? Where did reality begin and the nightmare end?

Fleeting images would play themselves out in his mind like terrifying movies, and in each one, he'd see himself brutally tormenting the one person he truly loved. The memories were indistinct, and he didn't feel like an active participant. He desperately wanted to believe that they were a result of the head injury.

But the silence continued.

Each passing moment, each hour that he didn't hear from Scully merely confirmed his fears that he'd actually done something to hurt her. He'd lost her forever.

He cherished the memory of her delicate body against his - how it had seemed so right, so perfect. How he knew then, as he'd always known, that she was the one. But those kisses had been stolen and that was an unspeakable crime. He'd abused their relationship and betrayed her trust, and because of it felt repulsive and unclean. He'd tried to hurt her, and, in so doing, destroyed his only chance in life for true happiness. The lure of the dark void was powerful. One small step off the edge would free him from this unbearable pain. Cutting his ties with sanity would bring the welcomed bliss of indifference.

He was so close.

Take the step, Mulder. Release yourself.

Then he heard the knock at his door.

Any fear Scully felt melted into concern the moment she saw Mulder. He looked haggard and drawn. His eyes were that of a person on the brink of madness and Dana wondered if any man could endure as much suffering as her tormented partner had. The tense muscles of his face and neck revealed the emotions he kept locked inside. He gestured her into the apartment and listlessly shut the door. It took Scully'e eyes a few moments to adjust to the gloom.

"Mulder," she said softly, "why don't you turn on some lights in here?"

"Darkness suits my personality much better, don't you think?"

"Mulder-"

"Have a seat, Scully."

He collapsed heavily on the couch. Scully turned on a table lamp and sat at the opposite end of the couch from him. He'd obviously been sitting in the dark for quite some time and squinted against the harsh light. Dana could see the thick bandage on his forehead clearly now. He hadn't shaved since he'd left the hospital, and his eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot. They were both reluctant to break the silence. Finally, in a carefully controlled voice, Mulder said, "I can picture it all, Scully." She didn't have to ask what he was talking about. "At first, it was just bits and pieces. I tried to convince myself it was just a trick of my imagination, but it's coming back to me. Every last, sickening detail." He looked into her blue eyes. "You remember, too. Otherwise you'd have been here sooner."

"I remember...a car accident, Mulder."

"What else do you remember?"

"Nothing. Nothing at all."

"That's not true. I can tell by the look on your face."

"Okay," she said, nervously twisting the strap of her purse. "I've been having a lot of nightmares."

"About what?"

"I'd rather not talk about it. It's not important."

"It's important to me, Scully. I need to know."

"About a forest," she told him hesitantly.

"And what else?"

"A knife."

"And my death?"

"Mulder, stop. I can't-"

"Please, answer me, Scully."

All the color drained out of her already pale face. "Yes," she answered with difficulty "about your death."

"Then you do remember."

"I remember...something. My memories are unreliable."

"They are reliable, Scully," he said numbly. "I've been having nightmares, too. Something happened to us."

"We were in a car accident. Leave it at that, Mulder."

"I remember more than a car accident. What I remember frightens me. I can't stop thinking about it."

"Then don't think about it - don't try to remember. So, we've been having some similar dreams. There has to be a logical explanation."

"I don't think so."

"Mulder, you were injured. Even I had a mild concussion. Maybe the nightmares are a result of-"

"You know better."

"I don't know anything of the kind. My memories are all blurred together. I don't know what's real and what isn't. Just take them at face value. Maybe it's better that way."

"Do you remember how I treated you?"

She blushed. "Of course, I do. You weren't...yourself that morning. You never really hurt me."

"I remember it differently. I deserve to die, Scully."

"Don't ever say that."

"We've spoken these words before."

Tears clouded her eyes. Even more painful memories came rushing back. "I remem - No, it never happened. There was the accident..." she insisted, knowing her words were hollow.

"I can understand if you want to dissolve our partnership. I can't stand to look at myself. I don't know how you can stand to be around me."

"I'm happy with the partner I have."

He shook his head. "It's okay. You don't have to protect my feelings. You're afraid of me. I could see it in your eyes when I opened the door."

"I might have been...uneasy then. I'm not now."

"Scully, it's all right. Something evil took possession of me. That much neither one of us can deny. What I did to you in the office - the restaurant - was unforgivable."

"It wasn't you, Mulder. It was your body, yes, but it wasn't you. Besides, whatever it was is gone now."

"What made it leave?"

She couldn't answer.

He leaned forward, resting his head in his hands. "You'd have been better off if you'd never met me, Scully. I'm in a downward spiral, and I'm pulling everyone I know down with me. Get away from me while you have the chance."

Dana moved closer and gently put her hand under his chin. She turned his face toward her. "Mulder, haven't you figured out by now that I don't want to lose you? My head tells me these memories aren't real, but my heart tells me they are. I don't know which to believe. I do remember the knife. I remember...killing you with it. I don't know why I would remember something like that, but the thought terrifies me. When I saw you unconscious in the car after the crash, I was sure you were dead. I don't ever want to go through that again. The thought of being apart..." Her voice trailed off. The idea was too difficult to put into words.

He shook his head as if he couldn't believe what she was telling him. "I've caused you nothing but pain and suffering."

"Listen to me," she said firmly. "If I'd never met you, I'd have missed out on my closest friend in the world. Mulder, you're the most important person in my life. No one could ever replace you." For once he was speechless and simply stared at her in wonder. "I want you to know something else," she continued. "What we shared in the office - the two of us together - was real. Don't ever doubt that for a second."

"I wasn't myself. I tried to take something from you I had no right to take."

"No, what I gave, I gave freely." She cast her eyes down, suddenly shy. "I would have given more..."

It was the first time Scully revealed her true feelings. In this unexpected moment, his fears gave way to tenderness. "You really mean it? You don't hate me?"

"Mulder, what more do I have to say to convince you?"

"Nothing, I believe you. It was special for me, too. I wish it could have been under different circumstances." He lightly touched the soft skin of her cheek. "Maybe we'll have another chance to..."

She smiled and pressed her finger against his lips. "We will."

They both fell into silence. After a few moments he said, "I've tried to figure it out, Scully. If it did happen - why? Why was I spared?"

"In my head I hear a woman's voice. She said that you were forced down the wrong path and that our destinies lie elsewhere."

"Who?"

"Caitlin," Scully answered after a pause. "She's been ...watching over me."

"The young girl?"

Scully nodded.

"Did she say that while we were in the restaurant?"

"No," Scully replied, "I think it was afterwards. I can picture being in a forest."

"But you were never in the forest, Scully. Unless-"

"I know what you're thinking - unless something really did happen to us. I have a hard time accepting that, Mulder."

"Do you know who she is?"

Dana thought for a moment. "I have a pretty good idea."

"Well?"

She hesitated, "I think she's the same person who watched over me in the hospital - only in a different form."

"Like a guardian angel?"

"I guess. Something like that."

Mulder wasn't surprised by her words and seemed to take what she was saying quite seriously. Scully thought it a typically Mulder reaction. He was always the first person to take anything supernatural at face value.

"Well," he said with a smile, "if she's your guardian angel, Scully. I guess you're mine. I think I'm going to need one."

"Mulder, it's over. You were injured in a car crash and you're recovering. The only thing that matters now is that, despite all these frightening memories, you're alive and we're still together."

Scully watched familiar shadows of pain return to his expression. "I can't help but remember what Maggie Holvey said after all those tragedies occurred during her son's possession."

"What's that?"

"She said 'Evil follows evil. Once someone suffers a misfortune, they'll always have bad luck.' Scully, I had no control over what took place a couple of days ago. I have no control over what will happen tomorrow or next week."

"Mulder, it's behind us - it's over. Whatever awaits us in the future, we'll face together."

Dana took him in her arms and held him tightly, wishing she could protect him from all the horrors he feared - even if they were only in his mind.

Scully flinched as a gust of hot air suddenly brushed her arm. Mulder shuddered as the racing air burned his skin. Scully saw a myriad of emotions reflected in his face in an instant - recognition, disbelief, anger, panic, and ultimately fear. Absolute, abject terror. His body began to tremble violently and she could see fresh tears cloud his eyes.

"Scully, did you -?"

She started to answer but stopped short, staring intently at the desk. Mulder also froze, his body rigid and tense. Nothing moved. The air hung heavy and still. Across the room, a few loose papers lifted from the desk and fell silently to the floor.

The End

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