Title: Long Dark Night
I hope it is enjoyed by all. Please feel free to send comments, via e-mail or posts. Disclaimer: The characters and situation of the television series, The X-Files are the creations and property of Chris Carter, Fox Broadcasting, and Ten Thirteen Productions, and have been used without permission. NO copyright infringements are intended.
Summary: Scully wolf. Mulder dinner.
Skyline Mountain Drive
It was a four-hour trip to the cabin along Skyline Drive. Neither agent Scully nor Mulder had to remind the other of the last time this scenic route had been taken. Both agents sat in stiff-lipped silence most of the way, speaking only when it was necessary to request a rest stop, to check directions. Mulder had given up asking if his partner was all right. Scully had moved on from the normal "I'm fine, Mulder," to just glaring at him. She didn't want to take this journey, fought against it, but ultimately gave in after a night of apparent horror. Apparent, because she had no recollection of the events Mulder claimed had taken place. No recollection of the torn clothing found discarded in her apartment. No recollection of the blood not hers - that stained her fingers and around her mouth. She refused to believe.
She caught Mulder checking his watch again, and looking at her with that "are you okay?" look in his sad, worried eyes. "It's two hours until dark," she told him, watching the scenery flash by. It was a cloudy day and both of them knew that darkness would fall a little sooner tonight. Mulder pressed the accelerator down and the Taurus picked up speed.
They stopped earlier at a large grocery store in Manassas for a few food supplies and necessities, and for blank videotapes. Scully stood by and watched as Mulder raced through the store grabbing whatever he deemed they might need without thought to size or price. He threw it all in a red hand basket then dumped it on the counter and handed his credit card over to a youngish cashier. Along with toilet paper, bagels, bottled water, canned soup, freeze dried coffee and candy bars was a brown leather muzzle for a very large dog. Scully saw it before the cashier could scan it, and grabbed it.
"Put it back," Mulder demanded, embarrassed that his partner had seen it.
"What's this for, Mulder? WHAT IS THIS FOR?"
Mulder tried to grab it from her. She threw the muzzle at him, the buckled end clipped his chin. He felt for blood. A tiny spot decorated his fingertip. Scully ran from the store, disappearing in a sea of parked pickup trucks.
"Do you want this?" the embarrassed cashier asked, holding up the muzzle.
He came out of the store, arms filled with bags. Scully was not by the car. He almost panicked. Felt that hot adrenaline rush that signaled flight or fight. He'd lost her once. He couldn't lose her again. He knew what was at stake. And then he heard a small choking sound. Crouched beside a large midnight blue, overly decorated RV was Scully, crying and throwing up. Mulder sat the bags on the hood of the Taurus and ran to her side. He reached out, tried to comfort her, but she shook him off and continued with her dry heaves.
"I'm not a monster," she said between gags. Mulder pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and held it in front of Scully. She snatched it angrily from him, not even looking at him. "I'm not a monster," she repeated.
Mulder took two steps back and let her finish. He was glad her back was to him. This way, she couldn't see her partner's eyes begin to well up.
They drove up the dead leaf covered trail to the little wooden cabin that belonged to their boss, Walter Skinner. Skinner was not too keen on the idea of letting his charges borrow the cabin. But Mulder could be very persuasive when his beliefs were at stake. And now he believed that only he could save his partner.
Mulder stopped the car and got out. It was getting colder, and already the sun was beginning to slip behind the trees. "Feel like helping me unpack?" he asked. Scully said nothing, but slung her overnight bag over her shoulder, grabbed two of the grocery bags and headed for the door.
The cabin smelled of damp wood and dust. The electricity still worked, but the lights were dim and flickered frequently, which made Mulder a bit nervous. Bad lighting would produce a poor video image. No electricity would mean no record of the event - no proof. No proof would mean having a hard time trying to convince Scully of the truth.
Once he was sure the place was secure - no evidence of break-ins or dangerous animal infestations -- he ushered Scully in. She dropped the bags and moved like a zombie around the cabin, drawn to the stone cold fireplace. She squatted down and brushed cobwebs away with a gloved hand. "I'll build a fire, if you get the wood," she offered Mulder.
"Deal," he said, and disappeared outside.
In no time Scully had a nice little fire going and the cabin was quickly warming. Both had been able to come out of their coats and gloves and move around more comfortably. At least, physically.
The tension between the two agents had reached a level neither of them had ever experienced. It was palpable. Almost alive, like a third presence that passed licks between the two of them to piss them off and instigate a fight. They stayed far away from each other. Yet both kept looking to the windows to watch the quickening night.
While Scully made coffee and warmed up a couple cans of chunky soup to keep busy, Mulder prepared the outer room by moving furniture out of the way and setting up the video camera. The lens was focused on a spot near the fireplace, where sat a heavy wooden chair and chains with wrist and ankle cuffs. The chain was connected to a piton driven deeply into the brick fireplace. It could probably hold, but not for long.
Scully came out of the kitchen with two steaming cups, and saw Mulder testing the strength of the chains. Once done, he removed from a small black case a dart gun, the kind zoologists might use to tranquilize a particularly nasty, uncooperative beast. Scully let out a tiny gasp and her hands began to shake, hot coffee spilling. Mulder raced to her and took the cups away and sat them down, then put an arm around her shoulder. "You're trembling."
No kidding, she wanted to say, but didn't. She just nodded and felt herself drawn to his warmth. "This isn't happening. You can't really believe this."
"We'll know very shortly. If it happens, we'll be ready for it. If it doesn't, and I put you through all this for nothing, you can use that dart gun on me for target practice." He was warmed by the weak smile on her face. He pulled her close, big hands tightly clutching her arms, hazel eyes burrowing into crystal blue. "I won't let anything happen to you, Scully. I promise. You believe that, don't you?"
Scully nodded and looked away. She didn't know what to believe, and knew he would see it in her eyes.
"It's show time," he said.
Scully straightened her sweater and moved to the chair. She sat down and put her arms on the armrests. Resignation. Submission. "Let's get this over with."
Mulder knelt and placed the cuffs around her wrists.
"Too tight?" he asked gently. She shook her head.
Mulder attached the ankle cuffs last. He looked her in her eyes, ran a hand down her cheek. "Dana," he said, "I..."
"I know, Mulder," she said tearfully. "Let's do it."
Mulder moved to the video camera and turned it on. He checked the focus. "Looks good," he said.
"I feel like I' m in one of those awful videos you like so much. 'FBI Chicks in Chains' , or something."
Mulder laughed weakly, then began. " We' re rolling. October eighteenth, six eleven p.m."
Sligo Creek Parkway
It had started as a car chase through the winding parkway with its hairpin turns and occasional deer crossings. Mulder was at the wheel, with Scully riding shotgun as they chased down suspected serial killer Duncan Earl Sloane -- dubbed "The Mangler" by the local news. Seven dead in three months, male and female, young and old. Bodies torn to shreds, parts missing, organs ripped out, and extremities apparently consumed.
Forensics reports showed that the hair and saliva samples found on the victims were of a canine variety, however traces of human DNA were more than a little evident. It was Scully's conclusion that the reason for this was that Sloane used a large dog - or perhaps even a domesticated and trained wolf - as the murder weapon, unleashing the beast on unsuspecting victims, then observing and enjoying as the animal mangled its human prey. It stood to reason he would have access to such canine critters, as he was a veterinarian by trade.
It was her partner's theory that Duncan Earl Sloane, aside from being a vet, was also a werewolf. The murders followed a pattern that indicated moon phases, always happened during the hours between sunset and sunrise, and they could not find a match for the hybrid hair and saliva samples among the animals being treated by Sloane.
Scully scoffed at Mulder's theory, but as always, carried on with the investigation in hopes of finding a scientific answer to a mythical or paranormal situation. They had tracked Sloane's comings and goings, keeping a closer watch on him as the week moved closer and closer to the first night of the full moon. Mulder, ever zealous in his search for the truth, dragged Scully to Sloane's apartment, hoping to witness a transformation. Both agents were surprised that Sloane actually invited them in. Mulder unceremoniously accused Sloane of lycanthropic activities, to which Sloane laughed, then leaped out of his seventh story window.
Before Mulder and Scully left to give chase, Mulder noticed the chains and cuffs near the sofa. The sofa itself was filled with deep claw marks and exposed yellow foam rubber. Mulder had found his man. Or beast.
Mulder fought the wheel to keep on the road behind Sloane. "He's gonna change, Scully," he shouted.
"Change? Mulder, you still don't believe -"
Mulder fought to stop the car and keep from hitting Sloane's, which had slammed into an ancient oak and backed out onto the middle of the road. Sloane leaped out of the car and ran off into the trees. Mulder climbed out, pulled his gun from his belt. "Call the Montgomery County Police," he said breathlessly. "Tell them to bring a tranquilizer gun. I want to take him alive if we can."
"You're not going in there after him alone!" Scully demanded. Mulder ran off, disappearing into the inky darkness of the park, as Scully shouted his name. Ticked off at being abandoned as always, Scully made the call to the police, pulling her own gun when she heard a rustling sound in the bushes. 'It could be a deer, or a skunk,' she told herself. 'Anything but a werewolf.' And then she heard a howl. It was close. Very close. She spun around, aiming her gun in the direction of the sound, but saw nothing but black night beyond the reach of the car's headlights. She ducked into the car for a flashlight, hands fumbling through the glove compartment, finding everything but what she wanted. Her hand finally fell on the silvery metal torch. She sighed with relief. Her relief didn't last long.
As she ducked out of the car there was something standing in front of her. Big, hairy, its breath sending out thick vapors into the damp cold, it's eyes a bluish white, its teeth yellow and bared. Before she could scream or shoot, it clamped its fetid jaws around Scully's forearm. The pain did not even register at first. Just the shock of the creature, the fact that she had dropped her flashlight, and that she was being bitten. She fired twice into the creature's head point blank. It's jaws instantly released as its forehead exploded, splashing her with warm blood. She sank to the ground, holding her bitten arm close to her, the pain finally registering.
She saw the beast, it's tongue lolling outside its jaws, the top half of its' head gone. She sank deeply and thankfully into unconsciousness.
Mulder was there in seconds, his gun ready, a slight tremor to his hand. He knew instantly that his partner was in trouble, and that he wasn't there for her. When he arrived, he found Scully lying on the ground. Near her was the dead, naked body of Duncan Earl Sloane. The top of his head was gone.
Scully woke up a day and a half later in a private room at Georgetown Hospital. Mulder was sleeping in a chair. He hadn't changed, bathed or shaved since the incident at Sligo Creek Park.
She raised her arm and found it heavily bandaged. Whatever painkiller they had given her was starting to wear off; the wound was throbbing and beginning to burn. It also had a very unusual itch -- bone-deep and unrelenting. She tried weakly to dig a finger inside the bandage to scratch. She groaned with frustration, the bandage too tight to allow her to hit to the spot to relieve the itch.
Mulder stirred when he heard his partner groan, and sat up, wiping a thin line of spittle from the corner of his mouth. "Scully, you're awake."
She barely acknowledged him. She continued digging, tearing away the gauze.
"Stop that," he admonished. When she did not, he rose and reached out and grabbed both her wrists. "Hey...stop that."
"Hello to you, too. How do you feel?"
"I'm not sure yet. My arm hurts, Mulder. And it itches."
"I'm sure the doctor can give you something for that. Listen, about the other night..."
Doctor Veronica Penn walked in -- a tall African American woman with dreadlocks wrapped in a beautiful silk scarf. "Welcome back, Ms. Scully," she said with a warm smile. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm not sure."
"Mr. Mulder, would you mind waiting outside while I examine my patient?"
"Tell her about the tests," he told the doctor as he exited.
"Tests? What tests?" An old familiar fear crept around Scully's throat like fingers, squeezing.
"Your blood tests. There was a bit of a problem."
"What kind of problem?"
"There must have been some sort of contamination. I don't know how. So we'll have to start all over again."
"What kind of contamination, doctor?"
"Don't ask me how," Dr. Penn said as she took Scully's pulse, "but somehow, your blood tests got mixed up with someone else's. Well, more like, something else. It's not human."
"What is it?"
"Closest we can tell, it's probably something akin to a dog, or, more specifically, a wolf."
Scully's blood went cold.
Cabin -- Skyline Mountain Drive 7:39 pm
Mulder sat watching his partner, his eyes never leaving her except to occasionally check the tranquilizer gun to make sure the dart was properly loaded. He could not afford any mistakes.
It tore him apart to see Scully suffering, to see this once powerful, dynamic agent and friend reduced to the trembling figure in chains before him. She tried at first to be Scully-strong - no tears, nonplussed, unaffected. But now it seemed to have worn off. She was sweating profusely, fidgeting, and looking far from the conservatively elegant agent he once knew. She looked - wild.
"Mulder, it's hot in here," she said with a tremulous voice. "Can you open a window, or put out the fire, or something?" She jerked the chain as if somewhere in that petite frame resided enough strength to actually break it.
"Can you describe what you're feeling," Mulder asked in a clinical manner. It hurt to do it, but he needed it for the tape, for proof for Scully, after the fact.
"Mulder, please. Take these things off. Nothing's going to happen. I'm fine." Her voice did not sound like her own.
"Describe how you feel. Please, Dana."
"I feel...hot, and itchy, like I'm about to jump out of my own skin. I feel angry. Trapped. Take these off."
"I can't, Dana."
"Don't call me Dana! You never call me Dana."
Mulder stood up and turned away. He couldn't take this any longer. The temptation to remove the chains was intense. But he had to stay the course. Scully would do this for him.
"Mulder, please. I'm sick."
He spun around immediately.
"I hurt Mulder. Please. I have to go to the bathroom. Take off the chains. Please."
Mulder left the room for a second, and came back with a large Dutch oven from kitchen. He sat it in front of Scully. "Use that."
Scully pushed the pot back at Mulder. "Damn you! GET THESE THINGS OFF ME!" She went into a fit, yelling and pulling and yanking at the chains. Mulder watched, horrified. He picked up the tranquilizer gun, knowing that at any moment he would have to use it on his closest friend.
"It's SO HOT!" She began pulling at her clothes, pulling her sweater from her neck, ripping it, revealing the thin tee shirt underneath.
Mulder moved to the video camera to make sure it was working properly. This was it.
Scully look directly at Mulder as he looked through the lens. "It's YOUR FAULT that I'm here! If you hadn't left me alone, this NEVER-WOULD-HAVE-HAPPENED!"
"Scully, I'm --"
She propelled herself forward, the chains yanking her back, the cuffs digging into her swelling wrists and ankles. "Let me GO, Mulder. You're killing me! Don't you understand, I'm going to DIE! Let me go, Mulder! "
"No, Scully. I can't. I'm sorry."
She began her mad screaming and yanking fit again, this time more frenzied and demonic than before. Mulder found himself backing up, afraid of his partner.
"IHATEYOUIHATEYOUIHATEYOUIHATEYOU!" she screamed over and over, and then, becoming still, she looked into his eyes. Her own eyes had turned a peculiar shade of blue, like a husky's. And her teeth had sharpened and elongated, forcing her jaw to protrude strangely. White foam showed in the corner of her mouth. "I'm going to kill you, Fox," she said with a hiss. And then she hit the floor and began to writhe.
Mulder stepped forward, the tranquilizer gun aimed at his partner. This was it. Her red hair was standing up, bristling, and red fur was covering her face and hands. She was groaning and growling and shaking as her backbone snapped and reshaped, as her leg bones snapped and became hindquarters. Her clothing ripped from her as thick muscles bulged through her fur covered skin. Scully/It pulled the chains, and they fell apart as if they were made with construction paper and paste. Mulder back up and pulled the trigger.
The tranquilizer gun was jammed! He fought with the trigger and the dart, and brought it back up....
Her hand, or rather, paw, had claws at least two inches long. She raised it and swung out, knocking over the video camera and breaking it, clearing the way to Mulder. She was crouched down low, teeth bared, foam drool running, eyes that odd electric white-blue. Mulder fired. The dart hit Scully/It in the shoulder. She howled and slapped it out. Then she swung out at Mulder.
He heard something rip - was it his white shirt or his skin? - and felt intense heat spread across his chest. He hit the floor hard, the back of his head smacking against the leg of a table. He was barely conscious, but conscious enough see Scully/It throw herself through the cabin window and run off howling into the night.
Freezing air hit Mulder. He tried to rise, but could not. His head was swimming, and his chest was burning like fire. He looked down at the front of his shirt. 'That's a lot of blood,' he thought, just before he passed out.
October 18 6:50 am
In his dream the phone was ringing. Mulder answered, but it kept on ringing. Then he woke up. He was still on his sofa, the television set still on. He grabbed the phone just before the answering machine engaged.
"Collect call to Fox Mulder from Dana Scully. Do you accept the charges?"
"Yes, operator. Scully?"
There was a moment of silence, then the sound of a woman trying not to cry. "Mmmmah...Mulder?"
All vestiges of sleep were gone. His entire body was on physical alert, his mind geared solely towards his partner.
"Scully, what is it? What...?"
"Mulder, I need your help."
"I'll be right there."
"I'm not at home, I'm at a pay phone."
"I don't know."
"I woke up, Mulder, and I was in the middle of nowhere. I was lying on the ground in the woods. I don't know where I am. I'm so cold...." Her voice caught as she forced out the last bit of information. "I'm...I'm not wearing.... My clothes are gone. And there's blood..."
A knife in the chest would have hit him with less impact. He shot up, began pacing. He couldn't even speak.
"Are you there, Mulder?"
He stopped. Clenched his eyes shut. "Yes, yes, um...I'm here. Scully, were you sexually assaulted?"
"I don't know! That's just it, Mulder. I don't remember anything! I'm not injured, the blood isn't mine. Mulder, can you come and get me?"
"I'm on my way. Look around you, tell me what you see?"
"I see a gas station, but I think it's closed down. There's a main highway, but there's no traffic."
"What's the phone number in the booth?"
Of course! Scully felt foolish, giving in to her fear and losing her agent's edge. She immediately wiped away her tears and focused on getting herself out. She rattled off the Virginia number to Mulder.
"I'm on my way Scully."
Thirty minutes later, Mulder was parking at the old gas station. He jumped out of the car, a thermal blanked over his shoulder and a balled up New York Knicks sweat suit and socks tucked under his arm, along with a couple of baggies just in case he needed them for evidence. His heart was pounding hard in his chest as he swept the area with his eyes. He saw the dense, uncleared area off the road, where Scully must have regained consciousness, and raced across the empty highway.
It was darker, cooler, moister in this thicket, he noticed. He stopped and turned full circle looking for his partner. "Scully! Scully!"
"Over here, Mulder!" He was moving before she finished saying his name.
He found her sitting against a tree, knees up, arms and hands covering her nakedness from the cold as well as his eyes.
He knelt down, instinct telling him not to touch her, not yet. Be clinical, detached. Give her space. "I brought you these," he said, handing her the clothes, and holding up the blanket like a screen between them to give her privacy.
Scully dressed quickly in the socks and too-big sweat suit, then allowed Mulder to wrap the blanket around her shoulders.
"Do you remember anything?"
"No, I don't. I woke up over there," she said pointing.
Mulder walked over and searched the area for evidence, what ever he could find to answer his questions. He knelt down. There was blood, all right. He dropped a blood stained dried leaf into a baggie. He followed the thin blood trail to what appeared to be the corpse of a large opossum. Its neck was broken, and its guts had been hollowed out. A million flies covered it, finishing it off.
"What is it?" Scully was right behind him. Mulder stood up and turned, not wanting her to see the horror on the ground. It was then that he noticed the thin, reddish discoloration around his partner's mouth. He felt his stomach turn.
"Look," said Mulder, successfully distracting her, "why don't I take you to the hospital now."
"No," she said nervously. "I'm fine."
"You're not fine. You could have a head injury, that would explain your lack of memory."
"Mulder, I'm a doctor. I know when I'm injured. I don't have a head injury. There are no scars, bruises or evidence that suggests I've been hurt in any way." She looked down at her hands, at the dark stains under her finger nails. "It looks more likely that I hurt someone."
Mulder was stunned. He fought not to look back at the dead opossum. His head shifted to the side ever so slightly, much like a puppy trying to comprehend a new command. "What are you saying?"
"I'm not saying anything Mulder, other than I have no idea what happened. I just want to go home. Where's your car?"
"No. Scully. If you were me, and I were you, you'd want me to get checked out. Wouldn't you?"
"Then let's go get checked out."
Veronica Penn was sitting in the doctor's lounge, watching the news and enjoying a blueberry fat free yogurt, her first meal in several hours, when the door to the lounge opened. She recognized the woman who walked in and involuntarily dropped her spoon into her lap. The woman was as pale as a ghost, and looked as if she'd been to hell and back.
"Oh, my God, Agent Scully?"
"I need your help."
"I'm not comfortable with this. It's my duty to file a report if I believe a crime has been committed." She had Scully follow her index finger with her eyes.
"I appreciate that, doctor. However, I'm not sure what crime that would be. I have no recollection. For all I know, it could be some sort of post-traumatic reaction to the events of the last few days, or even a reaction to medication."
"Regardless, someone should know. You may want to talk to a staff counselor. You can also confide in me, if you need to." Penn placed the cold end of a stethoscope to Scully's chest. "Was it your partner?"
"What are you saying?"
"It wouldn't be the first time something like this has happened. Sometimes, male partners -"
Scully almost laughed. "Doctor, I assure you, Agent Mulder is not responsible for this." Or maybe he was, Scully thought. If only he hadn't left her alone....
An hour later, Dr. Penn whipped back the curtain and offered a hand to help Scully down off the table. "You can get dressed now. Other than an extremely mild case of exposure, I can find nothing physically abnormal about you. No evidence of penetration, no cuts, no bruises, not even a hangnail. Frankly, I'm confused. Your blood test results should be back from the lab in another hour. Will you wait for them, or should someone call you at home?"
"Home will be fine. And if my partner should answer, I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't discuss the results with him."
"May I ask, just what are you expecting to find?"
"I'll know when I find it."
The door to Scully's apartment was ajar when they arrived. Mulder pulled his gun and motioned his unarmed partner to step behind him. He reached out cautiously and pushed the door the rest of the way. Sunlight pouring through the windows illuminated the mess that was the living room.
"Oh my God," Scully gasped as the two agents stepped in. The sofa had a deep gouge along the back. The coffee table was a pile of splintered cherry wood. Her dinner tray was on the floor, her half eaten spaghetti dinner swirled about the carpet. The television screen appeared to have been kicked in. Scully's clothing - blue jeans and a mint green v-neck sweater, were in tatters on the floor. The livingroom window was broken. Mulder carefully noted that most of the glass was on the outside, indicating a breakout rather than a break-in.
"Don't touch anything," Mulder said, putting away his gun and continuing his walk around the apartment, absorbing everything, analyzing every inch of his partner's home. "Remember anything yet?"
Scully merely shook her head, then bent down to examine her discarded clothing. How could she rip off her clothes and going running around the streets of Virginia in the middle of the night without them? "What happened?" she whispered.
"I got a couple of theories," Mulder said, almost flippantly, "but I have a feeling you're not gonna like them."
"No, Mulder! No, no, no!"
"Do you have a better theory, Scully? If you do, I'd like to hear it!"
"If I had a little more evidence, I could venture a theory, but --"
Mulder, exasperated, banged his fist against the wall so hard it made Scully jump.
"What," he asked, "do you think happened to you at Sligo Parkway that night? You saw it, I saw it -"
"I saw a dog, Mulder. A huge dog -"
"-- and I shot it. It attacked me and I shot it."
"Well, I saw a man," Mulder said, bending down, in her face, "with the top of his head blown off. Where did the 'dog' go?"
"Obviously I didn't kill it. Obviously it limped away."
"Aw, cut the bull, Scully!"
"No, YOU cut the bull! There is a perfectly logical explanation for this. The dog came after me -"
"Wolf! You said wolf in your report!"
"Wolf, then! The 'wolf' attacked me. I shot it twice, but it didn't die. It limped away. The shots went through the wolf and hit Sloane. Sloane crawled over while I was unconscious...."
"Wrong! I got there too quickly after the shots were fired. There was no time...."
"...and died where the wolf was."
"Sloane would have to be crouching directly behind the wolf to be hit twice from that trajectory. You can't tell me you wouldn't have noticed a naked man that close, I don't care how preoccupied you were. And explain this to me: How far can an animal limp after it's been shot twice in the head by you at point blank range, Scully?
"Pretty damn far, apparently, Mulder."
That was it. He'd had it. Mulder ran his hands through his hair, then flopped down on a chair at the kitchen table. His frustration level was at tilt. He hated when his partner closed off like this, refusing to believe. Refusing him.
Scully sat down in the opposite chair. "Believing in your abduction theories is one thing. I have seen enough over the years to make me consider at times re-assessing my rather hard-line, bound-by-science stance against extreme possibilities. But this, Mulder, this goes way beyond little green men. I am your partner, and I am your friend..." she reached out to touch his hand. He pulled away, dropping his hands into his lap. "but I'm not a werewolf."
"We'll know tonight."
Skyline Cabin 9:37 pm
Mulder came to, but lay still for a moment, gathering his thoughts, trying to piece together the events that lead to his current condition. It came back in a rush of horror - Scully! He sat up quickly and paid for it - searing pain shot across his chest. He let out a strangled cry and felt tears burning his eyes. He looked down and saw the wounds made by Scully. The diagonal gashes from his right shoulder to his left side, one gash missing his nipple by a breath. The wounds had dried, the blood congealed, his shirt adhering to the gash while he lay unconscious, but sitting up re-opened the wound. A fresh river of blood began running.
Mulder staggered to his feet and, holding onto the walls, made his way into the bathroom. He quickly washed the wounds and placed a few thick gauze pads on them, knowing it would do little to staunch the bleeding but not having time for anything else. He had to find Scully. Before she found somebody.
He stepped outside, flashlight and dart gun in hand, his service revolver tucked into the back of his pants. Mulder left the cabin in search of his partner. His legs felt rubbery, too weak to support his weight. His chest was burning from the gashes which were still seeping blood. "Scully!" Not a sound, other than his own voice echoing through the night air, and the sounds of trees being blown by a light autumn breeze.
And then he saw the car. The bureau's Taurus looked as if it had been rammed a few times by an angry bull. The front windshield was cracked in a mass of spidery lines. The front tire on the driver's side was flat. No quick get-aways tonight, Mulder thought.
He had gone so deep into the woods, he barely knew which way lead back to the cabin. Mulder was having a hard time breathing - the cold and the pain from his wound threatened to end his search. He'd been at for a couple of hours, but still no sign of Scully. Even the flashlight battery was ready to give up, its once bright white beam diminished to one of dull yellow. Mulder banged it against his thigh a few times. The light became brighter, then instantly died. Mulder flung it to the ground, losing his balance and falling to his knees.
I've failed you, Scully, he thought. I brought you up here to protect you, to prove it to you, and I blew it. Damp cold instantly began seeping through his jeans. He stood up, nearly falling twice, and continued on into the woods.
Mulder stepped on something that felt like neither ground nor stone. He looked down, and instantly fell backwards, crabwalking away from his discovery.
It was Scully, still very much transformed. The tranquilizer had obviously taken effect. She/It lay with mouth slightly open, tongue hanging out the side, one front paw raised and bent. Mulder got down on his hands and knees and crawled closer. Closer. He noticed the eyes, attempting to open. She/It shuttered, kicking hind legs as if reacting to a bad dream.
Fear became fascination as Mulder reached out slowly, his long fingers gently touching the fur on Scully/It's face. He stroked her neck, and ran a hand from the tip of her nose over the back of her head. It was silkier than he thought it would be, and warm. Both hands on her now, slowly kneading her neck as if she was a much loved pet. He moved closer, close enough to smell her damp fur. She let out a sedated growl, and Mulder backed off. "Sssshhhh..." he said. "I hate to do this to you, Scully," he said as he rose and aimed the dart gun at her chest, "but I can't have you wake up hungry and pissed off at me."
Thwop! He shot another dart into Scully. She kicked once, twice, and continued sleeping. Mulder grabbed hold of Scully's arms and began dragging the beast/partner, back to the cabin. His chest was burning like fire with each pull. He stopped frequently hoping the pain would subside, but it didn't .
"Putting on a little weight, aren't you Scully?" he said with a pained chuckle. "Looks good on you."
Skyline Cabin Next Day 7:03 am
She ached from every joint. Her skin felt hot and tender, as if she had a high fever from a powerful flu bug. Her mouth tasted like something nasty had crawled inside of it, put its feet up on the sofa and made itself at home. Her shoulder and a spot above her left breast throbbed as if she been poked by a big, sharp stick. She was lying near the fireplace, covered by several blankets. Underneath she was naked. Nearby were the broken chains and the remains of the chair. Disjointed memories leaped on her like a rabid collie. "God!" she yelled.
Mulder was lying on the sofa, the dart gun resting in his lap. He heard her yell and sat up quickly. His chest wounds reminded him never to do that again.
They stared at one another, neither sure of what to say. Mulder went first. "You broke the video camera. There goes my deposit. The tape, however," he said, holding it up, "is intact. Proof, Scully."
"Of what, Mulder? What happened? Did I change?"
She jumped up and scurried naked across the floor to the bathroom. It was the most violent retching Mulder had ever heard.
Mulder came into the bathroom with a blanket. He knelt down and covered her shivering body with it, then held her head as she continued to retch. Once done, she let him hold her while she wiped her mouth with a towel.
"This doesn't make sense. It's impossible. I mean, how many laws of nature of we breaking here? You just don't swap DNA like baseball cards. It can't be done. I am a human being, and that is an unchanging, universal truth. No full moons or animal bites can alter that. I am what I am."
"I should warn you, Scully, quoting Popeye is one of my turn-ons."
"I'm scared, Mulder."
She pulled away and turned to face him. "Oh God, did I kill anyone? Did I hurt anyone? Mulder?"
"I don't know," he lied, the pain in his chest where Scully's head was resting earlier making him tremble. "As far as I can tell, you trashed the car, ran wild and passed out about a mile and a half away from the cabin. I've been known to do that myself after a few too many beers."
He expected to see her smile, but she didn't. "I found you, tranquilized you again and dragged you back to the cabin around midnight, where you've been ever since."
This seemed to calm her a bit. "What happens tonight? Will it happen again?
"Hopefully, no. There's no full moon tonight."
Scully gathered the blanket around her and stood up. "I need a shower, Mulder."
He got the message and stood, trying not to let his partner know how much pain he was in. Scully, however, had her eyes transfixed on the cloth Mulder had used the night before to clean the wound, still resting on the sink. It was still damp, and still bloody. There was blood staining the sink, and the wrappings from several gauze pads were scattered about. "Whose blood is this, Mulder?"
Mulder said nothing. He looked way, looked at the floor, not wanting to answer.
Scully snatched up the cloth and held it up to Mulder's face. "Whose blood is this! Damn it, Mulder, tell me!" Scully grabbed Mulder by the front of his shirt and pushed him up against the wall. "I have to know. Tell me! Whose blood is this?"
Scully felt no resistance from him, no fight. His head was back, his eyes were shut tight. A gasp escaped between his clenched teeth. He was shuddering involuntarily.
"Mine," he said just above a whisper. He pushed her away and slumped over, covering his chest.
"Let me see," she said, not really wanting to, by needing to see. Scully reached out to unbutton his shirt.
"No, Scully...." He grabbed her hands to stop her. "It's not that bad."
She ripped his shirt open and saw the blood-soaked bandages, barely covering the three deep scores across her partner's chest.
"I did that to you?" Scully backed away until she hit the wall. Fleeting memories again, like a blow to the side of her head. Just images, and the remembrance of the smell of her partner's blood. "You should have shot me, Mulder."
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Three new folders - X-Files - were on Mulder's desk unopened, untouched. He sat holding the video tape he had made two night before at the cabin. He was only a few feet from the television and VCR, but he could not bring himself to insert it and watch it.
His chest was still sore. What hurt worse was that he had yet to hear from Scully since she insisted on being left alone at her apartment. He reached for his phone to give her a call, but thought better of it. If she was fine, she might think him overbearing and over-protective. If she was not fine, he'd know eventually.
His thoughts kept returning to the night before. They had spent one more evening at the cabin, just in case. Scully sat curled up on the sofa waiting for something to happen. The dart gun never stayed far from Mulder's reach.
Scully was determined to uncover a memory of her transformation, no matter how deeply rooted it was in her psyche.
"The closest thing to a memory I can identify was in those few seconds before the transformation was complete, I imagine. There was no language. Only instinct, sensation. Fear, hunger, pain, exhilaration. Everything smelled really...loud. I could smell everything. Even fear."
"Yes. That's all I seem to remember."
"Why didn't you kill me?"
"I don't know, Mulder. I must've been distracted. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."
"Do you think that somewhere, even after you had completely transformed, there was enough Scully left to maintain control, still enough human awareness to deny animal instinct and make a conscious decision to let me live?"
"I can't answer that, Mulder. Maybe. Maybe not. You were there. What do you think?"
"I think it's late enough to assume you're gonna stay Scully. We should hit the road."
"Is the car drive-able?"
"Yeah, I changed the tire. It's still mobile. I'm not telling Skinner what happened to it." He took the keys and placed them in Scully's hand. "Why don't you drive."
"You want me to drive? Are you in pain?"
"No, actually, I feel pretty good," Mulder assured her. "I just need you to know that I trust you, Dana, and I can't think of any way to show you than to let you drive. It's stupid, I know, but I don't know what else --"
"It's not stupid," she said, a little embarrassed.
"Just don't slam us into any trees."
Mulder snapped out of his reverie when the door to his basement office opened, and Dana Scully walked in. She looked weary, as if she'd spend the entire night staring at the ceiling.
Scully came straight in and sat in the chair across from Mulder's desk. "I've given this a lot of thought, Mulder. I don't know what else to say. I'm turning in my resignation to Skinner, effectively immediately."
Mulder shifted forward in his chair, heart racing. "You can't quit, Scully."
"What else can I do? I can't carry a badge and a gun, be pledged to protect the public trust, knowing that once in a while I might feel the urge to rip out an innocent human being's throat."
"This is the best resource available to find a cure for what you have."
"I metamorphosized into a beast, Mulder. I changed genetic structure. I don't think there's a cure for such a thing. Except ..."
"If the myth holds true," she said, looking her partner square in the eyes, "then the only cure in my future is a silver bullet."
"NO!" Mulder rose from his desk, swatting his thigh with the video tape. "I don't accept that."
"What else did you have in mind? I'm open to suggestions here."
"We'll take a leave of absence, both of us, and go away somewhere until we figure this out."
"Skinner would never let us do that. He'll know something's up."
"Then we'll start digging, right now, through every scrap of paper in the X-Files, and we won't stop until we find something, anything, that will help you. The truth is in these files, Dana. And we'll find it."
"I don't think there's any truth in there for me, Mulder. Not this time."
Mulder threw the tape against the wall with such force that the plastic casing shattered and tiny black bits shot around the room like buckshot. Mulder could have kicked himself, having ruined the proof he had so meticulously gathered, but it was obvious his partner already believed. That was the first step. Now, how do you help her?
"Damn it, Scully! You're a doctor, a scientist! Stop thinking like a victim here. Think like the scientist you are." He crouched down low to whisper to her. She stared straight ahead, a single tear holding on to her upper right eyelash.
"What do we know so far?" he asked.
"I can't think right now."
"Sure you can!"
Scully sat up, took a deep breath. "I was attacked and bitten by what appeared to be a wolf. I was infected with something in that attack, something in the saliva that causes changes in the victim's DNA. Duncan Earl Sloane was most likely infected, and passed it on to me. Which means someone had to give it to him. I suppose it wouldn't hurt if I took a look at Sloane's corpse, maybe arrange for a second autopsy."
"Now you're talking." Mulder rose and opened the door. "You go talk to the coroner and see what you can do."
Scully rose, heading for the door, starting to feel some of her old juices coursing through her veins again. "Fine. What are you going to do?"
"I'm gonna check out Alpha Wolf Sloane's den."
Duncan Sloane's Apartment
The door to Duncan Earl Sloane's apartment was not locked. When Mulder entered, he found the place had been cleaned out. The furniture was gone, clothes, dishes, books. Defeat threatened to overtake him, but Mulder pushed it aside. Carpets, he thought, are like a magnet for evidence, and squatted down to check the fibers. Nothing unusual. Yet.
He walked through the spacious, empty rooms. Good sunlight, he thought, looking out the grimy windows to see what was down below. The window Sloane had jumped out of had been fixed. A sticker showed up brightly on a clean sheet of new glass. Mulder moved to the window and opened it. He examined the dirty window sill, carefully picking through the dirt and chipped plaster. There were several small hairs. Mulder carefully picked them out of the window and dropped them into an evidence bag.
He continued moving around the apartment, to the bathroom. He opened the medicine cabinet - nothing. He tried the bathtub faucet. It spat out dirty brown water that splashed Mulder's suit. He turned it off quickly, then moved to peer behind the toilet. There was a cigarette butt. He fished out the butt and held it up. It was a Morely.
Scully was pacing the outer office of the Coroner's, cell phone to her ear, waiting for Mulder to answer her call. Finally he picked up.
"Where have you been!"
"Sorry, my phone was off. What's up with Sloane's carcass?"
"You tell me, Mulder. It disappeared out of here within two hours of delivery. The man at the desk says three suits came in a claimed him as property of the DoD."
"We may not need Sloane."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm on my way to see Dr. Penn. She's got samples of my blood. If I'm infected, whatever was in Sloane's blood is obviously still in mine. I'll call you when I find something. What about you, what have you found?"
"I'm not sure, it could be everything, could be nothing. Suffice to say, where there's smoke, there's usually fire."
"I'm not following you."
"I'll explain later."
"Mulder, keep your phone on, okay?"
Georgetown Hospital Parking Garage
Veronica Penn walked off the elevator to the parking garage, heading for her car. It had been a long, challenging day crammed with demanding patients and administrative glitches and general tensions that come with the territory. She longed for a hot bath and a good movie on video to shake off the day. But she still had one more thing to take care of.
Agent Scully's blood test results showed that strange abnormality again. Perhaps the hospital should seriously consider changing lab personnel. She'd had them run it three times, and had put off calling Agent Scully over the weekend until she could get a result that made sense. Or maybe this was what the federal agent was looking for. One way or the other, she was determined to get an explanation before the evening was over. She would call Agent Scully herself tonight.
As she reached for the door to her car, she heard footsteps. She turned around quickly.
The bullet hit her clean between the eyes; she was dead before she hit the ground.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Mulder enter Skinner's outer office - there was no one there to announce him, so he let himself in.
"Sir?" The lights were off. There was no sign of Skinner. There was, however, the acrid smell of smoke.
"Do you ever get the feeling, Agent Mulder, that you're bad for your partner's health?"
Mulder turned on the light. The Cancer Man stood in a corner by a filing cabinet. The old man twirled a burning cigarette between his nicotine stained fingers as if it were a good Cuban cigar.
"You black lung sunova -"
"Really, Agent Mulder, you can be a little more original than that."
Mulder grabbed the old man by the lapels and shoved him up against the wall. "What do you know about all this?"
Mulder pulled the old man forward and slammed him harder against the wall. Cancer Man was nervous, but he knew Mulder so well. Could play him like a Stradivarius. Simply dangle the agent's partner in front of him. Equally, Mulder would never hurt him, not before he could get the answers he so desperately craved. His truth. Cancer Man smiled.
"If you're referring to Agent Scully..." he said, seeing the glint in Mulder's eyes at the mere mention of his partner, "I'm afraid I have no answers for you. At this time."
Mulder pulled his gun from his belt holster and shoved it in Cancer Man's face. "Make up a few."
"You won't shoot me. Because even if I don't have what you want, I may know where you can get it."
"Agent Mulder, you know me better than that. I'll expect a little something in return."
"Your soul." He took a long drag, and blew it in Mulder's face.
Scully arrived to find a swarm of police, security and a coroner's crew outside the hospital and surrounding the garage. Instinct told her to keep close and watch. She walked casually to the garage and flashed her FBI badge at the police officer responsible for keeping the curious back. He waved her through.
Scully stood over the body laying the ground. Somehow she knew who it was going to be before she lifted up the sheet.
"Did you know her?" a plain clothed detective asked as Scully let the sheet drop back on Dr. Penn. "No," Scully said, hoping she sounded convincing. "Wrong body." She casually walked away, entering the main entrance to the hospital.
Once out of the cops' view, Scully raced for the elevator. She needed to get to Dr. Penn's office before they did. She punched the third floor and fidgeted, waiting for the slow elevator doors to close.
Once on the floor, she tried to appear as if she belonged there, then ducked behind a corner, waiting for the corridor to clear before she attempted to enter Dr. Penn's office. She reached for the knob. It was not locked.
Dr. Penn's office was almost obsessively neat. Mulder could take a few lessons from her, she thought. She left the lights off as she wandered around. She found a stack of recent patient files and began flipping through them. Third from the bottom of the stack was her file - SCULLY, D.K. She opened it. It was empty.
Scully heard a noise from the doctor's examining room. She pulled out her gun and crept toward the door. She pushed it open ever so slightly and saw a man in a lab coat fiddling around with a tray of test tubes. He was reading the labels, and placing them back. Then he came across the one he was obviously looking for and was about to put it in his back pocket.
"Don't move," Scully warned, entering the room with her gun ready.
The man raised his arms in surrender, but there wasn't a hint of fear in his eyes. "What's this about?"
"What are you doing with that."
"This?" he asked, turning around and holding the test tube up for Scully to see? "My job. The lab got hold of the wrong tube. They sent me to get the right one."
"You put people's blood in your pocket?"
"Where else am I gonna put it?' The man smiled, seeming almost safe enough for Scully to believe. Until she looked down.
He was wearing black slacks and shiny black shoes. Expensive black shoes. Lab techs had tendency to eschew the more expensive stuff in favor of old jeans and sneakers.
Scully held out a hand. "Let me see it."
"Sure," he said, and held it out to Scully. As she reached for it, the man kicked the gun from Scully's hand, knocking her and the weapon to the floor. The man ran for the door. He almost made it.
She had no idea what came over her. A sound escaped her throat that sounded every bit like a hungry growl. She leaped and landed on the back of the man, knocking him to the floor. The tube of blood flew out of his hand. Blood and glass splattered the linoleum.
Scully flipped the man over and straddled him. Now he was afraid. She leaned in close to the man. She could smell him, smell the fear on him like the cheap ninety-nine cent store aftershave he was wearing. She could hear his heart beating, and tell just how fast and how powerfully his blood was pumping. She leaned in even closer and growled, eyeing his pale white throat. Foaming spittle from her mouth dripped on the man's face. That's what let her know something wasn't right.
The man screamed and covered his face. Scully backed off, her own fear building, but not of the man. It was fear of what she came very close to doing. She turned her back on the man, almost as if allowing him the chance to kill her. He didn't take it. He scrambled to his feet and ran out of the lab.
Scully wandered over to where the test tube had splattered. She picked up a piece of the thin glass that held the label. It read, Scully, DK. She wrapped the label in a paper towel, wiped up the blood, retrieved gun, grabbed her empty file, and made her way to the door to leave. She saw a mirror by the door. She took a look at herself. There was drying foam in the corner of her mouth. She wiped it away with her sleeve, and left.
A.D. Skinner's Office
Mulder backed away. Cancer Man dropped his cigarette on the carpet, stamped it out, then instantly lit up another.
"You see, Agent Mulder, you weren't the only one to witness Agent Scully's transformation the other night at the cabin."
"Don't be coy. You know what I'm talking about. There are several highly placed individuals on the project that are rather miffed that you and your partner destroyed Doctor Sloane. They weren't finished with him. They want Scully in exchange. One word from me, and I can dissuade them for you."
"Because I like you."
"Shut up!" Mulder knocked the cigarette out of the old man's mouth with his gun. "What do you really want?"
"To help you. I can."
"Bluffing? You think so?"
"What do you want from me?"
"An exchange. Your life for Agent Scully's. Are you willing to take your convictions a little farther, my boy?"
"You'll help Scully?"
"Don't you trust me?"
"Not one bit."
"Too bad. Then Scully dies."
"What do you mean?"
"How long do you think a fragile human body can take that kind of strain? Almost all of the test subjects lasted about two months. Dr. Sloane lasted the longest, but the secret of his longevity died with him. In a very short period of time, Agent Scully's body will simply give out. Is that what you want for her?"
Mulder lowered the gun, and took a step back. "How do I make the trade?"
"Some men will come to your house tonight around eleven. You are to go with them. You are not to tell Agent Scully where you're going, or why. You are to have no communication with her at all. When you have been secured, Agent Scully will be given a serum to reverse the effects of her condition."
"How do I know you'll do it?"
"You'll just have to trust me, won't you?"
A trilling sound made both men jump. It was Mulder's cell phone. He pulled it from his pocket, listened to it ring a second time, a third, a fourth. On the fifth ring, he turned it off and returned it to his pocket. He put his gun away and held his hands out. Resignation. Submission.
"Good boy," Cancer Man said, as he turned to leave Skinner's office. "Be home by eleven."
Mulder sat in the dark, his gun nearby, but with the safety on. This was not to be a fight, but a surrender. He stared off into space, occasionally wondering what kind of arrangements should be made in the event he didn't find a way out of this. He considered leaving a message for Skinner. He desperately wanted to leave one for Scully, but Cancer Man's instructions were very clear.
The phone rang. "Hello, this is Fox Mulder. Leave me a message."
"Mulder! It's me. Pick up! Mulder, are you there! I don't know where you are, but Doctor Penn is dead. She was executed, Mulder. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? This whole thing reeks of our smoking friend."
Mulder moved to the edge of the leather sofa. 'Yes,' he thought, 'there's my old Scully, analyzing and debunking and ready to fight.' Only now, he couldn't fight the battle with her.
"Listen, Mulder, call me when you get this. Something interesting happened. It scared me at first. Mulder, I caught a man in Penn's office, trying to steal my blood sample. We fought. Mulder, I almost changed. I felt it. But I could stop it, I could control it. This has nothing to do with moon phases and silver bullets. This is science, Mulder. I'm convinced of it. And that's where the answers lie. I'm going hole up in a lab and I'm not coming out until I have answers. I hope you get this soon, Mulder. Call me."
Mulder was on his feet, pacing wildly. He felt the anger and the frustration building to a fever pitch. He moved to his computer and began typing an email for Scully. He could not just leave her and not say something. Before he could send it, he heard a noise -- someone at the door. He could see shadow playing with light from the hall. He quickly flicked off the computer monitor. Out of habit, he reached for his gun. Out of dedication to his partner, he resisted the urge to pick it up. He closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable.
Scully knocked, waited. Nothing. Where was he? She let herself in with her key.
Mulder's apartment was dark and empty, but she could tell he had been there, and not very long ago. She could smell him all over the room. She could feel his body heat radiating from the leather sofa, the walls, the answering machine, the aquarium. She could tell he'd been by the window, at the desk. She held up a hand and felt vestiges of heat by the computer, warming her palm. 'How is it I can do this?' she wondered, and marveled at the otherworldly acuteness of her senses. Another scent - not Mulder's - became clear. Someone else had been there.
She sniffed the air, and was instantly thankful that no one had been there to see her. They would have surely thought her mad. She sniffed again. The scent was very familiar. Cheap aftershave and a hint of tobacco smoke. The man from Dr. Penn's office, and perhaps one other. And they had taken Mulder.
Scully turned on the computer. The unsent email materialized on the screen.
I've made a deal with the devil, and now I must pay. But I go freely. My cooperation ensures your survival. Some men will come to you tonight and say they have a cure. I can only hope these men who know nothing of truth or honor will honor the deal struck tonight. I will do everything in my power to get to you. If I should fail, I pray you will continue the work we began together. One thing I have learned about the truth, it is not as important the bond we have forged. If truth is indeed that which can set us free, I will see you soon. Or perhaps the truth is only strong enough to set one of us free. This may be the last time I ever ditch you again. Mulder.
A rage grew within Scully, an anger compiled by grief, born of something unnatural and fighting to overtake her. She grabbed the computer monitor and ripped it from the desk, craving the sensation of smashing and destroying it, desperate to see sparks fly and bits and pieces scatter. If only there were blood! She raised the monitor above her head....
She was being watched. From across the street, a man in a black trench coat stood staring up in the direction of Mulder's window. She was being followed.
Suddenly the computer monitor didn't seem so important. Scully put it down and pulled the blinds all the way up, to give her spy a good view. She saw him dash around the corner.
Scully took off.
The wolf inside her was asserting itself again, pushing her body beyond its normal abilities. She ran faster than her petite legs should carry her. And she heard herself making sounds deep in her throat as she tore down the hall to the stairs. Scully leaped down each flight, landing on feet that seemed made of springs. She threw herself against the door, bursting outside into the damp night. White vapors rolled from her mouth. She whipped her head to the left, to the right, in search of her prey. She caught a whiff of him in the breeze and took off.
She didn't see the car coming right at her. Tires screamed as the driver slammed on the breaks. The car slid on the wet asphalt, stopping mere inches from hitting Scully.
Before she could react, two men wearing the same shadow government-issued black trench coat, jumped out of the car and grabbed Scully and slammed her against the car hood like a common criminal, wrenching her right arm hard behind her back, kicking her feet apart. While one held her down, the other reached under her jacket and removed her gun. She heard the clip being snapped out of the weapon.
"WHERE'S MULDER!" She barely recognized her own voice, being winded from her struggled, yet also caught somewhere in the middle of transition.
There was no answer as she was pulled from the hood and unceremoniously shoved into the back seat of the car. While one of her attackers took the front seat, the one doing most of the shoving climbed into the backseat with Scully. She immediately recognized him as the one who was watching her from the street.
"Where's Mulder!" she demanded again, as the car took off.
"He's safe," the watcher said, "but only as long as you cooperate." He offered Scully her gun back. She took it and quickly checked it. Empty, useless.
Scully fought to calm her self, fought the urge to rip the man's lungs out. "Where are you taking me?"
He pulled from his pocket a small metal case and opened it. Inside was a silver hypodermic needle. He removed it from the case and squirted out a drop.
"This will make you feel better."
"What is it?"
He apparently decided not to waste any more time. He jabbed the needle into Scully's thigh and pushed the plunger down with the heel of his palm. Scully let out a scream that sounded much like the yelp of a large dog. Instantly the unknown substance began to burn and this, in addition to the pain of being stabbed by a needle, left Scully dazed. She doubled over as he pulled the needle from her flesh. The burning quickly crept through her entire body like hot molasses, until she felt like a fire had been ignited under her skin. She felt dizzy, and her head began to pound so hard she saw dark spots before her eyes. Sweat broke out on her forehead, ran down the middle of her back and quickly soaked her from head to toe.
"What have you done?" she asked weakly, beginning to shiver.
The next thing she knew, the car had stopped, and someone had opened the passenger's side door for her. "Out," the man responsible for her current condition ordered. She figured, if she was going to die, better on the street than in the car with these goons. She climbed out on weak, trembling legs and stumbled, nearly falling on her backside. The watcher caught her by the arm and steadied her. Holding onto her, and as he escorted her to her car, he whispered harshly, "Under no circumstance seek medical attention. You will be fine in 24 hours' time. If you choose not to honor our request, Agent Mulder will die." He then abruptly let go of Scully and headed back to his own vehicle.
They left. Left her standing there, leaning against her car, hoping she wouldn't fall. What had they done to her, what had they given her? She rubbed the spot on her thigh were she had been stabbed -- her leg was going numb. She hurt from head to toe, felt as if her insides were being whirled together in a blender, and were being forced up her throat. It was all she could do to find her keys in her jacket pocket, unlock the door and climb in. She dropped the keys, but didn't have the energy to even look for them. It was obvious that driving was out of the question. She would never make it home in this condition.
She locked the door and let the seat back. And there she sat, outside Mulder's apartment, and shivered most of the night, dreaming of running naked with wolves in the moonlight.
They didn't waste any time. From the moment Mulder was hoisted into the back of the non-descript black van and driven away, they stripped him, strapped him in, blindfolded him, poked, prodded and assaulted him with a barrage of needles and sundry cold steel instruments of medical torture. They took skin scrapings, hair samples, even dirt from under his fingernails was removed! All the while constantly injecting him with unknown fluids. As one vein collapsed from overuse new ones were sought. Anytime Mulder fought or refused to cooperate, the men in masks and white lab coats handling him would simply stop what they were doing and a supervisor, dressed in all black, would offer in great detail the ways in which he would carry out his partner's execution. So he allowed them their restraints and IVs and x-rays and long needles being jabbed thoughtlessly in various soft tissue parts of his body, remembering how much more painful it would be to think that Dana Scully could be dead.
They tied Mulder tightly to a gurney and shuttled him inside what appeared to be an old warehouse. He wasn't even sure if what he saw was real anymore. Consciousness came and went leaving him confused as to where reality ended and the fever dreams began. He remembered fleeting images dancing on the edge of lucidity as he was being wheeled across the endless abyss filled with scientific equipment. He saw cages. Some had men in them, while others held huge dogs...no, wolves, Mulder remembered. Something about wolves. Something horrible....
He woke up clawing at his own throat, forcing himself to breathe again. They had placed him in a cage. Fortunately it was one of the larger ones, or his tall frame would have been cramped beyond belief. He wore only his pants. His shoes and socks were gone and his feet were as cold as ice cubes. His shirt was gone as well. All over his chest and sides were leads wiring him to a sea of monitors in a corner. He had no idea how much time had transpired, or where he may have been. He searched for clues in surroundings that revealed nothing of value, other than the fact that most of the warehouse seemed deserted, and a small skeleton crew worked the computers.
The drugs they had given him to supposedly lessen his pain seemed only to augment it. There was nary a place on his body that had escaped their torture. He remembered the cages and strained to find them. They were all empty now, accept for one, where a white wolf lay unconscious, barely breathing.
A lab coat-wearing technician came up to the cage and made a quick notation on the wolf's chart. He then took out his service revolver and shot the wolf in the head.
"NO!" Mulder yelled. He prayed quickly that the wolf had not been Scully. Then he remembered Scully's distinctive red hair had also been a trait of the wolf she became. He rested his head against the cold steel bars as the drugs in his system weakened his knees. Or was it fear?
"Hey," he yelled out at the technician.
The technician ignored him as two privates stepped out of the shadows, lifted the cage, and carried it back into the shadows.
"Hey!" Mulder called again, more to keep himself alert than to get the attention of the technician. Despite his fear he wanted to know - what were they doing? - and he wanted to remember. Remembering was never something Mulder had trouble with. The things he saw, he never forgot, no matter what they'd done to him. Except for that time in Iowa....
Much like the ordeal in Iowa, this operation was strictly military. All the personnel on the project had the same haircut, the same cut-and-dry, just-doing-my-duty demeanor.
His joints were beginning to ache like crazy. He was cold before, but now he suddenly felt a wave of heat envelope his body, and he immediately broke out in a sweat.
"Excuse me," he yell, "but I'm having hot flashes over here."
The technician wandered over and checked the clipboard hanging on Mulder's cage. There was no sense of urgency or even importance to the young man's work. He seemed bothered to be there.
"What are you guys doing to me, anyway?"
The technician did not answer, but moved to the computer to tap in his findings. Without a word or a look, the technician walked away.
Mulder shut his eyes tightly and felt the drugs still in his system lull him back into that gray, twilight area where dreams can sometimes be manipulated. He let himself imagine Scully, gun in hand, kicking down the doors and racing in, blowing away his torturers and opening the cage. He felt her arms encircle him and pull him close, felt her cool, delicate hands stroking his hair from his sweaty forehead, heard her softly cooing in his ear, "It's all right Mulder, you're safe now, I have you...." Then he imagined himself grabbing her by the hair, yanking her head back, and tearing into her throat with his teeth....
His eyes popped open. Had it been five minutes or five hours? Was that him he heard screaming her name, or was it someone else?
Mulder was shaking all over. His body felt as if he had a nest of centipedes living under his skin. He pushed up onto his feet and began pacing and scratching and wiping sweat out of his eyes. 'Is this what Scully went through?' he wondered.
"How are you feeling?" asked the technician as he stepped out of the shadows, clipboard and pen ready to records Mulder's response. It was like hearing his own obnoxious questions to Scully at the height of her agony. How could he do that to Scully? He wanted to slap that clipboard out of that jarhead's hands and wipe up the floor with him.
"Sick," was all Mulder could manage to say. The trembling was intense, more like convulsions. Every part of him seemed to quake, increasing the pain to the joints and behind his eyes.
"Go on," the technician said, waiting to hear more.
Mulder turned away and slid down to the floor. As his knees bent he screamed out. "Make it stop," he cried, almost whimpering, trying to curl up in a ball.
"It'll be over soon." The technician made a note and turned back to his computer. "After that, I got orders to put you out of your misery"
"The program's been scrapped. All the subjects were ordered destroyed. That includes you, friend. Sorry."
"Why wait?" Mulder asked. He held his hands up to show the technician. There was a thin coating of coarse black hair, growing thicker.
The technician took out his gun, checked the clip, and moved to Mulder's cell. Mulder crawled over to the bars, pulled himself up and held out his hand for the technician to see. As the technician gazed with satisfied awe at his subject's hand, Mulder noticed the keys dangling on a chain around the young man's neck, along with his dog tags. Mulder reached through the bars with a speed the technician should have anticipated and grabbed the chain, pulling him hard, slamming his forehead into the steel bars with a sickening clang. At the same moment, the technician's gun went off. Mulder felt hot lead scrape a deep gorge down the side of his leg. He threw his head back to scream, but what came out sounded more like a howl.
The chain broke in Mulder's hand and the keys and dog tags fell to the floor.
"SECURITY!" the technician managed to shout before he passed out. Mulder let him drop to the floor, then scrambled for the key. His hands didn't work the way they should, they weren't quite human anymore. His senses were all screwed up. More than freedom, he wanted to feast on the technician's entrails, the smell of the blood oozing from the young man's head wound clouding Mulder's ability to think as a man in his last seconds as Mulder.
He struggled hard to work the lock with the key. Just as he got the lock to open, Mulder felt his spine snap.
Through the hellish agony of transition - "Was it like this for you, Scully?" - Mulder could hear several men approaching. No doubt they would be armed and prepared to kill. And then all human thought ceased. All was image, instinct and sound.
Mulder/wolf ran as quickly as it could for the entrance throwing itself against the bolted door. It would not budge. He/it looked for another way out. There was a window, up high, blacked out to obscure the view from the outside.
Just as Mulder/Wolf became airborne, there was the sound of gunfire. He/it crashed through the blackened glass into the night.
It was very close to dawn when Scully finally woke up. She was stiff, and soaked in sweat. The fever had broken. The aches were beginning to abate. The fuzziness in her head had begun to clear up. It was still dark, but Scully could make out the telltale signs of light stirring in the horizon.
She pulled the seat up, then looked up at the window to Mulder's apartment. There was no sign of him. It was then that it hit her - the impact of his sacrifice. He had turned himself over to the enemy in exchange for her life. How could he do that? Was not his search for the truth more important than anything? What about Samantha? All hope of finding her was gone. If those men who had taken him have their way, Mulder and the X Files would become nothing more than an afterthought, and eventually, forgotten. Even she could not be sure how safe she would remain.
"Mulder," she said, just wanting to hear the man's name. Her friend. Her partner.
She moved to start her car, when she noticed her keys were not in the ignition. She vaguely remembered dropping them outside the car. She opened the door.
A black dog the size of a pony was standing there, staring at her car, staring at her, snarling. No, not a dog, she thought. Wolf. Flashbacks of Duncan Earl Sloane attacking her at Sligo Creek Park made her heart race so hard and fast she thought she'd go into cardiac arrest. She nearly fell out of the car onto the ground. Scully quickly swept the door shut and scooted over to the other bucket seat.
The wolf threw itself against the car, making it rock. She braced herself for a second impact. 'I saw this in a movie once,' she thought, amazed that at a time like this she could entertain such a thought. She felt under her jacket for her weapon. It was there, but empty. She cursed when she remembered the men had taken the clip from it.
'If I stay still,' she considered, 'maybe it will go away.' Hope didn't last long. The car shook as the huge wolf landed on the hood of the car, growling and scratching its talons on the sunroof. It wanted in. It wanted her.
Apparently it was hurt. It left streaks of blood on the glass sunroof.
She considered making a run for it, but knew that would be foolish. It would be on her in seconds flat. But if the wolf made it inside the car, she would still be an easy breakfast.
The hood groaned as it began collapsing from the weight of the wolf. She had no choice. She'd have to make a break for it, and pray her legs could carry her. Just to Mulder's apartment building.
Scully shored up every bit of courage she had and reached for the door. She opened it and leaped out, falling, rolling, and coming back up on her feet. She ran for the door. Please God, please God, please God....
She nearly pulled the glass door off its hinges as she raced inside and hid behind a corner. She waited, trying the control the loudness of her breathing, not wanting to give away her hiding place. She listened for it, but heard nothing. A good five minutes must have ticked by. Slowly she peeked around the corner. Nothing. There was no sign of the predator. Cautiously she moved to the glass door to see if it had gone, or if it were laying in wait for her.
There was no wolf on the hood of her car. There was, however, a very tall, naked man with dark hair lying there, curled up in a ball.
Scully shot out of the building and back to the car. It wasn't her imagination. It was Mulder. She reached for him and tried to pull him off the car. He was so heavy. She grabbed him by an ankle, feeling warm blood caress her palms. His blood. She pulled, and slowly Mulder's long, unconscious frame slid off the car and onto the ground. He hit the tarmac a little harder than she would have preferred, but at least he was down now.
"Mulder!" She checked for signs of life. There was a pulse, rapid and shallow. She put her ear to his chest. His heart was beating far faster than it should. She tapped his face a few times, hoping to bring him around. His eyes shot open. They still weren't quite his eyes. Hazel, but shaped wrong. Shaped like a dog's.
"Mulder, can you talk?"
He made a warm growl deep in the back of his throat.
"Come on, let's get you inside before someone sees you."
Before she could even attempt to drag him away, she felt the ground under her vibrating, and heard vehicles approaching. She fought with all her might to get one of Mulder's long arms around her shoulder. "Help me, Mulder! You've got to help me!"
Just as she was able to hoist him off of the ground, their way was cut off by three vehicles: a black sedan, a black van, and a military jeep. From the jeep, two armed soldiers leaped out and trained their nasty looking weapons on Scully and Mulder. From the front passenger seat came a man who appeared to be the superior officer.
"We're not armed!" Scully shouted.
"Put him down," the officer said.
"What are you going to do?"
"Put him down, or my men will shoot."
Scully lowered Mulder back to the ground.
Instantly a trio of men in lab coats jumped out of the back of the van and ran to Mulder. They checked his vital signs quickly and efficiently. One of the men in white pulled a hypo from his pocket and began searching for a vein.
"NO! Get off him!" Scully cried. She took a step forward, and instantly the soldiers reacted by training their guns on Scully.
"Is he alive?" the Officer asked, clearly perturbed by this particular duty.
The tech with the hypo nodded. He jabbed it deeply into Mulder's thigh, and pushed the plunger down hard. Scully's own thigh ached in remembrance.
"Who is responsible for this?" She noticed that no one had come out of the black sedan. She could not see who was inside, as the windows were opaque. She ran to the car and banged on the back passenger window.
"Who are you! Show yourselves! You hide behind your authority while you systematically destroy people's lives, all in the name of your perverted idea of science!"
One of the soldiers grabbed Scully and pulled her away from the car, and held his gun on her.
"I know who you are!" Scully yelled.
The soldier gestured Scully to head back toward the van. They were already loading Mulder inside. "Where are you taking him!"
"Why don't you come along," said the Officer. It wasn't a friendly invitation. She gave them all a defiant look and climbed in the back with her partner.
The man sitting in the back of the sedan finally rolled the window down, letting out a thick cloud of tobacco smoke that was slowly choking and killing his driver. The Cancer Man watched as Scully climbed into the back of the van with her beloved partner Fox Mulder, and tossed his spent cigarette out of the window as the van and the jeep pulled off. He would remain behind to supervise the clean up of any potential neighborhood witnesses.
As for Agents Mulder and Scully, he mused, it would be a simple procedure to ensure that the project would not be further compromised. It worked back at Ellen's Air Force Base when Mulder got too close to the salvaged UFO. They'd even improved on the procedure since then.
The Cancer Man took a moment to mourn the demise of the project. It was one of the most promising he'd ever participated in, but it was too risky, too unpredictable, and not particularly cost effective. Luckily he had enough pull to decide which subjects were disposed of, and which ones got the serum.
"Sir," asked the driver, "wouldn't it be more efficient to simply kill them both?"
"Yes," the Cancer Man said as he lit up another cigarette, "but then, the game would be over. Besides, I like them."
It was clearly part of the plan. This was obviously the clean up detail. And she and Mulder were obviously being taken away to some secluded place to be executed. Scully wouldn't go without a fight. But Mulder was in no condition to fight.
She moved close and lifted his head and placed in her lap. Mulder responded by moaning, and moving closer, encircling his arms around her waist. "Scully," he murmured, pulling her closer. She rested against him. The van was moving a quite a clip, jostling the agents about, as if they had to make their destination before sunrise.
"How did I get here?" Mulder asked, his voice still weak.
"I don't know."
"Was I me?"
Scully didn't answer. Mulder understood. He shook, as if something in his psyche shouted 'boo.' He disengaged from Scully and looked directly into her face. It was hard to see since it was still dark inside the van, despite the thin rays of sun breaking through chipped paint on the window. "Did I hurt you?"
"No," she answered. "You gave me quite a scare, though."
Mulder didn't believe her. He had lied about this very thing himself, to protect his partner. He touched her face, ran his fingers down her arms, then, remembering his fever dream, ran his fingers around her neck to check for signs of injury. There were none. She grabbed his hand and squeezed his fingers. His digits were cold as ice.
"You're in shock, Mulder."
"I don't think that's gonna matter much longer."
Scully found a scratchy old khaki blanket and spread it across Mulder. He huddled under it thankfully, moving closer to Scully.
"I wish we'd told Skinner," she said. At least he would know."
"They'd simply find a way to erase him as well."
The van slowed and came to an abrupt stop. The agents looked at one another, eyes locked.
"Stay behind me," Mulder said.
"No, Mulder! You're too weak!"
"I'm not going without a fight. Can you?"
She knew she couldn't. "There's something I have to tell you, Mulder."
"There's something I have to tell you. If we make it out of this, I promise I'll tell you then."
They heard someone just outside the door. Mulder moved forward weakly, and waited for the door to open. Scully could feel her heart beating against her chest. She grabbed his hand and squeezed for luck.
"Come on," Mulder growled. But no one touched the door.
Both agents became aware of a faint hissing sound at the same time. Both tried to claw their way out of the van, but weakened, and fell into a deep state of unconsciousness.
When Dana Scully woke up in her own bed, she jumped. She expected to be someplace else, but where, she knew not. She lay there analyzing her distress, and decided to dismiss it as a bad dream. Still, something strange hovered just on the edge of her memory. She picked up the phone and hit the speed dial.
Mulder jumped, and he heard himself gasp as he awoke. The television was still on. Then he realized the phone was ringing.
"Mulder? It's me."
He was awake now. "Scully, what's wrong?"
"I don't know. I just...I don't know why I called you. I think I had a nightmare."
"You okay? You want me to come by?"
"No, no that's not necessary. It just seemed so real. I guess it shook me up. I shouldn't have called."
"Forget it. You've been through a lot these last few days."
"What do you mean? What have I been through?"
"You still don't remember?"
"Yes, I remember something. Sloane attacked me in the woods. I was out of it for a couple of days. Did I come home from the hospital yesterday or today?"
"Today is yesterday, Scully. It's four a.m. Look, I don't mind dropping by. Is your head still hurting?"
"No, I'm fine Mulder. I just got spooked. I shot Sloane didn't I?"
"Yes. And the case is officially closed."
"Did I do the autopsy?"
"No, you were in the hospital. But I read the results. I kept a copy for you."
"Did they find the dog?"
"Dog?" A shiver ran down Mulder's spine. Oh, right, the dog. The dog he would sic on innocent people, then stand back and watch as the animal tore them apart. "Yeah, you shot it, too."
"So it's on to the next madman or mutant, huh? Mulder, there was something important I wanted very much to tell you, but it just slipped my mind."
"Then I guess it wasn't all that important. Get some sleep."
The phone clicked. Mulder hung up.
He reached down to rub his leg, which was itching badly now as it healed behind thick gauze. He was told that during one of his struggles with Sloane, his own gun went off, grazing his calf. There was little damage; it just hurt like heck. Mulder, however, had no solid recollection of the struggle, or of being wounded by his own weapon. Funny that both agents had sustained mild concussions resulting in loss of short-term memory. Almost spooky. The coincidental nature of this made him curious and suspicious, but he was not about to worry Scully with his vague suspicions. Not until she was better.
He picked up the remote control and began the insomniac's ritual - channel surfing until he passed out. He hit upon a cable movie channel where the credits were rolling. He realized from the song what movie he had just missed.
"Don't go round to night, you're bound to lose your life, There's a bad moon on the rise...."
"I love that movie," Mulder said, then changed the channel.
Gee, hoped you dug it. Write me -- Lacadiva@aol.com with any comments you may have. Boy, was this fun. I might just do it again.