Title: True Lies
Summary: Sequel to An Ordinary Life. The ordinary life Scully left the Bureau for was a lie. Reunited with Mulder, they flee the danger created by her role as a CDC operative, only to discover the truth isn't what they believe it to be.
Author's Notes: Many thanks to Kimberly at Clinique's Hidden Gems for her support in navigating me through the posting process. And to the readers who took the time to e-mail their
comments and requests for a sequel.
The main office for the Center for Disease Control was located in Atlanta, Georgia. When Dr. Jason Myers boarded a private jet, sent two days after the bombing of Baltimore General, he expected to be flown to the agency's headquarters for debriefing. He was a renown trauma surgeon, one of the best in the mid-Atlantic. He had been chosen to participate in the Program not just for this recognition, but because of his reputation as being innovative, a man of dark, impenetrable resolve. He was capable of wielding his influence as effectively as his scalpel.
It was these qualities that drew the CDC's operative to Baltimore.
Her diminutive size and gender was quickly overshadowed by her commanding presence. If she was impressed by him, she didn't show it. She was not the type to flatter, nor was she overt in her attempt to enlist him. In her pragmatic style, she revealed the secret of the alien virus. She met his horrified reaction with calm, unperturbed eyes. When he fired off a round of harsh expletives, she lifted a placating hand and offered a viewpoint that diminished his terror. A virus was a virus despite its origin, she told him. This particular virus could not only be curtailed, it could be prevented. The CDC had a vaccine. One that could effectively immunize the public. One that would guarantee survival. His survival if he chose to accept the truth.
Dana Scully could be very convincing when she wanted to be.
Now she was gone. Despite tight security measures, the Program had been compromised. The results were immediate and devastating. In one day, his hospital had been blown into a seven-story mountain of debris. That he had survived the bombing seemed more than arbitrary luck. It seemed predestined. It had been his skill as a surgeon that had saved the life of Scully's former partner. It was that man, Mulder, who turned out to be the one capable of removing the operative from danger. And, it was his intrigue with them both that had ultimately saved his life.
Myers glanced out the window of the jet. The morning sun was behind them now. They were not headed South. They were flying due west. His eyes crossed the aisle to where his escort sat stoned faced and silent.
"We're not flying to Atlanta," he observed.
The man didn't respond.
Myers realized then that distinction had its drawbacks.
When Mulder called Skinner to tender his resignation, there was a moment of silence on the other end of the line. When his superior spoke, his voice was curt and unflinching.
"Your resignation is not accepted, Agent Mulder."
"When I fail to report to work will it be accepted then?" Mulder matched the man's tone.
"I heard about what happened..." the Assistant Director began.
"Don't believe everything you hear," responded the agent.
"Hearing and believing are two different things," stated Skinner. "I've heard the speculation of domestic terrorism, but certain coincidences can no longer be ignored."
"Certain conclusions are best left unspoken," prompted Mulder.
"Then see to it that certain actions are taken," finished Skinner.
"Thank you, sir," Mulder exhaled in relief.
"Don't thank me, yet," warned the Assistant Director.
"You're getting sloppy, Mulder. You've forgotten a basic rule of your training."
"Which is what, exactly?"
"Covering your tracks," reminded his supervisor. "Make the most of your resources, Agent."
With this admonition, Skinner hung up the phone.
Later that morning, Mulder realized the mistake that Skinner was alluding to. Scully's car. In his panic to get her out of Baltimore, he had not considered the obvious. They should have abandoned her car in the hospital's parking lot. Evidence that would have corroborated her death had been clearly visible on major highways. He took immediate steps to rectify his carelessness. Using one of his Bureau generated alias, complete with a driver's license and credit card, he rented a car. That it was a Ford Bronco was more than a recognition that four wheel drive might come in handy. It was a signal to Skinner that his plan was to go under, as far and fast as he possibly could.
They curved through the countryside of Pennsylvania, distancing themselves from the major cities, maneuvering miles of back roads before they stopped. Together, they pushed Scully's car down a deep incline that led to a ravine full of underbrush and trees. As it careened down the slope, the car suddenly flipped, and slid along it's roof to where it slammed against the tree.
"To think I just had it serviced," she said in a dead pan voice.
Mulder turned to look at her. She stood at the edge of the ravine, hands on hips, her lips blowing the strands of auburn hair that had strayed into her eyes. Her face was dotted with perspiration. It was a hot, humid day and pushing the car had worked up a sweat for both of them. On her, it looked good. The flimsy material of her blouse clung to her breasts, revealing more than she realized. Despite the cuts and bruises, she looked smoldery, even sexy.
For a moment, he was distracted by the image of making love to her. Out in the open field, in broad daylight, even if every farmer in Pennsylvania was within spitting distance.
But, he wanted more than just the intimacy of her body. He wanted her back. Not Scully, his former partner or doctor or CDC operative that she had become. He wanted to regain what the bombing in Baltimore had shattered...an ordinary life with the woman he was in love with.
He had discovered that there were facets of an ordinary life that gave him true contentment. Sharing her bed was only one of them. He had found others. The feel of the afternoon sun against his face as they sat on the dock by her harbor side townhouse. The crisp taste of Chardonney from a shared wine glass. The sparkle of her blue eyes as she dipped her bare foot into the harbor and splashed water at him.
There were more...so many more. The sound of her soft laughter when he suggested that they take turns preparing meals.
He wasn't a capable cook. She was superb. Each dinner was a carefully planned event. A time to linger across a candlelit table, but not in the classic, romantic sense. There were no soulful glances. No hand holding. Instead, the table rocked with animated, biting conversation. He would bait her with topics ranging from the nonsensical to the sensational. Her wit would respond with lightning speed and accuracy. It played out well between them. Compatibility was not limited to those who shared similar ideas.
"Marry me, Scully."
His words were really an extension of his thoughts. Only after he spoke them, did he realize that he should have shared them first.
The vivid blue eyes glided over to his. They held a flicker of surprise, then turned bitter.
"Yeah, right," she scoffed. She spun around and headed towards the rental car. He trailed after her, saying, "I'm serious."
Scully opened the car door. He reached over her shoulder and slammed it shut. She whirled around. Her eyes fired rounds of indignation.
"You can't marry a corpse, Mulder."
"You're not dead."
"I'm listed among the dead, or presumed dead," she corrected herself. "We can't tamper with that by taking out a marriage license, can we?"
"Why does everything have to begin and end with our jobs?"
"Because our survival depends on how well we do it," she stated in an uncompromising tone.
"Fine. Have it your way."
His reverie was shattered. As always, her logic had the accuracy of a guided missile.
He stalked around to the other side of the car and yanked open the door. Looking over the hood of the car, he saw that she hadn't moved. She was staring off into the distance, contemplating what he hoped was a callous disregard of his feelings.
"You think the corpse might get into the car so we can get out of here?"
His scathing words had the desired effect. Scully got back into the car and slammed the door. He, in turn, slammed his.
They continued down the road for miles, neither of them speaking, both of them staring out the windshield in silence. He turned up the air conditioning to cool down the car which was stifling with the heat of the afternoon sun. The brisk air from the vent blew steadily against her face and hair. It relieved the discomfort of her hot skin, but not the raging tension inside of her.
At first, she had not taken him seriously. Caught off guard, she had failed to see that his hazel eyes had been sincere. That she had responded with cynicism was really a defense mechanism. One she had learned to deploy when faced with situations which left her emotions raw and her nerves on edge.
He had effectively taught her this strategy by example. When it came to sarcasm, this man was the master.
And now, he was hurt by her use of it.
She rubbed the bandage across her forehead. She was still suffering torturing headaches since the bombing. A symptom of trauma. An emotional manifestation that was far worse than any of her physical injuries. Because she was a doctor, she recognized the signs.
Because she wanted to stay on equal footing with Mulder, she did not share her diagnosis with him.
Another problem was slowly manifesting between them. Sexual tension had finally been released, but professional tension was still wound up tightly. Her new role in the prevention of colonization had been grudgingly acknowledged by him, but not accepted.
He wanted confirmation of their commitment.
She needed to be sure of his motives.
She didn't doubt that he loved her, but knew that his emotions, however genuine, would not withstand the force of his obsession. A compulsion so strong that defeat held no meaning.
He had returned to Behavioral Crimes to lick his wounds and to wait, poised and ready, for the game to resume. And, she had become an integral player in the game, one capable of returning him to where he wanted to be.
To her, the game was not enticing. It was cruel. One with no rules, only horrid reminders when one made the wrong move.
She had underestimated the danger. As an operative for the CDC, she should have been better prepared. She had known the risks.
The Program had been designed to cloak the truth to prevent the outbreak of hysteria. Because of this, she had been able to justify the flagrant violation of the oath she had sworn as a doctor. But now, the ethical dilemma was spinning out of control. To continue the Program under this new threat would be a reckless disregard of humanity.
Scully shuddered. The airconditioning was no longer refreshing. It was blowing too hard against her chilled skin.
"Can't you turn it down a bit?" she heard herself ask.
"What, are you cold?"
She could tell that he was still angry by his scoffing tone.
"I didn't think corpses felt the cold," he muttered as he turned the vent towards him.
An ordinary life... an ordinary life with him.
The prospect no longer seemed so enchanting.
Myers was escorted to the office of the Assistant Director who supervised the Program for Eastern Division of the CDC. He had not expected such upscale offices for such a remote location.
The plane had landed near the mountains of West Virginia. A jeep had met him on the landing strip and driven him through a series of tunnels that coursed through the hills. They led to an underground facility which was the Program's headquarters.
He was seated in front of an impressive mahogany desk that bore several clues of the Assistant Director he was about to meet. His eyes scanned passed the computer and focused on the desk set. A leather trimmed blotter...a crystal pen holder... a Waterford paper weight. It was distinctly feminine. Although the brass name plate gave no clue other than "Assistant Director D. Scott", Myers was certain that the program's superior was a woman.
His intuition was right on target. As the door opened, he was greeted by a tall, brunette who extended a solicitous hand.
"Dr. Myers, I presume?" the woman smiled generously.
Myers rose from his chair to shake her hand.
"Assistant Director," he responded, noting the french manicure, the slender fingers and the thin blue veins that ran underneath her white skin.
"How good of you to report in so quickly." The woman released his hand and moved around to the back of her desk. "The event in Baltimore has left the Division both stunned and dismayed."
"It also left three hundred and forty six people dead and my hospital flattened," replied the doctor.
"A tragedy among several. As you know, Baltimore was one of three hospitals bombed that day." The Assistant Director remarked as she glided into her chair. She sighed, as she leaned over to flip on her monitor. For a moment she gazed at the data that darted across the screen.
"I don't know what you expect to learn from me other than what I've already reported." commented Myers taking his seat.
"Baltimore was on my watch, Dr. Myers," the woman said as she glided the mouse over its pad. "I'm interested in more than the number of casualties."
"What exactly are you interested in?" the doctor asked.
The Assistant Director paused the mouse and clicked the button. Another field filtered across the screen. Her dark eyes scrutinized several entries as she calmly inquired.
"Where is the operative?"
"Good question." the man rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"Where do you think she is?"
The woman's dark eyes slid over to his.
"Her body has not been discovered," she remarked.
"Sifting through seven stories of rubble could take weeks," offered the man.
"There are witnesses who placed Dr. Scully in the emergency room just prior to the explosion," conveyed the woman.
"Are there?" Myers lifted his eyebrow. "Funny, I was in the emergency room and I don't remember seeing her."
"So, you mentioned in your report," commented Scott. She turned to face him. She folded her hands and rested them on her desk. "Over two weeks ago, you performed emergency surgery on a federal agent by the name of Fox Mulder."
"What can you tell me about Agent Mulder?" questioned the woman.
"He came in with a gunshot wound to his upper right extremity," the doctor narrated. "He experienced a hemothorax which was promptly drained and..."
"I'm not interested in his clinical course," interrupted the Assistant Director. "I want to know if he was exposed to the operative during his admission."
"He was," related Myers. "Why are you attaching such importance to Agent Mulder?"
"Why are you protecting Dr. Scully?" countered Scott.
"You want me to explain the obvious?" Myers folded his arms and leaned back in his chair. "Okay, I'm game. The Program has been compromised. And, I suspect by someone with enough knowledge to pinpoint the hospitals which hosted the Program.
The CDC has one hell of a leak, Assistant Director. I just want to make sure that it's not sitting in front of me."
If the woman was shocked or offended, she didn't show it.
Instead, she studied the man more carefully, as if she was taking in the details of his face. His skin had been burned by the heat of the bomb's explosion. Not badly, just enough to cause him discomfort and give his olive complexion an odd, pink tinged look.
"The Program is fortunate to have you in it, Dr. Myers."
"The Program is in the crapper, if you'll pardon my expression," retorted the man. "If the CDC can't protect their own people and the hospitals which sponsor the program, then don't expect their cooperation."
"Which is exactly why I need your help." conveyed Scott.
"You overestimate me."
"Actually, I believe that the CDC has underestimated your influence, Dr. Myers."
"As what?" he sneered. "A door to door salesman to unsuspecting facilities throughout the country?"
"No." There was a hint of amusement to her voice. "We have those already. I need you to influence the Baltimore operative to return to duty."
"Are you telling me that Dr. Scully makes that much of a difference to the Program?"
"It is imperative that she return to headquarters at once."
"Because where she goes, her former partner will follow."
"We're back again to Agent Mulder," noted Myers.
"If anyone can sniff out a traitor, he can," she advised.
"He's the best profiler that the FBI has to offer."
"Maybe I'm missing something here." Myers leaned forward.
"You need Scully to get to Mulder?" he asked.
"Something like that."
"The CDC is a federal agency. Mulder is a federal investigator. Use your own influence, Assistant Director. You don't need mine."
"The CDC prefers that the Bureau remain uninvolved."
"Dr. Scully deserves better than to be used as a pawn," Myers stated coldly.
"We're all pawns, Dr. Myers. Players in a highly dangerous game. Scully knew that when she accepted her job."
"You should know better than to debate the meaning of informed consent when speaking to a doctor."
"Perhaps I'm going around this the wrong way," Scott's voice softened. She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs.
She watched the man's eyes glide up her body. His black eyes flickered with a danger she had not only come to recognize, but appreciate. His insolence was as attractive as his appearance.
Dark hair, muscular arms, perfect white teeth that flashed when he grinned. She had been in a position of power too long, she thought. She was too easily intrigued by a man who's haughty attitude tempted her to more than a challenge of words.
That night, Scully had a difficult time falling asleep. It didn't help that Mulder was crunching on sunflower seeds as he sat propped up against pillows watching late night television.
His annoying habits, once vaguely tolerable, now grated on her so intensely that her teeth clenched. While her body was fatigued, her mind was still awake, racing with an speed that stifled sleep. He was not only depriving her of silence and darkness necessary for her to relax, he was acting like a petulant child.
Pouting, provoking her at every turn.
She squeezed her eyes closed and tried to draw the blanket over her shoulder. The majority of the covers were caught under his weight. When she tugged at one end of the blanket, he shifted his leg slightly to give her just a sliver more.
The last of her patience was obliterated by the crack of another sunflower seed against his teeth.
When she rolled over to confront him, Mulder hoped that his ceaseless battering at the steel door of her mind was finally over. He had been prodding her all afternoon. At first, out of hurt and rejection. Then, out of recognition that she was in trouble. She was withdrawing into herself. Scrutinizing her participation in a program that had literally blown up in her face. He knew her well enough to comprehend that the real danger was the type she was capable of inflicting upon herself. She was sinking fast, not into a pool of self-pity, but of selfcondemnation.
Her tepid eyes narrowed in on him. He tensed, waiting for what he believed would be an onslaught of berating, multisyllabled words. Instead, she reached out and grabbed the bag of sunflower seeds from his lap. Before he could protest, she jumped out of the bed. Stalking over to the motel room door, she opened it wide enough to throw the bag out into the parking lot.
Stunned, Mulder gaped at her.
She slammed the door, locked it and turned around. The expression she gave him was not smug. It was so agitated that he was instantly filled with contrition.
This was not the way, he thought. He would have to find a better one.
"Come back to bed," he said in a soft, coaxing tone. He turned off the television and lifted the blanket as a peace offering.
"Don't even think..." Scully warned, misinterpreting his gesture of tenderness for something else.
"I'm not," he assured her.
When she eased back down onto the bed, he carefully wrapped his arms around her. She felt his fingers begin to trace slow circles through her hair, smoothing it back from her ear. Her strain began to ease. She was reminded that not all of his incessant actions was aggravating. This one was comforting.
"Try to hold on, Dana," he murmured gently. "I know you're having a hard time, but I promise you we're going to make it through this."
Of course, she would hold on. She would do it for him. For them. No more star crossed lovers. They had struggled through a vacuum of lost time and misperceptions only to be reunited by a near tragedy. The revelation of her "ordinary life" had almost torn their reconciliation apart. And now, a new threat. One created by trauma and guilt.
Mulder continued stroking her hair until her eyes closed and her breathing became even. He settled back against the pillow and stared into the darkness.
"I really do love you, Mulder," came her tiny whisper.
He rolled over to his side and slid his arm around her waist.
"I love you too..."
Scully drew his arm more snugly around her. She was drifting off to sleep.
"Don't let go."
"I'll never let go."
The following day, Assistant Director Scott lifted the handset to her phone and punched in several numbers with the tip of her pen. When a voice answered, she asked, "Have you found them yet?"
"We located Dr. Scully's car in Pennsylvania. It's totaled."
"Took him long enough," the woman pursed her lips and reached over to her computer.
"They changed cars?"
"They changed cars." confirmed Scott. She leaned back in her chair and waited for the information to course over her screen. Twining the phone cord around her slender fingers, she gave Myers his instructions.
Late in the afternoon, Mulder shifted the Bronco in park and cut the ignition. He glanced over at Scully who was sound asleep in the reclined passenger seat.
"Wake up sleepy head," he called out as he gently tapped the tip of her nose. She stirred slightly as her head rolled towards him. He waited patiently as she drifted awake. The limpid eyes gazed up at him.
"Hmm.." she murmured as she shifted up in the seat. "I was dreaming."
"Good dreams, I hope."
"We were on the dock by the Harbor." She stretched then continued. "I almost had you convinced to go sailing with me."
"Oh, yeah, you were definitely dreaming," he chuckled as he opened the car door.
Scully looked out the passenger window. What she saw made her catch her breath. She got out of the Bronco and stood on the running board, shielding her eyes against the mid-afternoon sun.
They had arrived at their destination. A cabin in the woods.
Tall trees, abundant with deep green leaves, covered it like a canopy. A wide porch surrounded the cabin. Wood steps led down to a grassy area which sloped down to a pristine, azure lake.
A lake. It stretched out to the east, fading like a blue mist, blurring against the forest and hills the bordered the horizon.
Scully felt tears creep into her eyes. He had promised seclusion. He had hinted that they were going to someplace remote and peaceful, but she had not expected this. This was more than a hideout. This was a haven...
"You like?" Mulder asked as he came around to the passenger side of the Bronco.
"I like..." Her voice lifted with a note of pleasure.
Mulder felt a twinge of hope as he reached up and swung her down to the ground. Her hands lingered against his shoulders as her head arched towards the lake.
"How did you find this place?" she asked.
"Haven't you learned by now that I'm a man of unlimited resources?" Mulder heckled her.
"Are you also a man of property, Mulder?"
"Hardly," he grinned. "The cabin belongs to some friends of mine."
"Yes, Scully, I have managed to secure a few friends over the years."
"You told me once that I was your only friend."
"No, I told you that you were my best friend," he reminded her.
Her bottom lip began to twitch. For a moment, Mulder thought she was going to cry. Instead, the quivering mouth turned upwards into a smile. The first one she had given him in days. He felt his spirits lift. Her smile was like a balm smoothed over his chafed nerves. Since they had fled Baltimore, being with her had been like balancing a tight rope.
By her expression now, he knew that he had reached the other side.
Scully's ebullient mood continued as they unloaded the Bronco. Earlier in the day, they had stopped for supplies and groceries to stock up what was to be their hideout. In the supermarket, she had shown little enthusiasm. But now, she began to assort the refrigerator of the tiny kitchen with a renewed interest.
Mulder explained that the caretaker, who lived a mile down along the shore of the lake, had been contacted by his friends to prepare the cabin for their arrival. The electricity had been turned on. Plastic coverings that protected the furniture had been removed and stored neatly in the hall closet. Windows had been opened to allow the warm breeze to filter out the musty smell. Logs had been piled up by the stone fireplace, for in this climate, the evenings could still dip down to chilly temperatures.
"Who exactly are these friends of yours?" Scully wanted to know.
"They're yours, too," hinted Mulder as he came in with their suitcases.
Scully shot him a quizzical look as she crossed over to the bedroom. Except it wasn't an ordinary bedroom. It looked more like a dormitory. There was no bed, just three cots. There were desks cluttered with magazines and papers. One held a computer.
Another shelved a printer and a paper shredder.
"Lone Gunmen," she whispered, shaking her head.
She should have known.
Mulder deposited their bags in the room. When he turned to face her, she pointed to the cots.
"Unless you can specify which one of these is Byers, don't expect me to sleep on any of them."
The man laughed. Steering her by the shoulders, he moved her back into the livingroom.
"The couch pulls out to a double bed," he informed her. "We can sleep out here by the fire. That is, of course, if your willing to share."
"Well..." she paused and sighed. "I guess it's alright. After all, we are best friends."
By the time he finished unpacking, the sun had begun to set.
He found Scully outside the cabin seated on the porch steps that led to the lake. Her arms were wrapped around her legs. Her chin rested on top of her knees. Her gaze was intent on the water which had turned violet in the twilight. Her eyes were no longer vacant, but bright with contemplation. As he sat down beside her, they glided over to his.
"It'll be dark soon," he said, stretching his hand out to her. "You want to explore the shoreline?"
Scully took his hand. She turned it over in hers, spreading his long fingers out, caressing his palm with her delicate touch.
"I'd rather explore you," she responded softly.
She rose to her feet. With a strength that surprised him, she pulled him up beside her and led him back into the cabin. As she lifted his t-shirt over his head, he drew in his breath. Her fingertips traveled down the hairline of his chest, lingering on the waist band of his jeans. She rose up on tiptoe to press her lips against his neck. They trembled against his skin.
Mulder exhaled slowly, his own body quivering with delight as her mouth trailed the path of her fingers. When she lowered herself to her knees and reached for snap of his jeans, he caught her hands. Gripping them tightly, he knelt down beside her.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"I don't want to be dead anymore," she murmured. "I want to feel alive. I want to feel you."
Mulder released her hands. With one fluid motion, she stripped off her shirt, and unfastened her bra. It was all the encouragement he needed. With a low groan, his mouth found hers.
Her lips yielded instantly. Her tongue traced around his with such deliberate, languid sensuality that he almost stumbled backwards. Her hands slid up his back to steady him.
Their eyes met briefly. His darted over to the rug before the fireplace. Hers motioned towards the couch. Without a word, they moved over to it. While he sat down to unlace his boots, she rested her hands against his shoulders, balancing herself as she kicked off one sneaker after another.
Scully closed her eyes as he glided her jeans and underwear down her legs. The fading sunlight filtered into the cabin, casting a soft, golden glow against her skin. He no longer flinched when confronted with the cuts on her arms. He no longer noticed the bruises across her legs or the crusted laceration across her forehead. In his vision, she was flawless.
"You are so beautiful," he whispered, easing her down onto the couch.
Scully stretched her arm over her head, sighing with the luxurious delight. Mulder. Only Mulder. His hands were roaming her now. Caressing her. Exploring her. She had always suspected that he would be intuitive as a lover, capable of quickly discerning what pleased her most. He was a profiler.
One of the best. It was his job to get under a person's skin, to delve into their minds and emotions. And, there was no forgetting his library of what she glibly referred to as his "self-help tapes". That this man was able to draw sensations that were both tormenting and exhilarating to her was no surprise at all.
She groaned as her fingers dug into the back of the couch.
He was teasing her now, stopped briefly to allow her to gather a fragment of control, only to start again. When her thighs began to tremble, he shifted over her, pulling her hips up to his.
Giving her what she wanted the most. The feel of him inside of her.
This was being alive, she exulted as her legs wrapped around his back. Life was meant to be lived. Love was meant to be experienced. She had been given a second chance. She would not turn her back on it again.
She blinked and gazed up with eyes that were blurred with tears.
"The Assistant Director is ready to see you now."
Scully stood up and smoothed the wrinkled skirt to the business suit she wore. It had been loaned to her by another operative and was loose around her waist. The sleeves of the jacket were too long, giving her an unkept, wasted away appearance. Yet, it reflected how she felt.
She was supposed to have been given three months. Three months...not three days. The precious time by the lake was abruptly cut short with the appearance of Jason Myers the day after they arrived at the cabin. A former ally turned henchman for the CDC. His new distinction soured in her mind. He offered no explanation of how he had found them, just an urgent plea for her to return to headquarters. When she had demanded to know why, he stared at Mulder with his flashing black eyes and responded cryptically, "Because there is a duty to be performed."
There was something wrong. She suspected from the moment of his arrival. Hours later, as the jet arrived on the landing strip, she vocalized her concern to Mulder. His hand reached over to take hers.
"It'll be alright, Scully."
"We shouldn't have left the cabin."
"If the CDC could find us, then we weren't safe there anyway."
"Is that the only reason you encouraged me to come here?"
Her question was pointed. She loathed her own suspicions, but they lingered in her mind.
"What are you implying, Scully?" Mulder asked.
"Just pondering the meaning of second chances," she murmured.
Her hand slipped away from his.
They had been led off to separate quarters to shower and change. When she was summoned to report for debriefing, she had expected to find him waiting for her in the hallway. But, he wasn't there.
Where was he?
She was kept waiting in the hallway for what seemed an unusual length of time. Time enough to battle uncomfortable thoughts concerning the meaning of love, of trust and unconditional acceptance. Their days together should have been enough to abate her fear. What was wrong with her? Why couldn't she believe?
As she opened the door and entered the room, she realized that believing had been her problem all along.
Oh my God, she thought in horror. It had all been a lie. A charade, orchestrated by the mistress of deceit. For a moment, she wavered on her feet, recoiling with shock and revulsion.
Mulder was there. He rose out of his chair and came to her side. She felt him take her arm to steady her.
"I know this must be awkward," offered the Assistant Director.
"You know it's more than just awkward, Diana," Mulder snapped as he gently led Scully over to a chair.
Assistant Director D. Scott. Diana Fowley. The same person. Her contact within the CDC.
Suddenly, all the lies made sense. The perfect timing of her enlistment into the Program. The daily encrypted e-mail.
Faceless, voiceless contact with her superior, rationalized by her as a security measure. The truth had been expertly concealed by Fowley and blindly accepted by her. She had wanted to make a difference. To feel hope, to move beyond disillusionment and to step past a partner who she was tired of trailing behind.
Now, she realized the magnitude of her mistake.
Oh my God, Oh my God...
She should speak. Why couldn't she find her voice? She could hear it in her brain. It screamed over and over what a fool she had been. Her lips could not move. Her mouth was so dry that even if she could cry out, it would sound no louder than a whimper.
"Scully..." Mulder lowered himself to one knee by her chair.
Her eyes were vacant, the color of a leaden sky. They stared straight ahead, flat and unmoving.
"Is she alright, Fox?" Fowley started to move around her desk towards them.
Mulder saw Scully's hands grip the side of her chair.
"It might be better if you give us a few moments alone," he said to Fowley. "Give me a chance to explain what you have told me."
"Of course," the woman nodded. She cautiously circumvented Scully on her way out of the office.
Left alone, Mulder pried her hands loose from the chair. He squeezed them tightly in his.
"Dana, look at me," he pleaded. Her eyes slid down to his.
"I know this is a shock. Hell, it blew my mind away."
Mulder asserted. "But, there is an explanation if you're willing to hear it."
She still said nothing. Her hands were as cold as ice in his.
"The scientists who developed the vaccine were not the only ones who discovered how self-serving their patrons were. Fowley, too, realized that she had made a serious mistake."
He took a deep breath and continued.
"Fowley was the one who initiated the contact with the CDC.
She was the one who brought the scientists here."
Scully's eyes flinched.
"She tried to tell me, Scully. I refused to listen. I was convinced that she had betrayed me."
The woman pulled her hands away from his. When she tried to rise from her chair, Mulder stopped her, jerking both she and the chair towards him.
"Damn it, Scully, listen to me. Fowley has shown me proof.
Documents that legitimize her involvement. A commission from the Director in Atlanta. She encouraged the CDC to select you as one of the operatives. You, Scully. It wasn't just your science and background that influenced her choice. It was your character, your integrity that made you the perfect choice."
Scully's eyes narrowed in on his. For a moment, he had the distinct feeling of being on the wrong end of a shotgun.
"Of all of her lies, that has got to be the most outrageous one of all," she exploded loudly.
Not only had she found her voice, she continued to vent it with fury and vocabulary he thought not possible.
"But, what is even more fucking unbelievable is your pathetic attempt to exonerate her. That you believe there is even a fragment of truth to her lies."
"I'm not trying to exonerate her." Mulder started to back peddle. "I'm just trying to figure out whether there is a logical explanation for all of this."
"Don't expect to find it."
"Because you are incapable of using logic when it comes to this woman."
"For a minute, can you please just push aside that little green eyed monster of yours and tell me why her explanation is so impossible?"
"Because Fowley is the infiltrator."
"That doesn't make sense. Why would she destroy a Program she helped create?"
"It's called damage control, Mulder. Think about it. The Consortium lost control over their own players. Their own scientists. With them went the vaccine. What a better way to curtail the damage then to have Fowley defect with them?"
"She brought them to the CDC. What a better vehicle to distribute the vaccine?"
"The CDC is a government agency with its own set of rules and protocols. Nothing is done quickly. Everything is monitored, scrutinized and evaluated for its efficacy. As a result, the process is slowed down."
"Why not stop the process all together?"
"The last time I checked, bombs were designed to do exactly that."
Mulder shook his head.
"I don't know, Scully. It just doesn't add up. If what you say is true, then Fowley has taken an enormous gamble."
"But look at what she stands to gain. Your Fowley is a clever player. With one well planned move she has accomplished both her professional and personal goals. Not only has she crippled the Program, but she has managed to convince you that she had no involvement in it. She's playing you Mulder. As effectively as she played me."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"She used me, Mulder. She recognized my insecurities, knowing I would pounce on any opportunity to find meaning in a situation that had grown hopeless. She found the way to separate us. She removed me from the equation and cleared the path back to you."
"You're wrong, Scully. Remember, I was also cut out of the equation."
"I don't think she ever intended to cut you out indefinitely. Just long enough for your craving to grow so great that you would devour the next breadcrumb, even if it fell from her hand."
"Is that what you think I'm doing?"
"You tell me, Mulder. We're here because of you. What does she want?"
"She wants me to flesh out the infiltrator," Mulder advised her.
"I'm sure flesh is exactly what she has in mind," scoffed Scully. "Yours and hers. Did you agree, Mulder?"
"I haven't agreed to anything."
"But, you're thinking about it." The woman pushed him away and rose to her feet. "What is about her, Mulder, that makes you abandon your common sense? Is it because you believe she is the one capable of satiating all your appetites?"
His eyes suddenly flashed with anger.
"Jesus, Scully. That was vicious."
"Vicious?" Scully's voice reverberated with indignation.
"You stand before me now, debating which one of us you should believe, and you dare call me vicious?"
"What I'm debating..." he retorted in an icy voice. "is how I can stop all of this."
"I have to."
"Then do it alone." Scully spun on her heel and headed towards the door.
"Don't do this, Scully."
He followed her. As she opened the door, he reached over her shoulder and slammed it shut. Whirling her around to face him, he pleaded, "Don't run out on me when I need you the most."
"You don't what the word means."
"You couldn't be more wrong," Mulder whispered urgently as he pressed his forehead against hers. "I will always need you.
I will always love the woman that you are. But, right now, I really could use my former partner back."
Scully jerked away, her back freezing against the door.
"Look at me," she hissed. His eyes shot up to hers. With one eyes, she directed his gaze to the truth. He swallowed hesitantly and nodded.
"True lies, Mulder. For a lie to be convincing there must be an element of truth."
Scully reached up to the lapel of her jacket and removed her CDC identification card. She placed it into his hand, turning it so that her access code was exposed. Without another word, she left him.
Later that night, Fowley knocked on the door to Mulder's quarters. When he didn't answer, she let herself in. She found him lying fully dressed on his cot, staring blankly up at the ceiling. He refused to look at her, stating coldly, "Is she gone?"
"Yes," Diana said softly. "I had Dr. Myers take her back to Baltimore."
"Baltimore?" Mulder sat up in agitation. "Are you out of your mind, Diana? She's not safe there."
"It's her home, Fox. It's where she wanted to go." Fowley tried to calm him. "She'll be safe. We'll make sure of it."
"You're the one with the connections, Diana."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing," he collapsed back on the bed. "Get out, Diana.
You're the last person I want to see right now."
"Get some sleep. Things will look brighter in the morning."
Fowley moved towards the door. She smiled to herself. Had he reacted any other way she would have been suspicious. His aversion to her did not sting. It filled her with hope.
"The trouble you two manage to get yourselves into," Walter Skinner said as he removed his glasses and wiped the perspiration from his forehead.
"I'm not the one who is in trouble now, sir," Scully reminded him. "Agent Mulder is."
"Let me get this straight," said the Assistant Director as he reviewed her report. "For over a year, you've been posing as an operative for the CDC in an effort to distribute the vaccine to the alien virus."
"That is correct."
"And, Agent Fowley, the person who initiated the program is the same person who had been trying to compromise it?"
"Why?" Skinner asked.
"We now believe that the hospital bombings were a smoke screen, a way to deflect attention away from the real objective."
"Which is what?"
"To replace the vaccine with the virus itself. To initiate the first phase of invasion."
"And do you have proof of this?"
Scully's eyes traveled over to the man sitting next to her.
"That would be me," Jason Myers advised.
"Dr. Myers," Skinner acknowledged him. "I'm all ears."
"Not to play on words, but so am I."
"What do you mean?"
"Diana Fowley talks in her sleep"
"She talks in her sleep...sir."
Skinner gave them both a look of disbelief.
"That's your proof?" he asked in an incredulous voice.
"Hey," exclaimed Myers. "I went to great pains to learn that woman's true motives."
The Assistant Director frowned at the doctor. Scully sighed and leaned forward in her chair.
"Sir, Agent Mulder is right now attempting to obtain more concrete proof. But, as a former operative, I have the capability of speeding the process up."
"To do what exactly?"
"To deal the Bureau back into the game."
Out in the hallway, Myers leaned against the wall with his arms folded comfortably. He watched Scully pace back and forth, noting with amusement how her four inch heels clicked along the floor.
"A masterful performance," he heckled her. She stopped in front of him.
"That was no performance," she conveyed. "That was a pitiful and most likely unconvincing cry for help."
"I'm not talking about Skinner," responded the doctor. "I'm referring to the little drama you and Mulder created yesterday at the CDC."
"Are those ears of yours really that sharp?"
"Come on spy girl. Don't they teach you in your line of work that the walls have ears?"
"And, eyes, or in this case... cameras." Scully lifted her eyebrows. "Jason, you never cease to amaze me. You really are good at the game, aren't you."
"Dana," Myers gave her his classic swashbuckler grin. "When are you going to learn that I'm good at everything I do?"
Suddenly, Myers black eyes darted past her shoulder. She turned to find Skinner approaching her.
"Okay, Scully. Time to saddle up. You've got yourself a task force."
The FBI task force descended over the mountains of West Virginia like locust, a swarm of black helicopters which were camouflaged against the night sky. They arrived in the pre-dawn hours when most of the Program's personnel were off duty and asleep. The facility had been strategically designed. Access could only be gained through the network of tunnels. Once the guards outside had been stripped of their weapons and detained, the task force began their descent to the underground facility.
Wearing protective equipment, their weapons drawn, they weaved through the maze of the tunnels.
Scully was dressed in all black, her bright auburn hair tucked tightly into a cap. Her gloved hand motioned the team forward. They crept down the hall of the barracks, silently maneuvering past the closed doors of operative's sleeping quarters. She paused outside the door where she knew Mulder slept. She pointed to the door as Skinner glided up beside her.
The Assistant Director nodded, throwing his hand forward for the team to proceed.
She carefully turned the knob. It wasn't locked. She slid into the darkened room and noiselessly shut the door. She moved towards the opposite side of the room where his cot was, each step taken with deliberate caution. She did not want to startle him. Her eyes strained through the dim shadows. She leaned forward to whisper his name.
Suddenly, she was seized from behind. A heavy hand clamped over her mouth as she was dragged away from the cot. She twisted around in her assailant's grasp, thrusting her gun between them.
She gasped for breath when the hand shifted from her mouth to her neck. Despite the threat of his grip, Mulder's touch was too distinct to go unrecognized.
"Mulder," she choked. "It's me."
Mulder's hand rose up the side of her face. His fingers ripped off her cap and sunk into her hair.
"Scully..." The feel of his breath was hot and urgent against her cheek. His lips sought hers through the darkness.
He tore them open with such force that she went weak at the knees. Her hands fell limply at her side. Before she realized it, the hold on her gun relaxed. It clattered to the floor.
A loud siren began to wail through the halls. Mulder broke away from her mouth and jerked her away from the door.
"Talk about being caught in the act."
"Skinner is leading a task force. We're shutting the Program down. The threat goes way beyond bombing hospitals."
"I know." He fumbled through the shadows to find his duffel bag. "How did you find out, Scully?"
"Myers told me." She lowered herself to the ground, skimming the floor with her hands. "Mulder, I dropped my gun."
"How did Myers find out?"
"He..." she stopped and reconsidered her choice of words.
"He inadvertently heard it while...while in compromising position."
"Are you telling me that Dr. Don Juan had sex with Fowley?" Mulder asked.
"He said she talks in her sleep," retorted Scully. "You figure out the rest."
"I don't have to. I found the proof we're looking for."
Mulder retrieved the disk from his bag and tucked it into his jeans. "I got it, Scully. The distribution plan for the virus, disguised as the vaccine."
"And, how did you manage to secure that?"
"Relax, Scully. The way to the enlightenment doesn't always lie between a woman's legs." here was a tone of amusement to his voice. "Unless, of course, we're talking about yours."
"You're not going to shoot me are you?"
"You have to help me find my gun first."
The facility was easily overtaken by the task force. Too easily, Mulder remarked, as they stood outside the tunnels while the personnel were escorted out under armed guard. All was secure. The entire inventory of the vaccine which was suspected to contain the virus had been located in the shipping bay awaiting transport. It was to be taken to the Bureau's labs to undergo testing to confirm that it had been tainted.
Everything was accounted for, but not everyone. As dawn approached, the search for Diana Fowley had come up empty.
"Once again, she's managed to dodge us," related Skinner, handing Fowley's identification badge to Scully. "I found this on the desk in her office. It was already ransacked. Her computer was destroyed."
Scully's fingers traced the lettering of the tag.
"A.D. Scott," she mumbled. "Like you say, sir, the Artful Dodger."
"I'm beginning to think she was one move ahead of the rest of us," Mulder mused outloud.
"What do you mean, Agent Mulder?" asked Skinner.
"Doesn't this strike you both as a bit too convenient?" he asked them. "It was Scully's access code that enable me to secure this date. Why was the code still active? Why weren't security measures in place? Do either one of you believe that Fowley would be that careless?"
"Maybe she was diverted by a new objective," remarked Scully, as she folded her arms obstinately.
Mulder frowned at her piqued expression.
"Maybe my accessing the distribution data was her objective the whole time," he argued.
"The next thing he's going to tell you is that Fowley was really playing a dual role, both helping and hindering the Consortium." scoffed Scully. "That she was and continues to be the ideal double agent."
"Sounds good coming from her, doesn't it?" observed Mulder as he nodded his head towards the woman.
"Works for me," the Assistant Director commented dryly. He reached out to take the disc that Mulder offered him. "This game is far too complicated to worry about the motives, or double motives of each player, Scully. I say we gather our winnings and go home."
Scully's mouth dropped open as the man turned away. Mulder leaned over to her ear and whispered, "Close your mouth, Scully. We're still on duty. Now's not the time for me to slip you the tongue."
"Shut up, Mulder," she growled. She stalked towards the field to where the helicopters were waiting.
"You said it yourself," he called after her. "True lies, remember? That for a lie to be convincing it had to contain elements of the truth."
Scully suddenly stopped in her steps causing Mulder to collide against her.
"What is your definition of the truth these days, Mulder?"
"That it begins and ends with you."
"Nice save," she smirked. His hands skimmed up her arms to her shoulders. He turned her towards the East, to where the sky was a glistening mauve as the sun rose over the mountains.
"Look, Scully. A new day promising a fresh start. Rather then get bogged down with trying to figure out if the bad guys are really good guys posing as bad guys, I say we take Skinner's advice."
"The part about gathering up our winnings?"
"The part about going home."
Weeks later, Scully was in the kitchen of her townhouse in Baltimore. She had just finished seasoning the basil and lemon chicken that was to be grilled for dinner and was assembling a salad. When her cellular phone rang, she reached across the counter for it, balancing it between her shoulder and ear so her hands might continue their work.
"Scully.." she answered crisply. The days of a simple "hello" were gone. Her days of a medical resident and operative for the CDC were over. She had been reinstated to the Bureau.
Reassigned with her partner to monitor the Project as it began again. With new players, new rules and two federal agents to monitor each movement. Or, as Mulder put it, to ensure that the bad guys, posing as good guys, pretending to be bad guys were banned from the game altogether.
"Ahoy, mariner's daughter," the voice on the other end of the phone greeted her.
"Mulder, where are you?" she asked as she drizzled a bottle of balsamic vinegar over the salad.
"Closer than you think," he hinted.
"I hope its closer than that," Scully paused as she crumbled fresh croutons over the bowl. "Mulder, you do like croutons, don't you?"
"You know me, Scully. My craving is so great that I'll devour any breadcrumb, especially if it happens to fall from your hand."
What a wise ass, she thought.
"Hey, what's the wine selection this evening?" Mulder directed her attention back to safer ground.
"How does White Zinfadel sound?"
"How does a glass shared down by the docks sound?"
"How close are you?" she smiled, rinsing her hands in the sink.
"About twenty yards due east." He hinted before he hung up.
Drying her hands, she peered outside the kitchen window. If he was on the docks, she couldn't see him. She slipped on her sandals and reached for the bottle of wine.
When she reached the end of the dock, Scully circled around in confusion. He wasn't there. Believing she must have misunderstood, she turned to leave. It was at that moment that she heard his voice.
"I think the path to enlightenment actually begins with a woman's legs."
Her eyes darted down to the harbor. He was lounging comfortably in the back of a small sailboat. He gazed up at her bare legs, his hazel eyes gleaming with mischief. He grinned as her eyes widened in surprise.
A sailboat. He had gone and done it. Only a week ago, he had suggested that they buy one. She had discouraged him, reminding him that their federal salaries couldn't support the expense of a boat and docking fees.
"Mulder..." she tried to sound stern, but her misgiving was melting into delight. The sailboat was stunning. Perfect. She exhaled slowly and kneeled down to take a closer look.
"You like?" He reached up and took the bottle of wine and glasses from her hands.
"I like..." She studied him a moment. "Wait a minute. I thought you flew to Atlanta this morning to meet with Myers."
"Actually, he flew up here to meet with me. We spent the morning sailboat shopping."
"Myers..." observed Scully, shaking her head. Assistant Director Myers. The Program's new coordinator. A man of dark, impenetrable resolve. Capable of influencing others, including Mulder, into decisions they would not have ordinarily made.
"I'm almost afraid to ask how much this cost," she remarked, swinging her legs over the side of the dock.
"Just a suitcase full of money," Mulder's hands circled her waist as he lifted her down into the boat.
"I thought that was to be our security measure."
"Scully, we are the security."
"Mulder, this is crazy. It's irresponsible...it's..." She paused as her hand glided along the mast. "It's really beautiful."
"Myers said you'd cave when you saw it."
"That man really is a pirate. Capable of manipulating... of sacking people's resolve."
"He did managed to coerce me."
"And, how did he manage to do that, Mulder?"
"With these." responded Mulder as he pulled out a bottle of pills. She peered at the label. Myers had written him a prescription for Dramamine.
Suddenly, she laughed. The sound of it was warm and inviting. He leaned over to greet her with a kiss.
"Scully..." Mulder lifted his lips from hers. "There's still enough sunlight to hoist the sail and explore the harbor before dinner."
She reached behind her and opened the hatch that led down to the tiny cabin. With a gentle tug on his hand and a glimmer of excitement in her eyes, she lured him to the berth inside.
"I'd rather explore you," she whispered.
Feedback is most graciously accepted. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.