Title: The Vanisher
Authors: The Lone Gunpersons
Written: March 1999
Rating: R for violence and language, and for the mention of that evil Energizer bunny.
Category: S (characterized by character interactions although based on an X File you might see on the actual TV show)
Spoilers: Up to and including Season 6
Keywords: Mulder/Scully UST, Mulder/other (All 'shippers stay tuned for The Vanisher II)

Disclaimer: Yes, Purdue is mentioned in this story, however, none of the following events are based in reality. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are property of Chris (All Hail the Holy Man!) Carter and Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting. Anything that you recognize has been borrowed with the utmost respect.

We would list them, but it would take too bloody long. Names have been changed to protect the guilty, which by the way belongs to Dragnet.

Summary: Scully and Mulder find themselves on a college campus investigating a most peculiar X-File.

Earhart Hall
Purdue University
Room 662
Nov. 29, 1998
11:21 PM EST

The dream began as it always did.

Her body stiffened in an instinctual response to the onslaught of the dream, her breathing escalating in the huff-huff of the fight or flight response.

She was back in the Dominican Republic again, the silver moon above her, lighting the night in its cool glow.

However, something was wrong.

The medical compound where she had interned was under siege.

In her mind, swarms of half-men half-animals broke through the meager defenses of the compound, attacking the guards and the medical students who were unlucky enough to be outside of the buildings.

She stood paralyzed in the center of the compound; her legs unable to move due to the strength of the fear that coursed through her blood.

She screamed silently, her vocal cords refusing to release the sound of her terror.

The creatures moved closer, liberally throwing the remains of their prey across the rich soil of the tropical island.

Her fear escalated to the point of no return, her eyes stuck wide open as the creatures leapt for the final time.

And Claire Holliwell found herself standing alone at her pivotal moment.

Dominican Republic Medical Compound
Outskirts of Santo Domingo
Nov. 29, 1998
11:21PM EST

Jose Reyes heard a faint popping sound during his rounds of the compound.

He pivoted in the direction of the sound, his machine gun dropping into the ready position, his hand on the trigger.

In the pale moonlight, he spotted a woman's body, her form in a white nightgown.


Are you ok?" he asked in Spanish, before turning to broken English as he spotted her white face, "Heeeellloo, Ok you are?" His brow furrowed in confusion, as she remained unresponsive to his approach.

He knelt beside her body, feeling for her pulse.

He jumped back, holding hand in pain, as her cold flesh seemingly burned him.

Jose frowned as he looked into her lifeless brown eyes, he knew this girl. He screamed for a doctor, but he realized that they would never be able to revive Claire.

She was gone.

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Basement Office, X Files Division
Dec. 9, 1998
8:30 AM EST

"Claire Holliwell was the fourth victim of whom the Purdue Police Department and Purdue's student newspaper calls 'The Vanisher.'

Before her death, her roommate suffered the same fate as she.

Each of the victims, in this case, lived in the same residence hall, above the 6th floor on the West side, " said Special Agent Fox Mulder as he flipped through slides of the Dominican Medical Compound and Claire's body, "And get this, Scully.

Their bodies were found *frozen,* although current observation by the head of the Clinical Investigative Unit reports that their bodies are very slowly warming up."

"Did someone hide them in the freezer?"

"That's what they *want* you to think.

Scully, their bodies just *appeared* in the middle of the jungle.

Tropical climate, Scully.

Think about it.

Wouldn't they be...*warm*?" The unspoken "duh" echoed through the basement office. Dana Scully, his partner, sighed and asked, "Who are the other victims?" Her eyes closed for an instant with sympathy for the families of the college students. "Emma Duncan, Claire's roommate, and two other sets of roommates on the 7th floor."

"Have the Purdue Police decided how Claire managed to get to the Dominican Medical Compound?"

"I'm thinking teleportation here, Scully."

"Teleportation?!" Scully shook her head, exasperated, "Mulder, there is no scientific evidence to support such a claim.

Obviously, the Vanisher must have taken Claire's body on a plane to the Dominican Republic."

"But Scully," said Mulder, "Claire was seen in her dorm twenty minutes before her body was found in the Compound.

It takes 8 hours to travel from Purdue to the Dominican Republic.

How could she have gotten there so quickly, without help?" Scully raised an eyebrow slightly, allowing her skepticism to shine through her expression, "You are incorrigible, Mulder."

"Why thank you, Scully.

We leave for the very plausible state of Indiana in an hour.

I hope that you like corn," Mulder said. "Mulder, surely you knew." Mulder looked at her curiously for an instant. "There *is* more than corn in Indiana..."

Earhart Hall Purdue University
Room 661
Dec. 9,1998 3:25 PM EST

Julie walked into Laura's room unannounced.

Laura glanced up from her computer screen, smiling sadly as she entered the room, "Hey, Julie..."

"Man, I had the strangest dream last night!" she said, brushing an errant strand of reddish hair behind her ear, "It was so weird!"

Laura raised an eyebrow at Julie's tone,

"What did you dream about?"

"I was in the tropics and there was a typhoon raging through the jungle.

The rain was pouring through the trees, to splash on the ground by my feet. And..." Laura interrupted, her eyes unfocusing as she remembered, "...I was running, but I don't from what.

It was in the Philippines, I know that.

I was with some of my friends visiting Boracay on the band concert tour.

Um, I was holding my trumpet in the dream, the silver one that's in my closet.

But..." Laura shook her head, "It was strange, I saw the place where we spent our days and nights, the hotel in Boracay, but the place...something was wrong with it.


Julie's mouth had dropped lower and lower during Laura's recounting of the dream, the exact *same* dream that she had, only without the name 'Boracay.'

"How'd you know that?!" Laura's eyes re-focused on Julie's as they shouted at the same time, "Get out of my head!" Julie shook her head as she plopped on Laura's bed, her back to her dresser as she hugged Laura's stuffed tiger, "God, this is so strange." Laura nodded silently,

"It is, but I believe that it's not too strange.

After all, we have been under a lot of pressure lately.

And it's not uncommon for us to have the same type of dream.

After all, our minds do sorta run along the same lines...strangely."


But...I wish Claire were here.

She'd come up with some remark that'd lighten the mood." Laura rubbed her hand across her eyes wearily, sorrow in her voice as she tried to lighten the mood, "Well...I could always whack you with my lightsaber...." then she hit herself on the head, remembering that she only did that to Emma, "Damn.

I *hate* this.

*HATE* this!"

"The police still have no clues as to what happened, do they?"


They're completely in the dark about it.

I just wish that there was something that we could do..." Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.

Laura left her computer reluctantly to answer it, opening it to reveal two somberly dressed adults.

The man almost filled up the doorway.

At least 6'2", he towered over his diminutive companion.

She spoke first, "Special Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder with the FBI.

Ms. Beckett?" Laura nodded dumbly, "Yes," she wondered what the FBI agents could do if the Police could find no clues, "Please, come in." Scully immediately crossed the small room to stand behind Laura's computer desk, surveying the array of Physics and Engineering books decorating her shelves as well as a large collection of Star Trek novels.

Laura turned to follow the short agent across the room, while Mulder leaned against the closet.

Scully spoke to Laurel, "Physics fan?" She smiled, "Yeah, I'm majoring in Astronautical Engineering, with a minor in Physics.

But Astrophysics is my passion." She smiled and began to speak about her dissertation on Einstein's Twin Paradox.

The two continued their discussion next to Laura's computer, while Mulder curiously began to peruse the titles of the stack of books amassed on the floor next to Julie:

'Abnormal Psychology,' 'ESP and You,' 'Mysticism in Modern Society,' among other titles. "Psychology major?" Mulder asked, "You know, that's not the best book on mysticism, actually, its 'Modern Mysticism' by Walter Vallin."

"I know, I read it while I was overseas at Oxford last semester.

And I must say, the curriculum here isn't nearly as challenging as it was at Oxford," spoke Julie matter-of-factly. Mulder grinned, "You know this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Scully shot a dark look at Mulder from across the room, her blue eyes narrowing dangerously.

Laura paused in the middle of describing of her ambitions to join NASA, catching the full impact of Scully's look and to whom it was directed, "Dana?

Are you ok?" Mulder's eyebrow raised at the familiarity in the question, *Dana?!*

She *never* let him call her Dana.

He glowered sullenly next to a suddenly quiet Julie, glaring at Laurel. "I'm fine, Laurel," Scully said, her blue eyes glinting with her victory. Scully continued, "Don't you think we should start talking about what happened to Claire and Emma?" Scully and Mulder both nodded as Laura sat down on the bed next to Julie, "Well, from what I remember, for the past few weeks Emma had been becoming increasingly edgy, staying up all hours of the night to avoid going to sleep.

She had been having nightmares recently, about Costa Rica.

We didn't think anything of it, to tell you the truth.

Emma was usually that way, staying up late, sleeping in, etc.

But then Claire began to have similar dreams.

Only she dreamt of the Dominican Republic during the time that she was an intern at a Medical Compound there."

"Emma's edginess soon turned to fear. More than fear, really. Her dread over something she couldn't name seemed to spread to everyone, especially Claire. Both Emma and Claire's 'paranoia' increased until the Thursday before Thanksgiving." Laura continued, "It was that night, when she was completely terrified, that she...um...disappeared from Earhart.

We found out later on that week that she had ended up in Costa Rica," Laura drew in a shaky breath, she recovered as the Agents nodded for her to go on, "Then Claire began to become afraid of her dreams, her nightmares.

She too became terrified of the night, staying up all hours to avoid REM sleep.

Julie and I attempted to comfort her, to try to figure out what was happening to her.

Well, Julie thought that Claire was merely expressing her natural empathy with her roommate, sensing Emma's fears and incorporating them into herself.

It isn't often that your roommate dies so strangely.

Anyway, Claire's fear grew, and then one night, she too, disappeared.

We lost two good people here, Agents Scully and Mulder.

And I want the bozo that did this to them to rot in the darkest, dankest prison that you can find in the States, or outside of the States.

I know some really good prisons in Singapore that I can recommend..." She concluded with a firm expression. Mulder and Scully shared a Look, before turning to Laurel, "Do you know exactly what their dreams were about?"

"From what I can remember, they were dreaming about instances in their lives that were defining...um, a pivotal moment. I think...I really don't remember," Laura said, her brow furrowing. Julie began quietly, "She was so afraid.

The dreams always began the same.

They didn't scare her until about a month ago.

The familiar place that Claire had once thought of as comforting suddenly began a hellish nightmare.

The surgeries she assisted on that had gone so well in previous dreams suddenly turned into bloodbaths.

Then the dreams changed.

She arrived too late.

The patients were dead."

Her voice broke, "Even the children she had cared for so carefully.

That was the last dream that she had before she... disappeared."

"So that would be the night of Nov. 28. " Mulder stated, flipping through his notebook. "Um..." Laura began. "Absolutely," Julie interrupted. "How can you be so sure, Ms. Solomon?" Scully inquired. "Eidetic memory," Laura and Julie stated at the same time. Mulder and Scully stared at them, "Oh."

Cary Quad Purdue University Room 220 Dec. 9, 1998
4:00PM EST

Thick smoke swelled around the room, a faint scent of almonds wafted through the air.

He chanted softly, his voice growing with a supernatural power.

His spell grew in strength, the air pulsating with the darkness of the chant.

As his voice reached a crescendo, the room clapped with thunder.

Suddenly, the door to the dorm room opened, letting in bright light.

Ed paused in his chant with a grimace, glaring as his roommate entered the room. "Chanting again?" Perry asked with a faint smile, "Don't worry, I'll be out in a minute.

I'll let you get back to your spells.

Oh, have you thought about actually *asking* Laura out, instead of just chanting about her?"

"Um...no." said Ed softly, "I can't do that!

She's too...unapproachable.

An ice queen." Perry scoffed and grabbed his Flower Arranging book, "I've got class in a few minutes.

I'll see you later!

And be careful, Ed.

You are messing with powers that you don't understand." Ed stuck his tongue out at Perry as he left the room, resuming his chant as soon as the door closed.

He grabbed the photo of a smiling Laurel, holding a few suitcases in an airport.

His cousin had given him a copy of the photo, expecting him to watch her for him, and to get her back together with him.

However, he had never expected that Ed would fall in love with Laurel.

And now, he was stuck with only a photo, when what he truly wanted was *her. *

Earhart Hall Room 661 Purdue University Dec. 9, 1998
10:13PM EST

Laura yawned, crawling into her bed after turning off the lights.

As her eyes closed in sleep, the dreams began again... She was playing her trumpet. Her solo soared through the amphitheater; the crescendo of sound reached its climax before dying to a whisper.

She played her solo like she had never done before, much to the appreciation of Mr. Jones, her music director, as he conducted.

And then, it changed. As Laura lowered her silver trumpet, the crowd before her remained silent, frowns on their faces. Her elation died a quick death as her eyes met those of the audience, their disapproval flowing over her. Crushed, she fought to contain her tears as she turned to her fellow players, desperately trying to find any measure of approval from anyone.

However, instead of meeting the eyes of humans, she met the eyes of vicious half-animals, their growls filling the air as they left their instruments behind.

She screamed, her eyes widening in fear as they leapt towards her, claws extended.

And her world turned white.

------- Filipino Student Center Purdue University Dec. 9, 1998
10:13PM EST

"Blasted University," Julie muttered under her breath. "God only knows why I'm out here...wherever *that* is...at ten o'clock at night! I swear... The next time I see that abnormal psych professor, I will hunt him down...and kill him."

She was so intent on her tirade that she nearly stepped on the body, which lay crumpled in front of the Filipino Student Center. "Tell me this is a normal happening... Okay, maybe normal for *me, * but never mind that. Hey, buddy," she said, standing a safe distance away from the body, "You okay?" Her concern grew as the collapsed figure didn't respond. Julie walked closer and shook the person slightly. As she did, the body groaned and rolled over. "Laura?!" To herself, she added, "What the hell?" Laura opened her eyes slowly, wondering why she felt so cold, "I could've sworn that I had locked the door and the window...." she mumbled, her eyes widening as she took in the view of the pavement, "Oh my God!"

"I take it this wasn't a planned excursion?" Julie responded, raising one eyebrow. Her calm words belied her fear. Laura's eyebrow mimicked Julie's movement as she attempted to sit up, "Please tell me that this is just a *really* bad dream.

Wait I already had one...but maybe in this one Harrison Ford'll show up to rescue me," she grinned. Julie snorted, ladylike. "I think not. Come on, Indiana Jones. Your journeys are over for this night, at least. Besides, Harrison Ford only comes to rescue *me*." Laura stuck out her tongue at Julie, "That's what you think.

I don't think I am dreaming, am I?

Not unless you're that sarcastic while you're asleep.

Besides, you're too...feminine to be Harrison Ford."

"Get real, space cadet. I think the cold has affected your mind." As she helped Laura up, she noticed that her skin was unnaturally cold. Too cold for only being outside for a few minutes.

Laura glowered as she stood up, "Listen, you liberal-arts loser, you want a piece of me? Let's take this...*inside.*" Julie rolled her eyes and led the way back to the dorm.

Earhart Hall Room 661 Dec 9, 1998
10:30PM EST

"I was dreaming about my solo during one of the concert tours that my band always took to the Filipino Provinces.

I think that the name of the piece was 'The Ascension,' it had a complicated solo for the first trumpet.

Anyway, I was playing that solo like I had never had before, I was *really* good!

However, when I finished my solo, the audience was quiet.

I could practically feel their disapproval of my performance, and I couldn't understand why.

I started out extremely elated, but when I saw the crowd, my elation headed down the gutter.

Desperate for any form of approval, I looked at my fellow performers, but instead of humans, they were these half-man, half animal...things.

Their growling filled the air of the amphitheater, and then they attacked me.

Everything turned white, and the next thing I knew, I was on cold pavement with your face staring at me.

What a way to wake up..." Laura's voice trailed off as she sipped her hot chocolate, curled up on the end of her bed. "I'll second that," Julie deadpanned over her organic tea. "The question that remains is, is there any connection between your dreams and Claire and Emma's? Their dreams were about islands in the Caribbean... Yours was about an island in the Pacific."

"Emma always said that Costa Rica was the first time she felt important. And Claire said that it was in the Dominican that she realized that she wanted to become a doctor," Laura observed. "Maybe that's it. Maybe those were moments that changed their lives... Pivotal moments, if you will."

"But what was it about that dream that was my 'pivotal moment?'

I could've sworn that that was nothing more than a nightmare...except of course for the fact that I ended up by the Filipino Center."

"You must delve deep into your subconscious," Julie said in her best Freud impression. Laura frowned as she took another sip, "Gag me, Julie. You want to know, cut the crap. I had what amounts to two pivotal moments.

The first was in South Korea, the second in the Philippines. I have lived overseas for most of my life, 11 years to be exact.

Heck, life in the States was something that I considered a half-way luxury, something that I could see when I came here for the summer, but still something that I could never have.

When I first moved overseas, well, another country, I was in Mexico.

I was little more than fresh pickings for the other kids there, a newbie who knew little of how things worked in *their* little world, and someone whom would be a prime target.

I was, to put it mildly, a wuss. The boys would pick on me continuously, and like a chicken, I'd run away and cry about it.

I reacted, the first thing that you don't do with bullies," she shook her head, remembering her past, "From there, my life spiraled downhill.

I was beaten up by a girl that I called 'friend,' not truly knowing the meaning of the word.

My self-esteem was in tatters from continuous teasing, insults, and the fact that those whom I labeled 'friends' were far from such.

I ended up actually having to see a psychologist about my emotional troubles."

"I suppose that it was a good thing that I went to see my 'shrink' about everything that happened to me.

She really helped me overcome my shortcomings.

However, the one thing that sealed my cure was when I moved to Korea.

A new location, and a fresh start, these were what I had seen in moving, and so it happened.

In Korea, I became a new person, essentially who I am today.

Strong willed, nerves of steel, super woman...." she grinned at Julie's expression, "I know, I know.

What I mean is I became the exact opposite of what I once was.

I was no longer a target because I would fight back.

And it was a heady feeling, a feeling of newness that I had never known before.

Except for a few lapses, I was cured.

And then I moved to the Philippines."

"So, in other words, your psychologist saved your life," Julie entreated. "And you mock me for being a 'liberal arts' major, huh? So, what happened in the Philippines? And why would you be having dreams about it now?"

"I'm getting to that!

Be patient!" Laura said firmly, "This is necessary info now. Back to the story, I moved to the Philippines..." she paused to make sure that Julie wouldn't say anything else, "Now, when I got to the Philippines, I was mostly cured, but I still had a major fear of performing before a crowd.

Being who I am in front of a large group of people.

I could speak in front of anywhere between 1 and 200 people, but when it came to acting or playing, I was scared half to death.

I know that most people have the same feelings when they stand before other people.

How 'natural' it is, but I...oh I don't know.

But, the best thing that happened to me there in Manila was the fact that I met Mr. Jones, my band teacher.

He knew that I was good at playing, that I could do solos with the best of them.

Yet, he couldn't understand why I was so afraid of playing, why I was so nervous.

And, to tell you the truth, I didn't know why either.

Mr. Winograd continued to encourage me to play, to overcome my fears, and slowly but surely, I ended up conquering those fears.

I could play in front of thousands, and not blink.

All thanks to one person, I completely became who I am today.

I'm not afraid anymore.

That was my pivotal moment.

Well, those were my pivotal moments.

I am a whole person.

Cheesy, huh?" Laura concluded after finishing her confession.

"Awwww," Julie replied in sappy tones. Then she sobered. "But why are you having these dreams now? Will you..." She looked away. "Will I disappear, just like the others?" Laura responded quietly. "Or why *didn't* you? You had that dream, which started like the others, but--"

"Instead of disappearing, you ended up at the Filipino Student Center. Which, if you think about it, is pretty ironic," said a voice from the doorway. "Agent Mulder," Julie acknowledged. "We really *do* have to do something about security around here." She gave both agents a small smile. "Please, sit down." Laura frowned slightly at Julie, "Sure. Fine. Whatever." The agents exchanged a look. "I thought that was *my* line," Scully said. She smiled apologetically at the two college students. "*Mulder* couldn't sleep, so he thought that we should come over here and harass you." The tall man grinned sheepishly and turned to Julie. "Should I ask?" Mulder said, tilting his head toward Laurel, clad in a bathrobe and pajamas. "Which explanation do you want?" Julie said, grinning. "You mean, the long or short version?" Mulder responded. Scully and Laura traded glances, then rolled their eyes.

"They are *really* getting freaky," Laura muttered to Scully. "Short version, I was coming back from the library--" Julie said. "Lost, as usual," Laura interjected. Julie cleared her throat. "*Anyway*, as I was saying, I was coming back from the library and I found Laura in front of the FSC. Which is odd, considering that I had just ICQ-ed her five minutes before, and she was getting into bed at the time." Scully stood and crossed her arms. "It's a simple explanation, really. She just slept-walked there."

"Aha, but Agent Scully, there are some major details you're missing here. One, Laura has *never* walked in her sleep. And don't tell me that there's a first time for everything, because it's highly unlikely that at this advanced age she would begin a sleep disorder like somnambulism."

"Ooh, big word. Pays to actually *read* some of those books, does it?" Laura commented. Julie ignored her. "*Somnambulism,* not likely. Sleep apnea, perhaps. But never mind that. The other thing you forget, which I'm not surprised, is that, A, she would have killed herself walking to the FSC, because the traffic is *always* horrible. B, even on a good day, she *never* would've made it from Earhart to the FSC in five minutes. It defies the laws of physics."

"Can't argue with that one, can ya, Scully?" Mulder said, obviously happy that she had been proven wrong. Scully resisted the temptation to stick her tongue out at him.

Cary Quad Purdue University Room 220 Dec. 9, 1998
10:30PM EST

Chanting filled the air of the small dorm room, lit only by a circle of candles.

Ed lifted a pinch of hemlock, and dropped it into a small pot; his eyes half-closed in trance.

"Guardians of the Watchtower of the North, I summon thee."

He summoned the Guardians of the South, West and East as well.

"Powers of Darkness I summon thee. By the power of three times three, as I will it, so shall it be. In love with me, she will be." He wrapped a piece of red string around the coveted picture of Laura. "In love with me, she will be." He paused, as if thinking. "And if this spell by chance should break, a thousand curses for her sake." Suddenly, words appeared to come not from his mouth but from around him, the room filling with darkness.

"The best of friends soon shall change, transient souls shall soon be theirs. If this spell should break, her soul for me to take...." the otherworldly voice died, the room's darkness slowly ebbing away.

Ed's eyes opened slowly, blinking his eyes to banish the last threads of his spell.

He frowned slightly as he glanced around the dormitory, feeling a strong sense of wrongness about the room.

Shrugging, he finished the spell, "By the power of three times three, as I will it, so shall it be."

As the last phrases left his lips, he extinguished the candles counter-clockwise. In the darkness of his mind, a faint cackle wafted through, unnoticed by the true owner of the body.

His time had come.

Earhart Hall Room 661 Dec.10, 1998
5:15 PM EST

"I think this is the best way to do it," Scully said decisively. "Okay," Laura said excitedly. "Since my roommate graduated last semester, you can room here. It'll be a lot easier then."

"What'll be easier?" Mulder asked, following Julie into the room. "I'm staying here to keep an eye on Laura."

"Okay. I'll go get out stuff from the hotel." He prepared to leave as the three women stared at him. "What?!" he asked, eyebrows furrowing. "You can't stay here!" Laura used the "What, are you nuts?" tone. Julie wrinkled her nose. She *hated* that tone.

"This is a *girl's* dorm," Scully explained slowly. "So?" he asked. "*So,* you can't stay here!" Mulder threw up his hands. "Then neither can you!" he announced. "The first rule of investigation is 'Never leave your partner.' "

"How easily that rule is forgotten, huh, Mulder?" she interjected smoothly. He ignored her. " 'Never leave your partner,' " he repeated. "That's why they put the *I* in FBI." Laura put her head down on the desk as Scully and Mulder glared at each other. "Enough!" Julie said sternly. "All right. *This* is what we're going to do. Agent Scully, you stay here. Mulder, you're *not* going to stay here." She held up her hand to halt his interruption. "One of my friends is an RA at Cary Quad. He'll get you a room there." Both agents wore a stunned look, not unlike that of schoolchildren who had just been reprimanded. Laura, however, was not stunned. "You're sending him to Cary?!" she screeched. Julie shot her A Look. "He'll live. I'll check on him, Scott will check on him. It'll be *fine.*" She turned to the agents. "While you two go get your stuff from the hotel, I'll make the arrangements." Mulder and Scully rose as one. Outside the dorm, he remarked, "I think we've been dismissed."

"And I think that we may have met our match," Scully said. "Creepy," they said together, shuddering. On the road back to the hotel, Mulder turned to Scully. "How do you explain what happened to all those other girls...and why it *didn't* happen to Laura?" Scully frowned. "I don't know, Mulder. This case is just getting weirder and weirder."

"But there *has* to be a rational explanation," he said, hitting the steering wheel with his hand. "We're ignoring the obvious, Mulder. Who found the first two girls?" He pressed his lips together, not wanting to say it aloud. "And who found Laura last night?" She turned in her seat to stare at him. "Say it, Mulder!"

"Julie," he said in a low voice. "See!? It's obvious!" she shouted. He jerked the car over on the side of the road and turned off the engine. "Then how do you explain how the bodies were found in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, among other places?"

"Simple," she replied, "And we've both witnessed it!"

"Do tell," he deadpanned. "She finishes people's sentences, she has their dreams, she even knows things about *you.* Things that I wouldn't have known for *ages* if you hadn't told me." Mulder looked at her. "Are you actually suggesting that she has powers of telekinesis and telepathy?"

"Yeah. And let's face it, Mulder. The girl is just..."

"SPOOKY?!" he nearly shouted. "Jesus, Scully! Do you know how far-out this is? Even if she *did* have powers of telekinesis, which, might I add, is scientifically impossible *and* improbable, do you really think that these so-called 'powers' would be strong enough that she could send all those girls over continents and large bodies of water? Even if she could, as unrealistic as that is, what would be her motive? What could she possibly have to gain from this?" He was breathing hard by the time he finished. Scully released the breath she had been unconsciously holding. "I don't know. I'm kinda going on the old Sherlock Holmes theory: 'Eliminate the impossible. Whatever remains, however improbable, is the truth.' "

"Yeah, well, you just *happened* to ignore all the known laws of physics. Besides, all those things you mentioned can be explained. She finishes Laura's sentences because they spend a lot of time together. They have the same dreams because they share an interest in the same activities. Hell, Laura probably told Julie about her 'pivotal moment' at least thirty times before this all started."

"What about her knowing things about *you,* oh wise one?" Scully said sarcastically. "Like what? And how do you know?"

Scully turned away briefly. "Laura told me... Julie asked her if you'd had any, and I quote, 'Childhood trauma.' She even specified what type--losing a younger sibling." She paused. "She said *losing,* Mulder. Not 'the death of a sibling.' Not separation by divorce. *Losing.*" Something clicked in Mulder's mind, but for some reason, he did not tell Scully. Instead, he started the car and pulled off the side of the road. "I...I don't know, Scully." They drove the rest of the way to the hotel and all the way back to the dorm in silence.

Cary Quad Room 215 Dec. 10, 1998
8:13 PM EST

The talk began even before Mulder was completely moved in. Julie didn't care what anyone said; it wasn't females who were gossips. At Cary Quad, so it seemed, the men were the ones with the loose lips.

"Who's the new guy?" she heard the guy in 219 ask his roommate.

"Beats me. I've never seen him before." Both roommates leaned out the door, watching Julie and Mulder carry his stuff into his room. "Man, doesn't that figure," the shorter one said, shaking his head. "Been here for, what, two hours, and he's already got a girl? The tall guys have all the luck."

"Maybe she came with him," his roommate wondered aloud. "Nope. She's in my European History class. And I had Com 114 with her freshman year."

"Son of a--" he spat out. "And I bet he's a real asshole, too. They always are."

"Hey, guys," Mulder said, passing them. He and Julie had caught more than half of the conversation from down the hall. At least the two gossips had the good grace to blush. For good measure, Mulder put his arm around Julie's waist.

As soon as they got outside, Julie slugged Mulder in the stomach. "What was that for?"

"Good measure," she replied. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"No," he lied. "I'm used to it."

"Are you?" Julie asked. Suddenly her tone had turned serious. There was a tangible change in the air around them. "Listen, pseudo-shrinkette. When you have your Ph.D. *and* your license, you can psychoanalyze me. But until then, lay off." He walked away. Julie followed him. "Why are you so defensive about a simple statement?" she asked. He spun on his heel.

"I am *not* defensive."

"You've spent your whole life building up these walls...protecting yourself from the horrors that happened to you so many years ago. You think that by hiding the pain from other people, and not dealing with it yourself, that the pain will go away. It *doesn't go away,* Mulder. It's *always* there, festering, growing, affecting every aspect of your life. Your career, your personal life...your dreams..."

"You sound as if you're talking about yourself," he said softly, his eyes closed for an instant, his and Scully's conversation replaying in his head, "'She said *losing,* Mulder. Not 'the death of a sibling.' Not separation by divorce. *Losing.*'" he repeated.

The depth of his loss couldn't have been seen by Julie, it *couldn't* have been.

His heart never lay on the outside of his walls, it was hidden, for no one to see.

Except of course, for the one person that had managed to penetrate his walls, and the one person that he could never tell the truth because if he did, he would lose her.

And in so losing her, he would lose far more than he had in the past...he'd lose a part of his soul. His soul. What a fragile, inconceivable word. Really, not a strong enough word to describe this feeling inside him--the feeling that came in the night, gripped him by the throat, held him to the couch in the dark and nearly strangled the life out of him. Could Julie possibly see that? Could Scully have told her about his past, about the nightmares? No. Scully would never say that. Scully would never betray him. But, as he looked at Julie, he saw...something. Whether it was the bond they had formed from their common interest or something else, something deeper. He concentrated on her eyes. Suddenly, it was as if a light had flicked on in his mind. What psychologists call an "Aha moment."

"We're not talking about you. We're not talking about me. We're talking about the both of us," he said. Julie frowned. "What the hell would you know about *me*?" she said defensively. "I wouldn't *presume* to know about you, Julie. I know about me. And, I assume, that I know something about you based on that knowledge." Julie raised one eyebrow. "Why don't we head back inside," Mulder continued, glancing around the darkened parking lot suspiciously, "It's cold out here."

"Back into the henhouse, then?" Julie smiled. "Cluck like a chicken, Julie.

We're about to get plucked."

They hurried past the gossips with their doors still wide open, presumably waiting for Mulder to get back and tell them all about his "adventures." Upon entering the room, Mulder stepped inside. Julie stayed out in the hallway. "You a vampire or something? I just *wish* people would tell me this before I start to like them."

"You *like* me?" Julie said, shocked. "You're a nice person...for a *girl,*" Mulder responded, deadpan. "Gee, thanks," Julie said sarcastically. "They must've *loved* you at Oxford," Mulder commented. Julie was about to retort from the hallway, but, just as she was about to stick her tongue out at Mulder, Short Boy and his roommate leaned out into the hallway. "Just a second, Mulder," she called loudly. "Put your pants back on! I need to go back to my dorm." The eavesdroppers jumped back into their room. "Yesssss!" Julie hissed under her breath. She entered the room and shut the door behind her. "That ought to take care of things," she said, mock-dusting off her hands. Mulder was blushing. "Oh, great. Now I have a reputation."

"You should be *thanking* me! What would they think of a thirty-year-old college senior who doesn't get laid on a regular basis?" Mulder realized that everything Julie had said was a snide stab at him. "Hmmm. Maybe that was my problem when *I* was in Grad school." Julie laughed and sat on his now-made bed. "Do you want to talk about it?" Mulder asked. He pulled the chair away from the desk and straddled it. Julie took her auburn hair out of the clip that held it up. "You first," she half-joked. He sighed, got out of the chair, and sat on the floor, leaning against the bed. "I was twelve, she was eight. We were playing Stratego in the living room. All of a sudden, there was a blinding white light. My sister screamed my name, but I was paralyzed, I couldn't move.

The door to the living room opened to reveal a strange figure, framed in white.

Samantha was bathed in the light, her form paralyzed as she floated above the floor, and out the window.

I screamed her name, my vocal cords being the only muscles of my body that worked.

The next thing that I knew, she was gone.

And it is all my fault.

After that, my parents would hardly speak to me, my father seeking solace in the bottle; my mother denying that I hardly even existed.

It wasn't a good way to grow up," he concluded quietly.

"I was ten...my sister Cat was five. We were catching fireflies, us, tried to make us feel comfortable. Then, one by one, he led us off into the closet. I remember the screams..." Silent tears rolled down her face. Mulder wore a pained expression, his hand reaching out to touch her shoulder lightly. His touch seemed to break a spell that had kept her held together. Julie began to shake, quiet sobs wracking her body. He pulled himself up onto the bed. As he would have done for his sister, and for Scully, so he did for her.

He hugged Julie tightly, feeling her tears wet his shirt as he murmured into her hair, "It looks like we both need to face our fears."

She looked up. "You don't have to say anything else if you don't want to," he said. "I have to. You're the only person who I've told about this."

"I watched as girl after girl went to that back closet. I heard their screams, their pleas for help...I couldn't do anything. I sat there, untied, and looked at the other girls. As I looked at the girl in front of me, across the room, I saw my out. I saw the light from the door behind her. So I did the only thing I could think of. I got up, and I ran. I ran as fast as I could. I ran and I ran and I ran. I didn't stop until I was out the door. Only then...only then did I realize...I had left Cat behind."

"I still hear her screams at night." Mulder silently cursed the demons that haunted the girl in his arms, wishing that he could have stopped the horror from happening to her.

But as he didn't stop those who took Samantha, those who took *his* Scully, Donnie Phaster, Duane Barry, and all of the countless others who had inflicted their images into his dreams at night.

He mentally cursed those demons, and as he did so, he felt the barriers that he had erected on his heart start to crumble, "I have similar dreams at night, but I have one thing that has helped me get through it all."

"You mean your partner, don't you?" Julie said Mulder nodded, "Scully," he confirmed. "Your confidant, your best friend, your...soul mate?" He nodded. "Not to be corny or anything," she added, laughing through her tears. "Scully and I..." She patted his arm. "To borrow a phrase, you don't have to tell me."

"And what about you?" he asked. "I...I have my work," she concluded. "Not enough," he said bitterly. "Trust me on that one."

"I have my friends. Laurel...Claire...Emma." Mulder frowned, "You must surely have more than that, especially considering that over half those people are missing." She exhaled heavily. "More than what? That's the summation of my life. Save the fact that after Cat was...abducted, my parents made her in to the perfect child and me into the flawed one. If I got a B on my report card, Cat would've gotten an A. Odd that they blamed me, because I never told anyone that I had been there too. I knew she was dead. I knew that there was no way that anyone would get her out of there alive. So I didn't tell." Mulder frowned angrily, "You *can't* blame yourself, Julie.

It's *not* your fault.

You were ten years old, for God's sake.

You could have done nothing else.

If you had gone back inside the house, you would never have made it out again.

You must realize, it's *not* your fault." As he responded to Julie, he realized how much the words that came out of mouth applied to *him.* 'Hello, my name is Fox Mulder, I am a pot, and yes, I'm VERY black.' "Pot and kettle type of thing, huh, Mulder?" she said, smiling. "Get out of my head!" he shouted. They laughed. "Wanna go back? It's only one-thirty."

"Man, Mulder. You catch onto this college thing really fast. But we have a seven-thirty tomorrow." They walked through the cold, dark night back to Earhart. Mulder and Julie received several odd looks from passers-by, as well as the night checker in Earhart. Walking into the elevator lobby, they passed another couple. For the first time, Mulder and Julie noticed that they were standing *very* close together. The other girl in the elevator smiled at her. As Mulder and Julie got off at the sixth floor, the girl whispered to her, "Nice job!"

Earhart Hall Room 671 Dec. 11, 1998
5:30 AM EST

"Hey, Mulder. You awake?" Julie said groggily to the form lying on the opposite bed. He groaned. "These beds are too damn *short*!"

"Yeah, I know. They're too short for me, even." He stretched. "I can't believe we talked all night. Uh, Julie?"

"Huh?" she said sleepily. She had *almost* fallen back to sleep. Damn him. "I uh...I have to pee." Even though the room was dark, Julie sensed Mulder was blushing. She groaned inwardly. "Fine. It's across the hall." Mulder began to object, but by that point, nature was *really* calling him. So, without further ado, he jumped out of bed and flew across the cold hallway. In the stall, Mulder felt *much* better. He cocked his head to one side. Gosh, it sure was quiet around here at 5:30. He doubted that anyone was up. Except for the two psychos on the other side of the bathroom. One seemed to be brushing her teeth and the other sounded as if she had just gotten out of the shower. 'Oh well,' he thought. 'I'll just slip past them. After all, I *am* an FBI agent.' On the other side of the bathroom, Scully wiped her hair with her towel.

She could hear Laura brushing her teeth, but other than that she could hear no other sounds either in the restroom or in the hallway.

Wrapping herself in the towel, she stepped outside the shower alcove...and rammed into another body.

She fell backwards from the impact, her eyes refusing to focus. "Shit," swore a male voice...an oddly *familiar* voice. "MULDER?!" she screamed. In the room across the hall, Julie sat straight up, realizing what she had just done, "Oh SHIT!" She sprung out of bed, repeating the words like a mantra. In the bathroom, Mulder smiled sheepishly, "Uh, hi, Scully.

Morning?" Scully stood up, her eyes sparking with an inner fire, "What the *hell* are you doing here at 5:30 in the morning?!"

Mulder could see past Scully into the next section of the bathroom.

He saw Laura turn around, frozen, her toothbrush dangling from her mouth as she stared at them. "What the.." she mumbled.

Scully glared at Mulder, her eyes piercing his head, "Explain yourself, Mulder.

Why are you here?" her voice rung dangerously in the mostly empty bathroom. Julie ran into the bathroom at that moment, skidding to a halt as she spotted the scene before her.

Mulder looked at Julie, the only words that he could form, poured out of his mouth, "Julie, I didn't know you were up yet."

"A *college* girl, Mulder?!" she said, stalking out. Laura followed her, glaring at both Mulder and Julie.

"Whoops," Julie said nonchalantly. "I think we're in a heap o' trouble, boy." Laura growled at Julie as she came back into the bathroom to retrieve her toothbrush, "I hope that you two had a good time, for all the trouble that it's caused." Laura's

glare could stop a clock. "We didn't *do* anything," Julie said, more to herself than Mulder or Laurel. "You didn't *do* anything?!" Laura fumed, "Then why the *hell* are you wearing the same clothes that you wore yesterday?!" Julie held up her hand. "Fine. There's really no point in debating this. I'll talk to you later." She turned her back to Laurel, grabbing Mulder's hand and dragging him along with her. Laura made an obscene gesture towards Julie's back as they left.

She followed shortly afterwards, almost running back to her room as she recalled the stricken look on Scully's face.

Earhart Hall Room 661 Dec. 11, 1998
5:45AM EST

Laura opened the door quietly, her eyes worried as she entered the room, "Dana?

Are you ok?" she asked. The only response that she heard was a stifled sob from the other side of the room.

Laura approached the figure slowly, almost *feeling* the waves of sorrow and self pity that wracked the small agent, "Dana?" Laura said again as she knelt beside the bed. "I'm *fine* Laura," Scully said slowly, repeating the words beneath her breath as she struggled to regain control of her rampant emotions. "You're *not* fine, Dana.

So talk." Laura said, plopping down on the floor. "A college girl?!

How *could* he do something like that?!" All of Scully's fury came pouring out of her as she ranted, standing, now clad in a bathrobe, and moving restlessly across the room. "I don't think that anything happened," Laura said quietly, her anger towards Julie dying slowly. "How could you *say* that?!

You saw him!

He was in a *girl's* dorm at 5:30 in the morning!

What other explanation could there be?"

"They *could* have just talked," Laura responded. Scully scoffed, "So *that's* what they're calling it these days."

"Scully, sit down." Laura said, following Scully's pacing across the floor.

Scully glared at Laura as she sat on the opposite bed, her feet barely touching the floor, "I can't believe that he did that.

With *Julie.*" her voice trailed off as she closed her eyes in misery. "Dana, listen.

I've known Julie for about four years now.

I seriously doubt that she'd actually *do* anything with your partner," Laura said, her anger towards Julie ebbing. "Yeah, right," Scully mumbled, not looking at Laura. "Especially since it's obvious that you two are...." Laura's voice trailed off as she realized what she was saying, 'Great, Laura, just great.

Now, you're gonna drive her away...' "What?" Dana asked, her eyes flashing in the light. "Attached to one another," she concluded, part of her wanted to crawl underneath the bed and hide. Scully huffed, refusing to answer Laura's insightful comment.

She crossed her arms, hugging herself, as she said softly, "Its happening again.

I thought that it wouldn't, that it *couldn't.* But I was wrong."

"Wrong about what, Dana?" Laura asked, worried. "I was a Navy brat.

I'd move every one to two years, never staying in the same place, and never having any good friends, *really* good friends, until I went to college. Josh Tyler was a blessing.

He became my best friend my first few years in college.

We were inseparable, and really close.

It was the first time that I had really found a *true* friend, or so I thought.

And then, Junior year, I went to see him in his room.

When he answered the door, he was dressed only in his boxers.

Behind him, I...I heard a female voice calling his name.

I left then, refusing to return to talk to him.

The last that I heard, he had become an IRS Agent," she said softly, "The next time that I found a good friend, a friend that, in many ways, was far closer to me than Josh could ever be, was Mulder."

'Was, she said *was*!' Laura rubbed her hand across her eyes, "Dana, you could never lose Mulder.

Why are you talking as if you have?"

"I have lost him, damnit!

He.." Scully's voice trailed off helplessly. "Scully, you can't lose him.

Only once in a lifetime we find the one that completes our half, the one that we could never lose...unless we push them away.

God, Dana, can't you see what you're doing to yourself?

Can't you even see *why* this is upsetting you so much?

I know plenty of people that would be extremely envious of your relationship with your partner.

Hell, *I'm* one of them.

You two appear to communicate with your eyes, a strange bond that lets you into each other's minds with little to no effort.

He touches you on your back, and that single gesture is far more intimate than any other possible move. It really doesn't matter if he *did* sleep with Julie.

Don't you see what you two have?

It's far beyond mere partnership, beyond friendship, and even farther beyond lovers.

*That's* why you could never lose him.

He strikes me as one who never had any type of relationship that even shadows that which you have now.

He would never want to lose you to anything that he might have done," Laura said. "You don't understand." Scully said through clenched teeth, her mind refusing to let Laura's words affect her. "I *do* Scully.

Perhaps not completely about your relationship, but do *you* completely understand it?" Scully shook her head as Laura continued, "I was born in Texas, but I kept moving, sometimes even less than one year after we had been in one location.

We weren't a military family, but even so the first time that we moved was when I was two weeks old.

The longest that I spent in any one location was in Mexico, and that was for five years.

I haven't lived in the States for the past 11 years, and even before that, we were moving around a great deal between Texas and Colorado.

Never in one spot for very long, it wrecked havoc on any personal relationships that I had formed.

Now that I think about it, I never really had any 'real' friends until I got to the Philippines and here.

In fact, when I was in Mexico, those that I called 'friends' were little more than a group of people that would take advantage of me.

In fact, the one that I had labeled my 'best' friend was a bully who would beat me up at the drop of a feather.

Even in Korea, things got a little bit better, but I still didn't have any good friends.

But when I got to the Philippines, I found a group of friends that were true ones, however that was later on in my life at the School, my Senior year.

I still keep in contact with them, but it's not the same."

"Then, I came here.

I found Julie, Claire, Emma, and Noelle.

And I know that if anything ever happened to any of them, I'd walk to the ends of the earth and back if it would make it better. And our bond isn't even as strong as your's with Mulder. Fight for him, Scully.

No, not with your fists, but fight with your heart.

Defend what you two have.

*Talk* to him.

If you do that, you'll come out far stronger than you ever were before." Laura said forcefully. Scully shook her head, her mind filled with too much information, "I'll be right back, Laura.

I need...I need to think about this."

"Alright, Dana, but remember, if you want to talk.

I'm here for you." Laura said, even though she knew that she could never be as helpful as that which Dana's heart desired, though she refused to acknowledge it. Scully left the room, quietly, leaving Laura in the darkness to think.

'God, I miss Claire and Emma....'

---15 Minutes Later--

Scully returned to the room, rubbing her wrist, but looking calmer.

She nodded at Laura as she grabbed her brush, telling her with her eyes that she was better. Laura smiled at the short agent, attempting to lighten the mood in the room, "Looking forward to your first day of classes?"

"Not really," mumbled Scully as she brushed her hair, "Is there anything specific that I should know about your classes?

Any oddities?"

"You mean besides the fact that we're going to be having an undercover FBI Agent attending the class?" Laura returned, pulling on her shoes. Scully decided to not acknowledge Laura's comment with a retort.

"In my Senior Project class, aptly entitled AAE 442-Senior Design, I keep getting the impression that someone's watching me.

You know, that feeling that the hairs on the back of your neck are raising?" Scully nodded for Laura to continue, "Anyway, that's the only really odd thing that I can think of right now, unless of course you'd want to think that my Physics Professor is an alien.

Which is probably *very* likely."

"I feel sorry for the Reticulans, then," Scully replied wryly, before realizing what she had just said, "My God, I'm beginning to sound like Mulder." 'Mulder, I can't lose you,' she thought. "Is that a bad thing, Dana?"

"It might be..."

"Well, if it makes you feel better, I sometimes sound like Julie.

Which *is* a fate worse than death," Laura grinned evilly as she grabbed her book bag, hoping that she could smooth the emotions between her old friend and her new one as she caught a faint flash in Scully's eyes at the mention of Julie's name. Scully laughed as she followed Laura out the door.

Purdue University
Grissom Hall, Room 180
AAE 442-Senior Design Class
Dec. 11, 1998
12:30PM EST

"..Therefore we join the foil to the frame, sealing it with the liquid polymer.

Remember, the frame must be light enough to decrease the impact of gravity..." the Professor droned, motioning towards the pieces of the plane assembly as he spoke.

Laura stifled another yawn as she glanced at her 'partner' for the project. Scully frowned at the professor, feeling sorry for her 'fellow' students.

She whispered to Laura, "Is he always like this?"

"Yeah, he loses most of the class in the first two minutes of lecture," Laura replied softly. Scully shook her head, and continued to pretend that she was paying attention.

Beside her, Laura shuddered, feeling the hairs on the back of her neck prickle.

She was being watched again.

However, when she turned around, she could find no guilty faces, only sleeping ones.

She shrugged and returned to watching the professor, unknowing that the Vanisher was in the room with her. Ed looked at the two women five rows ahead of him, envying the way the redhead would lean over to whisper to Laura.

'Why couldn't I take the place of that redhead, sit next to her, impress her with my 'manly' charms.

But then again, what charms do I have?'

As he thought about his lack of charms, his body stiffened under an unknown onslaught of power, and once again he was no longer alone in his mind.

He/They smiled, a predatory expression, as he/they regarded the two women.

'I don't know why my spell did not work on you, Ms. Brown.

But I do know that you will never see the light of day again.

Do you hear me Ed?

For your mistakes, I will punish *her*.'

Locked inside a prison of his own making, Ed was forced to watch helplessly as *It* made plans to kill Laura.

He groaned silently, and fell asleep under another spell of It's making.

Purdue University Physics Room 112
Astrophysics and Celestial Mechanics Lecture
Dec. 11, 1998
12:30PM EST

"I never knew that anyone could be that boring," said Scully as she and Laura entered their next class. Laura grinned, "Wait until you see Professor Smith." Scully frowned apprehensively as she sat down next to Laura, pulling out her books.

--10 Minutes Later--

"How do you know that the spectrums of these stars indicate the presence of extraterrestrial life, Professor?" Scully asked again, glad to finally be in a class that she understood. Professor Smith pushed his glasses up his nose, squinting at the fiery-haired agent, "If you look at the spectral lines, you can see clear patterns.

In fact, if you look closely...."

"Those only represent elements, Professor, *not* the existence of extraterrestrials," retorted Scully. Laura sighed, and attempted to scoot lower in her chair, the eyes of the entire class were on her 'roommate' and on the professor as they argued.

When she finally had enough, Laura interrupted Scully, "The existence of extraterrestrials can be neither proven, nor disproven, Dana.

You can neither deny, nor accept that either they exist or they don't.

You may state that there is no 'hard' evidence of their existence.

But I would like to remind you; NASA has found a great deal of information about other worlds both in our solar system, and beyond.

Who's to say that there isn't a life form, a true alien, living in our solar system, or nearby us?

Solar spectrums *may* have a signal in them, Professor, however they also might not. There is no true scientific proof that the spectrum yields a message.

Keep looking, but don't accept what you see in them as the absolute truth.

The truth may be out there, in the spectrum, but the lies, what you see in them, are only in our minds," she concluded, folding her arms across her torso. Scully and the Professor stared at Laura as she stopped speaking, making Laura wish that she could disappear, 'No, not disappear, just become invisible,' she corrected herself as the class was dismissed. "Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials, Laura?" Scully asked as they walked out of the room. "I do.

I'm standing next to one," Laura returned, narrowly avoiding Scully's swat. "Smart aleck," Scully said. This time, Laura didn't avoid Scully's swat.

Earhart Hall Purdue University Cafeteria
Amelia's Garden
Dec. 11, 1998
1:00PM EST

Laura took a large bite out of her sandwich, watching Scully attack a salad across from her.

They had spoken again about Mulder, as well as about the classes that they had attended.

However, the two women subconsciously avoided any mention of Julie, knowing instinctively that the other would not wish to speak of her.

As Laura looked up again, Scully was frozen, her fork dangling uselessly in one hand as she stared at the door.

Laura turned around, following her gaze as she spotted Mulder, a similar expression on his face as well as a great deal of guilt.

The moment was frozen in time, only broken by Julie's appearance from behind Mulder.

Scully's eyes dropped from Mulder's, her fork resuming its trek to her mouth as she avoided contact with Julie.

Laura spotted the disappointment in Mulder's features as he said something to Julie, almost at the same time that she noticed that they were standing *very* close.

'Oh God, Julie, don't you know what this is doing to Dana?' Laura thought, glancing back at the red haired woman who picked at her salad.

She growled low in her throat, standing up as she grabbed her dessert ticket, "I'll be right back, Dana."

Scully watched Laura leave, wishing that she could have stayed at the table, if only to keep her from running to Mulder to ask for his forgiveness, 'Why would *you* apologize, Dana?

*He* was the one that betrayed you.


Where'd that come from?' Laura left the distraught Scully, and headed over to where Julie and Mulder were standing.

As she stopped in front of them, Mulder's head swiveled from watching Scully to look at her, "I don't know if she wants either of you to sit next to her," she said quietly.

A flicker of hurt crossed Mulder's face as he looked up to watch Scully again.

"Julie, can I talk to you?" Julie nodded as she and Laura separated themselves from Mulder.

Laura sighed as she brushed a strand of light brown hair from her forehead, "Julie, I know for a fact that she can't talk to you right now.

She couldn't handle it right now."

"I understand. I don't think it's particularly fair or accurate, but...I understand." 'Now,' she added to herself. "Do you have *any* idea what this is doing to her, Julie?

So much pain inside her, and yet she's so strong that she refuses to release any of it, allowing it to build up to megalithic proportions. Seeing you and Mulder this morning," Laura shook her head, fighting to get the words out, "She's hurting."

"Jesus, Laura!" she spat out. "You don't understand *any* of this! He's...he's not like that."

"Are you certain that you're not trying to protect Mulder?" Laura shot back. "Oh, and I'm sure you have completely clear motives on this one, Laura? Don't even try to deny that you're not trying to protect Scully."

"Of course I'm trying to protect her, as I would protect you or any of my other friends.

I don't want to see her hurt so much..."

"What about me and Mulder?" she mumbled to herself. Then aloud, she retorted, "Well, do what you have to do, I guess." She turned away with an angry sigh, "I'm going back to talk to her.

I think that you and Mulder should just go.

At least for now." Julie's jaw tightened.

Laura left Julie standing by the door, heading back towards Scully, when Mulder's hand gripped her arm.

She turned towards him, and upon seeing the Scully's pain reflected in his eyes, her angry retort died unsaid.

"How is she?" he demanded. "She's fine.

As fine as she could be when something like this happens."

"I've got to talk to her," he said softly. "Yes.

You do," Laura responded, "Now, will you let me go?" He shot her a look as he let go of her arm, "I'm going to talk to her now."

"Fine," she said, crossing her arms. Mulder glared at Laura before going to Scully's table, his heart in his hands.

As he pulled out a chair, Scully refused to look at him, defying her pain, "Hey Scully."

"Mulder," the one word conveyed more pain and sorrow than any rant or speech that she could make.

Mulder collapsed to the back of his chair, wishing that he had left Earhart last night. "Scully, I...I'm sorry," he said, staring at his hands. Dana lifted her eyes, startled.

He continued, "I should never have stayed in Julie's room.

We had talked most of the night.

Nothing happened." Scully closed her eyes, "Mulder..."

"I would *never* do anything to hurt you, Scully.

You should know that."

"I do...but."


I'm hurt Scully," he said. Her eyes sparked with her Irish ire, "*You're* hurt?!

Do you have any idea...no of course you don't.

Dammit Mulder!" she concluded, frustrated. His eyes flashed, "I *do* know what it's like, Scully.

Two words for you...Ed Jerse," with those words, he stood and walked away, leaving Scully's tear-streaked face staring at his empty chair.

Both Julie and Mulder moved into the lunch line. After getting what *passed* for food from the hairnetted cafeteria workers, Mulder and Julie took their trays into the dining room. Unfortunately, the only seats open were directly within the sight of Scully and Laurel. Julie sat with her back to Scully's and slid her tray onto the table. Mulder grabbed the seat across from her. They ate in silence, his eyes never wandering from the back of Scully's head. "You know, you can't *will* her to turn around and talk to you," Julie whispered. Mulder still stared. "I know that," he growled. "But it doesn't hurt to try."

"Always been my philosophy." Julie threw her fork down. "I can't eat at a time like this!" she announced decisively.

"Then can I have your food?" he asked, having finished his double portion of the chicken of the day long ago.

She shoved her plate at him, "Sure.

Why not? I'm kinda curious if a triple dose will kill you immediately.

The theory is that the horrible food builds up in your bloodstream over time, so you don't notice that the food gets worse as the semester progresses." As an aside, she added, "As if it were possible, that is." Mulder looked up from the empty plate, "Where to now?"

"That's grammatically incorrect," she muttered under her breath, "Now we go to the hospital." He made a face, "And suddenly it becomes a day like any other day," he quipped, "Why are *we* going to the hospital?

You sick or something?"

"No, I have to do rounds today.

Psych 522-Pediatrics for the Clinical Psychologist."

"Hey, that I can do.

Well, what are we waiting for?" he asked, grabbing his now full tray and sliding her empty one underneath it. "Okay, okay.

But I'm driving."

"Like hell you are."

She crossed her arms, smiled slowly, and narrowed her eyes, "Race ya."

Laughing, the two barreled through the cafeteria, running past Scully and Laurel.

'Oh my god, I've lost him.

And it's all my fault,' she lost control of her emotions, her tears pouring down her face as she watched Mulder and Julie leave apparently oblivious to her pain.

Standing on the other side of the room, Laura's

heart ached for the two agents, wishing that they would acknowledge that which she had seen in them.

She frowned as Julie, followed closely by Mulder, left the cafeteria, but her eyes stayed on Scully.

Scully wiped her eyes angrily as Laura approached, offering a weak smile, as she sat down in front of her, "I lost him," she said in a lost voice.

Laura reached out a hand, resting it on Scully's, "No, you haven't.

You're both angry, and sad.

Once you calm down, controlling these emotions, you'll be fine.

You both will."

"How do you know?"

"I'm a hopeless romantic," Laura replied with a low chuckle, "Stories should always have happy endings, even in real life."

"Mulder and I never have happy endings.

Weird ones, yes.

Happy, no." responded Scully bitterly.

"There's always the possibility, Dana.

All you have to do is to believe."

Earhart Hall Purdue University
Room 661
Dec. 11, 1998
11:21PM EST

Dana couldn't sleep.

She had been tossing fitfully, he mind refusing to quiet its rampage. 'Mulder,' she thought, her mind creating a vivid image of him, 'Oh God, what have I done?

I never told him and now...I have lost him. But I want him back,' remembering Laura's words at dinner, she concluded out loud, "I want to believe."

Strangely, the words seemed to calm her.

She whispered them quietly to herself like a mantra until she fell asleep.

But her dreams were haunted by images of Julie in Mulder's arms, the two of them smiling, laughing.

The same way they used to.

Scully tried to make the dreams turn for the better, but just as they started to improve, she woke up.

Something was not right. She looked about the pitch-black room, trying to figure out exactly what it was that made her armhairs stand on end.

Suddenly, she heard a noise from the other side of the room.

"No..." Laura muttered.

"Get away from me!"

Scully reached for her gun, listening hard for the intruder and trying to locate him.

"Get away!" Laura gritted through her teeth. She mumbled something about half-men, half-beasts. Scully put her fun away and turned on the small lamp next to her desk.

"Laura?" she queried.

"Get away!" Laura screamed. Scully darted across the room. Just as she reached her hand out to wake her nightmare-wracked friend, a strange force seemed to push her backward onto her bed.

Scully examined her hands as if they were foreign objects. What had just happened? Was it possible that Laura's dream induced some kind of telekinetic powers? But telekinesis didn't exist...did it? She looked up, searching for answers on the other side of the room. She gasped as she observed a strange glow hovering over Laura's bed. The glow was the brightest light in the room, even brighter than the desk lamp. Scully squinted, making out the shape of the glowing object. It was the dream catcher Laura had prominently displayed over her bed! The first time she and Mulder had seen it, she made some kind of crack about even the highly educated having fetishes. Of course, that drew a quick double entendre from her partner, so the incident was quickly forgotten. But here it was again... Scully jumped as the phone rang.

"Scully, it's me," Mulder said. The panic in his voice was evident. "Okay, don't freak out." Scully shuddered. Nothing good would *ever* follow that phrase. "Julie and I were talking in my room and she fell asleep."

"So?" Scully said testily.

"Well, a few minutes ago, she started screaming about half-men--"

"Half-beasts?" Scully finished.

"Yeah. Is this some kind of organic thing? I know she drinks a lot of tea, but could there possibly be a hallucinogen in her Earl Grey?"

Scully rolled her eyes. "Mulder, listen to me. Did you try to wake her?"

"Yeah! And some kind of...*force* threw me across the room!" he said angrily.

"Wait a minute. It *threw* you?"

"Did I stutter? I reached out to wake her, and *it* threw me across the room."

Scully sighed, trying to think of what to do next. "This should end soon. If it's the same as the last dream Laura and Julie had together, they should just wake up. Only this time, neither one of them will wake up in the Filipino Student Center. We *will* get to the bottom of this, Mulder. Good night."

Cary Quad Hallway
outside Room 220
Dec 11, 1998
11:30 PM EST

Mulder paced the hall outside his room, looking in on Julie every six seconds. Her screaming had stopped but she was still asleep and could not be awakened. 'At least this time I wasn't thrown across the room,' he mused. A few rooms down, he spied smoke pouring out from under the door. He knocked.

"Hey, you okay in here?" The door swung open silently. The room was dark, illuminated only by a circle of candles arranged on the floor. Around the candles were the telltale signs of witchcraft: Burning sage, hemlock, a golden knife, and an elaborate vessel for treasured objects. The back of the room held an open cabinet with a shrine-like quality to it. Mulder strained to see the contents of the cabinet. Inside were pictures of all the girls who had disappeared...Emma, Claire, the two girls from the seventh floor... The most prominent feature, however, was the enlarged photograph of Laura pinned to the back of the armoire. The photo's face glowed spookily from the red light of the candles.

Mulder shuddered and took one step back. Only then did he realize that there was someone else in the room. Someone--or *something.* Up until that point, the form had been nebulous. Suddenly, the outline grew clearer, and at first, it had the shape of a young man. The form shifted and changed as if morphing in some B-grade horror movie. The shape solidified into a grotesque devil-like creature, complete with horns and a horrifying face. Mulder stepped into the hallway. "You think that you can look in the face of pure evil, and you find yourself paralyzed by it."

He stumbled back into his room. "Julie!" he shouted. She stirred and looked up.

"Yes?" she mumbled calmly. Without warning, he picked her up. "Okay, this is irregular." Mulder almost worried that she was in shock until he remembered that she was always this nonplussed.

"We're going to Earhart. Is there a back way out of this place?" He didn't wait for her to finish. He sprang out in the hallway with her still in his arms and ran down the stairs. "Shouldn't you lock the door?" she asked. "Julie, right now, that's the least of our worries." He threw her in the car, none-too-gently, and made it to Earhart in record time.

Mulder hopped out of the car and ran over to the passenger's side, throwing the door open. "I can walk by myself, thank you," Julie said irritably.

"Fine," he said, running up the stairs that led to the west side. "Hey, Mulder, the night check girl isn't..." Sleepy realization dawned on her. "Oh." He bypassed the elevators in favor of the stairs and sprinted up them.

"What, do you have a death wish?" Julie said, scampering up behind him. "On the contrary." They reached the sixth floor and sprinted to room 661. Mulder pounded on the door.

"Just a bloody second!" Laura's voice called. She threw the door open.

"Got an explanation yet, Scully?" Mulder gritted. " 'Cause I've got a pretty good one for you." He explained his experience outside room 220.

"Witchcraft?" Scully asked, her blue eyes wide.

Julie and Mulder rolled their eyes. "You can't even prove that that exists," Mulder said.

"Then what is it? Telekinesis?" Laura suggested.

"What I wouldn't give for some sunflower seeds," Scully muttered, pacing.

Mulder opened and closed his mouth like a codfish. "Scully, did you just say 'sunflower seeds'?"

She looked at him, confused. Then realization dawned in her eyes. "And Laura!" she said excitedly. "You said 'Bloody' when you opened the door!"

Laura looked at Julie. "Is it possible?" Laura said.

"Possible, but highly improbable," Julie conceded. Scully smacked herself on the forehead. "That proves it! Whatever...or whoever made Emma and Claire disappear made us all switch personalities!"

"But why did it happen like this?" Mulder asked. "Why did Scully and I switch with each other..."

"And Laura and I switch with each other..." Julie added. "Instead of Julie and I switching and you and Laura switching?" Mulder added.

Scully and Laura looked at each other. "Could you really tell the difference if it happened like that?" they asked.

"So let me get this straight," Julie said sarcastically. "You expect us to believe that the 'believers,' namely, me and Mulder, switched personalities with the 'skeptics.' You and Scully."

Laura shrugged. "Why not?"

Mulder sighed. "But, even if this *did* happen, how do we make it...un-happen?"

"You know, we've been like this for a while now. Remember our conversation on the way to the hotel, Mulder?" He nodded resolutely. "We have to reverse the spell!" Laura said excitedly. Her excitement faded, however. "Trouble is, I don't know how to do that."

She looked at Scully. "Not a clue," she responded. The four looked at each other. "Mulder..." Scully said in her "I'm plotting something" tone.

At the same time, Laura said, "Julie..."

"I hate that tone," Julie said, looking at Mulder. "I can do it. Can you?" she asked. "Yes," he sighed resolutely. "But I'll need all of you to help." Laura and Scully grinned.

Cary Quad Room 218
Dec 13, 1998
11:50 PM EST

"Mulder, how on earth did you get that guy to lend us his room?" Scully asked.

Mulder grinned. "I told him you thought he was hot." Scully shot him A Look.

From across the room, Laura observed them. It was amazing how well they worked together despite all the jumbled feelings between them. But she knew almost instinctively that their flirting belied other, more complicated feelings. Feelings that were too difficult for them to deal with, despite the fact that it was obvious that they felt the same way about each other. She sighed heavily.

Julie sprung up from arranging the candles and other artifacts on the floor. "All done, although I don't know what good it will do." Mulder and Scully joined them.

Mulder ticked off a list on his fingers. "Angelica. St. John's Wort. Dragon's Blood. Garlic. Mandrake Roots. Rosemary. Wolfbane. Birch. Matches from a white box. Yellow, blue, black, and white candles. Pentacle. Is everyone dressed in red?" he asked without looking up.

"Yes, "Julie responded. "I feel like a jelly bean."

Mulder sighed. "Fine. It's almost midnight."

Julie nodded. "The candles are in the right places: Black to the North, to bind evil... White to the West for protection, Blue to the East for Justice and Yellow to the South to make this a safe place."

"And I know what I'm supposed to say," Laura added.

"Fine. It's almost time." Mulder sat down at the West and Julie smiled. At the place of protection, Julie noted. Rather appropriate.

Julie sat at the East, which Mulder thought was also appropriate. Justice. That was all Julie really wanted, really. Scully and Laura took the two remaining spaces at the South and West, respectively.

Laura's watch beeped, signaling the stroke of midnight. Julie passed the matches to Mulder, who lit the North candle, then passed the matches to Julie until all the candles were lit in a clockwise manner.

"Guardians of the watchtower of the North, I invoke thee," Mulder chanted.

"Guardians of the watchtower of the East, I invoke thee," Julie said.

"Guardians of the watchtower of the South, I invoke thee," Scully said.

"Guardians of the watchtower of the West, I invoke thee," Laura said.

"Ah Kin, I invoke thee. Ah Kin, I invoke thee. Ah Kin, I invoke thee," Mulder repeated. "Ah Kin, protector of evil that comes in the darkness, I invoke thee." He repeated the phrase three times.

"Awake, O north wind; and come thou south, blow upon my garden, that the spice thereof may flow out." Laura repeated.

At the same time, each of the four grabbed two packages of roots and lit it with the white matches. The scents of the herbs filled the air.

"Ah Kin, I invoke thee," they said together. Then, as one, "By the power of three times three, as I will it, so shall it be." All four candles were extinguished and the room was thrown into darkness.

"Did it work?" Laura finally said.

"I don't know," Mulder responded. "Scully, you want any sunflower seeds?"

"Nope. You?"


Julie got up and flipped on the light. "It worked," she announced happily.

"Did it?" Laura asked quietly, her face deadpan as the others stared at her half in fear, "Then why is it that I have the firmest belief in the existence of....government conspiracies?

The tension broke as they laughed.

5 Days Later
Dana Scully's Apartment
Annapolis, MD
9:00PM EST

After pacing the room and solidifying her thoughts, Scully grabbed another mug of coffee and continued her report:

"The events that I witnessed while undercover at Purdue University can best be explained by the usage of exotic herbs and vapors applied liberally to the rooms of the victims, undertaken by person or persons unknown.

It might also be remembered that through the drug-induced state of both myself and my partner, our observations may have been impaired.

From my personal observation, the existence of paranormal activities as performed by the Vanisher can neither be confirmed nor denied.

Two hours after the drugs wore off, Ed Glover lapsed into a coma and died a few hours later.

After performing the autopsy, no visible cause of death was found.

His death remains unexplained.

It is my conclusion that Ed Glover, motivated by his obsession with the victims and his last target, poisoned the women with some of the herbs that he kept in his room and upon being confronted, poisoned himself.

The two women affected in this case, Julie Solomon and Laura Beckett have seemingly no effects from their victimization at the hands of Ed Glover.

Their physical health remains unaffected, while their emotional and mental health remains uncertain pending future clinical re-examination.

Both women have agreed to never speak of this case but will continue to in their cooperation in future investigations regarding this subject matter.

Initial observations showed that the girls who had been abducted were clinically dead.

However, while in the morgue of the Clinical Investigative Unit in Quantico both Emma Duncan and Claire Holliwell regained minimal biological functions.

As to the disappearance of the victims from their rooms and their reappearance in foreign nations, it is my conclusion that their transportation was undertaken by an accomplice, or accomplices, unknown.

The time difference between their appearances and their last being seen at Purdue remains unexplained.

Two days ago, Assistant Director Skinner contacted my partner regarding two of the victims of the Vanisher.

Although unknown, Emma Duncan and Claire Holliwell may regain consciousness from deep comas. Their bodies remain in the Clinical Investigative Unit at the FBI labs in Quantico, Virginia.

Faint vital signs can be detected, although both women remain on complete life support.

Strangely, their bodies had lapsed into a state of suspended animation, almost as if they had been exposed to liquid nitrogen.

Due to the fact that the primary witnesses are dead or comatose and combined with the use of drugs, this case lacks solid and credible evidence, thus remaining open.

Elliot Hall of Music Purdue University
May 8, 1999
Graduation Ceremony--Class of '99

"So, Julie, how's it feel to be a liberal arts graduate?" Laura asked.

"Can you say, 'You want fries with that?'" Perry asked.

Julie took a sip of her iced tea, "At least my roommate didn't try to kill anyone."

Perry looked wounded, "Let's not go there," he said.

"Are these seats taken?" asked a familiar voice.

Julie smiled without turning around.

"Hello, Agent Mulder. Aren't you going to ask us?"

"Ask you what?"

"What nice girls like us are doing at a University like this?"

"Oh, I was going to leave that for all the warlock-wannabes out there."

The two agents sat down at the table.

"I still can't believe that it was only what...3-4 months ago that we first met?" Laura said as she sipped her glass of soda.

Scully smiled wryly, "And it seems like only yesterday."

"Oh please," Julie said.

"Scully, wanna drink?" Mulder asked.

"Sure, and make it something strong."

"I like a woman with spunk," Mulder responded, "Iced tea it is...with lots of sugar."

"Sure. Fine. Whatever."

Julie took Mulder to the open bar. "So, how are...things?" she asked.

He looked at her curiously. "Which *things* do you want to know about?"

"Whatever you want to talk about," she responded quickly.

"Julie, that was scary-fast shrink mode. You know that, don't you?"

She laughed. "Well..." she trailed off apologetically, "I'm concerned."

He hugged her. "Nice to know that *someone* is."

"Am I to take it that you two are still having...problems?"

"*Problems*? *Us?*" he asked in a mock-offended tone.

"Never!" she said, mimicking his voice.

"So what do you want to hear about?"

"How you are... You. Scully. You... Scully."


She raised her eyebrows. "Like I haven't heard *that* one before."

"Well, Julie, that's just it. We're always fine. Or at least *working* at being fine. It's like that poster on your wall."

"Which poster?"

"The one on the far left, next to the poster of Ireland. 'My life is a work in progress.' "

"How do you remember exactly where all my posters are?" she asked, already knowing the answer.

"Eidetic memory," they said together. They were still laughing as they neared the table.

"So, Dana, how are you doing?" Laura asked as the others left the table.

"Well, as that poster in Julie's room says, 'My life is a work in progress.'"

Laura nodded in understanding, "Isn't it always that way?"

"Yeah," she responded, "So, where're you going for your degree?"

"John's Hopkins University.

I'm getting a masters in Astrophysics."

"So now we're rivals," Scully said. "Huh?" Laura said, confused.

"I graduated from Maryland..."


Scully stuck out her tongue at Laurel.

Mulder and Julie returned to the table with the drinks and sat down.

Mulder looked at each of the graduates, "So, now that you've graduated, what are you doing now?"

"I always wanted to go to Disneyland," Laura quipped.

"Funny, Laura. Really funny."

"And you, Julie? Where to now?"

Julie resisted the urge to correct his grammar. "I, my friends, am off to a prosperous career in the mental health field. I'm going to grad school at the University of Virginia. I've heard that there's a lot of crazies in Washington D.C, and I want to be close to where the action is."

Mulder and Scully looked at each other fearfully.

"Lord help us all," Laura quipped. Julie stuck her tongue out at her.

"It's okay, Julie," Mulder said. "I, for one, know for a fact that there are a lot of crazies in Washington. As long as you don't mind working with hybrid aliens, vampires and werewolves. They seem to have a lot of issues?"

FIN .... For now, that is...Mwahahahahahaha.

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