After an hour or so, Melissa knocked on the door of the study to offer coffee or food. The two agents with him accepted. He decided to use the break as an excuse to check on her.
He was approaching her when they heard a disturbance in the entry. She stiffened and he automatically took her arm.
"Whatís the meaning of this? I want you out of this house." Mulder and Dana could hear his footsteps approaching. He entered the room like a small tornado and advanced on Mulder.
"Are you in charge here?"
"Yes sir. Special Agent Mulder." He held out his right hand to shake, his ID in the left, both were ignored. "I want you and your people out of this house." This was a man used to getting his own way.
"Iím sorry Mr. Winthrope, weíre investigating a kidnapping andĖ"
"Thereís been no kidnapping. Has a ransom demand been made?"
"No sir, not yet; however Ė "
"My son is just taking a few days off to himself."
"Excuse me, sir." Mulder countered, "Eyewitnesses saw your son forcibly removed from the sidewalk in front of his place of business and placed in a car. A small struggle ensued. That is included in our definition of kidnapping, which is Bureau jurisdiction."
The smaller manís eyes were snapping. He turned on Dana. "Did you call these people?"
"No sir, she did not." Mulder spoke before she could. "The police were alerted and they contacted the FBI." Dana chose to remain silent.
Now the older man seemed to realize his attitude and attempted to assume the persona of a politician. Thatís when Mulder realized how frightened the man was. "Agent Mulder, this has all been blown out of proportion. Iíve been in touch with my son and he is perfectly safe."
Danaís head came up but still she didnít speak. Mulder managed not to turn and look at her. "Thatís very good news sir; however, I would like to speak with Mr. Winthrope myself to ascertain that he is not under coercion." Damn, he wasnít usually this politically correct. Was he trying to impress her or just keep things from blowing apart?
"He is unable to speak with you at this time, but the next time he calls I assure you I will have him contact you directly. Would that be sufficient?"
"Iíd like to check with my superiors."
"Fine, fine. Why donít you do that." Mulder thought for a moment the man was going to rub his hands together. He sure was anxious to have everyone out of the house. He looked over at Dana who would not meet his eyes. "Go ahead and have your men pack up their equipment, Iíll talk to my friends at the Bureau and get this all cleared up." He moved past them now, back out into the hall. It would have been undignified to run, but he was moving as fast as possible.
Mulder turned toward Dana. "Do you believe him?" She shook her head but didnít speak. "Me either. Will you be all right?"
Before she had a chance to respond they heard the roar from the back of the house. "Whatís the meaning of this!"
"I think he saw the study." Mulder commented to Dana and was rewarded with a slight smile that quickly disappeared. They both headed toward the sound. The older Mr. Winthrope was nearly apoplectic.
"Why has my sonís office been violated?"
"As part of our kidnap investigation. We had to see if your son had any enemies; someone who might have had him abducted."
"I need to get in there." Mulder dutifully pulled the yellow tape from the door and opened the room for him. Mr. Winthrope Senior immediately headed for the desk. The sight of the open and empty safe underneath turned his face an unhealthy shade of gray. Dana took a step toward him but he waved her away.
"I need to make some phone calls. Privately." With those words Mulder and Dana were dismissed and he turned his back on them.
Mulder followed Dana from the room and she realized she was disappointed not to feel his fingers on her back. She gave herself a mental shake Ė stupid. But this man made her feel safe, safer anyway.
They headed for the kitchen where he brought the team up to speed and then called Skinner. He was unavailable, so he left a message and sat down to wait. Dana brought coffee over for the two of them and offered it to everyone. They couldnít talk here, so after a few minutes Dana excused herself to find her step-mother-in-law.
Mulderís phone rang as he was watching her walk from the room. "Mulder."
"Youíre to clear out of the Winthrope house Mulder. Apparently this isnít a kidnapping."
"Do you believe that sir?" There was a slight pause.
"Those are our orders and they come from above me. I want to see you in my office in an hour."
"Yes sir." Mulder stabbed the end button and pursed his lips. Interesting, damn interesting. Everything was packed and out of the house shortly. He couldnít find her to tell her goodbye and that worried him greatly. He didnít feel at all comfortable about leaving her here alone.
"Agent Mulder, come in." Skinner opened the office door and led him in. He entered and managed not to wave his hand in front of his face to move the cigarette smoke around. How did Skinner stand having that creep in his office?
"I donít believe Mr. Winthrope. He has not spoken with his son or he wouldnít have cut his trip short."
"Iím not going to call a former state senator a liar. He doesnít want us to handle this and he has the friends to make it happen. Also, he wants all evidence removed from the house returned. He was especially insistent on that point. What the hell did you remove?"
"Mr. Winthrope had a safe hidden under his desk. In it were identification documents for a Gary Harris; however the pictures were of our boy Stan."
Skinner looked at him for a moment. "He had another identity?"
"Fully documented. And I think his father knew or at least suspected. Thatís why he doesnít want us investigating. Itís not going to look good for the family. And when the IRS gets involved . . . " Skinner nodded, but they were out of game now.
Mulderís own personal investigation did not halt and the information three days later of a body discovered drew his attention. It was apparently a middle age man, white, but identification was going to be damn difficult.
He called the house; heíd been wanting to anyway, more than he wanted to admit to himself. He didnít recognize the voice of the person that answered, but his visualization of her brought up visions of East Germany. "Iíd like to speak with Mrs. Winthrope."
"Iím sorry. She is unavailable."
"Is she there?" The woman hadnít even bothered to ask who he was, she was unavailable to everyone? He could hear a disturbance in the background, people talking, was that her? Voices were raised, then suddenly she was on the phone.
"Dana, is that you?"
"Yes." There was a pause, "Is this . . .?" He heard the caution in her voice.
"Yes. Is there a chance I could speak with you?"
"Yes. I could meet you. Where would be convenient?" He mentioned a coffee shop and she agreed. "It may take a little while."
He was prepared to wait a lot longer than he actually had to. In fact he realized he was prepared to wait a very long time. He rose when he saw her enter, more pleased than he was willing to admit.
"Are you doing all right?" She shrugged. "When I got that woman on the phone . . . "
"My watchdog? My father-in-law decided that I was irresponsible and needed
"Are you kidding?" When had he taken hold of her hand?
"Not really. She appeared within an hour after you left and has been there ever since. Iím not allowed to receive phone calls and she listens in when I make them. Iím still on leave from the hospital. I got fed up today and rose up on my hind legs." She laughed but he caught the bitter tone. "She may have had me followed, so I probably shouldnít be here long. Was there anything specific you wanted?"
"I wanted to see you. But, yes there is something that has come to my attention regarding the investigation."
"Is anyone still looking for him? I mean, my father-in-law . . ."
"I didnít stop completely, just officially."
"And youíve found something?"
"I donít have good news Dana, but I do think I have news." He hesitated and realized that she was now squeezing his hand. He nodded, "A, uh, a body was discovered and I think maybe you should . . . "
"You want me to ID the body?"
"It wonít be easy." Now he wondered why he had thought to do this.
"Mulder, itís what I do, I am a pathologist."
"Yeah, but . . . This body has been mutilated, thatís why no ID has been done so far."
"The hands were removed and . . . the head. Thereís been no DNA work ordered because he might just be a John Doe, a street person."
"But you donít think so. I . . . I see. Iíd like to help you. Could we go now, before my leash is pulled?" He watched her straighten her spine and his admiration grew. He hadnít exactly asked an easy thing here.
They left her car and took his to the city morgue. She was actually more composed about this than he was. His credentials got them inside and now that he was on her turf, followed her in. She donned a gown, mask and gloves and after checking with the doctor in charge had the body brought out.
She had assumed a doctorís persona that he was unfamiliar with and it impressed him. He managed not to flinch when the body was exposed on the metal table. She took a deep breath and began her examination. She was quiet and he didnít want to disturb her concentration. This had to be taking more out of her than she was letting on Ė she had lived with the man for three years.
"Could you help me turn him?" He looked up startled but nodded and immediately put on his own rubber gloves. She examined his right shoulder carefully, then rolled him back to his original position.
"Itís him." She spoke quietly, matter-of-factly.
"How can you be sure?"
"His shoulder. Thereís an abrasion there that at first glance looks like the others but is actually more precise. Stan had a birthmark there and it has very carefully been excised from the skin. See, the skin has been cut here, not torn? You need to go ahead and order the DNA testing, but Iím convinced."
Mulder nodded, watching her. She tried to hide the fact that her hands were shaking as she removed her gloves after covering him. Mulder ordered the tests and took her arm to get her out of the place.
They drove in silence back to the coffee shop and she exited his car quickly to head for her own. "Dana, wait please. I donít think you should be driving yet. Letís get something to drink here and just give you a few more minutes."
"I should Ė "
"You donít need to face the watchdog right now. Is there anyone you can call?"
"Do you want me to talk about this?"
"Maybe to your sister. Iíd rather his father not know until we have confirmation. The body might vanish if that happens, before the tests can be run."
"Does that happen to you a lot?"
"Well, yeah. It happens on some things."
"Do you think you can find who did this? Have them punished?"
"The truth. No, whoever did this, if itís what I think it is, wonít ever be prosecuted. Maybe some day I can explain it to you, but not now. I wonít put you at risk."
"Are you at risk?" He enjoyed the note of compassion in her voice.
"I doubt it. Iím too high profile, but keeping anything I can from the people that do this, helps my investigation. This information will eventually be published in the media if I time it right."
"Let me know how I can help."
"Youíve already done more than you should have. If you need anything I want you to call me. If theyíre listening in you donít have to leave a message, just a couple of words. I know your voice." That startled her a little, why would he know her voice? She decided it was a compliment and smiled.
"I need to be getting home. Iím okay, really." She responded to the look in his eye. "Iíll be watching the papers for information." At that she rose, left him in the coffee shop and didnít look back.
He pushed his plate away finished and rose. "Is that all youíre going to eat?"
"Sorry, Iím not hungry. I think Iíll head on home."
"Youíre not going to stay? Whatís going on with you Mulder? You havenít been over in nearly a week and now youíre leaving?"
"Diana, Iím sorry. I have something on my mind and Ė "
"Why donít you let me help you get it off your mind?" Her hand was on his chest, caressing his nipple through his shirt.
"Diana." He caught her hand and removed it from his chest.
"I donít understand you Mulder. This isnít like you. Is there . . . are you seeing someone else?" Her voice sounded tight.
Mulder looked up startled. Someone else? He shook his head. That wasnít it. It wasnít, really. Why the hell had she said that? Her eyes had narrowed and she was watching him closely now. "No Iím not seeing anyone else. Look, Iíll see you tomorrow."
That had put an idea in his head. One he realized had been there for a while and he had been avoiding. Now it was there and unavoidable. He wasnít going to try calling again, but he knew where she worked.
It was early afternoon when she heard the tap on her door. "Come in." She didnít look up from her paperwork. It had to be Julie with even more work.
The masculine voice startled her. "Agent Mulder?"
"Yeah. Didnít mean to startle you. I didnít want to go through your watchdog again so I thought Iíd come by."
She was rapidly regaining her composure outwardly, but her heart was still racing at the sight of him. "The watchdog is gone. Well, actually I am. I moved out. I have an apartment in Alexandria now."
"You didnít want the house?"
"The estate will be tied up for years since the IRS knows about his Ďotherí interests now. Iím just glad we never mingled our finances. If I never see a dime itís fine with me." She smiled then and he couldnít help but respond.
"Do you have any news about the case?"
"What? Oh, no thatís not why Iím here."
"Oh, another body you need some help with?"
"Actually I came to see if we could have dinner together tonight."
"What?" That caught her completely off guard.
"Yeah, kind of a date if that doesnít offend you."
"Uh no, that . . . that would be very nice." The color was high on her face.
His smile grew wider. "Would seven be okay? I can pick you up or Ė"
"What if I meet you. Where are we going?"
He mentioned a very nice restaurant that she had been to many times with Stan. "Would . . ." She looked down, "Would you mind terribly if we went out for pizza instead?"
He put his hand over his heart, "Ah, my kind of woman." She actually laughed at that.
"Okay then, how about Tonyís at seven."
It was the beginning of a real relationship. He hadnít been out with anyone he cared about in ages and she, of course, hadnít been out at all. She was the most stimulating woman he had ever spent time with. She could hold her own in any debate and he did begin mentioning some of his Ďinterestsí to her. She was fascinated but didnít mind telling him how wrong she thought he was on some occasions.
Since the death of her husband, a whole new world had opened up to her, both pleasant and unpleasant. Her naivete about the way things really worked was shaken and she knew he had more experience in that area, but it didnít seem to destroy him as it had her in the beginning. He just seemed to accept that there was a dark underbelly on the world and he moved around the fringes of it, trying to expose it when it was possible.
She also knew she was more attracted to him physically than she had thought possible. He seemed to be attracted to her as well which puzzled her; she couldnít help but see the women that watched him when they did go out together. The women in her own office positively drooled over him if he stopped by. He could have any woman he wanted, undoubtedly several a night if he were so inclined, why spend time with her?
She still remembered the first good night kiss heíd given her and how surprised she had been to realize they were really dating. He hadnít tried to go any farther which both relieved and disappointed her.
"Dana? Hi, would I be taking you for granted if I assumed you would see me tonight?"
She laughed lightly, "No, but it does make my date book look a little thin."
"Good." He stated it emphatically and her smile grew. At least he couldnít see it. "Iíll pick you up at seven, okay?"
"Iím looking forward to it. Oops, gotta go. Later." And she hung up. He was still smiling half an hour later when Skinner tapped on his door.
"Aliens land and youíre vindicated?" Skinner asked.
"What?" He looked over at Skinner puzzled.
"I donít think Iíve ever seen you look that pleased before. Do you know the secrets of the universe now?"
"Maybe Iím beginning to get a glimpse. What can I do for you?"
"Agent Fowley has a case she wants your assistance on. She went through channels to request your assignment. What?"
"Nothing." He had tried to keep his expression bland, obviously it hadnít worked. "Whatís the case?" Skinner handed him a folder and waited. After a minute he glanced up, "Well it could be an X-file. How did Diana get it?"
"I donít know, but Iím curious myself. Keep me updated on this. By the way, you changed the subject, gonna tell me what has you in such a good mood?"
Mulder just grinned at him and he finally turned to leave, smiling himself. Mulder shoved the folder aside; heíd look at it later. He didnít want to spoil his mood and he was not giving up his weekend no matter what the case was. That surprised him, since when had a social engagement been more important than work?
Dana met him at her door in jeans and a sweater, he smiled broadly, she picked up on his thoughts so well. "Would you mind if we didnít go out tonight? I thought I could cook and we could just stay in and I could leave my shoes off."
"Umm, think Iíll be safe?" He leered down at her.
"We could leave the door cracked if you like." She responded with a smile.
"No way!" He had draped his jacket over the chair. "Long day?"
"Yeah and too many cases."
"Are you sure you want to cook? We could order in."
"Itís already in the oven, hope you like lasagna." She turned back toward the kitchen. She was even smaller without the heels. He followed and reached above her as she stretched to get the plates from an upper cabinet.
"These?" He was looming over her, much too close if it had been anyone else. Why didnít his proximity bother her? "Dana?"
"Oh, yes. Those would be fine."
She opened the wine and they ate leisurely in the kitchen, then moved to the living room with more wine. He was very relaxed and enjoying watching her. He realized his eyes were locked on her lips. They were moving, she was speaking, but he wasnít hearing her. Those lips Ė he needed to taste those lips. Her voice trailed off, she knew he wasnít listening anymore. He was moving toward her and her eyes were locked on his lips as well. This was different; this wasnít a goodnight kiss. This was . . . and then they were together. His lips pressing their advantage when she offered no protest, in fact, seemed to be enjoying herself.
His hands were on her now, pulling her closer, molding her body to his. He noted the quickening of her breath, the rapidity of her pulse now that he had moved on to her neck. Her hands were pressing into the muscles of his back and he knew a moment of regret at the fabric that separated them.
"Mulder," she managed to gasp out as his thumb brushed her nipple. "Weíd be more comfortable, oh god, more comfortable in the bedroom." She managed to get out. He nodded; heíd never wanted anyone more.Assignment 1 - part 3
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter,10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.