Their plane had been delayed for a couple of hours so they were later arriving home than planned. It was fully dark now so in spite of her protests he was walking her to her door. She had managed not to allow him to carry her bag, so damn independent. He smiled at her; she was ahead of him and wouldn’t see it. He wasn’t that brave.
They were at the front door of her building when she stopped dead still. He almost ran over her. Suddenly she was on her knees in the bushes, crawling under the branches.
“Mulder, help me.” He was on his knees now, chasing her without thought. She’d asked for his help. She had her hands on a little girl, examining her there in the dark. “Help me get her out of here. Be careful of her neck. “
“Move Scully, I can get her.” She backed out, giving him access to the child. She jerked up her suitcase and had the door opened as he stood holding her. She led the way into her apartment and flipped on the lights, motioning him to place her on the couch.
He backed away giving her access, letting her check the pulse and breathing, bending the arms and legs, palpating the stomach. He wanted to help, but didn’t know what to do. “Get me a wet cloth, Mulder and the first aid kit in the bathroom.”
Grateful he hurried to do as she asked. He watched as she carefully washed the blood from the girl’s hairline, the wound must be small. He couldn’t even see it, but there was certainly enough blood.
“Help me.” The girl was waking up and beginning to whimper.
“You’re going to be fine, Honey. Just relax, you’re safe now.”
“Don’t let him find me!”
“It’s okay. No one can find you here. Can you tell me your name?”
“Megan. Keep me safe here.”
“I need to call an ambulance, Megan. They’ll take you to the hospital and check you out better there.”
“No!” The panic in her voice was real. “Keep me here! Please don’t call anyone.” It broke Mulder’s heart. He knew he had a soft spot for little girls, wanting to protect them as he’d failed to protect Samantha. He looked over at Scully; she kept a better perspective than he did.
Not this time, she was caught up in the child’s panic as well. Emily flooded her mind and she wanted to take this little girl in her arms and hold her, keep her safe. She felt his eyes on her.
“Don’t worry about anything Honey. I need to talk to my partner. You just lay back.” Megan nodded, taking the tissue Mulder handed her.
“What do you want to do Scully?”
“I think she’s okay physically, but she’s scared to death. We need to call the police. Someone has to be frantic about her.”
He nodded, then jumped when he felt the small hand on his arm. “Don’t call the police, please! Let me stay here tonight. You keep me safe.”
“Honey, Megan.” Scully squatted in front of the girl. “Your parents must be so scared not knowing where you are.”
“Mommy’s dead. Daddy killed her. Please don’t let him know I’m with you.” Mulder and Scully exchanged startled glances.
“Megan, what’s your Daddy’s name?” The little girl shook her head, refusing to answer. “Honey, we have to know.” Instead she threw herself into Scully’s arms. Mulder had to catch them both to keep them from toppling over. He lifted Megan into his arms and steadied Scully against his body.
“I bet it’s past your bedtime, isn’t it Megan?” She didn’t raise her head but cut her eyes to look at him. She reluctantly nodded. “Why don’t you take a quick bath, then go on to sleep? We can work this out in the morning.”
“Mulder -“ He shook his head and she dropped it. He had something in mind. She took a deep breath and held out her hand. “Come on, I’ll run you a bath. I’ll be right back.” This last was aimed at Mulder and he nodded.
She returned to the room shortly to find him on his cell phone. “What do you think you’re doing Mulder? We can’t keep her from the authorities.”
He hung up the phone. “No one has reported a little girl missing tonight. She really might be safer with us. They would just put her in foster care or even return her to her father tonight.”
“Oh, well, I thought I’d hang out here tonight in case her father’s still around. She’s too little to have gotten far, especially injured."
She glanced at the windows; she really hadn’t thought about it. “I’ll go get my bag, if that’s okay?”
“Yes, that’s probably a good idea.” He managed to hide his relief and headed for the car. When he returned Scully was in the bathroom. They came out shortly, Megan wearing one of Scully’s t-shirts. Mulder had to grin; she was cute as a button and looked more relaxed now. He realized her hair, now clean, was nearly the same color as Samantha’s and she seemed only a little younger than she had been.
“She wanted to tell you good night.” Scully held the child’s hand.
“Good night Megan. Sweet dreams.” He smiled at her from his seat on the couch. To his surprise she threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.
“Thank you for keeping me safe.”
“My pleasure Honey. I’ll be right here guarding the door.” She nodded, satisfied and took Scully’s hand again.
A short while later Scully joined Mulder again. “This is crazy Mulder. We don’t even know the child’s name, much less if she’s telling the truth.”
“I believe her.”
“Because she looks like Samantha?”
“No Scully. My every waking thought is not about Samantha. She was injured and she was scared. How did you see her lying under that bush?”
“I don’t. . . I don’t know. I must have heard her.”
“The way you dived under there? You had to have seen something.”
“I didn’t Mulder. I don’t know what made me go in there. It was . . . “
“Spooky?” He grinned, “Don’t worry about it, just be glad you did. It’s getting cold out there. She’d have been in real trouble if you hadn’t found her. Listen, I know you’re tired. Go on to bed yourself. I’ll keep an eye on things.”
She closed her eyes and sighed. “Sounds like a plan Mulder. Thanks for hanging around.”
“Anytime. I come cheap Scully.” He waggled his eyebrows at her.
“You get what you pay for Mulder. Goodnight.” She patted his knee and rose. He watched with some satisfaction that she didn’t close her bedroom door all the way and he saw the lights go out.
The next morning he greeted the two ladies with coffee, juice and toast. Scully always had food in her refrigerator - not the kind overgrown with mold, but real food. He needed to figure out how she did that.
“Thanks Mulder. Sleep okay?”
“Yeah, but your next couch should really be just a little longer.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” She responded dryly as she took the mug of coffee he offered and opened the cabinet to locate the jelly for Megan. They ate in comfortable silence for a few minutes.
“Megan? We need to know your Daddy’s name. We can fix it so that you don’t have to go back to him, but if we keep you here any longer we could be accused of kidnapping you.”
“I won’t go back to him.” Stubborn as any little girl, Scully sighed.
“Daddy’s name is Spencer Forrester.” She seemed to deflate a little just saying it.
Mulder and Scully exchanged startled glances. “The Spencer Forrester just confirmed for the President’s Cabinet?” Scully broke the silence. Megan nodded wearily, looking older than her age.
“Mulder and I need to talk a minute Honey. We’ll be right back.”
“Don’t call him.”
“No, we won’t.” They rose from the table and headed to the living room. “Mulder - “
“No Scully, just because he’s in a high government office doesn’t mean he’s not a crook, or in this case a murderer. I didn’t follow the confirmation hearings, did you?”
“Not really, we were out of town for most of it. I remember he’s a widower because one of the news shows mentioned it. There was no mention of her being murdered though.”
“May I sign on?” He nodded toward her computer.
“Sure. In the meantime what do we do about her?” She looked back toward the kitchen.
“Hold on, let’s get some information first.” He was typing rapidly. “Okay, here we go. Let’s see, confirmed in September, widower, yeah - this says she committed suicide.”
“She didn’t. He just made it look like it.” They both jumped, not realizing Megan had joined them in the room.
“Honey, how could you know that?”
“I was watching. He didn’t
know I was there. If he finds out . . . “ The two of them exchanged glances
again. “It was in Colorado, he didn’t do it here. I don’t think he knew the
President would call him so soon.”
She sure didn’t talk like a six-year old, and as yet they had no proof she was really Forrester’s daughter. Mulder turned so that his back was to Megan. “Colorado?” He mouthed silently to Scully.
She looked at him exasperatedly. They’d just gotten back, and this wasn’t assigned. She saw his eyes crinkle; he knew she wasn’t going to refuse, damn him anyway! With her eyes she asked what about the little girl?
She hated it when he read her that well. But it seemed there was still no missing persons report on Megan. That bought them a little time. Scully turned back to the little girl. “If Mulder and I go out to Colorado to check into what you’re telling us, would you be willing to stay with my mother for a couple of days, just until we get back?”
“Sure. Just so I don’t have to see him.” Megan had brightened considerably just watching them.
“I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t unpack.” Scully straightened up and sighed. “Let me get Mom on the phone.”
Arrangements were made quickly. They took Megan to Mrs. Scully’s house on their way to the airport and made introductions. Mrs. Scully wasn’t brought into the loop completely but told enough to know that the child was in her protective custody until Mulder and Scully could return, probably in a day, two at the most.
The flight was used to discuss strategy. This was a high level official they were investigating. One whose confirmation was already completed. Questions would have to be very carefully phrased, which put the burden on Scully. Mulder couldn’t always remain politically correct.
Mrs. Forrester’s sister was their last stop. With the autopsy results officially out of their reach - they were still working on that - and no compelling evidence to exhume the body they were feeling totally frustrated. They’d been very careful not to mention Megan, trying to protect her, but the fact that no one had filed a report on her yet was mystifying them.
“Agent Scully, Agent Mulder, please come in.” Mrs. Allen resembled pictures they had seen of Megan’s mother, slightly younger, but just as aristocratic. They trailed her to the library where tea had been laid for them.
“I assumed, after Spencer’s nomination had been confirmed by Congress, that it was all over. He’d gotten away with it again.” A bitterness had crept into her voice.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Allen. Gotten away with it?”
“Murder. I know he killed my sister, but I can’t prove it and now he’s in such a high position no one would listen to me anyway.” She looked Mulder straight in the eye, head high. “He would discredit me, find someone to say I drank or used drugs. His political machine is already assembled.”
“I take it you and your brother-in-law don’t get along.” Mulder offered.
“No one in our family got along with Spencer. Of course we knew him before he became quite so sophisticated in the eyes of the world. His abuse went underground and undetectable.”
“You’re saying he abused your sister?” Scully hadn’t been prepared for this openness.
“Oh yes. I tried many times to get her to file charges but she didn’t want the publicity and, of course, she didn’t want our parents to know. She became quite adept at covering bruises and scars, even from herself. But after . . . toward the end her depression was so pronounced it was interfering with his plans so he decided he would look better as the poor widower and . . .”
“After what, Mrs. Allen?” Mulder leaned forward.
“Megan.” She whispered the word.
“What about Megan?” Scully blurted it out, finally someone open, willing to talk and at last a mention of the child.
“I’m certain he killed her as well, but I can’t prove that either. That’s what led to poor Carolyn’s depression and ultimately to her death as well.”
“Killed? Megan isn’t dead.” Scully blurted out.
Mrs. Allen turned to her, her face full of pain. “I saw that child’s body after he was through with her Ms. Scully. She was dead. Carolyn held her and rocked her but nothing could be done. Her head injury was too severe.”
Scully looked over at Mulder at a loss for another question. Mulder was already pulling his cell phone from his pocket. “Mrs. Scully? Is Megan there?”
“Fox! I was just trying to call you. She was here, she was right here and we were talking. I turned away for a second and she vanished. I can’t find her anywhere! She’s not in the house, she couldn’t have gotten outside, and the deadbolts are still on. What’s happening? How could I have lost her?” He looked up at Scully and shook his head.
“It’s okay Mrs. Scully. I’ll explain later. You’ve done nothing wrong. Please trust me, don’t call anyone. I’ll call you back as soon as I can. You have to believe me that Megan is safe.”
“Mulder?” Scully was waiting impatiently, not even bothering to ask to speak to her mother.
“She’s gone. Vanished, apparently while we were talking just now.”
“What are you talking about?” Mrs. Allen was watching them both, puzzled.
“Do you have a picture of Megan?” Mulder spoke, as Scully didn’t seem to be able.
“Of course. Over here.” She rose and they followed her to the table near the window. “Here she is.” She picked up the silver frame and handed it to Mulder. He looked at it and silently passed it to Scully. Megan, the little girl that had shared her bed, that she’d known somehow was in the bushes and needed her help. Megan, murdered by her father? Dead before they ever could have met her?
“You,” Scully had to swallow, “you say she died of head trauma?” She was seeing the blood on the child’s head that first night, but the wound hadn’t been large enough for so much blood.
“Yes. The coroner declared that it was an accident, that she died after a fall down the basement stairs. He never mentioned the other injuries, the broken arms, collarbone, and the bruises that she always had. Spencer didn’t want them mentioned, so they weren’t. He waited until Carolyn’s bruises were healed that last time before he killed her.”
“Why haven’t you gone to the police?” Mulder asked quietly.
“I wouldn’t be believed. There’s no evidence, nothing I can prove in a court of law. Spencer made sure of that. He owns the law around here. I might be a well-to-do matron, but now Spencer is a Presidential Cabinet member. My sister told me what happened to her, showed me, and there’s the one tape, but -“
“That night, before she died my sister called here. She was frantic. She couldn’t call 911; Spencer was too important a man. I wasn’t in and she left me a message on my machine. By the time I got it she was dead. I couldn’t erase her voice, not for the last time, so I pulled the tape and replaced it.”
“May we hear it?” Mulder’s voice was gentle, soothing. Scully looked over at him, he talked to her with that voice sometimes. It made her feel safe. She could see it was having the same effect on Mrs. Allen.
After a moment she nodded and rose. She moved to the desk on the other side of the room. Megan’s aunt pulled a key from around her neck and opened a small drawer. She extracted a tape and after pressing it to her breast took a deep breath and relinquished it to Mulder. “Will I get it back?”
“I’ll do my best. Its evidence, but it will be guarded. May we listen to this?”
“Of course. The machine is there, I’d rather not hear it again just now, if you don’t mind.”
They waited until the door was closed behind her before putting the tape in the machine. At Scully’s nod he pressed play. The sounds of the frantic woman filled the room and Mulder lowered the volume. He couldn’t look at Scully during this; it was painful hearing her, knowing that no one had come to her aid.
With voice analysis this could be a deathbed accusation. This tape would need to be well protected. When it was through Mulder pressed stop and removed the tape. “Scully?”
She swallowed, but when she spoke her voice was steady. “I have to know more.” He nodded as he slipped the tape into his breast pocket.
“I think we need to talk, and call your mother back. Let’s tell Mrs. Allen goodbye for now.”
Back at the motel room Scully hung up with her mother, but the conversation had been less than satisfying on either side. Scully was not about to state to her mother that the child staying in her home was a ghost any more than she could say it to herself.
“I don’t want to talk about this right now.” She turned away from him.
“Mulder.” Her tone was warning.
“Hey, I didn’t do this. To get technical this is your case. You were the one crawling around in the bushes.”
“Mulder, the little girl in my apartment that night was not dead.”
“But I am.” Mulder’s head flew up and Scully whirled toward the sound.
“Megan?” Scully’s chest was heaving as she tried to calm herself.
“Would you have believed me if I had told you I was dead?”
Scully’s mouth snapped shut, her jaw tight. “Megan, what’s going on?” Mulder approached her and held out his hand. She took it gratefully.
“I don’t know. After Daddy hurt my head that last time he just forgot about me. He never touched me or looked at me. But Mommy cried all the time and she quit talking to me too. She didn't come to tuck me in or anything. Then Daddy kept getting mad at her. I used to hear them at night. Daddy can yell pretty loud, but he was hitting her like he used to hit me. Mommy would send me to Aunt Nancy’s sometimes, but she didn’t have anywhere to go. I think he hit her before I was born too.” Her voice dropped on that last sentence.
“Do you remember being in a hospital or anything after he hurt your head?” Mulder asked gently.
“No. I was just at home, but no one looked at me. Then I heard Mommy on the phone crying to Aunt Nancy. She said I was dead. When I tried to touch her she didn’t look at me. She just kept crying. So I guess I’m dead.”
“Then how can I touch you?”
“My friend told me how to be real again for a little while.”
She shrugged. “You know him. He’s the one that said you could help me. He just was there after a while and he looked after me. No one ever looks at him either.”
“Who Megan? What’s his name?”
“Chester. He said you . . .” She stopped at the look on their faces.
Mulder glanced over at Scully who refused to meet his eyes. “Megan, I need to talk to Scully alone for a minute, okay?” The little girl nodded sadly and turned away from them after one last longing look at Scully. “We’ll go in my room . . . Megan? Where the hell . . . “
At that Scully looked up and around the room. “Where did she go?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see her leave. Kind of like what happened with your mother.”
Her eyes flashed anger at him for a second, then subsided. “I can’t believe this. I don’t believe this.”
“It’s not that big a room Scully and the bolt is still on the door.” Scully sank on to the bed, studying her feet.
“You want me to just believe this and keep moving. Well I can’t Mulder! People don’t come back from the dead; they don’t vanish from Washington, DC and show up in Colorado! They don’t - “
“I can’t explain it Scully. I know you remember Chester, even if you don’t want to. But regardless, if this man is an abusive personality and has possibly killed two people, he needs to be brought to justice.”
“You just believe it all, don’t you? The information we have doesn’t even mention the child is dead.”
“No, I’m confused and skeptical, but I can’t just quit.” He seated himself beside her. “And neither can you.”
She didn’t bother to correct him. He was right. “So what do we do?”
“We’ve been investigating the mother. Why don’t we see if he covered his tracks as well with the daughter? That’s been awhile, maybe he missed something. As far as we know it was his first murder, so . . . “ He looked down at Scully but she was staring past him at the door.
“I can help you.” Megan? She was back. He could see the emotions conflicting within Scully. He watched her take a deep breath and put out her hand to little girl.
A smile bloomed on Megan’s face and she hurried into Scully’s arms, which closed around her tightly.
Mulder gave them a few moments, not admitting to himself how much he was enjoying the sight. Finally he cleared his throat. “Can you tell us anything, Megan? What about the name of your doctor?”
“I saw Dr. Haggins a lot. He wasn’t very nice.” She made a face at the memory. Mulder pulled the phone book out and looked up the address.
“Anyone else? We need to talk to anyone who could help us.”
Megan shrugged, “I didn’t go many places. He didn’t like us to go anywhere or have friends over unless he was here, and when I had bruises and stuff, I had to stay in my room. Even he didn’t want to see me then. I don’t think he was sorry, he just didn’t want to be reminded, you know?”
“Okay, Megan. Look, Scully’s Mom is pretty upset that she’s lost you. Could you - “
“Scully, whatever’s going on, I don’t want your mother to feel guilty. She’ll feel better when Megan’s there.”
Scully couldn’t dispute it, so she turned away. When she turned back, Megan was gone. She made no comment; there was none to make.
Dr. Haggins’ office wasn’t far, and Mulder decided that no warning would be best. When they arrived and flashed their badges they had the complete attention of the office staff, who scurried around finding the old file.
Dr. Haggins himself came blustering out to demand why they were disrupting his day. He stopped the nurse from handing over the very large file and faced the couple himself.
“Dr. Haggins, I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder, this is Special Agent Scully. We’d like to see the records of Megan Forrester.”
They both watched the color leave the older man’s face and the look of fear that replaced it. Almost immediately the man’s spine stiffened. “Do you have a warrant?”
“We can get one within 24 hours. We had hoped you would cooperate voluntarily.”
“And why would I do that?”
“As a good citizen of the US of A, of course.”
“It’s my understanding that Mr. Forrester’s appointment has already been approved by Congress. They didn’t ask, why should anyone want this information now?”
“This is a separate investigation. I’m sure you’ll want us to report that you were cooperative.”
“Report to whom?”
“Our superiors. If you’d like, I could call the Bureau right now and let you speak to them.”
Again the man blanched, then shook his head. “No, you bring me that warrant and I’ll hand over the materials. Until then, I’d appreciate you letting me get back to my patients. Please, your presence is a disruption.”
Scully eyed the file that was lying on the nurse’s desk. It was extraordinarily thick for a six-year-old, which answered as many questions for her as it asked. She locked eyes with the nurse, but after an instant, the nurse looked away and refused to look up again.
Mulder touched her arm and motioned with his head for them to leave. She hadn’t heard what he had said to the doctor, but it didn’t matter. Scully saw the nurse glance up at her but away again quickly.
Scully looked up at Mulder and nodded. They left without another word until they were seated in the car. “Mulder, did you see the size of that file?”
“Yeah. She had a damn rough life.”
“What happens next?”
“I’m expecting a call from good old Spencer himself.”
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