“Come.” Skinner responded to the tap on his door.
“Assistant Director.” John stopped just inside the office.
“Thanks for coming by so late.” Skinner had the lights low, if there were cameras, it would be harder to see.
“Urgent case?” John took the chair Skinner indicated. His eyes took in the bandage, the bruises. His eyes narrowed but he held his tongue.
“Something I want you to check into tomorrow, but I thought you could go through the file tonight. I just need a little more background before I submit a report.” Skinner slid the manila folder across his desk toward John.
Doggett took the file and, as Skinner had known he would, opened it. John froze, but Skinner continued talking as though nothing was wrong.
John stared at the paper in front of him. Ignore everything I’m saying, but nod occasionally. One of the super soldiers may have been killed tonight in the alley behind the Capitol Diner. I need you to see if he’s really dead and, if the body still exists, observe an autopsy. Get everything you can off the body for ID. The number at the bottom is a one-time use cell phone to contact me. John, be very, very careful.
“So, any questions?” Skinner asked as John slowly closed the folder.
“No sir. Seems pretty straight forward.” John shook his head. “I’ll get on this first thing tomorrow. You gonna be here much longer?”
“Not too long, couple of things I want to get out tonight.”
“Yeah, well, I’ll be in touch.” Doggett rose then and tapped the file against his hand. “Have a good evening.”
He walked out without another word and took the elevator to the garage. His mind was reeling. He hadn’t thought much about the super soldiers in months. What, had he thought they’d just disappear back to where they’d come? No, he just didn’t want to think about them. He was still the unofficial ‘X-Files’ investigator, but those cases were few and far between now.
He pulled out and drove around a little, trying to spot a tail. Part of him wanted to laugh. Those three weird friends of Mulder’s had insisted on doing periodic sweeps for bugs in this car and home. For the first time he was glad he’d put up with it.
Satisfied, he turned back toward the diner. The police and an ambulance were there. Well, there was a body still. He exited his truck and approached the crowd. He flashed his badge and was allowed access.
“Whatja got?” He asked an officer he recognized.
“Dead body, white male, mid-thirties, maybe a little more.”
“May I?” John reached for the zipper on the body bag.
“Sure, knock yourself out.”
He pulled back the bag, exposing the body. John didn’t recognize the man and he sure looked dead, but Billy Miles had gone through a trash compactor.
“This guy matches the description of an informant who’s missing. Any ID on him?”
“Nope, pockets are clean. This is recent; he was still warm when we found him.”
“You mind if I follow the body in? See if I can get an ID?”
“Like I said, knock yourself out.” The officer motioned for the EMTs to load the body. John followed in his truck. This guy was dead; he’d put money on it. But was he a super soldier? Skinner thought so, but they hadn’t exactly gotten the chance to discuss it.
He spoke with the ambulance driver, then followed them to the morgue. One of the assistants gave him entry. This was a new guy, for which John was grateful. He flashed the badge being careful to hide his name, but not his picture. The guy was too green to call him on it.
“The coroner won’t be here until morning.”
“That’s okay. I just want ID, prints, pictures and a DNA swab.”
“Uh, sure, we can do that.” The young man gathered the information while John stayed with the body. He glanced down at the man’s face and something about the neck caught his attention. John pulled on some rubber gloves and carefully turned the face away from him. The back of the neck had been ruptured.
“Hey, you can’t - “ The younger man joined him.
“Look at this. Isn’t that a piece of metal?” John touched the shiny thing.
The young resident leaned in closer. “Yeah, that is metal.” He reached for gloves himself, then an instrument to extract the object of their investigation. “What the hell?” He held up the twisted thing. “I think it used to look like a vertebrae, but I‘ve never seen a metal one, new technology? But what could have twisted it until it broke, and do it inside the body?” He looked up when John didn’t answer.
“Those are damn good questions, son. Let’s get pictures of everything.”
They did, as well as the prints and the swab. John touched the twisted vertebrae with a gloved finger. “I need to take this to the Bureau labs. I’ll sign for it, but we need to jump right on it.”
“Oh, well, if you sign for it, sure I guess.” He turned toward the office after zipping the bag shut again. He filled out the paperwork carefully as John tried not to show any impatience. John signed the form and gathered up all of the information he’d collected.
“Thanks Mr. Roher. Good luck.”
John threw up his hand in a wave and left the morgue.
Once in the car he pulled out his cell phone and pressed number three on his speed dial.
“Hi, me. What’s up?”
“Why don’t we get a bite to eat?”
“John, I’ve already - “
“Monica, we need to get a bite.”
She was silent for a moment. “Okay, where should I meet you?”
“I’ll pick you up. Thirty minutes.”
“I’ll be ready.” But the connection was already broken. What was going on? She hadn’t heard from John in weeks, but she’d caught the undercurrent of . . . tension, excitement? Now what?
She was ready when he tapped on her door, but refused entry and kept glancing back at the truck. “You ready?”
Monica nodded, pulling the door closed behind her and slipping the key in the deadbolt. She didn’t say anything until they had pulled away from the curb.
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. Have you heard anything lately about the super soldiers?”
Her eyes widened. “No. Has something happened?”
“Yeah. Skinner called me in this evening. Read this.” He handed her the paper with Skinner’s note. She read it through twice, then looked up at him.
“Burn it. There’re matches in the glove box.”
She did as he said without comment. After she had stirred the ashes in his ashtray she turned to him. “What did you find?”
“I’m not sure, but I think I miss Dana a lot tonight.”
Monica nodded, “Are you going to call Skinner?”
“Yeah, I just wanted you on board.”
“Thanks.” She said softly.
“You might not feel that way long.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
John looked at her, then pulled out his cell phone again, and dialed the number Skinner had given him.
“Doggett?” Skinner’s voice sounded before John could speak.
“Meet me at the Metro station in Georgetown. We need to ditch the truck for now.”
“I can be there in twenty.”
“Good.” Then the line went dead.
“You forgot to mention me.” Monica said.
“Didn’t want to get into an argument and you’re familiar with everything. More, I think he’s right. I think something killed one of them tonight and I want to know what.”
She nodded. They were silent the rest of the trip.
John parked the car and waited. In less than five minutes Skinner pulled up in front of the truck, blocking any movement. When he spotted Monica, his eyes narrowed. Neither of the agents had ever seen the man so angry.
John looked over at Monica, "come on." She nodded and they exited the truck. John opened the front door of Skinner's car as Monica opened the rear.
"What's she doing here?" He spoke through a clenched jaw.
"We don't have Dana, I thought we'd need
The statement didn't make Skinner any happier. "Were you followed?"
"Give me a little break here, Sir."
Skinner visibly attempted to relax his shoulders and flexed his fingers.
"Do you want to see - "
"Not here." Skinner pulled out of the parking lot and seemed to drive aimlessly for about fifteen minutes. All three of them were on full alert and none could spot a tail. Finally Skinner seemed to make up his mind and pulled onto the highway.
Monica opened her mouth to ask a question when he pulled into the hotel parking lot, but at John's look stopped. They all held their silence as Skinner led them to a room and knocked. Very quickly the door opened, but whoever opened it was out of sight behind the door itself. For just a moment, John wished he'd checked Skinner's neck for protrusions but it was too late now. Skinner herded them into the room, checking the hall as they got inside.
The door closed and Mulder stood in front of them. They were both frozen for an instant, then John found his voice. "Mulder?"
"Yeah, guess you didn't expect me."
John shook his head. The two turned as the bedroom door opened and Scully joined them. "Dana!" Monica was moving then, and they hugged fiercely. "I never believed you . . . You look wonderful."
Mulder made no comment, but he could feel Doggett's desire to hold Scully as well. Fortunately the man's self-preservation gene held him in place. Instead Scully approached him and took his hand, then brushed a quick kiss on his cheek.
"Dana." He glanced at Mulder. The man was larger than he remembered and it looked like he’d been working out, but John noted that he didn't look as though he were in attack mode. He returned the kiss to her cheek and squeezed her shoulder. "It's good to see you."
"It's wonderful to see you guys as well." There were tears in her eyes.
"Uh, we need to get to work." Skinner interrupted and everyone moved toward the sitting area. Mulder seated Scully on the couch and sat beside her, Skinner took the easy chair again as John and Monica took the chairs vacated by the Lone Gunmen.
John opened the bag he hadn't let out of his sight since leaving the morgue. "I have the prints, pictures and a DNA swab." He placed the information on the table in front of Mulder. Skinner had leaned back as Mulder did the opposite, nearly hunching over the coffee table. "But this was the best prize." John pulled the small plastic bag from the larger bag and handed it to Mulder.
"What?" Mulder picked it up and turned the bag, trying for a better viewing angle. "It looks like . . ." He handed the bag to Scully.
"The assistant coroner and I thought it looked like a metal vertebrae, and it came from the victim's neck."
“I’d agree." Mulder said as he watched Scully hand it to Skinner.
“Do I take it that you two encountered this guy earlier this evening?”
“You could say that.” Mulder spoke with undisguised sarcasm.
“Well I know you two, and I don’t think either one of you is strong enough to do that.” He gestured toward the twisted piece of metal in Skinner’s hand. “Especially from inside the neck. So you want to explain?”
John saw Dana’s eyes flash with fury. Mulder didn’t even look at her, but his hand came to rest on her knee.
“Telekinesis, huh? You learned that, or do you have a new friend?” John sounded mildly amused. Scully started to rise, but Mulder had moved first, draping his arm around her. He effectively held her in place. John realized there were tears in her eyes and began to regret his words.
Mulder looked over at the bedroom door and almost immediately it opened. A small boy stepped into the room to join them, coming to stand by Mulder’s side.
Monica caught on first, her hand going to her mouth. John took in this reaction but only felt more confused.
“John, Monica, I’d like you to meet my son, Danny.” Mulder watched them.
John’s eyes widened and he stared at the boy for a moment, then at Dana. “This, this is the baby . . .” Scully nodded. “But you told us . . . “ He glanced then at Monica, who finally faced him and shrugged. John absorbed this for a moment, then rose to his feet and approached the boy, his hand outstretched.
“Pleased to meet you, Danny. I’m John Doggett, I’m a friend of your parents.”
Danny smiled slightly, “You helped my Mom look for my Dad, but you didn’t want to believe.”
John blinked, and Danny continued, “Yes, I’m like Gibson.” Then Danny moved over to Monica, who seemed unable to rise. “Hi, you helped my Mom when I was born.”
Monica nodded, “It’s one of my scariest and best memories.”
Danny looked over at his father and gave him a grin. “Yeah.”
John returned slowly to his own chair. “So, so Danny’s been with you all this time?”
“And you think he’s able to . . .”
“We didn’t know. He never used the ability before today.”
Danny looked at John, then glanced over at his mother. “He was going to kill Uncle Walter and then Dad. I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t let him kill them.”
“I know.” Scully reached for him and he went into her arms.
Everyone was quiet for a moment, then Skinner laid the bag on the table. “I guess we need to decide what to do now. I’m thinking you guys need to head back home, where no one knows you. And maybe I should disappear underground myself.”
“Sir, if we have a weapon against - “ John stopped abruptly when he realized what he was saying. “Dana, I’m sorry. Skinner’s probably right. We’ve been warned now.”
Mulder leaned forward and handed him the list of names that Scully had given him earlier.
“The names of the super soldiers who were in the FBI building earlier today.”
John focused on the paper, his mouth dropping open. Monica stood and looked over his shoulder. “Setzer? I know these guys.”
“I’m not sure running is going to work for much longer. Not if they’re increasing at this rate.” Mulder sighed.
“Mulder.” Scully looked over at him and he shook his head, looking down at his feet.
Danny looked over at the bedroom then, “Mom.”
She nodded and rose from the couch, disappearing into the bedroom. Everyone watched her leave, John and Monica unsure of what was happening. She emerged in a moment with a small bundle in her arms. She approached Monica and placed the tiny baby in her arms.
“Oh my god.” Monica took the infant and looked up at Scully.
“This is our daughter, Katy.”
John took in the tableau in front of him, then looked over at Mulder. “I think you’re right, running is not going to be an option any more.” He saw a tear escape Scully’s eye and trail down her cheek, but there was nothing he could say.