He hurried to the office. He was late and she’d have something to say about it. The fact that he was going to enjoy the scolding never reached the surface of his mind. He reached for the doorknob and was startled to discover it locked. He searched for his keys and wondered where she was. Well, he could give her grief for a change.
Once he booted up his computer he started the coffee. He enjoyed his first cup as he read through his email and chuckled at Frohike’s comments. He stood to get a second cup as he checked his watch. She wasn’t ever this late, no email, no voice mail. Maybe she’d overslept. He could give her a lot of grief about that.
He picked up the phone and dialed her home number. Her machine picked up. Well, she must be on her way. He hung up without leaving a message. Just wait until the next time he was running late, probably tomorrow, but he’d use this as long as possible.
With a sigh he picked up the expense report he’d been avoiding and began assembling the receipts. He had them in order and was almost finished with the first page before he noticed it had been forty-five minutes and she still hadn’t arrived. Maybe she’d had car trouble. This time he dialed her cell phone. No service?
For the first time he felt a disquiet come over him. Car trouble? Or something more? His decision made, he pulled his coat from the hook and headed up to the garage.
He headed out the way she would come. If she’d been in an accident he’d pass it. He found himself driving faster the closer he got to her apartment. When he saw her car parked outside the feeling of disquiet grew enough to hold him immobile for a moment. Then he was out of the car, trotting toward the building.
She didn’t come to the door, even when he pounded on it. Not waiting any longer he shoved his key in the lock and let himself in. He paused in the door, expecting blood and mayhem. The place was immaculate, not a thing out of place. He headed into the kitchen, nothing in the sink, no coffee in the pot. He turned back into the living room and spotted her briefcase beside the desk. He didn’t stop, approaching her bedroom door. It was closed, but that didn’t even slow him down. The bed was made, it didn’t look like it had even been slept in. He turned back to the bathroom. No moisture in the air, the towels were hung neatly and completely dry. The tub was dry as well.
Okay, think. Her car was here, but it didn’t look as thought she’d gotten ready here this morning. So where was she? Any messages on her machine? He was back in the living room. No messages. Shit! What was going on? Where the hell was she? He looked over at her computer, would she have left him a message? She had to know he’d come looking for her. She did know that surely.
The phone rang then and he whirled actually reaching for his gun. Taking a deep breath he reached for the phone. "Hello?"
"Fox? Is that you? What are you doing at Dana’s?"
"Mrs. Scully? I, uh I came by to see if she needed a ride."
"I didn’t think she’d be there this time of day. I was just going to leave my flight times for her. May I speak to her?"
"Oh, well she’s not exactly here."
"Listen, I’m sure she’s fine, but she didn’t come in to work, so . . . "
"So you came to check. Where is she Fox?"
"I haven’t exactly found her yet. Her car is here so – "
"She’s missing. That’s what you’re telling me, isn’t it Fox?"
"At this point there’s nothing to worry – "
"I’ll change my flight. I can be there this evening."
"Mrs. Scully, don’t. There’s no reason, right now, to cut your trip short. One of her friends may have needed a hand and she’s with her. Why don’t I call you in a couple of hours? That would still give you time to get home tonight. Okay?"
"Fox, find my baby girl."
"I will Mrs. Scully." There was a long silence then he heard her sigh. "Try not to worry. I’ll call you in a couple of hours."
Again she sighed. "I’ll wait here for two hours, Fox. Call me."
"I will Mrs. Scully. Just give me a little time." He hung up more uneasy than ever. Somewhere in the back of his mind he’d hoped she was with her mother. That hope was now shattered.
He finally forced his hand from the receiver and returned to her computer. Nothing there. Okay, her car was here, her briefcase inside. Did anyone see her and when?
A quick check with the neighbors showed most were at work. The older woman three doors down was the only one home. But she had seen Scully come in last evening. They’d gotten their mail together and exchanged pleasantries. Okay, a time line, the woman was positive it had been no later than 7 p.m. because she hadn’t missed the beginning of Jeopardy. Damn it Scully, where are you?
He returned to the apartment, this time in investigator mode. The locks did not look as though they had been tampered with and they were new, from the last time he’d kicked the door in. The windows were locked from the inside. Damn it, when he found her he was going to make her move. This ground floor apartment was a rotten idea and he should have made an issue of it years ago.
The police wouldn’t involve themselves, she hadn’t been missing twenty-four hours and there was no sign of anything actually being wrong – just his intuition which was blasting in his head at present.
He pulled out his cell phone and called Skinner. He should have done that earlier but he’d wanted to check things out himself first. He was put through immediately; Angie had given up trying to make him follow the rules finally. "Skinner."
"It’s Mulder. I was wondering if you had heard from Agent Scully today, or – "
"What’s going on Mulder?"
"Scully didn’t show up for work this morning, no message, nothing."
"She could have run an errand, what’s the problem."
"The problem is I’m at her apartment. Her car is here, but it doesn’t appear that she slept here last night. A neighbor puts her here around 7 p.m. but that’s the last time she’s been seen."
"Mulder." Skinner cleared his throat, "Has it occurred to you that Agent Scully might have had a date and didn’t stay at her apartment because of said date? I mean, she’s of consenting age and might have a personal reason for being late this morning."
Mulder stood silent, no that thought had never crossed his mind. A date? Was Scully seeing someone, sleeping with someone? That thought caused a spasm of pain and he actually winced at the idea.
"Uh, no sir, I hadn’t . . . " God, he felt like a fool. Why was his automatic reaction that she was in danger and missing? Skinner was right and if she was seeing someone there was no reason for him to know. It was just . . .
"Mulder, I’m not saying your instincts are completely wrong, but I think you ought to give her a little time. She’s not actually missing officially and she was fine at 7 p.m. Since you’re at her apartment I’m assuming there’s no evidence of a problem." He shoved aside the question of how Mulder got into her apartment. He didn’t want to know.
"I, um, I see your point. I’ll . . . I’ll be back in the office shortly."
"I think that’s a good idea, Mulder. Keep me apprised of the situation. If it turns out that there is a problem, we’ll jump on it immediately."
And he was gone, the phone dead in Mulder’s hand. He sank onto her couch. A date? If so not a first one. Scully wouldn’t do that. He shoved thoughts of Ed Jerse away fiercely. Okay, if she were seeing someone then there should be evidence around here. No messages on the machine, how about notes? He rose and approached her desk. This didn’t feel right. This was a violation of her privacy but she was missing. Damn it, she was, regardless of Skinner’s take on the situation. If he found evidence of a relationship he’d be out of here in a shot. Until then he was going to search.
No notes or cards in the desk or bedside table. But there was a book, a journal. He held it for a moment then returned it to the drawer. No, only as a last resort. Going through her pajamas made him feel like a damn pervert but none of the sleepwear he was familiar with was missing. That didn’t mean that the sexy stuff wasn’t gone, she didn’t wear sexy stuff on their trips. Maybe she didn’t own any sexy nightwear, she didn’t need it. She was sexy enough – okay Mulder, get back on track.
Why had Skinner put these thoughts in his head? He had done much better thinking of her in danger. What did that show about him?
He wandered into the bathroom and checked it out. This was making him more uncomfortable by the minute. He was definitely invading her privacy now. And why was he noticing that there was no birth control anywhere in the apartment. She wasn’t able to have children anyway, and she might count on her partner for safe sex. He eased himself down on the side of her tub, needing to sit for a minute.
When he’d gone missing all those times, had she done this? Had she searched his apartment for clues? She wouldn’t have found any supplies there either. Not much call for them when you’re only watching videos. She knew about the videos, she’d almost teased him about them on occasion. Did she think he ever saw anyone? Did she think about him at all after hours?
Damn it Scully! Where are you? Screw ‘right to know’ he needed to know. It was Scully and he didn’t have a clue where she was or if she was all right. He rose to his feet again and squared his shoulders. The journal, he was going to read the thing, at least a little of it and . . . and pray she never found out.
Somehow he was back in her bedroom and had his hand on the drawer of her bedside table. God, this was going to get him killed. Well, so be it. He pulled the drawer open and removed the book. Where should he read it? Certainly not sitting on her bed, the living room. Yeah, he’d be better off it the living room.
Start at the end, just read enough to know if she had plans for the evening or . . . or something. He took a deep breath and opened the tome. With only minor hesitation he flipped to the back and began to read the entries in reverse order.
Well you seem to be back to your old self, the Mulder that has shared my life for good or evil these years, not wanting to talk about your experiences. You haven’t even mentioned Diana though I know you went to her memorial service. I didn’t, you didn’t invite me and I was afraid I’d make you uncomfortable with my presence. Now I know I’ll never understand your relationship, not that I should, that was between you and Diana and it’s none of my business. I’m just grateful you’re alive.
Well, no he hadn’t really wanted to get into the details with her, but she hadn’t acted like she wanted to. Was that just a facade to make him comfortable too?
Wait, that’s not the purpose of reading this. He was looking for clues about another man. He flipped back a few pages. It had been a while between entries. This was written while she was in Africa, searching for a way to help him.
I will continue here as long as I can, as long as you are beset by the haunting illness that consumes your beautiful mind.
He shut the book, she didn’t want him to read this as she hadn’t when she was ill. Besides he already knew there was no mention of another man, not if she were writing like this about him. He’d never put his feelings for her down on paper, for that matter he’d never acknowledged them to himself.
Oh he’d been attracted to her as a woman from the first moment he’d seen her, down in the basement office looking so young and . . . but that was just physical. Then he’d gotten to know her, see beyond the beauty to the exquisite person inside. That was the person he’d fallen in love with – Whoa! Back up Mulder, in love with? That’s a good way to get castrated by her. She hadn’t inflicted him with injury when he’d forgotten himself the other time only because he was lying in a hospital bed.
Okay, she was missing. She had not stayed over at some other man’s place. He’d known it all along, only his insecurities about her had allowed Skinner to play with his mind. There’s no way she could be with another man and he not know about it, feel it. Not anymore.
So back to the original question. What had happened to her and where was she? He ran through his sources in his mind. That list seemed to get shorter every day. Didn’t matter, bottom line was he had to find her, whatever it took.
There wasn’t anything he could do here, so reluctantly he left her apartment. He wasted no time getting to the guy’s place.
"Well, we were expecting to hear from you, but a visit . . . " Frohike opened the door finally after checking the monitor and disengaging the locks.
"Expecting me? Why?"
"Didn’t you get our message?" Byers looked up.
"No, what’s wrong?" He headed toward the computer.
"You know those trains you asked us to monitor? Well last night they went crazy. We had six of them converge in northern Virginia."
Mulder stopped in his tracks. "Shit! Do you know where they are now?"
"I think so." Byers turned back to his keyboard and began typing furiously.
"What is it? What’s up?" Langley moved closer to the activity.
"Scully’s missing." He said the words, but his thoughts were miles away, racing back to her abduction and her fragmented memories of the train.
"Scully? No." Frohike spoke, but all three had stopped and were watching him.
"What do you need us to do?" Langley broke the silence.
Mulder managed to move again, "Can you show me where they are?" He leaned over Byers, watching the screen. When the information appeared, he touched the screen as though the physical contact would give him the information he needed. The guys remained quiet giving him the time he needed.
Finally he removed his hand, taking a deep breath. "Do you have people you can mobilize to disrupt these trains?"
"What are you thinking Mulder?" Langly was watching him closely.
"I want to check out where I think they might be holding her. If I’m right, I’m going to need a distraction. I want all of their sites immobilized at once if possible. And it needs to be publicized – radical press, fringe press, hell even Sixty Minutes if they’ll come. Otherwise people could get hurt, we know the military is involved."
"You’ve never wanted to go public before." Byers commented.
"They’ve taken her again. I want to make her the most inconvenient abductee they can find. They need to know she’s off limits and I’ll come after them if they bother her."
"They might not want to play by the new rules." Langly cautioned.
"I’m not talking about going public. They know I have information I’ve held and I’ll continue holding it – if they leave her alone."
"Where’s this information stored Mulder?" Byers’ eyebrow had risen. Mulder tapped his forehead.
"Not what I would call the safest location." Frohike commented from the side.
Mulder came as close to a smile as they’d seen that day. "Probably not. Why don’t you let me use a laptop to put some things down while you contact your sources?"
Half an hour later Mulder handed Byers a disk. "You might want to put that in a safe place, for future reference."
"You think something might happen to you?"
He shrugged, "I’m going to get Scully back, whatever it takes. And I’m not waiting months like I did last time. I’m gonna get going, once I’ve confirmed her location, I’ll let you guys know and you can mobilize your troops."
"You want one of us to go with you?" Langly looked up from his computer.
"No. I don’t know how dangerous it’s going to be. I’d rather you be here to hold things together. Wait for my signal." All three of them nodded solemnly and he let himself out of the apartment.
He was pretty sure she was here, but he wasn’t willing to go on instinct. He needed proof before he made his move. Come on Scully, he needed a sign. Not exactly a lot of windows to peek through. He crawled under the train car; maybe he could hear something. No, nothing was coming through. Damn it!
He heard the door unseal and slid back into the shadows. The two men stood outside the train car and Mulder saw the flare of a lighter, then smelled the smoke of a cigarette. "You know we should be smarter than to keep smoking these."
"Yeah, but I’ve tried everything. The gum, the patch, we all gotta go sometime. Say, what’s with this woman we’re testing now? You’d think we had the queen or something."
"Don’t you remember, oh I guess you weren’t here last time we had her. She’s a very special case."
"I’m not sure exactly, at least medically. But she’s partners with that Mulder guy."
"Mulder? I thought he . . . "
"I don’t know if he’s as dangerous as they say, but they save the special tests for her. Last time we had her they pulled out all the stops, I was frankly surprised she survived."
Mulder’s hands had become fists and he was trying to regulate his breathing. But mostly he was trying to remember that cold-blooded murder was wrong. That was getting harder by the second. At least he knew she was here. He pulled out the signaling device Byers had given him. No noise, he couldn’t alert them that he was here. He pressed the button and held it for six seconds, off for six seconds and then on for another six. Now he had to make sure these two didn’t make it back inside.
The trank at this close range could kill them; he felt no remorse at that. Just so they made no noise when they went down. He watched with great satisfaction as they crumpled in front of him. He hauled them quickly under the train car to where he had been hiding. He stripped off the protective jumpsuit from the taller of the two men and pulled it on himself.
They’d only had her a couple of days this time, not months. They’d never take her again; not if he had to kill every one of them.
There was a disturbance now at the far end of the yard. Probably additional security if things were occurring as they should at the other sites. He made sure he was fully armed, pulled the hood over his head and entered the car.
He only saw one other person in the car, surely he wasn’t that lucky. Then he spotted her on the table. He froze, not again. She looked so pale. Not now, he had to get her out of here.
"About time you guys got back. If you give up those damn cancer sticks we’d get a lot more done. We got a signal that a couple of the other cars have been attacked, so they’ve ordered in security. You need to – who the hell – "
Damn, those tranks worked quick at this range. He’d have to congratulate Langley on his concoction. He moved over to Scully and carefully removed the needles from her arms.
"Scully? Can you hear me?" There was no response; not that he’d really expected one. He lifted her from the table and lay her across his shoulder. That left one hand free. No more tranks, from here on bullets. He wouldn’t be taking any more chances.
Apparently they thought security was most vital at the entrance to the yard. Well, that was to his advantage. He slipped out of the car with her. The two men he had hidden under the train were still out. He hurried away from the car, she weighed nothing, but that might be the adrenaline. Even climbing with her was no problem. He laid her down and made certain she was covered from sight then tested his route back. No one had bothered his car that he could tell, but it wouldn’t be long. He wondered how things were going at the other trains but it was a moot point right now.
Part of him wished he had brought someone with him, someone to get the car running so that they wouldn’t be exposed for as long as that took. The commotion was getting closer to the train car, but it would spread out as soon as they realized someone had actually made it that far. It was now or never.
He ensured the black cloth covered her completely and headed for the car, staying in the shadows. Was he this lucky or was there really no one in this area? Well, he was in the only open area; they’d have to kill him to take her.
He had the back door open and shoved her in. He didn’t have time to be gentle and he’d apologize later. Before he could get the door shut he felt the gun against his skull.
Don’t think Mulder, react. Save her life. He spun - not what the guy holding the gun to his head expected. Mulder’s own gun was now pressing into this guy’s gut. Without hesitation he pulled the trigger. The silencer the guys had given him worked perfectly. They had been concerned it would throw off his aim, not at this distance.
The black clad commando sank to the ground with a look of total disbelief. No one else appeared out of the darkness. That didn’t cause him to remove his finger from the trigger. He unclipped the radio from the dead man’s belt and tossed it into the front seat. He started the car with his left hand, no grinding of gears, it purred like a kitten – where had the guys found this car? Had they stolen it? It didn’t matter.
He left the road then and headed back to the fence that he’d opened earlier. If they weren’t there already they would be soon, the radio traffic was mostly in some sort of military code and becoming exceedingly frantic, they must have reached the train car by now.
He saw no one in his way headed toward the fence, of course he hadn’t seen the guy that had found him either. Well, he should be damn hard to spot in the dark with no lights in this black car.
He was through the fence, now he was ready to put some distance between them and this place. Mulder didn’t see the man stationed slightly up the rise, away from where he was headed. He didn’t see the two bodies at his feet or the salute the man sent in his direction as he raced away.
She was no longer missing; whatever damage had been done was less than they deserved. He’d get her some help, but he wouldn’t be leaving her side anytime soon.