She woke the next morning on the couch, having fallen asleep while she waited for Mulder’s call. That was strange; first that he hadn’t called and second that she hadn’t had a nightmare. She’d have bet heavily on a bad one last night.
She hesitated only an instant, then picked up the phone to call him. He needed to know what had happened. Maybe he’d gotten in so late that he hadn’t wanted to disturb her.
When his machine picked up she felt her first twinge of unease. He should be home at this time of day. Maybe he was in the shower; she left a short message for him to call her. She’d give him fifteen minutes.
When she tried again and got the machine she knew something was definitely wrong. She had no evidence, but she could feel it in her gut. Even if there was some good reason he wasn’t at home, he’d have made a point of keeping his promise to call. The last thing he’d want was for her to be worried about him. She quickly dressed and headed for her car.
His car was there, but there was no answer to her knock so she headed back down to the super’s apartment. The middle aged man, heavyset and balding, opened the door and whatever he’d been about to say stuck in his throat when he obviously recognized her. She seized the advantage. “Do you know who I am?”
“I need to check on Dr. Mulder, apartment 42. He’s not answering his phone or the door and I’m afraid something’s happened to him. Would you please let me in?”
“Uh, yeah, okay. Just a minute.” He grabbed up his keys, hiked his pants up and followed her back to the elevator. “I’m Stan. Are you, uh, seeing Dr. Mulder?”
“Yeah, okay.” He didn’t seem to know anything else to say, so he shut up but continued to gawk at her for the entire ride, which seemed to take forever. She hurried from the elevator as soon as the doors opened and rushed to his apartment. The super took his time, but finally stood beside her at the door.
“Uh, you know, I’m not sure - “
“I won’t go in alone. You’re here. I’m not going to take anything, I just want to make sure he’s not in there hurt or something.”
“Yeah, right. Okay.” He slipped his key into the lock and opened the door. He stepped inside first, but she pushed around him.
“Oh my god.” There had obviously been a struggle. She spotted what looked like blood on the corner of the coffee table and grasped for composure. “We have to call 911.”
Stan reached for the phone but she stopped him. “Fingerprints. We’ll use mine.” She withdrew her cell phone and punched in the emergency number. Once she was assured the police were on the way, she turned back to the older man. “I’m going to wait here. If you have anything you need to do . . . “
“I’ll wait with you. It was a weird night, and I don’t feel right leaving you here alone.”
“Thank you. What do you mean, weird?”
“It was just one of those nights. A little after 10 the power went out - “
“You had a blackout in this area?” she asked quickly.
“No, just this building. That was part of the weirdness. I looked out the windows and all the buildings around still had power. I headed down to the basement with my flashlight, you know, to check the fuses and while I was down there . . . I know there ain’t no earthquakes in New York City, but it must have been one hell of a truck that drove by. Then, without me doing nothin’ the lights come back on.” He shook his head.
“You, you said this happened around 10?”
“Yeah, I was watchin’ the fight.”
She nodded, distracted now. After she had talked to her father . . . oh god, what had she done?
The police didn’t take long to arrive though it seemed that way to her. They took her statement and Stan’s and because of the disarray, called in a crime scene investigative team.
“What should I do?” Dana cornered one of the plain clothed men that arrived. She was tired of standing in the hall, being told nothing.
“Well, you need to let these people do their work. There’s not a whole lot to do until we can find some evidence. Do you have numbers for his family? Maybe he was able to contact them. We need to contact them ourselves.”
Dana nodded, but she knew with a certainty that shook her that she was the person he would have called if he could. “I have his sister’s number, but please, may I talk with her first? She shouldn’t hear this . . . “
“Okay, but, I’ll need to talk to her too. Here’s my card. Have her call me.”
“Of course. Thank you.” They were herding her out of the place now. Damn it, she needed to do something. Her shoulders drooped then -- Samantha. She already didn’t like her; hearing this from her would only make that worse, but she couldn’t let her hear this from a stranger. She took the elevator down and jerked back at the presence of a man entering the car before she could exit. It Stan was motioning her to step back. “What?”
“There’s a bunch of photographers out there.”
“How? How did they know I was here?”
“I don’t know, ma’am. They were there when I got downstairs. Do you want to go out the alley?”
“I can’t. My car’s out front.”
An idea suddenly came to her and she turned back to Stan. “Is one of them short, sleazy looking with a ponytail?”
“Uh, yeah, he was over to the side, keeping an eye on some Lexus.”
“My car. Yes, that would be him.” She dug through her purse and found an old receipt and a pen. She scribbled something on the back of the paper and squared her shoulders. “I’ll be back. Thank you for your help.”
“Oh, sure. If you need anything . . . “
Dana nodded and squeezed his wrist by way of thanking him and headed for the door. The flashbulbs started immediately. She headed toward her car, ignoring them. She spotted the photographer she was looking for. He was a jerk, always yelling for her to look at him, wanting more and getting too close for her comfort. He’d actually caused some friends to be in an accident, chasing them for ‘that shot’. He was doing it again now.
As she got to her car, she fumbled her keys, dropping them to the sidewalk. As she had anticipated he reached down, blocking her and preventing her from picking them up herself. He smiled his smarmy smile as he offered them to her. He could use some dental work, though the small diamond in his front tooth had to be his own idea.
“Thank you,” she said icily and took them, leaving the receipt in his hand. He glanced down, then crumpled the paper so that no one else would see it. He slipped back away from the others. She got into her car and drove off without a backward glance.
She headed for her apartment. She needed to get in touch with Samantha. After locking herself in, she pulled out her PDA and found Samantha’s number. If she wasn’t at home . . . no, don’t borrow trouble.
Samantha picked up on the third ring. “Hello?”
“Samantha, it’s Dana Scully.”
“Uh, Dana, yes?”
“Have you heard from Mu-Fox today?”
“No. He’s probably at work.”
“No, he’s not. I’m afraid there’s a problem.”
“Problem? What are you talking about?”
“Fox had a meeting last night. We didn’t see each other, but he was supposed to call me when he got home. He didn’t and I fell asleep. This morning I tried to reach him and when I couldn’t, I went to his apartment. His superintendent let me in his apartment - “
“You broke in?”
“Not exactly, and Stan was with me. Samantha, there had been a, a struggle. We called the police, but, but Fox seems to be missing.”
“Missing,” she repeated the word as thought she didn’t understand it. “What kind of struggle?”
“The police were still working there when I left. I didn’t want to get in the way. The detective gave me his number. He wants you to call him.”
“I’m coming down. I have to call Mom and Dad and find someone to keep the kids - “
“Samantha, you’re too upset to drive into town.”
“I have to - “
“Let me send a car for you. That will give you time to make arrangements for the children and you won’t have to worry about driving or parking. Samantha, please, let me do this.”
There was silence on the other end for a moment, then “Thank you, yes. I, I’d appreciate it.”
“Call John, get yourself together. We’re going to find him.”
“Ye-yes, we will. I need to go.”
“Of course. Let me give you my cell phone number, 646-555-8540. Make a note of it. You can always reach me at that number.”
“Dana . . . thank you.”
“I’ll see you in a little while. Go on now.” Dana heard the call disconnect and closed her eyes. She had more to do.
She hurried to her bedroom and shoved the loveseat aside, then lifted the rug and exposed the safe in the floor. She fed in the code and opened it. She pulled out one copy of the picture of the smoking man and slipped it into her bag.
She drove over the Mulder’s office and parked in the garage. This might be stupid, but she needed to do something and she knew one of the things this man wanted was anonymity.
She spotted the photographer when he pulled his car into the slot across from hers. His car chugged to a halt finally and she heard the door creak as he opened it. She took a deep breath and stepped out of her car.
“I didn’t know whether to believe you or not.”
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Lowry.”
“Call me Pete. ’I need a favor, meet me in the parking lot where you got the shots of me and the mystery hunk’. How could I resist?”
“That’s what I was counting on,” she said dryly.
“What’s going on?”
“The mystery hunk, his name is Dr. Fox Mulder - “
“Do you want to hear this?”
“Sorry, sure, go ahead.”
“Last night he was abducted from his apartment. That’s why I was over there; I called the police.”
“And I know who was responsible, but I have no proof. He’s not going to come forward and I want him flushed out.”
“I still don’t know what you want from me.”
She pulled the picture from her bag. “I want his picture everywhere. Can you get it in the papers, with a message that he’s wanted for interrogation in connection with Dr. Mulder’s disappearance? I want it everywhere.”
“If I do this favor, what do I get?”
“When Dr. Mulder is returned, I’ll give you an exclusive photo shoot of the two of us.”
Pete appraised her slowly. “Why do you think this guy was involved?”
“I’m not going into that. I just know it. Can you make him famous?”
“What’s his name?”
“I haven’t been able to find out.”
“Are you kidding?”
“No. Are you going to help me?”
Pete looked down at the picture again, studying it. “Where was this taken?”
“I don’t want anyone to know that. Can you disguise the background? Make it anonymous?”
“This is important to you.”
“Yes it is. I want Dr. Mulder returned, unharmed. This man can do that, I’m sure of it.”
He eyed her for a long moment. Finally he tucked the picture into his pocket. “Yeah, I can do it. I have some people that owe me. I’ll be in touch.”
“Thank you.” She turned then and got back in her car. He was still standing there watching her as she pulled out.
The driver brought Samantha to Dana’s apartment. Dana was waiting downstairs and brought her up immediately.
“Have you heard anything?” Samantha asked as soon as the door was closed.
“Nothing. We need to go to the station. They want to talk to you too. Have you talked to your parents?”
“Not yet, John thought . . . I wanted to have all the information. They’re going to be devastated.”
Dana nodded, not sure what to say. She told her then about everything that she had found that morning. Samantha was pale when she finished, but quiet. “Is John coming?” Dana asked.
“Not yet. He’ll keep the children.”
“You’re more than welcome to stay here tonight. You don’t want to have to commute back and forth to the city. I’ll arrange for a car to take you home tomorrow.”
“I can’t impose.”
Dana looked away for a moment. “We need to get to the station. I know you’re anxious to find out everything you can.”
Samantha searched her face. “You’re in love with him.”
“What? I, we’re friends.”
Samantha didn’t respond, so Dana picked up her bag. “The driver is still downstairs. It’s easier that way.”
Samantha nodded and followed her to the elevator.
The interview at the station told them little more, but Samantha realized that with Dana there, at least they were taking it seriously.
They returned to the apartment hours later, exhausted mentally if not physically. Samantha sank down onto the couch. “I can’t believe this. Why Fox? All those questions about enemies, former patients . . . “ She shook her head, then let it fall back on the couch.
Dana remained silent. Her guilt level had risen steadily, but then she was used to dealing with that. She only had suspicions about those answers, but she couldn’t bring them up, not yet anyway. “Do you think you can eat anything?”
Samantha looked over at her. “Do you cook?”
“No,” Dana gave her a small smile, “but I order with the best. I’ll have them send something up from downstairs. Any dietary restraints?”
“No, just something light though. I’m not hungry.”
Dana nodded and moved to the phone. When she hung up she turned back to Samantha. “It’ll just be a few minutes. Do you want to freshen up?”
“Through there. Yell if you can’t find what you need.”
Samantha seemed to appraise her for just an instant, then rose and disappeared into the guest bath. If her eyes were a little red when she emerged, Dana made no comment. She hadn’t cried yet; fear kept her from it. If she started, would she be able to stop? Samantha’s words came back to her. ‘You’re in love with him.’ Was it true? She didn’t know anything about that particular emotion. His company made her feel warm, safe and, and happy. That was unprecedented as far as she was concerned. Her memories of past relationships seemed to focus on want, need, jealousy, and one-up-man-ship.
The food arrived then, so Dana set about putting it out on the table. She’d ordered two steak Caesar salads. Samantha nodded and took a seat at the table. She tasted the salad and nodded. “This is just what I needed. Thank you.”
“I’m glad to do it. I wish I could do more.”
“You don’t - “
“It’s a fine line with me. I don’t want you to think I’m trying to buy your friendship.”
“Do people expect that of you?”
“Some do. Some want me to,” she sighed.
“And what category do you put me in? Are we friends?” Samantha asked, taking another bite.
“I think . . . not yet, but I hope we can be. You’re very important to Mu-Fox.”
“I wasn’t very nice to you when he brought you to the house.”
Dana shrugged. “That’s kind of understandable. I didn’t take offense. You didn’t, you don’t know me. If all I knew was what I’d read . . . I wouldn’t let me in the house.”
“That’s not . . . but I am sorry. Fox is important to me too. It’s not a requirement that I be friends with a woman he wants to date - “
“I believe it is, Samantha, whether you realize it or not.”
Tears filled Samantha’s eyes. “He’s my big brother. I adore him.”
Dana nodded and squeezed the other woman’s hand. “I know you do and I don’t blame you. He talks about you all the time. The kids are the light of his life.”
Samantha nodded. “I’ve always thought he’d make a great father.”
“I’m sure he will someday. We are going to get him back, Samantha. We have to.”
Samantha nodded and Dana watched her gather herself and turn back to her meal. They ate in silence then. When they were through Samantha helped her clean up then they headed for the couch.
“I have a Jacuzzi, if you’d like to relax, or some wine - “
“Thanks, no. I wish I thought I could sleep.”
Dana shook her head. “Contrary to published reports I don’t have much here that will help you; maybe some Tylenol PM.”
Samantha chuckled then. “How about some warm milk?”
“Now that I can do. Why don’t we get in our jammies and meet back here.”
Instead of rising Samantha took a long look at Dana. “You know, I think there is a chance we could be friends.”
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.