He straightened up when he spotted the tall brunette walking toward him. The skirt was a little too short and the blouse a little too tight, but he shoved those thoughts aside as she noticed him. She moved quickly in his direction.
"Okay, what the hell are we doing here?" He asked, his voice bordering on anger.
"Is this a place anyone would think to look for you, Fox?"
"That's why we're here. Even that little partner - "
"Stop. My 'little partner' is not a topic of conversation. You said you needed some information Diana. What is it?"
"We were sent a file today, possibly an X-File, and I wanted to go over it with you."
"Not Spender?" He spoke snidely, but she ignored it.
"Let's get a cup of coffee, Fox. This doesn't have to take that long if you're so anxious to get back to - "
She turned away then and took a seat on the outskirts of the food court. He heaved a put-upon sigh and went to get two coffees. Of course he remembered how she liked it; she knew that and didn't bother to say anything.
When he sat, she leaned toward him, crossing her legs and began giving him the information on the case she’d received.
He knew she was still talking, but he was hearing Scully’s voice in his head. This was no X-File, surely Diana could see that. Why was he even here?
Something caught his eye and he turned. What the . . . he tuned Diana out completely. That little girl . . .
“Fox? Fox, are you listening to me?”
“I have to . . . I’ll give you a call later. There’s something - “ He was on his feet, moving away from her already.
She looked in the direction he was moving. What was that about? He’d looked like he’d seen a ghost. There was no one that seemed that interesting. There was a middle age woman, window shopping, a couple of teenage girls probably playing hooky this time of day. He was already out of sight. Damn! She had hoped that this would turn into drinks or even dinner. She’d gotten him away from that, from Scully and still he’d slipped away.
Mulder hurried down the walkway. His strides were long enough to catch up with the child quickly. It wasn’t Emily. He knew that, but he couldn’t stop himself. She hadn’t seemed to notice him; she was just heading down the huge walkway.
He was close now. There was no evidence that anyone was with her, but whoever she was, she was too young to here alone.
What the hell. “Emily?”
She stopped and turned to look at him, smiling slightly.
“Uh, Emily? Where, where’s your Mommy?”
“She’s not here right now.” She held out her hand to him and he took it. Damn, anyone watching would think he was some kind of pedophile stalking her.
“Where are you going?”
“The costume shop.”
“Costume?” This wasn’t happening. He wasn’t having a conversation with Emily, Scully’s Emily. Even if . . . if Emily had lived, she’d be older. And she hadn’t lived. Okay, the body had been stolen, but she had been dead. He’d been there.
“Oh.” This was not happening. Who was this little girl, and where were her parents?
She smiled up at him when she stopped in front of the store. Was there always a costume shop? He hadn’t been in a shopping mall in . . . hell, when had he last been in a mall?
She tugged on his hand, leading him inside. “Do you know what kind of costume you want?” He asked, at a loss for conversation. ‘Are you a ghost?’ didn’t seem appropriate.
She shrugged. He looked around. “Hey, how about a pumpkin.”
“That’s for babies.”
“No it’s not. My sister wore one. She had green tights and this puffy pumpkin suit. And she had a green stem hat.”
“Did she like it?”
He blinked at that, “Uh, no. I think she hated it.”
Emily nodded as though that proved her theory.
“Okay, how about a ghost?” He set a package swinging that showed a Casper- like sheet on the front. What kind of reaction would that question garner?
The look she gave him was of pure scorn. Her eyebrow was raised and she looked just like . . .
“Uh, right. You don’t look like the witch type and you don’t have a black cat. What about a princess?” He pointed and she turned in that direction. He was rewarded with a bright smile. “And a tiara. You’d look even more beautiful than you do right now.”
She looked down but he saw the shy smile.
“What about you?”
“Me? I don’t know. What kind of costume would look good on me? Something ‘spooky'?” He asked curiously. Anything to continue the conversation.
“Not Mr. Potato Head again.” She grinned.
He had to grab the display to stay upright. No way! This was not Emily, but . . .
“May I help you?” He looked up at the young woman that had walked over.
“Uh, no. We’re just looking.” He glanced down and saw that Emily was no longer beside him. “Emily?” He looked around and took a step toward the door. “Do you see her?” He glanced over at the clerk.
“The girl, the little girl that was with me.”
“I’m sorry, what little girl?”
Mulder stared at her for second. “The little blond girl that was standing right here. We were looking at the costumes.”
“Yeah, right.” She started to smile, but when he didn’t return it she backed up a step. “Mister, there was no one with you. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You didn’t see the little blond girl holding my hand?”
“You came in here alone. Believe me, I noticed.”
He looked into her eyes then. She was telling the truth. What the hell had happened? Was he hallucinating? “Thank you.”
He left the store and stood just outside, looking up and down the walk way. It wasn’t that crowded, and she couldn’t have gotten that far. She was just a little kid.
After a short, but fruitless search, he finally turned and walked to the nearest exit.
He was stretched out on the couch when he heard the knock. He started to ignore it, but at the second, firmer knock, he sighed and rose.
“Mulder? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You’re fine? You called in sick. You’ve never called in sick.”
He shrugged, but moved to allow her entry. She walked past him, then turned to look up at him. “Do you have a fever?” Her hand came up, but he evaded her, closing the door and moving back to the couch.
“I just needed the day.”
She stared at him for a long moment, making him even more uncomfortable. “I thought we were past the ‘ditching me’ phase.”
“I didn’t ditch - “
“You left early yesterday without an explanation and . . . “
She was watching him, waiting. What the hell could he say? Finally she seemed to deflate slightly.
“Fine.” She turned toward the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Scully, don’t - “ She didn’t turn back. “Scully!” The door was shut, she was gone. Part of him wanted to go after her, but there was nothing he could say. The way she was acting, it was like she thought he was with Diana or something. That was ridiculous, he . . . wait a minute, he had been with Diana! Damn, he’d completely forgotten her. Maybe she’d seen . . .
He dialed Diana’s extension.
“Uh, when?” She asked cautiously.
There was a pause, “Where?”
“It may take me a little while to get there.”
“I’ll wait.” He broke the connection.
He stood from his seat on the stairs when he saw her approaching the memorial. “Thanks.”
“What’s going on? You all but ran away from me yesterday.” She sounded annoyed. “Have you thought about the case?”
“Wha - ? No, no there was no case there. I wanted to ask you about something else.”
Her eyes hardened. Okay, she’d known there was no X-File, but for him to dismiss it so -
“. . . at the mall. Did you see her?”
“See who? What are you talking about?”
Mulder took a deep breath to ground himself. “Yesterday when we were at the mall, did you notice a little blond girl? She was by herself. Did you see her?”
Diana found herself wanting to step back away from his intensity. “No. I didn’t see any little girl. Who is she?”
Mulder’s shoulders slumped. “Nobody, I . . .” He was looking past her now, standing at full attention. “Shit, Diana, do you see that little girl, the blond over there.” He pointed.
“Yes, of course I do.”
“Stay right here. Don’t leave.” He was hurrying toward the child. Diana’s hands were on her hips, disbelief that he was racing off again plain on her face.
“Emily?” He stopped well back from the child, not wanting to frighten her away.
She turned and looked up at him. “Hi, Fox.” She smiled at him, then approached and took his hand again. He led her to a bench.
“Why did you leave yesterday? It worried me.”
She shrugged and looked over at the steps where Diana stood waiting out of earshot. “You’re with her again.”
“Who, Diana? She’s okay.”
“I don’t like her.”
Mulder took a long look at her. “There’s a lot of your mother in you.” He said dryly. She cut her eyes at him but didn’t comment.
“Okay,” he had to keep her talking, “why don’t you like her?”
“She fibs a lot.”
Mulder blinked at that, “Diana . . . fibs?”
Emily nodded, “A lot, and all the time to you.”
The little girl shrugged, and looked away. He decided to change tactics.
“Emily, why are you coming to see me? I know your Mom - “
He stopped when she shook her head. “She wouldn’t believe.”
He actually chuckled then. “You’re a very smart little girl. Would, would you like me to give her a message for you?”
She looked at him for a long moment, then smiled, “Yes, tell her she’ll make a great mommy.”
“What? No, Honey, she can’t . . . “ The look in her eyes stopped him. “Scully’s going to . . . “
“Fox, what’s going on?” Diana’s voice right behind him caught him off guard.
“Not now.” He glanced at her then immediately back to Emily. She was gone. “No!” He cried out, startling Diana. “What have you done?” His head swiveled searching in vain for the girl. “Do you see her?”
“No, when I realized she was gone I came over. Who is she?”
“She wasn’t . . . Damn it!” He stalked off, leaving Diana standing there sputtering.
“Emily? Emily can you hear me?” He called once he was out of Diana’s hearing.
She couldn’t have gotten away, not if she was just a little girl. Finally, defeated again, he returned to his car.
Now what was he supposed to do? He slammed his hand against the steering wheel. This made no sense. Why would Emily come to him? If he saw her again that would be his first question.
Would he see her again? Why had he seen her twice already? Was she here to tell him something? That Diana was a liar? In her line of work she probably had to blur the edges often. ‘All the time to you’ - what did that mean?
He headed home, not wanting to talk to anyone. Losing his mind wasn't nearly as much fun as he'd hoped. He parked outside of his apartment building and headed for the door, head down, his mind very far away.
Turning the corner, he spotted her sitting on the steps. He was at her side in seconds. "Emily, you need to stop disappearing like that."
She merely smiled.
"Come on inside, it's cold out here."
She shook her head, so he sat beside her on the steps. He took a deep breath and looked down at her. "Emily, I'm delighted to see you, but why are you here?"
She met his eyes then, "Mommy asked for some help. She's very worried about you."
"About me? I didn't think she was speaking to me."
Emily cut her eyes at him. "She thinks you don't believe her, that you don't trust her any more."
That declaration stunned him. "You know that's not true. I trust her with my life."
"Did you tell her?"
"We, we're having trouble talking lately."
"You need to tell her she's the one you really believe."
He just stared at the girl for a long moment. Her big blue eyes didn't waiver. Finally he nodded, "I promise."
"Good." She started to rise.
"Wait. Is . . . is Scully really going to have a baby?"
The little girl's face lit up with her smile.
"But . . . we've, she's been told . . . "
"A lot of changes are coming. You need to trust Mommy and she needs to know she can trust you. Okay?”
“Can you tell me about the changes?”
She shook her head. “You’ll be okay if you’re with Mommy. Be real careful around the other one.”
“Isn’t there more you could . . . “
“Buy the good candy for trick or treat this year.” She grinned up at him and then before his eyes, began to fade.
“Emily, Emily, please, don’t go yet.”
“Trust Mommy, don’t forget.” And she was gone.
Trust Scully. He did, he had since almost the very beginning. ‘A lot of changes’, what did that mean?
He jumped as his cell phone rang. “Mulder.”
Skinner’s voice surprised him. “I need you over here. We have a foreign scholar murdered at American University. Have you ever heard of a Dr. Merkmallen?”