Chapter 4

March 23rd,

Sarah's place

"Well, my little slut, I'd like some entertainment before dinner." Charles turned away from the handcuffed agent. Even if his weapon was here somewhere, he wouldn't be able to reach it. He grinned. "Oh, don't look at me like that. Hey, and don't look through me!" he added harshly and took the chin of his wife in his big right hand. "Look at me ! He's nothin' more than a load of shit, and I'll smash him to pulp if you look at him again, got it?"

"Don't hurt him," Sarah managed to say as his grip tightened. She could see the predicament the agent was in, and she knew what would come if she didn't obey her husband. "I'll do what you say, but leave him alone."

"Oh, really, you're pleading for him? How sweet of you." Charles took his hand away, giving Mulder a mocking look. "She's such a lovely woman, don't ya think?" Gleeful, he bent over Mulder's face. "She's fucking good, right?"

Mulder felt the urge to do something, but he wasn't even able to focus. The strain on his arms extended to the stitched-up wound on his waist, and the only thing he tried was to stay conscious in spite of the pain.

"If you're her husband, you'd treat her like a lady," he pressed between gritted teeth.

"And you gonna teach me manners, hum?" Charles laughed. "'Tis not your fucking business anymore, jackass." He turned away. "Now, honey-bunny, let me see what you're wearin' under those clothes..."

Mulder clenched his fists. He hated his helplessness and the way Sarah was being deprived of her dignity as a woman. She was completely under her husband's control, unable to help herself. She wouldn't run. Not with her daughter in the house somewhere. He hadn't seen where Sarah had hidden her, but he hoped the place was safe. Now Mulder understood why Roberta hadn't said a word about her father. The experience must have been a torment of a lifetime to her.

He swallowed hard. Sarah had opened her skirt and dropped it on the floor. She wore no stockings, just pink panties. Charles' face was flushed with excitement. He probably thrived on holding her in the palm of his hand. She stared at the floor, bit her lips to hold back tears, and continued to take her clothes off.

Mulder felt the slow burn of his anger. Anything he might say would likely make the situation worse -- for himself and for Sarah. But he had to try and divert Charles attention somehow.

"You know, Charles, she really is no longer yours. She's been mine for a long time." Though said softly, Charles' head spun around as if the words had hit him square in the face.

"Say that again, asshole!"

Sarah looked at Mulder in shock.

"I said, I took her long ago. As she said - anyone's an improvement." He tried to sound convincing; he didn't need to worry. Charles was eager to work his fists on the agent's face.

"No!" Sarah shouted.

"Run!" Mulder ordered her, squinting his eyes shut. His head would explode any second now. He wouldn't be able to do more. She had a chance to flee the house. She'd know where to hide. Know where to go. He'd heard the snorting of a horse. Maybe…

Charles' turned on his heels, shouting,

"You stay here, Sarah Jenkins, or I'll kill him for sure!" Sarah stopped on the threshold, crying, unable to turn back. She bit her lip, but couldn't avoid sobbing. "Turn 'round and come back in." Sarah's chin dropped to her chest. He had won. As always. There was nothing she could do. He'd do with her what he wanted. Until she was defeated and he was satisfied. And this time he'd do it with more glee because of the agent watching him, defeated.

Slowly she stepped closer again, risked a look at Mulder. His lower lip was bleeding, his eyes were closed, and she hoped for him he was out cold, and wouldn't hear or see what Charles did to her. She was so ashamed of herself standing there in her underwear, she wanted the Earth to open and swallow her.

"Now, now, don't behave like a frightened little rabbit, my precious baby, there's more to you than crying, right?" Sarah lifted her chin. Charles clenched and unclenched his fists. Hitting Mulder hadn't been more than a warm-up for him. She swallowed, knowing by the look on his face what he was thinking when he closed the small gap between them. She shivered, but she would take any punishment from her former husband as long as Roberta was safe. She hoped her girl had taken off by now. Even if her daughter spent the night outdoors it would be better than staying here. She wished she could be there, too.

March 23rd,

Harper's farm

"Agent Scully?" She turned and faced the officer, who ran to her. "Agent Scully, sheriff's on the walkie talkie for you."

She took the radio from the man standing at the car.

"Got a frightened little girl o'er here at Marten's, Agent Scully. Thought we'd better check. She's from the Jenkins' house, and her mother sent her away because of trouble."

"What kind of trouble?" Scully feared that there was still a murderer on the loose.

"Didn't say. But she mentioned your partner - Mulder. Over at Jenkins. Said he was hurt pretty badly."

"How bad?"

"No idea. Mrs. Jenkins took care of him."

"How far away is the Jenkin's house?"

"Ask Mike, he'll get you there. It's no more than a forty minute drive from Harper's."

Scully thanked him and asked Mike to take her over and call for back-up. Whatever trouble that little girl had described, she would be prepared for it.

March 23rd,

Sarah's place

Charles grabbed Sarah's breasts, kneaded them. His breathing was close to her face.

"You're a wonderful woman," he muttered, while he roughly kissed her neck and collarbone. Sarah stood still, bit her lip. This was just the beginning. Kissing, kneading… kissing again, but then… "Touch me," he ordered. Sarah hesitated. Charles kissed her mouth, forced his tongue inside. She didn't dare to retreat. Memories of what he had been done to her the last time they had met flooded her. More tears welled up. Charles bent back. "Come on, baby, touch me", he repeated hoarsely, leading her hand between his legs. Sarah swallowed, tried to free her hand. She couldn't do what he wanted. She felt already sick from his odour, and kisses, and the taste of cold smoke he had left in her mouth. Charles nostrils flared with anger. "I said 'touch me'!" he shouted and hit her with his palm in the face. Tears of pain sprang into Sarah's eyes. She hid her face behind her hands. "You do what I say, got it? I am your husband, for God's sake!"

"You're no husband, Charles, you're a rapist!" Mulder shouted into Charles' back. "You never cared for her! I do!"

"Shut the fuck up!"

"Just look at you! You claim to love her, but you only beat her!" Mulder felt his heartbeat in his ears, and through the pain he was hardly able to see or hear what was happening, but he felt the urge to do something, to give Sarah a second chance. He knew his strength wouldn't last much longer. "How could anyone love a monster like you?"

"Monster? I'll show you what a monster can do to you !"

Charles turned around, ready to finish what he had begun minutes ago.

"No!" Sarah clung to his right arm. "No, Charles, don't!" He shoved her off, headed towards the closet. "Please, Charles, leave him alone! You handcuffed him! He can't do anything! Please…"

"Shut up!" Charles pushed her back, but she remained on her feet. His face was flushed with anger when he opened the first drawer. "I'll find your gun, G-man! You better start reciting your last prayer!"

"No!" Sarah pushed the drawer shut, trapping the fingers of Charles' right hand. He screamed, freed himself, and pushed her back so hard she landed on her backside. But with the horrible pictures of Mulder and herself covered with blood she found the strength to get up again. Charles rummaged through the second drawer, throwing out towels and wash clothes. Sarah looked around for anything that could be used as a weapon when Charles took out the Smith & Wesson with apparent satisfaction. "Charles, don't!" She grabbed at the holster, tried to yank it out of his big hands. They struggled with each other. Sarah bit Charles' hand. He lost his grip, screaming,

"Stop it or I punch your lights out!"

Sarah didn't listen. She would stay the course to get this damned weapon away from her husband! Somehow. She had to. Or Charles would kill them both.

But her victory was short-lived. Charles grabbed her hair, pulled her down when she tried to break away. Sarah screamed in pain, but he held fast.

"You're not goin' nowhere, you slut!" He twisted her arm to get the weapon back, then shoved her against the closet. Dizzy, Sarah slid to the floor. Charles fumbled with the snap fastener to pull the pistol out. He had never handled a gun before, and he was too excited to hear anything else but his own breathing and the thin whining of his once-beloved Sarah. He brought the weapon out. Dropped the holster. Wetting his lips he locked eyes with Mulder. "No last words?"

Mulder had been swimming in and out of consciousness. He had heard Sarah scream, but hadn't seen her run away. He hoped she made it. He breathed heavily, tried to focus on Charles, but only saw the muzzle of his spare weapon aimed straight at his head. 'Hey, Scully, how are you gonna to get me out of this bit of trouble?'

Outside three police cars had stopped in front of the house.

Scully got out of the first car, and pulled out her gun, ready to aim it at anyone who made a false move. A second interrogation of Roberta Jenkins had made clear that the 'trouble' came from the father of the child, and that he was at the house now with Roberta's mother, Sarah. The sheriff had praised the girl for her courage to ride for help, but Scully had only listened with one ear, eager to get to her partner, who seemed to be in more serious trouble than being attacked by a rejected husband.

With two officers as back-up Scully entered the house through the main door. Following the muffled shouts she pointed to the door of the small room behind the living room. They positioned themselves at the door frames and entered on the agent's command with guns drawn.

"Freeze!" the officer shouted before seeing what was going on.

Charles swung around, aiming the pistol at Scully. Judging by the big man's grim face, she expected him to pull the trigger, so she shot first. The bullet hit his right shoulder, and he went down screaming, dropping his gun. Quickly one officer was at his side, kicking the gun away while Scully rushed to her partner.

"Mulder…" She changed the pistol for the keys and opened the handcuffs. "Mulder, do you hear me?" She gently put his arms down to his sides. Automatically, she checked his pulse. He moaned.

"Good to see you. Took the tour bus?" His voice was barely audible, but she was glad he was conscious.

"Yeah. Beautiful landscape." She looked over her shoulder to Charles, who was being helped up and accompanied outside. The second officer gave Sarah a hand. She was crying again, asking,

"What about Roberta? My little girl? Did you find my little girl?"

"Go… help her," Mulder urged his partner. She briefly pressed his fingers, then turned around to address the woman, not without first ordering a third policeman to call an ambulance.

"Yes, Roberta is safe," she said in her calm voice. "She's at the Marten's farm. She's fine."

"Thank God!" Sarah was crying with relief now. She fumbled with her blouse and skirt to put them on. "You're his partner?" she asked softly, tears still streaming down her cheeks. Scully nodded. She pitied the woman, but there was nothing she could do right now. And it seemed to her that the only relief and joy for this woman was her child. "It was you shooting?" Again Scully nodded. "Thank God. I.. tried to get the weapon away from him, but…" Sarah wiped her face and looked at Mulder with a feeble smile. "I… I took him in. He's… he was unconscious and… hurt. I couldn't call for help and…" She broke off with a helpless gesture.

"You did the right thing, Sarah. He could've died out there." Scully took Mulder's fingers in her hand. "Thank you for your help." Sarah nodded and left the room asking the officer to get her to her daughter. "Why are you always in trouble?" she asked Mulder softly, who wetted his lips for an answer.

"Someone has to be."

From Agent Scully's report to AD Skinner:

Foreman Brendan Tresgood reported to police that James Harper, his long-time employer, had been with suffering from a mental disorder for more than five years, and had apparently stopped taking his medicine after his wife Myra died two and a half years ago. Harper had begun to see 'servants from Hell', as he described them, who wanted to "get him" because he hadn't been able to save his own wife from dying of cancer. He began bullying every stranger who came to his house. Due to his strange behavior, Tresgood ordered all personnel to meet on the fields and not to get too close to the main house or barn. Tresgood managed to keep the neighbors away from his employer, too, but he wasn't able to prevent strangers from coming to the house while he was on the fields at work.

Further questioning revealed that Tresgood had disposed the bodies of the victims in order to help Mr. Harper. He regarded the older man as a kind of father who had always taken care of him, so he was willing to do anything to keep Mr. Harper out of prison.

An examination of the victims proved that they were killed by hay-hooks, which were common in Europe during the 19th century. Mr. Harper's house was decorated with old field gear, which he collected.

An examination of Harper's body and his medical records verified Tresgood's testimony. Mr. Harper's life expectancy had been diagnosed as less than a year.

One week later,

A hospital in Des Moines, Iowa

Roberta had butterflies in her stomach entering the hospital room, though she knew her mother was right behind her. Mom, the sheriff, and everyone else had praised her more than she had ever heard before about how brave she had been to ride in the darkness to get help for her mother. 'And for Mulder,' she had added, and they had laughed and applauded her. Now this feeling of delight had ebbed away. Her mom had been treated for her bruises, and her so-called father would be locked away for a long time. Mom had told her that they could now live where they wanted to, and Roberta had chosen to stay at this house in Iowa. Finally she had made friends with some girls at school, and she had two horses to ride. She wouldn't change that for a life in a city. She had been frightened just to enter Des Moines, but mom had told her that it was to pay Mulder a visit, a reason she could easily accept.

Sarah closed the door, smiling at her daughter's behaviour as well as Mulder's sleeping face. 'Why do men always look so peaceful while sleeping?' she thought. In spite of the pain she was almost light-hearted. She was free in a way she had never hoped to be. All her trouble had blown away in one night. She bent to her daughter,

"Let him sleep, honey, we'll wait outside."

Mulder stirred, slowly waking up. Roberta raised her eyebrows and giggled happily.

"We stay," she whispered, and waited at the foot of the bed until Mulder opened his eyes.

"Hi." He ran a hand through his hair. "Hello, Roberta, bravest kid of the week." She giggled even more, and when gently pushed, stepped alongside the bed. "I promise not to puke," he assured her as she handed him the little present. "For me?" he asked stupidly. Roberta cocked an eyebrow and pursed her lips.

"No. For Fox." He unwrapped the gift. A small stuffed animal - a fox indeed - surfaced. Roberta quickly took her tiger out of her coat. "See? Now you have someone to watch over you just like I have Tigger to watch over me."

"Thanks, Roberta, that's a nice idea." And smiling at the little -- but nonetheless very brave -- girl, he thought about Scully, a little fox, and how these two fit together.

THE END