Chapter 6 - 10
Frohike swore imaginatively and added. "What are they doing here? I'm going to kill Mulder!"
He slid the door open and stomped across the street, making way too much noise for such a clandestine operation. He did manage to keep from yelling, though. Emma saw him coming and could tell he was furious. She ran out into the street to meet him. He took her by the hand and led her back to the van. Pulling open the driver's door, he pushed her in ahead of him, climbed in himself and, starting the engine, drove away.
Mulder ran back to his car and followed the VW bus as it turned a corner.
Emma didn't say anything as they drove. Frohike only said one thing to her, "Put on your seat belt." She searched around for it but couldn't find it. Byers was sitting at her right side. He pulled the belt out from under her and helped her put it on.
Frohike was fuming. Emma wanted to talk to him, to explain but she figured he would ask when he was ready, maybe when he had calmed down a little.
Frohike wasn't worried about where he was going. He just wanted to get Emma out of there. How had she known where they were? Why on earth had Mulder brought her out to them when he knew what had happened the one time she had gone on a stakeout? They had been lucky that last time. He wasn't willing to take another chance on her being taken into custody and questioned for hours on end. What had happened to her was too close to torture. It would never happen again. If the police had been called, if they had been arrested when she was with them… Yves was right, she could be taken away from him or worse yet, she could have gotten seriously hurt. Damn Mulder, what was he thinking?
Checking his rearview mirror, Frohike could see that Mulder was still behind them. He spotted a deserted grocery store parking lot and pulled into it suspecting Mulder would follow.
Shutting off the motor and setting the parking brake, Frohike jumped out of the van. Emma tried to follow him but was held up by her seatbelt. "Dad, wait! Please!" She was afraid of what he would do to Mulder. He ignored her. Mulder was standing next to his open car door waiting for Frohike to close the distance between them.
"Frohike, I …" The irate father did not let him finish. He pushed Mulder against his car.
"What the hell were you doing bringing her out to us? I trusted you to take care of her not to put her in danger."
"Frohike, I was just trying to help her." Mulder fought to remain calm.
"Help her? How? What if the cops had come?"
Emma had caught up with them, getting to her father just ahead of the others who had also piled out to stop Frohike from beating the crap out of Mulder. She grabbed her father's arm and pulled on it, putting all of her weight into it. He raised his arm and swung it outwards to break her grip and shake her off. This put her off balance and, turning as she fell, she came down hard on her left arm.
To the others who had just arrived on the scene it looked like Frohike had hit Emma. Jimmy bent over her where she lay cradling her scraped and bleeding arm.
"Emma!" Realizing she was hurt, Frohike turned to help her but Langly and Byers stood between him and the pair on the ground. He tried to push his way through them but they held him back. Byers spoke calmly to him. "You can't hit her like that, Frohike."
Frohike was shocked that his friends believed he could do such a thing to Emma. "I didn't hit her. I could never hit her."
Sitting up but obviously in pain, Emma confirmed his story. "He didn't hit me. I fell when he made me let go." Byers and Langly stepped aside allowing Frohike to check on her. Kneeling beside Emma, he put his arm around her and said, "Oh, honey, I am so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"I know, Dad. Ow! Careful," she complained as he turned her arm over to see the other side.
Now that she finally had his attention, she tried to explain her presence at their stakeout. "Dad, Mulder and I didn't know you guys were at that house. He can see the faeries, too, and was trying to help. They wanted me to follow them. That's where they led us."
"Faeries?" Jimmy asked in confusion.
"She told me the whole story while we were driving," Mulder explained, "and I think she's right about the lights being faeries." Yves came back from the VW bus with the first aid kit and started to clean up Emma's arm as Mulder continued. "From what I've read, there are several different kinds of faeries. Woodland faeries, water faeries, house faeries and such protect those areas. This group has attached itself to what has to be considered a national treasure. Emma's feeling of connection to it opened her mind to the fact that the faeries were there. When it was stolen, they sought her out in the hopes that she could help retrieve it."
"I told them I couldn't follow them because it was the middle of the night and Mulder heard me talking to them," Emma said.
"I offered to go with her since I could see them, too." No one questioned the fact that Mulder could see the faeries. "They led us to you. We were both surprised to see you all there."
"Emma, move your hand for me, like this." Yves demonstrated a forward and back waving motion, which required Emma to bend her wrist.
"It hurts," Emma complained.
Yves looked at Frohike. "Her wrist is swelling up. It isn't broken but it could be sprained."
"Scully should take a look at that," Mulder suggested.
"Do you think she would mind?" Frohike asked.
"She's probably awake anyway and has discovered that we're gone. I forgot to leave her a note." Mulder's face implied the dressing down he'd get for that one.
"Can't we go back and get the painting," Emma pleaded.
Frohike shook his head. "Not tonight."
"But, Dad…" Tears threatened, he could hear it in her voice. She hadn't cried when she got hurt but the thought of not going back pushed her past the point of her endurance.
He pulled her all the way into a hug being careful not to get her injured arm between their bodies. "It's all right, baby, calm down. We've got a couple of days. We'll probably come back tomorrow."
"I'm hoping we can. We need to talk about it though. Don't worry. We'll get your painting for you."
Emma smiled at that remark. "It's not my painting but I do want it go back to where it belongs."
Frohike stood to help Emma up. "Dad, you need to apologize to Mulder," Emma told him privately.
"I know, honey, I will." He assured her. "Jimmy, will you take her back to the van?"
He watched them walk off. "Mulder," Frohike called to his beleaguered friend who was about to climb into his own car. Mulder turned to see what he wanted. "Hey, buddy, I'm sorry about the rough treatment."
Mulder gave him a lopsided smile. "It's okay. Don't worry about it." And he turned again to leave.
Frohike stopped him with a hand on his arm. "No, it's not okay. I was angry enough that I could've really hurt you. I should have asked questions first. But after what happened to her last time," a pained expression crossed Frohike's face making him shake his head, "I wasn't thinking very clearly."
"You were worried about your kid. Hell, even I've found out that impedes rational thought. Besides," Mulder added, presumably as an after thought, "I could take you in two out of three falls."
Frohike grinned at Mulder. "In your dreams, fibbie-boy, in your dreams."
Scully pronounced Emma's arm badly strained but not broken or even sprained. She said it would be sore for a couple of days but then should be fine. She was more worried about the deep abrasions. "These are going to leave some scars." After putting large gauze bandages on the two worst scrapes, Scully wrapped Emma's wrist in an ace bandage. "How does that feel?"
"Good, thank you."
"Not too tight."
"No, it's fine."
"Okay. Use the ace bandage for a couple of days then just be very careful with your arm. The bandages need to stay on until the abrasions are completely scabbed over."
Frohike took Emma back to the house. He wanted her to sleep undisturbed by the goings on at the warehouse since it was now nearly dawn.
Late the next morning, Frohike found Emma standing in front of the bathroom mirror struggling with her hair. "Here, let me help you."
"No, that's all right. I can do it."
"You can't do it one handed. And where is the bandage Scully gave you?"
"I took it off to take a shower. I'll put it back on when I'm done here."
"Go get it. Let's do it right now."
She came back with the ace bandage and handed it to him. He put the lid down on the toilet seat and had her sit down. He looked closely at her arm. The abrasions were already healing but Scully was right; they would probably leave scars. His guilt level over the whole event increased. He wondered, and not for the first time, how much of parenting was guilt driven. "Emma, I'm really sorry you got hurt. I never wanted to hurt you. Ever."
"I know, Dad but if you don't stop apologizing, I'm not going to let you play with the bandage anymore." Her arm did hurt but she blamed her own misjudgment of the situation the previous night. She knew it would do no good to argue with him but she wished he would stop telling her he was sorry.
With her arm rewrapped he had her turn sideways so he could reach the back of her head. Taking the brush, he worked on the snarls she had missed. "Dad, really, you don't need to worry about my hair. I can always have Langly do it for me or maybe Yves if she's around. At least they both have long hair and might know how to put it in a pony tail."
Frohike stopped brushing for a moment and bent forward so she could see his face. "Who says I don't know how to put hair in a pony tail?"
"But you always keep your hair short," Emma said as he continued brushing.
"I do now but it hasn't always been that way. I used to wear it in a pony tail."
Emma started laughing. "Yeah, right. Sure you did."
"I did," he insisted. "Ask Byers or Langly."
"Ah, they would agree with you just to bug me."
Frohike started pulling her hair up to the spot she where she usually put her pony tail. "Let's see. I believe the last time my hair was that long was when we were at the convention in Vegas. That was 1999, I think. It's been a long time. Maybe I should grow it out again." He wrapped the elastic around her hair making it tight enough that it wouldn't slip. He snugged it up to her head. "Tell me what you think."
Emma got up and looked in the mirror, turning her head back and forth to see the sides. It was perfect. "That's great. Thank you." Maybe he was telling the truth.
Things were pretty calm at the warehouse when father and daughter arrived. Mulder was there as well as the usual suspects but they were still waiting for Yves to show up so they could decide on their next move. She arrived shortly after Frohike and Emma.
As the debate started on how they should proceed, Emma decided to fade into the background. They knew she was there but she was becoming a little overwhelmed by the whole thing and her arm hurt. She chose to go sit down on the couch to watch TV and let them work it out. They would take care of it. She had faith in that fact.
Doggett and Reyes arrived in the early afternoon. Emma still kept to herself letting the large group of adults work out the details. Monica came to talk to her for a short time. Emma had to explain what happened to her arm. She found it a little embarrassing to talk about because she didn't want anyone to think ill of her father. It was an accident after all.
Everything was finally settled. People went off to pursue their own interests until late in the evening. They planned on meeting back at the warehouse after dark. Emma went home with Mulder. She would stay with Scully for the night.
Scully and Mulder worked at keeping Emma busy. While Mulder was still there, he played computer games with her but her arm bothered her too much to play the types of games she really enjoyed. Those required two working arms to do a good job. Fortunately, she was right handed so some of the internet arcade type games were doable.
William wanted to play with her but she couldn't pick him up and he didn't understand why. She got him to play with cars on the floor with her for a short time but Scully put an end to it when she noticed how often Emma was wincing in pain.
Concerned, she checked the child's arm a second time and saw that it was no worse than before. It took very little convincing to get her to take some Advil and go sit and read for a while.
After dinner, Mulder left to join the guys and Yves at the warehouse. Scully put William to bed. "It's movie time," she announced once the tyke was asleep. "How does popcorn sound?"
"Something like this: pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop!" Emma said with a grin.
Scully shook her head. "Oh, you poor thing. You've been living with the four stooges for too long."
"Ah, they're not that bad. Why, just the other day, we had a long, intellectual discussion of the finer points of the movie 'Terminator'."
"Was that the original or the sequel?"
"Well, T2 of course. The special effects were far superior and the bullet count is way up there!" Obviously, the Advil had helped ease the pain in her wrist. Emma was in a much lighter mood.
"I think what you need is an evening of female influence. You go get the nail polish, while I put the popcorn in the microwave and search for the ultimate chick flick."
After painting each other's toenails, they sat down to eat popcorn and watch Enchanted April on video. "Mulder hates this movie. He says nothing happens in it."
Emma had never seen it before. "It's so beautiful. It makes me want to go to Italy."
"Me, too. I got Langly to look on the internet for the villa they used in the movie. It's a museum in Portofino but there are several other places near there where you can stay."
Emma had been leaning against Scully so they could share a blanket and the bowl of popcorn. She sat up and turned to look at Dana. "What if you and I go there someday? When I'm old enough and my dad will actually let me spend my money, I would like us to go to Italy together."
Scully smiled at the girl's youthful dream of adventure thinking wistfully of all she had given up over the years for her job and now her family. When Emma was old enough to do as she wanted, William would be old enough to leave for as long as such a trip would take. "I think that sounds like a wonderful idea."
"Me, too," Emma said leaning back against her friend.
Mulder and Frohike found them in this position. The bowl of popcorn was empty except for a few grannies. The tape in the VCR had run out, leaving the TV nothing but snow and faint static. The light from the screen cast flickering shadows over their sleeping forms and other objects in the room.
"Well, so much for a sensible bedtime," Frohike said in a low voice. "Do you want to wake them up or should I?"
"The pleasure can be all yours," Mulder said.
Frohike chuckled and whispered, "Ladies." He shook Emma's knee through the blanket. She began to stir but just turned more towards Scully, resting her cheek against the woman's arm. He tried again. "Emma, come on. You either need to go to bed or get up and come home with me."
"Dad?" That was more like it. "You're here. Why are you here?" She wasn't completely awake yet. Scully sat up straighter on the couch trying not to jostle Emma too much.
"Frohike, where's Mulder?"
"Right here. Were you two enjoying the show?" He pointed at the TV. Scully reached for the remote and turned it off, plunging the room into darkness. Mulder flipped on a lamp.
Shading her eyes against the light, Emma looked up at her dad and remembered what he had been doing that evening. Suddenly, she was fully awake. "Dad, what happened? Did you get it? Where is it?" She looked from one man to the other searching for some sign that they had been successful.
Frohike put his hand on her shoulder, smiling warmly. "We did it. We got everything we needed. The painting was there. We photographed it. Now all I need to do is develop the pictures."
"You took pictures? You didn't leave it, did you?"
"Yes, I'm afraid we did."
"Dad! You said you were going to get it back! Not just take pictures of it!"
"I know what I said. But after we talked about it, we decided that it would be better to let the authorities handle it. With the evidence we have, the cops can throw this guy in jail. If we just brought the painting out, what would keep him from hiring someone to steal it again?"
"Well, that's true," Emma admitted but she was still disappointed that they did not have the painting in hand.
"The FBI will go in tomorrow, arrest the man, and return the painting to its rightful owners." Frohike reassured her. "Now, you might as well come home with me since you're awake and still dressed."
Frohike developed the pictures that night. Early the next morning, Doggett came and got them. He needed them to get the search warrant.
At about 3:00 PM that afternoon, Frohike got a phone call. "You did? That's great." Pause. "We're on our way." He turned to look at the others. "Let's go."
Emma assumed she wasn't invited so she didn't get up from the computer she was playing at. "Emma, are you coming or not?"
"You mean I can?"
"Yup, your expertise is needed."
"Oh, you'll see," Frohike told her. The others wouldn't tell her either. Everyone piled into the VW bus.
They arrived at the house of the art collector to find the area crawling with FBI agents, the local police and TV reporters. Each reporter had a van with a satellite transmitter extended from its roof. Some were giving live reports and others were just taping the goings on. Byers got the VW bus as close to all the action as he could. They all had to get out and walk the rest of the way.
They were stopped by yellow police tape and had to wait there for a few minutes with the other curious onlookers. It was all very exciting to Emma. She was happy to just stand by and watch. She had overheard enough of the live reports going on around them, to know that the FBI had recovered the painting. In all the excitement and confusion, she missed the fact that her father was making a phone call.
A minute or so later, Agents Doggett and Reyes met them where they stood waiting behind the police barrier. They were both wearing blue windbreakers with FBI stencilled in large yellow letters on their backs. Doggett lifted up the tape and the Gunmen and Emma walked under it. Confused by all this, Emma decided to just wait and see what was going to happen, just as her father had suggested.
The two FBI agents led them to a spot close to the house where a command post had been set up. Several other agents were consulting each other or talking on cell phones. Doggett put his hand on Emma's shoulder separating her from the Gunmen and guiding her towards the man who seemed to be in charge. "Assistant Director Skinner, this is the expert we were talking about." The tall, bald man looked down at Emma. A surprised expression flashed quickly across his face.
"Agent Doggett, is this some kind of joke?" Skinner asked. Mulder joined the group.
"Nope, that's her all right," Mulder said. "She's the one who told me about the faeries."
Emma stared at Mulder in disbelief. He had obviously told this man her deepest, darkest secret. And he was an Assistant Director of the FBI, whatever that meant, but he sounded important. He looked important.
Skinner looked down at the child standing in front of him and the four men standing behind her. He should have known that the Lone Gunmen would be involved in this. From what Mulder and Reyes said, she belonged to one of them. He wasn't sure which one but right now, he was more interested in confirming the authenticity of the most recently stolen painting. His agents and Mulder said she could do it. He hadn't expected her to be so young. He turned to the former FBI agent who had made his life hell for so many years. "Mulder, take her in. See what she says."
Mulder held out his hand to Emma. She turned to her father. He nodded, "Go with him, honey, it's okay. Just let him know if it really is your painting."
"It's not mine," she repeated weakly but took Mulder's offered hand and allowed him to lead her into the house.
"Don't worry, kid. You'll be fine," he assured her. "I just want to know what you see when you look at the painting."
Emma didn't say anything. She did cling tightly to his hand though, accepting the comfort if offered. The two of them passed several agents on their way through the house and down into the basement. Many of them were carrying paintings or sculptures or other types of artwork. Emma noticed that most of them seemed to have something to do with the military.
The pair reached the basement vault. The thick heavy door was wide open. Mulder asked everyone to clear out and give them some privacy. When they were alone, Mulder led Emma into the vault. She didn't like it in there. She felt like she couldn't breath. She took a deep breath to check if her asthma was acting up. It wasn't. It was just claustrophobic in the chamber.
She scanned the large, steel enforced enclosure and spotted the huge painting leaning against one wall. Forgetting her feelings of claustrophobia, Emma let go of Mulder's hand and walked over to the painting. It was nearly as tall as she was. She studied it. The Scotsmen still stood defiantly, facing death head on.
And yes, it was there: that feeling that she could step into it and join them in their moment of victory. She smiled and turned to look up at Mulder. Movement caught her eye, above and behind his head. She laughed. Mulder turned to see what she was looking at. He saw them, too. Emma laughed again and said, "You're welcome."
It was party time. Everyone went over to Emma and Frohike's house to celebrate. The Gunmen, Mulder and Scully, Doggett and Reyes and Emma were all in attendance. Yves was there, too. Emma asked her why she hadn't been around earlier in the day. Yves gave some vague excuse about her presence being required elsewhere that afternoon. Emma didn't believe her but chose not to pursue it. She was there to celebrate with them. That's all that mattered now.
Full of dinner and more than a little beer, the loud laughter and excited retelling of the events that led up to the recovery of the painting had given way to relaxed conversation. The main point of the discussion was how best to write up the story. It would be the headline of their next edition. It was due at the printers in the next day or two, so they would have to put in some intense hours to get it done on time. But with a story this big, it would nearly write itself. Reyes offered some suggestions as to different angles they could use for it. The others were surprised to find out that she had taken some journalism classes in college.
Once they had exhausted that subject, Doggett decided to pose the question uppermost in his mind. "Have you heard how much your reward is?"
They all turned to stare at him. Byers was the first to find his voice. "Reward? OUR reward?"
It was Doggett's turn to be surprised. "The reward you applied for. You did apply didn't you?"
Langly shook his head. "We haven't even talked about it."
"I applied for it in all of our names," Yves said with a smile.
Frohike stared at Yves in shock. "You? In all of our names?" Then turning to Doggett, he asked, "How much of a reward are we talking about?"
"I'm not sure," admitted Doggett. "They're still adding it up. But with the amount of stolen artwork that was found in that vault it looks like it will be a considerable amount. Even after you divide it up." He laughed at the looks on their faces. "Well, then the next question should be what are you going to do with all of the money?"
At the very end of the summer, I went to England with a friend. But that's another story.