A/N: I forget that you guys don't live in my head. LOL When watching the series on TV all those years ago, I had a face-palm moment when Reyes was introduced. I thought "well why in the hell did he wait so damn long to call HER?!" And so, in my little world, Doggett called on Reyes during the initial search for Mulder.
Also, thank you so much for the all the follows and reviews. Its my main mission to entertain with this. Writing this gives me a nice break from writing research papers ;) I'm trying my hand at a MOTW over the next few chapters. But, I won't abandon mytharc entirely during the MOTW.
I was enjoying a surprisingly pleasant morning shopping with my mother. People tend to be much more friendly when you're flashing a VISA rather than a badge. Mom brought me a particularly ugly blouse that had the general silhouette of a tent and featured a red, white and blue paisley print.
"Oh that's perfect!" I mocked, rolling my eyes and beginning to laugh. Mom had stuck her tongue out and pretended to gag.
"You laugh, but when I was having you kids, this is all there was. Nowadays women get to show off their baby hump, or lump, or bump or whatever they're calling it. In my day it was taboo to look pregnant."
I held up a navy blue, lightweight knit sweater for her inspection. "I'm not exactly trying to flaunt what I've got, Mom. What do you think? Dark enough?"
It was Mom's turn to roll her eyes. "Dana, I understand that you're technically single, but times have changed, no one is going to judge you for wanting to have a baby. Its not unheard of."
I started to say, "Mom, I'm not worried about..." and meant to finish, about what people think because I'm not married. But I realized that, perhaps, the good little Catholic girl in me did feel that way. I wanted what most women wanted: a good career, a family with children and a husband. But I had denied myself not only of what I wanted, but the actual wanting, until I couldn't have it. I had denied myself because the only man I wanted to have in my life, to have children with, didn't want those things until he had forgotten who he truly was.
Without his past and without his insatiable drive for his work on the X-Files, he had wanted what I wanted. He had wanted me and he had wanted his child to be the most important things in his life. Before that he had been willing to help me have a baby, but didn't want it to change things between us. What had been between us then was a strong friendship, deep trust, and perhaps a love that neither us were able or willing to admit.
And then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. When Mulder had agreed to father the baby I wanted so badly, he was dying. He had never intended to actually be a father. And when we had begun sharing a bed after his trip to England and my encounter with Daniel, he knew his time was running short and never expected to see it through.
I could feel the blood draining my face and my stomach churned giving me the telltale heads up that it was about to turn itself inside out. Shoving the pile of clothes I held into my mother's arms I turned and headed for the ladies room. Genius had struck the designers of that particular department and they had placed the restrooms near the maternity section, thank God.
I heard my mother call after me with a worried tone, "Dana? Where are you...?"
She caught up with me a few minutes later as I was bent over the utilitarian sink rinsing my mouth. I looked up to see her worried face in the mirror behind me and forestalled her.
"I'm fine, Mom."
"You always are, Dana." She gave me a small smile, which I tried, with trembling lips to return. "You know, I think its a girl."
Having dragged a wet paper towel my face, I turned and gave my mother a real smile. "What makes you say that?"
"Your brothers gave me absolutely no trouble at all. With you, on the other hand, I was sick day and night for the whole pregnancy. I couldn't wait to get you out of me."
I laughed and allowed her to pull me into an enveloping hug. Smoothing my hair down she said quietly, "But, I've never had cause to regret it."
"Very nice femur shot. That and head circumference will give us a nice clear picture of where you are, Dana." Dr. Speake wasn't looking at me, but must have sensed that I was holding my breath. She removed her eyes from the monitor and smiled down at me. "Everything looks great."
I let out the breath I had been holding for what seemed like an eternity and Mom's grip on my right hand relaxed. turning my head to look at my mother, I saw that there were tears her in eyes and had to look away before my own water works began.
With in the cozy confines of Dr. Speake's office, we discussed lab work and genetic testing that I had requested. We decided on a simple blood draw and marker test for the time being. Neither of us was prepared for the more complicated amniocentesis.
The ultrasound tech entered with a file folder and VHS tape. The folder was given to Dr. Speake and the video to me. I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do with it, but was glad to have evidence of the baby's wellbeing in hand.
"You weren't too far off, Dana. The baby's measurements and the chart have you at 14 weeks, 3 days. But, take the days part with a grain of salt. All babies are different as you well know."
No, not too far off. I suddenly had a desire to know exactly when and where this little miracle had happened. But, after that initial, slow, tender night it was all a blur. My bed, his bed, random cheap motels in this city and that or in the middle of nowhere. We had eyed the leather love seat in Skinner's office once while waiting to hand over a field report. The thought of our mutual understanding and shared impulses to explore each other's bodies in forbidden places caused a warmth to ignite in me. My body reacted to the mere thought of his and for a split second I wanted nothing more than to find him and...
"Dana is still feeling sick," my mother's voice cut through the fog of my increasingly steaming thoughts. "is there anything you can give her to help with the nausea?"
Prescriptions for an iron supplement and Zofran in hand, I promised Mom I would be careful and headed home to pack for my trip south with Agent Doggett.
Even at night the air in New Orleans seemed particularly thick. It wasn't terribly hot, but humid as always. Reyes provided us with initial autopsy reports and photos of the first scene where the victim had been found. Initial ruling on cause of death had been exsanguination resulting from self-inflicted wounds on the interior carpal region. A rather convoluted and not entirely accurate description of suicide. I cringed at the report, thinking of how I would have stated the findings.
"So, she slit her wrists," Doggett summarized the findings. "Any history of mental illness?"
Agent Reyes handed over another piece of the file. This was a report dated three days before the suicide from a local mental health agency. Jennifer Brinks, the victim, had sought help from a counselor regarding intermittent auditory and visual hallucinations.
"It says here the symptoms were thought to be stress induced," I looked up at Agent Reyes who had apparently been staring at me, judging from her scared rabbit reaction to me addressing her. "I see no evidence that she was tested for or even asked about drug use. What's the status of the post mortem toxicological exam?"
Agent Reyes recovered herself and answered, "Its still in the lab, we're waiting on results. But, Agent Scully, I think the most important thing here is that Miss Brinks' body disappeared from the morgue only to be found again a few hours later, with injuries that appeared to be the result of an attack." She slid more photos across the desk to me.
These showed the same woman, in a different location with three dark ligature marks around her throat. Doggett looked at the photos over my shoulder and cleared his throat.
"Doesn't it seem most likely that someone stole the body from the morgue and posed her like that?"
He had a point. Body snatching is by no means unheard of. But, generally, cadavers that are stolen are used for dissection and experiments, not for... well for whatever this was. It certainly wasn't any vampire activity I'd ever seen or read about either. I said as much to both the puzzled agents.
"There's just one problem," I said with a cock of an eyebrow towards Agent Reyes. She nodded her head slowly and indicated the stark, purple ligature marks on the dead woman's neck.
"That's why I asked for you," she said as she continued to tap an index finger on the photo. "Dead people don't bruise like this."
The shrill sound of my cell phone ringing made all three of us jump. A glance at the caller ID told me all I needed to know and I excused myself.
"I need to take this, Agent Doggett. Find out about the victim's family, boyfriend, other friends. We'll want to talk to them."
Stepping out into the darkened hallway, I answered my phone, already knowing I'd hear Mulder's voice.
"Hey, Scully its me. How's things in good ol' Loosianna?" His southern drawl was a terrible imitation and I laughed despite myself. After this morning's revelation, I wasn't entirely keen on talking with Mulder just yet.
"Things are fine. What can I do for you?" I said rather shortly.
"Well," he said, getting down to business. "I thought you may have some insight into the whereabouts of my computer."
"Oh," I sighed. "It was taken, along with mine. Probably by the bounty hunter. They seemed to have been mopping up evidence of their plans and interferences."
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone call and I heard what sounded like his basketball being kicked across the room. I had no trouble imagining the look on his face. The only other time he had physically lashed out in frustration was under the pressure of potentially costing the FBI $446 million. I remembered the state of the office trash can and felt a ridiculous sense of satisfaction at his frustration.
"My back up drive?" He asked shortly with a loud exhale.
I smiled to myself and answered, "right where you left it. You have the key." I disconnected the call before the conversation could turn to any other matters. One thing at a time.
Mulder fished his keys out of his pocket while approaching the clean white door that led to his partner's apartment. Once inside, he closed the door quietly and looked around at the familiar surroundings. He felt like he was home, more so than when he had entered his own apartment earlier that afternoon. The aroma of scented candles, clean laundry, and something else that he thought of as the Scully smell filled his nostrils and he was practically intoxicated.
Flipping on the lights, he made his way to Scully's inner sanctum. The smell that made his heart beat louder was stronger in her bedroom and he drank it in like the elixir of life. When he began spending more and more time at her apartment, he had surreptitiously sniffed her soap, shampoo, perfume, and other girly impedimenta. But, couldn't discern the source. It was just her and he missed it, badly.
Mulder fished a tiny key out of the jewelry box on the dresser and opened the top drawer on the right. Under an assortment of men's undershirts, mostly swiped from himself, athletic socks, and sports bras, which didn't help the stirring and twitching he had been trying to ignore. Mulder found the lock box that contained his back up drive and pulled it from the drawer with a last wistful look at the intimate athletic apparel.
Closing the drawer with his hip, he turned toward the bed and caught sight of more clothing that belonged to him. In a heap on the neatly made bed was an Oxford shirt, suit pants, two t-shirts, and his favorite flannel pajama pants. It was obvious that the clothing had been worn recently. The sight made him ache for the ease and comfort of his relationship with Scully before that damned trip to Oregon.
He had missed a lot, but not nearly as much as he would have missed had he not been taken. The sudden feeling of mortality conquered left him hollow inside. Seeking an escape, he took the lock box to the kitchen and set it on the counter. A note addressed to him, left on the same counter, caught his eye.
Gone to follow a lead. Back soon.
Mulder laid his hand flat on the piece of paper and curled his fingers inward, crinkling the paper and ending with it in a ball in his hand. He pressed it to his forehead and breathed heavily through his nose.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this," came out of his mouth in an angry whisper. Losing interest in the lock box, Mulder turned and opened the fridge, but found nothing suited to healing a broken man. A glance to the top of fridge had him staring at a dusty, half full bottle of scotch. He pulled it down, retrieved ice from the freezer and a tumbler from the cupboard.
Settling on the couch, he poured himself a double and sipped. He had been trying desperately to tamp down his feelings for the last 24 hours. It was a vain attempt. He wanted to know, who? If he was going to allow himself to think like this, he tossed back the remainder of his glass, poured another, tossed it back and repeated.
Sitting back on the couch, he ran a hand through his hair and down his face. "Who, dammit!" Mulder shouted to the empty apartment. Who had succeeded where he had failed? Who had been able gave Scully her heart's desire? A stranger picked for height and IQ? I fit the bill for that! Or was it someone else she knew? Mulder's quick mind scanned through possibilities, a rather short list. He had been selfish over the years, constantly pulling her away from any semblance of a normal life.
He had tried to make up for that when Scully had made her monumental request to him. It had taken him by surprise, but then he realized it was only natural, they were what they were to each other. Not lovers, but far from only friends. But, he had been selfish then too. It wasn't only his desire to help Scully regain at least one thing that had been taken from her. They say having children gives you immortality. He wanted to leave something behind, leave his mark on the world before the brain he had tirelessly sought to fill with knowledge killed him.
But he had failed. Like so many other things in his life, he had failed to give Scully back the things he blamed himself for having been taken from her. He hadn't protected her from being taken in the first place, hadn't protected her from being attacked by liver eating weirdos, hair washing and finger eating freaks, that cigarette smoking son of a bitch. It wasn't surprising that she had turned to someone else when her initial attempts at getting pregnant had failed.
"It should have been me, goddamit!" None of the furniture seemed to mind his angry tone, but he felt awkward talking to an empty room, nonetheless. Mulder pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number of the only person he could think of who could help him regain some sense of control.
It took several rings, but the call was answered with a customary if groggy, "Skinner."
"Sir, I need for you to fulfill a for me request first thing in the morning."
Mulder heard the older man sigh, "Do you have any idea what time it is? I'm in bed, Mulder. Whatever it is..."
The next thing that Mulder heard made his jaw drop. A woman's voice, husky with sleep and slightly muffled interrupted his supervisor's admonishment, "It's Fox? Is he okay?"