by Christina M. Simmons
Illustrated by Erin Livingstone
**Standard Disclaimer: All rights to characters and series owned by
Twentieth Century Fox and 1013 Productions. No copyright infringement
intended. No profit turned by the writing or posting of this work. Please
don't sue me.**
Author's Note: When watching "Anasazi" for the
first time, it seemed very odd to me that Scully would have been able to
get Mulder safely to New Mexico without event. Krycek, fleeing, had more
than enough time to turn out the dogs, so to speak. In that light,
this piece centers around events that might have taken place on that
cross-country drive to New Mexico. Rating? None to speak of. No sex or
language or excessive violence.
Comments are welcome, if you care to give them.
There was no car in the rear-view mirror.
There had not been any car there for several hours, and Dana Scully
It meant nothing. They were not safe.
"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you."
That's what Mulder would say, if he were lucid.
If he were conscious.
She'd shot him. Shot her own partner, without thinking even once about it.
She'd had no choice; she kept telling herself that... she'd found Mulder
entirely irrational, with
a gun to the head of an unarmed man.
Never mind that that unarmed man was, very likely, a murderer. Never mind
that, according to Mulder, he was also an accessory to kidnapping. Her
own kidnapping, several months
Good God, Dana, she groaned to herself. You're as crazy as Mulder.
Crazier, even. Nobody's been pumping your system full of drugs. You've got
At least she'd managed to stop the bleeding. Most of it, at any rate.
The bullet had passed clean through the muscle of Mulder's shoulder,
miraculously leaving the bone untouched.
For that Scully gave silent thanks; there was enough working against her,
working against Mulder, without a trip to the hospital...
She peered into the rear-view mirror again, then glanced anxiously at her
face. Mulder was slumped, unconscious, across the car's back seat -- his
face pale beneath the fever-glaze of sweat, his breathing low, irregular.
Contrary to the events of the past few hours, he hardly looked dangerous --
certainly not like a crazed would-be killer. With
the thick, woolly blanket tucked in all about him and a shadow of a
worry-crease across his
forehead, he looked more like somebody's little brother. Scully turned her
eyes forward again, out the front windshield and slowly heavenward, into
the night sky.
The events of the past two days whirled about her... the drug-induced
psychosis that had turned Fox Mulder, her partner and friend, into
something unpredictable, almost an enemy. His erratic behavior and violent
outbursts that might have already cost both of them
their jobs. Or their lives. His acquisition of top-secret government
computer files, now in
her possession, would see to it that they were both off duty...
permanently... if anyone caught them. Then the sudden, violent death of
Mulder's father, that had pushed her partner entirely
over the edge... that was the final hit, as much as he could take, pushing
him to the very edge of his breaking point. It wasn't a clean line to step
over, either, and Scully knew it. And she had only added to that when
she'd shot him -- violating every fingerlength of trust it had taken her
two years to build. Even if it had been for his own good.
It was up to her now, to get them through the fallout alive. Alone, until
Mulder came to himself again.
Assuming that he would. Saner agents than "Spooky" Mulder had been known
to crack under less strain... Scully forced the thought from her
Her fingers found the scrap of paper in her pocket again -- paper with a
name and phone number on it, a New Mexico area code. The computer files
-- those damned files that had
started this whole affair -- were encrypted. World War II Navajo code
talk, and the only person able to translate was a cross-country drive away.
It wasn't the most ideal of
situations, given the events of the past two days... but whoever was after
Mulder would kill to get those files back, making their only course of
action to learn exactly what the files contained before that "whoever"
could catch them. Bargaining power,
if it came to that. Or a death sentence.
More likely a death sentence. And it had gone into effect immediately.
Mulder began to regain consciousness in the small hours of the night, not
long after moonset. At first, he sat, stone-still, staring blankly at the
pre-dawn nothingness rolling past. Shock would do that; he kept the
blanket wrapped tightly about him, and he was shuddering with cold, despite
the fact that his face was damp with perspiration. It was only when
Scully asked quietly how he was feeling that he noticed her at all... and
then, it was only to ask where they were. Then he had lapsed back into
silence, and from there into a fitful half-sleep.
The rambling began in the strange, shadow-filled time just before
false dawn. Mulder began talking to her, addressing her directly, if weakly
-- Scully wanted to see that as a good sign. He went on in disjointed detail
about cases that they'd closed months or years ago, insisting that they
were close to finishing them... mixing details, confusing names and places.
When that thread had run its course, recent memory took its place -- memory
of his father's death, more emotion than fact. Here Mulder grew agitated,
insisting that he hadn't killed the old man and refusing to
Scully's assertion that she believed him. When he began ranting
killing Alex Krycek, however, going on in progressively louder and
tones about exactly how he would go about it, Scully forced
herself to pull
over and administer a mild sedative. That quieted Mulder
only slightly --
the dose was necessarily low - but what remained was
bearable; she'd been
through it that barely twenty-four hours before, at
regular intervals, and
almost knew what he'd say before he said it.
The childhood memories, when they came, very nearly broke her heart.
There was no time lapse, not for Mulder, not now. Everything had happened
just moments before, and Scully could do nothing but listen to the wavering
narratives, the near-manic degrees of emotion they inspired... the
birthday parties, and the fishing trips with his
father, and the visits to his grandparents' house. About summer camp, and
his cat, Mephisto, who they'd had to give away because his sister Samantha
was allergic. About Christmas Eve, the one night of the year when his
father was certain to be home, and midnight mass... Scully had never
Mulder as religious in the least; he'd certainly seemed shocked
Christianity. The stories were a steady flow, pictured with
clarity, told to her in that soft, melancholy voice that
but more often mourned for things past, things taken
And Samantha was at the center of everything. Long
memory of his father's murder had faded into the fever-haze again,
thoughts of his younger sister, gone too many years, rose up and
him, until, exhausted and utterly drained, Mulder's voice faded
Dawn was turning the shadows gray when
Scully pulled over in a
darkened rest area to check on him, temperature,
bandages... and then he'd
come suddenly awake from that dead sleep, eyes
fixing on her, identifying
her -- as Samantha.
He'd seized her
then, held her, pleading with her in near-
hysterical tones. Apologizing
for things that couldn't possibly be his fault,
for her abduction, for his
failures in finding her, and for childhood
"cruelties" that even Samantha
herself couldn't possibly hold against him.
Pleading with her not to
leave him, promising that he'd never,ever let
anyone take her away again.
It wasn't her partner speaking, and Scully
knew that -- this was a
frightened twelve-year-old, tormented by his sister's
disappearance. She sat still, not wanting to fight him for
waiting until the terror had faded in his tone enough for her to
disengage herself and move away, leaving him silent and vacant-
Then she'd moved back into the driver's seat, numb and weak-
kneed, sat limply, and prayed silently for strength -- for both of
Why, Scully wondered with a groan, did country music always seem
to come in with the same piercing clarity, regardless of how remote or
barren the road? And not just any country music... this was classic
country, all twang and sob. The Book of Job, sung to a steel-slide
guitar. The only other station with any trace of clarity was an A.M. talk
radio station, right
now hosting a "Best of Rush Limbaugh" marathon.
Scully shuddered, and
wondered if she wouldn't be better off with no
background noise at all.
Mulder, fading in and out of consciousness, was
oblivious... but she'd been
driving for hours straight now, and though it
was broad daylight, her body
was screaming for sleep.
Mulder was resting comfortably ... as comfortable as
possible, at any
rate. She'd stopped only long enough to change his
bandages and check his
vital signs: pulse normal, if slightly raised; blood
low; temperature spiking. She hadn't dared to medicate
him again, not
until she was sure of the drugs already running about his
worry about a return of the psychosis if he regained
last thing she needed was to kill her partner trying to
She glanced into the rear-view mirror, an action that had become
very nearly obsessive. There had been no signs of a tail since they'd left
D.C, moving into the rolling greenness of rural Tennessee, and from there
into the flatter expanses of Arkansas. In truth, seeing nothing back there
only made her all the more nervous. It meant that whoever was following,
and somebody almost certainly was, knew enough to remain hidden...
And then, as the morning rolled into the afternoon, she saw it.
On the long, flat stretch of rural highway in the middle of a
weekday, other traffic was scarce. Scully had noted that from the onset of
the trip -- it was her safety buffer; any other car was clearly visible. And
this car was plain to be seen - it was miles behind, dropping behind the
horizon from time to time in response to the swelling hills and dipping
valleys. It didn't alarm her, not yet. It stayed with them, on and off,
better part of the afternoon and well into the evening, passed
occasionally by the lumbering big rigs that owned this section of
interstate -- but then, there was really no place for it to go. Exits were
few and far between;
roadside rest stops a rarity. The car held a steady
speed, even when she
accelerated or slowed, but never fell far behind or
passed them. At its
closest, Scully was able to make it out as some sort
of late-model Ford,
either blue or black.
Then, as full dark took the
landscape, it vanished without a trace.
That Scully noticed... and
that worried her.
The car was there as she pulled into the gas
station. There was no
doubt in Scully's mind that it was the same one,
however irrational the
thought. How had it gotten ahead of her? She sat
for a moment,
deliberating, ready to move quietly through. But gas was a
she'd no idea where the next service area would be. Risk a
Steady, Dana. You're tired; you're not
thinking straight. They all look alike, those kinds of cars.
Which is why the FBI likes to use them.
The car was
parked... no passengers. Very likely it had been
sitting for a while...
the hood, when she touched it, was cold. It could
belong to the station
attendant, or a patron of the diner across the street.
man in the blue business suit glanced up and smiled
when she walked in the
door to pay. He didn't approach her, only watched,
lingering around the
magazines, ignoring the pointed glances of the
cashier. The cashier was
not looking at him, though... he was watching
another customer, a
dark-haired man, not in a business suit. Scully froze.
The second man
did not move more than a step from where he stood,
selection of ready-to-microwave sandwiches -- but in the
instant that his
head turned, a sidelong glance, Scully met his eye and
"Ladies first." The business-suited man stepped aside as she paid for the
gas with shaking hands, then nodded a courteous good night as she half-ran
out the door. Alex Krycek still had not moved, and his car did not
follow her as she pulled away.
Mulder's convulsions, coming on as
the moon inched towards its
zenith, were not unexpected. Their timing
could not be worse, Scully
groaned... but she'd seen it coming, at least.
She'd abandoned the main
highway as soon as she'd been able - opting for
secondary roads would take
more time, but would be harder for Krycek to
trace. And now, lying low
seemed the best option... for both their sakes.
The weed-overgrown rest
stop, set back from the main thoroughfare on an
incline, was designed to
cater to the needs of long-distance truckers -
shadowy, but with a clear view
of any moving traffic below, with one
smallish outbuilding. Scully pulled
behind the sheltered side of the
building... oncoming traffic would pass
before she became visible from the
She'd hypothesized, even before she'd proof to support her theory, that it
was some form of drug at work on Mulder, fed in through his apartment
water; the dialysis filter she'd found in the building's water tank
confirmed her suspicions. But what sort of drug? Only tests on the
samples she'd collected would tell, and that would have to wait, for now.
But whatever the source, Scully hazarded that, in the time it took for
sufficient levels to be ingested and produce the desired effects, Mulder's
body had developed an form of addiction to the substance... it was part of
his system, now, and the intentional purging process would trigger the
inevitable withdrawal symptoms.
He'd been half-awake for some time when she noticed his shuddering -- not
chilled shakes, not tremors of weakness; these were rhythmic spasms, and
Mulder's face was drawn and
very, very pale.
Every muscle in his body was contracting, trembling
strain, and his skin felt hot and damp to the touch. The fever
again. Eyes wide and glazed, Mulder did not seem to be aware
of her at
all... he was muttering incoherently, with growing overtones of
frustration, twitching spasmodically. With a sinking feeling,
rummaged about in her medical bag. The hypodermic needle and
were a last resort... one she really didn't want to take. But
Mulder was in
pain... that much was obvious. With a resigned setting of
her jaw, she
prepared the injection and settled next to him on the back
seat, then shut
the door behind her to prevent him from trying to bolt
into the open.
Mulder flinched away from her, glaring, protesting
as she grasped his arm. Scully held on firmly, found the proper point,
and plunged the
Shutting the door had been a mistake, she
immediately decided -- for no sooner had she managed to drive the
medication into Mulder's
bloodstream than he whirled on her, snarling with
pain and shock.
"What the hell did you do that for?" It was the
first coherent thing
he'd said in hours. He snatched the needle out of
his own flesh, staring
first at it, then at her. "What is this?"
"Sedative." she forced her voice to remain quiet, conversational. "You
were having convulsions, Mulder."
"You're drugging me?" His
face darkened, and he flung the
needle at the windscreen, hard. "You're
"It's for your own good..."
"Of course it is." And now
his tone dropped into short, hateful
syllables. "Just like taking my gun.
Just like shooting me. That wasn't
enough, Scully? You had to do more,
didn't you?" He snorted, eyes
leaping about the darkened car. "Krycek
put you up to it, didn't he?"
"What?" And she could be genuinely
incredulous this time. "Krycek..."
"Been in with it all along, haven't
you? Can't believe I didn't see
it!" He was talking animatedly now,
punctuating phrases with angry hand
motions. "You work for the same
people, don't you? You've been in on
everything. From the beginning.
The reports... watching me... he's your
partner, isn't he?"
"Mulder, you're making no sense." She reached for the door. He
slapped her hand
back, hard, then fenced her in between his arms, hands
pressed to the
window on either side of her head, anger overpowering any
pain he might
feel from that action. Scully retreated into the corner as far
could go, her own heart beginning to pound an uneven cadence.
grinning at her, a disjointed smile, humorless...
"No... that's it. Making perfect sense, aren't I? Getting too close
to the truth? Can't believe I was ever so stupid. Can't believe I ever
you." His face was inches from hers, features distorted as he shook his
head slowly. "Never again."
"No." Slowly, deliberately, he placed one hand on her throat.
Scully froze. Watching
her reaction, Mulder tightened his fingers ever so
The professional mask went up immediately - part of her most
basic training. If you show him fear, Scully, he's going to act on it. Be
calm. Be cool. Wait him out. The sedative will take effect soon. You
can't fight him in close quarters... he's got the advantage of height and
The fingers tightened again.
He's also got a death grip on your throat, Dana.
The second hand joined the first. He could snap her neck now, if he wanted
to. If he was strong enough. Even if he wasn't, there were ways of going
about it. Crush her larynx. Suffocate her. Damned medical training...
every possible contusion and fracture came bounding into her mind. Every
possible way to die, literally at the hands of the one person she was
supposed to trust with her life.
She had to try something....
She dropped the facade of calm.
"Mulder... Mulder, stop it...please..." she heard her voice break, caught
his gaze and held it, exposing her emotions fully to his scrutiny. He could
see her heart pounding, if he looked hard enough, she thought. The grip did
not slack, and she allowed herself to tremble, but did not
look away. Keep his attention, Dana...
Her voice dropped to a
whisper as she felt the tears come creeping,
not mustered, not false.
"Mulder... you're hurting me..."
He did not release her immediately.
Slowly, as though the words
did not process clearly, he sat back, staring
at her. She counted every
breath, watched the expression on her partner's
face shift from rage to
confusion, and from there to a numb shock. When
he finally took his
hands from her throat, he turned that blank, glazed
regard on them, as
though they were somebody else's.
shoulders began to tremble, then shake, and he buried
his face in those
hands, and began to sob, quietly, a small, lost sound in the
She reached for him instinctively, and he allowed himself
gathered in her arms for a shuddering moment, murmured to
comforted for a scant handful of heartbeats. He did not
return the embrace,
only leaned into her warmth as if drawing strength
from it. Then he pulled
"Scully..." It was Mulder's voice
that broke now, pleading with
her. "Scully, what's... what's happening to
"You're sick." Useless to even try to explain now; he'd never comprehend,
or remember... so she spoke to him as she would to a child, to a young,
fearful patient. "You're very, very sick, and it's going to take time to
get you well again."
He nodded, understanding this time... but
his gaze was unfocused,
staring dazedly at his hands again. "I hurt you."
It was half a whisper.
"I hurt you." He
began to shake again, and his eyes were on her,
unnaturally clear, shining
fever-bright. A car passed by, illuminating his
face for a moment before
they plunged into darkness again. "Scully... I'd
never hurt you. You
know that, don't you? You believe that?"
"I believe you, Mulder." But his voice was rising now, desperate,
"I... I couldn't
hurt you. I couldn't. I..." The shining in his eyes
took liquid form,
and he leaned forward, reaching out with trembling
hands. They were hot,
clumsy on her face, her hair. "I wouldn't hurt you,
Scully. Never. You
believe me, don't you?"
She took his hands from her face,
squeezing, trying to convey all
her belief, all her faith, in one tangible
It was true. **Even when you're barely rational,
when you're running off after Lord-knows-what, even when I
what you're doing, what you say, what you think you know...
I believe in
She smiled, holding his hands tight... and
watched the drug begin
to take effect, loosening the tight-strung muscles,
drooping the eyelids,
relaxing the trembling hands in her own. After a
moment, Mulder leaned
back into the seat, head lolling. He caught her eye
once more, the gaze
cloudy now, blurred.
"I'd never hurt you,
Scully..." The words were throaty, slurred, a
ghost-voice. "You're my
partner..." And as the voice faded all the more,
his fingers tightened on
hers very slightly, one squeeze. "You're my
Scully noticed the car immediately when she woke. It was still
dark, and she glanced at her watch, cursing softly - she hadn't meant to
drift off at all. The last thing she recalled was tending to Mulder... the
night breeze, the silence all around - she must have dozed off before she'd
But she knew that the other car hadn't been there before.
The lower part of the chassis was visible beneath the trailer it was
behind, and Scully had her gun out instantly, not quite shutting
the door all
the way. The noise would echo like gunshot here. She hugged
the side of
the nearest trailer, pausing only when the wheels concealed
her own feet,
creeping around the back. The other car was out of place,
as was her own
vehicle, among the few, hulking big rigs that had also
pulled in while she'd
slept. It was a late-model blue Ford... and there
were no passengers inside.
Sliding back into the shadow of the rig,
she scanned the parking
lot. They were being watched... that much was
unquestionable. But why
hadn't they been taken while she slept? And why
had the watcher allowed
her to leave the car? Nothing moved on the
pavement... but the shadow in
the scrub bushes, not far from her own car,
was definitely moving.
Moonlight did not reflect off the silhouette of
the gun in its hand. It was
moving towards her car, peering in the rear
window. That was it, them...
they didn't want her at all. They wanted
Mulder. Scully raised her gun.
Even in the shifting paleness of
moonlight, she recognized that moving
shadow as Alex Krycek.
She did not
even think twice about releasing the safety and
pressing the muzzle into
the back of his neck. Krycek froze, head turning
oh-so-slightly, until he
could catch her with his peripheral vision, just as he
had in the
"Drop the gun, Krycek." Scully's finger tightened
on the trigger.
Her hands were shaking -- why were they shaking? Krycek
could feel that;
he couldn't miss it. He shifted, lowering his gun, but
did not drop it.
"Take it easy, Scully." he said, his voice
oily-slick despite its soft,
casual tone. "I'm not going to hurt him.
"Drop the gun." He didn't deserve a response. After all
he'd done, after all she and Mulder had been through, he didn't deserve
"I'm not alone." Krycek nodded towards the dark
bushes. "You know how it works, Scully. You know I'm just the point man
could be bluffing, or dead honest. Anger and frustration
threatened to get
the better of Scully's resolve.
"All I know," she said, steadying her hands. "Is that you, in all
likelihood, murdered my
partner's father. You tried to poison him, and
when that didn't work, you
killed an innocent man and framed him for the
murder. You're the reason
he's in this condition right now, Krycek, and
you don't deserve half the
chance I'm giving you."
"I didn't shoot him." The reply was as
even as her own,
reasonable. "You did that, Scully. Not me. And if
we're talking about
giving one another chances, have you stopped to ask
yourself why I'm the
one with the gun pointed to my head, and not you?"
He turned just a bit
further to face her, looking her fully in the eye
now. "You were sleeping. I
saw you. If I'd been here to kill Mulder,
I'd have killed you, first." He
paused, waiting for her response. "Don't
you want to know why I'm here,
Agent Scully?" He put a slight emphasis on
the title, a condescending
"No, I don't."
"I'm here because you don't have to do this." He went on as
though she hadn't
spoken. "No one's holding you responsible for Mulder's
No one blames you. We can't always be our brother's
keeper." He sighed,
running his free hand through his hair in the most
casual of gestures,
then deliberately put down the gun on the car roof,
facing her fully.
"Listen. We all know how you feel about Mulder. He's
Partners look out for each other. But it's too late for him. It
late when you were first assigned to him. He'd gone too far...it was
just a matter of time. You don't have to do this, Scully. You don't have to
throw your career out the door for him. We know you would. But you
don't have to."
A long silence, neither moving, neither speaking.
He was telling the truth. Or part of it, at least - fragmenting it. And
she recognized it for
the truth, regardless of the speaker. That was what
frightened Scully... and
Krycek knew it, too. Every moment she hesitated
validated that. She
didn't have to do this...
Krycek, very casually, reached for his gun.
She had her gun to his temple,
shoving him back against the car,
but not swiftly enough to prevent him
from pressing his own gun into her
chest. For a moment, one lingering
moment, their eyes met.
"They'll find you anyway, you know." he
said softly, slowly... as
though he had to choose the words carefully.
"Even if Mulder had shot me,
they'd still find you." His eyes held hers
for a breath longer, and his face
shifted subtly, softening, as if he was
about to say more... as if he wanted to
say more. Then, inexplicably,
Krycek lowered his gun, closed his eyes, and
In a swift, fluid movement, Scully drew back her arm and brought
the butt of the
pistol down on Krycek's skull. His eyes rolled white, his
and he slumped to the ground at her feet. She stared at him
barely more. She left him where he lay.
The only thing she took from him was his gun.
They had found their way back to the highway when a soft voice from the
back seat broke into Scully's personal whirlwind of thoughts.
"You're a better person than I am, Scully."
Mulder said. Risking
a glance, she saw him watching her fixedly, fighting
the drugs to half-sit
upright. His expression was muted by the blanketing
dark and the sedative,
but the dark spots that were his eyes were
thoughtful, and, for the first time
in days, he looked like the Mulder she
knew once more. Aware of her, the
car, his situation. He coughed,
winced, touching his shoulder. "I'd have
So he saw everything, she thought. And remembered. It was
wouldn't have." she told him. Then, smiling, she
chuckled. "I still
have your gun." And, from where he lay, Mulder twisted
out a drooping
half-smile, laughing soundlessly. Then his head dropped to
For a moment he seemed about to speak again - but then
thought better of
it, or could not find thestrength. His eyes closed, and he
did not speak
again after that.
One hour later, in the rose-colored light of a cloud-streaked dawn, they
crossed the border of New Mexico.