He rounded the corner headed toward Skinner’s office and was abruptly stopped by the boy plowing into his legs. He managed to keep his feet and grabbed the boy to keep him from falling as well. “Whoa, big guy.”
He looked up to see a girl hurrying after the boy. “I’m so sorry. He got away from me.”
He looked down at her and smiled. She was older than he had first thought, a woman, not a girl, with a woman’s body. Her red hair fell below her shoulder and wisps curled around her face. She looked up and the bright blue eyes caused his smile to grow. She didn’t look old enough to be this boy’s mother, and there was no resemblance. He had dark hair and eyes, looked around 8 or 9 and even this young was slightly overweight.
She couldn’t help her appraisal of him. Tall, over six feet, dark wavy hair that flopped down over his forehead. His eyes were hazel and she liked the way he looked at her, even though she shouldn’t. That brought her up short and she looked down at the boy again. “Randy, we have to stay with the tour.”
“I don’t want to!”
“Randy, stop this. Come with me.”
“I don’t have to do what you say!” She took a deep breath, steadying herself.
“Actually you do, buddy. Your mother’s right -”
“She’s not my mother,” the boy sneered.
She looked up at him, obviously embarrassed. “Stepmother.”
He nodded. “Okay, why don’t I take you back to the tour? I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder.” He held out his hand. She shook it, then he offered it to Randy.
“Dana Forrester. This is Randy.”
“Nice to meet you.” He motioned toward the elevator and his hand touched her lightly on her lower back, leading her in that direction. She was quiet, so he turned to Randy. “Are you visiting the city or do you live here?”
“My dad had an important meeting, so we came with him.”
“That was nice of him, to bring you. I guess you haven’t been here before?”
Dana smiled then. “Actually I lived here for a short while. My father is stationed at the Pentagon.”
“Military or civilian?” he asked, wanting to keep her talking for some reason.
“Military. My father’s career Navy, Captain William Scully.”
“That’s good. You'll get to visit with your family.”
Her smile faded then. “Uh, no. There won’t be time to see them this visit.”
The elevator doors opened before he had a chance to ask anything else. Randy bolted from the car. “I want to see the dinosaurs! You said we could!”
Again he watched her take that deep breath and steady herself. “Okay. We’ll go over there now.” She looked up at Mulder. “Thank you, Agent Mulder.”
“My pleasure. I hope the rest of your day is better.”
She opened her mouth, then just closed it and nodded. He watched them go with a vague feeling of regret, but he shook it off. She was married with a kid, completely off limits.
He turned back to the elevator and headed toward Skinner’s office again. His mood plunged further. If he was being summoned, there had to be a problem.
The phone interrupted them and Skinner grabbed it impatiently. “I said to hold my calls.”
“Yes sir, I’m sorry. There’s a situation.”
“There’s a robbery in progress at Craddock Marine Bank, just down the street. The police called, there are hostages.”
“Shit,” Skinner muttered. “Is the negotiator there?”
“On the way, sir.”
“Thank you.” He broke the connection and turned to Mulder. “We’ve got a problem down the street, Craddock Marine, hostages.”
“You need to go,” Mulder started to rise.
“I need you to head on over there.”
“I’ll be right behind you. The hostage negotiator is on the way.”
Mulder nodded, going from a dressing down to being in charge of a crisis took a minute. He headed for the door.
Running down the street, Mulder reached the barricade quickly. Holding up his shield, he approached the closest police officer. He was directed to a plainclothes officer.
Again Mulder displayed his shield. “Agent Mulder. Can you bring me up to speed?”
“Detective Gregory.” They shook hands. “Yeah. One guy as far as we can tell. Five employees, we’re not sure about customers, at least three, and three children.”
“Children? Shit. Have you contacted him?”
“Once. He didn’t much want to talk.” Gregory motioned for a woman to join them. “This is Meg Jackson, one of the tellers.”
Meg glanced back over at the front of the bank. “I was at lunch. I can’t believe . . . What’s going to happen?”
“We’re going to work this out. Right now I’d like you to describe the inside of the bank,” Mulder reassured her.
Using the detective’s notepad, she sketched the layout. By the time she’d finished, the negotiator, Agent Curtis, was there along with a couple of other agents.
“Sp-Spooky?” the short one behind him stuttered, surprised to see him here no doubt, but handed him a vest.
Mulder turned a carefully bland face toward the man. “Agent Morris.” He took the vest then turned his back on the man and began consulting with the others.
After a few minutes Curtis took a deep breath. “I better try to reach him.” He took the phone the detective handed him and dialed.
While he talked, Mulder moved over to check on the swat team that had been assembled. When he looked back Skinner had arrived. Mulder returned to them and waited for Curtis to bring them up to speed.
When he hung up, he turned to Skinner. “He says he’ll give us the three kids as a show of good faith.”
“Good,” Skinner nodded. “The more people we can get out of there, the better.”
He went quiet when the door opened and two little blonde girls and a dark haired, slightly older boy, stepped out onto the sidewalk. Police grabbed them up immediately, getting them away from the building.
“Mulder, we need - “ Skinner looked up to see Mulder break into a run toward the children. He glanced at Curtis, who shrugged. Shaking his head he watched Mulder lean over to speak to the boy.
“Randy? Are you okay?”
The boy was sniffling, but not crying. He nodded finally.
“Is your mom, Dana, is Dana in there?”
Randy nodded again. Mulder looked over at the bank, then closed his eyes for an instant. “Look, we need your help. Can I make you an honorary G-man?”
The boy’s eyes widened slightly, and he nodded. “Follow me.” With his hand on the boy’s shoulder, Mulder led him back to Skinner and Curtis.
“Mulder, what are you - “
“This is Randy Forrester. His mother, his stepmother, is still in there. I thought he could help us with the layout.”
Skinner stared at him for a moment.
“She’s a friend of mine,” Mulder continued.
Skinner’s eyes widened slightly at that, but he turned to the boy. “Please to meet you, Randy. I’m Walter Skinner. We have a map of the bank. Do you think you could tell us where the people are?”
“Yeah, uh, yes sir.” He looked down at the hand drawn map Curtis spread out in front of him. While the two of them talked, Skinner took hold of Mulder’s arm and moved him away.
“Who the hell’s the kid?”
“I saw him and his stepmother this morning at the Bureau. They were part of the tour and he bolted. He ran into me, literally, and I led them back to the public area.”
Skinner just stared at him for a long moment. “Okay, fine.” He turned back as Curtis was thanking the boy.
“I’ll be right back,” Curtis said, moving toward the swat team.
Mulder looked down at Randy. “You did good, Randy. I thought you guys were headed toward the dinosaurs.”
“She said she needed some money for lunch.”
Mulder nodded. Before he could speak, Skinner joined them. “Agent, we need you.”
“Yeah. Randy, stay here with the officer. I’ll be right over there.” He followed Skinner a short distance, so that Randy couldn’t overhear them. “Did something happen?”
“Yeah. We’re not sure what, but he’s angry now. He’s not talking to Curtis. The team says he’s waving his gun around and yelling at the hostages. Something set him off, damnit. This is deteriorating,” Skinner muttered, keeping his voice down now that press was beginning to gather.
Curtis joined them, his face carefully bland. “He won’t even pick up now. I’m thinking that - “ The sound of a shot from within the bank caused Curtis and Skinner to both look up, but Mulder staggered back, falling into Skinner.
He’d regained steady footing, but his face was drained of blood. “He shot her.”
“Dana.” Then Mulder was racing for the entrance.
“If you’ve got a shot, take it!” Skinner spoke urgently into the walkie talkie. Almost before the words were out of his mouth, a second shot was heard, this one from above and behind him.
“He’s down!” Someone from the swat team reported back and several officers charged the doors. Mulder was only a couple of steps behind them.
The officers converged on the man, but Mulder bypassed him completely, seeing the officers on point around him. They already had him disarmed and weren’t being especially gentle despite the blood on the floor around him. Mulder’s goal was farther into the bank lobby. Two women were blocking his view, but he moved them out of his way and knelt beside her.
“Dana, can you hear me?” There was blood coming from her side and beginning to pool under her. He felt for a pulse and was rewarded with a faint one at her throat.
She didn’t respond. “We need those paramedics in here, now!” he called back behind him as police led the other hostages out of the building.
“Excuse me,” the paramedic spoke up, getting his attention and moving him out of the way. “Get an IV in her; I think her lung’s collapsed. Oxygen and get that board, we don’t want to move her yet.”
Mulder was quiet, but he hadn’t moved far. That’s where Skinner found him. “You okay?”
Mulder nodded but didn’t speak.
“Who is she, Mulder?”
He shook his head then. “I didn’t meet her until this morning.”
Skinner frowned, it wasn’t that he didn’t believe him, but the level of concern was way out of proportion. And how had he known she was the victim? No way to ask that here with all these other agents around. The Spooky comments were too frequent already.
“She’s here with her husband and the boy; some business meeting for him. Randy might know something. Oh, and her father works at the Pentagon, Captain William Scully.”
“This morning, Mulder?”
At that Mulder met Skinner’s eyes. “Yeah. This morning.”
“She needs to be transported. Gentlemen,” the paramedic drew their attention to make room.
“I’m riding with her,” Mulder heard himself say. No one tried to stop him, assuming he needed to speak with her if she regained conscious in the ambulance. Skinner watched him trot beside the gurney with his eyes narrowed.
She didn’t wake in the ambulance and Mulder found his concern growing though he kept his mouth shut. He didn’t understand a third of what was being said but he didn’t want to distract anyone.
In the ER, he was ignored as he watched, out of the way, but present in her cubicle. His badge had given him that much access, so he didn’t push. The need to be here had him confused, but he was going with his instinct.
She was breathing easier, but the bullet still had to be removed. They would be taking her into surgery now that she was stabilized. He wouldn’t be leaving.
Surprised by his request, the doctor allowed him into the recovery room when she emerged from surgery. Her doctor had assured Mulder that she would recover and allowed him five minutes since her husband had not yet arrived.
Once he had seen her, his sense of foreboding dissipated slightly and he finally returned Skinner’s calls.
He returned to the hospital following his debriefing and once he got her room number, hurried upstairs. The door to her room was slightly ajar and he heard a man’s voice. He hesitated, listening.
“How could you be so stupid? I gave you money. There was no reason to go into a bank. You put Randy in danger. I gave you two twenty dollar bills. That was more than enough - “
“One of the twenties was a five, Paul. I didn’t realize it either until - “
“Are you correcting me?”
“No. Paul, I’m sorry but I don’t have a credit card and I didn’t have enough cash to use a cab and buy lunch. You said not to use the Metro. I would never put Randy in danger on purpose. Please, Paul.”
“You should have checked before you left the hotel. I will not tolerate - “
“Excuse me, Dana?” Mulder pushed the door open unable to hold himself back any longer.
“Who are you?”
Mulder pulled his shield from his pocket. “Special Agent Mulder.” He turned away from the man then and smiled at Dana. “How are you feeling?”
“I, uh, I’m fine.”
Paul looked over at her, his eyes narrowed.
“Uh, Paul, Randy and I met Agent Mulder at the Hoover Building this morning. Randy ran away from the tour and Agent Mulder was kind enough to lead us back.”
“You made a friend,” Paul said it mildly but Mulder saw her cringe briefly before getting herself under control.
“I wouldn’t say friend, Mr. Forrester. But your son was a big help during the robbery. He was able to let us know where everyone was positioned, how many people were inside.”
“Randy did that?”
Mulder nodded, seeing the man’s posture improve at those words. He looked back at Dana. “You’ll have to be debriefed about the incident. I’ll wait until you’ve had a little more time to recover from the surgery, probably tomorrow morning. Have they said how long they’ll be keeping you here?”
“A few days. Paul needs to get home.”
“The man, what happened to him?”
“He was shot. He’s upstairs in custody.”
“They should have killed him,” Paul growled.
Mulder shrugged, not willing to agree with this man. The door opened without warning and a large man in a naval uniform hurried into the room. “Starbuck!”
“Ahab? Ahab!” Her smile was blinding as the large man took her carefully into his arms.
“How are you? They said you were shot.”
“I’m okay, especially now that you’re here. I got caught in the middle of a bank robbery. Agent Mulder here rescued me.”
Again Mulder caught the narrowed eyes and general tension in Paul, but he turned to shake hands with the older man. “Fox Mulder, sir.”
“William Scully. I’m very pleased to meet you.”
“I’m a little surprised to see you, William,” Paul spoke up finally. “Did Dana call you?”
“No, the FBI notified me that she’d been injured.”
Dana’s eyes flicked to Mulder, then away quickly. “They must have found your name in my purse. I don’t know where its gotten to.”
“It’s not safe to keep such personal information in something you can’t keep up with, Dear.”
William stiffened but he kept quiet at that, turning back to Dana. “Well, however they found me, I’m grateful.”
Mulder realized he should leave however much he didn’t want to. She needed to spend time with her father and it was a cinch Paul wouldn’t be leaving them alone. He cleared his throat, “Sorry, just wanted to let you know I was leaving. I’ll be in touch tomorrow about that debriefing.”
“Thank you again, Agent Mulder.” Captain Scully shook his hand again, squeezing it slightly. Dana smiled, but said nothing. Paul, too, was silent, if anything pleased to see him going.
Mulder was headed for the front door of the hospital when he saw a dark haired woman hurry toward the entrance. He held the door and she thanked him with a quick nod. He hesitated and watched her rush to the information desk, something about her eyes . . .
“Dana Sc-Forrester. Do you have her room?”
“Mrs. Scully?” Mulder approached her and she turned, puzzled and looked up at him.
“I can show you to Dana’s room.”
“Th-thank you.” Her brow was furrowed but she moved quickly toward the elevator with him.
“Are you a friend of Dana’s?”
He pulled out his shield. “I met her today.”
“Did you rescue her?”
“I was at the site. Your husband is with her.”
“Oh good,” she breathed a sigh of relief. “Is, uh, is her husband with her?”
She looked down at the floor for an instant, than met his eyes. She forced a smile. “How is she?”
“Doing better. She was thrilled to see her father.”
Mrs. Scully seemed to relax a little at that. “I can’t believe this is happening. We almost lost her last year and now this.” She shook her head.
Last year? He didn’t ask, she was just babbling, but he tucked the comment away to think about later. “Well, she’s doing very well now.”
The older woman smiled then, a full smile and he met it with one of his own. The elevator stopped then and the door opened. He held it while she exited but didn’t follow her.
“Agent? Aren’t you - “
“I’ll be back in the morning to get her statement. I think she needs the time with her family now.”
“Thank you.” She held out her hand and he took it.
“I’m glad you’re going to have some time with her.”
Mrs. Scully looked slightly puzzled at those words, but nodded and stepped back, allowing the elevator to close. Mulder returned downstairs, musing over her words. Why had they almost lost her?