He stood over to the side of the lobby, mostly hidden behind a newspaper. He saw Paul exit the elevator and move quickly out the door along with the other visitors. Once he was out of sight, Mulder hurried to the bank of elevators and took the first one up to her floor.
He hesitated outside her door, but his instincts were leading him here. He’d learned to go with it, so he tapped on the door.
“Come in,” she called.
He smiled and came on in the room.
“Did you forget something?”
“No. I just . . . I was picking up some vibes earlier and thought I should check by.”
“I don’t understand. Do you need to interview me about the robbery now?”
“No, that’s not it. Did you have a nice visit with your mother?”
A bright smile lit her face. “Yes. Thank you for bringing her up. She said a nice man from the FBI directed her.”
“Well, I’m a man and I’m from the FBI.”
“You’ve been very nice to me.”
He looked away, then gave her a sideways grin. “Your mother said something about almost losing you again. Something about last year?”
Dana sighed. “She mentioned that to you? I think it was harder on her than on me sometimes.”
“What was harder?” He took the chair beside the bed.
“I was . . . missing for three months.”
“Missing?” he leaned forward. She shrugged, then grimaced. He moved closer. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I just can’t move in that direction too well.”
He nodded, waiting.
“The other, I don’t really know what happened. I was taken and . . . kept for three months.”
“You were rescued?”
“Actually I don’t know. Paul found me and nursed me back to health. I didn’t know who I was; I had no memories at all for several weeks. In fact, Paul was surprised when my memory did return. He had researched amnesia and he thought I would never remember.”
“Did he find your family for you?”
“What? Uh, no. I didn’t even know where I came from at the time. There wasn’t really a starting place. He was very good to me.”
“When your memories returned, did you remember where you’d been, who had taken you?”
She shook her head. “I did start having nightmares and had . . . flashes, but . . . “ her voice trailed off.
“Did they stop?”
“No, not really. I was upset about what was happening, so Paul got me some pills. I sleep much better now.”
“Don’t you think it would be better to remember, even if you had nightmares for a little while?”
She leaned back and just looked at him for a long moment. “And where did you get your psychology degree?”
“Oxford,” he grinned.
She gaped at him. “Are you serious?”
He nodded. “Yep, Ph.D. in psychology from Oxford.”
“I knew you were easy to talk to, but . . . “ she shook her head. “Why are you at the FBI?”
“Recruited. I’m a profiler.”
“A profiler? Isn’t that a star at the FBI?”
He chuckled. “A star. Yeah, that describes me to a ‘T’.”
She scanned him then. “Why are you here? Don’t get me wrong, you’re very kind to check on me, but - “
“But you should be sleeping now. I just wanted to make sure you were doing okay. You didn’t look that good in the ambulance.”
“You rode in the ambulance?”
He shrugged. “I’ll let you get some rest.” He rose from the chair.
He grinned and left the room. His smile vanished immediately once he was outside. He spotted the nurse glaring at him and he mock cringed. She shook her head and watched him walk to the elevator, enjoying the view.
He hurried home and powered up his computer. He logged onto the Bureau website and began a search in missing persons.
He had no trouble locating her file in under five minutes. Paul hadn’t been trying very hard. He pulled up the data and scanned it quickly. The second time he read it more slowly and took notes.
Well, now at least he understood why he was drawn to her. She’d been taken, not kidnapped. The fools that had investigated the case hadn’t wanted to see any connections, if they were even familiar with the commonalities.
Neighbors had mentioned a blackout, localized, just the building and a shaking like an earthquake, but of course this wasn’t earthquake country. Nothing else had been taken, no money, no credit cards.
Mulder leaned back, wondering how many people at the Bureau knew about this case. It had been kept from him, of that he was sure. Why else had it been filed under “X”. He needed to see the original files.
Once the thought had occurred to him, it wouldn’t go away. He slipped back on his shoes and headed for the office. This late at night, there was just a skeleton crew so he was unobserved as he headed for the file room. His search didn’t turn up her information, even on the hated microfiche.
With a headache, he started to leave, but returned to the “X’s” one last time. At the very back of the drawer he saw a note. The rest of the files were stored in the basement. The basement? Shit. He came very close to walking out right then, but she came back to his mind. They both needed to know what had happened to her.
He made his way down to the basement and into the dusty file room. Oh yeah, these cases were top drawer. Things were a mess and it took him a while to figure out the filing ‘system’. It was nearly 2 a.m. when he found it. He pulled the file and started to leave when his eye was caught. He turned back to the drawer and the blood left his face. Samantha’s file. He had known it was here somewhere. This Dana Forrester had led him to it. He took both files and hurried to his car. His headache was incredible now and the few headlights he passed nearly blinded him. By the time he got to his apartment he was unsteady on his feet.
Instead of studying the files he had discovered, he staggered to his couch and collapsed on it, the files still clutched in his arms.
“Do we have to watch this, Fox?”
“Leave it, the Magician comes on next.”
“I don’t want to see this!” Samantha yelled at him.
“Mom and Dad left me in charge. Are you going to play?”
Instead she stood up and reached for the knob on the television. Without warning, the lights went out. “Now see what you’ve done,” he said disgusted.
Before he could rise, the room began to shake. He heard a picture frame fall over and Samantha cried out in fear. “Fox!”
Light was coming in around the shades, painfully bright and, and wrong somehow. “Fox!” He looked away from the light and spotted her floating in the air, unable to do more than cry out.
“Samantha!” He woke with a start, sitting up abruptly and dumping the files onto the floor. He sank back down, breathing hard, his heart pounding, rekindling his headache.
He hadn’t had that one in ages. He shouldn’t be surprised; he’d been holding his holy grail - Samantha’s file.
He was awake now; there would be no more sleep that night. He forced himself to his feet and headed for the bathroom. He relieved himself, then took some aspirin and returned to the couch.
He gathered up the files, which had become intermingled and spread them out on the coffee table. He could see parallels even with this meager information. When the sunlight came through his window, he sighed and closed the files.
He rose, stretched and headed for the shower. He wanted to get over to the hospital and see Dana, Mrs. Forrester, as soon as he could.
He wasn’t surprised to see Paul at her side when he knocked at the door. She looked uneasy, even uncomfortable having him there. Mulder entered and nodded to Paul. “Did you have a nice visit with your mother?”
She looked up then, a mixture of relief and gratitude on her face. “Yes, yes I did. Thank you for directing her to the room.”
“All part of the service.” He had guessed right, she didn’t want her husband to know they had spoken without him. He took a seat and pulled out his notebook.
She was able to give him clear and concise information about the robbery. Her answers were full and helpful, as though she had been taking notes herself during her ordeal. He finally commented on it.
“Oh, I seem to notice things, details, better than I did before . . . a few years ago.”
“Well, you’ve been very helpful. When the trial - “
“Will she have to return for a trial?” Paul interrupted.
“Unless we get a guilty plea, yes. She’s our main witness and a victim of the man.”
“That’s not going to be possible. We need to get home, hopefully today. I have work - “
“I’m afraid she’s not going to be able to leave for several days.” No one had heard the doctor enter, but they all turned to him now.
“We need to get home. My son is missing school and I - “
“I understand, but your wife had a serious injury and major surgery. I want her to stay here at least two more days, but if I release her then, she’ll be in bed at home. You’ll need to hire some nursing care and someone else to look after your son.”
The look of anger on Paul’s face caught Mulder’s attention and he rose, positioning himself slightly closer to the bed. She looked up and thanked him with her eyes.
“Look, it’s none of my business, but since Mrs. Forrester has family here, maybe she could stay with them temporarily, while she’s recovering. That way she would be available if the Bureau has more questions and you wouldn’t need to hire a nurse, just an after school - “
“You’re right; it is none of your business,” Paul interrupted again.
“But it is a good idea,” the doctor spoke up. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to check out my patient.”
She looked up, meeting Mulder’s eyes briefly. He gave a tiny nod, then looked away. “Well, I need to check on our robber. Thank you for your help, Mrs. Forrester, Mr. Forrester.” He left without looking back, but he could feel her eyes on him.
His other interview was still under guard and unconscious, so he returned to the office. He transcribed his notes, keeping his mind as far from the files sitting in his apartment as he could. During the day, he managed that, but once he left to return home, it was back. So was his desire to see Dana.
The hell with it, he turned his car in that direction and parked in the visitor’s lot. The last thing he wanted to do was run into Paul, but he wanted, no, he needed to see Dana again. Instead of heading straight for her room, he went upstairs first to check on the prisoner, but didn’t bother the guard when he saw the sign on the door for no visitors and to check at the desk. Instead he headed for the stairs and moved down to her floor.
The door was open and from his angle, he couldn’t see anyone else. He headed for the nurses’ station. “Is Mrs. Forrester still here?”
“Yes. She’s in 312.”
He held up his badge. “Is she alone?”
“Thank you.” He headed down the hall and tapped on her door.
“Come in.” She looked toward the door and when she saw it was him, her smile warmed him.
“Hi. How are you feeling?”
“Better now.” She held out her hand and he moved toward her, taking it.
“Is Paul around?”
Her smiled dimmed then. “No. He decided to head home with Randy.”
“I’m sorry. I really was out of line with that - “
“No. Please don’t apologize. I, I didn’t have the nerve to suggest it myself. When the doctor agreed with you . . . “ She shrugged. “I should be thanking you. Mom and Ahab are delighted.”
Now he was smiling as he took a seat beside her. He realized he was still holding her hand and glanced down at it. She immediately tugged it out of his hand, blushing.
“I didn’t really think I’d see you again.”
“It didn’t feel like an appropriate goodbye earlier. And I didn’t especially want to say goodbye.”
“I . . . I don’t know what to say to that.”
“Sorry, I just, I feel like we were supposed to meet.”
He leaned back. “Sorry again. I’m not saying this right. The last thing I want to do is scare you.”
“I’m not scared, but I am puzzled. What do you mean?”
“If, if you don’t mind, could I talk to you some more about your abduction?”
“I’m surprised you’re thinking about it.”
“Could I just ask you a couple of questions?”
“Okay.” She looked puzzled, but open to him.
“What’s the last thing you remember that night?”
She relaxed back again the pillow and her eyes lost focus. “The lights went out. It startled me and I remember wondering if the batteries in the flashlight were any good. That was my last thought.”
“Do you remember the room shaking?”
She looked up startled. “Yes. Some books fell over. I hadn’t - you know something about this. Do you know who took me?”
“No, no I don’t know, but I have seen this before.”
She just stared at him for a long moment. “Are you going to catch him?”
He looked away first. “I don’t know.”
“Who else? Is she okay? Was her memory affected?”
“I, uh . . . “
“Oh, you can’t talk about it, it’s a case, right? I’m sorry.”
“No, that’s not . . .When you were rescued, were you physically okay?”
“You mean aside from my memory? I was weak, like I had been in bed for a long time, but I wasn’t sick.”
“You were in a hospital,” it was a statement, but he was watching her.
“Uh, no. I wasn’t sick,” she repeated. “I was at Paul’s home. He’d had me checked over by a doctor, but since there was no reason to keep me. . . and I had nowhere to go. He took very good care of me.”
“So that’s how you met.”
“Yes. I just woke up in his home,” she paused then. “That sounds so strange when I say it. At the time, I was just so grateful to have someplace to be. For weeks I didn’t know my name, he called me Miriam - that was his mother’s name.” She looked down, “I’m not sure he was pleased when I remembered my own name.”
Mulder’s eyes narrowed, so far he hadn’t learned a single thing about this man that made him feel positive. “You married him rather quickly.”
Her head shot up and he regretted his words. “He cared for me; he protected me and gave me a home and security.”
“You’re right. I apologize.”
She seemed to deflate slightly at his words. “I suppose it does seem strange. He’s quite a bit older than me and sometimes he treats me like another of his children.” She was studying her hands now.
“Considering how he found you, I’m sure he feels protective. Did he tell you how he happened to find you? I mean, were you in Atlanta or . . . “
“He was on a trip, and took a day to sightsee. He found me out in the desert.”
“He was in Las Vegas for a meeting. He drove out just to look around and I was out there. He said I was wandering around, sunburned, and dehydrated. He took me back to his room and eventually to his home.”
“Do you remember any of that?”
She shook her head. “Nothing, I just woke up in his guest room.”
“I’m surprised he didn’t take you to a hospital. They should have been able to - “
“He did what he thought best, Mr. Mulder.”
“You’re right.” Mulder tried to smile. “Did your parents attend the wedding?”
Her face fell then. “No, I didn’t have my memory back then.”
He made no comment, though he had several, to that. To change the subject and hopefully warm the atmosphere, he changed subjects. “When are you going to get to leave the hospital?”
She accepted his change. “Hopefully, day after tomorrow. I’ll spend probably a week at home, then I’ll have to return to Atlanta.”
Have to? He let that go; he was already so far over the line even he knew it.
“I suppose I should let you rest. It was very nice meeting you, despite the circumstances.” He held out his hand and saw the look of fear on her face.
“I, I guess this is goodbye.”
“Would you let me know when you’re released? Maybe . . . “
“I’d be happy to,” she seemed to seize the opportunity to see him again, and the relief he felt startled him. He pulled a card from his pocket and wrote his cell phone and home numbers on the back.
“You can call any time.”
They just looked at one another for a long moment.
“Well, you take care. Let your mother look after you. I think she’d really like that.”
Dana smiled. “I believe you’re right. Oh, they wanted to say thank you again.”
“It’s been all my pleasure. I, uh, well, bye,” he said with just a touch of loss in his voice, then without looking back let himself out of her room.