Opportunity or Fate - 6/?




William took the elevator to the fourth floor and hurried to the end of the hall.  He saw a paramedic standing over someone.  He couldn't see who, then the police lead two men out of the apartment in handcuffs.


"Be sure you take their pictures and prints," Mulder called after them.  "Because I can guarantee you everything you do will disappear and whatever you think you're charging them with will go away."  He turned to the paramedic.  "It's not that bad, please I need to go to the station - "


"You may need stitches, Sir.  The police have them in custody."


"It won't matter, they'll - "  He spotted William then.  "Did you see them?  Get a good look at them?"




"Good.  Hey, why are you here?  Where's . . . "


"We were worried about you."


Mulder looked puzzled for a moment, then realized what William was saying.  His eyes widened, and he rose from the side of the couch where he'd been sitting.  "I'll get the stitches, but I need to get to the station.  I'll sign whatever you need."


The paramedic looked exasperated, but William joined them.  "I'll make sure he gets that taken care of."


With a huff, the young man butterflied the cut and wrapped it.  "You need to sign this, that you refused treatment."


Mulder scrawled his name on the sheet and turned to William.  "We need to - "


"Why don't you pack a few things?  You don't want to have to stop by here until things settle down."


Mulder nodded and turned toward his bedroom as the EMTs packed up.  He returned shortly with a gym bag and William reached for it.  "I can - "  But he handed the bag over without another word at William's expression.  They took the elevator down and saw that the police with the two attackers had left.


William discretely pointed to his car and they headed that way.  They saw that Dana had moved to the back seat and had found a baseball cap, which now covered her red tresses.  She looked like a young boy waiting back there.  Mulder had to grin, despite how his morning had gone.


He slipped into the front seat next to William and they headed toward the Scully home.


"You're hurt!"  She sat forward, spying the bandage on his arm.


"It's just a scratch."  He turned toward William.  "I really do need to get to the station.  They are definitely going to be set free and the information will disappear."


"Do you think it's safe - "


"You need to have your arm - " Dana and William spoke together.


Mulder looked over at William.  The word safe had caught his attention.  "If these are the guys I think, they know I'm in contact with Dana."  He was speaking to William now.  "She's not safe."


"I'm not safe?  You were attacked in your own home."


"And that can't happen to you.  William, she needs to go into hiding, at least for a little while."


"So do you," William responded to the younger man.  "We need to make plans."


Mulder nodded, looking forward again and going silent.


William pulled into the garage and closed the door before anyone got out.  He led them into the kitchen.


"Fox, are you okay?"  Maggie hurried into the kitchen.


"It's just a scratch," he said quickly as she took his hand.  "I've got an idea, but I need to make a phone call."  She nodded, confused, but pointed to the phone on the wall.


He dialed quickly, then, "Reggie, it's Mulder.  My apartment was just broken into.  I got stabbed, but I'm going to be okay."  He met Dana's eyes and winked, shaking his head.  "Yeah, I'm getting it looked after, but could you run over to the police station and make sure the pictures and fingerprints don't mysteriously disappear?  Yeah, a neighbor called 911 and they caught them there, called an ambulance for me.  Looks like I'll be out a few days.  Yeah, if you can get copies that'd be great.  Make extras.  I know, I know, indulge me, okay?  I'll make it up to you.  Yeah, mail one copy to this PO Box."  He gave him the number.  "Yeah, three rounds at least, you pick the bar.  Thanks.  I'll call."  He broke the connection and turned to the anxious family behind him.


They all took seats at the table and looked expectantly at Mulder.


"I, uh, I have an idea.  I'm sure this ties back to Paul.  That means Dana could be in danger and I think she needs to disappear for a few days at least."


"Disap - " Maggie started.


"I have time off now; they won't be looking for me at the Bureau.  She and I could get out of town.  I have a place, it's better if you don't know specifics.  But, while we're gone, I think you should report her missing to the police and the Bureau.  Make a stink; remind them that she was missing once before and that you believe her husband is involved.  Talk about the lies he's told - his job, finding her in Nevada but no record of bringing her back, the funky medication he put her on.  Mention Rouche every chance you get."


"Why?" Maggie asked, confused.


"If Paul has been lying about himself, it's because he doesn't want anyone to know what he really does.  Dana had no reason to doubt him, but now that we know he's been experimenting on her, the pills, the mind games . . . they don't want publicity.  They never want their work to see the light of day; it's one of the reasons for keeping Dana from you.  Look what's happened in a few short days.  She knows now.  She can't go back to him."


"We certainly agree with that," William sighed.  "Do you think I can get anyone to listen?"


"I have some friends who know publicity.  You've probably never heard of the newsletter, The Lone Gunman, but - "


"The Lone Gunman?" William interrupted.  "You know those guys?  I never miss it.  Don't always agree, but I at least get a good chuckle."


Maggie looked over at him.  "You read that kind of thing?  You see lights in the sky; next you're going to tell me you're really a Marine."


"Now don't blaspheme, Mags," he shook his head and winked, then turned back to Mulder.  "I can work with them if they're willing."


"I'll give them a call.  And while we're 'away' we'll have to communicate to you through them.  It'll be safer for everyone."  Mulder turned to Dana.  "I didn't . . . are you okay with this?"


She smiled then.  "Thanks for asking, and yes.  After everything Paul has done to me, I want him exposed."


"Good.  You need to pack for two or three days, jeans and things."


"I'll help you," Maggie rose and the two of them headed upstairs.


"Sir, I'll take care of her."


"If I doubted that, you wouldn't be leaving here."  Mulder nodded.  "What do you need, cash? Anything?"


"No, this place, we won't need much.  I, I appreciate your trust in me."


"I've seen you two together.  I've seen what you give her, and to some extent what she gives you.  She knew you were in trouble this morning.  I don't know how she knew, but there was no doubt.  I can't say I understand that exactly, but I appreciate it.  It seems to me that over the last few days it's grown stronger."


Mulder nodded, but didn't speak.


They heard the two women returning.  "Well, I guess I'll take you back over to your car."


"Yes, but only I can get out.  I'll meet you at the convenience store on up Hegal.  I don't want anyone to see the two of us together."


"Good idea.  What about those friends of yours?"


"Right, I'll call them now."  He started to pick up the receiver as Dana and Maggie joined them.


Maggie handed him a sling.  "You need to look more injured than you are," she said before he could protest.


"Good idea," William agreed.  "Call your friends and I'll put everything in the car."


Mulder made his call, jotting down the number they wanted the Scullys to use to contact them.


Mulder took the front seat beside William, while Dana lay hidden in the back.  It looked as though William had taken him to get his arm looked at to anyone watching.  Mulder got out, saying thank you and got into his own car awkwardly.  William drove off and Mulder left in the opposite direction.  About ten minutes later, he pulled into the convenience store and popped the trunk.


The transfer took little time and they were on their way.


William hurried back to his own home and picked up Maggie.




William pushed into the precinct door, uniform pristine, and marched to the counter.  "I need to report a missing person."


The reporters hanging around looked up, and even the officer on the desk seemed to come to attention.


"My daughter is missing.  She's been staying at my house since she was injured in a bank robbery a couple of weeks ago.  I believe her husband has something to do with her disappearance."


"Wait a minute; she's an adult, married?"


"Yes.  Her husband has been lying to all of us.  Paul Forrester, he told us he was an investment banker, but we've discovered that he actually a research scientist with Rouche Pharmaceuticals, and he's doing experiments on humans.  My daughter for one."  He held up a small baggie with several pills in it.  He could see the interest in the reporters, who were moving carefully closer.  "I need to speak to a detective."


"Sir, I'm sorry.  We can't take a missing persons report for forty-eight hours on an adult.  Maybe she just went back to her husband."


"She's afraid of him.  He's been lying to her for months; keeping her from her family, her friends."


"Sir, again, I'm sorry, but - "


"You say he's a research scientist with Rouche?"  One of the reporters had approached them now.


"Yes, and I'm afraid he's going to start feeding her these drugs again."  Those friends of Mulder's were right; wearing the uniform had been the right decision.  He was getting respect and people were listening.  He could see a plain clothes officer approaching now.


"Sir, may I help you?"


"Uh, Captain!" the reporter drew his attention back.  "What's in those pills?"


"Here, take one, have it analyzed.  You won't believe me."  He withdrew one of the pills and handed it to the reporter.  The detective winced, but had no reason to stop him.


"Let me take your report.  We can't do anything yet officially, but I can get the information at least."  He led the Scullys back to his desk and the reporters talked among themselves.  The one with the pill took off.  William, and Byers, hid their smiles.




Dana slipped into the drivers' seat as soon as she slipped from the backseat of her father's car.  Mulder blinked but this wasn't the place to cause a scene.  He let himself into the passengers' seat and she drove off, having already told Ahab goodbye.


After they were out of sight of the place, he turned to her.  "Why are you driving?"


"Your arm is injured; you don't need to be flexing the muscles driving."


"You were shot."


"That was ages ago."  He saw the tiny quirk of her lips and settled back in the seat.


"You don't know where we're going."


"But you can navigate," she retorted, her eyes on the road.


He had to admit, she was a lot feistier than she had been when he had met her.  He liked it, and realized that this was her true personality without those drugs that Paul had been feeding her.  He'd been attracted to her before, now . . .


"Where are we going?"  She asked after getting on the freeway, bringing him back to the present.


He turned to her opening his mouth and suddenly froze.

"Wha - "  She stopped when he touched a finger to his lips.  He pointed to an exit off the highway and silently she took it.  He directed her to a large truck stop.  She glanced at the fuel gauge, which read full, but she didn't protest.  She pulled in front of the store and parked.

Mulder reached around to the back seat and hissed as his arm touched the seat.  Before she could scold him, he stepped out of the car and opened the back door.  He located a small black draw-string bag.  She watched as he pulled out a small instrument and begin to walk around the car.  

Concerned she stepped out herself, slipping on her ball cap and adjusting it to conceal her face more.  "Dana, go inside, use the ladies room, buy some snacks anything.  I'll join you in a minute.  Just get out of sight."

Truly worried now, she complied.  She glanced back and saw him reach up under the rear passenger tire and pull out something.  A homing device?  She hurried behind a counter to shield herself from view of the large window.  

Mulder entered the building and walked through to the other side, where the showers and facilities for the truckers were housed.  He knew what he was doing; she scanned the parking lot for anyone that was watching him.  She purchased some snacks and drinks and waited for him.

When she spotted him returning, wiping his hands, she moved to the car and got in, starting the engine.  He slipped back into the passenger seat.  "We okay?" she asked.

"Yeah, fall in behind that big rig with the dark blue cab.  We're going to follow him for a little ways, then pull off when we're ahead of him and out of sight."

"You found a tracker."

He nodded, not as surprised as he'd expected to be that she had picked up on what was happening.  Her father was right.  "I'm sorry I didn't think about it earlier - "

"No, this is probably better.  We've led them in a wrong direction for a while, now that we feel safe, we're turning to our 'real' destination.  I think it's that white car."

He gaped at her for an instant, then smiled.  This was definitely the woman without the drugs to slow her down.  Yes, he'd been attracted before, now he was fascinated.


They drove for an hour before she pulled over to get gas and stretch.  He saw her wince when she straightened up.  "That's it, I'm driving for a little while."


"Muld - " but his expression shut her up.  Maybe they could share the driving for a while.  It was a seven hour trip.


They both used the facilities, then headed back out.  They talked of their childhoods, Mulder telling stories of the cabin where they were headed, Dana talking of the trials and tribulations of a large family growing up.  They were both surprised that they still had things to talk about when he, driving once again, turned off the highway and into a small community of houses.  He pointed to a small cottage and drove past, then backed into the obviously unused gravel driveway.


She looked over at him and he shrugged.  "Might as well make them work to look at the license tag."


He opened the door with a key on his ring, and peeked inside, then let her in.  "It's dusty, but - "


"That's not a problem.  We can let it air out."


"I'll run get us some dinner after I get the power and water on."


"No need."


"You're not hungry?"


"No, Mom packed us food.  Remember, oh, you were on the phone with your friends while Dad loaded the car.  Open the trunk."  Laughing she watched him return to the car after flipping the appropriate switches for the electricity.  She was beside him when he opened the cooler.


"Damn, she really is serious about fattening me up."


"You have to share," she reminded him and she reached for the handle.


"No, you can't lift - "


"I'm not, we're going to lift it.  You can't use that arm."  He opened his mouth to protest but saw the lift of her eyebrow and took the other handle.  They placed it on the counter that separated the kitchen from the main room and she shut the door to the refrigerator, left open to keep it from mildewing, to let it cool down.


He went in search of the main water valve and she began taking the dust cloths off of the furniture.  She heard the water gurgling in the pipes as he returned.


"Want the tour?"


"Sure," she moved over to him.


"This is the living room, dining room, sitting room, whatever you need room," he grinned down at her.  "That's the kitchen."


"Gee, I'd never have guessed," she said dryly.


"Which is why I'm giving you the tour," he responded, moving toward one of the doors opposite the kitchen.  "This is the bath, you can get in from out here or the bedroom, so be sure to unlock both doors when you're through.  And this is the bedroom."


"The bedroom?  There's only one?"


"Yeah, Samantha and I slept in the loft."  He pointed back out to the main room and she stepped out eyeing the ladder.


"I think I can do that."


"What?  No, I'll sleep up - "


"You can't even stand up there, much less sleep.  No, I can - "


"I couldn't stand straight the last time I was here and I did fine."


"Tell me you were over six feet then."


"No, but - "


"So, I can sleep in the loft."


"No."  He turned away then and she grabbed his good arm.  He looked down at her trying to be slightly menacing but she was only looking up at him, her eyebrow raised.  "Look, I have a cut on my arm, you had major surgery.  You should have the bed."


"If I have a nightmare, you might hurt yourself coming down that ladder.  Then what good will you be to me?"


He blinked at that and she saw him glance at the too short couch.  "Well, I could - "


"You could share the bed."


That stopped him short and he just stood there, looking down at her.


"Well, you could," she said, slightly embarrassed.  "I'm not offering my body to you, but there's only one bedroom."


"You could offer - "


She turned her back on him and returned to the kitchen as he grinned at her.   She unloaded the cooler into the refrigerator and found where the pots and pans were stored in the oven.  She rinsed a pot off and chose a container to heat up.


"I need to find a pay phone and check in with the guys."


"Wait until dark."


He couldn't argue with that, so he began opening windows to air the place out.  He hadn't been here in years and now he could admit he'd been apprehensive coming up here, but with her beside him, it wasn't so bad.  No, not bad at all.


He helped her get dinner ready, washing dusty plates and silverware to her satisfaction and then sitting down to eat another delicious Maggie Scully creation.  He watched her eat with real enthusiasm and realized how much freer she was feeling.  After eating and washing up their few dishes, they took a seat on the couch to wait for dark.  He saw her mood begin to sink.


"What's wrong?"


She looked up, startled.  "Nothing, I - "


"You're thinking about something that's bothering you."


After a moment she nodded.  "Randy."


That took him a moment, and he was surprised at the flash of jealousy he felt at the response of a male name before he remembered.  "Your stepson."


She nodded.  "If his father is somehow punished for what he's done to me and probably others, who's going to look after him?"


"Do you feel maternal towards him?  I mean, you lived with him for all of these months."


"No.  I guess that makes me sound hard hearted, but there are no maternal feelings around that boy.  He made my life hell, but I know it wasn't entirely his fault.  He's the way Paul raised him."


"What about his mother?"


Dana shook her head.  "I don't remember her ever being mentioned and there were no pictures of her in the house.  Even Randy didn't have one in his room."


"Maybe he was hatched," Mulder commented hopefully.


Dana snorted lightly.  "He might have been, but he's still a child and will have to be cared for by someone."


"When I check in, I'll have the guys start a search for family for him.  It could be his mother has been excluded on purpose by Paul."


She nodded and looked out the windows.  "Is it dark enough?"


"For me, yes.  You're staying here."


"What?  I can - "


"You can stay out of sight.  I'm only going to be a few minutes, just to the gas station, use the phone and right back.  Unless there's something we need?  I can - "


"No, I think we're fine.  You won't be long?"


He crossed his finger over his heart and she smiled.  He rose and picked up his jacket, feeling for the keys, then winked at her and headed for the door.


She felt the cold as soon as the door shut.  It was psychological, she knew that, but he wasn't here.  She headed for the bedroom and located some sheets, fastidiously stored in a zipper bag and made the bed, then returned to her seat on the couch.  How long had he been gone?


She found her jacket and pulled it around her cuddling back into the couch, feeling very alone.


It was the first thing he saw when he returned to the cabin, her huddled under her coat, staring at nothing.  "You're cold," he accused, moving toward the windows to close them.


"No, not really, just . . . " she shrugged.


He closed the windows anyway and then joined her on the couch, his arm going around her automatically.  "They know we're here and safe.  Your parents did go to the police and it went off beautifully.  A couple of guys from the press were there, like they predicted.  They jumped on the story immediately and one of the reporters took a pill to have it analyzed.  Byers said your father took command."


Dana smiled at that.  "I am not surprised."


"Look, it's been a long day.  Why don't you go ahead and get ready for bed.  I'll find the sheets and - "


"Already done."


"You should have waited for me.  You're not supposed to be tugging at mattresses."


"I didn't tug."  She sighed.  "I guess I will get ready.  It's ridiculously early, but I am tired."  She rose and headed for the bedroom.


He watched her leave, a little unsure if she was being truthful.  She had looked frightened when he'd returned, but she obviously didn't want to talk about it.  Why shouldn't she be?  She was alone in a strange cabin, in an unfamiliar location, with a barely known companion - running from her 'husband'.  He sighed.


He looked up when the bedroom door opened and had to stifle a laugh.  He wasn't completely successful and she glared at him.  "I guess your mother doesn't trust me after all," he ventured, sizing up the pajamas.  She looked like she was wearing her older brother's pj's.  He was surprised there weren't cowboys and horses adorning them.  Oh wait, that had been his old pj's.  "It's certainly not as attractive as last night's ensemble."


Her cheeks pinked slightly at those words, but she pulled again at the waistband.  "I should have been paying better attention which she packed," Dana groused.  "I should have thought about this elastic waistband."


"Is it against your incision?"


She nodded.


"You can't wear that.  Is it really all she packed?"


Dana nodded, disgusted.


"Look, that will keep you up all night.  You're welcome to borrow one of my t-shirts.  It should hit you about mid-calf."


She narrowed her eyes.  "I am not that short."


He grinned and started toward the bedroom.  "You just keep tellin' yourself that little lady."


She glared at him as he ducked into the room and returned immediately dangling a gray t-shirt from one finger.  She huffed as she snatched it from him and shut the door firmly in his face.


He was still chuckling when she emerged, but the sight caused the mirth to die.  He had exaggerated, the t-shirt didn't reach her knees, but the soft curves underneath it caught his breath.  She had to have noticed, because she wouldn't meet his eyes.


"I, uh, I know it's early for you, but the offer of sharing the bed is still open, whenever you decide . . . "


"I'll go ahead and get ready too," he said.  "It has been a long day."


She retreated into the bedroom, leaving the door open and after a moment he followed, picking up his kit and stepping into the bathroom.  He emerged, still fully clothed.  She was watching.


"What do you normally sleep in?"


"Me?  Uh, my boxers, a t-shirt if it's cold."


"Are you cold?"


He shook his head.  Cold, did not describe how he felt right now.  She only nodded and pulled down the covers on his side of the bed.  He hesitated a moment, then took a seat at the side of the bed and removed his shoes, socks and after a moment's thought, his jeans.


She was watching him, her expression serious.  "You said you weren't cold."




"So why are you still wearing the t-shirt?"


"Oh, I uh, I didn't want to make you uncomfortable."


"You aren't."


He nodded at that and slipped the shirt off over his head.  She took his injured arm into her hands and examined the bandage.  No blood, no seepage.  She nodded and relaxed back, reaching for the bedside lamp.


Before she could say the room was truly dark, he had moved closer, turning her on her side and wrapping himself around her back.  She started to speak, but then just relaxed into his embrace.