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Murder in the Capital

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Part One.

 

Prologue

October 27, 1920. 

“Are you sure I’ll be out of harm?” she asked in a soft, throaty voice.

Instead of an answer, Mulder reached out, and tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. He focused on that strand for a moment, his fingers still against her jaw, letting electricity ripple through his body before he could remind himself that this was neither the time nor the place.

“Detective Mulder?” she asked, sliding her hand over his free arm to get his attention. “This is safe?”

All he could do was swallow hard, and nod, before finally meeting her eyes. She couldn’t ignore it- there was a wall of doubt in them.

“You’ll be fine,” he whispered, dropping his hand to rest on her knee. “I’ll be right over there in the mens washroom if you need me. Detective Krycek will be on the door.”

“I don’t know about that man,” she confided, in a voice barely loud enough for him to hear. “He could be a mole or a spy…”

Mulder couldn’t help but smile at her. “Such the skeptic.”

She rolled those big, beautiful eyes. “What can I say?”

“If he is or if he isn’t, its a matter for another day. If anything happens with our man, I’ll be here in a moment. Alex is simply a precaution.”

She nodded, taking a deep breath.

“Hey,” he said. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” she forced a smile. “Just a little nervous.”

“You’ll be great,” Mulder encouraged. “All you have to do is talk to him a little. Flirt, just get him to invite you to a club and get the location.”

“Then we ambush him there? Tell me again why it can’t be here.”

“We need backup, and they won’t send anyone for the little information we have now. All we need is a location, then we can send word,” Mulder said. “Once we get him into custody, we can get the names of his bosses.”

“Alright,” she inhaled, deeply. “I can do that. Just need an invite to go with him somewhere, anywhere.”

“Right. When you give the signal, I’ll come back from the bathroom, as your husband and scare him off.”

Dana rolled her eyes. “Don’t let it go to your head, Mr. Mulder. We are conducting an investigation.” She raised an eyebrow. “What? Nothing to say to that?”

His eyes were locked on a man who’d just entered the room. “I’d ask to pursue you, yet again, Miss Scully, but it looks like our man is here.”

“Oh, shit,” she muttered, and flipped open her compact to check her appearance.

“You look beautiful,” Mulder assured her, leaning down to kiss her on the cheek.

She gave him a look.

“What? We’re supposed to be married.”

“Well, go before he sees you.”

Heart thudding in her chest, Dana approached the man who’d just entered and slipped onto the stool beside him.

“Hi,” she said, as seductively as she could muster.

He looked her up and down before answering. “Hello. Who might you be?”

“Dana,” she said.

“s a lovely name,’ he said, with a smile that caused something deep in Dana’s stomach to clench. “My name’s Barry,” he said, “Dua-“

He was interrupted by a crash coming from the men’s room. In the corner of her eye, Dana could see Alex Krycek emerge from the darkened corner. Her gut clenched again, sensing something was off, but before she could even act on it, Mr. Barry slid his hand over hers. 

“Dana,” he said, “I have somewhere to be, and I’d very much like to take you with me.”

 

 


Chapter One. 

May 15, 1918. 

Fox Mulder was being a nuisance. Even she couldn’t ignore the beauty of the blossoming world outside the windows of the makeshift hospital, but it didn’t mean it would have been, in any universe, a good idea to bring him outside. 

“Just ten minutes. I have a watch you could time it on,” he begged, as she made another round. “Fresh air, Dana. I could use it.”

“Mulder,” she began, sitting down beside him to take his pulse. “You and I both know you’re too sick to go outside.” 

“But the gardens outside are gated,” he protested. “And I wouldn’t be out there long. It’s not like I’d get anyone else sick-“

“Mulder,” she said, in a firm tone. “If you can stand up, right here, right now, no cringing in pain whatsoever, I will take you outside.“

He sighed, and laid his head back, knowing all along this was the outcome. She watched him, her heart sinking a bit, knowing how much he’d wanted to go. Dana had grown fond of this man and his simple desires. The other patients, despite their fevers and coughs, had distinctly other requests for her, but Mulder only desired a book. Weeks ago, she’d brought him a book from her own bookshelf. And then another when he’d finished that. By the time his fever broke (for an hour, but it was something), he’d made it through nearly all of her collection. He only began asking about the gardens again when he’d finished every last one she had. 

“Well,” she said, after taking his temperature. “Your fever’s down a degree.” 

“Call up the mayor, this deserves a parade,” he said, his voice hoarse and tired.

“It’s a start. You’ve been doing better, that’s something.” She tried to sound encouraging, but this was not a place that made it easy. 

He nodded slightly, staring wistfully out the windows. “The city’s beautiful this time of year. The park, with all the trees blossoming…” His voice trailed off.

“There’ll be other years to go out and see it,” she said, grabbing his attention back. That kind of talk was almost forbidden by an unspoken rule there. With too many people in and out, coughing and crying, the future was never a topic of discussion. But in a soft voice, muffled by her mask, just to him in their little cot-sized bubble, she wasn’t afraid to be optimistic. “I’m sure when we do get a chance, you’d prefer not to be aching in every limb and have a fever like a furnace.” 

For the first time in far too long, his reddened face cracked a weak smile. “If I didn’t know better, Miss Scully, I’d say you just invited me on a date.”

She rolled her eyes, only then realizing she’d said ‘we’. “In your dreams, Mulder.”

“Don’t I know.” From any other patient, she would have left immediately, restraining herself from slapping them. But with him, she simply looked down at her hands in her lap, and blushed. She was certain he could see it through her mask. 

“I better finish my rounds,” she said. 

“You’re not moving,” he noted, almost happy about that fact. 

She looked at him and hesitated. “There’s been some rumors.”

“Rumors?”

“Some talk about treatments up north that have had good results for influenza.” Dana’s voice was low, so no one would overhear her. 

His eyes grew wide. “What is it? I want to try it.”

“I don’t have any evidence that it works, Mulder.” 

“Please,” he begged.

She looked down at her hands, nervous. It wasn’t what she’d been trained to do. If it negatively affected him, she would be devastated. But before she could tell him any of this, a weak hand slid into hers and squeezed. She looked back up at him, before lacing their fingers together briefly, just to feel the warmth. 

“I’ll go get it,” she whispered, and squeezed his hand once more before dropping it. She couldn’t help but think about how intimate this gesture was as she walked back to her coat. How intimate they were. He was her patient. They’d known each other only a number of weeks. But they had seen each other every day of those. 

Dana pulled the small bottle out of her coat pocket. She gripped it for a moment, staring at it, as if wishing on its contents like a shooting star, for their ability to make him better. She took a deep breath, and moved back to his bedside, taking the glass of water off his nightstand to pour the liquid into. She swirled the glass around a bit, watching the amber solution mix into the water, before handing the glass to Mulder. 

“Drink it all,” she whispered. 

He took a sip, and nearly did a spit-take. “Is this-“

“Yeah. It’s vinegar.” 

Mulder opened his mouth to protest, but then glanced at the orderlies, striding to a man three beds away with a stretcher and a sheet. He pinched his nose and drank the entire glass, handing it back to Dana. 

“I’ll get you another,” she said, quietly. 

“I’m feeling better already,” he croaked, before launching into another coughing fit. 

She returned to his side with another glass, and a wet towel for his head. If her fingers lingered in his hair after pressing the towel over his burning forehead, she would have fervently denied it. “Get some sleep,” she said. 

He nodded, his eyes already slipping shut. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

May 15, 1918

Dana Scully finished her final rounds at 7 pm, just early enough to begin her long trek home in the daylight. It was cold, especially for the spring evening, so she wrapped her arms tightly around her stomach, and sprinted out of the building. 

He’d been waiting for her to leave. Mr. Mulder normally fell asleep before any of the day nurses shifts were over, so he’d been moving into position earlier than 7, but recently, this Scully had been gotten too close to him, and became a new, unforeseen threat. 

He entered the hospital dressed in fresh, starched scrubs, walking among patients unseen. They were right when they told him this job would be a cakewalk. In hospitals these days, if you wear the uniform of the grim reaper, no one will even look you in the eye. 

He moved quickly towards a bed. There lay Bertram Post, eyes shut tightly, arms laying weakly by his sides. He felt for the man’s pulse, feeling it feather-light on his wrist, and fading quickly. Moving fast, he unfurled the sheet he’d carried beneath his arm, and lay it over the dying man’s body. 

“You need some help with him?” An orderly appeared behind him, already laying down a stretcher. 

“Sure, thanks,” he said, gruffly, grabbing his end of the sheet to lift him onto the stretcher. 

Together, they carried Mr. Post out to the ambulance, and lay him on one of the bunks. As he strapped the body in, an arm flinched suddenly. He glanced up at his new friend, wondering if he was going to ask questions. The other orderly simply shivered. 

“I hate when they do that,” he muttered. 

“Yeah,” he agreed. “After you.” He gestured to the door. 

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” the guy said, as they got out, and he shut the ambulance door. “Hey, you new here? I’m Jack-“ he stretched his hand out for a shake. 

He hesitated, remembering specifically being told not to talk to anyone. “I’m just the driver,” he said, leaving the guy with a hand outstretched.

In the rearview mirror, he could see that guy- Jack- shaking his head, staring at him driving away, as though he couldn’t believe the dick he just helped. Better Jack think about that rather than question why he was only transporting one body in a six-bed ambulance. 

Behind him, Mr. Post groaned, weak and muffled under the sheet. He just gripped the steering wheel tighter, and pressed down hard on the gas.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

May 23, 1918
Mulder woke up to light streaming through the windows, casting shadows over the already grim room. He felt groggier than normal, his body aching more, his palms clammier than he fell asleep with. Dana had said it might take a few days to seem like there was any change with the vinegar. That didn’t stop him from searching for her among the rows of beds, hoping she could assure him that nothing was wrong. That, yet again, she was sure he was going to be fine. But he couldn’t find her- not a glint of red hair in sight.

He reached over to the nightstand with great effort to retrieve his water glass. He pinched his nose, pulling it to his lips, not wanting to taste any more of the bitter vinegar than he had to. But when he took a sip, the water was clean, without a single trace of the jarring flavor. It raised alarms in his head, knowing Dana was too organized to have simply forgotten. It was at that moment, that he noticed her friend- Nurse Sawyer- headed his way. 

“Mr. Mulder, how are you feeling?” she asked, taking a seat in the chair by his bedside, a stark contrast to Dana, who’d just sit directly on the small cot next to him. 

“A little worse,” he croaked, as she jammed a thermometer into his mouth. “Where’s Da- Nurse Scully?”

Nurse Sawyer dropped her hand from his forehead for a moment, staring at her lap as if collecting her thoughts. When she looked back at him, there was a grim expression on her face, and for a moment, Mulder’s heart stopped, worried that something horrible had happened to Dana. “Her father…” she began. “Her father was a captain in the navy, and late last night, her family got word that his ship had been bombed, and he didn’t make it.” 

Mulder was instantly relieved, though felt extremely guilty for that. “I’m so sorry,” he mumbled, as she freed the thermometer from his mouth. 

“Me too,” she whispered. “I’ve known that family all my life… I can’t imagine what Dana’s feeling right now.”

There was a beat of silence between them, both worried about their friend. Nurse Sawyer broke the silence. “Your fever is up, Mr. Mulder. But its not by much, and so I wouldn’t get too worried. Just try to sleep more and drink more water. I left your mail on the nightstand, if you feel like reading it.” 

He only nodded, and stared into the distance as the nurse walked away. Several minutes passed before he reached over to the pile of letters. Two from Samantha. One from Mother. One from his buddy in college. One from his C.O. back at the precinct. He discarded the latter three, not wanting to think about social life on the Vineyard, or who’s wife is expecting, or even a update on the cases he’d left behind when he got sick. He didn’t want to think about all the lives that were moving on around him, without him. He certainly didn’t want to think about the possibility of death, and the ensuing pain it would cause. First, it was the family of the guy in the next cot over. Then, it was Dana and her father. He couldn’t bear the thought that his family and friends might be the next to experience it. And if there was one person, other than Dana, who could take his mind off this illness and not treat him with pity, it was his little sister. 

At nineteen, she’d started working in the local elementary school. Every letter from her regaled him with the tales of these three little seven year olds in her class, who kept trying to sneak extra pudding at lunch, or bargain with her for extra recess. At the end of the letters, there was also an update on home life, but it was mostly what their parents had recently started fighting about, and her latest escape plan for getting out of their “damn house”. Apparently, she’d also been studying up on the typical sailor’s vocabulary. 

In the most recent letter, Sam began telling him that several of the kids had gotten sick, so school had closed for the time being. He nearly stopped there, that fact not taking his mind off his current, pathetic state in the slightest. But she was his sister, and he needed something to do so he skimmed the rest of the letter. Mother and Father had been bringing young men he’d gone to school with by nearly every night for dinner, hoping to set her up. The Beecham’s moved to a larger house in Chilmark, and Rosamund Beechum can’t stop talking about her new kitchen, and it’s driving Mother crazy. 

Mulder coughed several times, before carefully folding the letter back up, depressed and angry at the injustice of it all. He tried to take a sip of water, but it hurt to even swallow, so he set it on the table and curled up on his lumpy cot, finally letting his eyes slip shut again.

 

 


When he woke up the next time, he couldn’t tell if it was a dream or real life, but Dana Scully leaned over him, her hand on his forehead, and her brows furrowed with concern. He opened his eyes further, and began to tell that this was in fact real. Her nurses cap was missing, and she was still wearing a coat, her hair messily pinned to the side as though she’d just run here in the middle of the night. 

“What are you doing here? I thought-“ he croaked, wincing in unspeakable pain as he tried to sit up. 

“Shhhh,” she said, putting her hands over his shoulders to ease him back on the pillow. “You got worse and they sent for me.” Her eyes looked sleepy and red-rimmed, and he felt a pang of guilt rush through his achy body. 

“‘m sorry.“

“Mulder, you can’t control this, so don’t worry about it. Just lie your head back and let me put a cloth over it.” 

He closed his eyes briefly, before opening them feeling the cool cloth being draped over his forehead. 

“Your fever’s not going down, so I’m going to have to get some layers off you. I know you’re feeling cold, but you can’t have this many blankets.” She talked to him, even as his eyes slipped shut. 

“Dana,” he said, not having the energy to open his eyes and look at her. “You don’t have to take care of me…” 

“Shhhhh,” she said. “Don’t worry about it. Just go back to sleep. I’m going to sit with you for a couple hours, though, and make sure you’re doing alright." 

He didn’t respond for another moment. 

“Dana?” he whispered. “I’m sorry about your father." 

She remained silent, taking a seat at the foot of his bed. Just before he drifted to sleep, however, he felt her slide her hand into his and squeeze. 

 

 

 


When he awoke, she’d been sitting by his bedside, reading from a book. She looked up immediately sensing his movements. 

“Hey,” she said, gently. 

“Hi,” he said, just barely above a gravelly whisper. 

“How are you feeling?” 

He just groaned in response. 

“I know it’s going to hurt a lot, but I need you to sit up and drink this entire glass of water.” 

“Dana-“ he started to protest. 

“You’re very dehydrated, Mulder. You really need to drink it.” She slid her hands under his arms to help him sit up a little better, before handing him the water from his bedside table. It was that plain stuff again, no vinegar. His sore throat thanked her for that. 

“What are you reading?” he asked, sipping slowly from the glass. 

She glanced down at the book folded in her lap. “Moby Dick. Its a book my father used to read to me when I was younger. He is… was a navy captain for all of his adult life, and lived on the sea practically all of his childhood. He found a copy in the barracks on one of his trips, and since then, it was always one of his favorite books. He used to read it to me and my siblings when we were young.” 

She stared down at the beaten up book in her lap. Maybe it was the lack of uniform, or the wrinkled black dress contrasted with the stark white nurses mask, but she seemed smaller. Almost more fragile, even though he knew that wasn’t the case, that would never be the case. 

“Dana,” he said. “You don’t have to be here. I’ll be alright-" 

“No,” she said, firmly. “It’s okay. I want to be here. I need to be.” Her voice cracked towards the end. 

He smiled up at her, as best as he could, unwilling to press the issue. “Well, I’m glad for the company.” 

She just nodded, and swallowed hard. 

“Dana, are you-“ 

“I’m fine,” she said, firmly. 

Mulder painfully reached over, and took her hand in his, linking fingers and squeezing softly. She stared at him, eyes watery. He saw something in them, fear or deep sadness, and he couldn’t imagine what she was going through right at that moment. But he did know her, even if they’d only just gotten close to each other. So, despite the pain, he set the glass down before laying back on the bed. He thought he heard her mumble something about getting some rest, but he closed his eyes before he could know for sure.   

He couldn’t keep track of the time that passed, but he lay awake for some time, eyes shut tightly, listening to the sound of tragedy around them, and Dana’s soft sobs joining the chorus. All he wanted was to get up and pull her into an embrace. But it would have been painful, not to mention improper. So, instead, he just lay there, pretending to sleep, giving her all the privacy that he could, and letting any passerby think she was simply a grieving wife with her dying husband. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

May 31, 1918. One week later. 

“All I’m sayin’ is that if you pay him so much attention, then why not me?” The old man jutted his chin at a sleeping Mulder two beds away. 

Dana closed her eyes and for a moment pictured some sunny beach far away from there, before turning back to the man lying in bed in front of her. “Mr. Davison, Mr. Mulder is of no concern to you. I can assure you I’m giving you both the same treatment medically.”

“Eh, who’s talking about medically?” The older man said, wiggling his eyebrows in a way that made Dana want to strangle him. But she took a deep breath and composed herself, before answering. 

“Sir, was there anything else you needed? A glass of water? Cool washcloth?” 

“Oh there’s a couple-“ 

“Mr. Davison. Either of those things?” She snapped, which clearly took him aback. 

“No… no. And young lady, I suggest you don’t talk like that-“ 

Dana had already turned to stride away before that sentence was even finished. She pulled her mask down in frustration, finally getting a breath of fresh air, before quietly tucked herself behind the curtain in the nurses area, wanting desperately to hide until Davison had fallen asleep. She’d been there three minutes by her count, going over notes trying to look busy, when Ellen found her, knees to her chest on the floor. 

“Hiding from your patients?” She teased. 

Dana looked up at her friend. “Don’t even start with me.” 

Ellen sighed, and slid down the wall next to her. “He’s a nightmare, isn’t he?” 

“Why are the repulsive old men always treated here?” 

“I’m just continually impressed by their ability to forget all about influenza the second they see a skirt. At least you get the only good patient in here, that Fox guy.” 

Dana laughed. “Believe me, he’s a challenge in his own way.” 

“'Least he’s a cute one.” 

Dana chuckled. “Maybe. I’m just glad… oh what was his name. James something.” 

Ellen looked up abruptly. “Dane, I think he died. Weren’t you on duty when it happened?” 

It was her turn to look shocked. “What? I mean, I was there the day they transferred him out of here. He was doing better. I actually thought it was weird they moved him but I assumed they needed the bed for sicker patients.” 

“Really? That is strange.” 

They sat in silence, listening to coughing echoing through the room like a slow march towards the inevitable. It was hard not to get down in that place, with horrors visited upon every patient. 

“Mr. Mulder seems to be doing better,” Ellen said, breaking the painful silence. 

“Yeah, I’m really glad. He was looking really bad for a while.” 

“He’s crazy about you, you know.” Ellen nudged her shoulder playfully, giggling like they were in school all over again, with silly crushes. 

“He just wants special treatment and knows decent manners go a long way.” 

Ellen rolled her eyes. “Missy was right about you. You can be so thick about this kind of thing.” 

“What?” 

“Dane, every time I go to check on him, he tells me not to tell you I’ve already been over there. I swear if he weren’t sick with such a horrible disease, you two would be practically engaged by now.” 

It was Dana’s turn to roll her eyes. “Ellen, I can assure you. Whatever potential may exist between Mulder and I will remain a mystery until he’s completely healed and out of this godforsaken hospital.” 

Ellen leaned forward and peaked her head around the thin sheet that was separating the nurses station from the fleet of cots set up through the space.

“Regardless, I think your Mr. Mulder is awake, and could use your company.” 

Dana shoved her shoulder, before standing up, and sliding her mask back over her face. “Lovely conversation, El.” 

 


 

Mulder opened his eyes about fifteen minutes later, slowly at first, checking to see if the coast was clear, then all at once. Frank Davison, two beds over, was a nightmare to be awake for. The guy separating them was slightly better, but he was taken away three days before, and since then, Frank had been on his nerves so bad, Mulder practically wished the influenza would just take him already.

Dana made her way over a few minutes later, sat down on the side of his bed, and felt his forehead. “Have you been feeling better?” 

“A bit.” He coughed. “Better than last week.” 

“Well, it does seem like that. If you keep on making this kind of progress, we might be looking at a discharge soon.” 

He gruffly laughed. “Don’t jinx it.” 

“When the doctor checked on you yesterday, he mentioned the same prediction to me.” 

Mulder raised his eyebrows, surprised, and quietly relieved she was so hopeful.

“That’s really good.” 

Dana looked down at her hands. “Yeah. I’m really glad I’ve been paying such a close eye to you since that scare.” 

“Ah, so you have been playing favorites,” Mulder teased, glancing over at Davison’s bed and cracking a grin. 

Dana rolled her eyes. “You heard all that.” 

“I’ve been faking sleep when he’s awake so he stops asking me how to talk to you.” 

She smiled widely at him, knowing he couldn’t tell under the mask. “Thank you. Really.” 

“Keep tellin’ him the way to your heart is incessant begging for attention. It worked for me at least.” 

“Never mind.” 

He laughed, which turned into a coughing fit. Dana reached into her pocket and pulled out a thermometer, and stuffed it under his tongue before he could even protest, her hand lingering on his clammy forehead a moment. 

“Somefing wong?” He asked, despite the thermometer. 

“No, just taking your temperature.” She took a deep breath before checking it. 

“Its still high, isn’t it?” he immediately regretted getting his hopes up. 

“Technically, yes, it’s high. But it is one degree lower than it was this morning.” 

Mulder smiled encouragingly, trying to help her find the tiniest shred of good in this godforsaken place. “Progress, huh?”

She wouldn’t meet his eyes. Despite throwing back her normal, witty responses to his jokes, she seemed distant.  “Dana… are you okay?” 

Dana shook her head, as if brushing him off. “I’m fine.” She glanced around.“This place just gets to you sometimes.” 

He nodded knowingly. 

“You know, one minute someone’s here, the next they’re not.” 

Mulder nodded, and Dana glanced down at him, eyes wide, for the first time realizing who she’d just confessed that to, and in what situation he was in. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. 

“It’s okay.” 

She looked down at her hands. “There was this other patient I treated a while ago, and… I hated him. So much. I couldn’t stand being around him. And a week and a half in, he was gone one morning. I assumed he had just been transferred somewhere else, or had died, but… I guess it just hit me this morning that I’ll always remember that man with such contempt, but I never knew what happened to him.” She paused. “You’ve been here for a while, and since we’ve gotten to know each other, there was a personal attachment to this work. It’s just jarring to remember that this isn’t the job for that.” 

Mulder was quiet, knowing she clearly didn’t regret what they’d become, but not knowing what to say. 

Dana just shook her head and stood up. 

“Have you tried to find out what happened to him?” he asked, trying to seem helpful to her. 

She shook her head. “I asked the orderly I’m always on duty with just before I came over to check on you, but he doesn’t remember anything and I couldn’t find the copy of a death certificate or transfer sheet.” 

He frowned. “Isn’t that kind of suspicious?” 

She rolled her eyes, although fairly half-heartedly. “Mulder, there are so many people in and out of this hospital. There was probably just confusion with names or something…” her voice trailed off as she watched him slightly shake his head, and mull it over in his head. She nearly pressed the issue further, but thought better of it. The more his mind was off his illness, the better he’d feel. Since she’d run out of books to occupy him with, she let him fixate on the mystery. 

“I better get back to my rounds,” she said, and got a sweet, half-smile out of his cracked, pale lips. 

“Drink up,” she said, gesturing to his half-full glass of water. “I’ll come back to fill it when you’re finished.” 

He only nodded, his eyes almost glazed over, deep in thought. She had her own thoughts, and walked from his cot with a newfound curiosity to match his. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Five 

 

June 5, 1918.

Dear Samantha, 
My fever’s down another degree. Dreadfully exciting stuff, I’m sure. What with the two downs and one up and then another down and another up and then two downs since last Thursday. I’m sure you’ve been anxiously awaiting an update.

Mulder groaned and scribbled out the note. 

Dear Samantha,  
Dana says My nurses say that I’m getting a bit better. They’re still worried I could get worse but they’re hopeful. 
Regarding your last letter, I can’t offer much advice in the way of Jeffrey Sinclair, but if I remember from baseball in boarding school, his left knee is bad and one quick kick could have him leaving before dessert. 
Da One of my nurses has lent me a book to make my way through. If the library in Chilmark has ‘Moby Dick’ I recommend it. It’s far better then listening to our parents fighting about your love life. 
I really do think I’m getting better. I know its a rare case with this illness, but I’ve been aching less. 


Mulder tapped the pen against the page, unsure of what to say to his sister. There wasn’t much to talk about anyway, with him bedridden in a smelly, disease-infested hospital, and her quarantined to their parents’ home. 

Tap tap tap. 

He couldn’t figure out why he was so reluctant to tell her about Dana. Likely out of a deep-seated fear that he was really just a patient, and everything that had happened with them was just an exaggeration in his own head. 

Tap tap tap. 

“Hey would you knock that off?” 

Mulder glanced over his shoulder at Davison, who was groaning and writhing in pain. 

“Sorry,” he mumbled, unsure how well he could even hear him from that far away, but not wanting to push the issue with the dying man. 

“Thanks,” he heard him mumble, and glanced over in surprise, knowing how bad Davison must be feeling to express any manners. Two beds away, the once-irritating man seemed even smaller, and more desperate. He could feel his pulse rise, while he tried to dismiss the potential there was that he could end up in the same place. 

Mulder glanced back down at his letter, desperately not wanting to think about the tragedy unfolding a yet-again empty cot away. 

He reread what he’d written, debating if it was worth the stamp. No, he decided, and crumpled it up with the rest, before curling back up onto his cot.

He couldn’t fall asleep immediately, but kept his eyes shut nonetheless. As the summer was wearing on, the hospital got fuller and fuller, and nobody knew why. He’d been there for weeks, and he hated how few faces looked familiar, and how much pain was occurring around him. He kept trying to convince himself that the long time he’d been there was a good sign, considering how much turnover there was. But regardless, he clung to Dana and the familiarity of their friendship. 

Two beds away, he could hear Davison coughing and retching, and he squeezed his eyes shut tighter, listening to his neighbor gradually drift to sleep. 


 

He was warned this would be the most dangerous extraction yet. Two beds from Mulder and he was still fairly conscious. But he was up for the challenge.

Armed with a tranquilizer and a starched sheet, he approached the soon-to-be late Frank Davison, quietly eyeing Mulder for signs of sleep. He then swiftly bent down, inserted the needle strategically into Mr. Davison’s arm, and discarded it quickly. Mr. Davison woke up enough to weakly protest the puncture to his arm, but quickly went out like a light, and without wasting a second, he pulled the sheet out and covered Davison up like procedure. 

He motioned for another orderly to come help him, and carried the man out to the ambulance no trouble at all, however, carefully eyeing the other orderly for any indication of suspicion. 

He drove the ambulance away, unbeknownst to him that inside the hospital, Mr. Mulder opened his eyes, and stared suspiciously at the vacant cot. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Six

June 6, 1918. 

He woke up early to the loud clatter of something hitting the ground by the next bed over. He looked over to see a nervous orderly frantically mopping up glass shards next to the now occupied cot. Some guy got moved in during the night, but he didn’t look like he’d be there long. Pale faced, and motionless, he lay asleep flat on his back with arms placed at his sides. Mulder looked away, trying, for the millionth time since he was brought into this godforsaken hospital, to ignore the thought of impending mortality. 

He turned away, just in time to notice a glint of red hair among a sea of white sheets and uniforms headed towards him. He smiled up at her when she made it to his side, reaching out without needing a greeting to feel his forehead, before sliding a thermometer into his mouth. 

“How are you feeling?” she asked. 

He shrugged his aching shoulders. 

When she removed the thermometer, she stared down at it for a moment too long, before turning back to him. If that goddamn mask wasn’t covering half her face, he was certain he could see a forced, encouraging smile. “You’re still not out of the clear yet,” she said. 

He nodded, knowing what that really meant. He was doing a little worse. All that talk of a discharge. Of hope. Gone. 

“Keep drinking water,” she said, standing up as though she wanted to run and distance herself from him. 

Mulder scrambled to keep her there, remembering suddenly what he’d wanted to tell her since the night before.  

“Dana, do you know what happened to Davison?” Mulder jutted his chin to the once occupied bed just a few feet away. 

She glanced over, her eyes lit with surprise. “No… no, I don’t. Did he…” 

Mulder shook his head and spoke in a soft voice. “He was still conscious when they moved him out last night. I was right, Dana. About everything. He wasn’t dead but they took him like he was.” 

“They could have just been transferring him to a different facility…” 

“They had a sheet over his head,” he whispered, with absolute certainty. 

She stared at him as he continued to ramble about his theories, telling her how this was the exact proof he needed. She sighed and reached over to put a hand on his forehead, feeling for a higher fever than the thermometer had just read, but he swatted her hand away. 

“I’m not worse, Dana. At least not that much worse. You have to tell someone.” He was quickly getting more and more frantic. “Tell your boss, tell the head nurse. I didn’t get a good look at the orderly, but I know it was someone who worked here. I can’t remember the hair color, it was dark-“ 

“Mulder.” 

“Scully. Nurse Scully, please,” he begged, knowing her last name would have more effect than the familiarity of her first. 

Her firmly pursed lips wobbled beneath her mask. She could see the desperation in his face. It was the same as so many of her other patients that were gone before she could even get to know them. She hated the thought that the exact thing would happen to him. 

Dana nodded, and cleared her throat. “I’ll tell her. I’ll do my best to get them to look into the orderlies.” 

His shoulders began to relax already.  Unable to flash him an encouraging smile, she reached over and squeezed his hand, a gesture that had quickly become a suitable replacement. 

She stood, no longer wanting to leave his side for any reason, despite knowing she had to. 


The mail came that afternoon. One letter was in delivered to him- a letter from Samantha, that was noticeably thinner than any she’d ever sent. 

His sister’s perfect, school-teacher scrawl only took up a single side of a page. Nothing new on the Vineyard except continuing boredom and a constant attempt to not worry too hard about the war or the contagion. 

Me too, Sam, he thought. 

Despite its lack of contents, he read and reread the letter over until his eyes began to drift slowly closed. He was nearly asleep when he felt her appear by his side. Dana. He opened his eyes immediately and tried to painfully sit up quickly. 

“Any news?” he asked, eagerly. 

“I told Margot about what you said. Everything. And I really did stress its importance.” 

He squeezed his eyes shut. “But there’s nothing she can do?” 

Dana replied softly. “We are all so busy here, Mulder. She said she hasn’t got the time to look into it, and neither does anyone else. She also said that what you saw last night might be a mistake. Either on your part or the orderly, but whatever happened, it was likely a one time thing.” 

“Dana, it wasn’t a mistake.” 

“I know that. I do, Mulder. But I can’t push the issue with her, nor do I have the time. You’re not my only patient,” she stopped abruptly as she felt herself getting angrier. “I’m sorry,” she whispers. 

He shook his head, suddenly wracked with guilt. “It’s okay. Thank you for looking into it.” 

She squeezed his hand, and stood to leave. “My shift is over. Get some sleep and I’ll see you in the morning.” He gave her a half-hearted smile and curled up to fall back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven. 

They were standing on a beach on the Vineyard, cold and barefoot. He could feel the frozen sand beneath his toes and the sting of the wintery ocean breeze. 
Beside him, she stood nearly motionless, with the exception of the wide grin spreading across her face, and her red hair rippling with the wind. After a moment, she opened her eyes, and turned back to him, giving him that grin. That beautiful grin. He could feel his heart lurch all at once, feeling the urge to slide his arm around her waist and pull her closer. It was only a moment before he realized he could, and reached over to pull her close to him. She was so warm compared to the wind, and so cute. She giggled and squirmed against him, trying to pull him as close as possible while never taking her eyes off the sea. 

“It’s amazing here, Mulder,” she whispered in his ear. “It’s freezing, but I can’t tell you how much I love it.” 

“We’ll have to come back when it’s warmer, Scully.” Scully? 

She took her eyes off the sea to look up at him, grinning warmly. “Oh, and you’d agree to taking time off work, in summer? Prime Sasquatch season?” 

“Come on, Scully, I think can last one week with you and a beach.” Scully. Again. Why did he keep calling her that? 

“I’ll look forward to it, then,” she said, reaching on her tip toes to kiss him. But before her lips ever met his, there was a searing pain in his right arm. 

And just like that, the beach faded away. And the cold surf. And finally, Dana’s confused face disappeared into the dark, and was replaced by the grinning face of a man leaned over him as he finally came to. 

“Wh-what?” he mumbled, trying to sit up while feeling at a puncture mark on his arm. 

The man quickly stood up, and disappeared the syringe into his bag. Mulder protested, not yet able to fully form sentences, but hollering at the man while rubbing furiously at his burning arm. 

A nurse two beds away starts making her approach, ignoring the man he was pointing at, who soon disappeared into the masses. 

“Sir, sir,” the nurse argued with him, holding him down as he protested. “You need to calm down.” 

“He gave me a vaccine or something. You have to stop him,” he pleaded. 

“A what? Where?” the nurse stared at him completely confused, glancing back for only a second at the doorway the man had disappeared through. 

“He put a needle in my arm,” Mulder showed her his arm to prove it. “He injected something.” 

“Sir, there’s nothing wrong with your arm, you need to calm down.” 

“Where’s Dana? I need to talk to Dana.” 

“Dana… Dana Scully?” 

“YES- her-“ 

“She’s off for the night.” 

“You need to get her. I need to see her,” he begged with the nurse, who was growing steadily more confused by his persistence. 

“Alright, I’ll send someone for her.” The nurse stood and backed away from him, clearly glad for the out.


Dana awoke to Ellen standing over her. 

“What? Ellen? What’s wrong-“ she sat up quickly and disoriented. 

“Dana, they need you back at the hospital, I was sent for you.” 

Dana flung her legs over the side of the bed and made her way to the closet where she grabbed the first dress she saw. “What happened?” 

“That Mr. Mulder-“ 

Dana spun around. “What? Is he okay?” 

“Yeah, he just woke up and started raving like a madman about a shot and someone injecting something in him and he said he needed you.” 

Dana only nodded, not sure what to make of the information in her sleep-addled brain. She dressed quickly, and followed Ellen through the night back to the hospital. 

“Mulder-“ she called out his name from two beds away as she ran towards him.

“Dana,” he said, relief visibly flooding through his body. “Someone, they injected something in my arm. I don’t know…” 

She nodded, and knelt down by his side. “Can I see your arm?” 

He held it out for her. She ran her fingers over it, examining the skin closely. “It does look like there was something irritating the skin right here, but Mulder, I don’t see anything else that would look like a mark from some kind of injection.” 

Mulder shook his head. “No, I know it happened. It did.” She was so calm. How was she so calm?

“Mulder, I will, and I’ll have the other nurses as well, keep a close eye on you, and make sure there aren’t other symptoms you exhibit, but I really think you’ll be fine.” She smiled up at him, genuinely encouraging. She could feel her heart rate slowing down from the high it had reached in the madness. 

He opened his mouth to protest, but saw something in her eyes. Sympathy? Concern? She seemed certain about her analysis, though. And he nodded, reminding himself that she wasn’t going to put him in danger. “Okay,” he whispered.

She smiled at him again, only then realizing that during the course of getting to him as fast as she could, she never put on her mask. It was fine. If she left the hospital soon, she would be safe. 

“Mulder,” she said, leaning over to help him slump further down on the cot. “I’m going to get some sleep. You should too.” 

He nodded weakly, and his eyes began to slip shut. She stood up, but before she could make her way out of the building, she heard his voice again. 

“Dana?” 

“Yeah?” 

“You have a really pretty smile.” He was half asleep, unable to see her rolling eyes. 

Despite that, her face flushed with embarrassment, realizing this was the first time he’d ever seen her mask-less, dressed in something other than uniforms or a mourning dress. Embarrassed. Yes. But there was something else. Something deep in her chest that tingled. But she suppressed it, and simply whispered: “thanks, Mulder.” 

He smiled, clearly on the brink of sleep, and she stared for a moment, before turning and leaving. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight

June 7, 1918.

A beam of light woke him up the next morning. He could still feel the sore pain in his arm where the injection was. He couldn’t tell the time, but was nearly certain that Dana wouldn’t have arrived yet. 

A nurse, the same one as last night, made her way down his row, and paused at his bed, seeing he was awake. 

“Mr. Mulder, how are you feeling today?” she asked. 

“Fine. Actually, really fine.” He sat up slowly, and flexed his leg muscles. There were only the faintest aches throughout his body, other than the point on his arm. 

“Well, that’s good to hear. Let me take your temperature.” She jammed the thermometer into his mouth, and waited a moment. When she pulled it to read the temperature her face scrunched up confused. “Mr. Mulder, I’ll be right back.” 

She left in a hurry, returning only minutes later with another thermometer, which she also jammed into his mouth. 

“The other one seems to have broken,” she explained. He nodded, unable to talk. When she retrieved the new thermometer, her face scrunched up again. 

“What is it?” he asked. 

“What? Oh… nothing. It’s just quite a bit lower than it was last night. It’s rare if not impossible to see such a dramatic decrease in fevers.” 
Mulder stared at her, processing all the things she just said. 

“Well, I’ll have another nurse check back later on you before Dana arrives, just in case the thermometers have all gone wonky. If not…” she smiled down at him. “If not, it looks like this miracle could get you a discharge in a couple days.” 

She had to have walked away at some point, but he was too lost in thought to notice. A discharge. Normally the way people left the hospital was with a sheet over their head. His mind was reeling at all the events that had transpired in the last day. The injection he was certain to have had. Could that have something to do with it? 

He was thinking about all the things this low fever could mean for him, allowing himself, for once in the last few weeks, to be hopeful, when he saw a glint of red hair across the room. And then he got a horrible, terrifying thought. 

Dana. 

What the hell does it mean for us? 

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine. 

June 12, 1918

His fever had been fully gone for the better part of the last week. His body ached less, his knees didn’t give out when he tried to stand up. Because of this, after weeks of persistent begging, Dana relented, and took him for a walk around the garden. She snuck him out, at the end of her shift, under the cover of night, walking with him gripping her arm so tightly from a weakness he’d never admit. They stopped by a bench for him to catch his breath, taking in the warm glow of the lanterns along the path.

“Is it true?” He asked. “Are they really discharging me?”

She could only nod, relieved he was better, but feeling a guilt-strikes emptiness at the thought of him not being around.

“Looks like your superb nursing skills did the trick.” He seemed to be rambling, as though he was filling that same empty space. But she desperately tried to convince herself that she was misinterpreting that, and simply nodded again.

“Dana,” he said, softly. “I’d like to open an investigation into the disappearances of those missing patients when I get back to work. And whatever happened to me with that vaccine-injection thing, whatever you want to call it.”

When he got no response, he continued.

“And, I’m going to need to name you as a witness in the case, so we’ll have to keep in touch in some way. When its all over, you’ll need to be called to testify, too.”

Her face broke into a small smile, realizing exactly what that meant, a second before he said it.

“So, I’m afraid, Dana, you’ll have to put up with me a little longer than you’d anticipated.”

“I think I’ll survive,” she said, staring deeply into his eyes, despite the shadows the night cast upon his face.

He grinned at her, the emotion on his face unmistakable. “Good.”

There was something crackling between them, something that Dana had long tried to suppress. Something that now, without the threat of tragedy or scandal, she was now in a position to consider. He stared down at her so soft and lovingly, eyes dark and inviting. If it weren’t for the mask covering her face, and her filthy uniform, she was certain she would have leaned in, and felt that inviting mouth of his with hers. But she couldn’t help but pull away, nerves getting the best of her.

“I should take you inside,” she whispered.

“Oh.” His face portrayed understanding, but disappointment. The same feeling that was currently piercing her gut.

“My shifts almost over anyway,” she tried to justify.

“Well, wouldn’t want to keep you out too late.” He smiled at her, and slid his hand into hers to squeeze it briefly, before standing.

“Mulder?” She called, and he turned immediately. She’d stood up, but her feet were cemented to the ground. She reached out and took his hand, pulling him a step closer. Before she had time to over think what she was about to do, she shoved her mask down, and took a step far too close to him. The light was far too dim to properly make out each other’s faces, but it didn’t stop her from rising up on her toes and pressing her warm lips to his cheek, just by the corner of his mouth. She pulled away, just as she felt his face break into a smile, and squeeze her hand tightly. “I’m really glad you’re alright,” she whispered.

His hand came up to briefly cup her cheek, stroking it in almost memorization, as though this would be his first and only chance to do so. “I am, too,” he said, before gently pulling her mask back up to cover her face.

There were a thousand other things they each wanted to say or do, but in that moment, neither could get up the courage. So, fingers locked together, they made their way to the entrance.

They exchanged no words when she helped him into bed that night, or gave him a glass of water to drink. He watched her slip into the darkness, only looking away when he could no longer see her, but in doing so, missing the one time she glanced back at him. Mulder fell asleep that night, the phantom imprint of her lips on his cheek, knowing he had it bad for that woman, but with near certainty that it wouldn’t be that easy for them.

 


June 13, 1918

She hadn’t come to work by the time he was discharged. Mulder waited as long as he could, the few belongings he had around his bed stuffed into a small bag, sitting beside him on the crappy cot he’d spent the last month on. Dana’s friend, Ellis, Ellen, something like that came by to tell him once again that he could leave, a question delivered with a questioning look, unsure of why exactly he’d ever want to stick around longer in this smelly, disease-ridden place. But his red-headed reason didn’t show up to say anything, much less goodbye, and eventually he was told they needed the bed.

Ellen caught his arm on the way out, and slipped him a small piece of paper without another word. On it was an address, and above it was scrawled, “write her.”

He smiled at the paper, feeling a warmth spread in his chest at the mere thought of being in contact with her again.

He tucked it into his jacket pocket, right next to his heart, and was prepared to guard it with his life the whole way home.

 


June 17, 1918.

Martha’s Vineyard hadn’t changed since Christmas when he’d been back. The overgrowth along the backroads, the ever-present shirtless house-painters seemingly touching up every house in town. Little kids playing ball in the street. His parents’ house hadn’t either, but he barely had time to even consider any changes when he heard a loud scream.

Samantha swung the door open before he’d even reached the porch, racing out to hug him in welcome greeting.

“FOX!” she shrieked, like she was a little kid again, waiting for him to come back from boarding school for the summer. “You’re better! I can’t believe it,” she gripped his face in her hands, as if making sure it was really him. “I mean, I’ve known for nearly a week, but… I still can’t believe you’re here. We were so worried…”

He couldn’t hold back a reassuring smile. “Yeah, I had a really great nurse.”

Sam smiled. “I’m so glad. How long are you visiting? I have so many things to tell you.” She looked like she was about to launch into a whole speech, but held back, waiting for his answer.

“I’ll be staying a week or two,” he said, walking with her up to the chairs on the porch. “I have to get back to work, I just wanted to see you, and the family.”

Samantha grinned. “I’m so glad to have you back, Fox. They are too,” she jutted her chin at the door. “Since your telegram came through that you’d be visiting, they haven’t fought at all.”

He laughed. “Do they even remember me?”

“Please, they’re a lot more fond of you than me.”

Mulder shook his head. “Doubtful.”

“You’ll just have to see at dinner. Wait till they bring up the state of my romantic affairs.”

“I’ll be looking forward to the show,” he said. “How long do I have before the meal?“

Sam shrugged. “Maybe an hour. Why?”

“I have to write a letter.”

“Fox, you just got here. Can’t it wait?” she laughed.

“Not this one,” he hesitated, wondering if he should fill his sister in on the whole story. “I just wasn’t able to write anything on the train, but I really want to send it out in the morning.”

He wasn’t sure what was keeping him from telling his sister about Dana. He normally told her practically everything, but this he couldn’t. Maybe out of fear. That she didn’t feel the same way. That it was all a nonsensical fever dream. That he was blowing what he’d felt with Dana out of proportion. He had relied on her for so long, trusted her with his life. His secrets. What could very well have been his dying thoughts. But there was something there, something he couldn’t let go. An underlying fear he almost didn’t want to confront. That it wasn’t out of proportion. That what they’d had was real, and she felt the same way, and that the two of them, in the midst of war, and disease in a bleak world, were really meant for each other. And he wasn’t sure what scared him the most.

But despite all of the racing thoughts and anxieties in his mind, he began.

Dana,

I found some of your books when I left, and wanted to return them, along with my deepest gratitude for taking care of me. I owe you so much, and although I know how seriously you take your job, I needed to tell you thank you for saving me. Stay healthy- I’m starting that case up when I get back to the city from visiting my family, and I hope to see you again, even if it is simply for work.

If you’d like to write me back, I’ll put my home address on the back of the paper. Don’t feel obligated to return my correspondence- only if you’d be willing to put up with me more.

Mostly, I just wanted to thank you, and to tell you how much your friendship meant to me. I was lost so often in the past months, but you were the bright spot in my life, and I can’t tell you how much it meant for me to have you in my life, even if it was just to smuggle me Melville. I hope I hear from you again, but if not, I wish you the best of luck in medicine and your career.

-Mulder

He read it over and over, wondering if it was too forward, and then wondering if it was too vague. He wrote and rewrote more times than he’d ever admit, and even in walking it to the mailbox the next morning, had second thoughts about sending it, along with the package of books. But he finally got up the nerve, and slipped them in, trying to banish the letter from his mind altogether, and his fear that he’d made the wrong choice along with it.

 


Mulder returned to the city the following week, ready to start work again. He opened his mailbox, finding it stuffed with old letters from Samantha or his parents. A couple from old friends who hadn’t heard about his illness. And then it. There it was- sitting on top, with his name in her beautiful, curled handwriting.

Fox Mulder
42 Hegel Place,
Alexandria, VA,
22331

Mulder, it began.

Mulder.

Not Mr. Mulder.

Just Mulder. Exactly like he remembered, no exaggeration.

He breathed in a sigh of relief, and could practically smell her perfume through the page.

And then he continued, loving and savoring every last word.

 

End of Part One.

 

Chapter Text

Part Two. 

 

Chapter Ten. 

September 19, 1920

The light was fading into the sky by the time Dana began her slow walk home. Her feet were sore, her shoulders tight from the days work, but the second she saw the mailbox and the little flag sticking up, she sprinted down the sidewalk, ignoring the burning pain throughout her body. She nearly tore the door off its little hinges. Inside lay a single letter, and she crossed her fingers quietly in looking at who it was addressed to. 

Dana Scully. In that nearly illegible scrawl. 

She breathed a sigh of contentment, and smiled widely, every ache and pain from the day shaken off with her shoes as she entered the house. She held the letter close to her chest under her jacket. 

“Dana, is that you?” She heard called through the house. 

“Yeah, Mom. I’m home.” She prayed that would be the end of it, and she could escape upstairs to read the letter, but alas, she heard her mother say something about dinner, and sighed. Dana slid off her coat, and tucked the letter in an inside pocket for later retrieval. 

“We’re in the kitchen,” Maggie called, and Dana sighed before trudging towards the sound of her voice. 

Her mother greeted her with a smile as she entered the room, but her sister didn’t look even look up. 

“Hi Melissa,” Dana said, almost facetiously, knowing Melissa was clearly in a mood. She just grunted in response, not looking up from the cutting board. 
Dana began washing up, rubbing her soapy hands like she was going into surgery. 

“Dana, why don’t you start setting the table, the potatoes is almost finished.” Maggie looked at her, hands on her hips. 

“Hey,” she whispered to her sister, as she pulled silverware out of the cupboard.

“What’s wrong?” 

Melissa looked up, and glanced at their mother, before rolling her eyes. “Just wait, you’ll undoubtedly see at dinner.” 

Dana stared at her, before slowly nodding and returning to her assigned task. 


The table was set, dinner served in the center of it. The three women took turns taking their share, Melissa continuing to not even meet her mother’s eyes. 

“We received a letter today,” Maggie announced. Dana’s heart throbbed in her chest, for a second wondering if her mother had found the letter from Mulder first. 

“And what did Bill have to say this time?” Melissa asked, unamused, poking at her food. 

Her mother opened her mouth, as if to reprimand her, but had the good sense to avoid the conflict. “He and Sarah are expecting.” She couldn’t hold back a smile. “She’s due in April.” 

Dana glanced up at her sister, watching her about to respond, but beating her to it. “That’s wonderful news, Mom.” She kicked Missy under the table, hoping to send a message about attitude. 

“I think so,” Maggie exclaimed. “Which reminds me of my other news to share with you girls, particularly you, Dana.” 

“Oh?” she said, glancing at Melissa, who was giving her a knowing look. 

“Do you remember that young man from your brother’s track team? Andrew Sullivan?” 

Dana could already see what she’d be getting into by answering her mother, but she didn’t have any other choice. “Yes,” she said, slowly. “I remember him.” 

“Well, he stopped by the other day. Said he was moving back into town and would love to come by another time to see you girls.” 

She raised her eyebrows. “But me in particular?” 

“Well, Melissa was being stubborn about seeing him at all, and he did ask about you. I also happened to mention that you’re still single.” At that, Dana smacked her fork down on the table. She didn’t even have to look at Melissa to see the smug look on her face. 

“Why did you say that?” she begged her mother. 

“Well, you are single, are you not?” 

Dana didn’t reply, couldn’t, as a matter of fact. She had no idea what she was. She didn’t feel single, as much as Mulder was on her mind. But for all she knew, she was simply a good friend, a confidant. Since she’d last seen him, he could have moved on, and currently courting someone else. She squeezed her eyes shut, before responding to her mother. 

“I’d rather not see that man, that’s all.” 

Maggie let out a nervous laugh. “What do you mean? He had good manners, was bright, the top of his class-“ 

“He was horrible- a bully. Just not around you or Dad.” 

“I think you should consider it,” Maggie said, with a firmness that made it clear Dana only had one choice to consider. 

Dana didn’t respond, didn’t even meet her mother’s eye, and picked at her food until she was able to be excused. 

 


Melissa followed her from the kitchen like a hawk. Once they were out of earshot from their mother, she whispered, “sorry I didn’t give you more warning about that.” 

Dana just glared at her. “I don’t even want to think about it.” 

“Well, you’ll have to if you ever want to get out of this house. You’re twenty-two, Dana.” 

“Then, at the very least, I’m not thinking about Andrew Sullivan.” 

“Ah, but you wouldn’t even have to change your initials,” Melissa’s ornery grin was a welcome sight. 

“What about you? Mom’s going to marry you off eventually, whether you like it or not.” 

“Or,” Melissa said. “Or I could just move out. Get a job, find an apartment with other women who want to get the hell out of their parent’s house.” 

Dana chuckled, but stopped abruptly after they passed the coat closet. 

“What do you need your coat in bed?” Melissa asked, with rapidly increasing curiosity. 

“Shhhh…” Dana pleaded, and fumbled in the sea of black wool for the letter. Once she found it, she slid it down her blouse, and tucked her arms tightly around her stomach.

Melissa gaped at her. “Another letter?” 

For a moment, she almost stopped to question how her sister knew about the letters, but instead, she grabbed her by the arm and pulled her upstairs to her room. 

“How do you know about the letters,” Dana demanded. 

Melissa bit her lip. “I was bored and you’re bad at hiding them. I didn’t read anything though, you can trust me.” She nodded a lot to assure her. 

“MELISSA.” She sat down on the bed, arms crossed in anger, and near humiliation that their little secret had been discovered. 

“So tell me, what’s the story with Mr. Mulder?” 

Dana bit her lip, staring at her sister, knowing very well that Melissa was far too stubborn and she was far too tired. 

“He was a patient of mine about two years ago, when I was working in that makeshift hospital. No- stop. Let me finish,” she said, when Melissa’s mouth dropped open. “He was a detective brought in with influenza and was always very nice, and we’d talk from time to time. Boring stuff. Books, the news. He was there a while, slowly getting better, and after he was discharged, we stayed in contact. He’s just a good friend. Recently, he’s been working on a case for the hospital and he’s been updating me on what’s been going on. That’s it.”

Missy pursed her lips, clearly unconvinced. “And what exactly has been your reasons for not seeing him since then. Even though he’s asked?” 

Dana nearly strangled her. “You did read them.” 

“Just a couple- I swear. For real this time.” 

Dana ground her teeth, nearly burning Missy with her stare. “It’s nothing.”

“It’s not, that man is crazy about you. He’s the one Ellen was talking about, too, right?” 

“He’s not. I mean, he is the one, but he’s not. We haven’t seen each other since the department last did interrogations with the hospital staff. We’ve both been busy with work.” 

Melissa nodded, somehow managing to come off sarcastic. “And the real reason?” 

“That is it.” 

Missy shook her head. “Are you blind? Do you even know how he talked to you in those letters?” 

Dana couldn’t help but recall all the messily scrawled words that made her pulse quicken. 

You did great in that interview, sorry about my CO, he can be intense. But really, the testimony you gave really helped my case, especially since everyone here thinks it’s a waste of time. 

Just came across a Melville anthology that you’d love. That bookstore you mentioned on M Street is amazing.

If I named you as a suspect, do you think the head nurse would let you off shift early enough that we could have dinner?

“He’s just nice. And lonely, like me. We have similar taste in stuff, and is nice to talk to, but he doesn’t- “ 

“You’re so incredibly thick, you do know that, right? It’s been two years, does he even like anyone else?” 

“I don’t think so,” Dana said, but with a sudden, sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. She couldn’t help but wonder if that was even possible, if he’d dropped hints that she’d never picked up on that there was someone else. “It wouldn’t even matter, he’s only seen me at work, with full nurse mask, and saline covered skirt.” 

Melissa sighed. “You’re impossible.” 

“Maybe.” 

“Regardless of what you think is happening, though,  you need to hide those letters from Mother. If she found out you’d been writing to a man you weren’t engaged to for two years, she’d… I don’t know- have half the church trailing you for the rest of your life. Or something.” Melissa gave her a final glare, staring her down for a moment to let her know she was serious. She then left the room, and Dana scrunched up her face defiantly at the open door. 
When she was sure she heard the door to Melissa’s room close, Dana quickly rose to close the door, and then flopped back on her bed to tear open the newest letter. 

“Dana.
Skinner’s annoyance with this case is growing stronger every day. He keeps making me out to be a moron running around chasing unsubstantiated hunches. I’m still going through all the testimonies from hospital workers and the wives of the men who disappeared. Its really clear to me that these people were abducted by someone, I just don’t know who. None of these women got death certificates within a reasonable time, nor have any seen their husband’s bodies since. I have a couple theories as to what could be going on, but none I’m willing to write in a letter, or even say out loud. 

I’ll be sending you that book next week, as I hope to finish it this weekend. I know you’re only half-certain that JFB and the guys even exist, especially from all I’ve told you about them, but regardless, they have very good taste in banned books. I think you’ll like this one.”  

Dana kept reading, he went on talking about things that had been going on the last few days. His parents were furious with his sister for taking a job in the city as a teacher. She smiled, knowing full well she’d tell him about Melissa, and her escape plan. Maybe she was just the roommate Samantha needed. 

She turned the last sheet over, and found a few flecks of ink on the first couple lines of the page, as though he’d been nervously tapping his pen, as though wondering if he should or shouldn’t write the following. 

“I’d like to see you in person, Dana. Talk for real. I know you’re busy, and with your career goals, you have every right to be, but while it never stops being a pleasure to see your letter in my box, if you’re available, I’d like to see you. I’d buy, coffee or dinner, whatever you want… I’ll even tell you some of those outlandish theories if you want. I’m sure you’d enjoy them. There’s also something I’d want to ask you, but if you’d rather not available, it’s really alright, we can continue the letters without ever speaking of this again. -M.“

Her heart was racing. She reread the entire thing, and then the final paragraph several more times. She had no idea what to say; she simply knew how much she wanted to see him, but how nervous she was at the prospect of it. That didn’t stop her chest from fluttering, and she before long, she tucked the letter into the bundle, and hid them better. She fell asleep that night, only able to see his face, with no desire to change that. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven. 

September 20, 1918. 

Dana’s stomach was turning throughout the next day. Thankfully she’d had a lighter load of cases lately, so her ability to focus didn’t impede on the recovery of broken legs or women on bedrest. Ellen even noted that she seemed distracted, but Dana denied it. She stole away during her lunch break, forgoing the backroom and nurses’ gossip for a quiet booth in that cafe on the corner, knowing full well what her mother would say if she knew she’d gone out. Once seated, and coffee ordered, she pulled the letter from her jacket. She read it over again, practically able to recite it by word, but still worried it was all in her head. 

Did she even want to see him? 

The immediate answer was yes. But there was more than that. As soon as she saw him again, it would all be real, rather than simply a fun little fantasy she’d been having. Either he liked her or he didn’t. The question that had been on her mind for the past two years would be answered, and she was terrified of what it would be. She read it again.  He had dated it September 16th. She knew the longer she waited to answer, the more difficult it would be. 

She reached into her pocket again, and pulled out a pencil and began to make pro/con notes on the back of his envelope, feeling like a young child playing He Loves Me Not in a schoolyard. 

After a while, she checked her watch, knowing she had to return to the hospital, but still vastly unsure of what she should do. She paid her bill, and was rising from the booth when a man slid in across from her and grabbed her arm, pulling her back down. 

“What-“ Dana protested, shaking his hand off, and trying to rise again. 

“Dana, please, wait,” he begged, a terrified look in his eye. After a second, she realized she knew this man. He’d worked as an orderly at the hospital for the last six months. She rarely saw him, being confined to the dayshift, and him working the nights, but she’d seen him come in early before she had left sometimes. 

“Wait, I know you-“ she started. 

“Yeah, I work at the hospital,” he stuttered, trying to speak fast, eyes darting around the room as if afraid of something she couldn’t see. “You have to help me.” 

“What?” 

He fumbled in his pockets for a second, trying to find something in his rumpled, dirty clothes. After a second, he pulled a little piece of folded paper from his breast pocket, and handed it to her. Dana stared at it, holding just between her thumb and forefinger, as though it was contaminated. “What’s this?” she asked, curious, but scared of the man who’d just accosted her. 

“It-it’s a name. You have to remember it. You know that detective that’s come around a couple times, interviewing people about- about disappearances and crap? If something happens to me, you gotta bring it to him.” 

Dana nearly protested, not having any idea what this man was on about, but realizing the sooner she agreed, the sooner he’d leave. “Ok. I’ll bring him this name,” she said, gesturing for him to leave the booth. 

“No, I’m not kidding, Dana. You have to. All I’m asking is you bring it to him. That’s it. But you have to promise me. Memorize it. Lock up the paper. Just keep it safe, and get it to him.” He ran a hand through his messy hair, glancing around to see if anyone had peered over their newspaper or stopped their conversation to hear him better. 

Dana’s heart pounded, not sure what to make of this man. “Alright. I promise,” she said. 

The man across the booth from her wasn’t paying attention to her anymore, staring intently at the man behind the counter, watching them with a quizzical look on his face. “Good,” he whispered. “Now, I have to go. Don’t follow me.” 

And with that he took off, pulling the collar of his rumpled coat up over his neck, and slipping out the door. 

Dana shook her head, not understanding what had just happened, and not really wanting to. She had no idea how she’d find out if “something” happened to him. And definitely didn’t understand what he was so afraid of, but she shook her head, waiting a few extra moments, before leaving the cafe, carefully tucking the slip of paper into her pocket. 


She made her way back to the hospital, and continued her shift, lying to Ellen when asked why she hadn’t eaten with her and the other girls, and pretending Mulder’s letter wasn’t burning a hole in her coat pocket. By the end of the day, she was anxious to get home, and reread her notes, hoping to come to a decision about what to do. Little did she know, her right coat pocket had worn a small hole in the base, and gone unnoticed. Small enough, that Mulder’s letter was safe and sound, but just barely large enough that that small, folded slip of paper from the strange man in the cafe was able to slip into the lining of her coat, soon to be forgotten entirely. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve. 

September 22, 1920 

Andrew Sullivan, the bright young man that he was, left the Scully residence early the night before, knowing three things. One, Mrs. Scully made the best potatoes he’d ever eat. Two, his old friend Bill was expecting a baby with his wife, before he had even gotten around to being married. Three, and likely the most crucial, he would never be married to either of the Scully daughters. 

Melissa, the firecracker he remembered quite well, had treated the conversation like a tennis match, with every comment he made whacked back to him as though she was a competitor rather than a prospect. The only break he got from her was when he mentioned his sister, now a secretary at a law firm a few streets away, and she granted him a warm smile. Mary had been a good friend of Melissa’s, he remembered only at that moment. She’d visited with Melissa whenever he came to see Bill, and they always seemed to get along very well. Melissa asked for her address, and upon getting it, immediately returned to the fiery demeanor she’d begun the dinner with. 

Dana, on the other hand, was quiet, and reserved, just pushing around her small serving of meat and potatoes with a fork, and barely looking up to see him. He had remembered she was quiet, but not as cold as she was at dinner. He’d tried to engage her in light conversation, but it was Mrs. Scully’s bark that had caught her attention. 

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled. “What?” 

“I was just wondering how your job is going. The last I heard of you, you were about to be shipped off to Europe to heal the wounded.” He’d smiled at her, trying to convince her that he was no longer the immature boy who’d pulled her hair and laughed when she’d asked Bill to come along with them. His smile was met with a long stare from Dana, and a sigh before she answered him. 

“I didn’t end up going overseas-“ 

“No?” 

Another stare. Longer. More bitter. Clearly this woman didn’t want to be interrupted. “No. Influenza became a worse illness, and I decided I was needed more around here.” 

“And now you stay home and take care of your mother? Since Melissa works down at the library.” 

She gave him another long, cold stare as she took one slow bite of potatoes. “No, I’m still at the hospital. That’s where I was coming from when I walked in the door to find you here.” 

In his peripheral vision, he saw Melissa purse her lips, trying to suppress a laugh or smile. 

“Well, that’s great, Dana.” 

“What is it you do for work, Andrew?” Mrs. Scully chimed in. 

He hesitated. “I work in construction.” 

“Oh really? Are you involved with any big projects right now?” 

He just stared at Mrs. Scully’s eager face, and without flinching, said the words his boss had said to him. “The biggest, most spectacular thing the human race has ever laid eyes on.” 

Dana stared at him like he was nuts, and he quickly covered his tracks. “Or so the architect says.” He chuckled, before quickly changing the subject. “Dana, if you ever have time during your schedule, I’d love to take you out, coffee, dinner, whatever you want. I’d buy.” He could practically hear the words ringing through her head, stopping her fork midair. 

Mrs. Scully smiled widely, and nodded at Dana, as if willing her to say yes. Dana continued to stare at him, as surprised and confused as he’d expected her to be. After a second, she got control of herself, and looked between him and her gleeful mother, before setting her fork down on the table and saying in a perfectly steady voice: “Andrew, I’m sorry, but I am quite busy with my work, and will consider your offer, but for now, I don’t think I will call.” 

She then turned, and glared at her mother, who stared back at her in horror. 
The table had gotten impossibly quieter, as Mrs. Scully made polite conversation with him, and Melissa and Dana had shared knowing smiles. 

 

By eight, the dish ware was cleaned, and he was gladly ushered out of the house, pausing only on the doorstep to glance back, into the warm house where the silhouettes of three women began arguing. Then quietly, he turned and slipped into the night. 

 


 

The speakeasy was practically empty when he arrived, save for the three or four lost souls who had no idea what was lurking in the walls. He took a seat at the bar, and waited for the bartender to notice he’d walked in. 

“‘Bout time you showed up,” the man said, gruffly. 

“Dinner ran long.” 

He nodded. “Fancy a smoke?” 

Andrew’s stomach churned. “Sure.” 

The bartender slid him a cigarette, and pulled a matchbook off the counter. “You better finish it quick,” he said, no longer talking about the smoke. 

He took a deep breath, and opened the matchbook, and lit his cigarette. He took a long puff, staring down at the matchbook, still open, in his hands. An address was scrawled on it. 2670 Fletcher Street. Apartment 12. 9:35 pm. 

Andrew checked his pocket watch. Quarter to nine. 

“Thanks,” he said, and the bartender nodded, before he pulled his coat on, and headed out the door. 

 


 

 

“I don’t know why you couldn’t have been nicer to him, he was polite, well-mannered,” Maggie had been paddling on about their guest for over an hour. “Dana, you’re not getting any younger. When was the last time you asked a man to call?” 

“Mother, please, it’s been a long day,” Dana begged, staring at the coat closet which was blocked by Maggie and her tirade on domesticity. 

“What about that doctor who was interested in you?” 

“That was months ago?” 

“It wouldn’t hurt to try and see him again.” 

Dana closed her eyes, as if wishing the situation away. “Mom. Please.” 

Maggie sighed, and mumbled something about the morning. 

Once she was out of the room, Dana practically flew towards the closet, and nearly ripped the letter from her coat pocket. After about seven different drafts, it still had yet to be responded to but Dana was more interested in another aspect of it. Still standing vulnerable in the openness of the parlor, Dana opened the letter, and checked what she already knew to be true. 

“Coffee”. “Dinner”. “I’ll buy”

Andrew had practically quoted Mulder’s letter to her. 

She took a deep breath, and quickly tucked the letter back in it’s envelope, and returned to her coat pocket, feeling around again to find a different paper. That little slip the strange man had given her. All she came up with was the emptiness of the jacket pocket, before her fingers tracked along where the tiny, unnoticed hole was. Her heart caught in her throat. Maybe it was the uncomfortableness of the evening. Maybe it was Mulder’s strange theories and insistence that there was more to things than what met the eye, but Dana felt her heart begin to pound in her chest, and she quickly tucked Mulder’s letter into her shirt, not wanting it out of her sight for even a moment. One thing she did know was that she wasn’t going to get a minute of sleep that night. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 13. 

September 22, 1920

It was painfully early when Dana made her way into work. She’d tossed and turned all night, not wanting to think about the contents of Mulder’s letter, and the strange man, and Andrew Sullivan. She woke still tired long before the sun was even a thought in the sky, and in lieu of anything better to do, dressed in her nurses’ uniform and made her way through the darkened house to the kitchen to make coffee. By her fourth cup, the sun began to peak through the frosty trees outside, and she decided to begin the trek to the hospital. 

The night shift orderlies were just getting off duty, walking past her in the entrance like the undead, eyes glazed over having been working since 10:00 the night before. As she passed the last few stragglers, however, she heard one mention something to the other.“Damn, that Monroe. I’m gonna kick his ass if I ever see him around here again.”

His buddy just shook his head. “Not even showing up or having the decency to call. And of course McCormick sticks us with the heavier patient load, what that Veracka guy kissing up to him like that.”  

“One of these days, we’ll walk in on those two-“ the man stopped abruptly, for the first time noticing Dana had stopped and listened in on their brief conversation.

“Sorry,” she mumbled. “But did you just say Monroe never showed up?” 

“Yeah,” the second guy snarled. “What’s it matter?”

“And he’s got like messy brown hair? Always smells like dish soap or something weird like that?” 

The first man looked at her like she was insane, but nodded. “Yeah, that’s the one.”

Dana nodded quickly, and mumbled a ‘thanks’, before retreating to the nurses’ station. 

 


 

She tried to go on like normal the rest of the day, putting the Monroe thing far away in her mind. She tended her patients, but she couldn’t help seeing Mulder’s face in every brunette male who’d been assigned to her. By lunch, it was all she could think about, and she was already ready to write to him when her supervisor, Nurse Gallibrand, burst into the room, carrying a yellowy telegram in her shaky hands. 

“Did you hear about this?” she asked Dana, and the three other nurses who were on break with her. “One of the orderlies from this hospital was murdered last night. Something gruesome, but the police won’t say much more than that.”

Dana felt something in the pit of her stomach drop, and she put away the roll she’d been nibbling on, and sat up straighter. “W-was it Monroe?” she asked, knowing the answer, but wanting desperately to be wrong. 

Gallibrand’s mouth dropped open. “How did you know that?”

Dana was already halfway to her locker. “I know he didn’t show up last night…” she mumbled, only being able to think of one thing, one person, she had to see, and pulled out her coat, throwing it over her shoulders. “Listen, Nurse Gallibrand, I really have to go. I have to take the rest of the day-“ words tumbled out of her mouth without even thinking about it, and she couldn’t even hear the excuse she was making, but the woman nodded, and stepped aside to let a charging Dana Scully through the doorway. 

 


 

She knew what precinct he worked at, but past that, knew very little about the man she was going to see. She quickly found her way through the streets to the entrance, and stepped into the building. 

In the center of the room was a small desk, with a tiny woman seated behind it, working on a mountain of paperwork, while some slacker in a pinstripe suit tried to chat her up. Dana approached the desk hesitantly, not sure the procedure for visiting a detective, but the woman was clearly glad for the interruption.

“Can I help you?” she asked, turning her attention fully away from the man practically bent over her desk. 

 “Yes, I… uh, I was looking to speak with one of your detectives-“

“In that case, I can help you.” 

She looked to see the man straightening up, and reaching a hand over to introduce himself to her, with a smug smile on his face that matched the one he had pointed at the secretary when she entered. 

“No, I’m looking for a specific detective,” she said, not moving to shake his outstretched hand. “Detective, ah, Mulder.”

The man let out a loud laugh. “Mulder? Spooky Mulder?”

Dana stared at him for a second, before turning to the secretary, who looked amused as well. “Can you tell me where I could find him?” 

 “Who’s she looking for?” Another man had walked into the room, and chuckled as well when he heard Spooky Mulder.

“I just need a word with him,” Dana persisted.

“I’m sorry, Miss. We’re just surprised,” the guy said, gesturing at her as if it explained everything. “We wouldn’t have expected you to come calling for Mr. Mulder.”

“I’m no- I’m just looking to talk with him, can you tell me where I could-“ her voice faded after a second, when her eyes locked with a third man who had walked in, unseen at first, nose buried in a file, and had only looked up when he heard his name. 

His expression was frozen in surprise, before softening into a smile. “Hi,” he said, but there was so much more to it. You look exactly the same. Better maybe. But the same.

“Hi,” she replied. You as well. 

Wow. I’ve missed you.

“Ey, Spooky, this lady’s here to talk to you,” the first man slapped him on the back, before winking at the secretary, and leaving the room.

“Yeah,” she mustered. “I need to talk to you about… about something.”

“Ok.” He nodded, before gesturing behind him. “We can speak in my office.”

“Ok.”

He smiled widely at her again, before softly touching her upper arm and leading her to the far back of the building.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen. 

September 22, 1920 

The day had begun in the worst way possible- with his upstairs neighbor bathing her son at eight in the morning. He could barely hear anything through the walls, save for some screams in protest on behalf of the child, but whatever reason Mrs. Nevsbitt had for bathing him didn’t change the fact that Joshua didn’t like it, and therefore protested. And therefore, sloshed around in the water quite a bit. And therefore, spilled water all over their bathroom floor. And therefore, the suit he’d laid out the night before was found soaking wet, under a leaking spot in his ceiling. Along with every other outfit he owned, that had all been hung as perfect targets on his drying rack. 

Mulder was already late for work by the time he had rooted through some old clothes in the back of his closet and found something that was both suitable for wearing in public and dry. It was old, and a bit wrinkly, and far from in style, by that time, but it was good enough for a day spent in the back office, trying to beg Skinner that the case he was working on was worth the precinct’s time. 

He passed his mail slot on the way out of his apartment building, and for a moment forgot about the ancient suspender strap that was digging into his shoulder, but rather let his mind wander to the possibility of a response. It had been nearly a week since he’d sent her that letter, and worried with each passing day if his request had been over the line. Mulder shifted in place for a moment, debating whether he should open it, before deciding to save his disappointment for the day’s end. 



It had been a cold morning, with frost covered sidewalks and brisk winds chilling his short walk to work. He was almost grateful to get in to the warm interior of the building. A feeling that quickly faded as he clocked in, and made his way to his office, greeted by an endless barrage of ‘Spooky’ jokes, and cracks about the stupid case. 

Mulder barely made it to his office to unpack his briefcase before he was pulled into Skinner’s. 

“Detective,” he greeted him, his monotone containing more displeasure than any words could ever express. “Take a seat.” 

It had already been a long morning, and it wasn’t even nine. Mulder took a deep breath, and closed his eyes for a second, before closing the door to his boss’s office, and taking a seat across the desk. 

“What can I do for you, sir?” he asked, as if he had no clue why Skinner could be upset with him. 

“I’m going to be assigning you a partner.” There it was. Straight out with it, no build up. 

“What?” Mulder shook his head in disbelief. “Why?” 

“Because you’ve been working on the St. Catherine Hospital case for two years, and haven’t turned up any new leads in over a month.” 

“It’s not as though I’ve wasted any time. I’ve worked other cases in the meantime-“ 

“I just think another set of eyes would be good on the case.” 

“Sir… I don’t know what to say.” Mulder’s jaw had dropped. “What have I done?” 

Skinner adjusted his glasses. “Excuse me?” 

“Well, there has got to be more to the assignment than just lack of leads.” 

“Detective, I don’t understand what the problem is with a partner,” he said. 

“I’ve been doing just fine- I don’t need another stuck-up detective leaning over my shoulder and joking about my case all the time.” 

“Detective Mulder, don’t seem to understand me. You will be getting a partner, because the alternative is your case being shut down altogether.” 

Mulder sat back in his chair, and crossed his arms over his chest. His lips pursed tightly, as if trying to prevent himself from saying something that could get him in worse trouble than he already was in. 

Skinner sighed, and lowered his voice. “There have been some complaints to the commissioner. The other detectives who are hassling you about the case, calling you Spooky- it’s not all jokes. Now, while I’ve been skeptical about the legitimacy of this case, you’ve fought hard for it the past couple years. You’re a bright man. When you were placed in this precinct, everyone was telling me how gifted you were in detective work. While not everyone’s believed that, I have. So, while you bug the shit out of me, and I’m only partially convinced you’re wasting my time, as well as the precinct’s, I’ve protected you from getting shut down. I highly recommend you cooperate with the partner I’ve requested for you. If you get a break in the case, and there’s legitimate evidence to support you continuing with it, I will consider transferring him to another area. But until then, I expect you to be of the utmost politeness to Detective Krycek. He’ll stop by sometime this afternoon and introduce himself. He starts Monday.” 

Mulder remained silent, still sitting with arms crossed, pouting like a small child who was put in time-out. This goddamn day.

After a moment, he nodded slowly, and rose from his seat, not even waiting for Skinner to tell him anymore about the situation. 

Slowly, he trudged all the way to his tiny office in the back of the building, and stepped inside. It was tight. Less of an office, and more a broom closet, overstuffed with old files that had been shoved his direction. He took it all in for a moment, wondering how in the hell a partner was going to fit in, both in the office, and in his work. 

Mulder closed his eyes for a second, wishing for a moment that he could tell Dana all about this. She’d always had the best take on anything, and he could use it. But knowing he might have messed up the entire dynamic by asking her out, and the fact that any letter to her would take days to return anyway, he was on his own. 

So he sighed, and sat down at the desk, opening the hospital’s file and reading through all the leads so far, trying to spark some kind of epiphany that could break the case and free him from the partnership before it had even began. 

By lunch, Mulder was so frustrated, he wanted to just shred the file and start over. There was still nothing to go on. Every wifes’ story tracked. Missing death certificates. Patients not officially declared dead. Orderlies hired on the side with no record of who could bring anyone in or out, or where they would be able to take anything. 

It felt like a lost cause, but he kept coming back to one man. Frances Silverio. Frank. He was one of the patients that went missing, but he was the only one with a record. He’d been a moonshiner, even before the prohibition had taken effect, and had been busted a couple times selling alcohol in some underground speakeasy. There wasn’t anything special about him- anyone could have gotten sick. Anyone did. But it never did make sense to him how clean every man’s record was except for Frank. He was about to go over his file again, but couldn’t find it amidst the piles of papers that filled the room. Tired, and in desperate need for a break, he stopped looking for a bit to eat. 


 

Mulder finished up his lunch quickly, and made his way out to Cheryl’s desk, knowing she’d be able to track down the original file on Silverio. Some guys had busted up a new speakeasy and, in all likelihood, had taken the file without asking to check some details for reference. 

As he made his way out into the lobby, he could hear voices talking. That new guy- Something O’Reilly- was, yet again, bothering Cheryl, and he could hear a couple other muffled voices talking with him. It was only when he got closer that he heard his name mentioned a couple times, and he was about to turn around and come back when those assholes were gone, but he heard something else. Someone else

And his heart skipped a beat when he realized he knew that voice by heart. He’d had it ringing in his head for two years, not knowing when he’d hear it again. 

As if walking on air, Mulder continued down the long hall towards her, trying to keep himself from smiling as wide as he wanted. 

And then he rounded the corner, and she was there. Asking for him

Standing right there, her cheeks and nose rosy from the chilly day, her arms crossed over her tiny body and her jaw tight with frustration. It was a moment before he realized that the guys were also messing with her, and he stepped further in the room, trying to get her attention without drawing too much from his coworkers. It worked. 

When her eyes locked with his, the tension in her shoulders and jaw released, and he felt his own body flood with relief that she was glad to see him. He had no idea how he looked, or what his expression was, but his brain was suddenly shorting out with a million different thoughts about her knowing his stupid nickname, and how she looked exactly the way he remembered. Actually, better. How nothing mattered anymore, not his new partner, not his reputation, not his case, nothing. How the hell he’d been so stupid as to leave his suits out in the open, and be forced to wear this musty old thing in front of her for the first time. 

And after a second, he realized he should be saying something, and not staring like an idiot, and so he mustered a “Hi.” 

“Hi.” She smiled back at him.   

O’Reilly smacked him on the back, and said something before leaving, but he couldn’t hear it, and didn’t even look away from Dana. 

“Yeah,” she said, her voice as soft and gentle as he remembered. “I need to talk to you about… about something.” 

He nodded, perhaps too vigorously, but given the day he’d had so far, he didn’t care. “Ok. We can talk in my office.” 

Mulder gestured behind him, only then realizing how difficult actually talking in his office would be, given the size and complete disaster of it. But she smiled again, and took a step towards him. 

“Ok.” 

He reached out and touched her arm, a spark of electricity rippling through his body, and then motioned for her to follow him back to his office. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen

September 22, 1920. 

When they finally squeezed into his office, he offered her his chair, only then realizing it was the only one that he had. The only one that would fit in there. After a second of awkwardly realizing this, he attempted to casually lean against one of his file cabinets, and shoved his hands deep into his pocket.

“So, what can I help you with?” he asked, not wanting to look her in the eyes, fearing that she was just here to tell him to leave her alone. 

“Well…” she hesitated, taking a deep breath. “It’s a long story, but I think it could really help with your investigation…” 

He felt a little relief that she was just here for the case, but also disappointment that she wasn’t here to see him for other reasons. “That would be great, Dana, thanks. I’ll- uh,” he looked around for paper or a notepad in the disaster that was his office. “Tell me anything you can.” 

She stared down at her hands, which were clasped in her lap. “I hadn’t prepared or anything- I don’t know where to start… but-“ she took a deep breath, and stared back up at him. “An orderly at the hospital got murdered last night.” 

“Oh, wow,” he said, leaning back on the desk. “Who was he?” 

“I don’t know, I think his name was Monroe- he just started a couple months ago, and he always worked the night shift so I never really came in contact with him. I think he lived down near the docks though. I think I heard Ellen say something about that…” 

He nodded, scribbling down the name and information. 

“He would sometimes stay a little longer to make a little extra money- a lot of orderlies or nurses would do that, come in early or stay later, and so occasionally our paths crossed. I never paid him much attention…” her voice drifted off and she looked down as her hand slipped into her pocket, feeling around. “A few days ago, something really weird happened though-“ 

His pulse immediately rose, feeling a surge of protectiveness. “What?” 

“I, uh, I went for lunch to a cafe around the corner from the hospital- alone, just to get away from the building for a minute,” she assured him. “But right before I left, the orderly, Monroe, he slid into the booth across from me and he was shaking really hard, and looked panicked.” She kept feeling around in both pockets, clearly getting more and more frustrated, as she jammed her hands in deeper. “He was spouting nonsense about him being in danger and something happening to him- I thought he was crazy so I just went along with it so he’d leave sooner, but then he handed me-“ Dana felt her pockets even further, and he heard a small rip emanate from her coat. 

“Dana? What was it?” 

She stilled after a second, and stared downwards in frustration. “He gave me this slip of paper that apparently had a name on it. Someone I needed to remember so in case something happened to him, I could bring it to you.” 

“Me?” 

“Yeah- well, he said the detective that was interviewing us about your case so I assume it was you.” 

“What was the name?” 

“I don’t know,” she sighed. “I was kind of freaked out by the guy, so I just agreed and shoved the paper in my pocket, thinking he was just some crazy guy who was delusional or something, but my pocket has a hole in it, and I didn’t realize…” She covered her eyes with a hand, either in embarrassment or frustration. “I’m sorry. I’ve been trying to think of what the name was, but I don’t even think I looked at the paper.” 

He smiled at her, and reached out to squeeze her hand, a gesture she smiled at, with almost a reminiscent look in her eye. “It’s okay.” 

“But there’s more…” she began, but stopped, and bit her lip as though thinking how to put the next bit of information. “Last night, a man my brother went to school with came to dinner, apparently he moved back to town for a job or something. But he came to see us- well, me.” She wasn’t even looking him in the eye now. 

Mulder’s stomach dropped, and he suddenly felt like the biggest idiot in the world- asking a woman out when she’s already got a caller, but then she continued. 

“My mother set it up,” she quickly assured him. “She’s convinced I need a matchmaker and she’s the one for the job.” She looked up long enough to give him a small smile at that, but it didn’t change his sudden nausea. “Anyway, this man, he.. uh, he asked me out-“ his breath caught in his throat. “-but it was really strange, because he… uh, he practically quoted your letter to me. He said-” 

Mulder’s jaw clenched, and and his chest felt tight. “Dana-“ 

“I’m not bringing this up for any other reason than your case,” she said, softly. “He just gave me a strange feeling- he was vague about his work and-“ 

“Dana, it’s okay. I’ll look into the dead orderly. I can let you know if we need any more information about him.” He was just staring at the floor, mumbling, not wanting her to see how much pain was in his eyes. Of course she would have someone after her.  It’s why he should’ve gotten off his ass a long time ago and asked her out. 

“Mulder, I’m serious about Andrew. You said yourself you didn’t want to write anything about the case in your letter. What if someone’s intercepting them from you?” 

He glanced up at her, suddenly entertaining the thought. Before he could respond, a knock came to the door, and they both jumped up. 

“Yeah?” he called, and the door swung open to reveal Skinner standing in the doorway. 

“Detective, your-“ he stopped abruptly, realizing they weren’t alone. 

“Sir, this is Dana Scully. She was a nurse down at St. Catherine hospital- you met during our first round of interrogations.” 

Skinner slowly nodded, reaching out to shake her hand. “Of course.” 

“Ms. Scully had some new information for us to look into. I was just getting the details.” 

Skinner nodded. “Alright. How long will you be?” 

“I don’t know, Sir. Why?” 

His boss hesitated, glancing at Dana before turning back to him. “Your new partner is here. He’s waiting in my office. As soon as you finish up with Ms. Scully, you can stop by.” 

Mulder nodded, his lips tightly pursed, and with that Skinner ducked out of the office, closing the door with a resounding click. 

After a moment, Dana spoke. “You’re getting a partner?” 

Mulder nodded. “It wasn’t my choice, but yeah.” 

Dana nodded, and reached up to twirl her short hair nervously. In his peripheral vision, he could see her hesitate, before saying: “Mulder?” 

He glanced over at her. “Yeah?” 

“I really liked your letter.” 

His face broke into a smile. “Yeah?” 

She returned his smile. “Yeah. I’m sorry I haven’t sent you another one back yet.” 

“It’s okay.” 

The room fell silent, both realizing simultaneously that they hadn’t been alone together in the same room in a long time. And realizing how much they missed each other’s company. 

“What time do you leave for work in the morning?” Mulder asked, not thinking at all about what he was saying. 

“What?” 

He hesitated, wondering if he was crossing a line. Wondering if that man- Andrew- was really just an unwanted matchmaking attempt. “I was just thinking that with the orderly murder and him talking to you, maybe you could use some company walking to work in the morning. For a safety precaution.” He knew very well from memory that she definitely did not need any extra protection and she would have no problem shooting him down. But he also didn’t want to quit her company cold turkey again, and walking her to work was an option he wished he’d thought of months ago. 

She smiled at his proposal. “I don’t know about safety, but I wouldn’t mind the company. I leave between six thirty and seven.” 

His chest suddenly felt lighter. “So… Monday?” 

She kept smiling. “Monday.”


He was walking her out to the lobby when they passed Skinner’s door and a young, overly cheerful man popped his head out. “Detective Mulder?”

Mulder stopped short, and he could hear Dana’s heels slow behind him. “Yeah?” 

“I’m Detective Krycek. Your new partner.” He reached out and shook Mulder’s hand tightly. “I’m really looking forward to working with you.” 

“Yeah… uh, me too, I guess.” This guy was practically a teenager. And his hair was slicked back with so much grease he was practically dripping. 

“I’m so sorry, were you in the middle of something?” Krycek asked, nodding at Dana. 

“I was just leaving,” she mumbled, shoving her hands in her pockets and glancing at Mulder, as if asking if she should just leave or wait for him to walk her out. 

“Oh, are you two…” Krycek’s voice drifted off, leaving everything unspoken in the air. 

“Ms. Scully is a witness for the case,” Mulder explained, hoping it was just enough detail to get them out of more questions. 

“Ah, Ms. Scully. I read your name in the file. It’s good to meet you.” 

Mulder glanced at Dana, who smiled politely. 

“Well, I have a shift to get back to,” she said, nodding towards the door. 

“I’ll walk you out,” Mulder said, nodding to Krycek, and then at Skinner, who he noticed sitting inside the office, observing the interaction. 


He walked Dana out to the door, and opened it for her, before stopping briefly on the stoop outside the building, regretting for a moment not bringing a jacket. “So, I guess that was my new partner.” 

She grinned like they shared a secret. “Emphasis on new.” She stepped impossibly closer to him, and he immediately forgot about the cold. 

“Yeah,” he chuckled. “We’ll have to have a talk about hair and wardrobe, but I guess it beats an old, cranky cop who just wants to shut me down.“ 

“You’ll have to tell me how he holds up to grisly murders and unexplained disappearances. And make sure to keep him away from matches.” 

He laughed again. “I’ll tell you all about it on Monday.” 

She nodded. “Monday.” 

“I’ll see you then.” 

Another nod, and she reluctantly stepped off the stoop. He turned and went back inside, glancing back only once at the glimmer of red hair disappearing into the city streets.   

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen.

September 25, 1920 

Dana was fast asleep when she felt someone aggressively shake her awake. It took a second of blinking in the darkness to realize it was Melissa and she groaned. “Go away, Missy, let me sleep.” 

“Dana, you overslept. It’s twenty after six.” 

It took Dana a second with her face buried in her pillow for her sister’s words to sink in. “What? Twenty after what? Oh, shit, twenty after six.” She sat bolt upright, and threw her covers off. 

She raced over to her closet and began rifling through to find her top and skirt and belt. “Thanks for waking me up,” she muttered amidst her frantic search. 

“It was either me or your Mr. Mulder,” Melissa said, casually, curled on her bed now with a smirk that shined through the darkness. 

“What?” Dana asked, frantically tucking her top into her skirt, ignoring the wrinkles. 

“Well…” Melissa said, dragging out the ‘L’s’. “I was making coffee because you never clean out the pot correctly when you make it yourself, and I noticed a man who kept pacing in front of the house. Occasionally he’d stop by the gate and reach for the latch, but then think otherwise and keep walking. Kind of cute, your fella.” 

Dana rolled her eyes, now too occupied with pulling out her curlers in an orderly fashion to argue with her sister in the half-whisper they’d been speaking in. 

“Anyway, after about the fourth time he neared the gate, I stepped outside, and asked what he wanted. He rambled on about something with you and police protection and escorting you to work. I got the truth out of him, though. I think he was too shaken from me standing in my nightie and overcoat on the stoop to really protest.” 

Dana sighed, not even surprised with her sister’s actions. She quickly gave up on her hair, tucking a couple pins in it to keep the curls at least a bit under control, before sliding her nurses cap over the mess, and turning to face her sister. “Please tell me he’s not sitting in the kitchen right now.” 

Melissa smiled. “Where Mother can wander in on a strange man waiting to take you out? No, Dana, I wasn’t that stupid. I had him wait on the corner for you.” 
Dana slipped on her heels and did the clasp. “Were you nice to him?” All she got was a smile in return. “Well, thank you.” She then grabbed her bag, and headed for the door. 


Mulder was waiting on the corner, standing awkwardly with his hands shoved in his pockets. She was the only other person out that early, and her heels clicking on the sidewalk alerted him to her presence, his face lighting up upon seeing her. 

“Hi,” he said. 

“Hi.” 

“I… uh, I guess your sister told you…” 

Dana chuckled and glanced down at her feet. “Yeah, she told me what happened. Sorry about her…” 

Mulder shook his head. “It’s fine.” 

“Probably should have warned you Melissa can come off… strong, when you first meet her.” 

He smiled. “It’s really okay.” 

“Okay.” 

“Do you-“ he gestured at the street, and she nodded, suddenly realizing that they were just standing there on a corner, and probably should be on their way. 

They walked side by side, their strides matching almost instantly, and for the first few blocks, they were in silence. Despite the letters, they hadn’t been together in so long. She told herself they’d need time to get comfortable with each other’s presence again. 

“So,” she said, clearing her throat. “What happened with the case?” 

“Oh, yeah. I stopped by that crime scene after you left on Friday, and the detectives didn’t really have much to go on. They think he was stabbed pretty brutally, but there wasn’t much to go on for the killer. The knife was just a basic pocket knife, so the killer would have to have been standing pretty close to him, but it didn’t have any significant markings or anything, so the lead detective doesn’t have much to go on. There looked to be some kind of inscription on the handle, at one point, but it also could have been some normal wear, and they told me to not get too attached to the idea.” 

“So, what now?” 

“Well, I think I’m going to follow up with some of Monroe’s neighbors and acquaintances, but on that side, there’s not much to go on for me, and the lead detective isn’t too fond of me sticking around his case any more than I have to.”  

“Is it that Spooky thing the other detectives were saying when I visited?” She gazed up at him with such concern. 

“Yeah,” he said, staring at his feet in front of him. “It’s just a stupid nickname they gave me a little while ago. They think some of my theories or hunches are a little crazy, and so they always seem to be giving me the outlandish cases to get a rise. It’s really not that big a deal, it’s just an annoyance.” He was rubbing the back of his neck as he stared at the ground, and she could tell it was bothering him more than he was letting on. 

“Well, I’m sure they’ll be sorry once you solve this case.” 

He chuckled, and gave her a weak smile. “Yeah. I guess.” 

Dana stopped on the sidewalk for a second, something else hitting her. “Mulder… you mentioned in your letter that some of your theories about the case were kind of… out there. Does the name have anything to do with them?” 

“No, no. The name’s been around for a lot longer, trust me. Basically since I started working there.” 

She nodded. “Good.” 

They continued walking down the street, the sun barely up, and no one else out but them. 

“If you don’t mind my asking… what are you thinking about this case?” She saw him flinch as she asked. 

“I… uh..” he took a breath. “I think the people that were taken are involved with some kind of conspiracy. Maybe a larger crime. Maybe something with scientific research, I’m not sure. But I think they weren’t just randomly taken, especially since none of the other hospitals in the area were hit, and since all the missing patients were men.” 

Dana was quiet, so he continued. “I think they might have been testing some kind of immunization on them. That’s why I got better right after that night when I got the vaccine- and I know what you’re going to say, that that night was unsubstantiated and whatnot, but I really think something deeper’s going on here.” 

She said nothing, but smiled at the pavement in front of them. I know what you’re going to say. They got their rhythm back. 

“Anyway, that’s just what I’m thinking for now. There’s a lot of unknown pieces with this, however, as my new partner has pointed out to me multiple times.” 

“How did he work out?” Dana asked, remembering she meant to hear about it. 

He sighed. “My C.O. loved him. He’s very… procedural. And he ended up tagging along when I went to check out the crime scene down at the docks. Hopefully, he’ll pick up better fashion sense, but he wasn’t as big of a pain as I was expecting.” 

“That’s good it worked out.” 

He shrugged. “It was only the first day. Doubt he’ll live up to your detective skills.” 

Dana swayed towards him when she laughed. “I wouldn’t say I have skills.” 

“Well, you do.” He said it so matter-of-factly. “I think I’m going to follow up with the Monroe leads. I had a theory about one of the guys who went missing, and I wanted to check it out, but Krycek wasn’t convinced of it, so I might look into it when he’s not working.” 

“He sounds confident.” 

“Yeah. Very certain of himself. And certain of what is and isn’t relevant to our investigation.” 

She turned to smile at him, but realized he head stopped walking. “Mulder?” 

He just nodded at the building to her right, and she realized they’d arrived at the hospital. “Oh.” 

He took a few steps, closing the distance between them. “Well, I guess this is it.” 

“I guess.” 

“It was nice talking to you,” he said. 

“Yeah.” 

They both fell silent, unsure of where they should leave things. 

“Well, I guess I’ll be going.” He gestured to the street. 

“Yeah.” 

He smiled at her, and reached out to squeeze her arm once, lightly, and then turned to walk away. 

“Mulder?” she called after him. 

He turned around and stepped back towards her. “Yeah?” 

“I could use some company on my way home tonight.” 

His face lit up with a grin. “I’ll be here at…” 

“Five-thirty?” 

“Five-thirty.” He didn’t move from his place on the sidewalk though, and shifted on his feet as though contemplating his next move. She didn’t see it coming, but he slowly leaned over, giving her time to back away, before kissing her briefly on the cheek. 

“Five-thirty,” he whispered again, like a promise, their faces still dangerously close together. And before Dana could even come to her complete senses, he left her there, standing on the sidewalk, clutching her nurse’s bag, and still feeling the ghost of his lips on her cheek. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seventeen. 

September 25, 1920 

All that was left at the crime scene was Monroe’s shabby furniture and the building’s custodian mopping up the blood. 

“I don’t see why we’re back investigating this.” Krycek stood in the entryway, with his arms folded over his chest. “We never even ran a background check on this Monroe, and I don’t even understand what he has to do with this case.” 
Mulder rolled his eyes, and continued to pace through the crime scene. “You’re welcome to go for your lunch break while I finish up here.” 

“No, no. It’s fine.” 

Krycek meandered into the kitchen, while Mulder took stock of the room. Two days in, and he had already began to lose his patience with his partner. 

Monroe’s place wasn’t large, nor anything special. One room apartment, except for the kitchen and bathroom. Fireplace, gas stove. Ash trays littered the room. Packs of cigars and cigarettes. A couple candles, just below the faulty electric lights. But no matches or lighters. That fact alone seemed off to Mulder, and he was sure there was something in it. 

“Krycek, have you seen any matches around?” 

His partner looked confused, but glanced around the kitchen. “No? I don’t see how that’s relevant-“ 

“Can you check again?” Mulder had begun rifling through drawers, and bins. He glanced up at the custodian. “Have you seen anything?” 

The man shrugged, and turned back to the bloody mess. 

“Anything?” Mulder called. 

“Nothing- Mulder, I don’t see what this is about. There’s nothing significant about no matches- he could have had a lighter on him at the time he was brought to the morgue or used them all up.” Krycek appeared in the kitchen doorway, his arms crossed over his chest again. “I know people say you’re a strange guy, who has a lot of wacky theories, but if you want to stop leaving me in the dark, I could be more helpful.” 

Mulder only half-heard him. As he was crouching on the floor near the fireplace, he spied something strange in the ashes, but didn’t want to pull it around his new partner. He glanced up at him. “You’re right.” 

“Really?” Krycek’s ears perked up. 

“Yeah, in fact, I think maybe we should take a lunch break, and then go back to the background checks. It seems like a dead-end here.” 

Krycek was already buttoning his coat, and adjusting his hat before he even finished his sentence. “I’m going to tell the landlord we’re done and he can lock up.” 

“Good plan, I’ll be there in a second.” 


Once Krycek was safely out of sight, Mulder reached into the fire place, and pulled out the charred corner of what looked like a matchbook from a restaurant or cafe. As he disturbed the ash, he saw the remnants of other empty matchbooks, one partially whole one even having the ghost of a phrase on the underside. They all appeared to be from the same establishment- each piece had the same shade of black on one side. He had nearly a handful of these little fragments, and was about to turn away, when he noticed something in the very back of the fireplace, and crawled in further, ignoring that his knees were now covered in ash. 

There, in the far back of the fireplace, a whole matchbook had been lodged in an opening between two bricks. He managed to pull it out from where it was wedged, guessing that someone had tried to flick it into the fire but missed. 

Mulder flipped it open, seeing only one match had been taken from it. On the opposite flap, there was smudged ink, so illegible he couldn’t tell what it originally was supposed to mean. If it hadn’t been for the lack of matches and other matchbook remnants, he likely would have discarded it thinking it was just ash or dust. But these matchbooks were coming from somewhere, and clearly there was more to them then just the intended purpose, so Mulder tucked them into the inside pocket of his coat, and made his way back downstairs to find his new partner. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eighteen. 

September 25, 1920 

Krycek was perfectly content doing paperwork back at the station for the rest of the afternoon, so Mulder took a quick “break” to slip back down to the docks to check something out. 

Their hideout wasn’t far from Monroe’s place. The three lived on the top floor of an old warehouse building, their location being optimal for their business. Mulder made his way up the long flights of rickety stairs, through the empty building, passing crate after crate of books they have yet to clear out. When he reached the large, metal door, he knocked five times, in a rhythm they’d previously agreed upon. After a second, the door swung open, revealing Langley, standing in a strange, colorful shirt he likely sewed himself, and his classic suspenders. The man needed a lesson in dressing more than Alex Krycek, but he never seemed to care. 

“Mulder!” he greeted him. 

“Langley,” he smiled, and walked in. “Where are the other two?” 

“Byers is on a distribution run, and Frohike’s back at sea.” Langley motioned for him to follow him through their grimy lair. 

“What, you don’t take turns on the import runs?” 

“Hey, Frohike’s the professional, and he has ins with all the big book sellers in London and Montreal. They always give him better deals. Plus, nobody on his crew cares what he brings on board, just as long as he does his job.” 

“And you and Byers would stick out?” 

“Like sore thumbs, apparently. I think Frohike just wants a break from us, though. Hey- you want a copy? We’re getting in a new batch of Joyce- wait, did I already get you a copy of his stuff? We’re also getting in some Darwin, doubt you’re interested in that though.” 

“Maybe… Listen- do you know when Byers is going to get back?” 

Langley adjusted his glasses. “Not really, what do you need?” 

Mulder scrounged in his pockets for all the matchbook remnants. He pulled them out and let them spill onto the clearest part of the table. 

Langley crept closer to get a better look at what he pulled out. “What do you care about a bunch of little pieces of paper?” 

“They’re all from matchbooks.” 

“That’s a lot of matchbooks.” 

“That’s what I thought-“ Mulder paused to pull out the whole one. “But then I found this one lodged in the back of the fireplace, and it has some kind of ink writing on it. I can’t tell what it says, but I know Byers knows a little about forgery so I wanted him to take a look at it and see if he can figure out what it says. Some of the scraps have the same ink on them too, so if he could look at that too. They were found at a dead guy’s apartment, and I think they might be connected to other disappearances, I’m just not sure how yet.”  

“Alright, I’ll get them to him. Maybe stop by tomorrow evening, and he’ll have had time to look them over.” 

“I’ll be here by seven, but I can’t do earlier.” 

“What, got a date?” 

Mulder hesitated, thinking about Dana. “Sort of. I just got somethin’ before seven, so I’ll be there then. Make sure he’s here.” 

Langley couldn’t contain his smile. “What’s her name?” 

“Seven o’clock sharp,” Mulder said, feeling his face get warm. 

He headed for the door, but hesitated, glancing back at him. “Langley?” 

“Yep?” 

“I’d like one of those Darwin books.” 

“Really? That doesn’t seem like your type really-“ 

“I just know someone who’d like them.” 

And he left without waiting for any more questions. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Nineteen

September 29, 1920. 

She could see him pacing in the hospital lobby for a solid fifteen minutes before her shift got over. Four days he’d walked her to and from work, updating her on the case each time he saw her. Somehow, her courtship-obsessed mother had been oblivious to the tall, handsome man that accompanied her daughter every morning and evening, but Dana still remained on high-alert. Her shift always ended in the early evening, so she wouldn’t be caught out at night, but it was a busier day than expected, and it was long after he’d arrived that she was released from her duties. 

He’d taken a break from pacing to sit and thumb aimlessly through a newspaper by the time she finally got off her shift. Mulder’s face lit up when she found her way into the lobby, looking at her in her rumpled uniform and smudged makeup like she was the only woman on earth. She smiled at him, but continued out the door like they always did. They left the hospital staggered, at her request, not wanting to draw attention from the other nurses or passersby, too many people knowing her family to risk gossip making its way back to her mother. He caught up to her at an intersection, falling into stride like normal, as they took a strange, meandering route back home. 

“How was work today?” he asked, glancing down at her. “Mrs. Palmer give you any trouble again?” 

He could see the corners of her mouth tip up, and she looked up at him. “No… no, she was actually released this morning to her son and his wife. They live on the other side of town, so in the event she hurts a hip again, there are other hospitals much closer that would be better suited for her care.” 

Mulder smiled at the street ahead, realizing for the fortieth time that week how much he’d missed her presence. “Sneaky, Nurse Scully. Calling in the in-laws.”

She flashed him a devilish smile, and swayed towards him in her step, briefly bumping into his shoulder. “What about you? How’s Detective Krycek?” 

“Still alive and well,” Mulder reported, regretfully. “Although, since he was so convinced we should just be continuing background checks, I gave him a couple dead-ends to look into, and so he’s been too occupied to pay close attention to some of the other leads I’ve been following up on. That said, he did find something about that one guy with a criminal record- Frank Silverio. He’s one of the ones who disappeared, but when Krycek looked into it, he was actually reported missing twice, once by his wife, and once by his mistress, who was a secretary down at the bank. The wife’s already been questioned extensively during our first round, so we went to talk to the secretary, but I guess she hasn’t been to work in a couple weeks, so right now Alex is on another goose-chase looking for her.” 

Dana looked lost in thought, staring at the walk in front of her. “Do you think she knows anything about his disappearance?” 

“I don’t know, I’m still not sure what to make of anything right now.” He paused, trying to figure out what to say, before realizing it was Dana listening to him ramble, not just a coworker or his superiors. “Did I tell you what Byers found?” 

“The man who was looking at those weird matchbooks you found? I don’t think so.” 

“Well, it took him a while longer than Langley expected, but he did figure out what the smudged ink said. He parsed together enough of it to make up an address. Monroe’s address. I’m thinking he wasn’t just murdered but rather it was a hit. And if it was, then that means Monroe was likely a hitman himself, hence the half dozen or so other matchbooks I found, but something clearly went wrong, or he did something, which put a target on his back. I’m just not sure what to make of it.” He glanced over at her, seeing the gears working in her head as she thought about it herself. He felt a little tension release in his shoulders, though, relieved that she was sort-of working on the case, too. 

“Mulder,” she started, her mouth briefly sitting ajar as if grasping for words. “Are you sure this is all connected to the original disappearances?” She glanced up at him. “If Monroe really had a hit out for him, then that could explain how freaked out he was when he met me, and that name he gave me- it could have just been the killer’s information, or something with the organization- important stuff, yes, but…” her voice got quiet. “… it might not be related to your case.” 

He absently rubbed his neck as he processed what she was saying. That all could be the case, but everything happening so simultaneously, it couldn’t be a coincidence. 

“I guess,” he said. “But I think there’s more to it than that, Dana. It’s all too interconnected. The disappearances, and Monroe working at the hospital. I think it might be worth pursuing.” 

“I’m just saying you may want to be careful you’re not being led away from the original investigation. You said yourself, there was likely something bigger going on, and if that was the case, a lot of powerful people are involved. There’s potential you could be deceived, and I’d just be wary of that.” 
He nodded understandingly, giving her a small smile, knowing she was just looking out for him. “Thanks. I’ll, uh, I’ll keep that in mind.” 

There was a beat of silence as they continued through the streets. 

“Samantha may come to visit,” he said, coming up empty with topics about the case. 

She smiled up at him. “Really? That’s lovely.” 

“Her school has an extended break during November for Thanksgiving, and she according to her letters, she wants to escape our parents’ house or die trying.” 

Dana chuckled. “I take it the search for her great romance is not going well.” 

“My parents are ready to marry her off to anyone who will take a girl as… spunky, as her, but she’s always been an incredibly stubborn person, so she’s not been swayed yet. I’m sure you’ll love her,” he said, immediately feeling ice water fill his veins. He realized he implied she was naturally going to meet his sister. That was still a couple months away. Anything, or absolutely nothing, could happen between them in that amount of time. 

But she didn’t seem taken aback by that comment, and just smiled. “I’m sure I will.” 

“What about your sister? Has your mother found her a suitor yet?” He remembered the extended story of Andrew Sullivan’s visit Dana had told him two days before, and how much she’d emphasized Mr. Sullivan’s lack of charm. 

“Not yet. I think she’s begun to give up on Missy, and move onto me. Which, of course, Missy is thrilled about. But our mother doesn’t yet seem to realize that my work is incredibly important to me, and the more devoted I am to it, the further I could take my career. She’s convinced I’m throwing my life away by focusing on medicine, rather than marrying someone respectable.” Dana hoped she wasn’t making it sound like she was completely opposed to the idea of a relationship, but rather just that her career was very important. 

They reached her street, and both subconsciously began to slow their paces. 

“I’m just waiting for the day she gives up on me, and lets me figure it out myself, and moves onto my younger brother Charlie.” 

His brows furrowed. “You’ve never talked about him before.” 

Her pace slowed even further. “No… He lives up in New York now, with his… roommate, Ed. Every man in my family joined the navy when they got old enough, but he refused to, and moved away for school. He works in a law firm up there, but my parents… my mother, now, is still pretty disappointed in him.” 
They were two houses down from hers, and stopped altogether, being hidden by some overgrowth that spilled over the fence of her neighbor’s garden. It was a quiet street, with little foot or car traffic, and they briefly continued their conversation uninterrupted, talking in low voices. 

“I’m sorry about that,” he said, finally, not knowing what he would do if his sister were estranged from the family. 

“It’s okay,” she said, smiling. “He’s happy, and we get letters from him from time to time. But it would be nice for him to be around to share the burden of our mother’s expectations.” 

Mulder chuckled. “Wow, my sister is really going to get along with you.” 

She smiled and moved impossibly closer. He couldn’t help but think about the night before his discharge two years ago. The secluded garden, her smiling up at him through the darkness. As silent as the night was, he was certain everyone on the block could hear his heart pounding in his chest. She was just standing there, as closer to him than ever, and after a second, he took a leap of faith, and cupped her cheeks with his hands. Her eyes widened, but the corners of her mouth turned up in a small smile as they both leaned in, and their lips met for the first time. His head spun, and he felt her touch his waist to steady herself, as he continued to kiss her. Just as he was about to deepen it, she pulled away breathlessly, still standing dangerously close to him. 

“I’m sorry-” he started, wondering how the hell he was going to get her to forgive him, but he saw her soft red hair move as she shook her head slightly. 

“No, no. It’s fine,” she said, not meeting his eyes. 

He was an idiot. She JUST said she wasn’t interested in dating or love because of her career. And then he goes and kisses her? 

“Mulder, this…” she glanced up at him, meeting his eyes for the first time. “I don’t think this can happen right now. Things are so complicated, and it’s…”

“It’s not right,” he finished, softly. 

“Not right, for now. I just think with the case and everything- you need to focus, and I need to not compromise that.” 

“Yeah,” he agreed, feeling like the biggest idiot in the world. 

“I’m sorry,” she said softly, tucking her hair behind her ear nervously. 

“Don’t be. You’re right.” He smiled at her. 

“I could still use company on my way to work,” she said, and he felt his chest get the slightest bit lighter. At least she still wanted to see him. 

“I’ll be here bright and early.” 

She reached down and took his hand in hers, lacing their fingers together ever so briefly so she could squeeze it lightly. He stared down at their joined hands, remembering fondly the comforting gesture from when he was sick. He squeezed her hand back, and brought his gaze up to meet hers. They shared a smile, both yearning for the same thing, and neither wanting to let go. 

After a moment, she dropped his hand, and turned away, leaving their little hiding spot for the warm glow of her house.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty

October 5, 1920. 

Mulder trudged into work, holding the book tight beneath his jacket. As blistering cold as it was outside, he was practically walking on air, feeling as though the book itself was warming him. He’d managed to get her the Darwin book mere days ago, like an awkward bargain for their friendship, a book exchanged for forgetting the other night. Her face had lit up when he presented it to her. She raved on about it the entire walk to work that morning, telling him how she’d heard about it from a couple other nurses and doctors, but could never get her hands on a copy. 

She’d sped through it in a matter of days, apparently, even as much reading on the way home. He hadn’t complained one second about walking next to her in silence, smiling down at her knowing she wouldn’t notice his gaze, and every so often, pulling her aside before running into a light pole or mail box. 

“I have to confess something,” she’d said that morning, sheepishly staring down at her feet and holding the book tight to her chest as tightly as he was now. “I’ve considered studying to be a doctor.” 

“Really?” 

She smiled up at him, like an excited child on their birthday. “The head nurse was telling me how some women up north, near Boston and New York had started becoming doctors, and while it probably wouldn’t be easy-“ 

“You’d be amazing,” he interrupted, knowing where she was going, and matching her smile. 

“Really?” 

He nodded, and stared at her as she giddily rambled on about it. How it would be difficult with no easy access to a women’s medical school, but if she could get her hands on some of the textbooks, it would be a lot easier. 

“I know a few people who could help with that,” he had volunteered. 

“Ah, yeah, your mystery book thieves. I’ll take all the help I can get.” 

“I’ll have them look into it. Ask around. I know the one- his name’s Frohike- occasionally makes stops in Boston, and he could find something there for you.” 

“That would be amazing.” In the time he’d known her, both in their in-person interactions, and through letters, rare did he see this side of her. The unabashedly gleeful side of her. She’d been happy before, yes. But never with this kind of excitement. He couldn’t stop smiling at this little peak into more of her person. 

By the time they were approaching the hospital, and Dana had begun to wind down. “Listen, I really appreciate the support. I think I’m already disappointing my mother enough, it wouldn’t be a good idea to mention this around her, so its nice to tell you.” 

He smiled. “Always.” 

They stopped, just feet from the hospital door, and she turned to face him. 

“I know it’s not your favorite subject, but it is a fascinating book. I marked a couple sections that you might like,” she said, holding out the book to him. “If you want to read some of it.” 

He took it from her. “I’d love to look at it. When I get a chance.” 

“Of course…” she smiled. “I better-“ she nodded towards the door. 

“Yeah,” he said, always hating this part. The part where they had to stop and say goodbye. “Well, I’ll see you later, Doctor Scully.” 

She gave him one last excited grin, and turned away.   

He had awkwardly hung his head, and turned to walk away, holding the book tight to his chest as he headed to work, a wave of dread washing over him in stark contrast to how he’d felt around Dana. 

No new leads, and no new witnesses, despite how close it felt like they were just last week. Krycek had turned up nothing in his background checks. That mistress was long gone, and they had no idea how to find her. Even if she did have something to do with it all, she’d been smart and gotten off the grid. 

Mulder clung to Dana’s Darwin book like a life jacket as he made his way through the long, narrow halls of the precinct, only to find a passive-agressive note from Skinner’s secretary about a meeting whenever he bothered to show up for work. 

Amidst the clutter of his office, Mulder noticed a half-full coffee cup that still had steam rising from it, and figured Krycek had already gotten there. He shut the office door, taking off his coat and inhaling deeply, trying to preserve some of that Dana-energy to get him through the meeting. He slid her book into the lowest drawer of his cabinet, and briefly closed his eyes before marching back out to Skinner’s. 

 


 

They both looked up when Mulder entered the room, stopping their conversation abruptly like they’d been caught gossiping. 

“Detective Mulder, nice of you to join us. Please take a seat.” 

“Sir.” He nodded at Skinner, and glanced at his partner, before taking a seat next to him. “I was only a few minutes late.” 

Skinner glared at him, before turning to Krycek. “Your partner was filling me in on your investigation. We seem to have a general consensus that this case is dead. No new leads, no reason to justify the continuing of this case.” 

The words had barely left his C.O.’s mouth when Mulder practically shot off his chair, looking quickly between Skinner and Kryeck. “Sir, how the hell could you say that-“ 

“Mulder, there are other cases you could be working with this time-“ 

“Sir-“ 

“Mulder,” Krycek started, his voice level and calm. “Maybe we should think about what the captain is saying.” 

“Can it, Krycek,” Mulder snarled at his partner, before turning back to his boss, who was growing beet red in his uniform. “Sir, permission to speak with you privately?” 

Skinner ground his teeth, but turned to Krycek and jutted his chin towards the door. His partner opened his mouth as if about to protest, before shutting it, and getting up to leave. 

Once the door had clicked soundly shut, Mulder sat back in his chair, fuming as much as his boss clearly was. “I’ve been working on this for two years. I almost had something, but Krycek’s been slowing me down and second guessing me at every turn.” 

“That’s what he’s supposed to do, Mulder,” Skinner leaned forward on his elbows. “This case is dead, Mulder. There’s not much you can say to change that.” 

“What /can I say?” Mulder felt his blood boiling. /Where the hell was this coming from and why didn’t he see it. 

Skinner sighed, and glanced at the frosted window on his office door. “Your partner has been pretty adamant about shutting this investigation down. He has been since day one. I don’t know if it’s because he’s a rookie or if he’s just too by-the-book, but that’s where he stands. And that’s what he’s put in every field report he’s filed on you. The same field reports that get forwarded all over the city to people even higher up than me. Don’t you understand that it’s frustrating for me too? But I can’t do much about it.” 

“So, what you’re saying is I don’t have any other options? There has got to be something. Can’t you just reassign him?” 

“It doesn’t work that way. Not in this case at least.” 

They sat in silence, Mulder’s blood boiling, about ready to snap Krycek’s greasy head off. 

“Walk me through it,” Skinner said, finally. 

“What?” 

“The case. The entire case. Walk me through it again.” Skinner’s jaw had slackened, and his eyebrows were less furrowed. Clearly he wanted to help in some way. 

“Well,” Mulder started. “Two years ago, in an annex of St. Catherine’s hospital, there were reports of patients disappearing. Their families didn’t know what happened, deaths never recorded. Nobody knew what happened to them, which wasn’t uncommon considering the flood of patients hospitals all around saw during the epidemic. But in that particular one, more seemed to go missing than normal. I, myself, was being treated there, and witnessed some suspicious activity among the orderlies, and asked around. When I was discharged, I opened an investigation, and all nurses reported having patients go missing in their care, but they’d always credited the disappearances to deaths while they were off duty.” 

“And you opened an investigation once you returned to the force.” 

Mulder nodded, not knowing why he had to go through all this again, but was willing to do anything to save this case. “I looked into it once I was back, interviewing nurses and doctors, family members and friends, everyone I could find. Nobody really knew anything. One minute these men were on death’s door, the next, they vanished into thin air. I looked into the background of everyone who was reportedly taken. They were all men, all from the same ward of the hospital. No criminal records. All between the ages of 30 and 40. Mundane careers, mundane educations. Nothing that would have stuck out at all. But there was one exception.” 

“That guy you had Kryeck look into. Silverio.” 

“Yeah. He was almost sixty. No education past high school. Worked in breweries and bars most of his life. Got busted just months before he contracted influenza for running a speakeasy. He had a wife, two sons, who both died during the war. But we just found out he had a mistress as well, a young woman who worked at a bank downtown, but who, as of three weeks ago, has gone missing.” 

“Strange he was the one to break the pattern.” 

Mulder nodded. “Yeah. I thought he was part of it all, or else I doubt the pattern wouldn’t have been broken. Especially not for someone as… boring as him.” 

“That woman you had in your office a couple weeks ago.” 

“Miss Scully?” Her formal name felt so weird in his mouth. 

“Yeah, her. What did she have to do with the case?” 

“She’s a nurse down at the hospital, and one of the witnesses we interviewed. She thought she had some evidence about the case and so I took it down and looked into it.” 

“Well?” 

Mulder hesitated. “There’s not much I can say on that side of it. An orderly from the hospital warned her that he might be in danger, and to go to me if something happened to him. A few days later, he was murdered, and when Detective Krycek and I went to the crime scene… there was evidence that the orderly had some business on the side as what looks like a hitman. I have reason to believe it is somehow connected to the original case, but I’m not sure how yet.” 

Skinner pursed his lips. “Krycek didn’t mention that part of it.” 

“Well, he’s not been the most trustworthy partner, has he?” 

There was silence as Skinner took in the evidence. “This mistress you mentioned. Has she officially been reported missing?” 

Mulder nodded, not sure where he was going with that. 

“Well, I think you should look into it. Exhaust all possible avenues. Who her family was. Who she associated herself with. It seems like you two would have the best idea of where to start.” He paused, checking to see if he got the message. “Would you like to inform your partner or should I?” 

Mulder gave his boss a small smile. “I will. Thank you, sir.“ 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-One

October 7, 1920 

By the time Dana’s shift was over, she was ready to get out of the hospital as fast as she could. A long day, made worse by the heat not functioning properly. She found Mulder in the entry of the hospital, hunched over, reading the Darwin book when she got off shift. He didn’t even flinch when she approached, only looking up when she took a seat on the bench beside him. 

“Enjoying it?” she asked. 

He shook his head sadly. “I don’t understand anything it says, Dana, are you sure it’s even English?” 

She laughed, pointed at her handwriting. “Did you notice I annotated it?” 

“Doesn’t help much.” 

“Sorry. I can take it back off your hands if you like,” she offered. 

“Oh, no, no, no. I’m not letting this thing win. I’ll finish it or go down trying.” He gave her a toothy grin, closing the book fully to give her his full attention. 
The entry was empty save for them, and being in a little nook prevented anyone from spying on them, so neither of them were in any rush to move along. 

“How was your shift?” he asked. 

She shrugged. “Dull. I got some reading done during my breaks, but it was nothing I hadn’t already learned in my nurses training.” 

“Well, I put in your order with the guys, and so you can look forward to that delivery.” 

She sat up straight. “They know where to find my books?” 

“No, but the way Frohike was smiling and chattering on tells me they’re all up for the challenge. I guess banned imports have gotten too easy, and they wanted something different.” 

She laughed. “Mulder, part of me wonders if you’re just making these men up, the way you characterize them.” 

“I’m afraid they’re in fact real. Nuts, maybe. But very real.” 

 


 

Far longer than she realized passed before they actually began heading back to her house. Walking the fifteen steps up to her door alone, Dana felt a warm, fluttering feeling in the pit of her stomach, one she logically knew she should push away, but with no one able to know about it, she had no reason to. She’d barely made it onto the porch when she saw her mother in the living room, pacing around the way she did when she was angry. 

When Maggie stopped suddenly, noticing her daughter through the window, she made a break for the front door. Dana quickly checked behind her, seeing if Mulder was still in the line of sight, but finding he’d already disappeared into the darkness. 

“Dana, where have you been?” Maggie demanded as Dana entered the house. 

“I had to stay late at work.” 

“Why didn’t you call?” 

Dana sighed. “I’m sorry. I completely forgot.” 

“Dana, you have to be more careful. You can’t be running around, doing God knows what at all hours of the night. I expect you to follow a certain code of decency while you’re living in this house, and that means responsibility and respectability,” Maggie chided. She sniffed around a second, then appeared to remember something burning in the kitchen and ran for it. 

“Sorry about her,” Melissa said, appearing out of nowhere. “I was going to cover for you, but I need to be on her good side, so…” she shrugged, and gave her sister a devilish smile. 

“What happened? She’s never this mad at me when I’ve come home late.” 

“Another man dropped by this evening looking for you.” 

“Oh?” 

“Mrs. Nevsbitt’s son down the street. He works painting houses now.” 

Dana had tossed her coat haphazardly into the closet and followed Melissa upstairs, out of earshot of their mother. “Good to see she’s losing hope of me marrying up.” 

“I know. Speaking from experience, its the last stage before totally giving up hope that you’ll ever marry.” Melissa turned around and gave her a cheeky grin, before letting herself into Dana’s room and shutting the door behind them. “You missed all of dinner by the way. Mother didn’t even save you anything, I’m guessing as punishment for not showing up.” 

Dana shrugged. “It’s fine.” 

Her sister flopped down on the bed. “So, are you going to tell me about your night or do I have to pretend this Nevsbitt man is a more interesting topic than he is.” 

Dana turned away to hide her wide smile, and walked over to the closet to begin dressing in her nighty. “It was nothing. Mulder and I talked too long and got sidetracked coming home." 

She could feel Melissa’s eyes on her back, boring a hole straight through her.

“And when are you going to tell Mother about your suitor so she stops making me eat boring dinners with bland men on your behalf?” 

“He’s not my suitor.” 

“Really? The man who has voluntarily walked you to work at the crack of dawn, and waited for you all evening until your shift was done and brings you books he thinks you’ll like? He doesn’t like you?” 

“Missy, he’s just a friend.” 

“Really? He’s been explicit about that? Been completely clear, told you in no uncertain terms, that he has no attraction to you and sees you just as a friend, and would never make any kind of romantic attempt towards you?” 
Dana turned around, hands firm on her hips. “Melissa, what are you getting at?”  

“John Nevsbitt was a runner, you know.” 

“What?” 

“A runner. He likes to run, and does so often at night.” 

“Oh my-“ 

“You know he mentioned something about people these days, carrying on with their affection a little to publicly.” 

Dana fell back against the closet door and sank down to the floor. “Oh no.” 

Missy couldn’t stop smiling, and every word out of her mouth was punctuated with a throaty, but suppressed giggle. “You should have- you should’ve seen Mother’s face w-when he talked about the couple he saw the other night. A nurse with some tall man, kissing in the bushes a couple doors down from us.” 

Dana pulled her arms around her knees and dropped her head down. “Ohhhh no.” 

“Come to think of it, that may be why Mother was so angry with you tonight too.” 

“Missy…” She groaned loudly. “What am I going to do?” 

“Well, we don’t know that it was you. there is that Delaney girl down the street who’s also a nurse. I did mention that, so you could pit it on her too if Mother confronts you again.” 

Dana looked up. “Really?” 

Melissa nodded sympathetically. 

“Okay.” 

There was a beat of silence as Dana tried to let the humiliation wash away. 

“So?” Melissa prompted. 

“What?” 

“Are you going to tell me the truth?” 

Dana sighed. “The truth.” 

Melissa nodded. 

“The truth is- there’s nothing between us. We kissed. But he has a case that I’m involved with, and it’ll look suspicious if he’s pursuing one of the witnesses and so for now, we’re friends. That’s it.” 

Missy smiled. “I don’t buy it. But I’ll let it go for now.” 

She got up and walked over to Dana, ruffling her hair. “But if I don’t get details soon, I’m telling Mother all about it.” 

Dana groaned, and didn’t lift her head up until she was sure Melissa had left the room. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Two

December 13, 1917 . 

His bunkmate was a child. The kid was scrawny, and looked barely eighteen, but was already prepared to die. He kept talking about this buddy of his- Bill something, who had joined the second he turned eighteen, and how he hadn’t even thought about it till the war broke out. This Bill was so proud to join, wanted to be just like his father, but this bunkmate was more hesitant. Slowly, but surely, this guy opened up to him, talking enough for the both of them. During their long voyage, he learned about this kid. Middle class family. Middle class education. High school track star. Never left his hometown until now. Completely average, and completely ideal recruit if he hadn’t been a child about to go to war. 

“What about you?” he asked one day. “What’s your story?” 

He pursed his lips and stared at the creaky springs holding up the bed above him. “Ex-cop. I worked security for a while. Now, I’m just doing my damn patriot job.” 

The kid never asked again.   


 

They were assigned different units, different locations, when the finally got off the boat. The kid went north, he south, and the scared kid marched away, glancing back at him only once, before turning and leaving forever, no telling when or if he would be on a ship home. 

Nearly one year and one signed treaty passed, and he never saw the kid again. That ship he took home was a large one, full of men who counted the days till they docked in the States. One week in, a familiar face caught his eye across their makeshift mess hall. That scared kid who’d talked his ear off was long gone, leaving only the shell of a haunted man. When he sat down across from him, the man didn’t speak, just nodded. He definitely liked this version a lot better. 

They didn’t speak on their long trip home, until just hours before they docked. The air on the ship, once full of pain and trauma, was now full of excitement and giddiness. While they’re fellow passengers chatted excitedly about their families and loved ones, the man stood off to the side, holding the bag that was filled with his belongings tightly to his chest. The guy moved only when he approached him, turning and making eye contact. 

“Hey,” he finally said. 

“Hey.” 

“You got a job to come back to?” he asked, watching the man shake his head.

“Want one?” 

“You know someone who’s hiring?” 

He thought about his employer, the guy who’d rescued him from the police force several years ago. Not your normal job, but definitely better benefits than most. Instead of an answer, he smiled, and reached out his hand, introducing himself for the first time. 

“Duane Barry,” he said. 

The man hesitated, staring down at his outstretched hand, before reaching out to shake it. “Andrew Sullivan.” 

“Nice to meet you, Andrew Sullivan. Care for a drink when we dock?”

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Three

 October 15th, 1920. 

It was far warmer than October normally was, and as Dana got off her shift early, and as Mulder was nowhere to be found, she decided to walk his route from the police station in the hopes of running into him. 

She made it the entire way there, and there was no sign of him, so she took a seat on a bench a couple hundred feet away, and opened up her first medical textbook to the page she bookmarked at lunch. 

Halfway though the next chapter, she heard a familiar set of footsteps coming up behind her. “I finished the Darwin.” 

She turned around, smile plastered on her face. “You did?” 

He returned her smile, holding out the battered book. “And it’s dull. And a little strange.” 

She made a face at him, but stood. “I’m glad you gave it a chance.” 

Mulder nodded, giving her that same look he did that night outside her house. Like there was something else he’d rather give a chance. “Me too.” 

“So, you got off early?” he asked, as they started their walk home. 

“Yeah... it was a slow day. What about you? Any progress on that mystery woman?” 

Mulder shook his head. “No. Slow going, as well. We did hear back from a couple sources near her, though. There’s still not much to go on, but it’s something.” 

Before Dana could respond, they heard the loud sound of footsteps running behind them. She turned and saw Mulder’s partner- the greasy haired guy- Krycek running up behind them. 

“Krycek?” Mulder asked. 

“Mulder- hello,” he gasped, stopping just short of them. “Sorry to run after you like that, but, uh, you forgot to sign this report.” 

Mulder stared at him strangely. “I could have signed it tomorrow.” 

Krycek shook his head. “Just wanted to get it in today. Skinner said he wanted it so-“ 

He rolled his eyes. “Alright, just give it here.” 

“You’re that nurse,” Krycek said, turning to Scully. “The one from the case file. Scully, is it?” He reached out to shake her hand, but she didn’t move. “I think we met in the police station a few weeks ago.” 

“Yes.” Dana replied, dryly. 

“You two,” Krycek gestured between them. “Seeing each other?” 

Mulder slapped the documents with his messy, midair scrawl on them against Krycek’s chest. “There you go. I will see you tomorrow.” 

“Mulder, you do know that consorting with someone from the case-“ 

“I’m not.” 

“It’s just that it would have to be reported to Skinner.” 

Mulder glared at him. “This is just about the case. I am just updating her so she can be on the lookout for any new leads- we don’t exactly have any spare cops to station at the hospital, so she needs to have the information to keep her patients safe.” 

Before Krycek could answer, Mulder nudged her arm, and turned away, leaving his partner watching them curiously as they went.


 

Once they were out of earshot, Scully leaned towards Mulder and whispered, “that man is so strange.” 

“Yeah, he is,” Mulder said, glancing down at her with a smile. They turned a corner and disappeared into the streets, away from Krycek’s prying eyes. 

“Do you think he’s up to anything?” she asked, not sure how to phrase it. “I know you said he undermines you a lot…” 

Mulder was quiet for a second, pondering that possibility. “I don’t know. Maybe.” 

She glanced behind her one last time. “I’d be careful of what you say to him.” 

He smiled. “Such a skeptic.” 

“What? You trust him?” 

He chuckled. “No, not at all. I just…” his voice trailed off as he glanced over to see her eyebrow raised. “Just really like that about you.” 

She refused to look at him or speak for the next two blocks. He would have felt nerves bubbling in his chest if it hadn’t been for her cheeks growing steadily rosier. 

“So, you hated Darwin?” she asked, quietly, lips upturned like she was excited for a new debate. 

“I wouldn’t say hate,” he grumbled, flashing her a smile of his own. “He just seems a little nuts.” 

The laugh she let out practically carried him the whole way home. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Four

June 4th, 1919. 

Rain was pouring down as he ran from the precinct, puddles littering the sidewalk. His hat did little to block the rain, neither did the rolled newspaper he used like a visor. 

A block away from his apartment, and he was soaked to the bone. He slowed his stride, realizing the running didn’t make a difference, and the long day had worn him out. 

Just as he passed an alleyway, a man stepped out, blocking his path. 

“Sonofa-“ he said, stopping in his tracks to grab his chest. “You startled me.” 

“Alex Krycek?” the man asked. 

Krycek stood up straighter. “Who’s asking?” 

“You need to come with me.” The man didn’t bother to wait for him, just reached out and grabbed his arm tightly. 

“What the hell?” Krycek tried to shake him off, but stumbled forward as the man led him away. “Who the hell are you?” 

“That’s not a concern of yours.” 

The man led Krycek through the streets, to an old warehouse by the docks. He rapped a few times on the metal door, and after a second, it swung open. 

“In,” he ordered Krycek, shoving him through the doorway. 

The large room was empty, save for them. No sign of the person who’d opened the door, no sign that anyone had even been there in years. 

“Where are we?” he asked. 

The man didn’t answer, just led him towards a back room. The space was darkened, and Krycek felt fear rising in his chest. 

“What the-“ 

He was interrupted suddenly by the sound of a match striking. An oil lamp was lit, and soon the room filled with a yellowy glow. 

“Alex Krycek?” he heard, and turned to find that they were not alone. 

“Yeah?” 

The man who’d taken him nodded to this one, and left the room, slamming the door shut behind him. 

“Take a seat,” he said, gesturing at the solitary chair next to the rickety card table that held up the light. 

“No, what the hell is going on? Some guy grabs me off the street and-“ 

“Take a seat, Krycek,” the man boomed. 

He sat. 

“Listen to what I have to say,” he told him. “Then you may ask questions. Got it?” 

Krycek glared at him, but nodded. 

“Good.” He paused a second to light a cigar. “Because I have a preposition for you.” 

 


 

October 15th, 1920. 

“What about this woman? This Dana Scully?” Spender asked. 

“They’re close. I wasn’t able to get more information than that.” 

“What do you mean you couldn’t get more information.” 

Krycek shrugged. “They’re both suspicious, of everything. Mulder doesn’t fully trust me, I doubt his girlfriend would either.” 

Spender stared at him, knowingly, but didn’t reply right away. He reached for his cigar and lit it, before taking a long puff. “Do you think she’s a threat to the operation?” 

“I don’t know. She works at the hospital, and I know she knew Monroe. I don’t know how good your guys were back in ’18 but if they were anything but extraordinarily careful, she would be a threat.” 

“Monroe’s not a problem anymore. Sullivan took care of him.” 

“Mulder’s still going over that case, though. He’s going to connect the dots eventually.” 

Spender shook his head. “We were careful. Mulder doesn’t know more than he should.” 

“But-“ 

“Right now,” he declared. “Our focus should be on Ms. Scully.” 

“You think its time to get her out of the picture?” Krycek stared at his boss. 

“You seem surprised, Alex.” 

“Listen, when you got me into this, you never said anything about taking out a woman just doing her job.” 

“Alex, you know as well as anyone that if you have a problem with this, you can walk right out that door. Mr. Monroe can attest to that, if you’d like to ask him.” Spender gave him a smile, as if to say the choice was his. 

Krycek took a deep breath, and swallowed har. “So, what are you suggesting?” 

Spender tapped on his desk like he was thinking. “I think it’s about time our good friend Mr. Silverio makes a reappearance, don’t you think?” 

Ignoring his immediate hesitancy, Krycek nodded. 

“Lot a fights happen at that bar of his, don’t they?” 

Again, he nodded. 

“Wouldn’t be surprised if someone were to get hurt.” 

Krycek didn’t need to hear anymore, just backed away from the desk towards the door. 

“Sir?” he asked, remembering what he’d wanted to ask. 

“Yes?” 

“What happened to Barry? I was supposed to meet up with him the other night, but he never showed.” 

Spender took a long drag of his cigar. “Duane… has gone rogue one too many times.” 

Krycek left the office, a nauseating feeling growing in his stomach. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty Five. 

October 20, 1920. 

Mulder waited for Dana at the street corner, like always. When before he’d roll out of bed with barely enough time to clean up and make it to work on time, now he loved the mornings, not caring how early it was. He always heard her before he saw her, the soft clapping of her heels coming towards him being one of the best sounds in the world. 

“Hey,” she said, greeting him with a smile. 

“Hey,” he answered. 

And they started out. 

“I got a letter from Samantha last night,” he said. 

She grinned. “Really? What did she say?” 

“Well, she’s officially moving to the city- next summer after the school year.” 

Dana smiled. “That’s great. Will she be living with you?” 

Mulder shook his head. “I don’t know. Maybe, if my parents get their way. She wants an apartment of her own, but regardless, I’d still have to sign the lease because our father would never do it.” 

“She’ll still be a teacher?” 

“Yeah. And she’s really excited about it.” 

Dana grinned. “Well, if she needs a roommate, my sister will jump at the opportunity.” 

He chuckled. “She may take her up on that.” 

—————————————–

Their walk to work was peaceful, neither having anything pressing to talk about. For a second, just a mere second, he was grateful that there hadn’t been any breaks in the case. Gone was the stress and worry of keeping his case afloat, replaced now by the sheer bliss that it was to be in her presence. 

When they reached the hospital, she barely said goodbye, the way they always seemed to part these days. No longer with the concern of how long they’d have to wait to see each other, they parted like it was merely a pause in their conversation, rather than an ending. 

He trudged to work, head so high in the clouds he nearly missed the shiny blonde curls that stepped out of the butcher, nearly running into him. 

“I’m so sorry,” she mumbled, stepping quickly to the side, out of his way. 

For a second he thought nothing of it, but a memory clicked in his head and he swiveled around and raced after the blonde. 

“What the hell?” she gasped, as he stumbled in front of her. 

“You’re Hazel McKinley.” 

She looked at him like he was crazy. “Why? What is this?” 

It was her. Definitely her. Her picture was etched in his head after weeks of searching for the lost mistress. “I’m a detective. I’ve been looking for you for a long time.” 

And without waiting for her to respond, he ushered her the three blocks to the precinct, with unparalleled relief flooding his veins. 

—————————————–

“I don’t understand, what is this?” she repeated for the fifth time since the interrogation began. 

He leaned over the table, over Krycek and his dumb, unnecessary stenography.

“We know you’re in contact with Frank Silverio. We need you to tell us everything you know. What he’s doing. Where he’s been the last two years. What he offered you to disappear.” 

“Disappear? I didn’t disappear. And I don’t know what you’re talking about with Frank. He died, last I heard. We flirted a little here and there before he got sick, but his wife would know more than I would.” 

Mulder rolled his eyes in a way that would make Dana proud. “Cut the bullshi-“ 

“What Mulder’s trying to say is, we were tasked with finding you after you were reported missing by your employer. You were also associated with a known moonshiner, who broke the law, and we would kindly ask that you just give us all the information you can so we can best help you.” Krycek smiled at the woman, getting genuine glee from undermining Mulder. 

Hazel sighed. “Frank is alive,” she said. “Got better after the flu, but didn’t want his wife to find out so he could run off with me. He paid one of the orderlies to take him out like he died, and we started a new life. My ‘disappearance’ was just me quitting and preparing for us to move out of town, but Frank got cold feet about leaving, so we’ve been waiting for the last few weeks. I can put you in touch with him if you like, but he knows nothing more than I do. We’ve done nothing wrong.” 

Mulder scoffed, but Krycek interrupted him before he could. “We’d love to get an address from you so we can go see him, and then you can go. As soon as we talk to him, we’ll leave you two be.” 

She smiled at Krycek, then gave Mulder a glare. “Thank you.” 

Once she’d given them the address, and left the room, Mulder turned to his partner. “What the hell was that?” 

“That was me making a deal to help you, what do you want?” 

“How exactly does that help me?” 

“We talk to Frank, Frank makes a deal with us to give up the names of other speakeasy owners in exchange for his freedom, we coordinate a massive bust and you get a better reputation.” 

“You’ve been over the case. We’re dealing with potential murderers, and kidnappings. We could be dealing with something bigger than prohibition laws, and you really wanna let our prime suspect go just so we can hand out a couple misdemeanors? He could have contacts in a whole network of-“ 

“Listen to yourself, Mulder. This isn’t some conspiracy. It’s a guy who wanted to get away from his wife. That’s all there is to know!” 

He was fuming. Staring at this greasy, baby-faced man, he was furious. How, after weeks of working together, could he chalk it up to nothing? 

“I think we should go by the address and see what Silverio has to say.” 
“Fine.” Mulder took a deep breath, telling himself he could ignore Krycek’s intentions as soon as they found Silverio. “Let me get my coat and we’ll go.”

—————————————–

The apartment was in a dark side of town, fitting the characterization Hazel had offered them. This was the place to go if you wanted to get away. With barely a door to knock on, they stood listening to footsteps close in on the door. 

“You the cops?” a gruff man asked, when he swung it open.

“Yeah,” Mulder started, puzzled by his anticipation of their arrival. 

“Hazel sent word you may be over,” he said, clearing up the questions. “Come on in.” 

They followed him into the grimy interior. The apartment matched the man before them perfectly. Older, roughed up, and with a bitter air to it. 

“Before you say anything, lemme be clear that if you boys arrest me, a bunch of your little cop buddies will go without drinks tonight.” 

“We’re not hear about that,” Mulder said, interrupting Krycek before he could even speak. “We wanted to talk to you about why you disappeared and the underground network responsible for over a dozen other disappearances in ’18. We know you were involved and the more you evade us the longer this is going to take, and the more responsibility is going to be placed on you, rather than the associates who did the crimes.” 

Silverio balked at him for a moment. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, son.” 

Mulder stood up straighter. “We know you were involved. We have evidence against you-“ 

“What my partner is failing to say is that we would like to know more about your speakeasy and if you had any contacts you could give us in exchange for us… looking the other way about yours.” 

Silverio looked between them, fumbling a toothpick in his mouth as he thought. “I don’t know about your ‘disappearances’ thing, but I can help you in the moonshine department.” 

He moved over to a bookshelf, slanted against the wall thanks to the uneven floors, and pulled a notebook off it. “There are a few names I can give you now, but if you really wanna bust a big man in the business, you’re going to have to find a pretty woman and bring her down to my bar.” 

Mulder furrowed his eyebrows. “Excuse me?” 

“There’s a regular I have- don’t know his name. Just know he always dresses in the same damn pinstripe suite and comes in every few months and steals my ideas and my customers. Big fan of the ladies, too. Almost lost Hazel, myself to him.” 

Mulder screwed up his face at the sound of this man talking about people in that way. Like entranced automatons just following the next shiny thing. 

“He owns several different bars, I know that for sure. Bust him, you take down a whole network. And you’d get a thorn out of my side.” 

“We really would like to know more about your involvement in-“ 

“Thank you for your help, sir,” Krycek said. “Just give us a date he may drop by and we’ll be there to confront him.” 

“I’m not kidding about finding a lady to do it for you. You two come in hot with your damn theories and you’ll scare him away. He’s nothing if not efficient at hiding. By the time you even make it to the first of his bars, the rest will be dissolved and moved.” 

“We’re not about to put out bait for your damn competition-“ 

“We’ll consider it,” Krycek spoke over him again, sharing a glare as Mulder turned in anger. “We’ll be leaving soon.” He said that less to Silverio than his partner. 

“Alright, I’ll send you guys a date when I know it, and the location. Telegram to your precinct.” 

“Thank you for your time,” Krycek said, smiling politely at the suspect. 

“Thanks for bustin’ that sonofabitch who’s putting me outta business.” They shared a chuckle, and Krycek wrapped his arm around Mulder’s bicep and pulled him quickly out of the apartment. 

“So, who do you think we should bring with us?” he asked. 

“What? You really think we’re doing his plan?” 

Krycek shrugged. “I think your nurse friend could be a good option.” 

“Like hell she’s doing this,” he muttered. “For all we know he’s setting us up. Just giving us enough to get him off his back. Or worse, he’s fixing bust so we get roughed up, and he can disappear again.” 

His partner shook his head. “I doubt it, Mulder. We need to just work with him. In all likelihood, he’s telling the truth, and just wants this guy off his back. It’s a simple plan, and if anything goes wrong we can end it and retreat, but for now, this is too good an opportunity, and I think you should drop that damn St. Catherine’s case for a few days and just let this bust even out a couple black marks on your record.” 

Mulder swallowed hard. “Fine. But Silverio is not leaving our sight the whole night. And the second the plan is finished, we are taking him into custody and interrogating him properly.” 

Krycek nodded. “Alright. I’ll set it up with Skinner, then we’ll wait for his telegram.” 

They walked in silence for a few minutes, neither wanting anything to do with the other. 

“So, will you talk to Ms. Scully?” 

“What?” 

“You know? About being our bait.” 

Mulder shook his head. “No. If this thing goes south, we’re not having her get involved. We’ll have Cheryl do it.” 

“Cheryl’s pretty, but isn’t cut out for this kind of thing. Talk to Ms. Scully or I will. I’m guessing, from the few times I’ve talked to her, that she won’t be very happy that you’re second-guessing her ability to simply talk to someone. Or that you’re trying to ‘protect’ her from something that’s barely dangerous. She’s one of those modern-types, isn’t she?” 

He watched Mulder grow angry in silence. “Yeah, I’m right. Talk to her tonight. If she hasn’t agreed by morning, I’m marching to that hospital and talking to her myself.” 

With that as his final note, Krycek’s stride sped up, and he left Mulder floundering in his dust, wondering how the hell he got played by a criminal and a rookie. 

—————————————–

October 21, 1920. 

Prettyboy was late coming in, like always. 

“I got another assignment for you, if you care to take this job seriously.” 

Andrew scoffed, and took his seat by the bar. “What is it?” 

“A cop and that nurse are coming in in a few days with Alex. He’s gonna take care of the cop, and you’re on the nurse.” 

“What? Why me?” 

“Because,” he snarled, leaning over the bar. “With Duane out, and Monroe a snitch, you’re our best available option.” 

“She knows me. She’s seen me. She thinks I’m a stupid construction worker.” 

“She’ll trust you more then. No moonshiner tells the truth about their job anyway. Just come in, flirt with her a little, and get her to come with you. Then you finish the job.” 

Andrew glared at him. 

“I’m tellin’ ‘em the 27th. You better be here and be ready. Wear that fancy pinstripe number and be ready to take care of your little date, or else you’ll end up like Barry.”   

Wanting not to hear anything else, he slipped off the stool and strode towards the door. 

—————————————–

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Six.

October 21, 1920. 

The building was always colder than it should have been. Like the structure somehow knew the dark souls who lay within it. He found Barry’s apartment easily, and knocked that special tune. 

“What?” he snarled at him when he swung the door open. 

“I need to talk to you.” 

Andrew moved into the apartment and waited for the sound of the door clicking back into place. 

“I have a hit I need you to take care of.” 

Barry raised an eyebrow. “I thought I was out.” 

“You are. This is your way back in.” 

“What? You getting soft?” 

Andrew pushed him against the wall, forearm pressing against his windpipe. “Hey- I saved your life. I could have killed you, but I found you a safe place to stay and let you live. You owe me a favor and now I’m cashing in. There’s a kill that I’m not doing.” He paused and moved his arm so Barry could get a single strangled breath, before he pressed back on his throat. “You are gonna do it for me, and if you do a good job, they’ll let you back in. If you don’t do it, I’m using you as practice. So what’s it gonna be?” 

He moved his arm, and with Barry’s first free choke of air, he said: “Okay.” 

“Good. Be at Silverio’s the 27th in a pinstripe suit. She’ll be the redhead who approaches you.” 

Barry nodded, still gasping for air. 

“After the kill, we’ll meet up and approach them together. Together. You’re not getting back in the game at my expense. I’m not losing this spot.” 

And with that, he moved towards the door. 

“You really have come a long way from those months on that ship, kid,” Barry said. 

Andrew stared at the door a beat, then turned back to him. “Don’t screw this up,” he snarled. And with that, he slammed the door behind him. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Seven. 

October 23, 1920. 

The telegram came in in the late morning. He hadn’t brought it up with her yet, hoping on the unlikely chance the plan would just fizzle out. 

Skinner hadn’t been thrilled about the idea of them messing around alone with Silverio, but he wasn’t about to give them more manpower to work with. 

After days of sitting around waiting, the telegram arrived. 

Pinstripe there on 27 STOP

Address 3492 Aiken St STOP

Krycek held it up for Mulder to see. “Four days. Your little friend agreed yet?” 

He snatched the telegram from his hand, and shoved it into his pocket. “I’m taking a long lunch.”

————————————————

With recent cold snaps, the hospital was getting more and more full. Everyday there was a new case of runny noses and coughing.

She was taking a three minute break when the head nurse popped her head into the break room and asked for her. 

“Who is it?” she asked through a yawn as she followed her supervisor out. “Mr. Arroway and the hypothermia?”

“No, it’s your suitor.” 

Dana stopped in her tracks, completely confused for a moment, then saw the man the nurse was glaring at. 

Barely three hours after he’d dropped her off, Mulder stood in the hospital doorway, shifting from foot to foot with his hands shoved deep in his pockets. 

He smiled at the sight of her, but quickly suppressed his joy at her bosses’ angry glare. 

“Take an extra half hour if it means he doesn’t come back here and jabber my head off.” And with that, she and Mulder were left alone. 

“This is a surprise.” 

“Yeah, sorry I didn’t mention it this morning…” his voice drifted off as he looked around them for anyone paying attention to their conversation. “Can we talk?” 

Her eyebrows furrowed but she nodded, and followed him out of the building. 

“I brought you a sandwich,” he said, suddenly remembering it thanks to the silence. Out of his large coat pocket he produced a tightly wrapped bundle. 

“Thanks.” She took it gladly, and ripped open the paper quickly. Mulder was leading her somewhere. It was the direction of his precinct, but different. “Where are we going?” 

He hesitated. “My apartment. If that’s okay with you.” 

She swallowed, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye. “Sure.” They’d never gone there before. Never had the time. Never had the courage.

“We need to talk in private without-“ he looked around. “Prying ears.” 

She nodded, though still didn’t understand what he was going on about. Quickly, they moved through the streets, towards an older brick building, with a swinging sign that read ‘Hegal Place’ out front. 

“It’s beautiful,” she said, staring up at the stone carvings at the top of the building. 

“Used to be nicer,” he said, leading her inside. “But I like how it is now.”  

————————————————

His apartment was on the second floor, just up a set of stairs and there you go. 

Once the door was shut tightly, behind them, Mulder’s shoulders relaxed. “Can I take your jacket?” 

She nodded, and handed him it as she took in the place. Mismatched furniture, and different colored rugs took up the space, floorboards creaking under their footsteps. 

Behind that closed door, she assumed, was the bedroom, and the kitchen was practically spilling out onto the living space. As she walked the perimeter, she heard Mulder nervously shuffling about, making tea for them. 

“Mulder, you have an X on your window.” She reached out and smudged the tip with her forefinger. The paint was moist with the cold fog condensation of the morning. 

“My landlady was supposed to have it fixed- there’s a crack along the edge that lets cold air in, but she never got around to hiring someone. I just wanted to mark it so I didn’t forget which panel was supposed to go.” 

She chuckled, and wiped her paint covered finger on a set of his pants laying haphazardly across the chair, before taking a seat on the couch. 

“What did you want to talk about.” 

He was steeping the tea so frantically, lukewarm water splashed all over the counter. “Nothing. It’s nothing.” 

She raised an eyebrow. He could see it without turning around. 

“I was going to ask you to do something, but I need you to know that you don’t have to. I mean, my partner may come and harass you, telling you that I’m overbearing or something, but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. 

“Mulder?” she asked. 

He turned around and faced her. 

“What is it?” Her voice was gentle and curious. 

He abandoned the tea on the counter, and moved to the living room. “That man- Frank Silverio- we found him. And his mistress.” 

Dana’s eyes widened. “Really? That’s amazing!” 

“He… wouldn’t open up to me, mostly because Krycek kept undermining me. But he agreed to give us the names of other speakeasy owners. One big one, in particular. And there’s a bust happening in a few nights. And after it does, I think I’ll be able to snoop around, maybe see what Frank’s really hiding. Or take him in formally and get him to confess.” 

She smiled encouragingly. 

“But… he said that the way to get other locations of clubs and bars was to have someone who… isn’t a cop talk to him.” 

She stared at him confused, but then rolled her eyes. “You mean, a woman.” 

“Yeah. I fought against it, I swear but-“ 

She stopped him with a touch of her hand. “I’ll do it.” 

“You don’t have to.” 

“Well, I’m not thrilled about it, but it’s important to you. And I agree that its probably better I do it than, say, your partner. At the very least, you’ll know you can trust me to not sell you out.” 

He took a deep breath. “Thank you.” 

“I do think it’s weird timing, though.” 

“What is?” 

“What, you just happen to run into them, mere days after your captain told you to focus on finding them? And when you do, they’re fully ready to make an amicable deal with you?” 

“Such a skeptic.” 

“It’s weird, though.” She looked at him, as if confused as to why he didn’t think so.

“It is. And I promise, you won’t be in any danger if something goes wrong. But I’m just glad we found him. I feel like we have a break, finally.” She nodded in agreement, and they sat in silence for a few minutes.

“You want anything to eat while you’re here? I might have some cheese that isn’t completely molded over.” 

She laughed. “No, thank you.” 

“I can walk you back if you’d like.” 

She shrugged. “I got an extra half hour.” 

“We could play cards. Although something tells me you cheat.” 

She smacked his shoulder, but moved to sit in the chair across from him. “Deal it.” 

————————————————

Their walk back to the hospital was uneventful. Storm clouds had covered the sky during their absence, and cast dark shadows over the street. 

“So, I’ll pick you up at seven, on the twenty-seventh,” he said. “What are you going to tell your mother?” 

“That a potential suitor is taking me somewhere. Maybe dancing.” She said it so casual. 

“A potential suitor?” he asked, unable to hide his teasing grin. Unable to hide the blush that was overtaking his cheeks. 

“It’ll at least get her off my back. And explain why I’m going out at night with a strange man.” Was her arm brushing against his on purpose or was that just him?

“Well, I’m honored just to pretend to be your suitor.” He bit his tongue, hard, at how stupid that felt to say. 

“If it were up to me,” she started, her voice fading out as she second guessed her thought. 

“If it were up to you?” he asked, hoping desperately that she’d finish the thought the way he was hoping. Hoping that if it were up to her, it wouldn’t be pretend. 

She turned left suddenly, taking an empty alleyway shortcut that they’d never taken before. 

“Mulder,” she said, quietly. “I don’t hate the idea of having you as my caller.”

His heart skipped a beat, but before he could answer she covered her tracks. 

“In this situation… for the case.” 

“Right, of course,” he  managed. 

They left the alley, turning right to rejoin the masses swirling masses. 

“I’ll see you later,” he said, hoping in the next few hours he’d get up the guts to tell her how he really felt. 

“Later,” she confirmed, not even looking at him as she raced up the stairs into the building. 

————————————————

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Eight. 

October 27, 1920. 

“Where are you going?” Maggie asked, yet again, hoping for a more specific answer this time. 

Dana winced as Melissa pulled the curlers out of her hair, and started pinning her short locks back. 

“Just out. Dancing.” 

“With who?” 

“A man I met at the hospital.” 

Maggie opened her mouth to protest, but watched as her daughter smiled at her reflection in the mirror. That look. It was excitement, she knew it for sure. It had been sorely missing from her daughter’s face for ages. And so despite all common reason, about letting her child go out at night with a caller she’d never met, Maggie bit her tongue. 

“Be careful,” she said, reaching over to lovingly brush Dana’s shoulder. 

“I will.” 

“Don’t be back too late, and don’t kiss him good night, no matter how charming.” 

Melissa chuckled, and put the last pin in her hair. 

“You look beautiful, Day,” she said. 

Dana turned in her chair, and stood. “I forgot how tight this waist is. And how low the neck.” She pulled at it, feeling overexposed, but her sister batted her hand away.

Her mother reached over and straightened a wrinkle on the fabric. “It’s worth it, though. I can’t very well have you out in one of Melissa’s dresses.” 

Missy’s mouth dropped. “What’s wrong with my dresses?” 

“You look like one of those damn flapper girls. With the high skirts and thin material- it’s not proper.” 

Before Melissa could retaliate, a knock came to the door, and Dana rushed for her coat. 

“I’ll be back later,” she said, opening and shutting the door before her family could interrogate her date for the night. They waited a beat, hearing their footsteps fade from the porch, before rushing to the window to get a look.

“He’s handsome,” Maggie said, watching her daughter walk down the street, arm in arm with a tall, lanky man. 

“I suppose so.” Missy stared over her shoulder out the window. “He’s a really kind man. Dana really likes him.” 

She smiled, watching her daughter’s face light up as she and him spoke. “I’m glad.”

————————————————

She was a vision dressed in navy blue. 

A fraction of a second after his fist left the doorframe, she appeared, rushing out of the house so fast she almost slammed into him. 

“We need to go,” she said, grabbing his arm and pulling him quickly towards the garden gate. 

He glanced over her head for a second, just in time to see her mother and sister peering out the window at them. 

“I’m guessing she doesn’t approve,” he said, as she moved to carry her coat in the left arm in order to link her right with his. 

“She’s wary of our outing,” she said, choosing her words carefully, as though Maggie could hear them from yards away. “A lot more curious than I had anticipated.” 

“Curious?” 

“Of you. Of my being with you. Of where we’re going and for how long, and what we’ll do there.” 

She glanced up and they shared a smile. He realized for the first time, staring down at her, that she’d dressed up for the occasion. Her lips were redder, her hair was curled. He wasn’t even going to focus on the dress she was wearing, knowing that if he did, their case would be doomed. 

“You look really beautiful,” he said. 

She smiled at the ground, then back up to him. “I’m undercover, Detective Mulder.” 

“And you wouldn’t be wearing that if you weren’t?” 

She held his arm tighter. “If I weren’t on this case? I’d be back at home in a nightgown rereading one of your books.” 

He fought the urge to argue that she’d be just as beautiful in that situation as this. It wasn’t the time or the place, although with every one of their interactions, he felt them getting closer and closer to being there. 

“Are you nervous?” he asked, leading her down the darkened sidewalks. 

“A little.”

“I’ll be there the whole time,” he promised. “You just have to talk with him, you don’t have to go anywhere. And I’ll step in if you need me for anything. Anything at all.” 

She smiled gratefully. “I’ll be fine.” 

They were silent for most of the journey. Nearly a block away, they met Krycek under a streetlight, and briefly went over the plan yet again, before entering the club. 

“I’ll wait by the door,” Krycek volunteered, and Mulder and Dana found a seat at the bar. 

“Is it all set?” he asked Silverio, as he approached them with drinks. 

“He’ll be here.” He glanced at Dana. “Glad you took my advice and brought someone.”

Unconsciously, Mulder reached under the bar and took her hand, squeezing it once for reassurance. 

“You alright?” he asked, again. 

“Yeah,” she said, quietly. 

“If you don’t want to do this, you don’t have to,” he said. “We can go somewhere else. Krycek and I will figure it out- we’ll come back another night. If you don’t want to-“

“I do. It’s important.” 

He swallowed hard, watching her nervously, frantically, tuck a short strand of hair behind her ear, over and over again as it slipped from it’s place.

“Say the word, and we can go somewhere else. Do something fun, just you and me. We could go dancing for real.” 

“I’m okay,” she said. “I want to.” 

He nodded, and gave her a grateful smile. “You’re incredible.” 

She blushed, realizing that their hands were still touching. She moved hers to link her fingers with his. 

“Are you sure I’ll be out of harm?” she asked, just wanting the reassurance one more time. 

He swallowed hard. Logically, he knew that she would be. He’d be less than twenty feet away the whole time. He was armed. And even more than that, he’d die before he let anything happen to her. But this was Dana. And there was always a fear in the back of his mind of something happening, since the very beginning, when he first started loving her. He reached out to tuck that stubborn strand of hair behind her ear, trying as hard as he could to summon the confidence she needed. 

“Detective Mulder?” she asked, getting his attention back. “This is safe?” 

He nodded, and began going over the safety measures, trying to assure her, as well as himself, that she would be alright. 

He’d be in the washroom. Krycek was at the door. 

“I don’t know about that man. He could be a mole or a spy.” Her doubts were the same as his, but one of them had to be confident. 

“Such a skeptic,” he said, hoping she could hear the love in his voice for that quality of hers. 

“What can I say?” God her eyes were gorgeous. 

He said something else, reassured her again, but he couldn’t even hear what he was saying. She would be fine, he told himself. Again and again. She’d be fine. 

They went over the plan one more time. Over why they couldn’t have more back up. Over the role he was playing. 

“Don’t let it go to your head, Mr. Mulder. We are conducting an investigation.” Her flirty tone was almost inaudible as his attention turned suddenly. 

Across the bar, Silverio was staring at the door. At a man who’d just entered. If he’d turned to see who it was even a second later, Mulder would have caught the look of surprise and confusion in Silverio’s eye, perhaps in time to call the operation off. But he turned too fast. And looked to see a man in a pinstripe suit, glare long and hard at the bar owner, an unspoken tension between them indecipherable to an onlooker. 

“What?” Dana asked. “Nothing to say to that?” 

Mulder broke his gaze as the man took a seat at the far end of the bar. She was beautiful, he thought again, with her raised eyebrow and little smirk. With her jutted chin in defiance to his flirtation. With her loyalty. Her courage to undertake this dangerous task for him. She was beautiful. All of her. Her body, her mind, her entire existence. And everything around her was beautiful simply for the fact that it existed at the same time as she. 

“I’d ask to pursue you yet again, Ms. Scully,” he said, more honestly than he’d ever been in his life. “But it looks like our man is here.” 

For a second, he hoped she’d get nervous. That cold feet would overtake her, and she’d get that look in her eye. That she’d give him permission to call it off, to whisk her out of there. 

But that wouldn’t have been her. 

And instead, she flipped open her compact, and muttered: “Oh, shit.” 

“You look beautiful,” he assured her. 

And before he could stop himself, he leaned down to kiss her cheek, her soft skin leaving a burn mark on his lips. When he pulled away, there was that smirk again. The teasing smile. 

“What?” he said, nervously. “We’re supposed to be married.” 

“Well, go before he sees you.” She shoved him, hand just above his hip, towards the bathroom. 

And knowing that if he turned back to look at her again, it would blow their cover that it was just a normal date night, he moved quickly towards the bathroom, straining his ears to hear their conversation. 

“Hi,” she said, in a soft, seductive voice. 

“Hello. Who might you be?” 

Mulder shut the door to the washroom, leaving just a crack, and turned to stare through it at her. At the scene. Waiting to be needed again. 

“You really shouldn’t have trusted a criminal,” a voice behind him said. 

He turned in surprise, with barely enough time to register that Krycek was behind him, wielding his baton like a baseball bat, before he was struck in the face. 

And everything went black.

————————————————

With Mulder unconscious on the floor, Krycek stepped over his body, and left the room. Across the bar, he nodded at Barry. Regardless of his status in the organization, they needed to finish the operation. 

He left just before Barry dragged Dana out of the bar, making his way straight to the headquarters. He’d need to get underground and fast, that was his order, but first, he had to set the record straight about who was doing the Scully hit. With Barry and Sullivan out, he could very well be in line for a promotion, and he wasn’t going to miss his chance. 

————————————————

“Maybe we shouldn’t go,” Dana stammered, stumbling on the sidewalk. Her hand covered Barry’s in an attempt to pry his death grip off her arm. 

“What? You don’t want to go suddenly?” He looked back at her, for a second, almost daring her to break her cover story. 

“My husband-“ she started, thinking of Mulder and what must have happened for him to not return from the washroom. But she swallowed her fear, and stood up straighter, remembering why she was doing this. For him. For this case. For the speakeasy bust, and for the crimes that he was trying to bring to justice. And suddenly, backing down was the last thing she wanted to do. 

For a second, she glanced over her shoulder, back at the stairwell to that basement speakeasy. Hoping for a moment that he’d come looking for them. That she wouldn’t do this alone. But it was empty, and he never appeared. 

“I was just concerned he’d be looking for me,” she said. 

“Well, you can relax. I ain’t gonna kill you.” Her pulse began racing further at his words, but he continued to pull her through the city. “Someone else might, I’m not gonna promise you it won’t happen. But I gotta be somewhere, and I’d rather you come with me, alive. If they’re gonna take out anyone, it’s not going to be me.” 

Her stomach dropped, as she came to the realization that this man was not a speakeasy magnate. In fact, he was something far more dangerous, and as he dragged her away, with an iron grip, she glanced back in the direction of the club, hoping to hear the familiar footsteps of Mulder running after them. 

But that sound never came. 

————————————————

End of Part Two. 

Chapter Text

Part Three. 

Chapter Twenty-Nine. 

October 27th, 1920.

She felt nothing but terror as Barry dragged her through the streets. 

“Maybe its better for me to just go home,” she said, speaking nervously as his grip kept getting tighter and tighter on her arm. 

“Like hell you’re going home. And I will gag you if you keep talking like that,” he growled.

She swallowed hard, practically running so as to keep up with him. To keep herself from being dragged like a sack of potatoes. 

They reached the warehouse eventually, the rain that had held off just beginning to drizzle as he pulled her inside. 

“What?” she started, stumbling back at the sight. 

“Let’s go.” Barry pulled her arm, and they made their way through the rows and rows of cots, all filled, all peacefully asleep. 

They passed a series of locked doors on the opposite end of the warehouse, before finding an entrance to a creaky old staircase. And as he pulled her up through the levels, fear became a brand new emotion. And as they reached their level, she started twisting her arm to the side, hoping on the unlikely chance she could break free of his grip. 

But he just turned to her, and smiled his terrifying grin. “Oh, you’re not getting away, little miss.” 

And he forced open a door, and shoved her into the sole chair that was centered in the space. 

“Wha-“ she started, feeling cold spread through her body, as Barry began strapping her to it. 

“Sit still,” he said, rising and moving towards the counter. “This is just going to make you sleepy while I go take care of some business.” 

“No, stop-“ she protested, but felt the pinch of a needle in her neck, and within seconds, everything went white. 

——————————————————–

Mulder awoke to the pungent smell of the bathroom grime, and the face of his captain leaning over him. 

“Mulder. Are you alright?” Skinner shook his shoulder a few times until he mumbled a groggy “yeah”. 

“What happened?” he asked, sitting up with his boss’s help. 

“You were hit pretty hard.” 

Mulder reached up and touched the stinging bruise on the side of his head. 

“Where am I?” 

“The speakeasy you and Krycek were busting. He’s gone, by the way. The witnesses who called me didn’t see where he went.” 

Suddenly, the night came flooding back to him, and despite the searing pain in his head, he stumbled onto his feet, and rushed towards the door. 

The bar was empty, save for the few disgruntled police officers that were chatting in the corner. 

“Dana?” he asked, either in the hopes of summoning her or hearing about her whereabouts. 

“She’s gone,” Skinner said. “Witnesses saw her being dragged out by the pinstripe man. We did send officers to walk the surrounding blocks, knock on a couple doors but it’s looking like a dead end. She’s gone.” 

Mulder felt nausea rise in his throat. 

“We’ll find her. And Krycek. But we need to have patience. And focus on finding Silverio again. He disappeared too, and he’s our top priority.” 

Mulder felt his blood turn to fire. “What? He’s the priority?” 

Skinner opened his mouth to defend his statement, but he wasn’t about to let him. “A woman is missing. A nurse, and a damn good one. She’s a civilian. You know? Those people we were sworn to protect. We need to find her first. She is our top priority.” 

“And Silverio could lead us to her. Likely she’s being held hostage, and if we give in, then we could lose every lead we’ve gotten. This is your case, Mulder. I would have thought you would have more attachment to its success.” 

He ground his jaw. “Not if it means her life.” 

Skinner glared at him, long and hard. “I have to go brief the new officers that just arrived.” 

Mulder stared at him as he walked away, hoping he could set his boss’ coat on fire by just picturing it. But like a beacon started shining, his attention was redirected. Folded neatly, untouched, over her barstool, Dana’s coat lay waiting for him to find it. 

He was drawn to it, and moved towards it like he was floating. 

But just before he could touch it, hold it, bring it to his face just once to inhale her perfume, he heard a voice behind him. 

“Fox?” 

He turned, and found Melissa Scully staring at him, with a stern jaw and a glare in her eye to rival Skinner’s. 

“Ms. Scully,” he said, reaching out a hand to shake hers. It was ignored. 

“What happened?” she asked, voice full of anger. 

“Your sister was helping with my case, and she got kidnapped, but we’ll find her. I’ll find her-“ 

“No,” Melissa said. “What the hell had to occur that you let this happen. That you let my sister be taken.” 

He felt that nausea bubbling back up. “I’m sorry,” he rasped. “I am. My partner, he betrayed us. He hit me hard, in the head, and I lost consciousness. I’m sorry.” He could barely look her in the eye. 

“Oh you’re sorry?” she roared, taking a step closer. 

“Missy?” someone asked behind her, and she whipped around, anger dissipating quickly. “Mother.” 

“I just talked to the captain about Dana and he says that they’re looking for her as we speak-“ Maggie’s voice faded when she saw who her daughter was talking to. “You were her date-“ 

“Yeah,” he said, his chest falling as he saw rage building in her as well. 

“You’re the one who got her taken. You did this to her- I knew she shouldn’t have gone out-“ 

“Mother.” Melissa stepped in her mom’s path, hands reaching out to grip her mother’s arms. 

“Missy, it’s his fault. He never should have gotten her involved with this.” 

“Don’t blame him,” she said, making a dramatic turn to start defending him. “Dana chose to come with him, she wasn’t forced or coerced. She was a functioning person, and you cannot blame him for her being here tonight.” 

Maggie glared at him over her daughter’s shoulder, but backed away. “I’m wiring Bill. If the police can’t find her, I’m sure the Navy can send someone to do it for them.” 

With her mother gone, Melissa turned back to Mulder. 

“Thank you for defending me,” he mumbled. 

“I didn’t. I defended Dana. You’re on your own. And you had better find her.” 

And with a searing glare, Missy turned and strode back to her mother. 

He was left feeling like the pieces he’d been broken into were shattered more, and he fell back onto the stool he’d sat on mere hours before. The stool where he’d kissed her cheek for the last time. Where she’d flirted with him. 

He reached over, and drew her coat to his chest, holding it carefully as though just a touch of his hand might make it fall to pieces. 

“Mulder,” Skinner said. “Go home.” 

He glanced over his shoulder at his boss, who couldn’t even bring himself to look at him. 

“No, I need to stay. Help look for evidence. Help find her.” 

“We turned this bar upside down, and there’s nothing. There’s an office in the back that we’re going through with a fine toothed comb, but it’s a full house. We don’t need you, and you definitely don’t need to be here. Go home. Rest that wound. We’ll let you know if we find anything.” 

He hung his head, and nodded, too weak to fight it. His head throbbed, and chest hurt worse. 

Holding her coat close, he made his way out of the bar, and back towards his apartment, praying that by some miracle, he’d stumble across her along the way. 

——————————————————–

“That bastard,” Maggie grumbled, kicking a rock with her slippered foot. “Taking her out. Putting her in danger.” 

“Dana knew the risks. She went voluntarily, he didn’t talk her into anything.” Missy glared at her mother, knowing she couldn’t see it in the dark. The way she always made Dana out to be  some mindless automaton who couldn’t make her own decisions. 

“Why the hell would she be this thick? It was a police investigation. She’s not a police officer. If she had thought it through, maybe she wouldn’t have been abandoned by that bastard. And maybe she’d still be here.” 

“She did think it through,” Melissa said, the anger she’d directed at Mulder growing in her chest. “She wanted to do this.” 

“Why? Why would she want to be put in danger like that when she could have just gone dancing, safely, with a perfectly nice boy. She turned down that sweet Andrew Sullivan because she’s too ‘busy’, but, of course, has plenty of time to be kidnapped thanks to a dangerous officer. Why the hell did she do this? What was she thinking?” 

“She did it because she loves him.” She went quiet for a second, having said that much louder than she’d intended. 

Maggie went silent for a moment as well, turning her daughter’s words over in her head. “No, she’s not.” 

“She is, though. And he loves her too.” 

“If he loved her, he would have taken her somewhere safe for their date. Besides, they barely know each other.” 

“But they do. They’ve known each other almost three years. There’s a reason she turned down that date with Andrew, and it’s not just because he’s an asshole. It’s because of him. And she knew how important this was to him. And that’s why she did it. Not because she’s stupid. Not because she was persuaded by a dangerous guy. Because she wanted to help out a man who loves her and who would do anything for her. And you have got to stop disrespecting her because you just don’t understand it.” 

With her point made, Missy stormed away, no longer wanting to discuss this with her mother. And so, she left her in the dust to dwell on what she’d said. 

——————————————————–

Early. October 28th, 1920. 

When he made it to his apartment, he fumbled around in the dark for matches, and quickly lit an oil lamp. Despite the room now bathed in a warm, yellow light, he felt hollow and empty. Everything was cold to the touch, himself included. Aimlessly, he wandered around the place, unsure of what to do. He felt undeserving of sleep, of water, of food. And books had no meaning without him having someone to discuss them with. 

The pair of trousers he’d hung over the chair had a smear of paint on them- the same white as the X on the window. Realizing for the first time in four days how at home she’d felt in his apartment, he fell onto the sofa, and held the coat close to his nose. Days before, with paint on her finger, she’d known that if it were him with paint on his fingers, he would have foregone the handkerchief and just wiped the paint on anything within reach. And he wouldn’t have cared. She’d done what he would have done. She made herself at home in his home. And so despite the self-loathing voice in his head, telling him to suffer, he curled into the couch holding her coat close, and letting himself drift to sleep, knowing that if she was in his position, she would have done just that. It was the logical thing to do. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirty.

November 10, 1920. 

She’d been gone two weeks. 

Two weeks to the day. 

He’d gone back to the speakeasy the morning after, Dana’s coat safely secured in his briefcase, but there was nothing to find. They were three steps ahead of him the whole time, and now she was gone. All that was left were half a dozen overturned tables and, if he concentrated, the leftover stench of Alex Krycek’s hair oil. 

“Why would they want her?” he asked, as Skinner stepped in the room behind him. 

“We don’t know. The precinct hasn’t been contacted with a ransom, and there… there haven’t been any reports of a body.” 

He’d squeezed his eyes shut, hoping for a moment that this was all a dream. But when he opened them, it was all still there, and he was still living this nightmare. 

Two weeks later, it hadn’t gotten much better. 

Skinner left the precinct for the day, practically dragging Mulder out by the ear, and very visibly locking the doors behind them so he couldn’t get back in. 

Aimlessly, he made his way towards his apartment, with nowhere else to go. 

“About time you showed up,” someone said, as he made his way down the apartment building hallway. 

He looked up in surprise, finding his sister leaning against his apartment door. 

“Sam?” 

“Half the building’s come and gone since I’ve gotten here!” 

For the first time in two weeks, exactly, on the dot, he cracked a smile. 

Samantha strode towards him, standing on her toes to hug him. 

“What are you doing here?” 

She pulled away and shrugged. “Your last letter seemed dire, and I was worried. Are you gonna let me in, or am I going to have to freeze to death in this hallway.” 

Mulder chuckled, and reached for his key. 

“I can’t believe our father let you come visit me. Alone.” 

Samantha sighed, and dropped her coat in the doorway, kicking off her heels as she went. “‘Let’ is a strong word.” 

He stepped over her coat and came to a halt. “Tell me you didn’t just leave a note and hop on the next train out of town.” 

She grinned at him, wide and maniacal. “You know me so well.” 

He sighed, already dreading the telegram he was going to get, but expected no less from his sister. 

“You hungry? I don’t have a lot here, but I could find something for you if you like.” 

Sam shrugged, and started fiddling with the knob on his brand new radio. “Mrs. Arsenault down the hall gave me soup a little while ago. I could use some tea, though.” 

He nodded and reached for the kettle, but in that second, he froze. In the back of his head, he knew it wasn’t true, but for a second, more light started spilling through the living room windows, and the shuffling in the living room came not from his sister, but from Dana, dressed in her nurses uniform, making herself at home. 

“Fox?” Sam said, walking hesitantly towards him. “You okay?” 

He broke out of his trance, and turned to face her, eyes filling with tears. 

“The woman who disappeared wasn’t just your coworker, was she?” 

He took a deep breath to steady himself. 

“The nurse who tended to me when I was sick…” he began. “We became friends. And the last few months, we’ve been seeing each other from time to time. And when we needed someone to act as bait, she willingly did it, and I shouldn’t have asked her to do it.” He took a shallow, wheezing breath. “It’s my fault, Sam. It’s my fault she’s gone, and it’s my fault we haven’t gotten her back yet. My old partner disappeared right when she did. It was a trap, and our only leads vanished with her. I was knocked unconscious because I wasn’t careful enough and now-“ 

His sister awkwardly hugged his side. “It’s not your fault, Fox.” 

“I should have-“ 

“She sounds great. Smart. You wouldn’t have been so interested in her if she wasn’t.” 

“We were a team, and I let her down.” 

“Exactly. You were a team. You both got screwed over-“ 

“Sam, language.” 

“Sorry Mother. You were a team. You worked together. You were betrayed together. It was neither of your faults, so stop beating yourself up, and put that energy into finding her.” 

He swallowed hard. “Alright.” 

“I’m guessing this nurse is probably working towards escaping too, so between the two of you, you’re bound to get her back.” 

He smiled, again. 

“You wanted tea?” 

——————————————————

The following morning, the precinct was packed with cops. 

“You’re here,” Skinner said, as Mulder fought his way through the hordes of people. “First time in weeks I haven’t found you hunched over on that stoop.” 

“My sister’s in town- what the hell is going on?” 

“There was a break-in,” he said grimly. “Last night, the window to my office was broken.” 

His jaw dropped. “What did they take?” 

Skinner ground his teeth. “You’re not going to like this.” 

“Tell me.” 

“You have to be calm, because this is actually a good thing. We did get a statement from the butcher next door, apparently the ramp he uses to load and unload delivery trucks was out of place, and one of the meat hooks had glass shards on it. And we did find a scrap of cloth on one of the window shards, it seems to match fabric sold down near the docks, but I already sent someone to a seamstress to check.” 

“What was taken?” 

Skinner sighed, his shoulders hunched over further, like a weight was pressing them down. “The pocket knife that was used in the Monroe murder.” 

Mulder stepped back. “You think it was the murderer?” 

“I don’t know. It’s likely. But considering how much evidence and documents they left, clearly whoever stole it had a specific reason to. Either there was something about it they didn’t want us to find, or…” 

“Or?” 

“Or they needed to use it again.” 

Mulder tried to steady his breath, and walked towards the door. 

“Where are you going?” Skinner asked. 

“I have to take a walk,” he mumbled, and pushed through the crowds towards the exit. 

——————————————————

How he ended up there, he’d never understand. Was it muscle memory, or a subconscious desire for comfort and familiarity, but either way he ended up outside Dana’s house, just outside the gate. He paused there a moment, knowing no one was likely at home at this hour of the morning. The mother would likely be running errands. Missy at work, as Dana had mentioned before. 

He stared up at the window on the right, almost daring the light to come on, and her frantic silhouette would appear, tossing skirts left and right to find the right one, because she’d missed the alarm for the third time that week. 

But no silhouette showed, and he pulled himself away from the gate. 

“Fox?” 

He turned, like a child caught snooping in their parent’s closet. 

“What are you doing?” 

Missy stood barefoot on the stoop, dressed in a much fancier dress than he would have ever thought she owned. 

“I have an update,” he said, grasping for an excuse. 

Melissa’s expression turned from anger to concern. “A good one or a bad one?” 

“Do you want to hear it either way?” 

She tiptoed to the gate, feet barely touching the walkway. “Do you want to be decked?” 

He took an unconscious step back. “It’s relatively good news, but it sounds like bad news.” 

Her arms crossed over her chest. 

“There was a murder, several weeks ago, involving the same people that took Dana. The weapon used was stolen last night from our precinct, and we think this could be a lead in the investigation. Clearly it was important, and if we figure out what was so important about it, we may be able to track them down.”  

Melissa furrowed her eyebrows and frowned. “That really doesn’t seem like much of a lead. There’s got to be more to it than just that, or you wouldn’t have come all the way over here.” 

Before he could respond, a tall, auburn haired man poked his head out of the house. “Melissa?” 

She groaned. 

“Who is that you’re talking to?” 

“No one,” she screamed back. 

The man took a step out, into view. “Melissa, you are not married. You shouldn’t be talking to strange men on the sidewalk. 

“Bite-“ she started, but Mulder felt the need to chime in. 

“Sir, I’m a detective on her sister’s case. I was just reassuring her that it is our top priority to find Dana and we are searching every possible lead, no matter how little it seems.” 

The man glared at him for a second, then stomped inside. 

“Oh gosh, he’s really speechless, isn’t he?” she mumbled under her breath. 

“Who was that?” 

“Bill. My- our- older brother.” 

“He’s the navy captain, right?” 

Melissa forced back a smirk. “You really do know Dana well, don’t you?” 

He shrugged. 

With the tip of her fingers, Melissa subtly batted the latch on the gate aside, and let it swing open with the wind. 

“I really should go, I don’t know why I came,” he said, as she turned her back to him. 

“You’re coming in. Lunch is almost ready, and I think you and Bill will be entertaining. And you at least owe me that.” 

Being left without much of a choice, Mulder awkwardly passed through the gate, and shut it tightly behind him. 

——————————————————

By the time each one of their plates were scraped clean, and lunch had come to an informal, awkward end, Fox Mulder knew three, crucial, things. First, Dana wasn’t lying when she said her mother’s potatoes were the best in the world. Second, that Bill Jr., if it not for his wife, and child on the way, would have been the perfect match for Skinner, in another lifetime. And third, and perhaps the most pressing matter, the man who stabbed Monroe was an infantry man in The War. 

Upon following Melissa through the threshold, he was immediately confronted by a cold, long glare from Bill. 

“I thought you said he was just here to update us,” he snarled. 

“The kind officer is joining us for lunch, to properly acquaint us with the case.” 

She glanced back at Mulder, who had stalled in the doorway, unsure of what to do. 

“You can help me set the table,” she said, answering a question he hadn’t asked. “Bill, be on good behavior.” 

In the kitchen, Maggie was bustling around, tossing spices and ingredients together in a hurry. 

“Missy would you finish your brother’s coffee, and bring it to him?” Maggie asked, not looking up from her dish. 

“So, the hour train ride, and four block walk, rendered him too exhausted to walk ten feet?” 

“Melissa. I swear-“ Steam was practically coming out of her mother’s ears when she turned and found Mulder standing in the kitchen doorway. 

“What is he doing here?” 

Missy glanced back at him. “He’s here for lunch. He is going to update us about the case.” 

Her mother opened and shut her mouth, like she was weighing rightful anger with proper manners. Eventually, her emotions came to a settlement, and she jutted her chin towards a cabinet. 

“Plates and cutlery are in there, make yourself useful.” 

And grateful for the purpose, he immediately flung open the cabinet and began his task. 

——————————————————

The first few minutes of lunch were quiet, tension draped over the table like a tablecloth. 

“So, about the case?” Bill asked, stabbing his chicken like it was a threat. 

“We may have a link between an old piece of evidence and the current case. It could help us gather a proper list of suspects.” 

“That’s something,” Melissa offered in his defense. 

“What’s the evidence?” Bill asked, ripping his food apart. 

“A pocket knife, used in a murder that was connected to a suspect in the case that Dana was helping me solve.” 

He got three long glares. 

“What kind of pocket knife was it?” 

“What?” 

Bill chewed a bite of his food, but continued to speak. “Like what did it look like?” 

“Wooden handle, steel blade. There was an inscription along the side, but we haven’t been able to figure out what it was, because it was so faded.” 

“Like this?” he fumbled in his breast pocket, and pulled out a knife, sliding it across the table. 

“Bill!” Maggie exclaimed. “You can’t bring a knife to the dinner table.” 

Mulder turned it over in his hand, the weight, size, and style of it almost the same. 

“Is it the same one?” he asked. 

“The color’s too dark, and the inscription was carved into the handle, not on an attached plate. But other than that, yes, it’s the same.” 

Bill finally took a moment to swallow his food before answering. “You’re looking for an infantry man.” 

“What?” 

“The knife. It belonged to someone in the infantry. They have knives like that. My guess is that if you were able to make out the inscription, you’d know that.” 

Mulder handed the knife back. “Thanks.” 

“I gotta buddy coming by later. He was in the infantry and could show you his, if you’d like to check.” 

“That would be great,” he said. 

“Anything to help the case.” 

“What branch of service were you in, Fox?” Maggie asked, for the first time showing a brief interest in him. 

He glanced at her son, in full Naval uniform, and the sparkling, pin covered coat framed on the wall, and wasn’t sure how to break the news. “I wasn’t. I never fought.” 

“You’re barely younger than Bill, though. Surely, it couldn’t have been an age issue.” 

He hesitated. “No, it wasn’t. I just wasn’t interested in it. My father wanted me to go, but I was more interested in university than fighting. Bit of a coward that way…” he chuckled, alone, glancing around the table to see the other three agreed with that assessment. 

They sat in silence for what felt like an eternity, the clock on the mantle ticking slowly. 

“How’s Sarah?” Maggie asked her son. 

“Well. She sends her love, but with her stomach growing more and more every day, she didn’t want to make the commute.” 

“That’s so sweet. I do hope to come visit before the baby comes, and before your leave is up.” 

“She’d love that.” Bill poked at the remnants of his lunch as the conversation came to another halt. 

Just as Melissa was about to say something, a knock came to the door, and Bill rushed up to get it. “I got it. It’s probably Andrew, anyway.” 

“It’s Andrew that’s coming?” Missy hissed at Maggie. 

“Yes. He’s a dear friend of Bill’s, so be nice.” Her mother rose to greet their guest as well. 

“Andrew? The man who tried to court Dana?” he asked. 

Melissa was taken aback, once again, by his thorough knowledge of her sister’s life, but nodded. “Same one. But I think ‘tried’ is a strong word. He barely got two words in before she was rejecting him.” 

She rose, leaving him with that thought, and the privacy to smile at it. 

“So good to see you.” 

“You too.” The two men greeted each other, and Andrew gave a hug to Maggie and a nod to Missy. 

“And who’s this?” He stared at Mulder, an icy chill to his gaze. 

“Fox Mulder,” he said, extending his hand. 

“Nice to meet you.” 

“Mr. Mulder is a detective on Dana’s case. He was just filling us in.” 

“Oh, I am sorry about that. I just heard about her.” 

“Thank you,” Bill said. “You could actually be useful, though. Mr. Mulder was just telling us that there is a suspect weapon that they’re looking for, and it appeared to be an infantry knife. You have your’s on you? I’m sure he’d like to see it.” 

Andrew stared at Mulder as he spoke, the chill never going away. “I’m afraid I left it at home today, sorry buddy.” 

They kept eye contact, as Bill reassured him that it was fine, and clapped him on the back. 

“We were just finishing up lunch, although we do have leftovers if you’d like,” Maggie chirped. 

“That’s alright, Mrs. Scully, I can’t stay long, I’m afraid.” 

“Why?” Mulder asked, more aggressively than he’d intended.   

Andrew stared at him for a moment, almost analyzing his entire being. “I have to get back to work, unfortunately. A snag came up in the… project I’m managing, and I have to deal with it.” 

“So important,” Maggie cooed, reaching up to tap him on the cheek. “I’m sure you’d like to catch up with Bill though, so we should all leave you to it.” She stared pointedly at Mulder, as if trying to force him out of the house with her eyes. 

“I’d better be going,” he said, watching Maggie’s shoulders relax at the thought of having him gone. 

“It was lovely to have you. Do let us know if there are any… concrete developments with the case,” she said, and stepped out of his path to the door.  

And so he left, feeling Andrew Sullivan’s icy glare on his back until he was out of sight of the house. 

Given his recent habits and routines, the logical place for him to have gone would be back to the precinct. But as he walked, he found himself heading back towards his apartment, and too tired to change direction. They could handle the situation without him. And useless and exhausted, he collapsed on the couch, clutching Dana’s coat to his chest, and fell asleep. 

——————————————————

He awoke to a siren that passed just below that cold, broken window. In the doorway, Sam’s shoes and coat had appeared, and he figured she’d gotten in hours before and gone to bed, and he best not wake her. He lay still on the couch, nearly frozen from the November chill, holding Dana’s jacket closer, and feeling the soft material between his fingers, running up and down the length of it. 

One spot, he kept fixating on. A lump on the right hand side, that he kept feeling between his fingers. Probably a clump of the lining balled itself up, or a small coin. It was only after laying there for a few minutes, fixating on all the things it could be, that he realized it could also be a piece of paper. A very specific piece of paper. 

In a blind panic, he raced for the kitchen drawer, ripping it out of its socket and shuffling the papers frantically, looking for scissors. 

He then grabbed the hem of her coat, paused briefly to whisper “I’m sorry” to Dana, wherever she was, and then began hacking into it. 

Stuck between seams in the lining of her coat, was a scrap of paper, folded into itself. 

For a moment, he stopped, holding it in his hand like an archaeologist might hold a groundbreaking discovery, and told himself not to get too excited. For all he knew, it was just a receipt or a scrap of newspaper. 

After three deep breaths, he carefully unfolded the paper. 

This was it. 

The exact thing he’d been looking for. 

The exact person he was looking for. 

His heart nearly stopped, and it all rushed over his head. 

“Fox?” Samantha asked, standing yawning in the doorway. 

“Go back to sleep,” he said, fumbling for an envelope to safely transport the paper in. 

“What are you doing?” 

“Finding Dana.” 

“At two o’clock in the morning?” 

He pulled on his coat, the collar skewed, but he couldn’t care less. In his right hand, he clutched the envelope like it was the most important thing in the world. 

“I have to go. Lock the door behind me. And go to sleep. I won’t be back for a while.” 

Tired, but unwilling to argue, Sam nodded. 

With that, he rushed towards the door, shutting it behind him as he raced out into the night.