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The Whole Truth

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“I have lived with a fragile faith built on the ether of vague memories from an experience that I can neither prove nor explain. 

When I was twelve, my sister was taken from me, taken from our home by a force that I came to believe was extraterrestrial.

This belief sustained me, fueling a quest for truths that were as elusive as the memory itself. 

To believe as passionately as I did was not without sacrifice, but I always accepted the risks… to my career, my reputation, my relationships… to life itself.”

 

-Fox Mulder, “The Blessing Way”

 

 

 

prologue

 

She should have known from the moment she first saw them together that she never stood a chance.

She’d suspected it for a while. Call it women’s intuition. She hadn’t let many men into her life over the years but she knew Fox Mulder well, and from the moment she met that other woman she felt a cold chill wrap around her heart; a sense of inevitability, a sense of doom.

A sense of loss.

Knowing that loss intuitively was very different than witnessing it with her own eyes. She’d once again been losing the man she already lost years ago, piece by piece, ever since he came back into her life. Seeing him with the woman she now knew he truly loved only dug the knife in deeper.

On every other occasion she’d seen them together they tried to hide it; from each other, from themselves. But here and now, alone in this corridor where they thought no one was watching, she watched. And she saw.

She saw Agent Scully’s hand on the back of his neck, her other on his stomach, and she saw Fox’s arm around her waist. She saw her struggling to support his weight; a woman so petite she had to use every ounce of her strength to keep him upright. They were grasping onto one another like actual, physical lifelines. She saw love. She saw devotion.

And she saw trust.

It might not have been simple from the inside, as these things rarely are. But from the outside looking in, she’d never in her life seen two people so wholly immersed in one another.

Her own relationship with Fox had never been clean or simple. But she now realized it had never mattered. She now knew the one thing he’d needed from her above anything else was the one thing he never had: trust. And she could never truly give him that, because no matter what either of them wanted, no matter how much she loved him, everything between them began as a lie and now he could be absolutely certain of that; he’d read her thoughts. He knew the truth. Neither of them had much choice in the matter.

The grainy surveillance photographs in her hands were visual confirmation that her chickens had indeed come home to roost, that everything she’d struggled for over the past decade had been worth nothing in the end, nothing at all. Her own moral compass had been out of whack for so long it was hard for her to know which way was up anymore, what she was doing for herself, for Fox, for the project, for the world. She’d fought for a way out of this existence, but failed. In doing so she had chosen Fox’s fate, all the while believing he’d have chosen the same.

Would Fox have chosen this? She’d hoped it was true; she’d hoped that the truth they’d both sought for so long was worth all of this, worth everything. 

But she’d been wrong. He was worth more to Agent Scully than proof, than truth, than answers... than any of it in the end, and that made all the difference. 

Diana Fowley felt the tight grip of strong fingers curl around her shoulders, forcing her to look at the photographs of Agents Mulder and Scully escaping the facility with the keycard she had provided. Forcing her to feel her heart breaking all over again. 

What she’d done in the end for Fox was right, she knew that much. But it was too late for her now. And she would pay dearly this time.




Chapter 1: The Lie

 

THE MAJESTIC

ALEXANDRIA, VA

DECEMBER 1987

 

She spied him across the bar, two, maybe three drinks deep already. Twirling a long strand of dark brown hair around her finger, she sipped her Manhattan and formulated a plan of attack.

She got up and moved until she was two seats down from him, not glancing in his direction, and asked the bartender for another drink. She didn’t budge until she was certain the young man’s eyes were on her, and that task didn’t take long.

Her head swiveled and she smiled, her eyelids at half-mast. He grinned back. Works every time. Men were so insanely easy to work, it was a fucking marvel women weren’t running the world by now. 

It was the first time she was seeing this one’s face clearly. He looked slightly drunk; his hair was mussed, and his tie was undone. His sleeves were rolled up to the crooks of his elbows and she pegged him as a lonely man who didn’t spend much quality time in the company of women, at least, not much of the kind of quality time she was seeking this evening.

It had been a few weeks since she’d gone out looking for this kind of company, but he seemed to fit the bill nicely. He was a few years younger than her, and she could tell by his eyes that he was intelligent. It was a talent of hers; looking into another person’s eyes told her pretty much everything she wanted to know. 

Most importantly for her purposes, she noticed, he was drop dead gorgeous.

“Hi,” he said.

She smiled. It was her favorite opening line.

“Rough day?” she asked. It felt apropos. 

He turned back to his drink, which was clear, whatever it was, and picked up the glass, shaking it. The ice jangled like an alarm bell.

“You don’t know the half of it,” he replied. 

The bartender set a fresh drink in front of her and she lifted it to her lips. “You’re right, I wouldn’t know. I’m only here for the scenery,” she smirked.

“I’m sorry. This isn’t a ‘thing’ for me, typically. I’m not much of a drinker.” He smiled warmly at her. 

She felt comfortable, she felt safe. She figured he was being honest; he didn’t seem like your typical drunk in a bar.

“Me neither, it’s just… been a day.”

“Oh yeah, you too?” he grinned. “What’s a woman like you doing in…” he trailed off, gesturing around.

“... The nicest bar in the city?” she finished, smirking again.

“Well, yeah,” he chuckled, a bit abashed. It was a nice establishment, nicer than most. Alexandria wasn’t the worst place to go to a bar alone.

“Um… you know. Work… stuff.” She rarely elaborated on her work with men at bars. Quite frankly, most of them were too stupid to understand any of it. The more attractive they were, the less interested they seemed. She was here tonight for only one reason.

“What is it you do?” He looked genuinely interested and she liked him instantly.

“Mostly research,” she lied, smoothly. She wasn’t about to tell a stranger she actually worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “I study criminology, and other social sciences.”

“Criminology?” He looked surprised. “Are you a detective?”

“No,” she answered quickly. It wasn’t technically a lie, but she still felt guilty for misleading him. “Just research. Studying human behaviors and such.”

“That sounds… very interesting.” He narrowed his eyes at her. She believed he meant it.

“Can I buy you another drink?” she asked him.

“A modern woman,” he said. “I like it.”

She grinned and scooted over until she was next to him. She gestured to the bartender, who obliged, setting another glass of whatever it was he was drinking in front of him.

“How about you? What’s made your day rough?” she inquired.

“I’d actually rather not say, if it’s all the same to you,” he said, making a face and holding his glass up. She didn’t mind at all. The less personal stuff she knew about him, the better.

“Fine by me,” she replied and clinked his glass.

“Maybe we can talk some more about you,” he said with a smile that made her melt a little bit. Just a little bit. Everything was going exactly the way she’d planned. The only hiccup was that, for some reason that she couldn’t quite put her finger on, she kind of liked him. Maybe too much.

She grinned, taking a sip of her drink. “If you say so.”

She hooked her toe behind his calf and eyed him, not wanting her intentions to be misunderstood. It was brazen, but so was she. He was attractive and he liked her; she had no reason to look any further tonight. And his own eyes locked onto hers as he wordlessly agreed.

 

***

 

The door flew open in a flurry of activity; her mouth pressed against his and his keys falling to the floor. Pieces of their clothing were discarded one by one and through her mind ran the mantra this is not smart, this is not smart. It had only taken an hour for her to realize how much she had already developed a fondness for him. Even though she was here to do exactly what she came to do, she was worried. 

“I don’t usually bring strangers home with me from bars, I think you should know,” he murmured against her neck. 

She looked past him into his apartment, taking note of what she saw. It appeared to be a typical ‘single guy’ apartment, the difference being the clutter. Most men she let take her back to their places had very few possessions, either a remnant of some bad breakup or a product of limited imagination. This guy’s living room was absolutely full of books, papers, and a plethora of materials that surely crowded every corner of his mind as much as they did the room. It didn’t look unclean, just untidy. She smiled at the knowledge she’d pegged him right: he was smart. And lonely.

“I’m sorry about the mess,” he suddenly said, pulling back and looking around, his hand going to the back of his neck. He glanced behind him. “I wasn’t expecting company. To be honest, I rarely have… company.”

She took his face in her hands, regarding him. She already knew he was attractive, but there was something in his eyes that drew her in deeper. She was entranced by his intellect; she had been all evening. He’d listened to her and responded with genuine curiosity. He wasn’t like the other men she typically met in bars. It was strange and captivating and she knew she should resist but she could not.

It was for this reason she reminded herself tonight had to be about sex. Just about sex.

“I don’t know your name,” he said. “I’m Fox-”

“Don’t,” she shook her head. Names would make it harder. But then she had to ask. “Fox? Really?” For some reason this strange name only made him more attractive to her. “How’d you end up with that one?”

“Wish I knew,” he laughed. 

“I like it,” she admitted. She did. “Fox.”

And with that, he led her into the bedroom. There were no more words. It felt as if they had an unspoken agreement this would be about tonight, about right now. It was the way she wanted it, the way she always preferred it. 

Usually she would leave right afterwards. But this time, after it was over, he pulled her into him close and she let him. She felt oddly compelled to stay next to him all night. It was probably a mistake, as nearly every part of her was telling her, but she didn’t listen.

When she awoke he was lying on the other side of the bed, sprawled comfortably, and she watched him sleep. She wondered if perhaps she’d sold this one short. Their bodies had agreed, and he fascinated her, he aroused her own intellect. She softly ran her hand across his brow and his eyelids twitched. 

This could be something, really something.

But then her thoughts turned back to her work. It was where she defaulted when things got too difficult, too personal. She had her reasons for keeping things simple.

She slid out of the bed and gathered her clothes, putting them on piece by piece, completely unashamed of this particular walk of shame. But before she could reach the front door he appeared in his bedroom doorway.

“Leaving already?”

She sighed. “I have to get home.” He approached her, pulling on some sweatpants.

“Did I… do something to offend you?”

Poor thing, she thought. He hasn’t done this before.

“No, I had a great time,” she replied. “I just… have to go now, okay?”

“Can I at least have your name?” He looked so disappointed, standing there. Hair tousled, his naïveté dangling on the sleeve he wasn’t wearing. She’d feel sorry for him if he weren’t so goddamn attractive. Surely he’d bounce back.

It was harder to leave than she wanted it to be. And for that reason, she opened the door, looked back over her shoulder, and before closing it again she smiled at him, offering just two parting words. 

“Goodbye, Fox.” 








WASHINGTON, D.C. FIELD OFFICE (WFO)

601 4TH ST NW

FEBRUARY 1988

 

Weeks passed, and Diana poured herself into her work. Losing herself in the world of the fantastic was the best escape possible and she felt fortunate she had the freedom to do so. 

She had a degree in psychology and had completed her FBI training, trying her hand in both instructing at Quantico and working in the field. But she soon realized her talents and expertise could be better utilized in other ways; so she became an Intelligence Analyst. 

Luckily, this was the perfect job for her to explore the things that interested her most, namely the human brain and its many mysteries. Generous donors had supplied her the means to do so where many others at the Bureau could not. She was a self-admitted workaholic, and although she enjoyed her work immensely, it was quite stressful and filled her life to the brim.

Time passed and she filled her days with the work and her nights with thoughts of the work. Most of the time these thoughts were undisturbed. But snippets of a one night stand that had ended too abruptly would occasionally resurface. 

After she left that apartment he’d been reduced to two words: the fox. And at the back of her mind there existed a burrow, a small space that was dark and deep and dangerous. It was where the fox lived and held on. 

She thought about that night with him a lot. Too much. She hadn’t been affected this way by a man in a long time and it bothered her that she couldn’t let this one go. 

She told herself it was ridiculous; that even if she had space in her life for a relationship, the timing couldn’t be worse. And it wasn’t as if she could find him again anyway, even if she wanted to. She felt a bit guilty for leaving him alone that morning and she certainly didn’t enjoy thinking of that sad puppy dog face he wore as she walked out the door.

His name rolled over and over again through her mind, however, and she clung to that. Fox. She wondered about him, and wondered if he ever wondered about her. 

One afternoon in her office, as if her thoughts were somehow being projected out into the universe, as if some cosmic force were thrusting destiny into her path, she heard a somewhat familiar voice.

“Well, well, well. I guess this must be fate.” 

She was sitting at her desk reading an article and looked up to find the very last person she expected to see. Fox looked more put together in a suit and tie, and his hair was tidy. He cleaned up nicely. A Bureau badge was attached to his lapel and he wore glasses this time, which she found oddly arousing.

Of course. What were the odds of her finding another FBI agent to sleep with near downtown DC? Higher than she realized, obviously. 

“The fox returns,” she said, trying not to smile. “So you work for the Bureau, too?”

“Afraid so.” He didn’t sound upset she hadn’t told him, just a bit confused.

“Are you stalking me?” she asked him playfully, at least as playful as she got. 

“It’s a lot less romantic than that,” he explained, holding up a case file. Her name was written on a post-it note attached to the front. He gestured to her own badge. “I guess you’re my consult.”

“It really is fate, then,” she said, pleased to see him in spite of herself. 

“How long have you worked at the field office? Shame we’ve never bumped into one another.” 

She shrugged. “I’m a private person,” she said by way of explanation. “And besides, who says we haven’t?”

“I think I’d have remembered you,” he grinned. “You really know how to hurt a man’s self esteem, by the way.” 

She could tell he was joking, that she hadn’t really insulted him when she’d left him that morning. Judging by his behavior, he hadn’t been pining away or anything. It made him even more attractive to her; which was extremely inconvenient.

“I’m sorry about that, it wasn’t anything personal,” she explained quickly. “I just… I don’t do relationships.”

“I get it,” he said. “I’m the same way. Married to the Bureau?”

“You could say that.” 

“It’s okay,” he said coolly. “Anyway, I got what I wanted.”

His comment took her aback. She glared at him, but his eyes softened. “I meant your name,” he clarified, pointing to the post-it note, flashing his thousand watt smile. “Sorry, that came out wrong. Would it be all right if we introduced ourselves properly?”

She sighed, remembering how quickly he’d made her feel at ease in their prior encounter. She felt powerless against his rampant charm. “I’m Diana. Fowley. And you’re Fox .” She enunciated the name slowly, deliberately. She liked the way it felt on her tongue.

“Fox Mulder,” he told her. He extended his hand and she shook it. 

God, he was handsome. It struck her that it was the first time she’d shaken a man’s hand after that same hand had been so intimate with her body. 

“So, that really is your name?” she asked, glancing down at his badge.

“It’s not something I’d lie about.” He wandered slowly around the desk towards her. “Chopin?” he asked, noting the calming piano concerto spouting forth from her cassette deck.

“It helps me concentrate.”

He grinned. “I’ve always been partial to Bach.”

She knew what he was doing. He was trying to have the date they didn’t really have last time. She wanted to put a stop to it but she didn’t. She couldn’t help herself.

“How is it you came to know so much about classical music, Fox?” 

“You can call me Mulder,” he said. “I actually prefer it.”

She didn’t.

“I went to school at Oxford,” he explained. “I used to go… well, my ex used to take me to concerts at the Sheldonian. It grew on me.”

“Handsome and Oxford educated? You’ve got quite the list of credentials.”

He shrugged. “I don't usually put out all my credentials on the first date. But I think you and I are past that.” He grinned at her and his eyes sparkled; the same eyes that had drawn her in last time and she knew she was treading in dangerous waters.

“We aren’t on a date.”

“You’re right, we’re not,” he conceded. “But we could be.”

“So what did you come for a consult on, Fox?” she asked, pushing past his proposition and finally facing him, arms crossed in front of her.

“I’m a profiler with the Behavioral Analysis Unit. We have a convict being re-evaluated for mental competency, due to some claims he’s made that defy explanation.”

“Such as?” She was intrigued. Things that defied explanation were her weakness. Handsome men talking to her about the subject were even better.

“I’m not sure you’d believe me if I told you.”

“Try me,” she smirked.

He shrugged. “Psychic abilities. How does that grab ya?”

She removed her glasses and folded them, placing them in her coat pocket. She leaned back in her chair. “I’ve seen some patients display remarkable aptitude for clairvoyance, precognitive behaviors, even psychokinesis. There have been extensive studies on the phenomenon. While it’s still considered pseudoscience, it seems to be within the realm of possibility.”

Fox gaped at her, a small grin curving up either side of his mouth.

“You… believe in that kind of thing?” he asked.

“I’ve seen too much not to believe it.”

He looked at her in wonder, his eyes bright and engaged, seemingly speechless at her revelation. “I guess they sent me to the right person, then. How do you know about all this stuff?”

She raised an eyebrow at him and he quickly retracted. “I don’t mean- I just mean, they sent me to see an Intelligence Analyst that specializes in psych. I’m just surprised you’re even interested in the paranormal.”

“I have a background in parascience,” she explained. “It’s not something the Bureau utilizes much, but it comes in handy from time to time, I suppose… Whenever all your other avenues have been exhausted.” 

Again, he seemed at a loss for words. “I find the subject fascinating, actually,” he said, that same tone he’d used in the bar creeping back into his voice.

“Do you?” She’d never had a man claim an interest in the paranormal to get into her pants. It was oddly refreshing.

“I do,” he replied. “It isn’t often I run into someone who would entertain such possibilities. It’s… refreshing.”

She interpreted his wording as yet another sign this man was somehow meant to be in her life. She believed in lots of things, including fate, and she was starting to believe in him as well.

“I know what you mean,” she agreed. “It’s frustrating when all the people around you refuse to have an open mind.”

“I was actually just reading about a theory that claims prehistoric evidence of alien astronauts that landed here on earth.” He looked at her expectantly and she wasn’t sure if he was putting her on or not. 

Her eyes widened. “Wow. Do you open with that at parties?”

“Not ones I’m invited back to,” he chuckled. “I was just curious about your thoughts.”

“I’ve read about that, too. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. It’s a long held theory, but…” she trailed off.

“...Wildly unpopular?” he asked.

“Exactly.”

“Sounds right up my alley,” he grinned. 

“Mine too, actually,” she admitted.

She smiled back and they looked at each other for a moment. The attraction she’d felt for him before was only growing exponentially, and it unnerved her. Before the feeling could continue for too long she interrupted it by holding her hand out for his file. “Well. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

He handed her the file and she flipped through it. “Did you do MRIs? Ah,” she removed them and stood, inserting them into the light box on the wall. She scanned them carefully and then pointed to a small section of the scan.

“This is what we look for in these types of cases, here in the temporal lobe,” she explained. “It’s rare, but it seems to be the common denominator. If you look closely, you can actually see faint activity here.”

Fox leaned in next to her so they were shoulder to shoulder. She wanted to feel uncomfortable, a feeling that was comfortable to her, but instead felt overwhelming contentment. Not to mention he smelled incredible.

“And this is… unusual?”

She nodded. “It’s called the God Module. We rarely see any activity at all here. But sometimes there’s a faint hint of something in patients who demonstrate precognition, or advanced intelligence. It sometimes even shows up during extreme religious experiences.”

“Sounds like science fiction to me,” he winked, but she could tell he was being playful. “You’ve actually seen this demonstrated?”

“In a manner of speaking,” she explained. “Many in my field believe great leaps in science and other achievements were accomplished by individuals with access to this part of the brain. Galileo, Newton, Einstein. All corollaries to this theory.” She indicated the scans on the wall. “Looks like your guy could be one of them.” She leaned closer to the scans. “Luther Lee Boggs,” she read. “If you’d like, I could run a psych eval on him for you.”

She wasn’t sure why she’d offered. She told herself it was because this kind of brain activity was rare and she was lucky to have this case dropped into her lap. But the truth was she really just wanted to see the fox again.

His eyes went dark as he looked at her, predatory. It was then she knew for sure she hadn’t had the upper hand this entire time; that she was indeed his prey, and she was completely helpless. She wanted his case and he knew it. He liked her, and she knew it. 

“Have dinner with me,” he said.

She crossed her arms and her eyes narrowed. “This sounds a lot like extortion.”

“It’s dinner.”

“I told you, I don’t do relationships.”

“You mentioned that,” he said. “But you do eat, right?”

She sighed and shook her head, smiling. “You sure are stubborn, aren’t you?”

“Only when it’s important,” he said. “One dinner. Then I’ll take you to see Boggs.”

Fate, he’d said. Maybe it was fate. As a man, he hit every one of the boxes on her checklist. Physically, she had zero complaints. He was interested in her work, not put off by it. And he was definitely interested in her. 

She looked into his eyes, saw them actively changing color as he watched and waited for her answer, and she knew she was done for. Maybe this could be fun. Maybe he was exactly what she needed. Maybe he could help relieve some of the stress she’d been under.

Maybe just for a while.

“Dinner. Okay,” she agreed.












CAPITOL HILL

WASHINGTON, D.C.

JUNE 1988

 

Dinner turned into sex, which turned into more dinners, until several months had passed and Diana Fowley found herself in a relationship with Fox Mulder. 

He was everything she’d ever wanted in a partner, whenever she’d allowed herself to imagine one. And although she’d resigned herself to a life alone, she was walking back her preconceived notions. She wanted to be with him, she enjoyed it. They were so alike in so many ways. Maybe they could actually make this work. 

Snapping herself out of thoughts of the fox, she turned her attention to the task at hand. Today was an important day. She was standing in the hallway of the Capitol building, a stack of all her latest research carefully organized inside her briefcase. 

It had been several months since she’d attended a meeting like this one and she was a bit nervous. She wasn’t certain to whom exactly she’d be presenting today, but her grant was due for review and she hadn’t been this anxious since those first few weeks back at the academy years ago, when she knew she was being observed closely.

The freedom to pursue her interests in parascience hadn’t come easily. It wasn’t the kind of subject discussed much among her peers at work. Fortunately, her research had been noticed by people outside the Bureau who mattered. 

She took the stairwell down to the lower levels of the Capitol, to a hideaway office. It wasn’t the Senator’s typical meeting spot, and she was certain it was for the benefit of whomever they were meeting with today. She’d barely been sitting outside the unmarked office door for one minute when it opened and a woman poked her head out.

“Miss Fowley? The Senator will see you now.”

She stood and entered, a bit apprehensive. The office was much bigger than it had a right to be, considering where it was situated. The ceilings were vaulted and the adornments were breathtaking. 

The Senator got up from his chair and leaned over the desk, extending his hand. “Diana, so nice to see you again.”

“Senator Matheson.” She shook his hand, settling down in the chair across from his desk. Behind him was a man she’d never seen before, leaning against the wall with an inscrutable expression on his face and a cigarette in his hand. 

The senator was tall and his hair was graying. When she’d met him a year ago, there’d been an immediate attraction between them and she thought there might have been some expectation of a quid pro quo. It wasn’t anything she considered beneath her; Diana wasn’t one to dismiss using every attribute available to her to get where she needed to go. But the expectation never became reality. Matheson was genuinely interested in her work, always had been, and the funding she received from him had been gratefully accepted. Without his patronage she’d never have had the ability to pursue her more controversial work through official FBI channels.

“I’ve brought some progress reports for you to see,” she said, fumbling inside her briefcase. “I think you’ll be very pleased. I have some new research focused on not only what we know of the brain, but the parts of the brain we know practically nothing about.”

Ever since she began seeing Fox, the God Module theory had been at the top of her research priority list. They’d begun to see psych patients together that exhibited precognitive behaviors, and while Fox found them interesting on a more visceral level, what she often found most exciting was the potential; not only for her own discoveries but for the great leaps in knowledge they presented. 

Senator Matheson raised his hand to stop her presentation. “No need, I’m sure your work has been exemplary.” He smiled, and she was confused.

“Sir? I’m sorry, I was under the impression that this was an evaluation.”

“No, I’ve asked you here because there’s been… a development.”

Diana looked behind him at the stranger, who was eyeing her carefully as he puffed on his cigarette. Something about him put her off balance. She glanced at Matheson, expecting an introduction that wasn’t forthcoming. 

“What kind of development?”

Matheson sat back into his chair. “There’s a group I’m involved with, scientists and researchers in the private sector who are working on projects… experiments, really, that are pushing the boundaries of modern science, psychology… amazing things, Diana. I’ve told them about you, and they’ve taken an interest in your work.”

Diana was surprised, but intrigued. “Oh?”

Matheson leaned forward in his chair. “They’re willing to double the yearly amount of the grant I’ve offered you.”

Double? Diana was floored. Rarely was her field of expertise taken seriously by anyone. Her work was barely tolerated, much less encouraged. “That’s… that’s wonderful, sir. I’m thrilled to hear that.”

“If you accept, you’ll be under a private exclusivity contract with them for the next five years. It means you’ll get to continue your work while at the Bureau just as you have been, only they will direct your research, fund it, and retain the rights to your findings.”

This concerned Diana, as she worked hard for the discoveries she made. Passing off the credit wasn’t something she was eager to do. But it seemed a small price to pay for her to have the resources to push ahead. “I think that...sounds acceptable.”

“Things will be a bit different, however, Diana,” Matheson continued. “You’ll no longer be reporting to me.”

The man behind Matheson stood and moved behind the senator, placing a hand on his shoulder. He reached around to put his cigarette out in the ashtray, took a long look at Diana, and exited the room. She watched the door close behind him. 

“Who was that?”

Matheson ignored her question. “You’ll be contacted by someone soon. But Diana-” she looked back at her benefactor. “I cannot stress to you enough the importance of the secrecy of this work. It’s highly classified.”

She nodded, even more intrigued. 

“You’ll be able to tell no one, not family, friends. No one.”

She hesitated, knowing keeping this from Fox would be difficult. But their relationship was still relatively new, and this opportunity seemed once in a lifetime. Her curiosity won out. 

“That won’t be a problem, sir,” she promised.  “Can I ask… about the nature of these experiments?” 

“The Company will explain what they can. There are limits to your access, at least for the time being.” He pinned her with a look, that look he got whenever he was speaking wistfully of space exploration or American history. She liked Matheson, they shared a certain simpatico. “But I think doors will be opened for you, Diana. Doors you’ve probably been knocking at for years.”

In spite of the strange nature of this meeting, of this entire situation, she felt a flutter in her stomach that could only be the galvanizing excitement of discovery. It was even better than sex. And few things were.

Matheson stood and extended his hand. “It’s a shame to see you go, Diana, but I’ll rest easy in the knowledge you’re in good hands. I only hope someday I find another protégé as worthwhile as yourself.”

She reached for his hand and shook it. “Thank you, sir, for the opportunity you’ve given me in the first place. I’ll always be grateful.” She turned and walked out of the room, determined her life was about to change, that she could be making a real difference someday.

That night when she saw Fox, he asked her how her day was. She said it was good. 

It didn’t feel like a lie.