“No!”, Mulder shouted, as the gun fired and the bullet inevitably pierced the chest of his partner, Dana Scully. Her lips formed a shocked ‘O’, as she fell to the ground. Right before losing consciousness, she could hear another shot fired, and a distant thud as her shooter’s body hit the pavement.
Fox Mulder sat immobile on the hospital chair. His back was tense and his fists clenched. He was sat on the edge of the chair, as close to his partner as he could get, without actually crawling into bed with her. She was still unconscious, her body small and pale against the hospital sheets. His eyes closed and his mind played back the events that lead to this.
A week ago, Monday morning.
“Morning Scully, you’re late today?”, Mulder acknowledged as his red-headed partner entered their basement office. Dana Scully smiled her typical mysterious Mona Lisa smile and walked over to her desk. “Sorry Mulder, I have this new next door neighbour and he desperately wanted to socialize”, she said. Mulder’s eyebrows shot up and his attention was immediately peaked at the mention of another man in Scully’s life. “Oh”, he said, aware that he had been quiet for an unusually long time. “Soooo, what’s he like?” he asked, not-so-subtly. Scully sighed. “You know, nice, I guess”, she answered non-committedly. Mulder nodded. He sensed she didn’t really want to talk about it, so he dropped the subject, storing the topic in his mind for future exploring. “Want to hear about our new case?” he asked. Scully smiled and walked over, her face switching to business mode. “Tell me”, she answered.
Mulder fired up the slideshow as he told her all about the new case Skinner had given them. Three men were brutally murdered, all single and in their forties, all good, hard-working men. However, the murder-part was speculation, as it wasn’t really clear how these men had died. Cause of death was no mystery, each man had multiple injuries, a massive blow to the head being the most obvious one. The odd thing was, they were all found dead in a public place, surrounded by witnesses, who apparently had seen nothing. It was all happening under their noses in Washington, which made it a priority for the FBI.
Scully carefully listened to her partner’s explanation, ready to find a flaw in his theories, which usually featured aliens, monsters or some form of telepathy. She was therefore very surprised when Mulder ended his presentation without mentioning any of these. Instead, he looked at her and asked: “So, what do you think, Scully?”.
Scully raised one eyebrow at Mulder, the surprise still written on her face. “What, no theories, Mulder? An invisible perpetrator, maybe?”. Mulder grinned, “You’ve been hanging out with me for too long Scully!”. Scully smiled, ‘God knows that was true’, she thought. “Besides,” Mulder continued, “you forgot rule number 1!”. Scully gave him a questioning look. “Trust no one, Scully! Come on, let’s have another conversation with the witnesses”. Scully nodded her approval and the pair left the office.
Mulder and Scully entered her apartment building, both tired and frustrated. They had talked to every witness of all the crime scenes, and had come up with nothing. Of course, they had read the statements in the police report, but Mulder was convinced they had missed something and insisted on tracking down every single person present at the time of the deaths. Mulder still felt very suspicious of the witnesses’ account, but Scully couldn’t understand how all of these people could be lying, especially as it involved different victims and different crime scenes.
They were still arguing about it when they entered Scully’s hallway.
“Well, maybe it was hypnosis?” Mulder said. Scully sighed, she knew Mulder would come up with a supernatural explanation eventually. “Hypnosis?”, she asked skeptically. “Yeah, the killer hypnotized the witnesses in some way, willing them to forget what happened”, he explained. “Mulder,” Scully began, when the door next to hers opened and her new neighbour came out.
He looked surprised to see her with another man, and looked Mulder up and down before speaking. “Oh, hi Dana”, he said, “are you okay?”. His eyes shifted to Mulder again. “Hi Matt”, Scully greeted, “I’m fine, sorry for the noise, this is my partner, Fox Mulder”, she introduced him. “Nice to meet you”, Mulder said. “Yeah, you too”, Matt replied. He paused on Mulder again, then said a friendly goodnight and closed his door.
“So…, that’s the new neighbour?” Mulder asked, the case temporarily blown out of his mind. “Yes, that’s Matt”, Scully said. “Look Mulder, I’m really tired, can we continue this tomorrow? Come over and we’ll look at the reports again together, I’m sure we can come up with an explanation that excludes hypnosis”. Mulder laughed and raised his hands in a gesture of mock surrender. “Fine, I give up. I’ll see you tomorrow, Scully”, he smiled. “Good night, Mulder”, Scully said, her eyes smiling back in gratitude. “Night ma’am”, he answered and turned back around to the elevator.
Next door, Matt Duncan moved his ear from the door, satisfied to know that the dark tall man hadn’t spent the night next door. He turned around and headed to bed.
The next morning, Mulder showed up at Scully’s apartment bright and early, armed with coffee and bagels. He had just knocked on her door, when the door next to her apartment opened and Matt’s head stuck out. “Good morning”, Mulder said cheerily. “Oh,” Matt said, “it’s you again”. Mulder paused, not expecting the rude answer, but then smoothly replied: “Yes, it’s me, again.” He grinned, “I’m here quite a lot”, he admitted. Matt half-exited his apartment and nodded. “So, you’re her partner? What does that mean, exactly?” Mulder wondered what was taking Scully so long. “Um, we work together, at the FBI. Didn’t Scully, I mean, Dana tell you?”. He wondered what they had talked about that morning she was late for work. “Yeah, she told me she’s an FBI agent”, Matt acknowledged. “So you just work together then?” the man continued. Mulder was getting pretty annoyed with their conversation, but he was sure that knocking on the door and begging Scully to open up would be considered to be very impolite. “Well, we are friends”, he answered shortly. Matt nodded and was about to ask another question when Scully finally opened the door, a towel wrapped around her hair and her shirt half-buttoned. “Hey Mulder”, she greeted him, “sorry I was still in the shower.” “That’s okay Scully, I was just chatting to your neighbour here”, Mulder said. He threw a polite nod at Matt and entered Scully’s apartment, thankful for the escape.
Scully closed the door behind him, and only then did he properly look at her, and noticed that she wasn’t completely dressed yet. He tore his eyes away from her chest and cleared his throat. Scully seemed totally unaware of his distraction and rubbed the towel over her hair while she directed him to her couch. “So um, this Matt guy?” he started, trying to focus on something else than the lacy edge of her bra that was still visible, “he’s kind of…” he trailed off, not sure what to make of the man next door. “Nosy?” Scully supplied. Mulder smiled at that, clearly she didn’t like the guy either. “Yeah, very in your face I guess..” Mulder agreed. “Does he bother you?”, he asked, now worried. “No,” Scully sighed, “he’s fine, he just always seems to be there when I come home or when I leave… It’s like living with my parents”, she joked. “Well… maybe he has a crush on you?” Mulder asked, suddenly feeling worried again, and a bit nervous. Scully chuckled. “Let’s focus on the case, shall we?” she told him.
A few hours later, the FBI’s most unwanted had a couple of suspects listed, and plans to stakeout their houses the coming week. Mulder had discovered that the victims had some ex-girlfriends in common, which seemed pretty suspicious in a big city like Washington.
The following week went by pretty slowly, their stakeouts unfruitful and frustrating. There had been no new victims, which was good of course, but it didn’t help them solve their case any quicker. At night, Scully kept running into her neighbour, who annoyed her more and more. Matt seemed unable to take no for an answer, and kept up his attempts at small-talk and what she could only assume was flirting. She would have to agree with Mulder that he did have a crush on her. When another uneventful week had passed, Scully was quite ready to give up on the case, or rule it as an inexplicable X-File, when Mulder came to her apartment late at night. He banged on her door, probably alarming the whole building, and pulled her out of the door as soon as she had opened it, all the while rattling on about a movie the men had been to. She was just able to pull her door shut, and tried to follow Mulder’s explanation while being led out of her building. In the corner of her eye, she could see Matt’s door opening, but didn’t give it another thought.
When they arrived at the cinema, Mulder finally calmed down enough to explain that the victims had seen a certain horror movie the night before they died. Mulder was convinced this was a lead, and had booked them some tickets for tonight’s show. Seeing as she herself had failed to come up with any explanation, she decided to go along with Mulder’s theory. They were standing in line, when Matt suddenly appeared. Scully frowned, and her mouth dropped open as she saw that he was holding a gun. “Mulder”, she said quietly, and turned fully towards her neighbour. He seemed to be looking around, searching for someone, and when his eyes found her, he aimed…