Title: All Dreams of the Soul: Exodus 2/4 Author: Tiger Lilly E-Mail address: Tigerlillyme@yahoo.com Rating: R Category: XA Keyword: Scully Angst. X-file. UST Spoilers: 5th season Summary: Scully's back to work, but her strange dreams continue to effect her. Continuation of All Dreams of the Soul: Genesis. Disclaimer: Once again with feeling. The characters of Mulder and Scully belong to the surfer dude and 1013 productions. I am making no money from the reading of this ditty, so it would be a waste of time for surfer dude to sue. However, Dr. Lipton, nurse Sarah, and Agent Beaubrun are mine, and they better not show up in any television episodes! Warning: This story is rated R for language and adult situations. This isn't as violent as the first installment, but it is still pretty gory. If you have a problem with blood or vomit, turn back now! Author's note: This is the second of four installments. If you haven't read All Dreams of the Soul: Genesis, then Exodus is not going to make much sense to you. My suggestion—go back and read it. Please send me your feedback at Tigerlillyme@yahoo.com. Be gentle on me. It my first time out. Okay to archive anywhere. Just please send me an e-mail so I'll know. Exodus Dana was throwing up in Mulder's trash can. She was on her hands and knees, on the floor, losing her lunch and breakfast and maybe even some dinner from the night before...in Mulder's trash can. With every heave she felt the soreness still left in her ribs. Her mind was trying to figure out what had come over her. Had she pushed herself too much? It had only been a little over three weeks since she left the hospital, but work had actually helped get her mind off...things. One moment she had been standing there beside his desk, listening to him go on and on about some mysterious voodoo-related disappearances in Florida. She was thumbing through the case file he had tossed down in front of her. The next moment, she was overcome by such intense waves of nausea that she thought her knees would buckle. She looked down at the trash can and knew she was going to vomit. And she fell over and started to do just that. She was done now. She was just kneeling there over the trash can and catching her breath. That had hurt her still healing ribs too much. "Geez, Scully. If you don't want to go to Florida, you just had to say so." She realized he had knelt down behind her and had an arm around her shoulders for support. "I didn't know I felt so strongly about it." She said it between deep breaths, trying to sound like she was okay. She leaned back on her knees and felt Mulder behind her, still supporting her. She had her eyes closed, still trying to find a normal rhythm for her breathing. She heard Mulder's free hand open a desk drawer above him and rummaged through it, feeling for something. He waved a fast-food restaurant napkin in front of her. "Here." Dana reached out, took it, and wiped her mouth with it. It smelled like greasy cheese steak. She thought she might be sick again. They both sat there on the floor for a minute, saying nothing. The sound of Dana's breathing echoed in the basement. She waited until she felt sure she could stand up before even trying. She stood and smoothed out her suit, moving away from Mulder while she did it. Mulder stood and began kicking the foul-smelling trash can out the door of the office, looking down at it from the corner of his eye, his nose crumpled a little. "Boy, the cleaning crew's going to love this," he said. "Sorry, Mulder." "Don't worry about it. I didn't need that trash can anyway." Dana looked around at the office. It was true. He was constantly working in clutter. She didn't think he ever actually threw anything away. His desk was full of files, old expense reports, 8x10 glossies from cases she'd long forgotten about, articles from various questionable publications, the latest Magic Bullet. The whole office was one big pile. Somewhere in his piles she knew her new case file was buried. Her third X-file. At least this time he hadn't made a smart-ass comment about how she was still the record-holder. Usually by now, she would have gone searching for her new file. But the whole incident, the attack, the dreams...she wasn't really up to dealing with it. When she had first come home from the hospital, it had taken all her mental energy just to sleep in her bed. And lately, she was so tired. She was wearing herself out just trying to return to normal. Luckily, the dreams hadn't returned. Almost immediately after her statement was completed, it had become a nonspoken understanding between them that unless it was necessary to the investigation, Dana didn't want to talk about her attack. She had given him all the information he needed. And she was confident Mulder was just uncomfortable enough with the subject that he wouldn't push her for more. And for the most part, he had taken care of the case without consulting her. She knew that while she was on leave, he had worked on her case full-time. Now he was working on it after hours, after she left in the evenings. Sometimes it was good that Mulder didn't have a life. Mulder had returned to his desk and was guiding Dana down by her shoulder into his chair. This isn't helping to convince him that I can still take care of myself, she thought, but let herself sink into his chair anyway. "Maybe you should go home." He had knelt down in front of her to talk to her face to face. Once again, she felt like he was a little too close. "No, Mulder. We have a case." "I'll just call the Miami field office and let them know we won't be investigating after all." "Mulder, that's..." "It doesn't really interest me." She rolled her eyes almost instinctively. She wasn't buying it. "Go with it, Scully. Besides, you know if I thought there was really something here, I wouldn't give it up. I can be relentless when I want to be." He smiled. "That's an understatement." She raised an eyebrow and studied his face. Maybe he really wasn't interested. She had to admit, she really didn't feel like spending a week in Florida chasing zombies. "Okay." But just to make sure he understood that she wasn't turning into some delicate flower, she quickly added, "But I'll be ready to go if you change your mind." She walked across the room to gather her coat and stuff a few files into her briefcase. Catching up on a little work would give her something to concentrate on besides the way she felt, both physically and mentally. She turned and opened the office door. "See you tomorrow, Scully." He was already on the phone to Miami. She just waved and walked out the door. She woke up from a deep sleep to hear the phone ringing. Wearily, she reached out a hand to pull the receiver to her ear without moving from the pillow. "Hello." Her voice sounded as tired as she felt. "It wasn't Krycek." That was it. No hello. No hi, Scully, how you doing? Sorry I woke you up. Only Mulder's voice speaking that one sentence, sounding very distressed. When she had told him in the hospital that she was sure Alex Krycek was her attacker, her rapist, he had practically exploded. All Mulder's hate for Krycek had tumbled out in about ten seconds. He had jumped up from the chair beside her bed, yelling, "I should have killed that fucking bastard when I had a chance," and threw her water pitcher across the room before she had an opportunity to stop him. His hate of Krycek and guilt for not protecting her from him had driven him in this investigation, she was sure of it. And now he sounded lost. "What do you mean, it wasn't him?" she finally managed to say, pulling herself up in bed. Her heart was pounding in her ears. "I saw him very clearly, Mulder. I know it was him." By now, she had reached over to flip on the light. Jesus, it was only 9:45. What time had she fallen asleep? No answer. Okay, she was going to have to ask, regardless of how the answer might affect her. "Mulder, you have to tell me what you know." After a long pause, he finally spoke. "I've been going over your statement. The way your attacker pinned you down and...uh...did what he did. That would have taken two hands and two arms." It took Dana a second to piece together exactly what that meant. "Oh my God, he has a prosthetic arm." "I know, Scully, but there's more...Are you sure you want to hear this?" She took a deep breath. "Yes." If only she felt as positive about it as that sounded. "The physical evidence collected at the scene and from...uh...you. It doesn't match Krycek's records in the federal database or CODIS." Physical evidence? Since when was Fox Mulder concerned about physical evidence? And Krycek was a one-armed man. Fate had to be playing some kind of sick joke on her. The only thing missing was a reference to Tommy Lee Jones. "What do you mean doesn't match?" Was science actually betraying her? How could it when she had always been its ally? Besides she was punishing herself, and she knew it. But she had to know the facts. "The prints, blood type, DNA...everything," Mulder said. "None of it matches Krycek." She wanted to scream at him. Tell him that he was wrong. That every shred of evidence gathered was wrong. Krycek's face haunted her all day and all night. Every time she closed her eyes, she could see his face above her, just inches away from her. She could hear his voice in her ears—"I said, we're not done!" Oh, God, Dana thought. I think I'm going to be sick again. "Scully...Scully...are you there?" She realized her thoughts had interrupted her conversation with him. Her horrible, god damn, thoughts. "Yes." "Did you hear me? I need more information about these dreams you were having. I'm on my way over." Her heart jumped up to her throat. "No, Mulder. I'm...okay. I just want to go back to sleep." It wasn't a lie. She did want to just go back to sleep. She just didn't know if she could. "Good- bye Mulder." "Dana...." "I'll talk to you tomorrow. I have a doctor's appointment, so I'll be in late." And she hung up on him. She laid back down in the bed without turning off the lamp and curled up around her pillow. Fuck, Dana thought, even the facts weren't real. Had she been so traumatized by her attack that she had somehow imagined Alex Krycek was the one attacking her? After everything that had happen to her... the abduction, Missy, the cancer, Emily...was she finally losing her mind? Dana hugged the pillow and tried to find something calming to think about. She found herself reciting over and over in her mind the Hail Marys and Our Father she had learned so long ago in Catechism. Finally, she drifted off to sleep. "So, Dana. I understand you've refused to let Sarah draw your blood for a pregnancy test? Do you want to let me in on the reason?" Dr. Lipton stood there waiting for her answer. "I don't think it's necessary." Dr. Lipton carried her chart across the small exam room and sat down at the desk attached to the wall. She flipped through page after page of records, obviously from the latest hospital stay. She stopped to read the information Dana had just given to the nurse. "You told Sarah you couldn't remember the date of your last menstrual period. Do you have an approximate idea?" What did it matter? Dana thought. It was something she had actually kept track of at one time. But the cytotoxic drugs she received during chemotherapy had pushed her body into menopause. And although hormone therapy had made her periods return, she didn't really see any point in keeping track of them. "I shouldn't have to tell you, Dana, that one in three women made infertile by chemo eventually become fertile again once the treatments end." Yes, it was true, but she had never tried to go off the hormones to see if her body had indeed recovered. Since Mulder had told her the truth, she didn't see any real point of it. In fact, the only time she made any note of her body's futile attempts at pretending she wasn't barren was when she was in the field. Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere totally unprepared was not her idea of a good time. Besides, Mulder wasn't exactly the type to go buy tampons for her. "I don't know. A month ago. Maybe more." Dana racked her brain trying to remember. It had been before her attack. Had it also been before the dreams started? She wasn't sure. "Dana," Dr. Lipton was speaking slowly and softly to her. "I know you realize as a physician that a pregnancy test is a routine procedure in cases like yours. And since you haven't had a menstrual period since the attack, that makes it even more important." How had they gotten on this subject? Dana thought. Enough already. Let's end this once and for all. Lay it all on the line. Besides, she realized looking at her watch, she really needed to get to work. She looked Dr. Lipton right in the eye. "Dr. Lipton, I understand your concern. But I have discovered since my chemo that I am absolutely unable to ovulate. There isn't even the remotest possibility that I'm pregnant." Dr. Lipton looked confused and began looking through her records again. She didn't even raise her head from them to ask the next question, but simply asked it while she was writing down the new information Dana had given her. "Since this obviously occurred since your last visit here, can I have the name of the doctor who diagnosed your infertility?" Oh great. What was she going to say now? Well, you see Dr. Lipton, this wasn't exactly diagnosed by a doctor. My partner, who doesn't know a hell of alot about the female reproductive system, told me that all my ova were removed. Not a doctor. Not even an exam. Just complete trust that he was telling me the truth. Oh, and don't forget the fact my ova where removed by the evil forces in the government, who also kidnapped me, put an implant in my neck, and gave me cancer. The rantings of an insane woman. She was sure Dr. Lipton would call security to haul her off if she told her the truth. But she was waiting for her to answer. "No." "No?" Dr. Lipton looked up surprised. "No," Dana repeated firmly. "If you don't mind, I would like to just proceed with the exam. I'm late for work." She laid back on the examination table, thus ending the conversation. Dr. Lipton visibly swallowed her angry. "Well, since it has been over a year since you were here, I'd like to do a full exam and PAP smear." She opened the door to summon the nurse without even waiting for Dana's consent. Why did I agree to this? She pulled the flimsy paper gown together in front where it was beginning to gap open. She had actually intended to skip this horror and use a mirror to examine herself and make sure the sutures had healed properly. But her mother had insisted. And she was just too tired to argue. Dr. Lipton was now standing beside the table, while Sarah, the same nurse Dana had locked horns with only 10 minutes before, was setting up all the various medical instruments and tools of torture. Dana found herself studying the clock on the wall while Dr. Lipton began her check-up in complete silence. And tried not to wince while she examined her breasts. "Any tenderness?" "No," she lied. But how the hell could she tell, when she was still healing from 5 broken ribs? Every inch of her bruised body ached when she moved the wrong way. Dr. Lipton proceeded to move down the table and guided Dana's feet into the stirrups. Sarah snapped a latex glove over the doctor's right hand. Dana braced herself for the examination and closed her eyes. Okay, it's true, she thought. Doctors do make the worst patients. And she began to list everything she needed to accomplish at work, assuming she ever got there. "Hmmm." Dr. Lipton's concerned voice caught Dana's attention and caused her to open her eyes. She was using her ungloved left hand to push down on Dana's abdomen. "Hmmm," she repeated. She moved away from the table and said, "You can sit up now." And the exam was over. Dr. Lipton turned her back to her and flung the used glove into the red medical waste container. She quietly walked back over to the desk and began looking over Dana's latest medical information again. Dana struggled to an upright position, feeling horribly slimy and anxiously awaiting the opportunity to get dressed. "Well, you have healed nicely," Dr. Lipton began with her head still buried in Dana's chart. "I see here that your cancer is still in remission. When was your last check-up with your oncologist?" What exactly was she getting at? Dana thought. "Two months ago." MRIs, blood work, everything had been normal. "Hmmm." Dana was starting to get more than a little apprehensive with the latest line of questioning. What exactly did the doctor suspect? After a long wait, Dana finally had her answer. "I think I may have found the cause of your missed menstrual period. Your uterus seems to be unusually large. I suspect you may have a mass growing inside of it. Possibly a fibroid tumor or..." "Or a malignancy." Dana finished the sentence for her. She unconsciously reached a hand behind her neck and began to feel the scar above her implant. The implant that was suppose to keep anything like this from happening. The implant that Mulder had brought her to save her life. Dr. Lipton must have seen the distress on her face because she quickly continued. "Dana, we can't jump to any conclusions. I'm going to send you downstairs for an ultrasound. After that, we'll have a better idea of what we're dealing with. Go ahead and get dressed. Sarah will call downstairs and set everything up for you." Dr. Lipton turned to leave, but turned back around once she had reached the door. "Oh, and Dana. You may want to call your work and tell them that you're probably not going to make it in today." With that, she shut the door behind her. She hadn't called Mulder. Or Skinner. Or her mother. She had just come home after the ultrasound, took her phone off the hook, and laid down on the sofa, pulling her white throw over her and wrapping it tightly around her shoulders. She had laid there the rest of the afternoon, watching the shadows on the wall as the sun set. She had occasionally dosed off, sleeping a restless, dreamless sleep. But mostly she had stared at the armchair across the room. She thought about her father's appearance in that armchair after his death. She had come to accept that vision as real. But what the ultrasound had revealed...was it a vision? A miracle? A figment of her imagination? She felt so confused, almost hoping that maybe once again Ahab would appear in that same chair, giving her the answers she sought. When is it going to end? she thought as she absentmindedly thumbed the gold cross hanging from her neck. When exactly had it been decided that Dana Scully was no longer a human being, but the lab rat for the cosmos? Was it something they had conceived from the start, or had each piece slowly fallen into place as they contemplated ways to make her life a living hell? Were they now testing her loyalty to Mulder once again? Or just seeing how much she could take? Or was this something more? Any first year med student would have recognized what the ultrasound had revealed. The technician didn't even have to say anything. Obviously the look on Dana's face told her that Dana knew exactly what she was looking at. And the rest of the test had been conducted in total silence, with only the quiet rhythm of the fetus' rapid heartbeat filling the room. Dana had immediately thought of Emily. Sweet, little Emily. Her sad, blue eyes looking up at her face as she laid dying in her hospital bed. Her green blood oozing through her veins. Stop it. STOP IT. It was an hallucination. An horrible, extremely cruel hallucination. After all, the technician didn't actually say a word. And she hadn't returned to Dr. Lipton's office after the ultrasound to discuss the results. She had left in such a rush of emotions. One minute, she was sure she had another tumor. The next...what? A miracle? A miraculous conception? That had only happened once before, and even the Virgin Mary had ova to work with. Now it was dusk. By now, she expected Mulder would be leaving the basement and heading home, wondering where she was. Mulder. Oh, god, what was she going to tell Mulder? More importantly, how was she going to tell Mulder something that she couldn't believe herself even after she had seen it with her own two eyes? She had watched in wide-eyed horror as the technician measured the length of her uterus' intruder as well as her uterus' size. The screen displayed the same calculation over and over: 9 weeks gestational age. The relief she felt knowing conception had taken place before the rape disappeared when she calculated that it would have taken place approximately when the dreams started. The dreams. Now she probably was going to have to tell Mulder about the dreams. All the dreams and what they had been about. She couldn't decide how he would react to them. Or even if she should tell him at all. And if she told him about her...hallucination, what would he say? After all, he never believed any of the miracles she felt sure she had witnessed. Would he rather believe she was once again invaded by cancer? She didn't know. At that moment, there was a knock at her door. She didn't move. She knew who it was. Maybe if she was very quiet... "Scully, open up. It's me." Dana closed her eyes and listened to her ragged breathing. She wasn't ready to face him. She hadn't rehearsed what she was going to tell him yet. Or even decided if she would tell him anything. She still needed to straighten it out in her own mind. "Scully, I know you're home." Damn, Dana thought. There goes hoping he'd just leave. Oh, well, it was worth one last futile attempt. "Go away, Mulder." She wasn't surprised to hear his key turning in the lock. She was surprised he had actually knocked in the first place. She heard him come in and lock the door behind him. She could imagine him pausing, looking around the apartment for her. "Scully, why are you sitting in the dark?" "I must have fallen asleep," she lied. She said it quietly, without bothering to move. She wished she could just sink into the sofa and disappear. However, it was already too late for that. He had rounded the corner of the sofa in a few long strides and was already kneeling on the floor in front of her, staring right into her face. "Why didn't you come in today?" "Mulder, I..." "I was worried. I called your mother. She said you had a doctor's appointment this morning. Are you okay?" He seemed a little uncomfortable with the subject. Dana guessed her mother had also told him what kind of doctor's appointment she had. "Yes, Mulder. I told you about my appointment last night." "Oh." There was a long pause before he said, "Everything okay?" He had said it with a smile, trying to sound casual, to break the somber mood in the apartment. But when she didn't answer, he became visibly anxious. "Scully...everything is okay... isn't it?" "Mulder...I..." What, what? A tumor? Alien baby? Elvis' return from the dead? Complete psychosis? She ran both the rational and irrational options over in her mind, trying to decided which to start with. She impulsively decided to go with her old stand-by, as meek as it was. "...I'm fine." He just sat there, looking at her skeptically. The silence in the apartment was deafening. After what seemed like several minutes, but was probably only a few seconds, she decided she was going to need to continue, if only to come up with a better explanation of her absence. "There was initially some concern that I might have an uterine tumor." He visibly gulped in a breath. "Scully, how..." She cut him off. "But, tests revealed that it was nothing more than a benign mass." Okay, that was a lie. She knew it. This was definitely something more than that. Maybe she should have had the damn thing biopsied. As soon as she thought it, she winced. Biopsied was a polite word for what she was thinking. He was still looking at her. She realized she was still laying on the sofa with the throw wrapped around her shoulders. I guess I don't look like a women who has just avoided another death sentence, she thought. She pushed herself up into a sitting position. "Look, it's been a very emotional day. If you don't mind..." "There's another reason I came over here. They found a body in Florida that matches the description of one of the missing women. Skinner assigned us the case this morning. I was on my way to the airport." She looked at him startled. "I tried to call," he said, "but I couldn't get through. I thought maybe you had taken the phone off the hook." "Oh, yeah. I was trying to sleep." Feeble, she thought. Really feeble. After staring at her for several more eternal seconds, he started to rise. "Look, I've booked us on a flight in an hour. You don't have to..." "No, I'm ready to go. I packed yesterday. I'll just get my..." "You really don't..." "No, Mulder. I do." And she was off the sofa and heading towards her bedroom before he could say another word. Delicate flower, my ass, Dana thought as she grabbed her suitcase. Besides, nothing like a case to get her mind off her own...problems. She needed time and something to put her back up against. This might be just the thing. She leaned her head back against the seat and closed her eyes. DC to Miami. Two and a half hours. Plenty of time to... The sensation of a manila folder landing in her lap broke her train of thought. She opened her eyes and looked down. The case file. It had grown considerable since yesterday. "I thought we could use this opportunity to discuss some of the more interesting aspects of this case," Mulder said from the seat beside her. "Sure. Fine. Whatever." she sighed. Forget about relaxing. Or thinking. She was in Mulder's world again. "Look, Scully, you can blow this off if you want. But we need to go over some background information. I want you up on the facts when we get to Miami." "Facts, Mulder? Or speculations?" "Facts, Scully. Besides," he said as a little smirk crossed his face, "you missed my slide show this morning. This won't be nearly as impressive, but I still think you'll find this information essential to understanding the nuances of this case." She spent the next 2 hours listening to Mulder talk about some of the more bizarre aspects of voodoo. From his fixation on zombification, secret societies, and black magic, she wondered if he knew that voodoo was a syncretic religion created from the merging of Catholicism with West African tribal deities. She thought she had reminded him of that when they were at the Haitian resettlement camp, but as always, he chose to ignore the more mundane aspects. His next chosen topic confirmed her suspicions. "It's possible that the latest disappearances have to do with a spirit know as tonton macoute." Her raised eyebrow was all the urging he needed to go on. "It loosely translates to mean... the bogeyman." "The bogeyman?" She had to bite her lip hard on the inside to keep from laughing. And she knew he could tell that she was trying not to laugh. "You mean to tell me you are dragging me all the way to Miami to hunt for the bogeyman?" She said it incredulously, but she knew that he had led her on wilder hunts before. "I didn't drag you, Scully. You insisted." Oh, yeah. She had temporarily forgotten. She let a couple of beats skip before she started again. "Mulder... the bogeyman?" "Look, I know it's not very original, Scully. But it's a spirit that repeatedly is blamed for all kinds of vile acts by black magic practitioners. It supposedly invades worshipers, causing them to commit acts ranging from cannibalism to human sacrifices." "And you think we may be looking at some sort of human sacrifice." "Either that or zombification. These women could be missing because of a spell placed on them by a black magician, called a bokors." "Oh, come on, Mulder, you know that zombification is the results of brain damage caused by ingesting a variety of toxic substances. Remember the tetrodotoxin we found in that soldier in North Carolina? Subjects either knowingly or unknowingly swallow a powerful combination of intoxicating drugs that slow the body's functions to the point of comatose. When a powerful antidote is administered to the apparently dead victim, he or she appears to be raised from the dead. Brain damaged and very controllable. But still very much alive." He looked surprised, but pleased that she had done some of her homework. And ready to give her his standard speech again about opening herself up to extreme possibilities. She cut him off before he had a chance. "I promise to keep my mouth shut for an acceptable amount of time when we get to Miami. Just let me review the file before we discuss any more of your...uh..facts." If only he knew how extreme some of the possibilities she was considering in her own life were. He didn't say another word until they were safely on the ground in Miami. Miami was humid. Incredibly humid, Dana thought as she turned up the air conditioner in her motel room. Plus the whole city reeked of sulfur. And she hated it. She had been up for over 36 hours. From the moment the plane touched down at Miami International, she had chased Mulder from the Miami field office, to the location where the local authorities had recovered what had positively been identified as one of the missing women, to the Dade County morgue. From there, he had left her alone to conduct her autopsy, running off to interview various voodoo priests and priestesses who claimed to have information about the case. And she had welcomed the solitude. The autopsy. Not since med school had her stomach literally threaten to heave with every move she made. She wanted to blame it on lack of sleep, and the fact that she hadn't eaten since breakfast the day before. Woofing down some vending machine peanut butter and cheese crackers had helped. To a point. But other than the expected signs of decay, and the fact that the body was covered in a crystallized white substance, nothing was unusually gruesome about this particular death. Certainly nothing to cause her to continually pause to get her gag reflex under control. Nothing like a few symptoms to really make an hysterical pregnancy convincing, she told herself. The woman had been missing for close to 7 months, but Dana estimated that death occurred no more than 72 hours earlier. The woman was in her early thirties, a recent immigrant from Haiti, and the white crystals covering her body contrasted eerily to her dark skin. Dana had scrapped the white substance into a specimen vile and sent it to the lab for analysis. She had died from severe trauma to the head, probably caused by being hit with a rock or other blunt instrument. In fact, nothing had been remarkable about this woman's death at all. Except for when it had occurred. The woman had given birth within minutes of her death. That had been the discovery that sent her standing over the sink, eyes closed, arms bracing her for the inevitable release that surely would come with such an intense wave of nausea. But it didn't happen, and slowly she had regained the composure to return to the task at hand. The case file had made no mention of the woman being pregnant at the time of her disappearance. But the evidence was undeniable that she had delivered at full-term. Now it was late afternoon, and she was finally at the motel and determined to rest before she completed her autopsy report. Let Mulder chase away the bogeyman, she thought. She'd had enough for one day. Dana laid down on top of motel bedspread, not even bothering to undress. God, she was exhausted. And in a matter of minutes, she was deep asleep. She was laying on the motel bed, still in her clothes. Around her, an army of tow-headed children in sailor suits vaporously filled the room. I'm dreaming, Dana thought. Sort of a von Trappe family meets children of the corn kind of dream, but nevertheless, a pretty intense dream. She turned to look at the face of the child standing closest to her. A boy of about six, bearing a striking resemblance to Emily. She held out her hand, and the boy took it while stepping in closer to the bed. Sadly she studied his face, knowing that it was her own face she was looking into. He returned her gaze, actually leaning forward until their noses were only inches apart. And in the sticky slowness that could only accompany a dream, the realization came to her that something was unexpectedly wrong with the face she was looking into. Instead of the intense blue pools that Emily had, the eyes that she expected, she gasped at the face before her. Hazel eyes. Thump. Thump. Thump. "Scully! Open up!" Dana rubbed her eyes and stumbled in the darkness towards the door. She vaguely knew she had been having a bad dream, but Mulder's knocking on the door had startled her awake, and she had lost the dream immediately. She opened the motel door, and Mulder pushed his way into the room. He was drenched from head to toe, apparently trying to use the Miami Herald as a shield against the torrential downpour that had begun since she fell asleep. "Jesus, Mulder. Don't you ever carry an umbrella?" "Nope. Don't you ever turn on some lights?" Mulder flipped on the motel lamp beside the television. The sudden light made her squint and shield her eyes with one hand. She knew Mulder knew that she was sleeping and he had woke her up. It just didn't matter to him. He was about to burst with whatever he needed to tell her, and he was almost visible shaking with the effort to contain himself until her eyes adjusted to the light and she was able to turn her full attention to him. "Let me guess. You found the bogeyman." "Yeah, and he's a nice guy with two kids and a SUV, just a little misunderstood." Mulder waited a beat. Sometimes she could almost hear the drum rift he was playing in his head after he delivered his standard dry one-liners. As usual, he was smiling vainly at his own wit. "Seriously, Scully, let me guess what the substance on the victim's skin was." "Okay, Mulder. I'll humor you. What was it?" "Salt." She walked over to her PowerBook and picked up the lab reports she had careless thrown on the table in her fatigue. She hadn't even looked at the results of the substance analysis earlier. Now she scanned the page quickly for it. Sodium chloride. Table salt. He was right. He didn't even have to ask. He had already read her face to know he was right and was off and running on his explanation. "Voodoo followers believe salt to have a wide variety of powerful properties. One of which is the ability to turn the walking dead into simply the dead." "De-zombification?" Her skeptical questioned didn't even give him pause. "Well, not exactly. It doesn't return their souls. It just allows them to return to their graves." She nodded. She wasn't sure where Mulder was going with this, especially when it was obvious to anyone who had viewed the body that the woman had died of a blow to the head. The bashed-in skull was a dead giveaway. "There's a problem though." Only one, Mulder? She hadn't said it aloud, but she wished she had. "In order to work, the salt is suppose to be eaten." Okay, that was a problem. This woman... zombie...victim had not ingested any of the sodium chloride on her skin. Nor had she inhaled any. It was fairly obvious that the substance had been applied shortly following her death. And she told him so and also used the opportunity to poke a little fun at his theory. "Maybe our victim was on a low-sodium diet?" Mulder just glared at her. He apparently didn't think she was funny. She continued anyway. "There's also another pretty significant finding that doesn't substantiate your zombie theory." Zombie theory. Only she and Mulder would be having a conversation, again, about another case that contained a seriously considered zombie theory. "The woman had recently given birth," Mulder confidently broke in. She could see the scoreboard in his eyes: Agent Mulder 2, Agent Scully 0. "How'd you..." "They found the baby 10 minutes ago about a half-mile from where the woman was found." Mulder paused for effect. "Also covered in salt." Dana turned without saying another word and wearily walked to the closet and grabbed her overcoat and umbrella. It was definitely going to be a bumpy night, chasing zombies and the bogeyman with the FBI boy wonder. She sarcastically wondered what wonderful deed she had done to deserve a partner like Mulder. Autopsy number two had definitely marked a new low point in the case for Dana. This time, besides constantly battling nausea...Besides reminding her of the last time she had examined a newborn during that horrible case in Home, Pennsylvania...Besides the grotesque fact that the baby's death occurred so close to its birth that the umbilical cord and placenta were still attached...Besides the frustration she felt because she couldn't determine a cause of death...Besides being dead on her feet and famished from not having a meal in two days...Besides the emotional implications of the death of a life that was just beginning...Besides the fact that she was slowly coming out of her shock from the doctor's office...Besides having the realization in the middle of the autopsy that she might carry a life inside of her closely resembling the one she was examining....Besides all that, Mulder spent the entire autopsy standing less than two feet behind her, scrutinizing her every move. She had never been so glad to change out of her scrubs. Mulder was waiting in the hall for her, popping sunflower seeds. "So, Scully. You hungry?" Unbelievable, she thought. Un-fucking- believable. It was another one of Mulder's brilliant ideas. When he found out that the next Saturday was a traditional Vodun ritual day, he had located an agent from the Miami field office that could take them to a ritual site and explain the ceremony. Agent Beaubrun explained to them that his parents had come to Miami from Haiti before he was born. And although he had been exposed to Voodoo growing up in Miami, he had never actually practiced it, much to Mulder's disappointment . He seemed willing enough to accompany them, though, even if it was his day off. Now she knew that Mulder's constant questions were throwing the Miami agent a little off guard. Beaubrun kept glancing back at her, where she had leaned back against the low wall in the back of the shed, her arms crossed. Mulder and Beaubrun were standing at a respectable distance from the ritual, a fact that was probably driving Mulder crazy. Dana had purposely chose to stand even farther back, where she could remain a skeptical observer, and check her watch frequently, without offending any of the believers which filled the covered area in front of her. Besides, she needed to get away from Mulder, even if it was only by a few feet. He was driving her crazy, not only because of his insistence to continue investigating the voodoo link to the case, but also because almost everything he had done since their arrival in Miami had grated at her already raw nerves. She still wasn't sure what Mulder's real objective in all of this was. Other than the fact that all of the missing women had been Mambos, or voodoo priestesses, and all had arrived in the Miami area from Haiti in the last two years, there still was no hard evidence to relate the disappearances and deaths to voodoo. And after his zombie theory, which she had made fun of, he hadn't discussed any of the other possibilities that she knew where floating around in that head of his. On the bright said, she thought, at least he hasn't tried the old alien abduction theory again. Honestly, she was as baffled by their first set of recovered victims as he was. The salt, the timing of the death, the baby that died of no apparent cause, none of it made any sense. But unlike Mulder, she wasn't jumping to any conclusions yet. And she felt rather sure that they weren't going to find any answers here. She couldn't hear what Beaubrun was explaining to Mulder, but she could see the Vodun priest in the middle of the shed pouring flour on the ground in a design around a rainbow painted center post. A fire blazed nearby, even though it was at least 90 degrees. The priest finished his design and blew a hand full of flour in each direction. Almost immediately, the crowd of believers erupted in something Dana vaguely recognized as prayer. She listened carefully to the strange French dialect and realized what they were saying. The Our Father. But as soon as she recognized it, it was over. And a section of the crowd dressed in ceremonial African costumes began a strange, hypnotic chant. The priest began violently striking the floured- covered ground with a staff topped by a large rattle. The priest's face contorted in rage, and he shouted unrecognizable words at the crowd. Dana found herself instinctively flinching with each earthen thud of the staff. Chanting men and women came forward and placed what appeared to be offering jars on the concrete footing of the center post. A man lead a terrified white sheep into the floured area and tied it to the post, where it bleated and tugged against its short restraint to no avail. Nearby her, a group of women who she thought were only watching the ritual began to wail and chant as well, causing the sheep to attempt a futile bolt to the other side of the post. Throughout the crowd, celebrants were yelling and falling forward, staggering towards the center of the shed. Slowly a group of seven men and women became the focus of the ritual, each struggling and flailing their arms against some unforeseen attacker. Their bodies shook, muscles flexed and spasmed, as if they no longer had control. Each of the seven was accompanied by a lucid celebrant, who guarded them from the crowd and removed their shoes. The chanting of the crowd became accented by the terrified screams and yells of the seven and the ever increasing cries of the sheep. The panicked animal was visibly shaking, its legs wobbling unsteadily. Dana's own knees threatened to buckle, and she leaned back hard against the wall for support. She watched the sheep in rapt horror as it darted first in one direction and then the other, looking for an escape. At that moment, Mulder turned his head around and looked at her. He had the biggest, goofiest smile on his face she had ever seen. The priest continued striking the ground with his staff, and although the sound was drowned out by the intonations of the crowd, Dana's heartbeat reverberated through her body in sync with each strike. Suddenly, the seven stopped struggling all at once. Each began to dance wildly, yelling in strange gibberish. They began taunting the crowd, yelling and pushing nearby observers. One of the men turned and walked through the blazing fire without flinching. The bleating of the sheep had reached a point that if it didn't stop soon, Dana thought she would scream. At that moment, the priest picked up a sword and in one swoop cut the throat of the sheep still tied to the center post, its last cry ending in a gurgle as it slumped to the ground. Dana winced and turned away from the scene. Slowly she began to sink down the wall to the ground, hoping that maybe Mulder would get the message that she had seen enough and he needed to get her out of there. She looked up just in time to see the priest fill a gourd full of the sheep's blood and begin to drink. The blood dripped down the sides of his mouth and stained the front of his ceremonial robe and shirt. Other followers quickly gathered around to partake in the macabre libation, devouring it as greedily as he did. Dana's hand flew to her mouth, and her eyes clamped tight, trying to shut out the image that she was sure was going to make her stomach empty its merger contents once again. When she opened her eyes, she expected to see Mulder standing over her. Instead she slowly became aware of a perceptible change in the crowd. Where celebrants and observers had stood in front of her before, now she had a very clear view of the center post and the dancing seven, which were now slumped to the ground. The still chanting crowd had parted in front of her, although their tone had changed from manic to reverent. Dana became increasingly uncomfortable as she realized every eye was now focused on her. Had she done something to offend them? Had her sitting on the ground caused all this attention? She barely had time to consider the question before becoming transfixed. The priest was staring her down with hypnotic force. She locked on his eyes as he neared closer and closer to her. She barely noticed the chanters closing in behind him, also inching their way toward her. The priest stopped directly in front of her, still capturing her with his gaze. Dana was fascinated by his eyes, yet terrified by his presence. Blood seemed to be everywhere, pulsing through her body, pounding in her ears, spread across the priest's robes, smeared on his face and dripping from the gourd he still held in his hands. She forced herself to pull away from the priest's gaze. The chanters were deafening, and between the chorus and the crowd which had filled in behind them, she was completely trapped. Only the space of a small half circle separated her from the excited mass. All she saw were unfamiliar sweat-glisten faces, blood-smeared mouths, and intent eyes. She scanned the crowd for Mulder. Where the hell was Mulder? She wanted to scream. To cover her ears from the chants. To jump up and run. She felt tethered like the sheep. But the FBI agent in her told her to ignore her urges. To sit and wait. If they were going to attack her, which she wasn't sure they were, then she was already completely outnumbered. And reaching for her gun tucked between her jeans and the back of her shirt would definitely start a riot. She pushed the scream down in her throat. But she noticed that she was outwardly betraying the calm demeanor she was trying to project. She was shaking from head to toe, her lungs forcing air through her constricting throat. Suddenly, the priest thrust his staff into the air, immediately silencing the crowd. He began yelling something in French, but still his gaze did not leave Dana's face. The crowd seemed to respond to his proclamation. Several were nodding their heads. She could even hear a few sobs from somewhere. But mostly there was silence, contrasting completely to only seconds before. Her ears were filled by her ragged breathing and her heart pounding in her ears. Alot of good all that college German is doing me, Dana thought. I should have stayed next to Mulder and his interpreter. The priest took another step toward her and bent down. Dana forced herself to remain steady. His dark hand reached out and touched her face. She could feel the still warm blood on his hand smear her cheek. For a moment, their eyes locked again and she saw...compassion? "Erzulie!" he yelled, straightening up and turning towards the crowd. The blood-curling scream made Dana jump. In response, the crowd began its deafening chant with renewed frenzy. The priest took the bloody gourd, still in his hand, and poured its contents on the ground in front of Dana. The warm blood splattered up on her. She could feel it hitting her bare arms and face. Then the drums began. They seemed to beat a violent, menacing rhythm. The crowd around her began clapping. That's it, she thought. Enough of the dramatics. If she didn't get out of here now, she was definitely going to shoot someone. Dana jumped to her feet and began looking for a way out of the crowd. But the sea of dark faces around her seemed to be endless in every direction. Damn it, I'll fight my way out if I have to, she thought, preparing herself for a battle. At that moment, a hand grabbed her arm. Her first instinct was to pull away, but it had a firm grasp on her forearm and was pulling her. She turned ready to belt whoever it was and was surprised to find Mulder. "Scully, come on!" He had yelled it as loud as he could, but she couldn't hear him above the drums, chanting, and clapping. Instead, she read his lips and the fear in his eyes. He pulled her in front of him and attempted to push both of them through the crowd. All Dana could see was a sea of dark hands reaching out to touch her as she passed. Each touch startled her, and she jumped away from the sensations. Mulder's chest was right up against her back, and she could feel his heart pounding as hard as hers. His left arm was trying to shield her from the eager crowd, which was quickly turning into a mob. Mulder's pace through the crowd was deliberately slow and calm. Dana's panic was becoming monumental and threatened to completely take over. She started to bolt, but Mulder keep a firm grasp on her arm. "Easy, Scully," he said right next to her ear. It sounded like a whisper, but he yelled it so she could hear him above the noise. The crowd was moving with them. Suddenly they opened up, revealing Agent Beaubrun's car sitting at the edge of the shed, with him in the driver's seat, waiting for them with the engine running. Mulder steered her to the car, opened the back door, and pushed her inside. He followed on her heels. She heard the door locks click. The crowd was now completely surrounding the car. Still clapping, still chanting. Faces peered into the back windows and hands banged against the car. Beaubrun slowly accelerated and the crowd parted, following only to the edge of the courtyard. Only then did Mulder's hand finally let go of her arm. She didn't realize how tightly he was holding on to her, until his hand released, and she felt the blood flowing back into her lower arm. Mulder let out a deep breath and slumped back against the seat. "You okay?" "Yeah, I think so." The image of the sacrifice popped into her head, and she closed her eyes and shivered. Dana instinctively flinched away as something brushed her face. She opened her eyes to find Mulder offering her a handkerchief. "You, uh, have some blood..." Oh, God, the blood! Dana snatched the handkerchief and began wiping the sheep's blood off her face, arms, and hands. She hoped her actions didn't appear as frantic as they felt. When she thought she had removed all the blood she could, she wadded the stained cloth in a ball and dropped it on the floorboard of the car. After a long pause, Mulder said, "Scully, you're safe. You can stop shaking now." She looked down at her hands. They were indeed shaking. As was her whole body. She took a deep breath with a gulp and found her voice. "What the hell was that?" she said softly. "Damniest thing I've ever seen," Beaubrun replied. "For some reason, they seem to think you're Erzulie." Dana looked at Mulder, and he looked back at her. Nope, he didn't have a clue either. "What's erzulie?" Mulder said. "Not what, who," Beaubrun corrected. "She's the Vodun loa of love, kind of like the perfect female. The closest approximation in Western religion would probably be the Virgin Mary." With that, Mulder let out a big snicker. Dana shot him a look, but his only response was to lean over and whisper, "I guess they were a little off on that one, huh?" Dana chose to ignore him. "Where they'd get an idea like that?" The crazy answer that ran through her mind was never spoken. "I have no idea. I've never seen anything like it. And what I can't get is that they weren't even invoking Erzulie." "Well," Mulder began with a big grin on his face, "it wouldn't be the first time someone thought you were possessed." Great, Mulder was having a good laugh at her expense. All she could do was lean into the corner of the back seat and sulk. The idea of shocking him with what she was coming to believe was sounding better and better. "No, Agent Mulder, you don't understand." Beaubrun was very seriously looking back at them in the rear view mirror. "They didn't think Agent Scully was possessed by Erzulie. They thought she was Erzulie. The actual living embodiment of her." That shut Mulder up for the rest of the trip back to the motel. Ten days on the case from hell, Dana thought. Hot, humid hell. And they were no closer to solving the case than when they had arrived in Miami. She laid on the motel bed surrounded by pieces of the case file. The first few frantic days of the case had melted into long, slow days of little progress and no new leads. She and Mulder had spent the last two evenings reviewing every piece of evidence, every detail of the autopsy reports, every black and white glossy of the locations where the bodies where found, every statement from possible witnesses and even those of some freaks. And still they had nothing. Nothing that is except Mulder's zombie and bogeyman theories. And even he had abandoned them. So now she sat on the bed in an oversized t- shirt and panties staring blankly at the papers and photos surrounding her. Normally, she would have put on her silk pajamas after her shower, but it was just so damn hot. Even with the air conditioner on full-blast, the room still wasn't sufficiently cool. She felt the t-shirt sticking to her skin in all the wrong places. She just wasn't comfortable. Mulder had said good night over an hour ago and retreated frustrated to the adjoining room. She could hear him flipping television channels through the half-open door between them. She had finally given up on trying to shut the door that separated their rooms. Every time she tried, Mulder seemed to open it again. The fact that he had left it open when he had first left her room was odd, but after she got up to close it the first time, he had knocked and asked to look for his favorite pen. She had let him look, although how anyone could become so attached to a Bic disposable was beyond her. Once again he left the door half-open, and once again she had made a special trip across the room to shut it. The next time he knocked to ask if she had any ice. Then he knocked again to see if she wanted any of the ice he had just gotten. Then he checked to see if she had a television listing. Then if channel 33 had as much static on her set as it did on his. Each time she had deliberately shut the door. The final time he knocked on her door, he pointedly opened it to its current position before she could make it across the room, mumbled something like "never mind" and retreated to his bed to began flipping channels yet again. After six annoying trips across the room to answer his knock, Dana had decided she had had enough and just left it open. He hadn't returned since. Her room was in semi-darkness, except for the light illuminating from the lamp beside the bed and the television in front of her. The Curse of the Mummy, or some other B-movie like it, was on. But she wasn't really paying attention to it either. She had lowered the volume almost to mute. Dana was taking another inventory in her mind of her physical symptoms. She had done it at least 4 times a day over the past few days. And every day, her diagnosis was the same. Amenorrhea for over 2 months. She was pretty sure of that, although she still couldn't remember exactly when her last menstrual cycle had begun. Nausea all day and night. Especially when she hadn't eaten recently. Whoever decided to call it morning sickness was totally mislead. Although it was worse very first thing in the morning. This morning she had jumped out of bed, awakened by Mulder when a call came in that the body of another young women had been found. And she was soon paying for her enthusiasm by sitting on the bathroom floor in front of the toilet, waiting to throw up once again. Unfortunately, she hadn't. Instead she had felt horribly sick the rest of the morning. Luckily, the body turned out not to be one of their missing women. Frequent urination. Oh, yeah. Mulder was getting a little peeved about that one. Especially the last couple of days, when they had been together pretty much constantly. It was becoming pretty obvious that her frequent trips to the bathroom were getting on his nerves. He had even made a comment about her cutting back on liquids. Tender, swollen breast. Definitely. Not that her ribs weren't still bothering her a little, but she was distinctly aware of both breasts feeling very uncomfortable. And her bras were getting more than a little snug. In fact, if they didn't get back to DC soon, she might have to go shopping. Boy, Mulder was going to love that one. Darkening of areola. Maybe a little. That one she couldn't be sure about. Food cravings. Not that craving chocolate was that unusually for her. Although the three candy bars she had downed in front of Mulder two nights ago had even left his mouth gaping. But tonight's dinner of Cuban black beans and chicken, that was something she wouldn't have wanted everyday. But she had to have something spicy, and Mulder had been happy to comply. And he marveled at her zeal in eating it. Enlarging uterus and abdomen. Dr. Lipton had told her that her uterus was enlarged, and she had no reason to question her diagnosis. And now, she could press down on her abdomen and feel its hardness inside of her. Already her usually flat abdomen bulged out ever so slightly over the hard area when she laid on her back. It would only be a matter of time. Even without the ultrasound's results, which she wasn't totally ready to believe, she would be coming to the same diagnosis. In fact, if any other female under the age of fifty had come to her with her symptoms, it would have been her first conclusion. But she wasn't any other female. Dana laid in the semi-dark room replaying in her mind Mulder's explanation of how her ova were taken. And tried to imagine under what circumstances he could have been wrong. She replayed the dreams, one at a time in chronological order. Even the last, most painful one. And tried to figure out exactly what could have happened to cause the physical manifestations of the final dream. She believed she was attacked and raped, the evidence proved that, although now she wasn't sure by who. But she was sure that her pregnancy, if it was real, wasn't a result of her rape. The timing wasn't right. Wasn't it possible that the other dreams also had elements of consciousness to them? Wasn't it possible that someone had come in the night and impregnated her? Or at least made love to her? It wasn't like she had resisted her phantom lover. With all these thoughts running through her mind, Dana's eyes became heavy and she feel asleep. She slowly became aware of lying in a sterile examination room, bathed in white light. But this was different than the other nightmares she had about this place. This was not a memory. This was something new. Squinting away from the light, she could see a tray of sterile instruments on gauze. And a hand gloved in latex reaching for and removing a syringe from the tray. Her eyes followed the hand down her body, to a person hidden by her draped legs, which she suddenly realized were strapped to stirrups. She became aware of the pressure of the speculum. She felt the prick of the syringe as it came in contact with her cervix, causing her body to quiver. She began to struggle, only to discover she was also strapped to the table. The hand once again reached for an instrument off the table, this time picking up a curette. Terror rose in her throat with the sudden realization of what was happening. No! she thought. This is not what she wanted! She had wanted a child for so long that she would never willingly let go. She wanted to scream, to jump off the table, and run far away from this horrible place. But she couldn't move or make a sound. Only lay there and listen to her pounding heart. Her eyes followed the hand once again to the instruments. But this time, instead of the gleam of stainless, she realized it had picked up a small box. A box of Morley's. Dana sat straight up in bed, gasping for air. The lamp was still on beside the bed. The television was still glaring quietly, although the movie had given way to an infomercial for a food dehydrator. It had been nothing more than a nightmare, but it had hit very close to home. And sitting up suddenly had done nothing for her stomach. She felt herself gagging even as she leaped out of bed and ran for the toilet with one hand covering her mouth. She barely made it, and as she threw up, she thought about how she was never going to eat Cuban black beans again. The sound of her heaving filled the small bathroom and echoed off the tiles. Finally, it was over, and she wearily reached up to flush the toilet. She was just about to lay her head down on the edge of the seat when a familiar voice startled her. "Do you what to tell me just what in the hell is going on?" She looked up to see Mulder, in his boxers and a new gray Georgetown t-shirt. She absently wondered what had happened to his old one. He was leaning against the door frame, his hair was sticking up, his arms were crossed, and he looked concerned. And pissed. "How long have you been standing there?" "Long enough to watch you puke up most of the dinner I bought you. What's up with you, Scully?" "I'm sick, Mulder. Get a clue." She went ahead and laid her head down on the edge of the toilet seat anyway. It felt wonderfully cool. She closed her eyes and tried to steady her still nauseated stomach. She heard the water running and could sense Mulder moving around next to her. The sensation of cool, wet cloth on the back of her neck startled her again. "Here." She pulled the wet washcloth around to her face and opened her eyes. Mulder was lowering himself onto the bathroom floor to sit cross- legged next to her. He still looked pissed. "Scully, you never just get sick. You eat fried chicken while looking at corpses. You casually examine things that send other agents running from the room retching. You have a stomach of steel." "Even I get sick, Mulder. I am human, you know." With that, she hastily rose to a standing position and pushed past him and out of the room. Dana sat down on the bed with her head in her hands. Please, Mulder, she thought, don't push the issue. But of course, he came striding into the room after her saying, "No, Scully. I think there's more. In the last two weeks, I've personally witnessed you tossing your cookies twice..." "Tossing my cookies, Mulder?" She looked up at him from her hands incredulously. Had he really said tossing your cookies? But he ignored her interruption. "...and I've seen you turn alabaster more times than I can count." He was now right in front of her, and he took her hands and lowered them from her face. "So, what the hell is going on?" She looked up and met his eyes, but only for a moment. And she took a deep breath. "I don't know." Mulder dropped her hands and walked over to the dresser and leaned against it. She could feel his eyes burning a hole in the back of her head. "Do you normally keep things from me, Agent Scully?" She turned to look at him. She wasn't exactly sure what he was implying, but he was definitely in his interrogation mode. "No, I don't." She met his eyes again and this time held the stare. "And you consider yourself pretty open about your personal life?" "What personal life, Mulder? I really don't have one anymore." It was true, but she hadn't meant it to sound as bitter as it came out. "And you would confide in me if you were having any problems with any...uh...substances?" It only took her a second for Mulder's question to hit her in the face. And she was up and yelling. "What the hell are you saying? That I have a drug problem? Where the hell did you get a idea like that?" "Maybe because you're doing a shitty job on this case," Mulder yelled back at her. "Maybe because you've been doing a shitty job on everything for a couple of months now. You're a fucking thousand miles away, Scully. And now you're puking or about to all the time and running to the bathroom every time I turn around. What the hell am I suppose to believe?" "Maybe that I'm sick, Mulder. That I have an ulcer or gastroenteritis. Wouldn't that be easier to believe?" She paused and looked at Mulder hard. Was that how he really felt? That she had been doing a shitty job? His face was totally void of expression, but she could read the rage in his eyes. "Besides, when was I suppose to be doing these illicit substances? You're never more than 2 feet away from me. I can't even turn around without running into you." "I don't know what to believe anymore, Scully," he said bitingly. "You've been doing alot of things out of character lately." What did that mean? Weren't they just discussing about why she was sick? And her job performance? And now she wasn't sure what they were talking about. She sat down hard on the bed. "What are you implying?" Mulder casually leaned back against the dresser and stared her down. "I know, Scully." "Know what?" This game was getting old. "About your nocturnal activities." Obviously, the puzzled look on her face told Mulder he needed to continue. "You're...uh...male friend." "What male friend?" She put her head in her hand. Now she was getting a headache. "The one you've been entertaining in your bedroom." "What?!" Dana looked at him, shocked. She didn't know exactly what he knew. Or if somehow he had crawled inside her head and read her dreams. But he definitely knew some version of the truth. As if to answer her thoughts, he continued. "Your sheets, Dr. Scully. The lab found physical evidence of sperm from two different individuals." "Mulder, I was raped!" She was on her feet again, pacing. Mulder angrily grabbed her arm and stopped her. "By one man. Or do you wish to revise your statement?" For a moment, they just stared at each other. So, Mulder thought she had been with another man. And he was jealous. It was written all over him. Dana smugly felt the balance of power shift to her favor. And a suddenly realization seemed like the way to go. "And neither sample matched Krycek?" she said without breaking their stare. "No." Mulder let go of her arm. "And they didn't find any match?" Mulder dropped his eyes from her. "The tests...one of the samples...was obviously contaminated at the crime scene. It's possible I may have..." "You're the match." She had barely whispered it, but he heard her anyway. "Look, Scully. I was upset. I wasn't thinking about destroying evidence. I just didn't want you to...die." He had actually sounded almost tender and remorseful. But then he caught himself. "But only one of the samples was contaminated. And regardless, it doesn't disguised the fact..." "No, I mean, you're the match. You came up in the database as the match for one of the samples." "Yes, but like..." Mulder stopped and looked at her puzzled. "Scully, you're not implying what I think you're implying?" "No, I'm telling you. I know you're the match!" She had yelled it, almost relieved. "That's impossible." "Is it?" Mulder's mouth dropped. It was very obvious he didn't know what to make of her sudden revelation. So Dana continued. "I experienced it." "Experienced what?" "You, Mulder. You and I. I think it happened in a dream, thirteen dreams, only they weren't dreams. Like my rape, only it wasn't Krycek, and it wasn't rape. It was you." God, she wasn't making any sense. Mulder paused. Was that shock she saw register on his face for a split second? Then he abruptly turned away from her. "It couldn't have, Scully." "Why? Aren't you open to extreme possibilities, Agent Mulder?" She meant it to sound as sarcastically as she said it. He whirled around at her. "No! Yes!" His angry was growing. "Look, don't you think that I'd remember it?" She had to admit, she didn't have a answer for that. And he knew it. "What you're telling me, it's crazy." "Oh, so now I'm crazy, is that it?" "No, Scully. It's just...." She could tell Mulder was trying to find the right words. He took a deep breath. "Maybe this attack has affected you more than you realized. Maybe you should consider taking sometime off." "Post-traumatic stress, Mulder? And what were the dreams before my attack...pre-traumatic stress?" "No. I don't know. Maybe. Look, Dana. I know it didn't happen. You know I'm right. You just need to take some time..." "Damn it, Mulder, it did happen. And I don't need any time. I don't want any time." She sat back down on the bed and waited. She could tell that he wasn't about to believe her. It was more like he was sizing up exactly how crazy he thought she was. Finally, he spoke. "I want you to go back to DC. Tomorrow." She was shocked. "No, I won't...." "I'm pulling you off this case, Agent Scully." He began walking towards the bedside table. "NO!" She jumped up and followed him around the bed. "Look," Mulder turned towards her, "don't make me call Skinner. You know that he will take this much more seriously." "Take what more seriously?" He wasn't paying any attention to her. He had picked up the phone and was dialing. "What, Mulder, that I've lost my mind?" "Maybe." He quickly began to talk into the phone. "Yes, I'd like to make a reservation for tomorrow morning." "Damn it, Mulder. Listen to me!" Her cries were in vain. He wasn't listening. "Yes, one.... Miami to DC....National." "Listen to me!" She had to think of something quick. "Dana Katherine Scully....Visa." And he recited the number from heart. Her next sentence just slipped out, before she had time to stop it. "Mulder, I'm pregnant." He turned and looked at her incredulously, the receiver still to his ear. For the first time ever, Fox Mulder was actually speechless. The voice on the other end brought him back to reality. "Ah...yes...I'm still here." He turned and picked up the pencil on the table and began writing down her flight information on a napkin. "Okay, thanks." Mulder put the receiver down, finished writing, and turned to walk back to the adjoining door to his room. "Your flight information is on the napkin," he said without looking at her. "Wake me up, and I'll drive you to the airport." "Mulder, did you hear me?" "Yes." He turned to look at her from the doorway to his room. "And we both know that's not possible." He turned and went into his room and began to shut the door, then stopped leaving it partially open. "Get some rest, Scully." She just stood in the middle of her motel room, feeling angry and confused. Dana reread the e-mail on her PowerBook to check once again for typos. She had to be extra careful. It had been a long, sleepless night after Mulder had left her. And her fatigue always seemed to cause her to be especially prone to dumb mistakes. To: AD Walter Skinner
From: Dana Scully Re: leave of absence CC: Fox Mulder Due to recent personal developments, I find it impossible at this time to concentrated fully on my work as a FBI special agent. It is because of this that I am requesting a leave of absence, effective immediately. I have surrendered my badge and firearm to my partner, Special Agent Fox Mulder. I know you will understand, sir, when I tell you that I am unable to put a time constraint on my return to duty. I hope that you will respect my request for privacy regarding this matter and allow me to resolve it on my own. Sincerely, Dana K. Scully Dana hit the send button, logged out, unhooked the computer from the airphone in the back of the seat's headrest, and ended her call. She then shut the computer down, closed its top, and leaned back. The previous evening's argument had taken a great toll on her. She wasn't sure how she expected Mulder to react, but she never expected him to accuse her of being mentally ill. After he left her, she had spent the rest of the night packing her things in a rage and formulating a plan. She wasn't about to leave without letting him know that he was wrong. Shortly before dawn, she had left the motel and traveled to an all-night pharmacy. There she had made her purchases, returned to the motel, and put her plan in motion. She left in her rental car without waking Mulder. She looked at her watch. In an hour or so, Agent Beaubrun would be knocking on Mulder's motel door with the manila envelope she had left with him. Beaubrun had very nicely agreed to delivery the contents to Mulder without asking about the specifics of her sudden departure. He had only seemed genuinely disappointed that she was leaving and surprised that she couldn't give Mulder the envelope herself. She had thought about including a note in the envelope, but decided that her rage would only make things between them worse. Instead, she had simply enclosed its contents and decided to let Mulder come to his own conclusions. She imagined his face as he opened the envelope, knowing that it was her handwriting on the outside—Special Agent Fox Mulder the only thing she had written. By now, he would have realized that she had left for the airport without waking him. She wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of a good-bye or even a chance to apologize for his anger the night before. Plus, she seriously doubted he thought an apology was in order. She smiled smugly as she tried to image him emptying the contents of the envelope, probably onto the bed. What was he thinking as each piece dropped out of it, and he processed the implications of what he was looking at? She pictured his face as he looked down on them. Her badge, her gun, and the pink stick with the unmistakable plus sign on one end. She wondered how long it would take him to admit he was wrong.