Title: All in a Day's Work
Author: Jonesy
Rating: R (adult situations, language)
Category: D/S

Authors Notes: I'm pretending that everything after "Three Words" didn't happen. Scully never gave William up for adoption; Mulder provides information for Doggett and Reyes but is no longer an agent. I wrote this last year for a friend.


It had rained for the better part of a week now, not a true torrential downpour...just an annoying sort of drizzle that didn't even warrant an umbrella. She stepped out of her late model sedan onto the wet concrete, taking in the moist air and silently relieved that she'd worn her contacts instead of glasses this morning. Checking her watch and taking a sip of coffee from her Starbucks travel mug, she headed for the entrance of the building, the extra men in uniform and steel barricades now an every day sight. She removed her name badge from her purse and smiled a silent greeting to the otherwise stoic security guard.

Her peers gathered at the elevators chattering on about the scores of the latest `Skins game or discussing THE DA VINCI CODE, a book she had yet to pick up. Lately, her reading material consisted of runaway bunnies and green eggs and ham. And thanks to her former partner who despised the `Skins, she knew more about the starting offense of the New York Giants than she ever wanted to know. She stared at the illuminated UP button; she clicked the down arrow. Her fellow agents disappeared in hoards onto the elevators as she patiently waited for hers. When it finally arrived, she was the only one to step into the car.

If memory served, she knew her former partner was most likely already hard at work, reading over files and finishing his second cup of coffee. She didn't have the heart to tell him that he always made it too strong, a bad habit he'd probably picked up during his time in the Marines. She hated to admit how much she missed harping on the fact that he only drank out of his repulsive faded USMC coffee mug that probably hadn't been washed out since boot camp.

She opened the door to her former office and was greeted by a head of short, spiky hair buried in the red section of USA Today. The Giants had won yesterday according to the front page. That was the sign that today was going to be a good day with him.

"Wet enough for you out there, Agent Scully?" his gravelly voice rumbled throughout the basement.

"Goodmorning to you too, Agent Doggett," she smiled.

"Not too late to turn back..."

"And leave you by yourself? My cadets will probably be more than thrilled to be rid of me for a few days."

"Follmer wants to see us first thing," he said without looking up from his newspaper.

"Right at this second?" she asked, attempting to organize the clutter on Monica's desk. She finally gave up and set her mug on top of a small stack of manila envelopes.

"I say we let him wait."

She grinned. "Keep this up, Agent Doggett, and your love affair with our superior will start to become a hot topic at the water cooler."

He chuckled. "How quickly you forget...We don't warrant a water cooler."


"Asshole," Scully spat as she stomped out of the elevator. Follmer hadn't changed a bit.

Doggett flipped through the new file in his hands, taking a seat at his desk. "You don't have to go, Scully. I'll get someone else..."

She raised an eyebrow. "Who?"

He rubbed the back of his neck and sat on the edge of his desk. "You're uh...you're mom won't mind watching Will while you're gone, will she?"

"She's in San Diego."

"Well, hell, Mulduh probably--"

"Mulder is not a suitable caregiver."

"Who's watching him now?" he asked, wisely sidestepping that particular topic.

"Monica agreed to take him for the day, but with her broken leg...I couldn't possibly ask her to watch him for more than a few hours."

"What'd she do again?"

"Pilates accident at the gym."

"Pi-what?"

"Nevermind."


She could feel the weight of his stare through her closed eyes. She was always somewhat wary of flying and knowing that her son was under the care of a woman with one functioning leg did nothing to make her feel any better. If he so much as opened his mouth, she swore she was going to jam her pen through it, and he seemed to sense that. But that did nothing to stop him from his rude habit of staring. She readjusted her position in her seat and opened her eyes, just in time to catch him looking away.

"We'll be landing shortly," he said quietly.

"Good."

"You ever been to Maine?"

Her hand clenched her armrest. "I don't think so."

Picking up on her sour tone, he sat back and stared out of his window.

"Follmer's gonna pay for this," she said, feeling the need to at least sound a little more civil. It wasn't his fault they were in this predicament.

"Tell me why it is again that we never get cases in locations like Key West...or I dunno, the Bahamas? Malibu? Vegas?"

"Ask Mulder. He started it."


"Hello, Silly Willie," Monica cooed from the couch. William giggled and flapped his hands, obviously excited to be spending his Monday morning sitting in his play pen watching Missy Elliot videos on MTV with his favorite "aunt." She listened to the baby babble to himself as she stared at her television, wishing she was sitting in a car arguing with John, just to see that vein stick out of the side of his neck. It took absolutely no effort on her part to get under his skin and she took full advantage of that. Her ringing phone pulled her back to reality.

"Hello?"

"Monica? Are you still alive?"

Monica read between the lines. "He's fine, Dana. He's all fed and we're watching television."

"I really was checking on you as well. This is too much to ask… maybe you should--"

"Dana. I'm fine. Really. You and John go have fun chasing spacemen in the woods and Willie and I will get our music education on."

She could see Scully rolling her eyes, but relaxing.

"Thank you, Monica. You wouldn't like it out here at all. Nothing but trees."

"John must be in heaven."

"Let me put it this way. Doggett is actually excited that he knows the name of every tree we pass and that he knows more about them than I do."

"Tell Mon to quit faking it!" she heard in the background. Monica rolled her eyes.

"Goodbye, Dana. Don't let John bore you to death. If you encourage him in any way, he will not stop."

"Now you tell me."


"Look, there's a gas station over there!!"

"We are not fucking LOST!"

There were a few occasions when she'd heard Doggett raise his voice at Monica, but he'd never raised it at her. Scully struggled between smashing his face against the steering wheel and jumping out of their rental sedan.

"THEN WHERE ARE WE, AGENT DOGGETT?"

She watched the blood drain from his ears. "Fine. We'll do it your way."

That was easy, she thought. He kept his eyes forward and clenched his jaw, obviously trying not to say anything more.

He pulled hard into the gas station and left the keys in the engine. Maine was much colder than Washington and he didn't want her to nag him about freezing to death on top of everything else. Grumbling under his breath, he closed the door and welcomed the cool air.


Replaying the last ten minutes of her life made her want to turn in her resignation. She wanted to take her son and move to the suburbs where she could run a small family practice and William could grow up with a backyard and a dog. She wouldn't be sitting in a chair in near darkness relying on her FBI training to keep her nerves as cold as ice.

There was a .9 mil in her partner's mouth and she could do nothing about it. He was on his knees, his hands were folded behind his head; she couldn't tell if they were bound or not. The shadows on his face revealed a rather large goose egg developing near his hairline on the left side of his face.

"Don't got too much to say now, do ya, Fed?"

Doggett said nothing, keeping his eyes straight ahead at her, his bruised nose now slightly off kilter and dripping blood. Normally, his eyes betrayed him by relaying his emotions to anyone who knew him. Right now, she couldn't tell what he was feeling. That was a bad sign. She shared his terror, not even caring that a lone tear escaped her right eye, betraying her cool façade.

Her hands remained bound behind her with wire that was cutting into her skin. A pair of hands yanked her hair making it impossible for her to move without making her want to scream out in pain. The lighting in the room was so dim, she could barely make out the features of the men taunting her partner.

That's when she felt the cold steel of a barrel against her temple. The pulse in her throat grew louder in her own ears than her aggressor's heavy breathing. The bastard was getting off on her situation.

"Eenie meenie," a voice beside her giggled.

Doggett's eyes blinked once. She could smell the onions on the breath of the man standing next to her as he continued taunting his catch of the day. She heard the gun cock, realizing she would be first. She closed her eyes, trying to somehow get through to her son, desperately wanting to tell him that Mommy didn't die a simmering coward. She opened her eyes in time to see Doggett's blind rage as he flung his head backward, smashing into the man behind him. What happened next was a blur, but the next thing she knew, Doggett was squeezing off shot after shot after shot into the lifeless bodies that once held his own weapon his mouth, and at the man who'd held a weapon on her.

She jerked in a desperate act to help him, but found the wire cutting into her wrists even deeper than before. She sat back down and thanked God for her flexibility as she sat on her arms, then pulled them under her legs, wincing at the sight of the blood covering her arms.

"You Ok?" her partner's voice thickly cut through the darkness. His voice was foreign and full of raw emotion, his nose completely clogged.

"Are they dead? Both of them?"

"Both of `em in here. There's more, though."

He took her bound arms and the two ran through the blinding darkness, trying to find their way back to civilization. She didn't remember how they'd gotten there. She didn't even remember what happened after they'd taken a wrong turn thanks to the gas station attendant's shitty directions.

They turned another corner and after a sickening blow, she didn't know anything more.


Monica stared at her door, never considering how she would answer it if she was holding Will with her leg propped up on two pillows. They'd spent the entire morning flipping between MTV, MTV2, and VH1. She was sure Dana would probably put the kibosh on any music television in her household, most likely opting for the various Discovery Channels digital cable provided. While Will was under her care, however, she'd make sure he got his fill of pop culture.

"HOLD ON!" she yelled, startling the baby. "Ooh, please don't start crying," she pleaded as he began whimpering.

"It's me, Monica!" she heard through the door.

She carefully laid William on his blanket on the floor, momentarily forgetting that he could scoot around on his own. Hobbling towards the door, she almost lost her balance, but grabbed onto the knob and managed to undo the locks.

"Mulder, what brings you by?"

He frowned, watching his son slowly making his way toward a pile of VOGUE magazines.

"Monica, what the hell is William doing here?"

"...didn't Dana tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"That she and John are in Maine?"

"Yeah, I got her voicemail...but why is he here with you and not with me?"

Monica shrugged. "I'm not getting in between the two of you."

William looked around, recognizing Mulder's voice. Mulder scooped him up then helped Monica towards the couch.

"She probably asked you because I didn't answer my phone. How do you plan on taking care of him if you can't even walk?"

Monica frowned. "Calm down, Super Dad. I'll have help in a few hours."

Mulder's eyes narrowed. "From who?"

"From none of your business."

"It is my business."

"Oh calm down, Mulder. You know he's in good hands."

"I'm taking him with me."

"Oh no you're not. Dana left specific instructions that he is not to leave my sight."

"This is ridiculous."

"You want to know why she didn't call you? Because the last two times you watched him on your own, you LOST him!"

"I can't help it if he likes to disappear on me."

William began whining and reaching for Monica.

"Traitor," Mulder mumbled, handing him over.

"Just call Dana and sort it out. Until then, I'm not letting him leave with you."

Mulder pulled out his cell phone and impatiently waited for Scully to answer her phone. "Scully, when you get this message, call me. I want to know why Monica is watching Will and not me. Oh, and don't let Doggett get on your nerves."

Monica studied Mulder as he put his phone back in his coat.

"You still hate John, don't you?"

"'Hate' is a poor word choice."

She rolled her eyes. "Strongly dislike."

"Close enough."

"You need to get over it. I don't know why the two of you strongly dislike each other, but you could at least try to be civil in front of Will."

Mulder didn't answer.

"Just leave him here. If she calls you and tells you that you can take him, come back. But tell her to call me first."

Mulder stared at the television for a moment. "When's the last time you spoke to her?"

"When their plane landed."

He bit his thumbnail. "When was that?"

"I dunno. Two, three hours ago?"

"And she hasn't called you since?"

"No."

"Whenever I watch him, she calls me every half hour."

"She trusts me more."

Mulder stood up. "Fine. If she calls me, I'm taking him. I don't even believe I'm having this conversation."

"I'm just going by Dana's orders."

"Take care of your leg, Monica."


It was so dark that she wasn't sure if her eyes were open or not. She knew she was lying on a cold cement floor, she knew that the right side of her sore, she knew that her wrists were no longer bound. However, they felt as if she'd had glass embedded in them. Her suit jacket was missing, as were her shoes.

"Doggett?" she croaked.

Nothing. She groped around in the darkness, wondering where she was and if she was alone. After a moment, she came in contact with what she assumed to be a foot. The shoe was missing.

"Doggett?"

She moved toward him, trying to discern the exact location of his chest. She rested her hand there, blowing out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding when she felt it moving. His breaths were shallow, but at least he was still alive. His breathing began picking up a little, but she still couldn't get any sort of vocal response from him.

"Doggett?"

Still nothing. The overwhelming smell of blood filled her nostrils. Hers? His? She wasn't sure.

"Doggett, come on, wake up."

She felt him beginning to stir. "Scully?"

"Are you alright?"

"Jaw hurts," she heard him slur.

"Broken?"

"Nah...bruised..."

She helped him to a sitting position, unable to even visualize a shadow outline of him.

"Where are we?" he asked.

"I don't know."

Her hands were trembling, and she knew it had nothing to do with the temperature of their damp cell.

"What else hurts?"

"I'm Ok, Scully." He sounded drunk.

"Humor me."

"My side," he answered after a beat.

"Where?"

He moved her hand from his chest to his left flank, right over his kidney area. She winced, imagining a bruise in the shape of a work boot over it.

"Where else?"

"Where doesn't it?"

She thought of the goose egg she'd seen on his forehead. "You might have a concussion."

"What about you? Are you hurt?"

"Just my wrists," she lied.

"You sure?"

"Positive."

She could hear him scuffling around. "You have your phone, Scully?"

"No."

"Damn."

They fell silent, both pondering their fates. She soon grew tired of listening to her own heartbeat in her ears.

"What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?"

He didn't answer her.

"Doggett?"

Frowning, she moved closer to him, her shoulder touching his. "Doggett, don't go to sleep."

She felt him shake awake.

"Tell me a story. Anything. Stay awake for a while."

"I don't know any," he slurred again.

"Tell me a story about when you were a kid."

"I was never a kid." At least he hadn't lost his sense of humore. She never appreciated it, though, because it always seemed to kick in when it shouldn't.

"Then tell me about your father."

"No."

"Your mother?"

He didn't answer. At first, she thought he was merely being petulant. Then she realized he'd nodded off again.

"Come on, Doggett, open your eyes."


Monica listened to the steady breathing of the infant lying in his play pen. William was such a happy baby despite the evils trying to prevent him from progressing any further than his infancy stage. He seemed to understand he had a small circle of people willing to lay their lives down for him, and that was enough to let him sleep well at night. Monica almost envied him. She couldn't remember a time she'd slept that well.

She checked the clock above her television, wondering why her cell phone had remained silent. Almost four hours had passed since Mulder's unexpected visit. Sometimes being exceptionally intuitive was a curse. She grabbed her phone and dialed a number.

"Follmer."

"Bradley, what are you doing?"

"Monica, I told you not to abuse this line." Now matter how hard he tried, he could never sound angry with her...only annoyed.

"I have a legitimate reason for calling you."

"Oh?"

"Have you heard from Dana or John?"

"Yes."

"When?"

"When they landed."

Monica frowned. "How long ago was that?"

"Monica, I don't have time--"

"I have a feeling something's wrong."

She heard him sigh.

"I'll check on them if it'll make you feel better."

"Thank you, Brad."

"I'll see you at six."


Follmer arrived at Monica's apartment just before six, using his key to let himself in.

"Monica?"

He found her in the kitchen, leaning against the counter stirring something. William was sitting on a blanket, sucking on a plastic stirring spoon. He stopped when he spotted the blond stranger in the doorway.

"You never called me back. Did you get up with them?"

Follmer took a deep breath. "They haven't checked into their hotel. I know what unbelievable workaholics they can both be, so I checked with the Bangor Police Department...nobody's seen or heard from them yet."

"Damn."

Follmer found himself in a staring contest with the baby. "My God, he looks just like Agent Scully."

"Hold him for a moment, Brad. I have to make a phone call."

Brad stared at William. "If Agent Scully finds out that I had any physical contact with her son, she'll rip out my trachea."

"Stop being so difficult and hold him."

Brad awkwardly carried William, who gave Brad the same unamused look Scully often gave him.

"Who are you calling?"

"Mulder."

"We've contacted everyone relevant to their alleged disappearance, Monica. We're just hoping they got turned around. You know how stubborn they both are. Maybe they spent all day arguing about the quickest route to the crime scene and ended up in Canada. We really don't need Mulder fucking up our investigation."

"Watch your mouth around Will. I'm calling Mulder anyway. I'm not going to just sit around here--"

"You have a broken leg. You have to watch her son. Let us handle this, Ok? I swear, since you've started working here, you've become as distrusting as Mulder and Scully."

"Do you blame me?"

"I have to go back to work. I'm meeting with Skinner and Kersh."

"Fine."

"Keep your phone within reach. I promise I'll keep you updated." He carefully place William in his play pen. Will gurgled and made an exasperated baby noise.

"Brad--"

"Keep a plate warm for me?"

Monica rolled her eyes as he briefly kissed her cheek. "Sure."


Staring up into the darkness, she wondered how much longer it would be before she would see sunlight again...if she'd ever see sunlight again. She wondered how long they'd been in what she was now thinking of as their concrete grave. Judging by the rumble in her stomach, quite a while. Her tongue was stuck to the roof of her mouth.

"Doggett?"

She'd long since given up on trying to keep him awake. Her efforts had proven futile after she heard him snoring. His nose was definitely broken. She'd somehow managed to rest his head in her lap, trying to keep him warm. She vaguely remembered doing this for her previous partner during their fun little outing in the Florida woods. Mulder had made her sing to him, much against her will. What she wouldn't give to hear Doggett wake up and ask her to do the same.

He shifted a little.

"Are you awake now?" she asked.

"Am I?"

"You tell me."

He lifted his head, popping his neck.

"Don't suppose you have any Tylenol?" His speech had cleared somewhat, but she could tell his jaw was a bit stiff.

"I did...but they took my purse."

"Who are these mongrels?" he growled.

"I don't know...but I do know that I'm never going to ask you to stop for directions for as long as I live."

He actually chuckled.

"Are you cold?" he asked after a while.

"No."

"You're shaking."

They were interrupted by a blinding light, causing them both to wince and cover their eyes. Doggett was on his feet in less than a second and ready throw punches with whomever caused their current situation. A burst of raw adrenaline pushed Scully to her feet, ready to help her partner.

The light was unbearable. Even squinting, she couldn't see their captors but could sense them surrounding her. There was too much activity around her. She heard the nauseating sound of flesh thumping flesh and figured Doggett had either executed a good punch or taken one like a man.

Someone insinuated a foot between her own. Her legs went out from underneath her and she was face down on the concrete with someone's workboot against her neck.

"Stay down, bitch," the owner of the boot commanded in a harsh whisper.

Doggett wouldn't let up, though she still couldn't see him. A shot rang out, startling her. She heard an unfamiliar wail. It took a moment for her to realize it came from her partner.

"JOOOOHN!"

"FUCK!"

"BOTH OF YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP NOW!" Another harsh whisper. It was maddening.

Doggett collapsed to the ground, guarding his hand. Scully still had a boot on her neck.

"Take 'em outside," they heard someone hiss.

Two arms hoisted her to a sitting position and a musty hood was pulled over her face. Frustration was getting the better of her, but her gut told her to follow orders. She prayed Doggett wouldn't try to be the hero. She prayed he was still alive.

Cold and disoriented, she could feel a rope bounding her hands together, and then her feet. She was then thrown over someone's shoulder, completely at his mercy.

She refused to cry.

After being shuffled around a bit, the man set her down. Wet grass. They were outside. She could feel it under her stockings and fought the urge to hop away.

It was quiet.

"John?"

Her response was a hard strike to her right cheek. She tasted blood.

"No talking. Strip." More whispers, this time coming from her left side.

Her heart stopped beating as the ropes around her hands were cut by a phantom knife.

"Both of you smell like blood. The cops show up, those dogs'll smell you a mile away. Strip," someone hissed behind her.

She remained still, wondering where Doggett was and what state he was in.

"Lady, if you don't stop fucking fighting me every step of the way, I'll kill him," came a whisper from the right.

Somewhere, she heard a gun cock. Her trembling hands attempted to work the buttons to her torn shirt.

"I'll do it," came the whisper from the right again.

"No, I've got it," she stated, her voice amazingly steady under the circumstances. She removed the remainder of her clothes, attempting to cover herself with her arms.

She refused to cry.

The first blast of icy water seemed to cut through her skin, drenching her to the bone. She felt as if they were not only washing away the grime, but ripping her skin completely apart. It soaked her for what seemed like an eternity.

Suddenly, the water stopped and she was left naked and shivering with the hood over her face. She felt someone hand her a towel.


The next morning found Mulder pouring over a video handed to him by a local agent. He and Follmer were sitting in one of the A/V rooms in the Bangor Police Department. It was barely five o'clock and the coffee was stale.

"There," he said, pausing it. It was a grainy video of footage obtained by an ATM camera showing Scully's face as she entered her PIN number. Mulder's eyes narrowed as he tried to pick up on anything the other agents and police officers might have missed. However, it only showed Scully removing her money then turning her head and glancing at Doggett, who was sitting in the driver's seat of their rental car unfolding a map.

"The time frame is consistent...so far nothing out of the ordinary," Follmer remarked. The two watched the footage for a moment longer.

"This doesn't get us anywhere," Mulder spat, hitting OFF and slamming the remote on the desk.

"Mr. Mulder, please remind yourself that the only reason you're here is to help. If I had my way, you'd be at home watching your child instead of making our investigation worse. If you'd like to be helpful, I'd suggest you not break any of the equipment up here because if Kersh gets stiffed with the bill, he'll have you thrown into a federal prison."

"What else is there?"

"Nothing more. The ATM video is the last record we have...and that ATM is right around the corner from the airport."

Mulder rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"Stay out of everyone's way, Mr. Mulder. We will get to the bottom of this."

Mulder muttered a few obscenities under his breath. Follmer's phone began playing a mechanical interpretation of "God Save the Queen." Glancing at the caller ID, he flipped it open.

"Yes?"

"Brad, Lester Holt is on MSNBC with breaking news about two missing FBI Agents. He hasn't mentioned their names yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time."

"DAMMIT! Who the hell leaked that--"

"--have you guys contacted Dana's mother yet?"

"Mulder did last night. He told me she's returning from her trip. Agent Doggett's only listed emergency contact is ex-wife, but we weren't able to get in touch with her. Do you know anyone else we could call?"

Monica thought for a moment. "No. She's all he has left."

"Fine. Call her again. I have to go," he said, watching Skinner and a few of local agents leaving the field office. He hurried after them, finding Skinner closing his own cell phone.

"Our window is closing, Brad," Skinner stated, staring at his watch.

"We'll find them. We have teams combing the woods--"

"I'm going to regret asking this," Skinner began, interrupting him, "but where the hell is Mulder?"

"He's...here. Just arrived about an hour ago."

Skinner groaned. "Once a pain in the ass, always a pain in the ass."


They didn't speak for a long time. She absently picked at the oversized sweats provided for them by their captors, occasionally looking out into the darkness.

"Dana?" she heard from the corner. His voice was thick and foreign to her, thanks to his broken nose.

"How's your arm?" she asked. When one of their captors had let out a warning shot, the bullet had ricocheted and burned Doggett's arm.

"It's fine."

"Bypassing your usual tough guy responses...are you alright?"

He was quiet. She almost yelped when she heard his voice to her immediate left. "I can't warm up."

"Neither can I."

She felt his icy arm wrapping around her, moving her closer to him until they were both comfortable. She forced herself to relax in his embrace, convincing herself that the only purpose of their proximity was warmth.

"These guys are good," he said quietly. "We can't hear their voices...we can't see them...we couldn't identify them if we wanted to."

She thought about the contents of the case file she'd last read on the plane. Two deputies had disappeared in the woods a few weeks before during their investigation of strange occurrences in the woods. There was no trace of them whatsoever. Their vehicle was gone, no tracks, nothing placing them anywhere near where they said they'd be. After hitting wall after wall, the police department finally contacted the FBI. Follmer put them on the case because of the unusual circumstances.

"I wonder if we've already solve this case," Scully said.

"If we have, where are those deputies?"

"That's what I like about you, Doggett. Always the optimist."

"On the contrary, Scully. I don't plan on dying like this. We have an idea of how these guys operate now. We're gonna beat them at their own game."

"How do we plan on doing that?"

"I don't know yet. But they will present a window of opportunity, and when they do, we're taking it."

"And if we fail?"

She felt his grip around her tighten. "We're not going to fail. You have to get home to your boy. Your cadets need you. Mulduh needs you to keep him out of trouble."

"You'd better come with me. I'm not leaving here without you."

Doggett sighed. "You'll be fine without me, Dana."

She pulled away from him. "If your idea of getting us out of here involves you getting killed, you'd better rethink your strategy."

"You have more to lose than I do. If it comes down to it--"

"No. This is all or none, Doggett. You're not leaving me alone."

"You won't be alone," he scoffed.

"Don't try to argue this with me because you won't win. You're not going to do anything stupid. You're not going to be the hero. If I'm going home, you'd better be right there with me."

She stood up in the darkness, feeling her way along the concrete wall and trying to reach the ceiling, but finding herself too short.

"How the hell did we get in here anyway?"

"It opened from the top," he answered. "We're in some sort of cellar or something."

"How far up does it go?"

She heard him stand up and walk toward her voice.

"Put it this way, I can't reach it," he answered after a bit. "Probably locked anyway."

"Damn."

"I could put you on my shoulders and see if you could reach the top." She could hear the smile in his voice.

"Shut up."

He laughed as she felt her way around a little more, finding that there was no alternate way out.

A hand brushed against her face causing her to yelp.

"What?" she heard from a few feet away from her.

"That was my face, Doggett!"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

His voice was out of reach. Her heart began to beat against her ribs. "Are you sitting down?"

"Yeah. Sorry. My head is killing me."

She attempted to swallow a few times, blindly holding her hands out front of her and touching nothing but the air.

"You alright, Dana?"

"Yes. I'm...cold again," she said, hurrying over to his voice.

"Sure you are. I'm starting to think that you just want to take advantage of me," he said, wrapping his good arm around her again.

"If you get us out of here, I promise to take full advantage of you," she said. He laughed again, but stopped short when he realized she was trembling.


Spitting out a sunflower seed husk, Mulder squinted against the afternoon sun, ignoring the buzzing of the search copter above his head. He watched the other agents scouring the thick woods for any clues leading to the whereabouts of his best friend and her former partner. He spit out another husk, something on the ground catching his eye. An earring. A small, simple golden hoop earring.

Thinking back on all of his years with Scully, he never remembered her wearing anything more than gold studs until after he returned. She'd grown out her hair and began wearing tailored suits, opting to leave the first few buttons of her shirts undone. He figured motherhood had done that to her. He told himself it was motherhood and motherhood alone, not that elf-eared bloodhound with the mutt accent that had stolen his desk.

He directed his attention back to the earring, knowing it could be Scully's or any other woman's in the state of Maine. This area of woods appeared untouched with a thick underbrush and lots of rocks. Not exactly the ideal hiking or camping conditions.

He put the earring in his pocket, concentrating on the surrounding area, listening to the murmurings of the surrounding search party. He crouched low, avoiding a patch of poison ivy and pushing some of the fallen leaves around.

He pulled out his flashlight for a better look, the trees obscuring the light from the sun. A small imprint of a shoe with a heel. Could be Scully's or any other woman's in the state of Maine. But not many women he knew would wear heels out to the woods...except Scully.


Her caller ID read "Barbara Harrison." The last time Doggett had gone up to New York, he'd said goodbye to Luke, Barbara, and his entire former life. She supposed Barbara had done the same thing by dropping his last name. Monica took a deep breath.

"Hi, Barbara."

"Monica, what the hell happened? I just got back into town and listened to my messages from an Assistant Director Follmer...and then you...and then I turned on the news..."

"We're trying to piece it together." Monica gave her a quick rundown of things, starting with her broken leg and ending with her last conversation with Follmer.

"Are you still there?" Monica asked, keeping one eye on the television and the other on Scully's napping son.

"Yes. I just...I hope they're Ok."

"If it's any consolation, I know they're still alive."

She knew John had told Barbara that her intuition was pure bullshit, but Barbara always seemed to believe her.

"Please keep me updated, Monica."


"Is your mother your emergency contact?" Doggett asked. They were sitting with their backs against one another's, finding that the wall was getting too hard. Doggett's muscular back did nothing for her comfort considering she could feel his ribs. She promised that if and when they got out of there, she was going to cook a decent meal for him. In the meantime, there was no way she was separating herself from him again, especially if they weren't exactly alone in their cell.

"Yes. You're next on the list. I never got around to switching it to Mulder."

That hadn't come out the way she'd intended. Feeling the need to rectify the situation, she cleared her throat. "But I don't think I will. Nobody can ever get ahold of him anyway."

"Earlier, you told me he wasn't a suitable caregiver. How come?"

"It's a long story."

"Dana, we've been sitting here for hours. Maybe a day. Doesn't look like we're going anywhere soon. I'm just trying to make conversation so I can keep my mind off the cheesesteak I'm gonna get when we get out of here."

"When we get out of here, I'm sharing that cheesesteak."

He gasped in mock horror. "Dr. Scully, surely you're aware of the fat content in a cheesesteak."

"Oh stop it. You've seen me eat junk food before."

"When?"

She thought for a moment, then said, "Remember that case in Louisiana? We shared a pizza."

"Veggie pizza doesn't count as junk food."

They shared a comfortable silence.

"Dana?"

"Yes?"

"You were saying?"

"Was I?"

"About Mulduh..."

She realized how much easier it was to talk to him when she couldn't see him. "I thought things had started changing between us. I thought maybe he was ready to settle down and have a family. I never obligated him to be William's dad. I just needed him to be his father. I thought the rest would just come naturally."

"He loves that kid, Dana. You know that."

"He puts his pursuit of keeping William safe in front of raising William. He barely sees him when he's actually in town, and the very last time I let him watch him, he 'misplaced' Will. After he found him, he dropped him off at my mother's house. He had him an entire 45 minutes, half of which was spent searching for William and then driving over to my mother's."

"His heart's in the right place."

"Don't you dare try to defend him."

"I'm not defending him. I just understand where he's coming from. I was him a couple years ago."

She closed her eyes, wishing she'd quit putting her foot in her mouth.

"Since we're supposed to be killing time, Doggett...tell me about your family. I've known you for a long time now and you've never even mentioned them once. Where are they?"

"Thought I told you about them before."

"Nice try."

He took a deep breath. "Not very exciting. I was a military brat like you. Lived all over the States until my dad retired and moved us back to his old neighborhood in New York. He was a cop and was shot in the line of duty. My grandparents raised me and died while I was in the service."

"What about your mom?"

"She was an ER nurse. Worked the night shift. I guess the hours didn't agree with my parents' marriage. She left us before he died. Haven't heard from her since. I need to stretch my legs."

He stood up and she could hear his knees pop. She heard him move towards the opposite end of the cellar, cracking his neck.

She settled against the wall, rested her head against it and staring up into nothing. She felt a hand close around her ankle.

"It's just me, Doggett."

"What?" he asked from the other side of the cell.

She immediately stood and hurried toward him, slamming right into him and almost knocking him over.

"What has gotten into you?" he asked, steadying himself. She had quite a grip on his sweatshirt and wasn't going to let go any time soon.

"I don't think we're alone down here."

Doggett let the words sink in before saying anything more. "Dana. There's only us. I promise."

"How do you know? How do you know there's not someone in the corner unable to speak?!"

"What are you talking about?"

"I felt someone touch my face earlier...and just now, someone grabbed my ankle."

Frowning, he unclasped her hands from his shirt and walked in the direction from which she came.

"Hello? Someone there?"

They were answered with silence.

"Hello?"


Will was holding onto the side of his playpen and bouncing up and down. "If you start walking before your mother gets home, she'll never forgive me."

Monica toyed with her phone, waiting for an update from Follmer. There was an unexpected knock at her door. She hoisted her heavy leg off of the couch and limped over to it. In her doorway stood a tall man with an obnoxious eyebrow and his equally-worried mother.

"Mrs. Scully..."

"Any news yet, Monica? Did they find them?" she asked, motioning for her son to help Monica back to the couch. William squealed, recognizing his grandmother. She hoisted him onto her hip and kissed his small head.

"Bill Scully. Dana's older brother," the man stated in a professional tone.

"Nice to meet you. Wish it was under different circumstances. I spoke with Assistant Director Follmer about an hour ago. They've managed to locate their rental car...but nothing more."


"You think I'm crazy, don't you?"

Doggett was lying on the cold concrete with his good arm folded behind his head and the other resting on his abdomen next to Scully's head. She was lying perpendicular to him, using him a pillow, trying to ignore the aching and stiffness in her body.

"Is that a loaded question?" he asked.

"JOHN!"

Chuckling softly he said, "You know as well as I do about the effects of sensory deprivation...then tack on possible dehydration. Sometimes we could see stuff that isn't there."

"I didn't see anything. I felt it," she insisted.

"No, I don't think you're crazy," he said, absently stroking her hair. She felt his stomach grumble.

"Sorry."

"Don't apologize. My stomach's doing the same thing."

Doggett sat up unexpectedly, causing Scully to do the same.

"What?"

"Shh."

She strained her ears, trying to pick up anything more than the sound of her own breathing. She heard him stand up and slowly move to the other side of the cell.

"Doggett."

"Did you hear that?"

"No."

She didn't care what he said about sensory deprivation. Of course, the thought had crossed her mind that the phantom touches existed only in her head, until it happened twice. Not wanting to risk feeling it again, she felt her way along the wall until she locked onto the soft material of his sweatshirt.

"What did you hear?"

"I thought I heard...a scratching."

"A scratching?"

"Like fingernails against concrete."

They were both quiet, listening for it again. The silence thundered throughout her head.

"You're not the only one cracking up," he said.

"I thought you just said I wasn't."

"Just trying to make you feel better."

"Do you have a plan yet?" she asked.

"I'm still working on it."

"Feel free to share."


The sun had set hours before. Follmer and Skinner had finished off what seemed like their tenth pot of coffee, both spending most of the day on the phone.

"What did Kersh have to say?" Follmer asked, clicking his pen on and off.

"You don't want to know," Skinner remarked, cleaning his glasses.

A deputy caught Follmer's attention from across the room.

"Sir? There's a phone call on line 3 that you really want to take. It's a man claiming he knows where your agents are."

Follmer hurried over to the phone where another deputy was setting up to record the conversation. He waited for a few moments and then took the cue to begin talking.

"This is Assistant Director Brad Follmer. To whom am I speaking?"


"Dana?"

Scully slowly lifted her head from his shoulder, stifling a yawn.

"They're coming."

She was wide awake as the ceiling disappeared and was replaced with that same blinding light. Again, the light was quickly replaced with dark hoods.

"They want proof of life. If either of you tries to escape, no proof will exist," a voice hissed into Scully's ear as her hands were bound behind her back. She allowed them to carry her out of their cell again, once again feeling damp grass underneath her bare feet. She awkwardly stumbled along as a strong arm led her to another unknown location.

The grass was quickly replaced with what felt like a wooden floor. It was slightly warmer in whatever room she was in, but not much. There was an undertone of stale cigarettes in the air.

"I'm putting a phone to your ear. Tell them you're alive and nothing more."

She heard Doggett's muffled voice through the hood state, "This is John Doggett...yeah, it's me, sir..."

Scully swallowed a few times and felt the phone receiver held to her ear.

"This is Dana Scully."

"Agent Scully--" she heard before the receiver was yanked away.

"Put them back," a voice whispered.

As soon as she felt the grass again, she heard Doggett boldly ask, "Can we at least get some water?"

She heard a distinct thump and realized that was the only answer they were going to get.

After a moment, she was flung back over a shoulder and felt their descent back into the cell. Her hood was roughly removed and replaced with the white light. They didn't bother to untie her hands. She shielded her eyes until the light disappeared and the entrance closed.

"Doggett?"

The cell was silent. She wondered if they'd knocked him unconscious. She moved around, trying to locate his body.

"John? Are you here?"

A sickening realization settled in. She was now alone.


"I'm going up there." Monica balanced her phone on her shoulder as she threw a few sets of clothes into her suitcase.

"I'll meet you. This waiting is killing me," Barbara said on the other end.

"I've already booked an emergency flight for me and Dana's mother and brother. I can get one for you as well considering you're John's only real family."

"Please do."

She hung up the phone and hunted for her keys. She'd allowed Mrs. Scully to take William with her, knowing that Dana wouldn't care.


Follmer rested his head in his hands. His suit jacket had since found it's way to the back of a chair somewhere in the building, but he wasn't sure which one. His sleeves were rolled up, and he hadn't slept in roughly 36 hours. He stared at the phone, wondering if they'd get another call from the kidnappers.

"Five million dollars," Skinner muttered more to himself than anyone else.

The kidnappers hadn't given them much hope that Doggett and Scully would be alive for much longer if the FBI dragged their heels about awarding them their requested ransom.

"Do we have any more information about the missing deputies?" Skinner asked.

"Nothing. We still have nothing."

"Any word from Mulder?"

"I spoke with him earlier. Aside from finding their car, he said the trail is essentially dead. However, you and I both know he won't rest until he finds them."

"Kersh is pissed. He's threatening our jobs if we don't produce something tangible within the next ten hours."

"Far as I'm concerned, Walter, he can take my job and shove it up his ass."

"Take a nap, Brad. I'll watch the phone."


She paced back in forth in the middle of the cell, keeping her ears open for anything out of the ordinary. With Doggett missing, she had no one to keep her mind off of her hunger or thirst. She had no one to keep her mind off of missing her son. She'd never gone this long without seeing him.

Tears sprung to her eyes as she pictured her Will's adoring face. He was growing so fast. She wondered if he realized she was missing.

This stupid case. She all but jumped at the chance to get to work with Doggett again. Working in Quantico was practical for a single working mother, but working in the field with her former partner seemed enormously appealing at the time. She hadn't realized how much she'd missed him until she walked through the doors and found him sitting with the newspaper. She and Monica were in constant contact, both of them surrounded by nothing but men. Doggett always acted as if he was interrupting her life and only dropped by when invited. And then there was the bad blood existing between Doggett and Mulder...it was dangerous to be close friends with two overprotective alpha males.

She wiped her eyes, wishing she could feel him next to her. Her mind wouldn't allow her to envision what those sonsofbitches might be putting him through.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a scratching noise. It was exactly as Doggett had described it earlier. Fingernails against concrete. Rats? Surely there weren't any rats down there.

She heard it again.

"Hello?" she asked, licking her dry lips.

The scratching was coming from the opposite corner. Ignoring her gut feeling to crawl up into a ball and pray she'd wake up from this nightmare, she took a step toward the noise.

"Hello?"

Dammit, John, she thought. Where the hell are you when I need you?

As soon as she reached the corner, the scratching stopped.

Something grabbed her ankle.


By now, most of the search parties had given up for the night. Mulder readjusted his coat and kept his flashlight close to him. Two locals who'd refused to quiet had joined him, the three of them quiet in their search. It was their second night out and it was freezing. Nights like these reminded him why moving away from Massachusetts was the best thing he'd ever done.

"Mulder..." one of the men whispered to him from a few feet ahead.

"You see something, Jackson?"

Jackson was crouched low, holding his index finger to his lips. Mulder and the man behind him hurried over. They both turned off their flashlights and looked in the direction of Jackson's pointed finger.

"It's an old hunting shack," Jackson whispered. "I saw a light over there."

"Ya damn fool...how do you know it's not just someone staying there for the night? It's hunting season," the other man remarked.

"It's two in the morning. Why would there be a light on?"

"Maybe whoever's there had to take a leak."

"Quiet," Mulder commanded, barely able to make out the silhouette of the shack against the moonlight.

The three men stayed put, waiting. Jackson's brother was one of the missing deputies. Mulder had already warned the two men that if they were to locate them, let Mulder handle it. Anyone able to kidnap sheriff's deputies and/or FBI agents had to be armed and dangerous.


"Where are they?" Follmer asked, rubbing his scratchy chin.

"At the Holiday Inn down the block," Monica said.

Barbara stood next to her, handing Follmer a couple of sub sandwiches. "Barbara Harrison."

Follmer blinked his blood shot eyes. "Agent's Doggett's ex-wife."

"Yes, sir."

"No need for the formalities right now, Ms. Harrison. I want to assure you that we're doing everything we can."

"I know. Just don't give up on them, Ok?"

"We won't. I have to get back to work now. Agent Reyes, please see to it that Agent Scully's family and of course, Ms. Harrison, are taken care of. It's on our tab."

Barbara shook his hand and waited for Monica by the door. Once she was out of earshot, Monica whispered, "Still nothing?"

"Nothing."

She closed her eyes, fighting tears. Acutely aware that there were eyes everywhere, Follmer sighed. "Go stay with them, Monica. I'll call you the moment we get an update from our field agents. And Mr. Mulder."

"You look awful, Bradley. Take a nap."

He forced a small smile. "You sound like Skinner."

"He calls you Bradley?"

Chuckling, he answered, "Go, Monica. I'll talk to you later."


Jackson was sleeping against a nearby tree. The other man, Cunningham, was rustling through his knapsack, cussing as he searched for his strawberry Pop Tarts. Mulder finished off his granola bar and apple juice that managed to remain cool thanks to the rapidly dropping temperature. He wouldn't be surprised if it started snowing by the end of the week. It was times like these that he believed moving out of New England was one of the best decisions of his life.

The sun was slowly rising over the horizon, burning his eyes and reminding him that he'd barely slept since he'd joined the investigation.

"We're wasting time," Cunningham growled, reminding Mulder why he liked working alone.

"Keep your voice down," Mulder warned.

"You used to be FBI...but you're not now, right?"

Mulder did not appreciate the man's tone. "Right."

"This is some bullshit," Cunningham stated, beginning to stand. Mulder yanked him back down as three figures emerged from the shack. Two were in full SWAT gear, the third in all camouflage. All of their faces were covered by ski masks; all were fully armed with assault rifles.

Mulder glanced over at Jackson, who was still sleeping and fully hidden behind the tree.

"Shit," Cunningham whispered.


She'd lost all concept of time. She'd lain with her head to the cold concrete for what she assumed was hours, but by all accounts could have been longer than that. She absently scratched her fingernails against the concrete wall. It had been hours...perhaps longer since she'd last felt the phantom hands. It had been hours since she'd last heard the scratching on the other side.

"Hello?"

Her tongue felt sticky and thick. It was difficult to swallow now, and she could barely muster the strength to raise her head. In her mind, she kept recounting the same information. Signs of dehydration can include but may not be limited to irritability, lightheadedness, tachycardia, low blood pressure, hallucinations. Over and over again.

"Hello?"

Her own voice sounded foreign to her now. "Hello?" she whispered.

"Dana."

She blinked a few times, her eyes feeling dry. It occurred to her that she was missing her contacts, but wondered when she actually lost them.

"Dana."

It was a feminine voice, not the voice she wanted to hear.

"Who's there?"

"It's me, Dana." She could barely make out the dark silhouette surrounded by an eerie blue glow. Her breath hitched in her chest.

"Missy?" She ignored the tugging at the base of her skull, warning signs that she needed to wake up. "Get me out of here, Missy."

"Soon, Dana. Soon."

"Is John alive? Tell me he's alive."

"Soon."

And just as fast as she appeared, she was gone. Scully opened her eyes and found that she'd filed her nail down against the wall.

"John?"


Follmer jumped awake to find Skinner shaking him.

"We have to go, Brad. Get your coat."

Follmer rubbed his eyes and immediately stood up, following Skinner throughout the chaotic squad room. Every deputy at his or her respective desk was on the phone. Every other one was heading for the lobby. Follmer snapped his service weapon in place and grabbed a stray coat on a desk, not caring whose it was.

"Are they alive? Did we find them?"

"Got a call from Mulder, but he had to be brief."


"Fucking feds! I knew they wouldn't make this easy! They wanna play hardball, we'll play. Kill the guy. She'll come in handy tonight."

Mulder's fists clenched. Cunningham promptly unlocked his rifle.

"I told you to let me handle this."

"There's only three of 'em--"

"--that we see. There could be more. Just wait for everyone else to show."

Jackson began coming around. He looked over at Cunningham and Mulder and readjusted his camouflaged ball cap.

"Get down," Mulder mouthed. Jackson slithered towards his companions, noticing the men at the shack for the first time.

"That them?"

Mulder nodded. Somewhere in the distance, he heard braying hounds. He looked up and saw both deputies and agents slowly making their way towards them. Turning his attention back to the shack, he saw the door open. He inhaled sharply as he saw a man with his hands tied behind his back in military-green sweats stained with blood being dragged by two men in camouflage. He was barefooted with a black hood over his face and he looked as if he was unable to stand on his own.

The victim had the same build as Doggett.

They set him on the ground and began talking amongst themselves. Fueled by nothing but pure adrenaline, Mulder gave the signal.

end Part Eight

PART NINE

There were too many people surrounding the shack. Too many FBI Agents and civilians, all in heavy clothes, all in some form of camouflage. In all of the confusion, he lost sight of Doggett. He ran up behind the shack, escaping flying a bullet, his heart pounding and sweat dripping down the sides of his face despite the cold.

"AGENT DOGGETT!"

He spotted a large creek about 800 feet away that led further down the way into a river. He barely made out three figures by the bank who were all struggling and fighting each other. One of the men was in SWAT gear, one was in camouflage, one was barefoot in dirty green sweats. Someone's weapon discharged, almost stopping Mulder in his tracks. One of the men fell into the water and the other two scurried off in different directions.

Mulder felt his heart skip. "Oh shit," he muttered as he ran toward the bank. Before he could reach it, something blindsided him, rendering him unconscious.


She covered her ears. The sudden spray of bullets had startled her, shaking her from a restless sleep. She curled into a ball, trying to stay warm, but finding her toes were numb.

Her throat started burning eyes began tearing up, wasting precious fluid that she didn't have. She was not ready to accept her fate. It was unfair, it was cruel, but she was too tired to fight anymore. She knew there was no way Doggett could have survived the amount of gunfire she heard, however, her mind would not allow her to even entertain the thought of his death.

She squeezed her eyes shut, picturing her son sitting quietly in the corner by the window of their apartment, watching the rays of the afternoon sun making him glow.

After an eternity, all was quiet.


Follmer took in the surroundings. Five perps total; two of them dead. The remaining three, two in SWAT gear and one in camouflage, lay face down on the ground with their hands over their covered heads.

"I'm taking your cuffs," he told a nearby agent whose weapon remained trained on them.

He cuffed the first man in SWAT gear and roughly pulled him up to a sitting postion. He ripped the man's ski mask from his face, blinking.

"Deputy Arnold..."

The "missing" deputy's hard eyes turned downward.

"WHERE ARE THEY, YOU PIECE OF SHIT?!"

"Fuck you."

Looking back, Follmer blamed his actions on his lack of sleep. He punched Deputy Arnold square in the face, momentarily stunning him.

"Where?"

"FUCK YOU!"

Skinner pulled Follmer back. "Put 'em in a wagon and lock 'em up," Skinner ordered. "We'll deal with them in a moment."

Panting, Follmer glared at Skinner. "The longer we wait, the more danger they could--"

"--we're working on that," Skinner interrupted, pointing his thumb over his shoulder. A search volunteer was working on a lock over a heavy wooden plank.


Scully slowly opened her eyes and was immediately assaulted by the stench of bleach and blood. She rubbed her eyes, wondering if she was dreaming or if the lights really had returned. She looked down at her well-worn hospital gown and the IV disappearing into her left arm. A hand-held call bell lay on the bed beside her. She waited a few moments before pushing the nurse call button.

Before long, a middle-aged woman in light-colored scrubs appeared in the doorway.

"Welcome back, Agent Scully. How are you feeling?"

"Dizzy."

"Too be expected."

"What day is it?"

"Thursday night."

"Thursday night..."

"You were there almost four days with no food or water. That's why you're dizzy."

Scully said nothing more as the nurse went through the motions of obtaining her vitals and checking her IV fluids.

"I'll be back with another bag. Would you like something to eat?"

Choking back tears, she whispered, "A cheesesteak."

"Jello it is. Let's not shock your stomach."

Her nurse disappeared and the room suddenly seemed too quiet. She turned on the television and quickly found Headline News. The newscaster was just finishing an update on two missing FBI Agents. She saw her badge picture flash across the screen and the newscaster stated she was in "stable" condition.

"The status of Agent John Doggett is still undetermined at this time. In other news..."

She quickly changed the channel. Someone knocked lightly at her door.

"Dana?"

"Mom."

Mrs. Scully hurried over to her, embracing her daughter, refusing to let go. Scully saw her brother holding her son in the doorway and she immediately reached out to them as well. She carefully took her sleeping son into her arms and rested her head against his.

"Are you in pain, Dana?" Bill asked, sitting on her bed and kissing her.

"No. A little sore, but I'm fine. Where's Mulder? Has anyone called Monica?"

"Slow down...Mulder," Bill said, attempting to keep his voice neutral when saying his name, "is still out looking for Agent Doggett. That's all I know."

Scully closed her eyes, rubbing William's back.

"Monica is here. She and Barbara went to get something to eat."

"Barbara? John's ex?"

"Yes."

"What happened, Dana?" he asked.

She shook her head. "I'm not even sure. We got a little turned around..."

Skinner cleared his throat from the doorway. Bill shook his hand and Maggie stood.

"We'll be right back, Dana. We'll get Monica and Barbara. Would you like us to take William?"

"No, Mom. He's fine," Scully answered. William hadn't stirred.

Skinner sat down in the chair by her bed. "We believe we got them all, Dana. We still have search teams out making sure there weren't any strays."

She nodded. "And John?"

Skinner looked away. "Mulder's looking for him with some of the other deputies..."

Scully could sense Skinner was trying his hardest not to let too much information slip.

"The uh...the men who kidnapped you both...were led by the deputies you were trying to find."

She frowned, tasting the hatred for them. "Bastards."

"Money. This whole thing was about money."

"Where is John?"

Skinner suddenly found the off-colored tile extremely interesting.

"Sir..."

"They're combing the river for his body."

She swallowed a few times, unable to stop the tears in front of her boss and friend. He awkwardly touched her shoulder but she shrugged him off.

"Dana--"

"Tell me when they find him. Please." She rocked william back and forth. "Please."

He nodded and left her room.


Barbara and Monica entered the room with Bill and Mrs. Scully finding Scully half-heartedly swallowing a dish of red jello. William remained asleep in bed beside his mother.

"I hope that's sugar-free jello. We don't want your yoga lessons to go to waste."

Scully choked down a laugh at Monica's ill-timed attempt at humor as she awkwardly maneuvered to Scully's bed with her heavy cast. Both Monica and Barbara looked as if they'd spent the last half hour crying. Scully hugged them both, even though she'd only spoken with Barbara for a grand total of fifteen minutes the year before.

"Did you talk to Skinner?" Monica asked.

"Yes." Scully stared at her jello, unwilling to say anything more about the matter for the time-being.

Monica studied her bruised partner in crime and stated, "He's not dead."

Barbara frowned. "What?"

"I wasn't sure before, but now I just know it. I see you now, Dana...I can't explain it. I can feel it. He's not dead and we're not leaving here until we know the truth."

Bill Scully rolled his eyes and excused himself.


They all lost a night of searching thanks to the thick fog even their Mag-Lites couldn't penetrate. Catching a few hours of much- needed shut eye had refreshed Mulder, who'd set out again as soon as the morning sun began burning the fog away.

"DOGGETT!"

It smelled like snow. Mulder hiked along the creek, puffing out billows of smoke, rubbing his numb ears with his gloves. He long since lost sight of Jackson (who'd been made aware that his own brother was one of the perps) and Cunningham (who'd given up on Doggett being alive and went home). His walkie-talkie consisted of nothing but idle chatter amongst the remaining search parties.

"DOGGETT!"

He stopped short when he noticed an unmoving shape up ahead. Upon further inspection, he found the shape was actually a man wearing water-logged green sweats and a black hood over his head, a large hole blown through his chest. Mulder suddenly felt nauseous, closing his eyes. It was no secret that he wasn't overly fond of Doggett, but he in no way ever wished him dead.

"No..."

He carefully approached the body and slowly removed the ski mask.

"What the--"

Next to him, he heard a safety click off.

Mulder held his hands up and slowly turned to his right, finding a broken man in wet camouflaged cargos and a torn green shirt leaning against a tree and shivering. There was a rather ugly goose egg at the man's hairline, his right eye was purple and swollen shut. The man immediately lowered his weapon, setting it aside on a patch of fallen leaves.

"Thought you were one of 'em...there's still one left...he's out there somewhere..."

Mulder let out a deep breath, almost grinning. "Doggett!"

Doggett licked his chapped lips and winced, guarding his left side. He had a nasty burn on his right forearm. Mulder immediately dropped down and removed his coat, putting it around Doggett.

"I had to get the keys...Dana's underground..." he said, holding up a set of keys. "She'll freeze to death."

Mulder frowned, listening to Doggett slur his words. He realized he was barely moving his jaw. "I have to get you out of here before you freeze to death. We already got Scully, Ok? She's Ok."

"Gotta get her out of the ground..."

"Where are you hurt?"

"She's not wearing shoes..."

"Focus, Doggett...where are you hurt?"


"Everyone you work with is crazy," Bill remarked, helping Scully with her sweater.

"Monica means well, Bill."

"That's what you told me about Mulder. Were they separated at birth?"

"Can we not do this right now?"

William bounced up and down, holding onto one of the bedrails. He let out a happy squeal and fell back down to a sitting position. Bill grinned. "He'll be walking soon."

Scully gave him a slight smile then winced as she picked up her energetic son. Every muscle in her body still ached. Mrs. Scully reappeared with Monica and Barbara.

"Your nurse is on her way to discharge you."

"Good. Any word yet?" she asked Monica.

"Not yet."

They all sat down in various locations in Scully's room, nobody saying much of anything. Barbara cleared her throat.

"What did they let you eat for breakfast?"

"Rice Krispies. Toast. Did you eat?"

"I'm not very hungry," Barbara answered, looking down at the tile. Before long, Scully's nurse went over her discharge paperwork and the group left. They went down an endless number of hallways, finally locating the elevators leading into the lobby of the hospital. Monica had already called ahead for a taxi and they headed for the Holiday Inn.

After confirming a room, Scully looked at Monica. "I'm going to meet Follmer and Skinner."

"I'm coming with you," Monica stated. They looked at Barbara.

"I shouldn't be here," Barbara finally stated. "I just...I feel like I have no right to be here."

Scully rolled her eyes. "You have as much right to be here as we do. Mom, you and Bill go home. Please. I spent all night watching the Weather Channel and it's supposed to start snowing by the end of the week. I don't want you to be stuck up here."

Mrs. Scully took her grandson in her arms and looked at Bill, who clearly didn't want to leave.

"Please. I can't ask you both to stay up here. We'll be home just as soon as there's a resolution to this. I promise."


Scully stared at the drink machine, frowning. Two dollars later, she still couldn't seem to get a simple Sprite. She balled up a fist and repeatedly hit the green button as if damaging it would give her the soda.

"Why don't you just open it up and steal one?"

She quickly turned around and flung herself at the individual standing behind her.

"Mulder..."

She hugged him tightly, pulling back and touching his face.

"Was Follmer ready to give you back your badge?" she asked.

"Not exactly. I don't want it anyway."

She sat down on one of the nearby benches. He sat next to her, running a hand through his disheveled hair. Mulder had called her almost two hours before and told her that he'd found Doggett but didn't have time to tell her any details.

"Where did you find him?"

"Couple miles from where we found you. He was delirious and actually put up a fight when we tried to get him out of there. They worked him over pretty good. You may not recognize him."

"How did he get out of there?"

Mulder shook his head. "I couldn't get much out of him...and it was hard to understand him."

She closed her eyes. "I'm just...thank you, Mulder, for not giving up on him."

"Doggett? He's too stubborn to die."

She let out a short laugh. "Sounds like someone else I know."

"Where's Will?"

"Mom has him...Bill's here."

Mulder groaned, resting his head in his hands. "I'll just pretend you didn't say that."

He stood and hit the drink machine in a certain spot. It spit out two Sprites.

"Show off," she muttered, following him back to the elevators.


Follmer scanned the ICU waiting area and found Monica, Mulder, Scully, and Barbara all sitting together quietly.

"How's he faring?"

"They're keeping him in the ICU as a precaution," Scully stated. "He was hypothermic, dehydrated, he has a few broken ribs, broken nose, bruised his jaw pretty badly. Visiting hours aren't for another hour."

Follmer nodded. "Skinner's on his way back to D. C. I'll be joining him shortly. Give my regards to Agent Doggett...and I'll be in touch. If you need anything--"

"We're fine, sir," Scully answered.

"Sir, may I have a word with you?" Monica asked. Follmer realized she was sitting in a wheelchair.

"Of course."

As soon as he wheeled her off, Mulder leaned over to Scully and said, "How long as THAT been going on?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Scully said, staring straight ahead. Truthfully, Scully was the only one aware of the relationship between her friend and their superior.

"You always were a bad liar," he stated. "So Barbara, does Doggett really have nine lives?"

Barbara rolled her eyes. "You have no idea. When we lived in the City, he worked Fugitive. I thought he'd used up his nine lives a long time ago. He'll be very surprised to see me."

"He'll probably be very grateful," Scully stated.

"I'm just glad...I'm glad he's in good hands. John's very fond of all of you."

"Maybe not all of us," Mulder muttered.

"Alright. He's fond of Dana and Monica," she smirked.


The first thing he noticed was a metronome beeping off in the distance. As he became more aware of his surroundings, he found that the sound was right above his head. It took a second for him to realize it was the sound of his own heartbeat.

He opened his sore eyes, finding only one of them would actually open all the way. Long ago, it had become familiar for him, waking up finding himself in a hospital bed with thin blankets and multiple IVs sticking out of his arms.

"Welcome back," a voice to his left said.

"Barb?"

"Yes, it's me. Do you know where you are?"

"Bumfuck, New England."

Chuckling, she smoothed his hair and kissed his forehead. "Close enough. Do you remember Mulder finding you?"

"Mulduh...no. Dana...is she Ok? Did they find her? She's underground--"

"--slow down, she's just fine. She, Monica, and Mulder are waiting to see you, but they told me to see you first."

Frustrated that he couldn't enunciate thanks to his stiff jaw, he touched his face and found he was extremely sore underneath the inch of scub.

"I was goin' back for her."

Barbara patted his hand. "She's fine, John. She's just as worried about you."

He didn't say anything more. Barbara stood after the silence turned awkward.

"I want you to behave for this nice staff. I heard you were a holy terror earlier."

He tried to shrug, but immediately paled, the arm not covered in a thick bandage guarding his side.

"Some of your ribs are broken. Do you want me to get your nurse?"

"No. No drugs."

"Look at me. Please take better care of yourself. And...I think it would be better for both of us if you'd give another emergency contact. It's not that I don't care about you, John, but I'm finished living as a cop's wife...I can't do it anymore--"

"--I get it. I meant to do it but I forgot."

"My flight's in two hours..."

"Good to see you, Barb."

She gave him a smile. "I'm glad you're alright. Be careful."

He watched her leave, realizing it was probably the last time he'd see her again unless he was truly on his deathbed. They'd said their goodbyes when they'd released Luke's ashes, but this time actually felt final.


"Go ahead, Dana. Go see him. Mulder and I will wait until we're allowed to go in again."

Scully frowned. "Monica, you're his partner--"

"I see enough of him as it is. Go."

Scully looked at Mulder, who was checking his watch. "We have only 15 minutes left before they kick us out. You'd better make the most of it."

Mentally preparing herself for whatever physical state he was in, she took a deep breath and gave her name to the receptionist. She received her visitor pass and followed the signs to the Medical ICU. CCU...SICU...MICU. She silently entered through the heavy double doors and looked around. It smelled of disinfectant and betadine, Dial soap and blood. It was a smell that was all too familiar to her, a smell that used to remind her that she had a profession her future children would be proud of. It was now a smell she'd come to despise.

A nurse furiously scribbling on a clipboard looked at Scully with recognition thanks to the extensive media coverage during their disappearance. Now, of course, Doggett and Scully were alive and the news anchors had lost interest and moved on to the next tragedy.

"He's in bed 8."

"Thanks."

She turned around and walked to bed 8, the only bed with a closed curtain. She took another deep breath and peeked around it, finding Doggett cussing at the handheld television controls. She cleared her throat. He looked up and smiled as much as his bruised jaw would allow him.

"I can't believe Follmer beat me to it. I was coming back for you, y'know."

Smiling, she walked over to him and kissed the side of his face that wasn't bruised. She watched as the tips of his ears reddened. She silently cursed herself for allowing tears to fill her eyes. She hadn't cried this much since Mulder returned.

"No tears, huh? We're alive."

"I'm just so relieved. I thought you were gone."

"It'll take more than that."

"I'm beginning to think that's true."

"Sorry, I'm talking funny."

Sitting on his bed, she said, "You've been talking funny for days now...I'm used to it. Have they given you any medication?"

"Loads...they just offered me a muscle relaxer. Told 'em to wait for you first."

"You don't trust me while you're under the influence?"

"I don't trust me."

They sat quietly together, listening to Sports Center on his television. He watched as she mentally catalogued all of his injuries, his vitals that were displayed in the monitor above his head, the IV fluids infusing, every scrape and bandage covering him.

"I'm sorry I got us lost."

"I'm sorry I made us stop."

"Next time I'll get a more updated map."

She smiled again. "There won't be a next time. I've had enough fun with you for one lifetime."

"You sure about that?" he asked with a wicked glint in his eye.

She raised an eyebrow. "Are you suggesting that I'm missing something?"

"You're the one who said you'd take full advantage of me if I got us out of there."

"You just pointed out that Follmer beat you to it."

He scowled. "Monica'll be pissed if you mess with him."

"You know about them too?"

"Who doesn't?"

A nurse stuck her head in from behind the curtain. "Visiting hours are over for now."

"Two minutes?" Doggett pleaded, giving him his best wounded look, though it wasn't much of a stretch with his raccoon eyes.

The nurse did not look amused. "I like you better sedated."

Doggett chuckled as she disappeared.

"You've already got them eating out of your hands, I see."

"She's been great. Except earlier, she threatened me with a horse tranquilizer."

"Maybe tomorrow they'll move you to a regular floor bed."

"Would you stay with me then?"

"Of course I will. I should go now. Is it safe to hug you?"

He held out his good arm and they managed an awkward hug, both very conscientious of his broken ribs. She lingered for a moment, reminding herself that she wasn't dreaming.

"Get some rest. You look like you need it," he said.

"Obviously, you haven't looked in a mirror yet."

"Shave and a haircut, I'm good to go."

"I know you already gave Skinner a statement, but I want to know what happened after we were separated."

"Come back later...maybe you could help out with my spongebath."

She folded her arms in mock indignation. "Agent Doggett, you are teetering on borderline inappropriate."

"Blame the drugs."

"You didn't take any."

"Blame it on the drugs I'm gonna take."


"Get in there," a voice hissed in his ear after he received the beating of his life. He knew his ribs had cracked the moment the man's heavy boot collided with them. He was roughly shoved aside, then forced to sit on what felt like a cold wooden floor. They'd only used a loose knot to bound his hands together. He scooted back until he was leaning against a wooden wall, working his hands loose but keeping them behind his back.

"We'll be back. Don't let him go anywhere," someone to his right instructed whomever it was who'd sat down next to him in a chair.

Doggett held his breath, listening for any signs that anyone else was there with them. He heard the engine start up and listened as it faded away.

"Bet you're hungry."

Doggett didn't answer. He waited a few more minutes, listening to the man chuckle to himself and presumably open a candy bar. Doggett could hear him chewing.

Heart pounding in his ears, Doggett leapt to his feet and wrapped the rope around the man's neck. With one hand, he removed the hood from his head, taking a breath of fresh, cold air. He removed the man's ski mask finding him turning red, his eyes wide, tears running down his face. Doggett studied him, realizing that he might have maybe an inch on the guy, but they had roughly the same build. Doggett released the rope and grabbed the man's weapon, unlocking it and holding it to the man's temple, mimicking his earlier position.

"Strip."

The man grabbed his throat, wheezing.

"I'm not fucking around with you. Take it off. All of it."

"Look, I'm not the one who wanted to kill you, man...I'm just following orders--"

"--Save it. Take your fucking clothes off or I'll shoot you."

The man could see that Doggett was ready to do it, so with trembling hands, he began removing his gear. As soon as he was sitting in nothing more than his briefs, Doggett took the rope and tied the mans hands together. The man was beginning to hyperventilate.

Doggett immediately removed his own sweats and quickly put on the man's t-shirt, cargos, socks, boots, ski mask, and coat. It was nice to feel warm again.

"When I untie you, I want you to put those sweats on."

"Come on, man..."

Doggett promptly struck the man twice in the jaw with the butt of the semi-automatic. The man howled, spitting out a few teeth and smearing blood all over himself.

"Try and say something."

"FUCK YOU!"

Doggett chuckled. Now they had the same speech impediment.

"Put these on or I'll shoot you and bury your body in these woods."

Still whimpering, the man quickly put the sweats on. Doggett put the hood over the man's head and retied his hands again.

"Speak to them and I'll make sure you never say anything again."

Doggett shoved the guy back to where he'd been sitting. He took the man's chair and placed his weapon over his back. He saw the candy bar but realized he couldn't chew.

"Where're the keys?"

"I'm not telling you shit," the man wailed.

They heard the rumble of the old vehicle returning.


Mulder, who was sprawled out in a chair in Doggett's new room, silently chewed a sunflower seed. Monica was in the other chair with her leg propped up. Scully sat on Doggett's bed, staring at the floor.

"You're lucky they didn't figure it out." Mulder asked.

"They're own tactics backfired. They couldn't identify me."

"That was dangerous," Monica remarked.

"They were going to kill me either way. I just took a shot. All in a day's work, y'know?"

Scully squeezed his hand. Mulder cleared his throat. "Who shot that guy by the creek?"

"It wasn't me. I was going to surrender, but there were too many people shooting at us...so I laid low for a bit."

Scully closed her eyes, reflecting on the past week and how close she and Doggett had come to losing their lives. She hugged herself and felt Doggett's hand lightly brush her back.

"Dinner?" Mulder asked. Monica nodded. They looked at Scully.

"I'll meet you both tomorrow. I'm going to stay here tonight."

Mulder shrugged and left the room. Monica kissed her partner's forehead and hugged Scully.

"I'll see you tomorrow."

As soon as they were gone, Doggett rumbled, "Mulduh's gonna kick my ass before I get out of here."

Scully frowned. "For what?"

"You...you were my entire motivating factor, Dana...I wanted to get you out of there...that's why I did what I did."

Feeling her cheeks redden, she said, "You're a loyal and wonderful partner, John. That's why I agreed to work with you again."

"...you're the only reason I chose to stay in D.C."

She frowned. "What?"

He refused to look directly at her. "I had the opportunity to leave. There was an opening at the Manhattan Field Office..."

"You stayed...because of me?"

"Yeah. I did. Now look, I don't expect you to throw yourself at me or anything, especially in light of what's happened...but I told myself while we were sitting down there that I'd tell you the truth about...how I feel...and this is my poor attempt at doing so."

She was still sitting on his bed. "It's not Mulder you're gonna have to worry about...it's Bill. He's a bit scarier than Mulder."

"I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him yet."

"He's not going to like you," she stated matter-of-factly.

"I haven't given him a reason to hate me."

"Until now."

She closed the gap between them, barely brushing her lips against his, not wishing to reinjure his jaw. When she pulled away, his eyes were closed and he looked relieved. She brushed a hand through his hair and smiled.

"You don't have any neat doctor tricks to heal me a little faster, do you?"

She raised her eyebrow. "Not that would heal you faster...but some you may appreciate..."


EPILOGUE

They trekked along the frozen path, rifles intact, hounds up ahead. It was the silence that accompanied winter they appreciated, even moreso than actually returning with any meat.

He spotted a shack up ahead and told his buddy he needed a rest, his arthritic knee acting up again. The younger man didn't have the stamina to move along anymore himself and agreed to a short break.

The shack was abandoned, but old beer cans and Snickers bar wrappers littered the floor.

"Is that blood?" the younger man asked, examining dark stains against the floorboards and some splattered against the corner wall.

"Yup. Looks like it. Probably got a deer."

They sat quietly, both lighting cigarettes and enjoying the crisp air.

"...Sy, d'ya hear that?"

The older man listened carefully, hearing a faint scratching noise off into the distance.

"Someone out there?"

They both stood and walked toward the scratching noise, stopping when they came upon a heavy wooden cellar door. The scratching came to an abrupt halt.

"Hello? Someone down there? Help me with this, Eric."

The two men lifted the heavy door from the ground, staring down into the darkness.

"You see anything?"

"No."

"Let's get the hell out of here."

The End

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