Date: Mon, 29 Sep 1997
Subject: "David" (1/2) by Gerry Hill

Disclaimer: This story is based on the characters and situations created by
Chris Carter, the FOX Network and Ten Thirteen Productions. As such, the
characters named are the property of those entities and are used without
permission, although no copyright infringements are intended. The following
work is for the distribution and entertainment of fanfic members only. Any
further distribution of this work without the author's consent is in
violation of international copyright laws.

Note: Takes place in early fourth season. (No "Memento Mori" or "Leonard

Classification: S, A UST/MSR (somewhere in between), Mulder/Other in the

Rating: R (or a strong PG-13) (violence toward children, language, sexual

Spoilers: Not really.

Dedication: Macspooky saved this one from going into the trash. She slapped
me around first, then gave me some much-needed help with all aspects of the
story. Needless to say, I am very grateful. Thanks also to Yvonne Richards,
a true friend who will tell me what isn't working, then ducks pretty good.

Summary: Mulder finds that his relationship to a victim of a serial killer is
closer than normal.

DAVID (1/7)
by Gerry Hill

9:30 PM, Somewhere in the Northwest U.S.

The little boy ran on and on through the dark woods. His small bare feet had
become numb with cold hours ago and he hardly felt the cutting fir cones and
occasional sharp rock. His unclothed body shivered but he continued to run
on legs that felt like sticks about to snap in two. He pulled air into his
laboring lungs with great effort. His small chest hurt and he felt tears
welling up in his eyes. He tried not to think of his mother or he really
would cry and then he would give up.

He could see a pair of lights off to his left and realized that he had come
upon a road. He stood quaking and painfully sucking in the cold night air as
he stared at the approaching headlights. The car finally drew close enough
for the driver to see the pathetic little figure at the edge of the pavement
and the brakes made a faint squealing sound as they were engaged.

The man who got out of the twenty-year-old Chevy looked like a lumberjack.
He was huge and burly, wearing a flannel checked shirt, jeans and heavy work
boots. As he neared the boy, he unbuttoned his shirt, pulled it off, and
wrapped it around the unmoving child. Despite his rough appearance, he was
gentle with the boy, crooning reassuring words to him as he carried him to
the warmth of the car.

For just a heartbeat in time he felt a vague unease that the authorities
might think that he could have been the one to hurt the boy. The thought was
instantly banished from his mind; to not help this child would be

As he drove toward town and the small hospital, he tried to find out the
kid's name, with no luck. The poor little guy seemed to be in shock.

"Don't worry, son. You'll be all right now. My name is Dan Laudermann and I
promise you that you'll be safe with me."

When he looked down at the boy again, he saw that he had fallen asleep,
probably from exhaustion. His dark lashes lay on pale cheeks where the
tracks of tears still glistened. His full lower lip trembled with the
visions brought by his dreams. The man's heart broke at the sight. He
didn't even want to wonder at what might have happened to this child. This
big bear of a man had a kind heart, and to see this innocent little boy
suffering from God knew what torment....his foot pressed harder on the gas
pedal, anxious to get this small helpless creature to someone who would know
what to do for him.

Basement Office
FBI Building, Washington, D. C.
A Tuesday in November, 9:12 AM

It had been silent in Special Agent Fox Mulder's office ever since his
partner Dana Scully had arrived and settled down to read the file on the
newly-assigned case. He had called her ten minutes ago to ask her to take a
look at it, and his voice had been more monotone than usual, as if to keep it
emotionless. When she had walked into his office, she had seen the file
lying on the table next to the extra computer where she often typed up

Usually he would have had the file in his hands, going over the interesting
points verbally with her before handing the case to her for closer reading.
Her personal favorite was when he cranked up the old slide projector, and
not for the first time she made a mental note to see about requisitioning a
newer model. But today he was strangely quiet, sitting back in his chair in
the shadows. He didn't even reply to her automatic "Hi."

The case was not an X-File; things on the paranormal front had been subdued
lately. No, this was from Violent Crimes, involving a serial killer who
targeted children. Scully had tried to bury her horror at seeing the crime
scene photos, but couldn't stop a gasp at the last one.

This boy was the only one to survive out of six other children. What had
shocked her was the resemblance to her partner. Those soulful hazel eyes
were overflowing with an eternity of pain and sorrow. The full lower lip and
the facial structure all combined to strongly resemble what Mulder might have
looked like as a child.

Curious now, she checked the information on this victim. David William
Chandler; age seven, mother Mary Louise Chandler; no father listed. David
Chandler had apparently been kept a prisoner by the serial killer for several
days. From the condition of his body, he had been bound by rope at wrists
and ankles during some of the time he had been missing. He had suffered
various blows and cuts to his body. Given the sexual nature of the attacks
on the other victims, the killer was likely to have similarly abused this
boy. However, no evidence of rape or tearing and injury from such trauma had
been found. David had not spoken once since he had been discovered wandering
naked on a rural road somewhere in the state of Washington. His mother said
that he had been a talkative, friendly child prior to his abduction.

Scully closed the file and saw that Mulder had not moved from the shadows
behind his desk the entire time she had been in the office. His desk lamp
was turned off, which made it difficult to read his expression. She simply
waited for him to speak.

After a few minutes his quiet and broken voice rasped, "She didn't tell me
there was a child." His eyes closed tightly as if to shut out his thoughts.
Scully jumped when his fist smashed against the surface of his desk. "God!
My *child*, Scully, and he's been in the hands of that monster!" Leaning
now into the light, she saw that his eyes were haunted and his jaw muscles
were clenched.

Scully's brain was uncharacteristically slow to grasp the situation. Then it
hit her that Mulder had fathered a child; a child he had not known existed
until this case was handed to him. A child who had been brutalized by a
serial killer....

Her sympathy for the child was suddenly superceded by the very human pang of
jealousy that swept over her as she realized that some woman had meant that
much to her partner once. Being Scully, however, she impatiently shoved the
feeling aside as inappropriate. He needed her, but not that way.

"We leave on the 1:00 flight. I'll pick you up at 11:15 or so. Better go
home and pack."

Her mental paralysis broke and she firmly said, "Mulder, as I understand the
situation you're way too close personally to be investigating this case."

His eyes...oh, God, his eyes. Scully closed hers for a moment, then said,
"All right. But if any official discovers the connection, you know what kind
of trouble we'll be in."

He got to his feet, walked like an old man to get his suit coat, and left
without a word.

On his way home he recognized how he was once again manipulating Scully, but
told himself he would make it up to her later. He couldn't spare the guilt
right now. Instead, his entire being was occupied with thoughts of the
little boy he should have known existed.

When he picked Scully up at her apartment she had wanted to talk about the
situation, but he had rebuffed her conversational attempts in the car on the
way to the airport. The flights were full both from Dulles to Chicago and
from there to Portland, Oregon, so they were not seated together on the
plane. By the time they had picked up a rental car from the Portland airport
and had fought their way through all the construction at the place, she had
accepted the fact that he would speak about it in his own good time; forcing
the issue wouldn't gain her anything but animosity.

When he took the highway into Washington instead of Oregon, however, she
asked, "What are you doing, Mulder? We have to see the Bureau's Special
Agent in Charge in Portland first."

"It can wait. This last abduction broke the pattern; all the other victims
were found in the Portland area. This one turned up ninety miles away, and
the victim is still alive. I want to interview the child and talk with the
local sheriff." He looked at her out of the corner of his eyes and added,
"And the biggest reason is that I'm pretty damned sure it's my kid and I'm
not wasting a second in going to him."

Scully thought about how many rules they were breaking on this case, and how
many more they were likely to break in the next few days, and sighed. She
reached over and placed her hand on Mulder's, which was tightly gripping the
steering wheel. "OK," was all she said, but he flashed her a look of
gratitude. He knew that she often suffered for his blatant disregard of
proper procedure, but she still backed him up when it was important.

They were headed for a little town by the name of Willows. After traveling
through miles of thick Douglas fir forests, the sudden enormous space that
opened around them was a pleasant relief from the darkness of the trees.
Then the road had suddenly dropped down into a small valley filled with the
lights of scattered homes and farms. In the growing darkness they could
make out gently rolling hills leading into town. They stopped at the Willows
Court Motel to check in and leave their baggage, then drove through the
downtown area looking for the Sheriff's office.

Not seeing it on the first pass-through, Mulder reversed their route and
finally spotted it. A small brick-and-glass-front building next door to
"Jill's Five and Dime" evidently served as a post office on one end and a
Sheriff's office on the other. They were able to park directly in front of
the entrance since most of the downtown businesses were closed for the night.

Mulder paused for a second at the glass door, needing the time to take a deep
breath and prepare himself mentally for what might come. This didn't get
past Scully, and she wondered for the thirtieth time whether this had been a
huge mistake. There was a reason that doctors didn't treat their own
families and that FBI agents didn't chase their kid's abductors.

The small office was empty, so Mulder slapped the button on the bell he found
at the end of the counter. Nothing happened at first, and then they heard
the slam of a door somewhere from the back room. A muttered, "Dammit"
reached their ears, and footsteps approached.

A very tall, slender man in a sheriff's khaki uniform came through the door
and walked to the counter. He had black hair in a cut similar to Mulder's
but was taller by at least four inches. Scully felt that his brown eyes
missed nothing as he looked them both over.

Then his boyish face lit up with a big grin as he said, "You've got to be
feds. Suits, serious expressions, and you show up here after normal

They produced ID for him, feeling for some reason as though they had been
caught doing something sneaky.

He extended his right hand toward them, saying, "I'm Matt Vernon and I'm glad
for any help you can give us on this case."

Mulder and Scully introduced themselves, wondering at this atypical response
to the FBI horning in on someone else's territory. Normally they were barely
tolerated, and often were met with suspicion and hostility.

Sheriff Vernon led them back to a pleasant office with comfortable chairs, a
couple of desks and even a couple of paintings on the walls. He offered
coffee, then got down to business.

"Paul Gregory of the Portland Office is running the FBI end of this. I
haven't heard that you were coming by, and he's usually a stickler for
procedure." His expression was noncommittal.

Scully spoke up. "We're from headquarters in Washington, D. C. We haven't
stopped by the Portland Office yet; they'll be expecting us in the morning.
We wanted to check out this part of the case first."

The sheriff's eyes twinkled. He could see that there were layers to this
story, and he was only getting the thin one on top. That's OK; he was a
patient man.

"Where do you want to begin?"

Mulder quickly said, "We have the file on the case, so most of the facts are
known to us. What I...we... would like to do first is to see and talk with
the surviving victim and his mother. Do you know where we can reach them

"As a matter of fact, I do. They're scheduled to meet with the therapist who
is trying to help David get over the trauma. You probably know that he
hasn't spoken a word since he was found two days ago. Let me see if I can
catch them before they get started. The mother would need to give her
approval in any event."

He picked up the phone and spoke with someone for about five minutes. Scully
noted the lack of an introduction and his casual manner of speaking with,
presumably, the mother. After stating what he wanted, his conversion mostly
consisted of "Yes," "No," and finally, "All right."

The Sheriff hung up and said, "It's only a couple of blocks away." He got up
and led the way out of the office and down the shadowy sidewalk. The street
lights cast their brightness into the night, but they were spaced far enough
apart that you had to watch your step when not in the circle of their glow.

Mulder had to force himself to keep from breaking into a run, anxious to see
this miracle who had been dropped into his life. He let Scully carry on the
fascinating conversation with the sheriff about how their flight went and the
difference in weather between D. C. and Willows.

When the sheriff turned up a walkway toward a modern two-story office
building, Mulder was at the door first, holding it open for them. They soon
reached a room near the end of a hall where just a low-wattage bulb burned in
a lamp. The far side of the room consisted of a one-way mirror, and Mulder
found himself lost in what was occurring beyond this barrier, in the next

Mulder located the therapist with no trouble, seeing a middle-aged woman of
unremarkable appearance leaning against a desk. His attention then turned to
the younger woman who was sitting cross-legged on the thick carpet. For a
long moment he stared at her, noting that she hadn't changed much at all in
eight years. Then his focus switched to his primary objective: His son.

The agent's heart seemed to skip a beat as he absorbed the sight of the
little boy standing in the middle of the room. Mulder knew then beyond any
doubt that the child was his. It was in the child's posture, his face, his
body. In a convulsive movement, his hands tightened on the wooden rail that
ran under the window as he tried to pay attention to what was being said.

"We promise you'll be safe, David," the therapist was telling her passive
patient. "Your mom will be with you all the time, and Sheriff Vernon said
that he would keep a close eye out on your house to make sure that no one
bothers you."

There was no response from the child. He kept gazing at a point somewhere
far beyond the room's walls. Mulder noticed that several times his thumb
would creep toward his mouth, but David would jerk it back down by his side
before it got very far. He wondered if someone had admonished him about "big
boys don't suck their thumbs." Poor little kid was aching for comfort and
the feeling of security, which had been ripped away from him, maybe

On an impulse Mulder abruptly walked out into the corridor to the next door
and entered the room he had just been viewing. Scully and Sheriff Vernon
didn't even have time to react. "Dammit, Mulder. What are you doing!?"
Scully whispered to the image of her partner standing a few feet away from

The therapist looked startled, but the mother was speechless, almost in shock
at seeing Mulder suddenly appear. Obviously the sheriff hadn't told her the
names of the FBI agents when he had called her. Their eyes held each other's
for what seemed a lifetime, then Mulder had turned his full attention to

Squatting down to bring himself closer to the child's level, Mulder said,
"David, I'm Fox Mulder. I want to help you. I know that you're scared. I'm
a friend of your mother's so you don't have to be afraid of me." He made no
move toward David but his compassionate gaze remained on the boy. He noticed
the stiffened posture and hoped he wasn't making things worse.

Mary Chandler, somewhat recovered from her initial shock, was telling the
therapist in a low voice that Mulder was an FBI agent but also a psychologist
and it was all right for him to talk with David. She wondered how the
therapist could miss the resemblance between the two. David had obviously
taken after his father far more than his mother.

Mulder ventured, "I've been scared like you. A very bad person was going to
hurt me but my friend got me away in time to save my life. It took a long
time for me to get over the nightmares."

There was a flicker in the boy's eyes at that and Mulder felt pity to think
that this little kid was apparently suffering from nightmares. No rest for
him asleep or awake.

"It helps if you have someone to love and protect you. Your mom does that,
and you'll begin to feel better about things after awhile. You'll see." He
gave him as encouraging a smile as he could muster, biting back the rage he
felt at the mental and physical damage inflicted on this child. But most of
all, Fox Mulder wanted nothing more than to gather this precious, hurting
child into his arms and give him the comfort he sought. His training told
him that such an action could damage the child even more. Mulder knew he
couldn't hold the boy now, and perhaps that could never happen. He fought to
control his emotions and was outwardly successful, he believed.

But Scully saw through the facade and knew where Mulder must be emotionally.
Knowing this, she was touched by his gentle manner with David and how he
kept a professional demeanor through what must be the most gut-wrenching
moments of his life.

Suddenly the boy looked full into Mulder's eyes and the hardened law officer
felt his heart melt. He could see the curiosity there, as well as the pain
and confusion. Then David turned and ran to his mother, throwing his arms
around the familiar refuge and burying his face into her shoulder.

Mulder stood up and took a deep breath. "Ms Chandler, my partner Dana Scully
and I would like to come by your house in the morning to ask some questions
relating to this case. We're staying at the Willows Court Motel during the
investigation. Here's my card, which contains my cel phone number. Please
call me if you have any new information or need to ask us a question."

He handed her his card and their fingers brushed together as he pulled his
hand away. He lowered his eyes, turned, and walked out the door.

Scully and the sheriff were already in the hallway when he emerged, and he
interpreted his partner's penetrating glance as, "We need to talk, but not
while there are people around - it won't be pretty." But for once he misread
her look, since she felt nothing but compassion for him.

Sheriff Vernon led the way out of the building and accompanied them toward
their car, trying to figure out what had just happened. He was a smart man
and could see the strong resemblance between Mulder and the kid. Matt Vernon
intended to ask Mary Chandler to marry him, and no matter what the
relationship and history were between this federal agent and the woman he
loved, he intended to have his way. Things could become quite interesting.

He asked, "Why don't I pick you two up at your motel at 8:00 tomorrow
morning, we can have some breakfast, have that talk with the Chandlers, then
I'll drive you out to the site where David was found wandering around?"

Mulder shook his head and replied, "No, that's OK. I want to talk with the
Chandlers on my own first. We could meet you at your office around 10:00 to
go see that rural site." The agent eyes slid in the sheriff's direction to
see how he took the dismissal, and was surprised to see an ironic smile on
his face.

"What about you, Agent Scully?" Sheriff Vernon asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, Agent Mulder said he was going to the Chandlers first thing; can I buy
*you* breakfast?"

They had reached the car and an embarrassed pause ensued. Scully was unsure
whether Mulder had meant to exclude her or not, and didn't want to call
attention to the situation by asking in front of this very interested third

Mulder spoke up. "Scully, that's a good idea. We both don't have to see the
Chandlers. Why don't you take the Sheriff up on his offer and then stop by
for me when you're done?"

Sheriff Vernon said, "Fine. I'll see you in the morning, then." He walked
down to his own car, gave them a wave, and drove off.

The two partners eyed each other over the roof of the car. Mulder tried for
distraction. "He seemed eager about having you to himself, Scully."

She wasn't about to be side-tracked, however, giving him a look as she got
into the car. He followed suit and turned on the ignition. As he reached
for the seat belt she began, "Mulder..."

"Scully," he interrupted. "I don't want to hear it."

Startled, she looked at him and said, "I beg your pardon?"

"All the bullcrap about proper procedures and regulations; you know - your
standard 'bad boy' speech."

Scully's mouth dropped open in hurt and astonishment as much at what he had
said as how he had said it. In a tight voice she replied, "I didn't deserve
that, you son-of-a-bitch. I was going to say that David seems to be a
remarkable child and I hope that he comes through this without too much
emotional scarring."

Mulder had the decency to look contrite and try to apologize. "I'm dealing
with a lot here, Scully, and I'm sorry if I'm unloading some of it onto you."

She felt that she was always the one to back down, but saw no other option
under the
circumstances. Saying, "I understand, Mulder," but not feeling it, she
viciously snapped her seat belt into place.

Once again, he recognized that he was deliberately avoiding the situation,
refusing to deal with it now, although he could still see the hurt in her
eyes. Coward.

Changing the subject, she asked, "Do you want to grab a burger at that place
near our motel and eat in our rooms? It's getting late."

He said, "Sure," relieved that she had let the moment pass.

They bought the food and returned to her room to eat it. They discussed the
serial killer case for awhile, then Mulder wearily leaned his head back
against the wall, tipping the chair slightly onto its rear legs. Scully was
stretched out on the bed, getting drowsy.

"Scully, I haven't told you about Mary Chandler yet."

"That's OK, Mulder. You don't have to tell me about something that

"Yeah, I do. She was a Special Agent out of the Seattle office when I was
sent there on a case."

Scully opened her eyes and said, "She worked for the Bureau?!"

"Yeah, in the VCS. She was getting pretty good as an investigator, but
profiling was never her strength. We worked together a lot on the case I had
been assigned - well into the night most of the time. Not to make excuses
for myself, but she was very aggressive sexually and it wasn't long before we
were together *all* of the time. I felt that I was able to separate that
from the job, at least for awhile, but it began to be quite a distraction.
Finally we both decided to call it off. The case was finally resolved, too,
but I was in the Seattle office for over two months, all told. This was in
1989. I guess Mary got pregnant and decided not to tell me."

He sat forward and opened his eyes. "She said she was taking birth control
pills. I need to ask her if she lied about that and used me to...fulfill a
need." He turned his dark eyes to hers and despairingly asked in a whisper,
"Scully, what am I going to do?"

"You'll see how you can help them and then do whatever is appropriate for
everyone concerned. Wait and see what happens in the morning. You're tired
and things may be clearer to you then."

Mulder nodded and got to his feet. "Goodnight, and thanks." She knew he was
thanking her for a lot more than her poor advice, and gave him a smile in
return. The door closed behind him and she lay on her back with a sigh and
wondered if this case was that one that would deal a death-blow to their

(Continued in Part 2)

DAVID (2/7)
By Gerry Hill

8:01 am, Wednesday
Willows Court Motel

Dressed in her burgundy suit with the short skirt, Scully was considering
changing to a pants suit instead. She couldn't think what had possessed her
to bring this outfit, knowing the weather would be bitingly cold. At least
she had her heavy long wool coat to wear. She wouldn't have had time to
change anyway, since someone was knocking on the door.

Sheriff Vernon stood towering over her when she pulled the door open. "Good
morning," he happily greeted her.

"Good morning. Let me get my coat and briefcase."

She grabbed her coat from the chair where it had been tossed a few moments
earlier, and as she sought the armhole with her hand, she felt the garment
being held in position for her. Used to doing everything herself, it was a
pleasant surprise.

She smiled up at him, shrugged into the coat and scooped up her briefcase on
the way out.

As they exited the motel Scully noticed that the rental was gone. Mulder had
already left to see the Chandlers, then. She thought it likely that he
hadn't slept much the previous night and had shown up at their door at an
ungodly hour.

She was right on both counts. He had managed to get nearly four hours of
sleep off and on, which was about average for him, anyway. He had left for
his appointment at six o'clock - unable to wait any longer - and then sat in
the car outside their house until he was sure they had been up for at least
half an hour. He had seen Mary come out of the house in her huge fluffy
white robe at six forty-five to get the newspaper from the walkway. When the
cat was let out at seven twenty, he decided to get on with it.

He was a little stiff as he walked up to their door. It had gotten very cold
in the car but he hadn't bothered to turn the engine on so he could run the
heater. As he rapped his knuckles against the wood, he felt something touch
his leg. Startled, he looked down to see that their cat was apparently ready
to get back in out of the cold and was sitting trustingly next to his foot,
seemingly comfortable in his presence. He wryly thought, you and Scully;
that makes two, when the door was opened.

Mary's eyes widened, but she gave no other sign of surprise. She had gotten
dressed and now wore old jeans and a dark blue sweatshirt. She stepped back
to give him permission to enter, which he quickly did so that she could get
the door shut on the chill gust of air he suddenly felt on the back of his

"Hi," she said softly. "Come on back to the kitchen and I'll get you some

"Okay," he said, trying to appear as non-threatening as possible. On the
way, he took his coat off and dropped it into an overstuffed chair in the
living room.

He had detected a slight nervousness in her voice and in the way she clasped
one hand with the other; remembering that gesture from when she had said they
were through, eight years ago.

Mulder shoved his memories down as he followed her into the pleasant kitchen.
The sun was finally coming up and her window over the sink was admitting the
first rays. They sat down with coffee cups at the kitchen table with the
soft morning light the only illumination.

"David is still asleep but he never stays in bed much later than 7:30. He'll
be down in a few minutes for his cereal." She gestured toward the waiting
bowl, a small glass of orange juice by its side.

Mulder surprised both of them by reaching out and brushing his palm along her
cheek. Her warm brown eyes were caught by his intense hazel gaze.

"You're more beautiful now than ever," he said wonderingly.

She broke the spell by saying, "Well, you haven't exactly grown warts
yourself, *Agent* Mulder. She pushed her chair back a few inches and gave
him a lopsided smile.

"Why?" was all he could ask in a broken voice, but she knew what he was

"I wanted a child. You specifically said you wouldn't consider such a thing
at that point in your life. So I stopped taking the pill, waited until I was
pregnant, and left to have my baby."

The anguish was clear in his face. "Didn't you ever love me at all?"

She took a deep breath and said, "I loved you, but I was never 'in love' with
you. Still, when I left I felt like part of myself was being ripped away.
None of it was easy for me."

There was a sound behind Mulder's back and he turned to see David standing in
the doorway, rubbing sleep from his eyes. His pajamas drooped on his thin
child's body. When he focused on the kitchen and realized that a man was
sitting at the table, he looked as though he wasn't sure whether to flee or
go to his mother.

Mulder gave him his best smile and said, "You remember me, don't you, David?
I talked with you last night. My name is Fox Mulder."

Since the boy hadn't run screaming in terror yet, Mulder slowly turned his
chair to face the child. He decided on honesty, at least up to a point.

"I'm an FBI agent and was sent here to investigate your case. I need to talk
with you and your mom. If I find out more about what happened, maybe we can
catch the bad guy."

All the time he was talking, Mulder was aching to pick David up and hold him
but knew it would only scare the boy to death. He wondered if this constant
urge to hold the child was for David's benefit, or for his own comfort.
Probably both.

David was still deciding whether flight would be in his best interest,
looking up at Mulder from between his lashes, worrying his lower lip with his
small white baby teeth. His mom broke the spell when she got up and said,
"Eat your cereal, David," and poured milk into his bowl.

This safe and familiar routine seemed to do the trick, as David calmly walked
into the kitchen, around the table, and sat down. While walking past Mulder,
however, he kept a close eye on him, ready to run at the slightest twitch
from the man.

Mulder had to make an effort to keep from staring at the...*his*...child. He
was beautiful, and he found it difficult to comprehend that this woman and he
had created such a wonderful being. The reality of it all punched him in the
stomach suddenly and he had to get up and retreat to the living room to
regain his composure.

He had recovered some control when he heard Mary walking toward him. He
turned and asked, "Will you sit down with me and just talk?"

"Sure." She hesitated, then took his trembling hand and led him to the sofa
on the far side of the living room, where even David's sharp ears couldn't
pick up on what would be said.

Looking into her face, all they had been to each other came back to him in a
flood. The feelings washed over him and he felt an abyss open up in his
heart at what could have been.

Finally, in a quiet tone, she said, "I'm so sorry. You were never meant to

Her monumentally self-centered statement was like a slap in the face.

"You don't even know what you've done to me," he said in wonderment. He was
biting his lip, not realizing how much it looked like David's earlier

She tried again, maintaining the calm tone with an effort. "All right, I'll
tell you everything. Just let me talk and get it all out." At his nod, she
continued, "This will just be the brief version. I had been in law school at
the University of Washington in Seattle when the FBI recruited me, and I took
to the training with a vengeance, determined to prove to myself that my
father could have been proud of me. He was a Seattle cop who was killed
trying to stop a drug sale. Anyway, I got through Quantico, but along about
the time you showed up on that case, I had come to see that I had probably
made the wrong career choice. I had worked out a plan; I didn't want to
marry, but I did want a baby. So I would pick the right guy, make a baby, go
back to law school for the six months or so I needed to finish the degree,
and then get an intern position with a Seattle law firm for a few years.
Then my plan was to move to this little town and set up my own practice. I
had already picked the guy - a big blonde hunk in the Bureau's Seattle lab.
He was definitely interested in me, and then the day we were going to go on
our first date, you showed up. It didn't take long to dump the hunk; you
were who I wanted."

Mulder blinked at that.

"Not wasting any time, that night I arranged to trade with Craig Bennett and
take that stakeout with you, intending to seduce you afterwards."

He couldn't resist blurting, "Afterwards!? You were all over me long before
our shift replacement was due."

She smiled, remembering, and said, "Yeah."

"Anyway," she continued, "We were pretty good together and I almost
considered abandoning the plan, but I knew you weren't ready to make any
commitments, especially one concerning having a baby. You told me that
yourself. You would soon be returning to D. C. and there was no way I wanted
to wind up in that madhouse." She shrugged. "So I stuck to the plan."

"You're a lawyer here in Willows?"

"Yes. I've got a small office at the other end of town and love the job.
But most of all I love my son. Overall, I believe that I've made the right
choices. Except for hurting you. And for hurting David, if you tell him who
you are."

Her face reflected the worry she was feeling as they sat staring at each

"Mom?" The child's voice held an unsure, questioning note.

Her head whipped around to see David walking into the room. She couldn't
believe that she had heard him speak.

"David," she said, and held her arms out to him. "Come here, son."

He cautiously moved toward his mother, aiming for the side opposite Mulder.
He sat next to her, snuggling into her side. He mumbled something and Mary
asked him to say it again, only louder.

"Is his name really 'Fox'?"

Mulder heard the question and had to smile.

Mary chuckled, and said, "Yes, that's really his name. But he doesn't like
to be called that and prefers 'Mulder.'"

David's incredulous face appeared from where he had hidden it in her side and
asked, "But it's his *name*. Don't you have to use your name, 'cause why
have it, then?"

"Good question. It's what his parents named him and when he got a little
older, he decided that he didn't care for it. That happens sometimes."

It was clear that David was thinking that possibility over in his head.

Mulder saw that Mary's eyes had tears in them, he supposed from the
suddenness of David's restored ability to speak. It had certainly been
possible that he might have withdrawn so far into himself that he never would
have spoken a word again. Reluctantly succumbing to the knowledge that he
needed to work on the case, he decided to take the opportunity to see if
David would tell him anything, now that he felt relatively safe in his own
home, in the arms of his mother.

Reaching deep within himself for the professionalism he would require to make
his child re-live the worst experience of his young life, he asked, "David,
do you think you could answer a few questions for me?"

Mary's reaction was more intense than the boy's, he noticed. Her body
stiffened and she gave him a severe look, shaking her head. But David gazed
thoughtfully at the floor, finally giving a slight nod.

"OK. Could you tell me what the man looked like?"


"Was he as tall as I am?" Mulder asked, standing up.

David looked up at him then also got to his feet. He looked at Mulder's
knees, then his eyes traveled upward to stop at his head. "I think more
taller. And bigger this way," he said, holding his arms out to his side.
"But not fat big. Big, big."

"Either I or my partner will bring some pictures from the Sheriff for you to
see, and maybe you could show us how his face looked. Now, can you tell me
what happened when he took you from the car in Portland?"

David sat back down next to his mother, snuggling as close as he could get
without climbing into her lap. He said something, but it was too muffled to
make out.

"What did you say? I couldn't hear you," Mulder said in a gentle tone.

"I said he hit my face and said not to make a sound boy or I'll kill you and
your mom and then he drove for a long time and then locked me in a room."

Mary gasped and hugged him, then brushed a lock of dark hair from his
forehead. "You don't have to talk about it if you're not ready yet."

David squirmed until she quit fussing over him and said, "But he might get
away if I don't help to catch him."

Mulder began, "You're right..." but had to clear his throat and begin again.
"You're right, David. But you can give it a little time if this makes you
too uncomfortable."

Mulder felt so proud of his son when he shook his head and began again to
tell them about his horrendous experience.

"We were in the country. He left me all night, no dinner, and I got so
thirsty. But the room was empty not even a chair in it. Finally after it
was daytime again he came to let me out, and he made me take all my clothes
off. Then he tied a rope around my, um, hands."

"You mean wrists?" Mulder closed his eyes for a moment, seemingly in pain.

"Yeah. He told me to go to the bathroom before he would let me have any food
or water. But I couldn't go. He got mad and said I was a stupid fuck. He
hit me and I don't remember anything until I woke up again."

Mary was clearly having a hard time with this, but managed to keep quiet and
let David talk.

"Do you remember what happened then?"

"My head hurt." David frowned, remembering, and added, "The rope was tied
around my feet now, too, and to some pipes in the wall. The man was gone."

There was thick silence for a full minute, then David continued, "I was still
thirsty. I tried to get the rope undone but it was too tight. Then I heard
the man coming back. I cried and he got mad at me and called me a baby."
David looked up at his mother and said, "I'm sorry I cried. I'm not a baby
anymore, am I, mom?"

Swallowing, she could only shake her head no and give him a hug of

The part of Mulder that was a psychologist murmured, "David, anyone would
have been scared, even grown-ups. Crying doesn't mean you're a baby. I
think you are a very brave kid, actually."

David sat up straighter and went on with his story, although Mulder noticed a
pinched look to his expression, and a more rapid pattern of speech. He
didn't know how much longer he should let the child relate these tormented

"He grabbed me - he grabbed my arm hard and it hurt and he kissed it to make
it better, and it was so gross! He...he felt me...touched me...all over."
David paused, his eyes filled with the remembered horrors. Before Mulder or
Mary could say anything, however, he continued. "I tried to get away from
him and asked for a drink. And then he held the can while I drank some soda
pop. It was so good and I was so thirsty. I had to go to the bathroom then
but he said there was no bathroom - Just go right there. But I couldn't.
Not like our puppy used to do!"

The boy looked indignantly at Mulder, silently seeking his agreement that
this was a behavior unbecoming to a human being. The agent nodded, not
trusting himself to speak.

"A little later he untied me and took me outside and said so go on a tree if
you have to pee so bad, then we can play some games. He started to go at
another tree, and I took off running as fast as I could. It got dark but I
kept running and running..." The shaky, rasping intake of breath was enough
to tell Mulder that the child had done enough reminiscing.

"That's great, David. This will help us a lot. One more thing, though. Do
you know what kind of car the man drove?"

David looked up at Mary saying, "Like Mrs. Haley, mom. Only blue."

Mary looked at Mulder and said, "She drives an old white Volvo wagon. Her
house is two doors south of us, so you could see it when you leave."

Mulder walked over to the sofa, holding his hand out. Mary placed hers on
his palm and said, "I'm not sorry for meeting you all those years ago and for
what happened. I'm only sorry for the hurt you had to feel."

He tightened his grip and said, "Is there any chance...?"

"No," she abruptly said, cutting off what she knew he was going to ask. She
stood up and leaned toward his ear, whispering, "I'm seeing someone and I
love him very much. I'm hoping that he pops the question soon."

His thoughts were interrupted by an insistent little touch on his arm. David
was poking him, trying to get his attention.

Mulder went down on one knee and asked, "What is it, David?" He was so close
that he could see the gold flecks in the hazel depths of the boy's eyes, not
realizing that his looked identical at that moment.

"I the car...the man talked with someone on the phone. He
was mad."

"They were arguing?"

"Yeah. He used a lot of bad words."

"Can you remember what he said to the other person? You don't have to say
the bad words."

David sighed and said, "But there were a lot of them." He paused, evidently
to edit his reply.

"He called the other one some bad names and said it was the last one and now
he planned on keeping this one for himself. He told the one on the phone
that they had gotten what they wanted, now leave him alone, goddammit." He
looked guiltily up at his mother.

Mulder slowly stood, thinking about what David had told him. Serial killers
normally are solo murderers. Granted there had been a few cases where there
had been two or more working in tandem, but that was extremely rare. He
needed to get to the data base and talk this over with Scully, then see what
kind of profile he could work up...

Mary's words intruded on his thoughts as she asked, "Will you need to ask any
more questions for now? Because if not, I need to go over to the

Mulder looked at his watch and was surprised to see that it was after 9:00

"We'll get in touch with you later today about those pictures. Be sure and
call me, though, if David remembers anything else." He picked his coat up
from where it had been tossed and tugged the heavy woolen garment on before
walking to the door. Mary and David followed him and he turned as his hand
rested on the doorknob.

In that instant Mulder took in every detail of their bodies, their
expressions, and the trust he saw in their eyes. It overwhelmed him and he
turned so they couldn't see his face as he opened the door. As he walked
toward his car he heard the door close. It sounded so final. His heart
ached with the deepest sense of loneliness he had ever felt, knowing that he
didn't belong in their lives.

He sat in the car for a few minutes, his forehead leaning against the
steering wheel. Then he turned the key in the ignition and drove toward the
motel, making sure that he took note of the Volvo parked in Mrs Haley's
driveway as the passed the second house from the Chandlers'.


Scully had not been surprised by the Sheriff's breakfast choice. She was
used to Mulder's alarming food consumption when he was in the mood, so what
she watched Matt Vernon consume came as no shock.

They were at a diner downtown and the Sheriff was almost done with his
three-egg western omelet, hash browns, sausages, bacon, toast, pancakes,
fruit and oatmeal. How he and Mulder could stay so slender while consuming
such vast quantities of heavy food was beyond her knowledge as a medical
doctor. Maybe she knew "secret doctor things" as Mulder put it, but this one
had escaped her thus far. And there was the opposite side of the coin where
her partner would eat practically nothing during a case, apparently
subsisting on adrenaline and hidden reserves of energy.

She realized suddenly that her companion had said something.

"I'm sorry, my mind was off somewhere. What did you say?"

"Paul Gregory from the Portland Bureau Office called me this morning just
before we went to breakfast. When he found out that you two were here
working the case he went ballistic. He's probably been burning the phone
lines up between here and D.C. ever since."

Scully could feel her face burn as she flushed with embarrassment. "Yes,
well, we need to talk with him, and the sooner the better."

"Why do I get the feeling that your partner doesn't exactly follow life's
little pre-set paths? He pretty much does his own thing, right?"

She shrugged, not wanting to talk about Mulder behind his back.

Her companion put his fork down and sighed. "I have to ask something and I
hope you won't take it as prying. But I need to know." He looked directly
into her eyes and waited.

"Go ahead and ask. How bad can it be?" Scully reached for her glass of
water, not knowing what to expect him to say.

"Is David Chandler your partner's son?"

She choked on the mouthful of water she had just sipped from the glass.

While she recovered, Sheriff Vernon added, "I just wondered, because if you
dressed the kid up in a little suit and tie and gave him a cel phone,
everyone would think Agent Mulder had been shrunk by an alien ray-gun or
something. They look exactly alike. Well, maybe not exactly, but pretty
damn close."

Now he had to wait until Scully finished laughing as well as choking.
Finally she was able to speak. "Um, you'll have to discuss that with him,
I'm afraid." She blotted her tear-filled eyes with a napkin. The mental
image generated by what the Sheriff had said was still vivid. The laughter
threatened to well up again, but she successfully put a lid on it.

"Why don't we head back to the motel and go over the case until your partner
shows up?" he said, with a twinkle in his eye. "Meanwhile, I promise not to
tell anyone about my suspicions."

Scully nodded gratefully as they paid for the food, then left the diner.

(Continued in Part 3)

DAVID (3/7)
by Gerry Hill

His cel phone was ringing as he pulled up into the motel's parking lot.


"Agent Mulder. May I ask where the *hell* you are right now?" The angry
voice of his
supervisor, Assistant Director Walter Skinner, drilled into his head from the
earpiece. Uh, oh.

"Investigating the VCS case in Washington, sir."

"Haven't you learned anything in your years with the government, Agent
Mulder? You've heard of the concept of teamwork? And you are aware of the
normal procedures for dealing with the chain of command?"

At Mulder's "Yes, sir," Skinner cut loose. "*Then why are you not
coordinating your presence on the case with the Special Agent in Charge??!!*
Dammit, Mulder, you know better than that!"

"Sir, I wasn't expected in the Portland office until this morning. When we
landed last night, we decided to check out this part of the case first, since
the rest of it will concentrate in Portland. This portion will be out of the

"We, Agent Mulder? Did Agent Scully agree with this little 'detour' of
yours?" Mulder could hear the underlying sarcasm.

"Sir, the reasoning made sense to her. I was about to call Paul Gregory in
the Portland Office as soon as I got into the motel room. I've just talked
with the last victim and plan to cover a few more aspects of the case before
reporting to the SAIC in Portland."

"In person."

"Yes, sir."

"See that you do, Agent Mulder." The phone went dead.

Mulder turned the instrument off and mouthed a few choice swear words.
Skinner had been on his case lately for some reason, and Mulder resented
feeling like a little kid who's mother is checking up on him instead of an
experienced FBI agent. He decided not to delay facing the music so he
consulted his notebook and dialed Gregory's number. Once the secretary heard
who was calling, he was instantly put through to the SAIC.

"I've heard all about how you're known for ignoring rules and regs, but
that's not the way I run my cases. What's going on that you had to head
right up to Willows and investigate prior to checking in with me?"

"Good morning to you, too," Mulder said wryly. "I didn't mean to step on
toes and didn't think you expected me until this morning anyway. Heading up
here from the airport yesterday evening seemed like the right thing to do, to
get this part out of the way first."

"Oh, it did, huh? Well there are a couple of agents here who've stayed on
top of the Willows abduction, and they could have filled you in quite easily
without your little side trip being necessary."

Mulder fondly recalled meeting Gregory in D.C. once at some sort of
conference, and he could visualize a balding, forty-five year old
accountant-type who seemed to be constantly in a state of irritation.

Knowing this would get his attention, Mulder stated, "The victim has told me
what happened and was able to give me a description of the car and of his

"What!? No one could get the boy to speak....Give me what you have so far."

Mulder smiled at the sudden interest and proceeded to repeat what David had
told him earlier. "The car I saw in the driveway was at least ten years old
if not more," concluding his description of the vehicle used in the

"Damn. I'll get this out right now. And you say there was someone his
abductor talked to on the phone? Do you think they're working together in
these abductions and murders?"

"I think it's likely. I need to put a profile together. I'm just about to
start on that."

"Where are you staying? I'm sending an agent up to assist. See if you can
get a room reserved for him. And I want you to get the Sheriff to set up a
separate area in his office for your command center. Let me know when you
get more of a description of the perp from the child."

Mulder gave him the rest of what he needed, then asked, "What agent are you
sending up here?"

His name is Charlie Chan - I know, he's used to getting ribbed about it.
He's a good investigator, a really good sharpshooter, can speak seven
languages, and has been covering this case since the beginning."

"Sounds good. I'll stay in touch, then."

"I'm counting on it. And Agent Mulder, we have some unfinished business to
discuss when this case is over. I won't forget about your lone wolf act

"Somehow I didn't think you would."

They disconnected and Mulder went into his room to get started on the


Sheriff Vernon stopped by his office on the way back to the motel to get the
map and file on the Chandler case. Scully was able to meet the clerk, a
cranky sixty-year-old matron named Beth Foley, and one of the Deputies, Fred
Sullivan. Fred was about forty-two years old, six feet tall, and still in
good condition. But he was a real talker and had managed to cover his first
seven years in uniform before they were able to get away. When they arrived
at the Willows Court Motel they saw the rental and knew that Mulder had
returned. Both were dying of curiosity about what had transpired at the
Chandler house that morning.

Scully tapped at Mulder's door, hearing a voice call, "Who is it?"

"Chelsea Clinton - I hear you're interested in government conspiracies," she
answered, and smiled when she saw the Sheriff raise his eyebrow.

Then the door was opening to a delighted agent who gave his partner a
lingering look, saying, "Scully, did you actually make a joke? What was in
your orange juice?"

He backed up to let them enter. He had Scully's laptop out and papers strewn
all over the room.

"Give me a second and we can get out of here." He exited the laptop program,
shut it off, and closed the case while continuing to speak. "Sheriff, do you
have a spare room in your office somewhere? Paul Gregory has requested that
we set up a 'command center.' He's sending another agent up here to assist
us with pursuing this end of the case while the Portland office keeps working
on the murders."

Scully and Sheriff Vernon could only stare at Mulder, absorbing this turn of

Mulder smiled at their reactions. "Don't worry; he's planning on taking a
good-sized chunk out of my ass before we're done."

Her gaze idly drifting to the body part in question, Scully noticed that he
had changed clothes and was now wearing hiking boots, jeans, and a
warm-looking pullover sweater. "Has the FBI changed its dress code while I
was out?" she asked him.

"Oh, I forgot. As nice as your current outfit is, you may want to change,
too, Scully." He made an exaggerated point of eyeing her legs
appreciatively. "When we get to the site, I want to look around in the
forest for something. Hurry up and I'll tell you about it in the car."

She disappeared into her room leaving the Sheriff and Mulder to make small
talk for a few minutes. Mulder took the opportunity to have Sheriff Vernon
put out a bulletin for a blue Volvo wagon, ten to twelve years old. He had
just replaced the phone receiver when Scully reappeared dressed similar to
Mulder, wearing a parka, boots and gloves.

Sheriff Vernon commented, "You take the motto 'be prepared' seriously, don't

"Let's just say that I've traveled with Mulder before."

Her partner gave her a look, then grabbed his jacket and said, "OK, we're out
of here. On the way, I want all of us to go over the case in light of what
I've discovered in the past few hours."

They got into the rental car, Mulder saying he would like to drive and
familiarize himself with the countryside. Scully figured that he was just
too hyper right now to passively sit in the passenger seat and needed
something active to do, like driving. After getting some directions from the
Sheriff and they were on their way out of town, he filled them in on what
David had told him about the abduction.

They were initially surprised that the boy had spoken at all, much less told
a stranger about his ordeal. The Sheriff offered his opinion first.

"From what the child said about the telephone conversation between the
abductor and the unknown party, you think there's a sort of 'mastermind'
who's directing this guy to kill kids? That sounds really unlikely. And how
could the kid remember what was said so clearly? Most kids don't remember
what you told them five minutes ago."

Mulder carefully took the turn onto a rural road, thinking about his
response. How could he tell them that he suspected that David had inherited
his eidetic memory?

"He seemed pretty sure about it all. He's a really bright kid and I'm
inclined to accept his version of what happened. I think the unknown party
may have picked out the victims and pointed his man in their direction. All
of the children were abducted in the Portland area, and their bodies were
also found in that vicinity. But when we happen to come across a victim who
survived, we hear that he was abducted in Portland, but then transported up
into this part of Washington. The killer and his boss probably live up here
but were taking and dumping the victims in the Portland area to throw
authorities off the trail."

Scully could see that the Sheriff was getting frustrated with Mulder's
seeming leaps to
conclusions, not having seen him work in his "Spooky" mode before. Things
were silent for a few miles, everyone thinking about the case in one way or

Scully spoke up to ask, "What about the notes left at the abduction sites?
If this guy was just a hired killer, he wouldn't be obsessing about obscure
religious tracts."

"Just more cover to make it look like a solo serial killer. But I don't
think the murderer is 'just a hired killer.' I think he really is a
disturbed individual who probably would have been killing children, except in
this case he got a little direction from someone. We need to get Agent Chan
to dig into the background of all the victims. Our answer might lie in that

"Make a right turn here," the Sheriff interrupted.

Mulder couldn't see a road at first, then saw that it was cut through the
forest with no road marker at the intersection. He made the turn a little
sharper than intended, and Scully would have slid against him if she hadn't
been wearing the seat belt.

"Damn, that maneuver would have worked if it hadn't been for the seat belt,

"This isn't a date, Mulder." Then she remembered their audience and realized
he might be taking this the wrong way. She turned to look at the Sheriff and
added, "Don't mind him; you get used to it after a few years."

Sheriff Vernon smiled, obviously not bothered by Mulder's mild flirting with
Scully. He
recognized it as a product of a long-time friendship on the job. It was
difficult to work out of each other's pocket day after day and not get
comfortable with each other.

He realized where they were all of a sudden and said, "This is it. Pull over
on that verge."

Mulder complied, asking, "Did anyone try to backtrack David Chandler's route
from here?"

"Of course. But the trees are pretty thick, the fir needles make a soft
carpet on the forest floor, and they couldn't pick up a trail for more than a
few feet from the road. They spread out and went back about half a mile,
with no luck. Didn't figure a boy that young would have been able to run
much farther with all the undergrowth."

"Where was he picked up?"

"Dan Laudermann saw him standing on the opposite side of the road, right
there." He pointed to a spot that looked like all the rest of the area.

Mulder got out of the car and stood for a moment taking in his surroundings
and sniffing the air.

"Scully, let's head out on a straight line from where the kid showed up and
see what we can find. I want to check back at least a mile, if not more.
Are you up to it?"

She gave him an irritated look, not bothering to answer.

And so they set out, the Sheriff shaking his head and then following. They
were slightly spread out, Mulder on one end, then Scully, and then Sheriff
Vernon at the far right. The going was not too bad at first, but the
underbrush began to impede their progress before long. They were having to
detour around more and more stumps covered in moss, fallen trees, bushes,
brambles and unidentifiable plant life. They had lost sight of each other
before going a hundred yards. Mulder was picturing a naked, defenseless,
terrified child running through this forest at night and shuddered.

Scully had steadily been getting farther and farther from Mulder's position
because of the undergrowth. The Sheriff was somewhere over to her right; she
had been getting glimpses of him between the trees earlier, but hadn't
noticed him for ten minutes or so.

Suddenly someone stepped out from behind a large fir and put the barrel of a
sawed-off shotgun to her head. She couldn't see the attacker, but a quick
glance had given her an impression of a massive body. He didn't speak, but
patted her around the waist and found her gun. He removed it to tuck away
into his pocket, then grabbed the collar of her parka at the back.

Scully was dragged like a rag doll through the trees. The tightened collar
around her throat not only prevented her from calling out a warning to the
Sheriff, but it was seriously restricting her breathing. She frantically
worked at pulling the zipper of her parka down, hoping he wouldn't notice
what his captive was up to. Then the coat was open and she was raising her
arms behind her and falling forward, able to get free of the unwanted grasp.

Scully was rolling away from the man trying to draw a breath to call out a
warning to the Sheriff when a booted foot caught her on the chin and
everything went gray, leaving her semi-conscious. She couldn't tell how much
time was passing, but she was aware when the man told Vernon to pick her up
and carry her to the cabin.

Although her mind was still fuzzy at the edges, she saw that they were moving
into a clearing and that there was a building up ahead. As they reached the
cabin door she wondered what had become of Mulder. She fervently hoped that
he hadn't run into a worse fate than being captured.

Meanwhile, when he reckoned they had covered a mile, Mulder called out to
Scully, thinking that she should be located somewhere slightly in front and
to his right. There was no answer. His brow wrinkled in a frown and Mulder
called again as he walked toward her assumed location, knowing that she
should have been close enough to have heard him. Still nothing.

"Sheriff!" he tried, but got the same result. The forest was deathly still.
He tried to hold back the panic he felt rising in his chest when he suddenly
stumbled on her parka lying on the ground. He walked forward, eyes hopefully
searching for an alive and uninjured Scully, and abruptly found himself out
of the woods in a small open area. A rough-looking cabin sat about forty
yards beyond. Mulder fought against his first impulse to rush toward the
structure to see if Scully were in danger. He moved back into the trees
instead, pulled out his cel phone, and called the number he had for the
Sheriff's Department.

"Sheriff's Department; Deputy Sullivan," was the response.

"This is Special Agent Fox Mulder. My partner Dana Scully and Sheriff Vernon
may be in serious trouble. We need backup now. We're about a mile west of
where David Chandler was found after his abduction. I'm going to check out
the cabin where I think he was held."

Mulder disconnected, not waiting to have a conversation. He pulled his gun
from its holster and headed for the back of the cabin as quickly as he could
cover the ground. There was a rear exit that he planned to go through.


Scully finally got a good look at their attacker when Vernon gently lowered
her into a chair by a table. The man held the shotgun directed right at
them. She saw that he was blond, at least six foot six, nearly 300 pounds,
and almost all muscle. She asked, "Who are you?" not really expecting a

But he replied readily enough. "Jack Lobell is my name. It doesn't matter,
since you won't be around to tell anyone that." He gave her an evil grin.
"And don't expect that other guy out in the woods will save you. I have my
own plans for him."

Lobell ordered the Sheriff to tie Scully's wrists and ankles together, then
checked that they were tight enough. Then he told Vernon to lie face down on
the floor. He took the Sheriff's handcuffs and snapped them on the owner's
wrists, then tied his ankles together.

All of this took just a few minutes, and then he disappeared into the back
room, his shotgun held ready.

Scully realized the ropes were too tight for her to accomplish anything if
she struggled, so she let herself fall from the chair to the floor and
scooted toward Sheriff Vernon.

"Sheriff," she said as she reached his side.

"I think the circumstances warrant you calling me Matt," he dryly suggested.

"Matt. Do you think you could try untying these knots on my wrists if I get
them close enough to you?"

"Let's give it a shot. Don't have anything better to do right now."

She twisted onto her side and he did the same so they were back-to-back. He
began working at the knots on her tightly-bound wrists. He commented, "After
a prisoner managed to get the drop on me one time and got the handcuff keys
out of my pocket, I've taken to carrying the keys in a small inner pocket.
To get to them, you would have to get my pants down. So trying to untie the
knots on this rope is probably easier than trying to get to the keys."

She was thinking, "But not as much fun." What came out was, "Lobell didn't
take your keys, then?"

He began to answer when a shotgun blast drew a startled cry from Scully as
they both jumped from the sudden noise. Her concern for Mulder grew into an
enormous dread. "Get me loose," she hissed, shoving her hands against the
Sheriff's back. He stepped up his effort, feeling a sharp pain as one of his
fingernails tore into the quick.


The impact of the shotgun pellets against Mulder's left shoulder spun him
halfway around and his gun went flying. The full force of the blast had
missed him, or he would have been dead already. After the initial numbness,
the pain slammed into him like a sledgehammer. It hurt like hell, but he
couldn't stop to think about it. The shooter was coming down the back steps,
reloading the shotgun. No time to reach his own weapon so he took the only
cover at hand; he rolled under the house where there was a large gap in the
crawl space next to the porch.

Crawling with an urgency born of fear, both for himself and for his partner,
he managed to get well under the house before he heard the guy with the gun
entering from the same access. Since it was the middle of the day, it wasn't
dark enough beneath the cabin for him to hide very successfully. So he kept
crawling frantically toward the opposite end of the house, trying to ignore
the pain in his shoulder, hoping there would be a convenient exit. His life
depended on it.

Mulder cursed the fact that he hadn't worn his ankle holster this time. He
had simply forgotten it, probably because it didn't seem necessary for a hike
in the woods. Stupid, he thought, since this was exactly the sort of
situation for which he had begun carrying the extra gun. A quiet internal
voice reminded him that he was way too personally involved in the case and
was bound to make mistakes. Maybe fatal ones.

He realized that he needed to speed things up when a glance back revealed a
hulking shadow much closer than expected. He put on a burst of speed just as
another blast came from the shotgun. He felt a blow slam into the bottom of
his left foot that hurt like hell for a second, and then went numb. He hoped
he hadn't just lost one of his body parts. Scooting faster than he thought
was possible Mulder could see a gap in the crawlspace ahead. And then he was
through it, lying face up in the sunlight, covered in cobwebs, dirt and God
knew what from under the house.

When Scully heard the second shotgun blast, this time from under the floor,
she frantically began to flex, yank and pull at her loosened bonds. She
ignored the pain the abrasion was causing, and at last the rope gave way.
Hating to waste any more precious seconds, she nevertheless matter-of-factly
unbuttoned and unzipped Matts' pants, dug the handcuff keys from the small
pocket she found inside and freed his hands. Another minute and she was
shaking the rope from her ankles, whispering her plea to God to let Mulder
still be all right.

Her partner in the meantime was acutely aware that he had to get moving, so
he rolled over, or at least tried to. His adrenalin level had dropped and
pain from the injured shoulder suddenly made itself known with a vengeance.
He stifled a moan as he managed to get to his knees, noting gratefully
somewhere in the back of his mind that his two feet were still attached to
his legs.

Then his pursuer burst out from under the house, reloading as he got to his
feet. He shoved the barrels of the shotgun against the kneeling agent's
forehead none too gently, obviously intending to kill him outright.

Mulder surprisingly felt no fear at this swiftly approaching fate, but a deep
chasm of regrets opened up in his mind. He found that another had been added
to the long list - that of his son, David. But before he could give any
thought to mourning the fact that he would never have the opportunity to do
anything about erasing past sins , a shotgun blast became his whole universe.

Scully had raced ahead of the Sheriff out of the cabin moments earlier, saw
the situation, and purely by reflex slammed both arms under the shotgun just
as Lobell pulled the triggers. Mulder fell back limply and for a horrible
eternity Scully thought he had been hit.

Lobell meanwhile was trying to brain Scully with the now-empty shotgun. She
managed to avoid the first swing at her head, when she heard Matt yelling,
"Police! Let go of the weapon and put your hands in the air!" He had
somehow found one of their guns and was now holding it steadily on her
attacker's back.

Lobell ignored the warning and renewed his efforts to mow Scully down. As
she ducked and backed away from the menace of the shotgun, she tripped over
Mulder's feet and fell to the ground. As she hit the hard dirt with her
shoulder she heard the blast of a gun and Lobell toppled like a felled tree,
right on top of her.

Lobell's eyes glazed over and his full weight settled on Scully. She was
having trouble breathing when Matt finally managed to pull him to the side.
She was on her feet and kneeling beside Mulder before Matt had straightened
up again.

DAVID (4/7)
By Gerry Hill

While Scully muttered and swore at having to fill out what seemed a ream of
forms at the hospital, Mulder was having about a dozen shotgun pellets pried
out of his shoulder. Four injections had deadened the site of the injury and
now he was just wishing Doctor Daisy would speed the process up a little. He
thought of her as Doctor Daisy because that was her first name and because it
sounded a lot better than Holtzenfelter. He knew she had to be older than
she looked, which was fourteen.

"Plonk!" Another pellet hit the bottom of the little metal pan that sat next
to him on a small table. Mulder was sitting in a chair since Doctor Daisy
was so short she wouldn't have been able to reach his shoulder if he had
perched on the examination table.

"There!" she said in a satisfied tone. She carefully cleaned out the last of
the holes, liberally smeared on an antibiotic ointment, and placed a gauze
pad over the whole thing. A few strips of tape completed the job.

Shaking her long blonde curls back from her face, she straightened up and
gave him a pat on the head. Mulder was feeling confused; she looked like a
kid sister, her caring and compassion was very motherly, and the sultry looks
she threw his way periodically were very sexy. Quite a contradiction, was
Doctor Daisy.

Scully showed up in the doorway at that point, and he felt relief that he
wouldn't have to figure out how to deal with this enigmatic doctor. Had he
been uninjured, alone in town, with no case involving the personal
ramifications this one had, however...

"Ready to go, Mulder?" Scully asked, taking in the scene. She looked vaguely
amused for some reason and Mulder was thinking that she saw entirely too damn
much and knew him too damn well.

Doctor Daisy spoke up for him. "He's all set. Be sure and pick up the
painkiller and antibiotic at the pharmacy on your way out. And see if you
can get him to rest; it's the best thing to promote healing."

Mulder felt awkward with the doctor talking about him as though he weren't
sitting right next to her. After all, his hearing had returned to normal.
And between Scully and himself, they probably knew more about how to treat
his injury than I Was a Teenage Doctor, here.

He refrained from commenting and pulled his ruined shirt back on instead.
Besides being stiff, his shoulder didn't feel too bad. Of course, it was
full of a local anesthetic. He grabbed his pullover and coat, gave Doctor
Daisy the Mulder version of a smouldering look, then limped out the door on
the ruined heel to search for the Pharmacy with a partner who was trying her
best not to snicker at his antics.

While waiting for the prescriptions, Mulder asked, "What happened to the

"He was meeting Agent Chan at the crime scene. After that, I'm sure he'll
catch up with us. You know the drill for all the questions and reports
following this sort of thing."

He glumly nodded. There was a contemplative silence as Scully drove them
back to the motel. He was thinking about how they were going to track down
the person who had been guiding Lobell's bloody hands. First he wanted to
get a start on doing some research on the victims and their families,
thinking he could find a connection there. He could turn the process over to
Chan later when they got together. Mulder borrowed Scully's laptop again
and disappeared into his room after she first made sure he took his pills.

Scully took some ibuprofen for her jaw and then lay down on her bed to get a
few minutes' rest. The few minutes turned into an hour when she drifted off
to sleep. She was startled awake by some very insistent knocking at her
door. She made sure to peer through the peephole first and then opened the
door to Matt Vernon.

He took in the bruise and swelling on her jaw. It was much more pronounced
than when he had last seen her at the cabin. Her hair was tousled and her
clothes rumpled, so he figured that she had been napping and hadn't eaten

"How about some dinner?" he asked.

She looked at her watch in surprise and saw that it was 6:10 pm already.
"Yeah, I'm hungry. We didn't have lunch. Let me touch base with Mulder,
take a quick shower, and we could meet you somewhere."

As she spoke, she walked to Mulder's door and knocked on it. No answer, not
even one of his pitiful excuses for a wisecrack. A frown appeared on her
forehead and she rapped on the door again. Still no answer.

Trying not to show her anger at what looked like another blow-off by her
partner, Scully told Vernon, "Looks as though it's just you and me again. He
must have gone out." Seething inwardly, she saw that the car was, indeed,
gone, when she looked out at the half-deserted parking lot.

The Sheriff said, "Go ahead and get cleaned up, then we'll drive over to the
Chandlers'. I have a feeling that's where he'll be."

"OK, except I'll just comb my hair and change sweaters. I'll be ready in a
few minutes."

She was true to her word and got into the car next to Vernon in record time.
He noted that she looked a hundred percent better and thought that she might
have taken one of those minutes to apply some concealing makeup over her
bruise, since it wasn't so prominent anymore.

Earlier that evening

After a shower, Mulder had pulled up his e-mail and found that the Lone
Gunmen had come through for him with the background information he had
requested on Mary Chandler. And what he read caused him to go pale.

"Married James C. Bentley, multi-millionaire developer, January 3, 1990."
That was only a few weeks after we broke up - when she was pregnant - he was
thinking. "Male child born August 15, 1990, named David William. Obtained
law degree May 10, 1991. Spouse died June 3, 1991 in boating accident. Moved
to Boulder, Colorado, August 22, 1991. Married Gary Selkirk, architect,
November 12, 1991. Spouse died from skiing accident on Christmas Day, 1991.
Moved to Willows, Washington, February 26, 1992. Married Anthony Parker,
attorney at law, August 24, 1992. Interned at spouse's law firm. Spouse
reported missing when he didn't return from hunting trip, November 19, 1995.
Remains later identified and death was reported as a result of a thirty-five
foot fall from a rocky ledge. Mrs. Parker restored the name of Chandler to
herself and to her son on February 1, 1996. Ms Chandler legally became sole
owner of spouse's law firm at the same time name was changed."

Mulder was aghast at the history he was reading. A wave of nausea hit him,
but then receded. She had told him that she just wanted a baby and didn't
want to marry. Obviously, he thought, she just didn't want to marry *him*.
The husband she selected after he left was a multi-millionaire. She had
probably been sleeping with both of us, he figured.

Christ! The data strongly suggested that Mary was a "black widow" killer who
mated and then murdered their spouse/lover. He felt a chill at the thought
that he had been a strong candidate as one of her victims. Why had he
emerged unharmed? And David...My God. The nausea returned with a vengeance.

After he was sick in the bathroom he felt a little better. He realized that
he had a serial killer case to work on but he also needed to make sure that
David was all right. There was no proof that his mother was a murderer,
obviously, or she would have been locked up long ago. This could get nasty.

He decided to go over to the Sheriff's office to pry a little gossip from the
staff, and try not to be too obvious about it. And then he would go over to
Mary's house for a talk. He figured that Scully was getting a much-needed
nap, so he would have to be quiet when leaving the motel. She would probably
kill him later for what she called "ditching" her, but he didn't want her
involved any more than necessary with his sordid past life. She probably had
a low opinion of him as it was, and didn't need any more material to
strengthen that assessment of his moral fiber. And he wasn't anxious to see
her reaction when he told her that his former girlfriend had married and
buried three husbands since August 1990.

Mulder put his suit and his undamaged pair of shoes on, noticing that the
painkiller seemed to be keeping his aches and pains at bay for now. When he
reached the Sheriff's office he found the clerk had gone for the day, but
Deputy Sullivan was still there, talking with Agent Chan over a cup of

Chan knew who Mulder was, and couldn't hide his awe of the man. His
reputation within the Bureau was mixed, but Chan knew that Fox Mulder had
solved some pretty tough cases in his career and was thought to be a somewhat
warped genius.. He was more than happy to tackle the investigation into the
victims' families and any other job the infamous "Spooky" threw his way.
After sending the enthusiastic agent back to his computer, Mulder asked
Deputy Sullivan to tell him everything he knew about Mary Chandler.

The Deputy didn't often have a captive audience, and relished the attention.
After five minutes of small talk he said, "We were surprised when she
married old Tony Parker, one of three local attorneys. She could have had
the pick of the men in town, but went for the man who was fifteen years older
than she was. Tony was a good catch, mind you, with his law firm and his
family's money..."

"He was well-off?" Mulder asked.

"I would be inclined to say he was rich," the Deputy said, grinning. "Scads
of dough. He came from a wealthy Seattle shipping family and didn't have to
work, but he liked the law. We all had quite a respect for the man around
here. It was a shock when he went missing and then his body was found in
that ravine."

"Did you see the site where his body was found?"

"Hell, yes, I saw it. I'm the one who found Tony's body, or what was left of
it. The animals and the elements had pretty much taken care of the soft
parts, but the autopsy showed that it was Tony, all right." He sat shaking
his head, remembering.

"What about the investigation? Did anything look suspicious about the

"Not really. Other than Tony was afraid of heights and no one could figure
out why he might have been out on that rocky ledge to begin with. Might have
been running from something like a cougar and got dead-ended at the ravine.
We still have predatory animals out in that forest. Or it was dark and he
just didn't see the drop-off. Anyway, there wasn't anything to indicate it
might have been murder."

"Did his wife inherit everything?"

"Except for some holdings in Seattle that reverted back to his family, yeah,
she got everything. She even took over the law firm, and she's done a great
job of it, too."

Mulder could see that Deputy Sullivan was a "Mary supporter" and took another

"So she's available again - any serious suitors?"

He flushed and said, "Probably every single man in town. As for
front-runners, Alan Tyler and our own Sheriff Vernon are the most likely to
win out."

Mulder hid his surprise at hearing that Sheriff Vernon had that kind of a
relationship with Mary and asked, "Who do you think will succeed?"

The Deputy thought a minute and said, "Tyler hates kids. Well, maybe it's
not that strong; they irritate the hell out of him. On the other hand,
Sheriff Vernon loves kids, especially little David. Going on feelings alone,
I would put the Sheriff in there by a nose."

Bluntly, Mulder asked, "Which one has more money?"

Deputy Sullivan raised his eyebrows and answered, "Why, Tyler, of course.
He's a financial advisor and took his own advice in playing the stock
market. I would guess he's worth at least a million and probably three or
four. The Sheriff is just a working stiff with a little money put away for
the future. He's comfortable, living here in Willows, anyway."

Mulder thanked the Deputy and took a minute to check on Chan and to see what
kind of "command center" had been allocated to their team. It turned out
they had a 12x12 room containing a computer station, a conference table, six
chairs, and a chalkboard on the wall. Chan was busily at work pulling up
backgrounds and histories at the computer. Mulder cautioned him against
working much longer, and that he should go get some dinner.

"I've got an errand to run, but we could get together for breakfast; say,
8:00?" Mulder asked.

"Sure. I'll come by your room then."

Mulder nodded and then took off for the Chandlers'. As he drove, he thought
about what Sullivan had told him earlier and began processing each fact in
his mind, selecting key ideas and rejecting obvious irrelevancies. Suddenly
he pulled over to the curb, slamming on his brakes. "Shit! Oh, shit!" He
hit his fist painfully against the steering wheel, oblivious to the pain. He
went over everything again, trying to pull in other data that would show his
conclusion to be false, but he wasn't able to disprove it. He hurriedly
dialed Sullivan and asked the Deputy to check on something for him. For
once, the man didn't babble on about his dog, job or friends and came back in
four minutes with the information.

With a terse "thanks," Mulder disconnected, put the car into gear and floored
the gas, intent on getting to Mary's house as fast as humanly possible.

The Chandler House

Scully and Sheriff Vernon drove up in front of the house and parked at the
curb. The street lights had come on, but there was no sign of Mulder's
rental. "Looks like I guessed wrong. Since we're here, let's go in for a
minute. I'm good friends with the family and I'd like to see how they're

Mary answered the door looking a little disheveled. "Oh, hi Matt. I was
doing some
housecleaning. Come on in." She moved back into the living room as Matt
introduced Scully.

"You're Agent Fox Mulder's partner," she commented, with interest.

Suddenly a small body came rocketing from the back doorway calling, "Sheriff
Matt!! Sheriff Matt!!" David threw himself into the Sheriff's arms,
giggling at being scooped up and tossed over the tall man's shoulder like a
sack of flour.

Scully had to smile at the two - they were making faces at each other now,
and the boy seemed quite comfortable to be held by his friend. She noticed
that David was wearing a new-looking blue and white striped tee shirt with
unwrinkled khaki pants and wondered if they had been going somewhere.

Mary motioned that they should sit, and Scully went to an overstuffed chair.
Sheriff Vernon put David back onto his feet and listened as he told him all
about the kid next door who had gotten a new puppy and he would be allowed to
play with him later. After a few minutes his mother asked him to get coffee
for everyone; there was some already brewed. He went off to the kitchen, and
Matt said softly, "That's quite a change from a day ago."

"Yes, he seemed to snap out of it during Mulder', Agent Mulder's visit
yesterday. I haven't been able to shut him up since then."

Then they all jumped slightly as someone began to frantically pound on the
front door. When Mary looked through the peep-hole she saw a wild-eyed
Mulder who appeared to be somewhat out of control.

"It's your partner, Agent Scully. He seems to be upset."

Against Mary's better judgment, she unlocked the door and it was pushed open
immediately, causing her to back up a few steps. She gave a startled cry

Scully saw the Sheriff's hand on his gun, so she quickly got to her feet and
walked toward her partner saying, "Mulder! What's wrong?"

But her partner's eyes were riveted on Mary, who returned his gaze with

"Where is he?" Mulder rasped.

At that point David came out of the kitchen, stepping slowly and carefully,
carrying a mug of coffee in each hand. He hadn't noticed Mulder, his
attention focused on not spilling the drinks.

The frantic agent took in the sight and slowly let out a long breath of
relief. Then he muttered, "Excuse me," and grabbed his partner's wrist
tightly with his left hand. She tried not to wince when it irritated the
abraded skin where the rope had rubbed. He didn't notice, but pulled her
into the far corner of the room and said in a low, urgent voice, "We've got
to get him out of here, Scully."

"Don't you think his mother might have something to say about that?" she
replied, prying his fingers from her wrist. He released his grasp suddenly,
took a deep breath to calm himself and told her, "She's probably murdered
three husbands and...may be responsible for the murdered children in our
serial killer case."

Scully glanced over at Mary who had rejoined the Sheriff on the sofa. She
kept her voice low, but it was tense with her reaction at his statement, as
she asked, "You have proof?"

"No, but a mighty damn solid suspicion. I need a little time to build the
case but meanwhile David can't be left with her." He closed his eyes. "I
believe that she set up the other murders through Lobell so that David's
death would appear to be a part of that series."

"Oh my God! Why would she want to do something so horrible as to kill her
own child, not to mention those other children?"

He watched Mary talk with the Sheriff at the far end of the large room as
David walked toward the two on the sofa carrying a third cup of coffee. They
kept glancing over at the two agents, but Sheriff Vernon had evidently
decided to let Scully see what was going on with her partner before butting

Mulder said, "You've heard of people who are born with the inability to feel
anything like love or empathy for their fellow humans? There have been
serial killers like that who managed to blend into society by imitating those
feelings. This ability to mimic emotions conceals their true nature, which
is a coldness and indifference to life, enabling them to kill without feeling
remorse. It would have no more meaning to them than shaking dust from a

He leaned against the wall, appearing weary and heartsick.

Scully said, "But what would her reason be for having David killed after all
this time?"

"She wants to marry Alan Tyler, a rich man who doesn't like kids. He would
be her fourth wealthy husband in seven years."


Forestalling her next question, he said, "She's an attorney. She represented
Lobell when he stood trial for child molestation. Got him off scott free.
She could have easily manipulated him to use the serial killings as a cover
up for the eventual murder of her own kid. No one would connect her to the

"Listen to yourself, Mulder. You are stringing a series of facts together to
fit your premise. So she's an attorney who represented Lobell. There are
probably only a few attorneys in this town who are trial lawyers; the odds
that she would be retained by him or be court-appointed are high. As for the
dead spouses, apparently there was no proof that she had anything to do with
their deaths, or she wouldn't be free today." Although his expression was
grim and closed to her, she resolutely continued.

"She's an attractive woman and it's normal for her to re-marry. And some
stepfathers, if the truth be told, probably don't care for their
stepchildren, but if they love their wives, they adjust to the new situation.
Killing the kid is a little drastic, don't you think?"

"Scully, she's Lobell's guiding hand in the murders, and she murdered three
husbands." His face was leaning close to hers, his eyes black and

"Is this coming from a need for revenge for what she did to you eight years
ago, Mulder?" His partner's chin came up in a gesture of bravery in the face
of the coming anger she expected. But it didn't prepare her for the silence
as his gaze bored into her soul.

Finally he said, "Scully. For someone who claims to trust me..." His eyes,
his expression, his whole body seemed to accuse her of betrayal. He leaned
in closer, nearly nose-to-nose. "I need my partner to back me up here. How
many times have I had just this kind of gut feeling and it turned out to be
right? Are you with me or not? I need to know, Scully. This one is too
important to me."

Her jaw clenched with fury at the thought of how often *he* claimed to trust
*her* and then ditched her or kept things to himself. She spat out, "That
depends. Are you planning to break the law here, Mulder? Kidnap the boy,
perhaps? You - Have - No - Legal - Basis for taking himaway from his mother
or for arresting her."

She saw his eyes track past her, watching something on the other side of the
room. So she turned slightly and saw that David was waving his hand at
Mulder with a big grin on his face. She heard her partner take a deep breath
and his expression softened as he waved back.

The Sheriff finally couldn't stand it anymore. He excused himself to Mary
and crossed the room to the peculiarly-acting federal agents. He grimly
asked, "What the hell is going on here? What's with all this whispering?
Mary's got to be concerned about your actions, considering what's happened
in her life recently."

Mulder tersely filled the Sheriff in on his theories and conclusions and the
facts he had managed to gather. Vernon's expression grew incredulous and
then anger suffused his face.

"You son of a bitch! You're insane, and I don't know how they let you carry
that badge. You're jumping to all kinds of wild conclusions and I've half a
mind to lock you up to protect these innocent people."

Mulder had a closed expression as he listened to this not-unfamiliar opinion
of his mental faculties. And knowing how the Sheriff felt about Mary
Chandler, he understood the protective attitude. Then he pushed past the
Sheriff and strode over to Mary, leaning down to keep David from hearing what
he had to say.

"I know all about you and what you've done. If you harm David in any way,
I'll kill you." His expression backed up his threat, making it clear that he
meant what he said. She sat very still, hardly breathing, her eyes wide with

Then the Sheriff's firm grip was on his arm.

"Let's go outside, Agent Mulder, and have a little discussion," he growled.

Mulder knew he was pushing it with the Sheriff, so he walked out of the
house, followed closely by Vernon and Scully. They left the brightness of
the front porch light and stood on the walkway near the cars on the street.
Vernon said, "All right. Let's get it all out and see what we have. My
first reaction is to bash your face in for what you said about Mary, but I'm
willing to discuss this situation and look at it strictly from the viewpoint
of the law."

Mulder appreciated that the man could see past his own rage and thought that
he might listen to what he had to say. So he began to cover the facts in
detail, slowly and clearly leading up to his horrifying conclusion.

"I don't want this to be true any more than you, Sheriff," Mulder said, as
his eyes pleaded with the man for understanding and support.

Vernon nodded and slowly said, "I believe that you don't want these
suspicions to be true. Since he's your son, you couldn't help but have
strong feelings on the subject."

Mulder's eyes widened and his first reaction was to look over at his partner.
Scully realized that he thought she had told the Sheriff about the
relationship and felt an enormous sadness wash over her. Unable to speak
without saying some things she would regret, she simply shook her head "no."

Sheriff Vernon caught this byplay and quickly said, "No one told me, Agent
Mulder. I could see the resemblance immediately. I also got the impression
that you had never seen him before and maybe didn't even know about his
birth. But that's between you and Mary and it's none of my business."

So what do you propose we do about this, gentlemen?" Scully's voice was
stiff and businesslike. "It's my opinion that we need to find more evidence
before making any move against Ms Chandler."

(Continued in Part 5)