December 1, 1997

Disclaimer in Part 1.


Stafford Hills Grade School
12:04 am

Fox Mulder awoke to the worse pain he could recall in a very long time. His
entire body ached as if he'd been run over several times by a Mack truck. His
vision was blurry, his mouth completely dry, he was sweating profusely and he
was freezing. He moved to rub his face, but something stopped his left hand.
The fuzziness in his mind began to clear up when he realized his left wrist was

Mulder sat up. More information began filtering in. He was undressed to his
skivvies. His shirt, pants, and undershirt were folded neatly and sitting at
the foot of the smelly old metal cot where he lay. A thin, lumpy mattress was
under his back, and a scratchy old blanket that quite probably had fleas covered
him. There was the constant sound of water dripping. He blinked several times
before he could make out the filled and overflowing plastic buckets and
containers around the room catching rainwater. An old generator hummed and
vibrated on the other side of the room, and a dull yellowish light illuminated
only a portion of the area.

Sitting up made Mulder's head pound. He let himself fall back down upon the
flat pillow. His joints were aching and he wanted to vomit. He rolled over
onto his side and let out a yell when his bruised ribs protested.

Lightning flashed and he could see her sitting across the room, perched atop an
old wooden desk standing on it side. She sat leaning slightly forward, as if
she were some wingless gargoyle on the roof of an Old World cathedral, as if
gravity were not a concern. She had a huge black book in her hands. She began
to read out loud.

"'Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of
the enemy. Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from that noisy crowd of
evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like
deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him
suddenly, without fear....' That's pretty good, huh? Psalms. It's the Old
Testament, just in case you didn't know. Not that I know much about it myself."

Mulder jangled the cuffs around his wrist. His throat was so raw and inflamed he
could not speak.

Lacy shook her head and continued to watch him.

Mulder tried to sit up again. Lacy stood and leaped down, hitting the floor a
lot more gracefully than Mulder thought should have been possible.

She came to his bedside and reached for him. Mulder recoiled.


She reached out again, this time merely placing a cool dark hand on Mulder's
forehead. "You're burning up."

'No kidding,' Mulder wanted to say, but still couldn't find his voice. He tried
to swallow but the pain was intense, like swallowing an acid-coated golf ball.

"You just hang on, G-Man," she said, and wandered back across the room, into the
shadows. "This isn't the worst of it. But when it's all over, you'll thank me.
Why don't you try to sleep."

This was more than an idle suggestion. Mulder's eyes practically closed on her
command and sleep overcame him in an instant.

* * *

Stafford Hill Lock-Up
12:10 am

Dana Scully knew she needed sleep, but she could not. She paced the small cell
with her arms crossed to ward off the damp chill. They hadn't let her keep her
trench coat, and the blanket on the cot smelled of urine and sweat and cheap

From what she could tell, she was the only person imprisoned on this lower level
of the lock up unit. She'd called out a few times but no one had answered her.

'Where are you Mulder!' She paced faster at the thought of him. She didn't
know if she should be angry or frightened. Mulder would never forget about her,
leave her to rot in this cell. He would be there, unless something or someone
had stopped him. Was he dead? Was his injury more severe the either of them,
or the ER doctor had thought? Was he still in the motel room and suffering,
unable to come to her rescue? He sounded fine on the phone. Perhaps Franklin
Pickett had gotten to him already. Or worse, Lacy Jordan.

She felt that somehow Peyton Grey was involved with her imprisonment. He was
not the country bumpkin he pretended to be. There was something in the way he
looked at her, as if he were looking into her. There was something about his
touch, when she stumbled, as if he wanted something from her. The thought of
him and that mousy Ms. Scurlock made her shudder.

She heard keys jangling, the moaning of old metal, and then footsteps heading
her way. It was a bout time! Scully ran to the bars and held on, trying to see
who was coming her way. She saw a tall hairless man in a uniform. Franklin
Pickett. Mulder was not with him.

Scully backed away from the bars as he approached with a lascivious smile. "I
hope you find our accommodations to your liking, little miss. If there's
anything I can do..."

"You have no right to keep me here. What you're doing is illegal."

"What're you talking about? You hit and killed Debralee Jenkins. You're gonna
be in jail for a long, long time."

"I never touched her. She ran out into the middle of the road. I swerved and I
missed her. If I had hit her, there would have been physical trauma --"

"She's dead. How do you explain that?"

"I can't. Not without an autopsy."

"Why don't you just relax and think of this as a little vacation from the FBI."

"Has my partner been here for me?"

"Tall, lanky guy? Dark hair? Kinda looks real depressed?"

Scully nodded, just to move things along.

"I seen him. On a slab."

"What do you mean? He's dead? How? When?"

Pickett looked at his watch.

"Right about now."

She didn't know whether to take him seriously or not. "I demand you release
me," Scully said flatly.

A look came over Franklin that made her wish she could run.

"Don't you talk to me like that. You don't demand NOTHING. YOU DO AS I SAY!"

Scully was slammed back against the wall and held there by unseen hands. She
tried to move and felt her throat constrict as if someone were choking her.

Franklin Pickett smiled. "You gonna do as I say?"

"Yes," Scully barely managed to say in a raspy voice.

"Course you are." Franklin let his eyes roam all over Scully. She felt his
eyes like hands. She tried not to look him in the eyes, but his own eyes were
locked into her like hooks.

"Ooh, wee. You just a little biddy thing to be a FBI agent. Look at you. I
got hands bigger than your feet."

"Please, let me go."

"I ain't through with you. You shut up when I'm talking, you understand? You
don't give the orders around here. I give the orders. I can do anything I want
to you. You can scream all you like. This here is the drunk tank and can't
nobody hear what's going on down here. We got the place all to ourselves. You
be nice to me, and maybe the time will go a little easier."

Something like hands was rubbing up Scully's thighs. She did all she could to
resist it, but she was helpless to stop him. How can you stop what you can't

"Hey Frank!" A voice from above called out.

Instantly the hands that held Scully released her and she fell hard to the

"What you want?"

"Sheriff's looking for you."

Pickett turned back to Scully and grinned. "I'll be back later." He turned and
headed back up stairs.

Scully's stomach turned as she heard the metal doors above being closed and
locked back.

Stafford Hills Grade School
4:17 a.m.

There was an odd smell, strong and irritating, and suddenly he drifted from his
nightmares of Samantha and shadowy men in black into a huge white room with a
round light in the ceiling. Suddenly men and women in lab coats were staring
down at him. Doctors and nurses. Was he in a hospital? The smell became
stronger, closer to him.

All the doctors and nurses disappeared, and suddenly. Lacy appeared over him,
reaching toward this throat. Something cold was on his chest. Was he dying?

Mulder woke with a gasp to find Lacy sitting next to him, her hands on his naked

"Ssshhh," she said. "It's just rubbing alcohol, to bring your fever down."

Against his better judgment, Mulder abandoned his protest and lay back into the

She poured more alcohol into her hand and gently rubbed over his chest, his
sides, his stomach, and his neck, behind his ears, across his shoulders and down
his arms. The alcohol felt jarring like ice water at first, but it soon became
soothing. And her hands were gentle, something he had not expected. Mulder
inadvertently moaned, and was embarrassed.

Lacy smiled. "It's okay to enjoy it. Turn over, let me get your back."

Mulder didn't move. No way would he turn his back on her. He opened his eyes
and stared at Lacy. His throat wasn't as sore as earlier, so he tried to speak.
It came out in a harsh whisper.

"What did you do to me?"

"I gave you what you always wanted."

"You poisoned me. What was in that spray?"

"A virus."

"What kind of virus?"

"A smart virus. You're sick now, because you're body is rejecting it, fighting
it off. It will win eventually. Or you'll die. Don't worry, you're strong.
What you're feeling will pass in a few more hours, and then you'll be thanking

"You said that once before. Why would I thank you for exposing me to a virus?"

"Because I've given you your dream. I've made you invincible."

Mulder stared into her eyes, looking to find the lie. He couldn't find it.

"Let me get your back, now."

"Take off the cuffs."

She didn't move, but the cuffs fell open and dropped on the floor behind the
bed. How did that happen?

Mulder still didn't want to turn his back on the woman, but he did. Holding
onto his ribs he turned his body away from Lacy, facing the wall. He noticed
his ribs were not as sore as before.

Cool alcohol made him tremble under her touch. Finally the coolness won him
over again and he began to relax. Something told him this woman had no
intention of killing him. But if that were true, what did she want?

She tapped him on the shoulder. Mulder, who was beginning to drift back into
sleep, turned over with a start.

Lacy handed him the half-empty bottle of alcohol and smiled. "You do your own

Mulder slowly sat up, a little sore and a little achy and just plain sick. He
threw back the old blanket and poured alcohol onto his legs. The muscled limbs,
once burning like fire, instantly began to cool down.

"Why did you kill Virginia Scurlock?"

"I didn't."

"Who did?"

"Peyton Grey."

"I don't believe you."

"I didn't expect you would. But I have proof."

"Show me."

"Eventually. Don't you want to know about the virus?"

"Can I leap tall buildings in a single bound?"

Lacy wandered over to the old upright piano and hit a few keys. It was grossly
flat and sounded awful.

"What I gave you is the culmination of 30 years of research, all in an aerosol
vial. Ozone friendly, of course. The virus carries chemical signals, a lot
like neurotransmitters, than stimulate and enhance unused portions of the brain,
unleashing a variety of talents."

She began playing Moonlight Sonata, despite the sour notes and missing keys.

The sound of that old piano irritated him. "Knock it off," Mulder said harshly.

Lacy stopped abruptly. "Kill joy. In the spring of 1965, our government
contracted an independent drug company to work with the military to develop and
test a series of designer viruses. The idea was to introduce them into a small,
controlled population and monitor it over the course of several years. Stafford
Hills was chosen because of its mostly poor, working class denizens and because
of its remote location. There were several failed attempts. They tried putting
it in the water supply, injecting it into dairy cows and mixing it into the
manure used to fertilize crops for local distribution. Didn't work. And then,
in the fall of 1966, they decided to introduce it in its purest form to the
thirty-nine students enrolled at Stafford Hills Grade School. Twelve out of the
thirty-nine showed promise. Only one out of the twelve, actually knocked their
socks off. You can imagine their... disappointment."

"Why was that?"

"We're talking the sixties, Mulder. We had yet to overcome, as it were."

"So you weren't a guy and you weren't white. You were still their golden girl."

"I was their lab rat. They kept me locked up and sedated because they were
afraid of me, and studied me, hoping to find a way to pass on what I could do to
more 'desirable subjects.' Eventually they brought me out of the closet,
schooled me, trained me, taught me to use it and control it, all the time
continuing to make the virus stronger and faster acting in its various

She sat down by her tarp covered control table and took from her pocket a small
silver metal case. From it she removed a syringe filled with cloudy green
fluid, and rubber tubing. She shrugged out of her leather coat and tied the
tubing tightly around her arm.

"What are you doing?" Mulder asked, his throat dry, already knowing what he was
about to witness.

"That little taste I gave you has already accomplished in you what would have
taken three months of painful injections, three times a day, every day, back in
the day."

She located a blood-engorged vein and deftly clicked the cap off of the needle.

"Personally, I prefer the directness of the needle," she said, as she jabbed it
into her arm, pushed down the plunger and then quickly removed it. A thin line
of blood ran down her arm. She licked it off and laughed as Mulder looked

Lacy sat in silence for a moment, then removed the tubing.

"At the tender age of nineteen, I became one of eight specially enhanced service
providers for the United States Government."

"You mean assassins?"

"That was one part of the job, yes. I would not betray my employers by telling
you whom I have killed. Suffice to say we were very successful, not to mention
unique. Imagine not having to lift a finger, not to implicate yourself in any
way. Didn't even need to be in the same room. Simple mind manipulation, and
the contract could choke on his rice pilaf, or go into cardiac arrest, suffer a
brain aneurysm, drive a car off a bridge, or publically pat the rump of an
under-aged page right before the cameras."

"Our tax dollars at work."

"Well, I thought I'd skip the boring stuff and stick with the more prurient

"What happened to the other seven?"
Lacy stopped and look down, as if someone had requested a moment of silence out
of respect for fallen comrades.

"They each developed a very serious dependency on this stuff, a nasty little
addiction that made them mentally unstable and unpredictable, hard to control.
It wasn't so much the drug as it was the power. You can get drunk on this
stuff. And then, it was discovered that all of the subjects were developing
some very nasty cancerous tumors. These cancers, it turns out, were not
accidents. They were designed to They're all dead."

"What about you?"

"I have my share of tumors. It's just matter of time."

Mulder felt a sorrow for the woman that made him uncomfortable. Was she not the

"And me? What's my prognosis, now that you've exposed me?"

"Long term exposure to the green stuff is necessary. You'll be fine."

"What exactly is the green stuff?"

"Do you really want to know?"


"Find out for yourself."

Lacy squatted down by the bed. She looked directly into Mulder's eyes. She
seemed almost giddy, as if about to open a present she's been waiting to get her
hands on.

"I've never invited anyone in before. You're the first."

"The first?" And then he knew. Somehow he knew. The first ever to be invited
inside her head. He didn't know how. He just took a deep breath and --

Mulder flinched as if someone had jabbed him in the chest with a sharp object.
A flood of images assaulted him. In the time it took him to blink, he knew
everything there was to know about Lacy Jordan. He saw her as a child, her
family, her friends, her life. He saw her abduction, heard the cries of Doris
Rainey, saw and felt the tests, her training, her first kill. He saw the
doctors with their needles and tubes, how mean they were to her, the names they
called her thinking she was too sedated to hear them, but she heard them! He
felt her hatred of her captors, the detachedness she was trained to feel for he
kills, her pain and total aloneness. He saw her locked in what appeared to be a
bank vault, so afraid of her were her captors. They'd created a monster and
feared what they had created. How horrible to be a girl of fourteen and realize
you are a monster! How horrible to live without human contact unless it was to
be injected or restrained. Living a life of virtually no human contact until th
ey brought her out to study her or hurt her or show her off to their consortium
benefactors. He saw her strapped to tables and tested over and over again, he
saw the hands of the male doctors and military men creeping to places they
should not have gone while she was strapped down and knocked out. She was fully
aware of it, but powerless to stop them. He saw the tumors growing inside her
and knew the agony they were causing. He saw the myriad times she had been
shot, stabbed, hit and returned to her vault/tomb/home with not a thank you or
an apology. He saw her terror and outrage the day she found out that some of
what she was being injected with all her life came from a dead thing kept inside
a jar that wasn't even from world. He felt the pain and the burning and the
sickness and saw the hundreds of times she begged them crying, "kill me, kill
me, please, kill me...."


Mulder awoke with a start, fighting to catch his breath. His head was still
full of images, his own memories competing with those of Lacy's. How had he
been able to do that? The very idea made him anxious, excited. As frightening
as it was, he wanted to experience that sensation again.

There was no sign of Lacy, and he was handcuffed to the bed again. There was a
one gallon size jug of orange juice beside the bed with a note attached. "Drink
this, you'll need it." Next to the jug was a huge folder filled with newspaper
clippings, email hard copy and photo copied articles. Mulder struggled to sit
up and grabbed the juice first. It was cold and the carton was sweaty. He
downed about a quart of it non-stop. And then he reached for the file. Several
pages fell out. He reached down and picked up an article about a Mexican
airline disaster, pages that looked like laboratory documentation, an article
about the bombing of a government facility, and an old, yellowed photograph of
the class of sixty-six. Twelve little heads were circled in red. The child
that was Lacy was the only one not smiling.

Mulder sat back and began to read.

* * *

Stafford Hill Lock-Up
7:26 a.m.

Scully awoke with a start. Someone was there. She practically fell off of the
cot and spun around, looking for the intruder.

Another visit from Franklin Pickett was the last thing she needed. Scully had
just about convinced herself she was safely alone. She turned and found Lacy
standing outside the cell, smiling.

"We haven't been properly introduced," Lacy said.

"I know who you are," Scully said evenly, working hard not to betray her fear.
"Where's Mulder?" Scully moved dangerously close to the bars. "If you've hurt
him -- "

"Mulder's fine."

"Where is he?"

"He's at my place, sleeping. You look like you could use a couple more hours
yourself. Why don't you lie down, relax a bit. You'll see Mulder soon, I

Dana found herself becoming quite sleepy.

"What are you doing to me?"

Scully barely made it back to the cot before sleep overtook her.

Lacy watched the petite redhead sleep, and took a moment to linger inside the
woman's head. She saw Mulder quite prominently there. Lacy felt a twinge of
jealously, but quickly dismissed it. As Scully slept, Lacy placed a message in
her head. She would never know where it came from or why she felt compelled to
say it. It was something Lacy knew she could never in a million years say
herself. It wasn't necessary, not even rational, but Lacy wanted someone to

She was not a monster.

* * *

Stafford Hills Grade School
8:30 am

Mulder awoke remembering Scully. He had dozed off while reading the files.
Lacy's evidence and notes implicated Peyton Grey, but he wasn't ready to accept
it, not until he talked to Lacy again.

He found the cuffs had been removed. He even felt better, like the bug had
passed, but it had left him weak and sore. He rose and found his undershirt,
shirt and shoes and quickly put them on and headed for the door.

"Going somewhere?"

Mulder spun around the find Lacy standing behind him. Where had she come from?

"I've got to get to Scully."

"She's okay, for now."

"How do you know?"

"I paid her a visit," said Lacy as she came around to block the door. "I
thought you'd like to know she's okay."

"Get out of my way."

"Let her be for now. They're not going to do anything to her until they've got
you. Leave now and you're both dead."

Mulder felt dizzy. Lacy reached for him, to help him stay on his feet, but
Mulder pulled away. He sat down on bed and rubbed his face, feeling hot and
slightly feverish again.

"At least let me get back to the motel room. In case you forgot, there's a dead
body in my room, lying in a pool of blood. Someone may want to talk to me about

"Already taken care of. It's in my trunk."

"Hope it doesn't get too warm today."

"Did you read the stuff I left you? I thought you'd appreciate my attempt at
writing a profile on Peyton Grey. I realize it's not as good as your stuff,

"You want me to believe that Peyton Grey is responsible for all of that?"

"Yes. And the others."

"Why did they let them go, why did they keep you?"

"Someone on the inside engineered it."

"Emil Vorcek?"

"I knew I liked you for a reason, Mulder. Vorcek had his own agenda. He
falsified the test results and had the children released. The Governmen
t-sponsored project continued, with me as the flagship subject, and Vorcek as
head goon. Meanwhile, Vorcek conducted his own side-project with Peyton, Ginny,
Clarence and the others. He continued to administer the drug for years to the
very individuals who are now suddenly turning up dead."

"And the disasters? You're telling me they are responsible for everything in
this file? The Aero Mexicali crash of ninety-one? The outbreak of
cryptospyridium in the drinking water in Washington, D.C.? The Amtrak de
railment in Boston? Boris Yeltsin's heart trouble? The last six World Series?"

Lacy nodded. "And more, probably from as far back as nineteen-seventy-two, but,
this was all I've been able to compile. Eleven individuals working in concert,
for whatever entity, foreign or domestic would pay their outrageous fee. The
politics weren't at all important, just the fee. Think of them as high-priced
prostitutes with Vorcek as their pimp."

"Why didn't you blow the whistle on them earlier?"

"I only recently acquired the contract to see to Vorcek's retirement. I
stumbled upon this information in my 'research'. All of this could have been
prevented if.... I always knew what Peyton and the others could do. But they
were my friends. They swore they would come back for me."

"Did they?"

Lacy didn't have to answer. Mulder knew her so called friends had abandoned
her, left her like the biblical scapegoat, to be slaughtered for their sins.

"I kept their secret, knowing that if it were revealed, they would either be
destroyed, or worse, have done to them what was done to me. All this," she
said, pointing to the thick file, "because I believed a lie. I had a choice,
report them to my superiors, or stop them myself."

"So you killed them?"

"No, I didn't kill them."

Mulder shook his head and smirked in disbelief.

"I didn't kill them. I went to them, one by one, to give them a chance to

"It's just a coincidence they ended up dead?"

"Peyton killed them. Together they'd amassed an incredible fortune. Peyton
never cared much for sharing."

"I can't believe after all these years, after they deserted you, you'd still try
and save them."

"They were my friends."

Lacy could feel Mulder's deep distrust. "I'm not lying. You can read me if you

"How do I know you've been showing me the truth?"

"You can only hide what you see on the outside. I've read you a dozen times
over, Fox Mulder. That's why I chose you to help me."

"What do you mean, 'chose me'?"

"The day we met, that's when I knew you were the right man. We share the same
enemies. The men who did this to me, turned me into a walking toxic waste dump,
they're the same men who are responsible for your sister."

Mulder froze with anger and indecision. He remembered Doris Rainey's des
cription of the Smoking Man. The Cancer Man. It could be true. And there was
something in the back of his mind, a residual from the trip inside Lacy's head
earlier. Or it could be another manipulation?

"What do you know about my sister?"

"Samantha? Only what I've seen in your head. They know her. And they know
where she is."

Mulder stood up. "Where is she?"

"I don't know."

"Then what good does this do me?"

"None. I just thought you'd like to know."

"Can't you 'read' them and find out where she is?"

"Do it yourself."

Lacy stood up and walked to her console.

Mulder sat back down, frustrated. He knocked the files to the floor with an
angry swipe, then covered his face. Was this another lie just to ensure his
cooperation? He'd been spoon fed untruths so often that he never knew where the
truth ended and the lie began. His head ached from information overload, from
the virus, and from worry about Scully. This was all just too much.

"Okay," he snapped. His voice was loud and threatening. "Enough dancing around
the issue. What do you want from me? Why give me this virus? So I can see
inside people's heads, peep at their dirty little secrets? So what? What does
this do to make me 'invincible'? How do I save my partner and get the bad

"I think it's time," she said, keeping her back to Mulder as she spoke, "to show
you what you can do. Stand up."

Mulder sat defiantly. He knew if Lacy really wanted him to do anything, she
could make him. So he sat up, stood up, and adopted a don't-mess-with-me stance
that was superfluous where Lacy was concerned, but it made him feel at least
marginally in control.

"Take off your shirt," she said.

"Excuse me?"

"I said --" Lacy turned around, and pointed Mulder's own Sig Sauer at him.

"-- take off your shirt."

Mulder felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickling, pins and needles in his
armpits, and a wave of nausea in his gut. His finger tips were numb as he began
to unbutton his shirt.

"Undershirt, too."

He dropped his shirt on the bed and then pulled his tee shirt over his head,
dropping it beside the shirt. Damp cold assaulted his bare skin.

"Anymore'll cost you extra," he said.

"That'll do, thanks." Lacy pulled the trigger.

Even as he heard the report, felt the hot slug slam into his abdomen, even as he
staggered back from impact, he refused to believe he had been shot. But only
for a second. The pain was overwhelming. The rush of his blood instantly
warmed his cold hands. Mulder doubled over, his face twisted in agony, his
knees hitting the floor, and looked at the gaping hole in his gut from his own

'This is it,' he thought. 'This is how it ends.' His body began to tremble
uncontrollably. He expected weakness to take him all the way down, anticipated
being taken under the dark, gentle blanket of unconsciousness which would then
taxi him painlessly to death's door.

But it didn't happen.

He heard laughter, and looked up into Lacy's smiling face. God, she was
beautiful, he found himself thinking, along with a laundry list of expletives to
describe her treachery. But her laughter was not of the conqueror. She laughed
as if she knew a secret and was dying to share it with him.

That was when Mulder felt it. He had no idea what to call it, or how to
describe it. He spasmed hard -- once, twice.

"HUH!" escaped from his throat, rushed through his lips as he felt the r
ejection process begin. His stomach muscles, which should have been torn
asunder from the slug began to flutter hard.

"Huh! Uhn! What's happening to me?"

Lacy put the gun down and sat on the bed, watching, smiling. "Easy, Mulder.
Just ride it out."

Mulder lifted his bloody hands from the wound and watched as the slug was
suddenly expelled from his body, virtually spat out of the hole it had created
like an indigestible piece of gristle. It hit the floor with a clang.


He stuck his index and middle finger into the deep bloody wound and felt
pressure pushing against him. New tissue was regenerating and knitting itself
into place. Within seconds, the hole in Mulder's abdomen was closed. He wiped
away the blood that was quickly drying and saw a quarter-size patch of new,
pinkish skin. He could not still the quivering of his full bottom lip as he
looked up at Lacy with her Cheshire Cat-like grin.

"It's a kick, ain't it?" she asked, and threw him a damp towel.

End Chapter 4

Zend yoor commentz 2



Lacadiva (
December 1, 1997

Disclaimer in Part 1.


Investor's Bank

Peyton Grey was a happy man. He was feeling downright giddy. Everything was
going according to plan. Everything, that is, accept for the addition of the
FBI agents, and Dr. Vorcek.

When he felt Vorcek die, Peyton was angry, but not because the old man was dead.
He'd been slowly killing the old man himself for the last ten years anyway. He
was angry that someone else had cheated him out of the pleasure of snuffing the
doctor. What really angered him was that the killer was Lacy.

Lacy was good, he thought, as he slowly emptied the conference room safe of
several hundred plastic capsules of the booster medicine and piled it into a
metal brief case. She was subtle and quick; she never lingered for her own
personal pleasure, like he did. What good was having such incredible abilities
if you denied yourself pleasure?

As for the FBI agents, they had made it necessary for Peyton to improvise a bit,
but it only once again proved his superiority. The federal agents would
actually be quite useful. He knew Mulder was on the way, and he knew Lacy had
introduced him to the booster. Once introduced, there was no turning back. He
could use the addiction that would surely come against Mulder, convince him to
assist in his get away with the promise of a healthy supply, and then he'd
simply dispose of the agent. And if the addiction wasn't enough to convince
him, it was quite evident from his few trips in and out of Dana Scully's psyche
that this Mulder character would move heaven and earth for her. Peyton loved
predictability in people.

Peyton removed the eleven passports, dropping all but his own into a brass sink
and lighting a match to the pile. He watched as his former friends' passport
pictures curled up and burned, sending thin clouds of toxic smoke wafting into
the air.

'Call me, Frank,' Peyton thought. In a moment, just as the passports' flames
were reduced to ashes and embers, the phone rang.

"Peyton, what you want?"

"Frank, it's terrible. Terrible." Peyton began loading fat stacks of cash into
another brief case. "Ginny's dead."

"Ginny? NO! How?"

"Lacy killed her. It's time to go, Frank. I think we have to light a fire
under our plans. We're gonna have to leave the country now. Bring that Agent
Scully with you. I figure she can help us get out if things get hot."

"You said I could have her."

"And you can, soon as we're safely out of the country. Now get rid of anybody
who knows your comings and goings, grab the redhead and get over here. And
watch your back. Lacy's out there."

"I'm on my way. Hey, Peyton? How'd Ginny go?"

"It was painful."

"I'm gon' kill Lacy myself."

"You just be careful Frank. It's just you and me now."

Peyton hung up the phone. It's just you and me, now, he'd said. He didn't mean
Franklin. He was talking about the money.

* * *

Stafford Hill Grade School

"Didn't mean to scare you."

Lacy put the safety back on Mulder's Sig Sauer and handed it to him. His face
was pale, his stomach fluttering from the anger, fright and elation.

"How...? The rest of the words got lost.

Lacy gave Mulder his shirt.

"I wouldn't go throwing myself in front of an oncoming train, or hopping on top
of any grenades," Lacy said with a smirk. "Even invincibility is not without

"I should be dead," Mulder said as he buttoned his shirt with shaky fingers. He
was shaking all over. The shock of it had not yet left him. Lacy had fired at
him, point blank. He had seen the damage, felt the damage, and knew
intellectually that one of the most painful and lethal ways of dying was a
bullet wound to the gut. Yet here he was, still standing, his fingers still
stained with dried blood, his blood still drying on the floor. At least Lacy
had had the foresight to spare his white shirt by having him remove it.

He should have been mad, should have been ready to tear Lacy from limb to limb.
But he could not stop feeling as if he'd been give a brand new toy. The best

"I still don't get it," Mulder said. "How can this happen?"

"I'll explain it to you another time." Lacy rubbed her temples as if a serious
migraine were coming on.

"I spent half my career getting my ass kicked and losing my gun. Where were you
when I needed you? Lacy?"

Sweat was pouring off of Lacy's face as if she'd been standing in the rain. She
rotated her neck a few times to ease the creeping pain, but it kept coming. She
rose on shaky legs and then hit the floor. She held her head and fought back
the urge to scream and vomit. It had never hurt like this before. Lacy blacked

Mulder didn't know what else to do. He checked her pulse, which was racing, and
wiped the sweat from her brow with his sleeve. He lifted her head and placed a
pillow under it, then took her hand and held it. Her hand was ice-cold and
clammy. He stroked her forehead, much as she had done him in while in the
throes of his virus-sickness. Lacy's eyes fluttered and she coughed once as
consciousness slowly returned.

"That was Peyton," she said in a raspy whisper. "He knows we're coming." She
tried to sit up. Mulder helped her, and propped himself against her so she
could lean back.

"They're moving your partner."


"I can't, it hurts, I can't see right now. You have to find her."

"How? How do I do this?" he asked as he helped Lacy to her feet.

"Just put it out there, concentrate. Look for her. You know her better than

Mulder tried. He didn't know exactly how to do it. He concentrated hard,
pushed outward, desperate to find Scully the way Lacy had found her. Nothing.
Mulder picked up a broken chair and slung it against the wall. The crash sent a
new wave of pain through Lacy's skull.

"It's not happening! I don't know what I'm doing. I can't...I can't find her!"

Lacy stood and said moved slowly over to the console and sat down. She removed
her coat and tied the rubber tubing around her arm.

"The dosage I gave you...I only gave you a taste. I didn't want you going after
world domination on the first day."

"Then give me more."


"How am I supposed to beat this guy if I'm only half as strong as him?"

"That's what I'm here for," she said as she pierced the vein with the needle.

"Look at you, you can't even swat a fly right now."

"You're right, Mulder. And if you take any more of this stuff, this could be
you. Is being the stronger worth this to you?"

"I just want enough to guarantee I can stop Peyton Grey."

"Stop him? You going to bring him to justice?" She pulled the needle from her
arm and placed her head down, waiting for the drug to work it's magic.

"You're a fool, Mulder," she continued. "You can't bring him to justice. What
jail do you think can hold him? What judge can pronounce sentence? You can't
bring men like him and Vorcek and the rest of them to justice because there is
no justice. Not for them. There is only retribution."

"What does that make you?"

"You know, it's easy to think that you're better than the average junkie, but
believe me, you both have one thing in common. You think you can control it.
You can't. You think you're riding it, but it's riding you. Already you're
craving more. You're tripping on power you haven't even tried yet, Mulder. Now
who's becoming the monster?"

"Look, either give it to me, or don't! I don't need to hear your self-righteous

Lacy looked at Mulder. She saw his anger. Felt it. Understood. She held up
an unused syringe already filled with the green fluid.

"Don't you have the spray?"

"All gone. Just the needle. How badly do you want it?"

Mulder hated needles. He stared at it, considered turning it down, then thought
of Scully. He reached for it. She snatched it back quickly before Mulder could
touch it.

"Don't stare too long into the abyss," she said, and placed the syringe into his
open hand.

* * *

Stafford Hills Lock Up

Scully woke up and stretched. Her neck and her back were stiff from the old
mattress. She sat up and rubbed her eyes. When she opened them, she noticed
that her cell door was sitting open.

Scully rose and walked toward the door. This could be a trap. She walks out of
her cell, and Franklin Pickett would yell escaped prisoner and shoot her in the
back. It wouldn't be a surprise, considering the events that led up to her
incarceration. But then again, perhaps something was wrong and she should

Scully wished for her own gun as she slowly and cautiously crept out of the cell
and moved toward the stairs. She could hear nothing but for the muffled ringing
of telephones. Why was no one answering them?

She made her way up the stares and to the door of the office. She saw no
movement behind the frosted glass. She reached for the knob.

Something was in the way as she tried to push the door open. She put her
shoulder into it and pushed harder. Whatever it was moved. She looked inside.

Sheriff Irving Tucker lay on the floor in a pool of blood.

Scully's breath caught. She stepped into the office, and three deputies lay
bleeding one the floor as well. And the phone kept ringing.

Scully went to each one and checked for vitals. All were dead. It occurred to
Scully a little too late that Franklin Pickett was not among the dead.

She raced for the door.

A long arm wrapped around her throat and pulled her back against a thick, warm
body. "Not so fast, shorty."

"You killed them?"

"No, you killed them. That's the report I'm filing. You used your feminine
wiles and got stupid old Sheriff Tucker to open the door for you, then you
grabbed a letter opener and pig-stuck each and every one of them."

"No one's gonna believe that."

"Then I guess I can make 'em believe it. Let's go."

"Where are you talking me?"

"Peyton wants us over at the Office Park."

Scully scraped her heel down Franklin's shin. He yelped in pain and surprise.
She broke away, then kicked the big trooper in the groin. He doubled over and
grabbed himself, his pale face turning beet red.

Scully ran to Tucker's body and pulled his service revolver from the sheriff's
holster. She aimed it at Franklin.

Franklin looked at her and smiled through his agony. Suddenly the gun was
moving on it's own. Scully fought to hold on to it, but the barrell of the gun
was slowly being forced up to aim at Scully.


Franklin pulled himself together and stood up. He walked angrily toward Scully
and physically took the gun from her. Then he punched her. Scully hit the
floor hard, unconscious.

"Shoot. I hate it when they pass out."

Franklin Pickett scooped Dana Scully up off of the floor and carried her out of
the squad room.

* * *

Investor's Bank

Mulder stepped on the rubber mat that activated the automatic doors. He entered
with Lacy at his side. The lights were low, and the building empty of workers.

"She's here," Mulder said with surprise. He had actually found her, felt her.
He felt the deepest connection with Dana Scully ever. It was as if she were
wired to a monitor inside his head. His senses were working overtime. He'd
never experienced anything like this. He could count the rhythm of her
heartbeats, and tell she was in distress. Mulder wanted nothing more than to
find her, and bring pain to the one who had brought her distress.

"Go find her. I'll handle Peyton."

"No," Mulder said. He knew she was weak. He knew Lacy was dying. "We'll both
find Scully, then we'll go after Peyton together."

"Forget it, Mulder. This is my job. This is what I do. I don't know anything
else. You've got your FBI career, and your partner. You need to find her and
get out of here as quickly as possible, because they won't allow for witnesses."

Mulder turned to her with a questioning look. He thought he smelled cigarette
smoke, but he realized it was only in his head. Before Lacy could say another
word, he knew.

"They're coming for you."

"They know Vorcek is dead, and I haven't reported in, which to them means I'm
rogue, a liability. Can't have their monsters hanging out in society. There's
one more injection with my name on it, but it won't be the green stuff this

"Then you should leave now, while you can. Just go."

"And do what? Go where? What are they going to do, kill me? Mulder, I'm
already dead."

Mulder couldn't help it; he fumbled by the cuff of her leather coat until he
found her cool hand, and squeezed it.

"Besides, you can't handle Peyton alone. If I'm going to hell tonight, I'm
going to take the devil with me. Find your partner. I'll take care of the
Peyton Grey."

She pulled her hand out of Mulder's grip and headed toward a bank of elevators.

* * *

Mulder stepped off the elevator and was greeted by frigid air from the over
working air conditioning system. The silence was so complete, he cleared is
throat just to see if he could still hear it. He walked in the direction his
senses dictated, pulling his gun from the back of his pants and holding it

He saw the double doors at the end of the hall and knew that was where his
partner was being held. He picked up his pace but still kept up his guard.

It did not register at first what was happening. Mulder realized he had been
walking an inordinately long time and had yet to reach the door. It seemed like
it was moving away from him. The faster he moved toward the door, the farther
the door seemed to retreat from him. Mulder stopped. All the walking had done
nothing to close the gap of distance. Then Mulder realized someone was playing
with his head.

He stopped and closed his eyes, gun held high and ready. He sought the energy
that had forced this illusion on him. There inside his head he met Franklin
Pickett. He felt the man laugh.

Mulder opened his eyes and found he was standing right in front of the co
nference room door. Another step and he would have gone through it. Mulder
reached down and touched the gilt knob and turned. It was not locked. He
counted three to himself and kicked the door open.

The entire room was in flames.

* * *

Lacy walked past a bank of elevators with black mirrored doors and walls. DING!
She stopped and watched as one of the elevator doors opened. It was empty. She
realized it had been sent for her. Lacy stepped inside. The door closed.

Before she could press a floor button the elevator car began to move. It
ascended faster than the manufacturer would recommend, if it were being powered
by a conventional energy source. But this had a signature all its own.

The car stopped abruptly and the door flew open. There was a small stairway and
a door. Near the door was a sign and an arrow -- ROOF ACCESS. Lacy made her
way up the steps and walked out onto the roof.

Peyton Grey was standing right on the edge, as if about to jump. His back was
to Lacy, but he didn't need to see her to know she was there.

Lacy stepped closer and tried to read him. He was closed to her. He was
strong. Stronger than she hoped. This was going to take a while.

"I'm gonna miss Stafford Hills. Well, maybe not that much."

Peyton Grey turned and offered Lacy a smile. He hopped down and approached
Lacy, but left a good ten paces between them.

"Been a long time, Lacy. Years been good to you?"

"I've been good. How 'bout you?"

Peyton laughed. "I'm glad to see you, despite what you might think."

"Why'd you do it, Peyton?"

"I had my reasons, thirty-seven million little tax-free reasons. And you know
how I've always felt about people."

"There's one thing I need to know before I kill you, Peyton. Why did you leave
me there? You could have taken me with the rest. We could have all walked out
of there together. I kept your secret all along. You said you'd come back for

Peyton shrugged. "I lied. See, that was your problem, Lacy. You always
believed what people told you. They told you they were gonna make you like
Superman. But look at you. You falling apart, girl. They told you you'd be
serving your country, but what has your country done to serve you? And I heard
about them funny little cancers they gave you. I'm so sorry. Perhaps I can
help you out of your misery."

Lacy reached inside his head but hit another wall. He sent energy back at her,
triggering the tumor in her head. She collapsed to her knees and let out a
scream that could be heard over half of Stafford Hills.

* * *

Fire raged through the entire room. Very little was left untouched. 'I'm going
to burn,' Mulder thought. He could not move, except to cover his face. He
could run not away, he could not proceed. Fear seized him and held him
powerless. All he could do was stand there a feel the flames lapping violently
around him, and feel the smoke filling his chest and forcing him to cough. He
tried to bend his knees to get down low, but even that was more effort that he
could conjure up. Mulder was going to die.

Franklin Pickett sat comfortably in a conference room chair watching Mulder. He
began to laugh, so thoroughly amused was he. Scully sat in a chair opposite
Pickett, her eyes darting between the gun Pickett was holding on her, and the
strange behavior of her partner. Her heart nearly leaped from her chest when
the door opened and Mulder appeared. But then, he immediately let out a cry and
covered his face as if he were being attacked by a swarm of killer bees. What
was terrifying him so?

She knew Pickett was playing his mind games. She didn't know how he could do
it, but somehow Pickett was making Mulder believe that something was attacking
him. But what was it? She couldn't see anything!

She watched her partner as, in his mind, fire leaped onto his right arm and
began eating away at his clothes, burning into his skin, devouring his flesh.
He yelled, and began to beat the flames from his arm.

Scully knew then. Fire. She had seen his reaction to fire before. He had even
confessed to her his fear of fire. She had to risk being shot by Pickett to
save her partner from madness and death.

"Mulder! It's not real!"

"Hush up!" Pickett said, raising his gun filled hand and threatening to smash
her with it.

Mulder could hear a voice, just barely over the roar of the raging fire.


"Mulder! There's no fire!"

Mulder opened his eyes and found that he was standing in the cool, flame-free
conference room. He uncovered his face and found Scully and Pickett sitting
across the room. Mulder aimed his weapon at Pickett. Pickett merely smiled and
kept his gun trained on Scully's head.

"You sure looked funny, slapping at nothin'," Pickett said with a toothy grin.

"Happy to amuse you," Mulder said. He looked at Scully and realized that her
chin was bruised and she was slightly disheveled.

"You okay, Scully?"

Scully nodded noncommittally.

"Let her go, Frank, and we can call it a day."

"Who? You mean Red? Can't. She's our ticket out of here."

"Let her go, and I'll be your ticket."

"No, Mulder!"

"Let her go," Mulder demanded. "You can take me. I can get you out of the

"Peyton's already got that worked out so we don't need you, bro."

Mulder raised his hand and made a show of relinquishing his gun, placing it on
the table and stepping away from it.


"Hush!" Franklin yelled at Scully. "Women!"

"Look, said Mulder, slowly moving closer. "Let her go, and I'll do anything I
can to help you and Peyton get out. I can. I'm one of you now."

"You like this little redhead, don't you? Don't bother lying to me cause I can
read you like a book. Let's see what else is up there."

Mulder could feel Franklin's telepathic fumblings and realized that he was as
stupid as he acted. His little tricks with the fire and the moving door were
hardly original ideas. Mulder was able to ride right back on Franklin's energy
and read enough to know the man had the IQ of a squid. The only reason he wore
a uniform was because of Peyton, and he had never enforced the law a day in his
life. Being a deputy was just a way to protect Peyton's interests. And Mulder
didn't like what he saw in the man's head about Scully. It made his forehead
and cheeks flush with anger.

Mulder found something else up there too. It was a surprise at first, but then
he remembered an earlier conversation when they first arrived to Stafford Hills.

"Wait till I tell my Uncle Frank, he's a state trooper." Amanda Sheldrake, the
little post-high school Lolita at the Municipal Building -- this was the Uncle
Frank to whom she had referred. She was there, in his head, and it wasn't
pretty. Mulder felt his stomach turn at the thought of what Franklin imagined
doing to his own niece. Mulder saw the numerous times Franklin had peeped
through windows, keyholes, "accidentally" walked into her room, and offered
candy for a kiss closer to the lips than an uncle should. He wanted to beat
Franklin Pickett to a pulp right there. But he had to save Scully. First.

"Amanda knows."


"Amanda, she knows. She knows what you think about her."

Franklin looked panicked. Mulder could see the gun wavering in his hand.

"She told your sister," Mulder whispered. "She's telling her right now."

"Liar! She don't know nothing! I ain't never done nothing to her! I seen her
but it was by accident! What do you now about it?"

"Everybody going to know, Franklin. She told your sister, and now she's goint
to tell everybody. They'll know your secret. They'll know what's in your

"No!" Franklin turned the gun on Mulder.

Guilt, thought Mulder, is one heck of a weapon.

Scully held her breath. She didn't approve of this, thought Mulder out of his
mind, but to move or utter a sound right now could mean the end for both of
them. Pickett was obviously psychotic and one step from pulling the trigger,
and Mulder had yet to pick his gun back up.

"Let Scully go," Mulder whispered, walking closer to Franklin, "and I'll make
sure they leave you alone."

Franklin leaped to his feet, pushing the chair back against the wall. He held
the gun so close to Mulder's forehead that Mulder could feel the cold radiating
off the metal barrell. Mulder didn't blink. He was invincible.

Scully stood slowly, just out of Franklin's line of vision. She moved slowly
behind him.

"Nobody will hurt you," Mulder said, almost cooing as one would to a small child
who's fallen and skinned his knee. "Nobody will hurt you because of the dirty
thoughts in your head."

Franklin was shaking, near tears. This was the thorn in his side, his Achilles
heel. He loved Amanda since she was a baby, but something strange started
happening when she became a little girl. He hated himself for it and Peyton
promised nobody would ever know.

"Put the gun down," Mulder coaxed.

Scully saw her one and only chance and took it. She threw herself into F
ranklin's body, knocking him to the floor. His gun went off as he impacted on
the polished marble, the bullet finding a home in the tiled ceiling. The gun
skittered a few feet away, out of sight.

Mulder leaped atop Franklin and did his best to keep the man down. Franklin may
be stupid, but he was strong, Mulder thought. Franklin's ham-like fingers
clenched around Mulder's neck, shutting off his air. Did invincibility cover
asphyxiation? Mulder wondered?

Scully moved across the room to Mulder's gun. "Mulder! I have him!"

Mulder was not in the mood to listen. This pervert had horrible things in mind
for Scully and Mulder wasn't sure the man deserved to live. Mulder managed to
break Franklin's hold and punched him in the face. Franklin was dazed, so
Mulder punched him again. And again. And again for good measure. Franklin lay
there, eyes closed, mouth opened.

Mulder stood up, spent from the fight, his knuckles bloodied, and felt himself
stumble on his own feet as he found his way to Scully. He wrapped his arms
around her and breathed a deep sign of relief.

"Mulder, you okay?

"Yeah. You?"

"Yeah." Scully gently pulled away and held Mulder's gun out to him.

"You hang on to it, Scully. You sure you're okay?"

"Yes. Mulder," she said, tucking her parnter's gun in her waistband behind her
back. "What in God's name is going on here?"

"I'll explain later. We have to find Lacy."

"She's here?"

"Yes, and I have a feeling she's going to have her hands full."

Mulder and Scully started for the door. Something went off inside of Mulder's
head. Franklin's gun. It was already too late.

It all seemed to move lightening fast for Scully -- too fast to comprehend and
react to -- but for Mulder, the world slowed down. As he turned around he saw
Franklin crawling across the floor and reaching for the gun.


Franklin held the gun up and aimed, the barrel pointing just below Scully's
head. Mulder grabbed Scully, completely covering her with his own body.

"Mulder, what...!"

Franklin fired. Once, Twice. Three times.

Scully felt the impact through Mulder, felt his body jerked as each shot slammed
into him. Heard the thin sound of pain from his mouth with each shot. She saw
it in his face. The first bullet hit Mulder in the left shoulder blade. The
second hit him in the middle of the lower back. The third hit just below the


Blood was running from the side of his mouth in a thin river. He gave her a
weak smile. His mouth moved, but no sound came out.


He looked into her eyes for a second, and then light in his eyes died.

"Mulder, no," she said, her voice cracking with grief.

Mulder fell, knocking Scully to floor and landing on top of her. The force of
the fall knocked the wind from her. The back of her head hurt from where it hit
the floor. She lay stunned, Mulder's blood covering her, Mulder's still warm
body on top of her.

Mulder's dead. Mulder's dead. Those bullets were meant for me. Mulder's dead.
The words played like a litany. Something inside Scully's head simply shut
down. The room went black.

Franklin Pickett stood up and kicked the two. "Dang!" he yelled. He was
bleeding profusely from the mouth and from a cut over his eye from Mulder's

"See what you get!" he shouted.

He stuck his gun in his belt and left the conference room in search of Peyton.

* * *


Lacy forced herself back on her feet and leaped on Peyton. She slammed his head
in the ground, again and again, then pushed off and landed deftly on her feet.
Using her Doc Martens as weapons she kicked Peyton in the face and sent him
rolling across the floor of the roof. She kicked him again. And again. She
grabbed him by the back of his jacket and lifted him up.

"Here's a happy little thought for you!" she yelled. And then she invaded his
brain. This time she found a way in and let loose everything she had. She hit
him with a barrage of fears and frightening images that scared her even to
conjure up. Peyton screamed and scrambled to get a way.

There was a sound from above. It was a helicopter. Lacy fought to keep focused
on what she was doing. But that split second diversion was all Peyton needed.
Peyton slipped into Lacy's psyche and let her have it.

Searing pain tore through Lacy's head like a red-hot poker in through the brain.
She yell again and released Peyton, falling back against a brick wall, feet
tripping over buckets and rags and other window cleaning equipment. It hurt so
badly she could barely see.

Peyton climbed shakily to his feet and brushed off his suit jacket. He removed
a white handkerchief from his inside jacket pocket and wiped away the blood from
his lip.

"You fight like an alley cat. Got me all excited!" he said as he approached

She tried to push away from the wall, to resume the fight, but there was not
strength left. What point was there to struggling? What need was there to
survive? Lacy slid down the rough brick wall and felt the world begin to slip

"Oh, don't go yet, Lacy girl. The fun's just begun. You ever been dropped out
of a helicopter?"

"I'm going to kill you."

"I don't think so."

Peyton grabbed Lacy by the collar of her coat and pulled her up on her feet.
She was like a rag doll, dead weight, but Peyton had no trouble pulling her

The helicopter pilot saw Peyton with the semi-conscious woman in his arms and
climbed out of the helicopter, ducking from the still revolving blades.

"Sir! Do you need an ambulance? Can I help you?"

"No, but you can take a flying leap."

The pilot did not know what came over him, but he turned and ran and kept
running until he reached the edge of the building. Then he jumped.

Peyton laughed.

He propped Lacy up against a wall. "You stay there, now, y'hear?"

Peyton wandered back by the entrance to the roof and grabbed his two brief
cases. He ran to the helicopter and tossed them inside. When he turned back
for Lacy, she was gone.

"Now I though I told you to stay put?"

Lacy came out of nowhere and landed on Peyton's back. They rolled along the
roof floor until they came to the edge. Lacy, on top, pulled Peyton up and
forced him toward the edge. His hands reached out and grabbed her face. His
fingers went for her eyes. She pulled back as far as she could.


Lacy turned and faced the barrel of Franklin Pickett's gun. He fired. The
bullet entered her head just above her left eye.

She let go of Peyton and staggered back. She reached up and touched the hole in
her head. There was very little blood. That's not a good sign she thought.

Lacy didn't even feel it when she fell. All she could think of was how lovely
was the sky.

* * *

Mulder's eyes felt like they had grit in them, and his mouth was dry as if it
had been stuffed with cotton. He was cold, really cold. When he opened his
eyes the first thing he saw was red hair splayed on the floor. And then he

Mulder pushed up on his elbows and found Scully lying unconscious under him. He
pushed up onto his knees and noticed the blood. He remembered the shots fired,
and the pain; still he checked Scully to make sure the bullets hadn't torn
through him and hit his partner.

He lifted her shirt and saw, to his relief, that despite the blood, there were
no wounds. He felt the back of her head and found a small knot where she'd
undoubtedly banged her head on the way down. Mulder brushed the hair from her
face and kissed her forehead.

"You'll be fine," he whispered. He stood and felt around his body. The burning
in his back let him know he was still mending. Three shots to the back, yet he
was standing, breathing, living. Mulder smiled. He could get used to this.

Relieved that Scully would recover, and that he was still alive, he went in
search of Lacy.

* * *

"No!" Peyton yelled, "SHE WAS MINE!"

Franklin thought he had done a good thing, but now he had gone and made Peyton
mad. Bad move.

"I'm sorry, Peyton, but I thought she was gonna kill you!"


"She killed Ginny! I owed her!"

Peyton walked over to Franklin, breathing hard like a bull about to charge.
Franklin cringed.

"Don't hit me, Peyton!"

Peyton reached out, just until Franklin ducked, then grabbed the man and pulled
him into a hug.

"I'm not going to hit you Frank. I'm never gonna hit you again, unnerstand?"

"Thank you. I'm sorry I shot Lacy. Is she dead?"

"No, but I bet she wish she was. I thought we'd drop her out of the helicopter,
see if she can bounce."

Franklin giggled. "Can I push her?"

"You wanna take away all my fun?"

"Okay, you push her. We ready to go now?"

"Yeah, we're ready to go."

"You got our money?"

"It's in the helicopter."

"I'll get Lacy."

Peyton started walking toward the helicopter while Franklin went to Lacy. He
kicked her once. She didn't respond. Her eyes were open but it was as if she
wasn't even there.

"Git up!" he demanded. He reached down and grabbed Lacy's arm and pulled it
over his shoulder, and dragged her to the helicopter. He dropped her at
Peyton's feet.

"Oh, Frank, there's one more thing I gotta take care of."

"What's that?"

Franklin had no idea what caused it, but he heard a tremendous snap, like wood
being broken in half. And then there was pain, and he found himself sprawled on
the roof floor. He looked down at his legs and screamed. The bones in both
legs had been snapped like twigs and his legs were splayed in the most inhuman

"Thanks for all your help Frank, but I'll be taking this trip by myself."

"Please, Peyton! NO! Please!"

Franklin heard another snap. It was his neck.

* * *

Scully moaned as she came too. Something wet and cold was all over her. She
opened her eyes and blinked. She saw the ceiling, which meant nothing until she
saw the bullet hole.


Scully sat up. Mulder was there earlier, he'd fallen on top of her, before she
passed out. Mulder was dead. Three bullets in the back. There was no way he
could have survived. But where was he?

She looked down at her clothes, soaked with Mulder's blood. His blood also
stained the floor where they lay. But there was no sign of Mulder. She could
only imagine that Franklin had taken his body. But why?

Scully rose on shakey legs. There was pain in her lower back. She realized she
had fallen with Mulder's gun still tucked into the back of her clothes. She was
going to have a nasty bruise. Thank God the safety was on.

Scully headed for the door to find Franklin, Peyton, or Lacy. It didn't matter.
Someone was going to pay for Mulder.

* * *

Mulder hit the roof just as Franklin Pickett's neck was wrung like a chicken's.
He saw Lacy on the ground, trying to move. A quick sweeping assessment of Lacy
told him she was dying.


Mulder didn't mean for that to slip out. Peyton looked up at the sound of his

"It's the FBI boy! You still alive? Look at you!" Peyton said with a laugh.

Mulder looked down at himself. His clothes were soaked with blood and he was as
white as a sheet. He looked disoriented and he could barely stand on his feet.
He could still feel the wounds in his back closing and the bones fusing back

"I'm taking a little trip. Care to go along?"

"Actually, I don't think you're going anywhere."

"That so?"

Peyton put a foot on Lacy's throat.

"She's alive, for the moment. Make one move and I'll be forced to take a step."

"Leave her. Take me."

"What on earth for? Martyrs are no fun. Your partner, however....?"

Mulder turned to the roof entrance. There was Scully, gun ready.

Her mouth dropped and her eyes widened when she saw her partner there, bloody
but very much alive.


She saw Peyton Grey and trained the gun on him.


"Oh, for goodness sake," said Peyton shaking his head. "You two are rele


Suddenly Scully couldn't breath. It was as if the air had suddenly disappeared,
or some cosmic vacuum had just sucked all the oxygen away. A deep, strangling
sound escaped her as she reached for her throat, dropping her gun.

"Scully!" Mulder raced to Scully and caught her before she hit the ground. Her
own hands were wrapped around her throat. Mulder tried to pry her fingers away,
but they would not be moved.

"It's gonna be a pity to kill you two, Fox Mulder," Peyton said.

"Then don't. Let her go."

Mulder felt a mental tug. He looked down at Lacy and saw her eyes. She winked.
Mulder knew, keep Peyton occupied.

Mulder tried to force his way into Peyton's head. Peyton reacted as if he'd
been tickled. He reached in and found Mulder's must vulnerable spot and

Mulder got the signal from Lacy and threw himself across Scully to protect her.

Lacy pushed with her all she had left. She found the fuel tank. All she need
to do was create one little spark...

The helicopter exploded.

Peyton was too preoccupied with conjuring up a nightmare for Mulder. He heard
the explosion, but there was no time to react. He didn't even have time to
scream before one of the broken, flaming blades whirled his way, slicing his
head cleanly off. The head flew over the roof and smashed to the ground, while
the body collapsed like a marionette whose string were unceremoniously snipped.

Invincibility had it limits.

Mulder looked over at the twitching body, then turned away. Small fires had
broken out in places where burning pieces of the chopper had landed.

Mulder rose off of Scully. She was no longer fighting for air.

"Mulder, what happened?"

"Peyton lost his head."

He pulled his partner to her feet and held on to her arms, helping her steady

"No, I mean you! You! I saw Pickett shoot you. There was blood."

"I'm okay."

"Mulder you have three bullet wounds in your back," she demanded as she tried to
pull Mulder's shirt away and examine the damage.

"No, I don't."

"I don't understand."

"I'll explain later. You going to be okay?"

"Besides being terribly confused, I think so."

"Starting to get a little hot up here."

He turned to where Lacy was still lying semi-conscious. Scully saw and knelt
down to get a look at the wound on Lacy's forehead and check her vitals.

"Is she still alive?" Mulder asked. Another bit of the helicopter exploded and
sent flaming bits soaring.

"Not for long. Help me get her off this roof."

end Chapter Five

Please send your comments to moi, ''.

Are we there yet?



Lacadiva (
December 1, 1997

Disclaimer in Part 1.


Investor's Bank

Mulder stood in the parking lot, looking up at the fire as it raged on the roof,
slowly making its way down one floor at a time. Scully sat with Lacy, keeping
tabs on her vital signs until the paramedics arrived. She was shocked that
someone who had sustained a gun shot wound in the head as she had would still
be alive and somewhat lucid.

She was even more shocked when Lacy asked to sit up.

"I don't think that's a good idea."

Lacy held out a hand. Mulder reached down and took it and gave her a pull.
Lacy sat up and held her head down, obviously in pain.

"Mulder," Lacy said, "I have to get out of here. They'll be here shortly."

"Who'll be here?" asked Scully.

"You're in no condition to drive," Mulder told Lacy.

"Drive where?" Scully demanded.

"I'll be fine."

"Lacy, let me drive you where you're going. Scully can say and wait for the

"Would someone please tell Scully what's going on?" Scully cried.

Mulder turned to her. "I have to do something. It won't take long. Stay here,
I'll be back as fast as I can."

"Mulder, no."

"I'll be back and I will explain everything."

Mulder helped Lacy to her feet. Scully was surprised to see the woman actually
able to walk on her own.

* * *

"Here's a little souvenir."

Mulder looked away from the darkening road at Lacy. He held out his hand. She
placed something small, metallic and cool in his palm. Mulder held it close and
saw it was the slug from Lacy's head.

"Don't say I never gave you anything," she said with a waning smile.

They were back on the road to the Stafford Hills Grade School. Mulder had no
idea why she wanted to go back there when she should be heading away from her

"There's something there I need," was all she would say.

When they reached the old school house, she told Mulder to turn off the i

"This is where you get out," she said to Mulder.

He reached up and turned on the light. "Lacy, I can help you."

"Help me what?"

"The men who did this to you. They have to pay. They have to be held ac

"To whom?"

"To you, to me. To the public."

"No," she said with a weak laugh. "Tell the public there's a drug that can make
a man or woman virtually invincible... Do you really think they'd do the right
thing? You know what it's made of. Do you think the men responsible will admit
to any of this? Be assured they've already anticipated a breach in security and
are at this very minute covering up every possible loose end."

"So that's it. We continue allow them to get away with it, participate in their
acts of duplicity with our silence, by turning our heads, by hiding the truth to
protect the very men who would destroy us as a means to their diabolitcal end.
I'm sick of it. I can't do that anymore. Somebody has to tell the truth."

"You'll be shouting at the ocean, Mulder."

"They I guess I'll have to keep shouting, 'till someone hears me."

Lacy winced as a jolt of pain shot through her head. She reached into her
inside coat pocket and pulled out her silver metal case, and handed it to

"This is the last of it. Your partner Scully, can analyze it. You'll need this
if you want to expose them. I pray you can, Mulder."

Mulder took the case and opened it. There were four green liquid-filled
syringes. He licked his bottom lip, and felt a strange hunger overtake him.

"Don't," said Lacy. "Don't even think about it."

Mulder dropped the case into his pocket, and nodded.

"They're coming," she said.

Mulder reached for the ignition.

"No. Get out. Be my witness. Tell them what you see. I know this sounds
dorky, but I want you to..."


"I want somebody to remember me."

"I'll remember you."

She smiled. "Yeah, right. Now get out."

The door to the driver's side opened on it's own. Mulder got out and closed the

Lacy climbed over into the driver's seat. She turned the ignition, gunned the
motor a few times. And then, she let down all her mental defenses. She wanted
him to know. Needed him to know.

It hit Mulder like slap to the side of his head. He saw what she had planned
and Mulder lunged for the car door.

"Lacy, don't!"

He banged a palm on the window, as if she'd stop and let him back in. She
simply smiled and waved.

The engine gunned again and the car started moving.


He saw in his head the explosives she had attached to the bottom of the car. He
also saw and heard the convoy of black ops trucks and jeeps moving in their
direction. He thought he caught a whiff of cigarette smoke.

And then, just as it had that first day he met Lacy, time ceased for the moment
to exist.

When it returned, Lacy's car was at the bottom of the hill.


The explosion sent a ball of fire high into the air, lighting up the burgeoning
night, the force of it throwing Mulder to the ground.

He lay there and watched as the black ops convoy engaged its prey, as Keflar
-suited personnel quickly surrounded the vehicle and attacked it with fire

* * *

Watching the fire made him long for yet another cigarette. He reached for his
pack of Morelys and realized he already had a fresh one in his mouth waiting to
be lit. He pulled out his lighter.

He was angry. He'd wanted her alive. He'd wanted to see her again after all
these years. After all, he'd practically considered her a daughter. Not that
he ever really treated her like one, but it was his insisting that kept her
alive all these years, despite the early death of the project. He knew about
the tumors, but he still could not bring himself to having her destroyed. He
was so proud of what he had helped make her.

One of the men under his charge wandered over, pulling his Kevlar hood off.

"She's dead, sir."

"Show me the body," the Cancer Man insisted.

The younger man waved to the others.

Two men carrying a stretcher approached. On the stretcher was the burnt remains
of the passenger behind the wheel. One could hardly tell it was human. Smoke
still wafted from the charred, disfigured corpse, and the Cancer Man turned his
head away as the smell of burning flesh became stronger.

"Dispose of it."

The men with the stretcher walked away.

Cancer Man took a long drag of his cigarette, and remembered Lacy as a girl.

* * *

Mulder saw the charred body from his vantage point and turned away. He'd
forgotten all about the lost time. He saw Cancer Man being presented the body
like a roasted pig on a platter, and he wanted the man dead. He wanted him to

Mulder reached into his pocket and pulled out the silver case. From it, he
removed one of the syringes.

"Don't stare too long into the abyss," Lacy had said. But Mulder had the
perfect justification. Sometimes to kill a monster, you had to become one.

He rolled up a sleeve, and didn't even bother looking for a vein. He jabbed it
into his arm and pushed the plunger down.

Mulder lay back and allowed the poison to infiltrate his system. And then he
turned his attention to Cancer Man.

He could see him at the bottom of the hill, supervising his men as they s
anitized the area of all traces of Lacy's presence. Soon they'd make their way
up to the school house to sanitize it, to destroy her equipment and erase all
evidence of her existence.

Mulder felt power coursing through him like blood. He also felt his anger for
the wrongs against the people he knew and loved build to a fever pitch. He had
to kill the Cancer Man. He had to kill him now. For Samantha. For his
parents. For Scully. And now, for Lacy.

He zeroed in on Cancer Man, saw him lighting yet another cigarette. Mulder
reached inside and found the man's heart, heard his tarnished heart beating.
Then slowly, gradually quickened its pace, making it work twice as hard, three
times as hard as it had too.

He saw the Cancer Man stop in mid-speech and rub his chest. Mulder pushed
farther, quickening the pace even harder. He saw the fear on Cancer Man's face
as his chest seized and ached. He saw the Cancer Man stagger back toward his
car, still holding his chest, his eyes tearing, his face beet red, his hands

And then his conscience jumped on him like a rabid dog. No, Mulder. This is
murder. You're one of the good guys.

Mulder found himself having a two-way argument with himself. Part of him wanted
to take the Cancer Man's heart in his mental hand and squeeze it like a tomato.
The other part of him continued to insist that justice must be done. Had to be
done. The line had to be drawn.

Mulder pulled back and released his prey, then lay flat on his back, looking up
at the stars. He wanted to cry. But there wasn't time. He had to get back to
Scully. He gathered himself up and headed back to meet his partner.

* * *

Cancer Man let go of his shirt front and took a deep breath of relief. The pain
had subsided. He'd never felt pain like that before. He thought for a moment
that once back home he should arrange to have himself checked out. Then, by
force of habit, he brought the still burning cigarette up to his lips and took
yet another drag.

"Let's get moving!" he ordered his men, and climbed into his black sedan.

* * *

FBI Headquarters

Mulder let the strap fall from his mouth. Caught. "Scully, this isn't what you

Mulder could tell how hard it was for her to keep it together. She was running
on adrenaline. She'd had as little sleep as he and had been through so much
more. She had almost died. And as it was so many times before, it was his

"No? Then what is it, Mulder?" She could not hold it together any longer. Her
eyes turned red, stung by tears. "I haven't been able to reach you for hours.
I was afraid you were dead already."

Mulder trained his eyes on his arm, not wanting to look at her. A vein was
standing up, blue-green and engorged with blood, ready to receive. "Right now,
I wish I was."

"Don't say that. We can beat this. Please, put it down, Mulder," she said as
she slowly approached, holding out a hand. "You don't know what's in there.
You don't know the long-term effects. It's destroyed so many people already.
Don't let it destroy you."

"I did it for you, Scully." A tear streamed down his cheek.

"I know you did. But I'm safe now. You don't have to do this anymore. Please,
Mulder. Put it down."

"I can't Scully. I tried. I can't beat them without it."

"Yes, we can, Mulder."

"Because we're right? Because we're the good guys? No. Only the strong
survive, Scully. Only the strong can beat them. Even if it kills me."

"Do you really believe that?"

"No. I want to believe."

"Then put it down."

"I don't have the strength. I don't think I can."

"We have to try. Mulder, please. Please."

Mulder jammed the needle into his arm.


He could not push the plunger down. He sat there watching as blood seeped up
around the needle.

"Help me," he said, his voice cracking as tears stung his eyes.

Scully went to him, pulled the needle from his arm and pulled him to her. She
stroked his hair, and felt his body tremble against her.

"You know I will," she said. Scully squatted down to look Mulder in the face.
"We'll go back to my place. We'll stay there as long as it takes for this stuff
to work out of your system. Let me take care of you. Okay?"

Mulder shook as a pain spasm tore through his chest like a precursor to a heart
attack. He closed his eyes, squeezing out tears. "It hurts!"

"I know..."

"Don't tell anyone."

"I won't. No one has to know."

The chest pain began to subside. "I don't know if I'm strong enough for this."

"Then we'll have to find the strength, Mulder." She took his hands and squeezed.
He squeezed back and tried to smile.

"Just so long as you know what you're getting yourself into," Mulder said. "I'm
a real pain when I'm sick."

"When you're sick?"

Mulder tried to smile. He let Scully pull him to his feet. She grabbed his
jacket and led him to the door.

* * *

Three Days Later

Mulder woke up in Scully's bed. The sheets were cool under him. The room was
dim, as if twilight were descending upon the city. He ached from head to toe,
felt as if there was barely enough strength to move. He looked to the side and
found Scully sitting there, smiling at him. She looked relieved. And very,
very beautiful.

"Finally," she said. "Any longer and I'd have to charge you rent."

Mulder moved his mouth to speak, but nothing came out at first. He tried again.

"How am I doing?"

"You tell me."

"I feel like I've been through a wheat thrasher. Twice."

"I think that would have hurt a lot less. You were pretty bad off. You gave me
quite a scare. The hallucinations, the shakes, the vomiting, the sweating. You
went through four sets of clean sheets."

"Did I hurt you?"

"I survived. And so did you."

She reached to the bedside table and picked up a white bowl with a spoon in it.

"This is chicken broth. Think you could put down a little?"

"I'll give it a try."

She held the spoon to Mulder lips. He tasted it, and immediately coughed.

"Slowly," Scully warned, then offered him a bit more.

It went down a lot smoother, and triggered his appetite.

"How long was I out of it?"

"It's Thursday evening."

Mulder whistled through his teeth.

"Have you filed the report?"

"Yes. Inconclusive. There's a copy for you, when you're up to it."

"And Skinner?"

"I told him you had a virus."

"That's an understatement."

Mulder sat up, pulling himself forward.

"I should go."

"Don't be ridiculous. Stay till morning at least. I'll drive you home."

"Thank you."

"Sure. You want some more broth?"


Scully reached for the bowl, and brought it around, but stopped. Her eyes lost
their focus, and her mouth fell slack as if some internal battery had just run
down. Mulder's stomach clenched in fear.

"Scully? SCULLY?"

"They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows,"
she said. But it was not Scully's voice. It was Lacy.

Mulder shook his head. Was this yet another hallucination? Had the green stuff
not fully worked its way through and out of his system?

"'They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly,
without fear. They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding
their snares; they say, 'who will see them?' They plan their injustice and say,
We have devised a perfect plan.'"

Mulder recognized the words. Lacy had read some of these very words to him
aloud. Psalms, Old Testament.

Scully/Lacy continued.

"'But God will shoot them with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down.' You
are the arrow, Fox Mulder. And one day, you will bring them to ruin. Not
everything dies."

And then, Scully dipped the spoon into the broth and held it up. She saw the
look of shock on Mulder's face.

"Mulder? What? What's the matter?"

"Didn't you hear yourself?"

"Hear myself what? Mulder, what are you talking about?"

"You quoted Psalm."

"I quoted what? Mulder, are you hallucinating again? Mulder, What is it?"

"Nothing," he said. He reached out and stroked Scully cheek. "Nothing at all."

* * *

Costa Carreras, Mexico

She lay on the table staring up at the slow-spinning ceiling fan. It did
nothing to quell the heat or the flies. Flies in a sterile environment!

The nurse appeared over her and smiled.

"How are you feeling?" she asked with barely a trace of a Spanish accent.

"Sick. Really sick."

"Not a surprise."

The nurse held a paper cup to her lips, and she drank a small amount of water.
It didn't make her feel any better.

"The doctor is here now," the nurse announced and stepped aside.

The doctor was short, very grey, but had a wide smile. He spoke only in
Spanish. The nurse translated as he spoke.

"He says you are not yet responding to the treatment. This is not surprising,
because of the advanced nature of your cancer. He says he is surprised you are
still alive. He says you must be patient with the drugs, for these are all
experimental drugs, and are considered unorthodox treatment methods in the
United States. He also says...."

Her mind started to drift away. She'd barely made it to Mexico. Her getaway
vehicle came very close to being discovered. And it was a good thing the fire
had time enough to burn before her employers got there, or they would have known
immediately that the charred body was not hers, but Ginny Scurlock's. Smart of
her to keep the body in the trunk of her vehicle.

Lacy thought of Mulder and his partner Scully. If she lived through this, she
would have to pay them a friendly visit someday.

She relaxed into the thin pillow and willed the drugs to fulfill their promise
of a cure.

The End

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