Fri Feb 21 1997
by Rachel Nobel

RATING: PG (If you've seen the episode, use your own discretion)
WARNING: This is "Paper Hearts" retold from an alternating first-person
point of view (hopefully possessing enough uniqueness as not to be confused
with Summer and Vickie's "Open Hearts"--I began this before I ever read that
one), so there are major spoilers for that episode and probably the ones
before it.
DEDICATION: To anyone who could write this better than I...and to all who
haven't lost faith in my writing ability yet.
DISCLAIMER: Standard XA disclaimer applies.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I realize that at first glance (from my summary), this story
may seem startlingly similar to "Open Hearts." It's not the same story--I
began this before I *read* "Open Hearts"--I just write a hell of a lot slower.
SUMMARY: "Paper Hearts" retold from an alternating first-person point of view.
It was the sensation of dreaming that first caught my attention, I think.
Through the flicker of the television and the hum of the fishtank I could
feel myself...awakening...

A dream within a dream.

I'm in my apartment when I awake. On my couch, fully expecting any minute
for some liver-eating mutant--or in case Tooms isn't able to fulfill his
duties, the runner-up of a little gray/green man--to come popping out of the
walls and eat me alive.

I never have pleasant dreams.

But it doesn't happen. Instead, there's a little red laser light on the
wall across the room. Whimsical, harmless. FOLLOW, it spells.

So I do.

Something about the light seems vaguely familiar. It reminds me of one of
those blinking buoys you'd see atop a lighthouse, almost like the ones we
had up in Quonochontaug when I was a kid. Samantha and I used to sneak
outside at night, after Mom and Dad were asleep, and tell ghost stories.
Just us and the sea.

We went back for just one summer...after. To find a sense of normality. It
didn't work. Dad took me for a walk one night, along the beach, that
lighthouse red light blinking steadily, a beacon. "Everything changes but
the sea, Fox," he told me. It seemed to me then that the sea did nothing
but change. But when I told him that, he just smiled at me, sadly almost.
He led me home; Mom gave me hot chocolate and then sent me to bed. I
remember...watching the moonlight fall across Samantha's empty bed and
staring out at that blinking red light and thinking that the boogeyman had
caught my sister at last.

Okay. So I'm dreaming about the lighthouses we used to see on Rhode Island?
It's been torn down since that summer, July 1974. I asked Mom about it, for
some strange reason, driving her home from the hospital. "Whatever happened
to the lighthouse?"

She didn't know.

Fine. Intellectually, I can see why it's entirely possible I'm having
lighthouse dreams. It's been a tough year. I know Dad tried to sell the
summer house many times since he and my mother divorced, but there were no
takers. My things--Samantha's things--are still there. My baseball glove,
Samantha's ballet tutus...even the silverware. All there. Dusty, but there.

Everything changes but the sea.

But the lighthouse telling me to *follow* it? I just don't know. So I end
up outside--in jeans and a T-shirt, in Virginia, in *November*--in a park.
Bosher's Run Park, the sign reads. Never heard of it. Where am I? It's
only a dream. I'll get home somehow...

White car parked on the sidewalk. Looks old, like those big fancy cars I
always used to find parked in our driveway when Dad was discussing
'business.' If only I'd known...

The light again. MAD HAT, it tells me. Mad hat? It wants me to...what?
Follow, now that makes sense. Mad hat? Now what?

I keep walking. It's there again, that light, on a tree. For a flash--the
barest hesitation of a second--I smell salt and sea air and sand.
Samantha's shriek--<"Watch *out*, Fox, you'll knock over my sand castle!">
Racing her, to the lighthouse and back--I was always a strong swimmer but
put me on a rocking boat and you'd better hope they've stocked up on
Dramamine. Found that out on the rides to the mainland and back, as far
back as '63...

My dad was right, in the end. The only thing you can count on is the sea.

So I'm standing in this forest--excuse me, *run* *park*--puzzling over the
fact that a little red light is leading me places, and suddenly I notice the

I've seen her before.

She's lying in front of the tree, surrounded by leaves. Dead or sleeping, I
can't tell. My heart stops.

No. No. This girl's hair is blond. It's not Samantha. It can't be...

The light again, this time on her chest. It forms a heart, disappears as a
leaf blows over it. The vortex of my thoughts becomes reality as the earth
swallows her up before me. She doesn't stir.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...

Samantha's mock funeral. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh aw--


The night air was cool on his face as his conscious mind hesitated, then
dragged him out into full awareness. But the threads of the dream didn't
dissipate--they were strong, clear. Frightening. The girl was real, he was
sure of it.

Or she had been.

But the images were lucid. Bosher's Run Manassas. Built on a
young girl's undiscovered resting place...

His mind worked furiously. He'd have to tell them he'd been tipped off, or
had been looking over old files, or something...the heart on the girl's
chest...the lighthouse...why was it so familiar?...

Bosher's Run Park. It was four in the morning. Fast talking might get him
a team out there by four-thirty. He might be chief agent on the X-Files
Project, but he had been Spooky Mulder once, without a doubt the best
criminal profiler in the Bureau, maybe in the Bureau's history. Or so they
had told him. They might still listen, if he--

The heart. Almost as if it were to be taken out of the girl's nightgown,
almost as if the light were a tool, a scissor...a heart, a cloth
one could cut a heart that easily, could they? No, they'd have to trace
around it, like a child's kindergarten paper cutouts--the ones Samantha used
to bring home for Valentine's Day...hearts, paper hearts...

Paper hearts...


The phone call woke me. It was Mulder, I was sure of it...I've been
awakened at least once a night for the past few days, ever since Russia.
The first time, he almost seemed surprised to hear my voice on the line, as
if he had dialed unconsciously in the grasp of a nightmare and my sleepy
greeting had woken him up. I don't hold him responsible--God, I don't even
think he realizes he's calling when he does.

Ever since Russia...

It's been a tough few weeks. And there's something bigger at stake here,
something more important than the physical ailments Mulder is clearly
falling victim to. Technically, he was 'out in the field,' so he's required
to submit a report summarizing what happened...but he won't. He refuses.
He doesn't remember, he says. He doesn't speak Russian, he didn't
understand what they were saying.

But it's not Mulder. It's four-thirty in the morning and it's not Mulder.
Oh, God...


"Concentrate on this area right here."

His voice. He's fine.

Insane, perhaps, but fine.

It was AD Skinner who placed the phone call. Mulder had requested a
forensic excavation team at Bosher's Run Park in Manassas, Virginia. At
five AM on a Sunday, I imagine no one was too happy about that request.
Some of the pathologists look half-asleep.


He's wearing a leather jacket, jeans, and a T-shirt. I shiver
instinctively. It's fairly warm out, for November, but it's not *that*
warm. Mulder doesn't seem to notice the bite in the air. He scarcely
glances at me as he watches the team work.

"What's going on?" I ask as I reach him, slightly out of breath.

"I'm not sure I can explain it, Scully," he says vaguely, unfocused. Ever
since Russia...

I persist unrelentingly. "You call for a forensic excavation team at five
AM on a Sunday? What are you looking for?"

Damn the psychologist in him that's so effective at dodging questions.
"Just give me a minute, okay, Scully?" he says, touching my arm and
effectively steering me closer to the crime scene.

"Why are you out here, Mulder?" I ask as a last resort. He sighs,
defeatedly, and in a low voice:

"I keep having this dream. It's about a little blond girl."

My mind doesn't even have time to process the information before my lips
form the words. "You're out here at five o'clock in the morning because of
something you saw in a dream?"

He opens his mouth to shoot a tired retort when a voice calls from behind.


I follow him down the sloped hill to the hole in the ground the team has
made. Poking out of the dirt, desecrated and hideously grinning with age,
is the unwelcome goal Mulder has been looking for.

A child's skull.

He seems saddened but not surprised, and looking at his face, at his eyes, I
see something, something more precious and bittersweet reflected there. A
warning. The grace, perhaps, of a single tear.

The child's face.


It takes a few minutes for the team to calm down. A body, right where
Spooky Mulder said it would be. One suggests, only half-jokingly, that they
could use him back in VICAP.

God. The FBI could use Mulder anywhere.

"So tell me about this dream," I say quietly. He's still got that look on
his face--lost, haunted, determined.

"I've had...flashes of it three nights in a row?" he says slowly,
hesitantly, "...and last night it went on long enough to lead me right to her."

Three nights in a row? Ohhh...

When you close your eyes, is it still Samantha you see?


I've made the connection. The heart, the little girl--the long, blond hair.
It all connects, fits with the profile, the MO. I knew it five years ago,
and I know it now.

"I need the chest exposed."

"Yes, sir. It just takes a little time."

Whoa, I've been <sir>red. More than that, I've lost the polish of hero
status. Thank God. In the ISU, when Mulder wanted the chest exposed,
Mulder got the chest exposed. This agent looks young; she hasn't heard the

<"We'll be talking about you till the day you die, Mulder.">

Bill was wrong, I guess. Of course, he had no way of knowing I'd quit the
ISU. Gave the best damned talking-to I'd ever heard. Guilt, enticements,
the whole nine yards.

Of course, I'm a psychologist, too. And, so they tell me, a better profiler
than Bill ever was.

So I left, and here I am. Out here, as Scully noted, at five in the morning
on a Sunday with a forensic team that refuses to expose the damn chest.

Something gets the better of me. No, wrong phrase. Scully's definitely my
better half, and she did just what she was supposed to; she stood back and
let the team work. But I need the chest exposed. If it's *him*--and God
knows I've thought about it long and hard enough to recognize it--I need to

So I snap on a latex glove and head toward the site. Ah, Spooky's back.
The legend continues. Kneeling down by the chest area, I push away the dirt
with my fingers, gently.

He would have been anything but gentle...

"Sir? Sir, let us do that--"

"Mulder, if you destroy evidence we may never find out what happened here."

And now, after all the wondering, I'm sure.

"I *know* what happened here. She was strangled. He used an eight-gague
electrical cord. He took something from the body post-mortem. A piece of
fabric cut from the cloth. In the shape of a heart."


He recites all this mechanically, and I am astonished.

Ever since Russia...

Come on, Dana. You need to think of a new catchphrase.

"You're saying you got all these details from your dream?" I say before
anyone else can.

"No, I *know* this MO. I know it from memory."

"*Whose* MO?"

"John Lee Roche," he says with finality. "He killed thirteen eight-to-ten
year old girls."

Eight to ten year old girls...hearts...can't say I've heard of the case. I
wish I had, though.

I could have found out right up front whether Samantha Ann Mulder was an
eligible candidate.

Lost in thought, no one even attempts to stop Mulder from his frantic
digging. And when he reaches what he's looking for, I'm sure it's all they
can do not to let out a <"Sweet Jesus!"> or a <"Mother of God!">

A body, right where Mulder said it would be...

"This makes fourteen."

...and fabric, cloth that for some reason doesn't disintegrate under his
fingers, and a hole. In the shape of a heart.


It's all I can do to get him back to the office. I want the details of this
case--I want them now. I don't want to watch Mulder fall apart as they
uncover the rest of the body.

Why now? After everything we've both just been through. That little girl
is going to end up being another Lucy Householder. I'm sure of it. It
isn't about Samantha--it's never about Samantha, only his memories of her,
and what she means to him.

No. It's always about Samantha.

Mulder seems to have regained his composure by the time we arrive, and he
heads straight for the filing cabinet.

"It was a difficult case; he was extremely hard to catch."

I choose not to ponder over the meaning of the word <difficult>.

"In 1990, ten victims had been found, scattered across the eastern seaboard.
The earliest dated back to 1979. VICAP named the case <Paper Hearts>
because of the trophies the killer took."

Paper hearts. It sounds like a young child's Valentine's Day gift.

Damn it. I will never look at paper hearts the same way again.

"Reggie Purdue brought me on the case because he thought I could get inside
the killer's head," Mulder continues.
She goes right for the jugular.

"Did you?"
continued in part two...

From Sat Feb 22 11:57:32 1997
Subject: NF> Facing November 2/11
From: Myth Patrol <>
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 10:57:32 -0700
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
I hesitate. Scully's a pathologist, not a profiler. What does she want me
to say? Yes, Scully, I got inside his head. I *am* John Lee Roche, part of
me. I know his compulsions. I understand them.

I sympathize with them...

In 1990, it took every ounce of strength I had to finish up that case.
Spooky's breaking point. As soon as the trial was over I sent in my
transfer requests, day after day, week after week...I couldn't do it
anymore. I had to get out.

Yes, Scully. I became John Lee Roche. I dreamt about who I was and who he
was and there was no difference. Would I have killed Samantha, as he did to
those girls, had she stayed? I don't know, Scully. I'm not a killer. I
am. I am. I'm him, Scully, I'm John Lee Roche, I'm Luther Lee Boggs...

Back in the sixties all I wanted to be was the walrus...

Because all the sea did was change.

She sees that I'm unnerved by the question but I answer before she can ask
again. "I...I concluded that we were probably looking for a salesman,
someone who traveled around a lot, someone who could gain people's
confidence. Someone ordinary." Do you understand now, Scully? Someone
ordinary. We are murderers, all.

"It turned out Roche was a vacuum cleaner salesman; his job took him all
over the northeast. He'd been in someone's home demonstrating a vacuum
cleaner; all the while he'd be checking out their kids. He'd choose a
victim and come back for them months later."

She's looking at the file as I talk, tracing her fingers over the face of
John Lee Roche. Doesn't look like a murderer, does he, Scully? Tall,
average weight, and bald, with a ready smile. Like someone's father.

Mad hat...

"But it was *your* profile that caught him," she notes finally, making up
for her earlier transgression. Sometimes I'm too easy to read. I open my
mouth to reply, think the better of it, close it, and open it again. Sit
back in my chair. Wait.

"What about the...trophies the killer took, the cloth hearts?"

Notice the way she refers to him as <the killer>. It's easy to pretend they
don't have names, they don't exist. I try it myself sometimes.

But when you *become* the killer...

"We never found them," I reply. "But we didn't need them to make the case,
we had him called on thirteen counts of murder. He *admitted* to thirteen.
Polygraph said he was telling the truth. But that always bugged me about
that case, I *always* wanted to find those hearts and count them, see if
they really added up to thirteen." I feel my voice drop. "I guess they

Scully sighs and leans forward. "If nothing else...I think I can at least
help explain your dream."

Oh, this should be interesting. Dr. Dana Katherine Scully, MD, throwing
psychobabble at Dr. Fox William Mulder, Ph.D. I raise my eyebrows at her,
but don't have the energy to ask for her psych class college credentials.

"I don't think you ever stopped thinking about this case."


"I *believe* you may have solved it in your sleep."

Interesting concept. Does this mean the Bureau should pay me overtime on
the nights I get a full sleep?

"So you think that I've...somehow had this information about a fourteenth
victim all this time and have been processing it unconsciously?"

"You said it yourself once. You said that a...a dream is an answer to a
question we haven't yet figured out how to ask. You do good work, Mulder."

She smiles reassuringly.

Dana Scully, guardian angel...I was wrong. The Bureau should pay *her*
overtime on nights I get a full sleep.

Her voice is gentle. "Let's identify this girl so we can put her to rest."


"I believe her name is Addie Sparks," I say as I walk into the room where
the girl still lies on the table. Mulder sits on a chair next to her, close
by, staring. It's unnerving, how he looks at her, but I continue.

"She went missing from her home in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in the
summer of 1975. I contacted the center for Missing and Exploited Children;
they ran a check through the database."

Mulder's already shaking his head, in disbelief. "1975's too early."

"I think the match is right, Mulder, the...the height is right, the
description of the sleeper is right..."

He's lost the calm, collected FBI aura of before. I want to send him home,
he needs the sleep, but I can't. I won't. He won't let me.

He needs this for himself.

"That would mean Roche started way before we thought he did..." he murmurs.

I sigh. "Mulder, we're going to have to verify this. Are you up for that?"

He just nods.


The house was quietly suburban, well-manicured.

It looked like a house that had moved on.

I hate bringing this kind of news. Interrupting people's lives, bringing up
forgotten hurts. It's not something we have to do very often, and I think,
for obvious reasons, it affects Mulder more than I than we do.

But it seems everything affects Mulder more these days. It doesn't sound
right--it makes *me* sound more detached than I am. Mulder's just so...

He expected me to speak; I could see it in his eyes. So when the older man
opened the door and nodded as I inclined, "Frank Sparks?" I barreled along
quickly. A barrage of twenty year old information thrown at the poor man in
a few minutes. I was nervous--I could tell that by the calm quality of my
voice. It's a habit you pick up at the Academy--the more nervous you are,
the more level your voice becomes.

"I'm Agent Scully, this is Agent Mulder, we're with the Federal Bureau of
Investigation. May we speak with you?"

He knew. God, he knew.

"You've found Addie?"

How do you reply to a question like that? He didn't wait for an answer,
just led us inside. I handed him the sleeper pocket silently; I could see
the tears shining in his eyes.

"This was for the Tooth Fairy...when Addie was asleep at night I used to put
a quarter in this pocket. Her mother sewed it..."

I had to ask. "Where is your wife, sir?"

"She passed on...last summer..."

All I could think at that moment was that I was calling Mom as soon as I got

Mr. Sparks had regained his composure, by that time. I'm sure he knew Addie
was a lost cause, all those years. Who, after all, would kidnap a child
from her home and set her free?


"So you're saying that...the man who did this is already in prison?"

"Yes, sir, and he won't get out," Mulder said with assurance. He had put
him there, five years before.

"You do this full-time, telling like this?" the man asked. He
must have known we didn't. Are there possibly *that* *many* people who need
to be told? Dead or dying? Lost or found?

Alive, there was always a phone call. I remember all the times Ahab's ship
didn't get in when it was supposed to, or the radio had gone out on the
boat, or there was some kind of storm. It was always a phone call--the
elephant's thomp of Melissa's feet and Charles' and Bill's and mine. And
Mom's, if it had been a long wait. We'd throw off the receiver and--they
didn't have speaker phones when I was growing up, so it would be all five of
us gathered around the phone, and whoever at the time was in Mom's favor got
to hold it--and we'd wait for the voice. Sometimes it was Dad himself, a
semi-jovial greeting from over the line. More often than not it was an
officer on the mainland. Always a phone call.

For the dead ones they came in person. I knew. It was a naval community
and we saw the cars driving up often enough. Mom would shake her head
sadly--<"They're heading toward Ann's house. We should call..."> She'd
make arrangements, throw a casserole in the oven. I remember being over at
Robin James' house when they came. We were playing some pretend game in her
room when there was this muffled shriek and silence and when we ran out into
the living room there were two officers, just standing there, uncomfortable,
while Robin's mother wiped her eyes. Robin got this big wide-eyed scared
look on her face and her mom gathered her up and brought her into her room
and that was the last I saw of Robin James. I ran all the way home and they
moved less than a week later.

My childhood was decidedly happy. But I can't forget the images of the
dead, surrounding us, stifling us. Heroes, all.

But Addie Sparks was just a little girl.

"No, sir, not full time," I reply, sympathy evident in my voice. Not forced
sympathy, either. Mulder joins in: "It's not a good job." There is
compassion in his voice as well.

"You know, I used to think that...missing was worse than not knowing never knew what happened, but now that I know...I'm glad my
wife's not here. She got it luckier..."

Make that a phone call a day to Mom for at least a week.

"How many more people like me are you going to visit today?"

Searching Mulder's face, his desperately vacant eyes, I feel nothing. No
thoughts radiating from him. He's lost. It's stifling. I need to get out
of here.

His view travels to the mantle, where the smiling childlike face of Addie
Sparks stares back at him. Frozen in time...

It's Mulder who addresses Frank Sparks' question, not me. "Sir?" he
questions blankly. They've both since forgotten I'm sitting there. I'm a
mere intruder now--the only one in the room not suffering from such
devastating loss. The not knowing. The unsureness. Yes, I've lost.
Unexpectedly. Violently.

But I knew...

"Were there other victims..." the man starts hesitantly, "you didn't know

Mulder is frozen when I look at him. Paralyzed. There's nothing he could
have done, Roche murdered this man's child in 1975. Mulder was...what,
fifteen years old in 1975? Still grieving his own losses. By 1990 it was
too late to save Addie Sparks.

<But I could have put her to rest sooner...>

It's written on his face. Too often I wonder what kind of a childhood
Mulder had, to render him as he is. But I've seen the pictures: the beach,
the jungle gym. Not deprived at all. Strict parents, parents who probably
expected a lot. But so many kids have parents like that. *I* had parents
like that.

But I wasn't a criminal profiler. And that's probably the only aspect of
Mulder's life I know nothing about--the years spent locked up inside
killers' minds. I've met Bill Patterson, I've heard the rumors. I've been
told the stories about Fox Mulder, the Bureau's fair-haired child, boy
genius, worthy of good old J. Edgar himself. God, I've seen evil face
Mulder and lose, all because Mulder was the only one worthy of evil's
But I've learned after four years that nothing comes easy to Mulder, no
matter what the rumors say. And I think Frank Sparks sees it too, in
Mulder's face. So I bullshit my way through the response, and hustle Mulder
out of there.

Just in time.


Even here, out in the open, jogging softly toward the rented car--really, we
should have just taken one of our own, Pennsylvania is so close--I feel
suffocated. Confined by the dead.

I saw my own father in Frank Sparks. In the way he held himself, the way he

I saw myself.

I'd always assumed that, by the time I reached such an impossibly old age,
something in life would be going right for me. What that was, I never could
figure out, not even when I was young. But to be fifty, sixty, seventy
years old...alone. Oh, I never expected marriage, children. But
Samantha...Samantha would come back to me. I was sure.

But a birthday passed for me, just over a month ago. Thirty-five. Not so
old, really, and they tell me if I'd stayed with the ISU I'd be head of
Something or Other by now. Even Scully can't keep the wonder out of her
voice--and Scully *knows*.

At least, she pretends to.

But she can't understand. Frank Sparks is a beaten man.

I only wish I could say I won't end up the same way.

But, at least for now, I've got Scully. I'd like to think that I'll always
have Scully. She knows enough to let me walk in front of her; it's that
need to drive, to focus. The car's just a few feet--

The car...

The car, it *changes*. For a split second--it's...

"Roche drove a white El Camino, Scully, I saw it in my dream!" I call to my

She calls back, something I can't quite make out, not listening very
carefully to. Probably something to the effect of So?

"So Roche was a traveling salesman. He'd want to keep the hearts somewhere
close to him, like in his car, right?"


"Well, he doesn't have them in prison," I rush on. "His cell is searched
regularly, his mail is examined." I glance quickly at the file--I see the
look Scully gives me. I haven't let go of it.

"Roche's car was sold at auction in 1993, put out of his reach." She
squints up at me against the sun.

"It's worth a look," I insist. "We need to find those hearts in order to
count them."

She sighs, a last-ditch effort to change my mind. "Don't you think the car
may have been searched at least once already?"

It's too hot for November. It wasn't nearly this warm, twenty-three years ago.

"Not by me."


I admit it. I'm beginning to wish I *had* quit the FBI and become a
spokesperson for the Ab-Roller.

I really hate people's fascination with serial killers. I understand it, of
course. But it repulses me. I'm touched by death, almost every day. It's
so easy to become indifferent to it, to lose humanity. Death is, after all,
nothing but a body. And as a pathologist, I see dead bodies all the
time--once a week, probably, maybe more.

But it's all the more reason for me *not* to become indifferent to it.
Because then there's nothing that separates me from...them. The murderers.

Mulder is touched by death, too, all the time. And he gets a lot closer to
it than the Bureau demands, a lot closer than I'd like. He's said it's what
Bill Patterson demanded of him--become the victim. Become the killer.

Become death.

I understand the fascination. The compulsion. The same thing that makes
people stop at traffic accidents to gawk and brag about what they saw. But
I don't have to like it. Mulder's face, I'm sure, mirrored my own when the
kid whispered, awed, "Honest to God serial killer owned my car?"

It was no wonder he left us alone with the El Camino--probably off to call
his friends, arrange tours. Charge money. Obviously he hadn't read the
newspapers the day John Lee Roche was finally caught and arrested and tried
on thirteen counts of murder.

But then again, neither had I.

We climb in the car--Mulder in the passenger seat, for once, I on the
driver's side. Variously, we stumble around as best we can--flipping down
the mirror, searching under the seats. Ridiculous. For those hearts to
have escaped...notice...for these many years, they'd have to be hidden in a
secure place.

Mulder pulls out a small knife and without a moment's hesitation, takes to
the seat with it. My mock-horror is mirrored in my face, I suppose, as
Mulder flashes me a grim smile and mutters, "I'm helping him detail."

Another story the kid can tell his friends. First this serial killer, like,
abducted all these girls, right, in *my* car, right?! And then he, like,
killed them, you know, and after they, like, arrested him or something, I
guess, and--yeah, that's my car! And then these two, like, FBI agents or
something, came to, like, check out the car, and the guy, you know, he,
like, messed with the upholstery 'cause he thought, you know, there might be
evidence, right?

Ugh. That's really not fair. From what I know of my various nieces and
nephews, there's more to America's youth than *that* kid, probably holed up
in his room, replete with Generation X/tortured youth decor, phoning--no,
make that e-mailing--all his friends.

I *pray* there's more to youth than that.


<Eager> has never been a word I'd use to describe Dana Scully.

Anxious, maybe, at times. Impatient. Even...maybe...a hint
of...enthusiasm? Nah...well, maybe. But never eager.

Even so, she seemed that way to me, just now, a little. "Something's not
right here, Scully," I told her hollowly, and she responded breathlessly
with, "Maybe they're underneath," short legs practically projecting herself
out of the car, frantic as I am to find those hearts, to count them. Eager,
it seemed, to do it herself, to prove to me--and maybe to her, too--that the
X-Files are hers now, as well. That for every sloppily handled
investigation in Russia or Alaska or North Carolina, there will be a Duane
Barry or a Donnie Pfaster or a Gerry Schnauz waiting in the shadows. My
pain is matched only by Scully's strength--she belongs to herself, and no
other. Dana Scully is someone she can call her own.

But it is I, in the end, who finds the hearts. Unconsciously my lips form
those words over and over--mad hat. Mad hat...mad hatter...Alice...mad hat
spelled on the back of the car. The hood...

"The kid said he took the camper shell off!"

I'm off and running before she can respond. She'll follow, I know...Scully
will follow me...

But how far? It's a question I've yet to ponder for fear she'll reach her
breaking point. I don't want to lose Scully--but how can I give up Samantha?

And what will I do if I'm faced with that choice?

I don't know. But I want to find those hearts. So I pull the camper shell
out from next to the backyard shed, searching for hollow spots, expensive
shoes patting down the fabric. Eventually I just bend down and rip away the
cloth in a corner...

God. I catch the title before I comprehend it--"Alice's Adventure's in

"Mad hat...mad hatter..."

Opening the book, glimpses of faded cloth stare blankly out at me from
snatches of dialouge.

<"Mine is a long and sad tale!" said the Mouse...>

<"There's certainly too much pepper in that soup!" Alice said to herself...>

<"We quarreled last March--just before *he* went mad, you know--">

<"I don't know how he can *ever* finish, if he doesn't begin.">

<"It *began* with the tea," the Hatter replied.>

<"You've no right to grow *here*," said the Dormouse.>

<"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you
come to the end: then stop.">

<I have not seen thy sunny face, Nor heard thy silver laughter:>


It's Scully's voice beside me, I realize, counting. My lips, it seems, are
moving as well--the hearts...

The hearts...there are sixteen...

"Two more victims." My voice is empty. Sixteen hearts. I was right all along.

All that time. All those years. All those dreams...
continued in part three...
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
we *like* it!"
_ _
\ / For information
\ / please write:
/ \ Anonymous
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- -

From Sun Feb 23 17:56:04 1997
Subject: NF> Facing November 3/11
From: Myth Patrol <>
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 1997 16:56:04 -0700
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
There is no *end* to the amount of hatred I harbor for John Lee Roche.

I despise dealing with criminals already in jail. Most memorably, of
course, is Luther Lee Boggs--God, they even have the same middle name--and
his death-row pyschic act. It's with that in mind that I ponder why John
Lee Roche, after the rape and murder of thirteen--fourteen? fifteen?
sixteen?--young girls isn't on death row, and why all Mulder's former cases
seem to pop up now and again--the living dead in the gray wasteland of
Mulder's forgotten dreams.

Luther Lee Boggs ended up dead. As did Jerry Lamana, Reggie Purdue, John
Barnett--and as for the 'still alive' category, Bill Patterson is never
getting out of that mental institution...

So it's with an obvious feeling of dread that I approach this, watching
Mulder hand in his gun and then bend down to strap the other one--Mulder has
some joking name for it, but for the life of me I can't remember what it is
now--from around his ankle.

It was all I could do to get him to wait until today. It was nearly dark
out by the time we got back from Delaware, and both of us had been running
on autopilot since, as I kept reminding him, five o'clock this morning.
And, thankfully, we can't just waltz into the prison and ask to see John Lee
Roche. In the years that he's been there--since *Mulder* cracked the case
and *put* him there--he's never had a visit. Not once.

I lay in bed last night, but I didn't sleep. I'm sure Mulder didn't,
either, but it's so hard to tell whether the circles under his eyes and the
tired look on his face is a result of *last* night's insomnia or...or every
night since that one November night twenty-three years ago.

I keep telling myself that Mulder's an Oxford graduate, a psychologist, an
FBI agent with several years field experience. That he's solved the FBI's
most unsolveable and heinous cases. That he's a professional, and he knows
how to handle himself, and he'll continue to do that for the rest of this case.

But he won't look me in the eye--he won't even glance in my direction. Not
in the car ride over here, and not now, as we walk down the drab--it's a
prison, for God's sake, what was I expecting?--hallway, toward...fate? Destiny?


No. As it turns out--a basketball court. A spacious, beautiful, full-court
gym, and John Lee Roche panting and shooting hoops in the center of it all.

Anger rises in me. Negligently, I've learned of Mulder's halfhearted
passion for basketball, and I've gone down to the Bureau's gym to retrieve
him on occasion. And the courts he plays on are nothing like this. Baskets
that are simply rims and no netting, balls that J. Edgar himself probably
shot around, and half-court rooms are all part of the federal government deal.

Federal *prison*, on the other hand...


"Mulder," Roche greets my partner, feigning surprise. God. He bears
passing resemblance to my own father, way back when. So calm, friendly.
Official, but not businesslike. Like...

Like a vacuum-cleaner salesman.

"Long time no see," Roche intones, and glances at me. Showtime.

"Got a new partner."

"Agent Scully," Mulder introduces, taking half a step forward. He knows
Roche, the details, the mannerisms, and clearly he's trying to make sure *I*
never have to.

"What's up?" Roche asks casually.

What's up? *What's* *up?!* You're in *jail* for murdering more than a
*dozen* little girls in *cold* *blood*, raping them, stealing their dreams
for the sake of some Wonderland prophecy, the federal agent who *caught* you
and *put* you here years ago shows up to talk to and you ask *what's* *up*?!
We're not here for small talk, Roche!

Once again, I swallow the anger. Mulder's jaw tightens, imperceptibly.

"We found Addie Sparks," he says. Roche shrugs, barely, spins the ball
around on his finger, and turns his back on us, facing the basket.

"Congratulations, I guess."

Doesn't ask how--how we found her, how we knew. First <what's up?>, now
<congratulations>. I feel like I'm in third grade, haughtily informing Bill
that *I* won the *science* *fair*. Emphasis necessary. Only Bill wouldn't
be playing basketball in a gym this nice.

It's time. I find my voice and speak, coldly.

"We also found your cloth hearts. All *sixteen* of them."

Sixteen. I should know by now; we counted them--Mulder counted them--over
and over. Making sure they weren't duplicates--Roche's last hurrah. I was
afraid the dye would rub off on Mulder's fingers by the time we got it to
Evidence, and they bagged them and labeled them.

We identified those hearts. All but two.

Mulder backs me up. "*Sixteen* victims, John." John? He calls him John?
He's not going to form any sort of relationship by referring to him by his
first name. Even at first glance I can tell Roche is too smart for that,
that he knows all the tricks.

Mulder continues. "How come you said there were only thirteen?"

Silently, I fill in the rest of his query. <How come I didn't *realize* it
when you said that? How come I didn't *find* the rest of those girls?...>

"I don't know," Roche shrugs again. "Thirteen sounds more...magical, you know?"

No, I *don't* know. I've never had that pleasure, Roche--never been
subjected to a lie detector test, never been the suspect in a rash of serial

"Why don't you tell us about the last two victims?" Mulder's voice is hard,
insistent. Not the quiet, gentle, soft question he usually asks after he's
broken a suspect--that's his method, the one he so often uses. Go for the
jugular, ask all the hard questions, get the suspect fired up. Eventually
they break, in some form another, and then you bend down and ask them
nicely--<"Tell us where she is."> <"Tell us what happened that night.">
<"What did you really see that day?"> Countless times.

But I have a feeling that method hadn't worked on John Lee Roche.

"You're in here for life; you've got nothing to lose," I add.

He shrugs, again. A habit. "I've got nothing to gain."

Mulder pounces on the comment, like the fox he's so often compared to.
Before Roche even finishes speaking.

"No, you can gain *one* *moment* of decency in your life. You can finally
let those families put their daughters to rest."

<To rest>...we always use that phrase. All those girls--they have been
resting, all this time. It's the families that need time.

Roche's eyebrows raise--slightly, very slightly--and he turns.

"I understand you take this very personally, Mulder."

God. Oh, God, oh, my God...and once again I'm in third grade, trying to
find out who ratted on who. Somehow Roche *knows*...and I've *heard* about
the 'trouble' Mulder had on cases involving children...

Mulder doesn't look at me, but his whole body stiffens. Roche doesn't give
either of us a chance to respond as he goes on, "How 'bout this: sink one
from there and I'll tell you."

Yeah, right. Being short, I was never much of a basketball player, but the
distance seems far, even for me. Mulder's spending his days alternatingly
chasing...*things*...or in a hospital in various godforsaken towns. Roche,
meanwhile, has been brushing up on his basketball skills.

But Mulder takes the challenge: hook, line, and sinker. Taking the ball
coolly from Roche, he raises it above his head and in one effortless
swoop...*whoosh*, Mulder's in the air, the ball's in the air, the ball
swishes through the basket without so much as a *snick* against the rim.

Item #867 on the Amazing Things About My Partner List.

There's a small smirk on Mulder's face, but the one on Roche's is even wider
as he walks past us. "You trust a child molestor?"

The smirk vanishes, and so does Roche, calling after us, challenging us with
his legacy as he leaves: "You bring me my hearts and give 'em back to me,
I'll tell you everything you want to know."

Everything we want to know? Everything?

Or everything you're willing to tell us?

<"If there's no meaning in it," said the King, "that saves a world of
trouble, you know, as we needn't try to find any.">

I've been scouring the book over and over, weighing it in my hands,
searching for clues. I don't know why John Lee Roche became a killer--I'll
never know why any of them do. "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is
supposed to be a children's book, right? Whimsical fantasy. The look on
Scully's face when we left Roche today confirmed that he turned it into
anything but that.

I was never an "Alice" fan--that was Samantha's department, and apparently
Scully's. It was a *girl* book when I was a kid, and when it showed up on
Samantha's required reading list the year she turned eight, every one of her
friends ended up at our house in blue pinafores and headbands, arguing over
who got to be Alice and the Queen and the Duchess and the less coveted
masculine parts like the Cheshire Cat and the Caterpillar. Full-scale
productions in our living room culminated in my reluctant and occasional
observances of such monotonously delivered lines as "Once, I was a real
turtle" and "The Dormouse is asleep again."

John Lee Roche...Alice in Wonderland. A connection? There must be. We all
know of the rumors that classify Lewis Carroll as a pedophile and
allegations that he was 'high' when he wrote the book. But I, as I do in
most cases, want to believe...Lewis Carroll was just your friendly
neighborhood mathematician/photographer/artist/writer who based his few
stories on tales he had told to little girls. How many of the people who
brought those charges have ever read the three poems in the two books that
explain how the story was written, the poems that Mom recited to my sleepy
sister in a soft, gentle voice just before her bedtime. Prima, Secunda, and
Tertia...those were Alice, Lorina, and Edith. Why would an author lie in
poetry about his own works?

<We are but older children, dear>
<Who fret to find our bedtime near...>

Samantha loved that line. <"See?!"> she would shriek. <"Even kids
in...even kids a long time ago didn't like going to bed, and *their* parents
probably let them stay *up*!">

Mom would just go on. <"Without, the frost, the blinding snow, The
storm-wind's moody madness--">

Samantha used to make something of everything, back then.

I will find a clue here. Roche mentioned to me something about me 'taking
it personally.' <It?> I almost said. <What 'it?' Define 'it' for me,
John.> But Scully was casting me a 'please stay calm, we'll deal with this
later' look and I'm not far gone enough to ignore that. Only 'later' hasn't
come yet, and I'm still here at the office, eyelids drooping, trying to
define 'it.' I take it personally? The fact that you murdered sixteen
children, you son of a bitch? Of course I take it personally. All of
America took it personally--it was the case that was supposed to be my
greatest success, Spooky's holy grail, and it was also the one that broke me.

But there's something here, something missing. Two hearts, two more
victims...Tweedledum and Tweedledee, perhaps? No, that was later, that was
"Through the Looking-Glass," that didn't come out until the real Alice was
nineteen and didn't give a damn about fairy tales anymore. Samantha
insisted she'd never grow too old for fairy tales, and now Samantha is gone
and immortalized at the sacred age of eight, and my whole life is based on a
fairy tale.

I'm so tired. My reading glasses--old and tired, with a prescription too
weak to even warrant the wearing of them--slip unconsciously off my face. I
rub my eyes.

I take it personally, Roche. When I stop taking it personally, then I'll
start to worry.


I'm awake. In my office, the hearts on my desk. I slip my glasses off and--

I just took my glasses off. A second ago. And I rubbed my face--

Just as I'm doing now...

I'm in my office. Awake. What time is it?

<"It's always six o'clock now..."> It was always tea time in Wonderland,
and through the looking glass everything went *backwards*--

I remember that, the time going backwards...

I'm still tired. So I *must* be awake. How can I be tired when I'm
sleeping? I *can't* sleep. Wake up, Mulder, you've got--

--a lighthouse red beacon to follow...

Intellectually, now, I *know* I must be sleeping. I've never seen that
little red laser when I'm awake. I must be sleeping, I must be dreaming,
and I must be searching for a clue...

I rise, a floating motion, and, enchanted, start toward the door where the
light leads me. Pushing it open, feeling curiously like an overgrown male
Alice, the light disappears, leaving me on my own in this Wonderland.

And I freeze.

The room is drab, and smaller than I remember it. I haven't been back here
since...since that night, in fact, not even to retrieve my things or visit
my old friends before my parents divorced and we bounced around the east
coast until Connecticut. I'm oversized now, as Alice was in Wonderland.
Was it van Gogh who noted that "I am a stranger in a strange land"? Or was
that Moses? Suddenly, I can't remember. I can't remember...

The years slip away as I recognize the vase on the mantlepiece, the monotone
of Leon Jawarski on the small, newly-colored television. And in the center
of it all sits my sister, Samantha Ann, flipping her long dark hair over a
shoulder as she gives me a sisterly scowl and repeats brattily, "Fox--it's
*your* *move*!"

I move into the room slowly, amazed but not stunned. I *am* sleeping now,
right? I'm only sleeping...

"Samantha," I breathe, coming to a rest on the floor beside her. She was
tall for her age, sophisticated, but next to my six foot one frame she is
tiny. I will myself to breathe--after all, I am only dreaming. I'm
dreaming about the night Samantha was taken--with a new twist. The Dream
God has come up with another way to torture me.

The scowl--I used to call her Elvis when she did that, because of the way
her lip curled up into a sneer--returns as she asks, "Are you gonna move or

Brotherly irritation rises up in me, and I almost tell her to screw the
board game. I'm never twelve in my dreams--I'm an adult version of myself
trapped in Fox's body. But tonight...tonight, I can save her...

I squelch the thought. <A *dream*, Mulder, damn it! A *dream*!> That's
all it is. A dream.

Samantha throws a glance back at the TV.

<"It would be very difficult to assume that it was an accident...">

It must have been Dad who left the channel on Watergate--he always did like
to keep up with politics, and since it was 1964 when he bought that
television, there was only one in the entire house.

"Do we *have* to watch this, Fox?"

That was Samantha--independent/dependent. It would have been so easy for
her to jump up and change the channel herself, but she was asking my
permission, in her own way.

"*The Magician* comes on at nine," I say, unable to conceal the wonder in my
voice as I look at her.
<...what a wonderful dream it had been...>

Because that's all it is, Samantha. A dream. I'm sorry...

She tilts her head. "Mom and Dad said I could watch the movie, buttmunch!"

Buttmunch? Buttmunch? Did that word even exist in 1973? It must have. It
must have, because if it didn't it means Samantha didn't really say that,
which means my memories are wrong, which means...

"They' door at the Galbrands'. They left me in charge," I reply,
as scipted, unable to inject any life or emphasis into the statement. I'm
in charge. I'll protect Samantha.


I squint and bring my hand up to block the light that fills the room. It's
strange...I see that light so many times during the night, every night in my
dreams, and still it's too bright. The light hurts my eyes...

I jump to my feet. "...No. Not again..."

I won't let it happen again. I won't let them take her again. I reach for
my own gun, but it's gone--why is it gone? I never take it off, I always
have it with me--

"Samantha, run!"

Because they don't want me, they'll only take Samantha, they've never come
for me, not even in my dreams...

My father has a gun. I knock the box down and it breaks open on the floor.
I'm tall now, I'm strong, I know how to use the gun, if it's loaded, God, I
hope it's loaded--how can I shoot an alien, what difference does it make?--I
can save Samantha. I can save my sister.

For once, even if it's only in dreams.

The light is so bright and the sounds are so loud. I reach into the box and
grab Dad's gun, heavy with the weight of bullets. Pulling it out of the--

The door bangs open and I look up. A man, not an alien, stands there. A
tall, lanky
man--not unlike my own frame--with receding hair strides in and in three
steps he's reached me.

He has hair in this dream. Of course. He would have had hair, twenty-three
years ago.

John Lee Roche...

He smiles at me, of all things. Smiles and swoops my sister into his arms
and walks away. Doesn't even run, just walks away and I can't fire the gun,
I can't do anything, it's just like before, I *can't* *help* *her*...I
*can't* *move*...

And she is screaming my name, "Fox, Fox!" Because I'm her brother, her big
brother--*very* big, tall and I carry a gun and I'm a psychologist and an
FBI agent--because I'm her brother, and I was assigned to protect her...

He smiled when he took my sister...he took her to Wonderland, the one place
she always wanted to be.


"Samantha!" My voice is foreign and loud as I bolt awake. I *am* awake
now--I am trapped in a dream that doesn't end...

Roche was in my dream. The red light was in my dream, and all the dreams
with that light have since become faithful prophecies. Roche was in my
dream and *Roche* *took* *Samantha*...

My hands clench and plastic crinkles. The hearts rustle in my hand. The
cloth hearts, encased in plastic. Two hearts. Two victims.

My sister...
continued in part four...
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
we *like* it!"
_ _
\ / For information
\ / please write:
/ \ Anonymous
/ \ Dean Warner, moderator
- -

From Mon Feb 24 13:17:58 1997
Subject: NF> Facing November 4/11
From: Myth Patrol <>
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 12:17:58 -0700
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
I don't want him alone with John Lee Roche.

I know it's no big deal that Mulder specifically requested to speak to Roche
alone. Criminals in jail--even those who will be there until they die--are
not eager to speak to *anyone*, period, let alone with a guard hovering by,
a guard who could probably make his life miserable and get away with it--not
that John Lee Roche doesn't deserve such treatment.

But criminals--most criminals--talk to Mulder, eventually, probably because
the FBI only bothers Spooky after all their other agents have burnt out and
the suspect has already chewed them up and spit them out.

John Lee Roche is the exception. He's ready and willing--friendly. Freely
admits to killing those girls, didn't even try to elude capture when the
police came cruising for him. Nothing is a struggle for John Lee Roche, and
since Mulder's entire life is based on nothing but a struggle, it makes me
uncomfortable having the two anywhere near each other.

But they need each other. Mulder needs Roche to find those girls. And
Roche...Roche needs Mulder as his personal plaything, someone to string
along and drag down. Take a few innocent people with him, as Mulder noted
of Robert Patrick Modell--full names for the big ones--less than a year ago.

I haven't spoken to Mulder; he hasn't told me what's going on, what he's
doing, what he's thinking. Mulder doesn't want me to know--whether it's for
the benefit of him or myself, I'll never know. There are so many things
about Mulder I'll never know, so many things he refuses to talk about. And
one day, I'm afraid, all his demons will come crashing out into the light
and become too much. But when that day comes...I'll be there.

By the time we finished up with Roche yesterday, the day had flown and it
was almost four o'clock. There were still a million tests being run on
Addie Sparks' body, as well as whatever else anyone could find. I've always
been the scientific aspect of the partnership--I'll go check out what the
tests confirm and you can sit around and brood.

I don't say that, of course. And somewhere during the course of Mulder's
'brooding' he can come up with some pretty damn good ideas. Insane,
perhaps, but good.

I knew Mulder would be at the office, brooding. Turning those hearts over
in his hands, skimming "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,"--he'll be an
expert by the time this case closes, if he isn't already--searching through
five year old transcripts.

Pondering Roche's statement that he takes things personally.

But he wasn't there when I got a chance to run down to the basement at
five-thirty. I cornered one of the many female agents who happen to have a
small crush on my partner--thankfully, they're also professional government
workers who are willing to put aside <man, that guy's cute!> for the
office--who happened to have been rifling through storage boxes in the
basement. She told me Mulder had been in his office, working, and not more
than fifteen minutes ago she had heard 'kind of a bang, like slamming on a
desk,' and Mulder's voice.

She said he screamed Samantha's name.

Anger was my first reaction--anger at John Lee Roche for planting such
thoughts in Mulder's mind. Fury gave way to concern and fear for Mulder.
He's overworked, he's tired, and he's an FBI agent whose superiors don't
give a damn what my feelings are about cases like these. They *need*
Mulder--it's why they let him have the X-Files, in exchange for a few
criminal profiles. They need him. And that terrifies me.

So he was tired, he fell asleep at his desk--because Mulder never sleeps, he
can drift off anywhere--and he had a nightmare about Samantha. And he woke
up in a hurry, disoriented--and then he *drove* home, disoriented.

But he answered the phone when I called. I had woken him up--good sign?
Bad sign?--and once he was on the line there was nothing I could say. I
couldn't tell him what I knew. All I could say was that the test results
had been inconclusive, that he should get a good night's rest and that I'd
see him in the morning.

It seems like morning hasn't come.

He went in to see Roche alone--didn't call, didn't leave a message. The
rumor mill creaked and whirred and here I am, on the other side of the
looking-glass, watching.

Mulder is certainly subdued, no longer the fiery advocate of justice and
truth and control he was yesterday. Arms folded across his chest, he looks
like he's trying to pull himself into a little ball, fold himself up so
that Roche can't get inside and see what he's hiding there.

Roche, as always, is calm. He walks in, smiling all the while--if he starts
whistling, I can just picture Mulder hitting him--sits down, and
mechanically brushes nonexistent specks of dirt off the table, looking up at
Mulder expectantly.

He's taller than Mulder, by about three or four inches. Sitting, looking up
at him, he looks like a child anxious to please his father--as Mulder was
when he was young, I'm sure. As we all are.

"Did you bring me my hearts?" Roche asks, the sound tinny from this side of
the glass.

Mulder doesn't respond; he hardly looks up. His voice is slightly hoarse as
he speaks.

"Yesterday you said something about me taking it personally. Why did you
say that to me?"

Oh, God...of all the things I expected to hear coming out of that mouth,
that has to be the one I feared the most. Ask him about the other girls,
Mulder--ask him anything, just don't get into this, not now, not so soon
after Russia...

Roche just sits there, relaxed smile on his face, as if he's enjoying
Mulder's tortured show. For Mulder, it's already too late...and Roche has
all the time in the world.
Mulder takes a breath. "Where were you in 1973?"

That's my cue--to run in and end it all. But I'm entranced by this display,
this open embracing of humanness. <Where were you in 1973?> It sounds like
a bad cop movie. But I want to hear the answer. <Where *were* you in
1973?> Were you on an alien spaceship and if so, did you take Samantha
Mulder?...No, not you, Roche, you're real. What is Mulder getting at? I
already know.

"The whole year?" Roche questions, the corners of his mouth curving upward.
Roche knows what Mulder's getting at, too. And he likes it.

"*November*," Mulder clarifies dully. "The twenty-seventh of November. Do
you know what I'm getting at?"

A bad cop movie. It's a sick parody of a bad cop movie, and all the actors
know what's going on, and all of us have the power to stop it but we *can't*.

Roche's voice is silk as he answers, "I was selling vacuum cleaners in 1973.
I made a sales trip up to Martha's Vineyard that year, and..." He pauses,
as if thinking, as if drawing out the suspense.

"I sold a vacuum cleaner to your dad."

Mulder doesn't react, but I draw in a sharp breath. Roche is--he's

"He bought it for your mom; I believe it ws an ElectroVac Duchess or
Princess model..."


Roche has a habit of ending each sentence as if it's an open-ended question,
making it impossible to tell whether he believes in what he's saying or not.
I don't know what to think. Just because Mulder's father bought a vacuum
cleaner from him doesn't mean--

Bullshit. Of course it does.

"...Your dad and I talked about it at great length." Which gave him plenty
of time to check out Bill Mulder's children--his only daughter...

"He had a really hard time choosing," Roche finishes, an invisible note of
triumph in his voice. Mulder believes him. Do *I* believe him? I don't know.

Mulder doesn't move, arms still folded, impassive. But his voice--tired,
scared, and little more than a whisper--cracks as he asks Roche one last

"What do you know about my sister?"

Roche has won. He's succeeding in breaking Mulder, bringing my partner to
his knees. He's satisifed now. But for one thing.

"You bring me my hearts; maybe I'll tell you more."

Too fast for me to ponder the implications, Mulder draws back his hand and
brings it forward, effortlessly as he did yesterday with Roche's basketball,
to connect with Roche's face and send him reeling across the floor, knocking
the chair down with him. Then he shakes his hand out--I think he's hurt
himself more than he's done harm to Roche, who seems out of breath but not
terribly stunned or upset.

The guard, who's been watching the whole charade with me, moves to the door
and pushes it open. Roche gets to his knees and stands.

"This man...this man hit me," he says, pointing at Mulder. The guard

Roche deserved it, of course. Not that I'm concerned about him. You don't hit
criminals--Mulder *knows* that. You take deep breaths, you leave the room
and bang your head against the wall as far as the FBI is concerned. But you
don't use violence, unless the suspect is resisting arrest, which Roche most
certainly was not doing.

The guard, taking a look around the room--at the overturned chair and Mulder
rubbing his injured hand--almost shrugs. "I didn't see it," he says coldly.

I step in behind him.

"I did."

Mulder, looking down at the floor, gives no reply.


"He was *there*, Scully, he was in the house, he took Samantha," Mulder
rambles disjointedly as he strides out the doorway.

"In your *dream*, Mulder, it was a *dream*," I say firmly--I've been
listening to Mulder's <I had a dream speech>--no pun intended--for over half
an hour now, in that little room. He tried so hard to make it unemotional,
but failed miserably as he told me of how John Lee Roche, not the alien
being, took his sister.

<"And then he took her...">

"Your *mind* made it up," I finish.

"A dream is an answer to a question we haven't yet figured out how to ask,
right? Something buried in your subconscious. You heard him in there, he
*knew* something, he *mentioned* being on Martha's Vineyard--"

It's quiet, controlled hysteria, and I'm determined to stop it. And this
time, this time I have proof.

"Is it a secret you lived on Martha's Vineyard?" I ask.

"Well, how would *he* find out about it?" he shoots back, the perfect lead-in.

"Through the prison library," I say with finality as we stop walking. Was
it only yesterday I was complaining about the exalted prison facilities?
"The inmates have access to the Internet. I checked. Roche logged on just

His face almost wilts with confusion.

"Looking for what?"

"The server records don't show, but on the 'Net, Mulder, he can find out
practically *anything* about you! Look, he is *playing* with you, Mulder,
he is committing emotional blackmail and *you* are letting him. You
*walked* into that room with your heart on your sleeve, he *saw*
vulnerability and he took advantage of it." I take a breath. Because I
didn't mean to come off sounding so harsh, so in a hurry. Because there are
so many holes in that argument. Because Mulder isn't listening. Because
John Lee Roche is still alive and there are two little girls without
families to come home to.

"You had a *dream*," I say in gentler tones. "A nightmare, and you had it
because of all the emotions that this case is stirring up for you. But it
was nothing but a dream."

"My last dream came true," he replies distantly, shattering my argument, my
proof, all my concerns.

He's silent for a moment, and then, in a low, urgent tone that I can't help
hearing still, in my dreams:

"Scully, do you believe that my sister Samantha was abducted by aliens?
Have you ever believed that?"

When he puts it like that--abducted by aliens--I can't help but cringe. I
believe that Samantha Mulder existed, and she's gone. I believe that
*something* took her. Who or what that something was, it's not my decision
to say.

I look down. <"I believe that *you* believe she was, Mulder."> It's what I
should say. But Mulder's a psychologist, an FBI agent--my partner. My
friend. And Mulder, for all his halfhearted joking that one day I'll come
around, for all his stolid insistence against the wall of my proof...Mulder
knows what I believe. And now I need to say it to his face.

But I don't. I don't answer at all. Mulder answers for me.

"No." And the second-hardest question of them all: "So what do you think
happened to her?"

He's right. For four years, I've resisted the belief that Mulder's sister
was spirited away by extraterrestrial beings. But I've neglected to face or
mention *my* version of what happened. Doing so would mean destroying my
faith in my partner, dissolving his credibility and memories...and
annihilating the man himself. So I've pushed it aside, but sooner or later
I know I'll have to face the fact that Samantha Mulder's abductor was human,
and if it was could have been John Lee Roche.

And for all my reported ice queen qualities, my professionalism, my calm
exterior, I'm afraid. For Mulder, and for myself. We've worked so hard,
and so long, and so diligently. Mulder told me once that he couldn't give
up...not as long as the truth was out there. And then, another time, that
he was more certain than ever that the truth was in the X-Files. Here,
there, and everywhere...Mulder searches for truth wherever he gets the
notion he can find it. If only he could realize that he is the truth--just
by being who he is and doing what he's doing. We're a part of the truth,
Mulder and I. And I, at least, can realize that the truth may be
unreachable, but at least I know I am real, my proof is real, and what I
remember is real. That's what attacts me to science--it's real, it's

But Mulder searches for truth in malleable places--in memories, in death, in
thought. In dreams. And for Mulder, recognizing the unreachable goal of
truth makes everything he's worked so hard for effectively void.

Mulder doesn't really want the truth, as he's so often told me. Mulder--and
he admitted it once--wants an *apology* for the truth--something the
government can own up to, something he can be compensated for. Because
what's the use of reaching a goal when there's no one to share it with, no
one to take the blame? Mulder will never realize that he only has himself
to blame for the truth--for the lies. And one day, for Mulder, there will
be no truths left to find--only truths he will have to learn to live with.

And for Mulder, that's not enough.

"What are *you* saying you believe now?" I ask quietly. He sighs and shakes
his head--less a riddle than a mystery. His eyes shine when he finally
looks at me.

"I don't know," he says, his voice curious with amazement. "I don't know
what happened, I don't know what to believe...But I know I have to find out

That's Mulder--courage and strength staring into the bottomless pit of fate.
He turns and starts off down the hall, leaving me standing, wondering.

<Life, what is it but a dream?...>
continued in part five...
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
we *like* it!"
_ _
\ / For information
\ / please write:
/ \ Anonymous
/ \ Dean Warner, moderator
- -

From Tue Feb 25 18:59:21 1997
Subject: NF> Facing November 5/11
From: Myth Patrol <>
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 17:59:21 -0700
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
I love this house.

It's odd, in a way--most, if not all, of my childhood memories are tainted
on recognition, stained with the grief of that November 1973. And this
house, in Connecticut, is a reminder of the changes that followed--the
divorce, the move, the letting go of Samantha. And by the time I was
twelve, too old for childish Samantha-loved games like hide and seek and
find the hidden passage--<"I *know* there's one here *somewhere*, Fox!">
she'd insist--new houses held no adventures for me.

But I love this house. Driving Mom home from the hospital, months ago,
stirred up new longings within me--that things could be the way they used to
be--but most of all, acceptance. Things are the way they are now--and if I
want to change that, I have to fight it.

And I will fight it. And at least for now, this house can be an escape from
all that.

I've come here to find out if what Roche said is really true--if I can find,
as he told me, an ElectroVac Princess or Duchess model vacuum cleaner.
Night has fallen--it's a long drive to Connecticut--and I let myself in with
the spare key I had made, cleaning out the house after Mom's hospital stay.

I came in quietly, and went upstairs, first, to see if she was awake. She
wasn't. Suddenly *I* felt in charge--I was the big brother, the caretaker.
Irrational, of course, because Mom's stroke hasn't really dibilitated
her--and my mother has always been a fighter, and will be to the end.

But that feeling of supremacy, of power--over my own *mother*!--is in some
ways a frightening thought. Mothers are supposed to have all the
answers--and if they don't, they lie, and you believe them. Mothers hold
you when you cry and boss you around when you disagree. There are no
mothers left, of course, that truly fit this profile--and I've profiled
enough 'mothers who killed their children' to know. But it's a wishful
child inside me that still wishes my mom had been everything I wanted her to
be, that my dad had been the perfect father, that--

That Samantha hadn't been taken away...

My mother knows that all I want from life is my sister. And there's no
doubt in my mind that she knows *something*--whether she realizes it or not.
But I won't push--she is, after all, my mother.

It's so hard to search through twenty-three years worth of crap quietly,
without stopping to remember. Sports trophies, dance outfits...packed into
boxes, little squares of my life cut up so long ago. I'm rifling slowly,
carefully, quietly, when I hear her voice.


Damn it.

"Mom! I'm in the basement." My mother's sleepy face descends down the stairs.

"I'm sorry," I tell her, grasping her hand. "I didn't mean to wake you up.
I'm sorry."

She looks so frail, so fragile, standing there. Were things like this,
always? Before the stroke? Before Samantha? I'll never know.

"How are you feeling?" I ask, a question born out of mandatory repetition.

"Good, Fox, I'm fine," she answers, as scripted, but this time I think she
means it. I face death every day, but life is so much more precious now.
Before her stroke, Mom was mother, just there. Always there. Now...

She sighs, looking around, like the time Samantha and I had a pillow fight
while she was at the supermarket and managed to destroy every down pillow in
the house.

"Honey...what are you doing down here in the middle of the night?"

She doesn't ask what I'm doing in her house, or even in Connecticut, for
that matter. I take a deep breath--<so it comes to this>. I have to tell
her--I have to ask her. Indirectly. I'm sorry, Mom.

I pull the fabrics out from my suit pocket--not the best way to transport
evidence; they're crumpled and the plastic is soiled. I really should have
left these at the office, tagged and bagged in the evidence room.

Not a chance.

"Do you recognize these?" I ask her, holding them up to the light. "These
fabrics, either one of them."

She's confused, I know, but she knows it must have something to do with

It *always* has something to do with Samantha.

"What am I looking at?" she asks.

I don't want to tell her. I *won't* tell her. I can't.

"Just look closely," I sidestep. "Do they seem familiar to you?"

"Familiar how?"

Mom--besides Scully--always asks the toughest questions.

"Just *familiar*," I insist quietly. "Have you seen them before?"

It's a long shot. Over twenty years...but Mom would remember something like
that, right? Her child's last pajamas?

She sighs. "Fox...I don't know what you want me to say. You know my
memory's not as good as it used to be before I had the stroke--"

Suddenly, everything my mother stands for, everything *I* stand for,
everything we've created Samantha's memory to be, comes flooding back in a
rush. Mom shouldn't have to deal with this. She shouldn't be in this big
drafty house in New England; she should be playing bridge in Florida. Her
child never should have been taken away from her...she shouldn't have had to
make a choice...

I interrupt her explanation by wrapping my arms around her, once again
reminded that I'm so much bigger than my mother. Dwarfed in my arms, I
smile as encouragingly as I can.

"I'm sorry. It's all right."

It's not all right. I don't want to be taller, bigger, than you. I don't
want to have to walk on eggshells because I'm afraid of upsetting you. I
don't have the answers, Mom! I don't know if I want the answers! And...and
if I were seven years old again, splashing my toddler sister in the
backyard, I wouldn't *need* the answers. Even in my dreams now I'm facing
up to something bigger than me...

Mom sighs again, an <I give up> sigh that wipes away my rambling thoughts.
"Oh, Fox," she says quietly.

There's a bond there, between Mom and I. From 1973 until the time I went
away to Oxford, it was the two of us--Dad was so wrapped up in his own grief
and government projects that he hardly noticed. We've drifted away from
each other over the years, but from the affection in her voice there will
always be something unspoken between us. Mother and son.

For that, at least, I'm grateful.

I pull back from her embrace. "Dad never bought you a vacuum cleaner, did
he?" I say easily. It's a safe question. And I'm sure, after all these
realizations, that the answer is--

"Yeah. A long time ago." She shakes her head. "I don't use it anymore."

The easiness of a moment ago is gone, replaced by gnawing fear. I can
almost *feel* my face harden, masks slipping down.

"Where is it?"

"Well, it's here, under the stairs."

I'm off before I realize where my feet are taking me. Tossing aside the
boxes I was so careful not to disturb only moments ago, I pull out the
heaviest one in the back, the one I don't remember ever being used, when I
was twelve years old.

A vacuum cleaner, like Mom said.

An ElectroVac...just as Roche told me.

Oh, shit. Shit. My first reaction is not one of fear or sadness but of
anger. No. Damn you, John Lee Roche. I have not spent *twenty-three*
years of *my* life looking for my sister only to find out *you* took her
from me, you bastard. No.


He won't let me near him.

Somehow he found out about the 'incident,' as Scully calls it, with Roche
yesterday, and he won't let me near him.

But I need to talk to him. I need to see him. I need to look evil in the
face and have it give me some answers.

I need the truth.

"Sir? I've been *denied* further access to John Lee Roche, I'm told that
order came down from you?"

All I wanted to do last night, the whole drive from Connecticut--and believe
me, it's a long drive--was talk to him. It was too late, of course, but I
was in the office even as the janitor unlocked the building, anxious and
apparently scary-looking as hell. Even Scully balked when she walked in
this morning, backed out, and came back with coffee. Strong coffee--two cups.

Both for me.

Having Scully as a partner is like being a dog walked by its master, on one
of those leashes that stretches out and out and out, but reaches the end of
the rope eventually and reins the dog back in. Scully lets me run ahead as
far as she--I--can take it, and then *wham*, I'm yanked backward so fast I
don't have time to let go of the tree I'm sniffing around.

Roche has screwed me up so thoroughly that this time, it's the authorities
yanking the chain.

Bursting into Skinner's office today wasn't the most proper thing I could
have done about it, but my brain is functioning so...forget it. He's lucky
I didn't start tossing around furniture, the way I'm working right now.

Skinner's eyes flash. "Can you tell me why you saw it fit to strike a
prisoner in federal custody?"

There's only one way he could have known about that, and as that way walks
in behind me, my head gravitates toward her face. She looks as surprised as I.

"Now, Agent Scully didn't report that to me, Mulder,"--<thank you, Scully,>
I intone silently--"though she should have. The whole incident was
videotaped as per prison policy"--<oh, shit>--"--I saw it. And you're lucky
I don't have your ass in a sling!"

My vision moves jerkily, but I'm conscious of the presence of Scully by my
side, giving me strength to argue, though in truth I'm just so tired...


He doesn't give me a chance, but his voice is softer. "You've gotten too
close to this, Mulder. You've let this man get to you!"
His voice is low, soft with urgency, agony. "I have reason to believe he
can tell us what happened to my sister Samantha."

Twenty-three years of searching, chasing, wanting to believe, wrapped up
into one consequential statement. <What happened to my sister Samantha.>

What the hell *did* happen to Samantha, Mulder? Do you know?

Do you want to?

Skinner's looking at me, as if to confirm what Mulder is saying. I take a
deep breath. "It is looking possible, sir."

Mulder almost wilts at that, dead weight on his feet. Only twenty-four
hours ago I was reassuring him that John Lee Roche did not take his sister,
that he was playing Mulder for a few last kicks. Isn't he?

But if aliens didn't take Mulder's sister, then a human being did. And
while any decent person would shudder at the thought of considering John Lee
Roche a normal human being...why not? All the evidence is there. All he's
looked for all those years--everything I've given my life for. Proof. The
shutdown of the X-Files was replete with bemoans of evidence absence. He
told me then all he wanted was proof.

He was wrong. Mulder doesn't want proof. Mulder wants his sister back.
And if the evidence points to the contrary, evidence should rightly be
dismissed. But Mulder is willing to face proof this time--stare evil in the
face and lose, if it means knowing. Evidence, truth, and knowing...used
synonomously, but in Mulder's world--in my world--they're miles apart.

I told Mulder, years ago, on our first case together, that I wanted the
truth. Meaning the government's version of the truth, the people's
version...not the dark side of the truth; that was something I wasn't yet
prepared for, that I'm still not prepared for. Yet I face it every day.
And as the months went on and the cases got harder, the enemies got tougher,
the truth became more obscure. Mulder and the X-Files gave me something I
could never give myself: strength. Strength to face truth, injury,
emotional demons. Yet for all Mulder fantasizes about getting out of his
work, he gains nothing. Nothing. I give him nothing. We know nothing.

<"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?">
<"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.">

Dynamic equilibrium. It was the fancy words that drew me to it in eighth
grade advanced earth science--cutting through deeper, it only meant a state
in which all forces were equally balanced. At times when it feels as if
Mulder is draining me of all my strength--of my *life*--I remember those
times when Mulder gives as much as he takes. All these years it's been
implied--by other agents, by family, by Mulder himself--that Mulder needs
me--not to go on, not to live or love, not simply as a partner, but...but
between the two of us, if one had to choose...all these years I've been
looked at as the stronger one, the practical one, the one that Skinner looks
to for truth, as he did just now. And perhaps I am. Because looking at
Mulder's youthful face, like a child who's just lost his pet puppy and
desperately wants to find her by nightfall, with a flashlight, a whistle,
any means necessary, I don't see the years that have been taken from him,
the truth he's lost time and time again. He's just Mulder, and if he
weren't an FBI agent the world would probably walk on the other side of the
street when they saw him coming.

I look at Mulder, knowing him as deeply as he allows, at his face and his
eyes, and I see truth. I see strength. Strength magnified in guilt as he's
proven again and again that death is just another obstacle to be overcome.
A hero personified.

One of the things I learned about dynamic equilibrium in that science class
was that if both forces were equal, nothing was happening. If in an
erosional/depositional system, erosion and deposition were balanced, then
nothing would change. If uplift is occurring to raise the land, and
leveling is occurring at the same time to lower it, then the land stays
exactly the same. Which may explain why Mulder and I are going effectively
nowhere in our investigations--as our dreams and scope widen, our channels
of investigation narrow and our cases become more confusing. Eventually
something has to give, and we're both so damn tired.

Do I believe that when Mulder finds Samantha, he will stop looking? I don't
know. Does Mulder believe that she'll be left on his doorstep, ID and
medical tests and proof attached, years falling away, memories pure? I
don't know. I hope not. But if one of those little hearts is Samantha,
then we will be the ones to give. Dynamic equilibrium can slip away as
easily as it is first instituted--Mulder will need all the strength life can

Mulder has no strength. He's given it all away.

"John Lee Roche apparently spent most of 1973 in Boston. He did take one
sales trip up to Martha's Vineyard in October of that year." What am I
doing? Mulder wants to talk to Roche and I want to keep him away. Yet I'm
pursuing this, this whole investigation. I even ran a check through all the
existing databases I could get to last night, while Mulder did God knows
what God knows where. I don't want to know Samantha, or find her--not this
way, not dead, not burying her after so many years and the closest look I've
had of her is a happy face and long dark hair smiling out at me from
Mulder's various framed photos. Mulder has hunches and instincts to go
on--I have proof. I can withhold that proof and let Skinner keep Mulder
away from Roche, like I want, or I can offer that evidence and proceed with
the investigation, as Mulder wants.

Mulder *needs*. I owe him that much.

I owe him truth.

My voice grows soft. "The timing is right."

Skinner glares at me, and back to Mulder. Before he can get his next words
out of his mouth--they're about to be <Go home and get some sleep,> or at
least they should be--Mulder speaks.

"I need to know. I just need to speak with him one more time, sir."

Not begging--begging? Has Mulder even ever said please?--but stating the
facts. Skinner sighs.

"Which just makes it even less of a good idea," he declares.

There is naked desperation in Mulder's eyes, and if he opens his mouth he is
going to say something incredibly stupid.

So I do it for him.

"Sir, the fact remains that we still have two victims left to find and
identify." I feel rather than see Mulder flinch unconsciously at my side.
"No one has more insight into this than Agent Mulder"--no one has more
insight into *anything* than 'Agent Mulder'--"and this is still Agent
Mulder's case."

Skinner is silent for a moment, as if weighing his options. He lifts an
index finger.

"You *tread* very lightly," he says to Mulder, and turns his vision on me.
"And you see that he does."

Mulder strides out of the office and I follow, biting back a reply.
continued in part six...
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
we *like* it!"
_ _
\ / For information
\ / please write:
/ \ Anonymous
/ \ Dean Warner, moderator
- -

From Wed Feb 26 17:46:13 1997
Subject: NF> Facing November 6/11
From: Myth Patrol <>
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 16:46:13 -0700
by Rachel Nobel
XA Disclaimer in effect.
"I'm not going to talk to you if you're going to hit me again."

There's a tiny smile hiding somewhere in his face, waiting. <Come, it's
pleased so far...>

Like the Cheshire Cat, it's impossible to tell what Roche is thinking or
feeling or waiting for me to say, locked up in that smug smile. <I have
something you want...I know something you don't know...>

No one suspected Roche, they told us, because he was so damn friendly.
Complimented little girls on their dolls, agreed with a smile to see their
rooms. Told them the new vacuum cleaner their mommy was about to buy would
make the place spotless...charmed them. Those girls went willingly, many of to a magical place because it'd been proven that they all
believed without question in the magic of Wonderland.

Roche knows Samantha. Whether he took her or not, I don't know, but he
knows *something* about her. Something. He *was* in my house, he must have
sold my father that vacuum what's to say he *didn't* take my
sister? Because I remember a classic abduction scenario almost twenty years
later? Because 1973 was too early and Samantha would have been the first?

Because I don't want to discover that she's gone?

I give Roche a smirk of my own and bring the last two hearts out of my
pocket. I don't want to give them to him--they're not his anymore. They
were never his to take. Even Scully protested--almost took them away from
me the drive over, saying I was going to wear the plastic away if I kept
fingering them like I was. Told me we were playing right into his hands,
giving him exactly what he wants.

But what Roche wants and what I want are exactly the same thing--we want to
know what happened to my sister. Perhaps Roche already knows...and there's
got to be some way he'll tell me.

Scully gives me a Glance--one short step away from a Look--as I slide the
hearts across the table to where Roche sits with his hands folded. He
reaches for them almost eagerly, fumbles to open the plastic.

"No." My voice is a surprise to myself as I choke out the word. "You don't
get to touch them. They stay in the bag."

*No* *one* is supposed to touch those hearts, but the hell with procedure--I
need to feel the fabric, sweep away the years. Samantha wasn't exactly a
women's lib any other little girl of the 1960s, she was all
bows and ribbons and pink. Mom actually had to force her into jeans on
weekends at the playground.

I dug out all the old pictures I have of my sister, and any one of her
outfits could be a match for either of those hearts. Even the times she did
wear jeans--the smiling dark-haired child on the slide, hair flowing down
her back for once, perfect teeth, hereditary in my family, shining in the
sunlight--the shirts were pink, purple, red. <Girly>, I used to tell her.
Such a baby. Don't worry, Samantha, I won't let them hurt you...

"Name them," I tell Roche. If only it were that easy. He'd point to them
and tell us--their names, where we could find them.

I want to find Samantha. I don't want to find her this way. But if this
way turns out to be the truth, I will have to face that. Not everyone has a
choice--not everyone can pick and choose during a disaster who comes out
alive. I've been told for years that my sister is most likely
dead...abductees come back, but not after twenty-odd years.

But Samantha...Samantha was special. Samantha was part of the Project--they
said so, my father told me himself...Samantha was insurance, Samantha--

But my father is dead. And I am too close. If I stop searching, if I give
up the X-Files, will they return Samantha knowing I am no longer a threat?
Is my sister all I want out of life?

The corners of his mouth upturned, Roche speaks.

"Well, I think you know one of them already..."

Scully's words hit like a bullet. "Prove it."

Roche's smile widens slightly. He begins, as if telling a story to a child,
as he so often did on his sales trips. If I think hard, I can almost
remember...coming home from school, Samantha being out sick, hearing her
laughter. My father's laughter--but my father never laughed. My mother's
gentle smile. And something else...some stranger. But all the strangers
blur--UPS man or head of the Project? The smell of lingering cigarette
smoke long after the men had left the house, Samantha's worried eyes after
my father yelled when she walked in on one of his meetings. Samantha was
Daddy's little girl...he never yelled at her. My mother's surprised face
when the box arrived...not the most romantic present, perhaps, but useful,
something we needed...Samantha telling me how funny the bald man was...

But I don't know. I don't remember. The memories aren't there for me to

<I wanted to believe...but the tools have been taken away.>

"Watergate was on TV," Roche tells me--only me, as if Scully isn't even in
the room.

<It would be very difficult to reach the conclusion that it was an accident...>

"You and your sister were sitting in front of it, playing a board game with
little red and blue plastic pieces."

<Fox, it's *your* move!>

"You wanted to watch...that TV know, the one with Bill
Bixby...what the heck was the name of that thing?..."

<*The Magician* comes on at nine.>

I swallow, hard. He was there. He knows. He was on Martha's Vineyard and
he sold a vacuum cleaner to my father and he took my sister and he *knows*.
He knows...

"How could you know what I said?"

The answers are too easy. "I was watching. From outside the window. I was
very careful," he adds unnecessarily. So carefully I didn't
carefully the memories came so many years later not as you, John Lee Roche,
but as aliens in the doorway...because it's too hard to believe that *you*
took my sister...because aliens were beginning to interest me and I couldn't
explain why...because it was a classic abduction scenario...

Because I wanted to believe.

"If that's true, tell me where my sister is."

Tell me, Roche. Let me sink my hands into the soft earth and let death
weave through my fingers. Let me take my sister back from where the soil
claimed her those many years ago. Let my tears fall into the dirt and
replenish the earth you ruined with Samantha's broken body the night you
*took* her from me. Why did you take her from me, John? She didn't deserve
that, to be taken away. She didn't want to be taken from me. You didn't
give her a choice, John! She deserved a chance! You gave *me* no chance!
You took my sister and you made me who I am. And I made you who you are.
Did she make you want more, John? You couldn't stop after Samantha, you
needed more, to redeem yourself. For Samantha. For Alice. And
twenty-three years later, I want to relive the nightmare with you.

Let me bring her home.

Roche considers the thought for a moment, and a light gleams in his eyes.
"Pick her out."

My voice is harsh, a whisper. "What?"

"You choose the one that was your sister," he says slowly, "and I'll tell
you where she is."

I feel Scully tense beside me, and I know that any minute she'll speak,
move, stop this. Because I can't stop it, as much as I'd like to--I can't.
I have to do this. I have to send myself to hell.

"It's a fifty/fifty chance," Roche continues. "Either way you get a victim..."

He says this easily, almost as if he and I are old friends and he's trying
to sell me one of his vacuum cleaners. Hell of a salesman, that Roche, they
told us before we caught him, and then they never got over the shame.
Rotting bodies in his trunk with the new shipment went unnoticed. My sister
went unnoticed...

I have to choose. Not for my sister, but for the children, the little
girls. Either way we get a victim...

<Visit either you like: they're both mad...>

They look the same to me, the hearts--pink, white, flowers, bows. I weigh
the options carefully. Samantha didn't like frills, she liked flowers and
muted extravagance. She needed to be comfortable so she could chase me
around the house at bedtime. She...

It's useless, hopeless. Scully watches me, fascinated. Do you see now,
Scully, why I couldn't give you an answer to your question? Do you see why
I left the ISU, why I couldn't go back to Behavioral Sciences even when you
suggested it that night, an alternative to leaving the Bureau altogether?
Do you understand, Scully? John Lee Roche is evil personified, and I am the
other side of his coin. He is offering me my sister--he is offering me
peace. Truth. Knowing.

In return, I give him my life.

"That one," he says softly as I choose. "You sure you want that one?..."

Sharp eyes catch the fear that rises in my throat, up through my eyes. I
chose the wrong one, I picked the wrong heart, it's not my sister, he'll die
before he tells me where she is...I'm sorry...I'm sorry...

"No, just kidding," he finishes, tangible sadness evident in his face. His
voice is quiet.

"It's a good choice."

Oh, God, my sister...Samantha...I've chosen Samantha as they chose her,
*Them*, so many years Roche chose her, now, the first of many, the
first Alice, the first uprising, his first sister paid for his
soul with her life, with my life, and if she hadn't been taken, I wouldn't
have joined the FBI, and they never would have caught John Lee Roche and I
never would have cared.

<Though time be fleet, and I and thou are half a life asunder...>

It's a good choice.

<The strength of your beliefs>...<the truth shall set you free>...<there are
no answers>...<who are you to decide what's right>...death cancels
everything but truth.

<You are the music while the music lasts>

<The hope only of empty men.>

My heart stops. We need locations. Directions. A good choice.

Roche doesn't stop smiling. He's satisfied.

He's won.

Virginia. He told me she was in Virginia, after Mulder bolted out of the
room. The Forks of Capracon--I don't recognize the name.

<I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden with you...>

Our car radios are perpetually tuned to the local oldies station, in an
effort to keep the mood light. Mulder stared out the window the whole
trip--didn't blink, didn't move, not even to tap his fingers nervously on
the dashboard like he usually does. Didn't flinch, even when the station
picked that moment to try alternative and broke out into choruses of
<Sister, I miss you...>

I'd rather he'd fall apart than be so calm. He sat in the car with his
fists clenched and his jaw tight, eyes flashing, burning. I spoke to him in
the hopes he'd answer, test his voice, but there was nothing. He hadn't
even heard.

There should be a calvary following us, half of the Bureau's finest agents
ready to back us up with this. We should be up to our necks in forensic
pathologists and news crews. But Mulder has told no one. Samantha
Mulder--*no*! Not Samantha, but whoever that little girl turns out to be,
if we find anything at all--was such a little girl when she was taken; it
seems fitting, now, that most of Virginia's manpower should be spent on
finding her. I considered pulling out my cellular phone and calling AD
Skinner on the way over, to tell him we had something, but as I looked over
at Mulder's grim stone face I knew I owed him more--we owe Samantha more.

We owe her peace.

He's scaring me; he's scaring himself. The only words he spoke? "Stop here."

How does he do that? How does he know? He wasn't in the room when Roche
told me where the landmark would be, and he wasn't in the viewing room,
either--I found him in the men's room ten minutes later, splashing ice water
on his face. A weak smile--at least he made an effort. I don't want to
figure out how.

But he knew. Even as I pulled the car into the direction of the parking
lot: "Stop here." He was out and running before I could pull into park.
Across the lot, straight to the rock. The landmark.

Mulder's Holy Grail.

He pushed the ferns away with a gentle hand. MAD HAT. Words scratched into
the rock strong as they were years ago. MAD HAT...Roche is the mad hatter.
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"...why would he be the mad hatter? He's a
mere character in a few scenes. And if he wanted to stay true to the book,
it would have been off with their heads rather than strangulation with an
electrical cord. Mulder was wrong--Roche is not acting out a fantasy world.
But he wants us to think that, to believe that, to believe that he is a
psychopath and not just a human being who takes pleasure in destroying. Not
just lives--souls. Cores.


Mulder is running on pure adrenaline now, and he plunges his fingers into
the ground, pushing the dirt away. Frantic. Desperate. Yet in him I see a
hint of what he must have been before--a big brother. Protector.

And now, savior.

I won't let him do this. I let him choose a heart--I couldn't stop him. It
was something he had to do. But I have to offer him a way out. I won't sit
back and watch Mulder send himself to hell.

"Mulder?" Quiet, gentle. Not an order. He'll listen to me. He's always
listened to me in the past, when things get this far. He'll understand.
Won't he?

"Let's get a team out here." My voice is breathless, rising louder,
fascinated by his hands, weaving and interlocking and savagely, finally,
pushing the earth aside.

"Let somebody else do this!"

She's not *here*, Mulder! You won't find her this way. I can't let you!--

His voice is choked, a whisper, desperate, despairing. "Help me, Scully."

Help me. Begging, pleading. Help me. Help me bring her home, Scully...I
can't find my way home...

His hand brushes against mine as I reach down into the soil, to help my
partner uncover an earthbound angel he lost to the darkness so many years
continued in part seven...
Now I think the world is a dark place full
of run-down buildings and weird people who
can squeeze into small places.
--A newbie X-Phile
Queen of Angst Mysterious & Suspicious
Smoker for Scully Extreme Possibilities
Skinner Chick Genteel Ladies Writing Guild

Subbasement supporter--"We're down here, and
we *like* it!"
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