TITLE: Corrigenda (part 8/?)
GENRE: WIP, MSR, A, Post-IWTB
SUMMARY: see part IAUTHOR’S NOTE: Corrigenda is a Latin phrase
meaning “things to be corrected";
sorry for all the grammatical errors,
I am posting this as fast as I write it
so there is ZERO editing done...consider yourself warned! :)
Tuesday - April 15, 2008
Residence of Fox Mulder & Dana Scully
Just Outside Richmond, VA
"We found a match--"
"Who? Why did it take so long--"
"He wasn't in the FBI database, Mulder, let me explain."
"I'm listening," he said and sucked in a lungful of air after the initial adrenaline rush.
"The guy is on file as working for a Richmond-based, technology retail corporation. They require all employees to have their prints taken for security purposes."
Mulder could hear the slight static and muffled noise of the air conditioner circulating recycled air. "You're in your car?"
There was no reply.
"Where is he--"
"You're bringing him in for questioning, right? Tell me where to meet--"
"I don't think that's a good idea."
There was a rustling of fabric coming through the phone like Skinner was shifting around. A thousand questions demanded attention, but for some reason the one Mulder blurted was "What part of the house were his fingerprints pulled from?"
More silence. A long string of obscenities ran through Mulder's head and his eyes shot down to the bottom drawer where he kept his newly-licensed concealed handgun. "You can't expect me to just sit here now that we've got answers!"
"Yeah," Skinner admitted through gritted teeth. "I know. Look, I need you to promise me you will let us handle this the way we are authorized to...if you can't control yourself and the investigation is blown because of some legal slip-up--"
"I promise," Mulder said in as calm a voice as he could manage given the sprint his heart was doing. "I need to be there, Walter."
The use of his first name didn't surprise him as much as he would have thought: Mulder was reminding him of the personal cost this visit could hold for both of them.
Mulder could hear the heavy sigh through the phone and inwardly cheered at his victory.
"I'm only halfway between DC and Richmond. I'll pick you up in an hour."
Mulder answered the door feeling slightly foolish and heavily underdressed, in jeans and a henley, before an Armani-swathed FBI Deputy Director. He opened the door and stepped forward towards the stoop but Skinner's arm shot out to block him.
"There's been a change of plans," Skinner sighed, brushing by his utterly bewildered friend.
Mulder's eyes followed inquisitively as Skinner marched into his and Scully's living room. "What change? We aren't going to the Richmond Field Office?"
"No. He's no longer a suspect--"
"They arrived at his home thirty minutes ago. He was very cooperative and," Skinner swallowed, praying Mulder would miss the beads of sweat that were forming above his eyebrows, "they searched his property. There was no one there besides his young son."
"So what? That doesn't prove a fucking thing!"
"Mulder..." he implored, eyes closed, knowing this was about to get infinitely more heated. He gripped the "former" suspect's file in his hands with the extreme care a snake-handler would give a viper, knowing the deleterious power contained within.
"I want to--"
Daggers of fury flew from Mulder's eyes, his mouth falling open to protest, but before he could utter a word Skinner said, "You need to sit down."
A cold chill passed through Mulder's body and the room seemed to sway. "Sh-she-she's not..."
"No, Mulder, she's fine," Skinner quickly assured him and gestured to the couch. "But I do have some news. You need to take a seat."
Both men moved so that they faced one another on the couch. Skinner extended Mulder a thin manila file folder which he took with quivering fingers. Opening the file, his eyes immediately fell to the small ID picture at the top right corner of the opening page and he gasped.
"Mulder?" Confusion was clear in Skinner's voice, and Mulder's next words came as a complete shock.
"I know this man," he said without pulling his eyes from the photo. "His son was a recent patient of Scully's. The boy had been in a car crash. Drunk driver," he spouted off from memory of his and Scully's conversation at the grocery store. Alarms shrilled inside his head as he recalled with awful precision the admiring, almost-worshipful look in the man's -- he skimmed his eyes down the paper to confirm the man's name, Anthony Walker Patterson -- eyes as they lit upon Scully.
He jumped from the couch. "IT'S HIM! THIS IS THE GUY!" And then he remembered where he was currently and the news he had just received and glared at Skinner, voice full of indignation as he thundered, "You let him go?"
"Sit down, Mulder."
"The hell I will--"
Jesus, Mulder. Don't make me do this. "There's information you don't have."
"What are you talking about?" His voice was impatient, but he finally took Skinner's advice and sat gingerly on the edge of the couch cushion.
"Mulder, what I'm about to tell you...I don't relish being the one to bring you this news, but the last thing I want is for you to find out from someone else..." Well, besides the woman who owes him one hell of an explanation, he thought bitterly. Skinner looked around the room, straightened his tie, adjusted his blazer...anything to delay the inevitable. With nothing else to be done, he fixed his eyes back on Mulder's narrowed ones. "Tony Patterson claims that he and Dana have been seeing each other in secret for several weeks."
The statement caught Mulder so off-guard he felt like he had just run into a plate glass window. The room vanished: all he could see was Scully's letter thrust before his eyes, the words fire as they leapt off the page to scorch him from head to toe.
I've met someone.
Skinner could do nothing to stop it happening. He watched as the whites around Mulder's eyes doubled in size. Watched as the blood drained from his face. Watched as his shoulders hitched from hyperventilation.
"WHAT? He-he's lying!"
"We suspected the same." Mulder's head jerked up at this bit of news. "But there is evidence. He showed us text messages, sent from her cell to his, that date back to March fifth."
Mulder doubled over, as if Skinner had physically punched him in the stomach; his fingers formed claws on his scalp, gripping the locks of hair between. "The fingerprints."
Fuck! Don't make me say this Mulder. Of all the things you could have thought of...
"WHERE?" He jumped to his feet, eyes blazing; Skinner expected steam to burst from his ears at any second.
"The doors, the bathroom...the headboard."
Mulder staggered backward a step, as though he'd been shot; his jaw dropped for less than a millisecond before it snapped shut like a steel trap. He glanced at the couch cushion, the far wall by the kitchen, the porch, his office...and then he clenched his eyelids shut. There wasn't anywhere in that room that didn't hold memories of her body pressed against his.
"What about her absence from work?"
Skinner sighed heavily. "She did that to avoid you...after you found the note."
"Wait, one of your agents spoke to her?"
"No. She is staying with a relative for a little while. We have her contact information to do a follow-up," he said, making it clear that he wasn't about to hand over that little nugget.
"And have you?"
"I'm waiting until I get back to the office."
He turned away from Skinner, eyes still closed.
"I'd like to be alone."
Skinner hesitated. Mulder was not in any shape to be by himself right now and he knew it. He'd seen the depths of the man's depression when Scully disappeared and, though this was a very different disappearance, he knew Mulder would try to secure answers. If someone interfered....
"I can't do that."
Mulder slowly turned back around, but couldn't find the strength to lift his head. "You don't need to worry about me, Walter. I just need some time..."
"Are you sure you can handle this on your own...it's been a rough few days. I don't know--"
"I don't want an audience for this."
Skinner had nothing to say to that.
"Look, do you want me to check in or something later? I know how suicide watches work. This ain't my first rodeo." Somehow the humor was lost on both of them.
"Yeah. If I don't hear from you by the time I make it to DC, I'm hauling my ass back out here." Mulder snorted sarcastically. "And then I'm hauling yours back with me."
Twenty minutes after Skinner left, Mulder was sitting in his office. The piece of paper in front of him was full of angry scrawls as his pen moved feverishly along the lines. There were two distinct columns made obvious only by the space between.
Text Messages She didn't text to warn him we'd be at the store
Fingerprints He came here to get her things
His home was empty He's keeping her somewhere else
She's still gone No one has talked to her; could be a ruse to buy time
Last known contact: Thursday around 2pm
Mulder looked at the list he had made and saw that he had left the most important thing off. The only thing that was keeping him sane.
In huge, bold print, he wrote:
END PART 8/?*************