TITLE: Alchemy, part 2/?
AUTHOR: Tempestuous Jones
NOTES: See part one for notes and disclaimers.
WEDNESDAY, he shakes a nearly empty carton of juice and slaps it back on it's shelf in the fridge. Stuffs a dry piece of toast in his mouth as he pulls on his coat. I duck out the door right on his heels. At work I read over his shoulder as he writes a report of his own, a security check on a corporate merger at the request of the FEC. The end result of his investigation is very interesting, even thought the investigation itself is a bit dry, mostly paper trail stuff. But it could be a national security issue, and someone needs to do it. He's like he is in the meeting; he writes until it's finished, and does not yawn or check the time. He does stretch long and luxuriously when he`s done, raising those arms of his over his head and bending back. He has long arms.
In the afternoon he reviews a case with the two agents assigned to it. And later he goes over an expense report with another pair. Mulder and Scully aren't the only ones he deals with. I don't know why that surprises me, but it does. But since the Violent Crimes division is under his supervision, which is roughly 70% of the FBI's workload, of course he sees other agents. The nuts and bolts of catching criminals. People forget about that part. I catch the female one trying to look at Skinner's ass as he rises from his chair to escort them out. I scowl at her, just like I did at the guy at the gym. I frown at myself, recognizing the sensation again. This isn't like me. I normally don't care who's sleeping with who, unless it was specifically part of a job I was on.
He stays late again. Still more paper work.
We stop at the gym on the way home. He lifts very heavy weights, very slow and controlled, for an hour. More free entertainment when he showers again. Watching water sluice down the planes of his back, the curve of his ass, and down those long legs keeps me too busy to check if anyone else is watching the show.
On the drive home, we zip right past a grocery store. He stops at a small, low-key restaurant and orders a burger and a beer. They have a TV, and he sits back and watches the game for a while after he eats. I watch him tip his head back and swallow his beer. And I have the sudden urge to run a finger from his jaw line down the side of his throat. I don't recall noticing someone's neck before. And I wonder if there's some way a ghost can drink beer. That burger doesn't look bad, either.
It's late when we get home. But he sits down on the couch and leans over a couple of files spread over his coffee table, including Mulder's version of the Amber Lynn LaPierre case. Which is a somewhat different read than the missing persons version. Lots of regulation no-nonsense stuff, Mulder is not entirely a crackpot. But.
// What the hell are 'walk-ins'?// I ask after reading a bit over his shoulder.
" 'Walk-ins' ?" Skinner echos out loud, scrunching up his nose. "And starlight... Oh, boy, Mulder." I catch Skinner's name frequently and assume he was closely involved, but apparently there are a few things Mulder and Scully didn't tell him about at the time.
And then he opens a copy of Samantha's file that Monica has found somewhere. He thumbs through it, paying special attention to investigative reports . There is also a transcript and a tape dated from '89 of Mulder's regression hypnotherapy. We do not play the tape, but he reads the transcript.
HEITZWERBER: But your eyes are open?
MULDER: Yeah, they're open but it's like ... nothing's happening.
H: Try turning your head.
M: I can't
H: Why not?
M: I dunno... I can't move... so I don't. I just lie there in bed.
H: Can you see your sister?
M: No... but I can hear her.
H: What does she say?
M: She's calling out my name. Over and over again. She's crying out for help. But I can't help her. I can't move.
H: Are you scared?
M: I know I should be, but I'm not.
H: Do you know why?
M: Because of the voice.
H: The voice?
M: The voice in my head.
H: What's it telling you?
M: Not to be afraid. It's telling me that no harm will come to her. And that one day she'll return.
H: Do you believe the voice?
M: I want to believe.
Skinner looks sad. He absently traces a circle around the last two lines with his finger, lost in thought. He picks up one of the Mulder kids' photos from the coffee table. It's the one of them leaning on the tree. He looks at it for a long time, then rubs his eyes under his glasses.
"Did anyone ever stop and ask you if you were all right?" he asks out loud, tapping a finger on Mulder.
The investigation was, going by the reports, extensive. Everybody's involved. Local cops. FBI. Some intelligence types, probably because of Bill Mulder's position. Skinner's muttering the names of the agencies that step up to the plate as he flips though each report. What a big pile of... paperwork.
"Christ. They all asked identical questions. Identical. The Mulders must have gone crazy."
He must be getting tired. He's talking to himself; he doesn't normally do that.
He turns the page to see a partly burnt form of some kind in one of those plastic acid free photo keepers with an evidence tag in there with it.
"Ah. Scully's writing... 'recovered from burnt trash... Teena Mulder'." Skinner peers at the remnant. I lean in closer and push my glasses up my nose.
"Treasury Department? What the hell's the Treasury Department doing in this?" He blurts out. It's an order to terminate the search, from what I can see. Kind of... odd.
"Terminate?! What the hell for?!" By the look on the big guy's face he's probably wondering on what fucking authority. It's great when he gets mad. His chest muscles kind of puff up. He traces his fingers down the page quickly, looking for a signature, and finds some initials that look mighty familiar to me.
"C. G. B. S." He draws in a slow deep breath, and I can practically see the storm cloud. "SON OF A BITCH!" Thunder, too. "What did he do, stage the entire fucking investigation?!"
//Sounds about par,// I nod in agreement. He's got me talking out loud now, even though no one can hear me. This is getting odd, because it almost sounds like we're having a conversation.
He flips back to all the other statements from the other agencies involved. He starts to scribble furiously on his notepad, growling to himself, "... black lunged sonuvabitch." I lean in close to see what he's written. 'Repetitive nature deliberate? Test that Mulders keep story straight?'
He grinds his jaw, scribbling his question in his notes, muttering to himself, "Should've fired those bulletts into your skull when I had the chance instead of just into your wall. Bastard."
//What??// He continues writing. //What?! You shot at Spender? When the hell did this happen?// Damn... when did I miss this? Aw, fuck me, I would have loved to see that, the look on Spender's face, oh so subtle, but definitely crapping his pants.
He turns to the next page in the folder and the situation does not improve.
There is another plastic page protector with another Scully-written evidence tag. Teena Mulder's trash again. This is a scrap of a burned photo that looks a lot like one of the ones on Skinner's coffee table.
Skinner slaps the file shut and stares at the cover, radiating quiet rage. "I don't understand you, lady. I don't." There is more furious writing on his notepad. I read. ' Review file notes on notifying Mother re: Mulder's various injuries. Ongoing detachment apparent. Minimal response to my numerous notifications. Review discharge papers re: Mulder's psychotic/mind reading event. Pretty sure she showed up in person and signed him out to Smokey.'
He leans back with a deep sigh. "And just why the fuck did you do that? What the hell were you thinking? And why burn the pictures? Your children's pictures?"
The second question has me a little baffled too. I can only offer that maybe she really was the cold fish she appeared. As for the first part, I know Skinner's wondering why she never responded to his own entreaties to come to Mulder's side, yet cooperated with Spender's ploy to get his mitts on Mulder. That may be true to form. Teena and Spender, the rumor goes, have collaborated rather closely in the past, in a manner of speaking. There was some idle speculation as to whether or not Mulder is even a Mulder, but few had the nerve to ask Spender outright. The only one I know for sure who did was blown up in a car. And Bill, whether he knew or not, can't say. I was ordered to pull his plug before he told Mulder too much about anything.
Not that he was a great loss. I can't believe some of the things he did, all the while trying to be the conscience of the conspiracy. Or so I've been told.
Skinner flips through a few more pages, absently shaking his head. There is Teena Mulder's autopsy report, prepared by Scully. It contains a simple statement of cause of death, and nothing further about it. Skinner and I snort disbelievingly at pretty much the same moment. I'm not the only one a little put off that Scully did not investigate any possible causes of the cancer. I think it's odd, given what she knows about her own cancer, who or what may have caused it, and what she knows of Teena's association with the Syndicate. They don't like to leave loose ends, and Teena was potentially a big one.
"'Terminal cancer', my ass. Come on, Scully, even I can smell this one. And you of all people." He snaps the folder back onto the coffee table. "I need a drink."
//Stoli, please, while you're up.//
"I need a drink," he announces while stomping into the kitchen, "I need a vacation." He opens an expensive looking bottle of scotch, plunks some ice cubes into a glass, and pours in a splash. " I need a nice normal boring crime report, of a nice normal boring crime, like an embezzlement, or restaurant fraud. In Nebraska." He tosses the whole thing back in one belt.
He ponders his empty glass, then roots around in his cupboard a bit, waaaaay in the back, where the orphans from past parties live, and pulls out a clear glass bottle with crystal clear liquid. I catch the label while he pours.
Stolichnaya. Well, fuck me.
I watch him pour it into his glass, hearing the ice crackle, and frown. Didn't think Skinner was a vodka drinker. Neither does he, apparently, since he's frowning at the drink, too. But he shrugs noncommittally and tosses that one back with the same gusto as the first.
Back at the couch, he finds his place in the file. Another page protector, this one covering a California Highway Patrol blotter reporting a teenaged girl who refused to give her name, claiming she was held against her will. Her general description matches Samantha's. It is dated 1979. The cops took her to Dominic Savio Memorial Hospital for an exam. Skinner peers carefully at the sergeant's signature, and scribbles another note: "Locate and interview Sgt. Thomas Medavoy re: 1979 runaway girl."
Next page, another protector (Scully could be a demon scrap-booker one day), another old piece of paper, this one an admission report from Dominic Savio Memorial Hospital. It's the girl brought in by the CHiP. Skinner has started muttering to himself again as he reads through it.
"Physical exam normal. paranoia... Ah. Here we go. Crescent shaped scars, knees wrists and chest... " He scribbles the same on his pad and underlines it. "Tests were incomplete when this was written. Wonder if they ever got completed? " He writes a reminder to contact Dominic Savio Hospital and ask for the test results. "Now, is there anyone here I can talk to?" He scans the form for a signature, and finds the name Arbutus Ray. He adds her name to his growing list.
On the next page we read a brief report of a discussion Scully had with Nurse Ray. Ms. Ray recalled a `pretty girl who was frightened for her life'. Apparently she wouldn't let anyone but Ray touch her. The nurse had a vision of girl, dead in her bed, but she was really only sleeping. To me this seems very much like the visions mentioned in Mulder's LaPierre reports. Ray goes on to mention that later that night, unidentified men came to take her home. Including `a smoker Ms. Ray assumed was the father`. But when they went to get her, she had disappeared from a locked room without a trace. Well, it would seem Spender's vague accounts of his terminating her may not have been completely accurate.
Skinner tosses his pen on the coffee table and rubs his eyes underneath his glasses. With a sound that's half sigh and half groan, he treats me to another one of those magnificent stretches. This turns into a yawn. He looks at his watch.
"Fuck." He heads towards bed, detouring to drop the notes and the file into his briefcase, muttering curses about the time all the way. When he sleeps tonight, he is not quite as restless as usual, but the lines in his face are still too deep.
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