09.35 a.m.
The basement office

Dana Scully pulled her reading glasses off and pinched the bridge of her nose. She had been working all night, trying to find a clue to where Mulder could be. But, so far, she had come up with nothing. And her hope of finding her partner alive was dwindling with every passing hour.

A heavy sigh escaped her as she leaned back, stretching some of the fatigue out of her limbs. In the process, she turned her chair a little and glanced toward the door. Something she had not previously noticed was lying on the floor. A folded piece of paper.

More than a little surprised and yet eager to find out what it was, she got off her chair and grabbed the page. An address was written on the top corner and that was it.

380, Oak Hill Drive, Oak Hill, Virginia.

Frowning, she wondered if that was where Mulder was or if this was a place where she could get information about it. She grabbed the phone, dialed an internal number and picked up a pen. "Yes, hi, Frank. It's Dana. Listen, could you help me out here? I've got an address and I don't have a name to go with it." She tapped the pen on the desk. "Yes, it's 380, Oak Hill Drive, Oak Hill, Virginia. - Sure, I'll hold." Her eyes never left the paper and she didn't notice the shadow under the door which briefly lingered there, then vanished again. "Yes? - Nobody, huh? How long has it been empty?" She heaved a deep breath. "Okay, thanks, Frank. You've been a big help." With that, she hung up again.

So nobody was living in that house, huh? She would believe that when she saw it. Determined to get there as fast as possible, she almost forgot one important issue. She would have to inform Skinner of her plans.


Location unknown

Mulder had stared up at the ceiling of the basement room until his eyes hurt. Nothing happened and he felt fairly okay as long as he didn't move too much. Longing for some water, he slowly turned his head, trying to see if there was anything to drink in the area. But he saw nothing but dull grey walls and dull grey floor and dull grey ceiling. And the door, of course. Moving as slowly as he could, he sat up, ready to drop back down if his stomach showed the slightest sign of getting upset. But so far, all he got was a low rumble because he was actually hungry.

He had barely sat up before the door opened. Standing there in the open doorway with a porcelain pitcher in one hand and a glass in the other was a woman he didn't recognize.

"Thirsty?" she asked, her tone of voice concerned. She was beautiful with a head full of blond hair and the most amazing blue eyes he had ever seen.

He gingerly nodded his head and she came over to him and squatted down, her eyes regarding him thoughtfully. She poured him a glass of water and handed it over. "Boy, that's one hell of a bump you've got there," she said, inspecting his bruised forehead.

"It hurts, too," he replied after having taken a sip of the water. "Where am I? How did I ... get here?" he wanted to know.

"You were brought here. By her," she replied, nodding toward the open door. There was nobody there.

Mulder frowned and winced at the same time as he glanced toward the door. "Who her?" he asked and started to get up.

"Me, silly," she replied. She had turned her head toward the door and now she turned it back, that snide grin on her lips. Her features changed, her hair color changed. Her eyes didn't just change color, though. The pupil also changed shape, becoming star-shaped. "You know, Foxy," she said, her tone suddenly deep. "I thought I'd lost you. But here you are, back again." With that remark, she whipped the pitcher toward him.

It connected squarely with the side of his head and shattered into a thousand pieces, drenching him and restoring his headache to new heights. He hit the floor again, grabbing his head with both hands, moaning in pain.

"What's the matter, Fox? Can't take a little abuse?" she cooed. "You know, I thought I'd done you as much harm as I possibly could, but it seems that I have not. You don't cower in fear before me." Sighing, she put her hands on her hips, staring down at him. Her pupils expanded and contracted with every heartbeat, giving the impression of a pulsing star. With venom in her eyes, she hammered the toe of her right cowboy boot into his mid-section, causing him to lose what remaining air he had in his lungs in one great gasp.

He fought for a moment to regain his breath while the pain was pulsing and pounding away inside his skull and now also in his stomach.

"You disappoint me, sweetie," she said, shaking her head in annoyance. "You know, I think I've got something that can rectify this situation quite elegantly. Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back," she said, walked around him and stabbed the toe of her boot into the small of his back with enough force to almost paralyze him with pain.

After a few seconds that seemed like years to him, he finally managed to gulp down a dearly needed breath of air. Gasping, he eased into a stretch and finally managed to pull himself together enough to get up on his hands and knees. Keeping his head down for a moment, he tried to estimate if the damage was only superficial or if she had harmed him internally with those kicks. It didn't seem like it, although it felt that way right now. What he most needed right now was to get up so he could get the drop on her and get out of here. The faster, the better. He managed to get to his feet. Doubled up in pain from both his back and his mid-section, he had grabbed his knees to keep from keeling over again. He forced air into his lungs and then slowly rose, frantically blinking away black spots swirling in the air in front of his eyes. With every breath he took, they diminished. Staggering a little, he started toward the door, reaching out for the door knob.

The door opened with enough force to knock him off his feet. He hit the floor on his back and was able to avoid the first attack by rolling out of the way. The next one hit him hard on the left shoulder, a fire spreading rapidly down through his arm from where the metal-baseball bat had hit him.

The third hit she never managed to administer. He pushed himself around and hammered both feet into her abdomen, throwing her backwards, making her drop the bat. Mulder was on his feet in a flurry, grabbed the bat and raised it.

And that was when her shape-shifting abilities got in his way. She had shifted again and although he knew the now eight-year old girl cowering on the floor wasn't who his eyes told him it was, he just couldn't hit her. Pale as a ghost, he lowered the bat and stumbled a few steps backward, staring at the shivering form on the floor with hate and sadness fighting for dominance inside him.

"God damn it, what did I ever do to you?" he wheezed, holding his left arm against his body. His shoulder was hurting too badly for him to move it. It was probably broken. But the physical pain he was in was overshadowed by the mental pain she was causing him by posing as his sister. His strength was ebbing away quickly and eventually, his legs gave in and he dropped down on his knees, leaning heavily on the bat.

She shape-shifted back to her original form and stared at him. "You're just such a good victim, Fox," she said as ways of explaining why she was putting him through hell. "You've always been a victim. All your life. First your mother's resentment toward you, then your father's, then everybody's. You suffer so well. If that was taken away from you, you would be nothing."

Exhausted from the pain and the constant pounding in his head, he closed his eyes for a second. "Fuck you," he growled and raised his head. "What the hell have I ever done to you? Why did you pick me? Did you just wake up one morning and decided to make my life a living hell?"

She grinned. It was an evil expression. Obsessive, possessive and full of foreboding of the worst kind. "There's that suffering bit again," she said, slowly getting up. "You should know by now, Fox, that you can't hurt me without jeopardizing your own life. You've been subjected to the retro‑virus before. You remember what it was like. Don't you?"

He struggled back to his feet, wanting nothing more than to lie down and just sleep until it all went away. He was so tired, so exhausted. "I don't care anymore," he said, raising the bat threateningly when she took a step toward him. "I've been pushed around enough and I don't give a shit anymore. Just leave me the hell alone." The latter he yelled although it hurt his head. He obviously could not get his point across in any other manner.

Her shoulders rose at the same time as she lowered her head a little and that gave her a predatory look. "But you care about Dana, don't you?" she asked sweetly. "Dana is on her way here. Once she's here, I'll teach her some real suffering. I'll make her suffer so much it'll drive her mad." His anger was obvious to her. She didn't need to hurt him physically to administer pain. "I'll tip her over the edge and she'll end her life in an institution, completely off her rocker. Too dangerous to set free and too well to kill. She'll end her days where she fears to end them the most. Among psychotics. I read her mind when I knocked her out in your apartment."

He let out a half‑hearted sound of anguish, his face twisted in pain. "You won't touch her," he snarled, threw the bat aside and lunged for her throat. It was only at the last second that he realized his mistake. She had provoked him and had made him forget for a second how dangerous she was. Enough time for her to bring out a syringe which she embedded in his left shoulder the second he collided with her. The force of his forward motion helped her inject the pink liquid in the syringe into him before he had a chance to stop it. Staggering back, he yanked the needle out of his shoulder again and stared at her. "What the hell was that?" he wanted to know.

"Oh, just about ten cc's of Crystalstar. You're a junkie now," she said with a satisfied smirk. "Just for good measure I'll beat the crap out of you before your precious Dana turns up here. She won't know that anything's wrong until you start getting the withdrawal symptoms and by that time, it'll be too late. She'll have to supply you with more of the drug to keep you sane."

Mulder stared at the syringe in his hand, then managed a wavering smile. "You don't become an addict from one doze," he said, looking up to meet her eyes.

"Of this stuff, you do. Haven't you read the paperwork?" she asked and with a smile shape‑ shifted into one of the newest members of Skinner's team. She hadn't been a part of the stakeout, but she had been there at the meetings. "You see, Fox? You can't hide from me. I've been keeping an eye on you for the past month. You never knew it was me, did you?"

Mulder had read the paperwork on this new drug, but he had been the first to refuse to believe that the drug would make an addict out of anybody this fast. Shaking his head, he took a step backward, the syringe falling out of his hand. It shattered on the floor. "No," he whispered and swallowed hard. The world was slowly taking on a strange focus.


9.55 a.m.
J. Edgar Hoover building

Skinner looked up when Scully stepped into his office. "Anything?" he wanted to know.

"Yes, sir. I've got an address. I'm going there right now," she said.

Skinner frowned immediately. "Where did you get that address from, agent Scully?" he demanded, already knowing what she would say.

"I'm not sure. It was lying just inside the door this morning. But I think it's from ... him. I ran into him in our office last night and I hinted that Mulder was missing. He seemed upset about it, so I told him what had happened, strongly suggesting that he was involved. And then I find this piece of paper on the floor," she explained, handing the paper over.

Skinner took it and stared at the address for a moment. Then he nodded thoughtfully. "Yes, I think you're right. It must be from him. I take it you've checked on the address already?" Scully nodded. "And nobody lives there," he added. With that, he got up, grabbed his suit jacket and shrugged into it. "I'm coming with you. You're not going out there on your own. Just in case."

Scully stared at him, not liking the implications of his words, but grateful that she did not have to go alone. Just in case.


380, Oak Hill Drive
Oak Hill, Virginia
10.15 a.m.

The shape shifter watched as her victim dropped back down on his knees, blinking frantically to get his vision back under control. All the while, he tried to keep her in his line of sight.

Grinning, she got to her feet and slowly approached him. "What's the matter, Fox? Can't see straight?" she cooed and hammered a fist into his face, thereby knocking him backwards. "You're going to hurt, my friend, and once this stuff kicks in, you'll hurt real bad. It intensifies every feeling you have, yet makes you rather impassive." Explaining this to him made no difference right now. She knew that. She wasn't even sure she had gotten it right how the drug worked, but that didn't really matter. She was enjoying herself immensely.

For the next half hour, she beat the crap out of him. Partially using her fists and feet and partially the bat, which she had picked up again, she nearly battered him into oblivion, virtually thriving on his cries of pain. Eventually, she took a timeout to catch her breath, the thrill of hurting someone making her body tingle. She just stood there for a moment, staring down at the writhing heap of human misery and smiled. The ultimate high she always got from this was when she killed them, though. Although it hadn't been her plan to kill this one, she was too tempted to put an end to his suffering right now. Inhaling deeply, she raised the bat up over her head, ready to bring it crashing down on his head. He might survive the blow, but he would never again be able to use his mind for anything interesting.

He moaned, trying desperately to get beyond the debilitating pain so he could get out of her way, but he just couldn't make his limbs move.

She saw his feeble attempt to save his life and the smile widened into a grin. "Sorry, Fox. I didn't intend for it to end like this, but I just get a kick out of killing. Can't help it," she told him.

Her attempt to bring the bat down on his head was stopped, though. It seemed to be stuck on something. She pulled at it and it was yanked out of her hands pretty brutally. Surprised, she turned around to face a dark-haired woman about her height, dressed completely in black, standing behind her with the bat in one hand. "What are you doing here?" she demanded, her expression showing nothing of the glee she previously had been feeling.

"You better start running, Shael," a deep, slightly hoarse voice told her. "And run fast. You know I can catch up with you." Under a mane of erratic dark-brown curls a pair of deep, brown eyes were staring hatefully at her. "Run, girl," she repeated. Shael did not have to be told twice. With obvious fear in her eyes, she rushed out the door and was gone.

The newcomer squatted down next to Mulder and reached a hand out toward him. He flinched back, but she merely brushed blood-soaked hair away from his bruised brow. "Easy," she whispered. "Your friends are on the way, Fox. They'll be here soon. They'll take care of you." With that, she rose again. "I've got myself a freak to catch," she added darkly, turned around and left.


Ten minutes later, Skinner stopped the car in front of the abandoned house of 380, Oak Hill Drive. It looked pretty new, but the garden surrounding it was a wilderness. With their guns drawn, Scully and Skinner approached the house, keeping their senses alert for any disturbance. But everything was quiet.

Scully grabbed the door knob and opened the front door. The house was quiet when she stepped inside. Glancing at Skinner, she moved forward. The house wasn't that big and consisted only of the ground floor and the basement. After checking the ground floor, Scully moved toward the stairs leading down to the basement. It was still quiet and the ground floor showed no signs of inhabitants other than the fact that the dust had been disturbed recently.

Scully moved slowly down the stairs, ready for the worst, but reached the end of the stairs without incident. "Mulder?" she called, hoping that he was here.

A groan reached her, which made her freeze for a second. "Mulder?" she tried again, a little louder. She walked toward the only open door and stopped short.

There he was. She completely forgot all safety regulations when she holstered her gun and closed the distance between them, dropping down on her knees next to him. "Oh my God," she whispered. He was a mess. "Skinner," she yelled and heard him come down the steps. "Take it easy, Mulder. We'll get you out of here," she soothed her half unconscious partner.

Skinner turned up in the doorway, glanced around the bare room, then focused on Mulder. A brief twitch at the corner of his mouth was the only thing disclosing how he felt about the situation. He, too, holstered his gun, dug out his cell phone and called for the paramedics.

While they waited, he surveyed the scene. There wasn't much here except for the bloodied baseball bat.

In the backyard of the house, up on a wooden fence, the dark-haired woman was sitting, watching the house. When the ambulance came and the paramedics ran inside, she slipped down on the other side and walked toward a parked car. She sneered like an animal when she saw the flat tires. So her little friend had decided to try and delay her. Tough luck. She could still outrun her. Her deer brown eyes glittered in the morning sun, her expression one of utter concentration as she stared across the field which stretched for almost a mile toward the horizon. Then she smiled and started running, moving more like a cat than a human being.


2.30 p.m.
North-West Georgetown
Washington, D.C.

After a painful and nearly fatal trip to the hospital and the subsequent rush to save his life, Mulder was finally left alone. With a major concussion, a broken left shoulder, three broken ribs and almost every inch of his body bruised, he briefly wished they would just let him die. But, the worst had probably been when they had re‑located his jaw. One of the hits of the baseball bat had squarely pushed his jaw out of the joint. It had hurt at the time, but it hurt a hell of a lot more when the doctors shoved it back where it belonged. His right jaw line had swelled out of proportions, making it almost impossible for him to speak, let alone open his mouth. The constant thudding in his head with every heartbeat nearly drove him insane, but he knew somewhere in the back of his head that they couldn't give him any medication for any of it before they knew he was over the hill. He had almost died in the ambulance and only Scully's insistent demands that he should stay with her had held him back.

Scully sat next to the bed now, watching him. She was tired. That was obvious. But she would not allow herself to rest until she knew he was out of the woods. She took his hand and gave it a light squeeze, not wanting to cause him unnecessary pain. "Look at you," she almost whispered. He blinked heavily at her, wishing by God that he didn't hurt so much. "You're a mess."

He wanted to respond to it, but he could barely keep himself awake. He knew he had to due to the concussion, but it was so hard. He just wanted to sleep so badly. To close his eyes and just drift away. Besides, his jaw sent a burst of pain through him every time he even moved his tongue. His eyes slid shut almost against his will.

"Mulder, you have to stay awake," Scully urged him. "Come on, you can do it. You're tough." Brushing a hand through his hair, she smiled when he opened his eyes again, the pain in them obvious. "I know it's hard, but you have to try. You're not out of the woods yet."


08.30 a.m.
March 30

Mulder woke up after having been out for nearly two days. He felt awful in every sense. And there was no release from the pain. His jaw hurt like hell, his shoulder was sending pulses of debilitating pain through him with every beat of his heart. He believed he could feel every bruise, every scratch on his body. And his head felt like it was going to explode. Groaning, he moved his head a little and froze when that only increased the pain. He wanted to grind his teeth together, but even the thought of what that would do to his jaw made him flinch. Only one thing was going through his head. He wanted to pass out again, to slip back into the comforting darkness.

"Mulder?" Scully leaned over him, smiling when she found he was awake. "How are you?" she added, then noted the glassy sheen to his eyes. "Are you in pain?" she wanted to know, glancing away for a second. He nodded weakly and flinched painfully. That brought a frown to her face. "You shouldn't be. You're on some pretty heavy pain killers." She straightened up and checked the drop, then the bag and found that none of it was faulty. Not at all happy about this, she decided to take it up with his doctor once the man had the decency to appear. "Just take it easy. I'll just see if I can't find your doctor."

"Scully," he managed in a weak whisper. She stopped moving and leaned closer again. "Crystal ... star," he added hoarsely, blinking heavily at the pain these words caused him to speak.

The frown on her face deepened. "What about Crystalstar?" she wanted to know.

"On ... it."

Her confusion was hard to ignore. She stared at him for a moment, unable to respond to that. "You're on it?" she then asked, wanting to confirm what she had just heard. "What do you mean, you're on it? Mulder, you don't do drugs," she went on with a shake of her head.

"No," he breathed, too tired and too much in pain to actually talk. "Forced." He could only manage so much and the flaring pain in his jaw made him close his eyes hard, a single tear trickling from the corner of his eye. It hurt so bad it made him cry.

"You were forced?" Scully asked, deeply concerned. Weakly, he nodded once. "She gave you an injection? She stole that extra pound that was missing and gave you an injection?" Again, a vague nod was the only reply he could give. Pressing a hand over her mouth, Scully sat down on the chair she had already spent so much time on. This was very bad. After thinking about it for a moment, she grabbed his hand. "Don't worry. We'll deal with it," she assured him, not certain they could. According to what she knew about this drug, the addicts went through hell when coming off it and she wasn't so sure her partner would survive that. Not in his present state. It would be hard enough to get through if you were fairly healthy. But he had almost died two days ago. Needless to say that he would not be able to handle coming down from the high the drug was necessarily giving him. And if it was as highly addictive as was claimed, Scully feared for his future.


10.15 a.m.

Skinner slowed down when he neared Mulder's room and saw Scully sitting outside. She looked worried, deeply troubled. Stopping next to her chair, he looked down at her for a moment, slowly becoming aware that she had not noticed him. "How is our patient today?" he finally asked.

Scully jerked, then looked up at him. "Oh, I didn't see you there," she said, sounding a little flustered. "He's ... uhm ... not doing so good."

Skinner sat down next to her. "What is that supposed to mean? I thought his vital signs had stabilized," he replied, slightly concerned now.

"Well, both yes and no. He's in terrible pain. I was rather confused about this when I found out. He's getting enough painkillers to knock out a rhino, but he's still in pain. It turns out that this ... female gave him an injection of 10 cc's of Crystalstar."

Staring at her, the assistant director found that rather hard to fathom. "10 cc's? That's ... a lot," he commented, a little taken aback.

"Yes, it's a lot. Why he hasn't O.D.'ed on it I don't know. He should have been dead. Fact is, though, that he's not and this drug is obviously enhancing sensitivity when it's working its way out of the system again. He was tripping when we found him. As it was his first doze of the drug, it has taken his body rather long to get off the trip again. And now he's crashing. He feels everything twice as strong and that puts him in a world of hurt no matter what we do to subdue it. The only thing that has worked so far is sedating him so strongly that he virtually passes out. But it's not good for his system. It's not good for his heart. I'm afraid of the consequences. Of the permanent damage it can do to him."

Staring ahead of herself for a moment, she could not help thinking of the one solution to all this. "He can't deal with both getting over this attack and getting off the drug at the same time. It's just not humanly possible. And he's still not out of the woods. If the pain increases . . ." She shook her head, not sure how to say what was on her mind "...he could very well go into cardiac arrest in no time."

"In other words, you think he's dying," Skinner compensated. Scully nodded solemnly. "Damn," he mumbled.

"Yes," Scully agreed. "And I think that the fact that she's still out there also has an influence on him wanting to live or die."

Skinner pursed his lips for a moment. "That's just the thing. We have eyewitness accounts from the area that a dark-haired woman beat the life out of her with a branch. One guy who wanted to help her, died of the retro-virus. And the dark-haired woman apparently vanished back into the woodwork after making sure that this ... female was dead. Our perpetrator supposedly disintegrated into a green slush."

That piece of information didn't do much for Scully. "So, another one of them is dead. We still don't know if there are more out there."

"I don't think there are," Skinner cut in. "Our Cigarette-Smoking friend turned up in my office this morning. He was pretty damned upset about losing his precious clones. He virtually said as much. I asked him what the hell he was talking about and he clamped up and retreated again. I got the distinct impression that he was the one who has sent this ... thing after Mulder."

Frowning, Scully tried to find head or tail in all this. "It doesn't make sense. I think he was the one who gave me the address. Why would he do that if he didn't want us to kill that woman? I mean, we didn't. But someone sure did."

Leaning back on the chair, Skinner stared thoughtfully at the wall across from them. "Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"


02.00 p.m.

The concept of pain had always been awkward to him. He didn't like pain. Not the physical kind and not the mental kind. He knew there were some people who got off on being in pain, on suffering, on being dependent on others, but he didn't share that sentiment. He hated being dependent on others. He hated being in pain. He had been there often enough, but this time it was different.

Apart from the pain which no painkiller could subdue successfully, he knew he was also hooked on that drug. The mere thought that he would become an addict after just one shot of it, no matter how big that shot had been, was a mystery to him. One he however spared fairly little time thinking about at the moment.

His mind was a blur. He couldn't think, couldn't concentrate. Nothing in the world mattered other than the steady, pulsing, burning pain. For the first time in his life, he could honestly say that he wanted to die. He didn't know how much longer he could take the pain which was renewed with every heartbeat, every breath he took. His jaw hurt worse than anything he had ever experienced and due to that his jaw muscles cramped up and that increased the pain even more.

A light shiver ran through him with every beat of his heart and he felt incredibly hot. And somewhere in the back of his head, he knew he could seek release from at least some of the pain. But he had no way of getting to the drug. No way of getting out of this bed. Moaning silently, he closed his eyes, trying to concentrate on other things than the pain and the need he felt.


03.35 p.m.
Evidence room
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.

Skinner stood there in front of a door he very rarely went through, staring ahead of himself for a moment, deep in thought. What he was about to do, on the insistence of Scully, was highly irregular and definitely illegal. He didn't like it, but he had seen her point. It was a necessary evil they had to go through if they wanted Mulder to survive this latest clash.

He grabbed the door knob and opened the door, stepping through to the corridor and the office beyond. The caretaker of the evidence room looked up, a little startled at first to see Skinner here. "Sir, good afternoon," he said, getting up from behind his desk and approached the office window.

"Winston," Skinner replied with a nod. "I need to take a look at the evidence from our latest bust. Somebody told me there might be more than a pound of that Crystalstar-stuff missing."

Winston Frank was an elderly man. He had known Skinner for a long time and he knew something was up when the assistant director himself came to check something like that. "Inside-job?" he asked and Skinner nodded absentmindedly. "Not good, that," he went on and dug out the paperwork. "According to this there should be nine pounds. It was weighed and tagged by ... " he ran a finger over the list "...agent Coltrane."

"That's what I figured," Skinner said, nodding solemnly. "Give me a minute to check it out. Do you have a scale?"

Winston handed over a scale, not at all happy about the possibility that his paperwork could be wrong. He didn't like that one bit. "Want some help?"

"No, I've got it," Skinner said and continued down the corridor to the evidence room.


03.50 p.m.

Winston looked up again when Skinner returned fifteen minutes later and handed over the scale. "Just as I thought. You've got eight and a half pounds of that stuff in there. Not nine. Correct it in your file, Winston. I'll take care of Coltrane."

Skinner's expression was tense, angry, and Winston couldn't blame him. "Sure thing, sir," he replied.

"And not a word of this to anybody, you hear? I want to know if this was a mistake first. I don't want a lot of false accusations floating around here. We've got enough of that as it is." With those words, he strode back out, giving Winton no chance to ask for a signature.

Winston felt a little flustered at the whole thing, not certain he would be able to explain this to anybody, but then again, usually he had to explain himself to Skinner when somebody tried to pull a fast one on him. And he found it highly unlikely that assistant director Skinner would have done anything illegal. Content in his opinion of the other man, Winston returned to his desk and his newspaper. There was no sense in getting all worked up about nothing.


05.30 p.m.
North-West Georgetown

Scully looked up when Skinner stepped into the room. Mulder was out cold. He had been out cold for a few hours now, heavily sedated to give him a little peace. Skinner waved her over and when she reached him, he pressed a package into her hand. "Do whatever you think you have to do, Scully. But let it be noted that I'm not happy about this," he told her quietly.

"Neither am I, sir, but I don't see any other option right now. I wish there was another way to do it. But if he keeps on hurting like this, he'll die," she replied.

Staring tensely at her, he tried to estimate the result of all this and found that he couldn't. "I hope you know what you're doing, Scully. This goes against everything I believe in. I've been on drugs. It was fun at first, but it quickly became a living hell. As soon as he's out of the woods, Scully, I want him admitted into a detox‑program. And I don't care how much he dislikes the idea."

Scully nodded. "I don't think he'll put up a fight there. Mulder's view on drugs is the same as yours. He'll go willingly," she assured him.

Skinner glanced over at Mulder and thought his own somber thoughts on that subject. He knew from experience how much a person could change under the influence of mind-altering drugs. And as far as he could assess, Crystalstar still had a lot of side effects that were undocumented. "Let's hope so," he said. "I'm going back to the office. Call me if there's any change."