George Washington National Forest

Old Hannah settled herself heavily back on her chair, her old bones aching from the walk. But she had been forced to show her great-grandson what was real. He didn't look too steady as he sat back down on one chair. A little pale around the gills, she thought, smiling weakly. "As you can see, the demons are real. And one is missing. It is out there. And you must help put it back where it belongs. In one piece. With the necklace around its neck."

Krycek stared at her. "Me? What can I do?" he replied, pretty shook up by what she had shown him. Sure enough, the old wives-tale was nobodies imagination. It was as true as it could get.

"You must help the one who has the power to lure it. The last victim who will not let himself be defeated. The demon will not stop until he is destroyed and you must help him fight it. Your combined efforts will accomplish that."

Frowning, he slowly shook his head, his eyes never leaving her face. "I'm not going near that thing," he finally said.

"You have to," Hannah replied at once, her tone of voice deadly serious. Then she glanced at Anna. "You wouldn't want her to die at its hands, would you?" she added, waving toward her.

Glancing over at Anna, Krycek cursed silently. "That's not fair," he grumbled.

"Nothing is fair in life. You should know that by now," Hannah replied, tapping a long nail against his prosthetic arm. "You have to fight it. It's in your blood. Instinctively, you will know what to do."

For a moment, he contemplated the situation, weighing his obligations, both forced and family. There were certain things which came before the forced ones. Such as helping his family, obeying the elders like Hannah. Sighing, he leaned back on his chair, not at all looking happy about any of it. Heaving a deep breath, he held it for a moment, then nodded. "All right. Family comes first. I'll do it. But... who is this last victim? And where do I find him?"

Hannah smiled, knowing well what his reaction would be when she told him. Instead, she handed him a piece of paper with an address on it. "This is where he lives," she said.

Krycek looked at her for a moment, then glanced down at the address. For a second, time froze. Then he shook his head with a contemptuous snort. "No way. There is no way in Hell that I'm going to put my life on the line for that man." Looking up again, he met Hannah's unyielding stare.

"You have no choice," she replied. "You must help him or we will all perish."

Shaking his head again, he got up. "He won't want my help," he snapped, not at Hannah but just in general. "He'd rather kill me than wait for me to tell him what I've got to say. If I have to contact him, I'll die. He'll see to that."

Smiling secretly, Hannah watched him as he paced over to the window to glance out at the forest. "All you have to do is show up at the right time. Save his life. He will be grateful."

Krycek turned around to stare at her, his feelings doing battle inside him. His obligations to Hannah as the oldest living member of his family put him in a position where he could not readily turn her down without severing the bonds to his family. And he would not do that even if his life depended on it. His family was all he had and he would be damned if he would do anything more to disappoint them. "Against my better judgement, Hannah... okay. I'll do it."

Hannah smiled more openly, nodding her head. She knew things and she could see things. His future would be bright if he would only plot a straighter course. He was a smart boy, her great-grandson. Eventually, he would see the truth about himself and those around him and act on it. She herself knew that her end was drawing nearer, but she didn't mind. She had lived a long and prosperous life and was beginning to long for the long sleep where her bones would no longer ache and her hands no longer shake so badly in the morning. Yes, it would be good to rest. She felt she deserved it.

X X X

FBI training center

Scully stepped out of the shower, drying her hair, humming the same song that Mulder had given throat to while heading for the locker rooms. But the music stuck in her throat at the sounds coming from the pool area. Stopping short, she stared at the door leading out there. Eerie sounds echoed around the pool, resembling nothing she had heard before. Frowning, she walked up to the door and pushed it open. What she saw made her stop breathing for a moment. Something she could only say was a demon straight from hell was hovering over the surface of the pool, powerful wings flapping in the air to keep it steady. As she watched, her partner surfaced, pulled in a mouthful of air and disappeared beneath the surface again as the demon screeched angrily, gracing the top of the water and shying back. It spat out terrifying sounds. Scully watched the scene with a kind of odd detachment for a moment, then quietly let the door slide shut again. On decidedly shaky legs, she ran over to her locker, opened it and pulled out her gun. Checking that the clip was in, she briskly walked back to the door, not once considering that she was only wearing a towel. She shouldered the door open and stepped back out onto the tiled floor. Her aim wavered a little as she walked forward, her full view blocked by the diving boards. She slipped around them, getting a clear aim out over the water. The dark creature hung in the air, leathery wings flapping steadily, keeping it a few inches above the surface. Her memory instantly kicked Mulder's words in her face. 'I emptied a whole clip into it and it didn't stop it.'Closing her eyes for the briefest instance, she thought of other solutions. If she couldn't shoot the thing, she would have to improvise. Lowering the gun, she looked around the pool area. Then her eyes fixed on something she thought might be useful. Mainly because she had noticed that the demon wasn't diving into the water after her partner, who re-surfaced for a second again, barely avoiding the creature's instant attack. But it never touched the water. Either it didn't like getting wet or, and this was her sincere hope, it couldn't stand the chlorine in the water.

Making certain she made as little noise as possible, she skittered toward the hose rolled up on the wall, which was probably used for hosing down the area when it was cleaned, and grabbed the nozzle with one hand while opening the faucet with the other. The handle on the nozzle would allow her to control the water flow. She just hoped that it was chlorine water coming out of the hose. Positioning herself, she dropped the gun. The rather loud sound of the gun hitting the floor brought the demon's attention to her. It swirled around in mid-air, staring hatefully at her. At the same instance, Mulder once again resurfaced, showing definite signs of fatigue. His presence was enough to distract the demon from Scully as it turned around and raced toward him. Scully let out a shout, which again brought it to a stop in mid-air. It looked back at her, then at the hose she was holding, and rose higher up. Scully raised the nozzle, following it, and twisted the handle. Water roared out of the hose, almost knocking her backward, but she had braced herself for the impact and only wavered a little. The beam of water hit the demon in the chest, driving it back across the pool area and against the slick wall on the other side. Twisting the handle open all the way, Scully ground her teeth while fighting to control the powerful kick of the hose.

Mulder, who had surfaced near the edge, was holding onto it, surprised to see his petite partner fighting the demon in the most inspired way. He hauled himself out of the pool and ran on shaky legs over to join her, to add his strength to hers. She was soaked from the water spattering her from the leaky nozzle, but she held on with a determination that made him marvel her more than ever before.

The demon at the other end fought with all its supernatural powers to get away from the water beam, fighting its way up the wall toward the skylight. It screeched and hissed, clawing its way up the tiles. When it reached the edge, it smashed the glass of the skylight and hauled itself up through the opening. The pressure of the water more or less threw it out of the skylight and it vanished in a floury of water and flapping wings.

Mulder, who stood behind Scully, lending her support, was the one to turn the water off again. The following silence was resounding and for a moment, they just stood there, still holding onto the hose, staring up at the shattered skylight. "No moon fazes for that one," Mulder finally said, out of breath.

Scully blinked, not certain how to interpret what she had just witnessed. "Oh God," she whispered after a moment. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you," she added, glancing up at him while grabbing the front of her towel, holding it together. "Jesus, Mulder," she added. "What the hell is that thing?" she added, sounding angry and scared at the same time. "What the hell is it?" There was exasperation as well as anger in her voice.

"I don't know. I think we'd better find someone who can tell us. Otherwise I'm history," Mulder replied in a shaky tone of voice, still staring up at the broken skylight with a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach.

X X X

Half an hour later, the gym and pool area were swarming with special teams, examining the area, searching for clues. Mainly because nobody believed what Mulder and Scully had told them. Scully had changed back into her clothes, but Mulder had bluntly refused to return to the locker room to get his clothes. He didn't need a reminder of what could happen to him. Scully had subsequently been the one to go in and had come out pale. Despite her ability to distance herself from what she was doing when she did a post mortem on a corpse, it was different when the corpse was one of their colleagues. Although they would be hard pressed to identify the man. His face was missing and his jaw was so utterly crushed, that a dental identification would be impossible. Fortunately, his fingerprints were intact and would help in the process.

Mulder was sitting on a bench in the women's locker room, a blanket around his shoulders. Despite everything he had experienced throughout his career, actually seeing a slaying like that had shocked him. The thought of that happening to him and the need to stay underwater longer than he could usually handle had again put him in a state of shock. Scully had been the one to call help and she had also been the one to tell them what had happened. Nobody had ridiculed her. But Mulder feared that it wouldn't take long before her reputation was as bad as his if this kept up.

And then Skinner arrived. After getting a full briefing on what had happened, he turned to his two agents and stared at them for a moment. Fixing his eyes on Mulder, he frowned darkly. "Where is Agent Collins?" he wanted to know.

"I dismissed him for the evening," Scully inserted, not giving Mulder a chance to say something. "I didn't believe there would be any danger." She wasn't half as upset about his impending rebuke than she would have been under normal circumstances. Mainly because she knew for certain that it would have made no difference at all if Collins had been there or not. If she herself hadn't spent five years in Mulder's company, she doubted she would have been able to react properly to the given situation.

Skinner glared at her for a moment, obviously not at all interested in her opinion. "It seems that your judgement in this matter was way off, Agent Scully," he replied, his tone of voice icy. Returning his attention to Mulder, he heaved a deep breath and sighed. His anger at the situation was dampened considerably by the fact that Mulder looked so miserable. "You're in protective custody until we've got this thing cleared up. I don't want any arguments and I don't want any fuzz. One wrong move and you'll be taken there in handcuffs. Do I make myself clear?" he said.

"Yes, sir," Mulder replied hoarsely, not looking up. Compresses covered his knees and his elbows, the wounds still stinging from the hydrogen peroxide the paramedic had used to clean the abrasions with. Apart from that, he was cold like never before, shivering heavily despite the thick blanket, and felt tired enough to drop.

"And you get the pleasure of staying with him, Agent Scully," Skinner added, looking back at her. "You are not making any decisions as to his safety, though. You are not going to be involved in the security detail. All you are there for is to keep him company." He knew he was doing her a favor, giving her the opportunity of keeping an eye on her partner, but despite his anger at the situation, he was glad that Scully had been there. Mulder would probably have found a way out of this situation on his own, but he merely thought so because he didn't dare to think of the opposite.

Scully simply nodded, refraining from making a comment on that. What she had to tell him, she wanted to tell him under four eyes. With an arm wrapped around Mulder, she glanced at her shivering partner. "Can we leave right now? I think Agent Mulder is going into shock, sir," she said. "He needs to lie down."

Skinner nodded and waved two other agents over. "Take them to the safe house on Carol Street. They are not to leave the building until I get there," he said gruffly, then turned and walked away. He was angry. Angry because both of them seemed set on bending the rules at the risk of their own lives.

X X X

The Safe house
Carol Street

Scully picked out a room and installed Mulder in it, shooing him to bed instantly. Despite his obvious fatigue, he was reluctant to do as she said, glancing toward the window at regular intervals. "Scully, stop fuzzing over me," he finally said, pushing her gently away from him.

"No, Mulder. I won't stop fuzzing over you," she replied, grabbed his shoulders and pushed him down on the bed. "I want you to lie down and get some sleep. You should see yourself. You look like Death Incarnate."

With a heavy sigh, he let himself drop down on the bed and stretched out, feeling as if every muscle in his body was about ready to cramp up. "I feel like it, too," he admitted. "But... " he began, but didn't finish. Instead he just looked up at her and one look conveyed all his feelings at once.

Sitting down on the edge of the bed, Scully brushed a hand through his hair. "I know, Mulder. I know," she said. "I know how you hate being cooped up in a house like this, but you'll be safer here. If you can't get out, it can't get in, right?"

"Wrong," he replied, again glancing toward the window. "It smashed through bullet-proofed glass, Scully. A few bars aren't going to hold it back." With that said, he attempted to sit up, but Scully pushed him back down and pulled a blanket over him.

"Stay," she told him. "You're not in any shape to be running around. You need to rest. It's essential that you do."

Looking up at her, he managed a tiny smile. "What do you think my chances are of getting out of this one alive?" he wanted to know.

"Good! You'll be fine," she replied, her tone of voice slightly dismissive. She didn't want to think about that thing, didn't want to remember that she had laid eyes on something so hideous. It had been bad enough when it had been just a statue. It was ten times worse when it came alive. Mainly because it opposed everything she believed.

"I'm not so sure. I have no idea how to deal with this. I have no inkling of how to ward it off when it comes back," he said, sounding depressed. With a groan, he draped one arm over his face. "I always figured this job would kill me. I just never thought it would be like this," he mumbled.

"You are not going to die. I don't care what that thing is," Scully virtually snapped, angry that he obviously thought that his final hour was drawing near. Not that she blamed him for thinking it. Heaving a deep breath, she rubbed a hand over her face, as tired as he was. "Do you need anything? Is there anything I can get you?"

Mulder let his arm slip away and smiled. "Yeah, some clothes and stuff. But that can wait until tomorrow. If you don't mind getting it for me, that is."

"Of course not. That's why I offered it, silly," she replied. "I need some sleep. Badly. And so do you. Now, don't you go wandering around this house after I've fallen asleep. You need your rest. Do you hear me?" she admonished him, knowing full well that she would have to make him promise not to get up again in order to keep him in bed.

"Yes, mommy," he said with a crooked little smile. "Don't worry. I'm too tired for it anyway."

X X X

May 22

The safe house was big and roomy, well protected and secluded. Although Mulder had the run of the house, he couldn't leave it. And knowing that, he felt cooped up. No matter how much space he had around him. Running both hands through his hair, he stopped in front of a bared window and stared up at a darkening sky for a moment. Pursing his lips in annoyance, he resumed his pacing of the premises, striding through the corridors like a restless ghost. Something he thought he might soon become. Glancing at his wristwatch, he noted that Scully, who had promised to pick up some clothes for him, was later than she had said she would be. Maybe she couldn't find everything, he mused and continued his trek. Eventually, he ended up in one of the living rooms. Glancing around, he briefly considered dodging the security and going outside, but he hated to think what Skinner would do to him if he did that. With heartfelt sigh, he dropped down on a high-backed armchair, propped his feet up on the coffee table and switched the tv-set on.

X X X

Mulder's residence
Apartment 42
2630 Hegal Place
Alexandria

Scully had found most of the things her partner had requested. The last thing was something she couldn't figure out what was. Staring down at the list he had made for her, she frowned at the last, scribbled word, biting her lower lip in frustration.

"Damn it, Mulder. What is that supposed to be?" she mumbled. "Mo... mu... me?" she continued, trying to decipher the word.

With a half-hearted growl, she pushed a strand of hair behind one ear and glanced over at the bed and the things she had laid out there. "What's missing?" she asked herself. Clean clothes, a book he was obviously reading, two files he had asked for and his basketball. Whatever he needed the latter for she didn't know. Letting her eyes wander over the room, she tried to figure out what he might need apart from this.

Then it suddenly hit her. The word didn't start with an M. It started with an S. "Sam," she sighed. "Of course. His picture of Samantha."

Glancing around once more, she realized that the picture wasn't in the bedroom. Taking a very brief trip through the rest of his apartment, she couldn't find it anywhere. She ended up back in the bedroom and once again glanced around with a frown. The dresser was really the only place she could think of, so she opened the top drawer and found the picture tugged away under his socks. Pulling it out, she stared at the picture of this girl who filled up her partner's life so completely that he had sense for little else. Not matter how much he might deny it, she was fully aware that his search for Samantha would never end. Not until he found her either alive or dead.

Glancing at her watch, she realized what time it was and sighed. "Oh damn," she mumbled, stuffed the things she had found into a sports bag and hurried out the door, not at any point noting the shadow hovering outside the bedroom window.

Down on the street, she stopped briefly at the curb to look for cars, then hurried across to where her car was parked, in the process completely failing to see the black jeep parked very close to where she crossed the street and the man sitting behind the steering wheel. The jeep pulled out and followed her at a safe distance when she drove away.

X X X

The Safe-house

Scully dropped the bag on the coffee table, her eyes on her partner. He was just sitting there, staring thoughtfully ahead of himself. "I found everything," she announced when he failed to acknowledge her presence. "How are you feeling?"

Glancing up at her, he frowned. "I don't know. Spaced-out," he replied after a moment.

Scully sat down on the edge of the coffee table next to where his feet were resting and eyed him. "Spaced-out?" she asked, sounding dubious.

That brought a smile to his lips. "Yeah," he replied and the smile vanished again. "I can't forget what I saw."

Putting a hand on his right shin, she leaned her head slightly to the right, never taking her eyes of him. "You've suffered a shock again. At this rate, you'll wear yourself out in a year," she replied, trying vaguely to make a joke. "We have to finish this, Mulder. You can't keep doing to yourself."

He heaved a deep breath, aware that she was right, and glanced at the window. What he saw there brought him to his feet in a flurry. The demon was hovering outside the window, staring in at them. "Jesus," he whispered, white as a sheet as he stumbled backward a step or two.

Scully, who was rather startled by this sudden bout of movement, took a second to realize what he was upset about. She looked over her shoulder at the window, but saw nothing there. "What?" she wanted to know, getting up. "What did you see?"

Swallowing, his complexion white, he grabbed the back of the chair, his eyes fixed on the window. "It's here," he almost whispered.

Again, Scully glanced back at the window and saw nothing. "Are you telling me that you're seeing it now?" she wanted to know, starting to feel very concerned about his general state of mind.

"No. It's gone again. I just saw it there for a second." His tone of voice was frantic as he reached out for her, grabbing her left arm in a steel grip. "I can't stay here, Scully."

With her right hand she grabbed his wrist. "It can't get in," she told him. "There are bars on all the windows and all the doors are guarded."

His gaze fixed on her and the surprise was obvious. He was surprised that she would say something like that. "Yeah. Right," he said, his tone of voice sarcastic. "Do you really think that bars and guns are going to stop this thing? I emptied a clip into it and it didn't even slow it down, Scully. If I don't get our of here right now, I'm dead."

"If you leave here now, you are dead. It will kill you the instant you step outside," she replied sternly, aware that he was panicking. Not that she blamed him. But she wanted him near her so she could help him. "Now, where is that bottle of chlorine?" she added, and, holding onto his arm, she started out the door, pulling him along.

Scully found the bottle in his bedroom right next to the head of his bed. For the one moment it had taken her to step inside, grab the bottle and return to the hallway, Mulder had vanished. "Mulder?" she called, briefly listening for a reply. But there was none. Closing her eyes, she heaved a deep breath, then ran for the stairs. He was on his way out. She knew that. If she could do anything to stop him, she would. "MULDER," she yelled, pounding down the stairs. "WHOEVER'S ON DUTY. STOP HIM," she yelled, hoping the guards would have the sense to do what they were told. She heard no response and realized why when she reached the bottom of the stairs. The front door was wide open and there was no sign of anybody around. "God damn it," she hissed through clenched teeth and raced toward the open doorway.

X X X