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The Vault

Chapter Seven


It was warm and she could hear water running.

Scully opened her eyes in caution, her vision blurred from sleep as she took in her surroundings. She was safe. The hotel room was slowly filling with the light of dawn and the water she heard was coming from the bathroom.

It was then that she remembered the previous night. The nightmare; Mulder staying the night; keeping vigil by her side. It began to register that she was alone in bed and the running water, the shower, was Mulder.


She swung her legs over the side of the bed, stretching her back before standing. The water shut off and Scully heard the shower curtain rings slide against the metal pole. The door cracked open, but no one came out. Taking a deep breath, Scully walked to the entrance, knocking on the doorjamb for permission.

"Yeah," Mulder said.

Scully pushed the door fully open, revealing Mulder shirtless and in jeans. The mirror was fogged, but he shaved in front of it anyway. A white beard of shaving cream covered his chin, freshly applied. He was inching the razor along his jaw-line when he looked her way.

"‘Morning Sunshine," he greeted.

She stepped into the bathroom, leaning her backside against the faux-marble porcelain counter. "Good morning," she said, watching him intently as he performed his morning ritual.

"How long have you been up?" Scully asked.

Mulder tapped the razor on the side of the sink, flinging some cream in the bowl. "About an hour. I hope you don’t mind I used your shower. I, uh, grabbed some stuff from my room but decided it would be best I stay close by until you woke up."

"Thank you."

He stopped then, turning his attention to her, his eyes softening. "You’re welcome," he replied, then added, "but I do believe the pleasure was all mine. It’s not everyday I wake up next to a beautiful woman, Scully. Especially you."

If she didn’t know any better, she’d think he was trying to tell her something. Unfortunately the dollop of shaving cream on his nose ruined the moment, followed by a stifled chuckle from her throat.

His face contorted into a befuddled expression and she felt guilty for the outburst.

"Mulder, you–you have. . ." she pointed at her nose.

The gesture only caused him to tilt his head to the side, taking on the appearance of a confused puppy, trying to figure out what she was saying. She rolled her eyes and took a step toward him, grabbing a washcloth from beside the sink.

"Here," she spoke before sweeping the cloth over the tip of his nose, taking the distraction away. Mulder’s bunched eyebrows changed into raised ones, a sheepish look taking over his face.


They locked eyes for a moment, but Mulder broke the contact to continue shaving; Scully leaning against the counter again. Mulder finished his shave, rinsing the razor and the sink before leaving the bathroom, Scully following behind.

Scully stood by the table as he slipped on a shirt. She turned away once she felt color and heat rising in her cheeks.

This morning felt odd. Different. It felt like . . . It felt normal. Waking up to find Mulder shaving in the bathroom, naked from the waist up, standing beside him, still only in her robe, carefully watching his morning ministrations.

It was domestic and it felt . . . right.

Her eyes drifted to the papers scattered on the table, obviously Mulder’s doing. She spotted the funeral photos and began to pick through them.

"I thought I’d get a head start today, go over everything to see if we missed anything. I’d only just started when the idea of a shower hit me. I plan to spend all day finding this guy, Scully. *I* won’t sleep until we do."

The determination in his eyes was not lost on Scully. It was comforting and frightening all at once. She bobbed her head before looking down at the files and pictures. Scooting them around with a finger, an image caught her eye in one photo. Picking it up, she walked to the window, using the sunlight to take a closer look at the picture.

"I’m tired of retracing steps," she heard Mulder saying. "I wish I could get in this guy’s head, but it’s hard to do that when *his* MO is getting into people’s heads. He’s passionate, but up until what you told me, I thought, like you, that they were mercy killings. Now I’m not so sure . . ."

Scully felt her breath hitch at the familiar face she saw, sitting in the back row, almost covered by another funeral attendee. The head was bowed, so it was hard to decipher at first glance who it was. Careful studying left no doubt in Scully’s mind.

"Jacob," she whispered.

Mulder stopped moving around, having heard her quiet discovery. "What?" he asked, stepping over to stand beside her.

"It’s Jacob, Mulder." Scully handed him the picture and began to search the rest of the evidence. She came back to the window, three more photos in hand.

"Here," she choked, pointing to someone standing by a tree. "And here." A man secluding himself from a circle of mourners. "And here . . ." A shadow, his head bowed as the casket was shown being lowered.

"I knew I recognized him," she barely spoke.


She sunk to the bed, placing the evidence next to her hip. Folding her hands in her lap, she began to fiddle with her nails. The added weight of Mulder sitting beside her didn’t even make her flinch.

Large hands enveloped her smaller ones, a thumb stroking the back of her hand.

"I’m going to get a warrant," Mulder said, calmly. She could tell he was sheathing his anger as best as he could. To anyone else he would have pulled it off.

"Let me get dressed." Scully began to stand, but a hand on her elbow stopped her, pulling her back down.

"No. You’re not coming."

Scully’s head shot up, piercing him with her eyes. "Mulder . . ." she said in warning.

"I don’t want him getting in your head any more than he already has, Scully. Trisha, Gavin and I will take him into custody, get what we need out of him and then I’ll come back for you. We’ll see what happens after that, okay? Please, Scully. Do this one thing for me."

Her eyes didn’t leave his face as she considered the request.

"I’ll be your best friend," he added in a sing-song voice, the hint of a smile playing at his lips.

"Damn it, Mulder," Scully hissed, humor hidden in the feigned reprimand. "Under one condition."

"Name it."

"You call me when you catch this son of a bitch."

Mulder’s smile grew to a full-fledged grin. He placed a kiss on her forehead before agreeing, "You got it, partner."

Squeezing her hands, he stood up and grabbed his key card. "I’ll call Gavin and Trisha and tell them we have substantial evidence then head down to the station. Give me an hour."

"All right." Despite her acquiesce, she hated the idea of being the one left behind. Her pride was kicking her and the defeat of the situation was audible in her voice.

"I know you hate this. You’re the strongest person and the best agent I know, Scully. Don’t let this make you think otherwise. It’s just my number one priority to keep you safe, as an agent and as your friend."

It was the truth. It was the job of an agent or any law enforcement officer to make sure citizens stayed safe. That possible victims be kept under protection. But she knew Mulder was taking this much more personal than that and it both touched and frustrated her.

She gave a nod and he opened the door, leaving without a word.

Scully unleashed a heavy sigh before walking up to the dresser and pulling out clothes for the day. She pulled a suit from the makeshift closet, just in case they needed her.


Jacob worked the evening shift most nights, so Mulder took it into his hands to find out where he lived. Despite a traffic jam, Mulder was able to bring Jacob to the station within the hour he promised Scully.

Mulder called Scully, catching her as she was heading down to the breakfast offered in the hotel lobby. He told her that, until they knew more through questioning, he wanted her to stay put. The frustrated sigh she elicited only made Mulder smile.

Now it was Jacob and Mulder, tucked away in the interrogation room. Gavin and Trisha left Mulder to ask the questions, hiding behind the double mirror in case he needed them.

Jacob looked petrified. He’d been surprisingly cooperative when Mulder had shown up to take him in and Mulder wasn’t sure what to think.

"You’ve got twenty seconds to tell me what the hell is going on." Mulder knew that probably wasn’t the most professional way to go about the interrogation, but, quite frankly, he was pissed.

Jacob stared at him a long moment, seemingly waiting for the agent to cue him on what exactly he was supposed to be telling. Mulder pushed the folder containing the funeral photos in front of his prime suspect, flipping it open to reveal a black and white picture of Jacob standing by a tree, circled in red marker.

"Look familiar, Mr. Hines?"

The Adam’s Apple that bobbed in a noticeable gulp in Jacob’s throat almost made Mulder laugh. Mulder finally took a seat, making an effort to be at eye level with Jacob.

"I’m all ears," Mulder said, his voice low and menacing.


Scully couldn’t remember the last time she’d had good coffee. In spite of the somewhat rundown accommodations of the hotel, they served a surprisingly nice breakfast. It consisted of the basics: bagels, fruit, yogurt, dry cereal, but it was more than most places she and Mulder stayed at offered. She took another sip of the tan liquid and enjoyed the river of warmth that flowed down her throat.

The rumble of her stomach advised her to take a look at the food. In the process of standing she caught something out of the corner of her eye, but a double-take showed the figure was gone. Brushing off the paranoia, Scully walked away from the table, turned the corner and approached the food bar. Careful selection provided her with a bagel, blueberry cream cheese and strawberry yogurt.

Back at the table, Scully nibbled at her bagel, the cream cheese spread thick and blue over the plain bread. When she finished, she took a sip of her coffee. It tasted bitter. She blamed the taste on the mixture of blueberry with the strong substance. Moments later, Scully decided to take the yogurt back up to her room.


"I know what you’re thinking," Jacob quivered.

"Do you now? Enlighten me." Mulder lounged back in his chair, feigning interest.

"You think I did it."

"They don’t pay you enough, Jake. That’s spot on." Leaning forward again, Mulder squinted at the shaking man in front of him. "What am I thinking now?"

"I’m not sure I want to know," Jacob answered, honestly.

"Smart move." Mulder pushed the folder even closer to Jacob, forcing him to look at the picture again. "I want answers, Hines."

"I didn’t do it"

"Then why do these pictures suggest otherwise? What were you doing at that funeral? It’s obvious you wanted to attend without being noticed, so I’d like to know why."

"I was there because of Amanda."

Mulder fought the urge to unleash a juvenile "no, duh" at Jacob’s reply. Instead he raised his eyebrows, stating with the gesture that a better reason better be in the works.

"Amanda, she . . ." The chestnut-haired man sighed, his shoulder’s collapsing in defeat. "She and I were involved, Agent Mulder."

If at all possible, Mulder’s eyebrows shot up even higher. He could almost hear Gavin and Trisha’s doing the same.

"We kept it quiet because of the age difference. It’s frowned upon by most parents when their daughter starts seeing a man ten years older than her, not to mention it’s against company policy." Jacob began to fidget with his hands.

"Then if it wasn’t you, Jacob, who did it?"


"Who are you covering for? I need to know." Mulder’s tone softened, but he remained authoritative.

"I can’t tell you," Jacob whispered.


Scully busied herself as well as she could. She flipped through every channel, three times, but when nothing of interest to her seemed to be on, she gave up. She almost opted to call Mulder, see what the status was, but after much reluctance decided against the idea.

And she was getting sleepy.

Her head was fuzzy and her body felt almost weightless. Refusing to succumb to the drowsiness, she dug out the suspect file and began to read through it. She couldn’t help but mow over the fact that it had been a bad move to look over questioning Jacob, just because Luke had been their prime suspect at the time. Scully glanced over what little she’d scribbled down on Jacob.


A sacred bond.

A *sacred bond*.

Scully propped a pillow behind her back and tried to dissect what she could about Jacob.

Her body began to go from weightless to very heavy, moving from her feet and inching up her body. It wasn’t long before the heaviness reached her eyes.

Sacred bond . . .


"Look, Jacob, you’re only hurting yourself. Each second you stay silent, we add another year for being an accomplice to a serial murderer. It’s that simple." Mulder leaned against the wall, staying as calm as his nerves would allow. The hairs on his neck were standing straight up, which only meant one thing: Something wasn’t right.

Jacob sat at the table with his head resting in his hands. Every now and then he would rub his palms over his head, as if fending off a headache.

Finally, Jacob looked up at Mulder. Tears were brimming the bottom of his eyes. He looked as though he were in physical anguish over this interrogation. Mulder almost felt guilty.

"I . . ." Jacob started, shakily.

That was the first thing he’d said in ten minutes, which immediately piqued Mulder’s attention. Mulder peeled himself away from the wall and sat back down in front of Jacob. Not one word escaped Mulder’s mouth.

He just waited.


"Isn’t she beautiful?"

The infant was cradled in her mother’s arms, eyes wide and blue as she took in her surroundings of balloons and pink packages. She cooed, the room of women erupting in "awwws".

"She looks just like you, Scully," his voice floated over the crowd when he spoke.

Scully searched the room of people for him, finding him standing in the doorway, watching. She walked to him, the tiny baby girl writhing in her arms.


"I’m happy for you." He grinned as he brought his hand up to brush the top of the child’s head.

"I didn’t think it was possible," Scully said. "That she . . . That Emily would be real; not something I could only dream of. She’s so small, Mulder."

He nodded, his attention locking onto her. The whole world faded away. No presents. No banners. No friends. No family. Just Mulder, Emily and her.

Scully turned away from him, gathering her thoughts. "Mulder. Have you ever . . ." she started. A small, nervous laugh snuck past her lips. "Have you ever considered . . . with me, I mean . . ." Why couldn’t she just say it? Shaking her head, Scully turned to look at him again, only to find him gone. Her arms began to feel heavier. She looked down and saw . . .


Three-year-old Emily; tears streaming down her face, her eyes furrowed in pain.

"It hurts, Mommy." Emily’s eyes pleaded. Pleaded for her mother to do something about the pain.

But there was nothing she could do. She was alone, her dying daughter in her arms and there was nothing she could do.

A gust of wind brought her gaze back to the doorway; focusing in time to see him. Shadowed and soul-less he stood there, his black eyes making her stomach churn and her body quake–-in anger and fear. He tilted his head to the side, studying her for a moment. She felt as though he would leap at her from the shadows. The thought made her skin grow cold.

He did nothing.

She took the chance of sneaking a glance at Emily. The girl looked up at her, her eyes growing wide. "Goodbye," the child whispered, and vanished. The pink baby blanket slipped from Scully’s arms, floating to the ground, empty.


Thirty minutes of more silence. Mulder threw his arms in the air and hit his fists against the wooden table.

"Damn it, Hines! This is not some kind of game! There are women dying out there because of this secret you are determined not to share! For chrissakes . . ."

He sighed. "My partner is next in line," Mulder whispered, although he knew Jacob Hines was privy to that fact.

"I know," Jacob confirmed.

The door flew open, Trisha and Gavin in its midst.

"Agent Mulder, what the hell is going on?" Gavin yelled. The fact that he’d bothered to add ‘Agent’ informed Mulder that Gavin was probably about as pissed as he was at the moment. Trisha was holding it in, but her nostrils were flaring.

Mulder stepped away from the table, moving the private conversation with the officers to a far corner. "Gavin, I didn’t want to say anything, mostly because I was pretty sure you wouldn’t believe it."

"Believe what?" Trisha broke in, her voice sinking into a threatening alto tone.

"That I was right. That our killer, whoever the hell he is, uses the sandman as his sidekick in these murders. Dreams, Gavin. Nightmares, if you want to get technical. Scully’s been having them and–-"

"How long have you known?" Gavin asked, half concerned, the other half still livid.

Mulder brushed one of his hands through his hair, sweeping it from his face. He looked to the side at Jacob, who was staring at them. "They’ve been happening since day two," Mulder started, bringing his attention back to Gavin. "She told me last night, at about one in the morning. I didn’t say anything because . . . Because I was hoping I wouldn’t need to."

"Mulder, you can’t do that," Gavin’s tone softened.

Abandoning words, Mulder only gave a nod in agreement, before saying, "I need to get this out of him, Gavin. We can talk about this later. But that son of a bitch is still out there and I want to find out who it is."

"Make him a deal," Trisha chimed. The two men looked over at her, wondering what she meant.

She leaned in closer, separating them from prying ears. Mulder was certain that no matter how close they stood, prying minds were on the prowl.

"Jacob tells us who’s doing this, we let him off. No charge as an accomplice. Nothing. He gets to go home, scot-free. It’s an offer he can’t refuse and if he does, I have more ideas where that came from." Her jaw was set, eyes unblinking and determined.

Trisha and Scully had become good friends in the last week, probably the best girl friends either of them had had in a while. Trisha wasn’t about to lose her friend, just as Mulder wasn’t about to lose his . . . everything.

Mulder spun on one heel, locking eyes with Jacob. The two officers walked out the door, shutting it behind them and more than likely moving back into the ‘hidden’ room to enjoy the show.

"I’ll make you a deal," Mulder began, "you tell me what you know, everything you know, and you get to go home. No charge. It’s that simple."