J. Edgar Hoover Building
FBI Headquarters
Washington D.C.

Special Agent Dana Scully felt woozy watching the floor indicator lights flicker past as the elevator rose. She touched the healing scab at her temple and leaned back against the cool metal wall for support. You're pushing yourself too hard, too fast, she told herself.

"I don't have much choice," she said out loud in the empty elevator.

Mulder had disappeared.

Scully strode into Assistant Director Walter Skinner's outer office. She brushed roughly past Skinner's assistant and through his office door, sending it flying against the interior wall with a crashing thud. Skinner's head flew up from the paperwork before him to see the agent he had been expecting for some time.

"I want an answer sir," she stated with an authority that he'd suspected but never seen in her before as she stalked towards his desk and planted herself there, her hands braced on the edge of his desk. "Do you know where I can find him?"

Skinner looked her with a neutral expression on his face. He assumed that she thought he was clueless to what she wanted, but the truth was that he knew *exactly* what she was talking about. He had already taken steps to locate Fox Mulder and ascertain his "status", but he didn't think Scully quite knew what was truly involved in her request.

"Agent Scully," Skinner began, unsure of how he was going to say this. As it was, he wasn't sure he should even suggest it to her.

"I'm willing to pay whatever price is necessary to get him back," she explained with finality.

At that, he had to question his decision and his motives. What he was thinking of doing was. . . dangerous to say the least, but he knew Scully wouldn't give up looking for Mulder. It was either bring her in or risk her crossing paths with him later on, and that could become messy. Yet he didn't think that she knew what she was asking for with her request. What the price could *really* be.

"I believe I have a way to get Agent Mulder back," Skinner stated simply, watching her reactions closely.

Scully stepped back. Skinner could see her stand down offensively. Yet her fury seemed more than ready to fly again. She planned to gauge his words carefully lest he lie to her. She anxiously waited for him to tell her what that way was, and as the silence deepened, she started to open her mouth to ask the question in her head. He stopped her before the words had formed on her tongue.

"But I can't give you any details as of yet. Trust me, I will be in touch with you before the end of the day with what I know. And what you'll have to be willing to do to help Mulder."

Scully let his words weigh in her mind. There was part of her that didn't trust him, but she needed to believe that their boss, who'd come to their aid in the past, was privy to information that could lead her to Mulder.

Finally, she took the hope he was offering.

"Fine. I'll be in the basement office then. Waiting on your call," she remarked, heading for the door. Before exiting, she turned back and stared at the man behind the heavy wood desk. "But I won't wait on you or your plan forever."

Then she was gone.

As Scully made her way back to the basement office, her mind repeated the events that had led her to this decision. This pathway to certain termination from the Bureau and her sanity's slow erosion.

Mulder had disappeared.

Not like he usually did. No, not his routine 'Ditch Scully because it's dangerous and could get her fired' kind of disappearance. Not even an 'Alien Abduction', as he so often supported. No, this was more serious. Infinitely so. He'd been taken off the street. In broad daylight and in front of her.

They'd been leaving the main entrance to the J. Edgar Hoover building to get some lunch when the black sedan had driven up and the doors had flown open.

The first two men out the back door had grabbed Mulder before she could pull her service weapon. By that time, a third man had appeared from the driver's side, leveling his own gun and making it clear that he was willing to shoot both her and Mulder.

She would have challenged him, chanced it. There wasn't any way in hell that she was just going to stand by and let them take her partner without a fight. She was more than prepared to go down in a hailstorm of bullets to try and save Mulder from the unknown fate that lay within the doors to that car.

Except that the decision was taken out of her hands.

He had refused to let her try and save him.

As she opened the door to their office, she found her mind flashing back to the event.

"Scully, *don't*!" Mulder cried insistently as two black clad men pulled him toward the back door of the sedan.

The surprise and anger in his eyes was replaced with fear in a heartbeat as she unwillingly lifted her arms, letting her gun swing lifelessly around her finger, coming to rest upside down to show the men that she wasn't a threat to them. That she was complying.

It wasn't until she broke her eye contact with Mulder that she realized that they weren't about to keep up their end of the unspoken bargain as the man with the gun took careful aim at her head and fired.

A split second later she felt the bullet strike her, and then through a fog of pain and blood she heard Mulder screaming her name as she twisted with the impact and crashed into the pavement.//

From there, everything had gone black.

The next thing she recalled was being surrounded by a group of Bureau agents and A.D. Skinner. Once she was alert enough, she tried to make it clear to them that Mulder was gone, that they needed to find the sedan and get him back, but she'd lost consciousness again. She woke up in the hospital, a minor wound at her temple taped up, and a throbbing headache from the gun shot and her meeting with the cement that could only have been a mild concussion.

That had been nearly five days ago.

Since then, there had been no word, no sign of Mulder or the men in the sedan. Every agent in the Bureau had been alerted to Mulder's kidnapping and an investigation had been opened. But it was as if he'd just vanished off the face of the planet.

Skinner had insisted each time she had called from her apartment while on her forced medical leave that everything that could be done within the legal system was being done.

Except for Dana Scully, that just wasn't enough. She owed Mulder more than this. Just waiting around for some word of his whereabouts. Or for his body to show up tossed onto the front steps of the Hoover building.

He had gone with them to protect her, and the understanding that she now had chilled her blood in her veins. She knew that she had to take matters into her own hands. If she had to, she'd make a deal with the devil himself to get him back. Because she knew he would do the same for her.

So now, as she unlocked the door to *their* office, she prepared herself to wait for Skinner's call. To continue to feel her hope slip further and further away from her. In its place desperation was taking hold. And so was the need for retribution.

In his office, Walter Skinner sat and questioned his position. There was nothing in the Assistant Director job description that authorized, let alone condoned what he was thinking of. The fact that he wanted to take one of his agents into. . .

He shook his head and reached to pinch the bridge of his nose where his glasses rested. God, his head hurt him. There were days that he was reminded that he wasn't a young, gung-ho Marine anymore, or even a middle-aged agent. He missed them. Well, maybe not all of them.

His finger snaked over to the phone and jabbed the button to the intercom.

"Kimberly, could you verify that the Federal Express package I sent to New Jersey arrived?"

There was rustling of paper and then his assistant's voice came over the line.

"Yes sir. It arrived three days ago."

He frowned. Three days should have been enough to either hear back or be shot. Yet neither had happened. . .

"Have we received any packages or letters today?"

There was more rustling through heavier sounding papers and hard sounds.

"Well, there's a letter envelope here that arrived this morning. But it came from Yonkers, rather than Jersey City," she informed him.

Of course, he thought. They wouldn't send it from the address he had. Hell, he wasn't even sure that the address was the right one anymore. But the fact that there was some kind of reply seemed to bolster his position. Now he just had to see if they were willing to talk.

"Could you bring it in here please?"

A few moments later the door opened, and Kimberly walked in, placed the envelope on his desk and exited again.

Once the door was shut, he reached for the envelope. In a minute he had the outer container open, and inside he found a sealed letter size envelope, with his name printed on it.

Ripping open the envelope, he quickly withdrew the one page piece of stationary. No blood, he thought as he unfolded the ivory sheet. He scanned it for a moment. Then read it. And read it again.

So, Anthony was willing to help him. For the price that only Skinner could pay him. He was surprised that his resources hadn't found his father for him before now. But then, that was the point of putting Carmine where he was. Nice and comfy and thousands of miles from his 'Family'.

"Kimberly. Would you please call American Airlines and get two one-way tickets to Newark International Airport from National leaving around 8pm tonight in my name and Agent Scully's. And I want them expensed to my American Express card, not my corporate account. Let me know what the exact time of the flight is when you have the confirmation and have them messenger the tickets to my apartment before 5pm."

"Yes sir."

With that, Skinner pressed down on the plunger, released it quickly and dialed the extension for the basement office phone at Mulder's desk. He knew that she'd be sitting there. It rang once before it was picked up and he heard her standard greeting.

"Agent Scully. I have the information I've been waiting on. It will require us doing some traveling. If you're still willing to do this, I'll be at your apartment at 6pm tonight."

There was silence for a moment, then her calm voice replied over the line.

"Alright sir. I'll expect you then."

"And one more thing, Scully."

"Yes sir?"

"Don't dress like a Fed."

With that, Skinner hung up the receiver and sat back to wait for his past and his future to converge.

Unknown location
Somewhere in the U.S.

Through the darkness, the sound of pounding still rang through the building.

Mulder had been pounding on the door of the closet-like cell since he'd woken up. He'd checked his watch and come to learn that he'd lost three days somewhere before he'd woken up here. And since he'd begun pounding, he figured another six hours had passed, with no one coming to investigate the noise he was making.

He could hear machinery and horns occasionally, while the clack of train tracks was easily heard through the walls that parted him from the outside world. But not much else. He had no idea of where the hell it was he was at, if anyone was coming to get him, or if they had just dumped him here to rot.

The only things he did know was that he was in deep shit, and that he still needed to know what had happened to Scully.

With that thought, he gave one more half-hearted slam to the door with his fist, producing a dull thud that reverberated through his hand and into his soul. He stepped back to fall down on his ass onto the dirty mattress they'd crammed into the limited space. It was at best a six by six room with poor lighting and ventilation. He wasn't looking forward to using the toilet mounted on the wall, considering those facts. As he sat on the lumpy, smelly mattress, he found himself replaying the incident that had led him here, the scene burning a hole into his mind and tearing at his chest.

He had thought he knew what he was doing. That he was saving Scully by sacrificing his chance to escape. Yet he had watched in horror as the third goon in the black suit had pulled the trigger on his gun, firing at Scully.

She hadn't had a chance, what with her own gun dangling loosely off her finger. The fact that he'd insisted she drop her weapon ate at him. He'd thought that they'd leave her be, take him and go. Instead they'd shot her anyway, and he was to blame for it all.

He'd screamed her name as she twisted with the impact and crashed to the ground. The sound of the gunshot and his screaming voice still haunted him, filling his thoughts. As it was, the scene continued to play out in slow motion in his head: her hair flying and her gun dropping from her hand as she went to the pavement, blood starting to spill on the concrete; his body struggling against the strong arms pulling him into the car as he called out to his partner.

Inside the car, he'd heard the door slam shut and he'd started to fight back in earnest, his adrenaline racing. He was determined that he was going to escape and get back to Scully's side. Finally they'd smashed his head into the metal of the door frame, dazing him. After that, he'd felt the shove of a hypodermic needle in his arm and the world had gone dark.

He'd woken up, days later in this locked room. There was no way to know where he was, let alone who had him and if there was a way out.

Suddenly the door flew open and two armed men stood there, weapons pointed at him. A third tossed inside the cell door a plastic cooler. Warily he started to get up, and they abruptly slammed the door shut before he could even get a word out or make a foolish rush for them.

The armed guards who had just delivered his food to him were the first people he'd seen since he'd been shoved in the car. As he made his way to the door, he wondered when he'd be getting some answers. Bending down, he picked up the cooler and opened it, revealing food - a half dozen bottles of water, some sandwiches, granola bars, and dried fruit. The fact that they were feeding him at least that meant they planned on keeping him alive. For the moment.

Now it was just a matter of time. To wait and find out just why he was there, and what was going to happen. To wait and hopefully find out what had happened to Scully. To wait and see if he was even going to get out of wherever he was alive.

And he didn't like waiting.

Scully's apartment building
3170 W. 53 Rd.
Annapolis, VA

As he walked down the brightly lit hallway of Scully's suburban apartment building, Walter Skinner found himself questioning his life and how he'd gotten where he was now, ready to come full circle.

Damn, thought Skinner, I thought that this was buried in the past, never to resurface. Somehow though, he had always known that he'd have to deal with his early deeds.

The old Marine that walked down the hallway towards Scully's apartment looked little like and assistant director of the FBI. He was dressed for action in his old "narc" clothes: black turtleneck shirt, blue jeans that he now realized were tighter than he'd thought they were, and a tiger-striped camouflage fatigue jacket from his days in the war.

It seemed appropriate somehow that he was wearing this. It was how he'd started this path, wasn't it? If he hadn't been in the service, gone to 'Nam, he never would have considered the Bureau. With the FBI, he'd found himself mixed up in something that was more involved than even the war had been.

Skinner knocked at Scully's door at 6pm as agreed. He felt a bit silly, decked out like a cat burglar at the end of the work day. But the fact was that he knew that once they got to their destination, he *needed* to be invisible, blend in. The stakes were just too high to just walk into the lion's den dressed as FBI agents, suits and ties to make sure everyone knew they didn't belong.

Finally she arrived, opening the door and peering out at him. As she looked him over, he felt uncomfortable.

"Okay, Huggy-Bear, let's roll," he joked, trying to ease the tension that seems all too palatable as she scrutinized him from the door to the apartment.

Finally she opened it fully, letting him inside. Before him, Agent Scully stood dressed more for a picnic rather than for covert ops.

"Is something wrong?" Scully asked.

"I'd hoped you would have dressed a little more. . . " Skinner hunted for the words. "A little more street."

"'Street'?"

Somewhere in the back of his mind he realized that he hadn't mentioned where exactly they were going. Skinner couldn't help but have a moment of doubt about his decision. Was he right in bringing her along? Shaking his head slightly, he reminded himself that he didn't really have a choice. He could either take her with him, or she'd find some other, possibly more dangerous way to find Mulder. Although he was hard pressed to come up with one at the moment.

"Scully, you're going to need something a little less. . . conspicuous. Maybe some of your off-duty clothes?"

"These are my off-duty clothes."

Skinner sighed, and said, "Don't you have anything darker? Maybe in leather?"

Her eyebrow raised at that, giving him a feeling of uneasiness, until she looked down and realized she did look like a yuppie.

"Sorry. Let me go change and repack."

Leaving the room, she heard Skinner shut the front door as she made her way to the bedroom.

Standing in front of her closet and looking in, Dana Scully viewed a wall of matched suits and blouses, ready for a day at the FBI. As she looked at them, she thought about Skinner in her living room, decked out for a undercover assignment, and she realized that she really didn't own any ass-kicking clothes.

She was certain that Mulder's closet was filled with them. From the Armani suits that could make him look like a gangster to the dark turtlenecks and jeans to go with that black leather jacket of his that made him look tough and no-nonsense.

And then there was Skinner again, dressed for combat. . .

The fact that he was there, helping her and Mulder had taken her by surprise. Why he was doing this she still didn't have a clue. Her reasons were obvious. Her partner was out there, and she knew that if it was her, he wouldn't give up. How could she look herself in the mirror every morning if she didn't do everything she could to get him back?

Sorting through what she owned, she pulled out several sets of items that she figured would be ok. Her "off duty" clothes, as Skinner had so eloquently put it, as well as one black suit that she thought might come in handy if she had to look "official" for anything. She dumped out her bag and repacked, stuffing in the new clothes and replacing her necessary gear. Then she redressed in the less conspicuous clothes from her closet.

Stopping at the closed door, she reached up and hauled down her black trenchcoat from the hook there. It was a necessity. The fact that it was black and could conceal her gun was a big plus. And, if she needed to, she could discard it with a minimum of fuss. Throwing it over her shoulder, she opened the door into the living room.

Hauling the plain brown shoulder tote out with her, she stood there so Skinner could look her over and hopefully give his approval of the blue jeans that were almost the same color as his and a white turtleneck. Scully had thrown over the shirt her brother Bill's worn brown leather bomber jacket that he'd wanted to toss out. It nearly matched her hiking boots, ones that she'd worn on a trip too many to the forest with Mulder.

She continued to stand there, waiting for his approval like a schoolgirl. Finally he nodded his acceptance. He noted the trenchcoat and her bag and hoped the rest of her clothes were equally as inconspicuous and multi-purpose.

"I hope you don't mind that I drive," he stated without preamble as he turned and headed for her door, opening it and stepping outside as she quickly followed.

With a slight concern, Scully closed and then dead bolted the door, realizing that she wasn't going to be back for a while, and wondering just where she was going to end up. They made their way downstairs and she followed him to his car. Getting in, she saw his military-style duffle in the back seat.

"We'll be traveling off and on for a while. We've got a couple of places to go before we get to our final destination," he said as he turned over the car engine and started for the Interstate heading to National airport. "Oh, and here's your ticket, in case we get split up."

Scully took the airline ticket Skinner handed to her and looked at it.

National to Newark.

And there wasn't a return ticket to be found.

Unknown location
New York City, NY

The reports from his men sprawled across the business-like desk. They all said the same thing, acknowledging the fact that his orders had been carried out and that the 'subject' was stored away until further notice.

The heavy set Italian man rubbed his thick hands together as he considered just what he was putting into motion, and how it would effect everything.

It was a simple plan really. There had been a point in time when everyone had been out for their own interests, playing the game like it was personal. Not now. Not since he'd subverted the private agenda of the Smoking Man and caused the shake-up within the Organization. He was in the position of power now, and no one was prepared to cross him.

And that left him open to play his own game.

Mulder was part of it. For his many uses to the 'plan', he had gotten tired of the agent's consistent meddling in the affairs of the council. It had been time to make a decision in his future, and there was no one willing or able to counter his orders now.

The daylight kidnapping had been bold, but he wanted Mulder's associates to realize that the time of kid gloves was over.

For everyone to realize that.

Flight 1079
American Airlines
En route to Newark Intl.

The plane ride to New Jersey seemed to take forever. Of course, the fact that Scully had no idea what Skinner's plan was even at this late date in the game gnawed at her frayed nerves.

And there was the well-established fact that she really disliked airline travel, packed like sardines in coach on a small plane that shouldn't even be able to defy the laws of gravity and lift off the tarmac. She had done it hundreds of times on cases, but she still wasn't totally comfortable with flying.

Without conscious thought, her hand wound up pushing down the collar of her turtleneck, then her fingers floated over to hold, then twist her gold cross between her fingers. Somehow it made her feel better. Even without faith in the object grasped between the pads of her fingers, she found some solace in the memory of every time Mulder had held or touched that small piece of metal over the years. He had faith in *her*. And she was going to live up to that faith.

She let go of a breath she didn't know she had been holding, the result was soft sigh that caught Skinner's attention. He looked up from the airline magazine that he'd been reading, although Scully had caught him rereading the same page for the last 10 minutes, and appraised her demeanor through his wire-rimmed glasses.

She gave him a half nod to assure him she was ok. Of course, she knew that he knew better. But it was a small gesture to keep the situation from snowballing into something she didn't want to even consider.

Yet she knew instinctively that whatever lay ahead of them, she was already out of her depth. But on the other hand, she knew that she would do whatever it took to get Mulder back. His survival depended on her ability to get him out of wherever they had him. There was too much at stake for her to give more than everything she had.

So much so that she didn't even want to ponder the real reasons she was willing to go to such lengths for her partner. The man who was more than just that. . .

Continue to Part Two