300 California St.
Tenth floor
San Francisco, CA

The Well Manicured Man strode into the sun drenched office suite and looked around. There were several of the ranking chair holders of the Consortium in attendance, including the man who had gotten them in such trouble in the first place, the First Elder.

"Mulder's associates have continued to look for him since his disappearance. In their efforts to find him, a ghost from the past has been retrieved, putting us all in jeopardy if he goes public with what he knows. This is part of the reason we have never taken direct action against Mulder. Too many people are involved in his well being," the Well Manicured Man informed the men gathered there, as he took his seat at the far end of the table.

At the opposite end, the First Elder glared at his silver haired predecessor. He'd had Mulder snatched as part of his power play within the council. Now, everything was being undermined, and he was certain that his predecessor was behind it. Yet he had no proof, and he was also vulnerable, thanks to Carmine DiMerra's escape.

"Mulder is a threat to this group and our work. I have taken steps to eliminate those who are searching for him, and thus allow us to keep Agent Mulder under our control until we decide what to do with him. Permanently," the First Elder explained, hoping that the board would be satisfied with his management of the situation.

"I think you take Mulder's acquaintances too lightly. Even now, your assassin has been recruited by Agent Scully to help her locate her missing partner."

"I've read Agent Scully's files. She's not a threat," the First Elder said in his dull constant monotone.

The table was silent. While most of the council had not dealt directly with Mulder or Scully, reports of their cases as well as their capabilities were common place within the organization.

At the First Elder's words, the Well Manicured Man tossed a stack of color photos from both the San Quentin cell block and the warehouse onto the table. The glossy pictures of bloody, shot-up bodies scattered across the finely-polished conference table for everyone to see.

"You've obviously underestimated her," the Well Manicured Man stated, his thin lips almost curling into a smile. "And now we may *all* have to suffer because of your error in judgment."

301 California St.
San Francisco, CA

Scully rested her linen clad arm against the high wall of the roof of the building as she peered through the scope.

She was glad now that she had brought her black suit with her on this trip. It had made it easier when she'd flashed her badge for a fraction of a second and bluffed her way through the lobby and onto the roof. Of course, if the security guard had known what she had in the large briefcase, he would have been more attentive to her credentials.

As it was, she now stood, leaning over the high powered rifle, studying the street and the doorway to the building she knew the First Elder was meeting his associates in.

On the street below, directly across from her, Kwan was waiting for them to walk through the doors and for Scully to drop the first of the expected armed retainer/bodyguards. Since he and Skinner knew what the First Elder looked like, and she was the only one of the group that had met the Well Manicured Man, she had been the best choice to take up the sniper position. They would radio in when they saw the First Elder and give her a description, so she could avoid him, and she would know who the Well Manicured Man was by sight, and could avoid shooting him as well. What she needed to do was bring down the bodyguards and give Kwan and Skinner the chance to grab the First Elder.

Of course the fact that she had nearly perfect scores with rifle training when she'd gone through the academy and received a marksmanship note in her files had also weighed in the decision to perch her 20 stories above the ground.

Skinner was sitting in their 'borrowed' car, less than a block away, waiting for it to go down. He had an earpiece like Kwan and Scully that was attached to a radio set up on the same frequency they were all on. Once Kwan had identified their objective, Scully would take out the defenders, Skinner would drive up so Kwan could shove the fat fuck into the back seat, and then they would have their leverage to get Mulder back.

It all rested on her skill and timing. And she wasn't going to screw up what probably was her last shot at getting Mulder back.

Last shot, she thought humorously, as she minutely shifted the rifle sight. Oh, that was bad. Jesus, she was as bad as Mulder was. At that she felt a cold rush through her limbs as the frustration and longing shot through her heart and soul. God, she missed him. She *had* to get him back.

Angry at letting herself get distracted, even for a second as she thought about Mulder, she chastised herself. She had to concentrate on the pavement in front of the building across the street, and be ready for Kwan's call. All she had to do was wait.

And wait.

They waited late into morning, and when the streets started to get busy with the lunch crowd, she saw movement through the scope coming out of the building. At the same second, she heard Kwan's voice break onto the radio.

"Just coming through the door, the man with the black hair in the black pinstripe suit that looks like he ate too much Dim Sum," Kwan said quietly into the mouthpiece that was almost hidden against his face.

She looked through the scope, saw the man Kwan had identified, counted six men, and the Well Manicured Man hanging towards the rear. Four of the six seemed to be guards or foot soldiers. And they would be the first to go.

Scully fired four quick, precise shots which rang out in the busy area, resulting in people screaming and running for cover. She saw Kwan rush past the running, falling bodies and grab the First Elder with one hand, a semi-automatic pistol shoved in the fat man's stomach. Around him, his men lay dead, bleeding onto the pavement.

Dragging the First Elder with him, Kwan got the man to the curb where Skinner and the car had arrived. Scully watched as Kwan swiftly shoved the fat bastard into the car and they sped away.

Hurriedly, Scully broke down the rifle, threw it in the briefcase, and headed to the stairs. She got off on the second to the top floor, and caught an elevator to the underground parking lot. When the elevator doors opened, she quickly looked around for any security that she would have to flash her badge to, but found it empty.

Running up the ramp to the street from the underground parking area, she arrived on the sidewalk just as Skinner was pulling up. She threw the briefcase in the passenger door, and jumped in. As soon as the door closed behind her, Skinner was driving off, away from the chaos behind them.

Laurel Motor Inn, Room 4
Presidio Ave. & California St.
San Francisco, CA

Scully stood in front of the man called the First Elder and frowned. Why the hell would the rest of the Consortium want this guy back?

He writhed in the ropes against the sturdy desk chair. When they'd first sat him down, she'd been afraid it would fall apart under his weight, but it had held. Kwan had blindfolded him as soon as he'd shoved him in the car, and she'd decided to keep it that way, at least when she was in the room with him. She glanced over to where Skinner stood by the window, and then to the door, where Kwan was posted. Anthony and Carmine were on their way. She had to get this fat fuck to give her the information she wanted or make the deal before they got here.

Because Carmine, she reminded herself inwardly as she returned her attention to the man before her, had other plans for the man before her. She figured that he'd want her to take off the blindfold so the First Elder could see who was blowing his brains out as Carmine fired the gun that killed him.

Sigh. She didn't like the idea of having to convince them that their vendetta against this man would have to wait until she had Mulder back. In the short time she'd been dealing with Anthony and his father, they hadn't shown too much in the give-and-take department. Still, if she had to shoot them to keep the First Elder alive until she got Mulder back, she wouldn't hesitate a minute.

"Tell me where Mulder is," she asked, her voice steely in its determination.

"Is that you Agent Scully?" the First Elder asked around his blindfold. "I'm surprised. I wouldn't have thought you capable of taking up with gangsters and assassins. Perhaps we chose to take the wrong person."

The sound of Scully's palm cracking against the First Elder's face startled Skinner from where he was checking out the window for Carmine and his son. At the door, Kwan looked shocked at the violence Scully had just displayed. The First Elder himself seemed slack-jawed as well, until he coughed and then spat out some pinkish saliva.

"Don't fuck with me," Scully nearly snarled. "I know he was alive last night, and I doubt after moving him all these times without killing him, you'd all of a sudden decide to kill him now."

He grimaced, and she knew she'd called his bluff. If they'd wanted Mulder dead, they would have just shot him on the street, like they'd done with her. Of course, they had fucked up, and hadn't killed her. And in doing so, they'd screwed themselves.

"Here's the deal. You have two choices. One, you take me where you're holding Mulder, and after we're away safe, I let you go. Two, you give me a number for your Consortium friends, and I'll tell them I'll make a trade - you for Mulder. What's it going to be?"

The First Elder grumbled. His men should have taken care of her in D.C., he thought. Then there was that backstabbing slope who had broken his agreement to kill Scully and now was helping her. He'd read Agent Scully's files and thought he knew her; she was the skeptic scientist, a by-the-book agent, a medical doctor who was trained to heal. But this woman before him wasn't that person. She was ruthless and determined.

They should have tried to recruit her years ago.

"Fine. Call them and tell them to set up a trade. Me for Mulder," he said with difficulty. There was one last shot he could salvage this, if his men made Swiss cheese out of the bitch and her associates at the exchange, he could keep Mulder and retain his position in the Consortium. the more he thought on it, the more he found himself warming to the idea.

"Give me the number, and we'll call and schedule a time to make the exchange. If you're lucky, you'll be back with the other rats in time for dinner," she spat.

It wasn't more than a few seconds before he started rattling off the number.

Near Spreckles Lake
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
11pm

The fact of the matter was that Scully didn't trust the First Elder farther than she could throw him, and after seeing how large he was, she doubted she could even lift his toes off the ground. But the deal was a necessity. It was the only way they would hand over Mulder, and she wasn't about to argue over semantics with them when they'd chosen this place and time for the trade.

Besides, she still had a few aces up her sleeve. Including Kwan.

It seemed sometimes that he reminded her of Mulder, and then at other times, he was exactly the opposite. If the idea of liking him hadn't been forced because of the circumstances, she didn't think they would have had much in common. Or perhaps too much.

Except again, it didn't matter. Her one goal was to get Mulder back.

Over the course of the last week and a half, she'd been forced to think a lot about her partner and her relationship with him. How the 'thing' they had was more than just work related. She was willing to lose her job in order to rescue him, and had uncovered a dark side of herself that seemed to thrive in this kind of situation.

She'd found *it* didn't scare her anymore.

Nothing seemed to scare her. Except for the idea of never seeing Mulder again. Of having to live the rest of her life with the ache in her chest that had grown exponentially since his capture, and her realization of how her feelings for him has grown.

Looking across the shadowed and foggy expanse of the park, Scully squinted, searching for a glimpse of headlights. It was almost 11:05pm and the other party should have arrived by now.

There was a sudden flash of light from probably fifty feet out, in dense shrubs or small trees. The light landed on where she stood, just barely in view, her black trenchcoat moving in the slight breeze.

Scully glanced next to her where Kwan stood. He'd argued with her the whole way from the hotel to the park, insisting that he stay by her side. He'd even said he felt guilty enough about his role in the plot to kill her, and since he'd found out how badly she wanted her partner back, understood what she'd done in pursuit of him, he couldn't let her out of his sight and out of his protection.

It was like arguing with Mulder, she'd thought, and when she'd continued to deny him, he'd only become more pleading, and turned to Skinner for support. Once she'd been ganged up on, she reluctantly accepted the situation. The most important thing, she reminded herself over and over again as they had driven here and waited, was getting Mulder back. If she had to have a babysitter with her at all times, she'd put up with it. For the moment.

Anthony flashed the lights of their car from behind her. For a minute or two, the park was almost pitch black. Then several sets of car headlights all turned on, aimed their way. Quickly, Anthony and Reggie flipped on theirs, trying to even out the odds.

Through the near-blinding white beams, a man started to head towards them, his trenchcoat making waves in the light as he moved. Scully realized that the time had come, and stepped out into the open, walking to meet the Consortium goon in the middle of the field. When they were a few feet from each other, Scully stopped, and watched the man do the same. Warily, she studied him, trying to tell if she'd seen him before, if he'd been one of the men on Treasure Island, or even in the sedan in D.C.

"Agent Scully," remarked the white man in his thirties, his gray trenchcoat and black suit looking very official.

She felt him look her up and down, taking in the black ensemble she had on - black turtleneck, black jeans and boots all under her trenchcoat. Of course, that trenchcoat covered her real assets. The rig and her guns.

"We're here to make the trade, per your request. If we could see your captive?" the MiB asked politely, except the nicety never reached his eyes, and he wore a half snarl on his face.

Scully nodded, and raised her hand to signal to the men in the car with the First Elder that it was time. At her signal, Skinner, Dominic and Stan pulled the First Elder from the car parked behind the stand of trees. They walked him forward just enough so that they could be seen.

"Now, where's Agent Mulder?" she asked in a very aggravated way, making the man before her jerk for a moment.

She watched carefully as the MiB before her turned slightly, and Scully heard car doors pop open, and then watched in anticipation as two armed men shoved and almost dragged the form of her partner forward. He drew his head up heavily and saw her there as they moved forward, and then they stopped ten feet from where she stood.

"Scully!" Mulder called out, and received a reprimand in the form of the barrel of one of the guard's guns smacking him across the face.

Enraged, Scully felt her hands drift to her waist, pushing the sides of the trenchcoat aside as they placed themselves on her hips. She stared at the man before her with a menacing look.

"If they do that again, it will be the *last* thing they do. Tell them to bring him here, and let's get on with this," she said in a deadly whisper.

"We want the First Elder first," he countered.

She didn't like it, but she shrugged. There wasn't much more she could bargain with at the moment and keep Mulder alive. Scully waved Stan and Dominic forward with the First Elder, moving him closer to where she and the negotiator stood. When he'd gotten as far as their position, they let him go on his own and she looked back at the MiB before her expectantly.

The two men guarding Mulder hauled him up and started moving with him towards her. Scully looked away for half a second to lock eyes with Kwan. He nodded at her, and she returned her gaze to Mulder, his eyes locked now on hers so she couldn't look away.

Mulder fell to the ground as the men shoved him forward. Scully split her attention to the First Elder walking past her and the man who'd pushed Mulder.

Suddenly, the First Elder ran towards the parked cars, screaming, "Kill them *all*!"

The two men standing over Mulder's semi-prone form reached for their guns, and before Scully could reach hers, she heard Kwan's 12 gauge fire and the men were falling, screaming in pain, blood pouring from gunshot wounds. Behind her, she could hear Skinner, Carmine and Kwan all yelling. To her left, she saw Dominic and Stan chase after the First Elder, shooting at the MiB's coming to his aid, who shot back.

Lunging forward, Scully grabbed the collar of the man who'd been designated as the negotiator, and pulled her Sig at the same time. It was at his head in a second.

"I guess it's time that you learned that we all can't have everything we want," she remarked coldly, and pulled the trigger.

She felt the man go limp in her grasp as blood sprayed from the wound. Ignoring the wet liquid that had splattered her face and upper limbs, she reached down, wrapped her arm around Mulder's chest from behind and forcibly dragged him away from the center of the fire zone, calling for cover from anyone who could hear her.

Suddenly Kwan was there, helping her haul the much larger and heavier Mulder towards some shelter. In moments Scully and Kwan had Mulder behind a stand of trees, and once he was sure she was able to take over, he moved into a defensive position, his 12 gauge making a thunderous sound.

"Hey Scully," said Mulder sleepily as she shoved him down behind the downed tree. He stared at her intently, trying to focus through the drugs. "So, what did I get myself into this time?"

For a split second, she was torn between checking over her limp partner and throwing herself back into the battle. Instead, Kwan, and then Skinner had moved in front of her position.

"We will protect you Dana, while you look after Mulder," said Kwan as he and Skinner continued to make sure that nothing got past them. She nodded in grateful understanding and let them do what they felt they had to.

Quickly, she looked him over for injuries, and found more than enough cuts and abrasions, but no gaping bullet wounds. Shoving up his sleeves revealed bruises at the crook of his arm that suggested that they'd probably drugged him intravenously more than once, and probably just before the trade had been set up, judging from the fresh bruising there.

Once she'd finished her once over, she realized that Mulder had been staring at her the whole time, taking in her appearance and her battle-weary countenance.

"Hey there partner," she said in quiet tones, almost drowned out by the continuing gun fire.

"Hey yourself," he replied. "Thanks for coming to get me."

She smiled, unable to help herself. Then she heard more shouting behind her and turned to see that Skinner and Kwan had vanished. Looking further across the field, she found that they'd had to wade further away from her position, using some trees and rocks for cover as the Consortium continued their attack from another direction. Realizing that the situation was still bad, she knew that she couldn't just sit there, hoping that everyone else could deal with it. Finally, after agonizing seconds, she reached back behind her, sweeping away the trenchcoat, and pulled the spare gun from her spine and pressed it into Mulder's hands.

"Nice outfit," he said suddenly as he got his first real good look at her, and she gave him her patented Scully-look of annoyance. It was wonderful to hear his voice, his humor again, but this wasn't the time.

Seeing the black funky poaching clothes clearly for the first time, Mulder had been surprised. But then shock had set in as he saw both the blood on her face and clothes and the rig strapped to her body. Shit, he thought. If her shooting their enemies while she'd dragged him over here wasn't impressive enough, he now realized that she was packing enough weapons to make him look like a lightweight.

The blood dotting her skin was something that he couldn't process at the moment, and he shut his eyes as a wave of dizziness struck him. She squeezed his hands tightly and his eyes flew open.

"Take this, and shoot anyone in a black suit who comes near you. I'll be back as quick as I can," she explained roughly, her hand closing the gun in his, and lingering there ever so slightly.

Once he nodded, she was up, pulling her Sig and its companion from the confines of her jacket and ran back into the fight.

Scully made her way to where Kwan and Skinner were pined down and fired a few rounds into the blinding lights. She heard car engines and started to panic. Were they getting the First Elder out of there and leaving the foot soldiers behind to do the dirty work? And if the man *did* escape, would there be retribution later?

"Damn it," she cursed as she leaned around the tree she was using for cover and fired at the lights. She heard glass break and it got a little darker. "Where's Carmine?"

"They went after the First Elder," Skinner replied, ducking his head in closer as pieces of bark went flying when a bullet struck the tree he was standing behind.

Scully scanned the area and saw Dominic lying face down on the ground, obviously wounded badly or dead. Looking farther away in that direction, she saw Carmine and Anthony moving as fast as the old man could go. They were following Stan and Vinnie Jr. as they chased and shot at the First Elder, who's men were trying to protect them the best they could. they were getting closer to the cars, and she knew that they were loosing their chance to kill the fat bastard before he could escape.

And after what that man had had done to Mulder, she wasn't about to let that happen.

Before either Kwan or Skinner could react, she had launched herself out from her cover and was racing towards the First Elder's vehicle. If she could take out the driver before he got to the car, Anthony and Carmine had a chance. They deserved the chance to get their revenge. If she didn't have some kind of understanding of the honor of the thing, she would have headed straight for the fat fuck herself and put him out of his misery.

Behind her, she heard Kwan call her name, and the sound of his 12 gauge. As usual since he'd joined their group, he was watching her back. A little part of her knew why, that the Asian assassin had a crush on her. Another part of her knew that it was deeper than that, and without knowing the details, Kwan had also uncovered a side of himself, and, like Dana, *it* no longer scared him.

Violently putting that thought out of her mind, she rushed at the car, and when she could clearly see the driver, she shot at him through the windshield. The third bullet went through the hole she'd created in the windshield and then through the man's neck. He slumped in the driver's seat.

There was a roar of car engines around them, and Scully looked to see that the rest of the MiB's were pulling out. At the same time, she saw Stan tackle the First Elder, sending the two men sprawling. Vinnie Jr. helped Stan up and they yanked the fat man to his knees.

Carmine and Anthony caught up with his men, slowly walking now to his hated enemy's side. The First Elder wildly looked around and saw that the rest of his troops had scattered, repelled by the hail of bullets that had continued to rain on them, even as he'd run for his life. Scully and Skinner watched dispassionately as Carmine took an offered .45 automatic from Anthony and pointed it at the man's head.

"Please *don't* Carmine!" the First Elder begged, his hands clenched in front of him.

"I always knew you'd go out squealing like a pig, Joe," Carmine said as he brought down the .45 and the huge dark tunnel of the barrel all that the First Elder could see. "At least, in that, you did not disappoint."

Carmine pulled the trigger, and the First Elder slumped to the ground. Anthony muttered something in Italian, and pumped a full clip into what was left of the fat man's face. The other two wiseguys followed suit, emptying their pistols into the dead man, like mourners tossing dirt in an open grave.

Scully watched the grim display. Then she heard a distant voice calling from a thousand miles away. It was Mulder calling her name. She turned to see Mulder being helped by Reggie, who must have convinced Mulder not to shoot him. She smiled at the thought, and memories of Mulder's ever-persuasive wit flooded her. She couldn't imagine what she would have done if they hadn't found him. . .

Mulder wobbled up on shaky legs and took a good look at Scully, and then he scanned the scene. His eyebrows shot up and his eyes darkened in horror, then shock as they moved on. His eyes returned to hers, and their silent communication kicked in. She read the warning, the concern in his eyes and turned to see Carmine start to move towards Skinner, who was patiently standing there, as if waiting for the old man to strike him down.

In the resulting silence, Scully shifted her Sig in her hand, tightening her grasp on the grip. It was a subtle shift, but it was one neither Carmine, Anthony or his men missed, and the tension ratcheted up a notch.

"Scully," Skinner warned, watching Carmine as he tensed. "I think Carmine and I can work our problems out on our own."

"Right," Carmine replied as he swung the barrel of the .45 into his other hand, holding the weapon close to him.

She shook her head and walked between her boss and the mob leader. Mulder started towards her, but Kwan held him back, trusting in the warrior he'd fought beside three times now to take care of herself.

"You had your revenge. The First Elder is dead. He played *all* of you. Skinner made sure you got out, and that you got your revenge. Shouldn't that count for something in your world of honor and duty?" she pointedly informed him.

Everyone watched as there seemed to be some kind of internal debate going on in the old man. Finally, he turned the gun over in his hands and handed it back to Anthony.

"Yeah it does. You've got a pass Walt. But I don't ever want to see you again. You are dead to me."

With that, he turned and walked back to the cars. Anthony followed, while Stan and Vinnie Jr. picked up Dominic's body and carried it with them. They loaded up into the car they'd come in and drove off into the night, leaving the rest of the group standing there, still in shock. Scully turned to look first at her boss, and then at Mulder.

"It's over," she said quietly.

Yet part of her knew that some things were far from resolved.

Continue to Part Eight