As soon as Der Natter leaves Mulder waits for five minutes, barely daring to breathe before he leaves the apartment. He counts the seconds until it’s safe (even though it is never safe) and then makes his way out onto the street.
Again he is struck by the never changing city, the hustle and bustle of it, so different from the club. It could almost feel like a country that has never seen war; the laughter and vivacity of it plain even as Mulder walks down the street.
But he can see the furtive glances of others similar to his own, too-quick looks over the shoulder to assure one isn’t being followed.
He tucks himself into a phone booth and calls Skinner. Surprisingly for once, the man picks up after the first ring.
“Mulder. Please tell me you have something to report, they’re breathing down my neck over here.”
“I...” Mulder begins, then falters. “Something. Not much. I’m delivering packages now.”
“They’ve upgraded you from a writer to a delivery boy.” Even without seeing his face Mulder can still hear the skepticism in Skinner’s tone.
“I’m still writing. They’re having me write material for the club.”
“You can’t rhyme.”
“Don’t I know it,” Mulder says. “They’re having me deliver documents, too. Translate them. Dana—the woman—she’s translating them. I’m just writing.”
“Anything interesting on them?”
“You think they’d let me see the interesting stuff?” Mulder asks. Skinner sighs. A long silence stretches out between them, as long as the distance between their countries.
“Mulder,” Skinner says, and Mulder can picture him with his glasses off, his hand pinching the bridge of his nose, “you need to find out what’s going on there. Find out what Der Natter is sending, find out who he’s working with, what they’re doing, and stop wasting time or they’re going to bring you home, which you and I both know you don’t want.”
“Of course,” Mulder says, and hangs up before Skinner can say anything else.
He’s right, he knows he’s right, he knows he should be doing more than he is. Find out what the man is using Scully for, using him for.
He’s a Nazi, that much is obvious, but there has to be more to it than that or else Skinner would never have sent him here.
His thoughts keep wandering back to Scully, and he realizes, with an unfortunate start, that she is the answer to this. That as much as she wants to keep her separate from his mission here, she could be useful. She’s closer to Der Natter than perhaps anyone here—with the exception of Kyreck, of course.
He does not want to try to follow Der Natter or Krycek, that’s too risky.
He doesn’t know anything about her. It’s clear she doesn’t live in the apartment complex he and Monika share or he would have seen her, but surely she can’t live too far from the club.
And wherever Scully lives, Der Natter will surely be close by—no way he’s letting her stay far.
He begins the walk back to the club, realizing now he has a slight modicum of freedom now, that if he’s writing for the club surely he’ll be allowed there during the day,
He buys wurst from a street vendor and eats it on his way back to the club, the food rich and salty in his mouth after days of existing on bread and beer. He wonders if the club serves food during the day; he’s never been around to notice.
He looks up at the building as he makes his way towards it, how nondescript and bland it looks during the day, how easy it is to walk by if you don’t know what’s inside.
He steps in, more familiar with the space now than he was his first day in Berlin, fresh and wide-eyed.
Has he changed since then? Has he learned anything, since then?
He doesn’t know.
He takes a seat at the bar, nods at some of the girls who are watching him. During the day the club loses the magic it possesses at night; during the day it’s a dingy bar, nothing more. A few men sit around, day-drinking, regulars he recognizes from the night that don’t even give him a glance.
Someone takes a seat next to him, and he doesn’t look up until he feels a light tap on his arm. Instantly he knows it isn’t Krycek or Der Natter, the touch is too light, too hesitant.
“Hello,” the voice says, and he turns and sees Monika, flashing him a grin as she signals the bartender.
“Radler, bitte,” she says, and smiles, and the bartender winks at her and she turns her full attention to Mulder.
“Lemonade and beer,” she says at Mulder’s questioning look. “Look like you’re drinking without getting totally wasted, yes?” She elbows him again. “What’re you doing here during the day?”
“What are you?” he asks before he can stop himself, and she throws back her head and laughs.
“No sailors today,” she says, smiling. “They want us to learn a new number, so I’m here to rehearse.”
“You actually do rehearse, then?”
“Barely,” she says. “Enough that the men feel like they get what they paid for. Not that many of them are paying for us nowadays.”
“Because of Dana?” Mulder says, his throat suddenly dry.
Monika laughs again. “Yes, because of Dana.” She nudges him. “You like her too, I take it.”
“It’s all right, I won’t snitch,” she says. “She came to visit you the other night, didn’t she?”
“How do you—”
“Herr Mulder,” she says, and she places a well-manicured hand on his arm. “I live across the hall. I’m not stupid.”
Mulder nods then, his heart beating in his chest, because if Monika knows then surely—surely—
“You really must be careful with her, you know,” she says, taking a sip of her drink. “I mean, she can do what she likes, as can you, but you must understand—you need to be careful.”
He thinks back to the bruises he saw on Scully’s back, the look in her eyes when he’s around, and he nods.
“Why her?” Mulder asks, and Monika looks at him quizzically. “I mean—there are plenty of girls in this club. Why is he so obsessed with her?”
“Why are you?” Monika counters, and Mulder shakes his head.
“Is it? You all want to own us, you men, whether that’s for an hour or two or a lifetime. Sexually, emotionally, whichever, it does not matter so long as you can say you have a piece of us.” She sighs. “At least the men who want to own me have to pay for it.”
“I don’t want to own her.”
“No?” Monika says. “Let me guess. You want to save her from Der Natter, because you are the better man, because you wouldn’t dare hit her like he does—it’s not a secret, Herr Mulder,” she adds off his look. “Isn’t that ownership?”
He doesn’t have a good answer. He can’t have a good answer, because deep down he suspects she is right.
Monika finishes her drink and wipes her mouth with her hand, standing to look at Mulder. She’s as tall as he is.
“You can’t save all of us, you know,” she says. “Aber trotzdem viel Glück.”
She leaves before he can ask what she means, though he has a feeling he already knows.
He stays awhile longer to watch them rehearse, trying to get a feel for the sort of material he will have to write, and leaves just as the sun is beginning to set and the regular patrons are filling back in. He hasn’t seen Scully all day, and his palms are itching for a cigarette.
He steps out into the alley and pulls out a cigarette, lighting it and inhaling, when he catches a flash of red down at the end of the alley.
It’s her. He knows it in his bones, he can feel it.
Now is his chance. Clearly she’s not expected tonight, and he won’t be missed.
He stubs the cigarette out and hurries down the alley, trying to keep a good distance from her. He was never the best at stealth, not even in the Army; Skinner always made fun of him for it. But it’s easy enough for him to get lost in this crowd, even easier to follow her, that red hair standing out like a beacon.
He follows her across streets, watches as she ducks around corners, the purposeful way she walks, head up, shoulders back, her eyes focused ahead. If she knows she’s being followed she doesn’t show it.
She crosses again and before he knows it they’re in another district of Berlin entirely, the buildings nicer, the people more well-dressed. With a start he realizes it’s the same part of town he delivered that package to, and a sick feeling starts in the pit of his stomach.
Scully disappears into an apartment building, and he watches, holding his breath, praying hers is one that faces the street, if only so he can look for a light and go inside.
A light turns on then, and he thanks whatever God is listening that he can see her silhouette clearly through the window.
He lets out a breath, steels himself, and goes inside, his footsteps on the entrance stairs.
He is so close to the door he does not see the silhouette that joins hers in the window.