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Two Sides of a Coin

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How many times has she been abducted before? First, she lost months of her life. The others, she almost lost her life to criminals, monsters they were chasing. This one has shaken her to her core. She did not see it coming. Her first abduction had been so much of a mystery she would rather forget it. It was so bad she ended up having cancer when she removed the implant from the base of her neck. The bureau was sacking the X Files and she’s about to be reassigned. She was planning on quitting the FBI and Mulder had stopped her because he needs her. It was heading to another direction down his hallway when that bee stung her and she lost consciousness. From what Mulder’s report has stated, he called for an ambulance but covert government people intercepted the call and abducted her and shot him.

When she woke up, Mulder was trying to get her out from underground, surrounded by something she couldn’t quite make of…pods? Green pods with black shadows in them? She couldn’t remember clearly mainly because she was fighting for her life at the time. Mulder had carried her. She can remember that. She even remembered joking at one time that she got him good. He said, it was after he did a CPR on her because she stopped breathing. When they came to the surface, she was bombarded with everything white. There’s ice everywhere. She did not get a chance to ask him where they were because the ground of ice started breaking and they ran, and they fell and then Mulder went unconscious from exhaustion caused by rescuing her.

It took search and rescue a day before they found them. She was then informed they were in Antartica. Her head spun. How could she be there in short period of time? Quick answer: she has been abducted…again.

Mulder had asked her again and again if she’s alright. She does not want to look weak in front of him. He’s always rescuing her and it sickens her. She’s not a damsel in distress. She is a strong independent woman who got entangled with government conspiracy and became a repeated target for experiments. She kept telling him she is just fine. He kept asking her still because he can see right through her. She hates that about him. Her mask works well with people but not with Mulder. He knows her too well for that.

“Did you see your doctor today?” he asked when she got into the office one day.

He’s been keeping up with her doctor’s appointment because he fears that her recent abduction might have affected her implant which where her life depends on. Everything checks out as always. As far as her doctor is concerned, she is a very healthy woman who just can’t conceive a child. She hates being a burden to Mulder. He got so much on his plate. He still needs to find his sister and the truth he’s been looking for all his life. Worrying about her all the time does not help with his quest. She has been assigned to the X Files initially to debunk Mulder’s work with her science. Now, she thinks she’s been assigned to debunk Mulder’s work by being the weight on Mulder’s back that drags him down so he won’t be able to fulfill his mission. Of course, she contested that idea. She does not want to believe it. She wants to believe that she’s been a big help to Mulder’s quest. He told her so but Mulder has a habit of saying words to her in order to make her feel better. It’s part of his care for her. He wants her to feel better. He is not a liar but he is capable of exaggerating things to keep her around.

Recently, she’s been proving her theory more and more. She is dragging Mulder down. He had turned down three cases because she had fainted twice and during the third case, he refused to let her go with him and when she insisted, he passed on the case to another department. It ended up in a big fight. She felt so useless. He means well. He’s just looking after her but she felt suffocated. She kept telling him she’s fine, that she only fainted because she got low blood pressure which her doctor has confirmed but Mulder did not buy it. He kept bringing up Antartica to the conversation and it pissed her off. She wants to move past it and he wouldn’t let her with his over-protectiveness.

Then, Gibson Praise came along. She is determined to make sure the boy will be safe and she’s not going to let Mulder force her to sit that one out. All of a sudden, Diana Fowley got into the scene and she found out a whole new side of Mulder’s past, the one he never talked about. Diana was there first. She had been with him when he found the X Files. She had helped him started it. She was his partner first. Scully kept a close eye. There is a part of her that does not trust her at all. Her gut is telling her something is off with Diana but her eyes are telling her something else. They worked so well together. They think alike. She never contested Mulder’s theory with sarcastic, skeptic comments and forced science and rationalism to every word he says. She supports him. Scully supports him too but she supports him by validating his theories by testing everything.

She felt a pang of jealousy but she wouldn’t dare admit it to Mulder when he dismissed her research about Diana’s whereabouts for the last seven years. She enlisted the help of the Gunmen not because she’s jealous but because she’s concerned. If they’re going to have help from Diana Fowley, Scully wants to make sure she can be trusted and she’s not going to derail Mulder’s quest for the truth and for his sister. Mulder said things that felt like a slap on her face. It took her few hours to fully digest it and she should have stayed mad a little longer but when he called and asked her to go somewhere, she obliged as usual because she does not know how to refuse him.

That’s when it hit her. Mulder will be forever on a quest. She will forever support him and being an additional burden is never going to be helpful for him. He needs someone who will devote her entire time and understanding to his theories. He needs someone who can hold her own and not always the victim of some abduction or conspiracy. That person is not going to be her no matter how much she wants it to be.

“Do you love him?” she asked bluntly when she cornered Diana inside the Hoover Building.

The question caught Diana off guard mainly because she expected hostility from Scully but her expression is soft, defeated, and exhausted.

“I do”, Diana answered.

“…and I hope that you’re here to help him and not hurt him”, Scully followed up.

“I will never hurt Fox”, Diana replied.

Despite her distrust for her, she believes that Diana really loves Mulder. She can see it in her eyes.

“Good. That’s all I needed to hear. Please do take care of him. He can sometimes get lost to his mission and he forgets to look after himself”, she said with a small smile.

Diana frowned.

“You’re talking like you’re going somewhere”, the woman noticed.

“Well, I think I am due for a little vacation and besides, Mulder wouldn’t be alone. You’re here and you’re not here to hurt him. That’s enough to put my mind at ease”, Scully explained.

“I will take care of him. You can count on that”, Diana said firmly and with that Scully left and went to Skinner’s office.

The man stared at the letter she just gave him. It is a short letter but he had read it again and again like he cannot understand the words she put on it.

“I don’t understand. What brought this on?” he asked with frown on his forehead.

“I have spent six years working for the X Files and for the bureau and in those six years, I have been abducted for months with no memory of it whatsoever, I lost my sister, I had been kidnapped by criminals, I got cancer and got saved by a mystery metal on my neck, and was rescued underground in Antartica with no recollection on how I got in that continent in the first place. Most people would have quit on the first thing I mentioned but I stuck around because I believed in Agent Mulder’s passion and quest and I still believe in them but I also believe that my contribution to such quest is not as fruitful as I once hoped. These events had impacted me on so many levels that it became a hindrance for me to function in my job as his partner. Also, being a constant target by the conspiracy and experiments only gets in the way of our work. Believe me, sir, when I say that I have thought about this a lot. This decision is the best I can come up with for everyone involved”, she answered.

Surely, he can see that. Skinner has been a witness to their journey from the start. He grew fond of the Mulder and Scully over the years and even went through lengths to help them and most of the time cover up their asses. This is why it came as a shock to him that Scully is now asking to be dismissed.

“I know this job has taken a lot from you but the Syndicate is dead now. The Smoking Man is hiding”, he argued.

She smiled.

“A lot of people are concerned with burying the truth, sir. You and I both know that. Agent Mulder will no doubt uncover those truths and I couldn’t bear to be the one holding him back. He got enough people trying to stop him from fulfilling his quest and I won’t be one of them”, she responded.

Skinner was helpless with her request. He can understand, of course, the toll it took on her and the amount of loss she endured being an agent who works for the X Files. She rarely asks him for anything and he felt obligated to do the same for her.

Mulder and Diana just got back from following a lead about his sister’s whereabouts. From what Scully had gathered, it was not as successful as he hoped for but it left another trail to follow. He told her what happened during the trip and explained why he did not ask her to come.

“Are you angry?” he asked when she’s not responding.

She went to his apartment carrying all the courage she had gathered while he was away.

“Mulder, I came here to tell you that I handed A.D. Skinner my resignation. He granted it”, she dropped.

He stopped moving. She thought he even stopped breathing. He did not expect her dropping that bomb on him like that or at all.

“Scully, I am sorry if I made you feel cuddled or if I am being overprotective of you. I am just looking after you. You don’t have to leave. I promise to stop doing that. I will not stop you anymore from working cases”, he blurted out with growing desperation.

Her heart melted. It felt wrong, what she’s doing. She knows this is hurting him but it’s for his own good. She’s doing it for him.

“Mulder, it has nothing to do with that. I appreciate your concern but like you said, this job has already taken a lot from me and I dislike being abducted from time to time not knowing if I will ever be returned or found or rescued. The Syndicate is dead. The Smoking Man is nowhere to be found, probably gone into hiding. Hunting for the truth should be easier now”, she explained with a small smile on her face.

She really does hope he will find what he’s looking for.

“I want to hunt the truth with you. I want to discover it with you”, he muttered.

Tears are threatening to fall from her eyes but she held it back. She won’t allow herself to show him her vulnerability.

“You don’t need me to be there. I believe you will find whatever it is you’re looking for. I just can’t be there anymore, Mulder. I hope you understand. I think it’s time for me to go out there and find my own truth”, she replied.

A single tear escaped his eyes and it broke her heart. She reminded herself again and again that she’s doing it for him. It’s all for him. It is the sacrifice she must make.

“I can’t stop you, can I?” he asked and she shook her head. It is final. “I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for either, Scully, and I am sorry if I drag you into this world but I am not sorry that I got to know you”, he said.

“I am not sorry about that either”, she replied.

Outside Mulder’s building, she saw a figure waiting for her by her car. She already knew who it is before she reached him. His smugness radiates a mile radius.

“Well done, Agent Scully”, Alex Krycek greeted.

“Shut up, Alex. You forgot, I am no longer an FBI agent. Now, I’ve done what you asked for. I quit the bureau. I quit the X Files and I just hurt Mulder’s feelings. Your turn to keep your end of the bargain”, she said with such force, Krycek left in awe.

“Don’t worry, Scully. I don’t go back on my word. I will not let Diana and Smoking Man succeed in hurting your precious Mulder”, she exhales deeply, “Have a safe trip”, he added as she got in her car and left.

Chapter Text

“Are you sure about this? Deleting everything about you is not undoable. Once it’s done, we cannot retrieve it”, Byers asked her.

She had enlisted the help of the Gunmen to come up with new identity for her. The theory of the implant on her neck being a tracker is still left to be proved but her identity, her name, that can be trace wherever she’ll go. The Syndicate may have been gone but the aliens are still out there somewhere. She’s their lab rat and she’ll always be one. She does not want to risk being abducted again. If she’s going to start her life, she cannot continue being Dana Katherine Scully. Cassandra Spencer is enough of a proof for her that they will never be done with their test subjects. If the aliens don’t get to her, the rebels will. The latter are determined to eliminate everything the aliens came into contact with and that includes the abductees. They had burnt so many already. She has no desire to be torched alive.

“I am quite sure, Byers. I have thought of this over and over. This is the only way I can hide from ‘them’. You know that”, she answered.

The boys looked at her with wary and sympathy. Of course, they are aware of her history. Mulder tells them everything. They’re like his family when his own neglected him.

“Are you sure you don’t want to tell Mulder about this? About what you and Alex Krycek came to terms with?” Frohike asked.

“No. Mulder will not believe it. It will only infuriate him. He trusts Diana so much. You all saw it when we tried to talk to him. He needs to see it for himself. He needs to go through it so he will know. Alex Krycek will be there to protect him but he needs to see who Diana really is if we want him to believe”, she answered.

“…but when he knows the truth, you’ll be long gone”, Langly remarked.

That’s true. The boys do not know what name she decides to choose for her new identity. They only provided her with the resources to create it, taught her how and left her to do it herself as per her request so no one from her life as Dana Katherine Scully will know who she will become or where she will go.

“Yes, but he will be safe and he can still continue searching for his sister and the truth. It is his mission in life”, she replied.

Byers sighed and pressed delete. All the records regarding her as Dana Scully has been deleted. Her birth record, school records, FBI, even medical records…all of those are gone from any system. It’s like Dana Scully never existed.

“It’s done. Dana Scully is no more”, Byers announced regretfully.

She breathes in deep. This is it. There’s no turning back. She gave them each a hug as a thank you. They have done so much for her and Mulder.

“Thank you and please, look after Mulder for me. Make sure he will not do something stupid that will get him killed”, she whispered and then walked away before they make her cry.

Her mother had cried about her decision but she can understand that it is what’s needed to keep her daughter safe. She knows how much Scully had gone through since she entered the FBI. She had begged her herself to quit number of times. She just did not imagine her quitting will be this way, altering everything about herself, deleting her former life to survive. Scully spent a week with her mother, just the two of them in their country house. It’s the last week she will be Dana Scully and she wants to spend it with her mother. She promised that she will let her know that she’s alright in subtle ways the Gunmen taught her.

“What about Fox? He will come looking for you. What am I going to tell him?” Maggie asked.

“The truth. There’s no point denying it. By the time he comes asking, it’s all going to be over. He will know the truth about the people around him. Just tell him what you know”, she answered as they sat in front of the fire.

“It’s going to hurt him”, Maggie commented.

She knows that. She already hurt him by leaving.

“There’s no other way to make him see it. Mulder is strong. He will carry on and continue with his quest. He will continue searching for his sister and for the truth he’s looking for. He will get through this”, Scully explained.

Her mother wanted to say more, that Fox feels more about her than just being mere partners. She knows he cares for her daughter more than he would like to admit. That’s why it’s so easy for her entrust her daughter’s safety in his hands. Despite his pursuit has endangered Dana multiple times, he has always been there to get her out, to save her. He loves her daughter and her daughter loves him too. She is now making this sacrifice for him. She is doing it for herself, of course, but more so for him. It is commendable how far they’re willing to go for each other but at the same time, it saddens her. They can have so much together and yet, it seems like fate are testing them hard by putting them at odds. With her daughter leaving and becoming someone else, it would be a great odd for them.

Maggie wanted to come with her to the airport but Scully declined. It would only make things harder for her. She respected her daughter’s wishes and made her promise to let her know how she’s doing whenever she gets the chance. With that, Scully left the country house. She left the country. She left Mulder and the X Files. Most importantly, she left being Dana Scully.

 

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LONDON

Transformation. It is first in her list when she arrived in London. She visited a salon and made the drastic choice of bleaching her hair completely. Red is no longer for her. Once that’s done, she went and purchased her own flat. She saved enough during her time at the bureau. The FBI shouldered her travels during cases and she rarely went to any vacation. The only expenses she was paying back then was her apartment and her basic needs but aside from that, there’s nothing else. It saved her a lot of money which she transferred to a bank account under a new name.

The flat was spacious for one person. It is two-story, a quiet hub for her peace of mind. It’s perfect for her. She saw an add of it in the paper and she fell in love right away.

“The documents are all set, Ms. Gibson. Is there anything else you need before I turn over the key?” the broker asked.

“No, thank you. Everything is good”, she answered politely.

“Well, welcome to your new home, Ms. Gibson. Here’s your key”, he greeted and gave her the key to the flat.

The first few weeks had been spent by her practicing the British accent. If she’s going to play this part, she must be good at it, not just average. It took her time to produce the credentials she needs in order to get herself a job. She cannot use her true credentials because Dana Scully does not exist anymore so everything must be forged although she is not forging her own skills. Science is still her field. Once her papers arrived, she’s all set to find an employment.

Armed with her newly bought silk blouse, tight skirt, and long coat, Scully waited at the hallway for her new name to be called. She’s pretty certain her file will pass any system. After all, she learned from the best about hacking and forging.

“Ms. Stella Gibson?” the young woman called.

“That would be me”, she answered with a small smile. She kept it professional.

“Please follow me”, she said and Scully obliged.

The Metropolitan Police Department may have been an odd choice for her but teaching does not have the same appeal to her anymore as it did back then. She debated about going back to medicine and continuing with the law enforcement. The latter won simply because she got a taste of the thrill and she cannot turn away. The Met seemed to be the place for her. She can continue what she sought out to do when she accepted the FBI’s recruitment which is to serve justice and protect the innocent. She can still do the same here.

“Ah, Ms. Gibson…please have a seat”, Chief Jeremy Hendricks greeted when she got into his office.

“Please, call me Stella”, she said in her newly acquired accent.

The man smiled at her and nodded.

“Alright then, Stella…you got quite recommendations from high places. I’ve received several and all of them speaks highly of you. Your credentials are incredible too. You got a degree on Physics and Anthropology and you went to med school. You’re actually an MD”, he said while glancing over her file.

“That’s right. I know it looked all over the place and being here might seemed unlikely but I had experience during my time in Italy as part of the Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Esterna. I am not estranged from law enforcement and I can handle the pressure that comes with it”, she answered.

Those people who made the recommendation are those she had paid to do so. There are contacts she found courtesy of Alex Krycek and it made her background story easier to make.

“Your file is truly impressive. It will be foolish of me not to hire you”, he said.

“I promise you that you will not regret it”, she replied.

Scully, now Stella Gibson, became a constable at the London Metropolitan Police. Like what she promised, she worked hard. She roamed the streets, brought in criminals, cracked cases like they’re nothing. Her time at the X Files had honed her skills in detective work and it impressed and scared the people around her. Many had tried to woo her in the hope of getting in her pants but she got no time for them. She is building her new life, her career. She needs it to work.

Over time, Stella has built a formidable reputation in Met. The label is somehow similar to the one she got in the FBI. They called her the Ice Queen but none called her Mrs. Spooky. She climbed up the ladder and despite the hardship of competing with her male colleagues, she prevailed and had proven herself again and again to the Met by displaying her intelligence and skills. Jeremy had assigned her partners from time to time but she does not need one. She can take care of herself and having someone just held her back. It did not take long before Jeremy noticed she likes to fly solo so he let her be. As long as she closed cases for him, he’s willing to give her everything she wants.

She found herself adapting to her new lifestyle. She likes exhausting herself with work and it dreads her to go home to darkness and emptiness. The life without attachments has suited her because she avoids questions. She dislikes getting to know part of the job. Company parties are not her scene and she developed a habit of disappearing before it ends. Few more months, her accent became natural for her and the sound of people calling her Stella Gibson became her new normal. All the alterations she made in her life had become ordinary for her. She believed everything she built, forged, for herself. She is now Stella Gibson.

Her taste in activities had changed too. She became into doing laps every morning as a form of exercise and a way to release stress from work. Back then, running was her thing but that’s the old her, not Stella. Then, one night, she found herself sitting side by side by a man wearing tux in a bar. His clothes are disheveled, result of a long day at work no doubt. She eyed his left hand and there’s no ring on his finger. The man kept looking her way and she knows too well what his eyes tell her. She had too much to drink and her inhibitions are below standard level. The next thing she knew, they’re already in her hotel room, stripping each other’s clothes. The man tried to take control but she’s so done letting everyone take control over her body. She has been violated way too much. They had poked and probed her without her consent. They had screw up her body that left her barren. She is no longer letting anyone take control of her body. She takes control of herself. So, she put his arms on the side and fucked him her way. Once that’s done, she declined his invitation for dinner. It’s just one night, nothing more.

That particular arrangement stuck with her. She liked that kind of relationship. No attachments. She did it again and again, taking control each time. She likes the control. Each men she desire fell for her traps, no misses. Then, she would lay awake at night after her encounters, staring at the ceiling of the room wondering only about one man, thinking what has become of him. Did he find what he’s looking for? She can only hope so. Her life must have been a mess but at least she hopes his has become a success. She sure hopes so.

Chapter Text

TWELVE YEARS LATER

Dana Scully is now Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson. She had come so far and her reputation now speaks for herself. In her big office, she surrounded herself with boards and clippings of cases she works on. She sticks with the kind of life she made for herself, a life with no attachments, no friends, no family, no one else. Jeremy and her talk about things outside work but she won’t call him her friend. For her, he is still her boss although he thinks of her as his friend.

Jeremy finds her a good listener. She never places judgment no matter how strange the things he shares with her. He sometimes treat her as his sounding board. He tells her his family problem, asks her which tie to wear to match his suit, asks her opinion about new coffee shops nearby. For him, she is his confidante and a trusted one. He is certain she is not one to talk behind his back. For one, Stella has no friends inside the building or outside. Second, she has too much integrity to backstab him. Of course, he is aware of her proclivities. He did ask her once about it when it reached his knowledge that she took home one of the newly hired constables after a case briefing. It surrounded the station faster than wildfire.

She had been incredibly honest about it. He was stunned how unashamed she was about the situation. She is a single woman who had a one-night stand with a single man. That was just that. He did his part in shielding her from the other officers wanting to get a taste of Stella Gibson. He knows she is not those names they were calling her. She just happens to be different, superior, and that scares the others. She does not seem to mind the rumors as well. As long as everyone do their jobs, all is well with Stella.

“Got a job for you, Stella”, Jeremy said one afternoon to his most valuable DSI.

“What is it?” she asked in her icy voice.

“A 28-day review of a murder case in Belfast. It’s quite a controversy over there because it involves the son of the chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Executive Morgan Monroe”, he answered handing her a case file.

Her eyes quickly browsed the information on the file. A murdered woman, posed naked on her own bed. According to the cause of death, she died of strangulation. Her nails were painted, and she was cleaned up. The killer had bathed her before posing her. It did not happen fast. She clearly had suffered. The attack was premeditated, not an impulsive crime. The PSNI is having trouble solving the case and one of the main reason is the husband of the victim is the son of Morgan Monroe.

“Did they ask for help from us?” she asked without looking at him.

“Yes”, Jeremy simply answered while observing the growing interest in her eyes.

He knows beforehand that she will take the case. She has a soft spot for violence against women cases. He has a theory about it but he did not ask. He respected her desire to keep her personal life private as well as her past.

“My arrival is not going to sit well not just with the PSNI but also in the entire Belfast”, she muttered and then looked at her boss who is now smirking.

“Since when you became interested in winning popularity contest?” he asked and that made her smile a little.

“Right. I’ll take the case”, she decided.

Jeremy leaned back and tapped his hands on his table before handing her the plane ticket.

“The flight is tomorrow. Better get started with the packing”, he said.

She would have liked to remark on his presumptuousness, but she bit it back. It amused her that he knows her well by now to know she will take the case without asking her about it just yet. She wondered what he would do if she had declined the review.

That night, she went home, cleaned up the house and then packed up her stuff. It’s a 28-day review but it might take longer. It’s one murder but she has a feeling there’s more to it than what the PSNI know. She is determined to crack it and solve it. Alice Monroe did not deserve to die like that, humiliated and in pain. Stella filled up one suitcase with work clothes while she packed her computer and files in one messenger bag. The flight is early so getting a good night sleep is essential before she face the lion’s den. It will be a tough one. Most men in Belfast wouldn’t take so kindly a woman from London coming in to review their performance and why they can’t close the case and apprehend any suspect. Her arrival will hurt so many egos which appealed so greatly for her. She likes to burst their bubbles.

 

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BELFAST

Stella has arrived at the airport in great spirit. Her heart is set in not just reviewing the Monroe case but she wants to help solve it. It’s how she works. She does not finish anything she has started and certainly, she will not go home empty handed with this one. While attending to her luggage, her eyes caught wind of someone in a suit. For a moment, the air went still for her as her brain began to process who could it possibly be. ‘He’ is forever engraved in her mind no matter how many years had passed and she surely knows his height, his built, his posture…everything. After a few seconds, the man was gone. It couldn’t have been him. Her brain is just playing tricks on her. He is in Washington D.C. doing what he does best, finding the truth.

“Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson?” she asked the man holding a placard with her last name.

“Yes, ma’am”, the man answered.

“That would be me”, she said with a smile.

He frowned a little. He clearly did not expect it to be her or look like her. God only knows what the police in Belfast had come up for her profile when they were told she’s coming. When she got in the car, there’s someone else in there with her.

“Hello, Jim. So nice of you to come and pick me up”, she greeted.

Jim Burns, the Assistant Chief Constable of PSNI and the head of Crime Operations, sat next to her in the car. There is a gentleness in his eyes and fondness upon laying eyes on her.

“Hello, Stella. I’m glad you can make it. How’s the flight?” he greeted back then asked.

The car began moving.

“Quite pleasant…got time to go over the case information again but I trust you got something more than what was sent to Jeremy”, she answered.

“Yes. Everything is at the station. The officers have been briefed that you would want to speak with them. To be frank, they’re quite nervous about the review”, he confirmed.

She smiled. It’s one of her guilty pleasures nowadays, to strike fear to men in her field. It is good to see them rattled up because of a woman.

“It’s only a review, Jim. I am not here to sack anyone. I am here to help solve the case”, she said.

“I know”, he agreed.

She took one brief look at him and she knew it was him who requested the help of Met for the review of the case. He knew Jeremy would pick her for the job and he knew she would accept it because of its nature. If she did not know any better, she’d say he did that to bring her back to Belfast. Of course, she had a fling with the man but it was a long time ago. Jim is a married man and normally, Stella wouldn’t go for a married man but it is not her job to determine whether the man she’s taking to her bed is married or not. It is the man’s job to inform her of such matter because it is his business and not hers. It was not her fault Jim was eager to get laid at the time to even mention to her about his wife but she put that behind her. He is a colleague and he is a good cop.

Stella quickly went to work when she arrived at the station. Everyone can feel the nerves shaking when she got in. She does inspire intimidation not to mention that she’s there to check their competence to solve the case. She has been made aware by Jim about the politics surrounding the case and she felt sorry for him for being put in the middle of that aspect of the field. She is well acquainted with politics in the law enforcement, that and conspiracy which made her left and changed her life, literally.

Though not lasting a day yet at work, she already pieced another murder case that could be a break for the case. There has been another woman killed three months prior to Alice Monroe’s death. Although, the victim, Fiona Gallagher was not posed on her bed but was shoved into her closet with duct tape on her mouth and her hands tied behind her back. Jim had dismissed her theory about the two murders being related. He wants her to do her work and nothing more. She can the pressure he’s under but she’s not under those pressures. Politics don’t scare her and she’s there to solve a murder. Stella began profiling the serialist she’s trying to catch. She instructed everyone to compile list of any reports of intrusion with possible report of missing underwear. The others found her orders odd but she does not care. She had dove in Aaron Monroe’s interrogation tape just to gauge what type of husband Alice Monroe had. She immediately figured out the man was an addict or maybe still is.

Jim may not approve of her inkling to link the two murders, she is still determined to put the pieces of the puzzle together. She had informed Jeremy about that which he encouraged her to continue.

“Can you give me a ride back to my hotel?” Stella had asked two constables outside the station.

“Yes, ma’am”, the lady officer answered and ushered her to their patrol car.

Her brain is flooded with everything murder. She is analyzing what goes into the brain of the one responsible for Alice Monroe and Fiona Gallagher’s deaths. They had been both strangled to death but with Fiona, the killer did not have much time to do his rituals. He was probably interrupted and his last resort was to put her inside her closet, hoping no one would find her and then he could get back to her after but unfortunately, she was found and the killer failed to finish what he started. It was not the case with Alice Monroe. The killer got all the time in the world with her. He got to torment her, kill her, and posed her like a doll on her bed. His first kill did not allow him for such luxuries, so he took his time with his second. The possibility for a third is so great now that he has a taste of the thrill of having complete control over his victim’s life and death. Like an addict, he would be on the hunt for the next prey and he will kill again. They’re definitely looking for a serialist.

While on the road, she saw the same figure she thought she saw at the airport. The same man in a suit, same built, same height, same posture as ‘him’. In a flash, he was gone. The car was moving fast and there was no traffic but she was almost certain that she saw him. Why would he be in Belfast? There is no way he could be working on a case there, an X File nonetheless. It’s all an illusion. She is tired and stressed. That’s all.

The next man she saw was a younger man in a casual shirt and jeans putting on a leather jacket. Reckless, it is a reckless thought but the idea is now in her head. He’s the same height as ‘him’. Perhaps, it is the distraction she needs. It’s been too long since she’s been bombarded with the thought of ‘him’. She needs something to take her mind off that topic.

“Who is that?” she asked the two constables in front of the car.

“DS James Olsen, ma’am”, the woman answered.

Bad idea…bad idea, her brain tried to tell her. She just got into town and she got a big case going on but she needs it.

“Introduce us”, she ordered and they pulled over.

There must have been a shootout but Stella was not interested in the case they’re working on. She’s interested in the man himself. The woman, PC Danielle Ferrington, introduced her to James Olsen. Her eyes immediately flickered to his left hand and saw no wedding ring on his finger.

“How long will you be in town?” he asked.

“Two weeks, maybe more. I’m staying at the Hilton”, she answered already giving away the hint.

“Very nice”, is all he was able to say.

“Room 203”, she added.

It’s incredibly reckless for her to say it like that in front of another officer but who cares? She’s off the clock and they’re all adults. She just put the ball in his court and it’s up to him whether he will take the bait or not but she would prefer the former so she can clear off her mind from the thoughts of ‘him’.

Chapter Text

Control…it’s all about control. Stella took all the control from James Olsen in her hotel room. He tried to touch her, tried to please her, tried to do it his way, but she’s way tougher than him. He may be a man but she’s stronger, superior. She knows how to bend him at her will. Every move she made, he groaned until he yielded and let her take control. She bet he never experienced what she’s giving him. He closed his eyes, relishing the pleasure while she relished the sensation of power and control. It’s all that she needs and after she had achieved it, she sent him away.

Now, what she needs is sleep. If only sleep will come sooner but it did not. She stared at the ceiling of her room while playing with the strands of her hair. In twelve years, she never forgot about ‘him’, although she stopped uttering his name let alone spoke it in her mind. Getting through the first few years of her life as Stella was incredibly hard, she had to block most of her memories as Dana Scully and that includes ‘him’. Why all of a sudden, he’s everywhere? She kept seeing him and she couldn’t stop thinking about him. Her hand found the base of her neck and felt the scar that was barely noticeable now. Memories flood her brain and she quickly shut it out. She’s done with that life. She got through it. There is no longer conspiracy in where she is and the thing she has to worry now is catching a serialist killing women in the neighborhood of Belfast.

The next day, Stella was made aware of another killing. Sarah Kay was a promising young lawyer. She fits the killer’s target, pale skin, dark hair, 30’s, professional, beautiful. PC Danielle Ferrington confessed her failure to connect Sarah Kay’s report of a break in two nights before with the murders and it resulted to her death. She was in awe of the young officer’s honesty. She is willing to suffer the consequences of her action and it made Stella admire her even more. Instead of encouraging her to report herself and her partner, she told her to get her things from the hotel. It’s going to be a long day at work and she may not make it to her hotel room tonight.

Jim came and asked Stella to talk with him inside his car. His face is grim as this new murder will not look good in his department and his reputation.

“Make me SIO”, she blurted out.

The man frowned at her and then went into shock. Her straightforwardness caught him off guard.

“I have the skills. I have the experience. I am here and I can be made available”, she enumerated. Jeremy will not mind her decision to stay and take over the case. “This is the third murder, Jim. If we don’t stop him, he will kill again”, she added.

That is enough to convince Jim and he yielded. To be honest, she is quite sure he will agree. She counted on it since he will like the idea of her staying a little longer in town. It is her taking advantage of unwanted attention from a married man.

She quickly went to work and observed the dead corpse of Sarah Kay inside the house. She was posed naked on her bed with her newly painted nails and trimmed hair. The killer certainly took his time with her. He did his homework. He knew she lived alone and no one was expected to come in the middle of the night. He knew her neighbors were quite ones and that would allow him to walk casually outside after he’s done with her. No one will see him.

“Take her to the morgue. I want all test done on her. I want to know everything”, she said to Reed, the pathologist.

She thought about doing the autopsy herself but being a pathologist was not included in her resume when she applied as Stella Gibson. She had not cut a dead body in years.

Outside of the house, James Olsen was waiting for her. This is out of the usual. One night is not meant to be followed up the next day.

“What are you doing here?” she asked in annoyance.

“I am police, remember?” he reminded her.

“This is not your case”, she snapped.

“Why did you give me your number if you don’t want to see me again?” he asked.

She asked that to herself once she had given her, her number. She read him wrong.

“It was a mistake. It was one night and that was it. Now, excuse me. I got work to do”, she answered and walked away.

It came out harsh and at some other time, she could’ve handled it with grace but a woman was just murdered in her own home. She got no time to deal with his feelings at the moment. It is not the place and time and he should have known that before coming there and try to ambush her. while she’s walking towards the car, a figure stopped her in her tracks. It was ‘him’ again standing at the corner street. Of course, it could have been anyone, bystander, resident of the neighborhood, but he’s wearing ‘that’ suit. He got that same height, same posture, same built. His face is blurry due to distance and she does not have her glasses with her. Her heart started beating faster. Could it really be ‘him’?

“Detective Superintendent Gibson?” Ferrington called.

Stella turned to her before turning back to where the figure was but he’s gone.

“The car is ready to take you to the morgue”, Ferrington informed her.

“Thank you. Let’s go”, she replied and went with her.

 

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HOSPITAL

Stella waited patiently at the hallway for the autopsy to finish. She did request for everything so it’s natural for her to wait long. When Reed was done, she discovered that Sarah Kay was pregnant. She may not know it back then because her body was not showing. Her temper slowly rose. If the killer is in front of her, she could have killed him with her bare hand. She was carrying her child and that bastard murdered her ending both her life and that supposed life. If that does not classify him as a monster, she doesn’t know what else can.

The hardest thing about her job is bringing the family to identify the body. Sarah Kay’s father cried upon seeing his baby. Her sister was the one who found her when she took her baby to visit Sarah. Her mind took her back to that time when she arrived at the hospital after receiving a call from her mother that her sister Melissa had been gunned down in her apartment. It was surreal at the time for her. Melissa being shot was so far from her brain. She was full of life, free-spirited. Her world did not include danger, aliens, and conspiracy but hers does and her world claimed her sister’s life. She quickly snapped out of it before it got worse. This is not about her. It’s about Sarah Kay.

“Still here?” Detective Chief Inspector Matt Eastwood asked when he saw her in her office as he walked past by.

“I’m still working”, she answered.

“Well, don’t overwork yourself. You won’t catch any killer if you tire yourself to death”, he advised and then left.

She did not follow that advice. She stayed over the station for two days. In that short time, she was made known of James Olsen’s death. She came clean to Jim just to shed light of his whereabouts on his last night on earth. Unsurprisingly, Jim did not take it lightly. It’s partly jealousy and partly hypocrisy.

“You were a married man when you spent a night in my bed”, she reminded him without even blinking.

She needs to put him back in his place. If she is a man, she will not get this kind of treatment but the fact that he brought out how an SIO must display integrity shows how narrow-minded he is and it pissed her off.

“Doesn’t it concern you at all that he’s dead?” he asked.

If she’s required to answer that, she would have said no. It does not concern her. They just had a one-night stand. That’s all. His business was his business, like the fact that he’s a married man and he did not have the decency to inform her about it.

More questioning came her way and by now, she’s sure that the entire station knew about her night with him. Eastwood came to ask her questions about what James Olsen did when he visited her and she answered as honest as she can be. It threw him off, of course. No one expected that from a woman, especially with her position. After the suicide in Eastwood’s office by another officer, she decided it’s time to go back to her hotel. She’s been cooped up at the station for too long. Their drama is getting under her skin. She’s not there to get entangled with all of their issues. She’s there to work.

 

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HOTEL

Eyes followed her at the bar. She is not there to pick up anyone. She just needs to cool down a minute before she resumes working again in her room. The last few days had been a whirlwind and she need to breathe if she wants to get a clear mind in solving the murder cases. She ordered glass after glass until her head felt light. It is a good feeling. Cigarettes would have been nice but she does not have any so she must settle with scotch. After a while, she felt the seat next to hers moved. It must be the alcohol but the presence next to her felt incredibly familiar. She almost felt at home.

“Put her drinks on me”, he said to the bartender.

Stella froze. She did not imagine that voice. ‘His’ voice. She may be inebriated but she’s not that drunk to hallucinate his voice. She did not dare look his way. She cannot bring herself to do it. She is willing for him to walk away so she can convince herself it’s all in her head but he did not move. He’s still there. Her hands shook, it made it impossible for her to continue holding her glass so she got up and fled.

When she entered the elevator, a hand grabbed her arm, pinned her on the elevator wall and then closed the door.

“Look at me”, he said.

She kept her eyes down. This is not happening, she thought. It’s not the right time. When the elevator door opened, she pulled her arm back and escaped his grasp. If only she can get to her room fast enough but she’s no match in his long legs. He’s already inside her room before she was able to close the door. He closed it for her and she knew, there’s no escaping it. She’s trapped.

“Scully, look at me”, he said in desperation.

Her breathing hitched. How long has it been since the last time she was called by that name? It’s too long, the name sounds so foreign for her ears. It somehow felt wrong now.

“You shouldn’t be here. You can’t be in here”, she muttered still keeping her gaze anywhere but him.

“Well, there’s no getting rid of me because I just spent years trying to find you and now that I did, I’m not letting you go again”, he retorted.

Her emotions threatening to betray her. She finally surrendered and turned to look at him. It’s like an ambush of memories and emotions hit her all at once. She has not seen his face in twelve years and yet there he is standing right in front of her. Time has taken its toll on his face but it only added to his allure. A man seasoned by experience. He developed a disheveled charm and his body is fit.

“Oh, Mulder…” she allowed herself to dare utter his name after so long.

The next thing she knew, his lips is already upon hers. There is nothing gentle about it. It’s hungry, desperate, needy, possessive. Her primal instinct to take control has been triggered and she tried to put his hands away from her but he did not let her. They struggled for control for a moment before she relinquished it to him.

Mulder lifted her and threw her on the bed. Clothes disappeared and scattered all over her room. What is happening? her brain tried to ask her but she’s too overwhelmed with desire and passion, she did not bother answering the question. When his mouth went south, she moaned so loud she failed to recognize that as a trait of Stella Gibson. Stella is not loud. Stella takes control. Stella makes men moan like a woman. This is not Stella. When he thrusts into her so hard that he must have hit her gut, she gasped in both pain and pleasure. He devoured her hard and wild, the way she had always liked it but never let anyone do it that way for her.

“Fuck, Scully”, he grunted in her ear and it made her eyes water.

“Call me that again, please”, she pleaded.

“Scully…I love you”, he obliged and together they came.

What a calm before the storm…

Chapter Text

It seemed like an eternity. The clock says it’s almost three in the morning but neither Mulder nor Stella want to say the first word or make the first move. She is staring at the same ceiling which she stared at couple nights back while Mulder is staring at her, drinking her features that feels so familiar for him and those he did not recognize at all. By all accounts, she is different.

He was not lying when he told her he spent years looking for her. He did. It’s incredibly difficult to find someone when that person no longer exists and Dana Katherine Scully does not exist anymore. Her hair is no longer red. He has never seen her go blonde before, not even in her old pictures at her mother’s house. The warmth in her eyes are gone too. It was replaced by an icy tone to her blue eyes and it sent shivers down his spine. It’s not the first time they slept together but between that time and now, a lot has changed with her. For instance, her need for control. He noticed how hard she tried to take his hand off of her but he resisted until she yielded. She did not do that before. She liked it rough, yes, but she liked being the receiver of that treatment not the other way around.

“Are you going to stare at me until the sun rises?” she asked in her now thick British accent.

Every word is punctuated with coldness, he actually felt the ice in them.

“What has happened to you, Scully?”

She only sighed.

 

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TWELVE YEARS AGO

Things went south fast with Diana and Mulder. He should have listened to Scully when she warned him about her former partner. When did Scully misled him? Instead of trusting her judgment, he accused her of jealousy and now she quit the bureau altogether because of his stupidity. The Smoking Man tried to take something out of his body, a revolutionary immunity he said from the alien virus. Diana was in on it from the start. She is working with his biological father. It’s all conspiracy.

Alex Krycek sabotaged their plan and got him out before they were able to slice and dice him. He never told him why he had helped him when it was him who killed his father and betrayed him million times. He just said he owe it to Scully. Whatever he meant by that, only Scully will know. So he went to her apartment to talk to her. He does not care anymore if it will hurt his pride, his ego, but he will admit his mistake and he will beg for her forgiveness but she’s not there. In fact, her apartment is now vacant. The place that used to be her home is now empty. She never told him about moving.

His next move is to go to her mother’s house. Perhaps, Scully moved back with Maggie. He can see that happening. She is in distress and that is the only place she goes to in order to feel safe. On his way there, he tried calling her phone bunch of times but it’s already disconnected. Something tells him that something bad has happened. He rushed to Maggie’s door and knocked rapidly.

“Fox? What are you doing here at this hour?” Maggie asked.

“Is she here? I want to talk to Scully please”, he asked her back.

Maggie’s expression softens.

“She’s not here”, she answered gently.

“Where is she? I went to her apartment but she already moved out. Her phone is disconnected. Do you know her number?” he asked again.

He is sounding desperate but it does not matter. He just wants to see her again, to talk to her one more time.

“I don’t know where she is and I don’t know how to contact her either. She did not left me any number”, she answered.

What? That is so unlike her. She would at least left something for her mother to use to get in touch with her.

“Please, tell me what happened because I am beginning to think that she’s been abducted again and I am on the verge of panicking”, he confessed.

Maggie stepped out on the porch with him.

“She left, Fox. After she quit the FBI, she told me that she’s going away and she did not plan on coming back. Dana has been through so much ever since she joined the FBI and she needed the change and that change includes cutting off everyone. We spent time in our country house before she left. She promised me that she will let me know that she’s fine from time to time but that’s just it. I don’t know how to reach her. That is the truth”, she explained.

“I know it’s my fault that her life got screwed up but I am willing to make it up. I messed up and I want to ask for her forgiveness. I learned my lesson and I just want to talk to her. Is she that mad at me to go away?” he expressed.

Tears are brimming in his eyes. He always knew that someday, his endless pursuit for the truth will eventually drive Scully away but not this way, not like this. It’s not what he thought when she told him she’s quitting.

“I think she did this for you”, Maggie suddenly said.

“What are you talking about?” he asked.

“She told me about something that will happen. By the time you came looking for her, it would all be over and you would know the truth about the people around you. She said it’s the only way you will believe, by going through with it and seeing it with your own eyes. I guess she’s right because you’re here now. Dana did not tell me much after that. She did not want me to get involved but if you want to know more, she said you will know who to ask”, she answered.

 

-----------------------------

 

FBI BUILDING

Mulder knows who to ask and that is Scully so he went back to the office and used the FBI’s database to look for her. He knows her credit card. He can track her if she made a purchase for plane ticket or gas…anything. To his amazement, nothing came up. Cash, she must have used cash to avoid detection. In curiosity, he entered her name in the search bar just to view her file at the FBI database. He just want to see her picture because he misses her dearly but to his horror, nothing came up.

“What?” he muttered and typed again.

Still, nothing came up. There is no record in the system about any Dana Katherine Scully. His heart beats incredibly fast. It can’t be right. She used to work as an FBI agent. There has to be a record of her in the system. Overwhelmed by fear and confusion, Mulder marched to Skinner’s office, completely ignoring his secretary who was trying to stop him from bursting in.

“Agent Mulder, I know you are in the habit of doing whatever it is that pleases you but my office is not the supermarket which you can drop by anytime you want”, Skinner muttered.

“Why is there no record of her in the database?” Mulder asked.

Skinner frowned.

“Who?” he asked him back.

“Scully. I looked into her file and nothing came up”, Mulder answered.

Skinner wanted to ask first why he was looking into her file but the dread and fear in his face stopped him. He is serious about not finding anything in the system.

“What are you talking about? She resigned from the bureau but her file is still in the database because she worked here”, he said and then opened his own computer to check.

Mulder waited impatiently. A lot of worst-case scenarios playing in his brain. What if she’s been abducted again? What if Maggie did not know? What if a bounty hunter posed as Scully to make her mother believe she’s just leaving? What if something bad happened to her?

“This is impossible”, Skinner muttered.

“What?” Mulder asked.

“It’s not just our database for the agents’ records. She’s also not in any records”, he answered.

“What are you talking about?” Mulder asked again, walking to his side to see what he’s seeing.

“There’s nothing. Her medical records, school records, anything. It’s like Scully did not exist at all. Her birth certificate is nowhere to be found”, Skinner answered.

Before his boss can say anything else, Mulder already fled. Someone erased Scully’s existence. He needs to know who and what happened to her.

 

----------------------------------

 

LONE GUNMEN’S LAIR

They are the only ones Mulder can trust right now and the only ones he can think of in helping him find Scully. He told them everything from his visit to her apartment, to his conversation with Maggie, down to Skinner’s discovery of Scully’s sudden nonexistence. The three boys listened with intent but no shock came across their faces. Once Mulder is finish, it’s their turn to explain.

“We did that”, Langly said.

“I beg your pardon”, Mulder muttered.

“We’re the ones who erased Scully’s identity, everything about her as per her request”, Byers explained.

“Why would she request for you to erase her entire existence?” Mulder asked.

“For you, you dumbass!” Frohike exclaimed. Mulder shut up as Langly elbowed Frohike. “It’s the truth. If only you listened to her when she warned you about Diana, but you did not. She and Alex Krycek made a deal. The Syndicate were going desperate to find something to use against the colonizers. They knew about Smoking Man’s plan to get the immunity from your head. Scully did not know how else to save you from Diana and the Smoking Man and from blindness so she reached out to Krycek. She needed someone from the inside who will help you. In return for his service, Scully had stole a file from DOD which Krycek was very interested in. Krycek had promised her that when the time comes, he will get you out but Scully needed to disappear”, Frohike continued.

“Why? The Smoking Man and the Syndicate failed. They did not get what they want. Why does she needs to disappear?” Mulder asked again in a more defeated manner.

“Exactly, they did not get what they want from you so they will look for somewhere to get it. Scully is the only one left from those who survived the testing during abduction. Everyone else got torched or killed or died from cancer. That implant in her neck did something to her body that saved her and she might have developed an immunity against the alien virus. Since they failed with you, they would come after her so Krycek asked her to leave. That was the deal”, Langley answered.

Mulder took it all in. She’s not mad at him. She knew what’s going to happen and she felt powerless to stop it because he wouldn’t believe her about Diana. She turned for Alex Krycek for help and chose to make a sacrifice in order to keep him safe. She turned her back in everything in her life and disappeared.

‘I think she did it for you’ it’s what her mother said.

It’s all his fault. None of it will ever happen if he only listened to her.

“Can you find her?” he asked them, and they all shook their heads.

“She asked us to teach her how to build a new identity and after we delete her true identity, she created a new one and she did not tell us what name she used or where she’s going. I’m sorry, Mulder”, Byers answered.

It was impossible but Mulder tried. He contacted everyone he knows just in hope of finding Scully. He continued working in the X Files up until the point when The Syndicate was destroyed. Smoking Man was killed. The colonization did not happen. He worked so hard in stopping the colonization and conspiracy so he can make their world a safe place for her again. He needed to make sure no one will try to experiment on her again.

Years went by and technology blossomed. It was what made his search easier. Facial recognition. A few hackers he met along the way was able to get a hit on Scully in another continent and she does not go by the name of Dana Scully. She is now known as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson of the London Metropolitan Police who just happened to be assigned on a 28-day review in Belfast.

“Found you, Scully”, he muttered and took the next flight to Belfast.

Chapter Text

PRESENT DAY

Stella jumped out of bed without bothering to grab the blanket to cover up her body. She’s not shy about what she got. She used to back in the day but not Stella Gibson. Stella is confident about her sexuality.

“Why do you still ask if you already know the answer? The boys already told you why I left”, she said as she went to the bathroom to clean herself up.

It’s not what Mulder meant when he asked her what happened to her. He wanted to know what happened after she left. He wants to know how she coped with being away, trying to be someone else, rebuilding a new life for herself.

“It must have been tough, pretending to be another person you’re not”, he muttered.

She reemerged from the bathroom now with her silk robe. There is a fascination in her expression which disappeared quickly.

“Ah…but I am not pretending to be another person. I am Stella Gibson. Everything that is about that name is me. I just adjusted a few facts but it’s me”, she said.

“Your parents are not dead. You’re not an only child. You’re not British and Italian descent. You’re not just a medical doctor. You’re also a pathologist, a scientist. I think you brushed off more facts than you care to admit”, he pointed out.

Stella knows about her mother but she’s also one of the things she must let go in order to be able to push through as a new person. That is probably the most painful part of her transformation.

“The person you’re trying to find is long gone, Mulder. I’m sorry but you wasted years of your life trying to find her”, she said.

“That’s bullshit and you know it. You just pushed your true self far back and tried to forget her but you can’t because it’s who you are and this cold, detached woman in front of me is just a façade”, he disagreed.

Her eyes caught the case file on her table and she’s suddenly reminded of her job in Belfast. It’s why she does not do relationships in the first place. It’s a distraction from work.

“Mulder, I can’t do this right now. I have a life and a job I got to finish. I have a killer to catch and this is not helping”, she said.

Mulder knows about the case. Three women dead, posed naked on their beds, died of strangulation. It’s not an X File but he long stopped with it. He continued working as a profiler for other units so he’s familiar with the nature of the case she’s working on.

“Let me help then”, he finally said.

“I bed your pardon?” she asked.

“I can see that you have changed a lot. Twelve years will do that to you. I want to know Stella Gibson and I can be of help while I’m doing that. You know how I work. I can be very valuable in your investigation. I am not asking anything in return, Scully. Let me hang around with you until this case is over. That’s all I ask”, he answered.

It sounds desperate but he searched the world for her for years. He meant it when he said he will never let her go again. If her argument is that the person she used to be is gone, he would like to get acquainted with the new her and hope to find Scully again in Stella Gibson. It’s the only way he can think of.

Stella knows catching her killer will take more than her sets of skills and Mulder’s expertise in profiling will be a great help. It will raise questions of his involvement especially since he’s an American but she can think of something to make it work. She needs all the help she can get and right now, there’s nothing else that matters than putting the serialist behind bars and stop him from killing more women.

“That can be arranged”, she agreed.

Honestly, Mulder thought it will take a lot to persuade her to let him hang around, but it made him happy that she agreed on his proposal.

“You will not regret it”, he promised with a smile that he had lost a long time ago.

“I sure hope so”, she thought about opening the door for him so he can leave but it’s only a few hours before she has to go to work. “Where are you staying?” she asked.

“Right now, in my car rental, but I plan in getting a room here in Hilton”, he answered.

She knows why he chose the same hotel. Complications. She can already feel the coming days are going to be hard on her.

“Well, you should book it now. It will give you few hours to shower and get ready. I will conduct a briefing later at the station. If you want to help, you cannot be late”, she said firmly.

Authoritative and conscious about punctuality, that’s the Scully he remembered. Though Stella got an icy flare now to her tone and her gaze, he can still see semblance of Scully in her. A part of her is still there, she’s just too good in hiding it.

“Meet you at the lobby, Detective Superintendent Gibson”, he teased and left her room.

 

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This is not supposed to happen. When she left Washington, it was to save Mulder and herself from those who want to make a lab rat out of them. It was the sacrifice she fully understood and came to terms with. She accepted that her former life was over and that she’s living a whole new different life without the people she cared about back then. She cut off her relationship with her family, her friends, and with Mulder. She got through it. She was doing well. Mulder coming back threatens to disrupt the system she built for herself. He is threatening to destroy the peace she found as Stella and the safety she established for herself and for him.

He mentioned the Syndicate and the Smoking Man being dead. He told her they’re safe but are they ever safe? Can he really guarantee that?

Stella let the cold water from the shower rinsed through her frustrations. A killer is on the loose and that should be her top priority. Mulder can help her if he wants but they’re bound by profession and that’s it. She can think about her screwed up life once the case is over. She slipped in her silk blouse and tight black skirt with high slit. Her icy blonde hair is curled to perfection. Her high heels are on point.

Mulder is already waiting for her at the lobby when she got there. He had showered. He looked quite presentable and no longer disheveled. He looked happy, different from the man she saw last night. She did not fail to notice how he ogled her from head to toe. Attention like that is not new to her but with Mulder, it is a surprise. They had been close back then while working at the X Files but everything was subtle. He was never front with his feelings or intentions. The fact that he was brave enough to let her know he likes how she looks made her stomach fluttered.

“This is your work clothes? Damn, those boys at the station must think it’s Christmas everyday”, he teased.

She missed that tone in his voice. She remembered him being playful and full of sarcastic remarks. Even in the face of imminent danger, he can manage to crack a joke.

“I don’t dress to please other people”, she replied coolly.

“Well, I am grateful, nonetheless. Shall we?” he led her to his rental car.

Stella was glad for the ride. It is getting frustrating to call for constables to come and pick her up. She was thinking of renting car herself but she’s been swamped lately, she hardly has the time to get one. Mulder can’t stop rambling about Belfast and the view and the people. She knows he is just killing time. He wants to engage her in a conversation but her brain is in work mode. All she can think about is catching her guy. She had seen enough of his crime. That image of Sarah Kay carved in her brain. She was robbed of her chance to live, to fulfill her dreams in being a successful lawyer, to be a mother.

“This case really bothers you, huh”, Mulder suddenly said.

“What makes you say that?” she asked.

“You got that look on your face whenever we got gruesome cases back in the X Files. It’s like you don’t want to be there but you have to because you want to stop the killings”, he answered.

A lot of cases they handled back then bothered her. Of course, she never admitted that to him even it’s already painfully obvious. She got so much pride. She did not like to be coddled by Mulder.

“The killer plays around with his victims. He stalks them, breaks inside their houses to steal their belongings like underwear. Once he’s familiar with their houses, he will enact his crime. He strangles them for about an hour, forcing them to hover between life and death, completely at his mercy until he squeezed hard and long enough to kill them. It doesn’t stop there. He bathes his victims, washed the bedding, and then he dries the bodies, paints their nails before posing them on their beds naked”,

Stella picked up Sarah Kay’s photo from the files in her bag.

“This was Sarah Kay. She was the latest victim. She was found dead by her sister in her bedroom one morning. Sarah was a young lawyer. I had to face her father and asked him to identify her body at the morgue and afterwards, informed him that her daughter was pregnant when she was murdered”,

Mulder swallowed. It is a gruesome crime and a heartless one but the tone of her voice, the dangerous vibrations of her voice sent fear in him. She is not just bothered by it, she is fueled with anger. He has never seen her like this before.

“…so yes, you can say that it bothers me. It bothers me thinking the fact that he’s still out there, stalking his next victim and I am nowhere near catching him”, she finished.

“Stop worrying. We will get him. I promise”, he said.

He does not know how but he’s willing to do his best to catch this guy not only to make him pay for his crimes but also to give Scully a peace of mind.

 

-------------------------------

 

PSNI

Eyes turned to Stella and Mulder as they walked along the hallways of the station. They are all wondering who the man is walking alongside their boss and why he’s with her. When the two got in her office, Eastwood is already waiting for her. His eyes turned to Mulder and then back to Stella and smirked a little knowing Stella’s dominant nature.

“Detective Chief Inspector Matt Eastwood. This is Fox Mulder. He’s undergoing field training and was sent here by Chief Hendricks from London. He will be working in the operation Music Man. Mulder, this is Detective Chief Inspector Eastwood”, she introduced the two gents and then proceeded to set her things on her table.

“Detective Superintendent Gibson deserves all the help she can get”, Eastwood turned to Stella after shaking Mulder’s hand, “…by the way, I’m here to tell you that the James Olsen murder case is closed. We got the killer who happened to be friends with one of the drug dealers they caught few nights back”, he told her.

“That’s good”, she muttered coldly.

She has no intention to get involved with his case but it’s glad to hear that it was resolved. Eastwood let them be and closed the door of her office.

“Another murder from your guy?” Mulder asked.

“No. He was an officer who got shot in front of his house”, she answered and when Mulder did not respond, she sighed and looked at him in the eyes, “…and I fucked him on the first night I got here in Belfast. He was murdered the next day”, she added.

Mulder, of course, did not expect that. He sensed there’s more from Eastwood had said, like an underlying meaning only the two of them understood but he did not see that one coming. Of course, he got it. Her involvement with Olsen was within 24 hours of his death. She was probably questioned for it and that must have been a mess.

“If you’re done rationalizing my proclivities, perhaps you can join me to brief the task force about the case”, she broke his rapid thoughts and he’s left coming after her.

It’s time to work.

Chapter Text

Mulder watched as Stella laid out facts surrounding the case. She told him with straight face how she wants them all to handle it. It was different from Scully’s approach back in D.C. but then again, she’s a different person now. She’s tougher. Scully had a reputation of being an Ice Queen at the FBI but it’s more because she did not pay attention to the men who wanted to get into her pants. The Stella in front of him has an air of dominance and intimidation which strikes everyone around her. Even the big guys pay close attention to the things she’s saying. It’s conflicting to watch. She got an allure of a woman who can make heads turn her direction but holds the power and authority of a man.

“Get ready for the press briefing. We will be bombarded with questions but you know what to say when asked”, she said and everyone responded with, “No comment”.

Her move is draw out the killer by putting herself out there. A press conference will be her way of taunting him. The killer taunts the police force by making a show of his crimes. Stella will make a show for him to see. Mulder has to admit it was a clever idea and quite unconventional and his theory was proven when her supervising officer Jim Burns pulled her into a corner to talk.

At first, Mulder cannot hear what they were talking about but when Jim closed his distance to her, he felt compelled to close the distance between them so his ears can catch what they’re talking about.

“Do you have any idea the effect you have on men?” Jim asked.

Mulder saw Scully/Stella turned to him with a frown. His confession did not faze her but it annoyed her.

“I would have left my wife, my kids, everything for you”, Jim added.

“That would have been a mistake”, Stella replied coldly.

Mulder felt a sense of pride in the way she turned him down but at the same time, he felt sorry for the man. He would have done the same. He did do the same. He left everything to come after her. Jim left Stella and resumed being ACC of PSNI that he is though he can see the dismay and defeated look on his face as he does.

“Eavesdropping is not you”, Stella suddenly said.

He did not even hear her come his way despite her tall stilettos.

“I was curious”, he explained briefly as if that justify everything.

“Well, that is so you”, she started walking and he started following, “…to answer the question in your brain what was that all about, he was against the idea of press conference. I managed to get him to agree with it providing he will be there next to me. Then, he inquired more about James Olsen and his behavior the day he died. I told him it was nothing more than just one night and I guess, you heard the rest of it”, she said casually.

Scully would never discuss her life or her engagements with others the way she’s doing now. Scully was private. Mulder has to work quite hard in order to know details about her life that she did not want to share.

“I bet you injured his ego back in the day”, he assumed.

Stella turned a corner, handed Ferrington a bill which made the officer frown.

“Will you get me a red nail polish right now? I need it before the conference started”, the officer hurried away despite the forming questions in her head, “We shared a night years ago. I moved on. He doesn’t. That’s his problem”, she turned to address his assumption before resuming her walk back to her office.

He would have pressed more but he chose not to as he can see she’s in full detective mode. He promised to be a great help so he started perusing the case files. She’s right about the case being baffling. The M.O. of the killer is sinister and painfully crafted. He dove more into his mindset. He asked himself questions of what could possibly motivate the killer to have such patience in his crime. He took time. He investigates like a detective. He does not just go around killing women. He has a type and when he finds it, he moves slowly. He surveyed the ground. He checked in inside the victim’s house. He took time to possibly get to know his victim and once satisfied that she’s the one, that’s when he does his move and go for the kill. For someone who has an impulsion of violence, that takes a lot of patience, like an addict depriving himself of drugs for days only to lose control after days of soberness.

Stella conducted her own profiling. Mulder is impressed at her thoroughness. She now is more into psychological aspect of her profile than medical like what she used to do back then. After all, Stella Gibson is not working as an M.D. Still, it baffles Mulder how she managed to turn her back on medicine and fully commits herself to law enforcement. He knows how much she loves science. It must have been hard for her all those years ago but watching her now, she seemed at ease with her career. She thrives in solving cases, bringing bad guys to justice, and saving lives.

Ferrington came back with her requested nail polish. It is a simple press conference, Mulder thought. He watched as she painted her nails red. It is only then when it occurred to Mulder what she’s doing. The victims’ photos revealed their nails to be painted red by the killer after they were killed. Stella is putting herself out there. She is taunting the killer like how the killer taunts everyone else. This is her show.

“You should know you don’t fit his type”, she turned to him with a frown and he gestured towards her frock, “He obviously likes brunettes and you’re blonde. Perhaps, you would like to consider going dark if you’re really going into this kind of game”, he suggested.

Stella resumed painting her nails.

“Mulder, I am in no condition to make myself as bait by trying to copy his victims’ looks. This red nail polish is my subtle way of telling him to go fuck himself. If he decides to come after me, well, I look forward to it, but I am betting he’s on his track to his new prey. I just need to rattle him up a bit to derail him”, she explained and blew on her nails before giving him a brief smile.

He couldn’t help but smile back. He misses those smiles of her. Despite the huge change in her, her smile looks the same. It’s Scully’s smile. Stella took a look at Mulder’s profile in progress.

“You think our killer is a family man?” she asked.

“It’s not far-fetched. Most of serial killers are known to live a normal and ordinary life which made it more difficult for authorities to catch them. It’s like camouflage. They’re hiding in plain sight. They’re more dangerous because they can be everywhere and no one would even know”,

She sat by the desk to give him her full attention.

“Listen, how many days it takes him to finally kill his victims?” he asked.

“Three to five days max”, she answered casually.

“Exactly. Now, a killer with a type is most likely compelled to kill the first person that fits his type right then and there due to the compulsion of the act. A killer who takes three to five days to wait before killing the victim is probably the most patient man in the world. Imagine lusting and being hungry for that thrill of killing for days knowing he can strike at any time but chose not to”, he explained.

“He is choosing the right moment to act”, she deduced.

“An ordinary, heartless criminal will not have that kind of patience. An addict must have his fix or he will go crazy but not this guy, not our killer. He can go on without the fix for days, probably weeks or months if he wills himself because he got something else going on in his life. His world does not revolve in killing alone. His time is occupied by something else or someone else and that tops his desire to kill all the time”, Mulder added.

Stella pondered his words in her head. She is taking all the points and connecting them with what she already knows.

“Children”, he stopped talking, “They’re what top him impulse to kill all the time. They’re what occupy him and help submerge his desire to kill. He got children. My guess is two. One won’t be enough to keep him at bay. Two children and married. Someone has to look after his kids while he’s out scouring the town for his next victim. He must have a decent profession to support his family. He must look quite attractive too. It would be easy for him to catch women’s attentions, see who would fall first. Using his family as a shield. Then, he would be anywhere, school, parks, malls, grocery stores”, she expressed.

Mulder smirked. Profiling is what he does best but he has no doubt Stella can top him if she lets herself get on it. She has a sharp mind and quick senses. He planted a seed and she watered it to perfection.

“Nailed it, detective”, he teased.

“I am starting to like my decision to let you stick around, Mulder”, she muttered.

“Glad to hear it. Are you ready to flaunt your newly painted nails on camera?” he asked and he only received a smirk from her.

 

--------------------------------

 

The press conference scared the shit out of Mulder. He saw how cold Stella appeared on camera. Her smugness radiates and her nails are on full display. She has no qualms when she revealed that Sarah Kay was pregnant at the time of her murder. Of course, she has the blessing of Sarah Kay’s father to make that information public but the way she delivered it troubled Mulder. It was like it does not bother her at all that she said it out loud. The top button of her blouse popped open and he saw Jim looked awkwardly like he wanted to tell Stella to close it but he couldn’t because they’re live. Stella went on, not minding her exposed skin. In fact, she’s proud of it.

“I can’t believe everyone makes such a big deal of cleavage”, Stella muttered while they were in the car back to the hotel.

She received quite a handful from Jim about her dress code and the other officers were either eyeing her or congratulating her for handling her ‘wardrobe malfunction’ so well.

“You shocked the prude. What do you expect?” she rolled her eyes the way she used to whenever he blurted out an outrageous theory. “Don’t think I don’t know you purposely wore that tight silk blouse for the press conference. You were counting on that button to pop. You wanted to expose yourself a bit on camera”, he said.

Stella hummed in response.

“Our killer will move to kill his next victim sooner than expected. He will not wait few more days to do it. His desire has been coupled with his ego and wanting to show off to the police that he’s unstoppable”, she muttered.

He glanced at her for a bit before returning his eyes back on the road.

“You’re now counting that he will screw up”, he guessed.

“I told you. I just need to rattle him up a bit to derail him”, she confirmed with the same smugness on her face but accompanied with a smile.

 

-----------------------------------

 

HOTEL

Mulder’s room happened to be located next to hers so they went in the elevator together and got off the same floor. He wanted to help her with her bag but he knows that she does not like being coddled so he stopped himself. It is quite clear that their day will end like this but he refused to accept that.

“Have dinner with me”, he blurted out.

Stella stopped walking towards her room and turned to Mulder with a surprised look on her face.

“Mulder, we already sleep with each other. If you want to fuck me again, all you have to do is ask”, she said bluntly.

He should feel offended but like what she said, he doesn’t know the new version of her. Dinner is a good idea to get to know her.

“Sex sounds enticing but food sounds better at the moment and we can discuss further about the case. Come on. I just got here in Belfast and you’ve been in this hotel for days. You probably memorized the menu downstairs. What do you say, detective?” he insisted using his charming smile.

She thought about it for a moment before sighing.

“I guess I can eat healthy foods tonight”, she agreed.

Chapter Text

Stella made an effort to change from her work clothes to a more comfortable pants and blouse. Mulder though, being Mulder, wore the same clothes he wore when the day started. He was right when he said she’s accustomed to the hotel’s menu. She mentioned that she’s been living a lot inside hotels due to her work that it’s like home to her.

“Why pick London? I mean, the Gunmen taught you how to be anyone and live anywhere. Why pick London out of all places on earth? You could have been in Paris by now or Greece”, he asked.

He thought that bringing it up will make her uncomfortable but she is in a good mood. She shakes her wine glass before bringing the glass to her lips.

“I wanted to have semblance of my old self or at least a strand of connection to my old life in this new one”, she answered vaguely.

His brain works fast. He cannot find any connection of Scully to London. In years they worked together, he knew she’s never even been there before.

“I don’t understand. You don’t have relatives in England. You’ve never been there before yourself when we were working together. How could you have some semblance of your old self in London?” he asked again.

Stella contemplated about giving him the answer and it would be best to keep it blurred as much as possible but she’s never been one to lie to his face. It’s never been her. No matter how much she wants to deny. Mulder still has that power over her, power to make her say the truth, power to make her follow him, power to make her agreed to things she does not want to do…like having dinner tonight. It’s not in her mind when she left work. In fact, she was on fasting and was looking forward to spend hours in her bathtub and then crash the bed afterwards but Mulder, being Mulder, managed to persuade her to have dinner with him despite her better judgments. He can still make her do things she does not want to and plan to do. So much for being a new person.

“You went to University of Oxford”, Mulder nodded, “Well, it’s an hour and half drive from there to London but it’s still in the same country. I’d say it’s not that far off”, she answered and kept on drinking.

He blinked a few times, desperately trying to comprehend that fast enough. Did she just say she chose London because he studied in England and that’s the semblance she was looking for?

“I don’t know what to make of that, Scully”, he confessed his confusion.

“Then don’t make anything out of what I just said. You asked a question and I answered it. That’s all”, she snapped coldly.

Her mask as Stella is coming back up again. This is the treatment she’s giving the boys at the station. This is the Stella she showed on camera during the press conference. He does not want to have dinner with this Stella, not if it’s only a mask.

“You could have told me”, he whispered but she caught what he just said, “…I know I was an ass at the time and the most stubborn person but you could have told me what you knew, what you were planning and I could have helped. I could have done something. If it’s running you want, I could have come with you. You could have been not alone in twelve years. It would have been so much easier”, he added getting the courage to talk from the wine in his glass.

Her gaze remains cold but her expression is softer than before.

“…but I did tell you what I knew”, he dared looked at her and he saw a hint of pain, “I told you that Diana was not to be trusted. I presented you hard facts of it and you dismissed it like it was nothing. I knew you would not listen to me without evidence so I tried and provided you with one along with the Gunmen but still, you did not listen. If I had told you that Diana was working with the Smoking Man and that they were going to cut you open for the immunity they’re looking for, would you have believed me knowing I won’t be able to produce proof of that for you?”

He remained quiet. At the time, the answer would be no. He trusted Diana implicitly and it broke his heart to learn that she betrayed him and everything they worked for. It broke him to learn that Scully had been right and he did not listen and he lost her too.

“It was a quick decision I have to make but I thought about it a lot. Alex Krycek told me what’s going to happen if they did not succeed on you. They would turn their eyes on me, if not the Syndicate, the Rebels would as they were trying to eliminate evidence of abductees. I had to compromise in order to save you and me and everyone around us. We’re like ticking time bomb, Mulder, you and I. Danger finds us. You have to see things in order to believe them. That’s your way. You don’t settle for data and hard evidences. You believe by seeing them so I had to let you see it, that Diana was not on your side. By doing so, I had to flee because I refuse to be their lab rat again. I refuse to be rescued by you again. I had enough of that”,

Everything she said was on point. He believes what he sees. He surrendered to the giant fact that he loves her when she’s gone. He finally saw what she meant to him when she’s already out of his reach. He believes in alien and supernatural forces because he saw them himself. He believed that Diana betrayed him because he experienced it himself.

“You may have been right that if you had come with me, the last twelve years would have been easier but it’s all in the past now. I managed to survive and make it on my own. No matter how much we talk about the what ifs, we cannot undo what was done”, she said.

“…but you lost a lot”, he argued.

“I did. I lost everything but I’m still here”, she agreed.

“People got hurt when you left. Your mother, your brother, your friends…me. I got hurt a lot”, he confessed.

She smiled.

“…but you’re still here and alive. I guess in the end, it’s all worth it”, she said.

Was it? He did not ask that out loud. He’s well aware of the toll it took on him to live those years without her. He fought the conspiracy, defeated those who wish to harm her so he can bring her back safely. He is only beginning to see the toll it took on her. Little by little, the mystery of Stella Gibson is unraveling in front of him. She chose to live a life without attachments not because it is dangerous or it endangers her identity but because she is avoiding complications. Complications in her former life was brought on by him when she was assigned to be his partner. He dragged her so far, it cost her too much.

Stella does not have that kind of complication. She devours men in every way she can and then sends them on their merry ways like nothing happened. No complications. In the process, she had inevitably turned herself cold and numb, almost emotionless. She still has the great compassion and kindness for others. It is obvious in her great interest with the murder case they’re working on. She did not have to stay and take over, but she did because she wants to bring the killer to justice and make him pay for what he did to those women. That is her big heart at work. Personally, she lost that compassion and kindness to herself. She may not see it but she is destroying her capability to love herself by cutting her senses in communicating with others on personal level. She sees it as complications whereas Mulder sees making connection as basic human act.

In one day she brought him to her world, he watched her looked men and women in their eyes with no fear, no kindness, no connections whatsoever. Her eyes were as cold as ice in Antartica and they have the power to freeze anyone to death. He saw her turned a man down without blinking an eye and not felt sorry or empathy towards him afterwards. He watched her talked in public while taunting a serial killer like it’s a regular thing she has to do. At the end of the day, she got more upset about people making a fuss of her cleavage than the stress of the case itself. She is slowly departing from warmth and Mulder can see it clearly.

If control is all she wants, she long has gotten it. It does not stop her from taking it whenever she can. He can understand that as control has been lost to her back then when she was abducted and experimented on. She’s hungry for control and she craves it like the killer craves the thrill of ending his victims’ lives. It is also clear to Mulder that once her craving has been satisfied, it leaves a hole inside her, a void that can never be filled. What she gets is temporary fulfillment which never fulfills her. She tricks herself into believing that it did but she knows to herself that it doesn’t. Those men can pleasure her, worship her like a goddess that she is, but none of them can truly love her. They merely love the idea of her and the thrill she presents. Even ACC Jim Burns is not in love with Stella. He is obsessed with her and the idea of her. In his mind, he’s constantly reliving the night they spent together but he does not love her.

Mulder loves her. He loves her whether she’s Dana Scully or Stella Gibson. His feelings did not change over the years. It only strengthens. It took him so long to realize that and to fully accept that. He spent time punishing himself for being so dense and stupid. If only he was able to realize it sooner, acted on it sooner, she would not have left and they could have spent those twelve years running around somewhere, together. He is willing to get frostbite from her ice if that’s what it takes to get close to her again.

“You’re staring at me like I’m a criminal you badly needs to profile”, she snapped him out of his thoughts.

She got curious pair of eyes now. Perhaps, she’s wondering what he’s thinking about.

“They’re all gone now, Scully. The Smoking Man, the Syndicate, even the Rebels…they’re all gone. We won or rather the aliens grew tired of this planet. They couldn’t colonize a planet with depleting resources. The date had been set. That was the truth they were trying to conceal back then. December 12, 2012 was the supposed date of colonization. I saw it myself in Mount Weather, but it got stopped when the aliens pulled the plug. You can have your life back, Scully. We can have our lives back”, he informed her hopefully.

His voice is filled with so much desperation it made her heart aches. She had worked so hard to cut off her former life to start anew and what Mulder is asking from her is to cut off this new one to return to the old her whom she already torn apart. Either way, she loses. The feeling in her that does not want to disappointment or let Mulder down is strong but she’s not as weak as she was before. She has grown. That power of Mulder might still affect her but she has the strength to resist it now.

“Mulder, there will always be a Syndicate and another Smoking Man. There will always be men who will do anything for power and if I return, I will be pit in the middle of all of it once again. I cannot live like that again, Mulder, not when I had a taste of some normalcy in life. Besides, I cannot have my life back. Everything about Dana Scully has been erased. Being Stella Gibson is my life now, Mulder”, she explained.

He looked utterly defeated. Did he expect for her to come with him just like that? She is aware he spent years trying to find her but he’s not supposed to do that. That was not his quest.

“Skinner went crazy when we discovered all of your records have been erased. He was so furious at the boys for helping you. He felt, well, betrayed because he likes you. You’re his friend. He gave me all the time I needed to find you and when it’s taking so long, he stopped asking and he wouldn’t want to hear anyone mention your name because he’s that hurt”, Mulder mentioned.

Stella remained quiet. Of course, her decision affected a lot of people. She can only imagine how Bill reacted to it. She spent time with her mother before she left and was able to explain to her everything but not to her brothers. If Charlie has been estranged to them back then, well, she just topped him by being absent for twelve years.

“I cannot undo everything, Mulder, and I will not because it got the result I was hoping for. Happiness is not one of them. We can’t have it all. You are free to go leave and resume your life, find another truth to seek. I won’t stop you but don’t ask me to drop everything else for you, Mulder, because I have already done that before. I don’t think I can do it again”, she said.

It is too much to ask, way too much.

“I am not leaving. I told you. I will not let you go again, Scully…or Stella, whichever you prefer. I am here to stay. I already wait years to find you. I can wait until you’re ready to open up yourself to me again”, he responded.

Chapter Text

The sex did not happen unlike what they both thought what would happen after the dinner. Their talk went quite deep and none of them are in the mood afterwards to get rough on each other, or rather, Stella was not in the mood to get rough. It’s been a long day for her, not only the case but also the stress he brought with him. It’s not easy for her to deal with someone from her past life coming to her new world. He understood that and he takes what he can get from her. Like he said, he can wait.

He thinks about the sacrifice she made and how much pain she endured in order to make that happen. You don’t just drop everything else and become someone else. You cut off everything from your former life and that includes everyone you ever care for, all the things that make you who you are. You cut them all and throw them away so you can bring yourself to believe you’re a new person. Mulder can see her did that. She transformed herself. Every choice she made was far from Scully. Her hair is different. Her accent is different. Her clothes are different. Everything is different. That took years and years of molding herself into Stella Gibson. It would be unfair of him to ask her to let go of that and come with him after she went through all the trouble of letting go of Scully. That might kill her.

Mulder is willing to do the same sacrifice for her. He knows that now. It would have been different back then because he was the man on the mission twelve years ago. He used to say that there are bigger things than him. His quest was his top priority and though he found the answers he was looking for, it cost him everything he holds dear. If he can only turn back time, he will choose to do that sacrifice so she can keep living her life as Dana Scully with her family.

His thoughts were interrupted when someone knocked on his door. Time flew fast. It’s already past midnight.

“Just a second!” he yelled as he scrambled to put on his shirt.

Stella greeted him at the door. She looked like she just woken up from a bad dream. Her hair is disheveled. She got no trace of make up on her face and she’s on her night robe.

“Scully, what happened? Do you want to come in?” he asked.

She looked distraught and he felt the need to wrap his arms around her but she’s keeping her distance.

“He was in my room”, it was all she said but it’s all he needed to hear to go on full alert mode.

Mulder grabbed his gun and went straight to her room next door. The bed is unmade indication that she got woken up from her sleep. He checked every cabinet, every corner where he might be hiding.

“I already checked, Mulder. He’s not here anymore but he was here”, she said.

She seemed calm but the tremble in her voice tells him something else.

“How can you be sure he was here? Did you see him? Did he hurt you?” he asked.

“I did not see him but he let me know that he was here”, she answered and showed him a journal. “Last entry”, she directed.

Mulder flipped to the last entry on the journal and saw the message the killer left for her. He was definitely in her room while she was sleeping.

“How did he get in here in the first place?” he asked more to himself than her.

“He must have gotten in while we were having dinner downstairs. I don’t know how long he stayed but he got plenty of time to lurk around. He did change my computer’s wallpaper and write in my journal. I wonder why he did not attack me”, she answered.

He frowned at her. He would rather have the killer messed with her computer and her journal than for her to be attacked.

“Do you want me to call it in?” he offered.

It’s not his place since he’s not with the Met and with the PSNI. They did not even know he’s FBI or former FBI agent.

“I already did. I just let you know in case they asked you some questions”, he saw her sigh deeply and pursed her lips, “They’re going to ask for my journal. It will go as evidence”, she said.

Now he understood why she looked distraught. It’s a collection of her private thoughts. He never knew her to be one who keeps a diary but it’s a violation of privacy if it becomes evidence.

“Then tear it”, he suggested.

“Pardon?” she asked.

“He only wrote on one page. It’s a blank page. Tear it from your journal and present that as evidence. No one knows that it came from your journal. It’s just me and you”, he answered.

Tampering with evidence is far from how Stella works but she is torn about letting everyone read her dream journal. It’s bad enough that the killer they are looking for already got a glimpse of it or yet, had read all of it.

“It’s a criminal offense”, she muttered.

“It’s not like we haven’t stepped on so many toes back in the day when it comes to protocols. You’re not destroying the evidence. You’re just taking it from a journal that’s not part of it”, he propounded.

When it’s clear Stella does not know what to do, Mulder grabbed the journal and tore the page where the killer had written. She stared at him with wide eyes.

“Oh, Mulder…”

“Now, if they ask, you tell them it’s me and not you who tore this but I doubt they will ask”, he said.

She simply nodded, grateful for his act of heroism. It was a relief to know that her journal will be safe from prying eyes of everyone at the precinct.

“Thank you”, she muttered and kept her journal away so no one will see it.

Mulder then trimmed the edges of the paper so it wouldn’t be traced back to her journal. He saw how it shook her when she realized she had to surrender her journal as evidence. All he can do is to spare her that ordeal. Her thoughts are private and should remain so. He does not care whether he’s breaking protocols or what. His job is to protect Scully no matter what. He was not able to do for years but he’s here and he’s not messing up.

The cavalry arrived and started working on her hotel room. Eastwood took charge of it and asked for the CCTV footage of the hotel. It was not clear who the killer was because of the cap he’s wearing as well as the black mask. He was aware of the camera and he knew how to hide very well. They all saw at the screen how he picked the lock at her door and went in. Few minutes later, they saw Stella and Mulder walked at the hallway after the dinner. Luckily, none of them made a move to kiss each other goodnight so they’re relationship remained secret from everyone. It took about three hours before the killer left her room which means he’s been there the whole time Stella was showering, getting dressed, and sleeping.

“My suggestion is for you to move to a different hotel”, Eastwood tells Stella.

“I’m not moving”, she declined.

“I don’t think you understand, Stella. He was in your room for three hours. It just shows that he can get to you. He wants you to know that he can get to you”, he argued.

“It’s precisely the point. He did this to taunt me back. If he wanted to kill me or hurt me, Eastwood, I would have been dead by now or in the hospital fighting for my life. I am here. He chose not to do anything except left me a note. I am not his type. Therefore, he felt no compulsion to enact his crime on me. He relished merely on the thought that he was there for three hours without my knowledge and without everyone’s knowledge. It’s a thought of possibility, all the possibilities of what he could have done to me and yet did not do because he has that power. That was it for him and nothing more. I am not changing accommodation. You can post security if you want but I am moving”, she explained.

Eastwood admits admiring her guts but he’s worried in a personal sense. Despite what everyone thinks of her, he saw her heart that time she handled the suicide incident in his office when he froze and unable to do anything. She cares more than she likes to admit and he knows it. She is a human being and not the Ice Queen the others pegged her to be.

“Fine. I will assign two constables to keep an eye on you here but if this happens again, you’re moving out”, he yielded.

“Agreed”, she responded.

The hotel management apologized to her for the slip up in their hotel security. Stella did not make a big deal out of it since she knows the killer will find another way to get to her room whether the hotel got a tighter security than what the currently have. Her room was cleaned after it’s been dust with prints and she was allowed back in. Mulder helped her put her things back to the cabinet and took her case files for the night. It’s been a long day of watching surveillance footage, questioning about what happened before and after they discovered the note. The last thing she needs is to work the night with murder cases. So, he took the files and brought them to his room so he can work on them himself.

Stella did not protest. She was drained. All the invasion of her private room, the inquiries about her activities and the fact that a murdered shared a same room with her for three hours without her knowing is zapping up her energy. Plus, she did not get any sleep since she got woken up by the killer’s note on her journal.

Mulder went on and on about the case, trying to find some details they might have missed. He searched previous reports of domestic violence, robberies, assaults. Something caught his eye that just cannot wait until morning to tell Scully. She would want to hear what he found out so he grabbed the file and went to her hotel room. She had given him an extra card key so he can just get in whenever he wants. It’s their thing even then. They got each other’s spare key so they can let themselves in without bothering the other one. He gave his to her.

“Jim, no…seriously, don’t”, he heard her say.

Does she has company? Mulder considered leaving. Perhaps, she picked up someone down the bar. Wait. She did say Jim. ACC Jim Burns?

“Please, Stella…”, the man said.

“No. Stop. Jim. Stop. No”, she continued to say but there’s an obvious sound of struggled.

That’s when Mulder decided to go to them. He does not care if Scully gets mad at him for intruding. It does not sound good to his ears. What he saw was Scully’s right hand hitting ACC Jim Burns nose causing it to bleed and be dislocated.

“For fuck’s sake!” she exclaimed in frustration.

The anger and annoyance in her tone is so evident, it scares even Mulder. He has seen Scully mad before but this is pure irritation. ACC Burns clutched his bleeding nose and Scully sighed at the sight of it.

“I thought the killer is back”, Mulder let them know his presence.

ACC Burns looked alarmed that someone else saw what he attempted to do with Stella.

“It’s fine, Mulder. We were just talking and Jim slipped, hit his nose”, she lied.

She also knows Mulder knows she’s lying. She only said that for Jim’s benefit. He got so much ego going on and an outsider knowing what he tried will crush what’s left of his resolve.

“Well, that looks bad, sir. Do you want me to take you to the hospital, sir? I can drive you”, Mulder offered just to play along.

Relieved that Mulder seemed to not overhear anything, Jim relaxed and shook his head. The effect of alcohol is fading in his head.

“There’s no need. Age is turning me clumsy. Luckily, I don’t do fields anymore. Thank you for the offer, Mr. Mulder. I can drive myself”, he then turned to Stella. “Thank you for seeing me, Stella. See you at the station”, he said and then leave the two to talk.

Once the coast is clear, Mulder went to Scully’s side right away.

“Are you alright?” she nodded. “What was that all about?” he asked.

“That was Jim relapsing. Apparently, that’s the effect I have on him. He’s just too blind to realize that. I bring out the worst in him”, she answered.

Chapter Text

A failed attempt to murder Annie Brawley greeted Stella when she arrived at the station with Mulder. It was by far the best news she had while working in this case. Her stunt with the press conference had worked. The killer messed up by moving too soon, not anticipating that Annie Brawley’s brother was going to visit his sister which interrupted his attack. It resulted to the brother’s death but Annie Brawley survived and now, they got a witness.

“I want to show it to you last night but things kind of gotten awkward so I waited”, Mulder said and put his computer on her desk.

He turned on a CCTV footage with the view of municipal gardens. Stella saw Sarah Kay walking along. At first, it’s nothing out of ordinary until a man was seen following her. It could be anything. Perhaps, the man was going in the same place as she was but judging how the man was pausing whenever she stopped to talk to someone in her phone or how he seemed to focus on her alone told Stella that it’s their guy.

“Good work, Mulder. Very good work…” she muttered and took her phone. “Dani, get me tech. I have something here that needs to be done asap”, she said and then hung up.

She caught Mulder looking at her with a smile on his face.

“Being a boss really suits you…you know that? You’re good at it”, he expressed.

They used to be partners and though her opinions mattered to him, it was always him who took charge in their cases and she let him because X Files was his life’s work. She respected his authority when it comes to that division. He never got the chance to see her as a leader.

“Thank you but I don’t think the others share the same views as you”, she teased.

They both chuckled. Dani came in with the tech and took her computer to enhance the footage so the can get an I.D. on the man following Sarah Kay at the video. It only took them less than an hour to get a hit.

“We got a hit. The name is Paul Spector. He fits your profile, Mr. Mulder. A family man, two kids, his wife works at the hospital. He is a bereavement counselor”, DS Tom Anderson informed them.

Mulder saw how Stella suddenly became interested with the young detective. He’s not sure whether if he was able to get her interests on his skills in police work or something personal but she’s clearly interested. It may not show to them but he knows her and her body language. He had seen her throughout the years getting the hots for other men during their course of partnership, particularly that Sheriff Buckwell from Dallas who turned out to be a vampire. He is seeing the same demeanor from her now although it’s so discreet only him can see it, well…him and Eastwood who is clearly aware of her proclivities.

“Do you want to bring him for questioning?” Eastwood asked Stella.

She hummed and studied Spector’s picture.

“Yes, but only asked him about James Tyler and her wife Liz. The husband made a complaint to Spector’s boss about his misconduct being their counselor. Don’t mention anything about Sarah Kay or any other murders. Tell him the husband raised the concern to us and nothing more. I want to see what this man is like when he lies”, Stella turned to DS Anderson. “You’re going to question him. Get ready”, she said.

Eastwood suppressed his smile and Mulder hid his annoyance. He cannot help but feel a sting of jealousy for the young detective. He is clearly getting attention from Stella and he does not like it.

“With all due respect, Detective Superintendent Gibson, but I just got assigned to this case. May I ask why you want me to question him?” DS Anderson asked.

Everyone wants to know why she chose him too.

“Similar age, similar height, similar looks…you can practically pass as his twin. I want him to look in the mirror while answering questions”, she answered casually.

That made sense. Mulder did not think about it for a second but DS Anderson actually looked similar to Spector and Stella wanted to use that to further rattle Spector if he is their killer.

“Understood, ma’am”, the young detective acknowledged.

Eastwood is particularly impressed. He has been assigned as her Deputy SIO and he’s been a tremendous help. Plus, he actually likes Stella which made their working relationship easier.

Anderson questioned Spector like what Stella asked while Mulder, Stella, and Eastwood watched at the control room.

“I never thought it would escalate to this level. I am only concern for Mrs. Tyler’s condition”, Spector muttered with puppy eyes.

“According to Mr. Tyler, you’ve been harassing them. You overstepped the boundaries of being their counselor and invaded their privacy by going to their home”, Anderson stated.

It was all part of the script Stella made him memorized. None of it is true. James Tyler did not reach out to PSNI but Spector does not know that.

“I saw evidence that Mr. Tyler was hurting his wife. She’s already in a vulnerable situation with the loss of their son. The last thing she needs is to be abused by her husband who should be the first person that’s meant to protect her”, Spector stated confidently.

“…and you’re certain that it’s her husband who inflicted those bruises, you said you saw on her skin?” Anderson asked.

“Yes. Mrs. Tyler admitted to it”, Spector answered.

“Tell me, Mr. Spector. Why did you go to their house?” he followed up.

Spector breathed in and relaxed his shoulders.

“Mrs. Tyler called me. I came to check on her if she’s alright. I was afraid that something bad happened”, he answered.

Stella pressed the mic to Anderson’s earpiece.

“That would be all, Anderson”, she ordered.

“Well, we’ll look into this and contact you if we have more question. In the meantime, I advise you to keep your distance from the Tyler’s. Though your intentions seem noble, it’s still out of scope of your job”, Anderson obliged.

At the hallway, Stella stood and took her time pacing back and forth as if she’s thinking of something when Paul Spector came out of the interrogation room and saw her there. Her nails still painted red. Her silk blouse is slightly unbuttoned at the top. Her blonde hair is curled to perfection. His eyes immediately latched on to her appearance. She noticed him staring and looked back at him and held his gaze confidently. One of her many acquired skills is being able to make a man feel so small with her eyes. Spector frowned at her audacity and he unconsciously began walking to her direction.

Stella did not step back. She waited, carefully studying his movements, his expression, up until Anderson called him.

“Mr. Spector, that’s not the way out”, the young detective said.

Spector stopped without taking his eyes off Stella and she did the same. She eyed him one last time before turning around and walking away, making sure he saw the way her body swayed and he’s helpless in stopping her.

“What was that about?” Mulder asked.

“Yeah…the man is clearly coming after you. Do you have death wish? We can arrest him now”, Eastwood followed up.

They’re both lurking inside her office.

“We don’t have enough evidence to arrest him. What we have is a footage of him walking in a park. He can have million alibis and I won’t risk tipping him off that we’re onto him by moving too soon. I just want to see him and get a grasp of his personality”, she answered.

“…and you managed to do that?” Eastwood asked.

“He lied about one thing. Liz Tyler did not call him to go to her house that day. He made that up. When he was answering questions, he was serious and passionate about the fact that James Tyler was abusing his wife and that’s fact too but when DS Anderson asked him why he went there, he turned cold. He was still able to look him in the eyes but the sincerity of his words is no longer there. He’s reciting something he already rehearsed bunch of times in front of the mirror and earlier, he’s talking to a mirror”, she answered.

She casually rubbed the red paint off her nails as it already served its purpose.

“Now, what we need is to get evidence to bring him in for the murder”, Mulder muttered.

“Exactly…Eastwood, post surveillance at his house. I need to know everything that’s going on in there. I need to know his routine, his schedule, everything. I want our people following him everywhere he goes. Make sure he won’t suspect a thing”, she ordered.

Eastwood nodded and left to arrange all that, leaving Mulder and Stella in her office.

“You’re inviting him to target you”, she turned to him and then resumed removing her nail polish, “That’s why you let him see you at the hallway. You’re getting to his nerves and putting yourself at risk by baiting him”, he concluded.

“Can you imagine the level of focus he must have while performing his crimes? It’s like a ritual for him, a sacred ceremony. He was determined to prove to us we cannot catch him and so he moved quickly to get Annie Brawley and he fucked up because he moved too soon. Earlier, he let his ego got the best of him and he tried to get to me. He may be smart and experienced but he’s like other men, he nourishes a very huge and oversensitive ego. It’s so fragile, a single nail polish and a defiant look are enough to crack it. His very pride will be his downfall”, she explained.

It bothers Mulder how adept she has become in analyzing the psych of criminals. He has never been confident with dealing in that kind of darkness. That’s why he left VCU and took on the X Files. Profiling took a toll on his mentality and he’s afraid that it will be the same for her.

“Just be careful…doubling is quite dangerous”, he warned.

“I know, Mulder”, she replied.

The operation happened quickly, though some of the officers botched the operation in Spector’s house. Annie Brawley woke up from coma and identified Spector which granted them the reason they need to arrest him.

A phone call was made to Stella’s personal cell.

“You gave him your personal number?” Jim asked in disbelief.

Stella just rolled her eyes around and answered.

“Took you long enough”, she said.

“I called you to say it’s over”, he said.

“It’s never over for someone like you”, she retorted.

“Well, I am walking away”, he informed her.

Stella came to look outside the window.

“I won’t let you”, she said confidently.

“Watch me”, he challenged.

A smile formed upon her lips.

“I am”, she said. The others looked at her puzzled by her calmness. “You fucked up. You moved to get Annie Brawley too soon. You did not do the groundwork. You killed her brother and you failed to kill her. You fucked up and now we’re onto you. Tell me, how do you think your daughter will react when we tell her what her daddy has done? What kind of father she got?” she continued.

“You don’t know a thing about me”, he muttered.

“Your name is Paul Spector and you got a daughter and a son. I hope you can bear to see the look on her face after she learns everything. The very discovery of it might kill her but then again, it’s all your fault. You brought this to yourself”, she pushed.

“Go to hell”, he cursed.

“Save me a spot”, she replied.

DS Anderson and Eastwood approached Spector at the street.

“Paul Spector, you’re under arrest for the attempted murder of Annie Brawley and the murder of her brother”, Anderson declared.

“I told you I will not let you walk away”, she said and then hung up.

Chapter Text

Paul Spector is everything contradictory to what a usual criminal profile would look like. He is a family man after all. His colleagues sing him high praises. Their family is like any other family and yet, there he is inside the interrogation room, being questioned by both Anderson and Eastwood and looking like the whole situation does not faze him. They don’t scare him. His eyes are ice cold. How can a family man become a monster?

Mulder got his attention fixated on the new breed of criminal at the monitor. ACC Burns joined them while Stella is also watching closely like she’s memorizing him.

“You’re wasting your time”, Spector finally said.

“Ah, he speaks”, Eastwood commented.

“I will not talk to you or give you anything. I will only talk to Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and only to her…alone”, Spector demanded.

Anderson and Eastwood stiffened. ACC Burns is ready to talk to their comms to decline the request but Stella beat him to it.

“Tell him I’ll be there ten minutes”, she said.

Mulder heard Anderson repeated what she said to Spector but that sounded far from his ears. Scully just agreed to be alone with a serial killer in a room. What is she thinking? In years they worked together, he never let her be alone with someone dangerous like that, if he could avoid it. It’s against protocol anyway and he does not like the idea of her being by herself like that. He wants to stop her, to tell her it’s not safe, but this is a different Scully. This is Stella Gibson. She left the viewing room to get ready. ACC Burns followed her and Mulder decided to do the same but kept his distance.

“Are you out of your mind? He is a monster, Stella. You can’t do this”, ACC Burns expressed.

Mulder saw Scully is now wearing a red top with low V neckline. Her nails are no longer red but her top compensates for it.

“I think I can, Jim, unless you want to waste time interrogating a man who refused to talk”, she explained.

“…but he is a monster!” he exclaimed.

“Jim, stop. You know it makes no sense to me. Paul Spector is just a man. I’ve seen monsters and he is not a monster. Believe me”, is she referring to their X Files cases? “He is nothing but a man”, she responded followed by a sigh.

“I am a man but I am nothing like him”, ACC Burns muttered.

Stella’s expression changed from understanding to passive.

“Yes, you’re not but still, you it did not stop from coming into my hotel room uninvited and mounted some sort of drunken attack on me”, she snapped.

That felt like a slap for Jim.

“It was not an attack. I just want…I just…”

“You just want what? To fuck me? Nail me? Bang me? Screw me?” she asked with almost a blank expression.

“I wouldn’t use those words on you”, he whispered.

“I was saying no, Jim. It was quite clear and you ignored me. You ignored me and carried on”, she reminded him.

“It’s not the same”, he reiterated.

“No, it’s not”, she picked up her file and walked passed him, “…but you still crossed the line”, she added and walked away.

Mulder quickly left and waited for her at the hallway on her way to the interrogation room.

“You’re not here to tell me I can’t do this either, are you?” she asked when she saw him standing there.

“No. I can say that but I know it will not stop you”, she felt a wave of relief, “…but I am here to warn you that there is a possibility he might turn this around on you. He did see your diary so I want to warn you before you go inside the lion’s den. He seems the type to use information like that against anyone”, he answered.

She appreciates his concern and his professionalism. He did grow up. Back then, he would have stopped her from doing this. He would take over in order to protect her. She can see he still wants to do that but now, he understands that she’s not the same person anymore, that she has grown and she has authority now. He respects her.

“I thought about that but don’t worry, Mulder, I can wiggle myself out of that in case he goes to that direction. Thank you. Are you going back to the viewing room?” she said then asked.

“I was thinking about that but I felt more calm if I stay here, you know…near the room. It’s not for your sake. It’s for mine”, he answered.

It’s for his peace of mind that if something goes wrong, he’s close enough to run to her and get her out of there. She knows that too. She took a tablet from inside the folder she’s holding and gave it to him.

“It’s connected to the system. You can view what’s happening inside through that”, she said and then walked away.

 

---------------------------------

 

To everyone’s surprise, Spector admitted to the murder charges as soon as Stella began questioning him. He’s giving her everything she wants to know. It’s not declaration of defeat, but more of a bragging. He’s bragging about his accomplishments and he chose Stella to be his audience. She maintained a disconnected look on her face while he’s admitting his crimes proudly.

“There is another one, isn’t there?” she guessed.

Spector smirked.

“This station does not deserve you. You’re truly superior than those bunch of potato sacks. You’re smarter than the rest of them”, he commented.

“It’s not that hard to guess. You’re supplying me with everything which is enough to put you away for the rest of your life and you don’t seem to care which means you’re holding off on something very important. This confession is your way of stalling and keeping us occupied. My best guess, this another woman is still alive, probably barely but still alive. You’re satisfaction comes from knowing that you’re the only one who knows where she is and it’s still up to you whether she lives or die…how close am I?” she asked.

Spector is truly impressed. He knows he met his match in Stella from the first time she saw her on television with her painted nails and unbuttoned top. He admired her balls and her instincts. He saw the toughness in her that only life experience will give a person. They may not be on the same level of experiences but there’s no other match for him than her. She lives up to his expectations.

“You’re extremely close. Well done, detective”, he confirmed.

Stella remained calm although she is already boiling inside.

“What’s her name, Paul?” she asked.

“Rose Stagg”, he answered.

“So, she must be different then. All of your victims ended up dead on the first night of your attack but Rose Stagg is still alive when you had all the time in the world to end her life”, she guessed.

“She’s my first love and would be my first ever victim if I had the courage back then but I had not”, he explained.

Stella hummed and continued to tap her fingers on the table which annoyed Spector not because they’re not painted but because she seemed uninterested with the information.

“You know what they say, first love never dies”, she mentioned.

“She will because you will never find her”, he replied.

Stella now opened the file on her desk and pulled a picture from it and slid it over to him. His face turned from smug to surprised, to furious.

“Is that close to resembling Rose Stagg? I believe she is Rose Stagg and no, she’s not going to die because she’s no longer inside the trunk of your car. We already got her out before you even arrived here. Apparently, someone I know knew her and knew her story. We needed to verify if you’re the guy in her story and when we showed her your picture, she identified you as Peter, her ex-boyfriend from long time ago who almost strangled her to death. I put a GPS tracker in her drink after that so it was quite easy for us to track her when her husband reported her to be missing”, she explained.

She is rattling him now. She just threw off his whole plan on stalling and making a show of holding someone a hostage. She took control from him.

“You feel strong now? I guess living under inferiority from your old life caused you to crave control more than you can ever imagine. Tell me, Stella, those emotionless, disconnected sex with strangers don’t fill you up anymore like they used to, do they?” she stiffed. This is the part where he uses what he saw in her diary. “You talk to me like I’m the monster here but you’re just the same as me. We’re both fighting for control and we both get it by using ourselves. How many men have you fucked, Stella? How many have you let touch you? You don’t want them to because that’s surrender. How many lives have you destroyed because you made them want you only for you to dispose them after you got what you needed? We’re not so different after all”, he taunted.

He hit all the target but she did not let it show. She has mastered that skill long time ago. It will take more than Spector taunting her about her sex life to break.

“We are different because you’re under arrest”, she said.

“We’re different because I’m freer than you”, he corrected.

“in what sense are you free?” she asked.

“I have reached a level unknown to you and your kind, to have total control over someone’s life, to see life itself leaves a person’s eyes, to have complete possession”, he answered.

She smirked.

“Yes, you did have total control but you’re still under arrest. You possessed your victims but they’re dead now. You cannot have them and now they’re gone forever and you’re here all alone. Your freedom is nothing more than a lie”, she snapped.

Anger fueled Spector which is far from the man they brought in the station who was proud of himself.

“Fuck you!” he spat.

Satisfied, Stella closed her file and leaned back.

“We got your full confession on record. Better prepare yourself for court proceedings but I am certain it will not take long considering your confession. Admit it. This is just a performance, your desire to be the center of attention. It is why you chose to pose your victims, so you can leave your mark, your own signature. You wanted to world to talk about you. It’s not about control for you. It’s about attention. Well, it’s time for you to grow up, Spector, and take responsibility for your action. At least show your children you have that in you and that you’re not a total monster as the others painted you to be”, she said.

She heard Jim spoke to her about ending the session since they got what they needed. Everyone at the viewing room sounded happy. With that, she took her file and got up to walk away. It’s like a slow motion in Mulder’s eyes as Scully turned around and found Spector behind her. His fist landed solid on her face and she hit the table behind her. He saw another blow hit her and she fell onto the floor. Mulder dropped the tablet on the ground and started running. When he got in, Spector is kicking Stella on her torso. Mulder immediately jumped on him and they wrestled until constables arrived and took Spector away. ACC Burns must’ve caused a scene outside but Mulder does not care. His attention is on Scully who is on the floor, bleeding. She waved him when he tried to help her. She wants to take her time to breathe.

Everyone is shocked by what happened. The DSI Gibson was attacked in their own station and the first to respond was an outsider. Before being brought to the hospital, Stella had asked for them to take a picture of her injury as evidence for the court. Spector just assaulted an officer and it needed evidence of that fact and the best evidence is a picture of a bloody face.

Mulder remained by her side while she’s being treated. He is fuming. He wants to kill Spector for this. He is certain he landed blows on judging by his bruised knuckles but that’s not enough. He hurt his Scully. That’s unforgivable.

“You look like you’re going to kill somebody”, she muttered when she woke up.

“I want to”, he muttered.

“I know but it’s over now. He’s not going anywhere after this. This has sealed his fate. It’s over, Mulder”, she replied.

Chapter Text

Mulder decided to stay with Stella in her hotel room to watch over her. She got beaten up pretty badly and despite of her acting tough, he can see she’s in pain especially after her medication wore off. She was stubborn, of course. She did not want to be coddled but even she knew, she needed help so she stopped protesting and allowed Mulder to take care of her. He made sure she’s well-rested. PSNI gave her time off after what happened since the court hearing is still two weeks away. He made sure she eats on time and he supervised her medications. Getting out of bed is the struggle. After a few days, she managed to go to the bathroom by herself but he remained with her in her room.

“I need to go to work”, she said while they were having dinner.

“Scully, you were given some time to recover. There’s no one rushing you”, he reasoned.

“Mulder, we’re going in a court proceeding. We need to prepare our case against Spector. Despite having his confession and the evidence of him attacking me, we do not have anything on him with regards to the murders aside from the footage of him following Sarah Kay at the park. There’s no DNA evidence”, she explained.

“His confession is very detailed though, Scully, and we got a witness in Rose Stagg. Eastwood paid her a visit and he said that her memory works very well and very much willing to testify against Spector. She’s very pissed. I think that’s enough to send him to rot in prison”, he said.

It is a heavy case and even though Spector hired the best lawyer in Belfast, it is going to be hell getting out of those evidences on him.

“I still need to debrief my team”, she muttered.

“…and you will but not today. You have to rest. You are no good to them if you are in pain”, he reasoned.

She knows he has a point. It’s just hard for her to admit that she needs to back down when the case is not yet over. She badly wants to see Spector in prison for the rest of his life. After everything he’s done, he needs to pay for them. His victims deserve justice.

“Fine. I’m getting better anyway and it does not hurt as much anymore so maybe the day after tomorrow, I can go to the office”, she yielded.

It was good enough for Mulder. It is true that she’s getting better. Bruises don’t bother Scully and he knows that. Even before back in D.C., Scully wore bruises like badges as she walked the hallways of Hoover Building. Heads would turn but she never mind that. She’s proud to work at the X Files and her bruises were symbols of her dedication to her job. It is still the same there. He’s certain she wouldn’t even put concealer on it when she went back to work. She’s not ashamed of it. It’s one of her qualities he admired about her, her strength.

In a few days he stayed with her, the two of them immediately fell into a routine they used to have back in the day. They even started bantering between science and the paranormal. For the first time in years, they felt like being partners once again. Stella is slowly slipping back to being Scully and it is starting to scare her. She can see that he is also getting used to having her back. His quirkiness is back and the sad lines on his face are turning into happy ones. She would be lying if she says she does not like it. She is glad to see him happy again but the thought of the danger of them being together is not far from her mind. He told her those people who hunted them before are now dead but what if he’s wrong? What if there’s more out there? What if it was not over? She is risking the new life she made for herself just by being close to Mulder again. The tall wall she built around herself is beginning to crumble. He is making her soft again.

“Mulder, what are we doing here?” she asked one evening.

She is due to go back to work and she is now certain that they’re going to win the case against Spector. After that, she is due to go back to London. She wants to know what he has in mind.

“We are eating pizza while watching an old movie in your hotel room here in Belfast”, he answered.

“I am serious, Mulder. What is your plan after this? You stuck around because you want to get to know me, you said. Well, the case is coming to an end. I am going back to London after this. What will you do then?” she clarified.

Mulder paused the movie and set his pizza slice down the box.

“I already told I am not going anywhere. I want to come with you to London. Of course, it is still your decision if you want me to go with you but it’s what I want. I cannot lose you again. I mean, I don’t have to live with you in your house. I can find an apartment to rent there. I am no longer with the FBI which means I am a freelancer. I got a good gig. The Gunmen and I put up a consulting agency sort of private investigating agency. It makes good money and the upside, I can do profiling through computer. I am not sure about what the future holds, Scully, but all I know is that I never want to be apart from you again. These last few days had been the best I had in years. I don’t want it to end”, he answered.

In truth, she wants that too. For years, she did not mind living alone. She gotten used to it over time. She comforted herself with emotionless encounter with strangers and professional relationship with her colleagues but no one really knows her, not like the way Mulder does. She’s fine living on her own until now. In a few days Mulder stayed with her, her dependency towards him returned and it made her feel the need for someone. For the first time in years, she does not want to be alone again. She does not think she can go back to being Stella the lone wolf.

“Don’t do this to me, Mulder”, she muttered under her breath.

“What? Needing you? Wanting to take care of you? Loving you?” he asked.

The last part almost melted her. He is really determined into breaking down her walls she spent years building. He is succeeding no matter how hard she tried to stop him.

“I can’t live that kind of life again, Mulder, and I am not just talking about the danger and the conspiracies. I can’t be your second choice again, your fail safe. You say that you need me now. You say that I am your touchstone, your constant, and then another Diana from your past comes along and we’re done. I put you above of everything else in my life, Mulder. I am not sure you can do the same for me”, she reasoned.

The subject of Diana Fowley is a sour one for them and Mulder knew he screwed up in that regards. That’s when he failed to keep his eyes open and trust Scully. It all came back to bite him the ass and by the time he realized his mistake, Scully was already gone.

“Scully, you’re the most important person in my life. I searched for you for twelve years. I know I’ve been an ass before and I let myself get caught with my pursuit for the truth and be blinded by Diana but I learned my lesson. I learned it the hard way. In my quest to find the truth that is out there, I lost you. I did find the truth and it’s not even worth losing you. I will not make the same mistake again, Scully. You’re all I have. If I have to prove that to you every single day, I will. You’re never my second choice or my fail safe. You’re the only one for me”, he declared.

Her rational brain is telling her it is foolish to fall for it again. The last time she let herself be caught up in Mulder’s world, she ended up erasing her entire life just to escape it, but her heart is screaming something else. She used to feel nothing towards men. Everything for her was physical, the primal need to satisfy a craving and nothing more. Mulder awakened her desire to be loved, to love. He always make her feel that way. Why does it have to be him? Her brother’s voice echoed in her brain. It was the same question he used to ask her when it comes to Mulder. Why him? Maybe that’s love. You can never choose who it’s going to be.

“I’m not the same person. You’ve seen that by now and you still want me?” she asked.

“Scully, I have always wanted and needed you. I was just to dumb to acknowledge it”, he answered with a smile.

She breathes in deep.

“Let’s get through this trial first and then, if you still want to come with me to London, we can go”, she proposed.

Mulder smiled from ear to ear.

“I look forward to it”, he replied.

 

-------------------------------

 

Stella returned to work the next day. Eyes followed her, more particularly the bruises on her face. Of course, she did not bother with concealer. First, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about what happened. She was caught off guard and she took a hit. It’s not like it’s the first time and it’s part of working in the law enforcement. Second, it only added weight to the case which is a plus.

“I thought you’re taking some time off”, Jim said to her when he saw walking the hallway.

“I did take some time off, Jim, but I am doing better now and I got a team to prep for the trial”, she responded casually.

He looked at her with such concern. Her bruises bothered him. It annoyed her. He looks at her like she’s some kind of victim and she hate that.

“I can handle the preparation. You should rest”, he offered.

“Jim, I am fine. This is not the first time I took a beating and it won’t certainly be the last. This is our job. I am the SIO of this case and it is my job to prep the team. I appreciate the concern, Jim, but there’s no need to coddle me”, she declined.

“I’m sorry. Of course, you’re right. I was just worried and pissed that you got hurt inside this building when it should be the sanctuary for safety and justice”, he apologized.

She smiled a little.

“It was not your fault or anyone else’s. Spector is his own person. It was his choice and now he’s about to face the consequences of it. We’ll get him and he will pay for all of his crimes”, she assured him.

Stella began prepping the team on how they’re going to present their case in court. Mulder was right. They got a strong case against Spector. It will be a short and easy trial. With the testimony from Rose Stagg, his sentence is ensured. After the meeting, she went to her office to finish the paperwork. Being hospitalized and being confined in her hotel room for days, her paperwork piled up.

“Are you related to Wonder Woman or not?” she looked up to Eastwood who’s standing by the door with his usual smirk. “If I was the one who received that beating, I would stay at home for the rest of the month. Maybe that’s just me being a softie”, he teased.

It made her smile. She knows he’s a bit soft.

“Perhaps, I’m way tougher than you but it wouldn’t be the first time I received a fist to the face so you can say I am used to it”, she said.

“London Met got lots of actions, huh?” he remarked as he sat across from her.

“You can say that but also, I tend to leave my office for field work which resulted with me getting a fist on the face”, she explained.

He chuckled at that.

“I just want to say that you did an incredible job here. You did not have to stay and work on this case but I am thankful that you did. I don’t think we were ever going to catch Spector without you”, he expressed.

He was the first person to ever thank her for her work in the case and she appreciates it. It’s nice to know that someone appreciates what she’s doing.

“You’re welcome and I forgave you for poking on my sex life”, she responded with a raised eyebrow.

He was about to make a retort, but he knows she’s right about his fascination with her lifestyle. It is odd but it’s refreshing.

“You cannot blame for being intrigued but I figured that I won’t be seeing any officers following you around any time soon. Someone already crossed the line between casual to personal”, he commented.

She was going to ask whom he’s pertaining to when Mulder came in with takeout for lunch.

“Oh, I did not know you’re here. I only got enough food for two”, he said and Eastwood turned to Stella with a smirk.

“Speaking of” she glared at him. “I leave you guys to eat. Bon Appetit”, he said and left the room with a smile on his face.

Chapter Text

The trial was a crowd fest. It did not sit well with Mulder how the media trashes Scully. Of course, she maintained a cold façade and blank expression but it’s part of her process. She does that to avoid showing weakness in public. She is the head of the investigation team. Just because she’s a woman it does not mean she has to weep because she got beaten up by Spector or she has to cry for his victims. He is pretty sure she did that already in her private time. Scully is not entirely made of brick. Still, instead of trash talking her and spitting mean words on her way, they should be grateful because if it was not for her, Spector would still be out there roaming around Belfast, hunting women to strangle to death.

She is not bothered by it all. She even told him to avoid watching the news or reading the newspaper. Apparently, she knows how media in Belfast works. They like to put someone in the pedestal and then tear that person down.

It is agonizing inside the courtroom. Each of the officers who encountered Spector and was part of his arrest took the stand. It was determined that Rose Stagg will take the stand last so Stella was next. Mulder sat nervously with Eastwood. He does not like it when people are grilling her. They did to her back in the FBI. He had to walk into her being in the center and questioned by bunch of people. She has anxiety when it comes to being scrutinized but she hides perfectly well. He can say that she still has that now but she gotten better in concealing it.

“She’s going to do just fine”, he turned to Eastwood, “…there is no one better to be there than her. She knows the case inside and out and she was the one who got Spector”, the man assured him like he can sense his own anxiety.

“Thanks, man”, Mulder said.

“Detective Superintendent Gibson, why were you assigned here in Belfast by London Metropolitan Police?” the defense counsel started.

“PSNI reached out for help. The Monroe case, as it was known at the time, had been left unresolved for months so I was sent to do a 28-day review on the case”, she answered calmly.

“…and you stayed. Why?” he followed up.

“I found out that there was a prior murder before Alice Monroe, a woman named Fiona Gallagher. She had the same built, same age, same professional background as Alice Monroe and though she was not posed like Ms. Monroe, she too died of strangulation. It was also left unresolved. I came into conclusion that we have a serial killer on the loose and it was later on confirmed when Sarah Kay was murdered who also fit the killer’s type. After that, I offered to take on the case to bring justice to those women”, she answered.

There was a silence in the room. No one talks about death so openly and casually like her and it threw most of the men in the room to hear it in a woman’s voice.

“The killer you meant Mr. Paul Spector, whom you had arrested without a trace of evidence that will connect him to those murders you mentioned. There was no DNA evidence, no witnesses at the crime scenes, no proof at all”, he argued.

“There was no DNA evidence because he did not perform an actual sexual act on his victims. It’s more psychological than that. He bathed them after they were dead and washed the linens to erase any DNA evidence that will be traced back to him. After that, he would dry up their bodies and pose them on their beds like dolls so he could take pictures of them but not before he painted their nails and cut some strands of their hair. That ritual was more powerful than leaving his semen in their bodies”, she explained.

People grew even more uncomfortable but not the families of the victims. They were eager. Stella is their voice in order to achieve the justice they deserved.

“How can that be more powerful?” the counsel asked.

“…because it was about possession. It was about having complete control over someone’s life and having the power to decide when and how that person dies. It’s about having to cause death and be in the front row as life leaves that person’s eyes. It is more intimate than sex. The sensation is more powerful, like drugs. That’s why he kept coming back for more like an addict because he was chasing the same high of the experience. The whole posing the bodies were just for show, his way of calling for attention…a performance”, the last part she directed towards Spector who was there watching her intensely with fury in his eyes.

“…and how else would you know that? Are you a psychiatrist?” the counsel asked mockingly with a chuckle.

“asshole…” Eastwood muttered under his breath.

“I am”, the arrogant lawyer stopped chuckling, “I am also a doctor. I have a degree in both Physics and Anthropology. I did residency in Forensic Medicine and Psychiatry. I did not take the licensure for it but yes, I am quite familiar with psychological diagnosis”, she snapped in still a casual way.

Mulder looked intensely proud. That’s my Scully, he wanted to say but chose not to.

“Well, with all that credentials under your belt, one will be surprise that you lack moral integrity. Here you are accusing my client of murder and psychopathic mindset when you yourself has an compulsion for sleeping with a married man!”, he exclaimed.

“Objection! How is that even related in this case? The counsel is now attacking personal life of Detective Superintendent Gibson which is not part of this matter”, the PSNI lawyer expressed.

Mulder felt himself boiling. He looked at her looking for any sign of uncomfortable demeanor, but he found none. She was rather calm and at ease.

“Counsel, please refrain from straying from the subject of this case”, the judge ordered the defense.

Feeling satisfied thinking he rattled Stella a bit, he shrugged and cleared his throat to continue.

“Can you tell this court how you figured out it was Paul Spector who killed those women?” he asked proudly.

“There was a footage discovered of him following the third victim Sarah Kay in the park. Of course, it could be easily dismissed as coincidence but he fit the profile we have of the suspect, a family man, have a decent job, looking ordinary which allowed him to hide in plain sight. We did not want to take our chances so we invited him to the station to question him on a different matter which concerned a patient of his as bereavement counselor”,

“Mr. and Mrs. Tyler? That is in no connection of the case. Why would you question him on that?” he interrupted.

“I did not intend to get answers for that particular matter. I just want to see what he looks like when he lies. I want to get a good sense of him, his mannerisms, the way he talks, the way he expresses himself when being interrogated”, she answered.

“…and that lead you to believe he was the killer?” he asked.

“Personally yes, but that wouldn’t be enough for his arrest. We let him go but put surveillance outside his house. We got a green light to arrest him when Annie Brawley, the would-be fourth victim but survived his attack woke up from the coma and identified him. Positive identification from the victim is enough warrant to arrest him but before that, he decided to call me on my personal cell to gloat and say goodbye. We have evidence of that call made from his cell to mine. That’s when he was arrested as he was walking away. We also recovered evidence of photos he took from the victims. It was in his house, hidden on top of the ceiling in his daughter’s bedroom along with a notebook where he sketched figures of women with violent fantasies written on it. We already submitted that in court”,
The PSNI lawyer handed a copy to the judge and he looked at it with dismay and anguish.

“…before he was brought in custody, Rose Stagg was reportedly missing. She was apparently a friend of one of the pathologist working on this case and she shared to me how an ex-boyfriend of hers back in college tried to strangle her to death. I had the chance to talk to her and positively identified Spector but with the name Peter. She was his first love and his would-be first victim but failed. All of his succeeding victims resembled her. She was the model. I slipped a GPS tracker into her drink as a fail safe”,

“…an unauthorized method of investigation and violation of rights”, he interrupted her again.

“…and the method that saved her life. As soon as she was reported as missing, we tracked using the GPS tracker and found her inside the trunk of Spector’s car, barely alive. We also recovered a video footage of Spector with Rose Stagg. When she came to, she confirmed that it was him who took her and tried to end her life. Those were enough to lead everyone to believe he was the killer but if those weren’t enough, we also have a recording of his own confession while I was questioning him. He admitted to everything including the abduction and attempted murder of Rose Stagg”, she finished.

“Detective Gibson, may I ask about the bruises on your face? How did you get those?” the judge asked her.

“I got them from Paul Spector, Your Honor, during the interrogation. I was just about to leave the room when he came at me and hit me on the face before kicking me on my body when I fell onto the floor. I got photos of the injuries I sustained and a medical report from the hospital”, she answered without any hint of emotions on her voice.

Then, she was done testifying. Spector glared at her as she stepped down the stand. They played the video clip recovered in the trunk of the car where Rose Stagg was found followed by Spector’s confession with Stella. After a short break, Rose Stagg took the stand and narrated everything from her relationship with Spector years ago to her abduction. They waited hours for the jury to give the verdict and it was guilty. Spector is now a convicted murderer with a life sentence.

The families of his victims rejoiced at the justice served while Spector’s family cried. One in particular was Katie Benedetto. She got Stella’s attention and she quickly understood of her affection towards Spector. Anderson informed her that Katie worked as babysitter for the family and thanks to their tech team, they discovered Spector sending videos to the young girl of himself pleasuring himself. Katie recently lost her father and Stella can understand the need to seek attention in other ways. Katie is on the phase of rebellion and she happened to cross path with a serial killer. Eastwood and Anderson promised that they will see to it she gets the professional help she needs.

“Are you okay?” Mulder asked her while they’re on their way back to the station.

She’s been quiet since after the judgment has been rendered. He’s not sure whether she’s happy about the result or not.

“Exhausted…it’s all catching up to me now”, she answered.

For weeks, she’s filled with adrenaline from hunting a killer. Now, it’s all done. Her energy has been zapped.

“We better get your things and head back to the hotel so you can rest”, he said.

 

--------------------------------

 

PSNI

Ferrington helped in cleaning up Stella’s office. She had just finished submitting her final report on the case and it’s the last piece of her work as SIO on the case.

“Are you going back to London, ma’am?” the young officer asked.

“Yes”, she answered.

“Well, I am not one for dramatics but I am really going to miss you, ma’am. Thank you for trusting me and believing in me”, Ferrington hugged the surprised Stella.

It was on time that Mulder got in the office and saw the women hugging. Ferrington saw him and smiled.

“He’s a very good man, ma’am”, she then whispered to her ears before pulling back and leaving the two of them.

“All set?” he asked.

There’s not much to pack. All she brought in was a suitcase and her computer. She also got an overnight bag. That’s all to it.

“Yes, I guess so”, she answered.

Mulder grabbed her computer and files while she carried her suitcase. They were about to leave the building when a panting Anderson caught up with them.

“What is it, Anderson?” she asked.

“It’s Spector”,

“Please tell me he did not escape”, Mulder muttered.

“No, but he did in a way. He hung himself. He’s dead”, Anderson answered.

“Fuck…” she cursed.

Chapter Text

Stella rushed in the hospital to verify what Anderson had told her. Of course, he did not suspect him of lying as he does not have any reason to do so but she wanted to make sure and see it for herself. The nurses rolled out his dead body after the doctors failed to revive him. She saw the dark bruises around his neck indicating what he did in order to escape his fate. He was going to prison for the rest of his life. He couldn’t bear the fact that there’s nothing else for him after he was found guilty. The high he kept on chasing, the power he got from killing, will just be a memory for his sick brain and he couldn’t live with that. Moreover, he couldn’t live with the fact that he lost.

It was a shock to everyone but Spector did not get any sympathy from the public. To them, a monster just died and they felt a sense of relief. Peace has been restored in their neighborhood. To Spector’s family, it’s another story. In a matter of three days, Sally Ann Spector thought she and her children will be better off to join their father in the afterlife. She couldn’t live with the shame Spector put them through. Her kids had to stop going to school after being bullied by the other kids when they learned what kind of man their father was. Sally Ann lost her job too so they had to move back to her mother. It was the shame, the shock, the anger of being made a fool of that drove a mother to take her two children in her car and drove all the way to the ocean so they can all die together.

“You sent these to her?” she muttered when she saw the summons sent to Sally Ann prior to the incident.

Apparently, she was being charged as an accessory to Paul Spector’s crimes. The police wanted to drag her to court since her husband got away easily.

“She’s been married to the man for years. It’s impossible for her not to know of his activities”, Jim explained.

“I’m sorry but that is subject to prove, sir. Just because she’s married to him does not mean she was aware of his activities at night. Spector got an alibi”, Mulder interrupted.

Jim glared at him but Mulder was not bothered by the man’s jealousy.

“It was not just me. It was the entire board”, Stella pinched the top of her nose bridge and took a deep breath, “We’re not throwing her to prison right away. It was a summon so she could explain herself”, he went on.

“She just learned that the father of her children killed three women, attempted to murder another two and hid a bag full of evidence at the top of the ceiling of her daughter’s bedroom. That husband was found guilty and committed murder by hanging himself. She miscarried. She lost her job, her kids dropped out of school. She’s been put to shame and other hateful treatment and you served her with summon for a crime charge as accessory to her husband’s crime…and here I wonder what drove her into sinking her car into the ocean”,

“Stella…it’s not just me”, Jim tried to absolve himself.

“Well, you can now add attempted murder to her list of charges”, she snapped and walked away from him.

Mulder stumbled walking after her. In the time he’s been with her throughout the case, this is the first time he saw her cry. She’s been beaten up by Spector and she did not shed a single tear from the pain. When he saw her eyes water, he knew where that pain was coming from.

“Scully…are you alright?” he asked even though he already knew the answer.

“A mother just tried to kill her two children. They are two young children, Mulder. She’s so down that she thought they’re better off dead”, now, she’s sobbing, “Spector has been dead for days now and he’s still ruining lives of the people who he came across with. Those children will be forever scarred and I don’t think their mother will ever recover”, she expressed.

He did not respond. There’s nothing else for me to say. Everything she just uttered was true. The whole scandal was too much to bear for Spector’s family and they’re the ones who suffered the consequences of his actions, not him. He got off easy but his family did not. Instead, he held her arms and pulled her into his. He does not care if they’re in the office. Let them see, he thought. Scully is hurting right now and they’re not helping. All he cares about is making her feel better. He hates seeing her cry.

She did not protest. She usually does not want any display of affection at a workplace but it’s Mulder, and frankly, she needs him right now. She had met Spector’s daughter once and she reminded her of Emily. She imagined her daughter suffering the same fate as Olivia Spector. Her brother is even younger than her. They were innocent. Sally Ann was innocent. They shouldn’t be the ones suffering because of Spector’s sins. It frustrates her to the core that Jim couldn’t see that. The PSNI is turning this whole thing into a political game. They made a spectacle in putting Spector to jail but then he got off easy so they turned their heads to his family. For them, someone has to pay the price even though they’re innocent. Just because his blood runs on them, just because she married him…it’s not fair.

“Can you come with me, Mulder? I need to see someone”, she muttered and she felt him nod.

“Anywhere, Scully…anywhere…” he answered.

 

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HOSPITAL

Stella and Mulder walked into the hospital. She’s been familiarized with every corner of the place since she started working on the case. Even the nurses already knew her.

“I’m here to see Olivia Spector”, she said at the front desk.

Mulder already knew who she’s going to see in there. He guessed when he realized they’re going to the hospital. She needed to see her in person, for her peace of mind, or rather lack thereof. He did not say anything. He let her.

The nurse ushered them to where Olivia and Liam are and the sight almost breaks Stella’s heart right there. Olivia is awake but she got a vacant look in her eyes. Liam, on the other hand, is still unconscious like his mother. The nurse explained to her that due to lack of oxygen to their brain after being underwater for so long, the two went into a coma. Stella is familiar with the condition as she is a medical doctor herself but she did not say anything. She just stared at the poor boy connected to all apparatuses bigger than him while his sister is watching over him, helpless to save her brother. Sally Ann is in the ICU.

“Olivia”, she called as she walked towards her.

She stopped few steps away from the girl just to provide adequate distance. She does not want to startle her or make her feel agitated. Olivia did not respond but she did turn to Stella. She saw the sadness and complete sense of loss in her eyes. For such a young age, she should not be going through this situation. She should be enjoying her life as a kid, making friends, learning at school, creating memories, not sitting on a hospital bed waiting for her mother and brother to wake up.

“I’m sorry”, is all she can ever say to her.

It’s not her fault, of course, but if she did not come into their lives, her father would still be alive, her mother and brother would be talking to her right now. She would have her life back. Stella expected for the girl to be mad at her. Olivia was aware of her involvement in her father’s arrest. She was there when she visited Spector but instead of lashing out, the young girl stretched out her arms towards her asking for some comfort her family couldn’t give her right now.

Her feet moved involuntarily towards her and wrapped the young girl into her arms. As Olivia held on tighter, Stella controlled her emotions harder. The dam is threatening to break. It is too much. Mulder stayed behind her, keeping his distance from the girls. The whole picture reminded him of Scully watching over Emily while she was on her hospital bed. She was desperate at the time for a daughter she just met. She fought the hospital doctors and even the Social Services for Emily. She tried to fight for her life but in the end, she died. Olivia is not dying, not physically at the very least, but her childhood is. It is certain that she cannot continue being young girl that she was anymore. Life has forced her to mature quickly. She’s been robbed.

“Your mother will wake up, sweetie, as well as your brother”, Olivia looked up at her, “You wanna know why?” she nodded, “…because they’re strong just like you and because they love you. They would not want you to be alone. They will miss you so much so they will wake up”, she said.

It’s a tough promise but it’s the only thing she can say to her to keep her hopes up. She has to have something to live for. She is already fragile. She needs something to motivate her.

“Will you stay?” she finally spoke.

“I wish I can, darling. Your grandmother will be here this afternoon. I called her on the way here and she’s going to stay with you until your mother and brother wake up”,

Olivia’s eyes returned to being sad again. Stella took something from her pocket and handed it to her.

“That’s my number. If you ever feel sad or wanting to talk to someone, call me anytime of the day and I mean it. Call me. If you need help, I’m here. Don’t keep it all inside. If you can’t share it with your family then share it to me. It is important for you to remember that you’re not alone, Olivia. There are people in this world that still care about you and you can include me on that list”, she said.

The girl smiled briefly, comforted by the thought that there’s someone she can talk to in case she needed one.

 

-------------------------------

 

They did not come back to the station. Stella insisted on leaving. He knows she couldn’t bear talking to ACC Burns anymore because of the charges they put on Sally Anne. They packed up their things at the hotel before hopping on his rental and drove to the airport. She did not ask him again about his decision to stay with her in London. It’s decided.

The flight was quiet. She fell asleep on his shoulder and he did not try to disturb her sleep. The hunt for the killer is over but the toll it had on her is not. She’s going to be haunted by the whole experience, but Mulder is going to be there for her as she goes through it. He’s not going to leave her. He will help her. When they’re nearing the airport, he gently ran his fingers on her face. She looks so peaceful and if he can prolong the flight so she can rest, he would. Slowly, she opened her eyes and found his.

“I fell asleep. I’m sorry”, she muttered as she straightens herself up.

“It’s alright. We’re almost landing”, he replied.

“Finally”, she sighed.

 

------------------------------

 

LONDON

Mulder was surprised to see that her apartment bigger than what she used to have in Washington. Upon walking inside, he noticed a huge difference between her former place and her current one. Her apartment in D.C. was lighter. The one she has in London is enclosed, dark, silent. A pool of her mail greeted them. It’s a testament on how long she’s been away. He helped her gathering them and she asked him to put on the table at the kitchen.

She immediately opened her cupboards and took out a bottle of wine and poured on two glasses.

“Thanks”, he said when she handed him his glass.

“I’m afraid I don’t have anything on the fridge”, she said and took the seat next to his.

“Pretty sure London offers variety of pizza delivery”, he teased.

Her mind took her back to the time when they would just sit by his couch and they would watch old movies and eat pizza. Simpler times.

“That sounds great. My television is so much better than yours”, she teased back.

They both laughed. His hand founds hers above the table and he gave it a gentle squeeze.

“I’m here, Scully. I’m not leaving you”, he said.

“I know and I don’t want you to leave either”, she replied.

Later that day, he called for pizza while she set up her entertainment room and together, they fell back to their routine sitting side by side with her head resting on his shoulder until she fell asleep in his arms.

 

~~FIN~~