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TITLE: Twist of Fate
AUTHOR: Gabi Fisher
SPOILER WARNING: I don't think there are any in this one.
CLASSIFICATION: A, UST, AU
SUMMARY: Scully visits her doctor and Mulder finds help in an unexpected place.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Mulder, Scully, Samantha, or any other character, place, thing, idea from the X-Files. CC, FOX, 1013, and the wonderful DD and GA do. No infringement intended. I do own a few characters, so please don't take them.

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After only a few hours of restless, unsatisfying sleep, Scully woke up and turned on her coffee pot. She got up much earlier than she usually did, too tired to begin to get ready for work, though too worried and wound up to go back to sleep. Scully nervously paced in her small living room in time to the rhythmic dripping of the coffee pot, her arms around her waist like she was trying to hug herself.

Scully did not notice that she had started crying, not even when her tears slid off her chin onto her chest, until she was choking on her breaths. Scully sank to her knees as if the weight of her sobs had pushed her down. Her anguished sobs slowly quieted as the aroma of coffee filled her small apartment, leaving only her silent cries and shaking shoulders.

Eventually, Scully stood up, dried her face, and picked up the phone. After glancing at the clock to make sure it wasn’t too early, she dialed a number she knew from memory and the voice on the other end of the line made her feel marginally better, "A.D. Skinner."

"Good morning, Sir, this is Agent Scully," Scully said, doing her best to keep all emotion out of her voice.

"Good morning, Agent Scully. What can I do for you this morning?" he asked.

"Well, I really wasn’t feeling good at all this morning, and I wanted to call in sick because I would be of no help if I did come in today."

Skinner was silent for a moment before agreeing. "That’s fine, Agent Scully. I hope you feel better soon."

"Thank you, sir. I’ll see you tomorrow," Scully said before they exchanged good-byes. She suspected Skinner knew something was up with her—Scully never called in sick unless… unless she was really sick—but thankfully Skinner had not said anything if he thought anything was wrong.

Scully sniffled, telling herself not to cry, and poured herself a cup of coffee, adding only a little hazelnut-flavored creamer.

She went back into her bedroom, pulled her fluffy comforter up to almost her chin, and rested her mug on her drawn-up knees. While gazing out the window at the rising sun, she sipped slowly from her steaming mug.

* * *

Expecting Scully to be in the office early as always, Mulder arrived earlier than he usually did so that he could talk to her. To his surprise, she was not there and neither was her brown briefcase that always resided in front of the path his feet took to get to his desk, frequently causing him to trip. Mulder frowned and sat down with the intent of looking over the stack of papers sitting on his desk until Scully walked in. Mulder got involved in his work, expecting the click-clack of Scully’s shoes to echo down the corridor any moment to interrupt him, and did not look up at the clock until an hour had passed.

Figuring that she was just running late, he waited another half an hour. When she still didn’t show up, he decided to call her; see where she was. He tried her cell phone first, but got the operator telling him that the phone he was trying to reach was turned off. Then he tried her house and got the answering machine. He started to leave a message when Scully picked up the phone.

"Mulder?" she asked.

"Yeah, where are you, Scully? I was expecting you here an hour ago," he said.

She sniffled slightly and responded, "I wasn’t feeling good today and called in sick. I was going to call you as soon as I got out of the bath."

"Oh, OK. I’m sorry I interrupted you. I’ll let you get back to your bath. Feel better."

"Thanks. Talk to you later," Scully said softly before hanging up the phone. Scully could think of no logical reason why she told Mulder she had been in the bath; she was not even planning on taking a bath. It was as if the words had just pushed their way out of her mouth, unbidden. Still in her robe, Scully just stood by the table that the phone sat on and stared at it, as if sheer will could make it ring. She wasn’t even sure why she wanted it to ring or who she wanted to be on the other end of the line. She just wanted someone to talk to. Someone to tell her secret fear to.

The phone did not ring.

* * *

As soon as Mulder was able to stop worrying about Scully, he once again began to worry about Samantha. Since he would not be able to talk with Scully, it would be a perfect time to have that talk with Skinner about Samantha.

To Mulder, the elevator ride seemed especially long and lonely. He stepped out of the elevator and into Skinner’s anteroom, but Nicole, Skinner’s secretary, was out. Hoping that Skinner did not have company, Mulder opened the door to Skinner’s office and announced, "I needed to talk to you and your secretary was out, sir."

"Can it wait, Agent Mulder? I am busy at the moment," Skinner stated, obviously irritated. He was in the middle of signing some documents at his desk and looked up at Mulder, who took that as an invitation into the office.

"No, sir," Mulder answered, placing the palms of his hands on Skinner’s desk, causing further irritation. "I want to know what you know about Samantha," Mulder demanded.

"I don’t know anything about your sister. What are you talking about? Why would I know anything about her?" Skinner asked warily.

"Because you always deal with Cancer Man and he took Sam again."

"What do you mean again?" Skinner asked, ignoring the first part of what Mulder said. There was no point in denying it, though Mulder obviously had the wrong impression about their ‘relationship,’ if that was the right word for it.

"For some reason Cancer Man contacted Samantha, given her my phone number, and then she called me, asking me to meet her Saturday morning. Not long after we met, I left the table for a minute, and when I returned, she was gone. The waitress described the man she had disappeared with as Cancer Man. And I want to know if you know anything about that," Mulder repeated, his anger seeping into his words.

"As I said before, I don’t know anything about your sister, her whereabouts, or Cancer Man’s plans, whatever they might be."

Without another word, only one last glare in Skinner’s direction, Mulder stormed out of Skinner’s office. He had predicted that Skinner wouldn’t tell him anything, whether he knew anything or not about Samantha. Now Skinner would either tell Cancer Man that Mulder was suspicious or be really pissed at Mulder for quite some time. Not that either of those were new or anything to him…

‘Back to square one,’ Mulder thought as he punched the B button in the elevator. Rarely did his emotions cloud his ability to think, but he had never been this close to Samantha. Never been so close to having her in his life, only to have her taken away again.

Mulder was startled to see an auburn haired woman in his office, her back towards the door, looking at his "I Want to Believe" poster. His first thought was that Scully had come in after all, but after a second glance, he saw that the woman in his office was too tall to be Scully. She was probably around 5’ 8" and was also wearing two inch heels, making her height near Mulder’s. Her auburn hair was tucked neatly into a French twist. Her royal blue skirt and jacket complemented her hair color. Her super-professional look slightly intimidated Mulder.

"May I help you?" he asked the woman, causing her to jump.

By the time she had turned around to face him, however, she was composed, having recovered from the surprise of Mulder's voice. "No, but I think I can help you, Agent Mulder," she replied calmly.

When she didn't say anything more, Mulder encouraged her on by saying, "How would you be able to help me? What could I possibly need from you?"

"Information about you sister."

Mulder froze. "What do you know about Samantha? Do you know where she is?"

"I do not know her exact location, though I think I could help you find her," the woman paused. She looked directly at Mulder, her icy pale blue eyes unwavering, as if she already knew his weakness. "If you'll trust me."

* * *

Scully had long since stopped crying, but had stayed in bed for quite a while after Mulder’s call. Finally, Scully took a long, hot shower which did little for her tensed muscles. She dressed slowly after she got out of the shower. She pulled her hair into a ponytail and did not bother to put on any makeup. She was just too tired to.

With a shuddery sigh, Scully gave herself a little pep talk and got in her car, ready to go to the hospital. The ride to the hospital was uneventful, and the looming clouds that gathered in the sky mirrored the way she felt.

As Scully walked through the automatic sliding doors that led into the hospital, the crisp, sterile smell assaulted her nose. She had always felt that the gleam of frequently sterilized steel, starched lab coats on the many doctors that walked through the halls, and smell of disinfectant gave the hospital an impersonal feeling, as if they were just test subjects in a scientists’ laboratory, their feelings unimportant to the test conductors. Scully’s doctor, however, made her office as pleasant as possible, which made Scully feel somewhat better.

Scully's oncologist, Dr. Nicole Barta, had a small office on the second floor of the hospital. The receptionist greeted Scully warmly, as she did all patients of Dr. Barta. Scully offered a meek smile in reply and sat down in one of the uncomfortable waiting room chairs. After a ten minute wait, the nurse called Scully's name.

She led Scully to room three, took Scully's history, and told her that the doctor would be able to see her in a few minutes. Scully sat restlessly, wringing her hands nervously.

"Hi, Dana," Dr. Barta greeted Scully as she walked in, not long after the nurse left. Dr. Barta had a way of getting people to begin to explain their problems without urging them on, as Scully had learned.

Scully once again offered a small smile of greeting and began to explain why she was there. "For several weeks, I have been having nosebleeds, but they have been getting more frequent these past few days. I have had very little energy since the nosebleeds started, and am always exhausted. I'm just afraid that…" Scully didn't--couldn't--finish her sentence.

"And you are afraid that your cancer may be back. I understand. It does sound like your symptoms before, so I’d like to have some tests done before I make any kind of diagnosis. If it is alright with you, I can probably get started now…" Dr. Barta said after glancing at the chart in her hands.

Without hesitation, Scully agreed. Dr. Barta left the room, giving Scully privacy so that she could change into a hospital gown.

* * *

"Who are you? Why would you want to help me? What do you want out of it?" Mulder shot questions at the tall redhead.

"You can call me Skye, though you have no need for any further information about myself. I want the same thing you do: the Truth to be revealed. I can not do it myself, but can help you to," the woman, Skye, said, conceding no more that absolutely necessary to answer Mulder’s questions in a way that would satisfy him.

Unconvinced, Mulder asked, "Why should I believe you? The last person who claimed to want to help me only told me half-truths. What reason do I have to believe that you don’t do the same?"

"The last person who tried to help you was not willing to give up anything for you. I am not even sure why he bothered to help you at all. I have nothing but my life to lose, and even that is not worth much. If nothing else, I ask that you give me a chance to prove myself to you. Listen to me just this once, and if you feel I have lied to you or deceived you, just tell me and I will never offer my help again," Skye said, sounding very sure of herself.

Mulder contemplated her offer, which seemed genuine, and figuring he had nothing to lose, agreed.

Skye handed Mulder a folded piece of paper. "See if anyone knows where the occupants went or if they saw anything. When you return, I will contact you."

Skye walked out of the office with quick, brisk steps, leaving Mulder to unfold the paper and see what information it held about Samantha.

It read:

 

1130 North Chestnut St.

Crystalline, New York

The address as well as the city were unknown to Mulder, though very soon he would no longer be such a mystery.

* * *

The unmistakable ring of a cell phone sent the few men in the warehouse’s main room to their pockets. After determining it wasn’t theirs, they went back to what they were doing.

One man paused long enough to confirm that it was, indeed, his phone that was ringing before removing his hands from the steel rails on the gurney and removing the phone from his pocket.

"Yes," the Cigarette Smoking Man said into his phone; the one that rang.

Without identifying himself, without needing to, the man on the other end of the line began talking, "Mulder just bought a plane ticket to a city twenty miles west of Crystalline. I think he may be on to you."

"Thank you for the information. I will deal with the situation immediately," he replied, hanging up and pulling the last cigarette out of the box he removed from his pocket, throwing the empty box into the trash can by his desk, and lighting it.

"We have a problem," he announced to the men in the warehouse before taking a puff on his cigarette, making sure all eyes were on him. "It appears that Mulder may have figured out our location. We must move immediately."

The men began shouting out questions. "How did he find out?" "How do you know this?" "How much time do we have?" "Where are we relocating to?"

The man exhaled a cloud of smoke and chose which of the questions to answer. "Mulder is most likely on his way here as we speak. I have another warehouse, a back-up in case a situation like this occurred, about two hours driving from here. That will be temporarily used until we can find a better place, farther from here so that Mulder will not be able to find us again."

When no one moved, he ordered, "Let’s get moving! We must evacuate this building within half an hour. You have a lot of work ahead of you and I would recommend starting right away."

Once again lowering his gaze, he gently pushed back a strand of hair from the woman’s pale face who lay on the gurney. Because of the drugs she was being administered, she was oblivious to the activity buzzing around her. She had no idea how close she was to seeing her brother again, nor would she ever know. She would have no recollection of ever having met him and obtaining her brother’s phone number or of even meeting her brother. The past week or so would be a black hole in her mind, sucking up any thoughts that were a potential danger to her hidden memories. Convenient amnesia.

Sending her to Mulder had been a test. A test to see how well the memory blocks held up if she was exposed to someone as important as family that she was not supposed to remember. The test had failed and the Smoking Man knew that he would have to once again relocate her family and make sure that she was kept far away from any memory triggers. Mulder was most definitely a trigger. It was too dangerous for him. It would mean that she could remember everything that had happened to her. He could not let that happen.

* * *

With only a hastily packed overnight bag, Mulder boarded the plane to New York. From past experiences he had learned never to delay. People, witnesses, as well as evidence could quickly be disposed of if any warning was given. Mulder had learned that the hard way many times. Ironically enough, most of those experiences could be attributed to X, his last informant.

Just a little over an hour and a half had passed from the time Skye had handed him the paper until he was boarding the plane. Mulder hoped that if that address was where Samantha was being kept that whoever was keeping her would not have a chance to be warned about his arrival and he would be able to find her.

Mulder had just finished signing his rental car papers when his telephone rang. "Mulder," he answered.

"Where are you?" Scully asked.

"New York. Why?"

He thought he heard Scully sigh, but he couldn’t be sure. "I thought you would have been in the area. I wanted you to bring me an overnight bag from my apartment, but I’ll just have my mother bring it." Scully did not add that she wanted his support. She wanted him there with her because she didn’t think she was strong enough to deal with a hospital stay by herself.

"Why? Where are you?" Mulder asked, beginning to get worried.

"I’m checking myself into the hospital so that I can have some tests run. My cancer may have gone out of remission," Scully replied quietly.

‘No, not that. Scully can’t be sick again. She can’t die. I need her too much,’ Mulder thought. The thoughts swirled around and around in his head until one escaped his lips: "No, that can’t be. That’s impossible."

"No, Mulder. It is possible. Very possible." To Mulder, she sounded sad, scared, and void of hope.

Mulder’s heart clenched. He was forced to make a choice that he had been forced to make in the past and would be forced to make again in the future. Samantha or Scully?

Unsure which was the better choice, ignore a chance to look at the evidence of Samantha that could be gone within hours or not be there for Scully when she needed him, Mulder hesitated before answering. Though it was not a long pause, it was long enough for Scully to tell that Mulder had put Samantha before her even before he said so. "I’ll meet you at the hospital as soon as I get back. There is something I need to check out here in New York. I should be there tomorrow morning."

"OK. I’ll see you then," Scully said before hanging up the phone.

Mulder hung up right after she did and finished signing the papers for his rental car. On the plane ride north Mulder had highlighted the route to the address he was given on a map he got at the airport, so as to not waste any time when he got to New York. The address belonged to an abandoned looking warehouse well hidden behind other warehouses and one factory. Cautiously, Mulder got out of his dark green Ford Taurus and, gun drawn, walked to the front doors of the warehouse.

* * *

As hard as it had been for Scully to call Mulder and tell him her cancer was most likely back, she dreaded having to call her mother even more. She had hoped that Mulder would be able to come to the hospital and offer her moral support when she had to call her mother, but he was out of town. Before Scully could chicken out, she dialed her mother’s number.

Mrs. Scully picked up on the second ring. "Hello?"

"Hi, Mom," Scully said.

"Hi, honey. How are you?"

"I’m not sure. I actually called for a favor. I was hoping that you could go to my apartment and bring me a few overnight things."

"Why? What’s going on?" Mrs. Scully sounded worried.

"I don’t know yet. That’s what I’m trying to find out. I checked myself into the hospital to have some tests run," Scully answered, trying to keep the worry out of her own voice.

"What do they think is wrong with you, Dana? Is everything alright?"

"I’ll explain everything to you here if you can come. Can you?" Scully asked, reminding her mother of a scared child.

"Yeah. Yes. I’ll be there as soon as I can. What do you want from your apartment?" Mrs. Scully pulled out a pad and pen and wrote down what Scully asked for. "I’ll be down there right away," she repeated.

"Thank you, Mom," Scully said.

"Love you honey."

"Love you too. See you in a bit."

After she hung up the phone, Scully’s room was once again bathed in silence. It was eerie, and Scully turned on the television and sat down on her bed. Though her eyes were trained on the screen, she didn’t hear anything that the people said. Her thoughts were a jumble about everything from her possible cancer to Mulder and Samantha to dinner the precious night. She spent the time between hanging up the phone with her mother until her mother arrived attempting to straighten out her thoughts.

Mrs. Scully gently tapped on the door and walked into the room, Scully’s overnight bag in her hand. "Dana, honey?"

"Hi," Scully said, walking to her mother to exchange hugs and kisses.

"What’s wrong? Why are you checked into the hospital? Did something happen?"

Scully had been fighting back tears, and had kept them back until she started talking. Her voice wavered and she occasionally sniffled as she answered her mother. "I have been having nosebleeds again and I’ve been tired and have felt sick, and so I came to see Dr. Barta, and she told me she wanted to run some tests to determine if it is cancer or not and then I checked myself in." The words tumbled from Scully’s mouth, speeding up as she finished her sentence.

Mrs. Scully put her arms around Scully’s shoulders and gently rocked her. "It’s going to be OK, baby. Everything’s going to be alright. Just wait and see."

Both Scully and her mother prayed that Mrs. Scully was right and everything would be alright in the end.

 

*        *         *

With his gun held straight by taut elbows, Mulder kicked in the warehouse door and swept it across the main room. After he saw no one there, he did the same thing in the two smaller, adjoining rooms. When he returned to the main room, he noticed the faint smell of cigarette smoke that lingered in the air. Mulder knew that he was close, but, as always, the people he was in search of were one step ahead of him.

A few pieces of furniture littered the room, including a desk, a couple of smaller tables, three chairs, and a trash can. Mulder looked at the two tables, found nothing, then headed to the desk. First, Mulder looked into the trash can and found a used syringe and a crumpled empty Morleys box. On the floor near the trash can was a stomped out cigarette. Mulder did not have to examine it to know what brand it was, nor did he have any doubt as to who it had belonged to.

He was damned close and he knew it.

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