Holden barged into Bill’s office. “You'll never guess who was at the site.”
Bill gave him a look that should have been universally understood to mean ‘I’m on the phone right now,’ but one could never tell with Holden fucking Ford.
"Dr. Dana Scully," Holden proclaimed.
“Mike, can I call you back?" Bill said. "Something's come up that is apparently urgent. Thanks." He hung up, giving Holden a pointed look and exaggerating the release of the handset. "What are you talking about?"
"In Massachusetts," Holden said. "Dr. Dana Scully was there."
"I thought she left the Bureau.”
"She did,” Holden said, eyes wide, excited as a kid on Christmas. “She’s back! In the field, even. That’s why we haven’t seen her around here, because she’s not teaching anymore.”
“She’s back?” Bill lit a cigarette, brow furrowed.
“For this case, at least.” Holden perched himself on Bill’s desk as if he owned the thing. “It went well, by the way. The skull’s in great condition. For… um… well, I mean, it’s all intact, except for the jawbone. And no body yet, but we’re all pretty sure it’s a Cloth Heart.”
"Where's Wendy?" asked Bill.
Wendy casually peered in from the bullpen.
"You're uncharacteristically quiet," said Bill.
"Just processing," said Wendy. "Holden spent the flight home telling me all about about Agent Scully's storied past. It's a lot of information for one day."
"I'll bet," said Bill.
Holden looked between the two of them in the way he did sometimes when he wasn't sure what they were talking about. "So, I had an idea. And Wendy agrees with me."
Wendy had taken a prim seat on Bill's couch now, and she tilted her head. "It couldn't hurt, if all parties agree."
"What is it?"
"Well, the Martha’s Vineyard investigators think the skull was carried away from the body by animals. It’s definitely in the right time frame, but thirty years means the body itself is probably kind of scattered.”
“Uh huh,” said Bill, marvelling over how breezily Holden could talk about the decades-old remains of a fucking eight-year-old girl.
“So, if we had a better idea of where the original dump site was, that could help us narrow the search. And since John Roche is dead, the best way to get any more information would be to interview Fox Mulder.”
Bill took a drag on his cigarette and eyed Holden warily. "You want to interview Fox Mulder.
"The guy's nuts," said Bill.
“That may be so, but he also spent more time with John Roche than anyone else. If anything was left out of the files, the only two people who would have that information are Mulder and Scully. And mostly Mulder, frankly. So... we ask her, and then we ask him."
Bill eyed Holden some more, then turned to Wendy. “He gave you the whole story?"
"It certainly seemed thorough," said Wendy. "And you know Holden is nothing if not thorough."
Bill sighed. At the end of the day, with both of them watching him, he couldn't come up with a good enough excuse to say no. "Fine, as long as Dana Scully signs off on it."
"Great," said Holden. "I'll get Gregg to find her in the--"
"I'll call her," said Wendy, rising to her feet. "I have her number."
Dana Scully's feet barely touched the floor of the car.
That's an exaggeration, obviously, but it felt true. She sat stiff and quiet and tiny in the front passenger seat as Bill drove, red hair in a sharp cut, hand occasionally fiddling with the tasteful gold cross around her neck. That had surprised Bill a little, especially after Wendy's ringing endorsement of her, but he supposed it takes all types.
The four of them talked at length about the Cloth Hearts case, a series of child murders in New England dating back decades. John Roche had been captured not through any primitive form of profiling, or even any real police work. He had simply been startled in the home of his last would-be victim when her parents returned home early.
Roche confessed to killing thirteen young girls, though Mulder and Scully later found evidence that he killed sixteen. They identified and recovered two of the victims, but Number Sixteen remained a mystery. They all quietly— or not so quietly, in some cases— hoped this old child’s skull found at Martha’s Vineyard was her.
Obviously, John Roche was of great interest to the BSU and their study, but unfortunately, he was dead. “If I had known back then what I knew now, maybe I could have consulted with you guys,” Bill said.
Scully took a moment before answering. “I wasn’t exactly comfortable asking people for help with it back then,” she said. “Considering our main source.”
The Cloth Hearts murders had been long closed, with Roche’s confession of thirteen matching up with thirteen missing girls and thirteen bodies found. Each of the murdered girls had been dumped in her nightgown, with a heart cut out of the cloth. But then Fox Mulder, who was a few years behind Bill at the academy, and whom Bill thought was one of the most promising young agents he’d ever seen, had a dream. Mulder claimed to have walked in his sleep to a park in Manassas, driven his bare hands into the earth, and dug up a hitherto unknown Cloth Heart victim. This led to him tracking down John Roche's old car, and discovering a grand trophy: a book with cloth hearts pressed between the pages. Hearts cut from nightgowns. Sixteen in total.
The digging up some random victim with his bare hands was weird, but the idea of being led to a victim through a dream was not out of the ordinary for Fox “Spooky” Mulder. He had a reputation for belief in all sorts of outlandish things, and his behaviour was even worse. He admitted to using mescaline, consulting with psychics, and consorting with crackpots and loons. It didn’t take long for that sort of thing to show in his work. Over the course of his promising career, Mulder assaulted his unit director at least once, found himself running afoul of local police on several occasions, killed or wounded numerous suspects in a manner Bill could only describe as completely fucking reckless, and, finally, stabbed a teenaged boy through the heart with a wooden stake. A vampire, he said. Completely fucking serious about it.
"Thank you so much for arranging this, Dr. Scully," said Holden. He was in the back seat with Wendy, and Bill could almost feel the eager half-smile on his face.
Scully looked back over her shoulder. “I’d adjust my expectations if I were you, Agent Ford. You might not get the information you want out of him."
"He not a talker these days?” Bill asked.
"Oh, he'll talk to anyone who'll listen," said Scully. "I just mean that he might not say anything you want to hear."
"Well, I know that he's been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia," said Holden. "And I'm aware that sometimes communicating with people like that can be a challenge. But I'm sure he's well medicated now.”
"He is," said Scully. "He's completely lucid. But if you want to hear about John Roche, I'd highly suggest you ask only questions that pertain to John Roche."
"We've found that building rapport is very useful in interviewing," said Holden.
Scully turned sharply and looked over her shoulder. "He's not a murderer."
Tell that the vampire kid, thought Bill.
"I didn't mean--" Holden started.
"Please, Agent Scully," Wendy said gently. "Holden's just excited."
In the rearview mirror, Bill saw Holden shoot Wendy a bewildered look.
"You know how important closing the Cloth Hearts case would be to everyone," Wendy went on. "It's a seminal case for our unit, and your work on it has been nothing short of brilliant."
Bill's eyebrows almost rose. He'd never heard Wendy be so... laudatory to someone before. Not even to Holden when they first told her about the study, and the way Holden acted after that, you'd think she'd given him a Nobel Prize.
Scully was quiet, still gazing over her shoulder at the other agents. Then she turned back, and steadied the white box she balanced on her lap. “After all this,” she said. “I just don’t want him to get hurt. Please don’t give him any false hope.”
For about seven years, Mulder had been residing in a mental hospital in Maryland. Pulling up, it looked pretty swanky-- a beautiful colonial building, well-kept grounds. Of course, the "hospitals" Bill visited for work were usually of the penal type, and nobody wanted to waste a bunch of money on the inmates. He realized he did, in fact, have to adjust his expectations a bit here. This was strictly a social call.
The three of them waited on a little bench in a hallway as Scully talked with the nurse at the front desk. Holden sat in the middle, ramrod straight, not-quite-fidgeting in a way that Bill, and probably only Bill, recognized to mean he was nervous.
"Do you think he's going to be able to tell us anything?" Holden asked, showing doubt for the first time since he had floated his latest brilliant idea.
"Probably not," said Bill, lighting a cigarette.
Holden gave him one of his hurt looks. He turned to Wendy.
"If he's as lucid as Agent Scully claims, I'm sure he'll tell us everything he can," said Wendy. "My concern is his mental state at the time that he was speaking to Roche. If he was already delusional at that point, then it wouldn't be much of a primary experience."
"I think if anything points us in the right direction, it'll be worth it," said Holden. "We have part of a body, which is more than we had before. Think of it, Bill. To finally bring home the last Cloth Heart victim? Imagine what that would mean. To the FBI. To the families."
To your album of newspaper clippings, Bill thought.
They were ushered into another hall to wait, while behind glass doors, Scully greeted ex-FBI agent Fox Mulder. He was dressed in the same plain pyjama set as the other patients, tall and shaggy-haired and scruffy. He lit up when he saw Scully, and engulfed her in a tight hug.
Then he sat, his face lighting up even more when he opened the care package she had brought him. Cookies, it looked like, and a package of sunflower seeds. He said something the agents couldn't hear through the glass doors. Then he put his face against her stomach, and she gently stroked his hair. It looked like a mother comforting her anguished child, far more so than friendly colleagues or even lovers.
Bill had heard the rumours, of course. There were far worse rumours that the most promising of the FBI's first female agents could have had dogging her, though. It was an open secret that she had been sent to Mulder’s unit to babysit him, a total waste of her potential, but she had risen to the challenge and earned a formidable reputation of her own.
"Who's that?" Wendy asked. Bill and Holden turned to where she was looking.
Through another set of glass doors, gazing into the same common room as they did, stood a man in a dark suit. Thick lines on his face, grey hair, and smoking.
"Who?" Holden clarified.
"That man," said Wendy. "I feel as if I've met him."
"I've never seen him before in my life," said Holden.
The cigarette smoking man seemed to feel their eyes on him. He glanced their way, and then left-- through some other exit, apparently, since they had come from the lobby.
"I've seen him a few times," said Bill. "Usually skulking around Gunn's office."
"Who is he?" asked Holden.
"I've never been introduced, and I don't want to be." Bill snuffed out his own cigarette. "He gives me the heebie jeebies."
A raised voice in the common room-- but a happy one, apparently. Mulder was standing now, messily eating one of Scully's cookies. Scully turned to the doors and waved the agents in.
"They'd really like to talk to you," Scully said as they pushed their way in.
"Bill!" Mulder beamed. "Long time no see! How you been, man?"