"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 43 of 45

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"Chermera" by Mary Ruth Keller Part 43 of 45
E-mail: mrke...@eclipse.net, mrkel...@gmail.com
PG-13 X-File: Myth-arc Disclaimed in Part I
Already sent to Gossamer
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House Derwbryn
Llangollen, Denbighshire, Wales
Friday, July 24, 1998
7:03 pm

"Nic, they need to eat something." The brunette astronomer was loading two plates with poached fillets of weir-raised Dee salmon, sauteed asparagus, minted peas, and herbed pearled barley with onions. "They can't work all the time."

The balding Montanan huffed through his mustache. "Yeah, I'll get that brown bread and some of the herbed butter. Putting on pound or two would help them both. Scully's always been a little thing, and she lost a lot of weight between her ordeal and recovery. The Chief, well, he's a string bean. That and some chilled water should set them up nicely for tonight."

The former partners walked side-by-side to the study. Nichols knocked, but, at the silence, exchanged a frown with the triathlete.

"Guys!" She leaned against the door. "Open up!"

There was no sound from inside, so the ASAC turned the knob. Dana Scully was still flat on her back on the chaise, under a woolen blanket, thick with brown and black fibers, that covered her from her chin to past her sock-clad feet. Her walking shoes had remained where they fell when she heeled them off in her exhaustion, on the oak floorboards by the open end of the lounge. One arm, only, was exposed. It dropped straight to the floor, where the hand rested, supine, the fingers all cocked at odd angles, on a muscled shoulder. Fox Mulder was sprawled, face down, on the oval red Afghan carpet, tightly gripping a white bolster to prop his head up slightly, another thick woolen cover twisted from between his legs up over his spine to partly cover his face.

"He can't be comfortable like that." The gravel was hoarse with sympathy. He knelt beside the lean form, then reached for the agent's back. "Hey, Chief."

The long limbs stretched, then the dark-haired man pushed himself up on his elbows. "Hey." He pulled himself up until he was sitting, straight-legged, his spine against the chaise. "What time is it?" He was twisting to tuck his partner's arm back under the coverlet as he spoke.

"Dinner-time, Mulder." Rosen held up the two plates.

With a lop-sided grin, he wiggled the side of an index finger against the tip of his partner's nose. "Room service, G-woman. Up and at'em."

She shifted, then blinked herself awake. "Oh, no." She pulled herself into a wobbly slump with a grunt. "I slept too long." She checked out the window over the chaise. "It's getting dark. We have too much to do." She tried swinging her feet to the floor, but pulled them back up to the cushions when her toes contacted the tall agent's tight abdomen. "Sorry, Mulder."

He was sliding the wool back over her legs as he scanned her drawn face. "For what?"

"Ow." She attempted a stretch, but the still-healing injuries had protested the sudden movements as she looked up. "Nichols? Rosen? You're back?"

"Scully, it's okay. We brought food." The balding Montanan slid off the linen tucked over the bread, letting the warm scent of sage and leeks waft toward them. "Take your time getting yourselves up. We'll just set dinner and your water on the worktable here, so you two can eat when you're ready."

Rosen glanced at her former partner. "There's a delightful apple tart for dessert when you're done, and some homemade cinnamon ice cream. Nic and I waited so we could share it with you. We'll be back in about a half an hour. That way it won't melt while we're discussing what you two have uncovered." They began setting out the plates, silverware, and glasses.

Scully slid shakily to her feet. "Mulder? You spent the afternoon on the floor? That armchair looked quite comfortable."

He was standing and stretching. "It was occupied by an ap Gwinn, Doctor."

"Oh?" She was eyeing her shoes, but decided they were too much trouble in this warm, comfortable room. "Dafydd was here? Why didn't you wake me?"

He met her gaze. He considered explaining the ap Gwinn was Ieuan, who had bent, smiling and nodding, into her sleeping face as her partner's long fingers tucked the blanket gently over and around her. Ieuan had reached out, attempting to stroke her gauze-wrapped forehead, but the agent had waved the translucent hand away. The specter had straightened, then patted the dark-haired man on the shoulder, which left his arm tingling slightly. Finally, the former Cymru had taken the chair as Mulder had stretched out on the Afghan rug. But, the grey under her eyes told him she was up to hearing none of that, nor was he himself prepared for the ensuing heated discussion, so he settled for the gentlest of tweaks. "Besides, Sam always stays close to Master Frodo." His eyebrows canted gleefully at her subdued, yet laser-focused glare.

--o-0-o--

Wilton Residence
La Jolla, CA
Saturday, July 25, 1998
4:12 pm

Sandra Miller shoved her transplanting spade into the soil with both hands. Judy was no gardener; she herself had been too busy with papers, then the trip to Santorini, to attend these beds. {No time like the present.} She hated Bermuda grass. The long runners had almost defeated her own herb gardens, especially around the perennials, whose roots she hated to disturb. To kill them utterly would mean ripping up most of Judy's yard, which would mean hiring professionals. That the blonde professor would never agree to, since she was down to her salary only, which had to cover all her living expenses while socking something away for retirement, little by little. {So, best to just try to finish getting this bed clear, perhaps put out some weed block, with deep edging.}

"Sandie?" The slight woman was standing behind her.

Sandra twisted, shading her face with her canvas-gloved hand. "Judy, what's up?"

The blonde professor plopped onto the grass with an oof, then offered a hesitant smile. "We haven't had a chance to talk about Santorini, and you've been out here all day working for me."

The chestnut-haired woman shifted to sit beside her friend. "Did you mean the Minoan sites, or my family?" She pulled off the gloves to drop them on the ground beside her.

Judy wrapped her arms around her knees. "Both, actually."

Sandra sent her a lop-sided grin. "Akrotiri was amazing, and I've been to Pompeii. So very different. But, it's a little sad that so many of the frescoes are gone. Since I was seeing it with Fox, who had been there before, he had us very directed as we walked through, almost as if the place made him uncomfortable." She rubbed her forehead under the straw hat. "He apologized as he told me on the drive home that Dana had been injured there, which is why he was so upset. I'll have to talk to her more about it."

"So, your family? How did that go?" The blonde professor held out a tall glass of water. "Filtered, but from the tap, just the way you prefer."

Sandra took several long sips. "Oh, it's hard to say. We got along really, really well, all of us."

"That's good, isn't it?"

"I hope so. It was our first family gathering, though. What happens in the long run, we shall see. We were on our best behavior, all of us, I was buried in my papers, and I feel like I'm just catching up. Fox was out there with them for several months, he said, while they were all searching for me."

The slight woman patted her friend's arm. "Sandie, don't be so gloomy, just because you and James fell out doesn't mean it's going to happen with your birth family."

Sandra brushed dirt off her knees before she clutched them, trying to push away the bad memories of the troubles with her adoptive brother. "I really don't want it to. Perhaps that's why I was so hard on Fox, initially. They share many common traits: their intelligence, their odd-ball interests, with James having a law degree, while Fox is in the Bureau."

"But Fox isn't like James. He has all those agents around him, Dana, and the group out here. James could never work with anyone, which is why he could never make partner, anywhere."

Sandra sighed. "I know. Fox was a loner for a long, long time, too, he said. But, he does seem more, centered, I guess is how to describe it. Anyway-" She shifted back onto her knees. "-I'm almost done here. Sorry things got so out of hand. I'd say you should hire someone, but I know how expenses can pile up."

Judy nodded. "I'm considering putting one or two of the bedrooms up for students, just to help with the money situation." She glanced at Sandra quickly. "Oh, I'm not in any financial trouble; Tom saw to that. It's just, I'd like to keep putting more money away, just in case."

"That's probably smart. Just make sure it's not students in your department."

The blonde professor nodded. "No conflicts of interest. By the way-" She paused as she checked the brunette's face. "-is Jerry still staying with you?"

Sandra chuckled. "No. When I was flying back, Fox called him, and whatever those two said to each other, he got all Prince Valiantish over. Something to do with Dana and the British Embassy. But, they're okay, according to Andrea Rosen. I'll check with her and Agent Nichols when they get back from the UK. They won't be able to tell me about the case, unless they need my help." She sobered. "I'm afraid I kissed him, Judy."

The blonde cocked her head. "You're afraid? Why? He absolutely adores you, you know."

The hazel disappeared twice. "Oh, I know. We do have a good time, whenever we're together. He'd move in in a heartbeat, if I asked. But, what I don't know about is me. He was there at Tom's death, and I don't want that to be our only connection. Besides, I don't know that I want any kind of steady male presence that's more than a simple friendship right now, with finding my family and all, which he seems comfortable with, too. But, he's such a decent human being though, smart and funny." She smiled gently. "With how much he treasures his time with Maria, we could easily make a long-term connection. It's so odd he became a detective. He could have been so much more." She leaned back on both hands. "I know this is schoolgirl and all, but, what do you think, Judy?"

The slight woman sighed. "Sandra, I don't know what to tell you. I don't have much sense about men, anymore. There was Tom, and what we had was so good, I don't know if I'll feel like looking around again, anytime soon. There's my work, and my Mom getting older." She patted her friend's arm. "You'll follow your intuition, and it'll turn out alright, Sandie, I know that. You always do, and it always does."

The chestnut-haired woman picked up the trowel. "I hope so. Let me finish this off, and maybe we can get some dinner."

Judy pulled herself to her feet before she picked up the glass. "Okay, although I'll make you shower first, Sandie, you're all black streaks." She smiled at her friend before she stepped away.

--o-0-o--

House Derwbryn
Llangollen, Denbighshire, Wales
Wednesday, July 29, 1998
5:27 am

"Don't look now, Scully, but your secret admirer is watching you." Mulder, delighting in her barely suppressed eye-roll, smirked at his partner, who was tucked beside him on the oak bench. She was recovering, each day, her strength and stamina returning.

The evening of their arrival, she had quietly asked him to join her out on this east-facing spot the following morning, when she had leaned heavily on his arm as they walked. Today, she had been pacing by the front door, waiting for him, eager to take in the view of the rolling green hills and the town of Llangollen, laid out along the River Dee. The unbroken overcast of the previous days had lifted. The light of the rising sun would set the fair-weather cumulus and cirrus clouds aflame, turn blue the mists hanging in the wrinkles of valleys, while its heat would lift haze to shroud the peak-hugging glens. The gates of the sheep pens had just opened, freeing the black, tan, and white ungulates to scatter to their favorite pastures. The frequency of whistles, barks, and shouted commands increased as their human and canine keepers attempted to guide them along.

Her chin jutted forward. "Mulder, I am *not* looking. You think you've seen someone every morning at sunrise in the same window, but only at sunrise. You think it's a ghost because it looks like that portrait of Ieuan ap Gwillym ap Gwinn, the first ap Gwinn member of the Forty. But, I can only conclude it's a trick of the light in that particular location. The glass is original to the house, one of the few left, according to Dafydd, so no telling what irregularities are in the panes."

Now, it was his turn to growl lightly. The Cymru had been spending far too much time in his partner's company, courting her diligently on behalf of the Forty, tempting her with the records of their history, both here in the UK, and abroad. She was being carefully non-committal, genuinely interested, but firm in her decision to remain just a G-woman, as she assured him regularly during this quiet hour before breakfast and the arrival of tourists. But he was worried that the added strain was slowing her recovery, despite the on-site nurse and visiting physical therapist.

She checked his face, hoping her next question would pull him out of his glowering darkness. "Mulder, when, exactly, are the Gunmen arriving?"

He twisted to look down on her upturned smile. "They're taking the train from Cardiff, so it'll be late morning, early afternoon. Byers has planned a bit more complicated trip than they need to take, but you know him and trains." He bent over her. "Besides, they're on their paranoiac's pilgrimage."

Her left cheek creased. "Ah. Portmeirion?"

He tossed her a quick grin in response. "Where else? Byers and Fro had to sit Langly down and explain, firmly, that no one was allowed to spend the night in Number Six's cottage because it's now a gift shop, so, no, there was no point in getting here a day earlier. I expect they'll arrive laden with boxes of Village-phenalia."

The spot on the left side of her forehead where curly red hairs were beginning to emerge arched. "I wonder how many 'Be seeing you's they'll work into conversations over the next few days."

He huffed softly in light-hearted agreement. As his gaze fell on the ivory knit cap she was wearing over the gauze, he noticed the little strands of ginger peeking out around the edges were beginning to twist. He grew somber. "You sure you're up for this?"

She nodded. "It's taken me too long to get back on my feet, Mulder. We have to start disentangling the connections among the Shadows, before we lose the path along the threads we have." She tugged at the loose polo shirt and sweater, bright red against her khakis and black sneakers. "I can wear regular clothes again, so I don't have to worry about being embarrassed when they get here." She patted his muscled upper arm. "Thanks for your patience. I don't mean to hold the investigation back."

He shook his head. "You're not. We've worked through most of Tapping's document. We wouldn't have had the time to do the cross-referencing with the X-Files, the D'Amato notebooks, and the evidence from the Saunders trial if we were back in the States, without Nichols and Rosen, all while putting together the case against Krycek. Besides, it's giving you the chance to really get well, Scully, which is all that matters."

They turned at the voices emanating from the doorway behind them.

"See, Cary, best view in the place." Rosen had her arm around her life partner as they walked. The brunette astronomer nodded to the two on the bench before heading down the drive.

The diminutive agent's green-blue gaze followed the spouses until they disappeared along a bend in the path. "Good of you to pay for Cary's tickets, Mulder. They only have Rosen's salary to live on."

"I did no such thing, Scully." They exchanged tiny grins, then, he grunted as she pushed herself to her feet. "You cold?" He brushed her elbow with his thumb.

"Not really. Just a little stiff." Her eyes returned to the spot where the two women had disappeared. "Rosen wants to hike Offa's Dike for a part of its length. That'd be fun."

He rose. "When you're a little bit more recovered, we'll do that." He pointed toward the entrance. "So, ready for some breakfast?"

"Certes." She was squinting at the banks of upper windows as she turned. "See, no ghostly members of the Forty, watching me."

"Sheah, he's been up all night, Scully. Time for him to turn in."

She curled her fingers around his arm as they walked. "Howard Graves never turned in." Her cheek creased in anticipation of the explosion she knew was coming.

"Ah, so now, five years later, you'll admit to him?" He bent over her as he held the door. "I *have* had an effect on you." They walked in silence to the breakfast room, where Nichols had already piled his plate with an omelet, smoked herring, orange slices, and buttered toast.

--o-0-o--

House Derwbryn
Llangollen, Denbighshire, Wales
Wednesday, 12:54 pm

"So, this is it?" Scully was rotating the black tablet in her hand.

"Sure is, Doc." The long-haired Gunman tugged at his t-shirt, stretching the image of a penny-farthing bicycle as he did so.

"We had to custom order several chips from Japan." Frohike adjusted his wire-rims.

"Which probably tripped surveillance on you three." Nichols turned to Byers.

"Nah." The bearded Gunman powered up his laptop. "We've been monitoring communications in and out of the Osaka Collective, and there's been no mention of us." He looked over at the diminutive agent. "They are, however, deeply concerned about what you decide, Agent Scully."

She handed the unit back to Langly. "Why? The Forty have been focused on the Europeans, not the Far East. Dafydd confirmed that with the rest of the Fellowship at their meeting yesterday."

Frohike crossed his arms. "The owner of this grand estate, Dearest Doctor?"

"Sheah, the very same, Fro." Mulder shook his head at the round-faced Gunman. "You three polished off his lunch just a few minutes ago, so be a little bit polite to your host."

"Okay," Scully interrupted quickly. "What else have the Japanese been interested in?"

Byers turned his laptop around. "This is the latest transcript through the device. They're attempting to hack into the records of the U.S. Marshal's office in San Diego. They want to know what Tapping saw before he died. They're after the video footage we had to send to Pierce. It seems they haven't been receiving any intel from the American organization about Tapping, so they're trying other avenues."

Mulder blew out a long breath. "Nichols, I hate to say this, but - "

"I should head back, Chief. Pierce could tolerate me, while you just sent him up a tree. What do you want me to tell him?"

"As little as possible." Scully lifted her gaze to catch her partner's raised eyebrow. "I don't trust him, at all. He's a decorated officer, but, he's been nothing but antagonistic with the other law enforcement agencies in the area. That's not usual for a Marshal."

Her partner bent over her shoulder. "As if he's being blackmailed?"

"Whoa!" The round-faced Gunman held up a gloved hand. "That's a leap, even for you two. We've never uncovered any questions on the loyalty of the Marshal's Service."

"We've probed suspicions of everywhere else, including the State Department." Langly pushed his hair back off his face.

Byers cut him an odd glance. "We can check into that, but, there's more involved with the Japanese you guys need to know about."

Mulder held out both hands. "So, enlighten us."

Byers pulled up a map of the Hawaiian Islands on the screen. "We've seen suspicious activities connected with Osaka on the Big Island, Lanai, Oahu, and Kauai. You remember the condos on Santorini that were half occupied, but hugely profitable?" He waited through a pair of nods. "That same pattern is repeating itself there. Luxury condos, built, but rarely rented, still rolling in the bucks."

Langly leaned forward to tap a key. A blow-up of the Kona coast of the Big Island appeared. "Prime real estate, just sitting vacant. There's been no chatter on the encrypted communications about this, as if they didn't know."

Rosen crossed her legs at the ankles. "Or, it's so common a part of their interactions that they don't think it's worth mentioning."

Nichols turned to his former partner. "As if it's how they all operate. We should check their other properties, once we get some information on them, around the Far East." He bumped her arm with his elbow. "Looks like you and Cary won't get that hike in before we head back, Ros."

She sighed. "Just as well, Nic. Cary's knee is starting to bother her. She may have to have surgery, unfortunately. Too much bending to take care of her Mom."

"That's too bad." The ASAC shook his head sympathetically. "She's been having a great time here."

Scully reached for her laptop. "I've downloaded the Dine-encoded files from the MJ tape, so we can present them to Albert." Her forehead wrinkled. "I don't know why Director Skinner had such problems. I made multiple print-outs for study back in the basement office after the Thinker met with Mulder, and I've been making multiple copies on CD now to distribute to X-Files West as well."

Rosen slid to her feet to stand beside the diminutive agent. "They're not getting garbled?"

Scully loaded a silver disk into the laptop. After a few moments, the Dine appeared. "So far as I can tell, it's the same from file to file. I've printed out a page or two just to check. See?" She held the paper by the screen. As she scrolled through, they both read.

Rosen straightened from her crouch over the pathologist's shoulder. "Looks the same to me, Scully."

"Okay." Mulder held up both hands. "We need to put together a plan to divide and conquer." He pointed to the Gunmen. "You guys, keep on the surveillance of the Japanese. The Internet here is super, according to the Doctor, so you three can keep on working."

Byers chuckled. "In swankier digs then we're used to, Mulder."

The tall agent turned to the ASAC. "Nichols, we'll get you on your way back to San Diego with Rosen and Cary. Scully and I will stay here to meet with Albert and his son when they arrive." He turned to his partner. "You up to that, Scully?"

She was beginning to feel slightly smothered by his intense concern for her well-being. "I've had about as much pampering as I should allow myself, Mulder. We have work to do. I never liked having to let go of the paper copies in New Mexico." However, with the raw pain accompanying any deep breath only now beginning to lose its edge, that conversation would wait until they were back in DC. She reached for his shoulder to silently offer her gratitude.

He eyed her sadly. "If you hadn't, you would have been dead. You know it."

--o-0-o--

United States Penitentiary, Allenwood
Gregg Township, Pennsylvania
Friday, July 31, 1998
11:03 am

Walter Skinner steeled his face as the door opened. Alex Krycek, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, chains, and double cuffs, was being led in slowly by two U.S. Marshals. Once he was locked to a bar on the end of the table, the Marshals stepped back. Skinner looked to his left. It was odd that Terry Phillips had asked to accompany them, but he assumed it was to gain experience to expand her professional portfolio. On his right, Bill Stickle sat quietly, opening and closing his notepad.

The bald Director glowered at the dark-haired man. "Alright, Krycek. You asked to see us, today, when your preliminary hearing is next Monday. Are you here to discuss the deal?"

Krycek glared back. "I'm not saying anything without my lawyer present."

Stickle cleared his throat. "That would be Charles William Whittington the Third from the firm of Houlihan, Jackson, Shepherd, and Whittington?"

The former operative emitted a snort, before he glanced at Terry Phillips, then he drew back in shock. "What did I ever do to you, lady?"

Her face was twisted, nearly unrecognizable, with rage. "You hurt a fellow federal officer, all in the name of power and revenge. You, a trained agent." She leaned over the table. "What gave you the right?" She pounded the table with her fist. "Tell me!"

Krycek turned to Skinner. "What? Did Mulder have a sex change? Who is this?"

"This is Special Agent Theresa Phillips, PhD, as you well know. Answer her question." The bald Director's jaw jutted. He had had enough of the younger man's misogyny toward his female agents.

"Not without my lawyer." He tried to cross his arms, but the cuffs prevented it, so he settled for another snort and glare.

"Then we'll sit here until he does." The former Marine gritted his teeth.

The door swung aside, then a tall, distinguished grey-haired man stepped through the opening. "Ah, I see we are all assembled." He placed a hand on Krycek's shoulder. "I trust you have been discreet?"

The dark-haired man rolled his eyes. "Of course I've been discreet! What else could I be?" He rattled his chains for emphasis.

There was a momentary clench of Whittington's jaw, then all was tranquility. "Very well." He offered his hand to the three agents in turn, before placing his briefcase on the wood as he was settling into his chair. "With the preliminaries out of the way, let us begin." He flipped open a notebook inscribed with the firm's name in gold letters. "So, why did you call my client in today?"

The silky-smooth baritone having set his nerves on edge, Skinner turned. "It was your client who called this meeting, Mister Whittington."

Krycek leaned over the table. "I have information. I want to trade it to stay out of prison."

"What information would that be, Krycek?" The brunette agent's face was twisted into a snarl.

The dark-haired man pushed his hair off his face with his right hand, the left dangling by the chain, then snorted. "Hey, Phillips, back off. I don't answer to threats. What gives you the right, anyway?"

She clenched her fists. "I work in the X-Files East section. Dana Scully is my boss. You tortured her."

Krycek shook his head before leaning toward Skinner. "Look, I don't need the attack dog routine. I want to tell what I know in exchange for my freedom."

The bald Director glared back. "So, Krycek, what do you have? The MJ tape is with Mulder and Scully. Albert Hosteen is translating it right now. In case you didn't notice in your jaunts through the criminal underworld, Mulder and Scully have put the entirety of the X-Files in the public domain, as well as the D'Amato papers on the origins of the Shadow governments. There are trial records laying out more details. I don't think there is much you have to offer, you rabid weasel."

"That will be enough, Director Skinner. We are here to discuss a plea deal on potential murder charges for the death of William Mulder." Whittington placed a palm on Krycek's shoulder.

Stickle shifted in his chair, but said nothing.

The bespectacled man shook his head. "Krycek, I don't think you understand. We have your Bureau-issued weapon, taken directly from your possession by Dana Scully. We have the slug taken from William Mulder. We have a verified match between the two. You're going away for a very, very long time. Good thing for you Massachusetts no longer has a death penalty."

Whittington held up his hand, palm toward the Bureau officers. "Now, you have no proof that Alex was the one who fired the gun, do you?"

Skinner snorted. "We lifted three different sets of fingerprints off the handle: Professor Andrea Rosen's, Doctor and Agent Dana Scully's, and Alex Krycek's. The sets from Scully and Rosen were recent, easily verified, and just one each. Scully had touched the trigger; Rosen had not. Krycek's prints were all over the handle, muzzle, and trigger, some clear, some smudged from repeated application, so the weapon had not been wiped. None other were found. Scully's and Rosen's whereabouts at the time of William Mulder's deaths have been verified. Neither were in West Tisbury at the time. Alex Krycek used his personal credit card to purchase gas in Chilmark two hours before the murder. No ferries left the island between that purchase and William Mulder’s death. So, where does that leave your client, Mister Whittington?"

The grey-haired attorney chuckled. "Right where we were a few moments ago. You still have no proof Alex fired the shot that killed William Mulder, just circumstance. You know what I can do with that, Mister Skinner, don't you? If you put my client on trial, I will have him tell everything he knows on the stand, from the witness box. Everything. Are you sure you want that to happen, Director?"

Phillips and Stickle both turned to Skinner, who was shaking his head. "That won't help. I won't be subjected to judicial blackmail, Mister Whittington." He rose. "We'll see you in court." He looked down at the agents on his side of the table. "We're finished here. Let's go."

As they were leaving, Phillips leaned over the top. "You monster. You cut off her hair! What gave you the right? You tortured one of the finest agents in the Bureau!"

Krycek snarled. "Really? That's what you think of Mulder's squealing little whore? Or have you already stolen him away?" He held up his fists. "Get out of my face, you bitch!"

"You're going to rot in hell for the rest of your life, you lying, thieving, backstabbing Judas!" She spun, then stalked out the door without another word.

--o-0-o--

End – Chermera – Part 43 of 45
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