Experiment in Solitude

Chapter 10

There was no way of knowing if Mulder had been kidnapped again or if he had left the apartment of his own volition. Scully stood in front of the blue-screened TV wondering what steps to take next. She was two seconds away from calling Skinner when the door to the apartment opened and her partner stepped quietly into the room.

"Hey, Scully," he greeted her as though her being there was not completely unexpected. No doubt he'd seen her car parked outside and knew that she would be waiting for him in his living room.

"Mulder," Scully sighed in relief. "I was just about ready to call out a search team for you."

"What? Why?"

"I've been trying to reach you for hours. You weren't answering your phone. I was beginning to think that something had happened."

"Oh. Sorry. The battery on my cell phone died."

"Where have you been?"


"Obviously. But where?"

"The park. Went for a jog."

Although he was dressed in sweatpants and a hooded jacket, he didn't look or smell as though he'd been running around the neighborhood for the past couple of hours. She was about to question him further when his gaze zeroed in on the remote she still held in her right hand. He didn't verbally ask if she had watched the video, but the question was in his eyes.

"I watched it. When I couldn't find you, I looked for clues as to where you could have gone. Why didn't you call and tell me about this?"

Mulder shrugged his shoulders. "I was going to. As soon as I got back from my run. Hey, you want some coffee?" he sought to change the subject as he headed for the kitchen to start the coffee maker.

"Sure," said Scully, putting down the remote control and following him as far as the kitchen doorway. She watched as he proceeded in a nonchalant fashion to fill the coffee maker with coffee and add water. "That video," she began, keeping her voice level, "do you want to talk about it?"

His movements froze for a moment as he stood with his back to her. "Not much to talk about really," he said as he stood staring at the brewing coffee dripping into the pot.

"Someone sends you a video showing the effects of some sort of memory wipe, and you don't think there's much of anything to say about it?"

When he didn't bother to respond, Scully stepped closer and grabbed his arm, meaning to turn him towards her but the action startled him instead. He let out a yelp, flinched from her touch, turned and nearly bolted out of the apartment before he caught himself.


The look on his face was a combination of terror and despair. He could no longer pretend that he wasn't upset. He flopped down onto one of the dining chairs and covered his face with both hands as he lost the battle against an onslaught of tears. Scully quickly rushed to embrace him. At first, he fought weakly against her attempt at comforting him, but she refused to let him suffer alone. Smoothing his hair down and patting his back, she rocked him gently. "I'm so sorry, Mulder," she cooed. "They had no right to do that to you."

"I don't remember them being there, Scully," Mulder sniffled. "How... how can I not remember...? What the hell did they do to me that I can't remember any of it?"

"I don't know, Mulder. I don't know." She petted him for a few moments longer until he began to calm himself.

Mulder sat up straight and wiped the dampness from his face with the sleeve of his sweat shirt. His face burned with embarrassment at having blubbered so shamefully in his partner's presence. Though she had given him a bit of space, her right hand was still stroking the nape of his neck.

"I'm sorry," he apologized for the tearful outburst.

"Don't be... Why didn't you call me last night when you first saw what was on the tape?"

"At first I was just too shocked to even think straight. But then I hit rewind and watched it over and over again. I tried to make myself remember. But I couldn't. I don't remember anyone else coming into that cell. I didn't even dream about anybody else being there. It's like... back at Ellens Air Base. All I remember, is going through the hole in the fence that those kids showed me, and the next thing I know, you had a gun on that reporter and you were yelling at me to get in the car... I must have seen something while I was there, Scully. I must have seen something important. I found out the truth... but they made me not remember what it was."

"These are the same people, Mulder. They wanted to make sure you still don't remember, that you never remember them or what you learned that night. So who do you think sent you the tape?"

"I don't know. I signaled a meeting for Mr. X, expecting to meet him in the park but he never showed. Guess he didn't figure it was safe."

"So now what?"



"Maybe Dr. Nettles can put me under hypnosis and help bring those missing memories to surface. Maybe I'll be able to identify the faces and even recall the kind of procedure they used on me."

"Okay, let's say you do remember something. What happens then, Mulder?"

"What do you mean what happens? We expose them, of course! Bring them to justice."

"Mulder, this is the military government we're talking about."

"So? Are you saying they're immune to our justice system?"

"I'm saying that these people are powerful, cunning and ruthless, and they get away with murder."

"So you're saying we should do nothing? We should continue letting them get away with unsanctioned experiments on the general public? We should just sit back and let them erase bits of peoples' lives, screw with their minds and make them afraid of being home alone?"

He said more than he meant to. He definitely got Scully's attention with that last comment. He had to look away when her eyes bored through him with a pained helplessness.

"I'm not blind, Mulder," Scully spoke softly. "I know it's hard for you now. But things will get better. Just give it time. In the meanwhile, I'd like for you to do something for me. I've never asked you to do this before, but I'm asking now." She could tell he was listening, though his eyes were focused elsewhere. "I want you to promise me that you won't pursue this case any further."

He looked at her in disbelief. "What?"

"I want you to promise me that you won't go running off to Idaho, trying to bully your way onto that air base and accusing the government of mind control experiments."

"But, Scully -"

"Mulder, I'm afraid for you! I watched you on that video tape and all I could think of were those two missing pilots back in Idaho we went to investigate. When the first one mysteriously showed back up, all he could do was sit and pluck out his own hair and make fishing lures all day long. Then the other one comes back home and his own wife doesn't even recognize him anymore because so much of his mind has been wiped away... I don't want that to happen to you, Mulder. But they know where you are and they know how to get to you whenever they want. They let you go this time because they felt you weren't a threat. Don't give them a reason to do you any more damage."

"Scully... I understand that you're concerned, but I can't turn my back and walk away from this. We have the tape. This time we have proof."

"For how long? They always give us something we think we can win with, but then they always snatch it away. God, Mulder... talking about losing the war, we can't even win a skirmish! I don't like seeing them getting away with it any more than you do, but odds are they will. And all I know is that I don't want to see you suffer like that again. Please promise me you won't do anything to make them come after you again."

"Scully, I didn't do anything this time, and they came."

"Mulder, please!" she raised her voice to emphasize how strongly she felt about the issue. "Promise me that you won't try to go after them."

A promise such as that was harder to make than it was to keep, and he knew that if he made it to her, he would have no choice but to keep it. But he took a moment and thought about everything else she had said. She was right. From the start, they had fought battles they couldn't win and each had sustained substantial casualties along the way. He also considered the results of not making her the promise and knew instinctively that their relationship would be in jeopardy. In his state of mind now, he couldn't afford to be without her.

Her right hand lay on the table between them. His left hand covered hers. After a moment, he nodded silently, followed by a barely audible, "Okay."

Scully released the breath she'd been holding in while awaiting his response. "Thank you," she whispered.

Three Weeks Later - FBI Headquarters, Dr. Nettles' Office - 11:45 a.m.

Mulder stood in front of the window in Dr. Nettles' office and spoke with his back to the doctor. "Don't bother penciling me in on your calendar for next week. This will be our last session," he told her. He had been seeing her voluntarily twice weekly for the past three weeks.

Dr. Nettles looked up from her notepad as she sat in a chair on the other side of the room. "Have we completed our journey already?" she asked while removing her glasses.

"I've gone as far as I care to with you." Mulder turned to face her. "Don't get me wrong. You've been a great help. You've helped me deal with my recently developed phobia and I'm feeling more secure and in control of my life. I feel ready to move on now."

"I'll admit, you have come a long way in a relatively short time. But what about those missing memories? Aren't you interested in trying to recapture them? Is what happened to you during your abduction no longer a matter of importance to you?"

"Yes, it is very important to me. But there are other considerations that I find are more significant... Besides, what I don't know can't hurt me, right?"

Mulder thanked the doctor with a smile and a handshake, then left her office for the very last time. As he stepped out into the hallway, he nearly ran into a white-haired, black-suited gentleman passing by. Mulder picked up a newspaper the man had been carrying and dropped with their near collision.

"Excuse me," said Mulder as he handed the man back his paper.

The man with white hair smiled and nodded politely. Mulder went on his way without a second thought. The man watched the tall agent casually as he boarded an elevator going down. The man then entered the side door of Dr. Nettles' office.

"So how did it go?" asked the white-haired man as he settled down on the doctor's couch.

"This was his last session," Dr. Nettles responded flatly.


"His decision, not mine."

"No hypnotherapy?"

"No. I believe that he really wanted to, but I have a feeling his partner may have talked him out of it."

"Ah, yes, beauty can be persuasive. But how unfortunate. I'm afraid we're still saddled with some unanswered questions. Can the subject be hypnotized into remembering? Are the memories still there, trapped underneath his subconscious? The experiment's not truly complete without those answers... Oh well... A scientist's work is never done."



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