Shadows of Winter
Part V
By Jaime Lyn

All Disclaimers in part one.  Welcome to the mytharc.  ;-)  Rated 'PG.'  


The hospital cafeteria was wasn't exactly a dead-of-night ghost town, but it wasn't the hubbub of the town square, either.  Corner tables and side booths were dotted with mingling diners wearing visitors' badges, and hospital personnel sporting dangling ID lanyards.  The servers and janitorial staff behind the counter stood in a cluster around an old, black and white Zenith, loudly debating whether or not the predicted storm would bring in as much snowfall as the news suggested.  Apparently, when nothing-much was the norm, the buzz was always the weather.  

Scully had forgone her lab coat in favor of walking the halls in her pantsuit, but her ID badge still hung around her neck as a bold proclamation of the professional she would forever be.  The baby fidgeted on her hip, grabbing at anything that darted out towards him: the corners of walls and the edges of opened doors, the bars from food carts and the ID badges of other doctors.  He babbled incessantly to passers-by in the language of Gobbledygook, and occasionally he interspersed a "shit" or two when he especially liked someone.  If Mulder hadn't been so on edge about why they were going to the cafeteria, Scully's stuttered explanations about their child's newly established grasp of English swear-words would probably have amused Mulder to no end.  

As it went, Mulder had no concrete explanations for Scully, or for himself, on why their Universe had suddenly been turned on its head.  They'd been living in Canada without incident for four months now, and had managed to maintain anonymity ever since Mulder's break out of jail back in May. Nobody - not even Skinner, Doggett, or Reyes, knew of their whereabouts.  But now with William returned, and Marita somehow in town, and evidence that pointed towards alien involvement, perhaps their false sense of anonymity had been just that: false, fabricated; it was the lie that he and Scully chose to believe.  

These men in power, the men who continued to propagate a plan to colonize the planet, they certainly had demonstrated a proficiency in keeping tabs on whoever pleased them.  If their technology was still being utilized, then someone still had an agenda.  But Mulder had assumed most of the original conspirators had died, or if they weren't already dead, they'd at least gone into hiding across the globe; grains of sand were always harder to mobilize when scattered over a stadium sized surface.  

But even the alien threat had diminished considerably since William's adoption and Mulder's trial, and ever since New Mexico Mulder had thought they were safe.  Relatively safe, that is.  The human threat was still a threat, but it was considerably easier to deal with.  Humans had frailties - they were expendable.  Supersoldiers essentially had no frailties, and they had a sickening adeptness at smoking out what they wanted, when they wanted it.   

And then there was this newest development: Marita Covarrubias, Mulder's former contact, and a Special Representative to the United Nations.  While Marita had never presented herself as a threat, nor had she stood specifically on either side of the fence, she was a hard-assed mercenary as much as Alex Krycek had been.  She worked for nobody but herself.  Her duplicity was wrapped in a prettier package, but it existed, nonetheless. If Marita was here to warn him and Scully, then she was here for her own reasons.  And if it was William she had come to claim, she wasn't going to get him.  Not so long as Mulder moved and breathed.    

"Paul - "

Mulder paused as Scully pressed a hand to his back. He turned to her and caught a glimpse of another woman standing to her left, smiling and shaking hands with William.  The unfamiliar brunette had a hospital ID lanyard hanging from her neck and an uneaten green apple in her free hand; William seemed to be fascinated with taking the apple from her.

"What is it?"

"Dr. Carmichael," Scully answered, nodding to the brown-haired woman at her side.   "Kathy Carmichael.  She's a colleague of mine.  Kathy, this is my husband, Paul."  

"We've met," said Kathy, pushing a long, dark strand of hair back over her ear.  She extended a hand to Mulder, and Mulder shook it.  "Well, not officially."  Dr. Carmichael waved a hand in explanation.  "Your husband hung up on me."

"He does that," said Scully.

Mulder pursed his lips and shrugged, distracted.  He hadn't meant to be rude on the phone, and he certainly didn't mean to be now, but there were other concerns.  If Scully was stalling for time by striking up conversation with her colleagues, then she was only putting off the inevitable.    

"Kathy's going to watch William for a little while," Scully explained, handing off the child to her co-worker.  Her hands lingered on William's back for a wary moment, her blue eyes stark with concern.  She brushed the back of William's head and her lower lip quivered as she kissed his tiny fingers.

Mulder watched the exchange with a degree of apprehension, unsure that he wanted anyone other than Scully touching his child.  If he'd wanted before to give William back to his adoptive parents, he now wanted nothing more than to lock the baby in a room with Scully and board up the door with steel bars.  

"We'll hang out here for a little while," said Kathy, smiling and brushing noses with William, who squealed with excitement.  "You two go do whatever it is you need to do."  

Scully nodded at Kathy, and then steeled her gaze with Mulder.  

"Oh, and Lily?"

At the sound of her name, Scully turned one last time to her colleague, who bounced William on her hip.  "Do me a favor?  Eat something, okay?  Before you leave for the day?  Have some toast or orange juice. You're in the cafeteria, you might as well.  Your glucose levels can't be great."

Scully nodded almost imperceptibly, her breathing hard, long, and deep, her nostrils flared, her eyes clouded with concentration.  Mulder recognized this exercise; Scully was trying to regain her composure.  She wasn't going to pass out again, but she just might burst into tears.  

"She'll eat something," said Mulder, and he touched the top of William's head with his palm.  "If it was me, she'd never let me get away with it."  

"I can imagine," said Kathy, and she settled the baby more firmly onto her hip. In response, William scooped up the doctor's laminated ID badge and stuffed it into his mouth. "Okay then.  We'll be right over there." She chucked a thumb in the direction of a nearby booth.  

Scully forced a smile that seemed dangerously close to tearful resignation.  "Thank you," she said, trailing her fingers down William's back.   Kathy nodded and turned, making her way towards the booth.  

Mulder touched Scully's arm as she watched them go.  "Good call," he said.

Scully took a breath, pivoting on her heels.  "Let's just get this over with."

Mulder nodded.  Both turned and searched the wooden sea of tables and hard-backed plastic chairs.  

At a table in the center of the cafeteria sat the woman they'd come to see; it was indeed Marita Covarrubias, her blonde hair pulled back in a tight bun, her blue eyes straight ahead, her hands folded on the table.  She tilted her chin in silent acknowledgement of Mulder and Scully's presence, and then nodded to the two chairs set in front of her. On the table beside her was a black bag, and next to the bag, a black overcoat.  

"Well, well," she said, her face expressionless as they approached. "If it isn't Agents Eighty-Six and Ninety-Nine. I thought for a minute that I might have the wrong hospital."

Scully sat to the left of Mulder, and both exchanged silent glances.  

"I see my parcel made it to you safe and sound.  That's good."  Marita tilted her chin towards the back booth, where Kathy Carmichael sat entertaining William.  

"Your parcel," said Scully, and her ice-blue eyes refused to give away her hand.  "So this was your doing?"

"Let's just say I had a vested interest in his safety, yes."  Marita re-directed her gaze at Mulder.  "I believe in returning a courtesy."

Scully's eyes narrowed, and a tinge of something unrecognizable rested in the glint of her sapphire irises.  "What do you mean, returning a courtesy?"

"I mean exactly what I said.  Agent Mulder saved my life and I'm returning the courtesy."  Marita seemed to work her jaw before choosing her next words. "There are numerous examples I could give you, Agent Scully, but I'll choose the most obvious.  When he was on trial for murder, Agent Mulder could have used my knowledge of the alien plot to his advantage.  That he didn't act selfishly is a testament to his good character.  He chose my life over his, which is a show of faith other associates would never have afforded me.  Like I said, I believe in returning a courtesy."

Mulder avoided Scully's glance in his direction, his eyes focused on Marita, and then on the table.  Fuzzy details were starting to twist into focus now, and if this situation hadn't already been bad enough, then it was about to get a whole lot worse.

Somehow, he had the distinct feeling that the 'courtesy' Marita claimed she was repaying had nothing to do with the trial, and everything to do with her stay with him in a double-wide trailer in the middle of Southern New Mexico.  

"You stole our son from his foster parents," said Mulder, cringing.  "You were the one who orchestrated the baby switch, and it was your people who crashed into the tree out front, wasn't it?  Let's not kid ourselves and pretend that you did this purely to repay a courtesy.  You knew something, something you still won't say."

Scully frowned and turned to him.  "Mulder?"

Mulder and Marita just stared at each other, searching the silence for answers.    

"Mulder?" Scully repeated, touching his elbow with one finger.  "What's this about a baby switch?"

And like a rubber band, Mulder snapped back to her.  

"I got an email from Agent Doggett this afternoon," Mulder explained.  "William Mulder was given up for adoption on May 13th, 2002. On May 19th, he was taken to a home in the mid-west and given to a couple by the name of Van De Kamp.  He was returned to social services a day later, and another baby was given to the Van De Kamps in his place, although the state currently has no record of this exchange.  Nor do they have any federal records of the baby who took William's place.  A child around the same age, by the name of Moira."  

Scully was silent, her mouth half opened, her pupils darting as if trying to process this.  At both women’s silence, Mulder leaned forward so that his knuckles were mere centimeters from Marita's. "Who is baby Moira?" he demanded in a low voice.  "And don't bullshit me that you don't know, because I think we both know that you do."

Scully's gaze darted from Mulder to Marita.  Marita gazed at her hands, for a moment unwilling to look up, and her hard facade crumbled just slightly, as if Mulder had swung a jackhammer right into the brick wall of her one weakness.  

"Moira was my child," Marita finally admitted, raising a gaze as hard as stone.  If there was a chip in the wall now, she made damn sure no one could see it.

"I didn't plan to have her, I couldn't take care of her, and turning her over to someone else was preferable to leaving her on the side of the road.  There is no place in my life for a child, Agent Mulder, and there never will be.  Her parentage and origin really aren't any of your concern or your business, but she's safe where she is.  She's not like William was. For awhile I thought she might be..."  Marita paused, jutted her chin in defiance. "But she's not. And now she's gone and it doesn't matter any longer.  Your son didn't belong in adoptive care any more than my daughter belonged in mine."  

"You had a child," Scully said, her eyes dangerous.  


"And you gave that child up.  Switched it with mine."



Marita's eyes narrowed.  "I told you why."  

"Oh, right.  I forgot.  Repaying a courtesy."  Scully's voice was laced with bitterness. "So, what then? You're saying you single-handedly 'fixed' things?  You righted my wrong?"

"I gave Agent Mulder his son back," Marita snapped.  

Scully visibly bristled.  Her fist clenched beneath the table. He reached over and squeezed her knee, reminded her he was there, right there beside her.  

"You have no way of knowing whether what you did put my son in even more danger," Scully said, although her voice seemed to soften a hair.  Regardless of circumstances, Scully still understood what it meant to give up a child, and she was too good hearted to not consider that information.  

"Your son is in no greater danger now than he was nine months ago," Marita argued.  

Scully's leg muscles tensed beneath his fingertips.  "Tell me how you seem to have more information on the subject than I do."  

Again, Marita focused on Mulder, and her gaze was so absolute it seemed to disinclude Scully entirely. Mulder shifted at the unwavering attention, unsure of where to rest his hands or how to keep his legs from trembling.  There were some strange waves radiating from the former representative of the UN, and he wasn't sure he liked the direction of the tide.

 If Scully picked up on any of what Mulder did, her gaze never wavered an inch.  

"As you know, Jeffrey Spender admitted he had an axe to grind with his father.  He was determined to put an end to his father's work, just as his father had tried to put an end to him.  During one of the experiments - experiments orchestrated not by supersoldiers, but by scientists working within our own government - Jeffrey was able to get his hands on a concentrated form of iron magnetite.  It was originally derived as a vaccine for counteracting the effects of molecular-reconfigured water. Chloramine water.  The same water Agent Scully was exposed to in the early months of her pregnancy. In large doses, this form of magnetite is lethal to anything with alien DNA."  

"We know all of this," Scully asserted.  

Marita turned, and finally acknowledged his partner's existence at the table.  "Yes, most of it you do," she agreed.  "But what you don't know is that Jeffrey Spender withheld valuable information from you regarding the side-effects of the vaccine."

Mulder's breathing shallowed.  Scully shifted uncomfortably.   

"Side effects," said Mulder, darting his gaze to the booth in the back of the cafeteria.  Kathy Carmichael caught him staring and held one of William's tiny hands up in a wave.  Mulder waved back, forcing a smile, and turned to Marita.  

"What side effects?" Scully demanded.  

"Unless it was never made clear to you," Marita continued, "Your son is not the result of a government experiment.  Nor was he, as far as anyone can tell, a direct result of exposure to chloramine water, either.  Obviously, Agent Scully was less than infertile, since she became pregnant by her own means.  And whatever dormant genetic makeup lies in yours and Agent Scully's DNA, it transferred to your son, and his abilities - his ties to alien life - to all alien life on this planet - were derived from that end.  I'm sure you know how to work a pun-nit square, Agent Scully, and that you know how active and recessive genes combine."

Scully remained silent, but the fist in her lap clenched and unclenched.   

Marita went on, talking solely to Mulder.  "Recessive genes in one of the chromosomal pairs caused a normally dormant trait to surface; a fifth base pair containing trace properties of iron. It's what's otherwise known as 'branched DNA' - not dissimilar to what occurred with Agent Scully's DNA following her abduction. "

Scully squinted, her eyes focused on the wall above Marita's head.  "The implication, then, is that Mulder and I somehow have altered biology, that we were tampered with at the cellular level, and this has affected our very makeup, mutated our genomes in a manner similar to what might occur following exposure to high levels of radiation.  And you're saying we passed this cellular mutation down in our chromosomes - to William."

Mulder turned to Scully, feeling suddenly left behind.  "Fifth base pair?"

Scully afforded him a sideways glance. "All human DNA is made up of four base pairs," she explained, touching an index finger to her bottom lip: a familiar nervous habit.  "Adenine and Thiamine, Cytosine and Guanine.  All four nucleotides can be broken down at the molecular level into nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. Not one of these nucleotides, however, contains iron, and a fifth base pair has never been known to occur naturally.   The presence of an additional pair would upset the very structure of DNA.  It would prevent pair bonding with Deoxyribose - the backbone sugar.  It would be, at the very least, a biological abomination.  It could never survive past conception."

"In a normal human being, no," agreed Marita.  "But in an evolved human, yes."   

"An evolved human," echoed Scully, jutting her chin. If her jaw were screwed on any tighter, Mulder was positive it would break off the bottom of her face.  "So you're saying that my son is one of these - these evolved humans.  That he has branched DNA."  

"When he was born, yes, he did."  

Mulder rubbed his temple, trying to process this.  "But he doesn't anymore."


Scully pursed her lips.  "How is what you're saying even possible?"

Marita turned to Agent Mulder once again, and again, Mulder felt that indecipherable prickling, that there was a subtext going on here he wasn't picking up on.  

"When Jeffrey Spender injected your son with a pure form of magnetite, he in essence destroyed William's fifth base pair by overloading it with iron.  It's a junk sequence - inactive in modern humans because we don't require any of its inherent characteristics, but intrinsic for alien survival. In William, the broken strands were interpreted by his immune system as little more than biological waste.  The protein sequence then began to exit his system en masse, in the form of a toxin - the same type of toxin that exited Agent Scully's system following her abduction and return. Except with William's advanced biological makeup, it's not just poison; it's a means of destruction, Agent Mulder.  For them. "

"Them," echoed Mulder.  "You mean the supersoldiers."

"I mean all of them."

Scully's brow furrowed, and she exchanged a quick glance with Mulder.

"If this is true," Scully said, and her voice crouched to a whisper.  "Then why didn't Jeffrey Spender tell me?  Why would he keep that kind of information from me when he explained everything else?"

Mulder nodded in agreement.  

And for the first time since they'd sat down, Marita actually smiled, her pink lips urging up a dimple in her left cheek. With her fair skin and blue eyes, perfectly formed lips and light blonde hair, she would have been beautiful once - to somebody else, in some life long forgotten.  But too much had been done to her, too many atrocities had hardened her spirit, made her cold.  And her heart wasn't and never would be like Scully's.  Marita Covarrubias was lovely, indeed, but she was little more than a pretty shell for a lonely soul.  She was beauty's broken potential - the personification of an empty shore that never saw visitors.

"Did it never occur to you," said Marita, focusing her cold eyes directly on Scully, "That Jeffrey Spender's motivations were not all that they appeared?"

 "Then why don't you tell me what his real motivations were?"


Mulder glanced from one woman to the other, and it appeared as if he had been completely excluded from this part of the conversation.  Whereas before Marita had directed her comments solely at him, as if Scully was little more than window dressing, she now gazed at Scully in totality, in unspoken showdown.  

"Jeffrey Spender was the forgotten son, Agent Scully.  For years he wondered about the father he never met, only to discover in the end the man he'd sought was little more than a monster, and a coward. A man who had abandoned Jeffrey and his mother for aliens and power and corruption...and the arms of another woman. I'm sure you've met her - Teena Mulder?"

Mulder's teeth sunk down into his bottom lip at the sound of his mother's name, deceased now, lost to this hideous truth.  

"But you already know this," Marita said, her voice like poisoned honey.  "Jeffrey never suspected. And when his mother was abducted one final time, Jeffrey realized that not only was he the forgotten son in his father's eyes, he was the forgotten son in his mother's as well.  Agent Mulder was the man Cassandra Spender sought upon her return from the ship.  Agent Mulder was the one she confided in.  And in the end, Agent Mulder couldn't even save her.  The experiments performed on Jeffrey Spender following his shooting were merely the final straws in a long series of last straws.  His hatred for his family ran much deeper than his hatred for The Cancerman."  

"So Spender was jealous," said Scully, and this time it was her hand on Mulder's knee, offering comfort.  She squeezed him tight, and continued, "And he hated me because of my connection to Mulder."

"It wasn't about you, Agent Scully.  It was never about you."  

"Then he came to me seeking revenge." Scully's fingers pressed over Mulder's lower leg in hard, warm circles. Faster, harder, more insistent.  "That's what you're saying."  

Marita's silence was frightening.  In her eyes was contempt - not for Mulder, but for the woman on the other side of the table.

"And you played right into his hand, didn't you, Agent Scully?"

Scully swallowed.  "Meaning what?"

Mulder's chest deflated in painful slowness, and he felt as if someone had punched him directly in the ribs. Suddenly, Jeffrey Spender's motives all made sense - why he would go to Scully, why he would conceal his identity, why he would inject William with iron magnetite and then imply William would never be safe.  He hadn't done it to save William - he had done it to hurt Mulder.  Spender must have agreed to testify at the trial only because he believed Mulder would die anyway.

"He knew you would give William up for adoption," whispered Mulder, his eyes glazed, unfocused.  He saw it all in his head, every despicable image, word, and motivation.  He felt the anguish, the hatred behind such an act, and it nearly made him sick.  He turned to Scully, and felt incredibly guilty.  "He knew that if he twisted the truth enough, if he made it sound like nothing you could do would keep William safe, that you would give him up.  That you would sever all ties for the sake of the baby.  Then I would never know my son.  He wanted to destroy the project, but he wanted to destroy me just as badly.  He thought never knowing my own child would destroy me - same as he believes it destroyed my real father."  

Scully's eyes watered at this, as if she couldn't take any more revelation for one afternoon, and she swallowed, turning her gaze to the table.  The hand on his leg slid to his knee, and then back up and over the outside of his thigh, before it released to her lap.  

"So they're dying," managed Mulder, redirecting the subject and his focus to Marita.  His brain flicked with sudden understanding, and he replayed the old headline from the newspaper article he'd left in the bedroom: Four U.S CIA Operatives Missing in the Latest String of U.S Government Disappearances.  
"My God," he said.  "All the men in power who aren't human - they're not just disappearing.  They're dying.  The hybrids, the supersoldiers - just one massive, going-out-of-business sale. Is this what you're trying to tell me?"


"And that's how you knew it was safe - that they wouldn't come after William," added Scully, as if air had just been re-inflated into her.   "Because they're afraid of him now, of his biology."  

"For the most part."  Marita nudged her chin in the general direction of the baby.  "The aliens are de-evolving, reverting to their most primitive forms.  The toxin released from William's bloodstream has been killing them slowly, but it has been killing them.  It's been months now. Soon, anything on this planet with alien properties will die, or it will be sucked back into the Earth in a primitive form."

Scully glanced up and touched Mulder's arm.  "Oh my God, Mulder."  A light seemed to sparkle in her eyes.  "I think I see the connection - the missing oil..." Her fingers tickled his elbow.  "Whatever broke into that garage, it was inorganic, unidentifiable except for a scant concentration of iron magnetite.  The substance that killed the cat was a byproduct of this material.  It had to be."  She seemed amazed at her own logic. "Mulder... what we found must have been residue.  The decomposition stage of what once must have been an entity looking for a viable host."

"But it wasn't trying to kill us; it was trying to get away, trying to survive," Mulder finished for her.  "It was looking for a means to an end."  

Marita nodded.  "Oil's disappearing all over the globe.  I'm thinking the prices of petroleum are going to skyrocket in the coming months."

Scully's mouth opened, and she took a few deep breaths.  Her fingers tightened over Mulder's arm.  "Then that means William - he's safe. It's over."  She seemed to be willing herself to this, and her eyes were pleading.  "It's all over."  

"Not yet."  Marita's gaze returned to Mulder, and Scully disappeared from the table again.  

"There is still the human threat, and there are those out there who have discovered what I've done, returning William to you.  They'll come to kill me, and then to kill him - to kill both of you.  In their eyes, you've destroyed their one hope for the second coming.  Whereas once they revered William and his abilities, now the situation has changed.  William is useless to them without his abilities.  Granted, there aren't many of them left, but they do have a leader, and they have a weapon - the last living supersoldier."  For the first time since the conversation began, Marita touched the black bag on the table, running her fingers along the creases.  "Perhaps you know him?  Knowle Rhorer?"

Mulder swallowed.  Knowle Rhorer. Of course, it had to be Knowle Rhorer.  It couldn't be anyone besides Knowle Rhorer.  A headache gripped him, and he felt as if there would be no end to this upside down Universe. Stuck forever in a time warp, Mulder would never get away from the battle long enough to sit by the fire with his partner and his son, and just be normal.  Drink hot chocolate, read a book, decorate a Christmas tree.  He'd never before understood what Scully meant by wanting to stop the endless drive to get out of the car, but he did now.   

"Knowle Rhorer wants to destroy William before William can destroy him," Mulder explained, turning to Scully.  "But with other resources either dead or dying, he'll have to use the members of this cult to get to us, and then he'll kill all of us - us and whoever helped him."  

Scully nodded, and this time a tear did escape from the corners of both red-rimmed eyes.  She paid the moisture no mind and turned a pained gaze toward Marita.  "How can we stop them?"

Marita nodded towards the unopened black bag.  "Destroy Knowle Rhorer and you destroy the movement."

Mulder shook his head, confused.  "I'm not following now - how the hell am I supposed to kill something that won't die?  And how will destroying him keep these sects or cults or whatever the hell they are - how will it keep anyone from coming after William, or after Scully and I?"

"First of all, Knowle Rhorer isn't an identity, it's a prototype," Marita explained, her hard blue eyes softening when she focused on Mulder.  "Half alien, half government created, there were at least twenty Knowle Rhorers patrolling the experiments last year.  Now there is only one.  And he's dying.  The hybrids, the bounty hunters, the clones – they’re all dead. But supersoldiers were able to sustain the most amount of iron in their biology, and now Knowle Rhorer is the last.  

"As for human involvement, the cults have been around for years, since Roswell in '47.  They've always stayed away from you, from your work, because they were afraid of you.  And then your son was born, and the myth they'd for years held as little more than biblical miracle came true.  The true savior was born, and you had become some sort of heretic.  Your opposition to the project became widely known, and they considered you dangerous.  The problem was that they were no longer afraid of you."

Marita finally passed the black bag along to the center of the table, and into Mulder's fingers.  The bag was soft, and velvet, and Mulder crumpled it in his hands, turning to Scully for confirmation.  Scully nodded at him to open it, communicating with her eyes that there would be further discussion later, and Mulder followed her silent instruction.  

Inside was a syringe, and a tiny glass vial filled with amber liquid.   

"Make them afraid again, Agent Mulder.  It's the only way to stop them."  

For a moment, Marita's expressionless mask fell, and there was something else swimming behind her cold, blue eyes.  If Mulder didn't know better, he'd say it was suspiciously close to what he saw in Scully's eyes right after having kissed her.

"It's for Agent Scully," Marita added, dipping her gaze in what seemed an attempt at regaining her composure.  "If the time ever comes for her to need it again."  

"Need what again?"  Mulder frowned - sure that he'd missed something important.  Marita remained silent, and when he turned a questioning glace towards Scully, her focus averted and her cheeks warmed.  A deep thudding erupted in Mulder's stomach; So Scully was hiding something from him.  Something important.

"How do you know all of this?" Scully asked, her nostrils flared, her eyes watery. "Why should we believe you?"

"You're right," said Marita, and she pushed back in her chair and rose to her feet.  "You have no reason to believe me.  I shouldn't know any of this.  About Spender, about the project.  Unless I was there.  Unless I saw what they did.  Unless I overheard what was said.  And like I already told you, I'm simply repaying a courtesy."

"And how did you know how to find us?"

Marita smiled a second time, but there was little mirth in her expression.  She pulled her coat over her shoulders and yanked a folded piece of paper out of her pocket.  The creases were stiff, almost torn, as if she'd gazed at the paper for a good long while before re-folding it and un-folding it and refolding it again.  

She tossed the paper onto the table and shrugged.

"I intercepted an email to Assistant Director Skinner and found out which way you'd likely be headed.  I had no exact coordinates, but I had operatives head up this way in search of you.  A few of them weren't so bright, and they skidded off the road after a night at the bar.  That they ended up on your street is not my doing.  I came to the hospital to look... to find out where they'd taken William, and I came across this - " She gestured to the paper.  "I read between the lines and took a wild guess."  

Mulder unfolded the paper and dropped it to the table for Scully to read with him:  "Starting up Private Investigative Practice and looking for available help.  If you have any special skills, medical, law enforcement or otherwise, and have a strong desire to seek the truth, email Paul Selden at PIseek1@yahoo.com."  

Scully turned to him with a raised eyebrow.  "I don't believe it," she said, a note of incredulity in her voice.  "This is your flier?  Then Marita really couldn't have known...  And the crash, you finding us - it was a coincidence."

"Sometimes, coincidences happen for a reason, Agent Scully, but that doesn't make them contrived," Marita answered, and she cast one last, long look at Mulder.  Their gazes held and something sharp passed from her to him.  
"Understood," said Mulder.  

And just like that, the connection disappeared.  

"Like I said - " Marita’s gaze flitted over Scully's head, across the room to where William sat with Kathy in a tiny booth.  She sighed, and straightened her coat over her shoulders.  "Just repaying a courtesy."