He held her gaze with his own for a moment before turning back to the computer and beginning to readâ¦
Scully watched Mulderâs face as he read, gauging his progress by his facial expressions. First there was surprise as he realized at last what it was that had upset her so badly. When he reached the reference to Emily his eyes filled with sadness and he threw a concerned glance her way. She gave him a tiny smile.
âIâm ok, Mulder.â She had felt a momentary twinge of pain upon seeing Emilyâs name, but had determinedly pushed it aside in order to focus on the matters at hand. Falling apart over her own lost little girl now wasnât going to help anyone.
He looked at her thoughtfully for a moment until he was convinced that she wasnât just placating him before returning to the laptop.
She watched him go into âSpecial Agentâ mode as he read the description of the van, his brow furrowed into a look of concentration that told her he was dedicating the license plate number to that photographic memory of his, as surely as if heâd picked up a pen and paper and written it down.
A gamut of emotions crossed his face as he went on. The first of which, sympathy with the little girlâs mother, was completely understandable in Scullyâs mind. Mulder understood better than most the fear and helplessness brought on by having a loved one unexpectedly taken away, having lived with the pain of not knowing what had become of his sister for more than half of his life.
Next came disgust as it became apparent just what fate this man intended for little Katie, the same terrible fate that ostensibly had befallen others before her at the hands of this monster. When he hurriedly checked his watch, Scully knew heâd almost reached the end of the narrative, just as she knew which emotion he would display next. By the time he finished reading, his face had taken on the same grayish cast that hers had earlier.
âJesus, Scully. Iâm sorryâ¦I had no idea!â He looked absolutely sick with guilt, just as sheâd known he would. When it came to shouldering responsibility and accepting blame, Mulder was the king, and sheâd known as soon as sheâd read her entreaty to be woken up that he would castigate himself for not waking her sooner. She rushed to reassure him.
âMulder, itâs ok, I donât remember any of it, I swear. Itâs not your fault.â He looked at her sadly, wanting to believe her assertions, but at the same time not quite ready to give up his self-reproach.
âAll I had to do was put out a hand and stop you, Scully, and you wouldnât have had to go through all that!â
Ok, enough was enough. His concern for her mental well-being was sweet, but Scully couldnât shake the feeling that they were running out of time. So, while Scully wasnât even sure she trusted the things sheâd typed â hell, she didnât even really want to accept the fact that sheâd typed them â she decided to play the one card that would break her partner out of his self-inflicted guilt trip the quickest. His belief.
âLook Mulder, just because I had some weird dream that somehow manifested itself into the Word document from hellâ¦â she began, only to be interrupted by him. âScully, after what happened last night, how can you possibly say that? Itâs more than just a dream, and you know it. Itâs happening again, only this time, we have proof!â
âDo you honestly believe that Mulder? That this is some kind of â of a premonition, or something?â She worked hard to inject just the right amount of skepticism and doubt into her tone. She only wanted to convince him that for once something wasnât his fault, not piss him off.
âYes, I do. Everything you said to me on the phone last night came true, Scully. Every single word.â He checked his watch. âI wonât be at all surprised in three or four minutes when a windowless white van with license plate number XTM467 pulls into the drive-thru.â
âDo you also believe that there will be a little girl, stolen from her home, unconscious in the back of this van?â
He nodded slowly, a look of pain clouding his eyes for a moment, and she couldnât help wondering once again if he was thinking of Samantha. She reached out and covered his hand with her own where it rested on his thigh.
âWouldnât it be worth it then, Mulder? Wouldnât it be worth the endurance of a bad dream, a nightmare not even remembered upon waking, if it meant you could spare an innocent child from having to experience those very same, very real horrors? It is to me. If you had woken me any sooner Mulder, we might not be here right now.â
He couldnât help a wry smile as he realized how his partner had just smoothly manipulated him out of his guilt.
âOk, ok, point taken. Jeez, Scully, am I always so predictable, or did you just have another psychic moment?â
He had to laugh at the discomfited expression his mention of her ânewfound talentâ produced. Sometimes Scully could be pretty predictable herself.
She smirked at his deliberate dig. âHa ha, Mulder, very funâ¦â She broke off abruptly and stared at him, wide-eyed. âHeâs almost here,â she whispered. âGod Mulder, how can I know that? Am I going crazy?â
Her blue eyes were perplexed as she looked at him, and he returned her earlier gesture, reaching out to take one of her hands in his own.
âOf course youâre not crazy,â he told her gently. He fiddled absently with her bracelet as he spoke. âWeâre going to figure this out, Scully. But right now, I think we need to determine a course of action. Like you said, heâll be here soon.â
She looked as if she wanted to argue with him. He knew her well enough to know the doubts that plagued her. Despite the fact that she had typed the words herself, she questioned their validity.
To his partnerâs rational, scientific way of thinking, it was easier for her to distrust her own sanity rather than accept that she had experienced a premonition. Scully was the only person he knew who could sit there with the truth in her lap, both literally as well as figuratively, and still not see it for what it was.
He could see in her eyes that she doubted the existence of the van, itâs imminent arrival at this particular location, and the existence of its supposed passenger. At the same time, however, Mulder knew she would give no voice to these doubts. She could spend the next two days asking herself âwhat if?â and never come up with a scientific explanation that would overshadow the most important question. What if it was true? Scully might not always be as open to extreme possibilities as he would like, but she would never let her skepticism endanger the life of an innocent child. So as long as there was a remote chance that a little girl was in danger, Scully would do whatever was necessary to protect her.
She sighed mightily and broke eye contact at last, looking around the parking lot. âSo, whatâs the best way to do this, Mulder?â
He surveyed the drive-thru and found it to be a typical McDonaldsâ design. From the point of entry all the way to the pick up window, a high curb, most likely placed there to deter people from leaving the line when they got frustrated with the wait, bordered the lane. The portion of the lane in between the payment and pick-up windows was roofed to protect both customers and cashiers from the worst of the elements, the overhang being supported by three brick columns on the right side of the lane, one at either end of the canopy, the third in the middle. Mulder noted that there was not sufficient space between each column to drive a car through. Once a vehicle was under the roofed section, the only way out was forwards or backwards, and from the parking spot Scully had directed him to, they were in a perfect position to quickly block the drive-thru exit. It was simply a matter of pulling forward fifteen feet or so.
âI think you already know the answer to that, Scully. Isnât that why you insisted on this particular parking space?â
âWell, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but looking at it now, Iâm not so sure. If thereâs no one directly behind him in line, he could still back out. Assuming, that is, that he even exists.â
âI thought of that as well, but frankly I donât see any better options. I think that if we time it just right, he should be distracted enough with picking up his order that he wonât know what hit him. I just wish your little manifesto had mentioned whether or not this guy was carrying any weapons.â
âHeâs not.â The words tumbled out automatically, before sheâd really even had a chance to process the question, but once they were out, she knew it was a correct assessment.
âHeâs very sure of himself, almost cocky. He used the chloroform to get her out of the yard quietly, but doesnât feel he needs any weapons. Heâs completely convinced that there is no way anyone would ever catch on to what heâs done, so the only person heâs going to have to contend with is a four-year-old child.â She had been looking at him as she made this speech, but at its conclusion dropped her eyes to her lap, embarrassed.
âThat makes sense. Especially if heâs gotten away with this in the past.â
He knew she was uncomfortable with her intimate knowledge of the kidnapper, given the method by which sheâd come to have this information. He decided to focus on the facts for now, and ignore the way in which theyâd been obtained.
âI think we can do this, Scully. As far as he knows, that little girl hasnât even been declared missing yet, so heâs not expecting any trouble. Weâve got the advantage here; we know heâs coming.â He picked up his cell phone and continued. âAnd in a minute, so will the Queen Anne County PD. A little back-up never hurts.â
She raised her eyes to his. âThereâs no time for that Mulder. Heâs here.â
They both turned to watch a white van enter the restaurantâs parking lot and head for the drive thru, its license plate obscured by distance. Both agents took silent notice of the fact that the cargo portion of the van had no windows.
In unison, weapons were unholstered and checked, seatbelts unfastened to enable quick movement from the car. Outwardly, their motions were practiced, precise, each in tandem with the other, as if the partners were not separate units, but rather two parts of the same whole. Inwardly, however, their thoughts as they each pondered the arrival of the van betrayed their individuality. While one, the believer, was filled with a sense of wonder to find that the vehicle was real, and that it was here, exactly where it had been foretold, the skeptic viewed this same event with doubt and fear. Not a fear of the kidnapper, or even of the possibility of being wrong, but rather the exact opposite: the fear that her prediction had been right.
They waited with baited breath for the van to reappear in their line of sight. Either there were a few cars ahead of it, or the cashier was extremely slow, because the wait seemed to span an eternity.
Three cars later, their quarry rounded the corner and headed for the payment window. It was close enough now for the license plate to be read, and although neither had really doubted that this was the vehicle for which theyâd been waiting, a collective gasp filled the car as they were confronted at last with the truth. XTM467.
Hazel eyes met blue as both mentally steeled themselves for the upcoming battle that they now knew was inevitable.
âYou ready?â asked Mulder, slipping the car into drive.
She nodded somberly, her left hand on the door handle, the gun in her right.
âThen letâs go introduce this guy to the newest addition to the menu. The UN-happy meal.â
In the end, capturing the driver of the van proved to be ridiculously easy. He was so engrossed in berating the poor teenager whoâd mistakenly placed a cheeseburger instead of a hamburger in his bag that he never noticed the two FBI agents until their car had closed off the end of the drive-thru lane and Scullyâs gun was inches from his face. Mulderâs voice brought his attention to the front of the van, where he found another weapon aimed at him through the windshield.
âFBI! Turn off your vehicle and put your hands where we can see them!â
After the briefest of pauses the man complied, shutting down the engine and raising his hands in the air. All wide-eyed innocence, he grinned good-naturedly at Scully. âWow! Real, honest-to-goodness FBI agents? What can I do for you, officers? Or should I say âagentsâ?â
All business, Scully ignored his friendly overtures. âHereâs how weâre going to do this. I am going to open your door. When I tell you, I want you to open it the rest of the way with your foot, step out of the car, and face me. You will move slowly, and keep your hands up at all times. Do you understand?â
His smile was still in place, but no longer quite reached his eyes. He nodded at her before his gaze flicked to Mulder, who had moved around even with the driverâs side front fender so that he now had a clear shot through the open window. âWhatâs going on here? Have I done something wrong?â
âThatâs what weâre here to find out, sir. Now please, just do as Agent Scully says, and weâll discuss the problem momentarily.â
Mulderâs speech wasnât so much meant to soothe the manâs fears, as it was to distract him while Scully opened the door. Once she had it opened slightly, Scully moved several steps toward the rear of the van, allowing the man enough room to exit the vehicle.
âNow remember,â she said, âKeep your hands up, and donât make any sudden movements. I want you to use your left foot, and push the door all the way open. Good. Now, get out of the van, and take two steps towards me. Right there. Stop.â
Once the suspect was out of the way, Mulder moved up and closed the door. He then pulled out the handcuffs that heâd wished heâd had the foresight to bring along with him the previous night, and proceeded to secure their prisoner.
At the first touch of cold steel against his right wrist the cheerful mask slipped a notch, and by the time both wrists were enclosed, heâd given up all pretense of his amiable faÃ§ade. He glared at Scully, who stood before him, covering him with her weapon while her partner finished his task. Outwardly, she appeared to be waiting patiently, her face betraying no emotion. Inwardly, however, it was taking every bit of concentration she had to keep from shooting the bastard where he stood.
From the moment heâd left the van to stand before her, her mind had begun to fill with images of children, their angelic faces distorted by the pain and fear being inflicted on them by this monster who stood before her now. They flickered through her brain, one after another, each lasting no longer than the flashbulb on a camera, and yet, as the light from a camera lingers in oneâs vision long after the flash is over, Scully felt that each of these mental pictures were being indelibly etched into her memory.
She had no recollection of ever seeing any of these children before, but was equally certain that she would remember each and every face for the rest of her life. The obscene internal slide-show continued, each image more vivid and horrific than the last, until finally Scully could stand it no longer. She stepped forward and raised her weapon, aiming at a spot directly between his eyes.
âAre you Kenneth Gallant?â She practically spat the question at him, disgust and loathing clearly evident in her voice.
At Gallantâs affirmative nod, Mulder caught the nearly imperceptible widening of her eyes that told him Scully was just as surprised to have given voice to the manâs identity as he had been to hear it.
The partnersâ eyes met and locked, and in Scullyâs, Mulder saw a grudging acceptance. She may not yet understand the how and why of it, but he knew in that moment that she no longer doubted what this man was. He gave her a tiny nod of encouragement, and her eyes snapped back to the other manâs face.
âMr. Gallant, you are under arrest. Mulder, you read him his rights and Iâm going to check the back of the van.â She turned and took two steps towards the rear of the vehicle before his voice stopped her in her tracks.
âUnder arrest? For what? You canât just arrest me for no reason. What did I do?â
Scully whirled around to face him, both eyebrows raised impossibly high in an incredulous expression.
âWhat did you do?â The question came out a mere whisper, her voice as soft as a spring breeze, but Mulder could see the storm clouds gathering on the horizon. ** Look out folks, here comes Hurricane Scully, ** thought Mulder. He was profoundly grateful that for once, the full force of her Irish temper wasnât focused on him. His partner was normally quiet and reserved with the patience of a saint, but once pushed to her limits, her ire was quite a formidable thing indeed.
Mulder found himself thankful that she had already reholstered her weapon, because judging by the look of pure hatred on her face, she might have been tempted to use it had the gun still been at hand. As it was, he thought that he might yet have to intervene if she decided that bare hands would do just as nicely.
Her cheeks flushed with rage, she advanced on the man slowly. Despite the fact that she was seven or eight inches shorter than he, and that he probably outweighed her by eighty pounds, he found himself instinctively backing away from the hostility he saw in her eyes. Finally his back came up against the side of the van, stopping his retreat. She continued until their faces were inches apart, and when she spoke, her voice was cold and low.
âMichael Hart, 12/4/97. Amy Phillips, 3/17/98. Corey Davidson 7/29/98. Madeline Williams 11/7/98. Tyler Jenkins, 2/28/99. Iâll tell you what you did, you sick son of a bitch. You stole them from their homes, acted out your twisted fantasies on them, forced your disgusting perversions on them, and when you were finished, you killed them. You are under arrest for the murder of five innocent children, you sorry excuse for a human being, as well as for kidnapping and plotting to murder Katie Harris today.â
Her voice had gradually risen to a shout midway through her tirade, but dropped back down to a whisper once again.
âYouâll get the death penalty for this, and Iâll be right there, in the front row. I can see it as surely as if it were happening right now. No stay-of-executions for you. Mark it on your calendar â December 12th of next year â thatâs the big day. Sure hope it was worth it.â
Had Mulder any doubts as to the accuracy of the names and dates his partner recited, he needed only to look at Gallantâs face in order for them to be dismissed. Surprise was evident there, not the astonishment of one being wrongfully accused of a crime, but rather the amazement of one that assumed himself to be untraceable being found out. This had gone on for so long now, just over a year and a half by Scullyâs accounting, that Gallant had begun to think that his crimes would never catch up with him. To be confronted with all six of them at one time was bound to be traumatic. Of course, the shock mixed into his expression could also have something to do with the fact that Scully had just predicted the date of his death.
He decided it was time to end the staring match between his partner and their captive before she really did attack him. He stepped up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder, feeling her startle slightly. He leaned toward her until his mouth was near her left ear, and spoke quietly.
âScully, Iâve got him. Why donât you go check on the little girl?â
Their eyes met and his asked a silent question.
** Are you ok? **
She gave a slight nod, whether in response to his verbal or non-verbal inquiry, he wasnât sure. That is, until she moved once again towards the rear of the van, and her softly spoken, âIâm ok, Mulder,â reached his ears. He turned back to Gallant, thinking to himself, ** And they call me Spooky? **
For a moment, Scully could do nothing but stare into the back of the van. She didnât know why she was so surprised, really, when this was exactly what she had expected to find. She supposed it had something to do with the strangeness of the events leading up to this point, and the fact that this represented their culmination. No matter what else had happened up until now, the final proof as to whether this was all one big coincidence or there was some other force at work hinged upon what she found in this van. And now that this evidence, conclusive evidence, was staring her in the face, Scully was having a hard time figuring out exactly what it meant.
She stood there, trying to somehow get her mind to wrap around this newest information in a way that made some sort of sense until a sound interrupted her contemplation. When the little girl before her sighed softly in her chloroform-induced sleep and began to show signs of awakening, Scully gave herself a mental shake and climbed into the van to check on her small patient.
After Scully had found little Katie Harris in the back of Kenneth Gallantâs van, the police had been summoned, as well as Katieâs parents. Both were grateful that the pair had caught the perpetrator so quickly, and all seemed to accept the story they gave as to how they had managed to do so.
Scully had concocted quite an interesting little tale, stating that the partners had stopped at the restaurant to eat on the way home from investigating a case in Jonesboro, and on the way back to their car had heard little Katie crying in the back of the van as it sat in the drive-thru line. Since she and her partner had recently begun looking into a series of missing children on Marylandâs Eastern Shore dating back to late 1997, they decided to check out the source of the crying, rescuing little Katie from the pedophile before she came to any real harm.
Scully then gave the police the names and âmissing sinceâ dates of the other five children Gallant had taken, under the guise of their ongoing âinvestigationâ. She suggested that they check property records to see if Gallant owned any remote holdings nearby. Something that would be isolated enough to suit his evil purposes.
Scully already knew what a thorough investigation would find, but if she were to tell the Queen Anne County police that, she would be forced to explain how she came by that knowledge, and that simply wasnât something she was prepared to do. So, the best Scully could do for now was to give them a gentle push in the right direction and trust that the police would gather enough evidence against Gallant to keep him out of commission.
Mulder remained fairly quiet throughout the whole process, not contributing much to the story, but to his credit, he didnât disagree with Scullyâs version of it either. Finally at around 8:30pm, the police were satisfied that they had all the relevant information, and the duo was allowed to leave.
Mulder waited until they reentered the highway before speaking.
âGee Scully, I never knew you could be such a convincing liar.â This was said with a trace of sarcasm, leading Scully to believe that Mulder was only half-kidding. She had an idea about what was bothering him. They hadnât really had time to discuss what they were going to say to the police, and when the time had come, he had left the decision to her. She had known that he wouldnât care much for her choice, not so much because she had lied, but because of what she had omitted.
Mulder would be the last person to berate her for âparticipating in a campaign of misinformation,â having done it himself on more than one occasion when he felt the situation warranted such actions. Scully suspected that Mulderâs upset was due more to the fact that she had purposely left out any and all references to the paranormal happenings that had led them to that particular place at that particular time.
He would view that as a denial on her part of everything that they had witnessed and would no doubt be disappointed and even slightly hurt that she could still disavow what to him was so glaringly obvious. She suddenly found that she wanted very much for him to understand where she was coming from.
âLook Mulder, I know that youâre disappointed with the story I gave the police.â
When he opened his mouth to speak, she held up a hand. âNo, wait, just let me say this, ok?â He closed his mouth and nodded for her to continue.
âOk. I know that you would have preferred that we tell it like it really happened, beginning with me typing in my sleep and ending with me blurting out the names of five dead children that I was hearing about for the first time even as I was speaking them. I know you feel that by denying what really happened Iâm going against everything that weâve worked to prove with the X-files, and that the only way the straight-laced Dr. Scully can allow herself to sign off on the official report is by first trying to legitimize it with normalcy. Now, that may have held true to some degree way back when we worked on the Boggs case, but thatâs not why I did it today. I gave that story to the police for one reason, and one reason only, Mulder. Because I do believe.â
The look he gave her was almost comical, a mixture of astonishment at her admission, and confusion over what she actually meant by it. She gave him a small smile.
âYes, you heard me right. Mulder, when I opened up the back of that van, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would find that little girl there. And do you know why? Because I could âseeâ her. In my head. If you had asked me before Iâd opened that door, I couldâve told you exactly what she looked like and described her clothing to you. As to how I happened to have that knowledge, or why, I canât even begin to explain, though Iâm quite sure you have several theories on the subject,â when he prepared to expound upon the aforementioned theories, she continued quickly, âwhich Iâm afraid Iâm not quite ready to discuss yet. The point is, I donât know how it could be possible, but I just knew. As soon as I laid eyes on Kenneth Gallant, I knew what he was, what he had done to those other children, and what he was planning to do to Katie Harris. As surely as I know my own name, I just knew. And that was why I was equally certain that I could not tell the police the true story. That man is a monster, Mulder. The things he did to those children, the way he made them suffer before theyâ¦â
Her voice trailed off and she blinked back tears as the memories of her earlier visions assaulted her. âThere was no way I could risk giving a statement to the police that would cause them to regard this case with anything less than the utmost sincerity. If I told them how we really came to stop that man, that we had no true probable cause, that we had in fact stopped him because of some kind of a premonition that Iâd had in my sleep, that bastard would be back out on the streets by morning, searching out his next victim. He cannot ever be allowed to hurt another child, Mulder. I simply couldnât allow that to happen. Iâm sorry if you donât see it that way, but I justâ¦couldnât.â
The tears threatened again, and she turned her face towards the window so he wouldnât see. He hadnât said a word throughout her entire speech, and she was curious to know his reaction, but didnât trust herself to turn around until she got her emotions back under control. She didnât think he would understand, didnât think he really could unless heâd seen the gruesome atrocities that had been inflicted on those children himself, so she was surprised to feel him cover her hand where it lay between them on the seat with his own.
âYou did the right thing, Scully.â
She turned quickly to look at him, to see what the âbutâ was, but there was only approval in his eyes and a warm smile on his face. He squeezed her hand briefly before releasing it to once again grasp the steering wheel.
âHow about a little music, Scully? You can even pick the station.â
âJust as long as you donât expect me to sing, Mulder,â she quipped, grateful that he was willing to forego the inevitable discussion of the past dayâs events for the present time.
To show her appreciation, she chose a light rock station that they both liked rather than the classical music station that she loved and he hated. They spent the rest of the hour-long drive back to DC simply enjoying the music, an unspoken agreement between them that tomorrow would be soon enough to try and solve this newest mystery.
End Chapter Three