The Spider and the FBI: Part 9 Finale "One of These Days"

Synopsis:
A small-town's idyllic Fourth of July celebration explodes into gunfire as a ruthless hitman targets Scully and Skinner's prisoner. In the ensuing chaos, Skinner is thrust into the crosshairs. This heart-stopping finale leaves lives, and a budding romance between Scully and Skinner, teetering on the brink. Will they survive the night, or will the chilling silence of loss overshadow the festive fireworks?

Notes: 
The title of this final part is drawn from a Neil Young song, ‘One of These Days,’ which I’ve always enjoyed, but it really set a tone for the final scene with Skinner here. I do use a lot of music in my work; however, this is implied, background music for the scene. If you, the reader, is interested, check out the song and maybe you’ll get the vibe. 

This is my first, and probably, my last writing of a gun battle. It might be terrible; it might be great. I feel that I got the point across, but I’m one to read anything with gun battles and really just know what I’ve seen in movies and television, so there it is. I apologize in advance. 

I really wanted to rewrite the epilogue, and always felt I was really mean to an otherwise innocuous character, portraying them in a terribly unfavorable light throughout the story. But the damage was already done, and I left it as is. 

I so enjoyed the editing and essentially the re-read of this work, being so far out from it after the time it was originally written, it felt fresh. And also ended up inspiring some new ideas; missing scenes, and the “in-between” part of Skinner and Scully’s story that I never explored between this and the following part of the series ‘Incognito.’ And that is the next whopper on the list to be edited and reposted. 

I hope this was enjoyable. 

“One of These Days” 
Part 9 of ‘The Spider and the FBI’ 
By PR Chung

Intermittent muzzle flashes blazed through the glass double doors of the Sheriff’s station with alarming suddenness.

Skinner cautiously approached the station, weaving through abandoned vehicles and scattered items. Taking cover behind a parked car, he peered through the glass doors. Inside, he spotted Greenbow lying on the ground in the entryway, her hand resting on a fallen shotgun amidst a pool of blood, her vacant eyes fixed on the front door.

Recalling Greenbow's earlier mention of two other deputies inside, Skinner wondered how many were now lying dead throughout the building. The sound of gunfire reassured him that someone was still fighting back.

Meanwhile, Scully hesitated to follow Skinner without her weapon, feeling vulnerable. She remained across the street, watching him approach the double doors. Suddenly, movement caught her eye: Durokoff and two deputies were approaching from the opposite direction.

Another burst of gunfire erupted from inside, but it didn't deter Durokoff and his deputies, who rushed towards the double doors. Skinner joined them, disappearing from Scully's view as they entered the building.

**************************

Without warning, Mulder turned onto Main Street in Elmo and into the middle of a frantic mob. People were scattering, rushing past his car with faces drawn in terror and panic, screaming and shouting, crying.

He slammed on the brakes just in time to stop before running several people down. Getting out, he immediately heard the gunfire. Drawing his gun, he started in the direction of shots. “Where?” he asked passing people.

“The Sheriff’s station,” one man choked and kept going the opposite direction. 

Approaching the edge of a deserted park he saw Scully huddled behind a parked car, where she was intensely focused on the building across the street. Across the street, Mulder saw Skinner and several men, local deputies, filing into the building. 

Before he could get to her, before he called her name, she started across the pavement, heading for the building, the resonate blasts issuing through the still open double doors.

"Scully!" He called, running toward her. “Scully, wait!”
She never turned, never stopped, either deafened to the sound of his voice by the shots fired or too focused.

*************************

Gerald Bernstein cringed against the back wall of this tiny cell. The elderly man he the cell with was crying against the bars of the next cell, where the man he'd been brought in with had crumpled to the floor and was clutching at his chest, wheezing. They were friends, arrested for some drunken battle that afternoon, but they wouldn't be friends or enemies much longer, Bernstein figured looking at the man in the next cell, who believed was having a heart attack.

Another blast of gunshots ricocheted off the cell walls around Bernstein and the other two men. He squeezed his eyes shut tightly and tried to make himself smaller, pressing into the corner, feeling as though he was about to have a heart attack. 

Heavy footfalls were approaching the cell block now. There was scuffling, then shouting, more gunfire— Bernstein opened his eyes just in time to see a man's body land on the floor and slide in front of his cell. The deputy lay there, his uniform shirt soaking with blood from the gaping wound in his chest, a deathly ugly gurgling escaping his throat as his half-lit eyes rolled around their sockets.

Bernstein’s cell mate’s crying turned to frantic screams as he desperately snatched through the bars for the other man, gathering him up close, trying to move him deeper into the cells and away from whatever was coming next.

Bernstein saw the deputy roll his head side to side, saw him lose his grip on this side arm. The gun made a hollow clicking sound as the metal contacted the tile in front of the cell. He looked at it, his chest constricting with anxious breaths, seeing how close it was— maybe only arm’s length... 

Panting, he dove from the safety of his corner and struck his arm through the bars, pressing his face hard against the cold metal as he wriggled his fingers closer to the gun...

****************************

Skinner and Durokoff were already out of sight when Scully entered the station foyer. The deputies that came with Durokoff were flanking either side of the offices, moving toward the entrance to the inner processing area of the cellblock.

She knelt beside the female deputy, instinctually checking for a pulse and finding none before she took the woman's service weapon from the holster, wondering for a moment, when she glanced at the shotgun lying on the floor, why the deputy had not drawn her side arm instead of the clumsier weapon. It was only second nature to do so.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of her name. 
"Scully?" She turned to see Mulder ducking in the entrance. "What's happened—?"

"Gryzwac," she explained and started into the office area, heading to join the deputies covering Skinner and Durokoff.

"Call Laramie for care flight," Scully heard Durokoff shout from the hall just before one of the deputies bolted into the office to a radio setup across the room.

"Drop the gun!" Skinner's voice suddenly bellowed from in the hallway.

*******************************

"Howdy, pardner!"

Bernstein jerked back from the bars, hiding the deputy’s gun behind his back. His breath coming in shuddered gasps he turned his eyes up to see a man grinning back at him from behind the barrel of a silencer.

He was standing causally in the walkway outside the cell, his bushy brows arched with manic delight.

"I have to ask myself why I even bothered," he said motioning a gun at him. In his other hand he held up the silencer.

Bernstein wordlessly edged away, scooting along the floor on his butt, his palm sweating around the handle of the gun. He’d never handled a gun in his life until now. He knew there were safety latches on them, but had no idea how to release it, how to know if it was on. He didn’t even know if he could fire the thing. 

"The best laid plans, I'll tell you," Gryzwac cocked his head, eyeing Bernstein with a mirthful twinkle in his eyes. "I guess I don't need to tell you that, now, do I, Spider?"

"No." Bernstein managed to pass through his dry throat.

"No," Gryzwac repeated and stepped closer to the cell, all the dangerous playfulness washed from his features. "I didn't think so."

He raised the gun from a casual aim, pointing it at Bernstein.

"Drop the gun!"

*****************************

Spent shells and casings littered the hallway leading into the cell block, blood was spattered on one wall above a deputy who had slumped into a sitting position, his chin resting on his chest. Skinner saw his breathing but before he could say so his cousin knelt to feel for a pulse, calling to the man by name.

Gunfire sounded the narrow hallway, rounds pelted the wall at the end of the hall, burrowing into the dry wall with a brief and unthinkably simple pop.

Skinner fell back and pressed against the facing wall, scrutinizing the jag the hall took around the corner, leading back to cells, studying the forms in the convex mirror tucked in the upper corner. A man down, spread eagle before the first cell, another man dressed in jeans and heavy jacket stood over him back facing the mirror. He was stocky and dark haired as far as Skinner could see. It had to be Gryzwac...

Skinner heard talking, an insane casualness to the voice. He gave Lawrence a quick glance before he moved, signaling him to cover him. With another quick check of the mirror, seeing the man raise his gun toward the cell, Skinner stepped past the cover of the wall, aimed, and called to the man. "Drop the gun!"

What happened next came an instant as Gryzwac half tuned, and Skinner saw a flash of movement in Bernstein's cell, he had a gun. The thought was ripped from his mind as Gryzwac squeezed off two rounds before Skinner fired back. 

Lawrence was there suddenly firing alongside Skinner, who managed to get off one true shot before the second went wild when he was hit in the shoulder. Crying out miserably, Bernstein fell out of sight, the deputy’s gun fell to the floor discharging when it hit. Gryzwac, sucking air in great whoops, down on one knee trying to pass his gun from one hand to the other, froze suddenly, and then, like a cut tree, keeled over, smacking the tiles.

The only sound in the cellblock were sobs and wheezing, and the sound of someone moaning. Lawrence gave a single nod, a signal that brought his men into the cellblock at once, followed by Scully and Mulder. 

Deputies split between Gryzwac and their fallen colleague, both were dead. Bernstein was shot in his arm, likely by Skinner's wild shot, and the old man in the next cell was having breathing difficulties.

"Sir?" Skinner saw Scully pushing past the deputies hurrying to him, Mulder at her elbow.

"Walter, you need to sit down," Lawrence was suddenly in his face, "can you sit down, do you need help?"

Skinner shook his head, grimacing and licking his lips. "No," he murmured again and again.

"Sir, you need to be off your feet," Mulder re-enforced.
"I’m fine, just take this, Mulder." He grunted handing his gun over to the agent, irritated and just wanting to free himself from it. 

"Where were you hit?" Scully questioned him.

"It's just my shoulder—" before he could say more she was there, checking and searching.

"Below the clavicle..." she muttered hurriedly to no one it seemed but herself as she moved to feel his back, "sub-clavicle exit- it went through, there's little blood..."

"I'm shot, hello," Bernstein called as she passed his cell. "I am bleeding here, hello?"

"Shut up!" The deputy knelling beside his dead comrade stood and shouted at him.

"Yeats." Durokoff called the man, equally upset but unwilling to let everything to hell. He motioned toward Bernstein. "Help him if you can."

"EMS is on its way," a third deputy announced coming down the hall from the offices. His face was beat red, his forehead drench in sweat. He looked at Durokoff for a second after his announcement, his chest heaving. "She's dead, Larry." he said, his voice cracking. He glanced over his shoulder down the hall, past one deputy crouched and applying pressure to another's wounds. "Sky's dead."

"Darrell," Durokoff told the man, putting a hand on his shoulder, "why don't you take a blanket out to her. All right?"

Jesus Christ, Skinner thought looking around, had this town ever seen so much in a single night? Maybe a hundred years ago, when it was... The transient thought swam off into the white foam of nausea and pain washing over him. 

His concentration was beginning to reach a desperate level to control the wave of super heat radiating through his shoulder and down his back into his stomach. It felt like someone was trying to disembowel him with a white-hot knife...

A groan escaped him in spite of his efforts.

The sound drew Mulder and Durokoff's attention.

"Walter, sit down?"

"No damn it, I'll be fine." He refused again but as if to spite him his legs began to collapse under him.

Durokoff and Mulder caught him, Mulder drew his hand back from the man's stomach, surprised.

"Shit," Skinner hissed looking at the blood on Mulder's hand.

"Get him to a cot," Durokoff said taking on his cousin’s weight.

"Scully!" Mulder called out to her in a raspy voice.

Skinner saw the look on her face when she came to check on him. Lying back on the cot he saw Bernstein opposite him holding a makeshift compress over his bicep, nursing his arm like a bird with a broken wing. If it weren't for the full-blown nausea Skinner thought he might have been able to take some delight in knowing it was possibly his shot that had done that, but in all honesty, right now, he wouldn't have wished a gunshot wound on even the likes of Gerald Bernstein.

Scully was wordless as she worked to do what she could. Disconnected he looked down at her. She was pulling at his shirt aside, seeking the wound... Their eye contact was brief, affected glances filled with apprehension.

She said something about the upper right flank and began giving instructions, making requests, but the sound of her voice washing away in the pounding in his ears. He watched her mouth moving, saw Mulder go from the cell, even Bernstein stood and took a step closer, genuine concern passing over his features.

Lawrence looked down from over Scully's shoulder, his eyes fast with tension.

Skinner wanted to tell him... His mouth felt numb suddenly as if he were sinking into the bile he could feel raising in the back of his throat. His world began spiraling into darkness. "Dana..."

"Hold on...” he heard her. “Just hold on..."

***************************

St. Vincent's Hospital
Laramie, Wyoming
July 6th

"Hey, sleepy head..."

Scully brought her head up off her arm, her mouth dry, her neck aching. The next thing she was aware of was someone lightly touching her shoulder, and a Styrofoam cup appeared before her bleary eyes.

She lifted her chin to look at Mulder, her eyes stung and felt swollen.

"I couldn't tell if it was decaf or regular," he said and smiled, sitting down in the chair diagonal to the sofa she was lying on. "Want to test it out?"

She sat up slowly, bringing her legs off the sofa and looked around the lounge seeing a man watching a game show across the room with the television on mute. Good thing it was Jeopardy, she thought, taking the coffee from Mulder. "Thank you," her voice was frayed.

He watched her take a few sips, then blink as if it hurt to do so. 

"I thought you had left to go back with Bernstein?" she finally asked him, swiping her hair back from her forehead roughly.

"I decided to stay," he turned his eyes down, picking at an invisible thread on the fabric of the chair arm. "At least until he's moved."

Scully nodded, unmindfully fingering the tiny cross around her neck. "That could be a while..."

"Maybe not as long as you think."

She looked at him, puzzled. "Why?"

Mulder stood, offering his hand for her to take. "Come with me..."

At the door to Skinner's room Mulder released her, giving her a kind and mindful look before he started to go. Scully caught his arm, stopping him. "Where are you going?"

A thin grin broke across his mouth, an excuse eluding him. "I need to get something," he said finally, not a complete lie but it felt like one. She studied him and he assured her, "I'll be back soon."

He gave her a last nod of promise before continuing down the hall, leaving her to go in alone. He hesitated at the end of the hall, watching her stand back to let a nurse pass from the room, then step through the door. 

Mulder’s heart sank a little as he watched her go through the door. He wouldn't question what he'd witnessed over the past two and a half days— the past few months for that matter. Scully was mature and capable, in control of her life, her destiny. He was partner, friend and even soul mate, perhaps, but not her keeper.

Pensive, Mulder turned to go, nearly knocking shoulders with Sheriff Durokoff. 

"Agent Mulder," he said, surprised. Mulder could not help but stare at the man, still not comfortable with the eerie resemblance between him and Skinner. "I thought you were going back to Washington?"

"I wasn't ready to spend any more time confined with Bernstein."

Durokoff nodded, and asked, "How's Walter?"

"He's alert, stable. The doctor's mentioned transporting him back to Washington in another day or two possibly."

Durokoff perked up, a broad grin spreading across his mouth, "That’s great news, I'll go say..."

Mulder clasp a chummy hand over the man's shoulder before he could finish, before he could take a first step toward the room. "I was on my way to get something in the gift shop," he said and shrugged again to himself, "why don't you come with me."

Durokoff frowned, puzzled for a moment before he interpreted Mulder's motives.

************************

"He's in and out," the nurse had told Scully as she left the room. “Pain meds.”

Scully expected as much; his medications for pain would keep him feeling out of sorts for some time. Soon enough he’d be taking less, she thought as she quietly sat down in the chair between the window and his bed. 

Five hours of surgery for arterial grafting and the repair of a lacerated liver as well as the suctioning of four-hundred milliliters of blood from the stomach was nothing to take lightly. Neither was the hemorrhagic shock he'd gone in to before reaching the emergency room here in Laramie.

Overcome again by what a close call this had been for him, she took a breath to calm herself, and perhaps too loudly, too shaky a sound. He shifted, turning his head toward the dull daylight, opening his eyes directly on her.

A small smile passed over her mouth. "Hey," she said just above a whisper, leaning forward in the chair, resting her arms on her thighs.

"Hi,” he said, his voice rough. “How long have you been here?" he asked.

"Not long."

He nodded. "How long have you been here in the hospital?" he asked, suspicion coming through.

She tilted her head, her smile turning labored. "A while," she lied.

He nodded slowly. "What's happened while I was out?"

A loaded question. How should she condense it all? "It’s been determined that Gryzwac was utilizing a police band scanner to track us. But how he tracked Mulder and me prior to your contact with the Albany County Sheriff's department hasn't been resolved."

"Has Bernstein been taken back to Washington?"

"He's already there by now."

"Did Mulder go with him?"

"No. He’s stayed here. Overseeing the local investigation."

Skinner exhaled, turning to look at the ceiling, letting a sudden pang dull, and then he said, "I need to stop doing this."

Scully frowned, not understanding. "What?" she asked.

"Getting shot," he grumbled, adding dryly, "trying to get your attention."

She looked at him, taken aback by what he’d said. He offered a thin smile, emphasizing his teasing. She quietly laughed, tears edging her eyes. "Yes, please stop, you have my… attention."

He arched a brow, amusement touching the corners of his mouth. "I wish you had let me know sooner."

They were silent before he lifted his hand from the bed, offering it to her. She took his fingers into her hand, careful of the IV in his wrist. He curled his fingers, and she mirrored the motion until their fingers were locked together. Nothing said, enough communication passed between their gaze, their touch, to fill a tome.

He squeezed her hand lightly. “You kissed my cousin.”

She looked at him, mildly surprised. He was on a potent dose of pain medication after all. “No. He kissed me.”

Skinner shook his head languidly. “Still... that’s gross.”

Scully laughed, near tears. “It was.”

"Don’t do it again." he said, his voice slurring as he drifted a bit, the medication sneaking up on him. 

“Never.” She promised, standing, and placing a kiss on his forehead. “You’re a lucky man.”

At the feel of her touch, he opened his eyes, looking up at her, “there’s a reason, right?”

“Of course,” she agreed, and she wanted to believe she could be that reason. Was it fate? Or had they always been moving along this path? She squeezed his fingers gently. “I know there is.”

The sound of voices in the hall prompted her to draw back to the chair, and Skinner released her hand. Even while under the effects of the medication, his sense of decorum was intact. Whatever this may be between them, it was private. 

The door came open, and Mulder poked his head in, smiling broadly. "Look who I found wandering in the hall," he announced, coming in with Durokoff following. 

"You're becoming a real pro at this," Mulder attempted levity that seemed as forced as he seemed uncomfortable.

"There’s better things to be a pro at," Skinner countered.

"How you doing, Walter?" Durokoff asked from the foot of the bed, looking penitent. "I hear you're being transferred to a hospital in Washington DC soon."

"I don't think I'm going anywhere soon." Skinner grumbled.

"It'll be at least a couple more days," Scully offered.

"Good thing I found this, then," Mulder declared holding up a videotape in Skinner's view, the gesture jogging Scully's memory. "Cops: Too hot for TV." He grinned.

Skinner scowled. But Scully grinned, the time-honored gesture was not lost on her. 

"We had to cross the street for that," Durokoff added. "It's a very busy street."

Mulder shrugged, throwing a defensive hand out palm up. "It was either this or Marthe Stewart's Secrets of Basket Making Revealed."

Scully stood. "No Super Stars of the Super Bowls?"

"Fresh out."

"And I'm fresh out of patients, Agent Mulder," Skinner attempted his best stern voice. "Why didn't you return to Washington with Bernstein?"

"Giving serious consideration to the history of mob retaliation as a result of one of their own being killed..." Scully quietly excused herself before Skinner could adversely react to the direction Mulder was taking this flimsy self-explanation.

She left without looking back, pausing outside the door, listening to the sound of their voices. After a time, she walked away, giving them time to visit. She did wish there had been more time alone with Skinner. As simple as it was, holding each other’s hand, tender and compassionate, there was a graveness to their touch, precognition equaled in their gaze, a communicated acceptance of the consequences that lay ahead of them.

She didn't puzzle over how it began, nor did she care to predict how it would end, all she wanted to think about now was the time in between.

A content smile passed over her lips, knowing there was going to be time enough.

******************************************

Epilogue

Utter exasperation consumed Kim Cook when she looked up to see who had just barged into the outer office— Agent Dana Queen of the World Scully. Well, this was going to stop...

"Agent Scully, he's not here. Really—"

Scully stopped before Cook's desk, promptly slapping a sheaf of papers down in front of her, the motion throwing off a breeze that ruffled Cook's hair.

Cook's mouth dropped open, shocked.

"Miss Cook," Scully began to address the woman sharply, "do you know what this is?"

She looked at the papers in front of her for a long second. "No," she huffed.

"This is a communications log," Scully jabbed at the long lines of numbers across the page. "These are numbers and times of calls both incoming and outgoing from this office." She flipped to a specific page. "This is a log of calls made and received by a known felon, a hit man, if you will..." Again, she flipped to the next page. "And these are calls going to and from your home."

"My home?"

"I suggest you pay closer attention to the men you choose to take up with. Your last fling nearly cost the Assistant Director his life."

Cook's mouth sagged. "What?" The question seemed to fall out of her mouth like a rock.

"James Mercer?" Scully tilted her head when Cook had no response, she hadn't expected one. But she knew what name would hit home for Miss Cook. "Or perhaps Jess Marcel sounds more familiar to you?"

"I've already reported my suspicions about Mr. Marcel to the proper people, thank you—"

Scully thumped the desk with her hand. "If it wasn't for AD Skinner's insistence, you'd be under arrest right now."

Cook stared back at Scully, venom in her eyes.

"Do you understand how lucky you are?"

"Yes." The answer was short, bitten off.

"Good."

Scully snatched up the papers and marched out as briskly as she had arrived.

After a moment, rancid with anger and indignation, Cook sat back in her chair hard, threw her pen on the desk and pouted.

"Bitch."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

conclusion of The Spider and The FBI


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