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Annapolis, Maryland


No time for personal time, thatís what Mulder had told Scully in jest when he picked her up for work that morning. However, she wasnít in any mood for his banter. She was still tired and retorted with a spiked reminder that he had dragged her off for two weeks into the remote north-west on a whim; that they had only arrived back Thursday afternoon, which was yesterday, and this, being Friday, she had a list a mile long of things she needed to do. He might not have cared about his domestic responsibilities, but she certainly did. It was always the little things. Even her auto was still in the FBI parking lot! He could use the time productively by making those checks at the University. He didnít need her help to do that anyway. Armed with these logical barbs and a steely gaze, she had Ďpersuadedí Mulder to drop her into the city - she would only need an hour. However, it was well over the agreed time before she got around to concluding even two of the items on that Ďlistí.

Harried, Scully looked up to scan the grey layer of clouds. She was certain the report on the radio predicted moderate weather and as a result sheíd left her overcoat in Mulderís car. A cold drizzle now begun to fall and she cursed herself for that decision as the rain dampened her hair and shoulders.

Irritated, Scully picked up her pace. Consequently she didnít pay much attention to the man standing beside old blue Ford at first but a second glance changed that. There was a certain familiarity about him which struck her immediately. He was fidgeting, smoking heavily, shuffling back and forth, an exaggerated performance for anyone, especially in the rain. There were several cigarette butts on the ground at his feet. Not exactly sure the suspicion was justified, Scully ruefully glanced in his direction as she slowed to pretend to view the nearby shop window. She noted his physical characteristics.

The man was solidly built at about 5í 8" yet slightly stooped. Short cropped almost prison cut chestnut hair was flecked with grey. There was a prominent scar over his right eye. Floyd Curtis. The name suddenly sprang to her mind just as it might have come up on her computer monitor. Despite being knee deep in X files, Scully always tried to keep herself appraised of current posted notices, wants and warrants. The last task she had performed before finishing up the previous night after checking her personal e-mail and updating her field journal, had been to check just these sites. Curtis, recently released from prison for a string of thefts (minor crime, admittedly) had reportedly been seen in the Annapolis area which in itself was not breaking his parole conditions. His details had only come up in a bulletin because he was a known associate of Dean Martelli, a heavy in organised crime. So, what was Curtis doing here? Promoted to the big time after his stint inside? The man looked to be eyeing the bank, maybe even sizing it up; Ďcasing the jointí such a quaint term. Nothing about him looked innocent. Her suspicions were definitely roused as she moved back from the window and her mind raced as to what she should do.

What were his intentions? Was he armed? Should she warn the staff?

After all he hadnít actually done anything - yet. She couldnít arrest him for something he might do. Catch 22. Curtis didnít appear to be in any kind of hurry - at least not noticeably. Perhaps he was waiting for the customers inside to get their business out of the way and depart. Hell, there were a hundred possibilities. He continued to smoke heavily and glanced furtively into the building every few minutes and then looked at his watch. Gathering his nerve?

Scully gave an obvious air of Ďminding her own businessí as she walked by the man and as close to the car as possible. She took note of every detail. The driverís side window was down and the keys were in the ignition. No doubt if he could have, Curtis would have left the motor running. He didnít seem to notice her, so she reached for her cell phone. To disguise the fact she made her way a stand of public telephones in the alcove outside a nearby convenience store and deftly dialled 911.

"Annapolis police, may I help you?" The reply was prompt. Scully turned into the alcove and kept her voice low.

"This Special Agent Dana Scully of the FBI. My ID number is twenty three seventeen dash six one six." This needed to be verified Scully knew but it seemed to take ages.

"ID confirmed Agent Scully, dispatcher two zero one here." The womanís tone was even and friendly.

"Iím outside the Maryland Marine Bank on Smith Street," Scully explained urgently. "Iíve just seen a man I believe to be Floyd Curtis and I suspect he intends to commit a robbery."

"Smith Street branch. Is that correct?"

"Yes, thatís right." Again a lengthy wait as a check was made.

"We have no wants or warrants, Agent Scully, but on your authority Iíll have someone with you as soon as possible."

Scully hoped that wouldnít be too long but she knew these things couldnít be held to a timetable. As she kept watch, Curtis finally tossed away his cigarette. Head down and in a determined stride, he pushed through the doors to disappear inside. There was still no sign of the distinctive white of a police car and she became acutely aware that she was Johnnie-on-the-spot.

As a Special Agent, Scully was accustomed to making quick and sometimes complex decisions, and even taking on various roles. Right now, while she may not have worn a uniform, for all intents and purposes she was the cop on the beat. She just couldnít sit idly by and watch a crime occur. There was only one course of action. She was beside the car in no more than four strides and opened the driverís door. She reached in, took the keys, then locked and closed the door firmly. There was no way to cover all bases but if all else failed she might be able to get Curtis in a double play. As she turned away from the car she noted that her body temperature had chilled considerably. Her heart was pounding and she felt light-headed. It was an unaccustomed sensation and it unsettled her. She wasnít certain whether the cause was from low blood sugar or high adrenalin. There seemed to be a curious mix of both. Whatever the reason she ignored it and concentrated on what she had to do.

Scully eased into the Ďairlockí of the double sets of glass and brass-framed doors and took cover in the recess. She drew her weapon and checked it. Carefully she craned her neck to try and see inside. Not much could be seen, but the design in frosted white etching on the glass door loomed large in her sight. Maryland Marine Bank. Suddenly she stiffened and reacted, uttering: "Oh, God!" Now she understood the reason for her trepidation and immediately backed into the corner of the recess as far as she could. She had been here before - this was a place of bad memories. Here Jack Willis had been blasted by a riot gun in the hands of Warren Dupre!

She didnít want it to but those terrible images returned - Jack calling on Dupre to drop the gun. The fatal moment of hesitation when he thought the man would comply. The horrible ear-splitting sound of the shotgun as Dupre pulled the trigger. Jack being flung back as he fell, seriously wounded, to the floor, his midriff pulverised and red with blood. Dupre turning on her to gun her down, too. Her own reactions taken in anger - three sharp cracks of her weapon as she fired before he could pull the trigger, killing him - or so she thought. All the still incomprehensible events that followedÖ all the wasted livesÖ

Scully hadnít been anywhere near this bank since then. Why was she shivering? She knew why. Driving the memory out of her mind was impossible now so she concentrated on it and sought to use it to her advantage.

She recalled the layout of the bank from those memories. They had studied the floorplan so intimately before the stakeout, she and Jack. Every detail was put to memory. He wanted the arrest to be perfect. She remembered his final words at the briefing: "No mistakes."

Scully mentally shook herself and tried to focus on the plan. There was an elevator behind her - indeed, she could feel the queer Ďempty vesselí vibrations and gear shifting in the mechanism even through the concrete hard pressed against her back. If everything else was the same, the tellers were to the left just inside the doors and elevator, sharp left fortified by a handrail that served to queue and funnel the customers. Just forward of that were two transaction counters. She could expect several pillars immediately ahead of her as she entered. Behind them the administration area - office space, filing cabinets, desks, chairs and a number of clerks. She shudderedÖ thatís where Jack had been gunned down.

Scully heard raised voices, a brutal command and then a scream. Still no sign of backup, she couldnít wait any longer. Something had to be done, so she held her breath, burst through the doors into the foyer and swung left to locate her target.

"FBI, Curtis! Drop your gun!"

Curtis turned at the challenge, but what Scully saw was not the man who had been nervously waiting outside, he was a figure dressed in a light-coloured trenchcoat, carrying a shotgun, wearing a skull-like mask. A false image of past demons. The illusion lasted only a fraction of a second but that was enough to shake her and take her off guard. Concentration lost, she failed to take note of the second man on her left until it was far too late. Immediately Scully knew she had made a bad, possibly fatal, mistake. Not just a mistake but a shocking miscalculation. She felt it immediately. There were two of them. Curtis had an accomplice already in the bank, posing as a customer. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the second man also turn, but was he armed or simply a bagman? Suddenly she heard a voice call out a warning that was clear and strong: "Scully! Gun!"

No time to took for the source of the voice, even if it sounded familiar, she was in a potential crossfire and instinctively obeyed the tone of authority by dropping to the floor the instant the man fired his automatic at her. Had she not moved, she would have certainly been hit and angered by that she took aim. Nevertheless, she shot to wound, and didnít miss. The report created a tidal wave. People were screaming. Calamity reined - everything was coming apart.

Curtis took advantage of the chaos by making a break for it. Scully hastily got up to try and stop him when she saw the security guard move to the accomplice, but Curtis shouldered into her and kept running as she crashed painfully into one of the transaction counters and toppled to the floor. Still, she succeeded in dislodging his gun, which fell quite near her so the pain was worth it. She tried to get upÖ

Outside, Curtis dashed to the car. He reached for the door handle only to find the door locked. He rattled the handle furiously and swore, then fumbled comically in his pockets for the keys. By now he was panicky, knowing damn well heíd left them in the ignition.

Hurt, Scully coughed several times, winced and pushed herself onto her knees. Working on instinct and anger she grabbed her weapon and struggled to her feet. She rushed from the bank into a bright sun and a sea of bodies. The sidewalk was crowded and she couldnít possibly use her weapon here. Frantically she searched for Curtis among the mass and found him. He was walking briskly away from the scene.

As she was about to call on him to stop, Scully saw a police car turn into Smith Street, and relief washed over her. However, Curtis saw it too and propped to desperately search for another avenue of escape. Scully realised the man might make it before the police could reach them. Still, Curtis did not retrace his steps and Scully found out why. A second patrol vehicle, perhaps responding to a silent alarm had come into view further down the street, and was approaching.

Curtisís body language told Scully he was in a real panic. From each direction cars were diverging rapidly and he was in the middle. He looked for yet another escape route. Scully was also in the middle - between them and him, the only one close enough to do anything at all.

Her choices were clear; she could either do nothing and let him slip into the maze of alleys and yards she knew crisscrossed the rear of the commercial strip behind Smith Street. Or, she could intervene and try delay him. This dilemma took only a fraction of a second in her mind. She had to do something, anything, so she burst into a run, sidestepped several startled pedestrians who strayed into her path, lined a still stationary Curtis up in the crowd and launched herself at him. The full force of her own momentum literally cut him off at the knees. They crashed together to the pavement, Scully deliberately riding him down so she could land on top of him.

Curtis squirmed and turned at the waist to try and pry his attacker off, exasperated to find the woman Fed had tackled him. He took a frustrated swipe at her, cuffing her on the side of the head. Scully held on even tighter, surprising him with her strength. Again he cuffed her, again she held on. Finally he took a clenched fist swing at her. Scully saw it coming and ducked like a boxer, then expertly caught his arm to wrench it behind his back. Partially off balance already, Curtis couldnít prevent himself being forced face down onto the pavement. He struggled and fought and almost succeeded in freeing himself as Scully yanked his other arm back to cuff him. Fortunately two burly patrolmen pounced onto the man to secure him and the arrest was completed. Curtis was finally hauled his feet and he glared viscously at her. "How the hell did you know, FBI? How did you know I wasnít solo?"

"I heard the warning."


"Somebody called out."

"Nobody called out." He sneered at her. "If you heard anything lady, then it was in your head! Talk to you a lot do they? The voices? You know, you should get that seen to."

Scully stared at him open mouthed, stung by his insinuation that she was losing her mind. What concerned her most was the fact he might be right. She had heard the warning, of that she was certain, the voice she thought she knew. It had sounded uncannily like Jackís, but that couldnít be, could it? She stood there stunned by the implication, but she didnít have time to reflect. All kinds of law enforcement vehicles, including an ambulance, converged onto the scene. There was a lot of movement now. Initially startled onlookers had crowded in to watch proceedings. Mulder arrived to push his way through the throng in time to see Scully hand her prisoner over. Still, protocol got in the way and he had to wait until a detective spoke to her briefly. When they were done he took her by the elbow to draw her aside.

"I canít leave you alone for a minute, can I?" She wasnít sure whether he was serious or not, but then he asked in a gentle tone, "Are you all right?"

"Yes, I think so." He saw her examine the heel of her right hand. She had grazed it badly on the cement, the pinker lower dermis exposed and bleeding, yet she seemed more annoyed by the wound then anything else. Mulder quickly offered his handkerchief, but even as he did so he shook his head, unable to hide is anger any longer - and he was angry. "Taking a chance, Scully, donít you think?" he indicated Curtis as he was placed into the police car.

"Mulder, armed robbery comes under FBI jurisdiction."

"Thatís not what I mean, Scully."

A stretcher bearing the accomplice was brought out to be loaded onto the ambulance. Scully watched them do so then gave Mulder an exasperated look. She was edgy, upset. She had just shot a man, arrested another and it was beginning to hit her. "Then what do you mean, Mulder? That itís simple scud work and not worth my time?"

"No, of course not. Why in hellís name didnít you wait for back up?"

"What back up?" She retorted and spread her hands. "I couldnít wait any longer, Mulder. I knew it was a risk."

He took hold of her arm. "A risk? Scully, you could have been killed."

Scully drew back and hesitated. Her eyes moved past him and she became noticeably distant as she seemed to withdraw from the present into past memories. She turned slowly to the bank and when she spoke again her voice had dropped to a whisper. "No. This isnít the place, Mulder."

He frowned at her. For once she wasnít making much sense.

Scully pursed her lips and said cryptically: "Well, a little maybe. A long time ago."

Mulder could see that this had been an admission difficult to make. He looked up to scrutinise the bankís exterior for himself. Finally he put two and two together and when it added up it put a whole new spin on exactly what had happened to his partner.

"Jack Willis didnít die here, Scully," he told her pointedly.

She glanced back sharply. "But he did, Mulder. Thatís the irony." She paused, thinking, and confessed. "I knew that at some point I needed to come back here."

"To face the demons?"

"If you like. I just never seemed to have the time, or maybe I convinced myself the excuses were legitimate."

"Thatís understandable. The demons have gone?"

She thought about it, examined her feelings. "I think so. Curtis saw to that. A bank is a bankÖ"

He nodded. "And your business is done. Transactionís completed, Scully. Youíve made the final payment."

--end of file--

C L Goodwin 1999