Paul Gadzikowski


Finders Keepers, Chapter Four

1:00 P.M., NOVEMBER 24

"The body must be left outside." The Doctor moved forward to suit action to word.

"What, just leave it in the lobby?" At the same time as she objected, a compartment of Scully's mind noted that the Doctor wasn't squeamish about doing his own dirty work.

"If my plan works, this will never have happened, and then the corpse'd be inconvenient to have about," said the Doctor. "If not, the timestream will have bigger problems for us to worry about." He started hefting the body out the doors.


At the security desk Rogers saw the scientist drag the rubber monster out of the box. "Hey! What are you guys doing in there?"

The scientist tipped his hat at him. "Nothing important. Good day." He stepped back inside.

Rogers decided these people were getting a little high-and-mighty and needed some talking to. But as he came out from behind the desk, there was a loud mechanical wheezing and grinding noise. It seemed to be coming from the blue box. The noise eventually faded away into nothingness - but so, to Rogers' astonishment, did the box.


"It's difficult to backtrack along one's own timestream like this, when it's not impossible," said the Doctor, operating the switches and dials on two console faces at once, while the column in the center of the console rose and fell in a mechanical rhythm. "It depends on how much Blinovitch convergence is present in the Time Vortex."

"Blinovitch," repeated Mulder. "There was a letter on Watterson's desk from a student named Blinovitch."

The Doctor looked up at Mulder, serious and amused at once. "I mustn't say any more." He looked back to his readouts. "I think it's working!" He was still concentrating on them when the central column came to a stop. He looked up with That Grin. "It worked." He dashed out the doors, after first opening them with the same lever he'd used to close them before the motion of the central column had started; and after grabbing his umbrella. Mulder and Scully followed.

12:25 P.M., NOVEMBER 24

"Where are we?" Mulder asked.

"Other side of the brick wall opposite the loading dock," said the Doctor. "About five, ten minutes before we arrived."

"We've traveled back in time about thirty minutes?" Scully's skepticism would have had more conviction if she had felt any motion of the TARDIS to correlate with its observed spatial displacement.

"In time to catch Zhessil before she dies," said the Doctor.

He led the way around the east end of the brick wall. Once back in the loading dock area, they crept west again, toward the van behind from which Zhessil had emerged. It was a custom-painted panel job, red Japanese dragons on the side. It was parked front end out, back end to the brick wall. The agents joined the Doctor in peeking through the back windows.

The inside of the van was decorated as some vocational school student's or staffmember's idea of a love nest. Asleep in the center of it was a "Silurian". Scully couldn't have said for certain whether it was the same Silurian as she had just seen killed.

The Doctor tried the door handle, gently, obviously not wanting to wake her just yet. It was locked.

"Learns fast," said Mulder, quietly.

"Car door locks are a convention in your society. Even the homeless know how they work," said the Doctor. He pulled a ring of keys from his pocket, some of which were so exotic as to hardly be identifiable as keys, and unlocked the back doors on the second try. He opened them quietly, and motioned Mulder and Scully to stand as unthreateningly far back as the proximity of the brick wall allowed.

"Zhessil," the Doctor called. When she didn't answer he called again, "Zhessil, wake up!"

Zhessil gave a great start, up into a sitting position in one quick motion. "Who are you?"

"I am the Time Lord known as the Doctor."

Time Lord, Scully thought. What does that mean?

"Time Lord?" said Zhessil. "I suppose it would take a Time Lord to find me."

"It would take a Time Lord to see you home."

Zhessil looked from him to Mulder and Scully and back. "Who are they?"

"Humans," said the Doctor. Zhessil moved back warily. "Friends of mine. Defenders of true history, as I am. They wish to see you home as I do." Scully noted that the Doctor was playing with half-truths to suit his own purposes ... even assuming he had been entirely forthcoming with herself and Mulder.

"They do? Knowing what I know?" Zhessil spat. "Knowing that, having seen the future, I will do all I can to avoid it?"

"By their chosen profession they're defenders of justice and order," the Doctor said.

Zhessil eyed them. "Yes ... they have the look of constables. No doubt they'd like nothing better than to be rid of the problem I represent, to shove the affair under the rug." Scully saw Mulder flinch angrily at the intimation that he was interested in a cover-up, but before he could say anything Zhessil went on. "How do I know you won't just destroy me?"

"My word as a Time Lord," said the Doctor.

Zhessil eyed him. "You look just like them. How can I be certain you are a Time Lord?"

The Doctor shrugged and pointed without looking with his umbrella. "Ask him."

"Come on out! I know you're here, I want to help you!"

Scully looked up sharply at the new voice. Because it wasn't a new voice, it was the Doctor's. He was standing in the middle of the loading dock area (he was standing right here), with Mulder (Mulder was standing right here too) and Scully behind him (that's me?).

"This way," hissed the Doctor, heading off, hiding behind the cars from the already-Doctor, apparently confident that Zhessil would have been convinced. When Scully looked back in the van Zhessil was gone, and when she looked after the Doctor again Zhessil was halfway to his position, carrying a case Scully remembered seeing in the van. That would be her memory RNA extraction equipment.

"Let's go, Scully," said Mulder in a low voice.

Scully followed, quickly enough, despite the distraction of herself a few yards away. She would have imagined that Mulder was more familiar with situations like this, but he seemed about as fascinated with the scene as she. ... When did she decide Mulder had been through things like this before? He'd always said so - why did she believe it now? But she knew why.

"I can take you home!" called the already-Doctor. "I know why you need to go! I need you to go!"

"What's this about going home?" already-Scully demanded, just as Scully passed her. The already-Doctor and already-Mulder shushed her silently, and she crossed her arms in a huff. What a snot, Scully thought spontaneously.

By now they'd reached the end of the wall. While the already-Doctor continued his shouting Scully took one last look back at the person she'd been then, and followed Mulder into the TARDIS. Scully thought she heard the shots start as the TARDIS doors shut them all inside.

The Doctor was at the console, the central column starting to rise and fall again, the motion apparently indicative of the TARDIS being in transit. Zhessil was gawking at the size of the TARDIS interior. It made Scully feel like a veteran. Mulder was watching the Silurian too, and when they caught each other at it they exchanged a grin.

"Mulder ..." Scully moved to him. She had something she had to say, but she found she didn't have the words ready. "You were right," she started.

Mulder grinned. "No one can be wrong all the time." He turned toward the Doctor at the console, but Scully held him back.

"Mulder... The way I look at you has changed profoundly in the last hour. The way I look at the world. I ..." Floundering, she fell back on her honesty. "I don't know what to say. Except, I'm sorry."

Mulder smiled a little half smile, and she thought he was going to say something flip again. "Scully, I don't want to freak you, but I'm out of my league now too." He gave her shoulder a friendly squeeze, and both went to the console. "What next, Doctor?"

"I've set the coordinates for her time," said the Doctor. As he spoke the central column stopped moving. "Now I take her home. You two stay in the TARDIS."

The Doctor turned a switch, and a picture resolved on the wall screen. It was a view of the hallway outside Dr. Watterson's lab.

"Oh no," said the Doctor.

"Is that the view outside the TARDIS?" Scully asked. The Doctor had already opened the doors and was heading out.

Scully and Mulder followed him out, and after a moment, Zhessil. They found themselves in the the hallway outside Dr. Watterson's lab.

"I thought you set the coordinates -" Mulder started.

"I did," growled the Doctor. "It didn't work. There's too much Blinovitch convergence comprised of this space-time event now, because of our little hop backwards earlier."

"You mean ..." started Scully.

"I can't take Zhessil home in the TARDIS," said the Doctor.

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Chapter Five


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