"Can we talk?"
Elliott looked up from the Corinthos file to find Dawn at his desk. His gaze quickly cut to the space in front of him. A sigh of relief escaped him. Olivia wasn't there. Swallowing hard, he stood.
"This isn't a good time." He closed the file and turned it over. "You shouldn't have come here."
Her jaw clenched. She folded her arms across her chest. "No one gives a damn about our conversation. Besides, you're wasting time."
She spun on her heels. The sway of her hips and curve of her backside got to him. He grabbed his jacket and followed her out of the building and onto the sidewalk.
"What is it?" He shrugged into the leather bomber jacket.
Her face darkened with an unreadable expression. She stared at his precinct building as she spoke. "You're ashamed and honestly, so am I."
"I didn't say that," he replied in a hushed voice, "but I thought we agreed not to advertise."
"Advertise? What? That we're screwing?"
He groaned. "Dawn."
"That's all it is, right." Her gaze connected with his. "It's not like anything will come of it."
"I don't understand why you're here."
"Relax," she said, her voice soft as a breeze. "I didn't want to do this over the phone. Coming here seemed the only option. I can't do what we've been doing anymore."
His eyebrows shot up. She's dumping me?
"It was good for whatever it was, but it's not good for me. It's not who I am."
He nodded. Meanwhile, his thoughts rumbled. She dumped me.
"I like you, Elliott. I hope this doesn't change things as professionals…or friends."
He stared, dumbfounded.
"Elliott?" She reached out to touch him. Then as if in second thought, shoved her hand inside a pocket. "Say something."
"So, you wanna be friends."
"I'd like that," she answered. "Is that okay with you?"
He shrugged. "Sure."
"Okay, then. I'll see you around." She stepped into the crowd and moved briskly down the street.
Elliott watched until he couldn't distinguish her from anyone else.
"Dumped. Wow." Apparently, there was a first time for everything.
Sonny tried not to stare. Dressed in jeans and an oversized sweatshirt, Dara looked comfortable and amazingly beautiful. Her hair pulled back in a ponytail emphasized the curve of her cheek and gorgeous cheekbones. He remembered kissing her there. Feeling her entire body sigh and melt in his arms. It had never been like that with anyone before. Or since.
"Is this everything?"
Her sharp tone cut into his train of thoughts and alerted him. She hadn't been oblivious to his scrutiny after all. He took the legal pad she offered. "It looks like it."
"This is an accurate account of your movement. You came directly to the hotel once you entered the City. You didn't go anywhere else."
"So, you were in the room when Carly met her demise."
She snatched the notes from his hand. "You can't have it both ways. Either you were or you weren't."
"I was in the suite, but not in the same room. I was asleep in the bedroom. I found her when I woke up."
"What woke you up? Screams? A struggle?"
He shook his head. His hand clenched into a fist as he remembered. "I didn't hear anything."
"Furniture was everywhere. The room was a mess. How could you not hear anything?"
Sonny shrugged. "I don't know."
"Were you drunk?"
He winced. "What kind of question is that?"
"A legit one. It's not adding up," she said. "They have you at the scene, but you're proclaiming your innocence. If that's not the case, tell me now."
"I'm innocent, Dara. Although I had a million reasons to do it, I didn't."
"Michael," he answered without hesitation. "I couldn't take his mother away from him."
"So, make me understand how this happened." She set the notepad on the floor and leaned toward him. Her warm brown eyes begged for answers. "If not alcohol, could it be something else?"
"No, I don't use drugs." He was silent for a moment, simply staring into a space. Remembering. "But I woke up off balance. A little dizzy. I thought I was coming down with something. Michael's been sick."
"You don't look sick. How do you feel?"
Like the walls are closing in around me.
Of course, he couldn't say that. "Not sick."
"The police reports say you were belligerent and apathetic."
"That's an amazing feat, don't you think?"
"Definitely," she murmured. "Hostile, yet unemotional. The different officers have different accounts. Maybe they spoke to you at different times. The reports are in my office--"
"Wait," he said as she stood. "We can check that in a moment. Do you think I was drugged?"
He frowned. "Carly fixed me a drink. I took it. The next thing I know, she's dead."
She grabbed her cordless. "This could be a long shot, but I have a friend who works in the lab at St. Vincent's Hospital. Could be it's still in your system." Her fingers hovered over the dial pad. "It's your decision."
"I want to know." He jutted his chin toward the phone. "Make the call."
Fox stared at the display screen. Finding the right words had never failed him…until now. His mind was a blank. One word taken out of context had the potential to ruin everything. To come this far only to blow it--"Fuck it," he muttered his breath. It was all or nothing anyway.
His fingers punched the keyboard with conviction.
"Last night was great. Hope to do it again. Soon. Love--"
"Mulder." His partner's voice cut into his thoughts.
"What?" he barked. A finger lingered on the delete key. Would Dawn believe it or would 'love' piss her off?
"Sheesh! What's with you?"
"I'm in the middle of something, Scully. Give me thirty seconds."
With love or without? That was the question. He was damned if he knew the answer.
"I prefer that you call me Dana. I've asked you this before."
"Sorry," he muttered, "Dana. Do you mind?"
"Sure. Fine. Whatever."
He ignored her sarcasm. "Thanks."
Love wasn't a lie. He loved her, so why not use it? He inhaled a deep breath and hurriedly punched in his initials--FM--and sent the text message before he chickened out.
There. It was done. No going back now. He flipped his cell phone closed and directed his attention to the redhead brimming with attitude.
Her gaze locked on him. A brief smile crossed her lips. "I spoke with my contact at St. Vincent's. They're running tests on a John Doe who bears a striking resemblance to Sonny Corinthos."
"Yeah, I was thinking we should head over there." She stood and grabbed her purse. "You coming?"
His phone vibrated in his hand. "Hold on," he told Scully.
He opened the lid. He scanned the message twice before the words sunk in.
"Me, too. --DJM"
Me, too. Signed Dawn Jensen-Mulder. Hot damn! Mulder? She entered the initial for her married name? His name? He became light-headed and elated at once.
"Fox," Scully said, moving to stand at his desk. "I know this story won't be easy for you. Your former sister-in-law is representing the guy, but you shouldn't let that stop you. You're a damn good investigative reporter. We could blow this story out of the water."
He saved the message and closed the phone. As he stood, he shoved it inside his pocket. "You're right about everything except one. Dara's still my sister-in-law."
Scully's jaw dropped. Fox ignored her surprise and headed to the door. "You driving?"