Part Seven

Sonny paced the length of Dara's fireplace. Blood rushed in his ears. His heart pounded. His hands, tight and throbbing, closed into fists at his sides. The ringing of her fax line got him like this. Edgy. Nervous. The lab promised to fax the results of his blood work and as promised, it was coming through right now. He hated to admit it, but the stakes could tip on the balance scale.

"If you wear a whole in my floor," Dara called from her office nook, "I expect you to replace it."

She gripped several sheets of paper in her hand as she headed to her sofa. As she sat, she read aloud. "It's a miracle, but a trace is still in your system."

"A trace of what?" He moved to stand beside her.

"A sedative. A very strong one from the looks of it," she said. "A Valium cocktail with mega-dose of other downers on the side. My goodness, someone wanted you knocked out pretty good. No wonder you didn't hear anything."

He reached for the report. The distinct tremble of his hand surprised and embarrassed him. He quickly withdrew his hand and smoothed his hair back instead. "What happens now?"

"I'll investigate it. Try to find out where it came from…who Carly bought it from."

His eyes narrowed. "You think Carly gave that to me?"

"Don't you?" Dara's eyebrows arched. "You said she fixed you a drink and then, lights out. If not her, who?"

Sonny shrugged and sank to the sofa beside her. "I don't know. I have enemies…"

"Which included your wife," Dara said. "Looking at this, I'm not ruling her out as the true culprit."

He shook his head. "No. There's no way she'd kill herself."

"From what I know of her, she'd do anything to have her way--"

"She has a son!" He stared at Dara, shocked by her accusations. "She wouldn't leave him like this. She loves him."

"She denied the child and his father the truth about his paternity for years," Dara said quietly. "In the end, she didn't stop until AJ lost all rights to Michael. Not because AJ was a bad father or unfit, but from out of spite. You may see her as a perfect mother, but in my opinion, those actions are anything but. I don't put anything past her and neither should you."

Any argument he would have voiced died inside him. She presented valid points. Carly was madder than hell when she discovered his relationship with Dara. Although the love affair had been months under the rug, Carly pitched a huge fit, making threats and playing every bit the woman scorned. But was she capable of paying this ultimate price of revenge? Framing him for her murder and leaving her son motherless? If so, she for damn sure wasn't the woman he thought he'd married. She'd duped him.

*/*

"Connections," Scully happily murmured as she typed on her laptop. "It's all about connections."

Fox looked away from her perverse display of glee. He clutched the knotted mass that was his stomach and reached inside his desk drawer for a bottle of the pink stuff. As he swigged the Pepto, he considered the last hour.

Yeah, Scully was right. Connections provided the breaks in the grand occupation of investigative reporting. And her connections at St. Vincent's Hospital proved to be legit. Sneaking a peak at Sonny Corinthos' lab results gave them the biggest scoop of their careers. On the drive back to the paper, she vocalized dreams of Pulitzers and book deals. He envisioned the complete failure of his marriage.

The pecking stopped. He felt Scully's ice blue eyes slice into him. "You're guzzling Pepto Bismal at a time like this? What's wrong with you? No one has this info. If we hurry, it can make the evening edition!"

"We?" he repeated, slowly recapping the bottle. "There's no need for we. You're doing a helluva job. Keep at it."

"Are you kidding me?"

The incredulous tone of her voice demanded he look at her. Against his better judgment, he did. Sure enough, the woman almost had the ability to decapitate a man with just a glare. His hand lingered on the bottle of Bismal.

"No, I'm serious. Write it Scu--Dana. You have the gusto for the story," he said. "Go for it. Make Skinner proud."

"He won't go for it," she said. "You know he wants your take on it, too. You're the senior reporter here. It's not legit if your name isn't on it."

Fox's jaw tightened. He had enough of this bullshit. Pressure from her and their editor…fuck that. "I'll talk to him."

"He won't go for it," she mumbled, turning back to her computer.

His retort was kept in check by the sudden ringing of his desk phone. He answered the phone, all the while hoping it wasn't their boss on the other end. Yeah, he planned to talk to Skinner…but not when his stomach was turning itself inside out.

"Mulder," he said in a gruff voice.

"Fox?" questioned the soft feminine voice. "You okay?"

Were those birds he heard singing? Did Cupid suddenly appear from his ramshackle hut among the gods? Fox clutched the phone. Was this really his wife on the other line? Concerned about him?

"Fox, are you there?" she asked.

"I'm here," he said, masking his shock with a slight cough. "What's going on?"

"You sound like crap," Dawn said. "Like I surprised the shit out of you. I did, didn't I?"

"Not quite," he said, "so there's no reason for gloating."

"Not yet, at least," she said a little softly, a little seductively. "I was thinking about your message…the one you sent over earlier."

"Yeah?"

"Since I have to eat and you have to eat…well, there's no reason why we can't do these two things together."

A smile cracked the worry from his entire being. To hell with Skinner, Corinthos and any-damn-body else. His not-quite ex was asking him out. Hot damn.

"As in, in the same room and at the same table?"

"Something like that," she said. "How does that sound to you?"

"Damn good," he answered. He didn't give a damn if he sounded eager. Shit, he was eager! "Where?"

"Maybe at the apartment," she said. "Around eight."

"I'll be there at seven." His stomach returned to its correct form as her laughter tickled his ear. Fox lowered the phone to its cradle and stood. "I'm going to Skinner's office," he told Scully. "See you in a few."

*/*

Dara listened to the easy listening station that piped in as soon as Harry Ioki's secretary put her on hold. Harry, a former police officer, was one of the best private investigators that she knew. Holding for him would be worth it in the end.

As Barry Manilow sung about a girl named Mandy, Dara thought about the look on Sonny's face as he left her apartment. Shaken was the best way to describe it or perhaps devastated. He never once considered Carly and that surprised Dara. When she first heard about the case, Carly was her first and only prime suspect. The only thing she didn't know was how and why. Now that Sonny confessed that Carly knew about their affair, the why was answered. But still not the how. How could Carly pull off a rape-murder scene so effectively that seasoned vets like Elliott Stabler and Olivia Benson were fooled? Hell, Carly wasn't that smart or that creative.

"Hi Dara." Harry came on the line. "Sorry about the wait. What can I do for my best client?"

She smiled. He was smooth as silk and twice as handsome. "I have a job for you."

"The Corinthos case," he said, matter of fact. "I've been following it in the papers. What do you need?"

"Trace Carly Corinthos' footsteps. I need to know who, where, when and how."

[Author's Note: Harry Ioki is a character from 21 Jump Street, created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell.]

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