text file (74k)

Copy-cat killings bring back a case that Mulder would prefer to forget
and threaten to damage his budding relationship with Scully.

SPOILER WARNING: 3, Bad Blood; takes places mid-season 7
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to CC, FOX, etc. Further notes on real locations and businesses that also do not belong to me are posted at the end.



Portland, Oregon
Saturday, 11:35 pm

"Make yourself at home. I'll just pop into the kitchen and grab a bottle of wine."

Jeremy Daniels paused for a moment to watch the leggy brunette saunter into the living room before he walked toward the kitchen. While a frequent patron of The Riverwalk nightclub on weekends, this was only the second time he had left with company. When he spotted her across the room, he had become transfixed by her gaze. It was she who had actually approached him first, almost as though she could read his thoughts. He knew immediately that tonight would be his lucky night.

After popping open a bottle of Pinot Noir and grabbing two wine glasses, Jeremy eagerly made his way back into the living room. He found his brunette companion leaning against the frame of the sliding glass door that led to his deck. Her pose nicely accentuated her curves, intoxicating Jeremy even more than the Screwdriver he had imbibed earlier.

At the sound of his approach, she pivoted toward him. "You have a beautiful view of the city."

*That's not all I have a beautiful view of,* Jeremy couldn't help thinking as he watched her walk across the room. Her gait was slow and seductive, almost like a prowl. In the club, when she crossed the room to speak to him, she had advanced in the same manner. It was almost as though she were on the hunt, but Jeremy was eager to be her prey.

As the woman approached, Jeremy set the glasses down on the coffee table and poured the wine. He handed one glass to his seductive guest, who took a sip of the Pinot Noir and then set the glass back down on the table. She was indeed thirsty but had something else in mind.

Jeremy still found himself transfixed as the woman slowly moved in for a kiss. Her kiss was soft and slow, but the intensity soon magnified as the fire between them grew. As her lips parted, Jeremy slid his tongue inside of her mouth, savoring the taste of wine still lingering on her tongue.


Jeremy felt a sharp pain in his tongue, and suddenly the flavor of wine was overwhelmed by another taste--blood, his own blood. But the woman didn't pull away. She held Jeremy's tongue between her teeth so that he couldn't move without risking further injury.

Suddenly there was a sound of rustling behind her, coming from the vicinity of the curtains on the sliding glass door. Out of the corner of his eye, Jeremy saw a dark shape coming at him just before he felt the intense pain in his neck.

As a third shape lunged at the trio from the hallway, Jeremy let go of the wine glass still in his hand in an attempt to ward of his attackers. When the glass hit the edge of the coffee table, it shattered, splattering red liquid onto the floor.

* * * * *
* * * * *

Act I

FBI Headquarters, Washington D.C.
Basement office
Tuesday, 9:05 am

Today it was Scully's turn to stop by Starbucks on the way to work. Carrying a hot beverage in each hand caused some difficulties in managing the doors and elevator buttons of the Hoover building on the way to the basement, so she was grateful when she turned the corner of the final hallway and saw that the office door was already ajar. Leaning her shoulder into the door to push it open, she headed directly for her desk to finally deposit one of the cups. Since she spotted Mulder's form leaning over his desk, clearly perusing something in front of him, Scully started to speak before she turned to look at him fully.

"Kim stopped me in the hallway on the way down. Apparently Skinner has some questions about our last expense report."

An abrupt movement and the shuffle of paper caught Scully's attention, and she turned her head quickly to look at her partner. He was sitting there looking at her, his head propped on his right arm, which was leaning on the empty desktop immediately in front of him. At her glance, he swiftly responded.

"He always manages to find something wrong with our expense reports. Maybe we'd be better off letting *him* fill them out."

Walking over to his desk, Scully handed him his coffee. She briefly looked down as he reached for the cup but did not see any evidence of the papers that had clearly held his attention when she first walked into the room.

"Mulder, I don't think it's the manner in which the forms are completed that he objects to--it's the contents. Somehow trips to the Bermuda Triangle and the Arctic Circle tend to raise red flags in Accounting. Skinner's just trying to give us the heat before he gets it himself."

Mulder leaned back in his chair and sipped his coffee, not looking directly at her. Scully knew he was hiding something, so she stood her ground in front of his desk, arms crossed, and eyes locked on his face.

"So, Mulder, any interesting cases turn up today?"

"Nah, nothing too exciting. I did find a headline in the National Enquirer about a wolfboy born to a woman in northern Wisconsin, but I don't expect you'd be too interested in checking that out."

"No, I think that would qualify as one of those cases we'd have a difficult time justifying to Skinner. So, anything else of interest cross your desk this morning?"

"Nope. And speaking of Skinner, sounds like we'd better head upstairs for our routine whipping before he gets to the last page of the report and sees the charges from 'Chantal's World of Adult Toys' that I tried to pass off as additional expenses."

At that, Mulder was already out of his chair and halfway out the door, leaving Scully no choice but to sigh in frustration and follow him out, but not without taking one last glance back toward his desk.

* * *

Basement office
Tuesday, 11:45 am

In one corner of the office, Scully was studiously bent over her desk, recopying figures from one version of an expense report onto a new and improved version, pausing now and then to find diplomatic ways of describing atypical charges in a manner that might prove more palatable to Accounting.

In another corner of the office, Mulder busied himself in his own task with equal concentration. After all, successfully imbedding a pencil into a ceiling tile took just the right combination of force, aim, and artistic touch. The release point was especially important. One wrong move, and the projectile could become a dangerous weapon, a pawn of the laws of gravity, even wounding the unfortunate archer. This should only be attempted by professionals.


*Just ignore it,* Scully thought to herself. *If you distract him from this, he'll only find something more annoying to do.*



"Mulder, don't you have anything better to do?" By the tone of her voice, it was clear that Scully had reached the end of her rope.

"I thought that wouldn't take you very long. I was hoping we could go to lunch soon. I'm starving."

"Mulder, I have to get this finished and back to Skinner by this afternoon." Scully didn't like the whiny tone to her voice, yet she couldn't help but feel that Mulder deserved to hear it. After all, these were his unorthodox expenses that she was trying to justify. "I'm not going to have time to go anywhere for lunch. Can't you just go by yourself and bring me back a sandwich or something?"

Sighing heavily, he placed to remaining no. 2 pencils in his pencil holder. He knew that he wouldn't be able to make Scully budge on this one. Checking his wallet first, Mulder crossed toward the door and picked up his jacket from the chair where he had tossed it earlier.

"Turkey on wheat, no mayo?"

"Yes. Thank you."

After flashing her a quick smile, Mulder disappeared through the doorway. Scully sat back and listened as his footsteps echoed through the hallway. A moment later, there was the familiar ding of the elevator, the sound of doors opening, then closing, and then silence.

Filling out two more lines on the fresh form in front of her, Scully then decided that enough time had elapsed to ensure her partner was safely out of the building. The truth was, she has purposely been dragging out the time that she spent on the project before her with this very scheme in mind. Ever since she had first walked into the office and noticed Mulder surreptitiously stash whatever he had been so absorbed in reading, she was obsessed with the idea of finding some way to get him out of the office so she could search for what he was hiding. She knew she was being a snoop, but that didn't seem to matter. After all, they had no secrets from each other, right?

Quietly walking over to the desk and sitting in Mulder's chair, Scully took a cursory glance at the desktop. Wherever he initially put the papers, it had to be nearby, either on top of the desk or in a drawer. Since she didn't remember hearing a drawer close, she started by rifling through the stack of folders on the left side of the desk. She recognized several of the loose pages as copies of faxes and reports from their last case. In fact, many of the pages she had stacked in that pile herself. It wasn't until she got halfway through the pile that Scully noticed something she didn't remember seeing there before--a folder from an old X-File. Could this be what Mulder was hiding from her, some old case? But, why?

Scully pulled the folder out of the pile and began to look through it. The first page was a printout of an e-mail from a Detective Hughes in Portland, Oregon. The message mentioned two recent murders in the area with identical, ritualistic m.o.'s. The detective recognized the similarity to three murders from 1994 that Mulder had solved. He also referred to attached files containing police reports, crime scene photos, and post-mortems on both victims. The e-mail was dated yesterday, sent late in the afternoon, Pacific Time--Mulder must have picked it up this morning.

In the next few pages, Scully found printouts of the various attachments to the e-mail. The first murder had occurred two weeks ago. It was a priest, Father Andrew O'Hara. He had been found dead in his confessional booth by a parishioner. The cause of death was exsanguination. The most recent murder had occurred just this last Saturday. The young man, Jeremy Daniels, was found dead in his apartment on Sunday afternoon by his sister when he failed to show up for family brunch. His cause of death was also exsanguination.

After the e-mail attachments, the next pages were from the old case, apparently considered closed. There had originally been eight murders before the suspects were caught: three in Memphis, three in Portland, and two in Los Angeles. Mulder joined the case in L.A. and quickly tracked down the perpetrators. However, all three suspects, and a fourth person, were found dead in a house fire after a wildfire swept up the hill and claimed the house.

These details didn't sound familiar to Scully. She racked her brain and tried to remember the various vampire cases they had dealt with over the years. It wasn't until she looked at the date of the final field journal entry that she realized why the case seemed unfamiliar: November 1994. It had happened during her abduction.

Comprehension began to sink in. This case resurrected memories of a time that had been difficult for both of them. Even now that they had grown so close, Mulder seldom spoke of those months during which Scully had been missing. However, she could easily guess at the gamut of emotions through which he had run, knowing how profoundly his sister's abduction had affected him.

Either Mulder didn't want to remember those feelings, or he wanted to spare Scully the recollection of that period in her life--or maybe there was another reason. In any event, they were running from the past, and that could only have negative consequences. Scully decided that the best thing to do was confront him with it. She was willing to endure Mulder's wrath about her snooping if it meant bringing some closure to a difficult time in their lives. There was a live, active case to be handled here, and if they let their own memories stop them from getting involved, then they were no longer doing their job properly.

* * *

Basement office
Tuesday, 12:20 pm

Mulder returned to find Scully studiously slumped over the expense reports in the exact position where he had left her half an hour earlier. In his hand he carried a large, white paper bag.

"Sorry it took so long. The line was a bitch. I don't understand why all federal employees have to prove they are automatons by taking lunch at exactly 12 pm."

Scully looked up to see Mulder crossing the room toward his desk, holding what she recognized to be a bag from the deli on the corner. Whenever they went to this deli, they usually tried to get there by 11:30 to avoid the noontime rush. Apparently, Mulder hadn't been so lucky this time.

Rather than responding to him, Scully merely watched his body language as he set the bag down on his desk and immediately noticed the file folder lying open in the very spot that had been vacant when he had left. Since he was facing the desk, she could only see his back, but she distinctly noticed his body tense up and all motion stop before he let go of the bag and picked up the folder. Expecting the worst, Scully crossed her arms and braced herself for the ensuing storm.

Mulder turned and stepped toward his partner. She was surprised to see not anger at her invasion of his privacy but something closer to sadness or disappointment. In response, her own demeanor softened and she leaned forward in her chair as he came to lean on her desk and place the folder down in front of her, still open.

"I see you discovered the case I was looking at this morning."

"I'm sorry, Mulder. I know it was none of my business to go looking for it, but I can see why you weren't eager to share it with me. 1994 wasn't the best year for either of us."

Mulder sighed and walked back over to his desk to start unloading their lunches from the bag. "It had been my first official case back on the X-Files. I thought it was closed, but apparently someone else thought the murders were interesting enough to imitate."

"From what I read, it looks like they didn't just imitate the style--they copied them to the letter. The two victims in Portland are almost identical to the original two. If the pattern continues, that means there will be a third victim. We should contact the detective and tell him we'll be out there immediately."

Returning to Scully's desk, Mulder set down a sandwich and a bottle of spring water in front of her. "I wasn't planning to take the case."

"What? Why?"

He shrugged at her as he sat down at his desk. "It's not an X-File."

"But, Mulder, it was an X-File, or you wouldn't have gotten involved in the first place."

"It *was* an X-File because it involved vampires. Now, Scully, do you really mean to tell me that you believe in vampires?"

Although she wanted to say something in response, she couldn't quite find the right words in time.

"I didn't think so. These recent murders are obviously just a copycat who had a lot of detailed information about the original crimes. I'll send a copy of our file to the Portland Police, but other than that, I don't think they need our services."

It just wasn't like her inquisitive partner to pass up a case with paranormal overtones--especially vampires--so this didn't quite sit right with Scully.

"Mulder, there is an obvious pattern here, a pattern that can lead us to the next victim. We actually have a chance to prevent a murder instead showing up at the scene after the fact and slicing and dicing our way along one step behind the killer. Saving a life would be a nice change of pace."

Mulder sighed. He could tell by Scully's tone of voice that she wasn't going to let this one drop. What could it hurt, anyway? They'd take a nice trip to the Pacific Northwest, lend some profiling help to the local police, then maybe catch dinner at a local microbrewery and walk along the river at sunset. They didn't actually have to go chasing after vampires. Maybe this *would* be a nice change of pace.

"Well, then, I guess you better book us two flights to the Great Northwest."

* * * * *
* * * * *

Act II

Portland, Oregon
Wednesday, 10:13 am

As they walked up to the front desk at the police department to inquire of Detective Ray Hughes, Scully couldn't help but think how similar police stations all tended to be. No matter where they went around the country, the sights and smells were the same--unseemly lowlifes waiting for booking to the backdrop of sweat and burnt coffee. Other than the local accents betrayed by the small talk and chatter, it was very similar to the sensation of walking into Starbucks or Wal-mart--once you step through the door, all distinctiveness melts away and you could be anywhere in America.

While Scully ruminated on her surroundings, Mulder caught the attention of the receptionist and asked for Detective Hughes. A quick flash of his badge served as sufficient explanation for his visit, and the two of them were pointed down the hallway toward an open door.

As they stepped to the doorway, the pair was greeted by the friendly face and outstretched hand of Detective Ray Hughes. They both immediately warmed to his personality. Federal agents didn't often find the locals so welcoming--there was usually a great deal of territoriality and pissing contests as the local police resented the feds for stepping on their toes. However, Detective Hughes had solicited the FBI's help and seemed all too grateful to defer to their experience.

"Agent Mulder, Agent Scully, please have a seat. Can I get you some coffee?"

The agents graciously accepted and soon were greeted with two steaming styrofoam cups. Without further ado, the detective then seated himself behind his desk and got down to business.

"I trust you've had a chance to look over the notes and photographs I sent to you."

Mulder nodded as he sipped his coffee and Hughes continued.

"I'm sorry to say that we didn't recognize the similarity to the original crimes until after the second murder. You see, Father O'Hara was one of the priests recently accused of sexually abusing a couple of young boys back in the '70s, and we originally dismissed his murder as an act of revenge or a hate crime against the church."

Scully was all too aware of the recent difficulties in the Catholic Church and suddenly found herself preferring vampires to disgruntled altar boys as the perpetrators. "Didn't you find the cause of death a bit unusual for a hate crime?"

"Being drained of blood? Well, yes, but it seemed like the murder clearly had a ritualistic meaning, and the bloodletting could easily symbolize the communion wine or even taking a pound of flesh."

"But there was no blood found at the crime scene." Scully flipped through the case file as she said this to confirm her own statement.

"No, and I do have to admit that was a bit strange. But, it didn't really cause much of a stir until we found that other young man this weekend and it started to ring some bells for the guys who were involved with the homicides back in '94."

"It says here that the original detective was a George Hunter?"

"Yeah, Detective Hunter retired in '98, so I inherited the case. Of course, the matter was considered closed after the suspects from some identical crimes down in California were killed in a fire. I don't have much information about that, but I do have a report by you, Agent Mulder, that the L.A.P.D. faxed to us so we could close our file. That's why I contacted you as soon as we made the connection. I figure either we didn't catch the right perps in the first place, or someone got the sick idea of doing the same thing all over again."

Mulder finally spoke up. "I assure you, Detective Hughes, we caught the right suspects the first time around. These are copycat killers. And Agent Scully and I would be happy to help you in whatever way we can to prevent them from continuing."

"Well, we appreciate the help. I figure we can start by visiting the last crime scene and then go from there."

As Detective Hughes rose, Mulder and Scully took the cue to head for the door.

* * *

Residence of Jeremy Daniels
Wednesday, 11:07 am

When the trio arrived at the apartment, Mulder allowed his two companions to enter and then remained in the doorway, taking in the entire scene before proceeding. As he surveyed the living room, Scully walked through toward the glass doors on the other side.

"Great view of the city."

While Scully gazed at the Portland skyline, Detective Hughes walked up to stand alongside her. "Yeah, and he paid through the nose for it. Not many 21-year-olds can afford this kind of apartment in the West Hills, but this boy came from money. He was the baby of the family--had five older sisters--so I imagine he was well taken care of."

"The Son."

Scully and Hughes both turned to look at Mulder who had now moved into the living room and was standing over the tape outlining where the body had fallen.

"Pardon me?" Hughes inquired.

"The Son. Daniels was the only son in his family, just like the second victim of each trio before. The original killers saw themselves as an unholy trinity, and they killed along the same pattern."

"Yeah, I'd read something in the old case file referring to those murders as the 'trinity slayings,' but I thought that referred to the three murderers, not the victims."

Mulder addressed the detective. "In the original murders, there was always a message left behind in the victim's blood. Did you find that here?"

"Yeah, it's right down the hallway here. Let me show you."

While the detective led Mulder down the hallway toward the back of the apartment, Scully decided to check out the living room. The large red stain next to the outline of the body caught her attention. From across the room, she thought it was blood, which seemed odd since she expected both victims had been exsanguinated without leaving pools of blood behind. But, as she drew closer to the stain, Scully realized it was wine. The opened bottle of Pinot Noir still sat on the coffee table, but there was no bottle opener. Following her line of thought, she headed into the kitchen to see if there was more evidence of what had happened in the apartment before the killing.

As Mulder and Hughes walked down the hallway toward the bedroom, the message in blood was quite obvious. Just as Mulder expected, it was a biblical reference: "Flesh of my flesh." However, this was different than before. The other messages tended to be much longer and specifically mention blood. Most of them were passages from the Gospel of John, alluding to the middle member of the murderous trinity who was named John but called himself "the Son."

Continuing down the hallway, the agent walked through the first doorway on the right, leading to the bathroom. Detective Hughes followed at a discreet distance, ready to be of help or receive any insights.

"Detective, in the previous cases all the mirrors were found smashed at each crime scene. Did you find evidence of that in these two as well?"

At the question, Hughes stepped into the doorway of the bathroom while Mulder stood inside, directly in front of the sink.

"Yeah, there's a mirror in the bedroom smashed to pieces. I don't think there were any mirrors around the Catholic church, but we can go back and check on that detail."

"Don't you find it odd that there's no mirror at all in this bathroom?"

Hughes looked at the blank wall in front of Mulder. "Well, I think someone mentioned that in the report, but it didn't seem any more significant than the mirror that was smashed."

Mulder didn't respond but kept his gaze directly on the wall in front of him. He stood with his left arm wrapped across his torso, propping up his right arm as his fingers worried his lower lip. As he was clearly lost in thought, the detective remained quiet a moment, hoping for some revelation. Since none was forthcoming, he added another comment.

"Agent Mulder, I don't know if this is significant, but one of our crime scene investigators did make a comment to me this morning that seemed unusual. He said that a detail in this bathroom reminded him of something he saw in the lavatory at the first crime scene. You see, there's nothing on this sink here except for this one razor, apparently unused. He said he found exactly the same thing at the church."

As Mulder registered this information, Hughes thought he saw a look of comprehension cross his face, but the look passed as quickly as it came and yielded to that same blank expression that the agent seemed to wear so well. The detective couldn't help but think that this man could probably bluff his way through the worst hand in poker.

A moment later, Scully wandered down the hall and joined the two men at the bathroom. After a quick tour of the bedroom, the two agents decided they had seen all they needed to, and the three investigators left. To Scully, the scene had yielded no new information beyond the details of the scenes from the original set of murders. But to Mulder, the comment by Detective Hughes had cast a whole new light on this case.

* * *

FBI Field Office
Wednesday, 1:21 pm

After Detective Hughes kindly treated Mulder and Scully to lunch at the Vista Springs Cafe, Mulder had suggested that Scully take a look at the body while he started a profile on the killers and the next potential victim. So, Mulder took the rental car and headed for the local field office for the afternoon while the detective took Scully over to the morgue.

Despite what he told his partner, Mulder felt no need to sit down and profile the killers. He was sure that he knew exactly who was responsible for these murders, but he needed more confirmation to dispel all doubts. After all, he thought the woman was dead. He never knew that her final moments were spent seeking her own immortality, or that she had actually succeeded in her quest.

After spending half an hour online looking at recent homicides in the Memphis area, Mulder finally found the three he had expected, all committed about four months ago, all handled by the same detective. A few phone calls and several minutes on hold later, Mulder finally reached Detective Munson of the Memphis Police Department.

Mulder quickly explained to the woman the three murders he was interested in. Since exsanguinations don't roll across one's desk everyday, she immediately recognized the cases he was talking about.

"Yeah, I know the ones you mean. Very disturbing, finding all three men drained of blood. After just two bodies, we'd hoped it was a coincidence, but when we found the third, we figured we had a serial killer on the loose and immediately called in the local FBI. The case is in their hands now, so we put it on the back burner. But there haven't been any more incidents since the third killing, at least not that I'm aware of."

"Detective, there's a specific detail about the crime scenes that I'm interested in, one that might not have been mentioned in the reports or made it into all of the photos. I'm wondering if there was a bathroom at each scene and whether or not you found a mirror."

"Well, let me pull up the files. Let's see...the first victim, Richard Wallace, was found murdered at his business--the family jewelry store. All the mirrors in the shop were smashed, including one in the employee bathroom, but that one was so destroyed that nothing was left of it but a few small slivers on the floor. The second victim, David Sun, was killed in a vacant apartment. His family's restaurant received a call for a delivery to that address. I have a photo of the bathroom right here--it's the only room of the apartment where we found anything. There's no mirror, where you might expect one above the sink, and the only other thing in the bathroom is a razor. The third victim, Frederick Tanner, was killed in his apartment, and I believe the bathroom mirror was in about the same condition as what we found at the first scene."

"You mentioned a razor at the second location--did you find anything similar at the other two?"

"Well, I can't say that I remember that, but then, finding a razor in a man's bathroom wouldn't seem out of the ordinary. Let's see here...ah, here we go. I've got the picture from the bathroom at Wallace's jewelry story, and there is a razor on the edge of the sink, but nothing else, not even any soap. I don't seem to have any pictures of the bathroom from the third victim. We handed the cases over to the FBI by then, so they probably have more detailed pictures from the last crime scene. You should contact them. I think Agent MacDonald is the one to talk to. He could tell you a lot more about how the case is going than I could."

"Thank you, Detective. You've been very helpful."

Mulder hung up the phone and leaned back in his chair. There was no doubt about it. It was Kristen. The razors were a calling card meant just for him, a reminder of that one evening they had spent together. He had tried shaving in her bathroom, without a mirror, and she offered to help before he cut himself. But, whether intentionally or not, she had cut him instead. Right then, she had wanted to taste his blood, but he wouldn't let her. Maybe she had never forgotten what he had withheld from her.

But, more than just the distinctive clue left for him at each scene, there was the fact that the murders themselves were identical. Kristen herself had not actually committed the murders the first time, but she had led her unholy trinity to each of the victims, and she alone as an observer knew the intimate details of each victim and crime scene. The identical nature of the crimes could only mean one thing--Kristen was reconstructing the path that had first brought them together. By duplicating the case that Mulder had solved, she was sure to attract his attention and draw him into it again.

As sorry as Mulder had been for Kristen when she was once a victim of an abusive boyfriend and a dark subculture of bloodsport, the fact was that she had now become a murderer herself, and he could not indulge her little game. Since her killings were predictable, it should be easy enough to prevent the next murder, but Mulder himself had to get out before he was drawn any further into her snare.

However, more so than Kristen's trap, he was concerned about how this case could affect his recent progress with Scully. The barriers that had stood between them for so long finally seemed to be wearing down, and they had begun spending more personal time together. In fact, they had been out on a couple of evenings that might even qualify as dates. Whatever was evolving between them was happening slowly, but Mulder had waited this long and was willing to continue to be patient if slow and steady would indeed win the race.

But how would Kristen's reappearance in his life impact his relationship with Scully? He had never told her about that night, mostly out of a sense of shame. He knew how stupid it was to get personally involved with someone in a case, even if she was not technically a suspect (at least, not in his eyes). And even though his excuse was that he badly missed his partner, he knew she would not consider that to be adequate justification for his unprofessional indiscretion. After so long a silence on the matter, it almost seemed too late to tell her now--all the more reason why they needed to get out of town before becoming further involved with this case.

* * * * *
* * * * *


Detective Hughes' Office
Wednesday, 3:22 pm

After being waved down the hall by the receptionist when he inquired whether the detective was in, Mulder popped his head into the doorway and saw that Hughes was on the phone. Spotting the agent, the detective gestured for him to come in and sit down while he finished his phone conversation. As he waited for Hughes' attention, Mulder spent the next three minutes thumbing through the pages that he had come to deliver.

"Sorry about that, Agent Mulder. My mother-in-law is coming into town next week, and my wife is still trying to make the travel arrangements. What can I do for you?"

Mulder handed over the papers as he spoke. "I wanted to give you the profile I've worked up for the murderers and the potential victims. I think your focus now should be on identifying the next victim and providing surveillance to catch the suspects in the act. If they follow the pattern, you should expect them to strike again within the next week. After that, they'll move on to another city and you won't have another chance to catch them.

"You'll see on the second page there that I've identified two key locations to keep under surveillance. In the original murders, the third victim was the owner of a new age bookshop called 'The Holy Spirit'. Ideally, the killers would go for the same location, but that bookstore closed down shortly after the owner's death. There are currently two other bookstores in the Portland area with 'Spirit' in the title: another new age store called 'Spiritual Enlightenment', and a religious bookstore called 'Gifts of the Spirit'. The victim will be either an owner or employee of one of those stores. Now, the murders only occur at night, under the cover of darkness, so the most crucial time will be the half hour before and after each store closes. On the first page there I've given a rough description of what the suspects may look like and their most probable method of attack, based on the previous murders. I think with that information, you'll have a good chance to catch them."

Listening attentively while flipping through the information, Detective Hughes took another moment to peruse the pages before looking up and responding. "I really appreciate your assistance on this, Agent Mulder. This information will be a great help in concentrating our efforts. Although, I get the impression that you're not planning to stick around and see the suspects caught yourself."

"Actually, no. I think I've done all I can to help out here. If Agent Scully has finished with her exam of the bodies this afternoon, we'll probably catch a flight out tomorrow. I'm confident that you can handle the case from here."

"Well, thanks again for the help. Just let me know where I can reach you before you leave in case I have any questions for you."

* * *

Multnomah County Morgue
Wednesday, 4:45 pm

After checking into their hotel and dropping off the luggage, Mulder drove over to the morgue to pick up his partner. When he arrived, she was just washing up and was about to go change out of her scrubs.

"Find anything interesting?"

"Well, the cause of death it pretty straightforward--this victim, like the first one, essentially bled to death. What's interesting is the bite marks--human bite marks--on his neck and tongue. I've been studying these, and it appears that they were made by three different people. While these bites were deep enough to draw blood, they were not the actual cause of the blood loss. That, I'm guessing, resulted from the two puncture wounds on the jugular vein. And before you tell me that these were made by a vampire--."

"They were made by a hypodermic needle or a snake bite kit. The bites were just for a taste, but the majority of the blood was stored to be consumed later."

The look of disappointment on Scully's face was unmistakable. Mulder had taken the wind out of her sails. He was supposed to argue that these were fang marks made by a vampire while she would vehemently protest and offer a scientific explanation. As he saw the dejected look on her face, Mulder was rather amused and leaned closer to her as he explained how he knew.

"That's how the original trio operated. But, that doesn't mean they weren't vampires."

The corner of Scully's mouth began to turn up at this admission. "Well, Mulder, that remains to be seen. Just don't get any crazy ideas about driving a stake through someone's heart."

"It doesn't work, Scully. You shouldn't get drawn in by all those vampire stories."

Scully's smirk turned into a full-fledged smile as she graced Mulder with the characteristic eye-roll and turned to go change into her clothes.

Mulder called after her, "So, pizza for dinner?" To which he got no verbal response, but he could swear that he faintly heard someone singing the theme song to "Shaft" before she disappeared through the door.

* * *

Bridgeport Brewpub
Wednesday, 6:17 pm

When they left the morgue, Scully had insisted upon stopping by the hotel first to change into more casual clothes, and then the two of them finally settled on a place for dinner. Since the Northwest is known for its microbrews, Mulder was eager to stop by one of the brewpubs that he had yet to visit on any of his previous trips.

They managed to keep the conversation away from work until the food arrived, but inevitably the matter at hand again crept to the fore. Besides, Mulder wanted to convince his partner that they'd made their contribution and could now return home. Of course, he wasn't going to tell her why he was so eager to distance himself from the case.

"So, Mulder, you described how the original murderers used needles to draw the blood for storage. I'll buy that the current murderers are doing the same thing, but what's their connection to the original crimes?"

"They're copycats, plain and simple. Someone out looking for publicity. Virtually all of the case file information is accessible on the web if you know how to hack into the right systems. At least one of them probably had some connection with the original three, maybe traveled in the same circles. I gave Hughes a list of local clubs to check. I also mentioned in the profile I gave him that at least one of them might work at a blood bank or a hospital, someplace with easy access to a blood supply."

Surprised by Mulder's efficiency on this case, Scully stopped eating and gaped at him. "You already gave Hughes your profile?"

Mulder, on the other hand, seemed completely fascinated by the food on his plate and did not meet her gaze. "Yeah. I didn't see the point in wasting any time on this one, not when we're expecting a third attack. I gave him my profile and a list of potential victims, so I figure we can leave the rest up to him and catch the first flight out in the morning."

This was not like Mulder at all, Scully thought. First he had tried to avoid taking the case. Now he was eager to drop it back in the lap of the locals after one day of investigating and a quick profile. And what about the vampires? Wasn't he the least bit interested in these people who seemed to have a taste for blood?

She didn't actually have to vocalize her objections; Mulder could anticipate every one of them. The stare she was giving him communicated them well enough. Finally, he stopped avoiding her and voiced his rebuttal.

"It's almost the weekend, and I just know how much you hate being gone on a case when Friday rolls around. Besides, this weekend it's my turn to choose the movie, and I wouldn't want you to miss out on the classic that I have picked out."

Although Scully wasn't completely convinced, she picked up her fork and returned her attention to her food. Maybe Mulder had grown as tired as she had of rehashing old cases. It seems that they had encountered too many old serial killers who fixated on her partner and found some way to start up their crimes again just to antagonize him. If he was convinced this time that it was just a copycat, why not leave it be? With that, Scully decided to drop the subject and enjoy the evening.

* * *

The Nightlife Dance Club and Bar
Wednesday, 7:02 pm

The brunette checked her watch again and then tapped the bar to indicate to the bartender that she wanted another drink. As she waited for her refill, she rummaged through the contents of her purse. Pushing past hypodermics and prophylactics, she finally located the object she sought out, its weight having settled it down near the bottom. Pulling out her compact to freshen up her make-up while sitting at the bar, she looked no different than most of the patrons who wandered in here looking for a drink and a companion. Only, if one were to look more closely they would notice that this woman's compact had no mirror.

This early in the evening, the crowd was thin at the dimly lit club. Only 18 hours ago, the place had been hopping, the music pounding through her body like a heartbeat as she cruised the bar for a companion. So many of the men had seemed promising at first glance, but it never took more than a few minutes of conversation to prove that they all paled in comparison to him. There was only one man for her. She had waited so long for their chance to be together again, but soon it would be time.

Kristen smiled in thanks to the bartender as he set her drink down in front of her. The alcohol helped to calm her nerves and the glass kept her hands occupied so that she wouldn't look at her watch again. Tonight was the night, and her body was humming with anticipation. It really surprised her that it had taken so long to get his attention. She thought he would be there in Memphis, but after the third attempt there was still no sign of him and it was necessary to move on. But she had seen him today, leaving the FBI office. Everything was in place for tonight, and she was ready to make her move.

So many lonely nights had passed for both of them, but they would be alone no longer. After tonight they could finally be together, forever.

* * *

Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Wednesday, 7:35 pm

After dinner, the two agents had wandered down to the river for a stroll to take in the sights of the city. As rarely happened in their lives, they looked like a completely ordinary couple, walking along the promenade hand-in-hand as they were passed by other sauntering couples and groups of chatty teenagers.

There was a cool breeze blowing along the river that evening, and Mulder had gallantly draped his jacket over Scully when it was clear that her long-sleeved shirt was not keeping her warm enough. They walked in silence for a long time, just enjoying the scenery and one another's presence. On the return trip, they paused along the wall to watch the drawbridge raise and lower for a ship passing through.

Mulder stood with his arms folded in front of him and leaned against the cement wall. Since she was on the farther side from the bridge, Scully took the opportunity to gaze at his profile in her line of vision while he continued to watch the bridge lower into its place. After another minute or so, he turned toward her, realizing that she had been watching him instead. By the look on her face, he knew that she had been contemplating something and was searching for the right words to say what was on her mind. Mulder turned around and leaned his back against the wall, waiting for whatever was coming.

"You know, you've never really talked much about that time, while I was missing. My mother and sister both told me how you visited in the hospital after I was returned, but you've never told me about the time while I was gone."

Mulder looked at her for a long time with an expressionless gaze before he responded. When he finally spoke, he did so with arms crossed and eyes averted to his feet.

"There's not much to tell. I wasn't very good company and I didn't sleep much. I spent way too much time alone in my apartment until I was finally put back on the X-Files, and then I threw myself into my work." He looked up at her. "And then you came back and my life got better." A shrug capped off the last sentence, punctuating the fact that that's all there was to it.

Trying a different tactic, Scully moved a step closer, invading his personal space, so that she had to tilt her head back to look up at him. She spoke softly in reply.

"If it's really that straightforward, then you wouldn't have hidden this case file from me." Reaching down, she took hold of one of his hands that had dropped back down to his side. "Mulder, we can't run from the past. We've both been through so much. We need to confront our ghosts, deal with them head on, so that they don't keep us from living out our future. Whatever it is that's so painful about that time, I'm not afraid of it. I want to share the burden with you."

Mulder didn't look away from Scully's pleading gaze, but he didn't respond either. There was something sad behind his eyes, something emotional that he wasn't ready to say. As each second passed, she lost hope that he would finally let go and speak those emotions.

After a long pause, Mulder lifted his hand that Scully had linked with her own and brought it up toward his face. He leaned his head down to meet their interlaced hands and kissed the back of hers. With that gesture, he pulled away from the wall and walked back toward the car in silence, his partner following along behind with their hands still joined.

* * *

Shilo Inn
Wednesday, 8:24 pm

On the rest of the trip back to the hotel, Mulder hadn't said anything and Scully hadn't asked any questions. It was clear that he was not ready to discuss whatever was bothering him about this case. Although Scully hated the idea that there was something that stood between them, something they couldn't talk about even though they were now growing so close, she also knew how Mulder insisted on bearing his burdens alone.

Once they arrived at the hotel, they had each withdrawn to their separate rooms, and Scully immediately retreated to the shower. It wasn't quite the same as enjoying a nice long soak in the tub, but she needed the rest of the evening to finish typing up her notes on the autopsies since Mulder wanted to leave the next morning.

Just as she emerged from the bathroom, cozily wrapped in a terrycloth robe and with a towel wrapped around her wet head, she heard a gentle knock on the door. She expected that it would be her partner, and just as she was going to look through the peephole to confirm that, she heard his voice through the door.

"Scully, it's me."

Unlocking the door and opening it, she stepping back to let Mulder walk past her into the room. He headed straight for the bed and sat down on the end of it, watching Scully as she removed the towel and began to squeeze the water out of her hair. Since he seemed more interested in watching her than in starting a conversation, she carried on with what she was doing before he had stopped by.

After Scully had deposited the damp towel in the bathroom and laid out several pages of notes next to her laptop on the table, she turned and looked at Mulder. Although she didn't speak the words, it was clear from her raised eyebrow that she wanted to know why exactly he had come by her room and apparently insisted on staying when she obviously had work to do.

Mulder reached out his hand toward Scully, and she reached out in response. Not budging at first, she acquiesced as he took hold of her hand and pulled her toward him. As she moved closer, he took her other hand in his and positioned her directly in front of him, between his legs that had parted wide enough to make room for her. Mulder looked directly into her eyes with that same sad look he had worn at the riverfront, and then he sighed deeply before he finally spoke.

"Scully, I've never told you just how much you'd meant to me even back in the first years of our partnership. I admit that I didn't really trust you at first, but once I did, I came to depend on you. I never thought I needed a partner, but when they separated us, I realized that I couldn't do this without you. I needed you--not just in my work, but in my life. When you were abducted, I was devastated. I didn't know how to function without you there, and I didn't know how to express that to you once you were back. But even so, you came back to work and put up with me."

Mulder paused, but he looked like he wanted to say something more, so Scully remained silent. The words seemed to evade him, so he continued to communicate his feelings with a long, meaningful look. Finally he found his voice again, but clearly laden with emotion. "Thanks for sticking by me all these years."

Scully's face slowly broadened into a smile. She leaned in close to him and said, barely above a whisper, "You're welcome." Continuing her forward motion, she leaned in toward Mulder's lips, both closing their eyes in anticipation--until they were startled by the shrill ring of the phone on the nightstand.

Mulder sighed as Scully moved away to pick up the phone. It seemed like there was never enough time for them. Something always interfered. If it wasn't a bee, it was the phone or something else.


"Agent Scully? This is Detective Hughes. Sorry to disturb you. I tried calling Agent Mulder's room, but apparently he's out."

Scully didn't bother to fill in the detail that Mulder was here in the room with her. "Is it something I can help you with?"

"I wanted to let you know that we've spotted some suspects at one of the surveillance sites that match Agent Mulder's description. I know you two were planning to leave in the morning, but since you're still here, I thought maybe you'd be interested in joining us for the arrest. The shop's still open for another half hour, and it looks like they're waiting for the shopkeeper to close up before they make their move, so we're holding back until then."

"Thank you, detective. Just give me the directions, and we'll be right there."

* * * * *
* * * * *

Act IV

Spiritual Enlightenment bookstore
Wednesday, 9:07 pm

The two agents had arrived at the scene just a few minutes before 9 o'clock to find that nothing much had happened since Detective Hughes' call. As he instructed them, they had parked a couple of blocks away and approached the surveillance team via a darkened alley in order to avoid drawing the attention of the suspects. The detective used the last few minutes before the shop closed to quickly bring them up to speed.

"About an hour ago, a woman was seen leaving the store and entering the alley there next to it. She never emerged. But 15 minutes later a man casually ducked into the alley, and 5 minutes after that, another man entered after nervously glancing around. As far as we can tell, the three of them are still back there, hovering in the shadows. All three matched descriptions suggested by your profile. Now, we approached the shopkeeper earlier today to tell her about the surveillance. I tell you, she's quite a firecracker. When she heard what we were doing, she insisted on playing the bait because she's been looking for an opportunity to try out some of the moves she learned in her self-defense class."

Just then, the detective was distracted from his account by one of his men who was pointing out the woman now exiting the bookstore. She was petite in frame, probably in her mid-40s, and the streetlights highlighted the reddish hues in her graying hair. Mulder couldn't help but be reminded of Scully as he saw the woman and heard the detective's last comments echoing through his head. Yeah, he knew the type. This woman would be just fine.

The store owner locked the door with her key, jiggling the handle to make sure it was secure, and then she took a deep breath and turned to walk slowly down the sidewalk. Although she keep her eyes rigidly fixed in front of her, her demeanor made it clear that she was entirely alert to the rest of her environment.

As the woman passed the dark alley next to her store, she was swept into the shadows with one swift motion. On that cue, a dozen law enforcement officers emerged, running at full speed from multiple locations up and down the street. Mulder and Scully rose with Detective Hughes to follow his men into the alley.

While Scully pursued the detective across the street, Mulder paused. His instincts were telling him that something else was going on here. He knew that Kristen had staged these murders just to draw him out. He had to confront her about it, and he had to do it alone. If she had truly achieved immortality, then there would be no true justice in this case through any conventional means. But if he was the real motivation for her slayings, then maybe he could convince her to stop and no one else would have to die.

Mulder suspected that Kristen was nearby, watching the scene unfold from a distance. As the cops continued to converge on the point across from him, he turned to look down the street, first to his left, then to his right. And then he spotted her.

A youthful looking brunette was leaning against a lamppost about a block away. Her eyes were locked on Mulder, as though she had been watching him for awhile, waiting for him to turn and notice her. When he did, she smiled and then turned and casually strolled into the parking garage to her left, still unnoticed by the men whose attention was focused on the alley.

As Kristen disappeared from sight, Mulder followed, his long stride changing into a slow jog as he headed for the entrance where he had last seen her. He knew that she was playing cat and mouse, and that for now he was going along with her game. But, if he was to talk to her alone, this seemed his best opportunity to do so.

Mulder stepped into the parking garage and halted. Kristen was nowhere in sight, and there were no immediate sounds or movements to indicate where she might be. After watching and listening for a moment, he decided to slowly proceed inside. Out of instinct, his hand was poised on his holster, although logically he knew that his bullets would be useless against an immortal.

Slowly walking through the first aisle, he proceeded toward the ramp leading to the second level, carefully glancing behind the few parked cars as he went. It was as he rounded the corner leading up toward the third level that Mulder saw a movement off to his right, but by then it was too late. A sharp pain in his leg had landed him in a heap on the ground. As he instinctively nursed his leg, pain pulsed through his head from the heavy object that had just struck him another blow. He tried to open his eyes to look up and defend himself, but his vision was blurred and this corner was poorly lit. Only briefly did he catch a glimpse of the figure standing over him before he blacked out.

* * * *

As Detective Hughes ran to the dark alley next to the bookstore, Scully was right on his heels. Between the poor lighting and the number of cops already ahead of them and blocking their view, they couldn't see what was happening down the alley, but the sounds made it clear enough. Scully recognized the shout of "Back off!" and several other explosive phrases as ones she herself had heard repeated in self-defense training. These yells, accompanied by the low grunts of men in pain, made it clear who was winning the struggle.

When they reached the alley and came to a stop behind the crowd of officers, Scully turned to say something to her partner, only to realize that he wasn't there. She stepped back into the street and looked in the direction from which they had just come. Mulder was nowhere in sight. However, a movement down the street caught her attention. She turned and looked just in time to notice him duck into a parking garage a block away. Assuming that he had spotted something and must have had a good reason for running off on his own ("Mulder, you better have a *damn* good reason."), she pursued.

As Scully entered the parking garage, she came to a stop. She didn't see Mulder, nor did she find any indication of what had drawn his attention. The garage was quiet and relatively abandoned at this time of night. The dull noises that echoed through the structure seemed to be only those filtering in from the street. She wondered for a moment whether to call out for him, but she thought better of it. The silence of her surroundings seemed too stifling.

Drawing her gun, Scully began to move through the row of cars in front of her. Her first few anxious steps echoed throughout the garage, and she silently cursed her three-inch heels. They may be useful for bringing her closer to Mulder's eye level and making her appear less diminutive to condescending chauvinists, but it was almost impossible to walk quietly in them. She shifted her weight onto the balls of her feet, softening the impact of the heels, and slowed her steps.

Only as she neared the top of the ramp leading to the second level did the agent begin to hear any sounds inside of the garage. At first there were some scuffling and scraping noises, and then they yielded to slow, methodical footsteps, and finally a woman's voice. With the echoes in the nearly vacant garage, it was difficult to distinguish precisely where the sounds were coming from, but they seemed to grow louder as Scully continued up the ramp. At the top, she waited quietly, trying to discern how close she might be now. The woman's voice was still indistinct, although Scully could catch a couple of words.

As she slowly peeked her head around the corner, looking around the next level, Scully still didn't see anyone. But the next sound she heard caught her full attention, and whether by hearing or some other instinct, she could now tell the exact location. It was a male voice, one that she knew perhaps better than the sound of her own.

It was Mulder.

* * * *

When Mulder came to, he tried to rub his eyes to clear his sight, only to realize that his hands were immobilized. Once his head had cleared a little, he realized that he had been handcuffed to the door handle of a large pickup truck. He moved his legs in an attempt to stand, but the persistent pain in his right leg made him think better of it. Perhaps his best option right now was to stay put and assess his situation.

Seeing her captive settle back to the floor in resignation, Kristen emerged from the shadows and came to stand in front of him. Mulder noticed that she didn't look a day older than when he had last seen her, whereas his own face clearly testified to the years and trials that had passed. Like a predator circling her prey, she paced back and forth in front of him a few times before she finally spoke.

"Fox, I knew you'd come."

Mulder didn't respond, so Kristen knelt down near him and continued.

"I'm lonely, Fox. And I remember how lonely you were too. You can join me. Spend eternity with me. We don't have to be alone anymore."

At this, he finally spoke. "What happened to John? Since you survived the fire, I'm assuming he did too."

Kristen stood and moved away, reclaiming her position of dominance. "After the fire, we moved on, but John never learned to control his violence. But I had become his equal, so he couldn't hurt me anymore. At least, not like before. He couldn't control me, and so he became bored with me, and I left. I struck out on my own and eventually found my own trinity. But all I ever really wanted was a partner, someone to share my life with. All I wanted was to be loved. John loved me, in his own way, but I'm not sure he really cared about me. But you cared."

Her eyes softening, she moved back toward Mulder. "I remember how you cared. You're the only man who ever really did."

Mulder sighed, hoping he could find just the right words to change her mind. "Kristen, I cared because it was my job. You were a victim, not a criminal, and I didn't want to see you hurt anymore by John and his friends. But you've changed. You've become just like him, in every way. And I know, just like with him, that I can't stop you. I can only ask you to stop. Stop hurting innocent people. You don't have to be a murderer. You don't have to be like John."

Kristen crouched even nearer to him now, leaning forward to stroke his face. "You're right, I don't have to do this anymore. Not if you join me. We can be together, now. We don't have to be alone."

Wincing slightly from the pain in his face, he pulled back from her touch. "Kristen, I *was* lonely when I first met you, because someone who meant a lot to me had been taken from me. But things have changed now. I'm not lonely anymore."

Standing abruptly, she began pacing again. This time Mulder could see the glimmer of a straight edge razor that she was brandishing in her hand, matched only by the gleam of growing anger in her eyes. And then she stopped squarely in front of him.

"It's too late, Fox. I'm come too far to leave you behind. You're the one."

Mulder anticipated that she was about to make a move at him with the razor. As he was subtly trying to test out the mobility of his legs to see if he could knock her back, they were both startled by the motion and sound that emerged from behind the truck.

"Federal Agent! Drop your weapon and move away from him!"

The warning halted Kristen in her attack, causing her to drop the razor to her side, but not to the ground. She stood in place, casually observing the diminutive redhead who pointed the gun at her, standing as close to her as she now stood to Mulder --just out of reach.

"I said, move away!"

Kristen complied only by taking one step backward, but her change in position was enough to draw her attention to something she had not noticed a moment before. Beyond the gun in her hand, a small gold cross could be seen hanging around the neck of the red-haired woman. Kristen had seen that cross before, on the neck of a lonely man who showed more interest in her well-being than any of the other men she had ever known.

After the initial surprise of hearing Scully's voice, Mulder had been relieved at her presence. That was, until this moment when he saw Kristen's gaze lock onto her neck. When Kristen looked over at him and their eyes met, she knew that he had seen what she was looking at. Closing his eyes, Mulder sighed deeply. Whatever the effect of this new revelation, he was sure that it could only make matters worse.

It was the sound of Kristen's voice that opened his eyes again and brought his attention away from his own thoughts and back to her. She was slowly shaking her head and beginning a slow prowl again, circling away from Scully but not too far from Mulder. "Ah, Fox, you really should have kept the cross. Maybe it would have protected you from me now."

Scully's reaction to Kristen's movement was delayed slightly as she tried to understand the exact meaning of her words. As Kristen continued to distance herself, Scully matched her pace by advancing on her and trying to position herself between Mulder and his attacker, but this proved difficult as she continued to circle around toward him again, ignoring Scully's presence.

"I can see it in your eyes, Fox. You still haven't found what you're looking for. But I have. I've found life, and I want to share it with you. It's time now, time for you to join me."

With a wicked smile and a tilt of the head, Kristen spoke these final words to Mulder, and then she lunged for him. As Scully saw the motion, she instinctively pulled the trigger. Kristen's body dropped to the ground only inches from Mulder, the razor falling from her hand with the impact. Scully stood her ground with her gun trained on Kristen, waiting to see if she would attempt to reach for the blade. But she did not.

Looking down at her chest, Kristen saw her own blood oozing from the gunshot wound. Smiling up at her chosen, she reached toward the gaping hole, coating her fingers in the thick moisture. In a move that Scully was not expecting as she looked on, Kristen extended her hand up to Mulder's face and swiped her blood onto his lower lip.

Only Mulder was close enough to hear the final words that she whispered to him before she collapsed onto the ground next to him. "It's not too late...."

When Scully saw the woman drop unconscious, she kicked the razor further out of reach and then swiftly descended on her partner.

"Mulder, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'll be okay. Just get my hands undone."

She quickly unlocked the handcuffs and then pulled out her cell phone to call for paramedics. As soon as his hands were free, Mulder's first motion was to wipe off his mouth with his sleeve. He moved himself further away from Kristen's body but did not get up. While Scully checked on him once more and then ran down to the street for backup, his eyes remained fixed on Kristen until the ambulance finally arrived to carry her away.

* * * * *
* * * * *


2630 Hegel Place, Apt. 42
Saturday, 10:09 am

As Mulder had intended, they indeed had made it home before the weekend. However, the events of the last case had left him injured, which once again put a damper on their plans for their time alone. Scully had spent the night at his apartment, more to watch over him than to spend intimate time with him, and even though Mulder knew this, he didn't complain. Although it had been necessary to finally share the basic details of his history with Kristen, he hadn't been willing to talk about the case very much since they returned to Washington and even insisted on writing up the final report himself. He knew that his partner had been incredibly patient with him, not asking any questions, so the least he could do was let her hover when she wanted to.

The pain medication that Scully insisted he take for the persisting ache in his leg had knocked Mulder out long before he usually went to bed, and she didn't want to disturb his sleep when she got up in the morning. As far as she could tell, there hadn't been any nightmares, and if Mulder was experiencing peaceful slumber, she certainly didn't want to wake him if there was no need.

Just as Scully was getting out the shower, the phone rang. With a towel draped around her, she ran for it and managed to pick up the cordless in the bedroom after only the second ring. Mulder turned in the bed but didn't wake up. Grateful for this, she waited until she was in the living room before she spoke.


"Hello. Is Agent Mulder there?"

"I'm sorry, he's resting. Can I take a message?"

"Uh, is this Agent Scully by any chance?"


"This is Detective Hughes, in Portland. I hope Agent Mulder is recovering from his injuries alright."

"He'll be fine in a few more days. But the pain medication has been making him pretty drowsy. I'll let him know that you called."

"Actually, I called to tell him about an unfortunate turn in this case. We had a couple of unexplained events last night. The two male suspects were being transported from our precinct to a county facility when the van they were in hit a lamppost and exploded on impact. There were no survivors. All that was left of the suspects and our deputies were charred remains, and the only way that we could even tell them apart was by the shackles that the suspects were still wearing. And then, if that wasn't bad enough, I got news early this morning that the female suspect seems to have disappeared from the ICU. The guard didn't see her leave, but when the nursing staff did their rounds after the shift change, she wasn't in her bed, and they've yet to locate her."

Scully sighed, sharing the detective's frustration and melancholy through the phone. "I'm sorry to hear that. I'll be sure to pass the information along to Mulder. Thank you for calling."

After Scully had ended the call, she turned back toward the bedroom to find Mulder standing in the doorway. He had clearly heard the end of the conversation, so she told him to have a seat on the couch and then recounted for him the detective's news. When she finished, Mulder had his face buried in his hands. Not being able to see his expression, she could only guess at his reaction.

"At least it's over with now, Mulder. Two of the suspects are dead, and Kristen couldn't have gotten far in the condition she's in. They'll probably find her before long."

At that, he looked up at her. Although he didn't speak, she knew exactly what he was communicating to her. This was eerily similar to how things had ended the first time, and he had thought it was over then, too. But clearly, it had not been.

But Scully wasn't ready yet to resign to this fate. "Mulder, even if Kristen is still alive and strong enough to start over again, the only reason that she started up the killings again was to attract your attention, because she thought that you felt the same way about her that she felt about you. But now she knows the truth, so there's no reason for her to do this again. Maybe you got your message across and she's realized that she doesn't need to return to killing."

He didn't protest, but his lack of response was not necessarily an acceptance of her theory, and she knew that. After a moment of silence passed between them, Scully got up to head back toward the bathroom. As she reached the door to the bedroom, she stopped and turned. A question had been nagging at her ever since the encounter with Kristen, and she finally felt the compulsion too great to resist any longer.

"Mulder, back in the parking garage, Kristen said something about a cross protecting you. What did she mean by that?"

After a long pause, he turned toward her to face the question head on. "When we found your necklace, after Duane Barry had abducted you, I tried giving it to your mother. I figured she would want it, but she told me to hold onto it so I could give it back to you when I found you. I carried it around with me for awhile, hoping that you would return any day. Eventually I put it in your case file with your personal effects, but when I returned to the X-Files, I pulled it out again. I never told you this, but I wore the necklace myself for awhile. I guess it made me feel closer to you, like you were still there with me. Kristen saw me wearing it and asked if I was trying to ward her off. I told her it belonged to someone I missed very much."

At first, Scully just stood there absorbing this information and didn't respond. But then, a small smile emerged on her face. Before she turned and disappeared through the doorway, Mulder heard her say, "I guess God was watching over both of us back then."



Author's Notes: Being from Oregon, I couldn't help but notice the Portland connection in "3," so I took the opportunity to bring Mulder and Scully back here to spend some quality time. Several of the locations and businesses mentioned here do indeed exist: Vista Springs Cafe, Gifts of the Spirit, Bridgeport Brewpub, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and Shilo Inns. (And Starbucks and Wal-mart, of course.)

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