Title: Territoriality
Author: Donna
Category: MSR, angst
Rating: PG-13
Feedback: donnah@donnas-stories.com
Spoilers: none
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter,10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.
Summary: Maybe his jealousy isn't always a bad thing

 

Territoriality


He pulled into a space right in front of the building and remembered to be grateful once again for the FBI tag that would keep the rental car from being towed. Without it he’d spend hours just looking for a place to park.

"Nice digs."

"It’s a new building, they just moved in. Having the homicide labs in the same building should create better efficiency." Scully was unbuckling her seatbelt

"Or a quicker way to screw up." She looked over and grinned at him, but didn’t dispute the point. They headed for the front door. "Scully, I’m going to get a paper, see what the local media is saying about this."

"Okay, I’ll go see who’s in charge." She pushed the doors open and headed for the elevators.

He stood on the street, flipping through the paper until he found a mention of the murders. Very low key press; someone was holding the lid on tight. Hopefully it could stay that way; a panic never helped an investigation. It could complicate it though. He folded the paper and headed inside the building. There was actually a lobby, all glass and dark marble. Tax dollars at work, he was glad they weren’t his tax dollars. A great lab was one thing, he'd learned the value of them, but palatial offices were a little over the top for police work.

The elevator finally arrived and he ended up stopping on nearly every floor, but finally reached the homicide division and exited. He looked around but didn’t spot her, so he headed for the front desk.

"Agent Mulder," he displayed his badge. "My partner should be - "

"Agent Scully, yes she’s with Detective Marcum. His office is over there." Mulder followed the pointing finger. The detectives apparently had the outer window offices surrounding the work area in the middle of the large room. He nodded to the policewoman on duty and headed that way.

The glass wall in the office gave him his first glimpse of Scully. She was looking up and smiling at the man in the office with her. Tall, at least as tall as he was, his hair was lighter, he couldn’t really see his eyes from this angle, but could see the laugh crinkles around his eyes as he gazed back at her. Mulder found his pace increasing but before he could reach the office, saw this man place his hand on Scully’s back and move her closer to the desk.

Every hair on his body stood up as though an electrical current had run through him. Why was this man touching Scully? And why there, that was his spot. He didn’t bother with the niceties of knocking but fairly burst into the room with them.

Scully turned startled, she hadn’t seen him approach? Oh, she’s been too busy looking at this guy to care if he were anywhere around.

"Mulder," she smiled at him, when the hell did she start smiling so much? "This is Detective Marcum, Greg, this is my partner, Agent Mulder."

Greg? How chummy. Mulder extended his hand and shook with the other man.

"I’m sure glad you guys have agreed to help us with this case. I’m not supposed to admit this, but we’re totally stumped. I’m hoping Dana will turn up something that the old coot we’ve got missed."

Dana? He turned to smile at Scully and her eyes widened at the feral look behind it, but made no comment.

"Yeah, Dana’s good at finding things everyone else misses. The bodies downstairs?" Scully’s eyes narrowed but she kept quiet.

"Yes, I was just getting ready to take Dana down. I have this file for you too. Crime scene photos, the whole thing. We’re anxious to get this cleared up before the public starts to panic and wild theories start floating around."

"Wild theories? What kind of thing are you thinking?" Mulder was watching him and avoiding looking at Scully.

"Oh you know, nonsense things like ghosts and vampires. I’m sure you know all about the garbage the public will buy these days."

"Yeah, we know that garbage pretty well."

Scully stepped toward the door; "I’d like to get a look at those bodies now, if you’re ready." Both men approached her and she was struck by the fact that both had their hands out to guide her through the door. She moved quickly so that neither man could reach her and headed out.

She pushed the button to the elevator and stepped on without any assistance. As they approached the lab she felt a hand touch her back. Not Mulder, she knew his touch. That caused a second of reflection, she knew Mulder’s touch that well without looking? Business, Dana, stick to business and ignore anything else.

Greg pushed the door to the labs open and allowed her to precede him. Mulder followed them in.

Greg introduced both Scully and Mulder to the coroner and stood back as the last two victims were pulled from the drawers. Mulder stepped forward eagerly; he did want to see these bodies. If it was an X-File, he needed to make sure every aspect was recorded.

Scully was already pulling on gloves and having a discussion with the coroner. They could not find a way that the blood had been extracted from the body in either victim. A third victim had not been autopsied at the family’s insistence, but the cursory exam had shown no clear evidence either. These were young people, healthy organs, and good physical shape. There was a reason and Scully was determined to find it.

After a few minutes Mulder spoke up, "Scully, you don’t need me here, I think I’ll head out to the scene and look around. Meet you back here in a couple of hours?" He knew she could handle this better than him.

She nodded, her mind already busy with the bodies in front of her. "Sure Mulder. Call me if you find anything."

"You too." He turned to Greg. "Can you get me directions to where she was found?"

"Why don’t I take you there. I’ll show you where we found everything. Maybe I can help."

"Okay, do you want me to leave the car for you Scully?"

"No, I’ll be here awhile. Go ahead and take it." He nodded.

She watched the two of them leave the room. She hoped Mulder would behave himself. It would only make things harder if he antagonized the local authorities. Then she pushed both men from her mind and concentrated on the job at hand.

*****

Mulder stood looking at the site. If "Greg" were to be believed, nothing had been disturbed. The problem was, there was nothing to disturb. The place was bare, concrete floor, three walls, no pictures, and no windows. If it were outside it would be a dead end alley. There was no evidence of violence of any kind.

"Have you checked for blood?"

"Everywhere. Even brought out the black lights, not a trace anywhere. We thought sure we’d spot a drop that might have been spilt." He shook his head.

Mulder was investigating the wall closely now. "Can you find out when this was last painted?"

"Sure." Greg pulled out a pad and made a note. He watched as Mulder scraped paint off the walls at three locations, carefully labeling the bags as to which wall the paint came from. "What are you doing?"

"The paint on this wall is more faded than the others, but that wall receives the most sun. Just thought I’d check it out."

Greg watched the man carefully, he was serious. "You’re not kidding, you’re really going to check that?"

"Anything that’s different . . . " Mulder stepped back and scanned the area again. He wasn’t picking up on anything else. He sure hoped Scully was doing better. "What about the other sites?"

"Well," Greg rubbed his nose, "they’re not preserved any more, but I’d to happy to take you to them. They were outdoors, public traffic areas. In fact one of them was already pretty messed up by the time we got the call, everyone checking it out."

"That’s fine, I’d still like to see them."

Neither of the sites were that far from the first, so in a short while Mulder had samples of the paint from all three sites. They headed back to the lab.

"Agent Mulder, may I ask you something?"

"Uh, sure." He looked up from the evidence bags and turned to look at the man beside him.

"Agent Scully, is she seeing anyone?"

Of course she is, she sees me every day, was his immediate reaction. That wasn’t what the man was asking. Was she involved with anyone, again the immediate thought was back to himself. Get a grip, Mulder. He’s asking if she’s dating anyone and you damn well know that’s not you.

"Uh, not that I know of." A bland reply, but his adrenaline had risen as though he were facing danger. The desire to draw his gun came to him and he wanted to laugh at himself.

He trailed Greg to the lab and found Scully there leaning over a microscope. Mulder opened his mouth to ask what she had found and heard Greg speak first. "Dana, any luck?"

She looked up and greeted both of them. "It’s the absence of evidence that I found." She gestured them over and moved so that they could look through the microscope. They obediently looked into the eyepiece.

"Well?" Mulder turned to her.

"She died from loss of blood, just as the coroner said. The organs starved to death. What bothers me is that there no evidence of how the blood left the body. The same is true for him. But there’s not a wound on either of them, not a puncture mark, and no evidence of trauma at the throat or rectum. The organs were all intact and healthy. It’s as though Scotty had beamed the blood out of their bodies.

She had managed to hide her smile at the gleam in Mulder’s eyes when she heard Greg laugh out loud. "Yeah, right! And William Shatner is our prime suspect." He continued to laugh and she watched Mulder’s face turn completely blank and withdrawn.

What was going on with him? Wasn’t he going to respond, make some crack to put Greg in his place? Obviously not, as he turned to leave the room.

"Mulder?"

"I have some evidence I want to overnight to the Bureau."

"Carmalyn should be on the desk now. She can handle that for you." Greg didn’t bother to turn and look at him, opting instead to keep his eyes on Scully.

"Yeah, thanks." And Mulder was out the door. Scully had the stray thought that he looked as though he was escaping. She shook that off and turned to Greg.

"Did you find anything?"

"No."

"Well, what is he sending to DC?" She questioned; they had to have found something.

"Oh that, he scraped some paint off the walls at each site and wants to have someone look at it. Seems like a waste of time. Doesn’t look like he’s been able to do much more than we did."

"Give Mulder time. He’ll figure it out, you just might not like the answer."

"Well, if I wouldn’t like that answer, maybe you can give me a better one." He moved over closer beside her.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Have dinner with me. I know a great Italian place, we could relax, get our minds off this case, maybe get to know each other a little better."

His smile was more confident that Mulder’s. Now why had she thought that? "Well, Mulder may have made plans to work this evening."

"Let him. I don’t think he’d want to join us anyway."

"Greg. . . "

"Come on, just dinner. I won’t keep you late. Mulder said you’re not seeing anyone at present, so it’s not like I’d be stepping on any toes. Right?"

"Mulder said." She looked over at the door again. Wasn’t seeing anyone? Well yes, technically that was true, but when they were out of town they always . . . But if he’d told Greg there was no one, then that must be how he felt. She suddenly felt very tired.

"Thanks Greg, but it’s been a long day. The flight, the autopsies. I’ll probably just go back to the hotel room and turn in early."

"Can’t accept that Agent Scully. We don’t know how long you’ll be in town and I have to grab my opportunity to get to know fellow professionals and see what I can learn from them. You’ll enjoy yourself Dana, I’ll make sure you’re home early, more relaxed."

He smiled that confident smile again. He must go out a lot to have developed that smoothness in his line. But it did kind of sound like fun, and she couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone out with a man for fun. Well, Ed, but that hadn’t exactly turned out to be fun and it was ages ago.

"Okay. As long as you promise an early night." His smile grew even bigger. She couldn’t help but respond. It had been a long time since a man had looked at her like that. It felt good.

Mulder had found Carmalyn and filled out the paperwork to get his evidence overnighted to the Bureau labs. He was having trouble focusing though, he felt detached as though he had left most of himself somewhere and couldn’t find it.

Now what? He wasn’t hungry but they couldn’t do much else here tonight and he definitely wanted to get out of here. He could discuss the case with Scully and get back on track. He turned as he heard her voice and saw she and Greg come through the door together. At least he didn’t have his damn hands on her again.

"Mulder, we’re going to get something to eat. What to join us?"

She had to be kidding. She was going on a date with this guy? And she thought he might want to tag along? Oh yeah. He missed the look she gave him requesting privately that he accompany them, but he was too thrown to pay attention to her. His feelings were suddenly raw and out there.

"Uh, no thanks. I have some stuff I want to look at. You guys have fun." He turned to leave the office.

"Mulder?"

He only turned part way back toward her, not quite facing her. "Yeah?"

"Nothing. I’ll see you later." She let him leave. He was obviously upset with her. He had no reason; he’s the one that told Greg she wasn’t seeing anyone. Well fine. She headed over to Greg’s office and smiled up at him. "Mulder had plans, so we’re all set."

The smile he gave her was more than warm. Why couldn’t Mulder look at her that way once in awhile? You know damn well know why Dana, and he’s right.

Dinner was actually entertaining, much better than any date she’d had in recent memory. At least she had something in common with Greg. He was true to his word and didn’t press too hard to go for a drink afterwards, though he did walk her to her room and she knew would have accepted an invitation to enter. She did not make such an invitation, thanking him for a lovely dinner at the door.

When he was gone her thoughts turned immediately to Mulder. Was he in? She ought to let him know she was.

He was fully aware she was in and was still trying to relax from hearing Greg walk away from the room. They weren’t together and it was a good thing she’d had this opportunity to spend time with a man that wasn’t a serial killer or freak of nature or him, he finally acknowledged. He heard her tap on the connecting door.

"Come." He looked up and removed his glasses as he watched her enter the room. "Home so early?" Okay, he couldn’t resist that one.

"Did you eat?"

"Wasn’t hungry. How was your dinner?"

"Okay."

"Just okay?"

"Okay, the earth moved." He looked up startled and she couldn’t resist a chuckle. "It was just dinner and you were invited to join us. Actually it was pretty good, authentic Italian. I thought we ought to check in, I haven’t talked to you since you saw the sites. Greg said the evidence you were sending to DC was paint samples. He didn’t understand what interested you about it."

Mulder shrugged. "Just a hunch."

"Want to share?" She cocked her eyebrow at him. He finally smiled at her and turned to completely face her for the first time since she entered the room.

"Okay." She kicked off her shoes and made herself comfortable on his bed, pulling the pillows out of the covers to prop herself up. He managed to suppress his grin, but truly relaxed for the first time since he’d seen Greg place his hand on her back. She was still his, at least this part of her was.

"The wall behind each victim was lighter in color that the surrounding walls. It was almost like they’d been bleached. The other walls weren’t affected that I could see, so I sent some paint samples in to be analyzed. It’s probably nothing."

"Right, so what do you think?" Her eyes were smiling even though she refused to let her lips join them. He had a theory and he was dying to tell her but hadn’t wanted Greg to hear it.

He looked at her sheepishly, "Okay, I’m thinking radiation. These people were zapped and it vaporized most of the blood in their bodies."

"You can’t vaporize blood inside the vessels. It’s already vapor locked, that’s why it doesn’t leak out unless you’re punctured."

Both were enjoying this give and take, it was familiar and comfortable. The debate continued for a short while before Scully asked, "I don’t see the connection between the victims yet."

"Yeah, they’re within five years of each other, that’s close enough, but different genders, different backgrounds, living and working in different parts of the city and absolutely no feasible cause of death."

"Do you know how far back they checked? I mean high school, or something. These people aren’t that old." She was shuffling through the file he handed her. He’d now joined her on the bed, stretched across the foot while she leaned against the headboard.

"I’ll check in the morning. Or maybe you better, you seem to have a better rapport with the local PD. Maybe I should have joined you for dinner, maybe then I’d have a new friend too." The tone was light but she heard the question.

Instead of answering she yawned. "Bedtime Mulder. I’m exhausted. See you in the morning. What time did you want to leave?"

"Eight or so, go get some breakfast, unless you’ve already made plans?"

Well, he was getting bolder. She smiled and stood to head toward the door. "See you around eight. You should be good and hungry by then." She entered her own room and shut the door behind her; he smiled to himself when he didn’t hear the lock engage. So she wasn’t planning on having any company.

His smiled faded; she wasn’t expecting him either unfortunately. That’s the way it was and the way she wanted it. A gloom settled back over him as the loneliness of the room grew without her in it.

*****

She should be ready by now, he tapped on the connecting door and when there was no answer opened it slightly to look inside. He spotted her immediately, sound asleep in the bed. A smile crossed his face and he entered the room.

She was really out of it; he stood watching her sleep. He shouldn’t be in here, this was private. Oh, he’d seen her sleep before, usually in hospital beds or car seats, but not like this. To his surprise he felt himself becoming aroused.

He stepped closer to the bed though his mind was telling him to get the hell out. "Scully?"

She stirred but did not wake. He stepped closer and found himself sitting on the side of the bed. Instead of waking, she curled around him. This was dumb; his arousal was becoming painful. He had no business in here, not like this. Why had control of his physical body left him? He watched his hand reach out and caress her cheek. "Scully? Wake up."

"Um, Mulder." Her hand was on his thigh and he knew he was going to explode if he didn’t get out of here and soon.

"Scully." He was more insistent this time and she managed to open her eyes. They widened as she saw him above her.

"Mulder? What are you doing in here?" She wasn’t frightened, but curious and slightly intrigued at the sight of him here like this.

"You overslept. I guess I kept you up too late. You need to get ready so we can get to work."

"What time is it?" She really was in no hurry to end this particular conversation for some reason.

"Almost eight."

"Eight?" That woke her the rest of the way. "You should have called me."

"That’s what I’m doing now. But you probably shouldn’t go out like that. Although I don’t think Greg would mind."

"Get out of here and let me get dressed." She was only mildly annoyed. For some reason waking to find him over her hadn’t been at all unpleasant. She found herself wishing he hadn’t mentioned Greg, she hadn’t thought of him. Not with Mulder bending over her. Oh get a grip Dana, you’re just thinking like this because you did have an actual date last night. Maybe you should try it more often, then it won’t affect you so strongly.

She was in a good mood headed in to the department, which bothered him more than he wanted to admit. What he didn’t realize was her mood stemmed more from finding him over her when she woke than any thought of Greg could have. However, sharing that information wasn’t feasible so she kept quiet, but couldn’t keep the smile from continually forming on her face.

By the time they reached the homicide floor Mulder was ready to break something. He turned to Scully as he saw Greg approaching them. "Why don’t you follow up on the background checks and I’ll see if the labs found anything." He turned abruptly and was gone.

She watched him leave with regret, then turned and smiled at Greg. As the door closed behind him Mulder turned and saw the smile and closed his eyes. Shit! Hadn’t he gotten past this last night? She was his only in a business capacity; a beautiful woman like her was always going to be looked at like that. Think about it asshole, every assignment you’ve ever been on there was some man noticing her. Why was this time bothering you so much? Because this time she’s looking back, you idiot.

*****

"Greg? How far back have you tried to find a connection between these victims?" Scully looked up from the file she had been reading.

"Work, church, neighborhood. That kind of thing."

"What about high school?"

"High school? These people are in their early 30’s. That’s decades from high school. Are you serious?"

"Yes, Greg. I am. We need something for Mulder to profile from." Why was he resisting this? It was important. The longer she spent with him the more sure she became of his own inflated opinion of his sex appeal. If he used half the time working on the case that he had on trying to impress her, she and Mulder could already be back in Washington.

Strange, Mulder was every bit as good looking as Greg, well more so if truth be known, but he didn’t come across like God’s gift. In fact, she was pretty sure Mulder wasn’t aware of how physically attractive he was. Maybe that was the difference.

"Can you get me this information?" She was becoming more and more impatient with the unprofessional manner of his work.

"Yeah, sure. I’ll be right back." He was back shortly; "They’re going to email me the high schools the victims attended. Say, where is Mulder anyway?"

"He’s trying to get the information on the samples he sent to Washington. They should have something by now."

"What a waste of time. I’ve heard so many things about that man, I guess I expected . . . I don’t know, more."

She felt herself stiffen, what right did this jerk have to judge Mulder? This man couldn’t tie Mulder’s shoes and he was second-guessing him? Calm down Dana, he doesn’t have a clue what Mulder can do.

They both turned toward the computer as the tune chimed to inform them of an incoming email. "Well, what do you know? Mulder was right again." She didn’t even try to keep the triumph out of her voice. "They all went to the same high school, decades ago."

Greg tried to make light of it, but Scully had her phone out, calling Mulder immediately. "It’s me. You were right, as usual, all three victims went to Central High, graduated between 1980 and 1983."

Mulder didn’t respond, he was still trying to absorb the comment, ‘you were right as usual’? Was she drunk? Being held hostage? Trying to give him some sort of signal?

"Mulder?"

"Yeah, I’m here. Is everything okay?"

"Everything’s fine. I’m going to start on this new information. Any other insights you want to give me?"

He actually pulled the phone from his ear and looked at it. Scully? "Listen, I’ll be there in a few minutes and we can go over it together."

"Good idea. See you then." She broke the connection.

*****

The new information had at least given them a place to start. Scully had spoken with the office at Central High and gotten a list of alumni that lived in the area. They assembled a list of people to be interviewed from Mulder’s profile.

"We've got our work cut out for us Mulder. This is the closest city and a lot of people have moved here."

"We'll get teams to do the legwork." He grinned at her, "So I was right as usual."

"Don't push it."

*****

Mulder looked up to see Greg headed toward him. He seemed a little tense. Where was Scully? Mulder looked around to see if he could have missed her entrance. No, maybe she stopped at the ladies room. Greg proceeded into his office and Mulder’s eyebrow rose.

"Any luck?"

"No."

"Well then, what’s wrong?"

"You know that partner of yours is a real tease."

"What?" He half rose from the chair, what the hell kind of comment was that?

"A real prick tease. I swear - "

"Did you come on to Scully?" He wasn’t sure whether he was more furious at the audacity or amused that Scully had obviously handled the situation.

"Come on? What’s that? We had a good time last night. You said yourself she wasn’t involved with anyone. I thought we could have a nice time while she was in town." But his voice now held just a note of defensiveness.

"A nice time? Which would include you taking advantage of a woman that you barely know?" Whatever Scully had done to put him in his place, Mulder was itching to do more. "Where is Scully anyway?"

"Isn’t she here?" Greg looked around the outer office.

"She left with you." His voice had become lower, more ominous.

Greg missed it, still smarting from her reaction. "After her little tantrum she went off to finish the interviews. She made it plain she didn’t want my company." Greg ran a hand through his hair, still disbelieving that she had rejected him so thoroughly.

"You left her?" Mulder advanced on him now. "You drove off and left her in the field?" His voice was rising.

"She’s a big girl, she can find her way back here." But his voice was becoming very defensive now.

Mulder jerked his cell phone from his jacket and punched the speed dial for Scully’s phone. "The cell phone user you have requested is either away from the phone or out of the service area at this time." He punched the button much like he wanted to punch this asshole standing in front of him.

"Where is she?" His voice was a deep bass now and totally threatening.

"She’s turned off her phone, big deal."

"Scully doesn’t do that." Mulder was close to him now and Greg had the urge to back up, away from him. "Where did you leave her?"

"Look, man, she’ll be walking through that door any minute. Chill out."

"You better pray she does." For the first time Greg was aware that he was actually afraid of this man. Why? Mulder wasn’t bigger than he was; they were both in good shape. But this man would kill him without a second thought, he realized, if anything happened to his partner. Maybe she wasn’t involved with anyone, but he sure as hell was. "Where’s the list you were using?"

"Uh, I think she has it."

Mulder pursed his lips. The city could afford a building like this, and then staffed it with idiots like him? "I’ll get a copy. What was your area?"

Greg told him and Mulder seated himself again in front of the computer. He pulled up their list. "Show me how far you got." Greg leaned over him to study the screen. Mulder tried to control his loathing of the man. He looked him over - Greg didn’t do anything for him, but he supposed women could find him attractive. Scully had, hadn’t she? Until . . . where the hell was she? What was happening? She was good at her job, he knew that, but if she’d been distracted by what had happened with this asshole . . . what had he done?

"Here." Greg pointed to the screen. "There was no answer here either. Man, she was rabid about talking to every person on our list."

"How the hell did you ever make detective?" Without waiting for an answer he left the room to find Greg’s superior.

Chief Sams was understandably livid and Mulder could detect more than a little chagrin though it was unremarked. He immediately called each of the teams for an update and pulled them in. The search changed, focusing on her last known location. This time it was Mulder who briefed the men and led the search. Detective Marcum was placed on desk duty and, Mulder hoped awaited disciplinary action.

Mulder assigned himself the street where the bastard had left her. He emerged from the car and stood for a moment just observing the houses. Come on, Mulder, don’t you see anything that might lead to her? He scanned the street again.

"Agent Mulder? Where do you want to start?" He sighed, nothing. He pointed to the first house on the right side of the street.

He allowed the detective accompanying him to ask the questions, while he observed the inhabitants. After about the fourth house he was ready to explode. She couldn’t have gotten beyond this street, not in the time allotted. Unless something had caused her to move elsewhere. No, don’t start second-guessing yet. He had them checking on taxis already, the SOB had left her with no transportation. She could still easily be here; there were plenty of houses to check.

*****

She pushed her hair back and tucked it behind her ear. Her hand was still shaking from where it had collided with Greg’s face. She shouldn’t have overreacted like that but she’d been completely fed up with the man after only a couple of tries on the list. Then for him to come on to her! She couldn’t believe she actually thought she was having a good time last night. She should have grabbed a bite with Mulder; at least she knew where she stood with him.

That thought hadn’t really lifted her spirits and she shouldn’t have continued the interviews alone, but she was too pissed to allow herself know that.

If she’d been on top of her game she would never had allowed herself to become trapped like she did. This address wasn’t even on their list, but the car had a Central High sticker on it. That’s what had caught her attention. The woman that answered the door looked normal, spoke intelligently, and Scully just missed the fleeting look of panic in her eyes when the term FBI was mentioned.

The woman let her in and appeared quite cordial if slightly nervous, offering coffee or a drink. Maybe that would calm her, she agreed to a glass of water.

Scully waited in the living room and glanced at the awards on the mantle. Cheerleading trophies, pictures, class letters. Her daughter’s awards? Before Scully could investigate the woman was back and handed Scully the tall glass of ice water. She took a drink and then a deep breath to calm herself. She needed to be professional. Scully stepped closer to the fireplace and took another sip. Central High School, 1982. 1982? These were pictures of this woman - Diana Bruszewski. She was the cheerleader in these pictures.

Her eyes lost focus and she shook her head. Oh shit! She turned to look at the woman standing behind her. The woman looked as scared as she felt, but she was in control of situation for now anyway. Scully watched the glass fall from her hand and travel what seemed to be a long distance to the floor where it shattered on the hearth. She grabbed the back of the nearest chair.

"I’m sorry." The woman spoke as Scully lost her battle with gravity and sank to the floor. "I’m sorry."

Scully came to on a hard little bed, no more than a cot really. It wasn’t dark, but the light came from elsewhere. She tried to rise but a wave of dizziness overcame her. Well, it looked like she’d found the killer, or at least someone involved. The woman that had drugged her had gone to high school with the victims. And high school had obviously been important to her if the pictures and awards on the mantel were any indication. Had she been one of those girls that peaked in high school and spent the rest of her life trying to recapture past glories?

Mulder, do you know I’m in trouble? Did Greg go back to the office after their altercation? That what she should have done. In fact she should never have gone out with Greg on these interviews to begin with. He'd insisted and Mulder hadn’t protested. That’s what she’d wanted, for Mulder to protest. How childish could she be? She’d wanted Mulder to be jealous if she was going to be honest about it. Enough! She needed to focus on the current situation. She wasn’t being restrained; maybe she could walk now. She managed to sit up and clutching the wall rose to her feet. She wasn’t going to get far like this.

Using the wall she made her way to the door. Locked, well that wasn’t really a surprise, but the woman hadn’t killed her. How long had she been here? She forced her eyes to focus on her watch - three hours? Well, she had no doubt Mulder was looking for her now.

She was surprised at a tap on the door. Her jailer was knocking? Scully didn’t respond and the woman opened the door. "Are you okay?"

The question rocked Scully. What was going on here? "I need to contact my partner."

"I can’t . . . I’m sorry but I can’t let you do that."

"What’s going on? Why did you drug me?"

"I’m sorry about that. I was so . . ." She sank into the chair near the door. "Why did you come here?"

"We’re looking for information about the deaths of three people."

"But why did you come here?"

"I saw the sticker for Central High on the back of your car."

Diana sighed, "So I gave myself away."

"Why did you do it Diana?"

"I can’t let you go." She sounded regretful.

"So far you haven’t harmed me. I can testify to that on your behalf." Keep her talking; get her on your side Dana. She obviously doesn’t want to hurt you.

"No, I can’t." Her shoulders slumped and she looked even more forlorn.

"Why did you do it Diana?"

"I’ve worked on this for so long. I couldn’t think what I could have missed, what led you to me. I waited years - years!" She shook her head, staring off into space.

Had she stalked these people? "Talk to me Diana. Why these people?"

"They ruined my life. They cursed me."

"Cursed you?" Anything to keep her talking.

"You saw the mantle. I was popular, I was a leader, I had the grades, the boyfriend. They were nothing! They didn’t play sports; they didn’t go to parties. We laughed at them. They had no right to . . . " Her voice trailed off.

"What did they do?" Scully was practically whispering. She wasn’t sure the woman even knew she was still there.

"What right did they have to have such lives? They had no social potential in high school, I had the potential! I should have had their lives. It isn’t right!"

What? What was she talking about? Scully was afraid to ask any questions now, but she seemed to be on a roll.

"They were nothing. They should have always been nothing, but look what they did! After high school they . . . they blossomed. They got married. They found people they loved. They barely even dated in high school. Okay, the people they married weren’t gorgeous or rich, but they stayed married. They had children! I’ve been divorced three times. Three! My life has been crap ever since I graduated, but they - they got everything! Don’t you see? They had my life and I ended up with theirs! They took my life! So I studied, I learned what I needed to know. It was easy after I . . . I didn’t need a soul living the life they left me with. And I learned how to do it. I left no evidence. It should have been perfect."

"Are you . . . you’re not talking about witchcraft?" She had definitely spent too much time with Mulder. But the woman didn’t even flinch.

"No, I studied wiccans and witchcraft, but it was too positive. They do white magic, earth friendly spells. That’s not what I wanted. These people needed to be punished - don’t you see? I didn’t want to help them. No, witchcraft wasn’t at all what I had always thought it was. I had to keep searching. I found it, what I was looking for. I gave up my soul for it but it worked. I was able to punish them. Now you’ve found me and the others will have to go unpunished." She stood then and moved toward the door.

"Diana, please let me out of here. I can get you some help."

Diana didn’t even turn to look at her, "I’m truly sorry about you. I don’t want to hurt you but you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time." She let herself out the door.

"Diana!" There was no response. Dana knew somehow that she was never going to see the woman again.

*****

No cab had come to pick her up, the bus drivers had been shown her photograph and had not seen her. It was as though she had vanished off the face of the earth. Mulder’s thoughts on Detective Marcum had moved from murder to slow torture. And he was getting more creative by the moment.

The chief of police finally forced a shift change though he had no jurisdiction over Mulder. Chief Sams quite reasonably pointed out that he needed rest and the local PD could continue the search. Mulder was barely civil when he ‘responded’. Unfortunately the chief was right about one thing, he was dead on his feet. He wasn’t willing to go back to the motel, but he could catch a nap in the car.

An hour later he jerked awake with her name on his lips. When he got his breath back he glanced at his watch. She’d been missing fifteen hours now. He couldn’t even be certain she was still . . . no. He was going to find her.

He started the car and headed back to the street where Marcum had abandoned her. He was missing something and that wasn’t something he could afford. He parked at the end of the street. There were almost no lights in the houses at this time of night, only the street lights.

There were three houses where they’d been unable to get a response. There still appeared to be no activity at any of the houses. It would be daylight soon. He could watch all three houses from here, that’s what he would do.


There was still no activity at 6 a.m. No lights had been turned on; no one had picked up the newspaper that had been delivered to two of the houses. Fine, he was going to do some trespassing. He approached the first house and made his way around to the back. He let himself in and carefully began examining the dwelling. There was no one home, and nothing to indicate any connection to Scully.

His frustration was growing exponentially. He headed toward the second house. There was a car parked in front of this one, but that didn’t mean anyone was home, damnit. He was past the car when he stopped and turned back. What? What was it about the car? He looked inside, nothing. But something had made him turn back - oh shit. There on the bumper was a faded parking pass - to Central High.

This address hadn’t been on the interview list. Adrenaline hit his bloodstream full force. He approached the front door and looked in the closest window. No activity. He used his tools to let himself in, not bothering to go around to the back this time.


The smell caught his attention first. He cupped his hand over his nose and mouth and moved toward the back of the house, his gun in his free hand.

The smell was worse back here. He opened the door to what had to be the larger bedroom and gagged. On the bed was a corpse in an advanced state of decay, wearing a cheerleader uniform. Damn! At least she was too tall to be Scully. He shut the door and moved back to the front of the house. He opened the front door and after recovering his breath called 911.

Once assured the police and an ambulance were on the way he made his way back inside, a handkerchief over most of his face now. He had to make sure Scully wasn’t in there. As he passed it again, the mantle caught his attention - pictures and awards from Central. 1982? Had Scully seen this? Had something drawn her to this house? Where the hell was she?

He checked every room and was headed for the basement when he heard the sirens. He headed back outside and saw that the chief himself was on the scene.

"We’ve got a body in here. My guess is she's the owner. I’d say she’s been dead for about a week, but she’s tied into the case somehow."

The chief nodded and followed Mulder back into the room with the body. Neither stayed long. Neighbors were gathering when they came back out to give the photographer and crime scene crew room to work.

One of the women approached them. "Is Ms. Bruszewski all right?"

"Is that the woman that lives here?" She nodded. "When did you last see her?"

"Last night. She got something from her shed out back. I spoke but I guess she didn’t hear me."

"Would you know who to contact for an identification?"

"I don’t . . . I’m not sure. Me probably, I’m a nurse. She didn’t date. I think she was divorced, never mentioned any family. I guess I could . . . "

"This body has been dead for several days."

"Then it can’t be her. I know I saw Diana last night."

The chief nodded, "In that case could we ask you to take a look at the body, see if you’ve ever seen the woman before?"

She nodded reluctantly and he took her arm to lead her to the gurney that had been loaded with the body. He looked at her one more time; "I’ll be okay." At her nod he opened the bag and exposed the woman’s face.

She gasped and stepped back. Mulder moved forward and took her arm. "It’s her! That’s Diana. What did they do to her?"

"That’s the woman you saw last night?" She nodded obviously shaken. "Are you going to be okay?"

"I can’t . . . what would cause a body to decompose like that?"

"We’re going to need a complete autopsy." The chief had covered the body again.

"We need to find Scully first." Mulder headed back inside. After thanking the woman once again, the chief followed him.

"I’ve had my people search the whole house. If they had found anything we’d know."

Mulder didn’t bother to acknowledge him, heading for the basement door off the kitchen, the one place he hadn’t checked himself.

"Agent Mulder? We were just down there. It’s empty."

"I’ll check anyway." He continued down the stairs. She’d been missing nearly 18 hours now. He slammed his hand against the shelves in frustration. What had happened to her? She’d been here, he could feel it. She’d seen that sticker on the car just like he had. Now the woman who lived here was dead. He leaned against the shelf and felt it shift slightly.

He stepped back, looking at it carefully, then shoved against it and it moved. It was on rollers! A door, a hidden door behind the shelves. "Scully! Scully can you hear me?" Nothing. "Get an ambulance!" This was shouted up the stairs and he heard footsteps move toward the kitchen. He stepped back and then his foot connected with the wood and he felt satisfaction as it gave and swung open. Scully! He knelt beside her, his hand trembling slightly as he felt for her pulse at her throat. Yes! He closed his eyes a second in relief. Where was the ambulance?

"Mulder?"

"Yeah Scully. You’re gonna be okay."

"Thirsty." He turned toward the door as he heard the people headed toward them.

"Get some water down here. Now!" He didn’t release her hand. "An ambulance is on the way. Just relax."

"She drugged me. Diana, is she here?"

"She’s dead Scully. Her body’s already been removed. You were kind of hidden down here." Someone had handed him a glass of water; he didn’t bother to turn to see who.

"Diana’s dead?" She tried to sit up and he had his arm around her. "It had to be suicide." He held the glass to her lips, only allowing her small sips.

"The body was so decomposed I’m not sure an autopsy’s going to be a lot of help." He didn’t attempt to move away from her, he had the excuse of supporting her and she wasn’t trying to pull away.

"Decomposed? She could only have been dead a few hours. She talked with me last night. She was the killer and she’d planned to kill more. We interrupted her."

"We can talk about this later Scully. Just rest for now." He could hear the commotion of more people arriving. She nodded and leaned against him. His arm tightened around her and those mutilation fantasies involving Marcum reentered his mind.

*****

Scully refused to be admitted to the hospital. The drug, whatever it was, seemed to be gone from her system. Diana had not harmed her in any other way. Mulder waited right outside of her cubicle in ER while she dressed. He stiffened as he saw Greg appear and head in his direction.

"I need to see her." He was decidedly uneasy around this Mulder guy, but he needed to talk to her.

Mulder gave the barest of nods and accompanied him into her area. That surprised the local man but he couldn’t think of any excuse to ask him to leave. Besides, Mulder wouldn’t leave her anyway. He had his hand on Dana, standing beside and slightly over her. Greg had the impression that he’d plunge a dagger into his heart if he got too close.

He stuttered through an apology. He could have done better if Mulder hadn’t been there, but he did the best he could. She was certainly more gracious than Mulder was, though there was a coldness in her manner that showed him how badly he had screwed up in her opinion. He made his retreat as quickly as possible.

"Mulder? You can lean back a little now. He’s gone."

"What do you mean?"

"You know exactly what I mean. I do not need you to hover over me. I’m fine."

"I'm being too territorial?"

"Well . . . he was trying to apologize."

"For nearly getting you killed?"

"Okay, but he didn't try to kill me. I thought you were going to go for his throat." The words were warning, but her eyes were twinkling.

"I'd thought about it, while you were missing. It might have been good for the city ultimately." He was trying to lighten up but he had ignored her suggestion to move away from her.

She put her hand on his arm and stepped down from the gurney, his other arm went around her automatically to steady her. "Mulder? I'm okay, really."

He closed his eyes and sighed, then withdrew his arm and stepped back, like she wanted. Like she always wanted.

"Mulder, I didn't say you had to do that. A little territoriality might be okay." At his startled look she grinned and took his arm again to walk outside. Together.