By Suzanne Bickerstaffe and "Melody" (Ecksphile@aol.com, harmne@kans.com)
August, 1997
Rating: R for language, violence, adult subjects, some
other/other sex and general weirdness
Category: S, Scullyangst/Muldertorture
Spoilers: Anything up through Memento Mori but not much beyond
Summary: A clerk-typist tells the story of her experiences
with Mulder and Scully, on loan to the VCU to investigate
a serial murder case involving witchcraft and past horrors.
Archive: Yes please, anywhere, anytime - with our thanks
Disclaimer: The characters of Mulder, Scully, Skinner and Blevins
belong to Chris Carter, Fox Television, and the actors who give
them life. We borrow and embelish, our only profit being the
thrill of creation and the joy of playing with their heads. Chandra, the
characters you don't recognize and the plot belong solely to
the authors. May be forwarded, reprinted, archived, etc., as long
as the story remains precisely the same, with our names attached
as authors, and no money changes hands.
Chapter One
J Edgar Hoover Building Washington D.C. Wednesday, March 26, 1997
I met the legend today.
Funny, after two years of working as a clerk here without laying eyes on him I
was beginning to think he was
just a character the guys made up to scare the newbies with. And they'd
certainly scared me. For the first six months I reacted like a frightened rabbit
if I was caught in a strange place after dark, thinking I saw shadows within
I should have known not to take a position in this department. But it was a
promotion, a step up in pay and grade, and it had seemed like a good idea at the
time. I promised myself I'd give it 30 days, and if I couldn't settle into it by
the end of that time, I'd ask to step down. Blevins agreed I could. And after
all, a clerk is not an important position. More like a glorified gopher, still a
step away from a secretary. How bad could it be?
Well, in the Violent Crimes division I soon learned. The first week I think I
threw up a dozen times. The agents here are a wild and woolly bunch,
foul-mouthed at the best
of times. They talked over the most horrifying details of cases with seeming
unconcern, sometimes even while they were
eating. The first time I caught sight of some crime scene
photos left lying on a desk I didn't even make it to the restroom. I quickly
learned to keep my trash can handy and a supply of plastic liners in my desk
drawer. Peppermint candy helped, too. Looking back, it seemed as if I were being
subjected to some
kind of initiation, a hazing of sorts. Testing the mettle of the newbie, to see
if I had what it takes to work in this division. But after two weeks I found I'd
become...well, inured... to the grisly sights. I guess I passed muster - I'm
still here. Now I really am a glorified gopher, sent to fetch everything from
coffee supplies to evidence bags of severed body parts. Although the latter
still give me the willies, they no longer send me running for the
nearest recepticle.
During the past two years I'd heard a seemingly endless stream of stories about
this legendary man. More stories than seemed creditable for a mere mortal who'd
supposedly only been
in the division for a few years. A young man, fresh out of college, who surely
would have been more than a little wet behind the ears. So after a while I began
to take the stories with a grain of salt. The stories seemed to circulate in
waves, too; nothing for a while, then for a few weeks that's all the agents
seemed to talk about. Then it would die off until something stirred them up
again. Once
in a while one of the agents would claim to have seen him in the building with
his partner, whom they referred to as the Ice Queen. Or they even claimed to
have spoken to him. I could never understand why they seemed both awed and
contemptuous at the
same time. The one agent I dared to ask snarled at me, snapping that the man had
gone insane. They didn't know why he was still even with the Bureau, but he had
ended up in the basement and supposedly chased UFOs now. And ghosts.
Maybe that's why they refer to him as "Spooky".
There's been a serial murderer at large that has been
making the entire division miserable for the past seven months.
The only thing the victims seem to have in common is their age,
all of them being around forty-five. This guy - and at this point they're not
even sure it's a man - apparently changes his MO
enough to make it hard to track him or even tie him to the different murders. He
gets around, too. When things were getting bad,
as usual, the Spooky stories started up again. Ben Johnson was
the first one to suggest maybe they ought to ask for his input. The first
overwhelming response was derisive hooting, but after a few more weeks the tides
Then, this morning.... This morning when I got to work there was a strange man
standing at my desk.
He scared the shit out of me. The offices were mostly dark, only the required
"Exit" lights on. I'd unlocked the door and swung it open, and there was this
shadowy figure.... I think I was halfway back down the hall when he stepped
through the door into the light.
I don't remember moving, actually. By the time I could think again, I was just
leaning against the wall at the corner, my heart in my throat beating a mile a
minute, and looking back to see him standing there. He looked startled. He was
probably wondering what the hell was wrong with me.
He looked awfully young, tall and kind of lanky, with dark hair that was
sticking up in front like he'd run his fingers through it. His face was smooth
and slightly olive-colored, attractively put together. Seen through the
wire-rimmed glasses he wore, his eyes looked brown, or maybe hazel; it was hard
to tell in the dim light. His suit was probably a designer, judging from the
color and the quality of the fabric, but it hung just a little loosely on his
body, and was slightly rumpled. His tie was loud, both in color and pattern, a
garment no designer would willingly claim.
He'd called out to me, I suppose, when I'd bolted. Now his voice was finally
registering in my brain, soft and apologetic.
"I'm sorry I scared you. I guess I should have turned the overhead lights on,
but I wasn't expecting anyone for another half
an hour," he was saying. He stayed in the doorway, though, as
if he knew it would frighten me if he came toward me.
"How did you get in there?" I demanded. My legs felt like jelly, but at least my
voice was firm.
"My key still fits. I guess Blevins never got around to changing the locks."
He sounded serious, but his lips twisted up a little like he was joking.
"I'm Mulder."
Special Agent Fox Mulder. The legend. *THIS* was Spooky? Surely not. He had his
ID in his hand, though, offering it to me. I walked back toward the door,
stopping just out of reach - not that
it would have done much good if he'd had nefarious intentions, I
could see he wore a gun. But the distance nonetheless made me
feel safer. I glanced down at the proferred ID and then back up at his face.
Seen closer, I could tell he wasn't as young as I'd first assumed. Oh, his face
was unlined and his hair had no gray, but
his eyes gave him away. His eyes were old, ancient almost, and slightly sad.
They reminded me of the uncle I used to visit in the
VA hospital, the one who'd been in a POW camp for several years.
How could such a young man have such eyes? They certainly
didn't match the rest of him.
"You have pretty fast reflexes. You were gone before I could even say anything,"
he was saying as he put away his ID.
"Adrenalin," I explained, still embarrassed. "They told me you were coming down
today, but since the door was locked I wasn't expecting anyone to be in the
office. Guess I made a great first impression, huh." He grinned and humor lit up
his eyes, changing
his whole face. I felt safe now, and offered my hand. "I'm Chandra Jones, the
clerk here for the VCISU. If there's anything you need while you're down here,
just ask me."
"Thanks, I'll remember that," he said, taking my hand briefly. His grip was warm
and firm. "But I'll warn you ahead of time that
you probably won't want to have anything to do with me. I have sort of a
reputation, you see."
I heard myself chattering away, "Oh, I know. I've heard all about you, but I've
got to say I don't believe everything I've heard. Besides, some of the things
I've heard don't make any sense at
"Oh?" The humor was still in his eyes and his head tilted
to the side just a little, as though he hung on my every word.
I felt a flush rising to my cheeks. What made me say that?
I groaned inwardly, but I was committed now. "Um... I've heard,
for example, that most people think you've gone crazy.... But
when they hit a wall on an investigation, they go to you for help. That doesn't
make sense."
Agent Mulder was smiling, but it was wry, twisted. "And
you don't understand how they can value my skills and ridicule me
at the same time?" I nodded, and he continued. "They appreciate
my results, but my methods are sometimes... unexplainable.
People scorn what they don't understand." He sighed, and turned
to go back inside the offices. "And anyone who gets too close to
me will get tarred with the same brush," he added over his shoulder
as I followed him. I got the definite impression he was warning me
to keep my distance.
He found the table where the case files were spread out as soon as I turned on
the overhead lights, and was instantly absorbed
by them. I went about my normal morning routine, making coffee
and trying to have everything necessary on hand for the day. I took Agent Mulder
a cup of coffee and reminded him to take off his coat, hanging it up for him
when he absentmindedly dropped it over a chair.
I was at the computer when Blevins came in.
"Well, Mulder, I see you finally saw fit to grace us with your presence."
"Yeah, I was out of town when I got word that you missed
me, Blevins. I came as soon as I could." Mulder's voice was off, somehow. The
tone was cool, even though he spoke in a relaxed
manner. I got the definite impression there was some unpleasant history here.
"Chasing little green men again?"
"No, as a matter of fact it was a coven of witches practicing human
sacrifice. And aliens are gray, not green."
"So, Mulder, what do you think of this mess?"
Johnson and Roberts came in just then. Having my own
work to do, I missed bits and pieces of the conversation, but I got the gist of
it. Mulder reminded Blevins he'd just arrived, and typically Blevins had a few
choice words ready about wasting time. Mulder more or less ignored him, and
eventually Blevins huffed off to his own office on the other side of the
Mulder sat down at the table alone, systematically reading through each file.
Then he took the crime scene photos out and laid them out across the table,
walking around it over and over, studying them. He occasionally rearranged a few
of them. The other agents watched him furtively, and I could hear a few muttered
remarks I thought were totally uncalled for. Apparently someone figured Mulder
was putting on a show to impress them, although how what he was doing could be
considered grandstanding was beyond me. Not that I had
any idea what he was actually doing, but it was clear he was totally absorbed in
it, and not merely putting on a show for the other occupants now drifting into
the room. He spoke only once, to ask
me for a magnifying glass. He thanked me absently and returned to
his photos.
I was trying to watch Mulder and transcribe some field notes onto the computer
when another newcomer entered the room. This
one was a woman - rare in these offices - and a small one at that, even shorter
than my own 5'4". Her face was almost china-doll
pretty, but she held it in a serious expression that could almost be considered
haughty. She gave the impression of being cool to the core, but it seemed to me
that her vibrant coloring and the fire in her eyes told an entirely different
story. She paused at my desk.
"Hello," she said in a low, pleasant voice. "I'm looking for Agent Mulder. I
was told he was here. I'm his partner, Dana Scully."
Because of the way the room is laid out - this whole section used to be a bomb
shelter - the table where Agent Mulder sat was visible to me but not to her.
"Good morning, Agent Scully. Agent Mulder is just over there." I pointed her in
the right direction and watched her walk over to him. She didn't pause in the
least when someone was in the way, as if she expected them to move...which
they did. Hmm, yes - I could see the regal bearing and the cool manner, but did
these people really see this woman as an ice
queen? Somehow I couldn't agree.
Mulder looked up as she neared him, and his face cleared
of the lines of concentration long enough for him to smile. "Hey, Scully, I was
hoping you'd get here soon. I have something I need
you to look at and tell me if I'm seeing things...." There was a derisive squawk
from a group of agents nearby. Casting a dismissive glance at them, Agent Scully
stepped up to her partner's shoulder
to look at the photos he was holding, and their voices dropped to an almost
conspiritorial level. In moments their heads were bent close together as they
examined the photos, Mulder pointing at details
with the tip of his fountain pen. After a few minutes, Scully took
the photos from him to look at more closely, then she handed them back.
"You're right, Mulder. I would have missed it, but you're right."
Ben Johnson's curiosity finally got the better of him, and he joined the
partners at the table. Ben was an anomaly in this office,
a nice guy who didn't feel the need to appear as hard as nails, or as ruthless
as the killers he pursued. He was the one person who had
some empathy for Mulder. Well, perhaps empathy's taking it too
far... at least he valued Mulder for his contributions and gave him
credit for his unorthodox methods, even if he didn't understand them himself.
"Got something, Mulder?"
Mulder turned to Johnson abruptly. He seemed startled,
as if he'd forgotten anyone else but his partner was in the room.
He recovered quickly, however. "Possibly. I think seven of these
twelve murders were committed by the same person. The others -
maybe they were, maybe they weren't."
Jerry Walsh detached himself from a little group of agents
who had been observing the proceedings. He was one of Mulder's
most virulent detractors in the department, and I had a feeling there
was about to be a scene. "You smug, self-righteous son of a bitch!
You come in here with your know-it-all attitude and spend ten minutes looking
over a bunch of pictures, and you have the balls to act like you've got the
whole fucking thing figured out!"
Mulder's face froze for an instant, then was replaced by a
mask of cool blandness. He shrugged. "Sorry. He asked."
Ben glowered at Walsh. "Can it, Jerry. If our track record
on this case weren't so fucking awful, he wouldn't even be here. At
least hear him out, for Christ's sake. Okay Mulder, what makes you
think that?"
"Let's just say that I find it more than coincidental that seven of these Scene
of the Crime photos have the same personal
memento in the frame. Now, as to whether it was already in the
possession of the victims, or whether it was left by the killer, I
can't say. By any chance, has anyone checked these out?"
Johnson sighed and lowered himself into a chair. "That's just
one of the many problems with this case. These murders were
committed in Virginia, DC, Maryland, and Delaware, with no two in
the same town. They were all investigated by the local authorities twelve
different departments in all, none of which came up with
anything they thought was unusual enough to mention, and no leads.
By the time someone saw a possible connection in the murder method
and handed it over to us... well, the crime scenes had long since
been cleaned up. Makes things a little more difficult to check out.
Okay, what 'personal memento' are we talking about here?"
"This photograph." Mulder pointed with the tip of his pen to
each of the seven photos in turn. "Admittedly, they're a little fuzzy
in several of these shots and will need to be enlarged. The frames
are all different, but it appears that at least it could be the same picture in
Johnson picked up the magnifying glass and peered at the
SOC photos. "You're right - each of these has some sort of framed
group picture - young adults, it looks like. So, outside of the
victims' ages, this could be the first substantive clue we have
linking the victims and tying the murders together."
Mulder nodded.
"They look like they're all wearing robes of some sort,"
murmured Scully, looking over Johnson's shoulder at the photos.
"Maybe they were in some sort of a college or church choir together."
"It's possible," her partner replied. "There are some other objects in the
background I'd like to take a closer look at when we
get these enlarged. It might tell us something more."
"So, what's the plan now?" Johnson asked. "Blevins read us
the riot act yesterday and said you'd be taking over the direction of
this case." At Mulder's expression of surprise, he grinned. "You
know how it is. This case has been on the books too long. Evidently Skinner
chewed Blevins' ass about it, then Blevins came down here
and chewed ours."
So that's why everyone had been in such a foul mood
yesterday. I had seen them filing into the conference room like they
were going to their own executions. They had emerged an hour later stony-faced.
That's when Blevins told me that Mulder would be in to
look at the case files.... So he had carried through on the ultimate threat - to
let Spooky run the show. I couldn't help but feel he was putting Agent Mulder in
a terrible position. Surely Blevins had to
know that the guys in VCU already either hated or feared him, or
were green with envy for his talents and track record. Now Blevins
was forcing Mulder to lead this team of hostile colleagues? Talk
about your no-win situations. He was being set up to fail, as all
the others had before him. And if the legendary agent *did* manage
to succeed it would only earn him more jealousy and resentment
from those he was forced to work with.
You need to understand something - I have no love for Blevins myself. He's moody
and inconsistent, and his management style features pitting one team against
another in an effort to make everyone work harder, better, faster.
Unfortunately, all it accomplishes is to sink morale to an all-time low. With
the kind of work this department does, stress levels are already high. Adding
more pressure is not the way to get the best out of your employees, I wouldn't
think. But what do I know - I'm only a clerk.
I glanced across the office to see Blevins leaning against a desk,
eavesdropping, his arms crossed in front of his chest and a self-satisfied smirk
on his face. I wondered what he thought of the 'ass-chewing' comment.
I looked back at Mulder. Everything about him, from his body language to the
expression on his face, was controlled, but something told me he was only too
aware of the position Blevins
had placed him in. And he didn't like it. Not one bit. I saw Agent Scully's hand
drift to his shoulder and just rest there. He seemed to pull it together then,
taking a deep breath and letting it out.
He nodded to her, just a subtle bob of his head, then turned his attention to
the agents who had joined them at the table.
"All right. We need a team to contact the families of those seven victims
and ask what they know about the group portrait - if it had been in the
victim's possession, or was left at the murder scene by the killer. If it
belonged to the victim, we need to know who the people in it might be, and
their connection with the victim. We also need to find out if the other five
victims had this portrait among their belongings. If not, then chances are
they aren't connected with this particular series of murders, and their case
files can be returned to local law enforcement for individual follow-up.
Johnson, you know the men; why don't you divide up the teams and make the
<Deftly done, Agent Mulder,> I thought. <They dumped the authority on you - use
it. Put the ball back in the home court.> I saw Johnson smile and nod, Mulder's
gesture not lost on him. It wasn't lost on Blevins, either. I think he was
worried Mulder would steal his show. He strode purposefully toward the group
at the table.
"Well, I was hoping it wouldn't be a complete was of time and government money
bringing you in here, Mulder. You heard Agent Mulder, people! Let's get
cracking!" The other agents dispersed, leaving Mulder and Scully standing
uncomfortably with Blevins until the Section Chief was called away to the
I figured with the 'get cracking' comment he must have
meant me, too, so I turned back to pounding the keyboard once more, my eyes
fixed on the terminal screen. I was startled a few minutes later, then, when
Agent Mulder cleared his throat next to me.
"Ms. Jones, would you run these down to the Photo Lab when you get a chance?
I've marked the areas to be enlarged and by how much on each of the SOC
I smiled up at him warmly. "I'd be happy to, Agent Mulder. Want a rush order on
He shook his head. "I just called. They said they wouldn't be able to get to
them for several hours, maybe not even today."
"Well, I have a friend who works there - Larry might be able
to 'expedite' things a little," I whispered conspiratorially. I rose and took
the manilla envelope. I think Mulder's the only one who
has ever bothered to conceal this kind of photograph from view by putting them
in an envelope or folder. Whether it was deference to
my sensibilities or out of respect to the victims, I have no idea.
It really didn't matter. Either way, it was refreshingly thoughtful.
"Thank you, Ms. Jones. It seems I came to the right
person to get this done. I should have guessed - after all, I know
how fast you can move." He grinned at me.
I blushed, remembering my panicked flight from him earlier,
but returned his good-natured grin. "Please - call me Chandra."
"Thanks, Chandra," he smiled. "And I'm just plain Mulder."
He gave me another one of those quirky grins, then turned away.
Mulder may be a lot of things, but I doubt 'plain' is one of them. God, but the
man smelled good! I've always had a very keen sense of smell, and Mulder smells
great. It isn't a cologne or after-shave scent; this didn't come from any
bottle. No, this was
just the way clean smells, with a faint spicyness I suspected was
just 'him'.
"Agent Mulder!" Blevins called him before he'd gone two
steps. "Richmond PD was just on the phone. They have a new body
that looks like it might fit into our serial case. You know what you're looking
for, so you pull the trip. You and Scully get down there and meet a Lieutenant
Beaulieu at the crime scene. Here's
the address." He handed Scully a scrap of paper.
"...And Jones," he looked past Mulder to me, "when you're finished running Agent
Mulder's little errand, I have a special
project for you." He smiled at me. I suspect it was much the same smile a
predator gives the rabbit that's about to become dinner. Wonderful.
"Yes, sir." With a final, furtive smile for Mulder, I headed for the Photo Lab.
End of Section One
by Suzanne Bickerstaffe and "Melody"
(Ecksphile@aol.com, harmne@kans.com)
August, 1997
Disclaimers and acknowledgements in Chapter One
Chapter Two
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Wednesday, March 26
After Blevins dropped his little bomb on me - a project
with an impossible deadline - I worked on it steadily for the rest
of the day. The only times I broke from the damned files was
when I got a cup of coffee, and once to go to the restroom. I
called home at four, and called Allie at five-thirty to see if she'd
tape that night's psychology lecture for me. By seven-thirty I
had at least made a start on nearly half of the files, but I was
starting to see double, so I decided to go home. I would get
them finished by the deadline, no matter how late I had to stay
the following night.
I yawned all the way across the parking garage to my
car even though my mind was busy rehashing the events of the
day. I went through the motions of unlocking my car and
starting the trip home, but I couldn't stop thinking about Agents
Mulder and Scully. They seem to mesh so perfectly. I have to
admit, I can see where rumors of their being lovers would be
easy to believe.... But I don't think they are. I don't know, I
just think it would be somehow more obvious if they were. But
there *is* something there that just doesn't exist between most
partners. They each seem to know what the other is thinking -
which is funny, when they seem to be so completely opposite
from one another. Agent Scully is so grounded, so practical and,
I don't know, scientific maybe. Agent Mulder is more, for lack of a better word,
intuitive. I get the feeling he listens to his gut more than his brain at times.
A horn honking behind me startled me out of my reverie,
and I realized I was sitting at a green light, nearly halfway home.
I'd been driving on auto-pilot. I was just lucky there was little traffic. I
kept my attention on the road the rest of the way home.
The late spring twilight was fading and it was starting to get dark. By some
miracle, there was an empty parking space near
the door to my building, and I grabbed it. It was the closest I had
been able to park in two weeks. Now if it had been raining, I
wouldn't have found a parking spot in the same zipcode. I normally don't mind
climbing the three flights of steps to my fourth floor apartment, but that night
they seemed especially steep. I could hear Mrs. Stone's TV as I passed her door
on the second floor - the poor
woman must be nearly deaf - and smell the bouquet of a mouth-
watering marinara wafting under the Petrocelli's door on the third.
As I reached the top of the next flight I could hear the music
drifting from my door, and felt the accustomed catch in my heartbeat.
It was so nice to have someone to come home to!
As usual, he didn't hear me come in. Sven, the man of my
dreams, is in the mostly-bare living area, painting. He's an artist.
I know, we've all heard about artists. God knows I've heard enough
from my father on the subject. But Sven is different. He's actually very good -
he makes a pretty decent living from his paintings
already, and his reputation is still growing.
He was at his tall easel, his back to the door. Sven is a big man - 6'4" and
well-muscled - so I couldn't see what he was working
on. All I could see was his golden hair brushing the shoulders of
his favorite paint-stained denim shirt. He was so immersed in his
work he didn't hear me kick off my shoes or toss my purse behind
a chair. I was able to walk right up behind him and slip my arms
around his waist before he realized I was there.
As always, Sven responded immediately to my touch.
Although he didn't jump - a trick I'd like to learn - he took a quick breath,
then tried to turn in my arms and hug me. And as always,
he forgot he had a paintbrush in his hand. I've learned to elude his grasp until
he remembers and puts it down. On my salary, I can't
afford to lose any more clothes to paint splotches.
Grinning, Sven dropped the brush into a jar of solvent and reached for the snaps
on his shirt. He slowly popped each snap
and stripped off the shirt, dropping it over his stool, his eyes
never leaving my face. I knew he was taking it off because it had
paint on it, but that didn't mean I appreciated the show any less.
Sven is gorgeous. He looks like some Viking war god, but his touch
as he took me in his arms was gentle. I snuggled into his embrace
and lifted my face for his kiss.
"I miss you when you are late, ~alskare~," he whispered against my lips.
Mmm, right! He was concentrating on his work so hard I could have been here for
hours before he noticed me.... "How is
this one coming?" I asked, peeking over his shoulder at the canvas on the easel.
His paintings remind me of Monet a little; they're somehow restful and I can
look at them for hours and still notice new things. Perhaps that's one of the
reasons he's becoming
so popular in the hectic DC area - people find them soothing.
"It's almost finished," he answered, turning to cast a critical eye over the
painting. It was a scene from a walled garden with a pond, slightly
out-of-focus, but still so detailed you could almost
see the breeze sway the flowers, and the goldfish swimming.
My stomach growled, reminding me it had been a long time since lunch. "Did you
eat yet?"
"I had Chinese delivered after you called. Why don't you change clothes
while I heat some of it up for you?"
Sven headed for the kitchen area while I backtracked to pick up my shoes and
purse, then went into the bedroom. Our apartment
is an open-plan, basically a rectangle with a wall across one end that creates
the bedroom, bathroom, and the single huge closet. The kitchen and dining areas
are along the opposite side and are all open to the main room, which at this
point is still nearly bare. So far we have only a dinette set and a sofa for
furniture in there. The lamps and my stereo and TV are still sitting on the
wooden crates Sven's things were shipped from Sweden in. But the main feature of
room was the sole advantage to being on the top-floor walk-up of
a converted apartment building - huge skylights that let in both the daylight
and the stars. Sven fell in love with the space when we chose the apartment
together last year. It's a lot bigger that I would ever have chosen on my own,
but I have to admit - the openness is growing on me.
The bedroom is proportionately large, fortunately, and not dwarfed by Sven's
king-size four-poster bed. I, on the other hand, feel like a midget when I crawl
into it alone. Thankfully that's not often. I absolutely love the huge closet -
what woman wouldn't? but I won't go into it without the light on. Okay, I admit
it. I'm easily spooked.
Putting my shoes and purse away, I rummaged around for
one of the loose jumpsuits I like to wear around the house and carried it out to
the bed. Sven came through the door just as I was slipping off my jacket.
"Need any help changing?" he asked, grinning. Oh, those blue, blue eyes!
"I don't think so," I answered teasingly, turning my back on him. "I've been
dressing myself since I was a kid."
His arms came around me, his hands going unerringly to the buttons of my blouse.
"Ah, but I am wanting to *un*dress you...." His voice was low and rippling with
laughter. This was a game he always enjoyed playing. I relaxed, leaning back
into Sven's chest,
and watched his hands quickly opening my blouse. The skirt
followed quickly, then my bra. Sven's hands cupped me softly. The contrast of
his pale skin against mine never fails to fascinate me. I think it does him,
too. I could see him watching in the mirror over the dresser.
Sven's more than a full head taller than I am, so I was practically framed by
his fairness. I inherited my coloring almost entirely from my East Indian
mother. I never knew her, she died
when I was born, but my father saw to it that I have pictures of her. She was
small and very dark, with an elfin face and liquid black eyes. I have her darker
skin and her black hair, but I have my father's light eyes. Cat's eyes, Sven
calls them, and he says they're amber. I don't know - they look plain brown to
As if he knew what I was thinking, Sven turned me to face him. He doesn't like
it when I start looking for my faults. He never sees the extra five pounds that
keep creeping up on me, or
that my makeup has turned shiny, or the myriad other things I find
to criticize. I felt the tug as he pulled the band from my braid, loosening it
and running his fingers through the crinkled strands.
My hair, unbound, reaches past my waist and is the one thing we
agree on. It's my vanity.
Maybe I should have felt silly standing here in just my pantyhose and hair like
some bizarre Lady Godiva, but Sven didn't give me time to think about it. Lost
in the feel of his hands on my skin, I barely realized the hose had disappeared
until he pulled me against him again.
"You're beautiful, Chandra," he murmered against my lips,
between leading kisses. "When are you going to let me paint you nude?"
"You don't paint portraits," I hedged. It was an old argument. Even the thought
of some stranger - or worse, someone I know -
seeing a nude painting of me gives me the willies, but I know
someday Sven will manage to talk me into it. Maybe.
"I want to paint you," he insisted softly. "No one but me will ever see it." His
hands slid down over my hips, pulling me closer. I could feel him growing hard
and it mades my knees weak. He kissed
me again, his tongue sliding in deeply, and I groaned. I didn't want
to argue about this anymore, even in jest.... I wanted *him*. But he withdrew,
breaking the kiss.
"Okay, suppose I agree..." It wouldn't hurt me to just talk about it for a
minute, would it? "How would you want me to pose?"
"Curled up on the bed, like you're waiting for your lover." His answer was
prompt. Obviously he'd given this some thought. Was
that good or bad?
"Show me."
Lifting me easily, he carried me to the bed and began to
arrange me on the turned-down covers. He pulled the pillows up
behind me, and in the process of spreading my hair across them
a few strands fell over my breast. He brushed them back. My
nipple contracted and grew hard at the inadvertant touch, and his
eyes darkened.... My stomach gave up growling as heat began to
pool low in my belly. The stir-fry was probably getting cold again,
but I no longer felt that type of hunger.
His hands trailed over my body, then lingered on my thighs
as he arranged my legs. I let my eyes close. So he wanted me
to pose as if I were waiting for my lover? Okay - I focused on his touch, and
let myself relive what it is like to make love with him.
Let myself feel that hunger.... Then I opened my eyes and looked
at him.
"Like this?" I whispered.
He had to clear his throat before he answered in a voice noticeably deeper than
before, "~Ja~, something like that."
I got the sudden urge to play with fire. I have no idea what came over me -
maybe it was a result of the many stresses of the
day - but all at once I wanted to play the tease and see if I could
make Sven lose some of his control. Sven was normally the most
gentle, considerate of lovers, always taking care he didn't hurt me.
But that night I wanted him wild.
Could I do it? Make him lose control?
"Am I waiting for a new lover, or an old?" I asked. Sven
shook his head as if to say 'what's the difference?' and I continued. "If I wait
for a new lover, I would want to tempt him." I rearranged myself to what I hoped
was a more provocative pose; thrusting my
breasts forward through the curtain of my hair, wetting my lips
and letting my eyes half-close. Sven's eyes darkened and I felt
a thrill. I was also becoming aroused... "If it's a lover of long standing,
perhaps I feel anticipation - knowing what's to come."
I smiled dreamily and let one hand stroke my breast absently,
making the nipple peak. The heat from Sven's gaze brought the
other to attention and I stroked it, too.
I didn't know if this would drive Sven wild, but it was sure doing a number on
"Of course, if my lover is making me wait for him too long,
I might start without him...." I squeezed my thighs together restlessly, rubbing
my hand over my abdomen as if I was fighting
myself. Then I let my legs fall open and my fingers slid down.
I felt my own wetness and bit back a groan, then suddenly Sven's
had caught my wrist. He was leaning over me now, his eyes bright
with desire, a faintly amused twist on his lips.
"And if I am the lover you wait for? How would you wait for me?" he growled. He
was close enough to reach and I took advantage.
"I wouldn't wait long," I murmered. "I would come find you."
As I finished speaking I closed my fingers over the bulge in his
jeans, stroking firmly. His eyes widened in surprise, then closed as
he pushed into my hand.
"~Du reta mig~," he growled, pulling my hand away from his arousal. I hid a
smile; although I only understand a few words of Swedish, I love it when Sven
lapses. It means I've got him rattled, something I can rarely do.
"English, Sven," I reminded him.
"I said, you tease me. Why do you tease?" "Did you like watching me?" I
asked. "Yes."
"That's why. I wanted to - excite you - by doing something different." I
grinned up at him coyly. "Did it work?"
Sven responded by climbing on top of me. Grinning, he
pinned me to the mattress with his weight and caught my wrists, pulling my hands
over my head. "You are bad, ~sma|ena~."
I wiggled and managed to get my legs apart, settling his weight where I wanted
it the most. I arched my hips, rubbing against him, arousing myself even more in
the process. His hands tightened and his pelvis ground into the soft flesh
between my legs for a moment before he regained some control. Then his eyes
"Only with me, ~kvinna~," he demanded, "~Du tillhor mig.~"
"Only with you," I promised. There was no time for more. Sven's mouth descended
on mine with a ferocious hunger and it was
all I could do just to breathe.... When he released my wrists his hands were
everywhere - clenched in my hair to hold me for his kiss, caressing my breast,
behind my back to arch me closer, clasping my knee to pull my leg over his hip.
Then he was sheathing himself in me, and I could no longer think.
I think I created a monster.
Some long time later I lay exhausted on Sven's chest, trying to catch my breath.
His fingers tangled in my hair as he stroked my back. He was murmering to me,
mostly in Swedish I think, but I was slipping into sleep and didn't catch most
of it.
"~Jag alskar dig~," he whispered.
I caught that. It means 'I love you...'
End of Chapter Two
by "Melody", and Suzanne Bickerstaffe harmne@kans.com, Ecksphile@aol.com
August, 1997
Disclaimers and acknowledgements in Chapter One
Chapter Three
The Apartment
Early Morning, Thursday
March 27, 1997
I woke to the scent of coffee and stretched, smiling to myself at the feel of
the sheets against my bare skin. Pushing a tangle of hair off my face, I opened
my eyes and looked around. Sven was sitting on the windowsill sipping from a
steaming cup.
Another one sat on the nightstand for me - yet another reason I love this man.
"I have decided you are right, Chandra," he said suddenly.
"I will wait to paint you nude." He paused, turning his head to grin at me.
"When I am older perhaps you will not have such an effect.
I don't think I would survive many nights like last night."
I stiffled a giggle and gave him my best 'innocent' look. "But what if I improve
with age?"
A look of shock passed over Sven's face, then he burst into laughter. He
muttered something toward the ceiling that I didn't understand. It sounded
suspiciously like a prayer, and I finally succumbed to the giggles.
Sven joined me in the bed for a good morning kiss and a cuddle. It was a brief
one, though, because my alarm clock went
off five minutes later and he kicked me out of bed to go take my shower. "You
can't run late today, ~raring~. I have to get ready this morning, too. I've got
a meeting with the owner of a gallery."
I promised to hurry, and did - not difficult because the hot water heater had
decided to act up again and I got mostly cold
water. If the landlord didn't fix it soon I was going to put his
name and fingerprints in the crime computer database! By the
time I dashed back out, shivering and dripping, Sven was in the kitchen again,
refilling his coffee. I headed for the toaster.
I remembered Blevin's project as I pushed my bagel in.
"Sven, I'll probably have to work late again tonight."
"As late as you did last night?"
I wrinkled my nose. "Unless I manage a miracle, a lot
later. Blevins gave me another one of his special projects to do,
and it has to be done by Friday at five."
He grunted. "What did you do to make him angry this time?"
"What makes you think I did *anything*?" Sven didn't reply, just raised his
eyebrows at me. Okay, so he knows me
pretty well. "I'm not really sure this time. I was civil to Agent Mulder, that's
the only thing I can think of."
"And who is this Mulder?"
"He's an agent who's taking over a case for the section." "Why is being
civil to him a crime to Blevins?"
Why indeed? "That's the really hard part to explain - and to understand. Mulder
used to work in the VCU under Blevins, you
see. He was a profiler, and from what I've heard he was the best. But now he's
kind of an outcast, which is hard to figure, because he's the nicest guy...." I
paused, trying to put together all I've picked up about Mulder and Blevins' past
from the gossip going
around in the office into some sort of coherent form. I didn't need to explain
Blevins to Sven, he's heard all about Blevins before.
Like I said, he's not my favorite person by a long stretch. "I don't know all of
the story, but from what I've heard it all comes down
to the fact that Mulder quit profiling and walked away from the
VCU. There's a lot of resentment left in the department even now over that; I
don't think Blevins will ever forgive him. The other profilers are envious of
his abilities and his record, but they seem to... I don't know, it's like they
want to be him, but at the same time they hate him. They make fun of him all the
time, even to his face."
"And Blevins encourages this," Sven added matter-of-factly.
"Right. Indirectly, of course."
"And of course, my ~sma|ena~ won't play the game their way. You were polite
to him." He shook his head, then said, "~Nu har du skitit I det bla
"Translation, please?"
Sven screwed up his face in concentration, then looked a little sheepish. "It
sounds better in Swedish. Translated, it says 'now you have shit in the blue
Now *that* was picturesque! I started laughing and couldn't stop until I was out
of breath. Gasping and wiping my eyes, I
consoled a now-frowning Sven. "I don't think our American saying
makes any more sense - we say 'the shit's going to hit the fan'."
The puzzled look on his face as he digested that sent me off into giggles again,
and I had to abandon any idea of actually eating any breakfast. Time was
passing, and I had to get ready for work.
An hour later I was almost ready to leave. It had been close Sven tends to walk
around starkers after he gets out of the shower,
and he's a little distracting that way.... One last check in the mirror showed
my makeup was in the right places. If my
broomstick skirt wasn't exactly 'professional' attire, well, it was comfortable.
That was more important to me, especially if this day turned out to be as long
as I feared it would. Stepping into a pair
of comfortable low-heeled shoes, I reached for my purse and started
for the door. Sven waylaid me, though, to say goodbye.
"Try not to be *too* nice to this Agent Mulder today, ~alskare~, or I might have
to be jealous. Besides, you don't want
to give that ~djavel~ Blevins any more satisfaction."
"Agent Mulder was nice to me first," I argued playfully. "Of course, it
doesn't hurt that he's extremely good looking, too."
Sven frowned hard at me, and I laughed and kissed him to
assure him I was only teasing. Mollified, he gave me a hug.
"Be good today, Chandra!" he admonished. "And if you can,
call me later."
"I'll try. Good luck with your meeting!"
A last quick kiss and I was out the door.
- - - - -
J Edgar Hoover Building
VCU Section office
8 A.M.
I looked down hopelessly at the newly-increased stack of
thick manilla folders on my desk. This was a new low, even for Blevins. The new
folders contained the interview notes from what
must have been twenty cases, all of them handwritten in the
psychotic scrawls of the VCU staff. My mission - whether or not
I chose to accept it - was to get them *all* neatly typed, proofed, entered into
the computer, and returned to Blevins by Friday at five. All the work I had
managed to do the previous day barely made a
dent. Three weeks wouldn't have been enough time, not with the
bizarre abbreviations and unique shorthand these guys used. It
was crystal clear - Blevins was handing me the opportunity to fail
on a silver platter.
Was all this really just because I'd been nice to Mulder?
Was Blevins actually that petty? Then I remembered the look
he shot me as I ran down to the Photo Lab for Agent Mulder. Uncomfortably,
Mulder's words came back to me - that anyone
caught too close to him would be tarred with the same brush.
Well, shit! If being polite, getting a cup of coffee and running a simple errand
for him was enough to piss Blevins off, what was
next? Public floggings for wishing Mulder a nice day? It looked
like I was going to have to phone Allie and ask her to tape
the lecture from my class that night - again. Disgustedly, I opened the next
file and got to work.
I don't know how much later it was that I looked over to see
a man's hand placing a cup of coffee on my desk. My eyes flicked
up, lighting on Agent Mulder's face.
"You haven't moved from your desk since I came in two hours ago. Looks like you
have your work cut out for you," he observed
with a lop-sided smile. "I did warn you."
I pushed my keyboard drawer away from me and reached for
the cup. There was cream and sugar in it... how did he know how
I liked my coffee? "Yeah, you did. I didn't take you seriously, though. Blame my
naivete - I just find it hard to believe that people can be so petty."
"You'd be surprised. Or maybe you wouldn't be. As you
saw yesterday, no one exactly rolled out the red carpet for Scully
and me."
"True," I sighed. "Well, Blevins is going to be the one with the surprise in
store this time, because I'm going to finish this by his deadline if I have
to work around the clock to do it."
"Looks like you may have to."
"It'll be worth it, just to beat him at his own game." I grinned up at him.
"Thanks for the coffee, Agent Mulder."
"It's just Mulder, remember? You're welcome. And I'm
I shrugged. "Don't be, it's not your fault. I was never on his Favorite Employee
list anyway."
"Really? Why not? From what I've seen you're a hard
worker, very organized and efficient."
"Yeah, well... those traits he probably likes. But, among other things, he
thinks I have an 'attitude' and that I 'don't know
my place'."
Mulder muffled a laugh. "Ah, well, I *knew* there was a
reason you and I got along. Look, I won't hold you up. Hang in
there, Chandra."
I smiled . "Thanks, Mulder, I will. Count on it." I watched as he greeted his
partner at the door. Together, they headed for
the empty desks at the far end of the office, spread out their files, and got to
work. Sighing, I did the same.
- - -
A couple of hours later I had done what I could with about
half of the files. Now I had to go around to each agent and try to
get them to translate the hieroglyphics I hadn't been able to make
out. Ben Johnson was the worst. I mean, I liked the guy personally, but it was
obvious he'd flunked penmanship all through school. He
also had the annoying habit of using initials for everything. Half
the time, even *he* couldn't remember what they stood for. How he managed to
testify in court based on what he wrote is beyond me.
I took his files and what I had typed - mostly blanks connected by guesses on my
part - and searched for him. He and a cluster of
others stood around Mulder's desk. I could hear the raised voices
long before I got close.
"You've got paranormal on the brain, Mulder," Jerry Walsh accused heatedly.
"What makes you think this is a coven, for
Christ's sake? They could be the Youth Choir from St. Cecelia's Church, for all
you know."
"Not unless St. Cecelia's is heavy into witchcraft," Mulder replied equably. He
sighed and took out the photograph taken
from the Richmond crime scene, the only copy of the group portrait they'd
managed to get possession of. "Look at some of these
things in the background. Somehow I don't think Sr. Mary Ignatius would approve,
do you?"
There was a sprinkling of guffaws from the group, quieted quickly by Walsh's
furious expression. His temper was fierce, and
no one wanted to see him lose it again. We'd just replaced the furniture from
the last time.
"What the hell are you talking about? What things in the background?"
Mulder took a steadying breath and held up the photograph. "Look, Jerry...This
is an altar ..."
"If you ever set foot inside one it might shock you to
discover that a *lot* of churches have altars, Agent Mulder," Walsh replied
"With black candles?" Mulder calmly asked.
" *What* black candles? Those things might be candles, or
they might not. They might be black, or they might not. Maybe
they're purple Advent candles. But from this picture, you'll never know. Christ,
they could be anything! Shadows, anything!"
"All right - then what about this?" persisted Mulder, pointing at another
"It's a damn bowl."
Mulder shook his head. "It's a scrying dish, used in magic rites."
"You're full of shit, Mulder," Walsh argued. "That could be anything, too."
"And the pentagram?"
"*What* pentagram?"
"Okay, it's pretty fuzzy," Mulder admitted. "But just... back... here - see
"The only thing fuzzy around here is your brain." Walsh
stood with his hands clenched into fists, obviously spoiling for a fight.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. "I thought there had to
be thirteen in a coven," commented Dan Kravitz blandly. Dan
was the intellectual of the section, well-read on a wide variety of topics. He
reminded me a little of Mulder, but he didn't make the unexplainable intuitive
leaps Mulder did that made the latter truly brilliant. "This photograph shows
only twelve people."
Mulder shrugged. "Someone had to use the camera, right?"
Ben cleared his throat. "You sure you're not simply being influenced by your
last case, Mulder? That witchcraft murder case
was pretty intense, from what I heard. Don't you think you might be reading in
things that aren't there?"
"What, do you think I'm so traumatized by my past that I can
no longer keep my cases straight? That 'Spooky' has gone off the
rails again? Is that what you all think?" Mulder shot back, with the first sign
of anger I had seen from him. "Sorry to disappoint you, gentlemen, but it takes
a hell of a lot more than that to unbalance
me these days." He paused to stare them down with eyes gone
dark and hard as diamonds, then continued, "I want this photograph enlarged and
enhanced. We know this portrait is our link to the killer. Computer enhancement
of the background will clearly show
the details I've pointed out that are consistent with witchcraft.
The evidence is there. Now, how are we coming with contacting
the relatives of the victims about the photograph?"
I waited until Ben had given his report, then drew him aside
to ask about the problems in the old case files. As I suspected, he couldn't
remember what most of the initials represented, and
generally had a harder time with his handwriting than I did. I gave him the
file, incanting the magic words, "Blevins wants this right away", and he took it
back to his desk to mull over. I glanced up
to see Mulder watching me.
"How's it g - "
"How's it g - "
He grinned. I laughed and motioned for him to go first. "It's coming along.
Although I'm beginning to think that all the subjects
in that photograph buried the events surrounding it pretty deeply.
We haven't found any of the family members yet who knows anything
about it. If I could just get everyone here in the unit to put aside their
personal prejudices about me for a minute, we might get somewhere." He made a
visible effort to relax, not entirely successfully. "How about you?"
I sighed. "It's slow work." I leaned over, casting a curious eye over Mulder's
case notes. They were written in a small, tight, unusual hand and scattered with
abbreviations or symbols that
resembled - well, nothing I was familiar with, in any case.
"Hopefully I won't be asked to transcribe *your* notes next. That would just
about finish me off."
He grinned. "I don't even use these myself, to tell you the truth." He tapped
his temple. "Photographic memory. But back
when I worked the VCU I had to keep notes to 'comply with
procedure' .... Now, it's just a habit. Scully uses them sometimes when she
writes up the official reports, but that's about all. I
don't need them. Actually, I think it just made the Suits feel more secure if I
wrote something down. Not that they didn't trust me,
you understand." His hazel eyes sparkled with mischief.
I grinned back at him. "Oh, I understand completely. By the way, where is Agent
"Doing the autopsy on the last victim." He looked at his watch. "Right about now
I would guess she's on her way here." As
if on cue, Scully walked into the office.
"Cause of death?" he inquired before she even got to the
She grimaced. "Hello to you, too, Mulder. Same as the
others - exsanguination. The wounds, the actual damage inflicted
on the body is different, as it has been in each of the other
murders, but ultimately it was the loss of blood that killed him. The blood is
apparently collected and taken away by the killer. There
was evidence of hair loss on the limbs that puzzled me, until I did
a skin scraping and found remains of adhesive - the type used for
duct tape to be precise. I think the killer taped something around
the wounds to collect the blood."
So that's why the crime scene shots had shown so little
blood. My stomach lurched, and I was almost relieved when Blevins bellowed for
me. Almost.
- - -
I was just coming out of Blevins office with three more case files when I head
the shout.
"Hey, Sp-..., Mulder!"
Mulder and Agent Scully looked up to see Dan Kravitz
loping up to them. "I think I may have a lead," he said excitedly.
Standing, Mulder took the piece of paper Dan held out as
he went on in a rush, "I was working on an intersect point for the victims, and
I think I've finally got one. It seems that five of the subjects lived in or
near Milford, Delaware approximately twenty-
three years ago. That would put them at the right age for college.
So I checked out area colleges and there are only two. *Were*
only two, I should say, because the extension campus of the state university
there closed down several years ago. The other college
is St. Vincent's, a small Catholic liberal arts school. So I did a little
checking with the relatives of the victims, and surprise, surprise. Three of the
victims went to the State University in
Milford and two went to St. Vincent's. It isn't much, but it does
put five of them in the right place at the right time to have known each other."
Mulder nodded. "Nice work, Dan. Does anyone else have anything to add to this?"
"That fits with the victim I've been working on," said Ben Johnson. "Sarah
Jane Hargitay also attended St. Vincent's College."
"All right. Ideas on how to proceed?" Mulder asked the assembled agents.
"The Milford campus of State once had an enrollment of
over five thousand students, plus it's now defunct. And you know
what it's like trying to get any response from a state agency...."
Dan grimaced. "I think it would be faster to contact St. Vincent's first. It's
small and still in existence, so information about the victims that attended
there might be more forthcoming."
"Good point. All right. Dan, you contact St. Vincent's. Get all the information
you can on the subjects we know went there, and
see if you can place any of the others there as well. Get the names
of the Alumni Secretaries for, say, the classes of 1972 through 1976. If there's
a single group of people that will know what happened on campus twenty-three
years ago, it will be them. We'll split the list of Secretaries up between us
and contact each one of them to ask
for more specific information on the victims - their interests, what clubs they
may have belonged to, who they hung out with. See if
the Secretaries have had any contact recently with the victims, or perhaps more
importantly, if anyone *else* has shown any interest
in contacting them. It's possible our killer tracked his targets
down this same way we are. In the meantime, those of you working
up victims we haven't placed in Milford yet, see if you can put them there at
that intersect point. So far we have only half our victims placed. I'd feel
better if we could get them all there. Walsh, we can't leave the State
University thread untouched. Why don't you
start working your way through the wonders of the DSU
bureaucracy and see what you can dig up for the now-defunct
Milford campus?"
"That's a shit assignment and you know it, Mulder," Walsh glowered at him.
Mulder looked cool, remote. "But it *is* a valid assignment, nonetheless, Agent
Walsh. Do it." The heavy emphasis on the
last two words were in a tone that brooked no argument. Whether
Jerry liked it or not, Mulder was the senior agent and the one in charge on this
The agents scattered for their desks - all except for Walsh, who childishly
sauntered back to his as slowly and insolently as humanly possible. The effort
was wasted on Mulder, who had
immediately gone back to reading notes someone had handed him.
I parked myself back at my desk without enthusiasm. Eleven files
down, and I didn't even want to count how many there were to go.
I *would* finish them before the deadline!
Half an hour later an impromptu meeting got started when several agents
converged on Mulder to report some progress on the
case, and the others came over, too. I really shouldn't have taken
the time to listen in, but at this point I was hooked. It was fascinating to
watch Mulder work, and some of the guys were
beginning to respond to how he ran the case. Maybe this would
set a good example for Blevins - not that Blevins was likely to
learn from it. I took my time getting a cup of coffee and returning
to my desk, but my attention was focused on what was going on at
the conference table in the center of the room.
"Okay, does anyone else have anything new to add?" Mulder
was asking mildly.
It seemed that Jerry - predictably, in my opinion - hadn't gotten to first base
with the Education Department in Delaware.
But most of the others had made progress. All of the Alumni Secretaries had been
contacted, and two more of the victims had
been placed at St. Vincent's in the right time period. Interestingly, none of
the victims had graduated from either of the colleges, and
all had left school at the end of the fall semester in 1974, never to return.
None of them had ever shown the slightest interest in attending reunions or any
other alumni activities. It seemed to
me that they had all made a conscious effort to avoid any contact
with the school. Or perhaps with the memories of what had gone
on there.... I smiled to myself. Maybe the psych classes were starting to sink
in, after all. They're an odd complement to my Software Design and Systems
Analysis courses, but useful in
this job.
"Agent Mulder, I got a name," Charlie Haddox offered. "The Alumni Secretary for
the Class of '76 told me that a man called her up a couple of months ago,
demanding to know if she had given out his name or address to anyone. Said he
very upset - paranoid even. He gave his name - Vincent McNulty only because he
had to, so she could look through their inquiry records and tell him if she had
given it out to anyone," he explained. "But she said even getting that from him
was like pulling teeth. She didn't have many clear memories of him from when
they had been at the school together, but did tell me that he hadn't graduated
with his class and he failed to return to the college after the Christmas break
of 1974."
"That seems to fit." Mulder frowned. "That name hasn't surfaced before, which
means he might be one of the survivors in
the photograph. And if so, he might be the next target.... Fine work, Charlie.
Did the Secretary get an address, even an old one?
We need to locate this guy, fast," he observed. "The killer seems
to be escalating. Look at the dates of the murders. The first one was seven
months ago, the next one six weeks after that, then a
four week interval, then three.... At this point there's a kill every week or
less. The Richmond victim's time of death was placed at
four days ago, so we have only a few days, at best, before the killer
hits again. We have find this McNulty."
"The Secretary asked for a new address for the man, but McNulty point-blank
refused to give her any other information. She did try." Haddox grinned. "It
seems that they have a fund drive coming up and she wanted to get his address to
hit him up for a contribution. But the guy hung up on her." He paused, taking in
the disappointment on the agents' faces. "*But*... she happened
to have caller ID on her phone and she wrote down his number. She normally would
have dropped it, she said, but it ticked her off that
the guy was so rude. She got on one of those Internet Phone
books and looked up the number and got his address, intending
to send him a fundraiser letter just to piss him off. He lives in Naylor,
Maryland. I called the Sheriff's Department down there and connfirmed that the
address is current - 413 Bluffs Road, Naylor." He beamed triumphantly.
"Thank God for modern technology and persistent women.
We should see if that lady wants to work for us," Mulder said lightly. There was
a rumble of laughter around the table that
sounded wonderful after all the hostility of the day. "Great work, Charlie."
Agent Scully suddenly had a thought, her brow puckering.
"You didn't call this McNulty, did you, Agent Haddox?"
Charlie shook his head. "No, ma'am. The guy sounds -
excuse the expression - spooked. I was afraid he'd bolt."
Mulder looked at his watch. "Look, it's close to four now, and we haven't
stopped all day. Why don't you guys take a break, starting now. Get some dinner,
relax a little, and be back here
by, say, eight. Meanwhile, Scully and I will run down to Naylor and see what
McNulty has to say for himself. That sound okay by you, partner?"
Agent Scully nodded, a small smile curling the corners of her mouth. She looked
tired to me - exhausted in fact - but she seemed to accept Mulder's suggestion
happily enough. Maybe she'd grab a
nap on the way down.
Mulder stopped by my desk on the way out. "You going to
be leaving on time tonight?"
"Not a hope in hell, Agent Mulder," I answered a lot more cheerfully than I
"Then maybe I'll see you when we get back."
"I think that's a distinct possibility. Good luck"
"Thanks." His long strides carried him over to where Scully waited at the door,
and then they were gone.
I watched enviously as the tired VCU agents filed out through the doorway in
twos and threes, in search of a decent meal and some time away from the office.
For me, dinner would be some of the unidentifiable crud from the cafeteria,
choked down in a hurry at my desk. Sighing, I pulled the next file from the
stack and flipped it open.
End of Chapter Three.
By Suzanne Bickerstaffe and "Melody" (Ecksphile@aol.com, harmne@kans.com)
August, 1997
Disclaimers and acknowledgements in Chapter One. And
just a reminder - this *is* rated R for language and adult subjects.
Chapter Four
J Edgar Hoover Building VCU Section Office Thursday, March 27
7:48 P.M.
With the guys out of the office I got a lot more accomplished, especially after
Blevins left on the dot of five thirty. He had interrupted me at least half a
dozen times that day, usually for things he didn't need me for
in the first place. It was beginning to look as if he wanted to make sure I
wouldn't finish this damned project on time.
Or maybe I was just in a crappy mood. If I were to have the project done by his
deadline of five the next day, I was going to have to put in some very late
hours. Which meant no
decent dinner, no class and worst of all, no Sven. He'd probably have been
asleep hours before I got home. At least the stack of files I had finished was
significantly taller than the ones I still had to do. That was the good news.
The bad news was that I had purposedly left the most difficult ones for last.
Probably a strategic error, as I thought about it now in retrospect.
I picked up the styrofoam plate of what had euphemisticly been labelled macaroni
and cheese in the cafeteria. Shuddering with revulsion, I dropped the glutinous
mess into the trash.
"Looks better than what I had for dinner."
If I hadn't been so tired I'm sure I would have jumped higher. As it was, my
reaction was enough to elict a chuckle from Agent Mulder.
"You *really* ought to consider making the switch to decaffeinated," he teased,
perching himself on the corner of
my desk.
"Not on your life, it's the only thing keeping me going," I replied wryly. "How
was your trip? And where's Agent
A dark shadow crossed his face and the light went out
of his eyes, making them seem even older at that moment than
I had yet seen them. "I dropped her off at home. She's... been feeling a bit
under the weather lately. Probably some bug."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I hope she gets better soon."
"So do I," he said bleakly. I watched as he studied the floor, his face grim.
True, I had pegged him as a brooder, but his reaction to his partner's virus was
much more extreme than
I would have expected. Unless they were more than partners...
or unless it was more than a virus.... I remembered her earlier exhaustion and
wondered if I'd brought something up I should
have left alone.
"How was your trip?" I repeated softly, in an effort to change the subject.
"Interesting - very interesting," he said in a much different tone. "And
very productive. At least now I think we know who we're looking for."
"That's wonderful news!"
He nodded and looked at his watch. "Anyone else
here yet?"
"Charlie and Dan poked their heads in about twenty minutes ago, but took off
when they saw you weren't back yet.
It's still a few minutes to eight. Don't worry - they'll be here," I assured
him. "They have their faults, but Blevins runs a pretty
tight ship where punctuality's concerned. Can I get you some
coffee? It's fresh."
"Don't get up, I'll get it. Is it safe to pour one for you? I won't have to peel
you off the ceiling, will I?" His lips twisted in
a smile, and I felt a warm sensation starting in my toes and
travelling all the way up to my cheeks.
Don't get me wrong, I'm totally, madly, deeply in love
with Sven. But somehow Mulder knew how to turn it on. Or
maybe it was unconscious on his part, I don't know. I did know
I was having some pretty carnal thoughts about the man.
"Don't worry - it would take rocket fuel at this point."
"Do you have to work these kinds of hours often?" he
asked, handing me a mug.
"Often? No," I replied truthfully. "Just when Blevins has a
bug up his-" I caught myself just in time - I was really going to
have to watch my mouth around Agent Mulder. He was so easy
to talk to it was hard to remember that he *was* a senior agent.
"Just when Blevins has something to get out in a hurry. Maybe
every six weeks or so. Or if there's a night meeting for some
reason and I have to be here to take notes."
"Still, that can put a cramp in your social life," he said, resuming his perch
on my desk.
"Well, less in my social life than academic, actually," I replied. "I attend
night classes - when I can. I'm three-quarters through a degree program in
Software and Systems Design."
Mulder's eyes widened in surprise, but before we could discuss it further, the
other agents began to swarm in. He went over and set up a mini recorder/player
on the conference table, then sat patiently waiting for everyone to be seated.
"Thanks for coming back," he began. "I was concerned
that I would be calling you back here for nothing, if Mr. McNulty had opted not
to speak to us. As it was, it took nearly half an hour for us to gain his trust
enough to allow us to tape the interview. Due mostly to patience and persistence
on the part
of Agent Scully, I might add. It took a good ten minutes just
to talk our way through his front door." Mulder paused as
there were chuckles around the table. I guess they'd all had similar experiences
at one time or another. "But patience and persistence paid off, gentlemen. I
believe we now know who
we're looking for, and why."
He paused again to let the rumbles of surprise and satisfaction die down. "I'm
going to ask you to listen to this tape all the way through without
interruption. Take notes if you
want. Then I'll fill you in on some things that aren't on the tape, and we'll
listen again, stopping at the important points and discussing them. Are we in
agreement?" I was surprised to
see even Jerry nodding.
"Good. As I said, after ten minutes of assurances we
finally got in the door. Vincent McNulty is forty four years of age, divorced
for about ten years, with no children. He is selfdescribed as a loner, with no
church or other affiliations. He surfs the Internet and reads for recreation.
His choice of
reading material is best described as mostly war or spy novels
- Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, and so on. Interestingly,
although he has an extensive library of best sellers, there is a noticeable
absence of best-selling authors such as Stephen
King - books which deal with the supernatural or the occult."
I saw that Jerry Walsh's look of triumph was noted by Mulder,
but all he did was smile slightly. "Okay, I think that's all the background you
I felt a frisson of excitement as Mulder pressed the
start button. Glancing at the wall clock, I decided it was worth the time away
from Blevins' project to listen to the tape of the interview.
<<Now, there's nothing to worry about, Mr. McNulty.>>
Agent Scully's voice was low, reassuring, almost as if she was talking to a
small frightened child. <<Your statement is entirely voluntary. If at any time
you want us to pause the tape, you just tell us, all right?>>
<<Yeah... yeah, I guess so. Okay if I smoke?>>
<<It's your home, Mr. McNulty. You can do whatever
you please.>>
I heard several sharp clicks. He evidently had some
problems getting his cigarette lighted. McNulty's voice was unexpectedly
high-pitched - more from fear and nerves, I
suspected, than because it was his normal tone.
<<Let's start with your association with St. Vincent's College.>>
There was a few seconds' pause. <<What do you
want to know?>> The voice was guarded, suspicious.
<<You were a member of the Class of 1976, is that
correct? ....Mr. McNulty, it would help us out if you'd answer verbally. The
tape can't see you nod.>> Scully's soft
explanation took the possible sting of sarcasm out of the
<<Sorry. Yeah... yeah, that's right.>>
<<How long were you a student at the college?>> <<About - about two and a half
years, I guess.>>
<<And why did you not graduate with the rest of your classmates?>>
There was a much longer pause. <<I-I just left, that's all. It just wasn't the
place for me, you know? That's all I need to say about it.>>
<<All right, we'll leave that for the time being.>> Scully said smoothly. <<Did
you eventually finish your degree?>>
<<I took some time off, just bummin' around. Then I
went to work, and finished my degree in night school.>>
I thought of my own class, the one I was missing. I
hoped that Allie's recorder was working. Her notes were harder to decipher than
the VCU guys'.
<<Now, I understand, Mr. McNulty, that several weeks
ago you contacted the Alumni Secretary for your class.>>
<<How the hell did you find out about that?>> His tone
was sharp, accusing. I heard the clicks of his cigarette lighter again. No
wonder Agent Scully wasn't feeling well - she had inhaled enough second-hand
smoke to make anyone sick.
<<Mr. McNulty, we're here to help you.>>
<<Yeah, right.>> A bitter laugh. <<Like anyone can help me.>>
Mulder's voice was next. <<I understand you were a classmate of Sarah Jane
Hargitay. ...Mr McNulty?>
<<Mulder, I think he's going to pass out.... Mr. McNulty, put your head between
your knees and take some slow, deep breaths....>>> There was the sound of
movement, evidently
Agent Scully administering first aid. There was nothing on the tape for a couple
of minutes, just the sound of Scully ministering to her patient. Then -
<<She's dead. Sarah's dead.>>
<<Yes, Mr. McNulty, we know. Did you know a Gary Franciscus? Greg Lubinski?
Larry Powers?>>
<<Yes.>> It came out as a hoarse whisper.
<<Do you know why we're asking you about these
<<They're dead. They're all dead. Murdered.>>
<<That's right, Mr. McNulty. They were all murdered.
Now do you want to tell us why you contacted your class
Alumni Secretary?>>
There were several more sharp clicks. <<Mr.
McNulty, it might be better if you didn't smoke right now.
You're already feeling pretty lightheaded,>> Agent Scully suggested.
<<Look, I gotta do this my way, okay?>> His voice
was rough, angry. There was a long pause, several clicks
and then McNulty spoke again, tense, halting. <<I-I heard
about Greg. He was the first one, the first I knew about,
anyway. He used to live not far from here, in Brandywine.>>
<<Did you keep in contact with your friends after
you left school?>>
<<No! Shit, no! No, I bumped into Greg by accident
at a mall a couple of years ago. We talked for a few minutes, then went our
separate ways. I never saw or spoke to him
again. Then I read about Sarah Jane in the paper. Then
Gary - there was something on the TV news about him, I
guess because he had been important, a big success. That
was three people I knew, all murdered in four months. I-I
began to get nervous.>>
<<Do you know of any reason why someone would
want all of your classmates dead, Mr. McNulty? ...Mr.
<<No! Fuck, no! J-just bad luck, I guess. In the
wrong place at the wrong time, I dunno....>>
It was unconvincing, even to me. There was another
<<Then why did you contact the Alumni Secretary?>>
<<I... I don't know. Maybe I panicked, especially
after I heard about Larry. Maybe it just seemed like too much
of a fucking coincidence. I just wanted to make sure no one
had my address, that's all.... Wait - wait a minute! What's
he doing?>>
Mulder's voice came from a distance. <<Just
looking at your books, Mr. McNulty. Kind of a hobby of
mine. Very impressive - I'd say you have all the titles from
the New York Times Best Seller List for the past ten years. Except.... That's
funny. No Stephen King, no Dean R.
Koontz. Not interested in the occult, Mr McNulty? Not
interested in witchcraft?>>
<<Mulder! He's - >>
There was a crash and the tape was obviously
paused at this point. I shivered, in spite of the heat of all those warm bodies
in the room.
<<Feeling better now, Mr. McNulty?> It was Agent Scully again.
<<Yeah.>> The voice was weak. There was another long pause. <<You know, don't
End of Chapter Four
By "Melody", and Suzanne Bickerstaffe (harmne@kans.com, ecksphile@aol.com)
August 1997
Disclaimers and acknowledgements in Chapter One.
A reminder - this is rated R for language and adult subject matter.
Chapter Five
VCU Office
Thursday, March 27
8:45 PM
Tape Recording of Interview between
Vincent McNulty and Special Agents
Mulder and Scully
Mulder's voice was soothing, sympathetic. <<Tell us, Vinnie. Tell us so we can
help you.>>
McNulty's voice sounded almost stunned,
overwhelmed by the power of his memories.<<...We were
just kids. Just stupid fuckin' kids. We didn't know what we were getting into -
not most of us, anyway. Gary, he
was the one. He's the one that said it would be a real trip.>> A bitter laugh
again, but shaky this time. <<A real trip, that's what he said. Oh, God, we
didn't know.... We didn't know
how it would end up, what would happen!>> His voice broke
and there was the sound of harsh sobbing. The tape was
paused again....
<<Do you feel like you can continue now, Mr.
McNulty? ...Let the record show that the subject nodded. ....Take a few minutes
to compose yourself, if you need to.>>
<<Sorry.... Yeah. Yeah, I wanna get this all out now. I've kept it inside... for
so many years. It's time... maybe even too late....>>
<<All right, Mr. McNulty. Suppose you start out with what went on at St.
<<What didn't?...>> He sighed heavily, and the clicks
of his cigarette lighter were heard again. <<It - it started.... Gary struck up
a friendship with me, I don't know why. I mean,
I was a loner, even back then. By today's standards I guess I would have been
what's called a nerd. My first two years of college had been miserable. I was
even thinking of transferring out at one point. But I met Gary and...well, he
was one of those guys that you just knew was going to make it big. Popular,
almost charismatic, I guess you could say. I had never come so close to being
popular, being on the "A" list. So I started to hang out with Gary, and he
introduced me to the others.>>
<<Can you give me the names of the others in this group
of friends?>>
<<It's been a while.... You know about Gary, Greg, Larry and Sarah Jane. Then
there was Becky Ruppert, Harold Tyler -
only we called him Mac, he hated his name - Brian O'Connell,
Jack Ouellette... uh, let's see... Walt Jackson, Chuck Stiner, Karla
Michaelson.... There were two others....>>
<<Was one of them a Richard Cleaver?>>
<<Yeah! Yeah, Richie - we used to call him the Beav-.... Wait - how did you know
about him? Is he...?>>
<<I'm afraid so, Vinnie,>> Mulder said. <<His body was discovered yesterday in
<<Jesus...Richie.... Was it like the others?>>
<<Essentially. There's one more, Vinnie. Who was it?>> Mulder prompted gently.
<<Yeah - yeah, lemme think a minute.... Marty! Martha
Jo Gallegher.>> There was a pause. <<H-how many are...?>>
<<Of the original group, only yourself, Martha Jo, Charles Stiner, Walt Jackson
and Jack Ouellette are still alive. At least, we haven't had reports on any of
the them. Until just now, we didn't even know who they were. Now that we have
names, we'll
be able to find them and offer some protection. Or of course, it could be that
it's one of them who's murdering the others.... What do you think, Vinnie? Why
would someone kill all your friends?>>
There was a long pause. <<Oh, there's reason...more than enough fucking reason.
And it's not one of them. It's...someone else.>>
I shifted in my seat, my muscles cramped from too many hours at my desk. Even
when my chair creaked, the guys didn't
even glance up, just kept staring at the tape recorder on the table.
<<Tell us, Vinnie,>> Mulder said again.
<<Could - could I have something to drink? Water, or anything....>>
<<I'll get it.>> The sound of Scully's heels clicking smartly on a hardwood
floor grew faint, and then louder again. <<Here you are.>>
<<Thanks.... As I said, Gary kind of latched onto me. It was flattering, him
being a big man on campus and me being
a nothing. He introduced me to the others, some from St. Vincent's, some from
State. We just used to hang out, especially on the weekends. Sitting around,
smoking a few joints ->> McNulty broke off suddenly.
Mulder's voice was tinged with amusement. <<It's
okay, Vinnie, I think the statute of limitations has run out on any narcotics
violations that old.>>
There was an embarrassed laugh. <<Yeah, well...
you *are* Feds.... Anyway, we'd just get wrecked and sit around. Gary was
fascinated by the occult, especially witchcraft. He used to tell stories...
well, as stoned as we were, they made a hell of an impression. Sometimes it was
so hard to tell what was really happening and what was just
one of his stories. Maybe that's why....>> He sighed. <<No, that's bullshit. I'm
not gonna use that excuse. Then ... then Gary suggested we try a little...
experiment. That's when he said it would be a real trip. The next week... the
next week was Halloween. He said that would be the perfect time. He passed out
books and stuff and told us to study them....>> There was a pause. <<I wasn't
comfortable with it. I mean,
I was raised Catholic - a lot of us in the group were - though I hadn't
practiced in years. But still, it felt *wrong*, you know? But Greg and Larry and
Sarah Jane were all for it, really enthusiastic. Hell, Sarah Jane was wild, she
was always up
for anything. But the others eventually all said they were in, so....>>
McNulty's voice trailed off.
<<Peer pressure is hard to resist at that age,>> Scully observed quietly.
<<That's it. That's it exactly. Anyway, we held the ceremony on Halloween. It
was nothing much, just wearing
robes, Gary leading us in what he called a black mass. I
don't know, I was so stoned I don't remember much of what
went on. Just fire and candles and Gary reading some crap.... Stupid stuff,
really. But Sarah Jane and some of the others really got off on it. So the next
week, we did it again, but... this time, Gary said there had to be a sacrifice.
He - he had gotten one of the rats from the Biology Lab, and he... and he
slit its throat over a dish, just let the blood run into it. Then he marked us
all with its blood. He said now we were all bound together.... Anointing, he
called it.... It almost made me sick.
I mean, Christ! But I knew that if I said anything... I'd go back
to the way I was... before. Miserable...alone. I - I just couldn't face that....
Jesus, I was so fucking stupid.... If I had had any idea of what was to come,
I'd have run, just run away and not
ever stopped running....>> Once more, McNulty broke into
I was beginning to think that maybe I really didn't want
to hear any more. I saw Mulder glance over at me, questioning, concerned. I
guess I just wanted to show him how professional
and competant I was, not one to swoon or utter a girly scream
at the horrors that life sometimes held. I wondered briefly if he were that
protective of his partner. I met his eyes and gave him
one of my long-practiced unflustered, cool 'VCU stares'. And
just as soon as I did it, I could have kicked myself. So far it
had been merely unpleasant. There would be worse to come
- much worse, if Mulder's expression was anything to go by.
He had given me my chance to bow out gracefully, but my
pride - or my ego - wouldn't let me take it. I was committed
now. I hung on grimly for what was to come.
<<...After that, it got worse and worse,>> McNulty's voice was saying on the
tape. He sounded almost numbed by the trauma he was reliving. <<More and more
extreme, more and more disgusting....>> He was silent for several minutes.
<<In what way, Mr. McNulty?>> Scully gently prodded.
<<Huh? ...Oh, in every way imaginable. Some I
couldn't have even imagined, not in my worst, wildest, sickest nightmares. More
sacrifices... small animals, strays... their throats slit by flickering
candlelight... the blood collected in a bowl.... We - we drank it, the blood in
the bowl. Then Sarah Jane - my God, she was something else.... I think she and
Gary fed off each other, one doing something outrageous,
the other escalating it to a new level, until.... She's the one who
introduced... the sex. At one of the ceremonies in late November - she tore off
her robe, and she was nude
underneath. We - we had just finished passing the bowl...
it had blood in it, and some sort of alcohol...and maybe
some sort of drug in it. Maybe acid, I don't know. I-I know
I don't remember really what all went on that night. I used
to get - still get - nightmares, flashbacks of that time. Horrible, sick
images... of blood, and orgies.... I wasn't very experienced sexually - as you
can imagine - before I got in
with that crowd. But then... God! I remember once, I don't
know which night it was, not that it really matters.... The
room was lit only by candles, the floor slippery with animal blood, and we... we
were all naked, rolling around in it.
Everyone fucking everyone else... simultaneously,
consecutively, it didn't matter who.... I *can* clearly recall barfing my guts
up the next day, even with the little I could remember. I-I was ashamed,
but...most of the others - it
was like they relished it, could hardly wait until the next ceremony.... I
dunno, it was almost like we unleashed something. Maybe Satan himself. All I
know is we did things during those ceremonies that we never would have dreamed
of doing normally.
And always wanted more....>>
My own stomach was churning at that point. Mulder, of course, had been right - I
shouldn't have stayed.
<<Mr. McNulty, you said the killer was someone else. Who did you mean?>> queried
Agent Scully. Her voice was
tightly controlled, as if she, too, were having a problem sitting
dispassionately through McNulty's recitation of depravity.
<<And what was that person's connection with the coven?>> asked Mulder. <<I
assume that's what you considered yourselves by then.>>
<<Well, Gary did, I'm sure... probably Sarah Jane,
Larry, Karla and Greg, too. They really bought into it - lock, stock, and
barrel.>> Silence for a moment, followed by a
deep breath. <<It - it was at the last ceremony. Gary and
Greg had promised something special for the Winter
Solstice ceremony. Final exams were over, and most of
the students were going home for Christmas break. But our
group stayed together. We would do the ceremony, and
then leave the day after.
<<That - that night, we met in the old storeroom as usual. Gary had managed to
appropriate the place for us, got a new
lock put on, everything. We were the only ones with access
to it. It had an altar, and black candles, that damn bowl, all the rest of that
bullshit... a pentagon? Pentangle?>>
<<Pentagram?>> Mulder suggested.
<<Yeah, that's it. Anyway, we lit the candles and stripped down and got into the
robes. Then we got in the circle, with Gary in the middle as usual. Then Greg
came in, with this girl. She was someone he had been seeing for a while. He had
made it clear that it was nothing serious, in fact that she was what he called a
prude. Still a virgin. I remember how Sarah
Jane had laughed about that, made fun of it. She was young,
maybe eighteen - not a student, a townie, someone who lived in Milford. She
probably thought it was a big deal dating a college guy. I-I was nervous.... I
didn't like the way Gary and Sarah Jane looked...like they were flying, on
mescaline or something....
Anyway, we started the ceremony. There was the usual... sacrifice... and the
blood.... I thought the girl was going to be sick right then and there. We - we
passed the bowl....>>
McNulty's voice was barely audible when he finally
continued after a long silence. <<It gets - gets hazy after that... thank God. I
know there were drugs in the bowl, I know there were, but that doesn't
excuse.... G-gary said that we would be initiating a new member that night, and
Greg pushed the girl into the center of the circle. Then.... then....>> He began
to cry.
<<Tell us, Vinnie.>>
He could hardly get the words out, choking on his sobs. <<Then Gary raped
her...and then the rest of us did, too.>>
Oh my god... My throat tightened and my stomach heaved,
and I knew I wasn't going to be able to tough it out through this one. I bolted
from the office as quietly as possible, by some miracle making it to the ladies
room down the hall before depositing everything I had eaten in days down the
toilet. Crouching miserably on the hard floor, cold sweat dampening my skin, I
retched until there was nothing left to come up. The toilet paper felt scratchy
on my oversensitized skin as I wiped my mouth and nose. My legs were shaking as
I pulled myself up. I flushed the toilet and headed for the sink, washing my
hands and rinsing my mouth out. I tried to make what repairs I could to my face
and hair - as stupid as it was, I was still concerned with maintaining the
facade I had carefully manufactured of the cool professional. I was hoping that
Mulder, if he had noticed my absence at all, would think that I had merely left
to answer an inopportunely-timed call of nature. With trembling
fingers, I tucked in the pins holding my heavy coil of hair in place, and crept
back to the office.
Back at my desk, I slid open the drawer and grabbed a peppermint, slipping it
from the wrapper as quietly as possible and popping it into my mouth. When I
raised my eyes to the conference table Mulder was looking at me, a knowing
expression of concern on his face. Shit. What had ever possessed me to think I
could put
one over on him - not only a senior agent, but a psychologist to boot? I
attempted a reassuring smile but I'm afraid it came out wan. He acknowledged the
effort with a faint smile and a wink.
<<...I don't know....>> A tearful McNulty was saying.
<<I went back home to Baltimore and spent the break in a
funk. I couldn't go back to St. Vincent's... I flat-out refused. Hell, I spent
most of that Christmas break any minute expecting
the cops to arrest me for rape. My grades the fall semester
were shit anyway, so I guess my parents were just as glad
not to have to fork out the dough to send me back. I've never
been back to Milford, never had any contact with the old group,
nor have they with me. So I don't know what ever became of
the girl.... Well....>>
<<What is it , Mr. McNulty?>> Agent Scully prompted.
<<A couple of years ago - remember how I said I ran into
Greg by chance at a mall? We were talking, and I was trying desperately to avoid
the subject, but he brought it up. Told me
what was going on with some of the others. Said that Sarah
Jane was still into witchcraft, maybe Gary too - that that was
why he had been so successful.... He said...he said the girl
had left town a few months after we...did that.... Said he still felt bad about
it, don't know what had gotten into him. He thought maybe she had gotten
pregnant...that awful night... but that he didn't know for sure.... She had
never contacted him. Not surprising under the circumstances, I guess....>> He
trailed off, and no one spoke for some time.
<<Do you remember her name, Vinnie?>>
<<...Huh? No, I'm not sure I ever knew it.>>
<<All right, Mr. McNulty,>> Agent Scully said smoothly.
<<Do you have any reason to think that you are in danger?>>
Another bitter laugh. <<Other than the fact that eight people I used to be close
to have been murdered in the last year?
No, I... no, I guess not really.>>
<<Has there been anything - anything at all - out of the ordinary?>>
<<...I dunno. I've had a feeling from time to time that I'm being watched....
But that might just be because this whole
thing has me spooked.... Phyllis! That was her name - the girl,
I mean. Phyllis. I'm sure I never heard what her surname was,
but her first name was Phyllis. Greg used to call her his Phyllie
- sort of a pun.>>
<<Thank you, that's very helpful, Mr. McNulty.>>
<<What about the photograph, Vinnie? What can you tell us about it?>>
<<What photograph?>> He sounded genuinely puzzled.
<<There was a portrait of your group - in your robes, obviously taken in the
room where you held your ceremonies.>>
<<..Oh! I had forgotten all about that.... Yeah, Gary took that picture, I think
it was taken the second time, before we did the anointing ceremony.>>
<<Did you ever get a copy of it?>>
<<Nah... I didn't want one. By the time the reprints were available, I was
already pretty disenchanted with what was going
on with the group.>>
<<Did the others get a copy?>>
<<I dunno...maybe. I'm sure Gary and Greg and Sarah Jane would have wanted one,
but I'm not sure any of the others bothered. Why do you ask?>>
<<Would Richard Cleaver have gotten one?>>
<<Richie? I really doubt it. I think Richie was almost as disgusted as I
was....>> His voice became more demanding.
<<I asked you why you wanted to know.>>
Scully seemed reluctant. <<A framed photograph of the group has been found near
each of the victims.>>
There was a pause. McNulty's mood appeared to have
changed with this latest bit of information, now almost calm and
fatalistic. <<Oh.... Well, that's it then. No, I don't think Richie would have
had a copy, and certainly he wouldn't have framed it
and kept it for years, no way.>>
<<Is there anywhere you can go, Vinnie - out of state for a while to visit some
relatives, maybe?>> asked Mulder gently.
<<No. No, I don't want to do that.>> McNulty's voice was now flat, devoid of
life or hope.
<<We can have the local police department alerted, Mr. McNulty. It's pretty
remote out here, and it might be as well for them to keep an eye on the place.>>
<<Yeah...yeah, all right.... Look, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm tired,
and... and I have some thinking to do.>>
There was the sound of movement... clothes rustling,
chairs squeaking, feet shifting. <<Here's my card, Vinnie,>>
Mulder said. <<It has my office and cellular numbers on it. If
you need to talk, or if you think that you're in any danger, give
me a call, okay? Anytime.>>
<<Yeah...yeah, sure.>>>
The tape ended and began to rewind.
End of Chapter Five