- History Lessons – Part 1 of 7
- History Lessons – Part 2 of 7
- History Lessons – Part 3 of 7
- History Lessons – Part 4 of 7
- History Lessons – Part 5 of 7
- History Lessons – Part 6 of 7
- History Lessons – Part 7 and Final
From: (joann) Newsgroups: alt.tv.x-files.creative Subject: NEW: History Lessons – 1/7 (R rated) Date: 12 Mar 1996 18:29:42 GMT
Legally: The interesting characters in this story belong to Chris Carter, 1013 and Fox as brought to life by DD, GA and the XFiles writers. I’ve borrowed them for fun not profit.
This story: I’m happy for the story to be circulated uncommercially, intact and with my name still attached.
I’ve rated it R for violence.
Thanks to everyone who responded to my request for an editor to do UK to US translation. Beth and Sarah were my hapless victims this time – so special thanks to them for turning my lifts into elevators.
We didn’t work out what to call Blutac. It’s apparently also known as adhesive putty. It’s the plastic dough like material used to stick posters on walls. I stayed with blutac because it scans better…
The call had come in late Saturday evening. It didn’t take an investigative genius to see why they’d been asked to get to Atlantic City in a hurry to look at the murder. It was the third killing. The FBI had been involved since the first one, the death of a high profile Prosecuting Attorney. After the second body was found in a locked and apparently inaccessible room, the Bureau team had started to wonder about asking for help. After the third call came in, they didn’t wait.
The briefing from AD Skinner was terse. The names of the victims. A mention of mutilation. The lack of access.
Mulder collected Scully and they drove out.
Mulder had been irritated as well as surprised when they were met in the driveway by one of the Bureau’s Public and Media Relations people. “High profile case.. Utmost discretion.. Absolute professionalism…” On and on. Mulder mumbled something to Scully about why if there was a hurry for them to get to the scene they were still stood in the drive.
The Bureau team were stood around trying to look busy in the entrance hall of the mansion. The victim was a high ranking Judge from a family of old money. Clarke, the PR man quickly handled the introductions, making a big play of introducing the Judge’s family to the Agent in Charge, Mark Nicholson and to their “specialists” from Washington.
Nicholson and his crew had tried to leave the crime scene undisturbed. If it was anything like the previous two killings they weren’t going to pick anything up. If there was nothing to be found this time, Nicholson hoped that at least their “specialists” from Washington would be the ones who had to break the bad news to his boss.
Nicholson hurried them to the room that contained the body. “No one had seen him for eight hours, the door was locked. The family got worried, thought he’d maybe been taken ill, so one of their staff broke the door down. He had already been dead a while.” Nicholson paused and his voice went quiet. “The killer, he really cuts them up. That Judge is in a hell of a state. Whoever does that to them. It’s an ugly one.”
The words washed over Mulder and Scully as they walked into the Judge’s study, they’d heard the words a lot of times before.
Mulder looked unhappily at the doorway. The trouble with breaking the door down was that it made it that much tougher to see if it was originally locked from the inside or the outside. Whether it was locked normally or whether someone had been able to do some trick to make it look that way. Of course, if they hadn’t broken the door down, they wouldn’t be in here. But, oh well, it was 2am and he was tired and he might not have a life (as Scully would phrase it) but this wasn’t how he had planned to spend the weekend.
Scully headed directly to the body and after a few seconds started to speak. “Mulder. Nicholson was right, this is an ugly one.”
“Who, the Judge?”
Mulder wandered slowly across to where she worked. He stood quietly watching Scully as she carefully pushed and prodded at the corpse looking for cause of death, time of death, anything that could help tell the story. As he stared down at the body he reached out to grip the back of the desk chair.
Scully spoke without looking up from her task. “Been dead a long time, at least twelve hours, we’ll need to check when he had breakfast and check the room temperature to try and get a better idea.”
Mulder didn’t reply.
Scully continued briskly. “Very neat job. Could be medically trained or at least butchery, I’ll be able to tell more back at the Lab. Anything you want to check before I ask them to move the body?”
Still, no reply.
Scully’s gloved hands were stained with the congealed blood from the corpse, she turned to look at her partner. His usually pale face looked almost grey. His hands were still locked on the chair, she could see the veins standing up against the white of his knuckles. He was breathing a little too regularly, a little too heavily, like it was a conscious effort.
“Mulder. Are you alright?”
He said nothing, concentrated on breathing for a while longer then looked down at her. “No, it’s not alright, not really, so why should I be?”
“I mean do you want to sit down or something.”
“No. I’m fine. And yes, I think we may as well move him to the Lab.”
Two of Nicholson’s people came in and moved the Judge. Of course, right then the only way they knew it was the Judge was that it was his study, his clothes, his signet ring. No member of the family was going to be able to do a positive ID right there and then. After all they had never seen him without a face before.
Whoever had killed him had freed the mask of tissues and skin that form the face, pulled it away from the skull, probably using a scalpel. Not so terribly different from some of the basic processes of plastic surgery. Except that whoever had done this had taken the whole face away when they finished the operation. The hair and scalp had been removed in a similarly clinical way.
It was true the killing was horrific. Scully knew that. She had felt the flicker of nausea as she saw the body. She had switched off her revulsion in favour of her professionalism, her horror in favour of her desire to unravel the mystery of this man’s death. But it wasn’t the worst thing she’d ever seen and she knew it wasn’t the worst mutilation that Mulder had seen either.
She had never seen Mulder react like that. An occasional attack of squeamishness during an autopsy perhaps, particularly if he was there when she had to dissect an eyeball or something. But he usually glossed it over with some glib remark. Sometimes, usually when it was kids, he would just stand there very quiet, like he’d tried to switch off. But she’d never seen him look that, she tried to pin it down, did he actually look scared?
By the time they got to the Hotel, it had been a long night, a very long night. They’d done as much as had to be done immediately. Now they had to get some sleep.
Dana Scully looked at her partner. His eyes looked dull through lack of sleep and something else. “Mulder. Wait a minute, do you want to talk?”
Mulder didn’t want to talk about anything, but kept his voice level as he replied. “About?”
“How this is affecting you.”
“Death always affects me. Violent death and mutilation, even of a stranger is supposed to affect you.”
She breathed in sharply. “Well of course, but..”
She knew this was going badly. She knew she had to let it drop. She had put him on the defensive and that wasn’t what she wanted. Now he’d managed to turn it round, implying that she was acting oddly because she hadn’t been affected enough. She couldn’t let it drop. “Of course, it’s right that you should feel upset. But it’s just that, well, this isn’t your normal reaction.”
“Of course its my normal reaction. I’m not a robot. Maybe I normally hide it better. Happy now?”
She shivered and quickly said goodnight.
In the morning after some sort of sleep they made their way to the Lab. Mulder hovering at the desk in the autopsy room, reading notes, waiting for any comments from Scully.
Scully worked through the Autopsy with her usual meticulousness.
Cause of death was easy, multiple stab wounds to the neck and head. The face and scalp had been removed after the victim’s death. Even that was something to be grateful for.
The mutilation had been carried out with a scalpel and it had been a professional job. Maybe medical, maybe veterinarian but something that had given them a good grounding in anatomy. Else, Scully shuddered for an instant, someone who’d had a fair amount of practice.
She kept looking over at her partner. He stood, leaning against the cold tiled wall of the exam room reading over the reports from the earlier murders. Silent, expressionless.
Occasionally she’d call him over to point out some particularly interesting feature of the corpse. He stayed 100% neutral, switched off. No wisecracks. When she asked him to come and look at something she wasn’t even getting the usual puppydog whine of “do I have to?”
What was most intriguing for Scully about the corpse wasn’t the injuries, it was the lack of them. Killed by multiple stab wounds, yet no signs of a struggle. She spoke to Mulder again. “Either the Judge was taken completely by surprise and the first wound killed him instantly or he was asleep and didn’t wake up.”
He replied without looking at her. “Or something else.”
“Well I guess he could have been drugged, we’ll have the rest of the toxicological reports through later tonight.”
She tried to tackle him again. “Look, Mulder. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with you getting upset over this, it’s horrific. I’m just saying you usually don’t react like this. Is something wrong?. Did you know that Judge or something?”
“Cut it out Scully. I’m not one of your students who’s just passed out in autopsy class. I don’t like what I’m seeing. I don’t have to defend myself, there’s no reason why I should like it.”
Scully felt herself reeling again. Was she just wrong? She had asked him about his reaction three times now. He wasn’t denying anything, he’d admitted he was upset. So why was it making her feel so uncomfortable. Why was she so sure that he was keeping something back from her?
She thought of the times he’d asked her if she was alright. And she’d passed him off with a “fine”. She found herself almost smiling as she considered just how irritating it was to be told by someone who clearly wasn’t fine, that fine was the answer. Then she reminded herself that she wasn’t even being told that everything was fine, just that everything was “normal” and that he wasn’t hiding his reactions so well as usual. More honest than her replies, she mused. Or, if he’d admit that much, maybe he just had more to hide?
They drove, in silence, over to the Judge’s house.
The Agent In Charge, Mark Nicholson, stood watching his team going through the motions of a fingertip search of the gardens surrounding the house. He’d already decided that they wouldn’t find anything. He knew that as soon as he heard that the video camera that generally monitored the drive had been put out of action with nothing more elaborate than a shopping bag placed over the lens. Still, it had to look like they were investigating every possibility.
The security system at the house wasn’t switched on during the day, not when people were at home and awake. Why should it be?
Fox Mulder walked over to Nicholson and started to talk about the other victims. Dana Scully arrived just as Mulder asked if the faces from the other victims had been found.
Nicholson looked confused. “Found the faces? Our analyst said it was typical trophy collecting behaviour. Why would we find them?”
Mulder tried not to sound irritated but didn’t really succeed. “So, no.”
“Do you think we’ve missed something?”
“I think that we are all missing something until we catch the killer. But no, nothing in particular. The analyst is probably right. I’d like to see the report.”
Mulder returned to the Judge’s study. He could almost convince himself that the window could be locked from the outside, if you balanced the latch just right. After all it had only been on the latch, not locked with a key or something. He looked around the floor and saw a blob of blutac. If you balanced the latch on that as you got out, then closed the window and tapped the window frame sharply, the latch might just fall back into place. It could just work. Might take a few attempts but it could be done.
At least he didn’t have to go looking for someone who could sliver out of locked rooms or walk through walls.
Nicholson was talking to his cellular when he spotted Mulder and quickly waved him to come over. “Hold on, ” he said quickly to his phone. He turned back to Mulder, anxiety and excitement wrinkling his eyes. “You were right. We’ve found a face.”
There were lots of times when Mulder liked to be right. This wasn’t one of them. He slumped into a chair.
Dana Scully saw the bleakness in her partner’s eyes, watched him closely as he talked to Nicholson.
“You seemed to be expecting that.” Nicholson said edgily.
“Expecting isn’t quite the right word. Which one was it? Where was it found?”
Nicholson replied quickly. “The first victim. Carole Goddard. Senior prosecuting counsel in the DA’s office. The thing was found in a bank, the cleaners were emptying the trash.” His words trailed off. He wasn’t usually surprised by violence but the idea that someone had carried that thing to a Bank and dumped it in the trash presumably in full view of staff and customers. It wasn’t easy to imagine.
Dana tried to talk to Mulder as they drove to the Bank. “This is why you were upset isn’t it? You’ve seen this before, you already know something about this case.”
He didn’t reply.
“Dammit, Mulder. This is ridiculous, what’s going on here? What aren’t you telling me?”
Mulder ignored the question and raised one of his own. “I just wondered why were assigned to the case.”
“Why? I assumed with the urgency, the unusual forensics on the first two and the locked rooms we were a pretty obvious team. Why? Are you saying there’s some hidden agenda here?”
He kept the shiver out of his voice. “No. Probably just a coincidence.”
“Deja Vu. I have seen these bodies before, on a case I did for Behavioural about five years ago. Not one of my better performances.”
“What do you mean. How like the old case is it? Have you asked for the files to be sent out?”
Mulder hesitated then spoke again. “I don’t need them, I’ve got them engraved. I hoped no one else was going to need them, but I asked for them to be sent out anyway. They should be at the hotel by the time we get back.”
“So I presume you didn’t catch the murderer on that case? If we were looking for an escapee you’d have said sooner.”
“You presume wrong. We caught him, leaving a face on a statue, red handed as it were. He pulled a gun and ended up dead. Not a lot of chance of him reoffending.”
Scully frowned, puzzled by his comment, so she pushed some more. “So if he got caught, what did you get so wrong?”
“Nothing much, I just screwed up the profile bad enough that three people died. We were just lucky when we caught him.”
“Everybody makes mistakes.”
“Wrong.” The calm measured tone his voice was at odds with the sharply defined whiteness of his knuckles as his grip on the steering wheel tightened. ” < Spooky > didn’t make mistakes, they believed every stupid thing I put in it. And I got shipped out to another job straight after I wrote it so they didn’t get a chance to argue. They just had to take it seriously because it came from the pen of a genius. They stood no chance, so three people died and more would have done if we hadn’t been lucky.”
She listened to the silence for a few seconds before continuing. “How wrong?”
“I’ll summarise. I’d put the killer as high IQ, medically trained, female, twenty five to thirty five. The man was below average intelligence, a skilled animal hunter, age forty five. I couldn’t have got it more wrong if I’d tried. And while the police and the Bureau were running around after my highly unusual female serial killer, three people died. I don’t need the file to remember the case.”
“God. I’m sorry, you can’t blame yourself, no one’s perfect.”
“Right. So who do you suggest I blame? And don’t say the murderer, I’m not that dumb.”
She sighed. It explained a lot about why he’d been so off balance with the case. If she thought she could get away with it, she’d like to touch him to say that it was OK, that she understood. But that would probably only get him annoyed again.
They completed the drive in silence.
The Bank building was large and impressive, plenty of marble flooring and concealed lighting. Mulder and Scully followed Nicholson and the Scene of Crime team to the place where the face had been dumped. The finger printing team went to work.
Mulder asked for copies of the video films from the security cameras that covered the area. Maybe they’d be lucky. He sat for a long time silently surveying the room and the area where the bloodstained mask of skin and tissue had been found. It was so crude. So crude. Deja Vu? More like a slow motion action replay. He wanted to forget about that old case, concentrate on this one. If he didn’t he was doomed < history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce >. So which was it going to be this time, tragedy or farce? Probably a bit of both, he thought cynically.
Clarke, the media relations man arrived and tried to look important. Nicholson couldn’t think of anything worth saying and suggested he try and see if Mulder was ready to throw some pearls of wisdom to the outside world.
Mulder’s eyes said “do not disturb”. Mulder had always thought it was strange how people who specialise in communication could be so unaware of the feelings and reactions of others. Clarke would probably describe it as being necessarily thick skinned, a prerequisite for a tough and often unpopular job. Mulder’s reckoned it just meant Clarke was stupid and doing a pointless and unnecessary job.
“So, Agent Mulder. The press pack will be keen to get some feedback on this latest find and on the kind of progress we’re making. What can I say to them?”
Clarke swallowed back his annoyance. “Fine. I’ll issue a covering statement. What can I tell the family of the victim.”
“That a lot of people are working on the problem, that we’re making progress and we’ll tell them more when he have it.”
Clarke wondered if now would be a good moment to pull rank. “So when I report back to Nicholson’s boss, is there anything I can say to him that isn’t just a platitude.”
“I don’t know, is there?”
“Well he might care to know what the FBI’s Washington Head Quarter’s specialists are up to.”
Mulder continued to stare at the room ahead of him, looking at camera locations, door positions, desk layout. He tried to think why this particular Bank, why that particular waste paper basket had been chosen.
They finished up their work at the Bank and went back to the hotel. Dana Scully sat and browsed five year old case files while her partner watched security videos on fast forward.
Scully finished the file and started to quiz him. “You weren’t actually assigned to the case were you. Did you even get the chance to visit the crime scene?”
“No, I was testing out my potential as a remote viewer so I didn’t have to.” He noted her glare of irritation and moderated his sarcasm. “I got back from a job in Virginia on Saturday lunchtime. They had me lined up to go out to Seattle on the first flight on Monday morning. The courier dropped off the files and they asked me to rustle something up. It was just a little case, just a favour my boss was doing, not normally ‘worthy’ of my attention, but as I was in town.”
“I’m sorry,” She said apologetically.
“What have you got to be sorry about?” “Nagging you.”
“Oh don’t worry, I don’t need your help to get the recriminations going. I thought I had enough to go on and I didn’t. And I was experienced enough to have known that. All I had to say was that I didn’t know, I couldn’t write it with that little data to go on. No profile would have been better than a wrong one.”
“If the killer ended up dead five years ago why did you bother to get the case file sent out.”
Mulder snapped back. “Why did you bother to read it?”
She tried to placate him. “Possibility of a copycat?”
“After five years? No, this kind of mutilation is rare but there are cases every year. Why were we assigned to this case?”
Scully started to go though the list. “Choice of victims?”
“Linked by profession and if we could spot it probably by a single case.”
Mulder nodded but said simply. “Unpleasant but not extraordinary and done by conventional means.”
“No obvious access.”
“Dealt with, nothing inexplicable. Done to make the crime look stranger than it is.”
“Violent death but no sign of a struggle. Nothing did come in on the toxicological report.”
He leaned back in his chair and sighed. “That’s the biggie. And why do you suppose the killer wanted to disguise the point of entry. That would make sense if it was an inside job and they were trying to confuse the trail but it was an outside window that was used to leave. It’s sometimes done to make a crime look like suicide but no one would mistake this for suicide. “
Scully frowned. “It’s like they wanted to make it distracting.”
“High profile victims, the sort the J.Edgar building would definitely notice and then some novelty clues. Sounds like they wanted our attention.”
Scully stared back at him. “The FBI’s?”
“No. Ours. Me and you.”
“Sounds like paranoia.”
He studied his feet and almost whispered his reply. “Hope so.”
Scully continued the conversation briskly. “How similar are the MO’s between this and the old case?”
“They aren’t. Well, they are, but not that similar. The old case had none of this fuss about no obvious point of entry. And the victims were killed quickly and straightforwardly. Drugged in a couple of cases, shot in the others. We didn’t have this killed violently and probably not instantly but without a struggle stuff. The only real similarity is the removal of the face and scalp and the fact that we found the face later. “
“And the places the faces were found?”
“That’s an interesting one. They were found in places that looked like they were supposed to indicate why they were killed. So like that one today, found in a Bank, probably accused of selling her soul for money or something.”
“Do you think there’s a link?”
For the first time his voice betrayed the emotions that were running through his mind. “A link, yeah like I think I screwed it up last time and will probably do the same again unless I get this crap out of my head. I’m going to bed.”
Scully felt her stomach churn. She’d thought he was getting past it and then it breaks surface again. “You can’t blame yourself. No one gets profiles right 100% of the time.”
“Wrong. If they’d given the job to someone who only got them right 95% of the time, they’d have had enough doubts to challenge it when it didn’t pan out. Instead of letting people die while they wasted their time on a wild goose chase.”
“Come on. That could have happened anyway, even if the profile was accurate they might not have picked up the killer that quickly.”
“Of course. Despite outward appearances, I’m not stupid. But I was the one who made sure their investigation stood no chance.”
“Don’t get onto yourself like this.”
“Goodnight, ” he said and abruptly left.
She watched him leave. She couldn’t believe the effect the case was having on him. Guilt, fear of failure, perfectionism, she knew all that. But she also knew that they were all usually kept ticking away like miniature time bombs below a surface sheen of neutral professionalism. Every now and again one or other of them would explode and usually send him alone into some unknown danger. Now, here they were bubbling so close to the surface that they even broke through while they were just talking. She wondered what would happen when they really started on the case.
This case and his reaction were making her head hurt. She knew she was not going to get much sleep. She hoped that he would.
Fox Mulder didn’t bother to switch the room light on, just threw his clothes over the back of a chair and slumped onto the bed. Brilliant, he’d spent the day telling her everything was normal, that he was fine and then he’d just cracked up mid conversation. He waited for his heart to stop making so much noise.
He closed his eyes and dissected his thoughts. Messy. Very messy. Too many memories and emotions from too many cases. Had to concentrate. Feeling guilty, not a novel emotion, nor one that was particularly helpful, deal with that later. Wounded professional pride, that was a good one, so professional that he might let a five year old case sabotage this one, not going to happen. He let the reactions, memories, feelings walk through his mind one after another. Like counting sheep. Quietly he culled the unwanted reactions. Let the ones that made him good at his job keep walking.
Mulder sat, phone in one hand, fork in the other, playing with his breakfast. He dropped the fork, picked up a pencil and scribbled something down. He looked up as Dana Scully approached and mouthed a greeting. A last couple of notes, a last couple of words and he closed the call. Turned his attention to Scully. “Good Morning, how’s things?”
She looked up from her plate and turned to face him. She still felt tired. It had been a late night and her sleep had been restless after her talk, or failure to talk, with him. She looked at Mulder. Maybe she’d misread him last night, he looked fine, rested and immaculately dressed. < FBI mode enabled >, she mused.
She almost laughed. She’d been worried about him and he was looking 100% G-Man. She reckoned that, right now, anxious, short of sleep, she was looking like something the cat brought home. So much for looking at her most professional for the media relations people on the high profile case.
“So, any developments?” She asked as breezily as she could manage.
“Nothing much. I was trying to get them to cross reference the work of the Judge with the work of the other victims. They’ve got lots of matches for two out of three of them, but nothing where its all three together. The second man killed worked for the DA’s office, but he’s only been round here for a couple of months and he’s not got that much history.”
The team of Agents checking the histories of the victims looking for common cases had been working steadily back in time. Prioritising the follow up, trying to get a list of who might be most likely to carry a grudge against the victims and in particular who would be most likely to do something about it. Plenty of cases on the list matching Carole Goddard and the Judge, but so far only blanks when they tried to follow them up.
“So, are you going to the office to carry on with that video film check.”
“No, done that. There’s only a couple of possibles for who might have dumped the face and they are only seen in rear views. I’ve asked a couple of Nicholson’s people to review the other video camera footage looking out for the two possibles to see if we can get a better picture. I think we may be unlucky, when I looked round that room I could see a route through the area that would mean they never had to show more than their back to the camera. There are cameras in some of the shops on the street in front of the Bank though, it’s just possible one of them picked him up.”
“Definitely a him then?” She thought of that five year old profile with the female killer.
“Not definitely. But if it’s one of those two I spotted on the footage, then its either a man or an unusually tall woman with very masculine cut clothes and hair. We need to get some first hand information on the first two victims and look at the other murder scenes. You don’t mind driving do you? I need to do some work.”
He shrugged. “You know, work.”
She looked at him still puzzled. “Doing what?”
“Profiling, you know the thing I’m supposed to be good at.”
“Pardon me for speaking.”
“That’s ok, just don’t let it happen again.”
She stiffened and turned to stare at him.
He was standing, grinning, watching her, waiting to duck. She tried not to smile but couldn’t stop herself completely. She was just relieved that he was back to normal.
The crime scenes had given them little new information. The killer had been careful to wear gloves. Had left nothing behind. Had failed to trigger alarms. Hadn’t been captured on security cameras. And had managed to do it all without having aroused suspicion by being seen hanging around checking out the building beforehand.
Fox Mulder’s head was racing. The lack of evidence was telling him things that the evidence wasn’t. He couldn’t quite see what it was telling him, but he let the images roll in and let the patterns swirl.
Dana Scully’s frustration at the lack of evidence was matched only by her determination to get more of it. She could see her partner was starting to switch up to the next gear and wondered where the buzz was coming from.
They talked to the victims’ families. But those conversations only seemed to confirm that it was the victims’ jobs that had marked them out as targets.
They visited the DA’s office and interviewed the colleagues of the dead attorneys. But it wasn’t what they said that caught Mulder’s attention, it was the team photo on the wall. Mark Chambers, the third victim, wasn’t working there on the date the photo was taken but it certainly looked like him. Mulder pointed the man out.
The Secretary who’d been walking them around, doing the introductions, stopped and stared at the picture. “Oh my God. That’s it, isn’t it. Mistaken identity. Dale left a month before Mark started so I guess I never really thought of it. “
So now they had a third name to cross reference in the search. There was a good chance that Dale Kingsley not Mark Chambers was the intended victim. Mulder phoned the new name through to Nicholson. The shortlist of courtcases that covered Carole Goddard and the Judge, should be a lot shorter after they fed in the new data.
Mulder was calm and gentle as he questioned the relatives and friends of the victims, soothing the witnesses as much as probing them for information. Polite and carefully professional.
The media relations man would have been proud of him. Well he would have been if the first time he saw him that morning, Mulder hadn’t warned him to keep out of his way. And if it hadn’t been said with such an air of menace and authority that even Scully had been startled to hear it.
The cellular buzzed. Nicholson had news. The Judge’s face had been found. It was tied to a streetlamp, the bulb had been removed from the lamp. A blindfold covered the eye slits.
Mulder shifted uncomfortably. Well the killer might be vicious and the mutilations grotesque but the message certainly wasn’t subtle. If the murderer had wanted to say the Judge had been blind, he couldn’t have telegraphed it much more.
It just didn’t add up. It was as if the sophistication of the killings were matched by a complete lack of sophistication when it came to presenting the world with their explanation. The professionalism of the murderer matched by the amateurism of, of who?
Scully looked at her partner. He’d shifted up another gear. He had scarcely said a word on the way back to the FBI office but his eyes were alight with a fire she’d seen before.
Nicholson’s office team were going through the cases and now had something they could really get their teeth into. Their shortlist was now short enough that they could actually start doing something with it.
Mulder and Scully went over to the office to see Nicholson’s team and sat reviewing the list of cases. The cases had been put in some kind of priority order. People who had made threats got top billing. People jailed by the team scored high, but most of them were still locked up. They gave extra priority points where Dale Campbell, the man who could have been the intended second victim had also been involved.
Nicholson’s people weren’t having to go back quite as many years as Mulder had expected. Carole Goddard had been a Defense attorney until the birth of her first child. She’d become a part timer working as a Prosecutor for the DA three years ago.
Mulder scowled unhappily. That explained the Bank. Mulder threw his head back in frustration and cursed himself for missing the obvious. It wasn’t someone they’d convicted that had done this as act of revenge. It was someone who reckoned that a criminal had got off because of these three. The Defense lawyer had done her work for money, hence the Bank. The judge had not seen the guilt, hence the blindfold.
Mulder went back to Nicholson and explained that he thought they had the search the wrong way round. They had been looking for the cases where Carole Goddard and the Judge had together helped lock someone up.
Mulder told Nicholson that they were going to have to start the sort again. This time they needed to look at the not guilty’s and the light sentences. They needed to find a victim, or a relative of a victim, who was angry enough to kill.
A slow, slow process. Sifting court records. Boring but necessary.
They worked through until evening. Mulder told Scully that he needed to get back to the Hotel for some quiet so he could do some more work. Scully was starting to relax, her fears for her partner replaced by a knowledge that they were making progress, or at least they seemed to be.
Back at the hotel, they talked in his room.
Scully watched the flurry of activity by her partner as he organised piles of notes and papers. “You’re onto something aren’t you.”
“Almost. It’s not a Xfile, yet someone tried to fake it up to look like one and that’s the bit I can’t place. But, hey the night’s young. I’ve sharpened my pencils. I’ve got a supply of donuts and coffee. Easy.”
“Two notebooks Mulder?”
“There’s not many people could slip one past you Agent Scully.”
“And two pencils?”
“You have a problem with me owning two pencils?”
“No. I suppose you’re planning on using one for your left hand and one in your right. You’re just more talented than I give you credit for. “
“No,” he hesitated before moving on with a voice that dripped with feigned embarrassment. “You were right to be suspicious. I’m afraid its multiple personality disorder, I couldn’t take the arguments over who got to hold the pencil. I think we need to rent a bigger car.”
“No way am I going to pander to your delusions by giving you spare seats for your extra personas.” “You wouldn’t want to sit next to a maniac would you?”
She made sure he didn’t see her smile. He was definitely back to normal. She wondered how that dreadful mood from yesterday could have come and gone so quickly. Maybe it had all just been her overreacting. Maybe she was just over sensitive to his moods at the moment. Wrong time of the month? She stopped herself before she giggled out loud. Yep, that would be it, he was always strange at full moon.
“Don’t work too late.” She said quickly.
She said goodnight.
At breakfast the following morning, Mulder was so full of enthusiasm for the case, Scully found herself having to try and slow him down for long enough to eat.
“Threes. The murders come in threes.” He said urgently, pouring another coffee.
“There have only been three murders, are you predicting another three?”
“No. Not just this case. The old one as well.”
Scully was surprised, she stared back. “The one from five years ago? But, they got the murderer.”
“No, they got the murderer’s accomplice. The accomplice is the one who places the faces. The actual murderer got away.”
“There were six murders on that old case.”
“Two lots of three. Same killer, different accomplice. I did a profile after the first three, if I’d had the six deaths I’d have seen the anomaly.”
Scully wasn’t sure what to make of this. She wanted to believe him but, God knows, if he was wrong, she was terrified what it could do to him. He was bad enough at blaming himself for getting the profile wrong once, what if he got it wrong twice? Imagine the timebombs that could go off under that professional calm. She wanted to pull him down to earth before he got too committed to trying to prove he had been right the first time.
She tried to be careful with how she worded her question. “So where did your killer disappear to for the last five years?”
“She didn’t. She kept killing but changed the MO to something less distinctive.”
“It’s still a lot of bodies.”
“I think she used her accomplices three times and I think she let the accomplices choose the victims, maybe even the manner of death. That all stopped the fact that the cases were related from being obvious.”
Scully frowned. “There are an awful lot of suppositions in that statement. I think we need to focus on the current case.”
“I have done,” Mulder responded eagerly. “I’ve been working. A profile for the killer. A profile for the accomplice.”
Scully looked over at the two neat printouts in front of her partner. No way did he get any sleep last night. He had to be running on pure adrenaline. If she had to bring him down it could be a crash landing.
“Don’t tell me, let me guess. The killer is female 25 to 35, high IQ, medical training.” She flinched as she said the words knowing how sarcastic they had sounded, it wasn’t what she had intended.
He was trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice, but Scully’s questioning was grating on him. “No, that was five year’s ago. She’s 30 to 40, has moved into some branch of psychiatric medicine. Probably specialising in hypno therapy. She wants to get caught, hence the new MO.”
Dana Scully watched her partner struggling for control. He desperately needed her to believe him. If she agreed him with him he’d just race head long into it. But, what if he was wrong? If she let him run in the wrong direction it would be doubly difficult for him to pull back. She couldn’t tell what was for the best.
“I don’t know Mulder. Let me read the profiles, then you can walk me through the thinking behind them. But whatever we do, I don’t think you should get into the previous case when you take this to Nicholson.”
He looked into his coffee, a mixture of disappointment and frustration in his eyes. “OK. I’ll go down to the office and see how they are getting on with that list of old court cases. Catch up with me when you’re ready.”
“I’ll come too, I can read at the office as easily as here.” She deliberately ignored the ambiguity of his comment about catching up.
Scully read the profiles. Tightly worded. Closely argued. She couldn’t disagree. She handed them back. Mulder gave them to Nicholson, he kept his explanation to the current series of killings.
Nicholson started to brief his team. They were looking for two people. The latest accomplice would be found somewhere in the search of those old court cases.
The killer was probably working somewhere as a psychiatrist or in a similar therapy role. Probably been in their present job for less than a year.
Nicholson looked over to Mulder to expand on the story. Mulder started with a warning. He told them that the killer had not just started killing. And that this latest sequence of deaths was done deliberately to draw attention. Deliberately to attract the heat from the Police and the FBI.
The murderer had used her therapeutic skills to identify people with enough anger and need for revenge. She’d chosen them as accomplices. The accomplice didn’t have to get involved in the killings themselves, merely in the choice of victims and in dealing with the aftermath. Hypnosis had helped her control the accomplices’ memories so that afterwards they would not even remember their role.
The killer’s calm professionalism and charming manner had made her invisible. People would see her as no threat. That was why when people were asked if there had been any suspicious characters hanging around the victims’ houses they said no. What was there to be suspicious of?
If she had been anything less than charming and professional, her victims wouldn’t have let her hypnotise them so completely. They would have been too much on their guard. Mulder believed that the killer sat and talked to her intended victim for long enough to relax them and then hypnotised them so efficiently that they scarcely even saw or felt the knife as it struck them.
Multiple stab wounds but no signs of a struggle. Even if, through the haze of the hypnotic trance, her victims had ever realised they were in danger from her, then they had realised it too late to struggle.
“The killer is feeling guilty and wants to get caught. But she blames us for not catching her sooner, for not saving the lives of the ones she’s killed. She wants to go out in a blaze of glory and she views us as being as guilty as her. So we are all targets now.” The wave of surprise that rippled through the watching Agents convinced him that he had their attention as he closed his comments with a warning to take care.
Scully moved back to Mulder’s side. “I think they believed you,” she said mischievously.
“Wonderful what wearing the dark grey suit does for my credibility.”
Nicholson looked at his Washington specialists. Tired and hyper. But so very effective. It looked easy when someone else explained it. He turned back to Mulder and Scully, his expression showing a mix of admiration and gratitude. “You look like you need a break, we’ve got plenty to do with the stuff you’ve given us. You may as well take the evening off. We’ll call you if we get anything.”
Mulder smiled. “That an order?”
“Sounds good to me.”
They hadn’t found the other Attorney’s face yet. That time, the murderer had killed the wrong guy. Maybe they were too embarrassed to publish their error by displaying the face for them to find. Feeling too guilty even? In the back of his mind though, Mulder knew they’d find that third face soon and that it would be a message to him from the killer. He’d like a bit of time to prepare for it.
Dr Karen Harker looked from the corridor into the office full of Agents. She watched Fox, she’d seen his picture in the papers. The first time she saw a photo of him, he was standing outside a Courthouse looking calm and intense. The court in Baltimore had let Eugene Tooms go free that day. She had recognised Mulder’s name, he was the one who wrote that profile, the one that had so nearly caught her five years ago.
She thought back to those days when she had been so young, so innocent. She thought of that rush of adrenaline as the pack had closed in on her. And then? And then nothing. They caught that poor man attaching the face to a statue. Too ambitious, the man had overreached himself, the police had caught him and he’d pulled a gun. Ridiculous. So the hunt for her had been called off.
She recalled the relief, then the annoyance that followed the relief. How easy to gloat and move on and start again, and kill again, and again.
How easy to find people, deserving people who’d been put on the rack by the actions of others. How easy to help them, those deserving people who would never otherwise get revenge. She would kill for them, a noble avenger. All they had to do, was identify the prey. They could cleanse their minds by showing the world why the dead deserved to die. And afterwards she could grant them absolution and let them forget their sins. What skills she had.
She watched the Psychiatrists, the Therapists, the Counselors trying to heal these people with soothing words. Telling them to let go of their anger and guilt. Let go of it? Use it. How could they free themselves from wrongs other people had done to them, while those other people walked unscathed.
She could grant them three wishes. And she did.
But now she was so tired. So tired and so alone.
She needed them to know that it was their fault that she had been able to carry on killing.
She ran her fingers over the picture of Fox Mulder and looked at the tall man leaving with his red haired partner. He had understood straight away. He had seen her in his head and told them how to identify her. Then he had given up as easily as the rest. How could he give up when he had known she was the real murderer? He was the least guilty and the most guilty. Just like her.
And because he was the most guilty she had to make sure he knew that it was his fault. That would be easy, he was an intelligent man, he’d understand however subtle the clue. But that wasn’t enough, they all had to understand. She laughed. Fox had a sense of humour, she’d heard him annoying that PR man, she’d seen Dana Scully’s mask of composure slip a couple of times at some remark he’d made. He would see the funny side of her next display.
And because he was the least guilty he would only die if she had to kill him and he wouldn’t have to help her kill.
But that partner of his. Now that could be interesting. An intelligent, strong woman with a haunted look of fear in her eyes. And Karen couldn’t even get to talk to Mulder with that redhead in his way. Physically and metaphorically. Dana Scully stood in Mulder’s way, blocking his vision.
Two birds with one stone, Dana Scully could help her. Dana looked as if she deserved some help with revenge, she could have three wishes. And Fox Mulder would be free to understand.
She looked at the Agents milling around the room. Dana and Fox had left. But they’d left a sea of activity and no little anxiety behind. She smiled cheerfully, she’d probably start getting a trail of new visitors to her office tomorrow.
She sighed as she thought of telling all those strong, tough Feds that it was OK to be scared. How little they knew. They had no idea how scared they should be.
Counselling the Bureau’s Agents was such fun. And it fitted in so well with her work in victim support. Synergy. And she met so many people who deserved her help. So many to help, but she couldn’t give them all three wishes.
And now. Now, she was tired. She had to lay down her burden. But first everyone had to understand. Others would have to know that she had to do this, because otherwise those people would never have got justice.
Dana could have three wishes. Then when they came to get her and Dana, she would take all of them with her. Everyone would understand. Justice.
Mulder was grateful for Nicholson’s suggestion that they go back to the Hotel and get an early night. He needed the rest, but guilt would have normally stopped him doing anything about it.
No sleep last night. Worth it though. Sleep would have got in the way of the waking dreams < nightmares? > that helped concentrate his mind. Made it easy to write the profiles. So easy. Too easy. But then he’d had five years to think about this one.
“Scully. I’m going to go straight up to my room.” He stopped and looked nervously at his partner. “Scully. You know, I said this was a show put on for our benefit. The locked rooms. The victims who didn’t struggle. It was deliberate. To attract us. We could be targets.”
“It’s Ok, I read the profile, heard your speech.”
He shrugged, hesitated, wished he could wrap her up and protect her, then nodded his head and said goodnight.
Scully watched him leave. Funny, they’d worked together for years now but he still missed the point at times. She was a Federal Agent, a good one, she wasn’t the one who dashed off into the night on some high risk wild goose chase. And as for taking care while she stayed at a Hotel. Of course she would. She might be a Fed, but that didn’t mean she would be sitting in a Hotel Bar on her own. She’d head to her room and order room service like lots of the other lone business women did.
The message light was flashing on her room phone. Dr Harker at the FBI office had called. Scully rang back to the office. Karen Harker had some files to bring over, was that OK? Scully had no problem agreeing.
Dana Scully’s head was reeling. Her throat was dry. Her eyes were itching. Focusing was difficult but she forced herself to look again. Her vague hope that it wasn’t real, that it had just been a nightmare, was leaving.
She looked again at the antiseptically white walls, the gleaming stainless steel. She felt the soft straps that were holding her gently but firmly to the bed. She wanted to scream.
Last time she screamed, Dr Harker had come running to her assuring her that everything was going to be all right. < All right > Dana knew that was a lie. If the situation she was in was even remotely ‘all right’ then Fox would have been sat in the room watching over her like some panic stricken guardian angel.
She thought back through the fog of drugs in her system and remembered. Talking to Karen Harker had been fun, relaxing. Dana had been treading carefully with Mulder for the last few days. He had been easy to upset and she had felt as if she was walking on eggshells whenever they spoke about the case. Karen was easy to talk to.
Better than that, Karen actually understood a lot about Dana’s life. Another Doctor. Another woman who had to fight for respect in the boy’s club. It was nice just being able to sit and chat with another woman who understood so much about her life.
She even understood about her and Mulder. < “So what about that good looking partner of yours. If you’re always too busy to meet anyone, at least he’s around and available.” > Normally Scully would have been annoyed by the innuendo, but coming from Karen it had seemed so good natured. < “No. We couldn’t risk it. We like working together too much to do anything that might get in the way.” > It had been a sad little dialogue, but even that had been quite refreshing. And Karen had lightened it with her comment of, “so the way’s clear for me to do a little fox hunting.” Dana remembered her giggled reply of, “well I wouldn’t go that far.”
< Mulder. Where are you? > Scully let herself drift back down into the pillows. < He would never let her live this down. > She bit her lip at the poor choice of words.
Karen sat back and smiled at her memories of the night before. That had been amazing. A relaxing evening of lighthearted girl talk with Dana Scully. She hadn’t anticipated that. They had so much in common. A burning desire to help the defenceless and do the right thing. It just showed in different ways.
Dr Karen Harker had seldom met someone more deserving of her help than Dana Scully. It had been a pity that she had needed to use drugs but Dana wasn’t going to let go enough otherwise. She wouldn’t even have left the Hotel if Karen hadn’t spiked the coffee. Karen sighed, it was a crude method. But Dane deserved to be helped and like many of the most deserving she wouldn’t ask for help or allow herself to be helped.
Karen had a problem. The drugs had relaxed Scully well enough for the hypnosis to work. But the things that Scully had told her. Well, if it was all true. No wonder it was so difficult to get Fox Mulder assigned to investigate her murders. She had tried often enough, but Fox and Dana seemed only to work on very weird cases, even weirder than hers. It had taken a lot of effort to get weird enough to get their attention.
She almost felt guilty about stopping Scully’s and Mulder’s work. But that thought quickly passed. If, she could keep the two of them out of harm’s way, that would be good. But she certainly couldn’t jeopardise her life’s work by trying to protect them.
She looked back at her computer terminal. She wanted to grant Dana three wishes. Dana had told her she didn’t want to kill anyone. Karen had promised her she didn’t have to. It had taken hours of work to identify three people. It was shocking, Dana had so many people she ought to hate, yet she couldn’t pick three to die. Or maybe that was the problem, maybe three was too few.
And now the people Dana had named were proving so hard to identify. Inevitable really. If they knew how to get to the people who had killed Melissa, Fox and Dana would have gone after them. Same with whoever killed Fox’s father. But then there was this mystery man, the man who Dana thought had ordered her abduction. < Extraordinary story, extraordinary. > The man who smoked cigarette’s in the Assistant Director’s no smoking office.
Scully wouldn’t discuss any of it while she was conscious. And it was all coming out so confused when she wasn’t. The computer search hadn’t yielded anything. Karen needed more time to talk to Dana. She hoped that Fox would give her the time. Exploring repressed memories was a delicate business.
Fox Mulder splashed cold water against his face again, let its icy touch reach through the feeling of nausea to talk to his brain. He rested, palms flat against the wall, leaning forwards, waiting for his head to clear. So easy looking calm and in control in a roomful of people. So difficult when he was alone.
How long had she been gone? He didn’t even know that. He had spoken to her last night at 8, maybe a quarter of an hour after he’d left her at the Reception Desk in the Hotel. He thought he’d come up with a pretty good excuse for calling. But the way she brushed him off told him that she recognised it for what it was, him checking up on her reaching the room.
Nicholson’s team were good. Working steadily over the old court cases. Looking for someone who wanted revenge. A victim. A relative. A friend. A lover. Too many possible suspects to dismiss any case too quickly.
The other group had just as tough a job searching for a female Doctor working somewhere in town, probably in Psychiatric work. A hospital. A clinic. Private practice.
Mulder had tried to help them prioritise, refine their processes. But it was slow work, it could take days. He didn’t know how many days Dana Scully had. He did know that he couldn’t keep this act up for days.
He had to speed things up. He had to clear his mind of the details, drop out of the comfort of working on the problem, working with other people. Switch off, let his mind freewheel and try and stop images of Dana Scully breaking into it.
So, he had gone for a walk, sat quietly outside. Looked for the missing links. Watched the rainbows playing in the droplets in the fountain.
Dana was not prone to making stupid mistakes, giving into sudden impulses. That was his prerogative. It had to be someone who she knew or would not be suspicious of. But, he didn’t think that she knew anyone round here. Could be a friend she hadn’t mentioned? But that didn’t seem to fit, it was quite late when they got back and she hadn’t made any comment about calling anyone. Could be someone from the case? That explanation seemed much more likely.
The murderer had probably found the accomplice during the course of her normal work. She had met a victim with a grudge against attorneys and a judge.
The picture started to emerge from the jigsaw puzzle. The threads tied in. The profile he had written for the killer was ready to get its finishing touches.
He had run back to the building. Had headed straight to the washroom as the churning sensation in his stomach had become too great.
So now here he was leaning against the wall. He pushed himself back and looked into he mirror. Took another deep breath. Combed his hair. Straightened his tie. Thought fleetingly, that if any of the Agents in the other room actually knew him they would see through his disguise pretty quickly.
< Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. > How could he have missed it? Quickly reminded himself that he could wallow in guilt later, right now he had to get back in there, get the investigation moving. Keep breathing.
Mulder went back into the office. Walked across to Nicholson. “Do you have any links with local victim support groups?”
“Yes, do you think they could help?”
“Could you get a list of women working for them?”
“Sure. I think one of the people who does counselling down here sometimes helps out. Karen Harker. She may know who works there.”
“Where is she today?”
“I haven’t seen her, I’ll get someone to find her for you.”
Mulder didn’t expect them to be able to find Dr Karen Harker. Someone who worked in victim support and who Scully might have spoken to at the FBI office or at least who could have phoned Dana from a FBI Office number? Too good a match to believe in coincidence.
So he was pretty convinced that he knew the killer’s name. For an instant, Nicholson’s eyes widened in disbelief. But it didn’t take long for him to follow the train of reasoning that gave them Karen Harker as their prime suspect.
After a few phone calls and a quick plausibility check. Nicholson’s team found themselves reassigned. One group were looking for Karen Harker. The other group refiltering the short list of court cases to identify who had been into therapy with Dr Harker.
Mulder fitfully started to page back through Karen’s employment history. Finding the killings that came in threes as markers in the cities where she had worked.
The six deaths he had worked on five years before tied into her first job after leaving Medical School. The first three had been hospital employees who from the placement of the faces were being accused of incompetence or indifference. Presumably she had felt that they had let patients die. She may not even have had an accomplice for those.
There was little he could do now except try and figure out where she might be hiding and where she might be hiding Scully. Nicholson’s team kept him busy with questions, asking his opinion on what type of victims would make the best candidates for the role of murderer’s accomplice.
Assistant Director Skinner had driven out to Atlantic City as soon as he could after he’d heard of Scully’s disappearance. He had an expectation of how Fox Mulder might be reacting. The tie ins to the old case were probably bad enough. But, in the past. when Skinner had seen Mulder’s unemotional veneer really crack, it was because Dana Scully was in danger. He could visualise the reactions of his unhappy Agent to this latest incident.
Except that this wasn’t really what Skinner had expected to see. Nicholson had admitted, with no slight embarrassment that Mulder had taken over the team. There had been no point Nicholson acting as go between so he was just coordinating follow up work.
Skinner watched as Mulder talked intently to a steady stream of Nicholson’s Agents. Minimal animation. Maximum concentration. He saw the Agents walking away with that same look of concentration in their eyes.
The media relations guy had made one final attempt at getting a hearing. At the start of the day, Mulder had repeated his insistence that Clarke stay out of his way. This time the language had been more colourful than on previous occasions. AD Skinner, studied Clarke for a moment before answering with a “excellent, so I trust you are doing so then?” Clarke was just grateful for his thick skin.
Skinner walked over to the table. “Agent Mulder.”
A familiar but unexpected voice startled Mulder to his feet. Perhaps not so unexpected but a surprise nonetheless.
“Agent Mulder, could you spare me a few moments? It’ll give you a chance to get a coffee as well.”
Mulder followed his boss to a quiet table in the corner of the cafeteria. Holding his nerves in check as he walked. Not sure how long he could keep looking calm and cool for if he wasn’t surrounded by lots of people with lots of distractions to keep his mind occupied.
Skinner watched as Mulder stared into a cup of coffee. “You ok?”
One day, Mulder thought, someone would ask that question and he would actually answer it, but not today. “We’re making progress but we need a break.”
Skinner ignored the fact that his question hadn’t been answered. “The package at the Hotel. What do you think Harker meant by it?”
Mulder thought of the package delivered that morning before breakfast. A dead fox wearing the face of the third victim. Grotesque. Fortunate that he had been expecting something like that to happen. “Doesn’t mean anything, just that she blames me for not catching her quicker. I think it was a joke.”
Skinner’s stomach churned at the idea of a joke. He stared back at Mulder.
Mulder saw Skinner’s uncomprehending stare and quickly explained that he thought Harker was more sophisticated and intelligent than such a coarse and obvious offering might suggest. It was intended to be ironic.
Mulder was convinced. He had to be convinced, that Scully had been chosen as an accomplice, not as a victim. Which meant that right now Dana was probably lying semi conscious somewhere trying to fend off Harker’s attempts to involve her in the next round of killings.
He told Skinner that Harker was hoping to impress them all with her final act of revenge. He just didn’t know what it was.
An Agent was hovering a few yards away. Not approaching, but clearly with something urgent to say. Mulder quickly excused himself from his conversation with his boss. Skinner watched the rapid discussion that followed. A discussion that ended with Mulder saying thankyou and returning with a file.
“David Scott. He could be the accomplice.” The man’s wife had been killed four years ago. Her murderer had gone free. The killer had been caught again and convicted two years and five dead women later. The Judge, the Defence, the Prosecutor all tied in with his wife’s death. David Scott had been seeing Dr Harker for three months, trying to finally come to terms with it. He had taken a month’s leave from work, the timing coincided with the start of the killings.
Nicholson’s Agents turned to looking for the locations that the accomplice could have supplied for Harker.
Dana Scully was alone. Alone and conscious. The world was hazy. She vaguely recalled a long conversation with Dr Harker. A conversation that seemed to be have been conducted while she was asleep. It seemed that they had been talking about the time Duane Barry had taken her and handed her over to.. Handed her over to who? She couldn’t remember. She’d been talking about it for hours but she still couldn’t remember.
That could wait. Getting away from here couldn’t. She tried to kick but her feet were held too firmly. Tried to move her arms but they were still in the restraints. Started to stretch and twist her fingers and wrist, felt just the smallest encouragement of movement in the wrist strap. If it was fixed with velcro. Not the most secure when the straps were left a little loose, but 100% safe if you were too tired or doped to really want to get away. Dana really wanted to get away.
If she got away. When she got away. She would want to talk to Karen again. Scully knew it was ridiculous impulse, but she was quite sure that Dr Harker now knew things about her that she herself didn’t. She concentrated on the task of getting free.
The nursing home was closed for refurbishment. David Scott was the architect but it would be another month before work started. He sat in the resident’s’ lounge feeling more relaxed than he’d done in the last four years. He had slept his first night without nightmares. He had been able to look at a photograph of his wife and think of her and smile.
Meeting Dr Harker had been the best thing that had ever happened to him. He couldn’t believe the difference she’d made to his life.
The last few weeks had been a little strange. He had seen the pictures on the TV of people in that Judge’s house. Read with horror and revulsion the stories in the press about the mutilated corpses. Terrifying and inhuman, but Karen had told him that the little piece of relief he felt as he discovered the names of two of the victims was perfectly natural.
He thought of her words. < ” If someone has to die, best that it’s someone who has failed to protect the lives of others.” > She didn’t belittle or diminish their deaths, just helped put them in context. She’d explained how he was seeing images of their dead faces simply because he had wanted them dead and was now feeling some misplaced guilt. Even though, Dr Harker had assured him, he had no way of controlling his thoughts.
He thought of the woman upstairs. Tried to remember why she was there. Only knew that it was right that she should be there. That Karen had said it was ok. He couldn’t remember the explanation but remembered that it had made a lot of sense when she told him about it.
It was time to take the food up to her.
Dana Scully heard the rattle of the key in the lock and quickly pulled her hands back under the bed covers.
She had expected to see Karen Harker in the doorway and wasn’t sure if she should be relieved when she saw, not Karen but this middle aged man. He smiled at her. She felt sick. He told her he had food for her and that he would help her to eat. She tried to push herself down into the folds of the sheet, recoiling from his smiling approach.
He positioned himself at her bedside and started to tell Dana what a wonderful Doctor, Karen Harker had been for him. She had made him feel so much better. He was sure that she could help Dana too, if only Dana would just relax and let herself be helped.
She waited for him to lean over the plate of food, engrossed in his task of cutting it into bite size pieces. Then she kicked out, arms and legs moving together to push the blanket over David Scott’s head. He was too shocked to retaliate as she clambered out of the bed pushing him over in the chair.
Out of the room, down the stairs and into the driveway. Now what? She looked around for a car, found one. No keys. She looked for the nearest house but they seemed to be out in the country or at least the grounds were so big they masked any homes from the house. She heard a man’s voice call out to her. She knew he had to be following her by now. She looked for somewhere to hide.
An Agent brought Mulder a list of houses that David Scott’s job would give him access to. A disused nursing home. A horribly appropriate choice.
There were quite a few places on the various lists that were worth following up but none of them sounded more attractive than the Nursing Home. They moved in on it gently, worried that Karen might be there. Worried by what she might do. Worried that this might have been part of her plan for making her point in style.
They needn’t have worried. Only David and Dana were at the Nursing Home this evening. Their Doctor was busy with other matters.
David Scott was baffled by all the fuss. Dana Scully, was that her name? Scully was being well looked after. Why were they so concerned? Why had she run away from him?
Mulder shouted Dana’s name. Told them to switch the cars’ sirens on. Scully looked edgily out of the tool shed where she had placed herself. Saw the cars. Saw her partner. She summoned up as much dignity as she could and walked towards the cars and people massed in front of the home. Trying to look dignified in her grass stained hospital gown was not the easiest thing to do. They switched off the sirens.
She was stopped in her tracks by a tall, smiling figure who handed her his jacket.
She looked up at him. “Thanks. Mulder.”
“I really screwed up didn’t I?”
“Sorry. I owe you one.”
“You can take it off my tab.”
Mulder drove Scully back to the Hotel. He had wondered at first about trying to stop her coming back to work, send her back to Washington with Skinner, make her get some rest. But she didn’t want to know about resting, “I’ve been in bed since yesterday.” He decided to forget about it, maybe he’d prefer it if he could keep an eye on her.
Mulder knew that he was getting better. He couldn’t hear his heart beating any more. Wasn’t having to think about breathing. Didn’t need to concentrate so hard to hear what was being said to him. Couldn’t feel his finger nails cut into his hands as he clenched his fists.
He tried to let Dana shower, dry her hair, get dressed in peace. But it was hard not to get impatient. They needed to find Karen Harker. Agents were out looking for her. But the best clues to finding her were probably in Dana Scully’s head. He prowled the room trying to stop himself from nagging her
As she walked through the bedroom, she knew Mulder was looking at her. She recognised the intensity of the look. It was the same look he had when a new a potentially interesting case file arrived in the in tray and he was being delayed in reading it by some inconvenience like a phone call from Skinner. The same look he gave to the contents of a particularly useful evidence bag.
This was going to be an interrogation, she didn’t think she was ready for that. She thought about delaying tactics and about ways to make sure he couldn’t push too hard.
She looked innocently across the room, “let’s get some food, I’m starving.”
He looked back, recognised the stalling for what it was. < Let her have a little breathing space. > Feeling more than a little annoyed with himself for his lack of subtlety, he nodded.
Scully felt her heart sink as she looked through the door of the Diner. It was already very late and the place was almost deserted. It wasn’t going to give her much protection from the expected onslaught. They ordered their food.
< No point pretending, she’s not naive. > He looked over at her. “Who did you ask Karen to kill?”
She’d known what was coming, but the abruptness still made her reel. She shouldn’t have been surprised, she’d watched him in action often enough before. He had never used the techniques on her. If anything he had always been reluctant to push her about her memories, her reactions. Even when sometimes she would have liked him to.
She stuttered her reply. “I didn’t. Well I don’t remember doing.”
He just watched her, like he had set the camera to take pictures on its own and now he was just waiting for the flash to light and the shutter to click.
So they sat quiet for a little while before she carried on. “I think she may have got me to talk about when I was taken by Duane Barry. I think I might have remembered some things from while I was missing. I know I told her about Melissa, about your father.”
He considered the answer. It wasn’t enough. The operatives who carried out the actions against Melissa and his father weren’t suitable targets. “Who would you have told her was responsible?”
She looked at her hands and said nothing.
“You’ve got to try Scully. Whoever you named is a target and whoever is around them will probably die, because Karen’s ready to die now.”
He let the silence lie between them. A long still quiet.
Scully spoke softly. “I think I told her about Cancer man.”
“But you wouldn’t have been able to give her much on him.”
“I may have told her that he smoked cigarettes in Skinner’s office.”
He inhaled sharply and called Skinner’s cellular.
A second call, this time to Nicholson.
He wanted to drive straight back to Washington. But, Skinner’s orders had been explicit, “don’t drive back tonight, let her get some rest, there are plenty of Federal Agents already in Washington to handle this.” Mulder knew that made sense. Finish their meals. Get some sleep. Be ready to continue the hunt fresh in the morning.
Karen wasn’t Dr K. Harker anymore. Today she was Special Agent Diana Cooper. She had a badge to prove it. Wonderful having friends, ‘clients’, in the Bureau’s administration office. What a lovely shiny badge. Agent Henderson had been only too pleased to get it for her and he’d forgotten all about it, she had made certain he had. No harm done, Agent Henderson wouldn’t need to feel guilty about it.
Dana’s case was very complex. So many repressed memories. The memories that were available, so jumbled and difficult to interpret. She wished she had more time to discuss things with her. But she knew that, at last, she finally was running out of time. She could tell the hunters were snapping at her heels.
And she would have liked to get to know Fox. It had taken five years to attract his attention. She really would have liked to explore what went on in his head. But after five years waiting for him to arrive, he hadn’t even given her five days to get to know him. She hadn’t even got to talk to him. A pity.
Still, Dana’s needs for revenge fitted in with Karen’s < Diana’s ? > own needs so beautifully.
Assistant Director Skinner may not have been responsible for Dana Scully’s pain. At least not directly. But he hadn’t stopped that man from using her. Even after that man with the cigarettes had nearly got her killed, Skinner hadn’t stopped him. Skinner still let that dreadful man send Dana and Fox in unprepared, to the most dangerous cases. A drug company practising with a killer contagion on prison inmates? People were so extraordinarily cruel.
And everyone would understand the other message, Karen’s own message. Department of Justice? How it failed so many people, it even failed to stop her. Justice.
She was a blonde now. A buxom one. Not easily mistaken for the attractive brunette with the slender frame that was on the warning posters by the Security Guard’s desk. She smiled. The guard smiled back. What a lovely building. She walked straight to the elevator.
Of course, even the first person she asked, knew where the Assistant Director’s office was.
Mulder’s patience was starting to give and his paranoia was starting to cut in as he stood in Skinner’s outer office. “Could you just let him know we’re here?”
“He said he wasn’t to be disturbed.” Skinner’s Secretary had been surprised when Skinner had told her that over the intercom. It wasn’t as if he had visitors or anything. Perhaps he just needed to get some work completed. Maybe because that arrogant man who insisted on smoking was going to be coming over later that morning. She hated it when that man visited, it left her boss in a bad mood for hours.
Mulder kicked the impatience out of his voice, smiled lightly. “I think he won’t mind talking to us, I was on the phone to him at midnight, he said we were to report in as soon as we got back. It’ll only take a minute. If you’ll just let him know.” Another smile.
She flicked on the intercom and asked the question.
An abrupt growl from the other room, “I’m not seeing anyone.”
Mulder flicked the intercom back to talk. “Sir. We need to see you, we only need a minute.”
A long delay, then Skinner’s voice. “One more argument Agent Mulder and you’re on a charge for insubordination, now leave.”
“Either we get to see you face to face or I ask for backup and we get to see you anyway. It’ll only take a minute.”
“Look Fox, I’m busy. Make an appointment. I’ve given you and Dana a direct order. Now do it.”
Fox? Dana? If he’d had any doubts a moment earlier, he had none now. Skinner needed help, needed it now. He picked up the phone and a few seconds later he was talking to security.
Dana Scully stood uncomfortably in Skinner’s outer office studying her partner intently.
She hadn’t been able to talk to anyone for so long, well anyone apart from Karen.
When the case had started she was worried about Mulder’s reaction to it. All her questioning of him had managed to do was to put him into such a defensive stance that he had thrown the switch marked ‘FBI Agent’ and locked her out.
Once the case started to unfold it became increasingly obvious that he was right. She had felt useless on the case and even a little foolish.
Then Karen came. It had taken a little while for Karen to get past the layers of Dana’s defences. But she had done it. No doubt about it. Karen knew things about Dana Scully that Dana Scully didn’t know about herself. And it had only taken her a matter of hours to do it.
She watched Mulder. Getting past Skinner’s Secretary with that innocent smile. Jumping to outrageous conclusions after hearing only a few seconds of Skinner’s voice. Having his conclusions confirmed by a provocative question. Saw him pick up the phone and talk to Security, looking away from her distracted as he started to explain the problem to the sceptic on the other end of the line.
Dana Scully walked past her partner back to the intercom, she pressed the button to speak. “Karen. You’re in there aren’t you? I need to talk to you, there’s things I told you that I need to know.”
Mulder was giving the suspicious security man what little he knew. An unknown threat from a known assailant. Was he sure? Sure enough that if he was wrong they could pin the whole sorry mess on him.
Mulder didn’t hear the click as Skinner’s door unlocked. Didn’t notice Dana run into the office until it was too late. The door slammed shut, the lock reset.
Karen’s right hand held her gun. Her left held a briefcase. The briefcase held two flasks of chemical. A sharp pull of the locking clasp and the chemicals would mix. Poisoning would be instantaneous, death would take a few minutes. Karen’s hand kept the gun level at Skinner’s head.
She had been happy to sit and wait for Dana’s enemies. She would be happier when they walked into the room. She would be happiest of all when everyone was in place and she could pull the clasp on her case and end the story.
She was surprised to hear Fox Mulder’s voice on the intercom but she had been delighted by Skinner’s measured performance.
But hearing Dana calling for her was more than she could bear. She could never leave a patient in distress, in pain. Dana needed to know more from the time she had forgotten. Karen could at least give her that release.
Karen Harker walked carefully to the door. Put the briefcase down carefully on the floor. She didn’t let her gaze or her aim waiver from Skinner. Unlocked the door. Dana rushed in just as Karen had anticipated. Karen only just managed to slam the door in time to stop that partner of hers from following.
Karen asked Dana for her gun. Scully hesitated, knowing that she mustn’t hand it over. But Karen’s voice was so soothing, so calm. She recognised the relaxing lilt of Karen’s words, knew that she was only doing what she felt she had to.
All the while, Dana Scully kept remembering that Karen knew things that she wanted to hear, had to hear. The gaps in her memory were terrifying but she had learned to keep thoughts of them at bay. But there was no way she could ignore the possibility that Karen could help her to unlock them, had already unlocked some of them. She had to give herself that chance to know the truth.
This was going to be her best chance to find out what had happened to her. Her first real opportunity to snatch back those missing weeks. She had to try. She lifted her jacket so Karen could remove the gun from its holster.
And then a noise like thunder. A single shot from Skinner’s gun had sent Karen falling against a chair.
“Noooo.” Dana screamed.
Scully followed Karen to the floor. AD Skinner ran to where the two women lay in one another’s arms. One screaming. The other silent. He picked up Karen’s gun and unlocked the office door. He wasn’t surprised when Mulder nearly ran him over as he entered the room. Skinner spoke quickly, “she’s ok, Harker’s dead, Scully’s ok.”
Mulder stopped for an instant, tried to make sense of what Skinner had just told him. Looked at Dana, saw her tears as she tried to rock Karen back to life. Closed his eyes.
He should have known that Dana’s hours under the influence of Karen’s mind and Karen’s drugs hadn’t just switched off when he met her at that Nursing Home. Why hadn’t he seen it coming? He felt sick. All he’d done when she’d got back to the Hotel was interrogate her, treat her like another witness. No, not even that, he’d effectively accused her of being an accomplice.
The security crew started to arrive. Skinner told them to arrange for the safe disposal of the briefcase and its chemical weapon. Told them to deal with Karen Harker.
Dana didn’t want to let go of Karen. Mulder had pulled her away. She had let him lead her out of the building. He had driven her home. Waited for her to shower and change. Put her bloodstained clothes away in an evidence bag, just in case.
He sat with her. Desperate to talk, but keeping silent. He knew that if he spoke he would sound like he was interrogating her again. Even if he didn’t say it, she’d hear the word ‘why’ in his voice. She’d recognise the Psychologist that was talking, see that more easily than she would see the friend who was terrified for her well being.
His adrenaline high had collapsed as soon as Skinner had fired on Harker. Now Mulder just felt dead, running on empty for too many days. Emotions, reactions switched off. Knowing he had no way to switch them back on. Watching Dana struggling, but knowing he had no way of reaching her. Tried to touch her hand, but it felt dead, lifeless, she was switched off too.
He wished that she would talk to him. He didn’t actually expect her to.
So he just sat quietly by her side on the couch until she agreed to let him drive her to her mother’s. Told her that Skinner had said she had to stay away from work for a few days.
She walked into her mother’s house without a word.
END So if you’re still here and reading – thanks for staying with it – hope you enjoyed it. Joann
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