Matrix Part 1

cover

Matrix

by Humbuggie

Based on an idea by Roxcatje

(c) 2001

Situation: This story has been written for

‘Virtual Season Nine’.

Rated R for some explicit language

Type: Profiling X-File, M/S MRS

Story: New York City’s Finest cannot stop a

serial killer from running havoc throughout

the city, leaving his mark on the city. Fox

Mulder is contacted by an old friend and

asked for help, thus turning the killer’s

attention on him, and forcing him into a

deadly cat & mouse-game across town. But the

agent has no idea the price he has to pay is

very high.

Disclaimer: Do I need to remind you that our

beloved FBI duo is not mine? They belong to

CC. But since he’s not using him to the best

of his abilities, the XF fanfic writers are.

First we’ll take Manhattan,

Then we’ll take Berlin

— Leonard Cohen

Matrix

Teaser

Day One, December 8, 2001

New York City

For the occasion he drove a white ’89 Chevy.

Stolen. He left his comfortable home outside

of town to drive up to her house in

Manhattan. Crossing the George Washington

Bridge he found himself staring at the

skyline.

He had no respect for the one he was going to

kill first. She was just to draw attention.

She would bring the crowd to the city and

make sure they feared him. He had chosen her

carefully as his first victim, knowing she

would live up to his expectations. She lived

in Manhattan, the heart of the rich city. He

met her during fundraisers. He had watched

her the day before at the Franklin Mason

Benefit. And he knew he would kill her.

She always used the remote to enter her

garage. She did this night too. Immediately,

the garage door opened. She drove inside and

turned off the engine.

The garage door was already closing when he

slipped into the darkness of the large space,

hiding himself for one moment behind the

Beamer. He dropped the bag soundlessly on the

floor, and waited until she opened the car

door, sliding his own body from behind the

Beamer until he stood right before her. She

didn’t hear or see him coming. If she had,

she wouldn’t have had time to scream. He

grabbed her by the arm and wrist, pulling her

further out of the car. She nearly fell, but

he held her firmly.

“Start walking,” he hissed in her ear,

planting her firmly on her feet. Pushing her

forward towards the door he watched her every

move, knowing there was an alarm set and that

she would need to type in the code to get

inside. She changed it every week and he knew

it would not be same as when he had once

spent the night there.

“Open the door,” he ordered, “one wrong move

and you’re dead, Susannah. You know I’ll snap

your neck just like that.”

Her hands were shaking while she opened the

door, tapping in the code as quickly as she

could. He memorized it. Then she used her key

to open the back door. He shoved her inside

and closed the door quickly behind him. She

grimaced and turned around quickly.

“What the hell are you doing?” she asked as

she caught her breath.

He didn’t respond.

“What do you want?” she asked. “Sex? Is that

what this is about?”

He slowly nodded his head. “I’m afraid you’ve

got it all wrong, lovely Susannah,” he

whispered in her ear. “I didn’t come here for

the sex this time. I came here to get other

pleasures.”

She paled and swallowed away the lump in her

throat. Her soft voice changed its tone. For

the first time in her life she knew she

didn’t have the power over someone that she

thought she would have forever. She became

afraid.

“It’s not too late, is it?” she asked

nervously.

He sighed. “I’m afraid it is.”

He grabbed her wrist to keep her in the room.

“No, please,” she whispered, her voice

changing its tone. He looked into her eyes,

staring into the fear. He concentrated on her

thoughts and captured them with the powers

that made him so special. Then he went into

her mind and caught the name of the person

that she thought of at that exact moment. She

screamed because his intrusion cut through

her brain like a knife. Her head seemed to

burst and her agony was so strong that she

forgot for one second that she was going to

die. And he smiled.

“Thank you,” he said, “you just gave me my

next victim.”

He suddenly let her go, and she fell. She

crawled and struggled to get up, but his

hands were already around her throat,

squeezing the life out of her until she

passed out. He stopped. He didn’t want to

strangle her and have it over with yet.

Carefully, he placed her on the couch.

When he was finished, he kissed her softly on

the lips again. He said goodbye to her

sleeping form, and then left the way he had

come, using the code to seal off the house.

His leathered hand pushed the automatic

garage door button. He walked out and waited

for the garage door to close before he left

into the night.

Inside the house the telephone was ringing

loudly.

Susannah vaguely became aware of a sound

outside of her dreams. She forced her eyes

open, reaching immediately for her sore

throat, moaning when she moved her damaged

wrist by accident. Oh god, she remembered it

all in an instant. Her head felt dizzy, she

had to claw into the fabric of the couch she

was lying on.

The last thing Susannah heard was a deafening

noise in her ears, and the last thing she saw

was the immense fire that blew up in her

face. A sharp sound penetrated her ears and a

pain, worse than anything she had experienced

before came to take her away. Then her body

blew up with the rest of her house, leaving

nothing but shattered pieces of flesh and

bone and fabric all over the place. Leaving

her with nothing but blinding loneliness

where there was nothing left for her but

death.

Act 1

Day Two, December 9, 2001

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Washington, DC

Special Agent Dana Scully knew they were in

desperate need of vacations, but it would

still be another sixteen days before Christmas

arrived, and even then it wasn’t so sure they

would actually be enjoying some time off. It

was about time though, she thought. It seemed

forever since they had some time to

themselves. Last week she was still trying to

stop Mulder from going insane, and now –

despite the fact it was rather quiet at the

office – it felt as if they couldn’t simply

wind down and relish the fact they were both

still well.

Funny, how time passed so quickly in these

offices. Even more comical was how quickly

they both recuperated after going through

such ordeals. It seemed so easy at times that

it frightened her. Sooner or later they

wouldn’t be that fortunate and they would not

forget. But last night at Mulder’s, it had

seemed as if all was back to normal and they

were both getting over last week’s disaster.

It was behind them and once again they were

moving on.

The phone rang shaking from her from her

thoughts. “Scully,” she answered, listening

to Kim who invited her and Mulder to come see

Skinner instantly. “Mulder’s not here,” she

explained, “but I’ll leave a note.”

She hung up, scribbled a note that she left

on his desk, and hurried to Skinner’s office.

She arrived just as Mulder stepped out of the

elevator and walked over to her. He seemed

distraught and tired, probably just like she

was. They really did need to catch up on

their sleep.

“Hey,” she said, putting her hand on his

wrist for a second while glancing nervously

down the hall. Her little gestures could give

their relationship away but she couldn’t help

touching him. That single gesture always told

him how much she cared, and when he smiled

back, she knew she had just made his day.

“Hey,” he said back. “Skinner wants to see

us?”

“Yeah, you were pretty quick. Did you beat

the world-record reading little notes to get

up here?”

He smiled. “I didn’t go to the office. I just

bumped into Kim downstairs in the lobby making

a Starbucks run, and she told me. Do you know

why he wants to see us?”

“Since I know it’s not tickets to Hawaii, I

guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

He grinned. “If you’re feeling bored, Agent

Scully, I can always give you a case of a

headless monkey born out of the belly of a

dog with paranormal powers.”

She stuck out her tongue before opening the

door to the small reception area, “No thanks.

I’ll take Skinner’s case at any time.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Agent

Scully,” Skinner said from the doorway as he

watched his agents enter. “Come in. We don’t

have much time.”

“We, sir?” Mulder asked, curious as to who

else would be waiting for them inside the

man’s office.

Skinner invited them in. Mulder looked up

surprised as Assistant Director Frank Smythe

got out of his seat before the desk and

offered his hand. Reluctantly Scully shook

the man’s hand. She realized instantly they

were up for a Violent Crimes Section case. A

rofiling case. About a month ago she had

first met Frank Smythe during a briefing.

Smythe had been introduced as Tom Alexander’s

replacement after Alexander’s unexpected

death.

Smythe seemed like a decent enough man, but

right now Scully couldn’t really be grateful

for the assignment, especially since they

were both so tired and had just been through

a difficult run of cases.

Smythe smiled politely and sat down again as

the others took a seat. “Agents, I think I

might have an interesting case for you. I

have run through the file with AD Skinner and

he has confirmed to me that he’s willing to

‘lend’ you two for a couple of days to sort

this thing out for us.”

“What kind of case?” Scully asked, already

dreading the answer. “Serial killer?”

“Not exactly.” Frank shoved the file in

Mulder’s direction, catching the agent’s eyes

as Mulder opened it surprised. He wasn’t

prepared for the first photo and blinked a

couple of times before closing the file

again. Smythe saw him wince and nodded, “I

had the exact same reaction when I first saw

it. It’s horrible, I know.”

Scully reached for the file and opened it.

She too felt a knot in her stomach as she

stared at the photo of what appeared to be a

deformed corpse, missing bits and pieces as

it had been blown to smithereens. The body

was black and hardly in one piece. There was

nothing left of it to declare it human. Yet

it could be identified instantly as a corpse.

“Lovely,” Scully muttered. “A bombing?”

“Yes. Right in the center of New York, can

you believe that? The city is turned upside

down. Everyone is in uproar because of this.

People are talking political bombing again.

They want blood. Fortunately we calmed

them down a bit by stating we would put our

best men on it. Didn’t you hear about this on

the news last night and this morning?”

“I didn’t listen to any news,” Mulder said

almost at the same time as Scully. The two

glanced at each other.

“I’m sorry,” Mulder continued, “why exactly

are you coming to us with this? If this is a

terrorist action, shouldn’t their Task Force

be doing this?”

“This isn’t a terrorist action,” Skinner

said. “This was murder.”

“With a bomb?” Mulder asked surprised.

“Yeah,” Smythe said. “With a bomb. There are

no terrorists involved, Mulder. The target

was a civilian, a woman who had many admirers

and enemies. Someone chose her for this

repulsive death but not because she was of

political importance. The mayor knows that by

now, as does the Senate. But this is already

a high profile case and you will be watched

from the moment you step into it. You should

be aware of that.”

“That still doesn’t explain why you’ve come to

us with this case,” Scully remarked.

Smythe smiled. “I know, Agent Scully. This is

officially not an FBI matter … yet.

There’s someone else that is interested in

solving it, but he specifically asked for you

even though he’s in charge. He sought FBI

assistance and came to me to request you. He

says he’s an old friend of yours. In fact,

I’ve had the pleasure of working with him in the

past, too.”

“Who?” Mulder asked curiously as he leaned

forward a bit. His interest was caught,

Scully saw, and she feared that he would take

a case that wasn’t even theirs to begin with

just because the right person was involved.

“Jack Campbell.”

This time Mulder’s attention was caught and

won over by Smythe. Slowly the agent rose out

of his chair and said, “No way.”

“Someone you know?” Scully asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Mulder said with a grin and a nod.

“Jack was a profiler, we started out together.

Then he up and left, went to work for New York’s

Finest. I lost track of him, I don’t know

what he’s been up to recently.”

“You can ask him yourself,” Smythe said. “He’s

on his way down from New York to see you this

morning. In fact, I think he might already

have arrived and is probably waiting in your

office right now.”

“He is?” Mulder asked even more surprised.

“He flew out from New York this morning?”

“Yes. I told him to go to your

office and meet you there.”

“I still don’t understand why he wants me

on this case,” Mulder said, shaking his head.

“That is a question you should also ask him,”

Smythe said. “I gather that you are taking

this case?”

Mulder didn’t respond, but his eyes sparked

with the knowledge that he would see a lost

friend again soon.

*******

Day Two, December 9, 2001

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Washington, DC

A tall, slim man with blonde hair sat at

Mulder’s desk, looking at the office that

seemed strange to him. He had heard rumors

that Mulder had been involved with paranormal

activity, but he had never thought it was

true. Yet when he called a few friends at the

Bureau the night before they had confirmed it.

Jack Campbell was a man of impulse. Ten years

ago he had changed his FBI outfit for an

NYPD outfit, choosing New York because he was

born and raised there, and the police

department because he felt he was doing no

good at the FBI. Before he had been recruited

for the Bureau, he was destined to become a

cop anyway. His father had been one, and his

grandfather before him. When he was

recruited, they had been upset.

Jack had been very good at his job.

The NYPD had been difficult. But in the end

his track record showed he was worth the

effort, and he received a promotion again

within the year, this time running six other

detectives in his own little Homicide

Investigation Unit.

Finally the door opened but instead of

Mulder, the petite, female agent entered

first. She was talking to Mulder and then

stopped, surprised that their guest was

sitting at Mulder’s desk. Campbell knew her

name was Dana Scully and that she had been

Mulder’s partner for years, but he stopped at

her attractiveness and candor. He liked her

instantly and when her eyes caught his, he

knew she liked him too.

Mulder came in behind her and Campbell

smiled, almost in relief, as he recognized

his old friend instantly.

“You see, Scully?” Mulder quipped, “I knew

there was a reason to keep my New York Knicks

T-shirt.”

Campbell grinned widely and fished inside his

pocket, delivering three tickets that he

waved in the air. “I knew I could still bribe

you the same old way,” he smiled. Mulder

stepped forward and embraced his old friend.

Jack accepted the embrace and patted Mulder on the back.

“Next time you shouldn’t wait ten years to

pay off your debts, Campbell,” Mulder

grinned, tucking the tickets in his pocket.

“Yeah, well, it took me a while to pull some

strings for these seats,” Campbell answered

as they let go of each other. Mulder turned

slightly and said, “Jack Campbell, meet Dana

Scully. Scully, this is Campbell, the terror

of New York.”

“Nice to meet you,” Scully said, shaking his

offered hand. “I can’t say I’ve heard much

about you though. In fact, your visit comes

as quite a surprise.”

“To all of us, Agent Scully,” Jack said as he

leaned comfortably at the edge of the desk.

“Believe me, I didn’t know I was going to be

here yesterday either, but I do need your

help and I had to find a way to stop you from

refusing.”

“You could have asked me over the phone,”

Mulder said. “Of course I would have come.

Now that you’re here though, tell me what’s

going on.”

“Actually, I sent you a short email yesterday

to tell you I was on the way. You should

check your mailbox more often,” Campbell

grinned.

“Sorry. I’m usually out chasing aliens. Now,

speak.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to discuss the

case with AD Smythe and your boss at the same

time. It’s a long, difficult story to

explain, and we don’t have much time to go

through the details. Our flight leaves at

two. I know I might have gone too far in

assuming you are going, but I couldn’t wait

for the bookings. This case is too important

and needs your help.”

“That sounds serious enough,” Mulder said.

“Actually they’re already expecting us.

Skinner said they would be waiting for us.”

Campbell opened the door for Scully and let

her walk out first. He followed next to

Mulder who found his friend had changed.

There was a haunted look in Jack’s eyes. He

hid something.

As they took the elevator, Campbell asked how

his friend was doing.

“As good as can be expected,” Mulder said,

who couldn’t help but stare at Scully

standing right in front of him. Campbell

caught the glance, feeling a sting in his

belly. He too glanced at someone this way

years ago. And now that person was dead and

he was on his own again, wondering how he

could change his life for the better.

Campbell blinked and shook his head slightly.

He shouldn’t be daydreaming like this. That

was then and this was now, and now he needed

to solve a case as soon as possible.

Walter Skinner immediately took a liking to

Mulder’s friend as they were

introduced. Earlier that morning, Smythe had

used scanned prints of the murder scene, but

now Campbell opened his debriefing with the

original photos. There were six all together,

taken from different angles showing the

damage done to the house and victim.

“Her name was Susannah Delany, age thirty-

four. “This is her when she was still alive

and kicking. And this…” yet another photo

going into Mulder’s hands, “this is her when

she died. Not a pretty sight, I can tell you

that. I saw the real thing and haven’t felt

much like eating since.”

“You are handling this as a murder case?”

Mulder asked. “You told the AD that they were

first talking terrorists?”

“Yes. Fortunately I was able to calm down the

Mayor’s Office and the Governor’s. The

explosion could be heard miles away. The

house was blown to kingdom come, taking two

other houses with it. There were no other

victims. The bombing was most definitely

focused on Susannah. The bomber used an

inventive wiring system to trick her. She was

trapped inside her own home. When she picked

up the phone, she triggered the bomb and left

nothing of her. If she would have touched the

door, she would have died too.”

Mulder glanced at the photo of the beautiful

woman who smiled into the camera. She looked

like the All-American girl. Yet someone had

killed her in the cruelest way possible. For

someone to do that, he or she must have felt

a huge resentment toward her.

“She was a well known figure in New York

society,” Campbell said. “I met her a couple

of times as well. She was popular amongst a

certain crowd but she was also nicknamed ‘The

Slut’ in some circles. She led a very complex

life.”

“So what are your thoughts then?” Mulder

asked. “Surely you must be following a

certain direction?”

“Right now we’re still exploring, Mulder,”

Campbell confessed. “But we need a profiler

on this case and I thought of you instantly.”

“Why me?” Mulder asked. “We’ve got a few

profilers working in New York.”

“I know, but I wanted you for the job because

I know your style and how you think. I

believe that together we might have this

solved within a few days. If I have to work

with a profiler I’m not familiar with, it

might take a while and we might be grasping

at straws. With everyone breathing down my

neck, I cannot afford that. So basically, I

need you, Mulder.” Campbell smiled. “And of

course you knew those tickets didn’t come

cheap.”

Mulder didn’t smile back, still wondering

what Campbell was concealing from him. It was

strange that he would come back for him after

ten years, believing he was still doing the

same job at the same office as if those past

ten years hadn’t existed. And how could he

still remember every detail of his work while

so much had happened in between? No, there

was a catch. But Mulder would find out soon

enough what it was. He could tell that

Campbell was eager to talk to him in person

without others watching them.

“Okay,” Mulder said, “I’ll do it.”

Scully opened her mouth to protest, but

realized she couldn’t stop this. She only had

to take a look at the photos to realize what

disaster had been caused.

“We’ve got ourselves a madman, Agent Scully,”

Campbell said softly. “And my gut feeling

tells me he has just begun. A man who does

this will not stop with one kill. We need to

go through details today before tomorrow he

kills another one. He knew this woman, yet he

killed her. Shouldn’t we stop him from going

through his list of ‘friends’ before -”

“Wait a minute,” Scully said, “he knew her?

How can you be so sure?”

“There was an alarm set. She couldn’t have

put it on because she was trapped inside the

house. He knew the alarm and set it before he

walked out again. He could only have done

that if he knew her. She never gave out that

code to anyone.”

Mulder glanced at his watch. It was nearly

noon. In two hours their flight would leave.

He thought of the overnight bag that he had

used when he spent the night at Scully’s. It

was set to go. He got up and looked at

Scully. “You are free to stay here, Scully,”

he said formally. “But I’m going to accept

this case. Though it is a profiling case, I

could use your help for the autopsy and

details.”

Scully got up, knowing she would not let

Mulder go on his own. “Let’s go then,” she

said.

Campbell smiled and said his goodbyes to

Skinner and Smythe. Then Skinner got up as

well and followed the agents outside. Mulder

looked surprised at him as he said, “I’m

going too.”

“Sir?” Mulder asked surprised.

Campbell grinned at Mulder’s surprise. “Your

boss gave his permission on the condition

that I would book him a ticket too. He’s in

charge of the two of you.”

Two hours later two agents, an Assistant

Director, and a New York cop got on a flight

out to the Big Apple where a killer awaited

them.

ACT 2

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

He knew by watching the news they were

investigating.

For tonight however he had already chosen his

next victim. No, Susannah had chosen him.

Her mind had given him the way to the man

that might have been the only one she ever

truly loved. Why else would he have been the

last person on her mind before passing out?

He knew the man by name and in person.

Stephen Wells was his name. He was forty-

seven years old and a bachelor. He was a kind

man, in fact, the opposite of what Susannah

had been. He didn’t deserve this death, yet

it could not be avoided. Susannah had picked

him out.

Wells lived in luxury but only to an extent.

He worked in an office on the other side of

town where he always worked late. There he

would die. Every morning he arrived around

ten o’clock after his daily jog. At night he

often stayed until nine, unless he was

entertaining or invited to a party. He didn’t

have many other hobbies other than that. He

supported charities and had been at the

Franklin Mason Benefit.

That morning the killer had walked into the

office building in as if he were an employee

of the CPA Corporation on the third floor,

but instead had taken the elevator up to the

tenth floor where Wells worked. There he had

taken a quick look around and muttered an

apology to the receptionist when he got

caught being on the wrong floor.

He had hurried back down and knew that

tonight he would come back around eight, when

everyone was at home except for Wells. Anyone

else that would be there was out of luck.

The killer looked up at the TV-screen when

Jack Campbell was mentioned as being in

charge of the case. The reporter also

mentioned an FBI profiler was now on the

case. An interview with Campbell followed. It

had been taped the night before, right

outside Susannah’s shattered house. The

killer raised his glass and got out of his

seat, tapping it against the television

screen. “Here’s to you and your profiler,

Jack. May the best man win.”

Then he picked up his ready-made bag and left

for the office. Tonight would indeed be a

victorious night.

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

Mulder deliberately chose the seat next to

Campbell, glancing apologetically at Scully.

She nodded, knowing he had to talk to his

friend. After the plane took off for the

short flight, the agent spoke.

“Now tell me, Jack, why did you really

contact me?”

Jack looked aside, not even surprised with

the question. “You really cannot accept that

I picked you out because of your expertise,

can you?”

“I read your email, Jack. You practically

stated in it that you experience paranormal

experiences. I’ve got this feeling they have

a lot to do with why you contacted me.”

Jack sighed and rubbed his head, trying to

escape the headache that seemed to come and

go during the day. He knew he wasn’t meant to

lie to Mulder, but how could he explain his

reasoning when he didn’t even understand it

himself?

“I knew you weren’t a profiler anymore,” Jack

whispered.

Mulder glanced towards him curiously. “You

knew?” he asked. “Then why -?”

“I thought that you, with your expertise in

the paranormal, would understand me better

than anyone else. I didn’t ask you for your

profiler skills, but because of your

paranormal expertise.”

Mulder leaned forward and whispered, “Are you

saying this is an X-File?”

“If you want to call it that way. Yes and no,

I don’t know, Mulder. There’s something about

this case that I can’t explain. I know we

have the bombing. The evidence is there.

The murder happened in a natural way. She

died because of that bomb. Yet there’s

something I can’t put my finger on. I don’t

know what it is. It’s been bugging me since I

got the call yesterday about her death.”

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

Campbell laughed. “Come on. You know they

would take me off at once. You of all people

should know what it’s like to fight against

those with preconceived notions.”

“What makes you think this is paranormal?”

Mulder asked. “You said it yourself: All the

evidence is there. There’s nothing abnormal

about the case, and -”

“Look.” Campbell glanced behind him, hoping

that Skinner and Scully couldn’t hear. He

didn’t know them well enough to confide in

them just yet. He wanted to keep his little

secret between Mulder and himself. “There’s

something you should know, Mulder. Something

that might change the way you look at our

friendship.”

“You’re a woman,” Mulder remarked quasi-

shocked.

Campbell laughed. “No, it’s not that bad.”

Mulder grinned. “So you can’t surprise me

anymore. Now tell me.”

Campbell sighed deeply and looked forward. “I

was recruited for the Bureau, not because of

my skills or expertise or brightness, like

you. I was recruited because I had visions as

a child, teenager and young adult and they

knew about it.”

Mulder leaned forward even more. “You’re

psychic?” he asked surprised.

“I used to be.”

“Come on, Jack. Once a psychic, always a

psychic. Spill the beans.”

“All right,” Campbell admitted. “I am still

psychic, if that’s what you want to call it

but it’s not strong anymore. It just happens,

usually at night. I envision events. People

say I’m good at what I do. But if they knew I

use ninety percent of my instincts to catch

my killers, I wouldn’t be so believable

anymore. They would call me a fraud.”

“And you had a vision about Susannah Delany?”

“Yes, I had. After the bomb, I went to that

house and I had a vision of her being trapped

in there with a man – her killer. He did

something to her that I cannot describe. He

seemed to pick her brain and then he went

away. The vision was very blurry and strange,

and I don’t know how to describe it any

better than that. I believe that he too is

psychic and that we connected

somehow. I picked something up from his

actions.”

“And because you can’t use that vision, you

turned to me, hoping that I could,” Mulder

remarked.

Jack smiled. “I know, it sucks, but that’s

how it is.”

“I see,” Mulder said slowly, trying to figure

out what to do next. His first urge was to

convince Jack to have his ability further

explored, but he knew his friend would not go

for it.

“All I ask of you, Mulder, is that you treat

this case as a profiler. But keep an open

mind. And don’t tell anyone about this, I beg

of you.”

“I won’t,” Mulder vowed. “But you need to

realize and accept that your ability is not a

curse but a gift. And anything that you see,

you must tell me if it affects this case. If

not, we’re through.”

Jack promised and watched as Mulder opened

the file and started making notes to profile

their killer. The two words that sprung to

mind were “cold-blooded” and “vindictive.”

Those words alone made Jack shiver. He sensed

trouble.

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

The Federal Building in downtown New York had

25 floors, so Skinner didn’t have difficulty

arranging for a few adjoining offices at the

VCS. AD Norris, who ran the New York

division, was a good friend of his and had

been warned of their coming. Of course,

everyone knew the stakes.

“This way,” Jack said, walking to the

elevators. He pushed the button to the

eleventh floor and led the agents to two

small, conjoined offices on the right. A man

in his fifties waited for them and got up as

they stepped inside. “Good to see you,

Walter,” he said, shaking Skinner’s hand.

“Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, may I

introduce you to Assistant Director Donald

Norris? Mulder, Don took over for Linda

Harper,” Skinner said, knowing the memory of

the missing AD would haunt his agents for a

good long while. Mulder and Scully stepped

forward to greet the new AD. Jack already

knew Norris.

“It’s a pleasure, Agent Mulder,” Assistant

Director Norris said. “I’ve heard quite a lot

about you.”

“You have?” Mulder asked with a hint of

surprise. “I wouldn’t believe everything they

told you, sir.”

Norris smiled, and invited them to sit down,

explaining to them they could use these

temporary offices to get settled in during

the next few days. His own office was on the

tenth floor but he would always be at their

service if they needed any help.

Everyone took a seat at the conference table.

Norris was a busy man with twelve agents

working for him. His specialty was serial

murder. As a rookie-cop he had been involved

in the Son of Sam-case years ago before

joining the Bureau.

“I understand you’ve done other cases prior

to this,” Norris started as he directed

Mulder, ” AD Skinner told me that you’re a

good profiler with an excellent record.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“You do realize this is not a paranormal

case?”

“Yes, sir, but even a killer can use

paranormal activity. In 1993, we solved the

case of Eugene Victor Tooms, a man who

extracted human livers in order to hibernate.

This was a serial killer who had been active

for over a hundred years. There was also a

man named Virgil Incanto who lived on the fat

of obese women in order to survive

physically.”

“I think I get the picture, Agent Mulder,”

Norris interrupted. “As long as you

understand that this case involves a regular

man, I’m okay with it.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Norris got up and put his hand on the file

that lay on the middle of the table. “I have

a meeting in about ten minutes,” he said, “so

I’m going to leave you to your own devices.

Walter, you know where to find me should you

need one of my men. Just let me know how we

can help you. Of course you can also contact

AD Smythe for questions or information.”

“I appreciate that, Edward,” Skinner said,

shaking hands with his colleague. “We’ll keep

you informed.”

“Thanks.”

Norris left, closing the door behind him on

the way out. Campbell turned towards the

others. “I suggest that we start working.

Where do you want to begin, Mulder?”

“I’d like to autopsy the body tonight if

possible,” Scully answered in her partner’s

place. “I suppose it has been held for me?”

“It has,” Jack confirmed. “Even though the

coroner’s office wasn’t too pleased with

that. I had to pull a lot of strings to

persuade them to wait.”

“I’d like to see the crime scene first,”

Mulder said. “Get a feel.”

“We can do that,” Jack said. “But we also

need to make a courtesy call to the mayor’s

office. We need to settle some issues there

before the mayor steps in and takes over. He

has the power to make our lives miserable if

we don’t act discreetly.”

Jack glanced at his watch. It was after five.

If they were going to act, they didn’t have

much time left before dark. “I’ll call the

mayor from the car and set up the autopsy for

you, Agent Scully. I suggest that we profit

from the little time we have left before it

gets too dark.”

“I’ll stay here,” Skinner said. “And get in

touch with the other authorities. Remember,

I’m only here on an administrative basis.

This is your case, but I’m backing you up

should the heat get turned on.”

“We understand, sir,” Mulder said.

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

The house was one big pile of debris to put

it mildly. Absolutely nothing was left of the

Victorian home, except a couple of walls; in

between lay the remains of the first and

second floor. The fire department had shored

up the walls and was still cleaning up the

mess when the agents got there.

“Most of the evidence has been taken to a

police compound,” Jack complained. “We’re

trying to go through details there because

it’s too dangerous to hang around here.

Pieces of debris keep falling down.”

Mulder took a look at the neighboring houses

and noticed they too had suffered greatly

from the bomb, but they were not beyond

repair. “We asked the owners to find

temporary shelter,” Jack explained. “The

Mayor’s Office is helping them out until they

receive their insurance benefits.”

Jack carefully made his way through the

debris and stepped inside what was left of

the living room. The cracked piano that had

been in one of the photos still stood there

as a memento to a woman’s life that had been

completely ruined with a crushing bomb.

“Where did they find Susannah’s body?” Scully

asked, following in Jack’s footsteps.

“Over there.” Jack pointed towards the

remains of a wall covered by a whole lot of

wood and stones. From his pocket he got out a

map of the floor plan, provided to them by

the architect who had renovated the house

five years ago before.

“The area in which she was found was the

living room. It had an L-shaped form, you

see? You can still see the remains of the

couches, the TV, stereo, all that stuff. All

the electrical equipment exploded in the

fire. The short end of the L was her dining

room. It was a large room with two steps

leading to the front door. There was also a

stairwell in the back, going to the first and

second floor. She didn’t use the second

floor. The kitchen had another stairwell,

probably used by her housekeeper.”

“She had a live-in housekeeper?” Mulder

asked.

“No, there was a woman that came over twice a

week and spent a whole day at the house.

Susannah didn’t want to be disturbed by her

and they had very particular arrangements for

her work.”

“The kitchen had been a spacious, modern

room,” Jack continued as they walked over,

showing them photos of how it used to be. It

had two doors leading outside; one going to

the back, which was being used as a service

entry door. And there was a second one

leading up to the garage. Both doors had an

alarm.”

“Was the garage secured?” Mulder asked.

“Automatic door?”

“Yeah. She had the automatic door installed

after the renovations. The garage could hold

two cars, which were both accounted for. She

drove a Jaguar and a compact BMW. According

to the housekeeper she changed the alarm code

once a week and she was the only one that

knew it. When the housekeeper came over, she

had to ring the front door and was allowed in

by Susannah. If Susannah wasn’t at home, the

housekeeper couldn’t get in.”

Jack waited as he watched Mulder think. “We

believe that the killer made his entry

through the garage door. He probably slipped

in and waited until she got out of her car to

grab her. He forced the alarm off her, no

doubt.”

“Was there a silent alarm?” Scully asked.

“No.”

“You mentioned earlier that the bomb had been

set off by the telephone. Did the bomb squad

examine the device yet?”

“They have,” Jack said, glancing at one

of the firemen that looked very curiously at

him. “But I suggest that we discuss this on

our way to the mayor’s office. Have you seen

enough for now?”

“I have,” Mulder confirmed, thinking about

the details he would put in his report. He

had seen enough for now. Pure hatred lived in

this debris. And there was an urge to end up

in the news by killing this way. He had

succeeded.

Right now anything was still possible.

“Destroy and mutilate,” Mulder mumbled, as he

left.

“Our killer definitely gets off on what he’s

doing,” Mulder said as they returned to the

car. “He took his time to set this up. He

took risks, but he didn’t care.”

“Go on,” Jack said, listening to Mulder’s

nearly monotone voice. He could see the man

was talking without thinking, as if he wanted

to say it before it was gone out of his mind.

“He wants us to admire his handiwork, that’s

for sure. He had two reasons to use this

bomb. He wanted to destroy everything that

was dear to her; not alone her physical being

but also the place she had put her stamp on,

as if he wanted nothing left of her to be

remembered.”

“Do you think he’ll kill again?”

Mulder looked at the others. “We’ll know soon

enough.”

Mulder’s words shocked the other agents,

realizing he was right. Right now there was

no way of telling if the killer had already

chosen his next victim. There was no trace

leading to another potential victim.

“Let’s get out of here,” Scully said. “Can

you two drop me off at the coroner’s office?”

“Sure,” Jack said as they made their way back

to the car. Across the street still stood a

crowd gathered to see who was rummaging

through the debris. Mulder saw a few cameras

and reporters. He spotted them a mile away

and knew they would want to get answers soon.

“Can you get those reporters to hand over

printouts of the photos taken last night?” he

asked. “Might come in handy.”

“Already been done,” Jack said, “standard

procedure.”

Scully and Jack made their way out but Mulder

stopped before the outer wall, turning and

staring at the debris. Suddenly he was back

at the bombing in Dallas. Back then the

bombing had taken place to cover up several

strange deaths. What if this bombing had

taken place for the same reason? If not to

destroy one’s life, why would anyone plan

such a horrid death?

He shivered.

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

In the car Jack got a call from the forensics

office.

Preliminary reports showed that the bomber

was an amateur. The device was set up simply;

it worked when a trigger was set off by a

certain move. He didn’t use new,

sophisticated technology to get the job done.

He used the old tricks, like hobbyists did.

“He must have had help to do this,” the

expert said as he explained over the phone

what he found. “That, or he used ‘Bombings

for Dummies’ on how to set a bomb.”

“What about the Internet?” Mulder suggested

when Jack hung up. “There are chat rooms and

forums for just about anything. There

probably are on terrorists and bombs as

well.”

“How to create the perfect, destructive

bomb,” Campbell said. “It’s sick, but it can

be done. It shouldn’t be too difficult to

find that out. I’ll have someone do a search

on the Internet. Who knows, we might get

lucky.”

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

The office building was dark, just like he

had expected it to be. The reception area was

empty but the outer doors were still open. He

would need a badge to go up now, and he

didn’t have one. He pushed the button of the

tenth floor and waited until a male voice

asked, “Yes?”

“Stephen,” he said, “it’s me. Can you let me

in?”

There was a silence on the other side and

then the man who worked on the tenth floor

said, “Sure.” The killer smiled, knowing

Wells didn’t know whom he was letting in.

The office at the end of the corridor was

brightly lit. That was Stephen’s office. He

had seen that this morning while making his

stroll through the building. Stephen was

there alone. The man looked up when he walked

in and said, “Excuse me, do I know you?”

“Of course you do, Mr. Wells,” he said.

“We’ve attended several benefits together,

haven’t we?”

“Of course we have,” Stephen said hesitant,

offering his hand. “How are you? What can I

do for you? I’m sorry, I thought I let one of

my colleagues in.”

“I know,” he smiled. “I took the risk of

coming here, hoping you would be by yourself.

You are alone, aren’t you?”

Wells looked nervous. “I’m sorry but you

still haven’t told me what you’re doing

here.”

“We need to talk, Stephen.”

“About what?”

“About things that you’ve done. About people

that you’ve been with.” He took a seat at the

edge of Stephen’s desk and took a paperweight

off the desk. It felt heavy in his hand. He

toyed with it as his eyes focused on Stephen

who became agitated.

“What are you talking about?” Stephen asked.

“What things have I done?”

“Why are you at work, Stephen, when you

should be mourning Susannah’s death?”

“Susannah?” Stephen Wells laughed bitterly.

“Is that what this is all about? You’re here

because of Susannah? You’re a reporter,

aren’t you? You came here because you found

out about us and now you’re trying to get a

story out of it. Get out!”

“I’m not a reporter,” he answered calmly.

“Are you trying to blackmail me then?” Wells

muttered as his face turned red in anger.

“Get the hell out before I call security. How

dare you come in here right after her death

and do this to me? We had a good thing going.

You can’t use that against me. Get the hell

out before I kick you out myself!”

He smiled. “I’m not leaving, Stephen. I’ve

come here to kill you.”

Wells’ eyes changed expression when he saw

his ‘guest’ wore leather gloves. The man’s

eyes were as cold as ice. And his facial

expression was blank. Suddenly, Wells felt an

excruciating pain inside his head, and he

screamed as he moved away from his chair,

putting his hands up his head as he shrieked.

It felt like someone was cutting into his

head with a knife, taking out all the

thoughts and dreams. His eyes locked with the

killer’s and it felt like he would never be

the same again.

Then the pain stopped suddenly and the killer

smiled. “Thank you for handing me my next

victim.”

Wells stumbled backwards, nearly tripping

over his chair as he came to the realization

he had signed his own death warrant. And then

the paperweight came up and smashed him over

the head, cutting deep into his skull. Wells

slumped backwards, pulling a stack of paper

onto the floor with him. There he remained,

out cold.

The killer removed the man’s cellular phone

and tucked it into his own pocket. He would

leave that outside the room where Wells

couldn’t use it.

The killer moved quickly now, shutting the

office door and switching off the lights so

that only the dim nightlights remained on.

Using the same MO he had used on Susannah, he

triggered the phone and fax. Then he wired

the rest of the room. Closing the door, he

placed the bomb right outside the room and

set the trigger. Every single action the man

inside did would kill him. And if someone tried

to save him, he would still die.

A few minutes later, he was downstairs and he

left the building in utter darkness.

Inside the room, Stephen Wells woke up

slowly, reaching for his bruised head. He

sighed deeply as he tried to grasp at what

had happened to him. The world danced before

his eyes. He touched his temple, feeling the

deep cut made by his own paperweight. Then he

remembered. He knew who that man was! That

struck him the most. He had seen him before

and knew of his political ambitions. And he

was also a killer.

He had to tell someone! And then there was a

vague sound, like a phone ringing. The sound

seemed too loud in his bruised head. His

fingers reached for the phone, picking it up.

A sharp-pitched sound pierced his skull. He

saw the wires. And then nothing anymore.

When the fire ended, the entire top floors of

the office building had gone to hell.

Underneath the debris on the ninth floor,

which had suffered too during the blast, laid

the unconscious body of the security guard.

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

The mayor’s office buzzed with activity as

Mulder and Campbell arrived. It was seven-

thirty in the evening, yet all the personnel

still seemed present. Some of them were

dressed in evening gowns and tuxedos.

“There’s an AIDS benefit tonight,” Campbell

said. “I was supposed to go too, but with all

that’s been going on, that’s not going to

happen. Not that I’m unhappy with that; I

hate those events.”

“Don’t let your father hear you say that,”

Mulder remarked, remembering the former

Chief of Police whom he had met twice.

“Detective Campbell,” the mayor’s secretary

said, as Jack knocked on the glass door that lead

to a small but beautifully decorated

reception area. “The mayor is expecting you.”

“Thank you,” Jack said as they walked in.

Inside another, classically decorated office,

a man in his late forties awaited both men.

Mulder had seen the mayor on news bulletins

and in newspapers. Rumors had it that he was

going to try for the Senate during the next

elections and that the eligible mayor’s seat

was up for grabs.

It was no secret the mayor was a very cocky

man who didn’t like it when things didn’t go

his way. He wanted to exert his authority

over the NYPD and FBI during high-profiled

cases, but when he found out he hadn’t, he

got nasty.

“Close the door, Ellen,” the mayor said. “And

tell David that I’m going to be running late.

He should warn Congressman Mitchell.”

“Yes, sir,” the secretary said as she shut

the door. The mayor didn’t offer them coffee.

He made it very clear he didn’t want to spend

much time discussing the case with the two

men who were supposed to solve it soon.

“Look, Campbell,” the mayor said, ignoring

the fact for now he saw this man on a

personal basis as well and at times even

liked him. “I’m not going to beat around the

bush here. I want results and I want them

yesterday. I appreciate you bringing in the

FBI, but you’re slowing things down. What are

you doing to get this guy?”

“We have gathered all the evidence and are

exploring Miss Delany’s past, sir. You must

understand that it will take time.”

“We don’t have time. Everyone’s breathing

down my neck. They all want to know how this

could happen in my city. They believe some

crazy bomber is terrorizing the city. I have

a press conference in the morning to tell

them this is not the case. Please tell me

this is a one-time thing, Jack.”

Jack opened his mouth to speak but stopped

when Mulder interfered. “There is no telling,

Mr. Mayor,” he said quickly. “We might have a

serial killer on our hands. But he’s not a

terrorist. I can guarantee that much.”

“How can you guarantee that?” the mayor asked

angrily acknowledging the answer he didn’t

want to hear. “There’s not much you know

about him yet, is there?”

“That is correct, sir,” Mulder said. “That’s

why I’m here. I can guarantee you that I will

do everything in my power to identify him.”

“Good,” the mayor said. “Because if you do

not, I’ll make sure you never work at the

Bureau again.”

“Is that a threat, Mr. Mayor?” Mulder asked

coldly.

“No. Call it warning. I know the Director

quite well.”

“As do I, sir. And I can tell you that he

will not appreciate the remark you just made.

Right now, you need us more than we do you. I

suggest that you keep that in mind.” Mulder

rose from his chair and turned his back

toward the mayor who sat numbly in his seat,

not able to utter another word. Quickly, Jack

left as well, shutting the door behind him.

“What the hell was that?” Campbell asked,

suddenly bursting into laughter at Mulder’s

angry features. “You don’t really know the

Director personally, do you?”

“Of course not,” Mulder said, calming down.

“But I don’t think the mayor’s going to

contact him either. He needs us and he knows

it. He needs the FBI to keep his city calm

right now. If he screws that up, he loses all

credibility himself.”

“You like to taunt people, don’t you Mulder?”

Jack asked. “You haven’t changed a bit.”

Mulder’s smile faded. “There’s a lot you

don’t know about my past, Jack,” he said

seriously. “You have no idea what it’s been

like to work at the Bureau, knowing that

everyone there wants to get you fired.

They’ve been ridiculing me and laughing at my

work because they don’t understand it. And I

get so tired when that happens outside the

Bureau as well. That man in there doesn’t

have reason to threaten me, but he thinks he

can because he runs this city. So it’s my job

to set the record straight.”

Jack patted Mulder on the back. “I know what

you mean,” he said. “Believe me, I do. Let’s

get out of here and go see Scully. She should

be working on that autopsy right now.”

“I hope she’s finished,” Mulder grinned. “She

loves to slice and dice, but I don’t like to

watch.”

“Don’t tell me you’re squeamish!”

“Of course I am. Every regular person should

be.”

The two men walked outside to Campbell’s car

and got in. Suddenly Jack froze, rubbing his

eyelids forcefully as he sunk deeper into his

seat. Mulder looked askance at him, but chose

not to disturb him as the detective sat

quietly in his seat.

Finally Jack relaxed and looked up.

“You had a vision, didn’t you?” Mulder asked.

Jack nodded and looked aside. “I can’t be

sure,” he said as drops of sweat poured down

his face. “But I think there’s been another

one.”

At the same time Jack’s cell phone went off.

And Mulder knew it was going to be a long,

long night.

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

Mulder called Scully on the way to the office

building that had been under attack and asked

her to arrange for a rental car and meet them

there. She agreed and said she would arrive

in about an hour or so, after finishing the

autopsy. She still had some work to do.

The two men sat quietly in the car, not

wanting to discuss the second murder. But

Jack wanted to talk about the vision. “It was

that man again,” he said. “I can’t help but

think that we somehow are on the same level.

I see what he’s doing but I can’t see where

or when. It’s like I’m picking up some of his

thoughts; the ones that he perhaps wants me

to see.”

“Do you have any idea if he looks familiar to

you?”

“I can’t see his face. I don’t know who he

is. It’s all too blurry. This vision doesn’t

work at all, Mulder. It’s just a nuisance.

It’s a joke.”

“It’s not,” Mulder said, trying to calm his

friend down. “Look, you said that the FBI

recruited you because of your visions. Did

they know about it?”

“I don’t know. What I meant is that they

thought I had insights no one else had. They

were right of course. But I wasn’t tested on

those visions nor did anyone discuss them. I

just felt as if I was cheating when I used

them. I thought that by joining the NYPD I

could make better use of them, but there,

too, I discovered that they always came too

late.”

“I understand now,” Mulder said. “But that

still doesn’t change the fact that you can do

some good with that psychic ability of yours.

You have the power to help people, Jack.

And believe me, I know what you are going

through. You have to learn from what you can

do.”

“You call it a gift, a power,” Jack said

somber. “But I call it a curse.”

“You won’t know what it’s like until you let

me help you.”

“Let me think about it,” Jack said. “Okay?”

“Fair enough,” Mulder said, feeling victory

was almost his. Then the agent looked ahead

and muttered, “Jesus.”

“What the hell,” Jack muttered, parking the

car right in front of an office building with

ruined top floor. Dozens of people were

running about. Several fire department

vehicles were already there. There were

police cars and ambulances. It looked like

World War III.

Mulder and Campbell rushed out. All hell had

broken loose and it seemed nothing would ever

be the same again.

Act 3

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

Quietly Mulder walked alone through the

ravaged tenth floor. In the back office, the

remains had been found of Stephen Wells, the

apparent victim of the second bombing in two

days. Just like Susannah Delany before him,

Wells had been the target of a vicious

murderer. And just like with Susannah, his

belongings had been destroyed.

The man’s death was just as horrible as

Susannah’s had been, allowing Mulder to

believe that the killer had deliberately

picked this man to die. But what was the

connection between Delaney and Wells? Why

would he choose two people that apparently

had nothing in common?

“There was a second victim,” Jack reported as

he walked towards Mulder. “They found the

security guard a floor lower. He’s hurt but

not in any danger. He was making his rounds

when it happened.”

“Have they found out how the bomber got into

the building yet?” Mulder asked. “He must

have had a badge or something.”

“The security system is still to be examined,

but at first sight it seems that Wells let

him in. He must have known him.”

“There was no one at the reception area?”

“There never is at night. The receptionist

leaves around seven and there’s only the

security guard. Everyone who works here late

at night has his or her own badge. So when

there’s a guest at night, he or she needs to

be allowed in.”

“Is the badge system checked?”

“Yeah,” Jack confirmed. “They’ll go through

the badge lists tonight to see if anyone

gained access that way. But at first sight it

seems that that’s not the case.”

Mulder nodded. “He would give himself away

instantly. He wouldn’t do that.”

“So Wells must have known him.”

“Most likely,” Mulder said thoughtfully as he

stood in the center of what had been Wells’

office. The bomb squad confirmed the phone

had been wired, alongside the fax machine and

door. Wells’ cell phone had been found on one

of the other desks. It was obvious the killer

had wanted his victim to pick up the phone.

“What are we going to do, Mulder?” Jack

whispered. “We’ve got a deadline now. If he

kills again tomorrow, we need to be there to

stop it.”

“Go do some good old fashioned police work

and work your way through the details and

suspect list,” Mulder said. “Scully will pick

me up here. I’ll make the profile tonight.

I have enough information to

work with.”

“Are you sure?”

“Definitely,” Mulder said. “Can you do me a

favor and book us into a hotel? Just give me

a call and let me know what you come up

with.”

“Okay,” Jack said, saying goodbye to his

friend. Mulder looked at the firemen who were

still cleaning the floor and turned his back

towards them, concentrating on the scene.

More and more he became convinced the killer

had a reason for destroying his victims like

this. It wasn’t just the viciousness. There

was something else.

“Hello?” A man tapped on what remained of the

doorpost and walked in. “I’m sorry, I’m

looking for Detective Campbell.”

“He just left,” Mulder said. “Sorry, you are

-?”

The man walking into the room was dressed in

a tuxedo and seemed completely out of place

in the destroyed room. He was in his late

thirties and good-looking. His bright dark

blue eyes took in the environment and he

seemed nervous to be in the room. It seemed

to be the last place he wanted to be.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “My name is Alec

Thompson. I’m a friend of Jack’s and work for

the mayor. I was on my way to a benefit when

I found out what happened. The mayor’s

assistant called me and told me.” Thompson

smiled wryly. “I guess he thought I would

find out more than the mayor did.”

“I’m Special Agent Mulder,” Mulder said,

shaking the man’s hand. “I’d be more than

happy to tell you how our investigation is

going, but the mayor already knows everything

he needs to know.”

“I gathered as much,” Thompson said. “Can you

tell me if Jack is around?”

“He went downtown.”

“Oh. I’ll call him then.” Awkwardly Thompson

remained in the room, staring at the debris.

“How could anyone do this to another human

being?”

“Good question,” Mulder said. “One that I

cannot answer for you.”

“I’m sure you can’t. Well, it was good to

meet you. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.” Mulder watched as the man left,

wondering about this strange visit. He made a

mental note to check out the man. One just

never knew. Mulder walked to the staircase

and went down. In the reception area he

bumped into Scully who was just about to go

up.

“You just saved me a long walk up,” she said.

“How was it up there?”

“Horrible,” he said. “Let’s get out of here,

Scully.”

“Where to?”

“The FBI Field Office. We need to talk to

Skinner and put together what we’ve got.

There are a lot of things to discuss.”

“I agree,” Scully said.

Mulder glanced at her curiously, knowing she

had something to tell.

Day Two, December 9, 2001

New York City

It was nearly midnight. The day had been

quite long but the night would become even

longer. The second murder had clearly shown

they were working against a time limit they

had to keep in mind. The profile that rested

in the agent’s head still needed to get on

paper. And there were a lot of details to

discuss.

But Scully was first and got to explain the

details shown during the autopsy. Her voice

sounded professional and her words were to

the point, yet Mulder could see how repulsed

she must have been while performing the

autopsy.

“I’m afraid there was more going on than just

the bombing,” Scully started.

“Oh?” Skinner said surprised. Her partner

didn’t seem so shocked.

“Susannah Delaney showed massive brain tissue

damage; damage that could not be caused by

the bombing. Believe me, it took me a while

to figure this out. Her face and head were

damaged beyond recognition, as you can

imagine. Her face was practically blown away.

But when I took a sample of the brain, I saw

that all the small blood vessels had

exploded; she had been subjected to something

that would cause this before she died.”

“Something like what?” Skinner asked. “A

machine?”

“No,” Mulder said. “Not a machine. A person.”

“Excuse me?” Skinner said. “Can you explain

yourself, Agent Mulder?”

“I know this might sound difficult to accept,

sir,” Mulder said, “but I have reason to

believe our suspect is psychic, or at least

has psychic abilities that allow him to do

this. He uses these abilities for some reason

that I’m not aware of yet, literally causing

the explosion of the brain cells before the

actual death.”

“That would leave his victims dead before the

explosion,” Skinner said. “Wouldn’t it,

Agent Scully?”

Scully hesitated and glanced at Mulder. She

had no idea why he came up with this, and she

had no reason to believe his theory. Yes, the

victims suffered from brain damage that might

have eventually caused their untimely deaths,

but to state that the killer did this with

psychic abilities? That was stretching it a

bit too far.

“Scully?” Skinner repeated. “Could this be

possible?”

“If you ask me whether they could have

survived this sort of ordeal, then I’d answer

yes. But if you ask me if this is caused by

using psychic abilities, I’d have to say no.”

“I knew you were going to say that,” Mulder

said, not angry with her at all. She wouldn’t

go for his theory, so he had to defend it

without revealing Jack’s secret. He had

given his word. He groaned lightly and

shifted in his seat. “I haven’t anymore proof

to validate this theory yet, sir,” he

continued. ” You are going to have to trust

me on this one.”

“What do you want me to say, Mulder?” Skinner

said as he got up and put his hands in his

pockets, turning his back towards the agents.

“Do you want me to go to the Deputy Director

with this story? Do you want the press to

find out about it?”

“No, sir. Officially, I’d go with the crazy

bomber story. Unofficially, I would find out

if this man is truly psychic and if this case

falls within our X-Files-department. But

I’m pretty sure that – if and when we catch

him – we will know that he indeed is not a

regular serial killer.”

Scully glanced at her partner, not knowing

whether or not she should be angry with him.

He was holding something back from them, and

she wanted to find out what it was. It had

something to do with Jack. She knew that. But

when was she going to find out?

clip_image001

Mulder saw her discomfort and gave her a warning

look. She knew better than to argue with him.

She didn’t feel like doing so. It was too

late in the evening and they were not one

step further than they had been in the

afternoon.

“I suggest that we break for tonight and

proceed in the morning,” Skinner said. “It’s

late and we’re all very tired. Agent Mulder,

I suggest that you give your theory a rest

for now too.”

“Yes, sir,” he said.

On the drive back to the Field Office

Jack had called and said they were

all booked into a Holiday Inn. He gave Mulder

the address and told him he would pick them

up in the morning. He was also on his way

home, even though his mind wasn’t set to

sleep. Too many events still lingered in the

back of his head.

Skinner took his own rental car and followed

Mulder and Scully back to the hotel, where

they’d booked three separate rooms. Before

Skinner’s eyes the partners said goodnight,

but Mulder knew he would see her again that night.

After taking a shower, Mulder changed into

sweats and a T-shirt and turned on his

laptop. The events were still fresh in his

mind and he knew he could not sleep before he

had put his profile on paper. The TV was

playing in the background.

A soft knock startled him and as he opened

the door, Scully stood there, also dressed

casually in jeans and a T-shirt. “Hey,” he

said, letting her in. She smiled and kissed

him as soon as he closed the door. It wasn’t

a hungry kiss. They weren’t in the mood.

Tired she glanced at the laptop and said,

“Shouldn’t you be resting?”

“I can’t,” he said. “I still have some work

to do.”

“Can I help?”

“No, you’ve done enough for tonight.” His

voice sounded serious. She knew he didn’t

like it when she worked late, like he did at

times. She also knew he was working on his

profile, something she couldn’t help with.

Hesitant, they stood opposite each other. She

cupped his head in her hands and kissed him

again, softly and smoothly this time.

“Would you mind staying?” he suddenly asked.

“I still need to finish this, but I would

love it if you could keep me company.”

“Sure,” she said, retreating to the bed. She

laid herself down, throwing off her shoes.

She found a comfortable position and

watched him as he sat by the table and typed

his profile. Next, she flipped channels and

read the magazine a previous guest had left.

Around two she finally fell asleep.

Mulder sighed deeply and wondered how in the

world they would ever combine this

relationship with their professional careers.

Then he smiled and realized they had been

doing exactly that over the past 9 years.

They might not have been sharing their beds

for that long, but their affair had been

going on for quite some time. They both would

be liars if they denied that.

The agent took a deep breath and returned to

his work, only to finish up around four.

Startled he glanced at his watch, took off

his shoes and socks, and slid underneath the

blanket with her. Scully groaned, the turned

and embraced him in her sleep.

He fell asleep with her face next to his, her

nose almost touching his. She was the last

thing he saw. She would also be the first

thing he would spot in the morning.

Four miles away the killer stayed awake and

watched the news. He was content with the way

things were going. The kick of killing was

only starting to grow.

Day Three, December 10, 2001

New York City

Take time to catch your breath and choose

your moment

Don’t slide

Early in the morning Mulder woke up at his

usual hour, only to be surprised by Scully’s

glance. Her face was still very close to him

and it seemed that they hadn’t moved a bit

during the night. They were still entangled

in each other’s arms.

“I have to go,” she said as if they had just

shared a valuable night and were forced to

say goodbye. “Jack will be here soon to pick

us up.”

“I know,” he responded with regret, but there

was no objection. It was too soon to let the

world know. Right now there was just their

attention for each other. It was too precious

to throw away with a single wrong movement.

She slid off the bed and knelt down and

kissed him goodbye. “See you in a few,” she

said and left the room with her keys in her

hand. He looked at the door, wishing she

would come back, but knowing that she

wouldn’t. There were silent agreements

between them, and they both lived up to them.

Mulder washed up and brushed his teeth.

Around eight he turned on the local TV

channel, only to be inundated with the amount

of press interest. There was a ten-minute

story on last night’s events. The mayor was

interviewed at last night’s benefit, and his

right hand, a man named David Lane, explained

to the gathered press that they had faith in

the FBI and police working together.

Suddenly Mulder stared at the screen,

recognizing his image as the center of a

profile story.

His Bureau history and track record were

mentioned, as were previous cases he had

investigated as a profiler. There was also a

slight mention of the X-Files. Humored,

Mulder finished dressing, wondering how long

it would take before the press got their

hands on him and forced him to give

statements he didn’t really want to.

Before long, Skinner stood before his door.

He had already warned Scully as well that

Campbell was waiting in the lobby. They would

take a quick breakfast and be on their way.

Campbell looked worried when they came

downstairs.

While they were eating breakfast, Campbell

explained. “Your hotel was leaked out to the

press. They’re eager to talk to one of you,”

he said. “I’m not really up for it. I don’t

want to alarm this guy. But I guess it can’t

be avoided.” Jack handed Mulder a document

that the computer spit out the night before.

“I’ve done a bit of tabloid research,” he

explained. “Susannah Delaney was kept track

of, and it seems that Stephen Wells has been

spotted with her several times during the

past few months.”

“They had an affair?” Scully asked.

“Looks like it. But ironically enough, this

was one of the relationships that could be

discussed out in the open. If you were to

read all the other articles on her, you would

see that there are some high profile people

on that list, from the Senate and the mayor’s

office.”

“We’re still assuming someone she dated

killed her?” Skinner asked, glaring at Mulder

whose facial expression didn’t change. “Is

that what we are going to tell the press?”

“It’s a good story,” Mulder said. “But it’s

not the entire story.”

Mulder only smiled and turned his face to

Skinner. “Don’t worry, sir,” he said. “I’m

not going to screw things up. I’ll make sure

the FBI is not discredited or damaged by my

story.” Mulder straightened his back and

walked outside, immediately surrounded by

several reporters that all fired their

questions towards him.

“Agent Mulder,” a woman said, pushing a

microphone under his nose. “You’re on a live

television. Can you tell us how the progress

on your investigation goes?”

“I can’t tell you many details about our

investigation,” Mulder said politely. “I have

created a profile on our suspect that will be

distributed to all law enforcement agencies.

We have reason to believe there was a strong

connection between the deaths of

Susannah Delaney and Stephen Wells, and that

they were not chosen randomly.”

A short silence followed. Then everyone tried

to shout his or her question.

“Is this the work of a terrorist?”

“Is the killer going through New York’s High

Society?”

“Did Miss Delaney have an affair with Mister

Wells?”

“Did Mister Wells kill Miss Delaney before

committing suicide?”

Mulder didn’t answer any of the questions,

simply excused himself and walked past them.

Then a man grabbed his wrist and he turned

around. The reporter who had touched him

asked, “Do you think the killer is

challenging the FBI with his actions? After

all, there have been bombings before against

law enforcement agencies.”

Mulder stopped and thought over his answer

carefully before turning towards the camera

as if he wanted to look straight into the

killer’s eyes. From where she stood Scully

could clearly see her partner’s eyes as he

coldly said, “I know how he’s doing it. Now

it’s just a matter of stopping him.”

Then Mulder simply walked further until he

reached the rental car. Fishing out the keys

Scully had given him the night before, he got

in and waited until Scully slid in next to

him. Jack Campbell used his own car, as did

Skinner.

“Why did you challenge him?” Scully asked.

Mulder raised his shoulders and shook his

head. “People like that should know they

cannot get away with murder.”

“He already has, Mulder.”

Yes, Mulder thought, he already has. But if

he got the message, he knows by now that I

know how he’s doing it.

Sitting before his television set, the killer

felt anger bottle up inside of him. The agent

knew. He could tell by the way that he looked

into the camera. It had been a message for

him. A message to let him know he was on to

him.

The killer nodded slowly. If this was a

challenge, he was up to it. From now on he

had but one opponent: The Profiler.

Day Three, December 10, 2001

New York City

“Are you okay, Mulder?”

“Hmm?” He looked aside only to find his

partner gazing anxiously at him. She had

that look in her eyes again that proved she

was concerned for him. He didn’t want her to

worry. There was no need for it. But he had

been sitting quietly in the car, and she

wondered where his usual smart remarks were.

“I was just thinking about these two

victims,” he said, “I wonder if they knew why

they were killed.”

“We will only know that when we find

their killer. He’s the only one that knows

that right now. But I’m guessing that they

knew. People usually die for a reason,

Mulder. Isn’t that what your profile states

as well?”

“Of course it does,” he answered. “But human

nature keeps on surprising the hell out of

me. At times I just wonder why someone does

what he does. And I just want to know why

we’re here. Why is this person doing the kill

the way he is. And why am I here setting up a

profile and why are you performing yet another

autopsy while we should be having fun.”

She smiled. “Isn’t this your idea of fun? I

thought you were such a workaholic?”

He grinned and looked aside, letting his mind

drift away from the traffic for a second.

“Since I’ve got more than my share of you,

I’ve adopted other ideas of enjoyment.”

She smiled, tracing the line of his mouth

with her finger. In the solitude of the car

it didn’t matter what they said or did, and

he responded by resting his face against her

hand for a second to allow the warmth of her

flesh comfort him more than any of her

words could. She felt like teasing him but

knew better than to do so. Instead she pulled

away her hand reluctantly when they arrived

at the Field Office.

“Damn it,” Mulder said, as the parking lot

seemed closed up. A guard walked over to them

and looked inside. “Sorry, Agents,” he spoke,

“we’ve got mechanical problems – can’t seem

to get the system to unlock this morning.

There’s a reserve parking lot around the back

though. Just go around the corner and drive

up the small parking lot to the left.”

“Thanks,” Mulder muttered, doing as the man

had said. When he parked the vehicle a second

car drove up the lot. Campbell had followed

them and drove up behind him. The two

Chryslers stood next to one another.

“Make sure you get the right car tonight,”

Scully said. Jack made a face. “Hey, I’ve got

the luxury edition. Let’s go.”

The agents walked to the front entrance of

the building, hoping that there wouldn’t be

any press waiting for them there either.

Fortunately the guards had chased most of

them away. “Before I forget to mention it

again, Jack,” Mulder said as he used the

badge to make his way in, “someone came to

see you last night at the Wells’ crime scene.

A guy named Alec Thompson. He said he was an

old friend of yours and works for the mayor.”

“That’s right,” Jack said surprised. “But I

haven’t seen him for ages. And he came to the

Wells’ site?”

“Yep.”

“That’s odd.” Campbell stepped into the

elevator and pushed the button. “Why would he

come and see me there?”

“Perhaps he had something to tell you,”

Mulder said.

“I wouldn’t have a clue as to what that might

be, but I’ll give him a call.” Jack leaned

back against the glass and stared in front of

him. It was obvious he was wondering about

that unexpected visitor. Mulder stared at

Scully, hoping that she might not ask too

many questions.

She understood his look and excused herself

when they got out of the elevator. The night

before she hadn’t asked Mulder about Jack.

She knew her partner would tell her when the

time was right.

“What’s going on, Jack?” Mulder asked as they

walked down the corridor to the offices at

the end. He closed the door behind them and

watched as Jack walked straight to the window

and looked outside, his hands tucked in his

pockets like Skinner always used to do.

“I had another vision last night,” he said.

“They come more often now and they frighten

me. I feel like they’re trying to tell me

that we’re getting close, but that we’re

running out of time. These latest visions

scare me because they’re unlike the ones I’ve

had before. In the past I felt like I could

help people with what I saw. Now I can only

guess at what is happening.”

“You are the conduit,” Mulder tried to

explain. “It’s through you that we must

proceed in finding him.”

“But what if he uses me the same way?” Jack

asked desperately. “What if he too has those

visions and only allows me to see what he

wants me to see?”

“We can only assume that you alone have those

visions, through some connection that you

have with him,” Mulder said slowly, suddenly

realizing he had been through the same thing

years ago with John Lee Roche. The connection

had been there, and it been two-way. “No,” the

agent said out loud. “We cannot assume that.”

Mulder took a deep breath and concentrated on

Jack. “Tell me what you saw.”

“It’s complicated.”

“Just try.”

“There was a large building and a lot of

people inside. They were all dressed in

tuxedos and evening dress. It was some sort

of party or benefit. There was a huge sign

out front. Wait, it was a sign for the AIDS

benefit. He moved and then stopped and

looked around. There were a lot of different

people that I saw, all very blurry faces. I

couldn’t make them out. But there was a

female hand that stretched out. I didn’t see

her face, but I caught a glimpse of her dress

and the ring on her finger. It was a special

ring.”

“Do you think you would be able to recognize

that ring and dress?”

“I think so.”

“He chose his next victim,” Mulder said. “He

was at the AIDS benefit and picked out the

victim Wells gave to him. He’s moving

forward. If the past two days are any

indication, tonight he will try to kill his

third victim.”

“Wells?” Jack asked surprised.

Quickly Mulder explained his theory on the

psychic ability of their killer. Jack

listened in surprise, realizing at last that

he couldn’t grasp what was going on. No one

really could. He sighed deeply and rubbed his

head. He was so tired of these visions. All

he wanted was to lead a regular life and

forget he ever saw anything inside of his

mind.

Mulder put his hand on the man’s shoulder and

said, “You did well, Jack. I promised you

help and I will give it to you. Just hang on

for a bit longer and try to see the best of

it.”

Jack smiled wryly. “You’re forgetting I’m not

so experienced with this paranormal stuff.

You’re the expert.”

“You’re learning quickly,” Mulder responded.

“Now then, can you get us a list of attendees

at that party?”

“Of course,” Jack answered, tiredly.

“We need to concentrate on that ring and

dress. First priority now is to find our

victim. Do you think that ring was custom-

made?”

“It must have been,” Jack said, “I had never

seen anything like it.”

“Can you try to get a list of jewelers in

town that could do this?”

“I’ll have one of my men on it. He’s quite

good at that sort of thing. I’m sure he’ll

find it quickly.”

“Good,” Mulder said. “Because time is running

out on us. Can we compare the list of the

guests of last night’s benefit with the

guests of other well-known benefit parties

that occurred just recently – let’s say

during the past two months?”

“Of course,” Jack said. “Mulder, what exactly

are you thinking? Is our killer a high

profile man? Is he attending all of those

benefits as well, choosing his victims

amongst his friends?”

“The victims let him in. He knew their

habits. He was most likely a friend or

acquaintance. It does make sense. He most

likely had an affair with Susannah Delaney

too. Since that list is quite long, it might

take us a while to go through all the names,

and then we can only hope that their romance

was known.”

“Is all of that in your profile, Mulder?”

Jack grinned.

“Most of it,” the agent responded. “Let’s see

if we can pass the profile on, shall we?”

Within half an hour Mulder’s profile had been

approved by Skinner and sent out by email to

all the law enforcement agencies in town.

Every FBI agent knew what kind of person they

were looking for. But that still didn’t make

things easier. The most confidential note in

the profile was that the killer most likely

lived in the ‘better parts’ of town, probably

leading a double life. Mulder had not

mentioned the Jekyll & Hyde syndrome but had

implied it.

Skinner was more than satisfied with the

preliminary report and profile. So was

Washington. But the killer was still on the

loose and as noon passed and snow began to

cover the streets, everyone felt the tension

grow.

Day Three, December 10, 2001

New York City

Scully left to complete the autopsy of

Stephen Wells. “Here I go again,” she

had muttered while leaving. Mulder and

Campbell worked like crazy going through the

lists of attendees of several high profile

local benefits. It was no good. Several names

popped up on every list, including the

mayor’s.

Another team was going through the tabloids

trying to gather a timeline on Susannah

Delaney’s love life. Jack also placed several

calls with different newspapers and a society

reporter who told him with whom Susannah had

been seen. So far about nine names had popped

up. There were different timeframes that

couldn’t be accounted for, and since her

hunger for one-night stands with young studs

was no big secret, everyone could only guess

at the correct amount of men she’d had.

From the timeline, six names appeared on the

guest lists of all the benefits as well.

Skinner called it a long shot but worth a

look. None of the names meant anything to

him, but both Jack and Mulder uttered a

surprised shout when Alec Thompson’s name

popped up again. At one of the benefits he

had taken Susannah as a guest.

“So Alec knew her,” Jack muttered, looking up

as his eyes darkened.

“Don’t you think you should have a word with

him?” Mulder asked.

“I guess so,” Jack said. “Who could have

thought this would ever happen.”

“What do you mean, Jack? What’s so

surprising about this Thompson guy?”

“I’m not sure at this point; just suffice it

to say something isn’t right, and I’m getting

a bad feeling about this,” he replied

morosely.

Mulder didn’t understand why Jack was so

upset but let his friend be. There were other

things to consider now

Before long Scully returned and on her hair

danced snowflakes. “It’s freezing out there,”

she said, blowing in her cold hands. Her nose

had turned a red tint as well. Mulder looked

at her and his heart made a quick jump before

he was able to concentrate on his work again.

Finally, around three o’clock Jack’s

colleague Chris Morgan called and said he

might have found the ring. From his vision

Jack had made a rough sketch that he had

faxed to his colleague downtown. With that

sketch Chris made his way around New York’s

most expensive jewelers, hoping that the ring

had been a product of The Big Apple.

“Are you sure?” Jack asked.

“Definitely.”

“Let’s go then,” Jack said, grabbing his

jacket. Mulder and Scully followed. Out in

the cold the three pulled their coats tighter

and rushed through the snow to the parking

lot. The cars were covered in snow.

“There’s our car,” Scully said, pointing to

the Chrysler that was parked near the exit.

“Just follow me,” Jack waved before he got

in. Mulder and Scully got in the other car

and waited for the detective to leave, but he

didn’t. Instead he got out and took a look at

the left tire. He waved with his hand towards

the agents.

“What’s wrong?” Mulder asked.

“I’ve got a flat. Damn it! I’ll have to get

that fixed.”

“I’ll tell the guard,” Mulder said. “Maybe he

can arrange to get it fixed.”

Mulder walked to the guard and explained him

what had happened. The guard nodded and said

he would make arrangements. At Mulder’s

insistence Jack slid in behind the steering

wheel and drove.

At the jewelry store Chris Morgan waited for

them. “The jeweler is pretty sure he made

that ring,” Morgan explained. “I showed him

the sketch and he has a photo of the original

that looks a lot like it. I suggest that you

take a look at it.”

The jeweler was polite and showed them a

picture of a ring he had specially designed.

Jack took one look at the photo and knew that

was the ring he had seen. “This is the one,”

he said. “Whom did you design it for?”

The jeweler seemed uncomfortable to give away

personal information but he had two FBI

agents and a cop standing before him. How

could he refuse? “I designed it for

Congresswoman McPherson,” he said. “She’s one

of my regular customers and inherited the

diamond. She wanted a unique design for it.

Her husband gave it to her as an anniversary

gift.”

Jack looked at the others. “If what we think

is right, she might be the next victim.”

“Or it might have been a waste of time,”

Scully said, hoping she was wrong.

“We have to get in touch with her and put her

in protective custody,” Jack said as they

walked out. “But what story are we going to

use? We can’t just go up there and tell her

we feel she might be in danger.”

Scully asked Jack, “Do you think you might

find out if she was involved with Stephen

Wells?”

Jack hesitated before saying softly, “No. She

couldn’t be involved with him.”

“She’s his sister, isn’t she?” Mulder said.

“Stephen Wells had a sister, Sophia. She’s

the one he’s after now. He wants to kill her

too.”

“That’s right,” Jack confirmed. “She is his

sister.”

Mulder felt a shock surge through him as he

suddenly realized he now had confirmation of

how the killer chooses his victims. “He picks

out the last person in one’s mind before

death occurs,” Mulder said slowly. “That’s

how he does it. He feeds on people’s

emotions, choosing that one person that means

more to you than anyone else; the one person

you would think of before dying.”

“Wait,” Scully said, ignoring Chris Morgan’s

stunned look. “Are you now officially calling

this an X-File, Mulder?”

“It has been since the day it started,

Scully,” Mulder said. “And now we have the

proof.”

“Why, because he goes after the sister having

first killed the brother? What proof is that?

It means nothing, Mulder. There is a

connection between all these people and it’s

down to earth. Don’t go looking for things

that aren’t there. We need to pursue this the

logical way. We cannot afford to turn this

into an X-File.”

“It is an X-File,” Jack said as he stepped

forward. “We need to pursue it that way. When

we find Congresswoman McPherson, we will find

him.”

“Fine,” Scully said, “I just don’t want to

be the one to tell Skinner.”

Mulder smiled, knowing he had practically won

her over. The evidence was there. Now all

they had to do was put the pieces together

and see how it explained the reasons behind

the heinous acts.

“Track down Congresswoman McPherson,” Mulder

said. “We need to talk to her before he finds

her and kills her.”

Act 4

Day Three, December 10, 2001

New York City

Later, when night settled in, everyone

felt the tension as they waited for more

bad news to come. But it didn’t. There

was no new attempt. There was no new bombing.

In a safe house, Congresswoman McPherson

waited with her husband. She knew she would

not see her bed that night. They had

persuaded her, convinced her that she was in

mortal danger. And she had run while her

heart was filled with grief over her

brother’s death. He had died by the hands of

the man that was now going to try and kill

her, they said. And so she had not thought it

over. She simply did what they told her to

do.

That night her house stayed empty. There was

no one present but the police officers that

kept an eye out, hoping that he would show

up.

But he didn’t. Because he had known they were

there. He had heard through his office.

Anger had settled in his heart when he stayed

at home that night, seeking revenge. He

wanted to punish the man that was after him.

He wanted to stop him.

And finally, when he went to bed in his

apartment, which he used when meetings ran

over too long and felt too tired to go home,

he knew he was going to kill him.

And he had found just the way.

Day Four, December 11, 2001

New York City

Even at a time like this when the morning

seems so far

Think that pain belongs to you but it’s

happened to us all

It’s all right to make mistakes you’re only

human

Inside everybody’s hiding something

After he dropped Jack off at his apartment

about two blocks from the hotel, Mulder and

Scully arrived back at the hotel around

midnight. Skinner was already there but

nowhere in sight. He had probably gone to bed

after debating for a long time with the mayor

and his assistant.

The two agents had a light meal together.

Again it was too late to eat properly.

Scully sighed while she ate her salad, plucking

at the vegetables on the plate. It was the

only meal the kitchen had to offer them at that

late hour.

They sat alone in the dining room and the

constant chatter of the female cook and one

of the waitresses sounded like white noise to

their ears. The two agents said quietly

together at first, both too tired to do much.

It seemed that it was going to be a very

short night once again.

“What is it?” Mulder asked.

She didn’t respond at first but finally put

down her fork and looked at him. “I’ve got a

bad feeling about this,” she said. “I feel

like we’re being watched. Our every move is

being recorded.”

“That’s the press for you. They know where

you are and what you’re doing. Fortunately

it’s just a one-time thing,” Mulder said

lightly, realizing he, too, wasn’t hungry

anymore. They were all very tired but at

least they could rest assure that tonight’s

victim had not died.

“I’m not talking about the press,” Scully

said. “I’m talking about him.”

“Do you feel he’s watching us?”

“Yes, and it gives me the chills,” she

admitted. “Mulder, in all these years we’ve

seen a lot of gruesome things. We’ve seen

murders that were beyond humanity. I know

there are bombers out there that don’t

hesitate to kill off hundreds of people if it

serves their political purpose. But it’s just

hard to grasp that someone deliberately does

this to make a person suffer. Every bit of

humanity inside that man is gone. He doesn’t

feel anything anymore. He uses his

intelligence and financial means to do this,

and he has the freedom to do this. I can’t

rest properly until I know he’s behind lock

and key.”

“I know,” Mulder said, placing a hand on

hers. “It’s difficult to work on this case,

but it’s going to be worth it when we get

him. And I promised you that vacation. Okay?

When we get out of here, we’re taking off. I

don’t care what anyone says about it. It’s

going to be our vacation.”

“As long as you don’t take me to Vegas, I

don’t care where we’re going,” she smiled.

“It’s a deal.” He smiled and his fingers

lingered long on her hand. “Let’s go,” he

said.

They pushed their chairs back and walked

to the elevators. When the doors closed

behind them, Scully felt her partner’s lips

on hers and she opened her mouth eagerly.

They knew they weren’t going to spend the

night together. In the morning Jack would

come to the hotel to drive to the police

station with them, where the search for the

killer continued. But it was after one and

they needed the rest. At Scully’s door they

said goodbye. With regret Mulder shut the

door behind him and took a shower.

He glanced at his watch. He was awake and not

eager to get to sleep. Sighing, he settled

down on the bed and went through the file for

the fourth or fifth time. He knew it by heart

now. He knew every single detail on the

killer and couldn’t help but wonder what they

had missed. But they had a list now of

potential ‘candidates’. In the morning they

would contact all the suspects and go over

their stories one by one. There would be a

break soon. The killer would slip up.

In the morning he would go for a run; that

always cleared his head. Central Park was

nearby. He had running shoes with him. Yeah,

a run would do him good.

With that thought Mulder finally fell asleep,

only to wake up around six-thirty. He got

changed and scribbled a note that he slipped

under Scully’s door. Jack was picking them up

around eight, so there was still plenty of

time.

Day Five, December 12, 2001

New York City

It was freezing cold out. For a second Mulder

regretted having gone out but his body

adjusted quickly. Warming up to a smooth pace

he left the hotel around the front, passing

the parking lot where a car with a running

engine idled beside his. The man inside the

vehicle glanced at Mulder as the vehicle

drove off. All the cars in the lot were

frozen, except for the one that just left. In

the dark, the vehicle’s lights pierced into

Mulder’s eyes for a second.

Mulder picked up the pace and jogged to

Central Park.

Scully woke up around seven-thirty, for a

while having difficulty remembering where she

was. She had slept like a log from the moment

she put her head down on the soft pillow. She

opened the curtains, and though it was still

dark out, dawn was slowly breaking. She switched

on one of the bedside lamps and caught sight of

something that lay in front of the door. She

yawned, slipped out of bed, and read the note

that Mulder had written her a note saying he

was out for a jog.

Great, Scully thought. He hardly sleeps, and

then he jogs when he should be resting. That

must make me one very lazy person. What a

combination! She smiled at the thought of

living together one day. Then she blushed.

There was no way they could move in together

just now. They had hardly come to terms with

their newfound feelings. Moving in together

seemed like something still too far away to

consider. And besides, she still liked what

little space she had to herself. It was going

perfectly well the way it was.

She washed up, brushed her teeth, and combed

her hair. Mulder would be back soon, and

Jack would be arriving around eight.

Mulder’s feet could hardly keep up with the

pace he was forcing upon himself in Central

Park. He couldn’t remember how long he had

been running like that, going so fast he

could hardly catch his breath. His body was

warm despite the freezing cold, but he didn’t

remove his sweater, knowing that could be

lethal to a runner.

His mind drifted away from everything he was

working on. He forced himself to keep up the

pace, passing a few other joggers on the way

when dawn finally arrived. His head suddenly

spun, his body reacting to the strain he had

put himself under.

Someone watched him while sitting on the

bench, as he made his run through the park.

He had followed Mulder from the hotel, where

their paths had crossed as well. The man’s

glance followed him as Mulder slowly

approached him. The agent was slowing down

now. The killer got up slowly and walked

towards him, making sure their paths would

cross again.

Mulder suddenly stopped, breathing heavily in

and out. He leaned forward, putting his hands

on his thighs as he forced his body to relax.

He opened his mouth as his head pounded and

his lungs filled with cold air. His back and

legs were sore from exhaustion.

The man passed him nearby and for a second

his hand touched Mulder’s back. The touch,

like wind brushing through one’s hair, was so

light it could have been ignored. Then the

touch was gone and the man walked forward.

Mulder blinked, looked up, and started

walking again towards the exit.

Before he reached the hotel, Jack walked

towards him. “Thought I might find you here,”

he smiled. “You’re still quite the runner,

aren’t you Mulder?”

Mulder had caught his breath again and

smiled. His eyes blinked. The run had done

him good. He had to change quickly now before

he started shivering with cold. Jack picked

up the pace and walked with him. “We need to

talk, Mulder,” he said before they entered

the hotel.

Mulder stopped and looked at him. “What

about?”

“This case. The way we’re handling it. Your

input.”

“You’re not happy with my input?” Mulder

frowned.

“Of course I am,” Jack said. “It’s just that

– I’ve got this feeling you’re taking things

very personally. I was thinking about it last

night and I’m not so sure that I’ve done the

right thing getting you here.” Jack’s excuse

sounded weak, Mulder thought. He wondered

what his friend was really trying to say.

“You look tired, Mulder,” Jack continued. “You

don’t sleep that much, do you? Did you eat

anything at all last night?”

“What are you – my mother?” Mulder muttered

as he started walking again. The hotel lobby

was busier now than before. Mulder ignored

the other guests and walked to the elevators.

Jack had difficulty following now.

“Look,” Jack said, “I talked to Smythe last

night. He called me for a report and asked

me to keep an eye on you. It seems that

you’ve got this habit of getting in too

deep, and I don’t want that on my conscience.

I asked you here because you are a fantastic

profiler, but I don’t want you hurt.”

Mulder pushed the elevator button. “No, you

asked me for advice. You got me in on this

case knowing it was an X-File. Technically,

that means I could take over, but I’m not

going to. It’s your case and I’m helping you

out. You still have to live in this town,

Jack. I get to go home when it’s over, and

I’ll watch from a distance how you’ll get

your promotion. And I’ll also watch when you

refuse to give in to your ability to do more

good than you’re already doing. Since you’ve

already made your decision about ignoring

your gift, there’s not much more I can say,

is there?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jack asked.

He paled, realizing Mulder was right. He

hadn’t come here to persuade Mulder to take

it easy. He came here in order to find an

excuse not to proceed with an ability he had

tried to ignore most of his life.

“You know what it means,” Mulder said as the

doors shut behind them. “You do what you want

with your life, Jack, but if you have another

case like this because of your visions, I

suggest you seek other ways to go about solving

it.”

“Are you accusing me of abusing our

friendship?”

Mulder leaned tiredly against the glass.

“Call it what you like. I’m not in the mood

to argue while we should be out there finding

our killer. So if you came here to tell me I

should back off, think again. You asked me to

work this case with you and I am, to the best

of my ability. Smythe knows something about

my habits and the way I work. Now you do,

too. If you don’t like it, you can always

send me back to Washington, but I suspect that

you won’t. You need me too much right now.”

Jack paled even more and didn’t walk out the

elevator with him. “I’ll wait downstairs,”

he said as the doors closed behind him.

Day Five, December 12, 2001

New York City

Scully waited patiently until he returned to

his room. She could hear him slamming the

doors, and then there were noises coming from

the bathroom. He was in the shower. She

decided not to disturb him, but left for the

lobby instead, leaving a note on the door

that she was waiting downstairs.

Jack was downstairs as well, looking very

glum. She could tell there had been an

argument. She walked over to him. “Hey,” she

said. “How’s it going?”

“Besides from the fact I’m an ass,

everything’s going well,” he said. “Where’s

Mulder?”

“Getting changed. Did you have a fight with

him?”

“Let’s just call it a pathetic attempt at

trying to avoid my responsibilities,” Jack

sighed as his fingers touched his temples.

“I’m sorry, Dana. I should have known better,

but I’m just tired and took it out on

Mulder.”

“He’ll forgive you,” she said. “We’ve got

other things to concentrate on right now.

We’ve got a long day ahead of us and

hopefully our killer at the end of it. Are

you driving with us?”

“No. My car is fixed – I got a call from

security. I hope you guys don’t mind.”

“Don’t be silly. Skinner should be down any

minute now too.” Scully turned and saw

Skinner and Mulder come downstairs. At the

breakfast table not a word was spoken. Mulder

was still angry, but Scully could see he was

calming down when he noticed Jack’s

apologetic glance. By the end of breakfast

they were talking again.

“We’re going to work on that list of suspects

this morning,” Mulder said, taking out the

printout he had made the day before with the

names of men that might have been involved

with Susannah. “Sir, if you can, we need your

help too.”

“Of course,” Skinner said. “I suppose we’re

splitting up in two groups?”

“That’s right,” Jack said. “I have my team

going through the extensive list of attendees

at the benefit as well, hoping that they

might bump into a coincidence. This afternoon

I will be talking to Congresswoman McPherson

to see if there are mutual acquaintances with

her brother that might be considered

enemies.”

“Good,” Skinner said. “We’re progressing.

Mrs. McPherson will remain in protective

custody?”

“Yes, sir,” Mulder said. “We are assuming

she’s still high on the hit list. But if he

changes his MO there’s not much we can do

about it.”

“I’ll try again to get through to Alec

Thompson,” Jack said. “I still need to find

out what he was doing at the Wells’ crime

scene. The whole situation is quite odd, but

couldn’t get through to him yesterday. Hopefully,

I’ll have the chance to speak with him today.”

“Good,” Skinner said. “Let’s get to work

then.”

The four got up and walked to the reception

area. Before getting out the hotel manager

walked over. “We will arrange your cars for

you,” he said. “They’ll need defrosting.”

“That’s very kind of you,” Mulder said. “But

not necessary.”

“Please, we insist. Unfortunately we don’t

have an underground parking lot and we always

serve our guests.”

“All right then,” Mulder said, handing over

the keys. Skinner did the same. Two bellboys

hurried out with warm coats to warm up and

fetch the cars. Scully had already gone

outside and was walking while on the phone

with the coroner’s office. She had a meeting

in about an hour to discuss the final

results. Mulder watched as she walked over to

the car.

Mulder turned to the manager. “You don’t have

an underground parking lot?” he asked.

“That’s right, sir.”

“So basically every car that is parked here

at night has to be frozen?”

“I guess so,” the manager said surprised.

Mulder frowned. “Is or was there a guest here

that drives a black Sedan who left early this

morning?”

“I can check, sir,” the manager said. “Is

there a problem?” The manager hurried to the

desk and checked the computer file with guest

entries and vehicles registration numbers.

All the vehicles that stood on the parking

lot were signed in. He looked up at a very

nervous Mulder.

“Jesus Christ,” Mulder said as he glanced

towards the bellboys that had reached the two

cars. There had been a car parked next to his

rental earlier that morning. It hadn’t been

frozen and it wasn’t from any of the guests.

“Jesus Christ,” he repeated as he rushed out,

to Skinner and Jack’s surprise. Mulder

practically flew, shouting Scully’s name. She

was still on the phone and didn’t hear him at

first. In the back, the bellboy had slid into

the car, putting the key in the ignition.

“Scully!” he screamed as his tired legs

refused to go any faster. She turned, still

holding the phone in her hands. Her eyes

looked at him, surprised. Then she was in his

arms as she dropped the phone and he dragged

her with him, making the decision to save

her. It was too late to warn the bellboy.

The car started. Mulder thought he could

actually hear the click as the device armed.

Then there was another click, followed by an

enormous blast that knocked them to the

ground. He threw himself over her as they hit

the ground, hard. The blast was so big that

Mulder could feel the flames on his back, but

they didn’t scourge him. There was a strange

numbness through his body. Scully lay deathly

quiet beneath him.

The next moment the world seemed to be on

fire, and then all went black.

To be concluded in Matrix Part 2

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