TITLE: PHOENIX RISING
Category: Casefile, MSR, AU in that this takes place
sometime after Season 7 assuming that Requiem and
anything after that never took place.
Rating: PG-13 for some gruesome crime scene details,
violence and a little hanky panky.
Spoilers: Non specific but I’m sure your memory will
be jogged along the way.
Archive: Exclusive to IMTP for two weeks then
anywhere, please just let me know.
Summary: Against the backdrop of a murder mystery
Mulder and Scully discover a new purpose for their work
and a new outlook for their future.
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully and the other characters of
THE X-FILES are not mine, I’m just borrowing them for
the purpose of my story. See further notes at the end.
“PHOENIX” a mythical bird who rose from its own ashes
to begin a new cycle of life; an emblem of immortality
or of reborn idealism or hope; a person or thing that
has been restored after suffering a calamity.
FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE
Mulder propped his head in his hands, raking his scalp
with his fingers in an attempt to wake himself up.
What the hell was he doing here anyway? Here at
Skinner’s request or warning depending on how you took
it. Mulder flashed back to the conversation in the
Assistant Director’s office two weeks ago.
“I could assign you this case, Mulder, but I won’t. I
know what a case like this does to you. I know how you
find yourself becoming a part of it.”
Skinner looked the agent right in the eyes.
“The assignment came from outside the Bureau and if it
wasn’t that Matt Wilcox was a dear friend of mine, one
of the few I still have, I wouldn’t even approach you
Skinner was fighting a war within himself, Mulder could
see it and he’d appreciated the A.D.’s honesty.
“What about Agent Scully?”
Mulder knew what her plans were for the upcoming week
and he’d been determined not to jeopardize them.
Skinner had looked confused.
“I thought she was on her way out to San Diego for some
pathologist seminar. She told me she was giving a
lecture of some sort. She seemed really excited about
it. I hadn’t planned on her going with you if that’s
“No, that’s fine. That’s why I asked. This is
something she has wanted to do for some time.”
He remembered breaking eye contact with the man,
looking down at his fingers, and doing a bit of
manicuring with his nails.
At the A.D.’s mention of his name he’d looked up.
“You don’t have to make a decision right now. Take the
files home, have Scully look them over with you.”
Skinner’s implication that Scully would be ‘home’ when
he got there to look over the files was not lost on
him. Skinner was well aware of their relationship and
though it was not against Bureau policy. He’d also known
the A.D. had not shared his knowledge with anyone else.
Their partnership was as strong as ever and that’s all
the Bureau needed to be concerned about. Or so he
“But you’re still concerned about the future of the X-
Files, am I right”?
Skinner had seemed a bit nervous. The conversation in
his office had begun with a discussion of where Mulder
thought the X-Files were headed. What was it that he
still hoped to accomplish with the division and
Skinner’s concern that Washington wouldn’t understand
the value of their work. Then the real issue was laid
on the table.
“I’m telling you this off the record, Agent Mulder. As
I’m sure you’re well aware, between the economy and
this mess in Iraq the president isn’t exactly winning
any popularity contests at the moment. Even with all
these appropriations, money is getting channeled from
all over to pay for the war. All I can tell you is that
there will likely be budget cuts on the way. Big ones.
The X-Files are a luxury that I don’t think the Bureau
can afford, unless something changes their mind.”
Mulder understood that implication.
“But this case doesn’t appear to be an X-File, sir.
From what you’ve told me they have a serial killer
loose in Cleveland and there’s public pressure on all
sections of law enforcement to do something about it.”
Skinner stood, effectively ending their conversation.
“Take the files home, Agent Mulder. Tell me what you
He’d gathered up the files the A.D. had placed before
him certain that he had read that implication and
nodded as he stood, making his way to the door.
2630 HEGAL PLACE
TWO WEEKS EARLIER
Mulder had been quiet all evening. Scully’s flight was
due to leave shortly after nine the following morning.
She was looking forward to the week away from D.C. but
not necessarily away from Mulder. Especially not now
considering this case that Skinner had offered him.
Mulder knew she’d been a member of this pathologist
organization for a long time and they had repeatedly
contacted her regarding a speaking engagement at their
annual convention and seminar. This year, with his
encouragement she had resolved to make it and had been
preparing her presentation with him as the audience for
some time. He’d been distracted that evening by the
case and the conversation with Skinner. As she’d
finished up, she had added a final comment to her
He hadn’t responded at first but then what she had said
She’d smiled at his confusion.
“I said don’t go. Ask for some vacation time and come
out there with me.”
She had made him smile with her determination to keep
him out of Cleveland. He shook his head.
“No, you go. You planned to spend some time with Bill
and his family. I’m not too sure he’d appreciate me
“I don’t care what my brother thinks. We’ve been
through that enough times.”
“I know, Scully. It’s okay. Besides, I still haven’t
made a decision yet.”
“Don’t lie to me, Mulder. Five deaths in a little over
a year and a half and all dismembered. You’re not
going to step away from this and we both know it.”
She was right, but he’d had enough of the gruesome
details of the case. He wouldn’t see her for at least
a week. He needed a memory to keep with him while she
“How about some ice cream?”
“Your freezer has never seen ice cream, Mulder. How
did we end up over here anyway?”
He really wasn’t sure about the answer to that
question. He’d gone home right from work and being
unable to resist the files Skinner had given him, he
had opened them and begun to read. As the horror had
begun to sink in he’d called Scully for a break. She’d
wanted another chance to run her presentation by him
and stated she needed to go out. She suggested picking
up something to eat.
“You came over here if I remember correctly.”
She had, but only because something in his voice made
her uneasy. She really hadn’t expected to see him
until the following morning when he came to take her to
“We can take a walk, up to the park, there’s that
little restaurant deli place that has homemade ice
“It’s not exactly ice cream weather out there, Mulder.”
He stood, stretching stiff muscles and grabbed her hand
to pull her to her feet.
“Come on, toughen up, girl. The fresh air will do us
They’d walked to the deli and gotten ice cream. She
had been right, it wasn’t exactly ice cream weather but
they’d ended up in the park anyway despite the chilly
She had sat on the stonewall that bordered the walkway
seductively licking that cone. He’d been leaning on
the wall next to her and had wolfed down what remained
of his own ice cream after he’d seen her shiver. He
had a really good idea how to warm her up. He’d turned
to her and parting her legs had stepped between them.
“Mulder, what are you doing?” she’d asked him in mock
“You seem a little cold, thought I could warm you up.”
There was mischief in his eyes that she was obviously
finding hard to resist. He’d taken what was left of
her cone from her hand. Tipped it towards her face and
touched her lips with it.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”
And he had. Touching her lips with his. When she’d
responded he’d deepened the kiss. Drawing her close
and wrapping her in an embrace. The photos from the
files Skinner had given him, those bizarre images of
death had suddenly come to him and he’d wanted nothing
more than to feel every inch of her warmth. When he’d
gotten a little too brave, inching his hands up under
her jacket and sweater she’d stopped him.
“We’re in a public park, Mulder,” she’d cautioned him,
well aware of his arousal.
“Nobody’s out walking at this hour, Scully.”
They’d walked back to his place and despite his best
intentions she had begged off and gone on home to
finish getting ready for her trip.
When he’d gone back up to his apartment he’d found an
envelope that had been slid under his door. What he’d
found inside had chilled him more than the weather.
Photographs of he and Scully and their sojourn in the
park less than an hour ago along with a note.
‘BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LOVE’
FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE
Whether it had been a warning or not, he’d taken it as
such and so here he was, alone in Cleveland. Well, to
rephrase that, not exactly alone. When he’d arrived,
Wilcox had been more than friendly and accommodating.
He’d paired him with the agent assigned to the case
when the local police had come seeking help. A face
Mulder would have preferred to never see again, Peyton
Peyton had been ‘reassigned’ to the Cleveland field
office in 1999 after accidentally shooting Scully
during a case in New York. Mulder had wanted the guy
dismissed but it was Dana herself who had testified
that he was a valuable agent who needed a second
chance. So here he was in Cleveland, his second
chance, and here Mulder was trying to play nice.
Peyton had done all right for himself here and Mulder
had learned from him over a beer that he’d met someone
really nice and had gotten married. The couple’s first
child was due in three months.
Mulder could sense that Peyton was trying desperately
to make amends for his mistake several years ago but
the two of them were just not working well together. A
long week and another death later Mulder was no closer to
this killer than anybody else had been. But what he
had found in that week was beginning to lead him to
believe that Skinner had some sixth sense of his own.
Back in the 1930’s Cleveland had been the scene of one
of the most horrific murder cases of all time. Labeled
the ‘Torso Murders’, thirteen people were brutally
murdered and dismembered over the course of four years
beginning in 1934, all of them decapitated, most of
them while they were still alive. Despite the
involvement of then Safety Director and former federal
agent Eliot Ness, no suspect was identified and no one
was ever brought to trial. The murders had ended as
mysteriously as they had begun.
The killer had earned the nickname ‘The Mad Butcher of
Kingsbury Run’ because most of the victims had been
found in that area of Cleveland. Kingsbury Run was the
name given to a prehistoric riverbed that ran from just
south of the city through an industrial area known as
“The Flats”, along the Cuyahoga River. Back in the
1930’s it had been one of the most appalling ghettos in
This new series of killings had started much the same
way as those back in the 30’s with the discovery of the
lower half of a woman’s torso washed ashore on a local
Lake Erie beach almost a year and a half ago. The body
had been treated with some sort of chemical
preservative that had turned the flesh red, tough and
leathery, almost like it had been tanned. The woman
was never identified.
Eight month’s later, a decapitated corpse of a white
male had been found in the Kingsbury Run area, naked,
drained of blood with rope burns around both wrists.
Fingerprints had identified him as twenty-eight-year
old William Hovel, a homeless man who had been arrested
several times for vagrancy. Also discovered nearby was
the decapitated and emasculated corpse of another man,
covered in the same preservative as the woman. This
body had apparently been dead for several weeks. He
had yet to be identified.
Four months later, parts of a woman’s body had been
found wrapped in newspaper and stuffed into bushel
baskets alongside a vacant building on Central Avenue.
The rest of the body with the exception of the head had
been discovered several days later in a nearby field.
Fingerprints had again allowed her to be identified as
Angie Hall a bar maid and prostitute.
Just two months ago, two boys had discovered the head of
a white male wrapped in a pair of trousers close to the
E. 55th Street bridge. Police had found the body the
next day but despite fingerprints and some distinctive
tattoos this man had yet to be identified either.
Despite long hours working on a profile of this latest
killer, Mulder found himself faced with yet another
victim when just three days ago a transient had
discovered the upper half of a man’s torso while trying
to hop a train in the flats. The victim had been dead
about two months. His head and a pile of bloody
clothing were found nearby. The search of a nearby
pond had also yielded the lower half of the torso and
parts of both legs.
In his examination of the paperwork from the original
murders, the cause of death in all cases had been
decapitation. The autopsy reports indicated a lack of
hesitation marks suggesting a strong, confident killer
familiar with human anatomy. The heads had been cut
off with one bold, clean stroke. All the victims had
What was so disturbing was that the files on all the
latest victims matched almost exactly those from the
1930’s; six victims so far and if the scenario
continued to play out, there would be seven more.
Someone was either playing an elaborate game or there
was more to the case than anyone else would believe.
Thoughts of Leonard Betts, Eugene Tooms and Mostow came
to mind. And with the ancient history of the riverbed
itself, something ‘prehistoric’ in nature was not
totally out of the question. All things Mulder really
didn’t want to think about.
Mulder had talked to Scully several times during the
past week, trying desperately to keep the
apprehension out of his voice. Her presentation had
gone well and she was enjoying her time with Bill and
his family. The brief conversations had brought him
back from the darkness and he had welcomed it.
His thoughts had also been with what Skinner had said.
If the Bureau was forced to cut the X-Files from the
budget, where did it leave them? He refused to go back
to profiling. He was so damn tired.
FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE
Scully made her way though the bullpen of the Cleveland
office. Cleveland’s FBI regional office was located in
an office tower at the corner of 9th and Lakeside,
probably the windiest corner in all of northeast Ohio.
She caught her reflection in the glass panels that
lined the hallway. Her hair was windblown and chaotic
and she suddenly wished she had ducked into the Ladies
Room before looking for Cleveland’s SAIC.
Changing her travel plans, she had caught a red-eye out
of San Diego. One connecting flight later she was
there. Her last conversation with Mulder had convinced
her that all was not going well. A brief conversation
with Skinner had confirmed that Wilcox was
worried about Mulder. She hated to admit it, but she’d
seen this coming.
She turned at the sound of her name to see a tall
gentleman with silvery hair approaching her.
“I’m Matt Wilcox, he said, extending his hand.
“Welcome to Cleveland.”
She accepted his greeting and returned the gesture.
Matt had a steady, reassuring gaze that reminded her of
Scully remembered their last trip to Cleveland in 1995.
She had been snubbed during the case by a chauvinistic
police detective who obviously had a real problem with
women of authority. Wilcox seemed like he would respect
“We’re really glad to add your expertise to the case,
Agent Scully. Not that I don’t think our pathology
department is top notch, but I’m sure you know you have
a reputation for putting the most extreme evidence to
Scully wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or not.
She wasn’t sure she was happy about having a
The AIC sensed her apprehension to his comment. “I
suppose you’re looking for Agent Mulder?”
“Yes, is he here?”
“We have him set up in the conference room at the end
of the hall,” he said as he motioned towards a long
hallway lined with private offices. “I expect you’ll
find him there.”
“Thank you, it was a pleasure to meet you.”
As she turned, Wilcox made one last parting comment.
“You’re probably going to figure out that your
professional expertise is not the only reason we’re
glad to have you here.”
She nodded slightly, wondering what he was implying as
she headed off down the hallway in search of her
Shortly before reaching the partially opened door of
the conference room, the sound of her name again
stopped her in mid step. Hesitating only a brief
moment she turned around to find Peyton Ritter striding
down the hallway with a cup of steaming coffee in each
“I’d offer you one of these but they’re both for your
Scully winced at the thought of Mulder living on
Peyton nodded towards the conference room and Scully
pushed on the door allowing Peyton to enter the room
ahead of her. As she followed him in, the first thing
that assaulted her eyes was the wallpaper that now
decorated almost every inch of bare wall space. The
blinds had been drawn against the morning sun leaving
the room in a gloomy florescent haze.
Photocopies of old crime scene photos, grotesque images
of disembodied limbs and headless torsos were mixed
with the current photographs from the case, depicting
much the same scenes. Scattered throughout were photos
of men and women, the victims she assumed.
Peyton cleared his throat from behind her, drawing her
attention away from the grisly scenes. Turning to face
him, her eyes were drawn to Mulder, slumped across the
conference table sound asleep. His glasses, which she
hardly ever saw him in anymore, sat askew on his nose.
His hair was disheveled and he needed a shave. The
dress shirt he wore looked like he had slept in it for
“I guess he won’t be needing these,” Peyton said as he
set the coffee cups down on the table. “It’s good to
see you again, Agent Scully.”
Scully could tell Peyton was somewhat uneasy with the
partnership arrangements. The memory of their ill-
fated case in New York was still fresh.
She glared at Mulder. Now she understood what Wilcox
had been referring to, why he was glad she was here.
Damn it, after all these years, things hadn’t changed.
Peyton, sensing her need to talk to Mulder, moved away
from the table.
“I’ll be back in a little while,” he offered with a shy
smile and stepped from the room, leaving her alone with
As the door closed behind Peyton, Scully walked around
the table to stand behind her partner. A couple of
legal pads filled with almost illegible scrawl lay
under his folded arms. Reaching across him, she began
sifting through the case documents spread over the
table. Most of them were autopsy files from the 1930
murders. Mulder had numbered them with post-it-notes
in the order the victims had been found. Current crime
scene photos were also numbered to correspond with the
original victims. The murders were being committed in
exactly the same way and in exactly the same order.
Also mixed in were copies of newspaper articles from
the CLEVELAND PRESS and CLEVELAND NEWS, old police
reports and court records. Suddenly something caught
her eye, a novel, THE UNTOUCHABLES written in part by
Ness himself. Scully picked up the book and found
herself gazing at the likeness of Ness on the back
cover, a tall man, dressed in a neat suit. She smiled
inwardly at how much he reminded her of someone else.
Mulder stirred in his chair, his right hand coming up
to pull the glasses off his face. He pinched the bridge
of his nose.
Scully dropped the book back on the table and slowly
began to massage his shoulders. As she worked, she
could feel his tense muscles begin to relax.
“I think I’ve died and gone to heaven,” he mumbled to
her, his head now resting on his crossed arms.
“I still can’t leave you alone for a minute, can I?”
He sat up then, tipping his head back to look up at her
with bloodshot eyes.
“Please tell me that’s fresh coffee I smell.”
“I was hoping you’d be more attracted to me,” she said
with a sigh, letting go of his shoulders.
He pushed the chair back, placing his hands on the
table and pushing himself to his feet. When he swayed
a little she reached to grab his arm.
“Mulder, you’re exhausted.”
The chagrined look he gave her told her he knew it and
he turned around to rest his ass against the table,
reaching for her and wrapping her in a warm embrace.
“I’m glad you’re here,” he mumbled into her shoulder.
“I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into.”
She pushed him back, looking up to meet his eyes,
brushing her lips across his. His hand came up between
them and he placed his fingers against her lips pulling
“I can’t tell you the last time I brushed my teeth,” he
admitted with just a little bit of embarrassment.
She could hear the defeat in his voice. Two weeks of
sifting though ancient documents had given him little
to go on. She was sure he had theories but she wasn’t
sure she wanted to hear them.
He looked down then at his scuffed shoes.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Scully. I can’t
put the pieces together, not like I used to. It’s like
there’s something missing, the part of me that could do
this, that could put myself in this man’s mind isn’t
He was serious and yet she couldn’t help but think that
was a good thing. That he couldn’t drive himself so
deep that he couldn’t get out. But she also realized
that this was important to him. That ‘spooky’ part of
him was something that legends were made of and even
though Mulder was not one to bask in the rewards of
commendations, she also knew that there was a certain
pride there and right now it was failing him.
He needed sleep and a good meal and someone to bounce
his theories off.
“Gather up whatever you need Mulder and let’s get out
He nodded, turning back to the table he began to
collect the files and profiles he’d been working on.
There was a sudden rap on the door and Peyton shyly
stuck his head in the door.
Mulder looked up but didn’t stop what he was doing.
“Yeah, come on in.”
Peyton opened the door a little further but didn’t
enter. He glanced at Scully apologetically.
“I just heard they found another body.”
Mulder just stood there for an instant, not saying
anything. He straightened up and put his hands on his
hips and stared of at the wall of grisly photographs.
He felt Scully touch his right arm and he turned to
look at her with a weary expression.
“You got a car?”
Turning back to Ritter. “We’ll follow you.”
CONRAIL TRACKS UNDER THE 9th STREET BRIDGE
It looked like half the Cleveland Police Department was
in attendance as Mulder and Scully approached the crime
scene. Despite his suit coat and trench, a strange
chill that had little to do with the frigid air was
beginning to creep up on Mulder. He had the strange
sensation that he was being watched and not just by the
officers who gave a disapproving glance their way.
Several Conrail workers had discovered the torso of a
woman wrapped in a man’s jacket and then wrapped again
in a blanket. The legs and arms had also been
discovered wrapped in butcher paper and placed inside a
newly constructed wooden box. The head had been
wrapped in a similar manner. While searching for parts
of this body, police had also found the remains of
another victim nearby. The death toll had now reached
Scully had gone off to examine the box of remains;
Mulder stayed where he was, still possessed by that
strange chilling sensation. He looked up at the face
of the Federal Building, home of the FBI offices. This
site was in plain view of the office he had been
working in. Remembering the 1930 case files, it
occurred to him that Eliot Ness had been taunted in
much the same manner.
Though the police had tried to keep onlookers at bay,
both the media and a crowd of morbid spectators had
gathered around the site. He saw Scully step away from
Wilcox and the chief of police and head his way. He
continued to scan the crowd, determined that the cause
of his chill would be found there.
He knew she was standing only a few feet from him,
her coat gathered around her to ward off the chilly
wind that blew up from the lake, but he still did not
acknowledge her. There was something here, he was sure
of it now. He could almost hear the voice of the
bastard taunting him.
Scully reached over to get his attention by grabbing
his arm. He still didn’t look at her, his attention
seemingly drawn to the many faces that moved about in
“Find anything?” he finally asked her.
“I believe that at least some of the body parts in that
box have been refrigerated, Mulder”
“Why would the killer do that?”
“To preserve them for some reason, or maybe they belong
to a different corpse. I’m not sure.”
“If I’d had the blinds open I might have seen something,
She was confused. He was carrying on this whole
conversation without once meeting her eyes.
“What are you talking about?”
He grabbed her shoulders and turned her around,
pointing up to the office tower directly at the top of
the 9th Street ramp.
“The FBI offices are right up there.”
She sighed. “Mulder you would have to have binoculars
to see this far.”
“Ness was taunted in the same way Scully.”
“What makes you think the killer is taunting you? This
all started long before you were brought on the case,
“I don’t know. I just have this feeling that this all
has something to do with me, that someone here is
trying to get me to understand that.”
She watched as he continued to scan the crowd
throughout their conversation.
“What are you looking for?”
Suddenly she felt Mulder freeze, his hands digging
into her shoulders. When she looked up into his eyes
they were cold and unresponsive. He was beginning to
“Mulder? What is it?”
He didn’t answer her, moving away from her in the
direction of a group of people who had been standing in
the drizzle behind the police tape.
Mulder’s eyes came to rest on a tall man wearing a
Cleveland Indians baseball cap. He was older; probably
a good forty pounds heavier than Mulder with a scarred
face. The chill that had been present was now making
him shake, and yet, Mulder couldn’t help but think he
knew this man. There was something about his gaze that
looked very familiar. He made eye contact with the
“Excuse me, sir?”
Mulder tried to get his attention but as soon as their
eyes met, the man stepped away and seemed to vanish into
the crowd of onlookers. Mulder couldn’t do anything, not
then and not there. Instead, he focused on making a
mental image of the man in the hope of later
Scully watched him from where he’d left her. He stood
with his back to her, his coat billowing in the strong
wind. He seemed transfixed on someone in the crowd but
he made no move to acknowledge whoever had garnered his
As the bodies were loaded into the coroner’s van the
police began to break up the crowd. Several media
persons were trying desperately to interview local law
enforcement about the discovery. It was time to go to
Either he didn’t hear her approach or he ignored her.
When she touched his arm he jumped.
“Mulder, we need to get out of this weather. Come on,
the police can handle this. I’ve already asked to be
present at the autopsies.”
He turned and looked down are her.
“No, we need to go back to the Bureau I need to find a
“I think I know who the killer is Scully.”
FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE
“He was wearing a baseball cap and his face was
disfigured, maybe burned. Yeah, that’s good. Age him
about 5 years.”
Mulder had been working with an agent from the local
office who was using a computer program designed to
create composite images of suspects using descriptions
from eyewitnesses, a sort of high tech sketch artist.
Together they had come up with the person Mulder
insisted he’d seen down at the crime scene. It was his
hope that the facial recognition software of the bureau
would be able to match this guy from the known felon
He stood behind the agent, his hands on the back of the
chair and at this point, Scully was sure he was doing
that solely to support himself. She’d managed to get
him to eat half a sandwich and down a diet coke but she
had no idea what was keeping him going. The door
opened behind her and Wilcox stepped into the office.
“What’s going on? I hear Mulder ID’d our suspect?”
She touched Wilcox’s arm and led him back out into the
hall, closing the door behind them.
“He thinks he knows who the killer is. He told me he
saw him down at the crime scene.”
“And he didn’t think to mention this to anyone down
there at the time?” Wilcox replied somewhat irritated
with Mulder’s vagueness. “I don’t understand.”
Neither did she actually, but she wasn’t about to let
Wilcox or anyone else know that. Just then the door
opened behind her and she turned to see Mulder with a
photo in his hand. He met her eyes briefly and then
turned his attention to Wilcox.
“We need to run this through the NCIC database. See
if we can put a name with this face,” he said as he
handed Wilcox the photo.
“You believe this is our man? Based on what evidence?”
Wilcox was a little irritated with Mulder’s insistence.
Mulder was just as irritated, tired and short on
“Look, humor me okay.” He glanced at Scully with a
‘what did you tell him’ look and then back to Wilcox.
“I saw this guy down by the tracks, trying to blend in
with all the other onlookers. He looked right at me.
You know damn well that killers are often fascinated by
their own handiwork, he was right there getting a big
kick out of us stumbling around trying to figure out
“And just what would that motive be, Agent Mulder?”
“You find out who he is and I’ll figure out his
Wilcox grabbed the photo from Mulder and turned. “You
go lay down before you fall down. And you, Agent
Scully, make sure he does. I don’t want to see either
of you back here today!”
HAMPTON INN, CLEVELAND
She’d gotten him to shower and lay down but she knew
he’d never sleep. He lay on his back in jeans and a
tee shirt, his arm over his eyes. She had checked into
a separate room on the same floor, if for no other
reason than to keep up appearances, and had changed into
more comfortable clothes herself. The sound of the
door closing brought the response she had figured it
“Nothing from Ritter yet on my suspect?”
“Nothing. Mulder, if he’s not a known felon . . .”
“Yeah I know. Nothing’s going to come up.”
He raked his hands across his face and left them
covering it. Scully sat down on the bed beside him and
pulled his hands from his face.
He wiggled his eyebrows.
“What ya got in mind?”
Scully rolled her eyes.
“Just roll over.”
Mulder obeyed, rolling over on his stomach and sliding
his arms underneath the flat pillow. He turned his
head so he could see her out of the corner of his eye.
Her hands came to rest on his still too-tense
shoulders. Working the tight muscles there, his upper
arms and down his back. It felt incredibly good and
his mind drifted. Maybe it really wasn’t worth it
anymore. He thought about Skinner’s question, just
where was he going with the X-Files lately? Yes, he
and Scully had made a difference in many a case that
would have remained unsolved, but was the effort really
all that rewarding anymore? More than once in the past
few years as their relationship had deepened, Mulder had
found it hard to imagine them spending the rest of
their careers in that basement office. There had to be
something more than that.
“. . . you suppose the killer would resurrect a case of
some brutal murders from almost seventy years ago?”
Scully had been talking to him and he’d been elsewhere
the whole time.
“Are you asleep?”
“Hmm, no, just thinkin.”
His attempt to instigate a different type of
conversation went right over her head.
“You’ve already concluded that this killer is matching
the crimes of the 1930’s in correlation to those of
this case. No one was ever brought to justice for
those crimes. Perhaps this is someone who is a family
member of one of the victims and is trying to prove how
ineffective or inefficient police investigative
Mulder thought about what she was saying and rolled
onto his back.
“What are you suggesting? That this killer could be
someone familiar with the original case, and by
reenacting the entire affair he wants to prove that law
enforcement is no better today than it was then?
That’s an interesting thought, Scully, but why wait 70
“There are a lot of people who believe the justice
system in this country is worse today than it was 70
years ago, Mulder.”
Sitting up, he reached over and grabbed a tablet out of
his briefcase. Scully wanted to scream.
“So, we need to find relatives of the original
“Mulder, most of them were never identified. How can
you find relatives of people with no names?”
“We have some names Scully, we’ll start from there.”
He began to scribble names from memory on the tablet.
Edward Anderson, Florence Pollino, Mary Wallace, the
only identified victims of the 1930’s killings.
William Hovel and Angie Hall the two identified victims
of the latest spree.
“Has there been any identification on the remains found
“Mulder, I don’t know. I went back to the Bureau with
you remember? And then we came back here. We haven’t
heard from anyone since the coroner took the bodies.”
“Well, see what you can find out,” he said in an ordered
tone. And then began digging through the files.
“We need to find out if there’s any correlation between
the victims from the 1930 and now…relatives, friends,
damn, something just doesn’t make sense here! We’re
Scully reached out in an attempt to stop Mulder’s
ravaging of the mess he had created on the bed. He
jerked his arm away from her.
“Will you just go do what I asked you to do!”
He was like a man possessed, not by a demon but by the
need to succeed. She knew now that the only way to get
him back was to help him do that very thing. She got
up off the bed without saying a word, pausing for a
moment to look at his haggard appearance. Then ever so
gently, she stroked the side of his face and leaned in
to kiss him. He returned the kiss. As they broke
apart he whispered three words to made her realize that
no matter how far he let himself go she would always
bring him back.
“I love you.”
HAMPTON INN, CLEVELAND
Mulder had spent the better part of an hour sifting
through the files from the 1930’s murders. It occurred
to him that the new killer had skipped several murders
in his reenactment of the original crimes. The victims
found today had corresponded to victims #11 and #12
from the original crime spree.
Was that done purposely? He still had this strange
thought that somehow this was all related to him. This
stepping up in the crimes, the man today, was it all
done to get his attention before more people died?
The original investigation had been the biggest police
investigation in Cleveland history. Two detectives
placed on the case, Peter Merylo and Martin Zelewski
had interviewed more than fifteen hundred people. By
the time the investigation ended more than five
thousand people had been interviewed by the police
department. Several suspects had been found, one even
arrested but that man had been found dead in his cell
shortly after “confessing” to the murder of Flo
Frank Dossman, was a bricklayer who had lived with Flo
Pollino for a while. Further investigation revealed he
was also acquainted with the other two identified
victims, Edward Anderson and Mary Wallace. An autopsy
after his death revealed six broken ribs, all of which
had been obtained while in police custody. Why had the
police thought this man was the torso killer? And why
had he obviously been killed?
Things just got more complicated as he read on. Male,
female, black, white; other than the three identified
victims relationship to Dossman there was no connection
between any of the other victims as far as Mulder could
see. The original killing spree had ended when Ness
had led a raid on the Kingsbury Run ghetto, burning it
to the ground. The biggest mystery of the case had
been a suspect Ness had interrogated for several weeks
in what was then The Cleveland Hotel. Claiming lack of
evidence and refusing to name the man, he had later let
the suspect go. Speculation was that the suspect was a
doctor from an influential family and had voluntarily
committed himself to a mental hospital to avoid arrest,
prosecution, and probably scandal. But the question
that still remained was why?
Mulder rubbed his blurry eyes. His head was pounding.
Leaning back against the pillows, he allowed himself to
The bar was dark. Weaving his way though the crowd, he
spotted a petite black woman who made eye contact with
him immediately. Her sultry smile was enticing and he
soon found himself buying her a drink. They left the
bar together, proceeded down a darkened street and
entered what appeared to be a train station. Several
minutes seemed to pass and he found himself standing on
the platform with the woman. The vision suddenly
changed then, darkened tunnels and the sound of his own
breathing as he carried the limp woman across deserted
tracks. Shots being fired, the wail of sirens . . .
Jolted from the dream by the sound of the phone, Mulder
found himself cold and shaking. He grabbed the phone
with a trembling hand.
Peyton’s voice came back to him.
“Got a call from the cops, your man was spotted coming
out of a bar on Prospect with a young black woman.”
“My man? What are you talking about?”
“The police put an APB out on that drawing you did. A
couple of guys in a cruiser think they spotted him.”
Mulder put the phone on his shoulder and rubbed his
arms in an attempt to warm himself. A black woman–the
woman in his dream. Mary Wallace, victim #8 had been
A sense of urgency overcame him.
“Did they arrest him? Where is this guy?”
“They followed him as far as Tower City, but by the time
they got out of the car and went inside they’d lost
“Yeah, the old train terminal building on the square,
it’s a mall now.”
“We’ll meet you there.”
Mulder didn’t bother to change. Splashing some cold
water on his face and grabbing his gun and coat and
headed for Scully’s room.
HAMPTON INN, CLEVELAND
Scully had yet to hear back from the Coroner’s office.
Her earlier call had yielded no new information on the
victims found on the tracks that morning. Her call to
Wilcox had not been met pleasantly either when she
began to describe Mulder’s theory and the information
he needed. Wilcox did assure her, however, that the
police department wasn’t taking anything for granted
and had issued an APB on the man in Mulder’s drawing.
She was shaken suddenly by pounding on her door.
“Scully, it’s me!”
Opening the door, she found Mulder standing there, his
open trench coat revealing the same jeans and tee shirt
he’d had on earlier. He didn’t wait for her to say
“Peyton called, the police spotted my guy. Let’s go.”
TOWER CITY CENTER
By the time they arrived on the scene, it was already
illuminated with the red and blue flashing lights of
multiple police vehicles. Showing their badges, they
entered the building. Mulder spotted Peyton talking to
the police chief, and when their eyes met, Peyton
headed in their direction.
“Find them yet?”
“You said he was spotted with a black woman. He’s
gonna kill her, she’s victim #8.”
Both Peyton and Scully tried to keep up with Mulder as
he walked briskly through the terminal.
“What are you talking about? We already have eight
“No! From the 1930 killings, Mary Wallace”
Peyton turned to Scully.
“What’s he talking about?”
Mulder stopped in frustration and Scully almost crashed
into him. He looked at Peyton.
“How do you get down to the train terminal?”
“The trains don’t run through here anymore. It’s only
used by the local transit authority.”
“I don’t give a damn who uses it. How do you get down
Scully couldn’t take much more of this.
“Mulder stop! Where are you going with this?”
He turned to her then, and with a pleading expression
begged her to believe him.
“I had a dream.”
She turned to Peyton.
REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY RAPID TRANSIT STATION
TOWER CITY CENTER
Mulder stood on the dimly lit platform. His breath was
coming out in puffs as he attempted to ascertain which
direction the man would have gone. Neither Scully nor
Peyton said a word. He walked slowly down the platform
to his left, Peyton following him. Scully stood by the
frozen escalator they had come down on.
“Call for backup.”
Peyton turned to Mulder who had pulled his gun.
“They’re down here. I don’t have my phone, call for
With some resignation, Peyton pulled his cell phone from
his coat pocket and began to request back up from the
local PD. The dampness was suddenly cut with a chilling
scream. He turned to look at Mulder who was walking
back toward Scully.
Another scream and Peyton was off, jumping down into
the well of the tracks and heading to his left at a
dead run. Mulder followed him, turning to catch Scully
as she jumped down behind him. It was hard running
between the gravel and ties of the railbed. Mulder was
torn between trying to catch up with Ritter and keeping
his eye on Scully so she wouldn’t get hurt.
Another sound up ahead of them, this time what sounded
like a gunshot.
“Ritter! Damn it!”
Nothing. Mulder came to a stop, pulling his flashlight
from his pocket. It didn’t help much in the dimly lit
tunnels that were suddenly giving him a feeling of deja
They both walked quietly now. It was damp and chilly
in the dark tunnel, the smell of old oil and decay
assaulting their nostrils. It was almost too quiet and
that cold chill Mulder had woken to from his dream was
Suddenly, a shot ricocheted off the aging concrete
above them, sending shards of concrete in all
directions. Scully winced as one nicked her right
cheek. Mulder turned when he heard her gasp.
“Yes, go. Where’s Ritter?”
“He’s up ahead of us somewhere. It’s so damn dark down
Mulder tried in vain to shine his flashlight further
into the murky tunnels. There were miles of railway
tunnels under the Terminal building. Built in the
1920’s the Terminal Tower had been the hub of rail
traffic. Now passenger lines were run through the new
Amtrak station on the lakefront. Most of these lines
were now abandoned.
Mulder, we should call for backup.”
“Ritter already did, but I don’t know where they are.
They’d never find us down here anyway.”
It was eerily quiet; the sound of their own breathing
and the mist generated by it, the only stimulation.
Somewhere up ahead of them they heard Ritters’s frantic
Mulder was off in an instant, his flashlight flickering
off the damp walls. He stopped for an instant to listen
when he came to an intersection, Scully right on his
“Damn it Ritter, where are you?”
“Make a right at the intersection, I think I have him
Mulder turned to look at Scully, something akin to
regret passing across his face as she watched him
consider what to do next.
“He’s my partner here, Scully. Someone has to wait for
Before she could object he was off again, dimming the
With the flashlight off he was nearly blind in the
dark. The cold made his fingers stiff around the
grip of his weapon. His training told him this was a
foolish idea and yet all he could think of was Ritter
up ahead somewhere, alone. His was the foolish idea.
The gravel of the rail bed crunched under his feet. The
smell of dampness and things he’d rather not think
about assaulted his nose. Mulder tried to silence his
breathing. There was no sound from up ahead and he
hesitated to make his presence known. As he crossed
another set of tracks his pant leg caught on a piece of
raised rail, sending him to his knees, his weapon
clanking against the aged rail. Gravel and glass cut
through his trousers, digging into his knees. It was
all he could do not to curse out loud.
From up ahead he heard the scurry of feet in the
gravel, another shout from Ritter and then the flashing
of gunfire again. Scully yelled from behind him but he
was up in an instant turning the corner of the tunnel
and finding himself outdoors in the dimly lit rail
yard. Movement to his left drew his attention. He
turned to see a flash of gunfire again and a figure
jump across the track.
“FBI. Freeze.” A standard warning, but the figure
Mulder raised his weapon and fired center mass,
dropping the man instantly. The flash of a gunshot
again and then the pain of a bullet ripping through his
left arm, knocked him back.
Realization hit him. “Ritter!”
There was no answer from the darkness.
“Mulder!” Scully yelled from inside the tunnel, at the
point where Mulder had exited. She saw him getting to
his feet and stumbling forward towards an unknown
“Ritter!” he yelled desperately again. Silence, and a
terrible emptiness filled Mulder’s stomach. He already
knew what he would find and yet he fumbled the
flashlight from his pocket making himself an easy
target to the suspect, who was still somewhere up
ahead. He could see the flash of Scully’s light behind
him, but refused to acknowledge her presence. Blood
ran down his arm, but he could no longer feel the pain.
It was Scully who reached Peyton first. Mulder had no
idea how she had passed him, lost in a fog of pain and
denial. Blood soaked Peyton’s shirt and gurgled from
his mouth as she dropped to his side.
“Mulder,” she turned to look up at his stunned face.
“I need your help here!”
All Mulder could see was Jean and the baby she carried
and it made him sick.
“Damn it Mulder, help me!”
Finally dropping to his bloody knees beside her, she
grabbed his hands.
“Pressure, Mulder, I need pressure on the wound.”
“Officer down! We need paramedics now!” She yelled
into her cell. “I don’t know where we are!”
She heard a garbled response and looked down at Ritter
who was trying to tell her their location.
“Rail yard under the terminal,” Mulder finally
whispered to her.
Peyton gasped, blood trailing from his mouth, his eyes
glazing over as Mulder watched him fight for air. He’d
done this. Fired the same shot Ritter had fired
without looking when he’d shot Scully in a dingy New
York apartment. Scully had survived, Mulder was sure
he wasn’t going to be as lucky.
“CPR Mulder, CPR, come on, help me here!”
Scully tried desperately to breathe life back into
Peyton, keeping up with Mulder’s rhythm. Despite both
their efforts his eyes remained fixed and glassy. When
she found no pulse at his throat she reached to still
“Let him go,” she said softly, trying to get his
Mulder rocked back on his heels, a ghastly pallor
spreading across his face in the dim light. Scully
knew what he was thinking.
“It’s not your fault Mulder.”
He turned to face her, his eyes glaring at her in the
darkness. “That’s my bullet they’re going to dig out
of his chest, Scully. Don’t try and tell me it’s not
Scully became aware of the sound of footsteps moving
through the tunnels.
“Agent Ritter, Agent Mulder!” AIC Wilcox shouted.
Flashlights soon illuminated them, and in the light,
Scully could see Mulder’s clammy skin. His right hand
now tightly clutching at his left bicep. He trembled
and his breathing was fast and shallow. She traced his
arm down to his left hand and suddenly realized that
the blood running from under his coat sleeve was his.
“Mulder, you’re hurt.” She reached across Ritter’s
body in an attempt to see the damage, but he pulled
away from her. She grabbed his right arm trying to
keep him from moving, but he wrestled away from her and
staggered to his feet, moving off into the darkness as
the group of FBI and Cleveland Police officers made
their way to the scene.
Wilcox’s flashlight came to rest on Ritter’s body. He
said nothing at first, taking note of Scully’s bloody
hands, Mulder standing in the shadows.
“What happened here, Agent Scully?”
Scully met the AIC’s eyes. “Friendly fire sir. Agent
Ritter and Agent Mulder were in pursuit of our killer.
It appears Agent Ritter stepped into the path of a
bullet meant for our suspect.”
Wilcox sighed and looked over at Mulder who still stood
out of reach in the shadows.
“I shot him, sir,” came Mulder’s shaky voice from the
“Agent Mulder needs medical attention sir, he’s also
been shot.” Scully glared at the AIC as she stepped
away from him, striding cautiously over to where Mulder
She didn’t speak to him. He was standing but she was
unsure as to what was holding him up. His eyes
remained closed, his lower lip trembling. His right
hand remained in a death grip on his left arm, the
blood continued to trickle from his fingers. She
gently ran her hand down his right arm, his eyes
opened, but he refused to look at her.
“Paramedics are on their way. Please let me look at
He still refused to look at her, his gaze now falling
on Ritter’s body as one of the other agents gently
placed his coat over him. He said nothing.
She reached up to graze his cheek with her fingertips
and his eyes slowly met hers. His lip quivered and
then suddenly he was folding into her. Her arms came
around his shoulders to wrap him in an embrace,
cuddling his head against her shoulder.
Over his shoulder she could see the paramedics
“It’s okay Mulder,” she said as she slowly stroked his
hair. “It’s gonna be okay.”
His knees then buckled and Scully followed him down as
he crumbled to the ground.
METROHEALTH MEDICAL CENTER
“Agent Scully,” Skinner’s concerned voice came back to
her across the phone line. “I’ve just gotten off the
phone with Wilcox. How is Agent Mulder?”
Scully sighed. She had no answer to that question.
“He’ll be fine sir, physically.”
Skinner could read her thoughts.
“Has he given a statement yet?”
“They have him sedated, sir. He’s very upset.”
There was silence on the line for what seemed to Scully
like an eternity. She brushed the hair from her face,
her hand trembling.
“Are you all right?”
She wanted to be, she needed to be, but in truth she
needed the valium as much as Mulder did.
“I’m fi—, yes sir, I’m all right.”
Skinner wanted to say something, wanted to let her know
he was as concerned as she was and that he was there
for her, but this public phone line was not the place
for that. He cleared his throat.
“As per bureau regulations, he’s been suspended with pay
pending a formal investigation and OPR hearing into the
shooting. You will probably be called to give a
statement, Agent Scully. Ballistics has already
identified the bullet as matching Mulder’s service
weapon. What can you tell me?”
Scully fumbled nervously with the phone cord. She
wanted to get back to Mulder instead of standing here
in this all too perfect waiting room.
“Very little, sir. I didn’t see what happened.”
“It would help if you had witnessed it.”
“Sir, I heard Mulder announce himself, order the
suspect to freeze. It was all just a matter of
unfortunate circumstances. It was very dark.”
“Has Mulder said anything to you?”
“He just keeps repeating that he killed him.”
“As soon as he’s released I expect you both back in
METROHEALTH MEDIAL CENTER
Scully made her way back to Mulder’s room. What the
hell had happened down there? Mulder had been working
with Ritter on the case and then she’d showed up.
Maybe three really was a crowd. Skinner had informed
her over the phone that Wilcox had requested her
involvement in the case, stating that her expertise
would be welcomed. He also stated that he was
concerned about Mulder, his inability to build a
working profile was wearing him thin. She suddenly
realized that she had worn him even thinner by putting
him in the middle of a three-way partnership. Had that
really affected his judgment so seriously?
She found him dozing, his head thrown back against the
pillow. His left arm had been immobilized against his
chest; an IV line worked into the back of his right
hand made it hard for him to do anything himself. She
reached down, entwining her fingers with those of his
right hand; careful of the IV line, she gently leaned
over and kissed him.
“Awakened by a princess,” his eyes opened slowly
revealing his dilated pupils, a lopsided grin spread
across his face.
It made her feel good to see the resemblance of a
smile, until it vanished from his face all too quickly.
“How do you feel?” A stupid question she realized but
she didn’t know how else to start the conversation.
He looked down at their entwined fingers and pulled his
hand gently away from her.
“I,” he looked away and then back to his hand,
shaking his head slowly. “I don’t know how I feel,
Scully. Nothing’s been fitting into place since I got
here. I should have realized that the case was getting
away from me, I . . .”
His eyes squinted shut and Scully watched as his face
screwed into bitter anguish. His voice was filled with
remorse when he spoke again.
“A man shouldn’t be dead.”
She ran her fingers up his arm and he shivered.
“Mulder, you’ve been through a lot. Give yourself some
time to work this out.”
“No, no that’s not it.” He seemed angry now. “I, it’s
like I’m not thinking the way I used to on a case like
this anymore. I can’t put the pieces together.”
She sat down gently on the edge of his bed, feeling him
stiffen when she placed a gentle hand on his leg, their
“You have a lot on your mind right now. I know how you
must feel about Peyton. It was an accident. He made
the mistake of not responding when you identified
“I made the mistake, Scully. This isn’t the first time
this has happened.”
Suddenly he felt the need to reveal a truth to her.
One he’d been trying to deny to himself for months.
“It’s been happening to me ever since…look, I know it
shouldn’t make any difference, that you and I are in
this relationship now, but it does. I know you hate
this need I’ve always had to protect you, it’s worse
now. It’s affecting my judgment in so many ways
because I don’t want you to see it.
“Mulder . . .”
He raised his finger in an ‘I’m not finished’ motion.
“Back when I did this for a living, I didn’t have
another care in the world, and nobody gave a damn about
me. I could play Patterson’s game and become the
monster I was looking for and everything would fall
into place. That scares me now. Maybe if I just bang
my head against the wall, it will stir things up in
there and knock some sense into myself and I’ll be able
to think straight again. I won’t put people’s lives in
danger. I won’t put your life in danger.”
“Mulder,” Scully said with conviction. “We are not
putting each other’s lives in danger because of our
Breaking eye contact he looked down, shaking his head
“I just keep thinking that if you hadn’t been down
there with us . . . I was more concerned for your safety
than I was his, three’s a crowd, Scully, especially in
He wasn’t saying it, but she could read his logic and
it frightened her. He was thinking of quitting.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
3 DAYS LATER
Scully sat nervously on Skinner’s couch. She hadn’t
seen Mulder after his hearing. He’d left the building
without coming back to the basement office and that
“Agent Scully, you can go in now,” Kim’s voice finally
registering in her brain.
Skinner looked up when she entered his office, the look
on his face telling her all she needed to know. He met
her eyes and sighed.
“Agent Scully, please have a seat,” he motioned with his
hand to the seat she always occupied. If felt somehow
very lonely with the adjoining seat empty beside her.
“Have you talked with Agent Mulder?”
She looked down at the brown envelope on her lap,
fiddling with a hangnail she had somehow missed.
“No sir, I haven’t seen him this morning.”
Skinner took off his glasses, playing with them, trying
to figure out how to put his thoughts into words. He
wished they were having this conversation in a more
private location. He finally looked up to meet her
“He’s been asked to resign.”
Shock was the first thing to register in her mind and
“I don’t understand. Sir, he was cleared of any
wrongdoing. Ritter’s death was ruled accidental.”
Now she knew why he hadn’t come back to the office, and
she worried about where the hell he would go.
Skinner’s voice came back to her.
“They were going to fire him, Scully. He’d lose
everything, his pension, and benefits. I talked them
into asking him for his voluntary resignation. At
least it will appear that he left of his own accord.”
“It will appear that way to everyone but him, sir.
What did he say?”
A smirk came to Skinner’s face that she instantly
“You know Mulder, he said he’d think about it.”
“Sir,” Scully leaned forward handing him the brown
envelope she’d taken from Mulder’s apartment. “I think
he’s been set up. Maybe even blackmailed into taking
that assignment in Cleveland.”
Skinner took the envelope from her, looking at her with
a questioning expression.
“I gave him that assignment, Agent Scully.”
“I know that, sir, but he also told me that it was a
request from you personally, that AIC Wilcox is a
friend of yours. I know you’ve tried very hard to deny
any profiling requests from outside our department.”
She nodded towards the envelope Skinner held in his
Skinner opened the envelope, spilling the photos and
the note that came with them out onto his desk. His
eyes widened when he realized what he was looking at.
“Where did you get these?”
“Mulder found them shoved under his door the night of
your meeting. We’d gone out for ice cream, ended up in
the park. He just wanted my thoughts on what to do. I
think someone made the decision for him. That note was
referring to me. Maybe he was even threatened with the
Skinner gathered the photos and placed them back in the
“Scully, there’s something else you should know. I
threatened him with the X-Files.”
“It’s not going to matter what Mulder decides. They’ve
also decided to close the X-Files. . . stating that the
necessity to downsize has left them no choice but to
eliminate unnecessary expenditures.”
Now she was angry.
“Is that what we are, unnecessary expenditures? How
convenient, get rid of Mulder and close the files.”
“Scully–I know how this sounds. The case I gave him,
I was just trying to make them see what a valuable
agent he is, how valuable you both are.”
“With a profiling case? Well, that worked really well.”
Scully found this all beyond comprehension. “Did they
give Mulder a time frame?”
Skinner sighed. “He has forty-eight hours to make his
Scully stood without another word, turning away from
Skinner and making her way to the door.
“Yes,” she replied with out turning around.
“This thing with Ritter. It’s eating him up, isn’t
Scully looked down at her feet. Mulder had gone back
to his own apartment when they’d returned to
Washington. She’d only seen him twice. Both times he
had been quiet and withdrawn. She couldn’t get him to
talk to her.
“Yes, it is.”
“You keep your eye on him.” She could hear the concern
in Skinner’s voice. Despite her misgivings, she knew
they had a friend in this man.
“I will, sir.”
2630 HEGAL PLACE
Her second knock on his door had gone unanswered.
Awkwardly she pinned the bag from the deli against the
wall as she attempted to put the key into the lock
herself, hesitating only slightly at the thought of
what would keep him from answering. The doorknob
turned in her hand and Mulder swung the door open,
barely acknowledging her presence as he walked back
into the living room.
“What took you so long? I figured you would have
trailed me back here hours ago.”
She tried to ignore the disdain in his voice. She
would not let him get to her.
Bringing the bag into the room and setting it down on
the table, she took in his appearance. Mulder was
still dressed in his suit pants. His tie was gone and his
shirt unbuttoned to reveal his untucked tee shirt. He
wasn’t wearing any shoes. His face held an edge to it,
not anger, more like aggravated humiliation in letting
everything get to this point. Two empty beer bottles
sat on the table. The pain from his gunshot wound was
etched on his face.
“I brought us something to eat.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Damn it, Mulder,” she said dumping the bag none too
gently onto the table. “Don’t start with me. I’m in
this as much as you are.”
“No, you’re not, this has nothing to do with you.”
Scully was stuck dumb.
“How can you say that to me?”
“You didn’t kill Peyton, I did.”
“You’re not a killer, Mulder, stop saying that.”
“How do you know that, Scully? How do you know I
didn’t pull that trigger out of some subconscious need
to justify what happened to you in New York? An eye
for an eye.”
Scully was furious now, what was going on here? She’d
never seen him react quite like this before and she was
certain that there was more to this whole thing than
just Mulder’s remorse over what had happened. He was,
however, talking to her and she was determined to get
to the bottom of this charade before the day was over.
“Mulder, please, just stop. Listen to what you’re
saying. I understand how you feel, it was a terrible
She stepped closer to him but he backed off as she
extended her hand in a calming motion, afraid he would
flee. She sat down on the couch in an act of
“Peyton’s death was ruled accidental by the Cleveland
PD, Mulder, you know that. No one believes there was
anything premeditated about it but you.”
He turned away from her, coming to stand in front of
his desk, refusing to look at her.
“You know, Scully,” Mulder said as he traced his fingers
across the front of his desk, gazing out through the
dusty blinds at the rain drizzling down the window.
“The guys in VCS, they used to talk about me. They
used to say that the reason I was so good at getting
inside the heads of these monsters was because inside
my head I was just like them.”
Scully could see that Mulder was miles away. Deep in
despair over what had transpired in Cleveland. She
needed desperately to bring him back.
“You’re not a killer, Mulder, not in the sense that
they are. Yes, you’ve killed before; it’s an
unfortunate part of the job. Why is this bothering you
“And what ‘sense’ is that!”
He turned, glaring at her with tired eyes.
“Think about it, Scully. Think about all the serial
killers we’ve investigated, think about their
childhood, their background. What do you see? Me! I
fit the profile every time. Maybe those guys were
Scully met his eyes. Years ago, she might have been
inclined to believe him. His carelessness, his
arrogant and self-centered approach to their
investigations had more often than not led to an
unnecessary death. This man before her now was
different, and she realized with frightening clarity
that his self-doubt was eating him up.
“You don’t believe that.”
He broke eye contact, unable to meet her trusting eyes
and looked down at his feet.
“I don’t know what to believe.”
Scully’s hands on his arms made him shiver and he
raised his head to again meet her eyes.
“Mulder,” she said, reaching up to caress the side of
his face, running her fingers though his unruly hair.
“I’ll agree that the things that happened to you in
your childhood are factors that we find in the history
of many a killer, but you rose above that. You’re like
the phoenix rising from the ashes. You’ve become an
elegant and respectable man and I would never question
Mulder glanced away from her, chuckled softly in a
“You’ve never given up on anything in your life,
Mulder. Even when I’ve tried my damnedest to prove you
wrong, you’ve never given up. Don’t give up now.
Don’t let this get to you. Don’t let them get to you.”
His eyes came back to hers.
“Don’t let them get to us.”
At her puzzled look he continued.
“You saw the note, Scully. ‘Be careful who you love.’
This quest of mine has caused me to loose everyone I’ve
ever loved. That was a warning. I won’t let it take
you away from me. Nothing, not even the truth is worth
Scully studied the man standing before her. In all
their years together he had never been able to protect
her. She’d been taken twice against her will, given an
incurable disease and been deprived of her ability to
bear children all in an attempt to make him give up his
quest. In the end she was only able to come to the
same realization that he seemed to have already come
to, it was time to end it.
Mulder looked down at her puzzled.
“Tell them no, you’re not going to resign.”
“Scully, it doesn’t make any difference. They’ll fire
Now he was really confused and he stepped away from
her, walking a few steps before turning again, rubbing
his arm as the ache came back.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“There’s still a killer loose in Cleveland. Your
identification of the suspect almost led to an arrest.
They know who they’re looking for now, Mulder. Skinner
won’t let you down. You haven’t lost your touch,
you’re just a little rusty.”
“Yeah, old and rusty, ” he mumbled stepping away from
“You’re a classic, Mulder.”
She could see the pain on his face and realized that it
wasn’t just the mental pain that had drained all the
beauty from him. His arm was obviously bothering him.
Stepping up next to him again, she gently eased the
bandage away to be sure it was healing properly. To
her surprise he didn’t object.
“Where’s your sling?”
“I don’t know, where ever I left it I guess,” he said
making a sweeping motion of the messy apartment with
his right arm.
“You know your arm wouldn’t hurt as much if you wore
“Yes, doctor,” he said flopping down on the couch and
throwing his head back. He was exhausted.
Scully picked up the bag from the deli and made her way
to his kitchen. She was determined to get some food in
A rapid pounding on his door startled them both. When
it happened again she looked out of the kitchen in time
to see Mulder, his left hand on the doorknob, his
Walther PPK in his right. He peered through his
peephole, sighed and then opened the door. Walter
Skinner stepped into the apartment.
Scully watched as their boss sized up her partner.
“You look like hell, Mulder, how much have you had to
Mulder didn’t answer, his eyes flashing to the empty
bottles on the table. Skinner followed his gaze and
then looked to Scully for confirmation.
“You’ve got more willpower than I do, I would have
drank the whole six-pack.”
Mulder had had enough of the pleasantries.
“You here to put the final nail in my coffin?”
Skinner watched his agent sway with exhaustion. He
looked again at Scully who still stood in the kitchen
“Actually, I’m here to tell you you’re wanted back in
A sneer spread across Mulder’s face.
“I thought I was SUSPENDED.”
Skinner grabbed Mulder by the right bicep leading him
into the living room. Scully, uncertain of their boss’
intentions followed them.
“Listen,” he said, looking back and forth between the
both of them. “There’s something going on here, but
it’s not what you think, you’re being misled by the
enemy. As ugly as it may sound, Mulder, the only way
you’re going to defeat them is if you start using their
own tools against them. Do the things that even they
would be ashamed to do. It’s time you figured out that
the only way you’re gonna win this game is if you start
Mulder yanked his arm from Skinner’s grasp. Stepping
away, Skinner could see that the comment had hurt him.
“Look, I’m sorry, that was a poor choice of words, but
it’s the truth.”
“Yes, it was,” Scully said from behind him.
Skinner turned his attention back to Mulder.
“Mulder, for as brilliant a man as you are, you’re
incredibly gullible. You’re so wrapped up in this
search for the truth of yours. This insatiable need
you have to prove the unbelievable and you can’t see
that your career and quite possibly your life are
being manipulated by the very people you work
Mulder wasn’t sure he wanted to hear that right then.
His head and his arm throbbed and that old couch behind
Skinner looked so damn inviting. He rubbed his hand
across his forehead.
“What are you talking about?”
“They were afraid of you, Mulder. You put a real scare
into the powers that be years ago when you started
digging into the X-files. You and I both know there
are things in those files that the average American has
no idea about, but they should. Alone, you were a
formable enemy and had they let you go, they knew you
would pursue things on your own, away from the
mainstream in a place they couldn’t control you. So
they found a way to control you,” Skinner finished,
turning to Scully.
“Dana was sent to spy on you or so you thought but I
think by now you both know that the plan worked better
than they could have ever imagined. They’ve spent ten
years trying to dissuade you by any means necessary,
Mulder. That message, those pictures, they’re exactly
what you believe them to be, a threat. They’re using
Scully against you, AGAIN and you, my friend, are
Mulder stood there, speechless for some time. In his
mind he knew what Skinner was telling him was true.
He’d suspected it himself for years but to hear his
boss confirm those suspicions made him ill. His eyes
Skinner dug into his coat pocket, withdrawing Mulder’s
service weapon and badge. He handed them to the agent
standing in front of him.
“Go back to Cleveland, Agent Mulder, solve the case.
Don’t let what happened with Eliot Ness happen to you.”
Mulder met Skinner’s gaze, he took the badge and weapon
from him hesitantly. Skinner stepped away. On his way
out the door, he touched Scully’s shoulder.
“Make sure he’s one hundred percent before he leaves
FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE
Mulder wasn’t one hundred percent, but in the past
twenty-four hours Scully had gotten him to eat two
meals and he’d slept a good twelve hours. The effects
of the case were still evident on his face but at least
his clothes were clean and he was thinking clearly.
Wilcox had met them at the airport and, upon their
arrival at the bureau, had wasted no time
ushering them into his office.
“You’re probably wondering how you managed to get
called back on this case, Agent Mulder.”
Mulder put his hands on his hips.
“Considering that yesterday I was about to be shown the
door, yeah, I am a little curious.”
“Seems our suspect, or at least we assume it was our
suspect, called in an anonymous tip to the local paper
and several local TV stations. He happened to mention
that he’d been identified by a certain FBI agent named
Fox Mulder as the probable suspect in these grisly
murders, but that the Bureau had removed him from the
Mulder turned to look at Scully.
“I don’t know how much you’ve garnered from the old
case files, but there was a lot of speculation that Mr.
Ness covered for the killer back in the 30’s. He
claimed he didn’t have enough evidence to arrest the
guy, but a lot of comments from others involved would
lead you to believe otherwise. There are still people
in this town who remember that investigation and they
don’t want the same thing to happen again.”
Mulder suddenly remember what Skinner had said last
night as he’d left his apartment, ‘Don’t let what
happened with Eliot Ness happen to you’. What had
happened? Much like himself Ness had been a crusader.
What would have caused a man who’d worked so hard to
solve the killing spree, suddenly become so vague about
his findings? Ness had run for public office without
success shortly after the case had ended. The killer
had vanished into the woodwork and Ness’ career had
never been the same. Scully’s voice brought Mulder out
of his funk.
“They didn’t get a trace on any of the calls?”
“Yeah, they did, they all came from pay phones, three
They both turned to Mulder when he spoke.
“What else have you got on this guy? Anything?”
“Yeah, actually, Alicia Morgan is recovering nicely.
She was a big help with information but there’s one
little problem with what she’s been able to give us.
Her description of the suspect doesn’t quite match
yours. Let me get the file, then I gotta run, Ritter’s
funeral is this morning.”
As Wilcox stepped toward the door Mulder grabbed his
“She’s the woman he kidnapped from the bar that night.
He didn’t kill her, I thought you knew that.”
Did he? Mulder thought. Where had his head been the
past few days? The people, the victims in this mess
were slipping away from him. Ritter’s death was still
gnawing on him and he had to make that right.
“We’re coming with you.”
FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE
The conference room looked much the same as it had
several days ago. Scully had insisted on going out to
get them something to eat. At this point he almost
longed for the days when nobody cared if he ate or not.
He’d had a queasy feeling in his stomach ever since
returning from Ritter’s funeral. It had been hard,
extremely hard to face the family of the young agent
knowing that they all knew he was the man responsible
for his death. Despite the findings of the CPD, Mulder
did feel responsible. Their acceptance of his genuine
apology had moved him. Ritter’s father had spoken to
him briefly, stating that a law enforcement career was
much like joining the armed forces. Putting your life
on the line in the name of something you honestly
believed in. “Don’t let it eat at you, son,” he’d
said. “Good men like you are hard to find.”
But it was Jean herself who had really stunned him.
She’d embraced him, given him a fierce hug in the
funeral home and later, at the cemetery, she’d pulled him
off to the side and in a private conversation had told
him that Peyton had idolized him. How Ritter had spent
hours reading old case files and trying to come to the
conclusions Mulder had found. She wanted him to know
that despite what he may have heard over the years,
Peyton had told her that Mulder’s “spooky” reputation
had slowly been replaced by that of a man dedicated to
“We all make mistakes, Agent Mulder,” she’d said. “We
wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. My mistake was in
believing nothing could happen to him. His was in
believing the Bureau would protect him. Don’t make that
mistake, Agent Mulder.”
Mulder rubbed the back of his neck and stretched his
arms out to relieve the tension across his shoulders.
Pain radiated up his arm from the wound and he almost
considered digging out the painkillers they’d given him
when he left the hospital. He needed Scully’s nimble
fingers to work their magic. More than that he needed
her here right now because he was suddenly beginning to
see a picture, the whole picture, and it wasn’t very
He looked up at the click of the opening door. Scully
made her way into the room carrying several white
styrofoam containers. The sudden smell of food made
Scully saw the look pass across his face. Taking in
the fact that he looked like he hadn’t moved from his
seat in the forty-five minutes she’d been gone, she was
fairly certain that getting any of it into him was a
lost cause. She set the food containers down on the
table and leaned on it, her other hand coming to rest
on her hip.
Mulder sat back with a sigh.
“Everything, I think. Sit down.”
She pulled a chair over and sat beside him. On the
table in front of him was a yellow tablet onto which
he’d made quite a list. Why hadn’t he used her laptop,
which still sat tightly closed on the table? He pushed
his list towards her.
“See what you think of this.”
Scully took the pad and began to read.
1- Where do I see the X-Files going? I don’t honestly
know. Do I care anymore?
2- Serial killer is reenacting a 1930’s killing
spree . . . looking for justice or looking to prove there
is no justice?
3- Frank Dossman, the only suspect arrested in the
1930’s was murdered . . . he knew the real killer
and would squeal?
4- 1930 crime spree ended when Ness raided the ghetto
and burned it to the ground . . . maybe this
is what the killer had wanted? (A pretty sick
way to clean up the city.)
5- Current suspect has jumped to victims 11 and
12 . . . he’s escalating the case for some reason?
6- Current suspect reveals himself to me . . . he wants me
to know who he is?
7- Ness claimed to have known the identity of the
killer but never revealed who it was . . . someone
influential in Cleveland society . . . was he
8- Current suspect tipped off media re: my
suspension . . . he wants me on this case for a reason?
9- Ritter believed the Bureau would protect him . . . he
ends up dead . . . maybe he knew the killer?
10-Skinner asked me to work this case . . . to save the X-
Files or to save me?
11-I’m being used, we’ve been used . . . I won’t let it
happen to us anymore!
12-I will be careful who I love . . . I love you.
The final two points took her by surprise and she
looked up to find his eyes intent upon her face. He
hadn’t used the laptop because this list belonged only
to them. There was a determination in his expression
that she hadn’t seen in him for some time and the
implications of that determination frightened her.
“Mulder,” she began softly. “You think this has all
been a ruse? Eight people dead in someone’s attempt to
get you or us out of the Bureau? That’s sick.”
Mulder sat back in the hard chair.
“I think, Scully, that back in the 1930’s some very
influential people had control over law enforcement in
this city. This was the Depression. Almost a third of
the city lived in those hobo jungles down along the
river, or in others like it, those who didn’t were
terrified, they demanded results. Organized crime, the
mob, you name it. Cleveland was one of the most crime-
ridden cities in the country. People could be bought.”
“You think Ness was bought out?”
“I think he could have been ‘dissuaded’, yes.”
His use of the word Skinner had used back in the
apartment, was not lost on her.
He looked away and then very softly answered her
“Yeah, like me.”
“Mulder,” she said, reaching over to place her hand on
“They’ve used you against me since the day we were
partnered Scully. Ness had a family. Who’s to say that
wasn’t used against him in the same way.”
Scully sighed, Mulder’s paranoia in full swing.
“All right, but at that time forensics were just coming
into use. Any evidence acquired using the techniques
of the time was shaky at best. There were no men like
you, no profilers to put the pieces together and paint
a portrait of the killer. The lack of solid leads, the
pressure from the media, public hysteria, it’s not hard
to see why Ness and his men had such a hard time
identifying a suspect.”
“But they DID have a suspect, Scully, several of them.
One very good one he let slip away. Don’t you get it?”
With frustration evident in her voice, she pulled her
“What am I supposed to get?”
Mulder erupted from the chair, slamming his palms on
“Ness worked this case for years, Scully! They had so
much damn evidence they didn’t know where to put it
all. Do you know that there are almost no official
records in existence today on the case? It’s all gone,
conveniently lost. Doesn’t that sound familiar? What
I’ve been working with here are old coroner’s files,
newspaper clippings full of pulp fiction, and private
files from people who had worked the case.”
Mulder turned and stepped away from the table, coming
to stand in front of the white board that held most of
the current crime scene photos. He put his hands on his
“I wonder how long it will take for all this to
disappear? It’s been happening to us for years,
Scully. We work our asses off on a case and then all
the evidence disappears and the two of us have to
come up with some fictional accounting that makes sense
of what we spent the taxpayer’s dollars on. What it
comes down to is that nobody knows the truth of what
really happened because we have no proof of what you
and I both know to be true. We haven’t SOLVED
anything,” he finished with a sigh of resignation.
Scully sat there, staring at his back. What could she
say when everything he had just said was true?
“Mulder, maybe we need to stop thinking about what
happened in the 1930’s and concentrate on solving the
case in hand.”
He turned around then to face her.
“I don’t think we’re supposed to solve it, Scully.”
When he was met with nothing but her questioning
glance, he continued.
“Remember what Skinner said? That this is not what it
all appears to be? I’m not going to be used anymore to
perpetuate a lie, or flush out who ever the government
is looking for at the moment. I think we have an
opportunity here, Scully, someone is providing us with
an opportunity to bring this to the attention of the
public. There’s a press conference tomorrow morning, I
want–I need your approval to fire that first shot.”
Scully sat for a moment, assimilating all that he had
said. Did he honestly think the taxpayer’s would care
about a couple of public servants that felt they were
being duped by their superiors? Is that what he was
trying to say? There was no way she was about to let
him stand in front of a microphone and whine about not
being treated fairly. What the hell was he thinking?
She got up from the chair and approached him, watching
his expression change from hopeful to disappointed when
she finally found herself standing in front of him. He
met her eyes when she spoke.
“Mulder, you can’t stand in front of an army of
reporters and claim that you are not able do you job
properly when your superiors have other motives–which
you can’t prove. They don’t want to hear that. They
want to know what’s being done to catch this killer.”
He closed his eyes and stood for several minutes not
saying anything. She could tell he was valiantly
attempting to control his rage at her unwillingness to
go along with his request. When he opened them again
she saw not anger, but pain.
“I expected that. Somehow I expected that you’d still
deny everything, Scully. We’ve got to stop
letting them manipulate us. I will not risk our
relationship because of what others expect, insist or
allow us to do.”
He brushed past her, grabbing his jacket from the back
of the chair.
“Mulder? Where are you going?”
Ignoring her question, he reached for the doorknob and
opened the door to the hallway and his escape.
“Mulder — wait! I don’t deny . . .
JUSTICE CENTER MEDIA ROOM
The police chief had just finished briefing the media
on what information they had recently ascertained. The
drawing of the suspect Ms. Morgan had described had
been released to the media several days ago but so far
no leads as to the suspect’s identity had been
received. There had been no new victims. After
fording several questions on his own, he introduced the
representatives from the FBI.
“I’d like to introduce SAIC Wilcox from the Cleveland
Field Office, and Agents Mulder and Scully from the
Washington Bureau. They are here to bring you up to
speed on the Bureau’s findings.”
Scully hadn’t seen Mulder since he’d slammed the door
in her face the evening before. She had left him a
message that he’d promptly ignored. She did know what
he wanted so desperately to do. And he was right, it
had nothing to do with solving the case. She also
knew that with her or without her, he was about to
make it perfectly clear to those who had run their
lives for the past ten years that he — they, she thought to
herself, would no longer let that happen. Wilcox and
Mulder stepped up to the bank of microphones; Scully
remained just off to Mulder’s left. After explaining
the Bureau’s role in the investigation so far, Wilcox
opened the press conference.
“Agent Wilcox, I understand this suspect had been
identified prior to Ms. Morgan’s abduction?”
“No suspect has been identified, all we have is a
composite drawing of a man from her description.”
Another reporter shouted from the back of the room.
“Is this the same man in the drawing Agent Mulder gave
you almost a week ago?”
Wilcox glared at Mulder.
“The man in Agent Mulder’s drawing could not be linked
to the crimes at the time, there was no proof of his
allegation that this man was our suspect.”
Again the same reporter shouted from the back of the
“I understand Agent Mulder jumps to a lot of
conclusions without proof.”
Mulder glanced in Scully’s direction, seeking her
approval one last time. She nodded and was pleased to
see his lips curl in a tentative smile.
“Agent Mulder is a qualified criminal profiler. Any
conclusions he comes to are based on his expertise as
“But it’s my understanding that Agent Mulder doesn’t
work for VCS.”
“Excuse me — Sir?” Mulder stepped closer to the
“You have every right to question my expertise in this
matter. Fact is, I haven’t been with VSC for over ten
years and yet Washington saw fit to send me here to try
and make sense out of something no one has any
intention of seeing brought to a close — at least not in
the near future.”
“Mulder? What are you doing?” Wilcox’ questioning
voice rang in his right ear.
Another reporter jumped in.
“Are you saying the Bureau doesn’t want this case
Mulder again looked in Scully’s direction.
“I’m SUGGESTING that there are forces at work within
the government and the private sector for that matter,
of which the public is totally unaware. These groups
make it their job to hamper an investigation such as
this one and therefore make it impossible for me and
others in my position to find the truth.”
The man in the back of the room spoke again.
“Alien forces, Agent Mulder?”
Scully could see Mulder bristle at the comment. His
fingers gripping the podium so tightly the tips had
“No, not alien forces, and you’ve obviously done some
investigating on your own. But if you continue to joke
about this, you’re only acting against me and all these
other fine law enforcement personnel. Look, when you —
you assume a position where you swear to uphold the law
and protect the public you expect to be allowed to do
your job to the best of your ability.”
“And you’re saying the Bureau doesn’t allow you to do
“Not the Bureau per-se, but certain factions that
perhaps have other agendas in mind.”
This had quickly become a conversation between the two
men. Most of the other reporters in the room seemed
quite content to listen in. Any questions regarding
the progress of the case had been forgotten.
“How far up are we talking about?”
“I’m not sure, the Justice Department, perhaps all the
way to the Attorney General.”
“You’re accusing the Attorney General of the United
States of complacency in a crime?”
“NO! I’m not ACCUSING anyone of anything. What I’m
trying to get you to understand is you need to take
that investigative imagination of yours and look beyond
the people in my position. We’re just pawns in this
With that Mulder turned from the podium and exited the
room, the sounds of his name and more questions being
shouted to his retreating back.
Scully found him a few minutes later, leaning against
the wall outside the conference room, his head thrown
back against the wall, his eyes tightly closed. She
approached him cautiously.
When he didn’t respond she stepped close to him,
sliding her right arm around his shoulder and placing
her left hand on the back of his neck, drawing his head
slowly towards her. She stretched up on her tiptoes to
give him a chaste kiss.
He responded then, more than she had anticipated.
Wrapping his arms around her, he kissed her back.
Gently at first, and then placing his hands on either
side of her ribcage, he spun her around so she was
against the wall. Lifting her so he didn’t have to
bend down to reach her, he deepened the kiss almost
desperately. His tongue played against her teeth.
This was so wrong. Here in the hallway and yet she
found she couldn’t stop herself from letting him in.
Their tongues danced back and forth, their breathing
becoming more irregular until the sound of someone
clearing their throat extremely loud made them stop.
Mulder broke the kiss. Slowly lowering her to the
floor as he tried to regain control of himself. The
palms of his hands came to rest against the wall on
either side of her head and she watched the desire in
his eyes disappear as his breathing became more
regular. He took a deep shuddering breath and turned
around to face Wilcox.
To Wilcox’ credit he made no comment about their little
sojourn in the hallway.
“You sure opened a can of worms out there, Agent
Mulder. I hope you’ve got proof to backup these claims
of yours, because the switchboard is already lighting
up like a Christmas tree and I can just imagine what’s
going on in Washington.”
“I don’t need proof, sir, Washington does. I just want
to be able to do my job. That’s all I’ve ever wanted,”
he finished, as he stepped away and headed off down the
FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE
Mulder sat staring at the two composite drawings. Who
was this man whose life he had lived for one dream-
filled moment? He hadn’t acted the part of a serial
killer. Nothing in those brief moments inside his head
had pointed to any inner rage or lust, no stressor that
had caused the man to embark on this spree of killings.
What he had felt instead was sport. And a man that
kills for sport is usually employed by someone else.
Eight people were dead, but Mulder no longer thought it
was the result of some psychopath reliving a case from
the 1930’s. Something even more sinister was going on
This other man, the one he was certain he knew from
somewhere, stared at him with an eye of knowledge.
Knowledge that someone was using one of the most
gruesome murder cases in history as a backdrop to
destroy the X-Files and his career. Mulder was sure
this man was the informant who had tipped off the press.
Why? Why was this man lurking in the shadows of the case?
And why had Skinner, of all people, urged him to suddenly
expose an agency of men who had for years prevented him
from bringing to the attention of the public crimes in
which the government was almost certainly involved?
This wasn’t a can of worms; it was a box of snakes.
The ringing of his cell phone suddenly jolted him.
“Agent Mulder, I have some information that I think you
would find most interesting.”
“Who is this?”
Mulder thought he recognized the voice, but his tired
mind couldn’t place it with a face.
“I understand you’re being pulled off this case for
good. I think there are some things you should know
before you head home.”
Mulder squeezed the bridge of his nose with this thumb
“All right, what do I need to know?”
“I want you, and you ALONE, to meet me, on the Eagle
Road bridge in about an hour.”
“A bit melodramatic, wouldn’t you say?”
“Makes it just that more intriguing,” and with that the
caller hung up.
Mulder punched the OFF button on his phone. Ness has
been one of the most high profile investigators of his
time. Working for the Treasury Department until he had
accepted the position as Safety Director for the city
of Cleveland. His biggest claim to fame had been his
investigation of then mob boss Al Capone. He and his
“Untouchables” had been the ones who had finally
brought the man down.
His intelligence, foresight and investigative
brilliance gave him the ability to lead and inspire
those around him. Under his direction, the Cleveland
police force became a model for the entire country.
When Ness left law enforcement in the 1940’s his career
began a downturn from which it never recovered.
Mulder reached over and picked up the copy of “The
Untouchables” he’d purchased not long after he’d begun
working the case. He flipped through the book to some
photos. Staring at the photo of Eliot Ness, Mulder
suddenly imagined he was looking at himself.
Scully had left the Cleveland office a little over an
hour after taking a call from A.D. Skinner.
Skinner had none too politely told them they were being
pulled off the case and that he expected them in his
office at 9:00AM the following morning. She’d gotten
them seats on the red-eye for later that evening and
had left to go pack their things and check out. Mulder
now fought the inner battle of whether or not to call
her and tell her where he was about to go.
“Hey, it’s me.”
His voice sounded hesitant and she was instantly on
“Where are you, Mulder?”
“I’m still at the Bureau but I’ve got an errand to run,
maybe you’d like to come along?”
The conversation was cryptic but she could read between
“You going to pick me up?”
“Yeah, give me 15.”
OUTSIDE HAMPTON INN CLEVELAND
Mulder was waiting at the curb when she exited the
hotel. She slid into the passenger seat and buckled
“What kind of errand are we running?”
“I got a call, just before I called you. I’m certain
it’s the man I saw at the Conrail crime scene. This
may sound weird, but I keep thinking I know him but I
didn’t recognize the voice. He wants me to meet him on
the Eagle Road bridge. He said he has some
“Your informants always have information, Mulder,” she
interrupted him. “But it’s usually something that gets
you into more trouble.”
He looked away from her, staring out the front window
of the car at the rain that had begun to dampen the
“You know, I got the impression that you were in on
this with me this morning at that conference. Was I
She reached over and touched his arm.
“No, you were not mistaken, but you didn’t exactly fire
a warning shot Mulder, you launched a missile and I’m
afraid the destruction might be too extensive.”
She watched as a smile curved the corners of his mouth.
“Okay, this is gonna sound a bit melodramatic, but that
seems to be the way this guy wants to play it. I want
you on the floor in the back, out of sight. He told me
to come alone and I want him to think that I have. When
I’ve made contact with him, I’ll ring you once on the
phone. Call for back up. Whatever this guy has to
say, I want a chance to hear it before the wrath of
Cleveland converges on the site. I don’t believe this
guy is responsible for the murders, but I get the
impression that he knows who is.”
“Are you wearing a vest, Mulder?”
“Please, Mulder, think about this, you’ve just made
allegations that the government and others might be
responsible for cover-ups. It wouldn’t be surprising
if someone out there wanted you dead. This is a Bureau
car, is there armor in the trunk?”
Mulder pulled the car into the underground garage for
the hotel and found a parking spot. To Scully’s
satisfaction there were indeed two kevlar vests in the
trunk of the car. Mulder grudgingly acknowledged her
request and in one swift move, removed his coat and
jacket to put the vest on over his dress shirt. Ten
minutes and $8.00 later they exited the garage and
headed for the flats.
CORNER OF SCRANTON AND GIRARD
WEST BANK, CUYAHOGA RIVER
Mulder parked the car on the dead-end side street and
got out. Scully was nestled securely on the floor in
the back seat. The rain had lessened to a chilly mist
as he crossed Scranton Road and headed towards Eagle
Avenue. There was very little light, but he thought he
could make out a figure leaning against the steel
girders. He reached into his coat pocket making sure
his cell phone was there. All he had to do was punch
#1 to reach Scully.
As he approached the man, he could see he was tall,
about Mulder’s height, dressed in a parka and wearing a
The voice, again he thought he recognized the tone but
it was laced with a hoarseness that made him unsure.
And then the man turned into what little light there
was and removed his cap. Mulder gasped in shock as
recognition set in. Michael Kritschgau, his face
disfigured with burn scars, extended a hand to him.
Mulder accepted his hand and as they shook he could
feel the scars on his hand as well.
“I came to explain to you what you’ve gotten yourself
“I’m not sure I understand.”
A light flickered across the bridge and both men froze.
Looking in the direction it had come from they both saw
a large ore freighter being pulled up the Cuyahoga
River towards them.
“This whole thing was a set up. Designed to get you
out of the Bureau for good. But someone else has
intervened and gotten you to do exactly what you’ve
just done, plant the seeds of deception in the minds of
an otherwise unsuspecting public.”
“Eight innocent people are dead, an agent was killed,
are you saying that this was all planned? That I was
“Did Skinner tell you where this case originated?”
Mulder thought for a moment.
“He said outside the Bureau. But he also told us that
it wasn’t what it seemed.”
“It never was. There’s no murderer here, Agent Mulder,
not this time, maybe not in Ness’s day either. You
can’t solve this case because there’s no case to solve.
You were meant to fail and once they had you out, your
career would take a dive just like Ness. The note you
got, the photos, that was all part of this. They know
how much she means to you.”
“Is she in danger? Who set me up?”
“That outside source, I’m sure.
A warning whistle cut the stillness and they could feel
the bridge moving underneath them. The freighter was
approaching and the bridge had begun its rise off the
river to allow it to pass.
“Answer me! What about the others, do you know who
“They won’t hurt her or you, not now you’ve gone
public, Mulder. You’re going to become very high
profile in all of this. Your job with the X-Files will
no longer just revolve around explaining the
unexplained, you’re going to be called on to explain
WHY they are unexplained. You’ll become untouchable.
You’re on our side now.”
Suddenly a shot rang out, the bullet ricocheting off
the girder above their heads. Kritschgau bolted.
“Damn it Kritschgau! On whose side?”
Mulder reached into his pocket and hit the #1 on his
phone and then took off across the bridge after
Scully had her phone out and was fumbling 911 the
instant she heard the single ring of her phone.
Exiting the car, she tried to make out if the two men
were still on the bridge. She was almost at the foot
of the bridge before the call connected.
“This is Dana Scully with the FBI, my badge number is
JTT0331613, we need police back up! My partner and I
are in pursuit of a murder suspect. We’re on Scranton,
the Eagle Road bridge!”
She didn’t wait for any acknowledgement when she heard
the shots being fired.
“Mulder!” Damn him.
The streetlights were of little help and the rain had
picked up again in earnest. The sudden rumbling of
metal and the creaking of gears made her turn her
attention to the lift bridge as it began its rise from
the river. A huge ore freighter was making its way up
the Cuyahoga River from the ore docks, bound for the
lake and there was no way of stopping it.
Sirens blared in the distance, but she knew there was
little the police would be able to do once they
arrived. The bridge itself was now some 40 feet in the
air. Looking up she could see that Mulder and whomever
he had met were now trapped on the rising bridge. With
the freighter on the river there was no way the bridge
would come down until it had passed.
Mulder caught up with Kritschgau; there was nowhere
for either of them to go. He grabbed the man’s coat
and slammed him against the girders of the bridge.
“Damn it, did you set me up? Who are these other
Kritschgau wrestled with Mulder, pulling his hands from
“You idiot, that’s not who’s shooting at us! The
people I’m talking about want what you want, Mulder,
what we both want, justice, the truth, and a way to
make the public understand what’s being done to them. I
can’t tell you, not yet but we’ve gotten you to open up
a pathway for ourselves and others like us, a way for
our voices to be heard”.
Mulder pulled his gun and stuck it in Kritschgau’s
“Don’t give me any of this liberation psychobabble, I
want to know who’s behind this, who am I working for
Scully watched from below as the two men wrestled each
other against the railing of the bridge. Mulder’s long
coat was the only way she could identify who was who. It
looked as if his informant had him pinned against the
railing. She had no way of knowing who had been firing
Cruisers pulled up and two officers got out running to
where Scully now stood, watching the drama unfold above
“What the hell’s going on here?”
“My partner and I believe your suspect are on that
Both officers looked up, following Scully’s gaze to the
two figures now more than half way across the bridge
and still locked in a lethal embrace.
Just then, another car pulled up, this time a Bureau
issue followed closely by another cruiser. Wilcox
jumped from the Bureau car, the Chief of Police from
“What are you two doing down here, Agent Scully?”
Wilcox yelled over the noise of the rising bridge.
“Who’s up there?”
“Agent Mulder, sir, and I believe your suspect.”
The police chief jumped in.
“I’ve got a marksman….”
“No, they’re too close together, I won’t let you take
Scully was livid.
“It’s not your choice to make!”
More cars pulled up illuminating the dark streets in a
circus of red and blue. A few dozen officers now stood
and watched the struggle. The police marksman
approached with his rifle.
Mulder was slowly losing his edge. The wound to his
arm made him weak on that side and Kritschgau was a
strong man. He had wrestled him around and now had
Mulder pinned to the railing almost crushing the life
out of him, his gun also pinned between himself and the
“Mulder, listen to me! The X-Files are full of victims
just like you. While you’ve been spending years
looking for the unexplained cause of the crimes, these
people have all been left to wonder why there is no
justice for their loved ones. I want justice for my
son, Scully wants justice for her sister and you want
justice for her and your family. You’ve given us a way
to make the public see the hidden agendas. There are
people willing to testify to the validity of your
accusations. You’re not alone in this!”
“Why now?” Mulder gasped, trying to catch his breath.
“Because you now have something you want to live for.”
“And that would be?”
“A future, with the woman you love.”
‘Scully’ Mulder thought. Using his legs, Mulder
managed to turn himself in Kritschgau’s grasp. The
steel of the bridge digging into his side as he was now
wedged sideways working to free his gun hand.
“Stop it!” Kritschgau pushed him forward, his head
meeting the steel girder with enough force to make him
see stars. He gasped in pain, blood slowly beginning
to trickle down his forehead. He would not get free of
this man. They both leaned precariously over the
bridge railing. Through the driving rain, Mulder could
see the freighter now just a short distance from the
“I can solve this case, you know who killed these
people! You want people to know the truth, help me
“I can’t! Damn it, can’t you see! I’m a dead man; my
ambiguity allows me to work in the shadows, just like
them. There is a bigger, more important picture here,
Mulder. Open your eyes!”
Suddenly they were both bathed in a brilliant light.
Sailors on the freighter below had turned their
searchlight on the bridge. Kritschgau jumped in
surprise, bringing his hand up to shield his face from
the sudden brightness.
Mulder saw his chance. Putting his feet up on the
first rung of the bridge’s railing, and using his back,
he pulled Kritschgau forward over his shoulders.
Wrapping his left arm around the back of his neck, he
jerked the man forward.
“Take the shot when you’ve got it.”
The police chief’s orders rang in her ears, but Scully
refused to look away from the drama on the bridge. The
gun discharged, making her jump.
Mulder felt Kritschgau’s body jerk, their weight shift.
Realizing what was about to happen, Mulder tried
desperately to stop their forward momentum, but
Kritscghau’s weight was too much for him in that
awkward position and together they began to tumble over
the railing into the water below.
Scully, standing on the west bank, could not keep the
scream from escaping her throat.
She and the rest of the officers watched the two men
plummet some ninety feet into the chilly waters of the
Cuyahoga and disappear just ahead of the freighter.
No one said a word. The police chief looked over at his
marksman and then back to Scully whose hands now hid
The two men had hit the water together, Kritschgau
clinging to Mulder’s coat in a death grip. Mulder
struggled to free himself of the man and his wet coat
in the frigid churning water left by the wake of the
freighter. The impact had knocked the air from his
lungs, and as he finally surfaced he gasped painfully
to draw breath. Pulling the kevlar vest from his body,
he made his way in the blackness towards what he hoped
was the riverbank.
It seemed like an eternity for the freighter to pass.
The chief called for EMT’s and backup on the east side
of the river where the two men had entered the water.
The sailors had seen the event unfold in their
searchlight and now trained it on the river below as
the huge ship passed under the bridge. There was no
sign of either man in the dark and chilly water.
It would be a while before either the police patrol
boat or the Coast Guard would be at the scene.
Officers were now dispatched with flashlights to search
the banks on either side in hope of finding either man.
Time was of the essence; neither of them could survive
long in 40 something degree water.
Scully turned to the police chief.
“You’ve got to get me over there,” she said, pointing
to the other side of the river.
“Gotta wait for the bridge Ma’am . . . it’s the quickest
Quick was at least 20 minutes and when Scully arrived
on the east bank she was devastated to learn there was
still no sign of Mulder or the suspect.
“Get me a light!” she shouted. Determined to look
herself if that’s what it took.
Suddenly a yell came up from the riverbank, 200
“I see something!” an officer shouted. “Get some more
light down here!”
Scully said a silent prayer and ran with the others
down to the water’s edge.
Drenched, bloody and cold, Mulder was pulled from the
river. He now lay wrapped in blankets in the back of
an ambulance. He was refusing to be removed from the scene
until the other man was also found.
“Mulder, you’re suffering from hypothermia, we need to
get you to a hospital.” Scully pleaded with him.
“No sign of him?”
He shook his head as if already knowing the answer.
The action caused his stomach to churn at the same
time. She was right, he needed a warm bed.
“I don’t know, Mulder, they’ll have a better chance of
finding something in the daylight.”
One of the EMT officers popped his head inside the
vehicle. “We’re rolling!”
“They’ll nev . . . never find him, Scully,” Mulder said
with chattering teeth.
BASEMENT OFFICE TWO WEEKS LATER
Scully walked into the office carrying a bakery bag and
two cups of real coffee. Mulder was already there and
looked like he had been for some time.
Setting her parcels down, but not moving from where she
stood, she took a moment to admire the view in from of
her. Tie askew and his sleeves rolled up, Mulder sat
in front of the monitor on his desk hacking away at the
“I had no idea you were this eager to get back to work.
What are you working on?”
A wry grin crossed his lips.
“Finishing my report to Skinner. He wants us in his
office at 9.”
After being pulled from the river, Mulder had given a
statement to the Cleveland police that the man he had
encountered on the bridge was the same man he had seen
at the crime scene where victims number 7 and 8 had
been found, the man in his composite drawing. This was
not the killer, but Mulder was certain that he could
have given them information. In attempting to
apprehend the man, a struggle had ensued and they had
both ended up plunging into the river. Not exactly a
lie but a confabulation of the truth that he hoped
would protect this fragile alliance he now seemed to
have with whomever was behind Kritschgau. A group who
seemed like they would stop at nothing to expose the
corruption that now existed. No sign of the other man
had been found. To date there had been no new
The media on the other hand had been given a fabricated
story that read something to the effect that Mulder had
identified the man on the bridge as the suspect in the
Morgan kidnapping. In attempting to apprehend the
suspect on the bridge that night, the suspect had
perished in the plunge into the river. Mulder found it
hard to believe that the public had bought the story.
His own conscience nagged at him to set the record
straight. Kritschgau, however, was right. There was a
bigger picture here and once again Mulder found himself
using a lie to find the truth.
In response to Mulder’s allegations at the press
conference, the FBI, the Justice Department, local law
enforcement, state senators, state and local government
offices, municipal and county courts, several leading
pharmaceutical companies and a multitude of private
businesses had all been contacted by representatives of
the media and legal councils. The investigations would
take years and many of the answers would no doubt be
found in the X-Files themselves.
Scully came around the desk to stand next to Mulder.
Picking up the drawing of Alicia Morgan’s kidnapper.
“This is still bothering you isn’t it?”
Mulder sat back, picking at his trouser leg to remove
some invisible lint. He didn’t meet her eyes.
“There was a murderer there, Scully. The man was
working for someone. I could feel it. I just don’t know
if it was our usual ‘outside source’ or something even
more sinister. And yeah, that still bothers me.”
She leaned on the desk, crossing her arms.
“But you’re still not about to reveal the identity of
the man you met on the bridge? You know who he was;
it’s almost like letting a killer go free. What did he
tell you, Mulder?”
From somewhere in his memory those same words came back
to him. ‘Why would anyone let a killer go free?’ And
then Arthur Dales haunting reply. ‘In the hope
that . . . the crimes that were committed . . . might someday
Mulder leaned forward and hit the PRINT button on the
keyboard. Several pages spit out of the printer behind
him. Pushing the chair back, he stood, grabbing the
pages and stuffing them into the back of the folder
containing his report. Grabbing his jacket off the
back of the chair he turned to Scully.
“He told me it’s time for the phoenix to take flight.”
AUTHORS NOTES: This story is fiction. The original
story of Kingsbury Run however is very real. Eliot
Ness, Peter Merylo and Martin Zelewiski were all real
people from Cleveland, Ohio, who back in the 1930’s
became involved in one of the greatest murder mysteries
of all time. To this day the case remains unsolved.
The names of the real victims have been changed. This
is in no means meant to be disrespectful. I just felt
uncomfortable using them in this fictional story. All
the other characters in my story are mine and any
resemblance to any real persons living or dead is
purely coincidental. Since I really don’t know that
much about FBI or police standards and practices I’ve
taken a lot of artistic license here for the purpose of
the story…just go along with it. If murder mysteries
fascinate you and you’d like more information on “The
Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run” you can check out the
Cleveland Police Museum’s website at
http://www.clevelandpolicemuseum.org/torso.htm or check out
your local library or bookstore for “In the Wake of the
Butcher” by James Jessen Badal
As a footnote to the above, a recent story on the local
news indicates that the investigation into the murders
continues. With the advancement of DNA testing
investigators are hoping to use postcards that were
mailed to Eliot Ness several times during the case in
an effort to link them to a suspect. These postcards
are currently in the possession of the Western Reserve
Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio who at present
are hesitant to release them because the testing
process will destroy them.
“The Untouchables” is a novel written by Eliot Ness and
Oscar Fraley. It’s also a feature film starting Kevin
Cosner, Sean Connery, Robert DeNiro and Andy Garcia and
worth a look. I think you’ll find Mr. Ness and Mr.
Mulder have a lot in common.
Today the area of Cleveland know as “The Flats” is
still a highly industrial area but it has also become
one of Cleveland’s better entertainment venues with
lots of restaurants and outdoor concert facilities.
Many of the beautiful bridges that span the Cuyahoga
River are lighted at night.