Phoenix Rising

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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.

Feedback: iluvxf@hotmail.com

“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.

PHOENIX RISING

By: Traveler

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Teaser

FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE

CLEVELAND, OHIO

11:43PM

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

with this.”

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

alright?”

“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.

“Mulder.”

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

thought.

“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

think.”

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.

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2630 HEGAL PLACE

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

TWO WEEKS EARLIER

9:28P.M.

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

presentation.

“Don’t go.”

He hadn’t responded at first but then what she had said

sunk in.

“What?”

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

tagging along.”

“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

was gone.

“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

the airport.

“We can take a walk, up to the park, there’s that

little restaurant deli place that has homemade ice

cream.”

“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

good.”

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

air.

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

seriousness.

“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.

“Mulder?”

“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.”

“We are.”

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’

Act I

FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE

CLEVELAND, OHIO

PRESENT DAY

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

Ritter.

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

the nation.

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

died instantly.

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

CLEVELAND, OHIO

8:43AM

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.

“Agent Scully.”

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

Skinner.

“Thank you.”

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

her.

“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

good use.

Scully wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or not.

She wasn’t sure she was happy about having a

‘reputation’.

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.

“Agent Scully…”

“Yes?”

“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

partner.

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

hand.

“I’d offer you one of these but they’re both for your

partner.”

Scully winced at the thought of Mulder living on

coffee.

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

several days.

“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

Mulder.

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

away.

“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

there anymore.”

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

of here.”

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?”

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?”

She nodded.

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

eight.

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.

“Mulder?”

“Hmmm.”

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.

“Mulder?”

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

the crowd.

“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,

Scully.”

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,

Mulder.”

“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

frighten her.

“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

man.

“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

identifying him.

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

attention.

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

Mulder’s rescue.

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

sketch artist.”

“What?”

“I think I know who the killer is Scully.”

FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE

CLEVELAND, OHIO

2:14PM

“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

database.

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

patience.

“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

his motive.”

“And just what would that motive be, Agent Mulder?”

“You find out who he is and I’ll figure out his

motive.”

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

ROOM 143

6:32PM

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

would.

“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.

“Roll over.”

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

techniques are.”

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

years?”

“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

victims.”

“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

today?”

“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

missing something!”

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

ROOM 143

9:32PM

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

Pollino.

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

drift.

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.

“Mulder.”

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

black.

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

him.”

“Tower City?”

“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

ROOM 146

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

anything.

“Peyton called, the police spotted my guy. Let’s go.”

TOWER CITY CENTER

10:18PM

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.

“Hey.”

“Find them yet?”

“Them?”

“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

victims.”

“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

there?”

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.

“Follow me.”

clip_image006

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.

“What?”

“They’re down here. I don’t have my phone, call for

backup.”

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

vu.

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

back.

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.

“You OK?”

“Yes, go. Where’s Ritter?”

“He’s up ahead of us somewhere. It’s so damn dark down

here.”

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

voice.

“FBI! Freeze!”

More shots.

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

heels.

“Damn it Ritter, where are you?”

“Make a right at the intersection, I think I have him

trapped.”

Mulder turned to look at Scully, something akin to

regret passing across his face as she watched him

consider what to do next.

“Wait here.”

“Mulder, no.”

“He’s my partner here, Scully. Someone has to wait for

the backup.”

Before she could object he was off again, dimming the

flashlight.

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

didn’t stop.

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

destination.

“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

Mulder’s hands.

“Let him go,” she said softly, trying to get his

attention.

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

my fault.”

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

darkness.

“Agent Scully?”

“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

was standing.

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

you.”

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

approaching.

“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.

Act II

METROHEALTH MEDICAL CENTER

8:33AM

“Scully”

“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

Washington.”

METROHEALTH MEDIAL CENTER

ROOM 319

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

eyes met.

“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

yourself.”

“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

relationship.”

Breaking eye contact he looked down, shaking his head

slightly.

“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

this business.”

He wasn’t saying it, but she could read his logic and

it frightened her. He was thinking of quitting.

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

WASHINGTON D.C.

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

worried her.

“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

eyes.

“He’s been asked to resign.”

Shock was the first thing to register in her mind and

then confusion.

“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

resented.

“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

hands.

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

X-Files.”

Skinner gathered the photos and placed them back in the

envelope.

“Scully, there’s something else you should know. I

threatened him with the X-Files.”

“Sir?”

“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

decision.”

Scully stood without another word, turning away from

Skinner and making her way to the door.

“Scully?”

“Yes,” she replied with out turning around.

“This thing with Ritter. It’s eating him up, isn’t

it?”

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

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

1:47 PM

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

accident.”

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

frustration.

“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

so much?”

“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

right.”

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

your righteousness.”

Mulder glanced away from her, chuckled softly in a

disgusted way.

“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

that.”

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.

“No.”

Mulder looked down at her puzzled.

“What?”

“Tell them no, you’re not going to resign.”

“Scully, it doesn’t make any difference. They’ll fire

me.”

“No–they won’t.”

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

her.

“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

it.”

“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

him.

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.

“Sir?”

Scully watched as their boss sized up her partner.

“You look like hell, Mulder, how much have you had to

drink?”

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

doorway.

“Actually, I’m here to tell you you’re wanted back in

Cleveland.”

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

shooting back.”

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

for.”

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

letting them.”

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

met Scully’s.

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

here.”

Act III

FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE

CLEVELAND, OHIO

11:40 AM

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

case.”

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

separate ones.”

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

arm.

“Alicia Morgan?”

“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

CLEVELAND, OHIO

6:20PM

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

his passions.

“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

pretty.

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

him nauseous.

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.

“What’s wrong?”

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.

clip_image008

“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

threatened?

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.

“Like you.”

He looked away and then very softly answered her

unspoken question.

“Yeah, like me.”

“Mulder,” she said, reaching over to place her hand on

his arm.

“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

hand away.

“What am I supposed to get?”

Mulder erupted from the chair, slamming his palms on

the table.

“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

hips.

“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 . . .

BANG

JUSTICE CENTER MEDIA ROOM

9:10AM

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

room.

“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

an investigator.”

“But it’s my understanding that Agent Mulder doesn’t

work for VCS.”

“Excuse me — Sir?” Mulder stepped closer to the

microphone.

“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

solved?”

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

turned white.

“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

that?”

“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

game.”

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.

“Mulder?”

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

hall.

FBI REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE

CLEVELAND, OHIO

7:35PM

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

here.

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.

“Mulder.”

“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

and forefinger.

“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.

“Scully.”

“Hey, it’s me.”

His voice sounded hesitant and she was instantly on

alert.

“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

the lines.

“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

up.

“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

information…”

“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

windshield.

“You know, I got the impression that you were in on

this with me this morning at that conference. Was I

mistaken?”

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?”

“What?”

“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

8:22PM

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

baseball cap.

“Agent Mulder.”

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

involved in.”

“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

used?”

“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 are?”

“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

Kritschgau.

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.

“911 operator.”

“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

people?”

Kritschgau wrestled with Mulder, pulling his hands from

his coat.

“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

face.

“Don’t give me any of this liberation psychobabble, I

want to know who’s behind this, who am I working for

now?”

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

at whom.

Cruisers pulled up and two officers got out running to

where Scully now stood, watching the drama unfold above

her.

“What the hell’s going on here?”

“My partner and I believe your suspect are on that

bridge.”

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

the other.

“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

that chance.”

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

railing.

“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

bridge.

“I can solve this case, you know who killed these

people! You want people to know the truth, help me

here!”

“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.

“No!”

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

her eyes.

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

way.”

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

yards downstream.

“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!”

Scully nodded.

“They’ll nev . . . never find him, Scully,” Mulder said

with chattering teeth.

Epilogue

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.

“Morning.”

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

keyboard.

“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

victims.

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

be exposed.’

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.”

THE END

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.

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