Stradivarium Opus

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Stradivarium Opus

Author: Skinfull

Disclaimer: Not mine no profit no harm.

Summary: Control is a fickle thing unless you know who is holding the reins.

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Stradivarium Opus

By Skinfull

Washington DC

January 19th 2008

5.40PM

A soft sleet barely trickled but fell slowly down in curving arcs to the ground,

covering everything in a wet slush that worked its way into her socks. Her bags were

heavy with parcels and Shirley knew she was at least four blocks away from her car.

The green familiar logo of the Starbucks coffee shop was almost as welcoming as the

star of Bethlehem to the three wise men so she hurriedly crossed the road and pulled

open the door.

She was met immediately with the aroma of pastries and coffee and knew she had

made the right decision. Spotting an empty seat by the window in the corner she

trudged over and dropped her packages and draped her coat over the high backed

stool, then rummaged for her purse before joining the small queue for coffee.

Deciding to get the hot chocolate instead of her usual latte, she selected an

oversized muffin too and paid for her order. The background music was almost

obnoxiously loud but then she could excuse it since it was no longer blaring

Christmas tunes she’d never heard before. After all, she realized as she slid into her

seat, the holidays were finally over and the After Christmas sales had been

particularly good for a change.

Sipping her drink, she tore a chunk of her muffin off and allowed her eyes to wander

over the other patrons. A young couple sat huddled in the corner, sharing a piece of

pie and sipping the oh so trendy tall cups of latte, across the room from her. Also

sitting at the high counter that ran along the window was a young man working on a

laptop, his eyes frowning and his fingers moving quickly over the keys in a blur and

for the first time since she left the office that afternoon she was glad. Despite the

traipsing around town in boots that were cutting into the backs of her heels and the

lack of forethought she’d put into her car parking choice, Shirley was glad she wasn’t

sitting at work.

Outside more ‘clearance sales’ shoppers streamed by seemingly oblivious to the ever

increasing snowfall, only aware of where they needed to be and how to get there.

Except for one man. He was across the road beneath one of the old fashioned lamp

lights that the city had erected in an effort to pump some culture into this neon

shopping district. He was playing the violin. She could make out some of the notes,

although not the full melodies, but from the small number of passers by that paid

him any attention she wondered if she was only hearing the best of him. An old case

lay by his feet, open and empty save for a few coins she guessed he had thrown in

himself in an effort to encourage more tipping.

Shirley watched the movement of his arms, shoulders, and fingers as he tried in

earnest to get the crowd that milled around to notice him and she almost felt a pang

of sorrow. He was playing for money, hit hard, maybe even laid off from some

employer who cut payroll right at the end of the year. He would need to buy food,

pay the rent for his family she imagined he had waiting at home for him. Then

shaking her head with a self admonishing laugh she finished her hot chocolate and

prepared to leave the dry warmth of the coffee shop. Outside bundled up with her

hat and scarf in place; she pulled on her gloves and picked her packages up again,

checking the traffic before crossing the road.

It seemed to her that each step she took was accentuated by the music of the

violinist and she glanced over at him, only to see him watching her. His eyes closed

over for a second then opened, his focus more intense on her now and his music

matching her movement. Her gait slowed and she found herself stopping and

listening to the soft sounds of his bow crossing the taut strings. She didn’t recognize

the music, didn’t know one classical song from the next but this was different. This

was touching her in places that music had never reached before. Her eyes were

glued to his and she lost all sensation of the world around her. Passers by brushed

against her in their effort to continue on their journeys unimpeded. She took a step

closer to him, her eyes never leaving his until she stood only two feet away.

His bow arced with the final strains of the classical piece holding the haunting note

for longer than she thought possible, taking with it her breath until finally the note

tapered away on the wind. Shirley sighed with relief and for a second wondered what

had happened.

“You liked it?” he asked as he bent over his case and carefully replaced the violin into

its velvet lined cradle.

“That was amazing.”

“I know.” He stood and tucked the case under his arm then held out his hand, palm

up towards her. “Come on.”

It wasn’t even an issue of refusal, that wasn’t even an option. All she could think

about now was hearing that music again and feeling that sensation course through

her body once more so she took his hand and allowed herself to be led away.

He had a car parked not far from where he’d been playing and Shirley climbed into

the passenger seat as he stored his instrument in the trunk, then slipped into the

driver’s seat. They drove in silence for a while and he reached over to take one of

her hands in his. Just outside the city he pulled off the highway onto a smaller road

before pulling off again onto a dirt road that was lined with tall fir trees, heavy with

foliage and snowfall. Shirley squeezed his fingers excitedly at the thought of hearing

his music again as he pulled up at a small rustic house and climbed out. From the

trunk he retrieved the violin and took her hand again as they both rushed up to the

house and into the relative warmth inside. It was open plan with a large kitchen and

living area in the main entrance. A stone fireplace was the centerpiece of the room

and seemed to be already prepared for lighting.

“Do you want to play again?” she asked, looking hopefully at the case in his hands.

“I will in a minute but first we need to heat this place up a bit.” He crossed the room

to the fireplace, his case still in his hands and rested it on top of the thick wooden

mantelpiece above it. In no time he had a fire going and turned to see Shirley still

standing where he had left her and smiled. This time it would work without

problems. This time he had hit all the right notes. There was no trace of

apprehension in her eyes, no trace of doubt or fear, just expectation. And if there

was one thing he knew for sure, it was that this night would exceed all her

expectations. “Come here,” he said holding his hand out to her and she walked over

without hesitation. “Take off your clothes.”

Shirley reached up to her scarf and unwound it from her neck then tossed it aside

along with her gloves and hat to the overstuffed chair to her left. Her coat soon

followed and she clumsily undid her belt before undoing her pants and pushing them

down her legs, where they caught on the boots she had been cursing earlier. She

lowered herself to the rug and pulled her boots off as gracefully as she could, all too

aware of his unmoving gaze upon her. With her pants gone and her boots tossed to

the side she stood up again and undid the buttons on her blouse.

“Wait…you’ll be cold. Let me get you something.”

Shirley watched as he raced off into a room beside the kitchen that she guessed was

the bedroom, and then jogged back to her side with a cotton pajama top. He was

standing so close to her now that she could feel the aura of heat coming off him. She

undid the rest of her buttons then threw the blouse where the rest of her clothes lay

and took the top from him.

“You won’t be comfortable with that on.” His voice was low and warm, his breath

caressing her goose bumped skin. One of his fingers touched the silky strap of her

black bra and ran along it to the cup at the side of her breast and she smiled.

Reaching behind, she undid the clasp and dropped the silky material without a

second thought. Slipping into the cotton top she buttoned it up and gazed up to him

waiting for his approval.

“You smell…perfect.” He leaned in closer and touched her hair, twirling it between his

fingers and smelt it. His arms snaked around her, his fingers joined at the small of

her back, pulling her close to him then resting his forehead on her shoulder. He was

almost a foot taller than her and she had to reach up to wrap her arms around his

neck as they swayed to the music both of them could remember. “Summer day…at

the lake…” his voice was murmuring thoughts and memories as he held her closer

and pressed her small lithe body against his.

“Will you play?” she asked wanting, needing to hear that music again.

“Soon.”

She felt the wide neck of her top move to the side and he brushed his lips against

her shoulder trailing soft wet kisses to her ear.

“Let me play with you first.”

Shirley wanted to laugh. She didn’t even know this man, didn’t even know his name

and he was using terrible lines that she would only expect to hear in a cheesy

teenage date movie but this was more, this was different. Then his kissing stopped.

“Harken alle ye elemente. Aus meinen neigungen heraus wird ein netz gesponnen.

Von diesem vorabend weiter, ist mein wille erfolgt.”

“Is that a poem?” she asked as she swayed her hips luxuriously against him.

“Of sorts.” His hands roamed to her sides and traced soft lines up over her body to

her shoulders and as he pulled back, he rested his hands on her and caught her eyes

again. She felt locked in place and couldn’t move but she didn’t feel any fear, only

contentment.

“Harken alle ye elemente. Aus meinen neigungen heraus wird ein netz gesponnen.

Von diesem vorabend weiter, ist mein wille erfolgt.”

This time when he spoke his eyes shimmered and changed, the color like glistening

jade only to finally settle on the richest shade of emerald green she had ever seen.

She was so entranced by the color there that she didn’t notice the movement of his

fingers as they curled against her throat. The long fingers that earlier she had so

admired as they stirred along the strings of his violin and enticed notes and sounds

like she had never heard, now gripped her throat in a tight unmoving grip. His

thumbs came to rest along her larynx and it wasn’t until she felt the soft pressure he

exerted there that she became agitated.

“Wait,” she said and her hands came up to gently touch his forearms. “I want to hear

you play again.”

“You will,” he almost whispered, his eyes flicking down to the quickening pulse that

beat against the skin beneath her jaw line. “Just relax.”

But her pulse didn’t relax and as he pressed harder against her neck, harder into her

larynx and her breathing became labored he realized that it hadn’t worked. The spell

had failed to materialize to anything worth a damn and that she was as good as dead

in his arms already. A white hot wave of rage washed over him and he wanted

nothing more to do with her. Nothing he could impart into her would make her love

him and no acquiescence of his will would make him love… her.

“You are just like all the others.” His rage intensified as his grip tightened and the

look of fear that finally encroached on her face only made him madder. “Nothing will

work and now it’s too late.”

Her face reddened and her eyes watered as Shirley tried to figure out where she was

and why this was happening to her. Random thoughts and images flashed before her

as she tried to rationalize the situation but in the second that it took for that to

happen, she realized too that there was nothing she could do. She clawed at his

arms, his hands and even his face to get him to release her but all she could feel was

the impending darkness that was closing in around her, shrinking her field of vision

and stealing the power of her limbs until finally there was nothing.

He shook the final few breaths from her body and let her fall limply to the floor.

Disgusted at himself for failing again and more so at her for failing him, he

unceremoniously ripped the pajama top off her and neatly folded it before placing it

onto the couch, then gathered up the rest of her clothing and tossed them into the

fire. Watching them burn for a few minutes he slowly turned to her crumpled body

and with a resigned sigh he walked into the kitchen. In the closet under the sink, he

seized the tarp he needed and a coil of rope before getting to work.

***

Mulder & Scully’s Duplex

January 19th 2008

7.50PM

Mulder lay across the couch and didn’t bother to shift the cushion that cradled his

neck at that almost painful angle. Three hours to commute back from the crime

scene in what should have been at most a forty minute journey. Heavy Snow falling

and a sewer construction detour made only for a lengthened drive as far as he was

concerned. And to make matters worse the house was empty when he trudged back

in exhausted.

Still in his damp coat, he was tired, hungry and felt grimy. Never would he ever

expect Scully to be waiting in the kitchen for him with a hot meal, but if there was

ever a time for him to play his chauvinist card tonight was it. He would given his

right leg to have a hot meal waiting for him, a hot bath and maybe allowed to control

the TV to watch the game tonight but he knew he was daydreaming. Scully was

meeting with a colleague from Quantico tonight for dinner and to discuss a paper

they were working on, so he would have to fend for himself. Prepare some sort of

sustenance and maybe squeeze in a quick shower before the game started thanks to

his lengthy commute. Glancing at the clock he watched the seconds tick by for

another minute before forcing himself off the couch.

He tossed his coat onto the rack by the door with a mock crowd-cheering whoop, as

it stayed there rather than pooling onto the floor as he crossed into the kitchen to

get food. The fridge seemed empty to his lazy appetite, even though it was all but

full to the brim and instead decided to opt for a takeout pizza. Smiling at the

delicious thought of not having to get the low fat cheese or the low carb base, Mulder

quickly dialed the memorized number and ordered the cheesiest, meatiest pizza on

the menu, then added some extra toppings and paid with his visa. He rubbed his

hands with childlike glee as he undressed in the bedroom and prepared the shower.

It wasn’t the hour long soak he was anticipating on the drive home, maybe with

Scully joining him for some ‘quality time’, but his spirits had been lifted enough by

the thoughts of the incoming food that it didn’t bother him. He was dressed again in

sweats and a Tee and stretched out on the couch as he decided which game to watch

when the door bell rang.

“Perfect timing.” Mulder jumped up to grab the door and took the large pizza box

with a smile. He pressed a dollar tip into the delivery boy’s hand then closed the door

before he settled back on the couch.

Scully had said she would be home late so he knew he should get most of the game

watched without interruption, and that thought alone seemed to settle his frayed

nerves even more. Not that he didn’t love to have her curled up beside him, her nose

in a book as he tossed insults at the offending team, but this night was a rarity, and

one he cherished.

So much that when the phone rang half an hour later, he hushed it. Ignoring the

shrill noise for another moment he finally gave in and answered it.

“Mulder.” His eyes still on the game and his free hand reaching for another pizza

slice, he didn’t look at caller ID to see who it was.

“I need you.” It was a husky voice that he and several parts of his anatomy

recognized immediately and he thought, the only voice that would make him break

his concentration on food and sports. “I need you now.”

“What’s happened?” the momentary fear he experienced from her words evaporated

as he heard her giggle.

“I got drunk.”

“Drunk? Scully it’s 8.30. How can you be drunk so early?”

“It turns out that if you start drunking at lunch time,” she muttered, her voice

slurred and hiccupping. “Then you get drunked more quicker.”

He wanted to laugh at her speech. Her words jumbled and messed up and her voice

barely able to carry them but then he wanted to scream. He knew she was calling for

a lift and that she was almost all the way over the other side of town. More than half

an hour’s drive away on the best of days but today, who knew?

His eyes flicked over from the TV to the pizza and he sighed. There was no way he

could leave her in this state to get a taxi and he knew he would be able to wrangle

something good out of her for this.

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“Okay I’m on my way. Where are you?”

“Where are we?” Mulder listened as she spoke to someone that was standing next to

her and the laughing and giggling that followed made him uneasy. “We’re at Phase 1

on 8th street.”

“Okay I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“I’ll wait outside for you.”

“No Scully it’s too cold. Just wait inside the bar and I’ll be there in a while.”

Mulder waited for a reply but all he got was more giggling so he hung up and went

into the room to change. On his way through the living room he grabbed another

slice of pizza and checked the score line.

As expected, the drive was monstrous through the city and all the shortcuts and

back alleys he took seemed blocked up by other drivers that also knew these covert

routes. Eventually he made it onto 8th street and drove slowly along it until he saw

the bar. The name was written in a small yellow font that was back lit against a black

wall with a large bouncer standing at the door. Mulder drove another block before he

found parking then hurried through the thick snowfall, holding his coat closed with

his hands buried deep inside his pockets. At the door to the bar he stepped forward

but was blocked by the thick arm of the bouncer.

“Sorry mate.” Mulder frowned at the British accent and wondered who travelled

abroad to take a job as a bouncer, then realized he was being refused entry.

“I’m just picking someone up.”

“Aren’t we all sunshine, but not for you,” the bouncer said looking him up and down

“Not in this pub.”

“No, you don’t understand,” Mulder argued, stamping his feet to keep them from

freezing to the pavement. “I’m picking up my wife.”

The bouncer laughed and sized Mulder up before stepping aside; with an almost

regal gesture he pulled the door open for him. “Good luck, mate.”

Mulder glanced quizzically at the bouncer before hurrying into the warmth. The room

was dark enough for his eyes to need a moment to adjust but when they did, he saw

a small bar with a stage for live music and the floor cluttered with dancers. Odd

chairs and stools scattered the room, none of them matching in color or size but he

figured that was part of the intended theme. On the stage a young woman was

playing the guitar and behind her another playing the drums. The music was fast and

loud but not obnoxiously so. Mulder scanned the room for Scully but failed to spot

her and decided he would need to delve further in to see if he could find her.

Removing his jacket, he draped it over his arm as he circumvented the room. He was

tempted to go over to the bar, order a drink but then he figured if he collected Scully

and they hurried home he would catch the end of his game as his pizza reheated in

the oven. Then he spotted her, in the last place he would have thought but then

remembering the drunken giggles he should have guessed.

On the dance floor with her friend Eliza next to her, Scully was dancing to the fast

music like she had been born for it. Her arms waved over her head and her hair was

flung about her face as she swayed her hips and laughed with the flow of music. For

a few moments he just watched them and he was enthralled by the look of

enjoyment in her face. Too little had he seen her so elated and now to see it

unabashed, uninhibited thanks to the copious amounts of alcohol she had imbibed, it

was invigorating. He wanted to walk up to her, grab her for a kiss, feel her smile

against his lips as he drank in her abandon but then her friend spotted him and they

booth looked towards him.

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Scully smiled almost bashfully as she crossed the floor to him. “Hey,” was all she

managed before grabbing bunches of his shirt and pulling him down for a sweet kiss.

He forgot his anger and frustration, the niggling pain in his neck and even the rapidly

cooling pizza that waited for him and all he could think of was how hot she was

making him. He pulled her against him and deepened the kiss, bending her back a

little as he held her tighter. A few of the people around them cheered and Mulder felt

a slap on his back from at least one passerby. Finally they pulled apart and she

smiled at him.

“Does that mean you’re not mad at me?” she said almost purring.

“Does that mean you just kissed me so I wouldn’t be mad?”

Scully laughed and disentangled herself from his arms then turned to see Eliza still

dancing on the floor. She hurried over and spoke a few words in her friend’s ear who

then turned sharply to Mulder. He was acutely aware of her eyes as they settled on

his groin area and he thanked god that the room was too dark for her to see

anything. After a quick hug, Scully retrieved her coat from a chair and met Mulder

again but as she took his hand and tried to lead him back out onto the street, he was

suddenly struck with a realization. He looked around the room, seeing for the first

time the patrons of the bar and how none of them were male. All the people dancing

were female; the staff behind the bar and the ones gathering glasses around the

room, all of them were woman.

“Scully…” he said as he followed her out onto the street. She had pulled her coat on

tightly and was shoving her hands into her pockets when he joined her, buttoning up

his own coat. The bouncer smiled as he spotted Mulder coming back out and slapped

him on the back.

“You managed to convince her to leave with you then?” he said laughing and Mulder

frowned at him.

“C’mon Scully,” he shivered as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled

her close against him to guard her from the cold. He guided her to the car and held

the door open for her until she had climbed in, then hurried around to the driver’s

side. The snow had continued to fall while he’d been in the bar and the car was now

nestled under an inch thick blanket. He turned on the engine and flipped the heat up

full then switched the wipers on until the screen defrosted.

“That was a gay bar right?” he asked, looking at her quizzically, a crooked smile

caressing his lips.

“Yeah,” she replied, rubbing her hands together to generate more heat and blowing

hot breath into them. “Eliza was looking for a release.”

“Release?”

“She broke up with her girlfriend last week and I think she wanted to blow off some

steam.”

“So you were her wing man?” Mulder looked at the windshield and saw it was

defrosted enough to see out of now, so he checked his mirrors before pulling out on

to the road.

“I guess, although I don’t think I was being too successful.”

“Looked like you were having a good time though.”

“A great time.” Scully laughed as the memories fluttered through her alcohol addled

mind.

“So you guys didn’t get much research for your paper done I guess.”

“Eh…no!” she smiled as she settled back into the seat and let one of her hands rest

high on his thigh. “Eliza called me just after you left and we decided to make it a

lunch meeting instead of a dinner one. And I guess one thing lead to another.”

“You mean one drink lead to another!”

Scully shrugged as her eyes closed over and Mulder decided to let her sleep. She

would pay for her misbehaviors with an almighty headache in the morning and after

the kiss she greeted him with, he knew that was punishment enough for making him

miss his relaxing evening in.

When they reached home she was all but fast asleep and it took some maneuvering

to get her out of the car and into the house. She tried to say she wanted to stay up

but he convinced her to go straight to bed. He turned down the quilt as she washed

in the bathroom then helped her into her night clothes, then forced her to drink a

glass of water. She kissed him enticingly as she climbed into bed, but she was asleep

before her head hit the pillow.

He kissed her cheek then returned to the living room where he found the game on

replay and popped his pizza in the microwave to warm up. He soon settled back in

his original position on the couch, TV remote in one hand and slice of pizza in the

other, he sighed with contentment and took a bite.

Then his phone rang again.

“Oh Christ…” he muttered letting his head fall back onto the cushion in frustration as

he reached blindly for the phone on the side table. “Mulder,” he bit out.

“Agent Mulder I need you to go to St Augustine’s Church in the District — 25th Street

Northwest.”

“AD Skinner?”

“I need you to get there as soon as possible. There is a case there that requires your

special attention and you have to get there now.” Skinner’s voice was hushed and

carried urgency.

“I’ll leave right away.”

Skinner had hung up before Mulder finished his sentence. He tossed his pizza back

onto the plate and went into the bedroom where Scully was asleep. Her light snores

were endearing enough for him not to wake her so he placed a kiss on her cheek and

left.

***

St Augustine’s Church

January 19th 2008

11.20PM

Considering the covert way in which AD Skinner had called him, Mulder was

surprised to find a full complement of emergency services outside the church. A wide

area had been cordoned off with police tape and three squad cars had blocked it

further from the ever increasing crowd. A swat van had been parked on the corner

just out of sight but Mulder saw it was empty and figured they were already in

position. In the center was another unmarked van that he realized was being used as

the command centre for this debacle. He pulled out his badge and walked through

the cordon then made his way to the Officer in charge.

“You FBI?” A tall stout man called as he watched Mulder approach through the

cordon. “‘Bout time you made it. I’m Detective Waverly. Where’s the rest of the

cavalry?” he shouted, looking around Mulder for the rest of the Bureau.

“I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder.”

“The specialist?” Waverly took Mulder’s arm and led him over to the van where

Mulder saw three other officers watching small black and white screens. He could

just make out the interior of the church on the screen obviously being broadcast by

optical cameras placed there by the Swat team. “The perp has three hostages in

there and is refusing to talk. We don’t have a name.”

“Hostages?”

“Some service tonight, not many people. This guy waited until most everyone had

cleared out, then he went up to the altar and grabbed priest at gunpoint, along with

two altar boys. One of the altar boys had a cell on him and he dialed 911.”

Mulder processed the information as quick as he could then focused on the screens

again. The church was small enough that one camera with a wide angle could take in

the whole interior scene and Mulder saw two altar boys kneeling at the front of the

altar, the priest kneeling beside them, all of their heads bent in prayer. Then to

Mulder’s surprise he noticed the captor kneeling in the first row of pews, his head

also bent in prayer.

“He doesn’t look too aggressive.” Mulder commented, gesturing to the captor.

“He already emptied a clip into the church door when we first approached.”

“And he hasn’t made any communication?”

“We tried to call the kid’s cell back, but we think the perp found it and turned it off.”

Waverly seemed tense and angry and Mulder realized then why he was so happy to

see the FBI on the scene.

“Gimme a minute.” Mulder stepped away from the van and pulled out his cell. He

speed dialed Skinner and waited only one ring before it was answered.

“Mulder, did you get there yet?” Skinner’s voice was still hushed.

“Yes sir, but I’m not sure why.”

“Have you spoken to him?”

“No sir, there are no lines of communication open as yet. We have video footage of

the church but it’s unclear.” Mulder paused then added. “Why am I here?”

“You don’t recognize him?”

“Sir I can barely see him. Just tell me why I’m here”?

“The man in that church is Special Agent Robert Jefferies.”

The name was enough and Mulder hung up without saying another word. He walked

over to the van and took off his coat. He folded it across a chair then took off his tie

and suit jacket. He removed his gun from its holster and left it on the pile of clothes

with the clip removed safely.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going in. You need to get rid of those cameras and pull the swat team back.”

Mulder rubbed his hands together as the coldness of the night seeped in. “Then get

rid of the press and push those people back another hundred feet.”

“What?” Waverly looked around at all the stuff Mulder was gesturing to. “What the

hell is going to happen?”

“Nothing. Just do it.” Mulder called over his shoulder as he walked towards the

church door. He heard the flurry of activity begin behind him and placed a sweating

hand on the freezing church door. He opened it and stepped into the foyer before he

called out to Robert behind the inner door.

“Sir, this is Special Agent Fox Mulder. I wondered if I might come in and talk to

you.”

“Cavalry, huh?”

“Just me, sir.”

“Come in to talk to me, befriend me and gain my trust…” He heard Jefferies mocking

laugh. “Well Agent Mulder I’m too busy for all that right now.”

“You may not remember me but we worked together on a case back in 94.”

“. . . I remember.”

“Look Robert I’m not armed, I’m not wired and I got the Swat to move back. Just

give me ten minutes and then I’ll walk out if you don’t like what I have to say.”

Mulder waited a moment to be refused entry but when he was met with only silence

he decided to try the door. Stepping to the side, he tested the handle and found it

unlocked then pushed the door open slowly. No shots were fired or footsteps

charging towards him, so Mulder took a deep breath and stepped in.

The church seemed even smaller now that he was inside and he immediately let his

eyes fall to the altar boys and priest who still knelt on the altar steps. Robert was

sitting on the front pew now but his head was bent and his shoulders slumped.

Mulder’s footsteps were muffled by the red carpeting but still seemed to ricochet

around the silent space. When Mulder reached the edge of the pew Jefferies, as if on

instinct, slid up on the seat making room for Mulder to sit in next to him. They sat in

silence for a few minutes then Jefferies turned to him.

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“It’s been four years.”

Mulder knew what he was talking about. Knew the case and remembered it well.

Too well. He had only worked with Jefferies on that one case but he was markedly

different to the other senior agents Mulder had worked with before. He was focused

on the job and wasn’t afraid to make intuitive leaps. He rewarded Mulder’s train of

thought rather than discouraging it and was one of the few agents who showed

Mulder respect for the job he was doing. They had kept in touch over the years,

meeting occasionally over commemorative or celebratory beers in a bar. Then four

years ago it all fell apart.

While the older man was working on a case in Arlington, Jefferies wife had

disappeared. She had been in town shopping; her car was still parked in a multi-

story off West Avenue and was full with Christmas packages. Her wallet was found in

a metro station four blocks away but that was all they ever found. No money was

ever removed from her account and she was never seen again. The simple

investigation Jefferies had been running on smuggling ring had turned into a full

scale manhunt.

No ransom calls were ever made and no body was ever found. It tore him apart and

Mulder looked now at the shell of a man it left behind. He’d left the Bureau and

dedicated his life to finding his wife but four years had passed without a trace of her.

“Four years and I have nothing.” Jefferies spoke quietly. “No leads to follow, to clues

and no fresh trails. I have nothing. I am nothing without her.”

Mulder had no reply and for a second he thought about how he’d felt when Scully

was missing and his heart did a painful triple beat against his ribs. He knew then

whatever words he could say to placate Jefferies would fall on deaf ears.

“Nothing.” Jefferies fondled the gun on his lap and twirled it around. It was pointing

at nothing but menacing all the same. Mulder looked over to the priest and altar

boys and decided it was time to play by the rules.

“How would you feel about letting them go?” He nodded towards them. “I can stay

here with you for as long as you need.”

“They can go.”

Mulder was stunned for a second, unsure if this was a trap but then decided he had

to use the opportunity to get them to safety. He approached the altar and touched

the priest on the shoulder.

“Father,” Mulder said softly, helping the older man to his feet. “You can all leave.”

“Thank you son.” The priest ushered the two shaking altar boys quickly down the

aisle towards the vestibule then turned back to Mulder who had followed close

behind. “Won’t you come with us?” he asked the tall agent when he spotted Jefferies

still sitting in the pew his back to them all.

“I need to finish this, Father. But you get to safety.”

The door creaked as Mulder closed it after them and turned to walk back to Jefferies

who was standing now. He walked over to the altar and took the three steps up onto

the main area. He was gazing up at the crucifix and Mulder thought he could hear

him praying.

“Agent Jefferies, if you come with me we can go back to the Bureau, maybe take a

look at your case. Fresh eyes…” Mulder’s voice trailed off as he noticed Jefferies

shoulders were shaking.

“Would you do that for me Agent Mulder?” he asked, his voice broken with emotion.

“Would you take a look at the case and see if you can see something I missed?”

“Of course.”

“Promise?”

Mulder frowned and then noticed that Jefferies hands weren’t by his sides but up in

front of him as if holding something to his chest and all too soon he realized what it

was. The world seemed to turn in slow motion. He moved as if through jello only his

mind was working at warp speed. His feet were heavy and awkward as he took wide

running steps to the altar only to be met with the shattering sound of the gunshot.

Robert Jefferies jerked back with the force of the bullet from the Beretta and Mulder

found himself splattered with blood and brain matter from the exit wound on the

back of Jefferies’ head.

***

Skinner’s Office

January 20th 2008

8.00 AM

“Full report Agent Mulder.”

Skinner was sitting at the top of the large conference table and next to him was AD

Shanklin. They both looked to Mulder and waited for him to fill them in on the

situation at St Augustine’s the night before. Mulder had been up most of the night

preparing the report and had spent most of that time in the morgue with the coroner

working on blood toxicity levels from Robert Jefferies.

As Mulder spoke about what had happened and how it had ended neither of the AD’s

said a word. When he finished they spoke quietly amongst themselves. After a

moment of whispering AD Shanklin sat back in his chair and sighed.

“Good work Agent Mulder.”

Mulder nodded, not feeling the sense of achievement that usually followed a job well

done. Even though he had showered and changed, more times than necessary,

Mulder could still feel the wetness of Jeffries’s brain matter hitting his face, could still

feel the tacky residue that was left there and couldn’t take praise for his part in this.

AD Shanklin stood up and slid a file folder over towards Mulder. “You want to keep

your promise?”

Mulder looked down at the case file and recognized it as Brenda Jefferies missing

person’s folder. “See what you can get from that but don’t let it kill you like it did

him.” Then he nodded at Skinner and turned to leave.

Mulder took the file and decided it was his cue to leave when Skinner called him

back.

“Good work out there Mulder. You know there was nothing you could have done.”

“I guess so sir.”

“No Mulder. Jefferies went out last night with every intention of killing himself and

maybe those he held in the church. I spoke to Father Grayson and he said that Agent

Jefferies asked for absolution.”

“It didn’t help him.”

“And neither could you.”

Mulder glanced at Skinner and knew his superior was only trying to ensure he didn’t

carry around the blame for this, so he couldn’t argue with him anymore. He nodded

solemnly and left the office.

Taking the elevator down to their basement office, he glanced at the clock and

decided it was time to call Scully to see if she was awake yet. Sitting at his own desk

with the phone in his hand, his finger hesitated over speed dial 1. Sunday morning,

all was quiet but here he was opening a new, possibly difficult case. With a killer

hangover she wouldn’t be happy at the intrusion, but he needed to hear her voice

more than anything else right now. Deciding instead to take the drive back to the

house and greet her with breakfast, he gathered the file and left.

***

Mulder and Scully’s Townhouse

January 20th 2008

10.40AM

Scully rolled over to steal a morning hug and found the other side of the bed empty.

The sheets were also cold so she knew Mulder had either left the bed a long time ago

or had never made it off the couch.

Wrestling with the pounding headache that was forcing her to move slowly, she

draped a soft robe over her shoulders and traipsed down to the living room in time

to hear his key turn in the front door.

“You were out and about early.” She spotted his arms laden down with breakfast

food and hurried over to help him carry it all into the kitchen, putting them on the

table. As she turned around to face him he gathered her into long tight hug.

“Have I told you today that I love you?” he whispered into her hair, stroking it

tenderly and kissing her head.

“Not yet but maybe you can show me.” She smiled up at him but the smile died on

her lips at the tired drawn look in his eyes. “Mulder, what’s happened?”

“I got called out by Skinner last night, just after we got in.” He drew back from her

and rummaged in the bags for the pastries he’d brought for breakfast. He told her

about the scene at Augustine’s church without the gory details of how he felt the

blood on his face and then showed her the case file he’d been given. He sat at the

table and pulled apart the bran muffin, while Scully read.

“AD Shanklin gave you the file?”

“I think it was a mere courtesy rather than the fact that he thinks I’ll be able to do

anything with it.”

“How are you doing?” She came over and perched on his knee, holding his face up

to look at her with a hand on each cheek.

“I’m tired.” He slipped his arms around her waist and rested his head on her chest,

accepting the comfort she offered without hesitation. “I spent the night at the

morgue with Dr Richards trying to find something in Jefferies…something that would,

you know, explain…why he did that.” He held her tighter. “But there was nothing. No

drugs, no alcohol, nothing. He just…gave up.”

“How well did you know him?”

“We worked on one case in 94. It was a child predator case. Eddie Muntz.”

“I remember that one.” Her voice was hushed.

“We worked on it for months. And he was good Scully. Really good.” Mulder smiled a

little at a distant memory but it quickly faded. “After that case we kept in touch. He

played on my ball team for a few years…that was until his wife went missing. We

kind of lost touch after he left the Bureau.”

“That happens.”

“I should have kept in touch with him Scully, I could have helped him with his wife’s

case, maybe found something he was missing. I dunno, something.”

Scully searched for the words that might help him feel better, might help him

understand the desperation but she was lost for them herself. Instead she offered

him the comfort of her touch.

They sat like that for a long time. Just holding each other, squeezing reassurances

into each other with their bodies and words until finally Mulder sat back.

“I love you.” He kissed her on the lips and then smacked her butt playfully. “But it is

time to get dressed. We got work to do li’l lady.” Scully went to shower and dress as

Mulder prepared coffee. As he waited for her he checked through the file and found

nothing out of the ordinary. Almost expecting something to jump out at him and

scream for him to check deeper. He was almost disappointed at the thoroughness of

the investigation. As far as he could tell the lead agent had done everything

expected of him and more.

Back in the kitchen Scully took a muffin from the bag and poured a cup of coffee.

She watched Mulder for a moment as he looked over the file and wondered what

details he’d left out of the incident last night that caused that haunted look in his

eyes.

“So where do we go first?”

“Robert Jefferies home. I want to see the information he’d built up on his wife’s case

to make sure we aren’t double tracking.”

Scully picked the thermos of coffee she had filled and grabbed her coat. “Let’s go.”

***

Robert Jefferies’ home

January 20th 2008

12.45 PM

Mulder picked the lock with ease and pushed the door open. It was a small suburban

house with a large garden to the back. From the street it was just as ordinary as the

rest of the houses but once Mulder walked into the living room that perspective

changed. What could have been the epicenter of a family home, had it been

furnished, was the story board for the last four years of Jefferies’ obsession with

finding his wife. The walls were covered with photos and clues trailing back to her

final sighting. She was Christmas shopping in Crystal City Mall where she was

supposed to be meeting her husband for dinner later that evening. She was spotted

leaving the mall walking west, presumably towards the parking lot where her car was

located before she fell off the radar. Mulder traced his finger along the time line

Jefferies had marked on the walls that followed her movements, then scattered

haphazardly when she was lost.

“Oh my god,” Scully gasped as she followed the wall with her eyes. “He was

obsessed.”

“I would be too,” Mulder muttered, giving her a sad look as he took a step back to

view the wall in its entirety. “Look around and see if there is something we can take

with us.”

But she didn’t move. Scully turned to face Mulder fully and waited for his attention to

return to her.

“What?” he asked finally but without turning to face her.

“Mulder, look at me.” She took a step towards him and waited a heartbeat before

taking his hand. “Look. At. Me.”

He turned to her and she saw his eyes brimming with rage and fear and it scared

her.

“This won’t happen to me. This isn’t some prophecy you can stop happening to me

too. It’s a case, a missing person’s case.”

“The wife of an FBI agent goes missing, that’s not just a missing person’s case

Scully.” He was angry. Not at her for trying to calm him down but at himself for

letting it get to him so deeply. It was a constant fear he held in his heart, usually

simmering in the back of his mind but now to have it shoved in his face so vividly

made it harder to ignore.

“If you are not up to this…” she began knowing the rise it would create within him.

“Then maybe you shouldn’t be working this case.”

“I’m fine Scully. Let’s get a look at the rest of this.”

Scully let him walk away and concentrated on the task at hand. They spent hours in

the house searching through documents and following Jefferies’ leads and trails of

investigation. It seemed to Mulder that he had left no stone unturned, so as the

room darkened and the sun set he decided enough was enough. He found Scully

upstairs in another room that seemed to be following a single facet of the

investigation, the CCTV footage of Brenda Jefferies as she left the mall and walked

down the street.

She was watching the film frame by frame when he knocked lightly on the door to

drag her attention away. “You find anything interesting?”

“Nothing here that I can see but there is this.” Scully stood and left the room,

leading Mulder down the hallway to another bedroom that was focusing on a

different angle. “These are other missing person’s cases.”

“That he was investigating?”

The small bedroom was devoid of any furniture and on the floor were stacks of files.

Each one was labeled with post its marking similarities to his wife’s case.

“I don’t see any trail of investigation but simply a report of many old cases.”

“He was looking for a pattern…” Mulder’s voice took on that whispered tone that told

her he was taking a step she wouldn’t see. He was already sitting on the floor and

reaching for the nearest pile of files when she took out her phone and called for a

FBI team to assemble. This case was going to need more man power than simply she

and Mulder could provide. If AD Shanklin had given Mulder the authority to

investigate it she was sure he would agree to give them help.

Within half an hour she had authorization and a team had been assembled and

dispatched. She arranged for some of them to join them at the Jefferies house to

gather the files and transport them back to the FBI building where more people

would have the chance to search for the pattern. Already, she could see the effect

this case was having on Mulder and she didn’t want him to go down alone.

***

Friendship Heights Metro Station

January 20th 2008

9.30 PM

He looked at his watch and decided he’d give it another half hour before packing up.

The trains were running for another two hours so he should still be able to find one.

His eyes roamed the open spaced Metro station that was lined with kiosks and cafes

for the busy commuter but at 9.30pm on a Sunday most of them were empty. The

odd passenger walked through the station, either rushing for a train or heading for

the street entrance behind him, but no one lingered.

He plucked on the violin strings and he tested and tuned them, then flexed his

fingers to begin playing. Silence echoed through the empty station, quickly followed

by the soft notes of his violin. This was one of his favorite pieces. Chaconne by

Johann Sebastian Bach was considered by most a work of genius but he saw it as

enlightenment. A moment in his day where everything became clear and all he could

do was follow the sound to its inevitable conclusion. And that’s the effect he wanted

to share.

He spotted her then as he rounded past the first movement of the piece. She was

holding a box that was big but seemed light and was standing near the entrance, her

face was focused on his fingers. He threw in the bit of flare to keep her watching,

flicking his head, and closing over his eyes. Chuckling to himself he thought, “They

love it when I close my eyes.”

He watched from the corner of his eyes as she placed the box on the ground and

slowly walked over towards him. He caught her eyes and played his music, matching

the tempo to her steps as she came closer and closer until she was standing right in

front of him. He held her gaze for the duration of the piece, just before it ended a

quick glance around the metro confirmed they were all but alone.

“You are amazing,” she exclaimed, one hand on her chest as she gushed with awe.

“Thank you.” He bent low to slip his violin into its place, lifted the case and offered

his hand. She took it without hesitation and he led her out of the door, onto the

street, her box forgotten.

***

FBI Headquarters

January 20th 2008

10.30PM

Scully stepped into the conference room that they were using to run the

investigation and went straight up to one of the junior Agents. She handed him a FBI

issued credit card and told him to take everyone’s order for food. She scanned the

room and found Mulder sitting some way apart from everyone, his head deep in the

files around him. He was so engrossed in the folder that he didn’t even acknowledge

her arrival until she placed a hand on his arm.

“Scully, look at this.” He rummaged on the table and pulled out a refill pad with a list

of names on it. “Fifteen other cases.”

“Other cases?”

“Each one is female, mid to late thirties who went missing without a trace from the

tri-state area in the past seven years. ” He showed her others he had marked.

“These four went missing within three months of each other.”

“You see a pattern with these cases?” she asked skeptically.

“Each woman went missing while out shopping. Each one went missing in or near a

shopping district and none of them had any reason to leave. Extensive background

searches delved into their lives and we found nothing, no money taken inexplicably,

no passports missing or clothes, other belongings.”

“Mulder people go missing every day. It’s a sad fact but it is a fact. Why do you think

these are from the same pattern?”

“These are the last few shots of them.” He spread out the photos of the fifteen

women who he was talking about and Scully looked down. Each photo, stills taken

from a CCTV camera and the quality wasn’t the best. The shots were grainy but in

each photo the women were laden down with packages. Shopping and gifts for loved

ones. Not the sort of packages a woman on the run might have.

Then she noticed it.

“See this one?” she pointed to the one on her left that was marked with a red felt tip

pen, Eileen Dunne. “I think…hang on…”

She hurried over to the main table where the case file and footage from Brenda

Jefferies was lying. She pulled out the tapes she’d been watching yesterday and took

it over to a VCR, gesturing for Mulder to follow her.

Fast forwarding to the place she was looking for she took another glance at the

photo of Eileen Dunne and was sure she was right.

“Here look, top left of the screen.” Scully paused the tape then pressed the frame

forward button to scan the footage on one frame at a time until what she wanted to

show him was more visible. On the screen Mulder watched as a street musician came

into view. He was tall and blonde from what he could tell on the poor quality video

and he was playing a violin. An unusual choice for street music he thought, and then

looking down at the photo of Eileen he saw the same man.

“This is him playing at the Crystal City Mall on January 15th four years ago. And this

is him again playing at the entrance to Dupont Circle Station.”

“So we make him at two crime scenes…” Mulder went back to the table and splayed

out all the photos so he could see them more clearly. “Tierney!” he called over his

shoulder even as his eyes scanned the pictures. Then when another Agent hurried

over he turned to look at him. “I need you to go to DuPont Circle Station and Crystal

City Mall and requisition the security tapes for the full week preceding each of these

dates. Then get to all these other locations and see if they keep records of the street

musicians who play there.”

“Yes sir.”

Mulder turned his focus back on the photos and pulled another up, then another.

“These two.” He passed them to Scully who could barely make out the blurred arm of

a violin being held by someone’s side in one photo and the distorted image of a

figure holding something up to his shoulder. “I need to get the rest of the photos on

these women and have them examined for this man.” He called out to no one in

particular but everyone listened and got to work.

***

Cabin

January 20th 2008

11.40 PM

clip_image008

“Harken alle ye elemente. Aus meinen neigungen heraus wird ein netz gesponnen.

Von diesem vorabend weiter, ist mein wille erfolgt.”

He passed her the pajama top and waited for her to slip it on before putting his

hands around her neck.

“Will you play for me?” she asked demurely as his fingers caressed her throat. “I’d

love to hear you play again. Please.”

“I will but I need you to do one thing for me first.”

“Anything.” He smiled at her willingness to cooperate and wondered if this was the

one. She was beautiful with full lips curving into a smile and thick curly brown hair

reaching down to her shoulders. He slowly tightened the grip on her neck and all she

did was smile. His thumbs squeezed her larynx but her smile never wavered. As her

eyes watered and her face reddened her smile remained, her hands never came up

to defend herself and her eyes never left his. So he released her.

“Perfect.” He said as he bent low and kissed her softly, letting his tongue stroke the

reddened area of her throat where his hands had left their mark. As his tongue

touched her his hands explored and she gave in enthusiastically to his will and soon

she was writhing beneath him, giving him as much pleasure as he hoped he was

giving her. He ripped off her top and pulled down her panties as she fumbled with

the buckle of his belt. Then he caught her hands and stilled her ministrations. He

held one hand up over her head and grasped the other. Looking down at her fingers

he took her wedding ring off and showed it to her.

“What should I do with it?” he asked, needing her to verbalize the sensation, needing

her to renounce all that she was before.

“Throw it away. It means nothing.”

With those words he tossed the ring over his shoulder and crushed her to the floor

with a heavy kiss.

***

FBI HQ

January 21st 2008

11.15 AM

Mulder lounged back in his chair, tipping it to a dangerous level as he dry washed his

face and tried to relax. Across the room Scully was sifting through CCTV footage and

photos to find the street performer at more locations. Taking over the center table of

the conference room, more agents were making calls to the each of the city stations

and Malls to check for street performers and CCTV footage of any of them. The case

had been active overnight with a number of agents pulling a night shift and more

joining the team a couple of hours ago. Skinner had just left the room after a brief

chat with Mulder and he was sure he spotted AD Shanklin hovering in and out during

the day.

“Agent Mulder?” Mulder looked up between fingers that were covering his face and

saw Agent Reilly approaching him with a piece of paper. “I think I found him. This is

a copy of the street entertainer’s list that the security keep at Crystal City Mall. I also

have footage of him and these two stills. He’s generally there early afternoon and

late evening.”

Sitting up abruptly Mulder took the proffered paper and looked down at the photo. A

slim blonde man who had a nice smile was staring back at him. His face seemed

friendly to Mulder. His hair was disheveled but he figured it was styled to look that

way.

“Jordan Franco.” Mulder read as he looked at the details. “It could be an alias.”

“Yes sir but he left an address. Security insists on it as some of the performers use

valuable equipment. His last known address is in Bethesda.” Reilly pointed out

without waiting for Mulder to read through the notes at the bottom of the page. “He’s

been listed since August 2003 and the address is current as far as we know. That

make’s it two weeks before the first logged disappearance.”

“Nice work Agent Reilly,” Mulder said as he stood and snatched his jacket of the back

of the chair. “Get your coat and let’s go check this place out.”

Scully saw him rise and walked over to see what had him so animated. As she read

the sheet, Mulder called for everyone’s attention. He pointed out three agents and

told them to get prepared for a raid, while at the same time calling a judge on his

cell to issue a warrant.

“We have an address and we’re going to see if we can pull him in for questioning. I

want full body armor on this and everyone else keep tracking. We want to put all

these women on him if he had anything to do with it.”

Scully took the elevator down to the basement with Mulder and they gathered their

own protective vests for the raid. She wanted to say something to him about this not

being the end, or this not being the right guy. Something to prepare him for the

possible dead end they were about to embark on but words failed her as she saw the

look of determination in his eyes. In the garage the four other agents were suited up

and ready to go in an SUV. Mulder gave them directions to the house but said he

would lead in his own car. He jumped in beside Scully and tore out onto the street.

He had the siren on with lights flashing as they hurried through city traffic and the

SUV stuck tightly behind them until finally, they approached the house in rural

Maryland. It was a small house with more then two acres of land surrounding it in all

directions. The private entrance was gated but that was open and rusted. Scully

called for the SUV to cut the siren over the radio and they pulled up just below a hill

by the entrance. Everyone got out and Mulder gestured for two agents to go left, the

other two to the right while he and Scully started for the door. With the place

surrounded and signals from both teams that they were ready; he raised a hand and

knocked on the door. There was no reply so he knocked again, this time louder.

“Jordan Franco? This is the FBI, open up!” he shouted, then withdrew his gun and

took a step back. “I have a warrant to search this address. Open up or I’ll open it for

you!”

Scully took a side step as Mulder aimed for the lock. He counted down from five as if

hoping the occupant would open up, saving him the reports he’d have to file for

firing his gun. Then with a glance at Scully he shot the lock and kicked the door in.

Scully went in first, her gun held out in front of her, Mulder at her back. She heard

Agents Reilly and Dunne coming in through the rear.

“Clear.” One of them shouted as they came out through the kitchen. The living room

was wide and took up nearly the whole of the lower floor, except for the kitchen that

was cut off by a large archway. A small bathroom was to the left, which Mulder found

empty and they converged at the bottom of the stairs. Mulder checked to make sure

everyone was ready then raced up to the top of the stairs to the door. He tested the

handle and found it open giving it a push, his gun aloft. He was met with the putrid

smell of rotting flesh. He gagged as he stepped forward into the converted attic. It

was long and narrow like the house with the apex roof making it seem smaller.

“Oh god,” he heard Scully say as she came up behind him. The attic was dark and

they both pulled out flashlights to brighten the place up only to find more than they

were looking for. “What is that?” she said as she stepped forward and pointed her

maglight at the large mass in the corner.

“I think…oh god…I think its bodies.” Mulder lowered his gun and lifted his light to

shine it more directly on the pile.

It reached almost to the ceiling, was the width of the room and about eight foot long

across the wall. Each body seemed to be wrapped individually in tarps and bound

tightly with ropes. Even as they approached the pile Scully had her phone out and

was calling a forensics unit.

“There are thirty bodies here…easily.” Mulder was appalled, crouching down at the

foot of the grisly hill and gingerly used his gun to move the tarp on one of the bodies

to reveal the partially decomposed remains of a female.

“Agent Reilly had a look out back and there are no trashcans. He found a couple of

newspapers on the porch dating from 2006,” Scully said after having a quiet word

with Reilly by the door. “This was a dumping ground. No one lives here.”

“Who is this guy?” Mulder muttered, grimacing as he stepped away from the pile and

they made their way back down stairs. Reilly and Dunne were in the kitchen

checking through closets while Agents Black and Jones were securing a perimeter

around the house.

The wait for the forensics unit was torturous. Mulder tried to keep busy walking

around the lot to see if he could find anything, checking where Reilly had already

searched. Scully handled the wait differently and she stayed on the phone the whole

time talking to the Agents who were back in the conference room, asking them to

gather a list of all females on the missing person’s list aged between 20 and 40 since

2002. She set up her laptop with a remote connection from her cell and waited for

them to send the information through. She could see Mulder at the side of the house

sifting through leaves and brush, but decided that he needed to be actively involved

and watching her mobile printer spit out pages wouldn’t fall into the active category.

When the forensics team arrived she suited up with them into one of the full body

suits and mask then led them into the house and up to the attic. None of the team

members blanched at the sight before them and Scully silently commended them,

remembering her own reaction but then she realized they had the 30 minute drive

out to prepare for this grisly scene.

Without hesitation the team got to work photographing the scene thoroughly before

finally moving the bodies, affording some manner of dignity as they worked. They

moved them to lie flat in a row until there was no more room on the attic floor, then

started to move them to a large area in the front yard that was covered with a tent

other team members had erected. Hours passed while they processed the bodies and

in some cases skeletons, into single row. Finally they had no more to move. At final

count there were forty-two bodies at various stages of decomposition. After the

initial screening, the lead forensics officer approached Scully tearing off his facemask

on the way. She stood at the entrance of the marquee and looked on gravely at the

scene before her.

“Forty-two.” Scully sighed.

“Yeah, and the first, as far as I can gather without the lab, has been dead for over

four years.”

“And the last?”

“Was one of the first ones we moved.” He gestured for her to follow him into the

house again and then up into the attic. Scully had to look away for a second when

she first entered. It was one thing to see the undetermined pile of bodies but now

they were lying in a row, twenty bodies face up with the tarp pulled back off their

faces. This was more daunting than she had expected. “This lady can’t be more than

eight to ten days dead. The body is still bloated and fluids surrounding her are

evident here and here,” he said pointing out the pools of body fluid in the tarp.

“How long before we can start with identification?” she asked stepping over the row

and looking at each of the females in the face. They all deserved as much, she

thought.

“It’ll take a few hours before we can get them moved back to Quantico but I have

called in some help from the Maryland State Police Forensic team to get this moving

as quick as possible.”

“Good. I have a list of possible names and faces that we can start with,” she said as

she handed him the file of missing women. “Let me know as soon as you can.”

“Will do, Agent Scully. There is one more thing though.” He said as she started to

walk away. He moved further into the attic to the back wall and pointed at a small

hole that was drilled into one of the support beams in the roof. “I’m not sure but…”

he touched the hole with his finger then poked it. It was wide enough to take one of

his fingers but he had no leverage to pull anything out of it. “I think there’s a camera

in there.”

“A camera?”

“I saw a red light flashing when we first got here but it seems to have stopped now.

Like it has a motion sensor.”

“And it was pointed at the bodies? Not the door?”

“Yeah.” Scully looked up into the small hole and saw a small beam glinting off the

light of her flashlight Sure enough there was something metallic up there but she

couldn’t figure out what. “Good eyes. I’ll get one of the tech guys on it.”

Scully walked away from the tent, pulling her forensic suit open. She tore it off and

tossed it into the can by the forensic van. She spoke to one of the technical Agents

to check out the camera in the attic before scanning the area for Mulder. He was

standing at the top of the hill towards the private gated entrance to the land with his

back to her and his hands in his pockets.

A cold wind was blowing a soft snowfall away from the house and covering the

ground with a white sheen. His shoulders and hair were dusted with flakes so she

knew he had been standing there for a while. Her footfall was muffled by the frozen

grass as she approached but he still knew she was there when she stood a mere two

feet behind him.

“Final count?” he asked without turning.

“Forty-two.” She let out a deep breath then took the final two steps towards him and

touched his arm. “Between four years and ten days dead.”

“Oh Christ.” He turned towards her, shaking off her arm and she was worried by the

look of fear mixed with rage in his eyes. Dark circles under his eyes and red rimmed

lids. She saw then that he was carrying around the guilt once monopolized by

Jefferies, only Mulder was intensifying his by forty-two, each body emitting a new

wave of guilt that sunk into his core and overrun his emotions.

“Dr Kraft is arranging for the bodies to be taken to Quantico and he has arranged for

a team of forensic specialists from the MSP to join his team to make the

identification go quicker.”

“We found what could be a camera.” She added, wanting to give him more

information to focus on other than the amount of dead bodies. “Agent Grayson is

checking it out now.”

“So whoever it is knows we are here.” Mulder seemed content to leave that discovery

alone and quickly changed the subject. “I ran a background check on him.” Mulder

said looking over her head to see the activity at the house behind her. “Jordan

Franco,” he added when she looked at him quizzically.

“Did you find anything?”

“He was a musician with a band that traveled playing at local events, state fairs etc.”

“A band?”

“Well I guess an orchestra. First string violinist.” Mulder started to walk towards the

car and Scully unconsciously followed. “He played with them until 99 then he left to

pursue his own career, gigging around the city to keep money flowing.” At the car,

Mulder reached into the glove box and pulled out the small folder he’d complied on

Jordan Franco and passed it to her. “He doesn’t fit Scully.”

“He was a loner, no family and he played the violin. He was spotted at the location of

four of the missing women on CCTV camera. What’s not to fit?”

“Someone playing the violin was spotted on the photos.”

“What?” she looked up to him. He wasn’t making sense and his thoughts were going

too fast for his voice, his words, maybe even his comprehension to keep up.

“The photos we have of him, from the CCTV footage…they aren’t very clear. It could

be anyone!”

“We’re at his house Mulder. We’re at the location of his last known address and there

are forty-two bodies here. What do you want, a signed confession?”

When he didn’t reply Scully was immediately sorry for her outburst. It was too hard

to watch him sink so low, to see the effects this case was having on him, both

physically and emotionally and just let it continue without fighting for him. She

wanted to laugh at her own thoughts, as if she would ever give up fighting for him.

“Look Mulder, we will have the identification of these women in a day or so and

maybe we’ll find more connections to Franco then.”

“Maybe,” he conceded without commitment.

“Let’s go.” She took his arm and pushed him towards the car passenger side. “We’ll

go back to DC and get some food before we hit this case again.”

He acquiesced to her decision and slipped into the seat letting his head roll back to

the rest and closing his eyes. Scully noticed he was asleep before they even drove

off the property and decided to make the drive back to DC last as long as she could

to give him as much rest as she could.

***

Cabin

January 21st

12.30PM

He lay on the couch with his arms flung up over his head. The fire before them

roared with high flames and searing coals and he watched contentedly as she added

another log. She crawled on her hands and knees towards him and he loved the way

the baggy top came away from her, giving him a delicious view of her breasts

swaying with each movement. He held out his hand to help her crawl onto his chest,

shifting his weight beneath her until she was nestled between his legs with her head

resting heavily on his chest, her hands clutched his sides and she turned to face the

fire with a comfortable sigh.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted,” he said, stroking her lower back in gentle circles

beneath the hem of the pajama top she was wearing. He kissed the top of her head

and she looked up to him and smiled.

“You’re eyes are so green. I’ve never seen such beautiful eyes in my life.”

“I’m told I got them from my mother.”

“And your music skills?”

The smile on his face faltered for a moment but then he relaxed and let his eyes

wander to the violin case that rested on the mantelpiece. “That’s definitely from my

father. He taught me everything I know about music.”

“Will you play for me?” she asked demurely, kissing his bare chest in an enticing

manner.

“Maybe after dinner, I’m so comfortable now I’d hate to move.” He squeezed her ass

and pulled her tightly against him so she’d understand exactly how comfortable, the

wide grin on her face told him she knew. But before he had the chance to kiss her a

soft beeping noise came from the bedroom. “Hang on a moment,” he said as he

rolled her off him and onto the floor before he raced across the room to the

bedroom. Behind the door was a small dresser with a laptop on it. He flicked on the

lamp beside it and moved the mouse to reactivate the screen. With a soft whirr the

machine came to life and he saw a window pop up asking for his password. He typed

it in deftly and then double clicked on the flashing icon in his system tray and

watched as another window popped up.

In that window was digital video footage of the house. The *fridge* he called it

jokingly. But instead of looking at the bodies he was looking into the face of an older

man. Then much to his surprise, a young red haired woman stepped into view and

shone a light on the camera blocking his view altogether. When the footage cut off

he replayed it over and over. He paused it when her face came into view. He took a

still then printed it out before looking at it more closely. Stepping into the living

room he spotted his latest guest lying on the couch eagerly waiting for his return. He

realized that the lust was gone. When there was nothing more to fight for the

passion fizzled out. He looked down at the picture in his hand and then back up to

his companion and decided it was time for a change.

More than one thing he decided. Brunettes? He wondered as he sat next to her and

put an arm around her, brushing her brown curls away from her face. The fridge? He

imagined the FBI crawling through the house and smiled at all the “clues” he’d left

behind as he kissed her neck and moved his lips and tongue up to her cheeks,

covering her face with butterfly kisses. His hands came up to encircle her throat and

even though she was willful and obedient, the image of the red head flashed through

his mind and he squeezed tighter knowing there was nothing to save her now.

***

Carmine’s Restaurant

January 21st 2008

8.30PM

Mulder pushed the food around his plate, twirling more pasta he wouldn’t eat onto

his fork. He wondered why Scully wasn’t commenting on his lack of appetite when he

glanced at her own near full plate. He smiled.

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“Hey Scully,” he took her hand and brought it to his lips for a kiss, letting his tongue

appear to grace her knuckles as he did. “Not hungry? But I thought you loved

lasagna?”

“I’m not Garfield Mulder,” she said with a half smile. “I can resist the tempting lure

of meat and cheese.”

“Oh, I’m not sure if I can,” he took a forkful of her dinner and ate it appreciatively

making soft “mmm” noises as he chewed. The restaurant was nearly full but they

managed to get a table in the back corner. Mulder had tried to talk about the case

but with one severe scowl, he dropped the subject and they made idle chatter for the

most part. It soon fizzled out as their thoughts returned to the case and left them

trying to eat in silence. At another table a couple was speaking low and sharing

secrets and Mulder watched as the man patted his inside pocket numerous times. He

wondered if it was a ring nestling in there for his companion but the guy seemed to

lose his nerve as the bill arrived so they both left unengaged. Across the room a

waiter was handing out glasses of champagne to what appeared to be an anniversary

party of some sort. Following him was another waiter playing soft Italian music on

the violin accompanied by a third on the accordion.

It was the perfect scene as if from a Hollywood movie but Mulder couldn’t shake the

tension he was feeling and he knew he was passing it onto Scully. She smiled when

he took her plate and swapped it with his own. It wasn’t enough for him so he pulled

her arm until she was close enough to kiss and he just smiled. Surprised by his

sudden romantic flush she waited for him to finish, watching as he grinned when she

returned it. She closed the short distance between them and kissed him, one hand

resting on his cheek as he tried to hold her closer than the table would allow.

His elbow knocked over a glass of wine, tipping it onto the table and over his lap

making him jump back. With a gasp, he stood up and held the wet part of his pants

away from his groin as the cold and wet sensation tickled his skin.

“See the effect you have on me Scully,” he breathed into her ear as he kissed her

gently before he hurried off to the bathroom to clean up. The champagne waiter and

the accordionist rushed over to help clean up the mess and apologized profusely at

her, but Scully bushed off their regret. She smiled at them, her cheeks flushed from

Mulder’s sudden and unexpected kiss. As they went to the kitchen to get rid of the

wet napkins the third musician approached the table and began to play a soft

romantic tune Scully recognized but couldn’t name. She tried to gesture him away

but he persisted and she had no choice but to listen to the song.

Then she heard it.

Notes of the music matching her heartbeat, crescendo matching her own excitement

as she looked up to the musician’s eyes and was locked by the bright shimmering

shade of green she saw there. As the music stopped Scully stood up and walked

around the table to where the musician was standing.

“That was amazing.” She locked her eyes with his even as he moved the violin away

from his shoulder and held it low by his side.

“I was waiting for you.”

“Me?” Scully blushed at the attention he was lavishing on her.

“But we have to go now, c’mon.” the waiter held a hand and she took it without

hesitation, letting him lead her out of the restaurant.

Mulder stood under the dryer and tried to direct the hot air over his groin. Ignoring

the strange looks he was getting from the various patrons of the restaurant who

passed through, he held his pants up and away from his skin until he got them as

dry as he could. With a quick check in the mirror before leaving the bathroom he

returned to…. an empty table. He wondered if she’d also had taken some spillage on

her suit and figured she was in the ladies restroom, but after a few moments when

she didn’t return Mulder ventured over to the ladies. He knocked the door and

pushed it open a little calling out her name.

“Scully?” but he was met with silence. Trying again he called out but when he got no

reply again he stepped into the room only to find it empty. Back in the restaurant

main room he found the waiter who had served them and asked if he had seen her.

The waiter shrugged.

Mulder took out his cell and dialed her number, but the ringing he heard on the other

end was echoed by the phone ringing in the pocket of her coat that was hanging up

in an open closet behind the maitre’d’s desk. Mulder snatched her coat off the

hanger and pulled out her phone, his heart pummeling into overdrive now as he

scanned the room once again for her.

“Did anyone see the lady I was with?” he asked aloud, wanting someone to notice

her leaving, needing someone to have noticed. He pulled out his badge. “My name is

Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI; I need to know, did anyone see my

companion leaving with someone?”

“Er, I did,” an elderly man spoke up. He was sitting at the table next to them and

was eating a spaghetti dish that had splattered sauce all over the front of his shirt.

“She left about ten minutes ago, just after you raced into the bathroom.”

“Did she walk out alone? Or with someone?”

“It was with one of the waiters.” He pulled out his napkin that had been tucked

futilely into his collar. “The guy with the fiddle.”

The hairs on Mulder’s neck jumped to attention and a cold shiver encased his body at

the older man’s words. Mulder took out his cell and called the case team, ordering

them to get out to the restaurant ASAP. As he spoke on his phone he emerged out

onto the street and looked up and down as if hoping to catch them turning a corner,

even though he knew they’d been gone over 15 minutes at least. More than enough

time to catch a cab and be five or ten miles away by now. He added a roadblock

request and a B.O.L.O to his orders then hung up and returned to the restaurant.

The patrons were watching him with unabashed interest now and the headwaiter

came over to him.

“Is there a problem sir?”

“My partner left with a man who was working here. He was playing the violin with

your waiters. I need his name and address.” Mulder’s anger and fear bubbled just

beneath the surface of his control as the waiter shuffled from foot to foot.

“He plays for us sometimes. We pay him to play for busy nights and he comes and

goes as he pleases.”

“Do you have a name?”

“Of course sir, it’s Jordan Franco. We have a copy of his driver’s license. We need it

you know, for the tax man.”

“Can I see that copy please?” Mulder asked following the waiter into the kitchen and

through into the back office. The space was barely big enough for both of them and

Mulder stood back as the nervous maitre’d searched for the right document. At last

he pulled it out and handed it over.

Mulder looked down at it and saw it held the same information as the one that Agent

Reilly had handed him earlier that day, except for the photo. This man was plumper

than the blond guy on the other Franco’s license. His hair was a light brown shade

and his eyes were a vivid green. His height was still marked at six foot ten and the

weight hadn’t changed but the address on it was different.

“Thank you. I need to keep this.” Mulder left the startled maitre’d behind as he

hurried out to the street and to his car. On the way, he called Agent Reilly and asked

him to get three other agents and meet him at the address from the license. “Full

body armor and no sirens. He’s got Scully. Get there as soon as possible. Call for air

back up too. This is too important to fuck up.” He added, after hanging up and

speeding off. He hadn’t made it ten miles through the city when the phone rang

again. He seized it from his pocket, but instead of the blue LED screen flashing with

an incoming call it was dark and on standby. Instead he realized it was Scully’s

phone ringing. He had taken her stuff from the restaurant and thrown it onto the

passenger seat and now driving over 80 miles an hour through the night traffic in

DC, he reached over and fumbled in her coat pockets until he found the phone.

“Hello?”

“Agent Scully?”

“No it’s Agent Mulder. Who is this?” Mulder barked taking a look at the screen but

not recognizing the number.

“This is Dr Kraft at Quantico. I have some news for Agent Scully.”

“What is it?”

“Well one of the bodies we found wasn’t female. It was male and at the skeletal

stage of decomposition.”

“Male? And you haven’t made identification?”

“No. We are checking for bone anomalies, dental records that might help up but so

far we have found nothing but an unusual wearing in the mandible.”

“The chin bone,” Mulder muttered aloud, swerving the car around a stationary truck

that was blocking the lane and narrowly missing another vehicle. “Will you check the

dental records of Jordan Franco? Agent Reilly will send you the details.”

“Of course.”

***

Cabin

January 21st

11.08 PM

Laughing, Scully took his hand and allowed herself to be led into the rustic cabin.

Smoke billowed from the chimney so she anticipated a large fire in a stone hearth

welcoming them in, and she wasn’t disappointed. The flames were low as no one was

there to stoke the fire but they still warmed up the spacious living room.

“This is beautiful,” she said as she looked dreamily around the room and took it all

in. The overstuffed couch and the deep plush rug, all inviting and homely at the

same time alluring. She held his hand as they moved over to the rug then reached

up to kiss him. He allowed her strong grip to pull him lower and kissed her back. His

hands grasped her hips and pulled her closer as she circled his neck with her arms.

“I knew it could be like this,” he said as he pulled away from her lips and looked into

deeply her eyes, almost mesmerizing in their intensity. She was smiling in that way

that crinkled her eyes and made them shine. “I knew you’d be like this.”

“Did you?”

“Why don’t you ask me to play?”

“You’ll play for me when you are ready. I’d rather hear the music you are eager to

play; rather then something you are playing when I ask you.”

“Thank you.” He bent down and kissed her lips with tenderness then stroked her hair

through his fingers. “You have the most beautiful hair.” Scully blushed under his

scrutiny but she couldn’t tear her eyes away from his. “Take off your clothes.”

As if miles away, Scully reached up to her top and peeled it off over her head,

cursing herself for having put on so many layers that morning. She dropped the

sweater to the couch and started to undo the buttons of her blouse until it was

slipping from her shoulders with ease. As she reached to her side to unzip her skirt,

his hands stalled her and slowly trailed the metal zipper down until the silky material

of her half slip slid against her legs, pooling by her feet. She was wearing stockings

that reached up to mid thigh and he bent down on his knees to slowly unroll them off

her, his eyes holding hers like a vice.

She lifted each foot in turn for him to take the stockings off completely, resting her

hands on his shoulders as he stood before her again.

“Your turn,” she whispered with a smile as she reached up to undo his shirt. It was a

white shirt with a stiff front collar that he was wearing at the restaurant. Part of the

waiter’s uniform she figured, where he was playing the violin. Her stomach gave a

small rumble and she realized she was hungry, but it didn’t make sense if they had

just come from a restaurant. But then she remembered that she hadn’t had the

appetite for her lasagna — Mulder had taken her meal and had passed the plate with

the garlic chicken penne to her. Then he kissed her.

Her fingers stalled on the bottom buttons, she frowned. Something was wrong but

she wasn’t sure what. She gazed up to the man’s eyes and saw a question lingering

there then as she blinked and looked around. He took her face in his hands and

made her look at him again.

“Harken alle ye elemente. Aus meinen neigungen heraus wird ein netz gesponnen.

Von diesem vorabend weiter, ist mein wille erfolgt,” he whispered as his lips came

down to meet hers. “Harken alle ye elemente. Aus meinen neigungen heraus wird

ein netz gesponnen. Von diesem vorabend weiter, ist mein wille erfolgt.”

***

Point Lookout Rd

January 21st 2008

11.15PM

Mulder pulled up by the perimeter that had been cordoned off. He killed the engine

and had jumped out before the car had stopped fully, barely engaging the hand

brake. Two SWAT members sat in the back arranging the weapons that were

mounted and double checking them.

Agent Reilly saw Mulder frantic approach and raced over, tossing him a Kevlar vest

as he called his name.

“The male corpse belonged to Jordan Franco,” he confirmed as Mulder strapped the

vest on and ran with Reilly to the command vehicle which had been set up. There

was an open map of the area on the hood.

“So what’s going on here?”

“Thermal imaging gives us two bodies in the lower floor. Two exits, one front and

one at the rear but that back exit seems to be in a different room. There are no

lights on in the cabin but a fire’s been lit and what little power is being used is

coming from a generator that seems to be buried under the porch at the rear.”

“What about an ID?”

“This residence is registered to Damien Willis but that’s all we got. No photo and no

other information.”

“Well whoever he is,” Mulder said taking out his gun and checking the clip before

slapping it back into place, “he has Agent Scully.”

Reilly didn’t need to reply so he just checked his own gun and waited for Mulder to

signal the team ready.

The Agents assembled around Mulder and he shouted out orders and directions for

everyone to take. Within seconds the team scattered as they moved slowly toward

the cabin en mass.

Running along side Reilly, Mulder was crouched low and willing his footsteps to be

silent. They reached the side of a car and slid into place beside the wheels.

“How the hell did you get here so fast?” Mulder asked, wanting to check his gun

again but resisting the urge.

Reilly smiled. He pointed at the SWAT team van with his gun. “We hitched a lift. Got

here about three minutes before you and did a quick surveillance.”

“Thanks.” Mulder said, catching the younger Agents eye and pouring all his sincerity

into the simple word. Without another mention Mulder jumped up and scurried

towards the cabin. He felt Reilly on his heels and they both fell against the wall of

the cabin beneath a window, waiting for the dust to settle. Small flashes from other

Agents maglights told him that everyone was in position so Mulder rose up enough to

peer in the window. The blinds hung lower than the sill. He could see nothing but

distorted shadows moving around in the firelight.

With nothing to see and no time to waste, Mulder gestured for action and crawled to

the door way with Agent Reilly. Coming from the other direction, also hugging the

walls were two SWAT members, one of which had the portable door ram, something

SWAT members call the skeleton key to the city. The officer held the ram against the

door then swung it back with all his might, the door burst open. The other SWAT

member, followed by Mulder and Reilly piled in after him only to greeted by Scully

who was pointing a gun at them all.

“FREEZE!” SWAT guy called as he circled the room, strafing against the wall, gun

trained on Scully now who was shielding a man behind her. She stood with her back

to the fire wearing only her bra and panties, her legs apart as she strengthened her

stance, her arms held out rigidly with the gun firmly aimed at them.

“Take that gun off me!” she shouted, her gun wavering between the three men who

entered. “Take it off me or so help me…”

“You gonna shoot all of us sweetheart?” the SWAT guy laughed as he circled and

stood directly across from Reilly, who was moving in the opposite direction. Only

Mulder had remained still, his gun trained on his partner but without conviction.

“Scully,” his voice was low and trembling but he was spoken over by the man that

was standing behind her. He was too close to her, his hands on her slim waist, his

face close by her ear. He was speaking but Mulder couldn’t make out what he was

saying; only the rhythm of the words and the effect they had on her. “No Scully,

don’t listen to him. Listen to me.”

Scully’s gun swung back to point at Mulder’s head. Her aim was impeccable and he

knew she would hit whatever she was aiming for. Mulder decided to lower his gun.

He dropped it to the floor and kicked it away. It slid across the carpet and came to

rest next to a closet far from anyone’s easy reach.

“Listen to my voice. You don’t need to do this,” he said trying with all his effort to

keep his voice calm, when all the time inside he was shaking. He had come in here

dreading a shootout; afraid that a bullet might find her before he could get her out of

here. Now faced with her shooting back at him, that threw him for a loop, hurt him.

He took a step closer to her but she took a step back, deeper into that man’s arms

and Mulder seethed at the sight of them encircling her waist, to hold her against him.

“Harken alle ye elemente. Aus meinen neigungen heraus wird ein netz gesponnen.

Von diesem vorabend weiter, ist mein wille erfolgt.”

This time Mulder heard the hypnotic words but he didn’t understand them.

“Scully, look at me,” Mulder pleaded, realizing that the man’s words were changing

her. His words were controlling her beyond her will. As if they were imparting a new

will upon her that she was unable to overwrite with her own, break free. “Listen to

my voice and remember who I am.”

“Get those damn guns off me.” She yelled, looking crazed at Reilly and the SWAT

guys who were either side of her but keeping her gun on Mulder. Both men looked to

Mulder for verification and he nodded sharply, giving the signal for them to back off.

Slowly the two men withdrew, guns still trained until they were out the door. Mulder

knew they were outside, watching through thermal imaging, snipers and the rest of

the SWAT team crawling all over the land. All he cared about was the heartbreaking

fact that Scully was leaning back against another man as if she was draining strength

from him.

“They’re gone, it’s just us now,” he said quietly, his hands held up in supplication.

Scully moved away from the fire and out of the circle of Franco’s arms, she

approached Mulder and walked around him.

“You have this aura…powerful aura,” she said as she walked, the gun still pointed at

him but Mulder’s eyes watched the other man.

“Damien Willis,” he said, enjoying the mild look of surprise that crossed the

stranger’s face.

“So you finally figured it out?” Damien barked as he approached with open arms

which Scully gladly fell into, kissing Damien on the lips with pleasure. Mulder cringed

and felt a wave of rage well up inside him. Suddenly something snapped. He wasn’t

sure if it was the sight of her in another man’s arms or the look of enjoyment on her

face when she kissed him, but Mulder couldn’t take it anymore. He lunged at them

both and the three of them fell into a pile on the hearth just missing the fire. Scully

yelled out as her hand got caught beneath them all, squashing the gun from her

hand, her wrist twisting with an ungodly snap. Mulder grabbed Damien by the collar,

hefting him over using his shoulder for leverage until he had him on the floor

beneath him. Rather than the grimace Mulder was expecting Damien was laughing.

“You thinking this will work?” he mocked as Mulder punched him. “She will fight for

me!”

Before Mulder could punch him again he felt an excruciating crack on the back of his

head. Through pain bright flashes in his vision he turned to see Scully wielding the

butt of the gun after cold cocking him with it. He wondered briefly why she hadn’t

shot him then decided that maybe a part of her was still aware and he was getting

through to her. With his skull against her gun maybe but at least he wasn’t dead.

Dizzy and feeling sick, Mulder turned his attention back to Damien and punched him

again making him spit blood and coughing on it as it trickled down his throat.

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“Reilly,” Mulder shouted as he held Damien down by the shoulders and waited for

Reilly to reenter the cabin but before he could he felt the barrel of Scully’s gun

against his head. She wrapped her other arm around her partner’s neck pulling him

off the violinist, choking the breath out of him as she dragged him back, her strength

surprising even him.

Damien rolled over onto his side, coughing up more blood before he got up on all

fours only to be greeted by Reilly, who slammed the butt of his rifle into his temple

making him drop to the floor.

“Put the gun down agent Scully!” Reilly ordered, now pointing the rifle at her.

“What did you do!” she screamed, pushing the gun harder against Mulder’s temple.

“What did you do to him?”

“Scully,” Mulder wheezed trying to grip her arm enough to move it off his larynx but

she was holding him too tightly. “Scully wait, listen to me.”

“Shut up! Everyone shut the hell up for a minute!” the look in her eyes was wild and

scared and Mulder feared for her next actions. Due to his lack of oxygen it was

making it hard for him to think. His eyes watered and his could feel himself blacking

out. Then he noticed Damien crawling along the floor towards the closet where

Mulder had dropped his gun. He tried to call out to Reilly but his voice was lost

against the pressure of her arm and he was too late.

Damien grasped the gun and rolling onto his back, fired off two rounds into Reilly,

hitting his knee and shoulder, dropping the agent to the ground in agony. Then he

turned the gun on Mulder and smiled.

“Harken alle ye elemente. Aus meinen neigungen heraus wird ein netz gesponnen.

Von diesem vorabend weiter, ist mein wille erfolgt,”

he said laughing catching Scully’s eye but instead of compliance he saw there only

confusion.

“Sie haben keine energie über mir,” Scully muttered and with the same swift motion

she dropped her arm from around Mulder’s throat and pointed her gun at Damien.

“You have no power over me.”

She shot him in the chest twice; two quick shots making him fall back motionless.

Then walking up to him she shot him again in the neck, the bullet cutting his jugular

and killing him instantly.

“Scully,” Mulder rasped one hand on his raw throat and the other reaching out to her

but she made no move to approach him.

The SWAT members came in at the shots and were pointing his gun at Scully but

Mulder called out for him not to shoot. He struggled to his feet and carefully

advanced towards her. He was afraid to touch her lest she turn and shoot so he

circled to her front and held his hand out to her.

“Scully,” he said gently waiting for her to look up to him. Her eyes were fixed on

Damien her gun still pointing at him. “Scully, give me the gun.”

As if waking from a dream she fluttered her eyes and they seemed to dull a little

with the realization of what she had just been through. Her grip on the gun loosened

and she let it fall to the floor, only then the SWAT guys lowered their guns and

started to assess the scene.

“Scully, look at me,” he said his voice low and shaky.

“Mulder?” she looked around the room, as if she was blind and seeing nothing but

Mulder knew better than that. He knew she wasn’t seeing the room as it was now

but as it had been when she was in Damien’s arms, kissing his lips. And he needed

to take her away from that. He saw her top on the couch and hurried over to get it.

He draped it over her shoulders and led her out to an awaiting ambulance.

The EMT officer checked her over and tried to tell her that she’d need a full cast on

her arm, Xrays and a visit to the ER but after he put on the temporary splint she

shuffled away, the blanket from the gurney draped tightly around her shoulders.

“Hey,” he said following her unsure of where she was going. “How are you feeling?”

he asked the words sounding trite and forced when all he wanted to do was bundle

her up and take her away from this scene.

“I feel messed up.” She looked up to him but found it hard to connect with his eyes.

Knowing she had kissed Damien, hugged him and protected him, while threatening

the man she loved was shaking her very core. “How are you?” she asked focusing

her attention on the bruising that was starting to appear on his neck from her

choking him.

“I’m fine…. Headache.” Taking her hands, he lifted them up to his face where he

planted soft kisses in each of her palms but she still couldn’t look at him. A soft

cough behind him tore his attention away from her and he turned to see AD Skinner

waiting for him a few feet away. He’d couldn’t remember when their superior had

arrived on the scene.

Mulder took his car keys out of his pocket and ordered her to go there and wait for

him while he spoke to Skinner. He watched her walk away, the blanket trailing

behind her, her steps slow and unsteady but he had to finish this scene so he could

take her home. It took longer than he had hoped to finish cleaning up the scene and

finally, Skinner ordered him to take his partner home. He hurried over to his car

where he found her asleep.

A wave of dizziness hit him and as luck would have it, right as Skinner looked his

way. Before he knew it, a wet behind the ears young Agent was taking the keys

from his hand and helping him into the back seat with his partner. The young man

ran to the driver’s site, got in and started the engine.

They were ten minutes from their place when Scully suddenly awoke and she

struggled to remember where she was, panicking for a minute until she felt his hand

on hers and caught his eyes. Relaxing back into the seat she covered her face with

her hands and sighed.

“What happened Mulder?” she asked through her hands still refusing to hold his

gaze.

“I don’t know.”

“No Mulder you have to know. You have to have a theory — an idea, a spooky notion

that will explain why I did what I did.”

Mulder couldn’t form the words he had inside to explain why she was kissing another

man. The mere thought of it boiled his blood so he couldn’t reply. His silence was

enough to engulf her guilt and she leaned forward to bury her face in her hands.

Mulder’s head was pounding and he concentrated on their young driver, mentally

wishing he would speed up a little and just get them home.

When they pulled up outside the duplex he crawled out first and reached back to

help her out of the car. Once in the house he took her in his arms and held her. She

didn’t push him away but neither did she reciprocate his embrace.

“You want to know why Scully?” he said still holding her his words tickling her hair.

“Why you kissed him?” she didn’t reply but he had to continue. Had to finish this

tonight before it festered into something ugly. His mind ticked over and he realized

he wasn’t making a theory to fit this crime, he wasn’t developing it to help him

understand, but to help her. She needed a reason that was out of her control. “I

think he was using a form of hypnotism. Implanting thoughts into your head and

making you do things for him that you wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.”

“But I don’t put any weight into hypnotism.” It was a feeble argument and he could

tell she knew by the lack of conviction in her voice, as if she were saying lines from a

play.

“That doesn’t matter.” He held her away from him. “The fact is he played a song like

some kind of pied piper and you followed him.”

“I followed him out of the restaurant.” Her face was a picture of surprised

recollection as he remembered what had happened and how it had all began.

“And I followed you.”

She looked up to him and held his eyes. Nothing but love shone behind them and her

resolve crumpled.

“I’m so sorry Mulder,” she said behind a sob as she gripped him closer to her.

“You don’t need to apologize.” He kissed the top of her head then led her over to the

couch where he sat down and cuddled her close to his chest.

“Dr Kraft has identified thirty-four of the bodies,” he said after a moment. “All the

families are being notified tonight.”

“What about the rest?”

“Still searching. Skinner said they found a laptop in the cabin. Forensics will see if

they can get anything off it.”

He rubbed her arms and kissed the top of her head and soon he felt her relax against

him, her breathing even and slow signaling her sleep. He thought of moving her to

the bedroom but he was content to just hold her against him for a little while longer.

Moments later the phone rang and Mulder reached over his head to the coffee table

to grab it before it woke her.

“Mulder,” he said as quietly as he could as he extracted himself from her to walk

away.

“Agent Mulder.”

“Sir, are you still at the scene?” Mulder asked checking his watch and seeing it was

just after three in the morning.

“No. I’m back at the lab with the tech guys but I have something you need to know.

Can you access your email? I want to send you something.”

“What is it?” Mulder was in the kitchen now, filling the kettle and plugging it in as he

spoke, checking over his shoulder to make sure Scully was still asleep. He spotted

his laptop on the under shelf of the coffee table so he grabbed it and booted it up on

the kitchen counter.

“Damien Willis.”

“What about him?” Mulder’s heart stopped and his mind brought forth the picture of

him lying on the cabin floor, blood pouring from the bullet wound in his neck and his

eyes open and glassy with death.

“It wasn’t him.”

“What?”

“The body at the cabin was identified as Harold Freedman through dental records. He

was incarcerated in 2005 for eight months for a petty crime and therefore couldn’t

have murdered some of the women we found at the house in Bethesda.”

The words swam over Mulder’s brain swimming around making him nauseous at the

thought. There was more than one? He wasn’t working alone? His partner was still

out there somewhere? This was too much. It had to be Willis. He had hoped that

Kraft would ring with the information that Willis’s skeleton had been found among

the bodies but it had been nearly 20 hours since they had begun that process and

surely they would have figured that out by now. Instead Mulder was left feeling

hollow that this case wasn’t one that would sink back into the woodwork after the

arrest was made. This was one that would forever haunt him.

“There is something else though,” Skinner continued. “I just sent you a jpeg I found

on the laptop we confiscated from the cabin.”

Mulder opened his email and watched as the progress bar moved agonizingly slowly

across the centre of the screen as his email client received the picture. Eventually it

popped open and Mulder looked at the picture of a trio of musicians. In the center of

them was Damien or rather Harold Freedman as he had been correctly identified. All

three of them were wearing tuxedos and each of them held violins by their sides, the

bows held aloft and all of them were smiling.

“Harold Freedman, Damien Willis and Jordan Franco.”

“They all knew each other?”

“They were a traveling three piece ensemble. Moved around DC and New York

performing at functions and private shows.”

“So where is Damien Willis now?” he asked knowing that Skinner wouldn’t have the

answer to that question but needing to ask it.

“He went off the map in 2005.”

“Do you think he’s dead?”

His question was met with silence and he knew the answer himself so he didn’t need

his boss to confirm it. If Damien Willis was dead and killed by Freedman then his

body would have been found among the others in Bethesda.

He hung up without realizing it and walked over to Scully. Waking her enough to

walk her up the stairs to the bedroom he undressed her and slipped her beneath the

covers then joined her and held her close. His arms wrapped around her and he kept

his grip tight around her waist but his eyes refused to close and his mind refused to

slow down.

This was a case that was going to take more than its fair share from his life but he

wouldn’t allow it to destroy that which he loved most. If he had any power left within

him he would fight to the death for her.

June 9, 2008

Three Globes Pawn Shop

Rockville, MD

“You’re crazy, you know,” the young man said to his friend as they looked over the

wares in display cases.

“No, man. It’s true. My dad found a really cool watch in one of these places.”

“Sure,” his friend said, rolling his eyes. “I’m sure it was a Rolex.”

“Hey, there! Look, that’s what I’m talking about!” He pointed up to something

hanging on the wall. “Hey, can we take a look at that?”

The elderly proprietor nodded enthusiastically. With the help of a short step ladder,

he brought down the item, handing it gingerly to the young man. “It just came in

this week. A real beauty. It has a case. Do you play?”

The young man ran his hand over the polished wood of the violin. “Not yet. But I

want to learn.” He lightly plucked one of the strings. Closing his eyes, he imagined

he heard the notes of a song and someone speaking a language he didn’t recognize.

He opened his eyes to find his friend staring at him, the proprietor waiting patiently.

“I’ll take it.”

The End.

Skinfull 2008.

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