Category Archives: Uncategorized


Cook County Hospital

Chicago, Illinois

December 31, 2010

5:45 pm


Scully was staring at the slightly bedraggled ‘Happy New Year’ garland strung over the Emergency Department’s intake desk, awaiting their turn in line. It was New Year’s Eve and as with many previous holidays, they were seeking medical attention for her partner.

Mulder, for his part, winced as he noticed the blood dripping on the highly polished floor of the Emergency Department’s check in area. “Uh, Scully. I think I need another tissue,” he whispered. When she looked at him with one raised eyebrow, he nodded to the floor and the interesting Jackson Pollack his red blood cells were creating.

“Oh, for crying out loud, Mulder, I told you to keep pressure on it,” Scully chided as she dug through her purse and found a slightly used Kleenex to wipe up the blood drips. “Raise you hand. The blood will drip down your sleeve.”

“And maybe someone will pay attention,” he added, dutifully raising his right hand with his left hand holding his forearm in a death grip so that he appeared to be answering some pertinent question in fifth grade — or requesting the hall pass to go to the restroom. “What’s another good shirt, anyway,” he sighed.

“It’s destroyed already, Mulder. The suit jacket, too,” Scully replied, even though she was sure he had been muttering to himself.

“No, not the jacket,” he objected. “Mrs. Wang can re-weave it. She did wonders on my navy blue jacket a couple of months ago.”

“That was a snag, not a bullet hole,” Scully reminded him as they managed to step one person closer to the window. “Geez, this is worse than the Craddock Marine on 8th Street at lunch hour,” she complained. When he simply shrugged she glared at him. “If you’d just allowed me to call for an ambulance, we’d be in the treatment room already.”

“It’s a scratch, Scully. It doesn’t even qualify as a flesh wound! I still don’t know why you wouldn’t just run past a Walgreens, get some gauze and tape and patch it yourself.”

“Because the Bureau doesn’t see fit to cover me for malpractice when you allow the wound to get infected,” she said sweetly but her eyes were pure malice.

“I would never sue you, Scully. I’ve seen you on the witness stand,” Mulder responded dryly. Amazingly, they moved up two more spots and were next in line.

Just as the nice intake nurse finished with the hacking cough in front of them, a matronly woman in a teal sweater and ‘mom’ jeans pushed her way past Scully to the window. “My husband — he was just taken in by ambulance. How do I get back there?” she demanded.

Scully raised her other eyebrow at Mulder who sighed again without further comment.

“Ma’am, if you’d give me your husband’s last name,” the nurse asked patiently.

“North. James North. I followed them, he’s having severe chest pains. I have to get back there, he’s probably having a heart attack right now,” the woman insisted frantically.

“Just a moment, let me check,” the nurse said evenly and left through a door in the back of her cubicle.

Mulder looked over at Scully who was studying the floor, probably looking for any telltale marks from his blood.

About three minutes had elapsed when the same intake nurse stuck her head through the double doors next to the registration cubicle. “Mrs. North — you can come this way.” The woman spun on her heels and in her haste, bumped into Mulder’s upraised arm. He let out a gasp but Mrs. North didn’t notice as she scurried through the doors.

“Mulder, are you all right?” Scully asked as she steadied him, being careful not to jostle his arm. It was a rhetorical question, her partner was white as a sheet and looked like he might hit the floor any minute.

“I’m fine,” he spat out through gritted teeth. “Can’t we just go? This place is a zoo.”

“No, you’re not ‘fine’. It’s still bleeding. You need stitches and I don’t like my patients moving around on me when I’m sewing them up,” Scully said with a sad shake of her head. Her words were flippant, but her expression was one of growing concern. “By now I think you might be a tad low on fluids.”

“Tell them to top me off with 10W40 — I’m high mileage,” he quipped but immediately bit down hard on his bottom lip.

Finally, the intake nurse was back at the window and miraculously, they were actually at the front of the line.

“Name and nature of your problem?” she asked tiredly.

“Special Agent Fox Mulder, and he has a gunshot wound to his –” Scully didn’t even have a chance to finish her sentence before the nurse’s eyes grew to the size of saucers and she was picking up the phone to alert the head nurse and simultaneously yelling over her shoulder for a gurney.

“Why didn’t you tell someone earlier?” she chided. “How long have you been waiting?”

“It’s just a scratch,” Mulder continued to insist, but the ashen color of his cheeks was making a different statement.

“Really, I think a wheelchair would suffice,” Scully said patiently. “He doesn’t need a gurney.”

The nurse had disappeared, only to reappear through the double doors pushing a wheelchair. “Good, because it appears we are fresh out of gurneys. If you don’t mind Officer Mulder,” she nodded, indicating he should be seated.

“Agent, not . . . never mind.” Mulder quietly accepted his fate and sat down in the chair. Once off his feet, he did feel a little better — but he wasn’t going to let Scully in on that little secret.

The nurse pushed the wheelchair and Scully trailed behind him through the double doors. On the other side, it was complete and utter chaos. From what Mulder could see every examination room was filled and there were people clogging the hall. The nurse looked around and started to push the chair over toward a room only to be beaten there by a crowd surrounding a gurney, doing life saving procedures on the fly on a hefty man in shorts and ratty tennis shoes.

“OK, um, this looks like . . . ” the nurse stood still for a moment, considering her options. “Yeah. Well, sorry about this Officer Mulder, but I think this is the best we can do for the moment.” She shoved the wheelchair over into an alcove in the hallway and set the brakes. “Sorry, Mrs. Mulder, but you’ll have to stand until I can find you a chair.”

“I’m not his — ” Scully gave up trying to explain their marital status because the nurse had already run off, presumably in search of the elusive visitors chair for the hallway.

Mulder reached over and tapped on her hand, bringing her attention down to his level. “Um, Scully. It’s really starting to hurt,” he admitted in a near whisper.

“Oh, Mulder,” she sighed. Looking around, she spied a counter with labeled drawers. Checking the labels quickly, she found a pair of scissors and some gauze and tape. She gave him a stern look. “Mrs. Wang can’t work miracles, Mulder. The jacket is toast.”

He sighed dejectedly. “Oh, all right,” he agreed with a huff and held out his arm. Deftly, she made short work of the sleeve of the jacket and then the sleeve of the white dress shirt.

Using the gauze to wipe away most of the blood, she bit her lip without realizing she was doing a perfect imitation of her partner. “Mulder, this is deeper than a scratch. It needs stitches, at least 7 or 8 from what I can see. See, it went diagonally — ” It was only her lightning fast reflexes that caught her partner before he slid to the floor, passed out cold.

“Oh my God, did he just pass out?” asked a new nurse. She stooped down and helped Scully get the unconscious agent back into the chair. “He really needs to be on a gurney,” the young woman said.

“Yes. If there was one to spare, I would definitely concur,” Scully said, blowing a wisp of hair out of her eyes.

“Hang on a sec. Don’t go anywhere,” the young nurse instructed.

“We won’t, I promise,” Scully replied, but the sarcasm was lost as the woman hurried off. Surprisingly, she was back in just a few minutes pushing a gurney, followed by an orderly big enough to be a nose tackle for the Washington Redskins.

“Jim here is going to give us a hand getting your husband on the gurney.” This time Scully didn’t even try to correct the misconception. In record time, Mulder was hoisted on the gurney and the nurse proceeded to take his vitals. “His pressure is pretty low. When did this happen?” she asked as she made notes on Mulder’s chart.

“About two hours ago,” Scully answered after checking her watch.

“Gunshot wound?” the woman asked, reading the chart.

“We’re FBI agents. We were a part of a team apprehending a suspect and things — got a little out of hand. I didn’t think it was that serious until I got a good look at it just now. Unfortunately, Mulder looked at it, too. He’s usually OK around blood, unless it’s his own.”

“He’s an officer? You should have said something,” the young woman chided.

Scully sighed. “We did, a few times now. Look, I understand how busy you are, but he really only needs stitches and some fluids. I’m a medical doctor.” She dug in her purse to find the small laminated card that identified her as a member of the medical community of the District of Columbia, in good standing. “If you would just get me a suture kit and some IV fluids — ”

The other woman regarded Scully’s offered card and frowned. “I’m pretty sure you have to have privileges at this hospital in order to treat anyone. Let me go ask.”

And before Scully could utter another word, the young nurse was gone into the chaos surrounding them.

By this time, Mulder was starting to come around. “What happened?” he rasped.

“You saw your wound and fainted,” she snapped. He bit his lip and she was immediately contrite. “I’m sorry, Mulder. This place is a zoo. But you do need stitches. And I think you could use some fluids — your blood pressure is pretty low.”

“Scully, if we were in some post apocalyptic world with no rules, what would you do in this situation?”

She raised her eyebrow and glared at him. “Mulder, I’m not going to ‘jack’ a suture kit and a unit of ringers solution. Just get that thought out of your mind right now.”

“Well, then we wait,” he replied. He moved his shoulder to try and find a more comfortable position and yelped when his arm caught on the side rail. When Scully looked down, he was bleeding again.

“Oh, for the love of — ” She shook her head while grabbing a corner of the sheet covering the gurney. “Mulder, apply pressure to this.” She turned and started off.

“Uh, Scully, where are you going?” he asked fearfully.

“To jack a suture kit and some IV fluid,” she told him with conviction born of exasperation.

She hoped she would find the necessary supplies in the same cabinet she had found the scissors and gauze, but that fate was not smiling on her. She wandered down the hall, looking in exam room after exam room, hoping to find one that didn’t either wasn’t in use, or perhaps the patient was in Xray. Finally, she was able to find such a room, only to discover the same woman from the lobby sitting in a chair, staring at the empty spot where a gurney had previously been.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t think this room — ”

The woman was shaking her head slowly. “I told him not to try and play basketball with the kids in the driveway. But he said ‘it’s Christmas and it’s nice out, how often does that happen?’ Then, before I know it, Jimmy comes running in yelling the Grandpa’s chest is hurting. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it,” she said, dabbing her eyes with a very wadded piece of tissue.

“Um, I hate to disturb you, uh, Mrs. North, but I’m looking for some supplies — ” Scully explained quietly as she went to the cabinets on the back wall of the exam room and started her search.

“He still thinks he’s a kid! I tell him, all the time, David — you’re 62 years old! You aren’t a spring chicken! Does he listen? Of course not. Might as well talk to the wind . . . ”

“I’m sure the staff is doing everything in their power, Mrs. North. Your husband is in good hands,” Scully said just as she opened a bottom cabinet and found her prize. “Oh, thank God,” she muttered, grabbing the kit. Now, if she could just find the where they hid the Ringers —

“Can I help you?” came a stern voice from behind her.

Scully straightened slowly, tucking the kit inside her suit jacket. “Um, yes. Mrs. North needs some tissue. I was just looking for a — ”

The nurse, wearing a steely expression, held up a box of tissue, sitting out in plain sight. “You mean these?”

“Uh, I thought maybe you had some of the ones with lotion,” Scully covered quickly. “Well, good luck Mrs. North. I hope you have some good news soon,” she said in a rush and headed back out into the chaos of the main area.

It was easy to get turned around in the large emergency department, but Scully was certain she knew the way back to the alcove where Mulder was waiting on a gurney. Until she arrived and found a portable X-ray machine where his gurney should have been. Shaking her head at her own foolishness, she retraced her steps and started off in the other direction. In the subsequent alcoves she discovered, she found assorted wheelchairs, a woman on a gurney who was sound asleep and a cardiac crash cart, but no Mulder.

Swallowing down her fear, she approached one of the harried nurses. “Excuse me, but can you tell me where I can find Fox Mulder. He was brought in with a gunshot wound — ”

“Oh, I remember! Officer Mulder, yes, just a minute,” she said, turning to step away but this time Scully tailed her until the young woman stopped at a computer terminal. “OR 7,” she said with a tired smile.

Scully sputtered and shook her head. “I don’t understand. He’s in surgery?”

“Looks like,” the nurse said with a smile. “Are you another officer?”

It was a bald-faced lie, and Scully always had trouble with those, but it was a time for drastic action. Remembering how quickly they fell all over themselves when Mrs. North had appeared at the ER intake desk, Scully squared her shoulders and stared straight into the eyes of the young woman. “No. I’m his wife,” she said, hoping her voice didn’t crack.

“Oh my goodness. Well, let’s get you up to the surgical waiting room right now!” The nurse looked around her and waved to a passing orderly. “James, would you please show Mrs. Mulder up to the surgical waiting rooms. Tell the desk nurse her husband is in OR7 and the surgeon should speak with her as soon as possible.”

“Sure thing, Nancy. Mrs. Mulder was it? If you’ll just follow me.”

Surgical Waiting Room

8:45 pm

Scully had thumbed through all 17 back issues of Sports Illustrated and had just started in on Architectural Digest when the nurse at the desk called her name, or at least her name according to Cook County Hospital. “Mrs. Mulder?” the nurse called above the hubbub of voices of other distraught family members.

Scully elbowed her way to the desk and gave the nurse a strained smile. “Is my . . . husband out of surgery?” she asked.

“The surgeon would like a word with you. Just go through this door and to your left, fifth door on the right,” the nurse said primly.

Scully followed the directions, finding what she hoped was the right office and let herself in. It was a sterile room with two chairs, a computer monitor on a desk and the standard box of tissues. She sat in the chair closest to the door and waited.

“I’m Dr. Ahad, I performed surgery on your husband,” said the tall young man with olive complexion and big brown eyes. He didn’t really look at Scully, only at the folder in his hands. “It was a tricky surgery, but I think we caught it in time. If you’ll take a look at the images I was able to pull from the scope — ”

“Scope?” Scully repeated, somewhat confused. “You had to use a scope?”

Dr. Ahad glanced over at her and nodded patiently. “Wouldn’t perform surgery without it.” He pulled a keyboard from under the desk and typed hurriedly, bringing up an image on the monitor. Grabbing a pen from his lab coat pocket, he pointed at the image. “As you can see, this protrusion — that’s was the source of the problems — ”

“What?!” Scully interrupted while staring in shock at the screen. “What I see there is an aortic dissection! That was not what Mulder had at all. It was a flesh wound! A little deep, but tissue, not even an artery. What the hell have you done?”

“Flesh wound? Madam, your husband presented at the ER with severe back pains and shortness of breath. His blood pressure was quite high, and three of the four tests we performed this morning — ”

“Hold it right there,” Scully said with a relieved sigh. “We weren’t HERE this morning. We were at the police station. My — husband — was shot during the apprehension of a suspect. He did not have back pain nor shortness of breath — at least not the last time I saw him, which,” she glanced at her watch, “was two and a half hours ago.”

“Then you aren’t Mrs. Miller?” Dr. Ahad asked, chewing on the edge of his lip.

“No. I’m . . . Dr. Dana Scully — MD. My, uh, husband is Fox Mulder — Special Agent Fox Mulder who ‘presented’ at the ER this afternoon with a gunshot wound to the upper arm. He needed stitches and fluids.”

“Then what are you doing here?” Ahad asked bluntly.

“I have absolutely no idea,” Scully replied.

Dr. Ahad looked nonplussed for a moment. “Wait right here, um, Dr. Scully was it? I’ll be right back.”

“Sure, fine, whatever,” Scully sneered as she leaned back against the wall. She let her head thump a few times just because it helped relieve the gnawing pain at the base of her skull that wrapped around her forehead, crushing all rational thought processes.

Much to her surprise, a mere ten minutes later, Dr. Ahad had returned. “I found him. If you follow me, I’ll show you were he is.”

Surgical floor, 9 West

9:35 pm

Scully pushed the door open and took in the sight before her. Mulder was lying on the bed, head elevated, arm in a sling, flipping through the meager channel selection on the overhead television.

“Oh, hey, Scully. You get lost somewhere?” he asked brightly when he saw her in the doorway.

“Mulder, how in the world did you get yourself admitted?” she asked, crossing her arms.

“Don’t ask me. They haven’t told me anything since somebody wheeled me in an OR and stitched me up. I must have fallen asleep because next thing I know, I’m here, there’s a dinner tray at my bedside and I have this,” he held up his good arm to show her the IV tubing. “I’d leave, but I think they took my clothes hostage.”

She shook her head and walked to the end of the bed, picking up the chart resting in the basket. She read through the pages and nodded. “You’re here for observation because you passed out at the sight of your wound,” she told him, dropping the chart back in the basket. Spying the visitors’ chair, she dragged it over closer to the bed and sat down tiredly. Feeling something digging into her side, she pulled out the suture kit and tossed on the bed near Mulder’s feet.

“Scully! You sly dog. You _did_ jack a suture kit! It must be love,” he grinned at her.

“Lot of good it did me. When I got back there, you were gone,” she said, stifling a yawn only to have another overcome her almost immediately.

“You look beat,” he said affectionately.

“I am. And I’m starved.”

He smiled at her and pushed the nurse call button. In a moment, the intercom in the ceiling came to life. “Yes, Agent Mulder? What can we do for you?”

“Patty? Did you tell me you keep sandwiches in the fridge at the desk?”

“Sure do. What can we get you?” came the answer.

“Got a turkey on whole wheat, with a packet of that Dijon mustard?”

“Let me look,” which was followed shortly by “no turkey, but I have a ham on rye.”

Mulder shot Scully a look, which she promptly returned with a tired nod. “That’ll work. Could you bring that in with a can of diet soda — something non-caffeinated, if you have it.”

“One ham on rye and a diet lemon-lime Shasta, coming up.”

“Mulder, those sandwiches are for the patients,” Scully objected, but her stomach was growling so loud she felt like she had to shout to be heard.

“Come up here,” Mulder ordered, after scooting over to make room on the bed.

“No, Mulder. The nurse will be in — ”

“Scully, she won’t mind. C’mon. You’re going to fall asleep in that chair, fall over, crack your head open on the hard floor and then you’ll be the one in the bed. Now get the cute little ass up here.”

She had just settled in when there was a tap on the door and the nurse came in with the promised sandwich and 8 ounce can of soda, balanced with a cup of ice. “As ordered,” she said, smiling. “Oh, hello. You must be Mrs. Mulder.”

Mulder started to correct her, but Scully jabbed her elbow into his rib. “That’s me. Thanks for taking care of my big lug here,” she smiled back.

“Oh, he’s been pretty good so far. Hey, since this is a private room, let me see if I can’t find one of the nice chairs — the ones that fold out into a bed. I think you’d both be more comfortable.”

“That would be great, Patty. Thanks,” Mulder said glancing suspiciously at his partner. The nurse smiled and left, closing the door partway behind her.

“What was that all about?” he demanded.

“What?” she asked around bites of the sandwich. “The Mrs. Mulder thing?”

“Yeah. You usually bite their heads off when they mistake you for my wife.”

Scully finished off the sandwich and chugged most of the soda before daintily wiping her mouth on the accompanying napkin. “Sometimes, you just have to play the system, Mulder,” she told him with a grin that soon turned into a long and wide yawn.

“I don’t think we’re going to be ringing in 2011 tonight, Scully,” he told her, brushing a lock of her hair behind her ear.

“That’s OK. We’ll catch it next year,” she said, snuggling into his side.

“2012,” he said quietly but when he looked down at his partner, he found her sound asleep. “Happy New Year, Scully. Love you.”

the end


Twilight of the Howling Dead

Twilight of the Howling Dead

By Martin Ross


Darryl glared across the dark, packed club, sipping his Shirley Temple. Though it was New Year’s Eve, he preferred to stay sharp. Actually, recent experience had driven home the wisdom of staying sharp.

Not that he couldn’t have used a drink – the percussive persistence of the DJ’s amped-up techno mix was giving him a world-class migraine. Darryl was hungry, too: He’d grabbed a Sabrett dog over near Rockefeller Center a few hours ago, but it did little to slake his real appetite.

And now, this. Of all the bars in all the world, he had to come into this one, he groaned, glaring anew at the athletically built man scanning the dance floor. While Darryl fancied himself a classic romanticist, he had no idea he was plagiarizing Casablanca. He was into contemporary romance – the kind where guys like him finally had a shot.

“You look familiar,” a blonde in a microscopic black dress and gold lame’ fishnet hose called, sidling up to Darryl.

“What?” Darryl shouted.

“I said, you look real familiar.” Heavy Queens accent; not quite Darryl’s speed. “You somebody?”

“Hope so,” he smiled.


“I hope I’m somebody,” Darryl repeated with a hint of exasperation.

The blonde frowned momentarily. “No. I mean, are you like a celeb or something? I mean, I just barely got past the door – think it was because I got great tits.”


The romance of the moment was waning rapidly.

“I got it,” the blonde yelled. “You’re that dude, the one in the movie.”

Darryl sighed.

“Yeah. Blood Dusk. Edgar.”

Darryl growled as the DJ started scratching some Gaga. The blonde moved closer, and the tequila fumes made him reel back a step.

“’Cept he’s more buff than you, an’ your nose is like, bigger. An’ of course, he’s dating that bitch with the show on E. He wouldn’t be hangin’ in some Times Square shithole tonight.”

He contemplated homicide, but then he’d probably be stuck with her forever.

“And, and,” the blonde suddenly giggled. “An’, a’course, you ain’t no vampire.”

Darryl smiled with a glint that, had his new friend been sober, would have chilled her blood. “That skinny puss was no vampire. That movie sucked – he looked like a freaking drag queen with all that eyeliner, and the way he kept whispering shit, I couldn’t even catch half what he was saying. Vampire, my ass.”

“Cause you know,” the blonde jeered.

Darryl drew up, and his lips peeled back. “Yeah, babe. Actually, I do know.”

The bimbo blinked as she stared into his mouth. “The fangs. They oughtta be sharper.”

“They’re not fangs,” Darryl snapped, stalking off to the bar for a refill of sugar water.


Jason grinned wolfishly as he watched that geek Darryl try to rattle or seduce the drunk blonde — he wasn’t sure which it was. The music in this rathole sucked, but the comedy was worth the inflated New Year’s Eve minimum.

Surprising the pale little sucker had gotten past the rope. Jason’s date hadn’t, and he’d wished her a happy New Year as she sputtered at the hulk on the door.

Still, it pissed him slightly that Darryl had shown his pallid face here. This was his haunt — no, he thought gleefully, his LAIR. Yeah, his DEN. Jason scanned the jerking undulating bodies, waving glowsticks and rubbing groins — meat on the bone, prey prancing in the…

Shit. Jason had never been out of the city, nor did he watch anything but CNBC, E!, or VH1, so he had no idea where prey hung out. But they were his, for the taking, if he chose. Fortunately for these sheep, it was a half-moon hanging over Times Square tonight — he’d Googled it up last night, and had been prepared to order a pie from Ray’s (one of about 45 Ray’s in the borough) and watch the Spice Channel until the urge passed (well, one particularly urge, anyway).

Jason and Darryl had been buds ever since joining the firm, but their bromance had festered soon after their encounter with the Triplets. It was the eternal battle, one that had waged on for centuries, maybe millennia. Jason had done his research, mainly at the Loew’s Midtown Cineplex, and he knew how it all would end. For now, of course, the battle consisted largely of snarky comments in staff meetings and petty office pranks. Both their work had fallen off, of course — Jason had muffed a key order last week while contemplating how to stuff elephant garlic into Darryl’s day planner, and Darryl’s call volume had dropped precipitously as he plotted revenge and watched his own narrow back.

Meanwhile, Vincent had merely sunken into work-obsessed depression, though in his current state, it was difficult to determine how much of his lifeless demeanor was due to emotional funk. He’d kept himself up well — a ton of product gave Vincent’s lusterless brown hair the appearance of life, and Jason suspected he’d invested most of his disposable cash over the last five months in Clinique. And, of course, losing the desire — indeed, the need — to feed kept Vincent at the phones. The Change had actually helped Vincent’s sales volume, and the talk was he was in for a promotion, as if that mattered any more to the poor schlub. Jason thought more and more in the upper case these days: It helped him put The Change and his Condition into perspective, his Fate into The Greater Scheme of Things.

Jason’d spotted Vince at the bar earlier, sipping morosely at what appeared to be a mojito. Once again, keeping up appearances — booze had absolutely no effect on someone in Vincent’s condition, or so Vince said. A night of New Year’s revelry, even less so. Well, guess the pathetic asshole just needed to get out for the night, Jason shrugged.

And that’s when he spotted her. The cute, brown-eyed blonde edging and bumping her way across the crowded dance floor. Squeezed into a little red dress and wobbling on red stilettos — nice legs, passable bod. But that wasn’t what drew Jason’s attention. She gave off literally waves of fresh meaty goodness, like a lamb wondering too close to the hole in the fence where the hungry things waited. The blonde jumped as she accidently heel-spiked some clean-headed gangsta type, and apologized profusely as the maimed mambo king stood mutely unable to respond. She wasn’t a hot mess; she was just a mess.


Finally, the sheep in the tiny red wrapper made it to Jason’s side. His salivary glands were already working up to a froth, and he contemplated his approach. But that’s when she took a hard right and wobbled straight to the bar.

And, to Jason’s utter astonishment, Vincent.


Special Agent Leyla Harrison had never roamed so far outside her comfort zone, and after impaling that poor man on the dance floor, she felt even more frazzled and disoriented. All that thumping, whumping techno music wasn’t helping, and it was as cold as a meat locker in this giant gymnasium of a club.

But getting outside the comfort zone was what tonight was all about. The guys at the Bureau were great and everything, but they could be a little stiff, and most of them had no imagination or adventurous spirit. And the one who had it all was unavailable — his relationship with his partner was no real secret, and, besides, the comptroller’s office had little interaction with the X Division. Leyla’s attempts to get into the field had met either with kindly bemusement or outright intolerance, and she was too straight-arrow to contrive some bogus inquiry about expenses or travel vouchers to get into Fox Mulder’s orbit.

So, three months ago, she’d logged onto eSynergy — America’s No. 4 online relationships site — in search of a kindred soul. Leyla knew full well the risks of dating — there was the Virgil Incanto case, and, of course, Edward Van Blundht. But she believed in her heart of hearts that not all men had to be serial-killing fat-suckers or shape-shifting seducers. There had to be a few good ones out there.

That conviction had led her to “No. 3215” — AKA Vincent, a successful young Wall Street dealer with a love for Asian cuisine and vintage horror films and three Burmese cats (proudly displayed in his online LifeGallery. Vincent had been impressed by Leyla’s slightly embellished career in law enforcement and, after mutual e-clearance, they’d agreed to meet in Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. Leyla had always wanted to meet Dick Clark, and she hoped maybe they could drift over to Times Square to watch the ball drop.

Leyla recognized the trim — nearly gaunt — shoulders and thinning brown hair as she approached the neon-trimmed bar. “Vincent?” she called over the throbbing percussion.

Her e-date jumped, sloshing rum and mint over the acrylic bartop. Leyla smiled and waited for the color to return to his pallid face, and when it didn’t, she settled onto the stool next to him.

“Leyla,” he finally grinned, his eyes brightening with deep hollows. He’d told her he often kept late hours attending to client accounts and following the global markets. He grasped her outstretched hand; the poor guy’s fingers were as cold as ice. They really needed to jack the thermostat in here. “Wow, you’re even prettier than in your profile.”

“Well, I scanned my Bureau ID for that photo, and they don’t really want you to smile too much,” Leyla blushed.

“Well, it’s a very nice picture even for an official ID,” Vincent smiled. His lips were pale and slightly blue — Leyla thought again about asking the manager about that thermostat — but there was something beguiling about his kindly, pallid features. “You want a drink?”

Leyla nodded cheerfully at the puddle on the bar. “That looks good — one of those.”

“Hey, two more mojitos,” Vincent called to a gothish barmaid. She regarded him briefly and began again to jerk her head in rhythm with the DJ’s mix. “They’re pretty busy tonight, New Year’s Eve and all. It may be a while.”

“It’s OK,” Leyla sang. “The night’s young. So you live around here?”

“Few blocks away — my folks had a rent-controlled efficiency they left me. Kind of a tomb, but it’s cheap and I just mainly crash there anyway.”

“Oh, I know what you mean,” Leyla empathized eagerly. “I burn a lot of midnight oil at the Bureau myself. I want to get out into the field, you know, out in the trenches, but they’ve got me chained to a desk. You, now — that must be exciting, working on Wall Street and all.”

“Well, it’s not all Michael Douglas-type stuff, though the pressure can be deadly. And every once in a while, something really interesting happens.” Vincent halted, taking a sip of his mojito dregs and wincing as he encountered a shred of macerated mint.

“See, that’s what I mean,” Leyla bubbled. “I want to find that little spark of adventure out there — the stuff the other agents see every day.”

“Drug cartels, terrorists, serial killers?”

“Well, yeah, of course that would be nice,” she murmured, wistfully. “But I mean real adventure. Take this agent I know — he deals with the most unbelievable cases. There was this time he helped track a giant flukeman in the sewer systems. It was actually some Russian who was mutated by Chernobyl. And of course, there was that golem right here in New York–“

Now, Leyla stopped self-consciously, waiting for Vincent’s vacant stare or frozen smile. Instead, worry was etched into his pallid features.

“Golem? That’s like a zombie, right?”

“Actually, a golem’s an animated anthropomorphic being created entirely from inanimate matter, like mud or clay,” Leyla corrected, tactfully. “A zombies usually a reanimated corpse controlled by somebody else through magic or a combination of psychotropic and metabolic drugs. I don’t really go with the whole George Romero walking dead, radiation theory. Sorry, listen to me babble.”

“No,” Vincent smiled tenderly. “I like to hear you talk. But I thought the zombie thing was like a Caribbean voodoo thing, witch doctors and dead chickens and that shit. Sorry.”

“Oh, that’s OK. I hear worse than that, especially when I ask for a field assignment. Actually, zombie reports began in West Africa, where a lot of Caribbean customs came from. But there’s a whole global cult thing now — there are as many books about zombies as there are about vampires.”

“And werewolves,” Vincent mumbled.

“And werewolves. And there are these organized ‘zombie walks’ — like performance art or social protests. The zombie thing’s huge. It’s the next Blood Dusk saga.”

Vincent pulled the sleeve of his khaki shirt up and laid his hand on the bar. Leyla’s eyes widened, then softened as she smiled shyly and placed her own hand in his.

“Ah, no,” Vincent said. “Higher. Hold my wrist.”

Leyla had been out of the dating scene for awhile, and she cursed her ignorance. She wrapped her freshly manicured fingers around his somewhat bony wrist. It might have been a lamb shank left on the counter to thaw. Leyla’s smile turned upside down, and her grip tightened. Her fingers then migrated along his forearm.

“I hope this doesn’t seem forward or critical or anything,” she finally said. “But it appears you don’t have a pulse.”

Vince looked into her eyes, meaningfully. Leyla recalled their most immediate topic of discussion.

“Oh,” she breathed.


“Vince, dude!”

Leyla jumped, still attempting to process the new data her eSynergy date had uploaded. The man who clapped Vincent on the shoulder was thin and somewhat short, with hair gelled and sculpted into a hairstyle known to every adolescent girl who’d ever dreamed of being passionately desanguinated. He was flashily outfitted for the occasion, but he had an unfortunate incisor overbite that made him look like a junior auxiliary vampire.

“Darryl Gruebner,” the newcomer beamed with a spark of malice in his eye, squeezing Leyla’s hand. “You the cyberchick? One of the girls at the firm told me Vince was looking for love on the laptop, and I’m glad to see she meant online dating.”

Leyla sensed Darryl had just dissed his buddy, but she was still reconciling Vincent’s utter lack of vital signs. Darryl grinned.

“Wow, she doesn’t handle her booze well, does she? Except she doesn’t even have any booze. Hey, Babe?”

The gothtender yawned.

“What you having?” Darryl asked, laying a clammy hand on Leyla’s bare shoulder.

“Tequila, straight,” she answered numbly. “A double.”

“Whoa,” Darryl brayed. “You hit the jackpot, Bro.”

“Darryl,” Vincent said through his teeth. “We’re kind of in the middle of something, you know.”

The Dark Purveyor of Alcohol sloshed a glass of tequila before Leyla.

“Well, now you are,” Darryl leered.

“What, we having a staff meeting here?”

Leyla turned to see a blocky blonde with Wolverine sideburns and muscles bulging through his form-fitting shirt. The unibrow matched his ‘do.

“Hi, Jason,” Vincent greeted glumly.

“Jason Wexler,” the brute announced to Leyla. “Me and Count Darryl here work with Vince at the brokerage. Good to see you got out for the night, Vince. Dude needs some sun or moon or whatever — looks like he lives in a crypt.”

Leyla caught a cryptically hostile look from Darryl.

“So what’s your gig, Linda?” Jason asked, crossing beefy forearms.

“Leyla. I’m an agent.”

“Movies?” Darryl asked hopefully. “TV?”

“FBI,” Vincent said pointedly, his theretofore hangdog expression hardening. Whatever he’d said or projected, his “friends” fell mute.

“Cool,” Jason finally ruled, staring at Vince. “Darryl, dude, let’s leave the young folks alone, capisce?”

Darryl nodded vigorously. “Later.”

“Sorry about that,” Vincent muttered as the mismatched pair huddled conspiratorially near the dance floor.

Leyla blinked. “So you’re a zombie?”

The young trader sighed and turned on his stool. “I wasn’t entirely upfront with you. Let me tell you a story, then I’ll tell you why I wanted you to come out tonight.”


It was one of those “reward” conferences (Vincent began), one of those freebies the senior partners toss you when they don’t want to cough up a bonus or they promise a presence at the latest industry snorefest, or both. Free five-star food and endless booze and schmoozing with the rich and famous in exchange for six hours of economic analysis and global projections.

This one was at the Trump — stuff about international currency rates and the European exchanges, stuff with virtually no relevance for Darryl or Jason or I. Just take a few notes, collect some Powerpoints, and blow off some steam, the bosses said.

The steam blew in that night at a reception sponsored by the London Stock Exchange, in the form of three Romanian financiers. Three female Romanian financiers. Three six-foot-nothing, ice-blonde Romanians of supermodel proportions. They were interested in mining emerging Eastern European venture capital and mounting a U.S.-based investment portfolio. Yeah, I know it doesn’t make total sense, but by the time they made their big entrance, we were already pretty buzzed, and when they descended on us for details on the workings of the U.S. exchanges, we didn’t ask any questions.


At some point, we wound up in the Florescu sisters’ suite. At some point, I wound up wedged between Maria Florescu and the hotel bedspread, being ridden like a Six Flags roller coaster. At some point, we woke up in our respective sisters’ suites the next afternoon, being scolded by the Latino housekeeper. The Florescus had departed for their native Romania, and we celebrated an evening of debauchery without consequences or further followup, despite the missing gaps in memory.

Then, things got weird. It started when Darryl’s hangover wouldn’t go away. We’d suspected the triplets had slipped us some “E” or something, but three days after our encounter, Darryl was still wearing sunglasses in the office and flinching every time he walked past a window. He started coming in at night and working from his apartment, and his skin just started getting paler and paler.

And Jason started getting, well, hairier. He didn’t used to have that unibrow, and he’s had to shave several times a day in the office john just to keep his shadow down. And when we’d have lunch on the street or in the park, passing dogs would bark at him while ignoring me. We were still friends then, but when I’d suggest we go out for a drink after work, Jason would look at the sky before either suggesting a bar or making some lame excuse to dash home.

It took me longer to catch on — about three weeks after my liaison with Maria Florescu. I was at my gym down near the exchange when I noticed the heart monitor on my treadmill wasn’t working. The pedometer, all the other gauges were just fine, but I couldn’t get a cardio reading. The manager put me on another machine, but the result was the same.

At the same time, I had this interminable case of the chills — I couldn’t seem to get totally warm no matter how much I layered or cranked the thermostat. I figured I was coming down with something, so I took my temp. The mercury wouldn’t move. I threw away three thermometers before giving up.

But it didn’t fully hit me until the firm upgraded its security system. After all the fallout in the financial market, the bosses decided they need to protect our proprietary data more carefully, so they put in a biometric system. You know, where you put your finger in the groove and your body signature unlocks the door. Except I had no signature. I worked with the security guys for three days before the company gave up and put in a new key card system.

By that time, I’d taken — or tried to take — a full set of vitals on myself. I officially called time of death at 9:32 p.m. on a Wednesday night. It was like something out of a horror story, and that’s when the last piece came together.

I Googled the Florescus, and found out they’d been raised in central Romania, near the Carpathian Mountains. Specifically, Transylvania.

It hit me like a brick wall. Darryl’s aversion to sunlight. Jason’s abnormal hair growth and lunar fascination. My lack of, well, life. The Florescus weren’t looking to satisfy their sexual appetites — they’d been on the hunt. My guess is we were roofied, or maybe they did it with their powers or whatever. And in the process, they’d transformed us. Darryl’d caught a scorching case of vampirism, Jason had been turned into a werewolf, and, apparently, Maria had, if you’ll pardon the pun, sucked the life out of me.


“In a way, I was lucky,” Vincent concluded as Leyla’s jaw drooped. “Being anemic, pale, and lifeless allows you to fit right in in the city, especially on the near East Side. I had tried some acting in college, and I developed a knack for makeup. I couldn’t really date this way, you know, so I got more work done. I topped the quarter in volume.

“Darryl and Jason had a harder time of it. Jason couldn’t eat enough to satisfy his metabolism or hunger, and Darryl, well, he started telling me about these really weird urges he was getting. One day in the john, I saw these marks on his arm. At first, I thought he’d starting cutting, you know, out of depression. But then I realized he was just tapping the most socially acceptable vein he could find.”

Leyla placed a hand tentatively on Vincent’s lifeless arm. “You poor things. Oh, I don’t mean things. It took a lot of courage to tell me all this.”

Vincent sighed and looked away. “Not really, Leyla. In fact, I invited you here on false pretenses. I wasn’t looking for love. I was looking for help, and after I read some of your comments on a paranormal discussion forum, I knew you were probably the only person who could understand. And who could do something. Something official.

“See, I think it all finally got the best of Darryl and Jason, that they gave into their newfound impulses.

“Leyla, I think they killed somebody. Maybe somebodies.”


By coincidence, at that same moment, the Blonde in the Gold Lame Stockings was chatting about vampires and werewolves and zombies with The Dark Man. Well, not precisely by coincidence — her earlier conversation with the little quasi-fanged wannabe had tickled her little-used imagination, and the handsome man near the DJ stage was like some kind of shadowy presence at tonight’s festivities, garbed from head-to-toe in black and seemingly amused by the whole New Year’s Eve scene.

“Oh, yeah, I love all that shit,” she told The Dark Man, who seemed fascinated by the conversation rather than her quite commendable boobs. “I started reading Anne Rice when I was in junior high — that was during my goth phase, then the Blood Dusk books came out, and I’m hooked all over again. I’ve seen both Blood Dusk and Equinox four times now, and I’m watching Twitter to find out when New Morn is coming out. You know, I met that guy who plays Edgar. Well, I almost met him. They were doing a scene for some Gwyneth Paltrow thing he’s in down in The Village, and I was like 20 feet away from him. If the fucking goon movie security people had just stepped off, I’d have gotten his autograph. I don’t know why, but I just love all that vampire shit.”

The Dark Man smiled, mysteriously, she thought. “Well, the notion of eternal life appeals to all of us, but add a layer of dangerous, disease-free eroticism, and it’s not surprising women — especially young women — are attracted to vampire lore. The idea of a romantic figure shunned by society who offers the gift of immortality through sex? C’mon.”

The Dark Man was very smart — he’d probably been at least through community college. The blonde felt a little tingle of attraction. “My BFF, Cyndie, likes werewolves, says vampires suck. Werewolves? Would you believe? Yish.”

“Maybe your friend prefers the ideal of more primal romance, stripped of all civility and given free reign in feeding its appetites and urges.”

“She is a fucking wild mess,” she conceded. “The thing I can’t understand is this whole zombie shit. Zombie books, zombie games, zombie movies. Please don’t tell me that’s about fucking, too.”

The Dark Man shrugged. “Romero said he made the Living Dead movies to criticize social ills like government ineptitude, bioengineering, slavery, greed, exploitation. Personally, I think the current appeal of zombie lore is rooted in the desire of the powerless to take control, without bureaucratic or societal consequences. To utterly annihilate one’s enemies — what would be more cathartic than actually eating your boss or your ex?”

“Actually, my ex kinda liked–“ she grinned slyly, assessing an opening.

But her opening slammed shut as a piercing, animalistic sound cut through the bad techno-mix and the drunk chatter and the connection she’d begun to feel with The Dark Man. The howling stopped, and the room was momentarily silent. Then someone laughed nervously, the laughter spread through the crowd, and the bodies on the floor once again began to twitch and jerk.


“That sounded like a fucking WOLF,” the blonde gasped.


“It started right after Rachel came to the firm,” Vincent related as Leyla worked on her tequila. “She was straight out of NYU — looked like a cross between Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston and had a business sense like a cross between Richard Branson and Michael Douglas in that Wall Street movie. The partners loved her — I suspect one more than the others — and every guy in the office became her coffee slave. Which was great, because I’m usually the guy who has to go on the Starbucks runs.

“ By this time, Rachel was not only out of my league but too organic to be interested in a relationship with an overachieving zombie. Now, Darryl and Jason, they were like totally blown over her, and that’s when it started, When they started embracing their true selves. Their new true selves. That’s when Darryl started cornering the marketing on styling product and Proactiv and Jason started hitting the gym twice a day and binging on whey powder and energy drinks. Darryl got darker, Jason got jockier, and Rachel loved watching them constantly whip ‘em out on the conference table for her. Metaphorically, that is.”

“Oh, I figured,” Leyla nodded. Her shock had given way to dejection and then to a low-grade professional tingle after Vincent raised the possibility of homicide. “So they were like rivals?”

“Just like in that movie Blood Dusk. You know, when Cara has to choose between Edgar the vampire and Gerard the werewolf? Except Rachel was no Cara — more like a wereshark. She played them against each other and played them individually. It was like she was sucking their brains dry. And their accounts. By the end of a month at the firm, she was No. 2 in volume. I was No. 1, and she hated that I was immune to her. Boy, if she’d have only known.” Vincent laughed morosely.

“The guys didn’t realize how Rachel’d played them until a week or so ago, when Darryl was having a drink with the boys at the Omni Plaza Midtown and saw one of the partners and Rachel getting off separate elevators at the same time. Darryl’s no Rhodes scholar, but he could tell they were trying to hard to ignore each other. It wasn’t so much that he and Jason had been cock-blocked by the boss — what must’ve hurt was realizing she’d been after their portfolios rather than their manhood.

“It was two days later she didn’t show up to work. Any of the rest of us, and we could go missing for a week. But Rachel? They practically called out the National Guard. One of the partners — the one who was doing Rachel — sent me to her apartment, but nobody answered. I checked her neighbors, and nobody remembered seeing her — or hearing her stereo, which she played too loud — the night before.

“Then we saw it on the news that night. The cops had found a body in Central Park, practically ripped to shreds. They later put out the body’d been completely dry of blood. Cops figured the woman had been the victim of some Satanic or serial ritual, then half-eaten by feral dogs. Feral dogs, in Central Park? What, runaway yorkies? All they knew was it wasn’t a robbery. Rachel’s purse was by the body, with her cash, cards, and ID.

“The cops were all over the office the next few days, but nobody had a clue but me. I was the only one who knew he had a vampire and a werewolf for coworkers. When they realized Rachel’d conned them both, they must have teamed up to get rid of her. You know what they say. Bros before hos.”

Leyla actually did not know what “they” said, and was about to request clarification when the howling began. She’d shaved her legs assiduously in preparation for her cyberdate, but the hairs at the base of her neck rose.

“Oh, Jesus,” Vincent whispered. The bodies on the dance floor turned as one, seeking the source of the inhuman cries. Then, the howling stopped abruptly, and a few laughs later, the partiers returned to their affairs and would-be affairs.

Vincent then sat bolt-upright, and Leyla followed his gaze to an entry to the right of the DJ. Two figures emerged from the darkened restroom corridor — one diminutive, one hulking. As the pair moved into the strobing lights, she gasped at the deep black shadow on the larger man’s face and the eerie red glint in the eyes of the smaller man. They were headed directly and swiftly toward the bar.

“I shouldn’t have brought you here,” Vincent breathed. “They know. C’mon, Agent, we gotta get outta here.”


The alleyway behind the club was illuminated alternately by a few backdoor fixtures and the glow of a few loft windows overhead. Vincent splashed through puddles toward the main street lights as Leyla trailed breathlessly on her precarious heels.

“Vince, dude!” The voice was deep, scolding, and definitely menacing. Leyla glanced back over her shoulder and spotted the two figures advancing from light pool to light pool.

“C’mon, Vince,” the other voice whined. “We can talk this out. Why’d you have to narc us out?”

“Leave her alone, Darryl!” Vincent screamed. “We won’t tell. I promise.”

“What the fuck you talking about, Bro?” the large man demanded. “Go ahead. Tell. You think she’ll believe you? Stay put, Dude; let’s talk.”

Leyla’s heart pounded. She glanced franticly around for help. Figures moved in a few windows — New Yorkers craning to hear what was brewing in the darkness below but straining to stay uninvolved. Leyla then scrambled for her purse and her largely decorative sidearm.

“OK!” Vincent shouted, surprising her. “Let’s talk this out. We’re here by the yellow dumpster. Leyla, relax. I got it.”

Agent Harrison spun to see her erstwhile date displaying her weapon. “I said, just relax, Leyla,” the zombie purred, strangely calm now.

“What’s going on?” Leyla slurred, her body suddenly heavy and immobile. One of his buddies — the vampire or the werewolf, she didn’t know which — sent a glass bottle skittering across the concrete as they closed in.

“I’ll make it quick, I promise,” Vincent murmured with a tinge of regret. In the spare light of the alley, she could see the color returning to his face. Too much color.

“You’re looking a lot better, Vincent,” a new voice called, cheerfully. A man emerged from the street side of the alley — a man clothed in black, from head to toe. The gun in his gloved hand was black, too. “Drop the weapon, Zombie Boy, or you’re a real dead man.”

“Agent Mulder,” Leyla croaked, beginning to feel the night chill creep back into her bare shoulders.

“See, Agent Harrison, bullets might not hurt a real zombie, if there is such a thing,” Fox Mulder grinned, advancing slowly. “But I bet a headshot might do a little damage to a witch. Right, Vince?”

Darryl and Jason had cleared the dumpster, and now they stood, transfixed, watching the drama unfold between their coworker and the two agents.

“Dudes,” Mulder called out. “Welcome to the party. Vincent was about to start your new year out with a couple of homicide charges. Yeah, that’s right. He probably had you believing you’d killed Rachel Krause, hadn’t he?”

Darryl looked at Jason. “That’s bogus, Vince,” the “werewolf” growled.


“To say the least,” Mulder said. “Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, guys, but aside from your apparently immortal wit, you’re not gonna live forever or light up the sky with your name.” He paused, meeting blank stares. “C’mon, Fame. Don’t you kids ever watch anything older than Gossip Girl any more? Leyla, take your gun.”

Agent Harrison complied. “But I saw them, in the club. They were…different.”

“I’m sure it’s an illusion created by Vince, maybe with the help of some pharmaceuticals in your Cabo Wabo. That’s probably how he convinced these two whiz kids they were Count Chocula and Lon Chaney. You were the butt boy at the office, weren’t you, Vince? Always schlepping coffee for these two. Darryl’s reaction to daylight, Jason’s hairy temperament — those were part minor-league sorcery and part chemicals, right? Just like real voodoo.

“The lead on the case — detective I know named Doggett — was suspicious of Darryl and Jason. The two of you had no real alibis, thanks to Vincent making you paranormal outcasts. But Doggett couldn’t square you two daytraders with the savagery of Rachel’s murder, so he called me in. I took one look at you two rejects from a bad CW drama and figured something was rotten in Transylvania. Then I spot you, Vincent, and I have to say, you really overdid it with the undead act. Like you wanted to divert us from the disaffected, powerless zombie to the two predatory alpha dudes.

“So I looked at the firm’s records, and found out Jason and Darryl had been the big dogs in sales ‘til about six months ago, with Vince at a sad No. 3. Then, their figures started dropping as Vince became the rising star. Vince staged this whole vampire-werewolf thing to throw them off their game, and these two brainstems played along nicely.” Mulder turned to Vince. “But you didn’t count on Rachel the Wall Street Vampire. She was cutting in on your newly stolen action. So you decided to kill three birds — that is, kill Rachel and frame your buds for it. You lured her to the park and did the old Dracula Meets The Wolfman on her. My guess is, you put the hex on Darryl and Jason, and they’re missing a few strategic hours the night of the murder. Until now, they probably think they did it.”

“You fucking–” Jason snapped, moving forward.

“Down, boy,” Mulder chided. “Problem is, Vincent’s plot was a little too exotic for the NYPD, so he decided to take things to the next level. He arranged this meet-and-greet with Agent Harrison to plant the seeds of suspicion and put on that little howlfest in the club. You were going to be the next victim of the ”

“Wait — how’d he get Rachel to go to the park?” Leyla interjected. “She wouldn’t give him the time of day.”

“You kidding? Rachel had these two by their short hairs — sorry, Jason. What’s the challenge in that? Now, apathetic, disinterested Vince — that must’ve been too much for her monster ego to bear. He had all the power in the relationship. Which begs the question: You managed all this and you’re hustling stocks on the phone? Seems a little beneath your skill set, Vince.”

Vincent’s eyes flamed. “Yeah, you try to make a living with spells and potions in this economy.”

Darryl coughed. “Soooo, we didn’t do anything wrong?”

Mulder shrugged. “Depends on what state you’re in. You wonder how Vince here conjured up the lovely Florescu sisters? How many cats you got, Vincent?”

It took Leyla a second. “Oh,” she grimaced.

It took Darryl a second longer. Then he threw up on Jason’s Kenneth Coles.



“No, she’s fine,” Mulder told Scully as he watched two of New York’s finest deposit the “zombie”-cum-sorcerer in the back of a black-and-white. “Sure, no prob. Oh, yeah, you bet I’ll find a way to make it up for me. Scully? Scully?”

He stared at the dead Droid for a moment, then grinned and slid it into his jacket. Mulder turned and located Agent Harrison at the curb outside the club, peering forlornly down Broadway as partiers stumbled and danced toward Times Square and staccato horns honked out the old year.

Leyla smiled sheepishly as he approached. “Bet you can’t guess what my New Year’s resolution is. I feel so stupid.”

“Aw, c’mon,” Mulder murmured. “Relationships are tough. You know what they say: All the good ones are either married, gay, or wizards. When Scully found out you were about to hit the town with my prime suspect, she insisted I sign on for chaperone duty. So, Agent Harrison, what do you say we hunt down Dick Clark? I heard he’s been sighted around here.


“Hey, great show as always, Dick!” the producer shouted with a triumphant fist pump. “Have a great year!”

“Regards to the family, Steve!” Dick Clark returned with the famous smile that had rocked America and ushered Jan. 1 for decades. It’d been a particularly brisk night in Times Square, and he was looking forward to some nice hot java after the network makeup guy stripped away the blush and powder.

“Table for one, Mr. Clark?” Max invited as the host entered the warm trailer, snapping a fresh bib.

“Terrific job, as usual, Max,” Dick beamed, settling into the canvas director’s chair. “Some of these guys make me look like I’m ready for a noon burial.”

The burly, magenta-haired cosmetician chuckled modestly and reverently clipped the bib into place. “Oh, please. I should look half as good as you when I get to be your—Oopsie, didn’t mean it THAT way.”

“Max, never be ashamed of your age. It’s like Old Blue Eyes said, you gotta stay young at heart.”

“That was Zach Efron’s line?” Max squeaked in mock astonishment. “Just yankin’ you, hon. Now just relax, and I’ll have you on your way in a sec.”

It had been a tiring evening – there were some sound issues around 11:45, and this year’s diva du jour had turned out to be the Diva From Hell – and Dick closed his eyes as the makeup man sponged and gently scraped. But overall, it had been another satisfying night – Dick relished his role as Gatekeeper to the New Year, and hoped to be at it for at least another decade or two.

“Say, Max, did a delivery guy come by during the show?” the TV legend inquired. “He was supposed to drop some deli for the trip home.”

“Gosh, I’m sorry, Mr. Clark – nobody like that. There were a couple of little Miss Somethings got through network security, wanted to see you. I shooed them off.”

“Thanks, Max,” Dick nodded. “Probably young enough to be my granddaughters. Still, it’s kinda sweet.”

“Posh. You are an icon with a Capital I. What do they say, a timeless treasure?”

“You’re supposed to be scraping me off, not piling it on,” Dick jibed.

“Sorry, Mr. Clark. Aging drama queen. There!” Max peered into the facing mirror. “My God, I swear you’re actually looking younger. Well, see you when I see you!”

“Happy New Year, Max,” Dick said, dropping the bib onto the chair and clapping the man on the shoulder.

“May you live to be a thousand,” Max called as the trailer door closed.

Dick looked up into the Broadway marquees, soaked up the raucous sounds of joy and, what – hope? — that would continue into the wee hours. A new decade of a new millennium.

The former Bandstand host swallowed back a slight pang of disappointment. The post-midnight “deli” delivery was as much a New Year’s personal ritual as Auld Lang Syne (performed this year by Dan Fogelberg and Darius Rucker) and the descent of the glittering ball in the Square. The delivery – a standard Carnegie corned beef with Russian dressing, slaw, Kosher dill, and a small vial of iridescent lavender fluid – had been waiting after the show for 20 years now, without fail.

But all traditions fade at some point, Dick sighed — all good things come to an end, ideally with more good things on their tail. Maybe it was time to simply let Nature take its course, he reflected, absently touching a crow’s foot.

Dick nonetheless was concerned about his heretofore-diligent supplier. There had to be others in New York with his particular skills in crafting potions and talismans, and a few phone calls would line up a new contact, but it was puzzling.

Oh, well, Dick thought. “Have a prosperous New Year, Vince,” he murmured, “Wherever you are.”


Permaceo Noctus

TITLE: Permaceo Noctus

AUTHOR: StarfleetOfficer1

RATING: PG13 for language

DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended.

SUMMARY: Mulder and the Scully family get more than they bargained for when they volunteer to help at a homeless shelter on Christmas Eve.




DECEMBER 24th, 2010


“Uncle Mulder? What causes poverty?”

Matthew’s relatively innocent question caught Mulder off-guard as he untied the last sleeping bag and placed it on the camping mattress. He stood up from his squatting position and shook his head at his twelve-year-old companion.

“It varies,” he answered, and led the way back to the food court. They were on the upper level of the mall, walking past closed shops with their gates drawn and lights out. Sleeping bags lined the walkway, some cushioned by air mattresses and camping mattresses. The moving homeless shelter would find a new building every week, and this particular night required a bigger building than most churches could provide.


“Some people get addicted to drugs or alcohol and spend all their money on those things, so they can’t pay rent. And they can’t hold down a job because the drugs and alcohol affect their performance,” Mulder continued, glancing down at Matt, who was paying rapt attention. “Sometimes people lose their jobs and can’t find new ones in time to pay their bills. Or they may have medical expenses that drain all their savings, and then lose their job on top of that. Sometimes people get a bad start, and their parents kick them out of the house when they’re young. They may never get on their feet after that.”

Matt nodded slowly, deep in thought.

“Then there are those who just can’t seem to deal with life. Some people’s parents never teach them how to manage money, how to go to work, how to try hard. They may grow up without parents at all, or they might grow up mostly on the streets, so it’s all they know. There are so many variations that it’s hard to pinpoint one reason,” Mulder finished.

“Well, there is one solution, I guess. Even if it’s short-term,” Matt said. “We help out.”

“That’s right,” Mulder agreed with a smile, and put his arm proudly around his nephew’s shoulders. “We’ve got plenty, so we’re volunteering what we’ve got — time and resources — to those who need a boost. We’re trying to help them get on their feet.”

“So that’s what the career center’s all about?” Matt asked. “They give help to people who never learned how to get a job and stuff like that?”

“They also give tutorials on how to find an apartment, and how to budget money. I want you to keep an eye out for a ‘new’ kind of homeless person.”

“Who’s that?” Matt asked, curious.

“Families. You’re going to see a lot of that here—whole families who have been foreclosed, who don’t have incomes because they’ve lost their jobs in this economy. Those people are usually the ones who use the career center. They know how to work and they may know how to save. But they need some advice as to how to rebuild their lives after everything fell apart.”

Matt was quiet for a moment. “What if our house burned down?” he finally asked.

Mulder remembered being his age, before his sister was taken. These thoughts were prevalent in his mind even then. Normal prepubescent kids thought about all the things that could go wrong and realized the multitude of things that could derail their lives.

Mulder squeezed Matt’s shoulders and then released him, and said, “You’d have a place to stay with your Aunt Dana and me. And your mom has insurance on the house and all the stuff inside, so it’d just be a little while before you got a huge check that would help you get started again.

This seemed to reassure the boy, because he nodded and stuck his hands in his pockets. “That’s good,” he said.

They arrived at the food court, which was bustling with volunteers. There were long rows of tables with food buckets available, a huge stack of plates, trays, and silverware, and servers ready to assist their homeless ‘customers’. Scully was preparing the tables, placing napkins at the center of each table as a finishing touch on a huge endeavor. Feeding over 200 people was no small task.

Tara, who was helping Scully, waved at her son and Mulder as they approached. “Are the sleeping bags all set up?”

“Everything’s good to go,” Mulder answered.

Just then, the mall rumbled. Matt looked around and asked, “What was that?”

Scully glanced at her watch. “There’s a huge Metro stop right below us and it’s on the hour. You’ve never felt that before?”

Matt pulled out his cell phone and checked the time, and while checking his emails, said, “Yeah, but I’ve never felt it rumble that much. Must’ve been the express.”

When Matt didn’t put the phone away, Mulder said, “You’re not gonna have time for that when they get here, Matt. If I were you, I’d go grab a granola bar because two hours from now you’ll be hungry.”

“You mean we won’t have time to eat?” Matt asked, shocked.

Tara laughed. “You’re barely going to have time to breathe. Once everyone’s served, we’ll eat the leftovers or eat what I brought. But not before then.”

Matt put his phone away despondently.

“Don’t worry, you won’t go hungry,” Scully reassured him. “Go get a snack now.”

He hurried away to the McDonald’s not far from where they stood, which was still open and manned with two teenagers. It was where the volunteers’ belongings were being kept. No food was being served, but the McDonald’s manager offered to keep it open for this event to volunteer his tables and chairs and the space behind the counter.

The Georgetown Moving Shelter representatives were manning the front doors of the mall, where about two hundred people stood in line outside awaiting entry. They would take their Moving Shelter ID’s that proved they were not offenders and were safe to admit, and then the individuals could enter the mall, grab a meal, watch a movie, visit the career center, or simply go to sleep. Tomorrow they would leave and go wherever they went for the day, and tomorrow night the shelter would have moved all their supplies to their next location. The location schedule was distributed at each of their evening locations and at the regional office, which was open all day for new members to register and obtain an ID.

The first wave of individuals were admitted when the representatives opened the mall doors and began counting. They were admitted in groups of twenty five every ten minutes, and went in order of arrival. As Matt obtained his granola bar, the first wave came through the front door. He stood for a moment in the McDonald’s, opening the wrapper and crunching down on the first bite, watching the twenty-five individuals enter the mall and present their IDs to the volunteers at the desk.

Numbers were entered in a laptop, which was secured to the folding table with a laptop locking cord. Matt saw one man eye that cord and it occurred to the twelve-year-old that he might want to steal it. It was worth a lot of money. He ate the next bite of his granola bar and watched, completely fascinated.

“Hey, dude, you better get over there if you’re serving,” a teenager behind the McDonald’s counter said, but Matt didn’t get the chance to answer him. Mulder’s voice cut through the crowd.

“Matt! C’mon!”

He pocketed the remaining half of the granola bar and ran over to stand next to Mulder, who handed him an apron and pointed to the tray next to his. “This isn’t Discovery Channel, it’s work. Start serving mashed potatoes, kiddo.”

Matt nodded, and tied the apron around his waist silently.

Soon there was a steady line of hungry homeless individuals seeking a warm meal and shelter for the night. At first hesitant as to what he should do, Matt soon got into a rhythm. A half hour into it, he was mimicking Mulder’s question as each person came through. “Mashed potatoes, Sir?” “Would you like mashed potatoes to go with that beef?” “Merry Christmas.”


They heard another rumble, and this time Matt almost lost his footing and the table shook so violently that the tray almost slid off. Mulder grabbed it at the last second and shoved it back into place, pulling his hand away quickly and shaking it from the heat of the dish. “Are you okay?” he asked Matt.

Matt nodded, but looked worried. The homeless had frozen in place, as if bracing for impact. Many of the servers had as well, and it was Scully who said from not far away, “If that was the train, I’m starting to question the structural integrity—”

As she was speaking, Mulder’s eyes grew huge and he grabbed Matt and dove under the table in one swift motion. Scully stopped speaking and followed suit, although she couldn’t see what he was looking at. It seemed everyone else had a delayed reaction in comparison, because the screams only erupted a moment later.

One level below them where there were still shops, the floor had cracked down the center of the two story opening and begun to cave into the subway station below. The building shook violently and chunks of concrete flew in a plume of smoke as dust filled their nostrils.

Mulder was brought right back to that room in Pakistan that had collapsed around him, the dusty surroundings clogging his airway and making it impossible to see. The table came down on top of them, and Mulder shielded Matt with his body as best he could while attempting to shield his own head from the impact with his arms.

The marble floor beneath them cracked and crumbled into the center opening, but it didn’t cave completely. A tremendous roar filled the air, almost as a delayed sound effect. Mulder found himself screaming in pain from the sound alone, and that was before the smoke cleared enough for him to see the sight.

There in the opening of ground floor of the mall, only about a half a football field away from him, were two train cars at forty-five degree angles with each other. Sparks erupted from each car as chunks of concrete fell upon the wreckage. People cried out in anguish and fear. A baby cried. Someone screamed for help.

He recognized that voice. It was Scully’s. “Scully!” he screamed back, and tried to get up. The table on top of him fell away, and he dragged Matt up by his armpits, adrenaline ripping through his body. He was met with the sight of his five-foot-tall partner directly in front of him.

“Oh, Mulder, thank God…we thought…” she threw her arms around him and Matt simultaneously, and only seconds later Tara joined in.


Matt stared at the wreckage in total shock, and Tara grabbed her boy and pulled him away, towards the almost untouched McDonald’s. The front entrance of the mall had been covered in debris that seemed to spew from the wreckage. The tables that had once held volunteers and the laptop that checked ID’s were now buried under enormous chunks of concrete and marble. Mangled doors could barely be seen where the mall entrance once was, and Mulder knew there were a lot of lucky bastards on the other side of that door who hadn’t been granted admittance yet.

The agents took only a moment to take in the sight and decide what had to be done. The escalators were impossible to navigate , and the elevators were not safe either. There was no way to get down there unless they were to attempt to get to the back stairwell. But there were people down there who needed help, who were trapped in that mangled train and wouldn’t receive help until it was too late.

The lights were flickering, but close to going out. Scully looked around her and saw that many of the homeless in the food court had been injured but just as many seemed to be okay. What she saw were no longer obligations or customers, but spare hands.

“Everyone listen up!” She screamed, and her commanding, high-pitched voice cut through most of the noise in the immediate vicinity. “If you aren’t injured, I need you to get to the McDonald’s! Gather in the McDonald’s if you’re not injured—you’re going to help us treat the people who are!”

People started to move, mostly the volunteers who took Scully’s command seriously and started gathering those who were otherwise standing still and awaiting instruction. Some of the homeless people were leading their friends into the McDonald’s as well. Others stayed behind with their injured friends.

Scully turned to Mulder. “We need supplies. Rope to rappel down there. Medical supplies. Flashlights. There’s a sporting goods store around the corner there—it should be untouched. Do you have your lock pick?”

He couldn’t help but smirk. “What do you think?” She nodded and he took off, stopping at the McDonald’s on his way to talk to Tara and Matt. “Matt, you have the best cell phone signal in this place. Can you call 911?”

Matt seemed dumbfounded for a moment, before he nodded and pulled his phone out. “What should I say?”

“Let me talk,” Mulder said after he had dialed.

“911 what is your emergency?”

“This is Special Agent Fox Mulder, ID 10131120. I’m in the L’Enfant Plaza Mall, upper level above the Metro Stop. There’s been a train collision. There are two train cars that came through the lower level roof of the mall and breached the shopping area. The main entrance to the mall is blocked off by rubble. We have about a hundred people in the mall right now for the Georgetown Moving Shelter, and I’m estimating about a quarter of them are injured and require immediate medical assistance. We haven’t seen any passengers emerge from the train.”

“I understand, Sir. I’m alerting the authorities right now. What is your status?”

“I’m uninjured. My partner and I are organizing relief efforts.” He began walking towards the sporting goods store. “What is your relief capability?”

“Until the proper authorities have assessed the structural stability of the station, I can’t tell you how soon we’ll be able to get to you. The rear entrance to the mall should be untouched by your description. That may be a way in. If you stay on the phone I’ll be able to get you updates in real time.”

He pulled his lock pick and began to work on the gate in front of the store while balancing the phone between his shoulder and ear. “Do you have any indication as to the cause? Any other calls that came in that would indicate a terrorist attack, a power grid malfunction, anything?”

Only two summers ago, two trains had collided on the Red Line because of a faulty sensor telling one train that the other was not on the track when, in fact, it was.

There was a pause. “I’m cross-checking right now,” the woman told him, and he successfully picked the lock and began working on the store’s glass door lock. “We’ve had three calls come in from Train 499, reporting a suspicious-looking man in a suit. I’ve got three separate descriptions here, all of them…not likely. There may have been lighting problems on the train before it crashed, Agent Mulder.”

“What were the descriptions?”

“The man is described in all three calls as wearing a DC Metro Rail Maintenance uniform, with white hair, and…depending on who gave the description, blue, green, or gray skin.”

Mulder’s upper lip twitched. “Why was he suspicious?”

“They describe the man as ‘pacing’ or ‘stumbling’ through the train cars. I don’t have any further details, but you and your partner may want to watch out for this man, if he survived the collision.”

“Thanks, I’ll pass that information on.”

“Agent Mulder, I’m reading a large electrical discharge on this line, I think we might—”

Her voice was replaced by a shriek that nearly broke Mulder’s eardrum. He let the phone clatter to the ground, and he winced in pain, finishing her sentence. “Lose the signal…” He picked the lock, and gained entrance to the store.

He picked up the phone from the ground and put it in his pocket, and then grabbed a backpack and began stuffing everything he thought they might need inside of it. He took plenty of batteries, duct tape, two large rolls of rope, as many flashlights and lanterns as possible, every first aid kit on the shelf, and an entire box of granola bars.

After lugging all the equipment back with him, he dropped it in the McDonald’s where Scully was organizing relief teams. She attempted to group the homeless with at least one volunteer as she told them how to organize the wounded—leaving the severely wounded where they were, assisting those who needed a bit of help, and instructing those who could to move under their own power into the McDonald’s.

Matt and Tara were huddled together against the ordering counter, where the two teenagers were fearfully watching the entire thing and awaiting instructions.

Scully turned the ‘floor’ over to her partner when she said, “I need five people to go stand by Agent Mulder. He’ll give you instructions on how to distribute supplies to people and make sure everyone has a flashlight and water when these lights go out.”

“I also need three able-bodied, strong adults who are going to go with me down there to the train to try to get people out of there, and another three to go with Agent Scully to the rubble by the door and start to help people there.”

Volunteers came in droves. It seemed among the homeless, willingness to help, or perhaps to just feel needed, was in abundance.




DECEMBER 24th, 2010


The organization was fast and efficient. Teams were ordered back to the sporting goods store to get bottles of water, blankets, and more miscellaneous supplies. People were dispatched with flashlights to make sure everyone had one. Helmets and harnesses were secured, and Mulder led a team of two homeless men and one shelter volunteer in the rappelling effort. Scully donned a helmet herself and convinced Tara to do the same and to allow Matt to join as they began hand-shoveling debris out of the way of the main entrance and digging out volunteers and homeless people.

Things moved so quickly that Mulder didn’t get the chance to take Scully aside and explain their potential security risk. It was because he hadn’t explained that part to anyone that when he landed on the ground level, unclipped his harness, and drew his gun, that the volunteer with him gave him a questioning look. “What are you doing?”

Mulder glanced at the wreckage. “I want you three to stand back. We don’t know how this happened, and aside from it not being stable, there might be someone in there who caused this. I need to determine we’re not in any immediate danger.”

“Do you have reason to believe we are?” the man asked, but Mulder didn’t answer him.

He climbed through a potted plant and around an overturned bench to get to steady ground where he believed he could stand and look inside one of the train cars. Balanced on a piece of marble and some wooden rod whose origin Mulder couldn’t place, he stood on his tip-toes and looked in the broken windows. “Can anyone hear me in there?”

There was no answer. There was, however, a shift in his vision and for just a second, he thought he saw…


“No way,” he whispered involuntarily. He was taken back to that basement where he had been trapped on New Years’ Eve ten years ago. Or that mental hospital where the nurse had shut him into the room and smiled sweetly, her green/gray skin exposing her for what she really was.

“Agent Mulder? What do you need up there?” one of the homeless people called from below.

Mulder shook his head in amazement and found himself saying, “I think we’re going to need some salt.”




DECEMBER 24th, 2010


“Matty, give me a hand with this,” Tara said. She and Scully had tried to protect Matt from seeing too much gore. They had him rolling and pushing chunks of concrete off of the pile and away from the rubble. With the rest of the adults there also helping to dig people out, a twelve-year-old wasn’t desperately needed.

But as they got further into the pile, it was getting impossible for anyone nearby not to see the bodies and smell the stench.

Tara was gripping a large piece of plastic that might have been the folding table. Scully was on the other end of the pile tending to someone still trapped inside but alive. “Grab the other end there. That’s right,” she told her son. “Make sure you’ve got a good grip, both hands.”

They were wearing fleece gloves that came from the sporting goods store. They were already torn, but they were better than nothing.

“Pull out, not up. Okay? On three. One…two…three.”

The table came out of the wreckage and a few chunks of concrete fell down to fill its place. Matt’s eyes widened at what was revealed underneath. Almost unharmed and looking more like she was asleep than unconscious, was a little four- or five-year-old girl in a filthy pink snowsuit and knit cap.

He dropped to his knees next to her and began digging around her. Tara felt for a pulse and sighed in relief. “Dana!” she called.

Scully stood up from her squatting position next to a patient and walked over. Looking down, she immediately felt for a pulse and then lowered her head next to the girl’s mouth to hear her breathing. She nodded. “Pulse is strong, breath sounds good. So far no obvious injuries…the table may have protected her.”

“Like Mulder and me,” Matt said as he dug.

“Careful, Matt. Look at what might shift before you take anything away from the pile,” Scully warned.

He nodded.

She squatted next to him, one of her knees cracking at the movement. She smiled slightly when his head turned. “I’m fine, just getting old,” she joked.

She supported the little girl’s head and neck while Matt dug, and was prepared to pull her out by her armpits.

Matt and Tara were able to clear the debris on top of her and Scully quickly but carefully pulled her out and laid her down a few feet from the pile. She checked her pulse again and listened to her breathing. She then unzipped the snowsuit and began checking the little child’s body, looking for fractures or signs of internal damage. Underneath the snowsuit was a dirty once-white turtleneck that was slightly small for her, and under that was a T-shirt. Her underwear were clean, and so were her socks.

“She’s got some fresh bruises on her chest, and one on her forehead. No abrasions or broken bones,” Scully reported. “My guess is it’s a concussion and she’ll be fine. We need to figure out whose she is, though…”

“Is she homeless, or does she belong to one of the volunteers who just came in?” Matt asked.

Scully shook her head. “I don’t remember seeing her by the table…but then I don’t remember if there was a child over there or not. I honestly don’t know,” she said. Eye-witness testimony was notoriously incorrect, and Scully wasn’t about to guess as to whether she had seen the little girl by the table. It didn’t matter anyway. Either way, her parents were not available to claim her.

“Someone will have to stay with her,” Tara said. “Especially so they can give her water when she wakes up.”

“And keep her warm,” Scully said as she redressed the little girl. She adjusted the cap so it covered her small ears and then she snapped the top button on the snowsuit to give her the most warmth possible.

“I can keep an eye on her while I move the chunks of rocks and stuff,” Matt volunteered. “When she wakes up I’ll keep her company.”

Tara nodded. “That’s an excellent idea, Matt. I’ll carry her over there where it’s safer and you can look every time you walk by,” his mother told him, and he nodded in agreement.

“Agent Scully!” Someone called and waved her over. Scully gave Tara a departing smile and moved over to where the man was stooped over another person trapped underneath the pile.

As Tara carried the little girl over to a safer area, she reflected that this child was not much smaller than little Claire. Matt was probably seeing his sister in this child who was at best a volunteer’s unconscious little girl, possibly homeless, and at worst a new orphan.

As she put the child down in an alcove next to a water fountain, she noticed someone out of the corner of her eye and spun around, blocking the child and ready to defend herself. Who she saw, however, was Mulder coming over the railing.

She rushed over to help him clamber over the railing after he had climbed up the escalator and some rubble while belayed by a homeless man below. “Sorry, Tara, did I scare you?” he asked after both his feet were on the floor.

“I guess I’m a little jumpy,” she apologized. “What did you find down there?”

“No one inside the cars is moving. We need Scully down there to determine if they’re dead or just unconscious. I opened all the train car windows to vent them,” he said, but didn’t give her much detail.

She simply nodded and after he had unclipped himself they began to walk back toward the triage area.

“How many dead so far?” he asked.

Tara sighed. “Twelve…I think.”

“How’s Matt?”

“He’s working hard. He’s so brave…”

Mulder smiled and placed a comforting hand on Tara’s shoulder. “He’s a real trooper. If he gets tired, maybe he can work with Dana and do some first aid.”

“That’s a really good idea.”

“How are you doing?”

“I’m okay,” she said, and took a glove off to run her hand through her hair and get it away from her now-sweaty face. “I can’t believe this happened…”

Mulder nodded. “They’re going to eventually send Rescue in and then we’ll get the chance to rest. Thanks for helping out.”

She chuckled ironically. “I’d look like a fool sitting on the sidelines.”

They reached the triage area, where people were laying on blankets, coats, and mats and were organized according to severity of their injuries.

Scully looked up and saw Mulder, and held up one finger before turning back to a man’s hand, which she was carefully splinting.

Just then an argument that had previously been lost in the background noise of the rescue effort rose above the current sound level when a homeless man screamed, “YOU’RE A MOTHER-FUCKIN’ SHITHEAD, MAN!”

Mulder’s head turned just in time to catch the sight of one man tackle another to the dusty ground and begin wailing on him. He shook his head and muttered, “It was only a matter of time,” before he ran over to the two who were now rolling all over the dust and were in danger of going over the ledge.

“HEY!” He screamed, and grabbed one of the men. “HEY! STOP! Knock it off! Come on, knock it off! I mean it!” Another homeless man stepped in and pulled the other man away, and Mulder and he then stood to get the men even further from each other.

“He’s an asshole!” Mulder’s detainee declared, his expression one of intense hatred.

The other man simply spit blood and stood there with an angry expression on his face.

“What’s this about? You first,” Mulder added quickly, to make sure another shouting match didn’t ensue.


“This asshole took my kid’s water bottle, man. He ain’t been helpin’. He been sittin’ on his ass, and ain’t nothin’ wrong with him. He ain’t hurt.”

Mulder turned to the other man. “Did you take this man’s water bottle?”

“I ain’t steal nothin’ wasn’t already mine,” the accused man promised.

Mulder shook his head. “I’ll get your kid another water bottle, okay?” he said to the man, and when he nodded he was about to release the man, but the accused man yelled, “Yeah, that’s right, ‘n if you come after me again, I gonna woop yo’ ass.” This resulted in Mulder having to tighten his grip on his detainee as he led him away from the loudmouth.

“Listen,” he told the man in a low tone, “I believe that other man is on drugs. You need to stay away from him. Okay?” Psychology told him that a calm tone and rational thought would deflect most people’s anger.

He released the man and he nodded, his expression still angry.

“There are more water bottles in that sporting goods store. Go get one for you and your kid. Can I trust you to do that?”

The homeless man shook his head. “Naw, man, ain’t nothin’ left in there. It’s been empty for a minute now.”

Mulder sighed. He looked around. “Go to the McDonald’s. If they’re out, then come find me and I’ll pick the lock on another restaurant so we can get more water.”

The man nodded and said, “I just tryin’ to defend my kid.”

“I understand. Just leave the law enforcement to us, okay?”

Again, the homeless man nodded and walked away. Mulder sighed and saw that the man who had detained the loudmouth was still holding him, awaiting Mulder’s return. He walked back over to the two and asked, “Is it true that you haven’t been helping?”

“Ain’t gonna do nothin’ if I don’t get paid,” the man slurred.

He knew it was irrational, especially since it seemed this man didn’t have use of all his faculties. But what he said really angered Mulder. He got close enough to smell the stench of alcohol and body odor, and said, “Look around, Buddy. You think any of us are getting paid?”

He shook his head before he got an answer, and turned to the man holding him. “Let him go.” He turned back to the detainee as he stumbled forward. “You sit down and shut up. If you don’t want to help, you don’t get to move around,” he ordered forcefully, and ‘helped’ the man sit down against the wall. “Stay there.” He walked away, taking a deep breath and trying to clear his head.

Scully intercepted him halfway back to the triage area. “What was that all about?”

“A bottle of water. How are we doing on supplies?”

“The sporting goods store is almost empty,” she said. “I’ve used everything I can get my hands on to fix people up…I even performed some minor surgery on one of our volunteers to extract a piece of glass from an artery. But I don’t want to use too much of what’s in those first aid kits, because once they’re gone, there’s probably not another sporting goods store in this mall.”

“At least not one we can get to,” Mulder stated. He glanced back at the pit where the trains were still. “I need to talk to you in private.”

She snorted. “Good luck. We’ve got about a hundred people in here, Mulder, and space is an issue.”

“We need to find a place to speak,” he reiterated. “Sooner rather than later.”

Seeing that he was serious, she nodded and looked around. “Let’s pick the lock on that Gymboree and go in the fitting room.” He smirked, and she rolled her eyes. “Oh, stop,” was all she said to him as she led the way to the children’s clothing store.

Once they were inside, Mulder pulled out Matt’s phone and his own. “There’s no reception anymore.”

“I know, it must be the train’s emergency broadcast that’s blocking it out.”

“That’s a possibility,” Mulder agreed. “But the other possibility is that someone sabotaged that train and that they’re jamming our signals.” The signature elevated eyebrow told Mulder that he was going to have to explain. “Just before I lost the signal, I got through to 911. It was over an hour ago now, and they still haven’t gotten personnel in here. Has anyone gone to the back entrance to see if it’s open?”

She shook her head. “It collapsed. The structural integrity of this mall is definitely questionable, Mulder. I’m a little leery of anyone rappelling down to the trains a second time…they may not be able to get back up, and I’m actually surprised you were able to.”

He sighed.

“But you didn’t tell me you got through to 911. What did they say?”

“They said there were three 911 calls on the train about a suspicious-looking man in a subway maintenance uniform. And there were some…strange…observations about his skin color.”

“What, was he Arabic?” Scully asked.

“No. I think he was a zombie.”

Mulder was always good at monotone comedy, but it didn’t appear to Scully that he was kidding. She stared at him, reflecting that even at a time like this, his mind never stopped thinking about the fantastic, and then formulated a response. “What in his skin color suggested that he may be among the living dead?” she managed to ask with just a slight twitch of her lip.

“Gray, green, and blue were the colors cited. And none of those fit on the normal skin color wheel. Now, provided the lighting in the train car was bad, and the man was drunk or ill, that would explain it. But that doesn’t explain what I saw.”

“You saw the zombie?”

“For just a second, yes.”

She shook her head. “Mulder, we haven’t tested the air quality down there. If you had just opened a window, you could have been breathing in fumes. And the lighting is terrible. And you’re high on adrenaline. And—”

“And I know exactly what I saw. He jumped up from the train car floor when everyone else was either unconscious or dead. And then he managed to get out of my sight and into the next train car, but we can’t reach it because it’s buried under the floor.”

“Doctor Scully!” a voice beckoned from outside the store. “We need you quick! There’s a guy with his head cut open real bad!”

She sighed, and stood up. “What did you see down there other than the zombie?”

“Unconscious or dead passengers. We can get them out, but it’s going to take some doing.”

She shook her head. “We have people we can definitely save up here—plenty of them. And the structural integrity of the building—”

“I agree, now that you bring up that point. No one goes back down. Especially not with a zombie down there. I’m pretty sure they don’t climb…”

Rolling her eyes, she exited the fitting room and rushed out to survey the situation. There was a homeless man across the food court, on the ground with a head abrasion. People were gathered around him but not getting too close.

She ran over, and Mulder followed closely behind. “Oh, God…I know that guy. That was the loudmouth guy that took some kid’s water bottle and started the fight.”

Scully looked behind for just a moment and frowned before she stopped in front of the man and stooped down, examining the damage. “The skull is fractured…torn open. Everybody get back!” She yelled. “Twenty feet at least! Jeremy,” she spoke to the volunteer closest to her, “Go find some tape or something and tape this area off.”

“You got it,” the man answered and ran away.

Scully turned back to Mulder. “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

“It looks like an animal attack,” he commented in a low tone and squatted next to the man’s head. “I take it he’s dead?”

She just glanced at him, as if to say ‘what do you think?’ There was brain matter at the front of his scalp.

“Whatever was used to do this must have left a mess. But everyone’s walked all over the crime scene,” she said in annoyance.

Mulder looked around for the blood trail. “Right here. This way. I’ll follow it.”

“I’ll get Tara to guard this area while I treat the live patients. Be careful, Mulder. Take someone with you.”

He grabbed two spectators in the crowd who looked like they could handle backing him up and told them to follow him, and he drew his gun as he followed the blood trail.

Only moments later he came to a dead end, though. The blood trail seemed to end on the crevice of the drop that led to the train, and there was no body at the bottom.




DECEMBER 24th, 2010


“Here you go,” Matt said, sitting down cross-legged in one motion next to the little girl, who was now sitting up against the wall. He handed her a water bottle he had obtained from the Mexican restaurant next to the McDonald’s. Scully had picked the lock about a half hour before then, as the McDonald’s was out of water.

Christmas music was playing on a radio not far away. They had opened one radio from the sporting goods store in the hopes of getting local information on rescue efforts, but reception was so terrible that it was either Christmas music or some kind of Russian talk show. It was better than nothing.

“Where’s my mommy?” The girl asked Matt again.

“Well, like I said,” Matt explained slowly and patiently, “we don’t know who your mommy is. We need you to tell us her name and then we can see if we can find her.”

“Her name is Mommy,” the girl insisted, and drank some water. She frowned. “My head hurts.”

“I know. I told my Aunt Dana and she said there’s no children’s Tylenol. Sorry,” he said apologetically. “Maybe she should come over here…” he stood up and waved her over, and she held up a finger, indicating that it would be a few minutes.

He sat back down. “Other than your head hurting, how do you feel?”

“I’m tired,” she complained. “I’m hungry too.”

“Do you want some apples? We’ve got some apples in the McDonald’s. I can go get some.”

She nodded, and added, “And a toy?”

He laughed. “Sure, I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”

A moment later, he returned with a package of apples from behind the counter and a small toy, which he took out of the plastic baggie for her. It was a stuffed monkey whose arms wrapped around to grip something. He showed her how it worked, and then handed it to her. “What are ya gonna call him?” he asked playfully.

“George,” she said immediately. “Like Curious George.”

“That’s a good name,” Matt agreed. “Hey, my name is Matt by the way. What’s yours?”

She frowned, and then looked up at Matt as if afraid of him. “I’m not supposed to say my name to strangers.”

“But I’m not a stranger. I’m a kid, like you. A bigger kid, but I’m gonna take care of you. So you can tell me your name.”

She seemed to consider her options before she decided to trust him. She ate an apple and wrapped the monkey around her index finger, and then said, “My name’s Chelsea.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Chelsea,” Matt said, and extended his hand.

Chelsea stared at it for a moment before she realized that she was supposed to shake it. She took his hand and shook it once, and then let go. Matt grinned. “So how old are you?”

“I’m four, how old are you?” she asked.

“I’m twelve,” Matt answered.

“You’re very big,” she decided.

He laughed. “I’ve got a little sister who’s six. She’s just a little bigger than you. You kinda look like her.”

She shrugged, and ate another apple. “Where’s my Mommy?” she asked.


He frowned. This was the third time she had asked the same question. He answered again, patiently and in the same tone. Thankfully Scully arrived and squatted down, smiling at the preschooler. “Hey, there,” she greeted. “I’m a doctor. My name is Dana. What’s your name?”

“You can tell her too,” Matt said. “She’s my aunt. She’s nice—she’s not a stranger.”

“My name’s Chelsea,” the little girl said. “And this is Matt,” she introduced.

Scully grinned. “It’s nice to meet you, Chelsea,” she said. “Do you mind if I shine a light in your eyes for a second? I want to give you a checkup.”

“My head hurts.”

“That’s what Matt told me. I’m going to make sure it’s going to get better. Okay?”


“Alright, now this won’t hurt but it might make you see some spots.” She shined the light in the girl’s eyes and made a funny face to make her look. Chelsea giggled in response. “Reactive but unequal. The right one is slightly bigger than the left one,” she said to Matt. “That means the concussion is more than just mild, but it’s not very dangerous.”

He nodded in acknowledgement. “She asked the same question a few times.”

“Sometimes preschoolers do that,” Scully told him. She then turned to Chelsea and explained, “I’m going to feel your head, okay? I want to see if there are any bumps.”

“Will it hurt?” Chelsea asked.

“It might hurt just a little bit, but you tell me if it does, and I’ll stop. Okay?”

“Okay,” she agreed.

Scully felt the girl’s head more thoroughly this time, and found a bump that was not there a few hours ago. The girl jumped and said, “Ouch!”

“I’m sorry,” the agent apologized and took her hands away. “I won’t touch that again.” She turned to Matt. “I think we found our culprit. Her head was probably hit in the front and the back during the crash. That could result in a relatively serious concussion for a young child. We want to keep an eye on her, keep her talking. Don’t let her go back to sleep.”

“She said she’s tired,” Matt said.

“Well, it shouldn’t be too much longer before we get Rescue in here. I want you to tell her a story, keep her up. Keep her talking. Just until we can get her in a CAT scan and make sure nothing’s been knocked around in there too badly. Okay?”

Matt nodded.

“Chelsea,” Scully said, and the girl made eye contact with her, “I want you to listen to Matt tell stories and I want you to stay awake. Okay? You’re probably tired, but you can’t sleep. It’s important that you don’t go to sleep until a doctor says it’s okay. Alright?”

She frowned, but nodded.

“Okay,” Scully patted her knee gently and stood up. “If you feel sick in your tummy, or you hurt anywhere else, you tell Matt, okay?”

She nodded again, and said, “Thank you, Doctor Dana.”

Scully smiled. The child was very cute, and was impossible not to smile at. “You’re very welcome, Chelsea. It was my pleasure. I’ll see you later.”

Chelsea turned to Matt and asked, “What stories are you gonna tell?”

Matt edged his way closer to the wall and leaned back, taking out a granola bar from his pocket and opening the wrapper. “Well, you know what tomorrow is?”

“Tomorrow’s Christmas,” Chelsea said.

“That’s right. I guess you’ve probably heard the story of Christmas, huh?”

“It’s a good story,” Chelsea said with a nod.

Matt laughed. “Yeah, it’s a really old story. Well, I’ll tell it like my Sunday School teacher told it. He’s pretty cool. So once upon a time, there was a mother named Mary, and she was going to get married to this guy named Joseph, but they weren’t married yet…”

Matt went on to tell the whole story in great detail, including Herod’s mandate that all the babies be killed, and the new family’s midnight journey away from Bethlehem, to Nazareth. He took a few liberties as well, adding some ninjas and a dragon for good measure.

He finished with, “And so the baby Jesus grew up with his parents and the next exciting thing didn’t happen until he was eleven and he ran away from home.”

“Wow,” she said. “I never heard anyone tell it like that before.”

“Who told it to you before?” Matt asked.

“My mommy. She told it to me when we was under the bridge. I liked under the bridge. But we had ta move because Mommy said there was mean people there.”

Matt was surprised. This little girl was homeless after all. Her mother and she had come here for a Christmas Eve dinner and possibly to get presents Christmas morning. The donations, he knew, were mostly destroyed. So now her only present was this little monkey he had taken from behind the McDonald’s counter. Tomorrow morning he would be home in his house, hopefully, if the rescue workers got there soon. There were presents under the tree already, and some that were unwrapped because Claire still believed in Santa Claus.

“What’s wrong, Matt? Why are your eyes wet?”

Matt looked down and used his dirty sweatshirt to dry his eyes. “I’m uh…I’m allergic to dust.”

“Does dust make you sad?”

He laughed, and looked up. “No…I mean…I’m just…” he stopped, and looked at this little girl. “I just wish we could all go home.”




DECEMBER 24th, 2010


Scully stepped back and stretched her back, sighing and closing her eyes. That was it. The rubble on the upper level had been cleared as much as was possible without causing a structural collapse. There were fifteen bodies plus the one murdered individual. She counted forty people in the triage area, only eight of which needed medical attention immediately. Most of the people in the triage area were now simply resting from exhaustion.

She had inquired about the McDonald’s teenage employees turning on some cooking equipment and making some food, but Mulder and a few others had said that was a bad idea. Without knowing the condition of the pipes in the building, turning on any appliance that used gas was a terrible risk. She agreed. So they ate non-perishable food, raiding the McDonald’s, the nearly empty sporting goods store, and the Mexican restaurant. She eventually picked the lock on the Subway and some of the homeless seemed to take great pleasure in getting behind the counter and making sandwiches, especially the kids.

Mulder wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close to him, and she leaned her head into his shoulder. “What are things like on your end?” she asked, her eyes still closed.

“I’m thinking if Rescue takes much longer we might want to chance it and rappel down there. There are no signs of life in those two cars but if one of us could climb on board and get to the back of the train, there might be live passengers further back who are just trapped.”

She pulled away. “I know, Mulder, but it’s too dangerous. I’ve got two volunteers who are engineers who said that this building could come down if we dig any further into that rubble or even try to touch the back entrance. You realize how dangerous it would be to trust that pile of rubble down there to support your weight while you climb in a train that’s supported by the floor it crashed through?”

He sighed, and nodded.

“Any cell reception?”

“No. Matt’s phone got one bar a second ago and I tried to dial out but it went right back to no service. My phone’s completely dead.”

“Have you tried a text message?” Scully asked hopefully.

He frowned, and then his eyes popped open in recognition. “A text message uses less….bandwidth, or whatever…it might get through!”

He clicked Matt’s phone on and was about to attempt a text message when they heard a noise above. The ceiling was crumbling, and people started to scream.

Mulder grabbed Scully with his free hand and ran away from the ceiling, diving into the same alcove where Matt and Chelsea sat, next to the water fountain. It was the best hope they had if the ceiling completely collapsed.

Dust flew through the opening and the screaming and crying escalated until a large chunk of the ceiling was grabbed by two prying metal bars, and pulled away. They heard another blessed noise. Helicopter blades.

The screaming and crying turned into cheers. People leapt up and hugged each other. They jumped for joy, and then stopped just in case the floor caved in.

Mulder and Scully stood and jogged over to meet the first rescue worker who was lowering himself down with a cable from the helicopter.

Once down, he didn’t even have time to introduce himself. Scully pointed to the triage area and said, “I’ve got eight critical patients who need to be airlifted out of here immediately!”

He nodded and radio’ed it in. Mulder stood up on a chair and waved his arms to quiet everyone down as he began to explain evacuation procedures.

The rescue had begun.




DECEMBER 24th, 2010


The last person was lifted out. The rescue operations were in full swing below. D.C. Police were taking over the murder investigation. Mulder and Scully could leave.

By that time they had installed temporary reinforcements on the front entrance and cleared out the rubble that blocked the door. They could see the outside for the first time since the crash.

Unlike most of the people who were trapped, the agents left by walking out the doors through which they came.

“When I signed up to volunteer helping those in need, I didn’t realize what I had agreed to,” Mulder joked as they walked toward their car. It seemed strange to him that they would go home by car only an hour after they had originally planned to go home. It was even stranger when they stepped into the clean Ford Taurus that had a full tank of gas and Scully’s unfinished Starbuck’s in the cupholder.

She stared at it as well, but didn’t say anything as they started the car and were serenaded with joyful Christmas music.

“It’s like two different worlds,” Mulder said finally. “Normally there’s something in between, isn’t there?”

“You mean a hospital visit?” Scully asked dryly, and earned a laugh from her partner.

“Hey, you’ve got to give me credit. I didn’t get hurt at all.”

“Aside from the cuts and bruises, you’re right,” she conceded. “But you did see a zombie.”

“I stand by my previous statement,” he defended himself adamantly. “And it’s probably still down there!”

She chuckled and shook her head. “Mulder, you never quit.”

He smiled at his partner and asked, “Would you ever really want me to?” When she didn’t answer, he continued, “And you don’t even know that the zombie wasn’t the one who caused the crash in the first place. He did have a maintenance uniform on, and in the absence of any indication of a terrorist attack, it’s only reasonable to conclude that it was a maintenance or technical issue.”

She sighed, and rested her head on her hand as her elbow sat upon the ridge of the car door. She closed her eyes.

“And the zombie obviously was the one who attacked that man, because the blood trail ended down in the rubble, but there was no body, not that we could find. Zombies apparently do climb, which means every movie we’ve seen is wrong…Scully? Are you listening to me?”




DECEMBER 24th, 2010


Matt had taken a shower and slipped into flannel pajama pants and a new sweatshirt. He was exhausted and had climbed into bed to go to sleep when his mother cracked the door and entered.

“Hey, Buddy? You asleep yet?”

“Just got in bed,” he answered.

She sat down on the edge of the bed and combed his hair back. “You doing okay?”

“I’m okay, I guess.”

“That was some pretty scary stuff we saw tonight.”

“I know. I’m not a baby, I can handle it.”

She smiled. He was just like his father in that respect—brave, but proud. “You did very well. I’m very proud of you, Matty.”

He smiled back at her. “I’m sorry your Christmas Eve kinda sucked. I know you wanted to teach me what it was like to spend time with homeless people, but I sorta got to anyway…”

She laughed. “Yes, I know. You got to spend more time with homeless people than you would have serving them dinner. So in that respect, it wasn’t such a bad night.”

“Well, that’s the idea, right, Mom? I mean, the story of Christmas Eve and how Jesus was born but all that bad stuff was happening all around him? Herod killing babies and Mary being just a teenager and them having to run to Nazareth and stuff? But since Jesus was born, it was a good night.”

With tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, she kissed Matt on the forehead and said, “You are such a blessing, Matthew.”

He closed his eyes and said, “But Mom…how can we enjoy tomorrow morning? That little girl’s mom is probably dead. We never found her. What will happen to her? How can we be happy with presents…how can we be happy at all, when we know there’s so much bad stuff out there that happens?”

Her smile turned sad, and she looked down. “There will always be people less fortunate than us. That’s why we try to do our part, and volunteer when we’ve got time, and give when we have spare cash. We do everything we can to live our lives and help others live theirs. But Matt…this is a hard lesson to learn…we can’t go through life being sad about all the bad things that are out there.”


“Listen,” she said softly. “We cannot fix the world and make it perfect by denying ourselves everything we have. But we can make a difference one step at a time. One way to do that is to be as successful and happy as we can be, so we can take some of that happiness and success and give to others. By being sad and poor, we’re not helping anyone.”

He frowned.

“Another way to do that,” Tara continued, “is to never forget that sad feeling. To remember that sad feeling every time you feel greedy, or feel sorry for yourself. Because it will help you remember just how fortunate you are.”

He nodded finally, and closed his eyes.

“Go to sleep,” she kissed him again, and stood. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Mom.”

And that’s what Christmas is all about, Tara thought. Love.

The Hook

The Hook

By Martin Ross

Category: Casefile, humor

Rating: PG-13 for language

Summary: When an old urban legend seemingly comes to life in the Virginia wilderness,

Mulder, Manville, and the Gunmen go on a potentially lethal fishing expedition.

Disclaimer: Everybody in this little fishing party except Wallace Manville belongs to

Chris Carter.



“I feel like I’m gonna hurl,” Langly murmured as he huddled by the fire with his

comrades. The Gunman’s chiseled facial features were even more jagged and haggard

than usual in the dancing reflection of the spitting flame. His eyes, ringed in evening

shadows, were haunted, troubled.

“It’s all right, Langly,” Byers assured him gently. “You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Right, Melvin?”

Frohike glanced up from his enameled aluminum plate. “Naw. Nothing at all,” the Lone

Gunman’s ringleader grunted distractedly.

Langly straightened, eyes flashing. “Easy for you, asshole. You’re not a killer. You didn’t

have to look into those eyes, those cold, dead eyes, knowing you’d destroyed a life.

Gutting him, dismembering him like that. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same, man.”

“If it helps,” Mulder offered quietly, “he was really delicious. Right, Doc?”

Dr. Wallace Manville, former colleague of the notorious Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter,

nodded silently, his mineral eyes contemplating the full, pocked Virginia moon.

“God, and to think I joined in your gory little ritual,” Langly moaned.

“It was a trout,” Frohike breathed, sucking a sliver of piscine flesh from a molar. “Get

over it, Nancy. And your anguish would be a little more compelling if you hadn’t eaten

two of the damned things.”

“I am definitely going vegan,” the skinny hacker groaned. “I feel lousy, nauseous. The

guilt is eating my insides.”

Mulder tipped his canvas camp chair precariously as he retrieved a jar and a bag of

Doritos from between Langly’s Skechers. He held the jar to the firelight, scanning the

cheaply printed label. “I don’t think it’s guilt, Roland Martin. ‘Whisker-Lickin’ Cheese

Bait — Cheese, Brains, and the Whisker-Lickin’ Secret Ingredient the Big ‘Uns can’t

Resist.’ It actually says ‘’Uns.’ Langly, you finished off a half-jar of this crap.”

“It said cheese,” Langly squeaked. “It was right next to the freakin’ jerky!” He looked

down, eyes widening, and Frisbee-ed a dipped chip into the woods. “I ate bait! Jesus, I

ate fish food! Could that kill me, Doc?”

Manville continued to study the luminescent orb. “Depends largely on what kind of

brains they use. If it’s locally produced, it very likely contains swine brains. So bovine

spongiform encephalopathy shouldn’t be an issue, although I’m sure FDA guidelines of

specified risk materials would prevent–”

“Bovine what?”

“BSE, mad cow disease,” Frohike chortled. He turned toward Byers, who was vaguely

ludicrous in the fresh plaid flannel shirt and stiff jeans he’d reluctantly substituted for his

customary suit. “John, you take the first shift and make sure Langly doesn’t take a header

into the lake or start mooing at the moon.”

“Go milk yourself, asshole,” Langly snapped, sinking back sulkily into his chair.

“I was wondering why you bought that stuff,” Byers said, by way of an olive branch.

“Cheese bait’s generally for catfish, carp, other scavenging fish. I actually read yellow

corn is the ideal trout bait.”

“That’s a popular Native American option,” concurred Manville, the only experienced

angler in the group. His voice seemed to float serenely on the night breeze. “A ball of

white bread or cheese also is suitable. And, of course, there’s Eisena fetida — the Red


“The Cadillac of Worms,” Mulder quoted WKRP in Cincinnati. “So, Langly, if you were

scarfing cat bait all day, what were you using as bait?”

Langly scowled and dug into the pocket of his dingy windbreaker. He displayed a bag

full of colorful, translucent annelids. “The old dude at the bait shop said these were the

perfect lure.”

“Gummi Worms,” Frohike cackled. “Jesus, Ringo, you really are Roland Martin. Wilford

Brimley was yanking your ball sack. Shit, fish probably croaked from diabetes.” The

trollish conspiracy buff frowned. “Just who the hell is Roland Martin, anyway?”

Mulder sighed, washing down the last of his trout with a shot of Dew. “Maybe this

wasn’t the hottest idea for a road trip, after all. Just thought it would be a good

opportunity for some male bonding is all.”

“Dude, there’s hardly enough testosterone here to make a small Girl Scout,” Langly

scoffed, forgetting mad cows and Eisena fetida. “No offense, Doc.”

Manville smiled and shook his neatly shorn head.

“Just why did you invite us out here, Mulder?” Byers inquired somberly. “We’re hardly

the outdoor types — Frohike gets antsy around neon tetra. And, once again, no offense,

but the three of us and Dr. Manville, well, we’re an eclectic group, to say the least. Why

trout fishing on the Cranesnest River?”

“Yeah,” Frohike muttered, glancing anxiously into the darkness. “I can practically hear

banjo music and Ned Beatty squealing like a sodomized pig.”

Fox Mulder placed his leftovers on the grass beside him and folded his hands over his

now full stomach. Manville closed his eyes, still smiling. The agent shrugged.

“OK,” Mulder surrendered. “I wanted to borrow your expertise on a case.”

“Expertise?” Langly demanded. “I don’t think I’m gonna find a Wifi connection out here

in Deliveranceland. Why drag us all the way out here for a consultation?”

“I don’t want your technical expertise,” Mulder grinned. “I need your knowledge of

popular folklore, of American apocrypha. You guys are questionably the East Coast’s

leading experts on urban legends. Or, in this case, I guess, rural legends.”

Frohike’s eyes narrowed behind his thick lenses, but his brows beetled in interest. He

jerked his outsized skull toward Manville. “And him? I assume he’s along for some other

reason than teaching the Bassturbator here how to cast a line.”

“Eat me,” Langly growled.

“Dr. Manville here,” Mulder overrode, “is along to help us land a really big fish. Of the

human variety.”

“What’s the hook?” Frohike asked.

“How very appropriate,” Manville mused.


“A teen boy drove his date to a dark and deserted Lovers’ Lane for a bit of heavy petting

and labored breathing,” the psychiatrist and former CIA profiler began as the Gunmen

moved closer to the now-smoldering fire. “After turning on the radio for mood music, he

began kissing his girlfriend.

“Shortly, the music suddenly stopped, and an announcer’s voice broke in. It seems a

convicted murderer had just escaped from the state insane asylum, which happened to be

located not far from Lovers’ Lane. Anyone who noticed a strange man lurking about with

a hook in place of his right hand should immediately report his whereabouts to the police.

“The girl became frightened and asked to be taken home. The boy, feeling bold, locked

all the doors instead and, assuring his date they would be safe, attempted to kiss her

again. She became frantic and pushed him away, insisting they leave. Relenting, the boy

peevishly jerked the car into gear and spun its wheels as he pulled out.

“When they arrived at the girl’s house, she got out of the car, and, reaching to close the

door, began to scream uncontrollably. The boy ran to her side to see what was wrong and

there, dangling from the door handle, was a bloody hook.”

“Shit,” Langly murmured. “That happen around here?”

To his surprise, Frohike wheezed in merriment. “The Hook, Dweeb. You never heard that

one? Byers, you were a Boy Scout, right?”

“Junior Achievement,” the bearded former bureaucrat amended with a note of modesty.

“No one really knows the source of the folk tale,” Manville continued. “But it

proliferated in the ‘50s, most likely as a sexual cautionary tale for hormonal adolescents.

Naughty children meet unspeakable fates. The hook, of course, is an obvious Freudian

symbol – if you subscribe to Freud. One of the first public records of the story was in a

1960 Dear Abby column, where the escaped amputee was actually identified as a rapist.”

“Wait a minute,” Byers said. “Are you saying…?”

“Gus Shiveley, 63, truck driver with Parti-Tyme Snacks for the western part of the state,”

Mulder related, shifting into Bureau mode. “Disappeared from his regular route about a

month ago. Found him in a cornfield two weeks later, slashed to death — the truck was

hidden behind an abandoned barn nearby. According to the Dickenson County coroner,

the fatal wound virtually pulled the carotid artery from Shiveley’s throat. The weapon left

a distinct curved signature. See where I’m going?”

“The Hook,” Byers whispered, looking for all the world like the Scout he’d never been.

“Was this the first one?”

Mulder shook his head. “Something about the murder rang a bell with the coroner, and he

checked into the death of another trucker about five years earlier. Luckily, he wasn’t just

one of these political hacks with a scalpel, and he knew how to do a thorough p.m. The

first death was designed to look like a tire-changing accident, but the fatal wound to the

victim’s chest was consistent with Shiveley’s.

“The first vic, Alan Yost, was a cross-country driver for a sporting goods supplier. Also in

his sixties — coroner theorized the killer picked older, potentially weaker prey — but no

apparent connection to Shiveley. The coroner was about to let it go when they found

Dena Jo Hillock.

“Dena Jo, 74, and her husband, Fred, ran a limo service out of Baltimore — proms, visiting

dignitaries, weddings, et cetera — until their divorce 10 years ago. Dena Jo had a summer

cabin right around here — she loved to trout-fish. That’s where they found her a week ago

— on her front porch, her skull virtually split with what the coroner identified as a hook-

like weapon. That’s when he called the Bureau.”

“So your first thought for a destination weekend was to bring a computer geek, an

overweight hippie, a pasty Eagle Scout — excuse me, Byers, Junior Achiever, and a doctor

of psychology out to the middle of the woods for a game of serial killer roulette,” Frohike

suggested, incredulously.

“You guys said you were tired of shooting the fall foliage,” Mulder said. “Look, I am an

experienced profiler, Wallace here’s an ex-spook, and I’ve seen you three attack an extra-

large Domino’s like you were conducting a Mossad raid on a Hamas bomb factory.

Seriously, I have a theory, but it’s out there. And out there basically is where you guys


Langly scanned the nearby pines. “If one-handed serial killers are moving in, then I’m

ready to get a place in the ‘burbs.”

“You appear to be a little bit young for this guy — or gal,” Mulder reassured him. “Though

Frohike, you might want to stay close to the group.”

“Great,” the paranoid gnome rasped. “So what do you think this moron’s up to?”

“Serial killers fall into several basic categories,” Mulder began. “The first is the missionary


“Wouldn’t want to go doggie-style,” Langly giggled.

“Missionary killers believe their acts are justified on the basis that they are getting rid of a

certain type of person,” Manville amplified patiently. “Aileen Wuornos, the infamous

female serial killer, murdered men who used prostitutes. Often, the missionary is

motivated by racism, religious zealotry, or just some past abuse or slight at the hands of

an individual who becomes representative of a whole class or category.

“In this case, we could speculate that the killer lost a loved one in an on-road encounter

with a semi or came out the loser in a fight with an enraged trucker. Or given the solitary

nature of trucking, maybe we have a homegrown Wuornos — a prostitute with a heart of

steel rather than gold.”

“Hooker with a hook,” Langly breathed. “Kinky.”

“Step off, perv,” Frohike muttered. “Or maybe this freak is some enviro-kook out after

eighteen-wheeled gas hogs.”

“Diesel hogs,” Mulder corrected. “And calm down, Langly.”

“Just sayin’.”

“My second theory was that we were dealing with a Visionary — a serial killer who

somehow felt his deeds would achieve some ultimate societal goal. That’s actually where

your diesel hog theory would fit in. He or she’s killing old truckers for a single reason.

Maybe the killer believes they pose a greater safety threat on the highway. Maybe it’s like

the divide between the WWII vets and the Vietnam vets — the killer feels the old school

drivers are ruining it for the new kids. Except where does Dena Jo fit in?”

“She seems to be the wild card all around,” Byers suggested. “She’s a woman and has

nothing to do with trucking. Or wait. Was she ever in trucking?”

“Fred and Dena’s A-I Livery — unfortunate Flintstonian choice of names — was

incorporated in 1964. Prior to that, Dena was a hostess at a Baltimore nightspot and Fred

was the bartender. This wasn’t the kind of place where the out-of-town long-haulers

tended to hang out.” Mulder stared into the fire. “But there is at least one important link

between Dena Jo, Shiveley, and Yost — I confirmed it with the Dickenson County

coroner. Hey, time to break out the Smores. I bought dark chocolate — saw it on Iron


“Screw the Smores, Canteen Boy,” Frohike snapped. “What’s the connection?”

“Dena Jo Hillock, Alan Yost, and Gus Shiveley were all loyal, card-carrying, lifelong

members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The Teamsters is the nation’s

largest organized union — it includes truckers, rail and port workers, airline haulers,

garbagemen, and professional chauffeurs like Dena Jo Hillock.”

Byers planted his palms on the thighs of his too-blue jeans. “Mulder, are you saying this is

some kind of Mob thing, a union power grab?”

Mulder snagged Manville’s SIGG Anthracite thermos and poured another cup of Redbird

Estate-Grown Kona. “Dena, Al, and Gus were strictly rank-and-file, and the closest they

came to La Famiglia was the Sopranos DVD set they found in Yost’s sleeper cab. But

their age raised a flag for me, and I found an interesting tidbit in Dena’s history. I started

digging and came up with the possible link.

“Alan Yost was from Detroit, where the Teamster movement largely got its start. When

he was younger, it’s reported he wasn’t above swinging a bat or a plank on a scab or a

union-breaker. He ate, drank, and pissed Teamster.

“Gus Shiveley was a guest at a New Jersey union rally in 1962 — voice of the rank-and-

file — sharing the podium with several of the major Teamster honchos including Jimmy

Hoffa himself. He even had a photo shaking mitts with the Great Man himself on his

trailer wall.

“And by the early ‘60s, Dena Jo and her mate had virtually locked the limo trade in

Charm City — supposedly through Fred’s early mob friendships. They were the go-to

couple when some mid-level celebrity or high-level hood was in town.”

Byers gasped. Manville smiled at the moon. Frohike’s eyes narrowed.

“You going where I think you are with this?” the chief Gunman challenged. “Hook

Man’s not the urban legend you brought us out here to catch.”

“Different legend,” Mulder admitted. “Want to hear my profile of the killer?

“He was born in the early part of the 20th Century in a small rural town. When he and his

folks moved to the city, he was tagged as a hillbilly, and he quickly learned to talk with

his fists. By the Crash of ’29, he’d gained a rep as a tough character. He dropped out of

9th grade to unload boxcars for a major grocery chain. Thirty-two cents an hour was

terrific pay at the time, but he and his coworkers got paid only when they were actually

unloading produce and meat, and the foreman was a guy they not-so-fondly called ‘Little

Bastard.’ After a group of workers were fired for going to a food cart at midnight of their

shift, our friend staged a work stoppage — just as a shipment of fresh strawberries arrived.

Faced with a carload of rotting fruit, management buckled, and a legend was born.

“About a year later, our friend got into a fight with his foreman and quit his job. Before

long, he’d landed a job as union organizer for the International Brotherhood of

Teamsters. He used Detroit mob connections to shake down a group of small grocers, and

landed his first conviction and some heavy street creds. By 1957, he was Teamsters

president; by 1964, he’d organized nearly every over-the-road trucker in the United

States. But the Kennedys — John and Bobby — were out to nab him, and soon after, he

was convicted of bribery and sent away until 1971, when Nixon offered to free him if he

promised to stay out of union activities for 10 years.

“Our man was planning to sue to invalidate that restriction in order to reassert his power

over the Teamsters when he disappeared on July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of the

Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Oakland County, Michigan, outside Detroit. He’d been

due to meet two Mafia leaders, Anthony ‘Tony Jack’ Giacalone from Detroit and

Anthony ‘Tony Pro’ Provenzano from Jersey.”

“This is incredible,” Byers breathed.

“Ever since then, hoods and hitmen looking for a name or a book deal have been claiming

to have disappeared our guy, and the feds have been pulling up planks, concrete, sod, and

even a barn to find his remains.”

Mulder stopped then, and consulted his watch. “OK. Gentlemen, I propose we call it a


“What?” the Gunmen sang as one.

“It’s 8:32. He ought to be closed up by now.”

“Who?” Frohike demanded.

Manville drained his remaining Kona and rose. “The killer. The Crane’s Haven Bait and

Sandwich Shop closes at 8 p.m. during the spring. I overheard him complaining about his

counter guy being out with the flu.”

“Wait a minute, wait,” Langly protested. “You lost me. Somewhere around ‘Want to hear

my profile?’ You trying to tell us the old asshole at the bait shop is a serial killer?”

“Not a serial killer,” the psychiatrist stressed. “We — Agent Mulder and I — suspect he

went into hiding in the ‘70s. Some of my intelligence sources suggest he’d angered some

major mob chiefs, but he didn’t dare go to the Department of Justice. Probably had

nothing sufficient to trade for Witness Protection. So he disappeared, faking his own

abduction and/or death, and bought the bait shop and a new identity away from

organized civilization. County records showed the store changed hands in 1977.”

Mulder took over. “But as luck would have it, even with his advanced age, that cheesy

thick beard of his, and the seed cap he wears to conceal his famous hairline, Al Yost must

have recognized him when he dropped off a shipment of rods or lures. Maybe it was a

facial feature, maybe it was a turn of phrase or a gesture, but Yost recognized him. Our

guy probably tried to deny it, and maybe Yost winked and promised to keep his secret,

but he got worried and, that night, tracked him down.

“God knows how many old Teamsters he’s slaughtered over the years. Maybe just Yost

and Shively, the potato chip guy who usually dealt with the sick counter man. From

rumors I’ve heard, Dena Jo Hillock may have had even more intimate insight into our

man’s behavior and quirks.”

“But, but he’s at least 90, unless the smell of death was that huge cigar he was smoking,”

Byers said.

“Actually, more like 95. But a burly, well-kept 95. He’d have to be, in case some old

wiseguys stopped in for a Red Wriggler.”

“So what now?” Frohike asked. “We call in the cavalry? Confront him at the store?”

“Not necessary,” Mulder smiled. “See, Skinner wasn’t too wild about my theory, and

Scully suggested ‘a little snipe hunt with the guys’ might help me unwind. And what’s

old Fish Breath going to say if we show up with a pair of cuffs and a wild story?

“No. We’re going to put out the fire and turn in. C’mon, boys, bedtime, or no smores



Melvin Frohike cracked his spine, yawning, as he loosed a steady stream of urine on a

Virginia pine. He’d been unable to sleep after Mulder’s strange campfire tale, and fish

seemed to work on his bladder.

The Gunman shook some dew from the lilly, and zipped up. Then a beefy arm ringed his

neck, and he felt cold metal on his bristled cheek.

“Hey, pal, you ever hear of a comfort zone?” Frohike croaked.

“Shut up!” The voice was gravelly, cold, ancient but steady. “You guys shoulda stayed in

the city. All kinda danger out here in the sticks. Arggh!”

The source of the bait merchant’s argghing was a sudden inundation of light — the

halogen lights Manville had rigged at the edge of the clearing. The old man staggered

back, releasing Frohike, and Mulder stepped forward, gently tugging an object from his

rough, liver-spotted fingers.

The agent examined the tool. “A souvenir from your old Kroger days, unloading crates of

apples and sides of beef? Came in handy when Al Yost and Gus Shiveley threatened to

blow your secret. Did you feel any regret at all when you split Dena Jo’s melon?”

“I don’t know none of them people!” the old man grunted as he shielded his eyes. His

cap had fallen off, revealing a familiar Sgt. Carter crewcut. “You punks don’t know what

you done. I know some guys — some rough characters.”

“Me, too,” Mulder grinned, flashing his ID. “Assume the position, if you can do it

without breaking a hip.”

The old man began to curse, using language Langly later vowed to add to his everyday

lexicon. When the state police arrived, he gained his second wind, and sulfur remained in

the air after he departed.

Mulder displayed the meat hook he’d confiscated from the killer. As he turned it in the

halogen glare, the Gunmen stared at a pair of carved initials: J.H.

“How’d you know he’d come for us?” Langly asked.

“I dropped my line in the water this morning,” Mulder said. “See, when we stopped for

bait and snacks — or in Langly’s case, snack bait — I pulled a little switch.” Mulder

reached into his Eddie Bauer jacket and withdrew a plastic Ziploc. Inside was a short,

turd-like object with one rough-cut, burned end and one end chewed nearly to a pulp.

“Shit,” Frohike laughed. “You lifted his stogie.”

“No doubt saturated with his DNA which I intend to run through Quantico. But don’t be

shocked — I left him something in return. It took me a few days to locate an Internet

dealer and have it overnighted. I left it in his ashtray, where he’d put his butt.” Mulder

pulled out a quartered piece of paper. Frohike unfolded it and stared down at the

computer printout.

“You bastard!” the Gunman howled, handing the paper to Byers. Langly craned over his

shoulder, studying the picture of a weathered, yellowed restaurant matchbook. On its

face, in elegant Old English script, was a single word.



Scully blinked as the front door opened. She’d stayed up late to watch Deliverance on

AMC, but had fallen asleep before Burt and the gang could meet up with their rural

Welcome Wagon.

“You’re back early,” she murmured, switching off the TV and rearranging the couch

pillows as Mulder deposited his recently purchased tackle box on the kitchen counter.

“How’d it go?”

Her partner held up two hands roughly a foot apart. “I caught a trout this big. Langly ate

a jar of bait. Frohike is convinced he has West Niles. Oh, yeah. And we found Jimmy


Scully nodded. “Wonderful. You know those boots are going in the dumpster, right?”


Leprechaun’s Lair

Leprechauns’ Lair

Author: Starfleetofficer1

Summary: Mulder and Scully spend St. Patrick’s Day in the woods.

Category: MT, X-File

Rating: PG

Two weeks exclusive with VS15.

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.




MONDAY, MARCH 17th, 2008


“I can’t believe you dragged me out here, Mulder,” Scully complained as they

trudged through the woods, looking for the car.

“I’m sorry,” he said, clearly discouraged.

“Too little too late,” Scully told him. “And now we’ve got to get out of here and spend

St. Patrick’s Day waiting at the airport.”

“I said I’m sorry,” he told her, but she just kept walking. “The X-file was legitimate.

You even said so yourself. Skinner signed off on it.”

“I’ll agree with you that something’s been stealing valuables and most likely using an

escape route in the woods—”

“Only gold valuables,” Mulder interjected.

“Okay, someone’s been stealing only gold valuables and using an escape route in the

woods, but that doesn’t mean there are leprechauns, and it doesn’t mean that

walking through the woods will do anything to help us catch the man, Mulder,” Scully

said, exasperated. It had, after all, been an overnight stakeout, and they were both


“A thief using an escape route in the woods doesn’t explain the children’s sightings.”

“But the holiday does,” Scully told him firmly. She turned around. “You dragged us

out here in the woods to hunt leprechauns, Mulder, on the lead of a few children—”

“An entire fourth-grade class of children.”

“On some 9-year-olds’ testimonies, who during their St. Patrick’s Day picnic thought

they saw a leprechaun.”

“The teacher substantiated it, too, Scully. You read the reports.”

“I’m not arguing about this, Mulder. I agreed to one night, and we’re done. No

leprechauns showed up in this ‘hot spot’ you dragged us to.”

He frowned. “If this is about missing the parade—”

“It’s not about missing the parade! It’s about missing our day off, which happened

to coincide with a holiday, because you decided to get us assigned to a case! A case

that didn’t hold any merit!”

Mulder’s shoulders drooped slightly, as he repeated, “I said I was sorry.”

She exhaled, and turned around. “It’s alright. Let’s just find the car, and get out of


They started walking again, when suddenly shots were fired. Mulder dropped to the

ground with an ‘umph’ and Scully got down, drawing her weapon and aiming for the

direction of the noise. Another shot came in her direction and she actually heard the

bullet whiz past her head. She couldn’t see the perp, though, and so she couldn’t

return fire.

The fire stopped, and she slowly edged toward Mulder, but heard behind her, “Drop

the weapon, now. I’ve got a clear shot at his head. Drop the weapon or I’ll kill him.”

Scully had no choice but to comply. And when she did, she heard a bag dropped and

objects jingle inside. She was approached from behind and handcuffed, the gun

kicked away. Mulder wasn’t moving.

The perpetrator showed himself when he walked around Scully and turned Mulder

over. There was very clearly an entrance wound in his back, but no exit wound. He

was out, and Scully said calmly, “I’m a medical doctor. If you’ll let me—”

“Shut up,” the man said. He had dark brown hair, slicked back sloppily, and wore a

gold chain around his neck. “You two are cops?”

“FBI. If you keep me from helping my partner, it’s a federal offense. You’ve already

assaulted a federal officer—don’t make it worse—”

“I said shut up!” He yelled, and raised his weapon to her head. “You don’t have a

clue what you stumbled into, bitch. You and your partner are witnesses, and it don’t

matter what condition he’s in when I put a bullet through his brain.” He cocked the

weapon. “Maybe I’ll start with him and make you watch…”

But before he could get a shot off, there was a deafening bang to Scully’s left and a

neat hole right between the perp’s eyes. He dropped, instantly dead.

Scully looked to her left to assess whether Mulder was in further danger from their

savior, and saw a man with achondroplastic dwarfism, about four feet tall, lower his

shotgun. “Are you alright?” He asked in a slight Irish accent, clearly concerned.

“My partner’s been shot. Come over here, I need your help,” Scully ordered.

“Aye, one moment. Seamus, Kelly, Eileen, over here, now.”

Three small children, all achondroplastic dwarfs, ran out of the woods and toward

who Scully presumed was their father.

“Got a bit more help for ya,” the man said, and squatted near Mulder, next to Scully.

“You’re a doctor—how bad is it?”

Scully raised an eyebrow, but surmised he had heard the conversation between her

and the gold thief. “Keep the kids back. I don’t want them touching him until I say


“Back two feet,” he ordered his children.

Scully turned Mulder gently, and examined the wound. She had already checked his

breathing, and his pulse. “He’s breathing, his pulse is weak but there…bullet entered

near his kidney.” She looked at the man, and asked, “What’s your name?”

“Patrick Finnegan, me friends call me Fin.”

“Alright, Fin, I need you to take your shirt off. We need to stop this bleeding. Then

you need to send your kids to the roadside with my cell phone and have them dial

911. Can you do that?”

“Aye, I can, but I’ve got a better solution.”

Scully sighed impatiently as she held Mulder’s back. She had turned him on his side,

and was now applying pressure on the wound with her hand. “What?”

“We’ve got a place with real medical supplies not far from here. We’ve also got a

fold-out stretcher in that bag Seamus is carrying.” He nodded to his eldest son.

“He needs hospitalization. He might have organ damage,” Scully argued, trying to

control her voice. Didn’t this man know how serious this was? Mulder could die.

She didn’t have time to argue with him.

He took off his shirt and handed it to her, revealing thick red hair on his chest. “Ya

need to listen to me, Agent. He won’t make it till the ambulance can get this far.

It’s further to the road than it is to my place. Me wife, she’s a doctor. D’ya

understand? The two of ya, you can save him.”

“He needs surgery.”

“We have a sanitary station. It’s an outpost.”

Scully couldn’t help but wonder why they had a ‘sanitary’ surgical station in their

‘outpost’ for a house. But she didn’t have time to argue. “Fine, do you have a


“Aye, but ya won’t need it. Come on, Agent, we need to hurry. Seamus,” he barked.

“Take that stretcher out.”

The boy complied, and unfolded it to its full length. Then he stretched it out on the

ground behind Mulder. Scully wrapped Fin’s shirt around Mulder’s wound and then

eased him gently onto the stretcher. She took the back, and Fin took the front.

They lifted him with some difficulty, the stretcher tilted because of the size

difference. The kids automatically helped support the bars from the middle. The

youngest one, Eileen, couldn’t stop staring at Mulder. Scully tried to smile. “It’ll be

alright,” she said, more for herself than for the small child.

Eileen looked at Scully and said in an adorable Irish brogue, “Me mama can fix him

up, Agent, don’t worry.”

“Shannon’s a surgeon,” Fin said. “You and she can extract the bullet, then we’ll call

an ambulance when he’s outta the woods.”

Scully nodded absently. It was only a fifteen minute trek, before they reached the

small clearing with a cottage that looked like it had been built by a professional

craftsman. They carried Mulder up the front steps and a woman, about four feet tall,

opened the front door. “Oh, goodness,” she said, in an Irish accent that matched

her husband’s.

“You’re a surgeon?” Scully asked her.

She nodded. “I specialize in nerve damage, and I’ve got a certification in

anesthesiology. Move him over to that table inside, in the sterile section. I’ve got

running water, and soap, we can sterilize our hands in. You, what’s your name?”

“Scully, Agent Dana Scully.”

“FBI, interesting,” the woman said, but Scully’s perplexed look was instantly replaced

with a concerned one when Mulder moaned, and opened his eyes.

They set him down on the sterile table in the living room and Scully instantly went to

him. The children crowded around, but Fin pushed them back to give Scully space.

“Hey,” she said softly. “Mulder, can you hear me?”

“Mmm,” he said, face contorted in pain. “Where…where are we?”

“A cottage in the woods. You were shot, Mulder. I think the bullet’s in your kidney.

We’re going to do emergency surgery—these people, this woman is a surgeon. We’ll

have to give you anesthetic. Do you understand?”

“Mmm hmm,” he said, and then looked at the people around him. He smiled. “We

found ‘em.”

Scully couldn’t give him a disapproving look for his inappropriate comment, not with

him in this condition. But she was thankful they had no idea what he was talking


“Mr. Mulder, my name is Shannon Finnegan, and I’m here to help you. I’ve got to

give you an IV with some anesthetic in it, and then we’ll turn you on your side to

remove the bullet and close any damage. Do you understand?”

“Yeah,” he said, and then coughed, and grimaced in pain. Scully held his hand.

“You’re going to be fine,” Scully said.

“Me mum’s the best,” Seamus said. “Ya don’t have much ta worry about, Sir.”

He smiled. “We found ‘em,” he stated again before Shannon started the IV, and

showed the liquid to Scully.

“Anesthetic. Satisfied, Agent Scully?”

“Yes, do it,” Scully ordered her, hoping to speed up this process.”

Shannon injected the anesthetic, and then pointed to her sink. “Sanitize yourself,

and grab two aprons. I’ll get my medical kit. We need to move fast. He’s got

internal bleeding and we need to close the wound.”

Fifteen minutes later they were well on their way. Scully couldn’t help but think

repeatedly, I can’t believe I’m doing this. I can’t believe I agreed to this.

But Shannon seemed to know what she was doing. They got the internal bleeding

under control, and for some odd reason, they had a bag of Mulder’s blood type in

their medical supply cabinet.

It took them three hours to close the wound and another two for Mulder to wake up.

And by then, Fin had dialed 911 and had explained to Scully that they would need to

move Mulder by stretcher again. There was no way a car could make it through the

woods, let alone an ambulance.

Scully was exhausted with worry and lack of sleep by the time they got to the

roadside. She thanked Fin profusely when she heard the ambulance siren, and it

was a daze from there. She thought she fell asleep in the ambulance, and when she

woke up, she was in a hospital room with Mulder. He was still asleep. Disoriented,

she glanced for her watch to check the time, got up and stretched. She shook her

head, and rubbed her eyes as she sat back down again. Apparently still tired, she

fell back asleep.




MONDAY, MARCH 17th, 2008


Scully awoke to Mulder clearing his throat. She opened her eyes, disoriented again.

“Hey,” she said, smiling at him. “What’s going on?”

He couldn’t help but give her a puzzled look. “You’re asking me?” He asked, shaking

his head. “All I know is I was shot, you and…the leprechauns!” He suddenly beamed.

“We found them, Scully! What are they doing with the perp?”

Scully looked terribly confused. “What are you talking about?”

“The gold thief. The one who shot me. The leprechauns, Shannon—the woman who

worked with you during the emergency surgery?”

Scully just stared at him. “Do you have a concussion?”

He laughed. “Memory wipes! Oh, this is classic!”

“I’m gonna go get the doctor.”

“No, wait, Scully,” he caught her arm as she stood up. “Wait, I’m not making this up.

Shannon Finnegan, remember? I was barely conscious, but I can remember all their

names—there was Patrick, who likes to be called Fin. There’s the boy, Seamus, and

then their two little ones, Eileen and Kelly. You don’t remember any of this, do


She just stared at him, blankly. “I don’t know what’s going on, Mulder, but you’re

starting to scare me.”

“They must have put a memory imprint on me, and a memory wipe on you…they

looked like normal people though. Achondroplastic dwarfs, but normal. Normal

clothes, normally furnished cottage in the woods…the kids, they were all clean-cut

and Fin looked like he had a neatly trimmed beard. Don’t you find it odd that they

had a surgical bay in their house? And my blood type?”

“I’m going to go get the doctor, Mulder,” Scully said slowly. “I need to figure out

what’s going on.”

“Read my chart,” he insisted. “At the end of the bed, read it. Tell me what it says.”

She hesitated, but complied. She flipped through his chart, and shook her head.

“Are you sure I wasn’t knocked out, or something?”

“Why? What does it say?”

“It says exploratory surgery discovered a successful, recent, and emergency

procedure that removed a bullet from your kidney and completely sealed the internal

organs, repairing all damage. You received a unit of blood and a standard

anesthetic…Mulder, I don’t remember any of this! But my name’s on the exploratory

surgery consent form, and my statement as to the fact you were shot, it’s right


“See?” He said with a smile. “Leprechauns.”

“That’s ridiculous. I’m Irish, Mulder, and even I don’t even believe that.”

“Most Irish people view leprechauns as a degrading symbol of Irish culture.”

“That’s beside the point. I have no recollection of any of this!”

“It was a memory wipe. And I couldn’t possibly remember all of that from the state

I was in—I must have had a memory imprint. Call Skinner—you probably already

told him what was going on. And the perp is probably already in the morgue.”

She slowly reached for her cell phone, and walked away from his bed, toward the

window. She completed the call, and Mulder heard a series of ‘yes, Sir’, ‘no, Sir,’ ‘of

course, Sir,’ and ‘I’m not sure, Sir,’ before she hung up the phone, and turned to

him. “That’s incredible. Anthony Giorgio’s body was autopsied and the cause of

death was a single bullet to the head. Not my bullet. But Skinner just said it was in

accordance with my report.”

“Told you,” Mulder said with a grin.

She shook her head. “I refuse to believe that. I’m going to have them run a blood

test on me, make sure I haven’t been exposed to some kind of hallucinogen. Don’t

go anywhere, Mulder.”

He just smiled. “Fine by me,” he said.




MONDAY, MARCH 17th, 2008


Scully returned three hours later, utterly confused. The blood tests had shown

nothing wrong…

She walked over to Mulder’s bed, where he slept, and smiled when she saw a card

there. She didn’t know who it was from, though. She picked it up, and noted the

shamrock on the front.

Opening it, she was shocked to find a picture of a family. All achondroplastic dwarfs,

with a caption on the bottom that said, ‘From left: Patrick ‘Fin’, Shannon, Seamus,

Kelly, and Eileen Finnegan.’ On the card was written, “Ya owe us some Guinness,

Mulder. You’re welcome anytime. Just walk into the woods. We’ll find ya. The


At the bottom was written in smaller print, ‘Shannon thanks you for your help in

surgery, Agent Scully. You’re always welcome, too. Just remember to believe.’

Perplexed, Scully placed the card back on the nightstand and sat down in the chair

next to Mulder. She took his hand, thankful that he was going to be alright. Even

though she couldn’t explain what had happened, she wouldn’t stop Mulder from

dragging them into those woods again. She, for one, wanted some answers. And a

funny feeling told her that if she was willing to look, the Finnegans wouldn’t mind

providing some.


Leprechauns’ Lair by Starfleetofficer1


Echoes by truthwebothknow1

Rating PG , adult viewers , few bad words.

Keywords MT SA MA X file MSR

Spoiler. Amor Fati trilogy,

Written for the IMTP virtual season 15 and alludes to some aspects of canon in

those fics.

Summary. The Northern Irish coast has some secrets, some say echoes.

Not for profit and The X files belongs to cc and Fox. Auntie Katherine belongs to

me and is probably me in about 40 years LOL.

Dedicated To Joi who has been waiting way too long for me to finish her birthday

fic so you can have this one. It in time for this years birthday. 🙂


Belfast airport

15th March 2008

“I got hold of my aunt. She’s picking us up in about an hour.” Scully popped her

cell phone back in her jacket pocket as Mulder retrieved their bags from the


“That’s great, Scully. This is your Mom’s aunt right your great Aunt?”

“Katherine Tooley, yes,” Scully smiled widely, “ My namesake. Mom named me

for her but she in turn, was also named for another Katherine from way back,

many years in fact. My great, great great-grandmother Tooley. ”

Mulder grinned at his lover’s enthusiasm for this whole trip. She’d been in a state

of awe and childlike excitement for days and he found it so endearing. “Have you

ever met her before?” They were heading towards customs now, both of them

taking in the St. Patrick’s Day bunting and paraphernalia hanging everywhere.

They really took this holiday seriously here.

“No but I have spoken to her on the phone a few times. She was coming over to

visit Mom in Baltimore a few years ago but her husband Ned, died suddenly. She

has been alone since. Runs her small sheep farm out on the Antrim coast by

herself, does a bit of painting and stuff. Independent feisty lady.”

“Umm like someone else I could name…. who’s not more than a few yards away

from me”. Mulder’s hand gently cupped Scully’s cheek, rubbing a thumb back

and forth. She leaned into his touch as they waited in line to go through the gate

into the main concourse.

“I wonder who you could mean”, she giggled, slipping her arm into his free one

that wasn’t carrying his bags.

Once through arrivals they noticed more trappings of St. Patrick’s Day

celebrations. People bustling by wearing Irish tri- color scarves and sometime

the odd silly green hat. Mulder explained that this usually meant a Rugby Derby

was imminent and people of Irish descent were filing in from all over Europe and

further afield to watch the match. Scully seemed to lap it all up taking in the

sights and foreign smells. They found a luggage cart and dumped their bags into


It was good take a vacation now and then, to get away from the trauma and loss

of the last few months and just chill in a completely different place, somewhere

much quieter, with a relatively slower pace of life. Her aunt’s cliff top home

seemed an ideal place for her and Mulder to recharge their batteries before taking

on the slew of new cases Skinner had mentioned at their last meeting, before he

insisted they took some much needed leave.

Her aunt had been bugging her for months about coming over to spend a few

days and finally meet her. She knew Katharine and Maggie were close, and had

started talking a lot more via phone and email after Billy’s death, Now with her

other brother gone and Dana was the last one, it seemed her aunt was anxious

to meet the only surviving child of Maggie Scully before a cruel twist of fate took

her as well. Surviving family was important to Scully a lot more recently, so who

could refuse Katherine’s kind offer. Her mother had mentioned that she was a bit

eccentric and unusual. Right up Mulder’s street then from the sound of it.

She was so looking forward to this trip and she knew Mulder was as well. A week

enjoying her aunt’s hospitality then a quick jaunt down to Dublin to hook up with

one of Mulder’s old Oxford pals, a professor at one of the museums there seemed

just what the doctor ordered. She hoped he would be okay though as he’d started

sneezing on the plane no sooner than he’d clipped his safety belt in place. Just his

luck to get sick now but he assured her that it was nothing a slug of real Irish

whiskey wouldn’t cure. There was a plan for an excursion to the famous

Bushmills foundry on their schedule among other things, although Mulder

admitted that was partly coerced by Skinner who promised them an extra week

off if he could bring him back a bottle of the world class liquor all the way from

its Irish roots.

“You’ve been to Ireland before haven’t you Mulder?”

“Sure… er only the once. When I was at Oxford.”

“So how come I’ve never heard about this?”“ She teased as he led them both to a

place to eat and drink. All the travel and excitement of exploring a new country

had given them both a raging appetite.”

“Er, I don’t remember much of it,” Mulder admitted as he reached inside his

leather jacket pocket for his tissues.

“A group of us came over for a Thin Lizzy concert at the Point in Dublin. But……”

Scully grinned; she guessed what was coming by the look that passed over his

face. “But…? ”

“A couple of us had a few pre concert whiskies and we er…never made it out of

the bar. Couldn’t find the guy with the tickets either.”

“So what happened?” He smiled as the usual eyebrow manoeuvre came into play;

he wasn’t going to get out of this easily. Was that her usually inuendous partner

blushing. This was going to be good.

“Ended up waking in a part of Dublin called Ferrytown. Some joker thought it

would be a blast to dump us ‘mainlanders’ all down by the dockside. We were all

over from Oxford. I guess the old English -Irish rivalry thing, and I got lumped in

with them seeing as I couldn’t utter two intelligent words being shitfaced at the

time so they pegged me as English too. Guilt by association. Anyway next day,

massive hangovers all round, freezing rain and … pants.” Scully tried to keep

a straight face as he pantomimed getting a chill up his spine.

“No pants? You were mugged and they took your pants? Mulder …”

“….And well er… we were duct taped to a lamp post. Hey it was no fun and

fucking freezing…It was like a Stephen King horror version of the ‘Commitments’

only with crappier weather and no music…what?”

Mulder gave her a baleful, ‘ I’ll get you for this’ expression as his partner started

to laugh that silly, open laugh she indulged herself in on the rare occasions that

she felt really happy. Something suddenly dissolved inside him… almost a

flashback, a sense of gestalt and he looked at her stupidly, thoughts going in a

million different directions.

It startled him to realize that that hadn’t happened in a very long time. His eyes

started to well up and he thought with alarm if he didn’t get a hold of his

emotions he might start crying right here in the middle of a bustling airport. He

felt a small warm hand slip into his. “ Mulder?”

He sniffed loudly and feigned a cough before he looked her in the eye again.

Feeling stupid and overwhelmed and not quite grasping all the reasons why, his

hand squeezed hers back and he forced a smile. This vacation would be a good

one for them both, he would make damn sure of it. Whatever she wanted to do,

or go and visit they would do it. This was her time more than his, after all they’d

been through and all she had suffered on a personal level lately, his heart still

bled like an open wound for all that. He felt this need to make it up to her, to be

with her and enjoy just being like any other loving couple for once. The thought

of Aunt Katherine’s remote cottage with a real peat fire and warm nights

snuggled up with his partner under an old eiderdown listening to the sea crashing

wildly on the shore was very appealing. It sounded very old fashioned and

romantic… Something he desperately wanted to give the woman he loved with all

his heart. A chance maybe to redefine and enhance their relationship.

“C’mon, I’m starving, lets try out the local food seeing as we have a bit of time

before your aunt arrives.”

O’Malley’s bar was a cheery place and predictably regaled with St Patrick’s Day

shamrocks, cut out leprechauns and Irish flags. A large plasma screen TV showed

some kind of news show frequently interrupted by rugby scores accompanied by

bouts of cheering enthusiasm, and adverts for Guinness. Scully was mesmerised

by the quaint charm of it all and even more amused when Mulder came back from

the bar with two Irish coffees to go with their shepherd’s pies. Scully tucked in

with gusto, secretly glad he didn’t get her a green Guinness. Mulder had made

several teasing speculative remarks about what odious ingredients or chemicals

went into it to get it that color and it was starting to make her go green, never

mind the brew.

Mulder was enjoying watching her eat. She just seemed to worry less about what

she ate abroad and it was good to see her enjoy real food as opposed to the limp

lettuce bunny diets and fads she usually indulged in back home. He got the

impression from what his partner and Maggie had told him about Katherine that

the old girl liked to cook and look after her guests. It would be just great to watch

Scully getting some more wholesome food inside her and he wasn’t exactly

immune to the joys of home cooked food either. Make a nice change from take

out Chinese or pizza. Blowing his nose he looked around the bar. It was fun and

comforting in atmosphere but he didn’t have the heart to tell Scully that

O’Malley’s was a big international franchise, like an upmarket McDonalds or

Starbucks and there was one of these in almost every airport in Europe.

The real Ireland lay just beyond the airport confines and he made a silent wish

for Katherine to appear very soon so they could go start their vacation and

exploration of this alluring country with all its history and mystical Gaelic charm.

He couldn’t wait to meet Scully’s aunt and see how much of his Scully was in the

older woman. From all accounts they were all made from the same feisty, strong

and wonderful stock he knew and loved; the apples never fell far from the tree no

matter where in the world the woman in his lover’s family hailed from. It was an

x file in itself… okay a small one, he mused.

No sign of her yet, though he knew in his bones he would recognize Katherine the

instant he laid eyes on her. Scully’s sapphire gaze caught him pondering and

damn; she had eaten all her lunch and still looked hungry. He gave her his best

feral grin as he got up from the table.

“They do a great Death by Chocolate in here Scully,”

“I could really do a good Death by Chocolate right now. Bring it on Mulder.”


Aunt Katherine didn’t disappoint. She greeted them both warmly and enveloped

them with a gentle hug. Mulder grinned like a fool much to Scully’s chagrin, over

his casual profiling of the kindly white haired woman in glasses, the quintessential

wax jacket and wellingtons. She may have been knocking on 70 but she was a

tough well built woman, with a sharp mind and she had Scully’s eyes. She’d have

been a looker back in the day. Still was.

“Fox, Dana…. So glad you could come visit an old woman. At long last we get to

meet. I’ve heard so much about you from Maggie.”

“Oh Dear…” Mulder chewed on his bottom lip.

“No, no dear, to be sure young man, it’s all good. She always enthuses on how

much you love and look after my niece. Welcome to Northern Ireland. Come…”

“Well Mulder I guess I don’t have to introduce you. “ Scully laughed taking his

hand as they followed her out towards her car.

“ Of Course not, MF. Luder right ?” The old woman threw over her shoulder with

a wicked twinkle in her eye.

“Close your mouth Mulder. “ Scully teased her partner as he stared after her.

They stowed their cases and bags in the back of the rustic old Austin, which

looked like it had one wheel in the scrap heap but Katherine shared none of their

scepticism about its ability to fire up. Which it did. It sounded like a dull roar and

for an awful moment Mulder thought it might take off vertically, but Scully’s aunt

smiled sagely, inviting them to climb in.

Co Antrim coast road near Ballycastle.

Two hours later.

Feeling the effects of jetlag they remained snuggled up together holding hands,

mostly quiet in the back of the car just drinking in the March sun and enjoying

the rich scenery as Katherine drove through winding verdant hills and black

basalt rocky terrain, capped in the distance by the mountains of Mourne which

gave way to a patchwork of fields, steep outcrops and sloping valleys down to the

wild rolling waves of the Atlantic ocean. The sea almost came up to meet them as

they dipped down one hill and then the next until finally, a solitary white

stonewashed farmhouse with a dark slate roof came into view overlooking the

white rollers of the ocean. Mulder felt Scully’s infectious excitement and heard

himself gasp at the natural beauty of the place and wound the windows down a

bit more so they could breathe in the fresh salty air. In the fields behind and

adjacent to the sprawling house, a variety of sheep dotted the green pastures

and slopes painting a tranquil landscape. The wind was mild and the sun

streaked across the wide bay like jewels on white horses. There didn’t seem to be

anything else around for miles.

“There she is, Black Rock Cottage. It’s not really a farm, more of a small holding,

but we get by. I like it here, it’s quiet…. Mostly,” Katherine gave them a lopsided

grin and wink which Mulder tucked away for future reference.

“It’s lovely. Have you lived here long? ”

“ Oh a few years to be sure…thanks, just about home now. There we are,” she

took a particularly fast flip over the animal grid at the gate which almost made

Scully loose her lunch and Mulder started to sneeze, then they pulled up outside

the pretty farmhouse with a sort of afterthought lurching splutter from the

engine, It shuddered to a stop making gravel fly in all directions, just missing a

couple of geese and chickens which clucked in panic and dove for cover.

“Here we are then,” Scully’s aunt grinned, seemingly unphazed. “..welcome to

my home, it was our dream home actually…mine and your uncle Ned’s…..”

Katherine looked out across to sea a moment, suddenly somewhere else. Then

she turned and smiled remembering her visitors. Mulder was heading for the back

of the car. “Leave the bags there in the boot dear, we can get them later. Lets

get inside, you must be tired the both you. Need to get the dinner on and some

tea in yous.”

“Boot?” Scully looked to Mulder for guidance.

“She means the trunk.” He whispered back, giving her ass a playful slap as she

walked alongside him.

“Ah okay. Stop that already.” But he just gave her one his best fake puppy dog

wounded looks.


Once inside the house a large fat black Labrador ambled over and tried to taste

them all, pleased to see his mistress but also equally ecstatic about the two

visitors. Mulder crouched down and happily found himself surrounded in slobbery

doggy kisses. What a big kid, Scully thought. She knew Mulder would love getting

a dog of their own and they had toyed with idea a few times but with their

schedule and frequent trips out of town…..

“That’s Merlin. Fat, overfed little bugger isn’t he? Down boy, let’s not lick our

visitors to death. I’ll put the kettle on. Dana your poor man sounds like he needs

something hot inside him. Please make yourselves at home. My house is yours.

Loo is that way to the left,” She gestured wildly out into passageway that led to

what looked like a large conservatory. “Can’t miss it, it’s the one with ‘Oirish

Embassy’ on the door.” Mulder bit his lip to keep from coughing and snickering

at the same time. This was going to interesting.

“I already got something hot,” he leaned over and whispered to Scully who

retaliated by poking him in the ribs and mouthing ‘behave’ at him.

“What’s that?” Katherine asked, giving them a playful look over the rim of her


Mulder tried his best to look innocent and suddenly found himself admiring the

old lady’s teapot collection on the dresser which was eclectic to say the least. A

Dragon candle and a little china alien sat next to each other on one shelf. The

alien wore a green trilby and appeared to be smoking a spliff. He almost gave

himself whiplash as he did a double take.

Scully blinked and grinned at her partner, after following where his eyes were

looking, her hand snaked around his back in delight and she gave him a squeeze,

watching as Katherine set three mugs aside and then put the kettle on the

already heated Aga.

“Everyone okay. Dana, Fox… ? Tea or Coffee……? Think I got some camomile or

peppermint somewhere…”

As if on cue Mulder started to cough and splutter and Katherine shooed them

both along the passageway into the bright spacious living room.

“Thank you so much. You have a lovely home. Really cosy,” They both

murmured, looking around at the surprisingly luxurious surroundings. This was a

lot bigger than what Scully imagined. She’d always thought her aunt had a

modest lifestyle but this house was gorgeous and yet kept its country cosiness.

Perhaps she was better off than she’d thought.

Mulder and Scully tired and jetlagged from their flight took full advantage of the

stuffed cottage couch in the oak beamed living room with the massive stone fire

place. The soft cushions seemed to swallow them up like big marshmallows as

they sank back into them with a grateful sigh. Mulder sneezed again and his eyes

started to water. He gave Scully an apologetic look for being ill on their vacation.

She smiled back and kissed his forehead.

She was starting to get worried about her partner as he was growing increasingly

grey looking and exhausted. His eyes were closed as she sat next to him but she

knew he wasn’t asleep.

“Sorry Scully.”

“For what?”

“Getting…” sneeze …. “sick.” Mulder sighed as his lover smoothed the fever damp

hair from his eyes, he knew she was using it as an excuse to feel his forehead

and leaned into her touch. If she kept stroking his head like that he’d drift off to

sleep in no time.

“It’s not your fault Mulder. Although I think from the heat you are giving off right

now this might be flu, not a cold. I could fry an egg on your forehead.”

“Yeah, just my luck. Hey keep stroking won’t you G woman? Feels good.” He

sighed heavily, more relaxed now.

Aunt Katherine breezed in with a tinkering tray of tea and cakes, clearly delighted

to have someone to dote on no matter how many germs they were giving off.

Mulder cocked one eye open and spotted the chocolate cake. Homemade if he

wasn’t mistaken. Rousing himself, he sat up to inspect it further. Every part of

him screamed in protest, especially his back. He felt wiped but didn’t want to

seem rude as to fall asleep just after they arrived.

As he took his mug, he watched curiously as his host poured a clear liquid into

his tea. He looked up into Katherine’s mischievous gaze.

“This will help kill the germs and make all those nasty aches and pains go away.

Bloody airplanes tsk… tin cans full of nasty germs. “

“Umm, maybe but I think I caught this nasty at work. Our boss was lurking

behind a manly sized box of tissues and bottle of Cherry Nyquil all week… What’s


“Something strong… Irish.”

“ Unless I’m mistaken that’s the wrong color for whisky.”

“No this is better. Poitin. I make it myself. For all that ails ya.”

“You have a still? “ Mulder chuckled with delight as he lifted the mug to his lips,

blowing on it while Scully just looked bemused. The old woman grinned

knowingly but then looked slightly worried as her brain slipped into gear. “ Ahh I

forgot … you work for that FBI. Ooopse..” She pondered, muttering something

that sounded rude and Gaelic. “ Aw you wouldn’t be slapping the cuffs on an old

woman now would ya?”

To Mulder’s chagrin she offered him her wrists in supplication, eyes full of

apprehension. He laughed, and sipped gingerly at his tea, touching her hand

with his own to reassure.

The stuff had a real kick to it and he sipped more of it and felt better as it went

down. It was instant relief on his throat and down into his chest and he felt his

eyes water and nose clear for the first time that day.

“No no.. its okay… , we left our guns and cuffs back at home. Your er secret is

safe with us.” He indicated to the bottle for her to add a touch more and

Katherine tipped a little in. “Though we may have to arrest you if you say there’s

no more of that cake.”

“Would that not be a bribe now agent Mulder?”

Scully’s eyebrows rose but she grinned, thinking how wonderful and endearing

her aunt was in the flesh despite her predilection for illegal hobbies. She looked

forward to discovering more about her in the next few days and she knew; by the

entranced gaze on Mulder’s sleepy face that he adored her already. He even let

her call him ‘Fox’.

“No Tylenol for you Mulder, I don’t want to have to scrape you off the ceiling

later. “ She picked up the bottle of Poitin and sniffed it, recoiling when the potent

liquor stung her nasal passages. “ Well , I think from the strength of this stuff it

will have any bugs running for the hills in short order. Wooh.”

“Try some Scully…when in Ireland..” Mulder urged. For all of two seconds Scully’s

features creased as if see-sawing with some inner conflict.

“Umm, I guess we are far enough from the long fingers of the law. Maybe …” To

Mulder’s surprise and her aunt’s obvious delight she took a swig, then another

just to make sure. Her eyes went a curious shade of blue and widened until her

mouth formed a surprised ‘oh’ as the warmth spread through her. Mulder

watched in awe, shoving a large hunk of cake in his mouth. “..That was great…”

Came the squeak from her throat.

“ Good craic eh, winters are hard up here on the coast,” Katherine explained as

she put the cap back on the bottle. “ It’s a great place, paradise in the summer…

but aye, the winters are something else. You need a pioneer spirit to manage up

here and well…. my bones are not what they used to be. This helps a lot, thaws

out the marrow a treat. More tea? ”

Katherine, cleared away the last of the plates and mugs and vanished into the

kitchen. A moment or two later she returned and went through the ritual that

brought the fire to life, putting on plenty of wood and peat blocks to last the

night. The room upstairs hadn’t been used in a while. Not since…

She lingered a moment to watch the flames flicker over the room, off the many

crystals adorning her mantelpiece and more especially the faces of her sleepy

visitors making her lips turn up in a smile. It was late afternoon but bless, the trip

must have exhausted them, and Dana’s young man not being well either. Only

sound in the room was the grandfather clock’s dull ticking and Fox’s wheezing,

which seemed to be worse now then when they’d first arrived. She vowed to look

through her pantry and see what she could find to ease him.

Dana had mentioned to her in passing when they were in the kitchen that when

poor Fox got a cold now it almost always went to his chest. It bothered her a lot,

although her niece wouldn’t admit it but you could read it in her eyes as clear as

day. Maggie had mentioned the dark haired handsome man frequently in their

chats and in that same caring simpatico that one might their own child. Talked

about how much he loved her daughter and how his job always seemed to render

him injured and hospitalised a lot. Probably kept her niece’s doctoring skills sharp

and true. In just a few hours Katherine could see why he had captured the hearts

of both mother and daughter and was well on his way to snagging hers. Those

dark eyelashes like smudged crescents on his cheeks were to die for…

She sighed and picked up the tray with Merlin at her heels on the way to the


She’d leave them be for now and go make dinner. Something warming and

delicious. No takeout up here in the wilds, she thought with amusement. These

young professional couples today, too busy to eat properly and all that. She’d

soon sort them out with some decent home cooked food.

Scully wasn’t sure what woke her up, whether it was the worsening noises from

Mulder’s chest or that odd dream she had about a crack in the earth opening up

and swallowing her whole. A scream or loud boom seemed to punctuate things at

one point and she jerked forward with a start, her shoeless feet making contact

with soft carpet bringing her back to the present. Where was she? …oh yes.

Ireland, her aunt’s cottage with its many eccentricities and candles. Dream

catchers and crystals catching the sun, making dancing prisms on the stucco

walls. If it had just been a dream why were her ears still ringing? Jetlag her mind

supplied, just jetlag and excitement of the last day, weeks even. Probably the

prolonged flight that she wasn’t used to and that little pocket of worry about her

partner that was never far from the surface, but there he was, safe right beside

her on the sofa.

Oh she knew it was silly to fuss and fret over the fact he had a cold but each

year, now he was getting older and the accumulative effects of more and more

injuries meant that before when he would shrug it all off with just a sniffle and a

funny throat for a day or so, now she had to keep a close eye on him when it

went to his chest, since he’d had that last bout of pneumonia the doctor in her,

and the lover felt on constant tender hooks. She rubbed her stiffened arms and

touched where he’d drooled on her, then peered carefully at his flushed cheeks.

She couldn’t help it when her hand reached out to touch his brow anymore than

she could stop herself breathing. He was burning up, heat radiating out of him

like a pyre into the air. It was when she bent over him to undo his shirt a little

more that she saw it. A little black furry face peered out from under his right arm.

Scully couldn’t help but smile. She’d often told him he had animal magnetism and

this just proved it.

“You’re okay with cats aren’t you Dana? Forgot to ask your Ma. Not allergic or

anything?” Scully turned on hearing her aunt’s voice and smiled, shaking her

head. The old lady put down another tray of steaming tea and best china. Tea

seemed a panacea for everything, just like her Mom used to say but there the

similarity between her and her aunt ended, except for perhaps the eyes.

“I’m fine with cats; I love all animals, so does Mulder. No allergies… we’re fine

thanks.” She got up to help her with the tray and cutting the cake.

“That’s good then. Seamus was always a man’s cat.” She gestured to Mulder’s

sleeping form with fondness as she set the small table with the tray. “Ned found

him in a quarry as a small kitten and brought him home. They were inseparable

….” Scully watched her aunt’s eyes cloud slightly until they resembled the grey

sky outside, but only for a few beats. “I think he misses him. The scent of a man

and the way he would pet him…. Looks like he’s found a new friend there.” Her

aunt’s eyes lingered out at the sea landscape through the windows, momentarily

lost in thought. Eyes fixed on an imaginary spot in her memory only her aunt

could see. Scully turned away and let her have her privacy. Seamus opened one

languid green eye and blinked at her watching her intently, when Mulder started


The cat in question, sensing his warm sleeping spot might move at any minute

stretched his claws across his human cushion’s chest, jumped down and

shimmied around Scully’s legs before mewling and bolting off in the direction of

the kitchen where gorgeous smells were emanating.

Mulder stirred and didn’t wake but Scully, the doctor never far from the surface

went to check on him, placing her fingers gently on his wrist, observing how his

pulse jumped about in his throat. Oh Mulder.

“He should be in bed for sure. Looks done in. You look after that man… love like

that is a precious thing. Redwood among sprouts, think I heard the expression


“Yes, yes he is …” Scully agreed, smiling at the old woman’s expression, but her

touch never leaving Mulder wrist, wondering where she had heard that before


“Aye, I put you in the big room. There’s an open hearth up there too so you will

be nice and warm. Mild for March I know but nights can be glacial.”

“I hope we’re not putting you out of your bed.”

“Eh, No, it’s a big house but since I have to be up at the crack of dawn to tend to

the animals and birds I don’t want to disturb you. I sleep down here mostly. I

also snore enough to wake the dead. I wouldn’t wish that on me worst enemy.

Like sucking porridge through a straw, it is. ” Katharine gave her a knowing wink

on her way back to the kitchen. Scully brushed Mulder’s hand with her own

before standing to follow her.

“Thanks. Oh my manners, can I help, do you need me to do anything in the


“Eh, no dear. Got it covered.”

Once in the kitchen Scully reached into her pants pocket and took out her cell

phone. “I just looked at the time; I better call my mom and let her know we got

here in once piece. I never meant to sleep that long. All that heat pouring off

Mulder made me doze off. ” She frowned when it came up ‘no signal’. She put it

away again.

“Oh I’m sorry Dana,” Katharine turned to her while she stirred something on the

stove. “ I forgot to mention, you can’t get a cell phone to work for love nor

money up here. The house phone too is a hit or miss if it has a tantrum and won’t

work. One of the joys of living in the sticks. But..” she grinned as she waved her

cooking spoon in the air suddenly, “ We have the internet as you know. A

godsend here and keeps an old woman company when the nights are dark and

lonely. Why not email your Ma and let her know you’ve arrived. I’ll just go fire up

the lappy for ya. I’ll be in the study, you stir? “ She handed her niece the spoon

and wiped her hands down her apron.

“Thanks I will.” Scully took over the cooking duty and startled a little when she

heard someone behind her.

Mulder came yawning into the kitchen as Katherine vanished into another room

somewhere. Arms stretched above his head, he let his back and sore muscles

reach some semblance or normality, his spine noisily clicking into place before

yawning again. Scully thought he looked like hell, all bleary eyed and red nosed.

He grinned goofily at her. She loved him all the more then because he looked so

cute with a tuft of hair sticking up like a Peruvian guinea pig and rucked up socks

working their way off his feet. She pushed aside the urge to wet her fingers and

tamp his hair back down. Instead he slipped two warm arms around her waist as

she continued stirring the soup, rocking against her and nuzzling her neck with

almost day old stubble. She allowed her body to lean back into him, the furnace

like heat he was giving off felt good as it seeped through her skin and felt a pang

of guilt about that. She was worried still but at least he was up and about. The

proverbial walking wounded.


“Hey, yourself, good sleep? You okay?”

“Aha. Sorta. Whatcha cooking me woman?”

“Mulder….. if you value your testicles…..speaking of which, is that your cell phone

or are you happy to see me?”

“Umm, guess.” Hot fingers sought the edge of her shirt and he found skin,

tickling her midriff just barely. She almost dropped the spoon.

He loved it when she squirmed.

“You’re happy to see me or that’s not your cell phone? ….Which doesn’t work

here by the way. Katherine’s just setting up her laptop so I can email mom and

let her know we got here intact. You know how she worries… especially at the

moment.” Mulder squeezed her shoulder softly and they decided it was time to

check in.

“ Ack….féin truailleathóir ,” Katherine muttered none too quietly while

viewing a website on the current US elections. Shaking her head, she clicked

on a window and Bush’s grinning countenance vanished from the screen to be

replaced by a desktop image that made Mulder’s jaw drop and Scully start to


“ What the… Scully, please tell me that’s a figment of my fevered imagination?”


“Um…” Mulder pointed at the screen.

“ Ahh …” Scully’s aunt’s turned to them and her face broke out in a grin that

made Mulder think of that song, ‘When Irish eyes are smiling’ . “you mean

Melvin, my E-pal? Such a lovely man, I subscribed to his Lone Gunmen

publication a while back. We got chatting, a few emails back and forth don’t ya

know and then… one things lead to another and….well we… er have a guilty

pleasure.” She intoned like she was divulging a never to be heard secret.

“Oooh,” Mulder’s hand flew to his stomach, making a noise as if in pain while his

partner’s eyes blew up like saucers.

“We play Battleships on msn messenger on Wednesday nights. Keeps a lonely

old gal company he does a treat. Very intelligent, man, so charming and

knowledgeable too. A real gentleman. He also told me about a T2 connection for

faster surfing. Got one installed last winter. Just so when the phones go out in the

gales out we get up here we still have the World Wide Web.” The old woman


Did she really sigh at the end of that speech?

Scully stifled a giggle against her partner’s shoulder. It was surely the most goofy

and somewhat sleazy snap she had ever seen of Mulder’s height challenged

buddy, and the notion that he knew her aunt was just too funny on so many

levels. She was willing to bet they even swapped cheese steak recipes or Fro’s

asbestos chilli. She wasn’t sure at this stage whether Mulder would faint with

shock or break out into hysterics. He stood there open mouthed, chest heaving

slightly, eyes watering with the urge not to cough and his expression a curious

mix of stupefaction and mirth.

“Battleships? …..Wednesdays nights?”

Katherine gave him a coy shrug. “Aye.”

“Katherine… I think that as a serving FBI officer, it would be a grave dereliction of

my sworn duties for me not to warn you about the dangers of befriending strange

men on the internet.”

“And they don’t come much stranger than that one”, Scully quipped under her

breath as she stared at the grinning image of Frohike, giving his teeth some fresh

air, and that all too familiar leer. It was just too much. But it was when Mulder

whispered in her ear that his geeky friend was the original poster boy for

‘Leprechaun Life’ and beat Tom Cruise to the punch, that her hand flew to her

face as she suddenly lost all composure.

Katherine gave a curious glance first to Scully who was quite red in the cheeks

and beside herself, then to Mulder’s dead pan expression which threatened to

buckle any moment.

“Oh ya know him then?”


After dinner…

“You okay Mulder? “ Scully asked after her partner’s prolonged bout of coughing

after their meal, a big hearty stew with lamb and potatoes.

“Yeah… just tired but if I go to bed now I’ll keep you awake with my snuffling and

tossing and turning and I won’t sleep. Might get some fresh air before I turn in.

Katherine made some more tea and Scully watched her tip some more poitin into

Mulder’s mug leaving the bottle on the table. Anywhere else this would have

seemed so odd, the thought of illegal alcohol so openly displayed but here in this

wild corner of Northern Ireland amidst the warm charm and the company of her

eccentric, very, she corrected herself, relative, it all seemed so relaxed and

natural. She guessed Melissa had to get her new agey-ness from somewhere. She

wondered if her sister had ever met her aunt. She had been a free spirit and

she’d certainly travelled enough. Perhaps she could bring herself to ask…. In

later years when Melissa had been out of touch with family, little snatches of her

were very precious and Scully thought wistfully that it would be wonderful to find

a few tucked away here on the Irish coast she hadn’t yet discovered. Later.

Right now she was too concerned about Mulder; his cough seemed to worsen as

the hours ticked by. He was wheezing most of the time now. Good job she’d

packed her Mulder kit, she figured any hospital was probably some way from here

should the need arise. She’d grabbed some extra supplies at the airport drugstore

when they’d landed…just in case. Looked like it was a good call.

Her sick partner was almost dead on his feet but was currently deep in a study of

Katherine’s huge bookshelf. Literally a whole wall devoted to reading matter;

hardbacks, leather-bound rarities, everything and anything.

Scully could imagine him mentally cataloguing each book as he muttered the

titles to himself in his steel trap profiler mind. She loved watching him like this,

he was mesmerising at times. Like when they made love, every thought, every

facial expression conveyed so much about his soul. A million different nuances

crossed his features, she normally only got to see this intensity when he was

working a crime scene but tonight this was pure joy instead of the deep sorrow

she often saw sifting across his eyes. She sighed, long ago she realised that he

entranced her like no other person on earth. For the first time in a long time he

seemed happy too.

Tolkien, Von Daniken, Hawking, John Mack, Pratchett, MF LUDER, that last one

made his smile reach his eyes. Each new title he fingered or discovery, made

him evaluate and re-evaluate his wonderful host until this enigma that was

Katherine left an indelible mark on his heart. Mulder was always surprised and a

little startled when this happened as it was rare and unexpected, it gave him


It also made him curious.

What was Katherine doing up here out of the way in such a desolate spot? Scully

had mentioned that her aunt had originally come from Dublin but her uncle was

from the north. Sure it was beautiful but also lonely for an old woman all on her

own. She seemed tied to the place but something he couldn’t quite put his finger

on, like an invisible thread was holding her to this mystic land. If her literary

collection was a clue he felt a kindred spirit. So far, only he’d spotted the Bajoran

earring that dangled from the older lady’s left ear. The Vulcan salute he’d given

her by way of acknowledgement made Katherine beam from ear to ear and hug

him. He could just imagine the eye roll Scully would have made had she not been

in the bathroom at the time.

But what about Ned? His partner hadn’t been able to remember how Ned had

died, no one in her family had ever mentioned any details. It was like some

unspoken mystery, as if he’d vanished off the face of the earth…. like ….like Sam.

No he wasn’t going down that road. …… For once and it shocked even him, which

he was trying to avoid the paranormal….

He was bursting to ask questions but he had to remember this wasn’t one of his X

files investigations, this was Scully’s aunt and he had detected the tell tale signs

of some underlying heartbreak or melancholy about her that went deeper and

further back than the loss of her husband. Something he ultimately identified with

because of his own past. Empathic strands that streaked out into the ether and

latched on to other damaged souls like his as if magnetised. Like a quickening, a

wire in the blood…..

This lady was so motherly, like she lived to care for people…. Like his Scully,

came the little voice in his head.

Did they have kids? There was no mention save for the few mementos dotted

here and there around this house. A couple of things on the mantle in pride of

place that had the look of being crafted by a child’s hand. His mother had done

the same when his sister…at least until she could no longer bear to look at them,

or the things he’d made her.

He came back to the dining table and took a sip of his tea, forcing himself to try

and relax. Letting the warm potent brew ease down his throat and spread warm

fingers into his chest. Closing his eyes for a few seconds he took a deep breath

and looked up to find the object of his ruminations, and his lover gazing at him

with twin looks of concern.

“I’m okay really… the pair of you..,” he let out a small laugh and saluted them

both with his tea mug. Then he doubled over with a sudden attack of coughing

dropping the mug to the floor. Scully was at his side in an instant and guiding him

over to the couch where he slumped back against the cushions. “Okay. Perhaps

…perhaps I’ve overdone things with this cold.” His voice was a painful squeak

over his lips when it tumbled out.

“ Oh you think Mulder? That’s no cold. I want you in bed very soon.”

“Ooh Agent Scully, eager much. Going to undress me as well eh? Wanna kiss my

Blarney stone?” He whispered the last part all hot and breathy against the shell

of her ear.

“Mulder….” Exasperated, Scully flashed a look in her aunt’s direction only to meet

the older woman’s amused wink and dammit if she didn’t raise her eyebrow in

just the same way as his partner. Out gunned and outnumbered, Mulder thought

on the edge of another rib shattering cough.

Katherine chuckled and walked over to the mantle where she lit several long

white candles, an incense stick, and then carefully took a moment to select and

pick something up.

“Here Fox,” Mulder gave her a curious look as she opened her hand and pressed

the crystalline object into his palm. “Amber; good for the breathing. Just hold it

and let its energy warm you.”

He held it to his chest and unfurled his hand looking at the gold facet, turning it

over and rubbing his thumb down the hard edge. It felt tingly. His mind recalled

the dangling crystal held over Scully’s lifeless body by her older sister Melissa

almost a lifetime ago and felt a frisson of pain in the area of his heart. Still raw

after all these years.

The dog came whimpering into the living room about the same time the house

lights flickered, they settled and then stayed on. Merlin plonked himself down at

Mulder’s feet, a doleful look in his eyes.

“Wind’s picking up again. Going to be a foul night.” Katherine muttered, picking

up the broken mug and patting the Labrador on the head.

After a moment or two, whether it was the effects of the amber nugget spreading

tendrils of earth energy into his lungs or not, he was slowly starting to regain his

breath now and it evened out. Scully looked on, damp around the eyes with

unspoken apology, fingers on the pulse in his wrist with her usual trademark ‘ten

seconds and I call the paramedics’ stalker stance at his side.

Mulder wanted to kiss her stupid because he was ruining their trip but thought his

lungs might rebel again. Seamus suddenly made a surprise appearance and leapt

up on the sofa with a noisy greeting that sounded like a finger dragged down a

balloon, making them all jump. Green eyes blinked giving the human the once

over before camping down in his new male friend’s comfortable lap, purring away

like a motorbike. Mulder moved one empty hand over to stroke him, kneading his

fingers in the soft fur. Unbidden, he thought about stroking Scully…’oopse better

not go down that road either’…..the cats claws were digging in somewhere

delicate…..’um later’ he pondered. “Feeling better now.”

“You sure you’re not allergic to cats Fox?”

“No not at all. I just don’t understand it. Maybe I’m not used to the damp.”

“But it’s damp in DC Mulder.” Scully countered.

“Well maybe Irish damp is different…I dunno… I’ll be okay but we are going to do

all we said we’d do on this trip, Giant’s causeway, Bush mills, Dunluce castle and

our 7th President’s ancestral home…all of that. I’m ok. Really. Scully, life isn’t

about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

“Dancing in the rain will definitely put you in the hospital.” Sometimes he was

infuriating enough to chip her teeth … but then he gave her that puppy dog, doe

eyed look and she just melted. Reaching over she pushed a lock of damp hair out

of his eyes and he pressed a kiss to her fingers as they lay against his cheek.

He wished he had a hand to free to touch her with right then but he was addicted

to the cat’s purring vibration and it was soothing against his chest, as was the

now blood hot crystal. He was so exhausted and sitting very still and chilling

seemed like a good idea.

Scully leaned forward as if she had heard his thoughts and kissed his cheek. “This

could turn into pneumonia if we’re not careful …I don’t like this. The last time…”

“The last time it was different circumstances.. I got better….you’re a doctor, and

I’ll happily let you play doctor on me, you know you really get off on that,” He

quipped with a wicked glint in his eye. “ but I am not going be cooped up indoors

the whole time over the next few weeks either. We came all this way to Ireland

and I want to see it all with you, together. I’ll even wear an extra pair of

bootlaces if it will make you happy.. or borrow one of your aunt’s Arran sweaters

but I am not going be an invalid hanging about like a spare wiener at a bar


Katherine cleared her throat, hands on her hips, doing a pretty decent impression

of Maggie Scully. “Men! You silly bugger. Your uncle Ned used to be that mulish

too. Remember that for future reference Dana, a kick up the arse does wonders.”

Scully gave her a kilowatt smile at that notion. “Trouble is he’d like that too

much, especially if I wore my six inch heels.”

“ Oohh, You know me so well G –woman.” He flashed his teeth at her. Just as

Mulder finished talking the lights flickered and went out completely leaving their

faces shimmering in candlelight. Mulder’s eyes shot skyward. Merlin whimpered

by his feet as an odd low rumbling noise from outside could almost be felt

through the floorboards and clattered against the roof tiles which scared the cat.

It suddenly shot off of the warm nest that was Mulder’s lap. “Woah what was

that?” He yelped, nursing his chest where the cat had stabbed him with her

claws as she fled.

“ Ufasach….darn it,” Katherine, swore loudly as they all listened open mouthed to

what sounded like a sonic boom exploding over the house. The old lady got up

and shrugged into her heavy coat. “I’ll have to go get the generator started.”

“Something tells me that may be a few years too late to be Concorde cruising

over.” Mulder hauled himself to his feet, his partner with her arm around his

back as extra support. “I’ll come out with you.”

“No, no, you’ll catch your death, I’ll manage, been doing it for years. You sit

relax, keep warm.”

“Katherine, if you think I’m letting you go by yourself out there after that…..”

Mulder was adamant and he saw the old lady mulling it over for all of ten seconds

before she finally caved.

“Ah, macho pride. I’ll play. This time. Okay, but wrap up well… its freezing and

you’re already sick.”

“Mulder, I’m coming too,” Scully insisted, her eyes flashed him a look he knew

too well. One that brooked no argument. What worried her most then was that

not only was her lover’s spooky radar going off, but her’s had kicked in too.

Mulder was right. No way were they letting her aunt go out there alone.

“Do you have any idea what that was Katherine?” Mulder ventured, donning the

thick blue parka, the older lady handed him in the hall. “..because I don’t know

about you but with some of the stuff I’ve seen.., what Scully’s seen, that scores a

ten on my weird-shitometer.”

“Let’s just say that up here… you have to expect the unexpected. Here…” She

picked up two torches and handed him one. Scully did her coat up and snagged

the other one.

“I thought the house was going to crack in two. Are we on an earthquake fault

here?…. I mean the land formations and stuff by the causeway must have been

forged from tectonic disturbance at some point in history. I know there was an

earthquake in England recently … but wasn’t sure about this area.”

“No seismic activity in Antrim that I know of and I’ve been here a good few years

now, and lived in Derry and Belfast during the troubles long enough to know that

this isn’t a bomb, too well acquainted with those….but this coast,… there have

always been …well,” Katherine’s mind searched for an appropriate phrase as she

opened the back door to the wind swept courtyard. “folklore, odd lights in the

sky, strange cries from the beaches. You know the legend of Fionn mac

Cumhail?” He nodded as her words were almost snatched away as a gust wind

whirled around their heads. The air was electric, it smelled of ozone and

something Mulder couldn’t quite put his finger on. Whatever it was, the almost

fetid damp was seeping down into his chest and he could feel the air being

squeezed tight against his ribs. Was that a scream in his mind or the wind? It

was like it was mocking him, laughing at his expense. It felt…odd, making the

hair stand up on his neck.

They staggered in the buffeting wind as they all hurried across the courtyard to

one of the barns that housed the generator. Mulder sandwiched in between Scully

on one side and her aunt on the other, holding them both for dear life lest they

blow away. There was some light from the full moon but their torchlight raked

the cobbled pathway and when he flicked it up a touch he just made out a faint

green haze above the far cliff top about three miles away up the gully and what

looked like an electrical storm dying out to sea. Weird Lightning? It looked so

eerie and after all that noise he half expected to see aliens or a UFO hovering

over the bay.

“Mulder…you okay,” came his partner’s voice through the gloom.

“Yeah..” Mulder found his breath and shone the torch trying to locate the door

handle. After finding it stuck fast he managed to shoulder it open for them and

they all blustered inside. Momentarily rendered breathless by the blasts of wind

all round them, they stood still for a moment to catch their breath listening to the

wind making an unearthly evil sound like a dying creature circling all around the

barn. Almost like it had stalked them from the house over here. “The legend

about the Giant’s causeway and how it was forged is well documented. I had to

do a paper on it in college. Took a fill in class for mythology.”

“Really? Is that the giant that supposedly created the causeway by hurling rocks

at another giant in Scotland?” Scully asked, somewhat shivering in the cold as

she watched her partner get all manly with the generator.

“Yeah Scully, that’s him.” Mulder worked on the generator as he reached into his

eidetic memory for the story. “As the legend goes an Irish Giant (read alien

bounty hunter) lived on an Antrim headland and one day when going about his

daily business a Scottish Giant named Fingal began to shout insults, hurl abuse

and flip him the bird from across the channel. Quite close to here actually. Angry

Dude Finn lifted a clod of earth and threw it at the giant as a challenge, the earth

landed in the sea.

Fingal pitched a rock thrown back at Finn and shouted that Finn was lucky that he

wasn’t a strong swimmer or he would have made sure he could never fight again

or father future generations.

Well, Finn was kinda pissed off and began lifting huge clumps of earth from the

shore, throwing them so as to make a pathway for the Scottish giant to mosey on

over in person and open up a can of whup ass. However, ….however, by the time

he finished doing an extreme make over coastal edition on the crossing he hadn’t

slept for a week and so instead devised a cunning plan to fool the Scot, and

remembered not to bend down anywhere near Michael Moloney. ”

“What? ……More Mulder more!” Scully waggled the torch at him unable to hide

her laughter. Mulder grabbed it from her and stuck it under his chin making a

creepy caricature of himself. He pulled a silly face and went cross-eyed then took

a deep breath as he turned his attention back to his work and the story.

“I’m getting to that…” he grunted and he tried to force the spanner under the bolt

to free it on the generator side panel but it just wouldn’t budge. He feared it was

rusted up, probably from the perpetually damp air.

“Sooo, Finn disguised himself as Fro… I mean a baby in a cot and when his

adversary came to face him, Finn’s wife told the Giant that Finn was away at the

Consortium karaoke marathon with CGB but showed him his son sleeping in the

cradle with a big green pacifier in its mouth. The Scottish giant became

apprehensive, for if the son was so huge,…. cast that dirty thought from your

mind Scully, ..what size would the father be?

In his haste to escape, Fingal sped back along the causeway Finn had built,

tearing it up and farting as he went. He is said to have fled to a cave on Staffa

which is to this day named ‘Fingal’s Cave’ where he stayed forever , discovered

Ratboy hiding out there…and had great baby back rat rib barbecues and later

moved into a disused warehouse with two ditzy guy pals in Anacostia. Ughhhhh


“ You can be so cruel Mulder… but funny all the same, especially the ‘Michael

Moloney’ part. I swear though, the next time I see the guys … I’m going to get

them to spike your cheese steaks with jalapeños.”

“ Ughh, okay then… think Kersh and Skinman duking out their Mojo either side of

the Potomac with big manly bollards.” He smirked into her flashlight beam,

waggling his eyebrows, despite how tired he was.

“ Somehow that’s worse…..”

“How you doing Fox?” Katherine coughed lightly, enjoying the banter, chuckling

to herself… but feeling awkward that Fox was doing himself in while out here in

the cold when it should be her job. Why it wasn’t working she had no idea. It

normally fired up right away.

“Err it seems to be stuck,” he grunted, trying hard not to cough up a lung. “either

that or the bee pollen Scully made me try the other day robbed me of my Mojo.”

Turning to grin at her while he kicked viciously at the start handle of stubborn

prehistoric contraption.

“Mulder I have better, more inventive ways to make you lose your Mojo. Keep

that up and no Cherry Nyquil max strength night nurse for you.”

“ Oooh, hey ‘Pervy is sexy’ Scully.” This time Katherine laughed loudly and rolled

her eyes.

Another loud crack overhead and the generator shook to life in a hail of sparks

and Mulder who had still been tinkering with it, went flying, and landed in a heap

a few feet away.


“Aw Fox…Fox,”

Shocked, Scully and Katherine flew to his side. He wasn’t moving and his eyes

were shut. Scully felt his neck for a pulse. Sure enough it was there fluttering

erratically beneath her fingers and she breathed a sigh of relief, echoed by her

aunt who was rubbing Mulder’s wrist the other side of him.

Scully’s hands were a flurry of activity as she checked him all over. Feeling the

back of his head her fingers touched a knot there. It was then that he groaned

and opened one eye, peering at her. The generator purred away in the

background punctuated by creaking wood as the wind blew against the barn. He

gave her a pained lopsided grin. “Shaken but not stirred agent Scully,” he

quipped groggily.

“Mulder, thank God, you gave me such a fright.”

Coughing he tried to sit up, gingerly reaching behind his head.

“It worked, hey, I surprise myself sometimes. Woah.. that was some rush.”

“You hit your head, steady now. Take it slowly love.” Scully helped him to sit

upright, shaking a little with shock or he was just cold, she wasn’t sure which but

she knew either wasn’t good. He needed to rest and that was long overdue. “I

think this is enough fun for one night Mulder. Let’s get you back to the house.”

“So you can have your way with me?”

“You wish.”

Katherine who was looking sadly at the state of her niece’s poor partner tried to

shake off her deepening guilt and gave Fox a hand to get him up on his feet.

Every muscle in Mulder’s body shrieked in protest so much he thought he might

throw up any second. It was a slow cold journey back to the house, poor Mulder

could hardly move.


The Aga in the kitchen gave a welcome blast of hot air as they trouped in, Scully

and her aunt flanked the still shaken Mulder.

“Off to bed with ya young man, you earned your rest. Mind how you go now. I’ll

make you some special cocoa,” she winked. He managed a small smile but was

floundering and half asleep. His head and chest felt like hell.

“Believe me Katherine, the way I’m feeling right now you’ll get no argument from

me. Good night.”

“Goodnight Fox. I hope you sleep well.”

Mulder walked slowly up the stairs to their bedroom, wet cold and coughing up a

storm. He was a bit wobbly from his tribulations and being blasted across the

barn but he made it to the top with a grunt, Scully behind him, her hand

supporting his back as he went.

“You okay Mulder? That was a nasty crack on the head. Maybe you need to go to

the hospital.” Scully eased her partner down onto the bed and fluffed up the

pillows for him. He sank back into them carefully with a sigh.

“Scully we are a little too far out here for that to be practical. I’ll be fine as long

as I get some sleep and some of that Cherry flu crap you’re hiding in your case.

You checked my eyes and they’re okay. You can check them again later if you

like. I’m just gonna lay on this obscenely comfortable bed and crash.” With that

he sighed and closed his eyes. Little coughs making his chest rise as he

attempted to get into a more comfortable position.

“You’re not going to get out of those damp clothes first?” Scully had fished the

Cherry Nyquil out of her luggage and placed it on the bedside table.

Mulder opened one eye and peered at her. “You wanna undress me, Agent

Scully?” He leered ,which she returned with a seductive look of her own.

Back in the kitchen

“He’s asleep finally.” Scully sipped at her mug of steaming cocoa as she stood

warming herself by the Aga. Her aunt sat at the big oak kitchen table, glasses

atop her nose, leafing through a few paranormal magazines. “I’m really worried

about his cough though, his chest sounds awful. I’m scared the chilling and the

shock he got in the barn tonight will make it worse. At least he doesn’t have a

concussion.” Katherine put down her reading glasses and peered up at her niece.

“We’ll keep a close eye on him. Anything serious they might have to airlift him

from here. Couple of small Casualty…sorry ER depts to you, in Ballycastle, but

between the pair of us and that mini drug store you brought with you we should

manage. Nice shower?” Scully nodded and sat opposite her aunt at the table

wrapped in a fluffy dressing gown and hair damp from the shower.

“He fell on his feet when you came into his life, Dana…that’s for sure. You really

look after that lovely man. I sense some dark unhappy vibes about him though,

it’s in his eyes. Such sadness behind all the laughter, a visionary, a seeker of

truth, never gives up on miracles. And you love him with everything you have

too… am I right?”

“Oh Yes, with all my heart, he’s my soul mate, everything I ever wanted in

life…and he’s such a caring passionate man. A guy that literally gone to the ends

of the earth for me. Mulder is everything I could ever want. I couldn’t live without

him. He’s been through some rough times…. unhappy childhood and the loss of

his sister, Samantha…” She stopped there, unsure how much to tell her

Katherine about Mulder’s unhappy past and all the hell they had gone through

these last few years especially. But when she looked into her aunt’s eyes she saw

only deep understanding as if she had read through her thoughts. ‘She’s a wise

old duck’… her mother’s own words came back to her.

“And I bet he couldn’t last a day without you either, Dana. I see that in his eyes

and heart, which he wears on his sleeve when he gazes at you, if you hadn’t

noticed it. He’s a catch that’s for certain. My Ned was like that, everything to me.

He’s been gone a while now….” The old woman looked off sadly into space again

for a few seconds before turning back her younger companion, a small smile

nestling at the edge of her lips. “We won the Irish lotto one year ya know. Back in

the nineties.”

“You did? Wow. That’s great. A lot?…. Oh sorry I shouldn’t ask.” Scully

admonished herself.

Katharine laughed and popped her glasses back on. “No its okay, you can ask, I

don’t mind saying. Six hundred thousand pounds. Five numbers and a bonus

ball.” Scully whistled.

“You moved here about then, did you buy this place?”

“Aye, it was about twelve years ago now, Ned was working in Derry… or

Londonderry to you. I was a nurse in Belfast but I would travel back to Derry at

night. The height of the troubles at the time and we were sick of it, sick of the

religiousness of the city that caused all the troubles…bombs, checkpoints, afraid

of being shot at in a crossfire…and tired of patching up young people maimed and

desecrated by a pointless civil war…for that’s what it boiled down to. Whole

generations wasted because of this stupid feud and kids orphaned or growing up

without their fathers. Divided streets, families….just went on and on.” She

pulled a face and looked away, when she turned back to Scully she had the

beginnings of tears in her eyes…”Aye well…we had this windfall and got away

from it all, a golden opportunity to move up here, so we jumped at the chance

and brought this place for a new start. We’d always liked it here. The area calls to

us…..” Scully placed her hand over her aunt’s listening intently but at the same

time keeping an ear out for Mulder upstairs if he needed her.

“Ned and I are.. how shall I say? A tad unconventional. Most people think we

were married but we never got around to it. Surprised you too eh?” She laughed

at Scully’s raised eyebrow.

“I didn’t know.”

“Aye well. Folks on both side for the family were disapproving, we were from

different sides of fighting tracks if ya get ma drift. A wedding would have meant a

punch up somewhere down the line.. Soo, instead of trying to deal with all that

we came up here to Antrim. It’s always been a dream come true and here,” she

gestured towards the dark landscape outside the big kitchen window. “We were

free to be ourselves. Live off the land, indulge in a few pastimes that would have

raised eyebrows back home. Oh nothing mucky Dana,” she laughed at her niece’s

inscrutable expression. “If you have noticed the kind of literature collection I

have and the fact that I subscribe to the LGM’s Silver Bullet. Well that should give

you some idea of the kind of interests we have. Paranormal vigils around this

headland and anything unusual. A bit like your young man upstairs. Quite a

revelation meeting the famous and handsome Fox, Spooky Mulder and realising

he was the young man you were seeing. The one Maggie was always raving

about.” She winked.

“I think it’s safe to say Mulder noticed.“ Scully laughed getting up to grab some

more cake. “This place doesn’t disappoint either, what was that going on

tonight? If it’s not an earthquake what was it? I have never seen anything like

that. Fionn Macuill?” she ventured.

Katherine shook her head and stood up, looking out the window towards the sea.

“I don’t know and that’s the truth of it. Ned and I looked into it a great deal,

some people from Dublin University Paranormal dept came up here to investigate

with us but it turned up nothing. People have their pet theories. Old Fionn and

his Scottish giant foe, tectonic disruption and a new fault forming…even Guia’s

rebellion against global warming but its an all year round phenomena, They say

some days after the lights and the noises, that the shore looks different some

how….not just because the tide is out but its a markedly different landscape… like

a crack in the earth has somehow moved the geography around as if two giants

have been throwing rocks…yes I know. It’s not just confined to St. Patrick’s day

as some of the tourists think though. Its bums on seats in pubs round here and

sells tickets for the local attractions and general tourism, but on the other hand

its scared people off too. During the troubles there was gun running up in the hills

around here and the IRA would hide their munitions in the caves. Don’t know

what happened but something scared them away and that’s saying something.

Tough angry men and boys.”

“Go on.”

“Ned listened into a Ham radio channel one night and picked up some

transmissions. The signal was fractured at times but all he heard about was the

bodies on the beach. Grown men crying and talking about bodies, parts of bodies

and the rocks. They asked for help which was unusual because they were hiding

there, not supposed to be there, most were wanted men…but then things got

weird, there were lights in the sky, like the northern lights ya know, vibrations

and what felt like aftershocks. Winds that howled like a banshee. Yet when the

police and British military went down there a few hours later here was nothing.

No bodies, the caves had vanished and there was something else…” Katherine

eyes relived alone what she had seen all those years ago and then suddenly she

was back.

“That’s incredible.”

“The sea was red….just red…..and then sea had gone. It was gone two days and

then it returned. The sands were glowing but when we got close….there were just

millions of fish, sea creatures, just gasping for air. Strange….makes the blood

chill just thinking about it.”

Scully sat and gaped as her aunt went on with her story, watching the old

woman shiver in remembrance.

“The rocks…the Causeway… all looked….I dunno…different somehow. Like a giant

hand came down and scooped up a big part of the coast and then kicked it all

over the place like it had a tantrum or something. What happened next was even


“What?…what was it?”

“About a week after all that an’ the storms that followed, odd clouds and so

on…well it all came back, like it had somehow snapped back how it was.”

Scully felt the shiver right down to her marrow as she recalled another time when

something similar had occurred. The Ivory coast of Africa..while poor Mulder lay

dying back on a DC hospital as she thought of a way to try and find a cure for his

brain affliction caused by an alien artefact. … the ship. She did the math in her

head….could it have been around the same time? She didn’t say anything else but

planned to talk to Mulder about it later.

“Well Dana, perhaps if Mulder feels up to it the two of you could take a walk with

me to the beach tomorrow. Take a look at the Causeway, natural wonder of the

world ya know.”

Scully nodded…” We’d like that…as long as he’s ok. Speaking of Mulder, I better

go check on him. I’ll take him up some cocoa.”

“Eh, dear you do that and oh, I have something here that might help him feel

better. My own concoction. Another thing I like to do is wild crafting.” She

grinned going to her refrigerator. “Here,” She handed Scully a dish of something

that looked creamy, pale and thick, it gave off a neutral odour. “That should see

him right.” Scully looked at curiously.

“Oh thanks, um, do you have any bread I could put this in? I’ll take him a

sandwich up with his cocoa.” Katherine gave her sideways look and peered at

her over the rim of her glasses with an amused expression.


The old lady shook her head and chuckled a bit before regaining her composure,

patting her niece on the shoulder at the expression on the confused young

woman’s face.

“Oh Dana… It’s not for going in bread… his chest dear, its goose grease; you

spread it on his chest.”


Not surprisingly Mulder was awake when she shouldered her way into the room

with tray with cocoa and dish of goose grease, which looked like sickly congealed

lard. ‘Ewe’, she thought. Scully didn’t think she had the heart to hurt her aunt’s

feelings but she just couldn’t see Mulder agreeing to submit to such a bizarre old

fashioned remedy. Then again..

“Mulder,” She called quietly, putting the tray down. She heard the dog bounding

up the stairs and into the room behind her, he jumped on the bed and looked

profoundly comfortable, if not pleased with himself.

Her lover had his back to her, dressed just in boxers, staring out of the window.

Every so often he would cough, a deep rattle shaking his whole back as he

hunched over slightly with pain hugging his arms around his ribs. It was obvious

he hadn’t heard her come in as he didn’t turn around. Mulder’s skin was like ice

when she touched him and he let out a strangled cry of shock and wobbled

slightly as he became less disorientated. She noticed his pupils were huge. What

had he been staring at? After the gale it was relatively calm outside.

“Sorry Mulder. Didn’t mean to make you jump. What are you looking at out

there? You’re freezing, get back into bed.”

“Hi,” he turned and kissed her, then pulled her to him, slipping his arms around

her. She felt the chill of his skin through her sweater even, he was so cold. “its

okay Scully… sorry, miles away. I saw some lights down by the beach, some

noises and I had a weird dream. Then I noticed you weren’t here.”

“Sorry, I was taking a shower, then went to grab a hot drink. What did you

dream about?” She asked as she pressed her cheek to his, relishing his embrace.

“I’m not sure… something about the rocks…the causeway.. a crack in the earth

and screaming… something in the sea…what?”

She couldn’t quite disguise the shudder she felt then.

“You had a fair amount of Katherine’s Irish moonshine. I’m not surprised you are

having odd dreams. With the jetlag and all your body clock is thrown out.”

He studied her face for a long time, then he smiled and his eyes shone in the

firelight of the room. If she wasn’t mistaken he looked even more disorientated

like his attention was elsewhere and he was being pulled in another direction.

Somewhere beyond that headland a few miles away. She couldn’t suppress the

shudder, that inexplicable fear that passed through her. “I brought you a hot

drink, help you sleep.”

“Ahh this is why I love you Scully,” he started to cough again, making his chest

hitch. “What’s that you got there?” he asked as he proceeded to poke a finger in

the whitish goo in the bowl on the tray and stick it in his mouth. “Ughhh…what


“Katherine’s secret recipe for a cold and flu compress.”

“What the hell is it? Mashed Flukie? ” Her partner asked, pulling a face.

“Its goose grease…you’re meant to spread it on your chest.”

“Please tell me your joking Scully.”

“Apparently it’s meant to be very effective as a poultice. I knew you’d balk but I

didn’t want to upset her, she meant well. Hey….”

Mulder pulled a face and hopped back over onto the bed, propping himself up

against the pillows. “It smells… rancid feathers. Tastes even worse. Kinda

like Langly’s cooking. C’mere Scully, I can think of something much better I want

spread on all over me right now.” Before Scully could say a word he’d grabbed

hold of both her hands and pulled her over on top of him, nose to nose, which he

then kissed, then looked up at her, smoothing her hair from her face as it

dangled on his chest, grinning at her like a fool.

“Feeling better?”

“Now I am.”

“What you grinning like that for G-man? Something’s tickled you. Spill.”

“Just imagining Frohike’s face when he realises he’s having an internet romance

with your aunt of all people.” Scully tickled his chest with her fingers, and then

raised a finger to his lips. Predictably he sucked the digit into his mouth, his face

quite playful. His fever was breaking it seemed. Maybe they could enjoy some

sightseeing after all.

“Oh I dunno if I’d call it that. I think Katherine is still pining for Ned. Think Melvin

is just her gaming buddy. Though…come to think of it… I did notice the autograph

on the desktop photo. ‘Here’s looking at you sweet lady, Love Melvin’… umm you

may be onto something there Mulder. Now if you don’t stop doing that to my


“No intention of stopping agent Scully. Its St. Patrick’s day and I’m making a


“You’re not even Irish,”

“No,” his fingers came up to stroke her face and let them trail over the shell of

her ear, “But you are.”

Early hours of the morning.

Mulder startled awake coughing and found sometime in the night he’d been

unceremoniously dumped on the floor. Wow the earth really had moved; pity it

wasn’t because of their lovemaking. A coy grin spread over his face as he

remembered that well enough along with sore muscles.

It took a moment to figure out where he was in the almost dark. As he got his

bearings, he happened to glance at the glow from the window and watched in

awe as a volley of multicoloured lights flew like geese across the glass. What the

hell is that? It went on for a few moments. Mulder picked himself up and checked

on Scully. She was sound asleep, face beautiful and serene in the glow from the

open fire in the room. Merlin lifted his head for all of a second from where he’d

obviously been relegated to the floor, to look at his new friend, whimpering a bit

as the lights shifted patterns across the room. The dog seemed nervous.

Mulder needed to take a leak and get a drink or something. His chest felt tight

after all that late night exercise and he was beginning to feel like crap again. Just

a quick trek downstairs and he could come back and resume snuggling up with

his nice warm lover. Just holding her made him feel better. Hopefully the Aga was

still warm and there was hot water in the ever preset kettle there, maybe get

some coffee. He might take a look outside, just a breather, he told himself.

Wasn’t going to ditch her or anything… Scully would kill him, but maybe he would

just go out the back and get some fresh air, blow some of his fuzzy headedness

away and check out those lights, whatever they were, and come back in. The

wind looked like it had dropped now and it was dry outside. Just some cloud

cover over the moon and a little mist down near the bay. It looked and felt

magical. Exhilarating even.

Dressed again in warmer clothing, he slipped quietly out of the bedroom door,

avoiding the creaky floorboard he’d discovered earlier. The dog’s head went up

when Mulder crept out of the room, he whimpered a little and crept out after his

new friend.

Mulder swallowed the last dregs of his coffee and washed up the mug in the sink,

placing it on the draining board. It was so peaceful, no one around, just the odd

slither of wind whipping across the courtyard outside. Funny, where was

Katherine? No one in the living room on the sofa, he’d checked, just a pile of

blankets still in a pile like she hadn’t slept there at all. Perhaps she’d gone to

check on the generator… but the power was on ok, he’d just used the kitchen


The black lab was by the door sitting expectantly panting with his tongue out.

“Here Merlin…” he bent to stroke the dog, scratching his neck and whispering to

him about what a good boy he was, or what he thought the dog wanted to hear.

It seemed to have the desired effect as the dog went all goofy on him, licking his

hands and jumping up his legs. “Shhh.. now… wanna come for a walk with me, go

find your mom?”

Mulder threw his thick green parka on and went outside, careful to quietly close

the heavy back door. Immediately, the dog bounded off over the courtyard and

the darkness swallowed him up, although he could hear the occasional distant

bark. What a difference a few hours made. There was barely any wind at all now,

but still it was a biting cold with the fog making Mulder pull his parka hood up

over his head to keep warm. Despite the warm clothing he still felt the freezing

chill right down to the bone.

Where could his host have gone? This wasn’t a good time for an old lady to be

wandering about in this weather…it must have been the early hours of the

morning now, but then he had to backtrack; she lived here and looked after this

farm, this was probably a regular necessity to come out if the need arose, come

rain or shine. Checking on and feeding animals, or maybe the light show had

startled her and she’d got curious about it like he had. Mulder smiled as he gazed

upwards to the stars twinkling like frozen eyes in the deep indigo vista of dawn.

She was a little like him in that respect, both recognised that questing need to

investigate the curious and unexpected.

Merlin suddenly came back to his side, wagging his tail, startling him a little.

“Hey boy…you can’t find her either huh?”

He checked the shed and other outhouses, the barn…where he discovered the

still; chuckling to himself over that. Moving out towards the edge of the farm,

shivering and one hand on the dog beside him, his eyes scanned the fields ahead

and up the hill. Where there weren’t ribbons of mist he could make out some of

it in the full moon. Worried now because he couldn’t see any sign of Katherine,

he tried to get the dog to go off and find her again but it got a little more than a

yard ahead before it turned tail and ran back to him. Tell tale signs of a cough

bubbled up into Mulder’s chest, hurting his ribs and his hand flew to his mouth,

while his arms braced his ribs. For a few seconds he rode out the wave of

breathlessness which bent him almost double. It was then that he heard it. At

first he thought it was just the wind. Like a faraway song, a small childlike voice

calling even, gaining in strength and then snatched away by the wind that was

picking up now. Every sense was alive inside him as he stood up again, gasping,

feeling the ethereal song go around in his head, trickling the inside of his skull so

badly that he wanted to scratch at it. It was coming from the beach and he had

to get there. Some obsessive need took over and kept him running despite the

frantic protest of his lungs, the dog still faithfully at his heels.

Mulder headed across the fields, dodging big basalt rocks in the grass and moss

terrain so black that he could barely see them. He’d almost tripped a few times so

he slowed down, breathing heavily looking around him. The higher he climbed up

the gully that led down to the sea. Soon he wanted to tear at the sound, to snub

out that burning irritation in his mind, his ears, the dull throbbing behind his eyes

starting to affect his sight now and he was almost crawling over the rocks one

excruciating step at a time, cutting hands and knees, possessed by the high

pitched wailing banshee cry like every fibre of his being was being propelled

against his will.

Slipping against the rocks, the gully seemed to even out, flanked on either side

by huge cliffs and pendulous clumps of mist clinging to his body like icy fingers

but Mulder was now wading through a stream of near frozen water fed from the

hills behind him. Going down a few times, his left knee hit an unforgiving boulder

that made white hot explosions of pain shoot through his leg and almost made his

throw up. Saturated with sea spray, numb with cold and half mad from the

noise, he staggered dizzy and unseeing until he could go no further….

The voices wrapped around him, mocking him, twisting him in their grasp,

thundering in his head until he stumbled with a hoarse yell, plummeting over the

edge of the outcrop that plunged onto the dark causeway into nothingness, just

an unimaginable vibrating and cracking noise broke over his head as he fell,

enveloped in light, barely breathing as Scully’s face punched through the chaos

fighting for supremacy in his mind. ‘So sorry …Scully’.

A lone silhouette of a dog sat on top of the outcrop, whimpering at the crashing

sea on the rocks beyond, his distress carried away on the wind and sheeting rain.

Paws over his ears and occasionally barking at the lights that whizzed past his

line of sight.

Black rock cottage 7.13am.

Scully sat bolt upright, paralysing dread gripping her heart. Something was very

wrong she just knew it. No sleepy awakening wrapped in the warm cocoon of her

partner’s arms and his gentle languid kisses that always greeted her. She could

still smell him, his aftershave, the way his skin felt but he was physically gone

from the bed. Jolted from a dream back into cold reality, she shuffled off the bed

and threw on her clothes without bothering to change them.

Taking the stairs two at a time she was shaken when she almost knocked her

aunt flying coming in the back door as she was trying to out, an equally shocked

look plastered on her face…not just shock, Scully’s mind supplied.


Working on the X files over the years she felt her stomach flip, she knew that

look all too well.

“Dana…” Katherine had been crying, but was now out of breath, shaking a little,

a sight that almost paralysed her.


Causeway cliffs

It took them a while to reach the shore but both of them had a determined

mission and pressed on through treacherous rocks and driving rain dragging a

huge medical kit, tools and Ned’s old climbing equipment along with them. The

first morning light was just a few streaks of orangey pink edging up over the

horizon. It was freezing cold. When they spotted the dog sitting dutifully in place

on the cliff top they knew they had reached the right place. He turned and

roused a little when he saw his mistress and her companion, whimpered and then

barked, as to mark where his friend had gone over the cliff so they could help


“Good boy Merlin, that’s a good laddy eh.” The old Labrador looked at her


Katharine didn’t say much, she seemed unable somehow as if something had

pierced her heart and her soul had bled out through it. She looked utterly bereft,

this had to be bad. She had been on the shore watching the waves as she said

she often did. Scully thought she must have had a reason but didn’t press her.

Then she mentioned all her sheep were dead where they had been perfectly fine

the night before. She mentioned a disturbance, another loud sonic boom and

what looked like arching over the causeway. She’d made her way down over the

honeycombed shaped basalt structures to see if she could find the cause. Wind

and rain had driven her for shelter in a cave and thats where she had heard his


About twelve foot up an open crevice, Mulder was somehow trapped in the rocks,

moaning quietly and calling for help.

She hadn’t known it was him at first but she was in shock when she saw him

hanging upside-down, blooding dripping from somewhere on him turning the sand

and the rocks red in a slippery pool by her feet. His legs seemed to be trapped

but his arms hung free, his eyes closed.

Horrified, she ran back the house, that’s when she had noticed the sheep for the

first time, all lying on their backs, like white unmoving rocks in the grass. No time

to waste, she needed to find Dana. There was a storm coming and where Mulder

was trapped the tide was coming in. He would surely drown if they couldn’t free

him soon and his injuries looked severe. The thought that he’d been looking out

for her when this happened didn’t even bear thinking about. She was beyond

bereft, if he died…

“He was alive when I left here to fetch you Dana, alive but trapped and I think

maybe unconcious. I couldn’t reach him, there was no way. He was too far up. I

called to tell him I was coming to get you and to hang on but I don’t know if he

heard me, the tide is coming in and the surf breaking up over the rocks. I dunno

if he heard me.” She repeated, her words all spilling out in panic.

“How bad was he?” Scully had forced herself into doctor mode to offset the shock

and despair she felt right then, the immovable fist of pain in her chest. Keeping

herself together was the only way she could get him out of this.

“I don’t know dear. I swear it’s my fault, I think he must have been looking for

me. …I …should have said I go on these dawn walks… makes me feel closer to

Ned… but now look what I’ve done..” And she dissolved into tears but Scully

pulled her into a tight hug.

“Oh Katherine…it’s not your fault …it’s just what Mulder sometimes does…more

times than I care to count. Believe me, that man is so inquisitive. Something

must have drawn him outside. Something weird was going on all last night.

Cracks and bangs, lightning I think. I could only half hear it because I was so

tired and worried about him being sick on this trip. I fell asleep and Mulder must

have got up for something. We’ll get him out eh? You and me. C’mon …its okay.”

“Thank you dear.” She seemed far away for a moment before speaking again.

“Check the ropes bag; I think there are some long ones in there. Some

crampons. They were Ned’s. Don’t forget the tool belt either. You might need


Scully peered gingerly over the edge of the cliff but couldn’t see anything.

Couldn’t see her partner or any sign of him, just angry waves crashing and dark

foreboding rock that went straight down in hexagonal pillars, some hollow that

led right through to the sea like a funnel. Where was he?

“Mulder…” No answer. Only the waves and wind answered back like a mournful

cry. Like a voice… death song…. No she mustn’t think that way.

The drenched agent dumped the bag of medical equipment on the grass and went

for the other bag of ropes and stuff her aunt had brought along. Pulling out a long

one she began to loop it and doubled tie it round her waist, pulling the knots

tight. Then she clipped on the tool pouch, not caring about the sheeting rain

hitting her face or the cold, just focused on a one track mission getting to Mulder

and getting him safely out of danger.

“You’re going to be okay going down there…if you want me to…” Katherine

looked terrified, she was trying to get the dog away from the edge but Merlin

steadfastly refused to budge. His miserable whimper bit right through Scully’s


Scully looked pointedly at her. “I have to go Katherine, I’m not ageist but I think

abseiling down there in this weather, well it could be a problem for you with

arthritis. Its okay, I’ve done this before. I’ll be fine. Going to have to be, there’s

no choice. Mulder needs us. Just loop the rope and crampons over there around

that big rock and then the second rope I’m going to tie around him. I’ll tug on the

ropes and yell when I’m ready okay?” She pointed up the bank about three

meters behind them. “That looks a good a place as any and gives us leverage.”

Katherine complied; securing the rope Scully was attached to and the second one

for Mulder. She watched her niece from afar by the rock as she checked the

tautness of them both and then with increasing fear her eyes were glued to her

rain soaked, niece’s head as she vanished below the edge of the cliff. This was

no weather to be even up here in, let alone climbing down steep stacks. She

clung onto the dog for company and warmth, imploring the goddess earth to keep

her sweet niece, Dana and her lovely man alive and safe.

A few meters down Scully reached her partner at last. It was a long laborious

decent and she was out of breath and frozen to the bone but she didn’t care. She

thought she would never make it but looking at his limp hanging body now she

realized why she couldn’t see him before. Mulder was half wedged firmly, almost

impossibility between a cleft in the precipice by both legs, while the rest of his

body was hanging in mid air. It was weird, almost like his legs had been fused

into the narrow rock cleft itself, like the rocks were trying to devour him. There

was no rational way he could’ve have slipped down and ended up that way. It

defied all reasoning. Had the rocks moved? No, that was impossible. She

cantilevered the rope which lowered her down a bit more past the rest of his body

so she could reach his head. Feeling for and finding a pulse in his neck she

almost cheered, but then felt her heart sink wondering how the hell she could

release his legs. If he couldn’t be freed he would die. No doubt about that.

Alive he was but his pulse was thready, his breathing very shallow. Clothing torn

to shreds and a big gash on the back of his head was steadily dripping blood feet

below to merge with the raging sea swirl. With each crash of the waves against

the rocks it deepened her chill and her resolve, tying a second rope around his

middle as a raft of white water shot up the gap and soaked them with spray. It

was as though they were reaching up to claim them, drag them into the swirling

angry sea to their death. Looking up she noticed the storm clouds blustering

fiercely across the sky far above, heavy pendulous omens of doom from her


“Hi Scully. ..When did …you drop in,” Mulder’s voice was weak, barely a whisper

and she felt the effort it cost him as his chest heaved against her as she held

onto him for dear life. Bless him though, she felt like crying, his sense of humor

was still intact even if his bones weren’t. There appeared no way to get his legs

loose. She swallowed, both tibia were probably broken or crushed and he must be

in incredible pain.

“Mulder…. Take it easy love, going to get you of here.”

“Good luck Scully,” he coughed a little before continuing and she worried to hear

the worsening congestion in his lungs. “ It’s a nice idea…. but I seem to be stuck

in …rocks like the meat in a …sandwich.”

“How the hell did you end up like this?”

“I don’t know,” he tried to laugh, “ But I …now know what fish bait feels like…and

its killing my back. Ahhh.”

“And your legs I bet.” She grimaced at the sight of his squashed limbs trapped in

the dark rock.

“I’t feel my legs….. May just be because I’m fucking cold and just

hanging around. Scully, what you doing?”

His partner was pulling something out of the big pouch she had clipped to her belt

with one hand, while she hung onto him with other.

“Hammer. Going to try and break the rock and ease your legs out.” Mulder looked

sceptical for once but Scully was undeterred and started attacking the rock

around his legs. One leg was trapped up to his thigh. She had to get him out soon

before he went into shock. He was already shivering and his teeth were

constantly chattering.

Mulder stared miserably down at the ocean swirling around the bottom of the

stack, hoping like hell if by some divine intervention she did get him free he was

securely tied, trying to ignore the pain, the cold and the feeling like he had finally

used up all his nine lives. Very slowly, he tried to move his arm to latch onto

Scully’s but it was too numb with cold. Gritting his teeth he tried to tune

everything out, he was fading fast and each time Scully diligently chipped away

at the rock he felt excruciating pain lance through his lower body. There was

nothing he wanted more than to let go let everything fade to black, his breathing

was becoming more difficult with every breath but he owed to his partner to stay

awake, there was no way she could haul him up to the top if she did manage to

free him.

After several fruitless minutes Scully stopped hammering. It was no good, the

little she’d chipped away wasn’t enough to allow her to loosen his legs or even

get her fingers around and she was exhausted. She felt the first sting of tears in

her eyes as she realised it was impossible to move him.


“What..?” She turned her face to the rock; she didn’t want him to see her tears or

the defeat on her face.

“Soo, no rational… theory how I did the impossible and got stuck in the rocks

Agent Scully?”

“No … It can’t happen but it has,” she sniffed. “Right now I don’t care, I just want

to get you out. My aunt is up top, she’s fine, going to help us get out and then

she’ll go for the paramedics. The power is out again at the farmhouse so we

couldn’t get through. Internet is down too this time. Whatever that was …it fritzed

everything. But right now I need to get you out of here…by any means

necessary. ”

“I know, its okay. You tried.” Mulder’s words chattered through his teeth, every

part of him trying not to look at the hacksaw she was holding in one hand. Where

had that come from? He bit his lip, afraid and proud of his strong partner that

never ceased to amaze him, when the chips were down that courage just roared,

just where she pulled it from such a small beautiful frame he could only wonder.

Right then she was a giant in his eyes.

Her eyes were full of apology as she looked at him, tears slipping down her face.

“I’m not giving up.. dammit!” Not able to nod he blinked his eyes at her, hardly

able to see for the driving rain now cascading down the funnel stack.

Mulder wished he could touch her then but he was almost spent. The wind

buffeted them both as they hung there in the ropes facing each other sadly. What

else could she do? It was impossible. Something beyond comprehension had put

him here; he still remembered that sound like a siren song scrapping against his

skull. Whatever it was had been his death knell. He didn’t want it to be Scully’s as

well. He wanted her to go back up to the top, to be safe. They were both going to

get killed if the rocks shifted again. Dangling there he had tried to work out what

happened and as weird and inexplicable as it seemed, that was the only answer

he’d come up with. This coast was steeped in lore and legend and maybe there

was something in the wrath of the two giants that shaped the Causeway on this

coast, maybe a sense memory that re-enacted every now and then and he’d been

unfortunate enough to get caught it its deadly thrall. Maybe he could open an X

file on it, if by some slim chance he could get out alive.

He turned his head slowly towards his partner only meet the despair and fear in

her eyes as she contemplated perhaps the only way she could free him alive.

Okay so be it, he thought, knowing she wouldn’t leave him down here. The

thunderclouds above were grumbling angrily across the coast, not to mention the

almost subsonic buzz he was feeling in his legs where they were jammed into the

rocks. Something was building up to happen again and he wanted like crazy to

grab at his skull as the eerie cacophony started up again. He needed her to do

whatever and get up the top again to safety.

His heart started to race and she started to cry again.

“I…I can’t do this Mulder..”

“Yes…yes you can… go for it.”

“I…. don’t know if I can..”

“Yes you must we don’t have a choice…It’s okay…I’ll be alive…I can deal with the

rest…” he gulped down his own tears and the sickening dread that gripped his

heart. “..later… Scully please.”

His partner leaned down and kissed him, awkward and strange because he was

upside down facing her. He felt her warm lips against the wet chilled skin of his

throat and he was buoyed by her courage when she whispered “Okay,” in his

ear, no more than a quiet breath.

“I love you Mulder,” her fingers smoothed the clumps of drenched hair out of his

eyes, then travelled down his cheek and wiped moisture and blood from his lips

where he must have bitten them. There was a roaring in his ears now, like bees

on the warpath and his head was the hive. An unrelenting noise that twisted into

an almost faraway lilting voice, transporting him into the abyss, pulling him down

further as he watched her eyes bled water all over him as she faded from view.

“I love …you too…” Scully made sure his body was secure in the ropes, anything

but look at his huge scared puppy eyes which slipped closed when he suddenly

went limp.

“Mulder.. no…” she cried in alarm. Panicked she hauled her self up a touch to feel

his pulse. It was still there but weakening and his lips were blue. Fumbling with

the saw, she picked a spot about an inch from where his legs were trapped, cut

away his pants there, pulled some twine from her pouch and tied it tight around

the area she planned to cut and took a deep breath, telling herself this was the

only way. It was better to have her lover alive even if disabled, as opposed to

letting him die here. He’d still be Mulder and she would care for him whatever it

took. The lesser of the two evils. He’d given her permission… that wonderful

brave love of her life….

As she placed the saw to his bruised and battered flesh a huge lightning bolt

struck the rock above startling her, and another…and another until it sounded like

an air raid going on overheard, making her drop the saw…

“No…!!!!” she shrieked at the top of her lungs as she watched it clatter off the

rocks into the swirling eddies of water below, greedily swallowing her only means

of freeing her partner from certain death. “Katherine…help…”, She yanked on the

rope as hard as she could muster to try and alert her aunt; she had other tools

up there… if only…

But she never finished that thought. A blinding flash enveloped her as she clung

fast to her partner suspended in the tangle of ropes like helpless marionettes as a

maelstrom of sounds, a thousand sirens and the deep rumbling roar and cracking

of age old rock, like the earth was furious at the gods, splitting them into a

million shards, exploding all around them and then darkness.


Undetermined time later.

Sand dunes near the Giants Causeway. NI.

Damp and cold to the bone Katherine sat dazed in a sandy dune. Ears still

deafened she remained there for a while, unable to think or feel, or see anything.

Her head hurt and for a few moments it was hard to remember who she was.

Getting up she thought she should be somewhere… The storm …yes the

storm…Dana, Mulder.. “Oh god… No!”

She ran, despite her gammy legs she ran, not really knowing where she was or

going but she had this voice in her head familiar and compelling so she followed

where it sent her. The air was electric like the storm had charged everything

around her heightening her energy and purpose to find them. The waves and the

wind still mocked her but she ignored them. It seemed like hours since she had

been running but her breath carried her on, wind at her heels and sloshing of wet

sand soaking her stocking clad legs. When she could go no further her steps

faltered and she stopped, gasping. There was something moving up ahead… but

sometime during …whatever this was she had lost her glasses and her vision was

blurred. It looked like… No it couldn’t be…?

“Merlin.” The dog saw her and came bounding over to her, he was wet and sandy

and wouldn’t keep still as he licked her all over, practically shaking with euphoria

at finding his mistress.

She bent down and ruffled the dog’s wet fur hugging him to her while tears

streamed down her face. Her poor niece and her man were probably dead, there

was no way they could have survived all that, it was happening again, it had

taken them too….just like Ned…just like… Corwen… and the tears flowed anew at

the thought of them..

Her only Son.

Lost here so many years ago… claimed by this coast’s wrath… She only sought to

understand… and now they had robbed her of her Dana and Mulder too. How

could she ever tell Maggie, that her only surviving child had lost her life trying to

save the man she loved…just as she had all those years ago?

Merlin started to bark, pulling away from her before she could stop him, leaving

her arms empty just holding fresh air. Katherine climbed unsteadily onto feet

made weak with grief and followed him, he was going like lighting up the beach

towards what looked like the area of the causeway… But the landscape was

different somehow; chunks of rock strewn out across the beach like discarded toy

blocks thrown by an angry child. Deep fissures in the sand opened up like greedy

mouths swallowing smaller rocks and drifting sand kicked up by the wind.

Hexagonal clusters of basalt indigenous to the famous causeway lay scattered

and tilted in the sand but when she rounded the edge of the long beach where

the cliffs had been there was nothing there….a large gaping maw of cliff had

vanished and the pillars of rock that once stood like organ pipes so tall and

impressive had gone… like something had tunnelled through it and blown it apart

on impact.

She bowed her head, tasting fresh tears, wishing it had blown her apart as well,

the guilt and grief threatened to overwhelm her but then she felt something soft

and wet against her hand. Merlin barked again and tried to pull her coat sleeve…

“No, not now boy… I’m sorry, can’t play with you now…please..” But the dog was

insistent and kept tugging before finally breaking away again, seeing that he had

his owner’s attention and scampered off up the beach a few feet ahead towards

an outcrop of rocks sticking up from the sand… no they weren’t rocks…

“Oh my ….”

The dog jumped around in excited abandon finally able to show his mistress his

find, circling and barking. Something was moving. Despite advancing age and

fatigue, Katherine ran the rest of the way.

“One, one thousand, two one thousand…three..” A breathless, Dana Scully had

been so intent performing heart massage on her partner’s lifeless body that she

never heard her aunt approach until she felt a warm hand on her back. Looking

up startled, she saw the unspoken question in the old lady’s eyes and nodded

acquiescence. Wordlessly they slipped into sync working on the badly injured

agent. Katherine doing chest compressions and her niece with her mouth fused to

her partner’s blue lips forcing life giving breath into his lungs. Swirling sand and

wind whipping around the trio as they worked with a single purpose to do the

seemingly impossible.

When he coughed finally, his body physically lurching off the sand in his, lovers

arms they both cried, Scully hugging her partner to her tightly and pressing her

lips against his forehead. “It’s okay Mulder, it’s alright…your going to be fine…we

can work out what happened later…but for now…..”

“ A chuisle mo chroí,” Katherine whispered, touching Mulder’s face as he

opened two sand crusted eyes to meet her beautiful smile and his Scully’s.

In the distance a helicopter circled and banked towards them, moving ever


Ballycastle Hospital

22nd March.

Mulder was lucky, after being rushed to hospital by an Irish navy rescue

helicopter and surgery to set both his broken legs and treatment for bronchitis,

concussion and exposure, he only spent three days in intensive care with

breathing problems and an erratic heartbeat. Scully was unhurt but shocked and

spent a night sleeping on a put you up bed near Mulder’s room, lovingly watched

over by Katherine who refused to leave the hospital until they were awake and

looking healthier. She divided her time between them.

No one knew how the emergency services were called. The generator had gone

down at the farm at the time and there was no way anyone could have known…


Scully had her own theories as to where the helicopter came from. She’d inquired

to thank those responsible for airlifting them from the beach only to find there

was no record of such a helicopter being sent out and the Irish navy couldn’t

even trace the registration code. It didn’t belong to them. All they could tell her is

that a man who wouldn’t identify himself had emailed them. Right then she could

have cared less, she had no idea what happened out there on that cold vicious

day but what she was thankful for was the fact that Mulder was alive in once

piece and that she had her aunt’s caring company.

One thing though was that when Mulder was examined in hospital it was found

that he had sea water in his lungs, and in his unconsciousness kept muttering

about mermaids. When awake he’d claimed they’d dragged him from the sea to

save him from drowning. Katherine had grinned indulgently at that, saying that

they may never know and that something mysteries were best kept that way.

Scully feared Mulder would want to go explore that beach again soon, maybe

open a new X file when he was better. Perhaps…

Black Rock Cottage 24th March.

A few days later, after Mulder had been released they returned to Katherine’s

farmhouse, the old lady making a bed up for Mulder in the conservatory that

looked the fields down to the sea.. Mulder wasn’t going to be able to travel yet for

a few weeks and in truth the old lady was only too happy to have their company

a bit longer. It seemed that Seamus and Merlin thought so too as they were both

curled up either side of Mulder as he tried to scratch at the tops of this plaster


“Damn it I wish I had a knitting needle or something. It itches.” Mulder

complained as Scully brought him a mug of hot milk. Heavy meds meant he

couldn’t have caffeine yet so tea was out. However, it didn’t stop Katherine

spiking his milk with odd drop of Poitin when her niece’s back was turned. She

winked conspiratorially at Mulder, a gesture that disturbingly reminded him of

Frohike, and handed him a plate with some more upside-down apple cake which

he was fast getting addicted to.

“Aye if ya had that you might stab yourself in your leg. I have something in my

pantry better for making you forget the itch.”

“I’ll make you forget all about the itch Mulder, if you promise to behave and quit

scratching.” Scully purred in his ear and she shifted the cat to sit beside him on

the floor by the sofa, her hand squeezing his.

“Ah you know Scully this is a bummer, me being laid up like this. We never got to

do much sightseeing. What about Skinman’s Bushmills. He’ll kill me.”

“Probably for the paperwork on your medical leave and desk duty when we get

back too.” Scully piped in to remind him.

Her aunt looked thoughtful. “Well you know if I have to be honest,” the old lady

shuffled off to the kitchen for a moment. She returned shortly with a big dark

brown bottle bearing a James’s label. “James’s is better by far a whisky, but

everyone and his chum head over to Bushmills when they come to here because

it’s well known. You tell that boss of yours that this is a much better brew. I’m

telling ya true.”

“Thanks we will but Katherine, you didn’t have to go out of your way to get that

for me.”

“Oh I didn’t… it’s an old bottle and I filled it up with a drop of hard stuff.”

Scully and Mulder exchanged amused glances. His partner swatting his hand as it

went to scratch at his casts again.

“You mean you filled it up with Poitin.”

Mulder started to laugh at Katherine’s knowing wink.

“And when he runs out he is welcome to come visit me to pick up a fresh supply.”

The old lady laughed.

Just then something came through the letter box in the hall and Scully went to

retrieve it. She came back in holding a newspaper.

“That’s odd Dana; I don’t normally get a delivery out here.”


“No, lets give that a once over.” She popped on her new specs and scanned the

print on the first few pages. She looked up a few moments later, a shocked

expression on her face. “Dana, you and your man might want to see this.”

Dana took the paper from her and stared at the news article from a few days ago,

sat down next to Mulder and shared it with him. It made no mention of their

lucky escape as she had expected, but instead reported that that causeway area

had suffered a disturbance, a small earthquake…the epicentre a few miles out to

sea. The photo of the beach area and the Giant’s Causeway though was very

intriguing. It had been taken the day before by the British geological society, but

…was strangely intact, none of the destruction that they had been embroiled in. It

was like it had never happened.

Mulder looked worriedly at Scully, she could see him mulling this over already,

forming a hypothesis…. Knowing he’d be itching to take a look for himself if he

thought he could get away with it. She gave him her patent stern eyebrow and he

chewed on his lip and scratched at his neck.

“It’s as though it’s rebuilt itself …that’s astonishing.”

“Aw it is that. And it’s taken its secrets inside it again. …but for how long?”

Suddenly the penny dropped. And Mulder gasped his eyes full of compassion he

looked at the old lady and watched her eyes cloud over.

“Katherine? Is this what happened to Ned?” The old Lady got up and came over

to the big window that overlooked the landscape down to the bay.

“Aye….it is. And someone you didn’t know. My only son, Corwen. A number of

years before we moved here, Corwen went on a camping trip with his school

friends. He was sixteen, old enough to be going on a weekend away with friends.

Sensible lad, good grades, loved us both like a son should.” Turning to look at

the rolling sea beyond the window, “Well … I think you can guess what happened.

We came up here, bought this place to be near him somehow…after he was lost.

It helped a lot until Ned. This coast took him too, swallowed him up in the rocks.

Gone. They never found his body but he’d been in that area walking when it all

kicked off. Went out one day and never returned. He used to look for him down

on the beach. He never did get over his death. Some say he went and drowned

because he missed his son so much but I think they suffered twin fates.”

Scully was almost in tears. “I’m sorry I never knew.”

Katherine smiled. “No one did really. Your mother was the only I one was in touch

with, having burned our bridges with our local family here, was only in the last

ten or so years since we got the internet that I came across your mother and our

family in the States. Did one of those families reunite things? But anyway, I don’t

know if I ever mentioned our boy to her. He’d been gone so long and it was too

painful. I didn’t want any pity.”

“Sorry, so sorry we never realised.” Scully replied, tucking a blanket around

Mulder as he lay down. The meds were making him sleepy again.

Katherine crossed the room to the mantelpiece and took two small objects from

the top and brought them over to him and Dana. Mulder recognised them as

something he’d perused when they’d first arrived. She handed them one each and

smiled sadly.

“I want you both to have these. Corwen loved this place; he always talked of

mermaids…. Singing to him when he was on the beaches here as a child.”

“Oh Katherine we couldn’t.” Mulder felt tears prickle at his eyes but his partner’s

were already spilling down her face. She’d been to hell and back in the last few

days, wondering if he would recover…the whole trauma and unanswered

questions. To think that her aunt had gone through this twice now.

“Thank you, so much we will treasure them always.” Mulder’s childlike wonder

and whispered reply reminded her so much of Ned. And he would have liked

Mulder. Katherine’s lips curled up in a smile.

“I’d like to think there are mermaids Fox. That they spared you from two warring

giants. When you were delirious you were saying they pulled you from the water

you know. They owed me this time. ” She pursed her lips.

Mulder shook his head, unable to pull that from his eidetic memory, but just a

fleeting flash of something tickled him in places he thought he’d forgotten. An

angelic face, a never ending song that swept over him like a feather touch and

too soon it was gone. When he came back to himself Scully was rubbing his hand.

She leaned over and kissed his and she turned his mermaid over in his hand with

such reverence, like it was speaking to him and only he could hear it. Katherine

handed them a small glass of Poitin each and took one for herself. They toasted

to the loved ones they had all lost and stared at the flames leaping up the back of

the fire and just for a moment, Mulder thought he heard that ethereal melody


“I’d like to believe that this time they saved both of you.” Katherine took his

other hand, still bearing the bruising of his ordeal and held it gently.

Mulder looked at her with great affection as he started to doze off again. “I want

to believe that too.”

The end.

My Favorite Moment

My Favorite Moment

Author: Waddles 52

Category: MSR

Rating: PG 13

Summary: Mulder and Scully try to have a normal Valentine’s Day.

Disclaimer: Okay, I think we all know the drill by now. The only thing I get out of writing

these fics is a sore back and a feeling of accomplishment, neither of which will make a profit

for me.

Archives: Exclusive to VS 15 for two weeks. After that it is available to archive. Please let

me know first. Okay?

Author’s Notes: Apologies to those of you in Winston-Salem and surrounding areas. After

doing some research, I know that the hockey team plays in a different building. I needed

an ice rink under the floor for a certain scene in my fic, so I took creative license and

changed things around a bit. Your city seems very nice and who knows, maybe I’ll end up

there for a concert myself one of these days. Stranger things have happened.

February 13th—–Basement Office

“I really hope that’s a new assignment you have in your hand.” Their office had been dead

for the past few weeks and Scully was so eager to get back into fieldwork that she’d even

settle for a real field, crop circles included.

“Sorry, Scully.” Mulder immediately noticed her disappointment. “Skinner had something

else in mind for us,” he grinned, waving the paper in his right hand.

“Don’t tell me. He’s going to send us to the archives to look for misfiled reports and we’ll

never be seen or heard from again.”

“Well, he doesn’t want to see us for a few days but he isn’t punishing us. These papers are

our tickets to freedom, at least until the 18th when our bright and shining faces are

expected in Skinner’s office at 8AM sharp.”

Scully looked confused.

“Grab your coat and briefcase and I’ll explain it on the way home.”

Mulder hefted a suitcase onto their bed and opened it. Scully began to carefully pack some

of her items. When she was satisfied with their placement she turned to face her partner,

her arms crossed on her chest. “All right, Mulder. You’ve kept me in suspense long

enough. I know that Skinner gave us some comp time and that we’re going out of town,

but I need to know whether to pack your long underwear or your Speedo. Where are we


He sat at on the foot of the bed and gently pulled her down to sit beside him. “I know that

you don’t particularly care for men painted blue after the last Modell case.” Mulder paused

as he thought of an even more unpleasant memory from that time.

“Putting that aside, I thought you might enjoy seeing some men painted in a different

shade of blue who are very much alive. I managed to score two third row seats to see the

Blue Man Group,” the tall, lanky man announced, looking very pleased with himself.

“Are you kidding? I thought they were here last night.” Scully was still a bit confused

about all of Mulder’s plans. Since their job required them to be on call essentially 24/7 it

was difficult to make plans too far ahead which made it next to impossible to get good

seating to events at the last minute.

“They were. We’re going to see them tomorrow evening in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

We’ll be leaving pretty early in the morning for the drive down and after the concert I

thought I could try to make-up for all of the Valentine’s days we’ve had to work . . .”

“Or the ones you spent in the hospital,” Scully interjected.

“Especially those. I thought we could leave the Twin Cities sometime Friday morning and

head to the beach for a day or two. Even though it’s still a bit too cool to swim, I figured we

might enjoy a few walks on the beach. On Sunday morning we won’t be able to sleep in.

Instead we’ll eat a nice breakfast and drive back at a leisurely pace.”

“That sounds wonderful, Mulder. I think the Blue Man Group will be a great way to take our

minds off work, or the lack thereof, and the other things you have planned sound pretty


“Great. I’m glad that you like what I’ve planned so far.”

Scully gave her partner a quick peck on the cheek and hopped off the bed to make her way

back to the dresser. “So, it’ll be too cold for the Speedo?”

“Um, I don’t think I’d want to wear it to the beach but I’ll be glad to model it for you in our


“Works for me.” She threw her favorite red Speedo into the suitcase.

Mulder decided it was time to get busy too. Although, he’d rather watch his love pack or

better yet, try to distract her from the job, he remembered that he still needed to reserve

some rooms for their Valentine getaway. He’d finalized the ticket purchase online last night

and found himself holding his breath as he waited for a reply from AD Skinner about some

comp time they had coming to them. Thank goodness he hadn’t had time to get grouchy

and signed off on the forms right away. Now, he hoped to come up with something very

nice in the way of lodgings for Scully

Scully had been curious about Mulder’s Wal-Mart purchase for a great deal of time on the

trip to North Carolina. Although her handsome partner wasn’t against saving money on

every day items, it wasn’t the type of store that he normally frequented. So it had been a

niggling thought ever since he put the bag in the trunk of the car early this morning.

“Hey, Scully, is that map handy?”

“Sure thing, Mulder.” She looked up in time to notice that they were getting close to their

destination and it was rush hour. She’d have to put her earlier thoughts away and put all of

her concentration into navigating the heavy traffic.

The Winston-Salem entertainment-sports complex was a lot larger than either of the agents

expected. Instead of one large building, there were several different venues along with

quite a few large parking lots. Fortunately, several signs pointed them in the right


Mulder smiled to himself. He had a big surprise for Scully and he couldn’t wait to see her


“We’re pretty early for a change, Mulder. Are we going to grab a fast-food dinner or wait

until we get to the motel and order something?”

“I’m kind of hungry right now. All that driving really gave me a huge appetite and it just so

happens that I made reservations at a really nice place.” He pointed to the Coliseum.

“I didn’t know that concession stands took reservations or had valet parking for that

matter.” Scully marveled as they pulled in front of the coliseum and stopped at the valet

parking stand.

Mulder showed one of the attendants his confirmation letter and handed over his keys.

Another attendant opened the door for Scully and before she could figure out what was

going on they were ushered into the Windsor Club.

“Happy Valentines Day, Dana,” Mulder whispered as they were seated at a table for two. “I

hope you don’t mind but I had to give your menu choices when I made the reservation. I

didn’t want to spoil the surprise.”

“Mulder, you know that I trust you with my life . . .” she trailed off and took a sip of water.

“But, not with your food. Ouch! Scully, that hurts!” He moved to wipe a fake tear from his

left eye but wound up laughing instead.

Their waiter came to take their wine order and refill their water glasses. Soon he was back

with their appetizer, a creamed soup with toasted bread.

“Mmm. It smells heavenly,” Scully observed and took a tentative spoonful. “And it tastes

just as nice. I love creamed onion soup.”

Their very attentive waiter brought the next course when they had finished their soup. A

Caesar salad was put in front of Scully. Mulder dug into his house salad as quickly as he

could. “I wasn’t kidding when I said I was hungry,” he explained when he noted the

amused look on Scully’s face.

Their waiter brought their wine then took their empty salad plates. Shortly thereafter, their

entrées and vegetables arrived.

Mulder held his breath. His entrée and vegetable choice for Scully would make or break this


“Mulder, you did good. This is delicious.”

Her partner had chosen a Pistachio Crusted Chicken Breast along with asparagus and a

Mushroom Risotto.

“Mine is great too.” Mulder had opted for a 10 oz. Prime Rib with a Twice-Baked potato and


“Here’s to your wonderful idea for this getaway and the Valentine dinner.” She raised her

glass to him.

“You are quite welcome. For dessert, I ordered one of each so we could share.”

That was very thoughtful of you. I wonder if the motel has a fitness room? I may need to

work some of this off tonight.”

“You know, I’m not really sure what it has. I had trouble finding what I wanted and finally

had to settle on something even the F.B.I. per diem would cover. I really tried to find

something nicer but I guess a lot of people decided to eat in a hotel restaurant and just

spend the night there. I promise that the accommodations will be much better for the rest

of the trip.”

After dinner, the couple made plans to meet on the concourse. Scully visited the powder

room while Mulder said he had to get something from the car.

Scully beat her partner to the concourse and began to look over the assortment of Blue Man

Group products for sale. When she felt a tap on her shoulder she turned to greet her other

half and his Wal-Mart bag.

“I’ve been wondering off and on all day just what you have in that bag.”

“Well, wonder no more, M’Lady. Tada!” He pulled two matching blue, vinyl ponchos from

the bag and handed her one.

Scully reached for the plastic-wrapped package, a puzzled look on her face.

“Our seats are pretty close to the front and I thought it would be less expensive to get them

at Wal-Mart. I should arrest these guys for highway robbery.” He pointed to the very

expensive ponchos for sale along with the over-priced t-shirts, programs and posters.”

“But I don’t understand why we would need them in an indoor coliseum.

“You are familiar with the Blue Man Group?” Mulder questioned, trying very hard not to


“Of course I am. I’ve seen them on Leno and other shows on TV.”

“Since I don’t want to spoil the surprise just be sure to put it on right before the show


Scully couldn’t help chuckling as they left the coliseum. She pulled the wet, sticky poncho

gingerly over her head and deposited it in the nearest trashcan as Mulder did the same. “I

really had fun tonight. Thank you for arranging all of this.”

“It’s about time we had a semi-normal Valentines Day. Agreed?”

“Yes. I would like to make it a yearly thing, too. The dinner was very traditional and quite

delicious and while I wouldn’t normally associate the Blue Man Group with this particular

holiday, I’ll remember this night every time I see them.”

“I’m glad you had fun.” Mulder walked a step or two ahead to unlock the passenger door

for her. It was then that she noticed the extra-long piece of toilet paper stuck to the

bottom of his shoe.

When Mulder got behind the wheel, he too, noticed it and pulled it off and tossed it into the

back seat. They looked at each other and laughed out loud, remembering the rolls of toilet

paper streaming down from the ceiling during the finale.


“Eew! Mulder, why didn’t you ask for a non-smoking room?”

“I did! Hang loose. I’m going downstairs to the desk to get this straightened out.”

A few minutes later Mulder returned with a smallish box under his right arm. “All of the

non-smoking rooms are occupied. When we missed the 7 PM check-in deadline, they gave

our room to someone else. They have offered to upgrade us to a King Suite at no additional

charge. It’s still a smoking room but it hasn’t been occupied since Monday. It has a hot tub

and a high def, flat screen TV. It’s either that or go to another motel and take our


“What’s in the box?”

“They gave me a bunch of those air fresheners that look like real candles but run on

batteries. It won’t keep the smell out of our clothes but it might make the room a little

more bearable. So, do we stay or go?”

“It’s too late and I’m too tired to look for another motel. I say we take the upgrade and

turn on the air fresheners.”


Scully was sitting on the couch when Mulder brought in their luggage and the new key card,

which he threw on the counter.

As he put the suitcase down he could tell that she was very uncomfortable. “What’s


“I don’t know, Mulder. Maybe I’m coming down with something. All I know is that my feet

feel as if they are encased in a block of ice.”

Mulder knew exactly what she was talking about as his feet felt the same way. They were

both more susceptible to cold since their time in the Antarctic so many years before. He

went to the back corner of the room and turned on the hot tub, then came back to sit

beside his love. “Put your feet up here.” He motioned to his lap.

Scully quickly complied. Mulder removed her shoes and began to massage her feet. “You

know, there was a hockey rink under the floor at the coliseum. My feet are pretty cold too.

I’m going to rub your feet for a while to see if I can get your blood moving a bit. It might

warm you a little.”

“Mulderrr,” she purred. “I can guarantee you that if you continue to massage my feet

things will definitely get a lot warmer.”

“What do you say we try out that hot tub? I turned it on and I can already see the steam


“That sounds like a wonderful idea.” Hopefully, the steam wasn’t the only thing that was

rising. “Why don’t you get some of those candles going while I rustle us up some towels?”

“That sounds like a great idea.” Mulder got up and pulled the first candle from the box.

By the time Scully emerged from the bathroom clad only in a towel, Mulder had turned off

the room lights and turned on several candles. He’d also managed to get rid of his clothes

and get into the hot tub.

Scully sniffed the air. “Well, the air fresheners do seem to cover up most of the smoky


“And they add so much to the ambiance of the room,” he grinned and stood to help his

petite partner into the tub.

Scully smiled broadly as she dropped her towel. Mulder was wearing the red Speedos.

“Now, those really add to the ambiance of the room.”

The two F.B.I. agents sat down in the small hot tub and shared a passionate kiss. “I really

didn’t intend to leave the Speedo on for very long but I guess I can continue to wear them if

it pleases you so much.”

“Oh, I think they can be just as pleasing right here.” Scully helped him slip out of the swim

briefs then hung them over the side of the tub. “Much better!”

“Happy Valentines Day, Dana,” Mulder whispered as the redhead climbed into his lap and

put her arms tightly around him.

“And a Happy Valentines Day to you too. I really enjoyed myself today.”

“How are your feet?” The slender, dark-haired man brought her right foot out of the water

and kissed each toe.

“Oh, that really warmed me up. Could you work on the other one?”

“My pleasure.” Mulder repeated the process with her left foot. “What was your favorite part

of the day?”

“Well, the ride down was fun. I really enjoyed being able to chat about something other

than work and the CDs you brought were a nice mix of music we both enjoy.”

“Anything else?” Mulder traced her jaw line, sprinkling light kisses along one side and then

the other.

“Well, the surprise Valentine dinner was wonderful. You managed to pick dishes that I

really enjoy and the glass of wine was a nice touch.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it. I saw the details online when I got the tickets for the concert and

just barely made the deadline for reservations.”

“The Blue Man Group was hilarious. I had seen them on TV but had no idea that they got

that involved with the audience. It was fun and I didn’t mind getting pelted with

marshmallows and other odd things. Thanks for the poncho, by the way.”

Mulder chuckled softly. “All of those things were very nice but my favorite part of the day is

right now, with your arms around me.”

“It’s my favorite moment also.”

Their mouths met in another sensuous kiss. Eventually, Scully broke the kiss to get some

air. “How are your feet?”

“They are on fire just like the rest of my body.”

“Mine feel the same.”

After sharing several more molten-hot kisses Scully caught her breath and then spoke. “I’m

so hot that I think I should get out of this tub and dry off. Then I might watch some TV

while I wait for my vital signs to return to normal.”

“Want some company?”

“More than ever because you are really the one who made this day so special for me.”

“I love you so much, Scully. I wish life could always be this nice, stale cigarette smoke and

fake candles aside.”

Scully pitched her partner a towel and they both stood beside the bed as they dried off.

“I love you, Scully,” Mulder whispered as he picked her up and laid her on the bed.

“And I love you so very much, Mulder. I wish we could stay this way forever.”

“I can’t guarantee forever or even tomorrow if Skinner gets a wild hair and calls us back,

but we do have here and now and I suggest we make the most of it.”

“My sentiments exactly. Let’s seize the day and hope for many tomorrows.”

Mulder pushed Scully down into the mushy hotel mattress and began to make love to her.

“Mmm,” Scully mumbled. “I think this is my new favorite moment.”

Mulder grunted in agreement. Soon both agents were silent in the afterglow of their

favorite time.

The End.


Love Hurts

Love Hurts by Vickie Moseley

Evanston, IL

February 7, 2008

Scully found him picking his way around the formerly immaculate living room. Blood had

already soaked into the cuff of his pants and she winced at yet another ‘dry-cleaning

miracle’ poor Mrs. Yancy would be forced to perform. “Mulder, are you about done here?”

she asked, her eyes darting around the room.

Unlike most of their cases, this one had a very definite perpetrator. Dr. Philip Coates,

professor of English Literature at Northwestern University was currently awaiting autopsy at

the Cook County Morgue, his body resting next to his wife of 35 years, Dr. Imogene Walsh-

Coates. It had already been ruled a murder-suicide, but Mulder still seemed to be searching

for clues. Clues only he could find.

“Mulder?” she asked again. It wasn’t unusual for him to get this focused during an

investigation. What was unusual was the fact that he’d dragged her out of bed in the

middle of the night to catch an early morning to flight to a crime scene that had already

been resolved. “Mulder!” she raised her voice to cut through his mental gymnastics.

He looked up at her, startled. “What?”

She sighed and crossed her arms. “Are you close to finished?”

“Yeah, just about,” he replied absently, picking up a framed photograph with his latex

gloved hand. “Did you get a seat at the autopsy?”

“Yes. And if you don’t come with me, you’re stranded here. I’d have the rental,” she

reminded him evenly.

He brushed his fingers across the images on the photo and gently replacing it on the table

beside the once cream-colored sofa, now spattered with brown stains of blood. He looked

up at his partner. “I guess I can go now. I can always come back.”

He walked over to her and turned her toward the door. They ducked under the yellow crime

scene tape and crunched through the six inches of snow-pack to the road.

“Mulder, you still haven’t told me why we’re here.” He’d been almost silent on the plane

and for once, had no bevy of case files to assault her with during the flight. She’d dozed

and he’d just sat watching the stars out the window.

“The Coates are the fifth couple in the Chicago metro area in the last year to fall by their

own hands, Scully. All the other couples were professional people — Ph.D.s, lawyers,

medical doctors. All the couples had been married at least 20 years, had grown children,

were considered stable, happy people.”

“Mulder, I admit that’s a high number, but do you realize the population of Chicago and the

suburbs? We’re talking a pool of 3 or 4 million people! And assuming that just because a

person has a good career means they aren’t susceptible to the pressures of modern life —

that’s elitism at it’s finest.”

“Scully, I’ve not saying insanity and education never mix, I’m saying this is a pattern. I

think there’s something more at work than meets the eye. Remember David and Amy


“The real question is, do _you_ remember David and Amy Cassandra, Mulder?” she asked,

tilting her head. “Amy was an alien abductee who underwent a dangerous treatment for her

depression. Do you suspect that another Dr. Goldstein might be at work in the Chicago


“Well, from what I’ve been able to determine, there is no alien abduction link here, Scully.

But the fact that there might be another Ketamine-pushing dentist-drilling mad psychologist

lurking in the shadows did cross my mind.”

As he adjusted his coat and put the keys in the ignition, she caught his hand. “Mulder,


He glanced down and saw that during his examination of the crime scene, he’d brushed

against some of the blood. It was already darkening to a deep purple on his shirt cuff and a

spot the size of a quarter was drying on his skin. “Oh, damn it,” he cursed casually. “Got a


She rolled her eyes and reached into her purse, withdrawing an individually packaged

antibiotic wipe. “Here, clean it off. We’ll have to mention that to Mrs. Yancy.”

He took the wipe, opened the packet and used the small square to clean off the blood from

his hand. “No open wound. I won’t catch anything, right?” he asked, his eyes twinkling.

“Not anything more than at any other crime scene you’ve traipsed through,” she assured

him. “C’mon, I told the ME I’d be there by noon and it’s 11:15 already.”

“Yes ma’am,” he saluted and pulled out from the curb into the quiet residential street.

Cook County Morgue

7:45 pm

“We’ll have those test results by tomorrow morning, Agent Scully,” Dr. Wanless, the medical

examiner said as he pulled off his gloves and hair cover. “Want me to call you at the FBI

office here?”

“Yes, or my cell phone. I left the number with your assistant,” Scully said. “I’ll let you

know if our labs turn up anything in the samples I sent over.”

“Seems a little redundant — both of us looking at the same blood,” Wanless said with a

cocked eyebrow. He’d been cordial and accommodating all afternoon, but Scully knew some

of her requests had caused more than a little curiosity and maybe even some concern.

“I know my methods seem . . . unusual. But I have my reasons,” she answered with a

shrug. “I’ll be sure to share anything I come across.”

“Well, it seems a little bit of overkill for a murder-suicide, but if there is something else at

work, I’m sure the family would appreciate the effort you’re taking,” Wanless said with a

warm smile. “Have a good night.” He left to go to the men’s locker room to change.

“Hey, I’m lost and wondering if you can help me find my partner. She’s a gorgeous red

head and usually seen wearing ugly blue scrubs and her hair in a pony tail,” Mulder said, his

eyes twinkling as he entered the room.

“I might know where you can find her, if you promise to feed her as soon as possible,”

Scully shot back.

“Uno’s? Best pizza in town, Scully.”

“Veggie with a side of fried mushrooms and you’re on, G-Man,” she replied. “Let me go


“Fried mushrooms. Was it that grueling? What did you find?” he asked, following her to the

door of the women’s locker room.

“After I change. Over food. I promise,” she told him with a hand to his chest, pushing him

backwards as she hurried through the locker room door.

Uno’s Pizza


8:30 pm

The dinner crowd was thinning as they were ushered to their table. Mulder put in the order

for the half veggie, half supreme pizza, deep dish, and fried mushrooms. Scully sat back,

relishing the feeling of sitting down after 7 hours in an autopsy bay. He let her ‘relish’ until

their drinks arrived, then his patience ran out.

“OK, Scully, what did you find?” he pleaded. “Please,” he asked politely, nodding his head

in her direction.

She smiled at him, but sighed. “Basically, Mulder, nothing. I did a complete survey of Dr.

Coates brain — no lesions to suggest a cause for violent behavior. His adrenal glands

showed no sign of wear, as we’ve seen in cases of LSDM exposure. I even checked the

xrays for chips in both the victims and found nothing. I sent samples of the blood over to

our labs and the Cook County labs are running tests as well. Unless something shows up in

the tox screen or a bacterium . . . Mulder, maybe they just had a simple argument that got

out of hand,” she concluded finally, twirling her soda straw between her fingers.

“I did a little checking on the past murders, Scully, as well as this one. In each case, the

victims were described as ‘the perfect couple’. Friends were appalled, neighbors were

shocked. No records of domestic disturbances, no known affairs, nothing to indicate a

troubled marriage. And in two of the couples, they had just booked cruises or vacations,

sometimes within days of the murders.”

Scully shook her head. “I don’t know what to tell you, Mulder. Sometimes it takes nothing

to make a person snap.”

“If it were one instance, I would agree, but Scully, this is five couples. That just doesn’t

make sense.”

“Well, I’m not sure what we’re going to find by staying here in Chicago. Unless you think

we should alert the CPD and have them warn all professional couples that are happily

married — ”

He grinned at her jab, but grew serious again. “I just feel something is here, Scully.” He

absently scratched his hand, just below the knuckle of his thumb. “Something happened.

This wasn’t random violence. There was a cause.”

“I’m not disagreeing with you, Mulder. I just don’t think the ’cause’ you’re looking for will

link these murders. In all likelihood, there was a different cause in each case. Violence

happens, even in the best relationships. You know that as well as I do.” She noticed he

was still scratching. “What’s wrong with your hand?”

He looked at her with a confused expression, then followed her gaze to where he was still

scratching his knuckle. “I dunno. It just started to itch a minute ago. Mosquito maybe?”

“In February. In Chicago. Hardly,” she said, taking his hand and inspecting it closely.

“There’s a rash here. Did you rub up against something?”

“That wet-nap you gave me this morning,” he said, shrugging.

“You’ve never had a reaction before,” she noted.

He pulled his hand from hers and rested his chin on it trying to get the discussion back on

the case. “Scully, I know you think this case isn’t a case, but my gut is telling me there’s

something going on. Can we please stick around, just until we get the test results back

tomorrow? Then we can go home with what we have and I can chew on it in our own little


She rolled her eyes, but in the end nodded with little enthusiasm. “OK, Mulder, but in

return, you’re the one to take the clothes to the dry cleaners and face Mrs. Yancy’s wrath.”

He was about to object strenuously when their pizza arrived and all conversation ended.

Mulder and Scully’s Townhouse


February 10, 2008

9:55 am

Mulder opened his eyes. The headache he’d been quietly fighting for the last 24 hours was

beginning to win the battle. Even the weak mid-winter sunlight streaming in through their

bedroom window caused him to wince. He reached behind him for his partner and came up

with empty sheets long gone cold. He sat up immediately, the pain behind his eyes

doubling and then tripling in force. “Scully?” he ground out.

Getting out of bed, he shivered against the cold of the bedroom. “Scully?” he called again.

No answer greeted him. He made his way to the bathroom. The room was humid, the

shower curtains still wet. He blinked as his vision doubled for a second and then cleared.

“Scully!” he bellowed, as loud as his headache would let him.

She was gone. She’d left him. Alone.

The word rattled around in his head, dancing with the pain that had taken up a staccato

beat against his forehead. Alone. She left him. Alone. She found someone else, someone

smarter, sexier, someone had caught her fancy and he would never see her again . . .

He closed the lid on the toilet and sat down, burying his face in his hands. That was how

she found him ten minutes later.

“Mulder?” she asked, walking past the bathroom, but coming back to stand in the doorway

when she saw him sitting there. “Are you all right?”

His head snapped up from his hands. “Where were you?” he demanded. He bit his lip when

his headache reverberated each syllable inside his skull.

“Mass. I went to 9 o’clock at St. Anne’s. Why?”

A convenient lie, a small voice whispered in his head. Mass, who would question that? Of

course, St. Anne’s was on Tinley Circle and there was a Catholic Church just across the

Georgetown University football field just a block or two away. Who was she meeting at

Tinley Circle?

He rose and shoved past her. “You should have told me you were leaving,” he snapped,

heading into the bedroom. He grabbed a pair of jeans off the chair near his side of the bed.

“I woke up and you were gone.”

“Mulder, it’s Sunday morning. I always leave you in bed. I brought back croissants and the

New York Times, like I always do,” she said casually. “Do you want to eat here or down in

the dining room?” she asked but he obviously was only half listening.

“I don’t like it when I don’t know where you are, Scully. You know that,” he said tersely as

he removed a long sleeved tee shirt from the dresser and gingerly pulled it over his head.

“I didn’t know where you were, I didn’t know if you were meeting someone — ”

She eyed him critically. He was squinting and kept turning away from any sunlight in the

room. She knew she was right when he grabbed his sunglasses from the nightstand and

put them on. “Mulder, do you have a headache?” she asked.

“I’m going out,” he growled.

“Mom’s expecting us in Baltimore at 3,” she reminded his back as he headed down the


“I’ll try to be back in time,” he quipped and slammed the door on his way out.

The winter sunshine was only partly dimmed by the dark glasses and the cold air was a

shock after the warmth of their home. He felt for his keys, but decided he needed a walk,

fresh air. If he’d had two brain cells working in tandem, he would have thought to put on

his running shoes and gone for a nice four or five miles. Walking would just have to do.

About two blocks down the street, in the direction of Georgetown University campus, his

head started to clear and he realized what an idiot he’d been. He knew Scully went to Mass

each Sunday. He knew they had a standing date to snuggle in bed with the Times when she

got home. She’d even picked that church near Tinley Circle because the second Mass

offered was scheduled to get out just about the time he usually started to wake up on the

average Sunday when they were home. It was something he always looked forward to each

week they weren’t out on a case.

Why in the world had he thought she was meeting someone? Who would she meet? Since

they’d become intimate she had never looked at another man. His mind quietly reminded

him of Damien Willis . . .

No, she had been hypnotized at the time! And even then, she’d fought to keep from hurting

him. No, Mulder had absolutely no reason to question her love and devotion, and yet . . .

he had.

What the hell had happened? That damned headache had blotted out every rational

thought from his mind. But now, in the fresh air and sunshine, the pain had vanished and

he was left feeling like a complete and total asshole.

The little campus bookstore had just opened up for early risers. There was a display of

stuffed animals in the window, all decked out in red and pink ribbons with hearts and

flowers. Damn — Valentines Day was just around the corner. And he’d just blown up at

Scully for no good reason. Now he felt lower than an asshole.

Luckily his wallet was still in his pocket. He went into the bookstore and looked over the

selection in the window. A stuffed bulldog with a forlorn expression looked exactly as he

felt. He picked it up without bothering to look at the price and took it to the cash register.

Once in line, he saw some of her favorite chocolates and bought her a small box. He paid

for the purchases and hurried out the door. He had a lot of apologizing to do.

She was in the living room, pretending to read the Times when he got home. She looked up

apprehensively as he walked into the room. The thought that she might think he was still

mad at her stabbed him right in the heart. He’d seen a similar look on his mother’s face

before his parent’s divorce — that look never really went away. Suddenly, he couldn’t

breathe right.

“I’m so sorry,” he gasped out, hurrying to her side and burying his head on her shoulder.

Scully was a little shocked at his actions, but not at his words.

“Mulder, I’m sorry, too. I’m really sorry if I scared you. I know how frightening it is when I

wake up and you’re not there. If I did something — ”

“No, Scully, it’s not your fault. Not at all. I just forgot it was Sunday, that’s all. And that’s

a pretty stupid reason for me to storm out of the house. I’m an idiot.”

She pulled away so she could look at his face. Silent tears were streaming down his cheeks.

“Yeah. But you’re MY idiot,” she said with a tender smile, wiping his damp cheeks with her

thumbs. “Besides, you brought me something. Where’s my ‘I’m an idiot’ present?”

He untangled from her arms only long enough to retrieve the plastic sack from the floor. He

handed it to her before pulling her onto his lap.

“Oh, Mulder, he’s cute,” she cooed. Then she caught sight of the price tag. “Mulder, you

spent $29.95 on a stuffed dog?” she asked, eyebrow raised in accusation.

“Uhhh . . .” was his only defense.

“But the chocolates are nice,” she said, kissing him on the nose. “C’mon. You can feed

them to me, along with the croissants I brought you.”

So what if they were a little late getting to Maggie’s in Baltimore.

FBI Headquarters

February 11, 2008

Mulder pulled another file folder from the stack on the left side of his desk and opened it on

the pile in front of him. He was reading statements from friends and family members of the

five murder-suicides. In each case the tributes were glowing, but he still sensed that he

wasn’t getting the whole story. The frustration he was feeling was beginning to manifest

itself in a pounding headache right at his temples. He removed his glasses and tossed them

onto the open file folder.

“Still searching?” she asked, looking up from the report she was typing.

“These weren’t random events, Scully.”

“OK, let’s take a step back. Have you found any commonalities?”

“They all had higher than average IQs and they all made more money than the both of us,

combined,” he sighed, rubbing his forehead. “Aside from that, nothing. They live in

different suburbs, apparently never crossed paths — it just doesn’t make sense.”

“Well, maybe it’s something environmental,” she suggested. “They all live in the Chicago

area, right?”

He didn’t have time to answer when the phone on his desk started to ring. He grabbed it

angrily, barking his name into the handset. After a second he held the phone out to her.

“Skinner’s assistant.”

She gave him a look that spoke to her confusion and took the phone. “Scully here.” She

nodded twice and hung up the phone. “Skinner wants to see me in his office.”

He looked at her curiously. “He wants to see you? Did she say what it was about?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “No idea. Just said that I was to come up immediately.” She

glanced down at her watch. “Look, I have no idea how long this will take. Why don’t you

go on to lunch without me?”

He frowned. “I can wait till you get back,” he offered, but his stomach growling almost

drowned out his words.

She grinned at him. “Nah, go ahead. I’ll grab something from the cafeteria,” she said,

squeezing his arm. “I’ll see you later.”

He watched her leave the office, an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. He heard her

heels tapping down the hall, heard the elevator bell as it announced its arrival. Suddenly he

felt very cold and shivered. He got up from the desk and walked over to pull on his coat. It

was freezing in the office.

Scully’s coat was hanging there, next to his. He touched it, feeling the wool. There was a

scent on it — her perfume. But it didn’t smell right. It wasn’t her perfume — it smelled

different. He sniffed the collar and down the shoulder to the sleeve. It was a men’s

cologne, he was sure of it.

Skinner! It smelled like Skinner’s cologne!

They were having an affair, right here in this building! That had to be it. Skinner was

always calling her, having her come up to his office. Could they be that stupid? Did they

think he wouldn’t find out?

Maybe it was Skinner she was meeting at Tinley Circle. The thought almost dropped him to

his knees. He and Scully had made love — right after she’d been with Skinner for a tete-a-

tete. How could she do this to him?

He had to confront them. He stormed out into the hallway and right past the elevator,

choosing the stairs as the quicker method.

The lancing pain hit him right as he rounded the fourth floor landing. It felt as if someone

had driven a railroad spike through his left eye. He dropped to his knees, grabbing his

head, hoping he could ride out the agony. He couldn’t keep his eyes open and the cold

seemed to seep into his very pores. He didn’t even notice when his head hit the edge of the

step, sending him into oblivion.

A clerical worker found him several minutes later. By the time Scully arrived, with Skinner

hot on her heels, Mulder was lying on a cot in the infirmary.

“He says he doesn’t want to go to the hospital,” the nurse said grimly. “You could make it

an order, sir,” she directed at Skinner.

Scully hurried to his side, gently peeling back the tape and gauze covering a small cut on

his forehead.

“I’m fine, Scully,” he said, not meeting her eyes.

“Mulder, what happened?” she asked, perching on the edge of the cot.

“I slipped,” he lied, staring at his shoes. His thoughts were all jumbled, but the anger was

still there, still licking at his mind. He couldn’t look at her, not when she was betraying him

right under his nose.

“Slipped,” she repeated, her disbelief obvious.

“Yes, I slipped. My foot slipped off the step and I fell. Now, may I please go back to the

office and everyone can stop standing around staring at me?” he asked impatiently.

“Were you unconscious, Mulder?” she asked, her arms crossed.

He looked away, not answering.

“He was just coming around when I got there. There’s no telling how long he was out,” the

nurse offered.

“We have to get an x-ray,” Scully told him firmly. “You could have a concussion.”

“No,” he said, shaking his head, which only served to make it hurt worse. “No. I’m not

going to any hospital.”

“Agent Mulder, you were injured on Bureau property, you will go to the hospital and get

checked out. That is an order,” Skinner said gruffly from his place by the door.

“Why? So you can screw my partner while I’m gone?” Mulder sneered. He was off the table

and before anyone could stop him, he pulled his gun on Skinner. “I should have seen this

coming. You’ve had your eye on her for years.”

“Mulder!” Scully yelled. “What are you talking about?”

“Mulder, I don’t know what you think is going on, but believe me, you aren’t thinking clearly

here,” Skinner said slowly, holding his hands up and away from his body. “No one wants to

hurt you.”

“No, you just want me out of the way, that’s all,” Mulder shouted back. “But you can’t have

her! I’d rather see her dead than with you!” He turned toward Scully and that gave

Skinner just enough time to tackle him to the floor, knocking the gun out of his hand.

Mulder struggled for a moment before the pain ratcheted up again and this time he simply

blacked out.

Georgetown University Medical Center

February 12, 2008

Skinner found Scully at the nurses’ station, flipping through a chart. “How is he doing?”

Scully smiled at their boss. “Much better this morning, thank you. I was just checking his

levels. His doctor thinks we’ll have the infection under control in time for Mulder to be

home for Valentine’s Day.”

Skinner smiled and shook his head. “It was an infection?”

“As near as we can tell,” Scully hedged as they made their way down the hall. “His white

count was off the scale and he was running a pretty high fever when we finally got him

here. We’re still trying to pin down the exact nature of the bacterium, but it appears it was

passed to Mulder from the infected blood of the last victim — Dr. Coates.” At Mulder’s door

she stopped. “He’s still pretty embarrassed by it all. He’s apologized to me about a 1000

times just since breakfast.”

Skinner shook his head and stopped before entering the room. “He does know that he

wasn’t to blame, doesn’t he?”

“Intellectually — yes. Emotionally — not so much. I can understand, sir. Once upon a time

I had the same problem.”

Skinner nodded. “You both spend way too much time finding your way into a striped file


Scully opened the door to Mulder’s room, Skinner following her, but careful to leave a polite

distance. “Agent Mulder, you’re looking better.”

Mulder blushed and licked his lips. “Sir, I’d just like to — ”

“Save it, Agent,” Skinner smiled fondly. “Wasted breath. I know you weren’t yourself. You

know, one of these days you’re going to run out of that excuse — I was drugged, I was


Mulder rolled his eyes. “Just my little way of keeping your life interesting, sir,” he said with

a shrug.

“That you do. Well, I’ll see you back at the office — as soon as your doctor releases you for


“Thanks for stopping by,” Scully said. Mulder nodded his thanks and they both watched

their superior leave.

Scully reached down and took Mulder’s hand. “Mulder, I know I don’t say this often enough

— ”

“Scully, I know you’re not seeing anyone else. You don’t have to say anything.”

“Mulder, what I was going to say is, you have to be more careful at crime scenes,” she

huffed. “If you hadn’t gotten the blood on your wrist none of this would have happened.”

“Yeah, but it helped us solve the case,” he pouted.

It was her turn to roll her eyes. “There are much easier ways to solve a case.”

He nodded slowly. “So . . . I guess I have to stop by a jewelry store when they finally

release me. Somehow I don’t think a $29 stuffed dog is going to make up for this one.”

“No, but a nice pair of pearl earrings might do the trick. Followed by a Valentine’s dinner

along the Potomac,” she said with a smile.

“Scully, I think I’ve learned a lesson here.”

“And that would be?”

“Love hurts. Especially in the checkbook.”


Love Hurts by Vickie Moseley



By Martin Ross

Category: X-Files/The Closer Crossover

Rating: R for language, sexual content, violent images.

Spoilers: Sanguinarium

Summary: LAPD Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson may finally have met her match in a

fugitive sorcerer and an agent named Mulder.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Chris Carter and James Duff for creating two of TV’s quirkiest


Residence of Dr. Robert Hartman

Beverly Hills, California

11:23 a.m.

“Jesus H. Marimba,” Provenza breathed as he frowned down at the body sprawled on

the pool deck, and then at the serene face on the skull that presumably matched the

body sprawled on the pool deck.

The white-haired detective then glanced irritably up at the young cameraman trained

on his every move.

“Damn it, Buzz,” Lt. Provenza growled as he glared at a clearly amused Lt. Flynn five

yards away. “Take two.”

“We have to keep rolling — Chief Pope says,” Priority Homicide’s official

documentarian apologized, his eye glued to the viewfinder.

“Like freakin’ MTV. I don’t know why we couldn’t have waited for Tao. I mean…Aw,

crap. The victim — or victims — is — or are — a male — or males,” Provenza

informed the camera, then sighed in exasperation. “The M.E. hasn’t arrived on the

scene yet, so we haven’t yet been able to, ah, definitively ascertain whether this

body–” he gestured — “belongs to this head. However, CSU has bagged and tagged

a wallet taken from the, ah, body that contains a California driver’s license belonging

to one Dr. Robert Hartman, who resides at this address. Said license appears to

match the, um, the aforementioned head, but we’ll need the M.E. to verify that the

head belongs to the body.”

Flynn, struggling to maintain a deadpan expression, nodded at the body. Provenza

shot daggers.

“There appear to be no other wounds on the body, or the head, aside from the body

being decapitated and the head being, um, uh, disembodied?”

Flynn doubled over, shaking silently, face scarlet.

“Cut, dammit!” Provenza snapped.

“Hey, Geraldo,” Lt. Flynn wheezed. “I know a good agent, you need one.”

“Hey, Flynn, shove it up your…”

“And a good morning to you, Lieutenant.” Provenza and Flynn turned in unison as

Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson approached the taped-off

crime scene, trailed by Sgt. Gabriel. The chief eyed the body, then the head. “Oh,

my. And who do we have here, Lt. Flynn?”

“Dr. Robert Hartman. Boob jobs and asslifts.” Flynn looked up from his notebook and

registered the tight-lipped expression beneath superior’s sunglasses. “Uh, cosmetic

surgeon, Beverly Hills. Does a lot of celebs, society wives. I think he did the tits on—

“Thank you, Lt. Flynn,” Brenda chirped. “Lt. Tao had a chance to go over the scene


“Ah, he’s on a Homeland Security bioterrorism training exercise today, Chief,”

Gabriel murmured. The sergeant had struck the deal that had kept the squad intact

but on periodic loan to DHS.

“Dress slacks, shirt buttoned to the neck.” The transplanted Georgian nodded toward

the expansive mansion beyond the Olympic-scaled pool. “Anyone been inside yet,


“Sanchez’s in there with the CSU guys.”

The deputy chief squinted at the open patio doors. “Sgt. Gabriel? Thank you,

gentlemen — carry on.”

“Detective Sanchez?” Brenda called as she edged past a tech printing the patio door

handles. Hartman’s den was immaculate, masculine and leathery and lined with thick

volumes. The CSU crew strove not to look up as the infamous head of the Priority

Homicide Squad prowled deeper into the plastic surgeon’s home. “Detective


“Right here, Chief,” Sanchez called from the front of the house. Gabriel hustled after

the deputy chief.

They found the compact detective in the marbled foyer, examining the front door

jamb with gloved fingers. “No sign of forced entry, Chief.”

“I assumed so, Detective,” Brenda murmured, scanning the small room. The foyer

opened both into a spacious living room and a darkly paneled dining room. A broad,

carpeted staircase beckoned to the right of the Olympian dining table. Sanchez and

Gabriel exchanged resigned glances as their boss beelined for the staircase.

Brenda used her pen to lift the tail of a cerulean blue Daniel de Fasson tie draped

over the newel post. “Must’ve just came home – barely had time to get his tie off.”

“Maybe the killer was waiting for him to get home,” Gabriel suggested. “Doc invited

him in, they went out to the pool, had a fight…”

“And the killer pulled out his handy machete and sliced his head off?” Sanchez


Brenda turned and peered into the dining room. A pair of French doors lie beyond

the table, and she spotted brick and stainless steel beyond the doors.

“Or,” Brenda breathed, striding past the staircase, “or the killer came around the

back way.” She threw open the French doors. “This is one of those, oh,


“Grilling patio,” Gabriel murmured, admiring a gleaming commercial barbecue and

the arsenal of grilling tools hanging beside it. “My uncle, the dentist, he has one of

these. Not nearly as nice as this, though.”

Brenda stepped out onto the flagstones and slapped the high brick wall surrounding

them. “Nice private place to meet somebody, you don’t want the neighbors to see.”

“What?” Gabriel called over a growing mechanical roar.

“I said—” Brenda stopped, eyes widening. “What’s that sound, Sergeant?”

“Sounds like a mower,” Gabriel half-shouted.

“A what?”

“A lawn mower, Chief. I think it’s a lawn mower. Maybe next door.”

Brenda rushed back through the house. Sgt. Gabriel shrugged as Sanchez looked up,

and gave pursuit.


“Sir!” Brenda called as she stumbled over the immaculately tonsured turf next door.

“I need to talk to you!” The landscaper, hardwired into an iPod, looked up briefly,

then returned to his mowing.

Brenda stepped up her pace. “Sir, stop that! This is a police investigation! Y’all have

to stop that!”

The compact, mustachioed man continued to plow a shallow furrow in the emerald


“Pare que, o voy a tirar su culo en la cárcel!” Sanchez shouted behind Brenda.

The man slowed, looked around, but did not stop. “El jefe dice que hay que hacer

hoy!” he grunted loudly.

“‘The boss says I have to do it today.’”

“Lord,” Brenda gasped as the phrase simultaneously translated itself. Then she

jumped again as she detected the black-suited stranger behind her shoulder.

Sanchez gave chase. “Hey! No me importa. Se trata de una investigación de


“‘I don’t care. This is a murder investigation,’” the helpful interpreter provided.

Brenda edged away from him.

“‘Esa no es mi preocupación,’” the gardener called out, staring straight ahead at the

vast expanse of unshorn grass.

“‘It is not my concern,’” the stranger murmured into Brenda’s ear. She batted at


“Excuse me,” she snapped. “Who would you happen to be?”

“Si yo llamo de INS, sera!”

The mower halted and its operator disengaged the engine.

“Special Agent Fox Mulder, FBI,” the newcomer supplied. “Your guy said it will be his

concern if he calls the INS–“

“INS, yes, I got that,” Brenda said through her teeth. She beamed at the young

Latino cop. “Thank you, Detective Sanchez.” The smile vanished as she returned to

Mulder. “Agent, while I truly do appreciate your spirit of interagency cooperation, I

can assure you that I am quite fluent in Spanish. Now, may I ask why you’re

tromping all over my crime scene?”

Mulder grinned, jerking his head toward the house next door. “I thought the crime

scene was over there. I mean, that’s where your men currently are swapping

headless guy puns with the CSU techs.”

Brenda’s eyes narrowed as her lips twisted into a forced smile. “Sgt. Gabriel, could

you please remind Lts. Provenza and Flynn that this is a high-profile murder

investigation, and that the media and especially Asst. Chief Pope may not share their

sparkling re-par-tay? Thank you, Sergeant. Detective Sanchez, could you please ask

this gentleman…”

Sanchez nodded stolidly.

Brenda turned to the gardener, who stood by with bored anticipation. “Un momento,

por favor?” The man shrugged. Brenda nodded curtly.

“Now, Agent Mulder, you were about to tell me about your jurisdictional interest in

this case?”

“We — my partner, Agent Scully and I — believe your victim to be the suspect in a

series of fairly grisly murders about 12 years ago, in Chicago. The suspected

murderer, Dr. Jack Franklyn, also was a cosmetic surgeon.”

Brenda frowned. “And you’re telling me this man came to L.A. and eventually put out

a shingle as one of Hollywood’s highest-profiled nip-and-tuck specialists?”

Mulder paused. “The Chicago case dead-ended, well, based on some fairly compelling


“Evidence of what, Agent?”

“Evidence of our chief suspect‘s demise,” Mulder said hastily. He turned. “By the

way, barn door’s open.”

The landscaper’s eyes and right hand moved immediately to his jeans. His fingers

froze, and the dark brown eyes rose guiltily.

Brenda glanced appraisingly at Mulder, then smiled sweetly at the lawnmower man.

“Well, it appears as though we have conquered a major cultural barrier here.”

“OK, OK,” the man sighed with a Latin-tinged California accent. “My name is Rey

Menendez. I heard what happened to that man next door, an’ I guess I didn’t wanna

get messed up in it. I was born East L.A., but I got cousins, comprende?”

“I do, sir, and I see no need to delve into your family affairs,” Brenda said softly.

“But we do have a murder investigation here, and anything you can tell us would be

greatly appreciated.”

“In other words,” Sanchez rumbled, “the sooner you talk, the sooner you walk.

Comprende, amigo?”

“Si, yes,” the gardener nodded somberly. “I was getting my mower off the truck —

like I said, the owner here, he’s having some kinda party out here tomorrow. Well, I

hear this yelling from next door — the dead man, he’s fighting with this chica–“

“Latino?” Sanchez demanded.

“No, man, blonde babe, muy caliente, you know? She had these wraparound shades,

but I know I seen her before, like at the movies. But around here, that ain’t no big

thing. Comprende?”

“Yes,” Brenda murmured troublingly.

Priority Homicide Squad

Los Angeles Police Department

Park Center, Los Angeles

3:54 p.m.

“Shit, shit, shit,” Erin Linscott sobbed, a pinkie perched under her lower lid to

prevent disfiguring liner leakage. The actress beamed tearful gratitude as Sgt.

Gabriel nudged the box of Kleenex across the interview table. “I told Bobby he

needed to hire some security, a little muscle. He was in US just last week.”

Brenda perked. “Excuse me.”

“The magazine. It was a huge spread, all about how many careers Bobby’s saved

while he does all that work with burned kids.” The pinkie trapped a small, salty

reservoir — the two-time Golden Globe nominee quickly swabbed it away. Brenda

noticed the artful curve of her button nose — a curve that hadn’t existed when

Linscott had filmed Sophomore Summer seven years ago. Her chest also had gained

breadth and definition since that classic had been released. Brenda took a flyer ar

how she and “Bobby” had met.

“I’m sure he was just a fine man,” Brenda murmured sympathetically. Will — Chief

Pope — had given her the speech about the sensitivity of Dr. Hartman’s homicide and

its implications for Hartman’s largely A List clients.

“Thanks — he was,” Linscott said, sniffling. She smiled poignantly — the signature

smile that had branded her “the Julia Roberts for a new generation” and catapulted

her beyond Meg Ryan’s aging charms. “You’re a very nice lady, not what I would

have expected from a cop.”

“Why, thank you,” Brenda beamed, dripping magnolias.

“With that voice and bod, you could get into movies, or at least TV. Shit, half the

girls I know would kill for those lips. Collagen?”

“They are my own,” Brenda cooed.

“Wow. If you just had a little work done on–” Linscott halted, looking away from the

center of Brenda’s face. The deputy chief absently touched the tip of her nose, and

Brenda imagined she could hear Flynn’s laughter from the Tech Room, where several

of the squad were watching the interview with Hartman’s bereaved girlfriend. Gabriel

bit his cheek, while Mulder, behind Linscott’s shoulder at Will’s insistence, appeared

oblivious to the exchange. Linscott’s attorney sat stoically, like an Armani-draped

lawn ornament.

Brenda’s smile faltered. “So, ah, Ms. Linscott? When did you last see Dr. Hartman?”

The starlet paled. “Two nights ago — we went to a premiere, Jake Gyllenhaal’s new

thing, then Lucques on Melrose.”

“Then back to Dr. Hartman’s place?” Brenda inquired casually. The attorney came to

life, and she raised a hand. “I don’t mean to be intrusive — it’s just the doctor’s

cleaning woman was in yesterday, and we’ll want to eliminate any prints of friends or

acquaintances we find in his home.”

Surprisingly, Linscott was smiling coyly. “You don’t read the trades or the tabs, do


“I’m usually pretty busy,” Brenda flustered, not wanting to sound elitist.

“Uh, Chief, Ms. Linscott’s straight-edge,” Sgt. Gabriel said.

“Excuse me?”

“No booze, no tobacco, no drugs — not even coffee,” Agent Mulder interjected. “And

absolutely no sex. Straight edge started in the hardcore punk culture in the ‘80s —

it’s been revived by alternative rockers and entertainers into the organic/natural

foods movement.”

Linscott grimaced. “You make it sound like a cult, like Scientology or something. Oh,

Jesus, don’t tell anybody I said that, or I’d never work with Cruise or Travolta or

diCaprio again. Not that I have, actually. My mother — she used to manage me —

told me sex would ‘drain my focus’ on the set, and then I started hanging out with

Woody Harrelson…”

“All right,” Brenda interrupted, glaring balefully at Mulder. “So you claim not to have

been on Dr. Hartman’s premises since two nights ago.”

“I’ve been busy — we’re shooting an indie, great story about lesbian colonists in New

England who were tried as witches. Real Oscar stuff.”

“Reason I ask,” Brenda persisted, “is we have a witness who claims to have seen a

woman matching your description engaged in animated discussion with Dr. Hartman

shortly before his decapitated body was discovered by a neighbor.”

Linscott gasped. The attorney clasped her arm.

“This interview is concluded,” he purred. “I will note your insensitive and derogatory

manner with your superiors.”

“How sweet,” Brenda smiled. The attorney gathered his case and his client and

exited with well-crafted dignity.

“She seemed surprised,” Sgt. Gabriel suggested a beat later.

“She’s an actress, Sergeant,” Brenda retorted.

“You don’t get out to the movies much, do you, Deputy Chief?” Mulder asked,

grinning. Brenda spun on him.

“You know, Agent, you never did explain to me just how an apparently deceased

suspect could remain a viable suspect? I’ve had some small experience in forensic

pathology, and that just doesn’t seem to track. Would you care to amplify?”

Mulder sighed and perched on the edge of the interview table. “Agents Scully and I

investigated the murder of a patient at the cosmetic surgery unit of Greenwood

Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The murder was particularly gruesome — the patient’s

physician used a liposuction wand to extract much of the victim’s internal organs.”

“My God,” Brenda whispered. “And this was Dr. Hartman? This Dr. Franklyn you

referred to?”

“No,” Mulder drawled. “An associate of Dr. Franklyn’s, a Dr. Lloyd.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand…”

“The lipo-cide was the first in a series of deaths that occurred at the hospital, Several

of these deaths occurred under highly unusual, improbable circumstances. Agent

Scully and I managed to intercede in the last murder attempt. A set of surgical

instruments was found in the intestinal tract of the intended victim. Our investigation

revealed several of the doctors in her unit were involved in ritualistic practices. The

black arts, to be precise.”

Brenda’s jaw dropped. “What are you trying to tell me, Agent Mulder? That Dr.

Hartman is some kind of cult leader or warlock or something.”

“Actually, a male witch is still called a witch, not a warlock–”

“Thank you for the comparative religions class, Agent Mulder.” Brenda murmured.

“And you believe our victim is this witch doctor Franklyn?”

“There’ve been a couple of strange murders in Southern California over the last few

months — murders with vaguely medical overtones and with links to Dr. Hartman’s

practice. And Dr. Hartman’s arrival in Los Angeles coincides roughly with Dr.

Franklyn’s abrupt disappearance in Chicago.”

Brenda nodded, her expression incredulous, and turned. “Sgt. Gabriel, find out if

Det. Daniels has managed to locate the deceased’s partner, Dr. Callan?”

Mulder adjusted his rump uncomfortably. “Ah, Deputy Chief?”

“Yes?” The single word was imbued with simultaneous dread and menace.

“My partner, Agent Scully, managed to run down Dr. Callan at L.A. Memorial right

before Ms. Linscott got here. She’s already headed over.”

Brenda was silent for a moment, before her eyes turned glacial and a copperhead

smile spread across her features. “Well, Agent Mulder. I appreciate your wanting to

save us the inconvenience of chasing all over town after Dr. Callan. But we have an

active, local homicide here — not some. . .some witch hunt. So if you’d like to try

another end run around my squad, we’ll see what you’re A.D. thinks of your little

fairy tale. Have I made myself clear, Agent Mulder?”

He swallowed. “Yes, ma’am.”

The copperhead smile vanished. “Excellent. You don’t mind if Sgt. Gabriel drives, do


Los Angeles Memorial Hospital

4:56 p.m.

The FBI’s end run had been blocked at the gate: They found Agent Scully — a small,

ultra-serious counterpoint to Mulder’s flaky persona — checking her phone mail in

the L.A. Memorial burn ward waiting area. Scully pocketed the phone as her partner

approached, cops in tow.

“Skin grafts,” she sighed. “He’s been in there the last two hours.”

Mulder blinked. “I guess everyone grieves in their own way.”

“It’s actually fairly admirable,” Scully suggested. “Callan’s colleagues say he was

pretty broken up about Hartman’s murder, but insisted on operating on the kid in

there. I guess Callan did most of the pro bono surgery for the partnership. Hartman

loved the Hollywood scene. Weird — if it is him, you wouldn’t think he’d want to

maintain such a high profile.”

Scully’s observation was designed to discourage, but Mulder wasn’t so easily

daunted. “He’s demonstrated his arrogance and ego to us. Given his ‘abilities,’ I’m

sure he feels a growing omnipotence. Flaunting his power and success is probably a

big part of his trip.”

“What abilities?” Brenda inquired. Mulder spun. “See? Pretty unnerving, isn’t it? What


“It’s complicated,” Scully began.

Brenda squinted and rubbed her temples. “Well, gimme a try. I finished high school,

you know.”

“As well as graduating Langley and passing the Atlanta and D.C. police exams,”

Mulder grinned. “We’re not being condescending — this is just a very convoluted

case with some unorthodox dimensions.”

“Yes.” Brenda stretched the word by a syllable. “You mentioned that Dr. Hartman

was a witch.”

Scully exhaled loudly. “That was an oversimplification,” Mulder said. “Based on the

circumstances of the Chicago murders and certain, ah, symbols we found on the

hospital premises, we believe Hartman, AKA Franklyn, was a black magician. A very

adept practitioner of the dark arts.”

Brenda listened silently, then smiled and nodded. “Now there — was that so difficult?

I’ll simply ask Sgt. Gabriel here to deputize David Copperfield, and we’ll have this

whole thing wrapped up by suppertime.”

Sgt. Gabriel tapped his boss’ shoulder. “I think the operation’s over, Chief.”

A distinguished, if homely, man in scrubs emerged as the double doors of the

surgery suite whooshed open. Brenda adjusted her purse on her shoulder and edged

past Mulder and Scully.

“Good job, Mulder,” Scully breathed.


“Dr. Callan?” Brenda called, her heels clicking on the gleaming hospital tile.

Darrel Callan looked up blearily. “I assume you’re the police, about Bob.”

“Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson,” she announced briskly.

“How’d the operation go?” Gabriel asked quickly. Caulking the gaps in his chief’s

interpersonal skills set had become an important duty as otherwise assigned.

Callan glanced back. “According to form. That’s the easy part — now, we have to see

if the grafts take. And any 10-year-old who’s sustained this kind of trauma is looking

forward to decades of counseling.”

“Speaking of trauma,” Brenda interjected gently, “I’m sure you’ve been informed of

the extreme circumstances of your partner’s death.”

Callan nodded. “I’ve been in surgery since about 11 or so, but your Detective Flynn

notified our office nurse, and she text-ed me.”

“Yes,” Mulder said. “We’ve been trying to reach you.”

The plastic surgeon straightened with a severe smile. “Agent, let me tell you

something about the medical profession. We see death on a daily basis — maybe not

in my practice, but here, in the trenches — and we soon learn that if death isn’t final,

it is at least irrevocable. Now, that boy in there has been waiting in intense, nearly

untreatable pain for some glimmer of hope. He and his parents. Bob, sadly, is

beyond pain. Triage, people — that’s what it’s about.”

“I hear you do a lot of pro bono work, Doctor,” Scully said.

Callan glanced at the redhead. “Dr. Hartman is — was — an accomplished aesthetic

surgeon. He accomplished sheer magic with a scalpel — his work was as seamless as

God’s own. I’m no slouch myself, but I have an aptitude perhaps better suited to the

clinical setting. Bob and I are blessed with the resources, the wherewithal, to offer

our skills to those who most acutely need them.”

“Your skills, don’t you mean?” Brenda asked sweetly. “What I hear, Dr. Hartman was

more accustomed to the club scene than the burn ward.”

Callan nodded knowingly. “OK, I see where this is going. Look, Bob was the big

moneymaker for the practice — Bob. Let me tell you up front — with Bob’s death,

yes, I inherit controlling interest in the practice. But not Bob’s skills or reputation.

Less revenue, less pro bono. Besides, Detective Flynn said Bob’s death was violent,

as you characterized it, extreme. A crime of passion, it would seem. I know of only

one person who elicited much passion in Bob.”

“Erin Linscott?”

“I doubt that New Age wraith would have had the strength or stomach to do what

was done to Bob. However, wherever there’s a hot young Hollywood starlet, there’s

usually some young piece of beefcake driven by testosterone and temperament. You

might look there. Now, I want to start making arrangements for Bob’s internment. If

you have any further questions, I’m confident my attorney can address them.”

“Thank you,” Brenda told Callan’s back as he headed resolutely down the corridor.

“He makes a good point,” Sgt. Gabriel conceded. “Hartman’s the one in the tabloids,

the one on Entertainment Tonight.”

“And the one with a partner who’s more interested in healing scarred kids than

realigning the noses of the rich and famous,” Mulder suggested. “As commendable as

Callan’s altruism is, it has to be a drain on the practice’s ‘resources.’”

“Hartman was ready to give Callan the old heave-ho,” Brenda murmured, tasting the

idea. “Callan does a pre-emptive strike, makes it look like a crime passionel. Or he

goes to Hartman’s to save his skin, so to speak, and tempers flare. Sergeant, we

need to see if Hartman had the clout to cut Callan loose.”

“Could’ve been a hit, too,” Sgt. Gabriel offered. “The assistant M.E. at the scene said

Hartman may have been beheaded with a single blow. Sounds like a pro trying to

look like a meth head gone wild.”

“Superhuman, almost supernatural strength,” Mulder noted.

Brenda regarded the agent with disbelief, then turned on her heel. “C’mon, Darren.

I’ll give you a ride back to the sstation on my broom.”

Howard-Johnson residence

Los Angeles

6:38 p.m.

“Uh, oh,” Special Agent “Fritz” Howard breathed as he pulled his key from the front

door and the scent of herbs and rich gravy hit his trained nostrils. He lowered his

briefcase and peered into the dining nook. The glow of candles illuminated the aged

wood of the table.

“Oh, boy,” he sighed.

“Hi, there, Fritzie,” Brenda beamed as she emerged from the kitchen with a steaming

casserole. She was wearing an apron over the only dress Fritz had ever given a

nickname — an unspeakable nickname.

Now, he was truly frightened.

Brenda crooked an arm around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss that might

have brought life back to the dead. The deputy chief leaned back, sighed

contentedly. “How was your day, Baby?”

“OK,” Fritz said, extracting himself. “What’s up?”

Brenda blinked. “Fritz, whatever do you mean?”

“What do you have? Rachel Ray hidden in the kitchen? You’re wearing your fu–,

your hey sailor dress, and you’re pouring on the Steel Magnolias routine a little

thicker than usual.”

Brenda’s nostrils flared. Then she composed herself with an injured smile. “I just

thought you might enjoy a little spoiling tonight, a little special treatment.”

Fritz smiled. “Brenda. C’mon.”

She stared at her fiancé for a moment and frowned. “Oh, all right. You have pretty

good pull with the L.A. field office, don’t you?”

“I guess. Wait a minute. Is this about that Mulder guy you asked me to check out?”

“He is absolutely, totally certifiable,” Brenda pleaded. “You have to do something,


“Wow, this guy must be a real flake, if you’re–”

Brenda’s nostrils returned to full aperture. “And just what is that supposed to


Fritz backpedaled. “Hey. All I’m saying is, you’re a big girl — I mean, you have a

very strong force of will. Very.

“You are not helping yourself,” Brenda said through her teeth.

“Look, I’m not questioning your take on Mulder. He definitely seems a few grains

short of a bowl. He and his partner, who seems solid enough, are basically their own

two-person department within the Bureau. The X-Files, whatever that means. I

couldn’t find out much, but apparently, they investigate freaky stuff — paranormal

occurrences, crimes with some kind of scientific angle, supposed ritualistic or

government conspiracies.”

“Oh, my God.”

“He’s also one of the FBI’s top profilers — he’s cleared dozens of serial cases. He

might actually be useful. At the very least, he seems to be harmless — a slightly

obsessive goofball. And Mulder doesn’t seem to care much for authority — you give

him a chance, and you two actually might hit it off.”

Brenda’s lips tightened. “So you don’t intend to help me.”

“You don’t need help — at least in the professional sense. Wait. Scratch that. C’mon,

Brenda, where you going?”

Brenda stopped ion the bedroom doorway. “Gonna get this damned dress off. It’s

killin’ me, and you sure as hell ain’t gonna get the opportunity.”

Residence of Dr. Robert Hartman

Beverly Hills

9:12 a.m.

“You weren’t in yet, and he said it was real important,” Provenza explained as

Brenda strode purposefully up the late Robert Hartman’s paved drive, Sgt. Gabriel

again in tow.

“I told y’all I had a dental appointment,” the deputy chief huffed, brushing past the

white-haired detective. She sailed through the open front door. “Agent Mulder?

Agent Mulder! Where the hell are you?”

“In here — the kitchen.”

“Criminy dutch,” Brenda muttered as she stalked through the luxurious home. She

found the agent poring with gloved fingers through a series of bottles lined up on a

marble prep table. Scully was comparing bottles with a book spread open on the

counter. Mulder looked up.

“Chief Johnson,” the agent grinned. “There’s something I wanted you to see.”

“Y’all going to fix me breakfast?”

Mulder chuckled and plucked a bottle from the table and jiggled its chopped yellow


“Basil.” Brenda paused. “I thought basil was green.”

“Goldenseal. It’s most commonly used to make yellow or orange dye, but it’s also

celebrated in some circles as an herb used for healing and to attract money.”

“That’s fascinating,” Brenda drawled.

“So far, Dr. Hartman’s spice cabinet appears to contain goldenseal, alder bark,

patchouli, myrrh, and what’s the rosemary, Scully?”

“It would appear to be blessed thistle,” his partner reported dispassionately.

“Great for hex breaking,” Mulder told the deputy chief. “All these herbs and

botanicals are used by neopaganists and other practitioners of the dark arts. And get


Brenda followed Mulder to the breakfast nook, where he indicated a large wooden

bowl full of white crystals.

“Salt?” Brenda queried. “So the good doctor had a thing for margaritas.”

“Coarse salt. It’s a little less conspicuous than an altar pentacle for cleaning tools

and other mystical knick-knacks.”

“I’m partial to anchovies on my pizza,” Brenda responded dryly. “Different strokes.”

Mulder sighed, shaking his head. “Scully, keep inventorying. Chief, would you

accompany me to the dining room?”

“Do I have any choice?”

Mulder stopped before an antique sideboard. A large black platter trimmed in gold

hung above the piece. The agent peered at his reflection in the platter, brushing a

lock from his forehead.

“Pretty,” Brenda said, tersely.

“And functional, if you’re a functioning sorcerer. See that pattern at noon, 3, 6, and

9? The circle flanked by two crescents. That’s the Lunar Triple Goddess, which

represents the three aspects of the moon — waxing, waning, and full. Another

common neopagan symbol. This is a black mirror — what’s called a scrying object.

You look into it, and eventually, an image appears that can be viewed directly or its

meaning interpreted by a trained practitioner. I could go on and on, but the fact is,

this house is full of subtly hidden manifestations of pagan belief and practice.

Brenda was silent for a moment. “Obviously, Agent Mulder, you haven’t been in L.A.

nearly long enough.”

“If Dr. Hartman were a run-of-the-mill Hollywood whack job, you think he’d go this

far to hide it? I thought whackjobbery was kind of a badge of honor out here.”

“I’m beginning to think so,” Brenda mumbled.

“The point is, isn’t it straining coincidence that Dr. Hartman follows the same pagan

practices Dr. Franklyn employed to commit several murders?”

“You’ll have to pardon me, Agent Mulder, but I’m still at something of a loss about

the specific circumstances of your Chicago homicides. And what led you to Dr.


Mulder paused. “Well, as I told you earlier, you’ve had a couple of suspicious area

deaths. The teenager in Encino who was found in a ditch without his kidneys?”

“Satanists,” Brenda suggested, not mentioning the crucial fact that the boy’s body

revealed no incisions or scars.

“What about that woman in Belair? The realtor who went in for an appendectomy

and who wound up with a lungful of locusts?”

Brenda formulated a response, then reconsidered and formulated three more.

Finally, she slung her bag over her shoulder.

“I have some real police work to do, Agent Mulder,” she stammered, bumping into a

dining room chair. “I’ll leave you and Agent Buffy to pursue these ‘leads.’”

Mulder stood with mute amusement as Brenda barked a series of orders at her

underlings. The mansion’s front door clattered.

“Hey, Scully,” he called into the kitchen. “Chief Johnson just gave me a great idea for

a new role-playing game…”

Priority Homicide Squad

Los Angeles Police Department

Park Center, Los Angeles

3:54 p.m.

“All right, what’ve we got?” snapped Brenda, who was flanked by a long double white

board painstakingly filled with photos, documents, and sticky notes outlining

timetables and trivia about all the persona involved in the life and untimely death of

Dr. Robert Hartman.

The deputy chief had returned to Parker Center under a black cloud, and her

detectives came to rapid attention as she entered the squadroom. Now, the

members of the LAPD’s crack Priority Homicide Squad glanced uneasily at each


“Um,” Lt. Flynn finally articulated. “Turns out the good doctor had a gambling jones.

Haunted the poker parlors every Thursday night.”

Brenda was intrigued. “Was he in deep?”

“Actually, Chief, he’d been warned off at a couple of joints. They couldn’t prove

anything, but he cleaned up on every table he played.”

“Maybe his sportsmanship came into question,” Brenda muttered. “Check to see if

there’ve been any particularly disgruntled playmates. Lt. Provenza? Any unhappy


Provenza, who’d volunteered to take the list of starlets, debutantes, and models,

pushed his bag of Fritos aside. “You’da thought this guy was Dr. Schweitzer or

something. A medical miracle worker, according to the brain trust. Gotta say, he

sure does some fine work…”

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Brenda sang. “Detective Daniels, any leads on the angry ex


The young detective consulted her notes. “Linscott dated that Australian action guy,

Troy Patersen, for a while last year, but things just kind of fizzled out, and he’s with

some British supermodel now. A few other guys, but everybody checks out for the

time of the murder.”

“Lt. Tao? What did Dr. Morales come up with?”

Tao’s glasses fell onto his nose as he rose for his customary discourse. “As the M.E.

thought, cause of death was a simultaneously severing of the carotid and jugular

arteries. One clean stroke with what appears to be a single-edged, rough-edged



“No — it would appear the blade was recently sharpened, but not professionally. The

wound itself contained traces of dirt and chlorophyll. Now, the lab hasn’t processed

any of the blood found near the body yet, but…”

“Just a second, please.”

The squad looked up as one. Mulder was framed in the squadroom doorway, arms

crossed, wearing a frown.

“Lt. Tao, right? Did you say chlorophyll?”

Tao looked to Brenda. The deputy chief nodded curtly, in resignation.

“Yes, um, the wound contained traces of chlorophyll, as well as metal particles,” Tao

explained. “The particles were only a few microns—”

“Particles?” Mulder queried.

“Yes. Particles. Traces.”

“Traces?” Mulder murmured.

“Traces, yeah. I dunno. Like filings, I guess?”

“Metal filings?”

“Agent Mulder,” Brenda implored. “Before poor Detective Tao exhausts the entire

Roget’s Thesaurus, could I please ask why these, these…filings…are such a source of

fascination for you?”

“Filings and chlorophyll,” Mulder amended.

“Of course, chlorophyll,” Deputy Chief Johnson breathed. “Chlorophyll and metal

filings.” Brenda froze; her eyes widened as she bit her lips. “Oh, my goodness. Lt.


Flynn’s mug stopped halfway to his mouth. “Chief?”

“I need you to secure the lawn next door to the Hartman house.”

The lieutenant frowned. “The lawn? Wait a minute. The lawn next to the victim’s


“The lawn, Lieutenant, the lawn. I need you to put up a perimeter around the entire

lot. Nobody else gets in.” Brenda looked up at Flynn. “Lieutenant, shoo. Shoo now.

And take Detective Tao with you. I want you to check for blood, skin, whatever,

behind the neighbor’s house.”

Tao’s glasses dropped from his forehead onto his nose. “You know how big that lawn

is, Chief?”

“Detective Tao, all I need you to do is test a patch about 20 feet long and, oh,

maybe six feet wide.” Brenda pivoted toward Provenza, who glanced guiltily up from

his Far Side desk calendar – his 2005 Far Side desk calendar. “Lt. Provenza, I need

you to locate the landscaping service that was, uh, servicing the Hartman home at

the time of the murder. Though I don’t hold out a lot of hope that you will. I’m

guessing our landscaper has gone to ground, you should pardon the pun. Well, get

dialin’, Lt. Provenza, please. Time’s wasting.”

“Ok, whoa” Sgt. Gabriel blinked. “I’m lost. Totally. You think the lawnmower guy

killed Hartman.”

“Heat of the moment?” Mulder suggested. “An impulse kill? If so, he was pretty quick

on his feet.”

“Chief,” Detective Daniels demanded.

Brenda ran a hand through her hair. “Rey Menendez or whatever his name turns out

to be must’ve been staking out, or stalking Dr. Hartman, but Dr. Hartman caught on,

confronted him?”

“Must’ve had a replacement mower blade handy,” Mulder explained. “Just sharpened,

thus the filings. Used blade, thus the chlorophyll. Like a machete.”

“But with the cops working the protest down the block, he couldn’t risk making a

hasty exit,” Daniels contributed. “So he decided to stay at the scene and bluff it out.

There’s always a lawn service working somewhere out there.”

It dawned on Sgt. Gabriel. “So you’re saying he put the murder weapon on his

mower and—”

“And ditched the evidence in full view of the LAPD,” Brenda fretted. “Yes, I suppose

that’s what I’m saying, Sergeant.”

“Don’t feel bad,” Mulder commiserated. “I should’ve suspected something was up

when ‘Menendez’ was so worried about us siccing the INS on him. If he was a real

illegal, he’d probably have known Immigration and Naturalization had become

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, ICE. We all kind of dropped the ball, Chief.”

Brenda smiled sourly and crooked her head coquettishly. “Well, thank you — that is

sooo sweet, Agent Mulder. C’mon, Sgt. Gabriel, let’s roll.”

Residence of Yves Faison

Beverly Hills

11:05 a.m.

“You hear me just fine,” the indignant landscaper snapped. “Not your grass. Mine.”

Yuki Matsuhari, CEO and president of Beverly Gardens Landscape (indeed the firm’s

sole executive officer), had ignored the LAPD crime scene perimeter next door and

had proceeded to buzz (and mulch) the crucial turf. This time, no interpreter had

been necessary — the sight of Flynn and Tao charging across the lawn, arms flailing,

had struck a universal chord with the homeowner’s regular landscaper.

Lt. Flynn stepped toward Matsuhari, who grasped the handle of his mower

territorially. “Listen, buddy…”

“Lieutenant, if I may,” Brenda Leigh cooed. “Sir, I’m sure you would want to

cooperate with the Los Angeles Police Department. That…grass…in your possession

may be evidence in a murder case.”

Matsuhari crossed his arms. “Compost. My tomatoes. My grass. Mr. Faison say I can

take away. Good organic content — I fertilize myself.”

“Jesus,” Flynn breathed as Brenda tried to avoid the potential implications of the

gardener’s proud revelation. She raised a calming hand and bolstered her smile.

“Mr. Matsuhari, I regret to inform you that the gentleman next door was murdered.”

Matsuhari’s brow rose. “No shit?”

“No sh–…I mean, no, sir. We’re currently investigating the poor man’s death. That’s

why it’s imperative we take custody of this grass.” She glanced back at the half-ton

pickup in the drive. “Every bag of it.”

Matsuhari frowned, considering.

“Sir,” Mulder interjected from behind Brenda’s shoulder. Again, she jumped. “I’m

with the FBI. I’m sure the Bureau would be happy to compensate you with the

composting material of your choice in exchange for you surrendering the clippings in


Matsuhari looked at the phalanx of cops around him. “Deal.”

Flynn moved toward the truck.

“Not so fast, ‘buddy,’” Matsuhari shouted. “You get grass when I see my compost.”

Priority Homicide Squad

Los Angeles Police Department

Park Center, Los Angeles

5:14 p.m.

“Jason Peavey?” Brenda inquired as she entered Interview Room 1. She glanced at

the paler and far less buff man beside the thirtysomething landscaper. “And you

would be Jason Peavey’s attorney, I presume.”

“My client was enjoying a fishing weekend in San Jose when the Coast Guard

swarmed his vessel,” the lawyer huffed.

“How very frightening that must have been for your client,” Brenda purred, arching a

conspiratorial brow at the burly Peavey, whose gaze had been fixed several inches

below the deputy chief’s chin. Peavey smirked; she’d surmised from his bored

expression that he had little use for his attorney.

“Let’s see how sarcastic you are when we challenge your seizure of Mr. Peavey’s

property,” the lawyer sneered.

Brenda blinked. “Your client’s property was at the scene of a homicide yesterday,

without your client.” She turned to Peavey. “Do you have an employee named

Menendez, Rey Menendez?”

Peavey frowned. “Nah. It’s just me and my cousin, and he was with me in San Jo–”

“Jason,” the attorney prompted. Peavey exhaled, annoyed. Brenda smiled knowingly

as she straightened in her chair. “We’ve got a half-dozen witnesses, including the

dockmaster, who can vouch for my client’s whereabouts the last three days.”

Brenda nodded. “Mm. Well, then, maybe somebody stole your client’s truck.”

“Obviously,” the lawyer faltered.

“Except, shoot, we found it parked in your client’s driveway, wiped clean of

fingerprints. And the keys were inside his condo, on the kitchen counter, also wiped

clean. In all my years in law enforcement, I swear that is the most considerate car

thief I’ve ever heard of.” Brenda leaned across the table. “That what you think, Mr.

Peavey? That you’ve been the unfortunate victim of a gentleman car thief?” She

cocked her head. “Or is it possible instead that you’ve been taken advantage of?

That you’re the victim?”

“Address your questions to me, Chief,” the lawyer asserted weakly.

Brenda obliged, with a sunny smile. “Reason I ask is, we — I mean that editorially, of

course — found something kind of curious when we inspected the undercarriage of

your mower. I’m sure an educated gentleman such as yourself knows about

centrifugal force.”

She waited. The attorney stared stonily for a moment, then coughed.

“Oh, my.” Brenda turned back to Peavey, who looked up quickly. “Well, my daddy

used to take me on the Tilt-a-Whirl at the county fair — scared me something awful,

but then Daddy had trouble distinguishing sheer terror from squeals of delight.

Anyway, that car would keep whirlin’ and whirlin’ and whirlin’, and I’d be squashed

up against the seat like a tick on a huntin’ dog.” The chief’s already viscous southern

patois thickened as she reminisced. “I’m sorry. My point is, that was centrifugal

force. That’s what we think happened with your lawn mower.

“See, we think your gentleman car thief was considerate enough to clean the blood

and tissue off your lawn mower blade after using it to nearly decapitate a man.” The

magnolias in her voice turned to steel. “This fellow’s pretty bright — he knew the

police were on the way, so he put the murder weapon on your mower and used our

murder victim’s lawn to wipe away his sins, so to speak.

“But our friend apparently failed his physics courses, because he just forgot all about

centrifugal force. When that blade started whirlin’ and whirlin’, it spattered eensy,

teensy, microscopic bits of blood and DNA and brains inside the undercarriage. My,

your attorney appears a might green about the gills. I’m sure we could round up a

glass of water…”

The lawyer shook his head vigorously. Brenda nodded hers with equal vigor, and

turned back to Peavey.

“So in short, your gentleman car thief has implicated you in a homicide. That

scarcely makes up for the fact that he apparently fed your cats and took your

newspapers and mail inside while you were down the coast trolling for…marlin. This

man must be the most courteous murderer in the annals of crime. Either that, or you

know this man. We got two different sets of fingerprints off your cat’s food dish.

Guess when we run those prints down, we’ll just ask our killer if he knows good old

Jason Peavey.”

“Jason, no–” the lawyer advised.

“That’s right, Jason.” Brenda’s voice once again was redolent of honeysuckles. “You

listen to your attorney. He’s represented some very important folks over the years —

you’re lucky to have him. What, do you do his lawn? He must be very committed to


“Hey,” the attorney protested weakly.

Jason blinked, and Brenda knew she’d guessed correctly. The landscaper fell back in

his chair and exhaled loudly.

“Guy’s kind of an asshole, anyway,” Peavey muttered. “Jay Pirelli — he’s an actor.

Commercials, ‘Third Doctor in Background’ on Grey’s Anatomy, that kind of shit. We

play Texas hold ‘em every Thursday night, and when I’m out of town, I let him take

the truck out, do some mowing and shit to help him out. For a split, of course. In

exchange, he keeps Guenther fed and keeps the neighborhood methheads from

knowing I’m gone. Shit, you say he killed somebody?”

Brenda’s expression was unreadable.

Jason paused. “One of my clients?”

The deputy chief shoved a legal pad toward him. “Name, address, phone number,

anything else you can come up with.” Brenda shoved her chair back, and left the

landscaper to confer with his still-ochre attorney.

Tao was waiting in the corridor, fidgeting, tapping a manila folder against his palm.

“Chief, lab results just came back. They’re still analyzing the clippings, but there are

a few traces of what might be blood on the mower undercarriage. They have to do

some more tests, but if they can separate…”

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Brenda sang, turning happily on her heel.

Sierra Hills Productions


9:23 a.m.

“No, no, NO!” the director, a Francis Ford Coppola look-alike (save for his bleached

hair) shouted. “You’re a freaking fireman, not a Gap model! Quit pouting, asshole.”

He took a calming breath and a gulp of Evian. “All right, all right, everybody, take

five. Then maybe we can get this cinematic masterpiece in the can. You think?”

The pouting fireman lowered his hose, which had been trained on a bikinied blonde

in an Adirondack chair holding a bag of Ultra Caliente Habanero Snak Puffs. The

young actor, cheesily dashing with sharp Mediterranean features, tried to chat up his

co-star, who quickly retreated to the makeup table. He shrugged, then spotted the

two old dudes approaching him.

“Jay Pirelli?” The younger of the two asked. He looked like a slickly-dressed extra

from The Sopranos, as did his more rumpled white-haired buddy, but Jay was up on

his gambling obligations, so he smiled dazzlingly.

Then, the slick-dressed one came up with a wallet, and before Jay could see the first

flash of badge, he swung the Adirondack chair at the cops. It caught the white-

haired one in the gut, eliciting a stream of words Jay recognized from that gangsta

flick where he’d played “White Prison Guard.” Gaffers and technicians scattered as he

sprinted for the soundstage fire exit. Flynn and Provenza trampled the bikini blonde’s

fabricated “back yard” in pursuit, sidearms now drawn.

The exit door slammed into brick as Pirelli blinked against the harsh sun. It had been

somewhere around 10 takes to induce the director’s near-aneurysm, and he hadn’t

seen daylight for a few hours. His car was a block away, but Jay was buoyed by the

advanced age of his pursuers and his daily regimen at one of the cheaper Gold’s

Gym knockoffs.

“Mr. Pirelli?”

The voice was feminine, throaty, but full of steel. Like Hilary Swank or Sandra

Bullock in one of those cheesy action movies. His eyes adjusted to the light, and he

spotted the short redhead attempting to block the alleyway. Jay could hear the old

cops cursing behind him, and the redhead went for what he assumed to be a gun.

The actor had been an extra in the Longest Yard remake, and he crouched and

charged the short chick.

Then the lights momentarily went out. Jay came to to a field of blue sky, a startlingly

black gunbarrel, and a furious face framed in red. Agent Dana Scully rolled him onto

his belly, roughly.

“Shit, Flynn,” he heard the white-haired cop grunt. “I think I may be in love.”

Priority Homicide Squad

Los Angeles Police Department

Park Center, Los Angeles

12:12 p.m.

“Well, Mr. Pirelli, or should I say Mr. Menendez?” Brenda beamed as she settled

across from the actor. “I have to say, you were most convincing yesterday morning.”

Pirelli smiled lazily despite his circumstances. “Hey, thanks. I play better Latino than

Italian. I even did a terrorist on 24 last season. No lines, but hey…”

“New face must be opening a lot of doors for you,” the deputy chief purred. “I saw

your headshot before Dr. Hartman straightened that nose for you. Just another mug

in the crowd back then, huh?”

Pirelli leaned forward. “You gotta go ethnic today. And I don’t mean Italian — thanks

to those Defamation League assholes, most of the good Mafia gigs have dried up,

and ‘sides, it’s all about the gangstas now. After Doc Hartman fixed me up, the roles

started rolling in — I even lined up a semi-regular gig in a network version of one of

those Mexican telenovella things.”

“Sounds expensive, a nose job like that from a high roller like Robert Hartman.”

“We were in the same poker game lots, and he took an interest,” Pirelli said. “Doc

hardly ever lost a pot, but one night, I guess his luck went south, ‘cause by

midnight, he was into me five large. I’m sure he was good for it, but he knew I

needed a professional jumpstart, so he offered to front the five grand as a down

payment on a new nose.”

“Can’t repossess a nose, can you, though?” Brenda inquired. “Your agent says the

offers haven’t been rolling in so much the last couple months.”

The actor slumped back in his chair. “OK, I was a little slow coming up with the rest

of his fee. How was I gonna pay him off if I couldn’t get any parts?”

“You saying Dr. Hartman somehow blackballed you?”

“All I know is, one minute I’m up to my ass in primo roles — TV, movies. Then,

Hartman starts putting on the screws for his money, and I’m hustling commercials

for local check cashing joints. So I decide to see if I can find something to relieve the

pressure. Capisce?”

“Don’t you mean comprende?” Sanchez asked from his post on the interview room


“Hey, nothing personal, man,” Pirelli squeaked. “’Sides, I fooled you, right? I don’t

play into stereotypes, you know?”

“Gracias,” Sanchez replied. “So you decided to blackmail Hartman into letting up on


“He’s rich, these Beverly Hills docs can write scrip for anything, and he’s got a

gambling jones and a thing for the ladies. Though why he’d pick the Ice Queen…”

“Ice Queen?” Brenda inquired. “Ms. Linscott? She seemed like a perfectly nice young


“With that 26-year-old virgin act? You ask me, Little Miss Straight Edge is a world-

class P.T.” Pirelli grinned at Sanchez. “You know what I mean, right, amigo?”

“Wouldn’t know, paisan,” Sanchez grunted.

“I figure if I can catch them in the act, prove Erin’s had her cherry popped, it might

be worth the balance of my bill to him to keep it on the down-low. So I staked out

his place last couple weeks.”

“Find anything good?” Brenda asked, a prurient glint in her eye.

Pirelli sucked at a tooth for a moment, evaluating his options.

The glint extinguished. “’Cause, Mr. Pirelli, you tried to eliminate key evidence in a

homicide — a murder weapon you brought to the scene. Now, I don’t really see you

for the part of killer, mainly cause I just don’t believe you got what Detective

Sanchez here might call the cojones for what happened to Dr. Hartman. But unless

you can offer me another scenario, I don’t see a happy ending for you, Mr. Pirelli.”

“All right, all right,” Pirelli puffed. “I took some pictures, last Wednesday and again

the other night, at Hartman’s place. He had Erin and some other people over — I

recognized an actor Erin did an indie with last year, and a couple of studio guys.

Some of the others, I don’t know — maybe some of Hartman’s doctor buddies. But it

was strictly low-key: Three or four of them parked down the street and went to the

back of the house. And there weren’t any lights on or music playing — it wasn’t a


“What do you think it was?”

“This town, I was thinking an orgy, maybe? ‘Cept a couple of these people would put

the brakes on an orgy at the Los Angeles Zoo monkey house. So I grab my Nikon,

and sneak around the bushes, hoping I can catch Erin doing a studio VP or Hartman

doing a collie or something?”

“And were there any unusual husbandry practices going on?” Brenda pursued.

“I got too weirded-out before I could see anything good. I finally found a window

around the side where I could see what was going on. There were candles all over

the dining room — on the floor, the tables, everywhere. Everybody was in a circle

around Hartman, and Erin was staring at some kind of screen on the wall.”


“Screen, TV, I dunno. It was round, with like gold trim.”

Brenda’s nails grasped the table as she recalled Mulder’s tour of the dining room. The

agent had asked to monitor the interview with Pirelli in the Tech Room; she expected

him to come busting through the door any second.

“You positive it was a screen?” she asked, swallowing.

“They were watching some kind of weird shit — sci-fi, horror. Crappy special effects –

– face on the screen looked like something out of Star Wars. Nothing I could sell to

Hartman or the tabloids.”

Brenda looked up at Sanchez, who frowned in confusion. She turned back to Pirelli.

“OK. Let’s talk about Dr. Hartman’s murder. You borrowed your buddy’s truck to

stake out his place from next door.”

“Nobody pays attention to the lawn guy,” Pirelli explained. “I’d found out the

neighbor was out of town, so I set up on the back lawn.”

“You said you saw a woman arguing with Dr. Hartman. Was that the truth?”

“I, uh, I made that up. I thought I’d throw you off — point you toward Erin. I’d been

hauling crap around, trimming hedges, trying to sell the performance, you know.

Then I look over and see the doc’s legs sticking out from behind one of his pool

chairs. Then I see what looks like blood. So I go over, and, Jesus, I thought I was

gonna puke, except I did a Crossing Jordan and I knew you guys could trace my

DNA. I mean, shit, they lopped the guy’s head off. Who does that?

“And then, then I see the mower blade, all covered in blood. They must’ve got it off

the truck — somebody knew I’d been scoping things out and tried to frame me. I’m

about to get the fuck out of Dodge when I hear sirens, and I know I’m trapped. So

my actor’s instinct kicks in–”

Sanchez snorted.

“– and I pull the blade off Jason’s mower, replace it with the bloody one, and try to

clean it off on the neighbor’s lawn. I’m sorry about lying to you guys, but I didn’t

know what else to do. I couldn’t have done something like that, lady. Like you said,

I’m an actor — I don’t have the balls.”

Brenda nodded as she rose. “Well, why don’t you just hold on to whatever you’ve got

down there for a few minutes, OK? Detective Sanchez?”

Brenda jumped as she opened Mulder appeared in the open doorway. The deputy

chief shoved the door shut with her derriere. “Agent Mulder, would you please,

please stop…skulking? I assume you heard all that?”

“Franklyn’d definitely started a new coven out here,” Mulder concluded. “But made

up of, what, an A-minus-list actress and some other Hollywood types?”

“One of whom might’ve offed him,” Sanchez noted.

Mulder shook his head. “The Franklyn who engineered those murders in Chicago was

a powerful, accomplished magician. The gambling, the partying, dating young

starlets? It’s bush league. It doesn’t seem like him. Neither do those two homicides –

– the ones that led us to ‘Hartman.’ Too conspicuous, too risky.”

“So, what?” Brenda challenged. “Now you DON’T think Hartman was Franklyn?”

Mulder sighed. “I think Hartman WAS Franklyn. I think someone may have made a

deal with the devil. Or two.”


“Of course, I want to help any way I can,” Darrell Callan told Mulder tersely as he

took his seat in the Priority Homicide Tech Room. “But outside the practice, Bob and

I lived quite separate lives. As I’m sure you’ve discovered. I socialized with Bob and

Erin some, as a couple, but we scarcely traveled in the same circles/”

The agent smiled as Buzz tinkered with the interview room audio. On the monitor

before him, a grainy Brenda was oozing small talk and compliments as Erin Linscott

and her attorney settled in across the table. Provenza watched Mulder cautiously —

he’d been briefed on what had sounded like the most hair-brained, insane scheme

he’d seen his erratically brilliant boss perpetrate. Even Deputy Chief Johnson had

seemed tentative as she’d given him his sketchy marching orders.

“Interesting turn of phrase — circles,” Mulder murmured. “Hartman wasn’t always

the party boy, was he? According to some of his former associates, he was

something of a sociable recluse when he first came to L.A. Quiet, professional,

discreetly charitable, He earned a solid standing in the community and the

profession, re-established the kind of lifestyle he’d been used to in Chicago, but he

stayed under the radar. He didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to himself.”

“What are you trying to tell me?” the homely cosmetic surgeon demanded.

“On the other hand, Dr. Darrell Callan has been a fixture on the L.A. scene for

years,” Mulder continued. “You’re a gifted surgeon, but you’ve had something of a

checkered past, haven’t you? The horses, a DUI and a coke bust that both went

away with a little influence, the women…”

Callan sipped the coffee Provenza had supplied, staring calmly at Mulder. “Is that

what this is about? All right, yes, I’ve had my problems. I’m not proud of that, but

I’ve managed to gain control of myself, find a measure of discipline.”

“While good Dr. Hartman has adopted a lifestyle that might make Lindsay Lohan

flinch. Weird role reversal, huh?”

A retort formed on Callan’s thin lips. “Uh, Agent, she’s starting,” Buzz announced,

and the physician turned abruptly from Mulder.

“Ms. Linscott,” Brenda’s voice crackled through the speakers. “You are aware that

your boyfriend was engaged in some rather…unorthodox religious practices?”

Silence filled the interview room.

“This is Hollywood, Deputy Chief,” her attorney chuckled. “Whether Dr. Hartman

read L. Ron Hubbard or practiced Kabbala would seem irrelevant to this case. I hope

you’re not planning to intrude into my client’s privacy rights.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, Counselor,” Brenda purred. “However — and this is

unfortunate — someone else already has committed a fairly grievance invasion of Dr.

Hartman’s and Ms. Linscott’s privacy.”

Brenda pushed a manila envelope across the table. Erin glanced at her attorney, and

he nodded warily. The actress emptied its contents — a series of photos printed from

Jay Pirelli’s SmartCard — onto the table. Even over the video monitor, Provenza

could make out the somber faces eerily illuminated in the glow of dozens of candles,

especially Erin Linscott’s normally perky countenance.

“OK,” Erin uttered finally, with a slight edge of defiance. “Like Ted said, this is

Hollywood. I’m sure some Southern Baptist police chief wouldn’t understand, but I’m

open to a wide variety of ideas and beliefs. Bob had gotten interested in Wicca, in

pagan beliefs, so I went along for kicks. Just kicks. I’d kind of appreciate it if we

could keep this out of the media — it might offend some of the Presbyterians in my

fan base — but there’s nothing illegal about exercising my religious freedoms.”

“Not a blessed thing,” Brenda assured her. “But this old Southern Baptist gal has a

feeling — call it a divination, if you’d like — that Dr. Hartman’s little old church

meetings might be connected to his murder.”

Mulder glanced at Callan, whose eyes were fixed on the monitor. “Beats the old

‘What’s your sign’ approach, huh? Don’t make disciples like they used to, do they?

He must have seemed like an ideal recruit at the time — weak, hedonistic, greedy.

You had to start fresh, and you were already aware of the logistical advantages of

the medical community for your ‘needs.’ I’m sure your new partner took to it,

especially after his practice — his medical practice — bloomed and he started scoring

with the ladies and the ponies.”

Callan turned with a disdainful expression. “You think I was involved in Bob’s childish


“I think you created a monster — literally. Your partner was a pawn, though I’m sure

once you convinced him of your abilities, he was more than willing to accept your

deal. He’d have even greater fame and fortune, and the looks Nature had cheated

him out of. And most people would jump at the chance for a fresh start, even if their

appetites and weaknesses.”

The doctor turned to Provenza, who was deep into a bag of microwave popcorn.

“This man’s clearly insane. Do you and your chief really want to be associated with


The lieutenant shrugged and chewed thoughtfully.

“This no sex thing,” Brenda continued. Four sets of male eyes returned to the screen.

“It’s not just some trendy Hollywood thing.”

“It’s not a trend — it’s a lifestyle,” Erin snapped. “But if you mean is some new thing,

then no. I’ve been acting since I was 10, and Mom and Dad didn’t want me to fuck

anything up by getting knocked up or an STD or something.”

“That was the key,” Mulder announced, causing a kernel to pop from between

Provenza’s fingers. “You’d decided to start fresh, too. You had a new life in Paradise

and a new outlet for your power. The folks at the L.A. Memorial Burn Ward call your

work with those kids nothing short of miraculous, and they’re right, aren’t they? You

learned to curb your appetite, even as you whetted your partner’s. He became

obsessed with the powers you’d helped him discover. That realtor who wound up

with a chestful of locusts? The kidneyless kid they found in a ditch? My guess is, they

were sacrificed to strengthen his power.”

“So,” Brenda drawled. “You’ll pardon me if this sounds a mite personal, but Ms.

Linscott, would you be happen to be a virgin?”

“Hey,” the attorney protested. But Erin merely grinned.

“Maybe the only one in L.A.,” the actress laughed.

“I was wondering why — and I hope you guys will pardon me — a party-hearty

pussyhound like your partner would hook up with a clean-living, straight-edge

celibate like Linscott,” Mulder said. “But I think she was exactly what he wanted,

what he needed. A true, dyed-in-the-wool virgin. It must’ve been like discovering a

unicorn in the wild. The teenager and the realtor were appetizers — your partner

figured if he could offer Erin up, he’d gain untold abilities.

“I don’t know how you found out what he had in mind for her, but it was the last

straw. A couple of freak deaths in California are filler on Headline News; the murder

of an up-and-coming actress is round-the-clock coverage on CNN and MSNBC. You

could’ve lost everything. Sooner or later, we’d make the link to Greenwood


“I think I’m done here,” Callan muttered, though his eyes remained fixed on Erin

Linscott’s image. “This is total gibberish.”

“I convinced Chief Johnson to authorize DNA tests on the victim.”

Callan snorted. “On Bob? I wouldn’t think identification would be a major problem.”

“I think you know what I was looking for, Doctor,” Mulder chided. “I had the lab pull

two samples. One from the victim’s cheek, which was confirmed as Robert Hartman’s


“What a surprise.”

“The other was taken from his bone marrow. I think you know what we found.”

Callan looked up, disdain – and anxiety – etched into his long, vaguely equine face.

He said nothing. Mulder smiled.

“So, did Dr. Callan ever participate in these little ceremonies?” Brenda inquired.

Erin paused. “A few times. He and Bob got into it more than once over it. It was like

with their practice – Callan wanted to be the big man, but he just didn’t have the

charisma, the clout.”

Callan straightened abruptly. “What? That bitch…”

“The trail might’ve ended with your partner if you hadn’t slipped at the hospital

yesterday,” the agent murmured. “You convinced Callan to switch faces – and places

– with you in exchanges for your power and protection. But when we showed up

unannounced to talk to you about the murder, Deputy Chief Johnson got down to

business before any of the rest of us were introduced. She’s a very assertive


Provenza chortled, nearly choking on a popcorn kernel.

“But you called me ‘Agent.’ For all you knew, I was one of the chief’s detectives. But

you must’ve been rattled to see me after all these years. Was that it, Dr. Franklyn?”

To Mulder’s surprise, “Callan” — AKA Hartman, AKA Franklyn – offered no outraged

denial. Whether or not he and Scully could sell the L.A. D.A. on Franklyn for

“Hartman”’s murder, the black magician had been unable to alter his own DNA, and

they’d link him to the Chicago killings.

“Doctor?” Mulder asked, concerned.

Franklyn/”Callan” had paled, and his face glistened with sweat as he stared at the

monitor. His jaw, encased in his partner’s former skin, twitched. For a second,

Mulder feared his ploy had induced a cardiac episode.

The doctor finally turned, eyes wide and haunted.

“I need to get out of here,” he rasped. “Please.”

Hollywood Marriott

5:34 p.m.

“You didn’t really think it was going to be that easy, did you?” Scully asked, rubbing

Mulder’s shoulder as she passed the bed. “At best, it was a long shot. At the least,

I’d say his reaction was confirmation of your theory. If we can get that warrant for

‘Callan’s DNA, we should have him.”

Mulder laughed sourly, laying back on the hotel mattress. “Given the judge’s reaction

to our request, I wouldn’t want to bet the farm on getting that warrant. Deputy Chief

Johnson didn’t exactly speak up in there.”

“Give her some credit, Mulder,” Scully protested, stepping out of her slacks. “She let

you carry out your bizarre little scheme.”

Johnson’s AV man, Buzz, proved a techno-whiz in incorporating the image a local

SFX specialist had crafted from the sketch based on Jay Pirelli’s description of the

face in Hartman/Callan’s scrying mirror into the interview room feed. Mulder had

picked what he’d felt was the right psychological moment to spring the demon’s

image on Franklyn. The result had been positive but somewhat short of totally


Staring at the hotel ceiling, Mulder barely felt the pressure on the mattress next to



The agent blinked, and became aware of the naked redhead straddling his hips.

“There’s one thing bothering me,” he muttered.

Scully rolled off with a sigh. “That’s at least one less than what’s bothering me.

Maybe Erin Linscott has the right idea with this celibacy thing. Thing of how much

more work I’d get done, how much more energy I’d have.”

Mulder reached for a breast. “Sorry, Scully. I was just remembering…”

“Mulder, what?” Scully turned his chin. “Oh, shit. Can I surmise that we’re not about

to partake in crazed expensed hotel sex?”

Her partner grabbed for his jacket on a nearby chair. “I gotta call Deputy Chief


Scully reached over the mattress’ edge, searching for her panties. “I surmise


Priority Homicide Squad

Los Angeles Police Department

Park Center, Los Angeles

8:04 p.m.

She found Mulder alternating between a trio of monitors. Buzz shrugged at the chief.

“Agent Mulder,” Brenda sighed in exasperation, “I thought you’d left for the day. You

putting together tomorrow’s séance?”

“I think I made a miscalculation, Chief,” the agent mumbled. “I want you to see


Brenda stood rooted in the Tech Room doorway for a moment, then waved Buzz

aside to lean in toward the monitors. She donned her horn-rimmed glasses.

“As you know, your interview tapes are time-stamped,” Mulder said. “The same’s

true for the webcam video of Dr. Frankl–, Dr. Callan’s reaction to Ms. Linscott’s

interview. We’ve paused both videos at the same point – right before you ask Ms.

Linscott about Dr. Callan’s involvement in Hartman’s coven. It struck me as strange

that a magician so adept would hang out with a bunch of Hollywood wannabes. Ah,

Chief, I need you to sit in this chair — the one Franklyn, er, Callan occupied this


Brenda pursed her lips, then sighed and sat.

“Buzz?” Mulder prompted. Buzz looked to Brenda, who nodded in resignation. The tech

punch dual play buttons: Erin Linscott related “Dr. Callan’s” involvement in “Dr.

Hartman’s” rituals and noted the surgeons’ ongoing feud.

“Keep your eyes on Linscott,” Mulder instructed.

“What?” Callan sputtered on the other monitor, straightening in his chair. “That bitch!”

Brenda gasped. “Freeze it, Buzz,” Mulder snapped.

“It has to be a coincidence,” the deputy chief breathed. “It has to be.”

“Run them both back to the beginning of Callan’s outburst. Yeah, there. Play them at


“Whaaaaatttt?” Callan shouted on Monitor 1. “Thaaaaatttt biiiiiitch!”

On Monitor 2, Erin Linscott’s head snapped up. Her eyes blazed into the interview

room camera, projecting fury at Brenda — at Callan. They lingered for a moment, then

returned to the chief.

“She knew Callan — Franklyn — was here, and what he’d said. He wasn’t frightened by

the subliminal demon image — Linscott scared him. This was a warning. To keep his

mouth shut.”

“That’s, that’s just impossible,” Brenda said coldly, standing, backing away from the

monitor bank.

“I was so intent on getting Franklyn that I ignored the obvious,” Mulder sighed. “After

seeing this, I went back to Jay Pirelli’s description of ‘Hartman’’s ceremony and the

photos he’d taken that night. I counted 13 separate individuals in the photos, including

‘Hartman’ and Linscott. That’s a traditional coven gathering — I don’t think they were

missing anyone. Certainly not ‘Callan.’ I think Linscott was lying, trying to divert

attention much like Franklyn did when he told us about the ‘magic’ the real Dr. Callan

performed with his patients.

“Then there was Pirelli’s account of the demon’s image in the mirror. He said it was

Linscott staring into the image. I don’t think she was merely observing it — I think she

summoned it. Like I said, I’d ignored a major clue to the true nature of this case.

Remember my showing you the symbol on the mirror — the full moon flanked by two

crescents? That’s the Lunar Triple Goddess symbol. It represents not only the waxing,

full, and waning phases of the moon, but also the three aspects of womanhood —

mother, maiden, and crone.”

“Maiden,” Brenda whispered.

“Or virgin,” Mulder clarified. “Buzz, bring up that video, please. I want you to see this,


She lowered herself slowly back into the viewing seat as Erin Linscott was replaced by

a younger, more flamboyant version of herself, strolling up a red carpet in a

microscopic red dress as crowds cheered around her.

“The 2003 Golden Globes,” Mulder explained. “Linscott took Best Supporting Actress

for her role as the daughter in Domestic Dispute.”

“Hated that show,” Buzz murmured.

“Amen,” the agent concurred. “There, Buzz. Great. Now zoom in just above the good

stuff. Yeah, yeah, there!”

Brenda adjusted her glasses and stared at Erin’s bare shoulder blades and sternum.

“The pendant,” Mulder urged. “Look at the design.”

Brenda peered, then stopped breathing.

“Breathe,” Mulder advised as she stared at the three lunar phases etched into the

platinum teardrop dangling from the actress’ neck. “Looks like Erin kept a few secrets

from the good witch doctor. Now, who do you think was using who?”

“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Brenda murmured, “but you think

Callan…Franklyn…oh, whoever — you think he knows all this?”

“I think he knows he’s been outclassed,” Mulder said, pushing his chair back. “And so

does she. Scully’s already on her way to Franklyn’s place.”

Brenda paused, eyeing first Mulder, then the would-be sorceress on the runway. Then

she unholstered her cell phone.

Residence of Dr. Darrell Callan

Palm Springs

11:58 p.m.

When they arrived at “Dr. Callan’s” Palm Springs mini estate, Mulder and Scully

spotted Erin Linscott’s signature black Testarossa in the dead center of Callan’s

elaborately paved drive. They parked in the street below; Brenda and Flynn pulled in

a half block down.

“She may look like Lindsay Lohan’s sober twin, but Linscott’s very dangerous,even

unarmed,” Mulder warned Flynn as he drew his sidearm.

“Shoulda brought my cross,” the lieutenant chuckled, slipping on a Kevlar vest and

handing another to Deputy Chief Johnson.

As Brenda and Mulder sprinted up the lawn beside the home’s steep driveway, Scully

and Flynn took the stone perimeter wall in a rear approach. Twenty feet from the

front veranda, Brenda touched Mulder’s arm and nodded toward the darkness

beyond the open front doors. They moved to either side, then slipped into the foyer

with a mutual signal.

The cop and the agent were halfway to the kitchen when they heard it – a low,

animal moan that nonetheless was all too human. A single shadow danced in the

flicker of candlelight. The moaning changed pitch, and Brenda momentarily hugged

the wall beside the arched doorway. She hefted her weapon with a deep breath, and

charged into the light with Mulder.

“Dear God,” Deputy Chief Johnson cried out, slumping against the brushed steel

refrigerator. Mulder’s hand twitched on his gun, his feet frozen to the terra cotta


The mass of exposed muscles, tendons, and bone seated at the kitchen table was,

unfortunately, human. Blood dripped slowly from the skinned man’s left foot, pooling

in a widening reservoir.

Brenda fumbled her cell phone from her slacks, fingers trembling uncontrollably as

she punched 9-1-1. Mulder inched toward the grisly apparition.

“Dr. Franklyn?” the agent whispered.

The lidless eyes moved for the first time, conveying nothing as they stared at

Mulder. Franklyn’s jaw twitched and opened. The agent leaned forward as the

magician’s blackened tongue slipped between his teeth. Then Mulder spotted the

opaque obsidian eyes, and fell onto his ass as the eel slid onto the tile between his

legs, slapping the bloody tiles.

Franklyn was gone before the EMTs arrived. An unfortunate crime scene technician

found the rest of the late doctor hanging neatly in his bedroom closet.

Vino: A Restaurant


7:25 p.m.

“In ancient Greek culture, virginity denoted strength and independence,” Mulder

explained as he prodded his duck confit. “Artemis, the Greek virgin goddess of the

moon and the hunt, protected women in labor, small children, and wild animals.

Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, never took part in the struggles of men and gods.

Virgin goddesses were immune to the temptations of Dionysus, the Greek god of

seduction and wine.”

“That’s so fascinating,” Brenda murmured cheerfully, eyes darting about the now-

hushed tables around them. Fritz had focused on his steak, and his sawing

intensified. Scully reached for Mojito No. 3.

Erin Linscott had seemingly dropped from the face of the Earth, and with the FBI and

Homeland Security blanketing every conceivable escape route, Mulder and Scully

booked a new flight east. The farewell dinner had been Mulder’s idea; Brenda could

find no plausible escape route.

By the time the entrees had arrived, Mulder already had shared insights on Wiccan

and Druidic rituals, an amusing anecdote about a Tibetan shaman, and his thoughts

on the latest Chris Tucker flick. He made no mention of the horror he and the deputy

chief had shared the previous night.

Brenda nearly swooned with relief as their waiter, yet another tragically flawless

young actor, materialized at Scully’s shoulder. The agent jumped, hiccupping twice.

“We have a delightful selection of desserts this evening,” the waiter purred,

brandishing a silver tray. “In addition to our famous black forest torte, the chef has

prepared a Mexican chocolate soufflé, an apple and goat cheese turnover laced with

Calvados, and a white chocolate and raspberry trifle. May I tempt you?”

Brenda’s eyes devoured the trayful of confections, then locked on Fritz’s stern

expression. Her eyes implored him; he shook his head once.

“I can’t,” Brenda whimpered, evoking Tennessee Williams.

“Two of those,” Mulder ordered, pointing to the renowned black forest torte. He

scooted back. “Gotta find the little fed’s room,” he informed his hosts. “Don’t let

Scully on top of the table.”

“Well, this was just a…a wonderful idea,” Brenda sang as Mulder disappeared into an

alcove. “Your partner is just so full of interesting information.”

Scully toasted with her mojito. “Yeah, he’s full of something, all right. Look, I know

he must seem kind of, well, flaky to you–”

Fritz snorted, then flinched under Brenda’s icy stare.

“Just for that,” the deputy chief informed her fiance with offended dignity as she

canvassed the room, “I am having what he’s having.”



File X

File X

By Elf X

CATEGORY: Office/X-Files crossover

SUMMARY: Dwight Shrute encounters the unknown, and reacts accordingly.


DISCLAIMER: The management and employees of Dunder Mifflin are the

corporate property of NBC. Chris Carter is the head honcho of the X-Files.

8:45 a.m.






























JIM: Morning, Dwight. What’s up?

DWIGHT (TERSELY): Move on, Halpert.


STOPS) Hey, Dwight, where did you put the Saferight Insurance orders?

DWIGHT: They’re on Michael’s desk. There was a last-minute change. Goldenrod

instead of salmon.

JIM: Way I’d go. Say, you want a little help there?


your monkey-pawed assistance is the day I contact my dojo master and instruct him

to humanely euthanize me. He’d do it in a second, but you wouldn’t understand that.

JIM: Sure I would. I’ll be around, though, OK? By the way, they’re beauties, Dwight.

What did you use? Cheese bait?


bait for walleye. You’re such a woman.



WALLEYE TUCKED UNDER HIS ARM): We talked about this, Dwight. No dead animals

in the office.


DIGNITY): We agreed no mammals. And that was for lunch. This is evidence.


DWIGHT: Of an apparent natural anomaly. Maybe a paranormal occurrence. It’s not

my field of specialty.



CREED: This belong to anybody?





STANLEY (RISING): That’s a smoke break.




MICHAEL: Sweet fancy Moses! (EXPLETIVE DELETED) What in the wide world of


PAM: I think Dwight had an accident..

MICHAEL: I think the entire East Coast chapter of NOW had an accident. Whew!


MICHAEL: Apparently, last week’s Office Hygiene Awareness Day had absolutely no

impact on anyone here.

TOBY (TO CAMERA): You take one personal day…

MICHAEL: OK, then. I’d like to see the senoritas in the conference room, pronto.

JIM: Gee, Michael, I kinda think that’s illegal. As was last week’s Office Hygiene

Awareness Day.


thought I’d see the day when women’s health issues would be verboten. What a blow

to the sisterhood, am I right, my home girls?






MEREDITH: Hey! I’m not peeing in that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cup again!

9 a.m. two days later





MULDER: Special Agent Fox Mulder, FBI. This is my partner. We’re here to

investigate an anonymous report that originated from this office.

PAM (STANDS): Dwight? FBI.



PHONE): Agent Fox Mulder? Dwight Shrute. You must’ve gotten my message.

MULDER (SHAKING DWIGHT’S HAND): Your anonymous message? That mentioned

you by name and included your work number?

DWIGHT: I didn’t know who might be listening. It said on the Internet you

investigate supernatural and paranormal phenomena,




DWIGHT: This is her, right?



MICHAEL: Michael Scott, regional manager and government liaison. What can I do

you for?

MULDER (FLASHING ID): Special Agent Fox Mulder. This is…

MICHAEL: I knew this day was coming. Look, I can personally vouch for everybody

here, unless they’re lying, of course. Oscar? Show them your green card.

OSCAR: Jesus, Michael, you know I was born here. I’m a citizen. For crying out loud,

you met my folks, Michael.

MICHAEL (TO CAMERA): I remember now. Lovely, lovely, gracious woman, Oscar’s

mamacita. A real MILF, I believe the expression is.

OSCAR (TO CAMERA): Michael thought she was with the cleaning crew. She was

wearing a Dona Karin dress. She’s still trying to talk me into going into interpretive


MICHAEL (SEARCHES OUT KELLY KAPOOR): Ah, I see. A moment, please. Hey,

there, Kelly. What are you still doing here?


What? Where am I supposed to be?

MICHAEL: Well, Corporate, silly. C’mon, daylight’s burning, giddyup.

KELLY: Why am I supposed to be at Corporate. (EYES WIDEN WITH EXCITEMENT)

Oh, my God, did Ryan call?

MICHAEL: That’s right, Kelly. Ryan said he wanted his little Now, run along to New

York while I talk to these two federal agents. Homeland Security, right?

MULDER: Mr. Scott, I don’t know what impression you’re under, but Special Agent

Scully and I are investigating Mr. Shrute’s claim of a paranormal occurrence in your

parking lot. We’d like to debrief Mr. Shrute.




MULDER: Ah, we’d just like to determine if the incident that occurred the other day

was an intentional act, the result of some meteorological or physical fluke, or an

actual paranormal event. I’ve read numerous case studies of “falls,” sometimes

explained through natural circumstances, sometimes linked with sightings of strange

lights in the sky.

MICHAEL (TO CAMERA): UFOs? Yes, I believe in UFOs, if by UFO you mean a UNITED

corporate team FAITHFUL to the OBJECTIVES of personal integrity and solid

stationery sales principles. Yes, I believe in visitations — regularly scheduled, mano-

a-mano client visitations. Aliens? Well, I think an alien is just a friend we haven’t

made yet, unless it’s the lizardy kind with three or four rows of teeth, like in Alien or

Predator or Alien II. Or Alien Vs. Predator. And of course, we all know those don’t

exist, like Bigfoot or unicorns or the duckbilled platypus or other mythecological

creatures. So, bottom line, I’d have to say, no, I don’t believe in UFOs. I mean, get


DWIGHT (TO CAMERA): UFOs? No-brainer – they’re an elaborate hoax staged by the

satellite TV consortium to convince an unsuspecting consumer public poor video

reception is the result of otherwordly intervention. And, of course, the FCC’s in on it.

(PAUSES, LOWERS VOICE) But if there were extraterrestrials, I am proficient in

several martial arts disciplines. Any aliens as ill-advised as to invade Scranton would

sincerely regret ever meeting Dwight Shrute. Just ask anyone in this office.


MULDER: We’ll want to use your conference room to interview everyone in the office.

MICHAEL: Yesshir, Officer.

TOBY: Michael, we probably should wait until the corporate legal guy gets here.

MICHAEL (TURNS IRRITABLY): Go, scram, find a small animal to torture.

MULDER: We can wait, if you’d prefer.

MICHAEL (SMILES INTO CAMERA): We here at Dunder Mifflin have nothing to hide

from Father Sam. Don’t worry about him – he’s what we call a person of no interest,

OK? What are you doing here, anyway?

TOBY: Dwight could have been injured. I have to file a human resources report…

MICHAEL: Blah blah blah…

TOBY (SIGHS): Corporate wants me to be here.

MICHAEL: Well, I am here as Corporate’s official representative, so you can go check

for unauthorized fondling in the break room.

TOBY: They said not to, uh, not to leave you alone with them.

TOBY (TO CAMERA): Last spring, Michael invited the IRS auditor to a “three-

margarita business confab.” When that temp filed the harassment complaint last

month, he took the EEOC caseworker to Hooter’s. I’m sorry, legal says I can’t

discuss ongoing litigation.

MULDER: So. Mr. Scott, do you remember anything else unusual the morning of Mr.


MICHAEL: Well, I know Meredith had a really bad haddock…

SCULLY: Excuse me?

MICHAEL (SMIRKS AT CAMERA): Yeah. A bad haddock. She was feeling really eel.

MULDER: I don’t understand. You think her illness had something to do with—

MICHAEL: Sorry, sorry. Guess I was just floundering. (CRACKS UP)

TOBY: Michael…

SCULLY: Ah, flounder, haddock. That’s very good.

MICHAEL: I mean, I’m sure I could lay my hands on her attendance records. Shoot, I

think they’re at Corporate. I could get them to send them over C.O.D. C.O.D.?



SCULLY: That’s…enough.







DWIGHT: I’m a former deputy. I always keep a supply in my desk. For just this kind

of situation.

MULDER: Fish falling from the sky.


DWIGHT (TO CAMERA): When I resigned my badge, I was allowed to keep several

items as mementoes. Evidence bags, a police scanner, swabs. I offered to stop by

the station to drop them off, but my brother officers told me I didn’t need bother.

They were quite insistent. Semper fi.

DWIGHT: There should be enough for a DNA sample.

MULDER: DNA? Fish DNA? Why–?

SCULLY (BENDING OVER DECEASED, BAGGED FISH): Mulder, what’s this powdery

substance all over the, ah, corpse?



MULDER: Did you actually fingerprint this fish?


Or she…


JIM: Hey, no way. I had absolutely nothing to do with Dwight’s, uh, (GRINS DESPITE

HIMSELF) fish storm.

SCULLY: The reason we ask is, your coworkers have detailed a number of, well,

pranks you’ve reportedly perpetrated over the last few years. Most targeting Mr.


MULDER (SMILING SLIGHTLY): You made him believe the CIA was sending him on a

secret mission?

JIM (GRIMACES AT CAMERA CREW): It was a slow day…

SCULLY: On another occasion, you rigged his car alarm to go off whenever he went

to the men’s room?

JIM (TO CAMERA): It’s easier than you think, if you know anything about magnets

and radio frequencies. It took three days, though, and I had to get Dwight to leave

his keys on his desk while Pam distracted… (PAUSES, LAUGHES NERVOUSLY) What?

No, what?

MULDER: You have a particular bone to pick with Mr. Shrute? ‘Cause, I mean, I

appreciate a good practical joke as much as the next guy.

SCULLY: Although this particular “practical” joke could have resulted in property

damage or personal injury.



JIM: Besides, I wasn’t anywhere near here when it happened. I was late to work.

SCULLY: Can anyone back you up on that?




PAM (TO CAMERA, SMILING RADIANTLY): Wow. I can’t believe he actually lied to a

federal law enforcement agency. For me. That is soooo sweet.



FROM THE PAPER TOWEL ON HIS BLOTTER): I see from your personnel record you

were once an ordained priest.

CREED (SHRUGS): I worked with youth for a while. And I was an ordained high



CREED (SHRUGS): I earned the title. Took a lot of sacrifices. (MULDER’S EYES

WIDEN). I mean, a lot of sacrifice.

CREED (TO CAMERA): I told them none of the neighborhood cats. I was very

adamant about it. (SHAKES HEAD FONDLY) Parishioners can be difficult.

CREED: Hey, you know an Agent Reyes?

MULDER: Monica Reyes? New Orleans field office, Ritual Crime Unit?

CREED: That’s her. If you ever run into her, tell her I said hi. (PAUSES) Except tell

her Malachi. (POPS A HANDFUL OF BEANS INTO HIS MOUTH) She’ll know who you





MULDER: Jesus, guys, you know the meaning of a little personal space? This is a

federal investigation, you know. Well, OK, maybe not an investigation. But Scully

seemed OK with it – not that I have to ask her permission or anything. I mean, she

is my partner. Professionally speaking. (STANDS ABRUPTLY) This kind of fish fall isn’t

exactly unprecedented. In 1947, thousands of fish bombarded a strip 75 feet wide

and 1,000 feet long in Marksville, Louisiana. What was weird about that one was

conditions were pretty calm – most organic falls occur during storms. The 1830 fall

at Nokulhatty Factory, India, occurred during a drizzle, rather than a real storm, but

the principle’s the same. (STEPS TOWARD THE CAMERA) One of the more unusual

phenomena is the Lluvia de Peces, or “Rain of Fish,”which occurs between May and

July each year in Honduras. Although it’s always preceded by dark clouds and

accompanied by at least two hours of rain, thunder, and high winds, the fish that fall

are freshwater species, rather than the marine species you might expect if there

were a meteorological cause. In fact, some believe the Rain of Fish originated in the

1850s after a Catholic missionary, Father Jose Manuel Subirana, prayed to God to

help the poor of the region…


MULDER (OFF-CAMERA): Hey! I haven’t even told you about the 1996 toad fall in

Llanddewi Brefi…!


KEVIN: I had a cousin one time who said he saw weird lights in the sky. Of course,

he lives by the airport.


KEVIN: Oh, and one time in the breakroom, I found a pork rind that looked like

Gerald Ford. Which is kind of unusual, because most snack foods that look like

presidents usually look like Nixon…

SCULLY: That’s very interesting. Look, has Mr. Shrute had any run-ins with his

associates or clients lately?

KEVIN: Or is it potatoes? That look like Nixon, I mean.


KEVIN (TO CAMERA): The supernatural is kind of like a hobby of mine. Next to the

band, of course. I get really worked up sometimes. (GRINS SHYLY) Plus, Agent

Scully’s kinda awesome, you know? (LEANS IN) I think she might have been flirting

a little. She kept arching her eyebrow at me.


ANGELA: If you want my opinion – and you probably don’t – I think it may be a sign.


ANGELA (SIGHS): A portent, an omen. You know what I mean. (NODS AT CROSS


SCULLY: A religious portent. Ms. Martin…

ANGELA: Miss. I’m not one of those feminist types.

SCULLY: Miss Martin, why would this alleged religious manifestation occur here at

Dunder Mifflin?

ANGELA: Just look around. Promiscuity (PAN TO KELLY, WHO HAS MULDER




company – it’s the Scranton, Pennsylvania, branch of Sodom and Gomorrah. I mean,

two of my coworkers are actually having an offsite relationship of, you know, the








ANGELA (SWEETLY): Oh, nothing.

SCULLY (TO CAMERA): I usually don’t mind indulging Mulder in these little fishing

expeditions — no pun intended – although I’m usually the one who has to file the

expense reports, justify the travel vouchers, cover for him with Skinner. God knows I

don’t know how I’m going to explain why the FBI is investigating falling walleye. It’s

like this all the time. I mean, do other people’s boyfriends act like this? (STOPS

DEAD) Partners, other people’s partners, other agent’s partners. I need that tape.

No, really. I’m serious.



mystery solved!




MULDER: You got something, Mr. Scott?

MICHAEL (CHECKING FOR CAMERA CREW): Only the answer to our little conun-,



MICHAEL (SMILES): No, Stanley, I don’t think that’s right.

MULDER: What’s your theory, Mr. Scott?



MICHAEL (TO CAMERA): Google. It’s like the compendrium of mankind’s assimilated

knowledge. For instance, these shoes. (PAN TO OVERLY SHINY BLACK LOAFERS)

Where else would you find a pair of high-quality Bhutanese footwear – 100 percent

animal-friendly nylon – for a mere $17? Not to mention some of the world’s finest

nude art photography.

MICHAEL: The fish in question disappear into the Super Sargasso Sea, travel through

some kind of cosmic wormhole, and pop out over the Scranton Office Park. E

pluribus unum — elementary.

MULDER: Well, that’s an interesting theory, Mr. Scott. Except the Super Sargasso

Sea is purported to be an oceanic phenomenon, and the walleye is a freshwater


MICHAEL (LOOKS ANXIOUSLY AT THE CAMERA): Welllll, then, it must be the Lake


JIM: Um, Michael, isn’t the lake effect when cold air comes off a large body of water


MICHAEL (NODS BRISKLY): Well, I guess I’m not needed here. We have a whole

room full of physiologists.

TOBY: I think you mean physicists, Michael.




KELLY (IN BREAK ROOM DOORWAY): Well, hey, Agent Mulder.


MULDER: Hey. Uh, Ms. Kapoor, you seen Agent Scully?

KELLY: She’s still doing gross stuff with that fish. STEPS FORWARD; MULDER BACKS

INTO THE VENDING MACHINE. So, I was wondering what I’d have to do.


KELLY: To be an FBI agent like you guys. I mean, obviously, there’s no height

requirement, right? See, ever since Ryan left me to go to Corporate, I kinda feel like

my life lacks direction, you know? Then I saw Miss Congeniality last night. And then

you guys came in today, and it was like, oh, you know…

MULDER: Karma?

KELLY: What’s that?

KELLY (TO CAMERA): Actually, I just kind of figure the FBI’s gotta be like a real guy

mall, you know? I mean, Fox is kinda geeky, but like they say, smart is sexy, if the

guy’s kinda hot already…

KELLY (DELIBERATING OVER BEVERAGES): I mean, like, I know a billion long-

distance relationships that work. One of the girls in my yoga class has been dating a

guy for half of his sentence, and they haven’t even done it yet. Well, unless you

count conjugal, and I wouldn’t think you could focus enough to really get into it.





SCULLY: Hey, yourself. I’m going to have to bathe in RealLemon for the next three

months to get rid of this smell.

MULDER: Can I bring the garlic butter?


there already would like to take me to Red Lobster.

MULDER: Long as you don’t get crabs. (MUMBLES) That’s what she said.



SCULLY: Did you hear yourself just now?


SCULLY: Yeah. And on top of that, your fish have gone AWOL.


SCULLY: The bag you left in the break room fridge is gone. Your evidence has swum


MULDER (DISTRACTED): That’s an avian behavior. Shit. But you did finish your…?

SCULLY: Walleye workup? Yup — I plan to write it up for the International Journal of

Pathology. There was distinct cellular damage I’d normally associate with freezing.

Rapid freezing. Flash freezing. Which would corroborate my theory that this fish fall

was a fish stunt, by one of Shrute’s coworkers.

MULDER: It might also be explained by these fish being abruptly collected and

transported through the higher stratosphere or maybe even a dimensional rift.

SCULLY (TO CAMERA): Oh, yeah, that makes much more sense. Fine, whatever.

MICHAEL: People!


Lord, what now?

MICHAEL: It has become obvious with this latest “occurrence” — what I call the

miracle of the fishes (ANGELA GASPS) — that something here stinks like a day-old

walleye. I think it’s the stench of supernaturality, and it calls for supernaturalized

measures. Jim? Where are you going?


o’clock call at the high school, Michael.

MICHAEL: Oh, OK. So who knows anything about exorcisms?


MICHAEL: I called St. Ignatius, but Father Whatever — something Irish or Italian —

wouldn’t come over. Apparently, workplace exorcism is too commercial or secular or

something. So we’re going to have to improvise a little.

ANGELA: Absolutely not!!

TOBY: Michael, no religious ceremonies or rites in the office. Jan warned you after

that Native American manhood thing…

MICHAEL (SIGHS): Don’t worry, Toby — there will be no wooden stakes or garlic

involved. Begone, Evil Workplace Spirit, begone!! (GRINS AT CAMERA AS TOBY

SHUFFLES OFF TO HIS CUBICLE) There — this house is cleeeeaaan!

JIM: That’s from Poltergeist, not The Exorcist.


Holy water!

ANGELA (EVEN PALER): Our father, who art in heaven…

PAM: Michael, I think you actually have to have water blessed to make it holy.

MICHAEL: Good point, Mother Teresa. Anybody have a Bible handy?

CREED: Christian?



JIM (SQUINTING): “Gideon — Property of Scranton Best Western.”


MULDER (WHISPERS): Flash frozen, huh?

SCULLY: Merely a theory.

MULDER: Works for me. What say we make like a walleye?

MULDER (BY REST STOP SIGN, TO CAMERA): There’s a phenomenon called Sick

Building Syndrome. Modern, sealed office buildings accumulate free-floating bacteria

and low-grade viruses, fumes from paint and carpet polymers, and stale, often

overcirculated air. As a result, workers suffer a greater frequency of chronic colds,

allergies, headaches, and other symptoms that can manifest in depression, apathy,

and, in some cases, undue stress and tension. I don’t think that’s the case here. I

can’t offer any other explanation, but maybe, sometimes, there are things we just

aren’t meant to understand. Right?

MICHAEL (TO CAMERA): Obviously, we were dabbling in forces too cosmic for Agent

Mulder’s bureaucratic mind to wrap its brain around.

5:15 P.M.







MICHAEL (VOICEOVER): There is so much we don’t know about this crazy universe

of ours. What makes the planets revolve around the Earth? (DISPLAYS A SHARPIE)

How many angels can dance on the tip of a pen? What is the sound of one hand

clapping? Geez, that doesn’t make any sense. The sound of two hands clapping,

yeah. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s there, how do we know it really fell,

unless you sent somebody in to check? And then the whole thing gets screwed up.

Heavy, heavy mojo.

KEVIN (TO CAMERA): It’s been sticking in my craw ever since Dwight said the band

sucked at Phyllis’ wedding. I eat at the Red Lobster a lot, and we played the

assistant manager’s kid’s bar mitzvah one time. And the news chopper guy at

Channel 5 kinda owes me for fixing him up with my cousin. I had no idea they’d call

in the FBI and try to do an exorcism and all that stuff. (SMILES CONSPIRATORALLY)

It was sooo sweet.





MICHAEL (VOICEOVER): These are the questions Man – and Women, of course –

have been asking for decades. You could take the world’s smartest guy — Alex

Trebek — clone him into a hundred Alex Trebeks, and he – them, they – still wouldn’t

figure out the secrets of the universe. That’s why they call it The Unknown, or as Mr.

Rod Serling used to call it, the Twilight Zone. Because we don’t know what’s in there,

in that zone of perpetual twilight.





MICHAEL (TO CAMERA): What we don’t know, well, it could fill a thimble. (RETHINKS

LAST STATEMENT) A thimble the size of the Grand Canyon.