|Futures Past 03:
My Funny Valentine
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RATING - PG, nothing too graphic, nothing you wouldn't see in HL, XF or FK
CATEGORY - C(rossover), R(omance)
SPOILERS - Bad Blood(XF), Indiscretions(HL)
KEYWORDS - X-files/Highlander/Forever Knight crossover, Mulder/Scully Romance
It's Mulder's turn now. An unofficial X-file brings the agents to Seattle where they look into a strange series of murders while trying to figure out where they stand with each other.
Okay, all together now. "Good morning, Mr. C..." Whoops, wrong line. Sorry. Anyway here goes. I hereby disclaim everything and everybody appearing in this story. No one belongs to me, and I'm only borrowing them for a while to see what mischief I can get them into. The X-files belong to CC or 1013 or Fox, Highlander to Rysher, and FK to Tristar, I think. Generally speaking, they belong to whoever owns them, not to me, got that?
Hello and thanks to all of you who have stuck through the entire series up to this point. We finally descend into the depths of romance (UST->RST), so any noromos should have already bailed. If not you would be advised to do so effective immediately. Or... you can grit your teeth, read on, and discover what you've been missing all this time ;)
Plotwise this thing can stand on its own. But as for some of the background on the agents, this fourth in the series is not, repeat, not stand-alone. You have to have read the previous two (FP2: The Light of Day and FP3: My Funny Valentine) cause stuff from that gets referred to in here. If this is the first in the series you're reading (GASP!), don't worry, stay calm, switch to netscape, lynx, ie, what have you, browse immediately to your nearest Gossamer mirror and look up the others under my name (Arvy). If you can't find 'em there, email me at email@example.com and I'll be happy to forward you a copy. Also, all my other stories, missing parts, etc. can be found on my website at http://unmai.cjb.net/arvy.
A note about the timeline. This story falls right after Bad Blood in the X-files, sometime after Armageddon on Highlander, and long after Last Knight (which never happened in my universe) on Forever Knight. Also, many of the earlier events actually are concurrent with the events in FP3. A word of warning though; all characters other than M&S are secondary. I do go into a little bit of depth about them, and I've tried to explain about immortality and the HL/FK characters within the story itself, but don't expect the story to revolve around them. They are what you might call the supporting cast.
Thanks again go to my sister, who actually did come up with a couple of ideas to push my creative vehicle over some annoying writer's blocks. And as always, feedback will be appreciated, read, and lovingly acknowledged. Meaning, send 'em on. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
And so the story goes...
Abandoned warehouse, Pier 17, Seattle, WA
Thursday, February 12, 1998
The building was dark, this time of day. On one of the upper floors, in what looked like a hastily put together bedroom, a pair of eyes opened, flashing like twin suns in the faint light. She awoke, feeling hungry, as usual. She roused herself from the bed and headed to the makeshift bathroom next door. Before she prepared to wash up, she glanced at herself in the mirror. The woman who stared back at her looked to be in her late twenties. She seemed to exude an ethereal beauty, her lustrous dark hair cascading around her shoulders as she shook herself awake. She gave herself a small smile as she turned away.
Finishing up, she headed out of the room. As she passed the adjoining rooms, she spared a loving glance into each one. Good, she thought, the children are still sleeping. Time to get something to eat. With that thought, she glided down the stairs and headed out into the encroaching night.
Alleyway next to Joe's bar
Kevin Matthews and Sydney Brown headed out of the bar, hand in hand. They had just met a little over an hour ago, and had hit it off immediately. Neither of them could remember a night when they'd left a bar so early, but tonight, it was all they could do to keep from pouncing on each other. They'd had to get out of there to someplace more private.
They walked down the alley to Kevin's car, eyes lost in each others', both oblivious to the world around them. Neither of them heard the slight thud behind them, or the soft sounds of approaching footsteps, although they would have been hard pressed to do so even had they been paying attention. The first sign of trouble came when Kevin saw Sydney suddenly pulled away from him. He saw her body fly towards the side wall where it landed with a sickening crack, then slowly slid down to the ground. A soft moan escaped her lips... she was still alive, but just barely.
He looked back at the figure standing next to him, a look of fear in his eyes. His eyes fell upon a sight that took his breath away... it had to be a vision he beheld. He stared at the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen in his life. He was entranced by the golden glow of her eyes, almost hidden behind raven black hair, and her surreal beauty as she advanced towards him. All thought of Sydney, lying helplessly a few feet away, fled his mind as he heard her seductive voice. She came closer, closer... so close... He stumbled back, tripped, and fell. He saw her bending over him. His last conscious thought as he stared at the sudden gleam of pointed white that appeared between her lips was a frantic prayer, Oh, god! don't let me die. He felt a sharp pain in his neck, then fell into a delirium of ecstasy before the world closed up around him.
Two figures left the bar and headed down the alley towards their car.
"It's good to be back in the US. I've missed it this past year and a half," said the taller man.
"Oh, I don't know, Duncan," replied the shorter figure. "I was just starting to get used to Paris, you know, the wine, the women... the stale cheese, the rock hard bread..."
"Be serious, Methos. I know this isn't your neck of the woods, but this is where I have some of my more pleasant memories."
"And some of your more unpleasant ones as well, don't forget." He paused when he saw his friend tense up. Following his gaze towards the body lying a few yards away, he broke into a run towards it.
They kneeled down next to it as Duncan reached for the girl's wrist. He saw Methos turn the girl's face towards him, but as he searched for a pulse, he knew it was already too late. He looked at his friend, and catching his eye, silently shook his head. "You'd better call the police..." He frowned when he didn't receive an answer. "Methos!"
The sudden shout seemed to bring him out of his reverie. Methos nodded as he stood up and headed back towards the bar to make the call.
Wonder what's wrong with him. You'd think he'd never seen a dead body before, Duncan thought as he reached up to examine the girl's neck. He gasped at the two small puncture wounds on the side of her throat. Great! That's just great! That's all I need now. The horsemen, demons, and now vampires. He sighed as he stood back up to wait for his friend to return.
Duncan, Methos and Joe Dawson stood in the alley as they watched the body being lifted onto the stretcher. A figure emerged from behind the ambulance, her face hidden in the glare of the strobing lights. She walked up to the body and pulled down the sheet covering it.
As she leaned down, her face came into view. "Anne," breathed Duncan as he started towards her.
"Duncan?" Dr. Anne Lindsey looked up from her cursory examination, a smile on her face as she recognized him. "I didn't know you were back in Seattle."
"Hello Anne. I just got back a couple of days ago. How are you?" he asked, pleased to see her.
"I'm fine." She paused, frowning. "What are you doing here? This is a crime scene, you know."
"I was about to ask you the same question. We, my friend and I," he said, pointing to Methos, "found the body."
"Oh," she nodded. "Well, I decided not to work full time in the ER, what with Mary and all. I'm just doing some research now, helping the police with their investigation." She looked back down at the body, turning the head to get a closer look at the neck area. She nodded, apparently finding what she was looking for. She pulled back the cover and gestured to the EMTs to take charge of the body.
"Uh-huh. You haven't heard... oh, of course not, you just got back," she said as the stretcher was wheeled into the ambulance. "This is the tenth body in half as many weeks. All the same MO. Trauma, massive loss of blood, not to mention those strange puncture marks on the throat. Hard to imagine that much blood loss from those tiny wounds, though."
"You gave up the ER for this?" Duncan asked incredulously. They turned to watch the ambulance pull away.
"Well, most of my cases aren't so grisly. Like I said, I mainly do research... bloodwork, analysis, that sort of thing... strictly 9 to 5 stuff. Tonight, I just happened to be in the area and I saw the ambulance."
By now, the alley had become quiet again. No one could have guessed at the gruesome scene that had occurred less than an hour ago except for the police tape fencing off a part of the alley, and the dark stain on the ground a few yards away.
Anne turned as Duncan's friends walked over. "Hello Joe," she said, recognizing the older man immediately.
"Anne," he nodded in acknowledgement.
She turned to the younger looking man next to him. "Hi, I'm Dr. Anne Lindsey," she introduced herself, holding out her hand.
"Adam Pierson. Sorry to have to meet under such circumstances." He took her hand in his. "Maybe I can buy you dinner?"
Anne turned to Duncan with a smile. "Is he always this forward?" Turning back to Methos, she answered, "That's sweet, but I'm afraid I'll have to take a raincheck. I need to talk to some people about this." Her voice dropped, "Frankly, we, I mean, the police, are getting nowhere with this case. Not only are bodies with similar symptoms piling up, but people are disappearing as well. And many of these murder-missing person incidents seem to be occurring in pairs."
"Funny you should mention that," Joe interrupted her. "I saw the girl they just took away leaving the bar with a young man. I think he said his name was Kevin something or the other."
"I'll be sure to mention that in my report. Thanks, Joe. But, ten to one, we won't be able to find him anywhere. Well," she sighed, "I guess I'll see you guys around. I'm beat, and I still have a couple of phone calls to make." She yawned as she turned away, heading down the alley.
"Goodnight, Anne." Duncan waved after her. Turning back to his friends, he added, "I think I'm going to turn in as well. It's been a long day. Bye, guys."
It was only after they heard Duncan's car starting up did Methos realize something. "What the hell! He was my ride." He groaned, turning to Joe. "I can't believe this."
Joe smiled and shook his head. "C'mon back to the bar. You can call a cab from there."
Duncan MacLeod sighed as he glanced at the clock. He considered the night's events and began to wish he'd stayed in Paris just a little while longer. Not one to put off the inevitable, however, he walked over to the phone and dialed a number he hadn't used in a long time.
He waited as the phone rang. When it was picked up, he heard a voice on the other end.
"Could I speak with Detective Nick Knight, please?"
Copper Creek Apartments
Adam Pierson, known only to a handful of people as Methos, a 5000 year old immortal, glanced at the clock before he placed a call to one of those people.
When he heard the phone being picked up, he said, "Hello Lucien. We have a problem..."
Dr. Anne Lindsey's residence
She had finally gotten Mary to go back to sleep after she'd woken from a nightmare and started crying inconsolably. She moved down the hallway to the study and sat down to look at the files lying on the table in front of her. She thought about what she was about to do. What she had told Duncan had been true enough... the police were getting nowhere as far as solving this case was concerned. But they had yet to break down and ask for expert help from federal resources. She, on the other hand, was trying to approach the case from a medical standpoint, instead of a criminal perspective. And she knew that this was something way over their heads. The latest victim just confirmed her decision. She wanted to talk to experts in this field, but needed to keep it discreet. So she'd decided to turn to a couple of old friends for help. She had studied forensic medicine in college before opting for general practice, and she knew just the people to call. She sighed, smiling as she recalled pleasant memories of her days in school. She looked down at the two names and phone numbers she'd jotted down on the notepad. She hadn't talked to them in quite some time. Perhaps it was time to touch base with her old friends after all.
Nicholas Knight's residence, Toronto, Canada
Friday, February 13, 1998
The quiet Friday afternoon was rudely interrupted by the sudden clash of metal upon metal, as it had been every few seconds for the past half hour. Luckily, the loft was in a secluded part of the city, and the only creatures disturbed by the incessant noise were the birds that had decided to roost atop the loft. Even had some curious passerby stopped after hearing the noise, he wouldn't have been able to see much... the windows of the loft were closed and tightly shuttered, proof against even the narrowest beam of sunlight.
Inside the building, two lone figures danced in the dim light of the incandescent lamps. Their movements were slow and deliberate... yet the swords they held seemed to move faster than the eye could follow. The blades descended towards each other until they met in a crescendo of sound, the opponents apparently an even match. All of a sudden, the match ended as one of the figures lost their sword, the blade of the other coming within inches of their neck.
As one, both pulled back and saluted before dropping into the couches on the side of the room. The woman reached over and grabbed a towel and a water bottle lying on a nearby table, wiping off her sweat as she took a long swig of water. "What the hell..." she gasped between gulps, "... was that last move?" She brushed aside her long brown hair to glance over at her sparring partner, and scowled. He'd barely broken a sweat.
He smiled. "Oh, just something I picked up in late 14th century Britain. You know, you're still a little weak on that follow through there, Nat. You need to swing harder if you want to break through your opponent's defense."
"I'll work on it." She took another swig before turning back to look at him. "Are you sure you didn't cheat on that last part? I could have sworn I saw your hand blur there for a second."
The object of her annoyed glare put a hand over his heart, affecting a wounded expression that silently said, "Moi?" When she continued glaring, he relented, "Ok, maybe just a little bit. You're getting better everyday, Nat, and much as I hate to admit it, I think I'm getting a little rusty after a few centuries of abstaining from swordplay." He sighed, "This is definitely not one of those things like riding a bike. Without practice, you do forget."
Nat leaned back, a Cheshire cat grin on her face as she muttered, "I knew it!"
"What was that?"
"Oh, nothing!" She quickly tried to change the subject, "So what's the big news you couldn't wait to tell me."
"Hunh? Oh yeah. I tried to call you yesterday night at the office. Where were you?"
"Umm... mostly in the morgue. Couple of gunshot victims. I hear you caught the killer already."
"Yeah, so anyway, the reason I called was cause I got a call from someone I haven't heard from in almost two years. You remember Duncan MacLeod, don't you?" he asked, smiling.
"Duncan?" Her eyes widened. "Like I could forget. Isn't he in Paris now?"
"Nope. Apparently he got back Stateside a few days ago." He paused, looking at her. "So how do you feel about taking a couple of weeks to go visit Seattle. I have some time coming, and I know you do too."
He was surprised when she let out a small chuckle. "So, Nick, might this impromptu vacation have something to do with dead bodies mysteriously drained of blood and strange puncture wounds on their throats?"
"How'd you know? Did he call you too?"
"No. I have an old college friend living down there. She's an ME helping with the police investigation. She faxed the reports for me to take a look at... apparently the police aren't making much headway with the case, and she wanted an outside opinion. I took one look at them and suggested coming over for a visit. I was going to tell you today morning, but I was just too tired. I guess I fell asleep before you came in."
"So what do you make of the reports. Was it...?" he trailed off with a questioning look in his eyes.
"Well, it certainly has all the earmarks. But even if it isn't, I could use the time off. It's been ages since I've seen Anne, and it'll be good to see Duncan again too." With that she got up and headed for the shower, leaving Nick to prepare to leave for work.
Dana Scully's Apartment, Georgetown, DC
Saturday, February 14, 1998
Two of his four planes had already been shot down and his third fighter was now in trouble. He watched helplessly as its wing was strafed by machine gun fire. Within seconds, it too was spiraling down towards the deep blue surface of the ocean below. There was no way he was going to win this dogfight with just one measly bomber left.
He looked around the screen at the woman sitting across from him, facing him. Well... not looking at him exactly... her attention was riveted on the screen in front of her. She scrunched up her face in concentration as she moved the joystick in her hand ever so slightly to the left. A small but satisfied smile appeared on her face.
He looked back at his screen just in time to see the missile lock signal appear at the bottom of his readout panel. He put down his own joystick in disgust, watching as his one remaining plane exploded in a burst of flames.
"Game... set... match... as they say." He scowled as the petite redhead shut down her laptop and stood up.
"I knew getting you that joystick was a bad idea," he growled. "How'd you get so good with it so quickly, anyway?"
"Trade secret, Mulder. I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." She smiled. "Want some coffee?" she asked as she headed towards the kitchen.
"Sure, I could use some." He walked over to the phone. "I'm going to order the pizza now," he called out.
"Just remember, no anchovies this time, Mulder," her voice wafted out of the kitchen. "Last time I spent more time picking off pieces of dead fish from my pizza than I did actually eating it."
He grinned, shaking his head as he reached for the phone.
A half hour later, they were seated on the couch, eating pizza and watching TV, waiting for the eight o'clock movie to start. Dana Scully glanced over at her partner as he pulled a slice of pizza back from his mouth, trailing strings of cheese from it back to his lips. She saw the way his lips moved as he tried to pull all the cheese into his mouth. She let her gaze travel back to the muscles working in his jaw, up his face, past his, oh, so dreamy... dreamy?... yes, dreamy eyes, until it finally settled on the dark locks of hair framing his face. She stared at the one errant lock that fell over his forehead as she lazily munched on her pizza.
If he doesn't push that hair up soon, I'm going to do it for him. The sudden thought startled her with its intensity. A flush crept over her face as she realized that he'd caught her staring at him. She tried to hide her embarrassment behind an air of nonchalance as she asked, "So, where are you going for your vacation?"
"I got a call from my dad's lawyer about a week ago. Some of his property is lying vacant, and he wanted me to go look it over and decide if I want to keep it or sell it." He shrugged. "It's apparently a drain on the estate taxes, and the law firm recommended I sell it as soon as possible." Seeing her nod, he asked, "Are you going to take some time off too? Or was your little weekend in Maine enough for the next couple of years?" His lips pulled back in a teasing grin.
"Mulder... I spent most of that weekend working..."
"That's not what you told me when you got back, Scully," he interrupted her.
She moved her shoulders in a non-committal gesture. "To answer your question, yes. I decided to take a couple of weeks off to visit an old friend of mine. Someone I haven't seen since med school."
"Oh?" He watched her eyes glaze over as she recalled what were apparently pleasant memories, as evidenced by the slight smile gracing her lips. Suddenly, he felt a pang of guilt. Did she even have any memories since she joined the X-files that she could look back upon as being pleasant? Lord knew, he didn't. No... that wasn't entirely true. The one memory he would always look back upon fondly was sitting right in front of him. He smiled to himself as she continued. Her next statement took him by surprise.
"Anne Lindsey. She's a doctor in Seattle. It's been almost, what, eight years since I've seen her? God, how time flies." She paused, her thoughts drifting back to the present as she saw the look of surprise on his face. "Mulder...?"
"Oh, nothing," he replied in answer to her unspoken question, "it's just that it's one hell of a coincidence. My dad's house, the property I was telling you about, is also in Seattle." He smiled, "Looks like we'll be traveling companions, Scully."
She let out an exaggerated groan. "Oh God! That's all I need. I take a vacation to get away from it all, and then I find out I'm still stuck with you." But surprised as she was, she was also slightly pleased. Not that she would ever acknowledge that, of course.
"Oh, come on, Scully. I'm not that bad. Besides, it'll be fun. We never get to spend that much time together away from work," he pleaded, his eyes taking on that wounded little puppy look.
She was going to retort with his own, "Are you coming on to me, Mulder?" just to see his reaction, but decided not to at the last minute. She didn't think she could handle whatever reply he gave, although knowing him, it would probably be hidden in some sort of joke. Instead, she asked, "So where is this house of yours anyway?"
"Umm... somewhere on the outskirts, Shady Glen Road or something like that."
Her eyes widened at his answer. It couldn't be. That was the same address Anne had given her. When she mentioned this to Mulder, he just chuckled. Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Are you sure you didn't arrange this, Mulder? Is there really a house?"
He placed a hand over his heart in a silent, "Would I do that to you?" "Oh, come on Scully, don't you believe in coincidences?" He thought about why he had decided on going to Seattle now. He'd known about the house for close to two and a half years now. But now it was only a convenient excuse to unofficially follow up on the case file that had caught his attention the day before. Mysterious deaths due to trauma and exsanguination. Although the police in Seattle hadn't officially requested federal help, a friend on the force had sent him the file to look at. He briefly considered telling Scully about it, but after that last case, he wasn't sure if she'd throttle him, or shoot him, or both, if he brought it up. Both... definitely both, he winced at the idea. Which was one reason he was surprised at his next few words. "Besides, as a show of good faith, you are hereby invited to spend your vacation at Chateau Mulder. What do you say?" He held his breath as he saw the decisions racing through her mind. What was he thinking, inviting her like that? This wasn't just a couple of hours spent at the other's place. They were talking about a couple of weeks, at the very least. It was too soon... wasn't it? He thought back to last Thursday night when he'd paid a sudden visit to someone he hadn't seen in a while.
Margaret Scully's Residence, Baltimore, MD
Thursday, February 12, 1998 (2 nights ago)
He knocked on the door and waited. What was he doing here, he asked himself. He sighed, because he knew the answer already. It was the same answer he'd been giving himself for the better part of the day, ever since he'd gone out and bought that ring. He fingered the box in his pocket as he waited for the door to open.
"Hello, Mrs. Scully." He smiled at the person who stood in the doorway.
"Fox! Hi." Margaret Scully's expression softened at the sight of her visitor. "Come on in." She stood aside to let him enter. Closing the door behind him, she led him into the living room. Once they had sat down, she asked, "It's wonderful to see you, Fox. Can I get you something... coffee, tea?" When he shook his head, she nodded. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?"
Mulder looked at the woman sitting across from him. He couldn't help feeling that she already knew the answer to that question, or at least had a pretty good idea. He sighed. Sometimes it looked like he couldn't hide anything from the Scully women. Of course, he'd kept his feelings about one particular Scully woman hidden pretty well for some time now. He got up and started to pace.
He opened his mouth to ask her the question he'd been rehearsing all evening. "How's Bill Jr. doing?" Wait a minute... that wasn't what he'd wanted to ask. Where had that come from?
"He's fine, Fox. Thank you for asking." She frowned. That was not what she'd been expecting him to say. His next few questions brought a sigh to her lips, along with a sense of amused wonder. She had no idea Fox knew so many of the people that she knew. He asked about Charles, her neighbors, their pets. He even asked about the people in her church group. Talk about skirting the issue, she thought. She reached out to grasp his hand as he walked by. When she caught his eye, she could tell that he'd finally made up his mind to tell her what he was here for.
"Mrs. Scully..." he began nervously. "I... I got... I got Dana something for Valentine's."
"That's sweet, Fox. But why are you telling me this?"
"Because I want your opinion. I did a little reading up on it before I got it. I thought it was the perfect gift. But then I thought about it some more, and suddenly I wasn't too sure." The last part came out in a whisper.
Now what could have a meaning deep enough to worry Fox Mulder? she thought. According to her daughter, Fox was the kind of person to hide all his feelings behind humor and cynicism, although she knew better. "Don't worry, Fox. I'm sure that whatever it is, it's something that shows the thought you put into it." Did she really want to know what he'd gotten Dana? It looked like she was going to find out.
She saw him reach into his pocket and pull out a small jewelry box, the kind used to hold earrings or a ring. He sat down beside her and she saw his hands shake slightly as he handed it to her. She glanced at his eyes before opening the box, and was shocked to see the fear she saw lurking there. Fear of what? she asked herself as she slowly opened the box. As soon as she did though, she knew the answer. A Claddagh ring! He'd actually gone to the trouble of looking up its meaning before getting it. Is he finally ready? she wondered.
She had known that Fox Mulder was in love with her daughter ever since that night when she'd come upon him in Dana's apartment after her abduction. The knowledge was only compounded over the next few months as she watched him slowly, but surely sink into the bottomless pit of despair. She'd felt powerless to help him as she herself tried to overcome the grief of losing her little girl. Even after Dana was returned, she saw that he wasn't getting better. He was seeing the one person he cared about in his life slowly being pulled away from him. He simply couldn't bring himself to allow the doctors to pull her from the respirator, even though he'd witnessed her living will himself. When Dana had finally woken up, Margaret Scully couldn't tell who she was more relieved for. She had surprised herself as she realized that she'd unconsciously accepted this lonely young man, with all his emotional baggage, as part of her family. She knew that had her daughter died, she would have been attending the funerals of not one, but two children.
Of course, she knew that Dana loved him as well. It was so obvious every time she talked about her Mulder, the way her voice changed, the way her eyes took on that faraway look. She had been waiting for the two of them to acknowledge it for three years now. But both of them were too stubborn, and too afraid to do so. Although, now it looked as if Fox was ready to take the first step... or was he?
She decided that a direct attack was the best way, so she asked without preamble, "Do you love her, Fox?" She smiled at his reaction.
He stared at her uncomprehendingly for a few seconds. Surely she hadn't asked him what he thought she'd just asked him. He looked at the fireplace and then looked back at her. He sighed as he ran a hand over his face. Yes, he decided, she'd definitely asked him the question. And now he had to decide on how to answer her. Finally he decided upon a whispered "Yes."
The reply was almost below her hearing threshold, but she couldn't help smiling. The first step... finally. It could only get better from here, although you couldn't tell from looking at him. If possible, he looked more miserable at having to admit his feelings for Dana. She forced her happy thoughts to the background as she focused on what he was saying.
"... but it's too soon, Mrs. Scully. I can't tell her. What if she doesn't feel the same way? What if she... if she decides to leave the X-files, leave me?" He appeared horror-stricken at the thought. "What if she asks for a transfer? I can't lose the best friend I've ever had by trying to get something that was never meant to be. Besides, it's too dangerous. If they ever found out, they could easily use it against us." The expression on his face ran the full gamut of emotions from fear to horror and finally settled on a look of sorrow.
"Fox..." She began, but stopped when she saw that he wasn't listening. Pulling his chin up to meet his eyes, she tried again, "Fox, listen to me. I happen to know that my daughter loves you." She held up a hand to forestall his objections. "Don't ask me how I know, just trust me on this, I know. And I can guarantee that she won't turn you down. And as for the other stuff, how much more danger can you two get into? Have either of you cared less for each other before than you do now? Will anything have changed, except for the fact that neither of you will be beating yourselves up over silly might have beens and What ifs?" She paused, then squeezed his hand as she continued in a low but firm voice, "Tell her, Fox."
He met her gaze and held it for a few minutes before he gave up. He never could resist the Scully women. He sighed as she handed him back the ring. "I'll try, Mrs. Scully, but not yet. I still have a lot to think about." He stood up and placed the ring back in his pocket. He looked down at her, adding, "It's just so soon. I have to wait for the right time. I have to know how she feels."
"Fox, it's never the right time," she answered in a soft voice.
He simply nodded. "Thank you for talking to me, Mrs. Scully. Like I said, I have a lot to think about. Good night." With that he turned towards the door.
Margaret Scully watched Fox Mulder walk out the door, hoping he would do the right thing. She reached for the small cell phone that lay behind one of the cushions. Dana had left it behind when she'd visited earlier that day. She'd forgotten to give it to Fox, but it gave her an excellent excuse to call her daughter. She rose and walked over to the phone.
Dana Scully's Apartment
Definitely too soon, he told himself as he waited for an answer.
Scully thought about the real reason she was going to Seattle. Maybe if I'm staying with him, I can keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn't get wind of this case. After that last one, I'm not sure why I even agreed to take a look at this case. For Anne, she reminded herself. Uh-huh! Is that the only reason you want to stay with him, Dana? a small part of her taunted. The conversation she'd had with her mother that morning flashed through her mind.
Margaret Scully's Residence, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, February 14, 1998
I'll just get the phone and leave, she told herself as she waited for the door to open. When it did, she smiled at the person standing in the doorway. "Hi, mom. I just came to get my phone. Mulder's waiting in the car, so I can't stay long."
"Good morning, Dana." Margaret Scully walked with her daughter to the living room to retrieve the cell phone she'd left behind a couple of nights ago. Picking it up from the coffee table, Margaret handed it to Dana, noticing the ring as she did so. She held her daughter's hand, lightly stroking the ring as she looked up at Dana's eyes. "It's beautiful, Dana," she murmured.
Dana looked at her mother with curiosity. She didn't seem surprised at the ring. In fact, Dana had expected some sort of comment about it, and was half dreading the questions she was sure she would be plied with. "It is, isn't it? Mulder gave it to me for Valentine's."
When Margaret nodded, Dana had a sudden idea. "Mom, I wanted to thank Mulder for his gift, and to let him know how much I care for him. I was thinking of giving him my cross." She lightly fingered the chain lying around her neck as she said it. "Would you mind?" she asked nervously, unsure of her mother's reaction. After all, it had been a gift from her.
"Oh, Dana! I think that's a wonderful idea. I know how much he means to you, and I think it would be the perfect gift." She beamed at the idea.
Dana let out a breath of relief at her mother's words. "Thanks mom." She took Margaret's hands in hers and squeezed them, giving her a kiss.
Margaret looked at her daughter before coming to a decision. "Could you wait for a few minutes? I have something for you." With that, she hurried upstairs.
When her mother returned, Dana saw that she clutched something in her hand. She walked up to her, noticing the sad look in her eyes.
Her eyes cleared up when she saw her daughter. She held up Dana's hand and placed a packet in it, closing her other hand over it. "Since you're giving your cross to Fox, I thought this was only fitting. I want you to have this, and I know Missy would have, too." She smiled as a small tear slid down her face.
Dana looked at her mother, then cautiously opened the small packet. She slid its contents into her palm and was taken aback. Missy's cross... She looked up at her mom, a hint of tears in her own eyes. "Are you sure?" she asked softly. When her mother nodded, she handed it back, reaching up to unclasp hers. She slid it into the packet and turned around. "Could you put it on, mom?" She let the tears fall as she felt her mother place the chain around her neck. She turned back around and hugged her mother tightly.
When they pulled apart, each of them gave a small smile at the other's tear-stained expressions. Reaching up to wipe her eyes, Margaret Scully asked, "So what are you going to do about that ring? And don't think I didn't see which way it was pointing."
"Oh, mom. He doesn't feel that way. The ring signifies friendship, that's all," she replied, reaching up to wipe her own eyes. "Besides, he hasn't said anything or done anything to make me think otherwise."
Margaret couldn't help noticing that her daughter didn't deny her feelings for her partner like she always did. Of course, she didn't exactly admit to them either, so she decided to give it a slight push. Remembering her conversation with Fox barely two nights ago, she thought to herself, First step, Maggie, make sure she takes the first step. Although she was certain of the answer, she asked anyway, "Do you love him, Dana?" She smiled slightly at her daughter's reaction to her question. She did exactly the same thing Fox had done.
Dana looked over at the fireplace, then looked back at her mother. She'd asked her the question. She couldn't believe it. And she couldn't believe the answer that immediately entered her mind. She sighed as she ran a hand over her face. She didn't have to answer, however... the look on her face, in her eyes, gave her away.
"Oh, Dana!" Margaret reached up to touch her cheek. "You should tell him."
I can't do this, not right now, Dana thought frantically. "Umm... mom, I have to go. Mulder's waiting." With that, she turned and hurried out of the house.
Dana Scully's Apartment
Is that the only reason you want to stay with him? the voice asked again. "Yes," she said, both to still her suddenly errant thoughts and in reply to her partner's invitation. She couldn't be sure, but it looked as if he'd been holding his breath waiting for her to answer. And after her mother had gotten her to admit her feelings for him that morning, she didn't know quite how to interpret his reaction.
He let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding when he heard her answer. He was relieved, ecstatic, and frightened all at the same time. Before he could contemplate her reply any further, he saw her get up and walk into her bedroom. She returned moments later with a small packet in her hand.
"I wanted to give you something for Valentine's, but I wanted to ask my mother first, just to make sure she was okay with it." She sat back down on the couch and handed him the packet.
He opened it and looked inside. Her cross! He looked up at her with a silent question in his eyes.
"That's the cross my parents gave me," she said, pointing to the chain he held in his hand. "They meant it as a symbol of their love for me and their faith in God. When I told my mom that I wanted to give it to you, she insisted on giving me Missy's." She raised her hand to lightly trace the chain she currently wore.
"I'm not Catholic, Scully." He tried to inject a little humor into his voice, but it cracked anyway. This was the only symbol, the only reminder he'd had of Scully when she'd been taken away. And she trusted him enough to give it to him now. He looked at her with a slight sheen in his eyes.
"Think of it as a symbol of my faith and belief in you, Mulder." She moved in a little closer and took the chain from him, reaching up to place it around his neck.
Mulder reached up to cover her hand as she finished clasping it. He brought it to his lips and lightly laid a kiss on her fingers. "Thank you, Scully. I mean that."
She nodded and sat back in the couch next to him, leaning her head on his shoulder as they waited for the movie to start.
Mulder Residence, Seattle, WA
Sunday, February 15, 1998
The dark grey Ford Taurus pulled up in front of the house. The two occupants got out and, hefting their luggage, walked up the front path.
"It's beautiful, Mulder," said the woman, putting down her bags, waiting for her companion to open the door. She looked around, admiring the house and the secluded setting it was located in. With a little imagination, it would be easy to believe that they were the only living souls for miles around. The house itself was a beautiful two story affair, almost like her mother's house in Baltimore.
"It is, isn't it?" Mulder replied, turning the key and pushing open the door. "This is one place I actually have fond memories of. Sam and I used to spend summers here with an old uncle of ours." He smiled at the memory. "Dad inherited this place after he died. Actually, I'm surprised to find it in such good condition. The last caretaker quit a few months ago. But, from the looks of things," he said, stepping in and taking a look around, "we won't have to do much before we can settle in." Placing his bags by the door, he turned to help his partner with hers. "It's going to be a great few weeks, Scully," he said, smiling at her.
They spent the afternoon cleaning up the place. It was bigger than it looked from the outside, and it took a couple of hours to remove all the dust covers from the furniture, searching for fresh linens, hooking up the electricity, stocking the kitchen, and making sure everything worked. Finally, they plopped down on the couch, exhausted.
Mulder immediately reached for the remote control. Flipping on the TV, he asked, "Are you going to see your friend tomorrow?" He took a sip from the can of Dr Pepper he held in his hand.
"Yeah, she works till about five, so I'll probably go by her office sometime before then." Plus a visit to the morgue beforehand couldn't hurt either, she added silently.
He frowned. "A doctor that gets off work at five? Hmmm... those hours sound a bit suspicious, if you ask me." His eyes twinkled in mischief.
"Mulder... you'd find a conspiracy in a can of Dr Pepper if I let you," she answered, shaking her head. "Besides, not everyone works the hours we do."
"You know, Scully," he said, turning to face the television, but looking at her out of the corner of his eye, "there is a theory that the government was involved in removing the period after the Dr on the Dr Pepper can as a form of mind control." He smiled when he saw her frown and reach over to pick up her can of soda.
Turning it, she remarked, "Mulder... I don't remember there ever having been a period..." She trailed off, thinking about what she'd been about to say. Ouch, walked right into that one, she chided herself.
He chuckled at her chagrined expression, then ducked to avoid the cushion that sailed over his head scant seconds later.
"And what's the great Mulder going to do tomorrow?"
"Paperwork! The one constant in the universe. I have several forms and other information to look over concerning this house." That and a nice little trip down to the coroner's office to really liven up my day, he added to himself.
Mulder sat at the ancient desk in the study, poring over the assortment of papers lying before him, trying to make some headway through the overwhelming amount of information.
Feeling his eyes begin to glaze over, he shook himself awake. Scully had given up about an hour ago. The five hour plane trip and the time spent cleaning up the place had left them both exhausted. But, if he was going to look into this case tomorrow, he had to get a handle on some of this drudge work tonight. He sighed as he reached over to grab a couple of sunflower seeds and popped them into his mouth.
Monday, February 16, 1998
Fox Mulder stepped out of the shower wrapped in a bathrobe, a towel covering his head as he rubbed his wet hair vigorously. He was startled at the sound of someone calling his name from outside his room. Scully? he thought as he rushed outside, through the hallway to her room next door.
"Oh, Mulder," he heard as he entered her room. "I told you over and over..."
"Scully?" he called out, but stopped as soon as he spotted her lying in her bed. Looking closer, he saw that her eyes were closed. She was still asleep, and obviously having a dream.
He rushed to the side of her bed and gently shook her, even as she softly crooned, "Oh, Fox! Poor, poor Fox. I warned you, but you never listen, do you?"
His eyes widened as he listened to what she was saying. What the hell is she dreaming about? He shook her a little harder, raising his voice as well, "Scully, wake up."
"Hunh! What...," she stuttered as she slowly opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was Mulder gazing down at her, concern evident in his eyes.
"You ok, Scully? That must have been some dream."
"You'd better believe it," she grunted, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
"Well... what was it about?"
"It's silly, Mulder," she paused. Seeing the questioning look in his eyes, she sighed, "Oh, all right. I dreamt that you had eaten one too many sunflower seeds, and you started sprouting flower petals all over your face, and leaves were growing out of your ears. I kept telling you not to eat so many seeds, but you didn't listen to me." She glared at him when he broke into a smile.
"Like I said, Mulder, a silly dream, that's all. Say, why's there a towel on your head," she asked, noticing his appearance for the first time.
"Oh, I just got out of the shower when I heard you calling my name. So I..." He trailed off when he saw her eyes slowly widen. "What?"
She reached out and pulled the towel off his head. He saw her gasp, and then her eyes rolled up in her head as she fell back onto the bed unconscious. What the hell? he thought as a hint of fear crept up his chest. He slowly rose and walked over to the vanity mirror next to the bed. What he saw chilled him to the bone. He saw the edges of his face adorned with bright yellow sunflower petals, leaves growing where his hair used to be...
He screamed as he jerked himself awake. He immediately knew he'd made a mistake as he felt himself falling backward. His arms flailed out, trying desperately to find purchase on something solid, but without luck. His chair fell to the ground with a resounding crash, pulling him down along with it.
"Mulder...?" he heard as he shook his head to clear the haze of sleepiness. All he could see from behind the desk was a pair of legs on the other side, walking toward, then around it. He looked up to see Scully appear around the desk, a concerned look on her face. She knelt down beside him. "Are you hurt? I heard a scream, and..."
"Just my pride, Scully," he replied sheepishly. "I must've fallen asleep on the desk. I had a bad dream and when I woke up so suddenly, I guess I fell over."
"Oh god, Mulder. You're lucky you didn't crack your skull open." She stood back up and looked around. "Just look at this mess... sunflower seeds everywhere." She snapped her gaze back to him. "You were eating them when you dozed off." It wasn't a question.
"Relax, Scully. I'll clean it up. Besides, I think I'm swearing off of sunflower seeds, at least for a while. After that dream, I don't think I can bear to eat another one."
She raised her eyebrows at that. "Must have been some dream, Mulder."
"You'd better believe it," he muttered. She reached down to give him a hand when he noticed that she was already dressed. When he asked her about it, she said something about needing to run some errands before turning around and walking out. He watched her walk away and turned towards his room to take a shower, a real one this time.
Mercy General Hospital, Basement, Seattle, WA
He walked down the corridor, looking at the signs above each door, searching for the one he was looking for. He turned around the corner and stopped, staring ahead. Turning the far corner was a familiar figure. He caught the flash of red hair just before she disappeared from view.
What's she doing here? he thought frantically. He tried to remember what she'd told him about her plans for today. Of course, her friend, the doctor. It stood to reason she would be in the hospital. But why in the basement. There was nothing down here except storerooms and... At that moment, he reached the corner and, turning around it, caught sight of his partner pushing open the double doors that led to his destination. ... the morgue, he completed his thought. How had she gotten wind of this case? he asked himself as he watched her on the other side of the double doors. Or did she even know about it? His questions were answered when he saw her open one of the small doors on the far wall and slide the body out. His eyes widened as he saw her examining the neck area. When she turned around to repeat the same procedure with the body in the next vault, he quietly pushed open the door and slid inside. Walking up behind her, he couldn't resist a "I vant to sach your blahd" in his best Count Dracula accent. He was gratified to see her jump a foot in the air.
"Jeez, Mulder. You scared the life out of me."
"Relax, Scully. I think he's dead." Mulder grinned as he poked the body lying on the stretcher next to him. He walked over to the cabinets lining the wall on the other side. Perching himself atop one, he asked, "What are you doing down here?"
"Anne's one of the MEs assigned to this case. She asked me and another friend for help when she saw that the police weren't making any headway with it. In fact, Anne should be down here any minute now." She turned back to examine the second body. "How about you, Mulder? Didn't you have some paperwork to take care of?" As a thought occurred to her, she turned back to him with a stern look in her eyes. "Don't tell me you followed me."
He feigned shock at her accusation, then smiled. "A friend on the local PD sent me the file to look over. To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure how you'd react if I told you about it. Imagine my surprise when you told me you were taking your vacation here."
"And here I was worried about your reaction. I knew what you would think, and I didn't want you to..." she made a sharp stabbing motion with her hands, "... overreact again."
"Don't worry, Scully. No one's gonna sue us this time." He smiled. "Although you must admit, I was right on the money last week. I proved that Ronnie Strickland, and damn near everyone else in that trailer park, was a vampire, didn't I?"
"I don't know anything about that Mulder. Like I told Skinner, I was drugged at the time." But she still smiled at the memory of finding a muddy Mulder in their rental car, frantically searching his neck for bite marks.
"Gee, thanks for the support," he responded sarcastically. He jumped off the cabinet and walked over to the body. "So what's the diagnosis, Dr. Scully?"
"Typical vampire like attacks," she replied, emphasizing her disbelief that it actually was a vampire. "Trademark puncture wounds near the jugular," she said, pointing to the neck, "and no blood in their bodies to speak of. I don't think..." She trailed off, her eyes widening.
Mulder reached his partner just in time to catch her as she staggered back, clutching her head as if in pain. A million thoughts ran through his panicked mind as he struggled to help her. He was relieved when she managed to stand on her own. He was about to ask her what happened when they were interrupted by the morgue doors opening. They both turned to face the two figures who stood in the doorway.
"She should already be in there," Dr. Anne Lindsey told the woman walking beside her as they approached the morgue doors. "I was just about to follow her when you showed up." She smiled at her friend. "Despite the circumstances, it'll be great to see both of you again. It's been way too long, Natalie."
"That it has, Anne," replied the brunette, an expectant, albeit tired smile on her face. She had been up most of the night, going over the police reports, and then helping Nick patrol the area. Of course, there had been no sign of the killer, vampire or otherwise. It's never that easy, is it? That was part of the reason she was here at the morgue. If she could determine whether the killer was actually a vampire, or simply a killer with a sick fetish, they would be that much closer to stopping the murders. It's too bad Nick couldn't be here, she thought wistfully, looking at the bright streams of sunlight coming through the couple of small windows high in the wall.
"I have to admit..." Anne was saying, pulling Natalie's mind from her thoughts, "... these killings have me at a loss to explain them. If I didn't know better, I'd swear someone out there thinks they are a vampire. I mean, can you imagine that, in this day and age?"
She heard her friend give a strangled chuckle, then suddenly tense up. Natalie's hands went into her trench coat as she warily glanced around. Anne's eyes widened in recognition of a familiar gesture. She had seen Duncan do this so many times, but Natalie? Nah! It couldn't be. They had just reached the double doors, and, pushing them open, they stepped inside.
Anne and Natalie looked at the two figures standing inside. They didn't recognize the man, but they did see their friend standing beside him. "Dana?" Anne ventured slowly, glancing from her to Natalie, then back to her. "Are you all right?"
Scully glanced around warily, echoing Natalie's earlier gesture. Her gaze settled on her friends, then wandered over to the source of the sensation. She couldn't quite explain it, but she was sure that Natalie was the source of the gut-wrenching sensation she was experiencing... although the feeling seemed more in control now. She'd only felt like this twice before. Memories of a dark parking lot, abandoned buildings, and lightning storms flashed through her mind as she managed a weak smile.
"I'm fine, Anne. I just tripped. Natalie! Hi. I didn't expect you in Seattle so soon." When her friends came closer, she turned to Mulder and met his concerned gaze. Not now, Mulder, she pleaded silently. Aloud she said, "This is my partner, Fox Mulder. Mulder, Dr. Anne Lindsey and Dr. Natalie Lambert, the friends I've been telling you about all weekend."
Mulder wrenched his eyes away from her, but she could clearly read the silent promise they held. We'll talk about this later. "Dr. Lindsey, Dr. Lambert," he smiled at them. "It's a pleasure to meet you," he said, holding out his hand.
"Mr. Mulder." They shook his hand. Natalie felt a slight tingle when she held his hand, but didn't comment on it. When she turned to give Scully a hug, Anne sized him up. Her partner? Certainly didn't look like it when we walked in.
She looked at her friends, now busily studying the corpses. She sighed. This is what I called them for. But she couldn't help feeling a little left out. They were lost in their own world, arguing, as always, about the possible causes of death, the various symptoms, and what not. She had always been the odd one out in this trio. She had gotten out of the forensics field for the same reason that these two had stayed in it. This fascination with pathology, this need to explain death, something she considered a totally natural process. It was the same reason she had left Duncan. She was a doctor, she saved lives, and although she could understand death, even try to accept it, there was no way she was going to embrace it as wholeheartedly as these two. And staying down here was certainly not helping any.
"Umm... guys? I've got some stuff I need to take care of upstairs. Come by when you're done, okay?" She quickly got out of there and headed back to the confines of her office.
Scully and Natalie smiled at each other as they turned to watch their friend beat a hasty retreat. "Same old Anne," Natalie chuckled, "corpses still give her the willies every now and then." Turning back to the corpse, she studied the puncture wounds. She heard Scully telling her all the reasons why this was obviously the work of a deranged serial killer, but closer examination only confirmed what she had thought earlier. She adjusted her trench coat, thinking about what she saw. There was no doubt about it, this was a vampire attack. She realized that she was actually surprised. She had expected the killer to be a normal mortal... after all, vampires hardly ever left evidence lying around like this. For this many bodies to be showing up so suddenly, she thought, there would have to be a whole slew of vampires descending on the city.
Mulder watched the interaction of the two doctors in front of him. He heard Scully give a point by point analysis of the cause and conditions of death, the killer's motives, and other related facts. He also saw the look in her friend's eyes and realized something. She's not buying it. He saw the brunette silently nod at Scully, apparently going along with her analysis, but every piece of his psychological training told him... screamed at him... that she didn't believe a word Scully was saying. He saw her lean in to give the neck area a closer look, and his eyes widened at the soft clang he heard. His thoughts flew back to the moments just before Scully's friends had entered. He'd only seen Scully react that way once before. Images of severed heads and lightning storms immediately came to mind. Nor had he missed the look his partner had given Natalie when she walked in the door. His eyes narrowed as they followed the outline of her trench coat. She was still leaning against the body tray, and there was something about the way the coat lay there, as if there were... he drew in a startled breath. Of course...
"You're an immortal."
The conversation abruptly stopped. Both the women swung their heads to look at him, Scully with her mouth hanging open, and Dr. Lambert pinning him with a startled gaze.
Whoops. He hadn't meant to voice his thoughts out loud, but now there was no turning back. "Well, it's true, isn't it?"
"Mulder..." Scully's voice held a warning tone.
Natalie let out a soft sigh. "How'd you know?" she asked, trying to figure out what had given her away. Well, she thought in consolation, at least I won't have to pretend with Dana if he knows.
"Natalie, you can't be serious." Scully couldn't believe that her friend had even heard of immortality, let alone accepting it easily enough to discuss it with others.
"He obviously knows about us, Dana," she began, then frowned when she saw the expression on her friend's face. It was almost as if Dana herself didn't know about it. A thought occurred to her as she remembered the scene when she walked in. She recalled seeing her friend looking around nervously, but with more confusion than was to be expected. Suddenly Duncan's words flashed across her mind...
"Sometimes it's harder on the new ones who don't have anyone to mentor them. At least I was around for you when you woke up. Some don't find out until it's too late."
Her eyes widened as she realized that Dana really had no idea who, or rather what, she was. But, if she didn't, how had her partner found out? She was going to have a long talk with these two. Might as well get started...
"Did you feel a sudden, strange sensation just before I walked in here?" When she nodded, Natalie continued, "I felt it too. It's how we know when another one of us is close by."
"Dana, you and I, we're both immortals. And from what your partner said, it sounds as if you two already know something about it. But, obviously, not everything. So how about this? You tell me what you know, and I'll try to fill in the gaps."
Scully looked from Natalie to Mulder, then let out a breath as she decided what to tell her.
"Scully," Mulder began, "you knew this would come up sooner or later. And now, we have someone here who can explain this to us willingly."
"All right, Mulder." She moved away from them and began to pace. "It began when I accidentally cut my palm in the kitchen. Mulder was there when it happened, when it healed." She paused. Even talking about it after all this time, she couldn't help the feeling of wonder and fear that always accompanied the thought. As a doctor, she knew such things were simply not possible. But being Mulder's partner and an agent in the X-files division had taught her to view even the impossible with some degree of faith. She went on to recount the various tests she'd performed while trying to solve a particularly gruesome case the month before.
She stopped pacing when she saw Natalie smile. "It looks like you've done more tests on yourself in the past month than I've done in the past year. And believe me, I've been through several of the ones you've described."
"I had to find a way to explain it, Nat..."
"You don't have to justify it to me, Dana. I know exactly how you feel. I felt the same thing when I found out."
Scully nodded, then went on to relate the events that led to her confronting the killer in the old house. When she got to the part about getting stabbed, she felt Mulder come up behind her and place a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She knew that the comfort was meant for him as much as it was for her. He had thought that he'd lost her that night. She still remembered the tight hug she'd found herself in when she had regained consciousness. It had felt so safe, so right, so... and then she had seen the killer wake up and walk forward, sword in hand. She had done the only thing she could think of. She shot him, right over Mulder's shoulder. The clinical doctor in her considered the possibility that Mulder may have gone deaf from the nearness of the shot, but any further attempt at coherent thought had been brought to a grinding halt when she'd felt it. She didn't know quite how to explain it to Natalie, but she saw that her friend understood. How do you explain joy beyond your wildest dreams, intermixed with sorrow unimaginable in your most horrific nightmare? She shuddered as she explained about Jonathan Summers, the killer, and finding him nearly decapitated by one of the metal spikes on the railing surrounding the house. "And that's how I found out about it," she finished.
"But that still doesn't explain how you knew there were more of us out there. You and Summers could have been two of a kind, for all you knew," Natalie asked.
"I think I can explain that," Mulder chimed in. "I called in a favor from an anthropology professor of mine. He had some information on a group of people who recorded immortal activity throughout history. Most of it was pretty vague, and didn't mention anything in detail, but it was enough to clue us in on the longevity of some of the observees. But that's about all we know."
Now it was Natalie's turn to stare. A group of people who not only had knowledge of immortals, but also recorded their activities? She wasn't sure she liked the idea of her life story ending up in a chronicle in a library somewhere. She needed to talk to Duncan about this. And she needed to introduce Dana Scully to him. She herself had been immortal for barely a couple of years, and she just didn't have the qualifications necessary to take on the responsibility of training a new one. But for now, there was one piece of information Dana had not mentioned. She had said something about swords, but obviously didn't know what they were really used for. And explaining that was going to be the hard part. At least it had been for her.
"Dana, you said Summers had a sword. Do you know why?"
"Apparently immortals heal too quickly to die using conventional means. From what I could figure out, our one vulnerable spot seems to be in the neck area, somewhere between the third and fourth vertebrae. I assume he was using it to make sure that if he had to kill an immortal, he could make sure that they would stay dead permanently."
"Well," she began, trying to find the right words, "that's only part of the reason. I think I know how Mr. Mulder knew I was an immortal." She turned to Mulder and raised an eyebrow in question.
Mulder understood what she was referring to. "Actually, I kinda suspected when I noticed your reactions to each other. But, yes, the sword confirmed it."
"Sword?" Scully asked in confusion. She hadn't seen evidence of any swords.
"I don't think the good doctor's coat is for purely aesthetic purposes, Scully," replied Mulder as they saw Natalie reach into it. Scully was shocked when, holding the coat open with one hand, Natalie smoothly pulled out a gleaming blade at least a couple of feet long. Even Mulder, who had been expecting something like this, was taken aback at the way the blade was so easily hidden inside the coat. If it hadn't been for the small sound it had made when it hit the metal of the tray, he would never have guessed as to it's existence. He looked up from the glare of the overhead lights reflecting off the shining steel to listen to what Natalie was saying.
"All of us carry one of these, Dana. It's how we live." At her friend's incredulous look, she tried to elaborate. "There are certain rules that all immortals have to adhere to. That night when Summers was decapitated, you remember what you said you felt? That was his quickening, his life essence. You probably came away with fleeting impressions of his life... memories, sensations, feelings, and mainly experiences." She saw her friend nod, and, putting her sword back inside her coat, she continued, "Well, that's what happens when one of us dies. His or her quickening is released, all that power, all that knowledge, in one massive discharge. And it goes to the nearest immortal. The older the immortal, the more powerful the quickening. The only way for an immortal to receive one is to kill another. And... one of the rules is that, in the end, there can be only one."
"One what?" Mulder asked, not sure he would like the answer. He saw Scully's eyes widen in horror.
"Immortal, Mulder. One immortal. Isn't that what you're saying, Natalie? There can only be one immortal left in the end?" Her voice held all the disgust and disbelief that Mulder felt. "What would you have me do, Nat? Get a sword and chop off the heads of all the immortals I meet? What about you?"
"It's what we do, Dana. I know it's hard to understand right now, but I went through the same thing when I changed. But, as my teacher used to say, denial can only hasten your death. You need to be taught how to use one of these. You need to know for when you're challenged by another immortal, because our fights are to the death... real, permanent death," she finished in a hushed voice.
"I refuse," Scully shouted back at her. "There is no way..."
"Dammit, Dana. Aren't you listening to me? You don't have a choice. You may not want to fight. You don't even have to go out looking for them. But there will be others who will want to kill you. You have to be prepared to fight them." She shrugged. "Think of it as self defense, in a broader sense. Besides, can you imagine what would happen if someone like Summers wound up being the last one. All that knowledge, all that power... well, you know what they say about absolute power." She saw Dana nod, but knew the indecision was far from resolved. She briefly wondered if it ever would be. Even after two years, she still felt disturbed at the thought of killing with such impunity.
Mulder looked from his partner to her friend, and decided to intervene. He realized that Scully needed time to process this, and he intended to give her all the space she needed. "I have a few questions for you, Dr. Lambert."
"Call me Natalie, Mr. Mulder. I think we're slightly past the stage of using last names."
"Okay, but I would appreciate you calling me Mulder. I'm not that enamoured with my first name." When she nodded, he continued, "You mentioned before that you changed. Does that mean that you weren't always... immortal?"
"Uh-huh. Immortals aren't born this way. We are like normal mortals... we get hurt, we age... just like them. An immortal gains his power when he or she dies for the first time. It sort of jump starts one's immortality, for lack of a better term." She saw both partners smile at that.
"For me, it happened a couple of years ago. A friend of mine in the police department was pursuing a serial killer who left behind a string of beheaded corpses. When we finally caught up with the killer, he managed to get out of the prison, take me and a couple of others hostage, and escape. Luckily for me, we were saved by Duncan MacLeod, another immortal who had pursued our killer up to Toronto. He managed to get us all out, but not before I was run through with the killer's sword. It was hell, convincing the other hostages that I wasn't seriously hurt, although, I must confess, I was dead for most of that. Duncan finally managed to persuade them."
She smiled at that. More like Nick had finally managed to persuade them. Duncan's and her immortality hadn't been the only secret revealed that night. Duncan had certainly gotten an eyeful when Nick had flung their killer over ten yards away in fury. "He stayed with me and my friend until I woke up, then proceeded to give me the same speech I just gave you two. He was the one who trained me to use a sword. In fact, he lives right here in Seattle. I was planning on taking you two over there later today. I'm not good enough with the sword to teach you, Dana. But he's got over 400 years of experience, and he can teach you everything you need to know." Now it was her turn to smile at the amazed look on their faces when she mentioned his age. "Besides," she continued, "I don't have a collection of swords lying around to give you one, and they don't exactly grow on trees. The one I have is at least as old as Duncan, and pretty valuable, from what he tells me. It belonged to the killer I was telling you about."
Mulder nodded, then asked, "Another thing, Natalie. You mentioned certain rules that immortals live by. What else is there, other than that first one?"
"There are only a couple of others. I'm not even sure if these rules are set in stone, or whether an early immortal made them up to explain his own immortality. But one rule is that all fights are one on one. No one else, immortal or otherwise, can interfere once a challenge is issued. Although, MacLeod has mentioned some who have broken this rule, using guns and bodyguards to kill their opponents temporarily before finishing them off for real. And the final rule, something not even the most evil among us has ever dared to break, is that you can't fight on holy ground. And that includes churches, cemetaries, mosques, Indian shrines, anything that's been consecrated. It's a refuge against other immortals. I have no idea what would happen if we did fight on holy ground, but some legends say that the last time it happened, it caused the eruption at Mt. Vesuvius." She broke off, seeing the looks of disbelief she was getting. With a chuckle, she said, "Hey, I never said I believed it. I'm just telling you what Duncan told me, and what I'm sure he was told by someone else. One thing about immortality... gossip and rumor take on a new meaning when word of mouth can go on for decades, or even centuries."
"I wonder what would happen if an immortal changed when they were really young," Mulder asked, "or when they were really old. I mean, dying at just the right time in your life seems a bit convenient to me."
"What makes you think that doesn't happen? But those who do don't usually last too long. They would be fair game to the first immortal who came along. There have been people Duncan has told me about, an immortal who was retarded before he changed, and one in particular, a boy who changed when he was ten. This boy, Kenny, apparently uses an innocent little boy act to win the protection of unsuspecting immortals, then kills them when their backs are turned. He's almost twice as old as Duncan, but hasn't fought a fair fight in his life."
"I'm not sure if I should be appalled, or if I should feel sorry for him. A ten year old can hardly be expected to put up a fair fight." Mulder tried to imagine life in Kenny's shoes, and found that he wouldn't wish a fate like that on anyone.
"I know exactly what you mean," Natalie answered.
"And I think I've had just about enough of this," Scully cut in. She had been quiet all through this little exchange between her two friends, but was starting to get nervous again. She felt like she needed a breath of fresh air. "I think I'm going to go upstairs and talk to Anne, and then maybe grab some lunch." With that, she strode past them and walked out the door with a final "You guys coming?"
Mulder and Natalie looked at each other. Shrugging, they pushed the body trays in, closed the doors, and turned to follow her.
"You don't believe her, do you?" Mulder asked Natalie quietly. Scully was still far enough ahead of them that she couldn't hear his comment. He saw the brunette glance at him with a questioning look. "About the killings, I mean," he explained.
"You are either psychic, Mulder, or very perceptive. I think Dana has found herself an excellent partner. By the way, are you two...?"
"No, we're not." Mulder smiled at her. "And you, my dear Dr. Lambert, are trying to change the subject. You don't have to hide it from me. I know that was a vampire attack. I believe that just as much as Scully disbelieves it. Through my work, I've seen enough to acknowledge that vampires do exist. Hell, I was almost brought across by one." He flinched as memories of a dark building in LA swam across his mind, memories of Kristen... He pushed the unsettling thoughts away, only to replace them with memories of a few nights ago, alone in a trailer park, being attacked by a mob of vampires. The images of those glowing eyes would haunt him for a while, he was sure.
They caught up to Scully waiting for the elevator. Each of them looked at the other, silently deciding to table the discussion for now.
Alleyway next to Joe's bar
Fox Mulder kneeled down beside the police tape, looking at the dark spot that stained the ground. This was the site of the last murder. And just like all the others, except for the bloodstains on the ground and the wall, there were no indications that anything untoward had occurred here. No signs of any kind of struggle, no fingerprints, nothing. Whoever, or whatever, the killer was, he or she had been quick, and clean, and very efficient. There was simply no evidence whatsoever to go on. No wonder the police were stumped. The only pattern that emerged was the secluded setting, as if the killer were waiting in ambush. And in a city replete with alleyways and out of the way spots, there was no way the police could patrol the entire area.
He sighed and stood up, taking a look around. Spotting the entrance to the bar, he headed towards it, thinking about how he had spent his day. After a brief lunch with Scully and her friends, he saw that they were all set for an afternoon of girl talk. And, much as he would have loved to chat about Scully's formative years, he had no desire to do so in front of her, nor did he want to hear about former boyfriends and college gossip. He'd gotten out of there as quickly as he could after getting MacLeod's address from Natalie. Apparently, he owned a dojo nearby, and Mulder had promised to meet Natalie and Scully there at 5:30.
He had spent the past four hours driving all over the city, from one crime scene to the next. All the killings seemed to be confined to the waterfront district, but that still left a lot of ground to cover. Every single site looked pretty much the same... secluded, and with no discernable clues to go on.
But the drive had also given him time to think about what Natalie had told them in the morgue, about Scully's immortality, and its implications. He thought about the more immediate consequences. Obviously, she would have to leave the Bureau in a few years, a decade at the most, before people started noticing that she wasn't getting any older. When the time came, he asked himself if he would leave with her, if he even could. If he was still unsuccessful in his quest for the truth, his search for his sister, would he willingly give them up to be with her? They would have to go into hiding, change identities...
Of course, all this was moot if he didn't tell her how he felt about her. Did he love her? Yes, he answered himself vehemently and with conviction. But he wasn't sure he could tell her that, not after today. Before, it had been pure speculation on their part about her immortality. Today, they had gotten confirmation. And suddenly, it wasn't speculation anymore, something that could be relegated to the realm of fantasy. It was real. She would be young forever, while he grew old, and eventually died. Could he handle that... the knowledge that she would move on after him? And even if she had any interest in him before, would she want to be burdened down with a senior citizen while she was, for all intents and purposes, in the prime of her life?
No, he told himself. He had no right to make that decision for her. She would have to make the first move, if she wanted to. For a brief moment, the thought that he already was making the decision for her, by keeping his feelings hidden, crossed his mind. But he quickly squashed that thought... he was making the right choice, he told himself. But he was still a long way from totally convincing himself of that.
He sighed as he paused outside the door to the bar. Taking a deep breath, he pulled open the door and stepped inside, pushing the unresolved dilemma out of his mind for now. It wasn't like he was going to run out of time anytime soon. For now, he concentrated on the figure standing behind the bar, a stocky man in his fifties. His back was turned to Mulder as he arranged the bottles on the shelves behind the bar. Hearing the door, he turned around.
"We're closed, pal."
"I know. I'm Special Agent Mulder with the FBI, and I'm looking into the murders you seem to be having. I'm looking for one of the witnesses in the most recent killing... one Joseph Dawson."
"I'm Joe. I wasn't aware that this had become a federal case." He frowned as he watched the man walk toward the bar. He reached beneath the counter to pick up a towel to wipe the countertop.
"The police haven't requested federal assistance yet. I'm looking into the case in an unofficial capacity as a favor. Do you have a problem with that?"
"No. But I'm afraid you're wasting your time. Like I told the police, I didn't see anything until after the body was found, by a couple of friends of mine, actually. I was in here, and I didn't hear anything outside. But, I'm not surprised. The alley's pretty deserted, and it was kinda loud in here."
Mulder watching the older man wipe the countertop when he noticed something that made his breath catch. Dawson's shirt sleeve was pulled back, and on the inside of his left wrist was something he had not seen for a while now. A tattoo that looked a lot like a Mercedes Benz symbol. He suddenly recalled the name of one of the people who had actually found the last body... Duncan MacLeod! He had wondered at the coincidence when he first read the report. And Dawson had just called MacLeod his friend. On a hunch, he asked, "Are you MacLeod's Watcher?" He couldn't hold back a smile when he saw Dawson stop wiping the counter and look up at him in surprise.
"I think I'm going to have to ask to see your ID, Mr. Mulder," he said, his eyes narrowing.
When Mulder fished it out of his pocket and showed it to him, Joe Dawson looked at it intently. The name seemed familiar, but he couldn't quite place it. His thoughts ran back to some of the reports he had read in the past month. Although he frequently made trips to Paris to keep tabs on Duncan, he still kept abreast of any news back home. And the name 'Fox Mulder' rang a bell. He frowned as he tried to recall where he'd read it... something about a rash of murders of young children along the east coast. Young immortals, he amended as he finally remembered the details of that one particularly gruesome report. "Jonathan Summers," he whispered. "You're one of the people who caught him, aren't you?"
"Caught is a relative term, Mr. Dawson." Mulder couldn't help a wry grin as he remembered how they had finally caught the man. "Unfortunately, before we could arrest him, he decided to get a severe case of missing neck syndrome."
"I've never heard it put quite that way before." Joe gave Mulder a small smile before turning serious. "I'm not sure how much you know, Agent Mulder, but, like Mary Rogers told you, it really is none of your business. And, as I told you earlier, I can't help you with these murders either."
Mulder sighed as he looked at his watch. Dawson was right, he didn't think he would get any more answers here, at least not relating to the vampire killings anyway. Besides, it was almost time for that appointment at MacLeod's anyway. He thanked Joe Dawson and turned to leave.
Joe looked at Mulder until he walked out the door, then reached over for the phone and dialed a familiar number.
|Futures Past 03:
My Funny Valentine
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