|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.
See Part One
Natalie Lambert's car, en route to DeSalvo's Gym
Dana Scully sat in the passenger seat, looking out the window at the scenery. But the sight didn't really register in her mind. Until now, she had kept herself busy by talking with her friends about college and their lives since then. After listening to Anne and Nat talk about what they had been doing since med school, she told them about joining the FBI Academy, teaching and eventually joining Mulder on the X-files. She had glossed over some of the more bizarre elements of some of the cases she had been involved in, but she had managed to spend the entire afternoon without a single thought about what she and Mulder had discussed with Nat in the morgue.
Now, after saying goodbye to Anne and promising to come by her house the next day for dinner, she and Natalie were on their way to MacLeod's dojo. However, she couldn't help feeling a sense of dread at the meeting. For some reason, seeing MacLeod, an immortal who was going to be her teacher, seemed like another brick being cemented on a wall that already existed between her and Mulder.
She thought about what her mother had asked her to do just two days ago. When she asked Dana if she loved Mulder, she hadn't answered her, but her heart had screamed her assent. The only obstacles standing in her way had been the Bureau's unwritten policy prohibiting relationships among partners, and more importantly, Mulder's reaction if she told him. She couldn't care less about the Bureau, but she didn't know if she could cope as easily if Mulder didn't feel the same way about her. She didn't want to destroy the best friendship she had ever had in hopes of gaining something she was so unsure of.
And now, there was one more reason for Mulder to not want to pursue a relationship with her. She didn't know how he felt about what Natalie had told them that morning in the morgue. He'd left after lunch with some hasty excuse about wanting to avoid all the girltalk and wanting to check out the crime scenes. But she got the distinct impression that he wanted some time alone to sort through this information and how it would affect their partnership, and their friendship. And although she thought she could have come to terms with it if he didn't feel the same way about her, she did not want him to resent her because of what Natalie had said. Even if he did have feelings for her before, she wasn't sure that he wouldn't come to hate her for not being able to grow old with him. The thought itself was a daunting one... eternal youth, immortality. She had thought about it before, but then it had seemed a fantasy, an idea. Now it was a fact, as real as her cancer had been, as real as the subsequent cure.
She briefly wondered if such a thing was even possible, a relationship between an immortal and a mortal. From what Natalie had said, immortals had been around for a couple of millennia at the very least. Surely something like this could not have been unheard of in all that time. She desperately wanted to ask Nat about this, but she didn't know how to go about doing so without revealing her feelings for Mulder at the same time. But, as she considered it, a thought suddenly occurred to her. Turning to her friend, she asked, "Nat?" She saw her answer with a quick glance before turning her attention back to the road. "You said that immortals have hidden their existence throughout history. Do you know why? I mean, why all the secrecy?"
Natalie was silent for a few minutes as she thought about how best to answer Dana. "Duncan told me several horror stories about witch hunts he witnessed, back when that sort of thing was commonplace. Although he himself was lucky enough not to become the object of these hunts, he lost some good friends to them. Today, there is even more danger, if word of our existence were to become common knowledge. Think about it, Dana. Those tests you said you performed on yourself... they weren't all that pleasant to endure, but at least you had a choice in conducting them. Can you imagine the kind of experiments we'd be subjected to if the government or the general public got wind of us." She trailed off when she saw the knowing look on her friend's face. "Something tells me you already know about the kinds of horrors we face."
Dana nodded. With a sigh, she replied, "In my line of work, I've seen and heard of more acts of atrocity committed by supposedly benevolent governments than you could possibly imagine. I've heard of experiments that would be immoral, unethical, and inhumane if performed on immortals, let alone the mortals they actually were conducted on. I, myself, have..." She stopped, not wanting to divulge what she feared had been done to her, not even to her close friend. According to Natalie, immortality was a natural process, another path in the inevitable course of evolution. But Dana suspected strongly that her immortality was anything but natural. She had no doubt that she had been given this condition... curse was probably a more appropriate term... by the same people who had abducted her nearly three and a half years ago, and stolen almost three months of her life.
When she saw that her friend had grown unusually quiet, Natalie prodded, "What are you thinking about, Dana? Why are we talking about this?"
Dana looked at her friend as she realized with a start that she'd gotten off the track from what she had really wanted to ask. "Well, it's just that, if immortality is such a secret, I was wondering why you told Mulder about it. I mean, you could just as easily have warded off his questions and talked to me alone later."
Natalie smiled at the question. "You were always the most perceptive one of us, Dana. You and Mulder make a good team. Actually, there are a couple of reasons why I included him in our discussion. Although I said that we liked to keep our existence a secret, there have been certain non-immortals whom we have confided in through the centuries... close friends, spouses, lovers... people we could trust to keep our secret. You do trust Mulder, don't you, Dana?" She saw her friend nod and answer in a hushed but determined voice, "With my life."
"Nick, the friend I told you was with me and Duncan when I woke up, he found out because he was there when it happened. But, even otherwise, I would have told him. You see, I trust him as much as you do Mulder... and I also love him," she finished quietly. Catching her friend's glance, she blushed, "I didn't think it would be so hard to tell him. I just wish I could have gotten the courage to say that to him face to face a long time ago."
Dana smiled at that. And here, she thought she was the one having trouble expressing her feelings. It seemed that hiding one's true feelings was a universal trait. "So there have been other immortal-mortal couples before?" Now that Natalie had brought the subject up, it seemed like a safe question to ask.
When Natalie heard this, however, she gave herself a silent pat on the back. She had suspected that this was where this entire conversation had been headed from the beginning. It was obvious that Dana was dying to ask this question, although she tried to hide it behind an air of simple curiosity. And if she had to admit her feelings for Nick in order to get Dana to open up, well, it was the least she could do. Dana seemed more in denial than she herself had been. She had already confessed her feelings for Nick a while back. But looking back a year or so, she could easily picture herself in Dana's shoes. She'd had the same fears, the same doubts. In answer to her question, Natalie nodded, "Yup. As long as there have been immortals."
"But what about the differences? One ages while the other stays eternally young. Doesn't the mortal ever resent it that he... or she... will grow old and die while the other will eventually move on?"
"Dana...," Natalie replied quietly, "sometimes that's exactly what happens. Some mortals can't handle it. But others can. If it's true love, he can... he will look past the differences to see the person behind the immortal, the real you. You'll never know until you tell him, trust me on this one." Although, you won't have to worry about that if what I suspect is true, she added silently.
Dana nodded, looking down at her lap as she tried to process this. Suddenly she realized something about the way Nat had said that last part, as if she were directing the comment right at her. Nah! I'm not that transparent, am I? She refused to consider that thought. What her friend had told her was simply what she herself had gone through, and was in no way meant as advice. Instead, she said, "You mentioned a couple of reasons you decided to tell Mulder?"
Natalie shook her head. God, Dana. You're even more stubborn than I was. Aloud she said, "Yes, I did, didn't I? And the other reason, I'm 99.9% sure of. But I want to talk to Duncan, and have Mulder meet him, or rather have Duncan meet Mulder, before I tell you." She slowed down, pointing through the windshield. "We're here," she said, stopping the car.
The stillness inside the dojo was interrupted by the swish of the staff as it sliced through the air. Standing in the center of the room, Duncan MacLeod performed an exercise he'd done a hundred times before as he thought about the phone call he'd received from Joe less than a half hour ago. If a federal agent knew of immortals and Watchers, he could only guess at the kind of trouble he could stir up. He doubted that this Fox Mulder Joe had mentioned was an immortal. According to the Watchers, he wasn't... they had no records on him. Still there was the possibility that he was a new one, someone the Watchers hadn't managed to catch on to yet. But how had he found out about them?
He mentally reviewed what Joe had told him about the case in DC. Apparently, an immortal had gone mad and had begun butchering children... pre-immortals... along the east coast. He had finally been stopped in DC by a couple of federal agents, one of whom was this Fox Mulder. Unfortunately, before they could do so, he had managed to kill his Watcher, so now they had no idea exactly what had happened. The one thing that they were sure of was that the immortal had not been beheaded. His death was an accident... apparently he'd fallen out a window and impaled his neck on an iron spike, killing him instantly. The only witnesses, the two federal agents, hadn't mentioned anything untoward in their report, as far as the Watcher contacts in the FBI could make out. And Joe had warned him that he could expect a visit from said agent in the near future...
He stopped his exercise when he felt their presence, two of them, and swung around to face the door . He waited for whoever it was to walk into the dojo. When he saw who it was, his face broke into a smile. "Natalie! It's good to see you. Nick called to say you might be coming by. He said he'd be over as soon as... umm... weather permits." He saw her nod, then paused when he saw her companion looking at him nervously. He raised a questioning look at Natalie.
"Dana Scully, meet Duncan MacLeod. Duncan, Dana."
Duncan's eyes widened when he heard the redhead's name. Now that sounds really familiar, he thought. Hadn't Joe mentioned... "You don't, by any chance, happen to work for the FBI, do you?"
Now it was Dana's turn to be surprised. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. How'd you know?"
Duncan smiled and motioned them towards the back of the dojo. "I just got a call from a friend who said that your partner was there asking some uncomfortable questions about immortals. We were wondering how he knew so much about us. I guess that's one mystery solved," he said as they walked toward the elevator.
"Yup, that's Mulder alright. Actually, he's supposed to be here any minute now. I wonder what's keeping him," Dana replied just as they heard a car pull up outside. "That's probably him now."
While they waited for Mulder to come in, Natalie asked, "Duncan, how long are you planning on staying in Seattle?"
"For a while. Why?"
"Because Dana here is a new immortal. I've told her most of the basics, but I was wondering..."
"... if I would teach her," he finished. "I would be happy to take you on as a student, Dana, if that's what you want."
"I...," Dana began, but was interrupted by Natalie, "She wants! And, I want you to meet her partner and tell me if what I suspect is correct." Dana looked at her friend in confusion, but before she could ask what she meant, she saw the dojo doors open and her partner walk in.
"Sorry I'm late," Mulder said, walking up to the trio. "Scully, Natalie," he nodded at the women, then extended his hand towards Duncan. "You must be Duncan MacLeod. I'm Fox Mulder."
"Pleased to meet you Mr. Mulder."
"Please, Mulder. Every time I hear Mr. Mulder, I expect to see my father standing behind me."
"Okay," Duncan smiled, "Mulder." His eyes widened as he shook Mulder's hand. He looked over at Natalie and nodded in silent confirmation.
Dana noted this silent exchange, but decided not to pursue it when Nat laid a hand on her wrist, mouthing a quiet "Later" at her. They got into the elevator and moved upstairs.
Once they were settled into the living room, Natalie asked something that had been bugging her since that morning, "Duncan, did you know that there's a group of mortals that knows about us and records our activities? Mulder was telling me about them earlier today. That's how he found out about immortals... from some of the accounts they left behind." Her eyes narrowed when she heard him sigh. "You knew? And you didn't tell me?"
"It wasn't my secret to tell, Nat. You, of all people, should know how that works. Besides, they never interfere in our affairs, only record them. Imagine what they've seen, Nat. A record of history as it happened, written down with first hand knowledge by mortals who were there when it happened. An objective record for future generations, long after most of us are dead, something to preserve our memory. Personally, I think that what they do is important. And I would appreciate it if none of you talked about this to anyone else." He saw each of them grudgingly nod. "Now that that's settled," he went on cheerfully, "what say we find a sword for you, Dana." He got up and walked over to the chest that lay against the far wall.
"Already?" Dana protested. "But it's so soon."
"You have to start training as soon as possible. It's already been too long. Natalie told you about the rules of the game, didn't she? Imagine what your chances would have been with that immortal you faced last month if it had been a fair fight. That you won was sheer accident, and not something that's likely to ever happen again."
"Last month? How'd you know about that? We didn't mention anything about the quickening in the report, which, by the way, is confidential government property. How'd you gain access to it anyway?"
"I have my sources," MacLeod shrugged. "Besides, hearing about how he died and seeing as how you were on the scene, it wasn't that hard to put two and two together." He saw Mulder and Scully walk over to where he knelt, rummaging through the impressive array of weapons he kept in the chest. Pushing aside most of the swords, spears, staffs and other weapons that lay in there, he reached for one sword that lay to the side. Grasping it, he felt around near the corner of the chest and brought out a strange looking clip, with a hook and a circular grip attached to it. Turning to Scully, he asked, "I assume your coat has an inner pocket?" When she nodded, he asked her to put it on and hold it open. Reaching into it, he placed the clip on the pocket and then gently slid the sword into the grip. "You can use that to hold your sword for now. Later, if you want, you can have a permanent scabbard sewn in." He watched her pull the coat closed, then stepped back to give her a once over. What he saw made him smile.
"Scully," Mulder smirked, "I really don't think that sword's the one for you." His smirk widened into a full fledged grin as he pointed towards her feet. She looked down and saw the tip of the sword sticking out of the bottom of her coat.
"Just as I thought. Even that one's way too long. Here, try this one," he said, reaching into the chest to pull out another sword. "It's one of my shortest ones. I hear it once belonged to Joan of Arc." He laughed when he saw her eyes widen at hearing the former owner's name.
Dana gulped as she realized what she held in her hand, a true piece of history. "I can't take this, Duncan. It's much too valuable. It belongs in a museum somewhere."
"Relax Dana. If all such swords belonged in museums, then no immortal would have one. It's nearly impossible to find one of us who has a sword newer than a couple of centuries. Besides, it's not like you have much in the way of choice here. It's either this one, or the axe," he said, pointing to one of the monstrous looking battle axes lying in the chest. "It's a lot shorter, but I doubt you could even heft it, let alone fight with it. Consider it a gift, a beautiful sword for a beautiful lady."
Scully blushed as she gingerly placed the sword inside her coat. She closed it and looked at herself in the full length mirror next to the chest. Amazing, she thought. It's totally invisible. If I hadn't actually put it there myself, there's no way I'd believe there was a sword inside. "Thank you, Duncan," she said, opening her coat to look at it again. "It's beautiful."
"You're welcome. Just be careful when sitting down," he warned. "Take it from a guy with experience. It is not pleasant to have three feet of steel go through your thigh just when you're sitting down for dinner." That brought a chuckle from all three of his guests. "And beware of metal detectors," he added.
"Well, that's one advantage of being in the FBI, I guess," Mulder said. "Most places, we just go around the detectors." When he saw Natalie's questioning look, he explained, "It's against Bureau regulations for an agent to be separated from his weapon. So usually we just flash our badges and bypass the detectors to avoid the hassle." Mulder paused, thinking about it for a moment. "Hey, MacLeod? What do you do when you have to go through the detectors?"
"Like I said, I try to avoid them whenever possible," he shrugged. "On plane trips, I sometimes check my sword in as an antique. It certainly qualifies as one, and I am a licensed dealer. Most other places... well, there are always ways around them."
Mulder simply nodded, not sure if he wanted to know these ways. He walked over to one of the shelves next to the kitchen alcove, looking at the pictures. He stopped when he reached a familiar one. "Hey, you know Anne?" The photo showed Duncan with his arms around Dr. Lindsey, holding a baby in her arms. He turned to see both Scully and Natalie staring at Duncan in surprise.
"Yeah. We used to go out a couple of years ago. How do you know her?"
"Actually, I only met her today," Mulder confessed. "Apparently, she, Scully, and Natalie went to college together."
"Hmm... small world. When she told me she'd invited a couple of college friends to Seattle, I didn't expect this."
"Tell me about it." Mulder picked up the photo. "Cute kid," he remarked. "Yours?" he asked MacLeod.
A look of surprise flashed across Duncan's face as he glanced at Natalie. "You didn't tell them?"
"It never came up," Natalie shrugged, a pained expression settling in her eyes. Actually, she had been dreading this part of the immortality explanation. When Duncan had told her two years ago that she couldn't have children, it was as if a part of her had died. She had always known that pursuing a relationship with Nick would preclude any children of their own. But there had at least been the possibility... She didn't know how she could have explained that to one of her best friends.
"No, Mulder. The baby's not mine. I... we... can't have children." He glanced from Mulder to Dana as he said this, watching for the usual reaction. He was surprised when, instead of the expected look of disbelief and denial, she simply nodded silently, almost as if she had already accepted this. "Immortals don't have natural families... we never have. Every single one is an orphan or foundling. No parents, no siblings... and no children. I'm so sorry, Dana... but, you already seem to know about this?" He watched as Mulder glanced at her questioningly. He saw Dana shake her head silently, and him nod back in reply.
"It's kinda hard to miss that when you have to get annual physicals in our line of work," Mulder explained.
MacLeod realized that that was not what Mulder had originally intended to say. Besides, physicals didn't check for that kind of thing, did they? He was slightly amazed at the partners' ability to hold an entire conversation without speaking a single word. Such true partners in thought and spirit were rare indeed, and, for a moment, he envied them their closeness. But he decided not to press the issue any further. Whatever it was, it was obviously deeply personal, and the conversation was already taking a decidedly uncomfortable turn. Deciding to change the subject, he asked them how long they planned to stay in Seattle.
"We're currently on vacation for two, maybe three weeks," Mulder replied, "but, if Scully needs to stay here longer for her training, I'm sure we can extend our stay by a couple more weeks."
MacLeod shook his head. "Sword fighting is not something you can pick up like learning to follow a recipe, Mulder." Turning to Dana, he said, "A month is not nearly enough time to teach you what you need to know, Dana. You will be at a severe disadvantage if you don't stay longer. It takes years to become really proficient with a sword."
Mulder watched in horror as he saw his partner actually considering MacLeod's offer. This was it, he thought, his heart sinking. I won't even have the few years I thought I'd have with her. No, this can't be happening. Don't say yes, Scully, please, he silently pleaded. He closed his eyes, realizing that he wouldn't, couldn't in all conscience, stand in her way if she chose to stay. He opened his eyes again to see her look at MacLeod, then turn to look at him. Suddenly, he saw the dilemma resolving itself in her eyes. The sense of relief he felt when he heard her say, "No," was immeasurable. He let out a breath of relief as she continued, "No, Duncan. That's a very generous offer, but I can't stay. My work is too important. I have a life back home that I'm not prepared to leave just yet." Mulder smiled faintly upon hearing her words. Some life, Scully, being stuck with me and the X-files! Now that she had refused to leave him, he allowed himself the luxury of contemplating life without her. And quickly came to the conclusion that it simply wouldn't be worth it.
MacLeod gave a sigh of resignation. "I didn't think so. Very well, I'll teach you as long as you can stay. When you get back to Washington, look up a friend of mine. He lives pretty close to DC, and he can train you the rest of the way. Here, let me get his address for you." He walked over and picked up an address book from the shelf, quickly scribbling down something from it onto a piece of paper before handing it to Scully.
She read the name on it and looked up at Duncan, a silent question in her eyes.
He smiled, "That's my great-granduncle, a couple of generations removed. Connor and I were from the same clan, as he would say, only different vintage. Both of us were adopted as foundlings. After I died the first time, he was the one who found me when I was cast out of my family. Everyone thought I was a demon, come back from the dead. Since then, he's been pretty much the only family I've ever had... father, brother, teacher... all rolled into one." He paused, letting the familiar yet painful memories fade away. The sound of the descending elevator brought his mind back to the present. As one, all four turned to see who their guest was.
"Nick!" Natalie bounded out of her seat as a tall blond man stepped out of the elevator. She gave him a hug and dragged him towards the others. "Guys, this is Nick. Nick, you know Duncan. These are Mulder and Dana. Dana is the other friend I was telling you about, and Mulder works with her." After a quick round of greetings, she turned to him. "Guess what? Anne invited us to dinner tomorrow night." She chuckled at the immediate expression of distaste that flickered across his face. Turning back to her friends, she said, "Well it's been great seeing you again, Dana, Duncan. You too, Mulder. But Nick and I have to go... ummm, run some errands. I'll see you tomorrow morning, Dana. Bye, guys." With that, she and Nick headed out.
"Tomorrow morning?" Dana asked when Natalie and Nick had left.
"Tomorrow morning," Duncan confirmed. "Like I said before, you need to start training as soon as possible. And that means a strict regimen of exercise and practice every morning. I want to see you here tomorrow morning at eight sharp."
"Eight?" Mulder whined. "But this is our vacation."
"Mulder, you're not coming with me," Dana retorted as soon as she heard his comment. Before he could begin to object, she continued in a softer voice, "Mulder, this is something I have to do. I don't know if I want to involve you in this."
"You know, Scully, I was fencing champ three years running when I was at Oxford. Besides, you'll need a sparring partner when we get back home."
"No," she said emphatically. "You could get hurt, Mulder. And, unlike me, you won't heal immediately." Her tone implied that she would brook no argument as she turned away from him, looking to Duncan for support.
When Mulder turned pleading eyes toward Duncan, he said, "Could you excuse us for a minute, Mulder?" With that, he motioned to Scully to follow him to the back of the room, out of Mulder's earshot.
Mulder watched in confusion as Scully followed MacLeod. A few moments later, he heard Scully exclaim, "What!... Are... are you sure?" He couldn't hear MacLeod's reply, but when they returned, he noticed that his partner couldn't stop staring at him. He looked from her to MacLeod questioningly.
"Looks like you'll need a sword too, Mulder," Duncan grinned at him. Together, they chose an elegant longsword for him. "Seems somewhat appropriate," he remarked as he watched Mulder heft the sword. "That particular blade belonged to Joan of Arc's Captain of the Guard during the Hundred Years' War."
Mulder turned to MacLeod in surprise. "Are you sure? About giving me this, I mean. I don't really need one like Scully does."
"Yeah. I'm sure, Mulder. And remember," he said watching Mulder place the sword in his coat, "tomorrow morning at eight sharp." He walked over to the elevator, escorting the partners out.
Mulder Residence, Seattle, WA
Tuesday, February 17, 1998
Mulder looked up from the notes laid out on the desk in front of him and stretched. He could hear the muscles groaning and his joints popping as he did so. He couldn't believe he was still sore from that morning's workout. He usually considered himself pretty fit, but the rigors of the workout put even Quantico to shame.
As promised, Scully and he had shown up at MacLeod's gym at eight on the dot. They had entered the dojo to be greeted by the sounds of metal striking metal. In the center of the room, MacLeod and Natalie had already begun practicing their swordplay. Although the two of them had expected this, actually witnessing the parlay of swords was something else altogether. They stopped for a moment to stare at the two people on the mat, then walked over to one of the benches and sat down to wait for the sparring to finish. As they watched, the movement of the swords seemed to get faster and faster, until they could hardly see the actual blades themselves. Only the intermittent ringing of the swords and the occasional sparks given off when the blades met gave any indication that the fight was still on. All of a sudden, both Duncan and Natalie stopped, their breaths slightly ragged. They saluted each other and separated, each reaching for a towel to wipe themselves.
MacLeod turned to face Mulder and Scully, "Ready to start? I hope you brought your swords," he grinned. When they nodded, he gestured them towards the mat he was standing on. "You won't need them yet," he said, indicating that they place their blades aside for the moment. He then led them and Natalie through a half hour of exercises, or katas, as he called them, before starting on the basics of swordplay. He went over various stances, moves, blocks, parries, and thrusts. The object, he told them, was not to master all of these in one sitting, but rather to become familiar with them as they put them into practice over the following weeks.
But, after two hours of intensive workout, Mulder could feel his arms growing numb from holding up his sword. The longsword, for all its grace and delicate beauty, was deceptively heavy, and he envied Scully her smaller, and much lighter, sword. The partners took turns sparring with MacLeod and Natalie, although their unfamiliarity with the weapons was woefully apparent, even to them. Mulder begged off during his turn with Natalie and walked over with her to one of the benches. He sat down next to her, wiping his sweating brow, and watched as Scully swung her short sword against Duncan's katana, so intent on the exercise that she didn't even see him watching her. He couldn't help noticing that, inexperienced though she was with the exercise, there was a certain fluidity in her movements, a certain grace. God, she's beautiful, he thought for what must surely have been the millionth time. The chuckle he heard made him tear his gaze away from the two opponents to the woman sitting beside him.
"You really have it bad for her, don't you?" Before he could voice his protest, she shook her head, "Don't bother denying it. You were staring at her the same way I used to stare at Nick."
He sighed as his shoulders slumped in defeat, accepting that there was no point in protesting any further. He usually managed to maintain a professional distance from his partner while at work, only allowing himself small concessions like an occasional hand at the small of her back, or a momentary stare from behind a mound of paperwork. He was sure that no one at the Bureau even suspected. But, off duty, when his guard was more relaxed, it seemed as if there was a giant radio antenna over his head, broadcasting his feelings for Scully for the whole world to know. Scully's mother had already picked up on it, and now Natalie had called him on it. If only Scully did, too, he thought, it would be so much easier. He grinned wryly. Wishful thinking. Which was why Natalie's next comment took him completely by surprise.
"You know, there have been many mortal-immortal couples through the centuries. Like I told Dana, you'll never know until you ask." She gave a small laugh when she saw his jaw drop. Getting up, she gestured to the mat again, and motioned for him to follow.
Mulder quickly dragged his jaw up from where it was scraping against the floor and got up to follow her, his thoughts racing around his head at a hundred miles an hour. She'd asked about mortal-immortal couples? His Scully? But that would mean... Suddenly, he was afraid to consider exactly what that would mean. And since when had he started thinking of her as His Scully anyway? He was deliriously happy that she'd asked, and deathly scared at the same time. Bringing his sword to bear, he tried half-heartedly to block Natalie's swing, but his mind refused to leave the subject. He was eminently grateful when MacLeod called the session to a close a few minutes later. He knew he had some serious thinking to do.
So why exactly was he trying to work on a profile of the killer instead? You know the answer to that, coward, screamed an inner voice. No, he answered unconvincingly, I'm just working on the case. This is what I came to Seattle for. Riiiight, and I'm also the tooth fairy, retorted the voice. He sighed as he tried once more to avoid the serious thinking he had promised himself that morning.
He looked down at the measly amount of information he'd actually managed to come up with, pushing his sore arms to move the pieces of paper they held. He was already starting to regret having offered to train with Scully. Although she had been as tired and sore after the workout as he was, all her soreness had disappeared in less than an hour, thanks to her accelerated healing. So now, while he had been stuck in the house all afternoon nursing his aching muscles, she was out getting the essentials for spending the next few weeks here.
He wondered briefly what she was doing at the moment. Would she be thinking about him? Why would she anyway? It wasn't as if he had anything to offer her. A lifetime of pain and loss, and later a burden as he grew older. But she asked Natalie about you know what, the voice interrupted him. Yes, she did, didn't she? he acknowledged. Surely, that indicated some interest. He sighed as he realized he would have to have a talk with his Scully soon... he smiled at his unconscious use of the possessive again. Before today, he hadn't thought she was the least bit interested, although what Mrs. Scully had said to him the week before still weighed on his mind. But now, the not knowing was slowly killing him. As soon as she gets back, he swore, deciding to stop worrying about it for now.
Trying to get his mind back on the work at hand, he concentrated on what information he did have on the killer. Obviously, he or she was strong enough to have thrown the latest victim a half dozen feet into the air, as evidenced by the blood stain on the alley wall, and thrown her hard enough to break her collarbone and several vertebrae. Also, the killer would have to be pretty quick and efficient for the crimes to go unnoticed while being committed. Granted the crime scenes were pretty secluded, but the fact that there hadn't been even one report of any kind of disturbance or activity in the area was a little too coincidental for his tastes, especially considering the increasing number of such attacks. Surely someone would have seen or heard something out of the ordinary... there had been a bar full of people less than a hundred yards away from the last crime scene, for crying out loud. The profile went on to list several other possible descriptions of the killer, but there was no discernible pattern to the attacks, nor were there any connections between the murder victims or the ones who disappeared. The two sets of crimes were obviously related, if only because several of the murders and disappearances occurred together, but Mulder couldn't figure out any further connections between the two. And there was one aspect of the crime scenes themselves that had been bothering him from the beginning. Many of the victims were attacked in the middle of long alleyways, several of which deadended on one side. He couldn't see how the killer had gotten close to the victims without their noticing him or her. There were no windows or doorways in most of the alleys to hide a cat, let alone a human being.
He sighed as he realized that he was going around in circles. And he also noticed that the reason for that was not only the absence of clues, but also a certain redhead that kept popping into his head every few minutes. When he heard the front door, he thought, not without a little apprehension, Well, she's back. No sense in delaying now. He reluctantly pushed the notes away and glanced at his watch. Whoops, he hadn't realized it was already this late. No time to talk now. He would have to start getting dressed now if he wanted to be on time for dinner at Anne's, he thought with... was that a sigh of relief? What exactly was he afraid of... Rejection, he supplied the answer automatically, She'll hate me, she'll leave me, we'll lose our friendship... He stopped himself before he spent the whole night adding to the list, and got up to get ready.
Dr. Anne Lindsey's residence
Dana Scully stepped up to the door and knocked. While she waited, she looked at the man standing next to her. The sun was just setting and the last rays caught his angular face, highlighting it in profile, and reminding her once again just why she was so in love with him. Apart from his loyalty, his intelligence, his faith and trust in her, all of which she cherished more than anything, there was also the small... small, but definitely not unnoticeable, she thought with a smile... fact that Fox Mulder was beautiful. Yes, she definitely was in love, she acknowledged, surprised that she was doing so freely, even if only to herself.
She let her mind wander back to the events of the last two days. Her whole life had changed, inescapably, and she didn't know yet whether it was for the better or for the worse. When she realized the implications of her immortality, she'd tried to ask Natalie about the possibility of someone like her, an immortal, having a chance at a relationship with a mortal, camouflaging her interest as best as she could. And although her friend's answer about such a relationship being not only possible, but also common among immortals, came as a pleasant surprise, nothing could have shocked her more than what Duncan had revealed to her the night before. At least it explained the strange tingles she always got when she was near Mulder. She looked back at her partner standing silently beside her, and thought with a start that he had always been there for her, always more than just a partner. He was a friend... her best friend, she amended... and also something more than that. Not lovers, not yet anyway, but still something almost as special. And, if only she had the courage to tell him how she felt, there was a chance he would be there for her... beside her... in the future as well. If he felt the same way about her, that is.
She had spent the entire day trying to do just that, work up the courage to tell him. As soon as they had finished their workout that morning and gotten back to Mulder's place, she had mumbled some excuse about having to get provisions to stock the fridge, not that it wasn't already, and had hastily left. She could see that he was still sore from the morning exertions, and knew that he wouldn't try to come with her. She needed the time alone, to think about what she was going to say to him. But, by the time six o'clock had rolled around, she was still nowhere near a decision about what she would say, and it was already time for dinner at Anne's. After dinner, she'd promised herself and had headed back.
Mulder caught her staring at him, and returned her gaze with a slight smile. Their eyes locked for a moment, and held each other captive. He didn't know what he saw in her eyes, but for a second, it unnerved him. However, before he could think about the possible meaning of the depth of feeling he had seen in them, they both heard the door open.
"Hi, Dana, Mulder, come on in." Anne stepped back to let the two of them through. "Nat just called to say that she and Nick would be here in a few minutes, so why don't you two make yourselves comfortable in the living room while I take your coats." She saw both of them hesitate just a little bit before handing over their coats, then head off in the direction she indicated.
They had just seated themselves on the couch in the living room when they heard the giggles. The soft sound caused them to jerk their heads around. It took them a while to find the new arrival. Hiding behind a door, a small head peeked out and the soft, merry sound was heard again.
"I didn't realize she was up again." Anne's voice made them turn back towards her. They watched as she walked over to the door and picked the pajama clad little girl. "Did mommy's little princess have a bad dream?" she crooned as she brought her over to the couple on the couch. "Mary, do you want to say hello to Aunt Dana?"
"She's beautiful, Anne," Dana said, reaching out to clasp the girl's little hands in her own.
"My pride and joy," Anne beamed, handing the child over to her friend. "She turned two just a couple of weeks ago."
Mulder watched as Scully gently placed Mary on her lap. Seeing her play with the little girl, he thought, as he'd thought a hundred times before, what a wonderful mother she would make. He sighed as he realized the impossibility of that dream now. Glancing up from the sight to look above the fireplace, he saw a row of pictures showing Mary at various stages in her life. Anne was in several of them, and MacLeod was in a couple as well. In fact, he saw a copy of the one he had seen at the dojo at the far corner of the mantel. He was shaken from his reverie by the knock on the front door and the simultaneous gasp from his partner.
"That's probably Nat now," Anne remarked, looking at Dana questioningly. The slight gasp hadn't escaped her notice. Just as she got up she heard the kitchen timer. Seeing that Dana had her hands full with Mary, she turned to Mulder. "Could you get the door while I go check on dinner?"
When she got back, she smiled when she saw that Mary's charm had enraptured her two new guests as well. "Hi, Nat. You're just in time. Dinner will be ready in a few minutes." She walked over to the new arrivals and introduced herself to Nick. Seeing Mary yawning again, she excused herself to put the little girl back in bed, then came back to sit down and chat with her friends.
A few minutes later, Mulder watched as Anne went to get dinner ready, and Scully followed her into the kitchen. Getting up to offer his help, he noticed Natalie looking at the pictures over the fireplace, a look of sadness on her face. She seemed particularly taken with the picture they had seen at MacLeod's. Her hand brushed it as she turned away to head into the kitchen. Mulder saw the picture wobble a bit as it lost its precarious balance on the shelf and tilted over the edge. Before he could reach it, however, he saw that Nick was already there. Funny, he wasn't there a moment ago. With a movement faster than his eye could follow, the picture was back on the mantel, as if it had never moved. He saw Nick finger the picture with the same sadness Nat had shown. "Nice reflexes," he said, and saw Nick act slightly startled at the comment. He turned to Mulder and smiled as the two of them followed the women.
Mulder leaned back on the couch with a satisfied smile on his face. Dinner had been excellent. He realized with a start that the only other times he'd eaten this well were the times he ate at Scully's or her mother's. One more thing to add to the 'List of advantages to a relationship with Scully', he thought, smiling.
Everyone had commented on Anne's excellent cooking, even Nick. But Mulder noticed that he seemed to eat the least of all of them. And what little he did have on his plate, Mulder saw him deftly hide in his napkin when he thought no one was looking. He smiled when Natalie caught him once. Nick simply returned her glare with a small shrug. Poor guy, Mulder thought, he's really not enjoying himself. He could see no reason for it though. The food really was very good.
After dinner, they adjourned to the living room. The conversation eventually turned to the recent crimes. Although Mulder had his own theory about it, and he suspected that Natalie did as well, neither of them mentioned anything about it. So the general consensus was just what Anne herself had concluded. There was no apparent motive, and the condition of the bodies was just some sort of perverse act on the part of the killer.
When it was finally time to go home, they said their goodbyes and headed out. Mulder saw Nick and Natalie head towards their car, then turned to follow Scully down the path to his house. He had been surprised at how close Anne lived, but had enjoyed the walk over to her place earlier. "Nice night for a walk," he heard his partner say, just as he felt her place her arm lightly on his. He was about to agree with her when he caught the look in her eyes. His breath caught in his throat as he recognized the same look in them that he'd seen earlier. And it unnerved him no less now than it had then. Suddenly he felt his courage slipping. He swallowed hard, then croaked out, "Why don't you head on home? I want to ask Natalie something really quick. I'll catch up with you in a minute." Before she could protest, he turned and headed back the way Scully's friend had gone, silently cursing himself for being a hundred kinds of fool, and a thousand kinds of coward.
Scully looked at the retreating form of her partner and screamed silently in frustration. Damn him. Just when she'd finally managed to work up the courage to even approach the topic. She had seen the look in his eyes, and the fear, the doubt, in them was obvious. She had no illusions that he would catch up with her as he'd promised. What are you so afraid of, Mulder? she asked silently, not realizing the irony of the situation. Until a few hours ago, she'd had the same fears he was now having. She sighed and turned to follow the path back to Mulder's house.
"You never told me how your night went yesterday," Natalie said as they headed towards their car. "Find anything interesting?"
"Not a thing. Hopefully, something will turn up tonight though. But I did run into someone," Nick replied, pausing for effect. When he saw Natalie's questioning glance, he continued, "Did you know LaCroix was in town?" Seeing her look of surprise, he smiled. "My reaction exactly."
"I didn't think he ever left Toronto. What's he doing here, anyway?"
"Same thing we are. Trying to find the rogue vampire or vampires. Exposure of this kind is not good for the community, and he's understandably concerned. So, when he was informed of the killings by some friend of his, he decided to come and take a look for himself."
"He has friends?" Natalie asked mischievously.
"Oh, come on, Nat. The guy's almost 2000 years old. Give him some credit," Nick said, then shrugged. "Although, he does seem to have mellowed out somewhat in the past couple of years."
"And I'm sure it has nothing whatsoever to do with my becoming immortal," she responded sarcastically. "I think he just figures you'll give up your search for a cure because of me."
Nick sighed. "You're probably right, Nat," he acknowledged as they reached the car. Walking Natalie around to the driver's side, he added quietly, "Although, I now have a gift even more precious than any cure." He leaned in to give her a kiss. "I have you."
That was the scene that greeted Fox Mulder as he stepped up to the tree next to the sidewalk. He saw the couple's heads above the roof of their car less than a hundred yards away, locked together in a passionate kiss. He quickly moved back into the shadows, allowing the two of them a moment of privacy. He could easily picture himself and Scully in their place, and bitterly regretted rushing off like he had. Well, he consoled himself, at least I do have some genuine questions for Natalie about the murders, although he knew they weren't anything that couldn't have waited till the next day.
He leaned forward to see if it was safe to come out. He saw Nat looking up at Nick when something struck him. Wait a minute, weren't they about the same height? He looked on incredulously as Nick slowly appeared to grow taller. No, he realized with a start, not taller! He watched as Nick's body rose above the car and launched itself into the sky. Before he could think rationally enough to remember to close his gaping mouth, he saw Natalie get into her car and drive away.
He stumbled back to lean on the comforting solidity of the tree. Swallowing heavily, he waited for the pounding in his chest to quiet down. Suddenly, several things began to make sense to him. He remembered that he'd never seen Nick before sunset. And tonight's events in particular... he recalled the other's apparently quick reflexes, his aversion to the food... the realization hit him like a ton of bricks. Nicholas Knight was a real, honest-to-goodness, blood sucking, cross fearing vampire. Well, he had no proof of the last one, he amended, and he had seen Nick force down a couple of bites during dinner, although Nick had made it seem more like torture than food. But now, he felt several missing pieces in his profile slowly fall into place. That was how the killer had gotten to the victims so easily. He'd been looking for possible entry points into the alleys, totally dismissing the most obvious ones, namely the adjacent rooftops. It had simply never even occurred to him. And I thought I was open to extreme possibilities, he berated himself. He briefly considered the idea that Nat's boyfriend was the killer, but discarded it just as quickly. The crimes had been going on for over a month, and he had a hard time picturing the good detective making five hour flights to feed when the round trip alone would surely take up most of the night.
He smiled as he realized that he'd unconsciously made assumptions about vampire flight speeds without any previous frame of reference. But he doubted that a vampire could outrun, or rather, outfly a plane, so Nick still wasn't a suspect. He pushed himself away from the tree and started walking down the sidewalk.
This new piece of information opened up so many possibilities, and not just related to this case either. His mind reeled at the implications. Actual, definitive proof of vampires, finally, and one of them a homicide detective no less. What is it with vampires and law enforcement anyway? He recalled that Sheriff 'Buck Tooth' from their last case had been a vampire as well. He'd managed to slip through Mulder's grasp, along with most of the trailer park occupants. Not this time, not again, he promised himself. As long as Knight didn't know Mulder knew, he had the advantage of surprise. And he was going to milk that for all it was worth.
Mulder's thoughts ran in a hundred different directions at once, considering this new development from all possible angles. He barely noticed it when he passed first his house, then a couple more as he walked on, his hands stuffed in his pockets, lost in thought.
Rooftop above secluded alley
Wednesday, February 18, 1998
She softly landed on the roof and looked over the parapet at the man who had just passed by below her. It was so simple, she thought, watching her intended victim's movements. She was amazed that no others had thought of this before. As her master had said, the childe had to follow the one who brought them across.
Of course, he had only been a young fool, impatient to try out his newfound vampiric abilities. He'd unwittingly given her a gift, the bumbling idiot, a gift which she'd repaid with pleasure. She still smiled when she recalled the look on his face upon seeing the wooden stake jutting out of his chest. He had demanded her obedience, but hadn't the ability or the strength to enforce it. She, on the other hand, had learned all she could from him before killing him. And now, when she brought across her own children, she made sure to erase their memories and enforce her will onto their minds.
With the number of children she brought across increasing weekly, she had the beginnings of a small army. More than enough to protect her against any threat, mortal or vampire. She smiled at the thought. Queen... it had such a nice ring to it. Soon, she promised herself. Soon she would have the resources and the power to sway the world to her command. She would start out small... a town first, maybe even Seattle, then a state, then... But first, she had to see about bringing a new childe into the fold.
She watched as the man below her reached the middle of the alley. With a fluid movement, she vaulted the parapet and landed a few steps behind the unsuspecting mortal. He didn't give any indication that he'd heard her. She walked up to him and forcibly turned him to face her. The sudden cry was cut off before it could escape his lips. He simply stared at her, mesmerized by her glowing eyes and hypnotic voice. Pulling him down to his knees, she leaned forward to give him her kiss.
She could taste the salty sweat as her lips made contact. She was about to pierce the skin on his throat when she felt it. Two vampires, both of them pretty old, and very nearby. The man sagged to the ground limply as she released him and stood up, looking around warily. She had to get out of there before she was caught. Alone, she knew she was no match for even one vampire, let alone two. She had to get back home, where she could be protected by her children. She quickly jumped into the air and headed for the docks.
"So how was dinner, Nicholas?" The tall man smiled at Nick as he descended onto the rooftop beside him. "Manage to keep anything down this time?"
"Very funny, LaCroix," Nick muttered at the other's remark.
"Dr. Lambert certainly has you wrapped around her finger, doesn't she? Be careful, Nicholas. What will the community think of a henpecked vampire?"
"You're in rare form today, LaCroix. Is there some reason for your good mood?"
"My son has decided to give up his foolish quest for mortality. There are no dangers to the vampire community except for this little thorn of ours. The radio show is doing well. What more could one ask for? My only regret is your continuing abstainment from human blood. But, in time, that will pass as well." He shrugged, then took to the sky once again. "Come now, Nicholas. Stop dawdling."
Nick watched the older vampire fly away, then jumped up to follow him. Even after nearly 800 years, his mentor still managed to surprise him. He chuckled to himself. Whoever this friend of his was, LaCroix didn't seem as... lonely... as he usually did. Nick shook his head as they flew together in silence, following the agreed upon search pattern as they canvassed the city.
From time to time, Nick glanced at his companion, thinking of his unique nature, even among their kind. His thoughts flew back to when he'd first found out about LaCroix. It was just a few months after Natalie had been killed that first time. LaCroix had been out of the city during that time, and when he'd returned...
Nicholas Knight's Residence, Toronto, Canada
2 years ago
He was thinking about how much Natalie's sword skills had progressed in just a few months as he brought his own sword down to meet hers. She was still a little weak on some of the nuances, but he had no doubt that she would be an even match for him within the year. In fact, at the rate she was going, he would have been surprised if she couldn't best him by then.
All of a sudden, he watched as she froze, her sword against his, as she looked around warily. He'd seen that look numerous times before. It could mean only one thing... another immortal was nearby.
He put down his sword and turned to face the direction she was looking at. He couldn't tell which of the two were more surprised at the figure standing next to the window.
"Welcome to the immortal family, Dr. Lambert," he breathed in his usual quiet tone. "It's about time."
Nick looked to Natalie for confirmation. Sure enough, she nodded, a confused look on her face. LaCroix was the immortal she'd felt.
"You're an immortal?" she blurted, looking from Nick to LaCroix. "But how? It's impossible."
"Come, come, Dr. Lambert. You can say that after learning about vampires, about immortals? Surely you must have realized by now that nothing is impossible."
"You've never mentioned anything about this before, LaCroix," Nick asked.
"I didn't see any reason to do so, Nicholas. I try to stay out of the path of other immortals. Theirs is a stupid game, one which I have no desire to participate in. And my vampiric abilities provide me with more than adequate means to avoid it."
"But how..." Natalie asked again.
"One of nature's little ironies." He shrugged. "Bringing me across triggered my immortality, but not before I was changed. And the rest, as they say, is history." Turning to Nicholas, he asked, "How do you think I survived being burnt alive, the stake through my heart? You can't tell me you haven't wondered."
When Nick nodded, he continued, "When I returned to Toronto, I did not expect this. But, I suppose some good has come out of it. I shall take my leave now, Nicholas. Take care, Dr. Lambert."
He turned and left the way he came, leaving a very astonished couple in his wake. They had never seen LaCroix so amicable towards Natalie before.
Well, well, Nick mused, you see something new everyday. It certainly explained why LaCroix had never followed through on his threats on Natalie's life. He'd known there would have been no point.
And, Nick suspected, what Nat had said earlier was most probably true as well. LaCroix knew that Nick would never pursue mortality now that she herself was immortal. His thoughts were interrupted by the other's sudden cry.
Following his companion's sharp gaze, Nick saw what had caught his attention. In the alleyway below them, he saw a female vampire, bent over the body of a hapless man. They landed near her, but before they could approach her, she took off, sensing their approach. Nick prepared to follow the assailant when he felt his mentor's iron grip on his arm.
"Perhaps it would be better to follow her instead of trying to catch her. The high number of bodies suggests more than a single vampire. Maybe she can lead us to the rest."
Nick thought about this and reluctantly agreed. After checking to make sure that the victim was not seriously hurt, they took to the sky in pursuit. Unnoticed, they followed their quarry to a waterfront warehouse. They saw her enter the building, and landed outside, preparing to follow her in. They had barely taken two steps when they stopped, stunned by what they felt. Nick looked at LaCroix, and saw that the older vampire was as shaken as he was. They had expected maybe two or three more vampires in league with the one they had followed. But they had not expected this. The presence was like a brick wall, the feel of at least a dozen vampires in close proximity. The only other place they had felt something like this was inside LaCroix's bar. Vampires generally did not tend to gather in such large numbers. This was obviously a nest of sorts. Hastily, they stepped back to avoid their presence being noticed by those inside.
They looked at each other, each of them having reached the same conclusion. There was no way they were going to be able to handle so many at once. Deciding to return the next night with more reinforcements to back them up, they made a note of the location and took to the air to return home.
Abandoned warehouse, Pier 17
Wednesday, February 18, 1998
The Taurus pulled up next to the building and the lone occupant stepped out. His hazel eyes scoured the deserted surroundings. The sun had set almost half an hour ago, but the streetlights had yet to come on. He pulled out the FBI issue flashlight from the back of the car, and turned to walk to the warehouse entrance.
What the hell am I doing here? he asked himself, just as he'd done at least a dozen times over the past couple of hours. He reached the door set unobtrusively on the side wall, and pushing it open, he stepped through into the musty darkness. He flashed the light around, taking in the setting. At first glance, he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. It was just like all the other warehouses he'd been to in the past few hours, dank and uninviting. It looked like it hadn't been occupied for some time, not that he was expecting it to be any different from all the others.
This was the ninth such building he'd been to. He had no idea there were so many empty warehouses along the dock area. He had overheard Natalie mention something about the docks to Duncan that morning when they thought they were alone. As soon as they had seen him enter, however, they had immediately stopped their discussion. But Mulder could tell that Nick had found something on his nightly patrol, something related to the killer. And it had been the perfect excuse to...
He stopped himself, not wanting to think along those lines. When he'd finally come out of his reverie the night before, he had found himself more than a mile away from his house. Cursing his absentmindedness, he turned around to return back, only to find that Scully had already gone to sleep. He'd been slightly relieved at that, since he'd been dreading the conversation that would surely have ensued. And today, after the workout, he'd skipped out on her again to pursue the lead that Natalie had unwittingly dropped in his lap.
Now, as he looked around the musty warehouse, he realized that he had spent the whole day trying to avoid the inevitable. He'd promised himself that he would talk to her the night before. Now it was a day later, and he had yet to work up the nerve to even look her in the eye. But every time he thought about what his first words to her would be, he could feel his heart constricting in fear. Could she possibly love someone like him, with all his fears, his messed up emotions? Could she want... He sighed as he watched his flashlight flicker. Ah, screw it, he thought, giving the place a final once over just as the flashlight finally died. The warehouse could wait. He hadn't found anything in the previous ones, and he doubted this one would be any different. Besides, he knew he had to get this thing with Scully straightened out sooner or later. The comfort of not knowing how she felt, the safety in remaining in their thus far comfortable friendship, was rapidly being eclipsed by his need to finally get his feelings out into the open.
He gritted his teeth as he made his decision. Tonight! I'll tell her tonight, he swore. And if she doesn't feel the same way? an annoying part of his mind questioned. Then, he shouted at it, his heart wrenching in his chest. Then, I'll get down on my knees and beg her to stay, at least for a little while. I may be able to survive if she doesn't return my feelings, but I don't think I can live without her. He shuddered as he realized just how much he'd come to depend on her. When exactly had she gone from being the hated spy sent to discredit his work to the most amazing, and most important thing in his life? He sucked in a sudden breath as he realized what he'd just thought... the most important thing... What about Samantha? his mind screamed. No. Sam will always have a place in my heart. But the rest of his heart, he realized, he'd already given to Scully. Now it only remained for him to tell her how he felt, and pray that she would show him some mercy and not crush what was left of his heart. He let out his breath and turned around, walking towards the door with a hint of determination in his stride.
He never saw the dark stairway hidden in the far corner. Nor did he notice the faint glow of the pair of eyes that followed his every movement as he finally left the building.
Kevin Matthews watched with a touch of fear as the tall mortal walked out the door. What was he doing here? Surely no one could know where his mistress and his brothers lived? She had given him, all of them, specific instructions for just such an event. But he still wished she was here to take care of the problem. He had been brought across less than a week ago, and his memories of his previous life were still a little hazy. He did not feel confident in the least with regards to his newfound abilities, and he desperately hoped that he would not let his mistress down. She had taken care of him ever since he'd been... reborn, as she put it. But he still felt just a little scared of her. Whenever he would see the flash of anger in her eyes when one of them didn't obey her wishes to the letter, she truly frightened him. And he did not want to incur her wrath. He felt a shiver as he prepared to follow the intruder.
The man walked to his car and got in, giving the place a final once over. Not seeing anything, he started the car and pulled out of the area. Kevin launched into the sky behind it, following the car until he finally reached a residential neighborhood. He landed out of sight of the car and its occupant, and watched him get out and go into the house. When the door shut behind the mortal, Kevin moved forward, giving the house a thorough inspection. From what he could see through the windows, there were only two occupants in the entire house. That was good... the less people to deal with, the better. He still wasn't used to the killing, and he was glad that it would be kept to a minimum. He turned and headed back towards the docks. Now, he only had to find his mistress. She would take care of everything.
Mulder Residence, Seattle, WA
She looked up from the magazine she was reading when she heard the front door. The anger and frustration she'd been nursing the entire day fled, replaced instead by a sudden nervousness. Stop it, Dana. You were so confident yesterday. What happened to that stoic reserve? You can do this. She placed the magazine on the coffee table next to the couch and waited for him to appear. She could hear him in the hallway as he hung up his jacket. She kept her eye on the door, watching as he walked in.
She smiled in acknowledgement and watched as he strode past the couch and dropped into the armchair next to it. He reached for the remote and flipped on the television. She saw him flip through almost all the channels before finally giving up and turning it off. His eyes roamed the room, looking at every nook and cranny, everywhere except right at her. He gave a sudden smile as his eyes descended on the stereo. He threw down the remote and got up. Walking over, he turned on the radio. He turned and moved towards the couch. Silently, he bent over, and grasping her hands, he pulled her up.
"Mulder?" What in heaven's name was he doing?
"Shhh... Dance with me, Scully," he whispered softly. He held her as he moved in time to the slow music pouring out of the radio. They began with their bodies held slightly apart, but within minutes Scully found herself getting closer to him. Soon, her head was against his chest. Mulder moved their clasped hands up and placed them around his neck, then moved his own hands down and around her waist. Slowly they swayed as the music played on.
Scully closed her eyes and allowed herself to relax. She breathed in the lingering smell of his leather jacket, the spiciness of his aftershave, all combining into the slight scent that was uniquely Mulder. I could stay like this forever. She smiled into his chest at the thought.
He held her tightly against him as they danced. Her head rested comfortably in the hollow of his throat. He bent forward and took in a deep breath, taking in the unique Scully scent, the familiar smell of her shampoo, the slight perfume that she preferred. He smiled as he wondered exactly how to proceed. He was amazed that he'd had the courage to get this far, and was even more surprised that Scully hadn't kneed him in the groin yet.
"Mmmhmm," she answered in a hazy murmur. This whole situation seemed like a dream, one that she didn't want to wake up from.
"The guy you wanted the poster for."
"Oh, Jack. He was just the sheriff I was helping out with that case up in Maine. Why'd you ask, Mulder?" She smiled. "Jealous?"
Her eyes widened at his answer. She had expected a flippant denial, not this honest confirmation. She pulled back and looked up. She saw him staring down at her, his eyes filled with an intense expression.
He saw her pull back and look up at him. The look in her eyes was one he'd seen twice the day before. Both those times, the depth of that look had scared him. Now it seemed vaguely familiar. With a flash of recognition, he realized where he'd seen it before. In his own eyes, whenever he'd looked in the mirror, whenever he thought about her. Oh my god! How have I not noticed it before? Because you've always been so preoccupied with yourself, you dope, he answered himself. Suddenly he was certain... he leaned forward.
The look in his eyes... Oh, my god. She leaned up.
And the world shattered around them.
She felt the shards of glass hit her back, then felt herself being flung back, hitting hard against the wall. She could have sworn she heard something break. The last thing she saw before she lost consciousness was the form bending over Mulder. No...! her mind screamed as the darkness claimed her.
Mulder watched the entire scene unfold as if in slow motion. One moment he had been about to kiss... kiss...? Scully. The next, her face was suddenly replaced by... His eyes widened as he took in the glowing eyes and the gleaming fangs. The killer! But how...? He glanced at Scully in panic. But that was all he had time to do before she was upon him. His panic and fear and anger turned into mind numbing ecstasy, and his breath left him. He felt himself starting to fade from the lack of oxygen and knew at that moment that he was dying. Clyde Bruckman had been right, on both counts. Not exactly autoerotic asphyxiation, but close enough. Suddenly, all he could think about were the lost opportunities, the wasted chances. How many times had he almost confessed his feelings for his partner, but shied away at the last minute? All those missed moments, now lost forever. I thought we'd have so much time, Scully. I'm so sorry, his heart cried out as the world faded to black.
She opened her eyes and saw that the scene had not changed since she lost consciousness. The woman was still bent over Mulder, and it looked as if she was trying to kiss his neck. How long was I out? She pulled herself up and ran forward. Grasping the assailant by the shoulder, she jerked her back and threw her to the side. She was shocked at the jet of blood that spurted out of the two tiny puncture wounds on Mulder's neck. Jugular, her clinical mind supplied, even as she placed her hand on his throat, trying desperately to staunch the flow of blood.
For the second time that night, Scully felt herself pulled back and thrown away like a rag doll. Damn, but that woman was strong. She landed beside her coat that she'd draped over the couch. For once, she was glad she'd not bothered to put it up. She looked up and got the shock of her life. The woman was slowly advancing upon her, her eyes a fierce golden shade, her mouth open in a deadly rictus of pointed fangs, a trickle of blood flowing down her chin. Scully's fear vanished in a wave of anger as she realized whose blood it was. She reached behind her, feeling around inside her coat for the comfort of the leather holster. She pulled out her gun and fired at the oncoming intruder at point blank range. She watched with satisfaction as the woman staggered back, obviously hurt. But, she didn't fall.
What the hell! She just shrugged off a bullet that should have her pushing up daisies by now. Not even an immortal had that kind of staying power. She should know; something similar had happened to her not too long ago. But the attacker was barely even bleeding. She emptied the entire clip into her, but the only effect the bullets had was to push the woman back a little each time. Die, damn you. Die! Scully threw the now useless gun away as she remembered what else she had in her coat. She reached back in and pulled out the sword just as her opponent lunged forward with a snarl. She noticed with a grim smile the sudden scared expression that settled on the woman's face, moments before her body made contact with the gleaming blade. Scully watched with morbid fascination as the steel slid effortlessly through the woman's body.
She let go of the sword as momentum carried the impaled body past her. She dimly heard the scream and the thud as the body fell to the ground. At the same time her mind registered the sound of the front door opening, but the only thoughts that filled her mind now all had to do with Mulder. She ran towards him again, tearing off a piece of her shirt to use as a bandage. He was unconscious as she lifted his wrist. She stifled a pained gasp... his pulse was so weak, she could hardly feel it. Dammit, Mulder! Don't you die on me! She heard the people walking in, felt them, but paid them no attention. She desperately tried to recall her classes on CPR... five compresses, then a breath, then repeat. She performed the ritual a couple of times before she felt the hand on her shoulder.
Getting no answer to their knock, Natalie pushed open the door. When they heard the gunshots and the scream, all five of them rushed in.
"The living room," Nick shouted as he watched LaCroix heading towards it. The sight that greeted the group shocked them. Both Nick and LaCroix recognized their quarry from the night before, lying on the ground with a sword running through her. Less than a few feet away, a small redheaded woman was frantically pressing up and down on the chest of the prone figure lying next to her, interrupting the movements regularly with mouth to mouth.
LaCroix walked over to the female vampire, and pulling out the sword, looked into her eyes. "Tsk, tsk. Who was your master? Didn't he teach you even the basics of our society?" He swung the sword down, neatly severing the head from the body. He noticed that the body remained as it was. Ah, a young one. An older vampire would have disintegrated by now. No wonder. Children these days. He shook his head and turned to see Natalie and the other immortals look at his actions in shock. He shrugged as he watched Natalie walk over to the redhead and place a hand on her shoulder.
"Let it go, Dana. You remember what Duncan told you, right? He'll be fine. Don't worry."
"Nat, he's dying," Dana whispered with a sob.
"Then that's the way it has to be. You knew it would come down to this some time or the other. It was inevitable... it always is."
"Are you sure?" For the first time, she noticed the others in the room. She knew Duncan and Nick, but she didn't recognize the other two men, both of whom seemed to be staring intently at Mulder and her. She looked from Natalie to Duncan for confirmation. When they both nodded, she let out a sigh and stopped the CPR, pulling Mulder's body up and hugging it. She placed her chin next to his ear and whispered, "I hope to god they're right, Mulder. I don't know what I'd do if I lost you." She took in a shuddering breath. "I love you, Fox William Mulder, you hear me? So don't you dare ditch me again. Not this time." She placed a soft kiss next to his lips before turning to the others. "Help me get him to the bedroom."
While Duncan and Methos helped Dana carry Mulder out of the room, Natalie turned to LaCroix. "Will he be all right? You felt him. Do you think he..."
"... was brought across?" LaCroix finished for her. "I'm not sure. But it certainly seems that way." He sighed, then shrugged. "His is not a fate I would willingly wish upon others, but such is life." He looked up as Dana and the others returned.
"Ms. Scully? Allow me to introduce myself. My name is LaCroix. Your friend will be all right in an hour or so. Come, we have much to discuss." He led the group over to the couch. When they were seated, he continued, "This is a turn of events I had not expected."
"I'll say," the man who had been staring earlier, the one with the British accent, interrupted. "That's all we need, another one like you." He turned to face LaCroix. "I'm right, aren't I?"
"Excuse me," Scully interjected. "I don't believe we've been formally introduced. I'm Dana Scully. And exactly what did you mean by another one like him?" she asked, pointing at the object of their discussion. "As far as I can tell, he's an immortal, just like you and me. How is he any different from us?"
"So sorry, my dear. Adam Pierson, at your service. And as for what I meant, well..." he trailed off, turning to LaCroix.
"What do you know about vampires, Ms. Scully?"
"There have been myths and legends about vampires in many cultures as far back as recorded history, maybe longer. Usually such stories are a result of overactive imaginations coupled with unexplained phenomena. I don't believe that there is any one single species that can be labeled as a vampire."
"You doubt what you have seen with your own eyes?" LaCroix asked, smiling as he pointed to the far corner of the room.
Scully followed his gaze, gasping at the sight. She'd completely forgotten about their earlier visitor, caught up as she was in her anxiety about Mulder. Now, she was shocked to see the decapitated body, already showing signs of decomposition. She remembered the fight earlier, and found that she really had no rational explanation for the night's events. The attacker hadn't been an immortal, she was sure of that. But how else could she explain her seeming invulnerability to bullets... and those fangs! She stopped when she realized that she couldn't remember cutting off the killer's head.
"Decapitation is one sure way to kill a vampire," LaCroix answered her silent question when she turned back to face him. "She was a threat to the vampire community, causing as much exposure as she did. She had to be eliminated. Such is our law."
"Your law? Do you mean to say you're a vampire as well?" Scully still had a hard time embracing the concept, but decided to go along with it for now.
"Yes, both Nicholas and I are." He smiled when he saw her turn a startled gaze towards Nick and then glance at Natalie. When she turned back to him, he continued, "I am somewhat unique, among both vampires and immortals. Or at least, I was until now. To my knowledge, I was the only pre-immortal brought across into the vampire community before now. I myself prefer to remain closer to my vampire nature, and generally avoid contact with the immortal community. But that is by choice." He paused letting it sink in. "Your friend, Ms. Scully, will be faced with similar choices. Immortality is not something to be taken lightly, and neither is vampirism. Also, he will be facing another obstacle. Usually a vampire is taught and guided by their master, the one who brings them across. In this case, that is obviously not possible." He turned a withering glance at the body that was by now nothing more than a few scattered pieces of flesh. "Not that she could have done a good job at it. In any case, your friend will be waking up soon, and there are certain things he must be taught."
Scully leaned back in the couch as she digested this. From what Duncan had told her, Mulder would be like her, an immortal, when he woke up. Now, she discovered, he might be a vampire as well. That was rich. Both of them were now eminently qualified to be their own X-file. She frowned as a thought struck her. She turned a piercing glare upon the assembled group. "What are all of you doing here, anyway? Did you know the killer was here? You could have saved Mulder all that pain." She was starting to get really angry now. How dare they...
"No, not at all, Ms. Scully. Actually, we came to ask you for your help." When he saw the eyebrow rise in disbelief, he explained, "You see, yesterday night we discovered where the vampires who have been committing these murders have been nesting. Unfortunately, there were so many of them, we decided to retreat and return with more reinforcements. And you seemed a natural choice, from what Dr. Lambert has told me about you two. As it is, I'm somewhat surprised you don't believe in vampires."
"Dana," Natalie said, continuing when she caught her friend's eye, "Mulder told me that he'd almost been brought across once before. So I just assumed..."
"That's Mulder for you," Scully smiled a little, remembering with a touch of pain the case Mulder had worked on during her disappearance. "Natalie, he also believes in aliens and the Loch Ness monster. I prefer to wait for evidence and the facts before I draw my conclusions."
"A wise choice, in most cases," LaCroix commented. "But, be that as it may, we still need to prepare for when he wakes up. Newly born immortals usually wake up from their first deaths in anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the extent of their injuries. But, considering this unique case, I'm not sure which way he will lean." He paused as another thought occurred to him. "And when he wakes up, he'll most probably be extremely hungry."
Natalie briefly wondered how Dana would take the news about Mulder's need for a liquid diet when their discussion was abruptly interrupted by a loud crash from the kitchen area.
"That was fast. I guess we know which way he leans now, don't we?" Methos remarked as Dana, Natalie and Nick rushed towards the source of the noise.
|Futures Past 03:
My Funny Valentine
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