Heads Up
Allen Driskill

Chapter Eight


"When I walked into Mulder's office that first time, I already liked
him.  Have you ever had an experience where you were instantly
comfortable and at ease with someone?  Have you ever recognized someone
as a friend on first sight?  That's how it was for me.  Oh, he made me
prove myself to him, but somehow, I knew how it was going to be, right
from the start."

"I already knew something about Fox "Spooky" Mulder from talk at the
academy.  The work he did so impressed the instructors that many of them
used Mulder's old papers as handouts; a couple of the psych instructors
used them as course outlines.  He was always referred to as brilliant.
Mulder's psychological profile work is studied by every agent going into
that field; his research paper on scouring information from the Internet
was a topic of conversation in practically every egghead-filled computer
science study group.  He made quite an impression passing through the
academy, and he's often asked back to lecture; he rarely goes.  But they
remember him, especially the women."

"I'd never heard that he slept with a lot of women, but he certainly
made an impression on quite a few.  His reputation among bureau women
was that "Spooky" Mulder was a great date, a fun time, and a lousy
relationship.  I suspect the problem was that he didn't disguise his
intellect, and he got terribly bored with any woman that couldn't keep
up with his train of thought.  And Mulder's trains of thought can be
very hard to follow.  In fact, sometimes you have to knock Mulder's
train of thought right off the track, just to find out where it's

"I'd been told he was tall, dark, and rather handsome.  Other than that,
I didn't know just what to expect.  From all the stories about his
interest in the paranormal, and UFOs, and every other creepy,
half-baked, subject you could name, I expected someone who looked more
like a mad scientist.  And I expected that he'd be deadly serious, with
absolutely no sense of humor.  So I was excited by the assignment
because I was going to be working with a legend of the bureau, but I was
dreading the personal side of the assignment because I expected it to be
dreadfully trying."

"Of course, my reception at FBI HQ that day should have clued me in that
the assignment was not going to go as I expected.  I was basically told
that I was there to evaluate Mulder and debunk his work.  The indirect
way I was told those things angered me, even though I tried to hide that
fact.  After all, I had only been an agent for two years and I wasn't
comfortable with the notion of rocking the boat, yet.  But when I walked
up to Mulder's office door, I was prepared to make myself his ally; sort
of a rooting for the underdog kind of thing."

"Anyhow, I was determined to help him, but dreading having to put up
with a Mr.  Wizard, no personality, mad genius partner.  So I pounded on
his door, and he answered "There's nobody here but the F.B.I.'s Most
Unwanted." I laughed, and I think I was hooked on Fox Mulder from that
moment on, before I even opened the door.  Despite being the darkest,
most angst- ridden, self-critical soul I've ever encountered, he is also
the funniest, the kindest, the most self- sacrificing and caring soul I
ever expect to know."

"When I met him, the first item of business I wanted to get out of the
way was the crap I'd been handed about evaluating his work.  But I
didn't get the chance; he already knew.  He immediately told me that he
assumed I'd been sent to spy on him.  Several times in our first few
cases, as he learned to trust me, he'd make remarks like "Be sure to get
this into your report." It was like he wanted to convince me, so that I
could convince him, that his work was valid, and that his extreme
theories were legitimate.  And it worked.  He was often right, and even
when he wasn't, his pursuit of the truth solved cases and aided people
that would have been ignored by your typical agent."

"I have never experienced the level of trust with another person that I
have come to share with Mulder.  I know all about the bonding that
occurs between people placed under extreme stress.  I know the kind of
bond that forms between law enforcement partners, when another person
becomes, on a daily basis, the only thing between yourself and a violent
death.  I've seen the kind of telepathy that occurs between fanatics
sharing a common cause.  All of those things, and more, occurred between
Mulder and me.  I've lost count of the times we've each saved the
other's life, nursed each other back to health, or cried on one
another's shoulder.  We've risked our lives, careers, possessions and
professions uncountable times, without hesitation.  I know of no one I'd
rather have at my back with a gun, be stranded with on a dessert island,
have cook breakfast for me, or tell my fears to.  I know of no one I'd
rather do those things for."

"By the end of our first case together, I think I had already made a
total commitment both to Mulder and to the X-Files.  I became a doctor
to help people, but I saw there were a lot of doctors and that the help
they give is limited and tainted by fees, insurance companies, and
professional detachment.  It didn't seem to be enough for me.  I came to
the FBI to help people in a more direct and obvious way, I wanted to
"right wrongs" and "serve justice." I stayed with the X-Files because we
were the last hope, the final safety net, for people and situations that
even the FBI had decided to pass by.  And I stay with Mulder because he
shares that sense of importance and that lofty belief that Truth and
Justice are too important to ignore just because someone's worried about
closure rates, political correctness, or professional advancement.  The
work we've done in the X-Files has been the most rewarding and
fulfilling moments of my life."

"The X-Files have also been the cause, directly or indirectly, of a lot
of tragedy, fear, and loss.  I've been physically and mentally tortured,
kidnaped, experimented on, infected with deadly diseases, nearly frozen,
half drowned, shot, stabbed, and slashed.  I've been in danger of
electrocution, beheading, strangulation, exsanguination, poisoning, and
becoming alligator food.  My sister, Melissa, was killed by an assassin
who mistook her for me.  I've had to break off relationships that
couldn't stand the rigors of my profession, alienate friends and family,
and do things that I thought were necessary but morally wrong.  I've had
friends and strangers die in my arms.  And I lost a dog to the alligator
that missed me."

"But I've also seen wonders.  Although the scientist in me rejects most
of Mulder's explanations for what I've seen, I've had the privilege of
seeing them, anyway.  I have seen technology that may have been
extraterrestrial, creatures that it seems impossible for nature to have
formed, clones, telepathy, telekineses, ghosts, aliens, and flying
saucers.  Or maybe it's more correct to say that I've seen imitations of
the above that were so close the difference doesn't matter.  I've saved
lives both from death and ruination.  I've brought evil men, and women,
to Justice.  I've seen the Truth win out, and I've seen it lose.  I've
had the opportunity to live a life so full of wonder and accomplishment,
that I've come to think of life away from the X-Files as "mundane"."

"I'm often asked how Mulder and I manage to work together.  Our
supervisors and fellow agents see us argue, fight, scream and each go
our own way out of frustration.  And yet they envy and admire the work
we do, the results we achieve, the rapport and understanding we have.  I
can't say I understand our relationship myself, but I know it works.
Somehow we have something special that lets us achieve more through
conflict than others achieve with only cooperation.  But the funny thing
is, it never feels like simple conflict.  It feels like each of us doing
the part we do best, without apology, and knowing that whatever happens
we'll still be there at the conclusion, sharing our success or failure."

"Our relationship feels closer than colleagues, partners, friends,
lovers, or spouses.  It combines the best and the worst of all those
other kinds of relationships.  My only regret is that it also,
necessarily, omits many of the joys, rewards, and compensations that
those other relationships contain.  A house in the suburbs, white picket
fences, children in the yard, fame, fortune, Disney World and ocean
cruises may never be part of either of our lives.  But on the whole, I
think what we have is good, sustaining, and enduring."

"The X-Files, Mulder, my own principles and goals: they all seem to be
parts of a whole.  I wouldn't give anything up.  I won't give anything
up.  It's what I want.  Life is too fragile, and too short, to settle
for anything less."

"At least, for most of us."



"I'm trained as a psychologist, and psychologists are constantly
analyzing themselves, but I was doing it long before I could spell the
word.  After all the analysis, I'm really a pretty simple guy.  The
X-Files, and the principles of my work, and my partner, Dana Scully, are
my life.  I'm a guilt-ridden neurotic who would be totally useless to
anyone, especially myself, if I didn't have an obsession that focuses my
attention outside myself.  The X-Files are my obsession, and it keeps me

"I was blessed, or cursed, by genetics with a rare combination of
gifts.  I have a high I.Q.  and an eidetic memory.  The memory thing is
what people tend to notice, and so I try to hide it.  It's not exactly a
textbook "photographic memory" because I don't take pictures and just
store them away.  I don't read entire pages at a glance, although I can
read very fast thanks to a speed reading course I took in high school.
I read and hear and process information the same way everyone else does,
I can just remember anything I ever knew.  I remember written words,
conversations, smells, everything.  Sometimes it's very helpful, and
that's a blessing.  But sometimes it's a curse, because I've seen and
heard and experienced things I'd just as soon forget, but I can't."

"As a child, I was pretty normal, if there is such a thing, up to the
time of my sister's abduction.  I read comic books, dreamed of being a
super-hero or a policeman, learned to tolerate girls, and both loved and
hated my sister.  When Samantha was taken, my normal life changed.  My
family fell apart, I became estranged from my father, my home life
became miserable, and after that I never thought of myself as a happy

"At some point in high school, I became fascinated with the way certain
kinds of people seemed to be completely unhampered by the mental
controls that all the rest of us seem to have.  I wondered how people
could be born without the sense of remorse, the regard for others, the
sense of kinship with other people that most of us have to some degree.
I started to read detective stories and murder mysteries, I was
fascinated by serial killers, mass murderers and the like.  I was very
worrisome to my parents, until I told them I wanted to study

"By the time I was ready for college, my parents were no longer living
together.  Fortunately, my father was rather well off, financially,
supposedly because of a generous government bonus for his governmental
service after WWII.  Later I found out that he'd been a part of secret
government projects in eugenics.  In any case, at the time I didn't
care, and I got to spend my college years at Oxford, away from my
family.  At Oxford, in the heart of Europe's ancient history and
traditions of the metaphysical, I became interested in paranormal
activity almost as a hobby."

"I was recruited into the FBI Academy in 1986; my paranormal interests
quickly earned me the nickname of "Spooky".  For a while, I was a little
oversensitive about that nickname, but now I just shoot people who use
it.  I believe the practice will die out naturally, soon."

"I joined the Psychological Profiles Department of the Violent Crimes
Section in 1988.  Something, maybe all those Nick Carter, Mike Bolan,
and The Shadow novels, had given me a knack for getting inside the head
of violent criminals, deducing their background and predicting their
future behavior.  I wrote a monograph called "On Serial Killers and the
Occult" that gained me considerable notoriety.  My successes got me a
lot of attention for a while, but the extra head-shrinking sessions
required for working in that area also got me hypno-regressed.  And
under hypnosis, I remembered by sister Samantha's abduction; an
abduction that I still believe was carried out by aliens, or with
captured alien technology."

"In late 1990 I stumbled across the X-Files.  They were basically a set
of ownerless files down in the basement of the Hoover Building; mostly
unsolved files delegated to the dungeon of long- term storage because
the investigators didn't, or rather couldn't, admit to believing the
reported facts of the case.  I read the file and recognized descriptions
of mutants, werewolves, vampires, flying saucers .  .  .  and alien
abductions, like Sam's.  I was hooked, and by 1991 I had finagled my way
into being assigned to check out some of the cases "in light of modern
scientific theory and knowledge".  In fact, I wanted a license to
investigate my sister's abduction."

"I spent a miserable year with the X-Files, fighting for a budget, going
through partners on a regular basis who could not consider the facts
reported in those cases as possible, much less probable.  I solved a few
old cases and turned over some stones that caused some political
upheaval.  I managed to gain a couple of supporters in Congress, and by
1992 I was sure that I was getting to the truth about our government's
knowledge and involvement with extraterrestrials.  My work made some
powerful people nervous, and they sent Scully to stop me."

"It was the worst mistake they could have made.  We fought, we argued,
we yelled.  We each saw something in the other that made us trust, and
depend, and support.  Dana never tried to stop me, she tried to make me

"Instead of ruining the X-Files Department, its enemies had created
their own worst nightmare.  We became partners, a team, dedicated to
finding the Truth that we are both convinced lays hidden in the
X-Files.  Our closure rate soared; we uncovered government plots and
illegal experiments; we tracked down war criminals and failed genetic
experiments; we even encountered true cases of paranormal human
abilities.  We returned kidnap victims, and we caught serial killers.
And even when we failed in what we set out to do, we always succeeded in
some other way.  We helped people, we stemmed corruption, we saved
lives.  Our work was its own reward."

"And Dana Scully became more to me than just a partner.  As a
psychologist, I know about all the ways that people find to bond with
one another for security, but Scully and I surpassed all that.  I would
lay down my life to protect her, and I have; she has done the same for
me, only much more frequently.  The shadow powers within our government
have tried many times to separate us, but I no longer think they can do
that.  Even if they killed us both, I think we'd find a way to meet up
in heaven, or wherever, and solve our own X-File.  We're inseparable,
and that's that."

"And eventually, we will find The Truth.  It's Out There.  We Believe

"And if we live long enough, we may even get lives of our own."



Chapter Nine
First Contact

Motel Eight
Parking Lot
2:30 p.m.

"So why'd you fib about the lessons at Oxford, Mulder?  You let me think
you were a complete novice at this dancing stuff!"

"Well, first of all, all I did was not volunteer any extra information;
I did not "fib".  Second, I had no idea if the lessons were going to be
of any use.  I mean, I remember them, of course, but they were pretty
limited, and we were rushed through pretty quickly.  Third, I am a
novice; I haven't danced formally since I left school."

Mulder turned into the motel parking lot and headed for their rooms near
the office.  Suddenly he swung away and drove half the motel's length
past their doors.  He stopped the car and backed into a spot on the far
side of the lot so that the car faced the motel and was ready to drive
away quickly.  Scully had come to attention and was staring toward their

"Mulder .  .  ."

"Yeah, I noticed, Scully.  My door is standing open, and the rooms had
already been cleaned this morning when we got back from breakfast.
We've had a visitor with bad manners; he left the door open.  You take
the left and I'll circle around."

Scully nodded, and drew her Smith & Wesson 1056 automatic.  Holding the
gun low and inconspicuous at her side, she slid out of the car and
walked casually straight across the parking lot.  Reaching the sidewalk
in front of the front motel room doors, she turned right and headed
toward their rooms very slowly.

Mulder, meanwhile, followed Scully to the sidewalk, then turned left and
broke into a trot.  He circled the building, cutting through a central
open area containing ice and vending machines.  As he rounded the last
corner, back to the front of the motel, he saw Dana waiting on the other
side of their room doors, back to the wall and eyes on Mulder's door.

Mulder inched forward with his own 1056 in hand, and Scully matched him
step for step.  As he came to his own door, he paused.  Catching
Scully's eye, he silently mouthed one, two, three!  and swung into the
doorway standing erect.  Scully mirrored his movements, only crouching
low to Mulder's left.  For a few moments, both agents cast about the
room with their gun sights, but saw nothing, nothing but a mess, that
is.  Clothes and toiletry items lay scattered about the room as if swept
there by a wind storm.

Mulder motioned toward the bathroom, and Scully moved in that
direction.  Peeking around Mulder's bathroom turned up no intruder,
either.  She nodded, in turn, to the connecting door to her room.  With
Scully covering, Mulder edged forward and swung through the door into
the other room.  Nothing.  Scully followed, and once again, checked the

"Clear, Scully?"

"Clear, Mulder.  Looks like we've got a maid that cleans house like

Scully's room, too, was a shambles.  Clothing, papers, and toiletries
lay scattered over every flat surface.  She picked up her suitcase from
the middle of the floor and inspected it sourly; it was slashed inside
and out as if the searcher had expected it to contain secret pockets or
something.  Scully looked over at the writing table in the corner, and

"Damn, Mulder.  There goes another laptop.  I'm gonna have to find an
unbreakable one.  At least this time I had just transferred copies of
all my files back to D.C.; Skinner can still get his reports on time, if
I can find a loaner machine somewhere."

Whoever had searched their rooms had slammed the laptop computer against
the wall, smashing the screen and knocking a corner chunk out of the
case.  Mysterious "computer guts" were hanging out; it was definitely a

Mulder shook his head silently.  Leave it to Scully to have her
priorities straight: first the computer, and second the paperwork.  The
woman needed a life.

"Well, Thank God the Paperwork Will Be On Time, Scully.  Skinner can
forgive us anything except late paper work."

Mulder's voice dripped scorn for the misplaced priorities of bureau
administrators.  Then something sticking out from under the edge of the
bed caught Mulder's eye.  He reached out with the barrel of his
automatic and "hooked" what could only be one of Scully's bras on the
forward gunsight.  He brought the item up to eye level, the pale wisp of
cloth dangling from the barrel, and pretended to inspect it closely.  It
was pale green satin.  Mulder had an unsettling feeling as he imagined
how his partner looked in pale green satin underwear.  He'd always
figured Scully for the plain white cotton type, unless .  .  .

"Hmm.  Something from Frohike, Scully?"

Mulder started searching the floor for the other half of what had to be
a matched set.  Scully rolled her eyes and wondered if she could find
the matching panties before Mulder did.  Having her partner critique her
taste in underwear was freaking her out.  God, she thought, what will he
do if he finds the black lace set?

Mulder's head snapped up and turned toward the door as the sound of
squealing tires echoed in from the parking lot.  Scully, who was closer,
launched herself out the door with Mulder on her heels.  As they blinked
in the sudden glare, two pairs of eyes simultaneously locked onto a
light blue 80's vintage Chevy sedan.  The car squalled onto the street
from the parking lot, rear end listing heavily before the driver
regained control.  The driver gunned the engine again, and threw the
aging vehicle into a sharp left turn at the intersection, cutting off
several cars in the intersection.

Scully looked back at Mulder and found him already sprinting for their
car.  Scully was still wearing her higher - than - usual best heels from
the dance studio, and realized the futility of trying to keep up with
Mulder, anyway.  Instead, she ran to the opposite side of the parking
lot driveway, so she would be on the passenger side of the car as Mulder
drove past.

"Mulder, you had damn well better stop and pick me up, or I'm going to
do some head chopping of my own!" she muttered to herself.  She
skittered to a stop at what she thought would be the best pick-up

Another scream of tortured tires preannounced Mulder's arrival.  Three
seconds later he slid to a stop in front of Scully while simultaneously
stretching across the seats and yanking open the passenger door.
Momentum slammed the passenger door forward, Scully leapt, almost
gracefully, into the front passenger seat, and Mulder's takeoff slammed
the door closed after her.  An observer might have thought he was
witnessing a practiced routine, instead of the wild improvisation that
it actually was.

Scully righted herself in the passenger seat and fought to fasten her
seat belt and shoulder harness as Mulder slued the protesting Taurus
around the left turn in pursuit of the fleeing car.  Finally getting
strapped in, and noting that Mulder had already fastened his own seat
belts, Dana grabbed the car's cellular phone and dialed 911.  She saw
Mulder reach under the dash and flip the switches that activated the
bureau car's siren and the flashing grill lights.  A voice answered on
the cell phone.

"This is Technician Maria Constalos, Chicago Police Department.  What is
the nature of your emergency?"

"This is FBI Special Agent Dana Scully, badge number 2317-616.  I am in
high speed pursuit of a suspect wanted for questioning in a homicide
investigation.  The suspect is headed, uh, .  .  ." Dana frantically
cast around for street signs and a direction.  She noted the position of
the sun and made a best guess, ".  .  .  west bound on Gradner Street
from Tuxon.  The suspect's vehicle is a light blue Chevy sedan,
mid-eighties probably.  We are requesting immediate backup.  Consider
the suspect armed and dangerous.  Two federal agents are pursuing in a
dark blue unmarked Ford Taurus with lights and siren.  Please advise!"

"One moment, Agent Scully.  I am transferring you to our Dispatch Desk."
The female voice sounded cool and efficient.  Dana knew she was now
running her badge number through the FBI Law Enforcement Officer
Identification system, even as she could hear a faint voice calling for
police units in their vicinity.  Even if Dana had been a crank, the
local police would have wanted to intercept her and have a chat.  A
second voice came on the line.

"Agent Scully, this is the Chicago P.D.  Dispatch Desk.  Be advised that
two backup units are in route, and should intercept you, E.T.A.  three
minutes.  Please re-advise current location?"

"Still westbound on Gradner, just passing .  .  .  " Scully managed to
catch a street name from the front of an auto repair shop, "Styler
Avenue.  Suspect is approximately two blocks ahead.  Ooops!  Suspect has
just turned right, north, and I don't know the street yet!"

"Understood, Agent Scully." In the background, the dispatcher passed on
the course change to the intercepting patrol units.  "Please identify
your partner and give me a description of yourselves." It wouldn't do
for the local officers to be shooting FBI agents by mistake.

"My partner is Special Agent Fox Mulder, badge number JTT047101111.
Mulder is male, Caucasian, six feet tall, 170 lbs., brown hair, green
eyes, wearing a light blue sweatshirt and blue jeans.  I am female,
Caucasian, five feet three inches tall, red hair, wearing a dark blue
sweater and skirt."

Taking a chance on distracting his driving, Dana backhanded Mulder on
the shoulder.  He was chuckling at the omission of her weight in the
descriptions.  Truth be known, her weight fluctuated so much that she
honestly didn't know what to report this week.  How he could take time
to think about such trivia in the middle of a chase was a mystery to
her, like a lot of Mulder's quirks.

As Mulder swung into the right-hand turn their suspect had negotiated
seconds before, he called out "Bakker St., Scully!".  Scully relayed the
landmark to the dispatcher, as well as the following left turn that
resumed their westward course.  They had closed the gap on their quarry
to less than a city block.

"Those defensive driving courses are paying off now, Scully!  A dozen
blocks and I haven't even scratched The Bureau's car, yet!  Skinner may
arrange a commendation for protecting Bureau property!"

Dana knew Mulder loved any chance to drive like this, whipping with
impunity through traffic lights, tires screaming and siren blasting.
Admittedly, the cops - and - robbers she'd played as a kid with her
brothers always included the car chase as the most important part of the
case; her adrenaline was off the gauge by now, too.  Mulder, though, got
a special charge from manhandling a car through city streets; it was
probably a male thing.  They probably learned it from all those James
Bond movies.  I guess that casts me as the sexy female sidekick, she
thought, hanging on for dear life, despite the seatbelts, as Mulder
threw the car through another abrupt swerve to miss a civilian vehicle.

Suddenly, the car ahead of them flashed brake lights, skidded to the
right, and jumped the curb.  As they approached the same spot, they saw
a small stretch of open grass, and a children's playground beyond.
Their suspect was taking a shortcut through a school yard!  There were
over a hundred children in sight, lining up to board a row of busses
parked behind the school to their left.  They watched in horror as the
speeding sedan approached the children, and as Mulder jumped the curb in

Mulder swung the Taurus to the right and floor-boarded the powerful
little V6 engine.  A hidden dip in the playground caused them to bottom
out, and then bounce almost completely free of the ground.  The reckless
maneuver enabled them to pull even with the speeding Chevy, however, and
Mulder swung left attempting to force the maniac inside to veer left,
too.  They caught a glimpse of a male figure with short dark hair behind
the wheel.

At the last instant, just as the agents were bracing themselves for a
massive tragedy, the blue sedan swerved left and regained the street
through the Entrance Only lane of the school parking lot.  Mulder
recovered too strongly, fearing to get too near the children himself,
and clipped off several white painted wooden posts surrounding the
school's flagpole.

"So much for Skinner's Careful Agent of the Month Award!" muttered
Mulder, as he slid their car through the parking lot and onto the
street.  Their quarry had gained almost a city block on them, again.
Dana updated Dispatch on their latest course changes, although, frankly,
Dana had lost all sense of direction somewhere in the middle of the
school yard.

Fortunately, they were almost immediately joined by a patrol car that
swung in behind them from the left, then a second unit that pulled out
in front of them from the right.  The second car was almost on their
suspect's bumper, and stuck tightly as the fleeing Chevy abruptly swung
north (?) again.

"Agent Scully?  We now have two units that report joining you in
pursuit.  Any special instructions if the suspect is stopped?"

"Affirmative, Dispatch.  We confirm that your units have joined us.
Officers should use extreme caution in attempting to apprehend.  The
suspect may be trained in martial arts, and may be armed with a sword as
well as firearms.  You might want to have someone call the office at
Haywood Elementary School and make sure everything is O.K.  We just
scared the dickens out of a bunch of school kids and their teachers.
And could you send a unit to the Motel Eight just south of Gradner on
Tuxon?  Rooms Three and Four need to be secured; we believe the suspect
had just completed ransacking our rooms when this pursuit began."

"Affirmative, Agent Scully.  Should I call the local FBI office?"

"Affirmative, Dispatch.  Use my badge number and request a special
forensics team to go over those rooms.  Will there be any problem
coordinating with your own investigation team?"

There was the sound of a soft chuckle from the dispatcher.  "No, I doubt
that our guys will fight over checking out a ransacked room.  I don't
suppose there are any D.B.'s laying around in there?"

No, thank god, there were no Dead Bodies, yet.  They had both been out
having a good time when their visitor arrived, or the story might have
been very different.  Of course, they might have caught him and ended
this case on the spot, too.

"Sorry Dispatch, no D.B.'s back at the farm.  However, my partner is
driving and we haven't brought the car to a complete stop, yet, so
there's still time."

The dispatcher chuckled again.  "I heard that, Agent Scully.  "

"I heard that too, Scully; looks like you get your wish, we're
stopping!" Mulder stood on the anti-lock brakes as he spoke.

Ahead, the blue Chevy had turned into an alley, was skewed sideways to
block the pursuing cars, and had been abandoned.  The Chicago police
cruiser behind it was empty, too.  Mulder pulled up behind Chicago's
finest, and reached under the dash to kill the siren.  The sudden
relative silence was deafening.

"Agent Scully," came the voice from the cellular again, "Be advised we
have two uniformed officers in foot pursuit of your suspect down an
alley between King and Evans.  Do you copy?"

"Confirmed, Dispatch.  We are on the scene with the second backup unit."

Behind the Taurus, the other Chicago patrol unit slid to a stop and two
more uniformed officers rushed past them on foot with only a confirming
glance at the two agents.  There was no sight of their suspect, or the
first two officers, down the alley.  Mulder reached out and touched
Scully's arm as she was about to open her car door and follow the

"I'm sure these guys know the area better than us, but let's circle the
block, anyway.  Maybe we'll get lucky?" suggested Mulder.

He started to back up as soon as Scully nodded assent.  Dana passed on
their plan to the Chicago dispatcher, who continued to hold the line
open for them.  Getting an acknowledgment, they circled left around the
block, and had turned their second corner when they heard the
dispatcher's voice again.

"Agent Scully, be advised we have a report of an officer down; EMS has
been dispatched."

"Chicago Dispatch?  I am a medical doctor and can assist.  Can you give
me a location on your .  .  .  Never mind, Dispatch.  We are on the
scene of the injured officer."

Ahead and to their left, between two large trash dumpsters, stood the
two uniformed police officers from the second car.  A third officer was
on his knees beside the fourth, who was laying flat on his back.  The
front of the downed officer's uniform shirt was wet and red.  Mulder
pulled close and stopped as Scully jumped out and circled to the injured

The kneeling officer was trying to stop his partner's bleeding by
applying pressure to his friend's back and abdomen.  Scully knelt and
checked the injured officer's pulse and pupils; he was in shock from the
blood loss, which was considerable.  She looked up into the eyes of the
kneeling partner and saw a familiar look, one she remembered seeing on
Mulder's face more than once: quiet desperation, concern, grief, and

"Don't worry, I'm a doctor.  You're doing fine with the pressure, the
bleeding is almost checked.  You got to him in time.  I think he'll
live, depending on the internal injuries.  From the location, it doesn't
look like the bullet should have hit anything too vital.  An EMS unit is
on the way.  Hang on!  He'll be fine."

The dark eyes staring back at her seemed to lighten a little; slowly the
officer nodded his head in acceptance of Scully's reassurance.  In the
distance, they could already hear the siren of the approaching Emergency
Medical Service unit.  The sad face turned down to his partner once
more, then back up to Scully.  His voice was ragged, and he spoke in a
barely audible, hoarse whisper.  A bruise was forming across his left
cheek and jaw, and his nose was bleeding; it looked broken.

"It's not a bullet wound.  The sonuvabitch stabbed my partner with a
sword!  A f***ing sword!.  It looked about six feet long; it went clear
through him.  Vicious things, blades.  Somehow I'd rather catch a bullet
than be cut with a blade, ya know?  Vicious things, blades .  .  ."


417 King Avenue
Rear alley
Chicago, IL
4:18 p.m.

The good news was that the EMS team had concurred with Scully's
evaluation of the injured officer, Mike O'Donal, and so did the
preliminary report from the ER; he'd make it, but possibly on only one

The bad news was that now they had some very pissed off Chicago cops
"Looking For Justice (tm)", and their only suspect was gone without a
trace.  To add insult to injury, the only description they had was "big
guy, dark hair, big sword".  It seems the downed officer's partner, Jim
Halloran, had only seen the suspect from behind for an instant before
being backhanded with the hilt of the sword.  A lot of soul searching
was going on, and a lot of glares passed back and forth.  It troubled
them that not a single shot had been fired, while two officers had been
taken down by a man with a sword.

The consensus among Chicago's finest was that the female Fed was O.K.
She had helped Halloran take care of O'Donal until the EMS people came.
But that wussy-looking Fed, Mulder, had started this whole mess, and was
somehow responsible for them not knowing who to blame for O'Donal's

One officer had gone so far as to get nose - to - nose with Mulder and
demand a better explanation than "the guy ransacked our room".  Mulder
had calmly explained that assaulting an FBI agent was a Federal beef.
Further, that they were investigating a series of murders so their guy
might be facing a life sentence.  Finally, he reminded the female
officer that, after all, he was only a man and that the redhead was
really in charge.

Scully calmed a lot of frayed nerves by announcing that she had already
called in an FBI Criminal Forensics Team to go over the car and their
motel rooms.  FBI forensics experts were the best; the suspect's car
would tell them a lot about who had injured their comrade.  She assured
the waiting officers that they'd soon know their suspect's hair color,
DNA signature, fingerprints, and the name of the last woman he'd slept
with.  This last comment, delivered with an absolutely professional tone
and deadpan expression, had even drawn a chuckle or two.

Mulder had already pulled on latex gloves, and was tentatively poking
around in the blue Chevy.  There was an Illinois registration over the
driver's visor, and he called in the name, Edward Manning, license
number, and Vehicle Identification Number.  No way would their guy have
driven his own car, he and Scully just never got that lucky; it was
probably stolen.  Still, it might lead to something, so it couldn't be
ignored.  Mulder discovered that the vehicle's trunk was locked, and
that the car keys were missing.  Seeing the problem, one of the original
backup officers in their chase had offered Mulder a Chicago Lock Pick,
known in other parts of the world as a crowbar.  Mulder knocked out the
trunk lock easily, looked inside, and immediately looked for his

"Scully?  Can you spare a minute?  There's something here you should

Scully approached the car, and headed toward the back.

"What is it Mulder?" Then she rounded the back and looked into the
trunk.  Oh.

"My first guess is that this is Ed Manning, Scully, and that our
friendly neighborhood innkeeper will know him."

Mulder gestured to the Watcher tattoo which was visible on the exposed
inner left wrist of the body.  It was another one of Joe's people.

"Well, that, plus the sword, firmly ties this incident into our case,
Mulder.  This was no simple motel burglary gone bad; this was our
killer, and he was looking for us, specifically.  We should take a
Polaroid of this man to Dawson, and get his reaction to what's happened
this afternoon."

"Good idea, Scully.  We've probably got another couple of hours red tape
here before we can walk way, then there's gonna be police reports to
file both at this scene and back at the motel.  We should also let
Skinner know the good news; we're on the right track here.  I'll grab a
camera and take this guy's portrait now, then cruise over to Dawson's .
.  ."

"NO WAY, Mulder!" interrupted Scully, "No way are you going to leave me
doing paperwork for the next four hours while you dash off for more
barbecue!" The guilty look on her partner's face told Dana she'd scored
a hit about the barbecue, but she also knew how much he hated field
reports.  "I'll make a deal with you; you handle local cops at both
crime scenes.  I'll take my notes with me to Dawson's place, write up
our preliminary field reports, and send them to D.C.  via modem.  Then
you won't have to talk to Skinner on a voice line.  While I'm there, I
can find out what Dawson knows about this guy in the trunk.  You take
notes so I can finish the final reports, later.  Deal?"

"O.K., Scully.  Deal.  You take the Taurus, and I'll grab a ride with
one of these nice officers."

"If it were I, Mulder, I wouldn't ask the blond that was speaking to you
earlier.  If you do, it may be a very long ride."

Apparently, he thought, my concerns about socialization with Scully
affecting our work relationship were unfounded.  One thing had been
nagging him, though.

"Scully, will you listen to some paranoia with an open mind?"

Scully looked at her partner with big, round, innocent eyes.  "Whatever
do you mean, Mulder?  Of course I'll listen to whatever you have to
say!" Scully braced herself for more of the Mulder over-protective, big
brother, senior partner B.S.

"Scully, we're looking for an Immortal with access to Watcher records,
someone who knows who we are and where we are staying.  Someone so
practiced with a sword that he uses it against police armed with
automatics.  Do we know of anyone who might fit that description?"

Dana raised both eye brows as she saw where Mulder was leading her.

"Methos.  It could have been him in the car, I suppose; we never got a
good look at the driver, either.  And maybe a tall slender guy in a
trench coat, with a big sword in hand, would have looked like a "big
guy" to the uniforms."

"Or he could have an accomplice.  Remember, Trust Only Me, Scully."

"Always, Mulder."


Joe's Place
7:15 p.m.

Joe Dawson looked worried.  The murdered man was a Watcher, all right,
but was currently serving as Administrative Assistant to Dawson,
himself, at the local International Assets office.  Suddenly, murder was
even more up close and personal.

"It's too much of a coincidence, Dana, to have our killer showing up
here in Chicago, and searching your rooms.  I can only guess that he was
watching my place, saw our meeting, and followed you two to see what was

Dana hadn't though of that scenario, but it seemed plausible.

"Why would he be watching you?"

"Maybe because I'm the Eastern US coordinator for the Watchers?  Maybe
he sees me as a threat because he knows I'll try to stop him.  Maybe I'm
next on his list, Dana."

"Do you watch a particular Immortal yourself?"

"Yes, I do.  I watch one of the few Immortals who are aware of the
Watchers.  We get along because I leave him alone, and he lets me know
what's going on with him, and where he's going when he moves.  At least,
most of the time he does.  Yes, I should call Duncan and give him a
"Heads Up", excuse the pun.  You said your burglar was big and dark?
Then that leaves only two likely prospects out of the half dozen we
still can't account for; let me show you some pictures back in my

Dana picked up her coffee and followed Dawson back to his office.
Dawson turned on his computer and opened a wall safe, shielding the
combination with his body.  He pulled a CD out of the safe, and popped
it in.  In a few moments, he called up a picture for Dana to look at.

"This is Charlie "Frog" Sauvaugh: six feet two inches, 220 lbs., and
about 450 years old.  He's originally from the French Pyrenees area.  He
disappeared about two weeks before the first killings." Joe displayed on
the screen a cruel, uneven face with a sharp nose and thin mouth.

"Can you print this, so I can show Mulder, too?"

"Sure.  There.  And this is Bradley Thomas: six feet four inches and 240
lbs., all solid muscle.  He's been a mercenary of one kind or another
for over 250 years.  He's a "very bad dude", this guy.  And my personal
favorite as our serial killer.  He dropped out of sight over six months
ago." He printed the second image without being asked.

When the printer finished its whirring, Dana studied the two faces side
by side.  Not very pleasant individuals, judging by their looks and the
brief history synopsis that Joe had also printed for each man.  Now,
which one were they dealing with, or was it both, or neither?  Should
she put out an APB on them both, just on the Watchers' rather shaky

"Joe, have you seen Methos since our chat yesterday?"

"No, but that's normal.  Nobody sees Methos very much, he's lived as
long as he has by being a very cautious guy.  I'm sure he'd appreciate
it if you wouldn't use "Methos" in public; everyone knows him as Adam.
He's not one to seek a fight, although legend has it that he's very good
with a sword.  I believe Mac, Duncan MacLeod, beat him in a match once,
though.  Adam spends a lot of time on Holy Ground, like International
Asserts' offices, which are in an old church."

"MacLeod beat Methos, I mean "Adam", but didn't take his head?  I
thought that was part of the rules?"

"No rule says that two Immortals have to fight, or that the winner is
required to take the loser's head even if they do.  Duncan and Adam are
friends.  The duel was supposedly over how to kill a third Immortal that
was threatening them both.  " Joe shrugged.  "Any time you think you
understand an Immortal, things will change and you'll be confused
again.  Even if they live as long as Adam, they're just like us in that
respect.  People change, and Immortals change constantly.  "

"Joe, one more favor.  Can I use your computer and modem for a while?  I
need to check our e-mail and turn in some reports.  My laptop got
trashed back in our rooms.  No toll charges, the FBI has an 800 number."

"Sure.  Make yourself at home.  I'll call Mac and Adam from out there.
I'll be behind the bar, if you need me."

Dana smiled to herself as Dawson returned his CD to the safe on his way
out.  Dawson must know the X-Files motto.


Joe's Place
9:25 p.m.

It was dark as Dana left the club.  The street lights fought back
bravely against the darkness, and mostly succeeded, except in the
corners, cracks, and crevices of the urban landscape that was Chicago.
Dana's mind was busily sifting through all the fantastic circumstances
of this case as she turned down the side street toward the parking area
behind Joe's Place.  The door key to the agency car was gripped firmly
in her right hand, the key to her decimated motel room dangled and
clattered softly against the key ring.  She hoped that Mulder had
cleaned up their belongings, gotten them new rooms, and finished his
notes for their final field reports by now.  Realistically, she knew
Mulder would have found some excuse to not have started the paperwork at
all; she'd probably have to go down to the local precinct tomorrow and
fill out a crime report herself.  Without an official report, the bureau
would not pay for replacing their slashed bags, or any other items
damaged by the crude search of their rooms.

Despite her preoccupation, Dana's eye's and ears remained alert to the
possible dangers of night in the urban jungle.  Her eyes alternately
surveyed each side of the street, probed the shadows around and between
the cars, and even flicked briefly to the nearby rooftops in search of a
possible assailant.  For once, her cautious alertness was more than a
reflexive exercise.  As she took her first step around the corner and
into the parking lot, she sensed another presence.

Someone was standing in the shadow cast by a parked van, off to Dana's
left and about thirty feet away.  He was dressed all in dark clothes,
and had dark hair.  He blended almost perfectly into the shadows, but
his face gave him away as it accidently caught some stray sliver of
light.  Her shifting gaze had caught a flash of pale skin within the
inky shadows beside the van.

A darker shadow - within - the - shadow was only noticeable when she
shifted her eyes and looked directly at the van.  As she looked, the
darker shadow stepped out of the lighter shadow and into the aisle
between the cars.  A brighter glint of light on shiny metal announced
the blade of the sword as it moved from the darkness of the man's long
coat into the harsh artificial glare of the street lighting.  He
advanced, holding both hands slightly away from his body, the right hand
carrying the long blade.  The officer was right, it did look six feet

Dana considered the remaining distance to her car, and realized she'd
never make it in time.  The words of Academy trainers whispered in her
ears as she prepared to fight for her life.  First, she emptied her
hands.  The keys dropped into her coat pocket, safe for later if she
lived long enough to need them.  The purse fell to the ground as she let
the strap slip off her shoulder and released her grip.  Her right hand,
empty of keys now, slipped under her coat and returned with the 9mm
Smith & Wesson automatic.  Its grip felt reassuring in her hand; she
spent hours each month making sure the weapon was always familiar.  Her
left hand came up to steady the right, and her knees flexed for better
balance and to reduce her own target area.  She took a long, deep,
breath and felt the initial surge of adrenaline through her body make
her senses heighten and her stomach tighten.  The potential panic
receded and left an icy, icy calm.  She used the commanding tone of
voice that Mulder said reminded him of his Oxford headmaster.

"Stop!  Federal Agent!  Drop your weapon and don't move!"

Unhesitating, the dark figure cleared the end of the van and started
toward her with an unhurried step.  The sword was clearly visible now,
held down and out to the figure's right.  In a moment, his face became
visible as he neared a light pole set near the middle of the lot.
Dana's analytical mind automatically made notes for a later report:
Caucasian, short dark hair, 30ish, six feet four inches, 200 lbs., no
facial hair, broad shoulders and thick arms like a weight lifter, square
jaw and low forehead.  It was Bradley Thomas.  His quiet voice carried
easily to her through the still night air, clear and without a trace of

"I think you've been looking for me.  Well, here I am!  What do you plan
on doing with me, bitch?"

The looming figure's voice was deep and soft, reminding Dana of a priest
from her childhood.  The tone was gentle and seductive, like a
high-class pimp, incongruous with the threat of his words and the
glistening sword in his hand.  Dana felt like she was standing in the
eye of a storm as she stood braced, never taking her eyes off the
advancing figure.

For an instant, but only an instant, she wished Mulder were there to
lend some of his overprotection.  Then the thought passed, and Dana
squared her shoulders, and replied to the shadowy figure's threat.  She
tried to put as much "sweetness and light" into her voice as possible.
If he thought he could rattle her, maybe she could rattle back.  She
raised her aim; at this distance, and with a stationary target, she knew
she could empty the clip into either of his eyes.  She wondered how long
it took an Immortal to regrow a new brain.

"At the moment, Bradley Thomas, I'm placing you under arrest.  If you
resist, I'm planning to put a 9mm slug into your forehead, you bastard!
Then I plan to take your sword and chop off your ugly head!  And I'm
planning to get started as soon as you take your next step!"

The advancing form stopped at the mention of his name, and seemed to
appraise her stance and the steadiness of the automatic pointed at his
face.  His hands dropped to hang at his sides, and he seemed to relax.
Dana heard the sound of a long breath, released slowly; she took a
cleansing breath herself, but otherwise remained frozen in place.

"It appears I've underestimated you, Agent Scully.  Dawson is helping
you directly, obviously, and that's not like him at all.  It seems you
know way too much about me already.  Not that it's going to help you
any.  I'm afraid I can't let you continue to live, knowing what you

With his final words still in the air, Thomas dropped to his left with
seemingly inhuman speed.  Dana tracked his motion and fired, trying only
for a torso hit with a moving body as her target.  As if in slow motion,
she watched the bullet tug at the man's coat lapel, and then slam him
backwards into the glass of the car behind him.  As her mind registered
the hit, she had already fired twice more, shooting in groups of three
as she'd been coached by her father and the bureau.  The remaining shots
shattered glass in the hapless car's windows, as her target dropped from

Dana immediately circled to the left, keeping as much distance as
possible between herself and the point where the Immortal had left her
line of sight.  In a moment she was positioned to see between the cars
where she expected to find a body, but the ground was empty.  Vaguely,
she could make out what were surely blood stains on the side of the car
where her would-be assailant had slid down the passenger door, and more
stains were visible on the pavement.  In the light from the sodium-vapor
lighting, the blood looked black, not red, as it trailed away toward the
front of the cars.

Dana crouched and backed across the aisle and between two cars herself,
peering around a car's back bumper to survey as far down the opposite
row of cars as she could.  She wanted to leave no chance that the
suspect might circle behind her, and wanted cover in case the sword was
not his only weapon.

For long seconds, nothing moved.  The only sound Dana could hear was her
own breathing, which had grown rapid and shallow from the action.  She
focused on her breathing and it slowed and quieted.  Still nothing
moved, but now Dana could hear the background sounds of Chicago all
around her.  Car engines revved, truck brakes squealed, horns blared.
Dana shifted her weight to ease the tension that the crouched position
caused in her legs.

Suddenly a figure ran from behind a car in the opposite row to the cover
of a telephone pole set in the middle of the broad aisle, paused, then
continued across the aisle.  Dana swung out around the rear bumper of
her cover and fired three times again; this time she could not tell for
certain if she'd scored a hit.  She returned to cover and retreated to
the front of the car, and then rose for a look over the hood.  She
reflected on the efficacy of firing long-range at someone who might be
able to heal as quickly as Methos.  Her suspect had probably already
fully recovered from her first hit, and was now back in the game with
his full facilities.

She pondered her ammo supply; there were only two rounds left in her
clip.  Since fire fights had never been a big part of her bureau career
up to this point, she carried her spare clip in her purse, which was
lying on the ground in the middle of the aisle.  There was a box of ammo
in the lock box inside her trunk.  Neither item was going to do her any
good if she couldn't retrieve them.  She was loathe to step out of cover
into the aisle to retrieve the purse, and the car was two aisles further
away.  If her adversary had a gun, she'd be a sitting duck if she tried
to cross the open aisle and snag the purse on the way.  Still, the purse
was closer than the car and she couldn't play cat and mouse very long
with only two more shots available.

She began edging back toward the rear of the car, popping up
occasionally to check for movement; she saw nothing.  She braced herself
to dash into the open for her purse, and began to rise, when motion on
her right caught the corner of her eye.  She dropped back down and
peered cautiously around the rear bumper of the car to her right this
time, trying to quickly locate the source of the shadow that now fell
down the center of the aisle.  Another man had entered the parking lot
from the direction Dana had come.  This figure held a katana sword in a
two-handed grip, hands raised level with and in front of his right
shoulder.  He was surveying the parking lot with a intent manner, as if
he could hear prey but not pin down its exact position.  Dana silently
withdrew several steps to prevent this new threat from noticing her own

The new player in their deadly hide - and - seek game slowly approached
Dana's discarded purse.  Reaching it, he stopped and quickly glanced
down for a moment.  Just as quickly, he resumed his silent survey of the
surrounding rows of cars.  Suddenly a voice rang out; it was strong,
challenging, and revealed a thinly suppressed Scottish accent.

"I am Duncan MacLeod, of the Clan MacLeod!  Step out into the open and
face me, whoever you are!"

Dana could see the newcomer from her new position, if she leaned forward
slightly and looked down the narrow alley between the cars that
concealed her.  He stood poised over her purse, as if protecting it, and
looking warily around himself in all directions.  He was about the same
height as the first man, about six feet four inches, but more slender.
He looked like a runner or swimmer, not a weight lifter.  He had long
brown hair tied back in a pony tail, and a strong jawline.

Dana recognized a martial arts stance as he shuffled through a complete
turn, but could not recognize the discipline.  He moved like a cat,
always poised to spring, never off balance, never seeming quite still,
even when not apparently moving.  Dana realized this was Dawson's
Immortal, his friend and Watcher subject, and wondered how many years
had gone into the practiced movements.  She also wondered if he was a
friend or foe in the current circumstance.

Suddenly, the man called Duncan MacLeod seemed to drop his guard.  The
sword swung down to a relaxed position at his side, and his eyes dropped
again to Dana's purse.  He squatted over the purse and picked it up.
Flipping open the fold-over top, he rummaged for a moment and came out
with Dana's FBI badge and I.D.  holder.  He opened the I.D.  and studied
it for a moment, then he rose and looked around.

"Agent Scully?  Are you out here?  My name is Duncan MacLeod, and I'm a
friend of Joe Dawson and Adam Peerson.  I won't hurt you, you can come
out now.  Whoever was here before is gone; I can tell.  You're safe."

Scully decided that caution was the better part of valor in this case,
and didn't move.  This was definitely not the man that she'd fired at,
but he wasn't necessarily a friend, either.  And the first Immortal
wasn't necessarily gone just because this one said so.  Scully took
another of what seemed to be way too many deep breaths in the last few
minutes, and reconsidered her tactics.  Caution, yes, but this Immortal
was standing out in the open about fifteen feet away.

Dana came suddenly to her feet with her automatic steadied on Duncan
MacLeod.  As he turned to face her squarely, Dana got a good look at his
face.  She hoped she wouldn't have to shoot this one!

"Federal Agent!  Drop your weapon and raise your hands!  NOW!"

As Dana braced to fire, the man before her did the unexpected.  He
smiled.  He smiled a broad, warm, friendly smile that Dana knew
instantly would charm most women out of their pants in a heartbeat.
Dana responded, too.


Smiling even bigger, Duncan MacLeod slowly crouched and laid his sword
gently on the pavement at his feet.  Then he slowly rose, and raised his
hands over his head; Dana's purse still hung from his left hand.  His
voice, when he spoke, reflected the amusement on his face.

"I give up!  Don't shoot!  I'm a good guy!  Just ask Joe!"

Dana risked a quick look to her right at the sound of voices and running
footsteps.  It seemed the shots had finally drawn a crowd, from inside
the club, headed by Methos, of the brave, stupid, and curious.  At the
back of the small cavalry came Joe Dawson, slowed by his prosthesis.
Methos made a beeline for a point midway between Scully and MacLeod.
Stopping to face Dana, he raised his hands as if to ward off her fire.

"It's O.K., Agent Scully!  He's a friend!  Don't shoot!"

Dana relaxed fractionally, lowered her automatic and activated the
safety.  Suddenly she was very, very tired and wanted a stiff drink.
Shoot-outs were not her favorite way to spend an evening.

"Are you sure, too, that the other guy is gone?" she asked Methos,
glancing around the now- crowded parking lot.

Methos glanced at Duncan, who nodded his head fractionally.  Methos took
this to mean that Duncan had sensed an Immortal before.  He listened for
a moment to MacLeod's "buzz", and heard no other.  He turned back to
Dana Scully.

"Yes, I'm sure.  If he were nearby, we'd know."

"Explain that later, would you?" said Scully, as she finally relaxed the
tension from her stance and let her arms drop to her sides.  A ransacked
room, a high-speed chase, a potential cop- killing, an armed
confrontation with an evil "Zorro", and a rescue by a samurai had taken
their toll.

Dana walked over to Thomas' position when she had fired her second trio
of rounds.  From the parallel traces of blood on the pavement, she
guessed that two of those rounds had found the mark.  Dana reflected
that any normal person would have stayed down after her first hit in the
chest.  The sound of footsteps broke into her refection.

She looked up to see Duncan MacLeod examining the site of her first
three rounds; he kept his hands in his pockets, touching nothing, just
crouching and studying the ground intently.  He rose and approached her,
repeating his examination with the blood stains and shattered auto glass
at Dana's feet.  Finally he rose and gave her a respectful look.

"You seem to have kicked butt here, Agent Scully.  Nice shooting."

"Dana.  Call me Dana.  Anybody that saves my butt gets to call me Dana."

"Well." the Immortal gave a bashful grin and looked away as he delivered
the obligatory pickup line, "I'd say it's the best thing I've saved all
day, except .  .  ." and he looked her in the eyes at assure her of his
sincerity, "I don't think you needed me.  He was already running, or
probably, limping away when I got here."

The rest of the crowd arrived as Scully returned her S&W to its holster
at her back.  Some people approached MacLeod, obviously recognizing him,
some approached Scully out of curiosity, and the majority hung back at a
respectful distance.  Scully noted that somehow MacLeod's sword had
disappeared from the pavement at his feet and was nowhere in sight.  She
had never seen him pick it up.  Oh, well.  One thing at a time.  Dawson
had arrived.

"Agent Scully, Dana, are you all right?  What happened?"

Scully looked at Dawson, heaved a big sigh, and stepped in his

"Did you call the police?  Yes?  Good.  Joe, as soon as I explain things
to the cops, I'll be in need of a stiff drink.  If you can get my purse
back from the big guy over there," she motioned toward MacLeod with her
head, "Then you've got a new customer; if we call Mulder, it'll be two
new customers."

Duncan stepped closer, unslung Scully's purse from around his neck and
one arm, and returned the handbag.  She slipped the bag's strap over her
own shoulder and gave Duncan MacLeod an appraising look.  He was a
gentleman, he had flirted first, he was certainly easy to look at, and
he was Immortal.  The heroic tendencies she could overlook after long

"And you can buy my first drink, MacLeod, while you answer a few

MacLeod looked bemused, but nodded.  Dana turned back to Dawson waved
tiredly at the mob threatening to contaminate the crime scene.  He
understood, and the club owner started herding the crowd back inside the
club.  In the distance, Dana could hear approaching sirens; she waited
at the edge of the lot with Duncan.  Behind them, Dana heard an
unfamiliar voice suddenly give up a wail.

"Hey!  Hey!  Look at my car!  Look what somebody did to my car!"

It had been a tough day for everybody, buddy.



Chapter Ten
"I Kicked Some Butt, Mulder!"

Joe's Place
Just Inside The Door
11:15 p.m.

Mulder had walked through the front door of Joe's Place to find a party
going on, and the focus of the party was his logical, demure,
straight-laced, no-nonsense, enigmatic partner, Dr.  Dana Scully.  He
relaxed with a deep sigh; the phone call had been unclear, and he'd half
expected a problem brewing at Joe's Place.  Apparently, whatever had
prompted Dana's call to meet her here was well in hand.  Instead of
approaching the group at the back table immediately, he moved to one
side of the door and reconnoitered first.  Mulder felt a sharp pang at
seeing her like this, in a mood and a setting he'd never have associated
with the Dana Scully he thought he knew so well.

O.K., Fox thought, I'll admit it; I'm jealous.  I've never seen her look
like she was having such a good time, at least not like this.  The sheer
wattage of her smile was lighting an entire corner of Joe's Place, and
keeping a considerable circle of gentlemen entranced.  I've seen
strippers, he thought, who could never hope to command such rapt
attention from a male audience.  He slowly surveyed Dana's circle of
admirers, gathered around the large table where he and Dana had first
learned about Watchers and Immortals.  Dana was in the middle of the
long side of the table, with her back to the wall, facing the club's
front door.

To Dana's right was Joe Dawson.  Joe was tipped back against the wall in
a straight-backed chair, holding aloft a mug of beer and grinning from
ear to ear.  He listened to Dana's every word, and watched every
expression on her face, while periodically sipping from the frosty mug.
In front of him was a plate stained with barbecue sauce and stacked
impressively high with gnawed animal bones.  His facial expression
reminded Mulder of a father he'd once seen at a ballpark, watching his
son slam a homer over the center-field fence.  Joe was cheerleading the
rest of the group, playing host to the hilt, and acting very proud of

To Joe's right, at the corner of the table, was Methos.  "Adam Peerson",
Mulder reminded himself, was holding in his right hand an enormous
ceramic beer stein, painted in a profusion of earth tones.  Every half
minute or so he flipped the pewter top of the stein open, took a long
draw from the contents, and then snapped the top closed with a flip of
the wrist.  He was leaning forward over the table, supporting his chin
with his left hand, and staring raptly at Scully.  On the table in front
of him, forgotten now, was a large salad bowl.  Some traces of dressing
suggested that the bowl had once, indeed, held salad; now the bowl held
another stack of pork rib bones.  Methos had the intent look of a
student, hanging on every word of an admired teacher during a lecture.
Mulder wondered if Scully had really been kidding about wanting to jump
the man's bones.

An unknown young man sat beside Methos, separating the Immortal from a
lovely and very young brunette in a very red and very short slip dress.
The male youngster had reddish-brown curly hair, and kept his right arm
around his date while his left hand stuffed his face with popcorn.  The
young pair had been into the ribs, too, evidenced by a bone-yard built
on a napkin roughly midway between their plates.  Like the other, they
seemed to be hanging on Scully's every word, but were sharing attention
with each another, too.  Ahh, young love, thought Mulder.

Beside the brunette, and taking up most of the table's front side, was
the man Mulder recognized as Joe's chef, Ronnie.  Ronnie was an enormous
black man, at least six and a half feet tall, who would easily weigh in
at 300 lbs., even if he hadn't been wearing the biggest white chief's
hat that Mulder had ever seen.  Ronnie had apparently appointed himself
waiter for the evening, since he was keeping all the mugs full of beer,
especially Scully's, from a pitcher sitting at his right hand.  In the
center of the table was a platter stacked with uneaten ribs, probably
also being restocked by the big cook.  After tasting Ronnie's ribs, he
and Mulder were friends for life.

At the end of the table to Dana's left was a lovely, tall, very slender
and athletic-looking woman with close-cropped jet-black hair.  If
anything, her matching black dress was even tighter and shorter than the
teenaged brunette's; her black high heels easily outdid the kid's red
ones by at least 2 inches.  Mulder guessed her age at around
twenty-eight, assuming she wasn't another Immortal.  This woman was the
only guest at the table not looking at Scully; she was intent on the
final figure at the table, who was sitting at Scully's left hand.
Mulder guessed she was not pleased with the seating arrangements, since
she seemed to be straining across the corner of the table.

The object of the raven-haired woman's attention was another stranger to
Mulder.  He was tall, well built, and had long brown hair tied into a
pony tail.  Mulder grudgingly admitted to himself that Ponytail was the
kind of guy that most women would find handsome.  As Fox watched the guy
interact with the two women on either side of him, he began to grin.
The symptoms were recognizable: the guy was here with the black-haired
woman, but very, very much wanted to take Scully home tonight, and the
black-haired woman knew it!  Now the really interesting question was,
what did Scully know and want?

Finally, he looked at his partner.  She was telling a story of some
kind, complete with elaborate hand and arm gestures and sound effects.
Every time she paused, or made some odd sound, or performed a sweeping
gesture, everybody laughed.  She was standing by her chair, with one
knee on the seat of the chair, half standing and half kneeling in her
seat.  Dana held a glass beer mug in her left hand, slapping it down on
the table to gesture, and grabbing it back up to gulp a drink.  His
friend didn't look drunk, just desperately happy, but if she'd been
drinking like that for any length of time, she'd soon be under the
table.  He'd never known his partner to drink more than a glass of wine
with dinner, before.

Suddenly feeling overdressed for the party he was about to join, Mulder
loosened his tie, slid it off, and tucked it in his pocket.  The gray
suit coat had to stay on, to cover his automatic in the holster under
his arm.  He loosened his collar and prepared to cross the room and put
names with all these new faces.  Scully took that moment to notice his
presence from across the room, and point in his direction.  Then she
shouted loud enough to reach all four corners of the bar, even over the
racket of the band.


Real smooth, Dana!  Thanks for the great introduction, he thought as,
just like in a bad movie, the noise level dropped to what passed for
dead quiet in a nightclub.  Even the band stopped to gawk, having
noticed the sudden attention to the front door.  Mulder looked around
the room as every eye turned his direction.  Temporarily nonplus, he
thought quickly for a way out.  Deciding the best defense was a quick
offense, he slipped his Bureau ID out of his pocket and put on his best
Law Enforcement Voice of Command (re: Joe Friday) as he flashed his
badge around the room.

"All right, everybody, listen up!  This is the F.B.I.!  I want everybody
back to having a good time before I count to three, or I start
shooting!  One!  .  .  .  Two!  .  .  ."

Mulder's "Three!" was drowned out by the laughter and hubbub as the
patrons starting discussing theories about what they'd just seen.  In
seconds, the crowd had consensually decided it was all a joke, anyway,
and had gone back to their previous conversations.  The band leader
picked up at the last convenient bar, and the music resumed.

Doing his best to look casual, Mulder strolled over to the party as if
nothing had happened.  Only a few of the guests even gave him a glance
as he crossed the room.


Joe's Place
The Owner's Table
11:20 p.m.

As Mulder approached the table, Dana circled to meet him, arms reaching
out.  Startled, Mulder stopped short and suppressed an urge to flee.

"Mulder!  I'm so glad you were finally able to join us!  I was afraid
you were going to miss the party, and I knew you were pining away for
more of Ronnie's barbecue!" With that, she reached up and grabbed Fox's
lapels and pulled.  When he automatically bent forward to relieve the
strain, Dana planted a resounding kiss on his right cheek, then looked
him in the eye, grinned, and dared him to protest.

At least, that's how it seemed to Mulder, who reeled in shock and tried
desperately to hide his reaction in front of all those strangers.
Quickly he invoked his eidetic memory and played the previous action
back, frame by frame.  Yep, sure enough, he had just been kissed hello
by Dana Scully.  Dana Katherine Scully.  Dr.  Dana Katherine Scully.
His Scully.  Dana.

"Smooth recovery back there, Mr.  G-Man!  Bet'cha got an 'A' in Crowd
Control 101."

"Scully, my guess is that you're having a good time?"

"What was your first clue, Sherlock?  YES, I'M HAVING A GOOD TIME!
Ain't it great?  C'mon, Mulder, lighten up and meet all my new friends!"

Dana towed Fox to the edge of the table between Ronnie and the
black-haired women, and swept her arm over the group's head.

"Here they are, Mulder!  Over there is Joe, whom you've already met.
Tonight, Joe dialed 9-1-1 when he heard the shots."

Mulder waved to Joe, who waved back, as Mulder stared hard at his

"What, Scully!?  Shots?!"

"And that's Adam; you know him, too.  He stopped me from shooting Mac!"

A nod, returned, for Adam Peerson.

"Shooting?  Mac?"

"And that's Ritchie, Mac's Friend, and Katrina, Ritchie's Friend.  They
didn't get here until the police were almost done, so they missed all
the excitement!"

Nods for both the youngsters, with grins in return.

"Police?" he asked.

"And this is Ronnie, who's been feeding us very, very, well.  Ronnie
quieted down the guys who got upset about their cars getting all shot
up.  If he hadn't, in my mood, I might have shot them, too."

Mulder put his hand on Ronnie's shoulder, and got a "thumbs up" in

"Scully, stop!  What's all this about shooting .  .  .  ?"

"And this is Amanda, Mac's Very Close Personal Friend." Scully winked at
Mulder, with her back turned to block the woman from seeing the
gesture.  "Amanda offered to teach me to use a sword so I can fight it
out properly next time, but Mac says she's too rough a teacher and that
he's gonna teach me himself."

Fox sighed.  One more try?

"Fight it out?  With swords?"

"And this," Scully said as she moved around to put her hands on the
shoulders of Ponytail, "is Duncan MacLeod, Of The Clan MacLeod." This
last bit of introduction was in a passable Scottish accent.  "Duncan
came to my rescue, and is my witness!  I kicked some butt, Mulder!  Do
you hear me?  I kicked some butt!  If you don't believe me, just ask
Duncan .  .  ."

"She's right, Agent Mulder." offered Duncan "Ponytail" MacLeod, nodding
and grinning.  "She definitely kicked some butt!"

As if to reinforce the dizziness and loss of facial color that Mulder
was experiencing, Dana walked back around to him and repeated her
previous assault by grabbing Mulder's lapels and kissing him again.
This time, squarely on the mouth, and less rushed.  When she released
him, apparently enough damage done, Dana circled the table once more and
plopped into her seat.  Mulder stood motionless, truly stunned.  He
barely noticed when Ronnie reached out a long arm, snagged a chair from
the next table, and placed it between himself and Amanda.  Ronnie tugged
at his sleeve, and gestured at the chair.

Mulder shook off the minor religious experience that was threatening his
personal world view, and sat down.  Again, he replayed the last scene
with Dana to be sure he wasn't confusing the facts.  Yep, he had been
kissed twice by Dana Scully within the last five minutes.  If the third
kiss (and he found himself desperately hoping there would be a third
kiss) improved over the second as much as the second had improved over
the first, then this might be the last night on Earth for Fox Mulder,
but he was going to die a happy man!

With the exception of MacLeod and Amanda, the party resumed as if never
interrupted.  Dana was relating one of their old cases, the one where
the punch-line would be that Mulder had killed a serial-killer
alligator.  Mulder winched in anticipation of the "poor Quigquag" part
of the story, which was coming up next.

MacLeod and Amanda were looking at Mulder, expectantly.  Not a hard pair
to read, thought Mulder.  Amanda looks pleased as hell; Duncan looks a
little jealous.  Well, suffer, Duncan MacLeod!  Anyway, these two looked
like the soberest people at the table, excepting himself; maybe they
could explain the madness?

"Excuse me, but would one of you please fill me in?  I feel a little
left out!  Who got shot, and whose butt did Scully kick?  And how does a
guy get some ribs and a beer around here?"


Joe's Place
The Owner's Table
2:35 a.m.

All in all, it had been a fine party from Fox's perspective.  He had
consumed enough free ribs, cole slaw, and home fries to fill his grease
quota for the week and make up for the lunch and dinner he'd never had
time for yesterday.  Given Scully's condition, he'd changed his mind
about the beer and stuck to ice tea; somebody had to drive them back to
the room.  But despite being the only completely sober person at the
table, he'd had one of those rare moods where he was able to relax and
enjoy the company of other people.

Usually, Mulder wasn't much of a socializer.  Even back at Oxford he's
always been more content working all night on some research assignment
than going out carousing with his mates.  But this was a situation where
his taste for the unusual and bizarre was more than sated just by the
company he was keeping.  He'd begun to understand that there were people
around the table who had seen more grief and despair in their long
lifetimes than he was ever likely to accumulate in his own.  They had
also seen more miracles, been forced to accept more mysteries, and had
lived in more constant danger than he.  In short, he felt as if he and
Scully were among the more normal, mundane, and perhaps, sane, souls at
the gathering.  It was a new, and comforting, sensation.

At first, he'd tried to worry about Dana's drinking, but it seemed he
had been underestimating her own good sense.  Yes, she was nicely
"plastered", for sure, but she had slowed her drinking after the initial
frenzy, and was just maintaining a nice level of uninhibited good
humor.  She'd probably pay for tonight Big Time, but, god knows, she
deserved some unwinding after the evening's events.  A cold chill ran
down Mulder's spine as he thought of the danger his partner had been
through, and he wanted to blame himself, but for once he'd managed to
let it go.  All things considered, he knew his partner was the stronger
half of their team in most ways.  The number of times she'd successfully
protected him far outnumbered the times he'd even tried to protect her.

It was also obvious to Fox that Dana had made real friends here in
Chicago, friends that respected her and would be trying to help and
protect her.  Even the youngster, Ritchie, was acting chivalrous around
his partner, to the annoyance of his date, Katrina.  Mulder's eternal
paranoia was working overtime to keep him from accepting all these
people at face value and thinking of them as friends, as it was apparent
Dana had done.  Of course, a sober Dr.  Scully might be less trusting in
the morning; time would tell.  Anyway, his best instincts about people
had never compared well to Dana's; he seriously doubted if there were
any Bad Guys at the table.

Duncan had cautioned him that Ronnie and Katrina didn't know anything
about Immortals and watchers; they only knew that someone was killing
off friends of Joe, Adam, and Duncan.  This limited the topics of open
conversation.  Even so, Duncan found opportunities to explain some more
details of the Immortals, as Fox tried to pump him for information.  He
learned about the "buzz" that alerts one Immortal to the presence of
another, for instance, and its limitations.  After talking to Duncan for
an hour, he suddenly realized he was making the same mistake he had made
with Adam Peerson.  Duncan's experience with people was so far beyond
his own that Mulder finally accepted that Duncan was telling only what
Duncan wanted to tell; cop and psychologist tricks were wasted on a man
with 400 years of practice at being evasive.

He also learned the full story of the events in the parking lot, first
from Dana and then from Duncan's point of view.  Then he heard the tail
again, expanded and elaborated upon by Joe.  Then he heard Ritchie's
version, and then Ronnie's.  In each version, Dana's performance, and
her opponent, grew in stature.  It was a microcosmic example of the
problem with eye witnesses; no two people ever saw, or heard, or
experienced the same event in the same way.  It was almost funny in this
case, since no one by Dana had actually seen anything first hand.

He'd been concerned that they were wasting valuable time with this
celebration, but, true to form, his partner had dotted all the i's and
crossed all the t's long before he showed up.  Pictures of their
suspects were in the hands of the Chicago Police and the Bureau; a
city-wide manhunt was already in progress.  A call to Skinner had, once
again, confirmed his prior orders that they sit tight in Chicago and
monitor the situation while the local people did their jobs.  Skinner
had even seemed pleased with the new status of the case.  Tonight's
frivolity was officially on their own "down time".

Amanda had been fun.  When she said that she and Duncan had been
together "for a very long time, off and on", plus the fact that Duncan
let her listen to his recitation of Immortal trivia, he assumed this was
another Immortal.  But he still wondered, and he made a mental note to
explicitly ask Dawson about the dark lady.  He had come to expect
subtlety from these Immortals, given Duncan and Methos' examples, and
this lady was anything but subtle.  At one point she had turned her
considerable charms on him, full-blast, and he had tried to hold his
own, to no avail.  Twice she embarrassed him with explicit questions
about his sex life; a neat trick, given Mulder's general lack of such a

During Amanda's more outrageous advances, Mulder had kept a close eye on
Duncan, but no resentment ever surfaced on the Scotsman's face.
Instead, he seemed to use Fox's diversion as an opportunity to spend
more time whispering with Dana.  Once he had decided to relax about
MacLeod, Amanda's flirting was a rather pleasant change, and he found
himself agreeing to go to dinner with her, time permitting, before he
left Chicago.

And, of course, he had gotten kissed by Scully, twice.  If he'd ever
guessed that a shootout, barbecue, and beer could have this kind of
effect on his partner, he'd have arranged the combination long ago.  Not
that I've got any romantic notions about Scully, he told himself.  It
was just fun because tonight's behavior was a new side of Scully, and
her open affection had been an expression of their mutual trust and
confidence with one another.

Yeah, right, thought Mulder.  She was just drunk; it was probably stupid
to read any more into it than that.  If Scully wanted any more out of
their relationship, she'd say so.  She was always straight with him, and
that was why their partnership worked.

Regardless of how he interpreted it, the more he learned about his
partner, and the more they shared, the more Fox felt committed to never
letting anyone or anything separate them again.  He'd had a taste of
what it would be like to loose her for only a few months, and that was
more than enough.  As things stood, Scully shared every important part
of his life; anything romantic or sexual between them would mean the
Bureau would separate them.  Seperation meant that a big part of that
sharing would end,and he wouldn't risk that, and neither would Scully.

"All good things must come to an end." announced Mulder, to a party that
had grown much quieter and calmer in the last hour.  Katrina was openly
asleep on Ritchie's shoulder, and the young Immortal was yawning.  It
appeared that even Immortals, Watchers, and FBI agents eventually needed
sleep, from the looks of the droopy and blinking bloodshot eyes around
the table.  Only Dawson seemed to still be alert, probably because he
was used to these hours; he was working, after all.  "I think I should
take our guest of honor home, and get her into bed."

Dana blinked several times, as if to clear her vision, and took a deep
breath while coming to her feet, a little unsteadily.  She stretched her
arms over her head, and gave an enormous yawn as she seemed to consider
her partner's words.  At the last second, Mulder realized how it had
sounded, and he prepared for the famous Scully Wrath.  As usual tonight,
she surprised him.

"Promises, promises, Mulder.  But you're right, I'm tired and tomorrow
will be another day for mutants, and flying saucers, and Bad Guys with
Big Swords.  I'd better get my beauty sleep before I turn into a
pumpkin." Dana took a lock of her hair, and pulled it around in front of
her eyes for examination.  "I think I've already started to change.  Oh,
well.  Joe, thanks for a lovely party!"

"It was well deserved, Agent Scully.  Good night, and good hunting!"
wished Joe.

"And goodnight to you, Mac.  Thanks for being my hero tonight."

So saying, Dana leaned forward and kissed MacLeod.  From Mulder's angle,
it looked like MacLeod got the Third Kiss that Fox had been waiting for,
and fearing.  Fox breathed a small sigh of relief, until he saw the
smirk on MacLeod's face when Dana finished; his earlier flash of
jealously at the handsome Immortal resurfaced with force.  The only
consolation was that Mulder could see that Amanda had bristled too;
MacLeod would probably pay for that smirk later!

Mulder stood as Scully rounded the table in his direction.  He made his
own goodbyes, less personal than Dana's, but hopefully seen to be just
as sincere.  As Scully took his arm, also a rare event, she made her
last comment for the evening.

"Let's Ride, partner!"


Motel Eight
Room Twelve
2:56 a.m.

Scully had gone to sleep in the car as soon as Mulder started the
engine.  Mulder had left the radio off for a change, to figure his best
course of action when they got back to the room.  He'd sort of counted
on Scully being awake so he could explain things, but now it was all
left in his hands.  The problem was, their previous rooms were now crime
scenes and had been sealed by the Chicago and Bureau forensics teams.
The motel only had one room to substitute, and Mulder had been in too
much of a hurry to argue; he had taken the single room.

Thankfully, the room had two double beds, so he wasn't going to have to
sleep in a chair, but he would have felt a lot better if Scully had been
awake to O.K.  his plan.  The way she was snoring now, he didn't figure
he'd have any luck waking her, even if he tried.  Well, he'd just have
to do the best he could, and hope she didn't chew him out too badly in
the morning.  He pulled into the space assigned to their room, and shut
off the engine.

"Scully?" he said softly, as he gently shook his partner's shoulder,
"Scully?" Getting no response, he made one last try: a little louder and
a little rougher.  "SCULLY?"

No luck.  Sigh.  O.K., at least she's not much trouble to carry.

Mulder reached across and unlocked Scully's door, then got out and
unlocked his own.  He opened the motel room door and wedged a rolled
Motel Directory under the corner to hold it open.  Then he went back to
the car and collected his partner.

It wasn't the first time he'd carried Scully, but he was always struck
by how small she felt in his arms.  Leaving the car door for later, he
carried Scully inside and placed her on the bed by the bathroom.  After
closing and locking the car door and the room door, he considered his
next move.  He knew from experience that if their situations were
reversed, Scully would have stripped him to his shorts without a second
thought; she was a doctor and had absolutely no compunctions when other
people's modesty conflicted with expediency.  But when the shoe was on
the other foot, Dana was a very modest person.

"Well, I'm not leaving her to wake up with that suit ruined; she'd bitch
about that, too.  Bite the bullet, Mulder, and do what needs to be

Gently, he pulled his partner's shoes off, noticing that, thankfully,
she was not wearing any hose.  Probably ruined them in the parking lot
and ditched the remains, he guessed.  Well, fine: one less thing to
agonize about.  Lifting her gently upright, he slipped off her coat and
jacket, and untucked her blouse.  At that point, Mulder noticed that
Scully was wearing a full slip under her suit.

"Saved!" he muttered.

Quickly, and almost managing to keep his eyes shut, Mulder skinned
Scully out of her blouse and skirt.  The slip looked plenty comfortable
to him, so he shifted her on the bed so he could get her coat out from
under her, and covered her with a sheet.  He stepped back to admire his

People always look so innocent and defenseless when they're sleeping, he
thought.  He often looked in on Scully as she slept, so it was a
familiar sight, but one he never tired of.  When Scully slept, all the
lines of worry on her forehead disappeared and the determined set of her
jaw relaxed.  The always inquisitive and expressive eyes were closed,
letting the world go by without supervision by Dana Katherine Scully.

Mulder wished her sweet dreams, shucked down to the skin, and then
pulled on a pair of silk boxers and tucked himself into the other bed.
By reflex, he checked that his gun and cell phone were within easy
reach, then turned off the lights and drifted off to sleep.  He could
hear Scully's soft snores clearly from the next bed, and knew he'd have
a pleasant sleep.


Motel Eight
Room Twelve
2:13 p.m.

When Scully began to stir, Mulder put down his magazine and sunflower
seeds, and quietly let himself out the door.


Motel Eight
Room Twelve
2:20 p.m.

Dana Scully opened her eyes to the subdued light of a motel room, with
an uninspiring view of beige wallpaper about three feet in front of her
eyes.  She lay motionless, collecting her thoughts and piecing together
where she was, and how she'd gotten there.  Understanding slowly came,
together with a terrible taste in her mouth and a faint ache somewhere
back of her eyes.  She could smell cigarette smoke and beer on her hair,
and she felt damp and sticky all over.  The thought of a shower seemed
like heaven.

She rolled from her side onto her back, and sat up slowly.  The pain in
her head increased, but was manageable.  She looked around at her
surroundings, and for a moment nothing seemed familiar.  Then she saw
Mulder's suit coat hanging over the back of a chair.  Apparently, they
were sharing a room, not an unusual occurrence given their usual lack of
travel planning.  She saw the clothes she'd been wearing last night
neatly hung beside her trench coat on a clothes rack by the door.  Her

In a mild panic, Dana lifted the covers and peered beneath.  She was in
her slip, still in bra and panties.  She relaxed, and grinned.  Mulder,
ever modest, had left her a little dignity, bless him!  She fell back
against the pillows and replayed last night's events in her mind.  She
had kicked their suspect's butt in armed combat in a parking lot,
handled the local police, and been thrown a party.  Parts of the party
seemed a little blurry, but she clearly remembered the characters, the
stories, and kissing Duncan MacLeod.

She jerked upright in the bed: she had also kissed Mulder!  More than
once, if her hangover influenced memory wasn't playing tricks.  The
first time had been just a peck, but the second!  Oh, sweet lord!  Why
did she have to drink so much?

Dana ran her hand through her hair as she recalled the taste of Mulder
on her lips, and the feel of his "five o'clock shadow" against her
face.  He had smelled so good, too; she always liked the smell of Mulder
when he leaned in close, to invade her space and make a point.  How had
he reacted?  She tried to remember, and couldn't.

He probably didn't even notice, she decided ruefully.  He'd always
flirted with her, but he'd never seemed serious.  She knew he trusted
and respected her in a way he did no one else, but he'd never tried to
kiss her or touch her in anything other than a friendly, companionable

Dana closed her eyes and relaxed.  She was worrying about Mulder, after
all.  Crazy, mad, Spooky Mulder who lived for his work and little else.
Her best friend and partner.  If she had upset him, he'd just tell her,
and they'd work it out.  They always did.

Noting the time, she was appalled.  She'd slept away the day, and at
first she felt a rush of anxiety and pressure, then she relented again.
Their suspect had been identified, cops and federal agents were combing
the city and watching the airports, bus stations, trains, and car rental
agencies.  There was, as usual in police work, nothing to do but wait
while others did their jobs.  Dana threw off the covers and headed for
the shower, thinking about breakfast and wondering where Mulder had gone
off to; there had been no note waiting for her.


Motel Eight
Room Twelve
2:45 p.m.

Shower complete, modestly wrapped in a thick terry robe and with her
hair wrapped in a towel, Dana opened the bathroom door and was greeted
by the scent of coffee and cinnamon.  Laid out on the room's only table
was breakfast for two, with Mulder standing guard like an English

"Breakfast is served, madame." said Mulder, in a perfect Oxford accent.

"My!  To what do I owe this treatment, Mulder?  Did I do more than I
remember last night?"

Might as well get it out in the open, she figured.  If he was going to
tease her, it was best to get in the first blow.

"I though madame might not feel up to traveling this morning, given her,
shall we say "excesses" of last night.  And I thought you deserved some
special treatment after your performance against Bradley Thomas.  This
is what I came up with."

Dana though he looked uneasy and a little embarrassed.  Well, I'll be
damn, she thought.  He's actually being sincere!  This must be Mulder's
version of what Dawson did last night; a victory breakfast!

"Mulder, it's wonderful.  I was starved before my shower, and now I'm
absolutely ravenous!  Please," she gestured at the table, "Won't you
join me?"

Mulder relaxed and smiled.  You just never quite knew how Scully has
going to take a compliment, he thought, but it looks like I lucked out
this time.

"After you, madame!"

Mulder pulled out a chair, and, playing along, Dana bowed slightly
before sitting.  Fox tucked in her chair and then took his own seat,
grinning despite himself.  Pulling out a chair usually meant Scully
would take a seat on the opposite side of the table.

Dana looked over at Mulder's usual breakfast fare of fried everything,
and back to his selection for her.  Hot cinnamon oatmeal, a bagel with
cream cheese, several pieces of melon, orange juice, and coffee.

"How did you manage to order me a whole meal without grease, Mulder?
Isn't that against your union rules or something?"

"It was easy, Scully.  I just ordered anything on the breakfast menu
that said "diet", "fat free", or "low cholesterol"; you know, everything
I'd never touch.  I figured, that way, you'd be bound to like it!"

Dana grinned back.  The cinnamon oatmeal was her favorite, the bagel was
onion like she always ordered, the melon was a favorite whenever she
could get it.  He had known exactly what to order, because he noticed
and he cared.  She wasn't going to try to make him admit it, however.

They ate in companionable silence, speaking only to cooperate over the
salt, pepper, and carafe of coffee.  Mulder opened the shades over the
front window slightly, and the afternoon sunlight cheerfully painted
stripes across their table as they shared breakfast.

.  .  .


"Yes, Mulder?"

"That really was good work in the parking lot last night.  In fact,
you've done an exceptional job on this whole case.  I'm really glad
you've been with me on this one."

"Thanks, Mulder.  I wouldn't have missed it for the world."



Chapter Eleven
Double Date

Fred Astaire Dance Studio
Parking Lot
6:43 p.m.

Mulder and Scully walked out feeling smug.  Given the successful
developments in their case, combined with the lingering excitement of
last night's party and the serenity of their peaceful breakfast
together, they had arrived for their lesson in an uncharacteristically
fine mood.  Now they were leaving their lesson feeling on top of the
world.  They paused beside their car, and for a moment stood silently
enjoying the cool breeze that was briefly clearing away the urban
Chicago scents.

Mulder, especially, was feeling a little giddy after getting his wish to
learn some Tango.  After having Dana pressed close to him for most of an
hour, he needed the cool evening air on his face.  Tango, he'd
discovered, was just as much fun as it had looked in "True Lies"; that
Schwartzenegger guy really had the right idea!  Thank goodness Scully
hadn't noticed exactly how much he'd been enjoying himself!

"Mulder, this is going very well.  I think you must be a natural

"Don't tell my Mom, Scully; she thinks I'm an FBI agent.  Besides,
you're no slouch, yourself.  On the dance floor, at least, Frohike is
right about you: hot, very hot."

"So that explains why you were so "glad to see me" during the Tango

Fox blushed the deepest red that Dana had ever seen on his face.  It
seemed he was also at a loss for words, since he opened the car door and
got in quickly, without a comeback remark.  Dana stood for a moment,
amazed at her own boldness, and feeling her own color rise.  I cannot
believe I said that, she thought; now what do I do?

Dana swung into the car on her side and tried to catch her partner's
eye.  Mulder had folded his arms across the steering wheel, and buried
his face in his arms.  He looked absolutely mortified.

"Mulder?  Mulder, I'm sorry.  That was an incredibly tacky thing to say,
and I'm deeply sorry.  Lately things between us have been so relaxed
that for a second I forgot to even be polite.  Can you forgive me?  I
had to put up with two teasing brothers as a kid, and sometimes the most
terrible and childish remarks just slip out!"

Dana placed her hand on her partner's shoulder, and gently urged him to
look up.  Beneath her hand, she could feel her partner shaking, as if
crying silently.  My god, had she upset him that badly?

"Mulder!?  Please, Mulder, talk to me?  I didn't mean to hurt your
feelings .  .  ."

As she spoke her partner slumped away from her, sagging against the
driver's door as if unconscious or too weak to sit upright.  Dana heard
an odd strangling sound, as if Mulder were trying unsuccessfully to
breathe past an obstruction in his throat.  Dana grasped Fox by both
shoulders, now, and tried to force him upright and to turn in her


Slowly it dawned on her what the strange noises might mean, as her
partner continued refusing to respond in any way, even by looking in her
direction.  Suddenly her suspicion snapped into certainty, and she
shoved him roughly away in mock disgust.

"Why are you .  .  .  l-laughing, you i-idiot?" Despite herself, Dana
was suddenly laughing, too, as she realized her partner was alive, and
well, and choking on his own laughter.

"Oh!  Ohhhh!" Mulder finally caught enough breath that he could make
some coherent sounds, and he finally looked in his partner's direction
as he wiped away tears of laughter with the back of his hands.  "Scully,
you never cease to amaze me.  What did you say once?  "You just keep
unfolding like a flower", wasn't it?  Well, my precious partner, you
apparently have some hidden layers to your own personality!  Does your
mother know you talk like that?" Despite himself, Mulder started another
seizure of uncontrolled laughter.

With laughter came the complete release of the tension she'd been
feeling over embarrassing her partner, but now Dana needed her own few
seconds to regain control of herself.  Finally, wiping away her own
tears with a tissue from her bag, she managed to look her partner in the
eyes again.  He called me "precious", she thought.

"Mulder, life with you is like an unending rollercoaster ride.  It's
always either a slow uphill grind or a screaming downhill rush; there's
never a level ride for more than a couple of seconds."

Mulder looked completely somber again, as he watched his partner dry her
eyes and turn the rearview mirror around so she could inspect her
makeup.  Not for the first time, he wondered where his life would have
gone without Dana Scully, and where it might go if she were ever taken
from him again.  He didn't think he really wanted to know.

"But it's a hell of a ride, isn't it, Scully?" he asked softly.

Searching for, and finding, his eyes with her own, Dana allowed herself
to read from Fox's look and voice all the emotions she usually struggled
to ignore.  She wondered if she ought to tell him that she'd been
completely sober when she kissed him last night, both times.  She
wondered if she ought to tell him her reaction when she'd noticed his
excitement on the dance floor.  Dana wondered if there was anything she
could tell him that he didn't already know, and she decided the answer
was "probably not".  She suspected, perhaps for the first time, that the
big secret of their relationship was no secret to either of them,
despite the lengths they usually traveled to hide it from each other and
themselves.  But how was she to say all that, without saying it?

 "You bet'cha, partner!" she answered, just as softly.


Motel Eight
Room Twelve
7:35 p.m.

Mulder had been watching Scully's frenzy of activity ever since they
returned to the room.  At first he'd been absorbed in making notes for
their field reports, trying to truthfully report their progress and the
events of the investigation without mentioning Immortals or Watchers;
this case was stretching Mulder's inventiveness.  But eventually he ran
out of paperwork to futz with, and Scully was still scurrying about the
room.  It seemed she'd spent a lot of extra time in the bathroom, and
now she was working on her makeup.  Mulder couldn't remember the last
time he'd seen Scully spend more than five minutes on makeup.  Something
was afoot, and his partner was giving him the silent treatment, to
boot.  Enough is enough!

"What's up, Scully?"

"What do you mean, Mulder?"

"Why all the primping?  Hot date tonight?"

"As a matter of fact, I am going out to dinner.  But I'm not really
doing much extra, Mulder, just taking care of the basics.  Duncan said
to dress casually."

"You're going to dinner with Duncan, Scully?" Mulder got a funny
sensation in the pit of his stomach; probably a reaction from last
night's rib-fest.

Dana stopped her preparations and turned to look at her partner
squarely.  Surely that's not really jealousy I'm seeing on his face?  Is
he really that insecure?

"Mulder, he's a nice guy and I haven't been on a date in ages.  It's
just for fun, and I have no intentions of making it anything more than
dinner.  Besides, I'm fascinated by the whole notion of conversation
with a man over four hundred years old.  What kind of philosophies does
a person develop with that kind of perspective on life?  Besides, I'm
hungry, he asked, and nobody else did; a girl's got to eat!  Do you have
a problem with this?"

Mulder never felt he was on totally firm ground when talking to women;
the "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" idea seemed to have a lot
of merit, based on his experience.  Still, he knew many questions, when
asked by a woman, are supposed to be rhetorical.  This was one of those,
he figured.

"No!  No problem, Scully; it's your business.  Sorry to intrude.  I'll
just "zone out" in front of The Sci-Fi Channel anyway; there's no reason
you shouldn't go out and have some fun discussing philosophy.  Besides,
he does seem to be a nice guy."

"Well, thanks, Mulder.  I'm glad you approve.  He's picking me up at
8:30; now, can I finish getting ready?"

"Sure, sure.  Never mind me."

Mulder grabbed his field report notes again, and pretended to be
suddenly engrossed.  Dana went back to her preparations.  Then, as if on
cue, Mulder's cellphone chirruped.


"Hello Agent, Mulder.  Are you working, or do you have time to chat?"

"Actually, I was just thinking about you, Amanda," Mulder lied.  "What's

"I was wondering if Duncan's rendezvous with your partner tonight meant
that you were free this evening?"

"Sure, I guess so.  What did you have in mind?"

"There's a carnival in town; they have a great high-wire act that I've
been wanting to check out.  How does greasy midway food, noise and
confusion sound?"

"Like my kind of place.  Should I pick you up?"

"Well, since we're being so civilized about this, I thought I might just
ride over with Mac, when he goes to pick up Dana, provided you have a

"No problem; I think Dana will let me use the car tonight.  I'll be
looking forward to it."

"Ciao, then, Mulder."

Mulder put the cell phone away and looked up to find his partner had
paused in her preparations and was looking at him curiously.  Mulder
scratched his head and smiled sheepishly.

"Gee, Scully.  It seems I have a date tonight, too.  Amanda is going to
ride over with MacLeod and we're going to check out some kind of circus
act.  All very civilized, considering that I'm pretty sure those two are
living together, and not platonically, either."

"Well, your cohabitation theory is fact, Mulder.  Dawson told me that
Amanda travels around a lot, but that she always lives with MacLeod when
she comes to town, and stays until she gets restless again.  Dawson also
told me that Amanda is much older than Duncan, and I didn't know you
were into older women, excuse the pun.  All in all, it sounds like an
interesting evening, Mulder.  A circus act, huh?  "

"Funny, Scully.  Really funny."

Dana went back to her preparations silently, and Mulder began his.  For
ageless minutes that seemed like hours, neither spoke, and a tension
began to build in the room.  Finally Dana, who was watching her
reflection in the mirror as she braided her hair, broke the silence.

"Are we O.K., Mulder?  This "going out" thing tonight, I mean.  Are we
consorting with suspects?  Does it bother you in any way?" Please, for
once, Mulder, tell me what you're feeling!

It doesn't bother me professionally, Dana, but it bothers me that
MacLeod can do things with you that I can't!

"No, I think we're O.K., Scully.  If anything bothers me right now, it's
all the things we've agreed to lie about and buy into with this case.
All these compromises are pushing the limits of my conscience.  I keep
telling myself we're doing the right thing, but .  .  ."

"I know, Mulder.  You realize that all our Immortal and Watcher friends
intend to kill Thomas, don't you?  In their minds, it's the only way to
end this thing.  Sending an Immortal to prison, or letting the state try
to execute him, would expose the whole game.  I'm not sure how I feel
about that, exactly; I mean, I believe in the death penalty, and if
anyone deserves it, it's Thomas.  He's killed fifteen people on this
rampage of his, and tried to kill me.  It's hard not to feel he deserves
to die.  And I guess that, for an Immortal, life imprisonment would
constitute "cruel and unusual punishment" of the worst sort."

"I might have had some reservations, Scully, until he came after you."
Seeing Dana's eyebrows shoot up in the mirror, he hastened to explain.
"Until we got involved in this case, he had killed only Immortals and
Watchers.  The torture business bugged me, but all these people are
living lives full of violence and death practically every day.  Even our
friends Methos, MacLeod, and Amanda have killed other Immortals, maybe
dozens over the years.  These are not innocent bystanders, Scully, these
are people who literally live and die by the sword!"

"When Thomas stabbed that cop, I got angry and I was ready to change my
sentiments.  But in a big stretch of the imagination, you could look at
that act as self-preservation, and Thomas didn't kill either officer
when he could have.  The dead Watcher in the trunk was just more of this
bizarre "In the End, There Can Be Only One" B.S.  which, by the way, I'm
not sure I buy."

"But Scully, coming after you was an act of pure, premeditated,
attempted murder.  He intended to hack you into two pieces just to shut
you up and clear the way to Dawson.  It just struck too close to home,
and I started hating him.  Right now, I think I could hack off his head

Dana heard the unspoken words behind Mulder's explanation, and knew that
he was trying to protect her again.  His overprotective nature toward
her, which had saved her life more times that she wanted to admit, was
suppressing his conscience.  She wondered how to explain that her own
protective instincts were working overtime, too.  Mulder was being
uncharacteristically forthcoming; he deserved the same in return.

"I think I can take Thomas' head, if it comes to that, Mulder.  I think
I can turn my back while MacLeod does it, if that's what it takes.  You
know that's why Dawson called MacLeod, don't you?  Dawson thinks MacLeod
is unbeatable, but knows Mac won't go out and hunt Thomas down without a
damn good reason.  He figures that seeing all of us putting ourselves in
danger will motivate Mac to take Thomas' head when the opportunity

"At this point, Dawson thinks Thomas' attack on you is sufficient
motivation for MacLeod, and I think he's right.  Duncan MacLeod's
upbringing was that of a Sixteenth Century Scottish warrior, and his
first instinct right now is to protect you.  It ticks me off, but I know
how he feels, and I'm not going to turn down his help protecting you,
Dawson, me, or anyone else.  Mac is welcome to Thomas' head, if he can
beat me to it."

Dana dropped her eyes to the floor as she pondered Mulder's words.  The
idea was not flattering; it sounded boorish, chauvinist, and archaic.
Then she thought about Bradley Thomas' face as he stalked her in the
dark with that sword, and she couldn't help wishing for all the
protection she could get.

"It bothers me, Mulder.  I shouldn't feel the need for protection.  I'm
a trained FBI agent, proficient with firearms and hand - to - hand
self-defense, but like you say, I'm not going to turn down any help,
from any of you.  But don't forget that Thomas will probably be just as
anxious to kill you as me; he just happened across me, first."

Dana paused, and wondered if she should ask the question that had leaped
into her mind.  Would Mulder answer truthfully, and could she accept his

"Mulder, do you think MacLeod asked me to dinner tonight just so he
could protect me?"

Mulder chuckled.  The realization that a person as beautiful, capable,
and self-confident as Dana Scully could also have these attacks of
insecurity was endearing.  It also gave him a warm and fuzzy feeling
that she had enough trust and confidence in her partner to voice her
uncertainty and seek reassurance this way.

"I think MacLeod asked you out to get into your pants, Scully.  This
protection stuff is just an extra, added, bonus."

Mulder nimbly ducked the hairbrush that flew at his head, still
laughing.  In a moment, Scully was laughing, too.

"Just don't let me catch you bringing *this* date back to the room,
Mulder!  I've shot you before, and I can do it again!"


Hi Tso's Japanese Steak House
Lakewood Square Center
Chicago, IL
10:50 p.m.

"That was a wonderful meal, Duncan, thank you.  I'd never really tried
Japanese food before, but this was excellent.  How long did you live in

"Well, I've lived in Japan on two separate occasions.  The first time
was for only a few months, because Outsiders were killed on sight in
those days.  The second time was shortly after World War II, and I
stayed almost ten years, long enough to learn the language and study the
current state of martial arts."

He speaks so casually of his long life, Dana thought.  "What's it like,
Duncan?  Being Immortal, I mean?"

The handsome face smiled, but it looked like a forced smile, as he
considered where to begin.  How does one, anyone, explain their life to
another?  And how does one summarize four hundred years of experience
for an ephemeral?

"It's not the wonderful thing that Ponce d'Leon dreamed of, I can tell
you that.  I've had the opportunity to see and do many wondrous and
beautiful things, but at a price.  Always at a price."

"And what is that price, Duncan?"

"Lost Love.  Ruined happiness.  The many terrible things I've seen,
lived through, and done.  Seeing war, hunger and poverty rise up, again
and again, to dash my dreams and the hopes of mankind.  Watching most of
the people I've come to love grow old and die, always leaving me
behind.  Knowing I'll never have children of my own.  Feeling cynicism,
and pessimism, and hopelessness creep in and try to fill my life.
Everything you might see as a benefit of long life also has its
down-side and its price.  Often I wonder if it's really worth it, and
whether I'd have chosen it, if I'd been given a choice."

"You can't have children, Duncan?"

"No.  I've adopted children many times, and raised a few strays like
Ritchie, but Immortals cannot have children, even before we die the
first time.  All we can do is practice!"

Dana avoided Duncan's eyes, and the sad memories she knew would be
reflected there, and instead, looked out the window and across the
street.  There was a carnival, or a circus, set up in a park over
there.  Childhood memories of Merry - Go - Rounds and elephants flooded
her thoughts.

"Duncan, could we go over there?"


Kiley Brothers Traveling Carnival
Lakewood Square Park
Chicago, IL
10:45 p.m.

Mulder was having an excellent time strolling down the carnival midway.
He and Amanda had already seen the acrobats and animal acts, and were
now headed to see the high-wire performers.  Apparently someone in the
troupe was an old friend of Amanda's.  Mulder wondered how old, but
didn't ask.

He had already eaten a Giant Pepperoni Roll, an Elephant Ear, and had
two Frosty Lemon Splashes.  He was currently working on his second Giant
Sirloin Sandwich, and between bites of deep-fried ambrosia, Amanda was
feeding him Spicy Curly Fries with her fingers.  Amanda?  Now here was a
fun date!

The lady immortal seemed more like sixteen than several hundred (she was
still being evasive about her exact age), in the best possible ways.
She wanted to see everything, do everything, and was definitely enjoying
everything.  Mulder hadn't seen a smile leave her face since she had,
very demurely, allowed him to purchase their tickets at the entrance.
In all that time, she hadn't whined, complained, or criticized anyone or
anything.  She was just intent on having a good time, and including
Mulder in on her private carnival fun-fest.  He had watched in awe as
she consumed mass quantities of Giant Cotton Candy, Cheese On A Stick,
Italian Sausage On A Stick, and Waffle Cakes.  The woman was a lady
after his own heart, gastronomically speaking, anyway.

He wouldn't have traded the effervescent Amanda for his more reserved
Scully in a million years, still, it was fun to appreciate the
differences.  Where Scully was reserved pastels and earth tones, Amanda
was boldly Back & White.  Where Scully was calming and serene, Amanda
was exciting and challenging to the senses.  Where Scully was quietly
mysterious and sensual, Amanda was boldly and wildly sexual.  Scully
would have handed him the bag of Spicy Curly Fries and left him to
juggle his food alone.  Amanda made an almost erotic game out of feeding
him the bits of fried potato one by one, and taking every opportunity to
touch his lips and face.  And, my!  She was certainly a pleasure to look

In deference to the cool evening, Amanda was covered from head to toe.
Despite that, she gave Mulder the impression of being even more skimpily
dressed that she had been at Scully's victory party.  She wore a clingy
jet-black jumpsuit with pleated pants tucked into mid-calf black leather
boots.  Her top had a high neckline with a slouched hood that Amanda
kept pulled up over her short black hair.  The fit, both top and bottom,
made Mulder wonder if parts had been painted on.  The outfit emphasized
her height, which was only a fraction less than Mulder's, and her slim
lines.  Mulder thought she could have passed for a carnival performer:
an acrobat or a high-wire walker, and he told her so.  She laughed, of

"Well, Mulder, I am a circus performer from time to time, and I do have
a high-wire act, but I assure you I wear much less than this when I
perform.  Over the years I've done acrobatic acts, trapeze,
sword-swallowing, and even a contortionist act." She paused and looked
meaningfully at Mulder.  "I'm very flexible, you know."

Mulder laughed, almost choking on Giant Sirloin, and prompting Amanda to
pound him on the back as she laughed with him.  As far as Mulder was
concerned, her claim to be a contortionist was not as interesting as her
mention of sword-swallowing: what an appealing talent in a woman.  And
maybe, he thought, that explains where she's hiding her sword tonight.

"You could be a little more flexible, you know, and let me call you Fox
.  .  .  "

They were surrounded by the numbing drone of a hundred voices speaking
simultaneously, and the roar of midway rides and shrieking children.
Combined with the sizzle of cooking food, the hiss of soft drink
dispensers, and the nearby traffic, the racket made it hard to even talk
at times.  Even so, there is a sound unmistakable to Fox Mulder: the
triple bark of a Smith and Wesson 1056 automatic, firing a standard
3-shot salvo.  Given the location and situation, and a sixth sense born
of fatalism, pessimism, and a dash of sheer bad luck, it could only mean
Scully was nearby, and in trouble.

With his first step in the direction of the sound, the remains of the
Giant Sirloin and the Frosty Lemon Splash were tossed toward a trash
barrel.  On his second step, the twin sister of Scully's 1056 was in
Mulder's right hand.  On his third and forth steps, he was reaching for
his runner's stride.  With his fifth step, Agent Fox Mulder was at full
tilt, and scanning the crowd ahead of him as he searched for his
partner.  Somewhere ahead of him and to the right, he could hear the
first screams starting at the sight of his drawn weapon, so he started
fishing for his badge.  He hastily hung the badge and ID from the breast
pocket of his leather jacket.


Amanda puzzled as her companion took off, since she hadn't heard a
thing.  But this guy was supposed to be a trained FBI agent, and
probably didn't pull his gun for kicks, so, she reasoned, I guess I
should follow.  The remaining Spicy Curly Fries followed the arc of
Mulder's trash toward the barrel, and Amanda launched after Mulder
through the shrieking crowds.  He was easy to follow, since a running
man with a gun tended to leave a wake.


Kiley Brothers Traveling Carnival
Near the Snow Cone vender
11:02 p.m.

As Scully tried to bite into the Giant Snow Kone that Duncan had just
handed her, a hand came seemingly out of nowhere.  It grabbed her free
arm and jerked her into the space between the snow cone vendor and a
nearby Crystal Ice truck.  As she fought to recover her balance, despite
the powerful drag on her arm, she saw a slender man in biker clothes
with a switchblade in his free hand.

Dana did what any self-respecting martial artist might do.  She threw
the Giant Snow Kone into her assailant's face, and kicked upward between
his legs.

At the sound of a scuffle, Duncan had swung around to see Dana disappear
into the space beside the truck, and he had reacted by taking the first
two steps in her direction.  At that same moment, the "buzz" of another
Immortal hit him.  He immediately pivoted in place to check his back and
sides before continuing into the narrow space after Dana.  He collided
with Dana, who was exiting that same space at high speed, and tugging a
weapon from under the back of her jeans jacket.  Over her head, he could
see a figure in leather, bent double in the cramped space as if about to
be sick; he laughed as it dawned what had happened.

Dana wondered what MacLeod was chuckling about as she recovered her
balance against his chest and looked back at her assailant.  As the
biker started to recover, she raised her weapon, but MacLeod stepped
past her, blocking her field of fire.  As the assailant tried to pull a
gun from his jacket pocket, MacLeod stepped into him.  Duncan twisted
the gun arm to the side with a decided "crunch - snap" sound effect, and
then hit the man in the face with the back of his right hand.  The
would-be attacker dropped to the ground like a dropped sack of
potatoes.  MacLeod watched the crumpled form for a second, probably to
be sure he wasn't getting up, and then looked back at her anxiously.

"Dana, I can sense another Immortal nearby.  Let's get back to the car."

Dana knew that MacLeod had locked his sword in the trunk of the car when
they arrived at the restaurant.  She understood that if MacLeod was
sensing Thomas, he wanted to be armed.  She nodded acceptance of the

"Give me a minute to call in backup; I don't want a pitched battle in
the middle of this crowd, and I don't want him sneaking out."

Dana also retrieved their attacker's switchblade and .38 revolver and
stashed them in her jacket pockets for evidence, and in case the thug
came around.  She flashed her badge at a passing security officer (who
says there's never a cop around when you want one) and asked him to
supervise the scene.  Using her cellular phone and her FBI ID she
contacted Lt.  MacDaniels, their contact at the Chicago P.D., keeping
the security guard within earshot.

"Lieutenant, our serial killer is somewhere inside the carnival grounds
at, uh, ("Where are we, officer?" "Lakewood Park.") Lakewood Park.  I
believe he's here for another try at Agent Mulder and myself, so he's
going to hang around.  I'd like you to set up a perimeter around the
park, and start evacuating the civilians ASAP.  This time, he's brought
armed help.  I have one suspect down at .  .  .  ("Aisle six, row
thirteen, ma'am.") Aisle six, row thirteen under supervision of an
Officer Canardo."

After an unusually short Q&A with Lt.  MacDaniels, Dana was assured of
the requested backup and was free to focus on their next moves: back to
the car to arm MacLeod, and call in Mulder.  As they hurried across the
carnival toward the parking lot near the midway, Dana tried to dial her
partner with her left hand, even as she dragged out her Smith & Wesson
automatic with her right.

MacLeod, meanwhile, was casting about for any sight of the Immortal he
could still faintly sense.  Since MacLeod's "buzz" from the other
Immortal was holding steady, he figured they were being stalked.  Their
unseen pursuer must have been pacing them, probably by following a
parallel course down a nearby aisle of vendor stands.  Try as he might,
Duncan could catch no sight of anyone shadowing their path, either to
the sides or behind.  Unexpectedly, he bumped into Dana again as the
agent skidded suddenly to a stop and assumed a firing stance.


Ahead and slightly to their left, a leather jacketed figure stepped out
from behind a stack of fountain syrup canisters behind a food stand, and
raised a weapon.  Dropping her cell phone, Dana braced and fired three
times, catching the man square in the chest with all three rounds.
Grabbing her cell phone, Dana started running, without hesitation, for
the parking lot.

Dana gasped at Duncan while running flat out, with MacLeod loping along
side, his longer legs pacing Dana without effort.

"It has to be Thomas!  And he's brought.  Help this time!  Can you tell
if the man.  I just shot was.  An immortal?"

"That was no Immortal, but there's still one nearby that I can't sight."

The running pair broke clear of the vending area and entering a wooded
lot that separated the carnival area from the parking lot.  Before
they'd taken a dozen more steps, another figure ran out of the vending
area about two rows to their left.  The silhouette against the carnival
lights was familiar to Dana.

"It's him!" she snapped, as she skidded to a stop again, and turned to
face the big Immortal who was about seventy-five feet away.  Too far for
a sure hit, and too many civilians for any kind of miss, she thought.  I
hope he intends to fight it out hand - to - hand again.  From this
distance she could see no gun, but then, she could see no sword, and she
knew there had to be one.  In her peripheral vision, she saw more
figures run clear of the vending stands, and she risked a quick look in
their direction.  She saw another familiar silhouette.

"MULDER!  OVER HERE!" she called, surprise mixing with relief.

Unfortunately, when Dana looked back, Bradley Thomas had disappeared.
She lowered her weapon and began scanning the area as her partner and
Amanda ran up.  Scully immediately started catching Mulder up on the
last few minutes' events as she watched for any reappearance of Thomas.
In the distance, they could hear the sirens of Chicago P.D.  backup
units on their way.  Dana got out her battered cell phone and contacted
the Chicago FBI Field Office, and requested additional backup from

Meanwhile, MacLeod had continued to his car, which was parked less than
a hundred feet away in the lot, and retrieved two swords from the
trunk.  He trotted back toward them, also scanning across the wooded
area for any sign of Bradley Thomas.

As Dana got off the phone, Mulder asked his standard question.

"Scully, are you sure you're O.K.?"

Dana gave her standard response.

"I'm fine, Mulder."

The partners were together again.

MacLeod stopped beside Amanda and handed her a sword.

"Not your usual blade, Amanda, but you look naked without one."

"You sweet-talker, MacLeod!  And thank you, mine is in Mulder's car on
the other side of the park."

The Immortals were armed.

"O.K., then; let's find this guy and kick some butt," suggested Mulder.

The Hunt was on.


Kiley Brothers Traveling Carnival
Near the Carousel
2:05 a.m.

The park normally closed at midnight, anyway, so the police had little
trouble clearing the park.  Several patrol cars were parked around the
park entrances, but the Lieutenant in charge was convinced their suspect
was long gone, and had already pulled most of his men off to better
assignments.  Duncan and Amanda knew better, however.  Their quarry had
gone to ground somewhere in the park; they had each sensed his presence
several times as the park was being cleared.  Fortunately, Mulder had
persuaded the assigned FBI units to stay in position, encircling the
park to prevent Bradley Thomas from leaving.

With the park clear of civilians, including park staff and employees,
the four comrades at arms were slowly quartering the park in loose
formation.  Whenever Amanda or Duncan sensed their prey, they closed
ranks.  Amanda watched left, Duncan right, Dana on point, and Mulder
watched their rear.

They had been traversing the park for almost an hour when two shots rang
out, breaking the eerie semi-silence of the park.  Fatigue forgotten,
four figures dived for the shadows of an amusement ride.

"Those came from the top of the Haunted House," said Mulder.  "I saw the
flash.  That's some large caliber gun he's got there, probably a .44
calibre.  And he's got an almost unassailable position.  We're going to
need a Special Tactics team to get him down.  If that's not really
Thomas up there, the real bad guy is gonna sneak away while we waste
time here for the next two hours!"

Amanda peeked around the side of a supporting leg for the Tilt - A -
Whirl and considered the possible approaches.  Not very hard, really.
Amanda slipped the rope belt out of her jumpsuit, and used it to rig a
sling so she could carry her sword across her back, leaving her hands

"Listen, Mulder.  If you can give me some covering fire to draw his
attention, I can climb the Parachute ride next door, cross that support
cable, drop onto the roof behind him, and take him out."

Mulder looked up at the ride and support cable, then back at his
dark-haired date with frank disbelief.  Acrobat or no acrobat, he
couldn't conceive of anyone willingly doing what Amanda had just
proposed.  Just as he realized that falling probably didn't hold the
same fear for an Immortal as for FBI agents, he felt MacLeod's hand on
his shoulder and turned to face the other Immortal.

"She can do it, Mulder, trust us.  That rooftop is a walk in the park
compared to other places I've seen Amanda tackle.  This is her element;
let her have a shot."

When in Rome, Mulder shrugged.  It appeared she was taking off with or
without his approval, anyway.

"O.K., Amanda.  Need anything special from us?"

"Just a kiss for luck, Mulder, and enough fire to keep his attention
forward of the building."

Amanda gave Mulder a quick buzz on the lips, too quick for him to
consider dodging, even if he'd wanted.  Scully rolled her eyes and
looked away.  Amanda's dark form merged with the shadows to their right,
the glitter of the sword slung across her back the only clue to her
passage.  In a moment, they saw her reach a position near the Parachute
ride, and wave.

"OK, Scully.  Covering fire.  I start."

Alternating, the two agents slowly and methodically took turns popping
up and firing at their overhead sniper, taking care not to fall into any
detectable pattern.  In response, they drew several return rounds that
plowed the ground near their position, or ricocheted from the
surrounding machinery.  Between shots, they watched Amanda climb the
Parachute central support tower, and then walk almost casually across a
steel cable mooring the tall ride to a tree behind the Haunted House.
As she reached her nearest approach to the Haunted House roof, she
stopped, calmly unslung her sword, and holding the sword out to her
side, simply stepped off.  Mulder caught his breath as he watched her
fall about twenty feet, and out of sight.

"It's O.K., folks.  Amanda knows what she's doing." Duncan didn't seem
worried, and that reassured the partners.

Sure enough, about two minutes after Amanda had last disappeared, they
heard a shout, a scream, and a heavy thud.  Checking around the edge of
his cover, Mulder saw a body laying in the dust in front of the Haunted
House.  Amanda stood at the edge of the roof, looking down.

"It isn't Thomas; it's another goon," she called from the rooftop.
"This one didn't want to come peacefully, so I hit him.  The fall was an
accident, I swear!  Is he dead?"

Scully approached carefully, keeping the crumpled form covered with her
automatic, and touched the man's neck for a moment.  She relaxed her
stance, and then looked up toward Amanda.

"His neck is broken.  He's dead."

"Too bad," offered Amanda from the rooftop, but without much sympathy in
her voice.  "Hey, Mac!  Catch!"

So saying, Amanda jumped from the roof toward MacLeod, scaring Mulder
and Scully a second time.  MacLeod reached up to help break Amanda's
fall as she thumped to the ground in front of him, flexing her legs and
sinking almost to the ground to absorb the shock.  She straightened, and
the four looked each other over in silence for a moment.  They had
survived a battle together.

"I wonder how many guys Thomas hired?" Dana asked, looking around the
group.  Only shrugs answered her question.

Mulder dug a couple of sunflower seeds out of his leather jacket's
pocket, as he looked around and considered their next move.

"He must have hired these guys as cannon fodder and just turned them
loose on us to whittle down the numbers.  He's sure to want Duncan and
Amanda for himself, but he probably figured Dana and I could be taken
out by the hired help.  He probably never figured on tackling all four
of us together."

"Thomas is still here, Mulder," offered Duncan.  "I know this kind of
man, and he wouldn't run just because of the police.  Amanda and I have
both sensed someone, and it has to be him.  Anything else would be just
too much coincidence."

Looking around their small group, Mulder saw no reluctance to continue.
Saying nothing else, they turned away from the cooling body to resume
their search.


2:47 a.m.

.  .  .


"Yeah, Mulder?

"How do you do that thing with the sword?"

"What thing do you mean?"

"Well, like when you caught Amanda after her jump.  You had both hands
free.  A few seconds later, you had your sword back in your hands."


"When I was talking to the police to get the perimeter set up, both you
and Amanda were showing no weapons; Amanda, especially, has no place to
hide a sword.  And Scully told me that in the parking lot the other
night, your sword was laying on the ground one second, and then it was
missing the next.  How do you do it?  How do you lug a thing that size
around, and have it disappear from sight whenever it's convenient, and
have it reappear whenever you need it?"

"It's an Immortal thing; you wouldn't understand."

"I'm a bright guy; try me."

"You know how a magician works?  Always getting his audience to look at
the hand he wants, and getting them to overlook what the other hand is


"It's like that."

"You're right; I don't understand."

.  .  .


2:57 a.m.

Fatigue was starting to get to all of them.  Dana could read the strain
on her partner's face, as well as Amanda and MacLeod.  If was probably
already dangerous to be stalking a killer in their condition, but if the
Immortals were not present to sense Thomas, he might get past FBI or
Chicago P.D.  replacements.  This needed to be resolved soon.

Just then, Amanda and MacLeod stopped in concert and assumed a listening
posture; Mulder and Scully paused to watch.  Amanda swung to their left
and pointed.  Duncan's eyes tracked in the direction of her outstretched
finger, and nodded.  Amanda turned to Mulder and gestured toward The
Terror Train.

"We think he's over there, Mulder, near the roller coaster.  For
certain, he's within about 100 feet, but sometimes we can't reliably
sense direction.  I suggest we split up, and you and I circle around
back.  Then I'll know for sure."

Mulder nodded, and motioned for Amanda to lead.  He had already
rationalized that she was far more experienced at this business than he;
it made sense to follow her lead.  He briefly touched Dana's shoulder as
he passed, and then he followed Amanda into the shadows.

MacLeod watched Scully watching her partner, and decided to settle a
private bet.

"Mulder cares for you a great deal, Dana.  Is it really purely

Surprising herself, Dana decided to answer.  He was, after all, her date
for the evening.

"We don't sleep together, Duncan, if that's what you mean.  We're
partners, and the work we do gets in the way of any kind of normal
life.  Maybe that'll change one day, but for now, being partners is hard

Dana paused to consider the truth of her own words.  They would have to
do; it was the best explanation she had to offer.  She shook off the
threatening melancholy with a toss of her head.

"Meanwhile," she changed the subject, "what say we get a little closer
to that coaster, so we can back them up quicker if there's trouble?"


Behind the Roller Coaster
3:05 a.m.

Amanda and Mulder reached the back of the roller coaster area by dashing
from one area of cover to the next, alternating and passing one another
on each turn.  At each stop, they probed the surrounding shadows with
eyes, ears, and Amanda's strengthening "buzz".  Amanda was now sure they
had placed their quarry between themselves and Scully/MacLeod.  As they
drew nearer and nearer to an equipment trailer parked under the rear of
the coaster supports, Amanda grew more certain that Thomas lay hidden
under, behind, or atop the aluminum structure.  Silently, because they
were too close to their prey for speaking aloud, Amanda motioned for
Mulder to circle right, as she circled left.

Mulder advanced to the right side of the trailer, and slipped down
behind the rear wheels of a flatbed trailer used to carry some of the
portable coaster's components.  The trailer that was the focus of their
attention was less than a dozen feet away, and light from the coaster
decorations faintly illuminated the area under the trailer on Mulder's
side.  No sign of Thomas.  Then, a glint of light to his right set off
alarm bells in his head.

Mulder threw himself backwards wildly, and by so doing, saved himself
from decapitation.  Mulder had time to realize that Thomas had been
hiding in the shadows of a set of utility poles behind the trailer.  In
his approach to his current position, Mulder had passed within three
feet of the hidden Immortal, who had then stalked him from behind.
Thomas' enormously long sword cut through the space previously occupied
by Mulder's neck, still passing so close to Mulder's face that he felt
the breeze of the passing blade.

As he fell backwards, Mulder brought up his automatic and fired twice in
the general direction of Thomas' head, more for distraction than in
hopes of a hit.  In a lucky break for Mulder, Thomas had started
pivoting when Mulder threw himself out of harm's way, and now Thomas
pivoted directly into Mulder's slightly shaky line of fire.  One of the
9mm slugs tore into the Immortal's right shoulder, checking his motion.
As Mulder slammed into the ground and tried to steady his aim, the big
figure paused and roared in pain and anger.

Mulder fired twice more, still unsure of his aim, but again trying to
distract, and hoping for a repeat of his previous luck.  His second
salvo went high and to the right.  As he finally settled onto his back
and steadied his aim, his huge attacker shook off the shock of the first
hit, and leaped to the left in a diving roll.  Mulder was forced to roll
to his left and sit up to regain sight of his intended target.  As he
did so, pain bit into his back from a discarded and smashed bottle under
his left shoulder; Mulder felt a "pop" as a shard of glass punched
through his jacket and cut into the flesh between his shoulder blades.

Trying to focus through the stab of pain, Mulder fought to swing his gun
hand around to bear on Thomas, as the Immortal regained his feet and
advanced.  As Mulder was about to fire a third time, he checked

Amanda launched herself onto and over the hood of a truck parked
directly behind Bradley Thomas.  As her adversary started for the prone
FBI agent, she landed with both feet on the back of the attacker, just
at the base of the man's thick neck.  As she landed, she also punched
out with her feet, increasing the impact of the blow by an order of
magnitude.  Thomas lost his grip on his sword, which flew to Amanda's
right, lost his footing and fell forward toward Mulder.

Amanda tucked and rolled in midair, landing on her feet.  Mulder rolled
violently to his right, feeling the glass shard tear out of his back and
jacket, but he avoided being under Thomas as the big form crashed to the
ground like a felled tree.  Mulder completed a second roll, just for
good measure, and pushed himself up to a sitting position to survey the

Mulder saw Amanda standing on the far side of Thomas, sword held at the
ready and attention focused on the fallen form.  Dana and MacLeod came
running up from the right of the supply trailer, and were rounding the
transport trailer toward Mulder.  Thomas was trying to push himself up
from his prone position, obviously heavily stunned by Amanda's kick and
his unbroken fall.

The gang's all here, he thought.


3:11 a.m.

When she heard the shots from Mulder's weapon, Dana had broken into a
run.  Duncan swept past her as if she were strolling, and went over the
top of the long flatbed trailer that separated them from Amanda, Mulder,
and Thomas.  As Scully rounded the rear of the trailer, she almost
stepped on Thomas's huge sword, and stopped to grab it up.  The weight
of the blade was almost too much for Dana to manage in one hand, but she
held on grimly and continued toward her partner.

As she reached Mulder's side, she watched Amanda and Duncan bracket the
fallen Immortal between them as Thomas struggled to his hands and
knees.  Their friends looked undecided about how to proceed, and were
shifting their gaze back and forth between each other and Thomas'
struggling form.  Meanwhile, Bradley Thomas steadied himself on his
hands and knees, facing away from the other Immortals and toward Dana
and her partner.  His face came up to look at them, and it twisted into
a mask of rage and frustration.

"You!" he bellowed, and he shifted his weight onto his left arm, and
used his right to reach under his jacket.

Seeing Thomas' movement, Duncan and Amanda advanced.  Mulder brought up
his gun to sight on Thomas' face and waited for the hidden weapon to
appear.  Dana activated the safety on her weapon, a sound clearly
audible to Mulder from only a foot away.  It was an incongruous action
that drew his eyes, despite the danger, to his partner, who stood over
him in a defensive stance.

As Mulder watched, Dana slipped her automatic into her jacket pocket,
and hefted Thomas's sword to a vertical position with both hands.  Her
stance reminded Mulder of watching her play in the bureau's annual
intramural softball game.  As Thomas withdrew his hand from concealment,
exposing the metallic glint of a handgun, Dana stepped forward and swung
downwards, putting so much of her weight into the stroke that the
follow-through drug her to her knees.

In Mulder's eidetic memory, the scene was frozen in that single instant
of time.



Chapter Twelve
The Party's Over

Final Field Report
Case No. XJ13567
Special Agent Fox Mulder
Special Agent Dana Scully

This case began with a series of six murders in Buffalo, New York (ref:
Buffalo, N.Y.  P.D.  case numbers 96-128-4414, 96-129-1315, et.  al.,
attached).  The murders were recognized as related, and considered
unusual, by the local investigators for two reasons: the victims were
killed by decapitation, and there was evidence of major electrical
discharge at each murder scene.  Believing that the case involved a
serial killer using some unusual weaponry, the Buffalo FBI Field Office
was contacted for support by the Buffalo P.D..  The judgment was made by
Buffalo SAC Devon that local FBI staff lacked the requisite areas of
expertise for handling the case, and requested assistance from FBI HQ.

Due to the unusual circumstances of the case, and due to the expertise
of X-Files Department Head Fox Mulder in the investigation of serial
killings, the case was assigned to the X-Files Department by Assistant
Director Walter Skinner.  Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were
the assigned investigators.

Investigation at the Buffalo crime scenes confirmed the preliminary
findings, including, in one case, the interview of a near-witness (see
Buffalo Field Interview 66-17-2, attached) to a sword fight between the
victim and the supposed murder, and to an electrical discharge
phenomenon at the time of death.  Specifically, the witness heard the
clash of metal on metal and drew the inference of a sword fight
unprompted, and also saw the reflection of flashing light and heard
electrical-like sounds.

Special Note: despite circumstantial evidence of these electrical
discharges, no evidence was ever found confirming or explaining such
events or their relationship to the case.  The apparent electrical
damage to automobiles near the murder scenes provided the nearest
equivalent to physical evidence, but alternate explanations were offered
by the initial investigators (see Buffalo, N.Y.  original Field Reports,
96-128-4414-01/03, et.  al., attached ).  All areas in which the
purported "lightning" occurred were outside, in large open areas subject
to contamination by weather and vandalism.  One murder scene was located
directly under high-tension power lines, which required extensive repair
shortly thereafter and may have, in fact, been the source of some kind
of electrical activity.  Despite initial reports to the contrary, even
circumstantial evidence of electrical discharge was missing at four of
the six scenes.  The Buffalo "witness" to an electrical disturbance was
a homeless, alcoholic, street person, judged by the investigating agents
to be an unreliable witness, at best.  In the opinion of the X-File
investigators, the reports and evidence of electrical disturbances are
unrelated and/or inconsequential in this case.

Autopsies of the Buffalo victims (see Forensics Report 44-5667,
attached) uncovered chemical anomalies in three of the bodies.  These
anomalies are still being researched by Forensics Research (project id
tj-1667-3990) but are of no apparent relevance to the case.  Of direct
relevance were similar mutilations on the left inner wrist of three
victims, and traces of blue ink consistent with that used in tattooing.
The suspected presence of tattoos, tied with research into the victim's
histories, provided a tie to International Assets, Inc., a
pseudo-fraternal organization of historians and antique art collectors.
Many members of this organization sport a bluebird-in-a-circle tattoo on
the inside of their left wrists.  The identification, collection, and
auctioning of historical weaponry, especially swords (see Supplemental
Research Report, 46-46- 66, attached), are major parts of this
organization's activities.

Working closely with the management of International Assets, Inc.  (see
organization summary in Chicago Field Interview 67-18-05) relationships
where established between International Assets and every victim; every
victim was a current or previous employee, subcontractor, or consultant
of the organization.  Further, ties were established to additional
deaths, under identical circumstances, that occurred in: Puerto Kalnada,
Argentina ( two victims, case file at-1556, attached); Delnar, Texas (
four victims, case file the-5663, attached); and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
(two victims, case file QBY-771775, attached).  Reviews of current and
past members and employees of International Assets were begun,
attempting to link all victims, and the use of swords.

While in Chicago to interview and work with the North American
management of International Assets (see Chicago Field Interview
67-18-02, et.  al, "Joseph Dawson", attached), Special Agents Mulder and
Scully participated in a high-speed pursuit of a suspect leaving the
scene of an illegal search of the Agents' temporary accommodations (see
Chicago Crime Report 1346-78-1847, attached).  The suspect eluded the
Chicago and FBI personnel, and a fifteenth murder victim was discovered,
fitting all previously identified victim profile parameters.

Shortly thereafter, Agent Scully was attacked, by a perpetrator wielding
a sword, in a Chicago parking lot (see Chicago Crime Report
1346-78-3500, attached); shots were fired and minor damage occurred to
several automobiles (see Victim of Crime report 47-14-4402, attached).
After investigation by Chicago P.D., Agent Scully was released without
charges.  Agent Scully was then able to positively identify the
attacker, from the International Assets, Inc.  employee records, as one
"Bradley Thomas".  Thomas was found to have a long history of
involvement with mercenary organizations, and to be an expert fencer, as
well as having jumped bail on an assault charge in Washington State (see
Fugitive Report FR-13167-149638, attached).  Photographs of Thomas were
distributed to Chicago P.D.  and FBI personnel, Federal and Illinois
warrants were obtained for Thomas's arrest, and APB was issued

It is believed, but not substantiated, that Bradley Thomas had access to
International Assets, Inc.  employee records, and was acting out
resentment against the organization.  This hostility was based on a
decision by the International Assets Board of Directors to discontinue
contracts with Thomas due to rumors of violent and illegal activities on
Thomas' part (see I.A.  Board of Directors Minutes, item #11,
attached).  Said contracts were for the location and recovery of certain
historical artifacts.  It is further believed that Thomas was stalking
International Assets North American Director Joe Dawson and observed
Dawson's interaction with Agents Mulder and Scully, leading to the
search of their rooms, the attack on Agent Scully in the parking lot at
Dawson's place of business, and a final attack on both agents in a
Chicago amusement park (see Chicago Crime Report 1348-44-3591,

The amusement park attack also involved three additional perpetrators
hired by Thomas for the occasion.  Aided by two civilians with advanced
fencing and martial arts training (casual acquaintances of Agents Mulder
and Scully, present by happenstance at a public social activity), three
of the attackers (including Thomas) were killed, and the fourth injured,
during a confrontation involving small arms and hand-to-hand combat
among all eight parties.  During the confrontation, several uninvolved
civilians received minor injuries and there was extensive property
damage to an amusement park ride (see Federal Victim of Crime report
47-14-5677, attached) due to the shorting of electrical supply lines
severed by fire from Bradley Thomas' handgun.  Agents Mulder, Scully,
and the two civilians were released without charges after investigation
by Chicago P.D.  and FBI Internal Affairs authorities.

Legal action in the fifteen individual murder cases is still pending;
all are expected to be closed by the respective local authorities.  No
other charges have been filed against any participants in this case, and
none are anticipated.

Civil claims against the Bureau for property damage in Chicago are being
settled by the Legal Department under the status of "Prudent and
Justified, No Agent Action Anticipated".  No civilian personal injury
claims have been filed, but the Legal Department advises that no grounds
exist for any extraordinary legal actions against Agents Mulder and
Scully, or the Bureau.

It is the recommendation of the investigating agents that this case be
closed and its status modified to "Resolved, Perpetrator Deceased".  No
extraordinary circumstances exist which warrant any further
investigation by the X-Files Department.

                              Special Agent Fox Mulder
                              Special Agent Dana Scully


J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.
7:45 p.m.

Left to its own devices and sensibilities, the FBI would probably never
stage a formal social event of any kind; the law-enforcement mentality
is very work-oriented, conservative, and tends toward parties at the
corner Irish bar.  Unfortunately, the FBI is rarely left alone by the
political forces that, ultimately, shape and direct its activities.

Especially vulnerable to the pomp and circumstance that is American
politics, FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  is often the site of
lavish dinners where the true fare of the evening is not the food, but
rather, internal and foreign policy of the U.S.  Government.  Consider:
one of the FBI's responsibilities is the training of political
appointees to positions of influence within the Department of Justice.
It is also responsible for providing training to law-enforcement
personnel, both field personnel and administrative staff, at every level
of local, state, and federal government; training foreign police
operatives; investigating the backgrounds of candidates and appointees
for political offices; combating the import and sales of illegal drugs;
and combating internal and external threats of terrorism.  It is small
wonder that the Special Agents of the FBI, lowly cops at heart, often
find themselves thrown into the presence of political infighting under
the pretense of "having a good time".

Such was the case on this cool spring evening, as Agents Dana Scully and
Fox Mulder found themselves attending a formal dinner and dancing
reception for their new boss, Kevin Spencer, newly appointed and
confirmed Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  A huge
multi-purpose room, usually partitioned into a number of smaller
meeting, training, and storage rooms, had been opened up into a passable
imitation of a grand banquet hall.  An 18-piece band was still setting
up at one end of the room, while a crowd milled about over the dance
floor that had been installed especially for the occasion.  Politicking,
career-advancement, networking and smoozing of all kinds were in full

It seemed FBI personnel had never heard the phrase "fashionably late",
since it appeared that everybody was already present, fifteen minutes
early.  A few people had already taken seats at the tables that
surrounded the dance floor on three sides, but most were on their feet
and whispering about office gossip, recent cases, and who had shown up
with whom.  When agents Mulder and Scully had shown up, there was a
small stir; when it became apparent they were together, the stir picked
up considerable steam.

The FBI rumor mill had been working overtime concerning the X-Files
staff for years.  Both agents were admired professionally, and the
department's closure rate was the best in the bureau.  But both agents
had developed a mystique over the years as "Mr and Mrs.  Spooky of the
X-Files department", the "Twilight Zone of the FBI", the agents that
"Trust No One".  The office betting pool had odds on them sleeping
together secretly, and had established an unofficial "bounty" for proof
in the affirmative.

Agent Mulder was aware of the gossip, but ignored the talk except when
he was in a mood to fan the flames.  Once he'd tried to convince Scully
to pose for pictures with him, so they could collect and split the
"sleeping together" pool; Dana had demurred.  But tonight he was too
involved to care about the gossip; for the first time in his career, he
was looking forward to a social event with his co-workers.  He looked
out over the sea of black tuxedos and reflected that the view, as far as
the men were concerned, looked little different than a normal work day.
Just replace standard dark ties with back bow ties, and the standard
dark jackets with goofy monkey-suits, and voila!  But the women, oh my!
There was absolutely nothing stuffy about the female staff of the FBI,
nor the wives and female companions that the upper ranks were permitted
to invite.  Since the event had not been made a family affair for
everyone, Mulder wondered if he was going to have to fight for Scully's
time on the dance floor.  She was also, he noted, the most beautiful
woman in the room.

He turned and looked again, just to be sure.  Yep, no doubt about it.
His partner was wearing a pale green satin dress (a match for the
underwear he'd seen in her room?  Suppose she was wearing the whole
matched set?  Nope; no room for a bra under that dress!).  The gown's
color stood in perfect contrast with her pale skin and auburn hair.  The
neckline exposed as much cleavage as it could, without looking tawdry;
Dana had good taste.  And the back!  The back was cut so low that Mulder
couldn't stop looking, and was imagining where his hands would be while
they danced.  With her spectacular auburn hair in a French Braid, her
lovely throat and neck were exposed to full view, and made Mulder think
of porcelain and alabaster.  Whoa, Mulder!  Down boy!  Still, dammit,
she was beautiful, and for once, he was determined to make sure she knew
it, and knew he knew it.  No pulling punches tonight; no jokes.

Fox moved a step closer to his partner, to be sure they were not

"Scully, did I remark on your dress when I picked you up?"

"Well, actually, Mulder, I think you might have mumbled something like
"nice"; but from the stunned look on your face I just assumed you liked
it a lot.  Was I wrong?"

"Scully, sometimes I'm a buffoon, but tonight I have an excuse.  Earlier
I was completely tongue-tied in your presence.  I have now recovered
sufficiently to say that you are undoubtedly and indisputably the most
beautiful woman in the room, bar none.  And I consider myself the
luckiest man here tonight, just to be your escort."

Dana stood silently and considered her partner's words, and searched his
face for a hint of his hidden meaning.  Seeing nothing except sincerity
caused a warm and exciting glow to suffused her entire body.  She looked
into Fox's hazel eyes and saw a reflection of what must surely be
showing in her own.  She felt a twinge of regret for all the pain and
sorrow that had come to their lives over the years, but felt no regret
for standing beside this man and sharing his quest.  Life always takes
you to where you are now, she reflected, and right now I'm exactly where
I want to be, with exactly who I want to be with, and doing exactly what
I want to be doing.  At this moment, I'd do anything he asked, go
anywhere he wanted to go, and stay forever.  I wonder if he knows that?

My god, those eyes, thought Fox.  She always seems to look right into my
soul and see exactly what's hidden there.  Well, tonight there's nothing
there I wouldn't want to share, anyway, so go ahead and look, Dana!  I
hope you can see that tonight I'd do anything in the world for you!

Dana smiled a secret smile, faced her partner and leaned so close that
her cheek brushed the lapel of his tuxedo.  Fox leaned forward so that
his head was over her shoulder, trapping her against his chest with an
arm around her waist.  Guessing that she was about to whisper, he
lowered his head to bring his ear an inch from her mouth.  For a second
they stood so, feeling and appreciating each other's warmth, sharing
their scents and their breath, then Dana whispered.

"Thank you, Mulder, that was a very sweet thing to say.  And, since
you're probably wondering, yes, I'm wearing the other half of the
lingerie from Frohike, that set you found in my Chicago motel room.  If
you ever tell him, I'll hurt you badly!"

Fox Mulder's eye grew big and round at his partner's words.  He felt a
smile growing, and felt his entire body reacting, both to his partner's
proximity, and to the sultry tone of her words.  When he tried to
straighten, she pulled him back; Dana wasn't done.

"And you should also know that I was completely sober when you arrived
at my Victory Party at Joe's.  And I want you to know that I feel like
the luckiest woman here tonight, just to have you, the most handsome man
in the room, as my escort."

The way they were standing, with her head tucked into the space between
Mulder's jaw and shoulder, Dana knew she was partially hidden from the
view of curious eyes, so she took a chance.  Gently, and without a fuss,
she touched her lips to Fox's neck, just below his ear.  She felt an
answering shudder from her big partner, and smiled.

At Dana's words, Mulder had caught his breath and held it, trying
desperately to stop time long enough to savor the moment.  Then Dana
kissed him gently below the ear, and his breath came out in a startled
rush.  He finally straightened slowly and reluctantly, seeking his
partner's eyes.  When he caught them, they were full of laughter and .
.  .  other mysterious things that could wait to be explored another

"Excuse me?  Am I interrupting?"

The gruff voice of Walter Skinner sliced into their private universe and
drew them both back to reality.  Scully stepped away from her partner a
pace, and found her voice first.

"Hello, sir!  You're not interrupting; we were just whispering about the
latest office gossip.  The scuttlebutt says that you have a date
tonight!  Anyone we know?"

Their usually gruff superior looked extremely uncomfortable at Scully's
question, and she wondered if she'd committed a faux pas.  Maybe his
date didn't show up tonight, and he's embarrassed?

"Well, yes, I think you do know her.  That's why I cam over to talk; she
said she hadn't told you about coming tonight, because she wanted it to
be a surprise.  I thought that sounded like a bad idea, but you know
your mother when she gets an idea in her head .  .  .  "

Skinner saw Agent Scully's jaw drop open, her face loose all color, and
watched her step back into her partner as if for support in standing.
Oh, my, god!  he thought.  Margaret's never told her anything about us!
He checked Mulder's face, and saw only amusement.

"M-My mother?  My mother is your date?" stammered Dana.

"Yes, dear!  Walter was kind enough to bring me tonight so I could see
the two of you dance!  Wasn't that nice of him?" Dana's mother walked up
from the general direction of the coat room, and took Skinner's arm in a
familiar fashion.


Margaret Scully also noted the way her daughter was leaning against Fox
for support.  For the dozenth time, she wondered who these two thought
they were fooling.  Certainly not herself, or Walter!  But she realized
that right now the shock of seeing her mother out on a date must be
causing her daughter a great deal of distress.

"Dana, sweetheart, close your mouth; it's unbecoming.  You look upset;
is something wrong?"

Dana felt Mulder's hand come up and close over her shoulder.  She
realized at that moment that she was leaning heavily against Mulder for
support, and tried to restore her balance, both physical and mental.
Her mother?  Dating Skinner?  She listened, as if from a great distance,
as Mulder beat her to the punch with some coherent words.

"Mrs.  Scully, I'm delighted to see you here tonight; it's been too long
since Christmas.  How are you?" and he kissed the elder Scully woman on
the cheek.

"Very well, thank you, Fox!  And I must say, you are the handsomest of
all my sons in a tuxedo.  And such a nice tie!  You look very elegant;
almost as elegant as Dana."

Mulder grinned at mention of his bow tie; it was black behind a subtle
silver paisley pattern.  It matched his cummerbund and cufflinks, and
was far too subtle for his own tastes, but he was on his best behavior

"Exactly what I was telling Dana just a moment ago, Mrs.  Scully.  I
believe A.D.  Skinner and I have the most beautiful companions in the
room tonight.  Right, Sir?"

Walter looked over his two most dedicated agents for a second longer
before responding.  Who do those two think they're fooling, anyway?
Certainly not Margaret or me, and not most of their fellow agents; I've
heard them call Dana "Mrs.  Spooky" a number of times.  Maybe just
themselves, and not doing a very good job of that tonight, it appears!
Well, they've chosen a difficult path to follow!

"Yes, Agent Mulder, I believe you're right.  Shall we find a table
together, or have the two of you already reserved seats?" Better give
them an out, if they want to be on their own, he thought.

Seating protocol tonight, for everyone except the VIPS, was to pick up
their personalized seating card at the door, and place the name-card at
their choice of seat.  Mulder still had Dana and his cards in the pocket
of his tuxedo, pending choice of seating by Scully.  A glance at Scully
now told him that, yes, she would like to sit with her mother if he
thought he could tolerate Skinner and be nice.  He wasn't sure how he
got all that from a single glance, but there it was, none the less.
O.K.  He was just thinking about how he'd do anything for his partner,
right?  Well, Skinner didn't look too sure of this arrangement, either,
so maybe the first politic thing to do is return the offer of a way

"Sir, we've decided we'd like a table near the dance floor, since we
intend to be dancing a lot tonight.  But if that's too close to the
band, you know, the noise, then we'll understand .  .  ."

"Nonsense, Agent Mulder, next to the floor is fine.  We plan to be
dancing, too.  Let's pick out some prime seats before they disappear."

Dana and Fox exchanged looks again.  Skinner dancing?

The burly Assistant Director plowed a path through the crowd toward the
dance floor, and began to circle the dancing area looking for available
tables.  He quickly located a table right at the edge of the floor, and
staked a claim by seating Margaret Scully in the best seat.  Mulder
followed suit by seating Dana, and placing their name cards on the table
in front of them.  Mulder sat by his partner, but Skinner retained his

"You two already have drinks, I see.  Would you like something from the
bar, Margaret?"

After taking Margaret's order, AD Skinner disappeared into the crowd.
Dana turned to her mother and grinned broadly.  Mulder, who had been
expecting a row, relaxed as his partner showed she had regained her
usual composure.  Apparently her previous shock had been just, well,

"Mother!  Walter Skinner?  I knew you two had met a few times at the
hospital, but I had no idea you were seeing each other socially?  How
did this happen?"

Margaret Scully displayed the genetic source of Dana's blushing ability
as she quickly turned a rosy pink.  Obviously, she had not completely
come to terms with the arrangements either.

"Well, we talked on the telephone a few times while you were missing,
Dana, and a few more times while you were missing in New Mexico, Fox.
Then one day, he said "Margaret, I'm tired of only seeing you when
there's a tragedy brewing; let's go out", and so we did.  No big
mystery.  He seems like a very good-hearted man, Dana, and we've had a
lot of fun together.  And he's a good Catholic.  So.  I think your
father would have liked Walter, Dana."

And that, apparently, was that.  Dana nodded and patted her mother's
hand.  Fox wondered at his partner's calm, even as he was seeing the
source of her strength and self confidence.


8:45 p.m.

The band had begun playing shortly after Skinner returned to the table,
and after what Mulder thought was an amazingly brief welcome by the
Dance Committee, and an even more amazingly brief speech from their new
boss.  Maybe the guy wouldn't be so bad after all, not that the Director
came in contact with the FBI's Most Unwanted all that often, anyway.

The first dance was a Fox Trot, and Dana floated into his arms with
practiced ease.  As they glided around the floor, Dana decided to take
the opportunity for some private conversation.

"Let's get back to that interesting conversation we were having earlier,
Mulder.  Exactly what do you find so pleasing about my appearance
tonight?" Is this really me, fishing for compliments, she thought?  Why
does nothing seem to embarrass me tonight?

"You want a list, Scully?  Isn't it enough to know I find the whole
package irresistible?" Is this really me saying this stuff?

"No, I want to know exactly, Mulder.  I want to know exactly what wear,
or not wear, to get whatever reaction out of you that I want.  I
wouldn't want to distract you at work, for instance, by accident." But
maybe on purpose?

How could you distract me more than you already do, Scully?  "Waaay too
analytical, Scully.  I don't think my hormones work so precisely as all
that.  Let's just say that I could wax poetical all evening about the
way you look tonight, O.K.?"

"Have I ever worn anything else that you thought was especially

Mulder thought hard, but not very long.  His special memory carried a
lot of special pictures of Dana Scully, but one easily stood out.

"I think the most attractive thing I've ever seen you wear was that
baseball jersey you borrowed the last time you slept over at my

Dana looked, and was, surprised.  She knew for certain that she had
looked terrible that evening: no makeup, little sleep, hair tied up in a
pony tail, and bare feet.  And yet she could hear the sincerity in
Mulder's voice.  She pulled her head back out of position long enough to
catch her partner's eye.  This man had it bad; maybe as bad as she.

"Thank you, Mulder."

"Thank you, Scully."

The evening was a pleasant success.  The two agents set many of the
office tongues wagging, and they drew compliments on their dancing from
several quarters.  Dana had offers to dance every dance, but she stayed
very selective.  She accepted offers from Mulder, Skinner, Danny (their
Ace in the Hole over in Research), and a few friendly agents with whom
she'd worked.  She decisively turned down any of the goons from Violent
Crimes who she'd ever heard use the names "Spooky Mulder", "Mrs Spooky",
or "The Ice Queen".  Popularity, to coin a phrase, is the best revenge.

Mulder was even busier.  He danced with Dana often enough to keep it
clear who she'd come with, Margaret Scully, and his few female support
staff friends that had gotten invited.  But the highlight of the evening
was dancing with the wives and dates of most of the Violent Crimes
Agents.  For whatever reason (perhaps they were in on the joke?), most
of Mulder's worst detractors ended up suffering through their
significant other being in Fox Mulder's arms for a few minutes.  Mulder
encouraged all the ladies to have their men take dance lessons.

But without a doubt, Fox and Dana were the stars of the evening.  They
even drew the attention of the new Director, and Dana danced a waltz
with Director Spencer.

At one point late in the evening, Dana lost track of Mulder, only to
finally see him returning to their table from the direction of the
band.  Before she could inquire what he'd done, it became self evident.
The band was playing a Tango for the first time that evening, and the
dance floor was emptying.

Mulder extended his elbow to Scully, and bowed slightly.

"Dane, madame?"

"Mulder, almost nobody knows the Tango, we'd be out there by ourselves!"

"Scully, we're almost always Out There By Ourselves.  Why should this be
any different?"

Dana sighed, rolled her eyes, stood and accepted Mulder's arm.  Mulder
escorted her to the corner of the dance floor, and then lead her in a
sweeping turn into dance position.  Mulder looked down into his partners
upturned face, pulled her close, and assumed a haughty look.

"I feel like dancing like Aaaaahnuld!"

Dana rolled her eyes and smiled.  Here we go again, she thought.

And smiled.