Title: Beneath the Devil Moon
Author: MoonPixieDoll
Written: March 2001
Category: MSR, DAL
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Requiem, I guess. Anything after that is purely speculation and based on spoilers from the 'net.
Archiving: Um, feel free to archive, just tell me where, okay?
Feedback: Please! All I ask is for CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. If you hate it, tell me why! (Although if you like it, that would be really nice, too.)
Disclaimer: I don't own any part of The X-Files. Chris Carter does. And as a result, I've probably gotten a lot of things wrong.

Summary: Scully makes a huge decision concerning her future while working on a case with Doggett.


New Orleans, Louisiana
11:21 PM

The full moon hangs over the tops of the trees, and in the distance a Dixieland jazz band can be heard. A teenage girl giggles, her long brown ponytail swinging from side to side as she runs along the bank of the Mississippi River. "Come on, Heather," Bobby Reynolds pleads. "Let's go back. I'm cold."

Bobby shivers, then sighs. The wind is blowing straight through him, and she wants to play cat and mouse. He rolls his eyes and wonders if he will ever figure girls out. Probably not, he decides.

"Aw, Bobby...poor baby." Heather Adams looks around into the darkness. "Bobby?"

"Over here," he calls, walking towards her. "I'm cold, Heather."

She smiles coyly. "Well, then, I guess we'll have to think of something to do to keep warm."

"Here? What if someone sees us?" She looks from side to side. "There's no one out here," she tells him.

Heather thinks for a second. What if there is someone out there? Even with the light of the moon, it's so very dark. A chill works its way down her back at the thought of some weirdo out there, watching them. She shrugs. Bobby will protect her, she thinks to herself, ignoring the voice that asks, But who will protect Bobby? She slowly unbuttons her shirt, then takes her hair down out of the ponytail. Bobby half-smiles, suddenly intrigued by the idea. He forgets that he is cold and takes off his shirt.

He shivers, then forces himself to ignore the frigid wind. He kisses Heather briskly, his hand reaching to unfasten her bra, and he causes her to stumble backwards.

She turns her head. "What the...?"

"What is it?" Heather looks down at the young woman's dead body and screams into the starry night.


Georgetown
3:48 AM

She lay awake, her thoughts once again turning to him. She glanced at the alarm clock on the bedside table. Its bulging red numbers glared at her, warning her that she had but a few hours of sleep remaining before it was time to face another day. Another day without him. She wondered what he was doing this very instant. Was he conscious? Was he thinking of her? Was he in pain? Those were the questions that kept her awake at night. She missed him...God how she missed him. Was this what he felt when she was the one who was taken? He had become so much to her-more than she had ever dreamed he would. She thought back to those first days of their partnership and wondered how they had come so far. Indeed, he had become everything to her.

He had been missing for so long now, months. Every day she went through the motions of doing her job while her heart ached for his return. She longed to feel his warm embrace, those strong arms encircling her tiny form, so protective, so assuring. She felt so small without him.

A tiny life stirred within her, and she wanted so desperately to share the experience with him. The impossible had happened, and he was not there to revel in it. She wondered what he would think when he returned...when he returned. She had to think that, she had to believe it, for she could not bear the thought of her life without him in it.

She clung to the shirt she took from his apartment. It had become her security blanket. She breathed in its scent-his scent. She would have cried, but she had no tears left. She had already cried them all. She imagined, for a moment, that it had all been a dream. Like some cheesy soap opera, she would go to work the next morning and find him there. He would be sitting at his desk, tossing that damned basketball up in the air and catching it every time. He would look at her and wonder why she was so happy to see him. But alas, she knew that was the dream. He would not be at work tomorrow morning, throwing sharpened pencils into the ceiling. He was not at his apartment, watching some old black-and-white movie on television. He was not anywhere, and yet he was everywhere. She felt him with her, and that alone kept her going. As long as she could feel him, she could not give up hope of finding him alive.

She finally closed her eyes, just a few short hours from facing another day. Maybe this would be the day he came back to her.

It was then that she saw his face. The gray, lifeless skin. The mutilation of his beautiful countenance. A horrifying image that would stay with her. "No," she whispered. This could not be happening.

Dana Scully wakes with a start. She looks at the man sleeping next to her, as if to make sure he is still there. She sighs, watching him sleeping so peacefully. She wishes she could do the same. She was dreaming again, the same dream she has had every night since they found his body in the woods, when they thought he was dead.

She hears a baby's cry from across the room, and she gets out of bed before the little one wakes him. She doesn't like to wake him; he finally sleeps after so many years of insomnia. She takes the baby into the living room and sits down in the newest addition to her dcor: the glider rocker. Every mother should have one, her own mother told her before letting her open the huge box. Dana is grateful.

She stares at the clock on the wall. Only a few hours until dawn. Tomorrow will be her first day back at work since she took her maternity leave. She is nervous, although she doesn't exactly know why. It is the same job she has been going to every morning for the last eight years. This time will be different, however. This time he will not be with her, and it will not be because he is missing. It will be because he chose to leave.

As she waited for Mulder to recover from the horrible ordeal that had brought him closer to death than ever before, she put in for his reassignment to the one thing she thought would help him put his life back together. Then she found out that Deputy Director Kersh wanted to keep Agent John Doggett on the X- Files-something about successful rate of captures since Agent Doggett's assignment to the division. It was unthinkable, even to Doggett. It was assumed by everyone, including Doggett, that once Mulder was found, he would be reassigned to the X-Files and Doggett would return to Violent Crimes. Life would go back to normal.

But Dana Scully knew that her life, and Mulder's too, for that matter, was rarely, if ever, normal. He threatened to quit, to leave the Bureau altogether, which was what she knew They wanted him to do.

She recalls a conversation with Kersh when she informed the Deputy Director she would be taking her maternity leave with full intentions of returning to the X-Files afterwards. Kersh had the nerve to ask her about the paternity of her child.

"Deputy Director, I don't believe that's any of the Bureau's business."

There was hesitation in his eyes as he asked the question. "Is it Agent Mulder's?"

"With all do respect, Sir, that question that violates my privacy."

She never answered him.

Then the word came. Mulder had offered himself up as a sacrificial lamb in order to protect Doggett. He had not told her of his intentions; he told her later he was afraid she would not let him do what he knew was the right thing.

From the bedroom, Fox Mulder listens to her as she says all the things that mothers say to comfort their babies. He softly smiles, half asleep and once again amazed that he is here, that they are here. He gets out of bed and walks to the end of the hallway, as quietly as he can. He watches her rock the baby back to sleep. He just watches her, love shining in his eyes.

Who would ever have thought, in the throes of his youth, that he would come to lead anything close to an ordinary life? Certainly nothing about it was routine from the very start. There was the promise, once, of something akin to normalcy, but it was fleeting, an oddity in a lifetime of loneliness. Going from case to case, he raced down one dark, deserted road or another, chasing his nightmares, concerned about no one or nothing else. Then she came into his life, and he was forced to think about someone other than himself. Indeed, many times he thought of her first, put her needs before his own selfish desires. He doesn't know when it happened, exactly, but a time came when he began to think only of her, and he could no longer imagine his life without her in it. If they had told him, in the midst of his darkness, that she would lead him into the light, he never would have believed it. She, his equal, would become his salvation. When all else failed, when hope had abandoned him, she was there. Like a beacon in the night, she was his comfort. More than a friend, more than a lover, he came to trust her as he had no other.

Now everything has changed. Things he once deemed to be of the utmost importance have little significance in this new life. He has been given a second chance, and he did not walk away from it. She knows him for everything he is, yet she loves him. Now they have a new joy. The two have become three.

He looks upon them now, sleeping in the rocking chair, and his heart is filled with a love he never thought he would be allowed to feel. He once would have resented this quiet life they have found for themselves, so different from the one they once led, not so long ago. He embraces this life now, and he will fight to preserve it.


Washington, D.C.
8:24 AM

Dana Scully stops in front of the door of the office in the basement of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, looking at the nameplates on the door. She enters without knocking-after all, her name is on the door as well. She self-consciously tucks a lock of golden red hair behind her ear as Doggett looks up at her. Seems she is the last to have arrived this morning. Actually, she was on time, but she met Kimberly, Skinner's assistant, in the hallway and they talked for a bit, Kimberly asking about the baby.

"Good morning, Agent Scully," Doggett says, standing. "Good to have you back."

"It's good to be back, Agent Doggett. Thank you."


Georgetown
7:06 PM

"This just doesn't seem like an X-File to me, Mulder."

"I thought you liked Agent Reyes."

"I do. I just don't understand why she asked us to help out on this one. This seems more in her area of expertise than ours."

He looks at her, and his voice drops. "Are you sure that's all it is?"

"What else would it be?" she asks, and he gestures towards the tiny little girl sleeping in the bedroom. "That's not what this is about."

"You told Skinner not to give you any special treatment."

"I'm well aware of that, and I meant it. I assure you, my feelings about this case have nothing to do with that."

He knows better, but he also knows better than to argue just now. "Okay. Then just go with it."

She sighs. "Okay." She opens the case file.

Four women from New Orleans, Louisiana disappeared from their homes during the night, while they were alone. There were no signs of forced entry, indicating knowledge of the abductor. All signs indicate a minimal struggle, then the victims were chloroformed just enough for immobility before being taken elsewhere. The first three victims were found dead in various patches of woods a couple of days after they disappeared. In each case, the victim was slashed from ear to ear, and more slashes, though not as deep as the first, were found on the victims' backs. The toxicology reports show large amounts of the antihistamine diphenhydramine, which can be used as a sedative. None were raped. The only connection between the victims seems to be their red hair. The first victim, Kimberley Lewis, was seventeen; the second, Megan Jacobs, was thirty-two; the third, Noelle Hartman, was twenty-four; the fourth victim, seventeen-year-old Amanda Pierson, is still missing.

The baby cries, and Scully puts the folder down on the table. Mulder rises. "I'll go."

She watches him, clad in jeans and a white t-shirt, his feet bare. She likes that he feels comfortable here. She likes him being here. She smiles, content with her life for the first time in a very long time.


International Airport
New Orleans, Louisiana

By the time the agents arrive at the airport, Scully doesn't even want to look at another airplane. The turbulence, which was almost incessant from Washington to New Orleans, was nauseating, to say the least. And setting up her laptop computer was unthinkable. All she could do was sit and wait.

"There's a Special Agent James Fowler coming to meet us with Agent Reyes," Doggett informs Scully, and he notices something in her eyes when he says the name. "You know him?"

"Yes," is all she says, but he has a feeling there is more to it than that. So full of secrets, this woman. He has gotten used to it, but sometimes he still wonders if it will always be this way.

Even in the crowded airport, Scully spots Special Agent James Fowler instantly. She would have noticed him even if he were not standing beside Agent Reyes. He has the kind of looks that stand out in a crowd, unlike Mulder, whose understated good looks enable him to blend in almost anywhere. James has graying brown hair and mischievous brown eyes that hint at his boyish charm, something most women find irresistible...including one Monica Reyes.

Fowler's breath catches as the agents approach. He was not expecting Dana Scully, and the surprise registers on his face for only a brief moment before he regains his composure. She is every bit as lovely as he remembers. She possesses a quiet beauty, one that sneaks up on you.

Reyes smiles. "Hi, it's good to see you both again. Thanks for coming. We need all the help we can get on this one." She makes the introductions. "This is Special Agent James Fowler. James, you remember Agent John Doggett."

"I do." Of course he remembers. How could he forget the tormented father searching for his missing son?

"And this is Agent Dana Scully."

"Yes, we've met. Hi, Dana, how are you?"

"I'm good," she says, dodging the curious stares of her two newest co-workers.

Doggett takes Reyes' bags, and Fowler goes to take Scully's. "Let me get those for you," he offers.

"I've got it, thanks."

"It's no problem. I can get it."

"I said," she snaps, then, remembering the other agents and becoming somewhat embarrassed, tells him, "I've got it."

Doggett smiles to himself, understanding how the two know each other. He sees why it didn't last. If there's one thing his Scully is not, it is helpless.


Port Street
New Orleans

Fowler takes Doggett to look at the various crime scenes, while Reyes and Scully go to talk to the mother of the latest victim. Reyes pulls the rental car into the driveway of the small, slightly run-down house, and she and Scully get out of the car. Reyes knocks, and after a moment, a frail-looking woman opens the door.

"Mrs. Pierson. I'm sorry to bother you."

"You're the FBI woman; I'm sorry, I don't remember your name."

"Monica Reyes. This is Special Agent Dana Scully. She's come down here from Washington to help us find your daughter. May we come in?"

The woman doesn't say anything, staring at them for a long time. Scully is afraid she is going to refuse, but then she silently steps aside, allowing them to enter the house.

"Mrs. Pierson, do you know of anyone who may have wanted to harm Amanda?" Scully inquires.

Victoria Pierson shakes her head slightly. "No. Amanda is a wonderful girl." She smiles faintly, almost wistfully. "She's very smart. We don't have much money but...Amanda just found out she was accepted to Tulane University. They're gonna give her a full scholarship." She pauses. "Everyone likes Amanda. She's on the student council...and on the prom committee. She has a lot of friends."

Reyes looks at a photograph on the wall. It shows a little girl with reddish blonde hair and innocent green eyes, whom she knows to be Amanda as a child.

Victoria notices her. "That one," she says, pointing to the one beside it, "is Amanda's senior picture. She's a beautiful girl."

"Did Amanda argue with anyone before she disappeared?" Scully probes.

Victoria shrugs. "She and Luc sometimes argue-Luc Beaumont, that is. He's Amanda's boyfriend. But they never argue about anything serious. Just typical high school stuff."

"Is Luc the jealous type?" Scully presses.

"Well, no, I don't-" Then she realizes what Scully is insinuating. "Luc would never hurt Amanda. He cares about her."

Reyes intervenes. "We have to ask."

The woman softens. "Yes, I'm sure you do."

"Thank you for your time, Mrs. Pierson. You've been very helpful. If you think of anything else," Scully says, handing her a business card, "this is the number where I can be reached."

Reyes and Scully begin walking towards the door, but Victoria stops Scully. "Agent Scully? I want you to find my daughter-and the person who took her. I don't want another mother to go through what I have."

Scully kind of nods, then follows Reyes outside. She doesn't have to ask where they are headed next.

Luc Beaumont's house is in the Backcountry, nestled in the bayou. Reyes maneuvers the car down willow-lined, two-laned streets and narrow byways bordered with bay trees and oaks, their branches thick with gray-green streamers of Spanish moss. Finally, they come to a shotgun house set far off the dirt road. Reyes pulls the car into the unpaved driveway, and they get out, just as a young man walks out the front door. He stands on the porch, looking at them warily.

Scully speaks first. "Luc Beaumont?"

"Well, dat depends on who wants t'know, ami."

She holds up his badge and identification. "Special Agent Dana Scully. This is Agent Monica Reyes. We're with the FBI. We'd like to ask you a few questions concerning the disappearance of Amanda Pierson."

Luc runs a hand through his jet-black hair and dismissively informs them, "I got somewhere t'be."

Scully doesn't give him a chance to walk back inside. "Well, it won't take long."

Luc sighs a put-upon sigh. "Awright." He makes no effort to invite them inside.

"Do you know Amanda Pierson?" Scully asks.

"Oui," he says, his tone softened. "I went out wid Amanda, y'know. We call it quits a few days 'fore she disappear."

"What happened?"

"Well, chre, I guess she decided since she goin' t'college nex' year, she don' need no Cajun bringin' her down."

"Did you and Amanda part on bad terms?"

"Non. I understan'. If I was her, I prob'ly woulda felt de same way."

"Were you acquainted with any of the other women who were murdered?" "Well, N'Orleans ain't exactly no small town, but I do know a lotta people."

"Were you closely acquainted with any of the other victims?" Scully asks impatiently.

Luc blinks once, slowly. "Non."

He's lying, Reyes thinks. "Do you know of anyone who may have wanted to hurt Amanda?"

"I dunno. I know Amanda was friends wit' jus' about ever'one." He pauses. "Now, I've enjoyed this li'l tte--tte, but I gotta get t'work 'fore I get fired."

Scully nods, and thanks Luc for talking with them, then she and Reyes walk to the car. As Luc pulls out of the driveway, Scully happens to look up, and when she does, she notices a woman standing on the other side of the road, looking in their direction. The woman is tall and slender, with long brown hair.

"Agent Reyes?" She glances at her, then looks once again to the spot across the road, but the woman is no longer there.

"What is it, Agent Scully?"

She looks around, but the woman has apparently vanished. She sighs. "Nothing."


Hotel 9
New Orleans

"How's my baby girl?"

"She's fine. By the way, I'm okay, too."

She smiles. "I was getting around to asking."

"I told your mother she can't leave until you get back. The woman is a saint, Scully."

"She's raised four kids, Mulder. I'm sure you're doing just fine."

He ignores the compliment. "Any progress?"

"We just got here." Scully is talking to him on the telephone. She has case files spread out in front of her, and the television is on for noise, but she hasn't paid any attention to it. She sighs. "The closest thing there is to a suspect is the latest victim's boyfriend, but so far no one's been able to tie him to any of the other women."

"Anything I can do to help?"

"Yeah, you can come down here and help me solve this." She said it without thinking. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay. I miss it, too. Sometimes."

She sighs again. "You can tell me what I'm looking for."

"That's what they have profilers for," he teases.

"No one around here seems to know anything more than I do."

"Well, if you're serious, I'd have to see the case file."

"Oh, come on, Mulder. Don't tell me you didn't sneak a look before I left."

"Scully, I would never..."

She isn't buying it. "Sure. Fine. Whatever."

Now it is his turn to smile. "Okay. I'd say he's young, eighteen to twenty-five, possibly even a juvenile. He's choosing redheads, but he's not going after every redhead in the city, so there has to be something about these particular women. There's a relationship there, and I'd say it's pretty significant, even if only in his mind. Focus on the first victim, Kimberley Lewis. The killings started with her. He doesn't kill them immediately, so he has to be holding them somewhere. Now since he is young, that means he doesn't keep them in his house. Check to see if your suspect's family has any other residences. Look at abandoned buildings, warehouses...maybe near where he works or goes to school. This guy's local; he's not going to stray far from home." He pauses. "I keep coming back to the fact that he keeps them alive for several days. Maybe he doesn't intend to kill them from the start. Maybe something sets him off. The anger...it's a very passionate crime, impulsive. And the slashes on the backs-they have to mean something, although I can't make any sense of them." Another pause. "You can find this girl alive, Scully. You just have to stay focused."

"Unfortunately we don't have a lot of time. Amanda Pierson has already been missing two days."

"I believe in you, Scully."

She sighs once more. "Thanks, Mulder."


Garden District
New Orleans

"When was the last time you saw Caroline?" Doggett asks Bill Austin, a middle-aged man with salt-and- pepper hair. They are sitting in the living room of the antebellum mansion. "Just before I left last night-around six o'clock. I had a dinner party to attend-business-then my date and I went back to her place for a nightcap. Joey called around one-thirty and told me Caroline was missing."

Fowler looks at Joey Austin, Caroline's seventeen- year-old brother. "Did you see or talk to Caroline after six o'clock?"

"Yes, sir." He runs a hand through his dark brown, almost-black hair. "I talked to her a little after seven. I asked her if she was going out, and she said no because Donny was spending the night at Craig's, and he would probably come home. He hasn't spent the whole night at a friend's house yet. Anyway, I left right after that. I haven't seen her since."

"Donny's upstairs, but I would prefer it if you didn't talk to him right now," Bill interjects. "He's very upset about his mother's disappearance."

"Of course," Scully tells him before any of the other agents can object. "We understand."

Fowler turns back to Joey. "How did you discover she was missing?"

"Donny came home shortly after midnight, and no one was home."

"Is Donny certain of the time?" Reyes inquires.

"Yes, ma'am," Joey says. "He remembers Craig's mother telling him what time it was. And then I got home close to one."

"Thank you both," Doggett tells them, rising to his feet. "We'll let you know as soon as we hear anything." He and Scully share a look. They both know what neither of them is willing to say. Amanda Pierson is most likely dead.


Backcountry Outside
New Orleans

Down in the Bayou, in an area not far from Luc Beaumont's run-down shack, four-year-old Emily Hampton is staying with a friend of her mother's while her mother works. Emily is playing outside, being careful not to wander too far, or, as Miss Aubrey warned, she might fall into some quicksand.

Emily watches an egret in the distance, when, suddenly, the clouds part to let the sun through. It begins to shine very brightly-so bright it hurts Emily's eyes, yet she cannot force herself to look away.

The sun seems to come out of the sky, and it begins moving around. As Emily watches, the sun becomes a luminous figure of a woman dressed in blue. She has seen her before, and not just in church. The woman has appeared to Emily three times. She always has a message for Emily, but Emily has been afraid to give the message to her mother. She was afraid her mother wouldn't like it. She thought that if she didn't deliver the pretty lady's message that she would leave her alone. She knows now that is not going to happen. She thinks that she will tell her mother this time. Maybe then the pretty lady will go away. Emily doesn't like what she tells her.


Sheriff's Office
New Orleans

Sheriff Tom Powell is in his late fifties, stocky in build, with added weight in his belly which he keeps meaning to do something about but somehow never gets around to doing. His hair is solid gray, his dark eyes guarded.

"Sheriff Powell, this is Special Agent John Doggett," Fowler says in introduction. The sheriff shakes hands with Doggett as Fowler continues. "Agent Doggett has an extensive amount of experience working with violent crimes."

Powell nods his approval. "Well, I can't say I've been thrilled to have the FBI involved, and when they told me some people from Washington were coming down, I was hesitant, to say the least. But I'm glad they've sent some people who seem to know what they're doing."

"This is Special Agent Dana Scully," Fowler tells Powell. "Agent Scully is a medical doctor."

Powell shakes Scully's hand, but she immediately feels resentment. It certainly isn't the first time, and it's a pretty safe bet it won't be the last, either.

"I can remember when they wouldn't let women be cops, much less FBI agents, and certainly there weren't many who were doctors," Powell reminisces, flashing Scully a patronizing smile.

"Times have changed, Sheriff," Scully remarks.

"Yes, they have," Powell agrees, clearly indicating at which end of the spectrum he stands on the issue.

Scully draws in a breath, debating whether or not to say anything, but before she can, Reyes tells her, "Come on, Agent Scully. I want to show you something."

She looks at Reyes, then glances back at Powell before following Reyes out the door. As the walk down the hall, she asks, "What is it you wanted to show me?"

"Nothing. I just wanted to stop you before you said anything to him."

"You should have let me."

"I've worked with Sheriff Powell enough times to know that it wouldn't have made a difference."

"Well it would've made me feel a lot better," Scully admits, and the two women share a smile.


Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans

Kimberley Lewis was the first victim. Ever since she went missing a little over six weeks ago, Kimberley's mother and younger sister have been staying with a relative in another part of town. The house has been untouched since.

"I don't know what you expect to find, Dana," Fowler says as they walk in the front door. "I can't think of anything that would be here now that wasn't here six weeks ago."

Scully doesn't say anything. She doesn't know what she expects to find, so how could Fowler? Anyway, she doesn't really expect to find anything, but even though it has been six weeks, she wanted to see the place. You never know.

As she has done so many times over the last year, she tries to see what Mulder would see. It frustrates her that she cannot. Mulder saw things where others overlooked them. She does not have that gift. She wishes he were here.

She looks around the room, recalling the fact that there were no signs of forced entry, and she takes a cautious glance at the heat registers.

"Dana what are you looking for?" Fowler asks, watching her.

"Maybe nothing..." she answers vaguely, continuing her visual search.

"Surely you don't think the killer entered through the heating vents."

"No, there are no signs of that." She pauses. "What time of day did you say the victims disappeared?"

"Sometime after midnight. Look, Dana, I've heard things...if you think this was some kind of alien abduction crap-"

"There are no signs of that, either."

She toys with the idea of telling Fowler that the murders are the result of a government experiment gone awry. Bet that would rock his boat, Scully thinks, and she almost laughs. She has been around Mulder way too long. She decides to go with the truth.

"Agent Fowler, this has nothing to do with aliens. I knew that before we even left Washington." She sighs. "And while I still don't think this is an X-File," she says pointedly at Doggett, "I do believe the killer is trying to tell us something with those slashes on the victims' backs. I just don't know what."

"You think there's a pattern there?"

"Why else would they be there? They're not related to the cause of death. In each case, the slash to the throat was the cause of death."

"Agent Scully, look at this."

Doggett is kneeling beside an overturned end table, pointing to a shattered lamp on the floor. Scully kneels down beside him. On the corner of a smashed fragment of the lamp, there is a short dark hair held by a tiny smudge of blood.

"Why was this overlooked?" Doggett wants to know.

"Ask Sheriff Powell," Fowler answers. "We weren't called in until the second victim was found."

As Scully and Doggett get into their rental car, Scully remarks, "That hair you found is black. Luc Beaumont has black hair."

"So do a lotta other guys in this city. For that matter, Joey Austin's hair is pretty close to black."

"Agent Doggett, there are coincidences, and then there are coincidences."

He looks at her. "It's a connection."


Louis Armstrong Park
New Orleans

Several police cars and an ambulance have already arrived by the time Scully and Doggett pull up. Yellow crime scene tape is wrapped around the area from tree to tree. A small crowd has gathered, watching from a safe distance.

Doggett scans the crowd, looking for anything suspicious, while Scully kneels beside the body. She pulls on a pair of latex gloves and pulls back the white sheet that is covering the body. She directs a deputy with a camera. Doggett wonders where Reyes and Fowler are. They should be here.

Like the other victims, this one is a red-haired, Caucasian female. She is lying on her stomach, her head turned to one side. The throat has been slashed from ear to ear. There are two slashes on the back.

Scully studies the slashes a moment, then tilts her head and looks at them again. "Agent Doggett." She looks up at him.

"What is it?" He moves to stand behind her, so that the victim's head is on his right. Scully doesn't answer him; she doesn't have to. He sees it. "Shit," he whispers.

Reyes walks over to them as Scullyy rises to her feet. "What'd you find?"

"The slash marks form an L," Scully informs her. "A sloppy one," she admits as she traces it in the air above the body, "but an L nonetheless."

"Oh my god. I can't believe I didn't see it before."

Scully looks at her. She herself has felt that doubt. "No one saw it. It was easy to miss," she says, hoping that will reassure her.

"Where's Agent Fowler?" Doggett asks Reyes.

"I dropped him off. He had a meeting with the ASAC about this case. He'll be thrilled to hear this."

Scully catches Sheriff Powell. "Sheriff, has the family made a positive ID?"

"They don't need to. That's Amanda Pierson," he says. Scully knows this from the picture on the wall, but the family needs to identify the body nonetheless. Sheriff Powell knows this, too. "I'll go talk to Victoria after I'm done here."

"Who found the body?" Doggett asks.

"One of my men. But you might say we had an...informant."

"Who?"

"A four-year-old girl."


South Rampart Street
New Orleans

"How did you know where the body would be?" Scully gently asks Emily Hampton in the den of the girl's home. Reyes is standing at the doorway, watching, while Doggett questions Emily's mother in the living room.

"I don't think I'm supposed to tell." She nervously twists a lock of golden blonde hair, and Scully tries not to think about how much she is reminded of another girl named Emily.

"It's okay, Emily." Scully smiles. "You can trust me."

She looks at Scully through big blue eyes for a moment, then decides that Scully's eyes are kind. "The lady told me."

"Your mommy?"

Emily shakes her head. "No, not Mommy. Another lady."

"Can you tell me what she looks like?"

"She had a blue dress on, and she had a white...um...thing...over her head. Sorta like a...um...like on a jacket."

"A hood?" Scully offers.

"Kinda. I think she had brown hair. Yeah, it was brown, like Miss Aubrey's."

"Where were you when you saw her?"

"At Miss Aubrey's. She's Mommy's friend. I stay at her house when Mommy works."

"Did the lady come to the door?"

"I was playing outside," Emily tells her. "But Miss Aubrey said not to go too far 'cause I might fall in quicksand."

The bayou, Scully thinks. "Did she walk up to you and start talking to you?"

Emily shakes her head. "She came out of the sky."

Scully exchanges a look with Reyes. She tries to keep her voice neutral. "She came out of the sky?"

"Yeah. First, she was hiding in the sun, but then she came out, and she turned into the pretty lady."

"Did she tell you her name?"

"No. But I know who she is."

"You do?"

"Yeah." Emily points to a picture on the wall. "It's her."

Scully and Reyes both look. Emily is pointing to a portrait of the Virgin Mary.


Motel 9
New Orleans

"Out of the sky," Doggett says, with more than his usual hint of skepticism.

"Yep."

"She said that Mary - the Virgin Mary - came down from the sky and told her where to find Caroline Austin's body."

"That's what she said."

"And you believe her?"

"She's four years old. I don't see any reason why she would lie."

"I didn't say she was lying. But maybe this story is how her four-year-old mind is dealing with some pretty horrific things."

"I'll buy that. But the question remains: how did she know where to find the body?"

"Maybe she stumbled across it."

"In downtown New Orleans. By herself."

He concedes the point. "I don't know. But I don't believe the Virgin Mary told her, either."

Scully decides not to push the issue any further. Instead, she looks at the photographs of the murder victims. When she turns the photos so that the heads of the victims face east, the letters are visible. Using a little imagination, a G can be seen on the middle of Kimberley Lewis' back. On the second victim, Megan Jacobs, a U. On Noelle Hartman, the third victim, an I. And now, on the fourth victim, Amanda Pierson, an L.

"I can't believe I didn't see it before," Reyes says for the second time that day.

"Everyone was looking at it from the wrong angle," Doggett tells her, trying to offer a bit of comfort.

"We should have seen it. I should have seen it. This is what I do."

"Well, there's no sense in beating yourself up over it now," he says.

"He's probably laughing at us."

"There has to be a reason he's targeting redheads," Scully remarks. "There must be something tying them together."

"At least we know whoever it is probably won't take anyone else," Doggett offers.

Scully looks at him. "How do we know that?"

"The slashes. G-U-I-L. He's spelling out the word guilt. If we can find Caroline Austin, maybe he won't succeed."

She thinks for a second. "What if he isn't spelling the word guilt?"

"What do you mean?"

Reyes immediately sees where Scully is going. "What if he's spelling the word guilty?"


Garden District
New Orleans

"Mr. Austin, I'm sorry we don't have anything more to tell you," Doggett offers.

"I saw the news. They found Amanda Pierson dead."

"Well, we're doing our best to make sure that doesn't happen to Caroline. We just have a few more questions."

Reyes speaks up. "Is there anyone who may want to harm Caroline?"

Joey answers for his father. "Caroline is well-liked. She's...quiet. She doesn't know many people. Caroline only has a few friends. She doesn't talk to many people. She's very shy." He doesn't say anything for a moment, then continues. "She doesn't have any enemies. People like her. She was a really good student in high school-she just made a mistake," he says, referring to Donny. "She doesn't smoke or drink or use drugs. I mean, she isn't perfect of course, but she's a nice girl."

"Does she have a boyfriend?" Scully asks.

Joey shakes his head. "No. She dates sometimes, but most guys see Donny and head for the hills, if you know what I mean."

Scully looks down the hall and sees a small boy-maybe four or five years old-sitting on the floor. She assumes this must be Donny. "Mr. Austin, may I talk to Donny now?"

Bill looks down the hallway, sighs, then nods his consent. "Be gentle, okay?"

Scully nods, then gets up and walks over to Donny. "Hi," she smiles. "I'm Dana."

He looks up. "Hi," he returns politely. "I'm Donny."

"Mind if I sit down?" she asks, and Donny shrugs. She sits down on the floor, Indian-style, and looks at the shoebox in Donny's lap, with air holes poked in the lid. "What've you got in there?"

"It's my pet frog," he says, still wary of her.

"Oh," she tells him, interested. "You know, when I was little, I had a pet lizard."

He looks at her, wide-eyed, forgetting to be guarded. "But you're a girl. Girls don't have lizards."

She smiles. "I bet girls don't climb trees, either."

He shrugs. "Some do. Mommy does. Do you?"

"I used to."

"What was your lizard's name?"

"Charlie. I named him after my brother. What's your frog's name?"

"His name's Sam. You wanna see him?"

"Sure," she says brightly.

Donny cautiously takes the lid off of the box and grabs the frog before it can jump away. He proudly shows it to Scully, holding it with both of his hands. "You can touch him if you want. But don't let Grandpa see. I'm not supposed to let Sam out of the box inside the house."

Scully runs a finger over the frog's skin. She chooses her words carefully. "Are you and your mommy buddies?"

"Mhmm. She makes mud pies with me, and she rakes up big piles of leaves so I can jump in 'em." He pauses. "I miss her." He is quiet for a moment, then suddenly says, "Somebody took her."

Scully looks at him tenderly. "I know," she tells him softly.

"Are you like the police?"

She nods once. "Mhmm."

"Are you gonna catch the bad guys?"

"We're gonna try." She pauses, then leans in close, as if she is letting him in on a big secret, "But we need your help."


Motel 9
New Orleans

"How's the case going?"

"There are two suspects now. We're trying to connect either one to more of the victims." She pauses. "And I was wrong about something, Mulder."

"What's that?"

"This is an X-File."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah." She tells him about Emily Hampton.

"You believe it's the real thing?"

"I don't think she would lie." She sighs. "I don't know why, but yes. I know you don't believe in the phenomena, but I think it's the real thing."

"Scully, you'd be surprised what I believe these days. I'd like to come down and talk to the girl, if you think her parents will allow it."

"It's just the mother...I think it would be okay."

There's a knock at the door, followed by, "Agent Scully? It's Agent Doggett."

"Come in," she calls. "Mulder, I have to go. Agent Doggett is at the door."

"Okay. I'll get a flight out first thing in the morning. See you tomorrow, Scully. Good night."

"Good night."

She hangs up the phone and sees that Doggett is standing just inside the doorway. He sits in the chair by the window.

"I found out that Luc Beaumont's mother is in a mental hospital."

"It doesn't necessarily mean he did it."

"It's a start. Maybe he's killing women because he hates his mother."

"But what set him off six weeks ago? How long has his mother been in the mental hospital? And does she have red hair?"

"I don't know, but it would be easy to check."

"Well, Agent Reyes talked to a friend of Kimberley Lewis. It seems Kimberley and Joey Austin had been dating before she was killed."

"Hmmm...wonder why he neglected to mention that."

"That still doesn't tie him to the other murders."

"Well, I found out something that ties Beaumont to one of the other victims."

"What?"

"Apparently, he and Noelle Hartman...had relations, for lack of a better term."

"From what I've gathered, Noelle had relations with quite a few of the young men in town," Scully remarks, lifting an eyebrow.

"That may be true, but it doesn't change the fact that Luc Beaumont is linked to two of the victims."

"So is Joey Austin." She thinks for a moment. "Donny told me he heard Caroline yelling at someone in her bedroom a few days before she disappeared."

Doggett raises his eyebrows. "Yelling?"

Scully nods. "But he couldn't tell if she was on the telephone with someone or if someone was in the room with her. He said he heard her tell whoever it was to leave her alone, and that they weren't the person she thought they were. After that, Donny said he stopped listening."

"Did you notice that Joey Austin didn't seem very upset about his sister's disappearance?"

She looks at him, but she doesn't say anything. She doesn't have to; the look on her face says it all.

Suddenly, Doggett's cell phone rings. He answers it. "Doggett." He listens for a moment, then says, "We're on our way." He hangs up the phone, then looks at Scully. "That was Agent Reyes. There's been another murder."


Woldenberg Waterfront Park
New Orleans

Doggett looks at Scully, standing just inside the line of yellow crime scene tape. He walks over to her. "You okay?"

"Yeah," she sighs. "I don't think I could say the same for Agent Reyes, though."

Doggett follows Scully's line of vision to Reyes, standing alone beside the bank of the river. It is painfully obvious that she still has feelings for James Fowler. Doggett wasn't even aware they had been together. Geesh, did every woman this guy met fall head over heels for him? Lucky guy, Doggett thinks, then changes his mind.

Sheriff Powell joins Scully and Doggett. "Great. Now there are two killers on the loose in New Orleans."

"You don't think it was the same person?" Doggett inquires.

Powell shrugs. "You do?" he asks, and Doggett nods. "What makes you think this has anything to do with those girls' murders?"

"Sheriff, don't you find it a little coincidental that one of the agents working on the case was killed?"

"Could be just that-a coincidence."

"Could be, but as someone told me recently, there are coincidences, and then there are coincidences. I think that whoever does the autopsy will find some indication that the murders are connected."

"I'm doing the autopsy," Scully volunteers.

"Well, good luck," Powell mutters as he walks away.


County Morgue
New Orleans

Scully's findings indicate that James Fowler was stabbed eighteen times in the chest with the same kind of knife used in the other murders. There are bruises on his knuckles, most likely from fighting his attacker. His gun was not found on or near him.

Mulder walks up to the door of the medical examiner's office and decides not to enter when he overhears the m.e. say, "Now I don't believe in all that female intuition crap, if that's what you're gonna say. If you can't be unobjective, then maybe you should go back to medical school, little lady." The man looks at Scully a moment longer, then walks out the door and past Mulder.

Scully doesn't seem to notice Mulder's presence. She stares at the examination table, lost in her own thoughts as Mulder watches her. She looks like a hurt little girl. He has never known her to just stand there and take that from someone. She told him she was having some trouble with the local sheriff, but he wonders why she didn't stand up to the medical examiner.

She turns to look at him then. "Hey. I didn't hear you come in."

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"I heard what the m.e. said to you-"

"He was right."

"He was sexist."

"But he was right, Mulder." She pauses a brief moment. "I've lost all my objectivity. I performed that autopsy looking for what I hoped to find."

"Scully, just because you go looking for something doesn't mean it isn't there."

"What am I doing?" she asks, not expecting him to answer. The question was for her, not him.

He wouldn't know what to say even if she did expect an answer, which he knows she does not. So instead, he walks up behind her and wraps his arms around her, pulling her to him so that the back of her head is resting on his chest. He likes that he can do that; he is free to touch her anytime he wants now, and that feels good. He squeezes her gently, and she closes her eyes, leaning into him.


Backcountry
New Orleans

Scully takes Mulder to see Emily Hampton, who takes them out to the backyard to see her playhouse.

"Wow, this is cool," Scully says brightly, wishing she had had a playhouse like this when she was a little girl.

"Me and my dollies had a tea party this morning," Emily tells her.

"Sounds like fun."

"It was. Did you have lots of dolls when you were little?"

"I had a few. My older sister had more than I did. I liked to climb trees with my brothers."

"I climb trees sometimes, too," Emily admits, as if what she is telling Scully isn't common knowledge.

"Emily, this is a friend of mine. His name is Fox Mulder. He'd like to ask you a few questions. Would that be okay?"

She looks at him warily. She doesn't know a lot of men. Her mommy has brought a few home, but she didn't like them. "Is he nice?"

Scully smiles. "Yes, he's nice."

"Okay."

"Hi, Emily," Mulder says. He kneels down so that he is face to face with her. "Hi."

"I'd like to ask you about the lady who comes to tell you things."

"Okay."

"Do you see her a lot?"

"No, just sometimes. Only when she wants to tell me something. I was scared to tell, and I didn't the first times."

"Why not?"

"I thought if I didn't tell, she'd pick somebody else and leave me alone."

"Does she scare you?"

"No. But the things she tells me scare me."

"It's okay to be scared. Emily, why do you think she tells you these things?"

"I don't know. She wants me to help, but I don't know how."

"Did you see her last night?"

"Yesterday. Not nighttime. I was at Miss Aubrey's."

"Is that always where you see her?"

"Uh-huh. And I was crying."

"Because you were scared?"

"Uh-huh. All these people...they're getting killed. And I'm scared that I'm gonna get killed, too."

Mulder looks into Emily's eyes. "That's not going to happen. We won't let it happen. Do you believe me, Emily?"

Emily looks at Scully and smiles, then nods her head. "I believe you."


Motel 9
New Orleans

"I thought I saw Mulder here," Doggett tells Scully later that afternoon.

"You did. He came here to talk to Emily Hampton."

"Ah. Where is he now?"

"Standing behind you."

Doggett turns around to find Mulder standing in the doorway. "Mulder, hi. Good to see you."

"How's it going, John?"

"Oh, you know. So what's your interest in all this?"

"I'm interested in what Emily Hampton saw."

"You mean what she thinks she saw."

"Potato, potahto. I won't get in your way."

"You know, I've been thinking about this case," Scully interjects.

"Should we talk about that here?" Doggett asks.

"Oh, don't mind me," Mulder says. "I'm heading out." He looks at Scully. "Research. See you later?"

She nods, then he walks out the door. She looks at Doggett. "There's something we're not considering here."

"What's that?"

"The diphenhydramine found in the tox screens."

"The antihistamine?"

She nods. "The killer would have to have access to a fairly large supply of it."

"So you think he's a doctor? That rules out our two suspects."

"No. I don't think he's a doctor. It doesn't fit. Our killer is young. He's passionate, sloppy. A doctor would be older, more detached, clinical...cold, even. The slashes to the throat would be precise...but they weren't. They were erratic, done in the heat of the moment. Agent Fowler was stabbed eighteen times. There's a lot of anger there."

"So if he isn't a doctor...then what?"

"Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine, and it is used as a sedative. But in smaller doses, it's used to control allergies, for hay fever."

"You think our killer's got allergies?"

"It would explain his possession of the drug. And the fact that the drug was injected rather than ingested. Antihistamines are commonly given in allergy shots, rather than in pill form."

"Yeah, but don't you go to your doctor to get allergy shots?"

"Usually. But in some cases they could be self- administered."

"So how do we check up on this? Get a search warrant and we take the risk of our killer running scared."

"It's not enough for a search warrant anyway," she mutters. "Why don't we talk to Joey Austin and Luc Beaumont again-see if we can talk to them inside their houses."

"Why there?"

She looks at him slyly. "You never know-one of us may have to use the restroom."


French Quarter
New Orleans

Scully and Doggett go to Joey Austin's house first, only to find that he has just left for work. They catch him in the parking lot of the Hard Rock Caf.

"Joey," Doggett calls as Joey gets out of his red Ford Mustang. "Can we talk to you for a second?"

"I'm in a hurry."

"I tell ya, people in this town...I never seen so many people in a hurry-even when I lived in New York." He looks at Joey. "It'll only take a minute."

"I have to clock in in thirty seconds," he says, looking at his watch.

"Well, if you're late, you can blame it on me."

Joey sighs. "You wanna know why I didn't tell you I knew Kimberley."

"Yeah, we were kind of wondering about that."

"To be honest, I was scared. Knowing two girls who've been murdered doesn't look so good."

"No, it doesn't."

"I dated Kimberley for a few months. I cared a lot about her, and I think she cared about me, too."

Doggett looks at Scully, thinking she might join in, but she is staring at something or someone across the parking lot. He glances around in the direction she is gazing, but he doesn't see anything.

"Did you know any of the other women?" Doggett inquires.

He sighs. "Amanda and I dated for awhile last year. And I was in Miss Jacobs' art class. And Noelle..." He looks down at the ground. "Well, everyone knew Noelle." He looks back up at Doggett. "But Agent Doggett, I did not kill them."

Scully watches the woman across the parking lot with a captivated eye. It is the same woman she saw in the bayou. The woman is, again, just standing there, staring at her. Scully looks away, and when she looks back, the woman is gone.

"What can you tell me about Luc Beaumont?" Doggett asks.

"Luc is...well, he's kinda freaky. He was in Miss Jacobs' class-the same one as me. He used to lean back in his chair all the time-the teachers hate it when you do that. Anyway, she told him to put his chair down, and he picked it up and threw it across the room. It's a wonder he didn't hit somebody with it."

"He lose his temper a lot?"

Joey shrugs. "Not just that...he's just...weird. He asked Kimberley out one time-while we were dating. Kimberley told him to get lost. The next day, there was a black rose taped to her locker. We knew he put it there."

"Did Caroline know Luc?" Scully asks.

He nods. "Yes, ma'am. But not very well. She tutored high school students, to make extra money. She tutored Luc in algebra." He looks at his watch again. "My boss is really gonna kill me. Can I go now?"

"Yeah," Doggett says. "If you think of anything else, you know how to reach me." He looks at Scully as Joey walks inside the restaurant. "Where were you?"

"I'm sorry."

"What were you looking at?"

"I thought I saw something. It was nothing."

"That kid's hiding something."

"How can you be so sure?"

"He said that knowing two girls who've been murdered doesn't look so good...right?"

"Right."

"But he said that before he admitted to knowing any of the other women. He was talking about knowing Kimberley Lewis in addition to his sister, Caroline."

She sees where he is going. "Caroline hasn't been found murdered. So far she's only missing."

"Right. So how would he know she's dead?"


Backcountry
New Orleans

Doggett pulls into the driveway leading up to the tiny shack, and he and Scully get out of the car. Scully knocks on the door, and after a brief moment, Luc opens the door.

"'Ello, chre. What can I do fo' you?"

Doggett watches Scully's small smile, and he hides one of his own. Luc Beaumont has a very obvious crush on Scully. Doggett thinks for a second, and suddenly the crush isn't funny anymore. What is Luc is the killer? That wouldn't be funny at all.

"We need to ask you a few more questions," Scully tells Luc. "May we come in?"

He looks nervously behind him, hesitating, then says, "Okay. But be real quiet, eh? Old man sleepin' in da back, an' he don' like ta be wake up, y'know?"

"What happened?" Doggett asks Luc, looking at his busted lip.

"Got in a fight las' night."

"You get in a lot of fights?"

"Non. But dis guy, he talkin' trash 'bout Amanda." He shrugs. "Y'know."

"Who was the guy?"

"I forget, ami."

"Were there any witnesses?"

"I dunno. I wasn't exactly lookin' at the audience, eh?"

"Do you know Caroline Austin?" Scully asks.

"Oui, chre. I know her. She was teachin' me math, y'know? I ain't real good at it, but they say I gotta pass to graduate. I...well, I was kinda fond o' Caroline, y'know?"

"Did she know how you felt?"

"Prob'ly. But she seein' somebody. Anyhow, she a lot older than me."

"Who is she seeing?" Scully asks, recalling Joey Austin saying that his sister doesn't have a boyfriend.

"I dunno. Some guy from Baton Rouge. I think it was kinda serious."

"Did Joey Austin, her brother, know about it?"

"Non, I don't think so. Not a lot o' people knew about it. That's why I was surprised she tol' me. But she did ask me not to tell Joey."

"Any idea why?"

"She say she didn't think Joey'd like him." He pauses. "I get the feelin' li'l brother didn' like anybody she dated."

"Why did you lie?" Doggett suddenly asks.

"'Bout what?"

"About knowing the other women. We heard you went out with Noelle Hartman on more than one occasion."

"Who didn'?" He quickly thinks. "Pour l'amour de Dieu! You think I kill 'em, huh?"

"Did you?"

"Non, I didn', monsieur."

"Did you ask Kimberley Lewis out while she was involved with Joey Austin?" Scully inquires.

Luc sighs. "Joey saw me talkin' ta Kim a few weeks 'fore she die, 'tween classes. We was in de same economics class, an' I was askin' her what the homework assignment was 'cause I fall asleep in class, y'know? I wasn't askin' her out. I was still datin' Amanda den."

"We heard somethin' about a black rose," Doggett presses.

"Where'm I gonna get a black rose from? I tell you now like I tol' 'em den, I don' know nothin' 'bout dat." He pauses. "Y' gotta understand. Joey thought ever'body was goin' after Kim. He get jealous if you even look at Kim. He a li'l off, eh?"

"May I use your restroom?" Scully asks.

He hesitates once again, then says, "Oui. Down da hall, first left. Don't wake the beast, huh?"

"What about Noelle?" Doggett wants to know.

"Like I said, ami, who didn' go out wid Noelle least once? She go out wit' lots o' guys. Didn' think it was important."

"Were you in Megan Jacobs art class?"

"Oui. But not jus' me, eh? Joey was in dat class, too. An' he have a big crush on her."

Scully steps back into the room and looks at Doggett, signaling that she is ready to leave. Doggett stands.

"Thank you for your time," Scully tells him.

"Yeah, sure." He sees them to the door, catching Scully's arm as she walks outside. "Miss? I didn' kill no one."

"Then you shouldn't have anything to worry about." She looks at him for a moment, then he let's go of her arm and closes the door.

"You find anything?" Doggett asks.

"Two vials of diphenhydramine, as well as several disposable syringes."

"Well there's our guy. What do we do now? Make an arrest?"

"Agent Doggett, you know as well as I do that we can't use this information." She sighs. "But at least now we know where to focus our investigation."


Motel 9
New Orleans

Doggett goes to fill Reyes in on the latest developments, while Scully goes back to the hotel. She told Mulder she would meet him for dinner, and she wants to get a shower first. She spots the newspaper outside the Motel office. The front-page headline reads, Virgin Mary Tells Child Where To Find Murder Victims.

"Dammit." If the killer sees this, Emily could be in danger. She calls Doggett on her cell phone and tells him about the article. She waits as he tells Reyes, then he turns his attention back to her.

"Agent Scully? I'll have Powell send some of his men over-what? Oh, okay. Agent Reyes has offered to go over there herself. Says she doesn't want this botched up."

"Thanks, Agent Doggett."

"No problem."

She hangs up the phone, then looks across the parking lot. The dark-haired woman is standing near Scully's room, watching her. Scully decides to confront the woman.

"You've been watching me."

"Yes, I have," the woman admits.

"Who are you?"

"My name is not important, although if you must know, it's Kayla."

"Why have you been following me?"

"Do you believe in angels, Dana?"

"How do you know my name?"

"I know a lot of things." She looks at Scully, almost sad. "I know you've seen a lot of things, which is why I know you're ready to believe this. The child...the child is special. The child must be protected."

"You mean Emily. We have officers watching her house. Agent Reyes is there herself."

Kayla smiles at her. "Not that child, although she is special, too. But she has her protector, the one that is there with her now. Dana, I'm talking about your child. Your child must be protected."

Scully is suddenly afraid. "Why are you telling me this?"

"Don't be afraid now. She's fine now. But there are things that will happen...things I cannot stop. I can tell you that you must survive, Dana. You must protect your child. Don't be afraid. I'll be with you."

Scully closes her eyes and sighs. When she opens them again, Kayla is gone. She looks all around, but there is no sign of Kayla. Scully sighs again. "How did I know she was going to do that?"

Scully goes inside her Motel room and immediately picks up the phone and dials her mother's number. After two rings, Margaret Scully answers.

"Hi, Mom. It's me. I was just calling to check-"

"She's fine, Dana. Sleeping soundly, just like her mother used to."

Scully sighs, relieved. "You're sure she's okay?"

"Yes, of course. Why wouldn't she be? Dana, is everything alright?"

"Yes, everything's fine. I just wanted to call and check on her." She pauses. "We should be back in a couple days. The case is wrapping up."

"And Fox...did he find what he was looking for?"

"I think so."

"Okay. We'll see you in a couple of days then."

"I love you."

"We love you, too."

Scully hangs up the phone, then goes to take a shower. She dries her hair and dresses in a pair of slim- fitting black pants and a crisp white button-down shirt that hugs in all the right places. She tugs on her black boots as she hears a knock at the door. She is surprised to find Joey Austin on the other side.

"Joey? What is it?"

"Agent Scully, there's something I wanna tell you. I didn't wanna say it with your partner around. Can we go somewhere and talk?"

"Sure. Let me get my keys."

She turns around, headed for the bedside table, when she is grabbed from behind. A hand goes around her mouth; he is holding a handkerchief to her mouth and nose. She fights him, trying not to breathe; she knows what is on that handkerchief. After a moment, though, it is useless. She falls into darkness.


Garden District
New Orleans

"Thank you for coming, Agent Doggett," Bill Austin tells him. The man looks troubled. Doggett waits for him to continue. "Being a parent is very difficult. You love your kids, no matter what they do. You protect them. There comes a time in every man's life when he is faced with the decision of doing the right thing. That time has come in my life, Agent Doggett, and I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do the right thing. That's why I came to you."

"What is it, Mr. Austin?"

"Joey's mother, Paige, and I divorced seven years ago. She was seeing someone. He was closer to her age than I was. She left us for him. I was hurt and angry...very bitter. The kids were very upset. Caroline adjusted in her own way. She made some choices that she wasn't very proud of, but she came through it." He pauses. "But Joey...Joey was devastated. We haven't seen Paige since the divorce, but Joey's been...troubled. He hates her for what she did, but he can't help but love her because she's his mother."

Doggett doesn't say anything, just lets the man speak.

"He's gotten worse over the last couple of years. He's developed a thing about girls with red hair. First there was Amanda, and then Kimberley. The art teacher, Megan Jacobs-Joey was quite taken with her, but of course, she didn't return his feelings. And I suppose he equated Noelle Hartman with his mother because of the reputation she had. And Caroline..." His voice almost breaks. "Caroline was seeing a young man from Baton Rouge. They were gonna get married. She tried to keep it from Joey-he never liked anyone she dated-but he found out. I guess he saw it as another betrayal." He pauses. "Joey seemed happy with Kimberley. But he found out she was seeing someone behind his back. It was just like what happened with his mother all over again. I believe that's what set him off."

"Why didn't you come to us before now?"

"You never want to believe that your child is capable of such horrors. And I didn't truly believe that it was Joey...until last night. I was taking out the garbage, and I saw a shirt with blood on it. I couldn't stop thinking that it might be Caroline's blood. Then I checked-my hunting knife is missing. I knew I had to come to you."

"You did the right thing," Doggett assures him. His cell phone rings as he stands. "Doggett."

"John, it's Mulder. Is Scully with you?"

"No. She said she was having dinner with you."

"She never showed."


Motel 9
New Orleans

An overturned lamp and a shattered television screen are the only signs that a crime was committed in Scully's Motel room. The door was closed, unlocked. Scully's keys and cell phone are on the bedside table; her coat is lying on the bed.

"She told me earlier on the phone that you guys had figured out who the killer is."

"Luc Beaumont."

"Yeah, she told me about the diphenhydramine in his medicine chest."

"Well, I can't explain that, but I can tell you that we were wrong. Luc Beaumont didn't kill those women. It was Joey Austin. I just came from his father's. Now Agent Scully told me what you said about checking for other residences. And since the Austins have money, I asked. They don't have any."

"I told her to check warehouses, abandoned buildings, but...I don't think that's where he is. I think he likes it a little more isolated."

"Well, that's what Agent Scully was thinking, too. That's one reason why we were leaning more toowards Beaumont. He lives in the bayou. He's very familiar with that area. But...I don't know. I do know that if our theory about the slashes is right, Caroline is the T, and Agent Scully is the Y."

"She's the last. He could be planning a murder- suicide."

"He's kept Caroline alive longer than any of the other women-if she's still alive."

"She's his sister. He's having a hard time killing her."

"Let's hope he feels the same way about Agent Scully."


Backcountry
New Orleans

Scully wakes up groggy. Her head feels like it weighs a hundred pounds, and her limbs feel a little numb. She assesses her surroundings. She is in a small room. She is lying on a mattress on the floor, against one wall. Another mattress is against the wall across from her, and a woman is lying on it. She assumes this must be Caroline Austin. A crumbling fireplace is in the wall between them, and the door is in the fourth wall. The only light entering the room is the sunlight through the cracks in the dilapidated boards.

The door opens, and Joey enters. "How do you feel?" He looks at her, and he can see the answer. "Good. You won't put up a fight."

"Why are you doing this?" she breathlessly asks him. "I'm a mother."

"Mother," he snorts. "You're a whore."

"No," she whispers.

He slaps her hard in the face. "SHUT UP!" He tries to regain his composure. "You're just like her."

"Like who?"

He looks at her. "Like all the rest."


Motel 9
New Orleans

Was this God's cruel fate? Were they never to be together, never to be happy? Could God care that much about two people, to interfere in their lives in such a way that they would be kept apart?

He had never believed in God. Then, after his ordeal (that's what she keeps calling it) he was tempted. That's the real reason he came here to talk to Emily Hampton. Oh he's sure he'll get around to writing that article for the parapsychology journal, but he wanted more. He wanted to believe.

And now this.

A quick rap on the door, and Doggett enters the room. "Mulder."

He looks up. "Yeah."

"We got a break. A Cajun lady down in the bayou heard screams coming from the woods near her house."

"That would be perfect for him-relatively isolated with little interference." He pauses, sad. "Call me as soon as you know something."

Doggett looks at him. "Sure thing-but I thought you'd rather come along."


Backcountry
New Orleans

He keeps giving Scully some kind of sedative. She doesn't know how long she's been here, but she doesn't think it's been more than two days. She heard a woman crying earlier, and she hopes that means that Caroline is still alive.

She opens her eyes, and her hopes are alleviated. Caroline is lying on the other mattress, beaten and bloody, but alive. She is conscious. Joey is not in the room.

Scully decides to get up, and she regrets that decision immediately. She feels dizzy, weak, and her vision is blurry. She goes to Caroline.

"Caroline Austin?"

"Yes," she weakly affirms.

"My name is Dana Scully. I'm a federal agent. I'm going to get us out of here."

"He's crazy. He'll never let us go." Scully thinks about Mulder, and about her baby girl. Then she thinks about what Kayla told her. She must survive.

"What are you doing?"

She gets up, turning around a bit too quickly, and feels lightheaded. "Nothing."

"I'm NOT stupid, you know!"

"I know that." She eyes the door. He left it ajar.

"Come here." He has a disposable syringe in his hand.

"No." She takes a step backwards, hitting the wall. Keep him talking. "I don't understand something. Do you get that from Luc Beaumont?"

He smiles. Stupid girl. "No. He gets it from me. I use it for allergies, he uses it to help him sleep. Now come here." He grabs her arm, ready to give her another shot.

"No," she whimpers, trying not to sound weak.

She eyes the door again. She knows this is her only chance. With all the strength she can muster, she swings her right fist into his face. Then she knees him in the groin. He bends over in pain. She remembers Caroline. She pulls her to her feet, then half drags her out of what she now sees is an old weathered shed. They don't get far when Caroline stops. "I can't." She slides to the ground.

"Yes, you can." Scully pulls on her, weak herself, trying to get Caroline to stand.

"No," she whispers, defeated. "I hear him coming. You have to go. GO!"

Scully hesitates, then hears the leaves crunch and runs. She runs and runs as fast as she is able in her weakened condition. When she thinks she can run no farther, she stops and hides behind a tree. Everything is spinning, and her vision is not only blurry now, but dimming as well. Most likely side effects of the sedative.

"I can find you in these woods!"

She turns from the voice and begins to walk away from it, and it is then that Mulder sees her. She is walking with her hands stretched out in front of her, as if they are guiding her. She is stumbling, and he is standing close enough to see that she is shivering. He signals to Doggett that he is going to Scully, and Doggett signals back that he is taking the officers and going after Joey.

"You can't hide from me!"

Scully is visibly frightened by his voice, and although Mulder wants to run to her and put his arms around her, he doesn't want to scare Joey away. He sounds like he is close. Mulder inches towards her; he can hear her ragged breath. He feels her fear, her helplessness. She turns, and she is so close to him that he could touch her. She stops, squints her eyes. Her breathing quickens, and he realizes that she can't see him, or perhaps sees only a shadow. She is afraid that he is Joey. She takes a step backward.

"FEDERAL AGENT! ON THE GROUND! DON'T YOU MOVE!"

Scully jumps, and Mulder moves to her. He puts a hand on her shoulder, and she tries to pull away from him. "Scully. It's okay. It's me."

She stops fighting and looks up at him, trying to see him, but she only sees shadows. "Mulder?"

"Yeah." He cups her face with his hands. "It's okay. They got him. That's what you heard."

"Caroline. She's back there."

"They'll find her."

"I left her," she sobs. "I just ran..."

He pulls her to him, and she clings to him, sobbing into his chest. "It's okay. It's okay. It's over." He tells her that, but he doesn't believe it. He has a feeling this is far from over.


County General Hospital
New Orleans

He smiles when he sees her, safe in the hospital bed. "Hey, how are you feeling?"

She returns the smile. "Tired," she admits.

He sits down in the chair beside the bed. "That was a pretty strong sedative he gave you. Doctors said it could have knocked out a two hundred pound man in minutes. They're all wanting to know how a hundred pound woman managed to kick someone's ass while under its influence." She smiles again, and he looks at her. "They also said that the side effects you experienced were produced by mixing the sedative with...the kava you've been taking."

She looks up at him. "Mulder..."

"Why didn't you tell me, Scully?"

"I was just having trouble sleeping...nightmares..." She sighs. "I didn't want to worry you."

He brushes her hair out of her eyes. "I told you a long time ago that I never wanted you to feel you had to hide anything from me. That's especially true now."

He is looking at her so tenderly it brings tears to her eyes. "I'm...I'm sorry." He nods, and she takes a breath before telling him, "I've been thinking." He waits for her to continue. "Out there...all I thought about was you...and our little girl." Her voice quivers. "I forgot that I was out there doing a job. I didn't think about being an FBI agent." She looks as if she may cry. "I was afraid...afraid that I might never see either one of you again."

"But you're okay. Everything's going to be fine."

"What if there's a next time? And what if everything doesn't turn out fine?"

"Scully-"

"Let me finish." She casts her gaze downward so that she doesn't have to look in his eyes. "I know you'll probably be disappointed in me-"

"I could never-"

"Let me finish." She pauses. "I'm going to leave the X-Files. Go back to teaching pathology. I've made up my mind."

He lifts her chin so that she has to look at him. "Scully, I could never be disappointed in you. You don't know how much it's scared me to think that I wouldn't be there anymore...to protect you. I know you hate the thought of that, but that's the reality." He looks deep into her eyes. "I'm relieved in a way- especially if it's what you want. I could never be disappointed in you."

She smiles. "They're in good hands," she says, referring to the X-Files and to Special Agent John Doggett.

"I know...but Scully, it doesn't even matter anymore."

"I never thought I'd hear you say that."

"There's so much more that matters now."


Georgetown Three Days Later

Scully sits at the computer, staring at the screen. Her mind is trying to make sense of all that has happened.

It has been said that everyone is capable of murder, given the right circumstances. The debate between genetics versus behavior in cases of murder has been argued for many years. Even given her position as an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, she has never thought much about the argument. As a pathologist, she always began working after the murder had occurred.

Joey Austin was a star athlete, a good student, and well liked by his classmates. By all outward appearances, he was not a likely candidate for serial murder. Nonetheless, he murdered four women.

Was it the emotional trauma he experienced when his mother abandoned the family, coupled with his girlfriend's betrayal, which caused him to snap? Or were there already deep-rooted psychological abnormalities that simply went undetected until it was too late? And if it was the former, how much can each of us take until we, too, are pushed over the edge?

She thinks about that question for a moment, then decides it doesn't really matter. It is a question that for the first time in eight years she doesn't mind leaving unanswered. There is so much more that matters now.

She looks behind her. Mulder is sitting in the rocking chair, holding their little girl while she falls asleep. Scully smiles; she likes this side to him that has never been made available to her before. She is looking forward to discovering other sides. She thinks about Kayla's words to her: "The child is special. The child must be protected." She doesn't understand what those words mean, but she will abide by them.

Once again, Scully looks at the computer screen in front of her. She knows she is doing the right thing. She reads over the request for transfer to Quantico, then clicks print.

"If you reach for the moon and miss, at least you'll be among the stars."

The End

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