Title: X-Files Case 11245: Chameleon Eyes
Author: walterwatcher
Written: April 2001
Type: UST M/S, Angst, X-files
Rating: R to NC-17 because of violence and language.
Disclaimer stuff. I don't own any of them!!! I often fantasize that I do, but then who am I kidding. I'm just borrowing them to play. Chris Carter is the person who I borrowed them from and I promise to give them back when I'm done fantasizing...I mean playing. All characters that have never been seen on Fox Television (1013 Productions) are mine, but if you want to borrow them for fun, just let me know.

Summary: Mulder and Scully are working on a case about children being abducted and later found alive but severely traumatized.

She sighed when she walked into the office. His desk was covered with it's usual clutter and his large feet were perched precariously on the edge of his desk. His well-cut jacket was rumpled and she could tell he had been pulling at his tie. He had dark circles under his eyes and the floor was littered with sunflower seed shells.

"He never left." She thought to herself, a little upset and feeling a bit guilty. She knew that this new case was hard on him and it would be pulling on some sensitive strings, but she had felt that he was doing OK when she had left last night. She had obviously been wrong.

"Mulder, have you been here all night?" She knew the answer, but wanted to hear him say it. He didn't even look up, just nodded and shuffled through some more papers. He looked like a tired and scared little boy sometimes, and did so right now, but with eyes that spoke of the pain, sorrow and anger he often felt.

"Mulder, you look like hell!" She said as lightly as she could. She wanted him to see the humor in his particular situation.

"Thanks." He grinned, his face lighting up the way it always did when he smiled.

"You're late." He said, tapping his watch lightly and shaking a finger at her.

It was 7:30 in the morning and she knew that according to the FBI she didn't have to be in until 8:30, but she liked coming in early, if for no other reason that to get there before Mulder.

"I am not!" She said emphatically. She walked over to him and looked down to see what had kept his attention for the last 8 hours.

There were pictures of ten young girls, between the ages of 8 and 13. It was a strange and very unsettling case. It had been given to them three days ago. She could still remember the reports and Mulder's profile.

"He's male, most likely white. He is between the ages of 25 and 30 and small for his sized. He preys on girls between the ages of 8 and 12 because he feels they are defenseless and he enjoys the fact that they are virgins. He picks only girls that he truly sees as being innocent. As for the reason that he leaves them alive after raping and mutilating them, I think he wants them to remember that he was their first. He feels great pleasure in the fear he creates and the scares he leaves behind, both mental and physical."

Her mind flashed back to the pictures. This guy was twisted and the scariest part was that their was not super-natural or ET's involved. He was human, just like she was yet this man could do these things to these girls.

There was a map hanging on the wall behind Mulder's desk. Small flags marked the places where each girl had been found. HE had stayed mainly on the East Coast targeting certain states with several murders. The first one had been in Maine, and then a few in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. There was a new flag on North Carolina.

"Was there an eleventh victim?" She asked hoping that it had maybe been a mistake, but doubting it.

"Yes." He said in a defeated voice. "Her name was Rachel Eggerton, form Rosewood, North Carolina." He picked up a few pictures and a medical report, handing them to Scully.

The young girl was bandaged and there were small nicks and gashes on her face. Her neck had the imprints of fingers, like strangulation mars, but was also covered with what appeared to be hickey covering her once white skin.

Scully gasped as she skimmed over the report. The girls had been raped repeatedly. An unidentifiable chemical compound that left no traces had blinded her and he had cut and burned almost every part of her body. The medical report had a long list of the chemical that could have been used; though it was believed to be an acid.

She took the report and went over to the section of the office that Mulder had designated as hers. It was neat, papers in stacks or in-out trays, pens and other desk items were in the drawers. She sat down heavily. She knew they were going to Rosewood, but she had to ask.

"When are we leaving for Rosewood?"

"We have a 3:25 flight." He responded, not even looking up. She knew that his mind was working in over drive. An image of steam and flames shooting out of his ears made her laugh lightly to herself.

He heard her and was glad that this particular case hadn't gotten her too down. He tried, but couldn't resist, "What's so funny? My fly open?" He looked down teasingly.

She gave an exasperated sight and rolled her eyes; then grinned. "You wish." There was silence for an uncomfortable moment then both began. "Mulder I..."

"Scully you..." Both stopped.

"You first." Scully said, pointing at him playfully, happy that she had gotten in the first words.

"You know, I could go by myself." He paused, and looked at her for the first time. He could already hear the argument she was going to five. "You are dealing with a lot of things right now and" She cut him off before he could ever start his next point.

"Mulder, I'm fine!" She said, raising her voice to make a point. His request brought back a flood of memories. Her disappearance, the mysterious illness, Melissa's death and the thoughts that Mulder had been dead; they all rushed into her mind causing her to pale. Then she got mad at herself for showing weakness in front of him.

Mulder had seen her pale and had immediately been sorry for his suggestion. So much had happened to her that he was concerned, but knows that show hated it when he tried to protect her. She was a big girl and could take care of herself.

"Scully, I'm" He stopped, not sure how to fix it, finally deciding, "Scully what did you have to say to me?"

Her mind reeled, what had she wanted to say? She looked at him and saw the concern but she didn't care. She snapped at him, trying to rid herself of the frustrations. "I have several things to say to you." She paused and used her fingers to count off her points.

"First, all I wanted to know was how long we were going to be there. Second, if there were any leads yet and third to stop coddling me. I am fine!" Her cheeks had flushed with anger and her eyes were bright. Rather amusing thoughts of scenes from different movies ran through his head with the quote, "You're beautiful when you get angry." Or similar lines, but felt it was better left unsaid. He raised his hands as if to fend her off and ten tried to get out of the hole he had managed to dig for himself.

"Scully, we're only going to be there for 36 hours and we don't have much of anything. This guy is good. He leaves no evidence at least so far. But he's got to slip up soon."

They both sighed, as if mentally saying that everything was back to normal, both returning to the work in front of them. Scully read the report carefully, though if she forgot something she could just ask Mulder and he could quote the whole page to her. Sometimes it was a blessing that she had a photographic memory, but she knew that it brought a lot of pain too. He could remember every detail of his sisters disappearance, the deaths of friends and family; everything.

She looked at him. He always kept up a facade that he was find, but the cases that involved children, those seemed to affect him the most. This one was terrible. This case was different because this being was a monster and he was being driven. IT seemed to be a fetish.

"Mulder, is this guy escalating?" Thoughts of Donnie Pfaster filled her mind, sending chills down her back.

He saw the color drain from her already pale face as she made this observation. His mind reeled, sending him back to Pfaster and the memories of holding Dana after she had again been abducted. He had been able to help her that time, but still felt guilty. "I have seen no evidence of that. It started suddenly, however it is possible that he was molesting, stalking or raping before this. He isn't taking anything from the girls as a momento." Not really wanting to say it but feeling it was the point she had been trying to make. "Pfaster had a different psychosis and motive driving him." He looked up at her, catching her unsteady gaze.

"So what do you think is driving him?" Her voice was tinged with frustration.

"He seems to be driven by the need to punish them. Like I said in my report, he is leaving them alive so that they remember what happened." He said it flatly, not wanting to make it sound more pleasant, because that would only serve to make her mad.

An uncomfortable silence filled the room. Both were startled by the sudden shrill of a telephone. "Scully." She toned in, getting to the phone before he did. He watched her as she received the information pouring from the earpiece. She slowly hung up the phone, then turned to retrieve her coat and purse. "Mulder, one of he families brought their daughter up and want me to take a look at her." He could see that she did not like this idea at all.

He nodded and tried to give her a smile of encouragement. "Well good luck and I'll come down and see how it's going in a hour or so. Don't forget we are going to North Carolina this afternoon." She nodded and pushed through the door, closing it softly behind her.

FBI Medical Lab 8:15AM

The young girl sat on the table. A hospital gown too large for her slight frame hung loosely. Her blond hair was tied back in a ponytail and her pale skin was spotted with healing abrasions. Gauze was taped over her eyes and she shivered lightly when the door opened.

Her parents sat on the side of the room. Shadows of sleepless nights, pain and anger played on their faces. When she walked in she way a look of hope fill their eyes. She approached them, looking down at the file she had been given before the meeting.

"Hello Mr. and Mrs. Hulten. My name is Dana Scully." She extended her hand for them to take which each did in turn. The man's brown hair was disheveled and his eyes looked at her with empty plead. "My name is Jeff and this is my wife Karen. Our daughter, Brittany prefers to be called Britt." He choked out.

Dana turned their attention back to the girl. She wished Mulder were here to talk to this girl. The report had said she hadn't said a word but evidence had pointed towards several sexual assaults along with physical torture: the cuts and burns on most of her extremities.

"Britt, my name is Dana Scully and I am a doctor for the F.B.I." She stated as she approached the girl, not wanting to startle her. "I need to look at our arms and legs, then your eyes and back. Is it OK if I touch your arm?" When she saw no reaction, Dan reached out her latex covered hand and touched Britt's fore arm. The girl did not move. It was like she wasn't aware of anything around her. She didn't' seem to feel anything.

She knew that in many cases, sometimes people just shut down everything and hid in there own sub-conscious to not have to deal with what had happened. It was a perfectly natural reflex that if left untreated led to death or a brain dead like existence. She obviously understood what was going on around her, she just reacted mechanically. No feeling at all.

"Britt, can you hear me?" She questioned, still holding her small arm. She gently lifted it, seeing if she would resist. She did not. Dana turned to her parents, "How longs has she been this way?" Their glassy eyes darted from the agent to their daughter.

"When she was first found, she was in a comma. She awoke four days later screaming and has not made a sound since. Only recently have we been able to move about, before we had her on IV feeding and all that stuff. She will eat, sleep and move but only when told to or led." The anguish in his voice made her shudder.

"Do you think I could spend a few minutes alone with her?" She said tentatively, not sure how they would react. She didn't want to examine the girl with her parents' right there, for Britt's sanity and theirs.

They nodded and slowly stood, walking out of the room. Scully turned back to her patient. It all of a sudden struck her that this girl was alive and except for Mulder she seldom had the pleasure of working with live patients. Unfortunately, this young lady was not acting like a live and responsive patient today.

"Britt, I want you to listen very carefully." She said in a soft but firm voice, "My partner and I are working very hard to catch the person that did this to you." She noticed her head move up a little higher, like she was trying to get a look at her. She continued. "I would like you to try and nod your head for me." She saw Britt's head fall forward a bit. "Now shake it, like saying no." She watched and saw an almost imperceptible movement to the right.

"Good job. Now lest start small." She turned o a small recorder. "I am recording this so I will be telling the machine the answers I believe you are giving, so it will give you a chance to correct me, OK?" There was a slight nod.

"Yes." Scully stated into the microphone.

"Is your name Brittany Hulten?" She nodded again. "Are you nine years old?" Britt moved her head left and then right. "Are you ten?" She asked softly and soon a nod of agreement followed. This was going to work, but only if she skirted some of the things that would most like flustering her and making her shut down again.

"Now Britt, I am going to ask you some more questions that we really need to know the answers to so we can help you and all the others this person has hurt, OK?" She nodded again.

"Do you remember anything about the person that took you?" She nodded slowly. Scully then asked several questions, waiting for her movement, then adding the answer in her own voice.

"Was it a man?" <nod>

"Did you ever see him?" <shake>

"Did he smell funny?" <shake>

"Did you hear him speak?" <nod>

"Did he seem tall to you?" <shake>

"Was he small, short?" <nod>

"How could you tell?" She asked, forgetting that it wasn't a yes and no question.

"I just could." Came an unexpected response that startled Scully.

"How could you tell?" She prodded, hoping to get more of a description.

"His hands were small and he always spoke just above my head, like he was short." She shuddered.

"Britt, I am going to ask you one more question and it will help us, but it will not be an easy one." She waited a minute, forming the question in her mind. "I want you to think about when he hurt you." She saw her body tense. "Britt, he can't hurt you anymore. You are safe. But what I want to know, is when he hurt you, is there anything about his body you can remember? Anything about him that is different from what you would think of as normal." The girl's lips were quivering.

She sat there, and Dana felt herself wilt. She had failed and in doing so she had pushed Britt back into herself, but then she spoke. "He didn't have hair." She said flatly.

Scully looked at her carefully. "Can you explain that to me. He didn't have hair, where his head, arms...where?"

"He didn't have hair anywhere, at all. Even in places that are supposed to." She said quietly, hanging her head in unspoken shame.

Dana reached out and took her hand, very quietly said, "Thank you Britt, you are a brave little" Dana paused, "young woman." She finished. She saw Britt's head come up and a little smile played across her lips.

"Britt, now I have to look at you. I will be using my hands and some instruments. If I do something that you don't want me to do, just stop me."

Dana started looking at and measuring her wounds. Many had already healed, but her arms and legs were covered with scabs, stitches and burns. The burns were caused by a cigarette lighter or something similar to that because all were concentric circles, with the largest ring being 16 mm in diameter.

"Do you know how he made these marks?" She asked, hoping she wasn't' pushing, but needing to know.

"It was a knife with saw teeth." Scully listened and recognized the description of a hunting knife or some sort of serrated blade. My God, how could anyone do this to her, or anyone for that matter.

"Is there anything that he said or did that you want to tell me about?" Dana said softly, while bring her clothes to her.

Her body tensed, but then she sighed. "He called me his sweet daughter, and, and he gave me hot baths everyday. I didn't like it when he did that." She said vehemently. Dana Scully looked at this young girl and wondered exactly what had happened to her.

"Britt here are your clothes. Let's get you dressed and back home. I'm going to give you my card and if you think of anything you want to tell more ask me, just call. Any hour, any day."

The little girl smiled, "Thank you, um, I don't know what to call you." She said.

"Dana, OK Britt?" She nodded and smiled again.

Once they got her dressed Dana led her out to where her parents were. She must have heard them, because she turned and faced them. "Can we go home?" She asked. They both stared at her and then at the petite red head.

They walked to their daughter, tears streaming down their faces whispering thank yous to the agent and God. She handed each of the one of her cards and told them to call her any time, then left them to comfort each other.

She went back into the room and sat down at a desk, thinking. She suddenly felt awful and very tired. She had every intention of writing the report, but lay her head down in the crook of her arm, closing her eyes slowly.

Medical Lab in the F.B.I. 10:50AM

Mulder walked into he lab, expecting to see Scully working on the phone, talking to someone, anything but that which he found. Her soft auburn hair fanned out over the desk and he could see her body move slightly with each breath. He stared for a moment. The urge to caress her hair caused him to move forward.

As he got closer, he saw that she had been working on the report. He picked up some of her notes, scanning them quickly. "She got her to talk!" He whispered. He put the notes down again and looked at the telephone on the desk. Filing the number somewhere in his vast memory, he exited the room.

He pulled out his cellular from a pocket and called the room. It rang only once before a slightly startled voice came over the line, "Scully."

"Scully, it's me." His voice pulled her from the comfortable sleepy warmth and demanded her attention.

"What is it Mulder?" She said sitting up stiffly and rubbing her eyes.

He softly pushed the door open and walked in to the medical lab. He continued his conversation on the phone. "I wanted to know how it went. Did you get anything from her?" He grinned as he watcher her react to his questions; sighing first then flipping through her notes.

"Yes Mulder, I got a lot of information from her." She stopped to look at the incomplete report form.

"Let me guess." He said mischievously. His voice sounded strange to her, but she couldn't figure out what it was. He continued grinning while he spoke, "He is short with a low voice. He has no hair on his body and was armed with a cigarette lighter and a hunting knife. Right?"

She gasped and stood up from her chair. "Yes, how did you know?" She heard the laughter through the phone and then heard it with her other ear. She turned on her heel and stared at him. He was laughing which made him seem so much younger. This case had really drained him and this light playful mood was helping him and she was glad.

"Mulder." She started, still talking into the phone. He laughed again, a wide smile spreading across his face. His warm eyes drained her anger and she started to laugh herself. Dealing with such a horrific case was always difficult and this felt good.

She turned, trying half heartedly to muffle her laughter and hung up the phone. She straightened out her notes, grabbed the tape recorder and the rest of her belongings. "Let's go Mulder," she said in her most serious voice.

"My place or yours?" he asked, trying to keep the banter going. She raised one eyebrow and stated at him before giving her response.

"The office, but we'll have to clean off your desk first." He looked at her with a slightly bewildered gaze, then grinned. He knew he could retort, but felt that this little game was probably best left unfinished. "Never know where it might lead," he thought. Not that he would mind.

He watched as she organized herself, not a hair out of place, clothing neat. She only wore soft lipstick and sometime something on her eyes, but she never seemed to need it. The winter paleness of her skin had returned, softening the visible freckles. Her sharp, blue eyes were filled with amusement, but never far behind were the pain and tension of the case and their life styles. He hated himself when he would start to look at her as a woman instead of as his partner and friend. He forces those thought from his mind knowing that nothing would ever come of them, she was too professional and he could never risk what they had for the simpler pleasures that could come from that kind of intimacy.

"Shall we go?" She was headed to the door and out before he caught up with her.

They returned to their joint office. The ragged poster of the UFO and the phrase "I WANT TO BELEIVE" typed in large letters hung precariously on the far wall. She looked at the map and then her watch. They had less than four hours to get everything together, pack; her stomach rumbled reminding her that she hadn't eaten breakfast. She hoped Mulder hadn't heard but he must have because he asked if she wanted to go to lunch. She blushed and nodded.

He had seen her reaction and wondered at her thoughts causing her to blush. She still looked tired, but maybe a good lunch and coffee would help. He grabbed the most recent case reports and they left.

11:30 AM Little Tokyo Restaurant

"Mulder, we don't have time to be doing this." She was frustrated that he had brought her here. She wanted to write up the report and pack.

"Scully, we need a quiet place to talk about this case. Besides, I needed to get out of the office." He looked at her with pleading eyes.

"OK Mulder, but fast!" He gave her a triumphant smirk and got them a table for two.

The sat and ordered. Scully was reading over her notes, jotting down things that were important. He looked at her and saw the distress on her face.

"Scully, are you OK?" Mulder was staring at her. She shook her head.

"I'm fine Mulder. It's just that little girl I saw this morning." She looked at him, then smiled. "How are you?" She knew that this was upsetting him, and she hoped he would tell her. Their relationship was so close, they knew so much about each other, but there was this invisible chasm that had developed. They both knew it was there but how to deal with it was beyond either of them.

He looked at her and then averted his eyes. He was tempted to try and cross the chasm by telling her, but changes his mind. "I don't know what you mean Scully." She tried to catch his eyes but he stared at the dessert menu.

They both continued to look at their paper work and waited for their food. He looked at her and said quietly, "Scully, you got her to talk to you." His voice was almost questioning her. He had reviewed her case and it had said that in the two weeks since her return she hadn't said a word. He picked up the tape player and rewound it a bit.

He listened to their voices. "'...um, I don't know what to call you?' 'Dana, OK Britt?'" He heard shuffling and then the noises stopped.

"You helped her in a way that three counselors, a shrink, teachers and even her own parents hadn't been able to do. I am impressed." He watched her reaction as color spread across her cheeks. She was surprised by her own response to his words; it wasn't like he ever complemented her or anything.

"Thanks. I just made it easy for her I guess. I understand what she went through." She said this quietly and regretted it immediately when she looked at him. His eyes lit up with interest, observing her carefully.

"What do you mean? Have you been remembering more of your abduction?" He watcher her, judging her reaction. She looked down. She knew that he was concerned, but the memories that this case had jarred were totally different and had nothing to do with her abduction. She hadn't thought about that incident in a long time and had no desire to right now.

"Mulder, I...it's something from a long time ago, OK?" He looked at her and then nodded, hoping that someday she would share.

They discussed the case, figuring out all they knew about the suspect. They knew his approximate height; he had a low voice, general size and then the fact that he had no hair.

They went back to the building. Mulder had paid for lunch as he had promised, but she felt self-conscious because it was too much like a date to have one person pay. Did it matter, she thought. They did this quite often and she was now worrying, why?

Going their separate ways to finish up their wok before they had to leave. They met at Dulles later and flew out. Both slept on the plane, which was surprising, not at all normal.

Scully awoke with a start and tried to situate herself. She looked at her partner, his quiet and peaceful face was relaxed. He had a soft smile on his lips that made him look so young and handsome. She reached up to touch his face, caressing his cheek. She dropped her hand and looked away. Why had she done that, she had no idea?

He had sensed her hand near his face. Why had he pretended to be asleep? When he had felt her hand on his face he was shocked. Her fingertips brushed the sides of his face lightly and he could smell the light perfume that she wore. He was immediately aroused, as she removed her hand and he had to keep himself in check not to grab her right there and kiss it. He felt her shift in her seat and could tell she was not looking at him anymore.

He dropped his head forward, jerking upwards and feigned that he had suddenly woken up. He blinked his eyes, pretending that he was adjusting to the light. "Scully, are we there yet?" he asked through a fake yawn.

She turned back to him. Her cheeks were flushed and she wouldn't meet his eyes. She looked around, trying unsuccessfully to organize her thoughts. "I don't think so." But as if on cue the captain's voice chimed in over the intercom.

"We will be beginning our descent. The weather is slightly overcast and there is a reported possibility of snow. Welcome to North Carolina."

He watched Scully as she grabbed her brief case, stowing her laptop and the files on the other cases. He didn't know what to make of the incident and he couldn't ask because that would just make her mad. Just let it go, he thought.

They landed without incident and retrieved their belongings. They acquired their rental and decided it was best to go see the local police about the case first, and announce their presence. Didn't' want to step on anyone's toes.

There was a comfortable silence in the car as they drove towards Rosewood. Mulder thought about the last time they had been in North Carolina had been interesting. The case had put them on an army base being used as a holding area for Haitian Refugees and there had been some bizarre deaths, which they had eventually traced back to voodoo. He forced the thoughts from his head.

They arrived in Rosewood and talked to the police. Scully had an appointment with the doctor that had done the preliminary work on Rachel. When they left, Scully got directions to the Bed and Breakfast they had made arrangements in. Scully drove, knowing that Mulder would most likely get them lost. "I just don't understand how you can get lost when you have a photographic memory." She had teased, but it was actually true.

They stopped in front of the quaint little Bed and Breakfast. It had white walls with soft grays and brick red paint used on the trim, shutters and windows. There was an older looking woman in the front yard. She watched as the couple got up from their car. The way they moved, the comfort they obviously shared in each other's company and they way in which a look could be used to communicate was immediately noticed.

She had been in love like that once. When her husband had died, a little piece of her went with him. She always felt she was incomplete and would never feel whole again, until the "good lawd" took her into his embrace.

She watched them approach, each carrying their own luggage. Maybe they didn't realize they were in love yet. Oh well, they would eventually, she was sure of that.

"Mam', my name is Fox Mulder and this is my partner Dana Scully." They stopped and shook hands.

"I'm Holly Kirsch." She said warmly, smiling at them. "Your rooms are ready, if you'll follow me I'll take you on a full tour so you won't get lost." This made Dana smile widely and Fox rolled his eyes with an accompanying sigh.

She took hem up the stares and showed them each to their rooms. Dana's was decorated in soft creams and blues. A queen size bed sat in the middle of the room and a pillowed window seat looked out on the forested area behind the house. She loved her room. This trip might turn out OK after all.

Then she took them to Mulder's, it was right next to Scully's room. It had bookcases lining the wall one side of the room and there was a roll-top desk sitting I the corner. The wood paneling and floors were dark in color and a hand-quilted comforter covered the bed. This room looked pleasant and it had a window seat also. He noticed that the bookcases were on the wall that joined Scully's room. A fleeting thought of secret passages whirled through his mind. Why would he want to be connected to her, but he liked it when they had joined rooms.

"Mulder, this is a wonderful room. Looks like you're going to have to sleep in a bed though." She laughed at the joke. The older woman didn't understand the humor but saw the sparkle of laughter in both of their eyes and it made her laugh too.

She took them through the rest of the house. She ended in the kitchen and asked if they had eaten on the plane. Both agents said no so she bustled about the kitchen making sandwiches and tea. Dana offered to help, but Holly declined the offer.

She sat them down in the living room and brought in the food. They thanked her as she turned to leave. "Well good night Dana, Fox. If you need anything you know where I am. Good night." She had noticed the slight look of discomfort cross the young man's face, but it had disappeared almost as suddenly as it had appeared.

She shuffled off but heard Dana's light laughter fill the room. She wondered what was so funny and let herself into her own room. She liked them both. The reminded her of her own daughter and her husband.

They both munched on the sandwiches. "Fox," she started with a mischievous grin, "I don't want to find you on the couch tomorrow, is that understood?"

"Yes Dr. Scully." She looked at him carefully.

"So what do you think about this case? You haven't given me an explanation as to why we were called in on this. It isn't an X-file, so why were we assigned to this?" He shook his head slowly.

"Scully, honestly I had been following this case when it was in VC and Skinner must have know. By the fifth one, the agents were getting upset and they wanted off, so he asked me and I said yes."

"Why Mulder? This is a terrible case and this can't be a case you would normally want." She sighed, "I just don't understand."

"I know you think I did this because of my sister, but not every move I make stems from her abduction." He said defensively, raising his voice slightly. He looked at her, watching her reaction. She had looked away when he started getting upset.

"Mulder, I didn't mean that." She said a little exasperated. "I just don't understand."

He put down the rest of his sandwich, got up and began to pace the floor. He wouldn't look at her, but continued to pace. She sat back, waiting for him to calm down. She had seen him do this before, but this came on so suddenly.

He turned back to her. She could see his eyes in the soft light streaming from the antique lamp. She could see the pain, anger and frustration. As he met her eyes she saw something else in them that made her gasp.

They finished their quiet meal and Mulder grabbed the plate, wandering into the kitchen. He didn't turn on the lights, just set the plate in the sink and leaned against the counter. He hated this case. Scully was right about his sister though. He knew when he began following the case that he was scared for the young girls. He was a trained psychologist and recognized the signs of associative behavior. He was trying to atone for his own mistakes by helping these girls, but like his sister he was failing.

"Scully," he said quietly, leading both of them back to the couch.

"Mulder, I'm sorry. I...I had no right to assume anything about you and this case."

He shook his head and sat down on the other end of the couch, opposite from her small frame. "Scully you were right. I didn't want to face it." He kept shaking his head. He leaned forward resting his head in his hands. "I feel so guilty, responsible, I have to help these girls." He heard her begin to say something but he raised one hand as a signal for her to stop. "When Samantha was taken from be, it was my fault. I couldn't move to help her." His voice was quiet and muffled. "And when you were taken, I couldn't help you. They took you from me..." He sighed again, leaning further forward.

She got up and moved next to him. She could see him shaking silently. She reached over, brushing a stray lock from his forehead. He almost cringed at her touch, trying to pull away from her.

"Mulder, it wasn't' your fault!" She said, with an edge in her voice that made her sound very serious. He looked up at her. She could see the trail of a single tear slowly sliding down his cheek. She wiped it away gently with her thumb. His skin felt cool, her fingers were warm and soft.

"It was not your fault. There is nothing that you could have done; for these girls, for me or for Samantha." He stared to look away but she grasped his chin with her fingers and thumb, gently turning him back towards her.

He looked at her. Her touch was like fire. When she took her hand from his face he could still feel her fingers. He looked into her soft, blue eyes and she met his gaze. His hand rose and gently pushed a strand of her auburn hair from her face. He felt his desire for her rise. He had begun to see that see that since her abduction, then her return and then to deal with the fact that he had signed her death warrant in the form of a Living Will, he had felt things for her that were not professional.

She watched his eyes. His warm and breath-takingly beautiful pools of green and gold flecks that shimmered and changed color in the light, seemed to touch her soul. His hand was still touching her hair. She was sure she could feel his fingers in her hair even as he slowly moved it down her face, tracing her jaw and then slid to her neck. She shivered.

He misinterpreted her shiver and pulled his hand away. He stood up and suddenly walked away from her. He was scared because the emotions he was feeling were things he WAS NOT supposed to be feeling. His thoughts were unprofessional. He couldn't jeopardize what he had with her, she was his partner and best friend, and he loved her but it had always been a protect little sister like love. Something had changed. Something was changing between them.

"Scully?" He asked in an almost timid voice. Her face slowly turned up to look at him standing above her. She was kneading her hands together and chewing n her lower lip. When he caught her eye she stopped. Her lips were parted slightly and he watched, fascinated as the color slowly crept into her cheeks.

Her lips were all he could see. The softness they must possess, the slight quiver of her bottom lip and suddenly he was there. Their softness against his own. He didn't remember bending down or starting it, but he was there now and it felt right.

He sensed her tense and pull back. He broke from her, standing up straight and stepping back. "Oh God Scully, I'm...I'm so sorry. I don't know what happened. I..." He couldn't say anymore. He looked at her on the floor and took several steps away. Thoughts raced through his head, he had ruined everything. She would never forgive him. He could see her marching into Skinner's office and demanding a transfer back to Quantico so she wouldn't have to work with him or be near him. "Oh God!" He sighed under his breath.

Scully had been surprised to feel his lips, the soft and unsure kiss that had been like a child's, yet full of passion. Chills had run through her body, sending fingers of pleasure to her breasts and the small of her stomach. Her body's response had shocked her and she had pulled back form him. Now he stood there looking down on her, mumbling, but she couldn't hear him. She saw the desire in his eyes, but there was a sad and sorry, almost ashamed look of a little boy masked behind the longing look. She slowly let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding. She wanted to say something. She wanted things back to the way they had been, right?

She mentally kicked herself forever thinking it. The only way to salvage the situation sprung into her mind, and though she wasn't normally an impulsive person, she did not stop to think about what her actions would mean.

She stood up and walked the several steps needed to close the space between them. She brought one hand up. He seemed to cower at that movement, like he feared she would slap him. A fleeting thought of disappointment whisked through her mind, wondering how he could think that.

Her fingers sunk into his soft, brown hair. His eyes swung from the floor to her face, searching her eyes for something. She guided his face down to hers gently, meeting in the soft warmth of a kiss. His arms wrapped around her, pulling her closer. She parted her lips slightly, pressing her tongue against his lips then teeth and eventually pushing into his mouth.

Tentatively they tasted each other. She felt his hands caressing her back. Her hands had moved to his back. She could feel the warmth of his skin through his shirt and felt the muscles ripple beneath her fingertips. She explored the roof of his mouth with her tongue slowly and then pulled him into her mouth. He seemed almost timid in his advances, his tongue probed the back of her teeth and the rest of her mouth. He smelled wonderful, a slightly spicy scent, overlaid by what she knew to be his smell, uniquely Mulder.

He pulled back form her slightly, kissing the corner of her mouth, then her chin; leaving a trail of gentle kisses to her throat. He kissed softly, nibbled playfully, flicking his tongue lightly over her soft skin. Her hair tickled his forehead as he moved to the side of her neck, exploring the sensitive skin below her ear. The breathing came is soft gasps as they explored each other, tasting and touching lovingly. He returned to her lops, gently kissing her and then pulled back.

He looked at her carefully, the flush on her cheeks and neck glowed in the pale light of the room. Her eyes were glazed but her smile was unforgettable. She stood merely inches away smiling softly, seductively.

God she was beautiful. He knew what he wanted. He wanted her right there on the floor, the couch, and his room. It didn't matter as long as he had her.

"Mulder?" Her voice startled him form his thoughts and he realized he must have been staring. Her voice was husky and soft, almost caressing his ear. He made eye contact, searching her face for an answer or the words she wanted to hear.

"Mulder, I think we should go to bed." He smiled widely. "In our own rooms." She finished. His smile faded, but then he looked at her again, carefully.

"All right." He smiled at her gently squeezing her shoulder. "Goodnight Dana."

"Goodnight Fox." She smiled as she said his name, and walked towards the stairs. She stopped and looked at him. "Mulder, you are coming up aren't you?" It was an innocent question and he knew that she wanted to make sure he slept in his bed.

"Is that an invitation?" She sighed and turned around, climbing the stairs slowly. She heard him sit down on the couch and decided it wasn't going to work unless she dragged him and she didn't think that would be a good idea. "Never know where you will drag him..." Her mind wandered with that thought as she entered the bathroom and then walked to her room. He still hadn't come up and she thought about checking on him, but decided that he would be find. As she changed into a nightshirt, her body was still tingling with he sensual excitement and warmth that she hadn't felt in a long time. Since she had been teamed with Mulder. She remembered his worlds like he had said them yesterday. "Nobody down here but the FBI's most unwanted!"

She pulled back the comforter and sheets quickly climbing into bed. The room had a light smell of lilacs and the sheets felt cool against her warm skin. As she lay down she had a fleeting thought that Mulder would probably be on the couch when she woke up? She smiled, thinking about him but then in the darkness of her own room she began to think about what this was going to mean.

She knew that she loved him and had for a long time, but their friendship, partnership and the FBI Rules of Conduct had held her back. Her mother and sister had often goaded her about him, and they insisted on calling him Fox. She didn't know what she was going to do or how she could possibly deal with this now but it had happened and they would deal with it. Just not right now she thought and closed her eyes to the world around her.

Mulder found himself alone. There was no TV or VCR, not that there were any of his usual viewing choice present in this house. No stereo, not even the comforting sounds of his fish tank to keep him company. He didn't think he would be able to sleep, but decided it might be good to try. He slowly climbed the stairs, stopping in front of her door listening silently for any sound. There was non, she must be asleep.

He went to his room, grabbing his toiletries and retreated to the confines of the bathroom. He could smell her in here and yanked back the shower curtain. Pulling on the knob, allowing the cold water to spill over his hand. Stripping, he silently stepped into the cold stream. The shock of the cold water forced thoughts from his mind and body painfully and he gasped.

After his some-what relaxing but cold shower he walked across the hall to his room. He went to the window seat and found is gaze following a slow moving light in the sky. It disappeared and he felt goose flesh spring up from his scantily clad body. HE walked back to the bed and pulled back the covers, he could at least pretend that he had slept in the bed.

He thought of Dana as he climbed into bed. He laughed when had it become Dana? He remembered exactly when. He knew how he felt about her, he did lover her but knew that everything he ever tried to love had hurt him or been taken form him and he didn't think he could handle loosing her again.

In bed and lying down he felt his eyes begin to drift shut and he was surprised at how tired he felt. The bed, though foreign to him, was comfortable and smelled much better than the soft leather of his couch. His last thoughts before slipping into his unconscious were of her, memories of her in different place, doing different things.

Shaking his hand and staring him down.

Arguing that following this lead was not logical.

Typing away on her laptop.

Waking up to her standing over him, smiling.

Hours in quarantine talking.

Dinner at some greasy spoon where she always got a salad.

Hotel rooms...cars...Holding her tightly while she cried after her rescue from Donnie Pfaster...Holding her in the hospital room when she had told him Melissa had died and she had been waiting for him.

Driving, talking, silent communications that they would share with their eyes. Dana Katherine Scully had become very important part of his life and he couldn't' bring himself to even fathom life without her.

A dark fog over-took him and he found himself lying on the floor across from Samantha playing Stratego. He was letting her win cause he already knew where her flag was hidden. Sitting on the floor next to Samantha was and older woman that he knew he was supposed to recognize.

"Dana?" He whispered in his dreamy mind. The red haired woman nodded and sat back on her knees. She wore a suit, dark blue blazer and matching skirt and he could see the soft fold of silk billowing form her blouse. A glint of gold caught his eye; a delicate cross hung gently around her soft throat.

"Fox?" Both women said in tentative voices. There was alight in the room, filling every corner with a blinding whiteness. He pulled his hand up to shield his eyes and he could see the dark silhouettes filling the open doorway and windows. The light focused on Samantha, Dana and himself and he saw the strange, lanky creatures come forward and take Samantha. Two Men in Black stepped forward and started to drag Dana away. He recognized both of them, the darkened features of Duane Barry and the tight, drawn face of Donnie Pfaster.

"No!" He yelled. He tried to move but couldn't. The light held him. He heard voices in his head telling him he didn't need them, that they were important to their work. They needed them. "No! Bring them back!" He saw them leaving, the women he loved more than life itself were struggling but couldn't get free.

He couldn't move, couldn't breath, tried to scream but it came out in a strangled cry.

She awoke with a start. She had dreamt of Donnie Pfaster again. He was always asking her what kind of hair she had, or looking at her fingers longingly or yelling at and telling her she couldn't' get away. His voice was filled with contempt as he called after her, "You can't run away girlie girl."

It wasn't the dream that woke her, it was a sound. There it was again. Muffled cries passed through the walls to her room and she felt herself rise and pad over to the wall to listen. She heard him yell but he words were unrecognizable. She could picture him there, thrashing and carrying, like a child. He yelled something else and this time she recognized her own name and Samantha's. That decided it.

She walked out her door and to his, opening it gently. His body was curled up in fetal position, wrapped tensely around one of the pillow. A sheen of sweat coated his skin. As she approached she heard him mumbling things. She felt like she was intruding, but she couldn't' just leave him there.

She sat down on the edge of the bed and brushed some hair out of his face. He froze, pulling the pillow tighter. "Mulder, I'm right here." She said quietly, stroking his arm that was gripping the pillow tightly. He started to let go of the pillow and she pulled it from him gently. She was surprised that he wasn't awake yet. He was a very light sleeper and normally woke up at the slightest sound or movement in the room.

She moved next to him and lay back against the headboard. She felt very sleepy and felt his arms wrap around her, pulling her to him. She had become the pillow in his mind. She tried to pull away but his grip tightened. She sighed and slouched down on the bead. He had stopped crying in his sleep and as he pulled her closer he seemed to relax, a small smile wiping away the worried creases on his forehead. She reached for the comforter that he had kicked off and pulled it over them. He snuggled up against her and she tensed.

"What the hell am I doing?" She thought, almost yelling at herself in her mind. "What am I doing?" She repeated in her mind as a mantra over and over. She felt her eyes beginning to shut and she drifted off wondering what she was going to do.

His fluttered open to see the soft tresses of auburn shimmered in the light dripping through the nearby window. He felt the warmth of their soft curves pressed against him. It was so quiet, warm and peaceful he just wanted to go back to sleep, pull her closer. He wanted to return to the first dreamless sleep he remembered having is such a long time.

He could feel and hear her breathing. They weren't even or steady which meant she was o the verge of consciousness. He was all of a sudden very worried about how she would react. He felt her move against him, her legs brushed against his, then her body went stiff.

<Where am I?> She thought to herself. She felt arms around her and could sense Mulder behind her, instinctively she tensed. His body was warm and comfortable. She realized where she was, remembering his nightmare. She could feel the muscles in his arms and legs, yet he held her so gently, like she would break and she wanted nothing more than to lean back and snuggle into his embrace but all the codes of conduct that Skinner had made them sign flashed before her closed eyes.

She sat up, yanking away form him. "I have to go back," she said in a slightly slurred voice. She threw back the comforter and climbed out of bed. She crossed her arms across her chest protectively and looked at the floor. Realizing what she was wearing and what had happened she blushed. She turned and looked at him again. He was just laying there looking at her, his hazel eyes smiled at her and she felt the warmth in his gaze, not saying anything. She turned around and walked out of the room.

Exhaling with a silent sigh of relief when the door shut, he hadn't realized he was holding his breath. He had wanted to say something but couldn't think of anything. The soft gray fabric of her nightshirt had clung to the soft curves of her body, ending on the lower part of her thigh. What could he have said or done to explain, to make everything all right.

She walked back to her room, still shaking form the experience. She could feel the warmth of his arms around her, smell him, and hear him. Her body tingled with a warming jolt of excitement.

"I need a shower." She said out loud, just to hear her own voice.

Getting out of his bed he silently found the clothing he needed for he day. He forced the thoughts of her from his mind, instead calling up all the medical files and police reports. This guy was unusual and Mulder was having a lot of trouble nailing down what was driving him. Sounds of water running brushed his mind, but he was focusing on the reports so I barely registered. He shut his eyes going over the faces of each victim. Something clicked.

He ran out of his room, still clad in only black silk boxers. Down stairs he searched the living room. He heard Holly walking around in the kitchen, but he could only focus on this new piece of the puzzle. It was there, it had to be. He just wasn't seeing it yet.

He yanked open his brief case, spilling the files on the thick rug that squished between his toes. He sifted through the organized chaos, finding the files of each victim. He had felt a nagging voice saying he was missing something every time he looked at their faces. He looked at the image of each girl, and his mind made one of its leaps that had given him his beloved nickname, Spooky.

He lay each of the pictures out on the floor, examining each one closely. There was something about them. There had to be a similarity. Each of the girls was between the ages of 8 and 13 and lived in two parent families. Some were blond and others dark haired, there was one red head that had reminded him of Dana. He looked and looked at the white faces of each of the girls. He could see the photos taken by the doctors and police flash behind his eyelids, but he opened his eyes to view them again. For all intensive purposes, each girl could have been a child model, for they were all beautiful. The long lashes, perfect face and eyes that seemed to look into the soul, but what was it about them.

His eyes lingered on one of the victims. The picture of her smiling, her soft brown hair curled and danced on her neck. She had piercing hazel eyes and he could imagine them changing to green or brown like his sister's eyes had. His head snapped up and he gasped.

"That's it!" He said excitedly, not even realizing he had said it aloud.

"That's what?" Questioned Holly, she had left the kitchen at he exclamation. She watched him, kneeling on the floor with folders spread out all over the thick burgundy Oriental rug that decorated the wooden floor. He didn't notice her, he just continued to flip through each of the pictures.

His mind reeled. How could we have missed these? Every single girl had been born with Chameleon eyes. Hazel eyes that would change color depending on their mood or the color of their clothing. He had them and his sister had also had them, but hers change so deeply you often forgot their true color.

The rapist must be getting very close to be able to see their eyes, to know they were chameleon. He stood up suddenly, startling Holly as she watched him working feverently. He dropped the photos on the floor and turned, finally registering her presence.

"Good morning," he said, smiling at her. Drafts from somewhere send a cool breezed across his bare chest. He looked down at himself and then up at Holly again. She was grinning, her eyes filled with mirth.

"Good morning Fox. You know if I was a few years younger I would be in a whole heap of trouble, you standing here in my living room clad in just that." She gestured at his boxers. His cheeks burned with sudden embarrassment and he looked away.

<What the hell? I just blushed!> His mind was reeling with the embarrassment and the knowledge of this new development. "If you will excuse me, I think I will go up and get ready. Wouldn't want to get you in any trouble." He said playfully and he watched as her cheeks took on a rosy tint.

She just nodded as he climbed up the stairs. She noticed that the tired and haunted look that had almost discolored his pleasant face the evening before was gone, replaced with a somewhat smoother complexion. He was still pale but seemed almost happier or more relaxed. She wondered what had happened to change him so drastically, but returned to the kitchen and preparing breakfast.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he almost ran over Scully in his attempt to quickly retreat into his room. She had a large bath towel wrapped around her body and her hair hung damply around her neck. She clung to the towel in attempts to keep some of her dignity. She practically hissed at him.

"Mulder, what in the world are you doing?" She asked in a slightly agitated voice, tying to adjust the towel without dropping it further. She looked at him, his lean figure rippled with the strong, sinewy muscles that played beneath his skin. His clenched jaw relaxed, opening to say something but stopped and looked down at the floor. She admired his graceful neck and broad shoulders that tapered into his strong arms that had held her just hours before. Her gaze dropped, taking in his whole body only covered by a light sprinkle of dark curling hair and black silk.

Her body betrayed her, reacting to his nearness and she gasped. She coughed and turned away to recover, hoping he hadn't noticed.

She had turned from him causing the towel to slip a little further in her sudden movement. He watched, amused at her attempt to pull the towel closer, only causing it to slip. Her pale skin glowed in the soft light of the overhead fixture and she smelled of soap and roses masking her normal scent. His gaze swung from her head to her toes, stopping to admire the soft swell of her breasts and flair of her hips. He wanted to hold her but that wasn't possible.

"Scully, I think I figured out how the rapist is making his choice." He said excitedly.

"What? How," she said, forgetting what they were both wearing. She crossed her arms, holding the towel snugly against her chest.

His eyes flashed with excitement, "He only chooses girls, young girls between the ages of 8 and 13." She started to interrupt, but he stopped her. "His selection is always a young and very beautiful child, as far as children go, but there had to be something drawing him to those specific girls." He paused, gulping air. "Until now I thought that his selection was based on the virtue of the girl, their purity and innocence."

"And now?" Scully prodded, becoming excitedly impatient.

"They all have chameleon eyes Scully. Why didn't' I see it before." Guilt and frustration danced across his features.

"What do you mean chameleon eyes?" She stared at him, carefully judging his body language.

"Chameleon eyes, like mine. They are hazel but they change color with mood or the colors around them."

She shook her head. "Everyone's eyes change color, at least a little bit." But she knew what he was talking about. She had seen his eyes change from brown to green and then back to their normally soft hazel color with in a few hours.

"Scully, my eyes change color. Each of these girls had eyes that changed. Their medical records listed their eye color, but when I looked at their photos their eyes were different from the listed information." He searcher her eyes for acknowledgment.

"But Mulder, if that is how he is choosing then he must be getting really close. He would have to see them several times, up close and in different environments, clothes or moods...or what ever it is that makes them change." She had started to use her hands to make the point and the towel had slipped a bit more. She pulled it to her.

Mulder could see a hint of cleavage between the soft swells and he smiled. He looked at her, "Scully why don't we finish this over breakfast." It was a suggestion not a question and she smiled, getting one more look at him as he turned to enter his room.

After another cold shower, Mulder came down for breakfast. Holly was amazed at the transformation. He was in a dark blue jacket and pants, dress shoes and a crisp white shirt, but all that was thrown aside by his choice in ties; splashes of burgundy and silver danced across dark gray silk. When Scully arrived, she was in a soft beige button down coat that flared and hugged appropriately for her figure. Her soft, off white pumps matched the silk of her blouse and brought her up and inch or so but she was still dwarfed by Mulder's dark presence. Her hair fell neatly around the soft curves of her face, framing it in a fiery shimmer of red.

Holly noticed the professional air that had been present during their first meeting was present and even separating them further. Mulder and Scully looked like two FBI agents and that was how they wanted it.

"Good morning Dana." Holly said cheerfully.

"Good morning Holly. That smells wonderful." She commented as the light odor of fresh coffee and cinnamon teased her nose.

"Which, the coffee or the French Toast?" She said grinning.

"Both. Can I help?" Scully asked, turning to see Mulder hunched over the floor in the living room looking through all the folders. He had them scattered all over the floor. <What a mess!> She thought to herself. Holly followed her gaze.

"He did that this morning. He came down here all hot and bothered 'bout something and started going through all that stuff. I might add he looked mighty fine in black silk boxers." She looked up merrily at Dana to catch her reaction. Dana blushed, remembering that in all intensive purposes she had slept with Mulder that night. She could feel his chest pressed against her back and felt her getting red. Dana cleared her throat and turned to face Holly, repeating her question about help, which she declined.

Spying three mugs set up next to the coffeepot, Dana poured coffee for all. Leaving them all black, she picked up two of them and headed to the living room. "Mulder, you are going to clean that up before we leave today." She chastised playfully, but he could sense that she was serious and he started straightening up the files he had in his hands.

She set his coffee down on the table and looked at him carefully. She wanted to talk about what had happened but Holly was in the other room and she didn't know what had really happened or how to break the subject.

She took a sip of her coffee and smiled, "Irish cream," she told him. He looked at her carefully.

"I had my fill of Irish cream last night," he said playfully. She raised one of her eyebrows questioning the many meanings of his statement. He sighed and took a sip of the coffee. "Last nights was better." He smiled a full-blown Mulder smile. The kind that pulled on her heart, wishing he would always smile that way.

Holly called for them and Mulder quickly finished organizing his files. Though she didn't understand it, she knew that if she needed any of them she would just have to ask because they were lost in his brief case as far as she was concerned.

When they had first started working together she had tried to get him to organize the office, actually file things either by numbers or letters. But he had a system that never seemed to fail. She had surprised them both several weeks ago when AD Skinner had come for some files during one of his infrequent visits to the bowels of the FBI building. Dan had gotten up before Mulder had even moved. She had found all three cases he had asked for without any assistance from the perfect Mr. Mulder. He had asked her how she had done it later and she had brushed if off but he said that maybe he was just starting to rub off on her. Later thinking about it she realized that that was exactly what was happening. His filing system made sense to her. What a scary thought.

They ate breakfast in silence, enjoying the meal, too busy thinking about what the day would hold. After breakfast was finished they both left Holly with a smile and a thank you, climbed into the Ford Taurus that seemed to be standard issue for the government. They took off.

After pulling out onto the main street of towns, Mulder turned to his partner. Her eyes were focused on the road and her hands gripped the wheel tightly. "Scully?" He said carefully, not really sure how to approach the subject he wanted to talk about.

"Mulder, do you want to deal with parents or police?" She said with an all business tone. She knew what he wanted to talk about, but she hadn't had enough time to figure it out herself let alone talk about it with him.

"Parents if you don't mind." He said with a sigh. He wanted to deal with what had happened but maybe it was better this way. Maybe they should just forget about it, but he didn't want to. In those few moments he had felt so happy, content. Then to wake up with her in his arms, he couldn't' describe the feeling. Something he hadn't felt in a long time was possible now and he wanted it, more than ever. He wanted her.

"Nope, I don't mind. Though I don't often enjoy talking to the local police of small towns. They always have rather strange ideas. Maybe this one will like me for my brains, but want to leave my head where it is." She sighed and he couldn't' help but chuckle, the cold tightness of fear seized him. He remembered the Sheriff she was talking about, the group of cannibals from the Chuck O Chicken case.

He remembered pulling her from the vice and carefully tearing away the duct tape from her mouth. He hadn't wanted to hug her then but that would have been wrong. She interrupted his thoughts.

"OK, we'll head over to the station and I'll take over driving, over to the Eggerton's home I guess."

They stopped in front of the police station. She climbed out of the drivers seat quickly, watching him carefully extract his long legs form the cramped pace. He stood and stretched, sighing as the muscles in his legs pulled and then relaxed. Dana watched him, admiring his body that filled out the straight cut of his suit. Such expensive and good tastes in suits that were ruined by his choice in neck wear. But then that was Mulder and she couldn't imagine him without his little quirks.

He noticed her watching and decided to try again. He walked around to her side of the car. He watched her gather up her briefcase and move the seat back for him. When she stood up he was smiling. "Thanks. I would have gotten lodged in there and I bet this town hasn't bought a set of the 'Jaws of Life' for the police yet." He grinned and then looked at her hand offering the keys. Such a small hand that could do so much damage and heal just the same. Such soft, delicate hands that he suddenly wanted to don nothing but kiss them.

"Mulder, take the keys." She said, a little frustrated that he was taking so long. She pushed the keys into his out-stretched hand but his fingers quickly curled around her hand and wouldn't let go. His warm fingers embraced her hand, sending chills of pleasure down her spine. She looked up at his face, he was smiling at her gently, but his eyes were saying things to her, things that they shouldn't be saying.

"Dana?" He said in an almost whisper. "We need to talk tonight, OK?" She nodded, knowing that right now she wound' be able to say not to him. "Good." He was satisfied and let her hand go and she suddenly felt empty, alone. It was like part of herself had disappeared. The overwhelming feeling of loss caused by his lack of contact.

He climbed into the car and started adjusting the mirrors. She watched him carefully. "Thanks Mulder. Good luck." She knew that talking to distraught families could be difficult. They always looked for someone to blame and why not blame the government. It seemed they were responsible half the time. She had come to realize a long time ago that he had a certain flair for dealing with upset people. Maybe it was because he had been on the receiving end before, or maybe it was how well he understood their pain and loss. They flocked to him because they could see that he understood their pain, that their loss was reflected in his eyes. He understood and they knew it.

He started the car and drove away. She was worried about him again, but what could possibly go wrong? She laughed and walked into the station. If there were a way for something bad to happen, Mulder would manage to find it.

The officers looked up at her and the younger one at the front desk was immediately up and smiling. "Can I help you Ma'am?" He asked nervously. <When had she become a Ma'am?>

Dana retrieved her FBI identification. In her shuffle to find it the young man had spotted her gun and was now eyeing her suspiciously. When she had her ID out and opened for him and anyone else to examine she finally said, "Special Agent Dana Scully. I'm here to talk to the person in charge of the Eggerton case."

The young man nodded slightly at her, as if he approved. "That would be Rick. He's in his office right over there. Go on in." He pointed and smiled again, pleased that he was able to help such a beautiful woman. She thanked him and silently walked to the office door.

The nameplate on the door said Richard Kasar. She knocked on the door gently. She heard a deep but muffled voice telling her to enter. She opened the door slowly, then stepped into the room. It smelled strongly of Drakar cologne and she almost gagged.

He looked the part of an "All-American football hero gone cop." His blond hair was cut neatly and curled above his brow, pushing some of it down on his forehead. His uniform was as neat as his hair. She could see his broad shoulders and well-muscled chest and arms that bulged when he stood to greet her.

"Hi, I'm Richard Kasar, but everyone around here calls me Rich." He said cheerfully, offering the chair in front of his desk. The clutter on his desk and disarray of file cabinets reminded her of home, well the office anyway. The cool leather seat of the high-backed chair hugged her body as she sank into it. The scent of his cologne made her light headed and his dazzling smiled made her nervous. <He could do Colgate commercials.> She thought idly.

"OK Rick, I'm Special Agent Dana Scully and I need to see your files on the Eggerton case. My partner and I stopped by yesterday but the information we received was vague. I need the full medical reports, her school records and of course all reports filed by your department." She said plainly.

He looked at her, admiring her cool blue eyes and soft pale skin that was lightly sprinkled with freckles. Her red hair shown brightly in a fiery halo that brushed lightly across her shoulders. The soft tones of her suit accented her hair color, but the soft folds of beige hugged and loosed where necessary. She was beautiful. Women like her were one of the things he missed about big cities.

"Well Dana, I can get everything you need 'cept the school record." She started to say something but he cut her off, "You know that the state regulates access to any minors records. You could ask her parents, I'm sure they would be more than happy to help you out." He smiled at her, and she nodded in agreement.

He watched as she pulled out a cellular phone and hit one of the buttons. Her conversation was brief and to the point, telling the person on the receiving end to ask about Rachel's school records. She hung up and put the phone away.

"Well, if you come with me, I'll show you where we have all the files." He showed her to the room next to his office. There were only three file cabinets in the room, one was labeled "ARRESTS", and the others broken down alphabetically.

He opened the "A-M" cabinet and pulled out a folder with Rachel's name on it. It had all the current reports, medical information and interviews. It was complete and exactly what Scully wanted.

"May I take this? My partner and I will need to read them thoroughly." Rick nodded at her then smiled.

She placed the files in her case along side her other files, then looked at him, "Does anyone on your force, or you have any theories on this case?"

He shook his head. "Rachel was such a sweet girl. She was well liked and smart but kind of quiet. Her mom was so proud of her last year when she won that contest, Little Miss Teen, or something like that. It was all anyone 'round here could talk about."

She nodded, picked up her case and started to walk out. She turned to say thank you when he asked, "What do you and your partner believe happened?" When she didn't' answer right away he stepped a little closer. Dana Scully was not a person that could be easily intimidated and this guy's attempts made her laugh.

He heard her snicker and then she stepped closer and turned glaring blue eyes up at his, penetrating his uncomfortably, making him back away. "My partner and I have been tracking this guy all over the East Coast. This is as close as we have been. As far as our theories go, when we have had a chance to look at the evidence and to interview Rachel, her family and anyone else we believe merits investigation, we will report to you with our findings." She stopped, but continued her hard glare. "Thank you for your time and we will notify you if we find anything." She smiled and walked out the door.

"Bitch!" He said under his breath as she walked out. 9:15AM Eggerton Residence

Mulder pulled up the narrow gravel drive, stopping in front of the light blue two-story home. The number on the outside of the door matched the address he remembered from the report. "This must be the place." He said to no one in particular. He climbed out of the car, stretched a little and withdrew his brief case.

He walked up the stairs, heading towards the front door. The baby blue paint of the house was cheerfully bright, almost annoying and the white trim glared. Mentally he made a vow to never have a house that looked like this, but then when would he ever need a house. A flitting thought of a home made with Dana rushed through his mind and slipped away just as suddenly.

He knocked on the front door, peering through the glass window to the left of the door. The soft pleats in the white lace that covered it, did not conceal a young boys face looking out the window. Mulder smiled at him and hoped that the little boy was doing OK with all that had happened.

He heard him yell for his mother and then heard a lock release. An older woman, about 40, looked out at him. Her face was drawn and pale, her eyes looked out at him form sunken orbs. She looked like she had been crying and leaned on the door for support. Her small frame was encased in dark gray sweats that looked rumpled for morning clothing but he could remember days he had gone without changing or sleeping and this was what he had looked like.

"Mrs. Eggerton?" He inquired softly. She noticed and tried to smile but it looked more like a grimace. "My name is Fox Mulder, with the F.B.I. I am here to help find out who hurt your daughter." He smiled at her gently.

She opened the door wider and let him in. "My daughter" She started, but her voice cracked. She started again as she closed the door. "My daughter hasn't spoken, she only screams. There is nothing anyone can do to help." She said quietly.

"I am sorry that we couldn't stop him before he did this, but with your help we may be able to stop him before he does it again." Mulder tried to stay calm, but this woman had given up, yet she had her daughter back. Sam was still gone and sometimes he thought he would never see her again. <What did she have to complain about?>

She led him to the living room and pointed to the couch. Mulder sat down on the soft couch, singing into the inviting softness. The room was impeccably clean with many framed photos leaning on the mantle. There was several of a young girl in different outfits. Her dark brown tresses curled around her face and swept back off her shoulders. They were professional, and in one she wore a banner that started across her chest, it said something but he couldn't make it out.

"So what have you found out?" Her question brought him back to face her. She had taken a seat across from him, in a dark mahogany rocking chair. "Do you guys have any clues?" She asked in an accusing voice.

"Mrs. Eggerton, we have a partial description but it would help if my partner or I could talk to Rachel. We" She cut him off before he could start again.

"No! She has been to hell and back. I do not want anyone bringing this up in front of her again. Besides, she isn't talking." She jumped from her chair and started to wander the carpeted floor wildly.

"Mrs. Eggerton, my partner and I have already talked to the parents of the other victims and it hasn't helped. My partner was able to get one of the more recent girls to talk, which is where we got the partial description. Is your daughter responding to anything?" He asked, hoping he wasn't upsetting her too much. He didn't need more complaints to AD Skinner than there already were.

She shook her head. "She does nothing but scream." She paused and looked at the agent. His eyes gazed at her intently and she could see the concern and anger they held. "Agent Mulder, if I let you talk to my daughter, could it hurt her more? I mean, I don't think I could handle her being in more pain..." Her voice died away as she returned to the rocker.

"I don't' know. I believe that if she begins to deal with what happened now, it will be much easier for her in the future. It is the kind of trauma that many children repress and the side affects of that are more devastating in the long run." He looked at the haggard woman across from him.

She nodded slightly. "OK, but do you mind if I listen?"

"No, of course not. Actually by all rights you should be there, but it is not necessary. My partner was very successful with the last one, and if it is all right I would like to allow her to do the interview."

"She's a woman?" Mrs. Eggerton looked at him again and saw him nod. "OK" She said, quietly accepting his offer. He pulled out his phone and listened to his partner carefully and asked her about interviewing Rachel. After figuring out the time and place they hung up, saying quiet good-byes.

Mulder stayed a few more minutes, trying to find out what happened the day Rachel had disappeared, but he wasn't getting anything and had only succeeded in upsetting her more. He left her to recover, hoping that Scully had been more successful. He could sense that there was very little time before the perp did it again and Mulder felt him slowly slipping through his fingers. He felt helpless.

He returned to the bed and breakfast, review files and reports in his head. He didn't even remember the drive. There was something about this case, something linking the girls but he couldn't put his finger on int. He entered the home, thinking that he should call Skinner when Holly stepped out of the kitchen startling him. "Fox, what are you doing back?" She smiled warmly, searching his face for an explanation.

Her hands were covered with a flaky white substance and there was a small smear of it across her rosy cheek. The green and black apron hung loosely around her neck declaring, "I spent 4 years in college for this?" He chuckled at her warm but dishevelved look. "I finished with Rachel's mother and though I would come back and look at some of my notes. There is something about this case that I can't figure out, and..." His voice trailed off, interrupted by a thought.

"Fox?" She said, almost alarmed as she watched the color drain from his face and his voice fade away. His eyes were not focused on anything; they blinked several times before he finally came back, drawn by her voice.

In his mind he could hear her repeating his name softly, but his thoughts had returned to the picture on the mantle above the fireplace. The ribbon or banner she had worn, it was important. He had to find out about it, but how? He had no idea where the thought had come from but for once his nickname made perfect sense. He heard her voice calling to him and he blinked several times, following it from the recesses of his own mind.

"Holly, I saw a picture of Rachel." He told her and she gazed at him, confusion written plainly on her face. He looked at her, emploring her to understand what he needed.

"What about this picture?" She said, hoping to get more information.

"Was Rachel ever in a contest...a pageant or something like that?" She didn't answer him, just stood there thinking and then nodded.

"Last year, I think that she was in one of those contests, you know the ones that travel from city to the next looking for representatives. It was Miss Pre-Teen or something like that." She paused and watched him react to the new information.

"That has to be it!" He said excitedly. He grabbed his belongings that he had put down during the conversation, turning on his heel, practically running out the door. Jumping in the car he pulled out onto the street. He had to get to the police station and Scully.

11:00 AM Police Station

Scully sat on a bench outside the station. She didn't want to sit in that testosterone filled office any more than she had to. She wanted to call Mulder and tell him to come and get her but didn't think she should interrupt him if he was still talking to Rachel's mom. Her mind was racing as she thought about the cases, there had to be a connection, but what...?

She ran over the facts in her mind; the eyes, beautiful, virtuous girls, young, all considered smart and talented. They all were perfect and that was a definite similarity but this man was some how able to get close enough without the girls knowing. A though crossed her mind, "What if they were being stalked earlier? What if this person had picked his prey before he took them?"

She stood, realizing that if that was the case the link between the girls was something they all shared in common, an event in the past. She went back into the station and asked if she could use their computer and modem. The young man that had admired her before smiled and ushered her behind the desk. She settled into the warmed computer chair and logged on, accessing the FBI computers.

She entered the name Rachel Eggerton, and came up with her case file, photos and the list of interviews and reports on file. She quickly scanned the "back-history" page, when an entry about a contest caught her eye, *a beauty pageant, Pre-Teen Semi Finals for her county.* She thought for a moment. Going on a complete hunch wasn't really her style, but if she could help solve this then it didn't matter. If it didn't help turn up anything then she wouldn't tell Mulder. He would never let her live that down.

She pulled out Rachel's file and began a search on the Pre-Teen Beauty Pageant. A minute later her attention was drawn back to the computer with it's insistent beeping. She ignored the pictures and looked at the criteria listed for entering the pageant. She tried the icon of a calendar and was rewarded with a comprehensive list of places the pageant had been and was headed. It was divided into regions and states, but the list was still very long.

She scanned the page, high lighting North Carolina, the first county listed was Wilsborrow, the county she was in. She flicked back to the screen and pulled up each of the states where a girl had been taken and noted the counties. She was just about to begin a search for the girls' names when Mulder stepped into the office. His dark hair was disheveled and his agrivatingly colorful tie hung loosely, crooked. He quickly scanned the room and he hadn't seen her yet.

"Can I help you sir?" Her voice was strained from her desire to keep from laughing. He looked down at her smiling when he saw her seated behind the desk.

"Scully, I knew you wanted out of my section but a secretary for the office? Quite a step down! If you really want to be a secretary, I'm always looking for one." He smiled at her, enjoying the look that he was receiving.

"Mulder." She said, in a frustrated but amused voice. "You couldn't afford my services." She said playfully.

He couldn't believe she had said that. "Scully." He almost gasped, but recovered quickly. "The Lone Gunmen could afford you I bet, and Frohike would boot in a bonus for you know, extra services." She rolled her eyes and then returned them to the computer screen. She stated typing in the first girl's name, Brittany Hulten. It beeped immediately, telling her that she was in fact a contestant. "My God!" She said out loud, not realizing she had.

"What?" Mulder asked. He walked behind the desk and looked at the screen. He saw the picture of Brittany. The banner and background was identical to the picture on the mantle at the Eggerton home.

"Scully, where did you get this?" He looked at the screen, scanning the information presented. He looked to the right of the keyboard, at the small scraps of paper she had been keeping notes on. He read the list of names, obviously places. They were familiar somehow and when he came to the bottom of the list he came to Rachel's name scrawled across from the word Wilsborrow.

He watched her hand move over the list and quickly jot down Brittany's name next to the name of Green Wood. He scanned up the page. They were counties, he remembered seeing it on Brittany's file.

"Scully, what is this?" He asked again, his own theory suddenly remembered. "Scully, these are the names of the counties visited by the Teeny-Weeny Beauty Pageant, or something like that? Each of the girls were contestants, right?"

She froze, turned and stared at him, "How did you figure that out?" Surprise made her voice sound forced and raspy.

"I saw a picture of Rachel and she looked like she was dressed up for Miss America or something. When I asked Holly about it later, it all clicked. The guy must be spotting his victims while he is with them during the contest. He is probably an employee." She was shaking her head in amazement.

"So should I call you Spooky now?" She grinned.

"You can call me anything you want." He quipped, making her devious grin change to a delightfully embarrassed smile.

"How did YOU figure it out?" He asked in an almost playful accusation.

"I don't know. You would call it a hunch, but I think that I just made a good deduction, you think so Watson?" His eyebrow shot up at this last remark. Grinning they both returned to the computer, confirming each of the girls lived in a county they had listed. The order this man was following was identical to the listed counties. It was the first stop from each state they had visited and if he had attacked twice, it was the next county.

"OK, so his next victim will either be in Nectar, right here in North Carolina or one of the other states." She stated. He nodded in agreement.

"Is there a way we can look at the girls from each county or search for he girls with hazel eyes?" His voice was laced with anticipation and resonated with excitement.

She quickly backed out of the current file, opening up Nectar County. She searched for a minute, looking at the options displayed and found an icon for contestants. Clicking on that she quickly found a list of all the girls.

She tried to carefully read the files as she zipped through the first few but her mind was clouded suddenly, when she noticed how close Mulder was standing next to her. His body radiated heat as he leaned over her to look at the screen. She could smell him, the slight smell of soap and after-shave mixed with his own unique scent. Her mind couldn't focus, wandered to that morning when she had woken in his arms, or the night before and those events. "Why is this happening?" She admonished herself, upset that she couldn't control herself.

"Mulder, I can't work with you standing over my shoulder. Go call Skinner or something." She stared at him with accusing eyes, but her cheeks were flushed with something other than anger. He stepped back from her, a sigh escaping her partially open lips.

He slowly retreated from her, grinning wildly as he turned away. "Good to know that I can do that to a woman." He though, and retorted in his mind, "Even better because I can do it to Scully." He picked his way through the cluttered office and stepped outside, needing to cool down both mentally and physically.

He pulled his phone form his pocket, deciding that calling Skinner was probably a very good idea. He dialed the number and dealt with the general protocol that the government seemed to inflict on everyone and everything.

AD Skinner was glad to hear about the break in the case and was surprised that no one had made the connection, about the eyes or the pageant. He told Mulder what had been happening in Washington and that he was going to force both he and Scully to go on paid vacation when they returned from this case. Mulder of course argued there were too many cases to solve, but Skinner was adamant.

When he finally hung up he looked down t see that during his conversation he had managed to walk down the street to a small deli. The smell of fresh bread and meats made his stomach church with anticipation. "Lunch time."

He rushed back to see Scully carefully pulling pages from the printer. "Scully, lets take those down the street and get something for lunch while we read them, OK?" He asked hopefully.

She picked up the rest of the stack, waiting for a few moments as the rest printed. He picked up her briefcase for her and started towards the door. She thanked the young officer for his computer and followed Mulder out the door.

Lunch was very good. Mulder insisted on getting a sandwich that would be the death of him yet, bratwurst.

She was disgusted just watching him eat it. While eating her turkey on toasted wheat bread she couldn't help but tease him. "Mulder, I can dissect human bodies that have been rotting for weeks, I can deal with mutants and serial killers but watching you eat that sandwich is making me sick. Do you know how much fat is in that?" Her left eyebrow slowly rose as she spoke.

He only nodded as he took another bite, grinning while he chewed. Neither talked much more, both read over files and the print outs she had made. When they finished there was a quiet moment, a calm before the storm; then he began.

"Scully, there are seven girls in the next county that have hazel eyes, but in the other states, I don't know which one he would choose." He paused, thinking for a moment. She knew that when he did that he was crawling into their mind. He would try to understand, "Think like them and then you will be able to stop them." That was the rule from the Behavioral Science Unit. Mulder had helped to bring about change in the pursuit of serial killers by applying behavioral psychology to profiling techniques. It had helped him nail several of these monsters early on in his career and earned him the name "Spooky." Sometimes he would climb into their minds so far he had trouble climbing out. His voice brought her back, "...he should choose a state close to this one, but he hasn't shown that pattern at all with his previous selection."

"The data base from the contest has pictures of the girls, would it help to work on that, to see them?" He shook his head and fiddled with his plate in front of him. She watched him turn it around and around, becoming more agitated by the sound it was making.

She reached across the table, gently laying her hand over his, stopping the nervous movement. He looked up at her and she started to pull her hand back but he grasped it, using his thumb to gently caress the back of her hand. His hand was warm and soft, sending shivers coursing through her body. She gently pulled away from him, and he let her go.

"You have an interview with Rachel in an hour. I think I will call the sheriff in Nectar County. Maybe we can go up and watch them."

She was still recovering from the feelings he had stirred but his words brought her back and jolted an idea. "Mulder, if you look at the girls, could you figure out which one has chameleon eyes?" He looked up at her, wide eyed.

He stood suddenly, "Scully, why the hell didn't I think of that? I mean...my God, how could I be so stupid?" He found his wallet and threw a twenty on the table. He turned and left.

He spent the next few hours going over each girl's file. Two of the girls seemed to have chameleon eyes and Mulder had a hard time convincing the sheriff to call the schools to check on the girls. Once Mulder had confirmation that they were unharmed, he started going over the personal files of the employees from the company that ran the contest.

Scully had left an hour before to do her interview. When she finally returned she looked tired, defeated. It was not her normal appearance, some of the color that usually touched her cheeks was gone, and her eyes were red-rimmed and a little puffy. She had been crying. She sat down next to him, picking up the notes he had jotted down.

She pretended to read for Mulder's sake, but she couldn't get the sound of Rachel's whimpering out of her mind. She had eventually spoken but only to tell her to stop and that she wanted to go home. Dana had given Rachel's mother a prescription for some tranquilizers to be used if Rachel really needed them. She felt like a failure. She hadn't helped and feared she had made things worse. She should talk to Mulder about it, but didn't want to show him her weakness. Why did she hide things from him? She had yet to tell him of her memories from her abduction or how Pfaster had affected her and then there was the whole New Mexico thing and his father and her sister's death. All of these moments, all of these problems and the many more they had faced together in silence; near telling each other how they felt. Maybe it was time to change that.

"Scully, are you O.K.?" he asked, still scanning the computer screen.

"I'm fine Mulder." She said, straightening in her chair. He hated it when she said that because it always meant she was not fine, but didn't feel she could tell him.

"Well, we are going to Nectar. The girls go to different schools. I figure we can split up and watch them from a distance, then move in if we see anything strange." He was feeling a lot better about the case because he finally had a lead, something to do.

"Whatever Mulder." She got up and walked out of the office, heading towards the car. He shut down the computer and collected his scattered notes, quickly shoving them into his briefcase.

They drove silently to the school. Mulder dropped Scully off at the first school, with a photo of the girl and a list of possible suspects. He wasn't happy about having to leave her, especially when she was obviously upset.

He started to suggest that maybe they should call in some help so they would have backup, but she only glared at him.

"Mulder if we call in back-up we won't have control of the situation. We have a better understanding of what we're dealing with and it would take too long to explain that to a bunch of trigger happy cops form this town." He could hear the anger I her voice and knew that it wasn't caused by the idea of back up. Something was really bothering her.

Scully walked into the school. It was a large brick building with two stories and a bell on top. The building looked very old with moss and ivy climbing the walls. Young girls and boys were scattered in clumps throughout the hallway, dressed in today's fashions of extremely tight and revealing or so lose they looked like they would fall off. She watched the faces of the students as she walked by. She heard a group of boys behind her, "Wouldn't you like a piece of that?" as another whistled. She thought about turning around and flashing her badge but decided that it would blow any chance she had for cover.

She found the office and was let in to see the principal immediately. A middle aged woman with short graying hair and severe, dark eyes stared at her as she entered the office. Scully was thinking about what a good interrogator she would make as she took the offered chair.

"I'm Special Agent Dana Scully." She said, rising out of her seat to reach the woman's outstretched hand.

"Laura Hardstone." She smiled again. "Most kids think my name is real fitting."

Scully chuckled politely, then returned to business. "I have to ask you a few questions about one of your students." The woman's eyes searched her, but finally nodded.

"Melissa Sutton, she attends this school, correct?" Scully asked and handed the principal the picture.

"Yes, she does. What does this have to do with? When your partner called he said he wanted us to check and make sure she was still here. What is this all about?" Her voice was filled with concern and Dana knew this woman was probably very good at her job.

Brushing her questions off, Scully continued, "Have you seen anyone around Melissa, or the school that doesn't belong?" The principal shook her hand and then looked pointedly at the agent.

"What is going on?" Her voice was tight and Dana could see the anger and concern.

Scully sighed, "Have you heard anything about the child rapist? The one that is blinding his victims?" The woman nodded slightly, but her eyes were wide with shock. "My partner and I have found a connection between all the victims and we believe that Melissa and one other girl that my partner is checking out are our most likely targets."

"So you are using them as bait?" She asked, her voice dripped with sarcasm. "How can you justify putting their lives in danger?"

"On them contrary, we are helping them. This person selected his victims very carefully and I don't believe he will leave them be until his need is fulfilled. My partner and I may be wrong, his selection and in particular these two girls may not be the next victims, but we both believe them to be so, so here I am."

The woman's anger had drained form her eyes, like someone had pulled the plug on it. "I'm sorry. It's just, I worry about these kids. I don't want anything to happen to them."

"Neither do I, Mrs. Hardstone. Neither do I."

When Mulder arrived at the school he realized that he should have sent Scully to check this one. "St. Michael's School for Girls." The sign read. Young girls in plaid skirts and sweaters walked around the yard and building. He walked slowly through the front door.

A young woman with black hair pulled into a bun on top of her head stepped up to intercept him as he walked down the hall. "What can I do for you sir?" He smiled, guess they just don't let anyone go wandering through the front door.

"I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI," he said, casually pulling his badge from the deep pocket in his coat.

She nodded and smiled at him. "We better get you to the office, you're already drawing a crowd." A group of teenagers had started to form around the area they were talking in, smiling and giggling about something.

They headed to the office where Mulder was introduced to several other women and one wrinkled old man in a collar, named Father Andrew.

"So what is this all about?" Father Andrew asked.

"Well sir, I believe that one of your students may be in danger." This got everyone's attention. All conversations stopped and eyes focused on him. "My partner and I believe that Katrina Amber may be the next victim of a serial rapist." A few women gasped and others crossed themselves, closing their eyes in silent prayer.

"Sister Rosa, please go retrieve her schedule." He ordered and the woman that had stopped Mulder on the way in got up to leave.

"Sister?" Mulder asked hesitantly, not sure how to address her. She turned and faced him. "I do not want her taken from her class. She doesn't need to know anything is going on, we definitely don't want to alarm her," he paused and breathed deeply, "and we are not sure what this man will do if we remove his target. She is safer with her classmates. Just don't let her go anywhere alone." The woman nodded and left the room.

"Mr. Mulder, what do you believe we should do?" One of the other women asked.

"I'm not sure, not until we get the schedule. But can I see a map of the school? If he is here he might be hiding and I need to know my way round here." Father Andrew shuffled some papers on a nearby desk that sat in the corner of the room. The dark wooden paneling and the soft light from the scattered lamps gave the room an ominous feel.

The priest handed Mulder a map. He scanned it, looking for something that could possibly be used as a hideout or escape route. He looked at each section of the map, committing it to memory. Even though Scully thought he couldn't read a map, it wasn't true. He was perfectly capable of doing so. The reason he got lost so often was he just didn't pay attention. His mind was often so busy sorting through files, evidence reports, whatever and too busy to bother with directions or maps. This time it was important.

The sudden opening of the office door interrupted his thoughts. Sister Rosa stood there, panic stricken and gasping. "She's gone!" She looked ready to cry and the other people in the room were on their feet, frantic.

Mulder stood slowly, calmly facing Sister Rosa. He asked to be taken to the last place Katrina should have been and where she might have gone on her own.

The coolness of his voice broke through the tension and calmed everyone. He followed the Sister from the room, pulling up the now imprinted image of the map and mentally kept track of their progress. He was led to a classroom, gently opening the door, they entered. The familiar smell of chalk dust and scented markers assaulted his nose.

The woman in front of the class was reading aloud, stopped upon their entrance. Mulder made his way to the front of the class, the children's eyes followed him. The teacher shushed the whispers and giggles from the girls with a glare that rivaled Scully's. "Ma'am do you know the where abouts of Katrina Amber?"

The teacher looked at him carefully and then back at Sister Rosa, seeing the concern in both their faces returned her eyes to the man in front of her. "Yes, she went to the restroom several minutes ago and has not returned." Mulder began to turn away but she pulled on his arm. "What is this about?" Her grip loosening as he turned back to her.

He motioned for her to follow him out of the room, where he quickly explained their fears of a kidnapper. "Have any of the other children mentioned unusual people, especially men, hanging around?"

The teacher shook her graying head, "No, and at this school he would have stuck out, you know."

"Which bathroom would she have gone to?" Mulder asked both women.

Sister Rosa answered, "I'll take you there." Mulder left with her, walked down the locker-lined hallway, listening for anything out of the ordinary. He pulled his phone from his pocket, realizing that he hadn't called Scully yet. Hitting the automatic dialer, he listened to it ring twice before she picked up.


"It's me. Katrina is missing and we are searching the school. We have one more place to check before we call in the cavalry, but can you get over here some how?" Silently cursing himself for not realizing that they should both have cars.

"Yeah, I'm leaving now. The girl here is fine and her teachers have been notified not to let her leave or go anywhere without adult supervision."

Sister Rosa walked into the girls room and Mulder began to follow but stopped short. He waited, listening with one ear to the events in the bathroom and to his partner with the other. "Mulder, should I call the Sheriff, he's going to want to know about this?" Sister Rosa walked out and looked at him, her eyes were filled with fear, she was shaking her head.

"Damn." He said loudly, then eyed the woman in front of him, "Sorry." He said feeling his face warm with embarrassment. "Is there anyone in there?" Hoping that maybe someone had seen something.

"No, but she might have been because the water in one of the sinks is running." She stopped and looked down at the floor, her shoulders slumping in defeat. "Was are we supposed to do now?" Her voice quivered as she asked.

Mulder reached up and gently squeezed her arm reassuringly.

"Mulder!" Scully's voice cut through the fog numbing his mind.

"Yeah?" He answered, turning away from Sister Rosa and walked into the main part of the bathroom to examine the last possible place Katrina had been.

"Mulder, do you want me to call the police now?" she asked quietly. He answered her with a quick yes but his voice sounded strained. She heard the tension there and knew he was blaming himself. Th man thought the problems of the world rested on his shoulders, everything was his fault but not the time. "This is not your fault!"

"I know that." He hissed at her, then took a calming breath, still blaming himself. If only he had gotten there sooner, or gone directly to her room, anything. It was his fault. "Yes call the police and medics, what ever. Just get over here." Silently adding, "I need you," on to the end of his statement.

"Ok, see you soon." She hung up and quickly dialed the number for the local police that had stuck in her head for some reason. A quick conversations with Sheriff Kasar and the police were on their way, the F.B.I. had been notified and communications between the school and Sheriff had been established.

Scully turned to the principal, "Principal Hardstone, the life of Katrina Amber, my partner and God knows who else are in danger. I need to commandeer your vehicle." She said sternly, tacking on a please to help she hoped. There principal nodded, her eyes stared at her accusingly.

"The other girl is missing I assume." Her voice dripped with sarcasm.

"Yes." she paused, "May I use your car?" she asked softly this time, but her control was slipping.

"Yes, you may. Just make sure you catch the bastard." She said vehemently. She opened her desk drawer and pulled out a set of keys. Singling out the key to her car she dangled it in front of the agent.

"It's parked in front, in the Principal's spot." Scully reached for the keys and took them. "Scully ran from the building, brushing past the young people filling the hall. Some swore at her, but she didn't hear any of them. Her mind was focussed on getting to the other school and Mulder before he did something stupid like confront this person without any back-up.

Mulder searched the bathroom carefully. The fluorescent lights glared from the ceiling, reflecting off the shiny metallic surfaces. There was an over-powering odor of disinfectant and soap, so strong it made him light headed for a moment. Examining the sink and stalls, he found no evidence that anyone had been here, but then turned his eyes to the floor, they caught something. It was a small cylinder. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and picked it up. The translucent blue plastic that was used to cover the business end of a hypodermic needle was the only evidence he could find. He put it in an evidence bag and walked out of the bathroom.

"He couldn't have gotten far. We need to get people outside to check all the exits and we need all the teachers notified that they should stay in their rooms and if possible lock the doors. But don't use the open intercom, we don't want him to know we are on to him."

He looked at his watch. The guy could have had the girl for no more than six minutes. Scully better get here soon, but she would be at least another eight minutes if she didn't get lost.

Sister Rosa turned to him. "I'll go start and we can call each room individually and tell them to stay put and lock their doors. I'll have a couple people outside, in front of the building."

He nodded, "That would be great, make sure they understand that they are not to attempt to stop him. Katrina, I believe, is unconscious so he has to be carrying her." Sister Rosa's eyes widened with a silent question. He pulled the evidence bag from his pocket, showing her the cap. "I believe he drugged her, unless you have a problem with I.V. drugs here at this school."

"No!" She gasped and turned to deliver the necessary information.

He thought for a moment about where he would go if he were trying to conceal the girl and himself. There were too many windows in front of the building and the parking lot was too far away. It would have been impossible for him to make it across the distance unseen. He remembered that there was a service porch in the back of the building, behind the gym and cafeteria. That's where he'd go because he would be able to park his car right there and no one would see him. Mulder started to pull his gun, but this was a school and thought better of it. Instead he pulled out his phone as he took off in the opposite direction that Sister Rosa had gone. Scully answered after several rings. He could visualize her driving and frantically searching through pockets for the annoying phone.

"It's me. I think I know where he is." His voice trailed off and she could hear him moving.

"Mulder don't go after him, you need to wait for back-up." She said sternly.

"Scully, would I do something like that?" His voice was filled with innocence and she could see his face taking on the familiar whipped puppy look.

"Mulder," she whined, "I know that you will anyway so please be careful." She stopped and took a breath. "I you to be able to have that talk tonight."

He smiled and his thoughts jumped to the events of the last few days. "I will Dana, I promise." He said this softly. She could hear his soft breaths through the phone.

He started to hang up but she realized he hadn't told her where he was going. "Mulder," she said in a shrill voice, breaking through the pleasantly warm cloud that had enveloped him. "Where are you going? Where do you think he's going?"

He didn't say anything for a moment but then answered, "There's a service entrance for trucks and such in the back of the school. He probably parked his car back there and entered through the door in the back. He drugged her Scully, at least I think he did. I found the cap to a hypodermic needle in the bathroom." He heard her sigh in frustration.

"OK, I'm almost there so I'll drive around back and maybe head him off." She must be speeding if she's almost here, "Yes I'm speeding Mulder." She answered as if she had heard his thoughts.

"Scully, you going psychic on me? I'll have to make an X-file for you then." He said jokingly, realizing that this probably wasn't something she wanted to hear, especially when he remembered that she already had an X-file, number X-73317. He heard her inhale sharply and started to apologize, but she stopped him.

"Mulder, I'm fine." Then she saw a spire in the distance. "Mulder what kind of school are you at?"

"All girls Catholic School, I think you should have taken this one." She smiled, thinking about him among all the uniforms and nuns possibly. "Did you ever wear one of these uniforms, I just can't picture the great Dana Scully in plaid and knee socks."

She heard him chuckle and started to think of a comeback when he gasped, "Got to go Scully, think I just saw him." And he hung up.

"Mulder!" She yelled into the phone, knowing it was too late. She slammed her palm against the steering wheel. "Shit!" She yelled at no one in particular, but at the entire predicament. Then she yelled, "Fox Mulder if you get hurt again I am going to kill you myself!"

*Dana, you are being silly, he'll be fine.* She was so busy arguing with herself that she almost missed the school entrance. Mulder hadn't been kidding, it really was an all girls school.

Mulder hung up the phone and put it in his pocket. He saw a flash of movement again. He had made it to the gym and was standing outside the open doors, against the wall. He pulled his gun from its holster, clicking off the safety.

Planting his feet, he pivoted around to face the gym, scanning carefully for movement and danger. A shot rang out and his body flattened against the protection of the wall on instinct. He hadn't been hit. "Damn!" He had hoped that this guy was unarmed or at least preferred only knives.

He leaned out, looking past the doorframe. He saw him. He had a young girl in full uniform draped over his left shoulder leaving his right hand free to aim a Saturday Night Special at him. His mind skipped a beat and began to figure out another way in, but the suspect was backing towards the door that led outside. Mulder was running out of time and so was Katrina.

"Federal Agent, freeze!" He yelled, leaning out a little further. Mulder unconsciously checked to make sure the safety was off. The man had continued his steady retreat.

Scully pulled around the back of the school, noticing a small gray Honda parked next to the ramp that led up to the service entrance. She parked her car across the road so he wouldn't be able to leave. She thought she heard a shot. "Damn it!" She whispered harshly.

She climbed out of the principal's car, pocketing the key and drew her weapon. She ran up the slanted walkway, her pumps gently clicking on the soft asphalt. She reached the door, looking to see if it was the only exit. It was.

She pulled her body snugly against the wall and reached across to open the door. She yanked it open, spinning inwards. Her eyes quickly scanned the surroundings, her right hand and gun followed them. It was a dark corridor that seemed to lead toward a darkened room that looked like a kitchen. "It's the cafeteria." She thought to herself.

The dark shapes of tables and counters shadowed the area in front of her. There were too many hiding spots. She stood still, her gun steady and held ready. She suddenly remembered the shot and an image of Mulder lying on the floor bleeding flashed before her. "No!" She hissed under her breath.

She started forward, careful to step quietly and watch for movement. She saw a flash of movement before her and froze. He was there, the young girl was draped across his shoulder and his back was to her. He was backing towards her and Scully raised her gun to aim at him. She couldn't see his front and didn't know if he had a weapon or where Mulder was. She couldn't fire without identifying herself and she would be better off attempting to surprise or disarm him with an unannounced attack as he moved closer.

Mulder's mind was racing. Scully should be here now and she didn't know where she might be, most likely sneaking up behind him. "Let the girl go!" He shouted, leaning out from their cover of the wall. He didn't see him but realized he had backed into the cafeteria.

Scully heard his voice rip through the dark silence. It was comforting to know he was OK and he was somewhere in front of her. She stayed where she was, watching the man they were looking for ahead of her.

"Mister?" The man yelled loudly, but his voice was cold and deep. "I don't care who the fuck you are. You are going to die and I will get my prize!" He aimed his gun at the agent, hugging Katrina's body to him. He wouldn't let them take her.

Mulder looked out again, taking a step out from behind his cover when he saw the man aiming at him. Too late, he thought, but then they both heard a voice. "Freeze, Federal Agent! Drop your weapon!" Came the commanding voice of Special Agent Dana Scully.

The small man spun, loosing his grip on the girl. She fell from his arms, landing with a soft thud. Anger tightened his body as he glared at the woman in front of him. "No woman is going to stop me!" He thought snidely to himself.

He pulled the trigger, a bullet rocketing from his gun. It hit her left arm, throwing her entire body around and then to the floor. The crown of her head collided with the linoleum, sending her darkness.

"No!" Screamed the other agent behind him. Mulder watched as she fell. Anger flared as she crumpled to the floor without a sound. He pulled the trigger of his own weapon, sending a small caliber bullet barreling into the man's chest.

Mulder ran across the room, carefully moving the young girl away from the bleeding man. His eyes were not paying attention until his ears focused onto the loud clicking sound of a gun being cocked. Mulder stood and turned around. The man was lying on the floor, blood spreading on his white shirt like a carnal inkblot. The dying man fired his gun one last time.

The shot tore through the flesh of his left thigh. He felt it pass through and he fell to the floor, the muscles in his leg refusing to cooperate. Fire slowly crept from the wound, spreading to his groin then stomach. He lurched forward with sudden nausea, but caught himself.

He looked at the man that had shot him, his eyes were closed and blood frothed from his white lips. He was dying.

Mulder thought he heard sirens, but pushed that from his mind as his focused on Scully. He slowly pulled himself away from the unconscious girl, softly calling her name.

As he got closer, he could fell the blood pumping from his own body, but it didn't matter. With agonizing slowness he pulled himself across the floor, using his arms to slide his entire weight towards her.

Her cream colored suit was splattered with her own blood and a large patch of crimson was spreading on her arm. She would be fine if she hadn't cracked her skull in the fall. He saw the telltale signs of concussion dripping from her right ear. Her skin was ashen and her breathing shallow. He tried to pull himself closer, but a black fog over-came him and he collapsed beside her.

Raleigh General Hospital 18 hours later

She watched the steady rise and fall of his chest. The clear tubes that helped him breath twisted from his nose, around his head and to the respirator perched on the medical table behind him. The steady drip of dopamine mixed with necessary fluids fell silently from the suspended bag. He was in the ICU because his body had received such a shock, he had literally bled to death next to her and she hadn't been able to help. She shuddered at the thought.

The bullet had punched through his left thigh, severing the femoral artery, but it had pushed through. The police and EMTs had found them and started a steady transfusion of fluids and whole blood.

She remembered waking up at the hospital and floundering, trying to find out what had happened. The doctors that had been working on her protested at her attempts to rise. They were trying to piece together her shoulder. She had looked into the room next to her and watched helplessly as they tried to revive him. Someone was steadily pumping on his chest while another was attempting to intubate him. "200, charge."

"Clear!" Another voice had shouted. She heard the familiar sound of the paddles slapping bare skin and the jolt of the table as his body arched and fell back down to it's resting state.

"Nothing. Try again. Charging 250." She watched the doctor and nurses rush around in organized chaos.

"Clear!" They shouted again.

"Nothing, damn it." There was a moment of silence when the doctor voice shouted, "I want an intra cardiac syringe prepped with point five grams epinephrine. Now."

Scully gasped. She tried to pull away form the restraining hands of her won doctors. She couldn't lose him and she begged to be released and was instead injected with dopamine. She watched, fighting the overwhelming influences of the drug, as the needle was plunged into his chest.

The doctors worked furiously, compressions and the steady breathing being done for him continued, but there was no change. "300, charging!" Said a loud, masculine voice.

"Clear!" His body jolted, lifting off the table. She heard the droning sound of the flat line pause and then blip. Her heart jumped as she listened to the slow yet unsteady beat continue. She sighed, no longer able to fight the drug and stress her system had been under. She slipped into a drug-induced sleep.

That had been eighteen long hours ago and she now stood over his body. He was alive according to the machine, but comatose. He hadn't woken yet and all she could do was wait and pray. They had tried to move her to a different floor but she had finally talked the staff into bringing a cot into his room. It was against policy but she had used her credentials as a doctor and an FBI agent to get them to make an exception.

She stood and checked his vitals using her right hand. She had been ordered by Skinner to take two-week medical leave and then any personal time she needed. He had sounded truly upset at Mulder's condition and she had wondered at their relationship. Sometimes she wanted to thank him and other times she wished she could hit him. Mulder had and she envied him for that sometimes.

The doctors told her that he should be awake, and she had read his chart and re-examined him herself. They had replaced the dammed artery in his leg and replaced his lost blood, but his body and received such a shock that his mind had shut down.

She took his hand. His long, graceful fingers were cold and unresponsive. She stroked the back of his hand silently. She leaned over him and whispered in his ear, "Mulder." she hesitated, "Fox, please come back to me." She pleaded. A tear escaped one of her brimming eyes and fell on his chest. She let go of his hand gently and collapsed in the chair near his bed.

She sat there staring at him and began to speak. "You are probably wondering what happened?" Pulling a tiny tape recorder form her pocket she moved her chair closer to the bed and then started. Pushing record, she rested the recorder on the edge of his bed hoping that maybe hearing her voice would bring him back.

"I guess I am recording this because I need something and 'cause my arm is slightly incapacitated; therefore making typing or writing rather difficult." She sighed and looked at his unchanging face. "You should know that you were right. You're profile I mean. The man you shot and killed was Joseph Tenton. He lived in Maryland and worked for the agency the ran the Pre-Teen Beauty Pageant." She stopped and carefully checked his monitor again. Everything was fine except he wasn't waking up.

"They searched his car at the scene and found syringes and the drug Dipivan. They also found a bottle with a diluted from of hydrochloric acid and glass eye droppers. He was using that to cause damage to the cornea which is what caused the blindness. God what those girls must have gone through." Her body began to shake in response to her anger, disgust and exhaustion, a sob escaping her lips.

"Mulder, you have to come back to me." She turned the tape off and lay her head on the side of his bed, crying.

She felt someone touching her. Cool fingers were gently touching her hair. She tried to ignore it, return to the painless dark world but the motion on her scalp continued and she finally looked up. His glazed eyes and smiling face greeted her.

"Mulder?" She whispered, afraid this was a dream. He mouthed her name, but he didn't make a sound. She rose slowly, methodically checking his condition. She got some water and gently placed at straw to his parched lips. He drew the cool, sterile tasting liquid into his mouth.

"Theks." He tried to say but she shushed him and watched as the heaviness of his eyelids pulled them shut.

He spent several days coming in and out of consciousness, but he had eventually stabilized. They replaced the section of his femoral artery was not giving him any problems. He was recovering well beyond the hopes of the staff.

Scully stayed with him. Her arm was tied securely against her body and the Tylenol III was keeping her happy and without pain. If it weren't for the incessant itching she would have been quite happy. They were both going stir crazy and didn't really know what to do. Scully had been discharged but had been living in his room, irritating the staff to no end.

"Scully, I get out of here tomorrow!" He told her excitedly. She had arranged to have him discharged into her care, but she hadn't told him yet. The doctors had told her that they would discharge him into her care but he needed 24 hour attention for at lest three more days.

"Yeah, I know," she said quietly, not really sure how he would take it. "You get to come home with me." She smiled but couldn't look at him.

"Are you gonna play doctor?" he asked playfully, slowly sitting up in bed.

"I don't need to play Mulder." She stated flatly, but couldn't keep from grinning. A thought passed through her mind and she frowned.

"What Scully?"

"I was just thinking about the case." She looked at him. His face was still pale and dark circles shadowed his eyes, but he was alive. "Why Mulder? Why would he do it?"

He watched her face, daring to look her in the eye. Pain and anger resonated as she spoke. "Scully, I don't know if I can explain it, but men don't rape out of lust, as most people believe. Most often, and especially in cases like these, the act is a deliberate defilement and show of power. They enjoy being the conqueror, they have the power to cause pain, fear and they know what the are doing. That is what they enjoy."

She tried to stop him, to ask a question but he stopped her. "This man chose girls, young girls because they were innocent. It made the act of rape more meaningful and he felt power. It is most likely that he was abused by a female when he was a child, and I would bet season ticket to the Redskins that she had chameleon eyes." He paused, but then began again. "Because of his genetic disorder, the lack of hair, he probably felt very inadequate as a boy when he went through puberty. All of that added up and some chemical imbalances in the brain and you create the monster we killed four days ago."

"Good riddance," she said loudly. He smiled at her.

"So when do you get to take me home?" he asked stroking her good hand that she had placed on his bed.

"Tomorrow, around 10 if you don't have any problems. I booked a flight back for 3:00PM and I hope we can be on it." She pulled her hand away and gently took his in hers. They held hands for a while and she watched him nod off again.

She started to get up; to leave him in his hopefully dreamless sleep but his grip tightened. "Don't go." He mumbled.

"I'm not going anywhere Mulder." She settled back into her chair, still hold his hands as he closed his eyes again. She leaned forward and whispered, "I'm not going anywhere."

The End

Well thanks to everyone that read this the first time I posted it and thank you to anyone that just finished reading it. Please feel free to contact me if you found any more major errors, or if you feel you want to and remember, that without readers and fan-fic addicts those of us out here with a story to tell wouldn't have a place to do so because if no one reads, there is no point. So I think applause should go out to all of you!

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