Title: Fear is Not the End of It
Author: Humbuggie
Date: December 2002

'I alone love you. I alone tempt you. I alone love you. Fear is not the end of this.' - Live

Disclaimer: All characters belong to CC and 1013. I have nothing to do with them. I just write stories.
Situation: This story takes place during season seven, after Closure. It has references to The Ghosts who stole Christmas and Closure.

Info: In earlier stories I introduced Terence Davis as boss of the VCU, and Tom Fielding as a former pupil of Mulder's at the same unit. Davis is only mentioned in this story, but Tom plays his part. You can find more info on the guy at <http://www.sv-tales.com/> www.sv-tales.com but nothing significant needs to be known in order to follow this story.

Rating: R for a few explicit descriptions

Summary: A year ago, Mulder arrested a serial killer who died since. Now his wife is found brutally murdered. Did the killer's ghost come back, or is there a more down-to-earth reason for the murder?


Prologue Time unknown

If there was ever a safe place for Fox Mulder, it was the place where his partner was. It did not matter where he was or why he was there. As long as she was in his corner, he felt safe.

Only this time, he did not feel safe. This time he felt afraid, hurt, damaged beyond repair. And tired, so tired. This time, he was alone.

And no matter how he tried not to fear his fate, he knew that he could not resist the urge to crawl into a corner and die. It would not take long anymore. Within the hour, or two perhaps. Or three, if he was lucky.

He had been afraid before. Only tonight, fear was not the end of it. Fear was just the beginning. Fear only made him remember.

Chapter 1 December 24

If there ever was a place in this world where Lynn Grant felt at home, it was the beautifully restored Portland house that she had bought after her husband's unfortunate demise. She thought she would be safe there: freed from all the pain that had destroyed her family. Here she could start all over again, without the man who had slaughtered over fifteen people and buried them in the backyard of their former New Jersey-house.

Coming from a family where death seemed to be as common as breathing, the challenges of leading a regular life appealed to her. She had had no trouble turning her back against all that was the past when she traveled so many miles to live in a place she hardly knew. It seemed enough to live though.

Portland seemed friendly enough. The house was not in the center of town but on its outskirts, leaving her enough freedom to go to the parks or spend time in the beautiful shopping centers and bookshops. She loved the quaint little bookstore just around the corner where she could enjoy a lovely cup of tea with a cinnamon cake. She had taken to that combination. Of course the bookshop was not doing her wallet good but she did not care. She hardly went out anyhow.

She took a part-time job working in the East-Life Insurance Company where she instantly felt at ease. She did not have to work anymore but she wanted to. She was only thirty-five years old: too young to sit at home doing nothing. She had no one to travel with since she kept to herself. She hardly had any friends.

She was happy in her house and spent many hours restoring and redecorating it. She brought back the Victorian style that the house originated from; even restored the front room where guests used to be invited, and the back room where she sat for hours reading the bookstore books.

The neighborhood was private. Everyone kept to themselves. The stories of past serial killers and murderers that roamed the area during the seventies and eighties did not hurt her. None of those killers could have been as bad as the man that died less than a year ago.

Lynn Grant was a petite blonde with a line of freckles running over the bridge of her nose. With her five foot two she did not stand out in length but she was content with what she had. She was slim and well built and came over very fragile. But she was a strong athletic who managed her own. She had proven that when she moved to Portland, once and for all she had dealt with the problems of the past and moved on.

Lynn Grant would have lived her life again. She would have been happy again, and most likely have found a man again who cared for her, who brought her back into the world of trust and peace, and who would have protected her from all the evil she had encountered not so long ago. That man - whoever he would have been - never stood the chance to do this for Lynn Grant. Because on the night of the 24th of December, she died.

Chapter 2 December 24, 2002

Scully always knew her partner hated the Christmas period. Especially after his mother died, he felt the urge to escape the realm of happiness that most people were living in. If it weren't for her, he probably would have worked throughout the entire year. As it happened, she was the one usually telling him to relax a bit and enjoy life more.

These days however she never succeeded in doing so. Although she had asked him to join her for the Christmas celebrations her family were so eager on, he refused politely.

'I'm sure your family would like to see you alone,' he explained. 'Or with a man who can make you happy. I don't think your brother is going to be that keen on me.'

'Bill can stuff it,' she grinned. 'Mom has adopted you as a son, you know that by now. She would love to have you.'

'I know,' he admitted, for once not feeling the urge to argue with his partner over this. Not so long ago he had buried his mother and had found out the truth about his sister. Perhaps it was time to move on and find a family again. And the thought of celebrating Christmas with a normal family would appeal to him.

Scully saw she might actually win the fight this time and smiled. 'Think about it and let me know this afternoon. I'll call mom and tell her whether you are coming. She's got enough food at the house to feed an army.'

'That definitely sounds like Maggie.' He thought it over, seeing Scully's eager glance. She would love to have him there too. And he liked Bill despite his behavior and Tara, and Charles.

'I'll get back to you. I promise.' With that he left the office and walked up to Skinner's abandoned office. The man had a week off and was skiing in Aspen. Scully swore that he was seeing someone, since he had been taking off a lot of time lately.

'Hey Kim, how's it going?' 'Dreadful,' Skinner's secretary admitted with a somber look in her eyes. 'How so?'

The secretary stared at the good-looking agent whom she'd had a secret crush on for the past four years or so, and found herself babbling about her love life.

'Martin's going to dump me, I'm sure.' Hot tears started dripping on her hands as she stared at her bitten-off fingernails. 'He's been acting so strange lately. I'm so tired of it. Why can't he just tell me the truth?'

Mulder froze, for an instant not knowing what to say. He was never good at awkward situations where colleagues spilled the beans on their private lives and asked for advice in return that might actually influence their decisions. So, instead of giving the advice Kim was expecting, he decided for another approach. 'Why don't you take the rest of the day off? I'm sure that someone could fill in for you. You have vacation as well, don't you, for the next week?' She nodded with tears in her eyes.

'Good, then just tell one of your colleagues that you're not feeling okay and would like to leave early. Then go to Martin and talk to him about it. If there is anything wrong, he'll tell you. Besides, it's Christmas. He won't dump you.' Mulder delivered the biggest smile that would swoop off any healthy, young woman and handed her a tissue.

It worked wonders. Kim blew her nose, looked into the agent's eyes and nodded. 'You're right,' she smiled. 'I should talk to him. He won't dump me now, would he? You're sure about that?' 'As sure as I can be,' he answered and patted her on the shoulder. 'You'll be fine, Kim.'

With that, he left his reports on her desk, turned and whistled as he walked back to the elevators. He had just delivered his good deed; somehow it even seemed appropriate with the time of year.

And he had just made his decision: this year he would not spend Christmas in front of his television set watching some dreary movie he had seen a thousand times before, with pizza or take-out Chinese as his Christmas meal. This year he would spend it at the beautifully decorated table at Margaret Scully's home, with her family as his companion, and his partner as his date. Or at least he would pretend that she was his date. His stomach filled with butterflies as he thought of the prospects. Perhaps there was hope of a normal life after all.

On the way down, his cell phone rang. 'Mulder.' 'Agent Mulder, this is the Portland PD speaking. Have you been in charge of the Jeffrey Grant-case, about a year ago?'

'That's right,' Mulder confirmed, wondering why in the world he would receive a call about that case now. It had been a while since he had thought of Grant. In fact, the last thing he had heard was that Jeffrey Grant had committed suicide in prison, about four months ago, after he heard he would get the death sentence. Grant was one of those killers one would prefer to forget. The horrendous deeds behind his name had reached most of the serial killer-profile-websites that were scattered over the Internet. A famous author was writing a story on him. And the movie was in the making.

'I'm afraid I will have to request your presence here in Portland, Agent Mulder.' 'What is in Portland?' he asked curiously. 'The body of Mrs. Grant. Lynn Grant. She was found less than an hour ago.'

Mulder remembered her of course. She was a petite, beautiful woman who had a lot going for her. That was before she discovered that her husband was a serial killer. Before his arrest, she had believed to be the wife of a brilliant Computer Analyst who earned enough money working as a freelancer to pay for an amazing house in New Jersey. He had traveled all over the States for his job, spending a week here, a month there, and even six months in LA. All that time he traveled back and forth, spending every single weekend with her.

She did not know until Mulder and Scully came to talk to her, that her husband might be a serial killer who picked up his victims while staying here and there. The trail was easily spotted once he was a suspect. He was careful of course: killed victims in small villages or adjoined cities as to where he was staying, but still the trail lead to him. He knew his victims one way or another: through work, at restaurants he frequented, bars, meeting rooms, hotels. He had spoken to them and won their trust.

He chose them randomly, varying in age from eighteen to forty-six. They were all woman. He won their trust, took them, held them, raped them and killed them. And then he took them home. One by one. Apart from the six-month LA job, Jeffrey Grant remained in the area of his hometown. He was afraid of flying. He even drove to LA for the job, and his wife flew over then for the weekend. If he had made victims there, the trail was gone. It had faded away over the years.

But all the others were buried in his garden. He stuffed them in the back of the 4x4 he drove, took them home, fed his wife a sleeping pill on the night of his return, and buried the bodies in the garden while she slept upstairs. The garden had always been his sanctuary. He maintained it during the weekends and took care of all his beautiful plants and flowers. He had the best roses in the area.

Mulder remembered exactly how he had gotten the case. He had been asked by his friend Terence Davis, who ran the VCU to take a look at the file and see if he spotted anything. Davis had been in charge of investigating the disappearance of three young women in the New York area, and had four agents working on it. But he needed a profile and talked to Mulder about it.

Mulder had then offered to make the profile because he liked to work with Davis and was fascinated by the case. Because of the different areas within the greater New York area the girls came from, Mulder instantly thought back at the Paper Hearts-case where Roche had turned out to be a traveling salesman. If and when the girls had died violent deaths which no one doubted since they all came from good families and had good jobs without a reason to run off the killer might have taken the bodies with him and buried the bodies at the same spot. The killer therefore might have been someone who traveled around for his job and had the opportunity to track them down.

In short, Mulder made a profile describing a highly intelligent man who know enough about killing not to leave any traces, who was handsome enough to lure women with him, who had probably hurt them badly or raped them before killing since this was obviously a matter of power and who would have the means and opportunity to move the bodies from one place to another.

It was a long shot but the agents painstakingly started to gather around cases of missing women within the greater New York area. They came up with about thirty cases of which they took about twenty or so off the list. Some of the cases were too old; others were under investigation still by different police departments and already had a suspect in the running.

The ten remaining missing women had nothing in common, except that they all worked in the services sector somehow. Hotels, cafs, bars, restaurants, a dry cleaner's. The agents had then started with the hotels and had requested the guest lists of all the hotels where women had disappeared. If any names matched, they might have something.

That job alone took about two days. The lists took a long time to gather and then the names were compared. One name came back twice: Jeffrey Grant, traveling independent Computer Analyst. He had stayed in two of the hotels on the list. Then a further checkup revealed that Grant had paid with credit card at two of the other establishments where the missing women worked. It could not be a coincidence.

When the agents arrived on Thursday evening to talk to the man, he appeared to be out of town. His wife explained to them that he was always on the road and would return on Friday evening. The setup was quickly made: even though they had never seen the man, the agents decided to stake out the house and see if the man would do anything suspicious to betray him. If nothing happened overnight, they would talk to him on Saturday and verify his alibis. To be certain that his wife would not reveal anything to him, they persuaded her with slight force to stay with her mother that evening and leave the man to his own devices. A late night party would be her excuse to be out of the house.

Lynn was certain that her husband was innocent and agreed to participate in the setup. He would prove his innocence, she tried to persuade them.

That Friday evening, Jeffrey Grant was caught in the act of burying a body in his garden. The body was that of the missing twenty-one year old Alanis Booth who had not returned home earlier that week. She would be his last victim.

Jeffrey Grant was as Mulder's profile had described it a highly intelligent man with an IQ of 165, who had always been on the verge of cracking up while doing his high-paying job. He was wanted everywhere for the job and could ask whatever he wanted to get his work done, but found himself a loser at the same time. He did not love his wife and married her for appearances. He had homophobic tendencies that would never see the daylight, for his parents had always told him that gays were devils. To prove to himself that he was not gay, he raped the women without getting off on it. That frustration had only caused him to become even more frustrated with himself.

The found bodies were all mutilated but the last victims had suffered the worst. His tendencies had grown worse. Soon he would have started killed more women in a short period of time. 'You'll never know how many people I have killed,' he told them with shocked self-assurance. 'I'll never tell.' 'More or less than Ted Bundy?' Mulder had asked. He smiled. 'I'll leave that up to you.'

Strangely enough Jeffrey Grant was eager to talk to the police and FBI and told them the details on all murders. But he took the secret of the true account of killings with him to the grave, just as Ted Bundy his role model had done. He also seemed pleased that he had been caught and did not offer to plead not-guilty.

Mulder was with them when Lynn talked to her husband for the last time. She had asked him why and he had smiled and told her she looked lovely. 'I hope you rot in jail,' she had said. He had looked her straight in the eye. 'There's unfortunately no chance of that. But we'll be in touch again. Love you, Lynn.'

And now she was dead, about a year after her husband had been incarcerated. Four months after he had died. 'Why do you want me in Portland?' Mulder said, gathering his thoughts and forgetting what he had just promised himself about Christmas. 'I read the reports on her husband's killings when Lynn Grant first came to Portland,' the police commissioner explained. 'She wanted to know if the area was secure and safe and when I reassured her that it was, she told me what he had done. So I read up on it. And I can tell you one thing: whoever killed her, made it look like it was her husband's work.'

'Her husband's dead,' Mulder offered. 'I know that. But you still need to see this. When can you come over?' Mulder thought of the hell of finding an airplane ticket for any of the flights on Christmas Eve. And he thought of Scully's disappointment when she would find out that he had preferred to work on a case instead of spending the night with her family.

'Tomorrow morning,' he said. 'I can't possibly make it tonight. But I can be there by tomorrow, around noon.' 'Good. I'll pick you up at the airport. My name is Stuart Young. I'll recognize you. There's a ten o'clock flight. I'll book the ticket, assuming that you'll be coming alone?' 'I'll let you know about that but yes, it will probably be just me. Thanks.'

Mulder hung up quickly before changing his mind about flying over even this night and walked into the basement office. He smiled at Scully. 'I'll be there tonight, how about that?' Her eyes lit in surprise and she stood to hug him impulsively. He smiled at her joy.

He would tell her later that night that he was headed out to Portland in the morning. She would not come since she was staying at her mother's for the holidays. She needed the rest. And he? He needed to work. That's what his life was all about.

Chapter 3 December 25, 2002

Mulder had difficulty staying awake during the short flight out to Portland. It had been a long but fantastic evening with the Scully-family. Even Bill had been at his best behavior and had not seemed as annoying as he usually was.

Scully had sat next to her partner all evening and squeezed his hand on occasion, as if to tell him silently that she was thrilled that he was there. Mulder liked the newfound sympathy that lived between them. If it weren't for their work together, he would have long asked her to become more to him than she already was. But he was afraid. What if any relationship would endanger them? If anyone took advantage of it? If anyone knew how they felt about each other?

Despite Maggie's invitation to have him stay overnight, Mulder left for the city around one in the morning. Scully was not angry at him for going to Portland on Christmas Day. Instead, she urged him to give her a call if he needed a hand.

'I don't mind, Mulder,' she insisted. 'Honestly.' 'I know,' he had responded, 'but you need this time with your family. I'm a big boy. I can handle it. Besides, Tom Fielding is going to meet me at the airport. I called him last night and he was already on it. He helped out the last time as well, remember?'

She smiled. 'I know that Tom can look after you, but I also know how you get when you're profiling. You need a strong women's hand to take care of you.'

'I'll behave, I promise!' 'Good.' She smiled and pecked him on the cheek. 'Call me when you get there.' 'Yes, mom.'

At nine Mulder met Tom Fielding at the airport. The younger agent looked as tired as he felt. 'Rough night huh?' Mulder smiled. 'You can see that again. My family's idea of celebrating Christmas is by cracking ten bottles of wine and making sure that every last drop is devoured. Every year I swear not to touch more than two glasses, and every year I lose.' Tom grinned painfully. 'Would it be strange wearing sunglasses at this time of year?' 'That depends on whether you're in Australia or the US.'

The two agents slumped to the right gate and sat quietly next to each other. Tom was slowly dozing off while Mulder tried to concentrate on reading the whole Jeffrey Grant-file again, even though he knew every last syllable of it. On the flight he finally gave up the fight against sleep and dozed off as well. Both agents woke up when the plane hit the Portland-grounds.

'Never again,' Tom groaned as he picked up his luggage, leaning against a small cart. Mulder couldn't help but laugh as the two agents made their way to the exit, where Stuart Young was waiting to drive them to the crime scene.

Mulder stared in shock at the splatters of blood that were all over the lovely living room that had Lynn Grant's personal touch written on it. The sight was as horrible as anything he had ever seen before. It showed how cruelly the woman had died.

'The body has been mutilated beyond belief,' the commissioner explained. 'I knew the woman quite well and had difficulty recognizing her underneath all that blood.' 'How did she die?' 'The killer used a sledgehammer to crush her bones. He started with her arms and legs and moved up to her torso and head. Her face has been shattered horribly. And she was so beautiful once, you know.' 'Did anyone hear anything?' 'Not a thing. She was probably sedated when he started to work on her. I cannot believe that no one would have heard her screams otherwise. She must have been in horrible pain.'

Mulder knelt down and touched pads of blood on the carpet and parquetry. It was cold, as the murder had occurred the night before. He knew this scene. After Jeffrey had been discovered, he had shown them to a few shacks in the larger New York area where he had chosen to mutilate and kill his victims. The shacks were abandoned and situated on rural land. If anyone would have gone into those shacks before the FBI did, they would have discovered several hundreds patches of blood, human tissue and brain. And the sledgehammer that he had wedged in between two walls. On the sledgehammer was not a single fingerprint of his to find, nor was there any DNA that referred to him. That did not stop the jury of putting the blame on him though. After all, he had been caught burying a body in his backyard.

Mulder now understood why the police commissioner would think of Jeffrey Grant after seeing this. After seeing the body that had been mutilated with the same device the original killer had used.

'You said that Lynn came to you when she first moved here,' Tom asked. 'Why would she do that?' 'She was afraid.' 'Of Jeffrey?' 'I think so. At first, probably. She feared that he might somehow escape and come after her. And if he would find her, he would definitely murder her. He had told her he would come back for her.' 'But he died,' Mulder said. 'That must have set her mind at ease.'

'At first, yes. The commissioner hesitated. ''To be honest, I blame myself for letting this happen. She came back to me about a week ago and told me she felt terrified. She sensed a presence, or so she said. Something or someone was coming for her and would kill her.' 'A presence, as in a ghost?' Tom asked surprised.

'I don't know. I thought she was finally losing it. After all, she had been through a lot. A lot of people put part of the blame on her. She should have seen that her husband was a killer, they said. She could not have known. But she never knew. And therefore she fled here, to be safe from the gossip and harm that some people wanted to do her. Did you know that the families of some of Grant's victims swore they would get even on her? There was even a man who publicly threatened her.'

'I know about that,' Mulder agreed. 'His name is John Booth. He was the older brother of Alanis Booth, Jeffrey Grant's last victim. He was certain that Lynn was her husband's accomplice. But after the trial was over, he never made a move towards her.'

'Perhaps now he did,' Tom offered, 'and he wanted to take his revenge in the cruelest manner possible.' 'By killing Lynn the way her husband had killed his sister?' Mulder asked in disbelief.

'Why not,' the commissioner responded. 'People do crazier things for a lot less.' Mulder looked at the blood-covered walls and tried to imagine Lynn Grant trying to escape her captor. She would have been horrified. Terrified. Trapped. 'Either that,' Mulder mumbled out loud, 'or Lynn Grant was murdered by her husband's ghost.'

Despite the fact that it was Christmas Day, there was a vivid ambiance at the Portland Police Department. These were busy days for smalltime criminals who broke into cars and homes while people were out visiting relatives. 'Unfortunately these are our busiest days,' the commissioner explained, 'but we should be able to help you out with anything you need. What can I get you folks?'

'Nothing right now but a separate office space and a good cup of coffee,' Mulder smiled. 'If you don't mind, we'll talk over this case from here on. As long as there might be a reference with Jeffrey Grant, this case falls under federal jurisdiction.'

'I'm more than happy to give it to you,' the commissioner confessed. 'We're shorthanded as it is, and I feel that I would not be doing you any favors by walking around feeling guilty.'

'You don't need to feel guilty,' Mulder reassured him. 'We are certain that you have done everything that's possible for her. She might have been paranoid as well. You couldn't have known.'

'Thanks for those comforting words,' Stuart Young smiled. 'I'd better leave you to it then. The coffee machine is right over there. You can pick up your rental car in a minute downstairs. I've arranged to deliver it here. Are you guys settled with a hotel?'

'That's been taken care of,' Tom reassured him and winked at Mulder. 'Since it's so busy in town, the FBI was forced to take rooms for us in the Hilton.' 'Skinner's going to love that one,' the older agent smiled. 'And Scully's going to be jealous out of her mind.' 'It's not too late to get her here you know.' 'Nah. She won't even be thinking of me right now.'

Mulder of course could not know that his partner was constantly thinking of him, and wishing she could already leave the smothering shelter that used to be her home.

'So, what's first?' Tom asked. 'Are we going to the morgue?' 'I think that's the best way to start. I suggest that we run a check-up on John Booth and verify his alibi.' 'You don't believe that he had anything to do with it, do you?'

Mulder didn't know how to talk to Tom Fielding about his paranormal believes. The men had always worked together on profile cases, but never on X-Files. He did not know how Tom was going to react should he suggest investigating the case both on a paranormal and a profiling-level. But Fielding was ahead of him.

'Look Mulder, I know that the paranormal is your forte. I'm not suggesting that I know anything about it, but I respect what you believe in. You were my mentor for so long, or have you forgotten? I always knew there was much more you believed in then what meets the eye. I don't mind investigating this case on two levels if that would please you. In fact, I won't even tell Davis about this, if you don't want me to. But I'm just hoping that you would know that I'd take this opportunity to beyond standard reasoning as a chance.'

Mulder could only react with open mouth before starting to laugh. 'And here I was, trying to figure out how to tell you that we must look beyond reason.' 'No need to do that,' Tom raised his hand. 'Just tell me how to go about it, and we'll start. That is, if I can keep my eyes open long enough to see straight.'

Mulder couldn't help but smile at the enthusiasm of his former pupil. He had always liked Tom. Had he stayed at the VCU, they would have solved many more cases together. But his interests and urge to find the truth that was out there, split the two agents up. Now he was glad to have the chance of solving another case with him. Tom had always stuck by him in the past and would no doubt do so in future.

'The morgue,' Mulder said. 'And then we'll go from our findings there.' 'By the way,' Tom spoke on their way out, 'did you sense that cold wind inside the house? It was chilly in there. I wondered why.' 'Yes,' Mulder agreed. 'I noticed it too.' But he did not go into that. Not until later. Until the fear came back.

Chapter 4 Time unknown

The ceiling dripped water onto his face and hands, and onto the wounds that become horribly painful. The sense of numbness was gone now. All the pain that he had ever felt came back. Would he too suffer the fate that so many others had suffered before him? Would he be able to give up the secrets that he now knew? 'I alone love you,' he murmured as the song stuck by him. 'I alone tempt you.' He loved that song. And now it would pound in his ears until the moment he died. He had realized too late what it meant. 'Fear is not the end of it,' he whispered, and sunk back into oblivion.

Fear is not the end of it Part 2 of 3 Disclaimers in part 1

Chapter 5 December 25

The coroner's office was as calm as most shops were on Christmas Day. It should have been locked up had it not been for the once beautiful blonde that had been slaughtered on the night before Christmas, and the deceased young man that lay on the other slab.

The coroner himself was a man in his early fifties who looked weary and was obviously very tired of this job. 'Why do people kill on Christmas?' he grumbled before removing the sheet that covered the body of Lynn Grant. Instantly Mulder spotted Tom looking away. No wonder: the body that lay on the slab had been horrifically mutilated in a way that the agent himself had never seen before.

Not a single bone was left untouched. Not a single shred of flesh seemed to be sticking in place. Pieces of the nightgown the woman had been wearing were stuck onto her bare bones. Her face was crushed beyond recognition. Her body simply destroyed. Nothing left of her.

'My god,' Mulder managed to say as his eyes focused on what was left of her. 'My god.' 'I have never seen anything like it. The person, who did this, hated this woman beyond belief. Whoever did it, did not want to leave a single trace of her beauty left.' Mulder felt nausea pile up in him. This was horrendous. Even he had difficulty keep his meager breakfast inside. Bile rose up in his throat. But he kept on focusing on the body, trying to catch that one thing he thought they were missing.

'I'm having the dentist records transferred here,' the coroner explained, 'that might take a while though; they have to come from New Jersey. There is nothing else left for me to identify. All organs have been damaged, including her sex organs. I can't even tell if she has been raped. If there were any scars we could use as markers, they are invisible to the naked eye now. Like I said, this is vicious.'

'She has never seen a dentist in Portland?' Mulder asked. 'Not that we know of. The police checked her records. She has not seen any doctor over the past year. She was never pregnant as far as the local PD knows, had no personally physician here and has not seen any other doctor in any other form. So all depends on the dentist's records. I'll let you know quickly though.'

'Okay, thanks.' After taking a couple of photos of the body with them, the agents stood outside breathing in the fresh air. 'Lunch?' Mulder proposed.

'How's the case going?' Scully's eagerness to be part of the investigation became obvious to Mulder as soon as she called. 'If you're interested in slashed up bodies, you should definitely be here,' he told her. 'What we've seen today goes beyond human nature. The body has been mutilated horribly.' 'In what way?' 'The victim was murdered with a sledgehammer and then slashed inside and outside. There's nothing left to identify her with, except for her teeth.' 'What about DNA?' 'That would take too long. Besides, the dentist's records should suffice. Anyway, we have no doubt that it is Lynn Grant. She lived alone in that house.' 'And what about the connection to Jeffrey Grant?' 'All we know right now that she was killed in the same manner as Grant killed his victims, apart from the slicing and dicing. However, we're checking into the brother of his last victim. Apparently he has expressed his "grief" towards her.' 'John Booth? Yeah, I remember that. He even appeared in the newspapers. Do you want me to check him out?'

'Why? Do you miss me, Agent Scully?' Mulder couldn't help but laugh amused as his partner sought of a way to respond to that question. 'Actually, yes. A little bit. I don't know, Mulder. I think I'm getting too old for all these Christmas Carols. A week off these days to talk to the whole family is a bit too long. I suppose you couldn't use another extra hand?' 'Scully, it's Christmas Day. Why don't you relax for a while, enjoy the eggnog and come over tomorrow if you still feel like it?' 'That sounds good,' she confessed. 'I'll give you a call in the morning. Don't get yourself into trouble now, Mulder.' 'I won't.' 'Yeah right.' She laughed. 'Talk to you later.' 'Okay.'

Mulder grinned at Tom who was driving the rental car and smiled bemused at the conversation that he had only partially overheard. 'Is mother hen satisfied?' he asked. 'Mother hen?' Mulder laughed. 'Don't let her hear that, she would kill you. But I think she misses me, even though she would never admit to that of course.'

The agents stopped at a small diner. 'My stomach's trying to decide if it is going to keep down eggs for lunch,' Tom groaned. 'It's going to take a while to get that picture out of my head. Mulder, I swear I've seen bad things but this ' 'I know. Keeping a distance from such gruesome details is the art and fairly impossible to do. I think that even Scully would wince at the sight of this.' 'That's hard to imagine. You guys must have seen some gory stuff.' 'Yep. And unfortunately it does not always get better. I don't know, Tom. It seems as if the world is becoming a worse place these days. Is there any place you can feel safe?'

'Are you afraid, Mulder?' Tom asked surprised. 'Sometimes. Scully and I have been through the wringer. Sometimes I just think about quitting.' 'You can't do that. We need you.' 'Tell that to the big boss. Kersh would love to get rid of me.' 'Kersh doesn't know a good thing when it kicks him in the ass. Seriously though, you are a great profiler. Your profile on Grant was right on the mark, as were most of the work you've done for us so far. You can't just throw that away. It could save a lot of people.' 'Should I feel guilty then for the people that I cannot save?' Mulder asked. 'There will always be serial killers and murderers out there, Tom. The world has too many. I can't put that responsibility on my shoulders.' 'Nobody says that you should but your help is of more value than you think. As perhaps is mine. And Davis'. And Scully's. We all just try to do what we can, don't we?' 'I suppose so.'

Tom leaned forward. 'Lynn Grant died, probably because of something that her husband has done. Shouldn't we then go back to her husband's life, to find the connection that brings us to this day?' Mulder smiled and asked for a second cup of coffee while waiting for lunch. 'Let's start at the beginning then.'

Chapter 6 December 25

On Christmas Day most people were at home. That included John Booth, at this moment the main suspect in the murder of Lynn Grant. But Mulder did not believe that he had anything to do with it. If it had been a passionate murder, it would have occurred a year ago, right after Jeffrey Grant had been sentenced. Because of the time delay, it seemed obvious that Booth was innocent.

It turned out that Booth had moved to Nevada where he worked in Caesar's Palace as a croupier. It took a while to get him on the phone. He seemed startled when he learned the reason why. 'I have nothing to do with it,' he swore. 'I was here yesterday, working. And today. Check with my bosses, they'll confirm it. I never left the casino. Besides, after Grant committed suicide, I lost my total interest in them. My sister is dead and that is all that mattered. Revenge would not be the answer.' 'How did you know he was dead?' Mulder asked. 'Everyone knew. It was all over the newspapers. I can't say that I'm glad with it. I would have loved to see him suffocate in the gas chamber. But perhaps my sister's soul can rest at peace now.'

The phone call convinced both agents Booth had nothing to do with it. 'This could lead us up to another family member of his victims though,' Tom said. 'There might have been someone else who wanted revenge on her.' 'That's far fetched but a possibility. Why don't you check down that path while I am going to dwell into the paranormal.' Tom looked up. 'What?' Mulder smiled. 'Or unless you are interested in ghost hunting, you can come with me.' Tom picked up his coat. 'You can count on it.'

The house on the outskirts of Portland with the Victorian background was a restored home that would lure plenty of interested parties. But the ones who would be interested in it, would also have to deal with dozens of ghosts that lived inside the premises.

Or so David Trent said as the two agents visited him at his home. He was celebrating Christmas with his family and did not like it that the agents came to see him on this special day. 'My agency is open again tomorrow,' he said. 'Can't it wait until then?' 'I'm afraid not, sir,' Tom explained. 'We need to know who killed Lynn Grant.' 'So it's true.' 'Yes, sir.' 'Come in then.'

The real estate agent invited his unwelcome guests into a small dining room set for an extensive dinner party. He did not offer the agents chairs and made them feel like they had no lives, whilst he was celebrating with his family. 'I don't know how I can be of help.' 'Last year you sold the house to Lynn Grant.' 'Yes, she paid cash.' 'Cash, sir?' 'She had plenty of money. She had her husband's earned money he was fortunate, as you know but she also had her own family money and of course the bit that she received by selling that house in New Jersey. I'm surprised she even got it sold. With that graveyard in the back you can imagine that people are very cautious.'

'Was there anything special about the Victorian house, sir?' 'Of course there was.' He smiled and readjusted his glasses. 'It was beautifully restored and she put in a lot more money to make it prettier. I wonder if I get to sell it again this time did she have relatives that I might want to speak to.' 'The house won't be sold for quite some time, sir. It's sealed as part of the FBI-investigation. Anything else about the house?' 'It was haunted of course, as are most Victorian houses.' 'Haunted?' Tom asked curiously. 'Of course. In 1910 a young family was slaughtered by the man of the house. A William Montgomery, if I am correct. He was very fond of absinth. One says that this drove him insane and in the end became responsible for their deaths. He killed himself of course.' 'So those ghosts are still in the house?' 'Lynn Grant knew about it. But she did not mind. In fact, she seemed quite eager to live in a haunted house. I asked her about it afterwards and she said something odd. She said, 'Fear is not the end of anything. One should not fear being haunted. It's part of life.' 'Did she ever mention to you that she was afraid?' 'No. The last time I saw her, was two months ago. We occasionally bumped into each other at dinner parties. I'm really sorry that she is dead. Now, if you'll excuse me. My dinner is waiting and my guests are hungry.' 'Don't let your sorrow for her death stop you from celebrating,' Mulder spoke coldly. 'Thanks for your time.' As the agents left, the real estate agent practically threw the door in their faces. 'You truly have a way with people, Mulder,' Tom laughed. 'Only with the truly sympathetic ones,' Mulder grinned.

The house was abandoned now. The two agents were the only ones there. The cold chill inside the living room was gone. It was just downright cold overall, as the heating had been turned off. The water tap in the kitchen leaked and made a constant noise.

The walls were still covered with blood: a horrible farewell to a woman who had been happy here for only a year. But had she truly been happy? The commissioner had said she barely had any friends. Even her co-workers hardly knew her. She never spoke to anyone and kept to herself. If anything, the cause of her death should be looked for in her past. That was the only lead they had.

'I can't stop thinking that we might have to delve into Jeffrey Grant's case again,' Mulder spoke as he returned from upstairs. 'Did you notice that there is not a single personal item of this woman in the entire house? Not one photo, or a single bill, or anything that should give her a personality. And the books that she keeps in the back room come from one shop. Some of them are read and others seem brand new. All we know right now is that she liked Earl Grey tea and reading. I can't even find a phone book or diary.'

'I know,' Tom agreed. 'The strange thing is that she has left everything behind from New Jersey. In a way it seems as if she has cut off all of her past. At the same time, it seems as if she loved the past. Why else would she have bought this type of house?'

Mulder looked around, trying to catch that coldness again he had sensed earlier, but it was not there. If there was a ghost in this house, or a presence as one would call it, it was unnoticeable. 'Do you think her husband came back from the dead to kill her?' 'No. Ghosts don't kill this viciously. We've dealt with them before. I think it was a very vivid person that did this.' 'An old friend? A lover?'

Mulder looked at Tom. 'That might be something. We never really investigated her background, did we?' 'We investigated her husband's.' 'And what if her husband had a lover?' 'In between his murders?' 'It's been known to happen. A lover would come back to seek revenge. Passionate murders are often the most gruesome ones.' 'Does that mean that you are dropping the entire ghost theory?' Tom asked. 'For now. Of course my paranormal senses would love for it to be a ghost, even though I would really have a hard time explaining that one to Davis. Let's just focus on Grant for now and see what we come up with it.' 'But you still know the whole story by heart, Mulder. Don't you?'

Mulder frowned, realizing that he indeed still knew most names and places. And he also remembered that he always felt something was missing in that case. Something that could be valuable for now. 'Let's go to the hotel and set up camp there. Let's see if Scully can help us tomorrow.' As the agents left the house, the attic creaked.

Mulder was the type of person that would not let go of a case for as long as it had a chance of literally haunting him. He had resolved very violent crimes by thorough examination of all the details that would deliver the killer. In the case of Jeffrey Grant, they had been fortunate into finding the man so quickly. Quickly, that is, after the connection had been made between the many disappearances.

Jeffrey Grant had literally been caught in the act while burying a body. He had not put up resistance and had easily given the details on his victims. It was as if he had been waiting for it to happen. At first there had been talk about a not guilty-plead of insanity. But that had never happened. After a talk with his wife, he had changed his plead to guilty and had taken the full blame for everything he had done.

There was never a reason to doubt that he had murdered those girls.

After his arrest, he had been identified by many people who had seen him at the hotels, the bars, the pubs and even the dry cleaners were one of his victims worked. He had shown himself openly and had paid with his own Visa-card in all these establishments. Why would he have done that?

'He was cocky,' Tom explained, 'he thought he would never get caught because there was never a reason for the police to assume that the killer was one of the guests at those sites. Only when you created that profile of him, and we went back to seeing if he could have been a guest, we caught him. Had you not made that connection, he would have gotten away with it.'

'But we never found a single sample of DNA. Not so much as a drop of blood or a hair. How could he have known to be so careful?' 'I don't know. By watching TV? By looking it up on the Internet? Many killers were gloves and caps. It's not so exceptional.'

While munching on a piece of garlic bread Christmas Day dinner Mulder shook his head. 'No, there's something else. I said it then and I will say it now: a killer that good would not take such chances.' 'He wanted to get caught, Mulder. You said it yourself. Many killers want to be locked up because they are too afraid to kill themselves. They fear death more than incarceration.' 'Then why would he kill himself afterwards in jail?' 'Maybe he didn't. You know how those places are. He might have been slashed to death and no one would know. Or care.'

'Was there anyone present at any of the hotels? A woman perhaps? Someone he was seen with?' 'Never. But of course we never checked that LA-period for any lovers. Remember, he lived there for about six months.' 'You're right.' Mulder's eyes lit. 'We never did check that, did we? Let's do it now.' 'What, fly to LA now? Mulder, I'm tired and hungry and we're staying at a Hilton-hotel. Can't we just stay the night here?' Mulder grinned broadly. 'You're starting to sound just like Scully, Fielding. Let's go.'

Within two hours, the agents were on their way to LA.

Chapter 6 Time unknown

Mulder had no idea of time or place. It was cold and damp where he was. His foot could hit a wooden staircase. His entire right arm felt numb. His head ached. He could taste his own blood. He still lay on his stomach onto the concrete floor. He could hear a strange buzz, like voices trying to talk to him. There were ghosts in this place, or so he had heard. Someone had told him that a while ago. He couldn't remember who though.

If there were ghosts, they were trying to tell him something. He could not make them out though. There were no white spirits or images or creatures present. There was nothing but that continuous cold that would ultimately send him into death.

He knew he could not last much longer. The moment he dozed off and did not wake up again, he was ready for death. He could not do that. Not without telling her how sorry he was.

Chapter 7 December 26

'So you want me to examine that body while you're in LA?' His partner's strained voice obviously sounded angry. She had expected him to be in Portland, but instead he had flown to LA the night before without telling her. She had come over early to surprise him, only to find his hotel room empty.

'Scully, we'll be back in Portland by the end of the day. We just came up with a theory that we wanted to check out. We feel that Lynn Grant was murdered by someone from her past, or from Jeffrey's past. He lived in LA for six months. He might have had a lover then: someone angry enough to kill her now.'

'Why kill her? And why now?' 'That's what we're trying to find out.' 'It's a long shot, Mulder, and one not worth traveling to LA for. Besides, that was four years ago.' 'One always leaves clues behind, Scully. If there are any, we'll find them.' 'Okay then,' she sighed, 'but that body is better worth the trip or I'll kill you.' 'You offered to come over yourself, remember?' 'Yeah, that's right.' She stopped. 'Okay then. Talk to you later.' She hung up before he could add anything else. 'You two should get married,' Tom smiled. 'You bicker like an old married couple.'

Mulder did not respond to that one and walked into the precinct where they had an appointment with Frank Lane, an old friend of Stuart Young's. 'After your call last night I already made a background check on Jeffrey Grant,' the police officer began, 'but I couldn't find anything in particular. To be honest, I don't really know what you are looking for.'

'Anything that could lead us to someone he might have known here: a girlfriend, a lover.' 'He lived in Orange County, rented a house there. At the company's expenses of course. He drove a rental car.' 'Wait a minute, he drove a car?' Tom asked. 'Didn't he bring his own car?' 'Not according to this.'

'Jeffrey Grant had fear of flying,' Mulder explained. 'He even drove from New Jersey to LA. His wife often came over on the weekend but he never returned home during those six months.' 'If that is so, he made trips with that rental car he didn't want his wife to know about.' 'Or he handed the car to someone else,' Mulder suggested. 'Someone who might have been living with him.'

The house that Jeffrey Grant rented, was small but comfortable in Spanish style, as many houses were. It resided in a quiet neighborhood. It took the man about an hour to drive back and forth from work. 'He could have picked an apartment downtown,' Tom said. 'Unless he wanted this to be a secluded, private lovenest.' 'Let's talk to the neighbors then.'

The landlord explained that all the old neighbors were gone. They had moved here and there, inside and outside of LA. 'Why are you asking me all these questions about Jeffrey?' the landlord mumbled angrily. 'I already told them everything I knew about him.' 'Did you ever see a woman with him?' Tom asked. 'The blonde? Of course. She was his wife. I already told the police that too.' 'This woman?' Mulder delivered a photo of Lynn, taken a few years earlier. It was one of the photos he had kept in her husband's file. 'Could be. It was a long time ago. At first I only saw her during the weekend and then she turned up during the week as well. They made a lot of noise.'

The agents shared a glance. Lynn Grant never flew to LA during the week. So someone else took her place. Someone who looked enough like her to fool the neighbors into thinking it was Jeffrey's wife. 'We have proven fact that Lynn came over during the weekends. We had airline confirmation there. So the week-woman had to be someone else.' 'It's like looking for a needle in a haystack, Mulder,' Tom complained. 'It could have been anyone.'

'Jeffrey Grant stayed in LA before he started murdering. So something might have happened here that set him off. Where would a career-driven man like him pick up a woman?' 'At the office. At a bar. She could have been an escort girl.' 'Let's try the office first.'

The offices of Mackenzie Law were opened on Boxing Day. Mulder found a petite receptionist smiling her shiny white teeth at him. 'I'd like to speak with anyone who has worked with Jeffrey Grant,' he explained after he fished out his badge and showed absolutely no interest in flirting with the woman. Her smile quickly faded. 'Just a minute.'

The agents sat down in large, uncomfortable leather chairs that made you feel small and clumsy the moment you were seated. 'Law pays well,' Tom remarked. 'I knew I should have followed into my father's footsteps.' 'You're a field man. You wouldn't cope.' 'I'd become a private detective then. Or a cop. That would have made my father shudder.'

A tall redhead walked over to them. She looked a bit like Scully but was quite a bit taller, and rounder. She towered over the two agents. Mulder quickly struggled to get out of the uncomfortable chairs and shook hands with her. 'Lilah Manners,' she said. 'I run this company. How can I help you?' 'We would like to talk to about Jeffrey Grant, if you remember him of course.' 'Ah Jeffrey. Yes, of course. He was not easily to forget. Please, let's talk in my office.' 'Are you not enjoying holidays, Miss Manners?' Tom asked politely. She cast a glaze. 'People like us never stop working,' she spoke haughtily. 'Laziness does not earn money.'

The elevators were just as posh as the rest of the building so far, and when they stepped into the office, Tom held his breath. It was splendid, and yet very cold. It suited the woman before them. 'Coffee?' 'Yes, please.' They seated in the same type of uncomfortable chairs. 'Yes, Jeffrey Grant. He worked for us for over six months. He set up our entire IT-system, implemented two software systems and programmed a unique new program that only we use. It's a system that keeps track of all of our records: former and current clients. Very high-standard, as you can imagine. Of course we paid Jeffrey an arm and leg for it but he was worth every penny.'

'Did you know anything personal about Jeffrey?' Her eyes darkened. 'Only that he had affaires with half of my staff and ended up chasing away one of my best employees. Her name is Elise Ryan.' 'Can we talk to her?' 'You shouldn't bother. She left town a couple of days ago and we haven't heard from her since.' 'Do you have a photo of her?' 'I have an old badge photo of her. Mind you, she changed a lot when Jeffrey showed up. Even dyed her hair like his wife's. She's a brunette. The blonde did look better though. They looked a bit alike. I only saw his wife twice but both times I thought I was talking to Elise. Elise started acting strange after he left. She had a six-month sick leave. When she came back, she was still changed.'

'Do you know where Elise is now?' Mulder asked. 'No. She left a note saying she wouldn't be back. She was never the same after Jeffrey was arrested. Claimed he didn't do it. He couldn't have, because he was with her. I wouldn't have put it passed her to lie about it. She was madly in love with him. We actually offered to represent him for free but his wife wouldn't hear from it. When he was convicted, he never appealed either. Very odd, if you ask me. So no, I don't know where she is.'

Lilah's assistant returned with a photo. It was six years old but one could see the obvious resemblance between this woman and Lynn Grant. Both times Jeffrey Grant had fallen for the same type. It would have been easy for the neighbors and his landlord to mistaken the two women.

After taking Elise's old address and telephone number, the agents left. 'Bingo,' Tom spoke triumphantly. 'We have found the mistress, and the mistress is missing. She killed off Lynn and then disappeared with the northern sun.' 'Indeed it looks that way, Mulder agreed. The question is now: why after all this time?' 'Women are very unpredictable,' Tom explained. 'Very, very unpredictable.'

The old address for Elise Ryan showed up nothing. She had no relatives and thus no one who would miss her. She had given her notice and took off with all of her personal belongings. The apartment was squeaky clean. 'Get a team down her to dust for fingerprints,' Mulder said. 'Let's see if Miss Ryan turns up in the system.'

With the dusting left in the LAPD's hands, the two agents returned to Portland, and to the morgue.

Chapter 8 December 26

Scully was cleaning up as the agents arrived. 'The dentist's records matched those of this woman. Other than that, all I can say is that the killer made a big mess of her insides and outsides. You were right Mulder: I had never seen anything like it.' 'What was used?' 'I'd saw a sledgehammer and a big kitchen knife, probably the biggest version you could find. There weren't any knives missing from her kitchen, so the killer brought it with him.' 'Do you think it was a man who did this?' 'Someone with a lot of strength, that much is for sure. And someone who was very angry with this woman. I'd say that our killer bore a grudge.'

Scully dried off her hands and turned towards the agents. 'What did you dug up?' 'The name of Jeffrey's lover. She was probably the catalyst for the murders. When he left for New Jersey, they had a huge argument. She would not move in with him and called it a great affaire. He was forced to return to his wife and left her there. He might have taken the rejection hard and started killing women who looked like her.' 'But he never killed her.' 'Or perhaps he tried to,' Tom offered, 'and she got away. I'm having her medical records checked out as we speak. You never know.' 'It would have shown on his record when we first checked him out.' 'She might never have reported it.'

'I did find something else though,' Scully said as she put down the towel. 'I found Lynn's medical records, sent her from New Jersey. It turns out that she was hospitalized some time ago. She was raped and almost beaten to death. That happened in '94. She saw a therapist, as did her husband.' 'Do you think he might have done it?' 'Could be. She was suicidal for a while, took Prozac, was treated psychologically and then returned to him. That doesn't sound like something a raped wife would do, does it?'

Mulder thought his answer over. 'Victims of rape seldom do as you would expect. A lot of them suffer from the Stockholm syndrome. Others are too afraid and fear for their lives. They believe the rapist might come back to deal with them. It's difficult to have them tell the whole story.'

'So we have a raped Lynn Grant, her husband the serial killer and his lover Elise Ryan. How do they all fit?' Tom asked. 'Her husband got fed up with his wife and took on a mistress while in LA?' 'Could be. He moved there not long after the rape. That's strange behavior for a caring husband, isn't it?' 'Perhaps he couldn't deal with the emotional consequences,' Scully theorized. 'If he didn't do it, he might have had difficulty grasping the fact his wife had been abused. And somehow, he identified himself with the rapist and decided to try it for himself. But instead of raping, he started murdering.' 'And instantly catalyzing the events.'

'There is still something missing though,' Mulder urged. 'I don't know what it is. I have the feeling we're overlooking something. Why was the body mutilated so badly? There was no reason to do so.' 'Let's call it a night and talk about it in the morning,' Scully proposed. 'I'm very tired.' Mulder nodded, casting a last glance at the covered body that was being put back inside the freezer. He knew he would not be able to rest until the whole truth was uncovered. And somewhere out there, there was a woman on the run.

At the hotel Tom retreated in his room almost instantly, finally able to sleep properly for the first time in two days. 'Nighty night,' he yawned as he walked down the hallway to his own room at the far end. Scully had a room two doors down from Mulder's but did not go there. Instead, she proposed dinner.

In the hotel lobby, the two agents found themselves almost alone. Both agents ordered steak and fries. 'So, Agent Mulder,' Scully smiled as they ate. 'Is this the way you had envisioned celebrating Christmas?' 'I can't say that I'm unhappy to see you. In fact, I'd say I'm rather pleased.' 'Was this case worth coming over for?' 'Definitely. I'm fascinated.' 'You're thinking it's her husband's ghost, aren't you though?' she asked in between two sips of wine.

'Absolutely not. I believe that someone from her past killed her. There are ghosts in that house though. You can feel them when you're in there. But that's not our business right now. At this moment I just want to know who murdered her and why.' 'But you can't say that you're not interested in those ghosts either. I remember another Christmas when you dragged me to that haunted house. I hope you won't do that again this time.' 'Don't worry. That house is abandoned and empty. Not a living soul awaits there.' 'Those houses are very fascinating though,' Scully mesmerized. 'Did you know that I researched the Victorian era once? I took a lot of history classes. Almost every single house has a hidden hallway or room. Sometimes the hallway would lead to another house where the lord of the mansion had a mistress hidden.'

'But now you're talking about English houses.' 'Not exactly. At the end of the nineteenth century, a lot of English lords came over to make their fortune here. Some of them built exactly copies of their houses here.' 'Wait a minute.' Mulder frowned. 'Are you implying that there might be a hidden room in that house?' 'Could be.' 'When we first met the Commissioner, he said that the body had just been found and it was still warm. Yet no one had seen anyone come in or outside of the house. What if the killer was still inside?' 'Inside the house, you mean?' 'Could be.' 'I don't know, Mulder. This is just theory.' 'Based on truth.' 'So let's check it out in the morning then.' 'Why not check it out tonight?' 'I'm tired, Mulder. Really tired. It's been a long day. I flew over very early, especially for you, remember? I just want to crash for the night. That house won't go away and however was in there, will be long gone by now.'

'Scully, I'm going,' he spoke persistent. 'You don't have to go with me. I'll be fine. I just want to check it out.' 'Mulder, no,' she spoke sharply. 'Tomorrow. Let's just sit back and relax. Okay? Just enjoy your meal.' He sat back and chewed on his steak while his mind chewed on all the evidence at hand. He was missing something. But he couldn't place his finger on it.

Chapter 9 Time unknown

He should have listened to her, he realized now. But it was too late. I'm sorry, Scully. I'm sorry that you'll never find out where, how and why I died. It shouldn't have to end like this.

Fear is not the end of it Part 3 of 3 Disclaimers in part 1

Chapter 10 December 27

A little after midnight he just could not get to sleep. He was an insomniac; always had been. Especially when something boggled his mind. He needed to find out what it was.

Finally he gave up and slipped out of bed. Scully's room was two doors down. He could slip a note underneath the door to tell her he had gone to the house. She would follow in the morning. Of course she'd be pissed, but she would understand, surely. Or no, he would not give her that note. She would find out anyhow once she noticed he was gone.

Within half an hour he was on his way to the Portland suburb, returning to the house of the murdered woman. All lights were out of course; the entire area seemed to be asleep. He could be in and out of there in a few hours. Perhaps Scully wouldn't even know.

He used the spare key the commissioner had given him for the investigation and slipped inside. He knew there was no one here, yet it felt like he was being watched. He felt uneasy, instantly resisting the urge to get out of there.

Mulder switched on the lights and moved through the rooms, overlooking them one by one. If there was a hidden room somewhere, he had to calculate the space and check for hollow walls. This would take a while longer than expected.

He removed his jacket with his cell phone and started knocking on all downstairs walls. He found nothing. He checked behind all doors and calculated the floor space of all the rooms. After three hours or so he moved upstairs and performed the same work again. And then - just as he was about to give up - a hollow sound returned his knock. He was in the master bedroom, staring at a massive painting that covered most of the wall. He removed the painting and knocked on the wall again. Again that hollow sound. His eyes spotted a door painted in the same color as the rest of the room with a small hall. It was large enough to put one finger in it and pull the door open.

In sheer darkness Mulder tried to glare inside the gaping hole but saw nothing. He had to call Scully and get her to come over at once. This was an amazing find!

Mulder quickly ran downstairs to find his jacket and cell phone gone. And he also found himself staring directly into the vivid green eyes of Lynn Grant. She held a sledgehammer.

At the exact same moment, Scully woke up dazed in her hotelroom, staring at the red standby-button of the television set before her. She did not know why she had woken up so abruptly. She just had the strange sense that her partner was in grave danger. And as she walked to his room and found no answer, she knew that she was right.

She looked amazingly well for a dead woman, Mulder thought. And then he realized he had known it all along: The only reason why the body had to be mutilated so badly was to prevent anyone from identifying her. She had to be Lynn Grant, but in truth she was her rival, Elise Ryan: The woman who had vanished without a trace and looked an awful lot like this one.

'Don't bother trying to call anyone, Agent Mulder,' the woman smiled as she held up his cell phone and smacked it against the wall with a thud. It crashed. 'It's too late now.'

She looked different than when he had last seen her. She was older, more serious and a lot more dangerous. The mask that had layered her appearance was gone. The beauty that once rested underneath the shell of her skin, returned for a mere second.

In that second, Mulder knew he was going to die too. And he also knew why. 'Was it you all this time, Lynn?' he asked. 'Did you kill all those woman?' She seemed shocked that he asked her this, and then she smiled. 'Of course I did. And Jeffrey knew about it.'

In her apparent death, Lynn was even more dangerous than beyond it. No one would stop her now. Jeffrey was gone, as was the only woman who knew he could not have done it. She had destroyed all evidence of her own life, leaving this life to lead another one. She had killed off her past and convinced everyone that Lynn Grant was gone. No doubt she had also set up a scheme to have her own money transferred to her somehow.

'Why, Lynn? And how?' 'I was raped some time ago. Surely you must know that by now. I'm certain that your lady doctor friend has figured that out by now. Why else would you have her come over to investigate my corpse?' 'Yes, we knew.' 'After it happened, I was horrified of course. I lived in sheer hell. I didn't know that it was normal to feel that way. I wanted to take my revenge on the world, to kill those men who did this to me. They said I was pretty and that this was the reason why I was raped. I could not understand that. Why would anyone do this to another person? I just wanted to be dead. I was terrified that they would come back. I was alone in this world. I lived in fear. And then I realized that fear ' '- Was not the end of it.'

She looked up at him in surprise. 'Yes. How did you know?' 'Jeffrey couldn't cope with it, could he? He had affaires because he was afraid to touch you. And then he met Elise, a copy of you and fell in love with her.' 'I was so angry when I found out. I threatened to kill her if he didn't leave her. I was so upset that he believed me. So he dumped her and came back to me. But by that time I was too angry to stop it there. I was certain he would have more affaires and I decided to punish him.'

'So you followed him?' 'Day and night. And when I saw him flirting with a woman, I came after that woman and killed her. I took away all the women that he liked and buried them in our garden. And I made sure that all trails lead to him. I used ... things. To rape them. And then I killed them.' 'And you started enjoying it.' 'Oh yes.' 'But Jeffrey found out?' 'Of course he did. I told him. After I learned that he was still seeing that girl. He had to, of course. She was ' '- Pregnant?' 'Yes. Of course I'll take care of that baby. It was the baby I will never have. They took away my only chance to have a child. My uterus was damaged beyond repair after that rape. It seems natural that I should have her child then, don't you think?' 'So he helped you.' 'I forced him to. After you came over that night to talk to me, I knew I had to sacrifice him. So I told him to bury that body in the yard. You thought that he always used the 4x4 but that was my car. He used the Chevy. Only, that day he didn't. He had left early that Thursday morning for work in New York, taking the 4x4 with the body still in it. I had him drive it because he had been foul to me.' She smiled at the memory. 'He didn't dare to tell you the truth. He knew I would kill Elise. He loved her more than life itself.'

'Where is that baby, Lynn?' 'I'm Elise now,' she smiled. 'After tonight, that is. I'll pick up my child in a few moments. I have her at an apartment. We'll be out of here soon.'

Mulder pulled out his gun and aimed it at her. 'I don't want to hurt you, Lynn, but this has to end now. 'You won't shoot me,' she smiled. 'Not while you don't know where the baby is.'

She knew him well. She knew his sense of duty. He could not shoot her, not while risking the safety of the child. The girl was only a few years old. She could not take care of herself. It might take days for anyone to hear her. The chances of finding her without Lynn were too slim.

'How did you get Elise to come here?' he asked. 'I told her I wanted to reconcile. She never thought I was the killer. She thought it was all just a mix-up. About a year ago, I had flown up to LA to find her dental records.' 'So you had already switched your files during your last dentist's appointment back in New Jersey, a month before you left for Portland. You had planned this a year ago but knew you had to keep a low profile in order to have it work. Only the dentist could prove that the body in that house was truly Lynn's.'

'Yes,' she responded. 'I needed the dentist. And I needed you.' 'Because you know I investigated the paranormal. You were counting on the ghost-stories that lived inside your house. You hoped that I would automatically assume that your husband's vengeance spirit had come back to destroy you. You did not think I would follow the rational angle. But I found Elise, and I found the connection.'

'And that, unfortunately, will lead to your death,' she sighed as she stepped forward with the sledgehammer in her hands.

Damn it, Mulder thought feverish. Why hadn't he waited for Scully? She would not make the connection between Elise and Lynn, not without all the information he had just heard. He had to reason with this woman.

But how could he, when her eyes spoke of pure hatred and her every being was so filled with adrenaline that she could easily take him on? 'I don't want to shoot you, Lynn,' he spoke evenly, 'but I will.' 'Go ahead,' she smiled. 'Shoot me then. I deserve it, Agent Mulder. I did kill so many people after all. I can see it in your eyes. You know the truth now. You can't leave me alive, can you? What if I escape? What if kill again? You would even risk the child to stop me.'

'I won't kill you,' Mulder spoke calmly. 'I won't kill you, I swear.' 'I will kill you,' she promised. 'And I'll stash you where no one will find you. Upstairs, in that room that you just found.' 'My partner will find me.' 'When it's far too late.'

Mulder aimed his gun at her chest. 'Don't do it, Lynn. I swear I will shoot.' 'Shoot me then and deliver me from this cruel world,' her voice spoke hard as she raised the hammer.

Mulder aimed for her leg and fired. It hit her point blank. She winced and cursed and dropped the sledgehammer as her hands reached for the leg. Mulder held the gun up to her as he moved closer, visually examining her wound. It was just a flesh wound, but enough to calm her down. 'Don't touch that hammer, Lynn.' She held onto it. He had no choice but to act.

He knelt by her side. 'Do you have a cell phone, Lynn?' She looked up in sheer hatred and he knew he had made a mistake. Before he could fire again, the woman brought up the hammer, shoving it directly into his shoulder, cracking his collar bone with one single haul and sending the agent flying backwards against the far wall.

'Ahh!' Mulder dropped his gun and instinctively reached for his burning shoulder and arm, paralyzed almost instantly with numbing pain that could have sent him over the edge. But he was strong, healthy and had a lot of self-control. The pain did not take over or numb him. It was just there as a sudden, sharp reminder of what was happening to him.

She moved up, ignoring the flesh wound in her leg as she approached him. The hammer rested in her hands. Before she could lower her weapon for the second time with that strange, crazed look in her eyes, he slid onto the floor, to the side, just inches below the spot where the hammer hit the wall. Holding onto his arm he crawled onto his feet and away from her, slipping and falling as he started to move through the house.

'Come out, come out, wherever you are,' her voice creaked. He leaned tiredly against the walls as his feet dragged him through locked rooms and past closed doors. He had dropped his keys somewhere: in the jacket maybe. He paused only to find his ankle gun missing. He had forgotten to clip it on.

Now he knew why he had felt that sense of being watched earlier. She had been inside the house for a lot longer than he had believed, waiting to play her cat-and-mouse game with him. Perhaps she had known he would come back. Perhaps she wanted to taunt him with the truth after all this time, knowing he was the one arresting her husband.

Her feet were behind him; she had a slight limp. He hid inside a cabinet, half-closing the door as she rushed past him. Scully he had to reach Scully. But she did not know where he was. She was sound asleep in her hotel, as was Tom. Why in god's name had he been so stupid?

He slid out of the cabinet and returned to the living room. If need's be, he would throw himself through a window onto the downstairs terrace. If he broke another bone or so, it would still not stop him from running. The adrenaline rush that surged through him, was wearing out though. He had not much longer to deal with her.

And there she was, right behind him, swinging that hammer onto him. He moved away from her right in time, falling onto his shoulder, wincing and crying out in pure pain as his body hit the floor. He crawled forward and there she was again. And she stopped, just before the hammer was to bust his skull. She hovered over him with the hammer, staring at him as he lay at her feet. He was barely conscious now, barely aware that she was about to kill him.

Instead of busting his skull, she started dragging him. He could sense that he was moved from one room to another. They were heading upstairs. She moved him upstairs, despite her own injury and his heavier weight. She was too strong for a woman. The adrenaline supported her.

His broken collar bound collided with the parquetry but he was hardly aware of it now. He was slipping in and out of consciousness. His body took on the normal defense against pain and hurt.

The next moment he was aware of the fact that his body lost touch with the ground. It took only a few seconds and he stared into the gaping hole he had discovered minutes earlier. And then it smacked into cold concrete. His head touched the ground, sending him instantly into oblivion. And there he remained for the next hours.

Lynn Grant smiled as she locked up the hidden room that had once led to another house in the area. In the past, that room had been part of a passage way that would combine two houses. She had found it by chance and had used it as a hiding place when the police came to find "her" body. She had sat there for hours, at the bottom of the small staircase that had brought her down into that gaping hole. She had not been afraid, even though she had heard whispers of the past all the time.

Lynn had covered her bleeding leg with a handkerchief, preventing the dripping of blood on the floor. She had cleaned up after the agent and herself, put the painting back onto the wall so that no one would find the passage way, and returned downstairs. There was not a trail leading to the agent inside the house. He had vanished without a trace.

Her car waited across the street. Within the hour she would make it to the airport with the child. Using Elise's passport, she would make her way to New York. The child would not be able to say anything. She had an ID for the girl as well. In NY she would get on a plane to London. And there she would start over again.

And if she should someday feel the urge to kill again, she would. It was in her blood.

Chapter 11 Time unknown

Mulder knew he was in very bad shape. He didn't need to be a doctor to notice that. He could barely move. His head hurt like hell and he could hardly see anything. His shoulder and arm were unmovable. He must have damaged more in his fall down the hidden stairs. He could taste blood in his mouth. And blood sticking to his shirt. His jacket was gone. Where did he leave the jacket? If he had left it somewhere, Scully might find it and know where he is.

Then he felt something lying on top of him. His jacket, with his wallet in it was there, and the cracked cell phone. There was no sign of him now. The house was abandoned. Someone might come to buy it some day, but by then he would be long dead. This room would become his grave. It would all end today.

And strangely enough he no longer felt fear. Now that he knew he might die, he was not afraid to fear his fate. There was more behind death. He had always known that. He just wished he could talk to Scully one more time, to tell her he was sorry. Sorry that he would leave her behind without her ever knowing the truth.

Chapter 12 Time unknown

He saw light at the end of the tunnel. Or was it really the proverbial tunnel everybody talked about? The light seemed too sharp, too bright to be inviting him into death. It shone into his eyes as the lids were touched by fingertips. 'He's alive,' someone said. 'Thank god,' another person exclaimed. 'Get those paramedics in here now. He's bleeding. Looks like his shoulder and head suffered damage too. Definitely a concussion.'

He was turned carefully as his body was being examined for injuries. He did not understand any of it. Why was he still alive? Who were these people? He had difficulty understanding their words, even though he knew they had to be familiar to him. He could tell by their concern they must have cared for him.

'Mulder, it's me,' a voice spoke soothingly; 'you'll be okay now. We found you and you'll be fine. Just stay with me. Don't let yourself go. Can you do that for me?' He tried to look into her eyes but found that he couldn't. It hurt too much to do anything but lie there.

A collar was being strapped around his neck. He could sense that he was on the move, as his body rested behind the straps that kept him onto the gurney. He was being lifted up the hidden stairs and winced at the light that came from upstairs. Then he was lowered down again until he lay onto a stretcher. There were so many lights everywhere that it ached just to do anything. He couldn't even speak.

'Mulder, I'm with you,' she said, 'I'm going to the hospital with you. Just stay with me. Listen to my voice and concentrate. I don't want you to go to sleep now, you hear?'

He tried to nod and tell her it was quite alright, but he couldn't. So he just let his body be moved and tried to concentrate on her voice, as she had ordered him to do. And her hand held onto his, resting reassuringly on his skin. He remembered now that he had thought about falling in love with her, and how it would endanger them both. How the pain would become so bad if something were to happen to them. Now he knew how it must have felt for her to search for him. How she must have moved heaven and earth to find him.

'It's alright,' he whispered behind the oxygen mask that helped him breath. 'It's alright. I won't leave you here, chained to fate. Fear is not the end of it.' She did not hear what he said, but he knew she did not need the words. She had found him and that would complete her life again.

Chapter 13 Time unknown

He sat up in bed looking like hell, but doing fine. His shoulder had been operated on, the collar bone set. The damage would force him to visit a physiotherapist for the next couple of weeks, but all in all it could have been a lot worse, or so Scully thought.

The repair to his side had been done easily. No vital organs had been hurt in his fall down the stairs. All in all the blood loss had not been that bad, considering the circumstances. He was lucky to be there.

'We've got her, Mulder,' Scully had reassured him on the second day after waking up from his dazed and feverish dreams, induced by sedatives and a constant fear that she would come back to finish the job. At the hospital, while they worked on him in the ER, it had all come back. He remembered what she had done to him and how she had done it. And he told Scully quickly, before sinking into unconsciousness again. It had taken up a lot of his strength to warn his partner.

And so they had caught Lynn Grant at the airport as she boarded the plane under the name of Elisa Ryan. She did not resist as they placed her under arrest and took the child away. The girl would end up in foster care.

'It's over now,' Scully smiled as she sunk on the side of the bed while Tom slept in the chair near the window. Fielding had felt as guilty as she had when Mulder did not return from his little field excursion and had worked the entire night to find their partner. In fact, the house had been crowded with people trying to find the hidden room Scully was so certain of. It had taken over two hours to find it. By that time, Mulder had been in a very bad state.

'He looks tired,' Mulder smiled faintly, pointing at Tom. 'So do you, by the way.' She shook her head. 'Learn to listen, Mulder. We almost lost you.' 'Hey, I'm here, kicking and screaming,' he reassured her. 'Don't talk like that.'

She shivered, shaking her head. 'I was so mad at you first, Mulder. Going out on your own like that and doing your thing. I thought you weren't considerate for any of us. I could have throttled you myself.' 'But -?' 'Then I realized that I had given you a hard time myself. The one time you were actually thinking in my direction I did not pick it up and thought you were fishing behind nets.'

'Good.' Mulder smiled. 'I'm glad that you were angry.' She looked up. 'You are supposed to be forgiving me now, saying I shouldn't worry about it too much, and blah blah blah.' 'Hell no, I'm enjoying this.' She punched him slightly, making sure she hit no vital organs. 'Thanks a lot, Mulder.' 'No,' he turned serious again. 'You had every right to be pissed at me. I should have listened to you. Let it be a lesson for me. Thank you for saving my ass. I thought I was dead meat there.' 'Yeah,' she whispered as sudden tears sprung in her eyes. 'So did I.' She grabbed his hands and kissed the fingertips. He was touched by her moves.

Epilogue

Lynn Grant stared unseeingly at the agents behind the glass. To her they no longer existed. They were situated in another world, where there were problems and heartaches. Here, behind the glass, she felt secure and safe. She would never see daylight again and she did not mind.

'Is there anything you want to say to us, Lynn?' Mulder asked quietly. She looked up into his pale face and to the bandaged shoulder that rested in a strap around his shoulder. 'Yeah,' she smiled. 'What was it like? Were you afraid, Agent Mulder? Did you fear for your life? Was it like drowning in quicksand? Tell me all about it. I want to know.'

He looked back at her. 'Fear is not the end of it, Lynn. You should have known that.'

The woman behind the glass paled and turned around, leaving the world forever. Some day she would know what it was like to die like that too. Some day, she would truly fear again. She was almost looking forward to it.

The End

 


"Fear is Not the End of It" by Humbuggie

This story was downloaded from the Gossamer Project on 9 September 2015. Do not archive stories elsewhere without permission from the author(s). See the Gossamer policies for more information: http://tooms.gossamer.org/local/policies.html


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