Title: Lest a Beast I Become
Summary: The discovery of an X-File previously hidden from sight, leads Mulder and Scully to a meeting with one of the earlier X-Files investigators. ______________________________________________
October 16, 1995
"Morning, Mulder." Agent Dana Scully walked into the basement office she shared with Fox Mulder, and stopped in confusion.
"What in the world are you doing?"
Mulder was in the process of dismantling the large file cabinet that stood against the old brick wall. He glanced at her, then turned his attention back to the stubborn drawer that was firmly stuck in the overflowing cabinet.
"Just some spring cleaning." He said, with a wry grin, then glanced at her. "In October."
Scully rolled her eyes in exasperation, but said nothing. She had often teased him about the state of his half of the office. `Hurricane Mulder' was her usual comment, which was always met with that infuriating sly grin of his. She had given it up as a hopeless cause a while ago.
Scully sat down at her desk and pulled out the file she had been working on the day before, and was engrossed in it when she heard a huge crash, snapping her out of her reverie. Mulder had yanked on the stuck drawer one final time, but instead of the drawer pulling out, the entire cabinet had collapsed and fallen on the floor, narrowly missing Mulder, and scattering papers all over the floor.
"Are you alright, Mulder?" she asked anxiously. She already knew the answer though. He had this uncanny knack of coming through things relatively unscathed.
"I'm fine, but it looks like we're going to have to requisition some new furniture." Mulder shrugged matter-of-factly, and had turned back to survey the wreckage when something caught his eye. A discrepancy in the stones of the wall where the file cabinet had stood only a few moments ago. He bent down, and examined the anomaly more closely. One of the stones had been shoved out of place. The strange thing was, it looked as though it hadn't been cemented in. In fact, it looked as though it had never been cemented in.
Mulder braced himself, grabbed the edges of the stone, and pulled. The stone came out easily, and revealed a gaping hole in the wall. Scully crouched down beside him, startling him. He hadn't heard her moving.
"What have you found?" She asked him, then looked into the hole. Mulder dropped the fake stone, and reached into the hole, re-emerging with a file folder and an old notebook. "Looks like an X-File." He said, and waved the papers triumphantly in the air.
Scully stood up, crossed her arms, and gave him The Look. "Or not." Mulder replaced the stone in the wall, stood up, and dropped the sheaf of papers on his desk. "Give me a hand with the cabinet."
November 27th 1953
"What do you _mean_ I'm being assigned to the X-Files? Respectfully Sir, I have better things to do with my time than babysit a renegade agent on a series of wild-goose chases!"
"Sit down, Agent Jacobs. The X-Files are not wild-goose chases, nor is Agent Cauthorn a `renegade'. And I highly doubt that babysitting will have any part in your new assignment." Assistant Director Jason Rasputin watched stonily as Eric Jacobs reseated himself, and calmed down slightly.
"You are being assigned to the X-Files because of your qualifications. No other reason. And it will be helpful for you to keep that in mind. The threat posed by these `unsolved mysteries' is larger than it appears." The older man steepled his fingers and glared at the younger agent. He was good, or he wouldn't be here, but he had an alarming habit of not believing anything until he saw it, or had emperical evidence. A fine attitude in life, but one that was liable to get an FBI agent killed. This reassignment should end that quickly. And, he admitted to himself, Cauthorn did need someone watching her back. Who had made the damnfool decision to allow women in the Bureau anyways? Assistant Director Rasputin dragged himself back to the here and now, and asked "Anything else you wish to add?"
Jacobs left the office in a worse mood than when he entered. As usual. The X-Files. They had a reputation all throughout the Bureau. UFO sightings, werewolves, and loonies who claimed to have been raped by ghosts. And spearheaded by Leanne Cauthorn, one of the only women in the Bureau, and according to rumour, a real weird one. Nothing to do but deal with it, and hope for a quick transfer.
He arrived at the door to the basement office in a slightly calmer mood. You never know, it could be interesting. And rumours are always exaggerated. He knocked on the door, and a muffled voice from inside answered him. "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!" Hoo boy. Jacobs opened the door cautiously, and stepped inside. An attractive woman who could only be Agent Cauthorn looked up at him from a scattered mess of papers.
"I'm Agent Jacobs." His statement was met with a blank stare, so he continued. "I'm your new partner." She arched her eyebrow, and then waved him over to the second desk on the other side of the small room.
"Make yourself at home." She said, and smiled. "Tell me Agent Jacobs, do _you_ believe in the paranormal? My last partner spent most of his time trying to convince me that UFOs were weather balloons and ghosts were a figment of some overactive imaginations."
"What happened to him?" Jacobs asked, curiously. Better find out about on-the-job hazards now.
"He got eaten by a werewolf." Cauthorn replied nonchalantly, then chuckled at his stunned expression. "Actually, he left the Bureau. Too much travel. He's a detective in New York now."
This was gonna be a long assignment. ______________________________________________
October 16 1995 9:45 AM
The office put back to its normal state of near-total collapse, Mulder dropped into his chair. He regarded the toppling stacks of paper with disinterest, and opened the newly discovered file. It was a normal missing person report, complete with photo. It was dated 1955. Nothing really unusual here, nothing to indicate why it would be stuffed into a wall. Mulder leaned back in his chair. Then he noticed the journal that had been with the file. Maybe that would give him a better idea as to just what was going on.
The journal was old and tattered, yellowed with age. Mulder opened it gingerly, half expecting the whole thing to simply disintegrate. The faded handwriting inside was loose and freeflowing, feminine. Intrigued, Mulder began to read.
November 27th, 1953: My new partner showed up today. It should be interesting to work with someone again, I've gotten used to working alone since Mac retired. I just hope he's a little less rational than Mac was. I mean, swamp gas? That's stretching things just a bit. It should be interesting, though. And it'll be nice to have someone to talk to again.
Mulder sat up with a start. Leanne Cauthorn-that was the name on the MIA report! He dropped the diary, for it was obvious now that that's what it was, and opened the file. Here it was-Special Agent Leanne Cauthorn, disappeared from her home on April 3rd, 1955. No clues, no sign of a struggle, search called off on April 19th, same year. The plot thickens. Mulder turned back to the journal. If her journal had contained anything about her abduction, then it would have been noted in the report. But if it hadn't, why was it hidden? Mulder glanced at Scully, who was absorbed in one of the many files stacked neatly on her desk. He started to call out to her, but then stopped. This might be nothing, but then again, it might be something. Mulder picked up the journal again, and flipped to a page about halfway through.
_August 14th, 1954: The nightmares have started again. Of course, with the X-Files, the nightmare never really ends. I've seen so much since I started here. So many things that for _normal_ people only exist in pulp fiction and B-movies. But this last one, that was something not even the most warped of popular authors could have dreamed up. For a creature like that to exist, caught that way between two worlds, it boggles the imagination. Jacobs took the destruction of his pet theories surprisingly well. I've grown to depend on him so much these past few months, I suppose he's what keeps me sane. I can't imagine what it would be like without him anymore. I guess what I'd miss most are the constant arguments. But I've got to stop thinking this way. Nothing's going to happen to _either_ of us.
December 8th, 1954
Cauthorn leaned back in her chair, and rubbed the aching muscles in the back of her neck. They had been going over this file for hours now, and still had nothing.
"I think I'm going to call it a day, Jacobs." She said to her partner, who was still shuffling papers, trying to make the impossible seem like something he could accept. He never changed. He glanced up at her and nodded.
"I'm going to keep working on this. I'll see you tomorrow."
Cauthorn finished packing files into her briefcase, and walked out the door. As she walked through the parking lot, she felt a strange sensation. An uncomfortable feeling, like she was being watched. She turned around cautiously, but there was no-one else in the lot. Paranoia has this strange way of sneaking up on you. She shivered as she unlocked her car door. It was probably just lack of sleep, coupled with an imagination that at the best of times could only be described as overactive. Sure, that was all it was.
The feeling subsided in the car, but increased again as she walked up the stairs to her apartment building. Giving in to her fear, all the while berating herself for doing so, Cauthorn tore up the stairs, into her apartment, and locked the door behind her. "Now _this_ is what working on the X-Files does to you", she said dryly to herself. "But just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you."
Banishing that line of thought as unproductive, Cauthorn settled down in her living room to work. After sitting and staring at the same piece of paper for 20 minutes without absorbing any of it, she got up and began to wander around her small apartment. Still, that strange feeling came back. In a flurry of activity, Cauthorn tore through her apartment, locking all of her windows, and barring her door. She wrapped herself in a thick blanket, and curled up on her couch. "This must be what a goldfish feels like" she muttered to herself, and then burst out laughing. This was ludicrous. She was acting like a high-school cheerleader in a slasher movie. Cauthorn untangled herself from the blanket, draped it over the back of the couch, and resolved to forget about the entire incident.
October 16th, 1995
Mulder put down the journal guiltily. It didn't look like there was anything there, and he was getting far too involved in something that really wasn't any of his business, not to mention something that had happened over 40 years ago. But still-a disappearance, no sign of stuggle or a break in? It did sound like either alien involvement, or a giant cover-up. Either way, it was something that would really annoy Scully. Perfect.
"Hey Scully, take a look at this." Mulder closed the folder and handed it to his partner. "What do you think happened?" Scully took the file from him and flipped through it.
"Well, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure I know what _you_ think." She handed the file back to him with a small grin. "Do you want to check it out?"
"Don't you?" Mulder replied, and when Scully didn't answer, he continued. "She was one of the first agents assigned to the X-Files. What if she was kidnapped because they were getting too close to something?" His voice trailed off. This was getting too close for comfort. Scully looked a little uneasy, and then agreed with him. "This isn't much to go on" she mused, waving at the MIA file, "but it's more than some we've had before. Did she have a partner? He's probably the first person we should talk to."
Mulder opened the file again, and looked through it. "Her partner was the person who filed the report. Eric Jacobs."
October 16th 1995
"I've found him, Mulder. Eric Jacobs is currently in residence at the Rosecrest Home for the Aged here in Washington." Scully walked into their office holding a slip of paper with an address scribbled on it.
Mulder crumpled up the piece of paper he had been writing on and threw it at the wastepaper basket across the room. It bounced off of the edge onto the floor. He grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair, and followed Scully out of the office.
March 29th 1955
"Alright Cauthorn, what's the deal?" Jacobs folded his arms and stared at his partner. "You've been acting strange for a while now. What's wrong?"
Cauthorn looked at him distractedly. "I don't know what you're talking about. I'm fine." She wasn't though. He could see that much. She was lying to him, and he had no idea why. She could be so infuriating at times. He decided to try a little subtlety.
"If you insist. I just hope that you would tell me if anything _were_ wrong." He watched her face carefully. She looked as though she were fighting a mental battle with something. One side lost, and she looked up at him worriedly.
"Actually, there is something. And it's been going on for quite a while now. Ever since, oh I don't know, about December, I've had this strange feeling, like someone's watching me. Whenever I'm out in the open, and when I'm at home. It's probably just paranoia." Cauthorn concluded hurriedly, and bent back to her work. Well, that certainly explained things. Like why she was so jumpy lately. She had blamed that on too much coffee, and her nervousness on lack of sleep.
"Have you checked to see if anyone's following you?" Why would someone follow Cauthorn? Unless it was because of the new research they were doing. Maybe someone was trying to scare her off. But why not both of them then? And they hadn't known in December what they knew now.
"All the time. And there's never anyone that I've been able to spot. It gets much worse when there isn't anyone around, and nowhere for them to hide. I thought at first that it was someone trying to scare me off of this case, but that makes no sense. I mean, why just me, if it's about the X-Files?" She looked at him carefully. "You haven't been followed, have you?"
"No. I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary lately either. Well, whatever passes for normal around here." Lame joke. She smiled faintly.
"It's probably nothing. I'll be fine. Let's get on with this, shall we?" Cauthorn asked, and picked up the file again. She's tough. She'll be fine. ____________________________________________
October 16th 1995
The blue car rocketed down the highway, Scully driving, Mulder going through his briefcase one more time. He pulled out the file to page through it again, and the journal fell into his lap. He dropped his case on the car floor, and flipped through the book to the last entry.
_April 3rd, 1955: That feeling is back, much worse than ever before. I can feel his eyes drilling into the back of my neck no matter which way I turn. I know it's a he. I'm not sure how. And I know he's been watching me since December. I don't know how I know that either. I just do. And that, I don't mind saying, is scaring the _hell_ out of me. The fact that he's there doesn't worry me much anymore. I guess it's true what they say, that a human being can adapt to anything if subjected to it long enough. But somehow, I know that he doesn't mean to hurt me. He's got something else in mind. And whatever it is, it's going to happen soon. Maybe tonight. Very soon. Dear God, I can hear footsteps in the hallway
The writing ended there. Mulder flipped through the book, but there was no more writing anywhere. Whatever had happened, she had never returned from it. Was that what would have happened to Scully if he hadn't fought so hard, hadn't risked so much? He didn't want to think about that, so he turned to Scully.
"How far did you say this place was?"
"It's right here" Scully answered, as she pulled into a circular driveway. The sign over the sliding door read "Welcome to the Rosecrest Center for Geriatric Care. A great place to be!"
"Well, isn't this cheerful" Mulder remarked as they walked up to the door. It slid open automatically, and Mulder and Scully walked inside. They stepped through the door into a large lobby, with cushioned chairs arranged in groups along the walls, colorful murals adorning walls and ceiling, and groups of three, four, five people sitting and talking cheerfully. Each group consisted of approximately two elderly people, Mulder supposed they were residents, and one or two younger people, probably aides, volunteers or family members.
Scully stepped up to the main desk, and rang the small bell that was sitting off to the side. A harried nurse rushed up to the counter. They spoke for a short while, and then the two FBI agents headed for the elevators. They arrived on the sixth floor, and were directed to room 606.
Mulder knocked on the door, and then opened it when a gruff voice from inside invited him in. Mulder and Scully stepped into the room cautiously, and were greeted by the old man sitting in the wheelchair near the window. Outside the sun was setting rather dramatically, and his attention was fixed on the brilliant colors in the evening sky. "Who are you, and what do you want?" He asked bruskely, never turning around.
"My name is Agent Mulder. This is Agent Scully. We'd like to ask you a few questions about your time with the bureau." Mulder began.
"Like what?" Jacobs interrupted. "It was a long time ago."
Scully stepped forward. "We're the agents currently assigned to the X-Files. We recently found out about the disappearance of your partner, Agent Cauthorn, but the report didn't tell us much. We would like to know more." Jacobs stayed silent for a moment after Scully finished speaking. Then his head snapped up, and his eyes blazed with an ancient, never forgotten pain.
"You want to know more. Doesn't everybody? We did. That's what got us into that mess. That's why they took her away from me. We knew too much, got too close. She saw it coming. So did I, but I tried to ignore it, to try to forget it, to pretend it wasn't happening. They took her away from me, and I couldn't do a damned thing about it. She needed me, and I wasn't there. If I had only listened harder, only believed more, I could have saved her. But I didn't. Now she's dead, and it's all my fault. It'll always be my fault." Jacobs stopped, and lapsed into incoherency, the tears rolling down his wrinkled cheeks. As Mulder turned, and started to leave, Jacobs' arm shot out, and grasped Mulder's wrist. "They're out there, Agent Mulder. Never let anyone tell you they're not. I didn't believe, and then I got too close. They _are_ out there." His head fell forward on his chest, and he didn't say anything more as a greatly subdued pair left the small room.
October 16th 1995
As the sun sunk below the horizon, a figure stepped out of the shadows surrounding Rosecrest. Glancing upwards at the lit window directly above, the figure moved towards the ivy covered brick wall, and once again blended into the shadows.
She crouched on the small ledge outside Jacobs' window and listened to the discussion within. The world outside was dark, the room brightly lit. They couldn't see her, but she could see, and hear them. Damn them. They were hurting him, making him relive his pain. How could they force him through that? If anyone, then the man should know better. She saw/felt the pain inside of him, the pain he hid from everyone, but especially from her. Her? What her? The her inside, his partner. The shadow <reached> touched her mind, felt her alone/pain/confusion. This couldn't <won't> go on! They were killing him! They left. He sat alone, staring out the window. But not seeing her. No she wouldn't <couldn't> allow that. Not yet. But soon. The figure began to disappear back into the surrounding <engulfing> shadows, then leaned forwards and pressed her fingers against the window. Goodbye, old friend.
A car started below. Them. They were the seekers now. Go with them, help them? No. They had to find out for themselves. They'd be back to see him again. Wait, then. Now is the time to hunt. The time to quench desire, temporarily stop the endless burning. Time to feed.
April 3rd 1955
Footsteps in the hallway, dear God above, I hear his footsteps in the hallway.
Cauthorn dropped her pen, which rolled off the small table. She ran to her door, barred it. Too late. He was here. She turned, slowly. His eyes drilled into her back, met her own. His burning eyes. Hypnotic eyes.
"Who are you?" She demanded. He just smiled, softly, and held out his hand.
"I have an offer to make."
"What are you talking about? You're the one who's been following me." A statement, not a question.
"You have no idea for how long." Came the reply. "What I offer cannot be bought or sold, and what I ask has no meaning when taken. You will give of your own free will, or not at all."
"What do you want from me?"
"It is not what I want from you, but what I can bring to you. I offer the ultimate prize. Knowledge, power. I can give you everything you've ever dreamed of. The truth is out there, right now just beyond your reach. I can give it to you." He held out his hand to her again, his eyes <hypnotic eyes burning eyes> locked with hers. She placed her hand in his. No! What? What am I doing? Dizzy. His eyes, burning into my head, into my mind. Like the pits of the inferno. Filled with stars, swirling, why can't I scream? His hand on my throat, no mercy in his eyes, such gentle eyes.
He strikes, pain-ecstasy! Heat, fire in my throat, in my mind. Cling to him, my rock, my salvation. Mind reeling, spinning into blackness. Can't see clearly, blurry. Cry out! Shut down the pain, shut out the fear, leave this horror, this world of terror, this world. It's over, I can sleep now. So peaceful here. This is death, the end to all things.
No! Pain, so much, pain racks my body, my mind, convulsing, a bitter smell fills my mouth, blessed heat, must drink to live. All I know is this. Like an animal, base urges, vile lusts. I must drink, consume it all. Body, nerves return to painful, painful life, agony! We are one, I am you, I am all of you, you are me, what have I become?
Don't leave me! Gone, the life-giver, the life-stealer, blessed be the name, what name? I am alone, in this realm of nightmares. A Beast I am...
October 23rd 1995
Due to Eric Jacobs' sudden death on the night of October 17th, and the pronounced lack of any other evidence, Agent Mulder and I have decided to abandon the case of Agent Cauthorn, and once again declare it closed.