Title: Second Skin
Summary: Agent Mulder is kidnapped by a stranger who has an unusual request for him. She wants Mulder to kill her and tells him the reason why - she believes she is a werewolf. But is she?
Late afternoon sun streamed through the window. Fox Mulder woke up. His throat was on fire, his left hand numb. He looked groggily around, not recognizing the apartment he was in. He was sitting on a wooden chair, left hand cuffed to the spindles behind his back, right hand free.
"You finally woke up, G-man," an unfamiliar voice said. He looked up to see a woman, sitting across from him, reloading his gun. She was average height, average build. Dark brown, almost black, eyes and short cut hair contrasted sharply with her pale skin. Dangling from a silver chain around her neck was a jelly opal.
He had seen her at the track several times. She sat in the stands, watching. Today (yesterday?) she had trailed behind him as he left. A timid "Excuse me," had made him turn around. She had shot that chloroformed rag up to his nose almost too fast to track. The last thing he remembered was her standing over him, a tear running down her cheek.
"Who are you? What do you want?" Mulder's voice was hoarse.
The woman put the gun down. She got up and moved to a table across the room. She opened a gallon of water and poured two glasses. There was an intensity about her. She concentrated wholly on her task, showing no hint of emotion. She returned to her seat, offering him one of the glasses. After he took it with his free hand, she downed half of her glass in one swallow. He slowly sipped his. The cool water eased the burning in his throat.
"I have no name now. But who I am is not important," said the soft alto voice. "It's what I want you'll find much more interesting, Agent Mulder. You see, I want you to kill me."
"Excuse me !?"
"You heard me correctly, when the full moon rises tonight, I want you to take your gun and put a bullet through my heart. If you don't, I'll kill you." It was a simple statement of the facts, more of a promise than a threat.
"I don't understand." <Brilliant>, Mulder berated himself, <a strange woman kidnaps you, threatens that if you don't kill her, she'll kill you, and all you can come up with is 'I don't understand!'>
"To understand, Agent Mulder, you'll have to know what I am, and why I chose to reveal myself to you." A grim smile. "There aren't many humans who are willing, or worthy to believe my story. Your devotion to the X-Files and to finding your sister Samantha was what caused me to notice you. Your stance on the paranormal, your willingness to believe, is what made me decide to trust you."
"Who do you work for? Cancerman? X? Who?"
"Agent Mulder, let me assure you that I work for no one, let alone a human. I am a free agent, and a bit of a maverick like yourself."
"Then how do you know so much about me?"
"For now, the fact I do know is sufficient."
"Then why are you doing this?"
The woman sighed. "That is a long story, one no one else has heard and lived. If my calculations are right, I will finish the tale shortly before the moon rises. At that point, you must kill me, or die. There will be no other options. You see, Agent Mulder," she looked into his eyes, another grim smile playing at the corners of her mouth, "I'm a werewolf."
"Werewolf?" That was the last thing he expected her to say.
"Werewolf, loup-garou, shapeshifter, whatever term you prefer."
"As in pentagram dripping blood, only able to be killed by a silver bullet through the heart, shot from the handof one who loves you."
"Agent Mulder, I expected better of you than trite movie cliches." She sounded amused. She leaned towards him. "And it's only partially true about silver, you know. I wear silver jewelry, like this chain all the time. It's only *consecrated* silver that can destroy me. A silver communion cup melted down provided more than enough metal for the task at hand."
"Really." <Keep her talking> Mulder thought. <Look for a weakness. Wait for her to become distracted. Then make you move.>
"Agent Mulder, escape is not possible for you. I have the strength and senses of the wolf. I know what you're planning just by the change in your smell. I can see the tiny changes in your muscles that tell if you plan to lunge at me or sit passively. I can hear the slightest rustle of your clothes as you shift your weight. I will not allow this to play out any other way than I envisioned it. And if I am forced to kill you before the appointed time," she shrugged her shoulders slightly, "so be it. I am patient. I can wait for another who will believe."
<Humor her for the moment> "Okay, let's say I believe your claims," Mulder said aloud. "How did you become a werewolf? And why do you want to be killed."
The last rays of the sun faded. The woman stood up. She turned on two lamps to the low setting, keeping most of the room in shadows. She picked up a bundle from a side table, and carried it back to her chair. She sat down, spreading it out on her lap, stroking it. It was some sort of animal pelt. She bowed her head, deep in contemplation.
After a few moments she spoke. "It began when I received this." She held out the pelt. It was a wolf skin with legs and upper head intact. Claws and fangs gleamed in the dim light, the holes for the eyes staring darkly at Mulder.
"What is it?" Mulder asked.
The look on her face was one of pure rapture. "My second skin," she whispered.
"Where did you get it?"
"I received it in the mail. No return address. No one I asked said they sent it to me. To this day, I don't know why I was chosen." She caressed the skin lovingly, looking into the distance. "I only know that I was."
The woman stood up. She moved in front of Mulder. She started to manipulate the pelt. "The way the skin is constructed, it can be worn, much like a shaman's mask." She pulled the muzzle down over her head. Her hands slipped into the forepaws. Her brown eyes took on a feral gleam as she stared out of the eye holes. She flexed the claws an inch from his face. She removed it. "After this is over, I wouldn't try this if I were you. Wearing the pelt is what started the transformation in myself. In fact, I recommend that you burn it, so my fate doesn't befall some other poor soul."
"Right. After I blow you away, I torch the rug with the attitude to make the world safe."
"You don't believe me." Her voice took on a hard edge. "To you, this is all the ramblings of a madwoman, a psychopath."
"I believe that you believe what you are saying. I believe that you are don't want to hurt anyone, and are scared of what you are feeling. Your losing yourself to the 'wolf' and your 'humanity' is fighting to keep from being swallowed by the 'beast.' "
She threw her head back, laughing until the tears came. "Damn straight, FBI boy. You *are* truly worthy of what I shall impart. And you are intrigued by what I am saying. Despite the situation, the danger, you are fascinated by the very idea of animalistic transformation. You *want* what I have." She bent her head down, inches from his. "But are you willing to pay the price?" She shook her head, sadness and pity in her eyes. "No, the price is too high. Could you live with yourself, the morning after? Are you willing to concentrate on the news, the television, wondering when the news of your latest feast would break? Having vague memories of murder and mayhem, but no sure knowledge. Trying to keep the hunger in check, and..."
Suddenly, she stiffened, twisted around, tilting her head. She looked for a ll the world like a dog listening for her master. She moved to the wall behind her. She pressed her ear against it, listening intensely. A knowing smile spread across her face.
"It's about time they figured out where we are." She looked sweetly at Mulder. "Your partner to the rescue. Scully's with them. They've set up an observation post in the next room. And, unless I miss my guess, they're drilling an observation hole right about... here." She tapped a spot about six feet from the floor on the wall. "We should be receiving a call in about five, four, three, two, one."
The phone rang. The woman walked to the phone. She hit the speaker button. "Hello?"
"This is Special Agent Dana Scully. You are holding a FBI agent hostage. If you surrender yourself and release him unharmed, it will be easier on you."
"Sorry, Scully babe, but surrender is not an option. Agent Mulder's death would be a complication, but a minor one." Her voice grew diamond hard. "I don't mind you watching or listening in, but so much as whisper the word rescue, Mulder is a dead man." She stabbed the disconnect button.
Mulder looked hard at her. "All you've done is bemoan your fate, threaten my life repeatedly, and show me a second rate Halloween costume. You have made veiled references to events, but have given no way to verify them. You have told me nothing. Why are you doing this?"
"Why? Because I am tired. Tired of the killing. Tired of the pain. Tired of the loneliness. I have not had a true friend and companion for many a year. I dare not make friends, for who knows what I'd do to them in my altered state. I can bear no more. I want it to end." The woman looked out the window. "The moon will rise soon. Time is growing short."
"Listen, I can get you help. If you go out that door right now, it can be ended. And you won't have to lose your life in the process."
"My dear Agent Mulder, what makes you think I want to keep my life. Even if there were a cure for my 'affliction', do you think my humanity could live with the murders, the mutilations, my beast committed? I would be a suicide statistic within three hours of my release. Believe me, this is the only way to end it." She picked up the revolver and walked to him. She pressed the gun into his free hand. A tear slid down her cheek. "Please, try to understand." She walked to the window.
The full moon peeked over the horizon. The woman began to tremble and moan. She raised her arms to the moon in worship, pain and bliss on her face. She turned around abruptly, staring at the door. "No," she whispered. "Not now."
Abruptly, the door slammed open. Scully stood there, gun trained on the woman. "Federal Agents! Freeze!"
A look of rage contorted the woman's features. "This is not supposed to happen! I will *not* allow it!" With a scream that sounded more like a roar, she charged Scully.
Bang! The first shot from Scully's gun hit her in the shoulder. She twisted back from the impact, but kept on charging. Bang! The second shot hit her in her in the thigh. She missed a stride, and then kept on coming. She was reaching for Scully, growling madly, hands about to close on Scully's throat.
Bang. The woman fell away from Scully, landing against the wall opposite Mulder. She slid down the wall, reaching for the bullet hole under her armpit. She withdrew the hand covered with blood. "Good shot, G-man. Thank you," she whispered as she hit the floor. Her eyes closed. Mulder lowered his gun.
The back up agents swarmed in. As they freed Mulder, Scully kneeled beside the body, checking for a pulse. She shook her head no.
Mulder sat in his apartment. He was waiting for Scully to arrive. He had been examined, interviewed, and debriefed already, but the case wouldn't feel closed until he could mull it over with her.
There was a quiet knock at the door. "It's me, Mulder," came Scully's voice. He opened the door. There she stood, fresh from completing the autopsy of the woman. Scully walked through the door.
As soon as the door was closed, Scully had her arms around him, holding onto him for dear life. Mulder tilted her chin upwards, and kissed her with open mouth and exploring tongue, trying to reassure her that he was real.
When the kiss ended, he led her to the couch, arms still wrapped around each other. He sat down and pulled Scully down beside him. Scully gradually loosened her grip, looked up at him, and smiled.
"Any new information on our Jane Doe?"
"Her prints came back unmatched. Mulder, that autopsy raised more questions than it answered."
Scully sighed. "The woman you described and the woman I performed the autopsy on were the same person, according to the toe tag. However, you described an average looking brunette with short hair, with no obvious physical defects. I examined a brunette with *shoulder* length hair, larger than normal canines, a nose that looked like it had been broken and pushed back on itself, and fingers that were half the size of what they should have been with three inch nails on them."
"Maybe she was telling the truth."
"Mulder, she was a sick woman. She was delusional, trying to come up with any rationale for her appearance."
"Then how do you account for the differences in out descriptions of her?"
"You said you never got a good look of her in the light." Scully snuggled closer to him. "I don't want to talk about this right now. I just want to enjoy the fact that you came out of this unharmed."
"Okay, case closed." Mulder's head rested against Scully's. <Damn, it's been a long day.> Within seconds he fell asleep, secure that Scully would be there to hold him against the night.
A tall man walked down the maze. He carried a furry bundle under his arm. He tread the aisles like one who had been down this path many times before. He stopped in front of one shelf with several boxes on it. He pulled out the largest of the boxes. Inside, each in its own clear bag, were animal pelts, lions, dogs, tigers, panthers, coyotes,... and wolves. He put the pelt into a baggie, and set it inside with the other skins. He shoved the box back in its place.
As he left the aisle, he lit up a Morely cigarette, a slight smile playing across his face. After all, the experiment had been a success.
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++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ +++ + + When God closes a door, He opens a window - but the hallways are sure dark + + + + You're not going crazy. You're going sane in a crazy world. + + + + The best view of your soul is from the edge of forever + + + + You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. + + - Wayne Gretzky + + + + The strength of the pack is the wolf + + and the strength of the wolf is the pack + + - R. Kipling + + + ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ++