TITLE: Trinity's Children
AUTHOR: devout2David
FEEDBACK: stilldevout2david@yahoo.com
WRITTEN: 2011
CLASSIFICATION: Case File
DISCLAIMER: X-FILES and BLADE name, rank, and cereal box number? NOT MINE! NOTHING affiliated with the series, these characters, etc., etc., etc., yada, yada, yada; is mine. Therefore, Chris Carter, if you read this (or anyone affiliated with the show happens to peruse this piece of fiction), I have but one thing to say: Don't bother to sue me. This is purely for fun (You DO remember fun, don't you??) and not only am I not making a damn cent off of it (Even if I did, I'd donate it to charity anyhow! So there!), I'm too damn poor to really get anything of value from. What's the old saying about getting blood out of a stone? Just call me Rocky!

SUMMARY: This takes place after the episode "3" and two years after Scully has returned to Mulder and the X Files. While investigating the murder of friend's daughter from Scully's past, Mulder's own past comes back to haunt him. RATING: PG-13 (Foul language, graphic descriptions and whatnot. Ya'll know the drill.)

NOTE TO READER: The episode "3" aired in November of 1994. The movie BLADE came out in theaters in August of 1998. This is before Whistler becomes a vampire slave (SEE: BLADE II) and before the demise of Deacon Frost (SEE: BLADE). So, this story takes place somewhere between S4 and S5 for all you hardcore fans out there! Anyhoodles, ENJOY!!

 


PROLOGUE

In the darkness of the city, on a lonely street corner, a lithe figure appeared from the shadows to stand beneath a storefront's overhang.

Barely illuminated by the dim streetlights, the girl shivered in the damp air. Her skimpy dress was soaked clear through and her wet hair framed her face in lanky strands.

"Shit, I should've stayed the fuck home," she mused aloud to herself.

Cold, and growing progressively more agitated; she tried pulling her white leather bolero jacket more closely around her. A vain attempt at best in staving off the cool evening air from chilling her further. She had not seen a 'John' in a while and was beginning to think that this was going to be a slow night for business; a night that she had not had in a long time.

As she ran her French manicured fingernails through her wet locks, a flash of light suddenly caught her attention. The headlights of an approaching car illuminated her briefly as it slowly drew closer to the spot where she had sought shelter. She tried primping her appearance to appear more appealing to the potential customer as the vehicle pulled up to the curb in front of her.

The car, a pearl white Mercedes with gold trim and darkly tinted windows, had her sizing up the vehicle appreciatively. Her heart began to beat a little faster at the thought of this 'John's' wallet filled with bills bigger than simply tens or twenties.

She sidled over to the passenger's side window, trying her best, in spite of her bedraggled appearance, to look seductive and sexy. The smoke-tinted glass slowly descended to reveal an all-white leather interior and a cool green glow emanating from the dashboard. Music beat a slow, steady rhythm from the car's stereo system, but the song that played was not anything she recognized. It sounded like club music but she couldn't be sure.

She leaned forward, displaying a sample of her 'assets' and gave the driver a dazzling smile. "Looking for a date?" she purred seductively.

A smooth male voice answered back. "Maybe. Get in and we'll talk more about it."

She straightened and reached out for the door handle, but before she could lift the latch itself, the door swung wide. She took a surprised step backwards, hesitating for a second. The car door seemed to have opened of its own accord. She was impressed by what she thought was some form of hi-tech gadgetry and slipped gratefully into the car's passenger side.

Good! She thought to herself excitedly. A guy with a hot car like this had to be rolling in money! This could prove to be a good night for her after all.

Inside, the car was warm, quite the change from the elements outside. As her eyes adjusted to the dim interior lights, she could now see more of the driver's face.

He was handsome, about twenty-something, and dressed in a suit of an expensive silk-like fabric that seemed to gleam in the dim lights.

"So," she turned to him and smiled. "Where would you like to go?"

"What's wrong with staying right here?" he growled softly at her.

"Whatever your pleasure, baby,'' she purred at him as she inched her way closer to him; touching his leg. "I just figured you would've had a nicer spot in mind that was a bit. . . softer. . . maybe a bit. . . warmer? With a little room service thrown in for good measure?"

He grinned at her. "I prefer to stay right here," he said.

Suddenly, before she could even grasp what was actually happening, he reached out and grabbed her roughly by her wrist; stilling her hand from creeping any further up his thigh. His fingers dug deep into her flesh as he grabbed her by the jaw with his free hand, pushing her head back against the headrest of the seat. His weight shifted and she found herself pinned down unable to move.

"This type of foreplay isn't what I had in mind," she said, nervously, fear edged in her voice. As he looked at her, she could see that his eyes were green but an odd shade of which she had never seen before. As she looked, she found herself hypnotized by his eyes' strange color, then feeling suddenly as though she were falling into their depths.

As she stared into those two hypnotic pools, he slowly drew her face closer to his, moving in closely as if to kiss her. Suddenly he changed his direction and angled downwards towards her neck.

His tongue danced so fleetingly on her wet skin, she wondered if she truly felt the sensation of it at all. She relaxed a little, her body settling back into the leather seat. The tension she had felt earlier at his rough handling loosened her resolve ever so slightly. Yet, he still had not eased his tight grip on her wrist nor eased off her with his body's weight.

When he brought his mouth back to hers, she noticed how his lips lacked even an ounce of warmth. Maybe he had been standing outside too, she wondered, hoping they would warm up quickly. However, as he deepened his kiss, it felt to her as though he was trying to swallow her whole.

Sensing her need for a breath of air, he slowly moved his mouth back to her neck once more. She gasped aloud, disguising it as a sigh of pleasure. She did not want him to know that he may have just inadvertently tried to suffocate her with his kiss.

Without a second glance, and masked in her own feelings of passion, she saw a glint of white from between his cold lips. In her desire, she paid no attention; little realizing his mouth was widening to reveal the full set of dangerous looking teeth. In a blink of an eye, he delved the pair of ivory white fangs hungrily into her tender flesh.

Feeling as if she had been stabbed with dual syringes, the pain she felt on her neck instantly broke the romantic spell he had cast upon her and she cried out in protest.

"OW! Motherfucker! What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Too late to react and too slow to realize that his grip on her had just turned into something deadly, she tried to break free of his hold, but his strength was unmatched and her struggle to escape fast became an act of desperate survival. He barely noticed her struggling in vain to pull away from him, protesting over and over: "GET OFF OF ME!"

A tiny trail of blood began to trickle down onto her rain-dampened dress, spreading slowly across the fabric. What was once pristine white was now stained crimson beneath the collar of her jacket.

"Aaahhh-ooowwww!!...of...get off...off of...me..."

She continued with all of her strength to break free of him and had almost succeeded when she managed to grab a handful of his hair. She pulled on it with all of her might, but the act affected him little and with lightning speed, he pounced atop her once more, again using his full body weight to keep her from moving any further.

Tears began to flow from her eyes as she realized who and what he was. She knew now that his intentions were to take her life but mentally she refused to give up. Her will to fight became more determined. She continued to beg him to stop, but in one swift move, he plunged his triumphant fangs deeper into her tender flesh and the flow of blood increased dramatically. Trickles become rivulets and her once white dress was now completely dyed crimson.

With one final effort in order to survive, she managed breath enough to speak. "Please...don't..."

It was all she could manage in a barely audible whisper. Her words were lost on her attacker as he continued to drain her of the precious liquid that coursed through her veins; her life was slowly ebbing away.

Though her vision was fading and her heartbeat was slowing, she still did not want to give up her fight to live. Nevertheless, she knew as her strength was leaving her that she could not win this fight and soon her body slackened on the seat and she let escape one final breath as her life came to its end.

He held her body tightly for several moments afterward until he was sure she was dead then eased her cautiously away. He reached into his jacket's inside pocket, removed a linen handkerchief and used it to wipe the last droplets of her blood from his mouth.

Still, he eyed her with wariness, unsure if she had truly expired. He had had victims play possum on him before in the past and he did not wish to take a chance that she was play that game, too. However, after a while it became obvious she truly was dead. He gave her one more glance before settling back into the driver's seat and putting the vehicle into gear. He pulled away from the curb and sped down the empty street. Curving the car around a corner as though it were on rails, he headed into the hills just outside the city's limits.

He drove for a while until he found a secluded wooded area, miles away from the spot where he had first picked her up, and pulled over. Once parked, he proceeded to drag the girl's body out of the car and dumped it unceremoniously onto the ground into a tall thicket of brush and weeds.

Gazing down upon the girl's lifeless corpse, he pondered her haphazard position; legs askew, arms bent unnaturally beneath her, unseeing eyes staring directly into the dirt. He bent down to readjust her appendages. Flipping her onto her back, he pulled her legs straight and primly placed them together. He then crossed her arms atop her chest and closed her eyelids, giving her the appearance of a sleeping angel. His task finished, he rose to his feet, blew her a final kiss 'goodbye' and walked back to his car. A light drizzle began to fall as he got in and drove away.

Left alone to bear the full brunt of the elements and whatever nocturnal creatures that happened by her, the girl's corpse succumbed to the night as the rain pelted her body, washing her clean and leaving no trace of her encounter with the vampire that had taken her young life away.


CHAPTER ONE

WASHINGTON D.C.
J. Edgar Hoover Building Basement level
8:47 am, June 8, 1997

In the quiet of the subterranean level beneath the busy floors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's offices, Fox Mulder at at his desk daydreaming. Twiddling a pencil between his long, nimble fingers, he sat there trying to lose himself in his own world of thought. He wanted any sort of distraction to keep from tackling the pile of case files stacked on the corner of his desk.

He knew he had reports to write on all of them and he also knew that he had put off doing so for far too long to the point that he now dreaded even giving this stack of paperwork the slightest glance. Nevertheless, the time had come where he simply could not avoid them any longer and with a heavy sigh of defeat, he grabbed the first file from the top of the stack and opened it up.

The door to his office suddenly swung open, startling him from his thoughts.

His partner, Dana Scully, entered carrying two Styrofoam cups; a small white bakery bag was gripped tightly between her teeth and she was desperately attempting to keep not only her purse from slipping off her shoulder but also her briefcase from slipping out of her grasp. Her purse, having a mind of its own, decided to slide off her thin shoulder, much to her dismay.

Mulder was amused at the scene before him and jumped out of his chair, making his way around the desk to help her.

"It's okay," she replied, between gritted teeth. "I've got it."

She let the purse slide the rest of the way down off her arm and onto the chair.

Carefully she set the coffee cups down and spat the bag out of her mouth and onto her desk. She then let the briefcase fall down on the floor with a dull thud.

"Here," she said, shoving at him one of the Styrofoam cups.

He took it, stood there watching her, taking a quiet sip from his cup until she glanced up at him as she arranged her things.

"You can help yourself to the pastries," she told him. "You don't have to wait for me."

"Ladies get first choice," he said, giving her a little bow.

She pursed her lips a little and mumbled: "Fine." She dove into the bag and pulled out a gooey-looking confection. She laid a napkin down and placed the pastry on it. Licking the sugar off her fingers, she turned to him then and tossed the bag at him. "Hope you like vanilla cream," she said, with a Cheshire smile.

"Chocolate would have been heavenly..." he said, but quickly added, "but beggars can't be choosers."

Still smiling, she took another bite of her pastry. "Bon Appetit," she said and settled herself down at the desk.

He took his breakfast and went back to his desk and the mountain of work awaiting him there.

She interrupted his train of thought once more. "Did you get any new cases today?" she asked curiously.

He shook his head. "Nope," he said, and then took a bite of his sugary-filled cake.

"Hmm," she murmured. "That's a switch."

"Oh?" he asked.

She blushed. "Well, I just mean, there's always something... at least one case that we could be working on."

That made him smile. He received a slight pleasure from seeing her suddenly unsure of herself. "Anxious to jump back in the saddle again?" he teased a little.

She nodded, a little embarrassed. "I guess I've been convalescing for too long," she sighed. "I can only rearrange my clothes closet so many times before a date with my Visa card seems like a really good idea."

He gave her a lopsided smile. "I'm sure something will present itself soon," he said, reassuringly.

"The sooner the better," she murmured, more to herself than to him, but he still heard her.

"Well, if you're bored, grab a couple of these files off my desk and help me write some of these reports."

She snorted out a laugh. "Mulder, while I would do anything to help you in any given situation, life threatening or not, let me just say that writing reports on files that you have purposefully left pile up on your desk is not my idea of a good productive day at work."

"So, what are you saying?" he said, feigning ignorance as he took a bite of his donut. "Don't tell me you gained a bad case of writer's cramp while you were 'convalescing', did you say?"

She was about to tell him what she truly thought but the phone interrupted her before she could utter another word.

He reached for it gingerly with two fingers to keep from getting any powdered sugar all over the receiver. He swallowed quickly, almost choking and coughed into the phone. "Mulder..."

A pause ensued as he listened to the caller on the other end for a moment, glancing towards his partner as he did.

"Ah, yeah, she's right here. Hold on," he said and motioned her to pick up the phone.

She gave him a strange look as she took the receiver from him. She had no idea who would be calling her at this time of day, or indeed who knew she was even back at work. Her mind wondered furiously at the possibilities because it had been a while since she had even been in the office, let alone spoken to anyone on that phone. However, she was left with nothing but empty guesses of friend or fore as she said, 'Scully' into the receiver questioningly.

He watched her closely while she talked. The caller would only identified herself by the name of Jacqueline. He popped the last bite of pastry into his mouth, washing it down with a quick swig of coffee.

"Oh, Jackie, I am SO sorry to hear that," she frowned, shaking her head sympathetically. "I'll try to catch the next flight out. But in the meantime, if there's anything I can do..." She hung up, slowly, still wearing her troubled frown. Without a word, she went back to her own coffee and pastry.

"Everything okay?" He asked after a moment or two.

"Not really," she said, sadly. "That was a friend of mine, Jacqueline Buchanan. She was calling to tell me that her daughter's body was found yesterday morning just outside of Los Angeles."

He felt a sudden chill run down his spine at the mention of the City of Angels. "I'm sorry to hear that," he said with genuine sympathy.

"I've known Jacqueline since my college days," she said. "We interned at the same hospital together. I haven't seen her much in the years since graduation but we've tried to keep in touch as much as possible, but..." She was silent for a moment then continued: "We've grown apart a little, though, over the last few years as she's married and raising a family and I've been busy with my own career. I'm just ... I'm just sorry to hear from her under these circumstances."

Mulder wasn't quite sure of what to say. The word sorry just seemed so generic as that was what everyone said, but he said it anyway. "I'm sorry, Scully."

She gave him a small smile. "Thank you."

"Did she say how her daughter died?"

"Yes, but it's all very odd," she said. "The police report stated her daughter's body seemed to be devoid of blood, that is to say that it was drained of every last drop."

"Drained?" Mulder perked up. "Drained how?"

"She didn't go into the specifics, Mulder." "Did she say anything about an autopsy having been performed?"

She nodded. "There was one just this morning," she said, "that's why she was calling me. Based on the coroner's findings, she's requesting that a second autopsy be performed and she would like me to handle it personally... as a favor to her and her family."

Mulder looked at her, a bit alarmed. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"No," she said, with a sigh, then gave him a stern look. "I know what you're going to say, Mulder. I know I'm too close to this because she's my friend. But there's something about this that doesn't seem quite right. The human body does not lose blood for no reason and certainly not without evidence of a cause for the blood loss. Besides, if this had been my child, I would want better answers to my questions, too."

"Can't blame her for that," he said, then asked. "How old was the daughter?"

"Sixteen."

He whistled. "She WAS young."

"TOO young," Scully replied and paused to take a sip of her coffee.

"We should get a copy of the coroner's report," he pointed out gently. "I'm curious to know what the coroner said about the unexplained blood loss."

"Yes," she said. "I'll call and get the information. I also want to get the name of the officer who's assigned to this case. I'll ask for a copy of the police report and see if that can be faxed to us as well."

Mulder sat back in his chair; hands clasped behind his head, and contemplated the potential of this being an x-files case. A thought that suddenly popped into his mind stirred up some troubling memories that he had tried to forget and the one person he was trying to forget most: Kristen Kilar.

Her name reminded him of that dark time three years ago in November of 1994. The memory of his feelings of loss and despair had been so strong that even now his heart panged at the thought. Scully's disappearance had scarred his heart forever and the mark it had left had forced him to re-examine himself and his feelings for her.

Was there more to this than a simple innocent affection for his partner? On the other hand, was it perhaps something much deeper? He wasn't sure then or now. He just knew that he had had more than enough time on his hands to think about this and had come to the realization that it was indeed possible for him to feel a certain level of love towards Scully. Whether or not it was real or simply a schoolboy's crush, well, the jury was still out on that one. Nevertheless, he felt that there was a genuine affection for her that was quite a bit more than just a passing flirtation.

He had snorted in disgusted amusement at himself just then, thinking of how a grown man like himself could act like such a silly, love- struck adolescent. Would it be so funny to him if it were not so tragically true? He glanced over at her as she spoke on the telephone.

Her body language was that of a true professional, but the soft subtle movements of her hand as she scribbled notes on her tablet, the way her fingers held the pen and the way her hair brushed against her cheek as she spoke made him feel slightly voyeuristic. He pushed sudden erotic thoughts about her out of his mind quickly when she suddenly glanced over at him. He tried to hide his embarrassment at having been caught in the act of staring at her. She gave him a funny look, which made him try to save face and pretend he had been simply stretching or something. She went back to scribbling on her notepad.

"Okay," she said as she hung up the phone. "The LAPD is going to fax us the information we need within the next half hour, and I talked with the officer assigned to the case," she checked her notes briefly and resumed. "I spoke with an Officer Frank Delameco and he said he'd call me back in an hour after some meeting he has to attend. But--"

"--In the meantime, we'll wait for the reports," Mulder interrupted, finishing the end of her sentence for her.

"He said he's confused by Andrea's death as he's never come across a murder like this before," she replied.

"So, he thinks she was murdered?" Mulder asked.

"Apparently," she answered. "However, I'm not willing to make such a determination until I've seen what's written in their reports. Once we receive them and have gone through them then we'll see what we can see."

She let Mulder know what else Officer Delameco had said in their conversation. The officer had hinted slightly to her that he didn't know what to do with the evidence they had found and was glad for the extra input from an outside agency, even if it was the F.B.I.


Two hours later, Scully let out a frustrated breath and stood up to stretch her back. The chair in front of Mulder's desk was made of the most uncomfortable hardwood she had ever felt. Sadly, she had forgotten this when she sat down and was now reminded of how much she hated it.

The chair had been an answer to her complaint that when she came into Mulder's office there was no place for her to sit own. He had managed to steal it from somewhere within the building and had presented it to her with a crooked smile one morning.

Though touched as she may have been by his gesture, she realized very quickly the chair disagreed very harshly with her backside.

"This makes no sense to me whatsoever," she finally said, and tossed the autopsy report atop the desk in frustration, the action startled him and she quickly apologized. "Sorry".

"Well, the police report seems to be pretty thorough," he said, leaning back in his chair.

She began to pace around the office as she spoke. "No stab wounds or bullet holes anywhere on the body. No distinguishable marks at all except for two small unidentifiable puncture marks on her neck just a few centimeters from the shoulder. The coroner said they looked like some sort of bite mark to her; possibly from a snake," she snorted. "I think this coroner has been staying up one too many late nights watching old horror movies."

He cleared his throat then and said, "I don't know, Scully, she may be on to something."

She stopped to throw him a disbelieving glance. "You can't be serious."

"Well, you know, there have been some unsubstantiated reports of a cult of vampires living in and around the Los Angeles area, specific- -ally in the Hollywood Hills section of the city."

"Mulder," she said tersely. "There are no such things as vampires."

"I wouldn't be too sure of that since you know that in some cultures the drinking of blood is still done. I would also like to point out that vampirism, while associated closely with the occult and Satan- -ism, is a very real religion," he said, smiling at her overt skepticism.

He stood and walked over to a file cabinet and opened a middle drawer, searching. It would now be his job to prove Scully wrong and boy did he ever enjoy performing the dance of his believer against her sceptic.

Finding what he needed, he pulled out a case file and laid it on the desk, searching inside it. "And while there are people who believe they truly exist and also practice this religion rather actively, there are also people who still believe the old standbys of killing them by the old wooden stake through the heart."

"Mulder, anyone can be killed simply by driving a stake through their heart," she said, tersely. "That's a no brainer."

He paused before continuing, saying with a teasing lilt, "Don't you ever remember hearing the nuns at Catholic school saying to you that 'the Devil is always with us and that He takes many forms'?"

She made a sour face at him as her memories of her Catholic school years flashed in her mind and disappeared just as quickly. "Sure, but that doesn't mean I believe in the existence of vampires."

"Ever Miss Scepticism," He smirked a little. "I've been telling you all along, Scully, that seeing is believing."

"Well, just because I see it does not mean I'll always believe it," she reasoned.

"Believe, Scully, just believe," he said, a hint of mirth in his voice.

She rolled her eyes at him and went back to her desk. Picking up the autopsy report once more, she frowned. He watched her as she scrutinized the report again.

"So, what time is your flight?" he asked, finally breaking the quiet.

"Tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m. Barring any major layovers, I should be in L.A. no later than 2 p.m. our time."

"Maybe," he said, weakly.

Another uncomfortable silence stretched before them.

"Are you going to attend the funeral, too?" he asked her finally.

She looked up at him and nodded. "Well, yes," she said, a slight tension in her voice. "I have to pay my respects."

"Then I'll get the paperwork cleaned up here so we won't have to worry about it when we get back," he offered.

She cocked an eyebrow at him. WE? She wanted to say. Who said anything about you going? "You don't have to come Mulder," she said finally. "I mean, it's not really necessary for you to accompany me to the funeral."

He felt a little hurt by her remark and he asked, "You don't want me to go with you?"

She shrugged, trying to hide her discomfort. While it wasn't in her nature to jump at the chance of a chaperone since she didn't want to appear overly needy in any way she also didn't want to be alone right now. Her inner conflict raged as she listened to Mulder

"I promise I'll be good," he teased, trying to lighten her dark mood.

She regarded him for a moment then lamented aloud. "Fine."

"What's wrong? Afraid they'll think you brought a date?" he teased.

She blushed slightly. "No, of course not," she said unamused. "I just don't think a funeral is the appropriate place to discuss vampirism or any other such...theories in front of my grieving friend or her family."

He felt insulted but choose to feign mock horror at her. "I'm shocked, Agent Scully, that you would think me so lowly as to embarrass you in any such way."

"Knock it off, Mulder, I'm serious," she frowned.

"So am I," he said.

She remained silently unconvinced.

"Look, I'm just going along to offer whatever help I can to the investigation of the girl's death. Besides..." he paused as he turned and picked up the report off his desk and shook it slightly. "I think it's worth investigating."

She sighed. 'That's what I was afraid you were going to say.' She thought to herself silently.


CHAPTER TWO

Los Angeles County Coroner's office
LOS ANGELES, CA.
June 9, 1997 4:30 p.m.

Their footsteps reverberated off the cement walls as they walked down the long, cool hallway towards the morgue. The tip-tap of Scully's heels on the linoleum beat out their own steady rhythm to Mulder's quieter and much longer strides.

As they approached the double wooden doors, he took two steps ahead of her to open them so she did not break her stride. Just inside the vast sterile room, they stopped and looked around for the coroner.

"Hello?" Scully called out, her voice echoing around the large room.

"Be right there!" came the quick reply.

A short rather stout woman with a graying crew cut appeared from the direction of the freezers. She wore small black glasses and was removing her latex gloves, which she tossed into a nearby garbage can as she approached them both.

"Ah, you must be Agents Mulder and Scully," she said, as she extended her hand to them. "Hello, I'm Agnes Devereux, County Coroner. Pleased to meet you."

"Likewise," Mulder answered, shaking the woman's cool hand.

"Well, now that the pleasantries have been taken care of, I assume you'd like to view the body?" Agnes asked.

Scully nodded, "Yes, I--we would."

"This way then," Agnes said and directed them to an examination room off to the right from where they stood.

They entered the room where the sheet-covered body lay before them.

Agnes turned to face them with a frown and said, "I don't claim to understand the family's wish to have the body re-examined, but then again it's not my call. I do, however, ask that you share whatever you find with me. Although I must say that I've been doing this job for a number of years and to write down on my report what it is I really think happened could cost me my job."

"I don't claim to understand the family's wish to have the body re-examined, but then again it's not my call. I do, however, ask that you share whatever you find with me. Although I must say that I've been doing this job for a number of years and to write down on my report what it is I really think happened could cost me my job."

"What do you think happened, Ms. Devereux?" Mulder asked.

She blinked once and then replied in serious tone. "It's too far- fetched for me to even repeat at this point. I'll keep my opinions to myself until you're through with your examination, if you don't mind."

"Fair enough," Mulder replied before Scully could even answer.

"The body is already prepped and ready to go, Miss Scully," Agnes said, and then pointed over to a door. "Extra scrubs are in the linen closet there. I'm sure there's a size for you, if not, let me know and I'll lend you a set of mine."

"Thank you, I appreciate that," she answered back with a polite nod of her head.

"If you need me, I'll be in my office," Agnes said and promptly left the room.

After she had changed her clothes, Scully got down to work. Mulder stood back out of the way and quietly observed her as she worked.

Mulder marveled at Scully's meticulousness to detail and the gentle- -ness in which she handled the girl's body. She was careful as she held up the girl's hands to take fingernail samples. Mulder turned his head away when she began to swab the girl's genital area. Skin samples were removed in discreet places, as were the other tissue samples she needed. He did his part to help by taking close photo- -graphs of the body when she directed him to.

Her voice, as she made her report with the overhead microphone, wavered slightly in the beginning but evened out as she went on. He could tell from with the slight change in her tone that this whole thing was affecting her much more than she was willing to admit.

After a few hours, Scully finally drew the sheet back over the girl's body and pulled off her latex gloves with a loud snap.

"Okay", she sighed. "I'll get these samples sent back to Washington and we'll see what kind of results we get. There's a Dr Farber at Quantico who owes me a big favor, he should be able to get a rush on the results for us." She closed her eyes, leaned her head back and did a few neck rolls.

Mulder walked over to her, with a raise of his eyebrows, and made a motion with his hands, silently asking if she needed a massage. When she nodded her head slightly, he began. "So, did you see anything out of the ordinary?" he asked as he worked into her sore shoulders.

"Just the two small puncture wounds on her neck," she answered and cringed as he hit the spot of knotted muscles in her left shoulder. She hissed inwardly.

"Sorry," he answered and applied less pressure to the area. She relaxed once more.

"Do they look like they could be bite marks?" Mulder tested her.

She moved away from him. "It's possible, Mulder, but I highly doubt it. I found a couple of track marks on her arm so the marks on her neck could very well be the same thing," she said.

"It would have to be one big needle Scully," he said incredulously and with a smirk knowing that needle puncture wounds and fang marks looked nothing alike but sensing her irritation at his comments he acquiesced for the time being with her drug theory and finally asked. "But why the neck? Why would someone inject drugs into her that way?"

"I don't know but the presence of the marks on her arm leads me to believe that she may have died from possible drug use. She may have nicked an artery and bled out that way but we won't know for sure until the test results come back from the lab," she said.

"I find such a thing highly unlikely but never underestimate a person's desire to shoot up."


CHAPTER THREE

HOLY TRINITY CEMETERY
June 11, 1997 10:23 a.m.

The sunshine was unusually warm for so early in the morning and as the sun rose higher in the sky, Mulder could feel the sweat trickling down his spine to the band of his underwear. He had wisely left his black trench coat in the car but the dark blue suit he was wearing was not helping. He had forgotten how much California weather could change in an instant at this time of year but he still loved the warm climate much better than cold.

Mulder looked down at the service program in his hand with a picture of the dead girl on the cover and read:

** ANDREA MARIE BUCHANAN ** BORN MARCH 25, 1981 ** DIED June 6, 1997 **

The words of Psalm 23 were printed directly underneath her picture.

'What a shame' Mulder thought.

The memorial service for the girl was crowded with young people; mostly high school students. Nevertheless, the sheer number of them had surprised Mulder the most. Teenagers seemed to be crammed in as close as they could get to the burial site.

She must have been the most popular girl in school, Mulder thought.

Among the crowd, he noticed that boys outnumbered the girls by a margin of 3 to 1. He made a mental note of the tally for future reference to casually mention to Scully when he next saw her.

She had disappeared quickly not long after they had arrived and it was only at the gravesite that he finally caught a glimpse of her bright red hair. She was standing directly behind the mother of the deceased girl, her hand comforting on the woman's shoulder

As the service began, Mulder moved his way towards the back of the crowd of mourners. Not having known the girl personally, he felt a bit out of place. With hands jammed deep into the pants pocket of his suit, he wandered amongst the other graves nearby and inhaled the smells of late spring and freshly cut grass.

As he stepped carefully over the graves, a sudden feeling of being watched made him look up just in time to see a flurry of black disappearing behind a large headstone. Curious, as always, he went to investigate further.

As he neared a large granite monument, a teenaged girl with stringy blonde hair, appeared right in front of him. There was a hint of guilt etched in her face, as she knew he had seen her trying to hide.

Rather than embarrass the girl further, Mulder decided to try a friendlier approach. "Hi," he said casually.

There was no reply to his salutation.

"Are you okay?" he asked showing genuine concern.

The girl shook her head and dug into her purse. She pulled out a cigarette, a book of matches and lit up.

"I don't like these things much," she said, nodding over at the crowd of black-clad mourners as she took a drag.

"The cigarettes or the funeral?" Mulder quipped.

She rolled her eyes at him impatiently. "The funeral, of course. What else?"

"Yeah, me neither," he said making a sour looking face.

A tense pause followed before he turned to the girl extending his hand to her. His action made her jump. "Hi, I'm Fox Mulder," he said.

The girl regarded his open palm for a moment. "Jen Barnard," she said, as she slowly shook his proffered hand.

"Did you know her well?" he decided to ask her, carefully fishing for information.

The girl fidgeted slightly searching in her purse again nervously. "We went to school together."

"Really? What grade?" Mulder asked, trying to sound casual.

"Senior class," came her quick reply.

Mulder nodded in acknowledgment and turned to glance back at the service still going on. When he turned back to face the girl again, he saw her walking away. "Was it something I said?" he joked as he called after her.

"I gotta go."

"Wait, I'd like to talk to you more," he started to walk after her.

"No," she said over her shoulder as she kept walking.

"Well, can I ask you a few questions?" he said as his long legs quickly caught up to her.

"Why?" she asked, trying to walk away from him even faster.

"I just want to ask you some things about her, like, if you know how she died and ..."

The girl stopped dead in her tracks and whirled around to face him with an exhale of cigarette smoke in his face. He took a step back from her and waved the offensive smoke away with a small cough.

"Hey, don't you know second hand smoke kills more people than actual smoking does?" His remark went unnoticed as she took another drag.

"Look, I don't know anything about her death and I don't know anything about her other than what's been said around school," she told him flatly as she exhaled again.

"Like what? What was said about her? I'd like to know," he said gently, not trying to push her too much.

Her nervousness made him think she was interested in talking to someone but that she was probably unsure about trusting him.

"Are you a cop?" she asked defiantly, stick her chin in his face.

"Do you consider an FBI agent a cop?" he posed to her.

She wasn't buying it. "You're no FBI agent."

"Sure I am," he said, defensively.

"I don't think so," she smirked at him.

"What makes you say that?" Mulder asked.

She took another drag of her cigarette, looked him up and down and blew the smoke out in his direction once again. "Because you're too geeky-lookin' to be an FBI agent," she said matter-of-factly.

Her remark made him laugh aloud. He pulled out his badge and showed it to her.

She scowled at him. "Look," she said, "I don't have to answer your questions. You can't arrest me and so there's no point in talking to me anymore, so, just leave me alone." She turned to leave.

"Actually," he said, "I could hold you as a person of interest or until you do answer my questions, so, why not just make it a little easier for us both and just cut me a break here?" he said a little too tersely. He knew that what he had said was a blatant fabrication; there was no such legislation to hold her here, but he was counting on her naivety of law enforcement policy.

A sigh from her suddenly made Mulder feel a little more hopeful about getting a solid lead and as she turned around one last time, he felt sure he would get out of her what he needed.

"Fine," she said, "but not here. It's too open and I don't want anyone seeing me talking to you."

"That's okay by me," he said and led her over to where their rental car sat under a shaded tree.

As they got in, Jennifer started to light up another cigarette.

"Ah, I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't do that," Mulder cautioned.

In defiance, she rolled down the window. "Better?" she asked him sarcastically.

Mulder lamented to her action with a shrug. "I'm just hoping my partner doesn't complain," he mumbled.

"You have a partner?" she asked.

Mulder nodded.

"So, what are you, gay or something? Where is he?" she asked him, looking around.

"SHE," Mulder corrected, jerking a thumb in the direction of the service, "is standing over there with the family."

Jennifer blanched at him. "She, huh?" she blew out another line of smoke.

"Yeah," was all Mulder could really say. "So, tell me what you know about Andrea."

Jennifer looked out the window with a sigh. "I know she was really popular with the boys," she paused for a moment, "Especially with the older boys."

"Popular in what way?" he asked. "You mean she was friendly."

"Yeah," Jennifer shrugged, "she was really friendly... and the boys were really friendly with her too. Rumor has it she and some of the members of the football team partied a couple of times."

Mulder shrugged, confused.

"... And she was the only girl there, get it?" Jennifer said.

"So, you're saying she was promiscuous." Mulder asked.

Jennifer smirked, "She was a little more than that, Agent Mulder. Andrea liked sex and she didn't care who she got it from. Another rumor around school was she was turning tricks to not only get laid but also earn money to keep up the appearance she had of being a rich girl from Beverly Hills."

"She wasn't from Beverly Hills?" Mulder asked, innocently.

Jennifer laughed aloud. "Yeah, right, and I'm Anna Nicole Smith. Andrea was always trying to show off in these designer clothes. She kept trying to make it look like she had the money to afford them when actually she got them from some neighbor who worked as a housekeeper for this woman who actually wore the clothes. The neighbor got first pick when the stuff went out of season or out of fashion and what she couldn't wear, she gave to Andrea's mom to give to Andrea. Pretty pathetic if you ask me."

"I wouldn't know," Mulder said.

"Trust me, it is pathetic."

"But from what I understand, the Buchanan family wasn't exactly poor, though," Mulder pointed out.

"No, but she doesn't exactly have money coming out of her ass either." Jennifer paused and finished off her cigarette, flicking it out the window into the grass. "Not everybody can afford Prada or Gucci or even Yves Saint Laurent. Get it?"

"So then," Mulder asked, changing the subject. "These guys at school think she's hot and rich and decide to find out, is that what you're saying?"

"Not exactly," Jennifer said, shaking her head, "She dated this guy, Troy Butters, a football player, for, like, two years and he was head over heels in love with her. Wanted to marry her after high school and all that but she broke it off just before junior prom last year over her 'secret life'. He had found out she was turning tricks down by the warehouse district. It's a pretty tough place to be if you aren't street smart."

"Okay, so, Troy finds out the love of his life is a prostitute and confronts her. She doesn't like it and tells him to get lost. Makes sense to me." Mulder theorized.

"It's not a joke!" Jennifer said with a frown, "Troy really loved her."

"I wasn't joking," Mulder said, then asked bluntly, "Do you know Troy too?"

Jennifer was taken back by the question. "I-I know who he is..."

"Is he here today?" He asked her, pointedly.

"Why do you want to know?" she asked, her voice quivering with anxiety now.

"Because I'd like to talk with him if he's convenient," Mulder said and started to get out of the car.

Jennifer grabbed him by the arm, stopping him. "Don't tell him you've talked to me," she begged. "Please."

Mulder looked at her and saw the fear in her eyes. "I won't."

"Thanks."

Mulder exited the car then leaned inside, pretending to get something. "Can you point him out to me?" he asked her.

She nodded and pointed towards the dispersing crowd as the service had concluded. "He's the tallest guy in the crowd. Blonde hair and wearing a dark brown Armani suit with a burgundy tie. You'll know him when you see him," she said and turned to leave the vehicle.

"Hey!" Mulder called after her as she slammed the door shut. "If I need to get in touch with you again, where can I reach you?"

She looked away uncomfortably then reached into her purse and pulled out a pen and a mini paper tablet. She scribbled something then tore the piece of pink paper from the pad, folded it and handed it to him.

"My cell number is on there. If you can't reach me, leave a message on my voice mail and I'll call you back."

She looked over at the gravesite once more then before Mulder could ask any other questions; she quickly disappeared amongst the granite headstones.

Mulder, with the slip of paper jammed into his pants pocket, headed back towards the now dispersing crowd. His long legged strides brought him to Scully's side in a matter of seconds. She looked up at him in surprise; her eyes still glistened with unshed tears.

"Where did you go?" she asked.

He shrugged. "Oh, I was around," he said. "I had a little chat with one of Andrea's former classmates."

"Oh?" she queried. "Find out anything interesting?"

He nodded then with a gentle tug at her arm, guided her away and out of earshot from the other people before answering her question. "Well, she gave me a bit of insight into what appears to be Andrea's secret life."

"Secret life?" Scully frowned. "What secret life? I-I don't understand."

Mulder took a deep breath. "I don't know exactly how to say this to you without the shock value attached to it but..." he faltered, mindful of the fact that this was one of her first cases back at work on the X-files. He wanted her to feel that although he felt she was ready for it he also wanted to make sure that he wasn't pushing her into anything too difficult too soon.

"Mulder, just say it," she said impatiently.

Mulder looked at her directly and said: "From the information she told me, it seems Andrea may have been going to school by day and prostituting herself at night."

Scully blinked at him, stunned by his words. "SHE? So, your informant is a female student?"

"Yeah," he confirmed cautiously. "Why? Does this make a difference?"

"No, no," she backtracked her concern for the moment.

Mulder continued to explain: "Andrea was not only prostituting herself but it seems to be that she got her start with some of her classmates. Including but not limited to the players of the high school football team."

"I can't believe that..." Scully said, "Mulder, that could all be hearsay. Idle gossip generated by jealous teenage girls who are simply displaying animosity towards a girl who might seem a little prettier than they are and can talk to the boys more easily than they can. My sister, Melissa, always had the boys flocking to her because she had a gift of putting them at ease. Andrea was probably the same way so this girl could be a member of some jealous clique. A rumor monger who is simply looking for attention to try and make Andrea out to be something..."

"Perhaps, but I don't think so," he interrupted her. "There's a boyfriend here; a guy by the name of Troy Butters. Jennifer said they dated steadily for about two years before Andrea broke it off. Apparently, Troy had found out about Andrea's sexual activities and confronted her about it. Andrea didn't like what he had to say and told him to hit the bricks."

Scully was silent.

Mulder put his hand gently on her shoulder. "Are you okay?"

She shook her head. "I just don't know what to say. All I can remember of Andrea is this sweet adorable little girl with bright blonde hair, who used to play with her Barbie dolls and who used to beg me to take her to the zoo." She walked over to a granite garden bench and sat down.

Mulder followed and sat down beside her. "I'm sorry, Scully, I know this is hard for you," he said.

She remained silent. She avoided his concern. She had started this case feeling up to the challenge and well enough to be there and that would be the way she would continue it.

"Maybe you shouldn't be doing this..." he began.

She smiled warmly but briefly at him before asking suspiciously. "Mulder, are you sure about this girl? I mean, how do you know she isn't simply a jealous teen looking to start trouble?"

"If you could have seen how frightened she was..." he replied. "I know she was telling me the truth."

"Mulder, do me a favour. Don't say a word about any of this to Andrea's mother. I don't want to upset her any more than she already is. When the time comes, I'll tell her everything myself, okay?"

Mulder nodded solemnly at her. "I promise."

Scully turned her head away for a moment, looking over at the gravesite where the mourners were slowly thinning out.

"Jacqueline wants me to come back to the house," Scully said then turned to look back at him. "Do you mind?"

Mulder laid a protective arm around her shoulders. "No," he said. "I don't mind."

They walked back to the car silently, taking their time. As they approached the vehicle, Scully suddenly turned to face him. Her eyes were still shiny with tears. "I want to find out who did this to her, Mulder," her voice strained.

"We will, Scully, we will," he promised. Mulder glanced over towards Andrea's gravesite where a few stragglers remained. One of them was a tall youth dressed in a dark brown suit.

"But I think we should start by having a conversation with Mr. Troy Butters over there and find out what he knows."


"Troy Butters?"

The teenager turned to look down at Mulder and Scully as they approached him.

"Yeah? Can I help you?" the boy asked, glaring warily at them both.

A quick flash of their badges humbled him a bit but he still was not showing them much more respect than a quick nod of acknowledgment towards their federal credentials.

"I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder and this is Special Agent Dana Scully," Mulder nodded in his partner direction, "We'd like to speak with you if you have a few minutes."

Before the teen could utter a word, a large distinguished looking man stepped forward and with a guiding hand at the boy's back, began to lead him away.

"We have nothing to say and I'll thank you to leave my son alone," the man stated coarsely.

"Mr. Butters, your son may have information that could help us to apprehend a suspect in Andrea's death and I..." Mulder began.

"I don't care about your investigation," Mr. Butters said firmly. "My son won't be answering questions at this time."

"Mr. Butters, I don't think you understand..." Mulder began again.

"No," Mr. Butters interrupted, giving his son a gentle nudge to keep walking. "It seems you are the one who doesn't understand you can discuss this matter with our attorneys."

Mulder took a few steps towards them.

"Then may I have the name of the firm that represents you and your son?" Mulder asked politely.

Mr. Butters faced him impatiently. "Zoll, Witt and Turner. They're listed in the phone book. Good day."

And with that finality, father and son walked briskly away without another word.

Mulder watched them as they left. "I guess we should give this Zoll, Witt and Turner a call, eh, Scully?" Mulder said sarcastically.

"I guess so," she said.

Mulder began dialing the number for someone at the FBI who could find out the information for him. Once informed, he requested for a connection to be placed and waited for someone to pick up his call. "Yes, this is Special Agent Fox Mulder with the Federal Bureau of Investigation," he replied, when he heard a voice of greeting at the attorney's office. "May I speak with the attorney who is repres- -enting Mr. Troy Butters?" He paused before replying, "Yes, I'll hold. Thank you."

He wiped a drop of sweat from his brow then turned and began walking back towards their rental car. Scully followed at a foot pace behind him and he listened carefully to the footfalls of her feet on the concrete beneath them.

"Yes, this is Agent Mulder." He paused again, his mind back on the task at hand, while the lawyer on the other end enquired as to why an again from the FBI was requesting to see him. "Well, I'm looking into the death of one of Mr. Butters' classmates." He went silent again and listened. "That would be great. Thank you." He hung up the phone and pocketed it

"So, what time do we see Troy's attorney?" Scully asked.

"About 4:30 this afternoon," Mulder replied.

"Fine," Scully answered, "I'm going back to Jacqueline's for a little while to see if I can be of help to her, do you mind?"

Mulder shook his head. "No, go ahead."

She nodded and started to walk away but he called after her.

"Here," he said and handed over the keys to the rental, "take the car and I'll meet you back at the motel."

"No, I'll drop you off first before I go," she said with a small smile.


CHAPTER FOUR

Law Offices of Zoll, Witt & Turner Beverly Hills, CA 4:25 pm

The pungent smell of fresh paint and newly laid carpet hit Mulder's nostrils like a sledgehammer and he sneezed violently. Scully said nothing as they stepped over the threshold of the law office and into a reception area that was not only devoid of chairs to sit upon but also devoid of a receptionist. Only the sound of a hammer pounding and a working power saw could be heard coming from somewhere inside the building.

"Hello?" Mulder called out, looking down a plastic encased hallway.

"Hello?" he called out again. Glancing at Scully, who shrugged at him, he started down the hallway peeking into open doorways looking for anyone other than a startled construction worker.

"May I help you?" came a distinctly feminine voice from behind them.

Scully reached out and touched Mulder's shoulder.

They turned to see a willowy brunette standing in one of the doorways holding a full pot of coffee and dressed casually in blue jeans.

"Are you Ms. Turner?" Mulder asked the woman.

"I'm her daughter. My mother is on her way into the office right now," she said, and then asked. "Are you the two FBI agents she has the appointment with?"

Mulder nodded. "I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder and this is my partner, Special Agent Dana Scully."

The girl nodded to Scully politely. "Well, nice to meet you both. Please excuse the mess. We're in the middle of renovations from the earthquake we had the week before last and we've had to sort of juggle things with clients since then. Care for a cup of coffee?" she offered. "I was about to pour a cup for myself."

Scully shook her head but Mulder smiled and said: "That would be great, thank you, miss...?"

"Oh! Sorry!" she said, "Eileen Giordano."

She lead them back the way they had come and into another reception area. The office furniture was stacked in the middle of the room and that, along with the carpeting, was covered over with tarp plastic.

"This is my mother's office. But you don't have to wait in here, I'll let you into her temporary office," she said as she took a set of keys out of her pocket and unlocked a side door.

The room seemed untouched by the ongoing construction and a sharp contrast to the chaotic scene going on in various parts of the office.

"Please," Eileen said, "Have a seat." She motioned to the two elegantly upholstered chairs before a large desk, which was reminiscent of a French Louis XVI table.

Eileen walked over to a small wet bar in a corner of the office and set the coffee pot on a warmer. She poured a cup of coffee and walked over to Mulder. "Do you need cream or sugar?" she asked graciously.

Mulder took a small sip then shook his head. "Black is fine, thank you."

Eileen turned to Scully, "Are you sure I can't get you something?"

"May I have a glass of water, please?" Scully answered back, coolly.

Eileen went back over to the wet bar and came back with a glass of ice water, handing it carefully to Scully. "My mother should be here at any moment so just make yourselves comfortable." Eileen said, then backed out of the room, shutting the doors behind her.

Mulder unbuttoned his suit coat and slouched slightly in the chair. Scully looked around the lavish office as she sipped her glass of water.

"Nice digs," Mulder commented, "This would be an improvement over the old dungeon, eh, Scully?"

She shrugged and wrinkled her nose slightly. "The desk is a bit too gaudy for me," she commented.

"It's an antique. I imported it from France. Its intricate design simply represents the taste of that particular era."

The distinct female voice made Mulder almost choke on his coffee as he and Scully both jumped at the sudden sound. They rose in unison and turned to see a very elegantly dressed woman standing in the doorframe.

Dressed impeccably in a Chanel suit, she emanated a certain air of aristocracy that made Mulder suddenly think of his mother. Scully squirmed slightly beside him, embarrassed, as she realized the woman had overheard her tart comment. Regaining her composure was proving difficult, even as she steeled her jaw; her cheeks still flushed bright pink.

"Ms. Turner?" Mulder asked, offering his outstretched hand. "Ms. Amanda Turner?"

"Yes," she said and ignored his hand, gesturing for them to sit once again.

"I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder and this is my partner, Special Agent, Dana Scull..." he said to her.

"Yes, Mr. Butters mentioned two FBI agents harassing his son today at the Buchanan girl's funeral," she said as she sat primly behind the ornate desk across from them.

Scully stiffened at the way she mentioned the girl as if she had simply been an object like a lamp or a book.

"Actually, Ms. Turner, we're investigating the murder of Andrea Buchanan and we were hoping young Mr. Butters could give us any information to aid us in finding the suspect in this case." Scully said with a wry smile.

Ms. Turner returned Scully's smile. "I understand, Miss Scully, however after having spoken to my clients today, I don't believe there's any way he could possibly assist you in this matter. He has no knowledge regarding the circumstances of the girl's murder and quite frankly, he isn't willing to speak with you without his father's consent and since that won't be given any time soon, I would say that you will simply have to explore other avenues for your investigation."

Scully bristled at the woman's cool comments, but before she could offer a retort, Mulder spoke up.

"I'm sure it would be a great comfort to the girl's family if Troy could speak with us and tell us anything he might know about Miss Buchanan," Mulder said, trying to use a little bit of his male charm. "All we simply want to do is find out what happened to her and speaking with Troy would, of course, eliminate him as a possible suspect which, for the record, he is not at this time. If he could just tell us what he knows, when he saw her last and answer a few other simple questions that would be a help to our investigation."

Ms. Turner crossed her legs deftly then leaned in towards Mulder as cat about to pounce on its prey. She smiled seductively at him.

"It's not going to happen," she said, slowly enunciating each word.

Scully felt the muscles of her jaw tighten further as she glared killer daggers at the woman.

Mulder sighed inwardly. "Well, then I thank you very much for your time, Ms. Turner," he said as they got up to leave.

"Oh, and Agent Mulder, just so you know," the woman said, leaning back comfortably in her chair. "If you or your partner attempts to contact my client without my express consent, I will see to it that not only do you never get within a hundred yards of him, but I will also assure you that I will have a copy of your termination papers framed and hanging on my wall before the end of the day." She smiled at both of them icily. "I hope I've made myself clear on this matter?"

This time Mulder's jaw hardened. "Again, I thank you for your time," Mulder said cordially and they walked out of Ms. Turner's office, leaving her to sit behind her ornate desk like a victorious queen.

As they left the building, Mulder caught a quick glance of Ms. Turner's daughter. She waved goodbye to them as they walked outside.

Scully huffed with every step she took. Mulder could tell she was more than simply angry. She was royally pissed off.

"What a bitch!" she muttered under her breath.

He laid a cautionary hand on her shoulder. "Easy, Scully," he soothed. She flinched away from his calming touch.

"I always hated dealing with attorneys," she grumbled. "Her type is the worst."

"She reminded me a lot of my mother," he said and then gave a visible shudder.

That made her laugh.

"Really?" She gave him a quick glance, smiling as she did so. Mulder's tease raising her spirits briefly.

A moment passed before she said, "So, now what? We're at a dead end here."

"Not necessarily," he said.

"But you heard what that..." she started.

"No, she's right," he soothed.

"WHAT?" she said, "That's bull, Mulder, and you know it."

"No," he said. "We will have to 'explore other avenues of our investigation'."

She stood there looking at him questioningly.

"I think it's time we talk to Jennifer Barnard again," he said, reaching into his pocket for his cell phone and the slip of pink paper with her number on it.


CHAPTER FIVE

HOLY TRINITY CEMETERY
June 11, 1997 10:02 p.m.

Mulder side-stepped a low lying granite slab as he made his way over towards the spot where he had been just hours before. Inwardly he found himself feeling frustrated and he hated feeling as though he were being jerked around, though he felt after all these years he should be used to it by now.

In addition, he was not particularly happy with the fact that he had not only missed lunch but was going to miss dinner as well. The growl of his stomach gave him a reminder of that particular fact. Reaching into the pocket of his blazer, he removed a small packet of his favorite snack.

As he approached a stone bench, he looked around. The dusk of night was casting long black shadows across everything and the cemetery was starting to resemble a rather sinister and frightening place. Not that Mulder paid much attention to such surroundings. He was used to sinister and frightening places. The sinister and frightening people seemed to bother him most. The Alien Bounty Hunter and Eugene Tooms quickly came to mind.

A noise, as he neared the agreed upon meeting point, made him stop. It wasn't hard to discern the sound of someone in trouble. Mulder dodged around the tombstones and as he rounded the last one, he saw Jennifer... and she wasn't alone.

The figure of a man dressed all in black, loomed large above the girl. He had his hand wrapped around Jennifer's neck and she was struggling desperately to break away. Mulder withdrew his gun and aimed.

"HEY!" Mulder hollered; his gun trained dead on at the center of the man's forehead. "Let her go!"

The man turned and looked directly at Mulder with an eerie smile. Mulder could plainly see the fangs that glistened fresh with blood and Jennifer's neck painted bright red. She turned pleading eyes in Mulder's direction, beckoning silently to him for help. Mulder's pause may have been brief but it was a snail's pace in comparison to what happened next.

The man threw Jennifer aside like a rag doll and came towards him. Mulder watched helplessly as the girl careened wildly through the air, landing a few feet away and coming to rest in a heap at the foot of a granite monument. She lay there motionless.

In a flash, the man's hand was around Mulder's neck, lifting him high above the ground.

Squeezing, squeezing...

Mulder gasped for air as he, too, began his own struggle to free himself from the death grip around his throat.

The man stared at him with yellowish eyes and smiled a grin of devilish glee as his grip tightened further around Mulder's neck. Mulder frantically tried to pry the icy fingers away but the man simply laughed at him.

Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Mulder saw a slight movement. A shadow of a figure appeared.

With a glint of metal and a soft whooshing sound, Mulder found himself meeting the ground with a hard thud, his head hitting the earth violently enough to draw blood. He took in a deep breath to feed his starving lungs and to steady himself, the blood causing a small trickle to form in his hairline.

As he breathed, an unearthly scream made him look up in time to see his would-be attacker disappearing in a cloud of blazing flame and ash. When the fine dust settled, Mulder saw a dark figure standing before him.

Dressed in a long black leather trench coat, the man wore what looked like a metallic breastplate beneath the coat. Mulder watched in fascination the man's slow, graceful movements. Mulder thought he was hallucinating due to lack of oxygen and the bump on his head.

The man walked over towards Jennifer's lifeless body, and knelt beside it, checking for a pulse.

Without so much as a passing glance at Mulder, the man plunged his sword directly into the middle of Jennifer's chest.

In that split second, Mulder knew for sure he wasn't dreaming. Shocked, he couldn't move. Nevertheless, as the leather clad man raised the sleek piece of steel once more, Mulder found his voice and shouted: "NO!"

The man did not hesitate and Mulder watched helplessly as Jennifer's head was severed completely in one clean movement from her body.

There was little if no blood at all from the open wound and the exposed flesh from the stump of neck was pale in color. Mulder could feel a burning sickness build in his throat as the man turned to face him. In two steps he was standing above Mulder regarding him, as though contemplating the punishment of a too- inquisitive child.

Horrified by what he just witnessed, Mulder stammered in disbelief. "Y-you killed her!"

"She was dead already," the man growled back at him.

"... and her head..," Mulder said, weakly as bile began to move up into the back of his throat. "You didn't have to cut off her head."

The man said nothing.

"What kind of monster are you?" Mulder coughed as he attempted to find his footing to stand.

The man turned and began walking away.

"HEY!" Mulder called after him, his voice raspy and not as authoritive as he would have liked. "I'm talking to you!"

The man kept walking.

"I said I'm talking to you!" Mulder called out to him as he withdrew his weapon.

Still, there was no response.

Mulder took dead aim at the back of the man's head.

"F.B.I.! Stop where you are!" Mulder called out one last time as he cocked his gun. The sound of the bullet entering the chamber made the man stop and slowly turn to face him.

"You don't want to do that," he warned, his voice was icy and calm. His words sent an unexpected chill down Mulder's spine.

"You're under arrest for the murder of Jennifer Barnard," Mulder said in a rasped voice.

"I don't think so," the man said.

"I'd say decapitating her head from her body classifies as murder," Mulder said, through clenched teeth.

"She was already dead," the man answered matter-of-factly.

"And what?" Mulder challenged. "She wasn't dead enough for you that you needed to make sure of it by cutting off her head? You sick bastard!"

"She was infected."

The man was obviously becoming annoyed with him now but Mulder didn't care.

"What do you mean she was 'infected'?" Mulder asked, knowing what he meant but he just needed to hear this person say it aloud.

"In twenty-four hours she would've become just another blood-sucker," the man said, a hint of disgust in his voice.

Mulder continued to keep his gun trained on the man. "There's no such thing as vampires," he lied. "They're just someone's idea of a bad dream seen in old Bella Lagosi movies."

The man approached Mulder and stood nose to nose with him, staring him down.

"If that were true, then I'd gladly be out of a job."

He smiled, baring his ivory fangs in a smug smile that chilled Mulder to his very core. Then the man was gone, disappearing into the night leaving Mulder to train his gun into the thick empty darkness.

"Who are you?" Mulder called out, not expecting an answer to his question.

"Blade," a ghostly voice replied.


Emergency Room Cedars-Sinai Hospital 11:50 p.m. Los Angeles, CA.

"Hold still," Scully scolded.

Mulder cringed as the antiseptic ointment touched his wounded skin; burning into his scalp.

He hated hospitals. The smell of bleach, sickness and death was something he could never get used to, no matter how many times he tried.

"You're going to need a few stitches to close that, Mr. Mulder," the doctor told him. "I'll be right back to close that up for you." Mulder nodded at the doctor as he left.

Moments later, after the last stitch was in place and a bandage had been applied, Mulder began to shrug himself back into his rumpled dress shirt. Scooping up his crumpled tie, he jammed it into the pocket of his blazer as Scully regarded him with masked concern and frowned her disapproval.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life, Scully," he said excitedly. "Someone so devoid of feeling that he would just cut Jennifer's head off like he was slicing through a loaf of bread."

"So, tell me more about this guy. He said his name was 'Blade'?" she asked.

Mulder nodded.

Scully said nothing as she listened to him once again tell her about the events that had transpired and his encounter with the mysterious man.

"Well," Mulder puffed out, "I think our investigation has just taken a turn into the weird and unexplained in a major way."

"No kidding," she said with a hint of sarcasm.

"We'll have to talk to the chief investigator about this and see what he knows," Mulder continued on, not noticing she had fallen silent again. "This reminds me of the case I worked on while you abducted and ..." Mulder stopped talking when he finally noticed her stony silence and the dark frown on her lovely face.

"What?" he asked her. Her familiar frown usually amused him but this time it gave him a feeling of dread. What was she thinking?

"Mulder," she stopped in the middle of the hall. "Do you honestly expect me to believe that the possibility of the existence of vampires is real?" she asked him.

Now it was Mulder's turn to be silent.

"Mulder, tell me, what exactly do you plan to ask the chief investigator? I mean, you walk in there and tell him about this, tell him these were vampires that killed our only witness... what do you think he's going to say to you?" Her arms were firmly crossed in front of her.

Mulder shrugged lightly.

"I'll tell you what he's going to say," she continued. "After he's done laughing his ass off at you, he'll probably ask me what sort of medication you're on. Then he'll more than likely make a call to Skinner to complain about how his two F.B.I. agents wasted his time during a murder investigation with fairy tales about vampires walking around the streets of Los Angeles killing innocent people," she said.

"Scully, I really am touched by how much you care about my well-being and my sanity," Mulder said. "But I know what I saw. It wasn't any sort of hallucination from this bump on my head. They were as real as you are standing here in front of me."

She sighed inwardly, looking at him forlornly.

"Believe me," he pleaded to her. "I know what I saw."

She sighed once more and lowered her voice as a nurse passed them in the hall.. "Well, Jennifer's autopsy had better have some sort of proof of this otherwise you won't be able to say anything to anyone."

"Let me know if you find anything," he said.

"Wait a minute, if I find anything?" she exclaimed throwing him a look of consternation. "Who said anything about me performing an autopsy?"

"Oh, well," he said, "You didn't think I'd allow just anyone to do this autopsy, did you?"

She stared at him in disbelief. "I don't believe this..."

"Scully, you said it yourself, if I ask someone else to do this simply to disprove that Jennifer was killed by a vampire, it's our asses on the line and Skinner will hear about it."

She glared at him.

"C'mon, it's your shot to disprove me on the existence of Nosferatu," he said.

She looked away. She hated this. Hated that he was trying to charm her into doing something she didn't believe was her place to do or at least not this particular one. In the end, she relented, as she always did.

"What are you going to do?" she asked, barely managing to hide her displeasure for the task to be done.

He smiled inwardly and said, "I'm going to check out this place I know. It's not much but it's a place to start."

"Where?" she asked perplexed.

"Never mind," he murmured then said, "I'll call you if I find anything."

"Well, be careful," she warned.

"Aren't I always?" he said.

He was down the hall and out the door before she could voice her disagreement.

**

CHAPTER SIX

"Club Tepes" 12:46 a.m. Los Angeles, CA.

Mulder could hear the heavy musical beat drumming a steady rhythm from outside the club as he approached the front door. A security guard with triceps up to his nose gave him a lingering stare mixed with suspicion and distaste. Apparently, Mulder's attire was a red flag that he wasn't there for dancing.

"State your business," the man snarled, "I don't want any trouble here."

"I don't either but I hold no responsibility if someone starts trouble with me," Mulder said glibly then continued, "I'm just looking for information. Anyone know a man by the name of 'Blade'?"

The guard froze; a shadow of fear passed quickly over his face. "Never heard of him," he said, obviously lying.

"Never? He would be kind of hard to miss, really. Tall black man wearing a long leather coat and carrying what looks to me like a Samurai sword on his back?" Mulder said.

"Sorry," the guard answered with a shrug.

"Maybe your manager might know who I'm talking about," Mulder said and pulled out his FBI badge from the breast pocket of his jacket. The man's demeanor quickly became cooperative.

"Look, if you're looking to find things out about Blade, don't ask around here. No one will talk." The man advised quietly then glanced over Mulder's shoulder as two female night-clubbers arrived.

The man checked their identification while the girls checked out Mulder. Handing them back their ID cards, the man hustled them inside before continuing with the conversation.

"If you want to know anything about Blade, you need to talk to a detective by the name of Evans; Bruce Evans. Find him and he'll tell you all you need to know," the man said.

The man paused as a pearl white Mercedes pulled up to the curb. Mulder took a step backwards as the passenger side door to the car swung open revealing a set of shapely legs in black stilettos emerging from the interior. The security guard started over to help the owner of those legs stand up when a young man in a black suit appeared from the driver's side and grabbed the woman's hand.

"I got her, Mario," the young man said, as the woman stepped out of the car.

"Very good, Mr. Frost," Mario answered, stepping back. "Good evening, Miss Kilar."

Did he just hear right? Mulder thought in alarm. Did the security guard just say...?

Shock, disbelief and confusion swept over him like a tsunami as Mulder felt a familiar tightening in his chest when the woman turned her head in his direction and he got a good look at the her face. He whispered her name under his breath. "Kristen."

As if she heard him, she stopped short and looked directly at him. Her eyes met and bore into his. She felt a wave of familiarity but fear kept her quiet as she allowed the young man; hand on the small of her back, to guide her towards the entrance to the club.

Mulder tried not to stare at her but he couldn't help himself and it caught the attention of the young man. He stopped in front of Mulder, confronting him aggressively.

"Something I can do for you, friend?" he asked with a hard look.

Mulder held up a defensive hand to him before the security guard stepped forward.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Frost, I was just explaining to the gentlemen before you got here that we don't accept his kind into the club," Mario said humbly.

"We don't discriminate, Mario, we accept everyone into our club," the young man chided, to which Mario replied with a submissive "Yes, sir."

The man looked Mulder up and down then smiled and said, "So, having trouble getting into our club were you? Sorry about that. Mario was just being overly protective. Weren't you, Mario?"

Mario nodded uncomfortably.

"Well, it's to be expected," he further explained. "It's what I pay him the big bucks for."

Mulder chuckled.

"Well, shall we go in then?" He asked Mulder as Mario jumped to open the door for them all.

Mulder didn't move.

"Care to join us, Mr--?"

"Mulder. Fox Mulder."

"Frost. Deacon Frost."

Kristen shivered visibly.

"Cold, my dear?" Frost regarded her for a moment as they entered the club.

"Just a chill," she replied to which Frost chuckled.

He turned to Mulder and said, "She has an amazing wit."

Mulder nodded, not sure if he should laugh or not.

The club's music throbbed from speakers all over the walls and ceiling. The crowd of people moshing together on the dance floor seemed to be the same crowd Mulder had seen there back in 1994. It was as though time had stood still in a place where no one left at all. The words to the song Hotel California crept into Mulder's head.

...You can checkout any time you like, But you can never leave...

Mulder followed directly behind Kristen as Frost lead them up a steel staircase to a loft area where a plush, velvet couch and some black leather chairs sat close to the steel railing.

Mulder took in the curve of her hips as she walked, the sway of her long hair. He caught the briefest scent of gardenias from her moving tresses and the fragrance tickled his nostrils. His shock and awe over seeing her again turned into raging curiosity. He couldn't wait to get her alone so he could ask her the billion and one questions flooding his mind at once; especially that all important question million dollar question of why?

But for now, he took in her every movement with the same sort of primitive appreciation as any other healthy red-blooded male would. Not for nothing, Kristen was beautiful; even more beautiful now then she had been before. He knew it and apparently so did everyone else. He had noticed some of the looks other men gave her as they walked through the club and ascended the stairs.

A wet bar was over in a corner being attended to by an Asian server who was dressed in a black leather corset and tight black leather jeans. She eyed Mulder as he approached a chair then seated himself down. Kristen and Frost occupied the couch all to themselves with his arm around her pale shoulders after they sat down.

The woman came around from the bar and approached them.

"Good evening, Mr. Frost, what can I get you and your guests tonight?" she asked politely.

"My usual," he said with a wave of his hand. He trailed his thumb across Kristen's skin and whispered into her ear.

"Make that two, please," Kristen replied to the girl, who nodded and then turned to Mulder.

"And for you? ... Sir?" she asked, a hint of disgust to her voice.

Mulder shook his head. "Nothing for me, thanks."

"Come now, Mr. Mulder, surely you would like some sort of...refreshment?" Frost cajoled him.

Mulder held up his hand. "No, really, I'm good."

Frost's face shadowed over with annoyance while Kristen looked at Mulder with pleading eyes. She shook her head slightly at him.

Mulder glanced from Kristen, to Frost and then back to her again. Finally he turned to the server and said: "Screwdriver. Heavy on the screw."

The server nodded and walked back towards the bar.

Frost leaned back against the couch once more.

Kristen, however, did not relax. "I need to go to the ladies' room," she announced to Frost softly. Stealing a demure glance towards Mulder, she excused herself and headed down the steel staircase to the restrooms below them.

Mulder watched her as she descended the stairs. Each curve, each movement stirred a burning desire in him. A brief flash of when he saw her last ran through his mind. The look in her eyes and the feel of her against him reminded him of the night he needed someone to curb the loneliness he had felt when he had lost Scully.

Scully.

He couldn't think about his partner right now and pushed her beautiful face from his mind as Frost turned his full attention towards him.

"So, Mr. Mulder," he began as he stretched his legs out atop the coffee table in front of them, "what line of business are you in?"

Mulder looked at Kristen again remembering the all too brief time he had spent with her. He recalled how he had enjoyed the feel of Kristen, had revelled in the touch of her soft white skin as her body moved under him and about him. Consuming him.

He thought now about how he had watched her as she fell into a brief slumber after all the things they had done, things that he had never done with anyone else.

His mind was now transported back to that time as if he was reliving it again. He was sitting at the foot of the same bed they had shared, his eyes now watching her, tracing the curve of her leg half covered by the sheet.

Runner's legs. Beautiful legs. Legs that he loved watching. Legs that he'd seen a thousand times over and over. Legs that he knew the intricate movements to.

He couldn't actually remember Kristen having such legs but he brushed it aside as his eyes moved past her round hips and up towards her chest.

Her chest that was moving up and down, up and down, up and down in a slow rhythmic and hypnotic fashion, the shape and swell of her breasts exciting him once more.

They were somehow a little different from a few hours ago when he was stroking them and caressing them with his hands and mouth.

He pulled back slightly when he looked up at Kristen's face, at her unfamiliar hair, hair that was cascading all over the plump pillow. It was an incredibly beautiful sight only it wasn't Kristen's face he was now seeing and that's why he was now so shocked.

His thoughts had suddenly taken a different, sudden exciting turn and it was now Scully's face he was studying, it was her red hair that was in pools framing her head, it was her leg that had entranced him so. It was her body he was imagining, her he wanted to be with.

She was lying there exhausted, looking as if they had just spent an age making love. How he desired her in that moment, wanted her to consume him and consume her in return.

Oh, God, Scully!

He pulled himself back to the present. He knew it was perverse to think like this. If he thought about it properly then he could see that Kristen had filled the massive void left by Scully and the love he felt for her. Kristen had been a patch, a bandage to hide his wounds. A good one, and good company, but she was not what he really wanted and never had been. Nor would she ever be.

Mulder could feel Frost's eyes on him in expectation of his answer. He knew he could not say who he really was and worried that Kristen could still give him away. Silently, he prayed that she would remain quiet. He chose to answer Frost's question with a lie.

"Sales," Mulder said.

"I see," Frost nodded in acknowledgment. "And what do you sell?"

The server approached with their drinks and Frost removed his legs from the table to allow her to set them down. She did so quickly and walked away. Mulder picked up his drink and took a small sip.

"I sell coffee," he said, then placed his glass back on the table.

Frost nodded again. He was silent for a moment then broke out into a grin. The grin widened into a full smile and suddenly he burst out laughing as Mulder sat there wondering; what was so funny about selling coffee?

"And you're trying to sell some to us night owls?" Frost chuckled.

"Actually I sell coffee to business offices; mostly on the East Coast, but our company is expanding so we're looking for potential customers here on the West Coast," Mulder explained. "I'd like to be the first in our company to get a jumpstart on the West Coast market before anyone else."

Frost gave him a bemused smile. "Well, I may be able to give you a hand with that. I know some people that are up all night all the time," Frost offered.

Mulder nodded then said, "That's very generous of you. I'll leave you my number..." He made a show of searching the breast pockets of his blazer.

"Your business card will be fine," Frost said.

Mulder made a face and said, "Sorry, I guess I gave out my last card this afternoon."

Kristen returned to their table looking refreshed but still wearing her mask of worry. She sat down beside Frost, immediately picked up her drink and began to sip it. Her return brought a fog of tension, which Mulder tried to break by speaking again to Frost.

"So, these people that you know, are they into gourmet coffees or regular Columbian beans?"

Frost snickered as Kristen gave Mulder an odd look.

"Sweetheart, our new friend, Mr. Mulder is in the coffee business," Frost said, as he reached out to caress her bare shoulder. "Did you know that?"

His touch sent a shiver down her spine. "No, I didn't," she said, as she threw another sidelong glance Mulder's way. "How interesting."

"He's looking for new clients here in the city. I may just have to give him a hand with that," Frost said. "What do you think?"

Kristen gave him a small smile, then said: "Whatever you want, baby."

"Isn't she great?" Frost said to Mulder, proudly.

Mulder nodded, his eyes following Kristen's every movement.

"Beautiful, intelligent, and knows how to please her man," he said, leaning in to kiss her neck. "Don't you, my pet?"

Kristen nodded obediently though embarrassed as his lips caressed her pale skin.

"Well, I think I'll be saying 'good night' now," Mulder said as he quickly downed his drink.

"So soon? The night is still young," Frost said with a hint of disappointment. "Stay, have another drink and enjoy yourself... on me."

And with that, he snapped his fingers. The server came over to take away his empty glass from the table and replaced it with a fresh drink.

"No, really, I have to go," Mulder said. "Early day tomorrow and all. Have to be out there pounding the pavement for potential customers."

He turned to leave but Frost stopped him.

"Well, don't forget to give me your number so I can refer you to some people," he said.

Mulder hesitated for a second then made an attempt at searching his pockets in vain for a pen and paper. "I guess I'm all out of scrap paper and pens too," he said, innocently.

Frost smiled. "Got a pen, babe?" he asked Kristen. She searched her purse, pulled out a small gold pen and began to hand it to Frost, but he waved at her to give it to Mulder.

The briefest touch of her fingers on his, as Mulder took the pen from her, gave him a small jolt of desire. A brief remembrance of their last night together came to his mind.

He quickly scribbled down his cell phone number on a still damp paper napkin; secretly hoping that the number would smudge and that Deacon wouldn't be able to read and actually call him.

Mulder handed Kristen back her pen and the napkin to Frost.

"Well," Mulder said politely, as he extended his hand towards Frost. "It was nice meeting you, Mr. Frost."

"Deacon," Frost replied as he took Mulder's hand in his. "The pleasure was all mine."

The icy cold of Frost's skin as he touched Mulder was not the only thing that made him shiver. Frost's piercing stare unnerved him as well. Mulder turned then and took his leave.

As he made his way through the crowd, Mulder still felt as though he were being watched. That uncomfortable feeling stayed with him all the way out the door and back onto the street.

Mario the security guard was gone from his post and no one seemed to be staffing the door at all. Mulder took no more notice of this as he began to hail a cab.

As one pulled up to the curb, Mulder's cell phone suddenly went off in his pocket. He seated himself inside the cab, before he answered it with his familiar greeting. "Mulder."

"Fox?"

Her voice on the other end surprised him. He pretended not to recognize her, the shock of seeing Kristen again after so long, when he thought she was dead, had unnerved him and he still couldn't believe that it was her who had been sitting in front of him. Unbelievable, in fact. It was why he felt the sudden need to have confirmation. "Who is this?" he asked tentatively.

"Kristen."

A long pause on his end made her ask. "Fox? Hello? Are you still there?"

"Yeah, I'm here," he answered her flatly.

"I thought for a moment you had hung up on me." She gave a small laugh.

"And I thought for a moment that you were dead," he snapped back then added: "I just have to know one thing; how are you even alive and how is that you survived that house fire that supposedly killed you as well as your cohorts?"

"That's a long story..." she began.

"I don't have any formal plans at the moment," he quipped. "Not to mention that I got the impression you didn't want your current boyfriend to know that you actually knew me. Now, why is that?"

"If he knew about us, Fox, we'd both be dead right now," she said.

That statement jarred him. "So, what is that you want? Why are you calling me?" he asked.

"I need to talk to you," she said. "When can I see you?"

"You just saw me and we're talking right now," he said, as he looked out the cab's window at the city's passing surroundings.

She was silent on her end again but only for a moment. "There are some things I need to tell you... about Deacon," she said, "... and I wanted to warn you about him."

"What do you mean 'warn' me about him?" Mulder asked

"Can we meet somewhere?" she asked, becoming impatient with his 'cat-and-mouse' conversation.

"Why?" he asked.

"I just want to talk to you. I haven't... I mean, we haven't seen each other for a long time and I just wanted---" she said sweetly.

"--You just wanted to see if we could 'do it' again?" he said, annoyed by her part in this 'cat-and-mouse' conversation. "Pardon me for sounding like a complete ass here, but I saw you burn to death in a horrific house fire and, up until a couple of moments ago, thought you were ashes. So, excuse me for not being completely happy or excited about seeing you."

"I know, and I'm sorry but I really have to speak to you," she insisted.

Mulder sighed. "I don't know. I really don't think--"

"Please?" she interrupted. "I just want to talk."

Mulder said nothing. He was thinking. Thinking about the last time he had seen her...touched her...and the last kiss he had given her. The feel of her when they had moved together...

He broke his revelry and said: "Call me in the morning. I'll let you know a time and place."

Now it was Kristen's turn to pause.

"All right?" he prodded.

"Yes," came the simple reply and she hung up.

Mulder sighed again. Seeing Kristen tonight could prove to be either a stroke of good luck or a beginning to his demise. Mulder was unsure of which. What he did know was that he would have to be cautious... very cautious.

He would tell Scully about this new development, though when the time came, he secretly hoped she wouldn't want to accompany him to the meeting. If she did, he worried about what she would say if she knew what he had done with Kristen and what that had meant to him?

Slightly embarrassed by such thoughts, Mulder finally decided that, for the moment, it would be best to keep this meeting information to himself.

Scully would, of course, be annoyed with him for not including her but he relied on the hope that she would get over it and not make it into a big deal. It wasn't as though he were still seeing Kristen. That ship had not only sailed long ago but had essentially been torpedoed, sunk and given a proper burial at sea!

Soft rain began to fall and the cab driver flipped on his windshield wipers. The soft rhythmic noise they made on the glass lulled Mulder into a light catnap as the vehicle headed back towards the hotel where Scully was most likely waiting for him impatiently.


Morning had come too quickly with the sound of running water in Mulder's room. It woke Scully. She looked over at her travel alarm clock to see the time was early; very early, and wondered what could possibly make Mulder get up at this hour?

She hadn't heard him come back to his room last night at all. Yesterday had not only exhausted her physically but mentally as well and she was surprised at how soundly she had slept up until now.

She got up, threw on her dressing gown and walked over to the adjoining door connecting their respective rooms. It was slightly ajar and she peeked through the crack. Seeing nothing, she tapped lightly on the door and called out Mulder's name. When she got no reply, she gently pushed opened the door a bit wider and called out to him again.

He poked his head around the corner from the bathroom. "Good morning," he said.

She opened the door the rest of the way and walked in. She sat herself down comfortably on the chair in the corner of the room and waited for him to emerge from the bathroom. He did, carrying his toiletry bag.

"You're up early," she said with a yawn.

"I went jogging," he said, setting his bag down on the dresser. "Besides, I didn't sleep much last night."

"You did get in a bit late" she said, "Is everything all right? Did you find out anything new about Jennifer's killer?"

Mulder nodded. His face was suddenly beginning to turn a little pink. "Yes, everything's all right and, no, I didn't't find out anything new."

A lie, not the first and certainly not his last as far as the subject of Kristen was concerned. At least for the moment anyway.

"Oh" was all she said before turning away to stare out the window.

Mulder silently cursed to himself.

She stood up and began walking back to her room. "I'll get dressed and we'll go for breakfast," she said.

"Actually, I think I'll just run down to the local 7-Eleven and get a cup of coffee," he said then added, "If that's okay with you?"

Scully eyed him suspiciously.

"I just need that quick shot of Joe right now, y'know?" he said, sounding a little nervous. "I'm not really in the mood for a sit-down breakfast."

She lapsed into another uncomfortable silence

"How'd the autopsy go?" he asked, quickly changing the subject.

"Oh, I decided to wait and do it this morning," she said.

He raised an eyebrow at her.

"---And since you're already up and around I guess there's no sense in my sleeping in that extra hour so I might as well go in and get it done."

Mulder felt badly. "I'm sorry, Scully. I didn't't mean to have you get up at this hour too."

She waved his apology away. "It's okay. Best to get a jump start on things." She started back to her room then stopped and turned to him. "Drop me off at the coroner's office then?" she asked him.

Mulder smiled. "Actually, I'll just come along with you."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Yeah, I'm sure."


CHAPTER SEVEN

Los Angeles County Coroner's office
June 12, 1997 10:30 a.m.

Mulder paced around the room as Scully went through her routine of examining Jennifer's body. He said nothing to her as she worked and did not ask any questions, which for him was unusual. That fact was not lost on Scully as she glanced up at him from time to time hoping to catch his eye. He seemed to her to be lost in his own little world.

"Still with me, Mulder?" she asked as she continued to work.

He nodded as if on autopilot.

Scully continued to regard him but did not ask him the question again.

When she was finished with Jennifer's body, she covered it with the sheet and walked over to Mulder, snapping her latex gloves loudly to wake him from his daydreaming. Until now, it hadn't been bothering her. However, his brooding silence was making her uncomfortable and his mindless wandering was making her nervous. What was wrong with him? Had something happened that he wasn't telling her? She hated it when he didn't't include her in things.

"Finished?" He asked her absent-mindedly.

"With the exception of a few tests, yes," she said, chucking the gloves into the medical waste bin.

He nodded in acknowledgement but it still seemed to Scully that he was only doing so as an automatic reaction.

Finally his odd moodiness got the better of her and, with hands on hips, she confronted him. "Mulder, what is it with you this morning?" she asked pointedly. "You're acting very odd."

He feigned innocence. "Nothing."

"What is it?" she asked him pointedly.

Mulder didn't answer her question, instead he looked around the room trying to think of a way to give her question a satisfactory answer, one that would aid his own thoughts as well as give her something to mull over. However, all he could do was to look at her wordlessly, even his thoughts had escaped him at this moment in time.

"Did something happen last night?" she asked now sounding worried.

Mulder winced slightly at the mention of last night. "Why do you ask?" he said, a bit hesitantly.

"Because you've been acting strange all morning," she said.

"As opposed to any other time?" he teased her with a slight chuckle in his voice.

She shot him a disapproving look.

He shrugged his shoulders at her. "It's nothing, really, I just ran into an old girlfriend while I was checking out that lead," he said and instantly regretted the words as he said them. He knew it was a blatant fabrication, she hadn't been his girlfriend at all, but owning up to the truth right now was something that eluded him. At the moment he felt that the truth would hurt her far more than his little white lie.

"Oh."

Mulder didn't know at that moment if he should defend himself or let it go, but he could tell Scully was a little taken back by his answer.

He could't know what she was thinking but he surmised that perhaps it never occurred to her that he would have any sort of romantic relationship with anyone since he never had a girlfriend call or stop by the office. He felt as though he was already in a hardened relationship with his job so where a romantic relationship could ever develop was beyond even him. He couldn't expect that Scully would understand either when he didn't even understand it himself. "I think she may be able to help us with the investigation, Scully," he said casually.

"Really?" she said.

"Yeah I think she may have some connections that could help us in finding Andrea's killer," he said, still trying to keep it casual. "That is, if we play our cards right."

"And what sort of card game are we looking to play?" she said a bit too tersely.

"The kind that makes us out as the winners."

She nodded in quiet contemplation then said: "Anything to be able to give Jacqueline some good news tonight, if I can."

"Tonight?" he asked, confused. "What's going on tonight?"

Scully nodded. "She's invited us over for dinner, sort of a 'thank you' for helping investigate her daughter's death."

"Oh, wow. Scully, I'm sorry but I can't go. I've already made arrangements to meet with Kristen tonight," he explained then scowled at himself. He hadn't meant to say her name aloud.

"Kristen?" Scully asked, her eyebrow rising slightly at him.

He nodded. "She called and I made arrangements to meet with her tonight. But I can cancel if you want me to---"

"No, no, that's okay," she said, her lips pursed. "Go."

"Are you sure?" he asked, concerned that she was actually more hurt that he was backing out on her friend's hospitality than she was willing to admit.

"Yes," Scully said, "I hope she has some good information that will be of use to us."

"Yeah, I hope so too."

Scully's eyes narrowed slightly at him.

Mulder blushed. "I really want to get this guy," he said, solemnly. For you, Scully, he thought to himself.

Scully finally gave him a small smile. "That will mean a lot to her."

Mulder laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Scully, I promise. One way or another, this guy will pay for what he did."

"You sound like you're taking this a bit personally."

"No," he said dropping his hand. "I just don't like the idea of someone going around killing innocent young girls like this. It's barbaric."

She nodded then murmured. "I couldn't agree more." Then she sighed. "I guess you won't need me for anything else today then?"

"No," he said, "Go. Spend time with your friend. She needs you."

She nodded at him then turned away to leave.

"Scully?" he called after her. She turned back to him.

"Kristen wasn't my girlfriend." He admitted.

"Mulder, that's really none of my business--" she started, but he cut her off.

"She was someone I...while you were gone..." he started to say.

"Mulder, you don't have to tell me this, really. I don't care about your... personal life. What you do or what you may have done in the past with someone is none of my business..."

However, Mulder didn't stop. He kept talking, spilling his guilt out to her in a waterfall of confession. Scully, in spite of herself, listened.

On the one hand it was the first time in a long while that he had opened up to her about his personal life like this. On the other hand, he felt that she really didn't care to know about the intimate details of his sexual exploits even though she only knew about one or two of his past loves. She had never given much thought to the subject...until now.

"While you were gone... after you were... abducted, I-I couldn't function," he said, "I couldn't... handle you being gone. I blamed myself for you being taken and her..." he paused a moment and swallowed back his emotion hard. "She was someone I met during an investigation here. I didn't know she was even still around. I thought she had died in a house fire and I hadn't thought about her until the other day when your friend called. I mean, meeting up with her last night at the club was shocking, to say the least. I never expected to run into her like that. I thought she was dead."

As he continued to talk, she watched his eyes and could see a vulnerability to them. Not only did he seem to care about what she thought, he seemed worried that she would think badly of him for what he had done. That, of course, was simply ridiculous.

Just as she was about to tell him that, her cell phone rang. "Scully." She answered and caught the crestfallen look on his face at the interruption.

As he turned to leave, she called after him. "Mulder, wait."

Then into her phone she said, "I'll call you right back."

He didn't look at her as she approached him.

"Mulder," she laid her hand on his arm softly. "I don't know why you felt you had to tell me these things, but I just want you to know that I appreciate your honesty."

Mulder said nothing but she smiled up at him. "I'm glad you felt comfortable enough to confide in me."

He shrugged at her nonchalantly and left the morgue without another word to her.


Residence of Jacqueline Buchanan Brentwood, CA. June 12, 1997 6:30 p.m.

"I'm sorry your partner couldn't make it tonight, Dana," Jacqueline said, as she set the table in her dining room. "It would have been nice to be able to thank him... and you... for all of your hard work."

Scully placed two wine glasses on either side of the place settings and went back to get the silverware.

"Well, to be honest, he's not really good in social settings like this," she lied to her friend. "But I'm sure he would have appreciated a home cooked meal."

Jacqueline gave Scully a sympathetic smile as she went back to the kitchen with Scully following closely behind her.

"Do you think he's close to finding Andrea's killer?" Jacqueline asked.

Scully paused as she took the silverware out of the drawer. She didn't want to tell another lie to her friend. "I think it's still too early in the investigation to tell how close we could be," she told her. "We've only been here a few days."

"But you do have some leads though, right?" Jacqueline asked, hopeful.

"Let me just say that Mulder is working very hard to find out who killed Andrea," Scully said with a gentle smile.

Jacqueline nodded and continued to busy herself with making dinner, while Scully went back to the dining room to finish setting the table.

When they finally sat down to eat, Jacqueline's painful silence hung heavily at the table. Scully reached across and clasped her hand reassuringly. "We'll find him. Whoever he is," she said sternly. "I promise."

Jacqueline gave her a gentle squeeze back. "I know you will, Dana. Of that I have no doubt."


CHAPTER EIGHT

"Scot's Run" Diner
June 12, 1997 10:05 p.m.

When Kristen had finally called him to set up the meeting time and place, Mulder was surprised by how he felt about seeing her again. He didn't know why he felt so excite but at the same time he didn't really care.

She had told him to meet her outside the city at a little place on Mulholland Drive. A small eatery that she said she used to frequent before her life as a vampire had begun.

Mulder agreed to meet her there even though he wasn't too familiar with the location of that particular road.

"I'll find it," he had assured her over the telephone.

"I know you will," she had answered back before hanging up.

A few hours and several wrong turns later, Mulder arrived at the spot Kristen told him. He was so late that he didn't think she would still be waiting for him. Nevertheless, as he entered the eatery, he spotted her right away sitting alone in a corner booth. She was even more beautiful then he remembered three years ago.

She gave him a graceful smile as he approached the table. She had watched him pull up and get of his car.

"I almost thought you weren't coming," she purred at him. Her tone was much different than it had been the night before. She seemed more confident, more in control this time than she had been in the club.

He shrugged. "I got lost."

As he slid into the seat across from her, a waitress approached and he ordered coffee.

Kristen cocked her head to the side and looked him up and down. "You look good," she said appreciatively. "Have you been working out?"

He blushed slightly, which amused her.

"Thanks, you too," he said not really knowing what to say to her compliment.

She smiled at him coyly.

"You don't look half bad for a someone who is supposed to be dead," he joked facetiously.

Her smile disappeared. "That wasn't me," she said and glanced away.

"Obviously not," Mulder quipped back. "Care to enlighten me as to who it was that actually died, who's body it was they found amongst the ruins and just how it is that you are alive and sitting here with me?"

"In time," she said coyly. "We've other things to discuss."

Mulder took note of every detail of her face as he waited for her to answer. Though there were only subtle changes to it from the last time he saw her, she still had the same piercing eyes. Her skin was paler but still porcelain smooth with lips that were fuller and much more vibrantly red.

Blood red, he thought.

He knew he could easily fall into her arms right then and there and make love to her all over again as he had that night. He tried to forget about that and focus on the reason why he had come.

"So, you said you wanted to talk to me, to warn me..." he began, stepping into his professional persona.

She laughed. "Always the investigator."

"That's why I'm here, or did you forget that?" he said.

"No," she answered him sweetly. "I haven't forgotten."

"You said you needed to warn me about Deacon Frost, so..." he said, as his coffee arrived. "...Warn me."

She clicked her tongue at him. "I don't remember you ever being quite so testy."

"Kristen, I know you didn't ask me here to reminisce," he said, his annoyance beginning to seep through a little. "If you have something to tell me, then you had better start talking. Otherwise, I'm leaving."

Why did she ask him here? To play some sort of mind game with him or was this meeting truly legit? He watched her lovely mouth change. She was pouting now, disappointed, that he wasn't playing along with her game of romantic cat and mouse.

"You're investigating the death of that girl whose body was found up in the hills?" she asked.

Her question caught him off-guard. He wasn't sure how or if he should answer. "What of it?"

"Stop," she said simply.

"Why?"

"Because.." she said. "It's dangerous. More dangerous than you could possibly know."

"Tell me why."

She looked away for a moment then turned back to him. "There's a group that exists; a secret group, more powerful than the Trinity ever was. A society of vampires that, if discovered, could spell disaster for anyone who gets too close."

"What makes them so dangerous, Kristen?" Mulder asked.

"They will kill anyone they feel is getting too close to finding out who they are. If they knew I was talking to you," she said, and then paused briefly. "They would kill me."

"How much do you know about the killer?"

"More than I ever wanted to," she said, sadly.

"So, what's Deacon's place in all this?" he asked her.

She said nothing, simply stared across the table at him, searching his eyes for understanding.

"Is Deacon the killer, Kristen?" he asked point-blank.

She hesitated a moment. "N-no."

Mulder stared her down. "You're lying."

"No, I'm not. I don't know if Deacon was the one who did this, but," she admitted. "Let's just say that if he did, he's someone you don't want to cross,"

"That sounds like the warning I was waiting for."

"It is," she said, nodding.

Mulder stared at her. "Is he one of the high ranking members of this group? Is that why he's so dangerous?"

"No," she shook her head. "Only a pureblood can be on the counsel. That much I know for sure. Deacon isn't a pureblood nor is he one for following the counsel's orders and rules. He likes to make up his own rules as he goes and it seems to work to his advantage. But still..."

"Still?"

"I know very little of where and how Deacon became a vampire because he doesn't talk about it. At least not with me, but that does not mean I haven't heard the others talk," she said.

"Then how does Deacon's position make him dangerous?" Mulder asked.

"What makes him so dangerous to know is that he and the group of followers he's amassed are planning a rebellion."

"When?" Mulder asked.

"I don't know," she confirmed.

"Does the counsel know about any of this?" he asked.

She snorted out a laugh. "Of course not. If they knew his plan, he would have been killed a long time ago."

Mulder nodded before she went on.

"Deacon has been doing some sort of research into vampire lore and religion. He's become absolutely obsessed with the legend of the blood god. Of course, he has to do all of his research in secret. If any of the counsel members get wind of his work, he's history."

Mulder laughed at the poor choice of words and then asked. "What sort of coup d'?tat is he planning?"

"I don't know," she said, "I just know it will happen sometime in the near future."

"How do you know he's going to do this for sure?" Mulder asked, channeling in his own version of Scully's skepticism.

"Because I've heard him talking with some of his partners about this.." she said, now becoming annoyed.

"Isn't Deacon on the counsel himself?"

"No, I told you. He isn't a pureblood," she said. "Only a pureblood can be on the counsel. That's what pisses him off. The fact that he isn't a pureblood is the main reason why they won't accept him. He IS powerful but in his own mind, it's not enough. He wants more. He wants the counsel to accept those who aren't of pureblood. He wants to bring the vampire race into the new millennium. He wants vampires to run the world. He thinks vampires are the stronger race and that mortals are beneath everyone else. Even the Lycans."

"Lycans?"

"Werewolves," she explained. "Ever see Silver Bullet?"

"Was never much into Stephen King," he said, and took a sip of his coffee. "So, how did you come to be in Deacon's... company?"

She looked away at his question. "After the fire, I lived on the streets for a while trying to pick up the pieces of what was left of my life. Not knowing what to do next, I went back to the club to seek out a friend of mine, to find out if there was work but I found Deacon instead. Or rather, Deacon found me."

Mulder listened to her intently.

"Deacon took me in and made me a part of his world. A world totally different from the one I had with the Trinity," she said.

"How so?" Mulder asked.

"The Trinity was nothing more than a few misguided souls who thought that by engaging in blood sports it made them vampires. Deacon showed me what it was to be a true vampire." With that, Kristen lifted her hair and pulled down her collar.

There, on her sleek neck, were two perfectly symmetrical white scars. An exact match to the marks Mulder had seen on Andrea's neck. Kristen let her hair fall back into place once more.

Mulder shrugged at her. "That proves nothing. Those could simply be scars from a cosmetic surgery to remove a couple of moles," he said, almost accusingly. "Or you could have made those marks yourself simply for show." He was tired of having to pull this charade of pretending he didn't believe, however, the need to ascertain whether or not she was telling the truth was more important to him so for the time being he would pretend to be a sceptic to get a rise out of her.

"You think I made these fucking marks myself?" she hissed through gritted teeth.

Mission accomplished, he thought to himself. "You could have," he said continuing the lie for a brief moment more. "It's not uncommon for a person to harm themselves in order to prove..." he trailed off as she interrupted him, he could drop his act and for nothing was he more grateful.

"You're a fool if you think I'd make any of this up and risk my life to come here and warn you," she spat back at him.

"Then why exactly did you come here?" he asked her. "To what advantage does it serve you to save my ass?"

Kristen stood up to leave, her face ablaze with anger, her eyes dark with fury. "Because I was in love with you at one time and seeing you again last night reminded me of that. A time of my life when I was able to actually feel love and not just pretend to feel it as I do now."

Mulder said nothing because he was shocked at her revelation; he hadn't any idea of the true depths of her feelings for him. He simply stared at her as her face began to soften once more.

She reached out and ran a cool fingertip down his cheek, then leaned down and kissed him fully on the mouth.

Her kiss was cool. It was a reminder to him of that night when they had made love and he had gleaned from her body the warmth and security he had sought so desperately at the time. His guilt-ridden loneliness for Scully was strong, but his need for female companionship was stronger.

Though Kristen was not who he had truly wanted at that time; she still had allowed him to use her as the vessel from which he sought his comfort, and like a drug she was the temporary fix he had needed. To her, though, he had been the man that had been chosen for her to kill but all that had changed once they had made love.

"I don't want to see you die," she whispered in his ear, her voice pleading with him.

"Your concern over my welfare is sweet," he scoffed at her. "But I'm still trying to get over the fact that you faked your own death and allowed everyone to believe you were dead."

"Yes, well," she blew off his obvious concern. "Things were done that needed to be done. I can't change my past deeds. I did what I needed to do in order to survive. I'm not expecting you to be happy about it nor do I care one way or the other."

His jaw tightened as her attitude angered him.

"But if you continue this investigation, you will," she continued. " ...and so will your pretty little partner... the one I know you truly love."

Mulder pulled back away from her as if burned. "If anything happens to Scully..." he seethed at her.

"...then stop looking for answers that will only bring you sorrow... and death," she said.

Mulder could not stand to be civil to her any longer. He reached out and grabbed Kristen's wrist, pulling her back to sit across from him once more. His actions caught the attention of their waitress as she walked by their table on her way to serve another customer. She gave them a curious glance but kept going.

"Just tell me what I need to know so I can stop--"

"You can't stop this," she interrupted him with a small chuckle. "Killing is all part of the vampire's cycle of life. A vampire needs to feed. He, or she, picks who they want to kill, takes what sustenance they need to survive and they move on. It's not personal. It has nothing to do with anything against the person that they chose. If that person dies, well then, C'est la vie. That girl? Andrea, did you say her name was? She was just simply someone's meal." Kristen said, a little too matter-of- factly for Mulder's taste.

"She was also someone's child. A young girl who didn't deserve to die in the way that she did," Mulder growled back.

Kristen shrugged her shoulders, a movement which angered Mulder even more. "As I said," she said nonchalantly. "C'est la vie."

Mulder wanted to reach out from across the table and slap her, but he knew better. His frustration was trying to get the better of him but he dampened it down as soon as it threatened to rise. He would not play her game here.

He glanced around to see if any of those eyes were watching him now. He had never hit a woman before and wasn't about to start. He felt instant shame for even thinking of doing such a thing.

If Kristen had been a man, of course he would have had her sprawled on the floor by now. Then again, Kristen was no ordinary woman. She was a cold-blooded killer now. Mulder wasn't quite sure what she was. Whatever he felt for her then was quickly changed by the charades she was playing with him now.

"I've thought of you often since I last saw you, did you know that?" she offered.

"I'm touched," he answered with a sarcastic lilt in his voice.

"I hoped you might be," she smiled and showed a hint of her white teeth.

"I'm tired of your games, Kristen," he said. "Just get to the point."

"I've told you all you need to know," she said glancing away from him and playing with her hair. "If you fail to heed my warning, then you'll die. It's that simple."

"I'll take my chances," he said, then blurted out: "Now, tell me who is Blade?"


CHAPTER NINE

At the mention of the name, Kristen froze. Her smile and all of her confidence instantly disappeared. "How do you---?"

"Let's just say, we've already met though we weren't formerly introduced."

Kristen regarded him with a cat-like stare of fear. "No one outside the vampire world, except a few, even knows who Blade is. How is it that you do?"

"Like I said, we've already met."

She said nothing.

"No one told me anything," he assured her and proceeded to tell her about his encounter. "But you obviously know who I'm talking about, so, why don't you just cut to the chase, Kristen and tell me all you know."

She shivered then, looking around nervously. "We call him 'The Day Walker'. He isn't human but he's also not a vampire either. He can be exposed to sunlight without being incinerated by it. He has all the physical strength of a pure vampire but with the emotional weaknesses of a human. He has the same thirst for blood as we do, but we know he tries to suppress it. He's killed almost as many vampires as we've killed humans. He's a constant threat to us all. Deacon has managed to escape from him once before, but that's about all I know."

"How can I find him?" Mulder asked her.

She shook her head at him and looked away.

"Y'know, I'm getting really bored here with your games," he hissed at her. "You need to tell me..." He reached out and grabbed her wrist again, this time his grip on her was much firmer than before. He hoped it made his point clear to her. "...NOW."

His action did not escape the notice of their waitress and looking dismayed, she approached them quickly. A burly man in a dirty apron and greasy T-shirt was coming up behind her.

"Mister, if you lay another hand on that little lady once more, not only will I be calling the police," she said sternly, thumbing in the direction of the man behind her. "but I'll be having Herman over here escort you out personally."

Mulder said nothing. He simply whipped out his badge and flashed it in the man's face.

"I don't care who you are," the waitress said, motioning towards the door. "But that's the way out and I suggest you start moving in that direction now."

Mulder didn't move.

"You heard the lady," said the burly man, giving Mulder a glimpse of the rather large carving knife he held concealed in the folds of his apron.

Mulder stood slowly, his eyes moving from the man, to the waitress and back to Kristen.

Kristen glared right back at him. "He's a killer," she answered back then she, too, stood up. "But he'll be where the prey is."

She leaned in close to him until she was mere inches from his lips. Mulder thought for a moment she might kiss him, but instead she whispered. "See you on the other side of hell, lover." and with that she walked with a sultry strut towards the door.

"Don't count on it," he called after her.

She stopped to turn back and face him. Her hand came up and she blew a kiss in his direction before she disappeared into the dark cloak of night.


Mulder mulled over everything Kristen had told him at their meeting as he drove back to the motel. It left his head swimming with new and disturbing information. So much so that he felt a migraine coming on. All he wanted now was a hot shower and a nice warm bed.

Though more beautiful than he remembered, she had not been what he had thought she was. He surmised that his memory of their brief time together had been muted; tainted for the most part with his own lustful thoughts of their one-night stand and the love they had made that night three years ago.

He recalled the image of her in his mind. How she had moved, fitting in him, like glove to hand. How she had brought him off so fiercely that he thought his cock would literally explode. It had been a long time since he had had an orgasm like that. She had been an amazing lover.

Now her eyes were as cold as her skin and she seemed so heartless when she spoke of the dead girl now too. That part of their conversation angered Mulder still and he gripped the steering wheel more tightly as he drove down through the mountains and back towards the city's limits.

In spite of their tense meeting, Kristen had given him only a few clues to work with. Yet he knew he had one more person to question before he could do anything further: Detective Bruce Evans.


Scully would never admit how much it bothered her but she really hated it when Mulder went off by himself to interview suspects or to handle investigations without her. She didn't like how she felt worrying about his safety.

As she dressed for bed, she pondered over Mulder's words; what he had told her about his relationship with this Kristen woman.

She had never given it much thought before, the idea of him making love to someone, it just seemed so odd to her. Especially since she had never seen or heard about him dating anyone in all the time that they'd been working together. She didn't like to count the Phoebe Green encounter because there had been nothing going on outside of a brief kiss.

She quickly shook that vision out of her mind.

Mulder did not strike her as the type to settle down with a wife and kids. His dedication to the X-Files seemed so deeply ingrained that it was as though he were already married to the job. A tragedy to be sure and a disappointment felt by the majority of the single female population all over the Hoover building.

Nevertheless, Mulder seemed to be blissfully unaware of his effect on women, it did not seem to bother him at all. So why should it bother her? She once had jokingly mentioned it to him about the love-lorn ladies who cast admiring glances his way, but he simply shrugged it off and gave her a rather embarrassed lop-sided kind of grin.

"Must be something in the water," he had quipped.

She never mentioned that topic of conversation again.

As she slipped into her pajamas, the silky fabric caressing her skin, made the fine hairs on her arms bristle. She shivered and chastened herself for the sudden image of her partner in an intimate embrace not with another woman but with herself. How school girlish could she be? She was not about to start filling her head with romantic images of him. He was her partner for God's sake! However, he was handsome and could even be irresistibly charming when he would argue with her. This fact never escaped her notice.

As she slipped between the bed-sheets, her heart gave a sudden little jump as she suddenly heard the click of the lock to the front door of Mulder's room adjoining hers. She paused, listening.

Her heart beat wildly as she heard him going about the room. The soft noise of his coat being thrown somewhere: most likely onto the armchair in the corner. The hard thump of his shoes being kicked off one by one. There was a moment of silence before the noise of the television suddenly came on.

She debated whether to get out of bed and go talk to him but then she didn't have to as he was already tapping lightly on the adjoining door to her room.

"Scully?" he called from his side of the door, "Are you still awake?"

She slipped out from under the sheets. "Just a minute," she called out to him.

She scooped up her bathrobe from the foot of the bed and quickly wrapped herself in it before opening the connecting door.

He stood there in the doorway looking very tired, but seemed anxious to talk. It was a bit of a shame it would be about the case, she thought to herself. Then again, what else could they possibly talk about?

He entered her room and went over to the bed, settling himself comfortably upon it.

"So, how did your meeting with Kristen go?" she asked, almost stumbling to say her name.

"Exhausting," he answered back with a yawn, "but interesting."

"Was she at all helpful?" she said.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, she was," he said. "She gave me some very interesting information on not only about Blade but also a possible suspect named Deacon Frost."

"Who is Deacon Frost?" she asked.

"A person of extreme interest to this case," he said.

She came over to the bed and sat down on its edge; waiting for him to go on. He finally did.

"Deacon may be our killer."

Her breath caught in her throat at this statement and she stared at him in disbelief at having a possible suspect so quickly. "Are you sure?" she was finally able to ask.

He nodded. "Yes, but we have to proceed with caution since Kristen said that Deacon is a dangerous man. More dangerous because he is a man with an agenda."

"What sort of agenda?" she asked.

"It involves a power struggle between him and the vampire counsel."

She stopped then and shook her head. "What? Wait a minute...'vampire counsel'? Mulder, what are you talking about?" she asked but he kept on undeterred.

"I may be able to find Blade but I need to talk to this Detective Bruce Evans first," he continued.

"Bruce Evans..." Scully said absently, her head still swimming with the words 'vampire counsel'.

"Yeah, apparently he's some sort of expert on and what Blade is," Mulder said.

"And what exactly is Blade supposed to be?" she asked.

Mulder suddenly looked uncomfortable just then. "He's half vampire, half human."

Scully looked at him as if he had just grown horns. "Half vampire..." she repeated incredulously.

"Yes," he said but added quickly, "but a good vampire."

Scully shook her head slowly at him. "Mulder..." she began.

"I know what you're going to say," he said, quickly cutting her off. "'There are no such things as vampires', but trust me. It's true."

She said nothing.

"They really do exist," he said, trying to reassure himself as much as her.

She stood up then and started pacing the room. "Mulder, are you kidding me?" She gave a small laugh, then said: "This is almost as bad as the whole aliens conspiracy thing. Vampires? Actually living in this day and age? Walking around amongst us? I'm sorry but not only is it ludicrous, but I just have to draw that line in the sand right here."

Ever the skeptic, he thought with a smile. "Well, Hollywood isn't that far from here," he teased, as he sat up on the bed. "Look," he sighed, "I know. This isn't the kind of thing that the average person would believe, but Kristen said--"

She rolled her eyes at him. "And I suppose Kristen believes in vampires, too?" she asked, with a bit more sarcasm than she had intended.

Mulder frowned. "As a matter of fact," he countered. "She does." He paused before adding. "She is."

Scully made a face, snorting her disgust as she looked away from him. She ran her fingers through her hair before turning back to face him. "I don't believe you just said that to me."

"Said what?"

"Mulder, this is a murder investigation. It is not an X file case and I really resent that you are treating it as such," she said, calmly.

"It IS an X-File case."

"How so? Because your ex-girlfriend says that vampires exist? Because she tells you that she is one? For God's sake, Mulder! You're becoming---" She stopped short before she said what she was thinking.

"Becoming what, Scully? Obsessed like with my sister?" he countered. "That's really low, even for you."

She rubbed at her forehead tiredly and sighed. An uncomfortable silence descended over the room.

He came to her then and gently touched her shoulders. "Look, I'm sorry. It's late. You're tired. I'm tired. I really think this is a conversation best held at a time when we aren't likely to snipe at each other anymore, okay?" he said, softly.

"Fine."

He let go of her and headed for the door to his room. "I'll see you in the morning."

It IS morning, she thought to herself.

He paused a moment, long enough to say 'good night' to her before he closed the adjoining door softly.

She felt horrible and it suddenly occurred to her that she may have intermittently influenced Mulder to rethink his decision to ever confide in her about anything personal ever again.

"Dammit," she fumed to herself.


CHAPTER TEN

Los Angeles County Police Department
June 13, 1997 9:49 a.m.

When Mulder asked Scully to accompany him to the police station, she did so without a word. However, her silent treatment on the drive over did not go unnoticed by her equally muted partner.

She was still silently mulling over last night's conversation in her head and she came to realize he must have been so hurt by her comments and maybe even a little insulted.

Her feelings of guilt for not having believed him had kept her awake the rest of the night as the thought of reduction of their once normal conversations to possibly only ever pertaining exclusively to work- related topics. She worried heavily the damage wreaked to their relationship now.

Meanwhile, Mulder had worried silently to himself that after having opened that door to his personal life she would see him as simply another typical male out looking for a one-night stand to get his rocks off when he needed it. This, of course, could not be further from the truth.

However, the thought still made it difficult for him to face himself in the mirror when he got up after a sleepless night. Her words may have cut him to the quick but there was a miniscule amount of truth in what she had said. Every murder investigation was not always an X-file waiting to be discovered and discounted.

Even as they climbed the steps to enter the building, Scully wanted to stop, grab him by the hand and tell him she was sorry for her harsh words. His long-legged strides had him at the front doors before she could utter a single word to him about it.

Mulder cared. God help him, he actually cared about what she thought of him. It scared him to know what she was actually thinking about him right now. He wanted to say something to her. He wanted to tell her how he was sorry but her stony silence was the barrier, which he was not about to break through right now.

As they entered the precinct's lobby, the female desk clerk noticed Mulder right away. He smiled at her as they approached the desk separated by a bulletproof glass partition.

"I was wondering if you could help me," Mulder asked the desk clerk as he flashed his badge at her.

"Certainly," she said as she gave him her full attention.

"I'm Fox Mulder and this is my partner, Dana Scully," he announced. "We're with the F.B.I."

"Yes, what can I do for you?" the clerk asked.

"We're looking for Detective Bruce Evans. Could you tell me where we might find him?" Mulder asked.

The desk clerk shook her head. "I'm sorry but Detective Evans has been on medical leave for the past eight months," she said.

Mulder looked at Scully who shrugged back.

"Do you happen to know how we might get in contact with him?" Mulder again asked politely.

"I think his address and phone number is still available here in the departmental directory. Hold on one second," she said and typed the information into her computer.

Mulder looked back at Scully and smiled at her.

"Here we go," the clerk said and she gave them the information, "2657 East Marshall Place."


CHAPTER ELEVEN

2657 East Marshall Place Residence of Detective Bruce Evans
June 13, 1997 11:09 a.m.

The quaint little house they pulled up in front of did not seem like the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. In fact, it seemed wildly out of place. The front yard was too immaculate and the house itself, at least from the outside, seemed too warm and inviting for its surroundings. Mulder mused that it reminded him of his parents' summer cottage in Massachusetts.

As they stepped up onto the front porch, the front door opened before Scully had a chance to ring the doorbell. A middle-aged man appeared behind the screen door. He was dressed in a pair of faded blue jeans and a short-sleeved sport shirt. His salt and pepper colored hair made Scully think of Jay Leno.

"Folks, whatever you're selling, I'm not buying, I've already been saved and my taxes have been paid," he said. "If you're running for Congress, I already gave at the office, so, please leave."

"Detective Bruce Evans?" Mulder asked.

"Yeah?" he answered a bit suspiciously.

Mulder and Scully showed their badges.

"May we speak with you?" Mulder asked, politely.

The screen door opened wider and the man stepped out onto the porch. "What's this about?" he asked.

"We need to ask you a few questions in regards to our investigation of the murder of Andrea Buchanan. I believe there's a chance you may have some information that could help us find her killer," Scully said.

Bruce shook his head at them. "I don't know anything about Andrea Buchanan's murder. I've been on medical leave for the past eight months so I don't know how I could possibly help you," he said regretfully.

"Medical leave?" Scully asked.

"Hurt in the line of duty chasing a fourteen-year-old high on crack. Slipped and fell and messed up my back," he explained to her. "They won't let me back to work until I'm one hundred percent."

"We need you to tell us what you know about a man who goes by the name of 'Blade'," Mulder said, cutting to the chase.

Bruce's facial expression changed in a flash. "Let's go inside," he said and held the screen door open for them to enter the house.

Bruce closed the front door securely behind him before guiding them into the living room. He motioned them to sit on the couch while he sat down opposite them in an armchair.

"So, does he have anything to do with this girl's death?" Bruce asked them.

"It's possible, but we won't know for sure until we talk to him about this directly," Mulder answered.

Bruce looked thoughtful for a moment. "He won't be easy to find. If anything, he would find you well before you found him."

"And how would he manage that?" Scully asked.

"Blade isn't exactly the most sociable guy. He only works at night and is only out for one thing," Bruce said.

"And what's that?" Mulder asked.

"The eradication of the whole vampire species infecting the population here in Los Angeles," Bruce said, matter-of-factly.

Mulder felt Scully shift uncomfortably beside him.

"Mr. Evans, I don't wish to be rude," she said, "but vampires?"

Bruce gave her a small smile before he began to speak. "I used to think that way, too, Miss Scully. Vampires were simply figments of the imagination. Stuff you would see on late night movie marathons on television or in a comic book or the like. But one night about six years ago while I was on patrol with my partner, I changed my mind."

Bruce got up and went over to a wall where awards and other memorabilia were displayed. He took down a framed photograph and handed it to Mulder.

"That was my partner back then. His name was Curtis Williams. Great guy. Funny as hell. Made us all laugh at the departmental Christmas parties and such," he told them, a bit wistfully.

Mulder passed the photograph to Scully who glanced at it then handed it back to Bruce.

"I couldn't have asked for a better partner if I had to choose one myself," Bruce said as he replaced the photograph carefully back on the wall. He looked at it sadly.

"What happened to him?" Mulder asked, gently.

"He was killed in the line of duty," he said, "or I should say, he was murdered."

"How?" Mulder asked.

"He was bitten by a vampire."

Now it was Scully's turn to twitch, a motion that was not unnoticed by Bruce.

"We had a call come in around 1:30 a.m. Simple domestic disturbance call. Nothing that we hadn't dealt with before, except that the location was this old abandoned warehouse down around the merchant district. We thought it was just a crank call at first, but we went to check it out anyway. I mean, that's our job, right?"

Mulder nodded at him in agreement.

"Curtis went in first while I covered him. We didn't see anything at first; too dark. But we heard what we thought was a woman screaming. We followed the noise until we got up to the fourth floor of the warehouse. "It was dark, what little light we has came from our flashlights and the streetlights outside but still."

Bruce paused and swallowed hard before continuing. "Whatever it was, it came out of the dark straight at us. It came hard and fast. Curtis barely had time to draw his weapon before it hit us a second time. It knocked my flashlight right out of my hand and sent me flying onto my back so hard; I saw a lot of stars. But it was what I saw next that... God! It was just so unbelievable ... so surreal!"

"What did you see?" Mulder prodded gently.

"I-I saw Curtis pointing his gun at this guy, telling him to 'stop' and 'put your hands up', but this guy didn't stop. Curtis warned him I don't know how many times that he would shoot if he didn't do what he was told, but this guy... this thing... it kept coming towards him. I remember Curtis firing three shots but he still kept coming at him. I figured he was hyped up on something so he didn't feel the bullets going into his body. Then suddenly Curtis was flying through the air like a rag doll. I reached for my gun and fired off a couple shots of my own until this guy turned his attention to me."

Mulder sat riveted to his seat as Bruce continued.

"I couldn't see his face at first but then suddenly he was just inches away from me, he smiled and I could see his teeth. He had two long sharp fangs on either side of his mouth. He grabbed me around the throat and actually lifted me up off the floor." Bruce chuckled then at the memory and said, "I'm no light-weight, Mr. Mulder, but I'm here to tell you that this guy lifted me with one hand about two feet off the ground!"

"What about Curtis?" Mulder asked.

"By that time, Curtis was back on his feet and was standing behind the guy with his piece stuck into his ear. The guy let me go and as I was reaching for my own weapon, he whipped around and grabbed Curtis by the throat. He said something, like, 'Cattle should never fight back!' and then he went straight for Curtis' neck!"

Bruce sat there, a stunned look on his face, as he remembered the horror he had witnessed. "I can still see this guy as if he were here right now with us biting into Curtis' neck. His neck!"

His voice cracked. He stopped to take a deep breath.

"I tried to jump him. Tried everything to bring him down anyway I could, but he wasn't letting go of Curtis. And Curtis is screaming at me 'get him off! get him off!' and I couldn't. This guy was locked onto Curtis like...I d-don't know...like some sort of leech. He wasn't letting go of Curtis for nothing. I could see blood all over Curtis' jacket. I grabbed a board that I found laying on the floor and started beating on this guy with it. Curtis was struggling like mad to get free and I'm trying to beat this guy to get him off...and it just wasn't happening.

Then, Curtis stopped screaming. In fact, he stopped struggling all together and just sort of went limp. It was like the fight in him got switched off. I still kept trying to get this guy off Curtis but he didn't let go."

"Mr. Evans, you don't need to tell us anymore..." Scully started to say.

"Yes, I do," he said, "I want you to know what happened."

"Then, by all means," Mulder said, sympathetically. "Continue...please."

"I don't know how long it was until this guy finally let Curtis go. I just remember seeing this look on Curtis' face. It wasn't fear or horror. It was like Curtis knew he was dead and just gave in to it. When this... monster was done, he just pitched Curtis' body aside like a rag doll and came after me. I was screaming Curtis' name, trying anything to get him to respond but he didn't move.

Then all of a sudden, I saw this figure appear out of nowhere. He was dressed all in black leather and had this samurai sword in his hand and without any warning; the two of them started fighting each other. No words. No conversation. Nothing. It was odd. But what was weird is that they acted as though they knew each other.

They fought for a while until Curtis' attacker gave up and just ran or flew away or...something...I don't remember how he disappeared, he just did."

"And Curtis?" Mulder asked.

"I already had him up in my arms by then, but I could tell he was already dead." Bruce said. He looked away and stared out the front window.

"From excessive blood loss," Scully offered.

"That isn't what killed him," Bruce said, giving her a hard look, which made her blush sheepishly.

"Then what killed him?" Mulder asked.

"A vampire," Bruce said defiantly.

Scully was silent as Mulder nodded his understanding at Bruce.

"I didn't know anything about vampires, except what I saw on television or read in comic books as a kid," Bruce said. "I didn't know they were actually real. But I got quite an education from that day forward."

"I'm very sorry for your loss, Mr. Evans," Mulder said, "Truly."

"Thank you, Mr. Mulder."

"So, tell me," Mulder said. "How is that you and Blade became friends then?"

"I wouldn't exactly say we're friends," Bruce said, "we're more like...soldiers fighting the same war; except I was reluctantly recruited into all this by accidental circumstances. It took the death of my partner to get me involved in this crusade of Blade's. Though I'm not working the front lines as he is, but we came to an understanding whereas sharing information was concerned."

"How so?" Mulder asked.

"Blade would contact me if he heard word on the street about vampire movements or possible suspects to any unexplained murder investigations. He'd give me tips on where to investigate, who I should question, places to check out that were suspicious... things like that."

"So, if a body turned up with excessive blood loss and no traces of blood anywhere..." Scully began.

"Then I knew it was a vampire killing," Bruce answered. "As for Blade... He's been a big help to me, but he's also been a thorn in the side within the department. He's helped me on several cases involving unsolved murders, but it's come at a price to my career."

Mulder smiled and glanced over at Scully. "Believe me when I say, Mr. Evans, I can relate to that statement," he said.

"In more ways than one," Scully quipped.

"Look, I'm no expert, Mr. Mulder," Bruce said. "But I can tell you that there are some strange things that can't be explained away. If you don't know about the vampires, how are you supposed to write an incident report? Or even if you do know about them, how can you include it without coming across like some sort of nut job?"

Scully snickered.

"Again, Mr. Evans," Mulder said, "I can relate to all that you've just said. In my experience, I've had to investigate some pretty outrageous things and my superiors don't exactly like my reports anymore than your superiors like yours, I'm sure. But the fact remains, Blade holds the key to finding the killer or killers of these two girls, so we really need to talk to him. If there is any way we can get in contact with Blade, I'd very much appreciate the help."

"I can't make any promises, but I can try an old friend of mine to see if it's possible," Bruce said. "Blade doesn't exactly like to be bothered, if you know what I mean."

"How soon can you arrange a meeting?" Mulder asked.

"Three, perhaps four days. If I can, I'll try and do it in two but, like I said, I make no promises," Bruce replied, without hesitation. "He's not exactly the easiest person to track down. He moves around a lot."

"Well, I know you'll do what you can," Mulder said, and pulled out his business card from his wallet, handing it to Bruce who took it with an approving nod. "You can reach me on my cell-phone at anytime, so please call me when you've made contact with him."

"I'll do my best." He said, taking the card. Then he stood up and showed them to the door.

Mulder turned and held out his hand. "Thank you for your time, Mr. Evans. We appreciate your help in this matter."

"No problem," he said. "Oh, one more thing, Mr. Mulder..."

"Yes?"

"How much do you know about vampires?" Bruce asked.

"Believe it or not, I have some expertise, why do you ask?"

"No reason. I was just curious, is all."

"Well, again, thank you for your help," Mulder said and walked towards the car where Scully was already awaiting him.

Bruce stood on his front porch and watched as the two F.B.I. agents started their car and drove away. He watched their car as it disappeared down the street before he went inside.

He walked over to his telephone and dialed a number long since memorized. He waited patiently until it was finally answered.

"Hey, it's me," he said. "I just had two FBI agents here asking me a bunch of questions about Blade."

His face changed with the tone of the conversation and he frowned. "I don't know! They said it has to do with that girl's body found up in the Hills. They're part of the investigation now..." he paused listening and then continued. "I didn't tell them everything. I just told them about Curtis. I didn't go into any detail about Blade... I know...I know, but they're going to want to hear it all from the man himself."

His frown deepened as he listened to the person on the other end and then said: "Look, I know the risks, but which is the lesser of two evils? Them knowing everything or them not knowing and finding out the hard way when one of them is bitten and turns? They just want answers to help them find out who killed that girl... What the hell was I supposed to say? They're F.B.I., for God sake! Besides, they're already aware of the bloodsuckers anyway. The male FBI agent had a run-in with one of them himself and Blade showed up!

Peggy was working that night he came to get checked out and she overheard them talking in the exam room. She told me she heard them start arguing and he said Blade's name!"

He sighed in relief. "Good." Then he said. "Then I'll call them back and let them know the time and place" before stopping to listen again. "Fine," he finally answered and hung up.

Bruce let out a long breath. He cursed the day he found out about Blade and the vampire underworld. "This shit is going to be the death of me yet," he murmured before flopping down in his chair and flipping on the television in search of a baseball game to watch.


CHAPTER TWELVE

"So, what did you think?" Mulder asked as he drove.

She shrugged. "What am I supposed to think?"

"I don't know," Mulder said. "Do you think he was telling us the truth?"

"He seemed to believe that what he was telling us was the truth," she said.

"You don't believe him?" Mulder asked.

"It doesn't matter what I believe," she said. "What matters is if he stays true to his word and he's able to help us find Andrea's killer," she said.

"Doesn't this seem at all strange to you?" he asked her after a long period of silence.

"Strange as opposed to other X-File cases we've investigated?" she mused.

"Don't you think Mr. Evans was being TOO 'helpful'?" Mulder asked her. "I mean, how many cops do you know that are so willing to discuss the death of their partner so openly with total strangers as he did," he said.

She sighed. "Mulder, I don't find that strange at all. I believe it was most likely therapeutic for him to talk about it; even with us. Besides, with all that he experienced in witnessing his partner's brutal death, he obviously is still suffering from a case Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I think you're reading far too much into this. You seem to be misinterpreting his helpfulness for something else."

"You mean paranoia," he offered.

"No," she countered then added. "Not necessarily."

"You still don't believe me, do you?" he asked her, changing the subject.

"I didn't say that" she said quietly, looking out the window at the passing traffic.

"But you were thinking it though," he said, a hint of disappointment in his voice.

"Mulder," she said, visibly annoyed now. "Whether or not I believe in the existence of vampires is not the issue here. It's a matter of people thinking they are real without any solid proof and that they use this as an excuse for justifiable homicide and then this becomes their alibi. 'Oh, I'm a vampire and I can't help myself.' It's a crock, Mulder. Pure and simple."

Mulder was quiet as she continued. "When innocent civilians like Andrea and Jennifer are killed for no reason other than they're being used like pawns in this sick game of life and death... or whatever this is...it just proves..." She stopped, her emotions taking over, and turned to look away out the window.

"It just proves that people are more willing to believe in something imaginary instead of what's right in front of them," he finished her thought aloud.

Without warning, Mulder suddenly pulled the car over to the side of the road. He placed it in park then turned to face her, his face was soft and his tone was gentle.

"Scully," he said. "I know that this case is hard for you but I don't want you to feel that I don't take the deaths of these two girls seriously or that I view this as just another X-File case because it's not."

She sniffed.

"I just want to help," he said.

She looked directly at him with a hint of wet lashes. "Then help by not treating this as though it WERE 'another X-Files case'. I KNEW this girl. She meant something to me, okay? She was special. Do you understand?"

He reached over and brushed her cheek again softly with the back of his hand. "I'm sorry." Deep down in her heart, she knew he meant it.


When they returned to the motel, Mulder went to his room to check for phone messages. She, meanwhile, headed to her own room to wash her face.

When he finished, he knocked at the adjoining door. "Hey, Scully," he called out. "You are not going to believe this."

She let him into her room. He went over and sat down on the edge of her bed. He was smiling as he showed her a piece of paper that he had written on.

"Guess who wants to see us? Come on, guess, you won't in a million years believe it!"

She shook her head. "I have no idea," she answered, wearily.

"Troy Butters!" he exclaimed.

She raised her brows at him in surprise. "Did he say why?"

"Nope," Mulder said and walked over to pick up his jacket off the armchair where he had thrown it moments before.

"Does his father know?" she asked.

"I don't think so."

She gave him a suspicious look. "Well, two red flags that make me think twice about talking to him: number one is his father and number two is his father's attorney."

"Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?" Mulder teased.

She shot him a disapproving look.

He put his arm atop both her shoulders. "C'mon, Scully, it'll be fine."

"Famous last words," she said. "What time are we supposed to meet him?"

Looking at his wristwatch, Mulder replied: "Right now. Let's go."

They left the motel room and headed straight to the lobby. As they walked through the lobby's glass doors, Troy was already sitting there waiting for them.

"Mr. Mulder? Miss Scully?" he said as he spotted them.

"Hello, Troy," Mulder answered him as he shook hands with the boy.

Troy looked around nervously then asked, "Could we go somewhere else? Some place a bit more private?"

Scully glanced at Mulder.

"Sure, our rooms are just a few doors down from here," Mulder said, then led the way outside and back towards their temporary accommodations.

There was no reason to believe anyone knew Troy was there, but someone did know and that someone was watching very carefully as the tall, dark-haired FBI agent showed the boy and his red-headed partner into a motel room and then closed the door behind them.


CHAPTER THIRTEEN

 

Troy paced nervously as he looked first at Mulder and then at Scully.

"Okay," Mulder said casually, "You called us to talk and you asked for someplace private, so, what else can we do for you?"

"I need to know..." Troy said sheepishly, "I need to know what happened to Andrea."

"You do realize that by simply being here you could get us into a lot of trouble with your father," Scully interrupted.

Troy nodded. "I know," he said. "I'm sorry. He was just trying to protect me. But I still want to know what happened to her."

He sat down on the corner of Mulder's bed. Elbows on his knees, he folded his hands before him. "How did Andrea die?"

"We really can't discuss any details of this case with you, Troy, I'm sorry," Scully said.

"She was murdered," he pressed. "Wasn't she?"

Mulder regarded the boy for a moment then answered the boy's question in spite of the stern look Scully threw him. "Yes, we believe that she was."

"It was a vampire," he said, "Right?"

The question itself startled Mulder and the look on his face confirmed what Troy had already known. Nevertheless, Mulder decided to err on the side of caution to see how much the boy actually knew.

"Do you think they exist?" Mulder asked calmly, testing the boy's knowledge.

"Yes, Mr. Mulder, they DO," Troy said.

"How do you know?" Mulder asked.

"Because my dad does business with them."

Now it was Scully's turn to look startled. "Your father does business with vampires?" she asked.

Troy took a deep breath before he further explained: "There's a group of vampires that has this underground network. They're pretty rich and are in some of the most successful businesses around L.A. Real tight-knit group of people. Very secretive, too. My dad sometimes goes out in the middle of the night to meet them for business dinners and such, but only at night. Never during the day."

"And you know this for sure?" Mulder asked.

Troy nodded. "I found out by accident right after Andrea broke up with me and I think she was probably killed by the one of them who does a shitload of business with my dad."

"Why would they want to kill Andrea?" Scully asked. "For what reason?"

Troy shrugged. "Dunno, maybe to hurt me so it would hurt my Dad?"

"I don't think---" Scully began before Mulder interrupted.

"Do you happen to know this person's name?" he asked.

Troy nodded. "Yeah, his name is Deacon Frost."

They listened carefully as Troy told them all that he knew.

"My father isn't the most honest man, but I know he didn't have anything to do with Andrea's death. He isn't a murderer." Troy insisted. "But Deacon? Yeah, he just seems the type."

"Why?" Scully asked.

Troy shrugged again. "He just does. It's like he has this VIBE...like he's killed before and that in order to make people do what he wants them to, he'll kill their loved ones to get them to do it."

"So, you believe that's what happened to Andrea?" Mulder asked.

Troy nodded. "Yeah, I do."

Mulder felt a pang of sympathy, knowing his own father's history of deceit, and he smiled gently at the boy knowing that this boy loved his father as much as Mulder had loved his own.

"Well, thank you for the information, Troy," Mulder said. "I think that will help us."

Relief spread over his face, Troy said: "You're welcome. I feel better knowing that you'll do all that you can to put that scumbag behind bars." Troy stood up to leave, then stopped. "Hey, I'm really sorry about how my dad spoke to you guys at Andrea's funeral."

"It's all right, Troy," Mulder said, as he escorted the boy to the door. "We're used to it." "Yeah, ever since the divorce, he's been hell- bent on getting closer to me, trying to do 'father & son' stuff as well as doing family stuff with me and my step-sister, Jennifer."

Suddenly a light flipped on in Mulder's brain. "Wait, you have a step-sister named Jennifer?" he asked trying to keep his voice calm.

Troy nodded. "Yeah, I do. Why do you ask?"

Scully looked at Mulder. Another piece of the puzzle falling into its proper place.

"Oh, I just wasn't aware that you had any other siblings."

"Yeah, she's sixteen, same age as Andrea was. In fact, they shared a couple of the same classes," Troy explained. "She was pretty torn up when she heard about Andrea's death."

"Do you think maybe we could speak with her? Since your dad just about had us fired from the F.B.I. for talking to you," Mulder said.

"Well, I don't know," Troy said, uncomfortably. "I mean, she took off to her grandmother's right after the funeral and I haven't heard from her in a week. I could e- mail her though and ask her if she would talk to you."

"I think calling her might be better," Mulder said. "Just don't let your father know what you're doing. Use a pay phone, not your home phone."

"Cool," Troy said. "I'll call her tonight. I won't tell my Dad I talked to her."

"That would be great," Mulder said.

"No, problem," Troy smiled.

"Well, thanks again for allowing us to talk to you," Mulder said.

"You bet," Troy said as Mulder ushered him out the door.

When the door shut, Mulder turned to Scully and gave her a subtle smirk.

"Jennifer is Troy's SISTER," he said. "Wow."

"Maybe Jennifer is the one who had something to do with Andrea and Troy breaking up," Scully offered.

"Too bad we can't ask her," Mulder said. "Here I thought she was just a grieving classmate."

"Interesting little twist to things, isn't it?" Scully quipped.

Mulder chuckled under his breath. "NOW do you believe me?"

"Mulder," she said. "I can't say for sure exactly WHAT it is that I believe right now. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that your informant is Troy's step-sister and is right this moment lying in the county morgue."

"I had no idea to what extent this vampire cult had been established. It seems to be widespread through all sorts of high-ranking positions within the city," Mulder said.

"Cult??" she spat. "You make it sound as though it's real."

"Because it IS," he said.

"All this talk of vampires just seems to be a way of frightening people. Toe the line and do as your told or die," she spewed angrily.

"Scully, you disappointment me sometimes," he commented.

She stopped pacing long enough to flash him a 'don't-toy-with-me' look. "It's a sick form of intimidation, Mulder," she said. "These people are no better than, say, the Mafia, with their scare tactics and other such nonsense."

"You're just saying that without substantial evidence to the contrary, you aren't going to believe in vampires until you see good solid proof," he said gruffly. "Yeah, I get it."

His tone made her take a step back in their conversation. He was hurt and she knew she had done that to him. She knew she was being too close-minded, but all of this was too much to accept.

She took a deep breath before she spoke. "All I'm saying is that we need to be especially cautious right now. We don't know exactly what type of people these are other than they seem to present themselves as vampires. Other than that, what else do we really know?"

He chuffed under his breath, then added: "We still need to talk to Blade."

"How?" she asked.

"Don't worry," he assured her. "He'll take care of it."

"How?" she asked. "If you're depending on Mr. Evans to call you with the information on a meeting place, how do you know he won't be setting you up?"

"Because I trust him."

She looked at him incredulously. "Are you out of your mind?"

"What?" he asked, confused.

"Mulder, weren't you listening to Troy just now? You can't approach these... people."

"Scully, if this guy, Blade, can help us, then we should talk to him."

"It's not--it doesn't feel right," she said. "This whole thing doesn't feel right to me. It's too dangerous."

"Scully, we've faced worse things before and this is no different," he frowned at her now. "Besides, I want to be able to tell your friend we arrested her daughter's killer."

"Not like this," she said shaking her head at him.

"We're getting close to solving this," he reasoned.

"How so? Because everyone we have spoken to seems to have been so helpful in giving us such useful information? Because they all seem to be so cooperative?" she said, now becoming truly annoyed with him. "Doesn't that strike you as even remotely ODD, Mulder? That everyone seems to be so helpful to this investigation? WHY are they being so helpful? What's in it for them?"

"Scully..." he started.

"No, Mulder. Think about it. Something doesn't feel right about this investigation and I think we need to be more than just cautious. We need to handle this with kid gloves because I feel there's something just not right here."

"What's not right about it?" he asked her pointedly.

"I-I don't know," she said. "I can't quite put my finger to it. But everything about this just feels WRONG somehow."

"Woman's intuition?" he quipped.

She made a sour face at him. "Don't be cute."

"What are you trying to say, Scully? That I'm not being careful?" he fumed.

"No," she fired back at him. "No, I don't believe that you are being careful."

They stopped, eyeing each other angrily. She was surprised by his tone; he by her accusation.

The phone suddenly rang.

"Mulder." He barked into the receiver.

"Mr. Mulder."

The male voice on the other end was deep and husky. Mulder blanched as he realized to whom he was speaking to. "You're a hard man to locate Mr. Blade."

Mulder glanced over at Scully. She said nothing, tiptoeing over to listen quietly to their phone conversation. She heard the growling voice as it answered Mulder. "Just Blade," it said.

"All right then...Blade." Mulder agreed.

"You and I need to have a conversation. Meet me at the old playground on the far side of the city near the old docking piers. Know the place I mean?"

"I'll find it," Mulder answered.

"And leave your little partner behind."

"What if she wants to join us?" Mulder asked.

"I'm not into threesomes."

"That's not very gentlemanly of you," Mulder quipped as he gave her a quick glance.

"If she shows, the meeting is cancelled."

Mulder nodded as though the caller could see him through the phone line. "Fine."

"She'll have her own little get-together to attend. Tell her to go to..." Blade said, giving Mulder the information.

"Why?" Mulder asked.

"It'll be much more interesting for her than our own t?te-?-t?te," Blade said, then hung up without another word.

Scully pulled away and stood there staring, unhappily, with her arms crossed firmly across her chest.

"Well, I'll be having a nice cozy chat, Mono E. Mono, with our mystery man," he said.

"So it would seem," she said.

"But don't worry, you've got your own date," he teased.

She crooked her brow and frowned. "With who?"


CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Warehouse District Outside Los Angeles City Limits
4:35 p.m.

As Scully turned down the deserted street, dilapidated buildings that once housed goods from all over the world, sat like empty giants of broken glass and crumbling concrete. Now only seagulls and pigeons called these structures home.

She kept one hand on the steering wheel as she glanced down once again to the scrap of paper Mulder had given her with the hurriedly scribbled directions to the location as well as the name of the person she was to meet.

AVENUE C OLD T.D.C. BUILDING WHISTLER

She must have been out of her mind to agree to this. Nevertheless, she drove on until she found the building she needed. She pulled up to the building and parked the car.

Cautiously, she exited the vehicle, her gun at the ready. She looked around, listening for any sound, any movement, that might indicate she was not alone. She made her way over to a door with a sign that read EMPLOYEES ONLY and reached for the handle. Giving it a careful turn, it opened with a loud squeak and she entered the building. Once inside, she allowed her eyes to adjust.

The building was vast; void of anything except small piles of broken glass and concrete floors that were thick with a fine dust. Her footsteps kicked up tiny clouds of dirt and they echoed loudly as she walked.

Mulder had told her that a man named Whistler would be waiting for her inside the building, but she saw no one and no indication that anyone other than herself was there within the building.

She trained her eyes to every corner and every shadow but she saw nothing. Nothing except for the sun's rays bathing the interior with its warmth and light.

"Miss Scully?"

A gravelly voice reverberated from all around her. She whirled towards the sound, her gun pointed in front of her, ready to fire.

A grizzled-looking old man stood there a few feet from her. He held his hands up for her to see that he was unarmed. He looked like a member of a motorcycle gang dressed as he was in black leather pants, dirty denim jacket and heavy black motorcycle boots. He had a leg brace from thigh to calf on his left leg and shuffled as he walked slowly towards her.

"Whoa! Whoa! I'm not going to hurt you so put the gun down," he said.

Scully kept it trained on him. "Who are you?"

"The name's Whistler. Abraham Whistler. Blade sent me," he said.

As she lowered her gun, he dropped his hands in unison with her movement. She holstered her gun, tentatively approaching him, and extended her hand. "Special Agent Dana Scully," she said as he shook it.

"Blade mentioned two feds were investigating the deaths of the Buchanan and Barnard girls."

"That information hasn't been publicly released yet," Scully said. "Can you elaborate?"

"Blade had been tracking that very same bloodsucker for the past four weeks. He's the true killer. Blade had no idea the girl was his intended victim though until he got there too late to save her life. He said that was when he met your partner, Mulder... rather 'informally'." He explained.

"Yes, well, your friend, Blade, 'decapitated' Miss Barnard rather brutally," she said, a hint of distaste in her voice.

"Believe it or not, Blade saved her," Whistler explained, matter-of-factly.

"How exactly do you...?"

"Because she was already infected. She would've become a vampire within twenty-four hours and she would've been out there feeding like the rest of them."

"And cutting off her head was a way of 'saving' her?"

"The 'only' way."

Scully paused, and then asked: "So, tell me exactly how Blade fits into this picture? How is it that he just happened to be tracking this... person at the same time my partner was to meet and speak to Jennifer Barnard and why couldn't Blade stop this him from killing her?"

"How much time do you think you've got, Miss Scully?" he grinned.

"That all depends on how long it takes for you to answer my questions," she said.

"Then you'd better come with me," Whistler said, "We need a safer place than this to talk."

"And why is that?"

"Because the sun is setting and they'll be coming out to feed soon. You want to stick around here and be their next meal?"

Scully shook her head. "Just for the record, I don't believe in vampires, Mr. Whistler."

Whistler chuckled and gave her a smile that reminded her of her father. The kind of smile she used to get when she had asked Ahab one too many questions. That smile quietly said, 'I love you but you're driving me in the direction of crazy'.

"Well, we could stay here and allow them to prove you wrong, or you can trust me and go someplace safe," Whistler said.

Scully felt torn. Stay and risk her life against an unknown and possibly unmatched enemy? Or leave with this stranger and maybe save her life...or perhaps further endanger it.

"I have my own car. I'll just follow you," she said and allowed him to lead the way out.

"That's fine," he said and exited the building with her following closely behind. "You made a wise choice, Miss Scully."

Did I? She thought to herself.

Abraham Whistler was so used to Blade's bull-headed stubbornness that it came as a bit of a shock to him when Scully agreed to come along without much argument.

She seemed to be a smart little lady and with her red-hair she reminded him a great deal of his deceased wife. Whistler allowed a small smile to graze his lips for only a moment at her memory. She and his two young daughters had died brutally years before.

The building he led her to was at the far end of another street lined with more abandoned warehouses. Like their meeting place had been, the building Whistler stopped before was empty; a derelict version from the outside of a once grand concrete structure that in its day must have been bustling with activity inside.

He parked the car in front of a large hanger-like doorway and got out. When he strode towards her, she rolled her window down slightly.

"When I open the door, wait until I've pulled through. I'll signal you and then you pull in right behind me," he said.

"What if I prefer to park out front here?" she said.

He leaned against her car and looked her straight in the eye. "Miss Scully, this isn't exactly the type of neighborhood for a young lady such as yourself to be drawing attention. Be a good girl and do as I say?" He said, using that same tone again; the one that reminder her so much of Ahab.

She nodded in agreement and waited until he gave her the signal to pull her car inside the massive structure.

Once she had done so, Whistler used a lever to slide the enormous steel door closed. At it did, it shut with a loud metallic clang. He then went over and punched a couple of buttons on what looked like a state of the art security system.

Scully felt like a rock had been dropped into her stomach from twenty stories above. If she had wanted to leave, it would be impossible to do so now.

Whistler signaled to her and she cautiously exited her car. She followed him as he led her through a maze of hallways and one precarious walkway. Whistler had brought her into the hub of an arsenal. Technology that rivaled even the most sophisticated homegrown system caught her eye and weapons of all kinds were hanging everywhere on the walls.

There were weapons the likes of which she had never seen before and she was quite sure were in all likelihood extremely illegal.

"Are you expecting World War III?" she asked, trying to mask her fear with her sarcasm.

Whistler grinned. "If you go to war, you don't want to use a pea shooter to fight your enemy."

"These aren't exactly pea shooters, Mr. Whistler," she said. "Are they?"

"No, they aren't."

She stared at the wall of weapons for a long while before he spoke to her again.

"Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"Yes," she answered politely. "Thank you."

"Black all right with you?"

"Cream and sugar, please," she said.

"Sorry, I'm fresh out of cream," he apologized.

"Sugar will be fine then," she replied.

She scoped the room from where she stood, close to the doorway, taking in everything with an aura of disbelief. What had Mulder gotten her mixed up with? It was like a bad dream.

Whistler returned a few minutes later carrying two mugs and handed her one.

"Here, let's go sit in the office over here," he said and guided her into another room.

The 'office' had been converted into a living room of sorts with a dilapidated couch and two sad-looking chairs. A desk and another chair covered with more computer equipment sat in the far corner and there was a small television set sitting on the floor closest to the couch.

Scully looked around. "Cozy."

Whistler motioned her to sit down. "We're not much for luxury around here. Luxury is something we don't ever take for granted," he explained.

She chose one of the two spare chairs and sat down. There was a brief pause as she sipped her coffee. "So, Mr. Whistler..." She began but was soon interrupted.

"No, no, not Mister," he corrected her. "Just call me Whistler."

"Sorry. Whistler," she smiled nervously at him. "Tell me what you know about the person that killed Jennifer Barnard and how is it that Blade happened to be there at the time that she was killed?"

Whistler took a sip of his coffee before answering her. "I can tell you that what killed that girl was not human."

He continued after a brief pause to take another sip of coffee. "The vampire that killed that little girl is named Broland. We know he's a kiss-ass little bastard that has connections to some of the members of the vampire high counsel. We've been tracking him for a while, he has a taste for young girls. When we saw in the papers that a young girl had been murdered and dumped in the hills, we figured Broland was on the prowl. We watched a few of his favorite places to hunt. We checked a few other things out and learned about the Buchanan girl's death. It wasn't until just a few days ago we got the information from an informant about the Barnard girl."

"The information on the Barnard girl hasn't been released to the public yet, so you must have a contact within the law enforcement. Am I right in assuming?" she asked him pointedly.

"We never reveal our sources, Miss Scully," he said with a small grin.

"Well, let me just take a wild guess here," she said, pointedly. "Bruce Evans?"

Whistler sipped his coffee again. "You do good detective work, Miss Scully," he said.

"So, he's your contact on the inside," she continued, "He gives you all the information on these supposed vampire activities and you and Blade take the law into your own hands. How am I doing so far?"

"It's true that he does give us useful information, but as for taking the law into our own hands, that isn't the right way to look at it."

"Oh? And how is it that you justify your friend's killing of innocent people with a sword. Not to mention that well-stocked arsenal you have in the other room that you so blatantly parade before all of your houseguests," she said, annoyance creeping into her voice.

Whistler was unbelievably calm with her questioning and sipped his coffee once more, draining the mug.

"Miss Scully, whether you know it or not, there is a war going on that not even our own government is aware of and neither are the rest of the American people or the world for that matter. This war is an ancient war that has spanned the centuries and will continue until every last blood-sucking vampire has been wiped clean from the face of the earth."

His matter-of-fact tone, though harsh, was so calm that Scully felt as though he were speaking to her about the day's weather. She could do nothing more than stare at him for a moment as she collected her thoughts.

"You don't have to tell me about unknown wars that our government doesn't know about. In my experience, the government is fully aware of such wars. They just deny everything." She countered.

A tense pause hung heavy in the air only temporarily interrupting their conversation before she changed the subject.

"So, where does Blade fit into all of this?" she asked.


CHAPTER FIFTEEN

 

"Blade is a walking anomaly." Whistler said frankly.

"What do you mean?" she asked, puzzled.

"Blade was born half-human, half-vampire," he said, "He's what the vampire world calls a 'day-walker'."

She huffed out a breath of air; impressing upon Whistler that she didn't believe his statement.

"All right," she smiled at him with a hint of contention. "So, tell me how is it that Blade became a vampire? I know the fictitious stories from classic literature and the old Hollywood movies. Once you're bitten by another vampire, you become one. So, tell me how did Blade become one?"

Whistler scratched at his stubbled chin for a moment before he answered. "Blade's mother was a waitress. She used to work the night shift down at this little diner not far from here. A place I used to frequent after I got off of work. I'd get a hot meal and head on home. I didn't know her personally but I saw her working there. She waited on me from time to time. 'Til one night a vampire attacked her while she was on her way home from work.

She was nine months pregnant with Blade at the time of the attack. The assault started her labor and she died at the hospital. Somehow, though, Blade lived. They delivered him by emergency C-section and nobody even knew that from the moment he was born, he was a vampire.

He spent most of his first years in the hospital for what the doctors thought was a severe anemic disorder. Social Services put him with a foster family but by age eight; he had run away from the foster home and was living on the streets. I happened to cross paths with him one night when I stopped to change a flat tire on my truck. He tried to attack me, tried to bite me and that's when I realized what he was."

Scully sat and listened; fascinated, by what he had just told her.

While the man seemed to be telling her the truth as he lived it, she had no real reason to doubt his sincerity. The skeptical part of her was dismissing the whole thing as pure bullshit because of the outlandish natures of his claims. The more rational side of her brain countered that Whistler might have an ulterior motive here; to protect Blade for some reason she couldn't ascertain.

She thought of all the times she had politely listened to Mulder's wild theories of explanation and irrational hypothesis. However, Whistler's voice had somehow soothed away her disbelief and she asked the one question she wanted to know the true answer to: "Do you believe in the existence of vampires?"

"I didn't use to," he said, his voice softening slightly.

He looked away for a moment then turned back to look at her. His eyes held a distant sadness that she had only seen one time with Mulder. She was amazed by the similarity.

"Then what makes you believe now?" she asked.

"A couple of years ago, this man... a drifter... came knocking on my door during a black out. He seemed like a decent enough fellow. Young. He wasn't a druggie or anything like that, but his demeanor sure changed once I let him come into my house. Before I knew what was happening, he had overpowered me, tied me up, along with my wife and two young daughters."

She gasped at the mention of a family. He paused only for a moment before he continued with his story.

"He played with them, y'know, tortured them before he killed them. He made me watch while he did it... one by one... drinking their blood. I managed to get away but there was nothing I could do to save my family."

Scully sat there in stunned silence. There were no words for her to say, except "I-I'm sorry, I had no idea..."

He stood up, his empty coffee mug in hand. "I've made peace with myself long ago and realized that at the time there was nothing I could have done to save them. I didn't have the tools that I have now. Besides, he would've killed me, too, in spite of any efforts on my part to try and save them."

He walked over to a small kitchenette where he rinsed out the mug and left it in the sink.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry..." she began, still shocked by his revelation but knowing that as upsetting as they had been, and as distressing as his personal life was, it was also a part of her job to delve into his private life.

"Look, I don't normally go around telling people my life's story, but you asked, so, I told you. I've had time to get over my loss but in Blade's case, he hasn't. For him, it's personal."

"But he's killing innocent people in the process," she reasoned.

"That's where you're wrong, Miss Scully." His tone became harsh and stern once more. "There is nothing innocent about these creatures. These are cold-blooded killers and they don't give a damn about you or me or your partner or anyone else out there. We are nothing but food to them. Just like cattle are bred for human consumption, they think of us as their cattle. They'd just as soon cut us down with no more thought than if you were killing a mosquito."

Whistler's reasoning could not be misconstrued as the crazy musings of an embittered old man hardened by life. Scully clearly saw that his reasons for their actions were that of two men on a mission to eradicate a parasitic species that threatened to endanger all of humanity. All the same that didn't mean that she believed in it totally.

She gave him a gentle smile before asking, "So, how is it that you kill them?"

He smiled back at her, genuinely pleased. "The movies weren't lying about the garlic, silver bullets or the old wooden stake through the heart. However, modern technology has given us the ability to actually improve upon those old remedies. Updated weapons that are much more sophisticated... and more lethal. Come with me and I'll show you what I mean."

He led her back into the room where the arsenal of weapons sat at-the-ready. He walked over to a metallic shelf and picked up a large menacing-looking rifle.

"You see this?" He cocked the weapon. "This is just like a regular semi-automatic high- powered rifle, except for one thing..."

He removed the cartridge and handed her the cartridge. She looked at the bullets inside. Shrugging, she handed it back to him.

"What are they?" she asked.

He popped out a single bullet and handed it to her. She examined it more closely.

"Silver bullets." he said, matter-of-factly. "Pretty, aren't they?"

She nodded. "Expensive, too."

He reloaded the cartridge, cocked it and laid the weapon back on the shelf ready to be fired. "We only use them as a last resort or special occasions."

She ignored his teasing and asked. "Are all of these weapons loaded with the same type of 'ammo'?"

"No, some of these weapons fire off bullets made out of wood. The others fire off a garlic and silver nitrate filled bullet that explodes on impact. I toyed around with a lot of gun designs over the years and each time I got better results when the guns were actually fired. Some of these are mock-ups of my own design. I experimented over the years until I got the desired effect."

"I'm assuming that accuracy is all important," she said.

"It's a determination of who lives or dies, Miss Scully," he said.

She didn't know what it was about this man but there was a vulnerability to him that she identified with in a small way. The losses he suffered of his wife and young daughters brought back the memories of her own losses. He had touched a spot on her heart and she felt it was okay now to relax and lower her guard a little. She felt strangely safe with him. "Dana," she said. "Call me Dana."

He looked at her questioningly for a moment; not quite sure of what to make of her change in heart from professional law enforcement officer to this polite young lady before him, but he smiled. "All right," he said, "Dana, it is."

Scully picked up another weapon that was lying on a nearby worktable, checked the safety on it then aimed it at the far back wall.

"Would you like to try it out for size?" he asked.

She shook her head and laid the gun back down on the table carefully. "No, thanks."

He reached over and covered the gun with a piece of torn terrycloth.

"So, does anyone else know about your secret clubhouse here?"

"Never had any problems before," he said, looking around the room. "But there is a state-of-the-art security system with motion detectors just in case anyone decides to drop in unexpectedly for tea and cookies."

She smiled at his joke. "So, then we're relatively safe here."

"Not quite as safe as Fort Knox but safer than your local jail cell."

"Well, that's good to know."

"Don't let it give you a false sense of security."

The voice was not Whistler's. It was a deeper and less congenial tone.

"Blade, I was wondering when you'd be getting back." Whistler acknowledged the now audible footfalls behind her. She turned to see a large figure all in black approaching followed closely behind by Mulder.

"Yeah, Scully," Mulder said, with a teasing lilt in his voice. "Your virtue may be safe for now but..."

She gave him a look that made him think twice about finishing that sentence. She purposefully changed the subject. "Whistler has been giving me quite a tour ... and an education," she said, with a nod in his direction.

Mulder shook Whistler's hand. "I've heard a lot about you from Blade, Mr. Whistler." Mulder then turned his attention to her again. "Scully, I'd like to introduce you to the infamous Blade."

Blade looked down at her from behind his dark sunglasses. She stared back up at him in awe of his rather menacing appearance. Blade said nothing; he simply turned away from her with a disgusted curl to his upper lip and walked towards the office. His silent departure left an uncomfortable silence for the rest of them until Mulder spoke up.

"Blade has been filling me in on a possible suspect that could be Andrea's killer," he told her.

"Broland, right?" she said.

"Yeah, how did you...?" he started to ask her but she cut him off.

"Whistler told me," She said, "He also told me that Blade had been tracking him the same night that you were to meet Jennifer."

Mulder seemed a little disappointed that she knew some of these facts before he had an opportunity to tell her them himself.

She saw his disappointment, and decided not to say anything more in spite of herself.

"Well, did you also know that Broland is Deacon Frost's right hand man?" Mulder asked her.

"No, I didn't," she said, this time her surprise was genuine. "Isn't Deacon Frost the man you said was Kristen's boyfriend?"

Mulder felt a little embarrassed but nodded.

"So, Deacon's got himself a new girl," Whistler said.

"More like a 'Flavor of the Month'," Blade's distant reply came.

"What do you mean by 'Flavor of the Month'?" Mulder asked.

"What he means is that Deacon goes through women like Elizabeth Taylor goes through husbands," Whistler said with a chuckle as Blade approached them.

"Are you saying he could break up with her at any time?" Scully asked.

"No, he'll simply kill her if she pisses him off enough," Blade said flatly.

Mulder's spine stiffened. "And for what reason, exactly, would he justify killing her?"

"Boredom," Whistler said. "Who knows? It could be anything."

Blade brushed past Mulder, barely grazing his shoulder as he did.

"He won't need a reason," Blade said, "It could be he won't like her perfume, or maybe he saw her checking out another bloodsucker. If Frost doesn't trust someone, he'll kill them. End of story."

Mulder suddenly realized his meeting with Kristen might have put her in danger. Had she been followed? He hoped not. "So, you're saying if Deacon Frost felt Kristen was, say, meeting with someone else, he'd kill her?"

Scully looked over at him questioningly.

"If he felt even in the slightest that she was doing something she knew was wrong, yeah, he would have her killed," Whistler said.

"Shit," Mulder mumbled.

Scully glanced quickly over at Blade then back at Mulder. "You didn't know, Mulder," she said, quietly.

"Didn't know what?" Blade asked, with a suspicious growl.

"I met with Kristen at a diner a few nights ago. I wanted to talk to her about our investigation, just to see what she knew, if there was anything she could tell me about a possible suspect," Mulder admitted.

"You know her?" Whistler exclaimed in surprise.

"Yeah," Mulder nodded. "I know her."

"How do you know her?" Blade demanded.

Mulder suddenly felt his face flush with embarrassment at having to admit his past. He looked down at his feet for a moment, glanced over at Scully then faced Blade's accusing eyes. "She was a witness in an investigation...a couple of years ago. We got a little too personal..." He trailed off letting the implications of his acquaintance with Kristen hang in the air.

They stared at him.

"I didn't know about any of this until I met her the other night, quite by accident, at the club." Mulder explained.

"Deacon would have been with her," Whistler said.

Mulder nodded. "Yeah, he was. She pretended not to know me, but I could tell that she recognized me. She never said a word to Deacon though. After I left the club, she called my cell phone and set up a time and place to meet."

"How did she get your cell phone number?" Scully asked.

"I gave it to Deacon," Mulder said.

"What?!" she exclaimed.

"They don't know I'm an F.B.I. agent. I told him I was a coffee salesman. He asked for my business card. I told him I ran out and he told me to write it down on a napkin."

"So, you did," Scully spat.

"Holy shit," Whistler mumbled.

"I didn't know she'd actually use it!" Mulder argued.

"I don't believe this," Scully fumed.

"What did she tell you?" Whistler asked.

Scully looked over at Mulder questioningly.

"She said I looked good after all these years," Mulder said sarcastically, his anger at them apparent. He didn't like the fact that he had to justify and defend himself at the same time when he hadn't felt that he had done anything wrong.

A look of disbelief came to Blade's face.

"She also said that Deacon wasn't the type of person I should go around investigating and that I should just let the deaths of these girls go as unsolved."

Scully's jaw stiffened.

"What else did she say?" Blade asked.

"She said that if I... we... continued with the investigation; if we got too close to finding out who they truly are, they would kill me." He looked over at Scully. "And anyone else who happens to be helping me."

Scully said nothing.

"She's telling the truth, you know," Whistler said. "Deacon Frost isn't the only one who'll kill to protect their underground world..."

"... That's why they count on the mortal belief that vampires are simply a fairy tale made up from old legends or they think of some glamorous Hollywood monster made up by some ham actor for the silver screen. They count on those two reasons to keep their secret safe. Any real proof that they truly exist and they'll make sure that whomever knows that truth will pay the price with death." Mulder agreed.

"And that's what makes me so popular," Blade quipped.

"Enough!" Scully interrupted. "I really don't care about their world. I only care about finding the bastard who killed Andrea and Jennifer and that bastard is out there right now still roaming around scot-free. I want the monster that killed these two innocent girls."

They all looked at her, shocked. Her once demure self was gone and had been replaced by the determined, but angry, women before them.

Mulder had only ever heard that tone of hers once before, but he recognized it all too well. She meant business and this was the same 'kick-ass' Scully he fantasized about. He liked it when she got her Irish up and it was definitely up and running the New York City marathon.

Blade was not impressed and simply raised a curious brow at her.

"Then let's do it," Mulder said. "Let's go after them."


CHAPTER SIXTEEN

The building he led her to was at the far end of another street lined with more abandoned warehouses. Like their meeting place had been, the building Whistler stopped before was empty; a derelict version from the outside of a once grand concrete structure that in its day must have been bustling with activity inside.

He parked the car in front of a large hanger- like doorway and got out. When he strode towards her, she rolled her window down slightly.

"When I open the door, wait until I've pulled through. I'll signal you and then you pull in right behind me," he said.

"What if I prefer to park out front here?" she said.

He leaned against her car and looked her straight in the eye. "Miss Scully, this isn't exactly the type of neighborhood for a young lady such as yourself to be drawing attention. Be a good girl and do as I say?" He said, using that same tone again; the one that reminder her so much of Ahab.

She nodded in agreement and waited until he gave her the signal to pull her car inside the massive structure.

Once she had done so, Whistler used a lever to slide the enormous steel door closed. At it did, it shut with a loud metallic clang. He then went over and punched a couple of buttons on what looked like a state of the art security system.

Scully felt like a rock had been dropped into her stomach from twenty stories above. If she had wanted to leave, it would be impossible to do so now.

Whistler signaled to her and she cautiously exited her car. She followed him as he led her through a maze of hallways and one precarious walkway. Whistler had brought her into the hub of an arsenal. Technology that rivaled even the most sophisticated homegrown system caught her eye and weapons of all kinds were hanging everywhere on the walls.

There were weapons the likes of which she had never seen before and she was quite sure were in all likelihood extremely illegal.

"Are you expecting World War III?" she asked, trying to mask her fear with her sarcasm.

Whistler grinned. "If you go to war, you don't want to use a pea shooter to fight your enemy."

"These aren't exactly pea shooters, Mr. Whistler," she said. "Are they?"

"No, they aren't."

She stared at the wall of weapons for a long while before he spoke to her again.

"Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"Yes," she answered politely. "Thank you."

"Black all right with you?"

"Cream and sugar, please," she said.

"Sorry, I'm fresh out of cream," he apologized.

"Sugar will be fine then," she replied.

She scoped the room from where she stood, close to the doorway, taking in everything with an aura of disbelief. What had Mulder gotten her mixed up with? It was like a bad dream.

Whistler returned a few minutes later carrying two mugs and handed her one.

"Here, let's go sit in the office over here," he said and guided her into another room.

The 'office' had been converted into a living room of sorts with a dilapidated couch and two sad-looking chairs. A desk and another chair covered with more computer equipment sat in the far corner and there was a small television set sitting on the floor closest to the couch.

Scully looked around. "Cozy."

Whistler motioned her to sit down. "We're not much for luxury around here. Luxury is something we don't ever take for granted," he explained.

She chose one of the two spare chairs and sat down. There was a brief pause as she sipped her coffee. "So, Mr. Whistler..." She began but was soon interrupted.

"No, no, not Mister," he corrected her. "Just call me Whistler."

"Sorry. Whistler," she smiled nervously at him. "Tell me what you know about the person that killed Jennifer Barnard and how is it that Blade happened to be there at the time that she was killed?"

Whistler took a sip of his coffee before answering her. "I can tell you that what killed that girl was not human."

He continued after a brief pause to take another sip of coffee. "The vampire that killed that little girl is named Broland. We know he's a kiss-ass little bastard that has connections to some of the members of the vampire high counsel. We've been tracking him for a while, he has a taste for young girls. When we saw in the papers that a young girl had been murdered and dumped in the hills, we figured Broland was on the prowl. We watched a few of his favorite places to hunt. We checked a few other things out and learned about the Buchanan girl's death. It wasn't until just a few days ago we got the information from an informant about the Barnard girl."

"The information on the Barnard girl hasn't been released to the public yet, so you must have a contact within the law enforcement. Am I right in assuming?" she asked him pointedly.

"We never reveal our sources, Miss Scully," he said with a small grin.

"Well, let me just take a wild guess here," she said, pointedly. "Bruce Evans?"

Whistler sipped his coffee again. "You do good detective work, Miss Scully," he said.

"So, he's your contact on the inside," she continued, "He gives you all the information on these supposed vampire activities and you and Blade take the law into your own hands. How am I doing so far?"

"It's true that he does give us useful information, but as for taking the law into our own hands, that isn't the right way to look at it."

"Oh? And how is it that you justify your friend's killing of innocent people with a sword. Not to mention that well-stocked arsenal you have in the other room that you so blatantly parade before all of your houseguests," she said, annoyance creeping into her voice.

Whistler was unbelievably calm with her questioning and sipped his coffee once more, draining the mug.

"Miss Scully, whether you know it or not, there is a war going on that not even our own government is aware of and neither are the rest of the American people or the world for that matter. This war is an ancient war that has spanned the centuries and will continue until every last blood-sucking vampire has been wiped clean from the face of the earth."

His matter-of-fact tone, though harsh, was so calm that Scully felt as though he were speaking to her about the day's weather. She could do nothing more than stare at him for a moment as she collected her thoughts.

"You don't have to tell me about unknown wars that our government doesn't know about. In my experience, the government is fully aware of such wars. They just deny everything." She countered.

A tense pause hung heavy in the air only temporarily interrupting their conversation before she changed the subject.

"So, where does Blade fit into all of this?" she asked.

"Blade is a walking anomaly." Whistler said frankly.

"What do you mean?" she asked, puzzled.

"Blade was born half-human, half-vampire," he said, "He's what the vampire world calls a 'day-walker'."

She huffed out a breath of air; impressing upon Whistler that she didn't believe his statement.

"All right." She smiled at him with a hint of contention. "So, tell me how is it that Blade became a vampire? I know the fictitious stories from classic literature and the old Hollywood movies. Once you're bitten by another vampire, you become one. So, tell me how did Blade become one?"

Whistler scratched at his stubbled chin for a moment before he answered. "Blade's mother was a waitress. She used to work the night shift down at this little diner not far from here. A place I used to frequent after I got off of work. I'd get a hot meal and head on home. I didn't know her personally but I saw her working there. She waited on me from time to time. 'Til one night a vampire attacked her while she was on her way home from work.

She was nine months pregnant with Blade at the time of the attack. The assault started her labor and she died at the hospital. Somehow, though, Blade lived. They delivered him by emergency C-section and nobody even knew that from the moment he was born, he was a vampire.

He spent most of his first years in the hospital for what the doctors thought was a severe anemic disorder. Social Services put him with a foster family but by age eight; he had run away from the foster home and was living on the streets. I happened to cross paths with him one night when I stopped to change a flat tire on my truck. He tried to attack me, tried to bite me and that's when I realized what he was."

Scully sat and listened; fascinated, by what he had just told her.

While the man seemed to be telling her the truth as he lived it, she had no real reason to doubt his sincerity. The skeptical part of her was dismissing the whole thing as pure bullshit because of the outlandish natures of his claims. The more rational side of her brain countered that Whistler might have an ulterior motive here; to protect Blade for some reason she couldn't ascertain.

She thought of all the times she had politely listened to Mulder's wild theories of explanation and irrational hypothesis. However, Whistler's voice had somehow soothed away her disbelief and she asked the one question she wanted to know the true answer to: "Do you believe in the existence of vampires?"

"I didn't use to," he said, his voice softening slightly.

He looked away for a moment then turned back to look at her. His eyes held a distant sadness that she had only seen one time with Mulder. She was amazed by the similarity.

"Then what makes you believe now?" she asked.

"A couple of years ago, this man... a drifter... came knocking on my door during a black out. He seemed like a decent enough fellow. Young. He wasn't a druggie or anything like that, but his demeanor sure changed once I let him come into my house. Before I knew what was happening, he had overpowered me, tied me up, along with my wife and two young daughters."

She gasped at the mention of a family. He paused only for a moment before he continued with his story.

"He played with them, y'know, tortured them before he killed them. He made me watch while he did it... one by one... drinking their blood. I managed to get away but there was nothing I could do to save my family."

Scully sat there in stunned silence. There were no words for her to say, except "I-I'm sorry, I had no idea..."

He stood up, his empty coffee mug in hand. "I've made peace with myself long ago and realized that at the time there was nothing I could have done to save them. I didn't have the tools that I have now. Besides, he would've killed me, too, in spite of any efforts on my part to try and save them."

He walked over to a small kitchenette where he rinsed out the mug and left it in the sink.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry..." she began, still shocked by his revelation but knowing that as upsetting as they had been, and as distressing as his personal life was, it was also a part of her job to delve into his private life.

"Look, I don't normally go around telling people my life's story, but you asked, so, I told you. I've had time to get over my loss but in Blade's case, he hasn't. For him, it's personal."

"But he's killing innocent people in the process," she reasoned.

"That's where you're wrong, Miss Scully." His tone became harsh and stern once more. "There is nothing innocent about these creatures. These are cold-blooded killers and they don't give a damn about you or me or your partner or anyone else out there. We are nothing but food to them. Just like cattle are bred for human consumption, they think of us as their cattle. They'd just as soon cut us down with no more thought than if you were killing a mosquito."

Whistler's reasoning could not be misconstrued as the crazy musings of an embittered old man hardened by life. Scully clearly saw that his reasons for their actions were that of two men on a mission to eradicate a parasitic species that threatened to endanger all of humanity. All the same that didn't mean that she believed in it totally.

She gave him a gentle smile before asking, "So, how is it that you kill them?"


CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

"Right," Blade said, sarcastically, "let's NOT."

Whistler said. "You still have no idea who you're messing with, Mr. Mulder."

"I think you have that a bit backwards," Mulder said.

Scully stepped forward, standing her ground, and looked Blade square in the eye. "I am prepared to do whatever it takes to get this guy."

"I don't doubt that, Dana," Whistler said. She turned to look at him. "And it's not that we doubt your capacity as an F.B.I. officer to fire upon a suspect, but these things are FAST. I'm talking lightning speed here. You and your partner aren't as quick on the draw as Blade is."

Scully's nostrils were flaring now. Mulder knew she was seriously pissed off. She felt insulted. He had to say something to defuse this before it turned ugly.

"Look, I know you guys have been fighting these things for a long time but trust me when I say that we DO have the experience for this sort of thing," Mulder said in her defense.

"No," Blade growled back.

"We can't be held responsible for you if something happens," Whistler said.

"I'm a big girl," Scully growled back. "I can assure you that both Mulder and I are fully trained for this type of situation."

Blade could see that she was not going to back down. He had learned a long time ago not to try and understand women. Her stubbornness was too much for his patience to tolerate and he could see that Scully was not going to quit until she got her way. He turned to Mulder. "If she comes, she's your responsibility," Blade said, disapprovingly.

"Of course." He wanted to finish with 'she always has been' but after he glanced over at her and saw the expression on her face, he thought the better of it and neither of them said another word any further.

"Then let's get a plan together so we know how we're going to do this." Whistler said.


"Club Tepes" Los Angeles, CA. June 14, 1997 12:19 a.m.

Scully's wardrobe had never been sexier than it was tonight and Mulder could not help but notice how her clothes accentuated her otherwise hidden figure. Her normal work wardrobe had never shown this womanly side of her in quite the same way as this sexy little number had. In fact, he was inclined to say that her work wardrobe was a little frumpy at times.

As uncomfortable for her to wear as it was, it didn't stop Mulder from staring at the swell of her breasts beneath the tight fabric of her spandex top and the curved lines of her waist. The fullness of her lips shone more brightly due to the color of lip gloss and the brightness of her eyes accentuated by the extra mascara that she wore.

Blade had told them that in order to infiltrate the nightclub without any problems; Scully would be the one to dress the part in their quest of finding Deacon Frost.

"She's our best bet," Blade had said.

Mulder had shaken his head vehemently in protest. "No, I've been in there already. I know the layout. Let me go."

"You're already known to Frost. He'll only be more suspicious if you show up again," Whistler cautioned.

Scully had said nothing.

"Your partner is the better decoy," Blade said.

"I'm not willing to put her up as bait just so you can catch this psycho," Mulder growled at him.

Scully sighed. "It'll be fine, Mulder," she assured him. "I'LL be fine."

He had pulled her aside; away from the two men to whisper his concerns to her. "No," he said, "it's not fine and I'm not going to take another chance losing you again."

"Mulder..." she had started to protest.

"Scully, please..." he had begged her to reconsider.

Blade lost his patience quickly. "Then stay behind. You'll be dead weight to me anyhow." He started to walk away towards the door.

Mulder relented. "Can you guarantee her safety?"

"Yes," Whistler had answered; a lie though he knew.

"No," Mulder demanded, "I want to hear it from Blade." Mulder turned to face him, staring cold into his face. "Can you guarantee her safety?"

Blade stopped at the door and turned. "I won't answer that because I don't know," he said.

Mulder bristled again in anger.

"But, if any blood sucker tries to put the moves on her, I'll guarantee you they won't ever have a second chance to touch her again."


Being a woman did not always guarantee that you knew how to properly dress to attract a man's attention. However, Scully knew exactly what she was doing and did so in a way that made Mulder's jaw drop.

She had managed to fill out a pair of tight leather pants and a thin spandex top. A little bit of heavy makeup to enhance her blue eyes and a brush and tease brought out the highlights in her red hair. She was good to go. She was a pretty, single girl out on the town going dancing at her favorite club.

Mulder had wanted so badly to reach out and grab a handful of those luscious auburn locks and bury his nose in the softness but kept his hands firmly at his sides.

Before she was to enter Club Tepes, Whistler made sure Scully was properly armed.

Not only was she wired to hear Whistler's instructions from a small earpiece that looked like a decorative piece of jewelry, but she was also carrying a small aerosol tube of silver nitrate that he had given to her to hide in her small evening bag disguised as a small can of hair spray. All she had to do was aim and fire off a small lethal stream at any vampire who got too close for comfort.

Not to mention the small gun tucked neatly into a leg holster strapped to her calf that was loaded with the silver bullets of Whistler's creation.

She was ready and entered the club with a confident stride and a coy smile, which she flashed at the door attendant who watched her appreciatively.

"I'm in," she had whispered into the hidden microphone.

"Good," Whistler had answered back. "Find yourself a table and park it."

"Okay," she said, quietly.

Moving through the crowd of bodies who gyrated to the beat of the song playing, she glanced upwards and saw the balcony where Mulder said he had been the other night with Frost and Kristen.

Cautiously she started up the stairs, ever watching the heads bobbing on the dance floor.

"Sorry, this section is closed." A deep voice declared.

The voice had startled her for a moment and she almost fell backwards down the whole flight of stairs. Quickly regaining her composure, she smiled up at the bouncer.

"I wasn't sure if the little girls' room was up here or not," she smiled coyly.

"It's downstairs, past the bar in the back," he answered her gruffly, nodding towards the downstairs.

"Thanks," she said, and with a flip of her hair, she began sauntering back down the way she had come.

The bouncer watched her as she made her way across the room and head in the direction of the restrooms. Then without a word, he glanced over at the barmaid, who locked eyes with his. She gave him a slight nod of her head and went to follow Scully.

Once inside the restroom, Scully's eyes scanned the room. She did a quick check of the toilet stalls before facing the mirror. She could see her face was flushed and tiny beads of sweat were forming at her forehead. She went to the sink and splashed a little water on her face, dabbing it off with a paper towel.

"This isn't going to work," she whispered into her microphone.

"Just calm down," Whistler said on the other end.

"I couldn't make it upstairs," she said, "there was a bouncer preventing me access."

"It's okay," Whistler said, "it just means that Deacon's there. That's good."

Suddenly the bathroom door creaked behind her.

She turned and slipped deftly into an empty stall. She clutched at the small aerosol can inside her evening bag. She listened as a sound of footfalls echoed through the bathroom. She peeked through the crack of the door and watched a girl approach the sinks. She wore the uniform of the barmaids and seemed to be checking out her makeup.

Scully watched as she ran fingers through her long dark hair, a glimpse of a small mark behind her left ear caught Scully's eye. From her vantage point, she couldn't make out exactly what it was; some sort of tattoo in hieroglyphics, perhaps? She tried to squint her eyes to see it more clearly.

The girl turned around suddenly, and looked in Scully's direction.

Panicked, Scully took a step backwards away from the stall's door and grabbed at the aerosol can.

In a split second, the door was wrenched open and the girl was standing there, inches from Scully's face with eyes glaring. In a flash, Scully found herself yanked out of the stall, her evening bag and the aerosol can skittered across the tile as the girl threw her across the floor.

Scully knew she had but one option and that was to reach for the gun hidden beneath her leather pant leg. She scrambled to get to it, but not before the girl grabbed hold of her and forced her up onto her feet, backing her up against the wall with an iron-clad grip around her neck.

Scully could feel her throat squeezing in and as the air being trapped in her lungs screamed for release, she tried to grab at anything to get the girl to let her go and tried once again to reach for the gun.

"No," she squeaked as she struggled to get away, but the girl's grip tightened further.

The girl smiled, baring a set of ivory fangs.

Scully's eyes widened in horror as the lighting in the bathroom began to darken around her.

Suddenly Scully fell to the floor. She was racked with a coughing fit as her lungs filled with sweet air once more. She looked up in time to see the girl's head melting away in glob of burning dead flesh and bone. Then as if set ablaze the rest of her body erupted into flame.

The girl turned into a cloud of ash and Scully watched as the remains floated gently down to the floor like snowfall.

When the ash cloud finally cleared, Scully looked up and saw another woman was standing there. She was holding the now spent aerosol can of silver nitrate.

"You must be either stupid or a fool to come here," she spat out at Scully.

Scully continued to cough as she struggled to stand. "Kristen?"

Hearing Scully say her name made Kristen stop.

"Dana."

"You know me?" Scully asked.

"I know you're Mulder's partner," she said, "the one he pined for while he was with me."

Scully frowned.

"You need to get out of here now before they come and find you here," Kristen told her.

Scully rubbed at her neck, now reddened with the deceased girl's finger marks, and stumbled towards the bathroom door.

"I'm here to..." Scully started to explain.

"I don't care why you're here, but you need to get out of here NOW."

Scully picked up her evening bag and stumbled for the door.

"Oh," Kristen said, "and one more thing..."

Scully stopped and turned to look at her.

Kristen smiled. "Tell Mulder and Blade I said 'hello'."

Scully gave her a strange look then pulled the door open and walked out into the thump, thump, thump of music in the club.

She pushed and shoved her way through the crowd as she made her way towards the front door, trying not to look as frightened as she felt.

Just as she came within a few feet of the exit, a heavy hand fell upon her small shoulder. She turned to look, hoping it was either Mulder or Blade coming to her rescue. Instead, she found herself staring up into the face of the very same bouncer who had shooed her away from the balcony earlier.

"You're not going anywhere," he said, his grip on her pressing harder into her flesh.

Trying to appear relaxed, so as not to raise any more suspicion, she gave him a smile. "Oh, I've had enough fun for one evening, thanks," she said, "Have to work tomorrow..."

"Someone wants to meet you," he said.

"I'm not into blind dates," she flipped back.

"You don't have a choice." He growled at her and guided her towards the direction of the balcony.


CHAPTER NINETEEN

"DAMMIT!" Mulder raged. "What do you mean you lost the transmission? What the hell happened?"

"The transmission cut out, I don't know, maybe she accidentally pulled the wire and disconnected it," Whistler said as he tried again to communicate with her.

"Or maybe your fucking equipment isn't worth a damn!" Mulder spat at him as he paced the floor.

Mulder wished Frohike, Byers and Langley were here to fix the problem. He knew that if they had been in charge, this would not be happening.

"Look, I don't know. Whatever it is, we can't go in there or we'll blow the whole operation," Whistler said, "She's a professional; she'll know how to get a message to us if she's in trouble. For now let's just sit tight and wait."

Mulder shook his head vehemently. "No ..."

Blade approached him, standing toe to toe with Mulder. "You need to calm down before you blow this for us all."

"Fuck you!" Mulder hissed.

In a flash, Mulder found himself on the floor, Blade's hand grasping him by the neck. Fangs bared, Blade tightened his grip slightly.

"Now you listen to me," he growled directly into Mulder's face. "You and your partner agreed to this. She knew the risk going in. If there IS a problem with her transmitter, us going in now will only jeopardize her life more. We have to wait for a sign if she is in trouble. Until then..."

Mulder tried to pry Blade's fingers away without success.

"...You need to RELAX," came Whistler's advice, finishing Blade's sentence.

Blade released Mulder and walked away.

"You don't understand," he said as he coughed air back into his lungs, "She was abducted once before and I just got her back. I'm not going to risk her being abducted again ... by anyone or anyTHING."

Blade said nothing.

"I asked you before if you could guarantee her safety..," Mulder said.

Blade still said nothing.

"If we go in there right now, can you honestly tell me that you can protect her?"

Blade remained silent.

"Answer me, goddamn you!"

Whistler glanced up at Blade.

"NO."


Scully walked cautiously up the steps to the balcony. Goose flesh prickled her skin as they came to the top of the staircase. The bouncer's hand was pressed firmly into her back as he escorted her to this private sitting area. At the top of the stairs, she could see a shadow of a man lounging on an over-stuffed chair.

He was young, twenty-something and his hair was a mop of messy locks with strands that fell in front of his eyes.

"Please," he said, "sit." He motioned to the other over-stuffed chair across from him.

Scully hesitated a moment before situating herself on the edge of the cushion carefully.

"I can't stay long," she said. "I've got to get home to feed my pet iguana, Fluffy."

He smiled at her, amused. "Patrice," he called out.

The server appeared from the shadows to stand beside his chair.

"Bring a drink for our lovely guest," he said, smoothly.

Scully held up her hand to the girl and smiled at her. "Thanks, but I never drink and drive."

He smirked at her comment. Patrice nodded, waiting, before Frost dismissed her with a wave of his hand.

"So, what brings you to my club, Miss ...?" he asked her.

"Green." Scully answered him with a lie. "Phoebe Green." She could not help but wonder why that particular name came to her as it did but it was the first one to pop into her head. She certainly was not about to give him her real name. Luckily for her, he seemed to buy it. He smiled.

"Beautiful name," he said, "but it doesn't suit you."

Scully felt another chill as he stared at her. The strands of hair in front of his eyes could not hide the iciness of his stare. She shivered and arched her brow before she turned to look over the dance floor below.

"Thank you," was all she could utter in a cool tone.

"No," he continued, "you look more like a Diana or perhaps a Deanna to me."

She could feel her palms start to sweat.

He continued to smile at her; a smile that not only made her uncomfortable but it made her skin crawl. His gaze was so odd. It was as if he was trying to pierce into the depths of her soul. She could not help but shiver again; this time, more visibly.

"Cold?" he asked, taking notice of her action.

"No," she lied, and then changed the subject. "So, can I ask who you are and why it is you wanted to see me?"

"I saw you from afar," he began, "I've always had a soft spot for sexy little redheads."

"I'm flattered," she said flatly.

"You should be," he said, confidently. "You have no idea the company your in."

"Well, it isn't as if you and I were formally introduced," she quipped.

"Frost," he said, quickly. "Deacon Frost."

Scully nodded in acknowledgement.

"So, you never answered my question."

"Which was?" she asked.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, and then lit a cigarette, blowing a bluish cloud in her direction.

Scully leaned back against the chair, squaring her shoulders and said, "I'm simply here to have a good time."

"Why here?" he asked a bit more directly.

"Why not?" she replied just as directly.

"This club caters to a special clientele. You don't fit into that category," he said.

"Fine, I can leave," she said, as she stood up.

"I don't think so," he said, as Patrice returned with a tall glass of red, red wine.

"Well, I'm certainly not going to stay someplace where I'm unwelcome," she said.

"Oh, you're welcome," he said, as he picked up the glass of wine. "You're VERY welcome; just not in the way that you think."

"And what way is that exactly?" she said, suddenly afraid.

"Your welcome here as my prey," he said, taking a long drag from the cigarette. "... And as bait."

"Really," she said, trying not to show how she was growing more frightened as he spoke.

"I find it very funny that Blade would send you when he knows full well that it's one of the stupidest moves he could have made."

Scully's blood turned cold the moment he said the name, but she kept her composure. "Blade?" she said, feigning ignorance. "I don't understand what you mean. Are you talking about some sort of knife or something?"

"Don't play games with me," Deacon said, showing his sudden annoyance. He took a drink from his wine glass before continuing: "The mere fact that you exposed yourself by killing one of my girls..."

Scully could hear her heart pounding in her ears. The situation had reached critical mass and she now prayed for salvation. "I-I don't know what you're talking about. I didn't kill anyone..." she began.

She never saw him move and she never had a chance to react.

In an instant, she was flying across the room hitting the far wall, hard. She dropped to the floor with a heavy thud, seeing stars.

"One thing I can't stand," came Deacon's voice, "is someone who lies to me."

"I'm not...lying...to you," she gasped as she tried to sit up.

This time she found herself flying across to the other side of the room. She hit the floor just inches shy of the stairs.

"Your name isn't really Phoebe Green, is it?" he asked her as he approached her again.

"Stop..." she gasped.

"Stop?" he asked in a vicious tone. "Stop what?"

"...Hurting me.." she said as she tried to crawl away from him.

"I could kill you," he threatened, as he stood over her.

"Please..." she begged. "...don't..."

Scully cried out as he reached down and grabbed a fistful of her hair, yanking her roughly to her feet.

"Well," he said, "since you said 'please', I guess I'll have to respect your request."

He threw her against the wall of the sitting area, far into the shadows. She landed once again on the floor with a loud thud and this time she didn't move.

The bouncer came to stand beside Frost.

"Put her in the car," Frost ordered.

The man walked over and picked Scully up, throwing her limp body over his shoulder.

"Make sure you aren't seen," Frost warned.

The man disappeared through a side door beside the bar.

Deacon sighed, squared his shoulders, and then sat back down in his over-stuffed chair as if nothing had happened.

He picked up his glass of wine and took a sip.

A sound startled him and he turned to see a figure approach him from the top of the stairs.

He held out his hand as the raven-haired female sidled over to sit on the arm of the chair. Leaning down, she gave his neck a long, lingering lick.

"Everything all right, baby?" she purred.

"It will be," he growled back softly.

She took the glass from his hand and set it on the coffee table before them.

"Let me help you make it all right," she purred again in his ear as she situated herself onto his lap, coiling her fingers into his blonde locks.

He did not resist as she forced his head to turn towards her waiting lips. She devoured his mouth with hers in a long, sensual kiss. To an unwitting observer, they looked like any other young couple lost in the throes of their own passion. But to one observer in particular, they were an abomination drowning in a sea of lustful betrayal.

Kristen swallowed back bitter tears as she watched Deacon make love to the woman from her shadowed hiding place.

"Fucking bastard," she murmured to herself as she turned away from the scene.

Oh, he would pay for this. He would be so sorry.


Mulder marveled at the effect Blade had on the crowd inside the club. Never had the Red Sea parted so quickly. Never had these people looked both terrified and enraged all at once. Blade was known on sight. Those who dared approach him often regretted it, paying dearly with their lives.

"Stay close," Blade hissed through clenched teeth as Mulder gripped tightly to one of Whistler's deadly creations.

A svelte figure dressed in red leather approached them.

"You're in the wrong place, asshole," she said, baring pearl white fangs at him and hissed at him.

"So are you, bitch," Blade said.

A sudden whoosh of air and she burst into a cloud of flame and ash. She never saw the flash of metal that cut her body in two.

In that moment, Mulder remembered how brutally Blade killed, the horror he felt at watching it, but was still shocked at the cold-blooded way the half vampire went about it even now.

Nevertheless, he had no time to ponder the subject further or do a mental psychological profile of Blade's action. In an instant, a great cry went up and the club erupted into a chaotic sea of bodies scattering in different directions, all of them trying to exit the building to escape Blade's wrath.

Mulder stood there in stunned fascination. He could not believe what he was seeing.

"Shoot your fucking gun!" Blade hollered at him.

Mulder discharged his weapon just in time to prevent a woman from knocking it out of his hand.

It was by sheer luck alone he narrowly missed the second vampire to come at him and the third who barely succeeded in taking his gun from him. However, it was not before a fourth came at him that Mulder was able to whip out the aerosol can of garlic and silver nitrate and sprayed it directly into the man's face.

The vampire had no time to scream as the harsh spray hit him in the eyes and his cold skin began to literally melt away like hot candle wax. The faceless body dropped to its knees before Mulder and fell forward on the floor.

As he made his way through the fleeing crowd, Mulder scanned the room, searching for Scully. She was nowhere to be found downstairs, either on the dance floor or near the bar. Mulder decided to check upstairs where he had been with Kristen and her boyfriend.

A hand reached out to grab his arm as he started towards the stairs. He turned; the aerosol can aimed in the direction of his would-be assailant, to see Kristen looking at him.

"Deacon took her," she said, shouting high above the screaming crowd.

"Where did he take her?" Mulder yelled back.

"There's only one place he could go without a problem," she said, grabbing his hand. "You'll have to come with me if you want to save your partner's life."

Mulder scanned the room, looking for Blade. He saw him on the other side of the room chasing down two vampires before cornering them by the emergency exit. Their bodies disappeared in a dual cloud of flame and ash as he cut them down.

"NOW!" Kristen commanded and tugged on his jacket sleeve.

Mulder hesitated once more before relenting. He followed Kristen out of the club and to her car parked nearby. He climbed into the passenger seat as she turned the engine over. Gunning it twice, she shifted it into gear and they peeled off into the night.


Blade was too busy to notice Mulder's departure. His kitana blazed a path of destruction all over the club's interior. Destruction was his game and he was playing to win.

It was not until he had killed the last unlucky straggler that he looked around for Mulder and noticed he was missing.

"Shit," he fumed to himself. Pressing a finger to his ear, he called out: "Whistler! Mulder's gone."

He listened for a moment as he looked warily around the room. "I have an idea, but..." Blade scowled. "I knew this was a mistake from the start. He'll be lucky if he and his partner are still alive by dawn."

A sudden movement off in a corner caught Blade's eye. His gun automatically pointed off in that direction. With one round left in his gun, he had to make this bullet count.

"NO! Wait!" a young masculine voice cried out as Blade's gun was trained on as a young teenaged boy emerged from behind the bullet- riddled bar.

Blade barked at him: "Who are you?"

"My name's Troy," he answered, "Troy Butters."

"What are you doing here?" Blade demanded; his gun still aimed at the boy warily.

"I came here looking for the guy who killed my girlfriend."

"You must have a death wish, kid." Blade said, in disgust.

"No," he said, standing his ground. "I just want the guy who killed Andrea."

"Go home." Blade said.

The boy did not move.

Blade took two steps toward him and planted the gun squarely onto the boy's forehead. "That's not a request." He growled at him.

Troy swallowed hard, trying to hide the fact that he was about to shit his pants, but he managed to look Blade in the eye and say again: "No."

Blade cocked the bullet into the chamber of the gun and squashed it harder into the boy's forehead. "Then you'll die."

"I just want the mother-fucker who killed Andrea!" He pleaded.

Blade tensed. He was fully prepared to blow this kid's head away if he started crying. "This isn't a frat party, boy," Blade growled again, "You're messing with the wrong crowd and it's going to cost you your life." Blade slowly lowered his weapon then. "Go home," he said and turned to leave. "This isn't your show."

Troy was not sure what to do then as he watched Blade exit the club. "I KNOW its Deacon Frost!" Troy called out to him.

Blade kept walking. "That's not news to me," he answered back.

"I know where he lives! I've been to his house!" Troy called back.

Blade stopped.

"He's got the lady F.B.I. agent, doesn't he?" Troy asked.

Blade said nothing.

"I can take you there," Troy offered.


CHAPTER NINETEEN

Scully's head felt as though it had been used as the ball for a World Cup Soccer match. Her hand automatically went to the back of her skull to feel the large lump throbbing there.

She tried to sit up and found that not only was her head in extreme pain but her back and shoulders were on fire.

She took her time moving as she wanted to ascertain that no bones were broken. Unsure of her whereabouts and her vision a bit blurry, she took a few moments to focus and look around.

She found she was in a room without windows. The furnishings were sparse with a table and a chair in one corner and a rug in the middle of the floor. The walls were white and a bright light shown from above, reminding her of the room she had been in during the time of her abduction; where they had held her as they ran their tests on her body...on her soul...

Panic began to set in. Had those monsters abducted her again?

Fear gripped her as she got to her feet, searching for a way to escape.

A door suddenly opened at the far end of the room and a woman entered carrying a tray covered by a white cloth.

'Oh my God, they've taken me again!' Scully thought in a fog of delirium.

Deacon entered a moment later flanked by two of his bodyguards.

Scully held the calm expression on her face, but inside her heart was beating a thousand miles per second. Her eyes darted from the woman with the tray to Deacon and back again.

"So, you're finally awake," he said. He had a smug smile on his face.

"No thanks to you," she said, still a little unsteady on her feet.

"Well, I make no apologies for that," he said.

"Why am I not surprised," she fumed.

"Precautionary measure," he said, "I couldn't have you kicking up the backseat of my car in your piss-poor attempts at getting away."

"Afraid I'd spoil your upholstery?"

"Something like that."

The woman removed the cloth from the tray. Scully saw several surgical instruments and one very large syringe.

"Sorry, I don't do drugs" she said.

Deacon smiled. "It's simply another precaution," he said, and nodded towards the woman.

"You need to release me right now," she demanded.

"You're not in any great position to be making any demands to me, sweetheart," he said.

"You had better let me go.." she said.

"Or, what?" Deacon challenged her, "Your partner and Blade will come in here and rescue you? You have no idea where you are and what measures I've taken to insure that that will never happen. Now, do me a favor and be good so my boys here won't have to get rough with you. Unless, of course, you like it rough?"

Scully's hopes began to fade as she knew what he said was true. She had no idea where she was or what sort of security system he had to protect wherever it was that they were. She had no choice but to cooperate.

However, giving up or giving in was not the Scully family motto, she made sure that she didn't go along quietly or without a fight.

Sadly, the fight was over before it begun and she found herself in a void of darkness once more.


As they pulled up a few yards from the house, Mulder could see the gates were heavily guarded with electronic and armored security.

"How do you expect to get me in there?" Mulder asked. "There are cameras all over the place."

"Leave it to me," Kristen said.

"Unless you hide me in the trunk, we're not getting in there together," Mulder said.

Kristen smiled. "What a wonderful idea."


The man held up his hand and stepped in front of her car brandishing an AK-47. He meandered over to the side of her car as she rolled down the window.

"That mother-fucker left me at the goddamn club!" she screeched, "I know he's home so don't even fucking try to deny it, Tony!"

"I'm sorry, miss, but you can't..." he began. She cut him off.

"Fuck you! Don't you dare give me that shit, telling me what I can or can't do! Just open the goddamn gate!" she demanded.

He looked over at the other attendant inside the small gatehouse and nodded his approval. The heavy iron doors slowly swung inward.

"Thank you," she said and floored the gas pedal, speeding off up the long driveway.

Tony watched her angrily drive away. "Well, the boss is in for it again," he said to his partner.

"Ten to one she's gone before dawn," the man said.

Tony smirked. "You're on! Kiss your paycheck goodbye, Julio."

"No way, amigo. Not until I see her go up in flames."


As Kristen pulled up to the house, she was glad to see a spot in the open garage underneath the house. She deftly backed the car into the empty spot and shut off the engine.

"If you can hear me, Mulder, just listen," she talked to the rear-view mirror as she fluffed her hair and applied some lipstick. "I'm going to go in there and find out where your partner is. Stay here. Stay hidden and don't make a sound."

She grabbed her purse off the front seat. "Knock once if you heard what I said."

An audible thump came from the trunk.

"I'll be back as soon as I can," she said, as she exited the car and hurried into the house.

Mulder waited a few moments, listening, then popped the trunk and cautiously climbed out.

"Yeah, right, sweetheart," Mulder mumbled to himself, as he gently closed the trunk, "as if I'd leave saving Scully's life up to y--."

Stars and then a void of black suddenly appeared before Mulder's eyes. He landed with a heavy thud on the concrete floor of the garage.

"Call Frost. Tell him we've got the other agent," Tony said.

"You might as well pay up now, man, 'cause she's as good as dead once Frost sees him," Julio said.

"No way," Tony balked, " 'flames', remember?"

Julio frowned then bent down to lift Mulder over his broad muscled shoulders.


Kristen straightened her spine to give the appearance of being quite thoroughly pissed off. As she stomped through the hallway towards the back of the house, her footfalls echoed off the stark walls like hammer blows to an anvil.

When she entered the living room, her eyes searched randomly until she spotted him at the far end. He was lounging in a leather chair, smoking a cigarette and wearing another female.

Her eyes narrowed at him as she approached. He didn't seem to notice or care as she came closer to him.

"Thanks for leaving me at the club, asshole," she said to him, sarcastically.

He casually looked up at her and waved the other girl away. "Sorry, babe," he said as he took a drag off the cigarette, "but when the party starts dying, that's my cue to leave."

"So, you just leave me there to die like the others?" she spat out in fury.

"You're a big girl," he said, "You know your own way home."

"You're a fucking prick, Frost," she said, "I hope the feds kill you."

He turned fiery eyes on her then. "What did you say?"

"You heard me," she said, this time with a smirk.

He stood up and flicked his cigarette off into a corner. She could see, out of the corner of her eye, where it landed on the parquet floor in a tiny shower of sparks. She took a step back away from him.

"You think the feds even have a CLUE as to where this place is or how to even get here?" he said as he came towards her.

"I'm sure they do now," she said, "especially since you showed such perfect judgment in bringing the female agent back here."

Her comment made him stop.

"What?" she asked, "you didn't think I saw you with HER? You didn't think that I saw how you tossed her around. You didn't think that I saw Tony put her in the car and know that you would bring her here? You're so fucking stupid."

"You bitch," he said.

"I may be a bitch," she said, "but you're fucking dead."

"No, sweetheart," Frost said, "YOU are."

Before she could utter another retort, Frost slapped her across the face; the blow sent her flying across the room. She landed hard on the parquet floor and lay there, unmoving, on the cold tiles.

Frost walked over to where her lifeless body lay and pushed at her with the toe of his shoe.

"Fucking whore," he said, disgustedly, and spat at her body.

"Uh, excuse me, boss?" came a hesitant voice from behind him.

"What is it?" Frost hollered as he turned to see his two bodyguards standing there; one carrying a body slung over his shoulder.

"We brought you a present," Tony said with a smirk.

"Actually, she did, but..." Julio said, nodding towards Kristen's lifeless body. "Where shall we put him?"

Frost walked over towards them and grabbed a fistful of hair. Lifting up the head he smiled. Then just as quickly as he smiled his demeanor turned to rage. He let go of Mulder's head and stormed over towards Kristen, his hand poised in the air as if to strike her again.

"Christ!" he raged.

It was a moment before he finally collected himself and then turned back towards the two men.

"We have to get rid of him," he said, calmly. "Bring the car around. I'll let you know where you can dump him..." He glanced over at Kristen's still lifeless body. "...and her."

Tony and Julio exchanged knowing glances at each other.

"Whatever you say, boss," Tony said as he and Julio turned around to leave.

"And watch your back," he further instructed. "If she's telling the truth, we could be expecting uninvited guests to drop in for a visit at any time."

"Yes, sir," Julio answered as they left the room.

Frost's nostrils flared as rage grew inside him. His fists clenched and unclenched as he fought to bring his emotion under control.

How could he be so stupid? His mistake could cost him everything he had fought so hard to build. His desire to control the vampire underworld seemed to be slipping away. The people who wanted him to fail were taking the power he sought away and he wasn't about to let that happen. Not now.

Not EVER...


CHAPTER TWENTY

"This is getting out of hand, Frost!"

Edward Butters paced the floor of the sparsely furnished office.

"Edward, shut the fuck up." Frost growled as he lit up a cigarette and blew a thin blue cloud of smoke in his direction.

Edward frowned, holding his tongue for a mere moment before choosing his next words carefully. "I warned you before about allowing things to get too complicated. Killing FBI agents was not part of our original agreement."

Deacon crushed out the cigarette under the heel of his Italian leather loafer and turned to face the dour-looking man.

"You want out?" he asked, an eerie calm to his voice.

Edward hesitated a moment. "N-no, I'm simply saying that this was not what we originally agreed to."

"Then perhaps you'd feel differently if you had nothing to lose?" Deacon said, as he took a step closer to him.

Edward shivered. Frost's voice was icy and his eyes more so. He knew what Frost was capable of and feared what he would do to him.

"Perhaps I misjudged your loyalty to stand by me in times like these," Frost said, as he came within mere millimetres to Edward's nose before he suddenly whirled away from him.

Edward let escape a small sigh of relief from his nostrils. "The question of my loyalty to you and the counsel..." Edward began.

Frost let out a snort of disgust. "Do you think I give a shit about the counsel; a bunch of old-fashioned farts that cling to their old ways with the grip of a frightened child? You underestimate my power and overestimate theirs!" He spat out.

"But they run this city and if you cross them then..." Edward protested.

"Then what?" Frost seethed, "they'll execute me? They don't have enough balls among them to even try. Not to mention everything I do goes on without a shred of their even knowing it. The people in my employment are loyal to ME, NOT the counsel! They do what I tell them to do! NOT THE COUNSEL! Do you understand that?"

Edward cringed. "Yes."

"Good."

Edward swallowed hard, then said: "Just don't count on your anonymity too much. The counsel isn't as na?ve as you thought them to be."

"Get the fuck out of my sight!" Frost bellowed.

Edward Butters flinched as he slowly, cautiously, turned and walked away.

Frost bristled at the thought of the counsel's knowledge of his activities but if Butters was correct, he could expect being called before the counsel for a serious reprimand. Frost was not looking forward to such a meeting.

The counsel was made up of the oldest vampires on this continent. Some of who had significant seats of power in different cities around the country. Most of them had been refugees who had been forced out of their countries in Europe and the former Soviet Union by vampire slayers. These counsel members had found their niche here in the States, hiding within the mortal world but only one was still a leader in his own country and that was the head of the counsel; Roberto Dragonetti, the King Vampire Bastard himself.

As well as being the richest of them all, Dragonetti's wealth was legendary in both the vampire underworld and the mortal world. He had properties in every corner of the globe and successful businesses that were linked with companies all around the world in a one neat tidy package.

Dragonetti's fingers did more than touch oil, gold and silver. He had his hand gripped tightly around other assets as well. Dragonetti was rich; richer than all of the counsel members combined. He had money to burn and then some.

He was also swift to deal a death sentence to anyone who crossed him in either the mortal business world or the vampire world.

Yet Frost did not fear him.

He did, however, feel it was important not to have Dragonetti give even a casual glance in his direction. To have Roberto Dragonetti as an enemy was to seal your own fate and death was not far behind.

Frost knew what could happen. He could be hunted down by anyone within the vampire community and killed by anyone at any time. Even those within his own circle could kill him if they were so inclined. All it would take would be a single word from Dragonetti and Frost would be the most hunted vampire on the continent. A label he wished to avoid at all costs.

Frost sighed.

If that prick, Butters, was correct, Dragonetti could be signing the papers right now to cut Frost out of everything and take away all that he had gained. His house, his friends, and all the wealth he had created for himself... EVERYTHING. It was something Frost had to avoid at all costs.

Murdering those who stood against him was the only option and Frost had no problem carrying out that bloody task.

"Nobody's going to stop me," Deacon grumbled. "Fucking bastards! You won't stop me!"


"Mulder?"

A sweet voice from afar.

"Can you hear me?"

A soft, warm touch to his right temple. The touch of an angel perhaps?

"Mulder! Wake up!"

That was no angel, he thought.

He lifted one eyelid slightly. Her crown of red tresses hung close to his face, a lock tickling the tip of his nose.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

He opened his eyes wider. "Where are we?" he asked her.

"I have no idea."

He sat up slowly, his shoulders and back aching as though he had been run over more than once by a semi-truck.

He groaned audibly. "I'm getting too old for this shit," he murmured as he rubbed the back of his head. A large lump was there and he hissed inwardly when he touched it.

She didn't say anything but made an unintelligible sound as she continued to watch him.

He looked around at the room they were in and sighed. "We have to get out of here somehow," he said.

She remained still, making the same noises that Mulder couldn't recognize.

He turned to look at her. Her eyes were glistening. "What? What is it?" he said, suddenly worried.

"I'm sorry I didn't believe you."

"Believe me?"

"About Kristen... and the whole vampire... thing."

"Scully..."

"I believe you now."

"It's okay," he said and reached for her. "It's going to be okay."

She fell into his embrace. He held her protectively as she melted into his chest. She cried quietly. Her tears made a small wet spot on his shirt. It didn't bother him. She was afraid, but then so was he.


Headlights doused and the engine turned off, the car drifted slowly to a stop at the foot of a large hill leading up to the house at its peak.

"There," Troy pointed. "That's it, right there."

Blade curled his top lip into a snarl, then said to youth beside him: "You need to stay here."

"I want to come with you," Troy said, his jaw firm.

"No."

Blade got out of the car and adjusted the weapons he would carry with him.

Troy jumped out of the passenger side. "You can't go up there alone. You don't know where to go."

"I don't need a guide. You've done enough." Blade reasoned and turned away from the teen.

"You can't just blow me off!" Troy hollered at him as Blade walked away. "You fucking bastard!"

With lightning speed, Troy found himself pushed back up against a tree. His feet dangled several inches above the ground. Blade's hand was wrapped tightly around the boy's throat, constricting his airway and giving Troy a small taste of impending death

"You follow me, you die," Blade said hoarsely, millimeters from the boy's face.

He released him and turned away again as the boy coughed air back into his lungs.

Troy watched from his place on the cool ground as Blade quickly disappeared into the darkness, camouflaged completely by the cloak of night.


CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

 

The door to their stark prison opened suddenly and Frost's two bodyguards entered the room. The smaller of the two approached them where they sat on the hard floor. Reaching out, he grabbed Scully by her left arm and wrenched her up to her feet. She cried out more out of protest than pain.

"*Hey*!" Mulder reacted aggressively. "Get your hands off of her!"

The other bodyguard smiled smugly to his counterpart then approached Mulder. His body's stance spoke to Mulder and Mulder knew this man was looking for an excuse... ANY excuse, to knock him flat on his ass.

In spite of all of his FBI training, Mulder knew there was no way he would be able to take on the both of them let alone this one. Knowing where, when and WHO he picked his battles with was the only reason why Mulder had escaped undo harm in the past, but he was smart enough to know this was one battle he'd never win... fairly or unfairly.

Scully flashed her partner a worried glance as he was shoved towards the exit by the larger of the two goons. Mulder didn't know what was going to happen next, but he felt in his gut it wouldn't be good either way.

Mulder felt a slight breeze kiss his right ear and before anyone could react accordingly, the bodyguard who had shoved him from behind erupted into a pillar of flames. A scream of terror never made it past the man's lips but one did escape from the other bodyguard.

"Holy shit!" Mulder exclaimed as he jumped clear of the flaming man.

Blade was before them all as though he had materialized out of thin air.

"Hello, sucker," he snarled in the direction of Scully and her captor. "Miss me?"

The bodyguard reached out, grabbed hold of Scully and pulled her back into the crook of his left arm. He slipped his other hand behind his back and produced a semi-automatic pistol from a hidden holster beneath his jacket. He pointed it right at Blade.

Mulder stood staring at the scene before him: Blade approaching with his katana at the ready and Scully held as a human shield in front of a man about to die.

The sound of a bullet being cocked into the chamber caused Mulder to turn his attention back to Scully. Blade shoved Mulder to the floor just as several shots started popping from the gun, hitting Blade squarely in the chest. Blade remained rooted to the spot where he stood, his breastplate absorbing each bullet as it pinged off the armor and bounced off somewhere within the room.

The bodyguard continued to fire until his gun's clip was emptied. All the while he held Scully in front of him, her hands over her ears protectively and wincing at each shot fired.

It wasn't until all four of them heard the audible click, click, click of the emptied chamber that the bodyguard stopped pulling the trigger and slowly lowered his gun.

Blade approached him fearlessly, taking one of his own guns and placing it directly onto the middle of the man's forehead and stared directly into the man's eyes. "Let her go."

Scully suddenly found herself freed and quickly rushed to Mulder's side. He wrapped a tight protective arm around her shoulders.

"Take your little partner and blow," Blade growled at them over his shoulder, his eyes never once leaving that of his prey.

"What about you?" Mulder asked, hesitating to leave in spite of Scully's urgent tugs at his arm.

"I can handle this low-life," Blade growled again.

"I can't leave you here to fight---," Mulder protested.

"I'm not askin'," Blade said. "Use the guns I have in my coat pockets. If you run into anyone wanting to have you for dinner, aim for the heart, let the bullets do the rest."

Mulder approached Blade cautiously and reached into the inner panels of his black overcoat. He felt the hard, cold metal and pulled the pistols out, handing one to Scully.

"I'm not leaving---," Mulder protested again.

"Go!" Blade roared at them, his gun readjusting position on the man's forehead. "NOW!"

Scully tugged one last time on Mulder's arm.

"Blade, I can't---," Mulder began, but stopped when Blade growled his frustration at him.

Reluctance left Mulder quickly as he and Scully exited cautiously out the open doorway, making their way through the house to the outside and bitter freedom.

They snuck through the hallway, easing their way slowly to where they hoped a door would lead them to the outside. The hallway was dark though dim light shown from unknown sources and helped guide them. Scully clung to Mulder's hand tightly as he led the way. They tiptoed through the house as quietly as they could, praying nothing would jump out at them from hidden recesses to declare their presence and halting their escape.

No voices or movement could be seen or heard. The house seemed to be devoid of any type of occupancy: human or otherwise.

Mulder looked back at Scully and he motioned her to stop. She looked at him expectantly and he motioned again his intentions to move forward through the large living room they found themselves in at the end of the hallway.

She nodded her approval and Mulder entered slowly into the vast room to investigate and scope a way out.

He looked around the room as carefully as he could despite the darkness and saw nothing around him but sparseness and stark white furniture. The glow of light that had helped guide them down the hall came from the vast wall of glass windows that overlooked the city's limits from the house's perch atop the hill.

The city lights gleamed in the valley below and gave the house a look of late evening instead of the wee early morning hours it now was. Mulder looked out and could see the Pacific Ocean in the distance, a soft purple glow was appearing along the horizon line.

He motioned for Scully that it was okay to come out from her hiding spot, and she emerged to walk silently over to his side.

"Is there a door or something we can open?" she whispered.

Mulder searched the perimeter of the glass until he found a latch, which opened a hidden sliding door. Holding his breath, he carefully flipped the lock, praying it would not make any loud noise or trigger a silent alarm. He took hold of the door's handle, gave Scully a quick hopeful glance and pulled.

The door slid open effortlessly with no noise at all. They slipped through the door onto the terrace and closed the door behind them.

Once outside, they made their way to the end of the large open space and climbed down a flight of stairs to the lower level where the garage was. Mulder looked around the corner to see if anyone was close by. Seeing no one, he led Scully by the hand to the driveway only to pause a moment to turn round and look over his shoulder.

Scully tugged again at his arm. "No. Let's go. He'll be all right, Mulder."

He looked at her and gave her a small smile and then they escaped out into the night, not knowing how they would make their way back to the city from their location.

They followed the long driveway down to the main road, trotting along and darting their heads back and forth, as they remained on alert for anything about to jump out of the bushes.

When they reached the bottom of the hilly driveway, they came across a car parked at the side of the road. It was Blade's car.

Mulder looked at Scully and she raised her eyebrows at him questioningly before she frowned. "We can't."

Mulder shrugged. "He's a big boy."

Scully shook her head at him. "No, Mulder."

Mulder walked over to the car. He looked at the ignition and saw the keys. He laughed to himself. 'Karma,' he mused. 'It has to be karma.'


Kristen felt a hand on the back of her head. She wasn't laying flat on the floor. She had her head in someone's lap. She opened her eyes slowly to see a youth with a shock of bright blond hair.

"W-who...?" she whispered.

"Troy," he said.

She winced as she sat up and looked around. She found herself lying on the cold concrete floor of the garage. She looked back at the youthful face and sat up quickly.

"You shouldn't be here. You need to leave," she said, suddenly fearful. Looking around she wondered where Mulder was. Was he still in the trunk of the car waiting for her to let him out?

Troy looked at her and shook his head. "Not until I kill the bastard that murdered my girlfriend, Andrea."

Kristen stared at the boy, then burst out laughing. "Are you fucking crazy? Do you have any idea who you're dealing with?"

He frowned at her.

She turned away from him and shook her head in disbelief, then turned back to give him a sad, weary look. "Go home."

Troy set his jaw tightly. "I'm not leaving until he's dead."

Kristen bared her teeth at him. "I can take care of that for you rather nicely, if only you'll say please."

Troy backed away from her in shock. He hadn't expected to actually come face-to-face with one of THEM. "Don't kill me," he begged.

Kristen crawled over to him until she was inches away from his neck. "What beautiful skin you have, little boy," she said and inhaled his scent of fear and loathing.

Troy shut his eyes and swallowed hard.

"You would make a wonderful pet," Kristen purred in his ear.

"Please...I just want..." Troy stammered as sweat began to trickle down his temple.

Kristen leaned closer and with her tongue licked off the drop of sweat that slowly ran down his cheek. It made him flinch.

"You are a stupid boy to come here unprepared," she said, her hand dipping down to caress his chest through the opening of his polo shirt. "I could kill you and drink your blood. Did you know that?"

Troy nodded his head slowly.

"You look so delicious I would love to know how you taste." She tweaked his nipple inside his shirt.

Troy jumped at her cool touch. "You're not my type," he said and tried to pull away from her.

Angry, she took her hand away then grabbed a fistful of blond hair and drew his head close to her bared fangs. She let them graze his tender skin on his neck so that he would know who and what she was... a cold-blooded killer.

"Please..." he begged and began to weep.

Kristen pulled back from him, regarded his tears and begs for mercy before she shoved him aside. She made a noise out of disgust for his sign of weakness. "I should kill you just to put you out of your own misery," she growled at him. "You're weak, just like your father."

Troy looked at her then with eyes full of hatred. "My father isn't weak and he'll see to it that all of you bloodsucking creeps are put out of YOUR misery."

Kristen smiled at him. "Oh, I highly doubt that. Your father has no control over anything. Not me, not Frost, not any of us and he never will. Your father only has what he has because of Frost and if he doesn't keep his big mouth shut, he'll lose everything he's ever gained from his connection with him, including his only son. His pride and joy."

Troy glared daggers at her.

"Now," she said and crept closer to him once more. "Where were we?"

Just as she bared her fangs to him again, ready to pounce atop him, a single gunshot rang out. She fell forward into Troy's lap. He stared down at her then quickly looked up to see who had pulled the trigger.

The gun lowered and the face of his father emerged from behind it.

Troy sighed a sigh of relief and shoved Kristen's lifeless body off him. He clamored to his feet and ran straight to his father's arms where he embraced him.

"I'm so sorry, my son, to get you involved in this whole mess," Edward said as he held his boy tightly.

"I just wanted them to pay for Andrea's death, Dad," he said, through his tears of frustration and anger.

"I know, son," Edward said. "And they will pay eventually. Maybe not right now, but their day is coming." He let go of Troy and gripped his hand instead. "Let's get out of here before someone sees what I've done."

They left the garage and ran out into the night, running down the hill at the side of the house opposite of where Mulder and Scully had made their own escape. A tract of heavy underbrush concealed a dirt road below the house. Father and son jumped inside the vehicle and tore away in a cloud of dust and gravel.


Mulder drove the blackened road with Scully beside him in heavy silence. The events of the night replayed in his mind repeatedly. He was stunned by the danger they had both faced together and the mere fact that he had almost lost her again. He swallowed back the urge to weep and kept his hands firmly gripped onto the steering wheel.

Scully said nothing as she stared blankly out the window, watching the landscape whiz by them. She did not know how to feel. Had this all been a dark, twisted dream? She looked down at the bruises and other injuries she had sustained and knew it had been no dream.

Glancing over at Mulder's stiff driving posture, she reached over and gently laid her hand over his on the steering wheel.

Keeping his eyes firmly on the road and his left hand on the wheel, Mulder took her hand in his right and interlaced his fingers with hers.

The act brought tears to her eyes and she slid across the seat to curl up against him.

They drove like that back to the city as the sun began to change the sky from the deep purples of night to the bright pinks and oranges of the coming dawn.

A new day bore down on them in defiance of the evil they had endured and shed light against the war they had waged the night before.

"Can we leave now?" Mulder asked her hoarsely and kissed the top of her hand.

She nodded, hot tears sliding down her cheeks. "Yes. I want to go home."


CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

 

The door to their stark prison opened suddenly and Frost's two bodyguards entered the room. The smaller of the two approached them where they sat on the hard floor. Reaching out, he grabbed Scully by her left arm and wrenched her up to her feet. She cried out more out of protest than pain.

"*Hey*!" Mulder reacted aggressively. "Get your hands off of her!"

The other bodyguard smiled smugly to his counterpart then approached Mulder. His body's stance spoke to Mulder and Mulder knew this man was looking for an excuse... ANY excuse, to knock him flat on his ass.

In spite of all of his FBI training, Mulder knew there was no way he would be able to take on the both of them let alone this one. Knowing where, when and WHO he picked his battles with was the only reason why Mulder had escaped undo harm in the past, but he was smart enough to know this was one battle he'd never win... fairly or unfairly.

Scully flashed her partner a worried glance as he was shoved towards the exit by the larger of the two goons. Mulder didn't know what was going to happen next, but he felt in his gut it wouldn't be good either way.

Mulder felt a slight breeze kiss his right ear and before anyone could react accordingly, the bodyguard who had shoved him from behind erupted into a pillar of flames. A scream of terror never made it past the man's lips but one did escape from the other bodyguard.

"Holy shit!" Mulder exclaimed as he jumped clear of the flaming man.

Blade was before them all as though he had materialized out of thin air.

"Hello, sucker," he snarled in the direction of Scully and her captor. "Miss me?"

The bodyguard reached out, grabbed hold of Scully and pulled her back into the crook of his left arm. He slipped his other hand behind his back and produced a semi-automatic pistol from a hidden holster beneath his jacket. He pointed it right at Blade.

Mulder stood staring at the scene before him: Blade approaching with his katana at the ready and Scully held as a human shield in front of a man about to die.

The sound of a bullet being cocked into the chamber caused Mulder to turn his attention back to Scully. Blade shoved Mulder to the floor just as several shots started popping from the gun, hitting Blade squarely in the chest. Blade remained rooted to the spot where he stood, his breastplate absorbing each bullet as it pinged off the armor and bounced off somewhere within the room.

The bodyguard continued to fire until his gun's clip was emptied. All the while he held Scully in front of him, her hands over her ears protectively and wincing at each shot fired.

It wasn't until all four of them heard the audible click, click, click of the emptied chamber that the bodyguard stopped pulling the trigger and slowly lowered his gun.

Blade approached him fearlessly, taking one of his own guns and placing it directly onto the middle of the man's forehead and stared directly into the man's eyes. "Let her go."

Scully suddenly found herself freed and quickly rushed to Mulder's side. He wrapped a tight protective arm around her shoulders.

"Take your little partner and blow," Blade growled at them over his shoulder, his eyes never once leaving that of his prey.

"What about you?" Mulder asked, hesitating to leave in spite of Scully's urgent tugs at his arm.

"I can handle this low-life," Blade growled again.

"I can't leave you here to fight---," Mulder protested.

"I'm not askin'," Blade said. "Use the guns I have in my coat pockets. If you run into anyone wanting to have you for dinner, aim for the heart, let the bullets do the rest."

Mulder approached Blade cautiously and reached into the inner panels of his black overcoat. He felt the hard, cold metal and pulled the pistols out, handing one to Scully.

"I'm not leaving---," Mulder protested again.

"Go!" Blade roared at them, his gun readjusting position on the man's forehead. "NOW!"

Scully tugged one last time on Mulder's arm.

"Blade, I can't---," Mulder began, but stopped when Blade growled his frustration at him.

Reluctance left Mulder quickly as he and Scully exited cautiously out the open doorway, making their way through the house to the outside and bitter freedom.

They snuck through the hallway, easing their way slowly to where they hoped a door would lead them to the outside. The hallway was dark though dim light shown from unknown sources and helped guide them. Scully clung to Mulder's hand tightly as he led the way. They tiptoed through the house as quietly as they could, praying nothing would jump out at them from hidden recesses to declare their presence and halting their escape.

No voices or movement could be seen or heard. The house seemed to be devoid of any type of occupancy: human or otherwise.

Mulder looked back at Scully and he motioned her to stop. She looked at him expectantly and he motioned again his intentions to move forward through the large living room they found themselves in at the end of the hallway.

She nodded her approval and Mulder entered slowly into the vast room to investigate and scope a way out.

He looked around the room as carefully as he could despite the darkness and saw nothing around him but sparseness and stark white furniture. The glow of light that had helped guide them down the hall came from the vast wall of glass windows that overlooked the city's limits from the house's perch atop the hill.

The city lights gleamed in the valley below and gave the house a look of late evening instead of the wee early morning hours it now was. Mulder looked out and could see the Pacific Ocean in the distance, a soft purple glow was appearing along the horizon line.

He motioned for Scully that it was okay to come out from her hiding spot, and she emerged to walk silently over to his side.

"Is there a door or something we can open?" she whispered.

Mulder searched the perimeter of the glass until he found a latch, which opened a hidden sliding door. Holding his breath, he carefully flipped the lock, praying it would not make any loud noise or trigger a silent alarm. He took hold of the door's handle, gave Scully a quick hopeful glance and pulled.

The door slid open effortlessly with no noise at all. They slipped through the door onto the terrace and closed the door behind them.

Once outside, they made their way to the end of the large open space and climbed down a flight of stairs to the lower level where the garage was. Mulder looked around the corner to see if anyone was close by. Seeing no one, he led Scully by the hand to the driveway only to pause a moment to turn round and look over his shoulder.

Scully tugged again at his arm. "No. Let's go. He'll be all right, Mulder."

He looked at her and gave her a small smile and then they escaped out into the night, not knowing how they would make their way back to the city from their location.

They followed the long driveway down to the main road, trotting along and darting their heads back and forth, as they remained on alert for anything about to jump out of the bushes.

When they reached the bottom of the hilly driveway, they came across a car parked at the side of the road. It was Blade's car.

Mulder looked at Scully and she raised her eyebrows at him questioningly before she frowned. "We can't."

Mulder shrugged. "He's a big boy."

Scully shook her head at him. "No, Mulder."

Mulder walked over to the car. He looked at the ignition and saw the keys. He laughed to himself. 'Karma,' he mused. 'It has to be karma.'


Kristen felt a hand on the back of her head. She wasn't laying flat on the floor. She had her head in someone's lap. She opened her eyes slowly to see a youth with a shock of bright blond hair.

"W-who...?" she whispered.

"Troy," he said.

She winced as she sat up and looked around. She found herself lying on the cold concrete floor of the garage. She looked back at the youthful face and sat up quickly.

"You shouldn't be here. You need to leave," she said, suddenly fearful. Looking around she wondered where Mulder was. Was he still in the trunk of the car waiting for her to let him out?

Troy looked at her and shook his head. "Not until I kill the bastard that murdered my girlfriend, Andrea."

Kristen stared at the boy, then burst out laughing. "Are you fucking crazy? Do you have any idea who you're dealing with?"

He frowned at her.

She turned away from him and shook her head in disbelief, then turned back to give him a sad, weary look. "Go home."

Troy set his jaw tightly. "I'm not leaving until he's dead."

Kristen bared her teeth at him. "I can take care of that for you rather nicely, if only you'll say please."

Troy backed away from her in shock. He hadn't expected to actually come face-to-face with one of THEM. "Don't kill me," he begged.

Kristen crawled over to him until she was inches away from his neck. "What beautiful skin you have, little boy," she said and inhaled his scent of fear and loathing.

Troy shut his eyes and swallowed hard.

"You would make a wonderful pet," Kristen purred in his ear.

"Please...I just want..." Troy stammered as sweat began to trickle down his temple.

Kristen leaned closer and with her tongue licked off the drop of sweat that slowly ran down his cheek. It made him flinch.

"You are a stupid boy to come here unprepared," she said, her hand dipping down to caress his chest through the opening of his polo shirt. "I could kill you and drink your blood. Did you know that?"

Troy nodded his head slowly.

"You look so delicious I would love to know how you taste." She tweaked his nipple inside his shirt.

Troy jumped at her cool touch. "You're not my type," he said and tried to pull away from her.

Angry, she took her hand away then grabbed a fistful of blond hair and drew his head close to her bared fangs. She let them graze his tender skin on his neck so that he would know who and what she was... a cold-blooded killer.

"Please..." he begged and began to weep.

Kristen pulled back from him, regarded his tears and begs for mercy before she shoved him aside. She made a noise out of disgust for his sign of weakness. "I should kill you just to put you out of your own misery," she growled at him. "You're weak, just like your father."

Troy looked at her then with eyes full of hatred. "My father isn't weak and he'll see to it that all of you bloodsucking creeps are put out of YOUR misery."

Kristen smiled at him. "Oh, I highly doubt that. Your father has no control over anything. Not me, not Frost, not any of us and he never will. Your father only has what he has because of Frost and if he doesn't keep his big mouth shut, he'll lose everything he's ever gained from his connection with him, including his only son. His pride and joy."

Troy glared daggers at her.

"Now," she said and crept closer to him once more. "Where were we?"

Just as she bared her fangs to him again, ready to pounce atop him, a single gunshot rang out. She fell forward into Troy's lap. He stared down at her then quickly looked up to see who had pulled the trigger.

The gun lowered and the face of his father emerged from behind it.

Troy sighed a sigh of relief and shoved Kristen's lifeless body off him. He clamored to his feet and ran straight to his father's arms where he embraced him.

"I'm so sorry, my son, to get you involved in this whole mess," Edward said as he held his boy tightly.

"I just wanted them to pay for Andrea's death, Dad," he said, through his tears of frustration and anger.

"I know, son," Edward said. "And they will pay eventually. Maybe not right now, but their day is coming." He let go of Troy and gripped his hand instead. "Let's get out of here before someone sees what I've done."

They left the garage and ran out into the night, running down the hill at the side of the house opposite of where Mulder and Scully had made their own escape. A tract of heavy underbrush concealed a dirt road below the house. Father and son jumped inside the vehicle and tore away in a cloud of dust and gravel.


Mulder drove the blackened road with Scully beside him in heavy silence. The events of the night replayed in his mind repeatedly. He was stunned by the danger they had both faced together and the mere fact that he had almost lost her again. He swallowed back the urge to weep and kept his hands firmly gripped onto the steering wheel.

Scully said nothing as she stared blankly out the window, watching the landscape whiz by them. She did not know how to feel. Had this all been a dark, twisted dream? She looked down at the bruises and other injuries she had sustained and knew it had been no dream.

Glancing over at Mulder's stiff driving posture, she reached over and gently laid her hand over his on the steering wheel.

Keeping his eyes firmly on the road and his left hand on the wheel, Mulder took her hand in his right and interlaced his fingers with hers.

The act brought tears to her eyes and she slid across the seat to curl up against him.

They drove like that back to the city as the sun began to change the sky from the deep purples of night to the bright pinks and oranges of the coming dawn.

A new day bore down on them in defiance of the evil they had endured and shed light against the war they had waged the night before.

"Can we leave now?" Mulder asked her hoarsely and kissed the top of her hand.

She nodded, hot tears sliding down her cheeks. "Yes. I want to go home."


CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

Buchanan Residence June 15, 1997 11:43 a.m.

Jacqueline Buchanan sat silently staring at her daughter's class picture on the end table closest to where she sat on the couch. Scully sat beside her, holding her hand. Mulder looked on from where he stood, leaning against the wall at the doorway to the living room.

"I am so sorry, Jackie," Scully said to her friend.

Jacqueline looked down at their entwined hands and wept.

"I don't think we will ever know who this guy was," she lied.

Jacqueline shook her head fiercely. "I don't believe that."

"We could find no evidence that this man was Andrea's killer. DNA tests proved---," Mulder started to say.

"Well, they're WRONG!" Jacqueline shouted at him.

Scully tried to sooth her. "Jacqueline, Mulder's only trying---"

"You will never be able to convince me that Troy Butters and his bastard of a father didn't have something to do with Andrea's death! I KNOW he had her killed!"

"Why?" Mulder probed further. "Is there something you aren't telling us?"

Jacqueline turned away from them. "Edward and I----"

They looked at her in shocked surprise.

"Why hadn't you divulged this to us before?" Scully asked her in consternation.

"I didn't think you'd take this seriously," she answered as she wiped her nose.

Scully looked up at Mulder. He withdrew and left the room. She turned her attention back to her friend.

"I know, Dana, I know," she said, wiping her eyes. "I should have told you. But I didn't think I should. Edward Butters is a very charming man but he made life so hard when Andrea started to date Troy. He was against their relationship the whole time. Step- children should never date each other even if they aren't related by blood. He was so worried about his image and at one point had the nerve to call me at work and tell me to keep my 'slut of a daughter' away from his precious son. They didn't, of course, and I ended our relationship while encouraging Andrea and Troy's. I can't NOT think he had something to do with her death. Too many signs point in his direction."

Scully nodded thoughtfully in understanding. Her friend's grief was endless and she hugged her. "I'm so sorry," she said again as she pulled away.

They stood up and walked arm in arm to Jacqueline's front door.

"Please," Jacqueline said, sheepishly. "Tell your partner, I-I didn't mean what I said. I..."

Scully hugged her again, giving her a small smile. "He knows." She turned to leave.

"Call me later tonight, okay?" Jacqueline said as Scully made her way towards the car and Mulder, patiently sitting behind the wheel.

"I will," Scully said. "I promise."

Jacqueline watched as her friend got into the waiting car and waved as it drove away.

As she closed the door to her house, a small voice called from within. A little boy of about eight years old emerged around the corner of the hallway and looked up at her with bright blue eyes.

"Mom? Can we go out to eat tonight?"

Jacqueline smiled and came over to kneel in front of him. "Sure."

"Can we stop for ice cream too?" he asked hopeful.

Jacqueline smiled. "Absolutely."

He paused for a moment, then asked: "Can we go visit Andrea too?"

His request made her breath catch in her throat. Tears welled up and she looked lovingly and sadly at her son. "Yes, we can go see her."

She reached out and took the boy into her arms, hugging him tightly.

"I love you, Mommy," he said.

"I love you, too."


EPILOGUE...

 

WASHINGTON D.C. J. Edgar Hoover Building Basement level 8:32 am, August 28, 1998

ONE YEAR LATER...

Mulder punched at the keyboard like a man with a purpose as he tackled the pile of reports sitting on his desk. He found the pile not quite as daunting today as it had been yesterday but still it was just as boring.

Scully stood by the file cabinet refiling the manila folders she had just finished.

She closed the drawer and went back over to the table where more piles of paperwork, organized neatly and orderly, awaited her.

A light ping resounded and Mulder stopped typing as a window popped up on his computer screen: You Got Mail. He clicked on the icon.

As she picked up another pile of file folders, she glanced over at Mulder and saw him looking a bit pale. She stopped mid stride.

"What is it?"

"Come and see this," he said.

She came around to his side of the desk to see what he was looking at on the computer screen. She gasped as she saw the headline of the online newspaper article.

"'CITY OF ANGELS MOURNS THE DEATH OF SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMAN EDWARD BUTTERS AND HIS SON...'" she read it aloud. "Oh my God..."

Mulder continued where she left off. "Los Angeles County Police Chief, Willis Connor, told reporters this morning that the bodies of area businessman, Edward Butters and his teenage son, Troy, where found today in their Beverly Hills home in pools of their own blood. Sources report that a housekeeper who was returning from a vacation discovered the bodies early this morning. Coroner, Agnes Devereux, said both bodies were covered in bite marks and that they had bled to death from their wounds. Ms. Deavereux refused to comment further until a complete autopsy was performed. Officials will not confirm nor deny the deaths stemmed from an animal attack but have not ruled out the possibility..."

Scully laid a hand on his shoulder.

"...It was also reported recently that Mr. Butters was questioned about his involvement with the recent massacre at an abandoned warehouse complex near the Port of Los Angeles where police found the remains of several bodies who are still yet unidentified due to the condition of their remains..."

Scully shivered as he continued to read the article.

"...Sources also say that the massacre could have been linked to the disappearances of both a local doctor and her internist who specialized in the treatment of blood diseases. Sources say that both were working on several cures for the most common of blood disorders, one of which was haemophilia a disease which causes uncontrollable bleeding due to a lack of certain clotting factors in the blood..."

"Enough, Mulder." She walked away.

Mulder looked up from the computer screen just as she turned back to look at him. "I don't know what to say, Scully."

She shook her head. "There's nothing left to say."

"You think Deacon Frost had Edward and his son killed?"

She nodded.

"Then who massacred all those other people?"

She gave him a knowing look.

"We don't know if it was Blade."

"Who else would it be?"

"Scully..." He got up from his chair and came around the desk to her. "Blade told us that he was fighting a war, that vampires exist and they exist for one reason only---"

"---to use humans as their food---I know---but this is sick...all of this killing? It's worse than a war. It's like genocide!"

She shivered and rubbed her biceps.

Mulder took her into his arms and hugged her. His body heat slowly warmed her again. A quiet pause in their conversation allowed her to regroup her thoughts for a moment before he spoke to her again, changing the subject.

"It's been a year since Andrea's death," he said, carefully, "How's your friend doing? Have you heard from her lately?"

Scully pulled back and smiled. "Yeah, as a matter of fact, she called me yesterday. She's getting married next month."

Mulder gave her a smile. "That's great! Well, tell her from me, congratulations."

"I will," she said.

Mulder went back to sit behind his desk. "So, are you going to the wedding?"

"No," she shook her head. "It's in Barbados and you know me and tropical sunshine just don't get along."

He nodded thoughtfully at her. "So, then you won't mind accompanying me to a conference next month of alien abductees and Area 51/Roswell conspiracy theory enthusiasts?"

"I'm having my apartment fumigated for bugs and helping my mother repaint her house." She deadpanned.

"C'mon! It's be fun!" he prodded her.

"No, Mulder," she said.

"You and me? Desert sand, sweeping views of the landscape, little green men?" he said, teasing now. "It'll be awesome."

"I don't think so" she said.

"Roswell has this great all-you-can-eat restaurant that specializes in a Tex/Mex buffet for breakfast. Frohike says they make the best breakfast burritos in the Southwest," he said.

"No, Mulder," she said and picked up more files to put away.

"I'll buy all our meals AND I'll even buy all the souvenirs you find and like," he said, expectantly.

"No, Mulder," she said.

"Please??" he said, almost whining.

She stopped filing and turned to face him. He gave her his best sad-eyed look, complete with pouting lower lip. She sighed heavily. "Oh, all right," she gave in. "But I don't want anything too tacky. No bobble head aliens or wiggly antenna headbands, okay?"

"You got it!" he said. "Oh, by the way, what size t-shirt do you wear? I mean if I see something for you that I think you might like, I want to get it but I also want to make sure I get the proper size."

"I'll buy my own t-shirts, Mulder, thank you."

"You're a small, right?"

She said nothing.

"Or are you a medium?"

She still said nothing, simply giving him an exasperated look.

"Maybe a large so you can wear it to bed...?"

She took a file folder and slapped the top of his head with it, mussing his hair and causing strands to flop in front of his eyes. He smiled at her.

"Maybe not."

 

 

THE END...?

 


 

My eternal thanks to the following:

Anubis: For being the first to attempt to tackle my "Comma Queen" bad habit! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! You gave me that extra push I needed to get off my butt and try to get this finished. This story I dedicate to you, my friend!

Lisa: Whose love for the Paranormal is almost stronger than most I know! Thanks for encouraging me!

Sarah: For helping to be that second pair of eyes for me and tackling this with a sense of humor! Thank you for all the hard work.

Mom: Sorry for the loss of your TV but I'm glad that this provided you with something BETTER to do! Thanks Mom!

 

And lastly...

To my son, Lil' D, to whom I do this for. Not because I want to scare the bejeezus out of him but because I hope to one day to be able to show him the wonderful world of Mulder, Scully and all the crazy fun that is the X- files so he can better understand Mommy's little obsession!

Lil' D: "Mommy, aren't you EVER getting off that stupid computer??"

 


 

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