Title: X-Files Just Dessert
Author: spookysister7
Author's page: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1132666/
Written: 10/13/2006
Category: X, ST, MT
Genre: Adventure/Angst
Spoilers:Bad Blood
Keywords:MT, ST, angst<
Rating: PG
Feedback: Please, oh please, oh please!!! I'm young, I'm stupid, I need help! Thanx! Post anywhere! Just keep my name and let me know.

Summary: A stakeout for vampires ends badly, will Scully and Mulder survive?


Mulder and Scully are not mine
They aren't making me a dime
They belong to my man, Chris
And Fox, the company of bliss
Skinner does not belong to me
But if he did, I'd be filled with glee
Krycek and Flukie, don't forget Eve
Alright, I'm done, and now I'll leave
But just remember, morning glory
They're not mine, now read the story

- Disclaimer poem by Kelly Paleczny

Author's note - I got the idea (and a couple of lines) from "Timeout from the Aliens" by Gerry Hill - Sorry Ger! Brandon and Smithe are MINE! P.S. I named the vamp after a guy I liked in 5th grade. He went to Valley Oaks Elem. and moved to Dallas or California. (Good memory, huh?) So, Brandon, if you're out there reading this, E-ME! ;)

"I've come to suck your blood!" the man cried, his voice curiously accented. Scully's lip twitched up involuntarily as he grabbed the tail of his jacket and wrapped it cape-like around his body.

"Wah ha ha ha ha!" the man cackled in true B-movie fashion, stalking towards an only slightly bemused Scully.

"Okay, Mulder, I get it. What cow got sucked dry for this one?" she asked wryly, arms folded across her chest as she perched on the edge of the table. Mulder dropped his arm and peeled the false teeth from his gums before answering.

"The blood bank of the Memorial Hospital, actually," he said, pulling out a file from the cabinet.

"A blood bank. And we're investigating this, why?"

"Actually, this is the third blood bank that's been robbed. They all had security cameras and..."

"Let me guess, they show a man in a long black cape with pointed teeth."


"No? Who was it then?"

"The cameras all show the bags of blood floating out the door, seemingly of their own free will."

"Floating? Were the tapes tampered with? Mulder, there has to be a rational explanation."

"That's why I thought at first that it was a poltergeist or ghost or something, but then, why would a ghost need blood?"

"A reasonable question," Scully said dryly.

"And then I thought, vampire. I mean, they don't show up in mirrors, so maybe they don't show up in film, either. There was that one case of the man who didn't show up in the photos..." Scully cut him off before he could expound on his invisible vampire theory.

"Mulder, I'm not chasing after another vampire. Do you even remember Chaney?!"

"Come on, Scully, it's almost Halloween! Where's your sense of adventure? Besides, I've already got a 303..." He trailed off, an excited look on his face.

Scully sighed.

"Mulder..." His lower lip pouted unmercifully. "Okay," she said, resigned to her fate.

"Great! Let's see, we'll need garlic, stakes..."

"What is this, a cookout?"

"...Holy Water..."

"Mulder! Holy Water?!"

"But, Scully, it's a well known fact that Holy Water..." Mulder's voice faded as the office door swung shut behind them.

"Mulder, where is the next shift?"

"Next shift?"

"Yah, you know, the people who switch off with us at least every twelve hours during a stakeout. Where are they?"

"Well, um, I, um..."

"You didn't tell them we were waiting for a vampire, did you?" Scully asked, a threatening note creeping into her voice.

"Well, they asked who I thought..." Scully groaned and leaned back against the wall, overjoyed at the prospect of a 24-hour workday.

"I'm asking for overtime," she muttered.

"Shh." Mulder whispered, eyes focused suddenly on the door across the hall.


"I heard something," he said, stealthily creeping towards the entry. Scully followed, gun out.

"Wait here." Mulder whispered as he peeked around the doorframe and scuttled across the hall. Scully stood slowly, prepared to back up her partner. Mulder flattened next to the doorway of the blood storage closet and drew out his gun. The door creaked open, revealing the muted darkness of a room lit only in moonlight.

A curiously harmless looking dirty blond backed out of the room, arms full of liquid life. As he turned to leave, Mulder's gun hovered inches from his heart.

"FBI. Put the blood down and keep your hands where I can see them." the man looked unwilling to part with his ill-gotten gain, until Scully stepped out of the shadows with her gun in plain sight.

"Hi! My name is Brandon, what's yours?" the man asked; scowl lightening considerably at the sight of Scully. Mulder's eyebrow rose, but his gun remained steady.

"Do as he says!" Scully commanded, ignoring the man's obvious appraisal.

"Okay," the perp said agreeably, lowering the blood slowly to the floor.

Hands free of their burden, the man started to rise and leapt. He seemed to fly down the hall at Scully, emerald eyes glowing unnaturally. Mulder reflexively shot twice and Scully managed to pull off a shot of her own before being overtaken. They didn't faze him. Brandon snatched the gun from Scully's hand and crushed it like a beer can. She backed away, trying to pull her aqua eyes from the perp's green ones and not succeeding.

"Scully!" Mulder cried, charging towards them. He pulled out his vial of Holy Water as he ran.

Brandon seemed to sense the threat. Yanking Scully to him, he spun to look at Mulder, one pale hand wrapped around Scully's throat. Mulder froze, vial at the ready.

"Drop it!" the perp snarled, revealing a pair of perfectly pointed fangs.

"I could still use it. It wouldn't hurt her at all," Mulder threatened.

"But I would." He answered simply, dropping the crumpled gun with a thud to the floor. Mulder set the vial down gently.

"Okay, now let her go," Mulder cajoled, using his best negotiator's voice.

"Back up." the man commanded. Mulder moved slowly backwards, eyes only for his partner who, even now, was struggling to escape. Brandon didn't seem to notice her frantic kicks and punches, grip never loosening from around her throat.

Mulder backed into a small nurse's office made almost entirely of glass. The perp and Scully followed him to the doorway, and Brandon slammed the heavy door shut with a bang, compressing the doorknob in the process.

"No!" Mulder cried, throwing himself desperately against the door to no avail. Brandon grinned at him from the hall, enjoying the fish-tank view.

Mulder realized that the door was impenetrable and turned towards them. Scully's ashen face greeted him, her terrified eyes wide and moist. Brandon finally released her throat, spinning her around to look at him. Her pulse under his fingertips had been maddening, and now he was hungry.

She backed away, pressing into the cold glass behind her. Mulder joined her at the glass, only centimeters of liquid sand separating them. Scully was like a deer in the headlights; she couldn't move, eyes frozen in the vampire's gaze. Brandon strode towards her, a look of supreme control flitting over his face.

"Run, Scully! Run!" Mulder's muffled voice vibrated the glass. She couldn't move. Brandon pushed her red locks gently back, uncovering her pale, unspoiled neck. Her pulse beat visibly just below the surface, its song alluring. He opened his mouth; hot, moist breath causing goose bumps to flow in a wave across her body. His two sharp fangs pricked against her skin, and then he was in.

Her body stiffened, pressing her palms against the glass. The pain faded, and she melted towards him, legs crumpling. Backing away from the window, Brandon wrapped his arms around her, lowered her gently to the floor, and continued feeding. Mulder looked on in shock, fingertips pressed against the foggy outline of her handprint, and watched as the only person he cared for was slowly consumed in front of him.

Scully blinked, her eyes focusing on Mulder's anguished face, and Mulder knew. Even through the pain, she held on, waiting for him to rescue her. He tore his eyes from the scene, glancing around the room. That would do. Grabbing the desk chair, he swung it with all the power his muscles could produce. The shatterproof glass spider-webbed and plopped to the floor.

Leaping through the empty space, Mulder skidded to a stop inches away from them. Brandon hadn't moved. He knew that as long as he held her throat between his teeth, Mulder dared not interfere. He stopped feeding, but remained hunched over her body.

"Let her go," Mulder said, kneeling to the floor. "Let her go and take me," he finished, palms open and pleading. Scully's silent eyes opened wide in horror, aching to rescind his offer.

Brandon deliberated for a moment, mentally comparing the petite woman in front of him with Mulder's lanky mass. Her blood tasted funny, soured somehow. He longed for fresh, unadulterated sustenance, and now he had it. Without the strain of suppressing his prey's struggle, he could fully enjoy his meal. Brandon smiled, crimson droplets oozing from his fangs. He rose from Scully's body, stepping around her limp form, and stood over Mulder.

Mulder took one last look at Scully's pleading blue eyes and bared his throat. The vampire lowered hungrily, and, just as his copper tinged breath brushed Mulder's neck, he heard a whisper.

"Please." Mulder said, and Brandon waited for the man to plead for his life. "Please, don't make her watch." He asked, hazel eyes begging for acceptance. Brandon glanced back at the woman, her eyes open and tear-filled. He nodded.

Leaping to his feet, he snatched Mulder up and threw him over his shoulder. He ran, leaving the blood, and Scully, behind.

The two men reached the building. As the basement door creaked open, the smell of death, decay, and embalming fluid wafted up. Mulder gagged; his instinctive reflex a step backwards. Brandon shoved him forwards, following him down the black stairwell.

"I can't see," Mulder muttered, pausing after only a few steps. Brandon sighed, recalling that his all too human prey had minimal night vision.

"Hold on to me," Brandon said firmly, taking the lead. Mulder glanced towards the outline of the door and freedom.

"I will go back for her," Brandon threatened, watching the emotions play out on Mulder's face. Resignation was the last, and Mulder grasped Brandon's shoulder. They tread down the stairwell, pausing once to open a hatch in the floor. The stench faded to only mildly displeasing, as either the distance or adaptation diluted its strength. As they continued down, Mulder idly counted the steps; eighteen, nineteen, twenty... When they reached the twenty-third step, Brandon paused. He flicked a switch, and a woefully inadequate 60 watt popped on.

Mulder looked around. A casket in the corner lay open and inviting, a fluffed up pillow accenting the satin lined interior. A small wooden desk and chair sat against the far wall, laptop computer humming happily in the center, bookshelf full of dark clothes teetering to the left. A chiseled cement doorway led to the bathroom, complete with a rusty showerhead and stained toilet. That was it. The entire 20 by 20 room.

Brandon ignored him. Walking over to the desk, he turned off the screensaver and checked his e-mail.

"You've got mail!" the chipper voice of the computer said, reverberating in the silence. Click, click. After a few minutes of computer keys clicking, Mulder slid down the wall, sitting semi-comfortably in the corner. An hour later, Mulder's eyes would hardly stay open, and he yawned, stretching his jaws as far as he could. How could he even think about falling asleep? He was waiting to die, after all. He shook himself awake and stood, forcing circulation back into his legs.

Brandon grunted and punched the off button of his computer. He stretched and turned, working the kinks out of his shoulders. Glancing at his watch, he grimaced.

Mulder stood stock-still, hoping against hope that Brandon wouldn't be hungry tonight. His hope went unfulfilled.

"How about a pre-dawn snack?" Brandon asked rhetorically. Mulder swallowed hard and pressed into the corner, heart rate speeding up. The vampire strode towards him, blocking the rest of the room from his view. Mulder looked up into his sea-green eyes, waiting for some mystic force to overwhelm him. It never came.

Instead, Brandon's pointed fangs pressed into his jugular, piercing through like a pair of oversized needles. It hurt. Oh, God, it hurt. Every beat of his heart jostled the fangs just enough to send a fresh shock of agony through his body. It took all his will not to fight. Scully, Scully, Scully, ScullyScullyScullyScullyScully... He repeated her name over and over again, reminding himself what the pain was for.

"Scully!!!" he cried as the man's teeth pulled from his throat. Gulping for air, Mulder struggled to stay upright. He didn't succeed, and he felt his body topple over like a Ponderosa pine.

Brandon caught him, dragging him into the bathroom. Exposed piping provided Brandon with a handy place to cuff Mulder's wrist. Mulder looked at his handcuffs in confusion.

"Why?" he rasped, voice barely audible.

"Why the handcuffs? Quite simply, I don't trust you. Oh, I know you wouldn't run off, not if you know what's good for her, but I do think you'd kill me if you had the chance, and I don't plan on giving it to you. As for why you're still alive, well, you're like a sweet dessert; too rich to make a meal of, but delectable a little at a time. You'd better get some sleep; you're going to need it." Brandon finished, yawning.

Flipping off the light, he clumped heavily towards the casket and plopped down with a deep, satisfied sigh.

"Nighty-night," he called sarcastically, but Mulder was already gone.

"Ma'am! Ma'am, are ya a'right?" The small, gray haired gentleman shook her again, trying to rouse her. Scully opened her eyes and sat up with a gasp.

"Mulder!" she cried, looking around frantically.

"E's not in da buildin'," the elderly janitor said kindly, kneeling next to her. "Ya're da on'y un 'ere, 'sides me, a course. What 'appened?"

Scully looked confused for a second, her memory hazy. "Mulder heard something, it was dark, and there was a man, and he attacked me, and, and... Oh, God! He took Mulder!" Scully cried, struggling to her feet.

"Naw, slow down, Ma'am! Ya're 'urt, and ya been unconscious fux a while naw; et's a'most se'en. Let's get ya to a docta, huh?" he asked gently, holding her arm.

"No! You don't understand!" Scully jerked her arm away from him and took off down the hall. "I've got to find Mulder! I've got to..." She got about twenty feet before collapsing to the floor.

"Ma'am! Oh, I tol' ya we needed ta see a docta," the older man muttered, picking her up gently in his scarred and work-worn hands. "Don't ya worry none; I'll see ya fin' yer Mulda."


"Ma'am, there's a Mr. Smithe to see you." The nurse announced, the old janitor peeking around her ample side. "Ten minutes only," she said as she shut the door behind her.

"Et's Smeyethe, not Smithy." The old man muttered at the door. "Well, 'ello dere, Miss Scully. I must say ya look a mite betta den da last time I saw ya!"

"Thanks to you," Scully answered quietly, tear tracks still evident on her freshly washed face.

"Aw, twern't nothin'. I just saw ya was a little pasty an' I dot a couple a da pints a blood dey got here 'll fiz ya up fine. 'Sides, I seen udders a lot worse off 'an you." For some reason, his words managed to loose a rain of tears that seemed never ending.

"Naw, naw! What's dis? Ya warsh doze tears off yer purty face and tale me what's da matta. Zit dis Mulda ya be worryin' about?" Scully looked up and nodded, wiping futilely at her tears. Smithe pulled out an old yellowed handkerchief and offered it to her.

"'E yer husban'?" Smithe asked quietly. Scully shook her head and took the napkin. "Boyfrien'?"

"He's, he's my partner. We work together," she said, sniffling.

"I'd like to wark wit' a purty girl like you. Me, I gots myself an ol' hag of a woman a wark wit', as tough as cowhide an' twice as hairy." Scully chuckled over her tears, finally cracking a smile.

"Dat's what I like ta see! Naw, why don't ya tale me what 'appened to Mr. Mulda, and I'll betcha I'll fine 'im afore da cock crows! Nobody knows dis ar'a like ol' Smithe."

"We were staking out the blood bank, there have been three robberies and Mulder said your building would be next, so we waited there all night. It was about four in the morning and as pitch black as it can get. Mulder heard a noise and went to investigate. It was this guy, about 26, six foot three and 180 pounds. He looked like a kid, all soft-faced and dirty blond hair falling into his eyes. His eyes..." She shuddered, remembering those eyes.

"Eyes likes a cat. 'Wit' a glow dat rivals da moon and a depth a which no man can escape,'" Smithe quoted, whispering the words with a reverence that seemed out of character.

"Yes." Scully said, surprised. "How did you know?"

"Aye, tis Brandin ah right. 'E's new, but 'e's a nasty one. Picky, ta, 'bout whose blood 'e takes. Ya fit 'is list mighty well, but dis partna of yourns, 'e's a small man?"

"No. He's tall and lanky, almost as tall as Brandon."

"Dat don't fit! I've n'er seen Brandin take anyone bigger din 5' 9", and certainly not a man in da prime of hi' life! How'd 'e capture 'im?" Scully looked away, fresh tears creeping down her cheeks.

"Brandon had me. Mulder... Mulder traded himself for me." She choked out the last of the sentence through sobs. Smithe patted her back gently.

"I see naw why ye was so all fire worried about 'im. Brandin didn't... Ya didn't see it 'appen, did ya?" he asked compassionately.

"No," she whispered. "He took him."

"Ah! Dere might be somethin' dere. If 'e went ta all da trouble a takin' 'im away, den dere's still hope left. Don't ya give up, ya 'ear me? Ol' Smithe 'll come through for ya yet." The nurse opened the door and frowned. "I best be goin' den, Miss Scully. Ya don't worry, I'll fine 'im." He patted her hand and shuffled out the door, throwing a dirty look at the nurse and a little wave.

Mulder shivered, jarring himself into the land of the living. The cold, faded tile beneath him sucked the warmth from his body. Standing slowly, Mulder felt as weak as a frat boy with a two-day hangover. He moved towards the sink, intending to get a drink of water and maybe a quick wake-up splash. Before he had taken two steps, his left wrist screamed a warning. The metal of the handcuffs scraped against the copper piping, scratching off a thin layer of mold-green to reveal the shiny red tone that was a sure indication of copper's presence. Mulder stopped, momentarily confused. Why was he chained up in the bathroom? His brain finally caught up with his body, and he remembered.

Raising his free right hand, he hovered over the tender skin of his neck, praying that this had all been a bizarre nightmare. He felt around for a moment, the soreness of his skin rendering it almost numb, and then felt them. Two small, perfectly round holes. Only a thin crust of blood surrounded them; at least he wouldn't bleed to death. Stretching his body as far as he could, he turned on the sink. Gloriously clear water cascaded down into his cupped hand, and he drank thirstily; the lead-like tang bothering him none at all. He couldn't seem to get enough; his body demanding a liquid substitute for the blood he had lost. Finally sated, Mulder turned off the water and froze. There was somebody upstairs. He looked up, the bare floorboards creaking as bars of light flickered through the cracks and a man's footsteps paced across the floor.

Mulder opened his mouth to yell for help, and then snapped it shut again. What good would that do? Even if he were free to go, he couldn't. Tears of frustration welled up in his eyes. Was this his destiny? To become some kind of blood Stop-and-Go until he died? And how long would it take? How many times could he take the pain; how long before his body could no longer function? Killing his captor seemed the only escape, but how could he? The bathroom had not a scrap of wood; even the walls were damp cement. The ceiling boards were many feet beyond his grasp, even if he stood on the toilet, which the handcuffs definitely prevented. He couldn't even wish for his aliens to abduct him. At least, as long as he was here, Scully was safe.

If anything, the sudden maelstrom of thoughts increased his exhaustion. Hunger gnawed at his stomach, making him feel lightheaded. He sat back in his place, still faintly warm, and leaned against the wall. Fatigue overcame him, and he slept once more.

"Get up. It's time," Brandon said harshly, kicking Mulder's thigh with the side of his boot. Mulder blinked several times, eyes adjusting to the now too-bright glow of the lone light bulb. Brandon didn't repeat himself. Yanking Mulder to his feet, he pressed him back into the corner. Mulder stood; the only thing keeping him upright the firm wall behind him and Brandon's palm pressed against his chest. Brandon stood there, huffing slightly in impatience.

"Well?" he demanded, and Mulder finally clued in. He turned his head, exposing the partially healed wounds. As Brandon's fangs sunk once again into his neck, Mulder trembled. A thin sheen of sweat appeared on his brow, his lips a charcoal smudge. It hurt, but not as bad as last time. Perhaps because the holes were already there, or maybe because he was so cold he could barely feel his own skin, whatever the reason, Mulder actually found himself drifting off.

He awoke to the sensation of fangs slowly peeling from his neck, irritating his over-sensitive skin. He didn't know if he had passed out or merely fallen asleep, and at that point it didn't really matter. The sudden absence of Brandon's support left his limp body free to crumple to the floor. He sat shivering in his corner, the thin suit he wore almost no protection from the hunger of the walls. Brandon was back at his computer, clicking away.

"C-c-can I have a blanket?" Mulder's wispy voice floated out of the bathroom.


"It's c-c-cold. Please, ccan I have a blanket?" Mulder asked, hating the needy tone in his voice. A sigh and footsteps.

"Here," Brandon said contemptuously, tossing the thin wool throw in his direction.

Wrapping it around as best he could, Mulder held it tightly closed, his fingers a frosty vice. The fabric was rough and woven loosely; its color old olive brown. He didn't raise his head from studying it, too tired to make the effort. His fingers... the nails were blue. He couldn't muster up much of a reaction, except to think that maybe this was why he was so cold, so tired. He needed water, but the mere thought of standing made him faint. He licked his dry, indigo-tinged lips, and fell into a restless sleep.

"Naw, Miss Scully, ya don't be wearin' yerself out by pushin' ta 'ard. Ya just got out a da hospital dis aftanoon; don't get yerself tossed back en!"

"I'm fine," Scully mumbled, only half listening.

"'Ere it be. Tis da Wilson Funeral Home. Named afta da great President durin' da War ta End All Wars. A course, I don't 'member much ah him, but my pappy use' ta tale me stories..." He faded off and cleared his throat. "Anyways, dis be da place I seen 'im skulkin' about many a night. Yule 'ave ta wait 'till after tin; dat's when Mr. Sikes closes up and goes 'ome. 'E's a bit deef; 'less ya got some kinda paper wark, 'e ain't a friendly type, and don't nobody betta bodah 'im. Dey call 'im Yikes Sikes." Smithe finished in a stage whisper. Scully nodded in response, looking anxiously down at her wristwatch. Nine twenty. She could afford to wait that long; she hoped.

At exactly ten o'clock, the lights in the basement flickered off. Another five minutes for closing up shop, and Yikes Sikes was gone. "Da back a da place is yer best bet," Smithe whispered. "Dere's a loose winda dat Ebenezer Sikes ne'er bodered ta fiz. I come wit' ya, but I'm afeared I be more a hindrinse den a hep," he said, rubbing his leathery hand across the back off his neck. Scully pursed her lips and nodded tersely, flicking the safety off her gun. Before she set out, Smithe grabbed her arm.

"'Ere," he said, pressing something into the palm of her hand. "Ya might need dis." She looked down and nearly started crying again. Mulder's Holy Water.

"Thanks," she managed to squeak out before her throat knotted up completely. She grasped the small vial tightly in her fist. Time to move. Stuffing the vial into her pocket, Scully flicked on her tiny flashlight and scuttled around the side of the building hidden from the street.

"Get up," Brandon said again, kicking Mulder's curled-up form. "I heard something. Get up!" He didn't wait for a response. Pulling Mulder to his feet, he snapped the handcuff chain and shoved him towards the door.

"Get going," he ordered, eyes flickering towards the stairs. Mulder stumbled forward obediently, mind still in that foggy place between awake and asleep. He reached the casket.

"Get in," Brandon commanded, mind mostly on the person upstairs.

No. Not the casket. A physical representation of his fate, the coffin lay like an open mouth, waiting to swallow him. He couldn't get in it. He didn't even want to be near it. He shook his head weakly.

Brandon growled, his patience tested. This wasn't a yes or no question. He pushed him.

Mulder managed to get out a small yelp before the lid was shut over him. The whoosh of air escaping capture drowned out his whimper, and Mulder was surrounded by darkness.

The window popped open almost as soon as she touched it. She recoiled momentarily, the familiar smell of preservatives wafting out the open window and into the outside air. Resolving to ignore the stench and press on, Scully clambered through the window frame and into the darkness.

Brandon crept up the stairs, closing the trap door behind him. The flashlight's bouncing beam was practically a searchlight in the darkness, providing unnecessary illumination. Brandon could see quite well in the faint light of the moon; picking out the small woman's outline was child's play. He strode confidently towards her, casually avoiding what night-blind humans would have tripped over. He was mere meters away...

"Ahh!" Brandon cried, shielding his eyes from the sudden luminescence. The artificial glow of fluorescent lights flooded the basement, too fast for his wide-open pupils to react. Scully spun, her hand moving rapidly from the light switch to her weapon.

"Federal officer! Put your hands out where I can see them! Now!"

Deciding to humor her, as the gun was no threat, he solemnly did as she asked and waited to see if she'd say what he had bet himself she would say next.

"Where's my partner?! What did you do with him?!"

He looked her in the eyes and deliberately said, "He was delicious."

Brandon messed with the wrong woman.

The Holy Water came out of her pocket; she flipped the lid off with her thumbnail, and splashed the contents across his face and chest in one very swift move.

Shrieking in agony, the vampire's skin seemed to liquefy, dripping down in thick streams of salmon colored ooze. Scully backed away in disgusted satisfaction, feeling an almost gleeful sense of vengeance in the perp's pain.

Brandon looked up, evergreen eyes glowing supernaturally, and snarled; his jawbone protruding from the melted-wax of his skin.

"I lied." He rasped out, a fiery spark of maliciousness burning brightly. "He's alive, but now you'll never find him. YOU killed him."

Scully's eyes widened in horror at the words; then she squinted and gritted her teeth, enraged. She snatched up a handful of Brandon's unsoiled shirt and yanked him towards her.

"Tell me were he is." She growled, voice low and ominous. He laughed. Like a horror movie skeleton come to life, his hollow cheekbones stretched wider than possible, no longer constrained by muscle and tendon.

"Tell me!" she screamed, shaking the loose collection of bones and liquid.

"He'll suffocate, alone in the dark. He's almost out of time," Brandon whispered, twisting the knife.

Scully pulled on his shirt once more and abruptly fell backwards, the empty garment flapping with the movement. He was gone; disappeared, dissipated, vaporized. Whatever you would call it; the man had vanished, leaving Scully with a pile of clothes and no idea where to look next.

"Mulder! Mulder, answer me! MULDER!" Scully screamed, turning around and around in a frantic effort to somehow, someway, let him know she was near. She fell silent for a moment, hoping against hope that he would answer. Silence.

Scully took two steps forward... and hit something. The tiny, empty vial rolled across the floor, teetered, and fell. The ring of shattering glass resonated through the basement. A crack: an insignificant flaw in the wood's grain, yet it told all. There was something below this basement- a hidden, secret hideaway.

Even before her brain had reached its inevitable conclusion, she was searching. There. Right there. Something she was sure Mr. Sikes had walked over a thousand times; a perfectly square area of floor, the pattern in the wood just a little off, a slight miscalculation in the carpenter's design. Feeling around the edges, there was an indentation large enough to grip, and up it came.

The light barely permeated the seeping blackness of the room. Scrambling down the steps, Scully dug out her flashlight and shone it about. A desk, a chair, the doorway to what looked to be the bathroom, and a casket. She shuddered at the sight of the closed casket, hoping she wouldn't find a use for one too soon. She walked carefully towards the bathroom, almost expecting Brandon to come popping out, fangs bared. It was empty.

A sad looking scrap of blanket lay haphazardly in the corner. She raised an eyebrow, wondering what in the world a blanket was doing in the bathroom, and then she saw it. One side of a handcuff clamped onto the piping. Holstering her weapon, Scully kneeled next to the cover. A familiar scent rose out of the moldy darkness; an aroma reminiscent of one too many stakeouts in close quarters and twenty hour workdays without air-conditioning. Mulder. She brushed her fingers against the scraped copper pipes, their speckled green protection scoured off by the handcuff's friction. He was here.

She stood abruptly. He had to be close by, but where?

"He'll suffocate, alone in the dark," she said to herself, mentally replaying Brandon's last words. Suffocate... suffocate... The word echoed in her mind. She stepped out of the bathroom and scanned the rest of the basement. As her eyes rested on the casket, she knew. Scully leapt towards the coffin, flicked open the latch, and pushed up the lid. It creaked as it opened.

"Mulder," she whispered, eyes misting as she looked into the box. Bits of dark violet material wrapped serpent-like around his fingers; the satin lining over his face shredded. His pale hands lay quietly at his sides, the left one still surrounded by the handcuff. His poor suit was twisted and misshapen from his struggle; the wooden lid of the sarcophagus marred and scratched where it peeked through the tattered lining. Mulder's dark eyebrows and lashes seemed painted on his sallow face, and his cerulean lips pouted even in death.

Scully brushed his chocolate hair back off his forehead and ran her hand down his stubbly, cold cheek. The collar of his shirt was one jagged crimson stain, and, as her fingers hovered over his punctured throat, tears ran freely down her face.

What had his last moments been like? Did he call her name, screaming for an answer that had come too late? As the air grew thin did he panic, desperately clawing for escape? Or were the marks merely convulsive movements, reacting to the buildup of carbon dioxide in his lungs? Did he fight, or did he go meekly into the night; so sure of death that he welcomed it, welcomed the release? How many times did Brandon use him? Scully was a doctor; she knew the signs of massive anemia when she saw it. How many hours were spent chained up in the bathroom, squirming against the wall and waiting for the inevitable? Did it hurt? The pain had faded with her, but Smithe said Brandon's powers didn't work on men very well, especially men as large as Mulder. If he had to feel that pain the whole time...

"Oh, Mulder," she choked out, cupping his face in her hand. She had so many things she wanted to tell him; so much he needed to know... Her heart felt like it was beating its way out of her body, pounding blood so hard that the tiny pulse in her thumb seemed magnified. Bum-bum. Bum-bum. Bum-bum. Bum-bum. Bum-Bum-bum. Her breath stopped. That irregular beat...

It wasn't hers.



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