He pulled into a space right in front of the building and remembered to be grateful once again for the FBI tag that would keep the rental car from being towed. Without it heíd spend hours just looking for a place to park.
"Itís a new building, they just moved in. Having the homicide labs in the same building should create better efficiency." Scully was unbuckling her seatbelt
"Or a quicker way to screw up." She looked over and grinned at him, but didnít dispute the point. They headed for the front door. "Scully, Iím going to get a paper, see what the local media is saying about this."
"Okay, Iíll go see whoís in charge." She pushed the doors open and headed for the elevators.
He stood on the street, flipping through the paper until he found a mention of the murders. Very low key press; someone was holding the lid on tight. Hopefully it could stay that way; a panic never helped an investigation. It could complicate it though. He folded the paper and headed inside the building. There was actually a lobby, all glass and dark marble. Tax dollars at work, he was glad they werenít his tax dollars. A great lab was one thing, he'd learned the value of them, but palatial offices were a little over the top for police work.
The elevator finally arrived and he ended up stopping on nearly every floor, but finally reached the homicide division and exited. He looked around but didnít spot her, so he headed for the front desk.
"Agent Mulder," he displayed his badge. "My partner should be - "
"Agent Scully, yes sheís with Detective Marcum. His office is over there." Mulder followed the pointing finger. The detectives apparently had the outer window offices surrounding the work area in the middle of the large room. He nodded to the policewoman on duty and headed that way.
The glass wall in the office gave him his first glimpse of Scully. She was looking up and smiling at the man in the office with her. Tall, at least as tall as he was, his hair was lighter, he couldnít really see his eyes from this angle, but could see the laugh crinkles around his eyes as he gazed back at her. Mulder found his pace increasing but before he could reach the office, saw this man place his hand on Scullyís back and move her closer to the desk.
Every hair on his body stood up as though an electrical current had run through him. Why was this man touching Scully? And why there, that was his spot. He didnít bother with the niceties of knocking but fairly burst into the room with them.
Scully turned startled, she hadnít seen him approach? Oh, sheís been too busy looking at this guy to care if he were anywhere around.
"Mulder," she smiled at him, when the hell did she start smiling so much? "This is Detective Marcum, Greg, this is my partner, Agent Mulder."
Greg? How chummy. Mulder extended his hand and shook with the other man.
"Iím sure glad you guys have agreed to help us with this case. Iím not supposed to admit this, but weíre totally stumped. Iím hoping Dana will turn up something that the old coot weíve got missed."
Dana? He turned to smile at Scully and her eyes widened at the feral look behind it, but made no comment.
"Yeah, Danaís good at finding things everyone else misses. The bodies downstairs?" Scullyís eyes narrowed but she kept quiet.
"Yes, I was just getting ready to take Dana down. I have this file for you too. Crime scene photos, the whole thing. Weíre anxious to get this cleared up before the public starts to panic and wild theories start floating around."
"Wild theories? What kind of thing are you thinking?" Mulder was watching him and avoiding looking at Scully.
"Oh you know, nonsense things like ghosts and vampires. Iím sure you know all about the garbage the public will buy these days."
"Yeah, we know that garbage pretty well."
Scully stepped toward the door; "Iíd like to get a look at those bodies now, if youíre ready." Both men approached her and she was struck by the fact that both had their hands out to guide her through the door. She moved quickly so that neither man could reach her and headed out.
She pushed the button to the elevator and stepped on without any assistance. As they approached the lab she felt a hand touch her back. Not Mulder, she knew his touch. That caused a second of reflection, she knew Mulderís touch that well without looking? Business, Dana, stick to business and ignore anything else.
Greg pushed the door to the labs open and allowed her to precede him. Mulder followed them in.
Greg introduced both Scully and Mulder to the coroner and stood back as the last two victims were pulled from the drawers. Mulder stepped forward eagerly; he did want to see these bodies. If it was an X-File, he needed to make sure every aspect was recorded.
Scully was already pulling on gloves and having a discussion with the coroner. They could not find a way that the blood had been extracted from the body in either victim. A third victim had not been autopsied at the familyís insistence, but the cursory exam had shown no clear evidence either. These were young people, healthy organs, and good physical shape. There was a reason and Scully was determined to find it.
After a few minutes Mulder spoke up, "Scully, you donít need me here, I think Iíll head out to the scene and look around. Meet you back here in a couple of hours?" He knew she could handle this better than him.
She nodded, her mind already busy with the bodies in front of her. "Sure Mulder. Call me if you find anything."
"You too." He turned to Greg. "Can you get me directions to where she was found?"
"Why donít I take you there. Iíll show you where we found everything. Maybe I can help."
"Okay, do you want me to leave the car for you Scully?"
"No, Iíll be here awhile. Go ahead and take it." He nodded.
She watched the two of them leave the room. She hoped Mulder would behave himself. It would only make things harder if he antagonized the local authorities. Then she pushed both men from her mind and concentrated on the job at hand.
Mulder stood looking at the site. If "Greg" were to be believed, nothing had been disturbed. The problem was, there was nothing to disturb. The place was bare, concrete floor, three walls, no pictures, and no windows. If it were outside it would be a dead end alley. There was no evidence of violence of any kind.
"Have you checked for blood?"
"Everywhere. Even brought out the black lights, not a trace anywhere. We thought sure weíd spot a drop that might have been spilt." He shook his head.
Mulder was investigating the wall closely now. "Can you find out when this was last painted?"
"Sure." Greg pulled out a pad and made a note. He watched as Mulder scraped paint off the walls at three locations, carefully labeling the bags as to which wall the paint came from. "What are you doing?"
"The paint on this wall is more faded than the others, but that wall receives the most sun. Just thought Iíd check it out."
Greg watched the man carefully, he was serious. "Youíre not kidding, youíre really going to check that?"
"Anything thatís different . . . " Mulder stepped back and scanned the area again. He wasnít picking up on anything else. He sure hoped Scully was doing better. "What about the other sites?"
"Well," Greg rubbed his nose, "theyíre not preserved any more, but Iíd to happy to take you to them. They were outdoors, public traffic areas. In fact one of them was already pretty messed up by the time we got the call, everyone checking it out."
"Thatís fine, Iíd still like to see them."
Neither of the sites were that far from the first, so in a short while Mulder had samples of the paint from all three sites. They headed back to the lab.
"Agent Mulder, may I ask you something?"
"Uh, sure." He looked up from the evidence bags and turned to look at the man beside him.
"Agent Scully, is she seeing anyone?"
Of course she is, she sees me every day, was his immediate reaction. That wasnít what the man was asking. Was she involved with anyone, again the immediate thought was back to himself. Get a grip, Mulder. Heís asking if sheís dating anyone and you damn well know thatís not you.
"Uh, not that I know of." A bland reply, but his adrenaline had risen as though he were facing danger. The desire to draw his gun came to him and he wanted to laugh at himself.
He trailed Greg to the lab and found Scully there leaning over a microscope. Mulder opened his mouth to ask what she had found and heard Greg speak first. "Dana, any luck?"
She looked up and greeted both of them. "Itís the absence of evidence that I found." She gestured them over and moved so that they could look through the microscope. They obediently looked into the eyepiece.
"Well?" Mulder turned to her.
"She died from loss of blood, just as the coroner said. The organs starved to death. What bothers me is that there no evidence of how the blood left the body. The same is true for him. But thereís not a wound on either of them, not a puncture mark, and no evidence of trauma at the throat or rectum. The organs were all intact and healthy. Itís as though Scotty had beamed the blood out of their bodies.
She had managed to hide her smile at the gleam in Mulderís eyes when she heard Greg laugh out loud. "Yeah, right! And William Shatner is our prime suspect." He continued to laugh and she watched Mulderís face turn completely blank and withdrawn.
What was going on with him? Wasnít he going to respond, make some crack to put Greg in his place? Obviously not, as he turned to leave the room.
"I have some evidence I want to overnight to the Bureau."
"Carmalyn should be on the desk now. She can handle that for you." Greg didnít bother to turn and look at him, opting instead to keep his eyes on Scully.
"Yeah, thanks." And Mulder was out the door. Scully had the stray thought that he looked as though he was escaping. She shook that off and turned to Greg.
"Did you find anything?"
"Well, what is he sending to DC?" She questioned; they had to have found something.
"Oh that, he scraped some paint off the walls at each site and wants to have someone look at it. Seems like a waste of time. Doesnít look like heís been able to do much more than we did."
"Give Mulder time. Heíll figure it out, you just might not like the answer."
"Well, if I wouldnít like that answer, maybe you can give me a better one." He moved over closer beside her.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Have dinner with me. I know a great Italian place, we could relax, get our minds off this case, maybe get to know each other a little better."
His smile was more confident that Mulderís. Now why had she thought that? "Well, Mulder may have made plans to work this evening."
"Let him. I donít think heíd want to join us anyway."
"Greg. . . "
"Come on, just dinner. I wonít keep you late. Mulder said youíre not seeing anyone at present, so itís not like Iíd be stepping on any toes. Right?"
"Mulder said." She looked over at the door again. Wasnít seeing anyone? Well yes, technically that was true, but when they were out of town they always . . . But if heíd told Greg there was no one, then that must be how he felt. She suddenly felt very tired.
"Thanks Greg, but itís been a long day. The flight, the autopsies. Iíll probably just go back to the hotel room and turn in early."
"Canít accept that Agent Scully. We donít know how long youíll be in town and I have to grab my opportunity to get to know fellow professionals and see what I can learn from them. Youíll enjoy yourself Dana, Iíll make sure youíre home early, more relaxed."
He smiled that confident smile again. He must go out a lot to have developed that smoothness in his line. But it did kind of sound like fun, and she couldnít remember the last time sheíd gone out with a man for fun. Well, Ed, but that hadnít exactly turned out to be fun and it was ages ago.
"Okay. As long as you promise an early night." His smile grew even bigger. She couldnít help but respond. It had been a long time since a man had looked at her like that. It felt good.
Mulder had found Carmalyn and filled out the paperwork to get his evidence overnighted to the Bureau labs. He was having trouble focusing though, he felt detached as though he had left most of himself somewhere and couldnít find it.
Now what? He wasnít hungry but they couldnít do much else here tonight and he definitely wanted to get out of here. He could discuss the case with Scully and get back on track. He turned as he heard her voice and saw she and Greg come through the door together. At least he didnít have his damn hands on her again.
"Mulder, weíre going to get something to eat. What to join us?"
She had to be kidding. She was going on a date with this guy? And she thought he might want to tag along? Oh yeah. He missed the look she gave him requesting privately that he accompany them, but he was too thrown to pay attention to her. His feelings were suddenly raw and out there.
"Uh, no thanks. I have some stuff I want to look at. You guys have fun." He turned to leave the office.
He only turned part way back toward her, not quite facing her. "Yeah?"
"Nothing. Iíll see you later." She let him leave. He was obviously upset with her. He had no reason; heís the one that told Greg she wasnít seeing anyone. Well fine. She headed over to Gregís office and smiled up at him. "Mulder had plans, so weíre all set."
The smile he gave her was more than warm. Why couldnít Mulder look at her that way once in awhile? You know damn well know why Dana, and heís right.
Dinner was actually entertaining, much better than any date sheíd had in recent memory. At least she had something in common with Greg. He was true to his word and didnít press too hard to go for a drink afterwards, though he did walk her to her room and she knew would have accepted an invitation to enter. She did not make such an invitation, thanking him for a lovely dinner at the door.
When he was gone her thoughts turned immediately to Mulder. Was he in? She ought to let him know she was.
He was fully aware she was in and was still trying to relax from hearing Greg walk away from the room. They werenít together and it was a good thing sheíd had this opportunity to spend time with a man that wasnít a serial killer or freak of nature or him, he finally acknowledged. He heard her tap on the connecting door.
"Come." He looked up and removed his glasses as he watched her enter the room. "Home so early?" Okay, he couldnít resist that one.
"Did you eat?"
"Wasnít hungry. How was your dinner?"
"Okay, the earth moved." He looked up startled and she couldnít resist a chuckle. "It was just dinner and you were invited to join us. Actually it was pretty good, authentic Italian. I thought we ought to check in, I havenít talked to you since you saw the sites. Greg said the evidence you were sending to DC was paint samples. He didnít understand what interested you about it."
Mulder shrugged. "Just a hunch."
"Want to share?" She cocked her eyebrow at him. He finally smiled at her and turned to completely face her for the first time since she entered the room.
"Okay." She kicked off her shoes and made herself comfortable on his bed, pulling the pillows out of the covers to prop herself up. He managed to suppress his grin, but truly relaxed for the first time since heíd seen Greg place his hand on her back. She was still his, at least this part of her was.
"The wall behind each victim was lighter in color that the surrounding walls. It was almost like theyíd been bleached. The other walls werenít affected that I could see, so I sent some paint samples in to be analyzed. Itís probably nothing."
"Right, so what do you think?" Her eyes were smiling even though she refused to let her lips join them. He had a theory and he was dying to tell her but hadnít wanted Greg to hear it.
He looked at her sheepishly, "Okay, Iím thinking radiation. These people were zapped and it vaporized most of the blood in their bodies."
"You canít vaporize blood inside the vessels. Itís already vapor locked, thatís why it doesnít leak out unless youíre punctured."
Both were enjoying this give and take, it was familiar and comfortable. The debate continued for a short while before Scully asked, "I donít see the connection between the victims yet."
"Yeah, theyíre within five years of each other, thatís close enough, but different genders, different backgrounds, living and working in different parts of the city and absolutely no feasible cause of death."
"Do you know how far back they checked? I mean high school, or something. These people arenít that old." She was shuffling through the file he handed her. Heíd now joined her on the bed, stretched across the foot while she leaned against the headboard.
"Iíll check in the morning. Or maybe you better, you seem to have a better rapport with the local PD. Maybe I should have joined you for dinner, maybe then Iíd have a new friend too." The tone was light but she heard the question.
Instead of answering she yawned. "Bedtime Mulder. Iím exhausted. See you in the morning. What time did you want to leave?"
"Eight or so, go get some breakfast, unless youíve already made plans?"
Well, he was getting bolder. She smiled and stood to head toward the door. "See you around eight. You should be good and hungry by then." She entered her own room and shut the door behind her; he smiled to himself when he didnít hear the lock engage. So she wasnít planning on having any company.
His smiled faded; she wasnít expecting him either unfortunately. Thatís the way it was and the way she wanted it. A gloom settled back over him as the loneliness of the room grew without her in it.
She should be ready by now, he tapped on the connecting door and when there was no answer opened it slightly to look inside. He spotted her immediately, sound asleep in the bed. A smile crossed his face and he entered the room.
She was really out of it; he stood watching her sleep. He shouldnít be in here, this was private. Oh, heíd seen her sleep before, usually in hospital beds or car seats, but not like this. To his surprise he felt himself becoming aroused.
He stepped closer to the bed though his mind was telling him to get the hell out. "Scully?"
She stirred but did not wake. He stepped closer and found himself sitting on the side of the bed. Instead of waking, she curled around him. This was dumb; his arousal was becoming painful. He had no business in here, not like this. Why had control of his physical body left him? He watched his hand reach out and caress her cheek. "Scully? Wake up."
"Um, Mulder." Her hand was on his thigh and he knew he was going to explode if he didnít get out of here and soon.
"Scully." He was more insistent this time and she managed to open her eyes. They widened as she saw him above her.
"Mulder? What are you doing in here?" She wasnít frightened, but curious and slightly intrigued at the sight of him here like this.
"You overslept. I guess I kept you up too late. You need to get ready so we can get to work."
"What time is it?" She really was in no hurry to end this particular conversation for some reason.
"Eight?" That woke her the rest of the way. "You should have called me."
"Thatís what Iím doing now. But you probably shouldnít go out like that. Although I donít think Greg would mind."
"Get out of here and let me get dressed." She was only mildly annoyed. For some reason waking to find him over her hadnít been at all unpleasant. She found herself wishing he hadnít mentioned Greg, she hadnít thought of him. Not with Mulder bending over her. Oh get a grip Dana, youíre just thinking like this because you did have an actual date last night. Maybe you should try it more often, then it wonít affect you so strongly.
She was in a good mood headed in to the department, which bothered him more than he wanted to admit. What he didnít realize was her mood stemmed more from finding him over her when she woke than any thought of Greg could have. However, sharing that information wasnít feasible so she kept quiet, but couldnít keep the smile from continually forming on her face.
By the time they reached the homicide floor Mulder was ready to break something. He turned to Scully as he saw Greg approaching them. "Why donít you follow up on the background checks and Iíll see if the labs found anything." He turned abruptly and was gone.
She watched him leave with regret, then turned and smiled at Greg. As the door closed behind him Mulder turned and saw the smile and closed his eyes. Shit! Hadnít he gotten past this last night? She was his only in a business capacity; a beautiful woman like her was always going to be looked at like that. Think about it asshole, every assignment youíve ever been on there was some man noticing her. Why was this time bothering you so much? Because this time sheís looking back, you idiot.
"Greg? How far back have you tried to find a connection between these victims?" Scully looked up from the file she had been reading.
"Work, church, neighborhood. That kind of thing."
"What about high school?"
"High school? These people are in their early 30ís. Thatís decades from high school. Are you serious?"
"Yes, Greg. I am. We need something for Mulder to profile from." Why was he resisting this? It was important. The longer she spent with him the more sure she became of his own inflated opinion of his sex appeal. If he used half the time working on the case that he had on trying to impress her, she and Mulder could already be back in Washington.
Strange, Mulder was every bit as good looking as Greg, well more so if truth be known, but he didnít come across like Godís gift. In fact, she was pretty sure Mulder wasnít aware of how physically attractive he was. Maybe that was the difference.
"Can you get me this information?" She was becoming more and more impatient with the unprofessional manner of his work.
"Yeah, sure. Iíll be right back." He was back shortly; "Theyíre going to email me the high schools the victims attended. Say, where is Mulder anyway?"
"Heís trying to get the information on the samples he sent to Washington. They should have something by now."
"What a waste of time. Iíve heard so many things about that man, I guess I expected . . . I donít know, more."
She felt herself stiffen, what right did this jerk have to judge Mulder? This man couldnít tie Mulderís shoes and he was second-guessing him? Calm down Dana, he doesnít have a clue what Mulder can do.
They both turned toward the computer as the tune chimed to inform them of an incoming email. "Well, what do you know? Mulder was right again." She didnít even try to keep the triumph out of her voice. "They all went to the same high school, decades ago."
Greg tried to make light of it, but Scully had her phone out, calling Mulder immediately. "Itís me. You were right, as usual, all three victims went to Central High, graduated between 1980 and 1983."
Mulder didnít respond, he was still trying to absorb the comment, Ďyou were right as usualí? Was she drunk? Being held hostage? Trying to give him some sort of signal?
"Yeah, Iím here. Is everything okay?"
"Everythingís fine. Iím going to start on this new information. Any other insights you want to give me?"
He actually pulled the phone from his ear and looked at it. Scully? "Listen, Iíll be there in a few minutes and we can go over it together."
"Good idea. See you then." She broke the connection.