Title: Jacob's Father
New York City...
He couldn't really say his boss was a bastard, because he worked for him. Michael knew what he was getting into before he'd been hired so that made him a bastard as well. The things he was paid to do for instance. He knew they were illegal but he did them anyway. Michael was rather short on the conscience end of personalities.
Like tonight. Here he was, standing on a somewhat deserted street, in New York, at night and by himself. He was waiting for a guy who was supposed to pick up the contents of the envelope Michael carried inside his jacket. Michael didn't know exactly what was in the envelope but he guessed they were the newest designs for the "secret" aircraft that his boss had been contracted to develop for the United States Air Force. However, none of it was really his business. All he had to do was deliver the thing and at least this time the stuff had been paid for in advance so he wouldn't have to worry about carrying a large amount of cash on himself. But the best thing about the whole arrangement was there would be no chance for a double-cross. Suddenly, he saw a young man turn the corner on to the street and come towards him.
"Hey... amigo," the kid said.
Michael found himself scowling. He thought the idea of having gang members doing delivery was pathetic. While they could be loyal at times, gang members were usually unreliable.
His silence made the kid suspicious. "Hey man... the stuff's been paid for so don't try no funny stuff," he said nervously, his words tainted with an Hispanic accent.
Michael raised an eyebrow in amusement but said nothing. He liked playing with people's heads, it gave him a certain feeling of power.
"Come on, hand it over before someone sees us."
He had a point. Michael frowned and removed the envelope from his jacket and slowly handed it to the kid.
"See now that wasn't so difficult." The kid replied. "You know I like you, hombre. You come down to the pier, ey? Mi casa es su casa." He finished with a laugh as he turned and began to stroll down the street.
Michael watched him leave just to make sure nobody jumped him and found the envelope. Not that Michael cared about the kid's welfare, just that it would be a bad thing for his boss if something "unexpected" were to happen at this point.
Suddenly he saw movement in his peripheral vision. He turned towards it to see a young boy in a darkened alley. How long had that kid been there? What had he seen? Michael hated when this happened. He was going to have to dispose of the kid. Michael was a careful man and he normally didn't make mistakes like this one. Well, he'd take care of it.
He stalked into the dead end alley. Michael knew the kid had seen him coming this way and since Michael hadn't seen the kid leave he knew the boy was still in here. The alley wasn't very big, just large enough to provide sheltering shadows. Michael quickly scanned the area and spotted the boy trying to hide himself between two trash cans.
Michael quickly grabbed the boy up and turned him so they could see eye to eye. The kid wasn't more than six years old with light brown, almost sandy blonde, hair. The thing that caught Michael's attention, however, were his eyes. The kid had dark green eyes that looked as if a certain wisdom lay deep inside his soul.
"What's your name, boy?" Michael demanded.
At first the boy didn't answer. A strange, peaceful look settled on his expression. "Jacob." He finally said in an angelic voice.
"Jacob what?" Michael asked.
Jacob remained silent.
"What did you see in the street?" Michael continued and was met with silence. He felt his anger rise. God, he hated kids. "What did you see in the street?" He repeated, shaking the kid roughly. Jacob's expression turned from peaceful to alarmed. As if he were just realizing that he was in trouble. With a suddenness that shocked Michael, Jacob kicked. The tiny foot connecting solidly and forcefully with Michael's groin.
Michael bent slightly in pain and his grip on the boy loosened enough for Jacob to wiggle free. Jacob landed gracefully on his feet and bolted out of the alley. Michael turned to follow.
Then Michael heard it... a low menacing growl that reminded him of a lion. Turning to the sound, Michael wasn't expecting what he saw. His mouth dropped open in horror and he reached for his gun. But before he could get the weapon clear of the holster, the thing let loose a roar of pure rage and tore into Michael.
He felt the pain of it ripping open his chest and its claws slashing across his face and neck. The next thing he knew he was lying face down on the pavement and the sounds of police sirens growing louder.
Who had called the police? The kid? Michael thought before he fell into oblivion.
Mulder leaned back in his chair, looked at the clock and sighed. Scully would be arriving soon and he wasn't finished yet. Currently, he was cleaning his desk and he was hoping to be finished before she got to the office because it was supposed to be a surprise.
Well, all he could do now was straighten the piles of folders that normally hid the surface of the desk. The piles that he'd just spent three hours organizing alphabetically. Now, she'd be able to find anything she wanted on his desk. Maybe that would make her happy.
He looked up as Scully walked through the door exactly at nine o'clock like she did every morning. Mulder only had to take one quick look at her before the feelings of guilt washed over him so strong he felt sick. She still hadn't quite recovered from their "nice trip to the forest." Even though the doctors had said she'd be fine, she looked as if she would never be okay.
Scully still hadn't gained most of her weight back. The doctors had said she eventually would but she still had to drink incredible amount of liquids everyday. So much so that Mulder knew her schedule. At ten, Scully would drink two glasses of orange juice. At noon, she would drink two glasses of cranberry juice. At two, she drank V-8. At four, she drank apple juice and before she left at six she would drink water.
They needed their fluids back up, the doctors had told them, and their vitamins. As a result, Scully had stopped drinking coffee in the mornings. Mulder knew Scully missed her coffee. But, the worst thing was, it was all his fault.
If he hadn't pushed for the assignment and if he hadn't called in a few favors they would never have gone to Washington state to investigate the disappearance of those thirty loggers. They would never have found the bugs. They wouldn't have been almost killed. They wouldn't have spent the weeks in quarantine. Scully would still have her coffee.
If, if, if... his inner voice taunted him. You never really thought it out did you. You didn't think anyone would get hurt... the thought never even entered your mind until it was too late. And it was Scully who had suffered.
He looked away as she sat at her desk. She didn't say anything to him. She hadn't said much to him at all since they'd gotten back to D.C. Her silence spoke volumes to him. He was trying to make it up to her, but what can you do to apologize for almost killing someone. He'd started by trying to clean his desk.
"Good morning, Scully. How are you feeling today?" he asked finally.
"Fine, Mulder. Just a little tired," she answered while opening a case she was attempting to work on. When he didn't respond she looked over and saw a brief flash of emotion in his eyes before he covered it by looking away. "Mulder, is there something wrong?"
"No... no, nothing wrong," he said unconvincingly.
However, the lie told her what she already knew. He was feeling guilty over the bug thing, still. She shivered, again, at the thought of those little glowing bugs. She couldn't help it, she still slept with the lights on. She was dealing with it though and she'd eventually get over it, move on.
Mulder, on the other hand, was still beating himself up over the incident. She knew he thought it was his fault. She really ought to tell him that she didn't blame him. He really had no control over the situation and she'd gone with him of her own free will. But, he was being so incredibly nice to her. He held open doors, he got her juice, he hadn't mentioned anything paranormal recently and he'd bought lunch everyday for the past week. She knew she was taking advantage of him. She knew if he continued to feel guilty that it would be unhealthy for him and he already carried around too much emotional baggage.
She opened her mouth to speak and the phone rang.
"Mulder, he answered in the clipped tone he normally used when answering the phone. He "yeah"-ed and nodded at points through the ten minute conversation and finally said, " Okay, I'll be there as soon as I can." He then put the receiver back in its cradle.
"So what was that about?" Scully asked curious.
An uncertain look crossed Mulder's face before he answered. "There's been a murder in New York City and the NYPD has asked for a hand from the Bureau. They want to give it to me." He paused then added quickly, "You don't have to go if you don't want to."
He really was feeling bad. Scully should just tell him right now, but she knew how hard it was to get Mulder to listen. With him, actions spoke louder. "No, I don't mind going. When do we leave?"
Kennedy International Airport
The whole thing had started two weeks ago. A man, Michael Matthews, had been found dead. The coroner thought he was maybe attacked by an animal. The body had not been in good condition when it was found. The NYPD had done what they could with the little evidence they'd had but, apparently, it wasn't enough. Matthews boss, a Mr. Edward Morris, was not satisfied with the apparent slowness of the investigation and had started making a nuisance of himself. So out of frustration, and to get the guy out of their way, the Department had called the FBI for help.
"What's this about a witness again, Mulder?" Scully asked trying to pull him out of the self-induced guilt-trip that he had been in since they'd left DC.
"From what I understand, some kid brought the police to the scene and they think he might have seen what happened but they can't get him to talk," he responded sounding like an obedient child.
Scully sighed inwardly, "What about his parents?"
"The police can't seem to find them."
The plane came to a stop at the terminal and Mulder and Scully got up to retrieve their luggage.
"Don't worry, I'll get 'em," Mulder said quickly as he took her bags and then his.
"Mulder..." Scully began.
"Come on, let's go." Mulder interrupted and gave her a gentle push towards the front of the aircraft.
New York Police Department
Mulder held the door open for her as they entered the building. Scully sighed, she would have to put an end to this soon but he was already making his way to the officer behind the front desk.
"Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully to see Detective Diana Bennett," Mulder said to the bored looking officer.
"Second floor," was the only response as the officer pointed towards the elevator.
"Thanks," Mulder replied sarcastically as they turned and made their way to the elevator doors.
After the short ride to the next floor, the elevator opened on a busy room. Actually, it was an average police office with desks scattered, but organized, across the room. Plain clothed police officers moved purposefully from one point to another and the room was filled with the softly deafening noise of hundreds of different conversations.
"Detective Diana Bennett?" Scully asked the nearest person.
The young looking man distractedly scanned the room while still talking on the phone lodged between his ear and shoulder. He pointed to the far side of the room and then his attention was drawn back to his conversation.
Mulder and Scully made their way to a desk nearest the direction the officer had pointed. It was occupied by a woman with long, curling hair that was so red Scully wondered if it came from a bottle. The woman was dressed in blue jeans, a long sleeved cotton blouse and a black denim vest. From her leather belt hung a badge.
"Detective Bennett?" Scully asked.
"Yes?" the woman answered turning to face them. She was, by all accounts, an attractive woman. She was slight of frame and on the taller side. After giving Scully no more than a cursory glance, the detective turned towards Mulder. Scully saw the appreciative once over the other woman gave Mulder but Scully doubted he noticed it. His mind was already focused on something completely different.
Scully stuck out her hand. "Special Agent Dana Scully of the FBI. This is my partner Fox Mulder." Diana Bennett shook her hand while a slight and subtle change came over her expression. Scully had seen it before, Diana had taken on the stance of, " Oh... the FBI come to take over 'my' case."
"Detective Bennett," Mulder said as they shook hands as well.
"Diana, please," she responded in a pleasant tone that held an underlying coldness.
The tone of her voice caught Mulder's attention and he gave Diana a penetrating stare. Scully usually felt like squirming when he looked at her that way, but Diana showed no sign of uneasiness. Scully was impressed.
Mulder seemed to come to some decision, "Do you have the case file?"
"Right here," Diana said flatly and handed him the file.
He opened the folder and Scully moved closer so she could read over his shoulder. She was slightly shocked when he handed the file to her. She glanced up at him and the look of guilt and remorse she saw in his eyes nearly made her cry.
"Where's the boy?" Mulder asked as he turned back to Diana.
"Safe," Diana said with such defensiveness that it took both Mulder and Scully off guard.
Suddenly, it was clear that sides had already been drawn and Mulder fell into his part naturally. "Well, I'd like to speak with him," he replied in a calm but aggressive tone. He didn't know what this woman's problem was but she was beginning to push the wrong buttons. Maybe she just liked a good fight.
"I'll have to arrange that. He's in a safe house right now and I don't want to jeopardize him in any way. Maybe you'd like to look at the body first."
"Fine... lead the way," Mulder said gesturing for her to proceed.
Scully was intrigued. Instinctively, something about this woman bothered Mulder. Scully could read him pretty easily, and his body language was practically shouting that something was wrong. The sudden tensing of his shoulders and tightening of his eyes, he probably didn't even realize it yet.
"Okay. We'll have to go down to the morgue. We'll take my car," Diana said as she started towards the elevator.
"Michael Matthews," the coroner said thoughtfully as he walked down the isle of silver doors each containing bodies in frozen storage. " Ah... here he is." With a flourish he swung open a door at waist level and pulled out a drawer with a sheet covered body.
The coroner was a tall, thin, balding man with the devil's glint in his eye. Mulder had liked the man on sight. Next to him, he saw Scully quickly cover a smile. Coroners didn't generally take their jobs so nonchalantly.
The coroner pulled back the sheet with all the enthusiasm of a game show host. "Take a look."
Both Mulder and Scully winced in disgust but Diana looked on in detachment. Matthews was indeed in bad shape. Slash marks an inch deep and several inches long crisscrossed his torso. Deep gouges marked his face and neck.
"Yup, pretty bad," the coroner continued. "I've seen worse but the mortician 'bout fainted. He said the family wanted an open casket. Go figure."
"Family?" Mulder asked confused. "Matthews' file says he had no family."
"That would be his employer, Morris." Diana cut in. "In this town he's considered very powerful and every member of his business, Morris Industries, is rumored to be treated like blood. Which is why, when he started pressuring the Department, the chief went to get re-enforcements."
"It does appear that he was attacked by an animal," Scully offered, taking a closer look at the lacerations.
"I'd say... a tiger or a lion," replied the coroner.
Mulder nodded, "What do you think, Diana?"
Her answer was an uninterested shrug.
"Did you get the impression that Diana was acting a little strange?" Mulder asked as he and Scully rode the elevator up to their hotel rooms.
"Hmm... and I thought it was just me," Scully replied with a smile.
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing," she responded. Mulder really was blind. It was no wonder that he didn't have a life.
"She's supposedly working this case," Mulder began, his mind clearly back on his original train of thought. " Yet, she has no theories? She hasn't even checked for missing zoo animals or anything. She knows something."
"Maybe. It may help to speak to the boy," Scully offered.
"That's another thing. He's in a safe house and she doesn't want to jeopardize him? We're the FBI. Okay... maybe she thinks the kid's in danger but she said herself that she had no working theory."
"Mulder, calm down," Scully said seeing that he was beginning to work himself up. "She's probably just being cautious."
"Yeah... maybe. Hey, where's the nearest library?" he asked the bellboy who was trying to be invisible in the corner of the elevator.
"About two blocks south," the young man replied.
"Good." The elevator came to a stop and the doors slid aside. "Just take my bags and leave them in my room. I want to go and check something," he said before Scully had a chance to ask him.
"I'll come with you."
"No," he said a bit too forcefully. "I mean... you should really rest up and maybe have dinner."
"Mulder... really, I'm fine."
"No, no," he said gently pushing her from the elevator after the bellboy. "Besides, I don't know what it is I'm looking for yet." He finished as the doors shut between them.
He was being protective and she knew it. Scully shook her head and followed the bellboy to her room. She tipped him and he left. She went into the bathroom, looked at herself in the mirror and winced.
She *did* look worn-out. Her skin was too pale and, for once, she looked too thin. The bite marks she'd received from the bugs were barely visible, in fact, no one would notice them if they didn't know. Mulder did know, however. No wonder he felt so guilty.
Suddenly, she was glad she hadn't gone with him.
New York Police Department
"You know, Mulder... You haven't told me what you found at the library last night," Scully said to him as they rode the elevator to the second floor. They were on their way to met Diana who was then going to escort them to see the witness.
A strange look crossed his face, "I know."
The doors opened and they made their way across the crowded police room to Diana's desk. She looked up at them, giving Mulder another once over before a distanced expression settled on her face. Scully knew, by the way he tensed next to her, this time Mulder saw the look too. Scully hid a smile.
"Are you both ready to go?" Diana asked.
Mulder was shocked at the tone of hostility he heard in her voice. If the look he'd caught seconds before was any indication, Diana was feeling anything *but* hostile. "We're ready, but I just have a minor question."
"Sure, go ahead," Diana said as she collected her coat from the back of her chair.
"Why didn't you mention that this kind of murder has occurred before?"
"What?" Both Scully and Diana said in unison.
"Yup," Mulder said turning to Scully. "I found out that there were a string of deaths just like this a few years ago. So, why didn't you mention it?"
"I didn't know about them," Diana replied matter-of-factly.
Mulder had to give her credit, Diana lied well.
"Let's go," Diana said and walked quickly towards the elevators.
"Fine," Mulder said following close behind. " But, I'd like all the files pertaining to these murders."
"Fine," she answered.
"Fine," Mulder responded, getting in the last word.
Scully followed dumbfounded. This was like watching an old 'Moonlighting' episode.
The "safe house" was really an old church. Above the door was a carved sign reading: Saint Catherine's Cathedral. The front had concrete walls with delicate forms carved into the surface. Hand crafted oak doors bore the inscription " There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear. The First Epistle of John 4:18." The church had once been beautiful but now looked as worn as the surrounding neighborhood. Upon entering the cathedral, Mulder and Scully were astounded by the beauty of the place. Clearly, Saint Catherine's was an example of the deceiving quality of outer appearances.
Diana made her way over to an aging priest. He was a muscular man in his late forties with dark hair that was just starting to see the faint signs of grey. He turned and greeted their approach.
"Welcome to Saint Catherine's," he said with a voice that made him sound much younger than he actually was. "Hello, again, Diana. What can I help you with today?"
"Hello, Father Percy. These are the two FBI agents I said would be coming today. Special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully this is Father Percy Grant," Diana said as she made the introductions.
"Ah, yes. You've come to see young Jacob. Poor boy, that one. Still no one has come to claim him."
Mulder found himself intrigued by their conversation. Both Diana and Father Percy were slightly emphasizing certain words as if they were having two distinctly different conversations. His suspicions grew. Obviously Diana was in on something and now it looked as if the father knew something as well. Could she be on the take? Was it possible that the boy could be in danger from the very people who were supposedly protecting him?
"I'm sure his parents will come for him soon. In the mean time, he'll be safe here," Diana said.
"We'd like to speak with him now, if we could," Scully replied with a curious look in her eyes. She'd picked up on it too.
"Most certainly." Father Percy responded in a polite tone. "He is upstairs with the rest of the children. Please follow me."
Father Percy led them up a back staircase to the second floor of the cathedral. The stairs brought them to a dimly lit narrow hallway with several doors branching off. One door was standing open, reveling three nuns in a spacious kitchen busily cooking the evening meal. The floors were all made of polished hardwood clearly showing the scratches and wear of small children. Surprisingly, the walls were free of the dirty smudges that normally came with the territory.
Father Percy made his way to a closed door near the end of the hallway. The sounds of children's laughter filtered from behind the ancient looking, scratched and dented wooden door. "This is were all the children play when it's too cold or wet for them outside," Father Percy said with some sadness. " I wish we had a larger facility but, money being as it is, we just cannot provide that for them. Still, they are fed, kept warm and loved as much as we can provide. I just wish we could do more for them, like with Jacob."
"What do you mean?" Mulder asked as Father Percy opened the door on a spacious room filled with about fifteen young children.
"Jacob needs our protection, for now. Soon, the danger for him will be past and someone will come for him to take him somewhere safer. Someplace where he will be taken care of as all these children should be cared for. I only wish it were as easy for the rest of them, he answered to himself almost as if he were alone.
Mulder was about to question the priest again on what it was he was trying to say when Diana interrupted. "Father Percy, please, we are in kind of a hurry."
Mulder glanced at Scully to find his same questions echoed in her eyes. Who would be coming for Jacob? His parents? Did that mean the priest knew where Jacob's parents were? What did he mean by safer and "as easy"? But Father Percy was already wading through the playing children to a young boy sitting on the floor reading a book. Father Percy whispered into the boy's ear and Jacob glanced at the two agents with eyes that spoke of a wisdom beyond his years. Jacob nodded, carefully set the book aside, stood and accompanied Father Percy back over to the agents.
Jacob was a small child only reaching halfway up Mulder's thigh. He had light sandy-blonde hair and luminous, dark green eyes. Mulder estimated the boy's age to be around six years and was amazed to realize that the book he'd been reading was quite advanced for his age.
Mulder bent down to get eye to eye with the boy. "Hi," he said in the non-threatening tone reserved for children. "My name's Mulder. What's yours?"
Jacob eyed Mulder with an almost knowing stare. "Mulder what?" he answered finally.
Mulder smiled. "Just Mulder. So what about you?"
Turnabout was far play, even with kids. "Jacob what?" Mulder asked.
"Just Jacob," the child answered with the devil's glint in his eyes.
Mulder heard Scully smother a laugh. "If I tell you my whole name, will you tell me yours?"
"Okay," Jacob replied getting into the game.
Mulder made a big show of sighing, "My whole name is Fox Mulder." He added a slightly disgusted look when he said it.
"Fox?" Jacob asked. "Like the animal?"
"Yeah," Mulder said nodding. "But I don't like Fox, so it's just Mulder, okay?"
Jacob giggled. "Okay."
"Good. Now, we had a deal." He paused giving Jacob a look that said 'I double dare you.'
"It's just Jacob. I don't have a last name." Then he laughed, proud that he'd conned a grown up.
Mulder glanced up at Scully to find her not quite deftly covering a smile. "You do have a way with kids," she teased.
He shook his head, sighed and turned back to Jacob. "You got me. Are we friends now? Because I don't want you to be scared of me."
"I'm not afraid. You're a nice man," Jacob said with a certainty that went beyond childhood innocences.
"That's good because I need..."
"To ask me some questions," Jacob interrupted. "I know."
"Are you comfortable?" Mulder asked Jacob as he sat on the bed across from him.
They had moved into the sleeping area so Mulder and Scully could question him without the sponge-like ears of the other children nearby. Scully had taken to sitting in a chair a few feet away while Father Percy and Diana stood just to side of the bed where Mulder was.
Jacob nodded. "I like these beds, they're soft."
"That's good." Mulder paused and smiled lightly. "I want to ask you about the night before you came here. Is that okay?"
Jacob nodded again with a slight wariness in his eyes.
"Do you remember the man in the alley?"
"Yeah, he was gonna hurt me."
"Do you know why he was going to hurt you?" Mulder asked glancing at Scully who was dutifully writing everything down on her notepad.
"Well..." Jacob paused and glanced over at Father Percy. "Because I saw him with the other man."
"Do you know what the other man looked like?"
Jacob's eyes again flicked to Father Percy before he shook his head. "It was too dark. I couldn't see him too good."
"That's okay. Did you see what they were doing?"
Jacob looked over to Father Percy again but remained silent.
Mulder turned, "Father Percy, Diana, could you please go into another room?"
Even Scully was shocked at the hard, angry expression on his face. He'd spoken in the form of a question but sounded like a command. Father Percy looked about to protest but was silenced by Diana's compliance as she left the room. Father Percy followed.
"I thought we were friends," Mulder said turning back to Jacob.
"Yeah," Jacob responded.
"Friends tell each other the truth, right?"
"Yes," Jacob answered a little sullenly.
"So why were you looking to Father Percy for the answers?"
Jacob sighed. "'Cause he said he knew what's best for me and I'm not supposed to tell everything."
"Why not?" Mulder asked, successively containing the anger he felt.
"'Cause it wouldn't be best for me."
"You do know what the other man looked like don't you."
Jacob nodded. "I didn't want to lie."
"I know, but now you don't have to. Okay?" Mulder paused. "Now, what were the two men doing?"
"The first man gave the other man a big envelope."
"Did you see what was in it?"
"No. But when the second man left, that's when he saw me."
"What happened?" Mulder pushed gently.
"He grabbed me, asked me my name and shook me. Then I got scared and kicked him as hard as I could."
"Where'd you kick him?"
Jacob looked uncertainly in Scully's direction. He leaned closer to Mulder and whispered, "You know..."
"Ohh..." Mulder smiled and glanced in Scully's direction as well. "That's a good place to kick."
Scully responded with a smile and continued to write.
"I know. Then I ran away, but I bumped into a policeman and had to tell him what happened." Jacob paused, then added quickly, "I didn't see anything else."
"Okay. Do you think you could help us make a picture of the other man?" Mulder asked deciding to skip the obvious signs that Jacob knew more.
"No," Jacob answered firmly.
"Why not? You saw him, right?"
"Yeah," Jacob replied looking uncomfortable. "But if I make a picture then I have to go to court and testify."
Mulder hesitated. He was surprised that a young, street kid like Jacob would know about such things. "Well, yes. Is that a problem?"
"I can't go to court and testify."
"Why not?" Mulder asked a little confused.
"'Cause it wouldn't be best."
"Did Father Percy tell you that?" he said growing angry again.
"No, it's just something that is," Jacob paused again. "Please, I don't want to."
"So, Mulder, what do you think?" Scully asked him as they sat at a small table in Scully's room.
After Jacob had started refusing to answer any more questions, Mulder and Scully had spent the next three hours tracking down the files of the previous deaths. The files had been somewhat hard to locate, as if someone had deliberately "misplaced" them. Diana had not been very helpful until Mulder practically exploded on her. Scully didn't know why, but Diana was almost obstructing the investigation. Well, Diana wasn't really obstructing but she sure was being uncooperative. Finally, they'd gotten all of the files and had returned to the hotel to read through them over a late lunch.
Mulder sighed. "Something weird is going on here, that's what I think."
"Oh, good," Scully responded sarcastically. "I thought I had imagined it."
Mulder shut the file he was reading, glanced over at her and quickly suppressed an upsurge of guilt. God, she looked worn out. "Have you noticed how uncooperative Diana is?"
"Yes , I have. I think she knows something about this whole thing," Scully answered glimpsing the hint of guilt in his eyes.
"Father Percy too," Mulder added. "I can't help but wonder if they've sold out."
"Diana doesn't seem the type."
"I can't get over how unsafe that 'safe' house is." Mulder leaned back in his chair. "The windows to the bedrooms all face a dark alleyway. Anybody could snatch those kids and nobody would know anything."
"So do you think this second man has anything to do with the death?" Scully asked already sure of what he'd say.
"No. Jacob said the guy left while Matthews was still alive. But whatever it was those two guys were doing, it was important enough to try and kill a six-year-old boy." Mulder shifted a little in his seat. "What does Morris Industries do anyway?"
"Um..." Scully pulled a sheet of paper from a pile. "They design and build aircraft for the Air Force."
"Espionage?" Mulder asked. This case was getting more interesting by the minute.
"Maybe," Scully answered. "But we can't do anything, the boy won't testify. We have nothing but speculation."
"Right," Mulder added after a short silence. "So let's try looking at this case from a serial aspect."
Scully waited for him to go on. She found it fascinating to just watch him think. He was the best and most gifted person she'd ever worked with. She could practically see him organize all the evidence and view it a piece at a time. She could see him draw the connections. Finally, when she saw him hit a "wall" she responded, "Okay, what have you got?" She could tell when he needed a sound board.
"We've got a string of deaths starting about ten years ago. All the victims were into criminal activities. Racketeering, assault, attempted murder and the list goes on." He stopped and picked up a file. He sighed, "I don't know. There has to be more of a connection than that."
"I agree," Scully added. "I keep coming across the name Catherine Chandler. Who's she?"
"Who?" Mulder asked taking the folder she was holding. "Oh, yeah. I've seen it too. I think she's with the DA's office. Seems like she's always at the scene when the police arrive."
"Well, it's only four o'clock. She may still be there and we can question her," Scully replied.
Mulder grabbed the phone and got the District Attorney's Office number from Information. He dialed up the number and got some secretary.
"Yes, you may help me," Mulder answered. "I would like to speak with Ms. Catherine Chandler please. Is she still there?"
He sighed, "Who's the DA?"
He paused, listening. "Joe Maxwell? How long has he been in office?"
Another pause, "Alright, can I speak to the DA then please?"
He paused again. "Yes, it is an emergency. This is Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI. Could you put me through please?"
Another pause. "Yes, thank you so very much."
"Well?" Scully asked as he hung up the phone.
"It seems that the secretary has never heard of Catherine Chandler so I suppose she no longer works there. The DA, Joe Maxwell, has been in office for about seven years..." Mulder sighed then added sarcastically, " We have an appointment with him in an hour."
Joe Maxwell was an attractive man. Tall with dark, short hair he cut an imposing figure in a three piece, pinstriped suit. He stood as Mulder and Scully entered his office but his pleasant smile did not erase the weary look from his eyes.
"Mr. Maxwell?" Mulder asked extending his hand.
"Yes, you're from the FBI?" He paused shaking Mulder's hand. "Pardon me, but I have absolutely no idea why you're here."
"Special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully," Mulder offered. "We're investigating a homicide."
"Have you arrested a suspect?"
"Not yet," Mulder answered.
"Then I don't understand why you need the DA's office yet," Maxwell interrupted.
"Sir," Scully replied. "We believe someone in your office may be involved."
A shocked expression settled on his face. "Someone here? Murder?" He slowly sank into his chair behind his desk. " Please," he motioned to the seats opposite the desk.
"We'll start from the beginning," Mulder said sitting. "About two weeks ago, a mutilated body was found in an alley. We've matched the MO to a number of murders which occurred several years ago. According to records, there is a common witness at the scenes who was an employee of this office at the time. We were hoping to speak with her."
"I'm sorry," Maxwell replied somewhat confused. "This is the first I've heard of it. Who is this person? She may still be employed here."
"Catherine Chandler?" Scully added. "Is she still here?"
Joe Maxwell abruptly stood and turned to look out the window. "No," he answered in a low voice.
"Do you know where we can find her?" Mulder asked.
Maxwell faced them with a cold stare and a blank expression. "Yes, but she won't be able to talk to you... she's dead."
"Did you know her well?" Mulder asked.
"We were friends," Maxwell answered flatly.
"I'm sorry," Mulder paused, "Do you know anything about these previous deaths?"
"No," Maxwell sat defeated, the black mood settling over him was almost visible. "I do know they started shortly after she began working here. I was the assistant DA at the time. She never really liked discussing her personal life, but that was just the way Cathy was. I respected her privacy." A shadow of a smile appeared on his face. "We had an unique friendship."
"Could we have her records, please?" Scully asked softly, feeling as if she were intruding.
Maxwell blinked once, opened a desk drawer and withdrew an inch thick folder. "Her case was never closed," he said with some sadness.
"Thank you," Mulder replied standing and taking the file. Scully stood as well and turned to leave.
As they reached the door, Maxwell said thoughtfully, "I have a feeling this one will go unsolved too. None of these ever are."
"This case keeps getting more and more interesting," Mulder said to Scully as he shut the car door and started the engine.
Scully nodded and opened the file on Catherine Chandler. "This case file started as a missing persons. She disappeared one day and turned up dead about six months later."
"Cause?" Mulder asked pulling slowly out into New York rush hour traffic.
Scully flipped a couple of pages. " Somebody shot her up with morphine. She overdosed..." Scully's voice drifted off as something occupied her attention.
"No mysteriously slashed bodies?" Mulder asked with a lightly teasing tone realizing she'd come across something.
"Mulder," she said not having heard his comment. "The investigating officer..."
"Who?" Mulder prodded after she didn't continue.
"It was Diana Bennett."
Saint Catherine's Cathedral
Mulder leaned his head back against the head rest of the car seat. He and Scully had been sitting in the car across from the cathedral for two hours waiting for Diana Bennett to show up. Finding out that Diana had been the investigating officer of Catherine Chandler's homicide had put almost everything in place.
The way Mulder saw it, Diana Bennett had sold out. Whether she'd sold out to Morris, one of his competitors or whoever Morris was giving secrets to wasn't important. What was important was the fact that Jacob was a witness who, logically, should be disposed of. Mulder had wondered earlier why no one had made a move on the boy. He realized, now, that waiting made sense.
Waiting a couple of weeks had let the media cool down. Waiting had let the police department cool down. No one would miss the boy if he were to quietly disappear especially if the person in charge of the investigation was the one who allowed it to happen.
Bennett had probably had a hand in Chandler's disappearance as well. She obviously knew who was behind the slasher murders, Mulder had known that earlier. Hell, the killings might have actually been 'hits' ordered by whoever Bennett worked for. Maybe Catherine Chandler had been covertly investigating these killings and been found out. Consequently resulting in her death.
Mulder had called the police department to see if Diana had still been there and they'd said she had just left. No doubt, Diana knew they were on to her and was probably on her way to get Jacob. She was going to try and finish this whole thing before he and Scully had any solid evidence.
Mulder wasn't about to let Diana cover her tracks so easily. Mulder knew he had a soft spot for kids, he wasn't about to deny it. But he knew he wasn't alone in not wanting anything bad to happen to Jacob. He glanced over at Scully to find her staring at him.
"What?" he asked.
"Nothing," she answered with a slight smile.
He was about to question her further when a car, that was unmistakably Diana's pulled to a stop across the street. " Here she is," Mulder pointed out as Diana got unhurriedly out of the vehicle.
"It's about time," Scully responded. "I was beginning to think she'd already been here and we missed her."
They watched in silence as Diana climbed the concrete stairs and entered the cathedral. Several minutes later, she appeared with the shadowed form of Jacob following close behind.
Mulder watched angrily as Diana opened the passenger side door of her car and Jacob climbed in willingly, almost happily. She then leaned into the car and they saw her fasten the seatbelt securely around Jacob.
"Well, that's strange," Mulder said a little confused. "I wouldn't think you'd be concerned with the safety of the person you're about to kill, would you?"
"I know I wouldn't," Scully replied. "It wastes time."
Diana locked and closed the passenger door then circled around and got in the driver's side door. Seconds later, the engine started and the car began to pull away.
Mulder started their car and began to follow.
Mulder and Scully followed Diana for several minutes before they saw her pull into Central Park. She stopped the car and got out as Jacob did the same. With the headlights off Mulder pulled their vehicle to a stop and parked some fifty yards away.
"I'm gonna follow her on foot," Mulder said as he opened the door and began to get out.
"Okay, let's go," Scully said as she, too, opened the door.
"No!" he practically shouted. "Stay here and be ready to call for back up."
"Mulder, don't be silly," she replied angrily. "I'm not about to sit here and let you go after her by yourself. I'm coming with you."
"Scully, please," Mulder whispered. "The last time, I almost got you killed."
She stared back at him, stunned. She didn't know what to say as she realized he was begging her to stay behind.
Mulder took her silence as compliance and disappeared into the darkness. He could barely make out the forms of Diana and Jacob as they made their way across the park. He made sure to stay in the safety of the shadows created by the moonlight cast between the trees. He saw them come to a stop near the opening of an old drainage outlet and crept closer for a better look. She seemed to be speaking to someone but Mulder could not see who else was there.
Mulder drew his weapon and inched closer. Slowly, he began to make out the soft sounds of the conversation.
"I know I'm late," he heard Diana say in a semi-releaved voice. "But there was an unexpected development."
"You do not need to explain anything," came a second voice. This voice was masculine but almost soothing in its softness. "He is here now. That is all that matters."
Mulder was stunned. Diana was intending to turn the boy over to whatever killer she was speaking with. He raised his weapon and aimed at Diana's back.
"You were followed," the second voice said calmly and unalarmed.
Realizing he was made but uncertain as to how, Mulder stepped out into the light of the full moon. " Alright Diana, hands up and don't move." Out in the open, Mulder could just make out the form of someone standing in the shadows. "You too, fella. Out here where I can see you."
Mulder nearly gaped as a huge figure, shrouded in a black cape and cowl emerged from the darkness. The man stood at least seven feet tall and had the shoulder span of a linebacker. His features, however, were concealed by the cowl that cast dark shadows across his face.
Mulder was even more stunned as Jacob ran to the figure and clung to his leg with a smile of pure happiness. "It's okay," Jacob said to the figure. "He's a nice man. His name is Fox, like the dog in the story. Isn't that silly?"
"It isn't polite to tease a man about his name, Jacob," the figure admonished. "Sometimes, his name is all a man has."
Mulder slowly lowered his gun. He was confused, but somehow he knew this person was no threat to him. "Okay," he said cautiously. "I want to know what's going on and I want to know now."
"It would be best," Diana replied defensively. "If you just turned around and went back to Washington and forget anything happened."
Mulder felt his curiosity turn quickly to anger. "No! It would be best if you told me what's going on or I'll slap you with an obstruction charge so fast you'll wonder what hit you. And while I'm at it, I'll add espionage, treason, murder and accessory to murder charges."
"There's no need," the figure before him answered. Having gained Mulder's attention, the figure turned his head so that the moonlight shone on his face, illuminating his features.
Mulder gasped in shock and took an unconscious step backwards. The figure had the features of a lion. The man was darkly complected with angled cheekbones. His nose was that of a cat and, though long whiskers were absent, Mulder detected the slight presence of fur around the mouth and chin.
Fangs could be seen as the figure spoke, "My name is Vincent and Jacob is my son."
What has gotten into you? Scully asked herself as she quietly stepped from the car. Mulder had just disappeared into the night and she had found herself simply staring at the space where he had been. No matter how guilty he feels, she said to herself, I'm not about to let him go in there by himself. He'd probably end up getting hurt, again. Bad luck just seemed to follow him as closely as Scully was following him now.
Scully could see Mulder just ahead of her pointing his weapon at Diana. She stopped behind the cover of a tree and silently watched. He seemed to have everything under control and she sighed in relief. But as she felt relaxation creep into her muscles, she realized that, besides Mulder, Diana and Jacob, there was a fourth person lurking in the shadows.
Scully tensed and drew her own weapon. Did Mulder see him? But her silent question was answered as Mulder motioned for the fourth person to come into the moonlight. She was shocked at the size of the person, he topped Mulder by a good foot. They were speaking to each other but she could not make out the conversation. Scully wanted to move so she could hear, however, any closer and they would be sure to know that she was here. Backup did no good if the bad guys knew it was there.
"Jacob is your son?" Mulder asked wearily. "Is that true, Jacob?"
Jacob nodded. "That's why I can't testify. Because he'd have to be there too, right?"
"Not necessarily," Mulder answered. "Where do you live? How do I know..."
Vincent interrupted. "It is best that you do not know these things. All that is important is that Jacob will be safe and cared for."
"But..." Mulder started but Vincent cut him off with a sigh.
"You are a decent man Fox Mulder but it is best that you discontinue the investigation."
"You killed Michael Matthews didn't you," Mulder said with certainty.
But it was Diana who answered, "It was either Matthews or Jacob."
"He killed a man," Mulder replied. "I can't just ignore it. There are laws in this country, no matter how unfair they can seem sometimes."
"You don't understand," Vincent said calmly. "Diana is not trying to protect me, solely. There are hundreds who rely on the city's ignorance... I can see that you will not be satisfied with anything other than the complete truth." He sighed thoughtfully then seemed to come to a decision before he continued. " Hidden within this city exists a vast community. In your world, they were nothing but the invisible souls who could find no justice. This world holds nothing but pain for them. But, in my world, they are safe. If they are hungry, they have food. If they are sick, they can be healed. We care for and protect each other. If the people here, in the city, were to learn of my world's existence..." his voice trailed off and he shook his head sadly.
Mulder gazed at Vincent looking for any signs of deception and saw none. Vincent was wrong, Mulder did understand. He was quite willing to let the case go unsolved and he would feel no regret, after all it had been done in defense. He would regret revealing Vincent's existence to the authorities. Mulder knew what would happen. Vincent would be considered a monster no matter how civilized he seemed. He would end up incarcerated or dead depending on public reaction. If that happened, Jacob would be without his father. Mulder knew what hardships Jacob would have to face without his father's support, he'd been through that himself.
Vincent's stance changed and Mulder realized the other man knew what he was thinking and was probably empathic. That would explain Vincent's ability to answer Mulder's unasked questions earlier. Mulder smiled and nodded.
"I do understand. The secret is safe with me, I won't tell anyone."
"You're not going to press charges?" Diana asked skeptically.
"I don't really have any evidence, just a lot of speculation," Mulder replied sullenly. "Besides, no one would believe me. I have a... reputation."
"Thank you," Vincent said gratefully.
Mulder nodded. "Good luck." He turned and began to walk back the way he had come.
Scully watched Mulder approach her position. Something strange had happened during his conversation with the tall figure. Mulder was walking in an easy stride with a relaxed slump to his shoulders.
"Mulder," she said as he got closer. "What was that all about? What about Jacob? Who is the guy you were talking too?"
"That was Jacob's father. He's taking Jacob home where he'll be safe," Mulder answered. He increased the speed of his stride causing Scully to have to watch her footing as she attempted to keep up.
"What about Diana?"
Mulder slowed. "I... I was wrong."
"What about the case?" Scully asked somewhat stunned.
"I think the leads are all dried up."
Now Scully was suspicious. "How about Jacob? He's still a witness to a homicide."
"He'll be fine, perfectly safe. Diana will know how to find him, if they ever catch a suspect."
"Mulder," she replied, "Cut the crap. What did you find out?"
Mulder came to a halt and turned to face her. "Dana, we have a plane to catch."
Scully stood, unmoving as he walked to the car and got in. He had learned something that he felt was important enough to keep from her. She trusted him and she knew he trusted her. She was hurt that he found it necessary to lie to her. Then again, there was alot he knew that he didn't share with her. Scully already knew that arguing about it would get her no where. Mulder had clammed up and was not about to talk. She would just have to trust that he believed he was doing the right thing and maybe someday he'd tell her the rest of the story.
Based on the X-Files characters created by Cris Carter and Ten Thirteen Productions and the Beauty & the Beast characters created by Ron Koslow and Republican Pictures Corporation. All characters used without permission.