DISCLAIMER: The X-files and its characters belongs to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox Entertainment. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you're a fan of Mulder you may want to pass. My eternal thanks to Celievamp for the great beta. This work is better because of your help. All mistakes are my own. Constructive is feedback welcome. A special thank you to Bara_brith and Yellowsmurf6 you both know why!
SPOILERS: Set somewhere in the first half of season six.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Weak in the Knees
By Dhamphir

 

Chapter 28

"So how long have you been back with the Bureau?" John asked.

"About three years."

His green eyes widened.

"I'm sorry I haven't been in touch with you, John." She paused half a beat. "I haven't been in touch with anyone from back then. And I'm never in one place too long since I work on a case by case basis for the Director."

"Where did you go, Jessica? It was like you dropped off the face of the earth after we arrested Conrad."

She let out a sigh. "I went back to England, stayed at my grandfather's place and basically had an emotional meltdown," she said with a rueful half-smirk. "Finally, with the help of an old friend, I got off my ass and decided to go to medical school."

"Really? So you're a doctor now?"

"I've never practiced. Before graduation the Director came to me and asked me to come back to the Bureau. It took some serious negotiating, but I eventually agreed. So instead of taking a residency I came back to the Bureau. Been hopping all over the country ever since." She got up and retrieved a couple of bottles of cold water from the small refrigerator. "So what about you, John? How are Jennie and Jeremy?" she asked as she retook her seat and handed him one of the bottles.

"Uh, Jennie and I finally divorced."

"Oh, John, I didn't know. I'm sorry."

The sandy-haired man shrugged. "You know things were rocky between us for a long time. She had a hard time dealing with the job." His green eyes twinkled when he smiled, "I've got Jeremy's latest school picture." He pulled out his wallet and handed it to his former partner.

"My God! He's gotten so big!"

"Well, he was only five years old the last time you saw him. He's 11 now."

"He looks like he's 14."

"And he's as tall as a 14 year old. He keeps growing the way he has been and he'll be taller than me in no time."

Morgan shook her head. "I remember holding him the day he was born." She smiled at her good friend and former partner. "I also remember the look on your face when you finally got to the hospital and walked into Jennie's room. It's the first time I saw you cry... The only other time was when Toni was killed."

"You know I loved Toni, Jessica. You two were family. I've really missed you."

She nodded. "I've missed you, too. So, where have you been keeping yourself?"

"San Diego. I took a posting there, working narcotics, after you left. And I was supposed to report to the Cyber Crime Division in Norfolk today, but I was tapped for this taskforce. They said I wouldn't start with them until after this case was solved. I heard a couple of the other new agents mention similar stories this morning."

Morgan and Casper were interrupted by a knock on her door. She got up and answered it. One of the mailroom interns was standing there with a bouquet of flowers in a vase.

"This arrived for you, Agent Morgan. It's been cleared by security."

Morgan carefully took the vase so as not to leave any undue fingerprints on it. "Thank you." The intern left as Morgan set the flowers on her desk.

John Casper smiled. "So whose heart have you captured and sent you flowers?"

She frowned. "I don't know." But she had a suspicion. She pulled out some gloves and put them on before removing the attached envelope. She carefully lifted the flap of the envelope and removed the card within.

Roses are red, violets are blue.

I enjoyed Atlanta. How about you?

With a scowl, Morgan dropped the envelope and note into an evidence bag. She walked to the door and called for Taylor who was talking to an agent in the bullpen. He knew something was wrong as soon as he saw her face. He walked into her office.

Morgan handed him the note. "He's toying with us again. This just arrived with these flowers," she said with a nod at the vase on her desk. "I highly doubt he wrote the note, the handwriting is feminine. But we may be able to trace something through the florist." She wrote down the florist information from the card stock on a piece of paper and handed it to Taylor. "I'll take the note and flowers down to the lab so they can check for fingerprints."

"Alright." Taylor followed her out of the office. "Barker, Scully, check this out," he instructed as he handed the information to Scully.

"Yes, sir." Scully felt a frisson of anxiety as she watched Morgan carry a vase of flowers and an evidence bag in gloved hands to the elevators.

Taylor turned to Casper who was also watching Morgan walk away. "I understand you used to be partners with Morgan."

"For six years."

The assistant director nodded. "Then you won't mind keeping an eye on her. This son of a bitch has made things personal with her. Since there seems to be some friction between her and Scully, you're her backup, Casper."

"Yes, sir." Casper clenched his jaw in consternation. He'd been there the last time a suspect made things personal with Jessica. It had nearly destroyed her. And despite not hearing from her during the last six years, he still cared about her just as much as ever.


Casper was waiting for Morgan when she returned to her office. She opened a file and pulled out pictures of the messages written in blood on her wall and Scully's wall. Along with those she set a photocopy of the note from the flowers on the table. "So tell me, what do you think about this guy, John? Because I've been struggling with the profile."

Casper took his time looking over the notes. "Let me see your profile."

She gave him a printout of her original profile, and the revised profile after the notes and phone calls started.

Casper carefully read the profiles. When he was done he looked up at her. "He's definitely changed the rules of the game. But I don't know why the sudden taunting. You're right, it does not fit with your original profile. Of course, that may be the very reason for it – an effort to throw you off your game." He paused. "What kind of flowers did he send you?"

"According to one of the lab techs they were rhododendrons."

Casper went to the computer on Morgan's desk and did a quick online search. He turned back to her. "The symbolization of rhododendrons is 'beware' or 'caution.'"

Morgan let out a snort. "Like hiring a couple guys to beat me up and teach me a lesson isn't enough of a warning?"

The two agents spent the day discussing and dissecting the case. Morgan enjoyed the easy give and take she and her old partner always had. John Casper was a great agent, and she loved him like a big brother. He had been her partner, dearest friend, and staunchest ally back when they were both in the Violent Crimes Unit.

But the truth was... she missed Scully. But she couldn't dwell on what she couldn't have.


Scully and Agent Barker tracked down the florist shop that delivered the flowers to Morgan. They spoke to the owner and verified that the order had been placed in person by someone who'd paid cash. They went to the shop to obtain the security camera video tape. Back at headquarters they reviewed the tape. The person who'd placed the order was just a teenager, probably not even out of high school yet – obviously not the Reaper himself.

On a hunch, Scully called the cell phone company to see if any more calls had been placed on the account they were interested in. But Alan Stillwell verified there hadn't been any more activity on the account since the call placed from Atlanta several days earlier.

She sat at the desk and stared at the closed door of Morgan's office. One new addition to the taskforce had been in there all day with the brunette. And, quite frankly, it hurt that it wasn't her in there. Being closed out by Morgan hurt more than all the times Mulder ditched her, because Mulder would always turn around and need her to do something for him later. It was inevitable. And like a fool, she'd jump to his rescue or to do his bidding, yet again. It was a repetitious pattern.

But with Morgan... she knew Jess wouldn't turn around and play with her like a yo-yo the way Mulder did. If they were going to talk about things again, it was going to be up to her to initiate the discussion. Scully had done a lot of thinking since leaving Miami. Just as the thought of remaining Mulder's partner had become overwhelmingly unbearable, so had the thought of not clearing the air with Jess.


Morgan and Casper finally decided to call it a day. He was going to get checked into his hotel, and then they were going to meet for dinner. She opened the door and they both stepped out of the office.

"Thanks for your help, John."

"My pleasure. I'll see you later, Jessica."

They shared an easy smile, then he turned and left. Morgan turned to reenter her office.

Scully decided to take the bull by the horns. She stood and approached Morgan. "Jess."

Morgan looked over her shoulder.

"Would you have dinner with me?"

"I already have plans," she replied and retreated into her office, closing the door.

Scully was angry at Morgan's dismissive attitude. So much for it being easy. She silently counted to ten, took a deep breath and pushed open Morgan's office door without knocking. She quickly closed it behind herself and spoke before the brunette could react to her intrusion. "Look, I get that you don't want to work with me, but I'll be damned if I'll let you simply dismiss me as if nothing ever happened between us. I thought we were friends, Jess," she said accusatorily.

Morgan sat at her desk, trying to get a hold of her emotions. She responded when she was sure she could keep her voice steady. "I'm not dismissing you. I do have plans tonight. I'm meeting John for dinner. It's been six years since I've seen him – we have a lot to catch up on."

"John Casper? Your old partner?"

"Yes. I may be a number of things, but I'm not a liar." She stood and picked up her briefcase and coat. "Now, I have to go and meet John. I'll see you tomorrow." She left. Alone in the elevator she punched the wall. She knew damn well she had lied to Scully in Miami when she'd said, 'It was fun while it lasted,' insinuating that what was between them was nothing more than a cheap thrill. Seeing Dana everyday was going to be hell.


Morgan and Casper met at a restaurant they used to frequent several years earlier. They spent a pleasant night talking and filling each other in about the last six years. Morgan's phone chirped. She reached down and pulled it off her waist. She had a text message.

I have him in my sights. If you let on it's me i'll kill him.

Morgan kept her face impassive.

"What is it, Jessica? Something about the case?"

"Uh, no. Just a friend," she replied, looking around. Another chirp.

Don't try to look for me. Excuse yourself so we can talk.

Morgan looked up at her companion. "John, could you excuse me, please? I need to make a personal phone call."

"Sure."

Morgan got up from the table and as soon as she stepped into the hallway leading to the bathrooms, her phone rang. "What do you want?" she growled.

"Did you like the flowers?"

"I repeat, what do you want?"

"I see you aren't too much worse for wear after Atlanta."

"You didn't hire very competent people. One is dead and the other is in custody. I would have expected better from you. I would think someone like you could find someone actually capable of carrying out simple orders."

"Don't test me!"

"Or what? You'll have someone try to beat me up again?"

"Or I could decide to take your dinner companion out right now!"

"You aren't that stupid."

"Perhaps you're right. I could always pay a visit to the lovely Agent Scully. After all, she must lonely in the house all by herself."

"What house?" she asked, dread filling her.

"Even you are that stupid. I'm talking about the house at 703 Tribeca Ave. The house Agent Scully is in. The house I can see... right now. She looks quite lovely in her blue silk pajamas."

"You s–" She was cut off when he hung up on her. Morgan slammed her phone shut and marched back into the dining room. "John, we have to go. Now."

Casper recognized her tone of voice and didn't question her. They rushed out to her car. Morgan wanted to drive since she knew where the house was.

"Call Taylor and tell him we may have a problem. Have him contact Scully and the agents watching the safe house. Tell them our UNSUB might be there."

As Morgan sped through the streets of DC, Casper called AD Taylor. They were almost at the house when his phone rang. He wasn't on the phone long.

"Taylor says all he gets is Scully's voicemail and the house phone is busy."

"What about the agents watching the house?"

"No answer, from any of them. He said backup's on the way."

"Fuck! We're almost there."

 

Chapter 29

Morgan brought the car to a stop a block from the house. She saw the first vehicle that contained an agent on watch. Morgan and Casper both got out of the car with weapons already drawn. She was the first to reach the car. One look told her the agent was down. She opened the door and checked his pulse.

He was alive, but unconscious.

"He's out cold."

"Where are the others?" Casper asked.

"Another car, closer to the house. Then there are two agents in the house behind the safe house."

"Check the other car, I'll check on the others."

With a nod they split to their individual tasks. Morgan quickly moved through the shadows and found the second car. That agent, too, was unconscious. All her senses were on high alert, but she didn't see or hear anything suspicious.

She knew she had to get to Dana to make sure she was alright. Morgan stealthily made her way to the house. She felt exposed on the porch at the front door, so she planned on limiting her time there. She gripped the doorknob and, using her strength, forced it to turn despite being locked. She cringed at the noise, but quickly slipped inside.

Morgan left the foyer and entered the lit living room. Scully was sitting on the couch, laptop on her lap, head laid back – asleep, unconscious or dead. She silently moved to the couch and was relieved to note the redhead was breathing. "Dana," she prompted softly. She reached out and placed a gentle hand on Scully's shoulder. "Dana."

"What?!" Scully exclaimed as she abruptly woke.

"Are you alright?"

"What are you doing here?"

"Taylor couldn't get a hold of you. The house phone was busy and you didn't answer your cell."

"My battery died; it's charging. And I was online," she replied powering down her computer and disconnecting the phone line."

Morgan's head snapped up when she heard something at the back door. "Stay here, and stay away from the windows," she ordered as she crept further into the house and to the back door. Casper was the only thing she saw there. She unlocked the door and let him in.

"Both agents in the house are unconscious, but their pulses are strong. I called Taylor and told him to send a couple ambulances to check them out," he reported as they headed back to the living room. "How's Agent Scully?"

"She was asleep on the couch."

"What the hell is going on?" Scully demanded when Morgan returned with Casper.

"I received a call," Morgan replied as she moved to a window and carefully peeked out.

Before Scully could ask more questions, Casper spoke. "The agents in the house in the back and the two out front in the cars are all unconscious."

"What?!"

Morgan turned to look at Scully and moved from the window. "I received a text message and then a call while John and I were talking after dinner. First he led me to believe he was at our location. But then he made it clear that he knew where the safe house was and that you were here alone." She looked pointedly at Scully's blue pajamas. "He complimented you on your... attire. We called Taylor and he said he couldn't get a hold of you or the agents on watch–" Morgan was cut off by something she saw – a targeting laser moving along the wall towards Scully. "Look out!!" She threw herself at Scully, knocking her down as the window broke and quiet impacts of silenced rounds hit various items in the room.

Casper was the first to move. "Stay here! I'll check it out."

"John! He's using a targeting laser!" Morgan warned as he headed out the back of the house in an attempt to circle around the shooter.

Scully started to get up but was forcibly held in place by Morgan. "Stay down," she growled.

"Damn it, Jess, let me up!"

"No. Not until it's clear."

Sirens were soon heard and police cars with flashing lights skidded to a halt in front of the house. Unmarked F.B.I. cars were right behind them. Morgan still wouldn't let Scully move until AD Taylor entered through the front door. "Morgan! Casper!"

"In here," responded Morgan.

Taylor stepped into the living room. "Where's Scully?"

Morgan let Scully up from where she was on the floor behind the sofa.

"Here, sir."

"Are you alright?"

"Yes. I'm fine."

"Where's Casper?"

Morgan answered, "He went after the shooter." She continued before he said anything more. "The agents out front are unconscious. And from the sweet odor, I'd say he used chloroform on them. Casper checked on the ones in the house. They're also unconscious, but I don't know how they were knocked out."

More sirens could be heard and Taylor looked outside. "The ambulances are here now. They can check the agents out." He pinned Scully with a look that said she had no choice. "Go pack. You're being moved."

Scully didn't like it, but under the circumstances... She retreated to her bedroom and started to pack. She also changed out of her pajamas.


Casper returned and entered through the front door. "Sorry, Jessica, I didn't find him."

She shook her head. "I don't think anyone could have. He obviously put planning into this. His phone call to me, chloroform for the agents out front, whatever he used on the agents in the back, silencer for his weapon, laser sight... it's all part of his plan."

"Well, thank God he missed," Casper replied.

Morgan frowned. "That may have been part of the plan as well."

"What do you mean?" Taylor asked.

"He could have taken Scully out while she was asleep on the couch – he'd already taken care of the lookouts. But he texted me and called me. He told us where he was and that Scully was vulnerable. He gave us the time to get here."

"Then maybe he was actually after you instead of me," Scully remarked as she returned to the living room with her packed bags.

The brunette sighed. "A possibility, but I doubt it. He's had more than ample opportunity to kill me. Even when he hired a couple thugs it was to beat me up, to just deliver a message, not to kill me. He also used the threat of killing John to control my actions at the restaurant. No, I don't think he wants to kill me. But hurt me? By hurting someone I care about? Yeah."

Casper gave his old partner a concerned look. "He knows your buttons and is pushing them, Jessica."

She shot him a perturbed look that made it clear he wasn't telling her anything she didn't already know.

"Well, either way, we need to get you two out of here." Taylor glanced at Casper. "Actually, I'd say the three of you."

"What?!"

"This guy has successfully murdered at least 30 women that we know of; he's been leading the Bureau on wild goose chases; he leaves clues that mean nothing and doesn't leave clues that do; he took out four trained agents tonight. And now you are the second agent he's directly threatened, Casper." He glared at Morgan and spoke before she could object. "And you are the one he's seen fit to... spar with. So, I want the three of you somewhere safe – even if I have to plant you in a conference room in headquarters with sleeping bags!"

Morgan closed her eyes in frustration. She knew the director, and knew that one word from Taylor and he'd back up Taylor's orders. She ran a hand over her face and let out a sigh. "Alright. But we don't have to stay at headquarters. I'll make arrangements. I just need to make a couple phone calls." She took out her phone and left the living room to give herself some privacy.

"MacRusso."

"Hey, Mac. It's me."

"What's up, Jess?"

"I need you to take care of a couple things for me."

"That's why you pay me. Shoot."

Morgan told her lawyer, Lindsey MacRusso, what she needed and then ended the call.

Taylor made a couple of calls of his own, coming up with a way to get the three agents out of the house and to whatever location Morgan made arrangements for without being recognized, in case the Reaper was still haunting the area.

Morgan rejoined the others in the living room. "I've made some arrangements. I expect a call back shortly letting me know everything has been taken care of."

Taylor nodded. "It'll be a little bit before you can leave anyway."


"So, tell me, where will you be staying?" the AD asked.

"I don't–" Morgan was cut off by her phone ringing. "Morgan... Alright. Thanks, Mac." She hung up. "Sorry," she said in apology for the interruption. "I don't think it's a good idea to say where we'll be. But it is very secure. There's no way he'll be able to get anywhere near us without us knowing. All we really need to do is get out of here without being followed."

At that moment two more agents arrived, both female, brunette and wearing blonde wigs.

"I think I can help with that," Taylor replied with a pleased smirk.

The blonde wigs were removed and given to Scully and Morgan. A third wig, a red one, was produced and one of the recent arrivals put it on.

"You may want to exchange clothes to better sell this," Taylor said.

With a nod, Morgan indicated for her decoy to follow her back to one of the bedrooms. Scully led the other decoy to the bedroom she'd used. Once clothes were swapped, the four women returned to the living room. Wigs in place they all checked each other out. Casper traded coats with a male agent as well.

"Well, it won't pass close inspection, but it should be enough to throw someone off the trail long enough for you to get away," Taylor pronounced. "Okay, you know what to do," he said addressing the decoys.

"Yes, sir."

The three decoys, and a fourth agent to drive, exited the house. They were noisier than necessary and obvious in their intentions to head to F.B.I. headquarters, the Hoover building.

Quite a bit later, after the ambulances, police cruisers and extra agents left, Morgan, Scully, Casper and AD Taylor silently slipped away unnoticed.

"Okay, Morgan, where to?" Taylor asked in the car.

"The airport – Dulles, cargo hangars."


It was after 1:00 a.m. when the private chartered jet took off, with Scully, Morgan and Casper on board. About two and a half hours later the jet landed in Key West. As soon as they exited the jet they were taken to the helipad where a helicopter waited to take them the final leg of their journey. Only 25 miles and a short ride later the helicopter landed on the private island of Pecuniary Key. A man was waiting for them when they disembarked.

"Lady Essington?"

Morgan stepped forward. "Yes."

He held his hand out. "I'm Greg Titan. Lindsey MacRusso called me."

"Thank you for making the arrangements so quickly."

"My pleasure. Since you rode the helicopter out here I brought the boat so it's here for you use. Likewise, a car is parked on the lot on Summerland Key. Here are the keys to the car, boat and house." He handed her the items. "I didn't know what you would and wouldn't want, but I did stock the kitchen. And here's my number," he said giving her a business card. "If you need anything – provisions, the helicopter, anything – call me, day or night."

"Thank you."

He walked to the helicopter and got in. It took off, returning to Key West.

Morgan turned and looked at her companions. "Well, let's take a look at our new accommodations."

 

Chapter 30

Scully and Casper exchanged a look and followed Morgan into the three-story house.

The building was less than four years old and an unusual shape – two octagonal structures linked together and surrounded by airy verandahs. On the first floor were a large anteroom and a staircase leading up the actual living quarters. The second floor contained the laundry room and three bedrooms, each with their own full bathroom. The third floor consisted of the fully equipped gourmet kitchen, a spacious great room with a 14-foot, beamed ceiling and a wet bar, and the dining room which offered a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding islands. Also, just off the kitchen was a workstation already set up with internet access.

It was after 4:00 in the morning and all three agents had been going since early morning of the day before. So, they each retreated into a bedroom and went to sleep.


When Scully woke up in the morning she smelled eggs and bacon. She opted for a fast shower. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, she joined Morgan and Casper on the third floor. She found Morgan at the stove cooking and Casper sitting out on the verandah.

"I know it's lunchtime, but I opted to cook breakfast. How many eggs do you want?" Morgan asked without turning around.

"Two. Scrambled, please."

"Coming right up. There's some juice in the refrigerator and if you want some coffee it's in the cupboard above the coffeemaker."

"Thanks." Scully moved to the counter and opened the cupboard with the coffee in it. She silently started a pot in the coffeemaker. Scully turned, leaning her hip against the counter and simply watched Morgan as she cooked the late breakfast. "Can I ask you a question, Jess?"

"Do I have a choice?" the brunette quipped, her trepidation coloring her voice with irritation.

Scully sighed sadly and looked away. "Never mind," she said softly.

Morgan dropped her head and took a slow breath. "No. I'm sorry. What did you want to ask?"

"What's up with the name Essington? I mean, you used it in Miami, and now here. Is it a cover identity?"

"No. It's who she is," came Casper's voice from the open doorway to the verandah.

"I don't understand."

"Our Jessica comes from nobility. She is Lady Essington," he said with an amused smile.

Scully saw Morgan blush as she plated everyone's breakfast and carried the plates out to the verandah. She sat down and started buttering her toast. Scully and Casper joined her at the table.

"So, your name is really Jessica Essington?"

"No. My name is Jessica Morgan... but my grandfather, Geoffrey Morgan, was the Earl of Essington. My mother was Lady Elizabeth Rodier." She looked at Casper who was grinning like a fool. He had always gotten a kick out it. "Shut up, John."

"What? I didn't say anything."

"No, but you're thinking it."

He simply snickered and took a bite of his eggs.

"But you said you were Lady Essington, not Lady Morgan," Scully pointed out.

Morgan silently sighed. "As my grandfather's sole living heir, I inherited his title and estate."

"I thought titles were handed down through male heirs."

"Most are, but not all."

"Well, you are full of surprises, aren't you?"

Morgan wasn't sure what to make of Scully's tone of voice, so she simply started eating her breakfast.

"So, where exactly are we?" the redhead asked, changing the subject somewhat.

"Pecuniary Key. It's a privately owned island which the owners rent out. The only way here is by helicopter or boat, so there's no way the Reaper can get here without us knowing it. But we're only a few minutes from the airport by helicopter; and with our phones and internet access we can still work the case."


After breakfast, Morgan gathered the dishes and returned to the kitchen. Dana followed and volunteered to wash the dishes.

"No need. It's John's turn."

"What?"

"It's sort of a tradition. Whoever does the dishes gets to cook the next meal. And John said he wanted to cook dinner."

"That's right! We're having grilled steaks tonight," Casper said enthusiastically as he joined them.

Morgan turned and pinned him with a look, arching an eyebrow. "You are not grilling my steak, John. I prefer my steak not to be burnt."

"I do not burn steaks. I just prefer them cooked. But you, if you stuck a steak with a fork and it mooed you'd say it was cooked just right."

Morgan's eyebrow arched higher. "Whatever. You are not cooking my steak, John." She glanced at Scully. "And if you have any hope of enjoying yours you won't let him cook your steak either." With that Morgan turned to go downstairs to her bedroom to change clothes. "I'm going for a swim before getting to work."


It wasn't a very large pool, but it was enough to let Morgan stretch her muscles. She wasn't sure how she felt about Scully knowing about her familial background. But since she'd found her in Miami under the name Essington, it wasn't exactly a complete secret. However, there were few people in the F.B.I who knew – John, the Director... and now Scully. Toni had known, of course, but not until they'd been together a while.

Morgan finished her swim, went back into the house, changed out of her swimsuit and went to the computer workstation off the kitchen. She went online and checked her email and some reports.

"Anything interesting?" Casper asked from behind her.

"I was right about chloroform being used on the agents in the cars. The agents in the house were knocked out with chloral hydrate. It was found on their pizza, at near overdose level. They were lucky."

"Where did the pizza come from?"

"Pizza King. They're interviewing all the employees who were working last night and looking for the delivery driver."

"Looking for the driver?"

"The driver apparently didn't go home last night. He hasn't been seen since leaving work."

"Do you think he's dead?"

"It's possible. But it wouldn't really fit with the M.O. I think it's more likely that the delivery person was hired or bribed by our guy, or possibly even duped somehow."

Casper grabbed a chair from the kitchen table and set it next to Morgan's, facing her. "Jessica."

Morgan heard her old partner's tone of voice. She looked at him. "What?"

He reached out and took one of her hands in his. "It's been six years, but I still know you, Jessica. What's wrong?"

She frowned, "You mean other than working a case trying to catch a man that's killed possibly as many as 100 women?"

"I'm not talking about work. Or at least, not the case." He looked into her grey eyes intently. "What's going on between you and Scully?"

She should have expected it – John had been her partner and best friend for years. And despite her lack of communication with him for the last six years, he still knew her better than just about anyone... even if there were a few things he didn't know. But it didn't mean she wanted to have this conversation. "Nothing."

"Bullshit nothing. Come on, Jessica, talk to me."

She rubbed her hands over her face and leaned back in the chair with a sigh. "It's personal, John. Just let it go. Please."

"It's affecting the job."

She gave him a sharp look and snapped, "Don't you think I know that?! Why do you think she was at that safe house alone? I tried to walk away."

"From what? The case?"

"Of course not." She paused for a very long moment. "From Dana," she said in a whisper.

"What happened, Jessica?" he asked gently.

She couldn't meet his eyes. "I screwed up, John. Big time. I... I let her get close... too close."

"And?"

"And it didn't work out. What more do you want?" She abruptly stood up, pushing her chair back. "I'm going for a walk." Morgan left.


It was dark out and Morgan hadn't yet returned to the house. The island was less than 500 feet long and 300 feet wide, so there weren't exactly a lot of places to hide or get lost. But John also knew from experience that Jessica needed alone time, particularly when sorting out her feelings. He also knew, from experience, that she could retreat into herself too far if left alone too long. While preparing dinner he decided that he would give her until after he and Scully ate dinner... and talked. Then he would retrieve Jessica from her self-imposed isolation.

"Only two steaks?"

Scully's voice brought Casper out of his thoughts. He glanced at the grill where two steaks were cooking. "No use grilling Jessica's if she's not going to join us."

"What do you mean?"

Casper nodded to the woods surrounding the house and clearing. "She's out there somewhere; has been almost all day." He took one of the steaks off the grill and put it on a plate. He handed the plate to Scully. "Here you go; one steak medium rare."

"Thank you."

"Go on in. I'll be right behind you."

Scully went into the house and up to the dining room. She poured iced tea for Casper and herself, and set out the salad and dressing. Casper joined her a few moments later, bringing his steak and aluminum wrapped potatoes for them. The two agents sat down and began their meal.

"Mm, this is good."

Casper smiled. "Contrary to what Jessica would have you believe, I do know how to grill a steak without burning it." He chuckled. "But I will admit to charring a few in the past."

After eating the majority of his meal Casper decided to sound out Scully. "So, how long have you been on the taskforce, Agent Scully?"

"About a month and a half. And you can call me Dana."

"And you've been working with Jessica the entire time?"

"No. She joined the taskforce a month ago."

"But you've been working closely together."

Scully nodded.

"So what happened?"

Scully felt uncomfortable. "What do you mean?"

Casper pinned her with a look that clearly said he wasn't going to let it drop. "Something is going on between you and Jessica, and I know it's personal. Normally I wouldn't poke my nose into it, but it's got Jessica so twisted up in knots that it's affecting her ability to do her job." He pointed his fork at the redhead. "Fix it, Agent Scully."

Scully frowned. "Jess has made it quite clear she doesn't want to work with me anymore – she had me removed from the case."

"Yet you're still here," he pointed out.

"I told the Director I wanted to stay on the taskforce."

"So, you didn't give up and pushed to get what you wanted. Right?"

Scully nodded.

"Then you should do the same thing with Jessica." He paused. "That is if you want to work things out," he said easily. His tone hardened as he continued, "But if you don't want to work things out with her – leave. Walk away and let Jessica get over whatever it is that happened. Because no matter what happened she doesn't deserve to be toyed with." John abruptly got up, placing his plate, glass and silverware in the sink before going down to his bedroom.

Scully was a bit taken aback by Casper's attitude. It was, after all, Jess that had ditched her and left an impersonal note ending their professional and personal relationship. And she had tried to get Jess to talk to her – more than once. She took a deep breath and let out slowly while trying to rein in her ire.

Scully then thought about the apparent care and protectiveness Casper had demonstrated for Jess, even after not seeing her in almost six years. Quite frankly it impressed her. Every person Scully talked to who knew Jess expressed how much they respected and cared about her. Well... everyone except Mulder, and, given his behavior, he hardly qualified as rational where Jess was concerned.

Scully got up and put her own dishes in the sink. She started the water and added some dishwashing soap. She absentmindedly washed the dishes as she considered her next move. Almost before she knew it she finished the dishes. As she put the last glass in the drainer she smiled when she realized she was on the hook for their next meal since she did the dishes. Folding the hand towel after drying her hands, she took a deep breath and let it out. It was time.

Scully walked down the stairs to the first floor and then outside. She glanced around the area and headed out... to find Jess.

Casper smiled as he watched from a second story window.

 

Chapter 31

Dana found Jess sitting on the end of the dock. Without waiting for an invitation, she sat down next to her. "You've been out here a long time."

"Been thinking."

"Yeah. Same here," she replied softly. "Look, Jess, you don't have to talk to me, but I'd appreciate it if you'd hear me out."

The brunette nodded.

"I'm sorry for the way I reacted. I was surprised and caught off guard. I'm a scientist; I need to be able to understand things and have them make sense. Finding out you're... well, it threw me."

"I can see how it would," she conceded.

"Jess, I was thrown off balance, but I was never afraid of you. You may be half vampire, but I know you're not a monster; I know you're one of the good guys."

Jess simply nodded.

After a few seconds of silence, Dana again spoke. "I want... I want things to be okay between us, Jess. I want to be friends again."

Friends. Could she really be friends with Dana? Maybe... maybe not. But she could at least be civil to the woman. "I'm sorry for the way I handled things. I shouldn't have taken off like I did. At the time I felt it was the right thing to do."

"Why?" Dana asked without reproach, not wanting Jess to shut her out now that she was finally talking to her.

"Because I knew you wouldn't be very happy about being lied to and misled – especially since we... got so close. I couldn't imagine you wanting to work with me after that, so I got you released from having to do so."

"What did you lie about?"

Jess looked at Dana in disbelief. "It was the lie of omission; I didn't tell you what I am." She looked away and back out over the dark water under the almost moonless night.

Dana thought about it. "How do you tell someone you're half vampire?"

"As a rule, I don't." Jess smirked. "Although, I admit a few perps have seen my other half – it's helped a few times during interrogations."

Dana had a sudden insight. "That's why you wanted the camera turned off when you were with Conrad!"

Jess smiled. "I confess it was rather satisfying to wipe that arrogant sneer off his face."

Dana couldn't help but smile at the image of the brutal serial killer suddenly finding himself alone with a pissed off vampire. She let out a chuckle. "I'll bet."

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Jess decided to open the door a little more, despite her feelings.

"I know you have questions, Dana. Ask them."

Dana was silent. She wasn't sure what to ask first. She had wanted answers, but now that she was getting them she wasn't so sure.

Jess looked at the redhead. Dana had demanded answers, yet now she was silent. It was irritating the already troubled woman. "Ask."

"And how old are you? 75? 100? 200?"

"Actually, I'm younger than you. I just turned 33."

"When was your birthday?"

"The 23rd."

"That was my birthday! Why didn't you say anything?"

Jess shrugged. After a few seconds she prompted Dana. "I know that's not the question you really want to ask."

"I'm not sure how to ask... or even if I should."

"Well, I suggest you ask while I'm willing to answer," she snapped. "This is not an experience I'm particularly looking forward to repeating."

Dana took a deep breath and dived in. "What about blood?"

Jess took a slow breath. She knew it was inevitable that she'd be asked about it. "I've never taken human blood. And I don't drink blood unless I need to."

"How often... do you need blood?"

"Not often, but if I go too long without it I can get rundown and sick. I also need it to heal when I'm injured."

Dana looked at Jess with realization. "That's what was in the paper bag Det. Marinelli gave you on the way back from the hospital."

Jess nodded. "Yes. It was a pint of pig's blood."

"You mean you can just go into a drug store and buy a pint of pig's blood?!"

"Only businesses that cater to a certain clientele. And not just pig's blood."

"A certain clientele?"

"Vampires, and half-breeds like me, are in every part of society, Dana. From boardrooms to hospitals to law enforcement to skid row. In that sense we aren't any different from everyone else."

"How did Marinelli know?"

She looked at Dana. "Bobby is a vampire."

Dana's eyes widened. After a few moments she dared another question. "Do I want to know where the blood comes from?"

Jess pinned Dana with a hard look. "I don't know. Do you?"

Dana hesitated. Did she really want to know? What would it change? But she was afraid that if she didn't get the answer now, the opportunity would be forever lost. She gave a small nod.

"Cow and pig's blood obviously come from livestock. Human blood is voluntarily donated. It's available prepackaged or fresh from... a donor."

"By donor you mean..." Dana felt a little queasy.

"I mean, there are some humans who volunteer to let vampires feed on them." Jess shook her head. "Some of them get addicted to it."

"Addicted? Why?"

"Because of the way it makes them feel. They say it... feels good. Unfortunately, if they get together with an undisciplined or unscrupulous vampire, it can have a deadly cost. But most vampires are careful, particularly since feeding directly from a human can have consequences."

"What do you mean?"

"They say human blood is like no other. For some it's like a drug. For others is can become a physical life and death need which no other kind of blood can satisfy – they can literally starve to death on cow or pig's blood. And for some, feeding directly from a human can create an unbreakable bond, affecting both human and vampire the rest of their lives. They all say nothing compares to human blood, especially for healing."

"But you've never..."

"No. I've never had human blood." Jess took a deep breath and let it out. She'd had enough. She'd never discussed these things with anyone than her grandfather. "I'm tired. I'm going to go to bed." She stood up and walked back up the pier, leaving Dana alone.

After Morgan had left Scully sat on the end of the pier for several minutes. She had managed to get some answers from Jess, but she wasn't sure what it had accomplished. At least Jess was talking to her again, even if it was clear the brunette had been uncomfortable with their conversation. She finally got up and made her way back to the house. After taking a long, hot bath she put on her pajamas and slipped into bed.


Morgan woke up early in the morning. Since she'd spent so much of the day before off by herself thinking she got busy working. She used the great room on the third floor. She put up the pictures of the victims and crime scenes on the walls. She also put up pictures of the messages in blood from the Reaper.

Morgan settled down with case files, pen and notepad. She'd been too distracted lately. She needed to refocus and find the way back inside the killer's head.

When Scully woke up in the morning she headed up to the third floor and started preparing breakfast. Casper soon joined her. They exchanged a few pleasantries while she fixed breakfast. When it was time to eat Scully called for Morgan to join them. Since Morgan didn't reply, Scully left the kitchen and went into the great room.

Morgan was standing next to a wall, closely peering at crime scene pictures. Case files were scattered on and around the coffee table in front of the couch, as were several balled up pieces of paper.

"Jess?"

Casper appeared by her side.

"Jess."

"Leave her be," he said gently. "It's best to just let her work when she gets like this."

"She needs to eat. She hasn't had anything since breakfast yesterday."

"Trust me, she won't starve... but she may break the case open." Casper gently pulled Scully back to the kitchen.

After Scully and Casper finished breakfast they went into the great room. Even though Casper had spent a day with Morgan going over things he was still new to the case. So he and Scully went through the files as well and discussed details of each victim and crime scene.

The day passed uneventfully.

As did the next.


Morgan's cell phone woke her up Friday morning, the 19th. "Morgan."

"It's Taylor."

"What is it?"

"We got another one."

Morgan closed her eyes and clenched her jaw. "Where?"

"Boston."

"Alright. We'll be there." She ended the call and then called for the helicopter to take them to the airport. She then woke the other two agents.

By the time the three of them were dressed and ready the helicopter was arriving.

They landed in Boston at Logan International Airport at 1:37 in the afternoon. An agent from the local office was waiting for them as they disembarked.

"Agent Morgan?"

Morgan stepped forward and took the agent's hand. "Hi. This is Agent Scully and Agent Casper."

"Agent Sean Travis. The ASAC sent me to take you to the crime scene."

"Let's go."


The crime scene was in a small, but well kept, house in a quiet neighborhood. The victim was Sheila Cousins, a 28-year-old real estate agent. Morgan slowly made her way through the victim's house. She picked up a framed picture of a striking, green-eyed redhead.

"That's the victim," Agent Travis said, announcing his presence right behind Morgan.

"Where's her family?"

Travis pulled out a note pad. "Parents are in Seattle; they're flying in and should be here tomorrow. There's also a twin sister who lives in Montpelier, VT." He looked at his watch. "In fact, she's due at the morgue in about half an hour."

Morgan looked at Scully. "Why don't you go on to the morgue so you can be there when the sister arrives, Dana?"

Scully nodded. "Alright."


Less than half an hour into the autopsy Casper showed up at the morgue.

"How is it going?" he asked Scully.

She looked up. "No surprises so far. Where's Jess?"

"She's still at the crime scene." Seeing Scully's questioning eyebrow he added, "She wanted some time alone to look around and get a feel for the victim's home."

"You left her there alone?"

Casper nodded. "It's not the first time she's wanted some time alone to get the feel of a crime scene. And, as she pointed out, the threats haven't been made against her; they've been made against you."

Scully was angry. "But it was her that was set up in Atlanta!" She snapped her gloves off and walked over to retrieve her phone.

"She wasn't hurt though because she arranged for backup. Jessica knows how to handle herself. She's been working alone for three years."

Scully merely glared at him as she dialed. It was obvious that Jess hadn't told Casper about the severe beating she'd taken in Atlanta. As the phone rang in her ear she paused in thought. How could Jess tell anyone how severe the beating had been since she showed no signs of it? Scully figured that meant Casper didn't know about Jess.

"Morgan."

"Jess, it's me. What are you doing?"

"Just taking a look around the victim's place."

"Alone?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Why?! Jess, you promised me you wouldn't take any unnecessary risks."

"And I'm not."

"You shouldn't be there alone. Not after what happened in Atlanta."

"You're the one that was shot at the other night. Atlanta wasn't about taking my life; it was about teaching me a lesson. I'm fine, Dana. Don't go anywhere without John."

Scully's retort was cut off by Morgan hanging up on her. Scully put her phone down and returned to the autopsy table. She was too angry to attempt even minimal conversation with Casper.

 

Chapter 32

Morgan went through the victim's home taking note of small details: family pictures, perfumes on her dresser, frozen dinners in her freezer, appointments in her organizer, etc. She had a feeling something important was to be found, some vital clue... if only she would recognize it. After a couple of hours she finally left Sheila Cousins' house.

A Bureau car had been left for her so she drove to the victim's place of work. It was a small but clearly upscale real estate office.

"May I help you?" the receptionist/office manager asked when Morgan entered.

"Yes. I was wondering if I could speak with someone about Sheila Cousins. I'm Special Agent Jessica Morgan with the F.B.I."

"Oh." The woman was clearly thrown. "I can't believe she's dead. Sheila was such a sweet person. Everyone loved her."

"Did you know her well?"

"About as well as anyone here, I guess."

"Can I get your name?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm Monica Reed."

"Thank you. Was Sheila seeing anyone, Monica, or did she get any personal visitors here?"

"I don't think she was seeing anyone, and Sheila was very, very professional. She only had clients come in to see her. Most of the time, though, she would meet with clients at the properties she was showing."

"Was she a busy agent?"

"Oh, yes. Sheila is– was our top agent." She gestured to some plaques on the wall behind Morgan.

Several of the accomplishment plaques had Sheila Cousins' name engraved on them. "Would it be possible for me to take a look at her desk and computer?"

"Of course. Let me show you her office."

Monica led Morgan to Sheila's office and then left her alone. Sheila Cousins was apparently very organized. Everything seemed to have a place and be in its place. She turned on Sheila's computer and opened up the calendar and other files. The victim was very meticulous and organized; it appeared that every appointment she ever had with a prospective client was listed and cross-referenced. Almost every minute of each day was accounted for. Something caught her eye. It appeared Sheila had had several meetings with a new client over the last week. Even more interesting was that the same name had showed up in her personal calendar at home.

Russell Schiff.

It had been 11 days since the murder in Miami, so the Reaper had the time to come to Boston and pose as Russell Schiff... if it was him. Either way, Russell Schiff needed to be checked out.


"Agents Morgan, Casper, Scully?"

"I'm Agent Casper." He gestured to Scully who was just coming back after having changed back into her clothes after finishing the autopsy. "This is Agent Scully. What can we do for you?"

"I'm Agent Lessing. The ASAC sent me to take you to your accommodations for while you're here in Boston. Where's Agent Morgan?"

"She's not here right now. She'll join us later," Casper answered.

The young agent nodded and took Casper and Scully out to the car. Lessing drove them to the Holiday Inn Express on Boston St. Lessing flashed his badge and spoke to the front desk manager. The manager, Melissa O'Rourke, started to check them into the rooms reserved by the local field office.

Lessing turned to Casper and Scully and held out the car keys. "Here you go. If you need anything don't hesitate to call the field office."

"Thank you," Casper said as he took the car keys from Lessing.

"Have good evening, Agent Casper, Agent Scully." He turned and left.

"Agent Scully?" Miss O'Rourke asked.

"Yes?"

"I have something for you." She retrieved an envelope and handed it to Scully.

"What's that?" Casper asked.

"I don't know." Scully opened the envelope and took out the note contained within.

Sorry I missed you. Perhaps we'll connect in Boston. R.

Casper saw the expression on Scully's face. "What's wrong?"

She turned the note so he could read it.

"Damn," he breathed. "Who the hell knew we were going to be at this hotel?"

"Obviously someone at the Boston field office made the arrangements, but it should not have been general knowledge under the circumstances. You and I didn't even know where we'd be staying."

"Well, somehow our suspect does." Casper opened his phone and called Morgan. "Jessica, it's me. We've got a problem... The local office made arrangements for us to stay at a hotel. There was a note waiting for Scully when we got here. He knows we're here... Alright... We'll wait for your call." He hung up and looked at Scully. "Jessica didn't know about the arrangements either. She's going to make some calls and get back to us. In the meantime, we're not going to check in here." He spoke to Miss O'Rourke and canceled their rooms.


When Morgan left the real estate office she called the Boston field office and gave them Russell Schiff's name so they could start checking him out. She made a second call and then drove to Darren Lenihan's home.

Dr. Darren Lenihan was a Psychology professor at Harvard and Morgan had been his T.A. (teaching assistant). She knew of no one better than Dr. Lenihan at delving into a mind, especially a disturbed mind. She knocked on his front door and smiled when he answered.

"Jessica!"

"Hi, Dr. Lenihan."

"Now, now, you know to call me Darren, unless you want me to call you Dr. Morgan," the grey-haired man said as they shook hands. "Come in, come in."

Morgan followed the older man into the house. They sat down in the living room.

"Can I get you something to drink, Jessica?"

"No thank you."

"So what can I do for you? You were a bit mysterious on the phone."

"I want to pick your brain," she replied with a smile.

They hadn't been talking very long when Morgan's phone rang.

"Excuse me." She opened her phone. It was Casper calling to let her know about the problem at the hotel. She looked at her old professor when she hung up. "The suspect left a note at the hotel the F.B.I. made arrangements with for our stay."

"You've got a leak."

She nodded. "I didn't even know where we were going to be staying. Please excuse me while I make a couple phone calls."

"Take your time. I'll put on a pot of tea." Dr. Lenihan got up and retreated to the kitchen.

Morgan called the local field office and asked to speak to the SAC, the Special Agent in Charge. She questioned him about the arrangements. He indicated it was his ASAC who had handled them, so she spoke to the ASAC. Agent Cooper said he'd received a call from AD Taylor about making arrangements for secure accommodations for them. So he contacted the hotel and arranged for Morgan and the other two agents to stay without having to use their names. That was the reason Agent Lessing had taken them to the hotel and spoke with the desk manager.

"Well, we won't be staying at the hotel since our UNSUB already knows about it."

"What can I do to help, Agent Morgan? AD Taylor made it clear you were to be afforded every courtesy and that the safety of you and the other agents was a high priority."

"Just make sure everyone keeps their mouths shut and there aren't leaks about the case. I'll make other arrangements for our stay here. Thank you." Morgan hung up and called Taylor. It was then she discovered he had never contacted the Boston field office. Something was definitely wrong.


"Why don't you stay at my place, Jessica?" Dr. Lenihan proposed.

"We wouldn't want to impose."

"Nonsense. Besides, I'm talking about my condo. I've lived here in this house less than a month. The townhouse is unoccupied."

"Where is it?"

"It's on Concord Ave. I bought it when they were built in '87. It's actually Harvard faculty housing. Since I'm retiring after this year I'm putting it up for sale. Consider it yours for however long you're here in Boston."

"That's very kind of you, Doc– Darren. Thank you." Morgan called Casper back and let him know where they'd be staying. He assured her that he would get Scully and himself there without any problems.

After Morgan was done with her phone calls, she and Dr. Lenihan continued discussing her profile of the UNSUB.


At the hotel Casper and Scully made their way out a service entrance in the back. From there they took a cab to the address Morgan had given them. Just as promised, a key was hidden away in a compartment of a brick, one of several bricks that lined the small walkway to the door. Casper ushered Scully in after unlocking the door. He followed her in.

Casper and Scully changed into casual clothes and then sat the kitchen table going over the results of the autopsy and the information they'd received from the local agents about the victim.

But Scully wasn't happy with the situation. She all but slammed a folder down on the table, stood up and started to pace in the kitchen. "Doesn't it bother you that Jess is out there alone while we're holed up in this townhouse like a couple of timid mice?"

Casper leaned back in his chair. "First off, I trust Jessica – implicitly. She was my partner for six years and she never once let me down. She saved my life more than once because of her exceptional observational skills and insightfulness. She's gone above and beyond more times than I can count. She's more than earned my respect, trust and loyalty. And second, I don't consider being prudent acting like a timid mouse. There have been direct threats made against you and it's obvious the Reaper knows you're here in Boston, as evidenced by the note at the hotel."

"I don't need to be babysat and coddled!"

"Perhaps not. But Jessica does need to know you're safe. Look at this from her point of view for a minute. Her entire career at the Bureau has been about going after the worst of the worst, the real monsters. She's taken them on and won a hell of a lot more times than any other profiler. She never let them intimidate her or scare her off. She almost lost her life to one, but even that didn't stop her. The only thing that got to her was the murder of someone she loved. It broke her and it made her run. She resigned from the Bureau, cut off contact with everyone in her life, and went to medical school. She could have chosen to withdraw completely from life; it's not as if she ever has to work another day in her life. But even after everything she'd been through, she still wanted to help people and make a difference, so she went to medical school. But instead of becoming a doctor she came back to the Bureau. She's worked alone ever since; not getting too close to anyone, not allowing anyone close to her, not letting herself care too much about anyone except the victims." Casper paused and waited until Scully returned his gaze. "Not until you."

Scully started to say something but Casper held up a hand stopping her.

"I don't know exactly what has and hasn't happened between the two of you, and I don't need to. But I do know that she let you get close and that she cares a great deal about you. Having someone hurt, or worse, because of her, or her work, is Jessica's greatest fear and nightmare. One she's already had to live through once. It nearly destroyed her. Imagine what it would do to her to have to go through it again."

Scully sat back down with a silent sigh. "I talked to her on the island like you asked, but she still hasn't been very open with me. I'm beginning to think there isn't a way to make things right between us."

"I doubt that – it's obvious she still cares – or else it wouldn't be affecting her as much as it is." He paused for a moment. "Let me offer you a piece of unsolicited, friendly advice. When it comes to Jessica, patience and persistence pays off." At Scully's confused look Casper continued. "Toni had to ask her out several times before she finally agreed, and several more times before she did so a second time."

 

Chapter 33

Scully looked at Casper. "Why are you telling me this?"

"I obviously don't know you very well, but Jessica has good instincts about people. If she let you get close it's because she saw something special in you. If you want... it'll be up to you to pursue what you want. Jessica won't. She will deny what she wants if she believes it's in the best interest of someone else that she do so."

"So in other words–"

"It's totally up to you. You're the one who has to decide what you want and whether to pursue it or not."

Scully let out a heavy sigh. Now she just had to decide what it was she really wanted with Jess... if anything. She jumped slightly when Casper's phone rang.

"Casper."

"Hey, John. Have you guys eaten yet?"

"No, we haven't."

"Alright, I'll pick something up on the way. We'll be there shortly."

"We?" Casper asked. The only response he got was silence since Morgan had already hung up.


The front door opened.

"Hey, guys. Food's here!" Morgan called out. She appeared in the kitchen with a grey-haired man on her heels. "John, Dana, this is Dr. Darren Lenihan. Dr. Lenihan, this is Agent John Casper and Agent Dana Scully. We're working the case together."

"Please, call me Darren," Lenihan said as he shook hands with the other agents.

Morgan emptied the bags and set out several different selections of Chinese food.

"There should be some plates in the cupboard to the right of the sink, Jessica," Lenihan told her.

Soon dishes were filled with food and everyone was enjoying their meal.

"Darren's the one who volunteered this place for us to stay. It's his condo," Morgan informed Scully and Casper.

"Thank you for your hospitality, Dr. Lenihan," said Casper.

"I told you, call me Darren. I hear Dr. Lenihan and I think I'm in class," he replied with a smile.

"What do you teach?" Scully asked.

He looked at Morgan. "You didn't tell them?"

She shook her head.

"I teach Psychology here at Harvard. Jessica was my T.A. when she was here." He grinned. "In a way I was sorry to see her graduate. She was the best T.A. I ever had."

Morgan snorted. "That's just because you had me grade all the papers from the grad students."

He grinned. "I did enjoy watching them try to argue with you. You were never intimidated and rebutted their arguments point by point."

Morgan shrugged, "Right was right and wrong was wrong."

They finished up dinner and cleared away the dishes.

"Now, let me see this note from the hotel," Lenihan said.

Scully arched an eyebrow in question and looked at Morgan.

"It's okay, Dana. I asked for Darren's help. He taught me everything I know about profiling and there's no one better at getting inside someone's mind than he is."

Scully retrieved the note and handed it to the professor.

"Well, he didn't actually write this," Lenihan said almost immediately. "The handwriting is too neat. He either had someone else write it for him, or someone wrote this while taking a message."

Casper nodded. "We spoke to the desk clerk at the hotel who took the message over the phone. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything else he could tell us."

"What do you think about this message and the others, Doc–" Scully cut herself off at the corrective, but lighthearted, look she received. "I mean Darren," she finished with a smile.

"The author of the messages is... puerile. He's selfish, extremely egocentric and not happy unless he's the center of attention. He's the kind of person that would say, 'If I can't have you, no one can,' and eventually follow through on that threat."

"How does that fit with the murders?" Casper asked.

Lenihan shook his head. "It doesn't. The killer is sophisticated, a true genius and possibly gifted as a child. He's meticulous since he doesn't leave behind clues unless he chooses to. He's very socially adaptable since he's engaged women of varying backgrounds and income levels."

Scully jumped in. "Couldn't he have targeted the women at random and not have any contact with them prior to the actual murder?"

"He most likely does pick them at random, but he definitely interacts with them before he kills them. He's shown familiarity with their residences – meaning he'd been inside their homes at least once. And based on the frequency of the murders and the geographical distance between them, I'd say he earns their trust quite quickly. I'd say he's quite charming and just about 'sweeps them off their feet.' Obviously money isn't an issue for him. So he's from money, either his family's or his own. If he's working it's for himself." Lenihan looked at Morgan. "I shouldn't be telling you anything that you don't already know, Jessica. You are exceptionally gifted at profiling, you always have been. I didn't teach you all that much – you're a natural."

Morgan sighed. "There's just something about this one that doesn't feel right. Something that I can't... figure out."

"How do you reconcile the author of the messages with the killer?" Casper asked.

"They are two distinct personalities," Lenihan said without hesitation.

"Are they two different people?"

"That is the question. I don't know. It very well could be two different people, or simply two different personalities of one person. I don't know. And you won't know until you catch him."

"What does your gut tell you, Darren?" Morgan asked.

The professor looked at his former student and felt concern. "He's made this a personal thing between you. He's taunting you. Sooner or later he's going to make you pay, and I'm afraid he knows enough about you to know how to hurt you the most."


After Dr. Lenihan left the townhouse Morgan changed out of her suit. She grabbed her laptop and settled down on the couch in the living room. She was joined by Casper.

"I can hear the gears turning in your head, Jessica. What are you thinking?"

She sighed. "I'm just wondering what would be the best move."

"What do you mean?"

"This guy has focused on me personally, as his foil to test himself against, and as a target to be played with. It might be a good idea to remove myself from the equation. Walk away and let someone else get this guy."

"What? You've never backed down or walked away from a case. Why start now?"

"Because I've never backed down or walked away. He may be counting on that. And I really don't know how much good I'm doing since, as you pointed out, he knows my buttons and is pushing them. I'm not being proactive; I'm only reacting to him."

"Well, you can be proactive without walking away, Jessica."

"How?"

"By changing the game; by not waiting to react to him; by making him react to you." He paused. "When you figure out how to do that, you'll be that much closer to catching him."

"And what if it's not just him? What if there are two of them?"

"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Just concentrate on what you know. Know what the game is and change it." With that he patted her leg and left her alone.


Morgan stayed up late into the night. As result she fell asleep on the couch. The smell of breakfast cooking woke her up. She went into the kitchen to find Casper making breakfast.

"Hey, John," she said while yawning.

"Morning. What time did you finally fall asleep?"

"I don't know. But I feel like I've gotten two or three hours of sleep."

"Sit down." Casper set a plate in front of her and poured some juice.

Morgan frowned. "Where the hell did this food come from?"

Casper smiled. "I went out and got it at the grocery story."

"Why?"

"Because I felt like making breakfast."

Morgan looked at him and frowned. "Who the hell are you and where's the John Casper I know?"

He laughed. "After Jennie left me I had to fend for myself. I also like to cook for Jeremy when he's with me."

Scully soon joined them and they all enjoyed the breakfast Casper cooked.


Starting the workday, the three agents drove to the Boston field office. Morgan set Casper and Scully on the trail of Russell Schiff, the name in Sheila Cousins' work and personal calendars. She then started making some phone calls.

Morgan quickly found out that the pizza delivery driver had finally been located. He was a 21-year-old named George Linz. He was found coming back into the country after having spent some time in Mexico. According to his statement, Linz was stopped by someone who flashed a badge and claimed to be an F.B.I. agent, when he exited his vehicle. He demanded to inspect the pizza before Linz delivered it to the agents in the house. Afterwards, the man who stopped him gave him a big tip for his inconvenience.

After leaving work that night, Linz stopped at a convenience store and bought some scratch-off lottery tickets. He ended up winning several hundred dollars and, on a lark, decided to take off for some fun in the sun in Mexico. Which he did without telling anyone. Unfortunately, Linz was completely unable to provide a description of the alleged agent that stopped him, because the man had worn a coat with a hood that obscured his face.

She then called Alan Stillwell at the cell phone company. She had him check the account records and verify there hadn't been any further activity on the account since the texts and call she received the past Monday.

Morgan then spent time interviewing the parents and sister of Sheila Cousins. The remainder of her day was spent interviewing her friends and coworkers.


It was 3:00 in the morning when her phone woke her. "Morgan."

"How do you like Boston?"

Instead of replying, Morgan had decided to follow John's advice and change the game. She hung up on the caller.

He called back. "Don't do–"

She hung up again.

The phone rang again. "Listen! I'm not going to play your fucking game so you might as well quit calling," she said before he could react. She hung up and turned off her phone.


Somewhere in Boston, a dark figure stared at his phone in dismay and anger. "You fucking bitch!"

 

Chapter 34

When Morgan got up in the morning she turned her cell phone on and checked her messages. There were a number of messages from the suspect – all full of angry ranting. Part of her felt pleased she had ruffled his feathers by refusing to talk to him. But the other part of her was concerned about what his response would be.

Morgan joined Casper and Scully for breakfast.

"How are things going with tracking down this Russell Schiff?" she asked.

John answered. "He doesn't have a Massachusetts driver's license. No address, no accounts, nothing that can be traced to him."

"Have you tried neighboring states?"

He nodded. "New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island. I also checked Maine and New Jersey. There's a Russell Schiff in New York, but he's 87 years old and has been in a nursing home for four years."

"Is there any reason for us to stay here in Boston?"

"I'm afraid not. We can continue to work the case via computer and phone. The local agents are handling any local interviews. They'll report if they come across anything."

Morgan nodded. "I spoke to Taylor. He's sending a couple agents to follow up our investigations here."


After breakfast the agents packed up and made their way to the airport. They had an hour and half layover in Atlanta. While waiting for their flight from Atlanta to Key West to board, Morgan turned her cell phone on. She wasn't surprised to have a couple more messages by the suspect. He was clearly still angry. Then she got to the last message he left. He actually asked her to call him.

Morgan moved away a few steps to place the call. "What do you want?" she asked as soon as he answered.

"You really shouldn't ignore me!"

She hung up. She wasn't surprised when her phone almost immediately rang. "What?"

"God da–"

She again hung up. Once again her phone rang. "If you can't keep a civil tongue in your head we have nothing to discuss." She hung up and turned off her phone as she followed Casper and Scully up the jetway to the plane.


After landing in Key West the helicopter took the agents back out to Pecuniary Key. After changing into casual clothes, all three agents quietly worked. When Morgan didn't answer her ringing phone, Scully picked it up from the coffee table.

"It's him."

"I know."

"Aren't you going to answer it?"

"Nope. I already told him at 3:00 this morning, and again while we were in Atlanta, that I wasn't going to play his game and he needed to keep a civil tongue in his head. He can wait until I'm ready to talk to him."

John looked up and caught her eye. He smiled. "Good girl."

"I don't understand. Don't we want to talk to him?" Scully asked.

"By refusing to talk to him on his schedule Jessica has changed the game. The suspect is now reacting to her instead of the other way around. She's taken some of the control away from him."

"But doesn't that risk he'll kill sooner rather than later?"

Morgan nodded. "It's a possibility. But as long as he pissed at me, and thinking about me, he's more likely to make a mistake if he's emotional. I've got to keep him off balance."

It was only an hour later when Scully received a call from the cell phone company. The calls were originating in Boston. For once, they were ahead of him and he was the one playing catch up.


Morgan took a break late in the afternoon and went for a walk. She ended up down at the pier again. For the first time in a long time, she felt better about their chances of catching the killer. She always knew they'd eventually catch him, but somehow it felt as if the odds were finally on their side. And all it took was changing the game. She wondered why the hell she hadn't thought of it herself. She shook her head. Well, what mattered is that someone thought of it. She could feel it in her bones – something in the case was going to break... and soon.

It felt so good in the warmth of the sunshine and the water looked so blue, Morgan gave into temptation. She took off her clothes and lowered herself into the water. She began swimming. It felt good to stretch her muscles and push her body. The private key didn't really have much room to allow for running. And there wasn't any workout equipment. So swimming was the best way to exercise. She felt her body respond positively to the exercise and her mind clear as she concentrated on her strong strokes.


After Scully signed off the internet at the workstation she walked out onto the verandah off the great room. She leaned on her hands on the railing and took a deep breath. She'd almost forgotten how much she enjoyed the water. Even though both of her brothers had followed Captain William Scully Sr. into the Navy, it was Dana who had shared a real love of the sea with her father. It started with her favorite childhood book, Moby Dick. She dubbed him Ahab, and in return he called her Starbuck.

Even though the Navy kept her father away for long periods, they were close. Of course, that didn't mean they didn't ever have any conflict. Her father did not approve of her decision to join the F.B.I after graduating from medical school. She was glad they had reconciled before he died a few years ago.

Scully took another deep breath, taking in the salt air. "I could definitely get used to this."

"The ocean or the private island?"

Scully turned to see John Casper standing in the doorway. She smiled. "In truth, both."

Casper stepped out onto the verandah and joined Scully at the railing. "I shouldn't be surprised Jessica chose this location as a safe house. She's always like the water."

"She did say a tropical beach was her preference for vacation."

"Yep. Every vacation she took when we were partners was to beach somewhere – the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the South Pacific. Toni even taught her how to sail and SCUBA dive."

Scully couldn't help but mentally smirk at the idea of a half-breed vampire who relished the beach and other sunny activities.

Casper looked over at Scully. "Jessica took a break a few minutes ago. Why don't you go see what she's up to?" he said with a nod to the tree line. He smiled to himself a minute later when Scully silently turned and left. He watched as she exited the house and walked toward the path that led to the pier.


When Scully got to the pier she stopped and simply observed the woman who had turned her life upside-down. Morgan was sitting on the end of the pier, knees drawn up and her arms around her knees. Her face was turned upward toward the sun. She looked peaceful.

Scully was about to walk out onto the pier when Morgan stood up. She was transfixed as the beautiful brunette started undressing. Then Morgan gracefully dove into the water. She should have left and given Morgan her privacy, but she couldn't take her eyes off her athletic body as it cut through clear, blue water. Dana knew that body intimately... but not as well as she'd like.

Watching Jess, without her knowledge, made Dana feel like a voyeur, but she still hid behind a tree as the brunette finished her swim and returned to the pier. She watched as Jess pulled herself up out of the water and then lie down on her back to dry off in the sun. Eventually she pulled herself away and returned to the house.


While Morgan was drying in the sun her mind was busy. She was reviewing every detail of the case. Changing the game and making the UNSUB react to her was good thing. But what could she do to take further control?

Once she was dry, Morgan put her clothes back on and returned to the house. She ate a quiet, late dinner with Scully and Casper. Then she retreated to her bedroom.


Sleep evaded Morgan for hours. She couldn't shut her brain off. She kept going over all the messages and calls from the suspect. Instead of worrying about how they didn't fit with the killer's profile, she focused on just that aspect of his personality. It was his weakness. This facet of the suspect was much more emotional and less rational, though still organized and manipulative. It was only this part of him that she'd been able to throw off balance. The brilliant and cunning part of him had made no mistakes, or at least none that they'd found. But the emotional part of him had made more than one.

So, what could she do to take advantage of his weakness? She needed to throw him off his game; she needed to do something unexpected. She reached over and snagged her cell phone from the nightstand. She dialed and left a short message.

"Let's talk. Face to face, no tricks."

After hanging up she was finally able to go to sleep.

Surprisingly, Morgan's phone rang only a couple hours later. "Morgan."

"The warehouse district; one hour."

"No. Tomorrow night."

"Fine," came the irritated agreement.

"What address?"

"I'll contact you when you're in the area. Midnight – don't be late."


Morgan was up early. She made herself some breakfast before showering and changing into a business suit. She was sitting at the kitchen table writing a note when Casper came in.

"Good morning."

"Good morning."

"Why are you so dressed up this morning?" he asked.

"I have to go back to DC – I have a meeting I have to attend. I was just writing you a note to let you know."

The sound of the helicopter could be heard as it approached the island.

"Why is the helicopter coming?" Scully asked as she entered the kitchen.

"I have to go to DC for a meeting. I'm not sure when I'll be back." Morgan handed the piece of paper to Casper. "If you need anything while I'm gone, just call Greg Titan – his number is there." She smiled. "Want me to pick up anything while I'm in DC?" she asked lightheartedly to keep them from suspecting the truth. "Pizza with everything, maybe?"

"Just be careful, Jessica."

"I can't get in too much trouble at headquarters." She picked up her briefcase and headed to the stairs. "I'll see you when I get back."

Scully had an uneasy feeling. "Do you think one of us should go with her?" she asked Casper.

"For a meeting? We should probably thank her for not making us go," he replied with a smirk. They heard the helicopter land and then take off again.


Once in DC, Morgan did go to the Hoover building, but only to pick up a vest. She may be willing to meet with the suspect at midnight in the warehouse district, but she wasn't an idiot.

Morgan changed into the clothes she'd packed in her briefcase. After getting something to eat, she headed to the warehouse district. She wanted a chance to look around while it was still afternoon. Besides, he had told her not to be late – he didn't say anything about her being early.


Casper's cell phone rang around 2:45 that afternoon.

"Casper."

"Let me talk to Morgan," ordered AD Ben Taylor.

"What do you mean? She's not here. She left this morning to go back to DC for a meeting at headquarters."

"What meeting?"

Casper felt his stomach tighten with worry. "I don't know. She simply said she had a meeting. Since she didn't take any of her bags with her, I assumed she'd be back sometime tonight."

"Well, there was no meeting. No one's seen or heard from her and I've been trying to get a hold of her for a couple hours. We've got a possible lead on this Russell Schiff guy from Boston."

"Scully and I will be there as soon as possible."

"Fine. And try to contact Morgan. I want her here."

"Yes, sir." Casper hung up and went onto the verandah where Scully was working. "We've got a problem."

"What?"

"No one's seen or heard from Jessica. According to AD Taylor there was no meeting. Taylor wants us back at headquarters – there's a possible lead on Russell Schiff."

Scully was up and moving in an instant. "Call for the chopper. I'll call the airport and get us a flight back," she said as she opened her phone and entered the house.

 

Chapter 35

Casper and Scully were able to catch the 4:30 flight to DC via Charlotte, NC. They landed at Reagan National at 8:50 and arrived at the Hoover building 15 minutes later.

Taylor met them as they entered the bullpen and brought them up to date on the new lead.

"We caught a break. Agents have been interviewing all of Sheila Cousins' clients and coworkers. She was at an open house a couple days before she was killed. We caught a lucky break because the owners had a nanny cam. It recorded everyone that was in the house that day. By reviewing the footage with Cousins' clients and the other agents who were there, we've been able to put a name to all but three people who were there that day – three men." He handed them pictures of the men. "These are the men. Based on interviews and information in Cousins' computer and calendar, we're pretty sure one of these three is Russell Schiff."

Taylor's phone suddenly rang. "Taylor... Great... Good job." He hung up and pointed to the picture Casper was holding. "That guy is Ronald Blaine." He tapped the one on his desktop. "And this one is David Yoro."

"So that leaves us with this guy," Scully said, indicating the photo she was holding. "How sure are we this is Schiff?"

"Everyone else has been accounted for and according to Cousins' own calendar and notes, Schiff was there."

"So, we possibly have a face to put to the crimes." Scully tacked the photo up on one of the boards with pictures of the victims.

"We need to identify this guy. If he is the Reaper I'm sure Russell Schiff is not his real name. We need to find a name to go with this face," Casper added with a tap to the picture.

"Right. We also need to find Morgan. The Director is all over me about her. No one has seen or heard from her. We verified she took a flight from Key West to here. But there's no record of her renting a car."

"Try running the name Essington," Scully said.

"What?"

"Just try it."

"Alright, I'll have it checked out."


A couple of hours later Taylor told Scully and Morgan that there were no hits on the name Essington. He then returned to his office.

Scully pulled her phone out and tried to call Morgan yet again. Just like the previous half dozen times she reached Jess's voicemail. She hung up her phone and looked at Casper. "Something's wrong."

"You don't know that," Casper said, trying to convince himself more than her.

Scully looked at him incredulously. "Jess left the island to supposedly go to a meeting. We know there was no meeting – at least not here. No one has seen her or heard from her since she left the island. And she's not picking up her phone. We need to find her."

Casper let out a sigh. "How?"

Not having an answer Scully shook her head in frustration. After a few moments she thought of something. She opened her phone and called the cell phone company that serviced the suspect's disposable phone. She spoke to someone and verified there had been a call placed to Morgan's phone the in the middle of the night and that it originated from DC. She hung up and looked at Casper. "She came here to meet with the suspect. In fact, she called him two hours before he called her. I think she initiated the meeting." She felt her heart drop to her feet. "Why would she do that?"

"Damn it! I told her to change the game, but I didn't know she'd pull something like this."

"We need to have a trace put on her phone." Scully turned and walked into Taylor's office.

Taylor had the trace put on Morgan's phone. Unfortunately they were unable to trace its location because it wasn't turned on.


Morgan looked at her watch. It was almost time. She turned on her phone and waited. She noted the number of messages left, and the incoming call log revealed a Bureau number as well Scully's and Casper's. She shook her head. Morgan knew she'd ruffle some feathers handling this the way she did, but she couldn't risk anything happening to Dana or John.

She looked at her watch again. He should be calling her any minute. She didn't have to wait long.

"Morgan... Yeah, I know it... I'll be there in a few minutes." She hung up and started walking to her destination.


Taylor's phone rang shortly after midnight. "Taylor... You're sure?... Alright, thanks." He hung up and went to his office doorway. "Casper! Scully! Come in here."

The two agents entered Taylor's office.

"They traced Morgan's cell phone. She's down in the warehouse district. They'll try to narrow it down a specific address if they can, but in the meantime–"

"We're on it!" Casper cut him off as he turned to leave the office. Scully was on his heels.

"Wear vests," Taylor called after them.


Scully and Casper slowly drove through warehouse district, looking for any sign of Morgan. They both jumped when Casper's phone suddenly rang.

"Casper."

"They've narrowed her location to the 100 block of O Street."

"Got it." Casper hung up and told Scully the location.

"That's just around the corner."

Casper made the turn and turned off the car's headlights. He coasted to a stop. They exchanged a look before slipping out of the car and into the night. With weapons drawn, they carefully moved to the nearest warehouse. It was mostly empty, but still took several minutes to verify no one was there. They made their way to the next warehouse.


Morgan stuck to the shadows. With the moon less than a quarter full, it wasn't difficult. Her dark attire, and mood, helped her blend invisibly into the night. She arrived at the address she'd been given. Just as promised, the side door was unlocked. Morgan entered. There were crates piled all over the warehouse, but in the center was a cleared area. As instructed she moved to the center of the cleared area... and waited.

Finally she heard a voice. "How do I know you came alone?" She could tell the voice was coming from a radio somewhere in the stacks of crates. It was the same altered voice from the phone calls.

"Don't be an ass," she snapped with irritation. "You undoubtedly watched my approach to the building, and then you waited several minutes after I arrived to see if anyone followed me. Besides, this was your choice of location, so you obviously scouted it out in advance. So let's say we get on with this."

"What did you want to meet about?"

"I was hoping we could come to a resolution."

"A resolution? A resolution to what?"

"I want to stop the killing. What will take to get you to stop killing young women?"

"What if I told you I don't know why I kill them?"

"I'd say you're a liar. I'm not here to play games. If that's all you want to do I'm leaving." Morgan turned and took a step to the exit.

An almost silent shot chipped the concrete a few inches from her feet.

"You don't leave until I say so," the disembodied voice growled.

Morgan let out an exaggerated sigh. "This is tedious. I wanted to meet with you so we could talk and find a way out of this." She heard a derisive snort.

"You think you're going play head-shrinker with me, Dr. Morgan? You think you can help me?" he replied mockingly. "You can't even help yourself! You certainly couldn't help Agent Jeffers and you won't be able to help Agent Scully!"

Despite her desire not to, Morgan couldn't hide her reaction to his baiting. The son of a bitch really did know how to push her buttons. Her hands curled into tight fists, her whole body began to tremble with anger and she clenched her jaw, grinding her teeth. "You sick bastard."

Morgan suddenly burst into motion, running for the stacks of crates, bullets striking the floor in her footsteps, but not nearly as close as they could have been – he was still playing with her.


Scully was getting more and more frustrated. The second warehouse she and Casper entered took over 20 minutes to clear. As they exited the building she tried to call Morgan's cell phone again. "Come on, Jess, pick up!"

"Still no answer?" Casper asked.

"No. It just goes straight to her voicemail." She closed her phone.

"Come on, there are two more warehouses to check. If we don't find her we'll get some more people down here and expand the search area."

They headed into the next building. They found themselves in a maze of stacked crates. They both heard something. With a nod they split and started working their way through the building along opposite sides. The closer they got the better they could hear.

It was Morgan. She was talking to someone. Scully's heart did a little flip with the knowledge that Morgan was alive. Now she had to make sure Morgan stayed that way.

Scully and Casper both moved through the stacks, quietly approaching Morgan's location.


From the sound of Morgan's voice, Casper figured he was closer to her than Scully was since she was on the other side of the warehouse. He also heard a man's voice, but not from the same location. It was coming from a radio.

A couple more turns in the stacks and he spotted his partner. "Morgan," he whispered.

When Morgan turned her head to look at Casper anger burned in her glare. He was actually taken aback.

Morgan suddenly burst into motion, running towards him, bullets striking the floor in her footsteps, but not nearly as close as they could have been – the shooter wasn't actually trying to hit her.

She marched past him, anger rolling off of her in waves.

"Morgan, what the hell is going on?" he whispered as he followed her.

She ignored him and retrieved a radio hidden in the stacks.


Morgan had been able to determine where the radio he was using was located. She glared at Casper then moved through the stacks to the radio. She picked it up. "If you have anything to say to me, come out of the shadows and face me. Or are you too much of coward to face a woman when she knows what you really are?"

"And what's that?"

"Scared. Scared to be yourself, so you put on a fake personality like most people put on clothes. A fake personality you know a woman will like. But you don't do it for her. No. Everything you do is for you, about you. You probably can only come when you masturbate. I bet you don't even know how to make love to a woman. And you certainly don't know how to please a woman, how to make her come. But then you don't care about them enough to even try, do you?"

"Stop it!"

"Why? Hitting too close to home?" Morgan walked out of the stacks back into the cleared area. "I already know you don't have sex with your victims. You do terrible things to them but you don't have sex with them. Is that why you kill them? Because after you sweep them of their feet they want to take things to the next level, they want to have sex? But you can't, can you? You're impotent when you're with a woman, aren't you? How much porn you watch? Jerking off to porn is the only way you can get off, isn't it?"

"Stop!"

Morgan smiled. The stress level in his voice was increasing. She was definitely getting to him. "You have your dick in your hand right now, don't you? You're trying to get your puny, flaccid dick hard right now – just to prove I'm wrong. But you can't. You can't get hard without watching some trashy porno movie. You can't get it up with a real woman."

"Stop!"

"You don't know what it's like to be loved by a woman, do you? You don't know what it's like to be wanted by a woman, not as yourself. Only by playing a part can you get them interested in you. But you're all talk and no action. You can't deliver when it counts. You can't give of yourself to anyone because you're too selfish, too self-centered... because you're an egomaniac."

"That's not true!"

"You'll never know what it's like to hold a woman and have her be open and vulnerable and passionate. You'll never know what it's like to look into her eyes and see love shining in them just for you. You'll never know what it's like to give her so much pleasure she cries out to God. You'll never know what it's like to touch her so deeply you touch her soul. You'll never know what it's like hear your name on her lips in passion. You'll never know what it's like to be loved by her."

"She will love me!!"

"No she won't. She'll never love you, because you can't be what she desires, what she needs, what she deserves."

"NOOOOO!"

Morgan miscalculated – she'd found his most vulnerable button and pushed it... just a little too hard.

Morgan went down, a look of surprise on her face.

 

Chapter 36

Scully eased her way through the stacks and towards the sound of Morgan's voice. Scully could hear the voice of a man, but she couldn't see him anywhere. His voice sounded like it was coming through a radio. She finally came to an area that had been cleared, and was relieved to see Morgan standing there. Then she heard the man's voice coming over a radio on the other side of the area.

"You think you're going play head-shrinker with me, Dr. Morgan? You think you can help me?" he replied mockingly. "You can't even help yourself! You certainly couldn't help Agent Jeffers and you won't be able to help Agent Scully!"

"You sick bastard."

It infuriated Scully to hear the suspect use Toni, and her, against Jess.

Morgan suddenly burst into motion, running for the stacks of crates, bullets striking the floor in her footsteps.

Scully tried to get a look in the direction the shots had come from without exposing herself. She listened as Morgan continued to talk to the suspect. A frisson of foreboding set her heart racing when Morgan stepped out of the stacks and back into the clear area – back into the field of fire. She also felt proud of how well Morgan was handling the suspect, pushing his buttons and keeping him off balance.

"NOOOOO!"

"JESS!!"


He knew Morgan and the other two had left Boston. That's why he was back in DC. He was surprised she'd called and left the message asking him to call her, especially after she had refused to talk to him. He thought it was the perfect opportunity to go to the next step of his plan. But then she refused to meet him until the next night.

No matter. She would be showing up soon. He'd stayed in his spot all through the night, and the next day. No one was going to get anything past him or set him up. He was too smart for that. And that bitch would find out she wasn't good enough.

He looked at his watch. It was time. He turned on his phone and called Morgan. He told her which warehouse to come to, then turned off his phone. He watched her enter, and made her wait several minutes. He wasn't stupid. He waited to make sure she really was alone. Finally, he keyed his radio.

"How do I know you came alone?"

He definitely didn't like her attitude. When she turned to go he let loose a few shots, letting her know he was in control. She wasn't going to leave if he didn't want her to – and he wasn't done with her yet. He relished her visible reaction to his taunting, to the mention of Jeffers... and Scully. He had the upper hand. This was his game and she was going to have to play by his rules.

He was caught just a little off guard when Morgan made a sudden dash for the stacks. He was sure he could take her out, but he didn't want to – at least not yet. She needed to be taught a few lessons first. So he simply followed her footsteps with his almost silent shots.

After a few moments he heard her voice again, coming directly over his radio. She had obviously found it and was now holding it. That was when she started. First she called him a coward. Then she accused of him not knowing how to love a woman, how to please a woman. How dare she?!

"Stop it!" he ordered.

She taunted him, even stepped back out into the clearing. He could take her out so easily. The fucking bitch deserved it! He wasn't impotent! He unzipped his pants and took out his dick. He wasn't impotent... he'd prove it. He started rubbing himself.

"Stop!"

He realized he'd closed his eyes. He opened them to see that cunt smiling. Smiling! Fuck! How did she know he was jerking off? How could she know? His dick wasn't puny. He could get hard without watching porn. Damn it! Why wasn't he getting hard? He moved his hand faster, squeezing and pulling. She was still smiling.

"Stop!"

That fucking cunt dared to tell him he couldn't deliver. Well, he'd show her. He was going to deliver a lesson she'd never forget. Damn, his dick was still limp. He spit on his hand and tried to rub himself faster. Fuck her! He was not an egomaniac.

"That's not true!"

He was having trouble keeping his weapon aimed at her as he continued to try to make his dick hard. Tears... must be from the dust. Tears blurred his vision. He closed his eyes and tried to picture his favorite object of lust. He was not impotent! If he could just keep the right pictures in his mind.

"... You'll never know what it's like to be loved by her."

"She will love me!!"

"No she won't. She'll never love you, because you can't be what she desires, what she needs, what she deserves."

"NOOOOO!" He let go of his flaccid dick and wiped the tears from his eyes. He aimed and fired. Fucking bitch!


Morgan went down, a look of surprise on her face. Casper heard Scully's yell, but she was on the far side of the area, too far to get to Morgan. He would have to get Morgan out of there himself. As the shots kept coming Casper moved out from behind a crate and started returning fire in the direction he thought the shots were coming from. He didn't get very far. He was hit in the shoulder. The force of the impact spun him around and he hit his head on a crate on the way down. He was down and out.


"JESS!" Scully felt her heart stop. Her partner... the woman she lo– Jess was down, and shots were still being fired. Casper was hit next. A round slammed into his shoulder, spinning him around. He hit his head on the way down and was knocked senseless. Scully shoved a new magazine into her weapon and watched for movement. Finally, she saw it. The suspect was a dark mass, moving his weapon back forth between the fallen bodies of the downed agents. He was waiting for either of them to move to take another shot. Scully couldn't get a shot at him without fully exposing herself.

"Dana..."

Scully looked at Morgan. Her eyes were open and she was looking at right at her. "Don't move, Jess." She looked back up in the shadows. There was sudden movement from the suspect as he detected motion from Casper. Scully made her move. She stepped from behind cover, fully exposing herself, and rapidly fired three times. Her target went down, his weapon dropping from his hands.

"Casper! You okay?"

"Yeah," he called back. "I'm hit, but the vest caught it. I got him covered, check Jessica."

Scully rushed to Morgan, dropping to her side. "Jess?" She set her weapon down and ripped open Morgan's shirt to reveal a bulletproof vest with a bullet imbedded in the place over her heart. But blood was pooling next Morgan. Scully pulled the vest away and found the bullet wound. The bullet had hit her in the side, missing the Kevlar. She pulled her jacket off, folded it up and pressed it against the wound, putting pressure on it. She pulled out her cell and called for help.

"9-1-1. What's your emergency?"

"Yes. I'm FBI Agent Dana Scully, badge number JTT0331613. I need two ambulances at 125 O Street. I've got two agents down. Repeat, two agents down. Hurry! Send backup."

"Ambulances are their way, Agent Scully. ETA six minutes. Backup ETA three minutes."

Scully hung up. "Jess? Jess!"

Morgan's eyes opened again and she slowly moved her head to look up at Scully. Her eyes were dull. "Cold..." she breathed.

"You have to fight, Jess!" Tears ran down Dana's face. "Help's coming, it's almost here. Hang on, Jess... just a few minutes..."

"S-Sorry..." Her eyes drifted shut.

"JESS! Damn it, FIGHT!" They could hear the sirens closing in on them.

Morgan's eyelids fluttered and then opened. "Too... late..."

The problem with being a doctor is being able to tell when someone is dying... and knowing it's too late for medical intervention. The pool of Morgan's blood was too big; the rattle in her lungs portended her final breaths. Scully leaned down and got in Morgan's face. "Damn it, Jess, I just found you and I am not going to lose you. You can make it; you can survive... if you take my blood."

"No..."

"Yes."

"I can't... told you... consequences..."

"I know. Now do it, before it's too late." She slipped her hand under Morgan's head and lifted it, pressing Jess's face to her throat. "Please! I love you, and I need you."

Dana felt the initial stab of two sharp fangs breaking her skin, but then there was no pain at all. She felt like she was floating. Time slowed. She became very aware of each beat of her heart, the movement of air in and out of her lungs with each breath, the blood flowing through her veins, flowing from her and to the woman she loved. She could sense strength returning to Jess's body, her heartbeat... and then their hearts beating as one. She had no idea how long it lasted but she knew the instant Jess stopped, because time snapped back to normal. She gently eased her head back down. Dana looked into fathomless obsidian eyes and saw two gleaming fangs between her parted lips, but she saw no monster – only love.

"Are you... You're going to be okay, right?" Scully tenderly brushed Morgan's hair away from her face.

Morgan closed her eyes. "Yes." When she opened her eyes they were once again grey and held the spark of life within them instead of the flatness of death.

Two squad cars screeched to a halt. The police, under Casper's direction, checked on the suspect. He was alive but unconscious.

Only minutes later, Scully was riding in the first ambulance with Morgan, on the way to the hospital; never once letting go of her hand.


Officer Kyle Noble and his partner cautiously rushed in. They found the three agents in question. The male agent immediately directed them to the suspect's position. While Casper kept his weapon pointed at the suspect, Noble and his partner made their way up the ladder to the gantry. With weapons drawn, they approached the suspect. They relaxed a little when they determined he was unconscious. Once he was securely cuffed, Noble looked down at the man and shook his head. The bastard had his dick hanging out. Why would the guy have his limp dick hanging out while shooting at F.B.I. agents?


When AD Taylor arrived on the scene, Morgan was already on the way to the hospital. Scully had gone with her. He walked up to the second ambulance as the paramedics finished preparing the suspect for transport. He looked down at the unconscious man. "You fucking prick. You're going to wish you were dead by the time I'm done with you." Taylor noticed the man's penis was out. "You sick fuck." He assigned an agent to ride to the hospital with him. "You make sure he stays cuffed – no matter what. Don't let him out of your sight, and I want to know about anything he says if he come to."

"Yes, sir."

The second ambulance left.

Casper was sitting on the back of the third ambulance. His vest had prevented one bullet from penetrating, but another did hit his arm. It wasn't as bad as it could have been.

"What the hell happened?!" Taylor asked.

"He shot Morgan. I got clipped when I tried to get to her. Then Scully nailed his ass. She called for backup while I kept him covered until the police got here and took him into custody. Scully went with Morgan in the first ambulance."

"How bad was Morgan hit?"

Casper shook his head. "She didn't look good, sir. She lost a lot of blood." He paused. "I'm pretty sure she was wearing a vest, so I don't know where she was hit." He suddenly winced as the EMT examining his ribs lightly pressed on a particularly tender spot.

"You're going to need x-rays, sir, to make sure you haven't cracked or broken anything," said the EMT.

"I'm fine."

"You're going, Casper." Taylor nodded to the paramedic, "Take him."


Even though Jess had told her she'd be okay, Scully couldn't help being worried sick as the ambulance rushed to the hospital. Jess had closed her eyes before the ambulance arrived and hadn't yet opened them again, no matter how hard Scully squeezed her hand.

She had seen how well Jess could heal after drinking some blood, but the beating she'd taken in Atlanta wasn't as serious as the gunshot wound she had in her side. Jess had lost so much blood and the rattle in her breath spoke of lung damage. After what seemed like much too long, the ambulance finally arrived at the hospital. Jess was rushed into a trauma bay and Scully was told to wait in the waiting room. A few minutes later another ambulance arrived, bringing in the shooter.

Part 37

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