Trust No One
Scully looked at the corpse on the exam table before her. She wasn’t even sure if a full autopsy was necessary. The cause of death was no mystery. The pale dead woman bore a diagonal gash that stared behind her left ear and ended at her right clavicle. This was the second such death in Washington this week.
Some might be tempted to dismiss the case on the grounds that the victims were ‘just hookers’. The murderous glare Scully had given the local officer in charge made him take things a bit more seriously. As far as Scully was concerned prostitutes were people as well and deserved protection from the jackals of the world. If anything women forced to sell themselves on the street need more help than most. Actually the deaths had drawn Scully’s attention due to the shape the bodies had been found in. The hair had been cut and nails removed on both women. The details reminded her so much of the dead Donald Pfaster that she had insisted on taking the case.
At least this recent body held a clue. The other had not helped break the case in the least. No one had seen a thing, not surprising, people tend to keep their eyes to themselves when slumming around the neighborhood where the murders had taken place. No one had seen this woman killed either, however she had been wearing a thick plain silver bracelet and it had captured a perfect bloody fingerprint. Scully had sent the print up to Danny before the body had even been moved to Quantico.
Scully was about to don a pair of gloves to do the unnecessary autopsy out of pure respect for regulation when the door opened. Danny came in with his usual shy smile.
“Good morning, Danny.”
“Good morning, Agent Scully.”
“Did you match the print I gave you.”
“Yeah, the files right here.” Danny handed over the folder. “But I’m afraid it is false alarm.”
“Yes, the print is your partner’s.”
“Mulder?” Scully quickly opened the file Danny had given her and stared at the results page. “Are you sure?”
“How can you be positive?” Scully persisted. “Fingerprinting isn’t the exact science that people think it is.”
“Normally I would agree with you, Agent Scully.” Danny came over and flipped the file to page that had the picture of the bloody print and a picture of an ink print from when Mulder first applied to the FBI. “But not with Agent Mulder, well at least not with his left index finger, which is what the print was of.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Look, you see how both the prints have a dark jagged line down the middle?”
“Well, that is a scar. Very distinctive for a match.”
“Look, Danny, do me a favor and don’t tell anyone about this.”
“No problem, Agent Scully. I understand.”
Danny left Scully standing alone in the autopsy room with the incriminating file. Danny thought she didn’t want word of this to get out because it would look bad on Mulder’s record to have an incidence of sloppy recovery work. However, Danny didn’t understand. Scully didn’t want the information out for a deeper reason: Mulder had been sick for over a week.
Scully was working on this case alone.
Scully sat in her car, which was parked across the street from Mulder’s apartment complex. Glancing at her watch Scully found that it was already midnight. She’d been here longer than she’d thought. So far nothing had happened.
After Danny had left she’d tried calling Mulder, but he hadn’t answered. Confused and frustrated she had decided to confront Mulder directly. Surly there was an explanation, there had to be. She simply couldn’t bring herself to believe that Mulder had spent the past week anywhere other than in bed with the flu. Scully had never before found herself practically praying that Mulder was ill.
So after work at five o’clock she had driving down to see him. She’d even made it all the way to his door, but she never knocked. Scully had suddenly been overwhelmed by a near choking fear. She tried to tell herself that she was being foolish and that Mulder posed no threat. However, a stronger voice was reminding her that there was evidence that strongly indicated that he might be extremely dangerous.
“Trust no one.” Scully muttered under her breath and headed back to the car.
Scully had been staking out her partner’s place ever since. Seeing the time she suddenly felt guilty. Here she was sulking around in the shadows, hiding from a man who had saved her life countless times. What did this say about her loyalty?
Just as Scully had decided to muster up the courage to go back upstairs Mulder appeared in the parking lot. Seeing him only served to renew Scully’s fear. She stayed in her locked car and just watched for a moment. Mulder looked unsteady on his feet, like he’d been drinking all evening. He was obviously trying to get to his car, but several times he turned back. His white T-shirt was sweat stained from the effort or perhaps fever. He kept fighting with himself for a few minutes. At one point he almost made it back to the front door. Mulder was obviously struggling, still Scully found herself too afraid to help. She cursed her new found cowardice, but she couldn’t keep the instinct at bay.
Scully almost found the nerve to jump out of the car when Mulder crashed to his knees, screaming some incomprehensible curse. When he staggered back to his feet he rushed over to his car. However when he fished the keys out of his jeans pockets he pitched them into the near by bushes. Then he preceded to argue angrily with the empty lot. Scully cautiously opened the car door a crack so she could hear what he was saying.
“Forget it!” Mulder growled. “I’m not going back out there. You’re never going to find her anyway, I won’t let you!”
Mulder tried once again to get back to his apartment. He’d barely made it ten feet before he was down on his hands and knees dry heaving. Scully watching in bewildered horror as Mulder’s whole frame shook with conflicting muscular movement. It was like he was desperately striving to get to two places at once.
“Fuck you!” Mulder suddenly cried. “Where’s my gun? What have you done with it? I’ll kill us both it I have to!”
The bright flash of blue and red caught Scully’s attention, but Mulder seemed oblivious. A cop car was slowly pulling up the street. Someone must have called about the mad man yelling at himself. Scully swore and finally stepped out of the car into the street. Mulder spotted her at once. His face turned ashen. Mulder hesitated and then took a labored step closer.
“I knew you I’d find you.” Mulder practically cooed in a suddenly calm voice.
“Find me?” Scully made no attempt to close the distance between them.
“Scully, run!” Mulder forced the words past his teeth in sudden contradiction of his previous greeting. “Get the hell out of here! Please, I don’t want to hurt you!”
“Mulder, I don’t understa...” Scully started, but she stopped when Mulder snarled at her. He then turned tail and dashed off through the brush like a frightened gazelle.
The police hadn’t seen very much, but once they pulled up one of them hopped out of the car and started after Mulder.
“Stop!” Scully barked the order with such conviction that the officer actually halted and turned around.
“Ma’am,” the officer’s partner came up and put his hand on Scully’s shoulder “we got a call on a domestic dispute, are you all right?”
“Get off of me.” Scully snapped as she shrugged off the officer’s touch. She took out her badge. “I’m Special Agent Dana Scully, and this is my case. Everything is fine. Thank you for trying to help, but please leave.”
The other officer forgot the chase and lumbered over. He would have never been able to run down Mulder anyway, he had to weigh 250 pounds. The two officers talked for a moment about what to do as if Scully wasn’t standing right there.
“Look, Agent,” One of the cops started in a condescending tone “we can’t just leave you here...”
Scully made a growling noise of pure frustration as she turned back to her car.
“Hey!” The first officer grabbed her arm.
Scully quickly twisted out of his grip. “Don’t make me pull rank, gentlemen. Touch me again and I’ll file Federal charges against you.” She warned in an icy tone.
They made no further attempt to delay her.
Scully walked into the basement office in the same black suite that she had worn the day before. After leaving the cops she’d searched for Mulder almost all night. Eventually she realized that Washington was a big city and Mulder knew how to hide. She crawled right into bed for a much needed hour of sleep and then went back to the office.
She didn’t know where to start or who to turn to. Talking to Skinner was out of the question, he wouldn’t understand. Mulder was obviously sick, but not in the way that she had at first thought. He was markedly delirious, and that didn’t help in establishing his innocence.
The sharp ring of the phone startled Scully.
“Agent Scully.” She greeted.
“Hello, Agent. This is Fred from Quanitco Morgue.”
“They brought in another body this morning that matches the case you’ve been working on.”
Scully welded her eyes shut hopping that when she opened them she’d find that is was all just a nightmare.
“Yes, I’m here. I’ll be down when I can.” Scully was about to hang up when she thought of something. “Does it look like another prostitute?”
“No, I’d have to say that this one was honest. It looks like your guy is getting bolder.”
“My guy?” Scully repeated nervously.
“Yeah, your killer. I’m sure you’ll get him.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
“No problem. Have a nice day.”
“Too late.” Scully said to the dead line.
Seconds after she placed the receiver back in its cradle the infernal thing rang again.
“This is Skinner, I want you up in my office.”
“I was just heading down to the morgue to...”
“Now, Agent Scully.”
“All right,” Skinner sighed “what is going on?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Sir.”
“I admire your loyalty, Agent Scully, but I need to know what has happened to Agent Mulder.”
Scully stayed stoically silent.
“At least explain this.”
Skinner pulled out a slim black wallet from his desk drawer and threw it onto the table in front of Scully. She leaned forward and took the offering. Opening it she found it to be Mulder’s badge. Her stomach churned thinking about the circumstances under which this would have fallen into Skinner’s hands.
“Where did you find this, Sir?”
“Find it?” Skinner pulled a piece of paper out of the drawer. “It came in the mail this morning along with this.”
“A letter of resignation?” Scully asked bemused.
“Don’t you know about this?”
“When was the last time you saw Agent Mulder? Is he in trouble? You know I’ll help you both in anyway I can.”
“Agent Mulder isn’t feeling well.” Scully admitted vaguely. She pocketed Mulder’s badge. “Please, let me handle this. I’ll get him back.”
“See that you do.”
Scully’s first move was to visit the morgue. It was practically instinctive to go to the victim first. She was hoping that this new body would reveal some answers, because all Scully had to go on right now were questions.
The body was in the fifth locker which Scully slid open. She didn’t have time for a full autopsy, but she wanted to check a few things before she went back out after Mulder. She snatched a pair of latex gloves.
It was hard to tell whether or not this one had been a prostitute because the clothing had already been removed. But Scully trusted Fred’s judgment that this one hadn’t been a ‘street walker’. It appeared that the woman had been beaten to death, unlike the other two who had been killed by knives. The body still had its nails, but chunks of the hair had been ripped out.
This sudden switch in tactics did not help convince Scully of Mulder’s innocence. If anything it was incriminating because she hadn’t seen any weapons on Mulder as he’d fled. So if he had come across the woman he would have had nothing but his bare hands to kill her with.
Scully flinched at the thought. She felt guilty for even thinking that Mulder was capable of such a crime. However, there was a dead woman in right in front of her and all the signs were pointing that way. Scully read the tag attached to the body’s toe. She had been found on Walnut St. and 52nd, that was only about fifteen blocks from Mulder’s apartment.
Scully’s mind was racing. She was battling between thoughts of the Mulder she knew and the Mulder she had met last night.
“I wish you could talk to me.” Scully said to the cold corpse.
Almost affectionately Scully brushed back the woman’s mutilated crimson hair. The sudden thought that the other two woman had also been red heads was pushed out of Scully’s mind by the discovery of another set of bloody prints. They were on the woman’s neck under the hair Scully had just brushed away.
Scully hesitated for a fraction of a second and then finally turned to get a magnifying glass. There were three near perfect prints from the left hand. Unconsciously holding her breath Scully took a closer look at what she thought was the index fingerprint. A jagged line ran right through the prints center.
Dashing the magnifying glass to the title floor Scully found herself suddenly dizzy. With hardly a thought of the consequences she picked up a bottle of rubbing alcohol and poured the clear liquid liberally over the body’s neck.
The damning prints ran together and then washed off completely.
Somehow she knew, she knew he’d go back home. This time Scully was not going to be stopped at Mulder’s door. On the way up the elevator she exchanged the half spent clip for a fresh one. She was willing to hear Mulder’s explanation, but she was not willing to face him unarmed.
Scully stood outside Mulder’s door with adrenaline washing over her whole system. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something evil was waiting for her on the other side of the dark door. Pulling out the key Mulder had given her Scully invited herself in.
The scene she step into was one of violent chaos. Books from the over turned book shelf lay on the floor, their pages fluttering like the wings of dying doves. The kitchen drawers had all been pulled out and their contents spread across the floor. Even Mulder’s neglected aquarium had been shattered. Water still dripped from the broken glass box. Its two former residents lay gasping in the puddle. Weapon in hand Scully slowly walked over to a steak knife that lay in a small pool of blood on the living room floor. She bent down and touched the blood gingerly. It wasn’t warm, but it was still wet. So it hadn’t been sitting there too long.
Cautiously opening the bedroom door Scully found a room of equal disarray. The trashed bedroom appeared to be devoid of life. Scully went to look over on the far side of bed to make sure she was alone. She wasn’t.
Mulder lay on the floor with one wrist handcuffed to the radiator. He hadn’t ended up there without a fight. Blood smeared the walls within reach of the radiator. Mulder himself looked like he’d been fighting with a pack of hungry dogs. The restrained wrist was cut and bloody from being pulled at in an attempt to get free. If it wasn’t for the soft rise and fall of his chest Scully would swear that Mulder was dead.
It occurred to Scully that Mulder could have been here all week and that she’d been dealing with another shapeshifter (she hated to admit that they existed, but she’d seen several). Although the blood looked fresh and she doubted that even a shapeshifter could mimic finger prints. However, this did give her reason to believe in his innocence and she wanted that more than anything.
Holstering her gun Scully knelt beside her fallen partner. Gently she searched for a pulse at his throat and found it surprisingly strong. The next task was to detach him from the bloodied radiator. Handcuff keys don’t come in very many forms so one of the five keys that she carried was sure to work. She was about to try the second key when Mulder snapped back into the conscious world. Mulder seized Scully’s wrist painfully. Her first instinct was to try and pull away, but Mulder had a vice grip.
“Mulder, it’s all right. It’s me, Scully. Let go.” Scully tired to talk to him but he didn’t even seem to hear. “Mulder, please, you’re hurting me.”
Mulder’s grasp instantly loosened. He tried to stand, but the cuff kept him on his knees.
“Scully, God, you have to get out of here! He’s been waiting for this, I can’t keep him from killing you, he’s too strong!”
“Mulder, just calm down. There isn’t anyone else here.”
“Yes there is!” Mulder put his free hand on his heart. “Here. There’s someone else in here.”
“You’re not making any sense. Just let me get the cuff off and I’ll take you to the hospital. Okay?”
“No!” Mulder’s frame shook for second and then he calmed. “I’m sorry,” he apologized in a flat monotone “please, unlock this.”
Scully hesitated. Mulder’s whole attitude had changed in a flash. When he held up his abused wrist Scully went against her inclination to distrust and tried another key. This one worked with a small click. Mulder jerked his hand away and rubbed at the cuts. Scully waited patiently kneeling in front of him. When Mulder looked up there was a lupine grin on his face. He narrowed his eyes.
A knot started tying itself in Scully’s stomach as she watched Mulder stare at her. When she went to get up Mulder lunged at her knocking them both to the floor. Before she could react he had her hands pinned above her head. Mulder motionlessly held his position of dominance on top of her. His hot breath was panting rapidly against her neck. It was like a caged lion had finally been set free and all it wanted to do was show its power by holding down some helpless prey. But the lust that lion had to rent flesh was obvious.
It seemed like an eternity to Scully before Mulder moved again. She suddenly became aware of the space between each of her pounding heart beats. When Mulder did finally move he simply shifted his weight to his elbows so he could raise his head and look down at her. Despite the obvious physical advantage he had over her Scully could clearly see fear, bordering on panic, in his eyes. Then as quickly as he had leapt at her his expression turned stone cold, the fear was replaced by triumph.
“I told you that you wouldn’t get away from me,” Mulder growled “girlie, girl.”
Scully swore she could feel ice crystals forming in her blood upon hearing the words ‘girlie, girl’. Someone had called her that before. No, not ‘someone’, something, had called her that. The adrenaline rush from the realization should have strengthened her against her enemy, however under the present conditions it only caused her frame to tremble uselessly.
“No!” Scully cried in denial. “I sent you to Hell myself!”
“You’ve cut your hair since I last saw you.”
Scully screamed like a wild animal trapped in a fire. Donald Pfaster had been the only monster she’d ever been truly afraid of. He killed women out of a deranged hatred and harvested their nails and hair as trophies. He’d tried to take her twice. The second time she’d shot him while he was unarmed. Pfaster was the only person she had killed in cold blood out of a burning desire for revenge. She’d never been able to convince herself that he wasn’t the Devil. Now she had proof that he was.
“Now, now, girlie, don’t do that. It hurts my ears.”
Scully curled her lip in a viscous snarl. She didn’t even see Mulder anymore. Scully saw right through the flesh to the dark soul that had taken over her partner. When she spat at him Pfaster did exactly what she wanted him to by releasing one of her wrists so he could wipe the saliva away. Scully took advantage of his obsessively neat behavior and the use of her now free arm to push them both over on their sides.
This caused Pfaster to lose his superior position and left Mulder’s stomach exposed. Scully wretched her other wrist free and brought her knee up into the exposed underbelly. Pfaster howled in pain and curled up in a ball. Scully took the moment of distraction to get to her feet and run. Pfaster quickly ignored any pain Mulder’s body was in and sprang off the floor. He chased her into the living room only to find that she hadn’t gone far.
Scully stood in the center of the trashed living room with her gun leveled at Mulder’s heart. Pfaster instantly dropped down on Mulder’s knees and put his hands up to shield himself.
“You always were a coward!” Scully hissed at the cringing man. “How many times do I have to kill you?!”
“No! Wait! It’s me, please don’t shoot!”
“Yes. Please don’t hurt me! I’m your partner.”
But Scully didn’t fire. Pfaster was counting on her hesitation and when she looked away for a fraction of a second he vaulted at her again. Scully knew Mulder was quick, but under Pfaster’s command he was simply blindingly fast. Before she could fix the mistake she’d made by firing the weapon was out of her hand and she was captured. Scully used a common self defense tactic to snake free of Pfaster’s grip. Spinning around she donkey kicked Mulder in the chest.
Pfaster fell back. He roared in anger as he got back to Mulder’s feet. Scully thought that if she could keep the fight going long enough someone would call the police over the noise. Then she remember that she’d all ready told the local police to stay away from here. They’d probably be hesitant to be humiliated again. Suddenly Mulder’s hands were around her waist. Pfaster lifted Scully off the ground and before she could kick him in the stomach again he tossed her to the side.
Scully’s vision flashed red as she broke through the glass coffee table. Pfaster walked over calmly. Lying on her back in the shattered glass Scully struggled to keep conscious, knowing that if she blacked out now she’d never live through this. Pfaster reached down and tried to pick Scully up out of the debris by the lapels of her torn jacket. Scully grasped frantically on to a large shard of glass, cutting her own hand in the process. Dismissing the damage she was causing herself she drove the makeshift weapon into Mulder’s leg. Pfaster wailed in agony and dropped her once again to the glass littered floor.
After tearing the glass out of Mulder’s leg Pfaster got down and straddled the fallen Agent. Scully tried to get Mulder off of her, but he was too heavy and strong. She was effectively pinned again. Pfaster drew Mulder’s arm back in preparation to back hand Scully into unconsciousness.
Scully steeled herself for the blow, but nothing happened. Pfaster was frozen in a position to attack, but he didn’t move. Scully could see and feel that all of Mulder’s muscles were taunt to the point of stone. The look of panicked fear was back in his green eyes.
“Mulder?” She asked breathlessly.
“Scully!” Mulder cried mournfully, his breath was ragged. “I should have killed myself while I still had the chance!”
“Mulder, listen to me, it’s Pfaster.”
“I know.” Mulder said through clenched teeth. He was fighting to keep still.
“You have to fight him, he’s going to kill us both!”
The strain Mulder was under was obvious. Scully felt that if Pfaster didn’t release his hold on Mulder soon his tendons would simply rip themselves free from the bone. On the other hand if Mulder gave up the struggle the sudden release would probably allow Pfaster to strike hard enough to kill. Finally something gave way inside Mulder with almost an audible snap.
His arm swung down powerfully in a graceful arc.
When Scully recovered she didn’t even notice the pain she was in. All her thoughts were drowned out by the chilling sound of running water. Normally the sound of water gently filling a bath tub was a soothing noise. However after her second encounter with Pfaster the sound of running water became as madding to her as it was to a rabid animal. For months after she practically had to sedate herself with anti-anxiety drugs just to get into the shower.
And now it was happening again, like some sort of sick circle that she couldn’t escape from. Not even death had quelled Pfaster’s unquenchable lust for her blood or at least for the trophy of her crimson hair and delicately painted nails. Scully spent a moment trying to pull herself together, first off she had to get her heart out of her throat. She told herself that she’d escaped twice before, and there was always ‘third time lucky’ on her side. Of course it had been Mulder both times that had truly saved her in the end.
The background noise of the running water stopped abruptly. Scully tried to get off the bed where she’d been placed, but her coordination was not quite back. Having her hands cuffed in front of her didn’t help. Pfaster came over and sat next to his prone captive. Scully turned away, she couldn’t stand to have Mulder’s eyes stare at her with Pfaster’s cold emotionless expression. Part of what made Pfaster so terrifying was his calm, almost gentle, demeanor.
“Don’t worry, girlie, I’ll get you all cleaned up.”
Pfaster ran Mulder’s hand through Scully’s matted hair. She would have welcomed the soothing touch from Mulder, however, Pfaster’s murderous intent was all too apparent in the contact. If she thought it would help Scully would have screamed. As it was she only whimpered to try and bring Mulder back to the surface. Pfaster trembled for a second, but kept control.
Lifting Scully effortlessly Pfaster took her into the bathroom as carefully as a mother would carry a child. Scully gasped as the nauseatingly cold water soaked through her clothing. She fought uselessly against Mulder’s strength until Pfaster pushed her back under the surface. Just before she was submerged Scully filled her lungs with what she assumed would be her last breath.
It wasn’t long before her chest was burning with the need for air and the sound of her heart became deafening as it laboured against the oxygen poor conditions. Scully opened her eyes to a blurry world. The water was already pink with blood. She could see the surface inches above her and past that thin barrier between life and death was Mulder’s dark outline. Seconds before her body automatically drew in the viscous liquid Pfaster hauled her back to the surface.
Sputtering and coughing Scully sucked hard at the warm air. At first she was grateful simply for the chance to breath, but then she realized that this ordeal had almost been over. Now she’d have to live through more of Pfaster’s harsh treatment. Beyond speech Scully mewed like a lost kitten and shed the tears that she’d managed to hold a bay.
Pfaster picked up a half empty bottle of shampoo and carefully pour some of the thick soapy liquid into Mulder’s palm. When he turned his attention back to his shaking victim he noticed that despite the restrains she’d managed to pull something out of her jacket pocket. Pfaster used his soap free hand to snatch away the thin black wallet and opened it.
It was Mulder’s badge which Scully had taken from Skinner. Staring at the tiny photo inside Pfaster rose to his feet and backed away slowly. When he hit the closed bathroom he slid down it until he was sitting on the wet floor. Mulder looked up at Scully who was shivering uncontrollable. Tears streamed down his blood stained cheeks causing little clean rivers of skin to show through. Scully hadn’t noticed before, but Pfaster had retrieved her gun and placed it in the band of Mulder’s jeans. Mulder pulled the weapon out and placed it under his chin...
Mulder didn’t open his eyes, but he did groan to show that he had some connection with the conscious world. A light touch brushed at his temple. He fluttered his eyes open. When he saw Scully he violently tried to jerk away from her.
“No, no, it’s all right now. Stay still.” Scully pushed against his shoulder to settled him down. Finally he gave in. “We have to stop meeting like this, Mulder.” Scully looked around the white hospital room. “Maybe we should get some time-share here.”
Mulder smiled and was greeted with a stabbing pain. He tried to talk and found that his tongue was taking up entirely too much room.
“Careful.” Scully warned. “You probably won’t be able to talk for a month.” She sighed and sat in a chair that she’d brought up to his bed. “I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t even get a clean shot at themselves.”
Mulder gave her a questioning look.
“The soap that Pfaster had put in your hand is what really save you. The slippery hold threw off your aim. So instead of sending the bullet through your brain it when up through at an angle. It did get the back of your tongue, three top molars and your cheek bone is now mostly reconstructed plastic now. The teeth you’ll have to get replaced latter as it is it took 8 hours of surgery to get you into the condition your in. As for rescue the gun shot was the last straw and the police finally came.”
Mulder cringed, the last thing he needed right now was a detailed explanation of the damage. Looking up at Scully he saw that her own bruised cheek had a dozen or so stitches in it. He reached up. Scully jerked back.
“Careful that’s broken too.”
Mulder tired again to speak to apologize.
“It wasn’t your fault.” Scully said reading his mind. “You tried your hardest to keep Pfaster from hitting me. And in the end you proved yourself stronger. He won’t be back.”
Mulder wasn’t so sure. He weakly held up three fingers.
“No, Mulder, you aren’t responsible for the deaths of those women. I can’t explain it, but I do know that you are an innocent man.”
Mulder turned away. He remembered everything and he knew that images of the three women he’d killed and beating his partner half to death would haunt him forever. He couldn’t believe that Scully was so willing to trust him again. He wasn’t even ready to trust himself. He doubted that he ever would.
‘Trust no one’ had suddenly taken on an entirely different meaning.