Virtual Season Two
  • Blood and Thoughtstalking
  • Psychodiagnostiks
  • 360 Maple Grove
  • Oestrus
  • Game Over
  • The Loyal Ones
  • Hypnagogia
  • Electioneering
  • Dreamscape
  • Callipso
  • Teporingo
  • The Jade Monkey Project
  • Bitter Revenge
  • Red Tide
  • Chi
  • Human Nature
  • Asthenopia
  • Ley of the Land
  • Everything To Live For
  • Warden
  • Grimm
  • A Piori

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    122 ST. IVY'S RD.
    9:25PM, TUESDAY

    It was a quiet and warm April night. The wind carried the salted air from the seashore nearby to the roads and the streets of the small village that was resting just at the rim of the East Coast. Most of the lights were already out in this lazy town, but not in one of the smaller houses.

    Tina Nichols was in her study-room, sitting at her desk very much engrossed in the books and papers on the table in front of her. The computer was whirring and beeping, printing her essay out. After four weeks of hard work, she had just completed it and was ready to hand it in the next day.

    On the desk was a framed picture of her beloved husband, David. Every time her eyes fell on that picture, she would smile softly and remember that very first day they met. It was just last summer, at the bar near her parents' home in LA. They fell for each other instantly and got married after just six weeks of whirlwind romance.

    Tina dropped the pen from her hand and stretched a little before she reached out her hand to the phone and dialed her friend's number.


    "Hi. It's Tina. Would you do me a favor, Cindy? I need a lift tomorrow to school. I lost my driver's license, and David is in LA. He has a seminar to attend tomorrow. He's staying at my parents'."

    "Your husband is with your parents in LA and you are here? Get out of here."

    "Oh, I can't. I'm stuck in here. I would have gone with him if it wasn't for the exam tomorrow, but here I am working my head off, like a lunatic. Like crazy."

    "Hey, you'll do great tomorrow, don't kill yourself, ok? I'll pick you up around 7:30?"

    "Yeah. Thanks."

    Tina hung up the phone and stretched her body on her chair. Two seconds later it rang and she picked it up:


    "Hi, honey. How are you?"

    Tina's voice and features softened as she heard her husband's voice.

    "David, honey. Hi, I'm fine. How was your trip?"

    "Ah, you know me. I was air sick throughout the flight. The smell of the food made me feel even worse. Ugh."

    "Oh, poor baby. Did you throw up on your neighbor's lap?"

    "Oh, come on. You know me better than that."

    David then laughed and heard her also chuckle.

    "So, what are you doing?"

    "As usual, you know. Sitting at the desk, working hard."

    "What are you wearing, Tina?"

    Smiling, Tina dropped the pen from her hand and reclined a little on her chair.


    "Oh, come on."

    He'd said that on purpose, anticipating the soft laughter he then heard from his beautiful wife.

    "David? If my father heard you?"

    "He won't. He's helping your mother in the kitchen. Oh, here he comes. Let me put him on. I'll call you tomorrow, Ok?"

    David handed the phone receiver to his father-in-law, who sounded so happy to talk to his daughter.

    "Tina, how is my little angel?"

    "I'm fine, dad. How are you and Mum?"

    "Your Mom's fine. She's in the kitchen, preparing dinner. So, are we all set for tomorrow?"

    "Yeah, I think so. Wish me luck, Dad. I need it."

    "Wish you all the luck in the world, little angel. I love you."

    Tina put the phone receiver down feeling home sick. She missed her home, her friends, her parents. Of course, David was her husband and the love of her life, and was making her life here very much happy and comfortable, and studying was consuming all her time, but still, she missed home.

    She looked up at the clock and it was almost 10:00 p.m. She was starting to feel tired and sleepy, but there was still a lot of work to do. Enrolling at University to study Arts and Humanities was her dream since she was a teenager, and it deserved all the hard work she's putting into it. She worked an hour more and when the clock struck 11:00 sharp, she got up from her desk, went to the bathroom, entered the empty bathtub still fully dressed, and took her husband's shaving razor and slashed both her wrists' veins.

    Twenty minutes later, she was dead, with tears in her eyes.

    7:22 AM, WEDNESDAY

    Special Agent Dana Scully was standing in her kitchen at the counter, fully dressed for work and drinking her black coffee when she heard the phone ring. She decided to let the machine take a message, as she was almost late for work.

    "This is Dana Scully; I'm not here. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can."

    After the beep, her partner's voice came through to her.

    "Scully, it's me. Pick up the phone."

    Scully was a little surprised to hear her partner, special agent Fox Mulder's voice this early in the morning. She took her coffee to the living room to answer the phone.

    "Scully, are you still there?"

    She picked up the phone and breathed out.

    "Yes, I'm here, Mulder. What do you have to tell me that couldn't wait for 30 minutes?"

    "Pack an overnight bag, Scully. I'm coming to pick you up."

    Lifting her coffee to her mouth, she asked, "Where're we going?"

    "Beckingham, Mass. Sheriff Sanders, whom I'd worked with before, called me an hour ago. An apparent suicide."

    Scully lifted an eyebrow.

    "An apparent suicide?"

    "Yeah. I'll brief you on the details on the way to the airport. I'll meet you at your apartment in 15 minutes."

    They hung up the phone and Scully started packing. Twenty minutes later, they were on their way to the airport.

    "So, what's it about this suicide case that interests you?" Scully asked her partner.

    "All I know is that a twenty-year-old girl, Tina Nichols, was found dead this morning in her bathtub. Her wrist veins were slashed and caused her to bleed to death. The bathroom door and both windows were locked and chained from the inside, and the girl was alone that night in the house."

    "So why do you think it's an apparent suicide?"

    "According to Sheriff Sanders, the victim spoke to her friend, Cindy, around 9:30 p.m. last night and asked her to pick her up in the morning to go to college. And when the friend arrived this morning, she found her body in the bathroom."

    "What's her motivation?"

    Agent Mulder moved his head to look at her.

    "That's the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question, Scully."

    "No motive?"

    Scully thought for a few seconds, and then asked:

    "You said Beckingham in Massachussetts?"


    "Mulder, is this case related with the one we worked on a little while ago?"

    "I thought about it, and no. They are not related"

    Scully nodded, waiting for more information about this case, so Mulder continued on his briefing.

    "A twenty-year-old girl, about to be graduated from college, calls her friend, asks her to give her a ride to school the next morning. And less than 10 hours later she is found drowned in her blood, in her bathtub, fully clothed, dead by no accident."

    "But you said it yourself; all the possible entries to the bathroom were locked and chained from the inside."

    "Exactly. Why would someone, who's so angry or depressed or whatever, to the point of suicide, go through all the trouble of chaining doors and locking windows to kill himself in the middle of the night, in an already empty house, in a sleepy small town? Does that make any sense to you?"

    "Yes, Mulder, yes it does. If she was so buried deep in trouble to the point of suicide, she must have been too desperate and wanted to avoid interruption."

    "Not in this case, Scully. I don't agree with you."

    Scully looked questioningly at her partner, and asked:

    "So what are you suggesting?"

    "I'm only suggesting that there are questions that beg further investigation."

    Scully looked ahead, to the long highway in front of her, as the car speeded down the road.

    David Nichols' residence,
    Wednesday, 11:00am.

    As Mulder and Scully were approaching the residence, they saw Tina Nichols' body being loaded into the coroner's van, which was about to take off to the morgue. As Scully entered the house, she saw the man she only presumed is Sheriff Sanders. He was a middle-aged man in his late forties, early fifties, with his slightly grayed mustache almost covering his upper lip. She then heard her partner's voice coming over her shoulder:

    "Sheriff Sanders?"

    The slightly overweight man turned to his caller, and as he recognized Mulder, he smiled politely and stretched his hand to greet them with a warm hospitality:

    "Agent Mulder. Long time no see."

    "Sheriff Sanders, this is my partner, Agent Scully."

    As he shook hands with her, both smiled politely:

    "Nice to meet you."

    While Sheriff Sanders led the way to the scene, he talked to the two agents over his shoulder.

    "Thank you for coming on such a short notice. I ordered that, after lifting the prints and taking the photos, nothing was to be touched, except for the body, of course, which is now on its way to the city's morgue to be autopsied." He entered the bathroom, with the agents following him. He stood at the doorway but didn't enter; only pointed directly at the bathtub.

    "This is where she was found."

    Mulder stepped in and crouched on the bathroom floor to have a closer look at the razor that had been used to cut the veins, which was sitting on the bath rim, still stained with blood.

    "What can you tell me about the victim, Sheriff Sanders?" Scully asked.

    Shaking his head, the middle-aged sheriff opened a file in his hand and then started reading:

    "Not much. Twenty-year-old Tina Nichols. A student at Peterson College, majoring on History. Originally, she was from a well-known Los Angeles family, but she moved to Bechingham after getting married to a David..."

    Mulder stood away from the bathtub, looking at the older man, surprised.

    "She was married?"

    "Yeah. Just last summer. David T. Nichols. Age 26. Engineer. Originally from North Carolina." Sheriff Sanders said, checking the records.

    "So where is he?" Mulder asked.

    "He's in LA for a seminar or something. He's been notified and he's already on his way back, with her parents."

    "What about the victim's friend, the one who found the body?" Scully asked, as she turned to the sheriff. Looking back at the file in his hand, he nodded.

    "Yeah, Cindy Davis. She claims that the victim spoke with her last night and asked her for a lift to college for today. And when she knocked on the door this morning, and nobody answered, she looked through the window and..."

    Sheriff Sanders made a hand gesture; as if saying, "You know the drill". Mulder nodded in understanding.

    "Where is she now?" Scully asked.

    "Since we didn't want her to miss her exams today, an officer took her to the college to give it a shot. But apparently, she broke down, and eventually was taken home to rest. 167 Ellen Street."

    "When is the husband expected?" Mulder asked.

    "He, with the parents, should be here by 9:30 tonight."

    "Ok, then, we'll meet you here at that time."

    Upon walking towards the door with Scully, Mulder saw the victim's desk through the study's open door. It was covered with open books and endless sheets of paper and printouts, screaming the high ambitions of its owner, and the strong will and determination needed to reach them. He thought, This is a room of someone who'd survive, not commit suicide.

    Cindy Davis' residence.
    Wednesday, 02:26pm.

    Agent Mulder stopped the car in front of the two-story house. He, along with his partner, got out of the car and walked towards the front door. A moment after knocking on the door, a lady in her early forties opened the it:


    Scully introduced them to her:

    "Mrs. Davis, I'm agent Scully, this is my partner Agent Mulder, we're with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. May we speak with your daughter Cindy?"

    Mrs. Davis shook her head and raised her eyebrows in disbelief:


    "Yes ma'am. We're investigating the death of Tina Nichols, your daughter's friend."

    The older woman shook her head again, puzzled:

    "But it's a suicide? Isn't it?"

    Scully just lowered her head, not wanting to tell the woman anything that she's not so convinced of herself. So Mulder jumped in to reply:

    "We'll find out ma'am. May we come in?"


    She said that as she opened the door wider, in a gesture for them to come in. It was a nice house, with pale shades of blue and yellow covering the whole place with a soothing effect.

    "Please, have a seat. Would you like me to offer you something?"

    Mulder once again answered, while sitting beside Scully on the huge, turquoise sofa:

    "We're fine, thanks."

    "Cindy's resting in her room right now. I'll call her."

    Mrs. Davis said that and left the room. Mulder then leaned his head close to Scully's and asked to her quietly, almost whispering:

    "You still think she killed herself?"

    "I think this is the only explanation. I don't think this is an X file."

    "Why do you think she killed herself?"

    "I don't know."

    Scully said that, then looked up at him:

    "But just because we don't know her motivation we can't just assume that she was mysteriously murdered. And in anyway, we still haven't finished the investigation yet. I'm hoping the person we are about to meet will tell us something that will clarify what happened and the reason for it." p Sanders.? Sheriff told already have would she known she?d If it. about anything know doesn?t She won?t.>Scully felt a little annoyed by her partner's attitude towards the case. So she gave him a side-way look and stated:

    "I guess we'll have to wait to know that for sure."

    As Mulder was resting his back on the back of the sofa, Mrs. Davis came back into the room, assuring the two agents:

    "Cindy will be down shortly."

    As she sat on the armchair, she looked a little worried, as if debating whether to ask a question or not. Finally, she decided to do so, choosing her words very carefully:

    "May I ask what kind of questions you are going to ask Cindy?"

    Scully quickly assured her:

    "We understand that Cindy is upset, we're not gonna ask her any disturbing questions. Just some general information about the deceased."

    Just as Scully was finishing her sentence, a pale, shaken Cindy came into the room. Her dark, brown hair swept back into a ponytail, and her eyes bloodshot, which was understandable, if not anticipated. Scully greeted her, talking softly and slowly: p death.? unexpected Tina?s investigate to here are We FBI. the with We?re Mulder. Fox Agent is this and Scully Dana name My>Cindy appeared not to be listening, as her angry look was fixed on the floor. Scully moved her head to one side, trying to get her attention.


    Cindy breathed deeply through her nostrils twice, and everybody could see the anger building in her lungs. She finally said, slowly, with a voice she tried so hard to control, but failed:

    "I have told the police everything, twice. Don't you work together? Don't you ever cooperate? Why do I have to keep repeating what happened in the last 18 hours to the rest of..."

    Mulder interrupted:

    "We are not here to ask about what happened last night. We're here to try and gather more information about Tina, the person. You probably knew her best as her best friend."

    Cindy looked at the man before her and appeared to be gaining control over herself. Mulder took the opportunity and asked her, as gently as he could:

    "What can you tell me about Tina?"

    Cindy closed her eyes and swallowed hard. Both Scully and Mulder could see the lump of bitterness moving down her throat.

    "I met her early September last year. We were standing in the same line to enroll in the same class. By the end of the semester, we were best friends."

    Cindy's eyes were enveloped in a dark cloud of sadness, as she gazed her looks on the floor:

    "Didn't cross my mind that it was going to end so soon, so violent."

    She started breathing faster and heavier, so Scully quickly changed the subject:

    "Did she ever discuss her personal life with you?"

    Cindy tried to contain her emotions as she replied:

    "Well, when we weren't talking about classes and stuff, she would talk nonstop about David, her husband. The places they went, how they were in love together, their plans for the future."

    She paused a little, lost in her thoughts, and then continued:

    "She wanted to have kids, a boy and a girl. I remember that now and I laugh."

    She said her last sentence, and placed her hands across her face to cover the tears welling in her eyes. The agents gave her a minute, until she raised her head, wiping tears away with the tips of her fingers. Mulder stood up and passed her the Kleenex box, saying:

    "I'm sorry."

    She pulled a tissue from the box, and said, wiping her tears:

    "It's ok. It's just that I saw Tina covered in her own blood, lost my best friend, and screwed up my finals all in one day."

    Cindy blew her nose and breathed out heavily. Scully was debating whether to postpone the interview to a later time, when she heard Mulder's question, taking the decision for her:

    "What do you know about her background?"

    "She was from LA. Her father owns a company of some sort there. Her mother was a high school teacher, but she took early retirement few years ago."

    Cindy shook her head, trying to find some more information:

    "She was on a vacation, in Malibu or something, when she met David and married him six weeks later."

    Scully asked:

    "She was barely nineteen when she got married. Did her parents approve of this wedding?"

    "I think so. They are on good terms with each other. I mean, David stayed last night in their house in LA."

    Mulder took the lead and started to ask his own questions:

    "Have you noticed anything unusual about Tina lately?"

    Cindy lowered her head in concentration, honestly trying to remember:

    "No. I don't think so."

    "It appeared in the phone records that your number was the last one dialed through her phone line."

    "Yes. She called about 9:30 PM and asked me to give her a lift for today to school."

    Scully took the lead of conversation as she asked:

    "How did she sound? Did She seem worried about something? Maybe sad? Upset?"

    "No. Not at all. She sounded very normal. Of course she was worried about the exam, but not THAT kind of worried. Tina was strong. If she was worried about something she would stand up, face it, and do something about it, not run away from it."

    Scully asked her, trying to perceive something to help her build her own final conclusion:

    "So you don't think Tina took her own life."

    "No. And that's why I called the police first, not the paramedics."

    Mulder shot Scully a look, which she ignored and asked Cindy:

    "So if you are eliminating suicide, do you think she was murdered?"

    Cindy let out a short breath as she lowered her gaze:

    "I don't know."

    Scully prompted her:

    "Did she have enemies?"

    Cindy shook her head:

    "No. If she'd had, she would have told me."

    Mulder interrupted to ask his own questions:

    "Do you know of someone who might benefit from her death?"

    "You mean financially?"

    "Financially or other wise. But why do you say that? Was she rich?"

    "She owned 2.5% of her fathers company, but she doesn't get anything until she's 28. She told me that on her 20th birthday."

    Cindy smiled as the memory's fine mist encircled her and took her to another world:

    "We were lying on her couch, dead tired after five hours of continuous shopping for next day's party. On that couch I gave her the birthday gift I bought her. A silver ring with two entwined cats bearing our initials."

    She suddenly lifted her head and asked:

    "Do you think I could get it back? The ring? Just for keepsake?"

    Scully was the one to reply:

    "I can't see why not. We'll have to arrange that with her family."

    Cindy smiled a little as she thanked the FBI agent, then she shrugged:

    "It's amazing. You go to the market, buy this small, stupid gift for your friend's birthday and completely forget about it. Then one day you wake up and it's the most cherished thing in your life. And it's the only thing you're left from your best friend."

    Mulder and Scully watched as suddenly her face started to flush with anger, her voice got shaky and her breathing became fast and heavy:

    "It's just not fair, to cut her life so short. She wanted to go to Boston University, to study hard and own a degree. She wanted to love her husband, and be loved by him. She wanted to have his children and bring them up. She wanted to tour the world."

    She sharply lifted her head and shot the two agents in front of her an angry look:

    "She was planing for a hundred years to come. So don't give me that crap that she took her own life. I'm telling you she did NOT."

    Scully asked her here:

    "So how do you explain what happened? You do know that all entries to the scene were locked from the inside."

    "I can't explain it. But to me, it's more plausible that she was killed, and after her assailant left, she came back from the dead, locked the door and the two windows, and then lay back in the tub, than to say that she killed herself in the first place."

    Mulder and Scully closed the door behind them as they left the house to their car. After they got in the car and closed the doors, Mulder turned to his partner and asked her: p Scully?? now, think you do what>Scully was sitting in her passenger seat, resting her head on the palm of her hand. She looked up at him for a second before replying:

    "I don't know Mulder. I actually don't know. Maybe she received a letter, an email, saw something on TV!"

    Mulder turned to his partner, biting on his lower lip:

    "A letter, huh?"

    "Let's find out."

    Nichols' Residence,
    Wednesday, 4:35pm.

    Mulder stopped the car in front of the house that was a much quieter than it was in the morning. He and his partner passed the police line and presented the police officer with their badges, so he unlocked the door and stood aside as they entered, closing the door behind them.

    Scully moved her eyes around the house and realized that her previous visit to the house didn't leave but a blurry impression in her mind. In this silence, she could see that the house was actually a home. It had a large living room with a massive bookcase that lined a whole wall in front of her. The sofas were large and comfy, with a side table that's loaded with framed pictures of family members.

    "Scully, look a'this."

    She twirled around to see that her partner was examining a book collection closely. He then took one of them in his hand and started leafing through it. She walked towards him:

    "What is it?"

    Mulder didn't say a ward; he kept leafing through the book for a minute before finally saying:

    "This is the fifth book I find here about pathology."

    "Well, the victim was a competent student, you know."

    Mulder smirked and gave her one of his looks saying:

    "History student, Scully, not a medical student."

    Scully didn't surrender to his mocking:

    "Well, then, maybe it's her husband's."

    Mulder rolled his eyes:

    "He's an engineer, for God's sakes."

    She mimicked his eye movement and said:

    "Maybe he's reconsidering."

    She looked at him, smiled to herself at his reaction to her words and then twirled once more to go to the study room, where the victim spent her last few hours. She sat down at the desk and breathed deeply as she saw a framed photo of a young, handsome man, This must be her husband she thought.

    She then started searching around for something that might explain this mystery. She searched the desktop, drawers, trashcan and all around. There were books, notebooks, essays, computer printouts and a bunch of pens and pencils, but nothing to lead her into the right direction. She was looking for something that might explain the tragedy that took place last night; a note, a letter, a message, something personal, but she found nothing.

    As a last resort, she switched the computer on, to check for a suspicious email that might have triggered the victim off. After a few seconds, the computer asked for identification and a password. Scully tried to think; what could her password possibly be? She looked around her, in search of something that might help her figure it out, but she only saw books and papers and essays, to take the desk owner through her exams.

    Scully wetted her lips with her tongue and typed password: university but it didn't get her in. She typed Princeton, Harvard, Oxford, but none of them was a hit. Finally, she typed Graduation and hit Enter. She was in.


    Scully whispered to herself, adjusting her position on the seat. There were two new emails, but they didn't interest her, she wanted to know what Tina may have received, and killed herself upon. She hit the inbox and found a message from her ISP and a couple from old friends, and read them.

    Nothing significant.

    She was still sitting at the desk when Mulder came in and rested a hand on the back of his partner's chair and another on the desk edge:

    "Did you find anything?"

    Scully breathed out heavily then raised an eyebrow to him and gave him half a quirky smile:

    "Only that she was obsessed with her Graduation even more than we thought."

    Mulder looked at her, questioning, so she tilted her head saying:

    "It's her computer password. Excuse me."

    She said that, left her chair and went past him to the living room. She sat on the couch and dropped her head to the back of the seat and closed her eyes. Mulder followed her and sat on the other couch.

    "Are you ok, Scully?"

    "Yeah, I'm just thinking, why would someone, who has everything and getting more of his dreams fulfilled, would suddenly give everything up and just simply kill himself?"

    "She didn't kill herself, Scully. I bet my spooky reputation on that."

    Scully opened her eyes a little and turned to her partner, giving him a side way look:

    "So what happened then?"

    "I don't know yet, but we'll find out."

    Mulder looked as his partner closed her eyes again and rested her head to the back of the sofa:



    "Are you sure you're ok?"

    "Yes, Mulder. I'm fine."

    She said that not moving a muscle more than necessary to mouth the words. He couldn't help but feel a little worried about his partner. He moved his head to have a closer look at her now pale face, gently asking:

    "When was the last time you visited your oncologist?"

    Scully looked at her partner, surprised at his question. She then shook her head:

    "This has nothing to do with it, Mulder. The cancer is gone and it's not coming back. I'm just a little tired. It's almost six p.m. and I've only had coffee since this morning. I just need something to eat and I'll be fine."

    Mulder got on his feet and moved towards her:

    "I'm sorry. I should have thought about that."

    "Actually, I was so wrapped up in this that I didn't think about that myself."

    He helped her to her feet, saying:

    "Not anymore. We're going to check into a motel and get you something to eat."

    Scully accepted his help and allowed him to help her out of the house and into the car. He opened the passenger door to her, helped her in, then walked around the car to his own seat, started the car and took off.

    Wednesday, 6:43pm.

    The two agents checked in to the motel 20 minutes ago. Mulder went to buy them dinner and Scully decided to rest a little until he came back.

    Scully was on the bed, in that state between sleep and wakefulness when she felt blood drops trickle from her left nostril. Reflexively, she quickly sat up, and the blood flow worsened by the sudden movement, staining her white blouse, the pillow and the bed sheets. Instinctively, she placed her palm under her nose and tried to look for a tissue box:

    "Oh, God."

    She got on her feet, ran to the bathroom and stood at the washing basin, holding tight on it with her right hand to support her shaking self, and pressing a finger from her other hand on her left nostril to try and stop the bleeding. Her mind was thinking fast, almost panicky:

    What the hell is going on? She was in remission, this is not supposed to be happening. Not now, not as the doctors were about to give her the clear bill.

    She spent three minutes in that position, breathing through her mouth, until the bleeding finally stopped. She stood there shaking for a moment, then started to furiously wipe the blood from her face with a wet face cloth, barely containing her tears. Despite her slight nausea, she decided to step under the shower calm her nerves down. She ran the water, took her clothes off and stepped under the water spray, leaning her head on the white porcelain of the tiles and started crying bitterly. What if her cancer came back? No. It couldn't be. It just couldn't be.

    Scully didn't know how long she'd been under the shower when she heard Mulder knock once on the door adjoining their rooms, open it, and call her name:


    Scully didn't have the desire or energy to talk back, so she said nothing. A second later she heard him calling her frantically, banging on the bathroom door with all his might:


    Damn, I forgot to change the bed sheets she thought.

    "Yes Mulder, I'm here. It's ok I'm fine."

    She could hear his breathings through the bathroom door strong and fast:

    "Are you sure?"

    "Yeah. I'll be out in a bit." She said that turning the spray of water even cooler.

    Half an hour later, the two agents were eating silently at Mulder's room, while the sheets in Scully's were being changed.

    Mulder broke the silence between them, asking her in a very stern voice, not looking at her:

    "What the hell happened, Scully?"

    "I don't know."

    He nodded his head, not believing her:

    "You don't know. What have you been keeping from me?"

    She looked up to him across the table:

    "Nothing. Mulder can we please just not talk about it, I'm tired and just not..."

    But Mulder interrupted her anger filling his voice:

    "How many times you were thinking of waiting before you told me."

    "Mulder, you are not listening to me. This is the first time since it was in remission."

    Mulder just nodded his head. After a few moments of silence, he said, not looking at her:

    "After you finish eating, I'm gonna take you back to DC. I'm gonna take you to your doctor."

    Scully was already on the verge, and Mulder's bossing her made her feel even worse. She only tried to contain her feelings because she knew he was only looking after her. She breathed out and said in a very much controlled voice:

    "Thank you very much, Mulder, but I'll go to the doctor when I decide to do so. And I'll do it as soon as we finish this case and go back to DC."

    But Mulder had already made up his mind:

    "No. We're going back tonight and our first stop will be the hospital."

    Scully lifted her head and shot him an angry look:

    "You can't take this decision for me."

    Returning her look back to her, he said with a dry voice:

    "Oh yes I can, Scully. If your cancer is coming back I'm gonna take you to the hospital and I'm gonna do it right now. I'm not gonna watch you die, Scully. I'm not gonna just watch you bleed to death."

    She looked at him and saw despair in his eyes. She took a deep breath and then softly said:

    "I'm not bleeding to death, Mulder. It's not that simple."

    She waited a second for her last words to dawn on Mulder's brain:

    "Mulder if the cancer is coming back, it's gonna kill me one way or the other, sooner or later, there is no escaping it."

    He looked away from her eyes to hide his dejection, as she continued:

    "You think if a visit to the doctor would save my life I wouldn't go? I would, Mulder. But it's not gonna save me. It's only gonna make my last few days miserable. The chemotherapy, the radiation, you name it. And added misery is the last thing I need right now. So please Mulder, just drop it."

    He lifted his eyes to look at her, then said with a husky voice, as if he'd just swallowed broken glass: p to the is and you it.? drop just me expect back coming cancer your that possibility There it!>"I expect you to stand by me. To help me through this like a good friend. Mulder, having my cancer lurking at me from every corner I turn is hard enough for me to live with, I don't need you fussing over every time I have a nose bleed or feel nauseous, making it feel even scarier."

    Mulder looked away from her, and seemed to feel defeated:

    "So what do you want me to do now? "

    "I want you to pretend that nothing is going on, that I didn't have this nosebleed. That I'm ok. That I'm not dying. At least until we finish this case and go back to DC like we have previously planned. I don't want this to alter my life, Mulder, I don't want it to dictate..."

    Mulder didn't wait for her to continue on her sentence, he interrupted:

    "You want me to lie to you or lie to myself?"

    Scully again tried to reason with him softly, and to take him on her side:

    "My cancer is a strong, vivid fact in my life that I need a little lie to help me go on."

    He was shaking his head, not convinced:

    "I can't do this to you, Scully."

    "Mulder, please promise me. For Scully's sake, promise me."

    She moved her head so her eyes met his. She could see that his heart was crushed and leveled with the floor underneath his feet. He opened his mouth to say something but the words choked him, and he couldn't say anything.

    They both jumped a little as Mulder's cell phone rang. He inhaled deeply and went to answer it:


    Scully was hearing only his part of the conversation.

    "Where are they? I'll be right there."

    Mulder hung up the phone and turned to his partner:

    "The victim's husband and parents just arrived. They are in the house now."

    Without hesitation, Scully stood up and headed to her room to get ready to go with him. Mulder watched her and guessed what she was up to. He tried one last time to stop her by asking:

    "Scully, where are you going?"

    "To get dressed. I'm coming with you."

    Mulder gave her that for-God's-sake-Scully look. She turned around and stepped closer to him, and softly said:

    "Mulder, if I'm dying then that's it. Me going with you tonight and contributing to this case is not gonna change my future. It's just gonna make my present worthwhile. Now I'll be ready in five minutes. Ok?"

    He wanted to stop her from going with everything in him, and everything is his power, but he just nodded his head:

    "Ok. Get dressed then. I'll wait."

    She gave him a little smile for a thank you, and turned to her room. As she closed the door, she smiled even more and knew that he accepted her decision as she heard him call out:

    "Hey Scully, don't take too long."

    David Nichols residence,
    9:25 p.m. Wednesday.

    Mulder stopped the rented blue Taurus right in front of the house. As he and Scully got out and walked to the front door, the security officer opened it for them. Sheriff Sanders greeted them from the doorway:

    "Agents Mulder and Scully, good evening. They've arrived 30 minutes ago."

    He gestured to them to enter the living room.

    "I have to warn you. As you'd expect, it's really bad in there. The husband and the mother especially."


    Mulder replied to the sheriff.

    As soon as the two agents entered, they heard a woman sobbing. Soon, they saw Mrs. Campbell, the victim's mother, burying her face in her husband's chest and crying bitterly, while he tried to comfort her through his own tears.

    On the other couch, David Nichols, the victim's husband, sat upright, gazing in the air, entranced. He was a young, handsome man, in his mid twenties.

    Scully decided to approach the mother first. She walked toward her and crouched on the floor next to her, placing her hand gently on the older woman's knee to get her attention.

    "Mrs. Campbell?"

    The mourning mother lifted her head and looked at Scully, with blood shot eyes, as the agent continued:

    "My name is Dana Scully. I'm a special agent with the FBI. I'm very sorry for..."

    Scully stopped as Steve Nichols interrupted her:

    "FBI? This is really turning into a circus. What are you doing here? Who called you?"

    Scully turned her head towards the husband:

    "Sir, we've been informed that this accident needs further investigation, due to some unclear elements."

    "What elements?"

    The angry husband demanded. Scully stood up from her crouching position near Mrs. Campbell, and addressed the young man:

    "First of all, we can't possibly find a motive for your late wife to take such an action, to take her own life, unless you know something we don't."

    She said that sitting on the couch, next to him. David thought carefully for a while, then slowly said:

    "I know she was worried about her finals."

    Scully said, raising her eyebrows doubtingly:

    "To the point of suicide?"

    "I think this must be it. There is no other reason for her to, oh, to..."

    His voice started to waver as he tried to continue. He then lay his palms across his face and started crying like a lost child.

    "I'm sorry."

    Scully said as she looked at her partner, who was only observing from a distance. Then she looked at Mrs. Campbell and found that she had calmed down a little.

    "Mrs. Campbell, can I ask you a few questions? Do you have any idea as to why your daughter would take her own life?"

    Through her tears, Mrs. Campbell replied with shaky voice:

    "I don't know. The exam stress I guess."

    "Are you sure?"

    "I don't know, but I don't see why else she would..."

    "Yes I understand."

    Scully interrupted the mother, not wanting her to utter the painful word. Then she continued:

    "When was the last time you spoke with her?"

    "We speak together almost everyday. We were so close. I can't see why she didn't tell me that she was so stressed."

    She said that and broke into tears, again burying her face in her husband's chest. Mr. Campbell, who was in his early fifties, held his wife tightly and continued on her behalf:

    "Last time we talked was around 9:30 last night. David had just arrived to our house and wanted to call her."

    Scully looked at the husband, and prompted him with a head nod, so he said:

    "Yeah, umm, I'm sorry but I can't remember exactly what we said. It was just general talk."

    "Understandable. Can you at least tell us what she sounded like?"

    David Nichols stood up sharply and shot Scully an angry look and started shouting at her:

    "Hey, I called my wife to say hi, not to put her through polygraph or some other shit that you, FBI people..."

    Mulder, who was standing, leaning his back on the door jamb, left his place and took one step toward the angry man, lifting his hand in front of him as if to demand STOP:

    "Hey, hey, hey."

    When Mulder was sure he got the man's attention, he continued in a strong voice:

    "She was just trying to do her job. If you're not ready yet to be interviewed you just have to say so."

    David breathed out heavily and turned his face towards Scully and then apologized to her sincerely, resting his forehead on the palm of his hand.

    "I'm sorry, ma'am. I'm so sorry. It's like a truck doing 200mph had just hit me in full force."

    Scully accepted his apology with a nod from her head, as he continued:

    "I can't help but hate myself. She needed me very badly and I wasn't there for her. I should have known."

    Mr. Campbell turned to his son-in-law and tried to comfort him:

    "For God's sake David, don't do this to yourself. I too talked to her and didn't suspect a thing."

    Mulder asked the middle-aged man:

    "You spoke with your daughter last night, Sir?"

    The older man switched his looks from his son-in-law, to the agent before him, and nodded:

    "Yes. I, I was in the kitchen helping my wife prepare dinner when I entered the living room and saw David on the phone with Tina. He gave me the phone to say hi."

    A single teardrop shone in his eye, but didn't dare fall.

    "She asked about her mom, and I told her she was in the kitchen. Then I asked if she was ready for next day's exam and she said 'wish me luck'. Then she said 'I love you, Dad'. And we hung up."

    The father's voice was dying with every word he said describing his last call with his daughter.

    Mulder tried to be professional and continued with the questioning by asking the father:

    "Sir, if Tina had a problem, or was worried about something, do you believe that she would have told you about it? Asked for your help?"

    The mourning father lifted his fingers to his eyes, and replied:

    "Tina was a kind, strong, well-adjusted person. Everybody, including herself, knew that she could handle anything. But she also liked her close family involved. She always appreciated a second opinion. So if anything wasn't quite right, she would have turned to us. I'm sure of it."

    "So how do you explain the fact that your daughter was having so much problems, to the point of suicide, and not tell you or ask for your help?"

    The father shook his head, giving Mulder the idea that they both share the same idea that this couldn't be a suicide:

    "It's very unlike her."

    "So how do you explain her suicide?"

    The older man thought carefully before he said his next words:

    "I can't right now. But I'm having a meeting with her teachers and friends at college and I'm hoping to be able to know something by then."

    Sheriff Sanders, who was silent throughout the questioning, finally found a space for him to squeeze in:

    "Umm, Mr. Campbell, we already did that, sir. We interviewed the college head, all her teachers and about twenty of her classmates, including her competitors. Nothing inciting."

    David Nichols suddenly seemed to be falling apart. He lifted his head and cried at the two agents:

    "Why are you doing this to us? Huh? Losing a member of the family is very hard, as it is, let alone being a suicide. Don't you policemen have the decency to leave a family to mourn quietly over the loss?"

    Mulder took the tissue box from Mrs. Campbell side and offered it to the sad widower, who took one to wipe his eyes as Mulder tried to comfort him.

    "We're very sorry, sir, to disturb you at this difficult time. We are leaving now. This is the hotel number if you remembered anything. We'll be in touch."

    Mulder said that and nodded his head to Scully. She whispered a goodbye to Mrs. Campbell and left the house with her partner.

    Mulder closed the door behind his partner as they left the mourning family. They walked quietly side by side until they reached the car on the other side of the street. As soon as they both got in the car, Scully started fastening her seatbelt, voicing her thoughts to her partner:

    "The husband is definitely losing it."

    Mulder looked away from her, as he replied:

    "You can't really blame him, Scully. He just lost his wife." Still fiddling with her seatbelt, she absently nodded her head to him:

    "Yeah, I guess you're right."

    Mulder took a deep breath, and sat there for a second, watching as the woman beside him tried once again to buckle that awkward-positioned-belt again:

    "Here, let me help you," he offered, leaning towards her seat, and fixing the buckle, after wrestling with it himself for a few seconds.


    Forgetting to thank him, Scully mused to him:

    "The father seemed to be having a grip, though. He was very focused and prepared for all the questions. The mother wasn't bad, either. She answered whatever she could."

    "Mmm. Yeah."

    Still not starting the car, Mulder turned to his partner and asked:

    "Scully, did you notice something?"

    She turned her head towards him:


    "The husband; although very saddened for his wife, wasn't in the least interested to know why she killed herself. He just convinced himself that it was because of the exams. And that puts her one of the 0.1% of the suicide cases who go this far because of that reason."

    Scully twisted her lips:


    "Scully, when a family loses a member due to natural causes, they are sad. When it's a murder case, they are angry. And when it's a suicide, they just want to know why. And that doesn't seem the case with David."

    Scully waited for him to explain, but he didn't, so she asked:

    "What are you suggesting? That he knows something and isn't telling us?"

    Mulder looked at her and raised an eyebrow in a gesture that he thinks that the husband is involved somehow. Scully was absolutely shocked by his way of thinking.

    "What? Mulder I can't even..."

    Mulder interrupted her:

    "Scully, just think about it."

    Scully shook her head, not understanding:

    "Why? And most importantly, how? He was on the other side of the country when it happened. Do you think he hired a hit man?"

    "I don't know, Scully. I just have this strong feeling that suggests he have something to do with it. Someway or another. I'm sure of it."

    Scully thought about her partner's words for a few minutes, trying to put them in a rational frame. She then asked:

    "Did we find something in his background check?"

    She said that not as asking a question, but as suggesting an idea, taking her cellular phone out of her coat jacket and dialing Sheriff Sanders' cellular number.

    Thursday, 8:35am.

    Scully was awakened by the knock on her door. Mulder's voice came to her slightly muffled through the thin wood:


    She sat upright on her bed for a second before she smoothed her hair a little and said, sleep still filling her voice:

    "Yeah, come on in."

    Mulder entered the room, holding a pink paper-bag in his hand:

    "Good morning, sleeping beauty."

    Scully looked towards the window, trying to assess how late it was:

    "What time is it?"

    "8:35. "

    Scully wiped her eyes a little with the tips of her fingers to wake herself up, while Mulder placed the doughnut bag on the dresser. He then moved to the bureau and sat on the chair.

    "Sheriff Sanders called me on my cell about half an hour ago. He wants us to meet him at his office in an hour. He said he's got some news for us."

    "Apparently interesting ones. About Mr. Nichols. Looks like I was right, Scully."

    He said that and stood up, clicking her kettle on, and then heading to his room:

    "Your breakfast is on the dresser. I'll grab a shower and we'll leave in 30 minutes."

    Police station.
    Thursday, 9:30am.

    Mulder and Scully entered the small, cluttered Beckingham PD, looking around for Sheriff Sanders. Mulder approached an officer sitting behind the reception desk:

    "Hi. My name is Mulder. I'm here to see Sheriff Sanders." Before the officer on duty could answer, the Sheriff was already behind the two agents:

    "Agents Mulder and Scully, thanks for coming. This way please."

    He led the way to his office and held the door for them to get in.

    "Have a seat, please."

    "Thanks." Mulder said, as he and his partner lowered themselves into the small, uncomfortable seats. Sheriff Sanders sat behind his desk and turned to the two agents before him.

    "Have I got some news for you."

    "Did you find something on Nichols?" Mulder asked. The older man moved his head, still very amused by his findings:

    "Probably more than you bargained for."

    He said that standing up and walking around his desk towards a file rack. He took a file and leafed through it, talking to the two agents at the same time:

    "David Timothy Nichols. I entered the name to the NCIC database and nothing. Absolutely clean."

    He looked at the two agents to see their faces going long with disappointment. So he continued:

    "At first, I had the same look on my face too, but I didn't give up. I entered his photo, which I took from the existing file, into the database and, bingo."

    The sheriff went back to his desk, and sat on the chair behind it and started reading from the file in his hand.

    "Patrick S. Simons. Age: 28 as opposed to 26. Place of birth: Wyoming as opposed to North Carolina. Occupation: Engineer as opposed to..."

    Sheriff Sanders looked up from the file in his hand and gave them a quirky smile:

    "Well, at least he kept his occupation."

    Mulder asked, cutting to the point:

    "Does he have a criminal record?"

    "No he doesn't. But there is something more interesting than that in here. The victim, Tina Nichols, was not the first wife."

    The sheriff said his last words as if he were an actor on stage. He almost seemed like he expected them to applaud on cue. Not even noticing his little play, Scully mused:

    "He was married before?"

    "Yes. Twice. The very first wife was a Josephine Howard. They married 1993. She was eighteen and he twenty-one. Seven months later, she was driving drunk and hit a tree and died before she could reach the hospital. The husband was at a business meeting on the other part of the town, with 12 other people on the same table as his."

    Sheriff Sanders waited for their reaction, at the same time as they were waiting for him to continue, so he did:

    "A year later, he got married to a nineteen year old Patricia Gordon. Nine months later, they went on an exotic holiday and she drowned swimming in the sea. She went far too deep into the water and wasn't a competent swimmer."

    Mulder asked the sheriff, already expecting the answer:

    "And her husband was?"

    "In the hotel gym, with twenty other people around him."

    The sheriff completed the unfinished sentence. Mulder shook his head, as if not believing:

    "Very convenient. Too convenient."

    Scully turned to her partner and said:

    "She could have been drugged before going swimming." Sheriff Sanders interrupted:

    "A toxicological was performed to see if she was drunk, and no, she was squeaky clean. But it revealed that she had leukemia in its early stages. She was dying anyway. At least it was a quick death."

    Scully turned her head to the sheriff and Mulder interrupted, not wanting the Sheriff to rant about the illness:

    "What about Tina's autopsy? Did it reveal anything?"

    "It's scheduled at 2:00 PM this afternoon."

    Scully asked:

    "Those victims, were they rich? Did he benefit from their deaths?"

    "I thought about that and no. Nothing. He didn't get a dime. But that doesn't stop me from believing he's involved one way or the other. I mean, how unlucky can a man get?"

    Mulder said:

    "Or, how lucky can a man get, in this case." Sheriff Sanders smiled at him in acknowledgement.

    As the two agents were preparing to leave, sheriff Sanders stood up and addressed Scully:

    "Agent Scully, if I may?"

    Scully turned on her tracks and met the sheriff's eyes:


    The man appeared to be weighting his words:

    "I strongly advise you to, umm, leave this case to agent Mulder and myself to resolve. I think this man is a lot more dangerous than we originally thought."

    Scully felt her face burn with anger, but tried not to show it. She breathed twice and managed to reply very calmly:

    "Thank you for your concern, sheriff, but I think I can handle it."

    Sheriff Sanders looked at Mulder, suggesting that he supports his suggestion, but Mulder shook his head at him, as if saying this isn't gonna work, and I'm warning you, don't cross your line here. Sanders raised his shoulders giving up.

    On the way to the car, Mulder looked at Scully and asked her:

    "Scully, you want me to take you to the motel?"

    She looked up at him questioningly:

    "What for?"

    "You heard the guy."

    He said, throwing his head towards the PD. Scully rolled her eyes at him:

    "The guy is loosing it, Mulder."

    "Or, you may wanna hire your very personal Enigmatic Dr. Scully bodyguard."

    "Then you must be loosing it, Mulder."

    Mulder laughed softly to himself as he unlocked the car door, got into it with his partner and took off.

    Thursday, 12:05pm.

    Scully was sitting, watching her partner as he came back with their orders. She tried to remember when was the last time they had a proper meal at the proper time in the middle of an investigation, but couldn't. Actually, they never did. But this time, Mulder insisted because he wasn't about to take chances, not with his partner's well being.

    He sat down and pushed her plate towards her side:

    "They don't have barbecue sauce."

    Mulder didn't see Scully twist her lips for having to forego her favorite sauce, and he asked her:

    "So, Scully. You have a theory yet?"


    Scully nodded as she swallowed the bite she took from her steak and then replied:

    "At least for the first two victims."

    "What about them?"

    Mulder said the words, lifting his own fork to his mouth.

    "As for the first victim, the husband may have paid the bartender to double, or triple her drinks up. Or even spike them for that matter. It was his first incident and he knew no one would think of a reason for an autopsy."

    "Go on."

    "As for the second victim, he could have hired a hit man, maybe a scuba diver to allure her far into the sea and then pull her under the water."

    "Come on, Scully. That's very farfetched."

    Scully lifted her head up, looked at him surprised, her smile slowly spreading on her face in amazement:

    "Listen to that coming out of YOUR mouth."

    Mulder lowered his head and smiled sheepishly. And then he prompted her to continue:

    "Now what about the third victim?"

    Scully drew a big breath, dropping her hand to her lap:

    "I don't know, Mulder. For a while there I thought maybe he asked one of his friends to give her a message, like he's leaving her or having an affair or something. But again, she wasn't the suicidal type. She had other things in her life to look forward to. It's not like she had centered her life entirely around her husband. Although she did love him, she was too intelligent to kill herself over him."

    "Yeah, you're right. But it still doesn't explain everything."

    Breathing out in sorrow, she agreed:

    "I know."

    Mulder took his turn and asked her in a theatrical voice:

    "I have a theory. Do you wanna hear it?"

    She smiled at him from across the table.

    "Do I dare?"

    Mulder waited for her to prepare herself before he dropped his bomb:

    "I think he hypnotized them."

    Scully was waiting for his usual little green men story, and was almost prepared for it. But this blew her away. She crossed her eyebrows:

    "What? Mulder, you really believe in that kind of thing?"

    "Scully, I believe in aliens, remember?"

    She appeared to be genuinely opposed the thought:

    "But hypnosis is a hoax invented to make extras meow and quack on national TV."

    Mulder shook his head:

    "Not that kind of hypnosis. I mean, I don't believe in that either. I'm talking about the real thing. Scully, we both saw something similar before."

    Scully knew exactly what he was talking about:

    "Robert Modell was different. He had a brain tumor that allowed him to do this stupid pushing thing."

    Mulder didn't give away, he was prepared for all possibilities:

    "What makes you think that David doesn't have the tumor himself?"

    Scully dismissed the idea:

    "He's been killing his wives for 7 years now. He wouldn't have survived that long if he'd had brain tumor."

    "Then maybe he's got something else. An ability to genuinely hypnotize others to do what he wants them to do. He could have hypnotized them into making those accidents. Like setting an alarm to go off on a certain time."

    Scully looked away and shook her head, thinking.

    "Mulder, I know you and I both underwent hypnosis, and that you believe it worked, but how do you know for sure that it did? How do you know that the memories are true?"

    "And how do you explain the third victim? Every possible entry was locked and chained from the inside, her fingerprints were on the razor and no one else was home. For God's sakes Scully, you heard the sheriff."

    Scully wasn't convinced by his theory:

    "He killed her all right, I'm with you on that, but not the way you think."

    Mulder and Scully left the diner and went to the car. They entered, and then just sat in the car, thinking about what actually happened in this case. Scully broke the silence, asking her partner for some more insight into this matter:

    "So what do you think is the motive, Mulder?"

    "Since when a serial killer needed a motive? Maybe he did it for the hell of it."

    "No. I think there must be a motive and a strong one too. A serial killer doesn't have to marry the victim before killing her. It exposes him and puts him in the center of prosecution."

    Mulder thought for a second, before replying to his partner:

    "You're probably right, Scully. Marriage had a great significance for him to risk being exposed."

    They sat sharing only silence between them for a few more minutes. And then Scully turned her head towards her partner and said:

    "You know, Mulder, Sheriff Sanders did say that David didn't benefit financially at all from the victims' deaths but I don't buy that. There must have been something that no one knew of."

    Scully saw her partner's face turn towards her:

    "A secret death insurance?"

    "Yeah. That's probably it."

    As he turned the car on and started to take off, he asked Scully:

    "Scully, would you call Sheriff Sanders and ask him to contact insurance companies around the time of each marriage and / or death."

    David Nichols residence'.
    Thursday, 2:25pm.

    Mulder and Scully knocked on the door twice before David Nichols opened it for them. His face immediately frowned to see them.

    "It's you again."

    Mulder started to speak:

    "Sorry to bother you again sir, but we need you to answer a few ques..."

    The angry man didn't wait for Mulder to finish his sentence, he quickly tried to slam the door shut to the two agents' faces, but Mulder held it open with his hand:

    "Sir, you can answer them here or you can answer them at the police station. It's your choice."

    David thought for a few seconds, weighing his options. He then breathed out heavily and opened the door for them apologizing.

    "I'm sorry. Please come in."

    He held the door open for them to come in, and then led the way to the living room, saying:

    "I sincerely apologize to you. I don't know what happened to me. I..."

    Mulder interrupted him. He'd had enough of his crap:

    "Yes, we understand. Are Mr. and Mrs. Campbell here?"

    "No. They checked into a hotel last night. My mother in law couldn't spend the night in this house."

    It was Scully's turn to fire away her own questions:

    "Did they know that Tina wasn't your first wife?"

    Nichols raised his head and looked at her, loosing the sad look he was wearing just two seconds ago and wearing a new look of a deer caught in the headlights. He was thinking fast and desperately. He then replied with calmness that amazed the two listeners:

    "No. They didn't. Nor did Tina."

    Scully felt her blood pressure rise at his absurdity. She shot him a look, asking him:

    "Can you explain to us why you lied to your late wife about your true identity and your past status?"

    David threw his head to one side, asking:

    "Does it need explanation? I fall in love with someone and I marry her. A few months later she's involved in a freaking car accident and dies, and I go through hell. I'm just about over it when I fall in love again with Patti and remarry. On our first-date anniversary I take her to the Caribbean only to bring her back in a casket. How do you think that made me feel? Like a freaking Munster, I tell you. So of course I wanted to forget everything that held me to my past. I changed my name and moved from my hometown, started a new life and never wanted to go back. And then I met Tina and we fell for each other instantly. And of course, I didn't tell her about my past, otherwise she wouldn't have accepted me."

    Scully was the one to ask:

    "So you lied to her."


    David said defensively, waving his hand:

    "I didn't lie to her, nor to anyone else. I introduced myself to her as David Nichols, and that's the truth. That's who I am."

    Mulder then shot his question:

    "Why did you insure their lives?"

    Although the impression on Nichols face didn't waver, his absolutely still face took a deeper shade of red.

    "Now, please, don't get the wrong idea. Listen to what I have to say."

    "Go on."

    "Not just their lives, but mine as well. When I first got married, Jo suggested that we both insure our lives for each other's benefit. I was surprised a little but did it anyway. When she died suddenly, I knew that she was right to suggest that. I got a lump sum of money that helped to make her the funeral she disserved. The rest of it I gave to charity. I didn't get a penny to myself."

    Mulder asked again, this time cornering him even tighter:

    "Did her parents know of the insurance?"

    Steve thought for a split second before he answered:

    "Yes, they did. And it didn't bother them at all."

    Scully stepped in the questioning:

    "What about Patricia Gordon, did her parents know about the life insurance?"

    Nichols shook his head:

    "I don't know."

    "Did she know you were married previously?"

    Nichols seemed to be weighing his answers before replying:

    "Yes, she did. But she asked me not to mention it to her family and friends. She was too sensitive to the fact that I was married to someone else before her. And after she died, I decided to start a new life and stop the curse. But then I met Tina, and thought I owe it to myself and to Tina to give it another try and get married."

    Mulder took the lead of the questioning:

    "Did you buy insurance on her life as well?"

    "She asked me to do it when she knew I had insurance on my own life."

    Mulder raised his eyebrows in a question gesture and asked:

    "Do her parents know?"

    "No they don't. It's insignificant anyway."

    Mulder nodded his head for a second, before he agreed with Nichols:

    "Yeah, you're right. It is insignificant. Insurance companies don't pay anything in a suicide case."

    Nichols mouth was faster than his brain:

    "This one does. I checked."

    Mulder smiled slowly in victory, as he took one step closer to the younger man in front of him:

    "You checked?"

    Nichols started to squirm in his seat, sweating madly.

    "They, umm, it was written in the small print, and I always read everything before I sign."

    Mulder smiled as the man got deeper in this hole he got himself into:

    "Did you sign the forms instead of her?"

    "No. Just read them because she wouldn't and I wanted to make sure she was, umm,,,"


    The two stared at each other, each challenging the other to win the conversation, but Mulder's cellular phone interrupted, and he had to turn his back to answer it. David Nichols turned to Scully, wanting to clear his slate to her:

    "Umm, agent..."

    Scully helped him out:

    "Agent Scully."

    "Agent Scully, listen to me. I'm not stupid, I can see exactly where this questioning is headed and that you suspect I have something to do with what happened. And to be honest with you, I can see why. You think I would kill for money, but no. You can't be more wrong."

    He waited for her to reply, but she didn't say anything. She just gave him an ice-cold look. So he continued:

    "Please don't get this the wrong way. I'm put in the most difficult, awkward situation one can imagine. I mean, most of the people don't have to go through losing a beloved spouse. I had to go through that three times in less than 7 years. And now I'm facing going to prison for that matter? I can't believe this."

    Scully tried coldly to reassure him:

    "Mr. Nichols, if you did nothing, you won't go to prison. You have nothing to fear."

    He smiled, and then extended a hand to her, saying:

    "Thank you very much for reassuring me."

    As they shook hands, Nichols' smile gradually faded as he gazed at her face:

    "Oh, I think you are bleeding."

    Scully quickly covered her nose with one hand, fumbling with the other in her pockets for a tissue, saying:

    "Oh, it's nothing. I, I'm ok."

    "Here you go." Nichols said, passing a tissue box to her.

    "May I use your wash room?"

    "This way."

    Scully went to the washroom, pressing a finger on her bleeding nostril. She started washing up, but the bleeding wouldn't stop this time and she started shaking and trembling against the basin, as she found it difficult to stand unsupported. A moment later, Mulder's voice reached her, muffled through the door:

    "Scully, you ok?"

    It took her all her energy and strength and courage to admit that she needed him right now to help her:

    "Mulder could you come in here, please?"

    She heard the door open and in two large steps, Mulder was at her side.

    On their way out, he addressed David Nichols:

    "We are leaving now. We ask that you don't leave the city until this matter is resolved."

    Mulder was driving silently as Scully slept all the way to their motel. He stopped at a red light and took a long look at her. Her neck was craned in an awkward position, so he adjusted her a little very gently.

    He could hear her shallow breaths through her mouth, her red hair surrounding her face, which was now so pale and fragile, her huge eyes now closed and tired and the few drops of blood staining her blouse and a tissue in her hand. He came to by the horns that were sent from the cars behind him, announcing that the light had turned green, and he continued his drive to the motel.

    As they arrived, he gently woke her up:



    "Scully, let's get you to your room."

    She fluttered her eyes a little before she opened them slightly.

    "How are you feeling now?"

    "I don't know. Better, I think."

    Not really believing that, he took a deep breath, opened his door.

    "Let's get you to your room."

    As he helped her to get in bed, he noticed she was still shaking a little. He shook his head, and asked her sternly:

    "Scully, you are sure you don't wanna see your doctor?"

    She opened her eyes and said:

    "Mulder I think we agreed on something here."

    Mulder just couldn't contain his anger towards her anymore and snapped:

    "Well then you either get help or you get the hell out of my life."

    Scully didn't expect this reply, but wasn't totally surprised by it, either. And she certainly wasn't ready to agree with him over something that was her decision and her's only just because he raised his voice a little over her. She was about to say something when he continued:

    "Scully, I can't do this anymore, watch you kill yourself. You can't even open your eyes and yet you refuse that I take you to the hospital."

    Scully, still in her bed, head resting on the pillow said with a weak voice:

    "Mulder you believe in E.B.Es. In UFOs. In a lot of things I consider crazy. Some times I think you ARE crazy, but I accept you as you are. I've never made you choose because I respect your decision to believe. So it's only fair that I ask that you respect my decision and not make me choose. It may not be the decision you want."

    She swallowed hard, as he stood there feeling defeated. Then he turned around and left the room saying:

    "I'll check on you later."

    Thursday, 06:30pm.

    Scully woke up feeling a little better than she did in the afternoon. She brushed her teeth and then changed her clothes, the ones stained with her blood. Scully then went to Mulder's room to see if there was anything new on the case. She knocked on the adjoining door between the two rooms and opened it without waiting for an answer. She found Mulder lying on the bed and watching TV:

    "Come on in, sleepy head."

    Scully smiled. Mulder never stopped surprising her. Sometimes she thought he's the boy that never grew up.

    The one entrapped in childhood.

    He brought her back from her thoughts by invited her in with a gesture of his hand:

    "We are playing against Chicago Bulls. 2:0, and wee-e are loosing."

    "Sniff, sniff."

    He smiled to her and muted the TV saying:

    "I checked on you a while ago. You seemed better."

    "Yeah, I feel better. Anything new?"

    "Sheriff Sanders called. The autopsy revealed a lot of needle punctures on the top of each thigh. Both old and new."

    Scully raised her eyebrows:

    "Insulin injections?"

    Mulder nodded his head in agreement:

    "Yes. Tina was diabetic. I checked with her parents and medical records."

    "What about the tox screen?"

    "Clean. But you'll be interested to know that, while you were sleeping, I made some phone calls. Remember David said that his first victim's family knew about the life insurance? Well, they didn't. And she wasn't a big drinker either. She hardly drank at all. She was young, but apparently very responsible. She'd never drink and drive."

    Scully said, as if speaking to herself.

    "I wonder what else he lied about." Mulder said, smiling sarcastically:

    "You mean apart from killing his wives and not admitting as much?"

    Scully raised her head to her partner, and asked:

    "Yeah, but how, Mulder? How did he do it?"

    "I still subscribe to my theory about hypnosis that I told you about earlier, but I can never prove it."

    Scully thought for a second before giving him the idea:


    "You know it's not a definitive proof."

    "I think right now we don't have any other choice."

    Scully said that and left Mulder's room to hers. She was still a little tired and ready to go to bed again. As she entered her bed her phone rang, and before she could say anything, the caller spoke to her:

    "Agent Scully?"


    "It's David Nichols. I have to speak with you."

    She lifted herself up and supported her weight on one elbow:

    "What? What happened?"

    He was speaking in a slow, hypnotic voice:

    "I would like to talk with you. I feel so afraid. Everybody seems to suspect me. They seem to misunderstand me."

    She breathed out, twisting her lips in bother. But she felt she couldn't just hang up on him, so she tired to politely talk back:

    "Mr. Nichols, as I said before, if you haven't done anything you shouldn't..."

    "I can't help it. I'm so scared. Terrified. Just like you."

    She frowned, and tried to dismiss his prank phone call:

    "What? Listen Mr. Nich..."

    "I'm afraid of this illness that's invading my body and eating me alive. I'm afraid of the same premature ending, just as you are. Agent Scully, we share the same fear and consequences. Our lives are entwined in an unimaginable way. Our lives, our future, our destinies have become one."

    Scully didn't utter a word; she was entranced as he continued:

    "I can feel your shaking hands, your trembling lips, and your fast breathing on my skin. Dana, come to me. We belong together. It's just natural for us to be together. I want you to hang up the phone now, and come to me. But Dana, Agent Mulder doesn't need to know."

    Still not a word from Scully, as she listened to him hypnotizing her. Nichols was a little worried that she wasn't responding to him, so he asked:

    "Agent Scully, what color is your underwear?"

    Not even hesitating, she replied:


    If Scully were any bit conscious, she would have felt his malicious smile coming to her through the phone line.

    "See you soon, then."

    Scully hung up the phone receiver and started moving on autopilot. She got out of bed, eyes gazing the air, to look for the car keys, which were with Mulder. She entered Mulder's room without knocking on the door as he was on his bed, still studying the file. He looked up to her.

    "Scully? I thought you were asleep."

    She appeared as if she hadn't heard him. She started to look for the keys on the desk and inside the drawers.

    "Are you looking for something?"

    No answer.


    She then searched his jeans that were thrown on the bed, looked inside the pockets and found the keys. She took them and went straight out of the room to the motel's hallway, with Mulder watching her in amazement.

    "Scully, are you going some where?"

    By this time, he was already worried about her. He jumped out of bed, followed her to the hallway and grabbed her arm to make her stop and listen to him.

    "Scully, where are you going in your pajamas?"

    She turned to face him, her eyes completely expressionless. Mulder was starting to get really worked up and asked her sharply:

    "What is the matter with you? Have you taken a pill or something? Talk to me, damn it."

    "I have to go."


    "You don't need to know."

    An idea came to Mulder as he was trying to figure what happened to his partner:

    "Who called you? I heard the phone ring. Did he call you? Did David call you?"


    "Scully I heard the phone ring. Who was on the phone?"

    Scully appeared to be coming to, but also seemed very disoriented.

    "Mulder, where? What happened?"

    Mulder felt some relief to know that at least she came back to her senses, but not completely relieved.

    "Come on. Get inside. Sit down."

    He unplugged the phone and was coming to sit beside her on his bed when she asked him:

    "What the hell happened, Mulder? Why was I in the hallway in my pajamas?"

    "Scully, listen to me. I need you to remember who called you after you left my room."

    "David Nichols called me. I remember that clearly," Scully answered.

    "Good. Do you remember what he said to you?"

    "He said that he was afraid of something."

    A moment after she'd said that, her eyes widened in worry as she remembered the details of the call.

    "Mulder, he knew I had cancer."

    "He knew? How?"

    "I don't know and he can't have guessed it from that stupid nosebleed."

    "Maybe you told him on the phone and didn't realize it."

    "No, Mulder. I clearly remember him surprising me with this."

    Mulder then addressed a question that both he and Scully were afraid to ask:

    "What did he want from you, Scully? Why did he call you?"

    "I don't know, but he couldn't have wanted to kill me. He can't be that obvious."

    "Most likely he wanted to convince you of his innocence."

    Scully shook her head:

    "But why not convince me when I was already there this morning."

    "He wanted to get you away from me. To hypnotize you."

    "Why not hypnotize both of us? Instead, he admitted his involvement with the previous marriages."

    "Because he can't hypnotize me. He only can hypnotize people how are diagnosed with something. An illness."

    Scully shook her head, not understanding:

    "I'm sorry, I don't follow."

    "I believe that's what triggered your nosebleeds once again after all those years. The force of his ability or sense caused you to bleed again, even before he met you, just being in his house..."

    Scully cut him off:

    "You think he was able to bring back the cancer?"

    "No. I believe he only triggered the symptoms back. I think an appointment with your doctor will assure you that those bleeds meant nothing. Just a reaction to such a strong force around you. A force that could consume you. Your conscience."

    Scully looked up to him as he continued:

    "Patricia's tox-screen revealed that she had leukemia. Tina was diabetic. And now you. I know there is this first wife, but an autopsy wasn't performed anyway. I'll ask her family about her health tomorrow, and I'm sure they would confirm my suspicions that she was diagnosed with something."

    Scully didn't believe. Or probably, didn't want to:

    "Mulder, you are building this whole thing up. I mean, how did he know I had cancer in the first place for him to try and hypnotize me based on it?"

    "Maybe he just knew. Maybe the ability to see people's disease came with the ability to hypnotize those people."

    Scully lowered her head and said quietly:

    "Suppose what you're saying is true. How can we prove it? I mean we can't let him on the loose killing wives and claiming insurance money."

    "I don't know, Scully. But I'll work something out. Meanwhile, I think it's better to warn Mr. and Mrs. Campbell before he tries something funny with them."

    Coffee shop.
    Thursday, 09:15pm.

    Mr. Campbell entered the coffee shop, where he was to meet with agents Mulder and Scully. When he spotted them sitting at a far table, he greeted them with a nod of his head and walked his was towards them. As he sat at the table, Mulder started the conversation.

    "Thank you for coming sir."

    "You said you have something new on my daughter's case?"

    Mulder tried to be as gentle as he could in breaking the news to the older man:

    "Sir, did you know that Mr. Nichols was twice widowed before he was married to your daughter?"

    The older man stared straight into Mulder's eye, not understanding a word he's saying. He then asked, feeling his tongue heavy and dry in his mouth.

    "What do you mean?"

    "Your son-in-law's real name is Patrick S. Simon. He first got married to an 18-year-old waitress from his hometown in Wyoming, not North Carolina. A few months after their wedding, she hit a tree with her car, while driving drunk, and died instantly. He cashed in her life insurance money without her parents' knowledge. A year later, he got married to a 19-year-old. A few months later she drowned and he, again, cashed in her life insurance. And I also found out that he took a life insurance on your daughter's life. The beneficiary is Mr. Nichols."

    It took the mourning man a few seconds to gather his thoughts:

    "But David spent that night with us in LA. And I spoke to Tina myself; she was still alive by then."

    "Yes, sir, I know. He was also very conveniently situated around the times of his first two victims' accidents. He was always around people to testify for an alibi. Sir, I think he simply hypnotizes his victims. He places the order inside the brain and at a certain time, the victim just acts as told."

    The other man lowers his eyes, and then shakes his head:

    "I'm sorry, Agent Mulder. This is beyond my comprehension."

    Mulder leaned across the table towards Mr. Campbell:

    "Sir, he picks up his victims with an eye on their health problems. Tina was diabetic, and I found out his first wife was asthmatic, and his second wife had leukemia. He knew those things and used them as weak spots to enter his victims' minds and control them from the inside."

    "Do you have proof of what you are saying?"

    Mulder's disappointment was obvious, as he shook his head to deny that. And he continued:

    "I can bring you the marriage certificates from his previous marriages, but that'll be it."

    Scully, who was silent through this conversation, interrupted them:

    "I, I think I have proof, sir."

    "You have a proof?"

    Scully took a deep breath, as it was very difficult to share her private information with a stranger:

    "Earlier tonight, Mr. Nichols called me by phone into my motel room. The last thing I remember was hearing his voice. The next thing I know, I'm in the motel hallway, in my pajamas, fighting my partner to go to Nichols. I have absolutely no recollection of the 20 minutes in between."

    The man's voice showed his surprise:

    "You mean he hypnotized you too? This happened to you? Personally?"

    "Yes. And I assure you, sir, I'm not speculating or guessing. It happened to me a few hours ago."

    Mr. Campbell didn't really understand.

    "But agent Mulder said that he only chose victims with... you are not..."

    "Yes, I am."

    With this, Scully ended the conversation from her side by looking through the window on her left. Mulder continued:

    "Sir, we called you in here because we want you to avoid your son-in-law. Do not come into contact him under any circumstances. Who knows what's his next move will be. Especially that he knows we suspect him."

    "If you are so sure, why not arrest him?"

    Mulder wetted his lips as he reminded the man:

    "As I said, Sir. We have no solid proof."

    The older man frowned as he spoke:

    "But what about other people? What about other girls? What about my girl who lost her life? What can you do about that?"

    "I'm afraid we can't do anything unless we have hard evidence of his involvement."

    "You must have something. His previous marriage documents, the victims' medical files,,,"

    "I'm afraid that doesn't prove that he killed any of them."

    "So, are you going to leave him walking like a free man?"

    "Even if we arrested him, the court will clear him in no time at all for the lack of evidence."

    Mulder felt sad for the heartbroken father:

    "But we'll try our very best to find something on him that convicts him."

    "I understand. Thank you for explaining this to me. I have to go now. Excuse me."

    Mulder and Scully watched as he left the coffee shop with 20 years added to his shoulders.

    Thursday, 10:42pm.

    Scully was getting her pajamas back on when she heard Mulder's cellular phone ring. Five minutes later, she heard her partner knock on her door.


    "Come in."

    He came into her room, sat on the bed and breathed out. Scully asked:

    "Who was on the phone?" p Sheriff is was dead.? Nichols David Sanders.>"Dead? How?"

    "Gunshot wound to the heart."

    "Tina's father?"

    Mulder nodded his head, confirming her thoughts.

    "He called Nichols to his Hotel room, and as he entered, he shot him dead."

    Police station.
    Friday, 09:15am.

    Tina's father greeted Mulder through the iron bars.

    "Agent Mulder, thank you for coming."

    Sitting down, Mulder asked:

    "Mr. Campbell, why did you do it?"

    The older man smiled a tight smile, and said:

    "It was for myself and for my daughter. And for the two others girls who lost their lives to that bastard. And for whomever would have married him and lost her life to him."

    Mulder nodded his head for a second, then lifted it to the man behind bars.

    "What about you?"

    "Oh, don't worry about me. After I shot him, I drank a whole bottle of something strong. I was drunk when I did it. Nothing more than 7 years, and I know a good lawyer who can knock half of it off."

    Mulder looked sad and sorry, so the older man shook his head:

    "You think I'm sad, or that I'm regretting it? I had to do something, agent Mulder. I just had to."

    Scully was waiting for Mulder in the car. He came back to her, closed the door and started driving to the airport. A while later, Mulder started the conversation:

    "He did it because he didn't want David to continue with his kill spree. Didn't want other girls to be harmed, to fall for him and loose their lives for the sake of love and marriage."

    Scully threw her head to one side and looked through her window to the trees passing away doing 50 mph. Mulder glanced at her, smiling bitterly:

    "Strange, huh? You fall in love with someone and he can be your angel of death."

    "Or mercy."

    Mulder looked at her and she kept looking at the road in front of them.

    "Mulder, can I ask you something?"


    Completely ignoring his answer, she asked anyway:

    "How come you are 39 and yet never married?"

    He moved his shoulders, then glanced at her through his awareness to the road.

    "You're not married either."

    Scully smirked at him.

    "Come on."

    He thought a little, then replied to her:

    "Well, I'm almost married to you, aren't I?"

    "What? No, seriously."

    "Seriously. You are the first person I see every morning. I spend 10-12 hours a day with you. We eat lunch and sometimes even dinner together. And sometimes I take you on weekends away, now don't I?"

    Mulder smiled wickedly and looked at her to see that she wasn't amused at all. So he continued:

    "And just like a typical wife, you don't laugh at my jokes."

    "Cause they are bad jokes, Mulder. Bad jokes."

    Nevertheless, if he had looked at her in that precise moment, he would have caught her smiling secretly over his very bad joke. They drove along silently for a while before she turned her head towards him and said:

    "Come to think of it, Mulder, I'll never, ever marry you. Even if you were the last man on the face of the earth."

    Mulder was concentrating on the road in front of him as he said:

    "That's extreme."

    "Because I value your friendship too much to jeopardize it for anything else. It means a lot to me."

    Mulder looked at her intently and smiled, as did she. Then she reminded him of something:

    "And you aren't the last man on earth after all, now are you?"

    He chuckled as he replied: "No. I guess I'm not."