Title: Nightside (2/3)
Author: Lynn Gregg

Information and disclaimers in part one.

"How?" She demanded, in a tone of voice so fierce it brought me up short.
Turning I found myself skewered by the twin icy lasers of her eyes like a prize
butterfly specimen pinned to a collector's card. "How does this change
*anything*? Are you implying that my previous involvement in a similar case will
impact my performance on this one?"

"Um, no," I stammered, feeling like I'd just merrily skipped barefoot into a nest
of fire ants. Already I was starting to burn. "But I would caution you against
letting the events of that previous case color your perceptions of this one."

"Which amounts to essentially the same thing, and which goes a long way
towards explaining why Skinner saw fit to pull *you* in on this case." Her voice
dripped poison. I was reminded of one of those wildlife shows on cable, with the
lingering slow-motion shots of the spitting cobras, venom oozing from fangs an
inch long, poised to strike. "Poor Scully, she's been though so much already, and
now her partner's been kidnaped by *another* homicidal necrophiliac. Let's bring
in a nice sympathetic female agent--with a *psychology* degree--to keep her from
going off the deep end."

What the fuck was *this* tirade all about? In my rising anger, I forgot to be
awed by the magnificence of her rage. I struck back.

"Gee, I wasn't informed there was a pity party going on today; I'd have
dressed a little nicer. I thought *Mulder* was supposed to be the paranoid one
down here, not you."

Her hair and her face were now strikingly similar in hue.

"Your job," she said, biting off each word and spitting it at me, "is to assist me
in solving this case, bringing the criminal to justice and bringing Agent Mulder
back to me alive and in one piece. The state of my mental health is not your
concern. If you feel the need to analyze something, why not start with a profile of
the kind of sick son-of-a-bitch who would kidnap and torture my partner?"

So much for our easy rapport. I stood there staring, flash-frozen by her liquid
nitrogen voice. It took me several minutes just to thaw out my tongue enough to

"The notes," I said, tonelessly. "Were they mailed or hand-delivered?"

"Hand delivered. The first to my home, the second left on my car. No prints
have been found, of course."

"Of course. Local, then--barring the possibility that our UNSUB is
communicating from a distance via a local accomplice, which in this kind of case is
highly unlikely. I'm going back to my office to start making inquiries of hospitals,
morgues, and funeral homes; our best bet at this point is to start targeting possible
suspects, and my hunch is that we'll find our ghoul among the ranks of former
employees of one of those institutions. Rather," I added nastily, "like your old
friend Mr Pfaster there."

She was seated now, head tilted down ever-so-slightly, turning something over
and over in her hands. The only other visible sign of discomfiture was the
tightness and whiteness of her lips. "You're welcome to make your calls from this
office," she offered, quietly. I was still too deeply stung by her earlier attack to
even consider it; all I wanted then was out.

"Thank you, but I think it best if I go." Fumbling out one of my business cards,
I placed it squarely in the middle of the desk blotter. "Here is where I can be
reached should you turn up anything. If not, I will report back to you in the
morning with my findings."

I shut my mouth and waited.

"Agent MacInnes, I--" She broke off abruptly. After an uncomfortable pause, I
asked gently,

"Is there anything else, Agent Scully?"

She sighed. "No. You're dismissed."

"Thank you."

I closed the door carefully behind me, leaving her staring moodily down at the
object in her hands--a photo, of herself and Spooky Mulder.


By the time I'd called every damned possible place in DC and its environs,
untold hours later, I had a short list of potential suspects.

There are more death-freaks out there than you might imagine, and only rarely
do they fit the Addams Family stereotype of the gothed-out weirdo dressed all in
black and sleeping in a coffin. Most of them look relatively average; you wouldn't
spot one on the street and immediately think, "Oh, there's somebody who digs
fucking corpses!" They have to maintain a certain aura of normalcy in order to
gain access to that which they crave. Bopping into your local funeral parlor
decked out in a shroud and singing "I Love the Dead" is not the best way to
ensure employment in these discreet occupations.

I'd dismissed three candidates, all of them male, whose tastes ran strictly to
female cadavers. That left me with four more possibles: two males, two females.
The males' MOs were strikingly similar in that both displayed a remarkable lack of
discrimination. Put another way, they'd both go for anything that *didn't* move,
be it male or female, age and appearance of no concern. The two females on my
list reserved their affections for dead men exclusively. All four of them had
recently been let go from their jobs, having been caught in the act as it were. I got
background checks in process on all of them and went home to do a little on-line

There are more death-freaks in the world than you might imagine; and plenty of
them have internet access. I didn't think I'd be so lucky as to find my quarry out
there hosting a website about the ritual murder and subsequent molestation of FBI
agents, but I figured it couldn't hurt to do a little surfing to help me get a bit of
insight into the minds of these characters.

Be careful what you ask for.

I got some insight, all right, *way* more than I'd really wanted. I read
interviews and glowing first-person monologues. I learned the mechanics of
achieving sexual bliss with a formerly-living partner. I even--oh, and this is what
made me turn off the computer and hustle outside for a gulp or six of fresh air--
found a death-porn site.

It was while I was outside, all but hyperventilating and fighting a stomach that
had suddenly taken up acrobatics, that my phone rang. When I answered it, I
heard on the other end the low tones of my new SAC.

"Agent Scully," I acknowledged coolly, moving to pour myself a glass of

"Agent MacInnes. I, um, was calling to see if you'd come across anything in
your investigations this afternoon."

"I've got a handful of possible leads. I'm just waiting to get the results of the
background checks."

"Good. Would you care to meet and go over your findings?"

"What, you mean tonight?"

"If this is a bad time--"

"No, no, of course not." I could just see the olive branch she was extending;
I'd have felt like a complete asshole if I'd refused to take it. And besides, I really
wanted something to distract my mind from those grisly photos; even another
bitch-fight would be an improvement. "Did you want to come over here?"

I gave her the directions and rung off, taking the idea of pulling a work-related
all-nighter philosophically. What the Hell--it wasn't like I'd had any hopes of
getting any sleep that night.


By the time she arrived I already had the background info on my possibles in
hand. We'd spent perhaps an hour going over the printouts before she put down
her handful of papers and removed her glasses, rubbing fretfully at her eyes.

"MacInnes, I feel I should apologize for this afternoon."

"It's all right. I was kind of out of line myself, though I assure you I didn't
mean to second-guess your ability. I know this case must be difficult for you--not
to mention working with someone else, um, other than your partner I mean."

"Difficult. Yes. Yes it is."

She looked a great deal younger and far less formidable in my apartment than
she had at the office. Scrubbed clean of makeup, wearing jeans and what looked
to be a man's New York Knicks t-shirt, she could've been a college girl--although
most college girls don't have deep lines of worry and sorrow etched into their
clear soft faces. Pushing her hair behind her ears, she looked up at me, her mask
of professionalism gone.

"Have you ever been partnered, MacInnes?"

"Not regularly, no. I've worked closely with several other agents, but no one
consistently. Most of the time I drive a desk, consulting with various divisions;
this kind of field work is rare for me."

"You don't know what it's like, then," she said, not unkindly. "The kind of
bond that develops, over time, working so--intimately, with someone. I don't
suppose it could be any other way, when every day, every case, you hold each
others' lives in your hands. It's kind of like being married, in a way, only
magnified ten thousandfold." She paused. "Have you ever--"

"I was married," I stated, cutting off that line of inquiry. "Up until about a year
ago. But I don't think we were ever that close. Ever."

"I'm sorry."

"You and Mulder are close." It wasn't a question.

"I'm closer to him than I am to anyone. After the things we've seen and been
through together..."

God. I couldn't stand it any longer. I couldn't help myself. I simply *had* to
know. "Agent Scully--"

"Call me Dana."

"Dana. Ah, can I ask you something?"

"Sure. Cory." She smiled at me, a little shyly; I smiled a little shyly back and
utterly lost my nerve.

"Why don't we take a break from this for now and go sit on the patio? It's
gorgeous out tonight." At her nod of assent, I got up and led the way, pausing in
the kitchen. "Would you like something to drink? There's Coke, Mountain Dew,
milk, wine--"

"Wine sounds good."

I tapped out two glasses from the box-o-blush in the fridge and ushered her out
onto my postage-stamp-sized patio. Scully seated herself on my little glider and I
perched beside her, twirling my wineglass by the stem.

"So what did you want to ask me?"

Damn. No way out but through it. "If this is too personal, you have my
permission to smack the shit out of me, but...are you and Mulder, um, involved?"

(Continued in part three)