October 7, 1996 - Mulder's Apartment 3:14 a.m.
Mulder jerked awake, not sure of exactly what had disturbed his sleep. Glancing at the television set, he saw a commercial with very attractive women demonstrating how they achieved such great looking thighs with some gadget they squeezed together between their knees. Mulder allowed his mind to wander into fanciful directions for a moment until he realized that the TV wasn't what had awakened him. He sat up and grabbed the gun from beneath his pillow. Cautiously, he moved about the semi-darkened room, seeking anything that looked out of place. While checking to see that the locks were still secure on his front door, he noticed a manila envelope on the floor in front of it. He'd had a visitor.
Poring over the contents of the envelope at his desk, he found a file folder containing the bio of a Canadian police detective and two, seemingly unrelated newspaper articles. The first article was two weeks old and told of the desecration of a woman's grave in Toronto, Canada. The second news story was a week old and described animal mutilations in Montana. What the two cases had in common, Mulder couldn't even hazard a guess. But, obviously, someone felt the two were connected -- along with the Canadian cop -- and that Spooky Mulder was the perfect choice to bring the matter to light. His curiosity instantly piqued, Mulder turned on his computer and began a new investigation.
Toronto - 5 Months Earlier
She had trusted him. It would be the last mistake she would ever make. Her first was ever allowing herself to get involved with him. She had come tonight to declare her love and offer herself to him. She had done so much for him in the six years they had known each other. Besides helping to protect his secret from the rest of the mortal world, she had dedicated her life to finding a cure for his vampirism. Along the way, she had become his conscious, his nursemaid, his shoulder to cry on, and his reason for existing.
Natalie had pleaded with him to try the cure that had worked for Janette, his sister in darkness. All he had to do was make love to her, to take just a few sips of her blood, and he'd be on his way to regaining his mortality. She'd had such faith in his control, in his desire not to hurt her, that she was able to convince him to try. But Nick knew from the very first taste of her love-laced blood, that settling for only a few sips would not be possible. It had been decades since he had last savored human blood direct from the source. He drained her in a matter of moments and only afterwards did he realize the consequences.
"Oh, Nicholas, you have thought this through, haven't you,?" his master's voice broke through the ball of confusion encircling him. LaCroix had come to collect him, to encourage him to leave his life in Toronto behind and start anew elsewhere. If only he'd arrived a few minutes earlier because, no, Nick had not thought any of it through. He simply allowed his emotions to lead him, and now the love of his life was teetering on the verge of death. Now he was faced with the decision to complete the process and bring her across or let her die.
He tried to think clearly, objectively. All he knew for sure was that he didn't want to condemn her to the same kind of existence that he had fought so long and hard against. She had told him if it came down to it, that she was okay with becoming a vampire. But his selfishness had a way of overriding the wishes of others. He thought of his sister Fleur and of Janette, his love for eight centuries. For each of them, he had completely ignored their choices, granting them instead just the opposite of what they had wanted. This occasion would be no different. He would not bring Natalie across as she had asked, a choice of which LaCroix seemed in favor.
But making that decision and living with it was something Nick could not bare. He never had to actually say the words, but LaCroix sensed the devastation his offspring felt. He also knew how irrational he could be at times. When Nick handed him a wooden staff and told him that he was his closest friend, LaCroix instinctively knew what was expected of him. Nick wanted his best friend to put an end to the heartache and pain once and for all.
LaCroix silently accepted the task. There were no final words of farewell as Nick turned away and knelt down next to Natalie's body and held her limp, lifeless hand in his. Seconds later he heard LaCroix curse his name, then felt the searing pain as the narrow end of the staff pierced cleanly through his body. There was little time to scream as he slumped to the floor, his body partially covering Natalie's.
LaCroix broke off the end of the staff he still held, then turned away and tossed it into the fireplace. He closed his eyes in an attempt to suppress his emotions. He wondered how it was that the most cherished of his children could cause him the most unbearable grief. Perhaps this was his punishment for the evil deeds he had cast upon the good and righteous for the past two millennium.
The fact that he possessed super-human hearing was the only reason he picked up the faint whisper of his name. He braced himself for the confrontation, then casually turned back to the crumbled figure at his feet. Using the tip of his shoe, the tall, imposing vampire pushed on Nick's shoulder to flip him onto his side. His child groaned at the pain the movement caused.
"Apparently, my aim was a trifle off," said LaCroix, looking down his keen nose with steel blue eyes and showing no remorse over his lack of accuracy.
"Please," Nick gasped. "Finish it."
"Don't be a fool, Nicholas. I have no intentions of contributing to your demise. You selfish, ungrateful brat! You only appreciate my gift to you when it suits your needs. Otherwise, you claim you want to be mortal again. If there were such a thing as a cure for immortality, you've just allowed your only hope to slip from your hands."
LaCroix took a few steps around to the other side and stood over the still body of Natalie Lambert, her long, thick auburn curls framing her pallid, round face. He shook his head regretfully as he knelt down to caress the silken skin of her cheek. The warmth was already leaving her body.
"You had the chance to make her one of us, but now it's much too late. She wanted to be brought across. She wanted to spend all of eternity with you, where she would have had all the time in the world to continue her quest in seeking a cure. If you had truly loved her, you would have granted her that request. Or perhaps you would have done the noble thing and simply walked away, leaving her alive and her wholesome goodness intact."
Nick wanted to respond, but besides the pain and weakness impeding his ability to speak, he really didn't know what he could possibly say in his defense. LaCroix stood again, still keeping his gaze on Natalie.
"How many times have we visited this little scenario, Nicholas? How many times in the past have you loved an adoring creature such as this and allowed your beast to take her from you? Too numerous to count, I'm sure. Can you recall the times you've attempted to bring one across only to find that her love for you made her blood all the more delectable and irresistible? You can't help but savor that sweet nectar to the very last drop.... And what makes this one any different? No. I stand corrected. This one was different, was she not? She has shown courage, determination and faithfulness. She's been a great ally to the vampire community on several occasions. I would have been quite proud to have her as part of our little family, after all, Nicholas. How unfortunate that a pure act of selfishness on your part has brought an end to such a beautiful flower."
"LaCroix, please!" Nick managed to find his voice and rasped out a sobbing plea. The ache in his heart surpassed that of the stake protruding through his lower right ribcage. His eyes were red with blood tinged tears that streaked down the side of his face.
The elder vampire strolled back over to his child and gave him a pitying look. "Poor, poor Nicholas. You try so hard to be everything but what you are. Surely, you knew I would not take your life, not unless it was my own idea. And you lack the courage to walk into the sun on your own. Just as well for you, for if there is a heaven, there's no way your damnable soul would be allowed to follow your beloved Natalie through those pearly white gates." Nodding towards the stake jutting out of Nick's abdomen, LaCroix added, "That's starting to look rather uncomfortable."
He bent over and not too gently yanked the stake free. Nick howled loudly at the removal, then collapsed into a stupor. LaCroix flipped the blood-covered wood over into the fireplace where it flared up instantly. He then pulled Nick's shirt tails from his pants and used the ends to plug the gaping holes left behind by the staff. Tearing away a small portion of flesh from his own wrist, LaCroix offered an oozing vein to Nick.
The man wanted to resist, wanted to just perish and waste away to nothing, but the beast inside felt starved and endangered. It refused to be denied an opportunity to feed and heal itself. Nick was no match for the beast and gave into it once again. Because his son had recently fed, LaCroix saw no need to allow him little more than a pint. It would be just enough to help begin the healing process. LaCroix preferred that Nick remain incapacitated for a while. There was much to be accomplished before sunrise and he didn't need his impetuous progeny causing complications.
"Enough!" LaCroix pushed Nick away and stood, licking his wound to heal it. "You'll get more later. But now, there's work to be done. I'll have to clean up the mess you've made." Glancing about the room, he took a moment to think. "I suppose an automotive mishap is in order. By the time they discover the body, we shall be long gone."
He grabbed Natalie's coat and began to dress her in it. Nick laid quietly, curled up on his left side and stared despairingly at Natalie, hoping to see her display some sign of life. There was none. All color had left her cheeks, and Nick had listened intently to pick up the sound of her heartbeat. There was nothing left to be heard. "LaCroix," he called softly to his master as the elder vampire gathered up other items, including the detective's coat and Natalie's purse.
"We can talk later, Nicholas," said LaCroix as he continued on with his mission to collect the most obvious of personal belongings of his son and his female friend. He removed the keys, wallet, badge and watch Nick kept in his jewelry case on the sofa table. As he removed the shoes from his son's feet, Nick attempted again to speak to him.
"Not now, Nicholas," LaCroix responded firmly.
"Please, I want to forget!" Nick blurted out. "I want to forget it all."
"Forget a lesson learned, Nicholas?"
"I... I can't live with myself, LaCroix," Nick sobbed. "With what I've done. If I am to go with you, I need to forget."
LaCroix gave the matter some thought. Hypnotizing another vampire into forgetting wasn't an easy task. And it appeared that Nick was asking to forget more than just the past few minutes. He wanted to wipe out the entire past six years he had known Natalie. Vampires were the perfect resisters, backed with total recall. However, there had been a time when Nick had lost his memory, back when he had been shot in the head while on duty. There still remained tremendous gaps in his memory which LaCroix noted whenever they held conversations about their history together.
"I can only think of one possibility, Nicholas, but--"
"Do it!" Nick cried, not caring what it took.
LaCroix walked over to the chair where Nick had draped his holstered gun over the back. It had been a long time since he had handled such a weapon, preferring to use his bare hands to settle disputes and such. He took the gun back over to where Nick lay, and without hesitation, aimed at his head and pulled the trigger. When nothing happened, he stared at the gun curiously. Nick saw the problem and reached his hand out for the weapon. LaCroix handed it over to him and watched as Nick made some quick movements, then gave it back to his master.
"Safety was on," Nick said simply, then turned his head away to look longingly once again at his beloved Natalie. "Forgive me, Nat," were his final words as shots rang out. A fire sprang to life in his brain, then darkness eventually consumed him.
October 7 - FBI Headquarters - 3:40 p.m.
Scully dragged herself into the office, plopped a file folder on top of Mulder's desk, then eased herself wearily onto the chair opposite his. Her partner was standing beside the fax machine with his back to her, thoroughly engrossed in reading something from an opened file folder he was holding. Once the fax he had been waiting for finished printing, Mulder snatched it up and added it to the other documents he carried. Walking back to his desk, he seemed surprised to see his partner present.
"Oh, hey, Scully," he greeted her casually as he took his seat. "When did you sneak in? Boy, you look beat. Rough day?"
"As a matter of fact, I am beat, Mulder. You wanted a complete and thorough autopsy done, you got it."
"So what did you find out?"
"Heart attack. Pure and simple. No drugs, no unexplained irregularities, no funny business. Just your ordinary coronary. Case closed."
"Great. Then you can help me out with this new one," said Mulder with an impish smile. "Someone slipped an envelope under my door early this morning," he stated as he handed her the two newspaper articles to which he had been dedicating his time. "Tell me what you think."
Scully blew out a tired sigh, wondering just where her partner managed to find all the enthusiasm and energy he garnered for each new case he came across. She took her sweet time in reading the articles, knowing how impatient Mulder was getting just waiting for her to finish. As far as the animal mutilations, she was less than enthused. However, when she began reading about the woman's grave being desecrated, a nervous twinge went through her spine.
"Mulder, this woman's grave... you don't think it was--"
"Donnie Pfaster? No. That was the first thing that came to my mind too, but I checked and he's still safely tucked behind bars."
"No, not that either. The article didn't go into much detail, so I called the newspaper and managed to talk to the writer. She told me that due to the lack of space, her story had been edited down a bit. What was left out was the mention that although the body had not been harmed in any way, it had been moved. She said that it looked as though the body had been shoved over to the side some to make room."
"Make room for what?"
"Scully, whoever dug up that grave, did so with his bare hands. And once he got it open, he apparently laid down with the corpse."
Scully frowned at the thought. "A necrophiliac."
"That's sort of what I was thinking until I started digging into the background of the deceased." Mulder handed Scully a fax from the folder. It was a woman's police-issued bio.
"Dr. Natalie Lambert," she began to read snippets of the information aloud. "Coroner with the Toronto Police Department. Died in an automotive accident."
"The car she was in was hers, but the driver was a male friend." Mulder handed her another bio. "This too was in the envelope I received this morning. Detective Nick Knight also with the Toronto Police. I talked to a Captain Reese who was Det. Knight's boss. Apparently, this file on Knight was stolen from the police records room and his computer files have been mysteriously deleted from their system. No one knows exactly how or when."
Scully studied the black and white photo of Det. Knight with a bit more interest. He was a distinctively handsome man with captivating eyes, a light growth of facial hair on his chin, and blonde, curly hair. According to the bio, he was 5'11", 180 pounds, thirty-eight-years-old and single. She also noticed the mention of a sun allergy and a special provision that excluded him from working day shift. Scully managed to tear her attention away from the virile-looking, dream boat and tune back into what her partner was saying.
"Word around the precinct was that Knight and Dr. Lambert were more than mere friends. At any rate, just hours before the car wreck, each of them had experienced some bad news. Dr. Lambert had lost a friend to suicide, and Knight had lost his partner in a shoot-out at the station."
"Would you happen to be thinking that perhaps they were both suffering from depression and that maybe the accident wasn't necessarily an accident?"
"The thought did cross my mind. I imagine that Det. Knight was doubly depressed because this was the second partner he'd lost in less than a year. His first partner along with their captain was killed in a plane bombing. Capt. Reese said that the detective was obviously upset and had handed in his resignation at that time. But continued bomb threats caused him to stick around and help out. He was credited with discovering a bomb and saving the lives of his entire precinct before it went off.
"Sounds like he was a pretty good cop," said Scully as she glanced back at the detective's bio. "They have him listed here as 'Presumed Dead.' What exactly happened?"
"Going by the evidence left behind, it's assumed that as Knight was driving Dr. Lambert home, he lost control of the car while crossing a bridge. It crashed through the railings and plunged forty feet into the frigid lake below. Knight wasn't wearing his seat belt and was ejected through the windshield of the car. His body was never recovered."
Scully looked at her partner with raised brows. "Let me guess. You think that not only is he still alive, but he's also the one who dug up Dr. Lambert's grave. That's pretty far-fetched, Mulder."
"Well, you spend twelve hours digging into this and tell me what you come up with. It all fits, Scully. I think that Knight drove off that bridge on purpose. Whether or not his girlfriend shared his sentiments, I believe that he decided to end it all. Only somehow he managed to survive, though maybe not completely unscathed. I'm guessing that by the time he made it to shore, he probably didn't even know who he was or what had happened to him. He probably wandered around Toronto for months as a homeless John Doe. Maybe he wandered into the cemetery looking for a quiet place to sleep and came upon the grave site purely by chance."
"So," said Scully picking up on the story, "he recognized the name and dug with his bare hands to see if it was really her."
"Then snuggles up to her for old times sake."
"Well, if that's true, that means he's a very disturbed man and he's in need of professional help. Was there any next of kin?"
Mulder flipped quickly through his paperwork to find the answer. "No. Knight had two people listed as contacts in case of emergency. One was Natalie Lambert and the other was a Janette DuCharme. The phone number given has been disconnected. It belonged to a nightclub called The Raven, which was closed down the same night the accident occurred."
"Little more than a coincidence?"
"That'd be my guess."
"Well, besides sounding like something out of the "Twilight Zone", what could this case possibly have to do with mutilated cows in Montana?"
"I thought you'd never ask." Mulder dished out two more sheets of paper from his file. They were photocopies of the two separate crime scenes. "Take a look at these and tell me what you see."
Scully mused over the two photographs; one of a dead cow with its throat slashed and head twisted backwards, the other of the reopened grave site of the late Dr. Lambert. The decaying body was positioned close to the right side of the coffin with its long, wavy hair purposely spread out over a small pillow. The light- colored, satin lining to its left was stained with dirt from head to toe. Similar stains could be seen across the bodice of her dress.
"I don't know, Mulder," Scully said at length. "The only thing I can easily discern these two scenes having in common besides a corpse, is dirt."
"Exactly," said Mulder, delighted that his partner had noted the obvious. "Soft earth, perfect for leaving footprints. I couldn't really make out the details in these reproductions, so I had those pictures and others that were available e-mailed to me. Come take a look."
With a click of the mouse, the flying saucers screen-saver on Mulder's computer was instantly replaced by two enlarged pictures arranged side by side. When Scully came to look over his shoulder, Mulder pointed out the footprints which had been left behind at the scenes. The rugged-style shoe print which had been left near the carcass of the dead cow appeared to match the ones found inside the coffin.
"I see where you're going with this, Mulder, but it's probably just a coincidence. The footprints around the cow could belong to anyone. And there's still no indication that Det. Knight is still alive, much less digging up graves and butchering cattle."
"Oh, did I mention that Knight was investigated once in connection with a little murder spree and that several wine bottles filled with cow's blood were found in his refrigerator?"
"No, you didn't mention that. Why would he have bottled cow's blood in his refrigerator?"
"Paint thickener for his oils, so he claimed."
"But you don't buy that, do you?" his partner asked knowingly.
"Personally, I believe he just happens to like the taste, which might explain why the three dead cows in Montana were found completely drained of blood."
"Okay, so let me get this straight. We're investigating a suicidal, Canadian, amnesiac, necrophilic, ex-cop who crossed the border into Montana to slash and break the necks of cows so he can sip their blood from wine bottles while dabbling in oils? Is that about it?"
"Yeah, and don't forget that this case was slipped to me under the door, so it's probably a safe bet that Det. Knight is of great interest to someone in our government. We probably need to get to him before they do. So, are you game?"
Scully picked up the bio of Det. Nick Knight again and gazed into a pair of eyes that seemed almost hypnotic. Whatever else he was to the secret government which had learned to use Mulder as its pawn, Knight was a troubled human being in desperate need of help. Unable to consider turning her back on him, she nodded and said, "Yeah, I'm game."