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Dana's Malakim

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Part 1

 

FBI Headquarters

Washington, DC

Tuesday, May 20, 1997

 

Scully looked at her image in the mirror… dark circles under her bloodshot eyes, pale complexion with tear tracks staining her cheeks, and a haunted look shadowing her normally bright blue eyes. She stared, her mind racing in circles. Why didn’t she see it coming?

 

She should have.

 

It had only been the previous weekend that Mulder had allowed a quack to drill a hole in his head and took ketamine – a powerful hallucinogen. He had brandished his weapon at her, then turned it on himself before she managed to talk him down. That was only a week ago. So why didn’t she anticipate he would actually do it? Clearly, Mulder was unstable. She should have done something. She should have had him committed. She should have–

 

She could drive herself crazy with ‘should haves.’

 

Scully closed her eyes and took a deep breath. With a heavy sigh she opened her eyes and turned on the water in the bathroom sink. Wetting a paper towel she wiped her face, clearing away the tear stains and the remnants of her makeup. She had a meeting to get to.

 

~~~

 

She walked into the conference room. The four men seated at one end of the table wore dour expressions.

 

“Agent Scully, please have a seat,” said Blevins.

 

She took a seat at the opposite end of the conference table.

 

“Agent Scully, we’ve had a brief discussion. Will you restate the matter we’re here to put to rest?

 

“Yes, sir. Four years ago, Section Chief Blevins assigned me to a project you all know as the X-Files. As I am a medical doctor with a background in hard science, my job was to provide an analytical prospective on the work of Special Agent Fox Mulder, whose investigations into the paranormal were fueled by a personal belief that his sister had been abducted by aliens when he was 12. I come here today, four years later, to report on the illegitimacy of Agent Mulder’s work. It is my scientific opinion that he became, over the course of these years, a victim. A victim of his own false hopes and of his beliefs in the biggest of lies.”

 

“Agent Scully, I presume you have a basis for this break from Agent Mulder.”

 

“Yes, sir. Recent events have shed new light on the factual and physical evidence that would serve to prove the existence of extra-terrestrial life, which was the foundation of Agent Mulder’s consuming devotion to his work.”

 

“What factual evidence?”

 

“Agent Mulder was recently contacted by a man whose pursuit of this evidence seemed to coincide with his own. In his intense desire to believe, Agent Mulder was duped by this man. He was fooled by an act of scientific sleight of hand calculated to perpetuate false truths, a larger lie. I am here today to expose this lie. To show the mechanism of deception that drew him, and me, into it. And to expose Agent Mulder’s work for what it is.”

 

~~~

 

Scully sat at the desk in the office she used to share with Mulder. Her gaze drifted around the room, taking in ‘Mulder’ touches; the ‘I Want To Believe’ poster, the slide projector, and the pencils stuck in the ceiling tile above his chair. A sudden knock on the door startled her.

 

“Scully?”

 

She looked over and saw Assistant Director Walter Skinner standing in the open doorway. “Sir?”

 

Skinner moved into the office and stood in front of the desk. “How are you doing?” he asked gently.

 

Scully sighed. “Identifying Mulder’s body wasn’t exactly how I expected to start my day.”

 

He nodded. “You should go home.”

 

“What’s going to happen now?”

 

“Your report effectively ended the Bureau’s investigations into UFOs and alien abductions.”

 

“So, no more X-Files.”

 

“On the contrary.”

 

“What?”

 

“The division will remain; the only difference is there won’t be any investigations into UFOs or abductions. There are still unusual and hard to solve cases to be investigated.” He paused. “You don’t have to decide now, but I’ve recommended you as the new division head.”

 

Scully didn’t know what to say or feel.

 

“Go home, Scully. Come back in a week.”

 

She nodded silently.

 

~~~

 

Home of Margaret Scully

Baltimore, MD

 

She didn’t remember making the decision to drive to Baltimore; she moved on autopilot until she parked her car in front of her mother’s house. She had a key, but didn’t think to use it. She rang the doorbell. The door opened.

 

“Dana? What’s going on? Why didn’t you use your key?” Margaret Scully took a hard look at her daughter, noting the exhaustion in her eyes. She reached out and pulled Dana into a hug. “What’s wrong, honey?” she asked softly.

 

Scully tightened her arms around her mother as silent tears started rolling down her cheeks. Maggie guided her inside, closing the door behind them. They sat on the couch where Scully laid her head on her mother’s shoulder and cried herself to sleep.

 

~~~

 

Coffee. Hot, strong, black coffee… it was a nice aroma to wake up to. Without opening her eyes, Scully drew in a deep breath, taking in the pleasant aroma of fresh coffee. She opened her eyes as she sat up.

 

“Here you go, Dana.”

 

She accepted the mug her mother held out to her, taking a tentative sip. “Mm, thank you.” She took another sip of the hot liquid, willing the caffeine to clear her muddled thoughts.

 

“Feel any better?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

 

She took a slow breath before responding. “Mulder’s dead, Mom.”

 

“What?!”

 

“He killed himself. He used his service weapon and shot himself in the head.”

 

“Oh, Dana. I’m so sorry.” She paused for a couple of beats. “I wish I could say it was a complete surprise.”

 

Scully whipped her head around to look at her mother. “You’re not surprised?”

 

“Let’s face it, dear, Fox had a lot of demons. I don’t think he ever really knew peace of mind.”

 

Scully sighed. “I know you’re right. I should have seen it coming. I should ha–”

 

“Don’t,” Maggie said forcefully, cutting her daughter off. “Don’t you dare blame yourself, Dana. You are not responsible for his actions.”

 

~~~

 

Memorial Cemetery

Martha’s Vineyard, MA

Saturday, May 24, 1997

 

Maggie sat next to her daughter holding her hand, trying to lend her daughter the strength she seemed to be lacking. She was very concerned about Dana. Her daughter seemed to be missing a measure of the calm steeliness that had gotten Dana through so much. In its place was a frailty that felt so out of place.

 

They sat silently through the small funeral service, and gave their condolences to Teena Mulder afterwards.

 

Scully, her body worn out from the cancer and radiation treatments, her emotions raw, slept on the flight back to Baltimore. Maggie watched over Dana as she slept, full of worry. She couldn’t help but notice how gaunt her daughter looked. Dana had lost weight – too much weight. Her daughter hadn’t said anything to her, but Maggie was fearful that the radiation treatment Dana was undergoing was having no effect on the cancer that was ravaging Dana’s body. She was heartsick at the thought of having to bury her second daughter. Losing Melissa had been bad enough, but to have to bury two of her children was absolutely devastating. She closed her eyes and prayed for her daughter’s life to be saved.

 

Despite her mother’s invitation to spend the night Scully drove home to her apartment in Georgetown.

 

~~~

 

Secret Location

 

“It’s time to talk about Special Agent Scully,” said the Well Manicured Man. He paused to see how his compatriots would react.

 

Nothing.

 

“It’s time to release her, to let her get on with her life. Mulder is dead and Scully has officially debunked his work. His suicide was the finishing touch in making him the pathetic laughingstock he was. The X-Files are no longer a threat to our interests.”

 

The Leader nodded thoughtfully. “I don’t see why not. It was never about her anyway; the objective has always been about stopping Mulder from getting in our way. Besides, Scully’s smart and more than capable; she could be an asset in the future.”

 

A hand moved from the shadows and crushed a cigarette out in an overflowing ashtray. “That would be a mistake.” The speaker’s deeply lined face was momentarily illuminated as he lit another cigarette. “Agent Scully has a will that cannot be bowed. Any attempt to bring her into our cause would be futile… and ultimately dangerous. If we were to attract her attention in any way she would focus her exceptional skill and intellect on stopping us,” concluded the Cigarette Smoking Man.

 

All present turned to The Leader, awaiting his judgment.

 

After several moments of silence, The Leader spoke. “Very well.”

 

~~~

 

FBI Headquarters

Tuesday, May 27, 1997

 

Scully arrived at work early. It wasn’t that she was looking forward to clearing Mulder’s things out of their– her office, it was just because she hadn’t sleep well. She awoke before dawn, sick to her stomach from the radiation treatment she’d had the afternoon before. After emptying the meager contents of her stomach she knew she wouldn’t get any more sleep.

 

She placed an empty box on the desk and looked around. Sunflower seeds, a basketball, and a green alien bobble-head… She was supposed to box up his things and send them to his mother. Fortunately she didn’t have to take care of his apartment, although she did go by and remove his porn collection. Scully didn’t feel it was necessary for his mother to know about his predilections.

 

She looked up at the knock on the door and saw a woman standing in the darkened doorway. Scully couldn’t make out her face in the shadows.

 

“Can I help you?”

 

“I hope so. I’m looking for Special Agent Scully.” The woman spoke softly but clearly. There was a strange lilt to her voice that seemed foreign yet familiar.

 

“I’m Agent Scully. And you are?”

 

The woman took a step forward. “I’m Special Agent Nicole Logan… your new partner.”

 

All the air seemed to be sucked out of the room. Scully couldn’t breathe.

 

“And from the expression on your face I’d say you had no idea I’d been assigned to the X-Files.”

 

Scully finally managed a deep breath. “Come in, Agent Logan.” As the woman entered the room Scully took a moment to size her up.

 

Logan wore a tailored suit that spoke of good taste. She was blonde and had a fair complexion, though for some reason Scully thought with some sun it would take on a nice tan, rather than burn like most people with such coloring. She was about 5’8” and her blonde hair was short. She was of medium build, with an athletic gracefulness that indicated coordination and strength beneath her frame.

 

Then there were her eyes. They were dark green – nothing extraordinary about that. However, Scully got the feeling that those eyes saw things others didn’t – things below the surface. She felt a momentary shiver along her spine as she imagined those eyes piercing her façade and knowing her heart and soul. As disconcerting as it was, she mentally shook herself and tried to calm her jangled nerves.

 

A forced smile graced her lips. “It’s nice to meet you, Agent Logan. And no, I wasn’t aware of your assignment.” She paused for a beat. “I’ve just returned from a short leave.”

 

“I’m sorry about your partner. It’s not an easy thing to have to deal with.”

 

Scully felt the backs of her eyes sting as a lump formed in her throat. Before she could say anything, Logan continued.

 

“Look, I can see you have some things to…” Logan’s eyes took in the half-filled box on the desk, “deal with. There are a few things I need to take care of as well. Why don’t I go and come back tomorrow? If that’s okay with you.”

 

Scully nodded. “Yeah,” she managed to croak around the lump in her throat.

 

“Alright, I’ll see you tomorrow. I look forward to working with you, Agent Scully.” Logan turned and left.

 

Alone again, Scully dropped into the chair. She felt completely unnerved. There was something about Logan that… She sighed. She wondered if she should just go to Skinner and tell him she didn’t want the job. Her cancer had metastasized; she could go on medical leave, collect her salary and not worry about anything but herself.

 

Scully closed her eyes. No, she’d be miserable with nothing to do. But now she was faced with a new partner she knew nothing about, although she had no doubt the blonde had been sent by the Consortium. She didn’t know if she had it in her to deal with–

 

The phone rang.

 

“Scully.”

 

“Agent Scully, this is Kimberly. Assistant Director Skinner would like to see you immediately.”

 

“I’m on my way,” she told the AD’s assistant.

 

As she closed and locked the door to the office, her eyes traveled over the name plate holders. Mulder’s name plate had already been taken down. Her name plate was the only one adorning the doorframe. God, she felt so alone.

 

~~~

 

AD Skinner’s Office

 

“Have a seat, Agent Scully.”

 

“Sir.”

 

“As you know, the X-Files Division is remaining open and you are now the head of the division. While you will not be investigating any alleged UFO sightings or alien abductions, there are still quite a few cases that fall into the purview of the X-Files. Also, you’ll be assigned a new partner.”

 

“I know.”

 

Skinner eyed her. “You know?”

 

“Yes. I’ve already met my new ‘partner.’ She came by my office this morning.”

 

“I see.” He paused. “I wasn’t aware. Agent Logan wasn’t due until tomorrow.”

 

“Just when did the Bureau begin to partner women together, sir?” she asked evenly, holding her emotions in check.

 

Skinner nodded. “I understand your reticence, but Logan is an extremely competent field agent with an exceptional intelligence. She’s very perceptive.” He locked eyes with Scully. “You can trust her,” he said in a deliberate tone.

 

Scully’s expression hardened. “I can’t trust anyone…” she belatedly added, “sir.”

 

He sat back in his chair with a heavy sigh. “I know you believe that, but you can trust me and–”

 

“With respect, sir, I know you are sometimes not the one in charge.”

 

Skinner again nodded. “That has been true, but things change.” He tossed a file onto the desk in front of Scully. “In the meantime, that’s Logan’s personnel file. If you don’t have any other questions you’re dismissed.”

 

Once Scully left a connecting door opened and Logan entered. She moved from the shadows and looked at the door Scully had just exited through. Skinner looked up at her profile. He wanted to tell Scully everything, or at least what little he knew, but he couldn’t. It wasn’t his place. Besides, she’d never believe him. He was still struggling to believe it himself.

 

“You’re a good man, Walter, but good men don’t necessarily live easy lives. You’ve chosen a difficult path.”

 

He felt a lump grow in his throat and a stinging in his eyes. For the first time in longer than he could remember his soul felt clean. “At least it’s my choice. I thank you for that.”

 

She turned her head and gave him a slight smile. “Free will, Walter. As I said, you’re a good man. Your decisions are your own again. Not everyone gets a second chance.” With that Logan left.

 

~~~

 

A Jet Somewhere Over the Atlantic Ocean

One Week Earlier – Tuesday, May 20, 1997

 

She was close to pinpointing the location of the safe house. Once she did, it would be only a matter of some recon to make sure all the members of the pack were there. This pack was as good as extinct.

 

But then she got the emergency signal. Almost before she knew what was happening, she was on a flight back stateside – without benefit of a shower or change of clothes. She was given a file and told to know everything in it by the time they landed. She was more than a little irritated, but she knew she wouldn’t have been pulled out without good reason.

 

She opened the file and began. Ah, the Consortium again. They were a thorn to be sure, but they were human. She preferred going after the non-human ones. She read about the latest schemes and activities: old, avaricious, power-hungry men and their manipulative efforts to advance themselves at the cost of any and everyone else.

 

She raised an eyebrow when she got to the other players involved. This was not the kind of assignment she liked. She preferred straight forwardness and she preferred to be on the offensive. It wasn’t that she couldn’t do subtle, she just didn’t like to take the time. But again, she wouldn’t be sent without a good reason.

 

When she finished the file she knew there were still pieces of the puzzle missing. That could mean a few things – she wasn’t supposed to know, she didn’t need to know, she didn’t need to know yet, they didn’t know, or any combination of the above. So, a bit of mystery to go along with this assignment.

 

She closed her eyes and started making a mental list of things she needed to get done to start her assignment – including finding a place to live and contacting people she hadn’t seen since her last time in the States.

 

~~~

 

Walter Skinner’s Apartment

(Hours after Mulder’s suicide)

 

Skinner knew he wasn’t going to get any sleep. If he hadn’t needed to change clothes he might have headed into his office and spent the rest of the night there. Things weren’t going to get any better when the sun came up, but he could at least get some work done before his lousy day officially began.

 

He couldn’t believe Mulder had eaten his service weapon. He felt like he should have seen it coming, should have prevented it. But Mulder had always been ‘out there.’ Even so, Mulder and Scully did get results. They closed cases, maybe not how others wanted them to, but they closed a lot of cases. His head hurt as he thought about the upcoming meeting called by Blevins in the morning. Scully was to present her findings and answer questions.

 

Scully.

 

He closed his eyes. Scully, the voice of reason in the X-Files Division; he was going to lose her, too. He knew she was battling the cancer, but also knew she was losing that battle. It was only a matter of time. How much time, he had no idea. With Mulder’s suicide perhaps she would decide to leave now. He hoped not. He genuinely liked her and cared about her. He silently hoped she could fight the cancer until some doctor could find a way to save her.

 

He opened his eyes, poured himself a stiff scotch, and went out onto his balcony.

 

“Are you a good man, Walter?”

 

His heart leapt into his throat and his glass of scotch shattered as his hand flew to his waist to grab at– nothing! He had already removed his gun and holster, setting them down on the counter before he poured his drink. The low voice unnerved him – not just for its unexpected location in the shadows on his own balcony, but for how it seemed to cause his spine to shiver in harmony with its underlying rumble.

 

“Who the hell are you?! How did you get up here?!”

 

The owner of the voice shifted toward him and out of the shadows a bit. “We need to talk, Walter.”

 

His spine stiffened. “Who are you?” he demanded.

 

“Maybe your second chance.” She held out a hand, indicating for them to go inside. “Let’s talk.”

 

Skinner was not at all comfortable about this woman in his home, but being several floors up, he didn’t see the alternative. He walked back inside his own home and marched directly to his weapon. He unholstered and cocked it as he turned back to her, only she wasn’t there. He swung the gun around in an arc, covering the entire room. He eased his way to the still open balcony door. Gun at the ready, he turned on the balcony light – no one was there.

 

He closed and locked the balcony door. He then cleared each room of his apartment and found no one. The front door was still locked and the chain was still in place. He took a couple of deep breaths to clear his head and slow his pulse. There was no one in his apartment.

 

“I must be losing it,” he said softly to himself. He once again poured himself a drink and took a big swallow. When he turned around he damn near dropped his drink again.

 

There she was, sitting on his couch, looking at him with a slight curl on one side of her mouth. She was wearing snug leather pants, a black pullover shirt, a black cap, a long leather coat, and black leather boots that laced and buckled up to her knees. Despite the lighting in the room, it was as if the shadows made themselves a part of her and obscured her features.

 

“We need to talk.”

 

His head hurt a lot now. He momentarily entertained the thought of just shooting her.

 

She arched an eyebrow as if she knew what he was thinking. “I’m not armed.”

 

Perhaps she did know.

 

“Who are you?” he asked in a resigned tone of voice as he set his weapon down.

 

“That depends.”

 

“On what?” He hated cryptic answers.

 

“On the answer to my question. Are you a good man?”

 

He looked at her like one of them was nuts, and he wasn’t sure which one it was.

 

“If you are, then I’m a friend. If you aren’t…”

 

“Then what?”

 

“Be glad I’m just here to talk.”

 

“Are you threatening me?”

 

“Not at all.”

 

Skinner downed his scotch and poured himself another one. Before capping the bottle he looked at her, the question obvious.

 

“No thank you.”

 

He capped the bottle and took a seat facing her. “So talk.”

 

She did. It wasn’t long before Skinner was wishing he either hadn’t had the second scotch, or had finished the bottle instead. This woman knew things about him that he didn’t tell anyone.

 

“H-How do I know you’re not with them?” He imagined he could almost smell the cigarette smoke.

 

“I can break the hold they have on you, Walter. It’s your choice now. Either stay on the path you’re on, or choose to change it. This is your second chance.”

 

She sat in silence as Walter Skinner turned inward, reviewing his life, his choices, his regrets, his past, his heart and soul. She waited patiently. She knew he had to come to the decision on his own. He was not a coward, merely a man who had faltered under a great burden. She could hear his heartbeat as it settled into a strong, even rhythm. He opened his eyes.

 

“What do I have to do?”

 

“Trust me,” she responded in that same soft but even tone.

 

Skinner looked her in the eyes. Somewhere down in his soul he felt it… then he saw it in her eyes. “Okay.”

 

They talked. When they were done, she stood and made her way to the balcony door. She unlocked it and slid it open, stepping out. She turned back to look at him once again. “See you soon, Walter.”

 

His eyes widened as feathered wings, black as coal, extended from her back and then carried her up into the night sky.

 

~~~

 

FBI Headquarters

Tuesday, May 27, 1997

 

When Scully returned to her office she sat at her desk and opened her lunch bag. She took out her turkey sandwich and then opened the file Skinner had given her.

 

Nicole Amber Logan: Badge #JTT0330703

 

Date of Birth: FEB XX, 19XX in XXXXXXXX

 

Why the hell was the date and place of birth redacted? Scully had never seen a file like that.

 

Height: 5’6”

Eyes: Green

Hair: Blonde

Mother: XXXXXXXX – Deceased

Father: Unknown

Siblings: None

Marital Status: Single

Children: None

 

Logan’s mother died when she was ten years old. She then went to live with her grandmother in Europe. She excelled in school, graduating from high school and college early. She held a doctorate in both Theology and Philosophy – not exactly common areas of study for a law enforcement officer.

 

She placed first in her class at Quantico, and upon graduation was offered her choice of position in the Violent Crimes Unit or a teaching position at the Academy. She turned down both and requested a field posting in Europe, which she was given.

 

From what Scully could glean from the file Logan often worked in cooperation with the local law enforcement agencies and officers, her looks and skills allowing her to work undercover in order to set up deals for weapons, drugs, miscellaneous contraband – and people. Her assignments overseas were interspersed with occasional assignments stateside. She didn’t seem to spend too much time in one place. However, it was rather hard to judge since none of the assignments, reviews, or commendations listed in her file included any dates.

 

The only dates provided were for the most recent entries. According to the official report in Logan’s file, the agent had recently spent two weeks in a hospital in Bucharest, ending a deep undercover assignment. She suffered from major head trauma, a broken clavicle, three broken ribs, several lacerations, and a drug overdose.

 

Scully shook her head. Logan had been through the wringer. She took a deep breath and continued reading the report.

 

In her statement, Logan said she never saw her abductors’ faces. She initially had been struck in the back of the head sufficiently hard enough to knock her out for some time. They kept her blindfolded and gagged the whole time. Based on things she remembered hearing, Logan said her cover had been blown by someone either at the Bureau or the Bucharest Police Department. She said they had injected her with something more than once – the first time just as soon as she regained consciousness. They had dumped her bloody, beaten, and drugged body, and that of a Romanian police officer, not expecting either of them to live. The Romanian officer didn’t.

 

Logan briefly returned to work at the FBI’s Legal Attaché office in the American Embassy six weeks after the leaving the hospital. On her first day back, however, she was suspended for assaulting a coworker, and was placed on indefinite leave. She hadn’t worked actively for the Bureau since. This was her first assignment back.

 

Scully raised her eyebrow at this. Logan’s statement about the incident was in the file, but it, too, was heavily redacted and didn’t shed any light on what exactly had happened. So, she had a partner with a shit load of emotional baggage and could fly off the handle – just like Mulder.

 

She closed her suddenly stinging eyes and took a deep breath. Why did she have to have another partner like Mulder? She turned and opened her eyes, looking at that damn poster on the wall. It would be so easy to give in, to give up. She could go on medical leave and forget everything having to do with the X-Files. This was Mulder’s crusade, not hers.

 

She let out a heavy sigh as she slumped in her chair and pinched the bridge of her nose.

 

~~~

 

FBI Headquarters

Wednesday, May 28, 1997

 

It was almost 9:00 when Agent Logan showed up to work. She wanted to make sure Scully was already in before she arrived. Besides, she was more of a night person anyway.

 

Scully looked up at the knock on the open door. “Come in, Agent Logan.”

 

“Good morning.”

 

Scully gestured toward the small work table in the corner – her former work area. “You can take that area over there. We haven’t been assigned any new cases and I’m finishing up some leftover paperwork. In the meantime you need to familiarize yourself with this division and the kinds of cases we work. You should review the case files,” she said with a wave at the file cabinet.

 

“Alright.”

 

Logan set her briefcase on the work table and moved to the filing cabinet. She opened the top drawer and rifled through the files. She already knew what kinds of cases the X-Files Division worked, but it was still interesting to see the labels on dividers in the drawer – astral projection to zombies, and everything in between. She pulled out a few that piqued her interest then opened the second drawer. Logan wasn’t looking for anything in particular as she scanned the files, but stopped when she came to one bearing the name Dana Scully.

 

She glanced over her shoulder and saw that Scully was silently working. Before pulling the file she took another look through the files, and found a second one with Scully’s name on it. She pulled both of the files and added them to her pile. Logan had already reviewed Scully’s personnel file. She had also spoken with Walter, but she was still curious about the small, red-haired woman with steely eyes.

 

As she went through the rest of the drawers she noticed the obvious absence of any files about UFOs, alien abductions, or extraterrestrial biological entities. She wondered if Scully had taken them out, or if they had been removed during Scully’s recent leave. She picked up her pile and moved back to the table.

 

She spent the entire day quietly reading. At 5:00 they called it a day and went their separate ways.

 

The next day was spent the same way.

 

It wasn’t until Friday afternoon that anything changed.

 

~~~

 

Part 2

 

FBI Headquarters

Friday, May 30, 1997

 

Logan had purposefully remained silent as she read case files for the almost three days. She knew her presence was more than a little uncomfortable for Scully and she didn’t want to do or say anything to make it worse for the grieving woman. However, as Friday morning turned into Friday afternoon, she felt it was time to break the ice.

 

Logan turned around in her seat and looked at the redhead a few moments as Scully worked intently. “Agent Scully.”

 

Scully startled at the sound of her officemate’s voice. Logan had been silently reading for the past three days. It had been almost easy to willfully forget she was even there. Scully was almost completely caught up with the paperwork backlog; if they didn’t get a case soon she’d have nothing to occupy her time, or her mind. She took a steadying breath.

 

“Yes, Agent Logan?”

 

“Will you have dinner with me tonight?”

 

That was the last thing Scully expected Logan to say and she couldn’t keep the surprise off of her face. “Uh… I don’t think…”

 

“I’ve been here three days and we haven’t spoken more than a dozen words to each other. I know what it’s like to lose a partner, Agent Scully. Neither of us chose to be in this situation, but here we are. We’re going to have to trust each other to have each other’s back. I believe sitting down and talking would be a good start, and a little easier in a neutral setting.”

 

Scully hesitated before answering. Logan’s soft spoken words were reasonable and made sense. Even when Mulder suspected her of being nothing more than a spy he was more welcoming to her than she had been to Logan. Trust was a long way off – Logan would have to prove she was trustworthy. In the meantime it probably was a good idea to get to know her… coworker. She couldn’t bring herself to say ‘partner’ yet, not even mentally.

 

Finally, Scully’s posture eased just a little as she made her decision. “Okay. What did you have in mind?”

 

“Do you like Italian?”

 

~~~

 

Rinaldo’s Italian Restaurant

Georgetown

 

Scully had followed Logan to the restaurant in her own car. Rinaldo’s was a small, cozy place with seating for only about 20-25 people, but the food was better than excellent! She still didn’t have much of an appetite, but she couldn’t resist the creamy Shrimp Alfredo she’d ordered. Scully was surprised she’d never known or heard about Rinaldo’s before, especially since she lived in Georgetown and not more than mile away from the restaurant.

 

Scully had also been surprised when Logan ordered their meal, and a bottle of wine, in Italian. The waiter had asked her a question, also in Italian, and smiled broadly at her response before going to place their order in the kitchen.

 

“So, you speak Italian, and quite well from our waiter’s reaction.”

 

Logan smiled. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe. It pays to know a little of the language of the people you have to deal with.”

 

“Your last assignment was in Romania, does that mean you speak Romanian as well?”

 

“Well enough to get by. I have an ear for languages; I pick them up fairly easily.”

 

“I can see where that would be helpful considering your postings.”

 

“What about you, do you speak any other languages?”

 

“An der Uni habe ich Deutsch belegt,” she replied. [I took German in college.]

 

“Deine Aussprache ist ziemlich gut. Warst du schon einmal in Deutschland?” [Your pronunciation is pretty good. Have you ever been to Germany?]

 

“Nein.” [No.]

 

“Es is ein sehr schönes Land.” [It’s a beautiful country.]

 

~~~

 

Their conversation was interrupted by the waiter bringing their after dinner drinks – coffee for Scully and tea for Logan.

 

“I read your personnel file the other day,” Scully said after the waiter left.

 

“And?”

 

“What exactly happened at the attaché’s office the day you returned to work?”

 

Logan took a slow breath before answering. “I coldcocked Agent Duvaul.”

 

“I gathered that much. I’m asking why?”

 

“Duvaul was a misogynistic asshole who didn’t know when to shut up. Rishka, the Bucharest police officer who was my contact when I went undercover, was a good friend. I was unable to save her. She didn’t deserve what was done to her or Duvaul’s disrespect.” The blonde stared at a spot on the wall. “Rishka was an extraordinary person. Losing her was difficult,” she said softly. “I was deep undercover, but somehow my cover had been blown. Only Rishka and the legal attaché’s office knew about my assignment; there had to have been a leak.”

 

“And you think it was Duvaul,” Scully concluded.

 

“I don’t know who it was, but I know it wasn’t Rishka.” She took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Logan was startled when Scully spoke.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Thank you.” She paused. “So, can I ask you a question?”

 

Scully nodded. “Go ahead.”

 

“I’ve read the files; you’ve worked a lot of interesting cases.”

 

“Is that a question?”

 

“No. Agent Mulder clearly embraced the paranormal, believed in the fantastic. What about you?”

 

Logan’s gentle tone kept Scully from immediately jumping to Mulder’s defense with a sharp retort. Something in the blonde’s manner let her know Logan wasn’t being judgmental, simply curious.

 

“I believe in science. A lot of our cases, no matter how much they appear to involve the paranormal, can actually be explained scientifically.”

 

One corner of Logan’s mouth curled slightly. “I could tell that from your reports.”

 

“I won’t deny I’ve seen things that I can’t explain, cases that remain unsolved.”

 

“Unsolved, meaning you couldn’t find a scientific explanation?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“The things you’ve seen, things you’ve experienced and can’t explain, have you accepted any of them on faith?”

 

Scully frowned slightly. “Do you mean faith as in an ‘act of God’?”

 

“That’s one possibility, but I was thinking more along the lines of belief in something despite no logical or scientific proof. Do things exist that can’t or never will be measured or quantified by man… or woman?”

 

Scully shook her head. “If I can see it, I want to investigate it, test it, define it.”

 

“And if you can’t?”

 

She shrugged. “That’s why some cases are unsolved for me.”

 

“And that cross around your neck?” Logan asked softly.

 

In an unconscious movement Scully’s hand went to her cross. She hesitated as she fingered it, weighing her thoughts. “I was raised Catholic.” She paused for several moments, trying to find the right words. “I guess it would be accurate to say that I don’t not believe, but… I’ve turned to science for my answers.”

 

Logan nodded in understanding. She was surprised Scully had been that forthcoming.

 

“What about you, Logan? What are your thoughts about the paranormal?”

 

“I’m Saxon-Celt and have Druids at the roots of my family tree,” she replied with a soft smile. “I’ve always been interested in things that couldn’t be explained, the unusual, and the fantastic. Events may take place that defy normal wisdom or scientific explanation. Maybe that’s because they are truly paranormal, mystical, or magical. And maybe it’s because science simply hasn’t evolved sufficiently to provide the answers.”

 

“And what of faith? I know you have a PhD in theology.”

 

“I think that our creator has been known by many different peoples, and has been called by many different names. I think almost all religions have a lot more in common with each other than they have differences; a lot more than most people are willing to admit. So, personally, I don’t think it matters in what manner or method a person believes as long as the result is they try to be a good person.”

 

Scully didn’t know why, but she was surprised by Logan’s answer. And she liked the blonde’s answer.

 

~~~

 

FBI Headquarters

Monday, June 2, 1997

 

Only an hour into the day Logan announced she’d finished reading all the files as she returned the last one to the file cabinet.

 

Scully couldn’t keep from shaking her head. “What did you do, get a degree in speed reading?”

 

Logan smiled as she closed the file drawer and leaned against the cabinet. “Actually, it was a breeze.” She smirked, “I just skipped over all the science and medical gibberish.”

 

Scully blinked and her mouth actually opened in surprise. She had not expected the teasing barb. Even more surprising was the fact that she kind of liked it. Before she could come back with a snappy reply the phone rang.

 

“Scully… Okay. Thank you, Kimberly.” She hung up and looked at the blonde. “Skinner wants to see us.”

 

~~~

 

AD Skinner’s Office

 

Skinner stood as the two women entered his office. “Agent Scully, Agent Logan, please have a seat.” He retook his seat as they sat in the two chairs in front of his desk. “I have a case for you.” He handed a file to Scully, which she opened and skimmed. “The office in Chattanooga, Tennessee has received some anonymous calls from a woman claiming to have information about some recent murders.”

 

“And they need us to track down an anonymous caller?” asked Scully, irritability coloring her tone.

 

Skinner let her tone slide without comment. “The calls were made before each murder took place.”

 

“So she’s involved.”

 

“The calls were traced to a payphone in Albuquerque, New Mexico.”

 

“Are you saying the caller’s psychic?” Logan asked.

 

“I’m not the one saying that. The Albuquerque office is expecting you first thing in the morning.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Scully answered for both of them.

 

~~~

 

As the two agents rode the elevator back down to the basement, Scully mapped out what needed to be done. “I’ll call the airport and book us a flight. You go on home and pack a bag. I’ll meet back up with you here at 4:00.”

 

“Okay. Do you want me to book a hotel?”

 

“If you don’t mind.”

 

“Not at all.”

 

~~~

 

Washington Memorial Hospital

Oncology Department

 

“Ms. Scully? You can come on back now.” The nurse led Scully back to an examination room where she took her vitals and drew a couple of vials of blood. “The doctor will be with you shortly,” the nurse said as she left the room, closing the door.

 

The door reopened several minutes later. “Hello, Ms. Scully. What can we do for you today?” asked Dr. Munson.

 

“I have to go out of town for work and I won’t be able to keep my appointment tomorrow. So I wanted to come in today for my treatment.”

 

The doctor nodded. “We can do that. How long are you going to be out of town?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“You do know that maintaining your treatment schedule will yield better results.”

 

“I know,” Scully sighed. “But right now work is the best thing for me. If I’m out of town too long, I’ll…” she hesitated, “get treatment out there.”

 

Dr. Munson hesitated before replying. “Alright. Make sure you have your copy of your medical record with you. I tell Lisa to make a copy of today’s visit so you have it. If necessary have someone contact me to verify things.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

~~~

 

Days Inn

Albuquerque, NM

 

Scully met up with Logan at the office as planned. When they left for the airport they went in Scully’s car. Their flight left at 6:50 and landed over four hours later at 9:05 pm local time. Not wanting to rely on airplane fare, Logan opted to eat at the airport while they waited for their flight. Scully passed on dinner, both at the airport and on the plane, since she was feeling queasy, as usual.

 

They checked into the Days Inn in midtown. Scully changed into her pajamas and was about to go to bed when there was a knock on her door. She looked out the peephole and saw Logan. She opened the door, and was surprised to see the blonde in skimpy shorts and a tank top.

 

“Logan?”

 

“I just wanted to let you I’m heading down to use the fitness room. I’ll have my cell with me if something comes up.”

 

“Oh. Okay.”

 

Scully couldn’t help but notice the blonde’s shapely, and clearly well toned, legs as Logan turned and walked away. Scully felt a little jealous. Before she’d gotten sick she would have gladly welcomed a workout at the end of a slow day, but she no longer had the energy for anything beyond just getting through each day. Not for the first time that day she wondered why she was even bothering with staying on the job.

 

With a heavy sigh she crawled into bed and turned off the light.

 

~~~

 

Tuesday, June 3, 1997

 

Logan wasn’t sure what woke her up. She looked at the clock radio – 4:27 am.

 

Then she heard it.

 

Logan got out of bed and walked to the door that separated her room from Scully’s adjoining room. “Agent Scully?” She knocked on the door. “Agent Scully, are you alright?” She got no answer. “Scully! If you don’t answer I’m coming in!”

 

When Logan still didn’t receive an answer she gripped the locked doorknob and forced it to turn. She then put her shoulder against the door and pushed until the slide latch gave. She rushed into Scully’s room and found her weakly holding onto the toilet bowl and vomiting. Logan knelt next to the redhead and gently rubbed her hand across the sick woman’s back, taking note of how prominent her shoulder blades and spine were.

 

Scully moaned as her vomiting turned to dry heaves.

 

“Breathe easy, Scully.”

 

The redhead laid her head down on her arm across the toilet bowl when the dry heaves finally abated. Logan stood and wet a washcloth in the sink, returning to gently wipe the perspiration from Scully’s face.

 

“Come on, Scully, let’s get you back to bed.”

 

When the smaller woman was too weak to stand on her own Logan slipped her arm under Scully’s legs and picked her up. She carried her back into the room and laid her on the bed, pulling the covers over her. Scully was disoriented and had trouble keeping her eyes open. She was soon out like a light.

 

Logan sat on the side of the bed and gazed down at the redhead. She knew exactly where Scully had disappeared to that afternoon; she just didn’t know the side effects of the redhead’s treatments could be quite so debilitating. It was a wonder the woman was still working. She knew she was going to have to find out more about Scully’s illness.

 

Logan returned to her room and got dressed. She then grabbed her laptop and returned to Scully’s room to keep an eye on her. Over the next two hours Logan learned more about nasopharyngeal tumors than she thought possible.

 

At 7:00 she called Special Agent Timmons, the agent they were supposed to meet with at the Albuquerque Field Office, and made arrangements to meet with him at the hotel’s coffee shop.

 

~~~

 

The Coffee Shoppe

Day’s Inn

 

“Agent Logan?”

 

The blonde looked up and smiled at the man. He was 6’ with black hair, blue eyes, and a dark complexion. “Agent Timmons, have a seat.”

 

He sat across the booth from her.

 

“I apologize for having to ask you to meet here instead of coming to your office.”

 

“Not a problem. I hope your partner feels better soon.”

 

“Oh, I’m sure she will be. I think it was something she ate on the plane.”

 

Timmons smiled. “That wouldn’t surprise me. Anyway, here’s the file,” he said as he handed it to her. “There’s not much to it.”

 

Logan quickly skimmed the file. “I see what you mean. Looks like the only way to find out who’s making the calls is to stake out the phone.”

 

The man nodded. “Yeah, and we were told it wasn’t enough of a priority to commit any manpower. It looks like you and your partner are stuck with a rather boring assignment,” he said sympathetically.

 

“Sometimes boring can be good,” Logan replied with a small smirk.

 

Timmons nodded again. “True enough. I’ll be in and out of the office today, but if you need anything here’s my number,” he said as he held out his card.

 

Logan took the proffered card. “Thanks. And thank you again for meeting me here.”

 

“My pleasure. Have a good day, Agent Logan.”

 

~~~

 

Days Inn

Scully’s Room

 

Logan returned to her room where, after checking on her sleeping partner, she made a pot of tea in the provided coffeemaker. With a fresh cup of tea in hand, she sat down with the phone book and started leafing through it. When she found what she was looking for Logan placed a call. Once she was sure her request was being handled, she returned to Scully’s room to watch over her. She spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon doing research online.

 

The blonde startled a little bit when her phone rang. She scrambled to answer it before it disturbed Scully.

 

“Logan.”

 

“Agent Logan, this Ted Framingham. I’m just calling to let you know that I’ve completed the job.”

 

“That’s great. Thank you.”

 

“All you need is the IP address and you can access the feed.” He gave her the address and then hung up.

 

Logan pulled up the website and verified everything was working. That done, she wrote a quick note for Scully in case she woke up and then left for a quick dinner.

 

~~~

 

Wednesday June 4, 1998

 

Scully’s body felt like lead weight when she woke up, and she felt very groggy. It took her a full minute before she was able to lift her arm and turn on the table lamp. The 40-watt bulb painted the room in a dingy yellow cast. It took a few moments for her to gain her bearings and remember where she was. She was tempted to just close her eyes and go back to sleep, but the pressure in her bladder made that impossible.

 

She took a couple of slow, deep breaths before levering herself up and placing her feet on the floor. It wasn’t until she managed to stand up and turned that she saw Logan slumped in a chair at the small table, asleep.

 

Logan shot upright at the sound of the toilet flushing. The bathroom door opened.

 

“Hey. Are you okay?” the blonde asked gently.

 

Scully sat on the bed. “Yeah. I feel better. How long have I been asleep?”

 

The blonde looked at her watch. “It almost 3:00 in the morning, so nearly a day.”

 

“What?! We were due at the Albuquerque field office yesterday morning! How could you let me sleep all day?”

 

“You were quite sick and sleep was the best thing for you. Don’t worry, I met with Agent Timmons and got everything they have – which, by the way, is basically nothing. The only way we’re going to find the caller is to watch the payphone, and I’ve made arrangements for that. Everything is under control; you haven’t missed anything.” Logan stood up with a yawn. “If you’re alright, I’m going to grab a little sleep,” she said as she made her way to the adjoining doorway. “I’ll see you in a little while.”

 

Scully simply stared at the open doorway, unable to understand why Logan had apparently watched over her for almost 24 hours – and was unable to explain why the thought of Logan doing that comforted her more than it disturbed her. Neither could Scully understand why the woman hadn’t even asked her why she was sick. She let out a sigh as she lay back on the bed. Despite sleeping for so long she still felt tired. She set the alarm clock, rolled over, and closed her eyes.

 

~~~

 

Days Inn

Logan’s Room

 

It was 7:30 when Scully tapped on the open adjoining door.

 

“Come on in.”

 

She stepped into her coworker’s room and was surprised to find her sitting at the table working on her laptop. Logan appeared to be refreshed, wide awake, and quite intent on whatever she was doing on her computer.

 

“Good morning.”

 

Logan looked up and took in her partner’s appearance. The redhead looked rested and her eyes appeared clear. “Good morning. How do you feel?”

 

“I’m fine.” Scully hesitated a moment before walking over and sitting in the other chair at the table. “About yesterday…”

 

“Don’t worry about it.” The blonde’s eyes returned to her computer screen.

 

“I owe you an explanation.”

 

Logan looked up at Scully again, sitting back in her chair and giving her partner her full attention.

 

Scully was a little disconcerted to have the blonde’s full attention focused on her. There was definitely something about those dark green eyes… they saw her, really saw her. The walls she’d had meticulously built over the years hid nothing from those eyes.

 

At least, that’s the way it felt.

 

She took a deep breath and looked out the window, unable to meet Logan’s eyes any longer. “I’m currently receiving treatment for cancer,” she said softly. I don’t know why I reacted so strongly, but I appreciate your help, and that you covered for me.”

 

“It’s okay, Agent Scully, we all have bad days. Besides, partners are supposed to watch out for each other.”

 

Partners. The word reverberated through Scully’s mind, bringing her up short.

 

She looked back at the blonde. She saw no judgment in Logan’s eyes, only understanding. Could she really trust her new… partner? Scully didn’t know the answer to that question, but Logan had certainly taken a step in the right direction. Only time would tell if the blonde was genuine, or a plant.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome.”

 

“Now, how about bringing me up to speed on the case?”

 

“The local office has basically nothing. All they could provide was the number and location of the pay phone, and they aren’t willing to put any manpower into staking it out, especially since no one knows anything about the caller.”

 

“We know it’s a woman.”

 

“Not much to go on.”

 

“No, it’s not.”

 

“So I guess we’re stuck with the unenviable task of staking out a pay phone.”

 

Logan smiled. “Yes, and no. Stuck in a car for hours in the summer in Albuquerque isn’t going to be very fun.”

 

“No, it’s not,” Scully sighed.

 

The blonde turned her laptop around so the redhead could see the screen. “But it won’t be so bad from here.”

 

“How did you…”

 

“I arranged to have some equipment set up. The camera is transmitting to a secured hard drive which is connected to the internet. As long as we’re logged in we have access to the feed.”

 

Scully was surprised, and impressed. “What if someone stumbles onto the IP address?”

 

“Wouldn’t matter. The feed is scrambled.”

 

~~~

 

3200 Block of Rosario St.

Thursday, June 5, 1997

 

A call from the satellite office in Chattanooga, Tennessee let the agents know another call had been placed from the same pay phone in Albuquerque. Scully and Logan reviewed the surveillance camera feed on the blonde’s laptop and were able to cross-reference the time of the call to identify the caller… sort of.

 

The camera picked up what was presumably woman using the phone at the time of the call to Chattanooga. However, due to the angle and the hat she wore tugged down to help hide her face, they had little to go on.

 

Scully peered at the phone and read the number on the dingy label. “This is it,” she said, scanning the area.

 

Logan slowly turned in a circle. Through her dark sunglasses she took in the rather busy area: the Starbucks coffeehouse, the national bank branch, the ubiquitous convenience store/gas station, the corner bar, the small shopping center, and the four apartment complexes. The caller could have come from anywhere.

 

“Well, I suppose we’ll just have to go door to door,” Scully sighed, feeling a little overwhelmed at the daunting task. She looked at Logan who stood motionless, giving no indication she’d even heard Scully speak. The redhead opened her mouth to say something, but was cut off by the blonde.

 

“Or we can go in there.”

 

Scully looked in the direction Logan was facing. “Where? The strip mall? You think the caller works there rather than lives in the area?” she asked as she made a gesture in the general direction of the apartment buildings. “Come on, let’s get something to eat and we talk about how we’ll get help from the local authorities.”

 

“Can we go into that store first?” The blonde nodded her head towards a store.

 

“You mean that one?” Scully pointed.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Scully examined the words painted on the store’s plate glass: THE HEALING EARTH. She barely fought the urge to roll her eyes. Why does she have to do something so Mulderesque? Rather than fight it, Scully reluctantly decided to just humor the woman. “Okay,” she sighed, and followed the blonde across the parking lot.

 

Logan reached for the door but it suddenly swung open. A tall, blonde man came to stop and flashed a bright white smile. “Well, hello.” He held the door open for the women, but his eyes never left Logan’s ass.

 

Scully rolled her eyes and Logan smirked.

 

“Don’t mind him; Jason’s harmless,” said the woman straightening out a display. “What can I do for you today?” she asked with a smile.

 

They both flipped out their badges.

 

“I’m Special Agent Dana Scully and this is Special Agent Nicole Logan. We’re with the FBI.”

 

The woman paled, her eyes widening. Short, heavy set with dark hair and eyes, the woman was suddenly a bundle of nerves.

 

“We’d just like to ask you a few questions.”

 

“Uh… okay.”

 

Since it was Logan who’d wanted to come into the store, Scully looked at the blonde, letting her know it was her show.

 

“What’s your name?” Logan asked with a slight smile, trying to get the woman to calm down.

 

“Crystal… Crystal Lear. But some people call me CC.”

 

Logan’s smile widened and she leaned in conspiratorially, speaking softly, “Let me guess, your parents were flower children and your middle name is Chanda.”

 

To Scully’s dismay, the Miss Lear laughed out loud. “How did you know?”

 

“A woman named Crystal who sells healing crystals? It just seemed to fit.”

 

Scully wanted to smack herself – she hadn’t given Logan enough credit. The woman was good, breaking the ice and putting Lear at ease like that. She stood back in amazement as she observed the two women chitchatting about crystals, chakras, auras, and whatnot.

 

Lear placed a clear crystal in Logan’s open palm, closing the blonde’s hand around the crystal. “Now just relax and clear your mind.”

 

Logan took a slow, deep breath.

 

Lear sucked in a soft gasp. “I’ve never seen an aura like yours!”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

It took a few seconds for Lear to answer. “It keeps changing, morphing from one color to the next. Deep red, royal blue, violet, gold,” she looked surprised, “and white,” she added.

 

“And what does that mean?”

 

“Deep red – strong-willed and survival-oriented; royal blue – clairvoyant and a highly spiritual nature; violet – intuitive, idealistic, artistic, and magical; gold – protection, wisdom, and divine guidance.”

 

“And white?”

 

“Spiritual, purity, truth,” she paused for a couple of beats, “and angelic qualities.”

 

Logan immediately broke out in laughter. “That’s something I’ve certainly never been accused of – especially by my mother.” She opened her hand and held the crystal out to her partner. “Your turn,” she said with an amused smirk.

 

Scully was taken aback. She had no desire to partake in such nonsense.

 

“Come on, Scully, what have you got to lose?” Logan challenge with a twinkle in her eye.

 

Reluctantly, the redhead took the clear crystal. “Why is it necessary that I hold this crystal for you to read my aura?” she asked.

 

“It’s not necessary, but the crystal helps to temporarily strengthen your aura, making it easier to read. Just relax.”

 

Scully looked at Logan and sighed, clearly not thrilled or wanting to encourage such silliness, but not giving voice to her objections.

 

“Oh.”

 

“What is it?” Logan asked Lear.

 

“Your aura is mixed, pastels with dark grey, Agent Scully. It shows a need for serenity and…”

 

“And what?”

 

“Health problems. Are you currently ill, Agent Scully?”

 

Scully blanched and practically tossed the crystal back to Logan. “I’ll be outside.” She turned and walked out of the store.

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset your partner, Agent Logan.”

 

~~~

 

Scully had calmed down a little by the time Logan exited the store. The blonde stood next to her.

 

“You okay?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“I’m hungry, let’s go get something to eat.”

 

“Okay.”

 

~~~

 

Part 3

 

Mama Flo’s Diner

Thursday, June 5, 1997

 

“I’m really sorry about what happened back at–”

 

“Forget it,” Scully said, cutting Logan off. Her tone made it clear she didn’t want to discuss the matter. “So, did you find out anything?” she asked as she took another bite of her turkey club sandwich.

 

“Quite a few things. First off, her name isn’t Crystal Lear.”

 

“What makes you say that?”

 

“Come on. Crystal Chanda Lear? It’s a joke. Like Rose Budd, Paige Turner, Ann B. Dexterous, or Eileen Dover. I assure you, that woman’s name is not Crystal Lear. If you want, I’ll run a check on her when we get back to the hotel.”

 

“What else did you learn?”

 

“She made the phone calls.”

 

An auburn brow arched skeptically. “She told you?”

 

“No, but it was her.”

 

“How do you know that?”

 

“Her eyes.”

 

“What?”

 

“It was in her manner, the way her expression changed, the look in her eyes.”

 

“I didn’t notice anything.”

 

“With all due respect, you were outside,” Logan said in a gentle and nonjudgmental tone.

 

Scully took a slow breath and looked at the blonde across the table from her. Logan was a mystery – and displayed too damn many traits in common with Mulder. “So let me get this straight. The only thing we had to go on to identify the caller was a hat that completely covered her face. We went to the payphone and after only a quick look around, you decide to go into a store and talk with the clerk for a few minutes, after which you’ve decided she’s our caller even though she didn’t admit it.”

 

Logan simply smiled.

 

“Is this the way you always handle a murder investigation? Jump to a conclusion and only then look for evidence to support your theory?” Like Mulder always did.

 

The blonde was a little taken aback by the venom in her partner’s voice. She didn’t know where it was coming from. She frowned. “Normally I don’t get to flash a badge and have pleasant conversations with nice people.” Logan sat back with sigh. She continued in a soft voice, but there was a new timbre to it that Scully hadn’t heard before.

 

“I usually work undercover. Have you worked undercover before? Do you know what it’s like being around a bunch of sadistic degenerates whose favorite pastimes include raping women and selling children, killing them? Or how about the ones who take pleasure in seeing how long they can take to completely bleed out a woman’s body to the last drop while bathing themselves in the blood? I’ve had to gather information and determine the truth any way I can to solve cases, to stay alive. I’d had to use all my senses and listen to my instincts because I’ve been completely alone with no backup.”

 

Scully started to say something, but Logan wasn’t finished.

 

“Let me tell you something about me, Agent Scully. I know how to pay attention; to not just look, but see; to not just hear, but listen; to not just touch, but feel. I know when someone’s afraid, and when they’re hiding something. I may not be the most experienced agent in this kind of investigation, but I’m very good at what I do, at reading people. I’m telling you that Ms. Lear made those phone calls.”

 

Scully was silent, digesting not only Logan’s words but her very presence. The blonde never raised her voice or appeared anything other than completely calm and professional. Suddenly Scully realized she had completely prejudged Logan, or more correctly misjudged her. The woman sitting across from her was not a young, inexperienced agent, which was the mental picture Scully had already formed of her. She had done Logan a disservice. She felt a shiver run along her spine as she remembered that moment when they met and she noticed the blonde’s dark green eyes – sensing they saw things others didn’t. There was more to Nicole Logan than she had bothered to see. She looked into the blonde’s eyes.

 

“So, can you always tell if someone is lying?”

 

“Most people give themselves away – something in the eyes – but you have to be looking to see it. It wasn’t that difficult with Ms. Lear. Her pupils dilated, her heart rate spiked, and her hand was damp with a slight tremble when I shook her hand to leave – very different from when she placed the crystal in my palm for her little demonstration.” Not to mention I could smell the fear rolling off of her.

 

Scully’s eyebrow went up in surprise. “Her heart rate?”

 

Logan tapped the side of her own neck. “Pulse point.”

 

Scully was very impressed with Logan’s observations. They were valid and precise. The blonde wasn’t just jumping to unfounded conclusions; she was using valid investigative techniques. “So what do you suggest we do next?”

 

“If you agree, I’d like to have another talk with Ms. Lear, alone.”

 

“When?”

 

“Tonight.”

 

Scully pinned the blonde with a look. “You’ve already arranged to meet her, haven’t you?”

 

“Just the option, nothing concrete.”

 

“Do you really think you’ll get any more out of her if you meet with her again?”

 

“I’d like to give her the chance.”

 

Scully pondered the matter for a several seconds. “Alright, but you check in with me before you go in to meet with her and as soon as you leave.”

 

“Of course.”

 

~~~

 

Crystal Lear’s Apartment

 

Logan parked in front of Crystal Lear’s apartment building and pulled out her phone, calling to let her partner know she was ready to go in.

 

Lear let the blonde in, though it was obvious she was nervous.

 

“Thank you for meeting with me, Ms. Lear.”

 

“Y-You can call me Crystal, Agent Logan.”

 

The blonde smiled. “Crystal, you know why I’m here, right?”

 

“You want me to read your aura again?”

 

“No. I really need to talk to you about the phone calls; they’re related to some murders.”

 

Crystal paled. “I’m not a suspect, am I?”

 

“No, of course not.” Logan locked eyes with the woman. “But you do know about them before they happen. Tell me how.”

 

Lear felt confused and disoriented, but compelled to explain. “I-I see them… in visions.”

 

“Do you know who the killer is?”

 

“No. I only see what he does, never him.”

 

“How do you know it’s a man?”

 

“His hands.”

 

Logan nodded in understanding.

 

“You believe me, don’t you?” she asked in a surprised tone.

 

“Yes, Crystal, I do.” Logan took out one of her cards and handed it to her. “You don’t have to make anonymous phone calls anymore. The next time you have one of your visions call me. That’s my cell number.”

 

Lear looked unsure.

 

“With your help we can stop this guy, Crystal.”

 

~~~

 

Ramada Inn

Chattanooga, TN

Friday, June 6, 1997

 

Since there wasn’t anything more the agents could learn in Albuquerque, they flew to Chattanooga on Friday, where they met with Agent Max Cogley. He brought them up to speed with the four murders, including the one from Thursday that Ms. Lear had called about.

 

Scully went to the morgue to perform the autopsy while Logan went to the crime scenes with Cogley. They discussed the case over takeout in Scully’s hotel room.

 

Scully was hungrier than usual, which pleased her. When looking into the mirror she couldn’t deny that that the outline of her ribs was becoming much more distinct. Her face was gaunt and she’d lost more than a little of her physical strength, as demonstrated by her daily exhaustion and her inability to perform an autopsy without taking a number of breaks. The cancer, her treatment, and even Mulder’s suicide were all taking a toll. Her clothes were looser and she was as pale as death.

 

So it was a welcome change to have a more normal appetite. Perhaps it had something to do with being away from home, and no treatment sessions since Monday. If nothing else, the current case had taken her mind off of Mulder. Well, except when Logan was acting too much like Mulder. Finding the caller in Albuquerque without talking to more than one person was uncanny, and very Mulder-like.

 

Scully shook her head to clear her thoughts.

 

“What?”

 

“We should talk to the families and friends of the victims tomorrow.”

 

Logan sighed but nodded. Her reticence wasn’t lost on her partner.

 

“What’s wrong, Logan?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

Scully didn’t believe the blonde, but she decided to let it pass. It wasn’t like she was willing to share all of her thoughts with Logan.

 

~~~

 

Saturday, June 7, 1997

 

Logan’s cell phone woke her up at 1:45 in the morning. Crystal Lear had had another vision. She turned on the light on the nightstand and wrote down what Lear described to her. It wasn’t a lot to go on, but they had to try. Logan got up and grabbed her clothes, knocking on the adjoining door to Scully’s room on her way to the bathroom.

 

“Scully! We got another call from Crystal Lear.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Just as they got into the car Scully’s cell phone rang. It was Agent Cogley letting them know they had another murder. They exchanged a look and Scully started the car.

 

~~~

 

Montclair Apartments

Apt #14

 

Scully and Logan took in the crime scene and the body on the bedroom floor.

 

“Her name is Darcy Huffaker. According to the ME she’s been dead about an hour,” said Agent Cogley.

 

Logan looked at her watch. “So Crystal didn’t call until afterwards.”

 

“Do you think she didn’t find out about this one until after the fact,” Scully asked.

 

Logan shook her head. “Actually, I think it has more to do with fear.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Now that we’ve talked to her and she knows the murders are real, it’s scary.”

 

“You talking about the suspect that’s been calling?” asked Cogley.

 

“She’s not a suspect,” Logan declared.

 

Scully wasn’t at all convinced the woman knew about the murders because she had visions. She suspected someone was passing the information along by much more conventional means, but she didn’t say anything to contradict the blonde in front of the locals. She nodded at the scene. “Tell me what you see, Logan.”

 

“Ligature marks indicate she was bound, possibly with zip-ties based on the size of the marks. The room shows signs of struggle, yet nothing is broken, so it was short-lived and he overpowered her quickly. No one heard her yells, so she was probably gagged. Since there’s no sign of struggle anywhere else in the apartment she invited him into the bedroom. Despite the fact that she was bound he beat her mercilessly. I’d say he has a lot of rage. There’s no sexual assault, so he could be impotent – a possible source of his rage.” She looked around the room. “The only pictures on display are of her family; none of a boyfriend or girlfriend. Her computer is set up in her bedroom, there are takeout menus in the nightstand drawer, no makeup or perfume on the dresser, only the most basic jewelry – a ring and a necklace – so she’s not one to go out and meet people. The victim led a very solitary life. She probably worked from home. I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually met our killer online.”

 

Cogley looked at her surprised. “She did work from home. She worked for a customer service call center as a telecommuter.”

 

“Not from this computer though. This is her personal space. She has to have another computer.”

 

“The smaller second bedroom is set up as an office,” Cogley verified.

 

~~~

 

Ramada Inn

 

Scully went with the body to perform the autopsy while Logan went to the FBI satellite office and began going through Darcy Huffaker’s computer trying to track her life and how she could have met the killer.

 

Once Logan tracked Huffaker’s online activities and found the logs of her chats with someone called Gumby_37 she put in a request for a subpoena to obtain information from the ISP. When she was finished she returned to the hotel. Scully arrived only a few minutes later. It was almost 5:00 in the morning.

 

Scully tapped on the adjoining door, which they now kept unlocked, and stuck her head in. “You still up?”

 

Logan sighed as she looked up from her laptop and leaned back in her chair. “Yeah. I’m trolling through the websites and chat rooms that Darcy did. What were the autopsy findings?”

 

“Nothing different from the others. Darcy Huffaker’s death was consistent with the previous victims. There was some alcohol in her system – .04 BAC. What about you? What did you find out?”

 

“Darcy had a date last night with Gumby_37.”

 

Gumby?”

 

Logan smirked. “His online username. I’ve requested a subpoena for the ISP; see if we can track him down. In the meantime, I’m trying to see if I can hook up with him online.”

 

“He sounds like our best lead.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Well, I’m going to try to get a couple of hours of sleep. Let’s meet up at 9:00 to start the day.”

 

“Sounds good.”

 

“Goodnight, Logan,” she said with a tired, thin, partial smile.

 

~~~

 

The two agents had spent all day interviewing grieving friends and relatives of Darcy Huffaker, and the previous victims. They finished around 8:00 that evening.

 

Despite the lack of sleep from doing an autopsy in the middle of the night, Scully was surprised to find she felt better than usual. She was emotionally exhausted from their interviews, but physically she felt stronger than she had in some time. It had started the day after she’d gotten so sick in Albuquerque. Since then her appetite had improved and she didn’t feel as fatigued.

 

Scully had taken a hot bath and changed into her pajamas. She was sitting on her bed reading when there was a knock on the adjoining door. The door was open, but Logan waited a couple of seconds before stepping around it. She was wearing shorts, a tank top, and running shoes.

 

“I’m going for a run.”

 

Scully didn’t like the dull look in the blonde’s eyes. “Are you sure? You look tired.” It was after 9:00 and she knew Logan had been up since before 2:00 that morning.

 

“I need to.”

 

“You okay?”

 

Logan stiffened slightly. “I’m fine,” she said, her voice brittle. She turned and left.

 

Yeah, I’ve heard that one before, Scully thought to herself, remembering her own extensive series of ‘I’m fine’ lies.

 

~~~

 

Ramada Inn

Fitness Center

Sunday, June 8, 1997

 

A ringing cell phone woke her up. Groggily, Scully, groped for her phone on the nightstand. “Scully.” The phone rang again – it wasn’t hers. The ringing was coming from the other room. “Logan! Answer your phone.”

 

The phone continued to ring.

 

Scully got out of bed and walked into the blonde’s room. She found the phone and silenced it as she noted the absence of Logan. Her bed was untouched. It was 2:00 in the morning and Scully knew the blonde had been up since the phone call the night before. She returned to her room and pulled on some jeans and a sweatshirt over her pajamas. Out of habit she slipped her gun in the waist of her jeans and slipped her credentials in her back pocket. With her room key in hand, she left in search of her coworker.

 

Downstairs she headed to the lobby, but something caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. She stopped at the door to the fitness room and watched Logan through the glass. The blonde was working out on the Nautilus equipment as if her life depended on it, almost in a frenzy. Logan had removed her tank top and was wearing a sports bra. An auburn eyebrow arched as Scully took in the sculpted muscles of Logan’s arms, legs, and abdomen. The woman was clearly fit while still maintaining a decidedly feminine physique.

 

Suddenly the blonde stopped. She moved to the wall, leaned against it, and slowly slid down to the floor. Scully felt a pang of pain at the misery she saw in the blonde’s dark green eyes before Logan covered her face with her hands. It was obvious the woman was crying.

 

Scully hesitated before reaching out and pushing open the door. She sat on the floor next to Logan and leaned against the wall, their shoulders a hairsbreadth from touching. She could feel the heat radiating from Logan’s body. Scully felt an almost overwhelming sorrow, as if the blonde’s pain was drawing her own buried heartbreak to the surface. Her father was gone, her sister was gone, her partner was gone… and soon enough she would be gone. So why should she go out of her way for anyone? She mentally shook that thought loose.

 

Logan leaned her head back against the wall, a few straggling tears slowly rolling down her face.

 

Scully placed her hand over Logan’s and gave it a squeeze.

 

“I guess you’ve discovered my secret.” The blonde wiped the tears from her cheeks. “Other people’s personal pain… gets to me.” Which is one reason I prefer the dark of night, fighting non-human things. Their pain can’t touch my soul. But human, good humans’ pain can, including yours, Dana.

 

“In our job we see the worst of humanity, but we also see humanity’s best qualities – in the way people persevere and even flourish following tragedy. What we did today, speaking with the family and friends of the victims, it hurts, all of us, including me. But it’s our job to help the families by giving them answers and by stopping the perpetrators from hurting more families.”

 

“I know.” Logan paused before continuing. “And we both know what that kind of pain feels like first hand.”

 

Scully felt tears sting her eyes; she fought to keep them from spilling. “Yes, we do.” The memory of Missy’s death caused a painful lump to grow in her throat. It took a few seconds for her to be able to swallow around it.

 

“I’m sorry. I never meant for you to see me like this.”

 

“There’s no need to apologize, Logan.” Scully hesitated only a few moments before continuing. “We’re partners. Which means we’re here for each other.”

 

Logan looked at Scully for the first time. “You know I’ve got your back, Dana. I mean, neither of us chose this, but I would never leave a partner hanging.”

 

Scully nodded. “Yeah, I know. You’ve already shown me that.”

 

The blonde frowned, not knowing what her partner was talking about.

 

“You covered for me when I was sick. Just as you helped me last week, it’s now my turn to help you. It’s late and you’ve been going for over 24 hours now. So come on, let’s go back to our rooms to get some sleep.” Scully stood and held a hand out to the blonde.

 

It was a symbolic gesture since Logan could have easily toppled Scully if she really pulled on her hand. But she took the proffered hand and rose from the floor.

 

“Thanks, Scully.”

 

“You’re welcome.”

 

The redhead picked Logan’s tank top off one of the machines and tossed it to her partner. They returned to their room and both women slept well the rest of the night.

 

~~~

 

Ramada Inn

Scully’s Room

 

Scully couldn’t believe the bright-eyed, professional woman standing before her was the same brokenhearted one from only a few hours before.

 

“Ready?” the blonde asked.

 

Feeling ready to face the day, Scully smiled. “Let’s go.”

 

~~~

 

FBI Satellite Office

Chattanooga, TN

 

Special Agent Cogley stood as soon as Scully and Logan entered the office. “The subpoena you requested came through.”

 

“So who is Gumby?” Scully asked.

 

“We don’t know. The information provided by the ISP proved to be completely false.” He paused for a beat. “As did the six other identities associated with Gumby’s account.”

 

Two eyebrows, one auburn and one blonde, quirked upward.

 

“But there are two pieces of good news.”

 

“What?”

 

“The Gumby ID has gone inactive, but we do have the records of his chats linking him to Darcy Huffaker. And, we have his currently active ID – Red Ryder,” he said, handing a file to the redhead.

 

Scully opened the file. “Gumby_37, Red_Ryder_14, Radio_Flyer_42, Raggedy_Andy_63, Slinky_Dog_3, Curious_George_51, Potato_Head_28.”

 

“This guy’s into nostalgic toys. Maybe he’s in the toy business. I’ll check out any websites that sell nostalgic toys and chat rooms I can find that cater to collectors.” The blonde settled at a desk, opened her laptop, and began searching online.

 

Logan had been able to make contact with Raggedy_Andy_63. She was also able to arrange a face to face meeting, over lunch, the next day.

 

~~~

 

The Choo-Choo Grill

Monday, June 9, 1997

 

The blonde sat at the table and waited… and waited. Scully and Cogley sat at a nearby table, dragging out their own lunch as long as possible while keeping an eye on everyone in the café.

 

Two and half hours past the designated meeting time they finally gave up. The three agents left the café and spoke for a few minutes in the parking lot. Cogley indicated that they had a possible lead – an assault victim whose attack seemed to fit the MO of the killer. It was decided that he and Scully would follow up on that interview while Logan went back online to see if she could make contact again and possibly find out why ‘Andy’ didn’t show. It was late afternoon, so Logan was going to just go back to the hotel and work from her room.

 

Scully rode with Cogley and Logan drove away in their rental. Lost in thought, the blonde didn’t notice the car that followed her from the café to the hotel.

 

~~~

 

Ridgewood Apartments

Apt #8

 

“Miss Getzler, can you tell us how you met Curious_George_51?” Agent Cogley asked.

 

“It’s so embarrassing,” the young woman replied, dropping her gaze and blushing.

 

Scully sat down next to the woman on the couch and spoke softly. “It’s alright, Miss Getzler, no one is here to judge you.”

 

Wendy Getzler glanced at Cogley, her discomfort plain to see. In an effort to make the young woman more comfortable, Cogley excused himself to use the bathroom. As soon as he left the room Wendy began to talk.

 

“My sister and I loved Curious George as kids and now my niece is at that age and inherited a love for Curious George. I met George in a chat room when I was looking for some hard to find Curious George books to complete my niece’s collection. He seemed like such a nice man. Anyway, after chatting with him online for some time he suggested we meet in person.” She paused before continuing.

 

“What happened?”

 

“Despite how nice he seemed, I was hesitant to meet in person. But then he said he’d found two of the books I was looking for, so I broke down and agreed to meet him for lunch.”

 

“What did he look like?”

 

Wendy shrugged. “I don’t know. I didn’t make the meeting. I had forgotten about another obligation that I couldn’t get out of. The next time we chatted online he said he was very disappointed, but was willing to try again. I felt bad about it, so I let him pick the time and place. He chose a really nice restaurant, an expensive one. When I got to the restaurant there was a message saying he’d been delayed a few minutes. And he’d ordered a nice bottle of wine, telling me to enjoy some while I waited.” She sighed. “He never showed up, and I got stuck paying for the wine.”

 

“So he showed up at your apartment?”

 

“I don’t know. In truth, I can’t positively say if it was him. All I know is I answered the door and someone hit me. Knocked me out. When I came to, the paramedics were checking me out. A friend of mine had come over to see me. She said my door was slightly ajar when she arrived so she came in to check on me. She was knocked over by some guy rushing out of my bedroom – she never got a good look at him. I never heard from him after that night.”

 

“How did he know where you lived?”

 

“If it was him, I can only guess that he followed me home. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help, Agent Scully.”

 

“No need to apologize, Miss Getzler. You’ve been quite helpful.”

 

~~~

 

En route To FBI Satellite Office

 

“So what did Miss Getzler have to say?” Cogley asked as he drove back to the office.

 

“She never got a look at her attacker. A friend arrived and interrupted him. He fled without being caught.”

 

“How did she meet him?”

 

“Online – looking for books for her niece. They set up a lunch but she couldn’t make it, so they tried again with dinner.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“He never showed.”

 

“Then how did he know where she lived?”

 

“She thinks he may have…” her voice trailed off as realization struck her. “Get us to the hotel, now!”

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“Getzler thought he may have followed her home from the restaurant after he didn’t show up for their dinner.”

 

Cogley just looked at her.

 

“Logan! He could have followed Logan back to the hotel!”

 

~~~

 

Part 4

 

Ramada Inn

Logan’s Room

Monday, June 9, 1997

 

Logan immediately got online when she returned to her hotel room. Besides trying to make contact with her missing ‘date,’ she set up another username to try and draw out their suspect under one of his other usernames.

 

When there was a knock on her door she was in the middle of a chat with someone.

 

“Scully?”

 

She took the quiet, muffled voice on the other side of the door as confirmation. With her attention on her computer screen, she didn’t bother to look through the peephole. She simply turned the handle without thought and immediately returned her full attention to her computer as she took a step back to the small table.

 

She didn’t get very far.

 

Once she’d turned the handle unlocking the door, it was kicked open with enough force to almost knock her out when it hit the side of her head and threw her against the wall. A dark-haired man burst in. He said something, but Logan couldn’t make it out through the ringing in her head. She clumsily reached for the weapon at the small of her back, but he drew back his arm and landed a hard punch in her already swelling left eye. Logan saw stars as the blow knocked her head into the wall again. It took everything she had to not black out. She kicked blindly, connecting with his shin.

 

“You fucking bitch!”

 

Logan once again tried for her weapon but the man threw his body against hers, slamming her against the wall and ramming her head into the wall yet again. Two more punches to her face and she was bleeding from her nose and the corner of her left eye. A knee to her midriff dropped her to her knees. With Logan on her hands and knees, he took the gun from the holster at the small of her back and then viciously kicked her in the stomach.

 

“As much as I’d love to blow your brains out, your gun would make too much noise.”

 

He grabbed her by the hair and dragged her towards the bed. When he threw her onto the bed Logan grabbed for her briefcase from where it lay on the bed and swung it at him. Her instinctive action caught him by surprise. He touched his hand to his cheek to find she’d drawn blood.

 

“Now you’re going to pay!”

 

Fighting to stay conscious, Logan barely managed to use the briefcase as a shield when he lunged at her with a large knife, landing on her and pinning her to the bed. As they struggled Logan managed to wrest the briefcase from between them, tossing it away and taking with it the knife imbedded in it.

 

“I don’t need a knife to take care of a bitch like you!” He punched her again on the left side of her face and then wrapped his hands around her throat.

 

On the verge of passing out, Logan managed a sharp knee to his groin. He let go of her neck as he toppled over and onto the floor, both hands belatedly guarding his privates. Logan tried to move but darkness was taking over. She managed to roll over and slip to the floor on her knees. One eye already swollen shut, her vision was blurry as she tried to look around for her gun. She was hit from behind and into the small table, knocking it over. Her arms were pulled and twisted around her back. She winced as a zip-tie tightened around her wrists and dug in. An arm around her throat dragged her backwards and onto the bed.

 

In a last ditch effort before losing consciousness she jerked her head back, hearing, and feeling, the satisfying crunch of a broken nose. He grabbed the clock radio from the nightstand and smashed it against the side of her face. She went completely limp. He finally let her go, but only to retrieve his knife still stuck in the side of her briefcase. Smiling, he knelt on the bed and raised the knife.

 

Suddenly the door to Logan’s hotel room burst open. He looked up to see Scully and Cogley.

 

“FBI! Freeze!” Scully yelled.

 

He grabbed Logan by the neck again, moving behind her and using her as a shield. His knife pressed against the skin of her throat, drawing a thin bead of blood and threatening to do more with the slightest provocation. “You’re too late!” he sneered.

 

“Drop the knife!”

 

“No. You drop your guns, or I’ll slit the bitch’s throat!”

 

Scully saw her partner’s eyes flutter open for a moment, but the blonde had the good sense to remain still. There was no mistaking the madness in the man’s eyes. Scully knew her partner’s life was in her hands. She couldn’t miss. She exhaled and then squeezed the trigger.

 

The dark-haired man fell back, a bullet hole in the center of his forehead. His knife hand fell away from Logan’s throat, but not without inflicting a deeper cut. Cogley rushed forward, verifying the perp was dead and calling for an ambulance. Scully ran to the bed and knelt next to the still form of her partner and pressed her hand against the cut on Logan’s throat. Looking down at her beaten and bloodied partner made her heart ache and tears sting the backs of her eyes. She’d known the blonde less than two weeks, but she couldn’t bear the thought of losing another person in her life.

 

A soft moan preceded the blonde’s undamaged right eye fluttering open.

 

“Easy, don’t move.” Scully took her partner’s hand in her own, giving it a squeeze. “It’s okay, Nicole, you’re going to be okay.”

 

“Dana?” she asked weakly.

 

“Yes, I’m right here. Hold on, Nicole, the ambulance is on the way.”

 

“Mm… ‘kay.” Her right eye closed. She spoke again after a few seconds. “Dana?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Thanks,” Logan murmured before passing out.

 

“You’re welcome, partner,” Scully whispered and squeezed the hand in hers.

 

~~~

 

Parkridge East Hospital

Chattanooga, TN

Monday, June 9, 1997

 

Nicole Logan awoke to the distinct smell of a hospital and the equally distinct feeling of a concussion and heavy drugs. Her eye was no longer completely swollen shut and as she tried to swallow she felt the tug of butterfly stitches on her neck. She tried to reach for the cup of water on the bed table, but the movement made her head swim and her stomach roll.

 

Scully, who’d fallen asleep in the chair, jumped up at the moan that came from the blonde. She stood beside the bed and looked down at her partner. “Hey, how you doing?”

 

Logan took in Scully’s appearance – the blue scrubs and the weariness in her eyes. “I’m alive, so…” she croaked past her dry throat and mouth.

 

The redhead nodded. “Turns out you’re pretty hardheaded.” Scully tenderly felt around the swelling on the side of the blonde’s face. “You’re lucky all you’ve got is a bad concussion and a fairly minor cut on your throat.” She then held the glass of water to her partner’s lips so Logan could take a couple of sips.

 

“What happened?”

 

“You were attacked. What do you remember about it?”

 

Logan closed her eyes with a sigh. “I was online, heard a knock…”

 

“Anything else?” Scully asked when the blonde trailed off.

 

“I royally fucked up.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Being back here, not working undercover, I dropped my guard too much, got careless. I allowed myself to be distracted and didn’t follow basic procedure.” Logan opened her eyes and looked up at her partner. “I thought it was you at the door; I didn’t look.”

 

Scully didn’t miss the self-recrimination in the blonde’s dark green eyes. Nothing she could say would be worse than what her partner was already telling herself. Besides, she knew what it was like to make a mistake. She put her hand over Logan’s and gave it a squeeze. “It’s okay. We both know it’s a mistake you won’t repeat.” She paused, taking in the blonde’s drooping eyes. “It’s late; get some sleep. If you need anything, I’ll be right here.”

 

The drugs in Logan’s system finally pulled her back under.

 

~~~

 

Tuesday, June 10, 1997

 

It was midmorning when Logan next woke.

 

Scully was still sitting in the chair, reading a file. The redhead looked up when she heard the rustling of the sheet. “Good morning,” she said with a smile.

 

“It’s morning anyway.” The blonde recognized the file as a case file. “What are you reading?”

 

“Agent Cogley’s report on the man that attacked you.”

 

“What does it say?”

 

“Bottom line – he was Gumby.”

 

“He’s sure?”

 

Scully nodded. “There’s no doubt. He was our perp.”

 

“So the case is closed.”

 

“Yeah.” She paused for a beat. “There’s one other thing.”

 

“What?”

 

“Crystal Lear called your cell phone when we were in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“She wanted to thank us for stopping the killer. And to let you know she was leaving Albuquerque.”

 

“Undoubtedly changing her name in the process. Oh well, she was only an unwilling and innocent participant in all this.”

 

“You seem so sure of that.”

 

“I am.”

 

Scully still wasn’t totally convinced, but had nothing to dispute the point. Besides, the case was closed.

 

~~~

 

FBI Headquarters

Washington, DC

Monday, June 16, 1997

 

When Scully had dropped Logan off at her apartment Wednesday evening after returning from Chattanooga, she had specifically told the blonde to stay home until the following Wednesday. So when Logan walked into their office Monday morning, Scully was not happy.

 

“What are you doing here, Logan?”

 

“My job.”

 

“As your doctor, I told you to take a week off and not come in until Wednesday.”

 

Logan looked at Scully from behind dark sunglasses. “I’m fine.”

 

“You were severely beaten. You have a concussion and your eye was practically swollen shut.”

 

Logan sat down in her chair. “I already told you that I heal quickly and didn’t need to take a whole week off. I know my own body and what I am capable of. I’m here – deal with it.”

 

Scully sighed with exasperation. She could either argue about it, or get on with their day. She shook her head. “Fine. But I’m going to take a look at you,” she replied as she stood and walked over to the blonde. “Take your sunglasses off.”

 

Logan took off her sunglasses and turned her face upwards so the redhead could exam her eye. Scully’s heart broke when she looked at the damage done to the attractive woman. Although, she had to admit the swelling and bruising wasn’t nearly as bad as she had expected. She tenderly examined the blonde’s bruised nose and black eye, apologizing as Logan winced. “Sorry.”

 

“It’s okay. I know it looks bad, but I really do heal quickly. You’ll see.”

 

“Headaches?”

 

“Not really. I admit I’m not 100%, but I am able to work. I feel fine.” Actually, the blonde didn’t feel well at all, but not because of her head. Sitting at home she had been doing nothing but beating herself up over the exceedingly stupid mistake she’d made in Chattanooga. It had been so out of character for her. She really had let her guard down too far. Her assignment may not have been what she typically did, but it was no excuse to get sloppy.

 

Scully simply sighed and gave Logan’s shoulder a squeeze before returning to her desk. She didn’t want to stop and count the number of time she had returned to work before being 100%. Hell, you’re not a 100% now, her inner voice nagged.

 

~~~

 

Medical Examiner’s Office

Alexandria, VA

 

Scully had an autopsy to perform in Alexandria, VA for the local authorities that morning, so she soon left the basement office, leaving Logan to work on her official statement about the events in Chattanooga.

 

By the time the redhead finished, it was after lunchtime, but she wasn’t hungry. In the locker room she stripped off her scrubs and stepped under the shower, turning the water on as hot as she could stand and letting it run over her head and down the tight muscles in her neck and back.

 

Suddenly, tears that she’d suppressed for weeks defied her will and began streaming down her cheeks, mixing with the water and disappearing through the drain. Everything inside her was a morass of conflicting thoughts and emotions. She was full of sorrow, pain, confusion, doubt, and fear.

 

She was so tired. Tired of losing people and mourning them. Tired of making life and death decisions on the job. Tired of cutting open dead bodies. Tired of fearing her own death. Tired of fighting for her life.

 

She was dying. There was no denying it. There was nothing to look forward to. So why was she fighting it?

 

Scully turned her face upward and let the almost scalding water sluice away her tears and the tracks they left behind. She needed to get herself together and get back to the office. She wanted to check on Logan again to make sure she was alright. Scully was suddenly struck with the realization that she was looking forward to seeing the blonde again. Special Agent Nicole Logan was the only bright spot in her dreary world.

 

That thought took her completely by surprise. She’d met the blonde less than three weeks ago and barely knew the woman. For all she knew the Consortium had planted Logan in the department to spy on her. She sighed. Despite not knowing if she could really trust the blonde, Scully admitted to herself that she liked Logan. There was something about Logan she couldn’t put her finger on, but whatever it was it drew her to the woman.

 

She shook her head and finished her shower. She had an appointment she needed to get to before returning to the office.

 

~~~

 

FBI Headquarters

Washington, DC

 

Logan was reading when Scully returned to the office. When the door opened the blonde looked up and smiled. “So how did your autopsy go?”

 

“Routine. What are you reading?”

 

“Requests from the IN box. How do you feel about trying to stop a ghost from haunting a church? Or how about tracking down a chupacabra in New Mexico?”

 

Scully rolled her eyes. “Is there anything remotely worth investigating in either case?”

 

The blonde smirked. “Would it be sacrilegious to say no?”

 

“Sacrilegious? No. A refreshing change? Definitely,” she replied with a smile. She glanced at the clock. “Come on, Logan, let’s call it a day.” Even as Logan drew breath to object Scully continued. “I’m tired and I can tell from here that your eye is bothering you.”

 

Logan could tell from Scully’s tone that it wouldn’t do to argue the point, so she acquiesced. Besides it was only an hour until quitting time. “Alright.”

 

As they rode in the elevator Scully took a closer look at Logan. “Are you sure you’re okay to drive home?”

 

“I didn’t drive, I took the Metro.”

 

“I’ll give you a ride home.”

 

“Okay.”

 

~~~

 

Logan’s Apartment

 

On the way to Logan’s apartment, the blonde noticed that Scully appeared tense. There was a tightening around her eyes and mouth. Also, while stopped at an intersection, Scully had failed to notice the red light had changed to green. Logan had to prompt her partner to go. When it happened a second time she became worried.

 

“Scully? Are you okay?”

 

The redhead took a couple of slow, deep breaths. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

 

“There a 7-11 right up here on the right. Pull in there.”

 

Scully pulled into the convenience store parking lot and bolted from the car. Logan reached over to turn the car off and removed the keys. She then locked the car as she got out and followed her partner. She found Scully in the ladies bathroom kneeling in a stall and throwing up. When the redhead was done, Logan helped her to her feet and over to the sink. She was surprised to feel the sick woman lean against her heavily. The blonde turned on the water and wet a paper towel, handing it to her partner.

 

“Sorry…”

 

“It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. You think you’re ready to go?”

 

Scully nodded weakly. She didn’t object to the arm around her waist steadying her on the way back out to the car.

 

Logan settled her partner in the passenger side and then got behind the driver’s wheel. Scully passed out almost as soon as the blonde pulled out of the parking lot. At her apartment, Logan parked the car. It was obvious the redhead wasn’t in any shape to go anywhere, so Logan gently picked Scully up in her arms and carried her up to her apartment. She took the woman straight to her bedroom and laid her on the bed. She didn’t know how long Scully was going to be out of it, so she decided to make her as comfortable as possible. Logan got out a t-shirt and shorts. She carefully changed Scully out of her clothes and into the t-shirt and shorts. She then pulled the covers over the redhead.

 

Logan stopped and petted the white cat who had watched the whole procedure from the foot of the bed. “Keep an eye on her for me, Lyssa. I’ll be in the other room.”

 

The cat meowed her understanding.

 

Logan went into her office and turned on her computer. While the system booted up, she placed a call.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Thea, it’s Nicole.”

 

“Hi! How are you?”

 

“I’m okay. But I need your help, Thea.”

 

“You’re kidding! What happened to the whole ‘I work alone’ bit?”

 

Logan closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose as she sighed. “You know that I work best alone when I’m hunting. This is different. This whole assignment is different,” she added with another sigh. “I need your help, Thea. Will you do it?”

 

“You know I will,” came the sincere reply.

 

“How soon can you come to DC?”

 

“You’re in the States?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Believe it or not, I’m already here. I had a meeting about a software program I wrote for a Beltway company.”

 

Logan couldn’t believe her luck. “That’s great. Are you doing anything tonight?”

 

“Other than ordering expensive room service and relaxing, no.”

 

“Then I need to meet with you. I need your expert skills.”

 

“Hacking or witchcraft?”

 

“Both.”

 

“Sounds interesting. Come to my hotel and I’ll order us both an expensive dinner from room service.”

 

“I’m afraid I can’t, Thea. I need you to come to my apartment.” She gave Thea the address and they ended the call. Logan started a search online, but Lyssa soon came into the room and meowed at her. “What is it, Lyssa?”

 

She meowed again.

 

Logan got up and hurried into the bedroom where she found Scully trying to sit up, looking disoriented. “Easy does it, Dana. Just relax.” She moved to her partner’s side.

 

“Where…”

 

“You’re at my place. You fell asleep in the car after we stopped, so I brought you here.”

 

Scully’s expression turned green and it was clear she was about to throw up. There was no time to get her to the bathroom so Logan quickly grabbed the wastebasket and held Scully as she leaned over the side of the bed, supporting her weight easily. After Scully’s stomach finished contracting, Logan gently helped her partner to lie back on some pillows. She went to the bathroom and returned with a clean, wet washcloth and a glass of water. She tenderly wiped Scully’s face.

 

The redhead took a sip of water. “I should go home.”

 

“You’re not in shape to go anywhere. Get some sleep. You can go when you feel better.”

 

Despite her will, Scully didn’t have the strength to argue. She was asleep as soon as her eyes closed. Logan left her alone.

 

It didn’t seem more than a few minutes before there was a knock on Logan’s door. She opened it to find Thea Wickersham there smiling. They greeted each other with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

 

“It’s so good to see you, Nicole.”

 

“It’s good to see you, too.”

 

The petite brunette took a good look at her. “What happened to you?” Thea asked, lightly touching the bruising on the side of Nicole’s face.

 

“It looks a lot worse than it really is.”

 

“Then why haven’t you healed?”

 

“It happened in front of my partner, and she’s a doctor. If I heal too quickly she’d get suspicious. Come on in and make yourself comfortable.”

 

“So what can I help you with this evening?”

 

“Have a seat, Thea. I’ll tell you over some food.”

 

Logan quickly made them a light meal and they talked as they ate.

 

“So you think someone actually gave her cancer? Is that even possible?” Thea asked.

 

“We’ve both seen stranger things, Thea. What I need to know is if it was done magically or not. I have to know how to fight it. If it’s magic we have to find a way to break the spell. If it’s not magic, then I need to fight it organically.”

 

The brunette nodded in understanding and agreement.

 

“And, Thea, she doesn’t believe in magic, so can you check her while she’s asleep?”

 

“Yes. It’s a simple spell to see if magic has been used to make her sick.”

 

“Do you need anything special?”

 

“No.”

 

Logan took Thea to her bedroom where Scully was sleeping. Thea was struck with how pale and gaunt the redhead appeared. She centered herself and recited the spell. There was no indication of magic in use. They quietly left the bedroom.

 

“Magic isn’t what’s making her sick, Nicole.”

 

The blonde nodded and they returned to her office. “To be honest, I didn’t think magic was the cause. I’ve been researching her cancer and the treatments for it ever since the first time she got sick after her treatment. And things aren’t adding up the way they should. When we’re out of town on a case, there’s a marked improvement in her health. Her coloring, her appetite, her stamina, everything. But when we’re in town she’s worse. And while her reaction to the treatment is not particularly unusual, the timing is – she shouldn’t be getting so sick from it immediately afterwards. It should take a few hours or more before her body reacts so strongly.”

 

“So you think they’re doing something they shouldn’t be when she goes in for treatment.”

 

Nicole shrugged. “I don’t know. I just know something isn’t right.”

 

“You know, you haven’t been working with her very long, Nicole, and you’ve only been out of town on the one case with her. Her partner just recently committed suicide and she’s battling terminal cancer. That’s a lot to deal with, and maybe that’s all it is. God knows it’s enough for any one person to have to deal with.”

 

“I hear you, Thea, but my instinct says it’s more than that. There’s more going on here than meets the eye.”

 

Thea looked her hard for a moment. “You know something that you’re not telling me.”

 

“What I know is that if we don’t do anything Dana’s going to die, and I know it’s not her time.”

 

“Alright. Then let’s see what we can figure out.”

 

They got down to work at the computer in Logan’s office. Thea hacked into Scully’s medical records and printed them out for Nicole. She then downloaded everything she could find on Dr. Munson – including all personal and financial records. Once that was done, Logan gave Thea some other names and faces to track down. As Thea did that, the blonde started studying the thick stack of information they already had. About an hour later Thea interrupted Logan’s silent study.

 

“Nicole?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“Just who are these men?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“These guys are some really heavy hitters in business and politics. Very influential.”

 

“I know. They’re also on my take down list.”

 

Thea looked up at the blonde with surprise all over her face.

 

Logan looked up from her reading and met the brunette’s look. “Not all evil comes in the form of demons, werewolves, and black magic. Sometimes it’s just plain human.”

 

Thea was a little surprised by the tone she heard in her friend’s voice.

 

“These men are about as evil as they come.”

 

Thea nodded. “Okay. I’ll get you everything I can on these guys. There’s quite a bit in the public records. But I’ll get everything I can that’s not public as well.”

 

“Thanks, Thea.”

 

It was almost midnight when Lyssa came in and meowed urgently at Logan.

 

“I thought it was witches who were supposed have familiars, not angels,” Thea said with a smirk.

 

The blonde got up and started to follow Lyssa out of the room. “Now, now, Thea, remember, I’m as human as you are.”

 

“Yeah, right.”

 

Logan just followed Lyssa out of the office and to the bedroom to check on her partner.

 

Scully was leaning over the side of the bed throwing up in the trashcan again. Nicole sat next to her and supported her again as before. She could feel Dana’s whole body tremble with the effort. She helped the redhead lie back when she was done.

 

Logan brushed some hair away from Scully’s face. “I’ll get you some more water. I’ll be right back.”

 

“No. I have to go to the bathroom,” Scully replied, trying to sit up.

 

Logan helped her sit up, but Scully indicated she wanted to stand and walk on her own. Her stubbornness and independence evident even through her obvious weakness and illness. The blonde walked next to her, making sure she remained on her feet.

 

“If you need anything, just yell,” Logan said when they arrived at the bathroom.

 

Scully nodded and closed the bathroom door. Logan went back to the bedroom and cleaned out the trashcan again. She then went to the kitchen and put some water on to boil for tea. With that done she headed back to her office.

 

“Do you want some tea, Thea?”

 

“Do you have some coffee?”

 

“Sorry, I don’t. But if you need caffeine, I’ve got some Coke.”

 

“That’ll do.” Thea followed Nicole back out to the kitchen.

 

Logan retrieved a large glass of Coke for Thea. “Here you go.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“Thank you, for all your help.”

 

Thea smiled. “You know me, I’m always up for the good fight. Besides, my clan has always served yours, Nicole. It’s the way it’s been for countless generations. You’re usually just too stubborn to let me help you.”

 

“I know,” the blonde sighed. “I just work better alone when I’m hunting.”

 

“And we’ve had this conversation countless times,” Thea said with an affectionate smile. “Regardless, I’ll always be here for you – no matter what.”

 

The blonde spoke after a few moments. “So, are you seeing anyone?”

 

“Nope. I’m enjoying being single for now. What about you?”

 

“Me? When do I have the time to get involved with anyone? I’m usually busy tracking and killing.”

 

“Well you’re not now.” Thea paused. “Oh, wait. You can, can’t you?” she lightheartedly challenged.

 

Nicole smirked. “Yes, Thea. I’m just as human as you are.”

 

“I know; that’s not what I meant. I meant, it’s not against the rules or anything, is it?”

 

“You know it’s not against the rules. How else would the family line be continued down through the generations?” Logan replied as she poured hot water into a cup, making some tea. She then extended her snow white wings and pulled out an inner feather. “Just keep in mind, Thea, I’m human in every sense of the word,” she said as she broke open the quill of the feather and poured the thick liquid into the hot tea.

 

“Right. Everyone I know has angel wings.” She paused for a beat. “Weren’t your wings black the last time I saw you?”

 

Logan retracted her wings and gave Thea a smirk. “That’s because it was nighttime. White wings at night would be too noticeable, so I make them black. I’m going to check on Dana.”

 

Nicole went to the bathroom. The door was still closed. She was a little concerned since Scully had been in there for a quite a while. She gave a light tap on the door. “Dana?”

 

There was no answer.

 

“Dana? Are you alright?”

 

Still no answer. Nicole took a moment to listen carefully, she could hear soft crying.

 

“Dana, if you don’t answer me, I’m coming in.” Logan waited a couple seconds but there was still no response. She turned the doorknob, glad to find it wasn’t locked. Once the door was open she found her partner huddled and shivering on the floor, tears rolling down her face, holding a blood-soaked hand towel to her still bleeding nose.

 

~~~