Forward Slash II Signature

>From the Indianapolis Star

April 13, 1998

 

     HAS EAST COAST'S 'PRINCE

CHARMING' KILLER MOVED IN?

     Fourth Body Found Near Downtown

Landmark Late Sunday Night

     By Belinda Atkinson, Staff Writer

 

     The body of 25 year old Jenna Becker was

found on Monument Circle last night, bringing the

total number of victims believed to have been

murdered by the "Prince Charming" killer to 14.

Becker, a paralegal for Conseco, was last seen alive

on Saturday evening by co-workers dropping her at

her Castleton home after spending the evening

dancing at downtown night spots.

     Her body, discovered in the early hours of

Sunday morning by patrol officers, was wrapped in a

white sheet and left in plain view. Despite the heavy

foot and motor traffic through the monument area,

no witnesses have come forward to indicate that

they might have any information on when or how

Becker's body was placed at the landmark.

     Becker is the fourth woman to be killed in

Indianapolis under such circumstances. Marianne

Hodgett's body was found by security guards in the

Pan-Am Plaza garden last Saturday after

disappearing from Circle Centre Mall; Tracey

Payne's body was discovered by a grounds keeper

on the front walk of the Children's Museum on

February 15th, and Azarine Clevenger's body was

found January 18th on the steps of the Scottish Rite

Cathedral.

     As in Becker's case, all were found wrapped

in white sheets, and left near local landmarks. Police

have refused to disclose details regarding the cases,

including the specific cause of death. Preliminary

reports indicate that they may have been poisoned.

     IPD continues to deny that Becker's death,

and the three others bear striking similarities to

crimes committed by a serial killer in Ohio,

Pennsylvania and Maryland. However, an

anonymous source has revealed that a Task Force

made up of detectives from each state has been

formed and will be meeting in Indianapolis in the

next few days.

      Spokesman for IPD, Lt. Tim Horty, is

saying as little as possible. His official comment on

the secrecy surrounding these murders was an

understated plea for maintained silence.

     "These are very unusual crimes, and we

haven't ruled out any possibility. We'd like to keep a

low profile and investigate the deaths of these

women to our utmost ability before releasing

pertinent details to the public," he said in an

interview last week.

 

Indianapolis Police Department Homicide Unit

 

     Tim Bayliss sat on the edge of a cluttered

desk, looking askance at his surroundings.

Unfamiliar territory was hostile territory, and this

poorly lit room on the 6th floor of the City-County

building was a lot of both. His mind jangled with an

excess of information and a great sense of purpose.

An idle comment to Giardello about a Task Force

had turned into a reality, bringing him and four other

detectives together in Indianapolis to put the "Prince

Charming Killer" in handcuffs. He winced at the

name Pittsburgh reporters had given the case- it

made the crimes seem almost flippant, but there was

nothing amusing to him about 14 dead women.

     "Don't sit on my desk." Stalking into the

unit, Indianapolis Detective Khrystyne Taylor mock

slapped Bayliss' knee as she tossed several case

folders down. Bayliss slid to his feet, and stood

behind her, peering over her shoulder. She pushed

him back with her shoulder, then reached into her

drawer, retrieving  a ragged pack of cigarettes.

     "Want one?"

     He was tempted, but shook his head. "I'll

enjoy it by proxy. What's in the folders?"

     "More crime scene photos," she replied.

Lighting her cigarette, she took a long drag as she

flipped a lock of hair out of her eyes.

     On a very superficial level, she reminded him

of Howard; unruly hair, a clean, unpainted face,

pantsuits instead of power skirts. Personality-wise,

they were miles apart. Taylor seemed to have a chip

on her shoulder; she definitely had a mouth like a

longshoreman, and a distinct lack of tact for

anything and everything. Despite it all, her intensely

negative traits smoothed together into a polished

and strangely likeable individual.

     Satisfied that her cigarette was going to stay

lit, she promptly laid it in the ashtray next to the

immolated remains of the last four she'd fired up and

never finished.  She pulled the 8X10 black and white

photos out of the folder, fanning them out on her

desk.

     "I don't envy you one bit, Bayliss," she said,

watching him finger through the photographs one by

one.

     "How's that," he asked, only half paying

attention. Turning one of the pictures over, he stared

at the Monument Circle crime scene.

     "The ME is having a fucking fit. He's arguing

with Columbus' ME over body core temperatures,

Columbus is arguing with Pittsburgh over something

I can't even pronounce, and Baltimore is arguing

with all of them over god knows what. The labs

aren't back yet, the CSU results aren't back yet, and

that damned Belinda Atkinson can't go five minutes

without a call to see if I still have no comment. Oh,

and if I hear that blonde twit on Channel 13 call me

'Prince Charming's Detective Sleeping Beauty' one

more time, I'm gonna blow her damned head off.

The only thing keeping me relatively sane is the fact

that I'm not in charge."

     "I have a couple of things in mind to calm

some of those problems, but I wanted to get

everyone together and discuss the options first."

Bayliss sounded more authoritative than he felt. He'd

been in Indianapolis for less than 24 hours, and the

task force already had problems. Michael Whitney,

the detective from Columbus, seethed with quiet

resentment. Bayliss could empathize with the man;

by virtue of the fact that he was in Indianapolis

instead of Columbus, he was admitting that he hadn't

been able to solve the murders that fell in his town.

It was hard to get along in a group where your

introduction was your failure.

     Conversely, the detective from Pittsburgh,

Eric Sands, was a complete enigma. He generally

stood silently a few feet away from any discussion,

watching everything with sharp alert eyes. If he had

something to add, it was contributed with a quiet

interjection before falling silent again. Bayliss

couldn't decide whether he was just that quiet, or if

he was passively resisting the entire process.

     Frank, fortunately, was still Frank, and

Taylor was as voluble as she was volatile. Bayliss

took some small comfort from the fact that he

understood three fifths of the team, even if he was

including himself in that percentage.

     "I think we just need to find some common

ground, outside the fact that we're all working the

same case," Bayliss added, slipping the crime photos

back into their folder.

     Taylor cackled, clapping him on the

shoulder. "If I were you, I'd just decide. Discussion

breeds discontent."

 

     "There's nothing wrong with these

autopsies," Whitney shouted, pointing an accusing

finger at Bayliss. "If you want flawed findings, look

in your own backyard."

     Bayliss held up his hands. "I'm not doubting

the expertise and ability of any of these MEs. All I'm

saying that perhaps we'd be better served if we had a

doctor working on this case, and this case alone."

     "We've already got five people working this

case full time. We're already stepping all over each

other's shoes. How many more do we need?"

     Casting a glance at Frank, Bayliss hoped he'd

step in and say something, anything. Much to his

chagrin, his partner looked utterly engrossed in his

morning hot-water-and-sugar. Taylor just smirked

from her desk, burning another cigarette into

oblivion. Detective Sands stood off to the side,

watching the conflict from a safe distance.

     Steeling himself, Bayliss raised his eyebrows

and announced, "Just seven. Special Agents Dana

Scully and Fox Mulder will be joining us in a few

hours."

     Whitney's eyes bulged open, and he dragged

a hand through his already frizzled hair. "Excuse me,

I think I misunderstood. I know you didn't just say

you gave this case to the FBI."

     Bayliss nodded agreeably. "You'd be correct.

Dana Scully is a medical examiner with extensive

forensic and lab experience. Fox Mulder is a highly

skilled behavioral scientist specializing in serial

pathology. They'll be joining our team, not taking it

over."

     "This is unbelievable, just

unfuckingbelievable," Whitney muttered, making his

way toward the door. "I have to make a call, I'll be

back."

     "You can use my phone," Taylor offered

laconically.

     "I'll be right back," Whitney snapped,

flinging open the squad room door and heading

down the hallway.

     "Guess room service pissed in his Cheerios

this morning," Sands said.

     "You know, Tim," Frank started, putting a

hand on his partner's shoulder. "I look forward to

working with Dana again. She's sharp, organized, a

good asset to a team in dire need of continuity."

     Bayliss stared at Frank, waiting for the

inevitable corollary statement. He wasn't

disappointed.

     "But Mulder. Special Agent Mulder. . . why

do we need a shrink on this case, Tim? Don't we

have a profile already?"

     Scrabbling through the disorganized piles,

Taylor whipped a green folder from the mess, and

waved it at Bayliss to punctuate Pembleton's

question. "Profile."

     "A profiler working directly with the case

will give us insight," Bayliss said, half parroting

Giardello's explanation for Mulder's appearance in

Baltimore almost two months ago. "Fourteen

women are dead. We need all the help we can get."

     He didn't bother mentioning that he planned

to plumb Mulder's expertise for ideas on how to

mesh the wildly differing personalities on the task

force into a diverse but single-minded entity.

 

Indianapolis International Airport

 

     "It's been a while since I've had the

opportunity to work on a raving lunatic," Mulder

said. "I'm actually looking forward to it."

     Scully stared at him with disbelief, shifting

her suitcase from one hand to the other to take the

keys from him. Catching a glimpse of her expression

as he signed a charge slip for their rental car, he

broke into a grin.

     "I meant a normal, garden variety nut job,"

he clarified.

     "And that's the technical term?"

     "You bet it is."

     They walked out of the rental office, heading

for the carport. While keeping up a comfortable line

of chatter with Scully, he tried to ignore the

gymnastics being performed by his stomach to the

beat of his pounding heart.

     "I'll be glad to see Frank again," Scully said

as she unlocked the driver's side door and popped

the trunk. Mulder's face contorted through a myriad

of expressions, finally settling on a look of dazed

amusement. He'd heard her talking to Pembleton on

the phone occasionally since they'd returned from

Baltimore. Leave it to Scully to make a friend in a

completely different city.

     "I'm sure he'll be much happier to see you

than me," he said, his limited experience with

Pembleton having been confined to an impromptu

interrogation.

     A smile crossed her lips. "We'll both have

our own welcoming committee."

     Mulder nodded, started to reply, then

thought better of it. Instead, he waited for her to

unlock his door as he stared into an angry grey sky.

 

2419 Delaware Street

 

     Leviticus 21:9

 

     And the daughter of any priest, if she profane

herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her

father: she shall be burnt with fire.

 

Deuteronomy 22:21

 

     Then they shall bring out the damsel to the

door of her father's house, and the men of her city

shall stone her with stones that she die: because she

hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her

father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from

among you.

 

Deuteronomy 23:17

 

     There shall be no whore of the daughters of

Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.

 

     No one paid much attention to the small,

effeminate man writing in chalk on his own back

porch. He was completely unremarkable, leaving

one with the impression that they'd seen someone

but with no real recollection of his features. He

stood, brushing the chalk dust from hands, then

walked down into the yard to grab a garden hose.

Washing away the words he'd just written, a look of

satisfaction settled on his bland features.

 

Indianapolis Police Department, Homicide Unit

 

     "Detective Bayliss, Frank," Scully said

pleasantly, shaking both men's hands. "Good to see

you again, ignoring the circumstances."

     "Dana," grinned Frank.

     "How's the baby?"

     Bayliss listened to Pembleton and Scully

exchange small talk, staring past them. Scully had

arrived alone, making Bayliss wonder if Mulder had

chosen not to come after all. Anxiety burned in the

pit of his stomach. He wanted Mulder to be there, to

help make some sense out of the group dynamic, but

more than that, he just wanted to see him again.

Trying to shake that particular thought from his

head, Bayliss opened the portable file cabinet to

retrieve the MEs' reports for Scully.

     "So where should I start," Scully asked,

turning her attention back to the case.

     Bayliss handed her several thick folders. "I

was hoping we could start at the beginning. There

have been questions raised on the validity of the

autopsy reports in some of the cases, and I wanted

you to look over the files to see if there are any

egregious errors."

     She nodded, looking down at the reports.

"I'll go ahead and get on that so I can brief Mulder

on the medical specifics of the case. I think he

already has some theories based on the files you sent

him, but he works better with all the facts at hand."

     "Thank you," Bayliss murmured.

     "So Frank, are you buying the coffee this

morning?" Scully grinned.

(End Part One)

 

Title:Forward Slash II: Signature (2/8)

Author: Saundra Mitchell

E mail: vii@netdirect.net

Rating: R (Adult Situations, Language)

 

     "Tim?"

     Bayliss looked up to see Mulder standing at

the door to the homicide unit, hands stuffed in the

pockets of his trench coat. Bayliss was at once both

thrilled and uncomfortable to see him. He stood up,

and shook Mulder's hand.

     "I'm glad you came," Bayliss said. "Please,

have a seat."

     They didn't speak for a long moment, only

staring uneasily past one another. Sitting, Mulder

looked around the squad room. "It's awfully quiet in

here for a serial murder to be going on."

     Tim nodded. "We've been cooling our heels

all morning. Indianapolis' CSU hasn't come back

with their results, and we don't have much to go on

right now."

     "Where is everybody?"

     "Frank and Scully are down in the coffee

shop going over medical reports. Whitney from

Columbus and Sands from Pittsburgh are building a

time line. Taylor was downstairs trying to borrow

street cops from Patrol for a canvass, but I have no

idea where she is now. I'm sitting here, going out of

my mind."

     Mulder looked at him questioningly, waiting

for an explanation.

     "I think I'm in over my head," Tim admitted

quietly. "I'm having a hard time co-ordinating

everything that needs to happen on this case. We

can't even agree on a theory for this guy; he makes

women disappear and reappear like a Vegas

magician. No witnesses, almost no physical

evidence. . ."

     "Hey, is this the big time effa bee eye

shrink?" Taylor walked in, smacking Bayliss lightly

on the shoulder. "Don't lean on my desk."

     "I'm the 'shrink'," Mulder confirmed. "Fox

Mulder."

     "Khrystyne Taylor. Welcome to Indy." To

Bayliss' surprise, she sounded almost pleasant.

     "They'll give us fifteen," Taylor said, lighting

up. "But no overtime. The mucky mucks insist on

keeping this shit low priority, they don't want to

cause panic, they say, which is bullshit, but hey, I'm

just a murder police, what do I know about

murder?"

     Mulder marveled at the sheer number of

words Taylor could fit into a sentence. She lounged

comfortably in her chair, rolling her eyes at the

brass, her company, or both.

     "Maybe I could talk to them," Bayliss

wondered out loud.

     "I'll tell you what," Mulder said, standing up.

"I'm going to get a head start and review those case

files with Scully. I'll be back up in here in an hour or

so with a game plan, how does that sound?"

     "Anything's better than sitting around here

with our thumbs up our asses," Taylor said

congenially.

     "Could I see you outside for a moment,

Tim?"

     Bayliss nodded.

 

     "I'll tell you right now what part of your

problem is," Mulder said, punching the elevator's

down button.

     "What's that?" Bayliss stared at the floor, a

sense of dread filling him.

     "You think you're out of your element, so

you're trying to be fair. Don't. It doesn't matter that

this is Indianapolis instead of Baltimore; consider

yourself the primary with a whole lot of secondaries.

You are in charge, you have to act like it. I'm not

saying you should be disrespectful, but you have to

be firm. Tell people, don't ask them. Decide, don't

discuss."

     With a ding, the elevator door opened, and

Mulder stepped in. He pressed the one on the

keypad, and stepped back. "And Tim?"

     "Yeah?"

     "It's good to see you again," he said as the

doors closed between them.

 

Conference Room 4, Indianapolis Police Department

 

     "Okay," Bayliss said, standing at the head of

the table. "Agent Scully has a few things to say, then

Agent Mulder's going to give us our updated profile.

Based on his analysis, we're going to take what we

learn and break into three teams and retrace every

step of the Indianapolis murders. I'm going to

separate the existing partnerships because I want us

all to have a different perspective on these cases

than we usually might. Each team will be assigned

five patrol officers to help canvass. For now, I'm

going to continue to agree with IPD on keeping it

low profile and out of the papers. Every time the

press got hot, our guy has bolted, and I don't

particularly want him moving to another city. When

you speak to witnesses, identify yourself as law

enforcement only, and do not, I repeat, do not give

any statements to the press. We're here to catch a

murderer, not get our pictures in the paper."

     Mulder quashed a smile at the newly forceful

Tim Bayliss. He watched everyone's expressions as

Bayliss spoke, carefully noting body language

reactions, and he decided that as long as Tim could

remain emphatic and goal oriented, these officers

would follow his lead.

     "Okay," Scully said, smoothing her suit.

"First of all, I'd like to say that there have not been

any irreversible errors on the parts of your MEs.

They've all done very thorough and detailed

examinations, which has made my job a lot easier.

What I'm going to do now is go over the medical

facts in this case so that they're fresh in our minds

when we go out on the street."

     Pulling out a large bundle of photos, laid

them in neat piles next to one another, making

fourteen in all.

     "These are in chronological order," she said.

"Let's start from the top. None of these bodies show

outward signs of violence. There are no bruises,

contusions, entrance or exit wounds. Only one body,

that of Jenna Becker's, there, shows signs of defense

wounds. Taking a closer look, each woman's finger

and toenails were clipped very short, almost to the

quick. Becker's right index and middle fingernails

show perimortem stress, and are cut under the

quick. This would indicate that the nails on that hand

were broken off, perhaps in a struggle, then trimmed

afterwards.

     "Next picture, a detailed examination of the

mouths. Their tongues were excised in a careful,

surgical manner, probably with an x-acto knife or

similar tool. Because of the double layer cutting, I

would rule out the use of a medical scalpel, which

would make a single, clean cut. There are signs of

hesitation on the walls of the mouth in the first two

victims, evidenced by these small scratches here, but

after that our killer seems to have gotten

comfortable with the practice.

     "You'll also note the deep purple

discoloration of the gums, discoloration and erosion

of the throat, which brings us to the next point.

These women were poisoned with extremely high

doses of mercury. We also have some tearing in the

backs of their throat, suggesting the use of a hard

plastic or metal tube being used in an attempt to

administer the mercury directly into the

gastrointestinal system.

     "Mercury causes an agonizing burning

sensation, nausea, vomiting, destruction of intestinal

mucosa, and finally, death. It can also manifest itself

as a reddish rash on the palms or soles of the feet.

Traces of succinylcholine were found in their tissue,

which was administered intramuscularly through an

injection on or near the buttocks in each case.

Succinylcholine is a surgical anesthesia; it works by

disabling the central nervous system. This drug

paralyzed our victims, but did not render them

unconscious. Every one of these women were awake

while their tongues were being cut out and their

stomachs filled with mercury.

     "Body core temperatures taken at the scene

and factored against weather conditions suggest that

these women were dead less than eight hours when

they were dumped. A number of the women show

trace levels of alcohol, which is consistent with the

activities ascribed to them on the nights they

disappeared. None of them were close to legally

drunk, and probably weren't even tipsy. Everything

left is postmortem and has no real medical

significance, so I'll defer to Mulder to cover these

facts. Any questions?"

     The room was deadly silent for a moment.

Scully hadn't told anyone in the room anything they

didn't already know, but having the facts laid out at

once made the horror seem even greater. Even

homicide cops are occasionally affected by their

cases, and Scully's matter of fact recitation jarred

their emotions. There were no questions; at least not

for Scully.

     "If you would, Agent Mulder." Tim forced

the meeting along, glad that for the first time, the

task force seemed singularly involved on the same

level.

     Picking up his notebook, Mulder nodded.

"As Agent Scully said, the bodies exhibit

postmortem manipulation, so I'll get that out of the

way before I move on to the profile. Starting with

the condition of the bodies, all of them were

carefully washed, dried, and made up. Mascara on

the surface of the eyes, and cosmetic foundation

found in the nasal passages and cavities confirm that

this occurred after death. The vaginal openings were

also sewn closed after death, using a heavy gauge

carpet needle and canvas-type thread. The numbers

written on the napes of their necks were probably

written with his off hand, in this case, his right."

     Mulder paused, turning over a page and

clearing his throat. "The way these women were

killed, and the rituals performed by the murderer

post mortem tell us a lot about the man we're

looking for. He is probably in his early thirties, no

more than 35. These crimes are too sophisticated

and organized for a first timer, he's had practice, but

too elaborate for someone to have been killing into

their late 30s and 40s. This is our killer's prime; he's

very good at what he does. He is Caucasian, very

slightly built, and is probably homosexual. The man

we're looking for doesn't look like a killer of

women."

     Whitney snorted, leaning back in his chair.

"How do you get that?"

     "It's somewhat complicated, but here's the

short and sweet version," Mulder replied, leveling

his gaze directly at Whitney. "His victims are white,

so he's more than likely white. Serial killers very

rarely cross racial lines once they've decided what

kind of person to kill. He is male, because it's

virtually unheard of for women to exhibit the kind of

pathology necessary to commit serial crimes. These

murders exhibit an overemphasis on these women's

sexuality and femininity that is usually only seen in

males, regardless of their sexual orientation.

     "He must be slightly built because the rage in

these cases is not manifested in physical force. These

women were not beaten into submission, they were

drugged. If he were capable of overpowering them,

he would have. Finally, he's homosexual because of

the intense fear and disgust we see in his ritual

regarding their genitalia. A heterosexual man who

hates women destroys the sex organs by rape and

mutilation, a homosexual man who hates women

erases or ignores their genitalia. By sewing the

mouth of the vagina closed, he's pretending it

doesn't exist anymore."

     "Nice," Taylor muttered, leaning back in the

chair. She folded her hands behind her head, and

closed her eyes.

     "Some other things we know about our

killer," Mulder continued. "Besides being little,

white, and gay, he's very smart and very familiar

with homicide investigations, he may even have a

conviction. The only time he betrays the exaggerated

femininity of his victims is in clipping their

fingernails. While long nails are a sign of femininity,

long nails also trap evidence. Since the only victim in

our series that shows any indication of struggling is

the last one, I'd guess that tissue evidence has been

used against him before.

     "The washing of the bodies has a twofold

purpose. The first is to rid the corpses of the blood

and excrement in which they are covered after the

crime, and the second is to insure that any evidence

that he touched them is gone. We've found no hairs

and no fibers, so it's a reasonable assumption that

this man has shaved his body and probably works in

the nude. This means he has enough time and

privacy, so we're looking for someone who lives in a

house, not an apartment. He has a steady job,

probably in a medical setting; he's held this job for

quite some time, or participates in studies, giving

him the opportunity to go on the road.

     "I believe he'll change his method very soon;

Becker's murder wasn't as precise as the others. She

had a chance and scratched him; he didn't

successfully subdue her. This is a good sign for us, it

means he's starting to become disorganized, but it's

bad news for Indianapolis. If we don't catch him, the

frequency of his crimes is going skyrocket. Until

now, he's kept a very steady pace, one or two

murders per month; Undeterred, I foresee another

murder before the end of this month."

     "I have a question Agent Mulder,"

Pembleton interrupted, laying his pen on the table.

"What is the significance of the bodies being left at

landmarks, in plain sight? In some cases, the window

of opportunity to dump the corpse has been less than

five minutes."

     Mulder nodded. "Some killers write letters,

some killers call newspapers, our killer leaves bodies

in important places. I believe he's doing two things;

taunting the police and begging for them to capture

him. Subconsciously, he wants to be caught and

punished."

     "And do you have a theory on his amazing

ability to lure women from their homes and friends

without so much as a struggle?" Pembleton crossed

his arms over his chest, waiting. If Mulder was

going to present an oddball theory, it would have to

be now. Frank had to grudgingly admit that Mulder

seemed professional and educated to this point, but

he was still convinced this man was completely

insane.

     "He doesn't look threatening, he probably

just asks them to come with him under some

pretense. It seems amazing to us because we don't

know how he did it yet. In the 1970s and early 80s,

police were baffled by Ted Bundy's seemingly

paranormal ability to abduct women from plain

sight; once while crossing a street, and in another

case, between floors in a Vail hotel. Later, we

learned he just smiled and asked for help, and the

women willingly accompanied him."

(End Part Two)

 

Title:Forward Slash II: Signature (3/8)

Author: Saundra Mitchell

E mail: vii@netdirect.net

Rating: R (Adult Situations, Language)

 

Home of Jerri Ritcey

 

     "I've really told you everything I know," Jerri

said, tapping her foot nervously.  "We went dancing,

we dropped her off around two, and we never saw

her again."

     "Miss Ritcey," Taylor said gently. "I know

this is upsetting for you, and I know you feel you've

answered these questions a hundred times, but it's

very important for us to make absolutely sure of

everything we can. Now, you said you went to the

501, and then World Mardi Gras that night. Are you

sure you didn't see anyone from the first bar at the

second?"

     Mulder watched Taylor with unmasked

surprise. This couldn't be the same woman who'd

smacked Bayliss away from her desk, and cursed the

brass in IPD with increasingly vile language on the

ride over. Somewhere between closing the car door,

and walking inside Miss Ritcey's home, Detective

Khrystyne Taylor had turned into a consummate

professional.

     Bayliss and Taylor took turns guiding Jerri

through the events of her last night with Jenna

Becker. Covering everything from state of mind to

number of drinks, the answers all came out the same

as the first time Taylor had interviewed her.

     "We took her home, and that's the last time

we saw her," Jerri said sadly, staring down at her

hands.

     "One last thing and then we can leave,

okay?" Bayliss closed their discussion swiftly. "Did

you actually see Miss Becker go into her house

when you dropped her off?"

     Jerri's mouth opened and closed several

times before she answered. "No sir," she said,

ashamed. "We just let her out at the curb and left."

 

     "Goddamn it," Taylor hissed, slapping her

hands on the steering wheel. She pulled onto the

highway, jerking the car through minute spaces in

traffic until she found herself in the far left lane.

"Why didn't I ask that question? How the hell did I

miss that? I wonder what the fuck else I missed,

Jesus Christ!"

     "Hey, calm down," Bayliss said, clutching

the handle of the door. "It's not a big deal, it just

gives us a window of opportunity. It doesn't make

or break the case."

     She glared at Bayliss from the corner of her

eye. "It does matter, it was a mistake."

     "I've been meaning to ask you," Mulder cut

in. "Four women are dead in your city alone, but

they only put one detective on this case. They don't

want you talking to the press, they don't want to

give you any back up or support. . . what's going

on?"

     A cold laugh bubbled out from Taylor's lips.

"They want me out, and they think by piling on the

shit, I'll leave gracefully. I investigated, arrested and

testified against two dirty cops. Ever since then, I've

been on my own. I refuse to give them the

satisfaction of quitting; if they want my ass out,

they'll have to fire me."

 

The Children's Museum

 

     "I can't tell you how upsetting this all is," Dr.

Fornelli said, walking with Pembleton and Scully

though the lobby of the museum. "The volunteer

who found the body hasn't been back since, parents

are afraid to bring their children here. . . "

     "We know it's distressing, but we want to

make absolutely certain that nothing was missed at

the crime scene. I assure you, we'll be very discrete."

     Dr. Fornelli shook his head. "Actually, I'm

glad you stopped by. I've called downtown several

times, but no one's ever returned my call. The

janitors found something. . . unusual in the

bathrooms, and we thought the police should know.

What took so long?"

     Scully exchanged a confused glance with

Pembleton. "There's been a lot of ground to cover in

this case. What have you found?"

     "Well, we've kept it closed off in case it was

important." Dr. Fornelli opened the door of the

men's restroom, holding it open for Pembleton and

Scully. "In the stalls. . . someone wrote on the

walls."

     "Graffiti in the first degree," Pembleton

joked under his breath. Scully held back a smile as

she stepped into the first stall.

     "Wait a minute," she said seriously, pointing

down at the bottom edge of the wall. "Look."

     "219, 2221, 2317," Pembleton read. The

numbers were written in black marker in an unsteady

hand. "Those are the same numbers on our victims'

bodies."

     "It looks like the same handwriting, too."

     "It's written in every one of the stalls," Dr.

Fornelli said. "I'm sorry, I don't know when."

     "We need to get the CSU in here," Frank

said firmly.

     "You said you'd be discrete!"

     Scully pursed her lips. "Dr. Fornelli, we need

to dust for prints and take pictures of the writing. If

you can think of a discrete way to do that, I'll be

more than willing to listen."

 

Pan Am Plaza

 

     Whitney and Sands watched the plaza

security guard shoo a pair of teenagers away from

the fountain, then return to a folding lawn chair

situated at the far end of the garden. They walked

over, pulling out their badges.

     "I'm Detective Whitney, this is Detective

Sands. We wanted to go over some questions with

you regarding the body of Marianne Hodgett."

     The guard sighed. "I already got an official

reprimand for leaving my post that night. Are you

guys trying to get me fired, or what?"

     "No sir, we're not," Sands said smoothly.

"We just wondered if you had remembered anything

more about that night."

     "I done told you all I know. I got up to go to

the crapper, and when I came back, the body was

there. I didn't see nothing, I didn't hear nothing."

     "And you didn't move or touch the body?"

     "I moved the sheet," the guard said

defensively. "I didn't know what it was. When I saw

it was a girl, I called it in and left her alone."

     Whitney raised an eyebrow. "You didn't

check to see if she was breathing?"

     "I could tell she wasn't breathing."

     "How?"

     "Cause her chest didn't move. If she was

alive, I would have known it. I already answered

these questions!"

     Sands started to ask another, but was

drowned out by the sound of a sandblaster. He

turned to place the source of the noise, then leaned

over to the security guard. "What's that?"

     "Buncha numbers some idiot wrote on the

mural. They're sanding it off."

     A look of realization washed over Sands'

face, and he rushed toward the man with the

sandblaster. Tapping him on the shoulder, the

worker turned the blaster off. Whitney caught up

with Sands and stared forlornly at the half-

obliterated numbers on the wall.

     219.

     2221.

     2317.

 

Conference Room 4

 

     "So he's going back after he dumps the body,

specifically to write these numbers. We've already

called 219-222-1237 and gotten an invalid number.

As far as anyone can tell, it's not a substitution code.

They don't correlate to dates, addresses, or times, so

what the hell are they?"

     Bayliss took a slice of pizza, and walked in

front of the crime scene display. It had been a

productive day, he decided. They now knew that the

killer returned to his dumping area to memorialize

his crime, and he hoped some of the prints

Pembleton and Scully had lifted from the museum

bathroom would come back with hits. In a way, the

progress was somewhat frustrating; it hadn't

occurred to any of the people involved on the case

to go back and read the walls days or weeks after

the bodies had been found.

     "Maybe it's nothing," Sands suggested,

loosening his tie. "Maybe it's deliberately designed to

throw us off the track."

     Pembleton shook his head, swallowing the

last piece of his pepperoni and cheese. "Why would

our perp risk being seen twice in the same area to

leave a red herring? It has to mean something."

     "Hey maybe. . . .no, that's too easy," Taylor

said, shaking her head. "Maybe they're bible verses,

you know, like James 3:16?"

     "That's John," Pembleton corrected. "John

3:16, 'For God so loved the world. . . '"

     "Well if they are bible verses," Mulder said,

crossing his legs. "Which books? There are two

testaments to choose from, and 66 different books in

all."

     Scully looked over at Mulder with a half

smile on her face. "I had no idea you were such a

theologian, Mulder."

     "I'm full of all sorts of surprises."

     "The only way to find out for sure is to get a

bible and look," Whitney said, stealing one of

Taylor's cigarettes and tucking it behind his ear.

 

     "No, I'm looking at the 21:9s, you're looking

at the 2:19s."

     "Well shit, I'm already up to Joshua."

     "Too bad, I'm up to Ruth."

     "Fuck."

     "Is that any way to talk in front of a Bible?"

     "Oh, you can just fuck off."

 

     Four lists with 66 entries on each list. It had

taken them nearly five hours to compile all of the

appropriate verses from the bible, and now they

stared at the sheets in silence.

     "Now we just have to find the common

thread," Pembleton said none too eagerly.

     "We could always go to the bars our victims

frequented before their deaths." Sands suggested,

squeezing his cramped writing hand. "Maybe the

bartenders saw them talking to someone that they've

seen since."

     "My head is killing me, I think I'll just stay

here and sift through these." Taylor said, pushing

her chair back to stand up.

     Bayliss nodded, and picked up his notebook.

"Okay, Whitney, Sands, you two check out Ike and

Jonesy's. Frank, you and Dana can cover the Circle

Center bars, World Mardi Gras and Gators. Mulder

and I will go over to the 501. We'll meet back here

in two hours, okay?"

     Coats were gathered, and everyone headed

for the elevators in a small mob of police. Bayliss

reached into his pocket, then realized he'd left his

notebook on the conference room table. When he

went back in, Taylor looked up from the bible

verses, and cracked a huge smile. Bayliss glanced at

her, raising an eyebrow.

     "What?"

     Taylor laughed as he picked up his

notebook. "Have fun at the 501."

     "Elevator," Scully called from the hallway.

Bayliss stopped himself at the doorway and turned

around.

     "What is that supposed to mean?"

     "Oh you'll find out," Taylor grinned, and

flashed him a thumbs up.

 

The 501

 

     For a moment, Mulder and Bayliss weren't

sure that they'd found the right place. Except for a

very large, very dangerous looking bouncer standing

on the street corner in front of the door, the 501 had

every appearance of being a package liquor store. Its

windows had been replaced by plywood, painted the

same color as the exterior of the building, but it was

patently clear that neither had been painted recently.

As they walked across the street, the muffled sounds

of techno music filtered out into the night air.

     Mulder and Bayliss pulled out their badges,

and introduced themselves to the bouncer.

     "Where's your warrant," he asked,

unimpressed.

     Bayliss just looked confused. "Why do we

need a warrant? We just want to ask the bartender a

couple of questions about the girl who was

murdered last Saturday. Her friends said that they

came here for a while."

     The bouncer's face relaxed. "Oh. Go on in,

then. Johnny was on last weekend, but he's working

the gift shop upstairs tonight."

     Mulder thanked the bouncer, then opened

the door. There was very little light in the bar, only a

few naked red and blue bulbs hanging from ceiling

fans. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw

the dark shapes of people dancing, playing pool, and

making out against the wall. Squinting, he realized

that there were no women, anywhere.

     He turned to look at Bayliss, and saw a

mirror of his own startled expression. As they tried

to get their bearings, a man wearing only a pair of

leather chaps and a long string of pearls approached

them.

     "Little overdressed, aren't you?"

     "We're here on business." Mulder covered

one ear to filter out some of the blaring music.

"Where's the gift shop?"

     "Go through there, and to the left. It's right

up the stairs."

     "Thank you," Bayliss said, unthinkingly

tightening his tie.

     The man leaned over to Mulder. "Is he

taken, because I'd like to buy him a drink."

     Mulder smiled apologetically. "He's all mine,

sorry."

     "Lucky bastard," he replied, and melted back

into the crowd.

 

     "He wanted to buy you a drink," Mulder said

as they trudged up the narrow staircase.

     "What did you tell him?"

     "That you were taken."

     Bayliss looked over his shoulder, staring

down at Mulder. "You told him I was taken?"

     Mulder shrugged. "Did you want me to tell

him you were looking? Because if you really want

that drink, I bet we can find him again."

     "Thanks anyway. This place is a little too

weird for me."

     "Haven't you ever been to a leather bar?"

     Bayliss stopped dead in his tracks and turned

around. "As a matter of fact, yes, I have, but I have

never been to a gay leather bar, so I'm a little out of

my element."

     "Well, you have one up on me, then."

Mulder pushed his way past Bayliss and continued

up the stairs. "I've never been to one at all."

(End Part Three)

 

Title:Forward Slash II: Signature (4/8)

Author: Saundra Mitchell

E mail: vii@netdirect.net

Rating: R (Adult Situations, Language)

 

 

     "Hi, we're looking for Johnny?"

     An older man with a full white beard and

very little hair held out his hand from behind the

glass counter. "I'm Johnny, how can I help you?"

     "This is Detective Bayliss, I'm Fox Mulder. I

understand you were working the bar downstairs

last Saturday?"

     Bayliss examined the T-shirts hanging on the

walls, and the knick knacks on the shelves as Mulder

spoke to Johnny.

     "What's this about," Johnny asked, a little

less friendly.

     "Last Saturday, a young woman was in here

with a few friends. Her name was Jenna Becker, and

she was murdered. We were wondering if remember

seeing her."

     Johnny breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh that. I

remember her all right. We don't usually have a lot

of female customers, you know."

     "Did she cause any trouble, bring attention to

herself in any way? I mean, besides, just being

present?"

     Johnny shook his head. "No, not really. She

and her friends danced for a while, had a drink or

two, then left."

     Bayliss walked over to the counter, and laid

a pin on the glass. He reached into his pocket and

pulled out his wallet. "You didn't notice any strange

writing on the walls here after that, did you?"

     Taking the money, and giving Bayliss his

change, Johnny shook his head. "No weirder than

usual. Hey, sorry about the cold shoulder, we've

been raided four times in the last three months just

because the cops wanted to bust some heads. I didn't

know you were family."

 

World Mardi Gras

 

     "What a place to spend the last evening of

your life," Pembleton said disdainfully, rubbing his

wrist.

     Scully nodded, winding her way through the

crush of bodies between the door and the bar.

Pembleton stared around him, mentally cursing the

dance music and the flashing lights, then dove into

the fray after Scully. When he caught up, she was

already at the bar questioning the bartender.

     "I said, did you see this woman last week,"

she repeated, raising her voice over the music.

     The bartender looked at the photograph,

blanching. "Hey, isn't this the girl who got killed?"

     "Yes, Mr. Hall," she said, frustrated. "Did

you see her last Friday night?"

     "I don't know. . . I think I should get my

manager."

     Frank leaned over the bar, glaring through

the man. "Did you see this woman or not?"

     "We have a lot of people come through

here," the bartender waffled.

     "Listen, I don't know why you're lying to us,

but we'll be happy to take you downtown to answer

our questions if you don't cooperate." Frank wore an

easy, jarring smile.

     Hall gritted his teeth, looking around. "Yes,

she came in here last Friday night. We got into a

fight, and she left with her friends."

     Surprised, Scully pulled out her notes and

scanned them in the irregular light. "Were you

working that night?"

     "Yes," he hissed. "She came in here to bust

my balls over a pair of earrings she left at my place. I

told her to get the fuck out, I was trying to work.

She threw a drink on me, then she left."

     "Detective Taylor was told that someone

else was on duty that night," Scully said

suspiciously. "Can you explain the discrepancy?"

     "Listen, I knew it would look bad that we

got in a fight, and then she turned up dead. It wasn't

a big lie." Hall looked as if he might vomit at any

moment.

     Pembleton looked around. "Where is your

manager?"

     "In the office, down the hall. . . why?"

     "I'm afraid you're going to have to come with

us after all," Scully filled in for Frank.

 

Homicide Unit Interrogation 1

 

     "Frankly, Brad," Pembleton enunciated. "I

don't believe you. You lied about being on duty, you

lied about knowing her, then you lied about fighting

with her, and you don't have an alibi. Now I think

you're lying about killing her."

     Hall seemed to shrink in his chair. "I really,

really didn't kill her. I loved her! Why would I kill

her?"

     "That's the most popular reason of all,"

Scully said evenly.

     "The classic motive," Frank added. "A cliche

even. I just don't understand why you did the things

to her body that you did."

     "What do you mean?" Hall sat up straight, a

horrified look on his face. "I didn't do anything to

her body! I didn't kill her!"

     "Can you believe a little pantywaist like this

could do that, Scully?" Frank switched gears,

standing over Brad and touching his long hair. "I

mean, he doesn't really look like the passionate sort,

does he?"

     "No, not really," Scully said, taking a step

back. "Not passionate at all."

     "What did you argue about," Frank asked

rhetorically. "She found another lover? Someone

with the passion she desired, she needed? She

embarrassed you in front of your friends, didn't she?

Came into the bar with her new, virile boyfriend and

paraded him right under your nose, and that made

you mad, didn't it? Made you so mad you wanted to

show her, wanted to show her that you could be like

that too, so you. . ."

     "Yes, it made me mad!" Tears streamed

down Brad's face, but his voice was vehement. "But

I didn't kill her, damn it! I did not kill her!"

 

     Pembleton shut the door of the interrogation

room behind him, then leaned against it. He looked

back over his shoulder at the crying, broken man

alone with his thoughts, then sighed at Scully.

     "Everybody lies," Scully said.

     "Yes indeed, everybody lies." Frank smiled

brilliantly. "Think he's suffered enough?"

     "Probably."

     "Let's go cut him loose, he's learned his

lesson."

 

Conference Room 4

 

     "Any luck on the bible verses," Bayliss

asked, pinching the bridge of his nose.

     "I'm getting rid of the ones that don't make

sense at all, laundry lists of begats, descriptions of

scenery," Taylor said. "I'll be done soon."

     "What about this Hall guy?"

     "The manager of the bar confirmed his alibi

for the first 13 murders," Pembleton said wearily.

"He's not our guy."

     "What about Ike and Jonesy's, Whitney?"

     "Bartender doesn't even remember her, and

no writing on the walls."

     "Well," Bayliss said, standing up. "I think

that's about all we can do tonight. We have five

patrol units on the Circle watching for our guy to

come back and leave his signature, so I think we

should wrap it up, and start fresh again in the

morning."

     "What about the church," Mulder said.

"Nobody checked the church today."

     "I'm not going to wake a priest up in the

middle of the night," Bayliss said, cursing his

oversight. "Someone can go down there in the

morning."

     "I'll go," Pembleton said simply. He

exchanged glances with his partner, and Bayliss

understood him completely.

     "Good idea, Frank. Anything else? New

business, old business? Good. Let's go."

 

Hyatt Regency Room 412

 

     "Nightcap?"

     "Sure," Mulder said, kicking off his shoes.

"Have you ever been to a leather bar, Scully?"

     She stared at her partner as she opened the

bottle of brandy. "I can't say that I have."

     "It's . . . enlightening."

     "In what way?"

     He groped for the right words, but came up

with nothing. "It just is."

     "Have you talked to Tim?"

     "I did nothing all day but talk to Tim."

     "You know that's not what I mean."

     "I am not having this conversation," he

laughed. "Where's my drink, woman?"

     "Keep that up, and you're going to wear it,"

she smiled, handing it to him.

     "Sometimes, I wonder if it was real."

     "I thought we weren't having this

conversation."

     "We aren't."

     "It was real," she confirmed.

     "You think so?"

     "Definitely."

     "It's awkward." Laying back on the bed, he

put his glass on his chest.

     "Well, Mulder, what did you expect?"

     "I didn't expect anything."

     "Then you won't be disappointed."

     "You're very wise, Dana Scully."

     "Yes, I know," she grinned, and finished her

drink. "I'm going to bed."

     "Can I come?"

     "Don't you think you have enough

problems?"

     He laughed. "I had to try."

 

Hyatt Regency Lounge

 

     "I think she likes you," Frank said into his

club soda. Sitting in the over polished hotel bar, he

felt miles away from the real world. He should be in

Baltimore, catching bodies by day, sleeping next to

his wife by night. Instead, he was in the middle of

nowhere drinking flat club soda with his increasingly

morose partner.

     "Who?"

     "Taylor."

     "She doesn't like me," Tim said, swirling the

dregs of his beer in the bottom of the glass.

     "I think she does. She goes out of her way to

touch you, she stays late to play with Bible verses

for you. If you ask me, it's love."

     Bayliss looked over at Frank. "She slaps me,

Frank, she doesn't touch me."

     "And I think you like her, too."

     "What is this, junior high? Do you want to

slip her a note, 'Do you like Detective Bayliss, check

yes or no'?"

     Shaking his head, Frank put down his glass.

"Of course not. I just didn't want you to miss . . . ah.

. . an opportunity."

     "Why would you think I like her?"

     "Why does she slap you, Tim?"

     "Because I sit on her desk."

     "You need to be told more than once to not

sit on someone's desk? Of course not, you're a smart

man. You continue to do it so she'll continue to have

reason to touch you."

     "You're out of your mind."

     "Am I? I don't think so."

     "Well I do think so," Tim sighed, signaling

for another beer. "I think you're bored. You miss

your desk, you miss Mary, you miss the kids, and

rather than concentrate on that loneliness, you're

trying to live vicariously through me."

     "Vicariously." Pembleton rolled the word on

his tongue.

     "Notice the lack of denial."

     "You don't have anything I want, Bayliss."

     "Yeah, I love you too, Frank."

     "There's something going on I don't know

about," Pembleton announced, pushing his stool

back from the bar.

     "I don't know what you mean," Bayliss said,

implicitly implying that he didn't care, either.

     "I think you do, Tim. And I'll find out, not

because I want to invade your privacy or live

vicariously through you, but because you're my

partner, and partners shouldn't have secrets."

     "I think we covered this before, Frank."

     "Secrets," Frank hissed. "I'll find out."

     "You don't want to know."

     "I'll find out."

     "You'll regret it."

     "Probably. I'm constantly mortified by your

darkness, Tim, but it's like a car accident. I don't

want to look, but I can't stop myself."

     "That's the lousiest cliche I've heard all day."

     "Cliches are cliches for a reason." Frank

dropped several dollar bills on the bar, and started

away. "I'm going to go call my wife."

 

Homicide Unit

 

     "There shall be no whore of the daughters of

Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel." Taylor

raised her coffee mug to Pembleton and Bayliss as

they entered the squad room. Bayliss raised an

eyebrow at her, wondering just what she was

implying.

     "The Bible verses," she said, adjusting her

shoulder holster. "I narrowed it down to the three I

think are most likely. Wanna see?"

     Handing a sheet of paper to Bayliss, Taylor

patted him on the shoulder. "I'm going to buy

danish, want some?"

     "No, thanks," he replied, distracted.

     "No danish for you, Tim?" Pembleton started

as soon as Taylor was out of earshot.

     "Whores," Bayliss said.

     "That's not a very nice thing to say about a

fellow detective."

     "The quotes, Frank," Bayliss sighed with

exasperation. "They're all about punishment for

whores."

     The doors of the squad swung open. Mulder

and Scully walked in together, good-naturedly

arguing over which pastry bag belonged to whom.

     "Danish," Mulder offered, holding out the

bag to Frank and Tim. Frank looked over at his

partner, and started to laugh.

 

Scottish Rite Cathedral

 

     "I was hoping you wouldn't come," Father

Byrne said sadly, folding his hands.

     "Why is that?" Pembleton looked confused

as he walked into the main hall. Scully trailed behind

them, quietly admiring the stained glass and dark

mahogany paneling.

     "The numbers you are looking for are

written on the wall of the confessional." Father

Byrne led the way, opening the confessional door.

"Right down there, underneath the window."

     Scully leaned down and examined the wall. It

smelled of lemon oil, and with her heart sinking, she

touched it. Pulling her finger away, she saw the clear

imprint on the surface. They wouldn't be taking any

old prints away from here. She looked up at the

priest. "You said you were hoping we wouldn't

come."

     With a shameful nod, the father looked

away. "Are you Christians?"

     Pembleton and Scully answered "yes"

simultaneously.

     "You understand the concept of privilege."

     Frank's eyebrows shot up. "Are you saying

you spoke to this murderer?"

     The priest shrugged. "Where are the

numbers written, Detective Pembleton?"

     "He came to you as his confessor," Scully

said miserably.

     "You understand," Father Byrne said, "I am

as horrified by these crimes as anyone. I wish he had

never come to me, and I wish I could help you. . .

but when I am in the confessional, I am not a man, I

am speaking for God. In God's eyes, if he is faithful,

then he is forgiven. I can't break this man's word

with God."

     Defeat rested heavily on Frank's shoulders.

Taking Father Byrne in would incite the press into a

frenzy, a furor in the police department, and rage in

the religious community. In the end, the priest was

right, he probably couldn't be compelled to tell them

what he knew.

     "Father Byrne," Scully said finally, "You

understand that we are law enforcement officers,

and it's our job to solve these murders before anyone

is hurt. Your communications with this man were

privilege, and we understand that. What we don't

understand is why you told us. We would have

never known, and we could have lived without

knowing."

     Father Byrne touched Scully's shoulder

lightly. "Because it's killing me, Agent Scully. The

blood of his victims stains me, too. Sometimes the

confessor needs to confess."

     Pembleton coughed, shaking his head. "We'll

need you to come downtown and make an official

statement of privilege, for the record."

 

     As they stepped into the bright sunlight, a

swarm of reporters converged on them. Scully and

Pembleton linked arms with the priest, and fought

their way down to the car. Their voices converged

to a chatter reminiscent of a flock of magpies.

     "Is Father Byrne a suspect in the Prince

Charming murders?!"

     "Absolutely not," Pembleton snapped,

opening the back door of their car and pushing the

father inside.

     "Is he a witness? Where are you taking him?"

     "No comment," Scully said, jumping into the

driver's seat.

(End Part Four)

 

Title:Forward Slash II: Signature (5/8)

Author: Saundra Mitchell

E mail: vii@netdirect.net

Rating: R (Adult Situations, Language)

 

 

2419 Delaware Street

 

     "At this time, it is still unclear as to whether

Father Byrne was taken into custody this morning in

connection to the Prince Charming murders. He was

released shortly before noon, and has refused to

comment. In other news. . ."

     The little man turned off the television, then

threw the remote against the wall. Stalking into the

kitchen, he cursed under his breath. His whey skin

slowly turned a splotchy purple color as his anger

grew. Suddenly, a cold calm came over him. He

smiled malevolently to himself, making a plan.

 

Homicide Unit

 

     Bayliss picked up the phone as he finished

off the last of his lunch. Struggling to swallow and

clear his voice, he managed to choke out, "Bayliss,

Homicide."

     "Detective Bayliss, this is Belinda Atkinson,"

a female voice on the other line said. The named

sounded familiar, and he tried place it, when she

gave him the answer. "I work for the Indianapolis

Star."

     "I have no comment," he said, rolling his

eyes.

     "Detective Bayliss, I just need confirmation.

I've been informed that the Prince Charming killer

has been cutting the tongues out of his victims and

sewing their genitals shut. Is this true?"

     Bayliss' eyes bulged. He motioned violently

for someone else to pick up the phone. Sands lifted

the receiver, and put the phone to his ear.

     "I'm sorry," Bayliss said. "Could you repeat

that?"

     "I've been informed that the Prince Charming

killer has been cutting the tongues out of his victims

and sewing their genitals closed. Is this true?"

     Sands shook his head.

     "I don't know where you got your

information," Bayliss waffled.

     "The killer sent a letter by messenger to our

offices," Belinda said. "We just wanted confirmation

that this was true before we printed it this evening."

     "If you believe it's evidence, you're required

by law to turn it over to us."

     "Mmhmmmm. Can you confirm this

information, Detective Bayliss? I have a deadline."

     "Why don't you come down here, with the

letter, and we'll see what we can work out."

     "I'll take your silence as a confirmation,

thanks."

     Bayliss started to protest but the line went

dead. He slammed the phone down, and kicked at

the desk. Looking around, he jerked the coat off the

back of his chair and stuffed his arms into the

sleeves angrily.

     "Where the hell is Mulder?"

 

The Indianapolis Star

 

     "Well we would have sent it over to you,"

Belinda Atkinson said airily, handing the letter to

Bayliss. "Did you come over to give me an

interview?"

     Bayliss scowled. "I came over here to

retrieve the letter, and to ask you not to publish

some of those details."

     "Dream on, buddy," Belinda said, standing

up. "You can either give me a comment, or you can

leave. This isn't a poker table, and even if it were,

you don't have anything to bet."

     Bayliss looked over at Mulder, waiting for

him to step in.

     "Miss Atkinson," Mulder said smoothly.

"We'll be happy to give you a statement, but you

must understand. If you publish everything in this

letter, every disturbed individual in this city will call

and confess. By the time we finish sorting through

them all, the real killer will have probably already

murdered someone else."

     Belinda put her hands on her hips. "That's

not my problem."

     "I can have you subpoenaed as a material

witness," Bayliss threatened. "Then you wouldn't

have a story at all."

     "A material witness for what? You have no

suspect. You've made no arrests. You don't even

know which page you're on. If you want to threaten

someone, I highly suggest you try someone else,

because it's not going to be me. If you have no

comment, then get the hell out of my office."

     "You listen to me," Bayliss hissed.

     Belinda ignored him, picking up the phone.

"Security?"

     Putting a hand on Bayliss' shoulder, Mulder

tried to pull him away. "Come on, Bayliss."

     "If another woman dies, it's on you," Bayliss

shouted. "It's on you!"

 

Homicide Unit

 

     "Taylor, what the fuck is going on in here?"

     Taylor cringed at her superior's oily voice.

Lt. Edmonds stood at the end of the homicide

squad, buttoning and unbuttoning his ill fitting suit

jacket. He stared at the chaos in the squad room;

every phone ringing itself off the hook, every

available ear pressed against a receiver. Detectives

shouted, threw post-it pads to one another, and

cursed under their breaths. This was the most action

IPD Homicide had seen in months.

     "The killer talked  to the Star, the Star

printed an exclusive, and now every freako and dink

in the Central Indiana area is calling to confess."

Taylor crossed her arms over her chest. In

approximately two seconds, he was going to rip her

head off and hand it to her; she did her best to

appear apathetic about the prospect.

     Crossing the room more quickly than she

thought possible, he jabbed a pointed finger into her

sternum. "This is bullshit, total bullshit, and it's your

ass." She could smell gyros on his breath as he

yelled into her face. "We got more than one murder

case, if you hadn't noticed, but the fucking

department is too busy taking phone messages for

you to solve 'em."

     She took a step back. "I didn't tell them to

answer the phone, Lieutenant."

     Edmonds took a long look around, surveying

the faces of his detectives. "Where's the rest of your

merry men? The only person from your little task

force I see is you."

     "CSU, print lab, Eiteljorg Museum and the

circle."

     "Well you gather their happy asses up and

put them in Con 4. One hour."

 

 

Conference Room 4

 

     "You have two days to wrap this shit up,"

Edmonds said without preface. He glared with piggy

eyes at the collected group of detectives, waving his

finger for emphasis. "My squad room looks like

someone murdered a bus full of school kids this

morning, not four broads over a week ago."

     "With all due respect," Bayliss began.

     "Fuck respect," Edmonds snarled. "Two

days. I don't give a shit, one way or the other, but in

two days, Indianapolis will no longer be hosting the

Prince Charming Task Force. Solve it, don't solve it,

but in two days, you're out. Is that clear?"

     "This is the most physical evidence we've

had in any of these cases," Scully said reasonably.

"Given time, we will solve these murders. We all

know this isn't an instant process."

     "You, don't even talk to me. These are Indy

murders, you're out of your territory. I'm done

talking, I ain't staying in here to hold your hands.

Two days, period."

     Edmonds stalked out of the room, slamming

the door behind him. There was a long,

uncomfortable silence as they stared around the

room at one another. Two days to solve a string of

murders that had gone on for over a year, and every

single piece of evidence they had being displayed on

the evening news.

     "We can do this," Pembleton said. He looked

at their faces, one by one, waiting for someone to

disagree. "Pick it up, Tim. What now?"

     Bayliss shook his head, sorting out his

thoughts. With a deep sigh, he stood up, closed his

eyes, and jumped in.

 

WTHR Anchor Desk

 

     "Police tonight are asking your help to solve

a string of grisly serial murders known as The Prince

Charming Killings. Joining us with a description of

the suspect and new information on these chilling

crimes is Special Agent Fox Mulder from the FBI

and Detective Bayliss from the Baltimore Homicide

Unit. Agent Mulder?"

 

The Monument Circle

 

     "Did you see who wrote these numbers,"

Taylor asked anxiously, pointing at the steps. Two

pale faced teenagers shook their heads nervously,

staring at the brigade of police officers surrounding

them. "You're absolutely sure? No doubt in your

mind?"

     She waited impatiently for them to tell the

truth. They had been the only people on the steps for

the previous half hour, and the numbers hadn't been

there before they arrived. Taylor grew more angry

as they continued to silently deny knowledge.

Neither one of them fit the profile, but if they didn't

cough up an answer, she was going to jack them up

for the crimes anyway. She grabbed the girl's arm.

     "You, come with me. Whitney, take the

boy."

     Whitney nodded, leading him away from his

girlfriend. As they moved farther apart, the couple

strained to see one another.

     "Listen kid, we don't care if you wrote them

down, we just want to know why," he said

soothingly, glancing up to catch sight of a news van

pulling to a stop nearby. "Those reporters are going

to splash your face all over the news if you don't

hurry up and tell me, and I'm going to let them."

     "God, my mom will kill me," the kid

breathed, staring down at his feet.

 

     Twenty feet away, Taylor was still trying to

reason with the girl. "We need to know who wrote

those numbers, kid. It is literally a matter of life and

death."

     "I don't know anything," she said stubbornly.

     "That's a lie, and we both know it."

     "I don't know anything."

     Whitney waved his arms at Taylor. "Got it!"

     Taylor smiled coldly at the girl. "Don't know

anything, huh?"

 

IPD Crime Lab

 

     "No, they're great prints," the technician

said. "They just don't match anyone. We checked

twice."

     "So what you're saying is, if we bring you the

hand, we have a positive ID." Pembleton quirked his

jaw to the side, looking at the neat rows of cards on

the table before him.

     "That's exactly what I'm saying."

     "That's still good news, Frank." Dana put her

hand on his shoulder.

     "I have better news, though," the tech

offered, shifting his magnifying loops. He shifted

through some papers, and pulled out a bound

notebook. "Quantico ran the tests on the carpet

thread again, and lucky for you, it's not as common

as we thought. It's hemp, specifically 'Nature's Own'.

It's only sold through catalogue."

          A slow smile snaked across Frank's face. "A

     thousand blessings on your house."

 

2419 Delaware Street

 

     Stuffing clothing into a suitcase, the little

man cast occasional glances at the television. He felt

as if Mulder and Bayliss were staring directly at him

from the screen, whispering his name. It certainly

seemed as if they had everything but his name.

Fibers, eye witnesses, fingerprints. . . for a brief

moment, he wondered if they were bluffing.

Stopping, he stared at the newscast for a moment,

decided that no matter how false their evidence

might be, scrutiny was too high for him to risk

staying. He turned back to his packing, only half

listening to the rest of the special report.

     "This man probably has a very low IQ, he

may even border on functional retardation. We

suspect he may even have an accomplice, being

unable to commit these crimes on his own. . ."

     The little man's head snapped up at the

words, and he threw his road map on the floor with

a pop.

     'Challenge set,' he thought to himself.

'Challenge met.'

 

WTHR Studios

 

     Bayliss pulled his coat more tightly around

him, shielding himself against the cold wind as they

headed toward their car. Unlocking the driver's side

door, he stared across the roof at Mulder.

     "If this works. . . if he kills someone else for

us to catch him, it's ours."

     Mulder shook his head. "No one makes him

kill but himself."

     Sliding behind the wheel, Bayliss dug the

keys from his pocket. Hesitating, he put the key into

the ignition, but didn't turn it.

     "It makes us accomplices."

     With a sigh, Mulder fastened his seatbelt.

"Tim, he's going to kill anyway. He'll kill until he

dies or we catch him. It's unfortunate, and it's

depressing, but that's just the way it is. The only

thing we did was hopefully make him less careful.

It's all a question of guilt. Can you live with one

more woman dead, or would you prefer fourteen?"

     "None. I'd like none."

     "That's not an option."

     Bayliss started the car, and pulled out of the

lot. "It should be an option. I shouldn't be, we

shouldn't be deciding when someone dies. I'm

supposed to stand over a body I never expected to

find, not plant one."

     "There are a lot of things that shouldn't be.

You get used to it."

     "I never got used to it," Tim said. "Never.

When the phone rings, I expect the worst, I even

learned to make jokes about it, but I've never gotten

used to it. I don't understand how anyone can. Frank

can. Munch can. Hell, even Kellerman can, but not

me. Me, I'm left at the end of the day with an empty

apartment and a head full of questions I can't

answer, and I wonder why. I'm where I wanted to

be, so why is it so damned hard for me?"

     "Because they're you."

     "What?"

     "You never learned to make the distinction.

When you see a body on the ground, you don't see

them, you see yourself. Who did they love? What

will they miss? What would have happened? Those

things you want to know about them, they're

questions you want answered for yourself. You just

forget that you have the chance to find out, so they

haunt you."

     "I was just talking here, Mulder, just talking.

I wasn't looking for you to profile me."

     Mulder shook his head. "It's what I am."

     "Funny you should say that. Why do you

think you spend your career investigating things you

can't ever really prove and making guesses about

what strangers are like?"

     Stiffening, Mulder checked his seatbelt, and

looked out of the window. "I was just talking.

Everyone's a stranger, everything is a secret."

     They were silent as they drove back toward

the City County building, Bayliss navigating

carefully through the multiple one way streets.

Mulder glanced over at Tim, trying to divine his

thoughts, listening to the other man tick his tongue

against his teeth.

     "I never told Frank."

     "I wouldn't have told Scully. She saw me

with you in the hospital."

     "So you keep secrets."

     "Yes I do."

     "Why?"

     "Why do you?"

     "Some things crawl and ache in your heart so

much that saying them out loud would make them

too much to bear."

     "Makes them real," Mulder mused. "Given

enough silence, a secret can cease to exist."

     Bayliss shook his head. "No, it can't."

     "It sounded good, though."

     "Yes, it did."

(End Part Five)

 

Title:Forward Slash II: Signature (6/8)

Author: Saundra Mitchell

E mail: vii@netdirect.net

Rating: R (Adult Situations, Language)

 

Homicide Unit

 

     "We have a sketch artist working with two

witnesses right now, we should have a drawing real

soon," Taylor said, meeting Bayliss and Mulder at

the elevator door. "Nature's Own is faxing us a list

of customers in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Columbus

and Indianapolis, and we have clean fingerprints for

a match."

     Bayliss' face lit up. "We have a witness?"

     "Don't get too excited. The guy paid two

teenagers to write his numbers on Monument Circle.

It's circumstantial at best, but it's better than

anything else we got."

     "I see a ray of hope," Bayliss grinned.

     Taylor pulled the squad doors opened. "Oh,

and you missed Pembleton and Scully dressing some

idiot down in interrogation."

     The squad room was still busier than ever,

filled with smoke and loud voices. Scully,

Pembleton, Sands and Whitney huddled over one

desk, ignoring the phones ringing around them.

Sands jabbed his finger on the desk, smiling widely

as he talked. Bayliss raised an eyebrow at their

animation. Tim looked over at Taylor for an

explanation.

     "He's been like that ever since we got the

witnesses," Taylor shrugged.

 

Conference Room 4

 

     "Okay," Bayliss said, passing out copies of

the sketch artist's handiwork. "Frank, I want you and

Dana to go back to the Scottish Rite. I realize that

Father Byrne has privilege, but try anyway. Taylor,

you, Whitney and Sands cover all the bars Becker

went to before she disappeared. Mulder and I will

talk to the Becker witnesses, then come back and

canvas the Circle area. We have 36 hours left, let's

get moving."

     Mulder stared down at the bundle of papers

in his hands, sharp line-drawn eyes staring back from

an angular, almost elven face. The face didn't look

much like a killer's, but he reminded himself that

they never did. Lost in thought, he memorized the

drawing, from the neatly cut hair to the tilted lower

lip. Scully pulled him out of his reverie, tapping him

on the arm.

     "You coming?"

     "Yeah." He shook his head, clearing his

thoughts.

     "You okay?"

     He nodded, finding a smile. "Have fun in the

box with Pembleton?"

     Scully grinned. "Absolutely."

 

Father Byrne's Apartment

 

     "Detective Pembleton, Agent Scully. . . I

hadn't expected to see you again."

     Father Byrne wiped his hands on a towel,

then hung it on the side of the sink. He leaned

against the counter wearily, then turned back to the

task of putting away dishes.

     "I have a few questions," Pembleton said

softly, pulling a sketch from his coat pocket. "Have

you ever seen this man in the cathedral?"

     Glancing from the corner of his eye, Father

Byrne considered the question and the drawing.

"Yes."

     "Have you ever seen this man near the

confessional?"

     There was a long pause. Pembleton was

doing his best to avoid the real query, 'Is this the

man who confessed to you.' He just hoped that

Father Byrne would go along. He was under no

obligation to cooperate, but Frank suspected his

guilty conscience might work to their advantage.

     "Yes."

     "Have you ever spoken to this man?"

     Father Byrne nodded silently, dropping

silverware into a drawer.

     "If I asked you anything further about your

conversations with this man, would the answers be

privileged?"

     "Yes."

     Scully bowed her head penitently. "Thank

you, Father."

     Father Byrne looked her over, then smiled

tightly. "You know the way out, I'm sure."

 

Home of Jerri Ritcey

 

     "I don't recognize him, sorry." Jerri crossed

her arms across her chest, shaking her head for

emphasis.

     "You're absolutely sure?"

     "One hundred percent, I've never seen this

guy."

 

Dr. Fornelli's Office

 

     "We have so many people coming through

on a daily basis. . . "

     "Could you take a closer look?"

     "I'm sorry, I don't recognize him."

 

Office of the Director of the Eiteljorg Museum

 

     "No, I've never seen him."

 

The Pan-Am Plaza

 

     "He doesn't look at all familiar."

 

World Mardi Gras

 

     "I've seen him in here a couple of times, but I

didn't see him last week."

     "Do you know his name?"

     "Yeah right, I have time to learn everyone's

names."

 

The 501

 

     "Where's Detective Bayliss?"

     "Also interviewing possible witnesses, sir. I

assure you, we're all working together on this."

     "What were your names again?"

     "Detective Sands and Detective Whitney,

sir."

     "Yeah, I've seen him. We call him John the

Baptist."

     "John the Baptist?"

     "Yeah. He always carries a Bible, and he's

into watersports. It's funny to us, anyway."

     "Do you know his real name?"

     "Sorry. Do you think anyone else here might

know?"

     "Ask Tony down in the restaurant."

 

     "I think his first name is Rick, but I don't

know for sure. I only went out with him once."

     "Do you know where he lives?"

     "Around here, probably. I met him here, we

walked to the restaurant, and afterwards, he walked

home. I don't know anything else."

     "You're sure?"

     "Trust me, if I knew more, I'd tell you. I am

totally sure."

 

2437 Delaware Street

 

     Bayliss knocked on the door again, a little

louder this time. He realized it was getting late, and

people didn't care much for opening their doors to

strangers after dark, but they only had a few houses

to go and he wanted to get it over with. He looked

over at the next house, watching Mulder question a

tiny, antediluvian woman. By the way Mulder leaned

over her, flashing his winning smile, Bayliss knew he

was flirting any information she had right out of her.

As he pondered the approach, the front door to the

house he was standing at swung open, and he was

met by a very large, very angry looking man with a

shotgun.

     Stumbling back a few steps, Bayliss held up

his hands. "I'm a police officer, I just want to ask

you if you recognize . . . "

     "Get off my porch."

     Bayliss reached into his pocket, and pulled

out the sketch. "Please, just put down the gun. All I

want to know is if you know this man."

     Lowering the shotgun, the man stared at the

drawing. "He's a faggot."

     Bayliss' eyes widened. "You recognize him?"

     "Yeah, he's a fucking faggot Bible thumper.

That don't go together if you ask me."

     Swallowing a sense of bitter unease, Bayliss

pressed on. "Where have you seen this man? Do you

know his name?"

     "I don't talk to faggots," the man sneered.

"But he lives down the street. We been trying to

convince him to move. I got kids, you know. I don't

want no faggot getting hold of them."

     "Which address?"

     "It's the white house, right down there," the

man pointed. "Hey, why're you asking? What's he

done?"

     "We just want to ask him a few questions.

Thank you for your cooperation, sir."

     "That's police talk for wantin' to arrest

somebody. I hope you find him, we don't need his

kind around."

 

2419 Delaware Street

 

     "No one's answering," Mulder said finally, as

Bayliss tried to peer into filthy windows. "We'll have

to get a warrant."

     "It's ten thirty," Bayliss complained. "We'll

have to get some judge out of bed, and 'some guy

said' isn't exactly evidence."

     "I don't see that we have much choice at this

point. Let's talk to everyone else first, maybe they

have something to add to the pile."

     "Pile is about right," Tim muttered.

 

Judge Madeline Smith's Office

 

     "I realize it's late, thank you for coming in,

your honor." Bayliss stood respectfully on the

defendant side of the judge's desk, his coat folded

over his crossed hands. Taylor shifted from foot to

foot next to him, infinitely uncomfortable. Judge

Smith liked to have fifteen pounds of evidence and

10 eye witnesses to grant a warrant; she'd tried to

tell Tim that, but he brushed it aside. It didn't really

matter though, Judge Smith was the only one who'd

answered the call.

     "It's not midnight yet, it's not late. What can

I do for you?"

     "We need a warrant." Bayliss smiled

sheepishly, his voice low and soft. He pinned the

judge in his puppy-dog gaze. "Just a line of sight

warrant, nothing big."

     Judge Smith half smiled. "So little to ask,

and what do you have to offer me, Detective

Bayliss?"

     "I have," Bayliss said seductively, "I have

four eye witnesses, a name, an address, and

fingerprints."

     Raising an eyebrow, Judge Smith stood up,

stuffing her hands in her pants pockets. "Really?

That much?"

     "Two witnesses who confirm that our

suspect paid them to write his signature where he

last dropped a body. One witness to whom our

suspect confessed. One witness who places the

suspect in the same bar our last victim visited before

she was murdered."

     "Why does this sound too good to be true?"

The judge peered skeptically over her glasses. "Tell

me the part I won't like."

     "We only have a first name. We don't have

the confession because it's privileged. The

fingerprints won't match anything until we have a

hand to put them with. We can connect our suspect

only to locations and aftermath, not the actual

crime." Tim smiled winningly, expertly concealing

his discomfort.

     "Well, you certainly have courage," Judge

Smith said coldly. "But I have to wonder why

Detective Taylor allowed you to pull me away from

my busy home schedule. Certainly she knew my

standards for granting a warrant."

     Before Bayliss could reply, Taylor stepped

forward. "You've always been fair in the past, your

honor. I know we haven't met your usual standard

for burden, but I believed you'd consider the special

circumstances in this case."

     "You're a very bad liar, detective." Judge

Smith pulled open a desk drawer. "You're a very bad

liar, indeed. I suggest you survey the location and

come back to me when you have enough evidence

for a warrant. No matter how high profile a case is, I

will not be overturned for ignoring due process.

Good night, detectives."

     Bayliss and Taylor gave their good nights,

and filtered out into the hallway. They headed for

the elevator, staring at their feet as they walked.

     "I'm sorry," Bayliss said finally.

     "We hadda try." Taylor shrugged unhappily.

"Would have helped if his name had been on that

thread list."

     "Yep."

     "So we stake out his house."

     "Yep."

     "Wanna get laid?"

     Bayliss turned and stared at Taylor.

"Pardon?"

     She smirked. "Nothing. Let's go share the

bad news, shall we?"

(End Part Six)

 

Title:Forward Slash II: Signature (7/8)

Author: Saundra Mitchell

E mail: vii@netdirect.net

Rating: R (Adult Situations, Language)

 

Corner of Delaware and South Street

 

     "I hate stake outs," Pembleton groused,

unwrapping a sandwich and laying it on the napkin

in his lap. "Human beings were not designed to

spend 12 hours sitting in the same place."

     "We weren't designed to do a lot of the

things we do," Dana agreed, pouring a packet of

sugar into her iced tea. She glanced up over the

dashboard, keeping an eye on the house they were

watching. So far, no one had gone in or out, and the

windows were dark.

     "There was a time when I would have

enjoyed this," Frank admitted. "But those days are

long gone, long gone. Now I just want to arrest

someone and go home."

     "Little jaded there, Frank?"

     "No, a lot. I've been thinking about retiring."

     Scully's eyes widened. "Really? That

surprises me."

     "Why would that surprise you? I have a wife,

two children, and a pension due me. We could move

to Washington and be closer to Mary's parents." He

made a face. "Or we could move back to New York

and live in a real city."

     "It surprises me because I can't imagine what

you would do besides being a cop."

     Frank laughed softly, playing with his

sandwich. "I can't either, but I'm sure I could find

something. I have many talents."

     "Have you told Bayliss this?"

     "Of course not. I can't stand listening to him

mewl and whine."

     "You'll miss him," she said confidently.

     "I most certainly will not," Frank snorted. "It

will be a pleasure to spend days, even weeks,

without being dragged into the passion play he calls

a life. No more arguments over sandwiches

forgotten, no more long discussions on the merits of

playing hearts, no more battles over good dog

names. It will be a pleasure, Dana, a pleasure I can't

begin to explain."

     Scully half smiled, remembering the agony

they shared standing in front of the Cartwright

Mansion, neither knowing if their partners would

walk out or be carried out on a gurney.  Pembleton

could talk all night, but he'd never convince her that

he didn't care about Bayliss.

     "I still don't understand your unnatural

devotion to Mulder."

     She laughed to herself. "He's my partner,

Frank. Where he goes, I go."

     "If I tried to follow Bayliss, I would go

insane. He goes through these phases, completely

incomprehensible to anyone but him. He went out

on a date with one of our witnesses a few months

ago; and while that in itself is odd, this witness was a

man. A man, Dana. I've known Tim Bayliss for six

years now, and never once has he shown that he was

anything but heterosexual. He was uncomfortable

around gay men less than three years ago on a case,

but now, now he's going off on dates with them. No,

I can't follow Bayliss. I don't even understand

Bayliss. I sincerely doubt Bayliss understands

Bayliss."

     At that moment, Scully realized that Tim

hadn't told Frank anything about the time he'd spent

with Mulder in that mansion. An uncomfortable knot

formed in her stomach, and she took a long sip of

her tea.

 

Corner of Delaware and Merrill Street

 

     After sorting out whose food was where,

Mulder and Bayliss sat silently in the car, watching

the house. The night noises of an inner city

neighborhood were a backdrop symphony; animals

in trash cans performed percussion, an old woman

screaming at errant grandchildren was the melody.

     Mulder folded and unfolded the foil around

his gyro, trying to decide whether to bother with the

cucumber sauce. He furtively looked over at Bayliss,

then back down at his dinner. If he'd been with

Scully, he wouldn't be able to shut up. Instead, he

was sitting there silently, playing with a sandwich he

didn't really want, and wishing he weren't noticing

the soft, clean scent of Bayliss' cologne. Willing

himself to pay attention to the surveillance, Mulder

ignored the warmth crawling across his skin.

     "You know," Bayliss started, "Times like

this, I miss smoking."

     Mulder nodded, glad for the conversation.

"Good way to pass time."

     "I mean, I'm glad I quit. I feel much better, I

have more energy, but there's something comforting

about waiting with a cigarette in your hand."

     "Sunflower seeds," Mulder said, picking at

his sandwich. "Almost as good, and they won't kill

you unless you choke."

     "Really. Sunflower seeds?"

     "Really."

     Bayliss shook his head. "See, sunflower

seeds, though, they're so much work. You have to

peel them, you have to keep hold of them. A

cigarette though, just light. It floats in your hand,

there's no effort to it."

     "You could eat the shells."

     "That's disgusting."

     "Some people do it. I don't. I find comfort in

a pile of seedless husks."

     Tim laughed quietly. "That sounds

Freudian."

     Smiling wryly, Mulder ate one of the

tomatoes from his gyro. "In the end, everything can

be Freudian."

     "Not everything."

     "Yes, absolutely everything."

     Rising to the challenge, Bayliss smiled and

thought for a moment. "Asparagus."

     "That's too easy. It's a phallic symbol."

     "Okay, okay, I can see that." He paused.

"Water."

     "The return to the womb."

     "Smoking."

     "Infantile oral fixation."

     "Mother Theresa," Bayliss smiled, laying

down his psychoanalytic trump card.

     "The pleasure principle."

     Tim pushed the straw back into his drink and

stared at Mulder. "The pleasure principle? We're

talking about a nun here."

     "I know that. The pleasure principle is the

concept that people do good because it makes them

feel good, and they don't stop because they require

escalating positive acts to maintain their level of

happiness. It only relates to sexual pleasure if that's

the manifestation which one chooses to pursue."

     "So what you're saying is that Mother

Theresa worked her entire life for the indigent and

downtrodden so she wouldn't see diminishing

returns on her goodness high?"

     Mulder shook his head. "I never said that."

     "That's exactly what you said."

     "No," Mulder argued. "I said that everything

can be boiled down to a Freudian motivation. I

didn't say it was right."

     "Huh." Bayliss adjusted his glasses, and

leaned against the headrest. "The pleasure principle."

 

2420 Delaware Street

Home of Mary Ann Kubistawieky

 

     "Do you all want some coffee or

something?"

     Whitney looked up at their impromptu

hostess, handing the binoculars to Sands. "It's not

necessary, ma'am."

     "No trouble, I reckon, I always make coffee

when the police come."

     Sands raised his eyebrows. "This has

happened more than once?"

     "Well, when they come to take Bobby, I

made coffee," she nodded, rolling her eyes back as if

trying to visually locate other dates in her memory.

"Then when they come to take John, he's my

youngest, made coffee then too. S'comforting, hot

coffee is."

     Whitney exchanged an incredulous glance

with Sands. "Sure, sure then. Coffee would be nice."

     They watched Mrs. Kubistawieky limp into

the kitchen, then heard the sound of water running

into a metal container.

     "So the feller who lives across the street,

what's he into? It must be pretty bad for y'all to be

sitting in my living room watching his house. When

Johnny got sent up for growing pot in the basement,

they just come right in and took him. Warn't nothing

this fancy."

     "We just want to ask him a few questions,

ma'am."

     "He carries on something odd," Mrs.

Kubistawieky offered. "Writing on his porch in chalk

and washing it off, burning trash in his backyard;

that's illegal in city limits, you know. They gave Old

Johnny, may his soul rest in peace, a 40 dollar ticket

for burning trash in our backyard. Milk? Sugar?"

 

Delaware Street

 

     Taylor walked up one side of the street and

down the other, muttering under her breath. She and

four patrol officers were standing various posts

along Delaware, waiting for their suspect to arrive.

With a sigh, she dug her hands into her pockets,

looking for her cigarettes. Instead, she found two

lighters, a book of matches, and a clear, cat's eye

marble. She contemplated the marble before tossing

it on the broken sidewalk. It rolled a few feet, then

was trapped in a fissure.

     Rechecking her pockets, she found four

cents and an empty gum wrapper. She scowled, then

crossed the street again.

 

Corner of Delaware and South Street

 

     The walkie talkie in Scully's lap hissed and

sputtered to life.

     "I don't have any fucking cigarettes."

Taylor's voice crackled over the small speaker.

     "That," Frank announced, "Is the saddest

thing I've heard all day."

     "She never smokes them anyway, she just

lights them."

     "Yes, but it's comforting to know it's there, if

you want one."

     "You used to smoke?" Scully shook her

head. "Of course you did."

     Frank raised an eyebrow. "What do you

mean, of course I did?"

     "Most cops smoke," Scully explained

ingenuously.

     "As a matter of fact, I did smoke. I smoked

all day long; fragrant plumes of burning tobacco

surrounded me in a shroud of planned

obsolescence."

     "You're pining."

     "Pining?"

     "Yes, longing to set a weed on fire and to

inhale the noxious waste thereof."

     "When you put it that way, it sounds

ridiculous."

     "It is ridiculous."

     "So what is your vice, Agent Scully?"

     She shrugged. "I don't have any."

     Pembleton considered her for a moment,

then began to laugh. "You must have one. Everyone

has one. It doesn't even have to be bad for you,

though it's a much more effective vice if it is. So

come on, what's your secret vice, Dana?"

     She mulled over the notion for a moment.

"Pistachio pudding."

     "What kind of vice is that?"

     "My kind," she grinned. "Two cups of milk,

a package of white powder in tupperware, shake,

and five minutes later, a delightful green pudding."

     "Green. Your vice is green pudding."

     "What color did you expect it to be?"

     "Red."

     "They dye them red. In their natural state,

pistachios are green."

     "I know that," Frank sniped. "But if they dye

the nuts, why not the pudding?"

     "They do dye it. They just dye it green."

     "Now that's ridiculous."

     "But delicious right from the container."

     "And this is your vice."

     "Yes indeed," Scully said, stretching her

arms.

     "You need to get out more."

     "Yes indeed."

 

Union Station Parking Garage

 

     Yelena Galifi walked into the parking

garage, clutching her keys between her fingers. It

always made her nervous to be the last one out, but

she paid close attention to her surroundings, and

walked confidently. Her self defense teacher had

congratulated her on her vigilance at the end of her

course, and when she got scared, she thought about

that.

     Over the echoes of her footsteps, she could

hear someone muttering, followed by the sound of

keys hitting concrete. As she rounded the post, she

saw a feminine looking man in a leg cast, trying to

retrieve his keys from underneath an old car. He

looked on the verge of tears when he noticed her,

but only nodded and turned back to his task.

     "Can I help you?" Yelena was surprised to

hear herself speak, but squelched her inner alarm.

Even at a distance, she could tell she was bigger

than this man, and he hadn't even asked for her help.

A bad guy would have approached her, she decided.

     "I dropped my keys," he said in a surprisingly

female voice. It wasn't just a stereotypical "gay lisp,"

but virtually indistinguishable from a woman's voice.

"I can't get down there to get after them."

     With a nod, Yelena walked over,

surreptitiously uncapping the mace in her jacket

pocket. "I'll get them, but could you stand over

there, please?"

     The man nodded through a forced smile,

brushing his scattered blonde locks from his eyes.

He hobbled away slightly, thanking her effusively for

her help. Yelena knelt down, looking under the car

for the keys. They were further under there than she

expected. Putting her own keys down, she braced

herself with one hand and reached with the other.

Scrabbling for a few moments, she finally snagged

the key ring. As she started to pull herself up, she

felt a sharp pain in her hip. She fell to the ground,

her face hitting the pavement with a crack she heard,

but didn't feel.

(End Part Seven)

 

Title:Forward Slash II: Signature (8/8)

Author: Saundra Mitchell

E mail: vii@netdirect.net

Rating: R (Adult Situations, Language)

 

Corner of Delaware and Merrill Street

 

     "Why did you call us in?"

     Tim looked over at Mulder wearily. "What

are you talking about?"

     Examining his hands, Mulder didn't look up.

"Scully and me. Why did you call us in? There's a

field office in Indianapolis. Baltimore too."

     Shrugging, Bayliss removed his glasses and

squeezed the bridge of his nose, hiding a pained

expression. "I knew we could work together. I knew

you wouldn't try to claim jurisdiction."

     Mulder stared out the window. "You're not

answering my question."

     "Then what are you asking, Mulder? You're

starting to get on my nerves."

     "I can write a profile from Washington.

Scully can examine autopsy notes from

Washington." Mulder stopped, suddenly aware that

his heart was racing. He wanted to ask the question,

but he wasn't sure he wanted the answer. Closing his

eyes, he took a breath and pressed on. "Why did you

want us in Indianapolis?"

     Bayliss inhaled through his front teeth,

making a sharp hissing noise. Squinting, he looked

over at Mulder, opening his mouth to answer, then

closing it again. He was suddenly very aware of

Mulder's presence and he caught himself staring at

the strong curve of his jaw. Shaking his head,

Bayliss turned his attention back to the surveillance.

     Sighing, Mulder slumped in defeat. "What

time is it?"

     "Because I wanted to see you again, okay?

It's been two months, and we haven't spoken to one

another. Hell, Dana's been up to see Frank and Mary

four times now, but we haven't even spoken. I

guess. . . I guess I just wanted to see if you'd come."

     They fell quiet again, staring straight ahead.

The edges of the windows were starting to cloud,

and Mulder realized the sounds of the city had

dwindled to nothing. He took a deep breath, and

shifted in his seat to adjust for a discomfort that

wasn't at all physical. Without turning, Mulder raised

a hand tentatively and laid it across one of Tim's.

 

2420 Delaware Street

Home of Mary Ann Kubistawieky

 

     "I'm gonna turn in, gentlemen," Mary Ann

said, prying herself out of an ancient recliner.

"There's coffee in the pot, if you want some. Don't

worry about locking the doors when you leave. It

don't lock anyway."

 

Corner of Delaware and South Street

 

     "Hey, a car," Scully said, trying to twist the

kinks out of her back as she watched it turn down

Delaware.

     "It's slowing down." Pembleton picked up

the walkie talkie, and closed the microphone.

"Taylor, incoming. Late 70s Malibu, identify?"

 

Delaware Street

 

     Taylor leaned against a car nonchalantly,

waiting for the car to get closer. Staring up through

her bangs, she focused on the driver's side of the

windshield, waiting for him to come into view.

When he did, her heart quickened, and she touched

the microphone on her shirt.

     "It's him. Going in."

     Reaching into her jacket, Taylor unfastened

the thumb break on her holster, ready to pull her gun

if necessary. She waited until the man shut the car

off and opened his door before walking swiftly

across the street toward him.

     "Excuse me, sir, Indianapolis Police, could

you step away from the car, please?"

     The little blonde man stared at her, fixed to

his spot. He half raised his hands, but said nothing.

     Touching the mike button with her left hand,

she continued her cautious approach. "Come in."

     Three seconds later, Sands and Whitney

appeared from Mrs. Kubistawieky's house, and

unmarked Caprices pulled up on either side. The

four patrol officers assigned to the watch appeared

out of nowhere, as if they had just faded back into

existence.

     Taylor ordered their suspect up against the

car. Without a word, the man assumed the proper

position to be frisked, but said nothing. She patted

him down, stopping at his jacket pocket.

     "I'm going to put my hand in your pocket.

Am I going to find a needle in there?"

     The man shook his head, still silent.

     "Gimme your flashlight," she said to one of

the patrol officers. He produced a pen light and

handed it to her. Peering down into the suspect's

pocket, she found an orange syringe cap, and a small

rubber topped bottle. "I need some gloves, and a

bag. What's your name, bucky?"

     When he didn't reply, she reached into his

back pocket and pulled out his wallet. She tossed it

to Bayliss, then took the latex glove offered to her

by Scully. Snapping it onto her hand, she reached

into the pocket, and pulled out the bottle.

     "His name's Richard Ward and he has a

nurse's license in here," Bayliss said.

     "Well, Richard Ward," Taylor said, thrusting

the bottle under his nose. "What's this?"

     Before he had the opportunity to say nothing

yet again, the detectives present heard a muffled

moaning coming from inside the car. Taylor's eyes

widened, and she pulled the cuffs from the back of

her pants. Snapping them in place on Rick's wrists,

she reached into his other pocket and pulled out his

car keys. Handing them over to Bayliss, she quietly

recited the Miranda warning to Rick.

     "Do you understand your rights as I have

explained them to you?"

     He nodded in response, his eyes riveted to

the police officers opening his trunk. When he heard

the gasp, he closed his eyes, smiling to himself.

 

Homicide Unit Interrogation 1

 

     Mulder and Scully stood silently behind the

one way glass, watching Pembleton and Bayliss

trying to crack Rick Ward from his silence. Whitney

and Sands were still at the house on Delaware

Street, and Taylor was downstairs doing a rush on

their suspect's prints. At this point, the two federal

agents had nothing to do but watch.

 

     "Do you want a lawyer? Something to

drink?" Bayliss stood over Rick, nodding his head

encouragingly. Rick just shook his head, and stared

straight forward. He hadn't said a word since they'd

pulled him out of the car.

     "Why're you smiling," Frank asked, tapping

his manicured fingers on the table. "You've had that

stupid smile on your face for an hour. What do you

have to smile about? You're a failure, Rick. Yelena

Galifi is sitting in a hospital bed right now, telling a

police officer everything she knows. We have your

fingerprints, and later on, we'll have every damned

thing in your house laid out in evidence control. So

why're you smiling? Hm? Are you stupid?

     In response, the tight-lipped smile widened.

Rick ran his hands through his hair nervously, his

eyes darting from Bayliss to Pembleton, and back to

Bayliss.

     Tim sat next to Rick, presenting a

comforting front. "You know, Frank, I learned

something very interesting today. Very interesting

indeed."

     "What's that, Tim?"

     "The pleasure principle."

     "The pleasure principle?"

     "Yes, Frank, the pleasure principle." Tim

looked seriously at Pembleton. "See, sometimes

people find out that doing something makes them

feel good. It could be, I dunno, rubbing their bellies

with liniment, or accidentally hurting someone.

Anyway, it makes them feel good, and we all want

to feel good right?"

     "I know I do."

     "Of course you do. We all do. So anyway,

these people start to do it on purpose, you know,

whatever makes them feel good, so they don't feel

bad. They just want to feel better, so their ritual,

their vice, if you will, becomes an obsession. It's

completely out of their hands. They can't help it, not

at all, even if they wanted to. They're forced,

psychologically, to keep going."

     "That's very interesting, Tim. But after a

while, a little bit of liniment isn't good enough

anymore, is it?"

     Bayliss put his arm around Rick's shoulder,

leaning across the table. "That's right, Frank. Hey,

you're good at this psychology stuff. Turns out, that

they have to do it bigger, better, to get the same

good feelings. It's an addiction. Nobody's fault, an

addiction; just like drugs or liquor."

     Rick started to shake, then a wheezing

snicker issued from him. Bayliss sat back, staring at

the man.

     "First you're smiling, then you're laughing.

What's wrong with you, boy?"

     For the first time, Rick's smile faltered, then

faded altogether. Tim and Frank were surprised at

the sudden change of demeanor, but stunned when

their suspect began to talk.

     "I know how this works," Rick said in a

woman's voice.

     Bayliss stared, but Frank managed to keep

his veneer of cold disinterest.

     "You think you speak for the dead. You all

do," Rick continued. "But you don't. I can. I do. My

mother said all I needed was a good woman. Is

fourteen enough? This interview is over now. I want

my lawyer."

 

Conference Room 4

 

     "I examined him," Scully said as she walked

into the conference room, her face pale.

     "And?" Taylor crossed her arms over her

chest.

     "It would appear," she began, glancing over

at Mulder for support. "It would appear he cut out

his own tongue and somehow grafted in one of his

victim's. For all intents and purposes, this man

shouldn't be able to speak at all."

     "And yet he can," Pembleton said skeptically,

staring at Mulder as if his very presence had caused

the anomaly.

     "I suggest we keep that little tidbit out of the

newspapers," Bayliss sighed. "The world will find

out soon enough at his trial."

     "Have we heard from Whitney and Sands,"

Taylor asked softly.

     "They're still pulling evidence from his

house," Mulder answered. "So far, we have hemp

thread, syringes, several bottles of succinylcholine. .

. "

     The five sat quietly, overwhelmed by

exhaustion. Now that they had the killer in custody,

the letdown was immense. They looked at the pile of

folders in the center of the table. They had worked

20 hour days doing it, but they had caught their

murderer. Breaking the stillness, Lt. Edmonds burst

into the conference room, his jowly face beet red.

     "Taylor," he barked.

     She stood up, clutching the table for support.

"Yes sir?"

     "Your suspect's dead. He hung himself in

lock up."

     "Oh god," she croaked.

     "In my office, now."

 

Homicide Unit

 

     Bayliss and Mulder sat at Taylor's desk,

waiting for her to reappear. Scully and Pembleton

had gone off in search of a Chinese restaurant still

open for take out at that late hour. Around them,

things seemed almost normal in the unit; detectives

taking phone calls for ordinary murders, the pace no

faster than the bodies fell.

     When the door opened on the unit, Mulder

and Bayliss stood up immediately to greet a somber

Taylor. She brushed past them, and started throwing

the contents of her desk into an empty paper box.

     "What happened," Bayliss asked, putting a

hand on her shoulder.

     "I was irresponsible in the processing of our

suspect," she said, biting out each word.

"Consequently, four states' attorneys are bent the

fuck out of shape, and I'm the last in the line of

goats. Hi ho, Taylor away."

     "You got fired?" Mulder stared at Taylor

incredulously.

     "Yep."

     "Just like that," Bayliss questioned. "No

inquiry, no hearing?"

     "I was already on discretionary probation for

insubordination. They've been waiting for an excuse

to fire me. They got one." She threw the last of her

things into the box and picked it up. "Well

gentlemen, it was a pleasure working with you."

     Mulder glanced over at Bayliss. "Wait, Frank

and Scully are getting Chinese, they'll be back in a

few minutes. Why don't we wait for them, then we

can get a drink?"

     Taylor shook her head, walking toward the

door. "I was asked to vacate the premises

immediately. Thanks anyway, though."

     "We can at least walk you down," Bayliss

said, starting after her.

     "No." Taylor backed against the door,

opening it. "I mean, no thanks. I just want to go

home. I'll see y'around."

 

Hyatt Regency Room 412

 

     Mulder stared at the ceiling tiles, making

patterns where none existed. He'd been trying to

sleep for nearly two hours, failing miserably. Despite

her unspoken desire to be alone, he, Bayliss, Scully

and Pembleton had tried to track Taylor down. She

had either chosen to ignore their knocks at her door,

or she hadn't actually gone home. What should have

been a night of celebration had become a joyless

acknowledgment of a job done. Left with a sour

twist in his stomach, Mulder had retired early to

catch a nap before he boarded the plane back to

Washington.

     There was a soft tap on his door, and he

sighed as he rolled out of bed. Adjusting his boxers,

he opened the door, expecting to see Scully standing

there.

     "Hi," Tim said uneasily, trying to ignore the

fact that Mulder was one pair of shorts shy of nude.

     Mulder dragged a hand through his hair.

"Hi."

     "Can I come in?"

     "Yeah," he replied abruptly, pulling the door

open a little further. Tim stepped inside, looking

around the room. "It's nice. I had to share a room

with Frank."

     "I'm sorry." Mulder shut the door, trying to

figure out what to do with his hands. Normally, he'd

put them in his coat pockets. "One of the advantages

of having a female partner."

     "I guess so."

     "We finally found Taylor," Tim said

haltingly. "Well, she found us, really."

     "Yeah?"

     "Yeah, she came into the bar we were at, but

she was already drunk. We ended up taking her

home."

     "I'd be drunk too."

     "It sucks what happened to her. I wish we

could do something. Anything."

     "I know what you mean."

     "I just hope she's okay. All alone, I mean."

 

     "Me too."

     "So anyway, I figured you'd be leaving

today, and I didn't know if I'd get a chance to say

good bye," Bayliss said finally, stepping toward the

door.

     "You're not going back?"

     "No, not yet. I have to finish some

paperwork, do a couple of press conferences. I'll

probably be here a couple more days."

     "Oh."

     They stood only a few feet apart, stumbling

for the right words. Eventually, Bayliss sighed to

himself. "It's late, I'd better go."

     Mulder nodded imperceptibly, his hand

resting on the door handle. He wanted to stop him,

but he didn't know how.

     Tim took a step forward, now only inches

from Mulder, gripping the back of his neck as he

stared at the floral patterned carpet. He hovered

there, not daring to look up, but unwilling to leave.

He was the one who'd wanted to see Mulder again,

to find out if there was anything there, and now he

was on the verge of leaving without finding out. He

reached and touched Mulder on the shoulder,

drawing a jagged breath. In an instant, he had

decided to ignore his apprehensions.

     They leaned forward at the same moment, all

hesitation gone. The hand that had rested on

Mulder's shoulder stole up, twining itself in his

tousled hair. Pressed against the door, Mulder

leaned harder into the kiss, helplessly overwhelmed

by the sensation of Bayliss' body against his.

     He had thought about this, lying alone in his

Washington apartment; thought about being Bayliss'

arms again, their tongues intertwined as their hands

scrabbled to touch familiar but separate bodies. A

soft moan bubbled in Mulder's throat as Tim gently

bit his lower lip, the hand in his hair tightening in

gentle, erotic pain.

     Finally Tim pulled away, keeping his eyes

closed, and his forehead against Mulder's. They

exhaled together, sharp breaths of passion slowly

growing longer and more controlled. Mulder half

opened his eyes then licked his lips, pulling Bayliss

closer. The last time, he could see nothing in the

oppressive dark, now he could see the soft curve of

Tim's eyelashes, the tremble of his lips in the

awkward moment when something would be

decided.

     For the first time in his life, Mulder

completely understood finding beauty in another

man. In his low, honeyed voice, he whispered one

word, his arms tightening around the other man's

waist.

     "Stay."

 

(End of Part Eight)

(The End)



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