The Love Song of F. William Mulder
By: Sam Lincoln

Category: CAX

Rating: PG-13/R for scenes of graphic violence.

Disclaimer: All characters from the X-Files are the intellectual
property of 1013 Productions and 20th Century Fox. All characters
from the works of Thomas Harris are, obviously the intellectual
property of Thomas Harris.

Summary: An infamous evil returns, but what is his connection to
Mulder?

*Beach, 3:30 AM*

It was the night of the prom and a group of students were celebrating
with a beach bonfire. The large fire blazed against the night sky and
loud rock music blared out of a portable stereo. Some of the
party*goers danced, while others sat around and talked. From time to
time couples slipped away from the main group and stole into the
night.

One such pair of inebriated teens stumbled over a dune, putting the
rest of the part out of sight. The boy leaned over to kiss the girl,
who pushed him away.

"I don't know Vance," the girl said, "this doesn't seem like a good
idea..."

"Come on Steph, you know I love you." The boy pleaded. "And with you
going away to that fancy school we might not get the chance for a long
time," he reached out and stroked Steph's face.

She caught Vance's hand in hers, "I know, but I'm saving myself,
remember? I do love you, but I made that promise."

"You also promised you wouldn't get drunk," Vance countered. "You're
eighteen Steph, you don't have to live by his rules anymore."

"But..." Steph said, visibly wavering.

"You say that you love me, so prove it...I'll even use protection," he
added. He kissed her again, this time she did not push him away.

"I don't want anyone to see is," Steph said after they broke for air.

"We can hide out in that cliff, there are a bunch of caves and stuff
in it." Vance pointed over to a large outcropping of rock further
down the beach. "Nobody will know we're there."

The two horny teens made their way across the beach to the cave, which
was more a small valley than a cave. As soon as they were sheltered
by the rocks Steph launched herself at Vance and the couple staggered
further into the outcropping, shedding clothes as they went.

"Oh Vance," Steph gasped, "I love you..." she was cut off when she
tripped over something and fell down. "What the hell?" She
exclaimed as she rolled over to see what tripped her, and came face to
face with a head. Steph shrieked and scrambled to her feet. Lying
before them in the pale moonlight was a corpse. Steph sobbed and
clung to Vance, who in turn leaned over and vomited.

"We have to go back," Steph said between sobs, "We need to call the
police." Vance just nodded and the teens ran away from the
outcropping, leaving the corpse staring up at the moon.

*FBI HQ, 7:58am*

Fox Mulder walked into his office armed with two cups of coffee. He
found his partner, Dana Scully, waiting for him inside. "Morning
Scully," he said in greeting.

"Morning Mulder," Scully said, not looking up from the file she was
reading. "Mulder?" she asked.

"Yeah?" Mulder set one of the coffee cups down next to his partner
and sat down behind his desk.

"Why do you have copies of the Starling and Lector files?" She stared
at her partner intently.

Mulder squirmed in his seat, "What, a guy can't be interested in the
most famous case in the Bureau's history?"

"Let's just say it falls outside your normal ranger on interests,"
Scully replied. "did you know Agent Starling?"

"We worked together on a couple of cases when we were both with BSU,
but I never really got to know her," Mulder said over his coffee.
"How about you?"

"She was a female agent, of course I knew her. Not that we were
friends, but we'd see each other at meetings, conferences, symposia,
that sort of thing. Why do you ask?"

"I asked because you asked me, what's good for the gander is good for
the goose."

"Well I asked you because I want to know why you've all of a sudden
taken an interest in a dead case that has nothing to do with the
X*Files...it doesn't right?"

Mulder shrugged, "As far as I know. I suppose for the practice, and
to see if maybe I could find something that everyone else missed."

Scully steepled her fingers, "So what do you think happened to Agent
Starling?"

"That's the big question isn't it, and whoever figures it out wins the
prize. Tell you what I'll tell you my theory if you tell me yours."

"My guess is that he killed her," Scully said. "He was wrapping up
loose ends, Milton Varger and Clarice Starling."

Mulder nodded, "That's certainly possible, but I think that..."
Mulder was interrupted by the phone ringing. He picked up the
receiver, "Agent Mulder, yes, we'll be right there." He hung the
phone up. "You, me, Skinner's office, now." They stood up and left
the office, leaving the file folders open. On top of the stack of
papers lay a picture of Lector taken during his incarceration. In the
photo Lector stared at the camera like a wolf in the zoo stares at the
zookeepers.

*A.D. Skinner's office, 8:03 am*

Skinner's assistant let Mulder and Scully into the Assistant
Director's office and the two agents sat down in the chairs in front
of Skinner's desk; all without Skinner looking up from his paperwork.


Mulder cleared his throat, "You wanted to see us sir?"

Skinner put his pen down and picked up two folders, "yes I did, now
pay attention because we have to move quickly. Earlier this morning a
body was discovered on a beach in Maryland. The local authorities
requested our help and you two are going to do just that."

"If I may sir, why us?" Scully asked.

"Because Agent Scully, there are some abnormalities regarding this
case, and the two of you are the best at dealing with abnormalities."

"Just what sort of abnormalities are we talking about here?" Mulder
asked.

"The body was found with a peach jammed into its mouth."

"A peach?" Scully asked in disbelief.

"Yes, a peach," Skinner replied. "There's a chopper waiting for you
right now. The local police haven't moved the body yet, but obviously
the clock is running so move people."

"Yes sir," Scully replied as she and Mulder stood up.

"Good luck agents," Skinner told the pair before returning to his
paperwork.

Mulder and Scully walked in silence to the helipad. Scully caught
Mulder's arm before he boarded the helicopter. "Mulder, what is it?"
You haven't said a word since Skinner's office."

Mulder shook his head, "It's nothing."

"come on Mulder, what are you thinking?"

Mulder stared at Scully for a moment before putting on his sunglasses,
"I think it's a nice day to go to the beach." He climbed into the
helicopter before Scully had a chance to respond.

*Beach, 9:37 PM*

The FBI helicopter swung over the beach and landed next to a cluster
of police cars and ambulances. Mulder and Scully got out of the
helicopter, which promptly took off again.

"He's going to meet us at the police station," Scully explained to
Mulder as they ducked under a line of police tape.

"Who found the body?" Mulder asked.

"A couple of teenagers looking for a make*out spot," Scully replied.

Mulder nodded and watched as a policewoman wearing a campaign hat
walked towards them. "It's showtime," Mulder whispered to Scully.

"Hi there," the policewoman said, "I'm Sheriff Danielle Hammond, you
must be the FBI agents I requested?"

"That's right," Mulder said while flashing his badge, "I'm Special
Agent Fox Mulder, and this is my partner Special Agent Dana Scully."

"Believe me I'm damn glad to see you here," Hammond said after shaking
their hands, "I'm not saying we're a bunch of amateurs here, but we're
used to dealing with domestic disputes and traffic accidents. You
know, normal stuff."

"Have you identified the victim yet?" Scully asked the sheriff.

Hammond shook her head, "He's not from around here and he didn't have
any ID on him."

"And the only people who've been here are the two who found the body
and your people?"

The sheriff nodded, "That's correct Agent Mulder, I figured you
wouldn't want a lot of people getting in your way and polluting the
crime scene."

"Signature killers like to return to the crime scene, a smart one
would only do so if there's a crowd. If there was a crowd we could
have had your deputies looking for anything unusual."

"Well shoot, I didn't think of that," the sheriff admitted.

"I'm sure the victim's family will appreciate your keeping this from
turning into a media circus," Scully added.

"Where's the body?" Mulder asked brusquely.

"Right over here," Hammond said, "Follow me and I'll show you."

The FBI agents followed the sheriff as she walked towards a rock*faced
cliff. "Mulder," Scully hissed.

"Yeah?"

"What are you doing?"

"My job."

"There's no reason to berate the woman over following procedure."

"Scully, do you know how many killers get caught because they return
to the crime scene?"

"I understand that Mulder, but nothing says that would be true in this
case, so lay off."

Mulder shrugged but didn't say anything. Instead he examined their
surroundings. One either side of them forbidding rock walks loomed.
The floor of the valley consisted of sand with tufts of beach grass
sprouting up in patches. Mulder kneeled and examined the ground.

"Have you accounted for every set of footprints?" he asked.

The sheriff turned and nodded, "There was just the two kids' when we
got here."

Mulder nodded, "Ok, let's see the body." He stood back up and walked
over to where a group of policemen were standing.

Sheriff Hammond walked over to Scully's side. "No offense, but is
your partner always..."

"This crabby?" Scully supplied.

"...a flaming ass," Hammond finished.

Scully sighed, "He's really not that bad once you get to know him.
It's just, these cases put him on edge."

Hammond took off her hat and ran her fingers through her blonde hair,
"Still, he's nice to look at."

Scully shrugged, "I suppose."

"What, you've never sat back and just enjoyed him?"

"I'm going to see if Mulder needs any help," Scully muttered before
escaping the conversation.

Mulder sidestepped the knot of deputies and got his first good look at
the corpse. As he stood there Scully walked up next to him.

"So what do you think?" Scully asked, "Did he wash ashore?"

"He sheriff," Mulder called out, "does high tide reach this far?"

"Well that answers that," Mulder said. "He was dumped." He walked
around the corpse, "Do you see any signs of injury?"

Scully shook her head, "No, but we'll know more after the autopsy."
She cocked her head to one side, "Pretty strange clothes, are they
flannel?"

Mulder knelt down and examined the pants, "White flannel," he glanced
down at the dead man's feet, "with the cuffs rolled up," he frowned,
"Hey Scully, is he balding?"

Scully walked around the body and looked at it's head, "A little,
why?"

Mulder stood up, "Sheriff Hammond I need someone to drive me to the
library."

"Do you want me to come along?" Scully asked.

"No, I need you to find out how this man died," Mulder ordered as he
walked towards the mouth of the valley.

"What is it?" Scully asked.

Mulder stopped and faced his partner, "I need to do some research," he
said before continuing on.

"Here we go," Scully muttered to herself. She looked down at the
corpse, "And who the hell are you?"

*County Coroner's Office, 12:14 PM*

Scully adjusted her rubber gloves and turned on her tape recorder.
"This is Special Agent Dana Scully, I am about to perform the autopsy
of a John Doe, determine the cause of death and rule on the
possibility of a homicide. The subject is six feet tall, weighs two
hundred and five pounds and is approximately forty years in age. On
discovery the subject was dressed in a white flannel suit," Scully
paused, "with the cuffs of his pants rolled up." She picked up a pair
of forceps, "There was also a peach lodged in the subject's mouth. I
am removing it now." She used the forceps to force the dead man's
mouth further open and gingerly removed the peach. "The peach appears
to be a normal specimen of the fruit, but we'll have to have the lab
do a more complete examination." She placed the peach in a container
before continuing. "There are no obvious signs of struggle on the
body," Scully took a syringe and withdrew a sample of blood. "No
visible cause of death. I will now make a Y*incision.

As Scully reached for her knife the door to the examination room
opened and Mulder walked in. "Find anything yet Scully?"

Scully turned off the tape recorder. "Nothing yet, I just started my
examination. Did you find what you were looking for at the library?"

Mulder nodded, "That I did."

"And?" Scully asked, exasperated.

"And check the lungs for salt water, he was drowned." Mulder turned
and walked out of the room.

*County Police Station, 1:52 PM*

Scully found Mulder sitting in a break room tying something on his
laptop. "Ok, how did you know?" She demanded.

Mulder looked up from his computer, "How did I what?"

"The cause of death."

Sheriff Hammond came into the room, "You determined the cause of
death?" She asked Scully.

"The victim died as a result of drowning," Scully said, "In salt
water," she added. "So I ask again, Mulder, how did you know?"

"We have lingered in the chambers of the sea/By sea girls wreathed
with seaweed red and brown/Till human voices wake us and we drown," he
recited.

"I don't get it," Sheriff Hammond said.

"How's your college poetry?" Mulder asked. "It's a poem by TS
Elliott."

Scully frowned, "The Wasteland?"

Mulder shook his head, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

"Wait, so you knew this poor bastard was drowned because of some
poem?"

Mulder nodded, "It fits. Listen, 'I shall wear the bottom of my
trousers rolled/Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach/I
shall wear white flannel and walk upon the beach.' The victim was
present like the narrator in the poem. In fact that's why this victim
was selected, he fit the part of Prufrock."

The sheriff sank into a chair, her hands massaging her temples, "Oh, I
feel a migraine coming on."

A deputy walked into the room. "The, uh, FBI just faxed this over,
it's the ID on the body based on the dental records Agent Scully sent
over." He handed a sheet of paper to the sheriff and left the room.

Hammond read the sheet then handed it to Scully, "His name was Mark
Strain from Hannibal Missouri."

Mulder closed the laptop and returned it to his bag. "Okay Sheriff
Hammond we've got all we need from here for now. Either ourselves or
another pair of agents will be here tomorrow." He stood up and walked
to the door. "Come on Scully."

"Wait, you're leaving already?"

"Sure, this is a dead end the killer chose your beach because it was
secluded, the murder itself was committed somewhere else. Cheer up
sheriff, you don't have a psychopath on your hands. It's our
problem." Mulder pushed Scully out the door.

"How can you be so sure?" Hammond demanded.

"Because I know who the killer is...Hannibal Lector," Mulder walked
out of the room, leaving behind a stunned sheriff.

*Randal Watkins Memorial Park, 1:57 pm*

Hannibal Lector casually sat on a park bench facing the police
station. From where he was sitting he could see the black helicopter
with FBI markings and he was curios to see who the FBI had sent.
There wasn't much point to the whole exercise otherwise. He reached
into the picnic basket Clarice had prepared for him. Clarice, the
thought made him smile. It was that sort of amusement that was
missing from his life, hence his return to US soil, and the dead body
on the beach. Lector withdrew a bottle of mineral water and took a
sip. As he patted his lips dry with a napkin he took a moment to
survey his surroundings. It wouldn't do for the most wanted man in
America to be caught one hundred yards from a police station. He did
not see anything that aroused his suspicious, just mothers and fathers
with their children. Up until recently Lector had not given much
thought to children, but now he was starting to think that it might be
nice to have someone he could bestow his experience onto. It was
something he planned to discuss with Clarice when he returned home.

His reverie was broken when he saw a man enter the helicopter and
start the craft up. "Going home already eh?" Lector said to himself.
"You're either brilliant or a dunce, let's see which you are." He
reached into the picnic basket and withdrew a camera. He pointed the
camera at the helicopter and then waited. It did not take long before
a man and a woman came into view. Lector could not see the man's face
because his face was turned towards the woman. Lector took a picture.

"I don't know you," he told the woman, "You must be new. Now as for
you my good man, if you'd just turn around." As if on cue the lanky
man with the dark hair turned and faced where Lector was sitting.

"My, my," Lector muttered as he took a picture, "Agent Fox Mulder, so
nice to see you again. Yes, this will be a profitable venture,
profitable indeed." Lector returned the camera to the basket and
withdrew a croissant. He did not know how Clarice managed, but she
could always find the most delectable croissants. Lector took a bite
of the pasty and leaned back on the bench. He would have to give
Agent Mulder a call, just to catch up on old times.

*FBI Helicopter, 1:58 PM*

"Mulder, I still can't believe you'd tell the sheriff something like
thatÉMulder?" Scully asked when she saw that she did not have Mulder's
attention.

Mulder, who had been looking out the window of the helicopter turned
in his seat and faced his partner. "What?" He asked, "Sorry Scully,
my attention drifted."

"Did you see something important out there?" Scully asked, the
sarcasm dripping from her voice.

Mulder glanced out the window, but the man on the park bench eating
lunch out of a picnic basket had disappeared. "No, I don't think so."

"Then would you mind explaining to me why you decided to scare that
poor woman half to death with your theory that the boogyman did it?"

"Hannibal Lector is no the boogyman Scully, he's very real."

"So why did you say he did it?"

"Because he did."

"ButÉ"

"Because he fits the profile."

"What profile?"

Mulder pulled his jacket over his head, "The one in my briefcase, that
I wrote in the library."

"Just because you've been reading Lector's case file is no reason to
think he's responsible for this," Scully insisted. "Do you know how
many times people have claimed Lector was responsible for a murder
since Agent Starling's disappearance?"

"I'm guessing a lot," Mulder said from underneath his jacket.

"And how many times did it turn out to be Lector?"

"I'm guessing none."

"My point exactly, Lector is just a convenient scapegoat."

"There's a difference here Scully. I'm the person saying its' Lector,
not a husband trying to divert attention from himself. Not an
incompetent cop looking for an easy answer, but me. And when have I
been wrongÉabout a profile," he hastily added.

Scully sighed, "I really hope you're wrong Mulder."

"So do I."

*FBI HQ, 2:36 PM*

Skinner was waiting on the edge of the tarmac when the helicopter
landed. "What the hell were you thinking?" Skinner raged when Mulder
disembarked.

Mulder handed Skinner a file folder, "The victim was presented in a
manner based on the poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock," by TS
Elliot. The peach, clothes, and location are all explicitly referred
to in the poem. This suggests we're dealing with a highly literate
killer with a sense of humor."

Skinner frowned, "A sense of humor? What's so funny about a dead
body?"

"Well sir," Mulder continued, "It helps if you know that Elliot is
very popular among crime fiction as a focal point for signature
killers. Two of his works, "Wasteland," and "The Hollow Men," have
been very prominently featured in two highly successful novels. It's
almost a clichŽ to use an Elliot poem in such stories."

"So our guy isn't showing much originality, big deal."

Mulder shook his head, "It's deliberate Prufrock is probably the
best*known, and most accessible, of Elliot's lesser works. By
choosing Prufrock the killer is mocking pop culture. It's just the
sort of 'gag' that would appeal to Lector. I suspect we're going to
find out that this peach is one of the more exotic varieties, also in
keeping with Lector's personality. Plus the pants were very well
pressed."

"You'll need more than well pressed pants to convince me Agent,"
Skinner growled.

Mulder glanced at Scully, "You can jump in here any time and back me
up," he said to his partner.

"Oh no, you seem to be doing a fantastic job all on your own," Scully
quipped.

"Alright," Mulder sighed, "There's the poem itself."

"You mean beyond its ironic selection?" Skinner asked.

"Yes, Prufrock is about a middle*aged man bemoaning the onset of his
declining years. Lector is not a young man, and this could be his way
of showing that he won't slip quietly into senility."

"It's an interesting theory Agent Mulder," Skinner said after a moment
of reflection. "But you don't have any hard proof, right?"

"I don't have a signed confession if that's what you're asking."

"Any piece of physical evidence would be a nice start."

"If I had said it was anyone other than Lector you would have believed
me, right?"

"Agent Mulder, you know as well as I do that profiles are only
generalities that suggest motivation for a person's behavior. Just
because a person fits a certain pattern does not conclusively say that
person is guilty."

"Why do you refuse to believe this? What's so scary about Lector?
He's just a man, he's been caught before."

"Because Lector is a headache I don't want to consider unless I
absolutely have to. I don't want to cause a needless panic."

"And if it is Lector?" Mulder shot back.

"Then we'll have needed panic," Skinner replied. "But until then you
don't tell anyone outside of the three of us. If I see this in the
Tattler I'll have your head."

"What about Sheriff Hammond?" Scully asked.

"I explained to her that her ass would be mounted next to Mulder's
head in my office if the story leaked."

"Oh,"

"Now, I want the two of you to work this case full time. Mulder get
on the horn to Quantico and go over your preliminary profile with
them. Scully take the evidence you've gathered down to the lab. I'll
want you both back in Maryland tomorrow. Cheer up Mulder, you get to
be Agent in charge of this investigation."

"Sir?" Mulder asked.

"Just think of it as a little incentive to keep an open mind. You
know the rule regarding Lector right?"

Mulder nodded, "If you've ever interacted with Lector you can't work
in the field against him. He likes to target agents. For the same
reason he also enjoyed taking potshots at hunters during deer season.
The hunted hunter imagery amuses him."

"Which is why if it is Lector you're going back to the basement."

Mulder glared at Skinner, "I thought you'd know by now that I don't
respond well to threats."

"I think you have a conference call to make," Skinner growled.

"I don't see the point since I know who the killer is," Mulder
replied, his tone dark.

"He'll get right on that," Scully interjected as she grabbed Mulder
and dragged him off the tarmac.

Skinner waited until the door had shut behind the two agents before
taking out his cellphone and dialing a number. "It's Skinner, yes, I
explained it to him. He reacted exactly like you thought he would,
I'll keep you informed." Skinner finished the call and put away his
phone. "Son of a bitch!" he cursed to no one in particular.

*Baltimore, 2:42 PM*

Lector deposited his picnic basket on the dining room table in his
rented apartment. He took the camera out of the basket and walked
into a makeshift darkroom he'd set up. With practiced ease he
developed the film he'd taken at the police station.

"Hello again Agent Mulder," Lector said as Mulder's face appeared on a
print. "Let's find out what you've been up to." He left the pictures
hanging up to dry and left the darkroom.

Lector picture up a phone and from memory dialed the number of the FBI
switchboard. "Hello, my name is Richard Cairns. I work in Senator
Graham's office, and I was wondering if you could give me the number
for Agent Fox Mulder? My authorization number? Certainly, it's
530025759," Lector read the number off of a card. It had been so nice
of Mr. Cairns to write the number down, and then tell his office that
he'd be taking a week off to visit a sick friend in Baltimore. Of
course people often are very nice after they've been threatened with
having their flesh removed an in at a time. "I'm sorry, what
department did you say?" Lector asked the operator, "The X*Files?
And the number?" Lector copied the number onto a piece of paper.
"You wouldn't happen to have his cell phone number to would you?
Splendid. Thank you very much for your time." Lector hung the phone
up and sighed. It was a shame Clarice wasn't available. He was
curious as to what these X*Files were, and he couldn't call on Agent
Mulder until he knew. Which meant he had to use that infernal
contraption called a computer to find out. Like most men his age
Lector distrusted computers. They lacked the soul found in the
written word. Still he had to admit they had their uses. He logged
into a law enforcement website using an access code Clarice had given
him and did a search on X*Files.

"My, my," he said to the screen, "Agent Mulder, you certainly have
chosen an interesting line of work."

*FBI HQ, 2:43pm*

"You never told me you'd met Lector," Scully said as soon as they got
on the elevator.

Mulder shrugged, "There's not much to tell, it was during his
incarceration. Crawford took me along on an interview shortly after I
joined BSU."

"Why would he do that?" Scully wondered.

"It was an initiation ritual. Crawford felt that if you sit through a
session with Doctor Lector and not crack up then you could hack it in
BSU."

"I take it you didn't crack up," Scully observed.

"Well no then. Actually I found the whole thing funny."

Scully arched an eyebrow, "Funny?"

"Well yeah, the way a spook house is funny. You start out with
Chilton giving you the 'His heart rate never exceeded 90; even when he
ate her tongue,' speech. Then you had the trip down to the cell while
they told you the rules, the heavily armed orderly station, the long
walk past all the other inmates, Lector couldn't be held near the
door. And finally, the good doctor himself. I think Lector was in on
it with Crawford."

"Why? I thought Lector didn't like Crawford."

"Oh he didn't, but this was a chance to mess with someone's head, and
Hannibal never passed up a chance to do that."

"And you found that funny?"

"It was all so over the top that it bordered on the ridiculous."

"So what was Lector like?"

Mulder shrugged, "I don't know, he was too busy playing 'Hannibal the
Cannibal.' The important thing about Lector is that everything he
tells you is a lie, after some fashion. Did you know he forged most
of his background? His whole existence is gear towards destroying
your mind and he tailors his approach for each victim."

"I didn't know you were such an expert on Lector," Scully quipped, a
little nervous about discovering this side of her partner.

"I'd like to think that outside of two or three people I know Lector
better than anyone else in the world." The elevator door opened and
Mulder stepped off followed closely by Scully.

"Ok, so my question would be why?" Scully asked as she stepped in
Mulder's path.

"Because I believe in being prepared," Mulder said as he stepped
around his partner and opened the door to his office.

"Isn't that taking things to the extreme?" Scully asked as she
followed Mulder into the office.

"Since when do I do things in moderation?"

"Becoming an expert on Hannibal Lector? That's a bit much, even for
you."

"You didn't meet him," Mulder said quietly. The phone on Mulder's
desk rang and he picked up the receiver. "Mulder."

"Hello Agent Mulder," The quiet, cultured voice of Hannibal Lector
said from the other end of the line. "It's been a long time."

"Uh yeah, it sure has," Mulder said as he grabbed a pen and pad of
paper off of his desk. "So what have you been up to?"

"I think you know that."

"Now how do you know that? You always hated psychics," He wrote
"Trace this call," on the pad and held it up for Scully to see.

"Really Fox, you used to be so much more subtle. I saw you in
Maryland."

"The old man on the park bench, right, you're slipping Hannibal."
Scully's eyes widened as she spoke on her cell phone.

"And yet, here I am, and there you are. By the way you don't need to
bother with a trace on this call. I'm in Baltimore, 112 West Rogers
Street, Apartment 14. Not that it matters, I'll be long gone by the
time the police arrive."

"Sure about that are you?" Mulder asked as he held the address up for
Scully to see.

"I just wanted to call you and ask one simple question. We can talk
about your X*Files later."

"What exactly is Prufrock about? Don't answer that now, thinking
about it. I'll call back. Give my regards to your partner. And
Fox?"

"Yes?"
"I haven't forgotten my promise. Ta*ta." The line went red.

Mulder hung the phone up and checked his tape recorder to make sure it
had recorded the conversation. "I guess I was right," he commented to
his stunned partner.

*AD Skinner's office, 3:52 PM*

"I haven't forgotten my promise." Skinner turned off the tape player
and looked at the small group sitting around the table in his office.
"Ok people, it looks like Agent Mulder was correct and Hannibal Lector
is back."

"How did he get Agent Mulder's number?" One of the agents asked.

"The switch board confirms that a Richard Cairns called asking for the
number; he had the proper authorization so the number was provided."

"The man's dead," Mulder interjected.

"How do you know for sure?" Another agent asked.

Mulder fixed the man with an icy stare. "Because Agent Morales,
Lector hates loose ends. He got the information he needed from Cairns
and then killed him. Check nearby quarries for the body."

"How could you possibly know that?" Morales protested.

Mulder rubbed his forehead in frustration, "That's where the body is,
alright?"

Skinner picked up his phone, "Call around to all the quarries in the
DC or Baltimore area and see if any of them have found a body," he
hung the phone up.

"When do we go to Baltimore?" Mulder asked.

"We are going shortly," Skinner replied, "You are staying here. As of
this moment you're going back to the X*Files."

"What?" Mulder exclaimed.

"Mulder you've got Hannibal Lector calling you up. If you think I'm
going to let you work on this case you must think I'm crazier than he
is."

"But I'm the person best quipped to track Lector down."

"There are plenty of smart people over in Quantico Mulder."

"They're not in Lector's league and you know it," Mulder shot back.

Scully put a hand on Mulder's arm. "Maybe this isn't such a bad idea.
Lector seems to have it in for you, and the best place you should be
is somewhere else.

"Look, if Lector is after me then the safest place to be is chasing
him. Besides, Lector expects me to take part in the investigation."

"And goodness knows we have to do what he asks," Morales quipped. The
rest of the table chuckled.

"If I'm on the case then Lector will stay in touch with me. That
presents opportunities to trap him. Or at least guess what his next
move will be. He won't do that if he doesn't think I'm in the game."

"So what you're saying is that you want to be used as bait?" Skinner
asked.

Mulder nodded, "Something like that yes,"

"Skinner shook his head, "It's too risky. Take the time as a chance
to get caught up on your paperwork."

"Sir," Mulder began to protest.

"I don't want to hear it."

"Fine, but every person that psychopath kills while I'm sitting on my
hands will be on your head!" Mulder stood up and stormed out of the
office.

Scully also stood up," The meeting's not over," Skinner said sternly.

"I know that sir," Scully replied, she did not return to her seat.

"This is for his own good."

"I know that sir," Scully did not look at Skinner.

The assistant director sighed, "Fine, it's your career." Scully
nodded and walked out of the office.

"Spooky has got to be nailing her," Morales said to the agent next to
him. "Why else would she walk out of this case?"

"It's called loyalty to your partner, a concept I hope isn't totally
foreign to you," Skinner said tersely. "Now can we get back to the
matter at hand? This isn't the time for gossip. Or would you like to
explain to the press what the FBI was doing instead of looking for Dr.
Lector?" Morales sunk into his chair, and did not reply. "Okay then,
moving alongÉ"

*Office of the X*Files, 4:11 PM*

Scully walked into the office and found Mulder rummaging through a
storage cabinant. "Mulder, what are you doing?"

"Looking for my camera."

"Why?"

"So I can take pictures of sunsets. Why, what do you think I'm doing?"

"I think you're about to drive to Baltimore, even though Skinner told
you not to."

Mulder paused, and smiled at Scully, "there is that too," he admitted.

"Mulder, no, you're not."

Scully, yes, I am."

"But why?"

"Because somebody has to stop Lector and it's not going to be the boys
and girls in Quantico," Mulder snapped.

"What is it about Lector that has you so worked up?" Scully asked.
"The only other times I've seen you like this have involved your
sisterÉ" Scully paused, "You don't think Lector had anything to do
with your sister?"

"No, of course not. I checked, Lector was nowhere near Massachusetts
at the time. It's just, I know Lector, and what he's capable of, and
that sort of person has to be stopped." Mulder took a camera out of
the storage cabinet and placed it inside of a duffel bag. "Well
Scully, are you in or out?"

"You are not going to Baltimore," Scully insisted.

"Why not? It's probably the safest place in the country. There's no
way Lector is still there, not after telling me the address. Come on
Scully if Lector is after me do you think it's safe here?"

"And what if it's a trap?" Scully shot back. "If Lector really is as
clever as you say he is wouldn't he anticipate that you'd feel safe
going where he's been?" Hunting the hunter."

Mulder frowned, "That's possible, but even so, I can't let the threat
of Lector keep me from my job."

"And your job is the X-Files, not capturing Hannibal Lector," Scully
said, scolding her partner.

"That's where you're wrong Scully. I have to capture Lector, for
Clarice if nothing else," he added.

"Ok, what haven't you told me about you and Agent Starling?"

"I'll tell you in the car."

"Who says I'm going with you?"

"You want to know about me and Agent Starling, don't you?"

"You're trying to get me fired aren't you," Scully accused her
partner.

"Well, are you coming or not?"

Scully sighed and grabbed a pair of rubber gloves. "Someone has to
keep you out of trouble."

"Don't worry, we'll be back before Skinner even knows we're gone."
Mulder opened the office door, and nearly walked into Skinner who was
standing in the entryway. "Uh sir, what brings you down here?"

"How did you know?" Skinner demanded.

"Know what?"

"Richard Cairns, how did you know where his body was?"

"So he was found?"

Skinner nodded, "Earlier today the Maryland State Police pulled a body
matching Cairns' description out of a quarry. So how did you know?
Did he tell you?"

Mulder shook his head, "No, he didn't tell me. Like I said, I know
Lector." He stared at Skinner, "And I'm going to Baltimore."

"Mulder, I'm not as dense as you might think. Did it ever occur to
you that I want you to work on this case outside of the Task Force?"

"Then what was that up in your office?" Scully asked.

"That was politics, wasn't it Walter?"

"We all know you don't work well with others, I did you a favor by
removing you from the Task Force."

"But what happens when people start to question why Mulder's
investigating the case?"

"Then I'll tell them that you two are doing some legwork for me I'll
take the heat for Mulder being in the field, though your little
demonstration today should placate the powers that be somewhat."

"Lector is going to call me again," Mulder observed.

"I'm counting on it."

"So I am going to be bait."

"No offense Mulder, but you're the juiciest worm we have right now."

"Then I guess I'd better wiggle for all I'm worth," Mulder quipped.

"Mulder!" Scully snapped, horrified at her partner's flippancy.

"Relax Agent Scully, I'll have a team of agents keeping an eye on
Mulder to make sure that Lector doesn't try anything."

"No," Mulder said.

"What?"

"No surveillance, Lector would spot it in an instant, and I won't wear
a wire. Scully can keep me safe enough," Mulder paused, "Besides
having a team of agents following me around would blow your cover."

"Fine, no surveillance, just don't end up dead," Skinner admonished,
"And that goes for both of you. Now get moving, the train's going
cold."

*112 West Rogers Street, Baltimore, 6:24 PM*

Mulder parked their Bureau car next to the apartment building Lector
claimed to call from. The building itself was an old factory that a
developer had converted into an apartment building.

"It's not exactly the nicest neighborhood," Scully commented as she
took in the piles of garbage, and homeless men huddled under a
doorway.

"It's all a show," Mulder replied, "Check it out there are
surveillance cameras everywhere and one of those bums is wearing an
earpiece. He's probably with the security company the developer
contracts."

"Give the tenants the illusion of living in the ghetto?"

"Something like that," Mulder replied. He took out his badge and
walked over to a Baltimore PD cruiser. He rapped on the car's
passenger window with his badge to get the attention of the officers
inside. "Hi there," he said when the window rolled down, "Special
Agent Fox Mulder, FBI."

"I'm Officer Reed, this is Officer Secor. You here about the
apartment?"

"That's right."

"Waste of time, nobodies home," Secor said and the two cops got out
their patrol car.

"I expected as much," Mulder admitted, "Who's renting the apartment?"

Reed looked at his notebook, "According to the super a Thomas Stearns
Elliott." Mulder chuckled, "What's so funny about that?" Reed asked.

"Because it's a fake name."

"How do you knowÉ" Secor started to ask.

"It's the full name of T.S. Elliott," the two cops stared at Mulder,
"the poet," he added, "Waste Land, Hollow Men, Love Song of J. Alfred
Prufrock, any of those ring a bell?"

Reed shook his head, "Sorry, no."

"Doesn't matter, I know the tenent's real name," Mulder insisted.

"Which is?"

"I can't say, restricted information. Now can I have the keys to the
place?"

Secor sighed and pulled a keyring out of his pocket, "here you go," he
handed the ring to Mulder.

"Great, and is the super in?"

"Yeah, we told him not to disappear."

"Wonderful, I'll give these back when I'm done with them."

"Whatever," Secor grumbled as the two cops got back into their
cruiser.

Mulder walked back to where Scully was standing. "See, I can deal
with local law enforcement diplomatically."

"Mulder, those two were ready to kill you."

Mulder shrugged, "It's not my fault they don't know who TS Elliot is.
Come on, do you want to start with the apartment or the building
super?"

Scully thought for a moment, "The super," she concluded, "he might
know something for us to look for in the apartment."


"Ok then, let's talk to the super." They walked up to the door of the
apartment building, "After you," Mulder told his partner as he held
the door open.

The interior of the building was neat and very modern. The foyer was
lit with bright incandescent builds. Mulder pointed to the security
cameras. "Definitely a place for the paranoid."

"Bright lights to reduce shadows, armored front door, guard station,"
Scully said as she appraised the room.

"And here comes the guard," Mulder added.

"Can I help you?" A large man dressed in a light gray suit asked the
pair.

Mulder held out his badge, "I'm special Agent Fox Mulder, this is my
partner Special Agent Dana Scully."

"Lovely, why are you here?"

"We're here to search the apartment of the tenant claiming to be
Thomas Stearns Elliott," Mulder told the guard.

"And do you have a warrant?"

"As a matter we do," Scully replied and handed a piece of paper to the
doorman.

The guard read the warrant then gave it back to Scully, "That don't
say anything about Mr. Elliott."

"But it's Mr. 'Elliott's" apartment, correct?"

"I'm not at liberty to say."

"Why are you being evasive?" Scully demanded, "It's a simple question.
Don't you know who he really is?"

"No I don't, we pride ourselves on our respect for the tenants'
privacy. Besides, he's a friend of Mr. Orlando, the building's owner,
that's all I need to know."

Mulder examined the guard, "You're not from around here are you?"

"What?" the guard asked, taken aback by Mulder's question.

"You didn't grow up in Baltimore, I can tell from your accent."

"Oh yeah, I grew up in Jersey, so?"

Mulder started to walk around the guard. "My partner and I were just
talking about how you can tell a lot about a person based on their
mannerisms."

"Is that so?" the guard asked rhetorically as he crossed his arms.

"By the way, I really hope that gun's registered," Mulder commented.

The guard placed a hand on the distinctive bulge under his left arm,
"Of course, it is illegal to carry an unlicensed firearm."

"Right," Mulder said, unconvinced.

"Look, I'm a busy man, get to the point."

"My point is that we're not with the organized grime task force. We
work for the Behavioral Science Unit, you know what that investigates
right?" The guard nodded, "Good, now then, Mr. 'Elliott's' real name
is Hannibal Lector, you know who he is, right?"

The guard's face turned ashen, "Yeah, I know know who he is," he
stammered.

"Excellent, now my partner and I are going to search Dr. Lector's
apartment, but first, what did Dr. Lector do to earn Mr. Orlando's,
that's Robert Orlando right?" The guard nodded, "What did he do to
earn your boss' trust?"

"All Mr. Orlando said was that Mr. Elliott solved a problem for him I
don't know nothing about Mr. Elliot being Hannibal Lector."

"That's what I figured. We're going to search Dr. Lector's apartment
now. Unless you don't have any other objections."

"Just remember, that warrant is for Mr. Elliott's apartment only, so
don't go snooping around," the mob enforcer admonished the two agents.

"I don't care what you're doing in this building, all I want is Dr.
Lector, so you'd better not get in my way," Mulder growled.

"Right," the mob enforcer said, chuckling to himself. He walked into
the guard station and pushed the door buzzer. "Do what you have to
then get the hell out of here."

"It's been a pleasure talking to you," Mulder told the guard as he and
Scully walked through the door. "Well that was enlightening," he said
to his partner once they were out of earshot.

"Hannibal Lector and the mob, it sounds like something out of a cheesy
movie," Scully commented.

"Actually, it's not that hard to believe, Lector enjoyed treating
fringe types, and who knows who he met, or what he did, while he was
in Italy."

"Makes you wonder what sort of problem he solved," Scully thought
aloud as she pushed the elevator's call button.

"He killed somebody." The elevator dinged as its doors opened.

"Murder for hire? That doesn't seem like Lector's style," Scully
countered after they entered the elevator.

"What do we know about the body dumped on the beach?" Mulder asked.

"Not much, Skinner sent a team to Missouri to do a background check."
Scully fell silent for a moment. Mulder could see the pieces fall
into place in her head. "You think the victim on the beach had mob
ties?"

"If you were a mob boss looking to make a problem go away wouldn't you
hire a notorious signature killer?" Mulder pushed the button for the
second floor.

"Weren't we going to see the building super?" Scully asked when they
passed the first floor.

"Do you think he'd be any more helpful than the goon downstairs?
Everybody here works for the mob, what's the use?"

The elevator came to a stop and the agents stepped off. "Ok, I can
see why the mob boss would be interested, but why Lector? I would
have thought he'd find assassinations crass."

"Underneath all the fancy trappings Lector is a very practical person.
Look at what his favor got him." Mulder indicated the lavishly
appointed hallway they were walking down. Fine works of art lined the
walls. The deep carpeting muffled their footfalls.

"What is this place?" Scully asked after a while.

"Safe house," Mulder said definitively, "There's surveillance all over
the place. They probably used the renovations as a money laundering
scheme. I wonderÉ" Mulder trailed off.

"Mulder, what?"

"We're at the apartment," Mulder said in an attempt to change the
subject. He took the room key out of his pocket. "Ready?" He asked
Scully who slid her gun out of its holder before nodding. Mulder took
a deep breath and opened the door.

Scully ducked under the police tape stretched across the door and
entered the room with Mulder following close behind. The apartment
itself was sparsely appointed. The walls were bare and the furniture
was utilitarian. "I thought lector liked the finer things in life,"
Scully whispered.

"He does," Mulder replied.

"Then why all this?"

"He also spent eight years living in a mental institute, maybe he's
just sued to not having many possessions," Mulder whispered in reply.
"Besides he knew he was going to have to abandon this place, why
invest much in it?"

"Hey Mulder," Scully said after a few moments.

"Yeah?"

"Why are we whispering?" We know Lector's not here."

Mulder paused, "Do we?"

"Come on Mulder, the police have already searched the apartment."

"Just like how the Memphis police were sure they had Lector cornered
in that elevator?" Mulder asked.

Scully tightened her grip on her gun, "Then why the hell are we here
without backup?"

"Because," Mulder said as he holstered his gun, "Lector isn't here."

"Isn't that what I just said?"

"Yes, it is," Mulder admitted, "but there was no way of knowing for
sure until now," Mulder walked over to the dining room table, "Hand me
an evidence bag please, he left us a letter." Scully gave Mulder a
bag and he gently slid the loose sheet of paper into the bag. "Why
don't I check the kitchen and you take the bedroom." Scully nodded
and walked down the hall, away from Mulder.

Mulder entered the kitchen and casually looked in the drawers and
cabinets. The kitchen was spotless; Mulder had seen operating rooms
that were dirtier. He took special care in examining the cutlery, but
it too was in pristine condition. Mulder slid a large butcher's knife
back into its resting place and moved onto the refrigerator. The
stainless steel refrigerator was filled with expensive gourmet foods.
He nook note of the various brands, there weren't that many places
that sold the high*end food Lector preferred. Mulder's stomach
rumbled, reminding him that he hadn't eaten since breakfast.

"Anybody but Lector and I'd dig in," he mused. Eating food out of a
suspect's refrigerator might be frowned upon, but it wasn't evidence
and it would just get thrown out. However, Mulder did not want to
take the chance that Lector might be using one of the containers to
store his leftovers. Mulder sighed then closed the refrigerator.
Lector had been here, that much was obvious, but he hadn't left
anything behind, except for his beluga caviar. "Maybe Scully is
having better luck in the bedroomÉ" he winced at his choice of words.
"Ok, don't say that in front of Scully."

Mulder returned to the dining room and found Scully waiting for him.
"Find anything?" She asked her partner.

"Just some food in the fridge, how about you?"

"There's a computer in the bedroom, and he had a darkroom set up in
spare bedroom. I found these." She held up a pair of black and white
photographs of Mulder and Scully outside the police station earlier
that day.

Mulder took the photos from Scully and examined them. "you know, for
a homicidal madman he really captured my good side, don't you think?"

"Mulder!" Scully exclaimed, horrified at her partner's flippancy.

Mulder tossed the pictures onto the dining room table. "What? It's
not like it's a big surprise; Lector was there this morning. He told
me as much on the phone. This is just another mind game, like the
poems. He's trotting out all these clichŽs toÉ" his voice trailed
off.

"To what?" Scully prompted.

Mulder sighed, "That I don't know," he shrugged. "Scully, the bed,
was t made?"

"What?" Scully asked, confused by the sudden shift.

"Lector's bed, was it made?"

"Yes, it was, why does that matter?"

"Lector was here, but he didn't live hereÉ"

"How can you be sure of that?"

"You said it yourself when we walked through the door."

"Ok, assuming you're right, that means what, that he wants to show us
something?" Scully picked up a photo, "That he knows what we're
doing?"

"That could be it," Mulder said, sounding unconvinced. He could feel
the answer bouncing around in his back of his mind; but every time he
tried to focus on it, the thought evaded him.

Scully looked around the bare apartment and involuntarily shuddered.
"Could we get the hell out of here, this place is giving me the
creeps." Mulder nodded slowly, "Yeah, there isn't anything else to
learn here. WE can have a team from Quantico gather the evidence."
Mulder walked towards the apartment door.

"Hey Mulder," Scull called out, "What did Lector's note say?"

Mulder turned and shrugged, "I don't know, I haven't read it yet." He
opened the door. "This didn't seem like the right place." He told
his partner as he walked out of the apartment.

"And just where is the right place?" Scully muttered to herself while
following Mulder out of the apartment. "So now what?" She asked
after she caught up with Mulder in front of the elevator.

"NowÉ" Mulder looked around the hallway. "Now I need pie." Mulder
pushed the elevator call button.

"You need what?" Scully asked in disbelief.

"Pie," Mulder answered, without elaborating further.

"Pie?" Scully echoed.

"Pie."

"Mulder, are you sureÉ" Scully started to say.

"Yes, I'm fine, I just feel like eating some pie."

"Okay, fine, but whenever you start binging on pie weirdness ensues."

"This has nothing to do with Lord Kimbote. I just think some pie will
help with the thought process." He surreptitiously pointed at the
ceiling.

It took Scully a few moments to figure out what Mulder was doing. She
finally looked in the indicated direction and saw a small surveillance
camera peeking out of the ceiling. After that the pieces fell into
place quickly for her. "Oh right, pie. Yes, you do need Pie Mulder,
and I think I could stand a slice myself." She sighed, it seemed the
only constant in her life these days was someone spying on her.
Mulder would say that was the price of pursuing the truth, and Scully
understood that. But at times it bothered her. Especially on a case
like this one. So far Mulder seemed to be handling things, but Scully
had no idea how long that would last. What would Mulder do when he
got into Lector's head? Could Mulder even do that? Scully didn't
know, but was ready for the worst. "Or maybe not," Scully thought to
herself as they walked out of the apartment building. "Maybe Mulder
can stay objective and won't get too involvedÉ" Scully then remembered
something that had been bothering her all afternoon. "Mulder?" she
asked while they were talking towards their car.

"Yeah?"

"What did Lector promise you?"

Mulder came to a stop, "Pecan."

"He promised you a pecan?"

"No, that's the pie I'm getting, a whole pecan pie. This is going to
take a while."

*Ray's Diner, 8:09 PM*

Mulder held the diner door open for Scully and the partners slid into
a nearby booth. Before Scully could say anything a waitress walked up
to them.

"Welcome to Ray's. What can I get the two of you?"

"Do you have any pecan pie?" Mulder asked.

"We sure do," the waitress, a middle*aged woman whose nametag read
"Anne" replied. "Do you want a slice?"

"Actually we'd like a whole pie," Mulder said pleasantly.

"A whole pecan pie, alright, anything else?

"A pot of coffee, please," Scully added.

"A whole pecan pie and a pot of coffee." The waitress shook her head.
"It'll be right up." She tucked her pen back into her apron and
walked towards the kitchen.

"She thinks we're on drugs," Mulder commented.

"What did he promise you Mulder?" Scully demanded.

"Let's wait for the pie, this isn't something I want people to
overhear."

"Scully saw that she had no choice but to accept this so neither one
of them said a word until Anne returned with their coffee and pie.

"Here you go, one pecan pie, and one pot of coffee."

Mulder handed her a pair of bills, "Keep the change, and we don't b
needing anything else."

"Sure thing hon," Anne said before walking over to another booth.

Mulder cut himself a slice of pie and took a bite, "Oh, this is good,"
he said before taking another bite.

"What did he promise you?" Scully asked again.

Mulder put his fork down and sighed, "Nobody else knows this, but I
did see Lector one other time."

Scully stared at Mulder in surprise, "What? Why isn't that in the
file?"

"Because it was an off the record visit."

"Why on earth?"

"Crawford told me to. It was a couple of months before Buffalo Bill.
He thought that maybe I could get Lector to open up about a few
things. So he told me to go talk to Lector."

"Why does this sound familiar?" Scully asked rhetorically.

"Where do you think Crawford got the idea?" Mulder said. "Lector
didn't get the chance to meet many people back then so he enjoyed the
chance to pick through the head of someone he didn't know." Mulder
poured himself a cup of coffee. "Crawford thought something might
slip in the process."

"Did anything?"

Mulder shook his head, "Not really, Crawford was a good man, but he
wasn't in Lector's league."

"And you are?" Scully asked. She arched an eyebrow for emphasis.

Mulder shrugged, "That's what we're going to find out."

"What did you talk to Lector about?" Scully asked, trying to force
Mulder back on topic.

"It wasn't what you think it was. I know better than that."

"So what?"

"My career, cases, stuff like that. Everything but Lector's crimes.
He didn't like to talk about those, unless it suited his purposes."

"Everything he says is a lie," Scully recited.

"Exactly," Mulder took another bite of pie. "This really is good pie,
are you sure you don't want a slice?"

Scully was about to refuse when her stomach rumbled, reminding her how
long it had been since her last meal. "Oh fine, I'll have some."
Mulder cut a slice and gave it to Scully. "Now stop stalling. What
did Lector promise you?"

Mulder stared at his coffee cup before replying. "he said he liked
me, that I was the best he'd seen since Will Graham, and that with his
help I could be the best profiler everÉ" He took a deep breath; he
knew Scully wasn't going to like what he was about to say. "He also
said that if I ever tried to catch him he'd kill me."

Scully dropped her fork. "He said he'd kill you?" Scully exclaimed,
causing several heads to turn and face the FBI agents. She blanched
slightly at the attention her outburst garnered. "He said he'd kill
you?" She said again, more quietly.

"Actually he said that one of us would end up dead, and that he
intended to die from old age." Mulder vividly remembered that moment
all those years ago. He was sitting on an ancient folding chair in
the dank basement that housed Lector. He remembered thinking it was
strange that this almost medieval looking dungeon was buried inside a
modern city.

"You're a smart man Fox," Lector had told him.

"Is that so," Mulder replied, fighting down his apprehension.
Crawford had insisted that Mulder see Lector. He claimed it would
help Mulder track down other killers.

"Yes, and feel flattered," Lector continued, "It's not something I
tell mamy people," he paused for a moment, "I compare them to myself."

"You'll have to pardon me if I don't get all giddy about being
complimented by a madman."

Lector chuckled, "Ah Fox, you do have a sharp tongue. I suggest you
work on controlling it better."

Mulder leaned back in his chair, "Or what, you'll eat my tongue? You
did that for Chilton's benefit didn't you?"

"Fox, that's such an unusual name for a person," Lector said, as if
he hadn't heard Mulder. "Especially for you. Some might even say
it's ironic that Crawford's newest hound is named Fox." Mulder did
not reply. "That's all you are of course, and that's why you're here;
to get the scent. So he can use you better."

Mulder stood up, "That's all I need to know; thank*you for your time,
Hannibal."

Lector smiled, "It's been my pleasure Fox, but before you go please
remember two things."

"And they are?" Mulder snapped. His nerves had been grayed by the
interview.

"The first is that never for one moment think that Crawford cares
about you as anything more than a tool. He'll use you until you break
then throw you away. The second is that if Crawford ever sends you
out to track me down one of us will end up dead; and I don't intend on
being killed by an FBI Agent."

"That assumes you get out of here," Mulder shot back as he walked
away. Mulder recalled that Lector did not say anything in response,
he just smiled.

"Mulder," Scully said, trying to get her partner's attention. "Hey,
Mulder!" she said again, this time more forcefully.

"What?" Mulder asked, forcing his mind back into the present.

"I was trying to ask you a question."

"Sorry, was just appreciating how good this pie is," he replied before
shoving a forkful into his mouth. He could see that Scully was
unconvinced, "So what was your question?"

"Mu question," Scully said deliberately, "is how do you know he meant
it? Didn't you say that everything he says is a lie?"

"Scully, if a compulsive liar tells you he always lies, is he telling
you the truth?"

"I don't see what that has to do with anything," Scully protested.

"Lector wraps his lies around a kernel of truth. He doesn't want to
got back to his dungeon and he'll do whatever it takes to remain
free."

"And with Lector that covers a lot of ground, right?"

"Exactly."

"But wouldn't he say the same thing to anyone in that case?"

"Why do you think I'm not freaking out?" Mulder said with a chuckle.
"I never gave Lector's bluster much credenceÉuntil today that is."

"Because now you ware trying to catch him," Scully deduced. "So
doesn't that mean he's going to be coming after you?"

Mulder shook his head, "I don't know why exactly he's back, but I
don't think it's a deliberate plot to get me." Mulder's cell phone
rang. "Mulder," he barked into the phone.

"Well Fox, are you in or out?" Lector asked without preamble.

Scully could see Mulder's hand tighten its grip on the phone. "I'm
in," he replied.

"Excellent, then I recommend that you and your lovely partner visit
Number 34 Matthews Street in Baltimore, I've left you a present."
Lector hung up before Mulder could reply.

Mulder returned his phone to his pocket. "come on Scully, we've got
to go." He stood up.

"that was Lector wasn't it," Scully demanded. "What did he want?"

Mulder sighed, "He wants us to visit his next victim, he gave me the
address."

"Shouldn't we call Skinner, at least the local police for some
backup?"

Mulder looked pensive for a moment as he considered what Scully said.
He eventually shook his head. "There's no time, besides Lector won't
be there, this is about a presentation, not an ambush." He paused.
"Plus I want to be the first person there, maybe I'll see something
the police might miss."

Scully sighed, she could tell she wasn't going to win this battle.
"Alright, fine, let's go." She stood up and they walked out of the
diner, leaving a half*eaten pie sitting on the table.

*34 Matthews Street, 9:36 PM*

The house on 34 Matthews Street was two*story brownstone tucked in a
prosperous*looking neighborhood. Mulder and Scully sat in their car
and surveyed the house. There were no lights on that they could see.
The lawn was mowed and the bed of flowers that ran along the front of
the house looked well tended to.

"Are you sure Lector isn't playing games with us?" Scully asked.
"This might be a false alarm just to see if we'll jump through hoops."

Mulder shook his head, "It's too soon for that, he first has to get
our attention. He stared at the house. "There's a woman strangled
with a shawl lying on a table in there," he suddenly said before
getting out of the car.

Scully sighed and followed Mulder up to the house. As she neared the
front door she drew her service pistol. Out of the corner of her eye
she saw Mulder do the same. Scully found herself hoping that none of
the neighbors called the police on them. They came to a stop at the
front door.

Mulder reached for the doorbell, but stopped and instead pounded on
the door. "never hurts to be careful," he explained to Scully as they
waited for a response. "Doesn't look like anyone's home," Mulder
commented when no one answered the door. He tried turning the
doorknob and the door swung open. Mulder looked at Scully and
shrugged. He took a flashlight out of his pocket and walked into the
house. Scully took a deep breath before following him inside.

The interior of the house was much like the exterior, very neat and
well furnished. Scully's attention was caught by a collection of
framed three by five photographs occupying one shelf of an overfilled
bookshelf. From what Scully could see the pictures were the only
personalized items in the room. She examined the photos and saw that
they were all pictures of groups of people. There were no pictures of
individuals, nothing to suggest the owner of the house had a family or
any other personal connections.

"The perfect victim," Scully muttered to herself. She wondered if
they'd find a collection of kinky sex toys, or some other indicator of
a hidden life, or if the person truly was a non*entity. It was her
experience that the odds were just about fifty*fifty either way.

"Hey Scully, over here," Mulder called out from another room.

Scully walked through an open doorway into what looking like a dining
room. "What is it?" She asked her partner before fully taking stock
of the room.

"On the table," Mulder quietly replied. Scully shone her flashlight
on the table in the middle of the room. Lying on the table, covered
by an ornate shawl, was the unmistakable profile of a body.

Scully reached out with a gloved hand and tugged on the shawl, causing
it to slid onto the floor and reveal the body of a young woman.
Scully reflexively felt for a pulse.

"Don't bother," Mulder said, "Lector doesn't leave survivors."

Scully gave Mulder a disapproving look, "Call the police Mulder," she
ordered before returning her attention to the body.

Mulder shrugged an dialed 911 on his cell phone. "Hello, this is
Special Agent Fox Mulder of the FBI. I'd like to report a murderÉ"

*Westchester, MD 9:44 PM*

Lector glanced at the clock on the wall of his kitchen. By his
estimates Mulder should have found the body of the late Ms. Karen
Trimble. Lector had treated her mother before his incarceration and
he had been curious to see what affect the mother's eventual suicide
had on the daughter. As he had expected the loss had driven the shy
child even further into herself, to the point of near reclusion. A
turn of events which only aided Lector when he was looking for his
next victim. After all, the experiment in behavior modification
through traumatic experiences was over, and loose ends were messy.

He decided against calling Agent Mulder just then; "Let Fox mull the
death of Ms. Trimble for a while," Lector thought. Besides Lector
rather liked the house he was currently staying in and he did not want
to do anything that might compromise it. Instead he poured himself a
glass of wine and walking into the living room. He turned on his
television and was disappointed to see that so far his exploits had
not made CNN. It wasn't that Lector was looking for the notoriety,
but a heavy media presence made the game that much more interesting.
Plus the press was so easy to manipulate.

"I think the Tattler could use a readership boot," Lector said to
himself. He set the wineglass down and walked into the soundproofed
basement.

He turned the lights on and walked over to a bound and blindfolded
man.

The man heard Lector's footsteps, "Please, whoever you are, I'll do
whatever it is you want, just let me go." The man pleaded, "If it's
money you want I'll pay it. Please I have a familyÉ"

Lector wrenched the blindfold off of the man's head. "Now, now Mr.
Watson, not everything in life revolves around money." Watson
recoiled when he saw Lector. "You see Mr. Watson, you have a very
important part to play in a little game of mine."

Mr. Watson began struggling against his bonds. "you're going to kill
me as part of a game?" He asked, his voice a mixture of fear, anger,
and incredulity.

"Why yes, in the game of life and death you are but a pawn." Lector
took a katana down from a display rack. "Do you know how sword smiths
in medieval Japan used to test the sharpness of a newly forged blade?"
Lector asked conversationally. "They would cut a silk handkerchief
and if the blade didn't cut every thread cleanly they would re*forge
it. Personally I prefer the way the samurai tested their new
purchases," he smiled before continuing, "On nearby farm hands."
Lector lowered the sword when he saw the terrified expression on his
prisoner's face. "Oh come now Mr. Watson relax, this is your big
chance to be famous. Your face will be on every news papers, ever
news anchor will say your name. And I've heard that the Varger
foundation has a established a very well financed trust for the
families of my 'victims.' So you see Mr. Watson, your death will be
the best thing for you, and your family."

"The best thing for my family is me being with them you twisted son of
a bitch!" Watson shouted.

Lector sighed, "I suppose some people just won't see the truth." He
swung the katana and Mr. Watson's head fell away from his body in a
spurt of blood, and rolled slightly before coming to a stop in front
of Lector. Lector took his time cleaning the sword, it was good
steal, and you always take care of good steel. He picked the head up
and placed it in a box marked, "Airborne Express." He then deposited
the body in a chest freezer and cleaned up the blood using
industrial*strength cleansers. Lector knew he would have to dispose
of Mr. Watson's body soon, but for the time being the freezer would
do.

He carried the package with the head upstairs; it was a long drive to
Chicago and he needed to deliver his package in time to make
tomorrow's late edition.

*FBI HQ, 8:52 AM*

Scully walked into the office and found Mulder asleep at his desk.
Without saying a word she placed a cup of coffee beside his head and
then started to review the paperwork that had piled up while they were
gone the previous day. She noted that the lab had finished its
analysis of the peach. It was, as Mulder theorized, one of the most
expensive varieties of peach, noted for its juiciness. She glanced
over at her slumbering partner. Some might say that his ability to
know that was spooky, but Scully knew better. Lector's penchant for
gourmet foods was well documented, so of course he would use a gourmet
peach. Similarly Mulder knew where to find Richard Cairnes by the
main's name. A cairn was a pile of rocks, and Lector's fondness for
such word games was equally well*known, even she had figured that out.
There was nothing that Mulder did that defied logic, but Mulder was
just that much better at interpreting a murder's actions.

"And that's what makes the cases so dangerous," she mused as she read
through the background information on the first victim. She knew the
way a person could become obsessed with a case, especially when you
were dealing with a person who was going to continue killer, and the
only way to catch the killer was to think like the killer. In effect
going a little crazy yourself. Scully had seen Mulder go to the brink
on many occasions, and had been there herself more than once. She
just hoped that Mulder could keep a grip on himself for this case.
She would worry about the next one when it came up.

The sound of the office door opening cause Scully to spin around; she
reflexively reached for her pistol. When she saw Skinner enter the
office she breathed a sigh of relief. "Good morning sir," she said
quietly so as not to walk the still sleeping Mulder.

"He never went home?" Skinner asked, nodding at Mulder.

"Apparently not. When we got back from Baltimore he said he wanted to
check a few things before going homeÉ"

"How's he holding up?" The concern was evident in Skinner's voice.

"Why don't you ask me?" Mulder said, his head still lying on the
desk.

"How long have you been up?" Scully demanded.

Mulder sat up. "Since you came in," he replied as he straightened his
tie.

"They why didn't you say anything?"

"Because I was trying to convince myself it was all a bad dream,"
Mulder said into his coffee cup. "So what do you need sire?"

"I need you two to go to Chicago, someone found a severed head in the
Tattler's office."

Mulder looked at Scully, "And who has a long and interesting history
with the Tattler?" he asked rhetorically.

"Exactly, not get going. I'll need you both back here for the press
conference this afternoon" He paused, "The public relations office is
having kittens over this."

"You want us at the press conference?" Scully asked in disbelief.

"No, I want you two to brief the attorney general, so she can in good
conscious stand up and say we can catch Lector."

"What if I don't think we can," Mulder queried.

"Then the Attorney General will say that we can. Look I just got off
the phone with her. We have to issue a statement and we have to sound
positive. She wants to talk to the investigators to look more
involved. Say what you want to her, it won't really matter."

Mulder nodded, "When does our flight leave?"

"As soon as you get to Andrews; you're flying on a Bureau jet today.
And Mulder?"

"Yes sir?"

"Take a shower before you leave, we want to make a good impression on
the Tattler."

Mulder snorted, "Like that's possible, whatever we do there is going
to be distorted, twisted and for everyone to see on page one."

"Mulder, go take a shower or I'm not flying on the same plane as you,"
Scully ordered. She understood Skinner's concern, and she didn't want
to see stories about the mad genius profiler the FBI was using to
track Lector that the Tattler was sure to run if Mulder showed up
looking like he'd slept in his suit.

Mulder stood up, "Whose to say I wasn't going to?" he asked as he
walked towards the door.

Once Mulder was out of the office Skinner turned to face Scully.
"Keep a short leash on Mulder, there are a lot of people watching this
case, and it would be very bad if he cracks up."

"No offense sir, but it's Hannibal Lector, of course 'people' are
watching, it's a high profile case."

Skinner sighed, "Just keep Mulder from embarrassing himself of the
Bureau, ok?"

"I always try sir."

"Bring him back safe agent," Skinner admonished Scully as she left the
office. For a moment he stood in the empty office staring at the
wall. He stifled a curse and reached for his phone. "They're on
their way to Chicago," he told the person on the other end of the
line.

*Washington DC, 10:39 AM*

The room was dark with heavy shutters blocking out the morning sun.
In the line of work of the room's occupant an open window was an
invitation for a sniper round between the eyes. The room itself was
sparse, with just a desk and two chairs. There was nothing to suggest
anything about the occupant of the room, except for the swirling
clouds of cigarette smoke which permeated everything. The phone rang,
an aged hand reached out and picked up the receiver, "Hello?" the man
known to some as "C.G.B. Spender" and to others simple as "The
Cigarette*Smoking Man," rasped.

"Why hello there 'CG' how good to hear your voice again," Lector said
from the other end of the line.

"Hannibal, what a pleasant surprise, what brings you back to the
country?"

"I won't mince words with you CG, I'm getting old, so I decided to
settle a few old scores before slipping into the long darkness of
senility."

"Really now?" the Smoking Man paused to light a fresh Morley, "I
wasn't aware that we had any outstanding business Hannibal." He
exhaled a long plume of smoke.

"Still smoking those foul Morley's CG? They'll be the death of you."

A chuckle, "We're working on that."

"I'm sure you are my dear CG, but no one can cheat death forever."

"You're evading the question Hannibal, what business?"

"Do you remember when we first met? It was back in the 70's. You
said you were with the State Department and had some questions about
behavioral predictions based on facial gestures. I knew you were
lying, which made things all the more interesting."

"Unlike you Hannibal I'm a busy man, get to the point."

"How many of your colleagues did you refer to me? And how many of
them wound up committing suicide?"

"As I recall the number was three, and none of them were very valuable
to the project."

"Very good CG, very good indeed, and you're right, your colleagues
were not very forthcoming. But as a result of our little 'chats' I
developed a keen interest in alien abduction cases. A very
interesting psychosis. Very illuminating."

"And very unreliable."

"True, most of them were beyond even my help. Their perception of
reality was shattered beyond all repair. But it was strange, the
techniques used on them was very terrestrial, and very familiar. It
was almost as if I had mentioned them to someone, years before. Oh
dear me, I forget that you are a busy man. I had one other client you
might be interested in, William Mulder, and he was not shattered, nor
was he just a cog in a wheel."

"So what, Bill Mulder is dead, and who's going to believe you?"

"And then, years later I met another Mulder, Crawford's Fox*hound.
Isn't it odd that William Mulder's son joined the FBI? No, wait, it
isn't. I know about Fox Mulder, what you wanted to do to him, what
you did do to him. You really should have included me back then CG,
fascinating work you're doing."

"If you think telling Mulder the truth will stop him from chasing you
down, you're sorely mistaken."

"No, I'm going to kill Agent Mulder, I'm curious what that would be
work to you?"

The Cigarette*Smoking Man leaned back in his chair and smiled, "Murder
for hire Hannibal? I never knew you were an assassin."

"You misunderstand me, I'm not after money, I want information and
access to one of your projects."

"Well that certainly is something we can discuss; what did you have in
mind?" The shadowy operative breathed a sigh of relief. He'd been in
many life*threatening situations in his life, but Hannibal Lector was
a new experience entirely. But if He could remove Mulder, that would
be worth any request; especially if they could then remove Lector.

*Tattler Building, Chicago, 11:42 PM*

The Suburban driven by a field agent with the Chicago office came to a
stop in front of the Tattler's office. When Scully got out of the
SUV she noticed there already where several marked and unmarked police
cars sitting alongside the curb. She, Mulder, and the local agent
walked into the building; where they were met by a uniformed police
officer.

The Chicago agent handled the introductions, "Hi there, I'm Agent
Craston, there are Special Agents Mulder and Scully."

"So you want to see the head then?" the officer asked.

"That's right, we're here for the head," Mulder replied, a little too
loudly. Scully rolled her eyes and sighed.

Mulder's off*color pun seemed to pass over the officer's head. "Right
this way then." He lead them out of the lobby, "Second grossest thing
I've seen in over twenty years on the force," he commented as they
waited for an elevator.

"What was the grossest?" Mulder asked.

"Eh? Oh, it was back when I was a rookie, some drunk fell in front of
a train on the El. Damn thing chopped him into three pieces, guts
everywhere," the officer paused, "That must not seem all that special
to you people, huh?"

Scully shrugged, "It's always horrible when someone dies a violent
death."

"Yeah," the officer mulled over what Scully said, "Yeah, I guess
that's true isn't it?"

"Although that case with the homicidal family of in*breeders was
pretty nasty," Mulder commented. "Especially the way they kept their
motherÉerr...wifeÉ"

"Mulder!" Scully snapped, "We don't talk about that, remember?"

The officer looked between Mulder and Scully, trying to form his
reply. The arrival of the elevator saved him from having to deal with
Mulder's statement. "We, uh, left the head upstairs in the office it
was found in."

"So who found it?" Scully asked, the pity in her voice was evident;
exposure to the X-Files was hard on her, for people who didn't even
know they exist, it was daunting.

"A secretary in the Editor*in*chief's office."

"How did it get there?"

"You mean you don't know?"

Scully shook her head, "We were just told a head was foundÉit's been a
busy couple of days for us."

"It was delivered by Airborne Express."

"Was it the regular delivery person?" Mulder asked the officer.

"What do you mean?"

"All delivery companies have drivers work the same route. For a
business like the Tattler which is sure to be a frequent customer the
secretaries probably know the deliveryman on sight. Did the secretary
who opened the box say if it was the usual deliveryman?"

The officer scratched his head, "I don't know. I have to say I was
pretty focused on the head, the detectives might know."

"I guess I'll have to ask them then."

The elevator came to a stop, cutting off any reply the officer might
have had. "The head is right down this hall." The officer lead them
down a hallway lined with framed newspapers.

Mulder glanced at a few of the banner headlines. "Hey Scully,
remember this case?" he pointed at one of the framed headlines.

"I'm trying not to," Scully curtly replied.

"I wonder how many of these we're on*

"You mean you don't know? I thought you had a subscription?"

Mulder shook his head, "No, the Weekly World News is more my speed."

"I think you're scaring Agent Craston Mulder," Scully commented.

Mulder faced the younger agent who drove them, "Is that true Agent
Craston? Does the fact that I read the Weekly World News scare you?"

Agent Craston smirked, "Uh according to the rest of the office it
isn't too surprising."

"See Scully, I'm just living up to the public's expectations of me."

"Living down is more like it," Scully muttered.

"Don't mock, it's got the sixth largest circulation of any paper."

Craston, emboldened by his inclusion in the conversation cleared his
throat. "So, uh, have you seen a lot of cases? Like this I mean," he
added after a moment's reflection.

Mulder shrugged, "More than a couple, why, is this your first?"

"My first murder, yeah. I've been working fraud cases mostly."

"Then I recommend you don't look in the box," Mulder said. All the
humor had drained out of his voice.

The officer came to a stop in front of an office door, "This is the
place," he needlessly said as he opened the door and walked inside.

Scully put a hand on Craston's arm. "Don't worry, no one's expecting
you to solve this case. Just keep your eyes open and your moth shut.
You'll do fine."

Craston smiled wanly, "Thanks Agent Scully."
They entered the office, inside they found several detectives milling
about a desk. The officer who brought them there walked over to the
group. "Detective Wirtz, the FBI is here."

Detective Wirtz, a large man in a too small suit looked over in
Mulder's direction. "Thanks Burkowski. You can go back down to the
lobby. Hi there, I'm Detective Wirtz, this is my partner, Detective
Polian."

Craston held out his hand. "I'm Agent Craston, these are Agents Mulder
and Scully."

"So what is so important about you two that we've had to keep this
head here for so long?" Wirtz demanded.

"Did the secretary say if the head was delivered by the usual
deliveryman?" Mulder asked without preamble.

"Wait a second, I'm the one asking the questions here," Wirtz
protested.

"Because this head was sent by a killer we're investigating."

"Now how do you know that?"

"There's a note in the box with the phrase, 'And I have seen my head
brought in upon a platter.' And there's also probably a silver
platter as well."

"How did you know that?" Detective Polian, a thin man with sunken
cheeks, spluttered. "You haven't even looked in the box!"

Mulder stared at the Chicago detective, "It's a line from a poem, and
my killer has been staging his victims to match sections of the poem."

"Must be a damn twisted poem," Wirtz observed.

"It's a love song, what do you expect?" Mulder deadpanned.

"Hey, this is just like that book, you know, Nebraska by, by, shoot
what's that guy's name?"

"Richard Farris," Mulder supplied.

"Yeah, him, I really liked that book," Polian commented.

"So did the killer," Mulder noted.

"So you're saying we've got an honest*to*god serial killer on our
hands?" Wirtz asked, doing his best not to appear too fascinated by
this development.

"This is the third victim in our investigation. I think we'll find
the fourth in a couple of hours. An Airborne Express truck driver."

"And how does that relate to your poem?" Polian asked.

"It doesn't but the only way Lector could deliver the head was by
posing as a deliveryman. I bet he even finished the driver's route
before ditching the truck."

Everyone in the office turned and face Mulder , he had uttered the
magic word. "Lector, as in Hannibal Lector?" Wirtz asked in a
whisper.

Mulder shrugged, "Yeah, that's the guy."

"Hannibal Lector in Chicago, great, that's just what I need."

"Relax detective, he just wanted to send a message he's not in
Chicago."

Scully let Mulder talk to the detectives. She took the opportunity to
examine the head. She noticed a small pool of vomit on the floor next
to the desk, its origin was not hard to surmise. Scully opened the
box and saw that Mulder was indeed correct; there was the head of a
balding man sitting on a silver platter. Unbidden memories of Sunday
school flashed in her head. She wondered if the story of John the
Baptist had any bearing on what she was seeing. It certainly was
something to ask Mulder later.

She motioned for a uniformed officer to come over to where she was
standing. "Could you see this box gets to the morgue immediately?"
She asked.

The officer nodded, "Yes ma'am the coroner is on his way."

Scully nodded her understanding; she realized there was no way she
could get anyone here to carry the box. "Agent Craston?" She called
out.

Yes?" Craston asked.

"Would you mind giving me a hand with this box?"

Craston nodded, "Sure thing Agent Scully. I'll go find a hand cart."
Craston walked out of the office.

"Are you sure that's necessary?" Polian asked. "The coroner will be
here soon enough."

Scully shook her head, "I want to examine the head in Quantico. No
offense, but it is the more capable lap."

Polian held up his hands, "Hey whatever, this case looks like nothing
but a total migraine, and I'm busy enough as it is."

"Believe me, I wish I didn't have to."

A radio chirped and the officer Scully had spoken to earlier answered
it. "Hey detectives, they found the delivery guy."

Wirtz spun around as fast as his beefy frame would allow, "Where?" he
demanded.

"In a dumpster a couple of blocks away. Some bums went dumpster
diving and found more than they were looking for."

"Is there any visible cause of death?" Mulder asked.

"Yeah, his throat was cut."

"Lector killed him out of necessity then. The delivery truck was a
way in, but he couldn't risk the package in the mail."

"So he killed the delivery guy? Damn, that's cold," Wirtz observed.

"It's the practical thing to do, no witnesses."

A man in an expensive business suit cleared his throat. "So what
you're saying is that Hannibal Lector personally delivered a head to
my office?"

Mulder nodded, "Pretty much."

"Fantastic, Roberts over at the Enquirer is going to have kittens when
he hears this." He rubbed his hands together, "Lector on the cover is
a twenty percent boost in readership. Especially with a nice big
picture on the front page."

"We of course need your surveillance tapes," Mulder said in a matter
of fact voice.

"The Tattler has a triple redundant recording system tied into the
surveillance cameras. There is no way you can sit on this," the man
Scully took to be the paper's editor said triumphantly.

Mulder shrugged, "There's a news conference scheduled for this
afternoon, why should I care what you put on your paper."

"So are you the lead investigator on this case Agent Mulder?" The
editor asked.

Scully anxiously watched Mulder, she knew she couldn't interfere
without it looking odd, but she also was afraid of what Mulder might
say. "I'm one of several agents investigation this case, that's all,"
Mulder guardedly said.

"Fair enough, but why is Lector back? And what is with the snippet of
Prufrock?"

Mulder smiled, "AT this stage of the investigation it's too soon to
speculate about motives."

"Can you tell us anything, like hwo he is targeting? Our readers need
to know if they're at risk."

"You'll have to watch the press conference like everyone else," Mulder
replied. "Besides, Lector doesn't work like that, if I were to say
that he was targeting some group he would damn well kill someone
outside of that group just to prove me, or any other investigator
wrong."

"Mulder, we have to get this head back to Quantico," Scully
interjected, not wanting to let this conversation continue.

Mulder looked around the room. His eyes settled on a
frightened*looking secretary. "Were you the person who opened the
box?" He asked the young woman, she nodded. "Did the person who
delivered it say anything out of the ordinary?"

The secretary frowned, "No, I don't think...Wait, I'm not sure, but
when he was leaving I heard him say something, it had something to do
with time."

Mulder nodded, "There will be time, there will be time."

"Yeah, that was it," the secretary exclaimed.

"Mulder?" Scully asked.

Mulder turned to face Scully, "There will be time, To prepare a face
to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and
create," he recited. "Yeah, we can go now." He turned and left the
office, walking past a surprised Agent Craston, who had just arrived
with a stretcher.

*Washington DC, 1:27 PM*
The Cigarette*Smoking Man dropped a butt on the ground and
extinguished it with his shoe. Lector had requested a meeting at the
Library of Congress and while CSM was quite happy to flaunt smoking
regulations everywhere he didn't want to bring that sort of attention
on himself right now. Not when he was meeting Hannibal Lector. CSM
walked through the stacks until he came to the mythology section, the
prearranged meeting spot. He walked down the stack, ostensibly
examining the titles of the shelved books, but in reality he glanced
up and down the stack, trying to spot Lector.

"Hello CG, come here often?"

CSM stiffened for a moment, but forced himself to relax, Lector
wouldn't hurt him, not as long as he had something Hannibal wanted.
"Hello Hannibal, I would, but you know, work and all..."

Lector pulled a book off of a shelf and started to read it. "Tut,
tut, CD, all work and no play makes you a dull boy."

"It also gives me the perfect opportunity to eliminate anyone who's in
my way while they're playing."

Lector smiled, "Quite so, but everyone needs a release, what's yours?"
Lector paused. "But we are not here to discuss your peccadilloes,
we're here to discuss my payment. Do you have it?"

"Mulder is still among the living, I only pay for a completed job."
CSM did in fact have the information, but he didn't want to hand it
over unless he had to.

"Oh come now CG, you'll give me the information, or I'll just kill you
here and take it from you, either way is fine with me."

"And who says you'll get out of here alive if you do that?"

"Who says I'll get out of here alive if I do let you live?" So maybe
I should kill you anyway, that way we both lose."

CSM sighed, "Fine, you can have you disc. Just not here, I'll place
it in one of the computer terminals, you can pick it up there."

"I knew you'd see things my way. It's been a pleasure as always CG."
Lector re-shelved his book and walked away.

CSM waiting a few moments before walking out of the library. He had
already ordered one of his men to plant the disc in the computer. The
disc he carried was blank. If Lector had killed him the project would
still be safe. CSM lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. The pieces
were in place, now all that remained was to watch and see how it fell
out. He exhaled a long stream of smoke, this was the part of the job
that he loved. He finished the cigarette and walked back towards his
office.

*FBI HQ, 1:52pm*

"Hey Scully, want a Twinkie?" Mulder asked as he walked into the
office, his arms laden down with junk food.

"What's this?" Scully asked as Mulder deposited his burden on the
desk.

"Lunch," Mulder replied before taking a bite out of a Snickers bar.

"What did you do, buy one of everything in the machine? No, wait,
don't answer that. Anyway, while you were out buying all this crap I
ordered us some subs."

"Ok, so this is breakfast and the subs will be lunch."

Scully sighed and grabbed a piece of candy at random. "We've got more
background on victim two," she commented.

"Karen Trimble?"

Scully nodded, she pushed a few candy bars out of the way and picked
up a folder, "Karen Trimble, age thirty*six, never married, no
children. He father I still alive, but her mother died twenty*five
years ago."

"Cause of death on the mother?"

Scully leafed through a few pages of the file, "Suicide, she had long
history of mental illness.." her voice trailed off as something on the
page caught her attention. "Mulder, one of the doctors the mother saw
was Lector."

Mulder frowned, "I don't remember any Trimbles among Lector's
victims."

"That's because it was decided that her death wasn't a result of
Lector. There were suicide attempts before she saw Lector."

"Lector treating a person with suicidal tendencies, that's a good
idea. He probably told her what she was doing wrong and how to fix
it."

Scully looked up from the folder, "Probably, in any event it doesn't
look like out victim was ever treated by Lector."

"Still he knew her mother, so he knew about our victim."

"But why her?"

"I don't know," Mulder said, "It has to have something to do with the
mother, but if we don't know what Lector did to her..." he paused.

"Mulder, what is it?" Scully asked, recognizing the germination of an
idea in her partner's head.

"Do we have an address on the father?"

Scully shuffled through the folder, "Yes, he lives just outside of
Baltimore."

Mulder stood up and grabbed his jacket, "Let's go."

"Go where?"

"To talk to the father, he's the only person to can tell us what
happened to his wife."

"But what about the Attorney General?" Scully protested.

"He doesn't want to hear what I have to say."

"What about my sandwich?" She asked, more plaintively this time.

Mulder opened the office door to reveal a stagger holding a plastic
bag. Mulder took the bag. "Scully will pay you," he said over his
shoulder as he walked down the hall.

*Home of Robert Trimble, 3:07 PM*

"We beat the press," Mulder commented.

"The press conference isn't for another half hour," Scully replied.

"The we'd better do what came to do and get out of here." Mulder
pushed the door bell to the nondescript home.

After a few moments the door opened a crack and the head of an older
man appeared, "Yes, what do you want?"

"Are you Clarence Trimble?" Scully asked.

"Yes, who are you?"

"I'm Special Agent Dana Scully, and this is my partner Special Agent
Fox Mulder. We're terribly sorry for your loss, but we were wondering
if we could ask you a few questions."

"I've already talk to the police," Trimble said.

"We're trying to get to know who your daughter was," Mulder added,
"The more we know about her the better our chances of catching her
killer are."

Trimble nodded, "Alright fine, come in." He held open the door for
the agents. He lead them into a sparse living room. "We moved here
after my wife passed on. I never really got around to sprucing the
place up. Take a seat." He motioned for Mulder and Scully to sit
down on a sofa. He sat down in an overstuffed easy chair. "What do
you want to know?" he asked the agents.

"Can you tell us what your daughter was like, before your wife's
death?" Mulder asked.

"What does that have to do with anything?" Trimble demanded.

"Please sir, your daughter was killed for a reason, who she was, the
better picture, I, we, have of her, the better our chances of catching
her killer."

"You mean she's dead because of something she did?"

"No, I'm not blaming her for anything, but the man who killed her did
so because something about her fit a pattern for the killer. So the
more we know about her the easier it will be to know why the killer
chose her."

"And that will hlp you catch this bastard?"

Mulder nodded, "Yes sir."

Trimble leaned back in his chair, "Well she always was a quiet child,
she wasn't unhappy or anything like that, she just liked to be by
herself and read."

"Did she have any friends?" Scully asked.

"Oh yes, not many, but she did have a small group of friends. They
used to have sleep overs." Trimble smiled, lost in a distant memory.

"What about after your wife's death?" Mulder asked in a quiet voice.

Trimble sighed, "It was like she faded. She was very close to her
mother and to lose her like that, you never get over that, I know I
haven't. it was so sudden an unexpected."

Mulder frowned, "I thought your wife had a history of mental problems
and suicide attempts."

"My wife was not suicidal!" Trimble barked. "That bastard Lector
killed her."

"But her file..." Scully started to say.

"Nothing but lies, one time she was shaving her legs and cut herself.
Lector claimed it was a subconscious attempt to hurt herself. Another
time she was driving home on a rainy night and her car skidded off the
road into a ditch. 'Dr.' Lector said she tried to kill herself; my
mechanic said it was a blockage in a brake line. My wife had her
problems, but she wasn't suicidal."

"So she did have a problem of some sort?" Mulder asked.

"She was depressed, but who isn't form time to time?" Trimble held up
his hands, "Yes, I know, Mary hung herself, but it was Lector who put
the idea into her head."

Mulder cleared his throat, "Did, uh, your wife ever take your daughter
to one of her sessions with Dr. Lector?"

"Not that I know of...why?" Trimble thought for a moment, "You're not
saying that Lector killed Karen?"

"We have...strong evidence that points to that direction," Scully
tactfully said.

"We're the ones who found your daughter Mr. Trimble," Mulder said,
"Lector called me and told me where to find her." He stared straight
at Mr. Trimble, "I was not in on the decision not to tell you this.
I'm telling you this now because I need to know why Lector chose your
daughter."

Trimble ran his hands through his thinning hair. "Mary must've told
him something, she was so proud of Karen. But I never...wait, there
was one time. It was after one of Mary's first sessions. Her car was
in the shop so Karen and I picked her up. Mary introduced us to
Lector. Karen wouldn't speak to him, she thought his eyes were
creepy. Lector laughed it off and said that shyness is nothing to be
ashamed of. That was the only time."

Mulder stood up, "Thank*you Mr. Trimble, you've been a tremendous
help."

"You're going to catch that son of a bitch, right?"

"You have my word," Mulder said as sincerely as possible.

"Don't get up, we can let ourselves out," Scully said. "Oh, you also
might want to get a lawyer. There is going to be a press conference
today about this, and the tabloids are going to be lined up at your
door."

Trimble smiled wanly, "Thanks for the warning."

Mulder and Scully walked out of the house in silence. "Did you get
what you were looking for?" Scully asked as they got into their car.

"He killed the mother to see how it would affect the daughter, and
once he knew that, he killed the daughter. Loose ends."

"What?"

"It's about loose ends, he tidied up for the mob, he took care of one
of his 'test subjects.' Scully, would it be possible to tell if he
was sick based off of a photo?"

"Depending on the disease it would be possible, but not conclusive by
any means. What makes you think he's sick?"

"Terminally ill, Prufrock is a poem about the realization of your
mortality. 'I have seen the Eternal Coachman,' and all that. He
might be dying Scully."

"That's pretty tenuous Mulder."

Mulder shrugged, "Just a hunch, but it answers the question, why now."
Mulder turned onto an onramp and merged with the rest of the freeway
traffic.

"So what happens next?"

"We wait for his next move, which shouldn't take long."

(To be Continued)