I'm working on the premise that after Folie a Deux, Mulder and Scully are transferred from
the X-Files to the Investigative Support Unit, or ISU. While profiling a rather difficult
case, still suffering from the effects of Folie a Deux and Pine Bluff Variant, he discovers
the information from Sein Und Geist and Closure. Mulderangst aplenty. And remember, after
Folie a Deux, Mulder felt betrayed by those closest to him, namely Scully and Skinner. Geez, toss
a guy in the nuthouse and he holds a grudge forever. . .

Okay, this is in omnicient third person, but it kind of follows a skipping subjective third person. That is, point of view changes, sometimes mid-paragraph. Don't worry, it will be very easy to spot. This is just one more way of getting everyone's opinion on the board. Sounds fair, right?

Profiling info taken from Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas and
Mark Olshaker.

NC-17 for eventual M/K slash, which will be very explicit once Krycek arrives, and very detailed and
possibly gruesome crime-scene descriptions in later chapters. Serial killers aren't nice, and they aren't
neat, and young children probably shouldn't be reading about them.

This chapter, though, is PG. Feel free to dispute this as well.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of this, actually. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I could go on . . .

Spoilers: Umm, the whole show is fair game at this point. Mostly the abovementioned eps and
Grotesque, and brief mention of Paper Hearts and any other profiling eps.



I am like a big strong cable
I am like a girl, soft inside
And finally today I'm able
to put the past away
I've finally stabalized
And everyone will see . . .
-Ours


It starts with a blind fox, his eyes the milky-blue of cataracts, clear hazel barely visible in shadow, legs
dangling soft and useless as old velvet, the short fur silky beneath my hands. We sit on a
feather mattress, beneath a Victorian canopy dripping with beribboned lace, surrounded by
white, by an absolute absence of color but for the little red fox. He wasn't real. Or, rather,
he wasn't really hurt. He panted softly, as foxes will, blind eyes staring sightlessly into
the white, velvet-scrap ears twitching lazily. He was an allegorical fox. Real but
representative. At least I hope so, or I am conscious of hoping so within the dream, even
as I am conscious of feeling a quiet pleasure at the soft, pliable helplessness of the
fox caged within my loving hands. For it *is* a dream, and I know that soon my Fox will come
home, battered and torn, emotionally frozen and mentally blinded, beaten down once again
in his search for the truth. The truth. What has the truth ever gotten any of us but
heartache and pain? And so it starts with a blind Fox . . .



*****************************
All is Dust
Chapter One: A Blinded Fox

"Now everything is ashes, all is dust and ashes, dirges and mourning, as no one is able to
help anymore . . ."
- St John Chrysostom


He sat, to all appearances quietly, listening with his usual calmly intent face to the
sobbing witness statement of one Lydia Harris, former wife of the late Glenn Harris; Mr.
Harris had been found approximately six hours earlier, according to Scully's estimate, long
before his doting wife had even noticed his absence. Apparently the late Mr. Harris often
worked late.

He clenched his fists, and stabbed his short nails into the flesh of his palms, needing the
pain, grinding his teeth, trying desperately to stay still, to stay silent and attentive,
to hide his sudden claustrophobia in the placid mask of polite interrogation. His nails
shredded the tender skin at the base of his thumb, needing the pain, even as he nodded and
granted the sobbing woman a thin, sympathetic smile, feeling Scully's hand brush his knee,
concealing his distress, his confusion, his tendency to panic and flee, behind the sharp
pain and tickle of blood clenched in one fist. He needed out. Now.

But he stayed. Profiling always affected the very pit of his stomach this way, with the
unnecessary fight-or-flight warning-- he knew damn well the necessity of flight. It had
always been this way, and even with Scully's steadying influence he felt the yawning pit
open within him, pointing the way to madness. He'd so recently been committed. He
couldn't go back that way, not again, not for anything. But he always thought this, and
then he always saw the case, opened the case, read the case, and got hooked. Just like
a fish on a hook, reeled in to play the FBI game of cat and mouse. At least this way he got
to be the cat.

" . . . enemies, anyone among his acquaintances, who might have wished to harm your
husband?" he heard Scully ask, and he reined his thoughts in sharply, wanting to hear
her reply now, not in an eidetic play-back at the office. He needed it fresh.

But the woman was shaking her head, new tears flowing, horrified at the thought of her
husband having enemies, possibly unable to really comprehend his death. He looked down,
ashamed at his parasitic desire to read her emotions.

"No one would hurt Glenn, everybody liked my husband. He's -- he was a good man." She said,
a little bit defiantly, sitting there proud and broken on her padded Queen Anne sofa in an
obvious woman's room; Scully would die of insulin-shock after too much exposure, much less
a man like the late, lamented Glenn Harris.

He shook off his thoughts, sticking out his lower lip just a little and squinting one eye
just a fraction so that he would look empathetic, and leaning forward into the comforting-
zone to gently touch her forearm.

"Mrs Harris, we're not here to insult your late husband. But we need to ask
you a few questions so that we can find his killer. If you get upset, just let me know and
we'll stop for now, okay?"

He had no intention of holding back, not now, not so close, but he could see the lightening
of her eyes, the calming of her breath, and he leaned back, settling into the interrogation
mask again. He nodded to Scully, and she shot him what looked suspiciously like a glare
before starting the next round of questions. He ignored her. The profile was still going
through the birthing stages, roiling his stomach and sending full-flight panic along his
nerves, singing the need to escape before falling into that abyss. But his picture of the
killer was also building nicely. He could feel the killing-consciousness plucking at the
tattered edges of his mind, and absently wondered how long it would take him to break
down completely, to go the way of Patterson and all great men, to find himself back in
that white room, permanently this time, because of something he really did feel that
really was insane and couldn't be explained away by the paranormal. How long?

The important part of the questioning was over, for him at least; he'd confirmed to himself
that she was innocent, this poor, shattered woman of chintz and china patterns, a listing
queen of suburbia. She knew nothing more than the police, at this point, nothing more than
the usual rhythms of life with Mr Harris, than attitudes and suspicions. These he was
content to record for a later viewing, spending the rest of the interview coasting behind
Scully's questioning, listening more closely to the voice behind his eyes that pieced
together the puzzle in a ceaseless, hurricane whirl of information.

They exited the house together, he wearing that far-gazing stare he knew she found highly
irritating but could do nothing about; he was nearly in the place, now, where he could feel
the killer. He needed the case files.

"Mulder!" She ran up beside him as he slowed, her heels clicking on the clean white
sidewalk, her clear blue eyes concerned and ready to become annoyed; he slowed for her but
kept walking, wrenching open the car door with the intensity he usually saved for the
x-files. Of course, he was off the x-files now. At least he still had Scully.

"Mulder, what is it? What's wrong?" She asked quietly as she pulled down her seatbelt and
settled against the grey upholstry of the late-model Ford Taurus, what Mulder laughingly
called 'government issue.'

He looked at his hands, clenched on the wheel, whiteknuckled, and thought for a brief second about
laughing wildly; the anticipated look on Scully's face was nearly enough to break his grim mood, but
he simply sighed instead.

"Nothing, Scully." He said, not looking at her. "I just need to get back to the office."


************************

The ISU offices at the FBI Academy in Quantico are several stories undeground, in a grey, windowless
space originally designed to serve as a secure headquarters in the event of national emergency. Even
when Mulder was a recruit, it had been sarcastically referred to as the National *Cellar* for the Analyisis
of Violent Crime. At sixty feet below ground, the offices were ten times deeper than dead people.

Mulder strode into that grim environ with Scully on his heels, stepping through the elevator doors
like something out of an old western; the blandly dangerous look on his face only served to reinforce
this impression. Rather than the usual round of catcalls, they were met with silence; Mulder didn't notice,
in fact was unaware of both the look on his face and the uncommon timidity of his coworkers. His mind
was on the case, in the case, and he was desperate for a review of the information.

Their office was actually a step up from the basement, aesthetically speaking; windowless, of course, but
somewhat larger and graced with two desks, not just one. Mulder had hastily tacked up his poster, the
corner of the room shouting "I want to believe" to anyone who came through the glass and plywood door,
but the rest of the industrial-grey surface was plastered with the details of the case; not just the one case
he was concentrating on at the moment, but pictures and crime scene analyses from each of the fifty or
so cases they were currently investigating. It had been a while. He was just easing back into the flow.

Patterson had usually kept his knees bent under the weight of a hundred or more cases, sometimes twice
that; and every case was important, every case was absorbing, every victim needed to be saved or avenged.
He sometimes wondered how he'd stayed sane as long as he had. If he *had* stayed sane, that is. He
sometimes wondered about that, as well.

The lust murder is unique and is distinguished from the sadistic homicide by the
involvement of a mutilatin attack or displacement of the breasts, rectum, or
genitals.

He kept the information in his head; with his eidetic memory, he could access the casefiles twenty-four hours
a day, seven days a week, and often he did. Often, that was what the case required: a complete submersion
in the absolute filth of the UNSUB's mind, a shuffling and sorting of the information that usually led to a
resolution for the case and the beginnings of a nervous breakdown for him.

Further, while there are always exceptions, basically two types of
individuals commit the lust murder.

But there were times, like now, that he needed to look at the files, to wallow in the physical representations of
a crime he didn't get to see. Proximity could be so important, and a picture was the next best thing to staring over
Dahmer's shoulder, so to speak. The pictures grounded him in the crime, in the act itself; once he'd let those
images sear his mind's eye, he could sometimes recreate the event. It was like a play, only inside his head and
he was the player. It was how he got into the mind's of killers. Once you'd done what they had done, understanding
their motives was really quite simple.

These individuals will be labeled as the Organized Nonsocial and the
Disorganized Asocial personalites.

Of course, there's slightly more to it than that. You wouldn't find a killer by getting to know his inner soul. The inner
soul was remarkably reluctant to cough up such details as home address or car license plate number. You
could figure out where he was likely to live -- and it would be a 'he'. Statistically and otherwise, most serial
killers are white males of mid- to upper-intelligence with a well-honed ability to fit into society, if only on the
fringes. That's how Jack the Ripper got away, if he did. No one wanted to believe that such a monster could
look *human*, much less normal. So you could figure out that he was likely to be living within a block of his dead
mother's destroyed home or behind his molesting uncle's shed or wherever, and you could figure that he's
probably driving an old car, the better to blend in with, maybe a van or an el camino, or something with a lot
of trunk space. Serial killers like trunk space. You could even figure out what kind of person he'd likely kill next.
But that was the thing. *Kind.* *Kind* doesn't get you specifics or proof or evidence or sometimes even enough
to convince the local police that far from standing around with your dick in your hand you actually know what
you're doing. But convincing people takes time. By the time you get there, it'll probably be too late.

Modus operandi -MO - is learned behavior. It's what the perpetrator does
to commit the crime. It is dynamic -- that is, it can change. Signature is what
the perpetrator has to do to fulfill himself. It is static; it does not change.

This particular case was actually a break from a nasty child-rapist he had on the back burner; the information
was percolating. Hopefully he'd solve this one in his sleep, like the Paper Hearts case. Yeah, well,as they say,
hope springs eternal.

He slammed the office door behind him, narrowly missing Scully though he didn't notice that detail, striding swiftly
across the small room to stop, abruptly, before a series of pictures. Scully followed more slowly, detouring to leave her purse and briefcase on her desk and to power up their computers. She had been watching Mulder lately, watching him become absorbed in this case, and was getting worried. He wouldn't talk to her, would barely look at her since . . .

She'd been wrong to assume that he was a traitor, she could admit that even if only to herself, and she'd been wrong to commit him over the giant bug. Hell, she'd seen the giant bug, too, and hadn't volunteered for a straight jacket. She just couldn't think of a good way to say that she was sorry. She wanted to. But now he didn't even have the X-files, and he seemed so fragile. Fox Mulder was nothing if not a master of repression. Talking about it could very well make things worse.

"Hey, Scully, come look at this," he said suddenly; her head jerked up, and she went quickly to his side, somewhat miffed that he didn't even look away from the photographs.

"What is it, Mulder?" she said, trying to sound patient and supportive instead of tired and hungry; Mulder didn't appreciate her opinion quite as much when she admitted to human weakness.

"I've been worrying about the splatter patterns on this dumpster, and on the blacktop in the Olsen crime scene."

"And?" She asked, leaning forward reluctantly to examine the pictures; the Olsen murder had been particularly nasty.

"The other sites were definately the kill sites, but these two. . ."

"Look at the blood, Mulder. They had to have been killed here. All the forensic evidence points to the dumpster and the blacktop as the killsites."

He began to speak, to launch into one of his theories; she saw the idea forming, and braced herself, already wracking her brain for counter-arguments. But his breath seemed to freeze in his throat; the words never came. He lowered his head, looking away from his precious photographs to stare at his shoes.

"Never mind, Scully. It's just. . . never mind." Without meeting her eyes, he turned and swept back out the door. He'd never even taken off his coat.

"Mulder?!" She yelled, shock freezing her for a second; within a minute, though, she had her purse, briefcase, and suit jacket, and had caught him at the elevator. Sometimes the sixty-floor wait came in handy.

She was panting lightly, and glaring at him as the entire office pool came out to stare at the 'wonder team'; he still wouldn't look at her, and seemed to be clenching his fists against the impulse to speak. She thought, very briefly, about tearing him a new one for walking out like that. But then she sighed, adjusted the strap of her purse, and smiled at him.

"So, where are we going?"



***********************
yay, the reviews helped, thank you. I hope I explained some stuff with the opening notes. Worry not, chapter two is already brewing.