First Time Out

by Michael Weyer

The X-Files, all rights and properties belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and the FOX network.
Highlander, all rights and properties belong to Rysher Entertainment.
Forever Knight, all rights and properties belong to Tristar.
Matthew Conners, Alice Fairchild, Megan Maguire, Joanne Stevenson and Thomas Borden are my own creations and belong exclusively to me.

A bit of explanation:
I originally wrote this in late 1997, when I was just starting out writing online. I introduced the characters of Matthew, Alice and Megan with the intention of doing more for them but then I came onto the Wandererverse and things snowballed from there.
When I introduced them into "Of Immortal Life and Liberty," I realized this was inevitable. So, here's a reworking of that original tale for the Wandererverse. Now, keep in mind:
1. Mulder and Scully were killed in 1996 and became Immortal.
2. The two are now married.
3. This is before they travel to Sunnydale so the two are still unaware of the existence of vampires.
4. The Scroll has not yet been made known so the two believe the Game is going on.
5. The two are unaware that Melissa Scully is still alive and Immortal or that Skinner is their Watcher.

So, enjoy....


First Time Out

Hastings Bay, MA
November 16th, 1997 - 1945 Hours EST

It was night when Fox Mulder and Dana Scully walked into the Hastings Bay police station. The small town was quiet when they came in, a sports bar and a local arcade providing the only late-night entertainment. After a talk with the desk clerk, the two entered the offices of the chief of police, a Chuck Brodie. A heavyset man in his late-forties, Brodie seemed happy to see the two. "Glad you could make it," he said. "Some of the councilmen weren't happy about bringing the FBI into this, but I convinced them it was necessary."

"We read over the basics on the flight up here," Mulder said. "But we could hear a little more."

Brodie sat down and placed a large file on his desk. "First body showed up a week ago. Karen Spaulding, popular high school girl. Two nights later we found Rachel Carrister, one of her classmates. Last night was Gail Vanderberg."

"MO was the same in all of them?" Scully asked.

Brodie nodded. "They were all strangled, throats showing marks that look like a garrote. Probably didn't take too long. All were found in remote sections of town, places that aren't visited too often. And each of them had a rose stuck in their mouths."

"Your town isn't the first," Mulder said. "Agent Scully and I have come across about eight other deaths in the same manner, all spread out over the state. Those are the ones we know about. We've managed to keep it quiet from the media so it doesn't turn into a circus, but that hasn't stopped this killer."

"Someone in the Boston office has nicknamed him Thorn," Scully said. "After the roses."

"A goddamn serial killer," Brodie sighed. "Damn, I was afraid of this. Any ideas on who he could be?"

"He's good," Mulder said. "Too good. Three deaths in one town seem to be a record with him. He's only taken one or two victims in the previous towns he's visited. We can only hope we find him before he kills someone else."

"Is there anyone who can help us with information?" Scully asked.

"Well, the girls killed did have one similarity," Brodie said. "They all had the same subject and teacher at the local high school. Charles Matthews, American History. He's not a suspect. He's got an alibi for when the coroner says the first murder occurred and he's as grief-stricken as anybody else as to what's happened."

"We'll talk to him," Mulder said as he stood up. "We'll get in contact with you later, hopefully with new info."

"I hope so," Brodie said. "This town isn't used to killings like this. A couple of brawls, some kids in trouble, there's only been a dozen murders since I became chief. I don't mind admitting I'm a bit out of my league here."

"No problem, sir," Scully said. "A case like this needs everyone we can get."

"Let's hope it's enough."

*****

Hastings Bay Medical Examiner's office
2020 Hours PST

"Are you going to put on that cool coroner's outfit of yours?" Mulder asked as he and Scully walked down the hallways toward the morgue. "I think you're so sexy in it."

Scully rolled her eyes. "Mulder, I love you but you have to learn to keep your libido in check a little while we're on the job," she told her husband. "Skinner gets a word of our relationship and we're both transferred off the X-Files and onto separate departments."

"I know, I know," Mulder sighed. "Can I help it that you're so insatiable?" Scully smiled. "God, if I'd known you could be this randy, I wouldn't have waited until we died to get together."

Mulder smiled back at his wife as the two entered the main lab of the ME office. Standing before a table was a handsome man in his thirties, wearing a long examination smock, gloves and cap over his hair. A mask covered his mouth and a clear visor lay before a pair of quiet dark eyes that fixed themselves upon the two agents.

"Hey there," he spoke up, rising from the table and puling down his mask. "I'm Perry Leiter, you must be the FBI guys the chief told me about."

"I'm Fox Mulder, this is Dana Scully," the male half of the pair said. He looked down at the body lying on the table, covered by a white sheet. "I take it that that's..."

Nodding, Leiter pulled back the sheet to reveal the naked body of a young teenager. She seemed quite sedate, her eyes closed, her blond hair framing her attractive face. Only the whiteness of her skin and the large red gashes around her throat showed that she wasn't simply sleeping. "I'm really hating this," Leiter sighed. "It's one thing seeing a kid dying in a car wreck or something. It's another to seem them murdered like this."

Scully moved in to look closely at the body. "You think it's the same weapon used?"

"Same type, at least," Leiter replied. He could instantly see this woman was a trained examiner and treated her as such. "Garrote wire so it's not just strangulation, he's really cutting into the skin." He pointed at the sides of the neck. "No damage to spinal cord or vertebrae which means he doesn't snap their necks. He just wraps it in, holds on tight and strangles them until he knows they're dead." Leiter looked at Scully, his face drawn. "These girls knew they were dying and they couldn't stop him."

"Him?" Mulder raised an eyebrow. "You think the killer's a man?"

Leiter looked thoughtful. "Actually, with that wire, you'd only need the right leverage and strength to get the job done. I suppose a woman could be able to do it." He shrugged. "I don't know. Call it chauvinism, call it hope, but I just can't buy that a woman could be capable of something like this."

"You'd be surprised," Scully muttered under her breath, memories of her first beheading covering her. Seeing the expression on her face, Mulder quickly stepped in. "Anything else you can tell from the bodies?"

"Whoever's doing this is good," Leiter said as he walked over to a nearby table. He plucked a folder from it and flipped it open, shuffling through the reports inside. "Too good. All the killings have been swift and have a professional air to them."

"A soldier?" Mulder asked.

"Soldier, doctor, someone who definitely knows what they're doing," Leiter said.

"Even if we don't know why," Mulder muttered. "That's the hard part about all this, I can't see any motive. Even for us, this doesn't make much sense."

"The victims have been multi-racial, different backgrounds, different classes," Scully shook her head. "I just don't understand the link."

"Maybe there isn't," Leiter threw in. "Maybe it's an ABC crime."

The two agents looked at each other in confusion, then to Leiter. "'The ABC Murders', Agatha Christie, 1936," the coroner elaborated. "A series of seemingly random murders occur, apparently the work of a serial killer murdering men by the first letter of their names. A, then B, and so on. However, Hercules Poirot discovers that the murderer is actually after one death in particular and is using the other killings to cover his tracks."

Mulder paused to absorb what Leiter had said. "You're suggesting that the killer is after one victim in particular and is killing people just to throw us off?"

Leiter shrugged. "You're the FBI, that's your department. I was just making a suggestion."

He looked down at the body and sighed. "And can I add a request?"

"What?" Scully asked.

Leiter looked up at her, his face drawn. "Can you promise that I won't have to work on any more of these?"

"We'll do our best," Mulder remarked as the two agents took their leave, leaving Leiter to get back to his unwanted work.

*****

John Adams High School
November 17, 1997 - 1004 Hours EST

It was late morning when Mulder and Scully walked down the hallways of John Adams High. Although a little time the previous night and morning had been spent in bed together, they had taken some time to go over their files as well as those of the three victims. Thorn was good, very good. He or she left no fingerprints, no traces of physical evidence, nothing to suggest a description.

"All women, all between the ages of sixteen and eighteen," Scully said. "All involved in athletic activities. All rather attractive and popular. No drugs, mild struggle."

"I hate the clean ones," Mulder said. "Clean and weird."

"At least he doesn't mutilate them," Scully said. "It makes autopsies hell." She and Mulder were walking down the hallway when they felt it. The buzzing feeling in their heads, the odd sensation in their stomachs, the chilling along their spines. They both knew that behind the door they were preparing to enter was an Immortal.

The feeling had just faded when the bell rang. Immediately, all the doors opened as students piled into the hallway, a huge hum of conversation filling the air in seconds. Pushing their way through the crowd, the two agents entered the empty classroom. The teacher had his back to them as they entered. "Mr. Matthews? Special Agents Mulder and Scully, FBI. We were told to talk to you."

The man paused, lowering the piece of chalk in his hands and straightening up. He turned around. He appeared to be in his mid-twenties, with short dark hair, intelligent eyes and an athletic build. His light brown suit seemed ill fitting on him, as if a shell he wasn't comfortable wearing. "It's actually Matthew Connors," he stated in a calm and strong voice. "United States Army, retired. For now."

Mulder and Scully exchanged a glance before carefully walking forward, both attempting to seem as non-threatening as possible. From the way the man tensed slightly as they approached, they could tell he was an experienced fighter and a veteran of the Game.

"We're simply here to find out information on the killings," Scully stated. "That's all. We're not looking for a fight."

Matthew looked over her, then at Mulder, studying them both. "You're both young, aren't you?" he asked.

"And you've been around for a while," Mulder observed.

Matthew nodded. "I have." He moved to his desk and began to pack up some of his books and folders as he talked. "I was born here in 1750. I think my home is now a convenience store. I joined up when the Revolution started, I was at the Boston Tea Party and I died for the first time at Bunker Hill."

"Almost two hundred and fifty years," Scully observed. "Not bad."

"It gets more impressive when you consider I've fought in every war America's been in for the last two centuries," Matthew stated with a slight smile.

Mulder raised an eyebrow. "Now that's dedication."

Matthew's head shot up sharply as he glared at Mulder. "You're right," he said in a cool tone. "It is." He held the FBI agent's gaze for a long moment before looking back down at his papers. "I love this country," he said with pride. "Not the government all the time, but the country itself, its ideas, what it stands for. I've fought for it and I've died for it more than once. I care for what's right."

"And that's led you here," Scully stated, gazing around the room.

Matthew shrugged. "Well, I can't live by wars alone, thankfully. I have to do something to pass the time and I always knew that doctorate from Notre Dame would help someday."

"You need the money that bad?" Mulder asked.

"No. That's one thing we don't have to worry about too much. Just drop a couple thousand in a bank, let it pile up interest for a hundred years, you've got enough to survive on. I like it."

"Why?" Mulder pressed.

Matthew sighed. "I've spent two hundred years killing people because of differences, Mulder. If I can enlighten one person and show him or her how futile wars are, I feel a lot better." He took a deep breath before looking back up at the two agents. "But, this isn't a social visit. It's about the killings, isn't it?"

Mulder nodded. "Any ideas?"

Matthew shrugged as he began stacking a pile of papers on his desk. "I've tried to keep out of it which hasn't been easy. Those three were good girls, smart, top students, no troublemakers among them. The whole school's buzzing over this, kids are wondering if they're going to be next."

"The boys shouldn't worry," Scully said. "All the victims so far have been female."

"As I've learned from experience, Mulder, when panic takes hold, facts go out the window," Matthew said. He glanced at the clock.

"Look, I know someone you should talk with about this. She was friends with all of the girls. She's a good kid and strong to cope with an interview. Care to meet her?"

"What's her name?" Mulder asked as he and Scully followed Matthew out the classroom and down the hallway.

"Alice Fairchild," Matthew began to explain. "She's an orphan. Stepparents were killed in an auto accident three years ago and she's been staying in a boarding house ever since. A trust fund pays the rent and tuition and she seems to be recovering. I'm just hoping this doesn't push her over the edge."

The three walked into the school's gym. On a balance beam was a young woman clad in a red leotard, her feet bare and perfectly poised. She was an athletic woman with the limber body of a gymnast, seeming perfectly at home on the thin platform. As they watched, she executed a flawless series of backflips, landing feet first on the mat. Her long brown hair was tied up in a bun so it wouldn't get in her way and her attractive features were in a concentrated look.

"She's been doing gymnastics for years," Matthew said. "She's the odds on favorite to lead them to the state championship this year."

"She's good," Scully remarked. "She's very good."

"Yeah," Mulder agreed. "By the way, is it me or does she look like-----"

"Don't mention that," Matthew broke in. "She's sick to death of the Pink Ranger comments. She actually dressed as her for Halloween just to shut people up about it but it still throws her."

"Got it," Mulder nodded.

Alice!" Matthew called out.

Grabbing a towel off a bench, Alice came towards the three. "Mr. Matthews, what is it?" she asked as she wiped at her face.

"Alice, these are Agents Mulder and Scully," Matthew said, motioning to the duo. "They're from the FBI. They wanted to ask some questions about the killings."

"Oh." An uncomfortable look passed over Alice's face. "Um, look I don't know if this is a good time."

"We understand you may be sensitive to the issue right now," Scully said with sympathy. "But we really do need information."

"I already told the police everything I know," Alice said. She turned and walked over to a nearby bench, taking a seat on it. She picked up a waiting bottle of water and took a long swig. She was obviously gathering her thoughts as she swallowed, then spoke. "There was no warning or anything. I mean, one day they'd be here and everything would be okay, the next they were--" She broke off and took a deep breath. "We were at the Aft-Sec--"

"The what?" Mulder asked.

"It's a local hangout downtown," Alice answered. "It's pretty much the place to be on the weekends. Anyway, we all were there, laughing, partying, having a great time. Karen said she had to get home before her curfew. Her folks are always hard on her." Alice paused and bit her lip. "Were always hard on her," she continued in a softer tone. "She left around ten thirty while the rest of us stayed there."

"Did you see anyone follow her out?" Scully asked.

Alice shook her head. "It's a mob scene there on Friday. You can't tell who's coming and going. We pretty much went on our own about an hour later. Rachel gave me a ride over to the apartment I'm staying at while I'm here. We heard about Karen the next day."

Mulder and Scully could see Alice beginning to tear up. Sniffling, she continued. "We gathered at Rachel's house, to cry about it, to talk. I mean, we were all so close, it just didn't seem right. We missed her. We all missed her. That was the last time we were all--" Alice broke off and buried her face in her hands as her grief came out. Scully took her in her arms and held her as she cried. A glance at Mulder confirmed that the interview was over.

Mulder turned toward Matthew, whose face was drawn. "Anyone else you think we should talk to?"

"I'm a teacher, not a cop," Matthew replied. "But it seems to me that there is one place in particular to try."

*****

The Aft-Sec
2046 Hours EST

The Aft-Sec was one of the busier spots in town, even on a weekday. As Mulder, Scully and Matthew pushed their way through the crowd, the jukebox kicked into a loud rap tune that produced a rush to the dance floor. "I think the decline of modern civilization can be traced directly to the advent of rap," Matthew said as they came to the back of the building. "I'm telling you, since the Beatles broke up, things haven't been the same."

"Are you sure you shouldn't be teaching music?" Mulder said. "You've been discussing the merits of rock versus opera since we left your house."

"I'm a music buff, sue me," Matthew said. "Owner's supposed to be back here. She bought the place about six months ago, changed the name, cut down the age limit, brought in talent, everything. Really revitalized the place. I've never met her myself but the kids seem to like her." He knocked on the door. "Come in," a soft voice said.

The three entered the small room. It was surprisingly ornate with green carpeting. A map of Ireland covered one wall and posters featuring U2, The Pouges, Van Morrison and the Cranberries were scattered around. Sitting behind a wooden desk was what appeared to be a woman in her early-twenties wearing an expensive suit. She had long shoulder-length red hair, attractive features and what appeared to be a body in very good shape. She wore a bright green dress with a dip toward her rather impressive cleavage. Scully glanced over at Mulder and glared at the open look of admiration he was giving the woman. She nudged him hard with her elbow to jar him out of it. "On the job," she hissed.

"Can I help it if I admire redheads?" Mulder whispered back with a smile and Scully couldn't help but feel a little touched.

The woman looked at the three and her gaze came to Matthew. "I'll be damned," she said, smiling. Her voice carried a slight Irish accent. "I was wondering when you'd finally drop by."

"Hello, Megan," Matthew said, a smile coming over his face.

"You two know each other?" Mulder asked.

Matthew nodded. "We go back."

*****

April 15, 1912
The North Atlantic

Matthew Conners pulled his coat around himself as he walked to the aft section of the ship. *God, I haven't felt this cold since Valley Forge.* The biting wind blew his coat behind him as he walked down the deck of the silent ship. He couldn't wait to get to New York, back to America. His trip to Europe had been beneficial. He had met a few teachers, gotten some new moves and studied some cultures more. But it still felt good to be back on his home soil.

He watched as the passengers from first class walked to the lounge. It was amazing what kind of nightlife the ship had. Almost midnight and people were still enjoying parties. Matthew smiled. Second class may not have as many privileges, but they were planning a party of their own when the ship docked.

He was nearing the aft section of the ship when he felt the presence of another Immortal. For a moment, he considered turning around, but something told him to go forward. He might as well get this out of the way. He wondered if it was one of the two Irish people he had met the other day.

Just going by their names, Rhoan and Diedre, Matthew could tell they were older than him, maybe even over a thousand years each. *Definitely not a pair I want to fight with, especially on a ship.* He paused, trying to get a fix on just where the Buzz was coming from.

He came to the aft section and saw two people struggling by the railing to the aft of the ship. One was a man who appeared to be athletic, in his forties with silver hair and a dress tuxedo. The other was a young woman just out of her teens, with brilliant red hair, beautiful features and clothes that identified her as third class. As Matthew approached, he could hear the two argue.

"I said, I want my money, you whore!"

"Get out of me face, pal. Trust me, you don't want to see me get angry."

"Excuse me," Matthew said. The two stopped and looked at him. "I think the lady wants to be left alone."

The man pointed at Matthew. "This doesn't concern you. Leave now before I get angry."

"It's my business now," Matthew said as he stepped forward. "Let her go."

"I can handle myself, lad," the girl said. "I appreciate the effort though."

"Let me make myself clear," Matthew said. "You leave her alone and walk away, we stay clear of each other and leave things alone. Or there's going to be trouble."

The man shoved the girl down, reached into his coat and pulled out a sword. "My name is Horace Greenwood. Might I have yours before you die?"

"Matthew Conners, United States Army, retired." He pulled his sword out and slipped off his coat.

"Um, look lads, I'm flattered you're willing to go to these lengths, but I hardly think I'm worth it," the girl said as the two began circling each other.

"I'll be with you in a minute," Greenwood said as he got into a fighting stance. Matthew held up his blade. They began to fight, sparks ringing from their blades as they slammed against one another. They were unheeding of the cold or of any other activity on board the ship except each other. They continued to fight, each carefully watching his step on the slippery deck.

Megan Maguire blinked her eyes as she watched. She couldn't believe this. She'd kept to herself since the ship got underway. America seemed as good a place as any to get a new start but she wasn't sure now. If these were the kind of people America produced, maybe she should have stayed in Ireland. She wasn't sure what was going on but she knew one thing. It had been a long time since anyone had done anything for her and she wasn't about to let this man be killed over it.

She flew at the pair, tackling Greenwood to the deck. The sudden show of strength took Matthew by surprise. "Hey, you can't interfere!" he yelled. She glared at him and he involuntarily took a step back. It had been a long time since Matthew had been shocked but seeing the glowing eyes and extended fangs on the face of the girl did it. Distracted, Megan was suddenly shoved away by Greenwood, knocked into Matthew and sending him off-balance.

Getting back to his feet, Greenwood stood up, his sword ready to strike when suddenly the entire ship shook under them. A loud screeching sound was heard and a huge shadow seemed to fall on one side of the ship. Matthew got to his feet and took advantage of the distraction to ram his sword into Greenwood's chest. With a spin, Matthew's blade sliced through Greenwood's neck. The head fell to the side, bounced off the railing and fell to the sea below.

Megan watched Matthew leaned against the railing, closing his eyes as he got ready. Her eyes widened as she saw what looked like a white cloud exit Greenwood's body and cover Matthew. Bolts of electricity suddenly surrounded him, striking him in the chest, pushing him against the railing. The lightning ran down the railing, the current flowing from Matthew's body. Finally, the Quickening died and Matthew fell to his knees, heaving with breath.

"What the hell was that?" Megan said as she bent to Matthew.

"Help me get rid of the body," Matthew gasped. Without a word, Megan bent down to Greenwood's body. With a slight grunt, she picked it up as if it was just a sack of wheat and threw it over the side of the ship. "That'll work," Matthew said with some surprise.

"What the hell are you?" Megan asked.

Matthew looked into her glowing eyes. "I could ask you the same question." He stood up, leaning against the railing as he put the sword under his coat. He stuck his hand out. "Matthew Conners. Born in Massachusetts, 1750. Died in 1775, during the American Revolution. I'm Immortal."

After a pause, Megan placed her hand in his. "Megan Maguire. Born in Dublin, 1780. Brought across New Year's Day, 1800. I'm a vampire." She glanced at the curious onlookers coming out, wondering about the mysterious rumble. "Maybe we'd better talk inside."

"I guess I shouldn't be surprised," Matthew said. He and Megan were inside his second-class cabin, Matthew changing his bloody shirt. "I've heard stories about you people in every culture I've studied. Too much smoke for there to be no fire."

"I've heard stories about you as well," Megan said. She sat back on the bed, crossing her legs as she looked at Matthew in mild wonder. "People who never die, who always heal, who play some sort of Game for a Prize beyond imagining. Never believed it until now."

"Well, it's true," Matthew said as he buttoned his shirt. "Out of curiosity, what was the problem out there?"

Megan shrugged. "I filched a couple of bucks off the guy. Not for me, for a couple of friends in steerage. They were good people, needed a fresh start. I thought I'd give them one. Didn't think the bloke would miss it."

"Good call," Matthew snorted. "Maybe you should have just killed him."

"I don't kill indiscriminately like most of my kind," Megan said in a hard tone. "I kill those who deserve it. I wasn't sure if Greenwood deserved it or not. If I thought he did, I'd have done it, believe me."

"Would have just pissed him off," Matthew remarked. "Guess it's a good thing I settled this before it got out of hand." A knock on the door interrupted him. Opening it, Matthew saw a steward standing in the hallway. "Excuse me, sir," he said, his voice trying to sound authoritative but

Matthew could hear a slight twinge of panic in it. "I'm going to have to ask you to put on your life jacket and report to the deck immediately."

"Is there a problem?"

"Just do as you're asked sir, please." The man turned and moved down the hall. Matthew closed the door, confused. "What the hell--"

"Shh," Megan said, holding a finger to her lips. She cocked her head, listening. "The engines have stopped. I can hear people running around. And there's more sounds of water than there should be." She and Matthew shared a long look, then ran out of the room, heading towards the deck.

They entered the main dining room and Matthew suddenly stopped as he saw a tall man in an officer's uniform standing by the mantle. "Captain Smith?" he said. The man looked up, his face drawn behind the white beard. "Mr. Conners, isn't it? We met at lunch the other day."

"That's right. Captain, what's happening?"

Smith took a deep breath and sighed. "We've hit an iceberg. Slashed the hull. The compartments are flooding and the pumps can't handle it."

There was a moment of silence as Matthew and Megan absorbed the information. "How long?" Matthew said, not even bothering to hope for the best.

"An hour, two if we're lucky," Smith said with obvious regret. He looked up at Matt with piercing eyes tinged with sad acceptance. "Not enough boats, Mr. Conners, that's the kicker. Not enough boats by half."

Matthew bit his lip. "It's not your fault sir. No one could have predicted this."

"They should have," Smith sighed. He looked back at the two. "You better get above. Maybe if you're lucky you can get off in time." He turned and began to walk away.

"Where are you going?" Megan asked.

"To the deck, to see to things. Then to the bridge." He stopped by the doorway and gazed around. "She was supposed to live longer. She was supposed to be a legend." Shaking his head, he started to the upper decks.

"Captain!" Smith turned to see Matthew standing there, saluting him with a professional air that belied his youthful appearance. Smith calmly returned the salute and walked to the bridge for the last time.

"Oh, hell," Megan said, running her hands through her hair.

"What are you worried about? We won't drown," Matthew said.

"No, but if we're out there until sunrise, I'm dust," Megan said as she began running to an access corridor.

"Where are you going?" Matthew said. He began following Megan down the halls of the ship.

"We've got to get to the cargo hold," Megan replied. Matthew was in good shape but he found it hard to keep up with the preternaturally fast Megan.

"The entire fucking ship is going under and you want to check your luggage?" Matthew said incredulously. "The cargo holds are probably under water by now!"

"Then we've got to move fast." Megan led the way through the crisscrossing corridors. Matthew followed, unsure why. He was by no means afraid. A hundred and fifty years of war had driven it out of him. But the last thing he wanted was to spend the next few decades trapped inside a ship on the bottom of the sea. He followed her, the water getting deeper as they went along.

Finally, Megan reached the cargo deck she'd been looking for. Ripping the door away, she rushed in and approached a long, sleek box floating atop the water. Matthew stopped and stared at the object in disbelief. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me."

"I never trusted English advertising," Megan said as she began pushing the coffin toward the door. "This sucker's watertight and it's got a few packets of blood inside, enough to last me a while."

"Room enough for two?" Matthew and Megan both turned to see a man standing before him. He was an aristocratic-like man with dark hair and a dress suit. "My name is Nicholas," he said. "I could use some shelter myself."

Matthew glanced at Megan. "He's--"

Megan nodded. Sighing, Matthew grabbed the coffin. "Let's go. We can exchange pleasantries later." The three dragged the coffin up through the rapidly flooding hallways, to the deck. The entire bow of the ship was under by this point and the passengers remaining were in a state of total panic, unassured by the cries of the stewards. The three pulled the coffin into a relatively quiet section of the deck. Megan quickly popped open the lid and got inside, Nicholas behind her.

"Watch the hands," Megan informed the other vampire as they squeezed in. She did a double take at his handsome features and smirked. "On second thought, don't." She looked up at Matthew and nodded at the lid. "Make sure the lid's locked and don't open it until sunset."

"You got it," Matthew said. "See you soon." He shut the lid and locked it. He began pushing the coffin towards the side of the ship to send it into the water. He paused as he came across an unusual sight: The ship's band, playing calmly as if they were in the main dining hall, unheeding of the water coming towards them. "Excuse me," Matthew said. "Do you by any chance happen to know 'Nearer My God to Thee?'"

*****

The Aft-Sec
November 17th, 1997 - 2049 Hours EST

The two stood still for a moment, lost in their shared memories until Mulder coughed into his hand to get their attention. "Sorry to butt in," he said. "But we needed to ask a few questions."

"About Thorn?" Megan said, leaning back in her chair. "I've heard the word about him around town. Believe me, if I knew who that bastard was, you wouldn't be here," Megan sadly shook her head. "Those were good girls, all of them. They didn't smoke, didn't drink. They'd come in here, play some tunes, dance a little, and that would be it. Damn shame."

"You see anyone suspicious around here the last few nights, someone regular?" Mulder asked.

"Whole place is regulars, laddie, how do you think I stay in business? I have a good memory, but I still can't pick a single face out of the crowds I've gotten."

"Anything you think you could be important?" Scully pressed.

Megan shook her head. "No. Keep an eye on that Alice though. She's got a line to be the next victim."

"I hope not," Matthew said. "She's a good kid. Almost wish she was family."

Megan shook her head. "We all wish that, Matt."

"Well, at least your kind gets to know your parents. We don't."

Mulder and Scully exchanged confused looks before glancing over at Matthew. "What do you mean?" Mulder said.

Matthew looked puzzled. "Didn't Duncan tell you about our families?"

"He told us we can't have children," Scully said. "He didn't say anything beyond that."

Matthew closed his eyes. "Damn," he whispered. He looked at the two. "Look, this is going to be difficult for you to accept but the people you think are your parents--aren't."

They stared at him. "What?" Scully asked, her voice a whisper.

"We're foundlings. All of us. I was abandoned on my parent's doorstep when I was an infant. I don't know who my real mom or dad was. It must have happened to you at some point after your birth. I don't know if you were adopted or what but the fact is that you don't have a real family. None of us do. It's part of being Immortal."

A sickening expression had covered the faces of Mulder and Scully as they realized what Matthew was saying. They'd been forced to accept a lot of things since becoming Immortal, but this was unexpected. They'd had to come to grips with the fact that they would outlive their families. Now, they were told they had no families. "We--we've got to go," Mulder said softly. He took Scully by the arm and led her out. Scully gripped his arm hard and leaned against them as they left.

"Nice going," Megan said. "Maybe you should have dropped a ton of bricks on them while you were at it."

"Hey, I thought they knew," Matthew said defensively. "Damn. That's one of the hardest things to accept about our nature. It hurts having to know that the people you've accepted as your family aren't."

"Technically, no," Megan said. "But those people did raise you, they did care for you and they did love you. That's family in my book."

Matthew smiled at her. "You've grown up, Megan, you really have."

"Well, don't let it get out. I have a reputation to maintain."

"Does that include making better travel selections?" Matthew chided. He sighed and shook his head. "Four hours. That's how long I spent on top of that thing, floating in the water."

"Think of how we felt," Megan answered. "Cramped in that sucker for a whole day."

"At least you were warm."

Megan raised an eyebrow. "Matt? The only way I feel heat is if I step into sunlight."

"Hey, you didn't have to explain why I had the thing------" Matt broke off and straightened as he felt a presence outside the room. "Either Mulder and Scully decided to come back or we've got company."

Megan sighed as she stood up. "Do me a favor. If there's going to be a fight, have it a long ways from here, all right? Town's already spooked." They walked out of the office, into the bustling club. Matthew's eyes focused on a man behind the bar, dressed in simple jeans and a dark blue shirt, a darker jacket folded on his seat. He was tall, with sandy-blond hair and a drawn, ragged face with a scar down the left cheek. His eyes showed a lifetime of experience and his face broke into a slight smile when he saw Matthew, who stared back at him in shock. "How's it going, kid?"

"My god, Thomas!" Matthew moved forward and embraced the man. "Jesus, what are you doing here?"

"Little cross-country touring. I heard from some contacts you were here, so I thought I'd pay you a visit."

"Damn, it's been years. You look as horrible as ever."

"Always the flatterer."

Matthew nodded to Megan. "This is Megan Maguire, she owns the place. Megan, this is my oldest friend, Thomas Borden."

Megan raised an eyebrow. "The old soldier himself? I was beginning to think Matt was just making you up."

Borden frowned at her until Matthew spoke. "She knows about us." He decided to keep Megan's nature a secret for now. "Thomas was my first teacher, the first Immortal I met. When I was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill, he managed to find me, tell me what I was and start my training."

"We parted ways after the Revolution," Borden said. "But we've made sure to catch up with one another from time to time."

"Last time was in Baghdad, little recon trip before the Gulf War," Matthew explained. "I stepped a land mine and Thomas managed to drag my body out while I healed."

"Hey, I owed you from 'Nam, remember."

"Tell you what," Megan said. "Let's step into my office and you two can rehash old times over a bottle of Bushmill's, my treat."

"I like this woman already, Matt," Borden said.

"Watch it, Tom. She can eat you up."

*****

John Adams High School
2302 Hours EST

The gym was dark save for a pair of dim lights. It was silent except for the grunts of the young woman on the bars. Alice was practicing. She had found a way into the gym through a secret doorway. It had apparently been boarded up for years but a little effort took care of that. She worked out in secret, practicing as hard as she could. She did it whenever she couldn't get to sleep, something that had happened more and more frequently lately. She worked hard, pushing her body to its limits and beyond.

Alice thought about the events of the last few days as she went, using the pain to drive her. She blinked away the tears as she went, remembering the pain she'd felt with each death. She flashed over past times, movies, games, sleepovers, all the good times she'd had with her friends. She went into a series of flips, swinging from one bar to the next. She was barely conscious of where she was or what she was doing. She used the hate, used the pain, used everything to continue her routine.

She flipped off the beam, somersaulting onto the mat and coming up to her feet, arms outstretched. With a single breath, she crumpled onto the mat, heaving for breath, tears running down her face. She thought she would have felt better when this started but if anything she felt worse. She slowly stood up and moved to the bag by the bench. She swiftly and silently changed, slipping on a red sweatshirt and a pair of jeans. Packing her gear into her bag, she made her way out.

Alice was lost in thoughts as she walked down the forest path to her apartment. She had endured losses in her life. The loss of her parents, worse, of never having known them. The death of her stepparents and now this. Her three closest friends gone in less than a week, torn away horribly. She knew she was close to breaking. That was why she had been practicing. She needed to concentrate on something or she'd burst.

She heard it before she saw it. A small breath followed by the silent creak of a tree branch. She looked up in time to see the dark shape fall towards her. It landed in front as she dropped her bag and tried to run. Somehow, someway, she instantly knew who this was and her flight instincts took over for her. The figure grabbed her, his arm like a vise and pulled at her, tugging her back. Alice struggled, throwing out her foot and hitting the figure's leg. She squeezed out of the grasp and started running down the path.

She stumbled across a tree branch which was enough to slow her down. She felt those arms grab her and hold her. A shove sent her to the ground. She tried to get up and felt a wire grasping her throat. A tug and it cut into her, slicing through her skin and cutting off her oxygen. Heaving with breath, Alice twisted her head around and lashed out with a hand. It caught the dark-garbed figure's mask and instinctively, she pulled it off. The face lying under the mask was the last thing Alice Fairchild would see before death claimed her.

*****

Part two: In which a young woman is introduced to a whole new world.

The Aft-Sec
Hastings Bay, MA
November 17th, 1997 - 2351 Hours EST

Megan stepped outside and looked up at the stars. If she could have, she would have taken a deep breath. It always felt odd to hear silence in the early morning. The club had closed an hour earlier and she had attended to her own clean up. Matthew and Borden had left about an hour before that after making promises to meet up later. The staff had gone home and Megan was just finishing some last-minute details before she went to her loft upstairs. In a few hours, she'd seal off the windows and stay inside, maybe catch up on some reading, watch TV. She walked over to the side of the building, checking all the back windows.

She smelled it when she was a yard away. It was faint, but there. The smell of a still-fresh kill. Picking up the pace, she turned the corner and saw it: Alice lying amongst the garbage, a faint red line around her throat and a rose placed in between her teeth.

"Ah, Jaysis," Megan whispered. She knelt by the body, pulling out the rose. She shook her head in disbelief. She didn't bother checking; she knew a corpse when she saw one. It had happened fairly recently, within the last hour from what she could tell. Alice's body still retained a lively glow that Megan knew would vanish soon. Her arms lay askew and a bruise was on her cheek. It looked like she hadn't gone quietly. Megan touched her forehead and sighed. "You missed a hell of a dance, kiddo."

Without warning, Alice's body trembled with a sudden shock. Her eyes shot open and she gasped as she took in a huge breath. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" Megan cried out, taking a step back. She stared at the suddenly resurrected Alice, who was clutching her throat and head. She caught sight of Megan and cringed, pushing herself back into the garbage bags.

"It's all right, it's all right, I won't hurt you," Megan said, reaching a hand out. She could tell Alice was terrified and in partial shock. "I'm Megan Maguire, I own the Aft-Sec."

"What--what happened?" Alice choked out. Her eyes whipped around wildly, trying to tell where she was. "How'd I get here?"

"Damned if I know," Megan said as she helped Alice up. "I just found you here." Alice bent down, her head hurting. "God, I feel like hell."

"Look it too. Let me see you." Megan stood Alice up and quickly examined her. Her eyes fell to her cheek and widened when she saw the bruise fading away with a dash of what appeared to be electricity, leaving pink skin underneath. "Oh, hell," she whispered. She draped a hand over Alice's shoulder. "Come on, girl. There's someone I have to take you to."

*****

Home of Charles Matthews
November 18th, 1997 - 0023 Hours EST

Megan's green sedan came to a stop before Matthew's house. She undid her safety belt and turned toward the woman in the passenger seat. Alice was silent the whole trip, staring out the windshield as tears streamed down her face. Megan reached over and clutched the girl's hand tight. "It'll be all right, okay?" Megan said with more reassurance than she felt. If what she suspected was true, Alice's problems were just beginning.

They got out of the car and began to walk up to the small house, modest even by the town's standards. Midway there, Alice yelped and grabbed her head. "Damn!" she said through gritted teeth. "Now what?" Any doubts Megan had over what Alice now was vanished.

They went up the steps and to the door. It opened and Matthew stood there, a straight saber in his hand. He looked at Megan, then at Alice. He understood instantly. "Come on in," he said, standing aside, his sword quickly placed next to the door. "What happened?" he asked as Megan led Alice to the couch.

"Found her outside my club," Megan answered, placing a blanket on Alice's shoulders. "She looked pretty bad." She glanced around the room. "Borden here?"

"No, he left a while ago. I'll be right back," Matthew said as he stepped into the kitchen.

"What's going on?" Alice asked the redheaded woman. "Why did you take me to see Mr. Matthews? Shouldn't we go to the police?"

Megan sighed. "Lass, if what I suspect is true, you've got bigger problems and he's the only one who can help you."

"I've got coffee going," Matthew announced as he walked back. "Now, exactly what happened?" "She was outside the club, marks around her neck," Megan said. "She had this in her mouth." She handed the rose over to Matthew. He stared at it as understanding came over him. He sat in front of Alice, taking her hands in his. "What do you remember?"

"I was walking home," Alice sniffed. "Someone jumped at me, attacked me. They put something around my neck, and kept pulling and pulling. And then--then I woke up." She looked at Matthew. "Mr. Matthews, what's happening?"

Matthew took a deep breath. "Alice, I'm going to tell you something that is going to sound completely insane but I can assure you it's the truth and your life depends on listening to it and believing it. Okay?" Alice nodded. "My real name is Matthew Conners. I was born in Massachusetts in 1750. I died for the first time at the Battle of Bunker Hill, during the American Revolution, in 1775. I'm Immortal and now you are too."

*****

Home of Margaret Scully
Georgetown, VA
0037 Hours EST

Margaret Scully wasn't expecting the phone call in the middle of the night. Rolling over in bed, she snapped on a light on her end table and picked up the phone. "Hello?" she asked.

"Mom?"

"Dana? Honey, what is it, is something wrong? Did something happen?" The high-risk life Dana led had caused her mother to worry constantly. Although she'd never told Dana, Margaret felt more than a little fear at such late-night calls, always sure that it would be the one telling her she had just lost another daughter.

"No, Mom. I'm okay and so's Fox. I just needed to ask you something."

Margaret looked at the clock at the bedside and frowned. "Dana, it's the middle of the night. Can't this wait?"

"Mom, who am I?"

Margaret was caught off-guard, both by the question and by the emotion in her daughter's voice. "What do you mean?"

"I'm not your natural child, am I?"

Margaret's throat went dry, despite her best efforts to swallow. "Honey, what...what do you mean?"

"I know, Mom," Scully's voice came in harder. "I know I can't be your daughter. So who am I?"

Margaret closed her eyes. She had always known this was going to come up someday but it was still a shock. She rubbed her temples and got her thoughts straight. "It was a hard birth, Dana. They didn't have as much skill or technology back then. I didn't know what was going on, I was upset and in pain. The next thing I knew, someone was putting you in my arms. I looked down at you, at your beautiful face and I knew you had to be mine."

"So?"

"I didn't know for six years. Then, I received a letter in the mail. It was from a nurse who was working there that night. She told me what had happened, sent in some records she'd stolen. She said the baby I had given was stillborn. A child had been found abandoned not far from the hospital, no records or identification, no family to speak of. The nurse couldn't see a child left alone. So, she switched some charts in the confusion and gave me you."

Scully was silent as she took the news in. "Did Dad know?" she finally asked.

Margaret closed her eyes and shook her head, even though Dana couldn't see it. "No. I could never bring myself to tell him. I'd work up the nerve, but then he'd talk about you and I just couldn't do it. He loved you so much, Dana, just like I did."

"Who was my mother?"

"The nurse didn't know, no one did. I wish I knew, Dana, so I could thank her for you."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Scully couldn't keep the bitterness out of her voice and Margaret winced at the tone and went on the defensive.

"Tell you what? That I hadn't given birth to you? Would it have mattered? I love you, Dana, as much as any mother could love her child. Did it really make much of a difference that you weren't actually mine?"

There was a long, uncomfortable silence. "I can't deal with this now," Dana finally said. "I'll call later." With that, she hung up. Margaret slowly put the phone down, then pulled the covers off of her. She wasn't going to be getting any sleep soon. *Thank God Dana didn't ask about Melissa,* Margaret thought to herself. *Telling her that her sister happened to be adopted would be probably a bit much.*

*****

Baymount Motel
Hastings Bay, MA
0051 Hours EST

In their small motel room, Scully and Mulder lay, side-by-side, wide-awake. Each had been silent as they absorbed the information about their true parentage. Or lack thereof.

"Did you call your mother?" Scully asked.

Mulder shook his head. "I didn't have to. I knew. Somehow, I just knew."

Scully ran a hand down her face, feeling the moistness left over by her tears. "God, this is so unfair. It was bad enough knowing we were going to outlive our families, now we find out we have no families. Why?"

"Makes you wonder about God's great plan," Mulder remarked sardonically.

Scully pressed herself against her husband. "Who are we, Mulder? We don't have parents, we don't have siblings, hell we don't even know who our real parents are. What does that make us?"

Mulder stroked her hair as he gathered his thoughts. "We make ourselves who we are, Scully. We decide what to do with life, we set goals and we meet them. Being Immortal didn't change any of that. It didn't change us." He brought Scully's head up so she could see his face. "I love you, Scully and I always have. I love you because you're beautiful, caring, intelligent, strong and resourceful. A lot of that is because of the way you were raised, by a woman who loved you like a daughter and didn't stop when she found out the truth. You made yourself that way and I'm glad you did, because it's why I fell in love with you."

"I fell in love with you for two reasons," Scully answered. "One's because you always know the right thing to tell me when I need to hear it."

"What's the other reason?"

"Because you're damn good in bed."

Their chuckling was broken by the ringing of the phone.

*****

Home of Matthew Connors
0120 Hours EST

It had taken ten minutes of arguing and slicing her forearm and letting it heal but Matthew had finally convinced Alice of what had happened to her. He told her about the Game, the Rules, the Prize, holy ground, new identities, everything. It was a lot to take in at once. She was handling herself rather well.

"I'm gonna be sick," Alice whispered. She was sitting on the sofa in Matt's living room, her expression one of total shock. Matthew stood before her, giving her a look of sympathy while Megan sat in a nearby chair, her legs crossed before her. "Why me? Why did this have to happen to me?"

"I can't answer that," Matthew said. "We don't know why this happened to us or what's it for. I think that's part of the Prize. Knowledge about the universe that people have been wondering about for centuries."

"And only one of us can have it?" Alice asked. "It makes no sense."

"Well, sadly, neither does life most times," Megan interjected. "I do believe the world was created by God as a joke. I heavily suspect he was drunk at the time."

Matthew stiffened and Alice grabbed her head, the Buzz striking them both. "God, is it like that every time?" Alice said.

"Headaches pass soon," Matthew said as he walked to the door. "The gut feeling and the body-wide goose bumps stay around. Don't worry, it becomes second nature after a while." He opened the door and Mulder and Scully walked in. It was odd seeing them in sweats and jeans instead of suits. Their long coats were on though, obscuring the swords Matthew knew were underneath. "Thanks for coming," Matthew said.

"Wouldn't miss it," Mulder remarked. "First time we can talk to a murder victim."

Alice's eyes widened at the two agents. "You guys too? Geez, who else?"

"You'd be surprised," Matthew answered.

Scully sat next to Alice and gave her a cursory examination. "Neck wound's already healed. Damn, it might have been helpful."

"It was pretty far gone when I found her," Megan said. "I've got the rose, but I doubt it will tell us anything. I already looked and smelled it, no distinguishing traits."

"Smelled it?" Scully said, raising an eyebrow.

"I've got a few manageable skills."

Shaking that odd comment off, Mulder looked to Alice. "Did you get a look at who attacked you?"

"No," Alice said, shaking her head. "He was all in black, didn't see a thing. Well, I pulled his mask off but I was halfway gone at the time. I didn't get a good look."

"His?" Mulder asked. "It was a man?"

"I know that much. He was strong too, in good shape. He didn't have too much trouble with--" she broke off, feeling her neck, her face tense.

"It's all right, we've been there," Scully said, patting her on the shoulder. "We know it's hard to accept but you can get used to it." She looked up at Mulder. "Now what?"

Mulder bit his lip. "The killer's in town and he's probably waiting for her body to be found. Obviously, if she shows up, he'll know something's wrong. Aside from endangering our secret, it could drive him to something rash, something deadly on someone else. I think we should keep her under wraps for a while."

"She can stay with me," Megan said. "My apartment's secluded, quiet. It's perfect."

"The killer may not be expecting her to be found soon," Mulder said, stroking his chin. "First victims weren't found for a few days. It could give us some time."

"But she was put next to the club, in the garbage, in plainer sight," Scully pointed out. "It's like she was put there just to attract attention."

"I am here, you know," Alice announced, holding up her arms. "Don't I get a say in this?"

"Sorry," Matthew smiled at her. He looked over at Mulder and Scully. "You guys can work on finding the killer. I'll start training her."

"Wait on the training, lad," Megan said as she rose from her seat. "This lass needs some rest after what's happened. I'm taking her back to my place now. You can start boot camp tomorrow."

"Oh, all right," Matthew sighed. "I'll call you later and check on her." His eyes peered at Megan. "Will you...talk to her?"

Megan nodded, seeing what Matt really wanted. A glance at the two agents confirmed the idea. *Good call, Matt. These are federal agents, after all. It's not like they'd be open to the idea of vampires.*

*****

Megan Maguire's apartment
Just above the Aft-Sec
0210 Hours EST

"Here we go," Megan said as she opened the door and let herself and Alice enter. Alice started a bit as she took in the apartment. It had a homely feel that somehow fit with Megan's Celtic background. Dark green wallpaper and brown carpeting with nice furniture and paintings, posters and assorted artwork that all pointed to an origin from the Emerald Isle.

"My god, I've walked into a Dublin pub," Alice muttered under her breath.

"Well, at least I don't have a giant floating head around," Megan smirked.

"Gee, I've never heard anything like *that* before," Alice remarked with the tone of a woman who had heard something like that at least once a week since late 1993.

"Make yerself at home," Megan intoned as she walked to the bedroom just by the side of the main room. "Now, how do-----" She turned to see that Alice had walked into the small kitchen area and was opening the refrigerator. "Oh, now wait, I didn't mean that at home-----"

"What the hell?!" Alice reached into the refrigerator and brought out one of several bottles filled with liquid. She stared at it as Megan licked her lips.

"Ah...that's just my little diet supplement," Megan said. "Just a little juice thing I like, it's really quite-----"

"This is blood," Alice said. She stared at Megan, holding up the bottle and pointing at the label on it. "As in from the blood bank blood. A positive."

Megan was silent for a moment before realizing that it was no use hiding it. "It's got the best taste," she said softly. "O Negative has a little tinge to it I don't like. Course, it's like wine, the rarer types are always the best."

Alice stared at her with an uncomprehending expression. Megan bowed her head and appeared to take a breath. She raised it up and Alice's eyes shot wide open and her jaw dropped as she saw the change that came over Megan. Her eyes were now taking an inhuman yellow glow and sharp fangs could be seen in her mouth.

Alice stepped back, the bottle dropping from her hand and falling to the floor. There was a blur and suddenly Megan was standing beside Alice, holding the bottle in her hand. "Be careful!" she admonished, her face back to normal. "This isn't as easy to come by as you'd think." She placed the bottle back inside the refrigerator, shut the door and turned back toward Alice.

The teenager's jaw was moving but no sound was emerging from it. "Oh my God," she whispered. "Oh my...God, you're....you're a...you're..."

"The V word," Megan stated with a slight smile. She leaned against the refrigerator, arms folded as she looked at Alice. The teenager was trying hard not to start hyperventilating (and ignoring the idea that she was the only one here who was breathing) as she stared at the other woman. Her mind was a whirl but oddly she managed to lock into one thought: That if Megan had wanted her dead, she had no doubt whatsoever she'd be dead (again) already.

"Does...Does Matt know?" she managed to get out."

"Oh, aye, he knows," Megan matter-of-factly answered. "He and I were on a little cruise together when it came out. He handled it well."

"Oh," Alice managed to say. She swallowed as she gathered her thoughts. "So, um...how long have, um...how have you...."

"About two hundred years since I was brought across," Megan stated.

"Wow," Alice whispered. "You're....you really are a vampire."

"You're taking the news well."

"Considering I was dead about an hour ago, I'm open to a lot of things," Alice managed to say. She swallowed and looked at the refrigerator. "That, um...that's what you eat?"

Megan nodded. "I don't prey on innocents. Never have, never will. I do still need blood to live upon though. Luckily, blood bank employees are woefully underpaid and a few pints here and there are hardly noticed missing."

"Wow," Megan whispered. "So, you...you have powers and stuff?"

Megan paused and acted like she was giving it serious thought. "Enhanced strength, speed, reflexes and senses. I can hypnotize people, except some exceptionally strong-willed ones we call Resistors." She smirked at Megan. "And in case you're wondering, that pretty much covers all Immortals. Leastways the ones I've met already."

"Wow," Alice said. "That's....wow."

Megan smiled and reached out at Alice. She was rather pleased that the girl didn't flinch back as Megan placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm not going to be looking for a midnight snack with you so no worries there," she stated. "You're a good kid, Alice. I am sorry this happened to you. I know from experience how hard it can be. I just want to let you know you're not alone."

"Thanks," Alice softly said, still getting used to this. She looked around the apartment. "So, now what?"

"Now, you hit the shower and then get some sleep," Megan told her. "I've got a couch and a pull-out bed. I'll let you take your pick of which it will be."

"Don't you have a coffin?" Alice asked, gazing around the apartment with care.

Megan laughed. "Don't believe all the legends. The coffins, the no reflections, changing into bats, I don't know where that came from. The rest is pretty much right."

Alice sat down and put her head in her hands. "This is totally insane," she said. "I'm going to live forever only I have to chop other people's heads off to do it."

"Yes, well, it's better than my alternative," Megan said, pulling a bed out of the wall.

Alice stared at her. "You know, from what Matt told me, this

is genetics. I couldn't help this. It didn't matter when I died, this was going to happen to me. But you. You had a choice about this, didn't you?"

Megan glanced at her. "Aye," she whispered. "I suppose I did at that."

*****

Dublin, Ireland
New Year's Day, 1800

The sounds of clanking mugs filled the entire town. Dublin was known for its parties and the celebrations to ring in the 19th century were no different. An hour into the New Year and people were as loud as they'd been the previous night. Everyone in town was having a good time, drinking, singing and carrying on. Almost everyone.

Megan Maguire had celebrated her twentieth birthday two months earlier and fully expected to die this night. Her red hair was dirtied, mud covered her brown dress, her white shirt was torn and bruises covered her face. "Oh, having problems now?" The question came from one of the two muscular men hanging over her. They were both wearing the clothing of working men and had faces that had seen a lot of hardship in their lives. They had obviously too much to drink and their idea of a celebration came into direct conflict with Megan's.

"Shawn, I think the lass doesn't want our attention," the black-haired man said to his redheaded companion.

"You're right, Jerry. Maybe we ought to show her what she's missing, eh?" Shawn began unbuckling his trousers.

Megan groaned as she sat up. She had been walking back from the pub, having just finished a hard shift and wanting to spend the remainder of her night with her family. She had been walking by an alleyway when she had been grabbed from behind and slammed into a wall by the men who now stood over her.

"Please," Megan whispered through bloodied lips. "Please, just let me go. Just please let me go."

"Oh, we'll let you go, lass. Right after we have a little celebration," Jerry grinned. Shawn pulled out a knife, the blade gleaming in the moonlight. "Now, this won't hurt a bit, lass. If it does, too bad."

"Let her go." All three glanced over to see a woman standing in the alleyway. She was tall, with her dark hair tied in a bun, wearing nicer clothes than most of the others in the town. She took a step closer so her face was shown clearly. It was quite beautiful, elegant yet containing a hint of age as well as a dash of danger. "Let her go and I won't kill you," she said, her English accent clear.

"Sod off or you'll be next," Jerry said, pulling out a knife of his own.

"If you want to live, let her go," the woman repeated, stepping forward.

Shawn stopped and looked at the strange woman. He stood up, pulling up his trousers and rebuckling them. He kept eye contact with the woman throughout. Then he grinned. "Should have kept walking, lassie," he said. Without warning, he plunged the knife into Megan's stomach. She gasped at the stinging pain filling her stomach. As Shawn yanked the blade out, Megan sunk onto the ground, her hands covering the massive wound. Shawn looked at the woman and smiled. "Why settle for a girl when I can have a woman?" Shawn said, brandishing the bloodstained knife.

The woman took two steps forward until she stepped into the light. Aside from a beautiful face, the light also showed a pair of glowing eyes and gleaming fangs. "You had your chance," was all she said.

In a blur of motion, she slammed past Shawn, breaking the blade in half as she went. She was on Jerry in a flash, gripping his neck tightly. A twist produced a huge crack. Before Jerry's body hit the ground, she had Shawn in a death grip, flinging away the broken blade and sinking her teeth into his throat.

Megan barely noticed any of this. She was concentrating on the blood pouring out of her and onto her fingers. She saw a shadow fall across her and looked up to see the woman kneeling before her. "You're dying," she said in a simple tone.

"No," Megan whispered, crying. "I don't want to. You've got to do something, anything. Please, I don't want to die, I don't want to die."

"Do you mean that? Do you really mean that?" The woman had a hard gaze fixed on Megan. "Would you do anything to live? Anything at all?"

"I don't care, I don't want to die." Megan tensed as she felt a wave of pain come over her.

"Then you won't." The woman fixed her eyes on Megan's. Her voice seemed to deepen and it echoed throughout Megan's head. "Don't be afraid. Just relax. Trust me." Megan felt a wave of peace come over her. The pain seemed to subside and she stared into those brilliant glowing eyes. The woman slowly leaned forward and placed her mouth onto Megan's neck. Megan tensed and gasped as she felt a sharp, biting pain. A weakness came over her body as she slumped in Megan's arms.Then a wave of darkness washed over her vision and she felt nothing more.

Megan slowly opened her eyes and took in her surroundings. She was lying in a bed, satin sheets covering her, wearing a white robe. The single window in the room showed moonlight outside. Megan sat up slowly, trying to figure out where she was and what was going on. She felt a hand at the place where the knife had entered. Nothing. No scar, no wound, no anything.

"It's gone." Megan glanced up to see the dark-haired woman enter. She still wore the outfit from earlier and was holding a bottle in one hand. "Good as new. Better, in fact."

"Am I dead? Is this heaven?"

"Yes and no." The woman placed the bottle on an end table and sat down on the bed facing Megan. She was wearing a dark blue dress that allowed Megan to see her pale skin. Her black hair had been loosened from its bun and now framed her beautiful face as she managed a slight smile at Megan. "My name is Joanne Stevenson."

"Megan Maguire. If it's not too out of line, what's going on here?"

Joanne opened the bottle and handed it to Megan. "Here. Drink this." Megan took the bottle and sipped at the red liquid within it. It felt good, like the sweetest drink she'd ever tasted. "God, what is this? It's damned good."

"Human blood." Megan spit out what was in her mouth and looked at Joanne as if she was crazy. Joanne seemed to sigh. "Megan, I was born in England in the Year of Our Lord, 1066. I am a vampire. I brought you across a few hours ago. From this moment on, you will not age and you cannot die. You also can't go out into the sun and you have to drink human blood to survive."

The Irishwoman just stared in utter disbelief. "You're mad, you know that?" Megan said.

Joanne shook her head and reached to the end table. She picked up a small mirror and turned it so Megan could see her reflection. Megan barely recognized herself. Her features seemed to have become accented, her beauty intensified. Oddly enough, the freckles that had lined her face were now missing. But what got Megan's attention was that her eyes were glowing the same pale yellow as Joanne's had and her incisors were razor-sharp

"My god," she whispered. She felt at her face, at her fangs and eyelids. She slowly gazed at Joanne, anger flooding into her face. "You bitch!" she screamed and hurled herself at the Englishwoman. They slammed into the nearest wall, Megan attacking with a fury she'd never felt before. She belted Joanne, then smashed her head into the wall and kicked at her. She tried another punch but Joanne blocked it, twisted Megan's arm and threw her back on the bed.

"Feeling better?" Joanne said, her own eyes glowing in anger.

"How could you do this?" Megan snarled. "What gave you the right-----"

"You did," Joanne cut her off. "You wanted this, remember? You asked for it. For life."

"This is life?" Megan scoffed.

"Yes," Joanne replied. "It won't be easy and it won't be pretty but it is life all the same. You told me to save you and I did that."

"By living as a demon? That's not what I wanted and you know it!"

"How do I know it? I've known you for all of a day, Megan. We've got a lot of powers but mind reading isn't one of them. I didn't want to see you die. You didn't want to die. I thought this was the best solution."

"The best solution? To become a monster who desires nothing but to kill?"

"We're not like that," Joanne said. She paused and looked down. "At least not all of us." Shaking her head, she returned her gaze to Megan. "We don't have to kill in order to feed. We can survive on blood from animals if we need to."

"I don't want to," Megan snarled. "I want out of this, fix this! Make me normal again!"

Joanne shook her head. "I can't," she said softly. "Even if I wanted to, I can't. It simply doesn't work that way. All you can do now is to try and live with it."

Megan slowly leaned back in bed. "There's no way to reverse it? I'm stuck this way?" Joanne nodded. "So, now what?"

Carefully, Joanne walked over and sat before her. "Megan, this is a whole new existence. A new way of life. And as difficult as it may seem, there are a lot of benefits. I can show you. I can teach you and lead you. If you let me." Joanne extended her hand. Megan stared at it for a long minute before taking it.

*****

Megan Maguire's Apartment
Hastings Bay, MA
Novemember 18th, 1997 - 0305 Hours EST

"So, was it worth it?"

Megan continued to gaze at the wall as she heard Alice's question. "I'd like to think so. Almost two centuries of history, meeting famous faces and getting to know them pretty well, don't knock what I've seen. I'm not saying it's all been roses, but the good has outweighed the bad."

Alice appeared more than a little dubious. "Is this your way of telling me this is a good thing?"

Megan smiled at her. "You last a hundred years, you tell me."

*****

Hastings Bay Public Library
0921 Hours EST

"I can't see it," Scully said. "I just can't see it." She and Mulder were sitting at a table in the public library, going over several texts of information. They were in their business clothes, suits and coats, carefully draped so their swords wouldn't be visible to any passerby. Before them was a large pile of folders, files and some local records. "There seems to be no connection between these women, no common ground that they all shared."

"It's there," Mulder said. "Trust me. Every serial killer has some kind of pattern that makes sense, at least to him. However remote the connection is, it'll be there."

The two stopped and looked up as a figure appeared by their table. "Here are the other files you wanted," she stated. She was an attractive woman in her thirties with short dark hair and a professional demeanor. She wore a dark skirt and light blouse that covered her arms completely. She placed a set of books on the table before the two agents and straightened up. "That's pretty much it on town records," she stated. "We keep copies of the school yearbooks as well so I threw those in just in case."

"Thank you," Mulder said, giving her a smile. "I'm sure if we need more help, you'll be available."

"I certainly will," the woman smiled back before turning and walking away. Mulder watched her go as Scully threw him an ugly glare. "Mulder," she hissed. "Are you hitting on that woman?"

"No," Mulder responded. "She was giving me signals but I was not returning."

Scully narrowed her eyes at her husband. "Mulder, it's bad enough you were giving the eye to that Maguire woman last night. Now..."

"Dana," Mulder broke in, looking her in the eye. "I love you. You know that. As eye-catching as that Irishwoman was...there's only room for one redhead in my heart."

Scully looked at him for a moment before bursting out laughing. "Oh, God, that was the corniest thing I've ever heard in my life." She sobered enough to look at her partner and smiled. "Wow, you really must mean it."

"You know I do," Mulder replied. His smile faded as he and Scully both straightened at the feeling of another Immortal close by. They watched as a man came walking to their table. He paused before them, his jeans, dark shirt and darker jacket making him look quite ordinary. He glanced at the duo and slowly nodded. "Thomas Borden," he said.

"Fox Mulder, Dana Scully," Mulder made the introductions. Scully spared a glance at him. She was always irritated when he did that. "We're here on business."

"So am I," Borden replied. "Shouldn't take too long. Stay out of my way, I'll stay out of yours."

"Sounds fair," Mulder said. Nodding, Borden walked out, sparing a glance backward at the two agents. Mulder waited until he had left, then pulled out his cell phone. "What are you doing?" Scully asked. Mulder began punching in a number. "I know that look, Mulder. What are you thinking?"

"Just a hunch, that's all." Mulder held the phone to his ear as it rang.

"Joe's, this is Joe speaking," an elderly voice came on the other end.

"Joe? It's Fox Mulder, hi."

"Mulder? What do you want?"

"Hello to you too. I need you to bring up some info on an Immortal named Thomas Borden. Especially his movements in the last year and any unusual habits he's had."

"You mean besides cutting off people's heads?"

"Besides that, yeah."

A loud sigh came over the phone. "God, why Duncan told you about us..." Joe replied. "Mulder, just because I'm inclined to help Duncan out every now and again does not mean I'm the official liaison between Watchers and Immortals. I don't see that happening anytime soon."

"Look, we could use the help here. Something about this guy is setting off my signals. I know there's something off about him. Come on, as a favor to two of Connor's favorites."

"That's not exactly a sterling recommendation, Mulder," Joe remarked. "All right, I'll check out the database when I get home, see what I can find. Might take a while."

"Fine." Mulder quickly gave her the number for their motel and hung up. "You don't think he's--?" Scully said.

"Just a hunch," Mulder said.

"Mulder, whenever you get a hunch, we almost get killed. Actually, lately, we have actually been killed."

"Well, it's not a huge problem right now, isn't it?"

"No, but you don't have to fill out our expense vouchers for clothing."

As they talked, the duo failed to see the librarian watching them, then turning her gaze over toward the door where Borden had left, then backing away and heading toward the back of the library.

*****

Outside of the Baymount Forest
1031 Hours EST

"I know we should be keeping a low profile, but if we get any further out, we'll be in Maine," Alice said. She wore a black jumpsuit, shivering in the early morning cold. Matthew stood with her, the coat over his sweatshirt and jeans flapping in the breeze, a bag slung over his shoulder.

"It's only been two miles," Matthew said. "I did ten times this a day during the Civil War."

"No wonder you guys had such crappy battles, your feet hurt too much," Alice remarked. She stopped and looked at Matt. "Did you ever know Robert E. Lee?"

"Met him at the surrender at Appomattox. Ran into him a few years after the war. Brilliant general, good man, he was just on the wrong side."

"I think he saw it differently," Alice remarked. "He didn't want to fight against Virginia."

Matt fixed her with a look. "He went against the Union," he stated plainly. "That meant he was on the wrong side."

Alice stared back at him. "How many Presidents and Founding Fathers have you known?"

"Try me."

"Washington?"

An almost reverent expression came over Matt's face. "Greatest man I ever met. The books can't capture that spirit he had. Five minutes and you'd be willing to follow him through the gates of hell. Mark my words, he's what made this country so great."

"Jefferson?"

"Smart, more gutsy than you think. Another good man, never quite got the recognition he deserved, in my opinion."

"Ben Franklin?"

"Good inventor, would have made a lousy President. He enjoyed his catnaps too much."

"Lincoln."

"Humane, strong, honest and one hell of a sense of humor. He had some tougher times than the books would tell you. He deserved a lot better than a bullet in the head."

"Grant."

"Not a bad general. As for President, I couldn't tell you, I was in Europe at the time."

"Roosevelt?"

"Theodore or Franklin?"

"Either."

"Charged with Teddy at San Juan Hill. That man was a raving lunatic. Franklin and I had a good friendship, but it ended in 1942."

"Why?"

"I was against the interment of Japanese-Americans. I couldn't understand why an honorable man like FDR would go along with it. Told him it made us no better than the Nazis. That was the last time we spoke. I went off to fight, promised myself I'd make it up to him after the war."

"But he died before the war ended."

Matthew nodded sadly. "Time never waits. Not even for us."

The two finally came to a large clearing. They felt the Buzz as they stepped into it and could see Thomas Borden waiting for them. "Took your time," he said.

"I let her sleep in," Matthew replied. "Alice Fairchild, Thomas Borden."

"Hi, how old are you?" Alice said.

"Don't waste time, do you?" Borden replied, shaking her hand.

"Sorry, you're only the fourth Immortal I've met." Alice paused. "Well, that I know."

"Thomas here's been around since the 1680's," Matthew answered. "You couldn't ask for a better teacher."

"Surprised to have you call me for this," Thomas said as he pulled out his sword, a long and strong English blade. "You're old enough to train someone."

"Well, I figured as long as you were in town, you could help her with the basics." Matthew placed the bag down and opened it. He pulled out a long, crafted blade. "Hope this works," he said, handing it to Alice. "Had to find one strong enough to fight but light enough for you to use. 16th century Italian, excellent craftsmanship. Took it from an Immortal who got beheaded by a shell in 1944. I think you'll like it."

"I'm not sure if I'll ever like it," Alice said as she balanced the blade in her hands. "This is so weird."

"Make it part of you," Thomas said. "As of now, this is an extension of your being."

Alice gave him a dubious look. "You're making that up, right? This is a guy thing."

"No, it's an Immortal thing," Matt threw in. "Start treating this seriously, Alice, or it's your head. Literally."

"Oh-kay," Alice said. "So, this is just training, right? Doesn't sound too bad."

"Don't presume anything," Matt chided as he brought up his sword. "Let's go."

Behind a tree several yards away, out of sight of the Immortals was a man dressed in dark clothing, aiming a camera at them. He clicked a few shots and rewound, then a few more.

"Anything good?" The man started and leapt up from his kneeling position. He saw a woman standing before him, a woman who, if Mulder and Scully had been around, would have been recognized as the librarian who had helped them out earlier. As the man rose, the woman pulled back the sleeve on her left wrist to show the tattoo on the underside. The man relaxed as he pulled back his own sleeve to show off a matching tattoo. "Jerry Vera."

"Valerie Rosthon," the woman replied. "I'm on Connors. You?"

"Thomas Borden," Vera replied. Valerie walked up and peered closely at the scene in the distance. "Hmmm," she muttered under her breath. "It looks like Connors has someone new with him." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small pair of binoculars. Clicking them open, she peered through them to take in the scene. Her eyes widened. "Hey, I know that girl!"

"You do?" Vera said, surprised.

Valerie nodded. "She's a student at the local high school." She frowned. "I haven't seen her with Matt before, when did it happen?"

"Last night," Vera said. "A little before midnight."

Valerie shot him a look. "How do you know that?"

Vera started, as if realizing what he had just said. "It...sort of came up when I was watching Borden."

"Did you report it?" Valerie asked.

"I...wasn't quite sure yet," Vera continued. "Hey, I heard there are two others in town."

"Yeah, those FBI ones, Mulder and Scully," Valerie said. She still looked at Vera with some suspicion. There was something about this guy that was putting her off. She didn't know what but something told her that she wasn't going to like it.

*****

Aft-Sec
1554 Hours EST

Alice moaned as she opened the door to the upstairs apartment. She limped her way towards the bed, one arm hanging limply at her side, the other dragging the sword along the floor. She collapsed onto the bed with a huge sigh.

"Rough day?" asked Megan, who had been sitting at the table watching the whole time.

"I will never complain about gym practice again," Alice muttered. "I can't die, so why do I hurt so much?"

"Don't ask me," Megan shrugged. "My pain centers are totally off-line. Well, unless you stick a cross in my face or I'm outside in daylight."

Alice brought her head around to stare at the vampire. "How do you do this?" she asked. "How do you handle living forever like this?" Alice sighed and wiped at her face. "God, I guess I should be glad I don't have any family, I'd hate to have to live beyond them." There was a long silence that was finally broken by Megan."The night I was brought across, I died.

As far as my family was concerned anyway. Just dropped off the face of the earth. I kept contacts as long as I could. I heard about what went on with them. Do you know what it's like watching your mother's funeral from a hole in the ground? Your father's from a covered coach? It's not easy, believe me."

"Is it that bad?" Alice asked after a pause.

"Well, if you can handle the first hundred years, you can pretty much stand up to the rest," Megan replied. "It's hard, but it's doable. Not easy, but what in life is?"

Alice smiled slightly. "You're something of a philosopher, aren't you?"

"I'm Irish. We refined philosophy."

"Lucky you," Alice said. "What does the Fed duo say?"

"Haven't heard from them. Why are you so interested?"

"I'd kind of like to know who killed me. Call it a character quirk." That was the last thing she said before drifting off to sleep. Megan looked at her and shook her head sadly. *Lass is too damn young to do this.* She paused and then shrugged. *Then again, aren't we all when something big happens?*

"I'd call it a good day," Borden said as he and Matthew enjoyed a drink. The club was open during the afternoon although the real customers wouldn't come in until nightfall. Matt and Thomas were the only ones inside the bar at the moment, both sipping at their drinks. "She's good, real good. Could last a while."

"I hope so," Matthew said. "Been a while since I had a student. Not since Josh."

Borden looked at the younger Immortal and sighed. "What happened to him wasn't your fault, kid. It's the Game, remember? You taught him well.

He ran into someone who was better."

"I know, I know," Matt looked down at his drink. "Still, I wish I'd done more. At least find the guy who did it and try to even the score."

Borden placed a reassuring hand on Matt's shoulder. "You did for him what I did for you. Rest of it, you did on your own."

Matt smiled back at his teacher and friend. "Thanks, Tom. How long are you staying here?"

"I'll help you out tomorrow. Then, I've got to hit the road. You know how it is."

"Yeah, I do. So, another drink?"

"Thought you'd never ask."

As Matt nodded at the barmaid, he remarked off-handedly. "By the by, there are another pair of us around here. They're FBI agents investigating the killings so if you run into them, try not to start a fight."

"I don't start fights, kiddo, you know that," Borden said. "But I'll definitely keep that in mind. Thanks."

*****

Megan Maguire's apartment
2021 Hours EST

Scully knocked lightly on the door of the upstairs room. Alice opened the door, dressed in loose jeans and a light shirt. Scully could see

that Megan was in a corner, far from the light of the doorway. "How are you doing?" Scully asked.

"Okay. You find out something?" Alice led Scully in, closing the door. At a table nearby, Megan took a seat and went back to her financial records.

"Mulder's waiting on a lead. Aside from that, nothing." She watched Alice fidget in her chair and sighed. "Is there anything else you can-----"

"No," Alice interrupted. "No, I already told you, I can't remember what he looked like. I just can't."

"All right, all right," Scully said, holding up a hand. "It's all right. I know this is rough. I've been there. It took me a while just to get used to the idea. I'm still not totally used to it." She looked down at the ground. "I keep getting surprises."

Alice gazed at the wall where a sealed off window was. "You know your parents?"

"I thought I did," Scully said softly.

"I didn't. Never gave it a lot of thought before. Maybe they died before I was a week old or something, it never really mattered somehow. My foster parents were good enough. Better. When they died, it was like part of me died too. A big part."

"You felt pain," Scully said. "You felt anger. You felt an overwhelming sadness. You expect them to be around forever and then they're gone."

Alice looked at her. "You too?"

Scully nodded. "Mulder as well," she said. "It's something you have to work through." She carefully stepped forward and knelt before Alice, looking her in the eye. "My sister died about two years ago," she said. "She was shot by someone who was trying to kill me. It was bad living with that but it got even worse after I died the first time. Because I knew that if I had been killed, it would have just set off my Immortality and my sister would be alive. That still hurts me." She sighed and patted Alice's shoulder. "You have to learn to live with a lot, Alice. Everyone does. How you live with it determines how well your life will be. I think yours will turn out all right."

Alice looked at her and smiled. "It's a shame Immortals can't have kids," she remarked. "Because you'd make a good mother."

"Please," Scully snorted. "Like that's ever going to happen." Her cell phone suddenly rang and she answered it. "Hello?"

"Scully?" Mulder's voice came in. "Hey. I'm going by that bar and grill we saw and hoped you could meet me there."

"Did Dawson call back?" Scully asked.

"Not yet," Mulder said. "Hopefully soon. I figure we still need a bite to eat after all and the diner looks good."

"Okay, I'll meet you there in a few minutes."

"How's Alice?"

Scully spared a glance at the girl before replying. "Okay, so far. Nothing new has come back to her so we're still at a dead end."

"Hopefully, Dawson can help with that. I'll talk to you soon." He clicked off, leaving Scully to look at the phone. "I hate it when he does that," she muttered as she put the phone back. She looked back at Alice and gave another reassuring smile. "We'll find out what happened, I promise. Just try to take care of yourself."

"Thanks," Alice said as Scully turned and left. Alice waited until she was gone and then looked back at Megan. "I assume she doesn't know about..."

Megan nodded in confirmation. "Figured the lass has enough on her mind without that added."

"Oh, and you told me?"

"You asked about the blood."

"Don't remind me. Oh, and by the way, when you...you know...could you try and do it when I'm not around. Do you have any idea how disgusting that looks?"

"It does?"

*****

Near R.J. Murphy's Bar and Grill
2037 Hours EST

Scully's heels clicked along the pavement as she made her way down the main street toward the restaurant. She glanced at her watch and sighed. Sometimes she could sympathize with Mulder's impatience on cases and this was definitely one of those times. She really felt for Alice and wanted to try and end this for her as soon as possible. Once they caught the killer, all they'd have to do was invent some story as to how Alice survived and that would be that. Frankly, Scully doubted anyone would seriously take the word of a homicidal maniac as to whether or not a woman had been killed.

She was passing an alley near the restaurant when the Buzz struck her. She froze, her eyes darting into it and flashing about. She carefully entered, her coat opened and one hand moving toward her sword. "Mulder?" she called out, trying not to be too loud. "Mulder, is this you?" She continued on her way, her hand now gripping the hilt of her sword. "Mulder, I swear, if you're playing hide and seek again-----" She broke off as she saw a pair of legs protruding from a box near the end of the alley.

Instantly, worries over who else was there were overwhelmed by concern for her husband. Scully raced down the alley and pushed aside the box to reveal Mulder. His sword lay next to him as his body lay at an odd angle. It took Scully a moment to see the pool of blood forming around his head and the bullet wound near his temple. *Damn, that'll take a while to come back from....*

A rustle of movement got her attention and she tried to come back to her feet but it was too late. A powerful arm wrapped itself around her throat, cutting off her air. Before she could even gasp, a strong hand was placed behind her head, the heel of the palm at the base of her neck. The arm pulled, the hand pushed and Scully heard a faint popping sound as her neck was snapped. Then the overwhelming blackness of death took her. She never felt her body being dropped to the ground or the bullet fired from the silenced pistol that blasted into her head.

*****

Valerie Rosthon's home
2102 Hours EST

Valerie sat back at her desk, feeling the pain in her shoulders after having been at the computer for over an hour. She looked back over at the note she had added to her most recent report on Matthew.

Connors has now apparently taken on a student. I recommend immediate opening of a file on Fairchild, Alice, first death November 17th. Still attempting to find out details on both death and her relationship with Connors. Will keep Council appraised on any activities.

She was about to click the button to send it when a message informed her that a new e-mail had come in. She clicked over to it and brightened as she saw the information she had asked for coming in. "Knew you wouldn't let me down, Terry," she remarked. She scrolled down at the information and froze. She felt her throat go dry as she continued to click downward until she came to the final entries. "Jesus," she whispered as she saw first hand the full and ugly truth on one Thomas Borden.

*****

Part three: In which an old friendship is shattered while a new one begins.

Baymount Motor Lodge
November 18th, 1997 - 2133 Hours EST

The pounding on the door roused Jerry Vera from his sleep. Groaning, he rose from his bed and swiftly threw on a pair of jeans and a shirt. "Hold on, hold on," he called out as he marched toward the door. He opened it and was smacked back as Valerie Rosthon burst into the room, fire in her eyes. "What the hell are-----"

Without a word, Valerie smacked a large file onto the bed and turned to glare at Vera. "How the hell can you let him do this?"

Vera shook his head. "What the hell are you talking about? What do you mean bursting in here-----"

"I'm talking about Borden," Valerie hissed. "How can you let him do this?!"

Vera narrowed his eyes in anger. "My reports on Borden are for the Council, you shouldn't be able to-----"

"My dad carries some weight around the Watchers," Valerie said. "I called in some favors. If Borden is involved with my assignment, that makes what he does my business." She looked at the file and shook her head. "But this..." She looked back at Vera. "Why didn't you tell anybody?"

"If I did, I'd have to explain how I knew," Vera pointed out. "And that wouldn't help us."

"You could have dropped a dime and made an anonymous tip," Valerie pressed. "My God, how can you just turn a blind eye to murder?"

"If you think about it, that's what we generally do----"

"Don't equate the Game with what Borden does," Valerie hissed. "Why didn't you do anything, stop him-----"

"Don't you think I wanted to?" Vera broke in, his face showing his anger. "Don't you think I would have done anything to stop those girls from being killed? I couldn't do that."

"Don't give me-----"

"Ever hear of Gordon Templeton?"

Valerie was thrown by the question. "Who?"

"Gordon Templeton," Vera went on. "He was one of the best, a legend. But ten years ago, he became an admirer of his assignment, a French Immortal. I mean, really admired her. That turned into infatuation and then obsession. It took a while for the truth to come out but he started to interfere in duels. Small stuff at first, throwing a rock or something to distract her opponent at just the right moment. Then he worked harder at it, actually shooting her opponents down. He told her about us, about our records and they were soon lovers."

Vera sighed and turned around, folding his hands. "He was so blinded by his love for her, he couldn't see how she didn't care for him," he stated. "She just wanted to use him, use his access and the knowledge about other Immortals. She took down two others before the Council started to suspect something, too many big names in too short a time. Before they could do anything, she met an Immortal she wasn't ready for. Gordon tried to interfere and the woman he loved so much actually killed him in order to get to her opponent. She ended up losing."

He sighed and shook his head. "It's happened a few times here and there. Not too often but it has happened. Some Watchers feel too much for their assignments, others think theirs is the best choice to win the Game, others...hell, who knows why they do it." He fixed a hard stare at the more subdued Valerie. "We've got an important job to do," he went on. "And there's a line for that job between us and them. It's a dangerous line. We cross it, we chance wrecking everything."

Valerie was silent for a long moment. "So, we're supposed to just turn a blind eye to this?" she asked. "To what he's doing."

"There are Immortals who run massive crime empires," Vera told her. "Immortals who do stuff even worse than this. We just record what they do, we don't judge them. That's for history to decide, not us."

"We're historians," Valerie shot back.

"And the definition of that is someone who writes about history, not one who makes it," Vera replied. "Listen, Valerie, I've seen other Watchers in situations like this and I'm warning you now that if you go and make a huge noise about interfering in an Immortal's life, you're going to be facing a major mess for yourself."

"Even if it impacts Matt and Alice?"

"Even then."

Valerie turned away, shaking her head. "I can't-----"

"Connors has been in duels before, right?"

"Of course."

"And you've felt nervous that he'd lose, right?"

"Yeah."

Vera sniffed. "You're lucky. Try to imagine what it's like hoping yours loses."

Valerie looked down at her feet. "I don't like this," she said. "Not one bit."

"Immortals live with hardships, Rosthon. Why should we be any different?"

*****

"Mulder?"

"Hmmm."

"Mulder, wake up."

"Desert's here?"

"What happened? I can't see a thing."

"Either the lights are off or this restaurant is far more intimate than I was led to believe."

"I can't move my hand. I think we're handcuffed together."

"Damn, I was hoping I'd save this for tonight."

"My neck...someone snapped it and...In my hair, I can feel fresh blood in my hair. I think I was shot in the head, same as you."

"That tears it, I'm calling the matrie'd."

"Mulder, we have been shot and killed and dumped somewhere. Maybe by Thorn himself. Could you try to take this seriously?"

"You're right, Scully."

"Thank you. Now, come on, let's get out of here."

"All right. Waiter, check please."

*****

Alleyway by R.J. Murphy's Sports Grill
2140 Hours EST

The lids of the garbage bin lifted up and back and Mulder and Scully slowly lifted themselves up. Both looked decidedly the worse for wear, covered with garbage and blood still visible in their hair and clothing and handcuffed together. "God, I hate getting shot in the head," Mulder groaned. "It'll still take a while to grow back some brain cells."

"I'm missing a few myself so I can't think of a clever retort for that," Scully groaned back. She and Mulder limped over to the edge of the bin and tried to pull themselves out. There were a few minutes of grunting and maneuvering before they finally got out to the street, brushing at each other.

Mulder quickly ran his hands over his pockets. "Weird," he muttered as he felt under his jacket. "He left my sword and my gun."

"Same here," Scully muttered, feeling at herself with her free hand. "He just killed us and stashed us, this doesn't make sense." She stopped as a memory came to her. "I felt something," she stated. "The Buzz, a live one."

"So did I," Mulder said. "I felt it as I was passing the alleyway, about two seconds before a bullet hit me in the skull."

"If it was an Immortal, why wouldn't he take our heads?" Scully muttered, rubbing her neck. "Why kills us and leave us?"

"Maybe he wanted to save himself," Mulder muttered. "Maybe he wanted..." His eyes widened. "Oh, shit," he whispered.

Scully got it a second later. "Alice."

The two turned and began running down the alley, just slightly hampered by the fact that they were still handcuffed together.

*****

Megan Maguire's apartment
2044 Hours EST

The corner of the apartment comprised of a desk that stood as Megan's office. The vampire sat there, going over some ledgers and balancing some figures out. *Thank heavens Joanne was a stickler for accounting* the redhead thought. *I couldn't begin to handle just how much running a bar takes without her help.*

She was making a notation when she spoke. "What is it?"

"How did you know I was here?" Alice asked as she stepped into the room. She was wearing a loose pair of jeans and a dark shirt, her hair pulled into a ponytail.

"Ears like mine don't miss much," Megan replied. "It's one of the perks."

"Oh," Alice said as she crossed over and sat on a chair on the opposite side of the desk. She was silent for a minute and Megan gave her the time to think about what she was going to say.

"Um, look, I've been thinking," Alice began. "I've been having...trouble trying to remember the details of what happened."

"Not surprising," Megan said. "Maybe part of you doesn't want to remember."

"Maybe," Alice allowed. "But I need to. I need to know what happened. And I think you can help me on that."

Megan looked up at her in surprise. "I can?"

Alice leaned forward. "You said most of the legends about vampires happen to be true," she stated. "Does that mean the hypnotize people with a glance thing too?"

Megan was thrown by the question. "Well, takes often more than just a glance but, well, yes." Megan shook her head as their meaning took hold. "It probably won't matter though. If there's one thing I've learned, just about all Immortals are resistors."

"What if I didn't resist?" Alice asked. "What if I let you hypnotize me?"

Megan opened her mouth, then shut it. A look of surprise came on her face. "Never thought of that." She looked over at Alice. "Might work. Might work at that." She stood up and walked over to Alice. She pulled a chair up and took a seat next to the teenager. "You sure about this?"

Alice nodded. "If it gets it out, I'm ready. What do I have to do?"

"Just take a breath. I'll do the rest." Megan locked her eyes on Alice's and went to work. She locked her eyes on Alice's and let her mind move out and into hers. Alice felt as if she was falling right into Megan's eyes, a wave of relaxation washing over her mind. She let it happen, let her mind go numb as Megan's eyes enveloped her. "Alice," Megan said, her voice sounding as if it was echoing in a canyon. "Go back. Back to the night. What do you see?"

"He tackles me. I can feel him shove me down. I try to run. I can't get away." Although she talked in a careful monotone, Megan could see the pain Alice felt remembering. "He pushes me down. He wraps it around my neck. The wire. I can feel it cutting in--"

"It's okay, Alice, it's okay." Megan took Alice's hands in hers and continued to speak in a soft tone. "It won't hurt you. It's all right. What then?"

"I reach back--his mask, I grab at it, pull it. His face—I can see his face. His face--"

"What about his face, Alice?"

Alice's eyes suddenly shot open as she broke off. "Son of a bitch," she hissed as her killer's face. She shot up from the seat, which threw Megan quite a bit.

"Wait a mo, where do you think you're going?" the vampire demanded as she rose to her feet. Alice didn't answer, marching into her room and coming back a minute later with a coat over herself, hiding her sword. "I'll be back soon," she stated as if she was just going out for a bite to eat.

Megan reached over and snagged her by the arm, yanking her back. "Hold it right there, kiddo. You are not leaving here when there's a killer on the loose."

"That's why I'm leaving," Alice replied, trying to shrug off Megan's arm but the grip was like iron. "I need to find him."

"Who?" Megan pressed. "Who did you see? Not that it matters, because you are too young to go out there and try to get into some sort of hunt. I've had a little experience with that, lass, and going out when angry is not the wisest course of action."

"I'm going," Alice said. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry or not, lass, you're staying," Megan stated. "I can't let you go."

"I know," Alice said, taking a breath. "I'm sorry." Her hand whipped out of her pocket and pressed an object against the side of Megan's face.

The instant she felt it, Megan knew what it was. The absolute agony that ripped through her body, combined with the sizzling of her skin, was all the proof she needed. She screamed and grabbed at her cheek as Alice yanked the cross away. "Sorry," the teenager said again as she dropped the cross, yanked open the door and rushed out.

*****

2106 Hours EST

Mulder's fist pounded hard on the door as he and Scully stood outside. He and Scully had some trouble getting around town with themselves handcuffed together but they had finally gotten to the Aft-Sec and upstairs. Now, Mulder pounded on the door and waited for an answer.

It finally came as the door opened to reveal Megan, who was holding an icepack to her cheek. "Oh, it's you two," she sourly remarked. She glanced at the handcuffs, then back at them. "I'm not in the mood for fun, if that's what you're after."

"Where's Alice?" Mulder remarked as he and Scully entered.

"Not here," Megan said, holding the pack tightly to her cheek. "She...sucker punched me and left."

"Left? Why?" Scully demanded.

"She suddenly remembered something about the killer," Megan explained. "She didn't tell me what, she just took off."

"And you let her go?" Scully asked.

"Do the words 'sucker-punched' mean anything to you?" Megan said as she turned away. She lowered the pack and rubbed at her cheek, trying to avoid the two seeing the cross-shaped mark on her skin.

Both Mulder and Scully straightened as the Buzz struck them. They turned, only to find themselves tangled together by the cuffs. By the time they maneuvered out of each other's arms, the door had opened and Matthew had stepped in. He took a look at the two agents, then at Megan. "Where's Alice?" he asked.

"Remembered the killer, knocked me aside and left," Megan stated as she walked back to her desk and sat down hard in her chair. "No idea where or who she's going after."

Matthew glanced at Mulder and Scully. "What about you two?"

"We both got killed by some Immortal," Mulder said. "He dumped our bodies in a garbage bin handcuffed together."

"Any idea who?" Matthew frowned.

"Maybe one," Mulder said. "But I just don't know..."

Matthew shook his head. "Okay, we have to find Alice, that's the important part."

"At the moment, the important part is getting out of these," Scully said, holding up her hand. Matthew looked at the handcuffs, shrugged, pulled out his sword and swung downward. There was a splash of sparks as the metal broke apart and the two felt themselves freed.

Matthew snorted. "Neither of you two thought of that before?"

"We were shot in the head," Scully replied.

"Like that'd be much of a shift for you," Matthew muttered.

"Listen, pal," Mulder said, moving in and pointing a finger at Matt. "We're in the middle of something really big here and your interference is not helping us-----"

In an instant, Matthew's sword was by his throat. The older Immortal narrowed his eyes at Mulder and hissed under his breath. "Don't press me, Mulder. You're nothing but a punk kid in my book."

There was a flash of movement and Scully's sword moved to Matt's neck. "Don't knock punk kids," she hissed. "We've got tricks you old ones can't think of."

"Oh, Christ, what is this, a medieval John Woo movie?" Megan yelled. She calmly reached into her desk drawer and pulled out a cigar. She lit it and took a long puff. "I'd really appreciate it if you wouldn't kill each other here. I just had the office redone."

The four all tensed as the phone unexpectedly rang. Startled, Megan jumped slightly before answering it. "Hello?" A look of puzzlement came over her face as she looked at the Immortals. "One moment." She cupped her hand over the receiver and looked at Mulder. "Um, it's for you."

It took a moment for Mulder to think of a response to that. "Who is it?"

"A Joe Dawson."

"What's Dawson doing calling here?" Scully asked.

"I told him a list of places in case we were out of contact," Mulder replied. "Put him on speaker." Megan snapped the speaker on and replaced the phone. "Mulder, you there?" Dawson's voice filled the room.

"I'm kind of in the middle of something, Joe," Mulder said, his sword held inches in front of Matthew's throat. "Is it important?"

"I think so, yeah-----"

"Wait a minute," Matt broke in, fixing a disbelieving glance at the phone. "Boy scout? Is that you?"

There was a silence before Dawson spoke again. "Matt? Matthew Connors?"

"Joe Dawson, you son of a bitch!" Matt laughed. "What the hell are you doing talking to these two?"

"Well, it's sort of complicated-----"

"You're a Watcher, aren't you?"

Dawson was obviously thrown. "Damn, knew putting up that web site would hurt us."

"Relax, Boy Scout," Matt said. "I ran into one of you guys in Korea, thought he was a spy because he was so interested in me. Only reason he talked was because I had a knife to his throat."

"Always wondered why Greene left," Dawson muttered. "Listen, Mulder, I got that info you wanted."

"I take it it's not good," the agent stated."

"Oh, yeah. This Borden guy is one sick puppy. Born 1297--"

"Wait a minute, that's not right," Matthew said. "He told me it was 1689."

"Hate to burst your bubble, Matt, but your teacher isn't the saint you think he is. Died for the first time in 1329. Ran around England for a couple of decades--"

"Skip to current times, Joe," Mulder said.

"One note. Worked as a British spy during the Revolution. Helped Benedict Arnold negotiate the sale of the plans to the British. Sold out at least two dozen colonial sympathizers to British soldiers."

"What?" Matthew said, his face ashen.

"It's pretty much par for the course, Matt. This guy has no loyalties to anyone but himself. He sold his own wife to a slaver in 1657. He also prefers finding new Immortals. Seems to get a kick out of their new Quickenings. However, it seems he's one of those Immortals who just can't feel a pre-Immortal presence. Rare, but it's been known to happen. So, if he can't find them--"

"He speeds it along," Scully said, her jaw tightening.

"You got it. Kills until one of his victims comes back. Then takes their heads. Let's see, last time was a Joshua Reynolds in Virginia, 1862."

"Oh, Jesus," Matthew whispered. "Josh. I never knew."

"Damn, Leiter was right," Scully muttered. "He has been going for one victim all along."

"Is he Thorn?" Mulder asked.

"Yeah, he is," Dawson said. "I talked to his Watcher. The guy had a hard time keeping quiet, believe me. This 'we cannot interfere' thing is a real pain sometimes. You guys had better watch yourselves with him."

"Thanks, Joe," Mulder said. "Thanks."

Megan calmly flicked a switch and turned off the phone. There was a dead silence in the room. Slowly, the three lowered their swords, each stunned by what they just heard. Matthew was hit hardest. "Oh, god," he said softly. "Why, Tom. Why?"

"He's going after Alice," Mulder stated. "It's why he took us out, to keep us from interfering."

"But the only place he would think Alice would be at would be----" Matt's eyes widened as he realized where both teacher and student had gone.

*****

Matthew Connor's Home
2139 Hours EST

As the Buzz struck him, Thomas Borden smiled and picked up the pace toward Matthew's home. He was looking forward to this more than he could have thought. Alice's Quickening would be short but sweet. But Matthew would be something else. Two hundred years was still young enough for his tastes and he'd been saving it for far too long.

Borden did wish he hadn't had to go through so many girls before he found Alice. Not that all the deaths really mattered to him, he just hated having to waste time waiting to see if any of them came back. But the serial killer thing did give him a feeling of making history. Who knew, perhaps Thorn could replace the Zodiac Killer in modern-day crime lore as the serial killer who was never caught.

"He's not here." Thomas stopped in the middle of the back yard and turned to his left. Moving from behind a tree was Alice, her sword out and held ready, although Borden could see the knuckles nearly white as she tightened her grip on it. "Just me."

Borden looked at the anger on her face and sniffed. "So. You finally remembered."

"I can't believe I let you come near me," Alice whispered. "Let alone help me."

"Just made it all the better," Borden said as he took out his sword and began to slide off his coat. "And this is the payoff."

Alice Fairchild was almost certain she was going to die. The anger and rage that had pushed her to confront Borden head on had mostly faded and was replaced by the realization that this was a man centuries older than her and far more experienced with a sword. She should run, she knew that. She should have told Matt, she knew that too. She should have-----

*But he killed you. And he killed Karen and Rachel and Gail and so many others. He takes your head, fine. At least make him work for it.*

Alice swallowed and raised her sword up, moving into a fighting stance. Borden looked her over and sniffed. "Come on, kid. Just kneel down and get it over with. It'll save us both some time."

"I'm not dying easy," Alice hissed back. "Not again."

Borden's chuckle was broken as the Buzz struck them both. They both looked about and heard the rush of footsteps. "Matt!" Alice cried out as she saw him, Mulder and Scully coming from around the house. The rush of relief that came over Alice made her weak in the knees as the three Immortals approached. All of them looked with relief at Alice, then with anger at Borden.

"Hey, kid," the older Immortal said as if nothing was wrong.

"Go to hell," Matthew answered harshly.

"We know you're Thorn," Mulder said. "We know you killed a dozen innocent women just to get a cheap Quickening."

"Any evidence?" If Borden was afraid, he hid it well.

"We're not settling this in court," Matthew said. He yanked off his coat and threw it aside, his sword in his hands. "We're settling it here. Now."

"Wait a minute," Alice said, stepping forward. "You're going to fight him here and now?"

"Yes," Matt answered.

"Don't worry, kid," Borden called out. "Once I'm done with him, I'll be by for you."

Alice stared at him, then leaned in toward Matt. "Kill. Him," she hissed.

"You got it," Matt replied. He stepped forward, allowing Alice to move over toward where Mulder and Scully were standing back, both ready to take on Borden if he managed to win.

"You want to do this, kid?" Borden said, stepping into the middle of the yard, realizing for the first time how high the shrubs surrounding it went, hiding much of the yard from the neighbors. *Kid must have planned for something like this.*

"Don't call me kid," Matthew replied, following him.

Borden laughed, then lunged forward, his sword ripping towards Matthew. Matthew expertly blocked it and returned with a blow of his own. They moved down the small hill as they fought, exchanging blows. "Tell me something, Tom," Matthew said as he thrust his sword forward. "Why did you let me live?"

"Actually, I was planning on taking your head," Borden replied, blocking a parry from Matthew. "But, I ran afoul of a British merchant. We had an argument on how much I could get for some colonial's property. He killed me, so I had to drop out of sight." He launched another wave of slices that Matthew just managed to block. *Shit, he's been holding out on me* he thought as he saw shifts in Borden's offense that he had never used before.

"So," Matthew said, trying to distract Borden and honestly curious. "You bumping into me again every few years?"

"Well, I was wondering if you'd found any new buddies."

"You sick bastard," Matthew said, lunging. Borden sidestepped him and slashed at his back. "Lesson number one, don't over commit yourself," he said in a mocking tone.

Matthew spun and let his sword fly towards Borden's head. Borden ducked and made a stabbing notion Matthew barely avoided. "Lesson number two, don't telegraph your shots."

The two smashed their swords together, pushing against each other. Borden suddenly let his fist smash into Matthew's face. "Lesson number three, you've got two hands. Use them."

Borden made another slashing motion, only to have it unexpectedly blocked by Matthew. Borden made another move, but Matthew again parried it. He stared in surprise at Matt, who just smiled back. "You taught me everything you knew," Matthew said. "But I didn't stop there."

They continued to duel, their swords clashing with one another until Matthew sliced across Borden's chest. "Lesson number one," he said in a hard tone. "Never play me for a fool."

Angered, Borden lunged toward Matthew. He dodged the blow and slashed Borden across the back, creating a massive cut near the spine. "Lesson number two, never *ever* play me for a fool."

Yelling Borden threw himself at Matthew. The American soldier caught him by the wrist and kept the sword away. He jammed his own blade straight into Borden's chest, causing him to stiffen in pain. "Lesson number three," Matthew hissed as Borden's sword slipped from his grasp. "There can be only one."

Borden slid down to his knees, holding his chest. Matthew stood over him and held up his sword. "School's out, teach," he said, with a trace of sadness. "Today's Graduation Day." With that, he threw his arms down, slicing Borden's head from his shoulders. He straightened and took a few steps from the body, preparing himself. He closed his eyes and waited. He felt the icy feeling as the Quickening entered him. Then, his body came alive like a continuous electric shock as the lightning began. It spread around him, throwing up small explosions of dirt as his mind processed the images of Borden's life. He saw friends betrayed, comrades deserted, innocents murdered. He saw a life of greed of villainy. In seconds, he processed the life of the man he thought he knew so well and realized he didn't know him at all. The tears that came from his face as the Quickening died were not only of regret but also of anger as he thought of the friendship that lay wasted at his feet.

"Wow." That was all Alice could say as the Quickening ended. Mulder and Scully saw in her face a look of wonderment and something else. A look of fear as Alice Fairchild got a good look at her future.

*****

Hastings Bay Medical Examiner's Office
November 19th, 1997 - 0955 Hours EST

The mood inside the morgue was surprisingly jovial between the four people inside it. Mulder and Scully, dressed in fresh suits, were talking with Chief Brodie and Perry Leiter, the latter two in their uniform and examiner's gown respectfully. Lying on the table, covered by a sheet, was a body. On a smaller table nearby, covered by a smaller sheet, was a large, vaguely round object with a pool of dried blood underneath it.

"I want to thank you again," Chief Brodie said as he shook hands with Mulder and Scully. "I'm just sorry we couldn't bring this guy to trial. There was plenty of evidence in his bag to convict him, starting with the dozen roses."

"Well, at least it's over," Mulder said. "I'm just sorry we couldn't catch him sooner."

"Any idea how he got decapitated?" Perry Leiter asked, glancing at the body

"Apparently, in his rush to get away, he stumbled onto a rock and fell on an axe that had been left in the field," Scully said. "One of those freak things, I guess."

"Sort of like that sudden electrical storm Matthew's neighbors suddenly reported?" Brodie asked.

"Well, there was a taser among his various equipment," Mulder stated. "Maybe it went crazy somehow and caused some sort of discharge."

"Right," Brodie said, although his tone carried more than a touch of disbelief. "Well, again, I want to thank you two for your help. You saved that last girl, Fairchild, from becoming his next victim. It won't bring back the ones he killed of course, but it'll be something."

"Sometimes, that's all we can hope for," Mulder sadly said. "It was good to meet you, Chief."

"I'll make sure your superiors know the good work you did," Brodie said, sharing last handshakes with the two.

"That'd be a switch," Scully couldn't help remarking as the two agents turned and began to walk out of the lab.

Perry waited until they were done before turning to Brodie. "Do you believe a word of this bullshit?"

"Nope," Brodie replied. "But do you think they actually did it?"

Perry frowned. "No. But they know what really happened."

"What happened, Leiter was that a bastard who murdered a dozen innocent girls got what was coming to him. I'm willing to let a few inconsistencies slide as long as justice is done."

"Well, that's one good thing about my work, it's all black and white, no shades of gray," Perry said as he looked over the body before him. "A body is dead or alive. I don't think I'll ever see one that goes both ways."

"Well, that was mercifully short," Mulder said as he pulled the car toward the road leading to the airport. "Wish we could stay longer, I'd like to talk to Alice more."

"So would I," Scully said. "But I think she's handling herself well enough. I think that girl's got a big future ahead of her." Scully stared out the window as Mulder drove.

"Any plans for the weekend?" he asked. "We could try to get away, get a little leisure time."

Scully sighed. "Actually, I wanted to visit my mother. I think we need to talk."

Mulder nodded. "Do you want me to go with?"

Scully smiled at him. "Yeah. I would." She put his hand over his and squeezed.

*****

Hastings Bay Motor Lodge
1032 Hours EST

Vera opened the door and blinked at the visitor before him. "Oh. What is it?"

Valerie sighed as she stepped in the doorway. "I just wanted to talk is all," she said. "I assume you're leaving."

Vera nodded. "I just sent my final report on Borden, I just need to go the North American HQ to give it in person and get a new assignment."

"Hope it's a better one," Valerie said.

"Me too," Vera replied. "What about you?"

Valerie sighed. "I think they're going to have me pulling double duty on Connors and Alice. Since he's going to be his teacher, it looks like she'll be staying for a while yet."

"Good for you," Vera said.

Valerie sighed. "Look, I've been thinking about what you said and...I have to agree. We do have our place and we have to stick to it. We don't and we risk undermining everything we stand for."

"Glad to see you thinking that way," Vera said. He shook his head. "Weird. This is the first assignment I've lost that I don't feel much for."

"I guess I'm lucky I've still got Connors after all this time," Valerie sighed. "It's hard to see so many good ones go down to the Game. I wonder sometimes if it's worth it."

"It is to them," Vera said. "The Game is real and you know it, Rosthon. It's always going to be there, no matter what anyone says. If there's one constant you can believe in with this job...The Game will always be around." He turned back to his bag to finish packing, leaving Valerie with some food for thought.

*****

The Aft-Sec
1051 Hours EST

Matthew slowly sipped at the beer in front of him. The club was closed, Megan upstairs after letting him in. She knew he wanted his solitude. Matthew gazed at his mug and thought about the two hundred years he had thought were spent in friendship.

His musing was interrupted when Alice came into the club. "Hey," she said. "I guess I'll be back in class on Monday, huh?"

Matthew nodded. "We can do training after school. Weekends too. I've still got a lot to teach you."

Alice sat down next to him. "I wanted to say thank you. For helping me."

"I want to help you live. That's important to me."

"And me too," Alice couldn't help adding. She looked at Matt and frowned. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry about Thomas. I know it must have been hard for you to do it. I'm glad you did, because I wouldn't have been able to."

Matthew nodded. "I thought he was a good man."

"Maybe he was, once," Alice said. "Just not long enough."

Matthew nodded, still staring outward. He knew what she was going to ask moments before she did.

"Matt," Alice said in a hesitant tone. She fixed him with a steady gaze, trying to keep herself calm as she formed the words. "Am I going to have to fight you?"

Matt took a long sip from his mug. "There can be only one."

Alice nodded. They sat together as the club became enveloped in silence.

The End

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