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					XxXxX

Chapter Nine

XxXxX

There was a light snow falling by the time they reached the
town of Bakersfield, Ohio -- population six thousand. "And
two," Mulder added as they crossed the border.

Scully squinted out the window as she drove, taking in the
sparse number of buildings on the main drag. "Hopefully we
won't be here long enough to count."

"What's the matter, Scully?   You have something against
small-town charm?"

"I like charm just fine," she answered as she pulled into the
driveway of the Bakersfield Inn. The engine cut out. "But
let's face it, Mulder -- we're not going to catch this guy
here. Even if these murders were committed by the same man
we're searching for, he's long gone from this place."

"Ah,   but the clues remain." They retrieved their overnight
bags   from the car and headed for the entrance to the Inn. He
held   the door open for her, and they both stamped snowflakes
from   their shoes on the mat inside.

"Welcome," said a round-faced woman behind the front desk.
She put aside an Agatha Christie novel to greet them. "You
all must be the FBI, right?"

"Right as rain," Mulder agreed.   He brushed off his overcoat.
"Or snow, in this case."

"First of the season," the woman said. "You're lucky you
made it in before it hit." She took out her ledger and
consulted. "Let's see...I can give you separate rooms on
floors one and two, or else I've got two rooms together on
the second floor that share a common bathroom. Which do you
prefer?"

Mulder glanced at Scully, who said, "The joined ones are
fine." She returned his look. "I'll just make sure to lock
the bathroom door."

"Okay, if you'll just sign here," the woman said. "Oh, wait,
and I forgot. Pete Lydell dropped this off for you earlier."
She handed then a thick manila envelope.

"Great, thanks," Mulder said. "Is there anyplace to grab
something to eat around here?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid everything is locked up tight as a
drum." She thought for a moment. "Let me see if I can have
Patsy rustle you up something from our kitchen. It won't be
much, but it'll take the edge off."

"That would be wonderful, thank you," Scully said.

His bag slung over his shoulder, Mulder had the file open
before they reached the stairs. "Lydell says he'll meet us
in his office tomorrow at eight-thirty," he reported as they
climbed. "And these seem to be copies of the reports on two
murders he told me about over the phone."

Scully paused outside her door.   "Anything new?"

"Susan Perry's body was found here in Bakersfield," he
reported, scanning as he flipped through the pages. "Dee-Ann
Tucker was found in Kirby, where she apparently lived." He
glanced at her. "I wonder how far away that is from here."

"About ten miles back on Route 80," Scully answered.   "We
passed signs on the way into town."

"Huh," Mulder said, eyeing the folders again.   "I would have
expected them to be closer together."

Scully smothered a yawn in the sleeve of her wool coat. "You
can give me the rest of the highlights in a few minutes.
I've got dibs on the shower."

He nodded absently and let himself into the room. Tossing
his bag in a chair, he stretched out on the bed and turned on
the nearby lamp. As he held up the top folder, a series of
photographs slid out onto his stomach. The first one was a
color portrait, air-brushed and matted, showing a young woman
with a wide smile and mischievous hazel eyes. Her pink
blouse was open at the collar, and he could just make out a
delicate necklace that spelled out "Susan" gold script. A
senior year portrait, he guessed, taken only a few months
before she died. Just eighteen years old.

Reluctantly, he traded the bright and happy picture for those
that followed -- black and white crime scene photos showing
her bruised neck, scattered clothes, and mutilated toes.
When he held it up next to the light, he detected tooth marks
on the side of her left foot. Her little toe had been
chopped off.

The photos from the second murder looked much the same. Dee-
Ann Tucker died on or about February 3, 1982, having been
reported missing by her mother the previous day. The search
team found her body propped under a tree in the local
schoolyard -- raped, strangled and missing both little toes.

He had read both files front to back by the time Scully
entered from the bathroom a half hour later. Her hair was
wet. He gave an appreciative glance at the curved, bare legs
that stuck out from under her robe, and an even more
appreciative glance at the sandwich plate she held in her
hand.

"Courtesy of Patsy downstairs," she said, joining him on the
bed.

"Thank God," he said as he sat up.   "Man does not live by
peanuts alone."

She tucked her legs under her and took one of the sandwiches
from the plate. "Anything else of interest in the files?"
she asked.

"Looks like the same guy from DC," Mulder answered with his
mouth full. "Both of the murdered girls had toes missing."

"Did they have any suspects back at the time of the original
investigations?"

"Nothing that panned out. The local boys chalked it up to a
drifter who had moved on to another town."

Scully looked thoughtful.   "Could be possible, I suppose."

"No, our killer is a nice, corn-fed Midwestern boy, all
right." he replied. "From a small town where everyone knows
everyone. All we have to do is find out who knew this animal
twelve years ago."

"Great," she said with a sigh. "There are only six thousand
people. Should take us no time at all."

He shook his head. "There are two people who knew him for
sure," he said, tapping the folders next to him. "We can
start there."

XxXxX

Scully fell asleep halfway through "M*A*S*H," curled in her
fuzzy robe with the blue light flickering over her face. He
muted the television and watched her for a few minutes,
letting the gentle rhythm of her breathing wash over him like
waves. At last he rolled out of bed and padded on bare feet
to the closet, where he found a worn cotton blanket. He took
it back to the bed and sat by her hip as he tucked it around
her, stretching across and caging her body with his own. She
opened her eyes, and he froze in place above her.

"Mulder?"

"It's okay," he murmured, reaching up to stroke the curve of
her face with his finger.   "Go back to sleep.   I'll take your
room tonight."

She blinked at him a moment longer, then stretched, arching
under the blanket and brushing his belly with her own. He
sucked in his breath as she released a sleepy sigh. He
swallowed with difficulty and leaned down to kiss her temple.
"Night, Scully," he whispered. As he moved to pull away, she
stopped him with two hands on his chest. His face hovered
inches from hers.

"No, wait," she said.

Breathless, he waited.   "What?"

"I think..." She shifted under him, her hands sliding up so
her fingers splayed across his cheek. "I think the bed..."
Her face tilted up to his. "...is crashing."

Her hands fell away as their lips met, brushing first at one
angle, then the other. They connected only with their kiss.
Mulder quivered just above her, his fingers digging into the
bed sheets. He tasted her mouth and smelled her skin and
felt her twisting with need beneath him, her breath hot
against his face.

She whimpered, and he was lost, crawling over her even as she
urged him into bed with eager, stroking hands. The blanket
slipped to the floor. He panted in between frantic kisses on
her lips, her ears, her eyes. The ends of her hair were
still damp, and he took the curled tips in his mouth, sucking
off the last sweet drops. He wanted to taste her everywhere.

His cock poked around inside his sweat pants, and when she
parted her legs he rubbed himself between them. "Oh, yes,"
she murmured, her eyes drifting shut. She slipped her hands
under his shirt and stroked the length of his back, her
nimble fingers finding the sensitive skin on the sides of his
ribcage. "Scully," he whispered against her mouth, and she
swallowed the sound as she wrapped her legs around him.

Arching away from her, he tugged open her robe, releasing her
body heat and clean, spicy scent into the air between them.
Her fingers curled into his tee-shirt, tugging upwards, and
he obliged her by shrugging it off. She returned her touch
immediately, tracing his ribs down to his belly as she
planted tiny kisses along his jaw.

He tried, he tried not to go from zero to fucking in sixty
seconds. The avalanche of need inside him almost didn't care
that it was her hand on his cock, pumping so sweetly. But he
forced himself to open his eyes. To see her. To remember
the shadow curve of her waist, the warm weight of her
breasts, the feel of her pointed hot tongue on his skin.
Her breathing grew light and fast as touched between her
legs. He stroked her gently before trailing hot and wet
fingers down her thigh. Her hips jerked under his hand, and
he returned to his purposeful rhythm at her center.

She turned her face away, her cheek pushed deep into the
pillow as she panted in little "oh" shaped breaths and
followed the movements of his hand. He was prepared to rub
her this way for as long as she needed, trying to give her
the time to let go. But Scully clenched around him after
only a few seconds, gasping and shaking under his fingers.

He kissed the pulse fluttering at her throat, and she twisted
her fingers in his hair. "Good," she said, licking her lips.
Her eyes were still closed.

"Take your time," he said as he rolled next to her. He
traced a circle around the nipple closest to him and tried to
control the spasms of his hips against her thigh.

"Time," she answered, tugging down the waistband of his
pants. He slid them down and off in one motion. They kissed
face to face for several long moments before she rolled
herself on top of him, the terry cloth robe slipping down to
her elbows like a wrap. Her breasts peeked out from between
the folds, and he watched her eyes as he took both nipples in
his fingers and rolled them gently back and forth.


Her lips parted, her eyelids heavy, she reached behind her to
stroke him from root to tip. After another moment, she
shifted onto her knees.

He squeezed his eyes shut briefly. "Slow," he warned through
clenched teeth.

"Yeah, yeah," she agreed, positioning him between her legs.
She slid downwards a couple of inches, then stopped, and he
forced himself to hold back a groan.

"Okay?" he asked.   He could feel himself pressing tight
inside her.

"Mmmm." She closed her eyes and wrinkled her forehead the
way she did whenever she was thinking hard about something --
her lips pursed, her skin flushed.

Thinking about fucking me, he thought, and nearly went over
the edge right then.

"Oh," she said, a sound of surprise and delight as she opened
up and he slid all the way inside. She leaned down and
kissed him softly, then drew away to look into his eyes.
"Well?"

He kissed her back, once hard. "Mayday," he said, and then
gripped the bed as her laughter rippled through him.

She reached up and matched her palms to his, folding their
fingers together. He bumped his hips against her, and she
made a small, choked sound of pleasure as she bore down with
an answering push. They made love slowly at first, her cheek
against shoulder, his hands caressing her smooth back under
the robe. Then her fingers found his nipples with a light
scrape, and he began to sweat. She licked the side of his
neck.

"Can't," he said, more to himself than her, as the tempo
started to carry him away. "Can'tcan't." He was pumping
himself into her with smooth, short strokes.

"You can," she whispered back, her breathing uneven.

She sat up, bringing him deeper, and he groaned. He held her
hips as she rose and fell, until the pulses of pleasure began
shooting down his spine. She swooped down and kissed him,
and he hugged her tight as he shook and shook.

When he opened his eyes again, his heartbeat slowing, Scully
was draped over him with a satisfying dead weight. He mapped
the individual ridges of her vertebrae with his fingers,
learning every velvet ridge. Her skin was every bit as
peach-fuzz soft and smooth as it had been under his hands
seven years earlier, when she had dropped her robe for him in
the candlelight. He felt a lump form in his throat at the
small reminder of her innocence back then, amazed that the
same star-bright, cocky young woman was the Scully he now
loved.

He kissed her ear, and she tightened her arms around him.
Her hips, he noted, were still bucking against his at odd
intervals. The inner clenching sent shivers though him, but
he softened and slipped out of her all the same. She
twitched and murmured something into his shoulder.

"More?" he breathed, reaching down to stroke her lightly.
She buried her hot face in his neck and nodded, already
pushing against his fingers. He let her set the easy pace.
His need assuaged, this time he could pay attention -- feel
the edges of her teeth against his shoulder, hear the hitches
in her breathing. He urged her on with whispered words, the
damp threads of her hair tickling his lips. She came with a
quick yelp and a long, shuddering sigh.

Afterward, they drifted in a pile of heavy limbs and lazy
kisses. Through sleepy eyes, he noted the grainy shadows
dancing on the ceiling, and he chuffed against the fragrant
hollow of her throat.

"What?" she murmured.

"We left the TV on," he explained, amused.

She kissed the back of his neck.   "So turn it off," she said.

So he did.

XxXxX

Sheriff Lydell, as Mulder and Scully discovered, was actually
the county sheriff and worked out of the neighboring town of
Kirby. The six inches of snow had been cleared overnight, so
Scully had no problems on the roads. Even the cows were out,
twitching their tails at the side of the road as they rooted
around under the snow for something to eat. At the Kirby
town border, they passed a small sign that read "Ohio Is For
Lovers." Scully smiled. She kept her eyes focused straight
ahead, but when she stretched her hand across the seat, she
found Mulder's fingers there, waiting.

They parked outside the gray concrete building where Sheriff
Lydell's office was located. He greeted them inside with hot
coffee and a pair of old leather chairs on rickety wheels.
"Sit, sit," he insisted. "I'm glad you were able to make it
despite the storm."

Not the usual phenotype for a small-town Sheriff, Scully
thought as they sat. Pete Lydell was perhaps four inches
taller than she was, with thinning hair, wire-rimmed glasses
and a caterpillar moustache. He chewed it for a moment
before launching into his explanation of why he had contacted
them.

"Susan was the first murder I investigated," he said,
clearing his throat. "So far, Dee-Ann has been the only
other one. You can see then why I remembered them. I almost
couldn't believe it when I read your bulletin off the wires
yesterday."

Mulder pulled out the files he'd brought with him. "It does
seem like your two murders here fit the pattern we've seen in
our case. I think it's likely that we're looking for the
same perpetrator."

"Sonofabitch," Lydell murmured.    "After all these years."

"What I need from you is anything not found in these files,"
Mulder said.

Lydell gnawed his upper lip again as he thought. "It was a
long time ago," he said slowly. "And I don't think there's
too much that didn't make it into the files. Susan was just
eighteen years old, you know, and Dee-Ann had a three-year
old daughter at home. We wanted this guy bad, looked at
every angle we could."

"I think the killer probably knew these girls," Mulder said.
"At least casually. And it's possible that he knew them from
the same place. I know they lived in different towns, but
were you able to come up with any connection between the two
of them?"

"See, that's the thing. We looked at that." Lydell shook
his head. "They didn't go to school together, didn't work
together, didn't attend the same church...didn't even have
any mutual friends that we could find."

Mulder frowned, and Scully held out her hand for the files.
"May I see those?" He gave them to her.

"What about the smaller things -- repairmen, hairdressers,
that sort of thing?" Mulder asked.

"Nope." Lydell sighed. "We checked out those folks, too,
and every one of them came back clean."

Scully noticed that both victims had work addresses on
Sycamore Street, and pointed that out to Mulder. "Are these
two places close to one another?" she asked Lydell.

"They're about three blocks apart, yes. Susan was a checker
at Byron's Pharmacy, and Dee-Ann worked part-time at
Lucille's Restaurant."

"Is that near here?" Mulder asked, already getting up from
his chair. Scully rose, too.

"Sure, it's our main shopping area.   Just down the street and
around the corner."

"Then let's start there."

They side-stepped the icy patches on the sidewalk as Lydell
led the way to Sycamore Street. The shoppers were already
out and about, bundled in thick winter coats with their noses
buried in their collars while they hurried from store to
store. Lydell jangled a cow bell as he opened the door to
Byron's Pharmacy. He took off his wide-brimmed sheriff's hat
and approached the young man behind the counter.

"Morning, Steven."

"Hey, Sheriff.   You here for more of those cold pills?"

"No, I'd like to talk to Jerry, if he's around."
Steven nodded to the rear of the store.    "Sure, he's in back
doing the ordering."

Jerry had a large belly and an easy smile. He pumped
Lydell's hand several times before scraping several chairs
across the room so Lydell, Mulder and Scully could sit, too.
"What can I do for you folks today?" he asked, eyeing the
strangers with curiosity.

"It's about Susan, Jerry."

The older man needed no further clarification. "Oh," he
said, the light dimming from his eyes a bit. He shuffled
some papers on his desk. "Is there...is there some new
information?"

"This is Agents Mulder and Scully from the FBI," Lydell
explained. "They think the man who killed Susan may be in
Washington, DC now."

"I see."   His mouth tightened.   "Killing more little girls,
right?"

"Not if we can stop it," Mulder answered gently.    "That's why
we're here."

"Jerry, we need to know who else worked here at the time
Susan did," Lydell said.

The other man's eyes widened. "You think it was one of my
people? No way anyone I knew could have hurt that sweet
little girl."

"Probably not," Lydell soothed. "But just for the record,
who was working with Susan back then?"

Jerry leaned back in his chair and stroked his chin. "Well,
let's see now. I don't have need for a lot of people. Back
then, it was Susan and Nick Greer and Martha Vilbin." He
frowned. "You can't possibly think Nick had anything to do
with this."

"Nick Greer is one of my deputies now," Lydell told Mulder
and Scully. "I don't think he could be involved. For one
thing, he still lives right here in town. Never been to DC
as far as I know."

"No short-term workers you might have hired around that
time?" Mulder asked.

Jerry shook his head.   "Sorry, no."

"Thanks, Jer," Lydell said as they rose. "You've been a big
help."

"Sure thing." Jerry glanced from Mulder and Scully to the
Sheriff. "You'll let me know if..."

"I promise," Lydell assured him.   "Anything I hear, you'll be
the first to know."

They left the shop, and as they walked down the blocks to
Lucille's restaurant, Lydell said, "Susan was Jerry's niece.
Her death about ripped him apart."

At Lucille's Restaurant, the owner, a man named Bud Lovett,
also vouched for every single one of his employees. Most
still lived right in the area, and he couldn't imagine any of
them hurting poor Dee-Ann Tucker.

Outside on the street, Lydell sighed. "I was afraid it would
turn out this way. We interviewed most of these folks at the
time of the murders, and nothing popped out even then."

"Maybe he didn't work with the women," Mulder replied,
scanning the storefronts. "Maybe he worked near them."

Before Scully could reply, Mulder was stalking across the
street, his open coat flaring in the wind. She followed with
Lydell close on her heels.

"You going to go store by store?" he called, sounding
confused.

"Not necessary," Mulder answered without looking back. "Tell
me -- what kind of shoes were Susan and Dee-Ann wearing when
they disappeared." He came to a sudden stop on the sidewalk.

"Susan had been dressed up for a holiday party," Lydell
answered. "And Dee-Ann was a bridesmaid in her sister's
wedding the day she was killed. So they were both wearing
fancy-type shoes, I would say."

"Exactly," Mulder murmured, tipping his head back to look at
the store sign hanging over their heads. Scully followed his
gaze.

SILLIMAN'S SHOE SHOP

Scully turned around and faced the street. With a chill, she
realized she could see both the pharmacy and the restaurant
from where she was standing.

"You won't have too much luck asking in there now," Lydell
said. "Silliman's changed ownership about six years ago,
when Norma Burnheardt retired."
"Does she still live nearby?" Mulder asked.

"I think she moved to Indiana to be with her kids.   But we
can try to get her on the telephone."

The wind blew then, swinging the wooden sign above their
heads. "The sooner, the better," Mulder said grimly, and
they began the walk back to the office.

It took them a half an hour to track down Norma Burnheardt in
Indiana, but she was friendly and eager to help. They put
her on the Sheriff's speaker phone.

"I'm especially interested in any young men you might have
had working with you in late 1985 or early 1986," Mulder
said. "Perhaps someone who left the area soon after that."

"Oh, sure," she said immediately. "That would be Carl
Quinten. But you can't be looking for Carl. He used to give
lollipops to the kids and spent hours with the ladies,
helping them pick out shoes. He was a quiet boy, a nice
boy."

Scully felt her heart begin to pound. She picked up the
nearest pen and wrote on a piece of paper, "Carl Quinten is
on our list -- paroled recently in DC."

Mulder glanced at the paper and nodded. "Do you know where
Carl went when he moved, Mrs. Burnheardt?"

"He had a cousin in Maryland, I believe."

Just then, Mulder's cell phone rang, and he excused himself
to the other side of the room. Scully kept one eye on his
back as she thanked Norma for her time and hung up the call.
A minute later, Mulder returned.

"Vee lied to you," he said.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that this guy sure seems to think she can ID him.
That was Grenier on the phone. The D.C. cops responded to a
nine-one-one call at the apartment of Jimmy Cho yesterday
night and found him unconscious with the place a mess. This
morning he told them a guy in a Richard Nixon mask did it,
and awfully concerned about Vee."

"Where is she now?"

"No one knows. Her mother put her on a train yesterday
afternoon, but Vee never got off on the other end."

"Jesus," Scully breathed.   "Did you tell him what we found
out here?"

"Yeah, but we're a little too late." His hands fisted, and
he looked away. "They found another body this morning."

XxXxX

End Chapter Nine.   Continued in Chapter Ten.

I don't know if y'all want warm holiday wishes from a woman
who writes about serial killers, but I offer them all the
same. ;-)

Joanne, if you can answer your own question, then you'll have
the whole thing figured out!

Feedback would be lovely. Comments, questions, concerns and
chocolate to syn_tax6@yahoo.com

Holiday wreaths with pine cones and ribbons to my three beta
readers, Alanna, Alicia and Jerry! Thanks for all your help.

				
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