TO DIE UPON A KISS

by Lisa McKenzie

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

Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have immortal longings in me.

--Antony and Cleopatra

A warm breeze rustled the ruffled bottom of her dress, sending flounces of pink and blue ahead of her as she walked the deserted beach. He didn't hear her approach; he stood gazing out at the waves, listening to what they would tell him. She drew nearer and still his dark head made no turn toward her. At the touch of her hand, however, he faced her, his eyes taking in her beauty. He fingered the pink scarf holding her hair from the wind, and with a light tug, the scarf wafted on the breeze until it rested on a retreating wave...

The shrill ring of the hotel room phone jolted Dana Scully from her light doze. She opened her eyes and groaned. Of course it was a dream. You can't even WEAR pink. A quick look around her recalled her circumstances: a long overdue week in Waikiki, far away from the pressure of Washington. Far away she hoped, pursing her lips annoyedly as she reached for the phone. "Hello?"

"Scully. What's up?" came a familiar voice on the other end.

It was hard for Dana to keep the impatience out of her voice. "Mulder...I'm on vacation, remember? No mail, no phone, no business?"

"I knew you missed me," Fox Mulder quipped, grunting as he brought his foot a little closer for clipping his toenails. "I just wanted you to know that I'm holding the fort down. You don't have to worry about anything while you're gone." He winced as he cut his big toe better than he'd intended to.

"I wasn't worried, Mulder. I was so unworried that I was taking a nap. What are those noises in the background?" countered Dana.

Mulder brushed the clippings from his desk. "Nothing--probably a bad connection. See, it's a good thing I called. Now you can really relax."

Dana's patience was gone. "Look, Mulder, I could relax a lot better if I wasn't fielding phone calls from you. Now, is that all? Can I get back to my vacation?"

Mulder wasn't put off. "OK, you can go back for more fun in the sun while we all drown in the rain here. And if it's any consolation to you, my toe is bleeding."

Scully rolled her eyes and sighed. "Good-bye, Mulder. See you in a week." With that, she hung up the receiver.

It had been four years since she had been partnered with Fox Mulder to investigate the cases known within the FBI as the "X-Files," and she hadn't had a decent vacation all during that time. Not that she complained; in fact, she was workaholic enough that the thrill of the bizarre cases she found herself embroiled in kept her adrenaline running most of the time, so she didn't notice a need for rest. Her immediate superior, Assistant Director Skinner, did, however, and the suggestion he made about her taking a few days off wasn't an unwelcome one.

Four different times during her life Dana had made plans to visit Hawaii. The last time had been just after she finished medical school, and she had her tickets in hand, when yet another family crisis had taken precedence and she missed one more plane across the Pacific. This time was sweet, and she savored every moment. The hotel was perfect; quiet yet fronting the beach. Tomorrow she would slather enough suntan lotion on to make a day on the beach bearable despite her fair skin. Tonight, her only plans were to find some good food and relax after the long day of traveling.

The next morning brought a mist of rain that persisted into the afternoon. Dana adjusted her plans accordingly and boarded a bus headed for Pearl Harbor. Her uncle Clifford had been a crewman aboard the U.S.S. Arizona, and along with so many others of his comrades, had met his death on December 7, 1941. She hadn't known him, but her father had never recovered from losing his older brother. Dana keenly felt her duty to view the memorial and attempt to make some connection with her family's past.

By mid-afternoon Dana was ducking in and out of the shops in downtown Honolulu. An elaborate window display lured her into Kam's Jewelry Store, and $200 later, she re-emerged with a pair of diamond solitaire earrings, immensely pleased with her purchase. Her pleasure dissipated in a moment when a dark sedan roared around a corner and nearly sideswiped her on the crosswalk. Dana jumped out of the way in time, but her footing slipped, sending her to the wet pavement between two parked cars. The no-nonsense redhead was fuming when she raised herself to her feet. The sedan screeched to a halt some fifty feet away and Dana, with her right hand scraped from wrist to elbow and the sleeve of her blouse flapping in the wind, stamped angrily toward the parked car.

A tall, dark-haired man vaulted from the driver's side and strode rapidly toward the alley between two store buildings, unaware of her presence. Dana had to trot just to keep pace with the man, but undaunted, she fearlessly rounded the corner of the nearest building into the alley. She stopped up short when she realized that she had happened upon a crime scene. Several yards in front of her, the man she had been pursuing stood talking to what appeared to be two plainclothes officers. Two uniformed officers brushed past her and conferred with the others, then one of the blues glanced in her direction and approached her. "I'm sorry ma'am, this is a crime scene. You'll have to move away."

Remembering herself, she snapped, "That's exactly what I'm not going to do." She flashed Officer Lukela her badge and stepped around him. "Excuse me," Dana said to the blue-suited back in front of her. When there was no response, she repeated her words, louder this time.

The man turned and stared at her. "May I help you?" he asked, visibly annoyed. His blue eyes held Dana's but were inscrutable.

Hanging on to her courage, she said, "You can't help me now, but perhaps you can help someone else in the future by remembering that a car is a lethal weapon. You nearly killed me back there."

His face was blank. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about," he replied, about to turn around again.

"Maybe you don't know, but I do!" Scully said angrily. "If I hadn't jumped out of the way, you'd be filling out an accident report right now. I followed you here; I know it was you."

His eyes narrowed. "Miss...?"

"Scully. Dana Scully," she answered heatedly.

"Miss Scully, who authorized you to be behind the police barricade?" the man more accused than asked.

She held up her badge for him to see. "FBI--impressive, Miss Scully. You're very observant," he acknowledged sarcastically, eyeing her up and down.

"I'm paid to be observant, Mr.--," she said through clenched teeth. It was obvious that she wouldn't get an apology from this Neanderthal.

"McGarrett, Hawaii Five-0," he finished for her. Dana turned on her heels to stalk away. "Miss Scully," he said quietly. She stopped and looked back at him. "Since you're so observant," he said quietly, "why haven't you noticed that you're bleeding?"

Her gaze dropped to her arm, which was indeed dripping blood. She gasped and brought her other hand up under it.

"Doc," McGarrett motioned for the medical examiner. "Do you have something in that bag of yours to fix up this lady? Good." He left Dana with the M.E., Dr. Bergman.

Bergman smiled at her and led her to the open gate of his station wagon. She sat down gingerly and allowed him to cleanse her scrapes. Noting the open expression on his pleasantly weathered face, Dana ventured a question. "Is Mr. McGarrett always so congenial?" she queried.

The doctor chuckled. "No," he answered, "you caught him in a good mood. He's usually worse." He laughed again at her incredulous expression and finished securing her bandage. "But really," he offered, sobering a bit, "he's the best. Absolutely the best cop there is. And a good man." He figured it wouldn't hurt to put in a plug for the chronic bachelor McGarrett. His rugged face creased with another smile. "There, all done," he said, reloading his bag and heading off toward an approaching stretcher.

Seeing the closed body bag, Scully's curiosity was piqued, and she followed the doctor. "Take a look at him, Doc, and tell me what you think," came a voice beside her. McGarrett gripped the stretcher rail, intent upon the doctor's examination. Doc grasped the zipper and pulled, revealing the ashen face of a young man, maybe thirty. The pallor of the skin was unearthly, almost transparent. A deep gash on the left side of the neck gaped from above the victim's shirt collar.

"There must be one hell of a puddle where you found him," said Doc, turning the victim's head to the other side.

"No puddle, Doc," answered McGarrett. All eyes shifted his way. "We figure this wound happened well after the victim died," he explained. "Doc, I want the works on this one, and ASAP."

"May I assist you, Doctor Bergman?" Dana asked. She turned to McGarrett, ready to deflect any objections. "I'm a medical doctor, Mr. McGarrett, and I perform a lot of autopsies for the Bureau. I can assist with the path report," she said.

"You have some interest in this case, Miss, er, Dr. Scully?" McGarrett wanted to know.

She allowed a ghost of a smile on her lips. "Either is fine, and yes, I do have a mild interest in this case. I have seen--circumstances--similar to these before, and I'm interested to hear the doctor's findings."

McGarrett's eyes were enigmatic as he regarded her. "All right," he relented. "Give Doc all the help you can, and I want both your reports yesterday." With that, the head of Hawaii Five-0 spun and barreled back to his car. Dana climbed in the front seat of the station wagon with the doctor and headed to the morgue.

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

It was nine p.m. by the time that Dana and the doctor arrived at the Iolani Palace to make their report to Five-0. The doctor, long familiar with the workings of Hawaii's state police unit, strode into the Five-0 offices, pausing at McGarrett's door just long enough to give a perfunctory knock and then enter. Dana followed carrying the typewritten coroner's report.

McGarrett indicated two white leather chairs and all took their seats. McGarrett didn't waste any time with small talk. "Well, Doc? What have we got?"

The doctor exchanged looks with Scully, then launched into his findings. "To sum up," he finished, "the wound to the neck was the fatal wound. All contusions on the body would indicate a struggle, but it wasn't much of one. There isn't an indication of even a punch. But that's not the weirdest point about this case," he said.

"I'm all ears, Doc," returned McGarrett, "hit me."

"The fatal wound was caused by teeth--human teeth, and the victim was exsanguinated," Bergman deadpanned, waiting for a response.

It took a few moments for the information to sink in. "What?" asked McGarrett in disbelief.

"Sounds like we've got a Bela Lugosi wannabe," said a voice from the doorway. Dan Williams, the second in command at Five-0, walked into McGarrett's office easily and perched on the edge of the desk. His eyes fell on Dana.

"Miss Scully, this is Dan Williams, one of our officers," introduced McGarrett. To Williams he said, "Miss Scully is a member of the FBI, Danno, vacationing here with us. She happened to stumble upon this case, or I should say, a near-vehicular homicide propelled her to the crime scene." There was mirth in McGarrett's eyes although his face bore little expression. Dana smiled in acknowledgment of the unspoken apology, and noted that he had obviously had her checked out.

Shifting gears, McGarrett asked, "What else, Doc? Is that it?"

"Just one more thing, Steve, and you're not going to like it. This will have to be confirmed by Che, but I believe that the body was not moved from the murder site. There's no puddle to find. Sorry," Doc finished.

"Could the blood have been removed somehow--withdrawn from the body and put somewhere else? Satanic cult--animist cult?" McGarrett mused aloud.

"Sorry again, Steve, but I don't believe that is possible," quipped Che Fong, joining the assembled group in McGarrett's office. "To remove the quantity of blood that we're talking about would be difficult enough, but to do it without any spillage would be downright impossible. There wasn't so much as a drop found on the victim's clothing or at the murder scene, save for the ounce or so found directly under the wound." He handed photos of the murder scene to McGarrett. "Basically, there's nothing to see excepting the victim's body. And matter under the victim's fingernails indicates that the victim flailed during his struggle and held onto a nearby open garbage can. We found the can and the mangled banana peel." His wry expression was answered with a grin from Williams.

McGarrett sat down heavily in his chair. "Where's a pissed-off Pele when we need her?" he muttered, shaking his head. "There are no such things as monsters, gentlemen; you know it, and I know it. Someone has committed a murder, pure and simple. The circumstances may look a little strange, but you can bet that was the murderer's intent, whether to make some far-out statement about himself or to frighten others. Whatever the answers are, we'll find them and they'll make sense in the end. Excuse me," he said testily, getting up and turning to the lanai.

Dana followed him out onto the balcony. "Mr. McGarrett," she began. "You may be right about this being a straightforward murder case, but," she hesitated a moment under his glare, "there could also be other--answers. I know this isn't easy to consider, but there are facts in this case that can't be dismissed, no matter what our own beliefs are--"

He interrupted her. "My own beliefs don't enter into it, Miss Scully. I deal in facts, pure and simple. And one fact is that there isn't a bogeyman and there aren't any vampires. That's fodder for drive-in movies and bad novels, not the real world. Oh, I admit that there are some disturbing circumstances to this case, but in the end, we'll solve it with old-fashioned detective work, not wooden stakes and garlic. Uh uh," he emphatically shook his head.

"You're a scientist, Mr. McGarrett, a criminal scientist. I want you to know that I respect that. I'm also a scientist. We've both been trained to use our senses and our knowledge to make judgments and decisions concerning the cases we are working on. But when the facts overwhelm by their bizarre nature, sometimes another point of view or two can help shed light on what was previously hidden." Dana's voice was quiet but forceful. "The skin around the edge of the wound showed signs of having been traumatized, consistent with a strong suction. And there was a significant amount of human saliva within the wound itself." The headlights along King Street snaked past the Iolani, unseen by Dana or the sullen McGarrett. Scully turned to face him. "I agree with you that it will be detective work that solves this case, but we need to be prepared to face whatever that detective work reveals." She waited for a response, but he continued staring across the darkened palace lawn. She took another breath and asked, "Will you let me stay and help on the case?"

McGarrett sighed and leaned against the balcony railing. "Sure." His voice was almost a whisper. "We can always use another opinion." He eyed her, waiting for her reaction. "Want to use the phone here to call him?"

Dana was grateful for the darkness, although she saw no reason for her face to burn like it did. "Fox Mulder is my partner, a brilliant mind--he has a feel for this kind of case," she finished lamely.

"Spooky, right?" McGarrett shot back, his eyes holding hers. She understood his challenge; it wasn't the first time that a local law enforcement official would chafe at the idea of having outside help in what appeared to be a provincial problem. She also understood this unstated warning not to underestimate Steve McGarrett.

"He earned that nickname by investigating the cases that nobody else wanted. If he hadn't cared so much to find answers, he would've been a star at the Bureau. Instead, he kept his basement office and his integrity," Dana said hotly.

"Touché, Dr. Scully," replied McGarrett, unfolding his arms and turning back toward his office. The interview was over.

"Mr. McGarrett." He paused to glance back at her. "I'm not fencing with you. We're both on the same side--the good guys," she said. His gaze told her that he accepted the proffered olive branch.

Scully followed McGarrett back into the office and handed the autopsy report to Dr. Bergman, who then left with little ado. Dan Williams smiled at her, saying, "Welcome to the team."

"Thanks," Dana replied, more than a little uncertain of how to proceed. Back in her hotel room, she quickly dialed a number that she knew even in her sleep. The phone on the other line rang four times before there was an answer. "Mulder? It's me. Listen, do you think you could get out here?"

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

"You know, I've never looked at those little blue lights on either side of the runway the same way after I first read Dracula. I always hope the landing gear will take out some of those disembodied evil spirits every time the plane lands," said Fox Mulder, stretching languidly on Scully's bed.

Dana swallowed a mouthful of Mongolian beef with difficulty and chased it with a drink of water. "Mulder," she sputtered, "I've been telling them that you're not really weird, you just act like it. Don't prove me wrong."

"It's the MSG," he countered.

"What?" asked Scully.

"The MSG. It's making you choke because your throat is swelling up. You're allergic to it," he answered mildly as he cracked open a third fortune cookie.

Dana sighed. "The only thing I'm allergic to is screwing up in front of hostile locals. Just try to be on good behavior. McGarrett isn't a fool; he'll toss us both off this case if we do something stupid." She watched Mulder open a fourth cookie. "Find what you were looking for?" she asked sarcastically.

"Yeah--'You will find fame and good fortune in a most unlikely place.' That's gotta mean that I won't always drive a Pinto," he quipped, grinning.

Scully looked at her watch and rose to her feet. "Time for you to meet McGarrett," she announced. "He won't like it if we're late."

"What's he like, Scully? All bark? All bite? An intriguing gelling of both?" Mulder probed, straightening his tie.

"I think you'll find him--dedicated, smart, no-nonsense, serious about his work, and diligent," she answered, blushing somewhat.

"That good-looking?" Mulder's rapier had found its mark, but Scully recovered nicely, tossing the rental car keys at him. "You get to drive," she smiled.

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

"So we've got a male victim, thirty to forty years old, with a fatal wound to the neck and without a drop of blood in his body. Somebody talk some sense to me," McGarrett said wearily, leaning back in his chair and loosening his tie. The introduction with Mulder had gone smoothly enough, and both agents met the rest of the Five-0 crew, Kono and Chin Ho Kelly.

Chin Ho pulled out a small notebook and filled in some missing facts. "Victim, Ronald Crouse. Sometime construction worker, sometime grounds maintenance. Lately unemployed. Living in a rented room on Hinano Street after his bank foreclosed on his house. Not much in the way of friends, seemed to keep to himself mostly. Landlady says he began taking long walks at night--insomnia."

"Great," interjected Danny. "That only opens him up to every man, woman and child on the island."

"Has the lab come back with the results on his shoes?" asked Mulder, looking up from the file he was studying. McGarrett glanced at him sharply but said nothing, taking little pains to hide his suspicion.

"Not yet," replied Kono. "Che said he'd try to have it by noon."

McGarrett tossed the pencil he'd been toying with onto his desk. "We'll have to start at the beginning, gentlemen--" he stopped short, remembering Scully. "And lady. I want that street covered, all the neighbors. Chin, you and Kono start working that angle. Danno, take Agent Mulder here and visit the landlady again--really pump her. You can bet that if she's his landlady, then she knows a hell of a lot more than she's saying. Dr. Scully, if you would come with me, we'll pay a visit to the lab."

Mulder caught Dana's eye as he headed for the door, one corner of his mouth turned up. She turned away to keep him from seeing the blush creep up her neck, and met McGarrett's penetrating gaze. His eyes held hers for a moment, then said, "Shall we go, Doctor?" Unsettled, Dana gave a brief nod and passed through the door.

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

In the lab Crouse's clothing and personal items were scattered and being examined by Che Fong and his assistants. "Not much yet, Steve, but I can tell you that shortly before his death, he had been tromping around in a garden. The soil is a sandy loam, common, and has been freshly fertilized. It had been rotovated to about four inches deep; Crouse's shoes sank into it nearly up to his socks. And look at this," he handed the right shoe to McGarrett.

"A white residue, all along the length of the outer side. Fertilizer?" he suggested.

"Right, Steve. Again, common garden use. But for as carefully as the soil tilled, the fertilizer, at least in one spot, wasn't worked in. It looks like it was a fairly large pocket of it," observed Che.

McGarrett pursed his lips. "That doesn't narrow it down much, does it?"

"Mr. McGarrett," began Scully, "I might be able to help with that." She had his undivided attention, and continued. "The victim's right hand had some minor lacerating that was fairly recent, I'd say within an hour or two of his death. I thought last night that maybe he'd run into a barbed wire fence, but now I think he could have been in a rose garden."

"No physical evidence in the cuts?" he wanted to know. She shook her head.

"It's a longshot. And even if you're right, do you know how many rose gardens there are on this rock?" He didn't wait for an answer; instead, he wheeled and strode out of the lab. Scully grabbed her purse to go and then McGarrett poked his head around the corner of the doorway. "Coming?" She hurried to his side, and he resumed walking. "Another thing, Doctor Scully. Don't you think it's time you called me 'Steve'?"

"On one condition," Scully answered, smiling. McGarrett raised his eyebrows, waiting. "Drop the 'doctor'--it's either Dana or Scully, OK?"

"Whatever you say, Doctor," he responded, his eyes sparkling. "Cup of coffee?"

Her witty reply was interrupted by the ringing of the phone in his office. McGarrett bounded to the desk to answer it. "McGarrett. Yeah, Danno." A pause ensued, then, "We'll be right there." He grabbed Dana by the arm and propelled her out of the office again. "I'll have to threaten you with my coffee later," he explained. "They've found another body. Same M.O."

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

"This one looks in better shape," observed Dan Williams, bending over the body. "She's got some color to her."

"That's because she's still got some blood left in her. Look at the inside of her eyelids." Mulder turned the victim's head in Williams' direction for emphasis. Both men stood up when McGarrett's Mercury screeched to a halt.

McGarrett left his door open and loped lightly to the knot of policemen ringing the body of the second victim. "All right--what have we got?"

"Female, about twenty. She's mainlining, Steve; the tracks are all over her. Same gash in the neck, but she's different. Not nearly so pale as Crouse. Mulder thinks she wasn't--drained," Williams finished somewhat sheepishly. He and McGarrett exchanged looks, then the head of Five-0 knelt down to examine the body.

"She doesn't look fifteen--just a baby," he said, almost to himself. Glancing around, he noticed the excessive amount of blood visible on the pavement. "She bled to death?"

"Looks that way, Steve. But if we're talking about the same killer, why would he go to the trouble to make the first murder look like vampirism, and then the second like a botched job?" Chin Ho asked.

Mulder had been staring at the blood-streaked sidewalk, lost in thought until he heard Kelly's comment. "Maybe that's what this one was. He could have had a scare, been interrupted," he postulated.

"And then he left her to die." Scully finished Mulder's thought for him. "That's even more brutal. What a terrifying way to die."

"Any method of dying has its drawback," an amused Mulder quipped.

"I think what we're missing here is a grip on reality. You're all assuming that the vampire angle is the right one. There's not--"

Mulder was quick to cut off McGarrett. "Mr. McGarrett, whether or not this killer actually is a vampire isn't the question. Whoever he is, he knows that we've found his victims, and he knows what we suspect him of. He may want us to. In any case, we'll have to take him at his word, so to speak, and treat him like he is a vampire, because if he's aping one in his method of killing, he's probably warped enough to ape one in other areas, too. He may actually believe himself to be vampiric."

Scully jumped in: "There are mental hospitals full of people who are delusional, and you'd be surprised the number of them that have fixated on vampirism. They really believe that they are vampires and exhibit classic vampire behavior: sleeping during the day, avoiding mirrors, and attempting to dominate others mentally. They'll also go to any lengths to procure a mouse or rat to drain its blood. Just because they aren't vampires doesn't render them any less dangerous," she opined.

"Just less immortal," injected Mulder. Dana glared at him, hoping that he wouldn't play the devil's advocate at this moment.

McGarrett had been listening with mixed emotions. He could vaguely feel that this investigation had the potential of getting out of hand rapidly, but he couldn't argue with either agent. While his cop's instinct told him to approach the case like any other, he was too unwilling to accept the possibility of failure to stick to orthodox methods. "Your point is well-taken, but I'm going to tell you right now that there's a limit. When you cross the line from fact into fiction, I'm going to cut you off from this investigation," he said testily, eyeing Mulder to see if his shaft went home. "OK, let's get her to the morgue."

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

Dana swallowed her last mouthful of lukewarm coffee and grimaced. The other members of the Five-0 team swilled theirs seemingly oblivious to the taste or temperature, but a choked sound from behind her told her that Mulder wasn't. They were all mulling over the results from the lab on the second murder victim, Kelly Forrester. Clearly, she had died a horrifying death. The anguished expression on her face left little doubt that she knew what was happening when she met her end, and the crime scene was one of the more disturbing ones that Scully had witnessed. Still, the question remained of why this murder hadn't ended the way the first one had.

"Any bright ideas?" McGarrett asked, still flipping through the pages of the lab report.

"Seems obvious, Steve--whoever he is, he was interrupted before he could finish what he was doing," Dan Williams replied, not much liking the implication.

"What about the neighbors of the first victim? What did you get there?" McGarrett asked Chin.

"Only eight neighbors on that end of the street. We talked to seven of them, one didn't come to the door, presumably gone. They seem to check out, Steve--all clean, no records except for a traffic violation or two. They all seem--" he stopped short.

"Normal?" McGarrett finished for him. "OK, what about the landlady? Any thing juicy from her?"

"She was quite an admirer of Crouse's," Williams reported. "She knew every move he made, but that didn't tell us much."

"An admirer of an unemployed construction worker? That's a new one," McGarrett snorted under his breath.

"Oh, this was one construction guy who used his spare time well. He was posing for the student artists at the Institute," offered Mulder. "She really got a charge out of that."

"Think they'd take cops?" Kono wondered.

"Not one like you, Kono," answered McGarrett, and laughter broke the building tension in the room. Dana was struck with how pleasant his face was when he smiled. "Danno, run down all the students and instructors connected with Crouse at the Institute and check them out. Chin, we'll take the address of that last neighbor and pay him a visit. Excuse me," he said, picking up the buzzing phone.

Mulder took the opportunity to confer with Scully. "Why do you think the killer stopped draining her blood, Scully?" he wanted to know.

"Mulder, for all we know, it could be exactly why Danny said," she countered.

"You don't believe that and neither do I," Mulder pronounced confidently.

"All right, tell me what I believe," said Dana, a little irritated.

"He stopped because she didn't taste good."

Dana made a strangled sound and turned from the general view. "What?" she asked, incredulous.

"You saw the path report. She was full of dope, all through her bloodstream." Mulder leaned closer so that he wouldn't be overheard. "Scully, this guy isn't playing; this guy isn't just grabbing what he can get, either. He's a connoisseur. He likes his steaks medium rare, his wines old, and his rum cake en flambe. And he likes his blood pure. He's for real, and until these people wake up to that fact, they're going to be forever two steps behind him, picking up bodies as he goes."

His words chilled Scully and she searched in vain for something to say to refute him. McGarrett finished his phone call, and with a "let's go", he headed for the door. She glanced back at Mulder, but said nothing, and hurried on after the retreating figure of Steve McGarrett.

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

Hinano Street was a typical upper middle class neighborhood replete with all the usual signs of late evening domestic life out front, but the east end differed significantly on account of its expansive view of the ocean. Scully double-checked the index card containing the address of the one unseen neighbor of Crouse and pointed to a one story Spanish-style stucco home. "That's the one--319."

She and McGarrett got out of the car and made for the front door, automatically taking in the details of the immaculate yard. Hanging pots of dark-eyed fuchsias and tuberous begonias formed a riot of color against the white front of the house. Double-tufted petunias lined the walkway; in fact, flowers were jammed into every conceivable space, giving the house a cheerful and welcoming visage. McGarrett and Dana exchanged looks. "When does the parade begin?" he asked facetiously, ringing the doorbell.

The door opened slowly, with a female voice chiding a pet. "Oops," Dana moved her foot to block the exit of a determined tomcat, and the woman was able to steer him away from the door. "He's a handful, isn't he?" Dana asked pleasantly.

The woman smiled and nodded. McGarrett made the necessary introductions and explained why they were there. The woman, housekeeper for the homeowner, asked them to step into the sala while she notified her boss. The last waning rays of the sun cast a pinkish glow to the many-windowed room, filled with a cozy mixture of warm colors and favorite things. "Mr. Reyes will see you downstairs in his studio," the housekeeper informed them, then led the way down a wrought iron circular staircase that opened into one large room.

The room itself was impressive, with an abundance of lighting, much of it recessed. Along the walls hung paintings, mainly abstacts, and several were stacked against one wall, awaiting hanging. It took them a few moments to see Reyes, as he was bent over his work in a nook nearly hidden to them. He laid down his charcoal pencil, removed his bifocals and approached the two visitors.

"Mr. McGarrett, Dr. Scully, I'm pleased to meet your acquaintance, and to welcome you to my home. May it be as the old Spanish welcome says, my house is your house," he said smoothly, shaking McGarrett's hand, and bowing over Dana's. His words were quaint and faintly accented, but his delivery understated and sincere. He was an older man, in his sixties; his hair had grayed and receded somewhat, but his face was still handsome, and his eyes were arresting. He smiled easily and laughed heartily as they chatted lightly together.

"The reason we came here, Mr. Reyes, is that we're investigating the death of one of your neighbors, Ronald Crouse. We were hoping that perhaps you could tell us something about him that could shed some light on the case," McGarrett stated.

"Ah, yes," Reyes murmured, indicating that they all take a seat in a cluster of overstuffed chairs. He perched on the edge of loveseat and faced Scully, who was directly across from him. "I heard about his death from Mrs. Marshall this morning as she was taking her boys to school. It's dreadful."

"Did you know Mr. Crouse personally?" Dana asked him, studying his face.

"I knew him only slightly. He used to jog in the early morning, and I would often see him when I was out of doors, tending to my flowers. We exchanged greetings, but he never stopped. I'm afraid that is all I can tell you," he said, his eyes earnest and languid.

Scully realized that she was staring and looked away. Reaching for something to say to hide her discomfort, she commented, "You are quite a prolific painter, I see. May I look at them?"

"By all means, Doctor. I am curious to hear what you think of them." Reyes rose as she passed him. Giving McGarrett his attention, he asked, "May I offer you something to drink? An aperitif, or some iced sangria?"

"No, no thank you," responded McGarrett, not quite satisfied with the answers to his questions. "Just one more thing--how long have you lived in this neighborhood?"

Reyes smiled, his eyes registering understanding. McGarrett suddenly felt caught but fought to betray nothing outwardly. "I have called this beautiful house my home for a year and a half, as you will find when you--check me out? Is that the expression?" Reyes smiled again, and his eyes were daggers, but only for a moment. He turned to Dana who was examining a sofa-size painting. The dominant blues, grays and black in it were oddly soothing, but she had noticed something else among the darkness: the figure of a man, crawling, climbing, away from something, and toward something unseen. She was fascinated by it, and Reyes took note of it.

"Well, Dr. Scully, what do you think of my scratchings?" he asked softly, startling her.

"They have so much to them--they really are remarkable," she said with enthusiasm. Seeing McGarrett's expression, she added, "But we've imposed on your hospitality long enough, Mr. Reyes. We must go."

He accompanied them upstairs and showed them the door. "If you wish to see more of my work, Dana, I have a showing currently at the Honolulu Art Gallery. My better work is there." He bowed again, and closed the door.

"He shoveled it on a bit thick," McGarrett commented as they walked back to his car. "There's something about him I don't quite like. I can't put my finger on it yet, but I will."

"I know what you mean," Scully agreed, wondering inwardly how Reyes had known what her first name was.

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

The hotdog stand was packed with hungry beachgoers even after dark, so Chin had to wait before he could buy dinner for the Five-0 team. By the time he arrived back at the Iolani, he was met with a chorus of grumbling. He tossed each person his coneydog with more than a little force, depending on the amount of abuse he'd had to take. It was McGarrett's presence that kept the exercise in camaraderie from degenerating into a food fight. Coffee, coneydogs and greasy fries kept conversation to a minimum at first, and then discussion about the case began slowly.

"Has Interpol gotten back with us on Reyes yet?" McGarrett asked, wiping his fingers on too small of a napkin.

Danny shook his head. "Not yet, Steve. We expect it any minute."

"What about the girl?"

"Dead end there, too," Kono replied. "The best we could get from the friends she lived with was that she was strung out, just wandering around. They didn't think anything of it. Guess it's common behavior in a commune."

"How'd it go with Reyes? What was he like?" Chin wanted to know.

"Ask Dana--she did most of the talking," answered McGarrett, with mischief in his eyes.

Dana suddenly had the attention of everyone else in the room. "I...I found him to be pleasant, gentlemanly, talented, and--disturbing," she sputtered.

"You rolled over for him," accused Mulder.

"I admired his paintings, that's all. And he's old enough to be my father," Scully defended.

Mulder and Williams, fast becoming friends, exchanged glances. "She rolled over for him," they said in unison, and everyone chuckled except Dana.

"When you're finished pulling my pigtails, can we continue discussing the case? Or is that too much of a stretch?" she asked sarcastically. Mulder gave her a peace sign and concentrated on his fries again. "As Steve can attest to, there is something odd about Reyes, but it isn't anything I can put into words. It's like--he has the upper hand, and he knows it. It's a sense of knowledge that he has. It's very peculiar," she said.

"I'll vouch for that. He's hiding something and he thinks we won't find out. He's underestimating two things: our ability, and our patience. But we will find out," promised McGarrett, as much to himself as to the others.

The evening was waxing late as Dana and Mulder left the palace to return to their hotel. "Tired?" Mulder asked.

"Yes, but I'm sure that wasn't what you wanted me to say," a suspicious Scully answered.

Mulder grinned. "I thought we might take in an art show," he said. "I saw that there was a late night champagne showing over at the Honolulu Art Gallery, open 'til midnight. You're always complaining that I never take you anywhere," he teased.

"Mulder, I don't think Steve is going to like it when he finds out that we've been investigating aspects of this case on our own," doubted Scully.

"Oh, it's Steve now?" Mulder said in mock surprise.

Dana rolled her eyes. "Be serious, Mulder. We could get kicked off this case so fast that our heads will spin."

"Look, all we're doing is expanding our appreciation for the finer things. This is vacation, isn't it? I promise I'll behave."

"I guess it won't really hurt," Scully relented, as Mulder made a U-turn and roared down King Street back toward downtown.

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

The Honolulu Art Gallery was an unpretentious building from the outside, it having been a furniture store many years previously. There were two exhibitions running simultaneously, the Reyes show and the Royal Gardiner show. The latter was a well-known artist on the mainland, specializing in tropical themes, and his use of bold, bright colors contrasted sharply with the more forboding Reyes works.

Mulder paused in front of a Gardiner work entitled, "Tahiti Storm". "Haven't I seen this on a billboard somewhere?" he wondered aloud.

"You've seen it on three, and they're all in Arlington advertising orange juice," Scully returned.

"Yet another voice of the people silenced by prostituting his soul to the almighty dollar," Mulder commented wryly.

"Mulder, you're a philosopher," said Scully, eyebrows raised.

"Nah--I'm just jealous," he quipped, moving on to the next picture. Scully smiled and followed. A voice from behind her called her back.

"Dr. Scully, what a pleasant surprise," Esteban Reyes greeted her. "I thought that you were merely being polite this afternoon." He smiled easily, looking impeccable in a double-breasted navy blazer and gray slacks.

"I'm never that polite, Senor Reyes," Dana answered him, her color heightened. Mulder watched them with interest. They chatted briefly about the exhibition, then Reyes offered his arm, and led her to his own collection. Mulder stifled an "oh, brother", and followed on.

As he interpreted a predominantly green painting, Dana took in more than his words. The man himself was impressionistic, carrying a mood with him through his words, actions and looks. In the brightly lit gallery he appeared older than he had in his home, but his eyes still demanded full attention. Dana found herself completely absorbed in the mood he was weaving as he spoke of the limits of time and space, absorbed like she had never been with another man.

The spell was broken when Mulder injected, "It's past midnight, Scully. We should probably get back to the hotel."

Dana heard him but was reluctant to tear her eyes from the gaze of Reyes. It was he who broke their gaze and looked at Mulder, seeing him for the first time. He made no effort to hide the hostility in his expression. Dana recovered herself hastily and introduced Mulder; they said their goodbyes and retreated to the car.

Mulder stared at Scully as she snapped on her seat belt, but said nothing. Either Scully's professed aversion to a May-December relationship had melted away, or Reyes possessed some other power to dominate besides love. He spent the better part of that night mulling over the implications of what that power might be.

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

The cool night air penetrated Scully's blouse and forced a shiver. She stood hugging herself, staring down at the body of a teenage boy, victim number three. The flashing lights from four patrol cars gave a surreal effect to the crime scene, but the telltale signs were unmistakable. The gash in the neck was smaller, neater, but the ghastly pallor of the victim's skin told the same story as that of the first victim. He had been killed in the same way, and very likely for the same reason.

Steve McGarrett gave directions to a group of uniformed patrolmen, then accosted Dana. "What do you think?" he asked grimly.

She sighed, pointing to the boy's jacket. "I think this one put up a fight. His jacket is ripped from top to bottom. It took some strength to do that."

"Boss?" Kono approached McGarrett carrying a dark piece of clothing. "It's the other half of the jacket. Must have been ripped off and left over here," he explained, indicating a row of garbage cans. "There wasn't any sign of struggle there, so we almost missed the jacket."

Mulder joined them. "That's at least twenty-five yards away from any indications of struggle. Why would he throw it there?" he asked.

"Throw it? What makes you think the murderer threw it?" McGarrett demanded.

"Because it doesn't make sense that he would rip the jacket and then simply walk over there and place it on one of the garbage cans. Why not hide it? And it landed like it was thrown." Mulder's nerves were taut; he smelled the truth coming on strong.

Kono was rifling through the three jacket pockets. "Here, Boss; that's all there is." He handed McGarrett a black beaded rosary and a pocket-sized companion booklet.

McGarrett examined the rosary and looked at Scully questioningly. "Of course, it's First Friday. Many parishes hold a First Friday devotion on the first Friday of every month. It usually begins around seven p.m. and ends around midnight. The rosary figures prominently in the devotion," she said.

"And that's why he winged that half of the jacket," shot Mulder, his mind working at light speed. "I've kept quiet up to now, but can't you see what's at work here? Get that body examined and tell me, truthfully, if a human being is capable of doing that. Give it your honest cop appraisal and tell me."

McGarrett's face clouded and he opened his mouth to speak, but Scully cut in. "Maybe we should wait for the autopsy," she suggested.

"While you're all waiting to find out what the victim had for dinner, I'm going to do some police work," growled Mulder in frustration.

"Wait a minute, Mister--not on my beat," retorted McGarrett angrily. "It's against my better judgment not to kick you off this case right here and now."

Mulder whirled and faced him. "Doesn't it interest you that the Art Gallery is within three blocks of this alley?"

"It interests me, pal, but interest doesn't build a case. Facts do. If we don't have the facts, then we can't convict, and barreling off half-cocked isn't the way to gather facts."

Mulder threw up his hands with a humorless laugh. "You actually think that this case will go to court?" He was incredulous. "If, and that's a big if, Reyes allowed you to drag him to court, it would only be if he was certain that you didn't have a snowball's chance in hell to get him convicted. Then he walks and you'll never get him on these murders. But he'll never risk a trial. He doesn't want exposure. The first time the "v" word is bandied around him, he's done for and he'll have to move on." He moved closer, the passion rising in his voice. "He has to be stopped. Calling him a vampire, or accusing him of tendencies that way is the sure way of getting him to leave this island and start his murdering somewhere else. He has to be stopped." Mulder let his words sink in.

McGarrett stood there, suddenly weary and faintly sick to his stomach. What he had feared the most was now coming into play in his murder investigation--the unknown. He refused to believe it. He had a responsibility not to let whims and delusions color this case, but he also couldn't allow his own personal bias to deter him from seeing the facts clearly, even though, as Dana had put it, he might not like the path they were leading him down. What he was not going to do, however, was allow the bias of someone else jeopardize this investigation. The autopsy was key. He glared at Mulder through narrowed eyes. "One mistake, one complaint, and you're off. Understood?"

Mulder gave a short nod and trotted to his car. "Kono, go with him." McGarrett watched him go, then snapped, "Let's get that autopsy!"

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

Information was coming fast and hard by eight that morning. Interpol had come through with a file practically empty, only pictures and driver's licenses from Spain and Trieste. However, a string of eight unsolved murders in different parts of Spain occurred during the time Reyes had lived there.

"Been a real choir boy, huh?" muttered McGarrett, studying the file. Kono and Mulder walked in, each carrying a cup of coffee. "What have you got?" McGarrett fired.

"Not much, Boss. The art exhibition broke up just after midnight. A lot of people stayed on, sucking up the brew, but a lot of people left. No one was clear on when Reyes finally left. The shape they were in, they weren't really clear about anything. We went to his house and watched it for a while. There were lights on when we got there, and they didn't turn off until dawn," reported Kono.

McGarrett sat down behind his desk and stretched, only to bound back to his feet at the entrance of Dr. Bergman and Scully. "Talk to me, people," he said eagerly.

"Cause of death, rupture of the heart, and then exsanguination. This one was weird, Steve. The depth of bruising showed exactly what happened. The boy was caught around the middle with one arm, and that arm crushed every rib in his body, puncturing his heart. Then the body was emptied of its blood," finished Bergman. "Needless to say, the strength in that arm that crushed the him is nothing like I've seen before."

The silence in the office was deafening. "Thanks, Doc," McGarrett mumbled.

"He's elevated it to an art form," observed Mulder. "And he'll do it again."

Steve McGarrett wasn't the kind of man who would be hurried. He was deliberate and methodical, but he could run with a hunch, too. He took one last look at the autopsy report and crossed his own mental Rubicon. "Danno, why don't you find out if our Mr. Reyes likes roses?" To Mulder and Scully he asked, "All right, going by your theory, what are your ideas?"

Mulder gave a brief summary on what he believed Esteban Reyes to be, citing the similarities between him and classic vampire behavior. "I'm almost afraid to ask you where this knowledge of vampires comes from," said McGarrett warily.

"Then don't ask, because you don't want to know. There hasn't been a hell of a lot written in scientific circles about the phenomenon," responded Mulder.

"Gentlemen, you realize that the only evidence we have on Reyes is purely circumstantial? And even that is shaky at best," mused McGarrett. "We can't go storming his house brandishing wooden stakes on little better than a hunch."

"But we do know one thing," argued Mulder. "He's not luring people into his house for feeding, and you can bet that it's deliberate. In other words, he's eating out."

Scully groaned and Mulder smirked. "She's my biggest fan," he said proudly.

McGarrett shook his head. "I still can't believe that I'm having this conversation." He sighed heavily. "All right, so we watch him. What then?"

"If he's going to work his plan, then he has to come outside of his house to feed. With us watching him, he's bound to make a mistake," Mulder said confidently.

"OK, I'll buy that. You two go--dare I say it--stake out his house," said McGarrett with a ghost of a smile.

Watching Scully and Mulder leave, Kono stepped closer to McGarrett. "Boss, is this for real? Are we really chasing vampires?" he wanted to know.

McGarrett put his hand on Kono's back. "Kono, I'm a rational man. So are you. But let me ask you this--when you're camped out on the beach at night and you hear the a'a being trampled by hundreds of feet and see torchlight coming your way, what do you do?"

It didn't take Kono long to answer. "I get naked really fast and play dead."

"Exactly, Kono. But in the light of day, do you believe in the Night Marchers?"

"Nah. Not a chance."

"Me neither, Kono. Me neither."

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

"Quit making faces. All cops eat this stuff," said Mulder, stuffing a powdered donut into his mouth. "It's what keeps their figures so svelte."

"Mulder, don't talk with your mouth full." Dana peered into the paper bag in search of something palatable, sighing. "Now I know why I went to the Bureau--at least a girl can find a bagel there."

The two agents had been sitting in an unmarked police car some three houses down from the Reyes home for nearly four hours, carefully watching the front door. Williams had ascertained that although there was a back door, it led to the back yard, which dropped off abruptly at a cliff. The neighbors siding the Reyes house had six-foot fences bordering their yards stretching out to the cliff with no room for passage, so it was determined that Reyes would have to exit by his front door if he wished to leave.

"Are you sure we're going to see him? I mean, even I've read enough vampire lore to know that they can change shapes. How do we know that he won't become a spider and crawl to his next victim," jibed Scully.

"I'd love to see McGarrett's face when we tell him to put out an all-points on a spider," returned Mulder, and Scully laughed at the mental picture.

"You know, Mulder, you really should try a little harder with him. He's a good cop, and I know it isn't easy for him to have a case like this one in his territory," she offered.

"It doesn't hurt to be tall, dark and handsome, either," Mulder deadpanned. He sat up suddenly. "He's coming out."

The two watched closely as Reyes walked into his yard, carrying a pair of garden shears. He knelt in front of a clump of sea thrift and proceeded to clip off the spent blooms. He moved on to the next clump, then stiffened.

"What's he doing?" whispered Scully.

Reyes stood to his full height and turned slowly around, his eyes panning the street until they lit on the agents' car. His stare was intense and unmoving, zeroing in on Scully. She fought back at the panic that began to rise inside of her. "Mulder, let's get out of here," she said breathlessly.

"What's wrong? He can't hurt us in broad daylight on a public street. He wouldn't dare," Mulder posited.

Dana struggled to keep her breathing under control, then burst out, "I've got to get some air!" She opened the car door, but Mulder leaned past her and shut it quickly.

"You can't go out there, that's what he wants. Scully!" He grabbed her arm and held it fast; with his other hand he felt for the radio mike. "Dispatch, get me McGarrett." He relaxed his grip on her as Dana leaned her head back on the seat, her breathing labored.

"McGarrett here," the radio squawked.

"We need some relief here--something's wrong with Scully," Mulder reported, his voice concerned.

"We're on their way. ETA five minutes."

"Thanks." Mulder hung the mike on its rest and waited. "The son of a bitch," he growled, his eyes locked on Reyes. Reyes broke his gaze from Dana and looked at Mulder, smiling triumphantly. He tossed his garden shears on the wrought iron bench nearest him and strolled into the house.

The change was immediate in Scully. She opened her eyes and could breathe freely, but her color was gone. She leaned away from Mulder, resting her head in her hands. At that moment tires squealed beside the car and McGarrett bolted out of his Mercury and around to Dana's side. She fell against his shoulder when he opened her door. "Dana, are you all right?" he asked anxiously.

"Yes, I'm OK," she replied weakly.

"You're shaking," he observed. "Let's get you out of here." He helped her into his car as Chin and Danno moved to get into the unmarked car. "Mulder, in my office," directed McGarrett. Mulder closed his door just in time to keep from being thrown from the Mercury as McGarrett screeched out of the Reyes neighborhood.

By the time they reached the Iolani Palace, Dana was feeling herself again. In McGarrett's office he waited for his secretary to bring in coffee, then he sprang. "What the hell happened back there?"

Scully took a gulp of her coffee and began, "I was feeling faint, and..."

"It was more than that, Scully, and you know it," contradicted Mulder. He turned to McGarrett. "Vampires have been known to exhibit a dominance on the people they have a special interest in, whether they be potential victims or potential mates. This dominance can be manifested in a physical reaction or a mental confusion. In either case, it can break down the defenses of the person targeted and so aid in whatever plan the vampire has." He looked at Dana. "He's targeted Scully. What happened to her came directly from him, and he knew it. He smiled while it was happening."

McGarrett digested this new twist. "All right, as of right now, you're off the case, Dana," he announced.

"But I can help, Steve. I do have some experience in this type of investigation," she protested.

McGarrett rounded his desk and put his hands on her shoulders. "I'm not willing to risk your life in the pursuit of this case. I won't exchange yours for his." He noted the unhappiness in her eyes and gave her shoulders a squeeze. "You're out of the field, but you can work here, and we need a good mind that can sort out the twisted details of this case." He walked over to the lanai and leaned against a french door. "If he's targeted you, then you'll need all the help you can get. Let us protect you, Dana."

She felt her disappointment keenly, but she also knew the wisdom of McGarrett's words. She nodded and smiled gamely.

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

The Five-0 team kept surveillance on Reyes' house around the clock, but not once did the suspect leave the premises. Morale was not the best by the time Mulder and Scully drove back to their hotel.

"I'll hang some garlic up if it will make you feel better," joked Mulder.

"I'm not the white nightgowned heroine who runs down the stairs and lets the vampire in through the front door," said Scully sarcastically.

"I know, you're more devious than that," quipped Mulder.

"Thanks a lot," she threw back, sliding the key in her lock and opening her door. "I'll make sure he knows which door is yours." She shut her door and locked it. Surveying the room, she tried to shake the mood that had come over her since the incident outside Reyes' house. She realized for the first time that she was genuinely afraid of the man, whether he was a vampire or not. She knew that she didn't dare trust her own judgment around him, and acknowledged that she would indeed be a detriment to the investigation if she fell under his power. If this man wasn't a creature of the night, then he possessed telepathic powers far greater than any she had witnessed. Was she susceptible to this kind of psychological attack, or was his mind that much more finely tuned? She rubbed her neck unconsciously and set about preparing for bed.

She awoke with a start out of a troubled doze, staring wildly around her. The room appeared normal, with the exception of a light mist oozing from the ocean view window. Dana felt his presence despite not seeing him. She wanted to scream, but her rationality told her that she couldn't scream at an empty room, so she waited, terrified. It wasn't until she saw more fog spilling into the room that a memory from her childhood jolted her into action. She threw the covers off, intending to slam the window shut; then she saw him.

As the mist dissipated he became more visible. "Hello, Dana," he said quietly. "We meet again."

"What do you want?" she whispered, despairing in the knowledge that her gun lay across the room in her purse.

"A friendly warning," Reyes answered. "Don't make an enemy of me, my dear. You will find me most formidable."

She pointed at the adjoining door. "Mulder is in there--"

Reyes dismissed her comment with a gentle laugh. "Do you really believe that he could keep me from taking you, right now, if it were my intention?" His eyes softened as they regarded her huddled against the headboard of the bed. "I have no wish to hurt you, Dana. We are...simpatico. We understand one another. What moves you moves me also. I would never willingly destroy that--I have lived long without it."

Dana listened to his rich voice, silky and seductive. She knew that she should scream and alert Mulder, but she made no sound. Part of her rebelled, didn't want to break the spell. I could listen to him forever. I could gaze in his eyes forever. I could... As if reading her thoughts, he advanced slowly toward her. When his hand grasped the blanket over her feet to throw it aside, she finally found her voice. "No! You're a murderer, and I'll do everything I can to stop you! Mulder!" she cried.

She awoke to Mulder shaking her shoulder. "Scully! What's wrong? I thought I heard you scream." She clung to him, weeping silently. "Simpatico...simpatico..." reverberated through her troubled mind.

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

Mulder had switched off her alarm clock, and Dana slept undisturbed until seven thirty the next morning. The night had taken its toll, leaving dark circles and red-rimmed eyes. Mulder noticed but said nothing as they drove to the Iolani Palace from Waikiki; McGarrett also noticed. Not wanting to embarrass her, he kept quiet, but he clenched his jaw tightly in the frustration of being unable to protect someone who was fast becoming special to him.

"I think you'd better sit down, Dana," McGarrett advised, directing her to the white leather couch pushed to the wall of the office. He sat down next to her. "I can't sugarcoat it...there were two more murders early this morning. Two kids, camping on the beach. He butchered them, Dana. If you feel up to it, can you take a look at the coroner's report?"

She stiffened. "Of course I can, Steve. That's what I'm here for." She walked to his desk and grabbed the report file, flipping through the pages. The details were antiseptic on the typewritten pages, but in reality she saw the brutality of the deaths. He had gone on a rampage. Tears filled her eyes and threatened to fall on the pages before her.

McGarrett perched himself on the edge of his desk close to Scully and closed his hand around hers. "What did you say to him last night?" he asked gently.

She turned anguished eyes to his. "I told him 'no'," she said brokenly. She wiped her eyes and settled down in a chair to study the report more carefully.

Dan Williams and Kono soon made an appearance. "No go, Steve," reported Williams. "Just as we thought--no sign of him."

"I filibustered for an hour and a half to get that warrant," grumbled McGarrett. "OK, we've got an APB out on him. And we can't keep the press out of this for much longer. Already they're clamoring about public safety. Any other ideas?"

"He'll have to come home at some point. He has to rest in his native soil, and the logical place for it to be is at his home," Mulder pointed out.

"Believe it or not, we looked for that," said Williams, making a face. "We didn't see anything along that line."

"I would submit that you didn't know what to look for. We have this gothic idea of vampires, but there's no reason to think that they can't change with the times as well as we can. I'll give you a hundred to one that it's there if we only know what to look for," Mulder opined.

"Danno, you and Mulder get back there and look for--anything. While you're at it, bring back some soil samples from that back garden," ordered McGarrett. Seeing his questioning audience, he said, "Roses, my friends. Roses."

Williams grinned and jabbed Mulder on the arm. "Let's go. We've got an elusive something to find."

The morning wore on. Scully delved into the Interpol file that delineated the rash of murders dating at the same time that Reyes lived in Spain. The murders were much like the current string in Honolulu, but were written up differently, as if the investigators refused to consider vampirism as a feasible possibility. Some of the reports didn't even mention the fact that the victims had been exsanguinated, although the other details were identical. Slowly, a web of circumstantial evidence was being woven; perhaps not enough to convict in court, but maybe enough to force the issue with Reyes himself.

A courier from HPD plopped a thick manila envelope on McGarrett's desk and announced, "Fresh from the iron brain." Scully sprang to the desk, eager to see what the local police department had dug out of their files.

"These are reports from all over these islands, mostly rural districts," McGarrett mused aloud.

"Animal deaths. Unexplained animal deaths," read Scully.

"Mutilations?" McGarrett wanted to know.

"Some, yes, but a majority are not," replied Scully, her eyes scanning the pages rapidly.

McGarrett tapped his finger on his desk absently, then put his hand on Dana's arm. "Check the date of the earliest case," he said urgently.

Dana examined the dates carefully, and met McGarrett's eyes. "The earliest was nearly eighteen months ago," she responded, leaning on the desk for support. "It's Reyes. He fed off the animals until he felt safe in these environs."

"Bingo. It's not much, but if Danno and Mulder can turn something up at his house, we can bring him in and hold him," shot McGarrett, at last seeing some light at the end of much too dark a tunnel.

Just after lunch the phone rang to life, startling Scully out of her musings. McGarrett snatched it. "McGarrett." Pause. "I'll be right there." He punched a button and said, "Danno? You and Mulder get to Halala Street right away--let the others finish that search. Looks like we've got another one."

He set down the receiver, his blue eyes waiting for Dana's reaction. Her only words were, "Bring in the body. I'll assist Dr. Bergman."

"OK. I'll let you know any details as soon as I know them," he said, grabbing his jacket on his way to the door. She watched him go silently and resumed her research.

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

"All right, get these people back," barked McGarrett, inching his way through a crowd of onlookers. "What have we got?" he asked Williams.

"Another bleeder, Steve, like the second victim. Maybe another botched job," his second in command replied.

"Another throwaway," muttered Mulder, crouching close to the victim, an attractive blond woman. "It doesn't make sense."

"Why would he need to feed three times in less than twelve hours?" asked McGarrett. "Or was this supposed to be part of the tantrum he threw this morning?"

Mulder shook his head. "This guy hasn't lived as long as he has by making stupid moves. There's a reason to this," he mused.

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

The phone rang again some fifteen minutes after McGarrett left the office. Assuming it to be Steve, Scully picked up the receiver. "McGarrett's office."

"Scully? Listen, something has come up. Can you meet me at the Yawata Industries warehouse, over on Pacific Way?"

"Mulder, what's going on? I thought you were with the others."

"I was, but I've stumbled on to something. I can't talk now--just get over here."

"OK, I'll be right there." Scully grabbed her purse and checked for her gun. It wasn't the first time Mulder had sent up a flare like that and it wouldn't be the last, either. Dana knew from experience to come prepared. The gun was loaded and she shoved it back into her purse. She was past McGarrett's desk when she pulled up. Better say where I'm going so they don't put an all points out on me, she thought. She scribbled: "Went to meet Mulder at the Yawata warehouse, Pacific Way. 1:20 p.m." and scooted out the door.

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

The Yawata Industries warehouse joined a number of other buildings that fronted the east side of the Honolulu harbor. Dana eased the dark blue rental car into the massive parking area outside of Warehouse B in the Yawata complex and hopped out. In the confusion of the phone call, Scully hadn't thought of asking Mulder why he needed to meet her here, but she couldn't help but believe that he had made important progress in the case; his voice had sounded urgent. She tried several doors until she found one that was unlocked, and she stepped into the darkened building. Pausing to let her eyes grow accustomed to the gloomy interior, she instinctively felt inside her purse for her revolver and drew it. The warehouse was large and evidently little used. Stacks of boxes occupied the corner closest to Dana, and her eyes could now pick up the generous amount of cobwebs connecting the stacks. Looking upward, she could see streaks of cobwebs hanging down from the rafters like moss hung from bare trees. She shook the inclination to shudder and grasped her gun in both hands as she began her search for her partner. "Mulder?" she asked tentatively.

No sound answered her. The emptiness of the ground floor of the warehouse made searching it a quick and easy maneuver. Peering up the stairs, she saw that the second floor was better lit; she climbed the stairs determinedly, calling again for Mulder. There was little echo on the second floor, for it was cluttered with stack after stack of cardboard boxes, as well as pallets, floor fans and assorted pieces of old office furniture. A forklift sat as if left by its driver momentarily, its fork still raised in the upward position. Dana moved cautiously from stack to stack and row to row, scanning each for Mulder. A huge ventilating fan governed by the outside breeze presented a strobe-like effect on a clearing in the boxes half the size of a school gymnasium. It took Scully a moment to detect the figure standing in the clearing.

"Mulder! You could have said something," Dana said, relieved, striding toward the man. When he turned to meet her gaze, Scully's blood froze and her feet rooted to the spot. "Reyes," she barely croaked.

Reyes smiled faintly and indicated the clearing with the sweep of his hand. "I believe that this is the preferred location of the end of a chase in your entertainments. It seemed appropriate, for this is the end of the chase, Dana." The lighting was dim but it was enough for Dana to see his features clearly and she was shocked at what she saw. The sixty-ish man was gone; in his place was a younger man, his dark hair was untinged with gray and the skin on his face was uncreased. The change was so startling that it would have seemed impossible that this could be the same man had Scully not noticed the slightly hooked nose, and the eyes. The eyes. What is it about the eyes? She shook herself.

"You called me." She knew it was true before she spoke it. "Why?" Her gun was trained on him in the hope that all they had suspected to be true was wrong, that if this man tried to harm her, he would be as powerless against her bullets as any other.

"Yes," Reyes answered, walking slowly toward her, his eyes never leaving hers. "I called you hoping to clear up this regrettable misunderstanding." He smiled again, his unfathomable eyes swallowing up the distance between them.

"Freeze, Reyes!" Scully shouted. The sound of her voice pierced the silence of the warehouse. "Stop, or I'll shoot!" She backed away from him, watching him with wide eyes as he continued his advance.

His voice was soft and seductive. "Dana," he said, shaking his head. "You already know that there is no point in wasting your bullets." His accent was faint but discernible. "The time is slipping away from us."

Scully backed into a stack of boxes and nearly fell. "I said, 'freeze!'" she yelled. When he didn't relent, she emptied her clip at him. When the smoke cleared, her horrified eyes saw Reyes standing in the same spot, unhurt. The hair on the back of her neck bristled. She dropped her gun and attempted to turn to run, but her feet didn't obey. Run...RUN, she commanded herself, but she could only stand pressed against the boxes, terror-stricken. "My God," she whispered desperately.

"If you wish," he murmured, inclining his head. "I am called Reyes, after all."

"King," she whispered, still unable to move.

He was face-to-face with her now, his handsome face inscrutable. He spoke softly. "There comes a time when the pursuer meets with the pursued, and then he who has the most strength takes possession of the weaker. You are mine, Dana." The dark eyes that had once seemed benign suddenly took on a life of their own. They caught Dana's gaze and held it, penetrating not only her eyes, but invading and muddying her thought processes. "No," she mouthed silently, unable to break the bond between them. Slowly her thoughts faded, draining away helplessly. With all the strength she could muster, she brought her hand up to finger her cross necklace in a pathetic gesture.

Reyes spotted it immediately. "Ah, yes. The greatest lie of all. They were wrong, you see, all the books you read. A virgin cross has next to no power against me," he explained, almost apologetically. The catch of the chain failed, sending the necklace sliding down. Dana heard it vaguely when it hit the floor. "As I said before, you are mine, and I will have you."

He towered over her, his eyes still locked on hers, but his gaze changed yet again. Scully struggled to brace herself against whatever would come next, but she despaired in her inability to focus her thoughts. Reyes' breath was unnaturally sweet and warm against her face. The air in the warehouse had turned thick and oppressive, making it difficult to breathe anywhere else but in the vampire's shadow. Dazed and distracted, she didn't see his hand until his fingertips touched her chin. The shock of his skin meeting hers jolted her so hard that she thought she had been hit. Or had she? His slender fingers slid down her jawline and rested at the nape of her neck, leaving a trail of warmth where they touched. She squeezed her eyes closed in an attempt to shut out the sensations clouding her reason. Move away, she told herself, but again, she was powerless to fight. Even her will seemed to rebel, as she realized that she had taken a step still closer to him.

"Dana," he whispered, his fingers caressing her hair, "Dana, look at me."

The tears stung her eyes and slipped through her closed eyelids. "I can't...I can't." Scully's voice was weak and strained as she held on to her remaining will. Mother of God, help me! she prayed inwardly.

Reyes' grasp tightened in her hair to force her head upward. "Look at me," he commanded. Her last vestige of strength finally ebbing away, Dana opened her eyes. She was swept up immediately in the suffocating, invasive gaze that she met. Her ears roared and her mind reeled; she gasped at the sudden wave of dizziness that assaulted her. Reyes bent down and kissed her lips, slowly at first, and then more insistently. Unable, and suddenly unwilling to fight the orgasmic waves engulfing her, she surrendered herself to his kisses. She felt him brush the hair from her neck and opened her eyes in time to see his hungry eyes hovering over her.

The ventilation fan had masked the heavy footfalls that pounded the iron staircase to the rear of the room. Guns drawn, McGarrett and Mulder spilled onto the second floor of the warehouse, frantically searching for Scully. Mulder was the first to see her; he blanched at the sight of her held tightly in the vampire's arms. "He's gonna bite her!" he shouted wildly.

Reyes' face was livid as he regarded the intruders. An animal-like growl escaped with his breath, yet he still held on to Scully. Her head sagged against his chest and she gave no indication of seeing or hearing anything but Reyes.

McGarrett sized up the situation warily; he knew that Reyes would bolt at the first opportunity, but Scully's body was between the vampire and his own gun. He still didn't quite believe what he was seeing, but pragmatism told him to expect the worst of his fears. Bullets may not hurt Reyes, but they would kill Scully. Reyes was banking on one slip up, anything, to cause enough delay for him to disappear into the darkness. McGarrett couldn't let that happen.

Out of the corner of his eye, McGarrett saw Mulder sheathe his gun. He darted over to a broken pallet and heaved at the boards, freeing one of them. Stepping on the side of it, he twisted and stomped until it broke again but sideways, revealing a sharply splintered end. Mulder glared at Reyes and began advancing. Reyes growled again, but knowing the superiority of Mulder's weapon, he shoved Scully toward her partner in a panic-filled attempt to get away.

Mulder and McGarrett gave chase through the stacks of boxes and furniture. The vampire seemed able to elude them effortlessly, whether on the ground or up on top of the boxes. A squeak from some metal shelving caused Mulder to glance up in time to see Reyes perched atop a stack to his right. Mulder barreled into the stack holding the vampire and toppled the boxes to the floor. Reyes shook himself, and looking up, he saw Mulder poised, holding the stake above his head, ready to strike. He plunged it down, but Reyes spun to his side. The stake sunk a few inches into the vampire's back.

Mulder stood dumbfounded, amazed at his miss. Reyes smiled at him, slowly rose to his feet, the stake still sticking out of his back. "My compliments on your knowledge, but your technique...could use improvement," he said. Once more he felt his dominance over a potential victim, and he advanced a step. Mulder's throat suddenly went dry. He knew Reyes was several steps away, and yet his eyes appeared to be right in front of him. Mulder was paralyzed, unable even to reach for his gun. The vampire smiled again, revealing large, white teeth. Mulder stood motionless, helpless, as the vampire stepped nearer. Reyes opened his mouth in anticipation of the coming feast, unaware of McGarrett behind him. McGarrett drew back the board he was holding and swung it as hard as he could. The stake in the vampire's back was plunged all the way through to the front of his chest, rupturing his heart. Reyes fell forward to the ground, dead.

Mulder's knees gave way and he sat down hard. He managed to croak, "Throws right, bats right." McGarrett smiled grimly, turning to see Dana's approach. He pulled her protectively to him; she was pale and trembling. All turned their eyes to Reyes lying before them. His appearance of youthfulness had vanished and he looked again like the older man they had first encountered. Then he changed further from an old man to an ancient one. In a few more seconds, there was little more to be seen; his dust scattered in the breeze from the fan.

Thoroughly shaken, the three descended the stairs in search of the daylight.

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

"So you still haven't told me, Scully." Mulder said, flipping through the Honolulu yellow pages absently.

"Told you what, Mulder?" Dana said wearily, wrestling with her overpacked suitcase. "Here, would you help me close this?"

Mulder obediently sat on the suitcase, enabling Scully to latch it. "You know, all those legends about vampires and their sexual prowess. You think he'd have trouble finding a date for the prom?" he smirked.

Dana was silent, intent upon loading her carry-on case. How could she tell him that she could hear Esteban Reyes' voice when all was quiet. He was dead, and yet he spoke to her still. Simpatico, he had said.

"It's probably a case of wishful thinking," Mulder continued, oblivious to her inattention. "I mean, there really is such a thing as a sexual vampire, an incubus, that feeds on the energy produced by the sexual act, but I think most of the fictional literature about blood-sucking vampires mixes up other species in it. The best of both worlds," he observed.

Scully glared at him and reached for the robe he was sitting on. "Don't you have some packing to do?" she asked him.

"Who, me? I just came with a toothbrush," he replied carelessly. "Hey, does that stuff really work?" He indicated a jar of Oil of Olay.

Dana slammed her hand on the travel case. "Mulder!"

He grinned, rising. "I'll see you at the airport," he quipped, and walked out the door.

Fifteen minutes later, a knock at the door interrupted Dana's call for a cab. She opened the door to admit McGarrett, beige-suited, and for once, looking rested. "Can I drive you to the airport?" he asked, leaning against the doorframe.

"Thanks," Scully smiled, picking up her carry-on bag.

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

McGarrett was quiet for most of the drive, but Scully was grateful for his help in carrying her overstuffed suitcase. After checking in, they walked to the departing gate. Scully saw Mulder, but he kept his distance, enabling them some final words.

After staring at the parked airplane for some minutes, McGarrett finally broke his silence. "I guess I'm still trying to come to terms with what the case meant. I can't accept it, Dana. I don't know if I ever will." He looked at her intently.

Dana chose her words carefully. "It isn't easy for me, either, Steve. I'd be a lot more comfortable if the unexplainable was explained."

He smiled and nodded slightly, narrowing his eyes in the sunlight. "I don't know what to say, Doctor Scully. I'm just a cop--not a psychiatrist, not a priest--just a cop."

"I think you're the last person I'd accuse of being 'just a cop,'" Dana countered, smiling. "You're much more than that."

He looked at her quizzically, eyebrows raised. She smoothed the hair behind her ear and stepped closer. "I haven't thanked you yet for saving my life, and Mulder's. Neither one of us would have made it out of that warehouse, I feel sure of it." She reached up and hurriedly kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you."

McGarrett squeezed her arm warmly. "Are you OK?" he asked, sensing her discomfort.

"I saw him again last night, every time I closed my eyes. I want to forget his face," she said, fighting back tears.

McGarrett drew her close. "You will, Dana. It will all fade, and then you'll forget." He held her at arm's length. "So, when are you going to kick off and finally take that Hawaiian vacation?" he asked playfully.

She laughed, shaking her head. "Some day, I hope, before I'm too old to enjoy it."

"Come and see me when you do," he said. The other passengers were boarding, and he led Dana to the stairs. A shaft of sunlight made her red hair sparkle; Scully wondered at his enigmatic smile. He grasped her hand, poured her cross necklace in it, and closed her fingers around it. "Aloha," he said softly, dropping her a kiss. McGarrett turned on his heels and strode into the crowd.

"Just try and tell me you haven't been angling for that since you hit this island," came a voice in Dana's ear. She rolled her eyes at Mulder and did her best school marm look of disapproval. She noticed the bag at his side. "I thought you said you didn't have any luggage," she said accusingly.

"Only a carry-on. I have a big toothbrush," he said, heaving it forward.

"What is in that thing?" Scully laughed. "A library?"

Mulder looked sheepish. "I brought a few things to read, yeah. I had no way of knowing if there was really a case here or not."

"You'll never get that thing in the overhead, Mulder," she pointed out as he began to outdistance her across the tarmac. "Mulder...!"

 

PAU

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

 

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