Blood Ties 10
Blood Ties 10: A Dish Served Cold (16/?)
By Dawn

Asheville Memorial Hospital
11:47 a.m.

"Yes, sir. I'd appreciate it if you'd continue to keep me informed...I'll call you as soon as I know more...Yes, I'll tell him...Thank you, sir."

Scully replaced the receiver on the cradle and turned, visibly startling when confronted by Mark Preston looming at her back. He held up his hands, palm out, with a sheepish grin.

"Sorry. I thought you heard me walk up."

"I was a bit preoccupied." With a clipped nod and a smile, Scully passed the phone to a nurse in rose-colored scrubs. After several pointed stares, she'd traded the convenience of her cell for the phone located at the nurses' station.

Mark nodded, a line appearing between his brows. "Yeah. Look, I couldn't help overhearing some of your conversation just now, and..." The line intensified. "It sounded as if you're not planning to come to Raleigh."

Scully resisted the urge to drop her eyes. "That's right."

"I see."

"Do you?" When Mark's only answer was folded arms and thinned lips, she plowed on. "My partner--my husband--is lying in the ICU, half dead from a gunshot wound. He needs me."

"And what about Grey? What about what he needs? Or doesn't that count?"

Scully controlled her temper--barely. "Of course it counts. Why else would I have arranged for an Assistant Director of the FBI to oversee the operation tonight? Despite what you may think, I didn't easily arrive at the decision to remain behind. Grey is family to me; I'm just as worried about him as you are. But my place has to be here, with Mulder. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to check on him. I promised Kristen I'd be..."

Preston caught hold of her arm just above the elbow. When she rounded on him, he released it as if scalded, shoving both hands into his pockets. "I...ah...I'm sorry I came on so strong. I know you're doing what you can for Grey. It's just that... I've seen what this guy is capable of. I've examined too many crime scenes, ID'd too many victims. The thought that Grey..." His jaw snapped shut and he glared off down the hallway.

Scully released a long, slow puff of air. "I understand. But please believe me when I say that I would trust Assistant Director Skinner with my life."

"I believe you, Dana. But I don't think that's the real issue. What I'd like to know, is would you trust him with Fox's life?" When several seconds passed and she still struggled to answer, he nodded. "That's what I thought."

He'd taken several steps toward the elevators before Scully found her voice. "Mark..."

He waved a hand over his shoulder without turning around. "I need a cup of coffee before I check in with Henderson. He's going to be extremely pissed about your little coup."

She didn't stay to watch him board the elevator. Irritation and anxiety, laced with a hefty dose of guilt, stiffened her spine and quickened her pace. When she stepped into Mulder's cubicle, a nurse was just removing a blood pressure cuff from his arm. Kristen had vacated the chair beside Mulder's bed to allow the woman room to maneuver.

Though countless questions lurked in Kristen's eyes, she merely said, "I was just coming to get you. He woke up a few minutes ago and he's been asking for you."

"He's doing better--pressure's up and temperature's dropped a degree," the nurse said, stepping aside to give Scully her first glimpse of heavy-lidded hazel eyes. She returned the chart to the hook on the end of the bed, adding in a tone for Scully's ears only, "He's a bit agitated; see if you can calm him. I'll be back with another shot of morphine in about five minutes."


She was already moving toward the bed, Kristen's mute interrogation and the nurse's words of caution eclipsed by the need in Mulder's voice.


Fingers still too warm, eyes glazed, yet Mulder latched onto her hand with unexpected strength. "He has Grey, Scully."

"Shhh. I know, love."

"Have to...have to find him. Stop him before..."

"We're doing everything we can, Mulder. We're pretty certain he's taking Grey back to Raleigh. Skinner is putting together a team as we speak."

"He's smart, Scully...too smart. Can't...can't underestimate...always step ahead, like before… He's…"

"Not this time. This time we'll be ready for him." Scully glanced at the monitors, frowning. "You need to calm down, Mulder. Rest. Skinner will..."

"No!" His fingers bore down until the small bones in her hand ground together and his restless movements intensified. With a mixture of irritation, amusement, and disbelief, Scully realized he was attempting to get out of bed. "My brother. 'M not trusting...not even Skinner..."

Weak as a kitten, even his bullheaded determination couldn't prevent her from holding him down with a firm hand on his chest. "Mulder, stop. You're in no shape to get out of this bed; you'll only wind up tearing stitches."

Mulder abruptly went still and the look of sheer emotional agony in his eyes knocked the air from her lungs like a punch to the stomach. " go."

"Mulder..." She shook her head, fumbled for the words to refuse him. "I can't leave, you need..."

"Grey needs...needs you more. Scully, he...he gave up...without a fight. For me." His voice, already paper-thin, trembled and broke. "You have go."

With impeccable timing, the nurse chose that moment to glide back into the cubicle, stainless steel tray in hand and a slight crimp of disapproval in her lips. She emptied the contents of a syringe into Mulder's IV, glancing pointedly at the wall clock on her way out the door.

Mulder ignored the intrusion, never taking his eyes from Scully's face. His whole body thrummed with grief and exhaustion. "Please, Scully…go."

"Shh. All right, I'll go." She moved to sit on the bed, cradling his face in her hands. "I'll go, Mulder. I'll do everything in my power to make sure Grey comes back to us safe and sound."

"You don' understand…somethin'…need tell..." The morphine was obviously hitting him hard, slurring his words and dilating his eyes until only a thin ring of hazel remained.

"I do understand. You need to stop fighting the meds and relax. Deep breaths, nice and slow." One hand drifted up to smooth damp hair back from his forehead while she continued to murmur reassurances.

His eyes fluttered shut, then popped open. "No…no, Scully. Have to tell…tell who..."

"We already know, Mulder. We realize he's the same serial killer Grey almost apprehended five years ago. We understand how dangerous he is, and we're taking every precaution." She carded her fingers through his hair, stroking, soothing. "Skinner has his best people on this. Sleep, love. We'll take care of Grey."

Mulder mumbled something unintelligible but his eyes drifted shut and remained that way. Within moments he'd dropped into an uneasy doze, face pinched by pain and worry even in slumber.

By the time Scully had carefully extricated herself from his side, Kristen was already out in the hallway, her face a study in conflicting emotions.

"Did you mean what you said? Are you coming to Raleigh?"

Scully watched through the glass as a nurse--a different nurse--proceeded to hang another unit of blood.

"I promised, didn't I?"

Kristen's sigh of relief was audible. "Dana, I know how difficult it must be for you to leave him, but..."

"It is difficult. Terribly difficult." She spoke slowly, carefully. "But there's really not much I can do here right now. I'm of more use to Grey, and Mulder, in Raleigh. No matter how much I might want to remain here, I have to put aside my personal feelings."

Kristen's expression turned guarded. "Why do I get the feeling you're trying to tell me something?"

"Kristen, you're not a field agent. You must know Skinner will never let you anywhere near that parking garage."

"I could at least be nearby. Close enough that when you do get to him... Dana, don't ask this. You of all people understand."

"It seems a fair trade. I'll watch out for Grey in Raleigh, and you keep an eye on Mulder for me while I'm gone."


"I can't do the job in Raleigh if my head is back here, worrying about him. You want to help Grey? Help me. Please."

Kristen's face twisted into a scowl, but the glaze of tears in her eyes betrayed her. "All right! I'll stay. But so help me God, Dana, if anything happens to him and I'm not there..."

"Only two things will happen in that garage tonight. A killer will be apprehended and Grey will walk away, alive." Scully met Kristen's gaze without flinching. "So help me God."

"I hope you're right." Kristen turned to look at Mulder, her voice dropping to little more than a whisper. "For all our sakes."

Pine View Motel
Burlington, NC
1:33 p.m.

"Sit here. I'm gonna get us a room." Jake unlocked the cuff on Grey's right wrist and fastened it to the steering wheel. He got out of the car, then leaned in the open door, pulling aside his coat to reveal the gun tucked in his waistband. "I'll be watching through that window. You try to get loose, signal anyone--hell, you even blink wrong and the guy behind the desk won't be coming home to his family tonight. Got it?"

Grey's lip curled. "Yeah. I got it."

He watched Jake saunter into the shabby motel office, greeting the proprietor with a brilliant and completely insincere smile. One tug on the cuffs told him escape was futile, and he noticed Jake had positioned himself so that he could still see the car as he paid for the room. Cursing under his breath he slumped down in the seat, wincing at the pressure on his already bruised wrist.

Fox's pale, anguished face appeared before his eyes, and he squeezed them shut against a traitorous flood of tears. He wondered if his brother was still alive. Blood loss, fever, infection--it was unlikely he'd survive for long alone and without the medical treatment he so desperately needed.

"You promised you'd never leave me, said you were here to stay."

Oh, God, Fox. I did it for you. You have to know that.

The car door opened and Jake slid behind the wheel. "Number 13," he said, jiggling the room key before proceeding to transfer the cuff from the steering wheel back to Grey's wrist. "Last one on the right, around the corner. Told him we'd been driving all night and needed a real quiet place to catch some Zs."

Grey stared out the window as Jake navigated the car to a parking spot in front of their room. As indicated, the entrance was secluded, far from the few occupied rooms.

"You're awful quiet," Jake sneered. "What happened to the cop who tried to talk my ear off for the last ten hours?"

"Maybe he finally figured out you're not gonna say anything worth hearing."

The smug amusement vanished from Jake's face. "Oh, you're gonna hear me. Everyone's gonna hear me."

He got out of the car, shut the door with a bang, and circled around to open Grey's. Dropping a coat over Grey's bound hands, Jake motioned with the gun carefully concealed by his own jacket. "Move it."

Dark paneled walls and heavy brocade bedspreads, the room reeked of stale cigarette smoke and mildew. Grey stood just inside the doorway, nearly swaying with exhaustion, while Jake engaged the locks and drew the drapes. More than 48 hours had passed since he'd gotten any real sleep, and his brain and body were beginning to shut down. He stared, hypnotized, at the nearest double bed.

"Lay down."

Jake's hard shove in the small of his back sent Grey tumbling face first onto the mattress with a soft grunt. He could muster little more than a token protest as the killer efficiently cuffed him to one of the solid pine bedposts.

"It's still not too late to stop this. If you turned yourself in, it would look good on your record."

Jake pasted on an expression of exaggerated interest. "Hey! Why didn't I think of that? I'll bet letting a cop go and turning myself in would make them forget all about all those other dead people. Probably get off with just a slap on the wrist, huh?"

"No. But it might mean the difference between life in prison and the electric chair."

"Yeah? Well, I think I'll just take door number three, Monty--none of the above. I've done time and it was an experience I don't intend to repeat."

"You've been in prison?"

"Don't look so surprised. What did you think I was doing the past few years, traveling abroad? After the night you nearly caught me doing that doctor, I figured I'd better get out of town for a while. I got dragged into a bar fight down in Florida and wound up cutting a guy pretty bad. Bam! Assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, destruction of public property..."

"Even prison is better than..."

"Like you'd know? When was the last time you were on the wrong side of the bars, Detective? You know, I cursed you every single day I spent in that hellhole."


"If it wasn't for you, I never would've had to leave town and I never would've gotten into that mess. I had a good thing going until you stuck your nose in where it didn't belong."

Grey struggled to raise himself on one elbow, ignoring the bite of the cuffs. "A good thing? You sick bastard, you were murdering people!"

Jake flopped onto the adjoining bed and laced his hands behind his head. "We've been through this. I already explained why they have to die."

"Right. Poor Jake, always dealt the rotten hand, never gets what he deserves," Grey jeered. "If you didn't like where your life was going, you had nobody to blame but yourself. Maybe if you'd done something to turn it around, instead of whining and complaining..."

In one swift move Jake rolled off the bed and buried his fingers in Grey's hair, yanking his head back until his neck screamed in agony. "You think I didn't try? I went the community college route, tried to take classes at night. I was tired after working all day, too tired to deal with lectures and homework. Besides, it would've taken way too long to get a degree that way. I wanted more. I deserved it all."

He reversed the motion of his hand, pressing Grey's face into the mattress until he couldn't breathe. "I'm done talking. Now shut the hell up and let me get some sleep, or I'll gag you."

The fingers disappeared and Grey managed to turn his head, gulping air like a drowning man. The muscles in his neck sent bright shards of pain down his spine and the edges of his vision wavered in and out of focus. Jake ignored his distress, stretching back out on the bed and closing his eyes. Within minutes his breathing was slow and even.

Eventually, Grey's respiration eased and the pain in his neck settled down to a dull throb. Trying to free himself from the handcuffs only succeeded in bloodying his wrist, and Jake had been careful to remove from his reach anything that might possibly serve as a weapon. Energy depleted, Grey could only attempt to find a position that would spare both his raw wrist and aching neck.

He didn't want to admit there was no way out of the desperate situation in which he found himself. He didn't want to wonder if he'd done the right thing back at the cabin. Most of all, he didn't want to sleep with a cold-blooded killer not five feet from his side, but his body had other ideas. His last thought, as he lost the battle with leaden eyelids, was to hope Fox was warm and safe.

Continued in Chapter 17